Monday, January 21, 2019

A Big Tiny Distraction

Did you see the "super wolf blood moon" last night?  It was a total lunar eclipse and the sky was clear to see it well. However, I was not able to stay up until 2:45 am to see the entire thing. Maybe I could blame the full moon on my latest distraction?  At the January quilt guild meeting an anonymous person donated a little bag of 1.5" HST blocks to the scrap bin. I couldn't believe it when I saw them all sewn and pressed and perfectly sized. Of course I couldn't leave those sweet little treasures behind, so I adopted them. 

And every time I was sewing something else this past week, they were calling to me!
I spent time arranging the 128 blocks into different layouts, and trying to figure out a design that would use up all the blocks.
Eventually I settled on these odd blocks. Each block uses 8 HSTs and I was able to make 16 of them. This really appealed to me for some unknown reason.

I had many fun moments playing with layout ideas that would use every single block. I did not have any of the salmon coloured fabrics in my stash, and decided to add a solid white to set the blocks. I liked this layout, but it would be hard to sew since I already had the 8 HSTs sewn together in blocks. If I would have thought of this layout before I sewed them together, I would have gone with this idea. But I was not going to unsew them all!

So this is the layout I finally  decided on. 
It's so cute and measures 13" x 16". I'm going to add a larger white border around the outside and then it will be ready to be made into a quilting sandwich.

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

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Hand Quilting

It's time for some Slow Sunday Stitching!
Take out your hand stitching project and enjoy some relaxation. Try not to think about your "to-do" list, or ruminate about your worries. Just take a mental health stitching break, and focus on pulling threads through fabric, one stitch at a time. Breathe deeply and relax.

I worked on some hand quilting this week that wasn't very relaxing. I started with outline stitching the hexagon blocks on my Save The Bees quilt. But it was hard work and not as enjoyable as I had envisioned. Perhaps it was because I couldn't find the right needle for the job, or maybe it was the Warm and Natural batting that isn't good for hand quilting?

I tried a few different needles but the it needed to have a large enough eye for 3 strands of floss, yet be sharp and narrow enough to go through the quilt layers easily. Although it was hard on my hands (the circular needle pull was helpful) I  persevered to get it done. I had planned to outline each hexagon but decided just to go around the outside of the grouping of them instead. 

Once that job was done I treated myself to some relaxing hand quilting and finished another Life is Beautiful alternate block. It has vertical and horizontal lines stitched through the middle of the block, and then two circles to stitch. I also make a large basting stitch around the outside of the block to keep it in good condition while it sits for years in the refrigerator waiting for the rest of the project to be made. 

See the block pile on the right hand side of the top shelf? The fridge is not being used for food storage and it makes a great block storage unit! You can see the Omigosh blocks on the left side of the top shelf, the Maverick stars on the bottom left, little Arrowhead blocks in the middle, and I don't know what that is on the bottom right!
So today I'll be quilting another Life is Beautiful block to add to the growing pile of finished blocks.
What are you hand stitching today? 
Link up your blog post below and share your project with us!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Save The Bees Update

Jacquelynne Steeves is hosting a Grand Prize Giveaway as a Grand Finale of the Save the Bees BOM. As if it isn't generous enough of her to share this pattern freely with all of us, now you can win more prizes! Hop over to the giveaway post here, and enter your name to win.

I was hoping to have my finished quilt to show you today, but it's not even close to being finished. That's what happens when you have a creative brain with more ideas than the schedule has time for. 

I pin basted the quilt using my favourite tool called the "Kwik Klip" which makes it so easy to put in and close hundreds of basting pins in a short amount of time. 
I was planning to do easy straight line quilting which would have been finished in a jiffy, but I kept getting ideas for custom quilting each block in a different way. 

I quilted in all the seam lines ("stitch-in-the-ditch) around each block and each border. 
Then I outline stitched in some of the blocks around the shapes, like around these hexagon shapes. Next I want to hand quilt about 1/4" inside each hexagon in a brown thread. On the right side of the photo you can see the gold backing fabric. 

Here I am free motion stitching the bee's trail, and then stitched around each leaf and flower petal.

This is how my quilt looks at the moment. 
There are still lots of basting pins in and I want to stitch around the letters to make sure they are permanently fastened to the quilt. 
Then I will fix up the face on the pieced bee block, and plan to add a few more embellishments by hand. I haven't figured out how to quilt the borders yet. Do you have any ideas to share with me?!?  As you can see, I have several more hours of work to do before I get to the binding stage (which is my favourite)!

Monday, January 14, 2019

New Year Mystery

None of the New Year's mysteries posted on line this year seemed doable to me. For a mystery quilt to be manageable for me, it needs to have 4 or 5 fabrics maximum. It's hard for me to pick 8 fabrics from my stash that "work" together without seeing the quilt design. 
So I found an older mystery on line that just needed 4 fabrics, and got together with some friends to sew it on New Years Day
I used my deceased brother's shirts for this project. I had deconstructed the shirts (refer to Bonnie Hunter's Scraps and Shirttales books for tips) and have been looking for the perfect project to use up this fabric.
However, this turned out to be a stressful experience, with lots of bias seams, pieces not matching well, lots of fudging (stretching and swearing) going on, several bouts of unstitching (more swearing), and one pattern cutting error that meant we had too few pieces to sew our blocks. I won't post the link to the pattern because it was really not an enjoyable experience to sew it.

Just look at these block edges... some of them are 1/4" out. I rarely have this problem when I'm sewing because I'm quite meticulous about the 1/4" seam. But this quilt... well, all of us found it challenging from start to finish.

I did make it extra challenging by using directional fabrics, but that was one of the easiest factors to sort out. And I'm happy with how all the stripes are going.

The positive part is that we did have a great day together, talking about what we are planning to do in the new year, and enjoying good food. And we managed to sew many quilt blocks that are missing lots of points! 

Here are my 9 blocks on the design wall. I can't tell you how many hours were spent on unsewing and resewing, and trying to get the darn blocks to be close to the right size. The blocks are ready to sew together and next come the borders.
Linking up to Design Wall Monday over at Small Quilts.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the Slow Sunday Stitching linky party! If you enjoy hand stitching of any kind, then you have found your tribe! You are welcome to join us here every Sunday and learn how we keep ourselves stitched together... it's one stitch at a time!

I've had a long and tiring week, so today (once I cook brunch for the family, clean up and wash the dishes, and then drive my daughter to get the bus home - which is at least a 2 hour production for me) I intend to put my feet up and enjoy some hand stitching time. I long for the "mindless needle pulling thread" feeling. I'll be working on the same Gail Pan embroidery block that I've been slowly working on for a couple of weeks. I have the fence posts stitched, but it's slow going. That's how life feels in the middle of the winter... like moving slowly through mud, with extraordinary effort, but not much productivity. I am familiar with this midwinter feeling, and I know it will pass, so I slowly stitch on! 
What are you hand stitching today? I look forward to being inspired by your hand stitching posts. Thank you for sharing!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Scrappy Saturday

January is red month over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, so I am playing in the red scraps this month. 
Red Log Cabin Loonie block
Last year Julie hosted a log cabin loonie quilt along and I enjoyed making those blocks so much that I am continuing this project into 2019. You can get the cutting instructions at Julie's blog if you want to try one. The log cabin blocks are make with 1" strips and measure 4.5". When you put 4 blocks together, you get this great block which is 8.5".
The red block joins 4 other finished blocks from last year, but it is awkward to take a good photo of 5 blocks, so here are 4 of them. There is also an orange block just out of view.

What are you sewing with your red scraps this week? Hop over to the weekly link up to see what other RSC'ers  are up to.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

One of the challenges of blogging

It is important to me to take good quality photos of my quilts and quilting adventures to post on my blog, but some days it is a real challenge. This week my friend Gayle (and her dog Molly) helped me to take a photo of my recently finished "En Provence" quilt. I do love photo shoot outings (see some of my favourites here, here, and here).
First you have to find the perfect location to take a photo. 
Isn't this a great rail fence?!?
Then you have to manage the weather conditions. As soon as we found the perfect place, the wind picked up and the quilt kept falling off the fence. We tried to think of different ways to drape it and put things on it to hold the quilt in place.
Too Windy

Photo shoot assistants put sticks and rocks on the quilt to hold it down.
Then the sun came out... say what?!?!? We haven't seen the sun in days! Yet there it was, making the quilt look too back lit. But we were very happy to see the sun, so we just soaked up some vitamin D, and waited for a few minutes until it was gone again.

Too Sunny

Then it started to snow and about an hour later it looked like this outside. So of course I had to go out again to take another photo and see what it would look like. 
Too snowy
Even though it was challenging to get a good photo, it was also a fun outing in the forest. Here is the shot that I decided on for the blog header. 
Just right!

For more information on this quilt, click here to read all about it. Okay... now I'm back inside to do some actual sewing so I'll have more quilts to share. Inside photos are so much easier to take!

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Stringing Along

Since my String-Along blog post I have been sewing up the strings in my scrap bins. I'm trying out a "quilt-as-you-go" version of string piecing, sewing scraps onto long pieces of batting. 

You know the pieces you cut off the sides of quilts? We all have these batting scraps, but what to do with them?
I have written a few blog posts over the years about how I have used batting scraps such as joining them together into larger pieces, using them in small projects, for dog beds, etc.

Now I am using the long pieces in a string piecing project. It's a bit of a challenge to deal with the long units, and you can see how I have rolled up the excess and clipped it together on the ends. That has worked fairly well.

As I'm sewing, I've been singing to myself a song called "Swinging Along", which is a song my parents used to sing in the car when we went on childhood holidays. It brings me very happy memories! Of course I change the lyrics to "stringing along" LOL
I'm making a version of a quilt from Gwen Marston's book called String Quilts for Bea's "Dust off a quilt book" blog hop in February. I'm off to a good start and am happy with how it's coming along. The great thing about this method is once the strings are sewn together, it's already quilted. 

I do find that I can only work on a string project for a certain period of time, and then I start to feel overwhelmed by the disaster of a mess that gets generated from the scraps. I'll work on this periodically as mess tolerance allows and hope to finish it in time for the blog hop next month.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Good Fortune on the Design Wall

The big reveal of the Quiltville mystery was posted on Friday. It's a very beautiful and complex design, with two alternating blocks and a few pieced borders. 
I had been sewing half the units in an effort to keep up with the mystery adventure over the holidays and thought I would just make a smaller lap quilt. But I really like how the finished quilt looks, so the plan of the moment is to keep making more blocks for a larger quilt. 
I had enough part and pieces to sew 24 blocks and here they are on the design wall. I would like to make 11 more blocks for a layout of 5 blocks across and 7 blocks down.
This will be a good  project to sew at quilt retreat so it might go into storage until then.
Linking up to Small Quilts and Quiltville link up

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Slow Sunday Stitching Goals

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party! Pull up a chair, make a cup of tea or coffee, and enjoy a few moments visiting hand stitchers around the world. It's so fun to see the creative ideas that other folks are working on.

Since it's the first link up of the year, I'm thinking about the top 3 hand stitching projects that I'd like to focus on in 2019.

1) "I Stitch" BOM by Gail Pan -  Many happy hours were spent last year stitching these sweet little blocks. I have a few more designs to embroider and am still thinking about how I want to put these blocks together.

2) Life is Beautiful - This has been one of my favourite projects for the past 4 years. I have greatly enjoyed each step along the way... the hand embroidery, appliquéing all the circles, and hand quilting the blocks. I would like to finish the quilting this year and get started on the process of joining the blocks together in the quilt-as-you-go style. 

3) I intend to continue the hand quilting on my oldest UFO. I still enjoy the process and do make slow and steady progress throughout the winter.

We thank you for all the ways in which you contribute to Slow Sunday Stitching... 
by joining the linky party with your blog posts, by visiting the stitchers who've linked up, and by encouraging them with your comments. We all know that when you've been working on a hand made project for years, it does help to increase the motivation to continue when someone cheers you on! 
Let's see what your hands are stitching at the beginning of  2019!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, January 05, 2019

One Monthly Goal

It's hard to pick one of the projects on my lengthy UFO list (on the right sidebar) to focus on in January. But I finally decided that I will try to finish the Circle of Squares quilt. The quilt top was pieced in December and I have some ideas for how I want to quilt it, and want to get going on it. I want to "strike while the iron is hot", so to speak!

The first 3 steps are to prepare a backing, cobble together some batting scraps, and start the pin basting. Then the fun part starts!

Linking up to One Monthly Goal.

Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2019

It is exciting to be starting another year with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I have several ongoing scrappy projects that will be carried into 2019 for scrappy additions.

*Mini Arrowhead Blocks - these are 3.5" blocks made from 4.25" squares (pattern here and cutting for alternate sizes here). They are fun and quick and I'll add a few more each month. I made 2 red blocks to add to the collection this week.

*I will be on the look out for more 5" block patterns to add to my RSC 2018 Squared Away BOM.

*Maverick Stars - I really like this block and how the layout I have chosen works so well with the light and dark backgrounds.I'll make more blocks this year to make the quilt larger.

*Omigosh - this quilt needs over two hundred 5" blocks and I have made just over half of them. I save all my 1" squares and strips for these blocks. I think I will be making them until I die :)

*Mini log cabins - this was a new project in 2018 that was sparked by Julie's Log Cabin Loonies (cutting instructions here). It's such a great block pattern for using up tiny strips. I will continue adding blocks to the collection this year, starting with sewing a red block today! 

*Scrappy sprouts - It seems I only want to work on this in the spring when it's gardening time. The rest of the year it seems to languish without much attention from me.

*Alamo stars - this project is entering it's 8th year and I've lost interest in making any more blocks for it, so it's time to get this one done. I have never put them up on the design wall together, so maybe that will happen this month?

Hop over to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge link up.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Elsie 221 Featherweight

Since posting about my new (to me) old vintage machine, and receiving some email questions about her, I realized I needed to write a whole post about this lovely machine.
Elsie 221
It has been sitting used for many years. You can see that there is residue from a piece of tape that was stuck on the machine, likely as a seam allowance guide. Even after a lot of elbow grease, I was unable to get it all off, but it's better than it was.

Vintage Singer Needles
I was gifted this machine by someone I didn't know very well, but she knew I was a quilter and wanted to give her special sewing machine to me. I know the value of this gift and was reluctant to accept it for a while. It had been sitting in her closet for a long time, and then it sat in my closet for a long time, while I slowly came around to accepting this generous gift. Elsie joins my sewing machine collection (otherwise known as "the herd") as machine #17 - you can read about the others here.

Using the Singer Featherweight webpage on dating machines, I discovered that this machine with serial number EG642139 was born on May 16, 1951 which makes her 67 years old!

One of the very special things about this machine is because she was born in 1951, which was Singer's centennial year, it has a special badge that says "A century of sewing service" on the blue oval edge of the badge.

wrong position
After dismantling, cleaning, oiling and checking all the working parts, I couldn't get it sewing properly. But I had forgotten one important feature of Featherweight machines. 
Okay... see how the "positioning finger" is at the 9 o'clock position? 
right position
It must be at the 12 o'clock position. After removing the faceplate and cleaning the years of gunk under there, I had not repositioned it correctly. 
That problem had me stumped for a while, but once I solved that problem, it sewed perfectly. The tension was exact and she may now be my new favourite machine!
This is the box of accessories that came with her. Only one of these bobbins is for the 221 machine (the top left one) so I'm not sure what machine the other bobbins are for.

And sew... as soon as I'm done work, I'll be in the sewing room with Elsie to start sewing the last step of Good Fortune. Bonnie surprised the quilting world with posting the mystery design reveal this morning. Can't wait to put some blocks together to see how my version of the quilt will look!

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Good Fortune Update

To sew step #6 of the Good Fortune mystery quilt I got out an old Singer Featherweight that hasn't been seen on my blog to date.  
This sewing machine has been sitting in her black box for at least 20 years.
Since I decided to sew this year's mystery on my vintage machines, I got out this old gal for the first time to see what kind of condition she was in. I cleaned and oiled all the parts and pieces, played with the tension, wound a bobbin, solved a few problems (will write about those another time) and got it sewing perfectly. 

I strip sewed all the units on phone book paper. I tried sewing the big pieces with long strips, and then trimming them to the correct size when completed, but it was not as much fun for me as sewing on smaller pieces and using up the smaller scraps.

The paper removal is quite boring, but I didn't hate doing it. I just would just prefer to be sewing instead of ripping paper. I could definitely see the benefit of piecing on paper for stability with bias edges and angles.

And as soon as I had finished step #6, step #7 appeared, so I finished up those units too. It was a quick step to sew. Here are some of my red 16 patch blocks on the design wall and the rest of the blocks in a storage bin waiting to see what happens next.

Hop on over to this week's Good Fortune linky party and the Let's Bee Social party.