Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer Days in the Basement!

You know I spent the last few days conflicted…wanting to join with friends on a quilty trip to TN, passing on that due to an extremely close deadline list…wanting to sew on THIS, but needing to sew on THAT…and all around me, other things calling my name.

It seems when there are too many things on the “To Do” list, that the only way I can handle it without flying around like a headless chicken is to write everything down, pick ONE THING, put blinders on ---- and go for it. A little bit of progress on lots of things just does not give me the same feeling of satisfaction as much as BIG progress on ONE thing does.

Too many things, and I start to feel like the old rocker knob on top of my pressure cooker ----feeling like I’m going to blow at any moment!

So. It’s a GOOD thing I stayed home. It’s a good thing my feet hurt enough to slow me down a bit. It’s a good thing to knock these things off my list one at a time and SEE the progress! I’m a method girl….assembly line girl…pick one thing and go for it, and that’s what I’ve been doing!

I went out to dinner with Lisa the other night…this was inside my fortune cookie!

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See? The Universe is trying to tell me something!

One thing that helps me stay focused when sewing is to listen to books on my MP3 player that I download from my library. Right now I’m listening to the Jack Reacher series. Awesome. Ex-Army Military Cop and a bunch of who dunnit scenarios as he travels around. I’m hooked on these, and I don’t know what I’ll do when I have listened to them all. The author is Lee Child. If you like action and intrigue, you’ll like these!

And I can sew and sew and sew and listen, and not have to look up to a TV, or get distracted by what MIGHT be going on in email or facebook ;c)

And I’m using my cheddar bowties as incentive to keep going on other projects! My pile is growing!

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These are turning out SO cute! And while I was cutting for these, a light bulb went off…we are talking 2” squares and 1 1/4” squares….what do I have in the stash that could really be used up for these? Oh Boy…

Out came the string bin….and the bin with hunks and chunks that hadn’t been cut into bricks or squares yet…pieces that were too short to be strips. Pieces that had been given to me by quilters with the challenge of “If any one will use this --- BONNIE will!”

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Do you SEE this mess!? And I know..there were a lot of other things demanding my attention, but if I could tackle this ONE THING I’d feel so much better! ((Yes, at this point I was technically avoiding the "to do" list...but I wanted to be in control of this ONE THING!))

I started pulling a few pieces that would work for the bow ties…just a few…and ironing them…

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See that one brown/cheddar calico?? It’s a 1970’s piece and I love it!! It’s going to be so cute…These pieces weren’t large, not long enough to be strips, and they ended up in WITH a bunch of strings because I didn’t know what to do with them…

I dug through and pretty soon had a whole basket of things just for bow-ties!

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I’ll pull from this basket as I need to, it’s sitting right under my ironing board…but I’ve got lots of fun vintage stuff in here as well as recycled pieces from shirts, and repros and old calicoes and just stuff that will be so cute as bow-ties. I keep reminding myself this is not a project with a size limit or a deadline. It’s leader/ender friendly and that is how they are growing. But it’s nice to see them coming together in between the lines of power sewing. I can use the bow-tie pieces as “markers” even in between long lines of chain piecing, sewing a bow tie piece every 10 or 25 units just to help me count how far I’ve gone.

But that wasn’t the end of it…..after I pulled the fabrics I could use for the bow-ties..I was still left with THIS STRING MESS!

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Do you SEE this mountain!?? I have no clue how it even stayed contained inside that bin! LOL!

I’ve been working on several different string projects lately, and it’s a good thing..because I want to sew this stuff up! But I needed a way to organize it better. Can you organize strings? Oh yes you can, and I did!

I sorted into color families! The quilts I’ve been working on have specific color plans, and it was a PAIN to dig through the strings having to find the color I needed. Is this a bit obsessive/compulsive? Maybe so. Is this going to lead to insanity? MAYBE SO!

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This is the contents of that messy bin…From left to right I’ve got “recycled shirt strings” then Pinks, Reds, Neutral, Brown, Yellow, Orange, Purple, Green & Black. Now the strings will be easily accessible for projects I’ve got in the works. And oh, the variety is SO FUN! When you are playing with strictly color, ANYTHING GOES as long as it is within that color family, so the weirder and more ugly the fabric is, the more fun it is to stick it in there.

And you also find out really quickly what you have MORE OF than anything else:

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Blues- Navy to Aqua/Turquoise! I see a LOT of blue string quilts in my future…which is okay by me! This whole Ikea bag is FULL of blues. I love Ikea bags. Note to self – I need some more!

Oh. And I threw stuff AWAY. Yes I did….anything questionable, or that felt terrible to the touch…it just WENT. Good riddance, no guilt. That big bin with the green flip top? It now sits EMPTY! I'll find a purpose for it, but it's nice not having the string disaster in there anymore.

But I won’t be stringing today…..today…..I’m tackling about 800 more half square triangles!

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Gotta use up more of those blues and yellows! Yes, each stack has 100 pre-cut pairs ready to be sewn together this morning! Like I said..I’m an assembly line girl, and I better get down to it!


  1. Great ideas, I am in a quandary at the moment, so many potential projects but no deadlines. I work so much better when I have a date to work too. Too many options leads to nothing getting done!!

  2. I like the idea of using your bowties to mark a set number in your chain piecing (and you weren't kidding about having a lot of that to do today--WOW!).
    If sorting strings by color is OCD, I've been riding that train for a long time!!
    Really curious now to see what all those HST become. Oh the suspense of it all--who needs a novel?

  3. I'm exhausted just thinking about everything you accomplished... congratulations!!

  4. Congrats to you on getting even more organized! I'm an organization girl (I think that is what drew me to your website in the first place), so I'm thinking you did awesome, and not OCD at all! If being more organized helps you to make use of your stash, then it is a good thing. The strings look much more appealing sorted by color than when they were just a huge mess in the bin!

    I hope you get to check one or two more things off your list!

  5. Oh!!! I want to play in the string bags!!!! They look so inviting sitting there in all those yummy colors! My string stash is growing but it doesn't look anything like yours yet.

    Think I'll take your advice today and stay focused on ONE thing .... finally got back to working on my blue-and-white pineapple blossoms from your workshop & hope to get them done at sit-n-sew today - YAY!!! Have a wonderfully focused day! =^..^=

  6. My first reaction was "Holy Cow" and then "Wow" you actually tamed the beast! Not sure if I am jealous of your stash or glad I have way less but I am very impressed to say the least at what you accomplish!! I guess it is a good thing your feet aren't moving much!! Love the bow ties, I may have to accquire some Cheddar.............G

  7. All I have to say is Bless your heart...You are one amazing woman.

  8. I am absolutely hooked on Lee Child's books --- have to hope that I don't have a lot on my agenda, cause I can hardly put them down (haven't moved to the new techi stuff). I am anxiously awaiting the next one. I'm more of a "make a little progress on a lot" person, but often have to switch to the "finish" side of my personality. Like the idea of separating the strings --- will try that soon.

  9. Awesome bags of strings. Makes my fingers want to dive in. I am going to take your advise and focus on a task and try to get it done. I've been doing a little on several projects and lately it just isn't working for me. :)
    Happy stitching

  10. Bonnie, you really need to settle down.

  11. Love Jack Reacher.......did you hear they are gonna make the books into movies? YES and Tom Cruse is gonna be Jack......that is not how I imagined Reacher! I might not be able to watch the movies!

    Great work getting organized I so need to do that...but here I sit playing on the computer!
    I bet your machine is smoking with HST racing through.

    Happy Sewing

  12. I just got up and am ready for a nap already. Your energy makes me tired...I made a BUNCH of HST's yesterday, but mine were a bit bigger. Gotta get my thrift store shirts cut for background, then I can sew bowties too. It's ok that they aren't 100% cotton, right? 65%-80% on the labels.

  13. you take my breath away with your energy and ambition but I got lots of ideas from you. haven't made a string quilt and need some color courses (love scrappy but am uncomfortable with it when I try to do on - accent on the try) tend to organize pretties and blendies together which doesn't always work. AND, I am blown away by the number of followers you have - I have 160! Good on you - be very proud. vicki from vancouver island, bc, canada

  14. I need you to come organize me!

    If you like the Jack Reacher series then you should try Brad Thor and Vince Flynn. Read the Vince Flynn books--Mitch Rapp series, in order. The Vince Flynn books are probably only available via cd which you will need to rip to your computer and transfer to your iPod in order to listen to them. It's a bit of a pain, but well worth it.

    Have you tried any of Nevada Barr's series? They are all set in different National Parks.

  15. Go, Bonnie, Go! I should organize my crazy string stash, but that would involve actually owning up to the rediculous amounts that I have stashed in several different spots....maybe one day I will be that brave!

  16. Anonymous12:17 PM EDT

    What a treasure in that bin! Seeing the little pile you ironed for the bowties makes my head spin with ideas. Nobody will put all of that to better use than you will.

    Don't worry about being OCD - you're nowhere near that just by sorting strings by color. You should see my piles of squares, bricks, and strips. They're not just stored - they're *filed* in plastic shoeboxes and they're beyond OCD. :) You have a long way to go before you tip over the edge of that cliff!

    Here's to another productive day for all of us!

    Leah Shannon

  17. What a coincidence! I am in re-organizing/cleaning mode in my sewing room this week and had a similar very large box of strings! I enlisted the resident child labor to sort them by color (got them off the computer games as a bonus!) and 4 hours later...9 smaller boxes of perfectly sorted usable strips! Hooray!! Excellent exchange for $5 and 3 ice cream cones!

  18. Your strings sorted by color are such a pretty site. I see a series of beautiful monochromatic quilts in your future! I've also got my string and crumbs divided into rainbow order and stuffed into decorative jars. When a jar starts to overflow, I know what I need to use up next!

  19. OOOh sooo great fabrics!!! When you like don't more this fabrics, so send it me, PLEASE;))))
    Hugs, Rita;))

  20. Wouldn't it be fun to put the purple, green, and orange together! I have a daughter who'd love that!

  21. I'm a huge Jack fan! I just finished book 11 (audio). I was and am on the waiting list for book 9 from my library (as a mp3/wma download). I was on the list for more than 2 months! Good grief does everyone download/checkout for 3 weeks? I went on vacation and #9 became available to me...but I didn't have internet access at the cabin and didn't know. MR didn't check email at home for 4 days and we missed out! You have to respond to the hold within 3 days! We were #6 the last time I checked, so I went ahead and listened to 10 and 11. #12 is waiting on my ipod, but I'm presently listening to David Baldacci, The Whole Truth. The last Kindle book you recomended write-up said it is on par with Baldacci. Half way through, and it's ok, but not Jack, lol.
    One of your other commenters said there are plans for movies with Tom Cruise! That does not work for me. 6' 5" 230 to 250 lbs. is a big man. My Uncle was 6'5" as is a great nephew although they were/are thinner. I think they need someone a little beefier.
    I love, love, love organization, may be ocd, and love me that way. I try not to get cranky when things are messy, but sometimes it really irritates me...then I'm being ocd for sure.
    Enjoying watching (via blog) all you accomplish. Thanks for the inspiration!

  22. Hmmm, that is LOT of strings! But if the scrappy string blocks are fun to make, the monochromatic ones are even MORE fun!!

    Gina in Missouri

  23. Anonymous4:23 PM EDT

    I love the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child.

  24. I bought 8 yards of Cheddar! Not a color I have anywhere in my stash. I rolled it up on an empty bolt after cutting a few strips to start the L&E event. I dug through my 2" bin and cut a few BowTie units. I have them all stacked in a small basket. I like your idea to use them as "markers".
    I would be in OCD heaven with how you have organized your strings. I have been making more pet beds. I have used up every leftover piece of batting in my home!
    Have a great day sewing.
    Oh I have a question...are you doing your Bowties in groups of 4 alike? The 7" cut I made from each strip in my 2" bin makes one bowtie and an extra square....XOXOX Subee

  25. Love Reacher. My husband and I have read all of the ones in our library and found multiple at closeout audio book sales. Good luck with your current project and all those that are in the queue.

  26. I think the time you spent sorting thru your huge string bin was definitely time well spent. Just think of the oodles of time it's going to save you now that it's all sorted. Don't you feel great now that it's done??!!

  27. Anonymous8:58 PM EDT

    Bonnie, I get tired just reading about your accomplishments! You are an inspiration, hope you have a very productive and enjoyable day.
    Rieann in Western Australia

  28. Bonnie, I can't believe that you just did what I did when I was working on RRCB, diligenty looking at my strings, etc for string piecing pieces. I grouped all of my same color pieces together in zip locks and are looking so pretty..much better than the messy bags they were in. Today stopping on the way home a Batiks ETC, I actually bought a few yards of cheddar, because I didn't really like what I was using for the bow ties...they are very small blocks finished!

    Being on vacation this week, I had made a list of quilty stuff I needed to finish/work on and marked off several! Glad you did also, but was sad you couldn't go with us..next time. When going thru one of the antique shops I spotted a tied quilt on the wall and told Kevin to email you a picture of it, but when we got closed to it changed my mind..it was pretty bad.

  29. How did you wind up with my bedroom curtains, Bonnie? ha, ha. I'm talking about the blue and rosebud stripe bowtie at the top of the page in case you're wondering...that was my bedroom curtain fabric in the 80's and early 90's.

    You must be a very good packer too because I'm shaking my head at how you got all that scrap fabric into that bin!

    Gail :)

  30. Isn't listening to a book just the most zen thing to do? Sewing and listening? I am almost always plugged in now and my family has difficulty getting my attention! Anyway, congratulations on your decluttering! I have quite a bit left to do of my own, but have at least separated my strips into sizes! Thanks for the tips.

  31. I LOVE the Lee Child books. I have read every one and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new one! Unfortunately it's very difficult to get library books to listen to through the mac... which is very annoying!

  32. Whoa quilty gal!
    I too listen to talking books, great when I am quilting.

  33. Loved seeing your organised strings!! I have my strings sorted by colours, but only have a tiny fraction of what you've accumulated. I did it so that I could easily cut out girly colours if I wanted to do a boy quilt, etc. Hope you soon get to grips with your 'to dos' :)

  34. I have started listening to the radio - lots of audio books in the archives and the odd comedy series! Happy sewing!

  35. Bonnie, Thank you so much for keeping me entertained with your quilty stories everyday! You are so very productive as an assembly-line type of gal, but I work like a butterfly, skipping from one thing to the next as I get bored. Seeing your process really helps to keep me inspired, thanks!!!

  36. Seeing those stacks containing 100 ea precut half square triangles...Bonnie, I've decided you are insane.I finally realize I will never be able to catch up with you.I would love to accomplish a fraction of what you do and my hat's off to you, but you are insane, girl!Sally in SC

  37. YUP thats how I am making my bow ties all from the scrap and strip bins
    no cutting fabric from the closets for me
    its kind of a challenge to myself to make a quilt just from the scrap basket and precut fabrics I have already
    love the row of color of scraps/strings


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