Monday, February 29, 2016

Swoon on the design wall

Blocks 1 to 4 of my Swoon Quilt-As-You-Go project are on the design wall.  I pieced all the blocks in 2012, but didn't start machine quilting them until this year. Last week I finished quilting the 4th block.

Here is s close up of block #4. These prints are so busy you can't see any of the quilting design.
The fabrics in the corner were fussy cut (as you might have guessed) and I like the interest it gives this block. A fat quarter was not enough fabric to cut all the background pieces for a 24" block, so all of my blocks (except ones made from yardage) have two different background fabrics. I was annoyed about this when I was piecing the blocks, but now I really like the effect of having a scrappier looking background.
The quilting is wobbly in some many places. I am posting this close up of what I mean so that you will not be critical of your own efforts. Unless your quilt is going to be entered in a juried show, perfection is not required. Just try your best, have fun and embrace the wobbles!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching - Life is Beautiful

I have been working on my Life is Beautiful project for exactly a year now and it was time to evaluate how things are progressing and what might need to change (if anything).
I have been collecting the fabrics for this quilt over the past year, always carrying the fabric swatches with me just in case I found myself in a fabric store. I am using the same colours as the quilt in the pattern. I decided I had accumulated enough fabric to start making some blocks.

So I cut up some of the fabric for a test block to applique an embroidery block onto. I deliberately chose the block with the saying "Success is not to succeed, but to try". 
I trimmed the block with the 1/4" seam allowance, clipped into that allowance all around the circle, and folded over the edge with my fingers as I was taught by Becky Goldsmith. It's amazing how much that crease helps to get a smoother edge when appliqueing.

It was fun! I just need to find my small applique pins so the thread doesn't get tangled up on the pins as I stitch.

And here is the first finished block! The next step is to cut away the extra fabric behind the embroidery circle, and that scrap will then be appliqued onto another four patch block. That's what I will be doing today, with renewed enthusiasm as I see how much I really like the look of the block.
What are you hand stitching today? Link up your blog post below and share your project with us.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Scrappy Saturday Spools

Since returning from quilt camp, I am continuing to work on piecing together my scrappy rainbow spools. However, my design wall is not big enough to hold all these blocks and rows, so only part of the quilt can be on the design wall at one time. This is how it looked while I worked on the top edge. It's such a pretty photo... the rows look like ribbons of colour hanging down, don't you think?!? 
Maybe I should just leave it like this?!? LOL

I had enough extra coloured spools pieced to fill in the setting blocks across the top. But I did not have any extra grey/black spools made to fill in the right side of the quilt so I have to make more spools

I also do not have my friend Barb here today to organize me like she did when I was at quilt camp! So this is how it's looking at the moment. 
Two edges of the layout are done (left and top, and currently sitting on the kitchen floor), and I have two more edges to figure out (right and bottom). Today I will work on the right side, and eventually will tackle the bottom edge of the quilt.
Then I will finally join all these rows together, matching the bazillion seam joins. As always, I did not anticipate the amount of time and effort this layout is requiring. Hopefully I will find that it is all worth it in the end :) 

While sewing the setting blocks, I have made a few more brown leader/ender Alamo Stars.

To see how the other Rainbow Scrap Challengers are coming along with their projects, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Circa 2016

It was an easy step last week for the Circa 2016 mystery quilt makers. 
One block. 

I haven't mentioned recently how much I like this BlocLoc ruler. It was fairly expensive to purchase, but I use it quite often for trimming HST's, so it was well worth the money. It's easy to use and very accurate. I have no affiliation to the company and do not receive any benefit for promoting the ruler... just wanted you to know about a product that I like and use all the time. 
Now I am hopping over to Temecula to see the next step.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Swoon #3

My Quilt-As-You-Go Swoon project continues to make progress.  One of the steps I enjoy is choosing the right threads for each block. I pick a few spools of thread that might work and lay the threads on the fabric to pick the one I like the best.

This is a photo of quilting the corner blocks. On the left you can see one of the places where the batting is joined together with the batting seam tape.

Here is block #3 finished!
It's amazing how each block looks so different. You can see block #2 here and block #1 here.

The quilting is now 1/3 finished - 3 blocks quilted, 6 to go!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fabric Bowl Gift

At quilt camp we are assigned a "secret sister" to make a gift for. I made a red fabric bowl to decorate my secret sister's red and white sewing room. These are the photos I took along the way to show how it's done.
Sewing the base rounds

Making the turn to start building the sides

Building the bowl around the sewing machine

Finished bowl with little side handles
I have made many fabric bowls for gifts in the past (read more about it here and here), but this is the first bowl I've made with little handles. I'm not sure how well they will hold up over time, but they sure are cute.
A big thank you to my friend Maria who taught me how to make these bowls. And a shout out to my wonderful secret sister Susan who has been such an inspiration in my life for many years. I was happy to be able to make a special gift for her and fill it with some treats.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Design Wall Monday

On my design wall today are the blocks for Scrap Dance Tango. I was interested in the mystery project but did not relish the idea of making 300 or 400 HST blocks. 
However when I was at quilt camp my friend Gillian gifted me with about 250 scrappy HST blocks leftover from a quilt she had made. They weren't exactly the right size blocks, but I knew I would use them anyway to start my own version of Scrap Dance Tango.

I set aside all the projects I had taken to quilt camp and got right to work pressing, counting and sewing these blocks. 

88 little jewels in the snow
There weren't enough to make the twin size version so I went through my friends' scrap bags and made a few more HSTs, and cut all the squares to sew the blocks for step #2. The gifted blocks were mostly red and green, so I added in black, blue, and gold fabrics to make it look a little less like a Christmas quilt.

A flock of blocks!

Quilting and photography are my two favourite hobbies. It was such fun to look for places to take interesting photos of quilt blocks. I won't bore you with all the shots of the finished 88 blocks, but this photo might be my favourite!

To see some link ups of Scrap Dance Tango, click here, scroll down and click beside the frog.  And to see more Design Wall Monday posts, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

Life is Beautiful block #21
I have just returned from Quilt Camp 2016. It was a wonderful week of laughing, sewing and visiting with long time friends. When I got home, I enjoyed some peaceful, quiet slow stitching time with my Life Is Beautiful hand embroidery project. It was the perfect day to finish the stitching on this lovely block. I'm sure it's my favourite one so far!
I really like (and try to live) the saying. I say to myself: If this was my last day on the planet, would I be proud of the decisions I made, of how I treated the people in my life, , and of how I used my resources, including the most precious resource of all - time?

How are you spending your time today? 
I hope you will make a space in your schedule to slow down and spend some quiet reflective moments with a needle and thread in your hand. And then make a cup of tea and join us at the Slow Sunday Stitching linky party.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Scrappy Saturday Spools

I have finally started putting together my spool quilt. The spool block was Bonnie Hunter's leader/ender challenge in 2012 (click here for the pattern) and I finally started making them in 2013. They became my primary leader/ender rainbow challenge project for a while and made
I worked on an on point layout last year, but then put it back in the closet. I had to decide if this was the layout I liked best, then figure out the setting triangles. 

I took the spool collection to quilt camp this year and with the assistance and encouragement of my friend Barb, I made some progress. She helped me figure out the setting blocks on the edge. I needed to make many more brown spools. 

We picked out some brown fabrics from the scrap box, figured out where they would fit best, and then Barb labelled everything for me. Her system worked out perfectly!

This is how the edge will look. I'm very happy with all these decisions and looking forward to making more progress on getting these blocks into a quilt top.
To see more Rainbow Challenge projects, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Circa 2016

Last Friday the centre medallion layout was posted for Circa 2016. I had all the blocks made, so I just had to figure out a setting fabric. Grey was recommended, but I am tired of grey right now, so I decided to use a neutral background kind of fabric. 

But when all those striped fabrics were in there, it was a little much. My friend Sue loaned me a civil war repro print that worked perfectly in the centre 9 squares. 
Are you wondering what the next step will be in this fun mystery quilt? Me too! I'm hopping over to Temecula to check it out!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Happy DWD

It's Drink Wine Day today!
I'll be doing some of that using my new glass that I is covered in happy faces and shiny beads and says "you can never have too much HAPPY"! This glass makes me feel happier, no matter what it's filled with! 

It was a near disaster this week when I went to do some machine quilting and the light on my sewing machine was dead. Luckily I was able to pick up a replacement bulb and hardly missed any sewing time.

You sure can tell which of these bulbs is the new one and which is burnt out!
Back to the machine to work on another Swoon block.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Swoon #2

The second Swoon block is quilted. You can see the first block I quilted last week here. I tried to quilt this second one using a similar design. I lost my bearings once or twice, but I don't worry about that. I just get back on track as soon as possible :)
Machine quilting is only enjoyable when the machine and the supplies and the operator work well together. A big part of the learning curve for me was finding the threads that my machine liked the best. 
50 wt. Aurifil threads run through my Brother domestic sewing machine like butter. And believe me I have tried every thread out there. Although there was a bit of tension adjustment to make at the beginning of quilting this block, there was not one single thread break! And I was quilting at high speed most of the time. 
Then I started the prep work for block #3. I am using up small batting scraps for this quilt-as-you-go project and joining them together using the Heat Press tape (review here). The iron must have been on too high a setting, and I melted it. That's the first time that's happened! I will be more careful with my iron as I continue to join together these batting scraps.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

BOM Decisions

How to make a decision!
Life is a just series of decisions of which quilt to start next. Well, maybe that's only how it is for quilters? The world is full of so many choices now, and there are endless options for how to spend your leisure time. The decision making process can be overwhelming, but when it's done in a thoughtful and deliberate way, it does help to crystallize who you are and what you enjoy.
I found a great list of free 2016 BOM's over at Seams to be sewThere are themes to appeal to everyone including hand embroidery blocks with the Outlander theme, a paper pieced quilt with a travel theme, an Old MacDonald mystery quilt, an 1857 applique reproduction quilt, Lorna's ugly Christmas sweater  quiltalong, and the one that I am resisting starting ... Scrap Dance Tango.

I enjoyed looking at all these options and considering this question: "If I was only going to start one new quilt this year, which of these would I pick?" This question really helped me to identify what my preferences are in quilting designs at this point in my quilting life.
Ironically, I realized that so far this year I have already started 5 new quilts - Circa 2016, Westering Women, Aurifil BOM, Scrap Dance Tango and the Quiltbug Superbowl mystery.
Oh dear! I am a very bad influence!
Another project that I really love is the Fat Quarter Shop's Crossroads Quilt Along. Their concept is unique - they post the block patterns for free and ask for a donation (if you are able) to the March of Dimes charity. This charity is near and dear to my heart, with their mission of "a fighting chance for every baby". Fat Quarter Shop will match donations up to a total of $10,000. And their finished sampler quilt will be auctioned with proceeds going to the same cause. Love that! 
And then there is the Splendid Sampler which just started this week. This BOM features well known quilt designers, giving us two free 6" block patterns a week, for a total of 100 quilt blocks! The fun and choices never end!! I think this might be my 6th start of 2016!
What BOM's are you joining this year??

Monday, February 15, 2016

Design Wall Monday

The layout decision for the Quiltbug mystery Peekaboo has been made and the blocks are sewn together. I always enjoy sewing a quilt that has a variety of possible layouts. And this was a fun mystery to sew with well written instructions.
Now I am calculating how much fabric is leftover to maybe add a border or two.
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

It's the middle of the winter here, and as I write this blog entry the temperature outside is a very frosty minus 23. MINUS 23! 
This is the time of year when I love hand quilting the most. A big quilt is the perfect project to keep warm under while enjoying some hand stitching. 
And of course the best place to hand quilt is in the bright sun. When the sun comes out, I put my chair right where the sun beams are and soak up some vitamin D and Q! 

Ahhh... take a deep breath, pick up a needle and thread, and renew your love affair with hand stitching! Of course chocolate will probably be consumed in between stitches because it's Valentine's Day! 

Are you stitching a heart project today? Link up your blog post below and share what you are hand stitching. Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Scrappy Saturday

It's the second week of using up brown scraps over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I have been making more leader-ender Alamo Star blocks. Every time I sew a set of these blocks, I feel like they could make a wonderful mini quilt all by themselves! If I sewed these 9 blocks together, the quilt would measure 6.75" square having 153 pieces.
Now that's a mini miniature!
It's time to go visit SoScrappy and see what brown blocks are being sewn today.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Circa 2016

It's Friday!  Time for another Circa 2016 installation!
Here are my 28 hourglass blocks from last week's step. They aren't as scrappy as I would like because I used the traditional method of making QSTs (start with squares, draw a diagonal line and sew both sides of the line, etc.) which makes two identical blocks.
Total Circa blocks made = 44
Hop over to Temecula and see what we're sewing this week!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

First Finished Swoon

Here is my first Swoon block finished already!  It was really fun to quilt since the block is only 24", so there is no pushing and pulling it through the harp of the sewing machine. 

And here is a photo that shows the quilting design a bit better. I love how the design turned out in the centre block. I wish all the curves were smooth lines, but hey, it's made by a human so it's never going to be perfect!
One block down, eight to go!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hosting a sewing event

If you like sewing with your friends, why not host your own sewing events? It is sew much fun you will wonder why you don't do it all the time. Well, except when you have to work the next day, and you are exhausted from your laughing and sewing marathon. 

Here are the steps to hosting your own sewing party...

Step #1 - decide on a theme and/or date
For the past few years I have hosted a mystery sewing day in the winter, either on New Years, or Super Bowl Sunday. Fellow blogger Andee hosts a Quiltville mystery kickoff party that I would love to attend, except that she lives over 2,000 miles away!

Another idea is to host a monthly event. I used to host a Friday Night Sew In, but have been so busy that it has fallen off the schedule. That must be remedied immediately!

Step #2 - Decide on a guest list
I have room for 4 - 6 sewers and one presser in my space. Sometimes we can't force entice someone to be our presser and we have to do our own, but quilting is always faster when someone else does your pressing for you. It's also important to invite friends who will enjoy the type of sewing you would like to do. I love to sew mystery quilts, but not everyone enjoys that. If you want to host a mystery quilt event, you have to invite people who like adventure, who don't get stressed about figuring out quilt designs, who are handy with a seam ripper, and who are willing to risk making a quilt they don't love (sometimes even "ugly") while they have a fun day of sewing.

Step #3 - Prepare
The next hurdle is that you have to clean your sewing room! Once you've thrown everything into the spare room organized your projects, vacuumed, dusted, and cleaned up your space, you are ready for a nap your sewing party.

Step #4 - Purchase necessities
These are the minimum requirements: lots of water for hydration, buckets of chocolate and assorted snacks for energy, and each quilter needs a tin of "calm down" mints.

You can make your event as complicated or as simple as you desire. The important thing is that you spend time with people in your quilting tribe, and you make wonderful memories to enjoy long after the event is over.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Back to Swoon

Have you made a Swoon quilt by Camille Roskelly?!? It has been a very popular pattern for years and I started my Swoon project back in 2012 using black and white, grey, and gold fabrics. I really enjoyed sewing the blocks and then they sat for a while until they were ready to become a quilt.  I have no idea why this quilt bubbled to the top of the UFO list this week, but it is finally coming together in my mind, so I decided to start the machine quilting. The blocks will be individually quilted and then I will join them using the "Quilt-As-You-Go" technique (good photos of the technique here).

I treated myself to a brand new pair of Machingers, which I really like to use when machine quilting.
The batting was joined together from some scrap pieces using fusible batting tape.

The design will be free motion curved lines. It is a great brain stimulating activity to plan out how to quilt as much of the block as possible without stopping/starting.