Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Quilting Statue of Liberty

I would like to go to a quilt show. Yes, I have been to Houston. But I would like to go to a quilt show where the quilts are made and used by human beings. I really do not want to ruffle any feathers here or give anyone the impression that I don't genuinely appreciate the talent, work, time, money, etc. etc. etc. that goes into making a 'best of show' quilt; but I really am a lot more grounded than that. I have seen some of these best of show quilts, and quite frankly; I have mixed emotions about the whole deal. On one hand, if there should be art, this is the kind of art that not only holds my attention, but is something that is beyond words in beauty. In other words, quilts are my favorite kind of art to appreciate. No question. On the other hand, the hand that bleeds from hand quilting, hand piecing, and building shelves to hold fabric; I have to say:


I want and need to see a traditional quilt win something. It has to have under 1 billion stitches per square inch. It has to have two, maybe three, colors to it. It cannot have any applique anywhere on it or it is disqualified for being "showy'. It has to be made by someone who actually has grandchildren ( grandchildren who have one of her quilts and drags it around where ever they go), it has to have a 'humble block', it cannot be perfectly square, it has to have a mistake in it somewhere and that mistake has to be notated on the information card, it has to have a wave at the bottom when hung, and most importantly, it actually has to drape when displayed on a bed. If it is stiff as cardboard from the quilting and sizing, it needs to be omitted from the show completely. this quilt needs to have pictures submitted with the application showing it actually being used as a quilt being slept under. That is what I want to see. If I had any grandchildren, I am sure that I would have one quilt (or two) in that show for other human quilters to appreciate.

So fellow quilters, I say this: Show me your worn, your seam-ripped, your faded, show the huddled masses yearning to breathe free! I lift my rotary cutter in salute to you!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Winning Battle in the War of UFOs (part 3)

Hello everyone. I am sorry that I kept a few of you hanging on this post. I have honestly been quite busy doing all of the normal things that you are supposed to do to keep a house in order. Well, at least I gave it some thought and a little effort. So without going into that and boring the crap out of you all; instead, I will give my last day of information to you all about UFOs.

This next picture is just another example of the calendar, except it is a view of your week.

This is what I don't have to do the same thing, but it makes me realize my goals if I know where I am in the week. Before beginning my week on my one project, I write a goal on the last day of the week. If you do this, make sure it is a realistic goal, or you will just set yourself up for failure, giving you no sense of accomplishment.

If you never use a calendar, that is OK. Like I said earlier, I don't really use one anymore now that I have the system down. But one thing that is VERY important is the 5-subject notebook. I use it as a kind of journal and note keeper on the 4 projects. Each section is dedicated to one project. As I am working on a project, I will add an entry about what I was able to finish. This comes in handy when I pull the project out the next month. I can see that I left off needing to make 52 more churn dash blocks, for example. Before I started doing my projects this way, I would waste so much time trying to figure out what size I had to cut each piece, how much fabric I would need, what finished measurements I would have, what fabric options I would use, what quilting design I was going to put where...the list is long and tedious. I wasted so much time; in fact, that I would only finish a few things on that project and 'put it away' not bothering to write any of that information down. OH MY GOODNESS! This seems like a no-brainer, but it saves so much time. I love pulling a project down now. It is so nice to have all of that info right there for you to just jump in to start quilting.

The pocket dividers are a nice addition to the notebook if you are able to find one that way. I tend to throw magazine patterns, idea clippings, swatches, pictures, post-its or whatever in there.

When I finish a project, I pull out all of the pages, notes, pictures, etc. and I put them in my scrapbook. I then use that empty section of the notebook for the next project replacing it. (you will be able to go through quite a few projects in each section before having to buy a new notebook. The 5th section, I use for my cheater project notes, but I am sure there may be a lot of other uses for it.

That's it. That's all I have. It doesn't seem that hard, does it? It is all just a matter of disciplining yourself a little bit. You don't have to get too anal-retentive here, but just tiny bits of organization helps a whole lot. Good luck with your projects. Please do not hesitate to give me updates and please tell me what worked for you better. Any tips and hints that I can get will help me get rid of the aliens in my closet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Winning Battle in the War of UFOs (part 2)

O.K. Just so you all know, I am only using the calendar as a way to explain how this works. After doing your projects like this for a few months, you will not need to use a calendar because, well, you will just get it. The picture above is just an example of how your month will go.

  1. The first week you will work on your 2nd most important project that needs to get done.

  2. The second week you will work on your 1st most important project that needs to get done. (I know you are saying "Huh?" but just wait...)

  3. The 3rd week you will work on your 3rd most important project of the 4.

  4. The 4th week you will work on your 4th most important project.

Each week you will work on one quilt. Your week starts on Monday and finishes on Sunday. Sunday is the day that you will pack your project back up into its box or bag and put it away until the next month. If a month has 5 Mondays, then in this system, it has 5 weeks, in which case you would work on the 1st most important project again on that 5th week. Then next month on the first Monday you will start again with the 2nd most important project. Now you see why I do the 2nd on the first week...I needed to have a 'break' between me working on my 1st priority.

Now, lets say that you are piecing blocks by machine on one of your projects one week and your machine breaks, or you run out of fabric and have to order actually have a 'cheater project' or 5th project that you can work on but you should not work on any of the other 3 projects. I work on my 'cheater project' when my hands get sore from hand quilting or when I am creatively blank or if I just plain don't want to work on that weeks project for a day or so.

Let me give you reasons why this system works for me (and hopefully you, too)

  1. I force myself to only work on one project during the simply put: If you wanna quilt, Monica, quilt forces me to get over whatever road block that caused me to stick the thing in my closet in the first place.

  2. By working on a project for a week, and being 'forced' to put it away on are going to find yourself actually wanting to work on it again the next month. In other words, you are not working on these projects long enough to get sick of them.

  3. I never feel guilty about starting a new project long as it is used as my 'cheater project'

  4. By only focusing on 4 projects, I find that I am more aware of what supplies I need to get them done. I try to only spend money on fabric, etc. for these 4 projects. I don't even worry that I have 35 (or much more) UFOs that need to get done...just these 4.

  5. After completing a project, I will finish out the week doing the 'cheater project' then I get to re-evaluate which quilts are most important and add another UFO from my pile to replace the one that I finished.

  6. If you find that you are not getting one of you projects done or are not looking forward to it after a few months of this system; it is a very good indication that you don't want it done bad enough and you should find another person to give it to. ( IS a way to get it out of your closet you know)

  7. By putting my entire project away at the end of every week, I don't have it in the way of my other projects or stressing me out; plus, when I take that project out again, everything is there. No hunting everywhere for the fabric, stencils, etc.

I will give final information tomorrow. Don't worry...tomorrow's instructions won't make your head hurt. Big huge smile.

My 4 Projects

O.K. everyone out there in quiltland. I don't have a lot of time to post right now, so I will make this one quick and do part 2 tonight when I have a little more time and the sweet sound of silence. I just wanted to share a picture of how I store my 4 projects...I hang them on the wall on coat hooks that I screwed into a stud behind the drywall so that they are strong enough to hold the weight. I can put my projects away so much easier, then bring them out knowing that the whole project is right there in the bag. See y'all tonight!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Winning Battle in the War of UFOs. (Part 1)

How many of you want to get rid of UFOs? How many of you have a closet that looks anything like the one in the picture above? I collect projects like Michael Phelps collects medals. But I have a system that works. You can get tons of them done in the next 6 months. All you have to do is send 3 equal payments of $29.95 to...KIDDING. Man, I actually heard purses being ripped open. OK, all seriousness aside...I really do have a system that works. In the next few days I am going to go over the details of how it works and what to do if you want to try it out. It is not for everyone. I repeat. It is not for everyone. If you are one of those quilters that needs to work on 20 different quilts in one day because you get bored with 10 minutes on one; this is not for you; however, it could be modified for you. If you find that you are woman enough to step up to the line to give it a try; well, come on with your bad self. I challenge you. To give you a teaser: You work on 4 quilts at a time. You will save so much money. Your friends will like you better.

I am going to start day one of the instructions today:

  1. You will need 1 calendar dedicated to this project. This does not have to be fancy, but don't make it too tiny. The best ones are the ones that have a month view and a week view so that you can take notes. If you like cheap...Your computer has one.

  2. you will need a 5 subject notebook, or 5 single subject notebooks will work, it is just a lot nicer to have it all in one book. Mine has pockets in the divider pages which really comes in handy.

  3. To really play by the rules. You will have to clean your sewing room/space up. (as good as humanly possible) Mine was so bad before I started this system that when a tornado hit it; everything ended back up in the right place. But don't be waitin' for a high wind, girls. Just focus on one area at a time and it will come together.

  4. You will need 4 big bags or boxes to keep 4 of the projects in. To give you an idea of know those cardboard file boxes for IRS documents? bigger than that.

I realize that I have already lost a lot of you with number 3. But just hear me out on this...there is a reason for everything.

So your first assignment is NOT to list every stinking UFO that you have, but to simply choose 4 of the quilts that need to be done first. Prioritize! (One little hint: If you are a hand quilter, make sure that you have only one of these in hand-quilting stage) Do you have those 4? Once you do, none of the other UFOs should exist in your mind. Sure, they are still all huddled together in the back of your closet crying because you didn't choose them, but their day will come. For now they don't exist. Isn't that cool? Your mind will only focus on 4. Zero stress. I can already feel your planets aligning.

That's not all! Tomorrow I will give you the next set of instructions for the "System that Works"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Did I Mention that Yellow is My Favorite Color?

Y'all need to go over to Pigtails and Snails to try to win a quilt. Yes, a quilt. I know that there a lot of generous people out there that make quilts and just give them away....wait, I guess that is what I do. But for some reason I have the ssssslllllllooooooowwwww gene. If I can spit out a quilt or two in a decade, I am doing good. I think that I need to be a little more accepting to machine quilting though. My quilts become my babies. By the time I finish them, I don't feel very good about giving them away, even if they were started with someone in mind. It is really hard for me to let go; that is until I see the reaction on the face of the person receiving my quilt. I guess it is a lot like giving a child up for adoption. So...if I should ever be so lucky to win a quilt, or receive a quilt as a gift, I would be one of those great 'open-adoption quilt parents' that would allow the maker to visit the quilt whenever they would like to see it again. I can't wait to give a quilt away on my blog. Start watching for it in 2015...It will be worth the wait, I promise!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Molly Keeps Me on Pins and Needles

I was reading a blog post today at Molly's Place and she is making up all of these cute pincushions (which; by the way, you cannot have too many of.) It made me think of sharing this thing that I do with some of my hand-type projects. I load up on pencil boxes every year from back-to-school sales when you can get them for 50 cents a piece. Then, I put a block that I am working on in each one making sure that I have everything that I need in it. I put thread on bobbins so that I don't have to carry around whole spools. I put a pair of scissors in each one that I am working on (sometimes 6 at a time!). A mechanical pencil, needles and pins. Since pincushions are usually so big, I make up the soda-pop bottle cap ones like you see above. It is big enough to hold the pins and needles that I need and small enough that it fits in the box. My plan is to put a Velcro tab on the inside of the box, and the bottom of the pincushion so that it stays put when I am working on my blocks. These boxes are great for crazy quilting (all quilting is), applique', Dear Jane blocks, or embroidery. I keep one of these boxes in my car for those times when I am waiting in line at the bank, or when Connor falls asleep in his car seat and I don't dare wake him up or move him, or when I go to Dr.'s offices, restaurants, etc. where I am forced to wait. I keep one at home just sitting out so that I can grab it when I get a 5 minute break. Anyway...that is my little idea. And if you want to make those pincushions...go to Molly's blog and check hers out because they are a thousand times more beautiful than mine! She already has me running around my house rounding up every cap I can find so that I can give mine a face lift. Gotta keep up with the Jones' you know.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Patience is a Virtue...But so is Hope, Right?

My husband left this morning to watch the Texas-Oklahoma game at a friends house. It is an early game. I was invited also, but I thought that it would be nice to get a blog in and do some uninterrupted sewing. He even brought Connor with him; bless his heart. Connor was very cooperative so far today. He ate his eggs and toast without tornado strength destruction, he sat very still so that I could comb his hair (so still, in fact, that I did not have to use mom spit to do the job), he didn't insist on picking his own clothes and dressing himself, and he pooped his pants right before walking out the door. Take that daddy. O.K., O.K., I didn't let him go like that. I did clean him up for my husband. We are trying (without success) to potty-train Connor. It is horrible. I have put the training underwear on him because people tell me that they don't like the way wet clothes feel on their skin. Not only is Connor completely fine with the sensation, but it puts a smile on his face to complete it with the 'I've got a potato in the back of my pants' look. Most likely he is just practicing defiance to prepare for the teenage years. I really hope he is using the big boy potty by that time.
He is only two, so I am not discouraged, just impatient. Also, the very last thing that moms in my situation want to hear is other moms bragging about how they trained their children in two days, and telling me what I am doing 'wrong'. Look, you got lucky. It has nothing to do with your super human mom qualities. I am the oldest of 7 children. None of us were the same. If a child decides to bestow the gift of pooping in the potty to his parents, it was completely their own decision to do so. No smoke and mirrors, no rain dances, no voo-doo wiccan potions, no prayers to St. Jude will help...(believe me on this one). He will just figure it out eventually; as long as I am consistent and persistent, and loving and encouraging. The only things that keep me going on this is the knowledge that he will have to train his kids someday, and quilting.
I have talked to so many quilters that have said that they just couldn't do any quilting during the child-rearing years. How could you not? I would go absolutely and verifiably insane if I could not make a stinking nine patch every now and then. Here's an idea: I could start a quilt with a embroidered toilet on it and a border that says: Congratulations, Connor! You are a big boy now! You went pee pee in the potty!...If I start it now I can give it to his wife as a wedding gift, too. I am sure she will understand why.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Before and After

I can finally post pictures of Kath's quilt top. She has been so wonderful and patient while I babysat it for her. This first picture is the 'before' picture; that is, before I started sewing the outer border that you see. This is an image from my EQ6.

Here is what the quilt top looks like now that I got it sewn together and mailed off to Kathleen.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

If I Were 'Desserted' on an Island...

I needed to clean just a little before posting this picture of my island in my kitchen. I find it just amazingly funny that almost every person who walks into this kitchen says: "Wow! I wish I had an island this big, I would spend so much time in the kitchen cooking!" Grass is always greener, I tell you. When I first saw this island I thought "Now THAT is a Texas-sized area to cut fabric!" (with enough extra room on the side for a chocolate dish and coffee cup.) It really bothers me that I am forced to defile that area every evening with food and kitchen-type stuff. Now, just so you know, I am not a bad cook; but Oreos need some love too...and you can't make those in this room. As soon as I get the dishes done, the Olfa mat and cookies are going down.

Quick, Cheap, and Easy...Just the Way I Like 'Em

My son gives me the hours of 9pm to 2am to work on quilting; and that is being generous. Well after the hours of potty training, booger-picking, and going into wild happy or hostile hysterics, I have visitation rights with my sewing machine. Works for me, but my husband tends to miss me every once and awhile. In fact by the time that I go to bed some mornings, he awakes from a groggy stupor and mistakenly believes that I am a burglar where I end up in a head-lock begging for my life. No, not really...but I am ready for such an occasion. In order for me to be able to get to that appointment with my sewing room, I have to make sure that the hours up to bedtime go very smoothly. This means not making rack of lamb for dinner. I have decided to share quilting-friendly recipes on occasion so that you beautiful and well-deserving ladies (or men) can get a UFO done and not starve your family in the process. The ones I provide will not have too many steps, too many ingredients, or cost too much money. Here is one of my newer ones:

Baked Pork Chops and Rice
  • 1 C. regular rice, uncooked
  • 1 pkg. onion soup mix
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can of mushrooms (do not drain)
  • 1 soup can of milk
  • 4 -6 pork chops

Combine first five ingredients in a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Brown pork chops in a fry pan. Put the browned pork chops in the casserole dish with the rice mixture, being sure to coat the chops. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for about an hour at 350 degrees, stirring every once in a while.

O.K. there you go. Now you can quilt tonight.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ten-Four Good Buddy...

Well, I am back. It is my birthday today. I have already had 3 people ask me if I feel any older. But I really don't. Yesterday morning I felt 10 years older than I do today and let me tell you why...I got out of bed, made coffee, and right before my husband walks out the door, he says "Hey, we have ants in our bedroom closet crawling all over my dirty clothes; well, gotta go. Bye." What the Hell!? Don't just leave me here in my pajamas with nothing but a spray can to defend myself from what I find out later as being mom-eating fire ants. Lets not forget a 2-year old in tow that wants to play with the new little friends that he has found surrounded by a toxic poison that will make you forget your own name. I don't know how I made it past morning without running out of my house screaming in tongues. First, I had to make my son take a shower with me so that he wouldn't run into the closet and roll around in the mess like a dog that just found a dead fish. Then, I had the crawlies so bad after doing my husbands laundry that I just had to leave the house. I took Connor to a playground close to our neighborhood thinking that that would be relaxing. I even grabbed an applique' block that I was working on, thinking that I would have this blissful moment of happy stitching, watching my wonderful child sliding and swinging, listening to the beautiful birds chirping and the lulfull, cool breeze whispering through the live oak tree branches shading the play yard below. Well, after another mommy's spawn of the devil shoved my son in the face and pushed him down off of a elevated landing, causing him to have bleeding extremities, I just knew that my day was only getting worse. I provided the pain-easing kisses to scraped knees and without spitting on the bad kid, asked him where his 'irresponsible' parent was. The little brat told me to shut my face. O.K. lets just say that child protective services didn't have to show up, and I did not end up in jail...but jail might have been worth it. As soon as I got Connor cleaned up, my period showed up, at the playground, ruining my clothing and my hopes of maybe being pregnant. Connor was quite pissed off at the fact that we were leaving very abruptly, but I promised him that I would bring him back right away. Ran home. Changed. Decided that I deserved to stop by Starbucks on the way back to the playground. The coffee was perfect (which made me really wonder) until I got out to my car and a police officer was pointing out my 2 month expired registration sticker. (my wonderful loving husband always renews them right away and waits until I get a ticket before finally sticking the actual valid sticker on the vehicle) I did not get a ticket. Thank God. The rest of my day went very similar to the first half in entertainment value, but maybe I will save all of that for another post! Just so you all leave me with a sense of happiness, today has been wonderful! My glass is actually half-full. My toilet bowl is half-full...actually it overfloweth...gotta go.