Thursday, December 10, 2020

More Squirrels: Multiple New Christmas Quilts, the Quilt to Perpetuate the Patriarchy, and Not Nearly Enough Thread

 Ah, if only the Squirrel of Distraction didn't bring along so many friends...

So the last time I checked in here, I was telling you how I got this "squirrel" of an idea to drop all ongoing projects to make a festive Christmasy tumbler quilt.  But then I bought a bit more Christmas fabric than was absolutely necessary...  So I cut out all of the tumblers I'd need:

6 inch Tumblers Cut Out and Ready to Sew

But then, instead of folding the leftover fabric and storing it away for another day, I grabbed my rotary cutter and ruler and cut lots and lots and LOTS of 5" squares.  I was talking on the phone through my Airpods while I was doing this, not keeping count, and I kind of got carried away.  

So one "quick and easy" detour to make a Christmas throw quilt has segued into something that looks more like a 5-point intersection without any street signs.  I had this idea that I was going to make a Disappearing 9-Patch quilt from my 5" squares.  These are the first two blocks:

Disappearing 9-Patch Blocks

Y'all, the blocks are cute, but this is NOT the way I usually roll.  I was good with cutting out my perfect 5" squares and sewing them together into perfect 9-patch blocks, but when I got to the part in the directions where it says to just chop the block in half down the middle, I wished I'd just cut out little squares and rectangles in the beginning instead of following the directions!  I think this method is better suited to someone with a different personality than mine.  :-). But it's fine, and I'll keep making enough blocks until it's big enough for a throw, or for a bed.  Maybe all red, or maybe I'll use some solid green, too, to set off the red Christmas prints in my stash?

Even so, like I said, I cut way too many 5" squares for just one quilt.  What can I do with the rest of them?  Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite pattern for 5" charm squares!

Meanwhile, I've been shopping and wrapping and shipping like a crazy person...  Or like a MOM in the final weeks before Christmas.  The digital pattern companies have been running sales on their quilting patterns, so I've been building and curating a nice selection of designs for R2D2 (my computerized long arm machine).  I'm looking forward to quilting these new designs as we move into a new year!  

The Charity Quilt to Perpetuate the Patriarchy, According to My Snarky Son

I'm about to get a charity top loaded onto my long arm frame, one which my snarky teenaged son is calling the Quilt to Perpetuate the Patriarchy because it has a fabric that says "FireMEN" instead of "Firefighters."  I didn't even notice that before he pointed it out!  He's only teasing me, but secretly I am glad that he is aware that women can also be firefighters, that little girls might also like to be fire-fighting heroes when they grow up, and that gender-specific job titles can make some people feel like they "don't belong."  But most of these charity tops I get from our guild are made of older fabrics that have been donated to us as part of an inherited stash.  The "firemen" fabric might even be older than my 17-year-old son.  I'm curious whether the fabric companies are more sensitive to this nowadays -- has anyone noticed?

Anyway, regardless of the political correctness of the fabric, this Firemen quilt top is about to get quilted with Jessica Schick's Fantasy Flame E2E design:

Pantograph Laid Out and Ready to Sew

[Side note: How do you like those magnetic Wonder Woman bracelets that my R2D2 is wearing? I stumbled across them on Amazon while I was gift shopping.  They have Velcro closures and 10-15 super strong magnets sewn into the tough mesh fabric, strong enough to hold nails, screws, a wrench or a screwdriver on your wrist to keep them handy.  I am using them to hold my thread snips, my IQ stylus, maybe a couple of pins, and even my bobbin case so I don't misplace it while I'm brushing out lint and oiling my hook.  The magnets are strong enough that there's no risk of the scissors falling off while the machine is stitching.  If you have anyone on your gift list this holiday season who works on cars, fixes computers, etc., this might be a big hit. You can find it on Amazon here].

Although I purchased these magnetic wristbands with the idea of using them on the handles of my long arm machine, I'm finding that I like them even better wrapped around the end of my 2" diameter quilt top roller bar, just off to the side of the quilt I'm working on.  I only wish I could find one in a pretty purple or hot pink!

My Newest Favorite Long Arm Accessory: Magnetic Tool Wristband

Do you have any favorite items in your sewing room that were designed for some other use?  Let me know in the comments!

Back to the project at hand!  So this is how I set up the Fantasy Flames pantograph for this 40" x 45" quilt top.  Since my quilting design is non-directional, I'll be loading the top sideways for greater efficiency.  The green rectangle on my IQ tablet screen represents the full size of my quilt top with an additional 1" buffer on all four sides, just to be on the safe side.  I altered the pattern's row height to get a quilting pattern density (the average length of stitching lines within  one-square-inch) of .92", with a pattern height of just under 13 1/2".  On my APQS Millennium, that should be a good size to maximize the "real estate" of my machine's throat space without running into problems.

Fantasy Flames Pantograph Resized and Mapped Out

I've deliberately adjusted the gap between the pantograph rows to disguise where one row ends and the next row begins, and it's hard to tell from this screen, by my little robot assistant will be able to quilt this out in four passes, stopping between rows for me to clip threads, advance the quilt on the frame, baste the edges of the quilt, and then realign (re-orienting the computer to know where it is on my quilt that I just moved before asking the computer to start stitching again).

After auditioning a few different thread options on the quilt top, I decided on a pale yellow Glide thread called Lemon Ice.  And, by the way, that's another thing I've been up to since the last time I blogged.  I inventoried and reorganized my long arm quilting thread by color instead of by brand/type so I could see where I had "holes" in my rainbow of options, and then I placed thread orders.  Clearly, I just did not have enough thread:

This is What Not Enough Thread Looks Like

Okay, so I picked the Lemon Ice Glide thread for my Firemen quilt and I don't have any similarly colored prewound bobbins in stock, so I wound a couple of bobbins the old fashioned way and threaded up my machine...  But then I got interrupted because my Bernina dealer called and my Main Squeeze 750QE was finally ready to be picked up after waiting her turn for her bi-annual Spa Maintenance for over a month! I'm glad I left her to be serviced despite the pandemic-related backlog, because she had a broken foot, something not right with the bottom cover, and needed some kind of an upgraded grounding cable or whatever.  The broken foot at the bottom of the machine -- who knows how that happened or how long it's been that way -- but it might have been behind my problem with the embroidery module disconnecting from the machine while it was stitching.  Anyway, now that my Big 'Nina is back home and ready to sew, I gave them my Goldilocks 475QE travel/backup machine that hasn't been in for service since I purchased it in February 2019.  Gotta take good care of my machines if I want them to keep perform flawlessly.  Now is a good time to service the little machine, too, because I'm not taking her to classes or traveling with her during this blankety-blank pandemic.

Alright; that's all you're getting from me for tonight!  More Christmas packages showed up on my doorstep that need to be wrapped for snarky boys who have strong opinions about quilting fabric!

PSST!!  I'd Love to Quilt for YOU!

By the way, if you or any of your quilty friends has a quilt top or two that needs quilting, I'd be delighted to quilt for you!  My turnaround for edge-to-edge quilting is currently running about 2 weeks, and you can click here to find out how to book your quilt with me.

I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


Finished Or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre


UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland


Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


SJSM said...

More squirrels? You are a glutton for punishment. I like the new project of the disappearing 9 patch. The pattern really moves the eye. Four passes on your charity quilt is a nice practice piece to lock in some of the techniques and skills you have developed.

Wednesday the last of the packages that needed to be shipped out are gone. I’m now concentrating on local gifts. We stocked up at Costco and the grocery store and do not plan on a IRL shopping trip for over a month. It will be curbside and delivery. Our hospitals are full and I do not want to end up there. Lord watch over the essential worker who are in our necessary businesses and ALL health care professionals from doctors, nurses and maintenance personnel. There are so many we depend on from the farm worker to the police and fire and beyond.

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

your braver than I am going shopping and getting presents out - for me it is from the computer only this year. glad you still getting in a lot of practice on your long arm and I hope the fabric is being printed now as firefighters and not firemen but who can tell. I hope you get done with all your quilting - I don't think you need more thread for now lol - I know I have way more thread than I need and I still get more - I wonder how old thread should be before it gets tossed? I have some that must be really old and still using it if I need certain colors.

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Your tumbler quilt is going to be great, and then all the 5 inch squares! They multiply if you are not careful. Love the DNP - but I also like making Churndashs from them - and Hourglass blocks... have fun!

Vivian said...

Ok, loving that pic of the coterie of Squirrels of Distraction! Lord knows I can soooo relate. Ok the D9P wasn't part of the plan but you've got to admit those blocks are cute and just needs to be a finish! My MIL is a big Jenny Doan fan and her favorite charm pattern is MSQC's "Falling Charms" --- charms and jelly roll strips --- could work to work that charm stash down. Good looking thread stash for your long arm adventures!

Norma Schlager said...

Aren't you brave to be starting a Christas quilt so late in the game. But maybe it will be for next year. Either way, have fun with it. Your fabric is very attractive.

MissPat said...

I made a DNP I Spy quilt a few years ago. The concept was fine, but I agree you have to be willing to suspend your desire for the resewn blocks to come out the right size. Glad you are having fun with the upgrade on the long arm. With the dense quilting you prefer, a large thread inventory is a necessity. Hope the Christmas quilt gets finished.

Anne-Marie said...

I like Labyrinth by Carlene Westburg for 5" squares. I've made it several times. You have such a nice variety of threads. Mine are almost totally neutrals. :)

Lynette said...

Hey, those are really pretty disappearing 9-patch blocks! December is the perfect month to side-track into Christmas-y squirrels. Who cares if they won't be finished for this year? They make excellent sewing companions while listening to Christmas music/movies/audiobooks, and when the month is over, you can put them aside at whatever stage they attained, and have a head start on the project when you pull it back out later, either in the fall for a finish for next year's Christmas season, or in December for more season-matched sewing!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Love, love, LOVE R2D2's Wonder Woman bracelets! Brilliant, Rebecca!! Note to self: MUST go shopping to get some for The Beast. (Pet name for my own APQS Millennium Longarm.) said...

Oh Rebecca, your Christmas quilts will be amazing! The tumbler quilt was just the start of a whole lot of squirrels getting together for one party after another!!! I'm glad you aren't afraid to start a new project or two or three . . . !!!!!!!!

Gretchen Weaver said...

You sound like me, you drop everything to start a certain quilt (tumblers) then get side tracked cutting up the extra yardage. Then you work on the extra yardage quilt! Depending on how many 5" blocks you have left, perhaps a trip around the world? Happy stitching!

Gwyned Trefethen said...

Tumblers and 5" squares and Christmas presents galore... Oh, my! My head is spinning from all you are doing. So much creative fun.

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

You have a great thread stash! I too, was wondering about the longevity of threads? And lovely looking Christmas quilts in progress.

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Beautiful projects! And I love how you store your bobbins, a lot are ready!

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

It is kind of a funny thing to piece one block only to cut it up and re-sew it into a different block! But the D9P does make a neat design. Have fun with your squirrels!

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca! I just love and adore the fact that you have a snarky teenager. What a wonderful thing to be snarky about! The is a LOT of hope for the future in just that one statement. Here I thought I was missing posts from you . . . What a pretty selection of thread. Just seeing all those colors would make me want to go make more quilts in all those colors! Perfect quilting design for the firemen quilt, by the way! Merry Christmas to you and your family. {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne