I Need to Be Cloned

Seriously.  I need at least another me to get caught up on all my self-imposed deadlines and things that need to get done around the house.

I've actually been fairly productive, but I have so many things that are part way done or not even started yet.  It makes me a bit anxious.

I finished two quilts for my client Amber.  Both were quilted with freehand loopy meander.  Amber is super prolific and plans in advance.  I am jealous.

Didn't she do a great job?

I went shopping online and bought fabric for two quilts.  Thankfully everything looked good together in real life.  The first set of fabrics is for the Morewood Mystery Quilt by Meadow Mist Designs.  It's not too late to join in.  July was fabric selection and August will be cutting, so there's plenty of time to catch up.  Plus, there are lots of great prizes.  You may even win quiltindone by me.  ๐Ÿ˜‰
The second set of fabric is for a secret project.  What might I be making?  Stay tuned.  Also, my picture does not reflect how pretty these fabrics are together.  I took the picture in poor lighting. ๐Ÿ˜ž
I am super pleased that I finally finished my Frolic mystery top. I'm especially pleased because this is my July One Monthly Goal.  I got up and started sewing at the crack of dawn this morning to get the last few borders on there.  I can't wait for my new, upgraded robotics system to show up so that I can get this thing quilted.

Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal - July Finish Link-up
I'm also working on two other secret projects right now.  They will make their debuts over the next month.

I've been busy in the kitchen too.  After being careless with my diet and making poor choices for several months, I'm back to my healthier ways.  I'm down two pounds for the week, which leaves eight more to go, or 18 more to my stretch goal.  Anyway, we ate a Lebanese-inspired meal last week that was quite filling and tasty.  I made Mujadarra, which is essentially brown rice and lentils.  Very tasty, very filling, very easy.  We will definitely have it again.  One note--I couldn't find short grain brown rice, so I just used regular brown rice.  One other note--be careful with the onions.  I nearly burned mine.  My onions went bad, so we harvested some from the garden, but there weren't enough, and they ended up being like burnt french fried onions rather than caramelized. We still ate them.

My daughter and I also tried to make from-scratch pita.  We didn't do very well and it took way longer than the recipe said.  The first six did not quite turn out.  They didn't puff up and tasted more like Naan bread.  The last two did turn out.  I don't know what we did differently.  We will probably try again.  The two on the left are the puffed up ones.

I used five cucumbers from the garden to make nine half-pints of sweet relish.
sweet relish cooking on stove

picture of canned sweet relish

What am I going to make with the other gazillion cucumbers?  Well, I am planning to make at least one batch of freezer pickles.  I was able to buy the last few packages of freezer containers at the store the other day, so I have enough containers to do two batches.  I have been eating some of the cucumbers.  I'm the only one who eats them raw in my household.  

I found the last package of half-pint canning jars at the store as well, so I could make another batch of relish.  After that--who knows?  In the spring it was very difficult to find flour and yeast locally.  Now it is difficult to find canning supplies.  Actually, it has been very difficult this year in general to find canning supplies, even online.

Here are my two cucumber plants.  They escaped the garden and are growing all over the outside of the fence.

We were gearing up for my son to start school online next week. We watched the online orientation Monday afternoon.  Tuesday the school board decided to move the start date a week later and everyone in the district will be online for at least the first month of school.  I'm happy that we won't be putting teachers, kids, and families at risk by having some of the kids in school.  I'm happy that the teachers will be able to focus on one set of classes rather than needing to split their attention.  My son is happy he gets another week of summer. 

My daughter will be starting her college experience in an online environment too.  We live in a college town with both a university and a community college.  As far as I know, the university is still planning some in-person classes.  It will be interesting and a bit scary with the big influx of people.

Linking with My Quilt Infatuation.

Shelving Plans

I wanted shelving in my sewing room closet.  After I started folding my stash into my new bins, I really wanted shelving.  I started dropping hints and nagging that I needed shelving.  We are still in the middle of replacing the windows and the basement finishing project is still partially done.  My husband said it would be a while before he could get to the shelving.  I decided to tag along on a trip to Menards and made sure we wandered through the shelving aisles.  Hint, hint.

What happened next?  I mentioned that I had plans to get two more quilts done for clients over the weekend.  My husband decided we were doing the shelving over the weekend.  So I had to unload the closet. I need to make more effort to use more of what I have and get rid of things I'm not going to use.  Maybe having the closet organized will help?  Anyway, the quilting was not going to happen since I couldn't even get near the machine.  The closet is to the right of the long arm.  Can you see her peeking out on the right side of the picture?
We decided to buy prefinished plywood for the shelving.  We got three shelves out of each 4 x 8 sheet.  We applied veneer to the raw edges of the shelving.  We stood outside in the 90 degree-plus weather with like 90 percent humidity cutting the boards and ironing on the veneer--yes, it is an iron-on product!  And then taping the edges of the boards and spraying polyurethane onto the unfinished veneer.  
Here is the closet with the shelving partly installed.  We ran out of brackets and the local store didn't have any more.  Small road trip for my husband.  We had to laugh, because it totally felt like we were assembling an IKEA product with the colors.
While I was waiting for him, I made him three more masks.  While we've been fortunate that he hasn't had to go into work very often, we've reached a point where he has to go in quite a bit over the next week, so more masks were necessary.
Here is the closet with all the shelving completed.  Now to move everything back in.
Monday I put most of the stuff back into the closet.  I sorted about half of the stuff, but I really needed to quilt, so I'm not all the way done yet.  At least the area around the machine is now available again!
I did manage to get one of the quilts completed, but the owner hasn't seen it yet, so I will share that next week.  I am still working on a secret project.  I did sneak in a bit of time to finish off the last few of my central units for my For the love of geese project.
Do you ever feel like you're being watched?  I saw this when I glanced out the sewing room window. We are inundated with rabbits this year.

Top Tips for Beginning Quilters

As I've been reorganizing my fabric, I've been thinking about what I feel is important for new quilters to know.  

1.  Buy the best machine you can afford.  $100 sewing machines are generally not your friends.  Avoid the hassle and buy a nicer machine, even if you have to save up for a long time.

2.  Buy a 1/4" foot for your machine.  There are branded and generic ones available for pretty much every machine--consult your sewing machine dealer.

3.  If possible, get a straight stitch throat plate--again, consult your dealer.

4.  If you are having trouble getting an accurate 1/4" with just the foot, buy and install a seam guide to help you.  Getting an accurate seam takes time and practice, but is worth the effort.

5.  Use the best quality thread you can afford.  Make sure it is actually a piecing or all-purpose thread.  Don't sew with decorative or embroidery threads (Sulky, for example)--they are not meant to hold together seams.

6.  Use pins.  I think pinning is one of the most helpful steps you can take for accuracy.  Pin your beginnings, ends, intersections, and anywhere else you need help holding the fabric together.  Just don't sew over the pins!

7.  Measure and cut accurately.  If you aren't sure how, ask for help.

8.  Press your fabric and your seams.  Make sure your seams aren't twisted--where the end of the seam is going a different direction than the rest of the seam.

9.  Be willing to rip apart and redo if things don't fit correctly.

10.  Don't buy fabric just to buy fabric.  After folding and sorting some 20 year old fabric, this one really hits home for me.  Tastes change, colors change, you change.  Buy only what you are realistically going to use within a year or two.  Trust me, it doesn't feel good to see a bunch of really old fabric sitting in your stash that you don't even like anymore.  See bottom of this post for an example.

11.  Try hard to finish what you start before starting something new.  I know, easier said than done.

12.  Use your scraps.  If you aren't going to use them, pass them along to someone who will.

13.  Make sure you don't have holes in your seams.  Check this during pressing at each step.

14.  Don't use the very cheapest batting unless you are hand quilting.

15.  Learn how to properly apply binding.  Here's a free tutorial I made.

16.  Always measure your own blocks for sashing lengths and border lengths.  DO NOT just sew a giant length of fabric to your top and cut off the excess.  I cannot stress how important this is.  Your quilt will not lie flat if you apply your sashings and borders incorrectly.   Long arm quilting exacerbates the waviness.  Applying your borders correctly will make your entire quilt look much better and more professional.  Please download my free guide to applying borders to learn the correct method.  

What tips would you add to this list?

Here's some of what I've been up to lately.

1.  I finished quilting Nakeetah's quilt.  This is the first one I did on my new long arm!
2.  I'm working on a secret sewing project.  I'm proud to say that I am using fabric from one of my UFOs to complete this project.  This fabric line is Gooseberry from Lella Boutique.  I think it's five years old now? Luckily I had the exact amounts I needed.
3.  This fabric will be the backing for my Morewood Mystery quilt.  I need to buy fabrics for the front.  I found one piece in my stash that might work, but I generally don't buy pieces over half a yard, so I need to go shopping. It's not too late to join in.  This month's task is fabric selection.  August will be for cutting, and the sewing starts in September.
4.  I found both of these larger-sized pieces of fabric in my stash and I think they could work as backings for Quilts for Kids quilts.  I am going to try my hardest to use more of my older fabrics.
5.  I also pulled fabrics from my stash to make another Quilts for Kids quilt.  Making quilts for charity is a great way to practice your skills.  Quilts for Kids is one I like because the amount of fabric you need is minimal and the blocks are repetitive, which gives you a great way to practice your seam allowances and cutting.  And your proper border application. ๐Ÿ˜‰  I use them to try out different quilting designs.
6.  In the don't buy fabric unless you are going to use it right away category, I pulled this 20+ year old bunch of quilt-shop quality fabric from my stash.  The top row of fabrics were things I found that kinda coordinate. Anyway, what was I thinking with this???  There are two panel-type fabrics and they are weird.
Please be considerate of others and wear a mask when in public for your sake and theirs.  This goes for social gatherings too.  Proper distance and a mask.  Please.

New Cutting Mats

I won a set of ecopeco cutting mats in the Quetzal Blue color way from Elm Street Quilts' May One Monthly Goal.  The mats arrived this week and they are just beautiful.  And they do not have a smell.  I'll update once I use them more.  I have the larger one on my cutting table right now.
I have done very little sewing over the past week.  Here's my total.
The big project that I tackled this week is to finally sort my fabric stash into the bins I bought with my Christmas money (in December).  My hope is that by having the fabrics in smaller containers that I will be able to see and use what I have.

Anyway, I somehow thought that sorting all this would make my fabric closet more tidy. However, I do not have shelving in the closet yet and I don't feel comfortable making huge stacks with the new bins.  So they are now stacked under the long arm until I can get shelving installed.  I also had to order more bins since I didn't have quite enough to finish.  I did find that I had a large tote's worth of scraps. Those will still need to be sorted by color.
I finally tried out my long arm yesterday.  My husband couldn't believe I waited that long before I tried it.  I had to get over my fear of the unknown, I guess. It was really easy to thread and quite easy to set the tension.  So I think I'm ready to attempt an actual quilt now.  Good thing, because I have a pile of them here.
We've replaced two more windows.  That makes six down, seven to go.

We have had one meal of purple green beans from the garden. The lettuce is done now.  The cucumbers, tomato, and green beans are growing like crazy. We harvested our beets. One of them was easily the size of a softball.  
I'm hoping to get much more quilting and sewing done over the next week.  I really haven't accomplished much in the past few weeks. I need to get several client quilts done, order fabric for the Meadow Mist Mystery quilt (the fabric requirements are out now--will you be joining us?), and try to get more of my For the love of geese quilt done.  And maybe get some shelving!

What are you working on?

Linking with For the love of geese and My Quilt Infatuation.

Ch.ch.changes....July One Monthly Goal

Well friends, we've survived another month of this strange 2020.  I saw this the other day and had to laugh.
2020 has been a lot of things we didn't expect or want, but some things about it have been good.  Spending more time with family, getting house projects done, reorganizing priorities, having hope when it seems foolish to have hope.

Just when it felt like I would never sell my long arm, I was able to make a connection through Longarm League to get the robotics sold.  Then it seemed like I would never find a serious buyer for the long arm itself. "I really want this, but I don't have any money."  Umm...okay, thanks?  Yeah, heard that one way too many times.  And seriously, how do you even answer that? Then, seemingly out of nowhere, and really quickly, literally overnight, Jenny is the new owner of my Juki.  

My sewing room looks so huge without the Juki.
Jenny and her husband picked up the machine yesterday afternoon.  I swept and mopped the floor and my husband and I built the new machine, an APQS Lucey, last night.  We took our time and stayed up way too late to get it put together.  Start to finish was under 2.5 hours.  Seriously, it was so easy and straightforward. The directions were easy to understand.  The parts went together well.  I had a case of the giggles over these cone bumper parts.  I've never seen anything like them.

The room looks so different.

I'm a bit scared to plug everything in, turn on the machine, and use it.  I'm super pumped that I got the automatic quilt advance!  Can't wait to try that out. Side note--I am ordering the robotics this week, so hopefully everything will be business as usual soon.  I still have a big pile of quilts waiting on me and am so thankful that my clients have been so understanding and patient as I work through this transition.
I did finish two of the quilts in my queue over the weekend. Here's a sneak peek of one, made by Nancy. This is part of a sampler quilt she did with one of the guilds she belongs to.  I quilted an overall pattern called Zest on it.

Nancy had me do custom quilting on this one.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Here are the rulers I used to complete Nancy's quilt.  Top is the 12" ruler from The Quilted Pineapple.  Next is the HQ Mini Scallop ruler.  I love the notched straight edge on it.  I used the cute snowman ruler from Julia Quiltoff and the 4-N-1 from Natalia Bonner.
I did not finish my June OMG, though I did make progress.  My goal was to have the green ring done along with the center parts.  As you can see, I only got the green ring done.
I'm going to shift my focus for July's OMG and go back to my Frolic quilt.  It just needs the borders finished, so that is my goal for the month.

The Morewood Mystery quilt along hosted by Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs starts tomorrow.  Will you be joining in?

Linking with My Quilt Infatuation and For the love of geese.