Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mountain Trail Quilt Along

Lori hosted a quilt along for a wonderful project she called "Mountain Trail". I made my blocks from a Vintage Modern charm pack and used a cherry Kona cotton for the trail.
Sewing the blocks was very fun but then I couldn't decide which layout I liked the best - to see the options click here. The comments on that blogpost were quite varied and increased my indecisiveness...
which is sometimes the kiss of death for my projects, and they start their slow march to the UFO closet!
But Lori is hosting a parade of Mountain Trail projects, so I finally had to just make a decision and go with it. I'm not sure if the border is too wide and might end up cutting it back - what do you think? I have more of the red Kona for the binding.
I really really like this angle to view the quilt, and think that I might end up making another quilt using this same block pattern, and an on pointe layout (or one of the other layouts that I also really like LOL!).
To check out the Mountain Trail parade, click here.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Design Wall Monday #41

Nothing exciting on my design wall today...
a palm tree block I made for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this month, borders for my Orca Bay quilt (which I am trying to finish before Bonnie's next mystery starts), and
and the borders for my Jack of Hearts mystery quilt. A lot was accomplished this week but they are all bits and pieces of different projects.
To see more design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Slow Stitching Sunday

Hand stitching or driving?!?
This is a typical photo of me... never wasting a single moment of time. If I am waiting in traffic, I am using those moments to sew!
That is the only way that quilts get made in my life! 
I make very stitch count.

I have finished hand quilting my 36 patch quilt along quilt, and am now stitching down the binding.
Still loving every stitch. I know I will be sad when this quilt is finished. Do you find yourself moving more slowly towards the end of a project, so that it won't be over?
Link up your hand stitching blog post and show us what are you sewing by hand this week.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wicked Blog Hop

Welcome to WICKED day! 
It's my day to share a wicked block with all the blog hoppers.
I loved the musical "Wicked" and so for the wicked blog hop, I wanted to make an Elphaba block. I saw the pattern called "If The Hat Fits" and tracked it down to the Buggy Barn. Their style of piecing blocks is really unique and I wanted to try it out. 
I must admit...it was WICKED hard

I thought I'd be showing you a whole quilt today, but I am delighted to have been able to finish one block in time for the hop!
Here is one of the blocks all cut out so you can see how many pieces are in a block.
I had to redraft the entire pattern to make it fit a 12" block size.

Here is my finished block/quilt!
I had a terrible time with the legs and boots. The pattern instructions are adorable 3D legs, but after a few hours of trying to make those, I gave up and just made some using machine applique.  I think she's a perfect Elphaba and seems to have a bit of an attitude, don't you think!??!

If you want to try some of the patterns in this book, just leave a comment and your name will go into the draw to win the pattern book from Buggy Barn called Frightfully Crazy.

Here is the list of other WICKED blogs to visit today!

Kathy's Quilts (that's me!)

And here is one of my favorite songs that Elphaba sings in Wicked - enjoy listening while you hop around to the other Wicked blogs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Mini Leader/Ender Project

Do you ever walk into your quilt room with a plan of what you want to sew and get completely derailed? The other day I decided to pin baste my UFO of the month, and started to clear the piles off my cutting mat to get the backing ready, and then I found some little tiny pieces that I had completely forgotten about! 
I was so happy to see these little bits again. Now what was I going to do with them? Oh yah...I was making this adorable block that I first saw on the LeeHaven blog, and Karen called this block "Alamo Star".
And I think Karen was inspired by a quilt posted on the Strawberry Patch blog - click here to see some beautiful red and white blocks. Mrs. Goodneedle sent me the templates to make a 6" block.
If you read my post yesterday, you know I am obsessed with making blocks smaller, so I decided to make my blocks 2.25" finished. 
Did I mention they are cute?!? 
Cute Cute Cute!
Each block has 17 pieces. 
I used my Tri-Recs rulers to cut the little shapes. I will admit the cutting is fiddly and annoying. But sewing the sweet little things together is really fun! 
This project totally hijacked my sewing time and I didn't get anything else done...my quilt didn't get basted, and my cutting table did not get cleaned.
But I had a great time watching Bonnie on Quiltcam, and digging through my batik scrap bag.
See how I have several block pieces clipped together using my binding clips and ready to sew? This will be my new leader/ender project as soon as I can leave it alone and get back to what I was supposed to be sewing!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Find Your Bliss

My kids are now at an age where they are making many big life decisions. It's not easy for kids these days because of the unlimited choices with which they are faced.
It's the same in the quilting world....unlimited pattern choices, unlimited fabric availability, hundreds of quilting blogs and websites with constant inspiration.
How do you find your direction and make your choices of what quilts to make?
My answer is to find out what makes your heart sing, and go in that direction. If it gives you energy and you have so much anticipation you just can't wait to work on that project, do more of that. If it feels like trudging through mud, and you procrastinate working on it, there's a clue!
I always say to my kids, just take the next right step.
My first lesson of finding what makes my heart sing was in 1996. I was at a much needed quilt retreat after my son was born. It was my first quilting retreat and I knew we couldn't really afford for me to be spending that much money. I remember that I felt guilty about the money, and being away from my little ones, but knowing I NEEDED to be there. Lesson #1 - a weekend away from my children (to fill my own well) made me a better Mom when I came back.
In my first weekend quilt retreat I learned how to make baby (or "bonus") half square triangles from the flying geese units in this quilt that I posted yesterday.
I was immediately smitten!
After the retreat, I came home and became completely preoccupied with those HST blocks. 
I made a series of 7 mini quilts using those tiny blocks and enjoyed trying to figure out different layouts for each one. All the while, the quilt blocks from the retreat held no interest for me, and the project eventually became a UFO for 16 years! 
But the minis...I couldn't get enough of them!
Lesson #2 - I love sewing miniature blocks and quilts.

I even made a series of labels for these scrappy treasures. 
Nicest labels I've ever made to be truthful:)

Miniature quilts are still one of my greatest joys and I always have a few in production... can't wait to show you my newest one that I am working on this week.
What is your bliss? What do you want to do more of? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Design Wall Monday #40

On my design wall today is a finished quilt top! Woohoo!
And it just took me 16 years to get it there! Well, those borders take me a while to figure out...LOL!
This is a mystery quilt from the very first quilt retreat I attended in 2006 1996 (oops... clearly I am in denial about how long it has been!). It was made from a kit provided by the store "Wooden Hill Quilts" (anyone still remember that store?!). The fabric was all precut for us, can you imagine?!? And we just sewed and sewed. 
It was my first weekend ever being away from my children - here they are wreaking havoc in my room at the inn before they dropped me off
...it was hard to be away and I missed them terribly. But it was good for all of us.
It was an amazing weekend! The quilt pattern was called "Stars Over a Port Elgin Sky".
It has been in the UFO closet for 16 years and is finally on it's way to becoming a finished quilt! 
Tomorrow I will write about what I learned at this retreat that has become an obsession.
You can check out more design walls over at Patchwork Times.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Slow Stitching Sunday

"Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women."  
Maya Angelou 
I have been blessed in having a job for almost 20 years where I have the privilege of working with the most amazing women. In this small group of women each one is 100% committed to our work, to helping other women, and not only our clients, but each other. They have been there for me in ways I cannot even think about without crying, and are one of the amazing blessings in my life for which I am thankful every day.
Every year the parents of one of the social workers offer us the use of their Northern Ontario cottage for a weekend retreat. They get everything ready for us, even though they are in their 80's now, including chopping the wood and preparing the fireplace so that when we arrive it is warm and cozy. 
We talk and talk and talk, and heal some of the pain from the work we do, and we also have lots of fun together. 
However, not a single one of these wonderful women are quilters or crafty in any way. I don't hold that against them! LOL! I stitch away the entire weekend, and they always express interest in what I am making.
How all of this is quilt related is... 
the quilt that I have been hand quilting for the last month (click here to see it) has decided that it wants to be gifted to these most generous cottage owners, who share their peaceful setting with us each year. This quilt tells me it is very excited to be able to live at the cottage and hopes to have a long life keeping this wonderful family warm. 
Now I am totally stoked to finish up the quilting. My plan is to hand quilt every night this week for an hour before bed, and I might even have it done in a week or two, depending how how my skin holds up. 
What are you stitching by hand this week?
Post a link below to your hand work blogpost and your name will be entered in the draw for this Vintage Modern charm pack.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Brown Scrappy Saturday

Friday night sew-in was a success! Some sewing did get accomplished - we had binding sewn on, binding stitched down, hand quilting, and machine piecing going on! Also lots of visiting, laughing, information sharing, and quite a bit of eating! Just look at these treats that Sandy got up early to make for us...YUM

The colour of the month at the Rainbow Scrap challenge is brown. YUCK!
I don't often sew with brown so I really don't have many brown scraps kicking around here. For sure I don't have enough variety to cut the 56 1.5" squares that I would need for a brown knot block, but I did have 14 brown scraps to make a palm branch (aka Red Herring) block last night. 
This was a great block to try out my new rolling seam presser that I bought last week when I attended a guild lecture by RaNae Merrill. It was a very interesting lecture, but I was so exhausted I could barely take in any information. However, I did get a new tool and found out that it works great... it presses a nice seam and doesn't stretch the fabric like a wooden presser stick does.
All of the blogposts about quilters sewing brown scraps reminded me of my brown quilt from last year. I got it out of the UFO vault and am thinking I might baste and quilt it this week. The pattern is called Chocolate Stars by Fat Cat patterns
Hop over to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge posting and see what other quilters are making with their brown scraps this week.

Friday, October 19, 2012


I thought it was going to be Friday Night Sew-In today. It's usually the 3rd friday night of the month, so I invited a few friends over for a quilting party. But then I checked Heidi's blog, and found out that FNSI is not until next week. Oh well, I'm busy next week, so tonight it is!
I have my projects all ready to go.
I decided I must finish my Orca Bay mystery from last year because Bonnie Hunter is starting her annual (free and always amazing!) mystery next month and I want to be able to participate guilt free. When I was last working on Orca Bay (in January!), I just had the final border to piece. I remembered that I had run out of fabric, and thought it would be easy to find more, but it wasn't! I didn't find more fabric until the weekend I bought my Singer Treadle and stopped in at Mary Maxim...and there it was! I was really lucky that weekend I tell you!
So while I watched Quiltcam last night I collected and counted all the pieces, and cut out all the remaining parts to finish the border, and am ready to finish sewing that mystery top. 
Also I have my pieces ready to sew part #3 for my Jack of Hearts mystery
Check back tomorrow to see if indeed anything got accomplished, besides laughing and chatting!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall Fair Wrap Up & Judging Thoughts

I am finally finishing up my fall fair postings...thank you to those who had some fun with my fall fair quiz.
The answers to my 2 questions were were 3 and 9:
1) I entered quilts in 3 fall fairs this year: 
Paris, Fergus and Erin.
2) I wanted to enter the 10 quilts in the photo, minus the top 2, which for some reason stayed on the table at home (a quilt block and a quilt top), plus the one quilt I took off my bed = 9 quilts entered!
Congrats to Sandra C who was the closest guesser, with her guess of 3 fall fairs and 8 quilts entered...send me your snail mail address Sandra and I'll get a fabric treat in the mail to you.
And a few thoughts on judging fall fairs...

after a number of years as a quilter submitting quilts to fairs and contests, and as a judge of juried shows and fall fairs, I can secretly admit to you that judging is mostly a matter of personal preference. In a perfect world, trained judges would make the same decisions re: awarding prizes and ribbons, but I know from judging with other trained judges, that it is not usually the case that we all agree.
This year I entered several quilts into my favorite local fall fairs. Each fair has it's own charm, and I love fall fairs, so I can't resist participating. 
I submitted my Dr. Seuss quilt to the three fall fairs.
In one fair it won a first prize and best of show.
And in another fair, it won nothing.
Why is that?
I think it is due to the personal preference of the judges, plus the category it was entered into, plus the competition of the other entries in that particular category. 
I don't enter fairs for the glory, (there is none unless my daughter comes with me and is sweet enough to gush about my quilts that receive ribbons) the ribbons (don't need more of those), or the cash (1st prize is sometimes $5!). I enter quilts because I enjoy this longstanding tradition of community participation. It's a lot of administrative/busy work to check the fair categories and see what quilts I could enter, get the tickets/paperwork all organized, gather the fabric samples to attach for some fair requirements, and to get the quilts to the right place at the right time, then pick them up at the right place at the right time. 
But I love to see quilts hanging at the fall fairs and I want to keep this community tradition alive, so I plan to make it my goal to try to participate every year if possible.
And I want to remind us all not to pin your artist's self esteem on winning ribbons or awards. Just because a judge didn't love your piece or "get" your vision, doesn't mean it's not an amazing piece of art. Keep making the quilts you love and sharing them with those who appreciate your efforts. Just sayin!
And under the category of bad ideas...
a deep fried Mars bar!
It was a new (to me) fall fair treat that I just couldn't wait to try... OMG...it was so gross I can't even tell you! What the heck was I thinking trying that?!?!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Votes for Women Wednesday

Not everyone loves sewing individual blocks for a quilt, but I really do. I love the look of a sampler quilt, and the challenge of making each block from a different pattern. 
I'm almost caught up with the block of the week with Barbara Brackman. 
This is block #5 called Suffrage Pioneer. The 'X' in the block symbolizes womens' right to vote.
Oh dear...trust me, my block looks much better in real life than on the computer screen!  It was a fun one to sew and came out to the perfect size.

This is block #6 called "Aunt Eliza's Star".  The history lesson about Eliza Custis and child custody issues reminded me how much legal rights have improved for women. It was very interesting for me to be thinking about this while watching the US presidential debate.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Treadling on Tuesday

I have had a great time learning to treadle on my new/old Singer. The first few seams had some tension issues, but I was determined to improve the stitch. 
fiddled around with the knobs and dials, and finally resorted to reading the instruction manual (yes...the original instruction manual!) and got the tension and stitch length working well.

I was sewing scraps together and was amazed at how quickly I caught on to the foot movements required to work the machine, and it was so FUN!  I was zipping along and enjoying the sound of the treadling, and how smoothly the machine was working considering it hasn't been used much, if at all, for years. 

But then...the belt broke. Waaa :(
I asked the quilters on the TreadleOn list and got some great advice on belt replacement. So my new/old Singer is temporarily on the disabled list, but not for long... we should be back in business before you know it!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Design Wall Monday #39 - Light on the Journey

On my design wall today is a major accomplishment...
I have finished my "Journey of a Quilter" top (pattern by Leanne Beasley).  I had decided it needed a border, but couldn't find just the right one, and I finally did! 
I'm not sure about the border size, but I have learned that it is easier to hand quilt with a large border on the edges to help fasten the quilt into the hoop. I might trim it down at the end. Can't wait to get quilting my journey! The construction of the top took 5 years...how long will the quilting take?!? I don't care...it's a great journey and it takes as long as it takes! 
To see snips of other quilters' journeys today, hop over to Patchwork Times.
Grieving and sad moments are part of the life journey too. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. If you are interested in "the wave of light", you can light a candle at 7 pm tonight - click here for more information. I will be lighting this candle to commemorate my first baby miscarried January 8, 1990. This is the cross stitch memorial I made in 2000. And I'm sending this photo along to Emily to encourage her in her journey. It doesn't take much to share a little light!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Slow Stitching Sunday

Ahhhh...it's Sunday again! 
My favorite day - time to relax, put my feet up, breathe deeply, and do some slow stitching.  Like this spider (whose name is probably Charlotte) who has worked all week to stitch up the perfect web and now she can put up her feet and relax, and wait for her lunch to arrive!
I have been working on another Aunt Philly's Toothbrush rug. (You can see my first one here.) My friend Louise helped me to get the rug started and I am enjoying the second one even more than the first one. This rug is going to be in blue and yellow scraps for my bedroom. My goal is to make sure the tension is better on this one, and I'm hoping for a flatter lying rug this time!
And I have been working on an applique block...yes I have! I dislike applique for the most part and especially dislike that I can't make a point look pointy to save my life! But I am making the Votes for Women BOW, and really liked the story this week of Alice Stokes Paul and want to have this block in my quilt, so I'm doing it. 
And as soon as this block is done, I'm right back to hand quilting my 36 patch quilt. I enjoyed an hour of hand quilting last night while watching Bonnie do some treadling on Quilt Cam.
I guess this doesn't look like much from the back, but it sure does makes me happy :) 
What slow stitching is making you feel happy today? Link up your blog post below and share your stitching with us.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Sewing and the fall fair block challenge

The plan for today (until my night shift at the hospital) is to sew and sew, and maybe have a little nap :)
I might sew some brown scraps for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, but I was also wondering about working on my brown "dirt or chocolate" mystery quilt instead...we'll see.
I also hope to sew step #2 for my "Jack of Hearts" mystery.
Continuing with my blogposts about fall fairs, I wanted to post the photos from the Erin Fall Fair block collection. I just love it when quilters use their collective creativity to work on a group project. The theme for the block challenge was "Sew & Sow". This is my block, which only addressed the first part of the theme! 

I was really impressed by the 25 creative blocks that were submitted, with such a wide variety in techniques and design. I had to stand there and take in each unique block, made from the same starting theme and fabrics.

Some quilters focused on the "sew" and some focused on the "sow". 
Isn't this block clever?!?

And look at the teeny tiny flower stitchery on this one...it was really delicate.

And this block was my favorite although I don't know who made it. I love the original design, the flow of the gentle curves, the use of light, and the adorable details...love it!

And I also really enjoyed how creatively the blocks were displayed with the tiny sewing machines. Sew fun!
If you haven't entered a guess in my fall fair game, click here and give it a try!