Sunday, September 30, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party! Pull up a comfy chair, make yourself a cup of your favourite tea, and join us while we add a few stitches to our multiyear projects!

I put the blocks for my Life Is Beautiful project on the design wall this week to assess where I was with this and how far I had to go.

Here are the project stats: 

*31 embroidered patterns (there should be 32 but 1 appears to be MIA!)

*29 embroidered blocks have been appliqued to a background 4 patch block 

*19 of the embroidered blocks have been quilted

*13 of the alternate blocks (no embroidery) have been pieced and quilted

*14 alternate blocks have the 4 patches sewn and the circle appliqued, and are ready for quilting

So much work has been completed and yet, after 4 years of work, there is still so much to do!
Oh well, what can you do?!?
Just keep swimming stitching (video here). 

I maintain my enthusiasm for long term projects like this by taking occasional breaks from it. I pick up other hand stitching projects, usually embroidery or other small projects. The key to working on these long term projects is to never let it get completely "out of sight" so it doesn't drift toward "out of mind"! 
Today I will put in a few more stitches and focus on this thought: 
Everything is accomplished one slow stitch/step at a time.

Tomorrow I will be posting another little hand stitched project - a hexie block for my Save the Bees project. Hope you can drop by my blog to see it and enter your name in the giveaway draw!

What are you slow stitching today? Are you feeling a tad bit discouraged about your progress? Just keep on stitching... and link up your blog post to share your project with us.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Scrappy Saturday - Maverick Stars

Over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge it's the last week for working with navy and dark neutral scraps. 
To finish up the blue month I made a few more Maverick Star (pattern here) blocks.  These have dark backgrounds to balance out the layout a little more. They were made in leader-ender style while working on other projects this week. I am especially liking the plaid background stars and feeling the draw to work with more plaids. Maybe this is an autumn thing? Perhaps with the arrival of lower temperatures the desire increases for cosiness and comfort associated with plaids? I haven't seen any scientific studies to prove that, but it feels true! 

This is the growing pile of Maverick stars. Click here to see the entire star block collection on the design wall. 

Hop over to the RSC weekly link up and see how the quilters are finishing up the blue month.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Getting Organized - True Confessions

You may have noticed that I juggle many quilting projects all the time. It's hard for me to say "no" to more fun! That is true in all areas of my life.
One of my "areas of personal growth", previously known as "flaws", is the tendency to overwhelm myself. I can be very organized, and have adequate skills, but I fill my life with too many activities (the "why" is a whole other discussion!) As a result I sometimes feel overwhelmed and run chronically late.
I am really trying to say "NO" more often to invitations that really do not make my heart sing (and to do more actual singing). I am proud of all the projects I wanted to start this year ("squirrel") but was able to resist. I tell myself "if you feel sad and still want to make it next year, you can". I have found over time that usually the desire dissipates and another project becomes more appealing.

One of the things I really want to do is to clean up my fabric stash and be more organized. I love scrap quilting, but am not satisfied with the different organizational systems I have tried over the years. There are many bits of fabric around that look like this. 

And my cutting table is a mess because I would rather sew than clean. If I have a half hour in my day, I want to sit at the sewing machine, not tidy, fold, organize, vacuum, etc. I wish it were otherwise, but that's the way it is. I took a picture of my cutting table, but after looking at it I decided it's just too embarrassing to post.
Eventually my mess feels like it's too much, even for me, and everything has to be cleared. So I'm putting it on my calendar for this weekend and am committed to spending time doing nothing else. It's not fun and I'll be a crabby quilter until it's done I can sew again. 
And my reward for doing all that work (besides enjoying being more organized) will be to attend my local quilt guild's show this weekend!

A Gathering of Quilts is being held in Aberfoyle this weekend. You are welcome to come and visit, be inspired by over 300 amazing quilts, win one of the 150+ mini quilts being raffled, vote for your favourite quilt (for a CQA award) and buy some new fabric treats from our favourite vendors. Click here for the show facebook page. It's a lovely drive in the Aberfoyle area especially in the fall, it's a great venue, and it promises to be a fabulous event. 
Hope to see you there... and if you hear me being totally inspired and wanting to start a new project, please remind me of the above!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

September Aurifil DOM

The designer of the month for Aurifil's September block is Sharon Holland and her block is a fun version of a red/pink pieced apple - click here for the pattern. Pat Sloan made her version of a white apple which inspired me to make a two colour apple from light and aqua fabrics.

The cutting and piecing of the 42 pieces was complex, which is exactly the kind of quilt block I enjoy sewing. I was totally in my happy place! But because it was complex, I couldn't even listen to music while working on it... silence was required for concentration, and that hardly ever happens in my quilt studio. 

My 2018 Aurifil DOM blocks

Part of why it was complicated was because I had two sets of apple pieces (half white and half aqua), and two sets of background pieces (half light aqua and half black). I made it into a harder challenge than it needed to be. 
That's okay because it was FUN! 
And it gave my brain a welcomed relief from all the other regular worries of life while I was immersed in this construction project. That is just one of the many things I love about quilting!

Here are my Aurifil blocks on the design wall. The paper pieced block on the bottom left is too small... it will get some kind of border to make it larger when it's time to build the quilt.

love 💙 love 💙 love 💙 love it even more when, after all that cutting and sewing and pressing, the block turns out to be the right size!

To see more September Aurifil blocks click here to go to the linkup.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

UFO of the month

The big reveal of Kevin's mystery project called Sapphire Stars happened on October 1st last year. My version (that I am calling "Emerald Stars") got stalled at the border stage, which is typical for me when sewing a mystery. Once the mystery is revealed, and the fun sewing is done, it's harder for me to push to the end to finish the "boring borders"!
Well these borders were not boring at all, but they did involve a lot of sewing and measuring. Look how much bigger my borders were than my quilt top. I'm pretty sure that wasn't supposed to happen! LOL 
Oh well... just chop off the extra and call it "done"!
And it is done!
Almost 1 year to the day of the end of the mystery, it's finally a finished quilt top. Thank you again to Kevin for the fun mystery experience and for designing such a dynamic quilt pattern to share with us!

The clothesline photo has the sun shining on the back of the quilt which makes it look "see through", which it's not in real life. The sun does give the quilt a pretty, luminous quality though!

This is the largest quilt top I have made in a while and I think it's the only quilt I've ever made that touched the ground for the clothesline photo! It is the perfect size for my son's bed but it will be a real challenge for me to quilt on my domestic machine. 

I'm getting ready to piece a backing using a chunk of wide backing fabric that isn't quite big enough, and some of the blocks leftover from making the quilt top.

I'm very happy to share that I met my "One Monthly Goal"! 
Hop over to the September finishes link up to see the other accomplishments that happened this month.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Design Wall Monday

Julie is hosting a log cabin loonie sew-along. I have started two projects - one project uses Julie's pattern with 1" strips precut to accurate size (click here to see my first 8 log cabin blocks) and one project uses 1.25" strips using a "cut as you go" technique. 
Here are my 1.25" log cabin blocks on the design wall. I'm using a more loosey goosey kind of approach to building these log cabin blocks. Add a scrap, finger press, chop off the end and keep going around. The blocks don't all end up the exact same size with this technique, but I'm okay with that. 
I wasn't really paying attention when I started to build the blocks but realize now that some have a dark centre/light last round, and some have a light centre/dark last round. This makes them go together in a pleasing way, so I'm going to be more purposeful about getting an even balance of the light or dark centres.
I'm loving the fall colours to work on at this time of year, so I'm cutting more strips to make more blocks.
Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and the Log Cabin Loonies over at Julie's.
Happy Monday!

AND just because this made me smile... I remember going to work on a Monday morning to work at a desk that actually looked like this! 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Fall has arrived on the calendar and the weather here has finally taken a turn for the better. It has been a long hot summer here, and since fall is my favourite season, the drop in daily temperatures is a welcomed relief. We can throw open the windows, enjoy the fresh cooler air, and spend more time outside.
Yippee...quilting weather is on it's way! It's almost cool enough to get out my big hand quilting project... soon.

Gail Pan "I Stitch" blocks
For now I am working on my "I Stitch" embroidery blocks by Gail Pan. I posted my most recently finished block as my blog header photo (scroll up). And here are the blocks I have stitched so far. I am using up small pieces of leftover muslin as a base for these little embroideries which measure about 3" x 4". These blocks will be either appliqued or pieced to fabric some day. I haven't decided what I want to do with them. That's how I do prefer to do things... just start stitching (or driving, or shopping, or chatting, etc) and see what evolves. The best laid plans never work out as you think they will, so developing complex plans and expectations is just a waste of time. It's called the "go with the (creative) flow" approach to life!
Gail has sent out 24 blocks to the project subscribers so far (3 per month) so I am a bit behind. That's okay... I'm loving every slow stitch!  I have traced out a little owl design to work on today.

What are you hand stitching? Is it comfortable weather where you live and are you able to stitch outside? Link up your blog post below and share your hand stitching project with the slow stitching community. We love to see what you are creating!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Scrappy Saturday

In case you were wondering why I am not showing my September Squared Away blocks, this is why...
at the beginning of this RSC BOM  project, the very first block was supposed to be light blue. And for some unknown reason, I made my first blocks dark blue. So then September rolled around and these blocks are supposed to be dark blue, but I had already made dark blue blocks in the first month. So what to do?
There is one month left in the project so I decided to wait to see what the remaining colour will be, and then determine what colour to make my September blocks.... maybe light blue, dark green, brown, or grey.

And in the meantime, I made a dark blue Circle of Squares block while sewing at my friend Gayle's house. 

I took a "glamour shot" of the block in her beautiful  backyard. Do you see the cute little knitted monster (sitting right above my block) that Gayle was making while I was sewing? 
So cute!

It was very relaxing to sew beside the fountain and hear the calming water sounds. It was almost like being at a spa!

Here are all the blocks on the design wall. The new dark blue block is second from the left on the top row. I think I'll make 4 more blocks for this project. I'm trying not to see these blocks as ferris wheels because that makes my creative brain want to add pieces to the design to make the blocks look like wheels. I hope that thought goes away!

Anyway, that's where things are at with my RSC projects this week. To see what others are working on, hop over to the weekly link up.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mystery Top

Here is my finished Scrapdash mystery top.
It has a 3D centre which should have used the same fabric as the light background, but I prefer it with the gardening fabric in the centre. I'm planning to quilt it using the ideas on the mystery instructions for rolling the 3D edges.
I'm so intrigued that I can't wait to get this pin basted so I can start quilting! 
Anyone else sew this mystery project?!? It's a nice table topper or wallhanging sized quilt.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mid month UFO Report

My UFO project for September is Emerald Stars. I have been working on sewing the border pieces together and have made great progress. Here are the four borders ready to attach to the quilt top! 
As with all scrap projects, it makes me happy to look at the pieces and remember what the fabrics were originally for. For example the dark reds are mostly leftover from BeAttitudes, and Angel Solstice.
Although I wasn't sure about these colours together at the beginning, it has really grown on me.  My favourites are the dark green plaids (mostly leftovers from Always Home), but I've even come to like the bright green fabrics (leftovers from En Provence and Easy Street) and think they add a nice sparkle to the borders. 
It's very cool how the top and bottom borders (on the left) are different from, but similar to the side borders (on the right). I now have about 10 days before the end of the month to get these borders, plus an inner and outer dark border, attached to the quilt top in order to reach my UFO goal.
Linking up with Lorna and friends over at Let's Bee Social, and Cynthia and fellow scrappers over at Oh Scrap!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Mystery Quilt on the Design Wall

I have been working on the "Pumpkin Spice Latte" mystery quilt that started last Wednesday over at the Scrapdash blog. I didn't intend to start a new project, it just happened. I am helpless in the face of a new mystery being offered... resistance is futile. 

These are the pieces needed for one block. If you are sewing along with the mystery and don't want to know how it's going to turn out, don't read any further!

This is what the rows look like.  The pattern includes instructions for making 3D flying geese blocks, which are a little tricky but fun.

Concentration is definitely required, and the seam ripper is a necessary tool. It's so easy to get a triangle going the wrong way. The directions are great and I am following them to a 'T', including all the pressing suggestions. 

This is my first block.
Check and recheck.
I think it's all going the right way and all the pieces are where they should be.

Okay ... make 3 more the exact same.

Ta da... here they are! 
All four blocks are on the design wall. There are still pieces that were cut at the beginning that have not been used yet, so this is not the final design.  It might look something similar to this, but it might not.
The last step has been posted, but I haven't looked yet, because I do love the anticipation of a good surprise! So, I will enjoy the anticipation until I have time to sew again on Wednesday. 
Are you sewing along with this mystery? Printing it out for your "some day" pattern collection?
Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party!
The exciting news this week is that the winning name has been drawn for the photo challenge we had at the beginning of the month. The challenge was to post a photo of the view you enjoy when you are slow stitching.

The winner of the draw is...
drum roll please... 
blog entry #33 which is Kathy over at Kathy's Quilting Blog showing her view of the chicken yard and "How to be a Latin Lover"! Don't ask!! LOL
Congrats to Kathy! (so fun that here are so many quilters named Kathy, Kathleen, Kathryn, etc... it's a popular name!) I have 3 fat quarters to pop in the mail to you. Thanks to everyone for playing along... look for the next photo challenge in October!

I want to show you where I did some hand stitching last weekend. Isn't this a great view? Two of my friends were in those kayaks while I was stitching and this is the great view I was soaking up as I watched them paddle away. The weather could not have been better, and we had such a great time! I didn't get around to visit the blogs posted last weekend, but I hope to make up for it today.  I'll be visiting the link ups while I drink my morning tea and see what you have been stitching.

I have had a couple of questions lately about embroidery needles. This is my favourite needle at the moment. I like the size of the eye for using 2 or 3 strands of floss, and it's a comfortable needle length for me. Can you see the needle in the fabric beside the drawing of the needle?
This is the new pattern by Gail Pan that I plan to finish embroidering today.
So what are you hand stitching? Link up your blog post and share your progress with us. We love to see what you're working on!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Log Cabin Loonie Blocks

Did you know that today is "Sew a Jelly Roll Day"?
I had hoped to get together with some friends to sew today, but it's such a busy time of year for me that I couldn't get it organized. All my spare time has been filled with fall fairs (entering, visiting and judging). And besides... I'm not really a jelly roll kind of quilter. I don't actually own one. But I thought I could cut a bunch of the stash into strips and pretend that I had one to make a quilt out of!  Instead I hope to spend a few minutes today sewing the next step of the Scrapdash mystery.

I enjoyed cutting up some blue scraps this week and sewing the pieces for 4 mini log cabin blocks. You can see the cutting instructions on Julie's blog here.

These are my first blocks for my RSC project - orange from last month and blue for this month. With the 4 log cabin blocks sewn together the block measures 8.5" unfinished. Linking up to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and the Log Cabin Loonies.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Unusual block size

Block #13 of the Blockheads II project is a patchwork flower designed by Coriander Quilts. The finished size of the block is 6" by 18" which is a bit unusual for regular quilting patterns. There were over 40 pieces to cut out, and I made a couple of changes as I went along. 
This is the flower head which measures 6" finished. I added a little connecting corner on the blue corner blocks to round out the flower petals a little more.

Blockheads II Block #13

Here is my finished flower. I thought the bottom of the block looked a bit bare, so on my block I added another leaf to the stem on the left (the original pattern has 2 leaves).

And I gave myself a challenge by making the background from 2 slightly different directional fabrics. At times I enjoyed the challenge, and at other times (involving the seam ripper) I was not as happy with that great idea!

The photo doesn't show what the block really looks like... I think it looks much nicer (not as busy) in real life. From a distance, the background fabric makes it look like it is raining on the flower.

Sewing this block was a fun brain snack for me this week. It reminded me that sometimes I really enjoy the math and the precision construction aspects of quilt making. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

New Mini Mystery

Uh oh... I'm having a flare up of startitis!

Because I don't have much to work on here (*snort*) I thought I'd start the new project over at Scrapdash. It combines two of my favourite things - minis AND mysteries! It's called "Pumpkin Spice Latte", so it tastes good too! The quilt will finish at 25", has just over 100 pieces to cut, and the 4 steps are posted over 4 days. 
Because it's a small project, you really don't need much fabric. I just pulled these pieces out of the fabric I received from my friend Helen's stash.

One of the keys to making mystery quilts is having enough contrast in the fabric selection. If there is not enough contrast, the intended design won't be as visible.

I did a contrast check by taking a photo of my fabrics and changing it to black and white. This removes the colour contrast and you can see the value. There's not much difference between the green and blue fabrics, but there was enough to make me happy enough to use them. You can see in the above photo that my pieces are cut and I'm ready for step #2 which will be posted today!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Blockheads II Update

Jace's Star Block #12

Are you participating in the Blockheads II project this year? Last year's was fun, but this year is even topping that!
I just finished pattern #12 which is called Jace's star by Lisa Bongean. This is a 6" block and was quite a challenge, which my favourite kind of block! 
I think there are 48 pieces in this little block.

Some of the pieces are very small. Just look at these Half Square Triangle (HST) blocks in the palm of my hand. They are tiny! At this size, each piece has to be exactly the right measurement. Some quilters think to themselves "these pieces look so small, I'll just add a wee bit extra to be sure". 
Trust me - resist the urge to make the any pieces bigger. They need to be exactly 1.25" and not one thread more for everything to fit together accurately. The HST's finish at .75" in the block.

Here are all the 6" blocks for this project on my design wall. There are 7 blocks in this size so far. They are so darn cute. The Moda website says the next 13 blocks posted (at 2 a week) will be 6" blocks, so soon I will have quite a collection. 

I am now 3 blocks behind, but will catch up as I always do. Before launching into the 6" blocks I am looking forward to sewing block #13 which is a Patchwork Flower with an odd measurement of 6.5" x 18.5". I pretty sure I've never made a block this size before, so this will be a first for me. Look for this block in the next week or two.

Linking up to Design Wall Monday over at Small Quilts.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party!
It has been such a busy week for me that I did not take one single stitch by hand  *gasp* 
That hardly ever happens in my life because I try not to let it happen, and I know it's not good for my health!

But I intend to make up for it today and have traced a new I Stitch embroidery pattern to work on. Isn't this a fun design for a slow stitcher?!?  Spools, scissors, threaded needle, button and thimble ... adorable!

Did you participate in the photo challenge last week? If not, you still have time. Share a photo in your blog link up showing us what your view is when you are slow stitching. Where is your favourite place to sit? Last week we saw some lovely places - your porch, your view from the quilting frame, your patio, and the beautiful nature scenes you enjoy. I'll draw a winner tomorrow from both link ups. Thanks for playing along!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Scrappy Saturday

Dark blue is the colour of the month at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I have been working on a new quilt I started in a class last month. The blocks are called Anita's Arrowhead and they finish at 9". Here are the first 30 blocks on the design wall. 
A beautiful sea of blueness!
This isn't the layout. It's just the block collection so far. I'll probably make double this number of blocks because I love it, I have a lot of blue fabric to use up, and I want it to be a bed sized quilt.
I'm also making a mini version of this block which I showed last week. Those blocks finish at 3".
Hop over to the weekly RSC link up to see what the quilters are sewing with their blue fabric scraps!

Thursday, September 06, 2018

September UFO

This month I am going to finish the quilt top that Kevin designed as a mystery project last summer. His pattern is called Sapphire Stars, but I made my version with green, so I call my quilt Emerald Stars.
You can see Kevin's finished quilt here.  I have the inner part of the quilt together (don't mind the mistake block that still has to be fixed!) but there is a lot of border work to do on this quilt. It's the borders that get me everytime because that's my least favourite quilting task.
And when there are several borders... ugh.
But I know it's worth all the work and it will look good when it's done. I just have to FOCUS!
Linking up to the September goal setting party over at One Monthly Goal.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Quick Small Finish

Helen's tablerunner kit  provided some wonderful instant gratification and I finished it in record time! It was fun to quilt concentric lines radiating from the centre of the courthouse step blocks. Since I used a free motion foot for the quilting, I could easily stitch in any direction (feed dogs dropped, stitch length on zero). I used a hera marker to mark some lines to stitch on, which  helps me to make those longer lines a little bit straighter.

All of the fabric for this project was from the kit, except the backing which came from the gift box I received from Helen's family. I plan to gift this to Helen's son and family at Christmas. I am also planning to sew a baby quilt to give to Helen's granddaughter (baby due in February) made from her fabrics. 

This photo was taken in my friend's garden on the day I finished the binding. It was a lovely afternoon of outdoor hand stitching!
Linking up to Sew Fresh Quilts.