Wednesday, December 30, 2020

{Post 1,740} There Appears To Have Been A Struggle


I have spent bits and bobbles of time lately organizing my fabric. I saw a few ideas and morphed them into something that would work for me. I measured my shelves and then bought the biggest stackable plastic boxes with lids that would fit while stacked up, but not be too heavy when full (that’s asking a lot of a lowly plastic box, but I found some that worked). I found that the fancier the handles and lids, the more expensive the box. I went with something simple that was flat that would be easy to pick up, but not with all the bells and whistles. 

I measured the interior of the box in height and width and made a simple template out of corrugated cardboard. I folded all my fabric FQ and larger to fit around the template. I made a small pile of pieces too small to fold more than once. It seemed insurmountable because I have a lot of fabric tucked here near there in my sewing room. I gave up the expectation of perfection and just started. I am nearly finished (well, I AM finished with everything I’ve found so far, but I have drawer stacks under my long arm to go through). 

Before starting the boxing project, I had all different sizes and styles of boxes and piles of fabric in every nook and cranny of my room. Here is a before and after shot of just a little of the area. The bonus of touching each piece of fabric is that I separated out that which I know I don’t want any more, whether color, style, etc. This first picture is where I pulled out 3 bankers boxes (from behind the curtain, which I’m leaving off in the future).

This next area is the nemesis of my sewing room. Just a little space between my homemade ironing station and quilt frame. I keep my batting rolls here as well as anything else that is homeless.

Here is part of the after (I still need to get rid of all the empty cardboard and plastic boxes...they are legion). This first pic is what was behind the green curtain. The box with “neutrals” is my first completed box in this new system of organizing. 

I first thought I’d keep the boxes here because they can be stacked two high with plenty of clearance. But now I’ve decided to put the least used of them on the bookshelf along the wall between the ironing station and quilt frame. Next I want to organize what’s in the 2 three-drawer plastic stacks...that is now squares, triangles, labels, extra binding, and small specialty rulers. On the bottom is a few jelly rolls and the bankers box has mailing supplies. 

For those insanely curious (like me), here is a description of my box contents. Everyone has different stashes. I mainly have Thimbleberries (I have 100 partial bolts because I formerly sold it from my home...still do if anyone is interested), holiday prints (patriotic, fall, and Christmas), non-Thimbleberries in rainbow colors, and novelty prints (I make baby and I Spy quilts enough to keep some large pieces on hand for backings and piecing). I also make pumpkin quilts—runners, pillows, wall hangings, quilts of all sizes). 

Generic means not Thimbleberries. I love Thimbleberries, but they don’t plan nicely with other fabric lines!

*Thimbleberries:  red, gold, brown, green, and blue
*Thimbleberries:  purple, pink, black, seasonal, and neutrals
*Holiday: fall, patriotic, and Christmas
*Pumpkin: mostly orange, a little green and neutral, Disney princess yardage, sock monkey yardage
*Generic blacks, reds, and neutrals
*Generic red, yellow, brown, green, blue, purple

I have emptied so many eclectic boxes and piles of fabric. What I love about doing this is that since it’s stacked up, one can see EVERY fabric in there just be removing the lid. Here are pictures of how I filled the box (by placing it on its end and piling it) and how it looks when it is in its proper orientation and the lid is off.

When I started folding the Thimbleberries, I didn’t realize I had so many small pieces that were box-worthy. I had a box filled, then came across a dish pan full. I use dish pans to keep fabric and projects in because they are $1 at Dollar Tree and can hold a LOT. It was so easy to just set the box on its side and remove the sections of each color to add a random piece or two. I ended up dividing it into two boxes that are nearly full. 

Whew—that was so much work, but it looks fantastic. I still have to go through the drawers under my quilt frame. They are mostly UFOs (some nearly-completed tops), shirts, and oddball fabrics (netting, felt, denim scraps). It will all get done in time.

Isaac, my only child-at-home is 21. He is recovering from Covid. He is in his last two days of quarantine. Thankfully my husband and I did not get it. Isaac was joking, but he said he could hear my up in the kitchen (which is right above his room) cooking and baking during the holiday season (we never had ANYONE over—it was kinda sad, but we didn’t dwell on was necessary). He lost his senses of smell and taste very early. He said “I was laying there thinking that I was missing cookie and goody season. I couldn’t taste or smell. I wondered if life was worth living.” Again, he was kidding, but he was miserable. Even though he didn’t have an appetite, I kept him filled with healthy food and water to aid his recovery. He dutifully ate, but it wasn’t enjoyable. Made me think many times what a gift our senses are, and I will try to appreciate them more.

That’s it for this very long post. I am home schooling a 6-year-old grandson, and that takes a LOT of my time, but I hope to at least clear out the empty boxes in here today, with his help. He is staying overnight a few days because his little brother has a fever. Just found that out this AM. 

We are also doing a big project in my sewing room that is causing some disruption. We are putting a stacking washer and dryer in my clothes closet (my husband and I each have a good-sized closet of our own). My sewing room was formerly the master bedroom. When we started sleeping in one of the smaller bedrooms after 7/8 of our children moved out, we left our clothes in the closets back here because we both use the master bathroom instead of the hall one. We are working towards renting out a large portion of our finished basement after Isaac gets married in April and moves out. Phase one is getting a washer/dryer up here (ours is currently downstairs). So I had to clean out my whole closet. I donated a huge amount of clothes and shoes. It is good to downsize and clean out, but it is wreaking havoc on my sewing room in the meantime. My style in here is “there appears to have been a struggle”.

One of my main reasons for my blog is to use it as a personal journal. Thanks for reading along. Another reason is to share what works for me as far as sewing. Hope you found this helpful. Leave me a comment!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

{Post 1,739} Lots of Piecin’ Goin’ On


I have given away two large quilts in the past few weeks as well as selling one. Lots of progress here. I have a couple reasons why I think this is happening. I bought a rolling cart of drawers. Not only has it helped me stay organized but I can take the whole drawer of precut pieces to my sewing machine, thus getting more done faster. Here are a few pictures. I am working in earnest on the first (Plaid Lightning) and the one with the 4-pointed star design.

This first one is finished except for a border of 6” tall by various width pieces.

This one is finished, quilted, and in the hands of its new and very happy owner.

This is my current squeeze. I have 61/80 blocks finished. I had a lot of small scraps, so the last few blocks have pieced “stripes” in them. Do you see all 3 of them? Some added fun and less waste.

Here is the picture from the book. Virginia Bound by Bonnie Hunter. I love the border. I have done the other two I made with an orange/blue/green color way. I love orange in a quilt, but I think I’ll use something else. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

{Post 1,738} Christmas Decor 2020


The little I did seems to have taken f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I worked on the living room off and on all day, and this is all I decorated.

Just to give you a chuckle, I spent over an hour on this garland on the mantle/shelf (I call it that because that is where our mantle was before we removed the fireplace. I still call it mantle out of habit. Please forgive me. I had bought the nativity scene this year and really wanted to make it “shine”. I set it on the mantle then put the garland on. The garland is quite hefty (I love the way it looks). But then I didn’t have room on the mantle for anything but the thin nativity. My husband came up and asked me why I didn’t put anything else up there. I said there was no room. He gave me an odd look and then reminded me that last year I put the garland UNDER the shelf. I asked, “I can DO that??” He just gave me a blank stare. Here is the comparison for your humor of the day...

Just gonna leave that here. I have a few other things to pull our, but that it about it for us this year. I remember back when all 8 of my kids were at home and the constant activity. I miss having my 8 elves to help shop, bake, clean, decorate, move stuff around, bake more, eat lots of cookies...<sigh> those were the days, my friend.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

{Post 1,737} Restoring Antique Quilt


I recently met a woman who asked me to do three very different sewing skills for her. 

1. Restore a shredding antique quilt.

2. Combine two store-bought comforters into one large one (the edges are worn away and shredded).

3. Machine quilt a top she made from her parents’ clothing.

I have put about 10 hours into restoring the antique top. She agreed to pay me by the hour, so I am keeping track. Time goes a lot faster than I think it does. I LOVE doing this kind of meticulous work, so it flies! It took about 3 hours for me to take all the hand-stitching out. There was a quilt center, then a 4” wide muslin border, then a pieced border, then two more single-fabric borders. Hardly any part of anything except the center was salvageable. I even had to replace many ripped up pieces from the center. I used a similar fabric for them. With fabric that old, it is difficult to find the colors let alone similar prints. Here are some pictures of what I replaced with the last two pictures being what it looks like now. I am putting one wide border on after the checkerboard one. It is called “slub”. It looks like linen, but with some threads thicker. It is mind green like the original outermost border.

Those are all what it was before. Here is where I am now. I need to add the pieced border to two sides then the mint green single-fabric border after that. I looked at two stores for something to replace the light floral right outside of the pieced border (see the picture directly above), but I could not find a single contender. So I am putting a 5” wide mint green border. That is the color of the original outside border, but you can see that that was a total loss.

Friday, November 20, 2020

{Post 1,735} Gifted Quilt


Back in September I took 18 intact shirts with me to south GA. I started this quilt then gifted it about a month ago.

It has been well-loved and appreciated.

At that same time I started some rail fence blocks with the little bits that are from the inside of the collars and cuffs. Shortly thereafter I framed squares with 1-1/2” strips of lighter shirts and used the rail fence blocks as alternates. I gifted that to a family I am close to from my church. Here are a few pics of that.

I talk to my friend (the mom) often. She told me yesterday that they all snuggle with it daily. I loved hearing that. Little guy (in third picture) thinks it is all his, LOL!!

I am nearly finished with the third quilt mainly from those same shirts, with LOTS of neutral shirts thrown in. I was showing the two different layouts on Facebook. One of my high school friends (graduated 40 years is that possible?) asked if she could buy it. I am half-finished with the quilting. Going to cut binding strips after I finish here so that I can put that on right away. 

She opted for the top setting. This will finish at 70” square. No borders. My first low-volume quilt.

While I’ve been piecing all of these, I am sewing my 2-1/2” square scraps into these. I call them 2 + 4 = 6 blocks. Again using you a lot of neutrals for a place for the eye to rest. I am calling this Plaid Lightning, LOL!! I left some space around the labels in the yoke when I cut them out, so I incorporated a few of those into the quilt. It gives one something to read while snuggling!

I would love to hear a little something from each of you. I didn’t think the isolation of quarantining would get to me because I love being alone, but it is lonely. We aren’t staying away from EVERYONE, but almost!

Friday, November 13, 2020

{Post 1,734} Sew Much Better

If you are cleaning up an atrocious space, I highly recommend taking before pictures. Yes—they are embarrassing. One might think, “How could I let it get like this...AGAIN??” Or “I could never show this to anyone.” But honestly, this result was so satisfying. And I’m not just talking about the being able to walk between the ironing station and quilt frame without twisting an ankle or causing Mt. Never-rest to tumble. I ironed a large quilt without moving stacks of stuff. Then I cut out binding with all but a 10” strip of my cutting table cleared off. I was a young whippersnapper last time either of those happened. Ah—just breathing in the free space!!

Here are the before and after:

There is always so much more to do in here, but I cut, pieced, ironed, applied and sewed down binding on a quilt for a friend that I can give her tonight because there was so much room to get it done quickly and peacefully. Please tell me I’m not alone in this. My sewing room reminds me of a toxic spill. I go in, determined to make it livable, armed with my trusty super sponge. I dunk my sponge in the spill, turn to wring it out in the sink, and it is immediately filled up with other gunk. Yes—that’s my sewing room plan....dunk and gunk. Actually, I just made that up, and it made me laugh. So I will be honest and just say it looks pretty amazing right now. Tomorrow might be another story!

Still looking for a taker for a big box of florals. My sister and I used to make watercolor quilts. I sold all my squares and used up all my florals. Then she blessed me with a big bag of her stuff. If someone wants them and will pay postage, I’ll gladly give them to you. Otherwise, I’ll be moving them to another room until the floral bug strikes (I think it is actually extinct around here).  

Have a great day. I’m just enjoying the view.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

{Post 1,733} Much Progress


Here is the before and after comparison of my fabric bookshelves. I have one wonderful friend who purchased 2 yards of each neutral and one of each color. That majorly slimmed down my shelves. I got rid of 24 of the empty cardboard bolt forms. That was 15” of shelf space right there!

Now I’m tackling the busy, messy spot on top of and in front of the ironing station. Lord, give me strength!!

I was given a large stack of florals that I will likely never use. I started pressing and cutting for 5 different quilts from them, but my heart wasn’t in it because I am not a floral-lover. Would anyone want the stack (that goes all the way down to the ironing station for the cost of postage?

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

{Post 1,732} Sew Much Fabric


Good AM, readers. I am in a quandary. Some of you know that in a previous life, or so it seems, I sold Thimbleberries’ fabric from my home. I have many bolts. I could never sew this in my lifetime. As I am cleaning up my sewing room (an eternal project), I am wondering how I can sell some of it (most of it, to be honest). So I am just putting this here for anyone interested. For my blog readers, $5 a yard plus actual shipping. This is high-quality fabric with a very soft hand.

Is anyone interested in small (as in 2” square or less) scraps of fabric? As I go through what I have, I am hoping to weed out those and send them to someone who will love and use them. 

Lastly, I am closing my booth at the end of December. It saddens me greatly to say that because I feel like a failure. I guess I anticipated my items flying off the shelves there. Most of them just flew back to my craft room and sewing room. I don’t think I am overcharging—to the contrary, I feel like I am just covering materials and a little extra. Enough said. Now I need to find homes for many little items. I can’t part with my big throws and antique quilts for nothing. <heavy sigh>

Here is my booth from yesterday AM. My husband built me the Christmas tree up on the hutch out of old fence pickets that were in our garage.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

{Post 1,731} Finished “Ugly Quilt” and Discovery


I have been cleaning up my sewing room (I was going to type “again”, but it is “still”). I have come to realize that if I sew, it will always need redecluttered as “A Slob Comes Clean” would put it. I am fine with that. It means I have been doing something I love that brings me great happiness. 

Last night I finished the quilting and binding of the “Ugly Quilt”. My husband likes this one a lot. He has rarely commented on any of my quilts, but when he saw this one as a top, he said he really liked it. It is from Karen Brown’s video, “what to do with ugly fabric”. That’s why I call it the Ugly Quilt. It is made from 29 men’s shirts (one was accidentally repeated). It measures 61” x 90”. It will be washed and dried today and delivered tomorrow. Here it is over my quilt frame rod.

The arrows in the second picture show the edges of the block. It is random but planned as well. 

During the straightening up of my sewing room, I found not one but THREE more shirt quilts in process. I bought a rolling 8-drawer cart on Amazon to house my WIPs. It will be so helpful for scrap quilts. I am thoroughly pleased with it. Each drawer is designed for scrapbook paper. I think the dimensions are 13.5” x 16.5”. Perfect for scrap pieces or finished blocks. When I sit down to sew, I just put the whole drawer on the little surface beside me for easy access. When I am finished sewing for the time being, I just slide the drawer back into the cart. This will definitely help me corral my ongoing projects.

Here is one of the WIPs (works in progress) I uncovered. Well, 25 of these blocks, only the colored parts. There are 80 in the final quilt. They will be “drawered” and worked on soon. Soon, as in I know where they are and have started cutting strips of light shirts to add to the sides. I made this one a few years back for my daughter in Alabama, so I call it Alabama Bound. The real name is Virginia Bound. A Bonnie Hunter pattern. This is one of the few quilts I’ve made more than once (to my knowledge), and this is my third. It is perfect for using up those little oddly-shaped shirt pieces.

I also found a nearly-finished and already-laid-out portion of this quilt...the entire center!! This is just a couple rows. I can’t find a picture of the finished quilt. The white on the right is the sun shining on the pieces. 

We had guests for meals/fellowship/games/etc three times last week. My son-in-law was recently ordained. One of the verses that was read more than once was “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” (I Timothy 3:2). Blameless does not mean perfect, but in good standing with everyone. When offenses have occurred, he has asked for forgiveness. The phrase “given to hospitality” stuck in my mind. Why should a bishop/pastor be given to hospitality? I don’t have the complete answer, but I know when I show hospitality, whether to friends, strangers, those needing a place to lay their weary heads on a journey (like the dramatic touch?), I feel like I have opened myself up to those people. Connections are made that won’t be made in any other setting. I spend energy and time preparing not only food but a welcoming environment for them. I let them see us for just who we are. One of our guests last week was a new family to our church. Two very young parents and a sweet 3-year-old. They were here Friday night for hours. When I saw them at church on Sunday, there were smiles of connection and remembrance of the enjoyable time we had shared. It would have taken years to get to that point if our only contact was at our church services. 

Ironically, my daughter (same SIL’s wife) is doing a Bible study on hospitality. She is teaching a ladies’ Sunday school class at her church. She sent me the outline of her notes. It is wonderful, focusing on what resulted from different times of fellowship in the New Testament. So go forth and be hospitable.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

{Post 1,730} Two Finished Upcycled Shirt Tops!!

They are not pressed yet (tomorrow!)...but I just finished the second of the three shirt quilt tops. I love this one. Don’t get me wrong—I love most of my quilts. This one is just really cool. I am calling it Rails & Frames. It measures 72” x 60”. I hope I can piece an easy backing and just Get. It. Done. The pictures after the one of the whole top show some close-ups of my favorite shirt fabrics in the center of each picture. Each row of rails changed orientation 90 degrees. I am glad I went with this layout instead of my original plain rail quilt. 

I made lots more 2 + 4 = 6 blocks as I pieced this top, too. So fast and fun. 

Good night to all! It’s nearly midnight.