Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Beginning of Good Fortune!

I really dragged (drug??) my feet on making my fabric selections for the Good Fortune mystery quilt. It was a perfect excuse to go fabric shopping, but I couldn't justify the expense when I have so much in the stash. But truthfully, it's just not as exciting to sew with old fabric sometimes. So I gave myself a stern talking to and reminded myself that I have loved all of Bonnie Hunter's mysteries and even old fabric can look terrific in her complex quilt designs.
Good Fortune fabrics
This is the fabric that I pulled from the stash. There are scraps, strips, partial hunks, and some fat quarters. The blues on the left are much prettier than they look on the computer screen. They are mostly "Kansas Troubles" scraps I bought a long time ago and haven't used up.
Bonnie is using blue, green, red, orange, and neutral. I am substituting gold for orange but don't think I have enough of the gold, so I will get to buy some new pieces to mix in after all!

My regular machine is set up for machine quilting En Provence, so I decided to make the blocks for this quilt on my treasured vintage sewing machines. It's important for these old gals to have regular workouts in order for them to stay in good working order. This project is a good opportunity to give all the machines some attention.
Step #1 was sewn on Charity my 1953 black Featherweight. It started off sewing a little bit loud, so I opened up the spool pin cover plate and added some oil to the 6 recommended locations on the top of the machine.

It sounded so much better after it had a good drink of oil and was running more smoothly. 
Step #1 involved a lot of easy strip sewing to make 4 patches. Since I had decided to try to keep up with the mystery posts by sewing half of the units, it was finished in no time. 

Here are my blocks pinned together in sets as Bonnie taught me. It's such a great tip to easily keep track of the sewing progress. 
Hop over to Quiltville to see the first link up for Good Fortune. 
And PS... I ordered one of Bonnie's newly released books for myself for Christmas!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Design Wall Monday

Am I crazy to have 2 mystery quilts on the go at this busy time of the year?!? 
Don't answer that!
First up is the Temecula Secret Santa mystery. The final step was posted on Friday and I am not even close to finishing my blocks. I am sewing these blocks on my 221K White Featherweight. Everything is more fun to sew on this lovely machine, and although she is 53 years old, she still sews like a dream! 

This has been such a great project to work on and I'm really happy with how my fabric choices are working out. It's a labour intensive undertaking since here are a lot of pieces in these blocks - 97 pieces to be exact! 
Here are my first 3 blocks on the design wall. I just need to sew 9 more of these and figure out the sashing. Sharon told me that this block pattern is called Burgoyne Surrounded, so I looked it up. Yes indeed, that is what we are making! 
Tomorrow I'll update the Quiltville mystery that I've also started working on.
Hop over to Small Quilts to see more design wall posting.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Happy Thanksgiving to our American friends who are celebrating this week! Where I live here in Canada, this is just the worst time of year. Our Thanksgiving is in October, so there are no happy holidays in November, the beautiful colours of fall are gone, there is less natural light due to "daylight savings",  and the cold winter weather descends.

In the cycle of life, it's the time for hibernation, when we crawl into our caves, try to keep warm, and sleep until better weather returns.
Our modern day life does not allow that cycle, and we have to work just as much in November as in any other month of the year. But we can be sure to follow the healthy practice of having one day of rest each week.

Sunday is our day to rest and be thankful.
And stitch.
This is a terrible photo (taken late last night) of the embroidery block I'll be working on today. You can see that my pink Frixion pen died while I was tracing the design, and I had to finish  with a blue pen.

I look forward to relaxing, stitching and visiting the link ups below to see what you are hand stitching today.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Quilting En Provence

The goal of finishing my En Provence quilt (before the new Quiltville mystery starts tomorrow) has been abandoned since there are still only 24 hours in the day! I guess you all saw that decision coming. The quilting does continue, but at a much less frantic pace with an end goal of finishing it in 2018!

Plan ahead!
It seems to me that people usually quilt in the same way they live, and complete other tasks like driving or shopping, etc. Some  folks always have a detailed plan based on a lot of thought, research and discussion. These types of quilters study their project, think about the options, practice their ideas, and create a design so they know how it's all going to turn out before they even start to quilt the project. That approach often makes tasks (including quilting) seem too overwhelming to me and has prevented me from even starting to quilt a project in the past.

Now, I just start quilting when I know what design I want to start with. I don't have to know the entire plan... just the beginning step. In doing this I recognize the risk of making errors as shown in the "You had one job" pictures above! I may run out of thread, do things upside down, turn straight lines into wavy lines, etc. 
I'm fine with that! After all the quilts I've made, I have learned that all of the mistakes I've made are mostly only noticed by me. 
Now I just quilt wherever I am inspired to do so...
I knew that I wanted to quilt curves along the navy blue diagonal chains, so I just started with that. 
My approach is to do some thinking and planning. I'm not totally impulsive, but I do not make the entire plan or get attached to any specific idea or outcomes. I know many people like to quilt straight lines either in the seam lines or beside them, but I'm at a stage now of preferring to stitch curved lines using my free motion quilting feet.

When the blue chains were finished, I was drawn to work on the pink stars. I changed to pink thread and quilted some curved lines on the pink stars. There are 16 stars and one is already done!
I'm not sure yet about the inside of the star and the outside neutral pieces. I am hoping to figure out how to create a continuous line design to quilt both areas with only 1 start and stop.
What do you prefer to do with your machine quilting? Are you a methodical "plan ahead" quilter, a "figure it out as you go" quilter, or a "quilt by cheque" quilter?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Mysterious Decisions

As my regular blog readers know, I never miss a Bonnie Hunter mystery. She has posted the fabric requirements for her new mystery called "Good Fortune" and the first step will be released on Black Friday.
I have been assessing what my current stash situation is, what fabrics would I like to use up, and considering what colour combinations I feel like working with for the next several months.

"Double Delight" border print on the right  

Here are the things I have learned from sewing the mysteries over the years:

*One of my favourite ways to start a mystery quilt is to pick a fabulous border print and pull the mystery colours from that print. I did that with Double Delight and loved the outcome (you can see it here). I was nervous about putting the yellowy green with the aqua, but the border print had them both and looked lovely together, so I trusted that combination.

"En Provence" fat quarters

I also like starting with a special collection of fabrics that I love, and then add in scraps from my stash. I did this with En Provence starting with the Good Neighbors fabric line and adding in scraps from my stash. That method also turned out great.

"Grand Illusion" yardage
*I learned from making Grand Illusion that I am a scrappy quilter and am not happy when working with chunks of yardage. It's the same quilt making process, but my enjoyment is directly connected to having a lot of variety in the fabrics I am using. The more scraps there are, the happier I am. So no more yardage mystery quilts for me!

"On Ringo Lake" blocks

*It usually takes me a year to get the entire top together and sometimes another year (or more!) to finish the quilt. I mostly enjoy the piecing stage, and I adore making complex blocks with tons of little pieces which Bonnie's patterns usually have.

*The mystery quilts I have actually finished are the ones that are smaller in size and easier to quilt on my sewing machine. 
Finished "Angel (Celtic) Solstice"
This photo is my version of Celtic Solstice and it's one of my favourite quilts that I made from start to finish.
If the project becomes too large, I think about sending it out for quilting. But then I think about that decision for many years and don't actually follow through, and it doesn't get finished!
This year's mystery pattern is 72" square and I'm predicting that I will be able to finish that size within a year. And am also predicting that I will want to make it into a rectangle instead of a square quilt.

Are you planning to join in the Good Fortune mystery that starts on Friday?!? Stay tuned to see my fabric decisions!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Prepping En Provence

Quilt top, Warm and Natural batting, and pieced backing

I have some self imposed pressure going on this week. The new Quiltville mystery starts this Friday and I just got "a bee in my bonnet" about finishing one of the previous mysteries.
I pieced a backing, cut a piece of Warm and Natural batting off the roll, and got the quilt top ready to baste. Here is a photo of the stack of the 3 required elements in quiltmaking.

Everything is ready to move to the next step which is basting the 3 layers together. I clamp the backing to the table, and carefully lay out the batting and quilt top. I take extra time to smooth out the layers to make sure that there are no folds or wrinkles. Then the pin basting starts with my favourite basting tool - the Kwik Klip. It takes me about an hour to put all the pins in. You can see a good pin basting tutorial over at Crazy mom Quilts. The two differences between how Amanda Jean and I pin baste our quilts is 1) I work on tables and could never do this on the floor due to knee pain, and 2) I use the Kwik Klip tool.

Okay... the quilt is pin basted, and the next step is to pick the threads for quilting. This is one of my favourite jobs. I like to use lots of different threads and switch colours regularly. Here are my Aurifil choices for En Provence ... yellow, white, pink, navy, blue, and green.

The next decision is what quilting pattern to stitch.
Stay tuned!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Design Wall Monday

The Arrowhead project is back on the design wall this week. Several sections are sewn together and some partial columns. 
You can see I decided to work in 3 vertical sections and have them labelled with a little piece of paper at the top of each section.
I'm very happy with how it is turning out and am in the process of making 9 more blocks to make it a bit longer. 
Hop over to Small Quilts to see more design wall activities.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

It's time to pick up your hand stitching project and put in some stitches. You will immediately notice the health benefits of breathing more slowly, clearing your mind to focus on a simple task, and feeling more relaxed as you enjoy creating more stitches in a project that you have chosen. Even if you just put in a few stitches, you will benefit, and your project will be closer to completion. 

Slow Down

This is what I'm doing today... reminding myself to smile, breathe, and slow down. I hope to be putting a few stitches in an embroidery block that I have been working on for 2 weeks and have accomplished so little that I can't even bring myself to show you a photo of it! 
Maybe next week!

Please encourage us slow, slow, slow stitchers by sharing your progress on your hand stitched projects.
Happy Slow Sunday Stitching!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Squared Away

October was the last month for making sampler blocks for the Squared Away project. November is for figuring out the layout, and December will be finishing the quilt (a very optimistic plan!)
I made my month #10 blocks (call "Dewey Dream") in dark green. One of my favourite parts of sewing scrap blocks is finding light and dark scraps that play well together. These blocks are some of my favourite mixes.

The last colour to be added to my project is brown. It just seemed to need the warmth that brown brings. I sewed these last block sets on my white Featherweight 221K sewing machine. 

For my last blocks I used the bonus block pattern called Rolling 9 Patch. Instead of using squares as the pattern shows, I used rectangles and sewed them together using a partial seam. It's a fun block addition to the sampler.

I am so happy to have finished all my Squared Away blocks!

And here are all the blocks on the design wall.
This it the orderly straight set layout that would measure approximately 21" x 55". That's a weird size for a quilt so that won't be my choice

Here is a straight set having 5 blocks across and the colours layed out kind of diagonal. It would measure about 27" x 43".

This is what the blocks look like on point which would measure approximately 38" square. It might be fun to make more blocks next year to add as borders for this layout.

To see what other scrap quilters are making today, hop over to the weekly link up.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Secret Santa Update

Step #3 - Nine Patch blocks

Are you following along with the Temecula Christmas mystery? It is a lot of sewing! So far we have sewn 176 blocks in a month.

My favourite blocks are these little 9 patches. 
I found some novelty fabrics in the scrap bin and fussy cut angels, Santa faces and stars for some of the centre squares that finish at 3/4"... very cute!

Here is my bin of finished parts. I have not yet finished the 48 four patch units, but they are underway and will be finished in time for the reveal of step #5 today... can't wait to see what we are making next. 
Hop over to Temecula Quilts to see what the next step is! Have I mentioned that I love mystery quilts?!?!

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!