Monthly Archives: February 2014

Tuesday Tip! Slow but Steady

Slow Progress is Better than No Progress

Today’s tip isn’t so much a tip, as it is a bit of encouragement.

If there’s ever a time of year to get “stuck,” it seems to be about now.   It’s the last Tuesday in February & at least here in Northern Virginia, it was snowing again (much to the chagrin of many of my fellow neighbors who ready for Spring!)

It’s also been long enough into the new year that you may find yourself distracted or burned out from your New Year’s Resolutions.  I know I had great plans for the early part of this year- wanting to get several UFOs completed before the baby comes, but reality is I’ve done very little to nothing on those projects.  Something else is always getting put ahead & there seems to be a hundred things on my plate that need to get done this week.  The typical tips to get out of this rut irritate me- encouraging me to “refocus” as though I need a huge priority shift.  While I’ll say yes, sometimes we do need to make large shifts, I’ve found that if I just make a small shift everyday, I can make progress.

Slow & Steady.  These are the words I need to remind myself of in these times.  Instead of looking at that box of Scrapitude pieces & thinking that top will never get pieced before April, I need to start saying “today I’ll work on 15 minutes of piecing, which I can do while dinner is baking.”  Instead of looking at that UFO that’s still not fully quilted, I need to start saying “today I’ll quilt the purple, then tomorrow the blue, etc.”

Slow & Steady.

I may not be able to get as much done in one sitting as I’d like, but little bits over time will make all the difference.

Where can you start making small changes?

(Also, did you notice the new header!!!!  Yes, slowly even the blog/website is being transitioned into something more!)

edited to add: Just found out that Darla, the Scientific Quilter will be hosting her March A Long again! This is a great support group for sewing 15 minutes a day!

Weekend Roundup- Free Patterns 2/23/14

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but I wanted to start regularly posting a collection of free patterns (both quilting & sewing) that I’ve found during the week.  Some will be new, some will be older, but hopefully you’ll enjoy them all!

Bailey’s Crossroads from Swim, Bike, Quilt (my fellow Northern Virginia friends will understand this reference!)

Beach Ball Baby Quilt Tutorial from Moda Bake Shop (Cute quilt using 2 1/2″ strips!)

Reusable Swiffer Cover pattern from Berlin’s Whimsy (She suggests using terry cloth, but I’d use towels purchased at a resale shop, or old towels from around the house)

Double Tulip Pincushion (paper pieced) from Samelia’s Mum (because paper piecing is fun & we all have little scraps!)

I hope you enjoy!  And if you make any of these projects, I’d love to see them!

Tuesday Tip! How to Keep a Quilting WIP Organized

One aspect I love about quilting is how we take hundreds, sometimes thousands of small pieces & create something beautiful out of them!
One aspect I really dislike about quilting is keeping track of those hundreds or thousands of pieces…..
It used to be simple for me, I mostly worked on one project at a time, either at home or at my LQS during a class.  Then things (as they are wont to do) got complicated fast.  I started teaching more so a project would be interrupted so I could make a class sample.  Then there were the moves, then I started some challenging projects for myself that could only be worked on when I had quiet time to myself, oh & then the retreats started (so I needed easier projects to work on in a talkative group) as well as the block of the month projects (and who can have just one going on at a time?).
Yes, things got crazy fast & I found if I didn’t keep things together in a way I could keep track of, I’d ignore a project just because I had no idea where I was at.
I started with bins.  Nothing fancy, just bins that closed nicely & would fit on my shelves.  I believe they are the 18 qt. bins.
Then I gathered a bunch of empty plastic resealable bags from various projects.  Some came from kits, some from LQS block of the month projects, some from my kitchen drawer, you get the idea.
Then as I was cutting away, I would put all my cut pieces in a bag with a post-it note (or scrap of paper) that gave me a clue as to what was in the bag.
Here are a bunch of notes I wrote for the Scrapitude mystery quilt.  You can even see where I kept track of how many I had already cut & how many I still needed to cut.  (Again, I didn’t go out & buy anything special, I just used what I had around the house):
Then as pieces are sewn into larger blocks, I would put those in a bag & note how many where there & if I needed to sew anymore blocks.  (ok, so there are no notes in these bags, but you get the idea, right?)
All the different segments/plastic bags are kept in the same bin, with the pattern or picture at the top, so I could literally grab a bin & start working!
This became especially helpful for various mystery quilts like Scrapitude where you only received one clue a month.
Then when a quilt top is completely pieced, I sew the binding & the backing & place them in the “to be quilted” pile.  Then I go through the remaining fabric and decide what will be put back in fabric bins & what will be cut down into scraps.  Then the bin is empty to be used for the next project!!
So this is the system that works for me, I hope you can take pieces of it & tweak it into something that works for you!  Do you have another system?  I’d love to hear how you keep track of your WIPs!

Nick’s Christmas Quilt

First, yes, you read that correctly, I’m blogging about a quilt I gave at Christmas in February.  It’s been that kind of year!

I’ve been planning quilts for my in-laws for quite some time no (I think 2 or 3 years actually…)  I gave my Mother-in-law, Donna her quilt back in April (& I really need to find that photo…. I think it’s on J’s phone….) and gave my Father-in-law, Nick his quilt this past Christmas.

Both quilts were carefully planned in that I wanted the fabric choices & design to be reflective of who they are.

Nick's Quilt

Now Nick is quite possibly the most down to earth man you’ve ever met!  He can talk to and make friends with anyone regardless of what they do or where they come from.  He may have had a white collar job in factories for the past 30 years, but he’ll be the first to tell you he’s more comfortable down in the manufacturing plant than in any conference room.

He’s also the most frugal man you’ve ever met.  Making due and fixing whatever’s around him.

Nick's Quilt

So I knew the fabric for his quilt needed to be from men’s shirts I bought at various thrift stores around town.  J & I both agreed the colors needed to be green- partly because he went to Michigan State & partly because he loves to be outside hunting & gardening.

Judy Allen's Lynn's Ferns on Nick's Quilt

The longarm design I chose was the leafy panto from Judy Allen called “Lynn’s Ferns” which I think added a nice movement to the masculine fabrics and square/rectangle shapes.

Nick's Quilt Back

And the backing had to be Michigan State fabric! (& Rizzo couldn’t resist “helping” with the binding!)

Nick was truly surprised Christmas morning to get his quilt & loved the fabrics- it was a wonderful joy to give him this quilt.

Tuesday Tip! Cleaning Your Iron

Tuesday Tip!  Cleaning Your Iron with
I recently noticed my wonderful Rowenta iron was in need of a good clean….

While I do try to treat this iron well & I don’t purposefully get it gunky, over the years there’s been a build up of wonder under residue, some t-shirt quilt adventures, and starch (I *really* love my starch!).

I’ve tried the various frugal methods out there to include: windex (that was so bad I actually thought I might have ruined the iron!) and the dryer softener sheets (made it worse & then I had more gunk to wipe off), but none really cleaned the iron plate.

I decided to actually buy an iron cleaner from the store (gasp!  I typically don’t buy things like this!) & after balking at the price (over $7 in my part of the country!) I was able to find it (specifically “Dritz Iron-Off Hot Iron Cleaner) at a box craft store where I could use a coupon.

I was hesitant (had I just bought another chemical that wouldn’t do anything?), but in the end it worked so well, I can’t believe I spent all that time with the other methods.

The directions were easy:
1. Turn off steam & set iron to High heat
2. Put a dollop of the iron cleaner on a rag (I used an old towel)
3. Iron over the goo on the towel in a circular motion, until all the goo has been ironed into the towel
4. Check the iron to see if you need to repeat the process

Now my iron was really bad, so I had to do this about 3 times, but wow did it come out all nice & shiny!  It now literally glides over the fabric!!

In the end I want to say this tip isn’t about this particular brand of iron cleaner- I just wanted to share how well it worked for me.  It doesn’t actually matter how you clean your iron (I’d be sure to check with your manufacturer first about their recommended cleaning processes though) just that you keep your iron clean so it will last & not damage or leave marks on your projects.

There are many ways to clean an iron out there, I’d love to hear what’s worked for you!