Saturday, January 30, 2010

Saturday Sampler #5

As I wrote in this post, my friend Louise visited last weekend and she brought a few of her quilting books for me to enjoy looking at in between piecing my plaid blocks and while chatting up a storm!
One of her books was Thimbleberries "Big Book of Quilt Blocks" by Lynette Jensen. There are a ton of block patterns in this book and in all the years I have been quilting, I don't think I've ever made anything from Thimbleberries...some people will think that is a terrible oversight I'm sure :)
I decided to pick one 12" block pattern from this book to make for my 2010 Saturday Sampler quilt, and eventually settled on "Painted Daisy". Here are the 65 pieces that I cut to start out with.
My favorite parts of this block are the fussy cut corner blocks, which took me forever to settle on (the previous 6 fabrics I auditioned for the corners were rejected), and the plain centre square that I spiced up by more adding connecting corners. I will never admit how many hours went into the fabric selection, cutting, and sewing of this block, and then changing my mind, re-cutting and re-sewing!! Never mind that some of you would have made entire quilt tops given the same amount of time!
Name: Painted Daisy
Designer: Lynette Jensen
Pattern: Big Book of Quilt Blocks

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hand Quilting Day

You will not believe what I am working on this week! My first "quilt-in-a-day" project that I started 18 years ago! All I have left to quilt are the bars on the outside close to finishing. Yep...I think it's about time to finish up this's ready now!
I have laboured over this quilting for years, bringing it out to work on a little bit every winter. Then I got interested in hand stitching and hand beading and I lost interest in hand quilting for a while. I still love the way it feels and the way it makes a quilt look, so I will always be doing a hand quilting project, even if it is a little at a time.
So today I am on call at work, and if there is no violence against women in my community today, I get to stay at home with my pager, and luxuriate (is that a word?) with my hand quilting, while I listen to Bonnie Hunter's interview with Pat Sloan on podcast - click here to listen when you have time to enjoy some hand work.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Design Wall Monday #4

It's a dark rainy Monday here...perfect quilting weather.
Unfortunately I have to get to work, but here's what is on my design wall today...a finished quilt top!
This is from Nancy's 7 shirt pattern - click here to see her instructions.
It makes a perfect lap size quilt from 7 shirts. I put the pockets from 4 of the shirts in the corners. I saved all the buttons from the shirts as Nancy suggested, and I plan to machine stitch in the ditch, and then tie the buttons in the middle of all the blocks.
While I was sewing this quilt top, my friend Louise was here for a wonderful (but too short) visit and look at this celtic knot quilt she is hand quilting. She is quilting on the middle block, so you can see that this is a king size quilt! Very inspiring to get going on my hand quilting projects!
For more inspiration, visit Judy's blog and see all the design walls.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Sampler #4

My goodness how fast a week goes by!
It's time to post my 4th Saturday Sampler block already! Click here to read about this 2010 quilt project.
This week I decided to attempt another block from my Quiltmaker magazine.  (Don't forget to sign up for their contest if you have a copy of the 100 blocks magazine - click here.)
I picked a paper pieced block this week and decided to trace the block pattern on freezer paper. I felt like Alice in Wonderland  - my hands were too small or the block was too big! Something felt out of proportion, because I have recently been working on tiny 1" and 2" blocks and these blocks are 6 1/2", which felt enormous to me!
This week's block is called "Swedish Log Cabin" and the pattern is by Lorraine Olsen (on page 24 of the magazine).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Great News

I have 2 pieces of great quilt news!
The first is that I received a box of scraps in the mail from Julie! Look at all these great fabric bits! Thanks for sharing your treasure Julie! They are going in my pile of things to take to quilt retreat at the end of February...yes, I'm starting to get my projects organized and compile my list of things I want to work on. It gives me something to think about when I can't fall asleep. These scraps are going to be sewn into string blocks that I have been working on for a couple of years. You can see some of my blocks and another pile of scraps in this post from 2007. I should soon have enough to start putting them together and am using the "quilt-as-you-go" technique.
The second piece of news is that my quilt group called the "Sew 'n Sews" picked up the quilt that we made to donate to the Mennonite Relief Quilt Auction in May. (You can read about the beginning of the quilt here.) You can click here to see where the money goes and what they are doing to help the people of Haiti.  The MCC does great international work and we are proud to be a small part of their fundraising efforts.
Our quilt was hand quilted at Country Lane Fabrics, where they also put the binding on for us.
It was a cold day to venture out to the little country store but we were excited to see our finished it is!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quilting finish

In November I showed a couple of photos of starting to machine quilt a quilt for a friend - click here to see that blog post.  This quilt top was made to donate to the charity that our guild supports and it just needed some quilting. We often find in our guild that there are lots of quilt tops waiting for quilting...but I think it's a great way to practise and improve your skills.
I decided to practise different types of feather designs, and at the beginning I was really happy that my quilting could not be seen...all the better to practise on without fear, right??
But as I went along, and I started to feel like the quilting was turning out even better than I had hoped,  I was kind of sad that all that work could not be seen :(
I had a little trouble on the outside border when my machine started snapping the thread for no apparent reason. So I tried slowing down for a while which only tried my patience, and then I gave it a little TLC, re-threaded the top and bobbin threads, added a little oil, gave it a little massage, and some encouraging words and voila...back in business! (I'm joking about the massage!)
If I manipulate the exposure and contrast settings of a photo of the back of the quilt, maybe the quilting can be seen a little better?
Anyway, it was fun and I improved my confidence...what more could I ask for?!?
Coincidentally, I love the art quote of the day on my blog page today...
"Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house (charity quilt) as to build a cathedral (quilt show entry)."
Frank Lloyd Wright 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Design Wall Monday #3

Since I finished a quilt last week (click here to see it), I figured I can start something new this week! Well, actually I would have started this quilt no matter what happened last week, but it sounds better if I tell you I finished one, doesn't it ?!?!?
Here are the blocks on my design wall today...

I teach a quilting class at my local senior's centre, comprised mostly of beginning quilters. Last year one of the students asked me if I could teach her how to make a quilt from her deceased husband's clothing. I had been thinking about that and searching the internet, and found a pattern called "7 Shirts Quilt" - click here to see it.
Once I received permission from designer Nancy to teach her design to the class, I started looking for some shirts at the thrift stores. I found 7 useable shirts but was not happy with the price I paid for wasn't much of a deal compared to buying yardage, and it takes a heck of a lot of time to prepare the shirts - cutting off the cuffs, collars, seams, pockets, buttons, etc.
The first thing I did was wash the shirts and even though they were all used and previously washed, I tossed a "Color Catcher" in with the shirts just to be on the safe side.  I first heard about Color Catchers from Nicole over at Sister's Choice blog (click here) but was unable to find any in my local stores. I finally found them at a store near my sister's home in Michigan and have been using them regularly to wash new fabric.
I was surprised to see how much dye was absorbed by the sheet from these plaid shirts. Here is a new sheet to compare to the one that was washed with the plaid shirts.
Here are the dismantled pieces of the shirts ready to sew. I have the large pieces of sleeves and backs to sew into a backing, the strips for the nine patch blocks, a few smaller strips ready for binding (on the left) and on the right are the pockets which I wanted to save and will maybe use as cornerstones in the outside border.
What's on your design wall today? Want some inspiration? Hop over to Design Wall Monday at  Judy's blog...last week there were 64 quilters who showed their latest projects!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Sampler #3

If you have offspring who are attending (or have attended in the past) university, and are living in residence, you know what this picture's back to school week for the beginning of a new semester. This means the parents are hauling all the kid's belongings back to dorm.
And then there is the panic around submission of fees, which we now have learned requires that 3 of you spend an entire evening crowded around at least 2 computers while you complete the "quick and easy registration"!
Since it was such a busy week around here, I decided to make a "quick and easy" block for my sampler quilt. But unlike the on-line registration, this truly was quick and easy!
I made a block called "Four Square" from Amy's BOM on her blog - click here to see the pattern.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First finish for 2010!

In addition to using up stash fabric this year (especially in pieced quilt backings - see the backing for this quilt here), I want to use up old spools of thread. When quilting a piece this large in the past, I would have gone to Triangle Sewing and picked out thread specifically matched to the project, and usually buy extra so that I would never run out.
However, this year I am going to use up spools that I already have....the year of "threadbusting"!  I used to worry about having enough thread to quilt the entire piece with the SAME colour. I'm over that now, since I have a large stash of partially used spools that need to be emptied, and since I realized that most people cannot tell that I have used 4 different shades of teal thread in this quilt!
I started with these 3 spools and quickly used them up.
Here is one of the spools dangling from the thread feeder on my sewing machine...time for another spool!
I had a great time with this quilting. Some people really dislike machine quilting, but I love it almost as much as the piecing (and sometimes more). I decided to quilt this disappearing 9 patch in straight lines, making it completely different from the pink and purple polka dot disappearing 9 patch that I made last year (click here to see it) which I quilted with wavy lines and circles.
Above is a picture of quilting straight lines across the diagonal of the blocks using my walking foot.

I also practised quilting straight lines using my free motion foot in these white diamonds. It was a lot of starting and stopping (as opposed to continuous line quilting) and it required focus and concentration, but I was happy with the results.

Here is a picture of how the blocks were quilted.

And...drum roll please...
here is my first finished quilt of 2010...
the red and aqua disappearing 9 patch!
Thanks to Jane for hosting the block swap in November and to those quilters who contributed blocks for my quilt!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Design Wall Monday #2

It's time for design wall Monday again. My design wall has been changing frequently for the last few days. I have been cleaning my sewing area, and working on my Saturday Sampler blocks, and every time I walk by my design wall, I rearrange the blocks!
I am still working away on Bonnie Hunter's mystery and have enough of the blocks completed to play with layouts.
These are the Step #5 blocks called "Fox and Geese" and I am tempted to just make a quilt from this block, and put the second block "Pointsettia Star" into a separate quilt of it's own.

See how different the layout looks when a row of partial blocks are added around the outside?

I like both of these layouts, and with a border added, they would be the perfect size for a comfort quilt to donate to my guild.

This is the layout that Bonnie suggests for the mystery quilt, using both of the blocks.  I am only showing half the blocks because it is too large for my design wall.  I also like this layout, so if I use this one, I guess I'll have to make a few more blocks to have enough to make two smaller quilts instead of one huge quilt.
I really can't decide...what is your vote?

Make yourself a pot of tea and then go visit Judy's blog today and see the design walls of quilters around the world - last week there were over 60 blogs to visit!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Teaching day

I had such a great day yesterday teaching some quilters from the Waterloo Quilt Guild. I was nervous to schedule a class in snowy January that required a bit of travel, but as you can see in this photo that I took as I was driving to the class, the highway was clear and dry. I took this picture because I think it is a typical "driving on Canadian highways" photo. I probably should have been paying more attention to my driving and less attention to using my camera!
Here is some of the required baggage for a day of teaching, just brought in from the freezing cold outside (it is currently minus 11 degrees, and with the windchill it feels like minus 18!). It takes a while for the sewing machine to warm up and get running smoothly. And it takes me about 1/2 hour to get everything out of these bags and organized for the quilting demos for the day. But this baggage is nothing compared to some of the huge bags of scraps and cases of fat quarters that these quilters brought to make miniature quilts with!
Here is a photo of the quilters at work in the wonderful community centre they use for classes. In November I taught a different group of quilters from the same guild - click here, and you can see how bright and sunny the classroom always is. It is like stepping into the sunshine zone (in more ways than one!!).
And here is a group shot of some of the blocks they worked on during the day. Since it was the guild's 25th anniversary, the class was organized to celebrate that milestone. They each had to chose one project from 25 mini quilt designs to focus on, which is why each quilter is showing different blocks.

They selected their project based on what they wanted to learn, or which design interested them the most, or for the experienced quilters, which project challenged their skills. It was so much fun touring around the room and seeing the quilts come to life - with different types of fabrics, various colour combinations, and a wide variety of traditional block patterns.
We joked a lot about how making miniature blocks takes just as long, and sometimes longer, than full size blocks, which makes for an interesting "show and tell" when you get home and show your family what you worked on all day!
And we joked about how quilters use their chests as design walls!
Thanks to everyone for making yesterday such a wonderful day, and don't forget to bring your finished quilts to show at your next guild meeting.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Saturday Sampler #2

Amy's Passions blog is posting some BOM patterns this year, and my sampler block this week was made from her instructions.
She calls this block "Rocky Road to Dublin" - the pattern can be found here.

You can read more about my Saturday Sampler project here.
2 blocks down, 50 blocks to go!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Making progress with the mystery

In my spare minutes, I am still sewing away on my mystery blocks. My last post about it was Dec. 21st - click here to see my step #4 blocks, which were fun to sew.
This week I am working on step #5  and it's a BIG step with a lot of sewing.  Here is a wrong block...easily fixed with a seam ripper and some patience! Getting the centre point to match up has been quite challenging and I am lowering my standards increasingly as I want to move to the next step LOL!  I find myself saying "I can do better than that" less frequently, and saying "close enough" more often! Do you know what I mean?!?
I am still enjoying working on these mystery blocks, however I am anxious to move on to the second half of step #5.

The design calls for 48 of these Pointsettia Star blocks and here are the 30 I have finished.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Design Wall Monday #1

It's a New Year and my first Design Wall post of 2010 and this is what is up there today. Nothing exciting, just leftover blocks from making gingerbreads before Christmas, triangle practise blocks for a new mini, and borders that I'm sewing for my Red & Aqua quilt top. This is the first UFO that I am tackling for this year, and if you're a long time blog reader, you know how I hate sewing borders!! It's so boring...and there's all that annoying measuring to do. But I'm so close to finishing this quilt, that I am inspired to get the borders on and get to the quilting stage.
Yesterday this was on my design wall....sewing together bits and pieces of red and aqua fabrics into a quilt backing. I must admit that I really love buying the wide's so easy and convenient, no big pieces to measure, no additional piecing to do right at the end of the project and then no bulky seams to quilt through. However, using the wide backings doesn't use up any stash, especially all those pieces that are hanging around after the quilt top is complete.
Look at my cutting table here...I have cut the binding strips (on the right of the table) and they are ready to sew together. After piecing a quilt, there are so many little pieces hanging around! Some people throw them out, but I could never do that...{shudder}.
I think to myself  "I paid for all of the fabric and I'm going to use every piece"! But this thinking results in lots of little packages of small bits filling up my storage space. SO...this year I am going to try to piece more backings and use up these scraps. I do have more red and aqua blocks and briefly considered putting those in the backing, but I decided to make a second quilt with those.  I wonder what I'll use for that backing since there are very few scraps left now!?!?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Saturday Sampler #1

What do you get when you mix together a new magazine and a carefully collected group of fabrics??
A new quilt project!
And what better way to start the New Year, than to start a new quilt?!?
In my Christmas stocking Santa gave me this Quiltmaker's magazine called 100 blocks. Over the holidays I have been looking at the blocks and thinking about making a block sampler. I really enjoy cutting out little pieces and fussing around to make complex blocks, so this was perfect for me. I was a little disappointed with the number of applique block patterns vs pieced in the magazine, but some of them are quite nice and I may be tempted to try 1 or 2!
So the idea was born to start a weekly "Saturday Sampler" blogpost.
Now what fabric to use?

Over the past year I had been collecting these creams, pinks and browns, some of which are really so dark that they look black. I was thinking of using them in Bonnie's mystery, but didn't think that I had 4 distinct enough colour groupings for the necessary contrast. But I think they are perfect for a sampler quilt.

And here is my first Saturday Sampler block #1 - Wishing Star
Pattern: Quiltmaker magazine "100 blocks" p.39
Block Designer: Bonnie Mitchell
Directions were perfect and the block measures 12 1/2"!
I have been looking on the internet for more block patterns and have found several great sites that have run previous or current BOM's. Here are some of the sites I've found:
Delaware Quilts
3 Creative Studios
Amy's Passions
With Heart and Hands
Friday Block Party
Chocolate Stars
If you have other BOM sites you recommend, please leave me a comment, since I've only collected enough patterns for about 1000 quilts so far LOL!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Here is a common sight in our town this week. This photo shows what little snowfall we have had so far this winter...hardly enough for the winter sports! And it shows our discarded Christmas tree at the side of the road waiting for the city workers to pick up. The trees are sent through the chipper and made into garden mulch for us to use in the spring.  I always feel sad putting everything away after Christmas, so admittedly DH usually does most of the work, because he knows that I would leave things as they are for weeks to come!
I have enjoyed a bit of sewing today and I hope are enjoying your New Years Day here for a fun New Years greeting!
I have two things to mention shopping trip and the winner of yesterday's draw.
First the shopping...DH's family meets halfway between the American relatives and the Canadian relatives for 3 days at a hotel, full of visiting, gift giving, game playing and if all goes well, lots of laughs! The best thing about the location they frequently pick is that is it near Calico Gals. This year the quilt store moved to a new location, which was a very close drive from our hotel off the I 90. This is the new store, which doesn't have the character of the old one, but is very beautiful and modern, with a wide selection of fabrics I haven't seen before.

A few items jumped in my shopping bag without me this FQ pack of fabrics called "Always and Forever"by Alex Anderson.

And look at this gorgeous collection of yellow/pink/orange batik fabrics.  What a great selection of batiks they had! Believe me, I showed great restraint just buying a little piece of these.

And then there was the Mary Engelbreit panel and a couple of coordinating pieces. Some of the very friendly customers were asking me what I was going to do with it. I have no idea, except to enjoy looking at it, for now! It was completely relaxing to stroll around the store and pick up a few goodies to bring home, but now that I am here and more rational, I realize I am looking at 3 new UFO's in the making!!!
And now onto the draw...
It was very inspiring to read the various charities that my blog readers are involved with. Those who entered the draw for the charm pack on Wednesday's post listed many worthy causes they would make a quilt for and I was reminded me once again how generous quilters are!
The winner of the draw (made by my daughter) for the charm pack is...
 Cozy Quilter! Congratulations! I am delighted that she will be making a quilt for CAS, which is a cause that is near and dear to my heart.
Tomorrow I will be announcing my new project for 2010...just can't wait to start something new! LOL!