Monday, August 31, 2009

What's on the design wall Monday?

We are back from camping at Killbear Provincial Park. It was a relaxing vacation for the family but for me, it's a lot of work - packing food and equipment, doing piles of laundry before and after, working twice as hard to prepare each meal, etc. 
Add that to my sleep deprivation due to cold weather, my uncomfortable, constantly deflating air mattress, and the occasional middle-of-the-night adrenaline rush fearing death by a bear attack!  Gee...sounds like a fun holiday to me! I was craving my sewing machine I'll tell you that!
So now I have to hit the ground running since I have one kid starting high school next week and one starting university. So, not much time for some relaxing sewing this week. However, next week, the house will be very quiet and it will be a whole new ballgame - almost like a real vacation for me!! I plan to relax and quilt to my heart's content...and maybe shed a few tears about my babies growing up too fast!

On my design wall today are some of the blocks for a developing group quilt - you can read about the beginning of the quilt here. Some of these blocks need to be unsewn and rematched with other fabrics. You can probably pick them out - there are a couple of blocks where the fabrics both read as dark. We still need to sew about twice as many blocks, but the quilt is coming along and we are hoping to get it sewn together in the next 2 weeks. 

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"A Major Award" & Zigzags

[Itsamajoraward-veronica-1.jpg]I forgot to mention that Jill, over at the Quilt Rat blog gave me an award a couple of weeks ago. I don't know how it slipped my mind, especially since the honourary trophy is from one of my favorite Christmas movies "A Christmas Story" - see the YouTube movie trailer here.
 She said that this award is given to: "anyone who likes to smile and or laugh and just generally spreads that along in this blogging community in which we all travel".  Isn't that great?!? I was delighted, since that is one of my goals in maintaining my quilting blog.  Thanks Jill!
I have been so busy since at work we are understaffed for most of the summer, and having the kids home from school (and getting them back and forth to their jobs & activities) that I haven't been able to quilt as much as I would like/need, or visit other quilting blogs as much as I usually enjoy. I am so looking forward to September when the kids go back to school (let's sing together...."it's the most wonderful time of the year"!) and the rest of my colleagues come back from vacation, and I don't have to work so hard and I can quilt more!
In the meantime, I have been keeping my sanity by working on a series of mini ZigZag quilts.  Remember when I was cutting up my Swanky charm pack?? You can read about it on this post.
I got the idea to make mini ZigZags reading this blog post. This is the first mini top I've sewn and I think there will be enough pieces from the charm pack to make 4 minis.   I am hoping to make each mini a little different even though they are made from the same fabric line. It is great fun, even if the fun is in very small chunks of time. It's important for me to sew a little bit every day, even if there isn't much time to feel like I am accomplishing much. A little mini fun goes a long way!!

Painting and Paper piecing

I enjoy sewing the mystery blocks at Paper Panache and have made many of them over the years. These blocks combine two of my favorite activities - mystery quilting and paper piecing.  I have sewn the block that Linda currently has for sale on the Paper Panache home page which was a previous mystery block #38.
I have this guy up on my design wall and often think about sewing some cat blocks in the border, but just haven't gotten around to it.
(Hey... Linda has a free pattern to sew "a round tuit"  click here!!)
Anyway, it's too hot here to do much machine quilting these days, so I have been slowly working on the new mystery block #52. I had set a challenge for myself to use only fabrics I had hand painted.  (You can read about it here and see the colours I painted).
 I started piecing the blocks and quickly ran out of the light blue fabric  before I had sewn half of the pieces. 
So I got out the paints again and painted more blue. The problem is I never write anything down, so I had to figure out which blue it was, and how much water to add to get a matching colour, and then see if it was usable once it dried (paint always dries lighter). This was trickey and very unscientific, as is my usual style!
But I think I got enough blue yardage that is "close enough". 
Here you can see the parts I had finished piecing on the right, my instruction sheet with the colour chart, the scraps of the original leftover blue pieces, and the remaining pattern pieces to sew, all on top of the new blue fabric...what do you it a close enough match?!?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Design Wall Monday

Remember this photo from a previous design wall post? I have been playing around with these disappearing 9 patch blocks and trying to make it into a more interesting quilt. 
The first idea I had was to add in some white fabric and I found a little piece that was perfect...white with little pink dots! The fabrics in this quilt are all polka dot fabrics that I have been collecting for a long time. 
The addition of the white fabric made me happy.
What next?
I tried to add in a darker purple dotty fabric but I really did not like sticks out like a sore thumb! So I took the dark purple blocks out and am continuing to play around with some other ideas.
See what other quilters are creating by surfing the blogs listed on Judy's blog - click here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Relaxing Saturday

It's a beautiful sunny, hot summer day here and I am relaxing, staying cool, doing some beading and watching some of the PGA golf tournament. I am also drinking some Cosmopolitans...lots of fruit juice, and a few frozen blueberries to keep my drinks cool.
I had to add some commercial fabric to my painted piece to make it large enough to cover the pillow form that I found in my cupboard.
I sewed a crystal bead in the centre of each sun-printed flower and then stitched some tiny gold beads around each crystal. Now I'm wondering if I want to add some gold tassels of some sort on the corners. I'll think about it while I get myself another drink!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick Quilting Diversion

I am still quilting every day on my DD and starting to feel a little excited about approaching the binding stage...almost to the end of the marathon! I used a variation of the design that I quilted on the 9 patch blocks (see the 9 patch here) in each of the 18 setting triangles and the 4 corner setting triangles. Each step of this quilting has been quite labour intensive and I needed an easy and fun project to break up this quilting, so I worked on a quick gift for a friend. 
I painted this fabric using the Setacolor paints, which I love but are getting harder to find to purchase. I used foam flowers on the right side and set it outside to sunprint while it dries. The gold highlights don't show up well in the photos, but I was very happy with how it turned out.
Then I sandwiched it with a piece of warm and natural batting and outlined stitched the 11  flowers, then did some swirly curly stitching. It was fun fun fun..just what the quilting Dr. ordered for 
a quilting "pick me up"! Here is how it looks on the back. Now I think I'll do a little beading and finish it up. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sun + Heat = Blueberry Picking

Summer is finally here...better late than never! And with the sun and the heat comes a desire to enjoy the great outdoors. And what better way to do so than picking blueberries! Can you believe that I went to the blueberry patch again?!?  Just look at that perfect blueberry picking sky! If I go to the patch again, I will have to find another place to store the berries because the fridge and the freezer are both full, and my family is getting really annoyed that there is no space for the groceries we need! And they don't want to eat blueberries for every meal!
Today I found a little tiny bird's nest in a blueberry bush. There is netting all around the blueberry patch so this bird must be quite smart to find her way inside. The nest was so beautifully constructed, perfectly circular and so soft and cozy looking inside.
Here is Mama (or Papa?) bird sitting on the you know what kind of bird this is?!? I'm thinking a Warbler or an Oriole? This was one impressive nest builder!
And to prove that I am not just wandering around blueberry patches looking like a crazed berry picker, my DH took a photo of me enjoying the lovely weather in our backyard and stitching a binding. Just look at those tomato plants behind me...they are doing really well and now with the sun and warm weather, maybe the tomatoes will turn red and we can eat something other than blueberries!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Annual blueberry report

Every year that I have been blogging I have written a midsummer blueberry post and today's the day! If you aren't going blueberry picking today and have lots of time to waste, click here for my 2007 report and click here for the 2008 report. 
I have been out to the farm a couple of times to pick berries in the last week and even though I haven't used up the blueberries in the freezer from last year, I am still picking more. 

Why? Because it's fun and you can never have too many blueberries! My family would tell you I am obsessed with blueberries. So I told them about the Quilting Pirate who even makes blueberry liqueur - read about it here
Here is my nephew Andrew who came picking for the first time this year. He liked it for about 3 minutes, and I'm pretty sure that most of the time was spent talking and eating blueberries, not picking them for the baskets! I haven't actually made anything with the blueberries yet, just sorted, cleaned and bagged some for the freezer.
Same thing with sewing... I haven't been sewing much between working night shifts this week, and picking blueberries (and sleeping) during the day. I have been preparing to make the Paper Panache mystery block and decided to challenge myself to paint all the fabrics for this block. I finally have all the colours ready that I need, but still have to paint a little more of the medium blue fabric. 

I can't wait until all the preparation is finished and I can get to the mystery block sewing, while I enjoy blueberry muffins with blueberry rhubarb jam!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Best Press

When I was in Paducah in April I purchased a refill bottle of "Linen Water" by accident, thinking it was "Best Press". When I went to open the bottle I noticed that there was a creepy looking sludge in the bottom of the bottle! I contacted "Quilt in a Day" where I purchased the bottle and they said there was apparently a "bad batch" of that product. They sent me two new sludge-free bottles of the Best Press free of charge. Isn't that great?!?! Here is a photo of the yucky bottle on the left and my new replacement bottle on the right.  It does make me feel a little nervous about using this product, but I really like how it helps flatten the seams when I am piecing blocks, so I'll keep using it and make sure I wash the quilts as soon as they are finished to rinse this stuff out. 

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Plugging along...

...with the garden
It has been such a wet, cool summer that my garden isn't coming along very well. The peas have turned mouldy and all I was able to harvest this year was this little bag of peas which my dog Molly is guarding for me! Believe me, I will make a very big deal about these veggies when I decide to cook them!
...with the machine quilting
That Blendables thread and I are not getting along!  I finally settled on a size 100 needle to reduce the thread breakage, but it makes big holes in the fabric. However, I have successfully quilted the 20 Rolling Star blocks and can move on to quilting the borders.
And guess what happened when I was quilting the Rolling Star blocks? I found my humility block! Once of my blocks has a whole row put on upside down and I didn't notice it until I was quilting it and could see the blue thread on the white fabric for the first time...say what?!?!? I checked back on the quilt top photo I posted on this blog entry and there it is...plain as day...ugh!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Design Wall Monday

I was experiencing machine quilting overload this week and was itching to do some piecing. So I indulged myself with some old pink and purple Fat Quarters I had collected a long time ago (and rediscovered when I was looking for some batting last week). Here are the 12 FQ's I started with.
And here are some of the blocks I have at the moment. I'm not sure if I am liking it, and have sadly come to the following conclusion...
I need to buy more fabric!!! 
Oh goal was to use up fabric not to buy more! Maybe the urge will pass?! I'll just keep sewing blocks and rearranging them and see what happens.