Friday, July 31, 2009

Quilting Double Delight

I am still working on quilting my Double Delight blocks. I finished quilting the 20 star blocks (see them here) and then moved on to the outside of the stars. I wanted to use a Sulky Blendable thread but it kept breaking. I am pretty stubborn when it comes to making a thread/needle combination work and tried all of these various needles. I was about to give up and thought to check the website for the Blendable threads and read that a topstitch 90/14 needle is's the only needle I didn't have of course. The 80/12 (the embroidery, the quilting and the topstitch) needle was still breaking the thread. I sent my husband to the sewing store on the way home from work today to pick up the topstitch needles and I am eager to see if that will fix the problem.
Until I could get the proper needles to use the Blendable threads,  I worked on the double 9 patch blocks. I am using Aurifil thread in these blocks and it never breaks on me no matter how fast I quilt! I don't know if it will show up in this photo well enough to see, but I have quilted feathers with 7 little branches (or barbs or lobes...or whatever you call them!) in the plain blocks of the double 9 patches. In my quilt I have 30 double nine patch blocks and they are finally all quilted. My machine really does deserve a rest, but it's not going to get one because now that I have the new needles, I will see if I can finish the star blocks with that Blendables thread. And then I'll only have the borders to quilt!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scrappy Flying Geese

The weather here has been anything but and rainy most of the time. It has been too cold to swim in the lake and too wet to want to go camping. However some of my flowers seem to be thriving in this strange weather. Here is my clematis that has climbed even higher than my 6 ft. fence. 
I have been doing some machine quilting and will update my progress on DD later in the week. But to give my hands and wrists a break in between quilting, I have been making great progress on my scrappy flying
 geese project. I started working on the bag of scraps given to me by my friend Liz when I was at quilt retreat in February.  
Here is a photo of the stages...a triangle scrap sewn into a HST, trimmed, then sewn with a matching friend to be a flying geese unit. I had many hours of fun matching up the flying geese units. This is the photo on my blog header. 
Once the flying geese were sewn into sets of 3 they went into storage in these recycled spinach boxes. Then I sewed the sets of 3 blocks into rows. This week I sewed all the rows together with beige sashing. I was going to make this for a donation quilt but 
I am afraid that I have fallen in love with it and don't want to give it away now! I am thinking about ideas for possible borders...maybe just a striped fabric, or scrappy pieced borders. What do you think?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Finished on time!

Yes...I did finish the wedding quilt in time to be wrapped and given to the bride on the day of her wedding. I was hand stitching the label on 20 minutes before we pulled out of the driveway.
I had a lot of fun quilting hearts this week and on the left is a photo of the continuous line of hearts I quilted on the borders. It was going along quite well with limited thread shredding and breakage, which was a relief because the backing and top were batik fabrics and the batting was a mystery batting that I found in my cupboard (not my usual Warm & Natural) so I was unsure of how this would quilt up. 
I quilted the whole top and border, and then noticed that the backing had flipped over on itself and was quilted into the border. Ugh! I can't tell you how many times I have done that! You would think I would feel the bunched up fabric layers when I am happily quilting along, but apparently I don't! So out came the trusty seam ripper and I picked out that section of the border quilting. By the time that was fixed it was already late on friday night, so I made the decision to bring the backing to the front and machine stitch 
the binding...gasp! Yes I did! And I never like how this looks but I did it anyway because I was in a time crunch. It makes the edges a little ruffley and the corners are not nicely mitered, but it was  finished and that was the main thing.
All that I remember about sewing this quilt top is that it was a mystery quilt from many years ago (maybe 10 years). Does anyone recognized the design so I can give proper credit??

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Still quilting like crazy

My cousin is getting married and I had been thinking about what to get her for a gift, when I had a crazy thought: "Why don't I dig out a UFO and quilt it for her?" I thought about it on Monday night, took Tuesday to try to talk myself out of it, gave in, and started looking through my treasures. I found a quilt top, backing and batting right away so I was convinced that this was meant to be. I had dug a few UFO's out of the closets for a guild meeting in June and some of the guild members told me they liked this one and I should finish it.
 I admit that I thought the quilt top was a little boring, since it doesn't have the variety of fabrics that I like to use in my quilts now (increasingly so over the last 5 years). But I thought it would make a nice wedding gift, so I got to work.

But how to quilt it? Usually I put a quilt up on the design wall, think about it for a while, and do some sketching, but not this time. I pin basted and started quilting right time to lose! It's a wedding quilt, so of course I would quilt hearts...lots and lots of hearts.
I started with quilting long heart trails, which went across the quilt on the diagonal, the cream blocks with beige thread and the dark blocks with black thread. Then I decided to quilt a curving line back along the vine and make it look more like a ribbon and I liked it better. Then I quilted 4 hearts in the 4 patch block.  The 

quilting went along fine, but my wrists, hands and arms have been aching from all the quilting workout!
Did I get the quilt finished in time for the wedding?!?!
Stay tuned!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Machine quilting streak

I have been machine quilting like a maniac this week. I'm surprised my Brother machine hasn't given me any grief and tried to warn me to slow down.  This is the quilting design that has evolved so far in the 20 star blocks. I quilted 4 little hearts in the centre of the pink 9 patches. Then I outlined stitched (in the ditch) around the star using my free motion foot. This was trickey but manageable. Then I did the curved lines on the blue fabric around the star. That was my favorite part of the quilting so far!
While I was waiting to figure out what to do next, another quilt decided it would be the perfect gift for a wedding I am attending this week. Way to totally stress myself out!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Favorite Tool

I have finished pin basting my DD quilt and remembered how much I love my Kwik Klip tool. I have used this tool to baste every quilt I've ever pin basted over the last 17 years. Well, not this exact one, since I lost my first Kwik Klip and had to replace it. It sure saves wear and tear on the finger nails when you're closing about 300 pins!
What is your favorite quilting tool??

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Top 5 list

I have been thinking about prioritizing my UFOs since I read this blog post by Sue. I joined the UFO club at my guild several years ago and the first year I made a list of my top 10 UFO's which helped me to make a lot of progress. Setting a goal does seem to work for me, so I starting routing around in my closets and worked on generating a priority list. Mary made a suggestion in her comments on this blog post to start with a list of 5 projects so I don't feel overwhelmed...great idea Mary!
Here is the list of my top 5 projects I would like to quilt:
1. Quilted Garden - class project from Quilt Canada - basted and ready to quilt
Carolina Crossroads - needs a backing purchased
3. Double Delight - ready to go, backing already washed
Kaleidoscope - backing has been purchased but I can't find it!
5. Triangles - sew rows together: backing as been purchased but needs to be washed
Because my Double Delight seemed to be just waiting for me, I got out my basting pins and 
got to work on it. I never really know what kind of a quilting design I will make on a quilt until I actually start the quilting. I am like this with driving too (which makes my family a little frustrated on trips with me) and I just head out in the general direction of my destination and figure it out as I go along. On this quilt I know I will stabilize the quilt with stitch in the ditch around the blocks horizontally and vertically, and then I will quilt those long pink chains on the double 9 patch blocks. That decision helped me to know where to place the basting pins so I could do all of that quilting without removing any pins. And as I baste I will think about what else I might like to do with the quilting.
Any ideas?!?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Paper Piecing challenge

To relax after my family camping "holiday", I have been working on the latest Paper Panache mystery block and it is a doozie! If you're a regular blog reader you know that I really enjoy paper piecing, and try to sew as many of the mystery blocks from Paper Panache as possible.  You can see some of the other mystery blocks I have sewn here.  I love the combination of paper piecing and mystery
However, I always make the same mistakes at least once per sewing session. It's an annoying little habit that I can't seem to break no matter how much I concentrate. 

 I always get at least one folded over seam, and I place the fabric piece I am attaching on the wrong side. So now, I just accept my mistakes and say to myself  "oh good, I got that mistake out of the way now" and carry on...."accept the things you cannot change"!!

*Mystery spoiler* coming up...if you don't want to see the latest paper panache mystery block don't keep reading!  Here are my pieces all sewn and trimmed. Some of these little tiny pieces were really labour intensive. I figure that it took me between 6 and 7 hours to get the block to this stage.
So what is it!?! It is a fish of some sort. Not being a fisherwoman, I don't know if this is a real kind of fish or not...looks like a flying geese fish to me! I wish I would have sewn my fish in bright colours with a blue background, but I followed the colours recommended on the pattern. Anyway, here is my flying geese fish...she seems to be yelling "I've had enough of 'holidays' with 10 children and I want some quiet time to sew"!
If you want to get this pattern, you can buy it over at Paper Panache - click here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Finishes on Vacation

I am camping with my extended family this week. Just stopping in to the Wi Fi centre to get my quilt blogging fix! Technology is such an amazing thing! Also,  I wanted to check the weather report to see if any rain is forecast before we make plans for the next few days...that's the story I gave my family and I'm sticking to it!
I am at my family's annual "PowWow" - my parents sleep at a hotel in town and come out to visit us at the provincial camp site during the day. My 3 siblings, their partners when willing and able, myself and the 10 children camp for a week. It's our family time when the cousins can reconnect and the siblings have some adult time visiting around the campfire late at night. It is a fun week but exhausting due to lack of sleep...kind of like a quilt retreat!
I have brought along some hand stitching of course and finished the bindings on these two basket mini quilts.  I posted these finished tops at the beginning of June (click here) and finally got them finished. I am not happy with how the bottom of the top basket looks on the left mini and I'll try to fix that with a marker when I'm home again.
Today I am working on hand stitching block #7 from my Journey of a Quilter project.
Oh yah...the weather report...tomorrow cloudy in the morning, chance of a storm in the afternoon. Okay then, off to the beach today.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The LONG Journey of a Quilter!

I have been working on compiling my  "top 10" list and am finding it a little (lot) discouraging. I intend to post my 10 quilts, complete with a description of the various stages of unfinishedness some time soon...once I find them all! Really, it is turning into an archeological dig!
I will admit right at the start of this list making that I am frustrated with myself for not making more progress particularly on my "Journey of a Quilter" project. I was mortified to see (courtesy of my blog documentation) that it is now 2 years since I first started these blocks! How on earth did that happen?!? 
Well...because I have been enjoying my life journey, I guess! I have been starting and finishing lots of other quilts and have been happily busy with nonquilting things, like my garden.

 Can I brag about my garden for a minute (to help bolster my lagging self esteem)?!? In spite of terrible weather here so far this summer, I have managed to grow some huge tomato plants.  I think the credit goes to their new sunny location, not just to my green thumb abilities and TLC. I am just hoping that these giant plants will actually produce little red tomatoes instead of lots of leafy green foliage!

And my roses are even pretty this year!
Okay, that's enough distraction...back to my quilting problem...I dug out my "Journey of a Quilter" project to get back on track with it,  because it is for sure on my top 10 list.

This week I finished the buttonhole stitching around the hearts and the hand embroidery on the scissors, the flowers and the words.
Which means that I am now officially 2/3 of the way finished...6 blocks down, 3 to go!! Then I pieced the 7th block and have everything ready to begin stitching should I find some free time when we are camping this summer. Now I feel much better...I am making progress on my quilt again. I sure don't want to spend another year with this one on the back burner!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Baking and Cutting

I am happily enjoying the days of "summer vacation", which means that the kids are home but I'm still working! It is enjoyable because we have a more relaxed schedule and no homework issues to deal with. For my kids, the freedom from daily homework is remarkable! I forget sometimes how much pressure is on children now in our school system but it is really noticeable when summer comes and the real personalities of my kids reemerge when they are free from daily stress.
Although we are on a summer schedule, the weather has not been at all summery. I don't think we have run our air conditioner once this year, which is very strange. It has been perfect baking weather though! I have been making Amish Friendship Bread in various forms thanks to blog stalkers Deanna in North Bay and Louise in Goderich, who convinced me to get started by feeding me some great cake and then sending me some starter mix. Now I can't just goes on and on! Thanks guys!
While eating my cake (why don't we call it sounds so much healthier for you!) I have been surfing the quilt blogs and found this interesting article on "the Power of 10" over at Sue's blog. I need to do this to get myself organized for the guild quilt show in October.  I have to prioritize which of my quilts I need to work on to be finished by then and I need to FOCUS! 
I'm thinking about doing that, but first I decided to cut up one of my charm packs (called "Swanky") into tiny pieces to make a mini quilt or two. Look at these cute little guys just waiting for me! Can't wait to get sewing and I'll be thinking about making a list of 10 UFO's...
while I work on this new project! *LOL*

Monday, July 06, 2009

Design Wall Monday

It's Monday again...this week went by so fast I can't believe it! That is one disadvantage to posting on Judy's Monday realize how quickly time goes by and how much you did not accomplish from your list of quilty goals!
However, I am delighted to report that I finally have a finished quilt top on the design wall!

This is from a Robert Kaufman kit called "Permission to Play: Kaleidoscope" that I bought at Hancocks in Paducah in April. I haven't posted anything about this quilt since May 19th, when I posted 3 layouts for blog readers to vote on - click here to see the layouts. My blog readers voted for layout C by a small margin but I decided to sew layout B, because I liked the strong vertical and horizontal lines it created.
These were very trickey seams to sew with a lot of odd angle seam matching to do. Although I don't usually use many pins, these seams needed hundreds of pins to even come close to matching! That's why it took so long...but I persevered and now it's ready for quilting!
If you want to order one of these kits from Hancocks, click here. They come in 3 different colourways - cool, warm and earth tones.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Shop Hop Bag

I haven't had much sewing time this week with the interruption of preparing for and celebrating Canada Day.  Also, all of the rain we have had has resulted in great growth (mostly of weeds!) in my garden.
I did manage to finish this little "Shop Hop" bag I had been wanting to make. I bought the magazine about 2 months ago and just didn't get around to working on it until this week.
The pattern is from this magazine,  which has several neat patterns that I intend to make. The pattern calls for diagonal straight line quilting, but I just had to do some swirly quilting for this fabric!
Look at this cute button for the perfect embellishment!
I attached the bias binding by machine and was reminded of how much I don't like the look of it, but it's okay for a bag.
And here is the inside of the bag with pockets for your
 credit cards. 
The next bag I make is going to have a longer strap because this one is too short to hang comfortably where I would want my bag to hang for easy access to the credit cards when shopping at the quilt store!