I finished a quilt! I’m a starter and not a finisher but this had a hard deadline so I was motivated to get it done. I gave it to a coworker during our little baby shower for her yesterday.
Side note – I gave a baby quilt to another person who was there. He talked all about how useful it was and how the baby slept on it and all kinds of nice stuff. He said they got a few quilts so they could wash and rotate. It was very nice. Then he showed me a picture of her using my quilt. That was also nice but it wasn’t my quilt. I just giggled to myself and didn’t say anything.
This is Preppy the Whale by Elizabeth Hartman. The theme was underwater so I made the whales. Then I added borders to get it up to 36″ square. I quilted waves in the blue and seaweed in the pink vertical borders.
It is no secret that I hate Disney stuff. Before 2008 I was mainly just not that interested but since then I’ve been dealing with an autistic child whose obsessions are always Disney and something else. The something else varies but Disney stays the same. That means at any given time she only has two topics of conversation and she talks nonstop. I want to scream, “Please, for the love of all that is holy, shut the $%# up about Disney!!” but that is considered rude. For the last year she has been obsessing about Disney cruises to the point that she knows the layout of all the ships and the number of bars. She gave me a whole monologue this weekend about how I have failed her father because I am holding him back from going on a Disney cruise. Explaining that her father thinks going on a Disney cruise would be a new level of hell that Dante hadn’t even imagined didn’t work.
The child and her mother are going on a Disney cruise in June. This weekend when I went to pick up the child, the mother held out a bag and said, “We were wondering if you could make this up this weekend. I mean, if you can’t we can do it with Grandma.” Note the lack of a please, thank you, or question in there. The child explained that I needed to make something for them for their cruise. The level of stabby was high before this project even started.
Apparently, on Disney cruises you need something called a fish extender. There is a fish decoration on the door and you hang pockets from it and people give you presents.
They provided me with fleece and a nasty crunchy fabric with glitter that dulled my blade and needle. I decided to make it fancy and then threatened to sign it so they had to think of me every time they saw it.
I cut two pieces of fleece 8″ x 24″. I layered them with batting in between.
I sewed 1/4″ along the long sides to hold them together.
I cut the pocket fabric 6″ x 11″. That was suggested on other sites I read in order to make pleated pockets. I folded over the top and bottom and topstitched the top so it wouldn’t fray. I didn’t stitch the bottom. I figured it will get sewn down when it gets sewn on the background.
Of course I had to get fancy and fussy cut the Tinkerbells. Pin the sides, center the design, and then fold the pleats. I just eyeballed this.
I did a double row of stitching across the bottom to reinforce that weight bearing seam and to make sure I caught the folded edge. I started with the first pocket at the bottom and then put two inches between the pockets. I bound the edges with the Tinkerbell fabric.
I put a fleece hanging pocket on the back for a dowel rod.
One finished fish extender (what a stupid name!). The husband has helpfully pointed out that there was no thank you forthcoming from either of them. I just love making projects for hateful people!
In happier sewing news, I started sewing the fourth row onto my hexie quilt.
Last Saturday was Quilts of Valor’s National Sew Day. I sewed together this quilt that has been stuck on my design wall since last May.
I got the first block done for my Christmas Hedgehog quilt.
I have the fabric picked out for the other three too. They are all going to have the same face with different bodies and spines. All the fabrics have a little metallic thread in them.
I also finished the quilting on this giant star quilt. It has a lot of stops and starts so I have lots of thread ends to get rid of. There is one small section in the center that needs removed and redone because the tension went wonky.
A long, long time ago I made a quilt top. I didn’t make it for anything in particular. I was doing it mostly to use up some really strange and ugly fabrics that I had. It was a Scrappy Trips top. Quilters might remember that a year or two ago this became a cool top to make. Everyone was doing it. I had a total hipster moment as I watched all the pictures of it pop up while I thought, “I did that before it was cool.”
I don’t remember exactly what year I made the top. I know where I was living at the time. The top moved houses with us once. It got put aside because I tried to free motion quilt spirals into it and the tension was wonky. It got put in time out to think about its poor behavior and it stayed there.
When I got to my new job a coworker said that she liked quilts that didn’t match. I told her that I had just the top for her and that I would finish it and give it to her. That was vague. I need deadlines. I have made a few quilts for other people having babies in the office since then. Each time I mention a quilt she half-jokingly asks where her quilt is.
So I decided to make it for her birthday. Her birthday is in February. Last July that sounded like a good idea.
In October I thought that maybe I should think about working on it. I thought about it in November and December too. Somewhere along the way it had gotten half quilted with an all over pattern. How hard was that going to be to finish up? Plenty of time.
In January I thought I really should get serious. I looked up her birthday hoping it was the 28th. It was the 3rd. I absolutely had to finish the quilting on January 30. I didn’t even start. I got up early before work on the 31st and knocked out a lot of it. I talked to other another coworker that day about party plans. (This is the birthday of the coworker that plans the birthday parties for everyone else in the year so we have to step up.) I said that the birthday was Monday. She told me it was Tuesday. My brain said, “Plenty of time!” because my brain is stupid and forgets I work all day Monday. I forced myself to get it finished on Sunday.
So many years and 2 days later, I have a finish.
One totally unmatching quilt ready to go.
Please tell me that someone else does this too or is every other quilter out there good at finishing projects before the moment they are due?
This Saturday is National Sew Day for Quilts of Valor. I’m planning on sewing together the quilt that’s been on my design wall since last May. It was part of a huge push we did for a Memorial Day presentation. When I realized we had enough without it, it sat.
I’m also going to join the Hazel the Hedgehog quilt a long hosted by Gnome Angel. I bought the pattern in December intending to get a Christmas wall hanging done by December 2015. As I’ve confessed in this post, I need a deadline. I will finish the top by the end of the quilt a long.
I finished the fourth row of my hexagon quilt this week.
I was especially excited about this because the whole time I was sewing it together I thought it was the third row. What a pleasant surprise!
My stepdaughter wanted a sewing machine for Christmas. She wanted to make fashion. No one in her life actually believes that she is going to like sewing. She is unable to handle any frustration. It is one of her major triggers. Sewing is a mixture of tedium and frustration at times. I’m not dealing with her going off into a rage in my sewing room. But then it occurred to me that her mother wanted us to keep the machine here. It would only be polite to keep it set up for her. She’s only here every other weekend. If I set up my machine for quilting and maybe just did a bit of piecing on hers, that would just be a logical use of resources. The husband got her a cheap little machine but it will work fine for piecing. Yay! I have two machines!
For the record, she didn’t ask once about the sewing machine after she unwrapped it.
That is an actual finished quilt. Try to contain your shock.
That is Orca Bay, the 2011 mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter. Yep, 2011. I actually worked hard at it and pretty much kept up with the clues. I had it done on schedule. I even made the pieced borders and then decided I didn’t like them and left them off. I had it quilted. This was all done by early 2012.
And then it sat. It didn’t just sit actually. It moved houses with us and then it sat again. I finally decided that this was stupid and it needed to be finished. It took me two weeks of procrastinating and then about 2 hours to bind it. Done!
I don’t really know what to do with a quilt that I am planning on keeping. I guess we put it in the living room and stare at it and then the dog lays on it on the couch. I usually give all my quilts away.
For my next project I’m going to make a Christmas quilt. I’m not a big Christmas fan so I’ve never wanted a Christmas quilt but I found one for me. I’m going to make Hazel by Elizabeth Hartman.
It is a movie about trying to put together a reunion concert with some folk musicians. The main act is Mitch and Mickey who were big stars and had a hit song called “A Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow”. It features a kiss at the end. However, Mitch and Mickey have since divorced and hate each other.
I was always impressed with her playing in this song. It is the actors playing and singing. I liked the sound of the zither she has and always thought that I’d like to learn to play.
Just recently we started watching Gilmore Girls again now that it is streaming on Netflix. In the first season there is a harp player named Drella.
She’s yelled at for playing Black Sabbath on the harp and given a list of bands that she can’t play that ends with “No Queen.” I thought that was unfair. I think Queen would sound great on a harp. I decided if I could play the harp that I would play Queen. I decided it was time to learn.
I didn’t get a big harp. I remembered back to A Mighty Wind and started researching. I got a Lap Harp, otherwise known as a hognosed psaltery.
It comes with music like this.
You just slide it under the strings and pluck the notes in order. But, I wanted to learn to really play so I got some easy music books – the Beatles and Disney. I’m not ready for Queen yet.
I can play piano so playing the melody is easy. I’ve never played guitar so learning to do chords is new for me. Right now I’m playing the melody with my left hand because I’m left handed and playing chords with the right.
I’ve made a cheat sheet on my harp to help learn what string is which.
Now I’m even more impressed with Catherine O’Hara in A Mighty Wind. I didn’t remember until I embedded the video that she plays without even looking at the strings.
Step 1: Announce that you are having a girl child that is due in the middle of December. This gives the quilter ample time to procrastinate. Quilters generally like that.
Step 2: Announce at the end of October that the child will be coming early. Say that they will induce your wife in the third week of November. Because you are not a quilter you will not notice said quilter go a bit pale and start swearing under her breath.
Step 3: In mid-November, announce that your wife will be induced on next Tuesday. Say your last day in will be Monday. Since the quilter has gone into work mode with a projected due date now in mid-November she will calculate and know that she can get that quilt done for Monday. No problems.
Step 4: Text to let us know that your wife went into labor early on Saturday. You won’t be in next week at all. This is a problem because quilters are motivated by deadlines. Now the quilter can’t tell if she missed the deadline or if you just gave her another week.
Step 5: Quilter forces herself to finish quilt for this Monday anyway so she won’t be frantically trying to finish it next Sunday night. This is unusual behavior that she is proud of.
Step 6: It is the first snowfall of the year. Quilt flat out refuses to dry in the dryer anyway so quilter puts it in the snow for a nice picture. Quilter shows the picture at work.
Other coworker – “What is that?”
Quilter – “A baby quilt”
Other coworker – “Oh, I thought it might be a grill cover.”
I’ve had to take a break from my hexagon quilt from April until a few weeks ago because I injured myself hand sewing. I ended up with tendinitis in three areas of my right hand and brewing problems in my left. I lost my grip strength and had tingling in the fingers of my right hand. I had injections and slept with a splint on for months. I’m better now and here’s how I’m going to try to avoid hurting myself again.
Support Your Work
This spring I started sewing my hexagon quilt together. Once those hexagons got all together they got heavy. I’m left handed so I was using my right hand to hold the pieces together. I was gripping hard and incorrectly.
Now when I’m sewing rows together I have the bulk of the quilt sitting on a pillow on my lap so I’m not holding the weight in my hands. I can just have the two hexagon edges I’m working on held in my hand so I don’t have to use so much force.
Keep a Neutral Thumb
My hand doctor told me that I have increased laxity in my thumbs that can lead to incorrect grip and eventually arthritis. It is seen mostly in women. This is an instance where being bendy isn’t good.
When I grip small things like needles my thumbs want to collapse in instead of staying straight. The doctor told me not to grip small things. That isn’t going to work. I was thinking one day that it would be nice if I could think of a way to hold a needle with a bigger grip. I looked at my hand held in a neutral position.
And then I laughed and considered how much of an idiot I am. I’m a veterinarian. I don’t do surgery anymore but I spent years doing that. Looking at my hand brought it back. I needed needle holders.
I brought home some needle holders and surgical needles. The needles didn’t work so well because they are triangular instead of round. The needle holders held the regular sewing needles fine though. My thumb stays neutral and I can sew without pain. Previously I could sew for about 15 minutes and it would hurt for 2 days. Now I’m good.
It goes a little slower than hand sewing but with practice it is getting faster. I can also do tighter knots at the end now because I just tie suture knots with the instruments that are much more secure than hand sewing knots. (If anyone is interested I can show those. They work great for tying quilts too.)
You can get needle holders in farm supply catalogs and on eBay. Fancy ones can be really expensive but you don’t need ones that are going to hold up to being sterilized a lot. Cheap ones work great. Hemostats can work too. They are even cheaper.
Needle holders on the left, hemostats on the right. Hemostats are made to clamp vessels and come in lots of sizes. Some needle holders have scissors on them. Don’t get those if you have a choice. It seems like a good idea but every time you accidentally cut your thread when you are trying to grab your needle, you will cuss them.
I also got some thumb supports at the grocery store. It is difficult to hyperextend your thumb with them on. I’ve worn it on my right hand to keep myself from gripping so tightly. After I sew now I put a topical arnica and menthol gel on my thumbs too.
I feel like I’ve posted a hundred versions of this photo. (That’s why I tried to get Freckles to pose with it but she’s tired of it too.) I’ve been stuck on this hand pieced quilt because of hand injuries all year. But now I finally have the first three rows together! I put them back in the sewing room so I can quit looking at them and pulled out row four to sew together.
I started a baby quilt for my boss’ wife. The baby is due in December so I figured I better get a move on. I am impressed with the fact that the quilt coordinates so nicely with the kitty litter box in the photo.
Eric Toensmeier was writing and teaching about making edible forests but he was living in an apartment with a few plants in pots on the patio. He enlisted a student to work with him and they worked on some larger farms but decided to finally buy a place that they could make their own. They bought a duplex in Holyoke Massachusetts with a barren 1/10 acre lot and set out to make a edible landscape in a very cold part of the country.
The plan was pretty ambitious. They bought a duplex so they could live in one side and rent the other to raise money. Eventually they hoped to each meet women who wanted to be with them and then they could each have a side of the duplex. The lot was small and in horrible shape but in eight years they managed to get it to support over 200 varieties of edible plants.
This book is more inspirational than a straight how to. There are some pictures and some diagrams of the layout. I hadn’t heard of a lot of the plants that they have. They concentrate mostly on native plants that can survive a New England winter. They have a small greenhouse which they use mostly for salad greens in the winter.
This is something the husband and I would love to do. Our dream house is a dome with solar power and geothermal heat surrounded by food. We had a good start at our last house with the massive raised bed that was kindly filled by compost made from my horses’ manure. We could grow anything in that bed.
At this house we have the space but it is very shady and there are lots of deer that demolished our first attempt. Then we got lazy. We may be moving again soon and if it looks like we might stay put at a new house for a while I’d really like to use most of the lawn space for a combination of small fruit trees and berries combined with vegetables. I’m not sure I’m up for some of the more obscure plants they have but they have gotten me interested in paw paws.
So after my husband decided to stay in the land of the living, I turned my focus to an event that we had been preparing for. There is a small town festival near here that has been turned into a huge veterans’ event because of their police department’s Facebook page. Basically, the Facebook page is crazy popular. I think it is the 3rd most popular police Facebook page in the country. The police chief decided to focus the festival on veterans and invited everyone to come to it last year. This year it is bigger.
Quilts of Valor had a booth for 4 days and did a public presentation with the police chief on Saturday.
We were supposed to present 17 quilts. I’ve been scrambling for quilts so I was glad to pick these up from the Purrfect Quilters on Wednesday night.
At our booth we had info for quilters and info for people to nominate veterans for quilts.
Here are some pictures from the presentation.
Remember that I said that this was a social-media driven event? I posted those pictures to the police Facebook page and they have gone all over the place. They’ve been shared like crazy. People have been joining the Quilts of Valor Ohio Facebook page. Over 1/3 of the page likes are now from this weekend. The album page of these pictures have been seen by over 42,000 people. The requests for quilts are starting to roll in.
During it all I managed to do some sewing. I picked up my hexagon quilt again. I haven’t done any hand sewing since I gave myself tendonitis in my hand. I sewed together the third row and my hand got a little sore but it was management by just doing a little at a time and changing the way I hold the pieces together.
Would you look at this? Actual quilting going on at my house.
There has actually been tons of boring quilting all summer. It has been my summer of backs. I’ve been making backs for a lot of Quilts of Valor tops that I had donated and sending them to quilters.
We have a big presentation coming up next week and I got worried about our quilt count. I wanted some backup quilts so I pulled out this giant star and started quilting it. I did some straight line quilting, some meandering, and used this stencil with hearts surrounding a star on the corners.
Sorry for the black on black picture but you get the idea.
I worked for days on this. I was dedicated. Then I realized that we were fine on quilts and … I haven’t done anything for a few days. Yep, I’m an emergency kind of quilter.
My quilting this week involves binding. Lots of binding. We have a Quilts of Valor presentation this weekend and we are putting finishing touches on quilts. We had a sewing day this weekend to get a lot done. My machine quits after sewing for 4 hours. I’m not sure why. I’ll be sewing along and all of a sudden the tension goes totally loose. I haven’t changed anything and there is no fixing it. You have to shut down the machine and start again tomorrow. This isn’t a fancy machine with lots of computers to get confused either. It is just tempermental.
I think this is the scariest thing we do as quilters, especially with these red, white, and blue quilts. This one turned out ok.
The Navy anchor quilt is on its second go round in the dryer. Then I just have to do a final go over for threads.
I have 1 and a half more bindings to put on.
I picked up my hand sewing again after a few weeks off.
I have 3 more seams to sew and I have the first two rows together.
I met an amazing lady this week. This is Ruth.
Ruth is 94 years old. She’s made over 500 quilts in her life. She has Parkinson’s Disease and is prone to falling. She figured that if she had to sit a lot then she might as well sit at her sewing machine. She heard about Quilts of Valor last year and made 12 tops for a local event. Since then she’s kept sewing. She gave me 35 tops that she’s made since January.