What to do? What to do?

What to do? What to do? There is an affliction commonly known as Analysis Paralysis and I may have been infected. Analysis Paralysis, essentially, is a condition in which the sufferer has so many things to do, they are reluctant to make a decision as to what comes next. Only when a crisis or deadline looms are they able to make a move/decision.

There are several stages that I describe as:
Stage 1 – lots to do, just pick one!
Stage 2 – lots to do, narrow it down to three or four options. Analyze some more until you reach Stage 1.
Stage 3 – lots to do, analyze, sort by “how close to completion”, identify deadlines, work Stage 2.
Stage 4 – lots to do, analyze, prioritize, sort, clean up work space, analyze, clean up the kitchen, analyze some more. Seek professional help!

What’s wrong with any of these stages?
Stage 1 Result = Progress! Nothing really wrong here. If you ever catch a case of Analysis Paralysis, pray that this is as bad as it gets.
Stage 2 Result = Delays, lost time, need to rush when deadlines close in, growing feelings of frustration. Not terrible, but who wants to put up with this?
Stage 3 Result = Delays, frustration, missed deadlines, beginnings of anxiety. Now, this is getting serious and jeopardizes your creative mojo.
Stage 4 Results = High anxiety, procrastination, nothing gets accomplished. Lingering at this stage for extremely long times just isn’t worth it. It totally sucks the joy out of a very enjoyable pastime/hobby/job.

So where do I fall on this scale? At various times, I’ve experienced each Stage, but over the years, I’ve adopted the mantra “do something quilt-y every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes.” Not surprisingly, 15 minutes often turns into an hour or more and many projects get done pretty quickly. Just do something!

Having a schedule around which to work is also essential for me. Most days find me enjoying morning coffee until 9:00 or so. Break for a leisurely lunch, then back at it for a couple more hours.

Let it not be said that I have made myself a prisoner to the quilt studio. Just today, I took a spur-of-the-moment motorcycle ride with my hubby. Back to the quilt machine in about two hours, refreshed and ready to get things done. Recreation is another critical factor in curing Analysis Paralysis and can be extremely effective in stages 3 and 4. Just don’t overdo it or use it as an excuse to prolong these stages!

DISCLAIMER: The above descriptions and “cures” are purely the opinion of the writer and have no basis in scientific fact. The bottom line is, “Do something quilt-y every day and, above all, enjoy the process!”

Until next time, take 15 and, oh you know.

Janie Dearest – The Journey Continues

I am usually the worst at giving my quilts a name. Sometimes I am forced to work through this shortcoming in order to create a label for a show quilt. Other times, the project is a special gift (in which case, I default to “For ____ on your Wedding Day, birthday, Christmas, graduation, or whatever is appropriate).” So when a name for my Dear Jane quilt came to me, it just worked.

Yes, I call mine “Janie Dearest”. Remember “Mommie Dearest” about Joan Crawford? She was portrayed as an abusive parent, and who can forget the ‘no wire hangers’ scene? To be honest, it’s definitely not my favorite movie, but sometimes piecing the Dear Jane blocks feels a little abusive. At other times, a piece of cake. (Should I call it the Dear Jane Bake Shop instead?)

My choice of name remains “Janie Dearest” but more as a way of poking fun at some of the more difficult-to-piece blocks.

I am enjoying the process and have decided that this is my interpretation of Jane Stickle’s wonderful work and will use methods that work for me. The end product will still be beautiful and it won’t bother me if someone dons a Quilt Police cap to point out that I changed this or that seam or used fusible applique here and there.

OK, enough of that! I want to share my progress, too, in this post. When last I posted about this project, I had completed 68 of the 169 center blocks. This photo is from the Dear Jane© software that I use to track progress and print paper-piecing or applique elements. It uses Electric Quilt© technology, but is a stand-alone product.

09/2015 progress

As of February 2016, I have completed 92 center blocks. The green colored blocks in these photos indicate blocks that have been printed, ready for me to build.

02/2016 Progress

As part of a small group of Janiacs in my quilt guild, I am able to focus on this project at least once a month. If not for this dedicated day and the encouragement of other Janiacs, I might still have only 13 blocks done after having started this project six (?) years ago. From 13 to 92 blocks in just over a year (maybe two) is fantastic progress considering the other commitments that fill every day. Can you relate?

Until next time, take 15 minutes a day and do something quilt-y. Enjoy the journey!

Millefiori, the New Hexagon Way

Since I pledged to myself to NOT start any new projects until I finished some Of my “in progress” ones, I naturally became obsessed with the Millefiori movement. By way of background information, Millefiori is a form of art glass produced primarily in Venice. This is a sample of the colorful work produced there.

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The New Hexagon method uses patterns from “The New Hexagon – 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece” by Katja Marek.

I started mine a few months ago and have finished three of the fifteen “rosettes”. Using a special app to place images of my rosettes in the layout, this is what mine currently looks like, followed by close-up photos of the individual rosettes.

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English paper piecing is a great take-along project since it is hand work requiring just a needle, thread, thimble, and the glue-basted pieces for the hexagons. The most time-consuming part of the process is preparing them to “take along”. Preparation involves selecting the fabrics for each hexagon, cutting freezer paper templates, pressing these to the wrong side of the fabrics, and glue-basting to fold the seam allowances to the back. Aside from pressing the freezer paper shapes to fabric, the process is great for TV “listenin’ ” and armchair/recliner sittin’.

If you are interested, you can follow along and get information and inspiration from the Facebook page:
The New Hexagon – Millefiori Quilt-Along

Until next time – Take 15 minutes and do something quilt-y!

My Dear Jane Journey

Many years ago I started collecting Civil War reproduction fabrics in anticipation of beginning my very own Dear Jane (DJ) quilt. I knew then that it would be a once-in-a-lifetime project and likely might take that long to finish. Nevertheless, begin I did.

I can’t remember just when I started, and quickly had 13 blocks made. Then stuff happened and this one got shoved to the very back burner. For a long time, I was afraid the journey had ended.

In 2014, members of a guild I belong to mentioned that they have a small group that gets together once a month to work on Dear Jane quilts. Now’s my chance! Since then DJ has seen steady growth.

After today’s session, I’m glad to say that I have 69 of 169 center blocks completed. This photo is from the Electric Quilt Dear Jane software. (Note: The green plain blocks in the image are my way of keeping up with the block patterns that are printed and ready to be pieced.) I use this software to print paper-piecing and applique patterns as well as keep up with my progress.

Dear Jane progress

In case you’ve never seen the original Dear Jane quilt, this is it. The original was completed in 1863 by Jane A. Blakely Stickle.

DJ the original

I will update this blog periodically with progress. Until next time, take 15 minutes a day and do something quilt-y!

Accuracy is the Key

Now that summer is here, life events have ramped up, big time. Besides the normal variety of works-in-progress, I have begun teaching two on-going classes. The advanced quilting class meets on the first and third Saturdays of every month and the beginner class meets on the first and third Wednesdays of every month.

The focus in both classes, aside from learning new techniques, is ACCURACY — in cutting, piecing, and pressing. Both classes have learned, or are learning, to set up their machines to sew the perfect scant 1/4″ seam. This might seem common knowledge among experienced quilters, but I can speak from first-hand experience, it was a very long time after I started quilting before I found a good description of the scant 1/4″ seam and why it is so important. Sharing this knowledge should make the quilting experience less frustrating and maybe a little less frog-filled (rip-it, rip-it).

As a demo, I used 2 1/2″ squares and sewed a (full) 1/4″ seam. Then I sewed an additional pair of 2 1/2″ squares using a scant 1/4″ seam. Both seams were pressed to the dark side, then came the moment of truth. The sewn units should measure 4 1/2″ and the one sewn with the scant 1/4″ seam measured exactly 4 1/2″.

Scant 1/4"

The full 1/4″ seam unit measured only 4 3/8″.

Full 1/4"

That 1/8″, multiplied across all blocks in a quilt, will mean lost inches overall and potential issues when combining blocks with different construction (9-patch and snowball blocks, for instance).

All participants now have a 3″ x 5″ card which was scored with the accurate scant 1/4″ seam allowance. I unthreaded the machine and “stitched” a seam line on the card. They can test their machine setup and adjust needle position or use moleskin or a stack of sticky notes as a guide to the perfect scant 1/4” no matter which machine they use or how often they have changed needle position for sewing or mending.

Card

Preparing for both of these classes is taking a little longer than expected, but the feedback is very positive. Projects are coming along nicely. In fact, coming along a little faster than expected, so I have to start thinking/planning three classes ahead. With that said, I’d better get at it!

Until next blog-time, take 15 minutes a day and do something quilt-y.

Teaching Opportunities

I have provided instructions for a variety of quilting and piecing techniques in the past, but have opened two significant opportunities within the last week to teach ongoing classes at two venues.

One is a Basic Quilting class through the local senior center. The thing that makes this exciting to me is that I get to introduce quilting to another generation of quilters, even if they are my age or older. We will cover everything from fabric selection to “just what is a scant 1/4” seam allowance?” My plan includes all those things that I wish I had known in the beginning. My hope is that I can develop other quilters who get as excited and obsessed with each project as I do.

The other is an Advanced Quilting class at a local bookstore/quilt shop. Their business plan is to phase out the bookstore side and focus on providing quilting fabric and classes. This is a great addition to the area since there are no options for fabric locally except JoAnn’s or Hancock’s (and Walmart in a pinch). This class will cover a wide variety of subjects based on student needs and could include curved piecing, paper piecing, Y-seams, appliqué and who know what else over time. The goal of this class is to further the skills already mastered and challenge these quilters to move beyond their comfort zones to complete quilts they’ve always thought were too complicated/hard to tackle.

The Quilt Life is good!

After the Show. . .

The Friendship Quilters Quilt Show was a tremendous success on March 8. After setting everything up on Friday, we opened the show Saturday morning and welcomed more than 100 visitors in the first two hours! Over the course of the day, they just kept coming in although at a gradually slower pace. Final count on the guest book entries reflected more than 200 visitors, not including guild members and their spouses who were there to work at the show.

A little history might shed some light on why these numbers are so astonishing and wonderful, in my opinion. First, we hold our shows every other year. The first was in the fall 2009, and the next was in early November, 2011. In 2009, we had 156 visitors over the course of the two-day show. In 2011, that number was down significantly to 113, due in part to competition from other craft shows and, of course, college football. And I think the weather was cool and rainy, if I remember correctly.

We elected to push our show to early March in an attempt to increase show visitors. In addition, we decided to try showing on only one day rather than two. The numbers speak for themselves.  All guild members who commented agreed that one day was far better than two, for our group.

For my part as show coordinator, it is nice to sit back and reflect on the process, successes, and opportunities for improvement for the next show (2016). There is a lot of work in preparation for such an event, but I was blessed with some very hard-working committees. Additionally, two members were show coordinators-in-training and they shouldered a lot of the planning and preparation.

I was pleased also to have one of my quilts be selected as Viewers’ Choice from among some exceptionally beautiful quilts. The pattern is from http://www.thequiltshow.com as their Block of the Month from 2011. I used fabrics from my stash except for the light background fabric. This was a labor of love considering that if I didn’t love it, I never would have put in 450 hours or more to complete it. That project would have become a perpetual UFO if I hadn’t enjoyed making it."My Ruffled Roses"

Now that the show is completed and I can get back to my sewing room, I’m having a hard time trying to decide what to work on first. Nice problem to have, in my opinion.

And to anyone who is ever asked to coordinate a quilt show, consider accepting the challenge. Then contact me and I’ll be glad to share my stories and strategies.

Until my next blog post, take 15 minutes and do something quilt-y.

Good grief! It’s already 2014!

I have to admit that as a blogger, I have procrastinated — a lot. No one’s fault but mine. I hope to do better in this new year. It’s not that I haven’t thought about the blog. I just keep putting it off. No excuses.

What’s on My Machine Now?

Currently I am working on a number of projects, all of which I would like to complete this year. Realistically, I hope to get 60% of them completed. I know myself well enough to know that there will be a significant number of new projects that I “just can’t wait to start” and that will reduce my completion rate. {sigh} So here is the current active project list:

  • Guild Quilt Show (March 8)
  • Finish several miniatures for quilt show auction
  • Wedding quilt (Due before end of May. Ready to be quilted.)
  • Quilt for Christmas gift (Due this year.)
  • 2012 BOM from http://www.thequiltshow.com
  • Guild “name challenge project” (Use first name initial to select block, fabric color, and theme. Due in May.)
  • Guild BOM (12-month project)
  • Preparation for a class I will teach in May.

I have other somewhat active projects, too, that I pick up when I just don’t want to work on a priority project, or need some TV sewing:

  • Miniature hexagon pineapple table topper
  • Twin-sized grandmother’s flower garden (sort of). I’m using the traditional hexagon “flower” block though the layout is anything but traditional.
  • Several quilt tops ready to be quilted (my tops which have been lapped by quilts with definite completion dates and customers/recipients.)

Please comment below with your suggestions for future blog topics or tutorials you’d like to see. Your input will help me stay on target for at least one blog post per month.

Until next time, take 15 minutes and do something quilt-y.

Some Days it Just Doesn’t Pay…

I have been working on a block-of-the-month project from the Quilt Show website from 2012. I started it about a year late and have made great progress. This is a picture of the quilt to date which is thru month seven.
2012 BOM thru month 7

My goal for today was to get the month eight applique pieces prepped for the next three diamond blocks. After cutting width of fabric strips per the instructions and applying the fusible webbing, I pulled out the Accuquilt Studio Cutter and the dies. I thought everything was going to go like clockwork like the past two months had. Boy, was I wrong!

Since I was cutting individual pieces from within the dies, the rough cut fabric pieces were just large enough to cover the areas I needed. Well, it didn’t take long to find out that one shape’s fabric had shifted before the cut was made and I cut off a portion of the shape making it unusable. So I cut and prepped those pieces again. No big deal, right?

Next I cut six pieces all going the same direction (right sides up). I should have cut half of those in reverse with wrong sides up. Hmm. So, I cut and prepped those pieces again. It wasn’t looking too good for my goal.

After I finished cutting (and re-cutting) all the applique pieces and putting away the studio cutter and dies, I set about the task of placing them on the block background fabric. And that’s when I discovered that something was missing. Previous months’ instructions had been flawless. Not so with month eight cutting instructions. They failed to include the need to cut yet another shape to complete the design. So I cut and prepped another set of fabric pieces, pulled out the studio cutter again and the die. Sigh!

Finally I was able to get all the pieces positioned and adhered to the background fabric. After such a frustrating day of miscuts, dumb mistakes, and errors in instructions, that’s as far as I got. My goal was met and it was only 4:00, but I know when it’s time to just sit back and take a chill pill rather than risk bodily harm. I figured my next move with a rotary cutter could prove disastrous. There’s always tomorrow.

This is a photo of the applique elements ready to be blanket-stitched.
Appliqué design, month 8
We’ll see how things work out tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll take these to the guild’s Sew Days on Friday or Saturday.

Until next time, take 15 minutes and do something quilt-y.

Outside the Quilting Box

Sometimes you just have to break out of the quilting box and try something a little different. I’ve always liked the looks of penny rugs and have wanted to make one for years. I finally broke down and did just that this week.

Following a Fons & Porter pattern in the November/December 2011 issue of “Love of Quilting”, I purchased the wool, selecting from colors that were available. While they don’t match those in the magazine, I am pleased with the palette and the results.

The instructions called for using perle cotton for the blanket stitch. I loved working with this thread and the resulting blanket stitches are even (mostly, except where I wasn’t exactly perfect in spacing them) and they add a bit of luster/shine to the piece.

The finished table topper measures approximately 22 inches in diameter. This is a picture of the finished project.

Penny rug table topper

If you haven’t done a penny rug, but like handwork or need a great take-along project, these are great candidates to fill the bill.

Until next time, take 15 minutes and do something quilt-y (or not).

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