Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Minute Finishing Touches Getting Ready for 2012!

I don't know 'bout you, but I've been busier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!  Between putting the final touches on the revamp of my quilting/sewing studio, holiday dinners w/family (and another one tomorrow/New Year's Day!) and trying desperately to get caught up (again) w/Quiltville's Orca Bay Mystery Quilt, I feel like I've been chasin' my tail for the last couple of weeks.  I think I'll be the most grateful for 2012 to usher in so I can finally take a nap ;-)  But not until the second week of 2012, because I still need to finish up Quiltville's Mystery along with a baby quilt that must be created/cut/sewn/quilted all by January 6, 2012 while teaching the new grandmother how to quilt so she can take it with her when she goes to visit the new grandbaby - I'm sure we can pull this off as long as we only take small breaks/naps and eat leftovers...

In the meantime, still playing catch-up with Part VI of the Orca Bay Mystery quilt - here's my progress so far:

12 blocks and counting - 6 light and 6 dark.  Not where I wanted to be at this point, but I still have a few hours left of 2011 to make a good effort!

UPDATE:  as of Midnight (CST) December 31, 2011 I was able to complete an additional 18 blocks - 9 more light and 9 more dark for a total of 15 of each = 30 total blocks completed so far.  Getting there slowly but surely.  Hopefully, can squeeze out the last 26 blocks in between cooking and visiting today and finish up on Monday, time will tell ;-)

And trying to play catch-up with Part V:

I have most of one side sewn, just need to do a few more and sew/press/trim, sew the other side and I'm finished!

When I saw Clue VII yesterday (with the additional announcement that the final clue will be released on New Year's Day), I almost froze like a deer in headlights.  But finally got hold of myself and decided to keep plugging with a goal of having the entire top pieced by January 31, 2012 - which I really believe is doable at this point, since I've gotten soooo many of my other 2011 tasks that have been plaguing me for the past 5 years completed recently.  

For those who may not know, both my parents and my husband's parents have all suddenly passed away over a 4-year period and we've spent 2011 still trying to deal with the loss of all our parents and settle up their estates.  To say it's been a nightmare would be a huge understatement!  I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.  I won't bore you with all the gory details, but let's just say, it hasn't been pleasant and I've barely dealt with it on what one would call a consistent basis. That's where my quilting comes in - helps keep me balanced and maintain what little sanity I have left.  

Oh, I forgot to mention, I also went back to school and got my psychology degree and have been doing internships and volunteer work through the CASA program during all of this (what a blessing the CASA program has been for me as well) - all while restoring my husband's parents' 1970s home and moving into it and trying to fit all my quilting/sewing/embroidery paraphernalia into a two bedroom ranch what used to fit into a 5 bedroom home w/attic loft (our youngest son of four children now resides there, since it's near our irrigated farm ground and he is now in charge of all the irrigation equipment that has to be kept running 24 hours per day in season).

Soooo, 2011 was the year I finally got everything finalized (or so I thought, we still have a master bathroom that will be completely replaced over the next 3 months due to deterioration - thank goodness for my quilting studio/refuge, once again!)  The one thing I had kept putting off was the final organization of my quilting/sewing studio, especially since we kept discussing the possibility of putting up a separate building that would double as a quilting studio on the second floor and storage for gardening/yard work on the lower level (our ranch home is located on 3 acres with lots of landscaping and mowing/weed eating to do which requires lots of maintenance tools to accomplish the tasks).  

Since we've struggled to get anyone nailed down on time/price for the outside building (everyone is booked up for months here in our MidWest farming community), I finally gave in and converted our unused 2-car garage into my quilting/sewing studio and just had to figure out how to organize it all, since much of it has been in storage for five years.  

Two weeks ago, I just decided to dig in and start doing the things I knew how I wanted to be done and hope the rest would fall into place after I had accomplished the 'must haves'.  I wish I could tell you it was that easy, but of course it wasn't.  We had torrential rains which led to flooding of the studio right off the bat, several things got changed because even I had forgotten just how much fabric and thread and yarn and stencils and, and, and.... that I had, so of course I had to rethink some of my original storage/organizational ideas and plans.  

There are two ideas that did work that I particularly love.  The first is what was originally housing jelly rolls and quilt projects and extra fabric, now stores ALL my sewing/quilting/serger/embroidery thread and my knitting machine yarn - my ceiling-to-floor wire basket unit:

And YES, it's completely full of thread in every single drawer from top to bottom - at least now I know how much I have, where it's at, and that I probably do NOT need to purchase any more - at least not for a long while ;-)

Next, to be able to accomplish the entire re-organization, Betty had to be moved to a better place in the studio that was far more level and wasn't threatened by flooding waters:

I pray I NEVER have to move her again - she's not an easy move, especially with her six 4 x 4 wooden legs!  But now, she's as level as she can be - my machine/carriage won't move unless I move it - awesome!  

If you look waaaay in the back behind Betty, you can see ALL my quilting/sewing books and stencils also got completely categorized and organized:

 including all my rulers, complete w/new ruler organizers:

Along with all my UFOs, some are more than 10 years old, have been nicely organized w/quilt tops neatly folded and hung on hangers and projects placed in project bags and hung on an extra garage organizer I almost threw out, but it works nicely and I love being able to see all my projects now, up close & personal:

There are more than 20 UFOs that must be completed in 2012, along w/charity and family/friend quilts as yet to be created.  Looks like I'll keep busy in the New Year ;-)  Oh, and of course, the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt must be finished by January 31, 2012 if I'm to stay on my new schedule, and I'm also involved with two other BOMs - the Generals' Wives and just finishing up the Civil War Chronicles!

But NO worries - I just purchased a new-ish HQ16 (according to the ad, may have only been used once or twice in like-new condition), should arrive sometime next week!  I was actually looking for some new Handi Handles for my stretched Singer (which has not been cooperating one little bit lately) when I came across this beauty:

Even though she was somewhat of an impulse purchase, I've been looking at the HQ Avante for some time (the bigger sister to the HQ16), but the price was so right for this one, I couldn't resist.  With the savings, I was able to purchase all of the upgrades, including the latest HQ rail system w/carriage.  Hopefully, she will integrate with my Betty - we'll keep our fingers crossed.  I'm soooo excited I can hardly sleep just thinking of all those UFOs I'll be able to finally quilt in style!  Oh, I think 2012 is going to be a very good year, Yes indeed!

Well for now, need to stop dreaming about my new machine and get back to work if I'm ever to be ready for her arrival so as I always say, time to get back to it...

Happy New Year EVERYONE!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Part VI - Orca Bay Mystery Quilt = Ohio Stars!

The latest clue of Quiltville's Mystery Quilt reveals one of my very favorite blocks: the Ohio Star, YEAH!  Can hardly wait to start sewing them, been so gosh-darned busy w/holidays, finishing up the revamp on my quilting studio (it's M-A-A-V-E-L-O-U-S if I say so myself ;-), got the bulk of it finished last Friday morning of December 23 @ 5:12 am after pulling a couple of all-nighters, and I actually put some of the finishing touches on earlier today, AND trying to get caught up with the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt.  So far I've got all the 2 1/2" squares cut, so making a little headway:

And don't these look so cute?!:

Well, I'm off once again to begin sewing these cute little darlins.  I've got to get really busy since I've got soooo much sewing and cutting to do to get all caught up by Friday (still working on Part V as well!) - I'll post when I get all finished up...


Monday, December 19, 2011

Part V - Orca Bay Mystery Progress!

I'm really starting to like the color combinations as they come together with the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt, and I made some progress on Part V - not as much as I'd liked but still some steady progress.  Got some of the  black scrappy triangles cut:

256 cut - only 444 left to go!

I also made some progress on Part IV, got all the red strips sewn and ready to trim/cut into 5 1/2" squares.

AND, got more than half of my quilt studio organized/moved and my sewing machines set up.  Once I get the exercise/storage side organized, I'm golden - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to me, (and anyone else who's ever gotten the insane idea to completely revamp their sewing/quilting studio 2 weeks prior to Christmas ;-)

So, with less than 5 days 'til Christmas Eve (I'm hosting our family's Christmas Eve dinner), best get back to it!

Merry Christmas EVERYONE and Good Luck with your progress!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Part V - Orca Bay Mystery Surprise!

OK, so the Part V clue of the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt kind of surprised me and left me a little stumped - not what I expected at all but then again, this is my first Quiltville Mystery Quilt so I'm sure I'm in for a few more surprises before we're finished ;-).

Anyway, I pulled some of the needed black strips for the needed 700 (yep, that's 700!) triangles:

Hoping to get some of the 700 cut later today but first, must finish up Part IV and get the rest of the red strip blocks sewn and cut - FINALLY!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, for some insane reason I decided to completely clean out/revamp my quilting studio 2 weeks prior to Christmas!  I guess I must've been motivated by Bonnie's organizational posts and at the same time frustrated w/my messy storage each and every time I went hunting for fabric to fulfill one of the clues for the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt.  

Needless to say, it's taken a few days longer than I anticipated (I originally thought I could do everything in 3-4 days), well that didn't happen as with everything in my life (and possibly yours?) - there's always a few hiccups along the way to slow/impede progress like, a flood in the studio from all the rain we've been having here in the MidWest on my second day into the revamp.  But, the waters have started to recede, doesn't look like I will lose any of my fabric due to space bag storage (YEAH!) and I'm back at it starting to make some more progress - I'll post before and after photos later, don't want to overwhelm anyone with my current dilemma ;-)

Well, as I always say, gotta get back to it...


Monday, December 12, 2011

Making Headway on Part IV of the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt

Getting to work with RED - how luscious, Love it!  And as I mentioned in an earlier post, utilizing Polly the Patchworker's method of strip piecing (as we did in Part II), to create the 5 1/2" string/strip red blocks for Part IV of Quiltville's Orca Bay Mystery Quilt:

Haven't made as much progress as I would've liked, been busy revamping my entire quilting studio, but shouldn't have any trouble finishing up by Friday for both projects - I sew strips on my breaks ;-)  I'll post more pics of my progress throughout the week...

Well, gotta get back to it!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Part IV of the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt - REDS!

Reds, Reds, REDS - OH My!  Yes, I LOVE red, it's one of my favorite colors and we get to use it in Part IV of Quiltville's Orca Bay Mystery Quilt - Yeah!  I had already chosen a few reds earlier on and it looks like I was right on w/my choices (thank goodness ;-), according to Bonnie's latest clue:

Since these are going to be turned into 5 1/2" string blocks, I already know I will be utilizing the same method we used in Part II of the blue string blocks - the Polly the Patchworker method, love it!

Time for cutting so, let's get to it!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

ALL Caught Up and Ready for Part IV of the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt!

Ah YES - what a wonderful feeling to FINALLY be all caught up with Quiltville's Orca Bay Mystery Quilt!  Took advantage of the most recent HOUSE marathon to finish up Part I, and got the second half of the QSTs sewn into hour glass units, pressed/trimmed and ready to go into temporary storage until Bonnie gives us the appropriate clue to utilize them in the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt:

And I got lots more Quilt Jelly, too!  Don't these hour glass units look soooo cute all nestled in their temporary resting place?

And now, time for yours truly to find her a temporary resting place for a nice, long nap...time to get to it ;-)


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

HSTs of Part III from Orca Bay Mystery Quilt - DONE!

Plugging along - and now have the HSTs of Part III of the Quiltville's Orca Bay Mystery Quilt - ALL 350 pairs, DONE!

They took a little longer than I anticipated (what else is new w/my family/life) because the baby gift for the youngest daughter took longer/got changed in mid-stream.  I would post pics but, because I promised a one-of-a-kind embroidery design/gift, can't post to keep it that way, I know you understand ;-)  To say the two burping cloths and owl receiving blanket(s) w/customized embroidery were too cute is, IMHO an understatement - they all turned out beyond our expectations.  Just goes to show, when one is in a pinch - must pull out ALL the creative juices to bring the final finished product to fruition.  Needless to say, I was exhausted after all that creativity and needed a break before I could resume our Orca Bay Mystery quilt.  

In the meantime, still haven't finished the last half of the QSTs from Part I:

At least they made it to the pressing area (my ottoman multi-tasks as notebook/pressing/sewing/trimming/foot rest area) and all got snipped apart ;-)

Later - gotta get back to it, there's another HOUSE marathon w/my name on it!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Making Progress on Part III - Getting Caught Up on Part I of the Orca Bay Mystery!

Starting to see daylight!  Made some serious headway on Part III of the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt challenge and finally getting caught up with Part I - YES!!

Feels good to see some of the fruits of my labor - lots of trimming and cutting HSTs:

And you'll all be glad to know - finished cutting and sewing ALL the QSTs from Part I during yesterday's HOUSE marathon (and it was one of my favs ;-) :

Will get them all pressed and trimmed later this evening, sew them into hour glass units tomorrow-ish and will FINALLY be done with Part I!  Then will get back to trimming and cutting  the rest of the HSTs from Part III.  I will probably save that task for tomorrow because now I'm off to finish that baby gift I promised my daughter a month ago and it's due tonight - gotta dash...


Monday, December 5, 2011

Part III of the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt the SNS way!

Lots of quality sewing time has finally ensued, including a large chunk of Part III for the latest Quiltville Mystery Quilt - so let's get to it, shall we?

All of the half square triangles (HSTs) have been sewn using the square in a square method (SNS) from Jodi Barrows, pressed and started trimming and cutting into the resulting four HSTs:

Pressing and pressing and pressing HSTs from Part III AND QSTs from Part I (trying to catch up) :

Pressed half of the required QSTs from Part I (the 1 1/2" strips are cut, just waiting to be cut into QSTs and sewn, which I plan to finish up later this week...

And I used the Companion Angle to make the cuts for the QSTs and the Easy Square Jr. to make the needed 3 3/8" cuts for the HSTs - both rulers worked great!):

QSTs sewn into hour glass units, pressed and trimmed - the trimmings make for nice Quilt Jelly:

And that's it for now.  Can hardly wait to see what everyone else has been up to - I'll be checking back soon after I take a nice loooonnngg nap ;-)

UPDATE:  up from my nap, checked the tube and there's a HOUSE marathon on Cloo and it's raining outside so I'm golden - I can cut and sew and trim ALL day!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Part III of the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt - Off and Running...

OK, so after a short stint in the recovery chair w/sniffles ALL day Friday (when of course the new clues to the Orca Bay Mystery quilt are posted), finally started to feel better late last night and I sooo appreciated all the Well wishes from Celia and Helen from the UK ;-)

So today is a brand-new day and I've finally been clear-headed enough this afternoon to make some headway on Part III - got ALL my 2" and 3 3/8" strips/blocks cut and am ready to sew:

And lots and lots of strips left for a nice future string quilt or two:

Sewing the 2" and 3 3/8" strips together - almost half done and ready to cut down to the finished 3 3/8" size:

And so I'm off to the sewing machine to finish up - I'll keep you posted...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Let's Do the Math on the HSTs of Part III for the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt...

Since I'm bored out of my mind w/sneezing, coughing, watery swelled up red eyes (those flu/virus gremlins just had to show up), and I can't see well enough to cut accurately or sew, thought I'd try and run the math on the half square triangles (HSTs) for Part III of the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt.  I give you fair warning:  PLEASE check my numbers before you go off sewing 150 of these PLEASE - and I accept NO burden of responsibility if you don't check my math and measurements after you make one or two of these units based on the * square in a square (SNS) method of Jodi Barrows (which I dearly love and swear by, especially if you like strip piecing like I do).

Here's a video demonstration of this marvelous method and a few extras to boot:
(Don't you just LOVE Jodi's chock-full of fabric/tools/goodies studio - I stop by and visit this video from time to time to not only refresh my memory on all the SNS options but to drool over her studio - can anyone say A-W-E-S-O-M-E?!)

DISCLAIMER:  I am NOT affiliated in any way - receive NO royalties, referral fees, and/or money, gifts, etc., from any recommendation from any Vendors online or offline, including the SNS method and tools.  I ordered and paid full-price for ALL my SNS tools, books, and videos, just to clarify...Thank YOU!

OK, now that all those details are out of the way, here's my math so far - according to Bonnie's Part III directions we need:

  • (350) 2" pairs of half square triangles (HSTs in black prints and neutrals) = 2" finished size after sewing the pairs together and 11/2" finished size in the quilt
  • PLEASE see **UPDATE below for change in the center square measurement:  Using *SNS method (above) that means we need: (88) different 3 1/2" or (3 3/8" as stated below in UPDATE) center squares sewn to (30 NOT 120 as previously stated since each completed unite will yield 4 HSTs) different 2" x 45" strips - what's neat about this method, you can make the 3 1/2" center squares out of one of the needed colors - let's say the black print and the 2" strips would then be out of the neutrals, or you can switch and make the 3 1/2" center squares out of the neutrals and the 2" strips would be different black prints - whatever you happen to have on hand in the appropriate measurements (I have a lot of 2 1/2" black printed jelly rolls, so will probably cut them up and use for my 2" strips and have a bunch of hunks of neutral fabrics I'll be cutting for my 3 1/2" center squares).  Just remember, each sewn unit of  3 1/2" center square w/four sides of 2" strips yields four (4) HSTs!
  • FINAL Math tally, the short version:  (88) different 3 3/8" center squares OR (7.5) different 45" WOF 3 3/8" dark strips sewn to (30) different 45" WOF 2" neutral strips, once sewn/trimmed/cut in fourths yield 360 HSTs
Here's my math according to Jodi Barrows SNS methodology to get the center square cut size:  2" cut size of HST multiplied by the magic number of 1.414 = 2.828 plus 1/2" = 3.328 rounded to nearest 1/8" = 3.453 or rounded up to scant 3.5 which translates to 3 1/2" for the center square.  Even though I've checked the math several times, I've yet to sew even one unit since I don't trust myself yet to see well enough to cut and sew accurately (still waiting on those cold meds to kick in ;-).  So again, PLEASE check this and get back to us and let us know if this will work.  As soon as I can, I will do the same..Thanks so much!

**UPDATE:  the 3 1/2" measurement for the center square really needs to be 3 3/8" to be perfect or you need to go really, really scant if you use the 3 1/2" measurement.  I did it both ways and I even mistakenly grabbed a 1 1/2" strip from my quarter square triangle pile and had a heck of a time trying to figure out why my measurements were soooo off - must've been the cold meds, LOL.  I even went with the 3 3/8" center square on my second attempt to figure out what was wrong and started to make the same mistake with the 1 1/2" strip when the light bulb FINALLY went on, H-e-l-l-oooo!

Again, FINAL Math tally - the short version:  For (350) 2" HSTs using the *SNS method we need (88) different 3 3/8" center squares OR (7.5) different 3 3/8" - 45" WOF dark strips sewn to (30) different 2" - 45" WOF neutral strips, once sewn/trimmed/pressed/cut in fourths will yield 360 HSTs.  Since we only need 350 HSTs, you will end up with 10 extra.

So here's my final results using the 3 3/8" center square with 2" strips:

The top square has just been sewn with alternating 2" strips on all four sides of the 33/8" center square.  The bottom square unit has been trimmed using Jodi's Texas 2-step method with the SNS ruler.

I opted to use my 'spinning' cutting board so I could cut through both centers without disturbing the triangles:

And now the moment of truth, after ALL this cutting/sewing/pressing/cutting/sewing/pressing/cutting do we finally have finished 2" HSTs???

YES Indeed we do!  Here's the 'proof in the puddin' as we say down on the farm:

Alrighty then, we are back in the race sooooo.....let's get back to it, shall we?!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blue String Blocks - DONE!

Finally finished with the 3 1/2" blue strips and strings blocks - Yeah!

Aren't these cute?!

And I even had some leftovers if anyone needs any ;-)

But having read all of Bonnie's books to date, I'm fairly certain I may end up using these somewhere, if nothing else, I can see them pieced into borders later 'bout you?

Well, no rest for the weary - got to get back to the black/white quarter square triangles.  I have 4 hours until the end of this day, should be enough time to get caught up just in time for Part III of the Orca Bay Mystery Quilt - so let's get back to it!