Monday, October 31, 2011

Design Wall Monday #41

My Letter Quilt Along project is still on the design wall.  The center letters are sewn together and I sewed a containment border around them. 
Now I am working on bordering the asterisks blocks to make them the same width and then will join them together with some sashings to make them hopefully come out to the proper length. I'm not sure if that will be a finished quilt or if other borders and/or blocks might want to be added.
To see what other quilters are working on today, hop over to Patchwork Times. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tiny Twister

Last month I finished a tablerunner using the Lil Twister ruler - click here to see that project. It was really fun to make, but imagine my surprise when 2 of my quilting friends found an even smaller twister ruler, called the "Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheel"!

I got out some scraps and went right to work/play. It was fun fun fun!

I had some trouble when I tried to machine quilt this little treasure with invisible thread - look at the size of the skipped stitches! It reminded me how much I hate invisible thread! Once I switched over to Aurifil thread...smooth sailing quilting!

Then I got out the bead box and sewed a tiny bead in the centre of each pinwheel.

To compare the size of the blocks, I put my thimble on the sure is tiny!

Just how tiny is it?!? About the size of a Tim Horton's coffee!
Thanks to Deanna and Barb for sharing their tiny rulers!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Time

Every October I renew my love affair with apples. They are so fresh, crisp and cheap at this time of the year. And because I have braces on now, I can't bite into a yummy apple for a while! So I have been experimenting with some apple recipes that will allow me to enjoy the fall apples throughout the year (while not damaging the braces!)

First I made Judy's Caramel Apple Jam. It was yummy but even the kids thought it was too sweet. Maybe I used the wrong (not tart enough) kind of apples?

Then I made a batch of Judy's Apple Butter which is cooked in the crock pot and made the entire house smell delicious all day. I really cut down the sugar this time and used a little more than half of the recipe (2 cups of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar). Just perfect! I could even sip this treat through a straw if worse comes to worst!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Challenge

Today was the day to confront my next challenge.  No one guessed what I was up to when I wrote last week on this blog post that I was taking on a new challenge. This was the clue:
"it is something I've wanted to do since I was a kid, but my family couldn't afford it. Now I can afford it, but am scared to do it!"
Some good guesses left in the comments were piano lessons, bungee jumping or travelling. Those would be way more fun than what I chose!
I got braces put on...a full set of railroad tracks. Very attractive! In the last couple of years my front teeth have been rubbing together, and breaking off due to that friction. So I decided that if I still wanted to have front teeth, I needed to separate them and realign my jaw to have correct chewing that doesn't result in broken teeth. So, I did all my homework, made the choices and followed through. Today I think I can feel my heartbeat in my teeth. My teeth are throbbing and I feel like my mouth is full of marbles. I am reviewing my list of the reasons why I did this to myself! 
Don't feel much like quilting, but I still have 5 days before the end of the month, and I am sure I will be able to finish my October UFO by then.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Design Wall Monday #40

My quilting time has been completely taken over with ***asterisks***
It is totally out of control! Last week I made a mini with 9 tiny asterisk blocks -click here to see it. Over the weekend, in spite of having my first cold/bronchitis of the winter season, I finished making 30 larger (4" - 5" blocks) using the tutorial on the Selvage Blog. These blocks are for the border of my letter quilt along project that I showed on last week's design wall. I am out of this fabric now, so that is as many blocks as there will be and now I have to figure out how to make them into a border.
To see other quilt design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times and visit all the interesting links posted there.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Scrappy Saturday - Orange

It's Scrappy Saturday over at the Rainbow Challenge.  Last week I showed some orange asterisk blocks that I made. I had so much fun with them that this week I made a few more blocks in other autumn colours. 
These asterisk blocks finished at 2" and the mini quilt measures about 10.5" square. It doesn't take a lot of scraps to make a block...try it you'll like it! I found the instructions here on the Selvage Blog and just kept making smaller blocks until I was happy with the size.  I used up a few more scraps on the cornerstones and border/backing/binding, and then we went outside for a photo shoot in the tree in my fits in perfectly!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Big Girl Panties!

While I'm on a roll of challenging myself, I "put on my big girl panties" and put my 45 crumb blocks (from Jo's Crumb Quilt Along) on the design wall. Take a deep breath...

I was surprised that I actually like the effect of my random colour play!
Here are some of my thoughts:
*the star blocks don't fit in. They draw the attention to themselves and don't look right anywhere. The colours are too contrasty, and not blendy enough. I want to remake them.
*I really like the flying geese blocks and want to make more of those in different colours.
*there seem to be 3 colour groupings: orange/pink, blue/green, and rust/gold. I would like to make a few more blocks blending the 3 colour groupings.
What are your thoughts? I would love to hear your creative ideas on layouts, sashings or not, borders or not, etc.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Challenging Myself

I am on a roll this month of challenging myself to do hard things. Last week I testified in court for my job, and although I have done it many times before, it's excruciating every time. This led me to thinking about life challenges and quilting challenges, and how I want to be a person that meets those challenges head on vs. being someone who avoids difficult/new things. 
So I wrote this on a big piece of paper and put it on my bulletin board...

How I will tackle challenges:
1. Make a plan.
2. Work up my courage by practicing, and by saying kind and encouraging things to myself.
3. Be brave and just start.

This week's challenge was to tackle a (new to me) free motion baptist fans designs on a large quilt.  If you've ever tried to do this on a domestic sewing machine, you know it is not an easy thing to accomplish. 
I worked out a plan of how best to handle the bulk of the quilt and how to get the fans going in the same direction. For the first time ever, I did not start with a stabilizing grid of "stitch in the ditch". I just started on one side and plan to quilt to the other side...yikes! 
The plan is that when I get to the middle, I will turn the quilt around and try to quilt the fan design the opposite other words, I will be quilting the same design upside down for the second half of the quilt. I have been practicing drawing the design on paper starting from both directions and I think I can do it. 
So I followed my 3 steps to tackling far, so good! I found that I like the look of 6 arc fans, but I  can only quilt 4 arcs without going all wonky and losing the smoothness of the arcs. 
I haven't had any skipped stitches or thread breakage at all...yippee! I am using my favorite Aurifil thread with beige in the bobbin and a light aqua, and a #100 topstitch needle (you can see the difference in the size of the eye of the topstitch needle on this Schmetz site).

I guess I need to add step #4: Have faith that it will go well and if it doesn't, have hope that I can figure out another plan!
Wait until you see what my next challenge is! Here's a is something I've wanted to do since I was a kid, but my family couldn't afford it. Now I can afford it, but am scared to do it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Design Wall Monday #39

This project is still on my design wall but lots of progress has been made. I followed the advice that Krista gave on last week's design wall Monday comments, and moved the purple asterisk in the 3rd row to the left of the letter 'P' and I like that better.
The letters are now sewn together into rows (which took way longer than I thought it would!) and I just need to make all the rows the same size by adding pieces to the sides of some of the shorter rows. 
Then I made 12 more asterisk blocks to make into a border. I love how those blocks are all different sizes depending on the width of the strip of fabric I used. I plan to keep making asterisks until all the strips are gone and might end up putting some on the back of the quilt.
If you want to make a similar alphabet quilt, check out Lynne's Red Letter Quilt Along. And to see other quilters' design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scrappy Saturday - Orange

The colour of the month is orange over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. It's the perfect month for this colour as the leaves around here are changing into beautiful colours and looking very orange this week. 
I pulled out my orange scraps and made a few crumb blocks for my rainbow quilt (you can see purple here, and green here). I especially like the block with the witches hat and the Santa hat in the same block! I also sewed up a couple of tiny asterisks, which I am loving. 
To see more orange projects, hop over to So Scrappy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October UFO Update

October's UFO is basted and it is now taunting me! It is saying "just do an all-over stipple are too hard to free motion". Sometimes my mind wanders to easier UFO's I could work on and put this one back in the closet! I fall asleep at night wondering how I will handle all the bulk of the quilt in the harp of my sewing machine if I move from one side of the quilt to the other.
So then I got to thinking that hand quilting fans would be much easier and I even got out a marking stencil that Julie sent me a while ago to see if that could entice me to hand quilt. But I know it will take me 20 years to finish and I already have a hand quilting project on the go that I have been working on for more than 10 years, so I put the stencil away again.
Then I distract myself with cleaning up my sewing area (you know it's bad when I'm cleaning!) and then started organizing bobbins, which are mostly empty from using up bits of thread for my crumb blocks. I wound up 5 bobbins this weekend to be prepared for the moment when my motivation arrives and my courage is high....which hopefully will be any day now!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Crumb Along

I am crumbing along with the gang over at Jo's and here are the four log cabin blocks I made. I started with a triangle shape in the center (instead of a square) just for fun, and think that they turned out quite cute.
Jo suggests that we should lay all the blocks out to see what kind of blocks we might want to make more of, and to check if the colour balance is how we wanted it. Now I'm breaking into a cold sweat. I'm scared to take this pile and spread it out. 
I'm scared of the dreaded IOP boogie man!
Just like when I made my IOP (Indian Orange Peel) blocks, I  LOVED making each block. On their own, each block is a wonderful combination of scraps and I think each one looks so pretty. But what if I put them together and they don't play nice, and hate their neighbours, and I see that I have spent a huge amount of time making a big ugly mess???
This is how I drive the car too... I just start out in a direction that is probably going to get me there, get lost along the way, meet some nice people while asking for directions, meander around the countryside enjoying the scenery, and eventually arrive at my destination (drives my husband absolutely crazy). But it's fun and it makes me happy...unless of course I get hopelessly lost and the trip turns into a disaster and then it's not so fun!
What kind of trip is this crumb quilt going to turn into?!?
I think I will just keep making blocks, and putting them in the block baggie, and keep enjoying the journey as long as possible!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Design Wall Monday #38 and Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is the Canadian Thanksgiving and everyone is enjoying a relaxing day at home. I will be doing some gardening and some cooking, but hope to sew most of the day.
Today is also Design Wall Monday and this is what I plan to be working on... my Letter Quilt Along project.
I made each letter with a random choice of the colours in my focus fabric, and am not loving how the red letters line up, but I decided that I am not going to fuss with any of the colours. Nor am I going to worry about the shape of each letter. I know that some letters are too tall or too small, too thin or too wide, but I am just learning how to make letters so I keep repeating to myself "it is what it is"!  Now I have to make all the letters be the same height, and then I have to make the rows be the same length.  Thanks to Tonya for her great book Word Play Quilts and to Lynne for all the tips and inspiration. 
I got the idea for adding the asterisks from Jean's letter quilt, and used the tutorial on the Selvage blog.  The green block was my first one using the tutorial sizes. Each successive block grew a little smaller and now I am totally in love with this block and want to make a whole border of the asterisks blocks. I don't know how far my fabric will stretch, but I decided to just start making them and see what happens.... how fun!
To see other design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.
Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian blog readers!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Civil War Blocks

A quick update on my Civil War quilt blocks....I am a little behind my goal on this project, but have made 2 more blocks, which is at least making some movement in the right direction! 

This is a classic block - #27 Irish Chain
You can click on the link to read some interesting information about the origin of the name of this you know what an irish chain really is?

And here is block #28 Next Door Neighbour - this link has a fascinating story about a resilient woman and her family of 14 children.

And if you are looking for some blogs to visit while you drink your morning tea/coffee, I have a little list here for you. My busy schedule is helping me to resist starting anything new, but it's fun to look at the blocks's the list:
Lori has a list of 7 block of the month projects.
QuiltJane has an interesting block project going called Desperate Housewives.
Konda over at Moose on the Porch Quilts is hosting a Fat Quarter Stars Quilt Along.
Blue Nickel Studios is having a block a day Quilt-Uberfest for October.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Long Week

It has been a long and tiring week at work.  I had to testify in court for one of the assault cases I have been working on since the spring. My actual "on the stand" time was only one day, and the defense lawyer interrogation wasn't as nasty as it has sometimes been, but it was exhausting none the less.
All of my worrying about the possible outcome soaked up my extra energy that I usually use for quilting in the evenings, so I haven't accomplished much this week. 
I spent some of my waiting time doodling baptist fans in anticipation of quilting this month's UFO. Can you see that I am having a hard time keeping the fans going in the same direction? 
There is some information on line about quilting baptist fans by hand and special rulers to use for long arm baptist fanning, but there is not much information out there for us regular machine quilters wanting to try the fans. Perhaps that should be a clue to me that it's too hard?!?  The most helpful information I found was on Mary's blog in 2009. The idea to try the baptist fans on this quilt just won't go away, so I'm planning to just dive in and try it. I would prefer if all my fans curved in the same direction, but I might have to give up on that...we shall see!

I have the backing, batting and thread and can't wait to get started. I hope to get the quilt pin basted and the quilting started this weekend... wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Crumbing Along

What a fun scrap project this has turned out to be! 
Some of these blocks I showed last week, but since then I have added a new heart block,  a new 9 patch block, two more 4 patch blocks and a cute 4 patch star block.
I was starting to worry about how frenetic the whole project was appearing, and I was also starting to fuss about my lack of a plan (as in I have included all colours and nothing is co-ordinated). Angela reminded me that this project could be all about the process if I wanted it to be...and I do! But sometimes I need to be reminded to have fun and stop worrying about the end result! Thanks Angela!

And in this week's crumb post, Jo has focused on the amazing versatility of the triangle. I have made 4 blocks so far, including a couple of bows, a shoo fly, and a broken dishes block. I have no idea why they are mostly in blues, but I can tell you that it was the most relaxing sewing I have done in a long time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Design Wall Monday #37

The pieces for my Quiltmaker Secret Window Mystery are on the design wall today, so if you are working on this quilt and haven't yet solved the mystery, stop reading! I haven't seen many of these posted in blog land, and I have been hesitant to post mine because I didn't want to ruin the surprise for anyone sewing along.
I have been working on this mystery since July and although I consider myself an experienced mystery quilter, this one has been a challenge! The fabric requirements did not list whether the fabrics should be light, medium or dark, and some of my choices were wrong. For example, the top block on the right is with the fabrics I chose, which doesn't have enough contrast, so I made some last minute substitutions and put in some fabrics I hadn't planned on.
This past week I packed up my pieces and partial blocks, and went to sew at my friend Louise's house. We sorted out the problems of the world, and also organized our mystery quilts...
and ta da...

my blocks are on the design wall today!
The colour is way off because the sun has been MIA ...but you get the idea. 
You can see where I had to stretch my fabric by piecing four patches where squares should be, and you can see where I ran out of some fabrics. But I think it's turning out better than I thought it would! And if you stand really far back from it, it's quite nice!
Also I have some nice border fabrics to spruce it up (I hope!)
To visit other quilt bloggers and see what's on their design wall, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Scrappy Sunday

This has been such a busy week with family and work commitments, that I haven't accomplished nearly as much as I had hoped. I had too many things on my "to do" list and didn't even get to see one of my favorite quilt shows this weekend :(
I have been thinking about the thought provoking post by Julie of Me and My Quilts (click on the link to read the "Thinking Thursday" post) and plan to do some writing to focus my thoughts a little more.
When I did have time to sew, I was tired and found it difficult to focus, so I just cleaned up a bit and then started sewing some blocks for the crumb along. I made two 4 patch blocks (on the right) and two 9 patch blocks (on the left). They turned out OK, but it was even more relaxing to just sew bits together with no plan.

The colour of the month for the Rainbow Challenge is orange, so I got out some orange crumbs and managed to get one orange block sewn before I became distracted with mixing orange with pink!

And by then I was feeling very relaxed and happy! I love these blocks and hope that they will play nicely with all the other blocks that I've already made. Making these blocks sometimes feels a little bit like painting...add a little of this colour and a splotch of that, and see what you get! I also learned from the comments on last week's crumb post that I should leave each block alone and not fuss over them... maybe I should do that in real life too! LOL