Monday, November 30, 2015

Design Wall Monday

Work is continuing on my July Shop Hop blocks and the first 6 blocks are now up on the design wall. The top 3 blocks are variations of the churn dash block and were fun to make. The flying geese block on the bottom left was also fun. 
But the bottom middle block was frustrating due to complex cutting instructions which resulted in not cutting the pieces in an efficient manner (largest ones first) which then meant that I had to piece tiny bits of fabric together in order to make up the required size pieces. 
And the bottom right block was supposed to be made with templates (bleck!) so I cleverly designed a paper piecing block instead. However, not being as clever as I had thought, I forgot to figure in the seam allowance measurements so the pieces don't join up properly anywhere. All those nice corner points will also be gone when I piece the block in the quilt. Ugh.
Oh well, I'm telling myself (as I usually do) that I tried my best, so it's "good enough".  Move on.
If you want to see more design wall postings, hop over to visit Judy at Patchwork Times.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly linky party where we celebrate all forms of hand stitching. Make a cup of your favourite beverage to enjoy while you visit the blogs of slow stitchers around the world. It's the perfect way to start your Sunday!

I have been working on some of the sampler quilt blocks from the local July Shop Hop. When I was at quilt retreat I started this block and was able to finish it this week . It is an embroidery design in the centre of a pieced churn dash block.

Next up is a hexagon block, which unfortunately I am not enjoying. I hoped I would enjoy these hexies more since other hand stitchers seem to like making them. I have enjoyed making small hexies in the past, and I think the problem with this block is that the fabric pieces are precut and it's a struggle to have enough of a seam allowance to baste over the edges of the paper hexagons. The next step will be to whip stitch them together. I think I'll enjoy that stitching more.
What are you hoping to work on today? Link up your blog post below and share your hand stitching project.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Scrap Squad Starburst

My 5th Scrap Squad quilt is finished!

The original pattern is "Candy Cane Crush" by Sandra Clemons. I used the block pattern and then decided to put the blocks on point. To read more about this quilt, hop over to the Quiltmaker blog (not posted yet but stay tuned!) where I wrote about the design decisions, the construction of the top, and the machine quilting.
Even after all these years of making quilts, this one challenged me in new ways. 

These are some of the things I learned in making this quilt:
1) I learned how to painstakingly sew a border on the edge of a quilt with more than 160 blocks that need to be sewn precisely in order to not lose the points of all the squares.

2) I learned that it is a real challenge to make a quilt with so much white fabric. Every single stray thread showed on the quilt. I had to use the sticky lint roller on the backing, the batting, and both sides of the quilt top before basting. And then again after quilting. And still there were threads that were noticeable. 

3) I also learned that it is nearly impossible to photograph a white quilt and get the colour balance accurate.

4) And I was reminded not to try to photograph a quilt on a windy day! Remember when I tried to photograph Easy Street? The problem was that I cut it too close in terms of the timing for finishing the quilt and getting the photos taken for the deadline for writing the Quilty Pleasures blogpost. 

Because it is totally dark outside after 5 pm (when getting home from work) and I have poor indoor lighting for a white quilt (which makes it look yellow) the photos had to be taken on the windy day. Trying to get some decent photos in sub optimal conditions was not fun for me, but was quite entertaining for the neighbours!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Allietare Countdown

I didn't realize that the beginning of the Quiltville mystery is this Friday! Are you sewing along with the mystery gang?
The first step is revealed on Friday morning, and I finally corralled all my fabrics. I am going totally "by the book" this time and using the colours that Bonnie recommends. My collection looks a little boring to me, but I know that Bonnie's patterns always have a million pieces and it will be anything but boring!

The black fabrics are from my civil war fabric scrapbox, the reds are leftover from Confluence, many of the golds are leftover from Angel Solstice, and the neutrals are just always kicking around here. The greys are all new. I couldn't pick just one grey as recommended, but they all "read" fairly similar in value. 
I'm calling it good to go. 
Two more sleeps!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Maintenance Reminder

My sewing machine feet are getting a real workout this week in finishing my Scrap Squad quilt. These are my tried and true attachments, and have worked so hard over the years, they really should be retired. On the left is the walking foot, the middle is my piecing foot, and on the right is a very old free motion foot. I'm not sure which machine that one originally came with, but it's my favourite one. 
In preparation for the mystery starting this week, I decided to give my machine a bit of a spa treatment, including a thorough cleaning and oiling. And look what I found inside... a piece of thread caught in the bobbin gear. That is never a good thing. It took quite a bit of finessing with the tweezers to get that long thread unwound. 
Maintenance is such an important part of keeping our machines in good running condition. 
The machine is ready for Allietare.
Wait. Where's my fabric?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Design Table Monday

There has been a flurry of activity in my sewing room in order to complete my next Scrap Squad quilt, which will (maybe) be posted on the Quiltmaker blog on Friday. I have been slicing and sewing, and piecing and quilting up a storm in here. There are scraps of fabric everywhere. I wish I had a cleaning fairy to help restore some order. Everything looks organized in this photo, but I'm not showing you what's outside the picture frame!

trying to figure out the partial blocks
I really annoyed myself by following a creative thought, and deciding at the last minute to change the layout. That decision required a big change in the kinds of blocks I needed to make and it also required construction of partial blocks. 
Which meant doing some measurement calculations (not my strong suit). 
And that meant making mistakes. 
Which meant some swearing, followed by recalculations.
Repeat as needed.

It's my own fault, so to whom can I complain when it's totally self inflicted!?! 

No one. 
(Well, I'm kinda complaining to you right now!)

Time for an attitude adjustment!

To see some regular design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching in November

Generally speaking I detest November, when there is less natural light, the beautiful colours of fall are gone, and the cold winter weather descends. In the cycle of life, it's the time for hibernation, when we crawl into our caves, try to keep warm, and sleep until better weather returns. Modern day life does not allow that cycle, and we have to work just as much in November as in any other month of the year. But we can be sure to follow the healthy practice of having one day of rest each week. 
Today's our day to rest and be thankful. 
And stitch.

I was so lucky to have an entire weekend of rest when I attended a quilt retreat with my sister last week. Of course I took my winter hand quilting project, which is hung over the porch railing in this photo. We had such a great view of the lake that it was hard to concentrate on sewing at times. I didn't actually get a lot accomplished on the stitching, but I did achieve my primary goal of rest and relaxation!

It was gorgeous fall weather and you know me... I couldn't wait to stitch outside! As soon as the sun came out, I went out. My sister took this lovely photo of the sun shining right on me. It was cold, but the quilt was perfect to snuggle up under and kept me warm enough to be able to quilt for a while, until my hands got too cold to stitch.

Today I'll be stitching indoors, especially since snow is in the weather forecast. 

What are you hand stitching today? Link up your blog post below. We love to see what you're stitching and cheer you on!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Scrappy Saturday

It was such a busy week I haven't had time for blogging, and even if I did, my internet connection has not been cooperating with me.  But it's randomly back today, so I'll try to post this. 

I've been making some little nine patch blocks and using up some lime green scraps. This is the tin that my Omigosh scraps are stored in. The tin is 6.5" x 9" and contains hundreds of small bits of fabric, some squares, some strips, and some partial and completed 9 patch blocks. I love this tin in a very extreme (somewhat concerning) way! LOL! 

I've sewn up a pile of little blocks today, and here is the first finished double 9 patch block. Lime green blocks are noticeably absent in the block collection so far, so hopefully there will be more made to join this one today.

Here's a picture that gives a better perspective on the block size. It is smaller than the pattern! 
One more done, about 50 more (not all lime green) blocks to go!
Hop over to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge to see what the other quilters are sewing with their lime scraps.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Quilt Retreat

This past weekend I attended a quilt retreat with my sister. It took quite a few years for my sister to be convinced to try quilting, but she is a math oriented person so she likes that aspect of it. It's not a lifestyle for her like it is for me, but she does enjoy it as a hobby. And she convinced me that I needed a weekend getaway with fellow quilters.

This is our amazing ever patient host/co-ordinator/teacher Deb Beirnes helping my sister to figure out the next steps in making her tablerunner. 

One of the projects I worked on was making the blue July shop hop blocks.  I traced out the centre embroidery block with a frixion pen and pieced the churn dash pattern to surround it.
It really was the perfect piece to work on while at retreat - "The love of sewing is our common thread". Of course I had get some vitamin D along with my vitamin Q, so I went outside to enjoy some stitching in the sun!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The blog tour has started!

The newest issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine is here! Volume 12 is now available and day 1 of the blog tour was yesterday. There are lots of fabric prizes and free copies of the magazine to be won. I have won many free copies over the years, and two years ago I even won a copy of the magazine AND a mug!
Get on over there and enter to win some of the great quilty treats!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bowtie Block Swap

On my design wall today are the Civil War print bowtie blocks from Barb's block swap. There is such a wide variety of prints in these blocks that I received from the swap, and none of them are the fabrics I have in my stash. How can that be possible?!?
I like this circular layout because I haven't made one of these yet. You can see some of the other bowtie quilts I have made here.
I plan to make a few more of these blocks to be able to make a lap sized quilt and this will be a project to work on over the winter.
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching

One of my goals in starting the Slow Sunday Stitching linky party three years ago was to develop an online community of like-minded people. It has been a wonderful experience getting to know amazing and creative stitchers around the world who share common interests. 

Thimbles and Thing
The stitchers in this photo are a little more aggressive than the folks I was hoping to connect with, but the captions make me laugh every time I look at it! 
Sunday is my favourite day.
I hop stumble out of bed every Sunday morning, make a pot of tea and enjoy visiting the blogs of my stitching friends to see what they're working on. 

I love being inspired by the variety of projects being made, seeing the tools being used, and learning more about the creative process that occurs when working with your hands. Thank you for participating whenever you can through linking your posts, and through your encouraging comments for the stitchers that share each week.

This weekend I'm making some slow progress with my winter hand quilting project. This is exactly where I was sitting yesterday while putting in some stitches. I love my Ikea lamp with the flexible neck and the concentrated pool of light that is perfect for hand stitching. Today I hope to finish quilting at least one more small star block.

I want to send out a huge thank you to Stephie (a quilting blogger from the United Kingdom) for the wonderful post about my blog. Stephie I am honoured by your words and by your enthusiastic participation in the Slow Sunday Stitching community!

So what's going on this week? What are you hand stitching? Link up your blog post below and share your project and progress...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Scrappy Saturday

Lots of power sewing is going on this weekend, and in between piecing the quilt blocks I am trying to finish, I am making little Alamo Stars as leader/enders. You can see one brown star being slowly made, and two green and blue star pieces clipped together ready to be the next leader/ender block.

These are the first 6 stars finished using greenish batik scraps, and some leftover brown pieces from last month.
To see more scrap projects in the works, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Block Sampler Quilts

Are you a block maker? I am. I prefer the process of making unique individual blocks vs. making 100 of the same block. I love the look of a scrappy sampler quilt and have worked on many over the years.
My first sampler was a hand pieced, hand quilted project made in 1996. You can read more about it here. My teacher was the high school "lunch lady" and she took a great interest in me once she heard I wanted to learn to quilt. She taught me all the "old school" ways of quilt making. I had two preschoolers at home during that time and soooo looked forward to my evenings away to learn the skills of quiltmaking.

I have done many online block sampler projects over the years. One of my favourite finished sampler quilts is Barbara Brackman's Civil War sampler. Click here to read more about my quilt and see the cool backing. The patterns and history lessons are still available and still free! 

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while will remember my 7 year project called Journey of a Quilter. It is 9 hand embroidered blocks and is one of my all time favourite quilts. It holds many memories for me and I admit that I was sad when that journey was over, and the quilt was finished!

I have two sampler quilts waiting for attention and they will be on my 2016 UFO list. The first is called Chocolate Covered Strawberries Saturday Sampler. I made these blocks weekly in 2010. The patterns were chosen from many different sources, but mostly from my collection of 100 blocks magazines. I love these complex blocks and look forward to working with them next year so they can become a finished quilt. 

My other sampler project in waiting is Barbara Brackman's Grandmother's Choice: Votes for Women from 2013. Again the block patterns and history lessons are still available and free! I used reproduction fabrics for these blocks and made many of them by hand. The blocks are sashed and ready for layout and border decisions. This photo shows only a portion of the 49 blocks. I loved the weekly history lessons and learned so much about women's history from Barbara. Click here and here to read my favourite blog posts from making these sampler blocks.

My newest sampler project is from the July Shop Hop in my area. My friend Barbara (remember she doesn't like blue!) collected the patterns and donated them to me. I will be starting to work on them this weekend because I just don't have enough UFO's in progress!

And if you've read all the way to the bottom of this post, I want to tell you about two new sampler ideas. First, the Fat Quarter shop is hosting a Sampler Block Shuffle by Moda. The block patterns are written by famous designers and 2 patterns will be released every Friday. Many of the block patterns appear to be quite simple, so if you are a new block maker this project might appeal to you. 
Also the newest issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine is out and I have a copy in my hot little hands! It should be on the newstands soon and Quilty Pleasures will be having lots of draws for free copies.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. We take a pause from our regular lives to honour the people who have given their lives in protecting our country, and in peacekeeping efforts around the world. Freedom is not free.
In addition to remembering how lucky I am to belong to a loving family, a safe community, and a free country, I am also feeling so thankful today for my quilt guild. 
I was the speaker at the meeting last night and was so emotional I thought I might cry. Here they are, with their positive energy and smiling faces, waiting to see some of my quilts and hear my lecture.  I was overwhelmed with memories of my fellow quilters who have taught, supported, and encouraged me in so many ways over the past 20+ years. Truly my life would not be what it is today without them. I'm even getting choked up as I write this. They have shared with me creative inspiration, encouraged my confidence in who I am as a quilter and as a person, and have given me wonderful opportunities to travel and to teach.  So today I also honour these amazing people who have so loving influenced my life. 
Here's a short clip from Wicked which expresses so well how I feel today. BTW I am represented by Elphaba - the green one!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fabric Shopping

I don't write blog posts about fabric purchases very often because I dislike shopping of any kind. Believe me, this is not an adaptive behaviour for someone who has to live in this century! Even shopping for quilting related products is a challenge for me. I get overwhelmed by the multitude of choice, and I am easily distracted by pretty things ("what did I come in here to buy?") Also I have difficulty thinking an entire quilting project through to the end and buying all the things I need at once. Perhaps if I didn't shop twice a year it would make things easier!

The only time I go to the quilt store is:
a) if I desperately need something and can't proceed without it. Likely I would still try to avoid going and would set that particular project aside - hence the huge UFO closets!
b) there is a shop hop and a fun social time is involved. If there will be less shopping and more socializing, I can manage! Recently I went on two shop hops, so now I won't have to shop for another 6 months!

I bought this stack of wide backings, which means I will be able to finish 5 quilts without piecing a backing. 

I also purchased a variety of pieces for my Life is Beautiful quilt. I finally decided that the blocks will be red and paper bag brown, so it will look something like the sample quilt here. This photo shows some older fabrics that have been washed and used in other projects, and the brand new ones. I have finished almost 20 of the 32 embroidery blocks and am starting to think about putting some blocks together, which I can do now that I have enough fabric.
I can't think of anything else I "need" although the shops sure did have many wonderful new lines of fabric that tempted me. The next shopping experience to be endured is for Christmas, and my goal this year is to not have to go into a mall!

Monday, November 09, 2015

Design Wall Monday

On the design wall today is my version of Pam Buda's Pocket Patchwork called Tucker. Most of the fabrics in this little quilt are scraps from a block sampler quilt that I finished at the beginning of the year.

As you can see, I made a few little alterations to the original design. First, I removed the "too bright" blue square that was on the right of the star in my version of step #2. I just couldn't stop seeing that square in the overall layout, so it had to go!

Then I put the 'scrap love' fusible applique section at the top. The idea just came to my mind when I saw the final layout. When I quilt this little wallhanging, I will stitch around the edges of the shapes to fasten them more securely.

I used up leftover HST's to make most of the flying geese blocks. And I added an extra border of little squares all the way around the whole thing because I had so many bits leftover.
I will try to finish this in time for the quilt parade on Dec. 15th.
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching

Today I am starting to hand quilt my oldest UFO.  This old quilt was pieced in 1996 so it will soon be 20 years old! You can read more about this quilt here. 
It's time to start the quilting.

This quilt holds so many memories for me. I always had in mind to hand quilt this project, but somehow it never got to the top of the project pile. 
Favourite hand quilting batt

I finally bought a package of my favourite hand quilting batting and a new box of pins. It's a queen size quilt, so I needed to get more pins since they will be committed to this project for a long time.

Pin basting

The pin basting was finished this week and it was a tough workout for my hands, with only one episode of bleeding. The hand quilting will be a breeze compared to the pinning process. 

And so the hand quilting journey begins again, although I don't know yet what the quilting design is going to be. Stay tuned :)

What are you hand stitching today? Link up your blog post below so we can see your project and encourage you on your journey.