Sunday, April 30, 2017

Totally in Love!

The Scrap Vortex quilt is FINISHED!  
The photos aren't great because it was late in the day and I had to fiddle with the camera's exposure settings, it was 5 degrees outside, and it was windy. But it's done!
Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways...

1) First of all, I love that it is a finished, useable quilt (instead of a UFO sitting in a closet). I am proud of my efforts to move it constantly forward to completion.

2) I love the asterisk corners and think that creative spark is growing into another whole quilt idea.

3) I love the metaphor that scrap quilts are. All those tiny bits of fabric have joined with their friends to become something amazing! That is the power of a group, and the beauty of a mosaic, with the strengths of each part contributing to the beauty of the whole.

4) I love that the quilt began with a quiltalong at Crazy Mom Quilts, and the quilting design also came from Crazy Mom Quilts! The spiral quilting is perfect for the vortex theme, and I am relieved at how flat this quilt is in spite of all those tiny pieces, bias edges, and intense quilting... there were a lot of variables to manage in this project. This is the back of the quilt, made from two pieces of yardage joined for a simple backing with two seams.

I like this terrible photo because it shows the wind and camera exposure elements I battled to get a good photo. At least I was able to get some shots before the rain started.
Ahh the trials of a quilt blogger.... LOL!

I am so excited to be able to post my finish over at the One Monthly Goal link up! Woo hoo!

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to Slow Sunday Stitching where we celebrate the art of creating things with our hands, where we connect to our ancestors by using time-honoured techniques to make things we could easily buy for a fraction of the cost, and where we recognize the value we add to our lives by engaging in this restorative practice. 

This week I finished the machine quilting of my Scrap Vortex quilt, and today I am hand stitching the binding. Isn't that a great piece of leaf fabric in the quilt backing?!?

How long do you think it will take me to stitch the 272" of binding? 
Is it possible to do this much binding in one day?  I could've easily finished it by machine, but I really enjoy hand stitching a binding and didn't want to miss out on one of my favourite parts of quiltmaking, just to meet my artificial goal of finishing this quilt in April. I stitched around one corner yesterday and have everything ready for today, including some arthritis cream for when my hands start to ache. Check back later tonight to see how I made out. If I finish, I will post a photo. If I don't finish, well... let's just be positive and hopeful!
What are you hand stitching today? Link up to your blog post below and tell us all about your project...


    An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, April 28, 2017

Spiral Quilting

Progress is being made on machine quilting my UFO, but it's not done yet.
Here is a photo of one of the corners of the quilt and you can see the circular quilting lines out to the edge. So far it's laying fairly flat on the edges, which was my biggest concern with this quilting design. If everything isn't completely flat and well basted, you can end up with a teepee in the middle of the quilt and ruffles on the edges!
Also I have decided that it needs a dark scrappy binding, so I sorted through my basket of leftover binding ends and pulled out pieces to use. It will take extra time to construct a binding from so many smaller pieces, but it's perfect for this project. I hope it will be my Slow Sunday Stitching project to hand stitch the binding ... so exciting that the quilt is this close to finishing!!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Grand Illusion Resurfaces

This quilt was a Quiltville mystery that started in November 2014. Although I enjoyed piecing it, and really liked the fabrics I had originally picked, it never really grew on me like most quilts do. I did make two changes that helped me to like the quilt more (removed the green and changed the border) but still it didn't make my heart sing. 
So I decided that it would be a comfort quilt to donate to my quilt guild. Once that was decided, the quilt project fell deep into the UFO closet!
This Saturday my quilt guild is having a Bee Day, so this is the quilt I'm going to spend the day working on. I am collecting the leftover blocks and yardage to be organized and gathering all the supplies I will need to move this quilt forward toward a finish.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

No Scrap Left Behind!

I am celebrating with Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts as she kicks off a blog hop for her new book "No Scrap Left Behind". Amanda Jean is such a generous person and has freely shared so many wonderful tips, creative ideas and quiltalongs over the years. So when she publishes another book, I want to support her! As soon as I heard about the book I pre-ordered it and have enjoyed reading her new ideas and seeing her fabulous scrappy quilts. Click here to see the blogs on the celebration tour and enter the daily draws for free copies of the book.
With one week left to the finish line, my April UFO (which started with a Crazy Mom Quilts quiltalong!) has been pin basted. 
Only quilters can appreciate how much time it actually takes to go from a quilt top to being ready for quilting. The thread has to be chosen for the top and the bobbin, and the quilting design has to be figured out. The backing fabric has to be chosen, measured (and pieced sometimes) and pressed, the batting has to be cut and fluffed up in the dryer, and the quilt top has to be pressed. Then the layers have to be smoothed out, one on top of the other, and finally the pin basting can begin.
This quilt insisted that the quilting design had to be the spiral pattern, which is also something I learned from Crazy Mom Quilter Amanda Jean Nyberg from her tutorial here. I have quilted this design once before and remembered that the beginning of the spiral is a little tricky using the free motion foot, but when you change to the walking foot, it's a little easier. 

However, you are shoving half of the quilt continuously through the harp of your sewing machine, around and around, trying to keep the curves smooth. Shoving the quilt through the machine and repositioning it constantly means that your shoulders and hands will be aching, but it's the price you pay for leaving it to the last week and trying to finish it before the end of the month! LOL
Once you get to this stage of the quilting, when you are farther away from the centre of the spiral and moving to the outside of the quilt, it gets way more fun! There is less fabric to shove through and the curves are more gentle and easier to manage. I am lucky to have two large tables to spread the quilt out on when I am machine quilting and it holds the weight of the quilt (except the part that is on my lap, which in this photo is the top half of the quilt that is hanging over the front of the table).
An important spiral quilting tip - always make the spiral go clockwise, or the bulk of the quilt will accumulate to the right of the needle in the harp of the machine, instead of to the left of the needle and you will not be happy!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Design Wall Monday - Finished Quilt Top

The Scrap Vortex is finally a quilt top!

I started this quilt in June 2015 and it has used up a ton of scraps. The piano key borders took a long time to prepare and attach, but I'm soooo happy with how it all turned out. It is rich with scrappy fabric memories and completely frenetic - just like my life! 
The quilt top measures 59" x 77".
I have a week left in April to get this quilt pin basted, quilted and bound. I feel like I'm on the amazing quilt race TV show...will she reach the finish line in time?!?!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times. To see some amazing improv quilts, hop over to the AHIQ link up.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly celebration of the art of slowly stitching by hand! We encourage you to slow down, breathe deeply, take a few stitches, and enjoy seeing the slowly created projects of hand stitching gurus from around the world.

I had a terrible flare of "gettingthingsdoneitis" this month, with many deadlines and not enough time. So now I have to recuperate, slow down and get myself calmed down. A few more embroidery stitches will be put into this Life Is Beautiful block. In fact my plan is to deliberately move SLOWLY like a sloth for the entire day. 
It used to be that the animal symbols of being slow were the turtle and the snail. But more recently the sloth has become the representative of slowness. Have you seen the Zootopia movie? Here's my favourite scene of sloths at the DMV:

It's Sunday, so slow down and stitch like a sloth!
And then link up your blog post below and share your slow stitching project with us.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Scrappy Saturday

The colour of the month at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is "multicolour". That has been quite a challenge for me for my RSC projects, so I practiced with some cookies first! 
These are some of the easter cookies my daughter and I made last weekend. It was great fun to decorate each one differently. My favourites were the ones with all the icing colours. The colourful cookies created quite the family conflict, since she didn't want anyone to actually EAT these treats. Apparently she thought we should just admire the creations for a few weeks! They're long gone now!

I did finally make a sort of multicoloured block for my Circle of Squares project. My scrap collection doesn't seem to have much in the way of multicoloured fabrics, and this is the best I could do!

Here are the 9 blocks on the design wall.

To see more Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects, hop over to the weekly link up.

Friday, April 21, 2017

UFO update

April is more than half over and I am not exactly on track with my UFO goals, but am making progress in the right direction. I was hoping to have the quilt top finished by now and ready for pin basting, in order to be able to finish the quilt by the end of the month. That goal doesn't feel impossible at the moment, but we'll see what progress the next week brings.

There were 3 tasks to do:
1) The areas of the quilt top that needed to be improved (so I could like the quilt more) are now fixed. That task involved tedious unsewing and resewing, but I'm happy with the changes.

2) The scrappy piano key border strips are almost finished.

3) I made 4 scrappy asterisk blocks and they will be perfect for the cornerstone blocks at the ends of the border strips.

Now I just need some time to connect all these parts together into a quilt top!

PS... hop over the Cynthia's blog to see her fabulous colourwash scrap vortex quilt. She pieced it as a leader-ender project... just wow!
PPS... hop over to the Oh Scrap! link up for more scrappiness and thoughts about backings.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Blockheads Update

Block #6 was posted last week and is a sunflower
It's one of my favourite blocks so far because it has a pieced base that was interesting, but not too complicated or stressful to sew, plus a tiny bit of easy applique. 

I made the circle using Karen Kay Buckley's "Perfect Circles" and it turned out okay....
not at all perfect, but it's done! 

Here are my first 5 blocks on the design wall. I have cut out the pieces for block #4 and that will be my Slow Sunday Stitching project for this weekend.
Hop over to Moda to see what we are sewing for block #7 - click here.  
Also, if you are a member of Facebook, and want to see more block collections, there is a group page where quilters are posting photos of their blocks - Blockheads Facebook.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Design Wall Monday

Scrappy piano key strips are on the design wall today. These are going to be borders for the scrap vortex quilt. I am piecing the scraps on wax paper to see if I like this technique. It's keeping the strip sets perfectly even and so far, I'm really liking it. A few more sections are needed to add to the quilt top, but right now it's the perfect mindless piecing job!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to Slow Sunday Stitching where we celebrate the art of creating with SLOW hand stitches. Today is Easter Sunday, so I am wishing a Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates this.
I'm moving more slowly than usual after a couple of weeks of living at breakneck speed everyday. Today I am not doing anything I don't want to do. I am not doing paperwork, or housekeeping, or yard work, or errands. I am just going to BE. That's my goal today. 
Just BE. 
"This is where you left off stitching... right here"!

I was inspired to reflect on this after reading a Huffington Post article by Jodi Gibson called "Have We Forgotten How to Be"? She definitely described me. She wrote: "We feel every moment should be productive in one way or another".
When I was speaking at the Haldimand guild this past week I was talking about how I organize myself to work on many projects at the same time and I actually said: "I never waste time". It's true. I rarely just sit and relax, and BE. If I have "down" time, it is filled with activity of some sort. That's not always a good thing.
My Granddog Max is the best inspiration for doing "nothing". This is the stare down he gives you when you try to do anything else but pay total attention to him. He will insist that you stop whatever you are doing to cuddle him. 
Today I will take a few moments to just BE. To sit still and not DO anything. It will be a challenge for me, which is sad, and is even more reason why I need to do it. 

What are you doing today? Will you spend a few moments to just BE? What are you hand stitching today, in between moments of BEING? Link up your blog post below and tell us about your hand stitching project.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, April 14, 2017

Letter Making

Today I am working on some improv letters to add to my bear quilt. This project started with Lorna's quiltalong over at Sew Fresh Quilts
It will become a camping quilt to commemorate the year I saw a bear up close and personal. That experience has become a family legend, complete with a song written by my brother-in-law, and therefore this legend requires a commemorative quilt. I'd like to have it done in time to use for camping season this year.

There are many ways to sew letter blocks to add to a quilt, or to be the main focus of the quilt. I have tried many techniques over the years and have enjoyed all of them. 
Here are some of the many resources that I have consulted:

1. Letter Sew-along hosted by Lynne Tyler. She teaches how to make make letters using improv piecing. If you need inspiration, she has many creative letter quilts on her blog Patchery Menagerie. My finished quilt from the sew-along that I finished in 2013 can be seen here.

traditional patchwork letters
2) Temecula Quilts hosted a quiltalong called "Little Letters" and it made an adorable baby quilt. The free pattern is still on their blog here and is made using traditional patchwork techniques.

3) Patch and Dot is hosting a new quiltalong making ribbon letters using traditional patchwork. You can read her ideas and see the first 3 letters here.

4) My two favourite reference books for improv pieced letter blocks are Word Play Quilts and Out of the Box.
improv letters

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


Block #6 is going to be posted today for those of you who are having a blast with the Blockheads. I have finished 4 of the 5 blocks so far. The 4th block was applique and I haven't printed off the template yet to work on that one.
But block #5 was a real challenge. 
And I like quilting challenges. 
I also really like small pieces, but wowzer this was hard!
I am embarrassed to admit how long this block took to make, and how many times the seam ripper was used. Part of the challenge was that I wanted all the background pieces to be going in the same direction. What was I thinking?!?!

Oh well, it's done now, the points aren't too terrible, and the size is almost right, so I'm calling it "close enough". For the math lovers, there are 58 pieces in this 6" block called "Coronation Star".
Here are my first four blocks on the design wall.
Let's see what block #6 will be... click here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Adventures of a Directionally Challenged Quilter

Last night I was the speaker for the Haldimand Quilters' Guild in Hagersville. It was quite the adventure! On the way there, the police had closed a road on the route I had carefully planned to follow. And because there was a mouse in my car last week and I had cleared everything out to get the car completely detailed on the weekend, I forgot to put my trusty paper map back in the car. NO MAP?!? How is a directionally challenged quilter supposed to find her way?!?
Of course I got hopelessly lost, and was almost late for the meeting. Maybe it's time to either invest in a GPS or figure out how to use my cell phone properly. Yuck.

I made it just in time, and here are the lovely quilters waiting patiently. I wish I could put a video camera on my shoulder and play for you the conversations that I enjoyed last night. These women were so fun, and so encouraging to me, that I actually felt a little teary on the way home.
That might also have been partly because after the meeting I loaded the quilts in the car in the pouring rain, and white-knuckled the drive home through a vicious thunderstorm wearing soaking wet clothes. But there were no road closures, I didn't get lost, and I arrived home safe and sound, though soggy.
A huge thank you to Shirley for not giving up on contacting me, to Deb for helping with the arrangements, to Linda for the lovely letter and gift, and to all the quilters who came out on such a stormy night to hear a stressed out crazy quilter talk about her quiltaholic behaviour! Thank you for reading my blog and for sharing with me how it has helped you over the years. 

"NO" is a complete sentence! 
(which I learned from the inspirational writings of Cheryl Richardson and Anne Lamott).

Monday, April 10, 2017

Design Wall Monday Stars

Something completely different is on the design wall today. These blocks are for a charity quilt being made for my quilt guild. The comfort quilt committee picked the pattern and the fabrics, and pre-cut everything for us. All we have to do is take some baggies home and sew blocks... 
so fun!
This pattern from Tula Pink is called "The Stars Align" and is a free download over at Coats - click here.
I am so comfortable sewing small pieces, that these 16" blocks seemed enormous to be working on. I felt like Alice in Wonderland with tiny hands sewing huge squares!
I put one of my tiny Alamo star blocks in the middle of one of the stars. Can you see it?!? So cute and sweet! That's my comfort zone and the size I am happiest working with.
I must admit that you can build a quilt much more quickly with these large blocks. I have been making Alamo Star blocks for 5 years and have yet to make enough blocks to turn into a decent size quilt!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.
I am speaking at the Haldimand Quilters' Guild tonight. I'm not sure where exactly that is, but I still have a few hours to figure out where I'm going and how I'm going to get there! 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching - DO IT!

Welcome to the weekly celebration of the practice of hand stitching! We are happy you have joined us today and encourage you to get out your needles, your thread or wool, and get to work on your stitching project. 
This is your opportunity to carve a few minutes out of your busy life to unplug, to sit still, to breathe deeply, and take a few stitches.
I have been thinking this week about how we talk a lot about what we want to do, or have, or be, but many of us stop at the talking stage, and don't actually do it. We want to be relaxed and less stressed, but we don't do what it takes to make that happen. We want to be healthier, but we don't actually put on some sneakers and go for a walk. We want to have loving and supportive relationships, but we don't take the time to be loving, thoughtful and supportive of those we want to love. Thinking and talking is the first step, but then we have to actually do something.
My friend Sandy went to the home of a suddenly deceased quilter where the family was sorting out her quilting room, and they found mountains of unused, unopened project kits. That made me feel sad for all the fun the quilter had missed out on. Maybe the best part for her was the purchasing of these items, but all these wonderful treasures spent years and years stored in bins and never became anything. She loved the kits enough to buy them, but then they went into storage. She never saw them in her home as finished items to enjoy every day. There was so much lost potential in that room.

I know many stitchers who buy patterns and supplies, and dream about things they'd like to create. They think about how fun it might be to make projects they admire, or take classes to learn more skills to make the projects, but they don't do it. 

This is what I'm doing today... putting a few more embroidery stitches in the last block of my Life is Beautiful project!  I'm doing it, not just thinking about it or talking about it. The only way to reap the benefits of slow stitching is to actually DO it.
Just go ahead and DO some stitching!
If you have a project you have already purchased, that you loved enough to pay your hard earned money for, go right now and get it. Open up the package, put in a few stitches, make a start and savour the process of creating something with your own two hands. 
And then link up your blog post below and share your hand stitching journey with us. 

    An InLinkz Link-up

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Votes For Women is Finally Finished!

Sometimes I wondered whether this day would ever come and here it is... 
drum roll please...
Votes For Women - outdoor photo

Votes For Women is a finished quilt!

Getting the vote for women, and getting this quilt finished both are testaments to the sticktoitiveness! I probably shouldn't even joke about that, since it's not even in the same league of accomplishments at all.
However, did I mention that it did take me 5 years to finish this quilt!?!?

machine quilting photo

The blocks in this quilt were made during a quiltalong hosted by the incomparable Barbara Brackman and started in 2012. All of the prints in her fabric line called Metropolitan Fair are in this quilt, along with many other reproduction prints. A huge thank you to Barbara for the wonderful patterns and delighful fabrics!

The quilt was constructed in 3 separate pieces and the blocks were free motion quilted. It was joined together using the quilt-as-you-go techniques, and the sashing was then quilted with the walking foot.
There is a ton of machine quilting in this project, all of which was completed on my 22 year old Brother sewing machine. And every stitch was made using Aurifil thread. 

Here is a photo of the backing, which was pieced from leftover chunks of this project and from Circa 2016. I have no idea why that dark square is pieced right there in the middle like that! Must have seemed/seamed like a good idea at the time! I will attach the label near that square since it draws the eye to look there. I'm working on a photo transfer label for this quilt.

This was the best photo from the indoor photo shoot. My quilt holders are reaching as high as they can and were just able to hold it up off the floor, but only if they held it sideways. Oh well, you can see the whole quilt ... just tilt your head to the right!
Finished size: 61" x 83"

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

April's UFO

My UFO focus for April is the Scrap Vortex. This quilt was started 2 years ago and inspired by a quiltalong at Crazy Mom Quilts. It's such a fun technique for using up scraps and after teaching the improv class in Paris last month, I've been stoked about finishing this quilt.

Here are the tasks:

1) fixing the top 3 things about the quilt top that aren't quite right for my eyes.

2) piecing a scrappy border and attaching it to the quilt top. 

3) spiral quilting using the Crazy Mom Quilts tutorial. It only makes sense that since Amanda Jean started this quilt, I'd use her fabulous quilting idea too!

4) piece and add a scrappy binding. 

Can all this be done in one month? Well, my regular blog readers know that my goals usually exceed my available time.  Considering that my goal for last September took me SEVEN months to finish, I'd say I have a severe case of "delusional doability" (a perfectly coined term I learned from Elaine Therault)!!
Linky up to the April Goal link up and crossing my fingers for a finish within one month!

Monday, April 03, 2017

Clarissa is on the design wall

My leader-ender project is growing by one more block this week . This is block #10 for my Clarissa was a Superstar quilt.
I really enjoy playing with value in each of these blocks, trying to make each one just a little different from the others.
Each block is made of 36 hourglass units containing 144 triangles. This is the 10th block, so the project how contains a grand total of 1,440 triangles!
Here are 9 of the blocks on the design wall... the photo just didn't look right with all 10 of them up there!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

It's Sunday again, so that means it's time to S L O W down and do some relaxing stitching. 
I am delighted to have finished the machine quilting on my Votes For Women quilt this week. It is time to step away from the machine, unplug everything, breath deep, and relax with hand stitching this binding.  I will savour every stitch because this has been 5 years in the making and it was worth the wait!
Wild Olive
What project have you been working on for a long time? Get it out and put in some stitches. I guarantee you will feel calmer, and enjoy the satisfaction of making some slow progress. 
We love to see what you're being inspired by today, so link up your blog post below and show us the project you are hand stitching.

    An InLinkz Link-up