Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks - Soldier Star

Soldier Star Blocks
Yesterday, I finished marking all of my sewing lines for the hsts and the bonus triangles. It did take a bit of extra time but I think it is going to save me more in the long run. I did it while I watched tv so it really was quite painless. I got a sheet of very fine sandpaper from my husband and I clipped it to a clipboard. I was able to fit 5 or 6 squares at a time on the paper and I marked my lines in one direction and just turned the clipboard around to mark the second set of lines - easy peasy. I sewed two of the blocks together yesterday and two more today. I was a little concerned about how the one on the lower left turned out. The background fabric looks quite busy but I think once all the blocks are made it should blend in okay. I guess I can always change it later if it bothers me too much. Just about everything has been prepared ahead of time so it really is not taking me too long to do the actual sewing of these blocks. For each one I sew together I am getting 8 bonus hsts and I am also sewing 2" squares into twosies as leaders and enders.

So far my bonus hsts are turning out accurate at 2". Normally, when I try to take advantage of the bonus hsts they either end up too big or too small and I have to spend quite a lot of time (boring!) trimming them to a standard size. I think this way may be much easier and less frustrating.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Baby Bliss

Baby Bliss - Basted
Since my last post I have added the sashing and cornerstones to the outer edge of the quilt top and I have it all basted. Wow - it didn't take very long to baste it at all! I believe the name of this block is Grandmother's Choice and it does have a very old-fashioned look to me. The block was very simple to put together and I think it looks great. I didn't add any borders because it will just be too big. I bought just over 1m of fabric for the backing so the quilt top can't be wider than 1 panel width and I am really cutting it close. I hope when I quilt it I don't run into any trouble - I am just about at the selvedge edge. The fabric that I am using for the backing is just so darn cute.

Baby Bliss Backing Fabric
I subscribe to my LQS Bargain Hunter's Club - which is a bundle of several coordinated fat quarters that is sent out monthly. I really like getting these because I often receive bits of fabric that I might not otherwise have purchased so it adds variety to my stash and it is always a surprise when I open the package. Last month, when I received my package it contained a bundle of really cute children's fabric and the last time I went fabric shopping I picked up some of it for the back of this quilt. I haven't made my final decision, but I think I may quilt this "in-the-ditch". We will see what happens when I actually sit down in front of my sewing machine. I still haven't made a final decision what I will use for the binding other than it needs to be purple!

I had a wonderful Good Friday, my eldest son, Adam came home for a visit. It was so nice to see him (I always miss him terribly) and it was wonderful to have my whole little family together for the day. Happy Easter to those that celebrate!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks - A New Quilt

Fabrics all ready to go!
I have spent the last few days getting my fabrics all prepared for starting this new quilt. I will be making this quilt for one of my nephews (I have 14 to choose from) but I haven't decided which one yet. I have selected all the fabrics that I will be using and I have cut them into the required sizes. There are lots of hsts in this block and also an opportunity to make some bonus hsts from making the star points. I am following the method as directed in the quilt block instructions and cutting my fabric for the hsts 2-7/8" and I will mark my cutting/sewing lines before I start sewing everything together. Hopefully, that will help me keep the size accurate. I can do the all of the marking while watching tv. Once I have completed all the preparations it should be a snap to stitch it all together. This block is #172 - Soldier's Star and was designed by Carol Hopkins. I have decided to keep all my stars green and cut from the same fabric and I am using an assortment of brown/tan/rust/gold fabrics as well as neutrals. I think I will use all the same fabrics within each individual block but have each block different. I may change my mind once I see how they come together but for now that is my plan. I expect the layout to be 6 x 7 and each block finishes at 12". I am not sure yet what I will do for the border. I can make that decision a little further along in the process. I am getting excited to start sewing and seeing how the quilt will look completed.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Purple - Baby Bliss

Baby Bliss for Lily
I have made really good progress on this baby quilt and so far so good.  I am very pleased with the way it looks. It feels terrific to use up some of those hsts but the top really is not baby-ish looking. The backing fabric I have chosen certainly makes up for that - it will be so cute! I did decide to go with adding the sashing to the blocks and using cornerstones instead of just long straight sashing strips. It gives it a little more visual interest. I planned on adding a border of the solid purple but the more I look at the picture I realize that I should have added the sashing and cornerstones to the outer edges as well. It certainly would have been easier to do it as I was making the blocks but I will just have to add them in long strips. Unfortunately, I won't have enough of the solid purple for the binding so I may use some of the leftover fabric bits from the backing I used for Bella Butterfly instead. I will make my final decision when I get to that point. This quilt will be going to my great niece, Lily, and she is just the cutest little thing! She was born in December so I am a little late in making this quilt, but I do have time on my side to get it all done because I won't be delivering it until May.

I am off to do some blog cruising to check out what everyone else has worked on for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In Results

Well, what can I say? What a mess...I really, really need lots of practice. I am totally embarrassed to show this but when I improve (hopefully it won't take too long) it will be a good reminder of where I started. I decided to practice my quilting using red thread so that I can show my lack of skill in all its glory. Some of this may be really bad but I do have hope that with practice there will be significant improvement. Time needs to be spent on a regular basis to make sure I do improve so I think I will make up a bunch of practice pieces and have them at the ready. Maybe, I will just practice as a warm-up before actually quilting something but, honestly, I need to practice much more frequently than that. I also need to have some pre-marked with designs of some sort so that I can follow the lines and work on control. Part of the problem may be that I need to be higher in my chair to see better. I am only 5' tall and I have my chair set at the highest level (and I sit on a pillow too!) with my foot pedal raised off the floor but I don't think it is enough. I hope I am not too optimistic and that I actually will improve.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quilt Disaster!

Flowers for Christine before washing
Last week, in preparation for my visit with my sisters I decided to wash the 3 quilts that I was going to be delivering. The first one I washed was Flowers for Christine and disaster struck! When I took it out of the washing machine I noticed that red dye had bled all over it.


It had totally discoloured all of the light fabrics on the front as well as the backing. Not only that, there were also dark streaks where the red border/binding had touched the surface of the quilt while in the washing machine.

I was so disappointed because this was a surprise gift for my sister and I was quite proud of the way it had turned out. I decided to give it to Christine anyway and explained what happened and how badly I felt about it. She didn't seem to care that the quilt was "really aged" before she got it and was consoling me about it. While visiting we also planned on going to Sew Sisters Quilt Shop (no affiliation other than I shop there!) to pick up a roll of batting and check out some fabric. Cheryl wanted to take Christine's quilts to show them - I was hesitant because I was feeling really bad about "the disaster". I am so glad that we did show the quilts because Judy from Sew Sisters may have the cure for the quilt. She gave me a bottle of Grandma's Secret Spot Remover to try and see if it will remove the trouble. She has had great success with this product and felt that it just might work for me. I haven't tried it yet because I want to somehow get some colour catchers first so that I don't have more colour bleeding to contend with. I prewash all of my fabrics and this is the first time that I have encountered this issue on a quilt. Once I do rewash this quilt I will update the results, hopefully, it will be a happy ending! Thankfully, Lucky Stars and Full of Wonder washed up beautifully and dried to a nice, wonderful crinkly texture.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In

I have finally decided what I will be working on for the Friday Night Sew-In - I think. I had been lamenting to my sister Cheryl that when I quilt by sewing machine it always is "meandering". I truly do love quilting in this style. The movement/motion/design just comes from within and it is what it is. There is no pre-planning or anything like that - it just happens. I am feeling like I need to branch out and stretch my abilities and try to learn to free-motion quilt using a different style/pattern. I don't think I want to do that on a whole quilt to start with but I do have lots of orphan blocks that I could practice on or maybe even just any fabric will do. So that's it - I will practice some other form of free-motion quilting on friday night. Time will need to be spent this week to prepare the blocks and myself for this adventure. I will be out of my comfort zone - please wish me luck because I have a feeling I will need it! If you want to join in the fun just click on the picture to sign up at Handmade by Heidi's blog.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bella Butterfly - Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks

Bella Butterfly
Bella Butterfly is all done! I finished the quilting on Bella Butterfly on Thursday and I finished hand stitching the binding early on Saturday morning. (I tried to get a picture on Saturday but just was not able to.) What can I say - except I really love it. I love how wonderful the colourful butterflies look against the black background. Once the top was completed, I purchased the fabric that I thought I was going to use for the backing but then I saw this purple one.

Bella Butterfly Backing

It has purple butterflies all over it - what could be better!!! I still really like the fabric that I had originally purchased so it will go on another quilt. This quilt was really not difficult to make at all - the blocks were very simple to sew and because it was sewn using the stitch and flip method and I double sewed all the triangles I got a ton of bonus half-square triangles.

Trimming Bonus HSTs

Originally, I was trying to keep up with the trimming of these little triangle squares but then I gave up. I will work on them at some point during tv time so they will be ready to go when I need them for another quilt.

More bonus HSTs

 I will be giving this quilt to my sister Sandra - it is just perfect for her. The finished quilt measures approx. 71" x 93"and I free-motion quilted it in a meandering pattern with white thread. This block pattern can be found in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks (vol. 2) and was designed by Darlene Zimmerman. You can see other blocks and quilts that were made from patterns in this magazine by visiting Tea at Teaquilts. I am all ready to start cutting the fabric for the next quilt that I will be making using another block from the magazine. Hopefully, I will have something to show soon!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Purple Baby Quilt

Baby Quilt
This is the progress I have made so far on the purple baby quilt for this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge. So far I am very happy with my choice of using the purple/purple hst squares. As you can see, some turquoise has also crept into the quilt top. That is what happens when you use up leftover bits and pieces from another quilt. These blocks will finish at 5" - I still have several more blocks to make because when I make a baby quilt I like it big enough that it can be used for many years by a young child. At this point, I am still on track for my original design that I had sketched out. I haven't decided whether to make the sashing in long strips or to just add smaller strips to each block and then stitch it all together. I have also been thinking about whether I will need to have cornerstones within the sashing. I won't make that decision until I start laying out the finished blocks with the sashing strips on my design wall. Now I am off to see what everyone else has made this week.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Purple

Leftover HSTs from Purple Love
Oh my, I love the colour purple! For this month's challenge I had hoped for pink or purple because I needed to make a baby girl quilt. I had been thinking about what design I was going to use and as I was searching around for my pink and purple scraps (strips, squares, rectangles, strings), I found a bin of leftover half-square triangles. I had made a purple/turquoise quilt for my niece Eva-Anne that I called Purple Love and it was made with a ton of purple/purple hst, purple/neutral hst, and neutral/neutral hst and of course I made way too many. Once the colour was announced I decided that I would use some of the purple/purple hst in the baby quilt. First I did a rough sketch of my plan -
Baby Quilt Design Notes
and then I decided what fabric and sizes I would use for the center square and rectangles for the block. I also needed to decide what I will use for sashing between each block.  Now that I have that all out of the way I am ready to start!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Love "Finishes"

Finished Quilts!
I am starting to feel really good - I was feeling a little bogged down because I had way too many unfinished quilts on my list. I know that some quilters have a UFO list a mile long but I feel the need to have "finishes". For the month of March I completed 3 quilts - Full of Wonder, Lucky Stars and Flowers for Christine. I also made a little taggy quilt for my puppy, Molly. I really had hoped to also get Bella Butterfly completed before the end of March but I will have it completed early in April. My participation in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge has been slightly curtailed because I just couldn't feel creative nor could I add more to the "stuff" that needed to be finished. I feel terrific about my progress! I do still have a few other projects that are in various stages of completion  -

  • Roll Roll Cotton Boll - ready to be sewn into a quilt top
  • various string/scrap blocks
  • green/white/orange quilt - basted and ready to be quilted
  • gold/teal/raspberry quilt top (not sure what to do with it)
  • Seven Sisters (7 quilts that are a long term hand-stitching and hand-quilting project)
  • tons of scraps to be sorted and cut into useable pieces
I am also just about ready to start making another quilt using a block design from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. I have the block pattern picked out and "sort of" decided on the fabrics. Now I just have to get going on it. I also have an idea for a purple baby quilt for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I am feeling energized!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lucky Stars is Done!

Lucky Stars

Lucky Stars

Yeah.....I am so happy!!!!! This is the quilt that I made for the Raven Stars Quilt-Along and it was designed by a young student. I started basting this quilt on Tuesday and finished that process on Wednesday morning. The next step was to quilt it and, for some reason, I had a quite a few issues while quilting this baby. My thread kept breaking and I was getting skipped stitches - my needle broke and I was having bobbin issues - arrrrh! I had cleaned and oiled my machine and changed the needle before I started working on this quilt and yet I had so many problems. I also changed my needle a couple times as well as replaced my bobbins to try and fix things but I just don't know what was going on. Anyway, I overcame all the troubles and got the quilting completed on Wednesday. On Thursday, I attached the binding by machine to the front and then hand stitched it to the back - just in time to have another finish for March. I have been feeling quite driven to get my quilt tops made into quilts and I am succeeding! I have decided that this little number will be going to my sister Cheryl. She is moving into a new apartment and I think it will make a great house-warming gift. The green fabric that I used on the front of the quilt was also used in another quilt I made for her - Magic Spinners. (I will write another post about that quilt at some point.) I absolutely love the black and white fabric that I used for the backing. 
Back of Lucky Stars
I still have some leftover and there is probably enough fabric to make pillowcases or pillows if she would like some. This quilt measures approx. 71" x 81" and was quilted in a meandering design using white thread.