Categories
Patterns and tutorials

Wheelchair Quilts

As you know, I am a nurse and that affects my approach to quilting, especially when making Sick Day Quilts. Wheelchair quilts are a special category. There are so many questions I like to ask when planning a wheelchair quilt – Who will use it? Where (indoors, outdoors)? Can the user stand up on their own? and so on…

There are a few basics to remember: 1. Wheelchairs have wheels. You do not want the quilt to get caught in the wheels. It is bad for the quilt and can cause an accident. 2. People are different sizes. A wheelchair quilt for a child will be shorter and narrower than one for a large, older adults. I am offering one size of wheelchair quilt here, but this can be customized for any size.

If you are making wheelchair quilts as a service or charity project, remember to make some in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Not everyone like florals, or cats, or geometric prints. Some people like solids, or sports prints or regional prints. I strongly encourage making wheelchair quilts for gifts and donation.

The full directions are on my tutorial page and are here.

I made my test quilt in leftover Baltimore Orioles fabric and scraps of leftover orange, black and white prints. The pattern is very flexible. I decided to play with disappearing four patch patterns, so my squares were smaller than the 9 inches called for in the pattern. I just increased the border width to get the size I needed. You can also make it out of large print squares. The instructions specify four-patches, but any square that finishes at 9 inches will do. This is a great project for charm packs. This would also be a great use for test blocks from other quilts. If they are less than 9 inches, you can border them to get the right size.

WOF=Width of fabric

All seams are ¼ inch. All fabric should be sewn right sides together. Press after each seam. WOF = Width of fabric

Fabric needed:

  • Color 1 = ½ yard
  • Color 2 = ½ yard
  • Border = ½ yard
  • Binding = 1/3 yard Border fabric, 1/3 yard contrasting color (color 1 or 2)

Cutting Instructions:

  • Color 1: Cut (3) 5 x WOF. Sub cut (23) 5 inch squares.
  • Color 2: Cut (3) 5 x WOF. Sub cut (23) 5 inch squares.
  • Border: Cut (2) 2 ½ inch x WOF, Cut (2) 3 ½ inch x WOF
  • Binding: Border fabric: Cut (4) 1 3/8 inches x WOF. Contrasting fabric: Cut (4) 1 5/8 x WOF

Piecing

  1. Make 9 four patch blocks with color 1 and color 2 alternating.
  2. Assemble the quilt in four rows of three blocks each.
  3. Add 3 ½ inch borders down the sides. Measure the quilt lengthwise through the middle. Cut each border that exact length. Mark center on border and quilt top and pin border to quilt top matching centers. Sew with
  4. Add 2 ½ inch borders to top and bottom using the same instructions as step 3, but widthwise.  

Finishing

  1. Layer backing (wrong side up), batting, and quilt top (right side up). Baste the layers together and quilt as desired.
  2. Trim the quilt square.
  3. Binding-
  • Bind as desired. I like a flanged, two-color binding. The binding fabric (background fabric) will be the strip cut 1⅜″ wide, the flange fabric (Fabric E) will be the strip cut 1⅝″ wide.
  • Take the 1⅜″ strips and 1⅝″ strips. Cut off all the selvedge edges. Sew four 1⅜″ strips together end-to-end with a 45-degree angle. To do this, layer the right sides of the strips together at a 90-degree angle. Draw a 45-degree angle from lower right to upper left. Sew on the line. Cut extra fabric away to leave a ¼″ seam allowance. Press open. Repeat with all four of the 1⅝ ″ strips.
  • Then sew the 1⅝ ″ strips together in the same manner.
  • Sew the  two strips together along the long edge.
  • Press seam allowance toward the background fabric (the 1⅜″ strip) and away from fabric E (the 1⅝″ strip). Now fold over with wrong sides together so the raw edges meet and press. About 1/8″ of fabric E will show above the background fabric on the right side of the binding. Only fabric E will be seen on the wrong side of the binding.
  • On the back of the quilt, lay the binding with raw edges matching the raw edge of the quilt and the flange side (Fabric E) up. Start on the long side, 3 inches above the bottom corner. Stitch binding to back with ¼″ seam.
  • At the first corner, stop stitching ¼″ before the corner (A) and stitch off the corner at a 45-degree angle (B). Then fold the binding down as shown (C). Starting at the edge, backstitch then continue with a ¼″ seam to the next corner. Finish two corners as described above.
  • Stop 3 inches above the third corner, which should be at the bottom of the quilt. Back stitch and cut off the binding. The edge does not need to be turned under because it will be cut off for the toe box.
  • Start again on the bottom edge 3 inches from the corner and attach binding up to 3 inches before the fourth corners.
  • Your top two corners will have mitered binding. The bottom two corners will have 3 inches on either side left unbound.
  • Press the binding out with seam pressed toward binding. Then press binding over to the front of the quilt. Pin corners with miters. Slowly stitch in the ditch of the flange all the way around the quilt using thread that matches the flange color. 

Keep the remaining binding for the toe box

Forming the Toe Box

  1. After you bind the quilt, cut a 6.5 inch square from each of the bottom two corners. That should cut off the border and one patch of each of the corner four-patches.
  2. Sew the remaining raw edges to form a 90 degree angle. The bottom of the quilt should be like two sides of a box.
  3. Enclose the raw seams in additional binding. Make sure you turn the raw edges of the binding under before sewing.
Toe box side view
From back

I would love to see your wheelchair quilts and hear about who is using them!

Categories
WIPs and PhDs

Getting Quilts Done

Unfinished objects (UFOs) and works-in-progress are a normal part of my quilting life. I do have one friend who only works on one quilt at a time. She works on it until it is finished then picks a new project. She is very successful at making high quality quilts. I envy her focus, but I don’t understand how her mind works. I always have so many ideas floating around that I want to work on. I definitely have SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome) where I always want to flit over and look at the new shiny project (or gorgeous fabrics). SOS seems to be a common issue for many quilters, so there are a lot of UFO and WIP challenges out there. I had decided to switch some of my long term UFOs to 100-day projects this year when @flyinggoosestudio issued a 50 day WIP challenge. The idea is to work on nothing but UFOs and WIPs (in other words, not start any new projects) for 50 days. It is a low-stress challenge and one that really appealed to me right now.

So far:

  1. I finished piecing a wedding quilt that was due three years ago and am finishing the back before I send it off to a longarmer.
  2. I prepped a quilt top and back that were started four years ago and sat in the closet since 2019 to ship to a longarmer who offered to use her art to enhance my piecing.
  3. I finished my quilty Valentine’s Day cards for my family.
  4. I got major work done on a wheelchair quilt for a presentation on March 1st.
  5. I made progress on my Double Irish Chain quilt that was untouched for three years.
1. Bluebonnet Broken Star
3. Purple Heart mini quilt
3. Polyhedral mini quilt
3. Coffee mug mini quilt
3. Tea mug mini quilt
3. Atomic star mini quilt

I’m pretty impressed at the progress in 17 days – I can’t imagine how much will get done in the next 33!

How are your UFOs and WIPs?

Categories
Tools and Tips

Test Blocks +/-

I have never been big on making test blocks. I just bought a little more fabric in case one of my first blocks needed to be redone. I actually cannot remember making a test block before. I always was too eager to get started with the project to take the time. And I didn’t know what to do with the finished test blocks.

My latest project, the Singapore Sling quilt, was going to be made with these new templates that my daughter 3D printed. She wanted to make sure they were accurate. My first thought was I would use some scrap fabric to make sure they work. However, I knew I had extra of the Good Vibes fabric designed by Christa Watson for Benartex, so I decided to try a test block with the fabric I planned to use for the quilt (this may sound basic to you, but it was a novel idea for me).

I carefully laid out one block and realized immediately that both my background and foreground fabrics were directional. I tried to line up the templates so the fabrics would be straight and I cut them out using the templates. Then I carefully pinned and sewed the block.

It took me about 15-20 minutes total and I learned a lot of valuable lessons:

  • The templates work and appear the be the correct size.
  • If I cut the fabric to keep the pattern straight, all of the cuts are on the bias.
  • It is really hard to get the fabric pattern perfectly aligned for this block. And I don’t like the look when it is off.
  • The tight curves are really tight – I ended up trying glue basting for them and it worked like a charm.
  • I will need to be very precise in my seam allowances.
  • I need to starch the fabric before cutting and before piecing. The fabric distorted a little with the curves. You can see below that the line does not fall perfectly straight.
  • I may need to slightly trim the blocks to get them all square and perfectly the same so the quilt top lays flat.
  • I like the finished look of the diamond.
  • There is enough contrast between the foreground and the background.

Because I learned so much making the first test block, I decided to do a second one keeping one edge of the template on the straight of grain. I like the scrappy look and it was much easier to cut out.

What did I learn? There are some excellent reasons to make a test block, especially if the equipment or techniques are new to you.

Of course this leads to a new question – what do you do with test blocks? Let me know what you do with them and we will address that in another post!

Categories
Patterns and tutorials

Inset Circle Tutorial

The project I have been working on has seven inset circles. While I love the look, it can be overwhelming. The project is designed to teach curves and help quilters overcome their fear of curves and inset circles. After making all my circles and fitting them into the quilt, here is my approach to inset circles and all of the tips I can think of to take the fear out of circles.

TIP: Take your time. Making inset circles is not fast. You will get a bit faster as you get more comfortable with them, but it is not fast. Put on some non-distracting music, take a deep breath and take your time.

TIP: Use a lot of starch. I find that if the fabric is not starched enough, it distorts more when I sew the inset circle.

I start by heavily starching both the background and circle fabrics. For this tutorial, I will be making a 10 inch finished circle, set into a 10.5 inch block. Cut an 11 inch square of the circle fabric (off-white) and a 12 inch square of the background fabric (aqua).

I really like this EZ Circle Cut template. But you can use any half or quarter circle that is accurate. For a 10 inch diameter finished circle, you will cut a 9.5 inch circle out of the middle of the 12 inch square. On this template, you fold the fabric in half, put the fold on the fold line and cut at the 9 inch groove.

The circle fabric needs to be bigger than the cut out from the background. For a 10 inch diameter finished circle, a 10.5 inch diameter circle needs to be cut. On this ruler, you fold the fabric in half, put the fold on the fold line and cut at the 10 inch groove.

Once your background and circle are cut, fold each separately into equal quarters and press lightly with the iron to mark the quarters as you can see below.

Start by folding the background fabric so that the fabrics are right side together and the circle is laying flat. Pin the quarter marks of the background to the quarter marks of the circle.

Then pin around the circle to make sure that the fabric is equally distributed and is not pleated or kinked. Pin from the background side.

TIP: I find that fine or very fine pins work best.

Some people swear by glue basting instead of pinning, but it has never worked well for me.

I find that it works best if I sew with the circle side down. Bernie, my sewing machine, is set up so the needle stops in the down position, and with the stitch length at 2, slightly shorter than the usual 2.5 stitch length. I always check my bobbin and my tension before I start sewing a set-in circle.

Stitch slowly until you come to the first pin. Pull the pin, use your finger to check that the fabric is laying flat, and slowly stitch to the next pin. Repeat all the way around the circle.

Secure your stitch at the end by backstitching or taking a number of tiny stitches.

After sewing, clip the seam allowance no more than 1/2 of the way to the seam. I usually clip about every inch around the circle.

After clipping all the way around, finger press the seam allowance toward the background.

Then press lightly all the way around, making sure the seam allowance is toward the background.

Then I spray the circle with water and press heavily to remove the quarter lines and finish the block.

Once the block is pressed and cooled, remove from the ironing board and take to the cutting board.

Measure 10.5 inches square, leaving 1/4 inch seam allowance around each side of the circle, as shown above. Trim.

That’s it – you now have a 10.5 inch block with a 10 inch diameter inset circle. It will make a 10 inch finished block with a fully inset circle.

Categories
Patterns and tutorials

Double Mitered Borders Tutorial

A friend recently shared that one of her quilting goals for 2021 is to master the mitered borders. I have found that making multiple mitered borders is just as easy as a single border, so I thought I would share my process with you.

Step 1: Sew the inner border pieces to the outer border pieces using a scant ¼ inch seam. The top/bottom borders should be the width of the quilt + twice the width of the border +1 inch. For example, if the quilt is 50 inches wide, the inner border is 1 inch wide and the outer border is 4 inches wide the length of the top/bottom borders should be 60 inches: 50 + (2 x 1 inch) + (2 x 4 inches) + 1 inch = 50+2+8+1. The right/left side borders should be the length of the quilt + twice the width of the border + 1 inch.

Press the seam allowance of two strips toward the inner border (place on sides of quilt) and two strips towards the outer border (place on top and bottom of quilt).

Find the center of each border unit by folding it in half. Mark with a pin. For top/bottom borders, measure 1/2 the width of the quilt on either side of the center mark and pin. Then fold the end pin to the center pin to find the quarter mark and mark with pins. You should have five pins. For example, if your side is 25 inches the pins would be placed like this:

Step 2: Pin the quilt top and borders.

Find the center of each side, the top and bottom top and mark with a pin. Find the midway point between the center and end on either side and mark with a pin, as above. Align the center and quarters of the border with the centers of the top and pin at marks. Align end point of top with outer pins on border strip and pin. Pin rest of borders to top.

You should have border fabric left on either end of the quilt top.

IMPORTANT – Mark the quilt top on the wrong side with a dot 1/4 inch from each corner. Start sewing at one 1/4 inch mark and stop stitching at the mark ¼ inch before the end of the top. Backstitch at beginning and end of seam one or two stitches. Sew all four border pieces to top leaving ¼ inch unsewn on each strip at every corner.

Press seams toward the quilt top.

Step 3: Making the miter.

A B C

Lay the quilt on ironing board with the finished side down (A). Fold quilt diagonally as shown (B) so the back side of the quilt is showing (C). NOTE: the A1, A2, B1 and B marks on the illustration are for reference only, you do not need to add these marks to your quilt. Line up the borders from the two sides aligning the marks 1/4 inch from the edge of the quilt top (C).

Align the border strips. Mark the border at a 45 degree angle, as shown (C). Pin, matching creased lines and seams. Slowly machine baste from backstitching point to outer edge of quilt.

Press seam open and check accuracy with 45-degree rule. If it is accurate, sew over basting stitch , from backstitching point to outer edge of the quilt. Remember to backstitch one or two stitches at beginning and end of this seam because it will be the outer edge of the quilt. Remove basting stitch. Trim the seam allowance to approximate ¼ inch. Repeat this process for the other three corners.

That’s it – a double mitered border!

Categories
Uncategorized

Quilting Goals for 2021

As we are coming to the end of 2020 (a year we all want to end), I am thinking about my goals and plans for 2021. At this point in my quilting life, I have two kinds of quilting goals – personal goals and business goals. I try to limit myself to three of each. My first personal goal is to complete three 100-day quilting projects in 2020. I find having a project that only requires a few minutes a day, but that leads to a complete quilt top in 100 days is an awesome way to keep my momentum quilting. The act of sewing a few minutes a day has also become important in taking care of myself. I spend a few minutes doing something I want to do, no matter how crazy life gets. My second goal is to address my UFO list. I want to get it down to no more than 3 UFOs and up to 3 works in progress (WIPs). I actually cleared four projects off since the beginning of November, one by finishing, one by reworking, one by sending it to a long-arm quilter, and one by sending it to our service quilters to finish and donate. I am combining my first two goals by moving forward on my Irish Chain Quilt. This was listed as my Quilt-Your-Weight-Off quilt. When I thought about it, I realized that while I have lost (and maintained) 35 pounds, and I may lose more, I am not likely to get to the 121 pounds needed for the 11 by 11 blocks in the quilt design. I really love the traditional double Irish chain and the fabrics, and I have 45 blocks done, so I can do one or two blocks a day for 100 days and finish the top!

My third personal goal is to complete one of the cruise-inspired quilts. I have a design in mind. And I know I can break it down into a 100-day project. You will hear more about it later in 2021.

My business goals are easier in some ways because I know I need to stay flexible with them. If I have learned nothing else in 2020, I have learned that flexibility is an absolute necessity. My first goal is to post on this blog at least four times a month. I would love to say I will blog faithfully every week, but I know I may miss a time or two. I hope you will bear with me when I have busy weeks. I also hope to get more tutorials posted.

My second goal is to publish at least three quilt patterns. I have two already in mind and I think that planning on one more is reasonable. It doesn’t matter if I self-publish or if they are published elsewhere – I just want to get them from my head out into the world. One will certainly be the Singapore Sling pattern I submitted to EQ8. I have all of the fabrics, so this will be a priority.

My last goal is to work on one technique I need to improve to make some of the quilts I have in mind. There are a lot of skills I need work on – free motion machine quilting, foundation paper piecing, hand piecing, hand applique. I am leaning towards focusing on foundation paper piecing, but hand applique is also something I want to learn soon.

I have no doubt this will keep me plenty busy, along with my jobs and my family. I am definitely looking forward to what 2021 will bring.

Do you set quilting goals, or do you work on projects as they arise?

Categories
Uncategorized

Reflecting on Quilting in 2020

One year ago, none of us could have imagined the year that we have had. In January, my husband and I took a Caribbean cruise (that he won) and I took dozens of pictures to plan a quilt or two to commemorate the trip. Little did we know that would be our last trip for a long time.

While my day job has been busier than ever during the pandemic, I have been on full-time telework. Which means that the 5-7 hours a week I formerly spent commuting have been available for quilting. A year ago, my goal for 2020 was to plan and contract for at least one guild presentation (which I did), and to write up my Tree of Life wall hanging pattern (which I also did). I had not planned on getting Better Done Quilts launched as a business, or of getting this website up and running. I certainly didn’t plan on the EQ8 October Design Challenge win.

I started the year with a plan of taking one day a month for quilting. Not piecing, quilting. Whether done on my Bernina or renting time on the long arm at my local quilt store, I would spend the second Saturday each month finishing the tops I had sitting around. Appropriately, my first quilt finished for 2020 was a top I pieced in 2019, Everything Old is New is Old Again.

Everything Old is New is Old Again – Picnic Petals Pattern by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill 2020

I started piecing this in a workshop with Sheri from Whole Circle Studio at Mid-Appalachian Quilter’s Annual retreat. I loved the modern take on the traditional flowering snowball block. I chose old fashioned colors and prints to coordinate with another quilt I have, so I could use them in my guest room. The top was done, and I spent time in January quilting it. The quilting is simple, but I love the way it turned out.

My next two quilts of 2020 were baby quilts for family. I forgot to get a picture of the first quilt before I sent it, but the parents were kind enough to send this one. The quilt was on their doorstep when they brought the baby home. This one is particularly meaningful because the medium green fan print is from my mother-in-law’s fabric stash. I kept a box of her fabrics and I include some in special quilts for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The next baby quilt was the first quilt I designed using EQ8. Bunnies for Belinda is a fun, gender neutral quilt. The mother’s favorite colors as a child were lime green, orange and purple. I tried to design a quilt with these colors that did NOT look like a Halloween quilt. I think this quilt succeeded. The purple fabric is rabbits, which is fitting because we raised rabbits. It is also quilted with bunnies (quilting by Sesvold Designs).

The first weekend in March, which was the last weekend that I was not in quarantine or pandemic lockdown, I used the longarm to finish my daughter’s T-shirt quilt.

I started collecting T-shirts for all my kids when they were young. I planned to make them each a T-shirt quilt when they graduated from high school. None of them got them as graduation presents, but I am slowly working my way through the box of T-shirts. This one had clear ideas of what she did and did not want in a T-shirt quilt. She selected the batiks and helped me lay out this extra-extra long twin quilt. She also wanted a “fun” back, so it would look good no matter which side was up.

This quilt definitely has a “party in the back”. I ran short of the purple and teal batiks and finished up with similar fabrics from my stash.

I also finished “Mai Tais on the Lanai”. I won a pack of Island Home batiks designed by Natalie Barnes for Anthology Fabrics in September 2019. I designed the first of my “cocktail quilts” using the Drunkard’s Path block. I only used fabrics from the collection and the only fabric I purchased was for the border and binding. The back is pieced with the fabrics in the collection that were left over from the front. This has become my TV watching quilt.

Next I turned to my guild small group challenge. We decided in 2019 to make 2020 challenge quilts. They needed to be 20 inches square, use black, white and one color (no gray) and somehow include “20”. It could be 20 items, the number 20, etc. I am a nurse, and 2020 is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, as well as being the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale. I decided to honor Florence’s contributions to nursing with my quilted portrait of her.

I am really proud of this little quilt. It was a real stretch for my skills. It is raw-edge applique based on a photo and poster. The hardest part was replicating Florence Nightingale’s signature.

Next was “From Every Direction”, which was described in my last post.

Then I decided to write up the Tree of Life pattern, so I made the Triadic Tree with fabrics I had selected for it about a year ago.

This is the point where I started the blog, so you have already heard about my Mama Bear jacket and “Which Way?” quilts. I have a couple of other quilt tops I made this year in 100-day projects. I finished one other small quilt, but it is for the Modern Quilt Guild mini-quilt swap, so it is a mystery until we exchange quilts in 2021.

2020 was also the year of the masks. All together I have made nearly 100 masks, and continue to make them as they continue to be needed.

While this year has certainly been filled with the unexpected, it has not all been bad. I have finished some big projects and started a few more. My most important quilt accomplishment has been getting Better Done Quilts launched and publishing my first pattern. I hope you had a productive quilting year, and that you stay safe and healthy in 2021!

Categories
Uncategorized

Rejected?

Today I got notification about my QuiltCon entries. Last year, I submitted two quilts for two different shows. The one I thought would be accepted, AnteMeridiem, was rejected for QuiltCon2020.

Ante Meridiem – Original 2019

The one I entered as a lark, Tree of Life, got accepted for American Quilters Society Lancaster show. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cancelled that show, so while it was accepted, it was never shown.

Tree of Life – Original Design 2019

This year, I submitted four quilts to QuiltCon. Which Way? was my entry for the Modern Quilt Guild 2021 Fabric Challenge.

Which Way? Original Design 2020

I’m not in love with this quilt and I’m not at all upset that it was rejected. In fact, I would not accept it. The spacing is off. I had a great idea, but couldn’t execute it. This is what I did with the pieces left over. I have found that it is the perfect size for a lap quilt at my desk, so it is getting a lot of use.

My second entry was my Triadic Tree of Life.

Triadic Tree – Original Design 2020

While this is not screaming “modern”, I thought the colors brought it up. Again, I’m not upset it didn’t get selected. I didn’t think it really fit the esthetic of QuiltCon.

My third quilt was From Every Direction.

From Every Direction – Original 2020

This is my coronavirus quilt. I made it as part of a challenge from my local quilt store, Capital Quilts. They sent small amounts of fabric to people who accepted the challenge and we needed to make a quilt reflecting on coronavirus using the fabric. The twist was that each quilter got a different fabric. I was sent the orange and yellow print at the top and bottom of the back. I only used materials I had at home, with the exception of that print.

I am sad this one was not accepted. It may not be technically difficult, but it is striking visually and to me it has come to represent the chaos of information about COVID-19.

My fourth submission was AnteMeridiem again. I had heard from other quilters that a rejection to QuiltCon did not mean it was not a modern quilt or that it was not good, just that they did not want it for that show. So I tried again. I took new photos with better lighting. I included pictures of the back, corners and details, as requested.

Ante Meridiem 2019 back
Ante Meridiem 2019 corners
Ante Meridiem 2019 detail
Ante Meridiem 2019 detail

This quilt is very personally meaningful. Changes in the color of the sky from midnight until noon were the inspiration for this quilt. Each strip represents 15 minutes, and each quilting line represents five minutes. The time of nautical, astronomical and civil dawn and of sunrise varies with the time of year and the latitude. I researched the times based on the latitude of Madison, Wisconsin on June 18, 1981, which is where and when my husband and I began our romantic relationship.

Amazingly, this year, Ante Meridiem was accepted and will be displayed in QuiltCon 2021!

This is a huge step for me – it will be the first time I have a quilt displayed in a juried show. I am really excited, and humbled. I don’t think my work is “good enough” to be in a show. I see all the flaws, corners that don’t match and things I would do differently. I was sure the holes in the corner from the push pins I used to display this quilt would keep it from being considered. But I am glad that someone sees something interesting in my quilt. I am looking forward to QuiltCon Together in February. I will let you know how it goes.

Categories
Wednesday Wisdom

Deadlines Met and Missed

I am driven by deadlines. I have regular deadlines in my profession and I work hard to get everything submitted on time, or better yet, early. I have found that having a deadline for a quilting project helps me get it done. The projects without deadlines are the ones that turn into UFOs. This month I had multiple deadlines come together. I had a big project at work, papers to grade from my class, QuiltCon submissions due 11/30, my One Monthly Goal, and St. Nick’s gifts I was making for my (adult) kids.

I am used to juggling a lot of deadlines, but then I had one unexpected quilty deadline thrown in just before Thanksgiving. I can’t tell you more about it yet, but it meant pushing back my other quilting projects by 2-3 days. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, it was 2-3 days I planned on spending on other projects. I was committed to submitting to QuiltCon because I accepted the fabric packet for the Modern Quilt Guild Floral and Vine Fabric Challenge. By accepting the packet of these lovely fabrics, I agreed to submit a quilt. The rules were simple – I needed to use 3 of these 4 fabrics, could add any solid I wished and any size up to 440 inches in diameter.

Because this challenge involved a promise to someone else, I prioritized it over my One Monthly Goal, which is a promise to myself.

I cannot tell you how many times I tried to figure out what to do with these fabrics. I ordered coordinating solids and cut out a great Mariner’s Compass, then realized I cut the wrong pieces in the wrong colors. I was determined not to buy more fabric, so I redesigned the Compass with the fabrics I had. Then I tried to sew the Compass together, but I used templates that didn’t work well for me and it was not laying flat. So I cut it into pieces.

I tried to use the extra pieces I cut in improvisational blocks, but they didn’t work. I set it all aside and worked on a couple of other projects, and put time on my calendar to figure it out. I finally decided to work off of the compass idea and made some arrows and a kind of a road. Here is the final quilt, named “Which Way?”:

Which Way?

I can’t decide which way should be up on this one.

I spent the day after Thanksgiving on my St. Nick’s gifts, and the rest of the weekend on the Which Way? quilt. Which meant that my One Monthly Goal of finishing the quilting on this table runner didn’t happen.

I thought about working on the table runner, Monday after work, but I was very tired, and could not get the runner completed by midnight. So I decided to let it go. It is unusual for me to miss a deadline, but I am glad that I decided to take care of myself and get some rest. The table runner will get done (eventually) and I will be happy to use it next fall.

How are you with deadlines? Do they motivate you? Make you nervous? Or do you just avoid them?

Categories
Tools and Tips

Where Do You Iron?

Since 1992, I have used my mother’s ironing board.

She bought it about 50 years ago and it was the Cadillac of ironing boards. It is heavy-duty and heavy. It was corded with an outlet on the board, and has a springy guide to hold the iron cord away from fabric. Over the years, the cord got cut off. I always tuck the springy guide under the board because it drives me crazy. Mostly, I get frustrated because it is not wide enough and the angled end means my fabric never seems to get fully ironed.

After a lot of research, I decided that I wanted an ironing station with storage. I looked at all of the Pinterest ironing stations and I even considered buying the Singer Ironing and Crafting Station, but at $350, I thought I could figure out something that was less expensive. I bought a 15-drawer rainbow drawer organizer, a 3/4 inch sheet of plywood that is 2 foot by 4 foot, Insulbrite, 100% cotton quilt batting, and silver ironing board cloth. All together I spent less than $120 (not counting what my husband spent for a new hammer stapler).

I brought it all home and left it in the living room, because work got crazy and I didn’t have time to put it together. Enter my husband, the hero! He put together the drawer unit, rounded and sanded the edges of the plywood so the corners would not wear through the fabric, and created these cool latches that hold the board onto the drawers, but can be easily turned to remove the board for storage (as if I will ever put my new ironing station away).

This weekend, we decided to work together to get the board upholstered. I started with a layer of Insulbrite to protect the board and reflect heat back up to the fabric. Then we put on 2 layers of 100% cotton batting.

My husband was using a hammer stapler to staple everything down. He didn’t want to catch my fingers, so on the corners, we used tape to hold the miter in place until he stapled it.

Finally, we stretched the fancy silver ironing board fabric on top.

Doesn’t it look great!

It is about 1 inch higher than a normal ironing board, but I am on the tall side, so I don’t mind. And it is 24 x 48 inches so I can iron the full width of a cut of fabric. I can get a sharp press on it. And check out all that lovely fabric storage. Fifteen color-coded drawers. I have already started moving my scraps from shoe boxes randomly placed around my room into this neat stand. There is even room for my power bar between the cart top and the board!

I am SO grateful that my husband put everything together and made my new ironing station happen. Happy ironing and pressing!