Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Final Countdown Challenge for 2015

Shelly of Prairie Moon Quilts, is once again hosting her Final Countdown Challenges, which are three tasks to help us get the New Year off to a great start. You can read more about it HERE. We have until January 4th to complete the tasks, so it's not too late if you want to join in on the fun!

For the first task, Shelly wrote a great post, which I'm sure I'll return to many times. There are lots of questions to ponder! You can find it HERE. The first task is to:

Take a good hard look at your fabric stash.

Do you like the way you have it stored?
No, not really. For the last few months, this is basically how my room looked:

(BTW, what's on my design wall to the right, is the project I worked on this Fall. I couldn't blog about it, as they were Christmas presents. I'll try to do a blog post about them shortly.)
 See all those bins on the floor? They hold my fabric collections and various supplies such as zippers, ribbon, elastic, lace, etc. I'm constantly shuffling them around to find things, so this didn't work.
Also, the shelves to the right looked like this:

My seven year old daughter pointed out that this looked rather messy. So we decided to remove the bags, and put all the small bins on the shelves. Now it looks like this:

I think this will be much better. In the coming weeks, I hope to go through those boxes and organize them better and maybe toss some things. All the Ziploc bags are now under my drafting table, which I plan to also go through. I hope to eliminate them completely by cutting the shirts and pants up for future projects, using the fleece for quilt backings, using the t-shirts for a quilt, and donating the rest.

We also decided to rearrange the desks and as of this morning, this is how it looks:
 Yes, that is my cat in the middle. I'm having an awful time, keeping her off my cutting table and fabric. Anyone else have this trouble? I'm hoping by having a designated basket/bed for her, that she will stay off what I'm working on! She can get quite feisty if I shoo her off too many times!

Other questions Shelly had for us, were:
Do you like the way you have it sorted?
Well, it's okay. I sort mostly by the type of fabric it is. So I  keep fleece all together, poly/cotton in one spot, knits in another, etc. It works out fine for me. I just need to keep at it as I have some bags that still need sorting.

Do you like all the fabric you have?
Mostly. but I'm sure there is some dated fabrics that I should purge. Also, I need to look at some of the old clothes and really think if I'll use them. Perhaps they should just be donated?

Do you like the system you have, but aren't working it like you want to?
I don't really have any system yet. Maybe some day, when I have a larger collection of quilting fabrics. I think having fabrics cut to specific sizes, is a good thing to do.

Have you seen a system you'd like to implement, but haven't taken the time to implement it yet?
No, not really. I do like Bonnie Hunter's scrap user system though, so maybe someday I'll try that when I have more quilter's cottons.

So with all this re-arranging in the past few days, I decided it was time to change a book case and a pantry holding my magazines. And it just so happened that today there was a sale on the units that I wanted. I'll post before and after shots when I get it done.

Happy Stitching and Happy New Year!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

studio organizing update

For Shelly's week 30 of the studio organizing challenge, which you can find the list of posts HERE, it was to:

deal with the scrap pile.

I tend to deal with my scraps in two ways...if it's a line of fabric I'm using for a project, then the scraps get tossed into baggies, then into a drawer. That drawer was a big mess, so I decided to use cardboard to separate the various collections. It now looks like this,which believe me, is alot better than what it was!

If it's just odd scraps of fabric or from clothes, I toss it in another drawer, to be sorted later into baggies by color. My drawer looked like this:

That drawer is now empty and it's all in a basket by color.

One day, I hope to get around to cutting those scraps into certain sizes, but for now, this will have to do.

Now when going through scraps, does anyone else find it impossible to not start a new project?
I found these wee baggies of triangles, and just had to sew them up.

My daughter played with the HST's and we ended up making a wee bean bag for her and a block, that may become either a mugrug for her or a pincushion. She also came up with a mini quilt, but I'll save that for another post.

Then we found some other scraps...what could I make with them?

Well school is starting soon, and she could use a pencil case. So I made this up, using a Gathered Clutch tutorial found HERE. I've made this one before, and really should make more for gifts. It's a great pattern! I added the wrist strap and loop to hang a toy,just for fun.

Inside, I think is the best part.  I pieced the divider using the salvages and scraps.

The line is called Love U by Deb Strain for Moda. My daughter really liked that!

And something happened while I was making this, which I'll mention so I don't forget it...
I was unhappy with how certain parts of it were turning fault of the pattern, just my sewing skills! I was telling my daughter what I did wrong and how I might not finish it, when she say's, "Oh mommy, you have to finish it. I don't care if the seams aren't perfect. It's made with Love. And do you know why I say it was made with Love? Because you are making it especially for me."
Yes, that made my day and helped me finish it up for her!

As for week 31 of the challenge, it was to: eradicate a pile. I'm still working on that one!
So I'll end this post with a sunflower from my garden.

Happy stitching!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

studio organizing update

Thanks to Shelly's studio organizing challenges, which you can find the list for HERE, I have re-organized a large part of my sewing/craft space. This is what it looks like now:

It does not look much different than other pics I've posted, but much has changed with how things are stored.

It started with the week 22 challenge of cleaning out a fabric bin. 
On the black metal shelves to the right of my sewing machine, I had large plastic bins of various shapes and sizes. They held fabrics such as fleece, batting, sheets, drapery fabrics, and clothes for re-purposing. These bins were heavy and hard for me to get off the shelf. So I decided to switch them with Ziploc Space Bags. I love these things! This is fleece fabric that had taken up a whole bin before:

Here is a progress pic, as I was changing out the bins:
The bags are far easier for me to move and see what's in them, than those big bins ever were!

For Week 23, it was to revisit a previous task and work on it again.
So I just continued with emptying out all my large bins and sorting and purging fabrics as I went along.

For Week 24, it was to clean out one drawer. 
Since I was working on the shelves, I decided to sort through all my stitchery items. They were a big mess in another large bin.
So I sorted it out into smaller containers of the stitchery fabrics, and kits. I can now easily see and find things.

Now week 25, was to work on organizing your magazines or books.
I still need to do this one. My books are fairly well organized, but the magazines need to be sorted.

Week 26, was to make a list. 
I made a list of my unfinished projects and found that I had 22. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was.

Week 27, was to organize your UFO's.
This was a good task to get done, as I decided to put them all together on one shelf, where I can see them and it reminds me to get them done!

Week 28, was to fix something that's broken. 
This one, I have yet to do as well. I have handles missing on all my sewing desks, so I need to pick new ones and replace them all.

Week 29, was to clean off your cutting table or main work surface. 
This is always good to do. My main cutting area is actually two sewing machine desks put together. We got them for $25 each as they were scratched a bit...makes for a great table that can both hold machines and be moved around easily as they are on wheels.

So after all this organizing, my side wall of storage, now looks like this:
I know it's not real pretty, but it does store a lot. Initially, when we did the room, we were going to put doors across this area, but I don't think we'll do that now. I like the easy access to the shelves and when I rest my design board against it, much of the area is concealed anyways.
By the way, this is just a basement room, so I do have dampness and at times, moths for some reason, to deal with. Again, I know it's not a fancy room, but maybe it might give other's ideas of how to convert such a room into a sewing space. This used to be my hubby's workshop!
Now back to some sewing!
Happy stitching!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

procrastination challenge

For Shelly's procrastination challenge for the month of June, I decided to work on some blocks that I started years ago. I was wanting to make an all blue scrappy quilt, based on Crazymomquilts tutorial found HERE. This is what I had so far:
I liked them, but there were some problems such as:
- I had used an old dress shirt for the white fabric and it was not 100% cotton. It was too stretchy.
- my seam allowance at the time was not consistent, so some did not measure the required 8.5" square.

So what to do with it?
After going through my blue scraps, I realized that I really didn't have enough of the old prints to make a lap size quilt. My daughter thought she'd like it as a doll quilt. So I removed the white fabric and just used blues to finish them and made two more blocks. I think this is as big as it will get:

Now I just need to quilt and bind it. At least it's a bit further along than it has been for years and maybe I can finish it this month.
As for July's procrastination challenge project, I think I'll pick #8 on my list which is a scrappy trip-around-the-world quilt that just needs the quilting and binding done.

Happy stitching!

Friday, June 5, 2015

studio organizing update

I've been working away at Shelly's challenges, which you can find a listing of them HERE.

For week 18, it was to:

choose 10 things to deal with.

I chose 10 things to mend. Sorry, I didn't bother with pics, but here's my list of what I mended:
laundry bag
4 stuffies
Why I procrastinate on these wee jobs of mending, I have no idea! So it felt great to get those done.

Week 19, was to clean your sewing machine. I didn't take it anywhere to be serviced, but just getting those balls of fluff from around the feeddogs, made it run better.

Week 20, was to:

put together a travel sewing kit.

This took me awhile to complete because I couldn't find them at first, as I have made a few over the years. Once I did, I re-organized them. These are my kits that I can now grab and go:
One is a shoe bag with my knitting, another is my tatting and the fishing tackle box holds my hexagon project. The latter one works well to hold everything...
And to help keep them handy for me to grab, I'm keeping them all together like this:

Now week 21, was to:

clean out a storage area.

This area is not in my sewing room, but just outside it and was a mess! Sorry, no 'before' pics, but this is a shot of it now.
It is now a useful storage space, with all my desk supplies, cards, computer software, printing paper, my kid's school papers, etc. I'm really happy to have this organized now!

Week 22 was to clean out a fabric bin. Since the 'above' reorganizing took awhile to do, I haven't done this task yet. But with this week's task being to "revisit a previous task and work on it again", then I'll try to get two bins done this week. I certainly have bins to go through, so I need to get this one done.

Thanks again, Shelly, for the push to work on these tasks! It is really surprising how just a little work on this each week, really pays off!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

studio organizing challenge ~ week 17

Shelly's challenge for this week, which you can find HERE, has been to:

clean up the area around your sewing machine.

This is how mine had looked:

It was time for a change. I'd been using my vintage WHITE machine to work on the jean quilt, and realized how nice it is to have space to my left for working on.

This old machine just powered through the denim, with no problem. I just love it! I did make progress on the quilt, but I don't think it will be done for the end of the month, as I was shooting for. I think I'll hand quilt it and add a border and maybe a few more rows. But it's coming along...

So I decided to move my Kenmore over and put the laptop on the desk. That way, if I need space for working to the left of the machine, I can easily move the laptop out of the way. This is what it looks like now:

I also decided to put my Hazel Ilene quilt back on the wall, and put some sewing tools there, that were in the way on my cutting table.

It needs something on the wall, to the right of the quilt, but I haven't decided what yet. 
Thanks again, Shelly, for the weekly challenges! 

And just because this makes me smile, I'll post this of my daughter, who picked and arranged a bouquet of garden flowers, just for me! :)

Happy Spring!

Monday, April 20, 2015

studio organizing update

I am still working away at Shelly's Studio Organizing Challenges, which you can find HERE on Prairie Moon Quilts.

Week 13 was to:  work on your one UFO that is closest to finished.

I chose to finish another mug rug, that I just needed to choose a backing and binding for. I wasn't happy with some of the stitching, so had tossed it away in a drawer. But then I figure my kids won't care and decided to just finish it. These little mug rugs are great for a drink and a cookie!

It was made with some scraps left over from doing a Christmas table topper. The star is appliqued and it's quilted with some machine embroidery.

Week 14 was to:  eradicate a pile.

Well, that bin of stuff pictured in the last post, was a big pile! It took awhile to sort. I cut up some shirts for the fabric, old sheets went for rags to my husband's work on a farm, and the jeans were cut down to strips. They are now laid out on my design board for a quilt to be pieced.

I first saw this type of jean quilt HERE on Piece N Quilt. I've wanted to try it ever since. It shouldn't take too long to piece together, so hopefully it won't become another UFO!

Week 15 was to:  choose one small area that needs attention and work on it.

I've been working on bins of old papers and stuff just outside my sewing room, and trying to clear this one area up, but I'm afraid no pics of that will be shared! It's one of those areas of our house, that things get piled up. I think I'll treat myself to some new fabrics when I finally get it all done!

Week 16 is to:  organize your ruler collection. 

I didn't take a 'before' pic, but I just took them all down and rearranged them a bit, so it now looks like this:

I got the frame from a friend that was tossing it out. It was on a vintage tapestry picture and she was replacing the frame. So my husband added the peg board for me, and it's worked out great for my rulers and cutting mats. It's a lot of wall space dedicated to them, but I find these rulers expensive and really have no other space to store them properly. My cutting table is just to the left, so they are within easy reach, too. 

Now back to that jean quilt. I'll aim to post the finished quilt by the end of the month!
 Happy stitching!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

a Spring mug rug

Kathleen Tracy of A Sentimental Quilter recently did a tutorial, which you can find HERE, on a fun mug rug. It was just the thing I needed to do. I'm tired of the cold and the snow, and wanted to do something with Spring-like colors. I chose my scraps of the Aviary line by 3 Sisters for Moda, which is one of my favorites, to do this:
The side pieces are actually selvages from the Aviary fabric. To quilt it, I just did a bit of hand stitching and some machine embroidery.
I use my mug rugs all the time instead of coasters, so I'm sure I'll be making more of this one.

As for the studio organizing, last week Shelly challenged us to:

clean out one drawer.

Instead of a drawer, I picked bins on a shelf (I needed some bins to put toys). One was filled with clothes that I thought had gone to charity years ago! And even though this pic isn't at all exciting, I'll post it to keep this real and to see the size of it:
 Upon going through it, I didn't want any of it. I had been keeping it, thinking they were clothes I wanted to re-purpose. I should use labels!  So great, I emptied a bin and it all went to charity!

Then I pulled out another, that I thought was just jeans to be cut up for tote bags.
Turns out there was much more, including bits of pants that I have no idea why I kept, shirts, sheets, even some yardage! I had a good pile to toss away!
I'm still working on cutting up the jeans and shirts in that bin. This will take awhile, so no 'after' pics yet.
Now I have a good size space where those two bins were kept, and I was able to put my file boxes, that I've been working on, in that space.

I'd love to know from you prefer to stack your fabrics on shelves, so you can see them and access them easily?
OR do you put them in bins?

As for the next week, Shelly has challenged us to:

work on your one UFO that is closet to finished.

I've got several close to finishing, so I'm still deciding which one to do.
Happy stitching!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Studio Organizing update

I've been working away at Shelly of Prairie Moon Quilts studio organizing challenges. I've made good progress with my paper clutter, namely my collection of tutorials that I've gathered from the web over the years. They used to be stored in binders like this:
Problem was, that they weren't in any particular order, so it took me forever to find what I was looking for. So I've been filing them in a file box instead.
This is so much easier to find them. I found numerous patterns that I had duplicates of, which I could toss. I now have a pile of binders for my kids to use. I've kept two binders for quilt-alongs, and that's all.
I am also starting a file box for each of my kids, and am filing their old school work, art work, school pictures, certificates in swimming, etc. I'm really hoping to purge a great deal of their old paper clutter by just keeping the best or most important things in these file boxes.

I decided to go back to using the file boxes for my quilting fabric as well.

Now, onto last week's challenge. It was to:

Organize your thread.

I have not done this in ages, so it was long over-due. They were a mess! I don't have any wall spool holders and can't keep threads out, as I've always had cats that like to mess with them! So I like to keep the spools with a filled bobbin together, in baggies in my desk drawers. I dumped them out and this is what I had:

 I decided to sort them by brand, as I mostly use Aurifil white, grey or tan for piecing and Gutermann for machine embroidery. So my top drawer now looks like this:

And the other drawer has all my Gutermann colors.

I do have older, polyester type threads sorted by color in baggies elsewhere. But these are what I use most often, so I keep them in my sewing desk. This was a good task to get done!

As for my embroidery floss, well this is the system I started using decades ago. I marked off what I had on this chart:

Inside the box, the floss is sorted by number.

But I really do not like this system. I've got bags of floss to be put on those cardboard bobbins. It's too time-consuming for me now. I'd love to find a different system for floss!

As for this week, the challenge is to:

Clean out one drawer.

I've got lots of drawers to work on, so it won't be hard finding one to do. 

Happy stitching!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Procrastination Challenge and Studio Organizing

For Shelly's procrastination challenge for February, I had chosen #6 on my list, which was pajamas for my daughter. She has grown so much lately, that most of her jammies are too small, and it's been so cold here, that she really needed some warm pants.
I used an old pattern for these, but afterwards, I saw THIS video on making your own custom pj pants by Shabby Fabrics. I'll have to give that a try!
I'm working on a nightie of the same flannel fabric, but it's not quite done yet. So I'll continue with that project into March. Once I get that done, the next old project that I want to finish, is #1 on my list. It's a quilt that just needs it's binding finished.

For the studio organizing challenges which you can find the list for, HERE , I've done lots of mending of toys, and filing of papers, to clear off surfaces. It feels great!

Thank you, Shelly, for the continuous nudge to get things done!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

studio organizing, week 7

For week 7 of the studio organizing challenge, lead by Shelly of Prairie Moon Quilts, it was to learn to use a new tool. I chose my diamond Fons & Porter ruler, which I hadn't got around to trying yet. I did some searches, and came up with THIS  free pattern called Ozark Star, which happens to use another ruler I already had, as well. I didn't have the pyramid ruler it calls for, but was able to use the paper template that the pattern provides.

I decided this won't be a table topper for me, but will hang in my sewing room, along side my Hazel Ilene quilt. So I used some of the same fabrics that are in the quilt, for it. I did have to do some ripping of seams a few times to get things to line up okay. I can see making this in Christmas fabrics!
I should have got it done by now, but for the last few days, I've been debating on the quilting and the fabrics for the backing and binding. I think I'll use this one for both, but not completely sure yet...
So this was a fun challenge to do and I learned how to use some new tools!

Now, for week 8, Shelly just posted the challenge to:

put away stray fabric and other items.

Well I actually just did this over the past few days, as I was contemplating what fabrics to use to finish the Ozark Star.
One thing that has helped me to keep from having a huge mess when I pull out fabrics, which you can read about HERE on Sew Many Ways, is to wrap your fabrics around a file folder. I don't have too many good quilter's cottons, as most of my fabrics are poly blends or old clothes, so I was able to do this with my quilting fabrics and fill a file box. It worked great, until I decided I wanted files with actual paper patterns, in there! So I placed them in those plastic drawers, that are on wheels. They fit in great and the fabric stays neat and tidy!
I did just pick up some more file boxes on sale though, so I might just go back to using them and do even more of my stash this way.

My file folders were blue, so just incase of any color bleeding onto the fabric because of dampness(my sewing space is in my basement), I do wrap tissue paper around them first.

So, since my area is fairly neat for now, I do have mending, that a certain 6 year old, would love mommy to get done!
They all have wee holes in them. It shouldn't take long and will clear off another spot.
Happy stitching!