Sunday, February 19, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly celebration of hand stitching!

This week I finished machine quilting a Valentine's quilt and today I have the pure enjoyment of finishing this quilt. 
First I removed the Frixion quilting lines with a hot iron. I have heard many times from people that don't like these pens, but I love them, and have not had any issues with them so far. I've only tested this product for several years though, so check back with me 20 years from now and we'll see how I feel about them then! LOL

Today I will be stitching in all the thread tails by pulling all the threads to the back of the quilt, threading two at a time (bobbin and top thread) in a needle, tying a knot, and pulling the knot between the layers and popping it into the batting (tutorial here). And then I'll hand stitch the binding to the back of the quilt.
And as I stitch, I am going to listen to some old Stuart McLean podcasts. Stuart was the beloved host of a CBC radio show called Vinyl Cafe and I was so sad to hear of his death this week. Over the years I have enjoyed countless hours of slow stitching while listening to his unique slow storytelling. I was also lucky enough to see two of Stuart's live Christmas productions and was inspired by his creativity and humour, and by his commitment to the development of Canadian talent. You can read some wonderful tributes to Stuart here

We hope you will join in the slow stitching party by visiting some of the links below and/or linking up your post post about your own hand stitching project.  
Enjoy every slow stitch!


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Friday, February 17, 2017

Machine Quilting

It is quite possible that I am avoiding quilting the UFO of the month by becoming obsessed with this Valentine's quilt. Am I now the Queen of Procrastination?!?  
Perhaps! I'm okay with that because working on this quilt has been really fun. AND there are several more days to meet my goal this month!
I finally found the perfect heart design for the 4" empty spaces on this quilt and was eager to get going on the quilting. I started with the walking foot and stitching in the ditch around the 9 patch blocks to secure the layers together.

Then I marked the quilting designs for the empty spaces using a frixion pan and a 4" stencil that I found at The Quilt Place. There are a total of 44 hearts to quilt, which is a lot of stopping and starting. I found a way to quilt the tiny hearts with a continuous line which resulted in a total of 32 stops/starts.
I put the free motion quilting foot on my sewing machine, reduced the presser foot tension (so the quilt could be moved more freely under the needle), dropped the feed dogs, put the stitch length on zero, and was ready to go. I carefully stitched on the drawn lines. If you've never done this kind of free motion quilting before, it's a really challenging skill to get the speed and stitch length even, and to keep the needle on the line. It takes a lot of practice.

Most of the time when I am machine quilting, I start by making 3 or 4 stitches in the same place at the beginning and at end, and clip the threads as close as possible to the quilt. That usually keeps the thread ends secure. But it also leaves a little bump of thread, and I didn't want that to be visible in the solid white squares especially with so many stops/starts. So with this quilt, I left the thread tails hanging, and will hand sew the ends in when the quilting is finished. You can see the threads laying all over the place in this photo.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

UFO Update

Not much progress has been made on my UFO yet this month, but I am prepared to make lots of progress this week. The first two sections of Votes For Women are quilted, and trimmed. This is not one of my favourite jobs. The three layers have to be trimmed, which totally dulls the rotary blade.

And then you end up with a pile of mess that looks like this. These are the cutoff edge pieces that have to be dealt with.

The batting scraps are cut with scissors (to save the rotary blade from further torture) into smaller pieces and tossed in the dog bed pillowcase, which is attached to my cutting table with binder clips.

The backing scraps are cut into useable sizes of 1", 1.5" and sometimes 2". These are all civil war reproductions so will go into that scrap bin.
Now that this step is completed and I'm ready to make some progress on this quilt!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mystery Quilt Decisions

My version of the mystery quilt called "Ghosts and Mosts" is ready for borders. This was the Super Bowl Sunday mystery quilt hosted by Quiltbug. I liked the pattern and wanted to make it bigger to fit the guidelines to donate it to my guild's comfort quilt project. The pattern is for a baby quilt of 4 rows (16 blocks) and I wanted to make a lap quilt. I decided to add 2 more rows which meant making 8 more blocks. I also added a sashing with blue cornerstones, which made it a little bigger.
I was really scrounging to get enough of the gold fabrics for the last 8 blocks. Look at these sections which were pieced together from scraps.
I'm trying to decide about a narrow dark red border with or without cornerstones, and/or adding a blue border. There is also another dark red border to add. In days gone by, this decision making process would have taken a long time. And if the "right" answer did not present itself, the whole thing would go to the UFO closet.

Good enough!

Not anymore! A decision will be made quickly because:
a) this is one of those quilts where I already know how I want to quilt it, so I am motivated to get it to the quilting stage, and
 b) I have learned there is not one "right" way to do anything, but there are many "good enough" solutions!
Hop over to Lorna's Let's Be Social linky party and see what other quilters are working on today.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Love Day

Happy Valentine's Day to all my quilting friends! Not only is it Valentine's Day, it's quilt guild meeting day, so I get to see some of my true friends today. And for those of you that I don't get to see, I hope you enjoy your day celebrating all the love you have created in your life. 

If you are looking for something fun to make today, Temecula Quilts has an adorable mini quilt pattern called Box of Chocolates . And they still have their free patterns called Hugs and Kisses (click here to see my version) and Valentine 9 Patch on the blog. I am pin basting my Valentine 9 patch quilt because it's the perfect project to spend time with today!
P.S. I have no affiliation to Temecula but have enjoyed so many of their projects over the years that I just have to send them some quilty love today!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Design Wall Monday - En Provence

My version of Quiltville's En Provence mystery quilt is on the design wall again/still. Did you notice that it is all in one piece?!?!  I worked hard this week to get this quilt top together because today is the Quiltville link up. If you know the pattern, you will see that I didn't extend the dark blue tri-recs units into the last border because I liked it better without them.

My quilt just needs one more light border and then it's done. The problem is that I have run out of the light fabrics that are in the blocks and in the first border.  I really don't want to buy more fabric, so I have been adding in some other scraps that were kicking around the quilt studio.  I need about 100 four patch blocks to finish and made a few more yesterday while watching Quiltcam.
To see more En Provence quilts, hop over to Quiltville.
To see more design wall posts, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the Slow Sunday Stitching party! Take some time today to power down your brain and enjoy the benefits of relaxation with your favourite hand work. 

Last week when I was visiting the Oxford County Guild in Ingersoll, I had a lovely visit with Jean Hillis who is a past president of the guild and is a very inspiring hand stitcher. I wish you could see her wonderful quilts! She invited me to stay overnight and we enjoyed some relaxing hand stitching as we had tea and visited. Just look at this gorgeous quilt she is hand quilting! I'm telling you, I was drooling over this amazing scrap quilt with pieced blocks in the centre and a complex appliqued border around the edges. This photo doesn't show the appliqued border very well, but maybe you can see it a bit better in the next close up photo.

Can you see that Jean is outline stitching all the little leaves and flower shapes and is also cross hatching the yellow background? She is running several needles at once to do the crosshatching but you can't see them since they are to the right of the hoop. I started to feel relaxed just watching Jean. However, as with many things that are good for you, you don't get the full benefit from watching the activity ... you have to actually DO it yourself! 
So of course I was hand stitching too!

I have finished appliqueing Life Is Beautiful block #30 (with the weird tree) to it's background 4 patch block. Once it's stitched down, I carefully cut the fabric away from behind the embroidery block and applique that circular piece to another 4 patch block. You can see part of a possible layout here. Today I will be starting the embroidery on block #31.
What are you hand stitching today? Don't just think about putting in some stitches... get out your project and start relaxing! Then write a blog post, tell us about your progress and join in the link up below.


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