Friday, January 23, 2015

Do You Have an Sewing Nest?

Many quilters have a wonderful U shape desk set-up which allows them to cut, sew and iron by just turning in a twirly chair.  It puts all your tools right where you use them making it convenient and generally gives you more time to actually sew. I've dubbed it the "sewing nest." 

On the other hand, I've always had a separate ironing board and I've purposely chosen to put it a bit farther away than where I sew.  And, now, I feel somewhat encouraged (vindicated?).  Have you been reading the headlines about "sitting disease?"  Yikes.  A new report from Annals of Internal Medicine reports average people spend more than half of their waking time sitting.   And, the more sedentary you are the more likely you will die earlier than someone who is moving. You know you have way too much fabric so you need to be around for a long, long time! You can read a bit about the study in this post on Harvard Health Blog.

With the elimination of our "sewing nest" we could be prime examples of making sure we exercise just a little bit every 30 minutes or so. Here's a typical sewing process for me.  I will prep the next step for my project (and sometimes more than one project) standing at the ironing board.  I then walk across the studio, sit down and sew all the seams plus my leader/ender.  I stand up, walk back across the room and do my ironing and prep the next units for sewing, go back across the room and sew. It goes on all day (or however long I have for my sewing.)  In addition, my studio is upstairs and lunch is downstairs, I always get some walking and movement into my studio time.  

From this research all sorts of trends have started including the stand up desk. Well, it might be a trend now but evidently Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd president, used a stand up desk.  Some folks have attached a desk to a treadmill to walk and work at the same time. (Yikes, I'd probably sprain an ankle doing that or at the very least have way more typos than I do now.) I'm evaluating my non-sewing time to see how I can be more active.  

The take-away from this post is to look at your sewing time and see if you can add some more motion to it.  I pride myself on not being much of a tv watcher but instead of watching, I'm generally poking on the computer or reading a book either on a tablet, iPhone or a real book.  So maybe I'm not doing as well as I think I am.  Check out this article from the Washington Post about the health hazards of sitting. As much as I complain about getting up at 7 am 4 times a week to hit the Y, I am sure it is very good for me!  Now, I just need to cut back my night-owl tendencies. 

Here's my latest finish after sitting for too many hours! I wish I had knit a nice long cuff done in knit, pearl rather than an inch or so and then the stockinette stitch for so much of the sock.  These will probably be slouch socks. But, I love the colors and they are DONE! 

I also received a squishy in the mail today.  Irma sent her blocks to me for my turn with FCQ Equilters.  She had Nov/Dec blocks which I mailed to her yesterday.  I'm Jan/Feb so she is really on top of things since January isn't even over yet.  Thanks Irma.  

Both of these blocks are going with UFOs I uncovered when I was working on the first 15 Minute Spiff Up post.  The little candy corn blocks will go with the Halloween blocks to be made up into a wall hanging.  The Happy Blocks will be joining my other happy blocks to make some more quilts for the NICU at a local hospital.  

That's it for today.  I want to get a quilt on and off Ruthie so I can then do one of my quilts which will take a couple of days.  Let me know how you are putting some more motion in your quilting time. 

Happy Quilting Folks.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

15 Minute Studio Spiff Up Week #3

I've been hearing from folks making some progress on their studio space.  How did you do with the cutting table?  I'm happy to see I left it cleaned up when we went to the beach last week.  Hum, did it stay clean today after I was using it in the afternoon?  I'll have to check that when I head back up there. 

Because we were gone most of the week I wasn't sure what I wanted to do next on the studio.  It had to be something I could get done in a short time because I was going to have to do all of it yesterday and I wanted to do some sewing too.  

So here's what I worked on and your assignment for the week:  

Straighten up that fat quarter collection. 

I am lucky to have a whole hallway of bookshelves as I come into my studio. On top of my bookcases I have boxes and baskets full of fat quarters.  I tend to pull fabric from there if I am making opportunity blocks or blocks for the FCQ Equilter gang or other limited blocks.  It means I don't have to mess up the yardage nor take a small hunk out of the yardage. (Ha!  That doesn't mean I don't do that on occasion.) But, I've also been acquiring fat quarters over the last year as well as using it.  Fat quarters were on the top of the boxes and in a pile on the side of the basket.  Some colors had been put away in the wrong place.  They were a mess. 

I started with the purple because it was one of the worst.  I don't have all that many purple pieces.  I actually took the time to put the dark purples together, lights with other lights and the magentas together.  I had a new basket that a Christmas present came in so I moved the purples into it.  Here it is all cleaned up and put in the smaller basket. 

Although I call these fat quarters some are bigger pieces and most have pieces cut out of them.  But, I do have a specific way I fold them, even if they are a bit like swiss cheese.  Here's a whole fat quarter. (I didn't iron it flat before refolding... I was on a mission to get this done!) 

I've folded the cut edge back to the selvedge edge.  (Not smart of me to turn it sideways in the first picture... but it fit the frame better that way.) 

I fold it in half again so it is long and skinny.  (Well, kind of skinny!) 

Next I fold it in half the other direction. 

And then, I fold it again which gives me a nice little sized fat quarter. I used to work at a quilt store in Maryland and I folded lots and lots of fat quarters this way.  They fit pretty well in my boxes and baskets.  

Mostly I use boxtops from cartons of reams of paper to hold the fat quarters and three rows of this size fat quarter will fit in each box.  Unfortunately, I have some fabric that I just haven't folded neatly enough and those are harder to get into the boxes and baskets. 

I didn't get all of the colors organized from light to dark but these purple and the pink/red basket sure look nice. 

I got all of my boxes neatened up and all of the loose fat quarters were put back where they belonged.  I added the basket for the purples but was able to get rid of the basket with the blacks shown in the first picture on the far right. It is in the closet while I decide whether I need to use it or let it take a break for a while. 

If you don't have a special place to store your fat quarters spend this week thinking about whether your organization of fabrics works for you.  I love being able to grab a fat quarter without plowing through my yardage.  (Of course, my yardage piles are looking pretty darn bad now cause I keep grabbing fabric thinking I'm going to make a smaller quilt ... but then have piles of fabrics all over and no quilt to show for it.)  While I was working I kept grabbing pieces of fabric I thought I could use on a little quilt I actually am making blocks for.  I decided I really only needed enough for two blocks right now and the rest got put away.  And, I did cut the two blocks and one is already sewn together. I was using them as leader/enders while sewing the borders on the Mystery of Powhatan.  

It was a lot of fun to visit old fabric friends.  I still have some red apples on blue background that I bought at least 20 years ago.  My friend Sharon teases me about still having some of it left every time she sees some.  I must have bought 5 yards because I know we made a quilt together used it as the backing plus a piece of it has been in every scrap quilt I've made over those 20 years. (Well, I think it is...)  Needless to say I was surprised to see any of it left. 

I also found this piece of calico that I think I used in a dress for Jenny when she was a toddler.  I still like the color and the design.  It's burgundy with cream and green (or is it teal?)  And, that is all I have of it left. So, it'll will be cut up for some scrap quilt one of these days. 

Let me know how you are doing with the Studio Spiff Up. How do you store your fat quarters? Does it work for you? If not do you have some ideas of what will work for you?   We'll have another area to tackle next week.  And remember, you don't have to spend a whole day straightening up a section unless you want to.  I do much better with just spiffing up for a short time each day.  Thanks for joining me. 

Happy Quilting All! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Design Wall Monday -- January 19, 2015

Here's what's on my design quilt. (Oops, no design wall at the beach house so I pinned a piece of flannel to a quilt I've got hanging here.)  Then I pinned the blocks up as I got the sashing ready.  Yesterday late afternoon I got the sashing sewn to the blocks.  All the dogs still need their eyes and some need little additional stitching done.  There are three borders that need to be done.  One is gold and on the pattern there was some embroidered quotes about dogs.  I'm making each border 1" smaller than what is called for because of the size of quilt hanger at the beach house so I don't know if I will do the embroidery or not. 

Our house is available for rent and we allow pets.  So we thought my wild dogs would work on the wall.  If you want to rent a house in the Village of Nags Head, NC in the Outer Banks please take a look at it here.  

I was able to get some of my goals from last week done but not all of them. But most at least were moved farther along.  Here's last week's list. 

Week of January 12, 2015
Sew pinwheel blocks together for TAPS quilt
Cut and sew sashing for Wild Dog blocks
Finish small cross stitch, start next one didn’t even look at it.
Finish second turquoise sock I'm about 4" from finishing the second sock! 

Week of January 19, 2015
Sew borders on Wild Dog top
Sew first border on Mystery of Powhatan
Make backing for heart quilt and load it on Ruthie
Finish second turquoise sock

Here's the view from the windows of my sewing corner.  These are pelicans (well, I think they are, I never verified them with a bird book.) It was fun to see them swooping around and then just hanging out on the bridge. You may want to click on the picture to see it a bit larger. 

Want to see what is going on at other Design Wall Monday sites? Sneak over to Patchwork Times. 

We'll be heading home today and I'll probably finish the last bit on the sock as we travel.  I'm set to start red socks with wool that I bought at the sheep and wool festival. 

Happy Quilting All! 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Winter's Day . . .

At the Beach.  We've been down at the beach house for a few days.  We left an ice event with a bit of snow thrown in back at home.  It's cold and sometimes windy but the sun is out and we're enjoying ourselves.

We actually went to walk the beach yesterday morning.  It was empty so we let the dogs run loose.  Kona stays close by but Raggs is into adventure and goes off sniffing the dunes and piles of sea weed and whatever else strikes his fancy. Unfortunately he doesn't hear very well so we have to stay alert so he doesn't wander too far.  I was bundled up against the wind. 

We were surprised to find the stairs down to the beach looking like this! 

I've been sewing up a storm in my little sewing area by the windows. 

It's in the great room behind the chairs.  The space works really well for me.  I had to close the blinds to get the picture because of the light.  But, I look out over the back yard that is mostly sand and trees and a view of the golf course behind us.  

Late afternoon the sun is coming in from the left side and I get the best light for sewing.  I'm blocking the shadows while I sew so I don't even notice them. 
Once the sun starts going down I have to quit sewing.  I brought an Ikea clamp on light but it needs a special plug to allow it to work which didn't make the trip.  Next time I'll make sure I have more lighting.  The table was purchased at JoAnn Fabric stores when it was 50% off and I had a 15 or 20% off everything coupon.  I was leery of it being stable enough but it works great.  I'm using my old Elna Carina that weighs under 20 pounds. It just came back from servicing and is sewing like a champ. 

I'm specifically working on three UFO's.  One is for the TAPS collection I mentioned in this post. I've got lots of pinwheel blocks from FCQ Equilters so I thought putting them into quilts was a great idea.  Unfortunately, I didn't check the block sizes before I packed them up.  One is a good 1/2" smaller than the others so it won't work.  Drat!  I've got 4 of the 5 rows done and will swap out the small block for another once I get home. 

I'm also working on Wild Dogs -- hopefully I'll get it to top stage.  I finished the appliquéing at fall retreat and they've languished since then.  I cut all the strips and gathered everything I need to finish the top before we head home.  It has pieced sashing and pieced cornerstones so it is taking a time to get it all ready to sew together.

Last, and maybe I won't get to it, is the Mystery of Powhatan quilt. I just looked back to see if I showed any photos of this quilt. It sure doesn't come up as pictures.  I did list it several times in the goals list.  I'll post some pictures of it soon.  It needs either two or three borders to finish it off.  I've cut the strips but they need to be sewn together and put on the quilt.  It may be difficult to do that here as there is limited space to work in.  But I sure would like to get it done.  I'm going fabric shopping on Super Bowl Sunday and I hope to buy a backing for it.  I'll have a big finish the month I get this quilt done -- it's a big queen size quilt.  

Ok, time for me to quit perusing the Internet and begin sewing again.  We're going out to lunch and hitting a yarn store.  I find it hard to believe but there is a wonderful yarn store here in the Outer Banks. I've gotten several great patterns and some sock yarn.  It won't be used until several other pairs are done but one of these days I'll get to it. 

Happy Quilting All!