Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Finished Quilt

It's always fun to announce a finished quilt. This is a relatively new UFO, but it was demanding to be finished and I had everything needed for the finishing including leftovers to piece a backing and binding, so it butted to the front of the UFO line. 
This pattern is called "Scrappy Friends" and was the New Years Day mystery quilt hosted by Quiltbug. The finished size is 45.5" x 65.5" which is a perfect size to donate to the comfort quilt program at my guild. I'm hoping someone will enjoy this quilt for years to come.

All the quilting was straight lines on the diagonal using the walking foot. The binding was finished while watching the olympics at quilt retreat.
Woohoo! Another project moves from the UFO closet to the done pile!

To see more finished UFOs, hop over to the One Monthly Goal link up.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Retreat Report #4

This is the last blog post showing the new projects that were started at retreat last week. Over a year ago I purchased the Wacky Web template for a project by Missouri Star Company. You can see the project tutorial here.
At retreat it turned out that there were 4 of us who had either the small or the large template to make this project! Susan made her version with each scrappy star being one colour. Isn't it looking wonderful!?!
I wanted to try the reverse idea, with my colours being where her background fabrics are. This is how my layout is looking. I do like it, but it does require a lot of planning and I'm not enjoying it enough to make a very large version of it. Truthfully I like Susan's idea better!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Retreat Report #3

Last week I attended my annual  quilt retreat where I started a few new projects: the 2018 Aurifil DOM, an "exploding block" table mat, and Carole's scrap mystery quilt along called Square Dance. You might remember that I started her previous mystery called Scrap Dance Tango at quilt retreat 2 years ago and I really enjoyed sewing that quilt (which is not quite finished yet!)
Carole promises that this mystery will not have any HST blocks! Does that persuade you to join in the fun? It's not too late since this is just the first sewing step.
The fabric I started with for this mystery is a jelly roll called "Addison" and a layer cake called "Chocoholic". I wanted to use up these collections instead of storing them in the cupboard forever. 
This is the perfect project to get them sewn into a quilt. I have other scraps and fat quarters that will be added but this is the starting point.
Here are the 9 patch blocks I made for step #1. 

I think I might be calling this one "chocolate covered cherries" which are actually on two of the layer cake fabrics! 

The next step will be posted on the 3rd Friday in March. You have lots of time to make your 9 patch blocks!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Small Quilts.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly celebration of hand stitching! Why not join us as we make time to enjoy the benefits of relaxation with our favourite projects?
Last week I attended my annual quilt retreat and made sure to fit in a little slow stitching every day. I made a lot of progress in stitching the binding on my UFO of the month.

And while at retreat, I snuck around and snapped some photos of other slow stitchers working on their wonderful projects.

Jackie was embroidering her crayoned flowers.

Nancy was stitching a wool cat in a basket on a batik background.  It was so cute and I wish I had taken a photo of the finished block to show you all her special stitches.

Gail was knitting some yoga socks which she says are "easy" because there is no heel to turn and no toe to join.

Andrea was hand stitching this complicated bag project. Her hands were working very hard to get through all the layers to attach the edging.

Now it's your turn! What are your hands stitching today?
Link up your blog post below and share your accomplishments with us.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Retreat Report #2

This is the next update of retreat projects - new start #2. At last year's retreat my friend Gail gave me a Featherweight sewing machine fat quarter. I made a little mat for my Featherweights to sit on. They are very old and need a soft surface to sit on 😉

It's just the fabric piece folded over a piece of thin batting, some machine quilting in the open spaces, and a machine stitched edge.

So this year I brought my Featherweight mat and my 1952 Singer 221 named Charity. She really enjoyed starting a new project and trying out the new sewing mat. Her wiring is a little bit frail and crispy, but I got everything working well.

The new project was the Exploding block from Missouri Star Company. The full size quilt uses layer cakes, but I just wanted to try out the block using a Primitive Gatherings snowman charm pack. 
The charm pack made 14 blocks and 12 were used to make this little table mat. It was fun for a quick and easy project and all the points are cut off so there is nothing to worry about! I think I'll hand quilt this cute little project.

Here is the machine back in her case to sleep overnight. See how the mat rolls up nicely to fit in the top of the case? 

Stop by tomorrow for retreat update #3 featuring hand stitched projects.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Retreat Report

Quilt Retreat 2018 is in the history books now. We have been retreating together as a group for over 10 years. All of the relaxing sewing time, the hilarious shenanigans, and the wonderful conversations with creative and wonderful woman have come to an end for another year. I will miss them so much since many of us only see each other once a year. 
Work space of an anonymous retreater!
It's probably a good thing that retreat is not longer than it is, because during olympic years we stay up way too late watching the coverage. And then we get up early and hit the sewing machines to work on our quilts. The thing that is missing is  s l e e p ! And a human can only operate for a limited amount of time on little sleep. 
In the next week I'll be showing updates for all the projects I worked on. Of course I started 4 new quilting projects while at retreat and here's the first one...

the Aurifil 2018 DOM. I completed their 2016 quilt in November and am happy with how that turned out - you can see it here. I really enjoy making complex blocks with many pieces and decided to start their 2018 project. Although I'm looking forward to making the January block, I had to skip to the February block because January's block requires a printed pattern which I didn't have at retreat. So I started with February's block which has 31 pieces. It is fun and easy to sew if you're organized and follow instructions well.

Here is the February block called Birch Ball by featured designer Scott Hansen. You can see many interesting versions of this block at the link up at Pat Sloan's blog. It looks like most people are going with the black and white idea for their sampler blocks.

When sewing the connecting corners, I always sew a second line to turn the cut off corners into HST blocks. I decided to save these each month and see what they might become. These are the leftovers from February's block.
Further project updates will be forthcoming after a brief nap!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Small, Smaller, Smallest Blog Hop

Carol is hosting a new blog hop in March featuring small projects no bigger than a baby quilt. I adore miniature quilts so of course I had to get in on that hop.
I have been making miniature quilts for more than 20 years and have amassed quite a collection. It might be true that I am a tiny bit obsessed with miniature quilts and in fact I taught miniature quilt making classes for quite a few years. This is a photo of a small pile of 50+ miniature quilts from my collection. I can tell just by looking at the binding which quilt is which. And I love them all! 

But of course for this special blog hop I have started a new project! I am planning to make a little quilt of 9 patch blocks made from 1" squares. The unfinished block is 2" but once it is sewn into the quilt it will finish at 1.5". I only need about 200 more of these little guys and I'll have myself the makings for a new quilt for the blog hop!

I hear you thinking you may have seen this on my blog before because I have been making little 9 patch blocks for my RSC version of Omigosh, but this is a whole new miniature adventure! My RSC Omigosh nine patch blocks are all one colour, but these blocks are totally and deliciously scrappy!

Click here to learn more about the Small, Smaller, Smallest blog hop which starts on March 5th.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Quilt Retreat

Nothing is on the design wall today because it's time for my annual winter quilt retreat! Once I get there, it's fantastic. However, preparing to get there is very stressful for me. I get myself in quite a state because ALL my projects want to come with me. But of course that is not possible. I know some quilters who are really chill, and only bring one or two projects to work on for 5 days. 5 whole days!

New olympic event - packing for quilt retreat
From the infinite list of my projects, I have to chose which ones I might want to work on this week. The list of projects going to retreat should include at less one item in each stage of development:
a couple of creative projects in the planning stages so you can consult with your friends, extra fabric that may be needed for projects that may be accidentally started while at retreat (usually need neutral yardage), projects to piece, one paper piecing challenge, at least one project that is pin basted and ready for machine quilting, some hand stitching activities including at least one embroidery and one hand quilting project, and there absolutely must be a quilt with a binding ready to hand stitch late in the evenings.

With my list in hand, I have been rummaging around in the UFO closets and sorting which projects qualify for retreat and which will stay home. And then I must ensure that I have all the tools, fabrics, patterns, threads, and any other supplies needed for each of the projects. 
It's exhausting.
Kevin reminded me in his latest blog post of this truth.
So true Kevin!

Retreat projects waiting to be loaded into the car

Once the torture of attending to all the details, making all the decisions, and organizing all the stuff is finally complete, then comes the hauling of said stuff into the car. Sure wish I knew a sherpa I could call! Here is the end result of all that effort. How many projects do you think I have there? Enough for 5 days?

And then the realization hits.... I should probably pack some clothes too!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the Slow Sunday Stitching party! We meet here every Sunday to celebrate the art of all varieties of hand stitching. If it involves a needle or 2, and some thread/yarn/wool, and stitches taken with your hands, we want to know about it!
Last week I posted about the slow stitching olympics and it was fun to hear about your long time UFOs. We had many contenders, and Deb was definitely in the running with her hand pieced and hand quilted log cabin project from 1989. Way to go Deb!
And congratulations to all you slow stitchers who persist, who keep making progress and never give up. It's hard to maintain a vision and enthusiasm for a project over many years. You are inspiring!

This is the embroidery design I finished this week. This is one of the three January patterns for Gail Pan's Send My Love BOM. It took me 2 weeks to finish the flower on the right and the little bee. Oh well, slow progress is still progress.

What are you hand stitching today? Share your slow progress with us and link up your blog post below.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fabric Sprays

Do you use any products to help with pressing your quilt blocks? I really like my blocks to lay flat since I do most of my own quilting and it really helps with reducing issues when the quilt is completely flat.
I've tried using a steam iron and had nothing but problems with the irons spitting, leaking, and staining my fabric.
Then I tried unscented and lavender Best Press Spray. This is a product that I really like and use almost every time I quilt. It is called a "starch and sizing alternative". 

When another product called Flatter was on sale, I thought I'd try it and see how it compares. This product is called a "smoothing spray" to relax wrinkles and freshen fabric. 
I tried it on my Ringo Lake blocks and it was okay. The Flatter spray pump was not as user friendly and the spray was more of a fine mist. I definitely preferred to use the Best Press spray bottle with more product coming out with each squeeze. And I do think my blocks were flatter with the Best Press.
And how do the prices compare here in Canada?
Flatter was $13.00 for 248 ml minus 30% on sale and Best Press was $11.50 for 473 ml. 
My only concern about the Best Press Spray is that the ingredients are not listed. I often wonder what's in this spray and why the ingredients aren't listed? 
There are lots of recipes on line to make your own version of a pressing spray, but at this point I am not motivated enough to try making my own. Also the recipes use Vodka, which I'd rather drink than spray on my quilts!

And speaking of drinking, it's Friday Night Sew In and some of my friends are coming over to sew tonight. It has been a long week, so I hope I can stay awake!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

True Confessions!

True confessions: I am in love with half square triangles.
Head over heels. 
Totally smitten. Can't get enough of them!
I discovered my HST enthusiasm in 1996 (read about it here) and have been "collecting" HST blocks ever since. Friends frequently pass them to me in baggies since apparently they are not beloved by everyone! But I love them... the friends and the HSTs!

Truthfully it's not often that these triangles actually get used in projects. Perhaps this is just a collection, like when stamp collectors collect stamps but don't actually "use" them for anything. They just admire the stamps and search for unique ones. Or perhaps it's just like my sewing machine collection. I don't use all the machines, but I like to have them to admire.

This week I am playing with some half square triangle blocks from a friend that were donated to my collection. I am sewing them together on my Singer 301, pressing and trimming them and think they will make a great border for a quilt that is developing in my mind. 

Okay readers... what are you loving today? Do you love/collect/hoard half square triangles? Do you think I am crazy (be gentle!)?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Enjoy filling your life with everything you love! 💕

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Midmonth UFO Report

Aurifil threads for machine quilitng
My UFO goal this month is to finish the quilt called Scrappy Friends. This was a New Years mystery designed by Quiltbug and I made my version in batiks from my stash. This isn't a very old UFO since it hasn't even spent a year or more in the UFO cupboard, but it is a bossy quilt and wants to be finished.

The quilt has been pin basted and quilting has begun. It will be quilted very simply using the walking foot. I almost always start a quilt making some horizontal and some vertical lines to stabilize the whole thing. I don't like to stitch in the ditch because it's boring, and I think that if I'm going to do all this machine quilting, I want to see it! And you can't see the stitching if it's hidden in a seam. However, sometimes a quilt needs it, so I force myself to do the "stitch in the ditch" part.  
If you dislike it too, Angela Walters has a blog post with 4 tips on how to hate stitching in the ditch a little bit less... click here to read it. 

So now on to the fun quilting... diagonal lines straight across both sides of the pink stars.
The binding is already prepared and waiting, so I am motivated to get the quilting finished. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Swap Blocks on the Design Wall

I have friends who participate in a variety of swaps on Instagram and Facebook, but I'm not interested in having those accounts. The only swap I regularly participate in is Barb Vedder's annual block swap.
In 2015 we swapped bowtie blocks and you can read about my finished quilt here. I hand quilted this one and it's one of my all time favourite quilts!

In 2016 we swapped broken dishes blocks and those blocks are in a quilt top. It has been in the UFO closet while I am trying to decide if it needs a border or just a red binding. I want to hand quilt this one too... maybe in red?!?
What do you think?

This year we are swapping 6" churn dash blocks. I have all the parts sewn for the blue blocks and am having a relaxing time putting the blocks together. It's a no-brainer kind of task, but perhaps I have been a little too relaxed about it and need to engage the brain a little more?
8 Churn Dash blocks and 1 Dog?

I actually have more than 20 blocks sewn accurately, and the dog will be unsewn and remade into a churn dash ... 
hey, he could be a churn dashhund!! LOL

To see more design wall blog posts, hop over to Small Quilts.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Slowest Stitcher Medal

Welcome to the olympic sport of hand stitching! It's all about the olympics this week, so let's classify our slow stitching as an official event. I'm in the turtle competition for slowest stitcher on the planet. I think I could get a gold medal in the event. 
Anyone want to compete with me for the Slowest Stitcher Medal?!?

I will be hand quilting my oldest UFO today, which was started in 1996. Can you beat my outstanding accomplishment for slowest progress ever on a project?!?! LOL
Are you a fan of the Olympics? Will you be stitching while watching the competitions today? 
I love this sentence from the New Yorker
"The Olympics feel like a testament to human pleasure: let us gather, and do these pure and ridiculous things for fun."

That sounds like Slow Sunday Stitching too ... let's do pure and ridiculous things, and spread the fun over many years!
Link your blog post below and share your slow progress with us!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Scrappy Saturday

We are trying to use up our purple scraps this month over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Purple is not a colour I "know" and rarely buy yardage of it. But in my scrap bags there are lots of tiny pieces that friends have shared with me.

I am making my Squared Away sampler blocks in a 5" size, so the pieces I am using up are 1.5" squares and strips. The February block pattern is called "Wishing Ring". I made four blocks in purple scraps for my sampler and enjoyed thinking about the things I am wishing for while making these wishing blocks.
To see more purple projects, hop over to the RSC linkup.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Fabric Washing Tips

Every quilter has his/her own fabric washing practices. Some never prewash, they just buy it, cut it, sew it, and when the quilt is finished they toss it in the sewing machine and hope for the best in terms of shrinkage and dye discharge. Other quilters prewash, and some even starch, every piece of fabric before they use it.
My habits lean more toward not prewashing but for block swaps it is usually recommended. I'm participating in Barb's churn dash swap so I wanted to prewash those fabrics and also threw in some fabrics from a kit I bought in December. I always use one or two colour catcher sheets in a prewash.
Just look at the dye it picked up! The sheets come out of the box white like the one on the left, and the pink sheets on the right show how much fabric dye was absorbed from the wash water. If the dye wasn't absorbed by the colour catcher, it would have likely run onto to other light coloured fabrics, turning everything a nice shade of pink.
But what really shocked me was that the fabric was a total mess and reminded me of why I dislike prewashing. It was a big wad of tangled, knotted threads and I had to use scissors to cut the threads to separate the fabric. Just look at the threads still tangled around the colour catcher sheet. It was like that with all the fabric. Then I read a brilliant tip from Carole about how to wash fabric yardage and gave it a try. It worked perfectly! Thanks Carole!

Summary of fabric washing tips:
Tip #1 - use a colour catcher sheet.
Tip #2 - accordion pleat the fabric and pin the selvage edges together.
Please pass along any additional fabric washing tips in the comment section.