Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Free Motion Challenge - January's Tutorial

Two blog entries in one day?!? 
I forgot to write about my Free Motion Quilting Challenge block. I do believe that practice is the key to improving quilting skills, and this challenge seemed like a great motivator to try new designs and pick up tips from some amazing machine quilters. 
The January teacher is Francis Moore, and she demonstrated  a design called "heart shaped leaf".
Pop over to her blog and read her Guidelines for quilting...love it!
I practiced on paper first as I always do, and enjoyed the "feel" of the design. I learned that it was tricky to change the direction of the leaf, but necessary to improve the look. And I learned I would have to force myself to remember the inside vein.
Then I started on my quilt sandwich using some hand painted fabric that I have set aside for this challenge project. 
It was really fun! Here is my finished sample. I just realized there is one errant loop in there...that's weird! There are some spaz-outs where the shape get a little wonky, but overall... I love it! I would totally use this design for a large quilt.
Go and check out the links to over 300 bloggers taking part in the challenge - click here.

Crumb Quilt Update

Jo is having a crumb quilt check in today. I must admit that I have not made any progress since November in sewing together my batik crumb quilt. 
But the good news is that I have figured out what I want to do and finally have a vision for this quilt! I want to add 8 letter blocks, and have a few more crumb block to sew as fillers. 
So now I have a plan and a new deadline/goal of March 2nd. 
Wish me luck!
I have been distracted by working on a thousand few other quilts, and also by this glorious winter weather. We haven't had nearly enough snow here this year to suit me, so I have tried to enjoy each and every snowfall. So beautiful!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Design Wall Monday #5

Today is the last design wall post for January. On my 5 January design wall blog posts, I showed 6 different projects, and none of them are nearing completion. Let's just say I am generating UFO's for next year's UFO list.
I just love what is on my design wall this week!
On the right there are rows of black and white 4 patches for our group quilt. It must get to the quilters asap to be ready in time for this year's quilt auction in May, so I have to stop procrastinating those borders!
On the top left is my 12" block for Jo's Quilt Square Quilt Along. I am using up the Sweetwater scraps from my Quiltmaker mystery that I finished in December (click here to see that quilt). 
I just love my first block! There will be 12 blocks made over the year, a new one posted each month, and at the end of the year I plan to make my blocks into a sampler quilt.
To see other blocks, hop over to Jo's blog where she's hosting a linky party.
On the bottom left of my design wall is another 12" block from my 100 blocks magazine (vol. #4). This block is called "Times Nine" by Jo Morton. It was so fun to sew! I love how each block looks different depending on the placement of the light, medium and dark fabrics. Most of the fabrics are civil war reproductions. I don't know what I will do with this block and just made it for fun. For now, I am just admiring it on my design wall!
To see other design walls, hop over to Judy's blog.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Creative Winter Activities

We're having some fun with creative winter activities here. Yesterday was windy, cold and snowy. Driving my kids to their various jobs was absolutely treacherous and only because of my "old lady driving" (as my kids say) and divine intervention (no traffic coming in the oncoming lane where I ended up) did I narrowly escape a collision. 
Here's a video clip that reminds me of yesterday:

So what else can you do on a snowy day but quilt?!? 
Well, I also did some comfort cooking. I made a ham and bean soup for supper which the kids didn't enjoy (which means I'll be eating the leftovers all week long!)
Then I baked some banana crumb muffins using a recipe from April's Art blog, and the kids loved those.
Then I spent the rest of the day quilting. (Well, not exactly "the rest of the day"...in and around doing laundry, dishes, driving kids to work, guitar lessons, and dealing with the dog).
I was able to capture the moment that the sun peeked through the window to shine on my blocks (for this quilt) all lined up and ready to sew together.
Hope you are enjoying some relaxing creative activities on this snowy Sunday!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Red

Today is the last day for the red scraps in the 2012 Rainbow Scrap Challenge.
I did some cleaning of the quilting room this week looking for some red squares for this quilt, and organized a lot of tiny scraps. Some are so adorable... where did this little pig come from?!? I enjoy visiting with old scraps and remembering when I used the larger pieces of yardage, and thinking of the finished quilts (and UFO's!) that they are a part of.
These are the eight 6" crumb blocks I sewed.
They look a little 'blah' in this photo...but they will look terrific when they are put together with other crumb blocks I have been making over the last 2 years - click here to see some the blocks that will join together with these to become a quilt at the end of the year.
Did you see last week that over 20 bloggers posted red scrap projects?!? Amazing! Check out this week's rainbow bloggers.
wonder what the colour for next month will be?!?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another finish!

Wow! Two quilts finished within one week?!?!
(Truth be told...I am aiming for a hat trick by the end of the month!) This is my second finish...the Pink Lemonade quilt along by Lori at Humble Quilts
This quilt is not as big as it seems to be on the computer screen. I made my churn dash blocks 2  1/4" (finished),  so the quilt finishes at about 10" x 13", and is as cute as a button (and we quilters know just how cute buttons can be!)
Somehow the "lemonade"(yellow) pieces fell out of my version of the quilt, and I don't know why, but they were replaced with more of a cosmopolitan (red) essence!
I used up a lot of scraps on this one. You hopefully can't tell, but some of the red squares were pieced from smaller scraps, and some of the half blocks were really using up the tiny bits so they don't have the same pinks within the blocks.
I did some straight line quilting as recommended by Lori. I didn't draw any lines as you can probably tell on this photo of the back of the quilt ...just "eyeballed" it across the blocks. I had already quilted it when I read this blog post by Debbie about using a hera marker to mark your quilting lines. I have a hera marker and really like to use it for complex quilting designs, but just didn't think about it for straight lines! Funny how a solution is sometimes right in front of us, but we just don't see it.
Thanks again to Lori for a fun quilt along and a great little quilt!
For some quilty inspiration, hop over to one of my favorite blogs Crazy Mom Quilts and visit the links for "Finish It Friday".

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Finish of 2012

This is my first finished quilt of 2012!
The batik quilt blocks were donated by Beverly from my quilt guild. She didn't like the blocks and I loved them...aren't they so colourful and happy?!?  
I put a purple sashing around the blocks last April, and bought the purple with orange flowers batik for the backing in June. You can see the backing in the top left corner of this photo... it's so pretty. 
I did a very simple machine quilting pattern...wavy lines around the squares in each block and a few wavy lines down the sashing. It's my favorite quilting design to use when I want something fast and easy to get a quilt finished.

I like to try new techniques so thought I would try putting on the binding Annie's way, which is to sew on the binding first and then trim the quilt after. She said that the backing and batting lay flatter, and she never has wavy edges. I usually trim the quilt first and then add the binding after.

So I tried Annie's way and the quilt edges are indeed very flat. However, I nicked one of the corners when I was trimming the batting...can you see here where I cut the fold...yikes! The cut only went through 1 layer of my bifold binding, so I just left it :) Next time I'll try to be more careful with the trimming!
Thanks for the tips Annie on trying a new binding technique! Isn't blogland wonderful?!?
This quilt will be donated to my guild's community outreach program.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Design Wall Monday #4

On the design wall today is my UFO challenge project for the month.  Judy picked project #5 for this month, and this is my #5... batik cats. This quilt top is so old, it predates the start of my blog (2006), so it has not been mentioned before. I just found the top when I was cleaning over the holidays. My best guess is that it was made 12+ years ago! It was made from a Fat Quarter bundle of batiks and the layout was from one of the earliest editions of EQ
I bought the border/backing fabric at Creative Sister's Full Moon Frenzy Jan. 9th and it took me two weeks to get the borders sewn on! It's not that attaching borders is difficult... it's just so boring that I procrastinate the task. Now it's done and I can move on to the pin basting and machine quilting steps. I am thinking of trying the "railroad tracks" quilt design that I saw on Annie's blog - click here to see her photo. Annie was inspired by Leah's blog - click here to see the video. I think it looks like a fun design to try, and one that I might be able to complete within the next week in order to meet my goal of finishing this quilt by the end of the month.
And speaking of fun machine quilting, I taught a feather quilt class on Saturday at Triangle Sewing.  Here are the brave students who found out that they were indeed amazing feather quilters!
Thanks so much to Karen for bringing her camera and sending me the photo so I can remember this wonderful group of quilters and the fun time we had quilting away the afternoon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

FNSI Report

A lot of sewing went on during FNSI last night...and a little of this!
Of course we had to drink Pink Lemonade, because I was working on my Pink Lemonade Quilt Along and I hope to be able to finish it tomorrow.
Mostly I worked on sewing 4 patch blocks for this quilt, which has been waiting for the borders since last July. I got about half of the required number of blocks finished.
The best news is that I found the missing blocks for my mystery quilt, so I can finish that one now too!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Night Sew-In

So guess what today is?!? 
Are you joining in the fun?!? There are already over 150 participants signed up...the more the merrier! It's a virtual party, so you are invited to put on your comfy PJ's and sew all night.
My sister is coming to sew with me, and I'm sure we will have some great snacks and special drinks!
I plan to work on my pink lemonade quilt-along and also hope to put the binding on this quilt, which has been given the snuggle test my Miss Molly. I love how she thinks I don't see her on the quilt if she ignores me!
I'd like to work on this mystery quilt, but still haven't found the blocks, so I might have to work on my January UFO!
Tune in tomorrow to see what gets accomplished!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pincushion Parade

So many fun things are going on in blogland....quilt alongs, mystery quilts, and this week Jo told us about a pincushion parade over at Beth's "Love Laugh Quilt" blog. Who can resist a parade?!? Not me!
I wrote a blogpost a while ago about these little pincushions I made out of quilt scraps (click here to read more about it). I love these little pincushions and use them every day.

This is the one I use most frequently right now... it sits right beside my machine and is getting pretty dirty!
Of course we've all had these plastic pincushions forever.  I like that they are magnetic, so all the pins stay on when you drop them on the ground, which I do regularly. The one on the right has been dropped so much that it is broken, and needed to be retired from active duty ... R.I.P.!

I love this old pincushion that was made for me many years ago by my friend Amie. It sits by my machine and collects all my thread ends (which I keep of course...click here to see my thread storage jar!)

My favorite portable pincushion (well, more like a pinkeeper) is this one made for me by my friend Jackie...it goes everywhere with me.

This is the inside...some pins and some hand quilting needles for stitching on the go.
Hop over to see the pincushion parade...there are amazing pincushions out there to admire and covet!

Machine Quilting

I have been machine quilting my January UFO this week (yippee for me not leaving it to the last minute!) and it has gone really well (photos to come soon)...except for problems with the thread. I am using up a spool of Wonderfil Konfetti thread, which you see on my machine here.
Not once, but TWICE, there has been a knot in the thread coming off the spool...as in 2 ends of thread tied together!!! I am machine quilting at a high rate of speed and the first knot snapped my needle in half and scared the living daylights out of me! When the knot got to the eye of the needle and couldn't get through the eye, something had to give! 
The second time I saw a knot coming off the spool, I said some not nice words and was able to stop in time to take a photo! Can you see the knot in the thread there?!? That will not go through a quilting needle! So I have to catch it in time, stop quilting, cut the threads, rethread the machine/needle and start quilting again....or else risk breaking another needle....yikes! I have never had this happen with my beloved Aurifil thread (no affiliation, just a very happy customer!).
I have been thinking about signing up for the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge to practice some new quilting designs. And lest you think that I am out of control with signing up for blogland quilting events, mysteries, sew alongs, etc. go visit Linda's blog and read her posts on some of the quilty fun currently available and FREE to all of us - part 1 and part 2. And you will see how many wonderful projects I have resisted...patting myself on the back over here!
For a very inspiring blogpost on "Quilting Without Fear" (not including when the thread you are using has knots in it that snap your needle in half!!) hop over to the Free Motion Quilting Project. Leah also has a quilt along happening weekly, but I know for sure I can't keep up with that frequency. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday War Blocks

I've had a wee sabbatical from my Civil War blocks but am determined to get back to them. You never know how long the patterns will be posted on the blog, although the pattern designer and blog creator Barbara Brackman says that the patterns will be available until July 2012. I don't want to wait until the last minute to get these blocks done!
I am making my blocks using brown and blue civil war reproduction fabrics and this week finished making block #35 Star of the West. It was an added challenge to get the striped brown fabric going the correct direction in all the half square triangle blocks.

This is block #36 Kentucky Crossroads and it was a quick and easy block to make. I really like the effect of the striped fabric on the diagonal strips.
Block #37 is called Confederate Rose. Reading the instructions was the hardest part of sewing this block...templates, digital proportion wheel, etc. I briefly thought I wouldn't do that block, but it looked so simple that I just made it up and it turned out "close enough"...no one will ever know!
Block # 38 is Ohio Star which is one of my favorite blocks. I made a scrappy version to use up some of the triangles I had leftover from sewing previous blocks. It was interesting to me that I have heard my Dad sing the song that is referred to in the post about this block.
I have only 10 more sampler blocks to sew, as I am not making the applique blocks, and my goal it to complete 48 blocks, which makes a nice layout of 6 x 8 blocks.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Design Wall Monday #3

I've been working away on my blocks from the mystery class I took last November (click here if you want to read about the class and project). 
I have been trying to arrange the blocks so that there is no seam matching to worry about in the middle of the blocks, and also so that none of the same fabrics are touching each other. And now I seem to be missing 2 blocks! I'll have to look around (aka clean up the studio!) and find the missing pieces.
Hop over the Patchwork Times blog and start off your week feeling inspired!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Red

This is my first rainbow scrap challenge posting this year. I have been enjoying the challenge postings  (click here for last Saturday's list) and really loved participating last year, but hadn't settled on what I wanted to do with my scraps this year. I liked the idea of making the same block each month with the chosen colour (like Amy is sewing her "Jack in the box" blocks) but hadn't found the block I wanted... until now!
My pattern is from the Quiltmaker 100 blocks magazine volume #3. It has a total of 69 pieces in the 12" block, and the best part is that it uses up 56 little 1 1/2" scraps of one colour! The block pattern is by Tina Curran, and if you click here and go to her gallery, you can see (on the very bottom of the page) a she quilt made from 12 of these scrappy blocks set on pointe.
It was great fun digging through scrap boxes and bags (my organizational system is still not the greatest, despite years of efforts) to find 56 different red scraps! I found scraps with little bears, flowers, tiny mice, snowflakes, christmas lights...what fun!
My 2012 rainbow challenge block is called "KNOT"...love the name and love the block! I even found some light background fabrics with red in the them. 
Best part of this block...searching for the scraps!
Worst part of this block...precision cutting of all those tiny squares!
Hop over to Angela's blog and check out the other rainbow challenge postings to see what quilters are making with their red scraps.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lucky Friday the 13th

Happy Friday the 13th!
It's a lucky day for me...17 years ago I was gifted with a baby boy, and although the Dr. tried to force him to enter the world before Friday the 13th, he would not co-operate! Guess he was waiting for his own special/lucky day to enter the world! To see his cuteness - click here.
I have been having some great quilty luck this week in machine quilting a donation quilt. You can see the quilt top on this blog post from last April, when I sewed the borders onto the donated blocks.  I bought the backing on the sale rack at Keepsake Quilting while visiting New Hampshire last June. Yes... this quilt has been sitting and waiting patiently since then! And this week, is it's lucky week to be finished!
The thread I'm using on the top is Aurifil thread and Superior thread is in the bobbin, and it has been a great combination. I haven't had a single thread break or trouble with the tension, which has allowed me to relax and enjoy the machine quilting.
This is the quilt in my sewing machine. I don't know if you can see the quilting design  here...it's not a great photo, since it was taken late at night (have I mentioned that sleep is highly overrated?!?).
I am just quilting three wavy, concentric lines in each block, and then horizontal/vertical wavy lines in the borders. Very fun!
Hope you have a lucky Friday the 13th today!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another project started!

Yes, I caved again!
I started Lori's Pink Lemonade Quilt Along!
But in my own defense, it is a small quilt (won't take much time), and I had ALL of these baby half square triangles (HST's) sitting around doing nothing! They were leftover from the blocks I made from my Saturday Sampler blocks.
I trimmed the HST's to 1 1/4" so my churn dash blocks will be 2 1/4" finished, which is exactly half of the size of Lori's. I made a few extra blocks to use up all the HST's, so I might make my quilt layout a bit bigger (as in using more blocks...the quilt will definitely not be BIG!).
Step #2 is already posted, so I better check my scrap bag and see what I can come up with for the half blocks. 
Good thing I started something new...I almost had to work on a UFO there for a minute! Phew!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Design Wall Monday #2

On the design wall today is my finished quilt top for the New Year's Day Mystery over at Planet Patchwork. I went to their website to get the link for the pattern to post it for you, but it may have already been removed...I couldn't find it!
I used up lots of my favorite Dr. Seuss fabrics and love it so much I am planning to keep this quilt for myself! Did you see one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes that I have posted on the bottom of my blog??
“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” 
That's my inspiration quote for this year, so it's perfect that my 2012 New Year's Day mystery quilt was made from Dr. Seuss fabrics!
You can see some of the other mystery tops posted on the Planet Patchwork facebook page - click here.                   And for design wall inspiration, hop over to Patchwork Times and visit the blog links.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Relaxing Sunday

It has been a long week and I'm tired today, so I am pin basting a quilt. I needed something relaxing to do... and this is a "no brainer" activity.
Want to see what it's like inside my busy (sleep deprived) brain?  Click here. It's a scary place in there! LOL
Don't know why I am working on finishing this particular quilt today...it was calling me I guess. I am a "quilt whisperer", so quilts do talk to me - remember this blog post from 3 years ago?? This quilt wants to be finished, and I have the backing and binding fabric.
Am I working on my UFO of the month? NO! It's #5 on my UFO list and I don't even have a photo of it to show yet. The only explanation I can offer is that I don't have any workable border fabrics or backing for that quilt yet...need to go shopping tomorrow at the Creative Sisters Full Moon Frenzy
Yesterday I taught a class on making miniature quilts to the Royal City Quilter's Guild. Lots of creative energy was generated and many great projects were started.
It was a fun day spent with many of my most favorite people on the planet!

Friday, January 06, 2012

3 Sisters Grace a.k.a.Orca Bay

I have the centre part of my Orca Bay mystery sewn together. I made half of the number of blocks for each step, and did not sew any string blocks, so my version looks quite a bit different than Bonnie's. Also I didn't use her colour recommendation and went with the 3 Sisters Grace fabric line, which is the name of my quilt - "3 Sisters Grace".
The rows went together amazingly well and sewing the top together was fun using Bonnie's technique of "webbing".
I'm not sure how many border blocks I will need for this size of quilt, but plan to work on those tonight.