Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Need a quick home-made baby gift?? Receiving blankets to the rescue!

An online friend lamented that she just heard a good friend is having grand-twins due in November.  She has to make quilts, but two in that time frame????  Here's my advise - based on experience, of course!!

Make a set of flannel receiving blankets for each newborn for the shower or new baby presents - thus, buying you time to make a crib quilt.

For one blanket(although I usually buy enough to make at least 2.)  I buy 1 1/3 yards of two flannels (front and back) - JoAnn's flannels are pretty darn cute and usually on sale or coupon-eligible!  Prewash.   (Empty dryer lint-catcher often!!) 

Layer right sides together; smooth or press.  Trim top edge with rotary cutter.  Fold down that edge diagonally. Mark with your ruler where to cut to make a square blanket.  Cut.  If you're making two, repeat and cut the second one at the same time.  Your edges are already together and the flannels are sticking to each other, easy, peasey!

Sew each pair of flannels together, leaving an opening to turn.  Turn - I found that a wooden knitting needle is great for creating edges and turning the corners.  Slip stitch the opening closed.  I top-stitch starting in one corner all the way around on the edge.  Then arbitrarily pick a place easy to follow to top-stitch again inside 4-6 inches away from edge.  On my Janome I follow the place where the free-arm splits.  Wherever, find a mark/guide/line on your machine that's easy for you to line up consistently. This second top-stitching seems to keep the blanket from getting too wonky - just a simple shake out of the dryer lines everything up again.

On my card I write:  Enjoy these blankets:  Wash and dry with cottons  - perfect for swaddling, tummy time or protection from those really big burps!

These blankies are simple and easy.  But they're a big hit every time.  And used too!!

When I'm "on my game" I have a few blankies stockpiled ready for the happy news!!

Enjoy!  doni @ Oregon coast

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oh NO !! NOT Winter settling in yet - please not???

I'm not ready!!  After all, I live with a golfer!  Or in the rainy season a grumpy bear pacing thru our too little space!!  And no, I won't tell you his description of me!!  But it's time to make a plan for the winter.  Quilting is a good hobby - indoors in bad weather, anywhere in good!  It's just a case of getting organized - in my mind - so I don't just sit and moss over!!

I've been quilting for 39 years (I started just before my son was born - so easy to keep track) but that number awes me!!  I was really active at the beginning - but I find I'm slowing down.  It doesn't seem possible I would do less after retiring???  What's up with that!  

But my body doesn't last as long!  Good old arthritis and dimming eye sight.  And I'm pickier??? If a project isn't going right - it goes straight into time-out!!  How long it's there - well, who knows!!  

My UFO project is "Birds of a Feather" by Barb Adams and Alma Allen???? The date embroidered on my top is 2007 so was probably started as a BOM in 2005 or earlier.  It's been in time-out since I moved to Oregon (almost 6 years)  Oh, it comes out with each new UFO challenge to be registered!  I'm just not happy with the handquilting.  AND let's be honest, fusible machine blanket stitch applique - well, it doesn't seem to be wearing as well as I hoped - and I haven't even used it yet!!  BUT I'm shaming myself into finishing it THIS YEAR!!!  It's out by the couch and I got a new LED light from IKEA last month.  It seems to give me enough light to quilt by, and doesn't blind my DH while we watch tv.  AND I've quilted on it for 3 nights now - that's geometrically more attention than the poor UFO has had since, well, I don't want to say when!!

Quilted Moose in Gretna NE set it up as a BOM, using Jo Morton fabrics!!  Ooooo!!  Debbie Roberts has the best eye for putting together kits and long term projects.  It's a gift!!  Seriously, I don't even like applique!!  And I bought into it!!  I made it my own - when don't I??  And changed the layout, designed a signature block, redid the border and block layout.  It really deserves to be finished, doesn't it???

Why isn't it finished??  I've lost a little of my mojo!  AAACK!  I've said it out loud!!  

In my 37 years of this obsession - errr - hobby, I've had a few dry spells and found my way out of one of them by picking up a baggie of scraps and deciding to just finish that baggie - what could I make with it?  Now it WAS a gallon baggie ... filled with 'beach' fabrics I'd picked up at garage sales, guild flea markets and etc.  I ended up making 3 baby quilts from it.  And of course, I added stash fabrics to it as I went. Even ended up with a pint size baggie of scraps left!!  Good Grief!!  I love the quilt I made for my latest GC arrival and it was so much fun to give the parents a few tops to pick from!!  What a concept!  

But you know what that means???  Who can even count the number of quilts in our stashes???  Who even has the time to do the math!!!

I love quilting while I'm actively doing it.  So why is it like pulling teeth to get myself into the sewing room to work on something not so inspiring??  We live in a small condo, the kind that if a project is spread out, it looks out of control??  Or it seems like that to me.  

My small sewing room is more of a staging area and DH sleeps in there in the middle of the night - he has insomnia and often is just getting back to sleep when I'm getting up for water aerobics.  He has a better chance of falling to sleep if he's not in the midst of the preparations to get a non-morning person out the door!!  That bed is the only uncovered flat surface AND it has to be cleared every day!!!  AAACK!

Moving on to the other problem, of course, is to get the projects quilted.  My body isn't really built to machine quilt - or as I like to call it, wrestle alligators thru the harp of my machine.  I even got certified on my LQS's long arm and worked on that off and on for over a year.  Not the best - I seemed to make the owner nervous about the machine not working right.  And it seemed that I broke the thread way too much.  She assured me it wasn't my fault, I was always following someone who had messed with the tension ... but so maddening when you're just learning and it's not going right. Felt like a klutz!  You probably need to work on a longarm every week, not just monthly ... but that's not happening.  I never even got good enough to do the type of work I like to do!!  Bummer!

So, enough of celebrating the "Why aren't I quilting more" problem!?!  My plan of attack this year is to make cuddle quilts.  If I'm taking a class, I'm planning on making it into a baby quilt.  

Last week, I found a picture on Pinterest that fascinated me - so I'm reproducing it (twice). One cuddle quilt for the Brookings Quilt Guild and one for my Newport guild. It's simple - and I love quilts that the piecing does all the work.  Not one for all the open spaces for clever quilting - I want my patchwork to shine!  This has grey "happy blocks".  I'm not a fan of grey but figured I probably had enough in my stash to do this!  AND I DID, of course!!  The alternate block is a bright 5 pt star on a white background.  Simple and I should be able to quilt it with my walking foot.  I'll keep you posted!

So if you are wondering where the Joy went?  Wondering how to get busy again and love it. I guess I'm encouraging you to go into the sewing space, pick a baggie, box or crate of something that looks interesting and just mull it over.  What does it want to be??  They say that working just 15 minutes a day in your space will get that mojo going.  Give it a try - what do we have to lose??  Pinterest, facebook, email will be there when we're done!!!  So will the laundry, dishes and housework!  

I adore designing and gathering [and buying] fabrics and making those design choices.  Quilting and binding, not so much fun!!  A fellow Stashbuster allows herself to design/start a new project after finishing two UFOs!!  I'm not very good at delayed reward systems!  But surely a little carrot and a stick never hurt either!!

Let's report back next week!!