Sewing Room

Still Getting Organized

Remember how I was going to leave my fabric container solution until summer? Yeah, that didn’t happen – I got spring cleaning fever and just had to fix that mess.

It started with the my cable management system, surprisingly. Under my desk, I have lots of power cables going into the power bar (printer, monitor, tablet charge dock, sewing machine, iron, and table lamp). It worked, but it was a bit of a bear. I have a couple of power bars that I’m no longer using at work, so I brought one home to use. Before you ask, they are not power bars from work – they are power bars that I bought myself and took to work because I needed power bars in my previous role and our department had no extra budget at the time. I just brought my possessions back home.

My first step was to figure out my cabling. I divided my assets into low-draw power and high-draw power. The printer, the lamp, and the tablet charger are all low draw (or, in the case of the printer, turned off 95% of the time), so they can be on the same power bar with a large-draw device. The monitor, sewing machine, and iron are high-draw devices. The monitor is actually more mid-draw as it’s an energy efficient model, but the sewing machine and the iron definitely pull energy. Looking at my room, I realized that there is a second outlet in the room that I could be making use of, but it was not wired up. I asked husband to install the outlet for me and help me put the cover on the ceiling light – ten minute job max with all the precautionary steps taken. I love how he helps me to make our lives more comfortable. Sometimes. Sometimes it makes my life harder … as you’ll see. But harder for the best, always!

Crawling around on the floor, re-cabling, made me cringe. So many dust bunnies!!! Since I currently have an unfinished floor in the sewing room, the rough floor catches the dust and fabric lint. When I sweep, I get a lot of it, but *evidently* the floor snags some and it gets quite yucky. Combine that with the cat and dog fluff and the dust bunnies abound! Out came Mr. MiracleMate (the vacuum cleaner) and away ran the dust bunnies. The difference between sweeping and vacuuming (for me, at least) is that objects don’t get moved when I sweep. I know – I’m a lazy housekeeper. I just don’t see the point of moving things you don’t normally get behind if you’re only pushing dirt. I will get down on my hands and knees to sweep under – just not behind. Vacuuming and mopping justify furniture wrestling for me. And now we see why the bins got re-organized.

I pulled out everything movable and vacuumed. Since I’m now putting things back, I might as well organize the fabric. In addition to this, I inherited a bucket of yarn. I used this opportunity to merge the yarn I was keeping with the yarn I had just gained into a single yarn tub. I now have two tubs for fabric to sort. 😛 This is so very dangerous – now I have more storage room to buy more fabric! All my very future fabric projects (mostly Tula Pink or Craftsy-purchased fabric) and backing fabric went into the bottom bin. All the bits of fabric (fat quarters, scraps, a few yards of fabric not dedicated to a future cause) went into the top bin for easy access any time I need for little projects. The small bins are broken into two sections – denims in one, batting and flannel (for backing baby quilts) in the other. The book boxes were put back on the opposite wall, some extra things placed on top, and everything fits in a single row now!

Whoo hoo, tidying!

During my cleaning adventures, I came across a couple of old quilted pillow shams for an old commercial quilt that had quite literally been worn into pieces. I decided to re-purpose them into stash hiders. While this pile of boxes and totes is organized, it is in no way neat. I took the shams and covered two of the flat areas. This has the added bonus of acting as extra “table” space for spreading out blocks for planning or pressing. Once the ironing board goes up, the area looks very tidy (from most angles).

Finally, I cleaned up my rolling cabinet area beside the cutting table. You may remember the mess from past posts. It’s always been a leaning pile of backing fabric, projects, rules, and extras. Since I pulled apart Mess Mountain to sort the backing fabric into the storage bins, I decided to clean this up as well. You may notice a small tub is still sitting there – this is a very old quilt that my Auntie El made. It’s in very rough shape. I did intend to pull it apart this winter and revitalize it, but I didn’t have the necessary fabric or time to do that. Since it’s the same size and shape as the cabinet, I just left it there with another pillow sham to cover it for neatness sake. All my big rulers are laid out on top for accessible use (ruler organization is definitely a summer project) and the current project pieces sit out on that. Currently, the Grandma quilt … *groan* … the next blog will have FUN things to say about that!

I was supposed to be finished at this point and for 20 glorious minutes, I thought I was … until the wonderful husband decided that today was the best day to buy and install the closet organizer for our bedroom. I’ve been asking for that organizer for a couple of years now, so I should be happy/thankful … except that I have my dressers in the closet right now, so I had to pull everything out and re-organize the bedroom. This displaced a very old cabinet that belonged to my great grandfather. Since the sewing room is the only mostly finished space (well, not only – but the other two bedrooms are in use and have no additional space), it had to move in here. I still had a little bit of organizing energy, I decided to get on it immediately and finish it up.

I pulled apart the book box corner and slid the cabinet into that area. The yarn box no longer fits, but I had an extra space that I was using to store my sewing machine cover, so I just slid it in there. The book boxes are now under the window and the small bins just barely fit between the cabinet and the storage tubs. Whoo hoo! The second pillow sham went on top of the cabinet to protect the wood from the sun and wear&tear. Finally, some of my fabric collections (including the flannel) and some extra thread storage containers went into the cabinet for quick and easy access. There are a couple of personal items from our bedroom that have nowhere else to go still living in the cabinet, but I’m not worrying about them just now. When the Victorian cupboard comes upstairs this summer, I’ll be reorganizing again, so I’ll figure out the cabinet things when that happens. I’m also planning on making drapes for the window to protect my sewing projects from the sunshine, but at this time of year, I’ll take all the sun I can get!

When everything was said and done, I was happy with the result. The sewing room is much more accessible than it was before I started and it’s giving me ideas for Organization Phase 2 this summer. I’m also super stoked about the pressing station. I didn’t realize having the extra space behind the ironing table would be so useful! I someday intend to have an actual cutting and pressing table, but for now, having this is amazing!

~M

Sewing Room

Getting Organized

I had the flu starting last Friday … and boy, did I get sick! I had just a normal 2 days of achy joints and *ahem* fluid accumulation in my nose, but it turned into a sinus infection. My mother used to get those when I was a child and now I owe her an apology – they hurt!! I got sick to my stomach, my jaw ached in several places, my forehead hurt, the orbital bones ached, and I got so light sensitive that I had to wear my sunglasses in the house at night – and we do not have bright lights! I almost went to emerg for relief. Thankfully, some Tylonal Sinus pills and 24 hours got me past the pain part, but I’m still dragging a bit, coughing, and blowing my nose constantly. The internet says that it can go on for up to 6 weeks, so it may be a while before I feel 100%. I felt well enough to go out to a row-by-row quilting class last night, though, so I think I’ll get by if I just take it slowly! Since no quilting got done, I figured I would focus on a different aspect of the hobby this week – organizing our horde of tools and supplies!

Remember in the last blog, when I mentioned that I should get working on the Grandma quilt but might ditch to go shopping? Totally went shopping. *eyeroll* For organizer stuff!!! Unreasonable level of excitement here – I’m a bit of an organizer geek. When I was about 8, I decided to organize my closet. All my things were just piled up on the floor of the closet and it finally got to me. I pulled everything out and scattered it around my room – it was an absolute disaster. My poor neat-freak mother almost had a heart attack when she saw it! I promised that I would put it all back neatly, but I needed time to have a messy room to do it. Wonder of wonders, she let me have my way. It took me three whole days to get it cleaned up, but I did what I promised. Things were packed away in boxes and in drawers and I could get into my closet by the end of it. I don’t know how I had the focus to do that as a relatively lazy 8-year-old, but I did and the buzz I got off the organization job has followed me ever since.

During the monthly knit night at the local yarn store, Stix and Stones, we were talking about Marie Kondo’s tidying techniques. I previously watched a couple of episodes to understand the hype. I’m glad to see these ideas going mainstream and people getting serious about tidying. As I said, being organized is sort of my jam. You wouldn’t know it to look at our house, but I’m blaming that on husband’s drywall projects. 😉

My bright little sewing room! (pre-reorg)

Today, we talk about my sewing room. I love having things exactly where they are supposed to be. I recently picked up a couple of things at Michael’s to make organization easier.

Scrapbook/project boxes

Scrapbook cases!! For 5$ a pop, it can be an expensive plastic case for just a book. As a quilting project case, it’s a steal! I have a project in each bin. I’m also going to two quilting classes this year. I keep each class’ blocks in a separate case. It makes it so easy – I just grab that class’ case and run! It helps me keep all the directions, scrap fabrics, and new blocks all together. I also have everything for the wedding quilt in one case (including one completed block!), the tiger face project in another case (fabric is all together in the case with the finished blocks), and a couple of sample blocks and paper guides in another. I eventually intend to have all my paper guides in binders, but right now my binders live downstairs, so the papers I’m using hide in the sample box when not in use.

Next: the sewing box. I had a sewing box that my mother bought me when I was maybe 9. It just didn’t hold things the way I wanted, so I bought a slightly larger tray box. Shockingly, this exact tray/box was 3$ cheaper at Michael’s than it was at Canadian Tire … and the color choice was much prettier. I also picked up some divider containers to put in the bottom (6 containers for 5$!). There are some zippers and elastic ribbons under the mashinger quilting gloves (lower picture, right side). I’m so excited by my new sewing box!! I know that probably sounds so terrible, but there you are. 😛

What about the thread, you ask?? Well, let me tell you, that is locked down! I had a different thread-sorting setup, but I won these cases at the my last guild meeting and I am loving them!! I totally raided the poly-Mettler thread from my wonderful mother-in-law’s stash – look at all the colours! I mostly use these for my bobbin thread while I’m quilting – I can match almost any quilt bottom with this lot! I also used it for the top thread on the eagle quilt because I was changing colours so much. Plus, check out the Glide thread! I am pumped to try this thread on my next quilt!

I keep the odds and ends in my old bathroom cabinet. This includes my water sprays (with a shot of essential oil lavender), the starch spritz, lint rollers, basting supplies … and mah buttons!! LOOK AT THE BUTTON SORTING!!!

Finally, I have my go-to sewing cup. I’m very excited about this. I have a lovely Stash&Store tool organizer that I got from Royal Quilts last fall. I love having all my pointy tools within reach when I’m at the sewing machine, but … when I’m running between piecing, sewing, and pressing, I keep losing things under the fabric and patterns. That’s where the go-to cup comes into play. I keep everything I’m using in one of my spare divider containers. Clip a thread? Toss the scissors right back in the cup. Rip out a seam end? Back in the cup. I even have a spare long-divider cup for the days that I’m also using my rotary cutter. The go-to cups hide out under my monitor, so I always know where to find them. This little trick has already changed my sewing immensely. No frustration over missing tools – they are in one spot every single time I need them.

I still have some work to do – my ruler storage is a nightmare right now and my spare backing is piled beside the door on my husband’s rolling tool box. Also not pictured here are the bins with my fabric stash. I was planning on bringing up my Victorian cupboard this summer after I was done refinishing it to store all the fabric, but it’s either that or the new idea of bringing up the bookshelves to hold my books and hang a design wall on … I will post an update this summer. I’m pulling out everything out of the sewing room and painting it. Since I won’t be actively sewing while I’m doing that, it’ll make a good weekly post. 😉

~M

Quilt Designs · Sewing Room

My First UFO

Another first! I’m pulling out my first UFO to complete! It’s not really a UFO – I only packed it away in November so I could focus on the husband quilt, but that’s the longest I’ve left a sewing project so far (the planned but un-executed ones don’t count, right?? As long as you don’t cut the fabric you bought for it, you’re safe). Wait wait … I’m wrong. I have a UFO sampler cut up in a box, but it’s a tiny 20″x20″ sample to play with flying geese. Still doesn’t count!! 😀

One of the reasons it got pushed to the side was the fabric. I bought part of the fabric from Fabricland, only to realize a month later that I was going to need more of a certain print. Guess what they don’t have any more of??? After a lot of careful measuring and cutting of what I had left (how I regret you, wastefully cut material!), I think I have just enough to finish it with a little creativity one corner block. At this point, I placed up everything I had (including the completed row), popped it in a comforter bag, and focused on my priorities (coughCHALLENGE BAG!coughTIGER QUILT!sniffle). Husband’s quilt = done! Dad’s quilt = done! On to Grandma’s quilt. I do have a wedding quilt to make for September as well, but Grandma is turning 95 in August. If I miss the wedding deadline, the couple should still be here (and married) by next year. 95-year-old grandmothers might not be. That makes her the priority. And this particular UFO was started with her specifically in mind.

The first row – quilt set aside after I got this far.

I got this pattern from the very first episode of the Midnight Quilt Show. It’s an 8-point star quilt featuring two sizes of star. The original pattern makes a 60″x60″ quilt, but I wanted something king-ish sized. I assume that this quilt will be coming back to me when she stops using it and I like quilts with a good length of overhang … so this puppy is going to be 90″x90″. Won’t that be fun to FMQ on my domestic sewing machine!! 😀

CHINTZ!!!

Step one was figuring out all the measurements at half-again-as much (full size plus half the size – 60+30=90). Second step was the fabric. When I raided the Mother-In-Law’s stash for the husband quilt, I also pulled a bunch of floral/chintz fabric that caught my eye. When I started on this quilt, I went through my pulled MIL fabric and thought some of it looked suitably grandmotherly while still being appealing for my personal use. The only trouble is that it has stripes in it, which could be tough with the 8-point stars because of directional fabric. I wrote up a quick diagram to see if I could get the striped fabric to work for me … and it does!

Scribbles … they make sense to me!!

The secret is to used one striped and one non-striped fabric in each star (I do have one star with two striped fabrics, but I didn’t really have a choice. It looks okay, but not as good as one-striped-fabric only). I divvied up the stuff that worked best together. My two chintz fabrics were from the same line, one with a stripe and one without. The striped went into a large star where I would have space to use it nicely and the non-stripe went into the small star (less stripe space). I know, I know – the stripes don’t totally line up on the cut between the box and the star points. I think it looks okay this way – not amazing, but okay. I know there’s a different way to make these stars without cutting the points off, but I’m still learning and this is the best I can do with the skills I have now. And it’s not terrible – the stripes are still all going the same way, so it doesn’t clash too hard.

The purple fabric pile were the purchased fabrics to round out this quilt. It looks surprisingly good! Since I needed a striped fabric to match my purples, I found the Lavender Meadows fabric at FibreChick and FELL IN LOVE!! I’m super excited about how it looks!

Now, to actually get to work on the dumb quilt. I am so unmotivated!! I don’t know what’s wrong! Every time I go upstairs to work, I wind up making something else completely. So far, it’s been the tiger quilt, my brother-in-law’s wedding quilt planning, and the optional quilt guild row-by-row. I just can’t get excited about it. I’m even bailing on working on it right now to write this blog … heh heh …

Evidently I have better things to do, so I’m going to go force myself to do exactly that. Or ditch completely go shopping!!

~M

Quilt Designs · Sewing Room

Dessert First …

Ohhhh what a week I had last week. I had a last-minute interview notice for a new job (36 hours to create a presentation, practice it, and prep for the interview questions) Monday to Wednesday. I’m also part of a community choir and our performance was Saturday, so we had two extra practices plus the performance. I crashed on Sunday … but not before getting out my woefully late blog post. 😉

This week is different. Monday night was Guild night. It’s so nice to be able to take a break once a month to bond with people who share your interests! Tuesday and Wednesday are work-from-home days due to the terrible snowstorm. They’re calling for 25-30cm!! That’s 10-12 inches for our Imperial system visitors. Absolutely crazy – spring can’t come soon enough! I must say though – being able to quit work at my normal time and be sewing within a minute is a pleasant experience. 🙂

Probably to no one’s surprise, I caved to my tiger-face baby quilt project. I couldn’t help myself … I just had to see it in reality!!

Tiger Face!!! 6″ square finished block will be fine

I’m using the pink fabric as my pilot quilt because I can just go get more of it if I screw up too badly. Replacing the rest of it would be a combination of waiting for a shipment to flat-out not being able to find any. During my initial measurements, I realized to my horror that I was going to be three squares short of the purple diamonds. It must have been a popular print because I was having trouble finding any on this side of the border. I put out a call on Facebook to see if anyone would sell me enough to finish my quilt. An absolute saint of a quilter in Ottawa sent me exactly what I needed – absolutely free of charge. Angels must exist!

Hand-drawn diagrams help me visualize

I started with the planning phase. I got inspired at one of the guild meetings this fall with disappearing blocks and I thought a disappearing nine-patch would show off that tiger face perfectly. Since the rest of the nine-patch becomes a border to the corner or main squares (the tiger squares), I decided to use the diamond fabric as “sashing” squares and the lotus flowers as the “corner stone” square. I would have to rotate the tiger faces so the would all point the same direction after cutting the block, but that’s not a problem. I intend to add an outer row of sashes and corner stones to close in the design of the quilt at the end.

First issue – them diamonds. The diamond fabric is a directional fabric, so it only flows left-to-right or up-and-down. Sewing the nine-patch then cutting it makes the diamonds look wonky. I did it once to see if there was a chance it would work anyways, but no dice. It is no longer a true disappearing nine-patch – I’m cutting and piecing the face blocks individually.

Next issue – I didn’t like it!! The pretty pink diamond clashed too much with the focus tiger face fabric. And that’s when I noticed the turquoise lotus flower fabric was really pulling the design together … so I swapped them. The sashing is now the lotus flower and the corner stone is the diamonds. I think it looks much nicer this way. Second opinion (husband) agreed with me. He’s not the sort of fellow to tell me something looks nice just for the sake of my feelings (he still has a very strong opinion on the eagle-iness of my last quilt and it’s not a positive one), so I know it’s definitely the right choice.

I also learned a bit about my piecing issues. I’m not the most precise piecer, but I’m working on it and I’m learning from the mistakes I create. That will have to be it’s own blog post at some point.


Bjørn the Snowdog and Tiger Face

The final product. I have to make five more blocks, then the sashing-corner stone strip before the quilt top is done, but the design is solidly visible, so I’m content to put it in the UFO (UnFinished Objects) bin for now. Besides – once I have all three colors finished, I might be tempted to make myself a full-size quilt top instead. Wouldn’t that just be a shame … 😉

~M

Finished Projects · Quilt Designs · Sewing Room

New Year, New Quilts

Surprisingly enough, it’s hard to blog regularly if you take a break from your sewing machine.

After the push to get Husband’s quilt done and given to him, I stepped away from my sewing machine for a bit. I reorganized my sewing room, bought fabric (of course!) and made a couple of plans for the new year. I’m taking a week off work at the end of the month – just feeling a little burnt out and need to rest! Check out the light that I got from my brother-in-law for Christmas. I love it! It’s got a dimmer switch, three different colour settings for the LED lights (warm, cool, and normal), and it moves/rotates every which way. I can see so much better when I’m working on my projects!

Here is the completed quilt in all its glory!

The first quilt I want to finish this year is my dad’s birthday quilt. I need to finish cutting that and put it together. It will be very easy because it’s a panel with 2 borders around it, but it won’t happen unless I get to it! Probably this weekend? There’s a story to this quilt – I’ll get into it when I actually start working on the quilt.

Dad’s quilt in pieces

Probably next up is a challenge from my guild. I have other things I’m supposed to be working on, but I can’t stop coming back to this! I have a great plan for it! As you can see, I already started cutting a couple of blocks … Focus M!

The cloth was sold for 10$ a bundle at the two local(ish) fabric stores with the proceeds going to the Quilts of Valour. The guild’s challenge is for everyone to make something with this bundle and donate it back to the guild to be sold in our yearly quilt show. The sale proceeds will also go to Quilts of Valour.

Guild challenge fabric (picture taken before new light was installed)

I try to shop local (or shop local online as you’ll see further on), but Fabricland had some good deals that were hard to deny. Our longarm quilt shop is 25 minutes out of town and she’s closed the shop over the holidays for some well-deserved rest, so I do drop in on Fabricland from time to time. In this case, I wanted to get some batting for Dad’s quilt as I don’t think I’ll have time to get out to the the quilt store after she opens back up and still get the quilt finished on time. I tried to only buy batting, I really did … but with store sales, plus 40% off for members, plus save the tax until the new year … I fell into temptation.

One thing that will probably become glaringly obvious as we go along is my love for Tula Pink‘s fabric. She is an incredibly talented, creative, and imaginative person. I’ve bought three full lines of her fabrics (hello niece quilts!!), made a couple of bags from some, and collected a smattering of my favourite previous runs for accent squares in future quilts. My local Fabricland happened to get 6 or 7 bolts of Tula Pink and I have been drooling over them every time I visit. Well, drool no more – or, at least, just in the privacy of my own home.

Tula Pink’s Eden … the light is not doing the colours justice here

She always has three colourways in each run. For Eden, they were dark pink, navy, and purple. Fabricland had a full run of the pink and a couple of other bolts left. I bought what they had and ordered the missing prints in the other colourway from Lucy & Mabs shop on Etsy. I have to confess that I’ve bought quite a bit from Nicole (a fellow Tula fan). I intend to do something a little different with them. I’m making baby quilts! Part of the guild membership is to make a minimum of 2 baby quilts a year. These get donated to the hospital and given to premature babies as part of the care package. I know they aren’t typical pastel baby quilts, but I’m not a typical person. If I had a baby, I would probably be gravitating to something more bold than baby-like for decorating the nursery. When my cousin’s daughter was born, the baby blanket I knit for her was robin egg blue, sea green, and royal purple. She used that blanket constantly when she first had the baby. The people having babies these days are from my generation and we like to shake it up a bit, so while the finished quilts might make a stir at the guild, I’m sure the recipients will love them.

Another of my shop-local-online go-to suppliers is Troll Brothers Quilts. Stacie has done a wonderful job at building up her shop, even with a national postal strike going on. Every time I check out her site, I’m tempted by all her goodies. Over the holidays, she had a Boxing Day sale and I could not pass up this Canadian-themed bundle for a future Canada quilt. I’m thinking of buying fabric from each province/territory to incorporate into the the quilt. We’ll see!

Finally, something I should really be working on. It’s the Block of the Month quilt by our other local quilt/fabric/fibre store, Fibre Chick. The goal is to finish the assigned block each month before the teaching session for the next one. By May, we’ll have a finished quilt top. If we don’t finish our block by the time we show up to class, we have to pay a fine to get the next block. It keeps us incentivized to actually finish what we start! I’ve been good so far this session, although there was one block that didn’t get made until 2 days before the class. Husband’s quilt was taking priority over everything by that point. The class is in two weeks, though, so I have to get on it!

I think that’s a pretty good start to the year! Let’s see what we get up to next week!

~M

Sewing Room

The Magic Room

I find it hard to stay focused on projects like – oh say – a blog, but if I do a post every time I sew, we should get on quite well.

For post one, I thought I would introduce you to The Magic Room – aka where I sew. I just got my room set up this summer, so it is quite new. It is also missing some elements I intend to add in the future (like a design wall) and has a few additional elements that will get subtracted with time (I’m looking at you, shower unit for the bathroom reno).

Welcome to The Magic Room!

sewing_room
The Magic Room

On the far left, you can see my distraction quilt (the piecing project that keeps distracting me from the other time-sensitive quilts on my machine). The little cupboard hold all my notions and rulers (the smaller ones, at least!) The open cabinets below hold thread racks, work in process projects (WIPs), and my patterns. There is a monitor enroute for my desk – right now, I just have my tablet set up when I’m watching something while sewing.

tablet
Angela Walters – Quilting Is My Therapy

It makes following along on YouTube so easy!

I’m working on my first free-motion quilt (FMQ). I’ll talk more about that in another post if you’re wondering what it is. I have my quilting templates taped to the wall for quick reference. Having a large table makes FMQ so much easier! It’s also nice for piecing. My largest cutting mat fits nicely and I can cut up a whole project in a sitting.

sewing machine
Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 930

If you’re like me, you’re always curious about other sewers’ machines. I purchased this guy back in May and I love it!! It’s a little crochety about FMQ, but my dealer helped me sort out most of my tension issues. Having a 10″ harp is so worth the extra money in FMQ.

I believe I’ve rambled on enough for now. I’ll leave you with a picture of my quilting nemesis: the cat.

~M

black cat
Neiko camping on a quilt