Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Has Come and Gone!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful and happy Christmas! We just got through eating 3 Christmas dinners and I have to say that I am feeling like a stuffed turkey. It is so tiring eating all that food that lots of rest is required after all of the festivities. We are quite fortunate to have that complaint.

Just before Christmas I received this wonderful package from Jan-Maree of Cherry Red Quilter. She had challenged me to turn this into this within a certain time period and this was my reward for meeting her cheeky challenge. We were getting a  little worried because it took a long time to get to me (close to 3 weeks) but when the package arrived we could see that there had indeed been a problem.

Jan-Maree thinks it was the beavers and bears that tried to get into the package! She is too funny!! Just look at the wonderful gifts she sent me - 2 surfing Santa potholders that she made, 2 tree decorations (that immediately made their way onto my tree) and some yummy chocolate. Thank you so much Jan-Maree - it was so much fun to receive such a nice parcel - I really must have been a good girl.

Now that this year is coming to an end I am starting to think about the new year and how I want/hope to spend my time for the next year. I have so many sewing projects/quilts that I want to make, books to read, exercises to do (yikes) and the list goes on. I also need to make sure that I make time for friends and loved ones too! Here's hoping that I will achieve everything that I set out to do next year. I know that I do need to be more organized in the coming year - that should certainly help a lot.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Orca Bay - Week 5

This picture didn't help much either!
Yikes..they are sombre looking!

It took me a little bit of time, but I did it. I completed all 350 of the triangle blocks and somehow I've got 29 extras???? I counted them as I was trimming the dog ears and either I really miscounted or I made a bunch of extra hsts in the earlier step. I do know that I did cut lots of extra triangles for this last step and I have put the remainder into a bin specifically for 2" triangles. I figure that at some point these triangles will be exactly what I need for another quilt. Hop on over to Quiltville to see the progress other participants have made with their Orca Bay. I am looking forward to the next step being released on Friday.

The other night I had trouble sleeping so I headed for my sewing room and I started fiddling with this and that. I just didn't feel like working on Orca Bay so I ironed some fabric (I do not want to get behind on that!!!) and I started pulling out containers of blocks that I had made but never did anything with. I found these 6.5" crumb blocks and put them up on my design wall. I forgot how much I like them and I think I will make more because I do have a ton of bits and pieces waiting to be used up. I will add a plain sashing and voila!....I will have another quilt top.

Most of the cookies have already disappeared.
I made up a couple batches of cookies from recipes that I found on-line and they turned out really good. I was pleasantly surprised that they turned out so well and my family has been really enjoying them. I made both shortbread and Swedish gingerbread. The recipe for the gingerbread makes a huge amount of cookies (I figure about 4 of my batches) but I have only baked 1 batch so far (the rest of the dough is waiting for me in the fridge). Mine took a little longer to bake - they may have been a little thicker and they became nice and crunchy once they were completely cooled. I did not have golden syrup so I followed the recommended substitution. I will be baking more of them today as well as making another batch of the shortbread. This time I will double or even triple the shortbread recipe because it really didn't make a huge amount of cookies.

This will probably be my last post until after Christmas so I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope you have a wonderful time spending it with family and friends.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

FNSI - Dec 16 Results

Ick...we got a small amount of snow last night!
Look at those boxers hanging on the clothesline...don't they look great? I made them all by myself and I am pretty happy with the result. The first pair I made took fooorrrrevvverr, but the other pairs have each taken less time. I think the problem is that I really don't know how to sew garments and the instructions that came with the pattern had absolutely no information about finishing touches. I didn't want to leave raw edges on the seams so the first pair I did an overedge??? treatment. I can assure you that there was a lot of seam ripping going on as I tried to figure out what to do.
Those owls are just so cute.
After I made the first pair, I came to the realization that using that method might result in the seams being somewhat tickley or itchy - I am pretty sure they would irritate the heck out of me.

So on the second and third pair I folded the seams on themselves inward toward the center and then sewed along the edge. I think it makes a better finish - if there is a "proper" way to finish them please let me know. I have left a small portion of the elastic casing open just in case I have to adjust the elastic once my husband and sons receive them. I had bought enough fabric to make 2 pairs for each (plus a little bit extra for my stash, of course) but after seeing them finished I thought I would let them try them on and then I will decide whether I need to make a smaller size. These boxers are really large - much larger than what I would normally buy in the store.

I didn't get to make any pj pants but I think I had a wonderfully successful Friday Night Sew-In anyway. Go here to check out what other participants worked on for their FNSI.

On a side note, my fabulous nephew Leslie just came back from a business trip to the States and look what he brought me....
Of course, only a quilter would be so happy to receive these boxes of color catchers. Unfortunately, they are not available in Canada. They will help prevent any future disasters like this one.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In - Dec 16

As much as I would like to work on Orca Bay this Friday night I know that my time is better spent working on Christmas gifts. I have got to get my act together and get out of this funk - my sore ear and stuffy nose just have to let go of me. So, for this FNSI I will be sewing (and hopefully finishing) some boxers for my sons and husband.  I can do this, I will do this! My son Eric also wants some new pj pants for Christmas and Adam would probably like some too, so if I have time I will try to work on those as well.

I pulled out the pattern piece for the boxers last night and was looking through my stash of fabric to find something suitable and I am very sorry to say that I just do not want to give up any of my fabric! I thought I would be frugal and use something that I already had but I seem to be a stash hog. It is almost like the fabric has to be pried from my little hands and they just will not let go. I am going to go to the fabric store this evening and pick some fabric specifically for the boxers (any excuse to buy fabric is a good one) and of course any extra scraps will find their way into my stash - I wouldn't want them to go to waste. I plan to get the boxers cut out tonight and maybe I will be able to get 3 pairs all sewn in one evening plus get a start on the pj pants. That would be an awesome FNSI!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Little Christmas Gifts

Last night I cut the fabric in preparation for making some more of these tea totes and tissue holders. I had already made a bunch of them but I found out that I will be needing a few more small gifts and they fit the bill perfectly. They really are quite cute (my pictures never seem to do any of my projects justice) and I hope they will be useful to the recipients. It didn't really take too long to stitch up these 4 sets today. Each of the tea totes require some hand stitching to close the turning opening so that is what I will work on this afternoon/evening. I am linking up with the Needle and Thread Network today!

Santa's elves need to make a special visit to my sewing room (and kitchen too!) because I am falling so far behind on making Christmas gifts this year. I had great plans to make boxers and pj pants for my sons and my husband but I really don't think I will get them done. It's not like I wasn't prepared - I bought the patterns quite some time ago when they were on sale for only $2 each.

I haven't quite given up yet but it is looking more and more likely that they will have to wait until after Christmas. I know the patterns say only 1 hour or 2 hours to make but honestly I do not know how to sew garments so there is also a learning curve that needs to be taken into account. I seem to do this every year - trying to do everything at the last minute and it has got to stop. Really....I am going to try to think ahead and make some Christmas gifts earlier in the year for next Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Orca Bay - Week 4

Oh my I love those red strings! Don't they remind you of beautiful red flowers? I think I may have a quilt made of red string or red crumb flowers in my future! I also have a blue jean quilt planned using this design but I was having trouble finding what I wanted in the center of the blocks - I had been thinking red but hadn't yet found the fabric I was looking for. I think little squares of red strings or crumbs is the ticket! Piecing strings is an easy but very time consuming process for me - others seem to zip right through them. This time, instead of using onion skin paper I used construction paper that I got at the dollar store. I felt that there would be just too much waste of the onion skin with this size of block.

The paper size was almost perfect and I had very little waste! Just those little strips - and I also got some leftover pieces of paper that can be used for 3.5" paper-pieced blocks (maybe for my blue-jean quilt). It really wasn't too much trouble to remove it either.

One of these triangles is not like the others!
When I was trimming the triangles to size the ruler and I had an "incident" and after that I paid closer attention to the markings on the ruler. I am short one little triangle now but it won't take me long to make another. Hop on over to Quiltville and see the progress other's are making on their Orca Bay quilts.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Was I Thinking...Christmas Insanity?

748 Brown/Neutral Twosies
Look how many little twosies I made for the brown quilt that I decided a couple days ago to give to dear family friends for Christmas. I had started this quilt last month while participating in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and I thought it would make a great Christmas gift.

Thanks to Bonnie Hunter's scrap user's system I was able to pull all of these 1-1/2" strips from my bins and easily strip piece them and then cut them into segments.

I don't know what I was thinking that I could give this quilt as a Christmas gift this year!!?? - I must have been out of mind because this "only" made 748 two patches - only about half of what I need to make this quilt a decent size. Each block will finish at 8" so I need a whole lot of blocks - by my estimate I need 98 more blocks to add to the 32 that I have already made.

In reality, that is 196 16-patches and 196 4-patches that all finish at 4". I cannot see how I can get that all made before Christmas, sew the top together and quilt/bind it. Wouldn't it be great to have a clone to help me do all of the things I truly want to do! Now that some sanity has set in I know that our friends will get a quilt for Christmas next year instead of this year. Whew...I feel much better!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

FNSI - Dec 9 Results

30 String Blocks for Orca Bay
Things were humming in my sewing room starting fairly early in the afternoon and right up until after 10 pm. Of course, I did take a few little breaks (who would of thought that my family would want dinner????) but I did spend as much time as I could working along with all of my virtual sewing buddies. You would have thought with all that time spent in my sewing room I would have a lot more to show for my efforts but really all I could manage was 30 of the 64 5.5" red strings blocks required for the Orca Bay quilt. I enjoyed spending the time making them and I hope to work on them some more tomorrow. I was not able to continue with them today because I had to drive my son to school in Toronto for another exam. Our regional bus service is still on strike #%$*&! so we had to leave early this morning so my son could study in the university library in preparation for the exam. I got home at dinner time and here we are now, I just finished making dinner and I am too tired to work on Orca Bay. I love the richness of the reds in the string blocks - gorgeous. They look quite ratty because they need to be trimmed but I like to spray them with starch before trimming and I am all out. Thanks to Heidi and Bobbi for hosting another great and successful Friday Night Sew-In!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In

It is that time again when we all meet up in our sewing rooms and get working on our projects that really need some attention. Hop on over to Heidi's blog and sign yourself up for this edition of the Friday Night Sew-In!

I have two projects that I really want to spend some time on but I think that I will be working on the next step of the Orca Bay mystery quilt hosted by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville. I can't wait for tomorrow's clue to be released.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Roll Roll Cotton Boll..and a Change of Plans

All Quilted
I put Roll Roll Cotton Boll on the quilt frame early yesterday morning and I finally finished the quilting today. I can't believe how long it took me to quilt it. I had a lot of issues with my quilting, thread, operator error, etc, and there are still some skipped stitches that I need to fix up but I will do that on my regular sewing machine later. I really do think I would have done a better job on my Janome 6600 and I would have got it done a lot quicker too! I guess I just have to chalk it up to time spent learning and practicing...but I do hope it gets better really quickly because at this rate I will just about double my time spent quilting and my frustration level has significantly increased too! I love this quilt and it will be staying with me. I need to make the binding and attach it and one more important thing I must do is to come up with another name for it and I am having a lot of trouble with that for some reason.

Molly modeling RRCB
I had been planning on quilting a couple more quilts this month before moving on and finishing up the projects that I have in progress - Leftovers, Jacob's Ladder, the brown quilt for Rainbow Scrap Challenge, etc., but I have decided to give the brown quilt as a Christmas gift to dear friends of ours. So that quilt, along with Orca Bay, will be receiving the bulk of my attention for the next little while.

I am linking up with Needle and Thread Network which is an open blog to bring Canadian fibre artists or creative stitchers and sewists together.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Orca Bay - Week 3

Week 3 wasn't too bad at all - I made quick work of these little hsts. I was certainly expecting that this week was going to be much more challenging than it was. I even made some extras so I can pick and choose a little bit once we see what is going to happen to them. I am still very excited about this mystery quilt and I am looking forward to next week's step. Bonnie may be lulling us into a false sense of simplicity with the last couple steps so I am expecting that next week may be a lot more involved. It's not too late to join in with the fun - hop on over to Quiltville where you can check out all of the participants' progress and find all of the instructions. I have been visiting as many blogs as I can, leaving comments as well, and I have found many wonderful "new to me" blogs.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fun & Games is Finished!

Horizontal view of Fun & Games - the chains are really vertical!
This quilt is what has been keeping me busy the last couple of days. I am so pleased with the way it has turned out! First off, this is the first quilt I have quilted using my new frame/machine set-up and it also has a different free-motion quilt design other than my usual meandering.

Still need practice but I think it turned out pretty good!
This quilting design just evolved out of my random practice quilting and I really do like it. The quilting is a little more dense than I would normally do on my sewing machine and I was a little concerned that it would make the quilt too stiff and not as soft and cuddly but it seems to not be an issue.

It has taken a little while to get to this quilt done - the top has been finished and ready for quilting since early November but I was waiting for my quilt frame/machine to be ready for use before I quilted it. When I was sewing the blocks together I was wondering if my colour selections were a little too narrow and that it would look blah but it turned out wonderfully warm and rich with colour! Fun & Games uses the Domino Block placed on-point and although my original design just had a plain border I am very happy with the addition of the checkerboard border. I think the checkerboard complements the quilt top perfectly. Fun & Games finished at 78" x 89" - not as long as I would have liked but it is what it is. I quilted it with off-white thread and it is bound with the same fabric used in the inner border.

The backing is a beige/tan paisley that wasn't quite wide enough so I added a pieced strip of fabric to the center using leftover fabric from the quilt top. Fun & Games will be going to my nephew Andrew and I hope that he enjoys it for many years!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What About the Quilt Frame and Machine?

Recently I posted about my new to me purchase of a Janome 1600P and Little Grace II frame. Before I purchased it I had done a lot of research about the problems that are quite common with this set up so I was prepared for "just in case". Well it turns out that it was a very good thing that I had done all of that research. When I first brought it home, my husband noticed that it was quite wobbly and he discovered that the frame was not put together solidly so he basically took most of it apart and tightened everything up - it is so handy to have an engineer in the house, he can figure out and fix just about anything! Once that was done, I was able to try to quilt and I made this sample.
The Back....How Horrible is That?
Look how horrible it is! I knew I needed to adjust the tension starting with the bobbin but I was having so much difficulty. I realized that there was a problem with both of the bobbin cases that I received with the machine. No matter how much I loosened the tension on the bobbin case and adjusted it on the top I was having major problems. The bobbins didn't fit into the case properly, the threads were breaking and on and on. So, I took them to my LQS which just happens to be a Janome dealer to see if they could help solve my problem. I left the bobbin cases with the Tech Shop and the technician called me the next day to tell me that they were 'out of round' and that she had managed to get them back into the correct shape - best of all she didn't charge me anything and I didn't have to replace them. The next challenge was this
Cracked Track

Peeling Track

the tracks were cracked and peeling away. This was causing a lot of problems when trying to move the carriage when quilting - lots of bumps and jerking motions. I totally expected this problem and knew how to solve it. I had my husband buy some 1/4" stainless steel rods (they cut them to size for us) and my husband filed the ends, cleaned them up and then installed them. It only cost $28 and I tell you it was money well spent. My system is perfect now - I practiced with it yesterday and today and what a difference. I just need to practice a lot more and I think the best way to do that is to just quilt a quilt. I thought I would start with a free-motion meandering design but when I was practicing today I came up with this and I really like it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Orca Bay - Week 2

Yippee...I got all of my little string blocks sewn and trimmed. I actually trimmed them while watching/listening to the movie 'The Green Mile' on Sunday. My work area was such a mess as I made the blocks that eventually I ended up with just a little tiny part of the table to work on. It was overtaken by strings!
Removing the paper/before trimming

I used onion skin for my foundation paper and a small stitch length and I had no trouble at all removing it from the blocks. This paper is very thin and smooth on one side and a little bit rougher on the other. I placed my fabric strings on the rougher side and it helped them to stay in place while I was sewing. I removed the paper and lightly spray starched and pressed my little squares before cutting them to size. I found when I made the string blocks for RRCB that if I actually cut them to size before removing the papers they didn't measure up properly.
Switching to this ruler helped with the error of my ways!

Smooth trimming now!
The first block I trimmed was a big oh no! My first thought was what have I done - maybe I should have left the paper on as a trimming guide! I was a little bit worried thinking I had all these blocks to trim and that I was going to have lots of booboo's. After seeing the results from the first ruler I used I tried this one and .... worked out. I was able to see the measurements much more clearly and didn't have any more bad cuts. Check out Bonnie Hunter's blog so you can sign up for Orca Bay and join in the fun!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Brown Week 4

We are coming to the end of another month and I just cannot believe how quickly time is flying by! This is the final installment for the colour brown and I am definitely not finished with my quilt. I finished sewing all of my blocks and I have 32 in total plus a couple little bits that weren't enough to make a complete block. For this quilt I used scrap pieces from Fun & Games (not the best picture!), Pathways, Michael Joseph's Quilt of Many Colours and Leftovers to name a few. I am having a bit of a problem though and that is I really do like what I am seeing and I want to make it bigger! I have basically used up most of the scrap bits so I will have to cut into larger pieces of fabric - I do still have plenty to choose from. So that's it - I would like it to finish around 80" x 96" or even a bit longer. I really do like quilts that you can pull up and cuddle under in bed (or on the couch) without any toes sticking out - not that it is a problem for me but my sons are both over 6' tall (and my husband is pretty tall too!). I am not sure who this quilt will go to but I have lots of candidates because in my quest to make all family members a quilt I have 14 nephews to choose from.

I don't know what the name of this block pattern is but it consists of 2 4-patches and 2 16-patches. My block will finish at 8". I think I would like to make this pattern again and use pretty feminine colours! Hop on over to SoScrappy's blog and see what everyone else has worked on this week.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Still Loving Leftovers

This is what my design wall looks like today and I love it! I have been spending bits of time here and there working on these blocks and I now have 45 made. My plan is to make 130 blocks in total - that would make my quilt finish at approx. 80" x 104". I say approximately because it really does depend on how accurate my piecing is! Each block will finish at 8" and I do not plan on putting any borders on this quilt. Yesterday, I stacked all of the block components together so I can just grab and sew whenever I have time but I found that either I didn't make enough of the the little 4-patches or I cut too many of the other pieces. I guess it doesn't really matter right now. I will just keep on sewing and if I need more 4-patches I can make them when I need them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Orca Bay - Week 1

I am so excited because I finished making all of the little hourglass blocks! I feel like I should ring a bell - DING- I'm done! I didn't get to start working on it until Monday and I was feeling really envious of all the participants that started it on Friday. I just could not make the time for it until then but I have certainly made up for it. It helped that I woke up really early this morning and for some reason I just could not go back to sleep, so I got up at 3:45 am and went into my sewing room and just worked away for a few hours. I had a few things to take care of in the morning and then back to work and I finished at lunch time.

I decided to stick with Bonnie's colour selections and play it safe. I used a variety of black and an even wider variety of neutrals. They turned out quite this point all I can say is I hope it works! Now I have to go and check out what everyone else came up with - there is a long list so I know it will certainly take me some time to visit everyone. Follow the link to Bonnie's blog and find the info for this mystery quilt-along at the top of the page and you can join in too!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting to Goal - Meeting the Challenge

On Wednesday, Jan-Maree from Cherry Red Quilter challenged me to iron all of the fabric that has been cluttering up my sewing area and to have it all done by bedtime today. She dared me to show before and after pictures and you can read all about it and see the before pictures here. I just wanted to show that I was able to meet the challenge and I got it all done before I went to the dentist yesterday. Don't let the picture fool you because that is a lot of fabric folks! It was a lot of work but it feels really great to have all of the fabric taken care of. It really wasn't too bad....I had a lot of company while I ironed - between these two wonders of technology I had a great time - okay - maybe not a great time but it was tolerable.

I was visited by the likes of Carole King, Janis Joplin, Pearl Jam, Boston, Bob Marlee, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Meat Loaf, The Guess Who, Neil Young, Eric Clapton and Bob Seger. I had my own little private party going on and I enjoyed the time I spent with them. Don't tell my husband but I think I am having a close personal relationship with Bob Seger. I am pretty certain he was singing directly to me!!

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Brown Week 3

Wow - this week has flown by and I really have not had a lot of time to work on my brown blocks for the scrap challenge. I did get all of the 4-patches sewn into little tiny 16-patches. These are so little and so cute - they will finish at only 4"!

Yesterday, when I got back from my dental appointment (cleaning and exam) I got dinner started and after eating I made my way to my sewing room and started sewing 2.5" squares into pairs. I just sewed away and made as many as I could. I didn't take the time to count them I just wanted to sew! I am pretty sure that I will need to make some more and then they all need to be sewn into 4-patches. Once that is done, block construction can begin.

I won't have time to sew today because I have to drive my son, Eric, to Toronto for a mid-term exam. Our regional transit system is on strike and has been for several weeks and it really is making it very challenging for my son to commute to university! While he is writing his exam I will spend my time visiting with my Mom and sisters. That is always time well spent!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November FNSI Results

Friday Night Sew-In was a success at my house! I had a bit of an early start, which was a good thing because I really needed the extra time. I had selected my fabrics - I needed one main fabric and one coordinating fabric for the lining/pockets for each set of tea totes and tissue holders. I chose darker colours because I don't know about you but the bottom of my purse can get pretty murky! My early start allowed me to pre-cut all of the fabric prior to starting my sewing for the evening. It is just as well because I didn't finish up until after 11 pm and by then I was really tired and making silly mistakes like sewing the main fabric wrong side out! 

First off, I made a test set and they looked pretty good to me so I was off to the races and I made seven more sets. One for each of my sisters, my Mom, and one for me of course. The tutorials were very easy to follow and I found the tissue holder very simple to make. The tea totes were a little more complicated and I made a slight change to the closure from a button tab to a velcro tab. It just worked better for me. I just need to hand-stitch the turning opening on the tea totes and then these Christmas gifts will be complete.