Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown

In my previous post, I mentioned my son helped me with organizing my sewing room. Background: previous sewing room was upstairs; waaay too small. Everything got packed up and moved downstairs. Now, I am attempting to unpack and organize. After feeling overwhelmed by all the boxes and tubs, I decided this week to separate the boxes of fabric & put them in one area of the room. The other boxes, full of "stuff"--most of which I hope to sell/donate. 

 As we sorted...I found THE PURPLE  TUB!

 I instructed my son...keep that one out!! "What is in it" he inquires. "Oh, something wonderful!" I lift the lid off the tub to reveal...20 years of small scraps!! He looked at the tub. He looked at me. It was apparent he was incredulous. "I can't believe you kept all this." There might have been a note of disgust in his voice, like he might be the child of a hoarder.  But I was not to be dissuaded! I ran my fingers eagerly through the multi-hued scraps. "Look at these! There is enough scraps here to make 2 or 3 string quilts."  "Really?" Now he appears skeptical.  "Yes! Yes! " I tell him. "Don't you believe me? How about I make you a string quilt from these scraps?" 

So, the gauntlet has been thrown.  I have been challenged to make a string quilt for Jon solely from the scraps in my Purple Bin. 

Challenge accepted. 

Quilters Diet*

Karen, at Journey of a Quilter  posted about a month ago about the "Quilter's Diet."  However,  I just recently read it. I found it so inspiring and such a positive way at looking at Stash Reduction I asked if I could write about. The hyper-link takes you to her post, but I wanted to hit on the parts I felt applied to me. 
1)  30 Day Expiration:  I have frequently approached fabric diets with the "starvation" technique.  That is, I tell myself  I can't buy any more fabric until I make a sizable dent in my current stash. Well, the same thing happens with fabric as  when you try to do this with food:  I end up feeling deprived and rebel.  I am also an impulse shopper...and fabric has a siren's song like no other!!  So, if I tell myself: "Okay, you may have this fabric,  BUT you have to wait 30 days before buying it, " I think that will slow down my purchases. Like a weasel after shiny items,  I tend to want the pretty thing in front of me. If I am still thinking about the fabric after 30 days, then it must be something I really like and not just an impulse. 
2) Keep the pantry organized:  Karen notes that " Knowing what you have in stock is very important, so keeping the pantry organized is a must and it is a good aid for trimming the fat.  Frequent visits, to the pantry, is a great reminder of what supplies I have on hand and projects waiting to be finished. " Right now, my fabric pantry is not organized and I don't remember what I have stored. But, I am on my way. Folding my fabric like a file and then filing it by color lets me know what larger pieces I have. My fat quarters are already stored by color. Every new, unorganized plastic tub I open has been like winning a door prize! "OH, I forgot I had that!! What cool fabric!!" It feels like shopping in my own private quilt shop. Of course, some of the fabric is 20 years old...but you know what...sometimes that 20 year old fabric is just the right shade for that border, etc.
3)  Rainy Day Cupboard: This is a cupboard where Karen keeps her "kits" of projects she has bought and is ready to start. I have a similar system and I like it.  I have put fabric, pattern, etc together and then "filed" them in plastic bins. I will talk more about that in a future post. My sister, Karen, at  Hazel Dell Quilts turned me onto some of my techniques. 
4) Gift of the Year: I really like this idea. She has one "big" project that she works on throughout the year (which may take more than a year) while she is working on smaller projects. I'm not one of those people who can work on 1 project at a time. The few big projects I have started have not been finished because I feel like I have to dedicate my life to it...rather than look at it as a gift for myself and working on it on an intermittent basis.
5) Taa-Daa List: I LOVE this part. Karen does away with the "To Do" list (who ever likes one of those?) and changes it to 
a "Taa-Daa" list!! What a happy idea!!

I hope  you feel as energized by Karen's outlook on her
Fabric Diet as I do!

I started this weekend by working on my cluttered sewing   room downstairs. I "de-stashed" most of my yarn. Because of  arthritis in both my thumbs, I can't knit or crochet anymore. I do have a tabletop loom, so I saved my favorite wool & cotton yarn for weaving projects. I am giving away/selling over 100 skeins of yarn, I am embarrassed to confess! But, I am starting to feel lighter already!!

Happy Stitching to you!!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let The Sun Shine In!

"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul." Luther Burbank
Yesterday was actually One Flower WednesdayI finished my hexagon flower...but not until 11:58 P.M.  Wednesday night!! So, I'm showing it today!! I think she likes hanging out with my peonies. She looks quite stunning compared to the peonies after our recent hail storm! 
Here is a close up of her: 

I know you have all been sooo curious about  my super secret project. What? You all have lives OUTSIDE of my blog?  Okay, maybe you haven't been THAT curious. But, I will give you a peek...keep in mind. It's half done. 

It appears to be a mild mannered wall hanging? Place-mat? Another mug rug? Nope. Nope. And Nope. Keep reading! You will be surprised!

 Until then, keep sunshine in your spirit and maybe get a little crazy and add some yellow to a quilt!! 

Still in pieces,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Turtle Brain

Maybe it's the rain...but my brain has not been in blogging shape. So, this will be short and sweet.

Progress continues on my super secret fabric making project. I hope to finish in the next day or so and share it with you.

My poor sewing space continues to be  cluttered to the point of being unusable.  I need to follow my own advice and have my friend Sadie help me tackle it bit by bit...but every time I start, I become so overwhelmed.  Any suggestions? 

Achin' to be pieceful,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Chicken Mug Rug

I am so excited! Procrastinator that I am--I have actually started AND finished something! Ever since last winter when I started seeing mug rugs on blogs,  I have wanted to make one. Perfectionist that I am...it couldn't be just like someone else's. Which means it took months of looking at others creations before I felt confident enough to plunge in and try one.  After I discovered that cutting a large string block into 4th only resulted in a smaller string block (and not a mysterious "Disappearing String Block" as I had hoped), I decided to make a small string quilt...then the light bulb moment happened! That's it! I didn't recall seeing this type of mug rug...I would make one with tiny string blocks!

My creation  The Spring Chicken Mug Rug


Here is a close up of the stitching. I used one of the fancy stitches from my sewing machine. Notice the  binding? Oh right...it has no binding! I quilted close to the edge...then used my wavy edge rotary cutter around the edge; kind of like using pinking shears. I like the look.

I used left over scraps for the backing. I feel so resourceful. BUT WAIT! I didn't stop there! 

I then used the left over smaller scraps and "made fabric" for a project for  Bumble Beans.  But sshhh...it''s a secret what it is going to become.  I'm excited about it because it's a quick and easy way to make something I have been wanting to make...and I figured it out myself! 

It has been a rainy cloudy day here in Nebraska today. Some in this family have chosen to spend it napping. 

Me? I think I will have a nice cup of Earl Grey tea and some apple slices (Grapple, my favorite!) and then work on my secret project! 

Happy Stitching!
Deb, the Busy Turtle

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Spring Strings


Spring has returned to Nebraska! After a brief period of cold weather...the sun has returned! 

Ahh...Dandelions & violets...a sure sign of spring! 

During the gloomy weather,  I  played with springy fabric and made string blocks. I used Karen's method over at  Hazel Dell Quits.

 Then, after making this. I thought, what would happen if I cut the blocks in fourths--ala "disappearing 9 patch."? Guess what? You just end up with smaller string blocks!!  But, that did make me decide to start a mug rug.  So I continued making large string blocks and cutting them into smaller blocks. 

Now, how to finish it off? Any suggestions? Ideas? 

And finally, I have  been doing some English paper piecing. I started piecing these blocks several years ago and have decided to try to finish one block a week. If I finish more than that, great...if not...at least I will eventually have a quilt top!! This is the block I finished this week. 
The center block has a cricket playing pool. The surrounding blocks are an audience of  red  chickens watching him!

Over the last week, I have gotten some sewing done, and believe or not...some work in my sewing room. But--I am going to keep you in suspense about what. I took some "before" pictures. I hope I am brave enough to show them. But, I have almost completed one small corner of my room. Unfortunately, not a section where I would actually be sew, so my machine is still set up on the kitchen table!
Happy Quilting to all my friends!
The Cluttered Quilter, Who Continues to be Busy As A Turtle

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Virtual Decluttering

Howdy Hi!
I decided to try out a new blog template which is less cluttered looking. Plus, I am a sucker for dandelions, in both the yellow and puff ball forms!! I hope you like it!

I don't have pictures today...my camera told me it's batteries are "exhausted"...and so I am charging them up. However, I did work in my horribly cluttered sewing room  today. I took a "before" picture of  the corner. It was impassable. I have moved the suitcases, which were blocking the area, to the shed. Put the various piles of fabric, magazines, etc in their respective homes. Some knitting magazines I am going to sell at our garage sale. With my thumb arthritis, it is not realistic that I will ever do much knitting again. But I am hopeful, that I might be able to do some  in the future after I have eventually had surgery. Has anyone had thumb surgery for arthritis? Were they able to knit/crochet again? I am curious...

Tomorrow...more decluttering in the cool basement sewing area. (Nebraska is having a spring heat wave. It was 97 today and tomorrow is supposed to be about the same). And, I hope to have time to play with some scrap fabric.

More later!


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Projects: New and Old

Aahhh...spring weather has addled my brain. I don't want to declutter! I want to sew!! "BUT" she rationalizes,  "sewing is USING my stash, so it is a form of decluttering!!"  Okay then--onward to the machine!! 

I began by straightening up the kitchen table (which has become my temporary cutting table). After cutting squares for Thomas at Thomas Knauers for his Scrap Vomit Quilt and then cutting strips 2.5 inch strips for my Random Rail Fence,---I put the rest of the strips in a container for making a string quilt. Those strings began to talk to me. "Play with me!" I have little resistance when fabric talks to me (hence the huge stash from it asking me to bring it home with me...). So I decided to try to make a string quilt block using Karen's directions from Hazel Dell Quilts. It was fun!!  

Then, I decided for some unknown reason...to put a border on it. Then,  one of the fabrics I was using (a Laurel Burch print) wanted me to make a liberated log cabin block featuring it in the middle. Next thing I knew, I had a mini quilt pinned and ready to machine quilt. I pinned it with my purple "ear plugs"-- Pinmoor substitutes!! My poor quilt looks like it has purple aliens pods bursting forth!! 

Oh no!! I had created MORE scraps with my string quilt block and liberated log cabin block. Okay...then how about trying to make crumb block/fabric?  Whew! That took more time than I thought. Next time I will use larger scraps!! 

While searching for batting in my sewing room, I came across some almost finished hand-towels I had started last fall at a retreat. They are SO simple to make. They are a kitchen hand towel and hot pad sewn together. All they needed was buttons sewn on.  Aren't the buttons cute? Can you believe I found them them at Walmart? I stacked two buttons together.  Ta-daa. Two UFO's done!!  I love making these hanging towels. They are so easy and useful. 

And finally, my mind has been on pin cushions lately.  I made one for my sister Karen. I used a ceramic turtle planter. She has a picture of it here.  Since then,  I have been buying inexpensive objects at thrift stores/estate sales to make into pin cushions. I hope to sell some. This one I made last night for myself.

 I bought the planter years ago at an antique shop and had used it for a pen/pencil holder on my desk at work...but now she has a new life!! And look, I made the the pincushion removable so that I can store my scissors, thread, and thimble inside.


  I have two more pin cushions in the works which I will share pictures when they are finished. 

What plans to you have for today? I hope to get my mini quilt machine quilted today...and then I can show it to you tomorrow!! And,  go out and enjoy some delicious Nebraska spring sunshine and work in my flower beds. I have one bed which is in desperate need of compost...which means muckin' in the dirt! No better way to feel connected to Mother Nature than to get rich soil under your nails!!

Happy Quilting!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Goodwill Quilt!

As promised, the rest of the story of my Goodwill Quilt

It was a bright and sunny day. I was wandering through  my local Goodwill Thrift store.

  That particular day, I spied this worn green and pink star quilt. I thought, "oh, they will have marked it way up" as is sometimes done with antique type items. But no! The price was $6.99.

$6.99!! I was incredulous! 
 I grabbed it. I didn't even completely unfold it. I just held it tightly to my breast and headed to the check out counter. I could hardly breath. I tried to appear calm, like it was an ordinary purchase, I knew it was an old quilt. Maybe 1930's or 1920's. I hastily paid for the quilt before someone would tell me it was mis-marked. I took it home and proudly showed it to my husband. Even HE was impressed with it when I told him of its possible value (like I am actually going to sell it!!).

I started searching the internet to get an idea of the age of this quilt. I had the quilt in my lap (loving it...stroking it) as I searched web sites for information.Patterns? Colors? Fabrics? The quilt is quilt faded. The star block--a common pattern. I was having no luck.

Then I found Barbara Brackman's site.  Her site describes "Clues in the Calico" for dating old/vintage quilts. At last some answers!

The first clue is the binding. It is narrow (3/8 inch) straight grain single layer binding which lays very flat. Indicative of a quilt of the 19th century. Actually, most are 1/4", but I figured an 1/8 of an inch is close...
Sorry, I didn't use natural lighting for this picture...so it looks yellow.  But, notice  narrow binding. 

The second clue was the fabric used for the backing. While it is the color of muslin, it is more coarse. It is called domestic cloth..  Again, a trait of a quilt made  in the 19th century. Generally, prior to 1880.

The third clue is the spacing of the quilting. Quilting less than 3/4 of an inch apart is indicative of a quilt made between 1840 and 1880. My quilt has stitching lines ranging from 1/4 of an inch inside the stars, to 1/2 inch in the outside border and a 3/4 inch grid for the background of the quilt.

A fourth clue is the way the backing/domestic cloth is sewn together. It may not be easy to see in this picture, but the two selvage edges are butted up to each other and then hand sewn together. It was not sewn like a seam. Another clue that is probably mid 19th century.

Again, no natural lighting. The thimble is sitting on the seam line. I hope you can see it. 

I was in such total shock. Is it possible I got a quilt that is 150 years old at Goodwill for $6.99?  I haven't gotten it professionally appraised yet, but that is one of my next steps for this quilt. How did this quilt come to be at a Goodwill in Omaha NE? Who made it? Had it been handed down? I wish the fabric could speak to me...I wish I was a "Quilt Whisperer" and could know about it's life.

Which is a lesson to us all...MAKE LABELS FOR ALL YOUR QUILTS!!

Have a glorious day! I hope to get some real decluttering done tomorrow...and I will tell you about my "other" filing system I use for my quilt "kits."

Til then....happy decluttering...and don't forget to throw in some quilting!!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

And On Sunday...

The Cluttered Quilter rested. 

Thimble, Queen of the Ottoman Empire, resting. 

I hope you all have a pieceful  day also!