January blues

I am not a good winter person. The days are too short, the nights too long, and the temperatures too cold for me. Granted, I’m not exactly a summer heat person, either, but I do love the longer days of the summer months. I have always suffered from January blues, and this year is certainly no different. In fact, it may be a little worse than usual considering my personal situation this year.

When I found out in November that I was being laid off from my company, I had high hopes that I would be able to find another job internally before my mid-February exit date. But I work in the oil industry, andย as you may know, oil prices are in the tank. So I started looking externally last week. Job hunting is not one of my favorite activities, and I’ve been with my present company for nearly six years, so I’m a little rusty. However, it isn’t like the wolf will be at our door the minute I leave my job; there is a generous package, which will keep us going for many months if it’s necessary. Hopefully, that won’t be necessary, but it’s nice to have the safety net if it’s needed. In light of the present oil market and futures, moving on might be in my best interest, and fortunately I have skill sets that are applicable in a wide range of industries. Everything will work out just the way it’s supposed, of that I am sure.

Still, it isn’t easy to get on with the day to day life when you feel this unsettled. I’m doing what I can to keep myself distracted, though. I spent several hours last week preparing the Minions quilt for quilting. I spent most of Saturday cleaning and re-arranging my studio. Sunday morning, I decided to see how the Pfaff would do with free motion quilting (FMQ). I am by no means an expert, and I need LOTS of practice, but I have decided that I will never improve if I don’t actually start using FMQ in my quilting. So, I switched gears and decided to work on the Cat in the Hat quilt that I started FMQ on back when I still had the Janome 8900. That was like, two years ago! So yes, I thought, finishing that would be a great idea. I pulled out some scrap fabric and batting, and gave FMQ on the Pfaff a whirl.

My first attempt at free motion quilting on the Pfaff

My first attempt at free motion quilting on the Pfaff

I know it isn’t very good, but I was pretty happy with it since I haven’t attempted FMQ in at least two years. There is one pucker on the back of the sample, but I didn’t actually tack the layers together in any way, so I was a bit surprised there was only one pucker. I thought, Well, as long as I don’t try anything too crazy, this will work alright on the Cat quilt. So I moved the Pfaff to the sewing cabinet and got ready to quilt. Only … I realized that I didn’t have an extended flat surface on which to work. No extension table or cabinet insert to make the surface easier to work on, and nothing to tape down my Supreme Slider to so that the quilt would move easier. /sigh

I would have used the Brother – it has a bigger throat and I have a cabinet insert for it – but I cannot get it to FMQ, no matter what I try. I am going to try to get to the dealer soon to see if there’s anyone there who can help me figure out what I’m doing wrong, but for now it’s not an option. I do have an extension table for the Viking, but I haven’t tried any FMQ on it, even though I bought a foot for that purpose, but it isn’t quite as big in the throat area as the Pfaff, I think, and definitely not as big as the Brother. So I’m concerned it might be a bit of a trick working on it, but I don’t think I’ll be buying a table or insert for the Pfaff for a while, so if I can’t get the Brother to work I might try it out. In fact, I might try out a sample on it today, just to see how it handles FMQ.

In the meantime, I have block 11 of the 2014 Wishes BOM cut out and ready to assemble. I got sidetracked yesterday evening with making dinner, then I got sucked in to watching tv with Chris. But today I’m going to get that one together, and maybe get the 12th block cut out, at least. Once that’s done, all the blocks will be completed, and I can sash them and put a border or two on it and then that’s another quilt top completed. I have so many quilt tops finished right now, that if I can work out the FMQ thing, I will have practice pieces lined up for MONTHS. LOL None of these quilts are specifically ear-marked for anyone, though I am thinking I will give the Cat in the Hat to my grandson. Well … this is embarrassing to admit, but one of the quilt tops I made for my daughter, when she was about 10. She’s 22 now with a kid of her own. So I guess I’ll give that one to her when it’s done. But other than that, none of them have a specific destination yet. It would be really great if I could get them done and use them for gifts this year.

Have a good Monday, everyone!

Practice Quilt Top Completed

I know I haven’t written in a while but it took me a week to recover from the London trip, so time in the studio was pretty limited. However, I have completed the practice quilt top.

Practice Quilt Top Completed

 

Sorry it’s not a great photo; it was taken with the camera on my Smartphone. Tonight I’ll start to piece a backing for it.

I’m trying to find the pattern I used for Chris’s quilt, because Kerstin wants a quilt like it in different colors. So far, no luck. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Next quilt is the first baby quilt I’m making for Butterbean. ๐Ÿ™‚

January 15, 2014

Continued progress on the practice quilt … hopefully tomorrow I will be able to start determining layout.

I’m also considering new projects (because that’s what I need – NEW projects). I have one quilt I’ve been collecting fabrics for, and I think I’m almost ready to get that one started. And I still need to dig out the UFO’s and see what I have that can be completed.

And finally, I’m beginning to think about Christmas gifts I can make this year – I know it’s early but when you have so many people to make things for, you get an early start. Some of those projects will be “silent running” as some of the potential recipients can see these posts. First I guess I should make a list of people I want to make gifts for this year.

I took a couple days off

Sometimes a girl just needs a quilting break, so I took one. I worked on the practice quilt on the 12th, piecing blocks, then I did nothing on the 13th and 14th. Tonight I will probably do some more piecing. The problem is, the piecing on this quilt is B O R I N G. I know it’s not supposed to be exciting because you know … it’s a FMQ practice quilt. But that doesn’t change the fact that it isn’t doing much to hold my attention. I’ll just have to power through it, though …

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I’m trying to decide what I’ll work on after this, but I’m thinking it’s going to be some UFO that I forgot I had. Not sure which one yet because, well … I forgot about it!

January 11, 2014 – A new quilt begins

Earlier this week, I decided to put Dr Seuss on hold so I can practice some free motion quilting (FMQ) so I can FMQ some of the Dr Seuss quilt. I really hate practicing on small squares though; I find that I do better with a larger project, so I started putting together the practice quilt for the Free Motion Fillers, Vol. 1 class from Craftsy.com.

Practice Quilt

This is a pretty easy quilt so far (I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point, anyway) and the cost wasn’t too bad – about $50 total. So I might just make a couple more to practice on as well. These are all solid colors, obviously, and I’m using Kona cottons. But next time I might try ordering some Moda Bella solids to see how I like them – I’ve never tried them and I would like to give them a shot. I like Kona, and it’s a good quality but I’ve heard that Bella is a bit better. I’m going to use white thread to quilt with I think … I think white will show up better than black across all the colors.

Repurposing this blog

So, I didn’t exactly buy this blog from a resale shop or otherwise pick it up; it has always been mine, but I deactivated it in 2012 and combined all my blogging into this blog. However, I have decided that 2014 is the year of “Challenge” and I want to track my quilting progress throughout the year – which days I quilt, what I’m working on, things I’m thinking of making. This isn’t really a blog for others, though if anyone finds it and wants to read it, that’s cool. It will probably be fairly boring to anyone other than me, though. I might do some photos of quilts in progress, drawings, Electric Quilt doodles … really, there probably won’t be any form to this blog, but it should be functional. I had originally thought to use a calendar to jot down the days I quilted and to keep track of ideas, but after looking at the price of a bound calendar, I decided this was cheaper and gave me more leeway and the ability to be more creative. So, here I am. First a little catch up.

January 1, 2014 – Set challenge for January – quilt daily, start working on free motion quilting (FMQ) Worked on the Dr Seuss quilt; cut pieces out and pieced blocks, but no FMQ accomplished (see, the first day of my challenge for myself and already I fell off the wagon!).

January 2, 2014 – worked on the Dr Seuss quilt; pieced blocks and cut out sashing and borders. No FMQ – I’m sucking at this part of my challenge; need to step it up.

I’ll be back later with a photo of progress so far on this quilt for my January 3rd update. ๐Ÿ™‚

Pam’s quilt – completed!

Sorry I haven’t been around the last month – I just couldn’t get enough time to log in, let alone actually write a post. That’s what happens to me at year end, every year. No matter how well prepared I think I am, it all just falls apart. Such is the life of the corporate employed accounting types.

Anyway, I thought I’d eek out a few minutes to share with you the completed quilt I made for Pam. Can you believe it’s ready to ship?! I just started it the last week of October, and here it is the middle of December, ready to ship! If anyone had told me I could finish this quilt in just six weeks, I wouldn’t have believed them. And it turned out to be a very generous size as well – 60″ x 76″ … bigger than the average lap quilt, smaller than a twin size bed quilt. But enough about all that … Now for the quilt!

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This is the first quilt I’ve ever used Free Motion Quilting in, though I have practiced on squares several times. It’s not perfect, but I like the way it turned out …

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It’s sort of hard to see where the “mess ups” might be on the front (above) but on the back on some of the lighter colored fabric, it’s easier to see that it isn’t so fluid.

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And speaking of the back … I really like the way the back turned out!

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Yes, it is wonky, and yes, it is on purpose.

Overall, I am very pleased with how this quilt turned out, and I think it will be beautiful for years to come. I just hope Pam likes it as much as I do!