Thursday, October 31, 2019

Scrap Dance Tango Finish

Scrap Dance Tango
This quilt started as a mystery project by Carole at From My Carolina Home. I started working on the quilt in February of 2016 because my friend Gillian gifted me with over 200 scrappy HST blocks which were the perfect seeds to grow this quilt. What a goldmine! I loved making the first blocks and had fun photographing them in the middle of winter.
Although the blocks were sewn together by the end of that year, the quilt top needed to sit in storage to be curated. Just like cheese needs "affinage" and wine needs "maturation" to become their most delicious versions, (my) quilts need to be ripened to perfection over time. They rest in the "temperature controlled UFO closet" until they are adequately cured for the next step! *snort*
This quilt required about 3 years of aging to be ready for the quilting to begin! 

 prepping the binding
I spent hours and hours on machine quilting this project, starting with a grid and then free motion quilting the blocks and the border. I quilted feathers in the border because I'm teaching a quilting class in December and wanted some  practice. The feathers stitched with red thread on the red border almost made me blind. Even though it was a challenge, I stuck with the red thread because I didn't want the border quilting to detract from the great border print design.

Note to self... I used 2" binding strips on this quilt to ensure I had enough fabric, but I don't like the look as much as when I use a 2.25" strip.

Drum roll please... a finished quilt!

Some quilty details...
*this quilt has Warm and Natural batting, which is my favourite for machine quilting (but is NOT fun to hand quilt)
*thread for piecing and quilting is always 50 weight Aurifil (no affiliation, just an avid fan)
*total number of scraps used - 2,264!
*finished size is 54" x 65.5"

Linking up to One Monthly Goal... yippee! 
So excited to meet my goal this month!

Also linking up for the first time to Cheryl's celebration called Favourite Finish!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Design Wall Monday

A little bit of progress has been made on the modern alphabet paper pieced baby quilt (pattern by Tamara Kate). There are only 3 more letters to sew and the fabrics are already selected. It's so close to being a complete quilt top. 
Hop over to Small Quilts to see more design wall blog posts.
And also... while you're hopping around the internet, drop by Humble Quilts and see all the amazing mystery quilts link ups. There are over 30 already posted for us to enjoy. It's inspiring to see all the different versions of a mystery quilt pattern and see how quilters put together a wide range of colours to make beautiful quilts!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Slow Sunday Stitching Hands

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party! 
If you are an avid hand stitcher over many years, you have probably experienced my current dilemma.... hand pain. My hands are often tired which is not surprising given how hard I make them them work every day. But I am also having some recurrent pain in my right thumb.

Drive to work
My right hand does carry most of the work load since I'm right handed, and it is letting me know that the current demands exceed it's capacity!

I thought it might be fun to snap photos of all the things it has to do in a regular day.

First of all, I work at a job where I hand write notes all day long. I actually hold a pen and write words for 8 hours a day. Totally old school! That might be part of the problem!

Preparing food
Then there are all the household tasks that require my hands to work hard. Peeling and chopping potatoes, carrots and other vegetables are regular chores. 

Washing and drying dishes
I have never had a dishwasher in my life, so I am used to hand washing dishes and find it meditative. 

This time of year is also hard on the hands due to raking leaves, and soon it will be time for shovelling snow. 

Playing piano
And then when all the work is done, I can sit down and practice learning a new song on the piano. But that also requires my hands to work hard. The benefits to my brain and heart are worth the pain!

Hand quilting
And then if I still have any energy left, and my hands are not too sore, I get out some hand stitching for relaxation. I try to spend at least a few minutes each day with my hand stitching as part of a mental wellness plan. Rest, create, breathe, renew.

In case you are curious, this is my current "go-to" pain relief cream (although I do have a selection of products now!)
Do you have a solution to hand pain that I haven't tried? Leave a comment below and share your tips with us.
Today I hope to finish the hand quilting on my Friendship Album quilt and maybe even get the binding on to hand stitch.

What are you working on today? Link up your hand stitching blog or instagram post (and link to me at ssskat7).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Scrappy Saturday

It's time for the weekly rainbow scrap update. 
FNSI with Barb and Sandy
Last night was "Friday Night Sewin In" and here are a couple of us sending an instagram photo to another group of quilters sewing in different city. Sew fun!

Sandy brought me a collection of little grey triangles that she rescued for the guild orphan box, and half of them are a print with tiny little dogs.  
So I had to make 2 fun Shoo Fly blocks.

Can you see the dogs in the little triangles? So cute!
There are lots of grey fabrics in the sewing room right now from working on the Modern Alphabet paper piecing baby quilt. So I "whipped up" (over the course of a few hours!) 4 grey Economy Path blocks (free pattern here). 

This is not a good photo and was taken late at night, but here are all the Economy Path blocks made so far.
That's a lot of sewing over the course of the year, and it's still a very small quilt about 18" x 24"! I'm working on the brown scraps today and hope to finish another set of 4 blocks.

Hop over to the weekly Rainbow Scrap Challenge linkup to see more scrappy projects.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Flirting Fabrics

A few weeks ago Audrey over at Quilt Folk wrote a line in her blog post that said...
"You know how it goes when fabrics aren't being used up fast enough and before you can even blink, there are newer, shinier fabrics flirting with you instead."

Did you even know that fabrics are "flirting" with you?!?
What a fun concept! It lead me down a rabbit hole of thinking about that verb, what it means with human interactions vs fabric interactions, and about how I didn't even know that this was going on in the quilt studio!! The whole idea makes me giggle (which is definitely a flirtatious behaviour!)

Shoo Fly Shoo!
There are few activities that make me happier than digging around in another quilters' scraps! At the Slow Sunday Stitching retreat day I was gifted with two scrap bags and I have been having a great time with finding flirtatious fabrics for Shoo Fly Shoo blocks... so FUN! Look at these new blocks featuring a fussy cut centre! 

I'm not an ODC quilter who has a fancy fabric/scrap organizing system. 
This is my system! 
It's called bags of scraps! 
free range scraps
My friends make fun of me for this (lovingly I hope!) and it is one of my "distinctive features" as a scrap quilters that I adore all scraps and they are permitted to roam freely in my sewing room!
Let's call them "free range scraps! LOL 

Tonight is Friday Night Sew In. 
Wendy from Sugarcane Designs hosts the official monthly online FNSI but I can never seem to get my schedule to jive with hers. So tonight is my night to get together in real life to sew with some of my quilting friends. 
The scrap bags will be out for sharing!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Machine Quilting Class

I haven't done much teaching lately and had a desire to teach a machine quilting class. So I arranged to teach a Saturday class at Triangle Sewing on December 7th. 

feather quilting
In addition to covering the topics of basting and tools I use, the class will focus on how to quilt 3 of my favourite designs - feathers, ribbons, and swirls. 
It is a "hard sell" to convince some quilters that (after lots of practice hours) it is possible to experience great joy and find the whole machine quilting process to be very relaxing. 
But it's totally true for me! 

I finished up some small samples to hang at the store to show the designs, and this one is my favourites. I love stitching feathers both as a "fill in the space" design on small pieces, and as a border design on larger quilts. 

I really enjoy taking a piece of fabric that I have painted, then quilt it, and then add more paint or beads or text, or whatever it calls out for. It's definitely a work in progress.
I'm not sure if it should hang horizontally or vertically?

If you are interested in taking the class with me in December, you can find more details at the Triangle Sewing website.
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wednesday Design Wall

I've been a bit under the weather this week with the first sickness of the season. It's not too terrible, but has resulted in less energy and required me to get more rest/sleep, which means less quilting time. 
I did get my baby alphabet quilt blocks out and put them on the wall. This pattern is called paper piecing the modern alphabet (Free pattern) by Tamara Kate Designs. I have finished up to the letter R and sewn the blocks together in columns. There are still 8 more letters to piece and I'm picking out the fabrics today with the hope of doing some sewing after work if there is still any energy left.
I want to get these blocks sewn to use up the scraps in my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks this month.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party!
Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee or pumpkin spice latte to enjoy while visiting the blog links of stitchers around the world. It's so inspiring to see what other people are creating with their own two hands.

This is the Gail Pan embroidery block I am still working on. I haven't made any progress on this little 3" block since guild meeting earlier in the month, and all it needs are the lazy daisy flowers under the house to be stitched.
Also I'm determined to finish up the hand quilting on my Friendship Album. I really wanted this quilt to be finished in the summer, but the fall season has arrived and the stitching continues. It's cold enough to get out my oldest UFO for hand quilting, and I must get the little quilt finished so I can tackle the big one once again!

What are you hand stitching today? Share your progress (or lack thereof) and link up your instagram photo or blog post below.
Happy Slow Stitching Sunday!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Saturday, October 19, 2019

More Shoo Fly Love!

Did you start the Leader-Ender challenge with Bonnie Hunter this past July? It's never too late to join in! You can make a mini quilt, a table runner, a king size quilt... whatever you want.
I am making the 4" size of the Shoo Fly blocks and love making them. I always have a pile of pieces cut out and waiting beside my sewing machine to put under the needle between the other projects I am sewing.

I have been using up some charm squares leftover from other projects. This is how I cut the squares to make the background pieces for one block. There is very little waste and it's awesome to get these pieces used up. You can cut 4 to 6 of these charm squares at a time if your rotary cutter blade is sharp.

I do try to focus on the colour of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge when I'm sorting scraps to use. This month is using up the darks... browns, greys and blacks.
One of the down sides to using the leader-ender technique for sewing blocks is that sometimes pieces get lost because they sit beside the machine waiting for their turn to be sewn. The block on the bottom left is missing an HST. I wonder when that will show up?!? Eventually I'll make a replacement from other scraps if it doesn't reappear.

Here is the Shoo Fly block collection as of last week. 
Oh my goodness... every time I put these on the design wall I see a problem block to fix! Do you see the problem one this time?

Hop over to the RSC link up to see more scrappy projects in development.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Meadow Mist Mystery Update

Step #2 of the Mosaic Mystery Quilt was posted last week and it's a "square in a square" block, which is one of my favourites! 
I pieced the blocks on my Sweet Baby Jayne 1964 featherweight and they came out the perfect size with very little trimming required.

These blocks are:
7 fabric A and background fabric
and 8 background and fabric C.
It's a fun and easy step this month.

Click here to visit the mystery link up and see all the wide variety of blocks being sewn this month.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Mid Month UFO Update

Quilting is going full steam ahead on the Scrap Dance Tango.
machine quilting - see the pretty backing fabric?!?
The first step was my usual vertical and horizontal grid to stabilize the quilt. I stitched on both sides of all the sashing strips for a total of 22 straight lines.
And while I was quilting those lines, I was studying the quilt and thinking of quilting designs to add once the grid was finished. The possibilities are endless and limited only by my imagination, motivation, and purpose of the quilt.

Even though it is very popular now, I am not a fan of densely quilted stiff quilts that don't feel cosy and snuggly. 
AND there is a whole closet full of UFOs here so I don't want to spend too much time quilting complex designs. 
PLUS this UFO has been going on for 3 months now! 
I just needed to make a decision and get going!

I finally decided that the next step would be to quilt a straight line through the centre of each block (one horizontal and one vertical). I tried sewing right across the sashing/quilt but didn't like how it looked, so that got ripped out. As a result I decided to make 40 lines, which is a lot of stops/starts. That's okay... it had to be done.

marking straight lines with the Hera marker
And then I got a great idea for a continuous line within the block but it would be tough with twisting and turning the whole quilt to sew with the walking foot on. So I had to try it with the free motion foot. It's hard for me to quilt a straight line with the feed dogs down and without the traction of the walking foot. I decided to draw the lines with a Hera marker (doesn't leave any ink, chalk or pencil, just an indentation in the fabric)  to help me quilt the lines a little straighter.

It's slow going.
That's okay because I really like how it's turning out. It's "just enough" quilting for my liking.

One block done, 19 more to go!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Almost Amish Mystery Quilt

The quilt layout for the Humble Quilts mystery was revealed last week, but I resisted looking at the finale until I was caught up with all the steps. I like a mystery to last as long as possible because the older you get, the more the surprises you get seem to be mostly bad ones! Mystery quilts are the best kind of surprises because even if I don't love the final layout, I can play with it to create something I like better, or give it away to someone who will love it. So it's all good!

This mystery was sewn on my Sweet Baby Jayne 1964 white featherweight, and she had a few random troubles with stitching a good tension.

See how the thread wasn't tight on the back? That tension is way too loose and the whole bobbin thread comes out with a slight tug.

I realized the thread kept slipping out of the thread tension disc when I started sewing a seam at too high of a speed. See where the stitch ripper is pointing? There is no thread in that hole and there should be!
So Sweet Baby Jayne is going in for a day at the sewing machine spa soon. I think she'll also get the toe pedal loosened up, the belt replaced, and maybe get a new bobbin winder tire.

In spite of the technical difficulties, I finished the mystery top this weekend. Here it is on the design wall. I'm very happy with how my mystery turned out! It's a little darker than most of my quilts, but it used up a lot of small pieces of reproduction fabrics and it's the perfect size for a hand quilting takealong project!
Thanks to Lori for another fun mystery adventure!
Linking up to design wall Monday over at Small Quilts.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Slow Sunday Stitching - Retreat Report

slow down!
Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party! We are celebrating Thanksgiving here in Canada today and I am very thankful for the wonderful Slow Sunday Stitching Retreat Day we enjoyed last weekend.
I posted a few photos on instagram of the activities throughout the day and you can follow me at ssskat7 to see those.
It was a perfect fall day, and so fitting that the speed limit on the road to retreat reminded us that we should slow down to "God speed", which is the whole point of Slow Sunday Stitching!

Retreat day is starting!
This is the room we stitched in. It's a lovely space with windows all around making it bright enough for stitching, but also making it difficult to take good photographs.

"free" to a good home
There were loot bags for each stitcher and door prize draws throughout the afternoon. There was even a "free" corner of the room where there was a pile of donated supplies, tools, rulers, and books for stitchers to rummage through and find just the right thing they "needed". There were bags of scraps free for the taking, and there were even boxes of organized pre-cut scraps donated by Chris. I must confess to helping myself to one of the fantastic bags of scraps that Chris brought to share with us and I can't wait to dig into it!

hard at work  hand stitching projects
I love this photo that shows all the stitchers hard at work on their projects. All the heads are bowed and the stitchers are deep in concentration!
We had so many wonderful projects in the room including knitting, hexies, embroidery, EPP, needlepoint, puppet stitching, rug making, wool work, applique, binding, and cross stitch.

Chris and granddaughter Ava
If you want to read more about the day, you can find Gail's blog post from retreat day at The Cozy Quilter, and see all the wonderful photos she took of the stitching projects. And then hop over to Quilting at the Farm to read the highlights that Chris wrote about. Chris brought her granddaughter along and she was our youngest stitcher at retreat. It's so inspiring when young people show an interest in keeping the stitching tradition alive!

Slow Sunday Stitching Sisters!
We also had some Slow Sunday Stitching Sisters! Try saying that fast 3 times! LOL
How wonderful that these sisters were able to clear their very busy schedules to spend the day relaxing, visiting and stitching together!

Here is the group photo of the amazing hand stitchers!
Slow Sunday Stitching Retreaters

I was blown away by the support and encouragement of this incredible group of women! Thank you to all who helped with the arrangements, the prizes, the tutorials, the snacks, the gifts, and for believing that this crazy dream of mine was even possible! It was amazing to me that we pulled this off on such short notice and after I rest up a bit, I will give some thought to organizing the second annual Slow Sunday Stitching retreat day!

Quilter's Blessings
I did bring along the quilt I was working on when I started the weekly link ups to celebrate Slow Stitching. The quilt is called Quilter's Blessings and was a pattern by Capricorn Quilts in 2008. It is also the quilt that is on the Slow Sunday Stitching button that Connie made for my blog. I took the quilt outside for a photo to show you how much in the country we actually were, and how spectacularly beautiful the weather was!

Okay now it's your turn... what are you hand stitching today? Link up your blog post or instagram photo below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Scrappy Saturday - Arrowhead

Wow that was a long hard week! So happy that Saturday has arrived and it's a long weekend here to celebrate the Canadian Thanksgiving. I look forward to hanging out with my sewing machine a lot this weekend.  
3" Purple Arrowhead blocks
I am very thankful for all my scrappy quilting projects and send a big thank you to Angela who has kept the Rainbow Scrap Challenge link up going for many years in spite of such her very busy life! It has brought me great joy Angela!!
I seem to be having a hard time letting go of the purple scraps! I'm still sewing purple blocks and just finished my mini Arrowhead blocks. They are so fun to sew and it is one of my favourite scrappy projects.
Here they are on the design wall. 

There are 56 blocks so far in this collection and I love it. This is the first time I've tried this layout and it gives an interesting secondary design. And now I'm digging through the dark scraps and cutting pieces to sew for my scrappy projects this month.
Hop over to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge Linkup to see more scrappy goodness!

Monday, October 07, 2019

Happy Little Things - block #3

It's time for block #3 of the "Happy Little Things" quilt by Jacquelynne Steeves! 
I started my block with the lovely flower embroidery pattern that is the centre of the design. The fall leaves are starting to change colour here so it was fun to take a photo of the embroidery in a tree that is changing colours to match my threads!

In this month's pattern we get to make the rectangle triangle blocks which uses a technique that is unique to Jacquelynne patterns. I always have to look at the pattern, and look at my pieces several times laid out on the cutting mat before I'm sure I have it right. it's a bit tricky but just follow the instructions and it comes out perfectly every time!

Here is my version of block #3 with the borders added. Unlike the previous blocks, 
this one only has 1 border around, so I chose 2 grey fabrics to compliment the colours of the embroidery and the pieced units.
So pretty!

And here are my first 3 blocks laid out on the floor. 
It's going to be an awesome quilt! 
Click here to hop over to Jacquelynne's blog to get more information about how to get your free copy of the pattern.