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.
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.
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.
My quilting this week has been of the boring but necessary type. I made a back for a donated top. I’m working on quilting my anchor quilt. I just decided that I need to pull out the entire center section of the quilting because of tension problems. I had the horrible realization yesterday that Memorial Day is next weekend and not in 2 weeks. The anchor quilt is part of a presentation on Memorial Day weekend. Crap. It is crunch time now!
I did have one Quilts of Valor presentation this week.
This one started out as a presentation for a Medivac helicopter pilot from the Vietnam War. Then we found out that his grandson who is currently in the Navy was going to be there. We gave quilts to both of them.
I got two rows finished and started sewing them together. I’m still trying to get the hang of working with the bulk of the quilt. I was gripping it too tight when I started and ended up straining some muscles in my thumb. Yeah, that’s me, lift weights all the time and then injure myself sewing.
I think I’m going to try paper clipping the section I’m working on together so I don’t have to hold it so much.
I’m quilting the words U S Navy into a quilt border. It is going to take forever with the technique I’ve chosen. It is going to be very subtle once the chalk marks are washed out. Hopefully it will still be noticeable.
In Quilts of Valor news, these three quilts were donated by a local guild.
I started sewing together the first column on my hexagon quilt!
I immediately sewed one of the hexagons onto the wrong spot! Now I have to get the seam ripper out to fix the purple one.
I finished a few more of the fox fabric hexagons this week. I wanted to have a nice cute picture with hexagons and animals but apparently my models are completely over posing with quilt blocks and I’m embarrassing them.
If they want to be that way, fine. I’ll take my fox pictures without them.
I knew I was within a few flowers of having the center of this quilt ready to be put together. I laid it all out today and was confused by the fact that it seemed like I had too many flowers even without finishing up the last few I had calculated that I needed. I was feeling like quite an overachiever!
I should have known better. I realized it when I went to bundle them up.
I had forgotten to lay out the whole last row. I’m off to finish up by last few flowers that I need and I’ll start trying to sew the rows together!
I feel like all I’ve done is work on quilts this week!
I finished 2 flowers this week. I’ve only got 6 left before I start putting my top together!
I had a big, busy Quilts of Valor week!
On Friday I got representatives from as many groups in the state as possible together to go through the free fabric available to nonprofits at a fabric warehouse in our state. We all left with bags and bags of fabric to use for QOVs. It was nice to be able to put faces together with email accounts.
On Saturday we had our second northeast Ohio sewing day. We have a big, sort of spur of the moment presentation coming up and we worked on getting tops together for that.
Stars were appliqued on 6 of the striped quilts and we made triangles and started putting together the 4 hour star quilt tops. I’m loving this pattern from quiltfrog.com.
We may need to change our event name. My mom was there from Pennsylvania and one quilter brought relatives from Michigan. Her granddaughter had sewn but never quilted before but now she can make half square triangles like a champ!
When I got home from the QOV event on Friday night this was waiting for me. I knew that I had to get it to someone I would see on Saturday night so I hurried up and got it bound and had my mother make a pillowcase for it. It will be presented soon.
This quilt came from a group in the Toledo area. It is going to a veteran in central Ohio.
Our Akron group donated this top made from anniversary blocks collected last year.
I have to get a backing made for that and get it sent off to a quilter.
I got two quilts back from a quilter yesterday. She surprised me by binding them and making pillowcases for them too!
I’ve gotten my mother involved too. She brought me her version of the 4 hour quilt top.
I think I have 3 more quilts coming back from quilters this week. That should temporarily take care of the backlog of individual requests we have here. There are other states that are swamped with requests and don’t have enough quilts to get to everyone. If you would like to help out, check out Quilts of Valor’s website.
I finished my Honus of Hawaii top. (Like my socks? I didn’t notice them since this was an instagram photo and they didn’t show up there but they sort of match. They can stay.) My goal is to get it quilted by Saturday when I am going to my parents house. They did the same Hawaii trip. I am going to casually say, “I finished this up less than a year after the trip. Na na na na na na.” That last bit is important. Even if I don’t say it it will be implied. My mother makes lovely scrapbooks but never in a timely fashion. This came back to bite her when she finally got around to working on her Grand Canyon scrapbook and realized that many of the pictures included my ex-husband. That’s why you should get things done so you aren’t stuck working with pictures of people you don’t like anymore. Free life lesson for the morning. (Wow, I’m really free associating today.)
Of course immediately after taking that picture, this happened because quilts without cats are an abomination.
It is a wall hanging but he makes it look so small. A friend on instagram did note that he is actually a mountain lion so it isn’t truly representative of scale. The turtle blocks are 9 inches square. The quilt is around 40 inches square. The cat is very long.
In EPP news, I finished up the seven text fabric flowers and moved on to the ninth of ten fabrics – the pink polka dots. At this rate I’ll be done making flowers in less than a month and then I have to figure out how to put the top together.
Quilts of Valor news – There is a new program where you can buy bolts of patriotic fabric for $3 a yard to use in QOVs.
Here’s a link to the PDF of how to order. PatrioticQuilt-SalesSheet