Sunday, September 30, 2012

Free Motion Quilting Challenge

I almost forgot to post my September block for the Free Motion Quilting Challenge. This was the hardest design for me so far. I know it shouldn't be, but I find it so difficult to quilt on a line... not at all "free" motion. It's feels much easier for me to make up a design as I go, instead of trying to quilt on a line.
I tried out the Golden Threads Quilting Paper to make the pattern this month. It is just like tissue paper and easy to trace your pattern through. Then I just pinned the traced pattern to the block and quilted on the lines.
The challenging part of using this product was removing it. It wasn't a terrible task, but did leave lots of tiny bits of paper in the quilting crevices that I tried to remove with tweezers.
So here's the finished block.
Not bad if you stand 10 or 12 feet away without your glasses on. 
Up's dismal!
Oh well. One of the benefits of this challenge is learning what you like to quilt and want to do more of, and discovering what you'll likely never do again!

Slow Sunday Stitching

In visiting blogs this week, I found this quote from Nicole:
"Life's too short to not have your heart sing when you sew". Well, actually it was Nicole's very wise quilt that I am quoting, and not really her (your quilts speak to you too, don't they?!?) 
I experienced that same realization with my hand quilting project this week. I finally decided to switch projects and wrote about it on Thursday's post.
I have been amazed at the difference in the energy I feel working on this quilt as compared to the last one. I hope I remember this lesson when I need's amazing how we "know" something and then forget it!!
Now I can hardly wait for time to work on be with this quilt. I treated myself to a roadtrip on my one day off this week, and went to Quilter's Junction. I met two regular blog readers (hi guys!) and had fun chatting with them while I shopped a little. I got some new quilting needles and I LOVE them! They are size 10 and are very tiny, but with a big eye that I can actually thread without the threader!
I enjoyed some wonderful relaxation while quilting on their riverside deck, soaking up the perfect autumn weather, and filling up my "almost empty" well. I always talk about "filling your well" when I do trunk shows, and  this weekend I really had to "walk the talk". (For more reading about filling your well, hop over to Womenfolk and then check out interesting posts here and here).
What are your hands sewing this week to help fill up your well? Link up your handwork blog post and you will be entered in the draw for a Vintage Modern Charm Pack (stop by tomorrow's Design Wall Monday post to see what I'm making with mine!)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Orange is over!

This is the last Saturday of did that happen?!?
It's been one heck of a month, topped off with a week where both kids were sick, and my son missed the whole week of school. Even the dog was sick and up 5 times during the night to go outside (if you get my drift!) I'm sure hoping for a good night's sleep sometime soon!
I was able to do a bit of sewing and met my monthly Rainbow Challenge goals. (I don't plan to mention that I didn't do a single thing on my UFO project this month or last month...*sigh*)
I sewed up some orange crumb blocks at the beginning of the month, and finished my orange Knot block last week. I posted the first 9 Knots blocks on my Design Wall Monday post if you missed seeing them. 
And this week, I finally finished up my orange paper pieced palm branch block (pattern is here). It was great to clear out so many scraps and play with the colour orange this month, while watching the leaves slowly turn orange at the beginning of my favorite season.
Check out the other projects being made with scraps over at SoScrappy.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Changing it up!

Sometimes you just get stuck in a rut and forget that you can change things to improve your life and/or quilting. I have been reflecting on that theme since the suggestions offered on my sad hand quilting project reminded me of the transforming power of choices. You don't have to keep doing the "same old, same old" if it's not what you need, or what makes you happy. So I decided to put that sad quilt right back in the closet...and immediately felt better!
But I needed a hand quilting project to work on and decided to consciously chose the quilt top from the UFO closet that had the most positive energy emanating from it....because if we're going to spend many hours together, it needs to be cheering me up, not dragging me down!

This is the one... my 36 patch quilt from the Crazy Mom Quilts' 36 patch quiltalong. You can read more about that quilt here, and see a truer photo of the colours.  
I am really enjoying seeing this quilt again! I can't remember if I posted a photo of it since I added the scrappy border, but I just love it!  I knew immediately how this quilt wanted to be quilted, and started quilting straight white lines on the marking, just eyeballing it from corner to corner. It's wobbly in places and I'm going to call that "charming"!  I am quilting three needles at a time across the hoop and then moving the hoop. I  foresee many happy hours of hand quilting ahead! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Votes For Women

Block #4 that was issued this week for the Grandmother's Choice: Votes For Women sampler is sure a challenge. It's a beautiful block, but I didn't even get to the sewing part of the challenge. My printer refused to co-operate to print out the templates. So I guess I'll skip this one.

This is block #3 which is called "Union Square". 
I enjoyed sewing the block and reading about the Garrett sisters.
How are you doing with the sampler blocks? I've done 3 out of the first 4 - so far so good!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Little Finish

My Summer Stars Quilt Along is finished and hanging on the wall. I quilted with the walking foot in the seam lines, and made chevrons on the setting triangles.
Simple and done!
It is just the cutest little thing! 
A big thanks to the creators of this pattern over at the Temecula Quilt Co. I'm linking up to Connie's Tuesday linky party so hop over and see the other projects creative people are making this week. down to business with the UFO for this month...only one week left in the month?  How did that happen?!?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Design Wall Monday #36

First I just have to tell you that I am pleased as punch to share that Bonnie Hunter posted a photo of my Friday Night Sew-In shenanigans on her blog!  We had such a great time on Friday and it was the perfect way to snap out of my funk from last week. And then to see ourselves on Bonnie's blog yesterday was just the icing on the cake! 
Today my Knot block collection is up on my design wall.
I have been sewing these blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this year - one colour each month (well, blue month resulted in more than 1 block because I have so many blue scraps, and I didn't make one for the 'neutral' month).  This Knot block pattern is from Quiltmaker's 100 blocks magazine issue #3...LOVE those magazines! Each block has 56 scraps from my stash, cut into 1.5" squares, and sewn together with a background fabric to make a 12" block. I think this is one of the most fun quilts I have ever made! I wonder what the remaining colours will be for the challenge this year...what am I missing still...maybe brown? gold? What colour blocks do you think I should I add in?
Hop over to Patchwork Times to see what other quilters are cooking up this week. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Slow Stitching Sunday - Hand Embroidery

On a slow stitching sunday post back in JulyCarrie introduced me to the Garden Steps quilt along at Clover and Violet's blog (did I just win an award for posting the "most links in one sentence"!?!?)
I decided to use these blocks as my "bus project". Since I take the bus to work now, I needed a hand stitching project to work on instead of wasting that hour every day. 
As you may know, a bus ride is not at all conducive to careful stitching! It is bumpy and jerky, with lots of stops and starts, which is not the best environment for making neat looking stitches!
But I decided to be fine with that. I would rather that my stitches be imperfect, than spend one hour a day staring at a phone, which is what everyone else on the bus does!

I am a little very late in starting the Garden Steps quilt along, so I traced all the embroidery patterns on one Fat Quarter of fabric (instead of making all the blocks first as the directions suggested). 
Then I collected up all the  supplies I would need to take with me on the bus every day. I have a little ziploc bag for the thread scraps, a medium ziploc bag for the DMC floss skeins, my sewing tin with thimbles, needles and scissors, my fabric and my pink hoop.

Then I put it all into a large ziploc bag, making the project as lightweight and portable as possible, while still being completely waterproof on rainy days.
My system has been working out perfectly! I have managed to make one block each week, and so far have finished these three pretty blocks.
Where do you stitch "on the go" and what are your tips for successful portable hand stitching?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

September FNSI

We had a great time at Friday Night Sew-In last night! The time went by too quickly as always, but in addition to the visiting and catching up with each other's lives, some progress was made on quilting projects. I got all the orange squares laid out and ready to sew together for my Knot block for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Then I was forced to do some hand stitching to fix one of my daughter's favorite tops... "no pressure Mom, I'll just stand here and wait, because I really want to wear that... right now"! She learned that putting a beaded top in the washing machine results in the threads being stretched. So I re-attached the beads and off she went to her party, and FNSI resumed.

Some celebrating went on...we were so happy to be together for Friday Night Sew-In! 
Note to self, when you see pink elephants on parade, you have had too much to drink!!

I got my block sewn for the Erin Fall Fair block challenge. There were 3 fabrics in the block kit - one of the beige backgrounds, the green in the lower left spool, and the button border. I can't wait to see all the blocks submitted!

We enjoyed watching some of Bonnie Hunter's Quiltcam. Sandy and I went to a Cathedral Stars class with Bonnie in Michigan two years ago and last night we got to see each other's quilts. Well, Sandy's is a finished quilt, and you might have guessed that mine is still a top. It won a 3rd prize ribbon at the Fergus Fall Fair last weekend! It's amazing how similar the quilts look, but also how different in the chosen colourways. After seeing Sandy's quilt, I am really motivated to finish mine. And after FNSI, I am so stoked to sew that I can't wait to finish my chores today and get to my machine! Happy Quilting!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How many days until FNSI?!?

I am in a creative funk!
I wander around my quilt room tidying up (which needs to be done, for sure) but nothing catches my attention to work on. 
Maybe I have a "quilt hang over" from my "Dotty for Kaffe" quilt? It was so much fun to make, I felt happy and creative making it, and nothing is interesting me now. 
The UFO from last month is annoying me by being still undone, and this month's UFO is not telling me what to do next, even though the month is half over!
My hand quilting project is bugging me because it's too sad, and....well, you get the picture.
So this is the plan.
I'm inviting some friends over to sew for Friday Night Sew-In! And I just know they will inspire me and get me back on track (no pressure!)
In fact, I am so eager, I'm #2 this month on the FNSI sign up list!!  
Are you joining in?!?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Totally as a fluke, I found on line that you could purchase DVD's of the movie Stitched  as a fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association. I was interested in watching this movie and was lucky enough to see that they were selling copies and I got one! This movie is a documentary that follows the activities of three quilters: Caryl Bryer Fallert, Hollis Chatelain, and Randall Cook, while they work on their entries for the Quilt Festival in Houston.
I tried to watch the video while I was sewing my star blocks, but it is way too interesting to watch while sewing!

Believe me...I really tried!

I would start stitching a seam and then have to look up at the wonderful photos of all the great quilts...and forget what I was stitching. It was one seam forward, then two seams back and no progress was made at all.
I better go back to listening to books on tape! I have never been to the Houston show, but after seeing this movie, it is on my bucket list for sure.
Here is the preview of the movie:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Design Wall Monday #35

I love the routine of posting what is on my design wall every Monday. Thanks to Judy at Patchwork Times for facilitating this weekly ritual. It helps to keep me focused, reminds me of my progress, and it is fun to look back at all the projects that have lived on my design wall over the years.
Today I am working on the Temecula Summer Stars Quilt Along. The blocks are 4" finished and were the perfect stress-free summer project.
I had fun auditioning layouts for this little quilt.
I auditioned the leftover backing from my UFO finish in July for a border fabric, and although I liked the fabric with these blocks, I wasn't loving the layout. Which is strange, because I liked the layout idea enough to use it for my dotty stars quilt (which I have decided to call "Dotty for Kaffe"!)
But these blocks demanded to be on pointe, so I gave in and found that I had enough fabric for the setting triangles, the backing and the binding. I made an extra block to piece into the backing for the label. 
The quilt and I are now in negotiations to decide whether it will be hand quilted or machine quilted.
Grab a cup of tea and hop over to Patchwork Times to visit the other design wall postings today.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Slow Sunday Stitching - Hoops

Thank you so much for all the wonderful suggestions shared last Sunday re: my sad quilt. I read all of the creative ideas and here is a summary list:
*give it away to a new home/donate it to a worthy cause
*listen to an audio book to distract from the sadness
*consider the misery as a prayer for someone
*finish the quilting by machine
*postpone the hand quilting and put it back in the UFO closet for a while
*pair up a new positive association and happy memories
*work through feelings by hand quilting in short bits of time
*add applique to bring good memories/energy to the quilt
*a wonderful friend even offered to rescue me, and finish up the quilt for me!
All great ideas! I have been thinking about these great strategies and how they are generalizable to dealing with many of life's unpleasant tasks.  Because this quilt is so symbolic to me, I don't want to give it away. I do want to keep it, and finish it someday, but not now. So it's going back into the UFO closet as soon as I finish all the white space outline quilting. 
This week I have also been thinking about quilting hoops. What started this train of thought was that my favorite quilting hoop BROKE! Yes, in the same state as my sewing machine was last month...BROKEN!  I just bought this hoop at Joann's in June and I am still shocked that the staples did not hold, since I am very gentle and careful with my equipment. Luckily for me I have several other hoops that I could use, but what on earth would we do without the glue, duct tape, staples and thread (and hope) that we use to mend broken things?!?
I have a variety of hoops, as most hand stitchers do, and each one has their functions and strengths. Hoops provide structure and containment for our stitching, although I know that some people don't use them at all. I have a small Qsnap frame, a large oval hoop on a stand (which is currently holding the sad quilt), 2 medium wooden hoops(1 is now broken), a small wooden hoop for machine embroidery, and a
small pink plastic hoop (for hand embroidery).
Do you use a hoop for your hand stitching?  Post a photo on your blog of your hand work, and link up to Slow Sunday Stitching, and you will be entered into the draw for this harvest charm pack of fruits and vegetables, and a cute little pair of scissors for your hand stitching. 
If your photo shows us the hoop you are using, I'll put in a second chance for you to win the draw!
The draw for this prize will take place when the link up ends, which is Friday Sept.21.
Happy Slow Stitching Sunday!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Orange

I didn't have much time to make headway with the orange scraps this week. Well, that's not exactly true. Lots of cutting and sewing of orange scraps went on, but not much was finished.
I had in mind to try Beth's dump and sew idea. I dumped out a box of batik scraps and just started piecing the orangey ones together. This is what I accomplished before I decided I wasn't feeling it! 
So I moved on to cutting the orange squares for my monthly Knot block.  I am ready to cut the background and then start working on the value order.
To see what other quilters are sewing with their orange scraps, visit SoScrappy.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Votes For Women

Finally I made some time to get to work on my Votes For Women Block of the Week project. 
This is the fabric I have been saving for this special project. I was lucky enough to win these reproduction fabrics in one of the Quilt Square Quilt Along draws that Jo has each month. And I bought some yardage of the two shirting fabrics for the backgrounds. I'm not sure if I have enough, but it will be a good start.

Block #1 - "Grandmother's Choice"
Easy peasy sewing for the first block. I fussy cut the little flowers on the navy and am happy with how it turned out.

Block #2 - "Amethyst"
A tricky block to sew. I didn't want to make templates, so I divided the block into quarters and drafted a pattern on freezer paper.
I like how the background fabric seems to make the block look more circular (totally by accident!). You can see more blocks posted on the Flickr page.
Part of the fun of a sew along with Barbara Brackman is all the historical information you get to read. I just love the slogan of the British Women's Social and Political Union in the early 1900's:
"Deeds Not Words"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dots on Dots Blog Hop - A Dotty Finish!

If you are a new visitor, welcome to the Kathy's Quilts -one of the stops on the Dots to Dots blog hop
Grab your dotty mug and some tea or coffee, and enjoy all the blogs on today's hop:

I just love love super love all dotty fabrics, and have made many projects over the years with dots. Here are some of the little pin cushions I made a while ago with some dotty scraps, and to see my most recent dotty quilt top called Sweet Treats - click here.

For a long time, I wanted to sew Amber's Scrap Jar Stars. I first saw the blocks on Darlene's post on July 16th showing her beautiful quilt. This was the first dotty star block I sewed. Want to make a blue drink to match your blue dotty mug?!? Don't try this won't like's called Blue Sky. Yuck!
You can check out the other two amazing Scrap Jar Stars quilts that inspired me....Lisa Ann's and Karin'sI started collecting some bright fabrics and planned to combine my favorite Kaffe Fassett Paperweight fabrics with scrappy dots. 
What fun I had searching for polka dot scraps! A big thanks to Janet and  Diane for sending me some extra polka dot fabrics to mix in from their stashes!

I used a slightly varigated yellow Aurifil thread for quilting and enjoyed every minute of the machine quilting with my newly repaired Brother sewing machine.
I pieced a few more paperweights and dotty fabrics for a fun scrappy backing. 
And here is my finished quilt...
"Dotty for Kaffe"!  
I used my favorite yellow paperweight fabric for the large blocks, and the binding...yum!
Thanks again to Madame Samm and Corrie for organizing more blog fun for us give us so much inspiration! And thank you to Amber for her great tutorial and pattern for these star blocks, and for giving me permission to use her pattern for this blog hop.
I am going to draw some names from the comments left on this blog post to win a little dotty pillow, so leave a comment and maybe you'll be a lucky winner!
**Draw is closed - the 3 winners drawn are:

**Debbie said...Adorable! Fun blocks...all fun together.

**Sara (My Semi-Creative Life) said...

I love how colorful your quilt is! So beautiful!
**Denise :) said...What *fun* dotty projects! Your dotty star quilt is gorgeous--love how bright and colorful it is! Terrific post, Kathy! :)
Congratulations to the winners! Have a great dotty day!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Design Wall Monday #34

I have been having such a great time sewing on my surgically enhanced sewing machine. It was in the shop/at the spa for a month, and I was so happy to welcome it home this weekend! I happily sewed and sewed, and enjoyed every minute of it's perfect piecing.
And I was able to finish my Tetris quilt top!
I made 9 blocks and tried to mix up the layout. The bottom blocks are #1, #2, and #3; middle blocks are #3, #4, #5, and the top blocks are #5, #6 and #1. I spilled over the leftover squares from each block into the block above it, so each shape in the quilt is an actual Tetris block shape. And the leftover squares in the top blocks spill into the sashing.
The black fabrics in the top sashing are a little "busy" for my liking, but I decided to use all stash fabrics for this project and made do with what I had on hand.
My favorite thing about the quilt is the letters at the top. I tried to make the letters look boxy and in keeping with the block theme of the Tetris game.
I debated about adding a black border around, but it is already 50" x 63", and a good size for a donation quilt, so I'll just use a black binding.
This was a fun Quilt-A-Long and I was happy about the amount of old bright scraps I cleared out of the stash. To see other Tetris quilts, hop over to the Happy Quilting blog.
And to see more design walls, go visit Patchwork Times.
It's a great day in blogland land...not only can you see the Tetris quilt tops (over 30 already linked up) and inspiring design walls, but the Dots on Dots blog hop starts today - click here for the list of blogs to visit. My day is Wednesday and I hope you'll come back and see my new dotty project!
There now...those three events should keep us all busy this week...who even has time to work?!?!