Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Face Masks

Up until this past weekend I had resisted sewing face masks because I don't like them... they look scary to me. It's surprising how much I need to see a person's whole face to feel safe talking to them. It's a primitive biological response and I don't like to see masked people at the grocery store. 
However, face masks are the new reality. And when our local hospital asked for fabric masks to be made, of course I stepped up. I emailed in response to an article in the newspaper asking for help, and they delivered this package to my mailbox. It contained elastic, instructions and (ugly) donated fabric. 

The first couple masks that I made didn't turn out great. I didn't understand the pleating technique, but then I watched the Sweet Red Poppy video and started sewing it exactly the way Kimberly does. The quality of my construction greatly improved after that!

There has also been a lot of discussion about whether these masks are a good idea or not. Of course they are not equivalent to N95 masks, but given a choice between nothing (zero protection), or a homemade fabric product that is hopefully at least 70% effective, I'll take 70 over zero any day.

package of face masks ready to be delivered
An interesting article comparing the effectiveness of different materials can be found here. I enjoyed reading this Washington Post article which addresses some of the contradictory discourse about face masks.  
I'll probably make a few more just to have around and hope my family never has to use them. But truthfully sewing these masks brought a lot of negative energy into my sewing room and I am happy to be back in the quilting zone again.
Unity here I come...of course, you all knew I was going to be starting the new mystery quilt! LOL

Monday, March 30, 2020

New project?

Oh dear, Bonnie Hunter is starting a new project today. It's a medallion mystery called Unity, and we all know how much I enjoy mystery quilting, and especially love Bonnie's mysteries! 
But I'm not sure that my Coronavirus brain fog can handle a new project right now.

Frolic on the design wall
And I haven't finished the last mystery yet!
So yesterday I got all the parts out and started working on Frolic. This was one heck of a complex quilt design. And it's set on point so that takes it up a notch for construction challenge.
It's too big for my design wall so I'm planning to sew it together in chunks instead of rows.

It makes sense that I should finish Frolic first before starting something new. How much self discipline can I muster up at this point? Maybe I'll just go over to Quiltville for a quick visit and check out what the first step is ...and then think about it! LOL

Linking up to Small Quilts.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Slow Sunday Stitching

Every Sunday we roll out the welcome mat for like-minded hand stitchers to gather for a party. Thank you for joining us! 

We encourage you to get out your hand stitching project and put in a few stitches. Then make yourself a cup of your favourite beverage and visit other hand stitchers around the world to see what they are working on today.

When we have to stay home and can't gather with family and friends, it's very hard for most people. It has been challenging and also an invitation to settle down, and spend time doing comforting activities. It's all about the comfort these days. 

I have been making homemade vegetable soups for 2 weeks. I don't know why. I wish I liked to bake because I really like to eat baking, but I really enjoy canning and making soup. 
My brother used to make soup from the ingredients in his garden and give bit large jars of it to friends when they were sick. After his death, I inherited his canning jar collection and I kept the label on one of his jars just to remember this small act of kindness and love that was his great delight. I'm not using those huge jars because they are way too big! A batch of soup made from one butternut squash results in the 2 jars on the left. So far my pandemic soups have been squash, broccoli (my favourite), cauliflower, and today's soup is going to be carrot.

tea + hand stitching + soup = comfort

Comfort is the theme of the weekend. As often as you can, do more of what brings you comfort. For me today, that will be drinking tea, listening to music, making soups, and hand stitching. I hope to finish up my embroidered tea towel today.

Let's try to keep ourselves stitched together!

Link up your hand stitching blog post below, and enjoy some comforting visits with our fellow stitchers.

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

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Scrappy Saturday

These are the most recent Shoo Fly blocks that are being added to my collection this month.  I made a St. Patrick's block in honour of missing those March celebrations. 
Aqua month is getting short changed due to all that is involved in adapting to the COVID19 restrictions.

I am not allowing myself much time to play with scraps these days because so many other things are taking more time, including grocery shopping and learning how to do my work on line. 

face mask kit - instructions and supplies
And today it's because of the request to sew masks for our local hospital. Fabric masks are no replacement for the N95 masks, but it's better than nothing for staff in low acuity areas. 

I never thought I'd see the day that sewing face masks would be the leader ender for my scrap blocks!!

Linking up to Rainbow Scrap Challenge

Friday, March 27, 2020

A New Project Was Required

Over the last week I just. could. not. even.
I'm sure it's the same for most people these days.
I needed a mindless, easy scrap project to work on. I had been working on my March mini, and machine quilting my March UFO, but once they were finished I was just wondering around aimlessly in the sewing room. So many projects and no focus whatsoever.

I really wanted to participate in the two quiltalongs I wrote about last friday as they both looked like great stash busters and lots of fun. But I just couldn't focus.

sew a few HST blocks

I wondered around the sewing room and could not settle on a task until I remembered Carole's new mystery quilt "The Twist". I had already corralled some of the scraps I wanted to use, but hadn't started it yet.
Ahhh... cutting and sewing scraps... no thinking required. 
Just do what she says to do.
steps #2 and #3 blocks

Back in my happy place again! Aren't these eastery spring colours so pretty ? I hope the yellow will work out okay as the background choice.

Even the block trimmings made me happy. I looked at them a long time before I gave myself the stern voice talking to... just put them in the garbage for heaven's sake!!!

Repetitive tasks are just what my brain needed. 
Cut, sew, press, trim, repeat a hundred times.
I feel better already!
Thanks Carole!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

March Miniature

Wow what a week this is!

I hope you are all taking good care of yourself and enjoying as much medicinal quilting as you have time and energy for. My daughter sent me this to think about. It sure does seem like there is not much I can control, but I am working hard on everything in the centre circle. 

And so... I have another finish to share!

When attending my annual quilt retreat in February I was working on my 150 Canadian Women project, and for a couple of days I was only working with red and white fabrics.

mini block and mini iron
In the red scrap bin I found some parts to make heart blocks. I think they were leftover teaching samples from way back in the day when I used to teach mini quilt making. Isn't this block cute beside my tiny iron?

attaching binding with walking foot
There were enough pieces to make 6 hearts and I sewed them together with a narrow sashing. The quilting was very simple straight lines. I made a single layer binding using a 1.5" strip from the scrap bin. I often use this method on mini quilts (instead of the usual bifold binding) because it just lays flatter with less bulk.

hand stitching the binding
Here's a photo of hand stitching the binding. Isn't that a fun fabric for the backing!?
These Clover black gold needles are my favourite for binding. The only challenge is that the eye of the needle is so tiny that sometimes I have to really look hard to see which end has the hole to put the thread through. Where is my needle threader?!?

And here is the finished March Mini!

"Full of love"
The finished size is 10.25" x 14.5".

And because I have more time for photo ops ... 
here is the outdoor photo.
It's interesting how some of the background fabric looks yellow here when taken on the snowy white background.

And here is the indoor photo showing the three miniature quilts I've made so far this year.
I'm looking forward to seeing the other mini quilts made this month when Wendy posts the list over at The Constant Quilter blog .

Sending you lots of love and wishing you safety and good health! 💖

Monday, March 23, 2020

Finished UFO

March's UFO goal has been met and the finished quilt is on the design wall today! Woohoo!

Thanks to COVID19 restrictions and not leaving the house, I have had a bit more time to quilt. This quilt started at a quilt guild class in 2014 when we were supposed to be learning how to make a wonky greek cross block but I became preoccupied with the asterisk block instead. 
asterisk block

They are just so fun to make and I have used them in many quilts over the years. After working on this quilt, I am now eager to start another asterisks quilt. 

This was not at all a planned project and it just evolved over time. I had grabbed some scraps to sew blocks at the class, and then added in fabrics as I worked on it over time. Who knew those green background fabrics would be impossible to match?

"comfortably quirky" finished quilt
Audrey used a term in one of her blog posts to describe the quilt she was making ... "comfortably quirky". I love that! I'm using it as a descriptor for this quilt. And although I hated it 2 years ago, today I think it's "comfortably quirky" and it's a happy looking quilt. 

I took the quilt to the park for a photo shoot but there was a brisk cold wind, so the photos aren't good. You can see that everything is mostly brown in our neck of the woods still.... spring has not really arrived yet. I did want to post this photo to remember what was happening in the world when this quilt was finished. Everything is closed including playgrounds.
Asteriskos: Little Star

Finished size: 43.5" x 57.5"
The word asterisk derives from the greek word 'asteriskos' which means little star and so it is the name of the quilt! 
Linking up to Small Quilts,  One Monthly Goal and Favorite Finish.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Slow Sunday Stitching

Hello Slow Sunday Stitching friends! We are celebrating the art hand stitching as we do every Sunday, so take a deep breath, grab a comforting beverage and join us!

I enjoyed a wonderful morning last Sunday  reading every single blog post link up. What a treat that was! There was so much wonderfulness to soak up! I saw a beautiful hand made gift being generously given to an online friend, read so many encouraging and inspiring thoughts, and celebrated incredible years-in-the-making finishes! It was so uplifting to visit you all! Thank you to everyone who contributes in every small way to making the world a better place by creating and sharing such beautiful things!

How different the world is since last Sunday eh?! 
Serenity Prayer
I know these are difficult days for everyone and as I am sure is true for most people, I have had to work hard this week to maintain calmness in my body, to stay informed about what is true, to manage anxiety and fear, and to not worry about the things I cannot control... hey, that's pretty much the serenity prayer! 

I have been doing everything I know to do to feel better... singing, praying, stitching, meditating, journalling, playing the piano, taking epsom salts baths, going for walks, and I even finished two 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles! Every bit of effort helps to stay grounded and mentally well which is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system. 

Here in Ontario, Canada we have been advised to "lock down really hard now" for the next week or face the consequences. Governments have attempted to teach their citizens the urgency of "flattening the curve", so we shall see which societies do a good job of education, and which populations comply. I understood the concept immediately, and have been self isolating since Monday, but see evidence every day of folks who either don't understand or refuse to comply.
I am only leaving my home to go to the grocery store and to my parent's home to bring them whatever they need. I know I have done the best I can to not get or spread this virus, and the skin on my hands is getting red and dry from all the hand washing. All we can do is hope for increased compliance and hope our loved ones don't get it, and if they do, that they haven't passed it on to others. We hope and pray that everyone recovers quickly with enough health care resources to see us through this pandemic.

So here's an inspirational story from this week's adventures to cheer us all up. This is a card that my parents found in their mailbox. You can see that my parents are also working on a puzzle at their house. (I did not go into their house and took the photos of the card from the doorway.)

The card is from a neighbour that they do not know who lives 2 houses down. I removed the identifying information so I could share the photo on my blog. The note is offering assistance to my parents in case they need anything. I think they probably saw my Dad outside walking with his walker this week and wanted to reach out to him. Isn't that so generous and kind? Also their immediate next door neighbour called to check in on them, AND a previous neighbour called to see if they need anything! My parents are in their 80's and it has been so heartwarming that people are thinking of them and reaching out at this time. 
Warm fuzzies for everyone!

Today I will be doing my favourite calming activity ... hand stitching a binding. This asterisks quilt has been almost 6 years in the making! It has been a long journey and there were many times when I didn't like it at all (which is just like life in general). But I'm loving it today because it's almost done! I especially like the backing and binding fabric I found in the stash!

This photo was taken late last night and shows a bit of the machine quilting pattern... wavy vertical lines and loops. 

I am looking forward to hand stitching the day away with you! Link up your blog post below, share your slow stitching projects, and also share with us your ideas about how to stay sane during this global crisis. 

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

Friday, March 20, 2020

Stitch On!

We made it to Friday! That was one tough week!
We all know that laughter is good for us in maintaining a healthy immune system, so I am reposting this meme that I saw on Deborah's blog last week.

It made me laugh out loud!  We have been training for this y'all... we can do this! I'm sure we have enough fabric, floss, thread, yarn, and beads stashed in our homes to keep us occupied for years. Let's use it up!
I have been tempted to the Nth degree (which means a lot) this week! So many quilt alongs and virtual events are popping up to start new projects.
Here are two that I am seriously considering starting:
1) a mystery quilt (my favourite) Laundry basket quilts with Edyta Sitar making a 100 block quilt in the next 15 days... FUN!

2) a quiltalong with Godrun and Bonnie on Sunday to make an Elvira quarantine quilt in one day... FUN!

What about you? Are you joining in? Are you starting new projects to boost your spirits?

All spare time this week has been spent doing jigsaw puzzles and machine quilting my March UFO. I am "outline stitching" the smaller asterisk blocks because they were getting a little puffy for some unknown reason. It's getting exciting since I'm so close to finishing. I have the binding picked out and ready to attach once the quilting is finished!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Mid Month UFO Report

One of the casualties of the coronavirus measures is NO St. Patrick's Day parties this year. I will miss the celebrations this year as I have always enjoyed that mid March festivity. Wishing you all a very Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

Instead of celebrating, I'll be in my quilting room working on my March UFO. This month I am hoping to finish my asterisks quilt. It has been waiting for 2 years to be finished and this is the month!
I picked a red-salmon colour thread for the bobbin and a variegated green for the top. The fabric under the red thread is the backing.

I am quilting vertical lines with some random loops which is a quilting design that I saw on Cathy's Sane, Crazy, Crumby quilting blog. It's a fun design to quilt and it's going quickly, so that's a win-win!

How are you spending St. Patrick's Day?!?

Monday, March 16, 2020

New Project

At quilt retreat in February a quilting friend gave me a bag that contained some selvages and two long alphabet themed strips. I pinned the strips on the design wall and found some Lori Holt fabrics in the stash that matched... and I thought about what I might like to sew.

There was not much space between the letter blocks to accommodate seam allowances, but I went ahead and cut them apart anyway and sewed alternating gingham squares from the Lori Holt Bee Basics fabric. This is how it looked with the blocks sewn into rows.

Some extra ginghams were added in on the edges and then the rows were joined together.
I wish there was more of the red around each letter block.
Oh well.. it's still a cute little doll quilt.
Now what for borders?
I added gingham squares on the right and bottom since there were not enough to go all around the quilt.

Here is the finished quilt top and this photo shows the accurate daytime  colours.

I love the multi colour striped hearts and dots sashing fabric which is a Me and My Sister Moda fabric

Finished quilt top 
measures 26" x 36". 

Here's the adorable selvage edge with these sweet bunnies!
Can't wait to sew that into something! 

Linking up to the Design Wall Monday post at Small Quilts.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to Slow Sunday Stitching! 
We meet here every Sunday to celebrate the art of all varieties of hand stitching. If it involves a needle (or 2) and thread and stitching taken with your hands, we want to know about it!

Here in Canada we are so ready for winter to be over. The daffodils are starting to bravely pop out of the frozen ground, and we are starting to get "spring fever".  It's the time of year when we feel restless and want to get outside. One of my friends said she was outside working in her garden yesterday wearing her snowsuit!

But alas, coronavirus has changed everything for us. With the global health concerns we are being advised to engage in "social distancing", stay home, and do some slow stitching. Well, I added that last part, but it does seem like the perfect time to spend some quality time with your stitching project, doesn't it?  

We will just have to calm down that spring fever feeling, settle in at home and put the time to good use. I have made some progress on my embroidered towel. I'm stitching the bowl handle, and hope to finish the bowl and spoon handle today.

Although you can't be out with the general public, you can hang out today with your slow sunday stitching friends. We would love to see what you're hand stitching today. Link up your blog post below and share your slow progress with us. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Scrappy Saturday

It's been a long quilt-less week and I'm ready for a sewathon this weekend! 
aqua blocks and aqua iron!
The popular term now is "self-isolating" but quilters must admit that we have been doing that for years for our own enjoyment and mental health!
Here are a few aqua Shoo Fly leader-ender blocks that I've been working on in between sewing Frolic blocks. The floral fabric was a dress that my friend made for her daughter and I am using up the last little scraps in these Shoo Fly blocks.

one pig and 4 flies!
These are the 4 newest Shoo Fly blocks, being supervised by my pig block (made for National Pig Day).

This weekend I am working on my Wishing Ring block collection to see where that project is at. 

I decided to make 9 patch blocks with the blocks made so far. I was happy with the 7 blocks on the design wall, but the blue collection did not make me happy. I decided to divide those blocks and make a light blue and a dark blue set whenever blue month comes up at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.
aqua wishing rings sewn into a 9 patch block
I'm planning to add 3 more blocks to make a 12 block quilt, maybe adding gold, dark green, and a group of grey wishing rings.
Hop over to Rainbow Scrap challenge link up to see more scrap projects.