Monday, July 04, 2022

Fish School on the Design Wall

The concept of continuous sewing by always having blocks ready to put through the machine at the beginning and end of everything you sew was revolutionary for me. I learned this way of sewing from Bonnie Hunter's book Adventures With Leader & Enders. For several years she has issued a challenge and she has just listed the July 2022 project called Triple Treat.

Meanwhile in my sewing room, there are still unfinished previous challenges to be finished! The 2021 Fish School challenge has seen periodic additions and it is time to corral these fish and see where this project is at. 

Some colours are sparsely represented in this school and more fish need to be added to make this big enough for a standard quilt. Looks like this project will need continue before I jump into another leader-ender challenge. 
Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Judy's

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the Slow Stitching party where we celebrate all types of hand stitching including cross stitch, embroidery, hand piecing, knitting, crochet, rug making, english paper piecing, applique, hand quilting, etc. If you are creating something with your hands using needles and threads, we want to see what you're making!

I finished two quilts recently and hand stitched a lot of binding. First was a bed sized quilt called Unity which had over 300" of binding, and then a  miniature strawberry which was 16" of binding. I really enjoyed hand stitching the french knots on the berry.

I have also been dragging my embroidery around with me and hoping for a few minutes of peaceful stitching, which I enjoyed at this lovely stopping place on a hike. It was so quiet and relaxing by the stream. Not much stitching was done since there was a lot to see here - frogs, fish, and birds. But every stitch counts!

What are you stitching today? Link up your blog or instagram post below and share your slow progress with us.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Make it Miniature!

As my blog readers know, I am an avid miniature quilt maker and teacher. I have written almost 60 blog posts about making miniatures. Most of these little treasures serve no practical purpose, although sometimes they are special gifts, or they become mug mats or placemats. But the most important purpose is that it makes me feel great happiness, which is a good enough reason to spend lots of time doing it!

I recently watched the series called "Best in Miniaturewhere artists created dream homes in miniature size. 

My favourite episode was week 7 when the artists made hand sewn miniature pillows. This series validated my love of all tiny things, and the importance of pursuing your artist dreams. This show is casting now for the second season if you know anyone who would be interested (apply online here).

I will never use the true miniature scale of 1:12 that is used on the show. That means that a 12" block would become a 1" block which is too small for my enjoyment.

But I really enjoy making smaller projects, and this month I made a 4" berry with 49 pieces (pattern by Jackie MacDonald).

I love cutting the little pieces, and in this project the blocks are 1". 

Here are some tips for sewing miniature quilts:

1) Be precise in cutting and sewing. When you need a 1" square it must be exactly 1". When you sew the seam allowance is must be exactly 1/4".

2) Use a 50 weight thread for minimal bulk in the seams.

3) Keep your block layout right beside your sewing machine. This is my sewing station to the left of my machine. The layout is on the far left cutting mat and as rows are sewn, I pin them to the soft pressing mat right beside the machine.

4) Never use a steam iron, and only use an iron to press the finished block. Use a seam roller to flatten the seams as you go along. On a small block like this I press the seams in alternate directions for each row, and then press the row joining seams open.

5) Carefully check your seam allowance and fix every mistake as you go along. An incorrectly folded seam allowance is not a problem with regular blocks, but it makes a big difference with small blocks in terms of how flat the block will be. See how on the first seam the corner is folded back and the seam is pressed the wrong way?

6) Pin your rows to a soft pressing mat and double check your layout as you go along. I make at least one mistake in every block I sew. See how easily it happened?!? This is not a berry shape! It can easily be fixed at this point, but once rows are sewn together it's a little harder to fix.

7) Use lots of pins. This photo shows how I double pin a 1" square. It's amazing how much little pieces can shift between getting them accurately together between your fingers and how they end up under the needle. Don't let the feed dogs drag the pieces up to the needle (which causes shifting). Instead put the needle down at the beginning of the seam and then put the presser foot down.

8) Once the block is sewn, I use an iron to press the block carefully on a wool mat, and then move to a regular ironing board and use Best Press for a second pressing. Pressing is an up and down motion only - never drag the iron on the block/quilt, and never ever twist the iron on top of your precious block as it will distort the project.

9) Miniature quilts need minimal quilting. 
Instead of quilting this mini, I stitched some yellow french knots to hold the layers together which adds a texture element which looks a bit like the seeds on the outside of a strawberry. 

10) For mini quilts I use a single binding strip cut 1 3/8", machine stitched to the front and rolled over to the back, folded over and hand stitched. 

And drum roll please... here is the finished mini berry! So sweet!

Finished size: 4" x 4"

If you would like to make your own miniature berry, click here for the pattern in 2 sizes.

Hop over to Constant Quilter to see more mini quilts made in June.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Finished Unity Quilt!

A finished quilt is on the design wall today! 

This quilt is my variation of Bonnie Hunter's medallion pattern called Unity (which you can purchase here).  This was a mystery quilt that Bonnie freely shared with the quilting world at the beginning of Covid in 2020. Remember back when we were learning to sew masks, and staying safe at home? We had no idea what a global pandemic was at that time, but we do now and through it all... the quilters continued to quilt, as we always do!

I started my version in April 2020 and added two words into two borders as the quilt grew. I finally finished the quilt top in May 2022, machine quilted my way through June, and hand stitched the binding over the weekend. 

This quilt has a eucalyptus batting that I had in the closet. I have no idea how it will hold up to washing and use, so I look forward to finding out. It handled beautifully on my machine and I liked it as well as my "go to" batting which is Warm and Natural. It also has a lovely drape on the bed.

It's such an amazing accomplishment to take a pile of scraps and turn it into a beautiful quilt and I did it! Thank you to Bonnie Hunter for helping to sustain my sanity through all those early scary Covid days by distracting me with this fun quilt project!

Finished size: 72" x 80" 

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Judy'sFavourite Finish at Cheryl's, and One Monthly Goal at Patty's

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the Slow Sunday Stitching party! It's the perfect time to find your hand stitching project and enjoy some relaxation. Even just a few minutes of stitching gives you a welcomed break from your routine, and your worries.  

Guess what I'm working on today?!? I'm hand stitching the binding on my Covid Unity quilt!  I love the pretty  wide backing fabric I found for this quilt and plan to enjoy many hours of hand stitching the binding on this quilt this week. As I stitch I will reflect on how much life has changed since I started making this quilt at the beginning of the pandemic.

We would love to see what you are hand stitching today. Link up your blog or instagram post below and we will cheer you on as you stitch.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Mystery Update

Your mystery quilting consultant is checking in here to update you on all the latest mystery projects! There is something for everyone:

1) Kathleen Tracy is offering a fun little 12" square mystery project called 4th of July. This is a great intro in the mystery quilting world because it's a small project, her instructions are always good, and if you don't love it when it's finished you can give it away as a gift and never see it again! I made her last mystery into a pretty placemat - click here to see it.

2) Meadow Mist designs is offering a free mystery quilt called Melodic Mystery starting in July. This project will post monthly steps. Usually the first month's step is fabric requirements, so the sewing step will likely start in August. I have sewn many of Cheryl's mysteries and have loved each one. Here are two of my favourites: Morewood Mystery and Mosaic Mystery

3) My local guild is hosting a summer mystery for the guild members. The community outreach team has made up kits for us from donated fabric, and here is my kit. I can't wait to cut into this luscious fabric!

4) Laundry Basket quilts is currently running a summer mystery using strip sets to construct blocks. It's an interesting concept and I'm watching this one with great interest while trying not to start my own version. This is me exercising some self restraint to get my case of Startitis under control.

5) The Fat Quarter Shop is hosting another Halloween mystery this summer called Boo Crew which starts on July 5th. I made their Bats and Boos mystery last summer and it's one of my favourite seasonal tabletoppers.

So that's the latest update on what's new in mystery quilt land. I'm slowly sewing away on my "Oh say can you sew" mystery blocks, and hope to be up to date with those by the end of the month in time for step #4 to be posted.
Did I miss any mysteries going on out there? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Unity Quilting

My June UFO is quilted! I spent many hours sitting at the machine this month, shoving the quilt  through the harp of the machine. You know how that goes!

This is the biggest project I have quilted on my DSM in a long time, and it was quite a workout! Because it is a medallion quilt, I got the crazy idea to stitch different designs for each border. I should've just stitched a simple, straight grid. But it's just like me to make it as challenging as possible!  And I do really like the effect - can you see the quilting designs on the back? 

I used my heavy duty gardening gloves from Canadian Tire for this job because they really grip better than any gloves made for quilting. But they are hot to wear, which is great in the winter and not pleasant on hot June days! 

Of course I enjoyed using all the thread colours! I stitched 3 wavy lines in the side borders to give a ribbon effect, and used these 3 colours. You can't tell when looking at it because all the colours blend with the fabric, but it makes me happy using lots of thread colours.  

I have already prepared and attached the binding, and can now enjoy the relaxing process of hand stitching it to the back of the quilt. I have one week left before the end of June and I'm so pleased that this quilt will be finished by then!