Blue Bird Sews Top Ten Tips for finishing WIP's

Hello and happy Wednesday! I thought it would be fitting to post this article about WIP's on a Wednesday the day we designate as WIP Wednesday and share what our progress looks like. It's also a chance to document what and how many quilts, clothes, baby things and sewn projects we have gotten our selves into.  I linked up with Freshly Pieced today; check it out for more WIP Wednesday inspiration. 

I've heard and read around that this year people want to finish up those stacks of WIP's in search of a more organized and focused approach to the creative process of quilting. I know for me that rings true, if I could just get some mental space around my quilting I think the ideas might start coming and time will not be so scarce. 

So on that note; here are some helpful suggestions to get you started on your WIP pile as originally posted (expect the photos are of my current WIP's not the FAL crew) at Quilter in the Gap earlier this month as part of the year long Finish A Long which you can join up with still, see the end of the article for more details about that.

There will always be new WIP’s (work’s in progress) for the quilter. New ideas to contemplate, new patterns from the best designers,  inspiration to be found from all over quilty internet blog land, new fabric to dream with and of course the stash to work from. As quilters we yearn for the next project that sparks our interest; so much so that we stay up until ungodly hours of the morning to cut, sew and press just one block out of 50 that is needed for that next quilt.  We try to finish,  oh we try really hard! But by the time all the blocks are done — well then there is sashing options, boarders to miter, sandwiching to be done, quilting (eek! even FMQ) to be tried…binding to sew. You know the list too and somewhere in the middle a WIP is born.

I love all my quilts, all my projects equally but invariably the quilts that get done are destined for a purpose. Something for my shop, a family member or Portland Modern Quilt Guild commitment. All of these are equally good reasons to finish, but what about those inspired quilts of the moment that happen all at once yet wait for months, years maybe to be completed. How to finish those? Hmmmm….
Vintage scrappy spools quilt
That was a question I had earlier this year. How on earth do I finish these umpteen quilts I have around in various stages of completion? How could I even start a new quilt with those umpteen quilts hiding in the drawers? Am I really going to buy another 1/2 yard of this awesome fabric because I wantto, what about my huge stash at home?   Now wait here, even if you don’t harbor the same kind of WIP guilt I do, read on you may find a tip that speaks to you…or please share your own with us in the comments! So with that here are some suggestions for you to use or ignore as you like.
1. Throw them out. Gently of course, slowly at first. Put the pieces into a bag and close it shut. Leave it the closet for a month or two. Open it up and ask is the world going to end if I don’t have/save/hoard this unfinished quilt? If the answer is still yes after a month then salvage what fabric you like for scraps and donate the rest. Let go of the WIP guilt.
2. Make it to donate it. Okay if number 1 freaked you out then consider finishing your quilt with the intent to donate it. There are lots of organizations that would love to pass on a quilt. Every year Kate at Swim, Bike, Quilt! hosts a 100 quilts for kids initiative and she shares a few worthy charities that need your finished WIP quilt. If you are involved with a guild check with one of your officers about the current charity they are giving to. Make some else warm and give yourself the warm fuzzies too.
Vintage 1980's fabrics 9-patch quilt
3. Try out a new technique. Okay you have a few quilt tops done and you just can’t bring yourself to quilt them out. Take a big gulp, sandwich it up (Elizabeth Hartman has a great tutorial for this) and try something new that you’ve admired. By the time you are done you will be way better than when you started and you’ll feel like a quilting queen! Another way to broaden your skills is to take a class, try improv, color play or free motion quilting. We can all benefit from learning  and doing something new!
4. Join a support group. Seriously we all need a little help to finish these languishing quilts. Besides having a blog to shout about it, there are flickr groups, Finish-it-up-Along 2013, the Threadbias community, instagram, your local quilt guildWIP Wednesday with Freshly Pieced or join a quilting bee. Having a group of people to encourage you in your work, especially when the labor part of the love of quilting kicks in will increase those chances of completing a project.
5. Get organized! You might not even know how many WIPs you currently have! (I am currently guilty of this 100%, my list isn’t many but I know there is one or two I plum forgot about!) Take a quiet moment and pull them all out onto the dinning room table or somewhere you’ve got some room. Bring out some storage like gallon zip lock bags, clear totes or shoe boxes and start sorting the unfinished pieces into the bags and boxes.
6. Make a list. Write down or create a computer document that has each project  listed with the date started, current progress (i.e. blocks complete or 10 blocks to go), any supplies needed to complete the quilt  and the intended purpose of the quilt (gift, donate, your couch) Having this information at your finger tips might prevent another WIP and encourage  you to finish up steps along the way. Here are some other great tips I stumbled across in this blog post specifically for quilt organization at Sew We Quilt!written by Karen from Sew Many Ways, she has a whole section on craft organization! Check it out and get inspired to be tidy!
Cowboy Wild Goose Chase
7. Edit the quilt. The fabric is picked out, the pattern decided upon and the queen sized batting bought. But stop there, would a mini quilt satisfy thatpickle dish yearning? What about the blocks that were started but never made into a quilt top? Do any of your completed tops or blocks fit into this wall hanging category? Hooray! Make it easy on yourself and edit it down.
8. Stop hoarding fabric. This might break a quilt commandment but it’s true for me. I try really hard to use the fabric I have to complete my WIPs. Maybe that back doesn’t have to be 4 yards of new flannel. First try auditioning all possible fabrics for the boarders or back before buying new — and maybe make a bold choice that pushes your usual design. Only once you’ve exhausted your current stash options should you hop to your favorite fabric store (online or in person) and shop for your specific WIP. Treat your self restraint with a pedicure or mocha and quickly cut into that new WIP fabric and finish it up.
9. Work on WIPs first. That golden hour when you have a few moments to yourself and you’ve got a ton of things you would like to accomplish (because that WIP list has been staring at you every time you go to your sewing space!). Well start off on the right note and take 15 minutes to work on a WIP. I like to do this because with a time limit I can iron a few pieces, mark a few sewing lines or stitch up half a pile of flying geese. Then the 15 minutes are over and I can mentally check those things off the list and either keep with my WIP if I’m in the mood or move on to my new love; without the WIP guilt.

10. Set a WIP goal. How much do you want to finish this year, this month or by next week? Write that down and post it next to your WIP list. Share it with your support group, take those 15 minutes to check off an item or two and be mindful of the purpose of the quilt. Having these things in mind will help to overcome the urge to shove the WIPs into the back of the closet.
So did one of these tips speak to you or do you think I’m completely loco? Ha! I admit there’s a little crazy in these ideas but used in the right scenario it just might transform a WIP into a beautiful finish.  What is your strategy for creating a quilt from start to finish? Share your get it done tips with us!
I plan on making my WIP list up this week so I know where to focus my efforts in 2013. I’ll be sure to share my progress with you all at the Finish it up Along flickr group!

Friday Inspiration. Random Pretty Pinterest Finds.

Pintrest is a great place for quick inspiration but some pins lead to places that are brimming with it. The last image of journal pages is by artist and blogger Jenny Frith. For a girl who kept a sketch book for many years I can say these are the next level. Amazing doodles and loads of sketch book goodness.
Lois Mailou Jones (1905 – 1998) was a US
artist who painted and influenced others
during the Harlem Renaissance and beyond.
pinned via Pat Sloan
journal pages: by Jenny Frith

Have you been enjoying the renewal energy that comes in January? January has brought me a new look at old projects and the vision to complete them. I can see the light in the tunnel on a a large binding project! One more side to go!
Vintage scrappy spools quilt
Also getting some attention is a pattern I've been talking about for year or more! It's all pinwheels and like my other quilts it may look complicated but it's all chain pieced HST's and a little puzzle magic. I will need a pattern tester or two if anyone is interested please let me know! Thanks!
These projects are getting done mostly because my sewing machine is still at the beauty parlor. I suspect she might have jumped down a block and hit the Chinese restaurant cocktail lounge on the corner for a nightcap or two. Let's hope she comes home soon. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.



Madrona Road Mini-Quilt

The Modern Quilting Guild sponsored a fabric challenge featuring Madrona Road from Violet Craft and Michael Miller Fabrics. The PMQG challenged its members to make a small item inspired by a word or phrase.
MQG Madrona Road Challenge Mini Quilt
I used the text fabric that is printed with a beautiful story about a girl who builds a new life for her self and her family in the Pacific Northwest. I used the line 'Raised in the Pacific Northwest' and set it in a vase of flowers that reminds me of late Oregon summer.
MQG Madrona Road Challenge Mini Quilt
A classic image that fits Madrona Roads's flowers and art deco feel of the stripes, text, doodles. I cut out the different flowers and shapes with scissors and stitched down everything on a borrowed sewing machine. I also used heat n' bond to set the shapes. The background quilting is simpler than what I would have done with my Viking. There for surely would have been some swirls in there! 
Madrona Road MQG Challenge
I like how the frame turned out, it was out of necessity as the text just wasn't big enough to do it all. The cornerstone element is something I would like to explore more, I have yet to find the perfect block to do it with!
MQG Madrona Road Challenge Mini Quilt
On the back I used a couple triangles in each corner to make a place for a hanger or dowel to slide in so it is easily hung up on the wall. 
Madrone road challenge quilt back
That little hand is baby J's ;-) one of his finger nails is painted bright red, just like Mommies toes!
This challenge was my second sign-up for PMQG and it was just as fun as the swap! Seeing all the interpretations of the fabric and modern quilting is inspiring as always! Have a wonderful week!


This week...

This week is a bit of a stand still because my sewing machine is at the spa for her week long vacation, aka tune-up. With the work horse gone I get to focus on cutting out a new quilt! Hooray! But I also have the Madrona Road Challenge to whip up by tomorrow night's PMQG! So I'll be borrowing a friends machine to complete that project, and fast!
Fabrics selected
But until my machine comes home I'll be cutting out the next new quilt, another sexy hexy love Amy Butler variation. A big red and orange flower for my dear friend and bartering partner who designed my new blog header. Went shopping for fabric yesterday and I am more in love with it now...and so is she!

Plans made.
I crushed it last weekend sewing on my WIP's! I even had a first finish of 2013 with the last of the vintage reworked quilts. I lurv it. I hope someone else does too, it's in the etsy shop waiting for a good home. 
Vintage quilt reworked softly
I also worked on the Cowboy wild goose chase quilt AND pressed open all my HST for my warm/cool QAL. Yep still working on that one...slow and steady. I reallly don't want it to end!
Cowboy Wild Goose Chase
Vintage Warm Cool QAL;HST
Earlier this month I wrote a guest post about WIP's for Quilter in the Gap. I'll be re-posting it here next week but I wanted to tell you I made a WIP spread sheet! I'm a dork! But it feels super cool to strike through those finished projects and add next steps. Yep, I'm a dork!

Until next time, enjoy your WIP's and don't let them stress you out! I'll be back soon with a little blog update about where you can find me and what I've been inspired by this week.
Linking up with Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Vintage Quilt Reworked Softly: First Finish 2013

A finish! The first finish of 2013! And a big push towards completing the stack of WIP's! I took the whole weekend to sew and it was wonderful! It had been weeks since I sewed for delight. I was able to get in a groove and let time pass by while I free motion quilted, made binding and hand sewed it while hubby watched football.
Vintage reworked softly
I completed something. Something that had been waiting in the stacks of projects...waiting and a bit forgotten. But not anymore. I am smitten with this Vintage Quilt Reworked Softly.
Vintage quilt reworked softly
The story of this monster quilt top that was vintage scrappy but a bit misguided. The colors were jumbled and the setting unimaginative. It was a quilt top with nothing to lose. So I cut. I hacked. I even threw out a couple blocks. And in the end it became more...three more to be exact.
Vintage reworked softly
Here is the pinkies in free motion quilted glory. Because that is the true star of this quilt. Quilted in an all over petal in petal design, almost like candle flames. Once I opened up the design and kept attention to the points matching up at the base it was heaven.
Vintage reworked softly
I got lost in the free motion movement and quilted this in just over 4 hours. The method I think works best, especially for larger quilts, is Elizabeth Hartman's basting and quadrant quilting. It made the bulk of the quilt manageable to maneuver.
Vintage reworked softly
The fabrics used for the back and binding are also vintage found in a box of grandma's attic fabric and in my stacks from the stash. No bought fabrics were used in the making of this quilt. :-)
A proud first finish; because I feel like my skills can now match my style.
And it's listed in the Etsy shop here.


Quilt it out...

Another vintage quilt top project. This time Vintage Reworked Softly; soft pinks and soft quilted petals.
Vintage Reworked Softly
Working on perfecting a new quilt technique, retro paisley petals in an all over design. I need to keep my points sharp and open it up a bit to get the clean look I want. This quilt top is practice for my next project...a queen sized finished top from a client that is already basted and ready to go. It is beautiful! Wish me luck :-) I've got a lot of quilting a head of me.
Nine Patch Obsessed Quilt
I also want to work on this languishing WIP - top and back are done just needs to be basted and quilted and bound... haha - just.
And if that weren't enough for the platter I have a madrona road challenge to work on for next week's PMQG meeting & a custom barter sexy hexy love quilt to start on.
Oh January, keep the motivation coming!
What are you working on this weekend?



A little bit of Everything

Hello There!
You may have noticed a few changes 'round here. The new banner above is AmazinG! I love the simplicity of it and the story it tells. I am so grateful to know a wonderful lady who does branding and design. The combination of expertise and creativity she has when it comes to making a logo that says what you want it to say is pretty cool. Find her on Facebook at Cocoon Strategy and Design

So while this new blog thing is going on I thought what a great time to update some other aspects of Blue Bird Sews. Take a look at the new Tutorial Library. I'm happy to say there are a bunch new tutorials listed that were buried in the archives. 
I still plan on revamping some things here and there. A few tutorials need updating and moving around. Since I started this blog I have changed my quilting techniques - I've learned a little bit more and want my info to reflect that. So please excuse the mess for a bit longer ;-). 
I have been able to get in some sewing time this week -- after 3 long weeks away! And on one of my WIP's no less! This is one more variation on the Vintage Reworked Quilt. But this time in pinky girly colors. Vintage reworked 
I can't wait to get quilting it - I have 3 quliting projects coming up (including a comission!) and this is the perfect quilt to warm up with!

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