Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brown Quilt Has a Name!

Wow - last night I just had so much trouble sleeping. I really only got about an hour and after tossing and turning for a couple more I just decided to get up and get going. I quietly slipped into my sewing room and away I went! I turned all of these mini 4-patches (there were approx 384 of them) that I had been making over the past week into sets of two and then I continued on to making them into 16-patches. I ended up with 96 16-patches that will finish at 4" but I don't think that is quite enough (I am too tired to think) so I may have to make a couple more once I sew all of the blocks together. While I was working on them I was trying to think of a name for this quilt and I have decided that it will be called Earthtones. Sounds so much nicer to me than 'the brown quilt'!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dear Jane - One, Two Buckle My Shoe (A-2)

This little block turned out so darned cute and it's lucky it did because it took me a long time to sew it together. I decided to time how long it would take for me to sew it together in a relaxed manner and it took me just over 2.5 hours. Now that does include the little bit of extra time it took me to unsew and fix the section that I had added incorrectly...grrr. All is well that ends well and I think it ended perfectly!

Before I could get to sewing it I needed to do my prep work. I had already traced the pattern for this block onto freezer paper so my block template was ready for cutting and ironing onto my fabric pieces. Once I did that I just traced around each piece with my mechanical pencil and then cut them all out making sure to leave enough fabric around the pieces for my seam allowance.

After I cut them out I had a major oh-oh moment and then a light bulb went on....I really do need to mark each template piece and the corresponding pieces in the block pattern for placement position. Yikes...I needed to get this pile of 40 teeny, tiny pieces into the correct arrangement.

I did manage to get it all sorted out and I set it on the table in the correct order for sewing and hoped no-one would come along and mess it all up.

I can see that this project is going to take me quite a long time to complete. I hope to make at least one block per week. The block coming up for next week is a little bit scary for me because it requires applique and that is something totally new for me!

Monday, February 27, 2012

I Have Courage!

My sad attempt at being artsy!
A couple days ago I posted about my progress on this little quilt. I had just finished quilting it and it only needed trimming and binding. I am so happy to say that it is now finished! This quilt is a smaller version of my Gratitude quilt that I gave to someone who helped me to see that I have Courage. While I was making the original quilt I just kept thinking about my courage and how for so many years I didn't think I had any at all. When Gratitude was finished I had some extra blocks left so I decided to make a quilt for me from the leftovers. I will be keeping this quilt for use in my family room so that every time I look at it I will be reminded that I am strong, that I have courage!

This quilt finished at 55" x 65" - a perfect size for cuddling on the couch. It is bound with scrappy binding from fabrics that were used on the front and the backing is a pink/white flower print with inspirational words on it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sapphire Bay (Orca Bay) is a Quilt!

My husband thinks it has a Native American look about it!
Saturday was such a snowy day and I was supposed to be running errands but I just did not want to drive in it so I ended up spending the whole morning sewing the binding on Sapphire Bay instead. Sapphire Bay had to wait it's turn to get worked on and I am so happy with the way it has turned out. Definitely well worth the wait! I think it is another stunning design from Bonnie Hunter that she has so generously made available to everyone. This mystery was so much fun because with the added weekly link-up it kept me on my toes. It was great fun to be able to see how other quilters were coming along with their quilts and to see so many different versions was fabulous to say the least. I am already looking forward to next year's mystery quilt-along!

Sapphire Bay finished at approx. 74.5" x 84" and is quilted with white thread in a free-motion quilting motif that I designed myself. The backing is a red on white, small scale leafy-flower print and I have bound it in solid black. When I first selected the backing fabric I thought it might be just a bit over-the-top with red but it does look good.  I love this quilt and happily it will be staying with me!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Midget Blocks - #51

Call me crazy but I decided the time was right for me to start working on these cute little blocks. They will finish at 4.5" and I plan to make them by machine, paper-piecing and also by hand. I had been seeing these blocks on soscrappy's blog as well as vtquilter's blog and they are so cute! The patterns can be found at Sentimental Stitches but unfortunately I missed out on the first 50 that were available for free (they are available for purchase). So, I have started with #51 and over time I will draft my own first 50 using EQ7. I am pretty sure that EQ7 will have many of the common blocks and the rest I will just figure out/make my own blocks up. I do hope to make one of these little blocks each week and maybe after a couple years I will end up with a gorgeous quilt made from these sweet blocks.

I paper-pieced this block - called Friendship and there are 31 pieces. It came together fairly easily and took just a bit of time. It is hard to see the green fabric that I chose so this is a better look at a larger piece. These little blocks are a great way to use up scraps so I plan to link-up with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge whenever possible.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Courage Quilt

Basting Courage
Yesterday, I spent the day with my sister Cheryl in Toronto and we spent most of the day running errands and shopping. We did manage to squeeze in a bit of a visit with our Mom too! When I got home in the evening, the first thing I did was pop on my ipod and take my dog for a walk. The poor pup misses me terribly when I am not home - my son said she spent the whole day laying near the front door waiting for me! I had planned on getting my Courage quilt basted once I got home and even though I was really done in from our busy day I did manage to get it done. It only took me a couple hours to thread baste it because it really is a small quilt and I had everything ready and set up ahead of time.

Today, I spent a couple hours getting it all quilted. I did it on my Janome MC6600 sewing machine and I quilted it in a loopy-loop design just like I did it's sister quilt - Gratitude. It will have to wait a bit for trimming and for binding because tonight I am going to continue working on sewing the binding onto Sapphire Bay.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Quilter's Work is Never Done!

My sister Cheryl came to visit yesterday because she needed to use my EQ7 to work on some quilt designs. It was so nice to have her visit and while she was working on her project I worked on a few things too. I sewed some little 4-patches together (they will finish at 2") and I added them to these larger 4" 4-patches that I had worked on last week. These tiny 4-patches will turn into 16-patches that will finish at 4".
I need many more mini 4 patches!
Approx 200 4" 4 patches

These are all parts that belong to the brown quilt that I had set aside in November - I had started working on this quilt in November for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge but I had to set it aside for awhile. It was definitely time to get back to this quilt!

Brown quilt as I left it on my design wall!
Another thing I worked on was my Sapphire Bay (Orca Bay) quilt. On Tuesday I got it all trimmed up and I sewed the binding on by machine and yesterday I started hand stitching the binding to the back.

 I am soooo happy with the way this quilt has turned out! I hope to have it all finished in the next couple days.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Building My Little Houses - February

I love them! I made 6 more little houses this week to add to the 4 I had made for FNSI last week. Yaayy - I have reached my monthly building quota and it was so much fun.  All of this building and I didn't even break out in a sweat! Each time I sew a house I get better and better at sewing the inset seams - I bet once I get my neighbourhood all built I will be able sew those seams blindfolded - ha ha. This is a picture of February's houses all together.

Oops - one fell off the wall!
This is what my neighbourhood looks like with my January and February houses all together. I still have to make decisions about what I will use for sashing and/or cornerstones but there is lots of time left for that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Grandmother's Flower Garden

After sharing my preference for thimbles yesterday, I thought I would show the first ever quilt I pieced by hand and hand-quilted. This quilt took many years for me to make. I think I started it in 1998 or '99 and I worked on it off and on for many hours while waiting for my youngest son while he was in his Tae-Kwon-Do class, while spending time visiting my mother-in-law whenever she was hospitalized, while on break at work and during many other bits and pieces of time that make up our lives. There were also lots of times where all of the bits and pieces just sat in the box waiting for me to pick it up and work on it. This quilt finished at 71" x 89".

Normally, a hexagon quilt is made using the English paper-piecing method but not this one. I made a template from sandpaper and traced the cutting and sewing lines on whatever scraps I had available. I did purchase fabric specifically for the pathways between the flowers and the borders. I was so happy once I got the top together and I could see what my quilt would look like. I wanted to do a really scrappy version because this pattern really is depression-era and I am pretty sure that women of that time would have just used what they had. I have to say that some of the flowers in this quilt are not so attractive and others are just so pretty!

When it came time to quilt it I was really clueless and I just got up the courage and went for it. I quilted sort of in-the-ditch around the outer edge of each ring of hexagons. There are 2277 of these hexagons and each side finished at 1". I had no idea that when hand-quilting you use only one strand of thread (this quilt is quilted with two) and that you "pop" the knots into the layers instead of letting them sit on top. My stitches are so far from perfect (there are an awful lot of seams) - some stitches are big, some are crooked but I must say that I did quilt it with joy!

I completed this quilt in May 2007 and I gave it to my mother for Mother's Day with the inscription -

Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother
For all the beautiful flowers in your garden.
Made by hand with love to honour my Mother.

The pattern I used.
The template I used and leftover pieces
My Mother has 9 children, 22 grandchildren and so far 6 great-grandchildren and they are all her flowers from her garden.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Bonnie Hunter from Quiltville is having a link-up for thimble discussions and I thought I would join in. I think it is a great idea because when I first started hand-quilting (I am self-taught) I really was clueless about a lot of things (not just hand-quilting either ha..ha..) When I started out I just used thimbles that I had received from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

See all of those thimbles - none of them really fit my fingers properly and they weren't too comfortable either. I ended up using the smaller closed-end thimble for my middle finger and I used the larger open-ended thimble for my thumb when I was quilting away from me. I think the open-ended ones are called tailor's thimbles and I am not really sure if I was using it the way that it was meant to be used but I used it in a way that worked for me.

I also would use finger condoms (you know, chefs use them when they cut their fingers) to help me to pull the needle through the layers if I needed extra help. Believe me these thimbles were very clumsy and annoying to use but they did help me get the job done. Since then, I have found these wonderful thimbles that are made by Clover and I love using them so much that I made sure to buy a second one just in case I misplaced the one I am currently using.

I definitely do not want to be thimble-less and I definitely do not want to go back to using the other ones. These are made of flexible rubber so they are very light and they fit and grip your finger regardless of it's shape. They have a dimpled metal end to grip the needle for pushing - there is also a raised edge to stop the needle from sliding off the end. I am also able to use the side of the thimble to help me grip the needle if I need that extra help to pull the needle through the fabric. I do not use any protection for my finger under the quilt because I like to feel the needle. If the needle digs into my under finger I know that my stitch will end up too big. When the point of the needle just barely touches my finger I know to make the next stitch. I have a bit of a callous on that finger but nothing that is really noticeable.

I hope that what I have shared will help others that are just starting out with hand-quilting. I love to hand-quilt and now that I am doing it without a hoop or frame I find that I have really good control and it is even more relaxing and enjoyable.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

February FNSI Results - Little Houses

My goal was to make 10 houses last night but I ran out of steam and only got 4 made. I think they turned out really cute. I am getting so much better at sewing the inset seams for the sky sections. I really thought they would give me trouble throughout the whole project but it hasn't taken me too long to get the hang of it. I am sewing these little houses on my vintage Singer 301 and I think I have fallen in love with this machine. The only problem that I am finding is that I automatically move my hands to use the thread-cutter button that I have on my Janome...too funny! I still need to make 6 more little houses to meet my "building quota" for the month but I don't think it will take me too long to get them done. I am really enjoying making these houses! You can visit here if you want to see other houses that are being made. There are many of these little neighbourhoods popping up all over the world!

Don't forget to take a little time to visit Heidi's blog to see what other participants in the Friday Night Sew-In worked on. I have a feeling there was a whole lotta sewing going on!

I thought I would add this picture of Molly today. She is standing on the back patio but she had been playing in the snow. That's right - we are getting snow!

Friday, February 17, 2012

February Friday Night Sew-In

Tonight is Friday Night Sew-In and I plan on joining in! I will be working on some of my Little Houses tonight. I plan on adding 10 new houses to my neighbourhood this month and it would be great if I got them all done tonight. I do have some pieces all prepped and ready to go so that will help quite a bit. I don't think I have quite enough though, so there will be some cutting as well as sewing going on around here. I have been trying to remember to cut pieces for my houses from the leftover scraps when cutting for other projects but I don't always remember!

It's not too late to join in - sign-ups are still going on!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dear Jane - Pinwheel Gone Awry (A-1)

My Dear Jane journey has begun and yesterday I started by drafting my first two Dear Jane blocks. Originally, I thought I would ask my husband to buy me the Dear Jane software as a gift but I thought about it for awhile and figured I could do it myself. Today, I was testing to find the best way for me to create these little gems. I traced them onto freezer paper and I cut the first one along the drawn lines using my rotary cutter/ruler. I tried cutting with scissors but my cutting lines were just not straight enough.

I used repositionable tape to hold the freezer paper securely.
I marked each background piece with a 'B' first so that there would be no confusion when I laid them out onto my fabric. I am hand piecing these blocks so when I cut the fabric I made sure to leave 1/4" (sort of) around each piece for the seam allowance. This project can be a real scrap buster - I used less than 2 pieces of 2.5 x 4.5 bricks for the green bits and those pieces came from my stash...yippee!

Once I ironed all the little freezer paper pieces onto the correct fabrics I cut them out. At first I thought that I could just pick them up as they were and start sewing them together along the edges of the freezer paper but no, that would be too easy. The freezer paper kept popping off and then I lost my sewing guide. I thought about using glue to help hold them in place but I decided I didn't want to do that. So, I had to mark my sewing line but I didn't want to leave a permanent line. I tried washable markers but that did not work out because I was ironing the pieces with my mini iron as I put them together.
This is what it looked like after!
I went to my tried and true method that I use for making my Seven Sisters quilt pieces and that is to just use a mechanical pencil. I just traced around the edges of the freezer paper and then removed it prior to sewing. The line does not really wash out too well but I tried to just make light marks on the lighter fabric.

Back view of block.
When you look at the front of the block it looks like it is skewed but really all of the sewing lines are straight - it's just my seam allowances that are wonky and that is no problem when hand piecing.

There are 28 pieces in this block and it will finish at 4.5". I have to say that I absolutely love the fabric that I am using as my background solid. I have manhandled each of these little tiny pieces quite a bit and there is no shredding - love it!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dear Jane and Visiting an "Icon"

My husband gave me this book for Christmas...and now my journey begins!
Yesterday, my sister Cheryl and I drove to Tillsonburg (after an unplanned detour to Pickering - I will save my sister the embarrassment by laying blame squarely on the car for travelling east instead of west - okay now that was really funny and we laughed for a long time and as a matter of fact I am still laughing - sorry Cheryl) to visit with our aunt Iris and to also pick up some much needed supplies from the local quilt shop. Our first stop in town was to visit the quilt shop and while we were there we casually asked the shop owner if she might know our aunt. I know that sounds weird but it is an area of smaller towns and my aunt is a quilter. So, when we said our aunt was Iris Morgan she just looked at us and said that she was a very well-known local quilter and that she had won many awards and that she was an "icon". My sister and I had no idea.

We had such a lovely visit with our aunt, we looked at photographs of quilts that she had made and we also got to see the latest quilt that she is working on - really lovely. We had such a nice visit and talked about many things and one of those things we discovered is that she did not start quilting until well into her later years. We are younger than when my aunt started quilting so my sister jokingly said that maybe because we were starting so much earlier that we could potentially become icons too! Well that started the laughing!!! I told her that I was starting my Dear Jane quilt journey and she showed me a photo of the one she had made. I would have loved to have seen it in person but sadly she no longer has it. I do know that from looking at the photographs that she has made many, many gorgeous quilts and someday I just might find one. I would have loved to have shown a photo of my aunt but darned if I didn't have my camera with me. Next time...

Friday, February 10, 2012

I've Been Quilting!

Quilting was on the agenda yesterday and I did get Orca Bay quilted! My quilting didn't turn out exactly like I had intended but it does look pretty close (wobbly too!). I quilted it on the frame and it was definitely another learning experience for me. I started out filling all of the available space between the machine and the frame with my design but by the time I got to the end of the quilt the size of my quilting space had noticeably shrunk and so did the size of my quilting design. I must remember that the quilting space really decreases as the quilt gets rolled up and I need to keep my design quite small - only about 3.5" tall. I tried to photograph the quilting but as you can see in the picture it really isn't all that visible. I think if it were more densely quilted it would look better in the finished quilt and it would show up much better in my photos. Oh well, learning as I go!
Just a few more rows!
Another bit of quilting I have been working on is my green Seven Sisters quilt. I don't show it too often because there really isn't too much interesting to see - you see one baptist fan and you've seen them all! There are probably about 4 rows or so left (13 fans per row) and then it will be all finished. I had stopped working on it for quite a while because holding the quilt in a hoop was really hurting my left shoulder. I purchased a used floor frame to try out but I just couldn't make that work either. Now I am quilting it without a frame or hoop at all and I have been working on it lately almost every day. Just being able to pick it up and work on it without having to fiddle with stuff is working much better for me. If I keep at it I should have it all finished within a couple weeks.