Friday, September 30, 2011


Well -- let's be frank.  Procrastination can be fun when you're a quilter.  There are lots of dips and turns and creativity that can come as you work on one project and are distracted by another.  I am certainly guilty of that this week.

The cover quilt for the October issue of American Patchwork and Quilting came at just right time.  I needed to make a quilt for a special friend's son who is getting married and most of my fabric is in storage.  Lucky for me -- I brought all my FQ and smaller pieces for our foray into temp living and the bride loves all things Autumn -- particularly the colors.

So -- with the blessing of her soon-to-be-mother-in-law, I started cutting 2.5" and 3" squares out of my browns, reds, oranges, deep yellows, greens, and a few purples -- and every scrap of "neutral" I had that fell in the buttercream family.  This quilt requires 50 blocks and each block requires eight HSTs at 2.5".  I am one of those quilters who cuts the squares at 3", does the double seam, and then after pressing them open, trims every single HST to 2.5".  I could have avoided this "fun" by cutting the original square at 2 7/8" but I prefer the accuracy.  The tiny little pile with the red paisley on top is the stack of "trimmed" blocks -- the mountain still needs trimming and squaring up!

This has been a marathon of sewing and sewing and sewing followed by  trimming and trimming and trimming -- not to mention pressing seams open.  You get the idea.  The pile felt insurmountable.  The wedding is in mid October.  I need to be making stars and stars and stars.

But -- instead, I got sidetracked and started playing with the scraps.  I have never been taken by the "crumb" fever that has been prevalent since Bonnie Hunter made the very valid point that scraps still cost $9 per yard (and now $10) and need to be used.  Jo at Jo's Country Junction has been hosting a "Crumb Along" and I've been reading along but not crumbing along.  Until now. And I just had to make one 6.5" block which took much longer than the star.  This is not good.  My scrap bin exploded and I know how big the basket of scraps is that is packed and coming in three weeks.  I do not need to get started with this -- but it was kind of fun and it's so rewarding to be using little pieces that are too small/thin for strings.  Oh, dear......

One down and  49 to go!   Keep piecing -- no matter how small!  Jan

PS -- I'm linking to Lily's Quilts Small Blog Meet (button to the right).  She regularly sponsors this as a way for smaller bloggers to get some new readers and possible followers.  Check out her blog as well as the Small Blog Meet!  Both are worth your time!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Things I've learned in the last three weeks!

  1. Retirement is fun and thus far, no adjustment necessary.  I've fallen right into not working and loving it!  Probably means the time was right.
  2. Hawaii is beautiful.  Colors reminded me of batiks wherever I went.  Weather was grand, food was mediocre, company was great, culture is fascinating, and getting there and back is a chore.
  3. Destination weddings are challenging.  But if the bride is happy, we're all happy.  My niece was a beautiful bride and her sister was equally radiant!  
  4. Moving is a pain -- and we don't even have furniture yet.  Living in a house on twin mattresses and box springs and whatever kitchen accouterments we had in temp living has its moments.  We at least have a fridge so keeping Diet Cokes cool is easier.  We have at least another month of this as we deal with painters, electricians, tilers, plumbers,  and counter people.  In many ways it's easier because you don't have all your stuff to keep moving and working around -- and I have to keep telling myself that when I need something that is in storage.
  5. Quilting is harder -- lacking furniture is the first problem (solved with a borrowed table) -- but being tired and distracted is the other problem.  I so miss it.  I've stayed connected with a few quilt bloggers from my iPad and am envious of new starts, finishes, focus on BOMs, designing, and hearing about normal life.  Since patience has never been a virtue I've excelled in -- I will have to continue to live vicariously through all of you and relish your work, pin it to my Pinterest page for inspiration and reminders, and keep dreaming of what I want to do.
I'll leave you with an idea of how much fun we have ahead of us!

Keep piecing and I'll keep enjoying your progress!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What's the diff?

I think I'm giving up -- and that goes against my grain!  The photo on the left is a project I started 2 years ago and I managed to get 8 of these made with various beautiful Asian prints.  But I've lost steam and can't even seem to be able to get myself focused to finish one more so I could at least use them in a 3 X 3 layout.

It's all paper piecing and intended to use up my leftover Asian fabrics.  It is based on an incredible quilt that was made by a Japanese quilter from old sari fabric and called "fireworks".  And it was aptly named if you've ever seen it -- it was beautiful and huge.  I would love to see it in person because I suspect it really glows.

I think the crux of the problem is that I don't really like paper piecing and maybe this is too much of the same thing over and over -- even though the fabrics were beautiful.  I contrast that with the New York Beauty which is more intricate piecing but every element was different fabric and challenging. I'm sure it's not the fabrics -- I love both types.  And it's not the process because I feel the same about it when I'm doing it.

So -- what is it?  Monotony?  Goodness knows that I've gotten bored with piecing a quilt where it was the same block (and even fabric) over and over.  But I usually persevere.  Not this time.  I've waited over a year for my "clean up" mode to kick in and re-motivate me to finish leftover projects.  Hasn't happened with this one.

I'm curious -- what do you do when you lose your mojo for a project?  I really do love these fabrics and I think it has the opportunity to be a striking quilt (wallhanging?  8 small pillows?).    I've kept the fabric in its own tote since I want to make sure to preserve the black I'm using so that I don't have a shade shift if I end up having to use a different black.  It's obvious, I haven't had the heart to mainstream the fabrics back into my stash which tells me I still have a little attachment to it.  But somehow, I'm not feeling it (of course, that's good since it's in storage with all our furniture somewhere!).  Any suggestions?

On a personal note, we close on a house today and leave for vacation tomorrow.  Timing is everything and this is a bit crazy.

Aloha!  Jan

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Small Blog Meet

What a great idea!  Lily's Quilts is hosting a Small Blog Meet (among other things) for newer blogs with 50 or fewer followers.  In the consideration of how one might participate is to share a little about yourself and why you blog.

That's a great question and has led me to think about why I started this late last year.  In reality, I had two purposes.  One was to see if I liked it (and apparently I like it well enough that I try to post every week and marvel at those of you that post every day or multiple times a week).  The other was I knew that retirement was close and I would be leaving Chicago and all my quilting friends and community to go to an area that was not nearly so robust in quilting.  I am on the precipice of that very move tomorrow so the timing of my reflections is perfect.

I have gotten so much more from blogging than I expected...

  1. I have learned so many different techniques that I wouldn't have been exposed to
  2. I have seen incredible quilts that I absolutely wouldn't have been exposed to
  3. I have found a sense of community that I am going to need in a matter of days
  4. I have tried (and sometimes abandoned) things I have seen
  5. I have bought fabric and tools that I might not have learned of elsewhere
  6. I have stretched and slowly shared a bit more of my personal self over the months
  7. I have developed a deeper appreciation and admiration for the creativity, generosity, and wealth of knowledge that exists among quilters.  Wow!
The intent is exposure -- so I would encourage readers to link to Lily's site (via the link above or the button on the right) and not only admire her work and what she is doing for the newer quilting community -- but also try the list of smaller blogs to see if you'd like to be a follower.  I don't believe in "following for following's sake" -- not every blog is a fit nor is there time to read them.  But there are gems out there and this is a way to "test drive" a blog you might not have found on your own.

Keep piecing -- Jan (who needs to change her profile as I'm not sure I am a "new blogger" any longer)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Quilting as Therapy

What a week!

Retirement!  Tears!  Reflection!  More tears!  Generosity!  Friends!  Support!  More tears!  Joy!  Gratitude!  and  then.... Quilting!

This has been a week that has been a long time coming and has been very humbling and joyful and sad -- it's a little more weird than I expected and when I didn't know what to do or was restless, I sewed.

Quilting as Therapy has a lot of promise I think.

You may remember the incredible Kaffe jelly roll of shot cottons and wovens.  Those have slowly been  sashed on two sides with brown Kona.  And those one patches have slowly become pairs ... and some of the pairs have now become 4 patches.

I've been slow and deliberate and in no rush.  Just pushing fabric through the machine at a fairly steady state.  And since this is therapy and not a race, I've been doing quality control checks as each block comes out and if I don't like the matching, I just rip it out and re-pin it and sew it again. I'm pressing the seams open and I'm taking my time.

This really is a case of it being about the journey rather than the destination.  I know that destination thinking is on the horizon but this has been exactly what I needed.  There have been hours and hours of cutting as my wonderful June Tailor strip cutter was packed and put in storage.  All these little 1" sashing strips were cut by hand.

The 4 patches will soon become 16 patches and then a quilt top.  Most normal people would have sashed on one side and made strips.  That would have been faster, taken less fabric and been equally effective.  I tend to be a little touchy about blocks lining up and find that when I do a horizontal strip across the width of the quilt, the blocks tend to float and don't line up perfectly.  That is not the end of the world -- but for this project, I wanted the workmanship to be reasonably good and I had the time for precision.

We pack tomorrow (my machine will be behind the seat in my car so I know it's okay), leave on Sunday and head to KY and to a hotel for a few more days before vacation.  It will soon be handwork therapy until we get back "home".

Quilting as Therapy definitely has promise!

Keep piecing, Jan