Finish Up Friday

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I’m sure most of you have already seen this picture on Instagram or in the Late Night Quilters group on Facebook but I wanted to share it here too because I’m just so proud of myself and I want to clarify a few things.

I’m in another group on Facebook that is made up solely of people who have Sherri Lynn Wood’s book Improv Handbook for the Modern Quilter. In this book as we follow the scores she has created we often share photos and then share our discoveries and disappointments that occurred during the creating process. I love that because it really makes me have to reflect on what I made instead of just a make it and move on kind of process.

I wanted to share a discovery about this quilt and the quilting process.

First of all, everyone seems to really love this quilt and I have to fess up, it’s not pieced, it’s a cheater panel! Although I have pieced several quilts that use the wonky log cabin block as the main block and I absolutely love that block and if I actually ever owned the original Flea Market Fancy fabric by Denyse Schmidt (which is the fabrics shown in this panel)  I might very well make this quilt. I purchased  this panel plus the two border fabrics as a kit at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in approximately 2007 when I first started quilting and all I could feel comfortable with was buying and making kits.

It took me until a quilt retreat much later on to actually add the borders, make the backing and then finally this year I was able to quilt it. I think it was just waiting patiently for the right time for it to shine. If I had finished it back when I first bought it, it probably would have gotten lost in a sea of similar quilts but now it stands out and that fabric has become rather difficult to find.

What did I learn while quilting this quilt? I learned  why it’s important to have a squared up quilt top (but I did not master how to actually do that). I fought with the borders getting crinkled while I quilted. I also learned that it’s not that easy to quilt different patterns in each little strip and make it look “natural” when transitioning between them. I think that would have been easier to accomplish on a domestic machine.

I learned that even though it had been several months since the last time I used a long arm, I felt pretty confident figuring out how to load the backing and batting and float the top for quilting. Even though I really like this quilt, I was glad I had not spent a significant amount of time piecing it because it was easier to play with my quilting designs.

Sometimes if something doesn’t work out exactly as planned, you just have to go with it.

Also, as I said in my last post, binding isn’t as hard as it seems. It’s just really time consuming,  and I’m not talking about the hand stitching part,  I’m just talking prepping the binding,  sewing it onto the quilt and then top stitch zigzagging it down.

One more thing, it may seem like common sense but natural daylight is really the best for taking pictures of a quilt!

I’m hoping to continue this sew-mentum and get another quilt finished in February. It would be so awesome if I could finish one a month for the entire year but for now I’ll just take it one top at a time. The next top I want to quilt is my Epic Anna Maria Horner quilt and it’s huge so I’m sure it will take me a full day to quilt it.

Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely weekend.

Anna

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Thoughts On Binding

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I am so excited to share that  I actually finished a real quilt in 2016! Here is a picture of the binding.  It’s not perfect but pretty good considering I probably went all of 2015 without putting on a traditional  binding.
Here are some thoughts which I shared on IG and FB but I added a couple of bonus thoughts  just for my blog  readers) and because I thought of them after I shared everywhere  else)
1) Always check the recommended width of the strips before cutting,  I cut mine at 2.5″ because that sounded right in my head but 3″ would have made life so much better.
2) When machine binding and planning to finish by machine, stitch the folded binding on the BACK of the quilt then fold to the front
3) At each corner  leave a tail of thread to hand finish the miter
4) Use a matching thread to stitch the binding  to the quilt because when you have to fold the binding  over to cover it, it will blend better 
5) A zigzag stitch is a life saver for this method
6) Eleanor Burns still has the best tutorial  in her book Egg Money Quilts and I’ll probably  never get rid of that book because of the tutorial for binding (and her instructions are for machine finished  binding!)

Bonus thought:
Clover clips are not just useful for hand binding, they are perfect for machine binding too  since they hold the small edge in place and they don’t poke!

Binding isn’t hard and isn’t something to be afraid of.  It’s the best part of a quilt because it means it’s finished and it feels so good to finish something that can actuality be used by adults (coming from a girl who only made mini quilts in 2015).  Just take your time, do some research (I have a whole board dedicated to binding  tips on Pinterest) find a technique that you feel comfortable with. Don’t worry about it looking perfect because in the end as long as it holds up through wear and tear and washing then it is doing it’s job. If you still hate binding  but have lots of quilts to bind, find a friend who enjoys it and work out a swap. Just do the first part of the work  by squaring up the quilt and making the binding at least.

If you have any favorite binding tutorials you’d  like to share please link them in the comments below.  I’m probably going to do a binding test during my summer quilt retreat.

Good luck  and happy stitches!

Anna

My Small World QAL 2 – PSA

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These cuties are 4″ square (roughly) The first blocks of my #mysmallworldqal2! I used a tutorial for Quarter Square Triangles that I found on pinterest and it make it so much faster.  I’m going to avoid cutting and sewing triangles as much as possible. I’m pinning stuff to my pinterest board called My Small World QAL 2 if you are interested. I’m craftygirlanna on Pinterest.

I was so proud of myself when I finished these blocks!  They are super cute and represent something so fun and the excitement I feel when I start a new project.  Keep reading for the public service announcement (PSA) about the pattern.

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A quick PSA for those who are doing the #mysmallworldqal2 the instructions are listed with FINISHED block measurements. So if you have to trim up a block be sure you are calculating the UNFINISHED size. i.e. a 4″ block in the pattern should really be 4.5″ I overlooked that point when I was figuring which block to make and my hourglass blocks are 4″ unfinished.  Yes, that’s going to throw off my pattern by roughly 1/2″ in various spots.

On another note, I’ve always struggled with accurate seam allowances and even though I followed the instructions for the pinwheels and they should have been 4.5″ unfinished mine came out to 4.25″! That’s how I figured out about the finished/unfinished size thing.

So personally because I used all of my blue fabric for the pinwheels, I’m trimming mine down to 4″ to match my wrong hourglass blocks. I’ll just have to make it work (it could be a disaster!) I wanted to share my mistake to help others avoid frustration!

Happy Stitches,
Anna

My Small World QAL 2

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I typically stay away from any project that has a time line even if it’s just a quilt along hosted on Instagram or a blog. Trying to actually make a quilt block every week is so difficult in my busy life.  But since my mother in law gave me the amazing My Small World quilt pattern by Jen Kingwell for Christmas and Nicole announced that she was hosting a QAL part 2 I decided to do it. She was very clear that this is a low key thing and work at your own pace (which for me could mean I’ll be lucky to finish this small quilt before my 4 year old graduates for high school).

Because it’s primarily an Instagram QAL I’ve shared my thoughts in a few posts and I’m tagging them with #mysmallworldqal2 but I’m going to share them here as well, just for the heck of it. At some point I’ll figure out how to feed my IG into my blog but until then, here is my set of initial thoughts about my preparation that I shared on IG.

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I got the FPP templates printed (to get foundation paper piece templates, check out this post on Sew What Sherlock’s blog), I’ve read all the blog posts from round one of the QAL,  I’ve gathered some low volumes for the sky and I’ve decided to use my favorite fabric in the world, my Amy Butler hoard for the fun parts.

I’ve already learned that
a) the printed pattern (not from the magazine) does not seem go in order of the sections
b) the FPP templates were roughly printed to follow the sections so I cut all the templates out and grouped them then labeled them with what page they are on (that’s the plastic baggies in the picture) This will help me know how many to make.
c) The number of FPP templates does not exactly align with what the pattern requires but that’s no biggie I can always print more.
d) Also I really need more low volumes so if anyone wants to do a trade, let me know.

Finally I’ve decided to embrace the wabi-sabi nature of how I piece and not sweat the small stuff. If pieces don’t line up, I’ll just add some to make it work. This isn’t for a show, it’s not for being judged it’s just for me to enjoy and learn something and finish something! This wasn’t on my original ufo list but hopefully it stays on my WIP list instead.

I’ll be sharing some more insights that I find along the way (at least two more posts coming soon) so if you want to get them, be sure to sign up for email posts or add me to bloglovin.

Happy stitches!

Anna

Woman vs WoMOM

Confession:

Sometimes I feel like I have two personalities that are at odds with each other.

One of those is my professional self. I get up every morning, get ready, dress in heels (most days) and go to work where I sit at a computer for roughly 8 hours then run out the door to get on the bus for the 30 minute commute home.

This professional self does the job and gets paid to help pay the bills, which include paying for daycare for my almost 3 year old son.

My other self? That’s the WoMOM self. *yeah I didn’t really even mention the wife self because she usually gets pushed to the far back*

The Mom self, after getting the Work self ready, wakes up the toddler, changes his diaper and gets him ready for daycare. I take him to “school” (which usually means carrying him in while wearing heels, such a fun thing to do, especially when it’s rainy and cold), then in the afternoon when I get home around 6:30, he’s home and I have to change his diaper and make sure he has dinner and brushes his teeth.

On the weekends, I get to be Mom full time, because even though Dad is there and is supportive of us, the boy really likes Mom more right now. Dad is the one who makes meals for us and there have been weeks when he’s had to travel and I’ve had to feel the full reality of what it would be like to be a single parent, that is NOT fun!

There are times when I get to be the Quilter Mom who spends precious time at the sewing machine making magical quilt blocks appear. The few days we had off on January 1st and 2nd was awesome. My toddler actually played by himself with his new cars he got for Christmas for a couple of hours straight! (Normally, when I sit down at the sewing machine, no matter what he’s doing he’ll get up and come over to request attention)

I haven’t figured out how to get these different personalities (or roles I guess I should call them) to play nicely together. Commuting and working 40+ hours a week is sort of exhausting, which explains why I typically fall asleep around 10 PM and most of the time while on the couch just vegging out and have very little time to myself or to spend with my DH.

But I’m determined that in 2015 I’m going to figure out how to get some sort of balance. Even if that means that I spend a few more minutes in the morning trying to fix my hair (I actually bought a flat iron last night and used it today for the first time in my life) or learning how to tie a scarf a different way (Pinterest I LOVE you!)

My boss is only a year older than me, she has three children (twins who are 2 and a kindergartner, all girls) and she still manages to come to work looking fabulous every day! EVERY DAY! She wears make up and her hair looks awesome and she wears pretty clothes.

I should be able to do that. I only have 1 child and he’s a boy, so his clothes and hair don’t require as much attention. (Be honest, it’s true) I just don’t put the attention I should on myself because I’m so busy with my daily routine.

Well, thanks for letting me ramble today. For those of you who follow my blog, I really appreciate knowing that people read it. I’m also documenting my efforts to fight the frump on Instagram with the tag #fightingfrumpmom If you want to take some steps to fight the frump, feel free to use the tag as well!

My next step is a good haircut and some better make up! (Oh and more practice with the flat iron)

Finally I’d love to hear if you have suggestions for fighting the frump and finding balance between a full time job as mom and as a “career woman.”

Happy Stitches,

Anna

Stolen Moments

A quick naptime project, a scrap bucket from the book Sunday Morning Quilts

A quick naptime project, a scrap bucket from the book Sunday Morning Quilts

Sometimes I feel like the only time I have to stitch or even just sneak into my sewing room for a little while is a stolen moment. Maybe it’s an hour or two when my little MJ is sleeping (his naps seem to be all but disappearing these days) or a lucky afternoon that I can spend with the girls from the Houston MQG stitching like a crazy woman. I want to savor these moments and enjoy them, but usually they feel pretty frantic or crazy. I also find it hard to be inspired to work on something when I only have an hour or so to work on it. I prefer long blocks of time so I can think and plan and play.

Well, I guess I just have to accept that, at least for now, my sewing moments are going to be “stolen” so I’ll have to readjust how I function in my sewing space. I’ll have to plan to complete projects in phases and maybe just go in the sewing room and play for 30 minutes at a time. Small projects are going to be my focus.

My Polaroid Mini that is hanging in my cubicle. Finished 01/30/14

My Polaroid Mini that is hanging in my cubicle. Finished 01/30/14

That’s why my cubicle at work is “quilted” with mini quilts. They are FAST to create and yet give me a beautiful finished product!

That’s all for this stolen moment!

Happy Stitches,

Anna