Tag Archives: lists

The Key to Happiness

Some people say that the key to happiness is having lower expectations. Yesterday I had incredibly low expectations for myself and managed to beat them, which made me happy. So I guess it’s true!

Beyond going to the gym and doing a small amount of housework (emphasis on “small,”) I also learned a new skill that will help with an upcoming project.

My project will use an airplane in the center block. For a long time I figured to appliqué something, but recently I decided I’d rather piece it for better durability and so there isn’t the stiffness or chemicals of fusible web in the quilt. Hmm, piecing an airplane? That sounds like a job for paper piecing!

I have done paper piecing, and I’ve drawn my own papers for it, but they were quite simple. An airplane is more complex that a border of triangles. A search for available patterns didn’t coming up with the specific airplane I want, and I figured I’d need to draw my own. My next search was for tips on designing your own foundation patterns. Low and behold, I found the video at this link. It shows the steps to use in EQ7 for creating a paper-piecing pattern. (It couldn’t be embedded, so if you want to see it, you need to click the link.)

I have EQ8 software, but was able to “translate” the instructions to the current version. It helps to both slow down the speed of play and stop it regularly, to catch up to directions. I learned how to import an image into the block design worktable, and then use the drawing tool to simplify the image as a pieced block. The video then showed how to prepare the pattern for printing. It was so much easier than I could have imagined!

Here is my block, colored as if it were in fabric.

And here it is with the seam lines drawn in.

The software then separates and numbers the patches for the pattern. It is SO COOL.

Can I manage to keep my expectations or ambitions in check? Maybe not. Here is a list of things I have queued up:
* Finish quilting the rooster collage applique; bind and label it.
* Make the back for my Wind River Beauty project; load it, quilt it, bind and label it.
* Make and attach a label for a neighbor’s baby quilt, now that the baby has been born and has a name.
* Try creating the airplane block as above. If it works, move the rest of the project along.

I always think I can achieve more in any time frame than I really can. That might be optimism, and I haven’t unlearned it after all these years. It can make me feel a little disappointed and stressed when things don’t go as planned. But deliberately setting low expectations for a few days gives me permission to take my time, recapture pleasure, and look forward to the next steps. That’s the key…


Ten Things I Learned in 2018

Bat mask from Burkina Faso, on display (and for sale) at Beadology in Iowa City. Maybe about 4′ wide.

What did you learn this year? We could go all out and make that a really broad question, but I am thinking in terms of making most of all.

Here are ten things I learned or had reinforced:

  1. It’s easy to reposition the needle left or right on my domestic sewing machine. Easy and handy!
  2. I didn’t need a new strap on my new purse after all. I just needed to adjust the strap that was already there.
  3. Glue is amazing! Fusible web, Elmer’s white glue, purple glue sticks, basting spray, I used them all. They are now a regular part of my quilting life.
  4. MicroQuilter is a very fine polyester thread from Superior Threads. It can be used for fine detail work and stitch in the ditch, and it nearly disappears. I used it on my recent table runner and liked it a lot.
  5. Inspiration comes from all over, if you let it. Okay, really, I knew this already, but it was confirmed time and again. Couldn’t you make an amazing quilt inspired by the mask above? (More about that beautiful mask in the next post!)
  6. The three quilt projects I most enjoyed working on were also the ones that taught me new skills or ways of thinking. Photos are below. Click on any picture to open the gallery and see more detail.
  7. Being quilt guild president is a privilege, and it’s also really great not being guild president.
  8. I learned how to make a facing for a quilt, rather than a traditional binding. In truth it isn’t any harder, and if you’re going to hand-stitch the edging down anyway, doesn’t take more time.
  9. I can design and sew a shirt for myself, which fits, has French seams, and a faced neckline. While I’ll probably never do much garment sewing, next year I might be slightly more ambitious and do something more complicated.
  10. I’m still not particularly good at making and writing at the same time. It’s easier for me to recap decisions after the fact than to chew through them while they’re in process.

What did you learn this year?

Favorite New Tool? Libib!

I don’t buy new gadgets or tools very often. I have a pretty basic stock of rulers, the same domestic sewing machine for several years, and a supply of pens, pencils and markers that wouldn’t draw much envy. I did upgrade my longarm quilting machine this year, which is exciting for me, since I do my own quilting and often make larger quilts.

And glue, glorious glue! Elmer’s basic white school glue, glue sticks, basting spray, WonderUnder. They’re all ways to stick something to something else. But I’d argue that they are supplies rather than tools. And really, they aren’t new to me, even though I’ve used more glue this year than ever before.

My favorite new tool — and perhaps simply from the glow of recent discovery — is Libib! Libib is a library management tool, available for free for personal use, and for a fee for larger needs. According to the home page: “Our library management service caters to both home and small organizational libraries. Our online software lets you create multiple libraries, catalog books, movies, music, and video games, lets you create tags, leave notes, import/export, and much more. We offer two different subscription options to best fit your needs. Libib is the best system for cataloging your media available online.” (bolding emphasis mine)

You can download an app to either Android or Apple phone, and use the phone to scan your books’ ISBN bar codes. If the book doesn’t have a code, info can be entered manually. The phone-captured data is stored in the cloud, and you can access it on your computer, as well.

My whole quilt library takes up 47 linear inches, and includes about 100 books. What is so cool about this for me, a person with a relatively small library? It took less than half an hour to scan all my quilting books. Okay, there were a few that don’t have an ISBN bar code, and I’ll have to enter them manually. All the rest, done fast and slick! Try that with almost any other listing method, and it certainly would take longer and not include as much information.

You can sort alphabetically by title or author, by date published or added to your library, or by rating of library users. I’m the only user and I haven’t rated them, so that one doesn’t help me. Here’s a look at my computer-based window to my library, with a list view by date published. You can see the ⇑ to the right of the sorting menu. That sorts in reverse chronological order. Also there is a horizontal menu for decade to display. This shows ALL:

Most of my books are older. Only 22 were published in the last 10 years.

Here’s a look at a few of the books by authors whose last name starts with “B.” This is in the grid view.

And if I want more specific info about a specific book, I can get that, too. Here is a screen showing Elizabeth Barton’s Visual Guide to Working in a Series. On the right margin of the screen shot, there are a few icons that allow editing, adding tags, notes, a price, or deleting the entry.

Why delete? As I re-shelved my library, I identified a few books I won’t need to keep, things I’ve outgrown. I can delete them once they have gone away.

Okay, so why? What difference does it make if I have an accurate list of my holdings? Maybe not a lot. But if I needed to make an insurance claim, this would allow me to provide a list to the insurer. You can’t claim it if you can’t name it. I can access the list on the phone or the computer. If I’m at the public library’s used book sale, or at a book store, and wonder if I already own a book, I can check my phone. Once I have my books “tagged” with some identifiers, I can look up all my books on story quilting, for example. I’m an orderly person. I like lists. This is way cool.

Another very cool thing about this is my guild library needs to be re-inventoried. It’s supposed to be inventoried every year, but due to technical issues (committee members not knowing how to use Excel,) it hasn’t been done for 2 or 3 years. There are about 300 items in the guild library. If it takes a half hour per 100, this app will make quick work of the listing. Your guild library could use it, too.

How do you keep track of your household or quilting books? Do you list them? Share in comments.

Year End Deadlines?

What is it about that word, “deadline?” Is there an actual line, like a race’s finish line? Do you drop dead when you cross it? If you don’t cross it in time, are you as good as dead? According to Merriam-Webster.com, the word was used during the US Civil War to signify an actual point of no return. If prisoners of war tried to cross the deadline surrounding the prison camp, they would be shot.

Regardless of how stressed the holidays can make us feel, the deadline is not as treacherous for us. But at this time of year, many people — quilters or not — are scurrying to finish projects for holiday gifts. Often, that’s me, too. Pillowcases, checkerboards, table runners, and other small projects have deadlines!

Not this year. This year I have no project in process that will be a holiday gift, and no quilty deadlines. However, like always, there are things I’m working on, and it’s great to clear things off the list before year end!

What’s on the list of projects in process?
1. Urn with flowers. The top is done, as of yesterday. I need to make a back, and get it quilted and bound.

No title yet. 45″ x 50″. Unquilted top.

2. VA Hospital quilt #4 for the year. Again, the top is done but it needs a back and quilting. If I’m finished by December 10, I’ll take it to guild meeting to donate it then. Otherwise I’ll donate it in January.

VA Hospital quilt 2018, #4. Approx 48″ x 62″. Unquilted top. Disappearing 9-patch using orphan blocks.

3. The Rooster. The top is done. However, it’s possible I’ll make minor changes before quilting. We’ll see.

4. The Mask. I’m developing a plan for this, which might include a snake wrapped around the face. Hmm, not sure where this will go. Because of the uncertainty, this won’t likely get finished by year end.

5. New York Beauty star. This is heading into 2019 as a great idea but a fairly low priority.

And then there are all the projects I want to start! I have been so inspired by our trip to Peru and would like to develop some work based on that. There are a few table runners and table toppers that could be (that old “could be”) fast finishes. A series of masks would be a great way to learn more about faces and about appliqué. My dear Green Man continues to wait for his quilt. And then there are the stories I want to tell in quilts, which I’m finally feeling ready to begin.

And projects already finished this year:
1. Fierce Little Bear
2. VA hospital quilt #1
3. VA hospital quilt #2
4. Charlotte’s Kitty
5. The Old School House
6. Georgia’s graduation quilt
7. Where Are the Birds? (landscape tree quilt)
8. ¡Fiesta!
9. Hands and Hearts
10. Shirt
Projects 11-15 are all shown here.
11. Dan’s Honor Flight Quilt
12. Sonny’s Honor Flight Quilt
13. Heather’s baby quilt
14. VA hospital quilt #3
15. Iowa map quilt, hostess gift for Peru

What’s still on your lists for the year? Do you have holiday deadlines for your projects? 


Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. I have lists of things done and lists of things doing and lists of things to do! I have a mess in my studio, the product of having several projects going at the same time. What should I do first? What should I write about first? Perhaps the first quilt I finished this year! Perhaps the one I’m working on right now! Perhaps the one I’ll take up on Monday!

So confusing… But in the interests of some forward movement, I’ll show you some pix of my studio late yesterday.

Now I know, this is not most people’s idea of a mess, but it is for me. That’s one of the reasons I tend to be very linear in my making, with only one or two active projects at a time. I can finish something, CLEAN, and move on to the next thing. With lots of active projects I can’t put things away.

Here is my list, not in priority order:

And here is my “current” project.

I started the center block on Tuesday in a workshop with Toby Lischko. It is a classic New York Beauty, a challenging block to make. But her instruction, tools, and technique made it very easy. I modified the size of the outer background (Moda Grunge in orange) to make it 17″ finish instead of 16″. (Math stuff — I won’t go into the details now but it should set up all the rest of the sizing well.) And I added corners in purple (more math stuff for how I decided the size. Details later.) And I designed the Lone Star-style star point. I need to take it apart and rebuild it so my seam allowances are better, but later I’ll be glad I took the time to do that.

HOWEVER now it’s time to switch gears, so this project, called “Wind River,” will just wait for a few weeks. Instead I have a secret project to do as a wedding present for Son and his bride. Since they get married four weeks from today (HOORAY!!!) I have to get in high gear on that. (And oh yeah, I better make my purse, too!) This is my linearity kicking in. Later I can be messy again. 🙂