Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
of my sewing room. I've had a couple of comments on the pictures of my sewing room so I thought I'd show a more detailed look. I tried to go around the room and 'connect the dots' so to speak, I wish there was a way to see it as a whole! Unfortunately it is still more cluttered than I'd like and pictures seem to make it look worse. I am always trying to come up with improvements that will reduce the clutter and organize it even more, but space is an issue. It's one of the reasons I've been focusing on scrap quilts and using my stash....to clear out some space to contain other items.
Here is the view of one wall. We have a cathedral ceiling in this area so it is a high wall. I hang quilts and pictures here.
The cabinet below with the quilt on it has storage, which right now contains some paperwork, etc, that belongs to my husband. He has once again started stacking things on top (this used to
be a pile of magazines and junk mail...it drove me crazy!) but usually when we have company over he clears it off and it stays clear for a bit before he starts in again with the convenience of putting things there when he comes in the door.
Someday I hope to get him to clear the bottom section out as it would be a perfect place to store bolts of fabric, packages of batting and large stencils. For now, I'm glad that for the most part he keeps his stuff downstairs in the little office area I made for him!
Moving clockwise around the room, this is the 2nd wall. It faces our front yard, so has a nice window, you can just see the door on the left. My ironing board stays there most of the time, when we have company I take it down and the dresser in that space has knick knacks and candles on top so it's decorative as well as functional. The small view is a better look at the lower part of that wall. I keep basted quilts in the bottom drawers, along with my stencils and a few other larger things. The small drawers are actually a bit of a catch all at the moment, though soon I'll be going through those to weed out and organize.
Continuing around clockwise, this is the longest wall in the room. It measures about 13 feet and the upper shelf goes all the way across the room. The cabinet to the left holds thread, it was the leg of a very interesting sewing machine cabinet that was mounting on the wall when this room was still used as a living room.
You can see some of my storage boxes and baskets and my combination pressing surface and design wall. It took two pictures to get a good view of this wall, you can see the continuation as
the pressing surface is all the way on the left of this next picture. You can see that I have a lot of storage! The area by the painted boxes is my cutting area, there is a better picture of that next. Ideally I'd like to replace a lot of the miscellaneous storage up top with more of the plastic boxes, but can't afford the expense right now...and really some things don't fit well into those boxes. I mull this over often, trying to come up with a way to neaten up this area. In the meantime, I know where everything is and it's all easily accessible. Here is a better view of the
cutting area, one of my favorite spots in the room. I try to keep this area open so I can easily cut when needed. The only thing that's difficult in this area is cutting large cuts of fabric as I can't lay them out nicely. I have a cutting mat that is a bit smaller and is stored in one of my travel bags, it can be laid out on the sewing table when I need to work with larger cuts.
Just to the left is a couple more storage boxes, the surface of those has some baskets with various items that I want kept at my fingertips.
Moving clockwise again is this little wall that denotes the 'end' of my sewing area and beginning of the dining area. Our open layout means that I can be working in my sewing area and still supervise schoolwork, tend to dinner preparations (the kitchen is around the corner to the left) and really supervise nearly any activity from right in my sewing room. There is more storage, a pegboard and you can just barely see a little end table that sits next to my frame where I store my purse (on the bottom shelf), can put my quilting supplies when I need to move the quilt in the frame, and in the drawer I store a roll of small bags that line my wastebasket.
On the side of the short wall is my bookshelf. This holds most of my quilting books and the cookbooks I use the most. My frame sits in front of the bookshelf and just up and to the right is the computer, where I play DVDs while I hand quilt. I love this frame, it works as easily as a hoop. The visible wooden rectangle is what holds the quilt in place, I just lift that off, move the quilt and replace the piece and I'm ready to go again.
And finally my sewing table, in the middle of the room. My sewing machine is up most of the time, it gets taken down when we have friends for dinner (kids eat in the dining area, grownups in my sewing room), and when I need to baste a quilt or use my pressing board. I spend a lot of time here as it's not only my sewing area, it's really like an office for me, I run my house from this room, do all the planning at the table and can supervise both indoor and outdoor activites from it quite easily.
While initially I told my husband that there was no way I could use this room because I couldn't keep it company ready all the time, I'm so glad he talked me into it, I don't know what I'd do without it!
After spending this time showing off my sewing room, I'm anxious to get to work! The strip project is calling me, I'm at the pinning stage again, and the frame quilt is getting far enough along that I'm really getting excited about finishing it. This week is fairly quiet in our house, so there should be a lot of time for stitching. So far today the weather is nice and I'm planning on a fire in the firepit tonight with some hand quilting. It's supposed to be HOT the rest of the week, though, so I'll be hiding in the a/c, quilting the days away.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
We've had a busy few days in our house. Yesterday our youngest son turned 7 and his birthday fun started over the weekend. My husband (Mike) works two jobs, one of them second shift so he's not here in the evening during the week. Birthday meals and other fun is often moved to the weekend so we can all be together for it.
Mike took off Monday night from work and the fun began Sunday afternoon. He tries to take the kids camping at least once during the summer (I stay home for this, I'm not a camping type of girl. Mike tells people my idea of roughing it is the Holiday Inn without a pool, LOL) but with a couple of the kids working and his schedule it can be tough to work out.
So we set up our tent in the backyard. We all went to a local state park and hiked the trails. Ruthie fell alseep on the short jaunt from one part of the park to another, so the girls and I visited in the car while the boys all fished for a bit. We ordered a pizza on the way home for a quick snack and then our older kids left for some softball games. Afterwards they all slept in the tent.
Monday, Mike took the available kids fishing, we barbequed hamburgers when they got home, they went to the last softball game and they slept in the tent again.
Yesterday was the actual birthday, we met up with Bren and some of her kids as today is her youngest son's birthday. We took the 6 of them (4 of mine, 2 of hers) to Chuck E Cheese for lunch and games...what fun! Last night our older kids had a few friends over, played games Lucas could play and they had birthday cake with him. He really enjoyed his 3 day birthday bash!
Friday, July 20, 2007
Today is going to be one of those days. While I would really love to spend the whole day quilting, I have a few other things that really should be done.
One of them is freezing beans from our ample garden. I do NOT have a green thumb and don't particularly like to work in the dirt. My husband, on the other hand, could make rocks grow and has passed that down to our middle son. Jonathan is the one pressing each spring to work on the garden, he does a lot of the planning on what to plant and where it should go (with his Dad's help.) He's right there along side Mike as they turn the soil and plant the seeds. Jonathan waters daily when it doesn't rain and does some of the weeding (this isn't his favorite thing to do, I liken it to basting and binding for quilters.)
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
is my husband, Mike. He's amazing. He talked me into using our living room as my sewing room because he wanted to take over my sewing room and use it as an office.
I told him "no way I WORK in there every single day and couldn't keep it looking neat enough to be the first room you see entering the house."
He said "it's our house, we should use the rooms how we want to."
Though I liked the idea, I continued to protest. I was afraid that this would, at some point, become a bone of contention. I should have known better. I've always done some sort of needlework, spend a fair amount of time at it, and had spots in the house where my current projects resided.
I told him I needed storage. He built me shelves. We started to buy storage boxes, I collected baskets. As my collection of notions, tools and fabrics grew, the shelves filled up and stacking began. Still he did not complain.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
My sewing room is in tornado mode as I get ready for my quilting bee tonight.
I meet once a month with a fun group of ladies, most of whom I knew from guild years ago. I had quit the guild when our 7 year old was born, for a variety of reasons, and just after our youngest was born I ran into one of the bee ladies in JoAnn's. She invited me to this bee and told me all about a retreat they do once a year. I was so excited!
Some months I bring handwork along, which is much easier than transpoting everything to machine sew. In fact, until I got my machine case recently, I rarely took my machine anywhere as it was too difficult to safely transport.
Monday, July 16, 2007
The game was held at a local park, each team set up an area to grill and hang out together. It was a warm, sunny day, with just enough clouds to provide a break from the sun occasionally (though by the end of the day, we were sitting in the shade of our son's truck!) First was the picnic, then a homerun derby and finally the big game.
A wonderful time was had by all, we came home tired and happy. As the oldest 3 went off with their friends, the rest of us settled in for the evening.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
but it's a good problem. Where in the world do I put all these quilts?
I give a lot of them away, but have found myself in a lull where there aren't any weddings or babies. Usually I make these specifically for the person anyway, though I have found a couple of finished tops in my stack that will make great Christmas gifts this year.
Truth be told, I like that I'm able to stockpile quilts right now. The days will come all too soon when I have married children and then grandchildren and I'll have many more beds to keep covered in quilts.
I have a friend who wistfully tells me that she wishes she had the legacy to leave for her children that I do. Most of the time I feel forgettable, so there is something comforting in thinking that there will be tangible evidence that I existed.
So what do you do with your quilts? I've shown some of mine that are hanging on the wall, I have a table runner on my breakfast bar, a quilt on the table by our door. Generally, though, I make BIG quilts. Everyone in the house has at least two quilts of their own. There are quilts on all of our beds. During the winter months, I have two on the bed and two extra folded at the bottom, one for me and one for my husband should we need extra covers.
I have a second rack as well. This one our son made for a school competition in metals. I'll bet they never saw a quilt rack in that competition before! His friend's father is a plumber and supplied them with the necessary tools, supplies and hints to make their projects. This sits in our family room and holds the quilts that the kids and their friends are able to use. I just might have the only quilt rack made out of plumbers pipe!
Friday, July 13, 2007
I have to be in the mood to piece. I LOVE my sewing machine (I've had this one for a year and a half) but the tedium of making sure pieces are placed correctly and the seam allowance is maintained is sometimes more than I have the patience to do.
Having a few different choices makes this process easier for me. I choose the method for each top that will provide the least amount of aggravation and the surest results.
Hand Piecing is, believe it or not, all I did for the first 4 years that I quilted. The thing I like about it is the precision. Perfect corners and points, even set in seams were sewn with ease. It's portable and only a few supplies are needed to take a hand piecing project along. It's obviously much more time consuming than machine piecing.
I'm sure that a vast majority of piecing is done by machine. There are a few notions that can make the process more accurate and enjoyable for some. For a while, it seemed paper piecing was very popular. Is it still? I really don't know, I do know that quite a few pattern books are out there for this method as well as individual patterns with preprinted paper foundations. There are also kits available like the one shown at right. These cute little kits were made and sold by a friend of mine. She still has an Ebay store where she sells them, the link can be found here. While searching for buttons for my daughter to use, I found these little kits. The fabrics are all cut and ready and perfect for a day when I feel like sewing without all the prepwork. I don't do a lot of paper piecing, but for miniatures it can't be beat. It seems I can't sew those little pieces together without difficulty, paper piecing makes this a much less painful process.
One thing I use a lot of is triangle paper. Whenever there are multiple half square triangle units with the same fabrics I use this and it's a lifesaver for me. While it means a few extra steps, I like the precision and there is no stretching of the piecing like one can sometimes get piecing/pressing triangles.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I often hear people say they don't like to mark, hate to baste, can't stand to bind....it seems to be these steps in the process that trip people up. I've learned to like them all. Granted, I still have to 'be in the mood' for marking and basting, but I've learned to enjoy them for what they are, necessary steps to move on in the process.
Usually I don't have a huge amount of marking. I outline quilt a lot of the elements and long ago learned to 'eyeball' the 1/4 inch. This takes a little practice and you don't have to be perfect! I mark bigger areas as larger areas get motifs quilted in them. Borders usually have to be marked as well. I sometimes will work around design elements in printed borders, but this is rare.
I've tried just about every marking tool out there! It took a lot of trial and error, but I've found my favorites. The two I use the most are at the far right and far left in the picture. They are General's brand washable graphite (right) and white charcoal (left.) Between these two I can mark just about everything that I want to mark. The 2nd from the left is also a wonderful graphite marking tool, it's messier as one has to slide the graphite out (and eventually remove it as it gets smaller) to sharpen it.
The yellow chalk tool is good for marking straight lines as you go. It wears off quickly so I only mark a hoopful at a time when I use this.
Basting is another part of the process that many people don't like. I really don't mind it a majority of the time. I used to only thread baste, but mostly pin baste now. It's quicker and the pins get removed as I go. My frame dirctions said I don't have to baste, but I really need to for my own peace of mind. I prefer thread basting overall, but like the ease and quickness of pin basting.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
So are we tired of talking about UFOs yet? I'm not! I find myself more and more energized by finishing up these old projects. I can think about new ones (and even start them) with a clear conscience because I know I'm also taking care of old business.
Monday, July 9, 2007
I'll admit it. I'm obssessed. Finishing UFO's has become my primary purpose in life. Ok, well that's an exaggeration, but at least the primary purpose in my quilting life.
While adjusting my sewing room yet again (I moved the ironing board to a more convenient place, which also made the storage behind my pressing board more accessible) I dug through the UFO boxes and found quite a few more. Some are placemats and small table runners that I'll be able to finish quickly. I also had a few more antique tops than I realized. I added a label to the outside of the box for each UFO inside, telling myself how good it will feel to rip those babies off as I finish each project, and how emptying those boxes means room for more. It made my drive to finish UFO's even stronger and I attacked the hoop project with renewed vigor.
I finished it this weekend. This was a project that didn't inspire me much in the quilting process, but I really like now that it's all finished. Now to get out the coffee stain! I figure this one will be adopted by a grandchild somewhere down the road (unless Miss Ruthie claims this one, too!)
While labeling boxes I found a couple of very small projects that were pretty close to completion so decided those would be next to be finished. I finished one of them late last night (I was on a roll!) and here she is. Just a single block, but finished nonetheless. I might hang this on the wall at the head of Ruthie's bed.
My next UFO is in the hoop, this time a whole cloth mini. It should only be a few days worth of quilting and I'm already thinking about what will be next. I have the frame projects lined up and ready, I might do the same with the hoop projects as well. Something about seeing that little stack and being able to think about the next one has been really helpful in keeping me on track. By the time I'm finishing one I can hardly wait to get started on the next.
I'm so thankful that I have a nice table to set up my machine. This room was the living room, it's adjacent to our (very casual) dining room and so ideal for when we have company for dinner. The antique oak table that I use for sewing has another leaf (though the second one is rarely in) and around the holidays, the leaf that's in often is removed to make room for our Christmas tree (then the table is round.)
My machine is out almost all the time. It's put away when we have friends for dinner or when our teens have friends in for games and cards (which is becoming frequent of late, soon we'll be installing a revolving door!) My machine case is just in front of the pressing board, which can be seen in the upper right, so it's really easy for me to take down and set up my machine. You can see my regular ironing board to the left, I just moved it from in front of the pressing board as moving around the space was difficult with it there.
One thing I love about having my machine always available is if I need a quick break from handwork I just sit down and go. No set up, no tear down, I can machine sew at a moment's notice.
I promised my older kids homemade chocolate chip cookies to bring on their trip to Six Flags Great America tomorrow. I want to make a serious dent in that wholecloth mini today and I just might pick out the next couple of hoop projects. Since I'm making a triple batch of cookies, that means LOTS of 10 minute increments, just perfect for a bit of ....what else??...quilting.
And so I go.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
When I talked about my painting, I said there was a story involved with painting my girls room to be saved for another day. This is the day :)
It was a whirlwind weekend. Our town was doing fireworks that Saturday night and we were meeting friends at the park. The painting was actually finished by then, just the decorative painting and moving the furniture back was left.
We had lots of fun with this. We went to the store and bought lace and little flowers to decorate their plain lamps plus flowers to put in the glass base, some orange and yellow flowers and a vase. I found these lone star pieces while looking for fabric that would match in my stash. I had accidentally made extra while making a broken star quilt and I sewed 4 of them together to make this little table cover.
Friday, July 6, 2007
The best laid plans and all that jazz....by the time I picked up a needle yesterday it was late afternoon. After the shopping trip, I put the vinyl over the cloth on the swing table. In the course of these projects, I'd used the last of the staples from my staple gun. I bought the staple gun quite some time ago, it was a very light duty one with plastic casing. I've been having trouble finding staples for it. Last time I needed some I did find some that fit, this time the ones I bought didn't. ugh. So I could go back and try another size staples or replace the gun...which is what I chose to do, knowing I'd have an easier time finding staples in the future.