Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Blockheads II

When the Blockheads patterns started being released two each week, I fell way behind. Most of these blocks are tricky and small... which are two things I usually enjoy in quiltmaking. But it was just too much sewing time to fit in to my October schedule. 
Anyway, I am motivated at the moment to try to catch up again. So then... is it best to start at the most recently released pattern (which looks fun!) and work backwards, or go back to where you left off and work forward?
I decided to pick up where I left off.
Fidget Spinner

I left off at block #14 called "Fidget Spinner". 
It was hard to figure out the colours with my fabric, and the seam ripper was used frequently. The way the pattern was written meant I had no idea how any of the pieces were going to look. But eventually it all turned out okay (life lesson??)

When working on all those "sew and flip" triangle corners, I sewed a second seam and that extra step gave me many tiny HST's. 


I looked ahead in the block list and figured out that I could use those bonus HSTs to sew a variation of block #24 called "Kaleidoscope".

Corner Pocket

Block #15 is called "Corner Pocket" and it was like a breath of fresh air after sewing those challenging blocks. (It is also the same pattern pieces as Block #2 Buckeye Beauty with the values moved around.)

Texas Puzzle

Block #16 is called "Texas Puzzle" and I used a scrap of grey from one of the older Sweetwater lines called "Mama said SEW". When I put the block on the design wall I noticed that the grey is noticeably different from the Harmony greys. 
Oh well... I like that fabric, so it stays!

Big Storm

Block #17 "Big Storm" was interesting. I could see this pattern becoming a border on a quilt. 

So after all that effort, I am only 11 blocks away from being caught up! LOL 

Here's the latest Blockheads II design wall photo taken late at night with the 19 blocks I've sewn. Since the time change, most of my sewing is done in the dark, so my photos will won't be great quality. 
Linking up to Sew Fresh Quilts.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Design Wall Monday

Over the weekend I became obsessed with finishing "En Provence". Of course the reason is because Bonnie Hunter has posted the fabric requirements for her new mystery quilt called "Good Fortune". I felt disappointed that I hadn't finished the last 2 mysteries, and got "a bee in my bonnet" about En Provence. 

I had some backing yardage from the "Good Neighbors" line of fabrics that my quilt was inspired by, but it wasn't nearly big enough. Just look at these adorable selvages from this fabric line. I'm saving them for the selvage quilt I'm going to make "someday".

I had to piece strips from leftover fabrics to add to the right and left sides of the yardage piece. I included all the remaining blocks that didn't get into the quilt, and some of the bits and pieces of yardage.

Here it is on the design wall. It's too big to fit on my wall so the middle piece of yardage is folded over. It's big enough on the right side, but for some reason, I didn't make it long enough on the left. Oh for heaven's sake how did that happen after all the measuring I did??!!
So, I'll just add another chunk to the bottom left and then I'll have the backing ready. Basting is the next step.
Could I actually finish it before the next mystery starts in two weeks?!?!
Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party! 
hand knit poppy
It's time to take a deep breath, pick up your needle and threads and put some stitches in your project.

It's Remembrance Day here in Canada and we will pause for a moment of silence at 11 am to remember the men and women who have served our country during times of war, conflict, and peace. This is the poppy my friend knit for me. I took around 40 photos of it to show you how intricate the knitting is, but this is the best I could get. I think the black shiny button messes with the camera's focus. Anyway I will wear it proudly to the 11 am service this morning.

For a lovely story on how Canadian soldiers used hand embroidery in their healing following World War 1, hop over to read "Beauty out of pain". It was thought that the  embroidery lessons could serve as a way to improve dexterity and as therapy to overcome symptoms of PTSD.

This is my most recently finished embroidery block for the Gail Pan "I Stitch Club". As I've said many times (hopefully you're not sick of hearing it yet!) I really enjoy these sweet little stitcheries. I have finished 18 blocks so far and I never tire of tracing out another block, selecting some thread colours and putting in the embroidery stitches.

My fancy organizational system for my embroidery floss is as efficient as ever. My quilting friends are aghast at this mess, but I do enjoy digging around in the tin box to find just the right colour :)

What are you hand stitching today?
Link up your blog post below and share your project with us!
And don't forget to enter the draw for the Olfa prize package - the winning name will be drawn tonight!

    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Scrappy Saturday

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge BOM called Squared Away will be getting lots of attention in the quilting room this weekend. I want to finish this quilt by the end of the year, so I have to get cracking. Click here to see the 32 blocks I've made in previous months.

"Dewey Dream"

I have 2 more months to finish. 
Here are the protypes:

Block #10 will be sewn in green scraps. This pattern is called the "Dewey Dream" and is from 1899. That's one old block pattern! 
I need to sew 3 more of this block.

And to round out the sampler, I needed one more block pattern. I really like the bonus block pattern that Mari posted called Rolling 9 Patch. This block pattern is from the 1960's. I'm going to make these blocks in brown, because I think my scrappy sampler quilt needs some brown.

To see more RSC projects being sewn, hop over to the weekly link up at Angela's.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Secret Santa

I have been "working" hard to catch up to the Secret Santa sewalong from Temecula Quilts. 
The project started with fabric requirements posted on October 12th. There are weekly instructions posted on fridays, and the layout reveal will be on Black Friday. 

Step #1 was quick and easy, but October was so busy for me that I missed step #2. When step #3 was posted last week, I decided to sew that one first and put the pedal to the medal to finish before the next clue would be posted. I finally got these 48 little units finished and here is a photo taken late at night. 
Now I'll go back to finishing the 68 nine patch blocks for step #2. But first... I will hop over to Temecula Quilts to see what step #4 is! 
Are you making this fun mystery quilt?!?

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

My favourite OLFA tools

Did you see the great OLFA giveaway on Monday's post? You have until November 11th to enter. And be sure to visit all the featured bloggers to have 8 changes to win one of the OLFA packages. 
All this talk about OLFA products has inspired me to show you more of my favourite OLFA tools. I have no affiliation to this company, nor do I get paid for my endorsement. I'm just a very happy customer!
NOT an OLFA mat 
Over my years of quilting I have bought several brands of cutting mats, and here is a photo of why I always come back to OLFA. 
Unlike the pink mat in this photo, OLFA mats are self healing. Other brands develop nicks and grooves very quickly which make it impossible to get a clean cut. My OLFA mats do eventually wear out over years of continuous service, and when they do, I buy another OLFA mat to replace it. I think I've had 4 mats over 25 years.

Middle wavy edge of the folding mat
Folding cutting mat - this is such a great idea to make a large mat more portable. It folds across the middle to take up half the storage space. It's perfect to take to classes and retreats. The middle edges are wavy so that when you open the mat and lay it flat on the table, there is no groove or gap in the middle where the fabric wouldn't cut. You can cut long strips on this mat and there are no missed threads over the fold. Terrific idea!

My 3 favourite OLFA cutters

Cutters - I still have my very first rotary cutter from more than 25 years ago! It's on the left in this photo and it still works great, but isn't as pretty as the newer ones. I still think it has better ergonomics, and use it for big cutting jobs. I keep the smaller pretty ones beside my sewing table for small jobs. I'm sure I'll end up buying the new pink Splash cutter!

Rulers - my all time favourite, most used ruler is the 6" x 12" ruler with all the angles. I'm using it today to cut more Arrowhead blocks
Love love super love!

Monday, November 05, 2018

Save the Bees

Block #4 - Pieced Bee

Are you sewing along with the Save the Bees quiltmakers?!?

Today we are sharing block #4, which is ... a pieced BEE! Hop over to designer Jacquelynne's site to learn how to get your free copy of the instructions - click here.
My bee doesn't have her antennae yet, which will be made from black floss and 2 black buttons.
Of course the BEE block is the star of this quilt and it was sooo fun to sew. It looks like it would be paper pieced, but it's not. The bee is constructed in rows, and while I would describe it as a "challenging" pattern in terms of difficulty, the instructions are excellent and if you follow each step as written, your bee will come out perfectly!

The hardest part is the HST blocks, which stands for "Half Rectangle Triangle". These are tricky for me and although we have made them in previous blocks, I have to read the instructions, complete each step, and then compare my sewn pieces to the diagrams to make sure it looks right. 

Seriously, I put the sewn pieces beside the instructions and look at it several times. It goes against my old quilter's brain to not match up the edges of the pieces before sewing or cutting.
It never looks right to me, but it IS right!!

You can see many more bee blocks on social media (#SaveTheBeesQuilt) and on Jacquelynne's facebook page, where I recently saw this posting. 
Save the Bees!
Save the Bees - Blocks 1 - 4

Here are my 4 blocks on the design wall. It's coming together even better than I had hoped!!
Next month step #5 will show us how to get these blocks sewn together into a quilt top.
I invite you to visit all the featured blogs to see their wonderful bee blocks and to enter the draws on each blog:

The very exciting prize for this month is an assortment of OLFA products! Believe me, you want to win this prize!

The draw is open to international entries and a huge thanks to OLFA for including all quilters in this draw because as we know, international postage is very expensive. The draw will be held at the end of the day on Nov. 11 (one prize per person per month).

To get your name in the draw, scroll to the end of this post, click on the word 'comments' and tell me your favourite OLFA product. I do love their rotary cutters and mats and use them exclusively, but my current favourite is the folding cutting mat

OLFA also sent this gift package to the featured bloggers earlier this year and this is how I learned about the folding mat.
Have you tried it? It folds up to be portable and is perfect to take to retreats and classes. When you lay it out flat, you can't see or feel the wavy fold and you have a large cutting mat to use. (No affiliation to OLFA, just a very loyal customer)

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party! We invite you to settle in for some relaxation, visit our inspiring stitchers at the links below, and take some time to put a few stitches in one of your favourite projects.

I seem to be alternating between 2 hand stitching projects - the Gail Pan's "I Stitch Club" embroidery BOM, and hand quilting blocks for my Life Is Beautiful quilt. It seems I get bored with one project and switch to the other from time to time. This week I have put stitches in both, so I'll share the "quilt-as-you-go" block I am quilting. This is an alternate block with appliqued circles. I am quilting a straight line horizontally and vertically, then quilting around the centre circle, then quilting on the drawn chalk line (which is traced around a saucer from my kitchen cupboard that happened to be the right size!)

What are you hand stitching today? Please link up your blog post below and share your project with us!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Scrappy Saturday

One of my projects that needed only one more block was the Circle of Squares quilt. I asked blog readers to tell me what colour was needed for the last block. The overwhelming majority voted for something dark (green, multi, or red) so I went with brown since some of the scraps from the chocolate sister quilts were still sitting on the cutting board. There are some pieces from Save the Bees, and the bird on the basket in the middle at the top is from my friend Helen's scraps.
So... here are all the Circle of Squares blocks on the design wall. Time to sew these fun blocks together!
Hop over to the RSC weekly link up to see more scrappy quilts being created.

Friday, November 02, 2018

October Fails

October was Women's History Month here in Canada with the theme of "Make an Impact" (click here to read more about it). 
There is a list of 100 "Women of Impact" in Canada. I was interested in how many of these women were also in the 150 Canadian Quilt that I started in December of 2016 Canada's 150th birthday. Once I started looking at the names and thinking about that quilt, I was motivated to get sewing the rest of those blocks.

Leaves fell off the trees and onto my car - view through the windshield
I sure do wish I had more hours in the day, and really wanted to spend time working on my Canada 150 blocks this month. But that didn't happen. Life conspired against me to use most of my non work time on things not quilting related. It was not fun. 
And then all the pretty golden leaves fell off the trees with one overnight of frost, so fall is almost over. That is sad for me because fall is usually my favourite season and I like it to last a long time!

I also wanted to sew my elephant quilt together in October. That also didn't happen. 
Not a single stitch.
SO glad October is over.
November is here. 
My UFO goal will be the same one as last month - to sew my Elephant Parade quilt top.
Linking up to One Monthly Goal.

Another November goal will be to collect fabrics for Bonnie Hunter's annual mystery quilt. I never miss out on that adventure which start on the American Thanksgiving weekend. This year's mystery is called "Good Fortune". You can find the fabric requirements here.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Design Wall Monday

On Saturday I posted the miniature versions of Anita's Arrowhead blocks that I am making for one of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects. Those blocks are 3". But I am also making a larger blue version of this quilt with blocks that are 9". You can read about the beginning of this quilt here.

These blocks are so fun to make and I have finished sewing over 40 of them. Now I am sewing the blocks  together in groups of twos and fours. Here they are on the design wall. I think I need to be careful about the dark ones and make sure they are not clumped together, but evenly spread around the quilt.
What's on your design wall today?
Linking up to Small Quilts.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party! 
This week I have been thinking about stitching as medicine. The process of taking repetitive stitches, slowing the breath, being only in this moment, and concentrating on a simple task engages the parasympathetic nervous system in a way that nothing else does. It forces the body to relax and to heal. It's called the "rest and digest" or "relaxed and content" state, and for me there is no quicker way to achieve that state than by hand stitching. 

I haven't had much time for hand stitching this week, which is usually when I need it the most. So I spent last evening hand stitching the finishing touches on the fabric bowl I made this week. It was a completely frustrating machine process making this bowl (you can read about the construction here), but adding the hand stitched touches was the best part. I added a key, a wooden heart, and the letters J O Y.

Here is the finished product. It turned out to be a lovely bowl, made from an ugly fabric, created by a frustrated sewist, on a sewing machine with terrible tension. Sometimes you just have to push through the ugliness and frustration and hope for a good result. And then the hand stitching calms you down enough to appreciate what you have created!

What are you hand stitching today? Are you adding some embellishments to something you have made so you will like even more? Share your projects with us by linking your blog post below.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Fabric Bowl

Every once in a while I get inspired to make a fabric bowl. This bowl is using up an ugly batik fabric that has a gold paint on one side and some random colours that are blobs. It's not good for quilting, particularly because the gold paint makes it stiff to handle, but somehow it drew my attention as a good choice to make into a bowl.

False start... terrible tension

I only have one sewing machine that has a zigzag stitch which is required in bowl making - my old Janome Gem. It has some issues with bobbin winding, the hand knob falls off regularly and the tension is frequently off. It should go in for repairs, but I forget about doing that until I want to make a bowl!
The first frustrating hour was spent trying to get the tension right. 

Starting to turn the sides

Then I realized I was building the bowl in the wrong direction to be able to make the sides turn up, so I flipped it over to continue and realized the tension was not as good as it had been momentarily! I was able to fix that again and decided to just push on.

Check back tomorrow to see how it all turned out!

Green Scrappy Saturday

I can't believe this is the last RSC link up for green scraps. Where did October go? Most of it is a blur for me, but I did have bits of time to get a few green scraps sewn into various projects.

Many little pieces went into the new Temecula Secret Santa mystery, one more Circle of Squares block was made in green, and my Squared Away blocks are in production.

But just look at these 3" arrowhead blocks! 
I adore how they look and how much fun they are to make! 

I have 9 blocks made so far.. an orange test block, 4 from blue September and 4 from green October. 

These will make a terrific quilt!

This project will go on my 2019 RSC list to make each month. If I sew 4 a month, I could have 48 more blocks by year end, but that would still only make a small wallhanging sized quilt... a layout of 7 x 7 would measure 21" square! Maybe this will be a multi year project?!?

Linking up to the RSC weekly scrap party.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Log Cabin Loonies

Are you following along with the crazy mini log cabin makers over at Julie's? These log cabins are made with 1" strips - cutting instructions here.
I had a pile of gold scraps that needed to become little log cabins. Aren't they pretty?
Some of these are leftover scraps from Angel Solstice, and the Superbowl mystery, and a few tiny pieces from Save the Bees

But really I'm supposed to be working on sewing up my green scraps this month for the RSC. So I made a concerted effort to sew up some green scraps. Dark green is not my favourite ... I don't know why. I always seem to be forcing myself to add some dark green to quilting projects. I added in some plaids hoping that would help me like these blocks more, but nope I still don't like them.

However, when dark green is put beside some of my favourite colours, it magically improves!

Here they are on the design wall...the first 16 log cabin loony blocks sewn together in groups of 4 .
Wow I love this project! It's definitely one of the RSC projects that will carry over into 2019.
Linking up to the Log Cabin Loonies and Sew Fresh Quilts.