Thursday, January 31, 2019

UFO of the Month Report

auditioning threads

January's UFO was a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project called Circle of Squares. The blocks were started in June 2016 and used up 160 different 2.5" squares.
It was great fun to gather threads to match the colours in each block for the machine quilting. 

I started quilting each block with a free form spiral in the centre using neutral thread, and rotating out in larger circles until I reached the coloured squares. Then I changed threads to match the colour of the squares (red on this block) and quilted 3 or 4 more large circles through the coloured squares. The circles are quite wonky and wobbly in places, but it was fun.

After quilting the circular designs, there was a space in the block corners that needed more quilting. I had planned to make more circles in that space, but decided on this curved diamond shape.

On the edges I quilted a curved half diamond shape. Can you see it in this photo of hand stitching the binding? The binding pieces were from my basket of binding leftovers. It's fun to try to remember which quilt binding each of the pieces are from.

The finished quilt measures 48" x 60".

It is a wonderful  collection of the scraps of fabrics that have travelled through my quilt studio the past 2 years. I thought I would donate this quilt to the guild comfort quilt collection, but I love it so much that I'm going to keep it for a little while until I'm ready to part with it.

Linking up to One Monthly Goal January Finishes linky party with my first finish of 2019!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Hand Piecing Quilt Along

The second block was posted this week for the Hand Piecing Quilt Along that Patty and Kristin are hosting.
Last week we worked with squares and this week we pieced HSTs. The tutorial for block #2 is here. It was very relaxing and I'm pleased with how it turned out. 

block #2 front
A winter snow storm raged outside while I calmly stitched in my warm house, feeling all the relaxing benefits of hand stitching. Today the temperature here will feel like minus 32 degrees Celsius! 
Best to stay inside and sew! 

block #2 back
Patty also posted an interesting tutorial for how to spin the seams. Here is how my block looks on the back since I read the tutorial... so cool. 
There is some bulk on 2 of the HST corners that wanted to be pressed the other way, but I managed to flatten it out.

So then I thought I'd repress block #1 and I think I scorched it???? Look at how brown those light squares are in the green 4 patch block!!!
I've never had that happen before and my iron was set at cotton as always. 
Can anything be done to fix that or should I take it apart and replace the light squares?
Linking up to week #2 linky party at Elm Street Quilts.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Resisting Temptation... and not!

I am trying to be strong.
I am resisting the temptation to start more new projects when I have so many projects on the go that I really like and want to finish. But I had a brief flare up of Startitis last week and started 2 new quilt along projects. 
I started the Temecula One Block Wednesday (red and white blocks lower left side) and I started the Hand Piecing quilt along. I also started a new RSC project called Economy Path (red and white blocks upper left side) made from a Blockheads pattern. When my friend Sandy came over to sew she admitted that she had just started the Stash Buster Challenge from Border Creek Station and her 15 blocks are made from HST blocks (on the right of the photo).
New Quilt Alongs on the design wall
So I am giving myself credit for not starting the following quilt alongs that I want to join:
*the Temperature Quilt Along
*The Canadian Quilters Association's 52 blocks in 52 weeks project. There are posting a weekly 6" pattern each week on their website. 
*Harry Potter Quilt Along 
*Out of this World Quilt Along
*Daisy Chain Mystery Quilt Along
*Garden Sunshine BOM
*Rockin Rectangles Quilt Along
*Stars in Her Crown Quilt Along
Do I want to participate in these?!?

Will I participate?
NO! (hopefully not!)

There is so much fun to be had, and still only 24 hours in the day!
Do you have tips on how to resist starting wonderful new projects?!?!
Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Monday Making.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Slow Sunday Stitching - Achieving Your Goals?

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching link up! We are an international gathering of folks who like to be creative with our hand stitching.

starting needle turn appliquéd circle

Is it terrible to admit that I'm not a very goal driven person?  I don't keep a life planner, set resolutions, maintain daily or weekly goal lists, and have no idea most of the time where my life is headed! I have become a "live in the moment according to my values" kind of person and just follow whatever my heart tells me most of the time.
I've been thinking a lot about this after reading the thought provoking post on Diary of a Quilter. It was terrific food for thought and I recommend a read and reflection of how it fits for you. I do like suggestion #2, I am terrible at #5, and would love to focus on #10 all the time! 
Oh and I'm 99% sure there will never be a day when I use a planner for quilting projects! 
starting needle turn appliquéd star
But my Slow Sunday Stitching time is devoted to total relaxation, focused on breathing, stitching and thinking. 
That's my goal.  That's all I'm doing. 
Every few years I actually finish a hand made quilt and I do cherish those.
Today I hope to finish the appliqué on this star for the Blockheads II project which won't take too long. You can see all the lines it took to get a star shape that I liked!

Hopefully those lines will disappear!
Then I was planning to do some piecing on my 1st block for the Hand Pieced Quilt Along, but that was so quick and fun that I finished it already. Did you see my block here? Are you joining in?
So maybe today I'll prep another appliqué block since the star in a circle has been enjoyable. I am trying to resist starting the Hospital Sketches BOM by Barbara Brackman, but since I had a severe case of Startitis and started 3 new projects already this week, perhaps I ought to try to reign it in!!

What are you working on?  Link up your blog post below and share your slow progress with us.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, January 26, 2019

New Rainbow Scrap Challenge Projects

I started some new projects this week. Perhaps it's a flare up of my chronic illness called "Startitis"!!
I wanted to try both of these patterns and see how I like them.
First is the Temecula One Block sew along. I'm not sure of the name of this block, but I like it and think it looks like a doughnut, so I'm calling my project "Scrap doughnuts"! Don't you think it will be a great scrap user?? It measures 4" so will finish at 3.5" in the quilt. I am not using the cutting instructions as posted, but will just cut up scraps as they appear in my quilting room.

The second new project is one of the Blockheads patterns called Economy Path. I really enjoyed making this block and thought it would make a fun RSC project. These blocks are 3.5" and will measure 3" in the finished quilt.

I'm not sure I'll continue with both of these but have made a start and we'll see how it goes. Hop over to the weekly link up and see what other new projects have been started.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Hand Piecing Quilt Along

Do you know that a hand piecing quilt along has just started? Click here to find the introductory information.
gathering tools and fabrics to stitch block #1
I learned to do hand piecing early in my quilting experience and loved it. You can see my first hand pieced and hand quilted project here. It's a delight to have a new hand piecing project to enjoy! 

I am using 2 Moda charm packs called "hello luscious" which have been sitting around here for a long time waiting for just the right project. And this is it!
I have some green yardage and some light neutral on standby if needed.

I hand pieced the entire first block while waiting in the lobby of a hotel for my parents to return from a bus trip. It was the most relaxing way to wait for the bus that was carrying my loved ones on a long journey in a snow storm. I didn't even notice how worried I was that the bus was more than an hour late because I was distracted in the best kind of way!

I fussy cut the teal fabrics and am very pleased with how my first block turned out. The tutorial video for block #1 is here and if you are new to hand piecing, I recommend watching it to learn all the tips and techniques.
I'm linking up to the block #1 link party

Hop over to see the other hand piecing delights and hopefully you will be tempted to join in... not only for the relaxing fun of hand piecing, but also there are lots of prizes to be won. This week you can win a gift certificate to the Fat Quarter shop by posting a photo of your first block. 
Who can resist all this wonderfulness?!?! Thanks to Patty and Kristin for creating this opportunity for us! 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Machine Quilting

Save the Bees is on deck! 

I decided to do some ribbon quilting in the white border. It had a bit of fullness and needed a more intense pattern than the straight line quilting I had intended to do in that space.

Can you spot the one random overlapping ribbon!
Quilting ribbons is intense indeed. You need to concentrate and have all your brain power focused on getting your hands to move the quilt exactly where you want it in order to get the ribbons positioned in the space, have the curves be round, and have the ribbons kissing, not overlapping. 

Believe me, there is a lot to think about as you try to keep the sewing machine speed even and the stitch length consistent. 

These are not achievable goals of course, but they are something to aim for.

It's hard to photograph white quilting on white fabric, but I hope you can see the texture that the ribbon quilting creates. YUM!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Blockheads Update

The first Blockhead series started in March 2017 (see my first block here). Because I really enjoyed that series, I eagerly joined in when the second Blockhead series started (without finishing the first one of course!) 
 Blockheads #18 - #22

This second series has not worked out as well for me for a couple of reasons:
1) after a nice start with weekly blocks posted, they started posting 2 per week, with some blocks being large and complex and time consuming (which I usually enjoy)... but I fell behind, which eventually made it too much of an effort to catch up. 
2) the number of featured pattern writers and bloggers were doubled this time, and several of the featured bloggers were also not able to keep up with posting. It was hard to follow all those people and find the information.
Coriander Quilts became my "go to" site for this project because her blocks are posted regularly, and there is usually not a lot of other unrelated stuff to wade through. I can easily find what block I finished last and work on the next one. Also there is a list of blocks and patterns here.
In November I left off at block #17 and block #41 was just posted today. As I said, I am WAY behind. 
So... without further ado, here is my effort at getting a little bit closer to being "caught up":

Block #18 is a 6" block called Mishmash. Simple. Not great fabric choices on my part, but it's done!

Block #19 Rocky Road to California which is a block pattern that I know as "Jacob's Ladder". I love this text fabric from the Harmony fabric line and I worked hard to position it in the right (readable) direction on all units.

Block #20 Go Fish
This was an interesting and different kind of block made from vertical flying geese units. The challenge was getting the directional background "water" fabric oriented in the correct way in each of 12 triangles.

Block #21 Circle and Star is a hand stitching pattern. It's cut out and ready for some hand applique time so look for it on a Slow Sunday Stitching post.

Block #22 is called Economy Path. I have had this one sewn for a long time because it was fun and easy with little pieces. I like this one so much I am tempted to make the pattern become a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project! 

The Blockheads II consists of 52 blocks, so I'm not even half way! I hope to make major progress on this project at my winter quilt retreat in February.
Linking up to Sew Fresh Quilts to see what other quilting friends are sewing today.

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