Monday, May 22, 2023

Finishing Up Those Quilts

Do you have trouble finishing things? Is there a pile up of unfinished quilt tops or blocks in your sewing room? Join the club.  

Lately, I seem to be having a more difficult time than usual finishing up some quilts and other projects I've started. Then, just yesterday I read something (not necessarily about sewing or quilting but appropriate) about how just getting in the room can motivate you. I've been avoiding my room because it's messy with tons of projects in all stages on "incompletion". . . .  and it drives me crazy that I keep starting new stuff. So I went in there and spent a few minutes and something happened. I got motivated to organize some things. Then, that led me to think about the piles of blocks that needed to be sewn together. I made myself a promise to just sit in there this week, without a plan. See what transpires. 

I posed this idea to my Facebook group. In the coming weeks and months, some of us in my Facebook group are going to be working on finishing up a few incomplete projects we have started but set aside. Join us if you need encouragement or motivation to get back to a quilt you started but never finished. No need to join in if you're an on-track quilter who always finishes whatever they begin before moving on to something else. Sigh - if only . . . . I'm terribly guilty of putting things aside when something new inspires me. I'm aiming for one hour in my sewing room every day, or at least several times a week. Believe me, this has been difficult lately for one reason or another.  

These are some Peony Star blocks I started for a second Peony Star quilt (from my old book Remembering Adelia). I pulled them out and decided I would really like to finish a few more. 

Sometimes airing something in a group and committing to working on it again can be motivating. My FB group is full of gentle encouragers. We're going to be starting this in June, showing a project that we would like to finish - a recent one (large or small) or maybe one we started years ago but set aside for some reason or another and yet it would be oh so lovely if we actually had some motivation to finish it. And then we'll commit to working on it regularly over the next few weeks or months. No pressure, no shaming. Life happens. But sometimes taking something out and airing it before others is all it takes to become motivated to work on it again. Maybe all your project needs is a binding or - maybe some of the blocks are made and you really want to make more. Maybe someone in the group is working on the same Kathy Tracy project and you can encourage each other.

These are such fun blocks to make. Lord knows why I need another Peony quilt, but we'll see what happens.

Someone in the group posted something recently that reminded me that when we decided to challenge ourselves to work on some UFOs in the old Yahoo group, a bunch of us wanted to finish our Dear Jane quilts. And it actually worked - some got the motivation to finish it and some of us became motivated to at least head in that direction a little more (no names here LOL).

I know, I know - it's like, Finish it already!! But when I post pictures, I get motivated. So maybe it will get closer to being done if I commit to spend an hour on it every now and then.

I get sidetracked quite a bit with new ideas or new fabric I want to use. At times, I look at some of my unfinished projects and for some of them think - maybe it's not really worth the effort. Maybe the colors or fabrics are wrong or I never really liked the pattern. Maybe I don't really need another little quilt -Shockers! LOL.

Or maybe I did it for a group sew along and others liked it and became motivated to finish. But for some reason I got sidetracked and never did. That cute little star quilt will definitely be on the list.

Old projects that are half started can sometimes be bad energy for us and just a lot of extra baggage carried around in our heads. Getting rid of things you feel "pressured" to finish is somehow liberating. And getting past it can free you up to work on something else instead of hanging onto it.

We're planning on starting this in June so I'll have to sit down in the room, pull some UFOs and mull it all over. My motivation for finishing projects can get a little off track. By tomorrow, it may not even be the Peony blocks I plan to work on. Join us in the FB group if you're so inclined and see what happens. I'll keep you posted if I make any progress.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Reproduction Fabric Panels

Do any of you own pre-printed fabric panels? These are also called "cheater cloth" fabrics and used to be very popular years ago. It seemed that just about every reproduction fabric designer had one or two in their fabric lines. If you collect reproduction fabrics like I do they're really fun and a welcome addition to your fabric collection. If you can find them anymore. 

The cheater cloth nickname was originally given around 1910 because it was an easy way to "cheat" and make a quilt without doing any piecing. Here are some of the panels in my collection. I only have a few, mostly ones designed by Judie Rothermel and a smaller piece of one designed by Jo Morton. 

Years ago, when I first started quilting, I used to practice my hand quilting on these. Treated them as a finished quilt top, layered with batting and backing and just followed the lines to do some hand quilting. Then sewed on a binding.


This picture below is of a tumbling blocks fabric panel that a friend of mine had machine quilted - she added borders and turned it into a pretty lap quilt that looks antique. Quick and easy.

I'll tell you, it doesn't look that much different from this little tumbling blocks quilt I pieced all by hand from scraps. You probably know how long that took. I've always wanted a larger one so maybe someday I'll use my panel (above) and do the same thing.

Most of the ones I've shown here are pretty old and hard to find but I know fabric companies still make these. I saw that Moda came out with one by Betsy Chutchian recently. Mary Ann's Gift??  And I think I saw one by Julie Hendrickson too. If you can't find any new ones, try Etsy or eBay. You might get lucky. 

*  *  *

We had a small amount of snow here yesterday but the sun is out today and I'm almost certain spring is coming . . . . It has to, right??


Monday, April 3, 2023

Where's Spring?

We've had so much rain and cold weather here in the Chicago area lately. Spring just does not want to get here!  I know I say this every year. But this year . . .  it's all been a little too much to take at times. Maybe Mother Nature is waiting to see just how much we can take and how long we can go on complaining about the weather.


No flowers. Just puddles and mud.

If you're like me and live in an area that has seen way too much bleakness and cold this year, getting impatient for a true springtime to arrive, here's a free pattern for a cute little flower quilt that may uplift your spirits and keep you busy. I designed it years ago for my old Yahoo group and thought I'd resurrect it. I'm hoping that as soon as I finish writing this blog post the sun will miraculously come out and we'll be there already.

This little project is so cute and it's very easy to put together. I played around and made a sample block yesterday.  Just make Snowball blocks and use a different color for one square for the flower center when you put 4 blocks together. Download the pattern here and you'll see directions for making the blocks in two sizes.

To make the block, mark diagonal lines onto the small squares and sew to the corners of the larger square. Add one square in a different color for the center.

Flip and press the corners open. Using a little dab of water along the seam while pressing will help make it lie flat. 

Trim the seams to 1/4".

Make four of these units, arrange as shown and sew them together with the contrasting pieces meeting in the center.

The pattern gives you directions for two different sizes. I made the 6" blocks a few years ago and this time went smaller and made 4" ones.

Such a cute little flower, isn't it?  

You can add a button. Or a stem and leaves by appliquing  them onto a plain block. Then fill your house and thoughts with flower blocks and quilts and maybe spring will arrive here for those of us in the midwest. I'll keep wishing and hoping . . . .

Friday, March 10, 2023

Display Your Little Quilts

I'm often asked -  what do you do with all your small quilts? Many of us hang these on a wall or place them on a table. 


You can make a whole wall of quilts if you have more than a few. 

Try some rolled up in a basket. Then bring the basket indoors LOL. 

Display them on a bench.  Oops, this one's a larger "small" quilt! More like wall hanging size.

Small quilts can personalize a room and add color, texture and creativity to a space. Some quilters change them out with the seasons. I always have a few small quilts out and displayed around the house.


I have a few favorites that just brighten up my home so I occasionally rotate them in different rooms and settings.


One of the fun things about making small quilts is that they're easy to display around the house in so many different ways. Quilts really add something to a room whether they're dressing up a bed, draped over a sofa or hanging on a wall in an entryway. 


Small or large, I think that quilts make a home a home. Seeing a quilt displayed ini someone's home conveys a feeling of warmth to me. Don't just make the quilts and put them in a drawer or closet. Bring them out and display them so you and others can enjoy them.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Simple Sewing, Mindless Piecing

I've talked about this before - how simple, mindless sewing can work wonders for your creativity. Sometimes I can't take the time or don't have the energy to focus on a large, complex project that involves a lot of work or concentration. I did that consistently for my Dear Jane and Schoolgirl Sampler. Pushing myself to get them finished as best I could. Writing books and making projects on a deadline also requires a lot of focus and that can drain your energy if you do it regularly. When I get tired, and quilting becomes "work," I have to take a break from it. Afterwards I find myself in a quilting slump and the only way to jump start my productivity or creative impulses is by playing around with fabric and making something small. Like this sweet little Valentine Mini. 

Years ago, I saw an antique strip quilt in a magazine made with what looked like mostly blues and browns. Not a good or  close-up photo. I cut out the page and filed it for "Someday." I ran across it last week, became inspired again and spent time pulling some fabrics to use in it - 

I started cutting and making a few blocks. mindlessly sewing four patches and hourglasses together. This one was just a picture and had no pattern, so I'm going to create my own. I realized I didn't really have a blue and brown quilt. I decided to add a little touch of pink to the blue and brown blocks and see what happens. 

Beginning a new project can be very exciting. I have about four or five of these types of simple, larger quilts started. Nothing fancy. Simple blocks, pretty fabrics, traditional settings and all based on antique quilts I've seen. I work on the blocks in between the sew alongs and my Dear Jane. And I'll finish each one when I finish. No pressure. Just sewing blocks until I feel I've got enough for a lap-sized quilt.

I really love mindlessly sewing simple blocks. The repetition and playing around with the fabrics and coordinating colors sparks some kind of creative flow. I find a nice box to store the blocks as I make them. And keep the fabric for the setting or borders along with the finished blocks.

When I collect enough blocks for a top I begin to put them together. No pressure. Sometimes I wonder if the reason we struggle to finish quilts is because we get bored with a specific project? Or become stressed by trying to make it perfect? If I take breaks from one quilt and move onto another one for awhile, I still make progress. Just not in a straight line, LOL.

The epitome of mindless sewing -  squares set in rows, LOL. Still plugging along every now and then. 

I love these plastic project cases for storing blocks for some of my in-progress quilts. I found them at Michaels in the Scrapbooking department. I'm sure other craft stores and maybe even Target carry them too. they stack nicely and I keep them at hand for when I feel the need to do some mindless sewing. 


My goal for the coming weeks -  just sew and have some fun! It's meditative and good for the soul. 


Related Posts with Thumbnails