Thursday, December 31, 2009

Final quilts of 2009

Here are the last few quilts from yesterday and today. I had plans to get more quilted today, but the boys' room sucked me and and spit me out. Also, I had threaded the machine funny and had to unstitch a whole row of quilting and that took about 30 minutes. Why is it so much more fun and easier to stitch than unstitch a quilt?

I have one more quilt loaded on the frame and may or may not get to it tonight. Either way, it has been a good year for quilting and busting stash.

And I can finally see the floor in my boys' room. Built them a bookshelf and it is full already. No wonder they had so much stuff on the floor of their room, too much stuff and no place to put things. We will keep working tomorrow, but it is almost time for family game night and maybe a movie. Not sure how long I can play board games :)

I hope you will forgive me for being too lazy to rotate these pictures. The 'new' computer takes forever to rotate them and I'm just feeling lazy. I plan to move the 'old' computer back next week after my daughter leaves to do her internship and then things will be back to normal.
Until then, just tip your head. People will look at you funny, but tell them you are emptying your brains to make room for new information. See what they say.

Out with the old

So, looking back on 2009 brings good memories. Lots of things were accomplished in the quilting world this year. I'm going to work today to finish up as many quilt tops as I can and try to get them to my friend for binding. I hear she has some finished ones for me. I think I have 17 quilt tops hanging on the rack and know I can't get them all done, but I started off the year with 24 quilt tops so I'm ahead so far (unless someone brings me more today!)

The quilting room is looking better than it did this time last year, although there seems to be more fabric in there. Not quite sure how that happened as I really don't remember buying much :) I do think I brought a lot in from the garage and shed and hope this upcomingyear to bring the rest in, which means I have to use up a whole bunch. That shouldn't be too much of a problem at the rate I went through fabric this year. If I figure each quilt takes an average of 5 yards of fabric and I quilted about 175 quilts (counting what I plan to get done today) that's 875 yards of fabric used this year. Give or take a couple of yards. Wow, that's a lot of fabric. And you can't tell I used any.

I'm going to sit today and make some goals for the new year, take down the Christmas tree and start cleaning the boys' room. If you don't hear from me, please send help. I may get burried in there. Don't worry, I probably won't starve to death. I'm sure I will find plenty to eat, although I'm sure it is old and moldy.

Tonight we are having 'family game night' and will jump into the New Year.

Wishing you the best for 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fixed it

With the help of the Stashbuster's group on Yahoo, I was able to fix the sewing machine problems. Seems it was a small burr on the inside of the hole where the needle goes. If your sewing machine or quilting machine is shredding your thread, try this. Stick a pin in the hole of the sewing plate throat cover. Use the pin to feel around inside the hole to see if there is a rough spot. If there is, you most likely have a burr where the thread gets caught. If you are only using the machine for sewing, the needle most likely will never catch on the burr, but with machine quilting, when you move the quilt or the machine, the needle gets distorted a little and the thread touches the sides of the hole. When this happens, the thread catches on the little sharp pieces of metal and tears.

I went to the hardware store and got a very small file set. It is called a needle file set, used for woodworking. I used the one that looks like a skewer and pushed it through the hole and twisted it back and forth a few times.

Then, I used the very fine sandpaper. This is supposed to be used to sand cars. Silly men. It is 2000 grit. I cut a very small strip, maybe 1/8 inch and wrapped it around the end of the file and pushed that through the hole and twisted that around to get the tiniest pieces of metal off. The throat plate metal is pretty soft and you will see bits of it on both the file and the sandpaper.

Then, I did the pin test and I could feel the difference.

Put the thing back together and quilted. No thread breaking. For the whole quilt! And I did feathers, which require twisting and turing and backing up and going every different direction. So, I believe it is fixed :) Yipee!

I also did this to the originial throat plate that came with the machine. When I first got the machine, the thread broke no matter what I did. It didn't fix until I got a new throat plate and boy was the hole rough inside. I think I fixed that one too, but haven't tried it out yet.

I'm just surprised that the company I got the machine from didn't suggest this fix for me. I might write them and let them know how I finally fixed my machine problem. $10 for the tools and I can fix it if it ever happens again.

Happy dancing here!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Scrap Using Strip Quilt

I am working and sorting and cleaning and trying to use up some of the scraps and just started sewing them together. A couple days ago, I made this one and liked it so much that today I sorted more strips and made a second one. I have three more baggies for three more quilt tops like this. Super easy and quick to do. No thinking allowed here. Just take your leftover strips from bindings, other projects, end cuts, or just start cutting pieces of different sizes from 1 1/2 inches up to 10 inches. The bigger the cuts, the faster it goes together, but variety makes it look nice.

I've also been busy quilting. I still am not sure what is going on with the quilting machine. I finally finished up the Quilt of Death! It took me about 3 hours to get it done. I worked on it and the thread kept breaking every 8 inches. I took the machine off, changed the needle, changed the thread, cleaned the machine, tried a different sewing machine on the quilting frame and nothing helped. I was thinking that it was the fabric somehow cutting the thread. I loaded a second quilt onto the frame and the thread only broke once. Same thread, same needle, same batting. Strange.

(quilt #2)

Loaded a third quilt and the thread started breaking again when I tried to do wonky feathers. Decided to do some big loops and the thread stopped breaking. I started thinking that maybe the batting was the issue. Sometimes the poly batting is stiffer than other times. At the end of the quilt I did the wonky feathers again and the thread didn't break. Still not sure what is going on, but I'll keep trying different things until I figure out what is going on or I use up all of this batting and then try something new. Quilting is really fun 99% of the time but the 1% that isn't fun is so frustrating. I just can't give up and do something else, because there is so much fabric and so many kids who need a quilt!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

So frustrated

Not only do I have a migrane and have been laying around all day, but when I finally decided to do something so the day wasn't a total waste, the quilting machine is giving me fits. This goes back to when I first got the machine and the thread broke every 8 inches of quilting. I have no idea what the problem is. I've tried everything, changing the needle, changing the thread, cleaning everything I can find. I'm starting to think it has something to do with the fabric in this quilt top. There is one type of fabric with some gold glittery parts that I don't think the machine likes very much. Problem is, I have miles of quilt top to go before I can take the quilt off the frame and not sure what to do next. Maybe I will have to put an old machine on the frame and use that. Like my old kenmore. That thing had a small throat to quilt with, but didn't give me nearly the troubles the Janome 1600P DB does with thread breaking. When it works, it works great and will quilt 200 quilts with no troubles at all, but when it gets tempermental, boy does it make me want to throw it out the window. Of course, having a migraine doesn't help the situation. There is probably something easy to fix, that I just can't see right now.

Maybe I should go sort quilt books and magazines instead. That won't hurt my brain as much and the quilt will still be there tomorrow. It's just frustrating to not be able to do what you want when you want to.

I HATE migraines

They suck you in, chew you up, spit you out and say have a nice day. Thanks for nothing.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Progress in the sewing room

I am bound and determined to get that room in order before school starts again next week. I am slowly making progress in there, cutting fabric, sorting, giving away two bags and one box of scraps that are too small for me. I know, some people like to use up every little piece, but when you have 5,000 yards of fabric, it is hard to stop and take the time to use the little tiny pieces. I gave the fabric to people who will love it and use it and make something out of it. They have the time, I have the little pieces, everyone was happy.

So, I sorted another box of scraps today and have a pile that still needs ironing and trimming. I also attached the metal shelving unit to the wall with some plumbers tape. It is a strip of metal with holes in it and I just found the studs and drilled screws into them through the metal strip and around the shelves. Not sure it will hold the whole thing together, but it will slow down the collapse in case of an earthquake. That's something we have to think about here in California. I would hate to be underneath the thing if it fell over on top of me.

But, the biggest improvement came today with the addition of the hanging clothes rack. It now holds my quilt tops waiting their turn to be quilted. I got it at Target for $20 and it says it will hold 100 lbs. It fits perfectly in the little space between the shelf and sewing table. Right now there are 25 quilt tops on it and I think that is about all it will hold. That's a good number to have in waiting, so I have something fun to pick from every time I'm ready to work on a quilt. For some people 25 quilt tops would give them the hives, but for me, it isn't very many at all. Some days I can do 3 or 4 (and some days in the summer up to 6) so I can blast through 25 quilt tops quickly. Now that I have a friend who will bind everything for me, I'm ready to go.

I got a quilt quilted today on my new machine set up and it felt good. I got some extra bed risers for the table to make it a little higher. One of the troubles with being 5'11" is that things aren't made for my height. It's ok, I've learned to adapt and make things work for me.

Well, off to do some sewing before I'm needed for the evening. Bellies are full, so I should be good for an hour or so :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

It's Christmas

The children are all squirreled away in their rooms or playing games and it is so nice and peaceful around here. I got some sewing done today. Daughter #2 got a new office chair for her computer and I got her old one for my sewing room so it makes it much nicer to sew for longer periods of time. I have been working on cutting fabric to finish up the 60 or so kits that I plan to pass along to my friend who will sew them and give them back to me to quilt.

The sewing room is almost moved back to somewhat of an order and the quilting frame is back together. I'm hoping to put a quilt on it later and quilt something. I haven't quilted in a long time and I need to feel like I'm being productive on my vacation. I can't believe we have been out of school for a week now.

For my birthday, my husband got me an mp3 player. I didn't really want one, but he insisted that I should have it and now that I have loaded some church sermons on it, I can sit and sew and listen and I am really enjoying having it. I downloaded some sermons from my old church and am looking forward to listening to my old pastor.

We are having ham and turkey today because the kids couldn't decide on one. I figure if I cook both today, I won't have to cook for a while. I made a roast beef last night and so there will be plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week I think. That means more time for sewing :) Ain't I smart?

I hope today finds you all healthy and happy and full of joy.

Christmas blessings to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Feeling Clever

Yesterday I decided I wanted to move my quilting machine so I could work from one side of the frame. I now work from both sides, loading it from one side and quilting from the other. I could have a lot more space in the room if I could only work from one side of the machine. So, I started looking online for handles for my machine. I figured I would get them for myself for my birthday. I found a couple of different styles and they were between $200 and $300 just for handles so you can work the machine with your hand, instead of your foot. Well, I have a really hard time spending that much money on a handle or anything else, so I thought about it for a little bit and this is what I came up with.

You see, about 20 years ago, the Velcro company sent me two ginormous boxes of Velcro when I taught 1st grade. These boxes could have fit 8 first graders in them. I gave away most of it to my fellow teachers and friends and random strangers. I have a very small amount left. This is industrial strength Velcro, that will hold forever. I put some on the machine and some on the foot peddle and now I can use the foot peddle with my hand. I just hold the handle with my left hand to move the machine and squish the peddle with my right to control the speed of the machine. Didn't cost a penny! I felt so clever coming up with this idea all by myself :)

Then, I got the grand idea to move the whole sewing room around. I am still in the process of moving the fabric back onto the shelves, but I have moved the table to where the fabric was and the fabric shelf against the wall. I made it 2 shelves higher, more room for more fabric. I found some great new storage bins for fat quarters and they are sort of organized, but at least put away better. It will take all of the rest of vacation to finally finish up this project, but I think it will be for the best. Hubby says this is the 21st time I have re-arranged this room and he is probably right. I hope this is the last time. Because I have much better things to be arguing with my teenage daughters. Oh, that is so much fun.

Sorry, mom if I was such a pain as a teenager. I take back every time I talked back to you. You were always right. If this is payback for all of the times I was a spaz, I'm so sorry. Really, I am. Please, make it stop :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!

Another year gone by with many wonderful memories. My oldest is home from college and we are enjoying her company again. What more could a mother ask for? Well, maybe for all of her children to behave for a family picture. Is that too much to ask? THIS is why you don't have 4 kids! You can't take a decent family picture with everyone looking normal in a single picture. We sure did have a lot of fun taking these though. Look at little guy. He cracks me up with that cheesy smile. And older son with his interesting personality... Yeah.
So much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to in the new year.
So, what do I want for my birthday? I'm trying to re-arrange the sewing room again. Hubby says it must be the 21st time I've done that. Maybe this time it will work. the problem is I have too much stuff for too small of a space. I can't figure out how to shrink everything down and I don't want to get rid of anything. I think I might go either to Ikea or to a sewing machine dealer in Sacramento. I'm looking for handles for my quilting machine so I can put the machine up against the wall and work from one side. Right now I have to work from both sides. That would free up about 2 feet of extra space. If I could do that, I could move the quilting machine against the wall. I think Ikea might just have some extra storage stuff that would give me more places to hide fabric. I wonder if the girls would come shopping with me. I think they have always wanted to go to Ikea. I hear you can get lost in that store :)
And tonight we are going to Fresh Choice for dinner. I always go there for my birthday dinner. I always over eat too.
Hope your day is happy too!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

So worth it

Here is a link to the pictures of all of the quilts we worked on so hard this summer being passed out to the children at a special needs orphanage in Kazakhstan. Just seeing the faces of these children and young adults as they each get their own quilt makes my heart leap for joy. All of the work that went into each of the quilts is so worth it. Knowing that these kids have something to call their own and to snuggle under each night...oh.

I want to get in the sewing room now more than ever and get to work. This set of pictures couldn't have come at a better time. I start vacation today for 16 days and have great plans for working through a bunch of quilts. Yipee! I'm floating on air!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Last minute Christmas gifts

This is what I am attempting to do before Friday. Nothing like waiting until the last second to get some Christmas gifts done for co-workers! They are Christmas napkins. I'm headed to JoAnn's today for some gold sparkly serger thread and Fray Check. Too bad I didn't think of this on the weekend when I had a zillion 50% off coupons. Oh, well...

Saturday, December 12, 2009


off the face of the earth. That's what it feels like. I have been under so much stress lately with overload at work and trying to help my daughter find housing in NY for her winter term project that I haven't had a chance to breathe. This weekend, I have to clean the house and do 27 loads of laundry and then there's Binky Patrol on Sunday. I hope to have some pictures to share. I am delivering blankets and quilts to church on Sunday for the CASA group to help clean out my house to get ready for my daughter to come home. Right now, they are filling her bedroom and she wouldn't have a place to sleep :)

The weather outside is icky so it is a good day to stay inside and get some work done. Hoping to get the house presentable in a few hours so I can have some time for quilting. I made a couple of fleece blankets last weekend for my daughter's boyfriend's birthday yesterday, but other than that, I haven't had much crafting time. The sewing room is a disaster. It always turns into the dumping ground when I'm not in there working all of the time. That is a top priority this weekend so I can be very productive this coming vacation. One more week of work and then I'm off for 2 weeks. We just had a week's vacation 2 weeks ago...oh, the life of a teacher :)

Well, off to get some donuts this morning...need that extra energy for working all day. Hope to have something interesting to report soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

15 mintes

I came home feeling beat up again, this time I did it to myself. I have a student that I've been trying to get help for since the 3rd week of school. I believe we are in week 15 now and still nothing for her. I keep going to administration, we had a meeting, and nothing has changed. Every day I ask, when is something going to be done? I feel like I'm hitting my head against a brick wall and wish I could just let it go, but she is making everyone around her miserable because she is so miserable. I don't understand why it is so hard to get help for kids sometimes.

So, I sat at the computer for an hour and then decided I could do something productive for 15 mintes. This is what I got done! I quilted this really big quilt (well, really big for me). It is 60 x 72 and big enough to cover a teenager at a foster home.

I still feel beat up but better that I got something done to make someone else's life a little better. And that is how things get done...15 minutes at a time. Now, to get up and cook dinner in 15 minutes :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

wasted time and energy

The last two days at work have left me frustrated and angry and exhausted. Yesterday, my personal business was shared with everyone in the entire school district. You know, I felt just like a celebrity, having my 'business' all out there and everything. Don't worry, my husband didn't attack me with a golf club or anything that extreme, but it was still a personal item that didn't need to be shared with everyone and I was angry with the person who shared it through the district email. I wasted all of last night and some of today fussing over it. What was done, was done. Nothing could be taken back or changed. Wasted energy and time.

Today things just weren't going the right way either. More wasted time and energy. My shoulders are sore and cramping, like I just got beat up. I just get so frustrated and angry when things aren't right in the world and I know how to fix them, but nobody will listen to my ideas. Then, after everything falls apart and people come along and say, hey, you had a good idea, I start banging my head into the walls and say, I have been saying this all along! More wasted time, more frustrations.

So, no quilting. I have a quilt top ready to go, just no backing for it yet. I started cutting up some nice pieces, but that will take more time and efforts and thought and I just don't have that right now. Maybe tomorrow will be a less stressful day. I need to learn to just let these things that I have no control over go and relax, knowing that God is in control, not me. I'm a slow learner.