A New Year of Sewing

It feels as if it's been ages since I've simply spent a day of care free sewing.  It's not as if I have so much to worry over in my life, but the past couple of weeks have been busy.  Matthew was staying with us for a while, and then Mike was off work up until Wednesday.  I'm used to spending my days with Smitty and Gracie, and so there have been plenty of distractions.  I had a couple of appointments to keep on Wednesday and Thursday.  Today, I stayed home and sewed, and it was very luxurious.

My focus is on finishing up the Plain and Simple Amish Sampler, and I got a good start on it today.  This quilt was one of the first patterns I bought when I started quilting in 2008.  It was on my to-do list for a long time, and I started it as my January 2012 NewFO project.  My ancestry is Amish, and so this quilt has special significance to me.

Of course, I had a lot of help in the sewing room today.  Here, Gracie is checking out the new batch of catnip we have to replace the old batch that disappeared so mysteriously...with teeth marks on the packaging.  Somehow, I don't think Mike was the one who ripped it open and scattered it all over the floor.

Smitty's waiting for Gracie to give him the go-ahead.

But to get back to the quilt, all of the blocks are made, and I've been spending the last couple of days cutting the strips for the sashings, the borders, and the filler blocks.  The pieced blocks were all made from fat quarters out of a Bounty of Basics Dark box I purchased to use in this quilt some time ago.

I was really just looking for an excuse to purchase the box when I remembered this pattern.  I'm very clever at finding reasons to purchase fabric.  And to finish the quilt, I had to purchase some more yardage in order to make the larger-than-fat-quarter-sized filler blocks.  I ended up with some new colors in the quilt, but I think they're working out okay.  

The pieced blocks and filler blocks are sewn together in sections.  Here are the first three sections.

Then those were sewn together.

Someone was getting restless about now.

Despite significant interference, I sewed together the next two sections.

And then sewed all of the sections together. 

There are still four sections to go, but I decided to call it quits for today. 

The black fabric I'm using in this quilt is an Amish Black quilting fabric I purchased from Keepsake Quilting.  It was advertised in this way:
World famous black Amish fabric.  Amish quilts are often characterized by a deep black that frames and highlights. To achieve the effect, you'll need this hard-to-find rich black solid. 

It sounded good to me, but I hadn't been quilting very long when I purchased it, and so I didn't have a lot of experience looking at and comparing fabrics.  The black yardage has been packed away for a long time, and I only took it out a couple of days ago to start working with it.  I must say that it is truly a beautiful fabric.  The weave is much closer than most quilting fabric I'm accustomed to using...close like in a batik.  And the black is very dark with a sheen similar to sateen.  It really is lovely, and so I'm glad I invested in it.

Also, I wanted to follow-up on the carpet cutting blades I bought from Harbor Freight.

As I explained in my previous post, I was hopeful that these would prove a less expensive alternative to the Fiskars replacement blades I use ordinarily.  At $1.99 for a package of two, they were significantly cheaper. "Cheaper" is the operative word in that sentence.  Several of you wrote to express your dissatisfaction with these blades, and I am in agreement.  While the blades were not nicked, as some of you had complained, they also weren't very sharp, and they grew even more dull very quickly.  I've switched back to the Fiskars blades now, and unless something else catches my eye in the future, I'll stick with the brand name blades.  A bargain isn't a bargain if it won't work for its intended purpose.

So that's it from me today.  Did you do anything fun on your Friday?

29 comments from clever and witty friends:

Sewgreen said...

I was able to get into my sewing room also!

I tried out my fat cats ruler (from my NewFO list) I'm writing my post for it right now, so that'll be up in a few days.

Lynne said...

I knitted a collar on to one of UFO projects and it will be finished later today -- I just have to sew up the seams and weave in the loose ends. Woo-hoo!

Angel and Kirby said...

The Amish colors are so vivid! I have been using a double dyed black fabric that is good. It is not as tightly woven as a batik, but the color is so much deeper that other blacks!

Kate said...

Wow, you made a lot of progress today. Love all the bright fun fabric you are using. It's going to be a gorgeous quilt.

Vivian said...

Oh that quilt looks great!!! Can;t wait to see how it turns out.

As I spent the last two days working on my newFO, I decided I should pull out a UFO and work on it.

And I did!!!!

Its pieced, quilted and awaiting binding. Yay!

Have fun with your quilt!

Quilting Babcia said...

I was finally able to sit at the sewing machine long enough today to finish the background fill on the FMQ Bonus Challenge #4 (Kaleidoscope Star). It felt good to sit at the machine again! Your Amish quilt is going to be spectacular! Will you use some of our FMQ Challenge designs to quilt the individual blocks?

Tami C said...

Your Plain and Simple Amish Sampler is looking great and I just love the picture of your significant interference. I get plenty of those myself!

Rachel said...

Plain and Simple Amish is looking great! Love the helpers! Tell Mike to stay out of the catnip. I am certain it could not have been sweet, docile Smitty...as you implied. Blades-Thanks for the info on the cheap ones :-) have you used a blade sharpener? I have one and I know some people hate it, but I actually really like mine.

WoolenSails said...

I would like to make some small amish quilts and practice my free motion with them, another to do item.
I would never let my cats in my sewing room, they are too annoying and destructive, lol.


WoolenSails said...

I would like to make some small amish quilts and practice my free motion with them, another to do item.
I would never let my cats in my sewing room, they are too annoying and destructive, lol.


Scrapatches said...

Your Amish Sampler is looking beautiful. Gorgeous fabrics. Your quilty kitties are so cute ... and I am sure they are sew helpful ... :) Pat

rubyslipperz said...

I LOVE seeing your cats! They look like soo much good company =)

I too didn't like the cheaper blades, just didn't cut well.

I didn't get into my sewing room today...but, I did get my nails done and that's fun for me too =)


Lyndsey said...

Your Amish quilt is going to be spectacular when finished. I love quilts that just use the solid colours as it allows the beauty of the blocks to show without the distraction of the prints on the fabric.

I got to my machine today and have almost finished the top of my Dresden plate quilt, one more border piece to go!. At the same time I've sorted out which NewFO to start this month.

Jilly said...

I so know what you mean by distractions over the last few weeks. My husband is a teacher and has been at home for over 2 weeks, totally messes up my routine!

Love the photo of puss cat looking through your machine. Love the colours in the quilt too.

girlsfour said...

Love seeing your cats with you while you are in your sewing room. This past summer I fostered a total of seven orphaned kittens, six at one time, one at another time. As the hubby says it didn't really work because we adopted two of them!! So now we are in teenager/kitten love! It's like having toddlers around again. Anyway...

I was up in my old sewing room (haven't quite found the perfect place yet) and cleaning stuff up early September. Still had the six kittens which were getting bigger, about six weeks old. It's a south-facing room, so it's nice and sunny and warm. All six kittens were up there in this small room with me. It was so darn cute! It just gave me a good feeling and still does when the cats follow me some where. Even just when I run down the basement quick.

Good for you that you are getting some sewing done. I am really getting the itch to sew, but feel with stuff going on and getting all the Christmas decorations put away (and organized while I do it) I have to wait.

Interesting about having Amish heritage. Would love to hear more about that.

GREAT blogging!!


girlsfour said...

I knew there was more I wanted to say!

Yep, I too had to try the Harbor Freight blades. No thank you..... will stick to the Olfa ones.

I keep my catnip in the refrigerator and you can guess why. :)

Dana Gaffney said...

That quilt is beautiful and I really like the black, it does just what it's supposed to. Thanks for the update on the blades, now I'm looking into a blade sharpener, have you ever tried one?

Kate said...

Haha, I see an angry little face in the same spot behind my sewing machine, often. I'm also making an Amish sampler - so you'd recommend that black over a Kona or some sorts? I'm planning a whole lot of white (black) space in mine, so I need it to be good. Oh, and yes, I tried those blades this summer and threw them away after one cut.

barb said...

Your amish quilt is gorgeous!! The small town i live in has a huge amish community. They have no quilt stores but they do have a discount grocery store. Once a year they have a quilt auction and it is something to behold! I have always been drawn to their lifestyle.
Did your quilt come in a kit? If not have you thought about making kits? Thank you for a wonderful blog i really enjoy it. Barbara

LynCC said...

Life is definitely different when folks are home for the holidays. I love my kids dearly and miss them MUCh when they're gone at college, but I'm good at finding my rhythm with just me and the cats at the house every day. It'll be comforting to get my days back on track even though I'll be sad that colleges keep them away for such long stretches! lol

Oh - hey - I just last week tried out this sharpener Bonnie Hunter reviewed:


So far I'm finding it beneficial. I put an EXTREMELY dull Olfa blade through it - couldn't even cut a single layer of fabric by the time it hit the sharpener - and it works again. Loses its edge far more quickly than a new blade, but I just whir it through the machine again. I'm figuring this will cut my blade purchases down significantly. It's supposed to do all 3 popular quilt-blade sizes. Haven't tried it yet on my bitty blades.

Denise :) said...

I had heard unsatisfactory things about the Harbor Freight blades, too. Too bad -- makes you wonder how in the world those things cut carpet! I see a new saying coming along soon, something about real men, rotary cutters and quilting and/or carpeting. Love the bold colors in your new project! And that Smitty -- such a curious character! :)

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

Thank you, maybe I will decide to purchase the finishing fabric for my Amish BOM. I was worried about so much black but it might be OK.

Colleen said...

I LOVE this quilt! Amish designs have always fascinated me! Two of my UFOs from the 1990's are a set of Amish style 12" blocks in different patterns and a set of 9 patches. I'm pinning your setting because I love it! Thanks for the inspiration. BTW Smitty always make me smile. He reminds me of my late boy cat Opus. Boy cats are the best!

BizyStitches said...

I've used the cutters from Harbor Freight and love them. I haven't changed the blade in probably a year and it is still sharp and cuts just fine. I must have gotten a great batch and still have several blades unopened waiting to be used. Sorry yours didn't work out for you.

Corlia du Preez said...

Beautiful quilt, I love the strong colors. I have a big EXTREMELY dull blade problem. Out of the packet they are wonderfully sharp, but after a few cuts they start to dull noticeably and very quickly. Can my cutting mat be the problem? It was exposed to the sun and got all wobbly but I managed to flatten it out.

kathy-o said...

Absolutely gorgeous quilt! The pattern is perfect for the Amish solids. What is that pattern? I have scads of patterns but this is a "must have". Lovely...

Kate Brown said...

I love your Amish quilt!! The first quilts I made many years ago were Amish quilts. I just loved them. I am looking foward to seeing yours all finished! I buy my replacement blades on ebay at a fraction of the cost and they are very sharp and last quite awhile. If you are interested I will see if I can find the seller I got them from.

Nanna said...

love the quilt, the black makes all the colors pop! beautiful!

quiltzyx said...

The Amish sampler is quite spectacular! You really did get a bunch of sewing done in a day too.
Both cats look like they're glad to be back in the sewing room too. :D