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!