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 .... whew....it 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 cute....at 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.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In

Handmade by Heidi

Tomorrow night is Friday Night Sew-In and I am not going to allow anything to distract me from participating (even a big pile of fabric that needs to be ironed!). Last month I had such good intentions and then it all went to....well let's just say I was unable to join in. I really, really need to get on to making some Christmas gifts for my sisters and Mom. I thought I would make them some tissue holders as well as some tea bag totes. Last year I made them bags and crochet wash cloths and they all seemed to be pretty happy with their gifts. Oh my, as I was getting this post organized, I noticed that Bonnie Hunter has blogged a reminder that the first part of the Orca Bay mystery is being revealed tomorrow.....I must not get sidetracked...I really need to get these Christmas gifts made. Click on the FNSI icon and hop on over to Heidi's blog and sign yourself up.

Getting to Goal - A Challenge

Jan-Maree from Cherry Red Quilter has issued a challenge to me and I really do hope that I will achieve it. She has challenged me to get all of this fabric ironed before bedtime on Sunday! She also dared me to show before and after pictures.  I will tell you that showing these before pictures makes me feel like I am lifting my petticoats to the world!

This challenge came about because I was lamenting about the piles of fabric in my sewing room. Don't get me wrong, I love and use all of my fabric and I am very grateful and thankful that I have it. But, in my quest to achieve my goal of being more organized so that I can work on multiple projects at a time without feeling buried by them, I had described one of my barriers to that goal as being the piles of fabric that needed to be ironed. My sister, Cheryl, used to iron most of my fabric for me but since she started quilting she has not had any time. So this fabric has accumulated over a period of time and I just rummage through it and cut off a piece of fabric as I need it and then just throw it back into the pile. Well, my pile of fabric has grown and toppled over into multiple piles and just keeps getting in the way. I often have to move it around to access the fabric that is ironed and put away. It is just more stuff that I need to keep shifting around in my sewing room and I really do need to get it put away!

I did start ironing it yesterday and this is what I have accomplished so far. I will definitely be ironing again today because Sunday evening will be here in no time and I want to meet the challenge.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude is Finished!

I love this quilt! The top was made while participating in the Garden Fence Quilt-along and I can say that I am very glad that I did participate. Many of the fabrics used in this quilt were from fat quarters that I had received in packets over a period of time from my LQS through their Bargain Lover's Club. I supplemented these fabrics with fabric from my stash and...voila!...I have a gorgeous quilt to give as a gift to someone who gave me courage. I am hoping that it is to her taste and that she enjoys it as much as I do!

This quilt finished at approx 78" x 99" and is quilted with white thread in a loopy-loop free-motion design that I quilted on my Janome MC6600. The backing is a wonderful deep pink and I used one of the fabrics from the front for the binding.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Working to Goal

Wow, it's amazing how just identifying the problem makes things seem a little less overwhelming. I am already making progress on my goal of getting quilts finished. I chose to work on my quilt "Gratitude" first because it was the one that was furthest along. I needed to trim it up, make the binding and sew it by machine to the front and make the label. Well, I got that finished yesterday and I was also able to start hand-stitching the binding to the back last night while watching Jurassic Park. I am pretty sure that movie has been on tv a dozen times recently! There are so many great movies available so why do they have to keep showing the same ones over and over?

This morning, I trimmed up the scraps from the backing and binding into strips and smaller pieces and put them away. That really does feel great because that means I won't be shifting the scraps around my sewing room while they are waiting for me to take care of them. I don't want to fall into the trap of "saving" my scraps up and trimming them later. I learned that lesson a while ago because it took me a long time to dig myself out of that hole.

Hopefully, I will be posting tomorrow and showing my finished quilt!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Too Many Projects

Leftovers Quilt
I have decided that I have too many projects on the go and it is starting to feel a little overwhelming. I need to make some time so I can make some Christmas presents and I also want to make a liner for Molly's (my mini schnauzer) winter coat. I also have a few other things that I want to work on but my sewing room has so many in-progress projects on all the sewing/cutting/ironing areas that it leaves little room for anything else. It is beginning to feel a little claustrophobic - does anyone else feel like this?? In light of this, I have decided that I am not going to start anymore quilts (except Orca Bay) until I have finished a few that I have been working on. I will be putting my Jacob's Ladder quilt aside for a short period of time so that I can focus on getting some finishes. I have several quilts that are very close to completion and I just need to focus my time on getting them done.

I am still working on my Leftover's quilt and I have quite a few blocks made. I really like the way this quilt looks and it is not difficult at all to piece together. I have all the pieces cut and I just need to sew them together. I don't think this quilt will have borders so it should not take me too long to finish. This quilt will be going to my son Adam - his birthday is in January and I would love to be able to give it to him as a birthday gift.

I recently started another quilt for this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge. At this point, I plan on working on it for just the month of November and then I may put it away temporarily. I will reassess this at the end of the month because I really don't want to put it away unless it is at the flimsy stage. I just don't want to have to keep track of any partial blocks and loose pieces and then try and figure out where I left off.
I decided to go with a checkerboard border on my Fun and Games quilt top and it is now finished and ready to become a quilt. The checkerboard border fits in with the theme of the quilt. I made the quilt top using the Domino block set on-point. Sorry my picture looks waaaay too yellow. My husband told me it was because the flash was not turned on. I have the camera set to "Easy" and I thought the flash would go on automatically. Not so - unless you have it set to do that. I have now changed the setting but I somehow doubt that it will fix my lack of photography skills - but I can only hope!
Fun & Games
I have already quilted "Gratitude" and I just need to trim it up and put the binding on. "Gratitude's" sister quilt "Courage" is all ready to be layered and quilted as is Roll, Roll Cotton Boll. I was hoping to quilt all of these unfinished tops using my new-to-me frame and machine but I am not ready to use it for anything other than practice. I have a few issues that need to be tweaked with the frame and I am hoping that I will be able to practice with it sometime this week. I will definitely save RRCB to quilt on the frame but I really can quilt the others on my Janome MC6600 without too much trouble if need be. I was just hoping to bypass the basting process - I may try basting them on the frame and see if I am successful. Now I really must get away from the computer and get into my sewing room!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Brown Week 2

I did quite a bit of work on my brown 4-patches this week. I have made enough 4-patches to complete 30 blocks and I have sewn them all into pairs. I guess that means that the quilt layout will be 5 x 6 and it should end up being twin sized depending on the border treatment I choose. I did have to raid some of the 1.5" strips so that I would have enough 4-patches to make a decent sized quilt. My next step is to sew all of paired 4-patches together to make little 16-patches. Each block requires two 16-patches and two larger 4-patches. I plan on getting the 16-patches completed this week.

Why not drop by soscrappy's blog and see what everyone else has going on this week!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jacob's Ladder - Week 7

Another installment of my Jacob's Ladder blocks - 2 more blocks made this week. I made these blocks from fabrics that I have used in earlier blocks so they do look quite familiar. I think for next week's blocks I will choose fabrics that I haven't already used. As we all know "variety is the spice of life"!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Grace Frame and Janome 1600P

Quilting frame right oustide my sewing room door!
Last week I mentioned that I went on a little road trip to Elmira with my sisters, Glenda, Cheryl and Christine. The reason for my visit was I went to see this quilt frame and sewing machine that were for sale. I did buy it that day but I couldn't bring it home because it really would not fit in my car. It is a Grace II queen size quilt frame and a Janome 1600P sewing machine. Let me tell you I was soooo excited that I couldn't wait to get it home. My nephew Norman has a pick-up truck and last Friday evening my husband and I met him in Elmira and he very generously drove it to my place. That is just about a 5 hour driving trip for him from start to finish plus the time to load and unload the vehicle. What a wonderful nephew - I can't thank him enough!!

The woman that sold me the set-up, Marilyn, was a very generous person. She included lots of attachments - extra feet, a clip-on light, and lots of books! When we were there for the initial visit she showed my sister Glenda a quilt top that she had made and my sister loved it so much that she bought it. The quilt was not finished so Marilyn included all of the finishing materials - backing, batting, quilting thread and extra fabric. There had to be at least 3-4m of extra fabric from small to large remnants and even some much larger pieces. My sister Glenda was absolutely thrilled! I don't have a picture of the quilt top but if I get one I will post it - it really is very nice indeed.

Marilyn was not at home when we picked up the frame but she left me another little surprise to take home with me. She had left a bag that had this fabric in it.
4 meters of wonderful fabric for Project Linus quilts!
She had visited my blog and saw that I had made a quilt for Project Linus so she gave me this fabric to make more quilts for donation. Thank you Marilyn - you are a very generous, kind and thoughtful person - but that is to be expected - you are a quilter after all!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thank You!

I received The Liebster Blog award from Jan-Maree of Cherry Red Quilter - thank you for the compliment! This blog award is given to bloggers who are "up and coming" and who have less than 200 followers. Even though I have been resistant to receiving any blog awards Jan-Maree has been quite persistant and has finally prevailed. I have never been very good at chain-letters (that alone will tell you how old I am) and I never seem to pass them along - not even the new email versions. So, keeping that in mind I give this award to all bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Please feel free to copy and paste the Liebster Blog award to your blog and pass it on to other bloggers who also have less than 200 followers.

Blogging is a wonderful form of show and tell and I love seeing and reading about what other quilters are working on. We all put so much of ourselves into making our quilts (and other articles) and it does feel really good when others appreciate our efforts. When visitors leave comments it is very encouraging especially because it is usually always such positive feedback. I had never heard of quilt blogs until about 2 years ago and I was absolutely stunned and amazed at what I was seeing and reading about. Quilters truly are artists and the creativity that is out in "blogland" is overwhelming at times. If only we could all be blessed with the time we need to make all the projects on our continually growing "to make someday" lists. If you are still reading this post - thank you!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November Rainbow Scrap Challenge

The scrap challenge for this month is brown - all shades and colour variations are included. Well, it just so happens that I have recently been working on quilts that include the colour brown so I have plenty of scraps all ready to go. Luckily, I have been very good at keeping my scraps under control and I have been cutting and sorting them pretty well as soon as I have finished the quilt tops. I have an abundance of 1.5" twosies all ready made up and waiting (they were extras from my Leftover's quilt) as well as a variety of 2.5" squares and 2.5" x 4.5" bricks.

I have sewn the twosies into 4-patches and I may have settled on this block pattern. As you can see it uses the little 4-patches and also includes larger 4-patches made up from 2.5" squares. I may not have enough of the little 4-patches made but I still have plenty of 1.5" strips that I can use to make them up as needed. I am not too sure how big this quilt will be but I certainly hope that it is at least single bed size by the time I am done with it! Take a little trip over to soscrappy's blog and see what everyone else is up to this month.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jacob's Ladder - Week 5 & 6

Jacob's Ladder Blocks week 5 & 6
 I missed last week's installment so I decided to make up for it by making 4 blocks this week instead of 2. I apologize for the blurry picture - I don't know what happened other than I may have taken the picture without my glasses on!

This how they all look together so far. The one bright block still sticks out but I think as I add more variety it will blend in and if not I can always omit it. On another note, Happy Birthday to my brother Aron!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Trimming those Pesky HSTs

Trimming bonus hsts is so tedious and tiresome but really so worthwhile in the end because when done you have these wonderful squares all ready to use in a new and exciting project. These black half square triangles were bonus hsts from my quilt Bella Butterfly. I had originally started trimming them when I was actually making the quilt but then they got put aside. I picked them up and started trimming them again quite some time ago and I worked on them a little bit and then they just hung around my family room for a long time until I finally moved them back into my sewing room - I guess I just gave up. Unfortunately, I totally forgot about them when we had black for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I thought I didn't have anything that I could use but look how many I had! I am really disappointed that I didn't get to use them because the whole point of making the bonus hsts and spending the extra time double sewing them is to actually use them. I found them yesterday (and lots of others) while I was tidying my sewing room and I decided to start trimming them again. Well, I very nearly gave up on them again because I found that even though I had a new blade in my cutter I just had to press so hard that my upper body started to feel uncomfortable...but I think I have solved my problem and trimming them just wasn't so bad after all. My solution is that I used a titanium blade in my cutter and what a difference. I bought these new blades to try out a little while ago when I had a 50% off coupon for our local craft chain store and it really made the job soooo much easier. I finished trimming all of the 2" black hsts and I started working on some others too. It doesn't look like there are very many here but I can assure you that there is a lot!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Courage

I have completed this quilt top in the nick of time - I had most of the sashing sewn and the blocks joined together and I just needed to finish up a small area. I really had hoped to also have it quilted but...c'est la vie. It really is a smaller version of Gratitude (which is exactly what I wanted) and I am quite happy with both quilts. At one point, I had thought about adding another border but I decided to just leave it as it is. I found what I think is the perfect backing for it. It is white and pink and has words on it like "courage" and I bought it while on one of my little trips last week. It has little pink ribbons on it too so I guess it must be from a fabric collection supporting breast cancer. Even though this quilt is not about breast cancer the fabric really does represent what this quilt really is all about - Courage!

Please forgive my wrinkles!
Courage backing