Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Lots of Things Going On This Month

What have I been up to? Oh the list is so very long! For one thing thing, at the prompting of Ann, I attempted to clean up my blog. That resulted in having to eliminate a few widgets that I rather liked, such as 'LinkWithin', thumbnails at the bottom of each post to previous, but similar subject matter. I don't understand a lot of it, but don't want people to feel unsafe coming to my site.
The Big Woven Basket quilt in the hoop....
I cleaned up some of the clutter, deciding to keep the 'Current Quilt in the Hoop' at the top of the sidebar. You've probably seen the progression of hand quilting projects there for years and years now. The latest quilt in the hoop happens to be 'Big Woven Basket'. It was one of those improv. projects that also sort of jumped into my Big Basket quilt series. I really love this one so was happy to get this one sandwiched and snug in the hoop awaiting quilting efforts.
Getting it ready for quilting
The hand quilting has been really sporadic on this one though, not an every night sort of thing like I expected. Sometimes I want to hand quilt so badly that's all the quilting that happens of an evening, but with other quilts, it's a different story. I've discovered that it's usually a stitching dilemma most of the time. Decisions, decision! If I can just push through, then it all gets sorted out and I'm back in the groove of wanting to stitch again.With a quilt like this, I often tend to get paralyzed at the thought of 'what' to stitch in those wide open borders. Stencils are just not my thing, so it can take me awhile to make up my mind how to address all that yawning emptiness. It's scary. That's where people can more readily see the stitching...
Always trying to figure out the game plan for stitching!
Being a new year, I've also been diligently trying to trim down the open ended quilt project list. How can I start all these new projects tantalizing me if I have oodles of old projects demanding my time and attention? One of the things that help to make certain projects drag on for so long is the addition of applique. Which is totally fine by me. There are always at least two or three {or more} projects that need applique attention around here and that is completely by design!
Quarter Circles sewn together
Eventually they all need some piecing work done on the machine though. This particular project was started with the leftover quarter circles cut from the back of another project. Rather than throwing them away, I saved them for a rainy day. In my original thinking, these blocks {after the spiky bits were added}, would have been left in the quarter circle presentation and simple joined together in rows. Then sometime during layout auditions, I absolutely fell in love with the look of four quarter circle blocks being joined together and making a sort of 'sun'.
Initial block layout
Okay. So off in that direction we went, having a grand old time. The reality was, unfortunately, that I wasn't truly happy with so much lightness glaring out at from what had become a busy, busy quilt. I played with all sorts of colors and ideas for sashing , alternate blocks,and/or applique in the centers. Finally, I settled on a cream/gray text fabric for the sashing and a basic dark fabric for the cornerstone squares. The text fabric was a last ditch effort to find something, anything and it worked because it adds whimsy, which I love. The center of the larger blocks took quite a bit more time and effort and in the end I just had to sleep on the idea one more night. The final solution just seemed way too easy, which always makes me nervous for some inexplicable reason.
Looking at the applique centers
Can you see that the circle applique is all the same fabric? The pink with white print really did the trick for me. And it's not a great fabric, just a basic two toned floral print! What's funny is that I pulled it directly out of the scrap bin totes, all that was left from the backing fabric on another quilt! Nothing else even came close to giving the feel that I was looking for. Okay then. All the circles were rough cut in different sizes and deliberately placed slightly off center. It's a really subtle thing from a distance, but really gives excellent feel-good vibes. Well, to those of us who like that sort of imperfection....

At least one thing about this project has remained constant from the beginning! Back in 2017, I saw a picture over at Kankerdoodle blog. At that moment, I knew the antique crows would be making their way into a quilt of mine at at later date! Isn't it funny the things that set off a spark of inspiration? I've been fiddling around with the parts and pieces, trying to expand the graphic out to a longer border look. Still have to get the bias stem sewn up of course, but I'm almost at the point of being able to situate the pieces and get them ready for the applique stitching.
Playing with the applique border parts and pieces for antique crows border
And last but not least has been the quilt room re-organization, de-clutter attempt. It started when I took an afternoon and pulled out a few small totes worth of scraps, thinking to use them in my string quilt blocks. The impulse was very strong to get rid of all the rest of the scraps--just toss them into the dumpster!
The larger scrap re-organization attempt....
Being a frugal soul, I resisted and delayed, thinking there had to be a better solution. Then one evening I read through Cheryl's 'KonMari Your Sewing Room Space'. I've heard lots about the book and recent show, but am not much of a trend follower honestly! Cheryl's blog though, is something I generally read. This post was very timely for me as it hit on several of the key things I had been struggling with. 
Getting things organized....
Although I do keep things fairly tidy {else I couldn't ever even function properly}, the scrap bin for sure had gotten completely out of control, my love of quilting books were crowding into every corner of my space and entirely too much 'stuff' had resulted in yes, a feeling of being flooded and overwhelmed.  Cheryl made the case that , 'We are sewers and quilters, arguably everything we have for creating sparks joy - eventually.'  That really made me think. She gets it, us, the whole creators extraordinaire! Maybe I should pay attention and see how it could apply to my lovely mess.

She started from a different angle altogether, and broke things down into simple categories. Then she lined out a plan of attack in a direct and no-nonsense way that totally made sense to me. And part of the good timing was that it happened during those days while I had such a bad head cold so didn't feel like doing much else. Otherwise, I might never have done anything but read through the post and think 'what a good idea that is, maybe I'll get to it sometime later in the year...'
The wall of totes between my sewing room
and my sons bedroom....
It took three very long days, but I went through every single drawer, tote and shelf except for the stash fabric itself. In the end, I tossed out three black garbage bags full of stuff and kept back one box of quilting books, patterns, blocks etc. to give to some quilting friends. I organized ALL of the scraps by color and put them into totes--something I've always scoffed at before. If they don't see a whole lot more use by being organized in this manner, then the goal is to eventually start tossing certain un-used colors at the time of cutting. I keep all the stash fabrics in opaque totes so that the sun doesn't bleach them, but the scraps were put into see-through totes. Hopefully this way they will catch my eye on occasion and inspire me to do a little bit of string play or whatever. It just feels weird to keep so many scraps, but I could NOT ditch them all, though I did dump more than you realize. Part of one black garbage bag was filled with scrap fabric. That's a start!

My quilting space feels so much better now. It's been needing this for several years now. I was brutal in throwing/giving away things that hadn't been looked at for a very long time {other than the scraps}. The books are down to two shelves and a small book caddy on my ironing counter. All the old thread has been discarded and the batting remnants organized by size into two totes or otherwise tossed. All the old applique templates {kept from every project ever attempted}, have been gone through and reduced to a small drawer full. I found things that I didn't even know were lurking in the corners of my quilt room! It felt good though I was exhausted every single evening after. 

The stash fabric itself is still up in the air. As long as it fits into the current totes I use, it feels okay. One of the things I love most about scrappy quilts and flying blindly through quilt making, is the idea that I can somehow manage to use a piece of unloved, deep in the stash totes kind of fabric and make them shine. Tossing every piece of stash fabric that is years old, an odd color or so-dated-as-to-be-ugly might take away from my joy. So I'm calling it good. Brushing my hands together in a 'project finished', 'putting it all behind me' sort of way. The lure of those new projects is starting to sound pretty irresistible....


  1. Good work on the clean-up! You don't have to take responsibility for using every scrap. It's time for me to sort mine, too. I never have sorted scraps by color but maybe I should try it. I do use them, but typically within pieced borders. Feature fabrics still take center stage.

    Right now I'm considering my next step in a Lone Star/New York Beauty mash-up. Starting to sort it out, I think...

  2. it does feel so much better to de-clutter and organize I am so with you there and at times I too have thought to toss almost all of it in the trash but the frugal soul I am too would have a major hissy fit if I did that - I couldn't live with myself :) I am determined to keep using all this up in my life time and I have less time to do it then you I am sure but I am determined!!

  3. Sounds like you have been having a serious clean out, and sometimes throwing/giving away is the best thing! I love your 'quarter circles' with the sashing, your colour combo of the pinks, purples & gold? is lovely together. And having the different backgrounds really caught my eye!

  4. Stunning Big Woven Basket quilt and Quarter Circles! Interesting to read about your cleaning up on the blog, something I need to work on I think, and I read the post from Cheryl and thought it a brilliant piece. I have had the Marie Kondo book since it first came out and I'm just watching her series on Netflix. I am actually folding!!!! Good for you actually working on your sewing room using her method.

  5. Having a clean out can be so liberating. There are a few part in my house that need a serious clean out. I do miss the link on your blog where I could go to older posts. I have used it very often to jump to older parts of your blog.

  6. I feel cleaner just reading this. Thanks for the inspiration! Love your circle solution and I can't wait to see those crows stitched up.

  7. Lovely quilt in the hoop;))) i have trouble discarding --because the moment I do: I find that I "need" it or want it for a new project. ;000 Quelle dommage... I have a lot of fat 1/4s (mostly what I purchase) that I hope to try to dig into this year...a LOT of BLUES... You sound like you have a good handle on your "Stuff" ;))) hugs, Julierose

  8. Great fabric choice for the baskets. You remain an inspiration. Blessings.

  9. I'm so glad you cleaned up your blog (THANK YOU!) and your sewing room. I always feel better when I get things straightened out. That said, there's too much stuff. Need to go through it again. I have been gifting quilts madly though.
    I love all your projects and see commonalities between your big basket and quarter circles. The light adds good value contrast to those delicious purples.

  10. I loved seeing what you are working on and seeing your scrap piles so organized!
    My sewing room is calling for a cleanup and that will happen soon!

  11. You have really persevered! I takes so long to do something worthwhile like organizing a sewing space. I wish I could see my all my fabric in my small sewing space. At this point I don't even have room for large plastic totes like I would like. I need to be content with what I have - right? I love the new quilt. It has so much movement and just makes me smile. Nice job!

  12. Whew! You've been busy! It feels good with a refreshed workspace. Just reorganizing bring a new spark to sometimes even the oldest fabrics or ideas.

  13. Audry, There are so many beautiful quilts you are working on! I really love that woven basket. I am like you, can't handle the stencils, I prefer random, organic hand quilting all the time and it works for my quilts. Your sewing room - all cleaned up looks fabulous! I wish for a sewing room this year. I sure hope it comes true! xo

  14. I LOVE your big basket quilt. Congratulations on your clean up!

  15. First, I LOVE your pink circle quilt. It is wonderful. Thank you for the nudge to clean up my blog and my sewing studio. Like you, I kept postponing and also wishing my studio was nicer. Instead of looking like a bomb went off in it. I found the article by Cheryl, "KonMari your Sewing Room Space" very helpful. Her approach cajoled me into tackling the problem and I already have hauled 2 arm loads out and to the thrift shop. Onward!

  16. I have to tell you that I love, love the basket piece you have in the hoop. At first glance, in the small picture on my Bloglovin' list, the basket pieces looked like stripes of hand embroidered x's. That would have added work to your basket making! I like the way the stripe piece sin the basket are more random cut and no worry to straight stripe lines. The colors are something I like very much too.

  17. What I struggle most with when organizing and cleaning-up is the knowledge that things will get worse before they get better. I'm glad you pushed-through, and I can't wait to see what you create with your scraps now!

  18. I am very glad you are keeping the 'current quilt in the hoop' - I enjoy the reminder of what you are quilting and somehow it motivates me too. Well done on your clearout - getting rid of clutter always makes me feel better about life, though like you I am inclined to keep old/ugly scraps - sometime they turn out to be the perfect answer to a problem.

  19. The only perfect system is the one that works for you. I am inspired by your determination to purge/sort/organize. I've done a bit of that myself this month, but could benefit from much more. Thanks for the encouragement!

  20. Literally tossing?! Or donating somewhere? Either way, glad to hear that your space feels better!


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