Monday, December 30, 2013

Gingerbread Boys and Chevrons

Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt has me making Chevrons, and I'll show you my progress on them next, but first is a picture of some gingerbread boys. 

On boxing day, we invited some friends and their children to come over and make gingerbread boys with us.  I have a collection of gingerbread boy cutters, and had made up a big batch of gingerbread dough for them to roll out, bake, and decorate.  My recipe uses 14 cups of flour, and I doubled it, so there were a lot of gingerbread boys decorated that day!  A good time was had by all!  (well, except for the gingerbread boys - they got eaten.)

Since my last post was only a dream, (Read it here)  I am making Chevrons this week.  Here are 150 that are finished, in piles of 10:

Next is a picture of the partially completed ones, in a shoe box in the sewing room:

Bonnie Hunter's mystery this year was inspired by the beautiful tile flooring in churches in Ireland.  After looking at the floor tile pictures on her blog mystery clue posts, I am really interested to see how this quilt will look when all of these pieces are put into blocks.  

Bonnie has given us 5 clues, and I hope to be all caught up before the next clue comes out.  Mondays are the linkup days for all of the people making Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt to post their progress on her blog: (Here)

Also, there are lots of projects at Design Wall Mondays over at Judy Laguidara's blog:  Patchwork Times

Happy New Year everyone!  Wishing you health and happiness in 2014!  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dreaming of Chevrons made by Elves

Yesterday, I made about 15 Chevrons for Part 2 of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt, Celtic Solstice,

and then went to bed, thinking about how many more Chevrons there were to make!  Here's a picture of my bed, with Christmas sheets, and Bonnie Hunter's Roll Roll Cotton Boll quilt to snuggle under.

I was so comfy that I dozed off right away, and while sleeping, I had a beautiful dream that my little dolls, Sophia Grace and Rosie, had turned into Christmas elves and had organized a Chevron Factory!

The dream was very vivid, and these two elves had an assembly line going.  

Cutting and marking area:

Supervised by Sally, our yellow lab, they made batches of 30 Chevrons at a time.

Sophia Grace and Rosie had cut enough 2 inch squares of yellow and white and rectangles of brown to make 240 Chevrons, enough for a full sized quilt, per the instructions on Bonnie Hunter’s blog.  The cutting process also included marking each of the 2 inch squares with a diagonal pencil line.  Sophia Grace did most of the pencil markings, and Rosie made sure the piles of cut fabrics were in little piles of 2 browns, two yellows, and two whites – enough for one Chevron.  The piles were laid on the floor in rows of 10 until there were 3 rows,

before my little elves moved them on down the assembly line.

First factory sewing station:

In the sewing room, Hitty was sitting on a little chair, supervising to be sure all was done right.  Two brown rectangles were laid out, with a white square on top of them, each with the drawn line laid out in the correct way, under Hitty’s strict supervision.  Sophia Grace soon had the white squares sewn on, and then let Rosie sew on the yellow squares, cautioning her to sew in parallel lines to the previous line on each brown rectangle.  Hitty insisted on pressing the sewn squares up on the front of the piece, to see if they covered the part of the brown rectangle that they were supposed to cover.  If they didn't, there was trouble, and seam ripping.
Second cutting station:

Then the batch went back to the family room, where the little elves flipped the Chevron parts over to the back, and if there was any yellow or white showing at the edge, they cut it off.  Then they turned the Chevron part to the front, and gently lifted the top triangle up and cut off the 2 triangles underneath.  They knew I liked to make doll quilts, but they determined that these parts were way too small for even doll quilts, and they threw the tiny triangles away.   Sally was supposed to supervise this part too, but she had fallen asleep. 

What can I say?  She is a 13 year old labrador, and after all, I was asleep too!

Final pressing and sewing:

The batch went back to the sewing machine, where Hitty was again in charge.  She insisted on an extra step of turning each part to the back to make sure it was ironed properly, so the seam allowances were pressed up on one of the pieces and pressed down on the other piece.  Sophia Grace and Rosie rolled their eyes, but they did it.

Only then, could Sophia Grace and Rosie begin the final sewing of the center seam of the Chevrons.  They decided to use three pins, one in the center where the two brown pieces meet, and one at each end to keep the two pieces straight.

The two pins at the top and bottom were placed further back in the fabric, where they didn’t get in the way of the sewing machine needle, and the center pin was pulled out by Rosie just before the needle got to it.

Hitty did the final pressing of the center seam, and pressed it open.  If the center of the Chevron didn’t meet her approval, she asked Sophia Grace and Rosie to use their seam ripper, and redo the seam.  Sometimes they distracted her and put the offending Chevron back in the pile of completed ones, and hoped Hitty wouldn’t find out.
While I was smiling about how resourceful they were,  I woke up and wondered if my dream could possibly be true, so I got up and checked.  Alas, there were only my 15 Chevrons completed, and the dolls were in their beds, dreaming their own dreams.
Ah well, the Chevrons will get done the human way, all in good time.  Merry Christmas everyone!      Linkup to Bonnie Hunter's blog where you can see what other quilter's are doing on this quilt:  (Here)

Also, Design Wall Mondays linkup here:  Patchwork Times blog

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas is a week away! Yippee!!

First, I'll show you my progress on Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt project:  Clue #3 is half-square triangles.  

I used these papers I had in my stash, and the process was simple and easy. It went fast and very smoothly, and now I need to catch up on Clue
#1 and #2.  Here's a picture of the papers, which make 8 hsts at once:

I am linking up with the linkup with others at Bonnie Hunter's blog:   (Here)

I thought I'd share some of my Christmas decorations with you.  Here's pictures of the front door decorations and the sleds on either side of it:

The smaller sled is our old family sled.

The side door has a pot of hostas by it in the summertime, and it is now filled with osage oranges, or hedge apples as they are sometimes called.  It is said that the squirrels like the seeds inside them, but they have left this arrangement alone.

I will close today's post with a picture that was just texted to me today from my daughter.  It's a picture of our youngest granddaughter, in her school choir performance.  Not the best resolution because it was taken with a cell phone, but she's such a blessing, I had to share it:

Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 9, 2013

18 Ways To Motivate Yourself in Quilting

First, here's my work so far on Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt, Clue #2:
One chevron piece made, 243 to go!

I get emails from Pastor Rick Warren (of Purpose Driven Life fame) and read a recent article he wrote about 18 ways to Motivate Yourself in Ministry.  I thought his list could be easily adapted to quilters, and here's his list, shamelessly plagiarized and adapted for quilters by me:

1. Put your plans on paper (or screen).  If you write it down, it becomes clear, and not so vague.  Make a list of what your projects are and plan how you are going to complete them. 

2.  Break big tasks into smaller tasks to remove excuses for not starting.  Can you imagine how many of us would do Bonnie Hunter's quilts if she gave us all the instructions at once?  Remember, eating an elephant is done one bite at a time.  And Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilts are done one clue at a time!

3.  Decide how you want to start.  Decide what your simple first step will be.  When I break a quilt down into simple steps, it becomes more real to me.

4.  Establish checkpoints in your progress.  Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilts are so much fun because she has checkpoints built in for us with the Monday link ups.  It motivates me to get something done, so I can join in with the linkup.

5.  Know the difference between "I can't" and "I don't want to."  Most of what's done in the world is done by people who don't feel like doing what they're doing, but they do it anyway.  A lot of quilters don't like part of the process, be it finishing the binding, or cutting the fabric.  Successful quilters have developed the habit of doing things unsuccessful quilters don't feel like doing.

6.  Remind yourself of the benefits of completing the job.  There is nothing like the joyful happy dance I feel like doing when a quilt is completely finished!  It helps sometimes to remind myself of what I will feel like when the quilt is done.

7.  Do a small part of it right now.  Even if you don't want to start it, just give it five minutes.  Often the "just five minutes" turns into a good amount of a project completed, as I lose track of time, and become immersed in a quilt.  Sometime if you don't feel like starting, you just have to start, and the momentum will happen.  I have an old sand timer that I turn over, and often quilt for just the time it takes for the sand to run through it, but often look up and the sand has long been settled into the bottom end, and I'm still going strong.

8.  Be optimistic.  The old saying is so true:  The person who says "I can't" and the person who says "I can" are both correct.

9.  Establish an action environment.  If you work better in a tidy quilt room, clean it up before and after your quilting session.  I work better in a "nesting" environment, with a lot of fabric and books around me, and it is best if I leave the work area just as I like it, and close the door behind me when I leave it.  

10.  Avoid places where distractions occur. I can't quilt while watching TV, so I have a radio and CD player, and a stack of old CDs to listen to.  When I go to a retreat, I take a simple project with little chances of error, because I am an "accountant type", who likes to concentrate on the work at hand.  This last retreat I attended, I worked on nine patches, and that was plenty for my little brain.  

11.  Know your energy patterns and take advantage of your peak times.  I'm a morning person generally, but occasionally I'll come home from an evening event where I've had too much caffeine, and I will have a late night sewing session.  You know when you are most productive, and it helps to quilt when the energy and brain are functioning best.

12.  Use the stimulation of good news to do extra work.  Sometimes someone will comment on my blog, or say something to me in person that will make me think in a new way about a project, and it stimulates me even more.  I try to give comments on other people's blogs when I see their work because I want to see more great things from them.

13.  Recognize when indecision is causing inertia. A lot of procrastination is not really procrastination - it's indecision.  Pastor Rick Warren is so right on this one!  He says identify your choices and choose one.  Don't let it sit around.  In quilting, I have to remember to make a fabric choice decision and move on.  

14.  Use visible reminders. I'm a very visual person, and my design wall motivates me to finish the project I'm working on.   If you are a visual person, put a note up in your quilt room to help you forge on to the finish line.  Here's a sticker I got from Brenda Padadikus, which is going up in my quilt room:

15.  Give yourself room to make mistakes.  Perfectionism produces procrastination.  Pastor Rick Warren says, If it's worth doing, do it!  As the Dear Jane motto above says, "Finished is Better than Perfect."  I fight perfectionism constantly.

16.  Don't set goals you don't expect to reach.  That's because there's no motivation in them.  This is one that I'm pondering.  I need to analyze at the start of a quilt (at purchase point in the store) whether there is really motivation within me to complete it.  

17.  Enlist a partner. The Dear Jane group I just joined in Virginia is a great motivator for me.  I complete some squares each month before we meet again.  It is fun to meet with the group and see what the other's squares look like, and talk with them about the problems we encounter on the journey.

18.  Keep reading to increase your skill.  This is one that really motivates me.  I read and study quilt books and look online at blogs to increase my skill set.  I love to learn new quilting skills, and I thank everyone that blogs for sharing their knowledge with me.

Does this list help you?  I am going to concentrate on 13, 15 and 16.  I printed out the entire list, and have it pinned up in my quilt room. 

I'm linking up with Design Wall Mondays over at Patchwork Times, Judy Laquidara's blog, (Here) and the Week 2 linkup over at Bonnie Hunter's blog for the Celtic Solstice mystery (Here)  I will be taking breaks from quilting today to look at everyone's pictures of their progress this week.  Happy quilting ladies!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Celtic Solstice: Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt

I've been gone for two weeks, and just got home last night, and I have made very little progress on Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt.  Here is a picture of what I've done so far on Part 1:

I started with the orange fabric, and found a piece of teal fabric that has been in the stash for far too long, and it is being used for the outer triangles of this clue.  It is fun to use up fabrics in a mystery quilt.  

I am not sure what colors I'm using for the rest of the quilt now that I've veered off into teal, but that is part of the fun.  I don't have very much fabric that is orange either, but I will wait until the following clues to see how much more is required.

It sure is fun to see what everyone is doing with Part 1.  Here is a link to Bonnie's blog to view the work so far:  (Here)  There were 184 people with links to their blogs the last time I looked.  I should be #185!  Wow, that's a lot of Celtic Solstice quilts!  And there are probably far more without blogs.  Bonnie's mysteries are such a gift to us.  Thank you Bonnie!

I am thinking about a name for my quilt that doesn't involve "Celtic" or "Solstice".  I don't know whether to pronounce Celtic as 'sell-tick'  or 'kel-tick', and I pronounce Solstice as 'soul-tis' and it is probably 'soul-stis'.  Plus I am learning how to spell solstice correctly, but very slowly.  I keep spelling it soltice or stoltice.   I may name my version "Lake Michigan Sunset" instead. I will include Bonnie as designer, and her name for it on the label, of course.