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.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Super Sewl Sunday

Sunday was our annual Super Bowl sewing day. There are 5 of us in our little group (including me) and we call ourselves the Sew 'n Sews. 
We spend the day together and either work on our own projects, or sew a mystery quilt. Click here to see last year's project.
This year some of us sewed the mystery quilt called "Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue" posted over at ScrapdashThis is what I started with, using up some train themed fabrics from my stash.

A couple of us sewed all day, from 10 am to 6 pm with only a brief break for lunch. Not everyone was able to stay the whole day, but my friend Gayle did get her blocks finished and ready to sew together. Here they are laid out on the sewing table. Her fabrics are the softest flannels and will make a lovely baby quilt.

I managed to get my  blocks sewn together and the borders on. 
You can see more variations on this pattern here
Thanks to Kris for a fun pattern to sew to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday, which we like to call Super Sewl Sunday, since we are fans of sewing, not football!
If you're a fan of the commercials, the Audi 2018 Super Bowl ad gets my vote for favourite this year.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Ringo Lake

It was a great weekend here with lots of fun, sewing, and visits with friends. I'm so happy to be feeling restored to full health and able to be busy again. I have lots to post about this week, but today is the link up for the Quiltville mystery "On Ringo Lake", so I'll share that first. 
I'm loving these Ringo blocks and still have about a dozen to finish up. Isn't this a fun arrangement of 4 blocks on the ironing board?!? 
I was hoping to have my quilt top together by now, but that didn't happen. 

I decided to use the sashing blocks for the border instead, so that took extra time. And without the sashings, the blocks take a lot longer to sew together because there is so much seam matching to do. 
This is only a portion of the blocks on the design wall, and I've started to sew the blocks together in sets of four.
I'm trying to decide whether  to use the border on the top and right side, OR the left and bottom. Do you have a preference? I haven't figured out the corner blocks yet. 

In case you missed seeing my friend Sandy's finished quilt top that I posted last week, here it is again. This is the proper layout of the pattern, which has the blocks on point, the sashings and the setting triangles on the edges.

To see more Ringo Lake projects, hop over to the Quiltville link up. And to see more design wall postings, hop over to Small Quilts.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly linkup for all projects hand stitched. 
We welcome artists of all types. Yes you! The definition of "artist" is: a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. 
You are an artist if you have ever picked up a needle and thread and tried to make something with it. Your results may not have been stellar, A+, earth shattering brilliance, but it's a creative place to start your artistry.

This week I am starting a new hand stitched embroidery project. I admit that I already have a couple of hand stitching projects on the go, but not an embroidery one, so I "need" one of those at all times!
The new project is by Gail Pan, an Australian pattern designer, who just started a project called "I stitch club". It's a mystery quilt project with 36 stitching designs, 3 per month. I started on the bee hive block and this is how far I am at the moment.

I'm just using up floss scraps and making it a multicolour project. Should I show you my extraordinary organizational system for floss?

I have been enjoying a wonderful weekend visit with my long time quilty friend Louise. We have been doing some hand stitching together and welcoming the peace it brings to our very busy lives. I put in some embroidery stitches and Louise is knitting a pillow cover with this beautiful yarn.

What are you hand stitching today? Link up your blog post below and share your progress with us.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Scrappy Saturday

Purple is the colour of the month for February for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I don't have a lot of purple since I don't generally sew with it. It's one of the colours I don't usually "see".
But coincidentally I am using a purple batik for the binding on my February UFO, so I made that up. It's all ready to go on the quilt which will hopefully be ready for it some time in February.

And I made up a few more blocks for Omigosh. My box of 1" scraps was already out, so I enjoyed adding these 4 purple blocks to the gold ones I made earlier in the week.

And one more little Maverick star was made of the cut off corners from the binding construction. I fussy cut the centre and love the effect.

And now I'm on to cutting and sewing the purple blocks for the Squared Away RSC sampler quilt. Hop over to Mari's for the instructions, and to Angela's for the RSC weekly linkup.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

February UFO

Super Bowl Sunday is this weekend and you know what that means... a new Quiltbug mystery quilt is coming! It's a small size (46" square) if anyone is interested in a fun, quick project that you could use either for a baby quilt or a Quilt of Valor project in red, white and blue. The supply list can be found on the Scrapdash blog. I'll be having some friends over for the mystery quilt, so that means that first I need to finish the New Year's mystery quilt that we just made!

My February UFO goal is to baste, quilt, and bind the Scrappy Friends quilt. I have already sewn this quilt backing using up a lot of fabric leftover from sewing the quilt top. I'm ready to finish this one! Will it be done before the Super Bowl?
For sure it won't. But it might be finished by the end of February!

To see other quilty goals, hop over to the One Monthly Goal February link up.