Take the A-Train — Finished!!!

Well, I finally finished my Riley Blake Challenge quilt. And, boy, was this a labor of…something. I love the end result, and at times I loved the process. But there were other times I just wanted to throw it across the room and forget this whole crazy quilting thing. I’m glad the deadline kept me going, but it might be awhile before I participate in another challenge.

Finished - Take the A-Train

The finished quilt measures 70″ x 84″. The top is improv pieced with special attention so there is no 1 single seam the whole length or width of the quilt; so there was a lot of partial seams! I knew I wanted to quilt it on the denser side, so I went with Quilter’s Dream Orient for the batting. I have mixed feelings about that too. It’s a dream now that its done, lovely drape, nice and warm, but it shed like crazy over the quilt top and everything else. I’m still finding little cream fuzz balls on everything within 15 ft of my sewing table. I’ll probably use it again someday, but only on special quilts.

Back - Take the A-Train

For the quilting, I chose to do rectangular spirals that started around individual pieces and overlapped. To avoid turning the quilt 5,496,596 times, I used my FMQ foot. There was a definite learning curve with doing straight lines all hand guided. The first spirals show it too. The last ones are very close to straight, so practice does definitely make better.

Tape really helps with straight lines...
Tape really helps with straight lines…

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the whole process. I love the finished quilt – Love, Love, Love! But now I’m left with this kind of blergh feeling. Not sure on the next project, no sewing mojo. My machine is going into the shop tomorrow, so maybe the separation will return my mojo. 😀

Machine Stitched Binding

On the name – My husband has decided that all my quilts should be named after songs. Since it’s improv piecing, apparently that means its a Jazz quilt. And when you start playing Jazz, you riff on the standards. His favorite standard is Take the A-Train. So, the quilt is named Take the A-Train, which is much better than my choice – Big Bird.

tree shot - Take the A Train

Also, somehow I made a cat magnet quilt. My cat won’t get off it, and while we were taking pictures two neighborhood cats came to investigate. Maybe its the neon yellow…

Woody love it!

New Year, already?

I’m not really one for recaps. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing others … I’m just too lazy to put together one for myself.

My real accomplishment this year was finishing “Dancing in September” to show at the quilt show in Lowell in August. To me, at least, it was a big deal. I had an idea for a quilt, and knew I wanted to make one for the show specifically. I had the fabric already – just had to find the time. The week before the show my husband was on a business trip, so I got to let the quiltiness explode over the entire apartment. So, I made the quilt – in a week. It’s not as heavily quilted as I originally wanted. And the backing is not as straight as I would have wanted. And the binding corners… and and and and. There’s always something wrong that we see, but others don’t.

please ignore the step ladder -- I'm short
please ignore the step ladder — I’m short

After living with and using this quilt every day for the last 4 months, I can honestly say that I don’t care about those things anymore. They’re all covered up with wrinkles, cat hair, and a few drops of chocolate ice cream. I’ve gotten to curl up under it every night, every time I was sick and it always always cheers me up.

The thing is, this was the first quilt I made for me, just because. And the first I kept. And depending on how you define quilt (with actual binding on?) this was either the second or fourth quilt I ever made. I made a few quilt tops, started even more, planned uncountable, but finished? That, it turns out, I’m not so good with. 😀

So I guess, 2013 was the year I really became a quilter. And here’s the pic to prove it:

My husband refuses to take serious pictures - and he's really funny
My husband refuses to take serious pictures – and he’s really funny


(my husband asked me to clarify — the quiltiness always explodes over the apartment, he just wasn’t around to complain about it, so it got out of hand… 😀 )

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

A few weeks ago was the September BMQG meeting. Since I had the shortest ride to get there of all the members, I thought it was only fair to make cookies. (I can think of lots and lots of crazy rationals to make cookies – found a whole extra stash of clean socks; only sneezed twice today; my favorite sweatshirt is clean – you get the point)

Everyone loved the cookies, but I started to feel a little guilty. The truth is – they were from a boxed mix! And how do you tell someone who thinks you worked hard that you “cheated”? I did talk with the guilty voice; I did doctor the mix considerably (there were measuring spoons involved!). But the guilty voice is still nagging. So what’s a girl to do? Post the recipe – then everyone can cheat and make delicious cookies quickly. And maybe someone will share…..

So, here is a picture of the mix:

Pumpkin Cookie Mix

It’s Pillsbury Perfectly Pumpkin cookies. Now I’ve tried this mix on its own – a little bland, but a perfectly okay cookie. I just don’t like okay cookies, so I add things, delicious things. Cinnamon chips, more spices, oatmeal. Got throw every ounce of fall in while we can, right?

So here’s the modified recipe:

1 box Pillsbury Perfectly Pumpkin Cookies
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Penzey’s baking spice (pumpkin pie spice would work, but Penzey’s has mace in it, which is delicious)
1 bag cinnamon chips
2 cups quick cook oatmeal

(totally forgot to mention – use the softened stick of butter listed on the box!!!!!)

Mix it all together. Then bake at 350F, not 375F like the box says. That hot will burn the cinnamon chips. It took about 15 minutes for a batch, but definitly keep an eye on them. If only so no one tries to steal them…