Category Archives: Goal Setting

2013-20: Autumn Log Cabin

Autumn Log CabinThis autumn toned log cabin quilt is my fall fair quilt for this year. One of my goals this year to make a quilt worthy of winning a first prize at the local fall fairs with a possibility of getting to the provincial level of competition.

How the main quilt competition operates in Ontario, Canada is thus:  A quilter enters a local fair.  When the quilter wins Grand Champion, Machine Quilting or Grand Champion, Hand Quilting (one of each at every fair), then that quilt goes on to the district competition later in the fall.  The quilt then competes against about 20 quilts at the district competition.  The winner of the district competition goes on to the Provincial level of competition in February where the winners of all 15 districts in Ontario compete for the provincial championship.  To win the provincial championship is a great honour!    I figure if I continue to improve my quilting skills, someday I might win at the provincial level!  It’s good to have a goal!

This Autumn Log Cabin quilt contains approximately 4720 pieces.  It took much longer to make than I anticipated.   For every stage, it took longer than I thought: cutting the fabrics, block construction, top assembly, borders, quilting and binding.   I wanted to give up several times, but I forced myself to stick with it.  And now it is done!!!  Hooray!

Here is a photo of the quilting, a design called Majestic Pines by Donna Kleinke of One Song Needle Arts.  All of the fabric in the blocks is from my stash.  When you cut the fabric up for 1/2 inch logs, you can use up a lot of small pieces of stash!

This quilt won Grand Champion, Machine Quilting at the Rosseau Fall Fair and at the Arthur Fall Fair.    My niece Hillary and her husband Gonzalo chose this quilt as their wedding quilt.


Work in Progress: Log Cabin – Update

??????????The log cabin quilt is progressing nicely.  The top is complete and it is now on the machine.  The quilting is quite dense and I can complete three blocks per hour.  There are still a few rows to quilt, so I will be spending a bit more time on this, but expect to have it complete tomorrow.  I’ll put the french fold binding on the front and then take it with me to the cottage for the weekend, where I can hand stitch the binding to the back at a leisurely pace.

Quilting Detail

The quilting design is Majestic Pines by Donna Kleinke of One Song Needle Arts.  I love both the artistic nature and the density of her designs.  The outdoor woodsy theme of this design suits this quilt well.

Work in Progress: Log Cabin

Log Cabin Blocks

Finally!!!  I have finished Log 21 of a group of 320  log cabin blocks that are destined to be my fall fair entry this year.  The blocks finish at 5.5 inches, with each log being a half inch wide.   When I started this project, it seemed like a great idea, but along about log 13, I was seriously questioning the wisdom of selecting this quilt pattern with such small logs.  Each log took an average of 8.5 hours to sew and press.  Multiply that by 21 logs and that is a lot of time spent on these blocks!

I typically post about a quilt only when it is finished – done done with the binding on.  However, I am so proud of myself for sticking to this project, that I have to celebrate their completion.  Many other gorgeous quilts have sung their siren songs, tempting me to abandon this one and dive into a new one.  But no, I resisted, held fast and conquered Block 21!  Hooray!

Tomorrow, I will play with layouts on my design wall.  I already have two good options, but want to be sure before I start the assembly of the top.  My choice of layout will likely be affected by how I decide to quilt this one.  Since this will be a competition quilt, I have to quilt it with dense custom quilting.  I will choose a layout that supports a design that I can do well within a maximum of two days quilting time.

There will not be a lot of dithering time since I have entered this quilt in my guild’s September quilt show.   The September date lulled me into thinking I had lots of time to get this finished.  But no, I don’t!  The quilt has to be ready for photography on Thursday of this coming week.  That gives me four days:  One to assemble the top, two to quilt it and one to hand stitch the binding.   Yikes!  I will be very busy this week finishing this finished.  No rest for the wicked, they say.  I have always wanted to be a wicked woman.  I must be on track to achieve that goal!  LOL!

2012-34: Flowered Table Runner

Flowered Table Runner

In an effort to finish up a few projects before my goal completion date of December 31, I spent the day machine quilting five small projects. One of them got to the finished stage with binding completed.

This table runner started out as three “Quilt As You Go” blocks given to me by my friend Jacqueline when she purged her sewing stash.  I finished up the blocks, added the narrow green sashing and then mounted the runner on the long arm with an additional backing to quilt it as a unit.  Some quilters see QAYG as a simple method of quilting, but for me, it does not hold the same appeal.  I will go out of my way to avoid the hand work required by the Quilt As You Go method!

The quilting was done in an all-over meander with Rheingold Heavy Metal gold metallic thread and Bottom Line in the bobbin.  The gold thread adds a bit of festive sparkle to the table runner.  The binding was applied to the back by machine and top-stitched to the front with matching thread.  I tend to use Superior MonoPoly in the bobbin when top-stitching  binding, so the machine binding looks very good on the front and the thread is invisible on the reverse side of the binding.

This runner will be donated to the Hand Made table at our local fair.  The proceeds of this silent auction table go to support the operation of the fair.


Quilting for the Community: Strip Challenge

Strip Challenge Bags

Completed packages of fabric for the Strip Challenge

When I somewhat naively agreed to become chair of my guild’s Community Outreach Committee in June, I expected that the guild stash would have to be stored at my house, but I had no idea of the size of the stash.  The biggest surprise to me though, was the amount of stress the guild stash would add to my life.  Try to visualize the storage requirements for two large rolls of batting, six large Rubbermaid totes, three medium sized totes, 12 large flip top storage containers, several cardboard boxes and four large IKEA bags of fabric.   Visual clutter stresses me and the cacophony of random styles, colours and lengths of fabrics was truly overwhelming.  My own stash, although beautifully color organized and accessible on open shelves, is large enough that it giving me waves of pleasure and a tinge of guilt when I gaze upon it.  I have been working hard at using my stash and acquiring only the very basic necessities of borders and backings.  Having another large stash suddenly descend upon me has taken a toll on my quilting serenity!

I knew that if I were to survive the year, I had to get an immediate handle on the fabrics, quilts and flimsies. The finished quilts were easy.  We quickly sorted them according to the needs of several organizations and have now distributed 90 quilts.  The flimsies have all been matched with backing and binding and have been distributed to guild members for quilting and binding.  The fabric pieces were another story entirely.  There was such variety in the fabrics, that it was difficult to pull pieces to make coordinated quilts.   Since my personal favorite quilt is a scrap quilt, the best idea was to cut them into strips and create a strip challenge.  During the summer and early fall, we cut up several bins of fabric into 2.5 inch strips.  We sorted fabrics into color families and them began cutting one color at a time.   Day 1, we cut up all of the small pieces.  Day 2 we progressed to yardage, which is much easier and faster to cut.

Beverley pressing fabrics

Beverley pressing fabric yardage

When the fabrics were rough cut to the size of the strip cutter die, Beverley pressed the fabric pieces.

Jean using strip cutter die on Aqququilt Studio

Jean used the 2.5 inch strip cutter die on the  AqquQuilt Studio die cutter.

Jean cut huge piles of strips.  Another guild member, Christine spelled her off to cut enormous quantities of strips.

Strips on Counter

We filled about 30 cafeteria trays and box lids with strips  after the first day of production cutting.

Jacqueline color coordinationJacqueline, a graphic designer by trade and artist by vocation spent two days with us pulling groups of fabrics to make color coordinated kits for guild members to sign out.  Jacqueline aimed for lights, mediums and darks in each package.  Each kit contained slightly less than one pound of fabric, more than enough for one lap quilt.  Notice the large kitchen scale that Jacqueline is using to ensure sufficient fabric.  (In addition to being a quilter, Jacqueline is also a very accomplished potter.  This is the scale she uses to measure her clay.)

The challenge called for the guild member to create a flimsie, sized approximately 40″ by 60″,  using the fabrics in the kit with the optional addition of one fabric of any color or print from the quilter’s own stash.  The quilter was encouraged to make 9 patch blocks with any left-over strips.   We created 36 kits to be signed out, completed and returned by the December guild meeting for a show and viewers choice voting.   The challenge was a resounding success!  It was very interesting to see what guild members could do with found fabrics of a very scrappy nature.   I was astonished at the variety of designs created for this challenge.

For me, one of the biggest benefits of the challenge is that we emptied two large totes of fabric, cut up all of the small pieces and made the guild stash much more manageable!

Over the next few days, I’ll blog several of the quilts that I made from the strips.

Linking Goals and Rewards

One of the key elements of both teaching and parenting is to reward what you value, the behavior you want to see repeated.   In our house, we have consistently rewarded academic achievement and not surprisingly, we have two educated children. Sometimes adults tend to downplay the celebration and rewards for goal achievement.  I now ignore the little voice in my head that says enthusiastic celebration is a tad childish and instead make a conscious choice to celebrate my achievement of goals.

So how does this apply to quilting?

In 2011, I set myself a goal of completing one project per week throughout the year, for a total of 52 completed projects.    It was an ambitious project and I worked hard to complete the 52.   To sweeten the pot and keep me motivated, I set a reward of a trip to the 2012 AQS Paducah Quilt Festival if I completed my goal.  I was proud of myself for accomplishing the goal by Dec 31, 2011.  This s week, I am feeling thrilled about that achievement because this is quilt week in Paducah, Kentucky.

While this is indeed a big reward for a big accomplishment, there is equal value in setting small rewards for small accomplishments.   For 2012, I’m going to figure out some smaller rewards to keep me motivated throughout the year.  Awesome!  Hooray! You did it!  Wouldn’t it be great if we all heard that more often?   Perhaps consistent self acknowledgement and self-reward would be an effective quilting motivation technique.  I plan to experiment!


Indulging My Impulses: Sewing Progress

At the end of 2011, my cupboard of unquilted flimsies was blissfully empty.  I worked hard at completing all of the tops I had on hand and was pumped that I completed my goal.  In fact, I was so proud of my accomplishment, I took a photo of my empty flimsie cupboard.



Getting all those tops quilted felt great.  The little quilting angel on my shoulder kept cheering “You go, girl!”  Mind you, I still had quite a few projects in process UFOs (Unfinished Objects) and WIPs (Works in Progress) in another cupboard that still needed my attention.  Because I cleaned up so many projects in 2011, I decided for 2012 to lighten the focus on unfinished projects and allow myself to create new quilts.      I took some time to ponder the many possibilities and while pondering, kept working on the UFOs.  The trouble is, I like the feeling of cleaning up the old projects so much that I just keep working on the UFOs.

I have not started a single new project, but I do have finished tops and several sets of blocks.  For some unknown reason, I have been in a sewing and piecing mood for the last two months and have not felt much like quilting.   I am not sure why.  Perhaps I just  enjoyed the feeling of ticking another UFO off the list.  I have no pressing deadlines for finished quilts, so I decided to simply indulge my desire to sew and piece.  Quilting and binding can wait for another day.  Maybe I’ll feel more like quilting in April.

Over the years, I have learned that it is better for me to wait until I am completely finished the project before I show it publicly.  When I take an unfinished top to quilt guild for Show and Tell, invariably it will take several months longer to get it quilted.  So , knowing myself, I won’t let myself post a project until it is done-done.   Sigh!  That means I have not had any finished projects to show you.

So what can I do to show you how productive I have been?  Wait… I can give you a peek into my flimsie cupboard!  The roll-out tray that was empty on December 31st now contains 10 flimsies waiting for quilting.  Six are large quilts, three are baby or lap sized and one small table runner sits on top.  I have another quilt top on the design wall that I hope will be finished by Tuesday evening.

Hmmm…  Sounds like I might need to turn my attention to the quilting.

What can I do to get started?  Something small would not be too difficult.  Okay, I can do something small.  I will make a commitment to cut batting and prepare backings for the four small projects by Thursday evening this week.  These smaller quilts would be good warm-up projects to generate quilting momentum and enthusiasm.  And that is the first step to getting and keeping my mojo – just getting started!  I know that once I get moving on a project, I will enjoy every moment and soon I will have some finished projects to show you.

In the meantime, over the next couple of weeks, I am going post a series of tools and techniques that keep me progressing on my quilt goals.   That, too, will nudge me towards finishing my current projects.

Goal Setting for 2012

Goal-driven people tend to set goals to work towards throughout the year. I am definitely someone motivated by goals.   My habit has been to sit down on New Years Day to set my goals for the coming year.  This year, I decided to take a different approach.

For me, a new year is a clean slate. What do I want to do? There are so many possibilities, so many quilting projects I want to make.  Each time I look through a quilting magazine, I see something that catches my interest.  I look at my fabric stash and see the potential for hundreds..nay, thousands of projects.  I watch Show And Tell at my guild meeting and feel the inspiration of new ideas buzzing around my brain.

During 2011, I committed to tackling my UFOs, finishing one project per week throughout the year.  Being a goal-driven person, I did meet my goal of 52 completed projects.  That is a substantial number!  However, that number is only a small fraction of the many projects on my wish list.  The unfortunate reality is that I will never live long enough to make all of the quilts that are running around in my mind. With each passing year, I become ever more aware of the shortness of life.  I had better make the best of the years that I have remaining.  My family has great longevity genes, but it might be unrealistic to count on actively quilting until age 115.  Nope!  That won’t work!   Do I really want to spend my limited lifetime working on projects that someone else plans for me?  Or an orphaned project I bought at a yard sale?   Hmmm… Gives one food for thought, doesn’t it?   Perhaps a better use of my time would be to work on the projects that are important to me, to quilt my own legacy, to select projects that fit my personal goals.  A new year, a new beginning – a great time to take a new approach.

This year, I decided to focus my quilting efforts, considering my projects very carefully.   Deciding what projects to put on my list has been an exercise in both selection and elimination.  I took a two weeks to consider and set my goals for the year.   Then I allowed another week of reflection time to ensure the goals still sit comfortably in my soul.

My process for decision making included the following:

  1. Review the current status of my UFOs
  2. Review what commitments I have made
  3. Review what gifts I want to give this year
  4. Decide what new techniques I want to experiment with this year
  5. Decide what projects are important to me to complete

Here is my thought process and resulting goals:

I emptied my UFOs cupboard and carefully considered each of them. Which ones do I love?  Which ones are calling me loudly to finish them?   Last year, I made great strides whittling down the pile of flimsies and UFOs.  I finished 52 with another 38 remaining in the que. However, this year I will not pressure myself to finish UFOs.  I will commit to finishing five UFOs.   If inspiration calls and time allows, I might finish more, but they will be bonus.

I reviewed  the  commitments I have made to others:

  • Two more quilts tops that I have promised to quilt for my mother.
  • Table Runner for a cousin
  • I’d like to complete three donation quilts this year.  One will be a quilt donated to raise funds for the small rural fall fair at our cottage in Northern Ontario.  I will keep the other two quilts uncommitted at this point so that I can donate when I want to be generous to a particular cause.

I reviewed the gifts I want to make:

  • I owe one wedding quilt.  The bride is an interior designer and she is special to me.  I want to make a quilt to suit her decor and have it completed by spring 2012.
  • My best friend is getting married in late summer.  She is very dear soul and I want to make her something extra special, something that communicates to her how much I have valued our friendship.
  • Spontaneously giving baby quilts is something I enjoy.  I like to have a pile of finished quilts so I can select one that seems right for the mother and baby.  Right now, my stash of baby quilts is a bit low.   Making 15 baby quilts would give me sufficient to have on hand.  They make up more quickly than bed size quilts, so that amount is quite manageable.

I pondered what new techniques I want to learn:
Recently I have been itching to play with metallic threads.  I want to try couching with specialty threads and experiment with thread painting and specialty needles.  While I was working on my UFOs in 2011, I encouraged myself to completion by promising myself the playtime in 2012.   So my reward will be to indulge myself with time to both experiment and master specialty threads.

I considered what projects are important to me:
I really enjoy fall fairs, both participating in them and seeing the exhibits entered by other people.  I want to support my fall fairs – at home and at the cottage by entering as much as possible into the fair.  Fairs are healthy and vibrant when they have many entries.  The cottage fair has been a source of great joy and fun for our family.  Because I want to ensure the fair is still active when I eventually have grandchildren, I need to contribute to the fairs now by entering and volunteering.  With this in mind, I went through the fall fair lists and made note of the entries that interested me.  This year, I am committed to make items specifically for entry into the fall fair.  There are many options for small quilted projects such as tote bags, pot holders, table toppers, place mats, casserole carriers, wall hangings, etc, in addition to the larger standard quilts.  In the past, I have mostly entered bed-sized quilts, but this year, I will make a conscious effort to also make 20 smaller projects.

One of the original goals of fall fairs was to encourage the development of skills.  With that in mind, I make it a point of ensuring that my entries are better each year.   With every year of experience, I learn more about what judges are looking for in a quilt, and in turn, I work on developing my own skills.  I have never worried whether or not I won a prize.  I just like the fair experience.  It gives me incentive to finish projects for entry.  Done is good!   I have won best of show a few times, and admit to being quite surprised each time, because the quilts were just normal quilts – nothing special.  However, I really liked the experience of winning best of show with the accompanying rosette and better yet, the gift certificate to my favorite quilt store.  When one of my quilts went on to win first prize at district level too, I began to think perhaps I ought to try to produce a quilt I also believe is worthy of Best of Show.    In fact, setting out to make my best possible quilt, would meet the original intention of fall fairs – encouraging a participant  to develop more skill and raising the overall quality of quilting and needlework in the community.  So in addition to the small projects, I intend to make a quilt year that I consider to be a masterpiece.    This might end up being the wedding quilt for my best friend, but she will have to wait till after fall fair season is over before she gets it!   If it wins, she will have to wait longer till it after the district competition in late fall and then if it wins there, till after provincial competition in February 2013.   Waiting is hard, but she is the best kind of friend and I know she would wish me good luck anyway!  LOL!

Goal Summary:
5 UFOs
3 Previously committed projects
3 Donation Quilts
15 Baby Quilts
1Wedding quilt
1 Masterpiece Wedding Quilt
20 Small Quilted items for Fall Fair
4 Large Quilts for Fall Fair
Total – 52 projects

When I totaled the list,  I was surprised to see the same target number as in 2011.  This tells me the number is within reason – a stretch, but not so much that it becomes discouraging.  The big difference in 2012 is that they will have to be finished much earlier in the year, given that I will need many of them ready for the fall fair season.

Next Steps:
Setting a goal is making a commitment to myself and I want to keep my promises to myself.  When my promises are realistic, achievable and congruent with my personal goals, I am setting myself up for success.   Taking the time to figure out what is important to me has helped me to clarify what I really want to do and more importantly, what I don’t want to do.  It gives me focus for the meaningful and eliminates the less important distractions that could keep me from accomplishing my goals.    Projects that do not fit these goals can be set aside until 2013.   When inspiration inevitably comes and my natural enthusiasm wants to jump into a new project, I will make notes and diagrams in my log book on a page titled “Projects to consider in 2013”.       That is not too long to wait – only 49 weeks away!

Companion Quote:
“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”  Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of United States.

Quest to Complete

If the saying is true, “To quilt is human, to finish, divine”, then I am definitely human.  There are many moments when I long for the divine feeling of completion of at least half of my projects.  At the start of 2011, a count of UFOs  (Unfinished Objects) leaves me in the embarrassing position of 80 projects in varying stages of completion. It is not that I neglect my projects, but rather that creative ideas come so quickly.  Luscious fabrics inspire and before I know it, I am deep into yet another project.  And I like BIG quilts. They take a lot longer than just an evening or a weekend.   Sometimes I get them done.   But more often, another creative flash pulls my attention away from the current project into the next one.   Being able to indulge one’s creative whims adds great joy to life.  But there comes a time when it is time to complete the Current Projects, Those On Deck, Works in Progress and UFOs.  Now is the time.  No excuses accepted.  I have to finish my projects before I can start into any new projects.  My goal for 2011 is to complete 52 projects – an average of one per week.  I have made progress throughout the first 8 months of the year, but not at the speed I need to meet my goal.  So time to get cracking, speed up and be accountable for my goals.  This blog will help to keep me on track.  So far, I have completed 20 projects, with 32 more to finish.  Can I do it?  If I keep myself in my sewing room and out of fabric stores, I might have a chance!  This blog will have posts that give a summary of each project as I complete it as well as posts about the tools, techniques and supports that help keep me moving toward my goal.  Don’t worry about my late start on the blog and missing the first 8 months of the year…I will do a photo summary of each project over the next month so you can see what I have completed to date.

Any suggestions, tips and encouragement to keep me moving forward would be delightfully welcomed.  I have a feeling that a massive pile of UFOs is a very common challenge for us creative types!

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