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Monday, April 27, 2015

Free-motion quilting requires practice, practice, practice

chquilts: pink flamingos

With my husband's illness--he had a stroke in January--both of us have had some re-adjusting to do. He spends his time trying to get back to the way he used to be. I spend my time trying to keep things running along smoothly in our lives. Both are challenging. I find myself doing things I never did before, and some of them are admittedly, not to my liking. But, I temper that with stealing away moments here and there to head back to my sewing machine. 

I have long recognize the 'all work and no play,...' scenario. Quilting is my play. 

I find myself squirreling away a few spare moments when I can just to get some work done on my latest project; the above pink flamingo quilt, which I modified a little from the butterfly quilt-along designed by Leah Day. I committed to it ages ago, but only just recently started working on it. 

As John gets more independent, and he is doing more things on his own these days, I'm slowly getting back to having a little more time for quilting. I'm taking it too, even if it means letting the dirty dishes sit for a little longer or starting supper a little later.

I need the time because a little stitch here and a little stitch there just doesn't cut it. One thing I have noticed is that without dedicating some good practice time, quality may suffer. Free-motion quilting isn't like riding a bike. It is not a once you learn it you know it proposition. Free-motion quilting requires practice, and lots of it. 

I can't wait to comply with my own edict--to spend more time quilting. After all, it is fun to quilt. 

Truthfully, I can't wait to see this one completed. A finished quilt is the best thing ever. And by finished I don't mean simply done and bound. I mean thrown into the washing machine where the big moment of truth occurs. Will the colors run; will the stitches hold? 

Even when a few seams need to be re-sewn after washing, it is worth it because the texture of the quilt gets what I call "quilty." The fabric shrinks ever so slightly, puffing up around the stitches. The result is like magic. I can't wait to see this quilt finished. But until that time, I'm going to keep squirreling away time to work on it. I've said it before and it bears repeating--I love every aspect of the process of quiltmaking. From the decisions on colors, patterns, down to the precision cutting, sewing, and finally the quilting, it is all great fun and great therapy. 

So far, so good. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring cleaning -- a plus for sewing nook

Now that it is springtime, I am always troubled about the many things I want to do. I have an instinctive urge to clean everything around me, but my aging self no longer has the ability or stamina to rip into things the way I once could. So, I must prioritize. Often times, it is the little things that matter. That was the case last week when I sat down to work on my pink flamingo quilt.

I was simply running out of room.

Small spaces are a double-edged sword. It is nice to have everything so convenient and within reach, but it is also easy to become too cluttered to work.

A few days later, while cleaning out the laundry room, which is adjacent to my sewing nook, I came across a perfect innovation that solved two problems at once.

My laundry room project not only meant finally putting away those old sheets I used to protect plants from the cold weather, and tossing a few stray socks whose match has long ago gone missing, when I realized I had two ironing boards taking up valuable real estate. Both are in good condition.

One will go into the garage sale space. In the back of my mind, I remembered my need for more space for pressing. I wondered if I could store the ironing board beneath the counter in my sewing nook. I no longer have the room for sewing, cutting, and pressing since I installed a new acrylic sewing extension table, seen above. What if I put the ironing board under the counter where I sew? I wondered if it would fit?

Not only does it fit nicely beneath the counter, but it can be stored completely out of the way. This is the perfect solution. Wasted space is now useful. These are the kinds of things that make me very happy. I love being efficient. My chair fits beneath the ironing board, at its lowest setting. When I pull it out to use it, it is like pressing on my lap. Perfect! In fact, I used it to fold and press the binding strips for my pink flamingo blocks. The long narrow board is just right for pressing strips.

What a great little innovation.

In the meantime, I couldn't help but steal away a few hours to work on my pink flamingo quilt. I know this project will take some time, but I'm willing to take it slow. Below is the progress I've made so far.
I think I'm going to like it!