Saturday, August 29, 2020

 Machine quilting and finishing some projects has carried me through the past couple weeks!  That is all good for sure!!  Last week, I finished my youngest grandson's "big bed" quilt -- major goal reached!! 

 I made this quilt during the #littlemisssawtoothquiltqal led by Melanie at @southerncharmquilts via Instagram.  I used a layer cake I had stashed with 1 1/2 yards of background fabric for the blocks.  I moved through this project pretty quickly, starting the blocks last September and finishing the quilting this week -- not even a year!?!

So this week, I've been working on a small charity quilt. Remember this "sashed 9-patch" block I shared with you in March?  (Here's the original post with my directions for piecing these scrappy little blocks -- it's at the end of that post.)

I pieced twelve of them and set them together with sashing to make a wheelchair laprobe and my charity quilting crew layered it at our July gathering (outside on the front porch, of course).

My current strategy is to alternate quilting one of my own pieces and then a quilt to donate.  The idea has worked well for me because the charity quilts are generally small and by keeping the quilting simple I've been moving through them quickly but this time, after ditch-stitching the sashing, I froze.

My quandary was how to keep the quilting simple while enhancing the piecing.  None of my straight line ideas were inspiring me to continue.  While I don't consciously assign design tasks to my subconscious, I'm glad it goes to work on my creative blocks anyway.   Between looking at the quilt everyday laying on the machine table and some Instagram scrolling, I was inspired to adapt a four-point star motif someone shared so it fit my blocks.  As I worked with chalk sketching the idea, I enhanced it with a pumpkin seed flower to fill up the central space of the block.  Thank you subconscious for the inspiration!!

Here is my chalk sketching of my idea.  I've understood that I'm a visual person for a long time and sketching on the real thing helps me make decisions more easily.  I use "chalk wheel" devices that lay a line of chalk which I can brush off if I don't like my lines.  My original idea was to bisect the center square with straight lines that connected to the inner V's of the star but when I couldn't figure out how to stitch that without back stitching previous lines or extras stop/starts, I experimented with the pumpkin seed flower which could be easily worked into the design with no back stitching and no extra stop/starts.  

So let me walk you through it!

I used minimal marking for each block -- these are the center lines to guide me from point to point.

I start at the upper left corner of the block, aligning my straight guide tool with the corner of the block and the first centering mark.
Once I reach the centering mark, I reposition my guide and stitch out to the lower left corner of the block.  The foot on my machine is a ruler foot designed for APQS machines to use with plexiglass guides.
I continue in that way until I reach this final centering line and am in position to begin the pumpkin seed flower which is a series of free motion arcs.  My goal for each line is to reach the center X in a smooth arc.
Here I am with just two more arcs to stitch and I'll be back at the starting point of the flower at which point I'll use the guide ruler to return to the corner where I started.  One continuous line!!
Finished!!  In about four minutes (which includes marking and tying off the thread ends) I'm ready to move to the next block.  With just twelve blocks in the quilt, I can get half the blocks quilted in under 30 minutes which tends to be my session limit at the quilting machine.  When I stick to my 30 minute work limit, I find it easier to avoid a cranky neck and shoulders!
Here's the progress so far -- I have six blocks left to quilt and then maybe a straight line down the middle of all the sashing and something in the border.  I could have this piece ready to bind by Monday!
Then I can layer up and work next week on a laprobe that I've selected from the "ready-to-quilt" shelf for a housewarming gift!
It's been a pleasant week -- my goal to get back into a regular walking routine is progressing.
I enjoyed two all day babysitting sessions with the triplets!  BLISS!!
I enjoyed a couple small social gatherings (with masks).
Perhaps most important, I decided to embrace a couple perks of the current isolation.

I'm noticing my almost-empty schedule has led me to pay more attention to details and have more patience when needed.  
For example, I've started putting things away when I'm done using them because I don't have to rushing on to something else so the house is tidier and I (almost) always know where stuff is?!?
That's all good!!
  I'm doing more advanced knitting projects but I'm making lots of mistakes in my projects (argghhh - lack of experience).  I still get in a snit but they are usually short and I can back-up, undo, and fix the mistake -- like the sock that I knit twice before I got it the right size.  It was worth it!!

So I hope that I can take these habits forward with me.
It might mean I won't be as "useful" to other people but they are just going to have to get their own act together, aren't they?
Mary, the efficient dependable multi-tasker has retired!!
(All of you who've had your "slow living" act together for a while are smiling.)

So let's go have a good week and if you've had a "light bulb" moment as a result of isolation, share it with us!!


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