What Can I Say?

Okay, the last time I had planned to post was March 1st, I left for quilt retreat that day, didn’t write anything and subsequently, the world has come to a standstill.

There are many things to write about, those days on retreat I worked on a number of projects, and really enjoyed being with my friends. At the end of retreat, the plan was to be with both of my daughters, and their families, to say bon voyage to my younger daughter and her husband as they were leaving Oregon for an extended period of time. Needless to say, everything changed that week due to Covid-19.

Everyone in my family is well, and we have not been hit very hard here in Oregon, I am glad for that, but feel so sorry for the havoc that is being wreaked in New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and other hard hit areas.

As a quilter, sewist, and crafter, my focus has been on doing what I can in my community to help folks be protected. My extensive scraps and stash have come in handy as I am using up so much to make face masks. My UFO pile has barely been touched. I keep being pulled towards working on some of my projects, but I feel that I cannot “abandon ship” when there are so many people in need of PPE.

I have several bins that I’ve worked through and it still seems like there is so much fabric. I’ll keep making masks, working on customer quilts, and getting to my UFOs in the coming weeks. Stay tuned, I’ll have more to share soon!

Until next time

Susan

Batting Storage

I know, that’s a boring title! For most quilters, you buy a package of batting when it’s on sale, when you’re ready to layer your quilt sandwich, or ready to take it to your longarm quilter.

When you have a longarm, things get a bit sticky! I do quilt for customer’s, but I also quilt for myself, and for donation. I don’t have big rolls of batting as it is just too difficult to find space to store them.

My wholesaler, E.E. Schenck, Co., happens to be in Portland, OR, where I live. I like Hobbs Tuscany products and in recent years they have started carrying “bolts” of batting. The 96″ wide batting is double folded and rolled onto a bolt. There is less on a bolt, than on a roll, but I can stack multiple varieties in my closet without needing to store multiple rolls.

Recycling is important in my household too, it’s very hard to throw scraps of fabric and batting away. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, when you purchase fabric by the yard, you’re paying for all of it, including what goes in the trash, selvedge and all. It’s no different with batting, but how do you utilize the scraps?

I’ve learned that there are a few different ways to use them, if they are not too narrow of a cut-off, I’ll save those strips and them into squares to use for string blocks. Many people make string blocks using muslin or newsprint as a stabilizing base, but I was shown a method that uses batting instead. When I’ve saved up a bit, I’ll cut them into squares and when I have enough squares, I’ll use them on a sewing day, at a retreat, or give them to my guild’s community outreach person. She’ll bundle them up for guild members to make into string blocks.

I’ve talked about my string bin before, sometimes I get frustrated at how many I have and want to get rid of them. Other times, it’s enjoyable to dig through the strings and start piecing the blocks. I’ll be on a quilting retreat soon, I plan to take a small box with some strings and pre-cut batting. If I’m bored with a project, I can always make a few string blocks.

Batting square can be made whatever size you like and it really depends upon how big of a quilt you want to make. I like 10″ squares and will use that size to make 24 blocks. I can set them 4 across and 6 down for a 40″ x 60″ quilt. This is a nice size for donation purposes but the sky is the limit. After all, it’s just scraps!

Until next time

Susan

The Drawers

It’s time, I’ve talked about it since the beginning of the year and I need to get on it. On Saturday, I pulled all of the fabric out of my batik drawer. Many of these fabrics were larger than a fat quarter, but I discovered there were also many scraps. So, I pulled out my batik scrap bin too. It also contained scraps and pieces larger than a fat quarter. What a mess!

My batik scrap bin was equally messy, so what was my plan of action? Everything that was a fat quarter, or larger, was neatly folded and put back into the drawer. Among the scraps, I sorted out the strings and scraps that were large enough to at least cut a 10″ square. I’ve made my own layer cakes before, how about you? It can be a useful size to save for future projects. Strings went into their own bin. For me, a string is a strip anywhere between 1-1/2″ and 3″ an no shorter than about 6″. We’ll talk about string quilts in a future post.

Now that my larger pieces are neat and tidy in the drawer, I’ll be working on the smaller pieces that are less than 10″ or so. I’ve also included long strips that are too wide for my string bin, these are usually the trimmings from a back after a quilt comes off of the longarm. There can be a quite a bit of usable fabric there.

Another way I sorted was to keep aside items that could make their way into a scrap vortex, kitchen sink or … scrap vomit quilts! I know, sounds terrible, but once you see one made up, it makes perfect sense! Search on Pinterest for some visually interesting quilt ideas.

So, here are my before and after photos of the batik drawer. Yes, I still have scraps stored in a bin, but I plan to work through that. Perhaps I’ll cut them up into certain sizes, give them away, or package them up to be sold at an upcoming stash sale at my quilt guild!

A sneak peek of what I’m going to talk about next? I finished entering my UFOs into a spreadsheet. Since I was on retreat a few weeks ago, I was able to line out several of them. Still organizing it though, I’d like to group them in order of how I may work on them. More to follow on that!

Until next time

Susan

How Many UFOs?

et’s see what I accomplished this past week. I took 9 UFOs on retreat, and really wanted to complete as many tops as possible. Of course, I did pick items from my UFO list that would not take much to complete. That’s the low hanging fruit that I’ve mentioned before.February week 1 photo 1

I completed 4 falling charms quilt tops, which I posted on Instagram. One was small and just needed a top and bottom border added. That went very quickly. Another falling charms was much larger and the 2-1/2” background strips had only been sewn to one side. I had to cut all of those apart, press, and sew the second background strip. After cutting those apart, and pressing, it went together fairly quickly after I laid it out. It sure turned out pretty. I think I have a piece of yardage that I can use for the back!  The final 2 were patriotic and I had started them as a larger quilt, in the past, but decided to split the blocks into 2 quilts.  I had to cut more 5″ squares from my stash to make this happen.

I’d like to focus on one UFO in particular, “Oh My Stars” a pattern I found free on Pat Sloan’s website. I had a partial charm pack, given to me by my daughter. I found fabric in my stash, that I cut into 5” squares, and filled in to make it the size in the pattern. I also had some off-white that I could use for the stars.  With the fabric I brought from home, I was even able to make the binding, and a pieced backing.

February week 1 photo 2I added a row of squares around the outside to make it even bigger!  I came home with very little left of what I brought with me to finish this quilt.  I’ll cut them into strips and squares for later use! 

February week 1 photo 3

My batik drawer and scrap bin? I think I’ll work on that this week!

Until next time

Susan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Next?

I’m out of town, but will be busy working on UFOs while I’m gone.  I’ve talked recently about participating in the Bonnie Hunter Quiltville Mystery, and plan to get further ahead on that project.  I put it on my UFO list, but it really is my current project.  That’s okay, I’ll keep plugging along until I get the top done.  I hope to have some progress photos soon!

Week 4 photo 2

Back in the early 2000s, I started collecting batik fabric, like so many other quilters.  I have quite a bit to use up, but I need to organize it first.

I have 2 sets of these drawers, full of fabric.  One drawer contains my batiks, and they are a MESS!  Part of the reason is that I used batiks for my Bonnie Hunter Mystery.

 

Here’s what it looks like in the drawer.  Believe it or not, I used to have it in a tub and my daughter would frequently ask to borrow, “the batik tub”! It went back and forth between us, but my drawer is still overflowing!Week 4 photo 3

 

 

 

Not only do I have the drawerfull of larger pieces, I also have a tub full of batik scraps.  It’s time to organize the lot of them, and figure out how I’m going to reduce the amount that I have.  We haven’t talked about patterns or ideas for quilt tops yet, but I get to that soon.

Week 4 photo 1

So, here’s the plan, I’ll straighten out what is in the drawer first, weed out anything smaller than a fat quarter and put that in the scrap tub.  Shall I work on my scraps first to bust them out of my stash?  We’ll see what the week brings!

Until next time

Susan

UFO List Revealed!

Well, I’m not really going to reveal the list, I still have to type up my notes and categorize what is going to come first.  However, all project have been sorted, and it was a lot of work.  I had planned on putting like items into boxes and making a list of what was contained in each box, but I didn’t get that far this week.

This is how far I was able to get though …

Blog photo week 3 photo 2What you are seeing is 9 of my, “Imperfect Produce” boxes, several zip storage bags, and several Art Bin totes containing my UFOs.  These boxes are underneath my longarm.  I know it looks like 6 boxes, but there are 3 more behind the bottom 3.  I could only stack them 2 high, in the front, because there is a support bar under there.

What is the total number of UFOs?  I’m a little embarrassed, but it’s 54.  Some of them are PIGS (Projects In Grocery Sacks) or other projects that may never come to fruition.  I need to decide if I’ll actually make them, or deconstruct and put the fabrics back into my stash.  That will come later.  As I looked at my list, before blogging, I remembered a UFO that I hadn’t listed, which became #54, my Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt 2019, Frolic!  The reveal for the mystery was on Friday, January 17, 2020.  The unpieced block is the photo at the top of my blog!

I’ve decided to focus on a UFO of the week.  Now, that doesn’t mean it will be finished this week, It just means I’ll talk about what is going to happen to it!

Blog photo week 3 photo 1This pretty quilt is a pattern called, “Chandelier” from the book, “Charm School” by Vanessa Goertzen.  It’s a charm pack friendly pattern but I used a layer cake, and of course, I have half of the layer cake left over!  So, that will be more stashbusting to figure out. This UFO just needs to be bound.  I have the binding made and it’s ready to go!

Until next time

Susan

UFO Challenge

Blog photo week 2 photo 3I’m sure that I am not the only quilter out there to have a desire to finish my UFOs.  That being said, the first thing I need to do is pull them all out and categorize them.

I’ve finished and purged UFOs before, passed them on to the free table at quilt guild, given them away, deconstructed them … the list goes on!  My goal would be to finish them, but I’m trying to be realistic about it.  I don’t like to admit it, but I know there are several UFOs in my quilting room that are over 25 years old.  It’s really time for them to move on.

This past week, I did pull out boxes, bins, totes, and zip bags that have unfinished quilts or projects in them. Some of them aren’t even at a stage where I would call them a potential quilt.  There’s a variety of items that I’ll need to go through, categorize, make a decision about, and either get it in line to finish, or get rid of it!

So, the plan is to look through my boxes, bins, totes, and rolling carts to see what I have.  I’ll let you all know what I have and share my list.  Each week, I will post a plan for one UFO.  Now, that doesn’t mean the UFO will be completed that week, it means that I’ll make a decision about it.  The hope is to keep me on task with UFOs AND my regular stashbusting activities! Who else out there wants to join me in this challenge?

 

How do you like these boxes I’m using?  They are from, Imperfect Produce.  Every other week I choose fruits and vegetables, from their online list, that would otherwise go in the landfill because they don’t meet grocery store standards.  My box of veggies arrives and then I have a handy box to store stuff in.  The boxes can be returned to Imperfect Produce, but for now, I’m using them to store fabric, projects, scraps, etc.

Now that I’ve challenged myself to list my UFOs, I’m committed to doing it!

Until next time,

Susan

First Finish of 2020

It’s the perfect way to start the new year, finishing a quilt.  Yes, all it needed was to be bound, but a very important step.

blog 1

The top had been completed for 3-4 years and it was machine quilted this past summer.  I did pull a piece of fabric from my stash to make the binding, well, because I was unsure where the extra from the backing was.

So, I’ve identified several problems I have with my stash, too much fabric and an inefficient storage system.  My goals include creating storage that works for me, whittling down the amount of fabric I have, and busting through my UFOs.

There are many ideas floating around the internet on how to store and categorize your fabric, notions, rulers, patterns, books, etc.  Not all solutions fit every quilter.  Everyone’s space available for quilting and crafting are different.  We don’t all have a She-Shed in the backyard!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be pulling out and categorizing my UFOs.  Some will need to be finished, such as putting bindings on.  That is low hanging fruit my friends!  I think I currently have 3 quilts in that queue!

Until next time

Susan