Tuesday, May 31, 2016

UFO Report

Well May is over, so it's time to declare the status of this month's UFO. It's a finished top - yah! That was a lot of work and I'm very pleased with myself.
This photo shows it before sewing the last vertical seam with 13 places to match 6 triangle blocks. It was really tricky getting this together and many pins were used.
I was hoping to have this quilted by the end of the month too, but didn't get that far. I do have the backing fabric and batting, so I'm ready to move on to the pin basting and quilting.
To see how other quilters fared with meeting their UFO goals this month, hop over to One Monthly Goal.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Design Wall Monday SDT

These are the first 36 blocks for step #5 of Scrap Dance Tango, which is a mystery quilt that started in January.
The block pattern is the same as the one we made in step #2. They would be boring to sew if they weren't made from such pretty scraps.  I need 52 more of them so it's a good thing that I enjoying making them!
The final step will be posted in June and I am almost ready for it!
To see more design wall posts, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching - Muscle Memory

Welcome to Slow Sunday Stitching!
This week I have been thinking about "muscle memory". Wikipedia describes it as "a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition". It refers to those things you can still remember to do, even though you might not have done them for a long time... like riding a bicycle. 
Max is the hand quilting supervisor
My first experience with muscle memory happened when playing the piano again after a long time of not playing. Amazingly I still knew how to play the piano, and could easily play songs from many years ago with little effort. It was like my fingers remembered the songs, even though my conscious brain did not.
Machine quilting teachers talk about "building up muscle memory" by doodling designs on paper prior to sewing them on the machine and I have experienced this before. But this week was my first experience with hand stitching muscle memory.
Rest and renewal
I haven't done much hand quilting lately since I've been smitten by my Life is Beautiful project. But my poor granddog Max had some major surgery this past week and I have been chief doggy nurse. I needed a project to work on while encouraging him to cuddle up and be still so he could recover. And he loves quilts! Do you remember the quilt eating incident?
As soon as I picked up my hand quilting project (which is my oldest UFO) it was like my hands remembered exactly what they were supposed to do and without any conscious effort, just went to work putting in the stitches. That's muscle memory. It was so effortless, easy and relaxing.
Quilts are for cuddling
And Max's muscles remembered what they were supposed to do too, and he cuddled right up to the quilt in progress! 
I hand quilted while he rested. I got a lot done this week until the temperature skyrocketed and became too hot to have the quilt on my lap. Max is feeling quite a bit better and the quilting is put away for the summer.
hand quilting progress chart
This is the chart I made to keep track of my progress. It looks like the block quilting is almost half way finished. Slow and steady!
I hope my hand quilting muscles remember how to stitch when I take this project out again in the fall.
What are you hand stitching today? We would love to see your project and hear about your progress. Link up your blog post below...


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rainbow Challenge and Quilt Auction

It is green month over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, which is a perfect colour to work with in the spring. 
I am cutting and sewing my green Mad City block and there are green scraps spread all over the place. I was hoping it would be finished by today, but it has been too hot to sew this week. I must get the AC unit put in the window to make it bearable to sew in there from now until September. To see more green scrap projects, hop over to the scrappy link up.

As has been my tradition for many years, today I attended the Mennonite Relief Committee's Quilt AuctionIt's their 50th year trying to raise money to help those suffering from poverty, conflict, oppression and natural disasters. I have always appreciated that 100% of the proceeds of this fundraiser go directly to their work. Many people work together to raise the money by making and donating amazing quilts, food, plants and by sponsoring other activities of the day. You can read more about the quilt auction here. I didn't have a quilt in this year's auction since my sewing group didn't get it finished before the submission deadline, but it will be in next year's for sure! 
But here's an auction quilt that I know the rainbow scrap challenge quilters will like. It's called The Crayon Quilt, designed by Emily Herrick of Crazy Old Ladies (pattern can be purchased here). It was made by a group of scrap quilters called "The Caring Connection" and was sold for $500! It would be such a fun Rainbow Scrap project quilt.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Circa 2016

The blocks for the Temecula mystery quilt were tricky this week. I must admit that this block was a challenge even for me, and I really enjoy sewing small pieces.
Each 3" block has 28 pieces to cut, sew, and match up accurately. FUN for me... possibly considered torture for normal quilters!
I can't wait to see what blocks we're sewing this week!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Little Spring Finish

I haven't had many quilt finishes this year since I've been working on lots of complex projects. 
So it's about time to finally share a little finish.

The pattern is from volume 3 of Quiltmaker's 100 blocks magazine and is called "My Easter Dress" by Sonja Callaghan. If you missed the inspiration memory, you can read about that here.
I started paper piecing the block in April, so this one has been finished in a month. That's pretty awesome turnaround time for me! 
I machine quilted stippling in the grass, waves in the dress and a ribbon design on the ribbon. I also added a tiny pink rickrack around the bottom of the dress.

We went for a walk in the forest to get a photo with some trilliums... I know just where to find them. Did you know that when white trilliums age, they turn pink? And that makes the flowers match this little quilt just perfectly!

After the outing I decided that these shoes needed some flower buttons. Such a cute addition if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Batting is one of the expensive but essential parts of quiltmaking. Generally I have purchased rolls of 100% Warm and Natural cotton batting because I like how it machine quilts and how it hangs flat in wallhangings, and I like using all natural products... 100% cotton thread, fabrics, and batting.
I bought an 18 metre roll of Warm and Natural cotton batting in February 2015 and predicted it would last me a year.
It did! 
I was getting to the end of the roll and could maybe get one more quilt out of the remainder when I went on the Goose on the Loose shop hop and found a great deal on a roll of batting. It's an 80/20 batting which means 80% cotton and 20% polyester. I couldn't resist the deal so decided to give it a try. I hope I like it, cause I bought 27 metres of it!
Sometimes I have tried to keep track of how much batting I had used so I would know how much I still had. I would write the amount I cut off the roll on the side of the box. This system wasn't very helpful but seeing the scribbles was a blast from the past and brought back happy memories from finished quilts!
What kind of batting is your favourite?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Design Wall Monday - Log Cabin Lunacy

Julie inspired me to search out an old project this past week. She posted a photo of her gorgeous scrappy log cabin using 1" logs. And that made me think about my project made from 1" logs.
Where was that thing?!?
I adopted my project from someone, let's just call her "Susan", who had already organized and cut most of the pieces for this quilt. Just look at all the little baggies and the orange notes with the sizes. Everything was all set for me to just start sewing!
And so I did!

This project made it's first appearance on my blog in January 2014. I began sewing the blocks on my white featherweight.

In May 2014, the log cabins appeared again on the blog and this time the blocks were getting a little bigger.

By August I was starting to play with layouts on the design wall and still making more blocks... and more blocks. There was not enough of the darker blue fabrics to make all the blocks and my quilty friends Barb and Deanna helped me find some close matches that enabled me to finish them.

By February 2015 the blocks finally became full size log cabins. Tough decisions were made about the layout and the setting triangles, and the blocks were being sewn together in rows on my black featherweight.
And then I don't know what happened! They were MIA for a while. It had something to do with all the work of sewing long rows of blocks together on point, with a lot of pinning and pressing. The project slowly sunk to the bottom of the "to-do" pile. But thankfully, the organization of the project creator ("Susan") had inspired the project manager (me!) to be more organized, so when I went in search of it last week, everything was ready to finish up.  

And here is the quilt top on the design wall with 124 blocks set on point. I have some great ideas on how I'd like to quilt it now that I've been inspired by it all weekend. The size is 59" x 84" and I've decided to call it Log Cabin Lunacy, inspired by Julie's link up... to visit click here.
To see more design wall posts hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly link up party celebrating the benefits and enjoyment of hand stitching!
This week I have been preparing some Life Is Beautiful blocks to applique and wanted to show you my favourite tools. First of all, I dislike making templates, so I look around the house for something that is the right size to trace. For this project I am using the lid of a Christmas candle to make my sewing line because it's the perfect size.

I love the Bohin mechanical chalk pencil to draw my stitching lines. The chalk makes a fine line that is easy to see, stays on long enough to follow the lines to sew, and then the marks come off with an eraser or will wash off. The refill leads come in different colours, but I have only ever used the white.

Here's my next block ready to applique. I have clipped the seam allowances all the way around the circle and am using my teeny tiny applique pins that never catch the thread. I have a few blocks ready to applique today.
What are you hand stitching today? I hope you can take some time to tell us about your project and link up your blog post below.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Scrappy Saturday

It's the green month over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, so I have been organizing my green scraps, and I also finished up a couple of orange blocks that I had cut out last month. Here are my newest 6" Maverick Star blocks.

And here is the whole block collection on the design wall.
I'm really liking the combination of light stars on dark backgrounds, and dark stars on light backgrounds. The more stars I add to the collection, the more I like them!
To see more RSC projects, hop over to the link up at SoScrappy.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Circa 2016

It's time to show you the next Circa 2016 blocks. This past week we sewed tiny rail fence blocks. I made one with the dark rails in the centre and one with the light rails in the centre. I don't like either one, since they look too much like swastikas to me. I know it is a sacred symbol in some religions, but for me it has a negative connotation so these blocks might not make it into the final quilt.

Here is the pile of my Circa blocks waiting for more blocks to be sewn and added to the pile. I wonder what we are sewing this week! I'm hopping over to Temecula Quilt Company to see.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Last Scrap Squad Quilt

Two blog posts in one day?!?
My last Scrap Squad quilt has been posted today on the Quiltmaker blog so I had to tell you all about it! It's quite a bit different than my usual style of quilt, but I'm happy with how it turned out.
Which way to go?

I made this quilt for two purposes: 
1) it's my last Scrap Squad project using a pattern that I chose ("Which way to go?" by Nancy Allen) 
2) it was my entry for my local quilt guild's challenge called "25 shades of grey". I don't like grey, especially in the middle of a cold Canadian winter! But I persevered with the grey fabrics and because of the dramatic red background, it was manageable!

This is the arrow block as it looks on the edge of the quilt. The arrows on the inside of the quilt couldn't be sewn until I knew the exact placement of all the fabrics in the quilt top.

I thought it might be interesting to show the progression as I worked with the pieces on the design wall. 
Rail blocks sewn and placed on the wall 
The darkest and lightest fabrics had to be balanced first, and then I filled in with the mid range grey fabrics
Sewing the quarter square triangle blocks
Once I was happy with the layout, the blocks were sewn together in rows

Once the quilt top was sewn together, it was time for the basting and quilting. These are the Aurifil threads I used for the machine quilting. I used the free motion foot on my sewing machine, quilted with grey in the arrows, and wavy lines with red thread over the seam lines.
The quilt finished at 47.5" x 59".

It has been such an honour and a pleasure to be on the Scrap Squad for Quiltmaker magazine. I made 6 challenging quilts while being on the squad and am delighted that they are all so different. 

If I was independently wealthy, I would fly all the scrap squad members and their quilts to meet somewhere in the world so we could see all these wonderful quilts and quilters in real life. Until then, we will have to enjoy our connection through the internet. A huge thank you to Diane Harris for organizing us, and to my fellow scrap squad members Pam, Emily, Donna, Julie and Keri for all the fun throughout our scrappy adventures together.

Log Cabin Lunacy

Did you see Julie's post about log cabins? If not, click here to read it. She made a gorgeous scrap quilt with logs that finish at 1/2"!  I said to myself..."that Julie is so crazy", and then I remembered that I have done exactly the same thing!
AND not only that, it's a project I willingly adopted from "someone", who had already precut most of the pieces and then didn't want to sew it! 
Now who is the crazy one?!?!

This is the back of my log cabin quilt. That's a lot of hours of sewing and pressing right there.
Julie is going to have a "Log Cabin Lunacy" link up on the next full moon, which is May 21st, so I have decided to try to get my log cabin quilt top together by then.  I still really love it, and this is just the motivation I needed to get this top together. It's all organized and I just need to do a few more seams to get it done.
Want to join in the "Log Cabin Lunacy"? If you've been quilting for a while, I'm sure you have a log cabin project hanging around your UFO closet somewhere, and maybe even more than one!?!? Join us...the more, the merrier! 
**ooohhh did you see Crazy Mom Quilt's new scrappy log cabin project...YUM! Wish my scraps looked like that!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Aurifil BOM

Are you sewing along with the Aurifil BOM this year? Each month they post a free block pattern from a different pattern designer. 
This month's designer is Amy Friend and this is my red and white version of her "cups and saucers" block pattern. It was very easy to sew and I really how my fussy cut centre square looks!

Here are my first 4 blocks on the design wall. I am still missing block #3 and hope to get that one done soon. But the collection so far looks like it will become a very interesting sampler quilt.
To see more sampler block variations, hop over to Pat Sloan's blog. I'm also linking up to Sew Fresh Quilts... go check out Lorna's adorable raccoons!

Monday, May 16, 2016

UFO on the design wall

Cube section removed

I have made slow and steady progress on this month's UFO. Truly, it has been very difficult, testing my patience and commitment to the goal. My seam ripper has been used more than the iron so far this week! This is the cube section that I removed last week
I wanted to sew it back into the quilt top, lightest side up.

Cube section reconnected at the top and bottom with a twist

After unstitching the cube section from the main quilt, I reinserted it incorrectly! AGAIN! 
This time I somehow created an origami kind of structure that did not in any way resemble a flat quilt! How is that even possible?!?
It doesn't matter how ...
I had to take the stitches out again.
Cube block back in place
The seams are not well matched, but many of them have been sewn 3 times and are starting to unravel (just like me!), so I've decided to just be okay with however it is now. Sometimes even when you try your best, you cannot make things/life/quilts be the way you prefer them to be.
So there it is.
I was tempted many times to toss this thing back into the UFO closet and work on something less stressful. But I reminded myself that this is exactly why this project was in the closet in the first place, and I can't keep doing that!

There was enough of the white to make a single row of triangles on both sides of the quilt. It looks like the size of the quilt will be around 53" x 62" which is the perfect size for a couch quilt. 
There is only one more seam to sew to join the two parts of the quilt together, and this will finally be a quilt top!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

I sure missed visiting all my slow stitching friends last week.
It's amazing how much I have enjoyed this weekly ritual of drinking tea and seeing what you're stitching. But last week, for no apparent reason, the link up wouldn't work. I have spent countless hours this week trying to figure out how to fix whatever the problem is. I haven't made one bit of progress in determining what the problem is, so I am trying out a new company called InLinkz and will see if I can get that to work for us today.

Here is my most recently completed Life is Beautiful block. Surprisingly... it's not my favourite :)
But it's done and I'm looking forward to starting the embroidery on the next one today.
What are you hand stitching today? I'm hopeful that the new system will work for us, so please let me know if you have any difficulty with this experimental link up.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Scrappy Saturday

Because I attended two quilt classes this week, and because I was out every single night of the week, I don't have much scrappy sewing to show today... because I didn't have much time to actually sit at the sewing machine.
I was able to finish six green leader/ender Alamo Star blocks to add to the collection. Some of them are very scrappy and use up tiny bits of fabric.

I also have one Maverick Star block that is cut out and is waiting to be completed.
So a little bit has been accomplished, and every bit helps to move a project along.

To see what other green projects are being made today, hop over to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.