Friday, November 30, 2012

November Free Motion Challenge

I missed doing October's Free Motion Quilting Challenge because I built it up in my mind as "too hard"! When we face a big challenge, most of us tend to procrastinate and/or never try. I can't count the number of times I have heard quilters say "I wish I could free motion quilt". You can!  But you have to be willing to put in the practice time! 
My plan is go back to October's lesson and spend more time on it over the Christmas holiday...practice and more practice! 
Here is November's lesson with Sarah Vedeler which I  finished on the last day of November! It is one of my all time favorite quilting designs - spirals!  I used this design on my Dr. Seuss quilt,  Disappearing 4 Patch, and the Kwik Scrappy Star name a few.

The hardest part of this lesson was to quilt the spirals in a straight line. On paper, the lines helped me to keep the swirls in a row. 

But on the fabric, I tried to stitch a straight line of spirals on the diagonal of the block, and then swirled out! You can see at the top of the line, I forgot that my plan was to swirl in a line and made a couple of little swirls to the right, but I got right back in line!
I have really enjoyed the lessons that have been on the SewCalGal blog this year. Free lessons posted by award winning teachers... it doesn't get any better than that you quilters! If you haven't checked it out, hop over there and read or print out the lessons. There is only one more month left and the teacher is Patsy Thompson! I can't wait to see what she will teach....should be posted tomorrow.

November UFO Report

There hasn't been a UFO report on my blog for a long time. I was doing such a good job for the first half of the year, working each month to complete a quilt on my UFO list (see list on right sidebar of my blog). Seven quilts were finished! But then I started another job and quilting time has been reduced to mostly during the night when I can't sleep :(
So, I didn't even look at UFO # 9, which was the project for November. It makes me feel a little sad, because I love that quilt, and I can't even believe that November is over and that poor quilt didn't even make it out of the closet!
And now it's time to look ahead to December, and quilt #4 is the UFO of the month. This is a flannel quilt that I started to use up scraps. The center snowball blocks were from a friend's retreat quilt which she threw in the garbage and I "rescued"! Yep... self confessed dumpster diving quilter here! (PS I'm trying to get over that problem now!) 
And it has leftovers from a quilt I made for my daughter's 3rd grade teacher. She is finishing her science degree at university this year, so that tells you how old some of this fabric is! Time to get it into a quilt! 
I hope that I will have time this month, in between making some Christmas presents, to make some progress on this quilt.
To see some finished UFO's from this month, hop over to Patchwork Times
And step #2 has been posted for the Easy Street Mystery, so I am also hoping to sew some purple flying geese this weekend.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Votes For Women #12

The block last week for Barbara Brackman's BOW is called "Little Boys Breeches: Dress Reform". I had fun picking out the fabric for each of the breeches/britches, and made two in pink fabric to symbolize women starting to wear pants.

I didn't want to sew "set in seams", so I made a paper piecing template from studying the block on the computer screen and it worked out perfectly.
I will go to great lengths to avoid set in seams! LOL

The history lesson for Grandmother's Choice block #12 is about "Dress Reform" and how women's fashion developed. Barbara Brackman wrote: "Women's fashion was a pretty prison". Interesting that some of our modern day fashions still make it difficult for women to walk, and move freely :)
I thought this would be a great opportunity to show you some of my women ancestors and the clothing they wore
This is a photo of my maternal great grandparents taken in England.  How scandalous of my grandmother to be showing her ankles in the early 1900's!
Look at that fancy belt and the waist treatment on Grandma's dress. 
BTW... no one in the family inherited her curly hair (if that is her hair and not a wig?)
It is interesting to note that my Great Grandmother was completely illiterate. She made her signature by writing an 'X', she never had a bank account, or paid a bill, or voted in her lifetime! In fact she rarely left the house because she had no need to.
FYI - I still have that locket that is around her neck but it is too fragile to wear. It needs some restoration some day.

Family photo in the 30's:
This is a photo of 3 sisters and 2 sisters-in-law...
Aunt Nellie, Ellen - my Nana (SIL), Aunt Nora, Aunt Orpha (SIL), and Aunt May.
Love the fashion, from the hair styles, the dresses, collars and belts, to the shoes. These women are have all died now but throughout their lives, they never wore trousers/
pants/breeches...always dresses or skirts. 
My mother very clearly remembers the first time she bought a "pant suit" in the late 1960's, having worn skirts/dresses up until then. 
I am very thankful to be a woman in 2012 when I get to put on my britches, comfortable walking shoes, and go to work!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Design Wall Monday #45

Wow...this is the 45th time this year that I have posted on my blog what is on my design wall on Monday morning.
Today...this is what I'm looking at!
I am working on Bonnie Hunter's "Easy Street" mystery. I posted my fabrics and more details about my mystery quilt addiction on Saturday's post - click here if you want to see that.
I spent time on the weekend organizing my black on white fabrics because I need some large pieces to make more (maybe 8?) enormous 24" Swoon blocks and I couldn't remember which fabrics I had in mind for that. On the design wall is a 24" Swoon block and a little 8" Swoon block. Next I'm going to make a 16" block just for fun and see what size I like best. So today I measured out the largest black on white pieces and set them aside for more Swoons. All the other black on white scraps are going in the step #1 - 4 patch blocks for Easy Street.
I have finished sewing 70 4-patch units laying on the tray, pinned together in sets of 10 like Bonnie has suggested. And I have the strip sets sewn together to finish the rest of the 4 patches this week. It should be no problem to finish by Friday - the day of step #2 release. Wouldn't it be great to be able to keep up with the mystery?!?
There is a lot going on in blogland today! If you want to see more design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times. To see more blog postings on the Easy Street mystery, hop over to Quiltville.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Slow Sunday Stitching - Big Finish!

A big finish to announce...

drum roll please...

I finished the hand quilting and binding on my 36 patch scrap quilt, and it has already been gifted to it's new owners. 

Here it is, in it's new environment up in gorgeous cottage country.
Just look at that amazing sky!

I like this photo which shows...
*the scrappy border made from the leftover squares,
*a bit of the white backing 
*the diagonal quilting lines, and 
*the light floral binding.

This was such a fun and happy quilt to "work" on, and I enjoyed every moment. I was amazed at how much I like the finished quilt, since I did not like many of the old (1990's) floral fabrics I used in piecing the blocks and was happy to be using them up. 

I actually felt sad when the quilting was finished and the binding stitched down. The last stitches took way longer than they needed to, as I lingered over each one.  I have some great memories stitched into this quilt! 
Luckily I have another special quilt to enjoy more hand quilting today. 
What are you stitching this week?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday on Easy Street

Anyone who reads my blog, knows how much I love mystery quilts. I may think (briefly) that I really should not start another quilt, but I know that I will! And if it's a Bonnie Hunter mystery, I don't even play that game with myself....
I know I'll be doing it! 
Here are some of my previous Bonnie mysteries:
Carolina Crossroads, Double Delight, Orange Crush, and Orca Bay. Of these quilts, only Orca Bay is not quilted yet.
I like to use up stash fabric as much as possible, and I could not believe that I had a chunk of the same old grey fabric in my stash as Bonnie is using in her project!  Bonnie said she has had it in her stash since the 90's and I probably have too. I don't have enough of the grey, so I'll add in some of the fabric with the leaves on.

After the mystery was announced, I was in a little town that still has a Stedman's department store - do you remember those? I found these fabrics in Stedman's to add in but sadly I think I'll have to leave the pink and yellow out!

Here are the other fabrics I have pulled from the stash which may or may not make it into my mystery quilt:



I am off to start sewing a million 192 4-patch blocks for step #1.  
The colour of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is grey, so I'll link up to the RSC post to show them what I'm making with my VERY old grey fabric! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Miss Molly on the Mountain Trail

Miss Molly had a photo shoot on the "Mountain Trail"!

Which is more beautiful...
the quilt or the dog? 

It's a toss up in my opinion!

"Show me the treats or I ain't gonna smile"!

"Is this a dog photo shoot with a quilt background, or a quilt photo shoot with a dog in it"?

Miss Molly wants to be (and is) the star of every moment!

"If you don't start giving me the treats, I'm going back to bed!  Hand 'em over"!
"I love this gig! 
I get to wear a spiffy new red bow, get a few treats, and I'm sitting on a quilt...woohoo"!

Molly has done so well with recovering from her surgery in the summer. A large tumour was removed from her left eyelid, and you can't even tell that they resected the eyelid back together...amazing!

Finished Mountain Trail:

*24" x 29"

*Design and instructions by Lori at Humble Quilts 

*Fabric - Vintage Modern with a red Kona path

This is the backing, but you can't see the feather quilting very well.

Maybe you can see it in the photo on the right?
Bottom left corner of the mountain trail.

Thanks for the fun Lori!
Can't wait to see what we're sewing next...
no pressure!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are celebrating Thanksgiving today...have a wonderful day of being thankful! It is just a regular working day for us here in Ontario, Canada, but tonight I am attending an annual Thanksgiving party being hosted by my American friend, and we love to celebrate with her... I get two Thanksgiving dinners every year, one in October and one in November!
I made a little hostess gift for her and stitched up this tea towel.
For the first time, I used the Sticky Fabri-Solvy. It seemed like such a waste of an entire sheet to print only one design, so I put the paper back through the printer and printed another design on the other end. I don't have a clue why it printed out in two different colours!
The pattern is from Bird Brain Designs. If you are on their email list, they send out free link ups to seasonal designs and this was one of their patterns (no affiliation, but I am a happy customer). 
I wish I would have purchased their tea towels also, because I think the one I bought at Canadian Tire was too thick, and the Solvy pattern wouldn't stick to it! I ended up pinning the pattern to the towel and it worked okay. It did not gum up the needle at all stitching through the Solvy sheet.
Once the design was stitched, I cut away the extra Solvy around the embroidery, and dunked it in the sink to dissolve the rest. Once the towel was dry, the stitches looked a little loose, so it will be interesting to see how the stitches look after the towel has a good work out tonight drying all those dishes from the festivities!
Happy Thanksgiving... let's gobble!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Votes For Women Wednesday

I finished another block for the Grandmother's Choice BOW (or "Votes For Women" as I like to call it).
This is block #11 Little Red Schoolhouse: Lucy Stone.
This was quite a challenge to sew and I ended up drafting a paper pieced pattern to sew the roof piece. It didn't quite meet up with the chimneys,
and it looks a little odd, but I am fine with that.
I really enjoyed learning about Lucy Stone and found her life story to be very inspiring. She worked so hard just for the privilege of getting an education. Much of her biography, that was written by her daughter, can be read on line (click here). I love that her last statement to her daughter was:
"Make the world better".
Some quilters who are sewing these blocks each week are putting the sashings on as they make the blocks. You can hop over to see Cathy's version here, and visit the Flickr group to see a lot of examples of blocks and layout ideas.  It sure is a great idea for putting together the quilt. However, I enjoy moving the blocks around too much at the end to get a balanced layout. Well, technically I do that...sometimes they just sit in a box for years first, so maybe I should consider this plan to have a finished quilt sooner?  When the year is over, those quilters will have a finished top, and I'll just have a pile of blocks and another UFO! 
Can't wait to get started on the next block!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Treadling on Tuesday

I am having a grand time with my Treadle this week. I watched a Youtube video on how to clean and oil a Treadle
I only watched about the first 5 minutes because that is as many steps as I could handle at a time. I plan to go back and watch/do the rest another day. I like this photo because it shows Miss Molly supervising in the background and it looks like she is saying "I wouldn't do that if I were you!"
How many tools does it take to open the side of a Treadle sewing machine? 
More than this apparently! 
I couldn't get the side panel off. 
Do I need different tools or a stronger person?!?

When oiling the parts under the machine, I found a lot of thread wrapped around the... um, around the "whatchamacallit" (that's the technical term!)
I removed all the snarled thread with some tweezers.
I put oil into all the little holes, and on all the moving parts.  Miraculously I got the machine put back together (with no pieces leftover!) and the belt back in place. 
Then I tried to sew/treadle. 
The machine developed terrible tension and I was starting to regret my decision to take the hand wheel off in the cleaning process, 
but then I saw this...
the thread had jumped out of the tension disk. 

Easy peasy problem to fix (phew!) and I was back in business with perfect tension again.  I enjoyed some relaxing crumb sewing from my scrap box. I put a towel underneath the machine to catch any oil drips. Then once I got going and the oil got worked in,  I didn't need the towel anymore.
My daughter took these cool photos of me treadling. It works best for me if my right foot is forward to the front of the treadle, and my left foot is at the back. So fun!
It is inexplicable and completely illogical why I love this so much!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Design Wall Monday #44

One of my projects for 2012 is the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Each month I tried to make a Knot block from the colour of the month. The Knot block pattern is from Quiltmaker's 100 blocks magazine issue #3...LOVE those magazines! 
Here are my 10 finished blocks so far. Well, the brown one isn't quite finished - read this post to find out why!
I have space for two more blocks - one will be dark browns/black, and I'm thinking the last block might be bright greens. And then comes the hard part...figuring out a layout, sashings, borders etc. Do you have any ideas for me?
Hop over to Patchwork Times to see more design wall postings.
It's a busy week coming up on the blog! Look for another "Treadling on Tuesday" post, maybe a "Votes for Women" update, the usual "Slow Stitching" hand work link up, and TWO, yes TWO finishes to share! That hasn't happened in a long time! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Slow Sunday Stitching

One of my jobs is working in counselling services at the local college. And one of the many blessings of this job, is the privilege of working with students from all over the world.
 This week I enjoyed seeing many of the Indian women on campus dressed in gorgeous saris as they celebrated Diwali, a Hindu festival also known as "festival of lights" to celebrate "the awareness of the inner light". 
(NB - These two photos are imported from Wikipedia)
On Thursday, because of the tradition of sharing sweets, one of my students brought in some Rasmalai to share with me (for a description and recipe - click here).  I must admit the sight of the treat was a little alarming, a white spongy blob floating in white sauce, but I sometimes I am brave, and I took a big little bite... much to my surprise, it was delicious! 

So today as I do some relaxing hand stitching/binding, I will be thinking about the students  I have met who are far far away from home, and who inspire me every day. And I'll be planning the two new adventures I added to my "bucket list" this week... I want to get a Henna tattoo and I want to wear a Patchwork Sari
Happy Dewali and Happy Slow Sunday Stitching!
Link up your blogpost and share what hand stitching project you are working on this week (and if you know anything about how to add a code to a blog button, can you email me?!?!)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

FNSI for Scrappy Saturday block

At FNSI last night, I finally got a brown Knot block sewn for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Most scrappers were finished with their brown scraps last month, but I just got fired up about brown at the end of October.
Now that I see the block on the computer screen, I think that top left block got rotated 90 degrees at a crucial step in the construction process! Here's my favorite seam ripper...I will get to work unstitching what I accomplished last night!
Here are my Scrappy Rainbow goals for the remaining days of 2012: 
*sew one more brown block. I still have enough brown scraps left (thanks to Janet and Deanna). This second Knot block will use up the darker browns, into blacks.
*to round out a nice even dozen blocks for my Knot sampler, I need one more colour... maybe a bright, lime green Knot block?  I will gather up all the blocks and put them on the Monday design wall post.
*get volume 6 of the 100 Blocks magazine and pick a new challenge block for 2013.
To see what other scrap quilters are making today, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Santa blocks

Victoria from Bumble Beans Inc. (who has just published a new book!) offered to mail out the center Santa squares to any quilter who was interested in making a block - any size...any pattern. 
I couldn't resist the challenge!
I had fun searching through my favorite 100 block magazines and picked out block #289 from volume #3 by Scott Murkin called "Filmstrip".
To see the collection of other Santa blocks that these will be joining - click here, and to see the new blocks that arrived with mine, click here. It will be a real challenge to corral all these various sized blocks into a quilt top and I can't wait to see what Victoria makes with them!
*** To see the amazing finished quilt, click here

Tonight is Friday Night Sew-In. It snuck up on me this month. If it snuck up on you too, it's not too late to hop over to Heidi's blog and sign up - click here. I hope to be able to sew all night but am on call for work, so don't know if I'll be sewing or working. You can probably guess what I'm hoping for!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Climbing the Mountain Trail

I rearranged the two misplaced errant blocks on the first layout attempt of my Mountain Trail quilt, and reattached the borders.  Then I picked out some threads to use and wound up some bobbins to get going on the machine quilting.
While pin basting the quilt, I decided to feather quilt on the diagonal - the light fabrics will be quilted using a grey thread, and the bright side I'll use the red thread. The red is also for a straight line down the red mountain trail.
Off we go a feathering... so far, so good!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Votes For Women - Blocks #9 and #10

I have sewn a couple more blocks for my Votes for Women project.

This is block #9 "Brick Pavement". It was a unique block design which was fun to sew and turned out really well.

This is block #10 "New York".
A quick and easy block to make.

Here is the summary of my block adventure so far...
Blocks 1, 2, and 3 - Done
Block 4 - couldn't print templates
Blocks 5, 6 and 7 - Done
Block 8 - the same pattern as block 2 (don't need two of them!)
Blocks 9 and 10 - Done

Here are my blocks so far...

Total = 7 pieced blocks, 2 not done, and 1 applique block (not done well and destined for the backing!)
It has been inspiring to read about the US election this past week, and the influence of the women voters on the outcome, while at the same time reading the history lessons Barbara has posted on her Grandmother's Choice blog about women who risked imprisonment in order to vote. Maybe the women voters were reading Barbara's blog and recognized the importance of their right to vote?!? 
For more inspiration, hop over to Karen's Sew Primitive Quilter blog and see how she is incorporating text and photo transfer into her amazing blocks... so creative!