Friday, January 31, 2020

January Miniature Quilt

Wendy at The Constant Quilter encourages fellow bloggers to make miniature quilts to link to at the end of the month. 

starting blocks
I enjoy making mini quilts and am looking forward to sewing up lots of tiny scraps in 2020.
My January project comes from a scrap bag from a friend that was full of 1.25" squares. 
I posted last week about this muddy mess of a mini scrap quilt, and for some unknown reason that blog post has disappeared into the ether. Blogging (and life in general) is weird that way... now you see it, and now it's gone!

miniature quilt top with dark blue sashing
Anyway, in the comments on that missing post Annie suggested a dark blue sashing to give "drama and definition". Such an excellent idea... thanks Annie!
Here is the same blocks with sashing... so much better!

back of the quilt top

This is a photo of the quilt top from the back so you can see how I pressed all the little seams. It is very precise sewing and sometimes challenging with pieces that finish 3/4", but I enjoy it!

This photo shows the scale of the blocks as I was quilting the diagonal lines with the walking foot. The finished block size is 2.25" and there are 271 pieces in the quilt.

Here is my January miniature quilt measuring 16" square. 

Because most (all?) of the scrap pieces (except the sashing) are William Morris fabrics, I am calling this "William Chains".
 I like the strong diagonal neutral chains in this design. 

To see the links to the other January miniature quilts, hop over to The Constant Quilter.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Teaching and Giveaway

Triangle classroom
Last week I enjoyed teaching a machine quilting class at Triangle Sewing. They have such a wonderful classroom, large and spacious for spreading out quilts, and windows all around the room ... a wonderful place to spend a day. You can see my demo samples on the table and my  finished quilts behind.

quilt stack!

This is the stack of quilts I brought to show the students a range of quilting designs they could learn. One of my favourite quilts is hanging on the ironing board... Save The Bees was last year's BOM pattern by Jacquelynne Steeves. Each border was quilted with a different design... bricks, swirls, and ribbons.

machine quilting demo
And I brought another one of Jacquelynne's patterns to demo some quilting. This is my Happy Little Things quilt and I am demonstrating how to quilt a wishbone design in the floral border. Two more borders to go and this will be finished!

And while we are talking about Jacquelynne, hop over to her site to enter the Grand Prize draw for the Happy Little Things wrap up. It's a reminder to get your free patterns before they are deactivated. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Chocolate Dance is over!

My January UFO is done! 

Finished "Chocolate Dance"
So exciting to start off 2020 accomplishing the goal that I set for myself in the first month of the year! I hope this sets the trend for my whole year!
Here is the finished quilt being held up by my son. It doesn't drape well due to having no batting, but you get the effect of how it looks.

Here it is laying in the snow! It's a miracle that when it's horizontal, it lays flat! 
I'm shocked!
Why does it look so much better now that it's finished and the struggle is over!?!?

I still love those scrappy chocolate themed border prints!

This quilt top was finished in the summer of 2018 and I'm doing the happy dance about the first finished quilt of 2020! That was only a year and a half from start to finish... woohoo! The quilting on this was a really hard process, and many lessons were learned in the finishing. It's amazing to me that after 25+ years of quilting, I am still learning new things about quilting!  
So proud to link up my finish at One Monthly Goal!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Frolic Design Wall

It's all about Frolic blocks in the sewing room this week. The cutting is done and all the parts are sewn, so the only thing left to do is to sew the whole thing together. That should take only one or two hundred more hours! LOL 

I have finished 6 blocks and although I was uncertain about my colour changes (I substituted gold for green, and pink for aqua) I am very pleased how it is coming together on the design wall.
Today I am auditioning the cornerstone colour.

Do we prefer the light blue cornerstones?

Or do we prefer the darker blue cornerstones?

If you have a preference, let me know in the comment section below. I hope to get some rows sewn together this week.
Linking up to Small Quilts.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Slow Sunday Stitching

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 stitching break, and focus on pulling thread through fabric, one stitch at a time. Breathe deeply and enjoy yourself!

hand binding
This is what I am hand stitching today. It's so exciting to be nearing the finish line with a complex, challenging quilt project. For the first time, I attached the binding to the backing of a quilt so that I could hand stitch the edge on the front of the quilt. It worked out so much better than trying to hand stitch into the minkee backing. Binding is my favourite hand stitching activity, even when dealing with a minkee backing, so I am in my happy place today, if only for a few moments!

Go to your Happy Place!
I hope you are in your hand stitching happy place today!
Link up your blog post below and share your hand stitching project with us.

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

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Scrappy Saturday - Almost Squared Away

Progress has been made on getting the Squared Away blocks into a quilt! The alternate square fabric was chosen by the majority of votes of blog reader's comments last Saturday. Overwhelmingly the vote was for the swirly grey fabric. I cut all the alternate squares and the setting triangles. Bonnie Hunter has a great resource for figuring out the size of setting pieces to cut for on point layouts - click here.

Here is the layout I came up with. It's a late night photo so the colour is incorrect, but you get the idea.
If you want to make your own scrappy version, the block patterns and tutorials are still available on Angela's website - click here.

See the owl interloper on the bottom right of the quilt? (She is not a Squared Away block pattern, but is a Tiny Tuesday Pattern)

Does she stand out like a sore thumb or is she a sweet surprise? Much debate occurred between my quilt friends about whether the owl could stay with all her pieced friends in this quilt, or whether she should be evicted since she really is the "odd owl out".

In order to be included in this quilt, she had to be altered from a straight set owl to become an "on point" owl. She really wanted to stay in this quilt, and she makes me smile, so she was altered accordingly and gets to stay!

I have packed up all the blocks to sew together at my winter retreat. All the thinking has been done for this quilt (except for the borders) so it will be the perfect retreat sewing project.
Hop over to the RSC weekly link up and see more green projects.

Today is support your local quilt shop day and I happen to be teaching a machine quilting class at my local quilt shop to celebrate! I rarely buy quilting things on line because I do not want to lose the local shops where we can go to see quilts,  pet the fabrics, and get quilting supplies. We have lost so many in the last few years, and maybe I am fighting a losing battle. But still... I try! We don't want quilt stores to become extinct! Please support your local quilt shop if you have one, not just today, but in the majority of your purchases when you can. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Practice the NO!

There has to be a line in the sand my quilty friends!

I have been practicing my "NO" when it comes to new projects. 
Shocking, but true!
NO more new projects until I finish a few of the ones I have in progress that I really like and that need to become finished quilts!

I said NO to Yankee Notions, even though I really love Barbara Brackman sampler projects. My favourite was Votes For Women ... you can still get the patterns here.

I said NO to Bloomtopia quiltalong, even though I love the colours, and adore the backing design.

I am saying NO to all the AQS quiltalongs, although there are great prizes to be won.

I said NO (maybe) to the 2 colour quilt Grandma's Attic quiltalong at Quilt Doodle Designs. It's so darn cute and could totally be made from scraps. 

I said NO to the Out West quiltalong at Pat Sloan's blog, even though the theme is western movies, which is one of my guilty pleasures.

What I hope I say NO to is Moda Blockheads #3 that started on January 15th. 
Moda Blockheads III 20202
I first heard about round 3 starting from the Bear Creek Quilt Company. What is appealing if I were doing it (which I'm probably not) is that you choose your block size! 

What about you? Are you practicing your NO?

UFO Update

My January UFO called "Chocolate Dancehas been machine quilted.
Because I am teaching a class on friday about how to quilt swirls and ribbon candy designs, I decided to practice them on this quilt. Swirls are in the centre and the fun ribbon candy design is in the border. I wrote about the minke frustrations in a previous blog post, so I won't go on and on about it again today, but it turned my usually enjoyable quilting experience, into a very challenging process. 

And... can you even believe this?!?! 
I measured how much binding I needed, and ta da... I'm about 1" too short!
Are you kidding me?!?! This quilt experience was just one frustration after another!

I attached the binding on the minke side and folded it over to the quilt top side to hand stitch it down ... that turned out to be a good idea!
I'm so relieved that the quilting is done and the binding is on, so in spite of all the challenges, it looks like I'm on track to achieve my January goal!

Monday, January 20, 2020

It's all about Frolic!

I was so excited about step #9 of the Frolic Mystery quilt posted last friday. It turned out to be the layout reveal and it's a gorgeous quilt!

Frolic steps #1 - #8

The first 8 steps involved A LOT of sewing.
Here was my Frolic collection of pieces, parts, and blocks that will somehow become a quilt top. 

It's like a giant complicated fabric puzzle! 

Sewing Frolic blocks on Elsie 1951 featherweight

There was a ton of cutting and sewing to do before blocks could even be started, but I went ahead and sewed a block together to put on the design wall to keep me motivated to keep going on this mammoth project. 

It was so pretty I had to keep going!

I finished 4 blocks this weekend, and am slowly sewing the border HSTs together as leader/enders. I love my fabric combination and am enjoying working on these blocks so much that I don't want to go to work this week! 

Linking up to Small Quilts and... going to work anyway!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly link up that celebrates the art of hand stitching! 
Why not get your project out and enjoy some relaxation?  Try not to think about your "to-do" list, or ruminate about your worries. Just take a stitching break and focus on pulling thread through fabric or knitting stitches with yarn. 
We are in the middle of a winter snow storm here and had 15 cm of snow fall yesterday. That is perfect weather to stay home and quilt! I pulled out my oldest UFO for some relaxing stitching time. 

some quilted stars

I have been working on this quilt on and off since 1996! True story! The quilt top was pieced at my very first retreat, and in 2012 the border was added. Yes it took a long time... I had two little kids and two part time jobs (oh yah, and I also  started about a hundred other UFOs!)
Then in 2015 the quilt was pin basted and hand quilting was started. So that's only 5+ years in the quilting stage so far. That's a perfect Slow Sunday Stitching pace!

some unquilted stars (with pins)

Here is an area in need of some stitching. As I quilt an area, I remove the pins so can tell at a glance which blocks still need quilting. Even after all these years, I still love the square in a square quilting pattern that I chose. I'll be quilting the centre of this blue star this morning.

What are you hand stitching today? We would love to see your slow progress! Share your instagram photos and blog posts below.

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

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Scrappy Saturday

January is green month at the RSC challenge, and I have lots of green scraps to sew up, but I have become obsessed with my 2018 RSC Squared Away sampler blocks. There is no predicting when a fascination with finishing a particular quilt will take hold, but when it does, I try to follow through!

light grey alternate blocks
The plan was to add sashing to make it a larger quilt, but in the blog comments last week, Janet suggested adding alternate blocks to make a full size quilt. I love creative ideas from blog readers... thanks Janet! 

auditioning some beige alternate blocks

I started digging in the stash to see what yardage I had that might work. I auditioned several fabrics and truthfully I like them all well enough.

But when my sewing friends came over this week, I showed them the choices, and they preferred the grey fabrics, especially the one on the right.

auditioning grey alternate blocks

Do you have a preference or suggestion?
Linking up to the RSC weekly scrap party and the Oh Scrap party!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Machine Quilting Class Coming Soon!

feather quilting sample

In spite of my recent complaining about quilting my UFO project, I usually love machine quilting. I have taken many classes, and taught many classes on this topic over the years. There is so much to learn, and everyone has their own tips and tricks to make it enjoyable and successful.
And there are so many fun designs to experiment with!

ribbon candy and wishbones sample

I am teaching a machine quilting class at Triangle Sewing on Saturday January 25th, so join us if you want to learn 4 free motion quilting designs - feathers, ribbons, wishbones and swirls. 

I often hear things like "it's too hard", or "I'm not good at free motion quilting". But it only gets easier, and you become good at it, by PRACTICING. It's the only way to learn this skill.
swirls in small spaces sample

Part of the challenge with machine quilting is learning about teamwork. You and your machine are a team. With practice you learn to respect your sewing machine, discover what it is good at, what thread it prefers, and how to work together for the best outcome.
Click here for the Triangle Sewing contact info and join me for a fun day of practicing and improving your machine quilting skills!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Midmonth UFO Report

pin basting "Chocolate Dance"
My UFO project for January is Chocolate Dance. I made a good start on it, but am really not enjoying it. 
I had 2 brilliant ideas that turned out to lack brilliance:
1) try minke for a cuddly backing, and 
2) don't use a batting to make it a light weight cuddle quilt having only 2 layers (quilt top and minke back).

I stitched in the ditch in all the vertical seam lines (using the walking foot) to stabilize the quilt, but it wasn't very stable. It was slippery and hard to control because of the lack of the stabilizing influence of the batting, and the very slippery minke backing.

I free motion quilted swirls around the chocolate windmills in the centre. Usually that is really fun for me, but the tension was a constant issue, and eventually I just accepted that the brown minke fluff was going to pop up through the stitches on the top (because I didn't use a batting) AND the tension was way off in places on the back, and that's just the way life is with minke! No amount of altering the tension settings could fix that.
My ideas seemed so brilliant when I thought of them at the time, but no... they turned out to be dumb ideas!

By the time I decided I hated the whole thing, I had done too much quilting to take it all out. So I just kept going and hoped  for the best!
I have decided that I hate minke and will never use it again. I put a strip of masking tape beside the cutting mat to attempt to corral the minke debris when I trimmed to the quilt, but it didn't help much... brown bits of fluff are everywhere.
Never again!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Frolic Update

Frolic pieces are on the design wall today. Up until last week we had sewn well over 1,000 pieces and blocks for this quilt. Who knew that frolicking is so labour intensive!?!

Step #7 pinwheels on the design board - raspberry and dark blues
I really enjoyed sewing step #7 which involved some triangle cutting, and some pinwheel making. I ran out of the red fabrics I had collected for this quilt, so had to go searching in the stash for more. Not finding any useful reds, the top left and top middle blocks were cut from my brother's dress shirts.

While happily frolicking along, I was overly enthusiastic and sewed too many pinwheel blocks for step #7! When step #8 was posted, I realized my mistake and started unsewing. Grrr... read the instructions, and re-read the instructions!

9 Sets for Frolic part #8
Once that was accomplished I started coordinating the parts to build the necessary sets. Here are the first 9. The pinwheels are on the bottom of the piles. 
I am using pink/salmon  instead of aqua, and gold instead of green. 

This has been such a fun and challenging mystery so far!
My 4 favourite sets that completely coordinate!
Even though I am a very experienced mystery quilt maker, this has kept me guessing, and made me really think to keep everything in order. I do miss the weekly link ups we used to have in previous Quiltville mysteries, but you can see some photos from the mystery quilters posted on instagram ... #Frolicquilt.  
Linking up to Small Quilts.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party!
Make a cup of your favourite beverage, grab a snack (you'll be here for a while) and enjoy visiting the amazing blog links below from hand stitchers around the world. 

What I have to share today is pretty mundane, but it is hand stitching. As I mentioned on Friday's post, one of my jobs is mending items for my grown kids. 
They are very keen to keep things functional (as opposed to throwing them in the garbage) and I want to encourage that environmentally sound thinking, but neither of them have learned to thread a needle yet! So we came to the agreement that they help with household repairs, and I help with textile repairs. This week I repaired a hole in my son's fairly new Old Navy cardigan. It completely unraveled at the neck line for no apparently reason.

Then I repaired a random L shaped tear in the lining of my son's fairly new winter coat. I just appliqued a piece of grey fabric over the rip and hope it holds.

I don't know what I'm going to hand stitch today. Now that Christmas is all put away, and the mending is done, I forget what I was working on before the Christmas frenzy started!
I'll take a look around here and see what needs a few more stitches!

What are you hand stitching today? Link up your instagram or blog post below and share your project with us!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Squared Away Decisions

You know how sometimes you make lots of blocks for a project but you're not sure if you're done with it or not? And then it sits in the refrigerator for a while until you decide? 
You don't actually use your freezer for food, do you?!? 
It's the perfect place for quilt block storage!

See my pile of Squared Away blocks sitting there in my freezer full of treasured projects?!? This was the RSC block of the month project in 2018.
I told myself I would make more blocks in 2019, since the collection of blocks was not really enough to make a bed quilt. But more blocks did not materialize as I became distracted with other projects. And that's one of the many ways a UFO is born! 

Apparently I have lost interest in making more of these 5" blocks and needed to move on!
In December I just decided that I like the on point layout, but it needed to be bigger so I would add sashing and then borders as needed to grow the size of the quilt. I will be cutting the sashing pieces and hope to begin sewing it together today.

Shoo Fly Shoo blocks
The RSC colour of the month is green and I am using up some scraps to make more leader-ender Shoo Fly blocks.

To see more RSC projects, hop over to the linkup at Angela's.