Monday, April 30, 2012

Design Wall Monday - Quilt Square Quilt Along

I finished two more blocks for the Quilt Square Quilt Along this month. 

This was the first one and it was very fun to sew - it's basically just 4 framed 9 patch blocks.

And then I worked on the Anvils, which was 9 anvil blocks having 23 pieces each, for a total of 207 pieces that I cut and sewed for a 12" block. 
Could that be right?!?'s not a typo!
I didn't love the argyle block in the middle on the right looks a bit disorganized, but I was too tired of these blocks to make another one to replace it.
Here are my blocks on my design wall in the order they were made: January, February and March across the top, and the two April blocks on the bottom.
To see more design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times. Last week there were over 100 design wall blog postings!
And stop by Jo's Country Junction to catch the Quilt Square Quilt Along parade!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

HST Collector

I LOVE Half Square Triangle blocks! I know many people refuse to sew them and I can understand that some methods of sewing (and trimming!) the HST's can be very tedious. But since Bonnie Hunter convinced me to try the Easy Angle ruler, I have never looked back. I love this ruler! It makes perfectly sized HST's 99% of the time with no trimming. (If the HST requires trimming, it's because I didn't cut it accurately!)

Here are some of the HST's I sewed this week for my latest Quilt Square Quilt Along block. FUN!

I must confess that I am a bit of a hoarder collector when it comes to HST's. I have bags and bags of these are a few of my prized HST's in all sizes and colours. The potential for each of these bags is intoxicating! I found a lot of good HST design ideas at the Festival of Half Square Triangles. Maybe next year I should have an HST-UFO project each month?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Virtues Quilt

When I saw Jean's blog post about sewing UnRuly letters, I just got a craving to sew some letters. There is something about that process that is more relaxing and creative than other kinds of sewing for me.
But what to sew??? I decided to add to my Virtues quilt and went to the master list of words and guess which word I picked to sew next?!?
After spending almost every non-work moment this past month with my brother, the only word I could sew was "DETERMINATION". The definition of determination is  - "You focus your energy and efforts on a task and stick with it until it is finished. Determination is using your will power to do something when it isn't easy. You are determined to meet your goals even when it is hard and you are being tested." 
My brother's determination to continue to live through pain, has been always been inspiring to say the least.  Here he is on his first outing (outside of hospital or his apartment) in over a month, at his favorite tea shop. The lung drainage tubes are cleverly hidden in the shoulder was an ingenious solution.
Here are the virtues I have sewn so far. I have no colour co-ordination for this project and have just been gathering dotty fabrics that I have found on my travels. To sew all 52 virtues would make a humongous quilt, so I think I will pick my favorites and soon decide how big of a quilt this will be.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

March Quilt Square Quilt Along - cutting

This week I have enjoyed working on another April block for the Quilt Square Quilt Along. The cutting for this anvil block took a surprising chunk of time - that's 207 pieces cut out for a 12" block!!
In the first anvil block I sewed, I couldn't get the background or the brown stripe fabric going in the same direction.

One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes is:  "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."

So I've decided I like it like this!

I am going to try to apply the same strategy to my braces. I got a full set of railroad tracks on my teeth 6 months ago, and it has turned out to be one of the most challenging things I have ever done. I had my braces rewired yesterday and today I can feel my heartbeat in my bottom teeth...oh, how they ache! Well, let's can I change my attitude? I will focus on how much these teeth must be moving for them to hurt the way they are...maybe I will be able to get the braces off earlier with all this pain? I guess that ending this torture earlier might be worth the pain!?! After I brush my teeth (very gently), I am going to sew a few more mini anvil blocks.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Design Wall Monday #15 - Scrappy HST's

I have missed the Monday Design Wall postings since my brother has been sick, and I sure do look forward to getting back to my regular blog postings now that he is feeling a little better. 
This week I have an old project that I am working on.  These blocks were first posted about a year ago - click here to read about it. It is interesting that I sewed the HST's together into these star blocks, which wasn't even a layout I had on my original post!
Now I can't decide what to do next - to sash or not to sash?!?

And what about on pointe?!?

I don't know - what do you think?

I was hoping to be able to link up to the Festival of Half Square Triangles, but I'm not anywhere near finishing this quilt. You should see the great HST projects posted on the Flickr! 
And then when you're done surfing on that site, hop over to Patchwork Times to see more quilt design walls! But before you go, tell me what to do with my HST layout dilemma!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Send out your ray of sunshine!

I finished my pillowcase for  ConKerr Cancer. Heidi and Bobbi are encouraging the FNSI participants to contribute to this worthy cause. To encourage us to make a pillowcase, they enticed us with the chance to win some great prizes.
The pattern on the website is quick and easy, and mine turned out well enough I think. A big thank you to my friend Gail for donating this fabric!
I added some orange rickrack to perk up my pillowcase a bit, and was much happier with the finished product. 
Here is Lil Annie inspecting my work. It passed her inspection and will be on the way to Wisconsin in tomorrow's mail!
                            Here is some inspiration to do the next right thing, whether it be to sew a pillowcase to donate to a good cause, or to "send out your ray of sunshine"! The video quality isn't great, but the music and message is!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

BINGO card

My BINGO card is bound and ready to go!
B - tambourine, sheep, Jack-o-lantern, elephant, music notes
I - penguin, cat, fish, monkey, Sunbonnet Sue
N - beehive, zebra, FREE, Santa, strawberry
G - Grinch, alligator, teapot, frog, bus
O - flower, fairy, teddy bear, toucan, hot air balloon

Let the games begin! Hop over to Marcia's blog, Tonya's blog, Snoodle's blog, or Sharon's blog to see the other Bingo cards ready to play. Already there are more than 80 players linked up... it's not too late to whip up your own card and play along!

Oh yah... and please don't notice that when I sewed the binding on, I stitched right through to the front of the quilt! So, I will put some buttons over those stitches and no one will ever know!

FNSI Report

Last night was Friday Night Sew-In.
Hope you had the opportunity to do some sewing.
I enjoyed FNSI again with my sister Jayne and my friend Barb.

We had a fun evening at my place and after some visiting, a little lot of eating of junk food, and altogether too much drinking, we did eventually get down to the business of sewing! 

Quilters should not be allowed to run their machines unless they are sober, eh Jayne??

Lesson learned!!

Not a lot was accomplished by some of us, other than de-stressing and enjoying the company of friends, but that is just as important as the relaxation from sewing.
Oh yah...we did accomplish one very important goal - to finish up some of the leftover Easter chocolate! DONE!
And I did get one more block done for the March Quilt Square quilt along. (To see my other blocks - click here.) I am hoping to finish the anvil block before the end of the month.
I would also like to finish off my pillowcase for the FNSI collection, organized by Heidi and Bobbi for ConKerr Cancer.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April UFO Update

Well, April is more than half over and I haven't made a single post about my April UFO! I am fairly sure that I will be able to finish it on time, because I really like this quilt and I have been working on it, just haven't blogged about it yet. This quilt was the Layer Cake Quilt Along from last year (free instructions are still posted).
I love pin basting a quilt! I know a lot of people who dislike that part of the process, but I enjoy using my Kwik Klip tool. And this is a time for me and the quilt top  to enjoy some quality time  together. I ask the quilt "how would you like to be quilted?" and "what colour of thread would you like?" We have a great conversation (which I would deny if I was ever asked about it by a psychiatrist!) and we make the final decisions for the machine quilting. 
This quilt has chosen it's thread colours, and has decided on squiggly line (that's the technical term!) quilting, making each block a little different to keep it interesting for me, and a double squiggly line in the sashing and borders. FUN!
And speaking of fun, are you signed up for FNSI? It's tomorrow night and I've planned a special party with my FNSI friends!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good to be home!

Thank you to all my blog readers who have left lovely comments on my blogpost last week and emailed me to send healing thoughts and good wishes for my brother.  He has finally been discharged from the hospital and is continuing his recovery at home. This photo shows the "cutting of the hospital bracelet" ceremony! What a relief! They sent him home with three chest drain tubes still in (which freaks me out) but he is so relieved to be in his own bed and not eating hospital food, that I am sure his recovery will go much faster now.
I have been visiting the Bluewater Quilters Guild, which I will write more about when I get some photos to post. I am thankful to my sisters (one who came from Michigan and one who took a day off work) and to my daughter, who all took turns staying with my brother so that I could go to Owen Sound to do my trunk show and teach a class. It was a wonderful break for me. Now I am home, and catching up on my life. These are the bills that awaited my return...aren't the colours of the Canada Post stamps so nice?? (OK...obviously I need to play with some colourful fabric if I am admiring the colours of the stamps on my bills!!).
And I am baking muffins to use up the old bananas (and to relax). It sure feels good to get back to my life and get organized again. BTW I almost missed the registration date deadline for my own guild's quilt show! I look forward to doing some quilting on my April UFO.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Guild Challenge - Post #3: Mini Quilt

The second challenge quilt I made was for the mini category. In this category each quilt has to measure less than 36" around the perimeter, which means less than 9" per side. 
I decided to use my favorite "Itty Bitty Primitive Pinwheel"  ruler again. I LOVE this tool and it is such a fun project to sew, I just couldn't resist making another one. I made my first twister in a tablerunner size (click here to see it) and it was so fun I decided to try it in mini size last October (click here to see it). I think I am addicted to these things! Funny that it hasn't occurred to me to make a large/bed size quilt though, eh?

Here is the start of my quilt with one of my favorite Kaffe Fassett paperweight fabrics for the border. It's bizarre that I feel so sad when I run out of one of my favorite fabrics :) LOL!

And here is my finished "Spring Pinwheels" quilt. I just did "stitch in the ditch" quilting because the piece is so small and has a lot of bulk from the seams. It measures 6.5" square and has 124 pieces. I was wishing I had put some yellow fabric in, and decided to sew a tiny golden bead in the center of each pinwheel. It's amazing how much more I liked it after adding the beads :) 

I can't wait to see all the challenge quilts hanging at the quilt show on May 4th and 5th. It is always amazing to see the creativity of quilters who make completely different quilts starting from the same inspiration of 2 fat quarters of fabric.These are the two challenge fabrics...can you see them in the finished quilt?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Guild Challenge - Post #2: Finishing the Dresden Plate

In yesterday's post I wrote about the beginning of a challenge wallhanging (click here if you missed reading that). Once I had the Dresden Plate attached to the quilt, I decided that I didn't want to applique the outside edges of the plate to the background fabric, as is traditionally done. I really liked the points having a more 3D look, so I decided to tack down each point with a bead instead. I love that feature of the quilt!
That is when the title of the quilt came to me ... "Joy Spring". That is what quilting is to me, and I felt so much joy working with these fabrics and trying a new technique.
I then decided that the background quilting needed to be a free motion design to reflect energy and joy flowing out of the plate/fabrics. I was nervous about overquilting the background since I hadn't done much quilting on the dresden plate, and I wanted the wallhanging to lie flat. But after the quilt was done, I thought I probably could have made the quilting design on a smaller scale and I would have liked it more. I very, very rarely remove quilting stitches... once it's done, it is done, and when I know I tried my best, I move on, no matter what the outcome! 
Here is a close up of the center of the dresden plate, and there is a little crystal heart right in the center. I added a few purple sequins and some black twisted bugle beads (they cover up where the seams don't meet up properly, but don't tell anyone!).
I finished up the wallhanging with a bright scrappy binding using leftover strips.
In the end I didn't love it, but it was fun to sew. I have an idea for beading the background area but ran out of time before the challenge submission date. I wonder if doing that beading might help me to like the quilt more?
Tomorrow I will post the mini quilt I made for the same challenge.
If you like Dresden Plate quilts and want to see more, hop over to the Quilting Gallery and vote on your favorite. Also, to read an interesting history lesson about the Dresden Plate pattern, click here.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Guild Challenge - Post #1: Making a Dresden Plate

The first quilt I ever owned was given to me by my mother-in-law and is a dresden plate - you can see it on this blog post. I love that quilt and have used it for almost 28 years now! I have always thought about making one, and when Anne from Bunny Hill posted about a Scrappy Plate Club, I was really tempted to join in. But I just could not allow myself start another quilt project (demonstrating amazing self restraint for a quilting addict)!
Then I found Lurline's tutorial for a scrappy dresden block and decided that I was going to try "just one" block for my guild's quilt show challenge. 
Here are the two challenge fabrics that were to be included in each quilt. I decided it would be fun to challenge myself to try to make these challenge fabrics play nicely with my bright Kaffe Fassett scraps.
I had a great time cutting out scrap squares and laying them out from dark to light in groups of 4 to sew into blades like Lurline did. 

I didn't have the ruler that Lurline recommended, but I had one that looked similar so I tried it. It didn't work out as well!  On Lurline's block she had 20 blades, and on mine I needed 36 blades to complete the circle...whoopsy, a slight math miscalculation! So I made 16 more blades and sewed them together in pairs to see if that would make a complete circle, which it did. But then there was a very large hole in the center of the plate. So I sewed an extra black piece on the bottom of every blade pair and that worked. 
What to do next?!? I picked a background fabric, pin basted the plate to it, sandwiched that to the batting and backing,  and then quilted on the straight line seams to fasten the plate to the three layers.

Then I appliqued a circle (which ended up to not be very round?!?) on top of the hole in the center, and added some beading to sparkle it up a bit.
What did I do next?!?
This post is getting long so I'll write about how I finished the quilt in tomorrow's post.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hamilton Quilters Guild

Last night I was the speaker at the Hamilton Quilters Guild meeting. Here is the group of ladies waiting to see my quilts.  It was a wonderful evening that followed an absolutely exhausting week. I was so tired driving there and so energized coming home. I don't think I have ever had such an attentive and appreciative audience as this group of ladies. Their feedback and comments were so touching and supportive that they almost made me cry!
Here are some of the quilters looking at my quilts after the trunk show.
A big thank you to Sue for inviting me and being so warm and friendly. She even gave me a fun is that?!?
I got a recipe book that I can't wait to try out, some thread and some fabric...
now that's a perfect evening for a quilter!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bonnie's on my bed!

I missed out on my weekly design wall Monday posting yesterday, because nothing is on my design wall.  I've been at the hospital almost every day for a week and a half. The good news is that my brother is temporarily out of ICU but may need more surgery, so we are just waiting to hear about that. The infection is slowly clearly and he is breathing better now. The only non-hospital thing I did on the weekend was some laundry, grocery shopping, cooked an Easter dinner for my family, did a quick easter egg hunt for the kids, and then back to the hospital. Which means no time for quilting :(
Last night I did some late night blog hopping (who needs sleep!??!) and found that Bonnie Hunter is hosting a linky party on her Quiltville blog to show "what's on your bed". 
Interestingly, many of the blog posts show that a Bonnie Hunter quilt is on their bed, and I am no exception...I have "Double Delight" on my bed today! 
My photo shows me that I need to make more exciting pillowcases to match this quilt! 
The free pattern for Double Delight is still posted on Bonnie's website - click here to get it. Bonnie freely gives the world so many wonderful quilt patterns, we all need to go buy one of her books to support her creative endeavors. Her books are amazing, great directions, lots of fun projects, tips, and eye candy for quilters. Go check out what other bloggers have posted - click here.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Challenging Journey

I cannot even believe that it is Easter weekend! The past week has passed in a complete blur. My brother has been very sick and in ICU for a week now. That means a family member needs to be with him as much as possible, so I have been to the hospital (3 hours of driving there and back) for some part of each day this week.  I wrote a blog post about my inspiring brother about 5 years ago - click here to read it.  It is so hard to watch someone that you love while they struggle to breathe. A simple automatic reflex for most people is excruciating for him right now. He has a lung infection which has resulted in what they call "a white out" which means his left lung is not functioning at all and appears on the Xray as a blob of infection. He had to be on a respirator to be able to do the CAT scan, and at last count he has 13 tubes coming out of him. At the end of the week he was also diagnosed with a blood infection.
The only good thing about hospitals (besides the hope for healing), and about ICU in particular, is that you spend a lot of time waiting... which can be put to good use as stitching time! I have been working for the last 5 years on the "Journey of a Quilter" pattern (by Leanne Beasley). It seems that I only work on it when on vacation and am away from my sewing machine, so it has stretched into a very long term project.

I am working on the 9th (and final) block and made lots of progress on it this week. The french knots in these flower centers were very relaxing to stitch.
If my brother's recovery continues to be so problematic, I will soon have this whole block finished. 
I am hoping that Easter thoughts of rebirth and the promise of new life will encourage my brother (and all of us) to not give up on the journey toward healing and renewal. The love of family and friends (and the meditative process of hand stitching) sure do help to keep us on the right path!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Quilt Square Quilt Along

I have completed my third block for Jo's Quilt Square Quilt Along. I think it turned out okay and it was really fun to sew. 
I have wondered about changing the outside border to a darker fabric, but am not sure about that. What do you think...would a darker brown or blue be better?

Here are my first three blocks together. For April we have a choice of the other three blocks from pattern set #1. I am 99% certain that I won't be doing the applique block, because I LOVE the other two pieced blocks and intend to sew both of them.
To see the other Quilt Square Quilt Along blocks from this month, visit Jo's Country Junction.