Thursday, March 31, 2011

UFO Progress

I have one more day to meet my goal for my March UFO finish...nothing like cutting it close!!
I finished the Kaleidoscope quilt top last summer and I'm 99% sure that it will be finished before April 1st!
At the beginning of the month, I had fun doodling some possible continuous quilting designs and decided to try this one. It is really fun to sew, and I am tickled that each block turns out a little differently since I am not marking lines or following a traced pattern. I pretend that I am stitching garland on a Christmas tree within each wedge, and when the 8 wedges are quilted, the quilting design for the block looks like a flower.
I finished quilting the 9 inside yellow/green blocks with Mettler "silk finish" thread and LOVED it.
I  chose Sulky Blendable thread to quilt the outside 12 blue/green blocks because the colour is perfect, but am having breakage issues again. I know I have whined about this thread before (to read a previous whine click here) but I think I've learned my lesson this time!
We'll see how long my patience lasts! I might have to run out to the store and buy a blue Mettler or Aurifil thread.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2 colour quilts

There is a wonderful display of 651 Red and White quilts in New York City this week . I am seeing photos of these quilts appear on quilting blogs I read. The first one was on Pat Sloan's blog on Sunday, then I saw Sophie's report here, and Victoria's gorgeous photos here, and then a post on Thelma's blog here.  Then I got 2 emails from quilt friends about this show (thanks to Judy and Nancy).  It looks like an amazing and unique quilt show. 
You can see tons of links about this show on Pat's new Red and White blog - click here.
I love 2 colour quilts and in February I worked on 2 red and white projects projects (to see them click here and here).  But truthfully,  I just don't have what it takes to make a large 2 colour (or 2 fabric...gasp!) quilt.

I wish I did.
I am really struggling with my current 2 colour project - civil war quilt blocks, which I am sewing in blue and cream. I only have to sew one block each week, but I can hardly stand it!
These are the last 3 blocks I made...
#9 Birds in the Air on the right, #8 Cotton Boll on the left, and #11 Louisiana below.

I just am so bored with using only 2 colours, even though I have lots of variety in my fabrics.
It's boring.
Boring. Boring.
So, after waffling about it for a month, I finally decided to finish the blocks I have already sewn into a tabletopper and call it a day! That will free up some time to start 2 other colourful block sampler projects that I have been dreaming of, which will make my sewing time happier :)

As I often say to other people, quilting is our hobby and we should enjoy every minute of it as much as we can. So if I'm not loving what I'm doing, I should take my own advice and move on... n'est pas?!?
Here are my 9 blocks that I will sew together someday... but not today.
I have to get going on my UFO for Judy's UFO challenge that has to be finished by the end of March.
Yikes...I have 2 days left to get 'er done!
I will have fun with that because I have a quilting design idea that I think will be interesting to sew :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Design Wall Monday #13

What's on your design wall this morning? You can see a list of other quilters' design walls over on Judy's blog - click here.
This is what is on my design wall today. The winter just seems to be dragging on, and I felt like working with some cozy flannel over the last week. The centre blocks were a garbage rescue (you can read more about it on this post).
The striped/ticking fabric and the pieced borders strips were leftover from a quilt I made for one of the kids' teachers 11 years ago!
I have the snowball blocks sewn together and the first border attached.
Next step is to add more borders to make the quilt bigger... when the flannel is gone, the quilt is "big enough"!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Green

For my rainbow scrap challenge I have been hand piecing little scraps of very old green fabric using the apple core shape. I am enjoying remembering where these bits came from...the one on the top right was from a pillow I made for my sister 16 years ago, etc.
I cut my template (you see it at the bottom of the photo) out of a cracker box and am tracing the template shape onto the back of scraps using a marking pencil.
I have been inspired by reading Cathi's blog called Quilt Obsession where she does all the quilting steps by hand. Her hand piecing is amazing - you can check out her projects here.  She makes it seem very enjoyable and easy, but I'm telling you that I am not enjoying these curves seams very much! They are fiddley and difficult, and too small for my first hand piecing project in a while.  Maybe I'll make a mug mat or two?!?
To check out the other rainbow scrap postings - click here.
These are the fabrics I'm sending to the blog visitors who correctly guessed my favorite block in the comments from this post - a little taste of spring green!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Donation Quilt Finished!

My sewing time for the past two days was all hand work to finish up our group donation quilt (to read more about the quilt - click here).
We picked up the quilt from Country Lane Fabrics (no website) which is a country Mennonite store that did the hand quilting for us. They generously donated their quilting services for our project knowing that we made this quilt for the Relief Sale.

Here are some close up shots of the wonderful quilting...the double 4 patch blocks were quilted with 4 X's, and the squares with white sashing blocks were quilted with diamond shapes.
Don't you just love that they used a dark purple thread which showcases their wonderful hand quilting stitches?!?!

Here is another photo showing the border quilting and the corner design. It's just so pretty!

So, my first job was the binding.
I had the binding already prepared like I always do. I prepare the strips and roll them on a paper towel tube to store until the quilt is ready for the binding. That way I always have the matching binding fabric and haven't used it up in another project!

I like to stitch it on to the right side of the quilt by machine and then hand stitch it to the back. I know there are many quick ways to bind quilts all by machine, but I love hand stitching a binding (one of my favorite parts of the quilting process) so that's what I do!
I even painted my fingernails to match the border and binding fabric to make it a little more fun (it doesn't take much to thrill me!)

The next step was the hanging sleeve, and that is just plain boring. It's the same stitch as I use on the binding, but it sure feels different to sew it...weird, I know!

The last step was attaching the label. Isn't this a great label that group member Pat found for us?!? There are 4 of us in our little quilting group and only 3 quilters on the label, but that's because I'm always taking the group photos, and am rarely in one!

SO here is the finished quilt, which we are calling "Chicklets"! It is not a good photo and the colours are off, but it's a finished quilt and handed in before the deadline!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Snowy Spring Day

It was a very snowy "spring" day here today.  Schools were open, but buses were cancelled. son didn't ride his bike today! He got his bike tuned up once the snow melted last week, but didn't put it back in the shed, so now it's frozen to the ground and he had to walk to school.

My spirea bushes might not make it this year ...the weight of the snow has bent the branches right down to the ground!

It was so cold and snowy,  I got out some flannel scraps to play with.
At quilt retreat my friend Marjorie had thrown these blocks in the garbage. Some of them were already sewn together, but she was at the point of having made so many quilts from a bunch of fabric that she was sick of looking at, and just couldn't face it anymore. Somehow those blocks came home with me...they were so thankful to be rescued from the trash!
Today I had some fun working on a setting for the blocks and digging in my stash for some flannel scraps for borders.
Yes...I am avoiding the Indian Orange Peel curved seams! LOL Something tells me that you'll be seeing a lot of new projects on my blog in the next little while until I can face the peels again!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cheer up!

This is a post of the things that have cheered me up recently...

1) The robins must have checked their calendars and noticed that spring is supposed to be here...they are out in full force today. This photo shows how everything looks here when the snow melts...grey and brown and dull. We need the birds to cheer us up, so don't tell them that we're getting 10-15 cm of snow overnight!

2) These are the wonderful gifts from my "secret sister" which appeared at my sewing table over the course of quilt retreat! I have had a lot of fun using those fancy tweezers to remove the paper from behind the indian orange peel arcs. I also received a book called Crazy About Quilting which is the next book on my list for bedtime reading.
Thanks to my "not-a-secret-anymore sister" Nancy!
3) Something else that really cheered me up this week was that my 16 year old son was walking home from a friend's house and went out of his way to walk over to Tim Horton's and bring me a coffee made just the way I like it! I was really tickled that he remembered how I like my coffee, and thought to get one for me. And he didn't even want to borrow the car!!!
It's the little things that count when you're raising teenagers!

4) My husband ordered a quilt ladder for me for Christmas and it has finally arrived! He ordered from Robinson's Woodcrafts and this quilt rack is just beautiful...very solid, with a lovely finish. It had to be assembled, but it was easy and quick (according to DH) and looks great. I have been moving it around trying to decide where to display my quilts. Here is is standing behind my sewing machine area. It isn't staying there because the slanted ceilings don't support the rack evenly enough, but it was a great place to take a photo.

What's cheering you up today?!?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Design Wall Monday #12

A couple of weeks ago I posted the beginning of this quilt, which was inspired by a bag of donated scraps. The pattern is called "Hip Baby" and my version is a little brighter than the pattern...seems I can't help myself! LOL

It has been a great "mindless" project to work in between piecing arcs over the last couple of weeks. The blocks are 6 1/2" and use up mostly 1 1/2" squares and strips.
To see other quilter's design walls, hop over to Judy's blog.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Indian Orange Peel Class

Today was the second/final class for the Indian Orange Peel quilt. I sewed my little fingers to the bone this week and was able to finish all the homework just in time. This is what 120 finished arcs looks like!

Here they are in their 2 groups - warm colour teeth on cool backgrounds on the left and cool colour teeth on warm backgrounds on the right.

These are the centre 4 patch blocks that I sewed...we need 25 for the layout, and I sewed 34 because I wasn't sure of my colours.

Here is the teacher Heather Stewart helping me with laying out the blocks. Laying out a quilt is a funny thing...some people love it and savour it and take a long time, and other people want someone else to do it, and they want it done fast so they can get it sewn together.
There were so many thing to think about with laying out this quilt, that it really helped to have several people assisting with the initial efforts.
Here is my layout at the moment...

Looking at it on the computer screen I can see things that I need to change right away! I will hang it up on my design wall at home and work on it for a while and see how it percolates. During the class we sewed one block and it was very challenging. I didn't take a photo because it was very... how shall I say... "bowl like"!!
I'll try again another day when I am feeling more patient, and hope that my second block lays a little flatter!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Spring is definitely here, even though the calendar says we still have a few more days of winter. When I walked the dog I could hear the birds singing and I saw my first robin today...we actually survived another Great Canadian winter! The robin flew away before his photo op, but I did manage to snap this shot of a woodpecker in our front tree. 

Today I had to do two things that I hate to do.
1) Throw out my Valentine roses, which were completely dried out but still looked so pretty to me. But the kids were making fun of my enjoyment of the dead roses, so I had to give in to the peer pressure and put them on the snowy compost pile.
2) I had to fix the buttons on my spring coat. I will hand embroider or hand quilt for hours on end, but I hate to mend or sew on buttons...isn't that bizarre?!? 
Thank you to everyone who left me a comment yesterday guessing my favorite block. I'll be sending out fat quarters to the first few who guessed that my favorite was block many tiny pieces and perfectly made...I loved it! (If you left a comment but your blogger account is set to "no reply", I won't be able to email you to send you a little fabric treat if you guessed #11!)

How did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?!? Traditionally I cook green food for supper, usually green pasta, and green cake for dessert. If you didn't know about Pat Sloan's blog hop, you still have time to visit the participating blogs and enter the draw to win one of her Irish quilt books - click here.

I celebrated St. Patrick's Day by doing a little bit of machine quilting on my green and blue UFO.  I'll write more about this project next week when I can devote more time to this quilt, but I am hopeful that I will be able to finish it before the end of the month!
Most of my sewing time this week is devoted to making arcs for the Indian Orange Peel class on Saturday, and fussing around about warm/cool colours according to the colour wheel. I'll be so happy to go back to making colour choices that I like instead of according to colour theory :) But I'm doing this one by the book and following the teacher's instructions as best I can, in the hope that this quilt will turn out to be as spectacular as it is in my mind! LOL Check back tomorrow for the "arc photo shoot"!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Jacobs Quilt Challenge Blocks

I made the trip over to St. Jacobs to see the challenge blocks. They are hanging in a different building this year (The Mill)  but they were easy to find.
I always like to take my time voting for my favorite... drives my husband crazy! I have to look at each one and think about it. I loved the block on the top row second from the right, but they added black and you were supposed to use just the colours on your paint chip, so I couldn't vote for it. The piecing was amazing on that block! I always worry about how they will be able to put the quilt together, especially with so many different colours this year, but they always do an amazing job. Can you guess which block I voted for?!?
I'll send a Fat Quarter to the first three commenters who correctly guess my favorite block!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Design Wall Monday #11

In every spare minute over the past week I have been sewing indian orange peel arcs for my class this coming weekend and will update with photos later in the week when I am closer (hopefully!) to meeting my goal.
Between the arcs (just for fun) I have been sewing friendship stars for the border around my guild mystery quilt. This is a pattern called Chocolate Stars from Fat Cat Patterns, although I don't see it on the website anymore. Sindy Rodenmayer is the pattern designer and gave us permission to use this pattern as a project for our quilt guild.
I put the blocks up on my design wall to get a sense of the colours I still need to cut out....I think I have enough blue stars!! These are 22 of the 40 blocks needed for the outside border. Can you believe my bad piecing luck is continuing?!? Seriously, who could screw up a friendship star?!?!
Hop over to Judy's blog to see what other quilters have on their design walls today - click here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Scrappy Saturday - Green

It's Scrappy Saturday and the colour of the month is green. I dug out some of my green scraps to piece a couple more blocks for my scrappy quilt. I just love piecing blocks like this, especially after the pathetic episode with my challenge block attempts ...I was ready for playing in the scrap bin!
These blocks are squared up to 6 1/2" so you can see that I used up a lot of little bits. 
To see the other green projects being worked on by the Scrappy Saturday quilters - click here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

St. Jacobs Block Challenge

Have you ever tried to make a block for a challenge and found yourself with a bigger challenge than you bargained for?!? I wanted to make a block for the St. Jacobs Block Challenge- click here and scroll down. You pick up a paint chip and make a 9" block in the colours of your paint chip. I picked pink, since I had a lot of pink in my stash. But can you believe, not one single piece was the right colour?!?!? So I went shopping and bought 3 fat quarters and started sewing. My first block attempt was Washington Star. Even after fiddling around with the printer settings, I couldn't get this pattern to print out properly.

Can you see that the 3 sections were different lengths!  I did my best to sew the block but it was still too small...and one section was even upside down according to the pattern!
So I abandoned the paper piecing idea, and went for something a little easier...

I tried to piece a block called Another 9 Patch Star. 
What happened this time?
Well, it was a 12" block that I had to resize to 9".
First, I sewed the wrong layout (on the left). That took a while to fix!
Once I had the correct layout, I  discovered that my resizing attempts resulted in the wrong sized block!  
So now I had made 2 blocks that were the wrong size!

 I added a couple of borders and also made a quick (easy) 2nd block (called Alabama) to boost my sagging sewing self esteem!
My paint chip is in the middle of my 2 blocks which finally measured 9". The colours vary in these photographs because it has been so dark here, with rain and snow every day, which makes it difficult to take photos. 
The block challenge is viewer's choice, so if you live near St. Jacobs and want to go see the wonderful blocks they received and vote for your favorite,  the blocks will be on display at The Mill from March 12th - 26th. I'll post a photo of all the blocks as soon as I can get over there.
To see a photo of the blocks from the challenge 2 years ago, click here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Journey of a Quilter - Block #8

One of my favorite sayings is by Margaret Mead:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens (women) can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day...I celebrated by going to my quilt guild's 20th anniversary meeting with about 100 of the most inspiring women I know!  Their goal is not to change the world, but they do... 
by spreading encouragement and love and beauty, to anyone who is open to receiving it.  What a great celebration! I am so happy that I found this group of women about 15 years ago to help me on my quilting/life journey!
And speaking of my quilting journey....
I have been slowly (since last fall!) hand stitching block #8 on my Journey of a Quilter project and am so pleased to post the photo of the finished block!! The colours are washed out, but you can see the block and just look how many small scraps were used up.
Only one more block to go....

Monday, March 07, 2011

Design Wall Monday #10

On my design wall today is the Layer Cake Quilt Along project. I am up to date (until Tuesday) with sewing the 9 blocks that have been posted. They are laid out in the order they were made,  and this won't be the final layout - the colours will need to be spread out better, especially that wonderful green! This project needs more orange!

You can see the dotty sashing fabric I had purchased, which isn't going to work - not enough contrast. I'll need something else in there but won't decide until May when the blocks have all been made.

This is block #8 - very fast and easy.

And block #9 was fun with many varied layout options. I put in the tiny connecting corners of the purple stripe to use up the rest of it.
The green and the multicolour fabrics in this block were not from my original layer cake, but were scraps given to me by my sister from a project that she made last year.  Although it doesn't look like it on the computer screen, the greens are a perfect match.
To see other design wall blog posts, hop over to Judy's blog - click here.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Arc update

I am building arcs (not the Noah kind, the Karen Stone kind!) as fast as I can for my Indian Orange Peel quilt. I honestly had no concept of how much time this project would take me. I know that sounds odd since I've been quilting for 20 years and should know better, but I really didn't take the time to calculate it out before I jumped in with enthusiasm. Well, the enthusiasm is waning, but I am I must admit that I love looking at the arcs and arranging them for photographs and love thinking about how my quilt will hopefully come together like I see it in my mind.

On the left are finished arcs # 53 - #60.
On the right are arcs #61-#68.
Many people have asked me how long it takes to make a quilt like this. I have no idea! There is all the fabric shopping, organizing and cutting into strips. Then there is the pairing of warm and cool colours for each arc, and then the paper piecing and trimming of the arc. I know the sewing part takes me about 15 minutes per arc, therefore to sew the 120 arcs will take me approximately 30 hours. But as I've said before, I do really enjoy the zen of mindless paper piecing and look forward to tackling the weird and wonderful curves of the border units.
Below are arcs #69 - #78....I have made over 80 arcs now, and I need 120 arcs for the class on March when we will work on project layouts. Do you think I will make it? Should I start a pool and take bets on if when I finish?

After seeing these photos, I decided I need more yellows and blues in my arcs, so have cut more strips from my stash. And again, reality hit me that if my plan is to not repeat any fabrics in the arcs, I will need 240 fabrics...say what?!? Why did that just occur to me?!? I'm pretty sure I'll be repeating some fabrics soon, since I've depleted my bag of batik pieces.
To see the arcs made by other people who will be attending the class, click here to go to Gail's blog, scroll down past all the great chemo quilts her guild has made, and you can see the arc photos.