Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 UFO Challenge

If you look back at my very few posts for the year 2016, you can read that I started a project of finishing one UFO a month. This lasted about two months. The March project really threw me off because it was so hard, and then I got very busy at the end of May. I eventually did finish all 12 projects in 2016, but many were finished in December.

These pinwheels were made from a bunch of different sized triangles that I had in a box. It wasn't easy to put this together. I quilted it by hand. Not a blanket - a wall hanging.

This little quilt is also a wall hanging. A few years ago, I went through a box of 3 inch strips and squares and made them all into quilts, and this is how I used up the solid 3 inch squares.

Another wall hanging. I finished it at 10:22 on December 31st. It was the hardest one to finish. I started this 25 years ago, and I'm not sure I would have made anything like it now that I have more experience. Too many seams coming together at a point meant that I could not quilt this on a machine. So I took it with me on a family visit and just put my nose to the grindstone. I finished it on Friday December 30th in the hotel in Albuquerque, and when I got home on Saturday evening, I put the binding on so I could say I finished everything in 2016.


Here's another one I finished out of sequence late in the year. I quilted the inside straight lines "in the ditch" meaning along the seams. I quilted the outside separately and then spliced it together. That was hard enough, but free motion quilting with black thread on black fabric was like quilting with my eyes shut. But it's great and I love it so much, my favorite. Also made from leftover 3 inch squares like February's quilt.

This one was actually finished on time, because I learned how to use a longarm (industrial) quilting machine this year. I love it too. It's about big enough for a twin bed. It's also made from scrap bits in a box.

The plan was to tie these two, but since I learned how to use the longarm, I took them to the longarm place and quilted them on the big machine. Like many of the quilts this year, I had picked out backings for them, so I was a little bit ahead of the game. They're charity sized but I'm a little bit too attached to them to give them away just yet. Kids, nieces and nephews are growing up so maybe there will be babies in the family in the years to come. Made from a bunch of squares I had in a box.

I was running a petition drive in July so this one had to wait. Quilted on the longarm. I think I started it about 25 years ago. It was block of the month at the Herring Run Quilters Guild.

For this month the assignment was to make a new quilt from start to finish. But I changed my mind and substituted this one. Also quilted in the ditch along all seams. I think it's only fair, because to make a new quilt from start to finish isn't really finishing a UFO. And it's beautiful, based on a picture of art glass.

This one was quilted out of sequence too because it was just so hard to finish. I am totally overwhelmed that I actually finished it. I got the fabric in 1991 when Peter and I went to Hawaii. I had the idea to make the quilt this way - log cabin squares with same fabrics for the logs. I had it all cut out for years, and for some reason I was going to foundation piece it and not add batting, making it a sort of sheet. But because I learned how to use a longarm machine, I changed my mind and set up a time to use the automatic machine so that I could have a nice allover pattern. I gave it to Carter who loves it.

These are two 1-patch wall hangings that I made after I took a Sylvia Einstein workshop about ten years ago. I made bunches of these and actually finished quite a few, but these were still in the UFO box. Finished now. They need sleeves though if I'm going to ever hang them on the wall.

These are little doll quilts that I made from scraps of another quilt. They were sitting around with pins in them for a few years, and I substituted them for another quilt that I had intended to make from start to finish.

Finally my December project. This is technically still a UFO. My assignment was to finish the top, for which I had to buy new fabric and dig up a bunch of old fabric from my stockpile. The original top was taken apart and most of it was sent to Bastrop, TX (the story is here). All I had was the center five columns of squares, so I added two more columns to each side. It was one of the first things I ever made, also over 25 years old, and I could see I have improved a lot since I started making these things.

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Focus

I haven't posted on this blog for the summer and fall because I ran a large ballot drive this summer, and then in the fall I organized the state libertarian convention. So thinking about starting it up again, I decided to change the focus somewhat. Instead of being a diary about what I'm doing, I'm going to explain how I organize myself. Maybe that will help someone deal with the chaos of being an innately disorganized quilter. I consider myself organizationally challenged but able to cope so that I get things done. People think I'm organized, but it's a struggle.

Pictured here is a child-sized quilt that I named "Country House 1-Patch" because of the block center right that has the image of a little country house. In the winter of 2015, almost two years ago now, I started to empty my boxes of scraps. I ended up making lots of quilt tops including the one you see above. So this year I'm trying to finish one or two quilts for each month. I have a backlog, but I still want to finish them, so I've made myself a schedule and some deadlines. This one-patch and another are finished, but they needed labels. They have labels now and they're in storage for when I have grandchildren. Or for when one of my sisters had grandchildren. Someone better get some grandchildren, that's all I have to say.

My list from last night looked something like this:

Sew labels on new quilts
Finish second set of Hawaiian quilt blocks
Sandwich two skewed 1-patches
Iron and prepare granny squares quilt
Put away and count PQP quilts
Start a spreadsheet

I started the spreadsheet and finished the second set of Hawaiian quilt blocks, because that was the most important deadline. I have to quilt the thing at the longarm rental in less than three weeks, and the blocks take a long time to assemble. I sandwiched one of the skewed 1-patches. I had some distractions, so that was all, but it was a substantial amount of work.

I realized that I have not integrated into my consciousness the amount of work required to reach my quilt finishing goals. That's why I have written down the deadlines.

This morning I made four labels and have attached three. I put away and counted the PQP quilts. But I'm still behind my goals for yesterday.

So I'm going to revise yesterday's list.

Finish the labels.
Quilt the skewed 1-patch that I pinned
Sandwich the other skewed 1-patch
Look at the granny square quilt and break down the work so that I know what I'm dealing with.

Hi, I'm adding this edit - if anyone reads this, and I'm sure nobody does, and even if you do, you wouldn't read this far. But I'm sorry I didn't blog my progress. If you read the next post, you will see, I stuck to my deadlines and finished all of the quilts I wanted to finish in 2016. So the deadlines were very helpful. But I had very little time to do anything else.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Celebration Pinwheels

The May UFO is finished, and I named it "Celebration Pinwheels." I thought of calling it something like "Imperfection" or "Anomalies," but really it is about celebrating those people in life that make us uncomfortable because they are different in an irritating kind of way. I know this is hard to understand because it's just a quilt, but I decided to make pinwheels out of all my six inch squares last year, and I used them all, indiscriminately. The result is that there are a couple of pinwheels in this quilt that stand out like a sore thumb. Well there they are, they are not going away and like the irritating people in our lives, they remind us that we, too, are imperfect.
When this quilt came up as the May UFO, I was unsure what I would do to finish it. The original pinwheels were arranged on point (with the pinwheels as diamonds instead of squares), and the sides were filled out with partial pinwheels in dark neutral shades. Now that I know how to operate a longarm machine, I was able to finish a larger quilt, so I added the light neutral pinwheels around the border to make it blanket sized. I took it to the longarm rental last week and finished it in short order using a free-motion swirly pattern.

Monday, May 16, 2016


March and April are over and I did not finish the designated UFOs. I thought about simplifying my list, but decided not to and to just keep going. Maybe I'll finish them this year. But the May UFO is coming along and I think it will be finished this month, because all I have to do is sew down the binding. (The May UFO is the first quilt in this post.)

I learned how to use a longarm machine so that I could finish many charity quilts. The first day I rented, I finished two in three hours. Next I signed up for four hours, and decided to enlarge my May UFO and quilt it on the longarm. In this picture you can see my usual free-form style but with regulated stitches.
The final step in progress. The backing fabric was a steal at the thrift shop.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Scrap quilt tops for the Power of the Quilt Project

In my spare time (sarcasm) I coordinate the Power of the Quilt Project, a joint project of the Unitarian Universalist Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn and the Rhododendron Needler's Quilt Guild. We are a group of volunteers who make quilts for cancer patients and children in need of comfort. We used to have a policy of never taking scrap fabric donations. But when I inherited the project, the inventory included two large bins of scraps, so I assume the policy was abandoned in practice. So recently, I've been cutting the scraps into useful shapes, and one of those shapes is the 3 1/2 by 6 1/2 inch rectangle. These are perfect for the tatami-mat inspired designs in Successful Scrap Quilts from Simple Rectangles by Judy Turner and Margaret Rolfe, which was published in 2002 and is still in print. It's one of my go-to books for inspiration.

This arrangement of blue and green uses the same pattern as my pastel scrap quilt from 2011. There are 32 dark rectangles and 38 light rectangles.
This is the pattern on the cover of the book, rendered in pink and red. I hope to have both of these tops made into quilts before the end of the fiscal year in June.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Plain Trip Around the World (February 2016 UFO)

I'm keeping this image small because it was dark when I took the picture, and it's grainy. This is the February UFO for this year. It's finished according to my definition. There are still a few things to be done to it - wash out the markings, add a sleeve and a label, and maybe put a line of quilting between the border and the inside. But once I have the binding on and I can take a picture of it, I call it done.

Thanks to bygone astronomers for adding an extra day to February this year.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Home Deco

I made these large pillows over the weekend. I fell in love with the fabric when we reupholstered the sofa (the one in the picture). I bought enough for a few pillows but left it at the store for about a year, eventually picking it up last summer. I cut it into triangles that I sewed together to get the square pattern.
It's hard to see the actual color in this picture - the back is a fine grayish-brown corduroy. It was maddening to sew it to the squares, because it would crawl in the direction of the nap. The corduroy fibers were like thousands of little ratchets. Any movement would slide the back in one direction only. So I had to fight with it.
Eventually I prevailed. I didn't put a zipper in the back - I sewed together two half backs closely near the edges and loosely in the middle, and pressed the seam open. Then after I sewed the front to the back, I removed the loose stitching, inserted the pillow, and sewed it shut by hand. I love these pillows but I caught myself repeating "The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good" many times. But it's true, these are good pillows with a few imperfections.