Sunday, May 22, 2016

What does DONE look like?

Does anyone else struggle with prioritizing your own projects?

I'm really good at prioritizing other people's time but not so good at my own.  I wonder if that's why so many women go outside of the home to work, even when they don't have to do it for financial reasons.

Not only is it a struggle for me to prioritize my projects, it's really easy for me to feel overwhelmed with ALL the things I want to complete.  Shall I list all the quilts I've already put fabrics together to make?  How about the foreign language I want to learn?  And don't forget sewing for my own wardrobe or re-learning how to play the piano.  See what I mean?

One of the things I've struggled with is whether to do my own quilting, and I have decided not to do it myself right now.  There are several nearby women who charge really reasonable rates so I'll hire one to quilt my Hunter's Star quilt.  I need to get it completed by mid-July.  Totally done.  I hate the fact that I'm so far behind on my husband's Minecraft quilt so that might allow me the luxury of catching up on those blocks.  I really need some clothes too.  All of mine are too big.  Hooray!!!

My husband has been teaching me to apply AGILE project management techniques to everything I do, starting with the idea of knowing when I am done.  We just painted our main living area that houses the kitchen/dining/family rooms.  My husband painted the ceiling and I painted the walls with some help from my daughter.  I'm super happy with the result!

The room used to be a slate grey and is now a sand dollar color.  I need to buy about a quart of paint more to finish the kitchen.  Then it will be DONE!  I love the room so much more now.  Slate grey is not a color that encourages a family to gather around.  It's just a more warm, inviting place to be now.  For the first time since we have moved into the house, I go into the family room to sit and read or visit.  I think we bought 7 different colors to try on the walls before we found the one we liked best.

My Hunter's Star quilt tormented me all the while though.  It's fully pieced together, but the borders haven't been cut out or added.  Like I said, so had the Minecraft quilt so Saturday I talked it out with my husband and dropped some projects and prioritized some.  Most of the quilts will wait until next fall and winter so I have time to spend with my husband and daughter! I also decided to let someone else have the fun/headache of quilting the Hunter's Star.  Done for the Hunter's Star means to complete the quilt top in time to give it to my selected recipients (a secret.)  It does NOT have to be quilted by me.  I have gone through a Craftsy class to learn to quilt with a walking foot, and I've figured out how I could quilt that blanket, but I have a super short time frame to learn to do it well enough and then have to do it on such a large piece.  I've done just enough to begin to believe that I really enjoy the design and piecing part but not the quilting so much.

Today, though, I'm taking a break from all of that to do the Zombie Pigman.  We're heading out on vacation as soon as my daughter finishes her last final so this may be my only chance to do anything creative.  I have doctor appointments tomorrow and Tuesday and then I'm checking my daughter out of school early on her last week so she doesn't have to sit in the hall while her English class watches an R-rated show that I don't think appropriate.  (She agreed with that assessment and doubly so when she found out I was fine with getting her out of school a couple of hours early.  Bonus!)  Next week will be soon enough to add the borders onto my Hunter's Star quilt.

My colors are selected for the Zombie Pigman and I will be beginning as soon as I sign off here!

The lesson for the day is a simple reminder to allow yourself to take time for creativity, don't burden yourself with too many projects, and define what DONE looks like.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Major milestone celebration!

April 18 saw my first Instagram picture of my Hunter's Star quilt so I guess that was close to when I began it.  I cut the layer cake into 4 squares as of that date.

Now I have the pieced part DONE!

And um, it feels like I've been working on this forever.  Can I hear Celebrate! now?

The back isn't pretty, the 1/4" seams are far from perfect, the seams aren't always pressed to one side, and the seams didn't always nestle together because they had to go the same direction, but it's DONE and it actually looks pretty.

Miracles happen.  Every day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hunter's Star (long)

Oh my!  I thought I had posted more about my Hunter's Star Quilt that I am making.  The last post addressed that quilt, but that is the only post about it that I could find.  So sorry about that!  Here's a picture of the quilt on my design wall (from Fons and Porter--a little bit short but it will do better than the floor!)

Several months ago, I watched Jenny Doan's quilt tutorial about how to make the Hunter's Star quilt.  I fell in love with that quilt and bought the exact fabrics that she used.  What I didn't realize was that the Hunter's Star was a more advanced quilt block, even using her simplified instructions.   There are a few things I wish I had noted earlier:

1)  I needed one more charm pack of the print fabric in order to follow the same schematics as the tutorial.  There are far fewer purplish prints in either the charm pack or layer cake than any other color.  I actually raided my stash from the floating square quilt for one additional square because I ran short after buying the extra charm pack.

2)  The hunter's star is broken into four quadrants on her quilt, hence the need for more charms and unpicking.

3)  I wish I had ordered the Block magazine's Holiday 2015 issue because that's where the written directions are contained (I think.)

4)  I would highly recommend using only two colors for a first quilt, such as blue and white, red and white, batik and solid, a single print and solid, and so forth rather than a mixed print.  It wouldn't be so hard to coordinate.

4)  On another tangent, the Block magazine is fabulous reading!  I just received and devoured the spring 2016 issue.  Get the paper mag!!!  I know it's just another thing to store, but I'm finding I'm printing out a lot of pictures from the tutorials and Google searches.  The magazine is cheaper, I think.  Here's another quilt I want to make.  I love this green shade because it makes me think of my mother.  She loves this shade of green.  I may or may not have ordered the fabrics. :-) The 4-patch and strips quilt also drew my eye but I'm more inclined to pick my own fabrics for that so there's no rush.

Back to the Hunter's Star

The steps to creating the Hunter's Star quilt:

Make the half-square triangles for the 28 star blocks.  Hopefully your math will be better than mine!  Then you trim each of those down to 2 3/4 inch squares and trim off the tag ends.

Some of these are trimmed while others are waiting to be cut down.

All trimmed!

Next, lay them up into the star blocks.  The second time around, I put the colors in quadrants.  After unpicking seven whole scrappy-style stars.  

I HIGHLY recommend laying out each set of stars before sewing them together so you can be sure the prints play well together.  Then I found that the backs were easier to work with (and will probably be simpler to quilt) if I sewed each row together before attaching one row to another.  In the tutorial, Jenny sewed each quadrant together, but the bulky seams are atrocious doing it that way.  (Another unpicking session resulted for me when I realized that.)  I don't have pictures--I'm sorry!

For memories' sake: (I got lots of practice unpicking stitches!)

Note that there are two kinds of stars.  One moves to the right and the other to the left (12 and 16 of the respective blocks) so pay attention to the pattern: (Here's the sketches I mocked up.)

After that, piecing together 28 of the 4-patch blocks will seem easy peasy!  Take the white and print charms and sew them together--again according to the instructions.  You will rotate these on the quilt so the prints have to be in the top right and bottom left corners when you piece the blocks together.

And finally, we get to the final lay up on the design wall.
Seven blocks across and eight down.  The first row begins and end with star blocks from the stack of 16.  Orient the blocks according to the tutorial.  The second row uses the star blocks from the stack of 12 with the 4-patch blocks going the opposite direction from the ones in the first row.  I'm pretty sure I got that right.  Jenny kept talking about the orientation of the print, but I got lost there.  I'm a visual learner so pictures did the trick for me.

Last step is to sew all the blocks together before dealing with the borders and binding.  I'm toying with using the remaining charm squares by piecing them into a binding strip.