Tuesday, July 31, 2012

FMQ Challenge for July

July's Free Motion Quilting lesson was by Angela Walters and it was really a challenge for me this month!  There is great information on SewCalGal's blog... if you are at all interested in machine quilting, you need to go and read these great (and free!) lessons. It was interesting to me that Angela learned to quilt from her husband's grandfather!
First I painted a piece of fabric using Setacolor paints, and decided to make this month's design in the larger 8" x 16" size for my sampler. And then I found some Isacord thread that Leah Day recommended in her April lesson and was excited to try it out. I thought the colour contrasted well with my fabric, and hoped that would make it easier to stitch this design. I put my standard Aurifil in the bobbin, and this combination was perfect in my machine.
Next came lots of practice in the sketchbook, and a little bit of swearing!The design Angela taught is called "Tiles", and for me it was a tough lesson in learning how to plan your path in advance. I prefer to wonder around in a more intuitive way when I quilt rather than having a structured plan, so it was a challenge to make a plan and come out on the right side of each tile in order to start the next one...it's harder than it looks! 

Then I started on the quilt sandwich and it was still harder than it looks, but I was very happy that I didn't have any thread shredding, or snapping, and no thread tension issues at all. I had put some sparkly (opaque shimmer) paint on this piece of fabric, which you can't really see in the photo, but it made the fabric thick in some places, so I was a little nervous... but no needle fractures either!
It turned out okay. I wish my lines were straighter (again, it's harder than it looks to quilt a straight line with a free motion foot) and I wish I would have made my lines closer together. But it's done and I am pleased with meeting my goal for another month.
If you want to see how other quilters made this design, hop over to Sew Cal Gal's blog and scroll down to see the links for over 130 quilters!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Design Wall Monday #28 - Raw Edge Applique

Almost a year ago I wrote about the raw edge applique idea I had for using up the scraps from my IOP (Indian Orange Peel) quilt - you can read about post here. On my design wall today is the first 6 blocks. 
This is not the first time that the original quilt turns into a UFO, while I became fascinated with making the scraps into a finished project first!  
I am having great fun playing in the scrap bin and think there might be enough bits left to make 6 more blocks.
This quilt has decided to call itself "Shattered". 
To see more design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Oh yah, I almost forgot to mention that the winner of my 1,000th blogpost draw is commenter #44 (as picked by my daughter) which is another quilting blogger named Cathy
You still have time to get in on the handwork draw....just post a link to your hand stitching blogpost before tomorrow!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Slow Sunday Stitching - Last July Linky

Can you believe that I have been hand stitching three different quilt bindings this week?!?
Somehow I ended up stitching down two of my sister's bindings recently. 
Hand binding is the perfect project for road trips, and this is one of her quilts I finished while she drove me around on the Yours to Discover shop hop. I guess it's a good trade off... she drives, and I navigate, while I stitching the binding on her quilts (as long as the air conditioning is on full blast!)
As soon as I finished that quilt, she quickly produced another quilt for me to bind...I think I have started a bad pattern here! 
Can you see the lovely thumb nail art that one of the ER night shift nurses painted for me?!?  She used a "Nail Art Pen" and I have been admiring her design every time I did some hand stitching this week. But it wore off too quickly (too much time spent washing dishes!) and I need to work another night shift to get a re-do (or learn to do it myself)!
And the third quilt is my July UFO quilt that I have started binding in hopes of finishing it by July 31st. 
Do you stitch your binding in the same direction as I do? 
I stitch from right to left, but have noticed that many people prefer to stitch from left to right.
This is the last week to enter the slow stitching draw - just link up your hand stitching blogpost below before July 31st, and your name will go in the drawThe draw winner will be announced next Sunday, and there will be a new gift draw starting in August.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Scrappy Saturday - End of the Blues!

I cannot believe that July has gone by so fast!
This is the last week for blue scraps with the Rainbow Challenge, and I have finished my blue scrappy paper pieced leaf block. The pattern is called "Red Herring", but it looks like a palm leaf to me (I've never seen a real palm tree, so I'm guessing!).
***Hey...go look at Deb's blogpost today with a photo of her real palm tree! Don't you think it looks exactly like my block!??!
Each block takes 14 coloured strips and I am happy with how they are turning out.

Here are my purple and blue blocks together.  I think I will sew a border around each block using the light background fabric. I am already getting ideas for how to quilt this project, and I've only sewn 2 blocks so far!!
Hop over to SoScrappy and see what other blue blocks and quilts are being built!

Friday, July 27, 2012

July UFO Update and a new project!

Here I am...quilting away on the border of this UFO.  Can you see these old gardening gloves? Why is it that my fancy Machingers are usually the gloves I can't find, but these old, thread-covered cheapos from the dollar store are always just hanging around waiting for me?!?!
And it's too hot for quilting gloves anyway! But I am a sucker for a goal deadline, so I kept at it.
Here is a photo of the border quilting. I used a beige thread on a dull fabric, so you probably can't see the quilting, but it's a kind of swirly feather design with a wavy spine.
Now I am ready to get this binding stitched down, and am very happy to be so close to a finish.
And I must confess (is this the quilt confessional?!?) that I started a new project! I couldn't resist... I know, I know, I have no will power, I am powerless against the forces of startitis 
I love Tetris and saw that Melissa is hosting a Tetris quiltalong. I thought it would be a great way to use up some old bright fabrics in my stash and might become an interesting donation quilt. I am using 3" squares, and am not sure how many Tetris blocks I will end up making.

Here is week #1 block.
I am using black for the empty squares, and having lots of fun playing with various layouts of the pieces that Melissa posted.
Some of my Tetris pieces will be continued in the block that will be above this one.

Here's my block for week #2. 
I have no idea how this thing will turn out, but it's been a great stress reliever this week to focus on arranging these squares.
To visit the Week #2 linky party, click here, and then tell me if you're tempted to start cutting squares and playing some quilty Tetris?!?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Yours to Discover" Shop Hop

I am totally blaming my sister for this one! I was prepared to "pass" on a big, 10 store, month long shop hop since July is such a busy month, and it involves a lot of driving. But my sister convinced me that it would be a fun challenge to see if we could visit all 10 quilt stores this month.
So we started off on the "Yours to Discover Shop Hop". I have been quilting for more than 20 years, so it was a surprise to find out that half of the stores were new to me!
We discovered some great quilt stores and I will mention my two new faves from this shop hop:
1) Quilt Junction in Waterford 
Their website does not in any way reflect this store...it is an amazing store in a renovated train station! It's a bit of a drive from anywhere, but it's a "destination location". They have adorable displays of the various fabric lines they carry and tons of finished quilts to enjoy.
You need to plan for a lot of time to have coffee/tea on the deck by the river, while you enjoy the scenery, visit with other quilters, and do some relaxing hand work. My sister took this photo of me stitching down some binding while enjoying the deck.

2) The Marsh Store in Ilderton
We really loved the Marsh Store, which is a renovated general store built in 1869. There are many rooms in this building which contain a huge variety of fabrics, and many products I haven't seen before. They also have a good supply of fabric paints, and specialty threads.

It was delightful to be greeted by their very friendly store manager Nellie (curled up in front of the door). Next time I visit, I will take treats for Nellie!

Just when you think it can't get any better, we found out there was a 30% sale this week... woohoo! This blue sale bucket had half meter cuts for $2, or 6 for $10! 
Some people got carried away and dug right to the bottom to see every single piece of fabric! 
Even though it was a lot of driving, we thoroughly enjoyed the Yours to Discover Shop Hop and are completely inspired to get in our sewing rooms and SEW!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July UFO Update

Thanks for all the great ideas for my Civil War Quilt. It is still on the design wall and I am pondering all the suggestions while I machine quilt my July UFO (pinch hitter) in spite of the hot summer weather here. Just imagine that it's 40 degrees Celsius (104 F) and this quilt is on your lap while you try to shove it through your sewing machine! I do have a very old window air conditioner that I run only when I am quilting, and I have a fan blowing on me, but I have only been able to quilt in short (sweaty) spurts.
In the comments on this postAngela and Mary suggested curvy/wavy quilting designs, and Bea suggested a line to line diagonal. I thought these were great ideas for this quilt. Because I am kinda bored with straight lines (and the walking foot) I tried some wavy diagonal lines with the free motion foot.
It was a quick, and fairly effortless, design. I liked the wavy quilting motion ... kinda like floating on an air mattress on the lake!
I "waved" all the seam lines between the blocks, then down the centers of the blocks, and finally on the block diagonals. 

Isn't this cool how the quilting lines intersect at the block corners?!?
I have been using a Bobbin Washer  and my beloved Aurifil thread, and have not had a single issue with thread breakage or tension...love that!
So far so good. 
Now what for the borders?
I'm guessing more waviness of some sort!!? One more week to finish the quilting and binding before the end of the month.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Design Wall Monday #27 - Civil War Quilt

Today is the big reveal of my Civil War quilt blocks! Ta da! Over a year's worth of block piecing and learning about the US Civil War. 
Thank you again to Barbara Brackman (pattern writer and blogger) for the wonderful quilty fun I have had in reading her weekly blogposts and in sewing these quilt blocks.
I have sewn 42 blocks for a layout of 6 across and 7 down. 
These are four extra blocks that I don't like, and that will be pieced into the backing. The ones on the left are "too blue", and the ones on the right are "too big". The 42 blocks above are "just right"!
So...now the layout decision. It was my goal to have these sewn into a quilt top by the end of July, and quilt it by the end of August so I can start the new block of the week (guilt free!) in September. I thought I was just going to sew them together randomly, but now that I see the photo on the computer, I am getting other ideas. Do you have any thoughts on this layout?!?
Would you care to make a wager as to whether or not I will meet my goal?!?!  Say a FQ or two!?!? LOL
Hop over to Patchwork Times and see what other quilters are working on today.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Slow Sunday Stitching #5

This is week #5 of my hand work link ups and I am having so much fun with it. I have found some new blogs to visit, with new inspirations and project ideas. It's also a way to help stay on task with handwork and keep track of progress (or lack thereof!)
This week I did some work on my Aunt Philly's Toothbrush scrap rug. I borrowed the tool and pattern from my friend Louise to give it a try, and she helped me get the rug started in June. Here is the photo that Louise took of me fighting with starting the center strip for the rug. We worked on building the rug, had a few rhubarb slushies, but mostly enjoyed a visit in the sunshine at her country paradise. Isn't this a great photo of the view at Louise's home?!? 
Starting the rug was the hardest part so far, and the directions might as well have been printed in Chinese for all that I understood! But Louise said it was a lot like crochet, so she easily figured it out.
I am making the rug from old fabric scraps to try out the technique, and if I like it and it turns out okay, I want to make a nice blue and yellow rug for my bedroom.
This is the tool/needle that is used for making the rug.
This is as far as I have gotten and I really like it so far. It is starting to be a little ruffly on the edges and I'm not sure what that means? Any rug makers reading this can feel free to give me advice! 
Looking forward to seeing what your hands are stitching today...post a link to your blog posting and you will be entered in the July Hand Stitching draw.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thread Organization

I just had to write my third blog post of the day!  I am house bound today since my puppy had surgery this week for an eye tumour, and I am chief canine nurse (don't all mothers end up being 100% responsible for the care of the dog that the children beg to get and promise to take care of!?!) In between dog duties, I am surfing quilt blogs, and doing some hand work (for tomorrow's Slow Stitching blogpost).
When visiting Connie's blog today, I saw the photos of her thread organization - click here to see her thread, and enjoy the eye candy on her quilty post. I discovered that there is a linky party at Sew Many Ways showing many wonderful ideas for thread storage. 
I am slightly very embarrassed to show you my "thread storage system"...
here it is!
I think I have a problem! I try to limit myself to buying no more thread than can fit in this bin. But I'd be a lot happier with any of the set ups I've seen on this linky party than this mess!
Here is where I store my thread snips - you don't throw yours away, do you?!?!
 And here is my sophisticated method of storing my empty spools of thread!
Now you should go and see how quilters properly store their thread - linky party is here.

Scrappy Saturday

I finished sewing my 3 blue Knot blocks this week for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and can I tell you how much I love them?!?! These blocks cleared out a lot of little scraps and it was great fun arranging all the blue bits into 3 piles, and then working on the colour gradations. Once I sew next month's Knot block, I will have completed 9 Knots (you can see the first 4 Knots here) and I will show them all together on the design wall!
There is only one more blue Saturday Scrap posting (say what? we are almost done with blue?!?!) and I hope to finish a scrappy blue version of the "Red Herring" block.
Hop over to SoScrappy and see the other blue projects being made this week. 

Crafter's Campfire - Beach Bean Dip

Happy Saturday! 
If you have some relaxation time today (in between enjoying some stitching and the great weather) get your laptop, go sit outside on your lawn chair, and enjoy the Crafter's Campfire
My family loves camping, and every year my extended family camps together for 5 days. One of our traditions is that I make bean dip for the gang to snack on at the beach. 
This is bean dip prep 2010 with my niece Ellen chopping cilantro. Ellen is such a great little worker, and loves to help me prepare all the ingredients (while the other children watch and complain about how long it is taking to make!). 

Here is Ellen in 2011 mincing the jalapeno peppers, under the close supervision of my Dad, making sure she is using the knife safely!  (Notice that he is not actually helping, just telling us what to do!!! LOL) She is using gloves to ensure that the hot peppers don't burn her skin... these jalapenos are hot!
And here is the 2012 photo...notice all the help we are not getting from any other campers!?!  Good help is hard to find! But there is Ellen...working away, chopping, squeezing limes, mixing ingredients, and always smiling bless her heart!

And here are many hands digging in to eat "Beach Bean Dip". The kids use Scoops to eat it, but some of the adults seem to prefer wraps and eat it like a tortilla.
If you want to make it for your hungry family, click here for the recipe. I don't put in pimentos which the kids don't like, and generally I use more lime juice (5 limes) and 1/2 cup of olive oil instead of the italian dressing. YUM! 
Now I'm going to get a snack, sit outside and check out the other postings at the Crafter's Campfire. Thanks to Sharon for hosting the midsummer blog link up.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Summer Star Sew Along

Thanks to Susan, I discovered a summer sew along to get involved in. It's just a quick little project... every Friday in the summer, Temecula Quilt Co will post a new 4" star block to sew...easy peasy and cute as a button! 
I am using up the scraps from this UFO, which was a Block of the Month from Reichards. I just love when a BOM kit has enough fabric in it to make the project, make a mistake or two, and not have to worry about having enough fabric. This BOM was very generous, and I will have enough scraps to make this entire project (with a light background FQ added in).
These are my first two blocks, and a new one will be posted today, so I'm off to sew. You should join in...it hardly "counts" as a new project when the blocks are so small, and you are using up scraps!! Right?!?!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July UFO Update - Pinch Hitter

Judy picked UFO #3 for UFO challenge participants to finish in July.  "Roll, Roll, Cotton Bowl" was quilt #3 on my list which was the mystery that Bonnie Hunter hosted in the fall of 2010. There was just too much work to finish that project in this month. I was complaining at FNSI about that, when my friend Barb (yes, I'm blaming crediting her!) suggested switching out an easier project for a possible mid summer finish. Great idea!
So, I am substituting a "pinch hitter" - my disappearing 4 patch has been chosen to be the (possibly finished) UFO of the month.  Once I made the substitution in my mind, it all came together, and I finished the pin basting this week.
I pieced a backing (the floral on the bottom left corner of the photo) from yardage I bought on the sale table at Country Concessions during the Spring Shop Hop.  I also have the binding all ready to put on, and the thread picked out, so this UFO is ready to machine quilt...hopefully a design idea will come to me soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Counting my Blessings!

This is a gratitude post! Thank you for all the wonderful messages left on my 1,000th blog posting!
You are all wonderful scraps in my life quilt :)
I have a few big "shout outs" to share today...
*I received this package of fabric from Ye Olde Fabric Shoppe in Stratford, for participating in the May Shop Hop.
This is the store where the fabrics were purchased for the baby quilt that I just finished. I finally got back to the store recently to pick up my winnings...thanks Cheryl!
*I was the lucky winner of Valerie's 300th blogpost celebration draw! She emailed me a really cool pattern...check it out on her blog - Pumpkin Patch Quilter. It is a complex paper piecing pattern so that's another new project in the queue! Thanks Valerie!

*Look what I received from Jo's Country Junction! I won this layer cake for participating in the Quilt Square Quilt Along on Jo's blog. Thanks Jo!
Can't wait to find a project to make...do you have any recommendations for a layer cake project?!? 

*I received this pattern from Janelle at Country Matters, as part of her celebrations for having a block in the May release of the 100 blocks magazine. This pattern has two things I love to sew, flying geese and pinwheels, so I am looking forward to sewing a scrappy version of this project at my winter quilt retreat. Thanks Janelle!

*And...as if all of the above was not enough treats for a quilter to receive, I found this amazing quilt in my mailbox recently! It is a gorgeous, hand quilted treasure made by the generous and talented Miss Julie!
I have to tell you that I bawled my eyes out (the ugly cry!) when I opened this package. The reason for the tears was... long story coming... I was camping with my extended family, when the back anchor on my braces snapped off (at bedtime brushing). The wire was sticking into my face (I piled on the wax to prevent a cheek puncture) and I had to wait until the next day to drive the 2.5 hours home to the orthodontist. 

"This is your torture tray for today... 
the doctor will be with you in a moment...
brace yourself!"

I was able to get in immediately (the tears ensured that!), get my top braces partially fixed, and get spacers jammed up (I mean carefully placed) in front of, and behind, my porcelain crown. The glue was apparently not sticking to my old lady crown, so we had to go "old school" and they made the required preparations to anchor the top braces to a crown band.
If you speak "braces", you understand... that means pain!!
After the appointment,  I went home for a quick nap before the long drive back to camping. I knew I had to get back quickly because I was cooking and washing dishes almost single handedly (and missing my brother, who was too sick to camp with us for the first time in 15 years,  more than words can say) for these 9 crazy and always hungry teenagers (plus one more that wasn't in this photo). 
I was mentally and physically exhausted.
But when I arrived home for my nap, there was a gift in the mailbox...a sweet serendipity that I was not expecting. The kindness and generosity of my quilt blogging friend Julie (and the timing of the gift) was overwhelming!
My newest quilt treasure is now proudly hanging on my quilt studio wall, to inspire me and remind me of all the blessings I have received to help me through the tough (orthodontist and otherwise) difficult days.
Thank you Julie!