Thursday, November 21, 2013

Working at home

A little knock on the front door yesterday at 9 am and a man introduces himself as Mike when I answer.  He asks if I am the quilter and I wave him into the studio.  He works locally and sees my sign every day and has this idea about a gift for his girlfriend for Christmas. (Yesterday was November 20th) He wants me to construct a blanket for her kind of like something one of his sisters created for their grandparents that had a tree of life with branches going off with the names of each family member and a zipper at each name.  When you unzip the zipper there was something inside about that person (honestly, I had quit listening at “tree of life”).  I tell him I don’t sew for people, I quilt for people.  That making something like that is not possible in my schedule.  Oh, he did not really understand exactly what my process involved; he obviously stopped listening at “I’m a quilter.”
I tell him if someone assembled the “blanket” he wanted, I could schedule it for quilting but there was no possibility I could do it for this Christmas as I am scheduled out into March of 2014 already.  Ah, he was unaware how busy I could be. Ok, he decides he will think up another idea for his girlfriend’s Christmas present and he goes on his merry way.

Today the cat is bored.  I wish I could video the sound he makes running back and forth through the studio as he races from window to window.  There must be some pretty interesting stuff going on outside he has to keep track of.  He is fortunate we have so many windows!  The dog on the other hand is scared witless over the cat’s antics.  The cat swats the dog at every opportunity and is just a little bully.  The dog stays on her bed waiting for biscuits and meal time.  Oh and the occasional walk.

It is cold out.  The fire is blazing merrily in the Franklin stove at the back of the room.  A candle burns to eliminate the smoke. I am finishing up a custom quilt a day early so I am dreaming of quilting another of my own tops tomorrow.  I plan also to sew a little between bouts of quilting; it is how I get stuff done.

It is almost lunch time so when I go make my lunch I will put ingredients into the bread machine for a loaf of bread to go with the soup I will make for dinner. 
I really do love working at home.  I am blessed.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weekend Warrior of Sewing!

Leaders and Enders

I learned a wonderful trick years ago reading Bonnie Hunter’s web site, Quiltville, about using prepared cut fabrics to use as sew offs between blocks instead of using one scrap piece of fabric over and over. She dubbed these leaders/enders and set aside her slowly accumulating sewn together bits until she had enough to make a quilt with.  Those lovely little bits become blocks and become the current project to sew into a quilt top and another set of prepared scraps becomes the leader/ender project.

Over the years I have netted many “free” quilts which result in that little bit of stitching that is done after one block is done and I don’t want threads hanging from my sewing machine that I would have to hang onto to sew the next block together.

My current leader and ender project was not one I had been attracted to, but my friend, Pattie, wanted to do a project together and she fell in love with the Bow-Dacious! bow tie quilt in Bonnie’s Adventures with Leaders & Enders book.  I looked at this quilt many times before and rejected it out of hand because so many 1” squares are used and I don’t really want to sew stuff from squares that tiny.  When Pattie desired to make it, I had to think of a way that would seem easier for me to tackle it.  I do have bags and bags of sorted strips of fabric that are 1 ½” wide which I use in scrappy strip piecing blocks.  With my thinking cap on, I figured out a way to make using them work without having to cut a gazillion squares.

So the sorting and prepping begins. I have to take a break while I’m qulting and instead of sitting at the computer playing games or reading blogs, I can choose to go to my sewing machine and sew for the 10 minutes I need to sit.  I learned years ago when I had to wait for Emily’s bus to show morning and afternoon, that I could get an unbelievable amount of sewing done in 15/20 minute increments twice a day.  Sometimes back then those were the only minutes I had to spare to sew.  I got a lot of quilts done those two years the kids lived here in the early part of this decade.  They live here permanently now and I utilize their free time to my advantage doing various sorting and prepping when possible!
Laura sorting for the next step
Just for inspiration I have sewn ONE red bow tie together to encourage me to keep at this project.  Sewing the red as leaders/enders between setting triangles on the sides of a column quilt, I have completed almost all of the red four patch blocks in a weekend for the first part of my Bowdacious Bow Tie quilt. 
4" sets sewn and pressed

4" pressed sets ready to be trimmed

sets trimmed into pairs of 2 block units

green units to be sewn into 4 patch units

I will keep you updated on its progress over the next however many months it takes to complete. If you want to learn how to utilize your scraps to their fullest potential I recommend you take a look at Bonnie’s website for her ideas.  She provides a lot of free patterns as well as an opportunity to purchase her many books.