Monday, January 27, 2014

My Workspace - New & Improved

My Juki and my cutting mat have been living together way too long.  It's time for a divorce.
If I want to quilt, the cutting mat is in my way and I have to find a place to store it and all the tools that go with it.

If I want to cut, I have to lower my Juki to it's storage position below to make room for the cutting mat.

Yes, I know that's what the Horn Sewing Tables are designed to do, but if I have to "un-store" my machine every time I want to use it, I don't use it as much.  And the only way I'm going to improve my free-motion quilting skills is to practice more.  That means having the machine up and ready to go when I have 5 minutes free to practice.
So, to shorten a long story, I decided to switch things up.

The first problem was the pressing table.  The white table you see below was my parent's kitchen table when they were first married back in the early '50's.  While it has been great for pressing, it's just a little too big for my space, and this is the only place I could put it.  See that banquet table behind it, that's totally buried in "stuff"???  I know - you can hardly see it...  That's the problem...  I had a perfectly good table hiding back there that had just become a dumping ground.  And the space underneath it was useless because I couldn't get to that either...  What a mess...

So I spent the better part of a day clearing out the entire space, cleaning all the dust and cobwebs out (remember, this is a basement!), and created a new "cutting station".
What a difference!  I now have a huge cutting area with all my rulers nearby, and have the added bonus of storage space below!  Now you're probably wondering about the pressing table that I lost in the process...
That was my next project.  I found a wood bookshelf that was just the right size, and spent day two building a "big board" pressing surface for the top (with a little help from the hubby, of course).  I used Sharon Schamber's Pressing Board tutorial, but added a layer of Insul-bright on top of the OSB.  Probably not necessary, but what the heck - can't hurt...
It took a while to staple the canvas in place, and I don't look forward to doing that again any time soon, so I also made a pretty cotton cover using one of my favorite fabrics from V & Co's Simply Color collection.  I just hemmed the edges of a rectangle that was slightly bigger than the top, and hand-basted it to the canvas on the underside.  That seems to hold it snuggly in place and when it's time to wash it, or replace it, I'll just snip the stitches and re-do the top.
The bookshelf is 12" x 36", and the pressing board is 18" x 48" - just the right size for pressing a full width of quilting fabric.  And there is room on the shelves below for all my bolts of interfacing and batting that I use for my purses and quilts.  It's right next to the table that houses my Bernina, so it's handy when I'm piecing as well.
And the table in the foreground where you see my Juki is now free for quilting.  No more moving the cutting mat every time I want to quilt.  I now have dedicated areas for cutting, pressing, piecing & quilting.
I'm lovin' my Cotton Cellar!

Now I need to get back to work on Family Ties #3, the third in the series of quilts from neckties.  Strips are all sewn and ready to be assembled into a quilt top.  More details soon!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Moon Dance - a completed UFO

I just finished my first UFO for 2014.
  Moon Dance has been on the shelf half finished for quite some time now and I'm thrilled to see it completed.

I learned two new techniques while making this quilt.  First was the pieced skinny curves.  I took a work shop from Carol Taylor a few years ago called Sensuous Lines and Curves just so I could learn this technique.  There are no templates or rulers involved - just free-form cutting with a rotary cutter.  Her piecing tips make it easy!

After making the blocks, I decided that this would be a good project to experiment with this Quilt-As-You-Go technique from Mari at The Quilting Edge.  I adore Mari's work, and have wanted to try this method for ages.  You quilt the blocks first, then join them together with strips.  I chose the same fabric as my background for the joining strips on the front, so the skinny curves remain the focus of the quilt.  I'm very pleased with the results and will definitely be doing more of this in the future!  (If you missed my post about quilting the blocks, click here.)

Once the blocks were all joined, I decided to bind it with the same fabric I used for the background, and just add narrow light green piping as an accent around the edge.  Skinny curves call for skinny piping.

And here's a shot of the back.  Kona Ash.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Binding Family Ties #2

Family Ties #2 is back from the longarm quilter, and just like Family Ties #1, it's beautiful.  Thanks Sue!  I just love the quilting design she used.  Here's a shot of the back so you can really see the quilting.

The binding is a scrappy  mix of all the tie fabrics, and it adds so much interest to the quilt.

I sewed the binding to the front of the quilt last night, then machine stitched it to the back this morning.  I'm really hooked on this method of stitching-in-the-ditch to secure the back side of the binding, now that I've got it down pat.  I think it's much more secure than hand stitching, and should last a lifetime - hopefully several!  The first few times I tried this method, I had to go back and redo a few spots where I missed the edge of the binding, but on the the last few quilts it has turned out perfect!  I guess a little practice helps afterall...

Now it just needs to be labeled and shipped...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tasting Table Tuesday - I'm Home

Refreshed, Renewed, Relaxed...  Home from Retreat.
It's amazing how wonderful it is to spend 4 days in the company of some amazing friends.  We sewed, laughed, sang, ate, and ate some more.  Good food, good friends, and quality quilting time.  It doesn't get any better than that...

Here's my little corner.  My  new pressing table worked great!  I love it and might even use it at home!

 And a big "thank-you" to my generous friend Cindy, who made machine mats for everyone!  I just love the Bobbins & Bits fabric, and the mesh pockets are perfect for stashing tools and phones.

 Saturday night was Pasta Night...  Yum!!!

 And despite all the fun, I still managed to be somewhat productive.  I now have 34 blocks done for my Scrappy Trip Around The World quilt.  Only 14 more to go...

So for now......

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Trying To Stay Warm

It was 9 degrees BELOW zero when I got up this morning!  It's a good day to have a big quilt in your lap to bind!
I've been working on several projects as we start into 2014 - hope my momentum continues throughout the year.
After finishing a custom order for a large Buttercup Bag... 
I started preparing for my upcoming Quilting Retreat.  What a great time of year to hunker down for a few days of some serious sewing, laughing, eating and bonding with some great friends in a warm and cozy place.
I have wanted to make on of these pressing tables for ages, so I finally took the plunge and got 'er done!  I'm sure it will get well used in the next few days!
Of course, I've got to have a project to work on...  The Scrappy Trip-Around-The-World quilt has been on my list for a while now, so I spent some time cutting 288 strips (no two alike).
They are now all sorted into stacks of 6 strips, to make 48 blocks like this one...
This will be MY quilt, to use on my bed at our Retreat.  I love the fact that I can identify every fabric in the quilt and remember what I made with each.  Now to see how far I get this weekend...  My goal is to make all the blocks, but we'll see....  As I'm warm and with friends, I'll be happy.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas Project Review #2

Bet you remember seeing a quilt called "Juicy" all over the internet last year.  I loved it when I saw it, and so did my Daughter-In-Law.  Remember when she sent me a box full of her fabric scraps and asked me to make a rather large batch of fabric journals?  Well, I had lots of fabric left over, and promised her a scrap quilt.  So that's what I made for her Christmas gift this year.

I wish I had gotten better pictures before I shipped it, but the weather wasn't nice enough to take them outdoors and this is the best I could do inside.
It's a large throw-size quilt and I used minkee on the back, with bamboo batting in between - both are her favorites.
Hope everyone enjoyed New Year's Eve last night!  Here's to a wonderful 2014.