Thursday, May 31, 2012

UFO Report

May's UFO is finished!
I am very pleased about this finish for many reasons:
1) I loved working with yellow for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge,
2) I was able to finish a project that used up lots of scraps,
3) The hand quilting with perle cotton was very relaxing and I think I am addicted to it now,
4) I tried something new - binding a very irregular edge. I used a straight grain binding for the straight sides, and a bias binding for the zigzag edges and it turned out okay. 
5) I added a few embellishments - a beehive and a few bees.
Now I can't decide if this is a tablerunner or a wallhanging, and whether or not to sew on a hanging sleeve. 
To see other UFO's that were finished this month, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Antique Quilts

It was Quilt Festival in St. Jacobs last week and there were many wonderful quilting events to attend. I took advantage of this event to get some antique quilts examined by Judy Lyons, certified quilt appraiser.
I am not really into antique quilts and don't know much about them at all. But a good friend from childhood showed me 3 quilts she inherited from her great grandmother and asked if I could "fix" them for her. Because I have been friends with her for 35+ years, I couldn't say "no". In addition, she is currently estranged from her family, and the possibility of nurturing her connection to a great grandmother, who was a quilter, greatly appealed to me. I have never done restoration work, so decided to consult an expert. 
There is very little information known about these quilts, and no labels on them, so Judy did some detective work for me. She was able to connect the quilts as being made from the same quiltmaker (or the same stash/scrap bag) by looking for samples of the same fabrics being used in all the quilts, and there were several examples of that. 
Judy dated the fabrics and guesstimated the date of the quilts' finish by the newest fabrics, which means they were likely finished in the 1960's. 
There are two quilts like that is very worn and used, and one that is in much better condition. They were likely meant for twin beds, but my friend had one brother, and no sisters, so the one quilt (likely meant for a sister) was not used much.

Some of the dresses are worn to shreds, and the embroidery has disintegrated. I am looking forward to the hand embroidery I will do to fix those missing stitches.
And yet some of the blocks are in great condition.  
I haven't ever seen a block quite like this one before...have you? 
I particularly like the petticoat stitches, and flowers, and the accents on the bonnets. 

Here is the Dresden Plate quilt. The purples in it are still so vibrant and pretty. This quilt is large and doesn't fit on my design wall, but you get the idea. I have enjoyed studying the unique combination this quilter used - darker plaid and checked fabrics combined with bright pastels and the solid purple.

Regarding the hand quilting, it is possible that the quilting was done by more than one quilter because the stitches are inconsistent. Or perhaps the quilter was not very experienced with hand quilting (like me!) or had arthritis that would produce a wide range of quilting stitches. 
 A big thank you to Judy Lyons for a fun and informative visit into the world of antique quilts. Now I will start my search for antique fabrics (or repros) to repair these quilts. 
I hope that my efforts to restore these quilts will help my friend to patch up her frayed connection to her family history.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Free Motion Challenge - April and May

I don't know where April went, but I didn't get the FWQ Challenge done last month and had some catching up to do.    
April's tutorial was by Don Linn using a technique I haven't tried before, to make a quilting pattern from tulle.

I don't know if you can see my quilting pattern in this photo. I must admit that I did not enjoy the process of making this tulle pattern. Tulle and I don't get along and I think it's a tactile issue...I just don't like working with it.
I worked hard at following the lines as best as I could, and then branched out and did some fun free motion quilting to fill in the spaces - veins in the leaf shapes, a spiral in the center, some curly vines in the corners...that felt so much better to do free motion quilting versus following a line!
May FMQ challenge included a great tutorial by Leah Day. The videos are packed full of great information and are interesting to listen to, even if much of the info is a refresher course. She has such great energy about her and I enjoyed listening while I practiced with my pencil in my sketchbook, and while I was preparing my fabric and batting to start quilting. I have already done the railroad tracks design on a lap quilt, so this time I wanted to try quilting the "foundational line double stippling".
I tried a bit of quilting with the feed dogs up, and then with the feed dogs down as Leah suggested, and I was definitely happier with them down...much more moveability and freedom of motion. 
In this photo you can see the Janome quilting foot I am using on my Brother sewing machine...I just like it better than the one that came with my machine.

This month I quilted one of my hand painted fabrics (Setacolor paint with salt) that matches the flowers in my garden!
And I LOVED this quilting design! It is not my favorite in terms of how it looks, but it was so fun to quilt!
If you want to see the other months, here they are:

Monday, May 28, 2012

Design Wall Monday #19 - Broken Dishes

I have returned to working on one of my HST projects because I was tired of moving it from place to place in my quilt studio! I posted about these blocks in April when I was trying to figure out a layout - click here to read about it. 
The block design is called "broken dishes", and the idea that came to me when I was sewing the blocks was to sew 4 broken dishes together to look like dinner plates.
Although I liked the look of the plates on pointe,  the ohio star block jumped out at me too much, so I decided to just keep them in a straight setting. I like the secondary pattern when they are joined together, but then it lost the look of plates, so the final decision was straight set, with sashing. 
But what to do about this sashing?  Do you like any of these sashing options? I leaning towards the middle row - cornerstones of scrappy diamonds.
BTW - Bonnie's new quilt uses the same broken dishes block and lots of string piecing and it is gorgeous!
To see more design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mennonite Relief Quilt Auction

Yesterday was the Mennonite Relief Quilt Auction, which I attend every year (to see last year's report, click here). This year I petered out a bit earlier because it was soooo hot in the arena, or maybe because I am getting old?! There were many wonderful quilts for sale and I was sad that I didn't get to see them all, but I just wilted in the hot humid air :(
I did see the log cabin variation quilt sold, for which I donated a block  (see this blog post). My block is half hidden in this photo...on the left column in the middle. This quilt was sold for $650!
I also made a block for the
"Community Garden" quilt.
I don't have a good photo of this quilt, but the first one here shows the bottom right corner where my block is :) 
I can't find a blog post where I wrote about making this block, so maybe I forgot to? 
This is the block that I made for the "Community Garden", for which I drafted the paper piecing pattern, based on a block pattern on Quilter's Cache
My favorite part of the block was the little beaded yoyo's, which I added in the center because there was just too much yellow and open space. 

All of the gorgeous donated blocks were put on pointe, with either a green or a purple fabric on the corners. I thought the yellow piping before the purple border was a great touch. This quilt sold for $600!
Of course, the food is always a highlight for me! I got a big bag few tea balls, and may have also had a piece of strawberry pie.  I discovered a new (to me) treat this year called "Fleisch Piroschki" (pastry meat pockets). I just love trying new things and these were delicious!
The amount raised by the quilt auction was almost $130,000 this year! And one of the things I love about about this quilt auction is that 100% of the money  raised goes directly to world relief efforts. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Last Yellow Day

I have really enjoyed my yellow quilting activities this month inspired by the Rainbow Scrappy Challenge. Every spare stitching moment has been spent on my "Hexagon Honeycomb", which is my UFO for this month, and my current yellow project. 
I just love this yellow photo! I was soaking up the sun in my backyard, sipping a lemonade, and enjoying some relaxing hand stitching. Can't you just feel the warmth of the sun and smell the fresh lemon?!? Lean in a little closer to your computer...can you smell it now?!?
I decided to "big stitch" the hexagons using perle cotton, and I just love the texture it added to this project.  I have only done this once before (click here to see that project) and found it hard on my hands. But I have been admiring the projects of some of my favorite bloggers who have done some big stitching, so I convinced myself to try it again. I liked it much better this time. How do I know that? I was very sad when the stitching was finished! 
Check out these great "big stitch" projects:
Lurline's blog, Julie's blog, Lori's blog, and Jane's blog
And if you want to read a very good big stitch tutorial - click here.
For more yellow inspiration, visit the SoScrappy blog.
Now I am trying to figure out how to bind the pointy edges of my hexagon quilt...any suggestions?!?
Here is a great Canadian band "Great Big Sea" playing one of my favorite songs (and notice all the yellow accents in the video?!?).

"Friends are the sunshine of life."
John Hay

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Baby Quilt

My friend Christine finally had her baby and we are all relieved that he has arrived safe and sound (after quite a challenging delivery). Here is baby Safo! It was love at first sight (only for me, not for him!) and I can't get enough of this amazing little bundle of joy. I finished his baby quilt at the beginning of March (to read about the conception and development of the quilt - click here) and have just been waiting for him to arrive so I could give it to him. Thanks again to my friend Marion who gave me the scraps that inspired this quilt.

Here we are at the baby shower, with Safo's Mom and two older sisters. What a fun shower we had to celebrate his arrival! 
The baby quilt was a big hit with the shower guests, and Safo seems to like it too!
My teenagers are calling me "baby stalker" because I can't wait for the next visit, and keep inviting myself over to snuggle this adorable tiny creature. 
Life seems more manageable after time spent cuddling a baby, don't you agree?!?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Photography Course

I have long admired the photos that Jane posts on her blog Sew Create It, and have always wanted to take a photography course. I love taking pictures and am very rarely seen without a camera in my hand. I have thousands of photos in albums, in boxes, on discs, on USB sticks, and on my computer. But I only have a very cheap point and shoot camera, and have always put off taking a course until I could afford a better camera. 
Well, no more putting things off!
For an early birthday present to myself, I signed up for an online photography course called "Elevate the Ordinary". Me and my old camera are going to do the best we can, and learn some new things!
The class description offers the students the opportunity to see our ordinary lives through a new lens.  It also promises to be "a new way into gratitude and joy". 
Yes please! Now tell me, who could resist signing up for that?!? 

I found this tea last weekend and bought a big bag of it in anticipation of taking this photography course!

So I have been practising...taking photos of unusual things. Have you ever seen "Dead Elephant" beer on draft? It is made in St. Thomas and the story of it's origin can be found here. I love their advertising line: "Life should be celebrated in every way and if possible enjoy it Jumbo sized!

Have you ever had an eye-to-eye conversation with a laying hen? 
This is Ryan's hen, which has recently been renamed "eggless"... for obvious reasons! 

Have you ever seen a black swan? Did you know that they have red eyes and a red beak? I had never seen one before.
Of course most of my photos will continue to be of my quilting related activity!  I have solved the dilemma of how to improve "Hexagon Honeycomb" and am anticipating some wonderful leisurely, hand quilting time stitching hexagons this week.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

UFO Report - Hexagon Honeycomb

This is my Rainbow Scrap Challenge from last year, called "Hexagon Honeycomb". I loved piecing it in June of last year (click here to read about it). The commenters on that post gave me some great ideas for finishing the quilt, and then it sat percolating - a.k.a. hiding in the UFO closet!
May is yellow for the monthly Rainbow Challenge, and I was inspired to finish this scrappy yellow quilt and make it my UFO project for this month.
I pin basted and then machine quilted straight lines in the ditch, and I have to admit that I am just not loving it. It's just too flat and boring. So it's pinned on the design wall and I am again waiting for this quilt to tell me what is next?!?
I also should announce the winners of my two blog draws before I forget again!
Drum roll please...
winner of the Shop Hop giveaway (marking pins, charm pack and tumbler kit) is...lucky commenter #5 which is Mary
winner of the 100 blocks magazine is...lucky commenter #19 which is Swooze!
Thanks for playing along and I'll look for another giveaway when I go to Quilt Festival this week!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Design Wall Monday #18 - Sweet Treats

I have been working on my Dotty Sweet Treats blocks for Judy's quilt along.  Judy's quilt top is finished and you can see it hereI only have 6 blocks finished, but have lots of strips cut out and partial blocks sewn.

It has been fun to figure out which colours to put together in each block. Some of the greens don't seem to play well together, but I like each one of them, so they're all staying in the quilt. I might just have to separate them in the quilt layout a bit more. 
Are you making a Sweet Treats quilt? I am heading over to the Patchwork Times blog to see if anyone else has posted blocks...if you want to come along, click here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another mini twister

I finished another twister in miniature size this week. The mini twisters are made with the Primitive Gatherings ruler (which produces 1" blocks). This one was made from the scraps of a tablerunner I made last year. The smaller the block size is, the more you need a high contrast in the fabrics, and while I love the tablerunner, in miniature it looks a little too "blendy" to me.

This is my 4th twister quilt and here is a photo of the 3 minis on top of the tablerunner. Even though I've made 4 quilts using this technique, I can't wait to make another one! What is it about this method of producing quilt blocks that I enjoy so much? Does anyone have any insight to share with me about that?!? LOL

I also taught a twister class at the local senior's centre and look at the wonderful variations they made!

As much fun as piecing these twister blocks is, the quilting is also fun! I machine quilted this one with tiny little swirls and loved every minute of quilting it. I took a photo with a quarter so you could see the scale of the blocks.

I quilted some tiny swirls in the 1" border which are just so cute!
Have you made a twister quilt yet? Click here for a YouTube video showing how the ruler works. And if you hop over to Connie's blog, she has a great tutorial for another version of the twister that I'd like to try. Actually, it's probably best not to get started with the twister quilts, or you might get addicted like me!  
P.S. - If you haven't yet signed up for the Shop Hop giveaway, click here. If you haven't signed up for the 100 Blocks magazine draw, click here. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Scrappy Rainbow Saturday - Yellow

I finally got my yellow Knot block sewn! I just love digging around in the scrap bag and finding just the right little piece that I need. I love the school bus window, the ladybug, and the Dr. Seuss fish on this block. I had to really stretch the light background fabrics (which were difficult to find in my stash), but I think it turned out okay. be honest, there was one little mishap along the way. But the seam ripper was put into action, the brain was re-engaged, the pieces were rearranged, and eventually the block turned out okay. Some mistakes are easy to fix.
The Knot block pattern is from Quiltmaker's 100 blocks magazine issue #3. 
I skipped the Knot block last month since I just didn't have enough neutral squares to make the contrast work without going into the browns. So far I have sewn 4 Knot blocks for my 2012 rainbow scrap quilt. They are really fun blocks to sew and I have thoroughly enjoyed making each one. I am already wondering what next month's colour might violet? aqua? orange?
I am thinking I might call the quilt "All Tied Up In Knots 2012"!
The weather forecast calls for a perfect day, so I plan to be basting and hand quilting my "Hexagon Honeycomb" from last year's yellow rainbow month, while I soak up a few golden rays of sun! 

And I found the newest 100 Blocks magazine (at my local Chapters). Can't wait to read through it and see what blocks I'd like to sew.  I picked up an extra copy for a blog giveaway, so leave a comment on this post and I'll pick the lucky winner at the same time as I pick the winner of the Shop Hop Treats.
Then hop over to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge yellow postings and check out what other quilters are making with their yellow scraps. Happy Sunny Saturday!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Clover Binding Clips Review

I am finishing up a mini quilt while enjoying some wonderful warm sunny weather.
And I am trying a new product - the Clover Binding Clips. (Click here for a link to a YouTube video describing the clips.)
I always enjoy sewing bindings on quilts, but it is even easier with these new binding clips.
I just love them! They are slightly curved on the red side and hold the binding snuggly in place until you sew it down. No more sticking myself with pins!
Hop over to Jo's Country Junction and check out other new things that bloggers are trying out. I can't wait to try the new recipe I found there for Dandelion Jelly!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May For Me - Sweet Treats and Bingo Update

Janet (the Rogue Quilter) sent me some wonderful dotty fabrics - thanks Janet! 
I have already cut them into strips and started sewing them into my sweet treat quilt along blocks. 
My strips are a bit smaller than Judy's. The pattern calls for 2" strips to make an 8" block, but I am using 1.5" strips so my blocks have an extra round, and finish at 7.5". I just love them but maybe all together they are a little bit too busy looking?!?! This is the stage of quiltmaking where I start to get worried! Maybe my enthusiasm for colour, and my pattern of jumping into a project without a plan is catching up with me and I am just making a big messy eyesore??!! 
The May for Me Bingo game is continuing. I have been selecting beads and buttons to sew on that don't cover the little pictures. Can you see the star on Santa's head, the blue fish, the heart in the school bus window, and the green bead in the toucan's mouth?  Very fun! I am not even close to getting a Bingo, but am enjoying the game. I get to sew on a few more buttons today.