Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Winds of Change

Today was the first day that I have been able to find time to sew all week and boy oh boy did it ever feel good to get into my sewing room. I worked on the scrappy pink Project Linus quilt and I sewed the 9-patches into groups of 4 and added white sashing all around. I want it to be big enough to be considered a "child's quilt" rather than a "toddler quilt" and in order to do that it needs to be at least 60" long. It isn't quite that long - only 56" so far so I need to add another little border. I have decided to just use some of the extra 2.5" squares to make up the difference. I do think it will be really cute when it is all done and it is a great way to use up a lot of scrappy bits.

Things have changed a little bit this past week - I have started working part-time. I don't know what came over me but in December in the spur of the moment I contacted a former employer to see if he needed anyone on a part-time basis and he said he would contact me in January. Well January came and went and I didn't hear anything so I thought that was it but recently things did start happening and I started working last Monday. I had already had a very heavily scheduled week planned including an overnight trip visiting with one of my sisters, a couple day trips to Toronto, add in spending time researching and buying a vehicle and working at the new job meant that I had no time left for sewing or anything else for that matter! I am hoping that things will settle down quickly and I will be able to get back to my sewing routine - I had so many goals set for this month that I was not able to achieve - c'est la vie!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dear Jane - Cathie's Campfire (A-5)

Final Block
Group Shot

I did it - I got it done! I love the fabric I have chosen to use for this little block. It is a reddish orange and from a distance the motifs make me think of flames and embers - perfect for Cathie's Campfire. I finished sewing this block last night but after having a look at it I was not impressed at all. I can forgive many different transgressions when it comes to piecing these blocks - I am not perfect and neither are my blocks - but...this one had a hole where a group of seams came together and that is not acceptable ever.

Yikes - very bad sewing job!

You can also see in my photo that when I laid out my templates to trace them I still did not leave enough space for two seam allowances and I was really trying to pay attention to that! When will I learn!!

This morning, I undid the last two seams where I had sewn the sub-units together and resewed them and I think I did do a little better job of aligning things together.

When I first started this project I thought that I would follow the design of the original Dear Jane quilt and use similar colours and layout. Yesterday, I was thinking about my Dear Jane journey and decided that I really do want it to be my Dear Jane quilt so now I am going to use whatever fabrics/colours/placement that I want to.

There is a big change in the weather today. It is a little cooler, darker and dreary with rain. Kind of the way I have been feeling the last little while. I am still not feeling great and I am beginning to think that I actually have food poisoning and not a virus.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Little of This and That

Yippee....even though I have been 'under the weather' for the past few days I think I may still be on track to completing my Jacob's Ladder quilt this month. I was able to work on it yesterday and I nearly got 15 blocks completed. I sewed and cut my sub-units and then almost got them all sewn together into blocks. I really wanted to finish them but it was just too late and I was too tired so I finished sewing the final seam for each block and pressed them this morning. I had previously chosen all of my fabrics and cut all of the strips I would need for all the blocks (and some extras too) and that really helped to get things done. Only 26 more blocks required and then I can start sewing the top together!

I have a few things that I want to work on today - I have not made my Dear Jane block for this week yet so that is top of the list and I still need 8 more crumb blocks for another Project Linus quilt. Those 8 crumb blocks show up on my to-do list every day but they never seem to get done. I hope to change that today. I did get all of the pink 9-patch blocks made - there are now 48 - and I just need to decide how I want to set them with the sashing. I am not sure if I should add sashing around each block or group them into 4's and then sash them. I do really like the idea of grouping them into 4's so that just may be the way I go.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Midget Blocks - #54

Maple Leaf

Cutting Maple Leaf

This little block was fun to make - I used a combination of traditional piecing on my Singer 301 machine and the stems were paper-pieced on my Janome 6600. I really did not have too much difficulty putting this block together other than my stems are not aligned perfectly at the center of the block but I am okay with it. I really didn't notice that they were "off" until I had it all together and I was pressing the block. This block is also called Maple Leaf and is made up of 65 tiny pieces!
First 4 blocks I have made.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Eeww - I Got a Bug!

Yesterday started out great - I had all of my quilting plans made and first on the list was to make 7 more of the pink 9 patches for the Project Linus quilt. Once I had them on the wall I decided that I would add another 6 more blocks and just as I was going to start sewing them together I got hit and hit bad with I don't know what. I had been feeling quite tired the past couple days and that should have tipped me off that something was heading my way! I got in my bed for a little lie down and things just got progressively worse. You don't need to hear the details but needless to say I am feeling a little better today. So yesterday, I spent the whole day and evening in bed or on the couch watching The Walking Dead marathon - love that show. I had been to the hospital on Friday for my mammogram and I wash my hands really well but it seems I picked something up anyway. I have so many things that I need to get done so I am glad I was able to get up and get going today even though I was still feeling "off" - I can assure you that I have taken many little rests!

One of the things I wanted to get done today were these pinwheel blocks for a secret project. I have made 6 larger pinwheels that will finish at 8" and I also made 3 blocks that use smaller pinwheels (I can't remember the name of the block). I didn't get the last batch of pink 9 patches done but hopefully tomorrow will be a better day!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Pink 9 Patches

They look so much prettier in real life!!
When I made my pink 9-patch blocks earlier this month for my rainbow quilt, I thought they would make an adorable Project Linus donation quilt and I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Earlier in the week I pulled many pink strips from my 2.5" strip bin and cut them into squares and just started sewing them together on Friday.

I finished making these blocks at just around midnight last night so I am a little late posting for the scrap challenge. As it stands, once sashing is added, it will finish at 36" x 50". I was undecided whether to make any more blocks but as I write this I think I will make it one row wider and then it will be big enough for a child. I think it is going to be so pretty - I had nothing as a child and I know I would have been ecstatic to receive something like this. I have made one other Project Linus quilt so far and it felt so good to drop it off for donation. I plan on making many more!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Earthtones - When Reality Hits

Second batch made....almost done!
These blocks are really starting to come together although I still have not made enough yet. When I was constructing this last batch of blocks I had two stacks laid out on my sewing table - one for 4-patches and one for 16-patches. After sewing many of them together, I grabbed a 4-patch and went to add a 16-patch to it and I didn't have any left.

Are these extra??? Nope...still have lot of blocks to make!
My first thought (hope) was that I had made way too many 4-patches and that I would have extra to go into a parts bin for another quilt. Well, after I sewed all of the blocks together and I took a tally I realized that I am really short in the 16-patch department! After doing some calculations, I know where I went wrong and that was when I made up the twosies to turn into the 16-patches. I had 748 pieces in my mind and that is how many twosies I made. The reality is that I actually needed many more than what I had made!! I looked back at this previous post and got a refresher on where I had left off with this project. Blogging sure does help with keeping accurate records of each project I work on. The only change I am going to make is that I will be making it 10 x 12 instead of 10 x 13 and that will have the quilt finish at 80" x 96" - I think that is big enough. So, I have added this batch of 47 blocks to the 32 that I had previously made and I still need to make 41 more. Well, the good news is that I have enough 4" 4-patches made.....

Happy birthday to my youngest son, Eric. He turns 22 today!! When Eric was born my husband and I were thinking that we might want a third child and we decided that on Eric's first birthday we would make our decision.  Eric was and still is a joy but as he was attacking his first birthday cake my husband and I both looked at each other and said "uhn uhh" no more. Eric was quite the handful right from birth - a real go-getter - he pulled himself up into a standing position 10 days after he turned 6 months old and started walking on his own when he was 8 months old (as did his older brother Adam). Eric has turned into a wonderful young man and we couldn't be prouder!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jacob's Ladder - Work in Progress

Strips ready for sewing and cutting.

Extra strips to stock the strip bins.
Cutting for quilts does take a lot of time - I can attest to that because I just finished cutting all the strips that I will need to finish making the blocks for this quilt. I have 31 blocks made and I need 41 more blocks and I have cut for at least that. I ended up having to cut from yardage because although I am making my blocks scrappy, I am using the same fabrics within each block. When I checked my bins I had plenty of blue and background neutral strips in there but they did not necessarily correlate to the sizes that I needed to pair together - 2" and 3.5" strips. I ended up just cutting a hunk off of each piece of yardage that I pulled from the cupboard, ironed it and started cutting. Whatever was left after I cut what I needed I cut down into strips for my bins. It really is so much simpler to just be able to take from the bins - that is for sure! The next step for this quilt is to cut and sew all of the 4-patches and also the hsts for each block and then the best part - sewing the blocks together! I am so hoping that I will be able to finish this quilt and get it delivered to my nephew before this month is over.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dear Jane - Courtney's Stethoscope (A-4)

This little block looks so sweet and innocent, doesn't it? Looks can definitely be deceiving! Well, what can I say about this little charmer. I certainly had some lessons learned with this one. I have to admit that most of the issues were my problem..okay...all of the issues were my problem.

Things started off great - I followed the usual process of making my little template pieces and I started sewing them together. This is where I faced my first little challenge. You see that little cross piece in the center, on my first try I did not pay close attention to the alignment when I pieced it together and my cross had a crook in it. So, I decided to rip it out and resew it. That is when I realized that I have been a little careless with my 1/4" seams and they have been getting narrower and narrower. When I removed the stitching, the brown strip really started shredding so I had to make a replacement piece. That went fine and I was able to match up my cross "good enough" and I learned that even though the pieces are very tiny I still need to be really careful with the seam allowances. I am not quick at sewing these blocks together - it does seem to take me a very long time to get each block done, so, when I finally added the last piece I was very happy.

As I admired the finished block, I had a thought that I should trim it so that the seam allowances would be a little more even looking - remember I have been eyeballing the 1/4" seam allowances so they really are not accurate. I proceeded to trim the block and I trimmed 3 sides before I realized that I had actually trimmed them to the sewing line and I had cut off the seam allowances. Now, how dumb was that??? uuummm the question is actually rhetorical! You can't believe how unhappy I was with myself. I just left it as it was and took a bath - a nice long hot soak. When I got back at it I removed the little edge pieces, recut them and sewed them on and now it looks so much better! Now that I have confessed my ineptitude I guess it I feel like I have "come clean". 

See how I trimmed it...

What have I done to my poor block!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Engineer's Wife

Basket, Broken Dishes, Churn Dash

I am so excited about this quilt, and the blocks that I have made so far, that I could hardly wait for Randy of the Barrister's Block to post the latest instructions. I kept checking her site on Wednesday in anticipation and finally I was rewarded! I had no trouble making these blocks, as a matter of fact, I think it probably took me longer just to choose my fabrics. Bonnie Hunter has posted an alternate paper-pieced basket that has a handle that she used instead of this one. I did print it out but I kinda like the one I made so I am keeping it! I hope to make this quilt using only fabric from my stash and so far so good but who knows if I will stick to it. I do have a fairly good selection of blue and brown fabrics so it shouldn't be too much of a problem although I am sure that if I went shopping I would definitely be tempted! Another thing that I am really happy about is that I am sewing this quilt on my vintage Singer 301. I am happy that I bought this machine and it didn't cost too much at all.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Quilt "Gratitude" is a Winner!

My favourite quilt shop - Sew Sisters in Toronto - held a contest recently and "Gratitude" won a prize! Sew Sisters has a monthly program called Bargain Lover's Club. Each month I receive a bundle of fabulous coordinated fat quarters for a very reasonable price. I do look forward to receiving my little bundle every month because it is always a surprise package and who doesn't enjoy receiving a wonderful squishy in the mail! Sew Sisters decided to hold a contest for club members to showcase what they have made with any of the fabrics they have received through the program. I decided to send a picture of Gratitude and it's little sister quilt Courage. I hoped they would enjoy seeing what I had made with some of the fabrics I had received and...who am I kidding...I wanted to win a prize too! There were so many wonderful items entered, not just quilts, and the grand prize winner was absolutely fantastic. Congratulations to all of the winners!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Midget Blocks - #53

This adorable little block went together with very little trouble at all until it was time to sew the sub-units together. It did take me quite awhile to figure out the placement of each little unit. Thankfully, there wasn't someone standing by with a timer!! At one point, I thought there was something wrong with the paper-piecing pattern or that I had placed one of the pieces of fabric in the wrong place. I also blamed my difficulty on the fact that I had not slept one wink the night before....oh...I do like to make excuses! Angela from soscrappy posted the same block earlier this week and she had the same trouble I did so I feel I was definitely in good company. As she stated there was no assembly information included in the instructions - I think it was definitely a brain-builder. This block is also known as Winged Square and I used a pink fabric with little blue flowers. I am happy with the way it turned out.
Blocks 51, 53 and 52
I have decided to use this block for my Rainbow Scrap Challenge this week because I was away visiting my big sister Glenda instead of working on the pink log cabin blocks I had planned. It was really good to spend time with Glenda. I stayed over at her place on Thursday night and I didn't get home until about 9 last night. We spent quite a bit of our time chatting and we also visited some local second hand shops. Definitely time well spent!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Blue Seven Sisters Quilt

Some of you may have read in earlier posts that I am making a series of Seven Sisters quilts for my six sisters and of course, me. All seven of these quilts are being sewn by hand and they will all be hand-quilted as well. I have shown bits of my progress on the first quilt - at this point it is called "the green one" and I have almost finished quilting it! I have shown a little bit of progress on "the fuchsia one" that I am currently piecing, and I have also shown the completed flimsy of "the paisley one". This is the first time that I have shown "the blue one".

I have completed all of the blocks and I am currently making and adding the sashing. I had originally chosen a different blue fabric but you know how it goes....lay it down and it gets used for something else! So, last year?? I bought this replacement blue fabric and I really hope it works. In the photos it looks extremely dark but in real life it does look much better. I just finished sewing the sashing to the center blocks and I have cut the sashing for the sides of the outer blocks and a few horizontal pieces as well. A little more cutting, a little more sewing and I will have another finished flimsy ready for basting and quilting! This is definitely a long term project, a labour of love, and I know it is not a project that will be completed overnight.
border fabric

I have to put it away for another day though because I am going to visit with my sister Glenda today and I really do have to get some chores done before I go!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jacob's Ladder of Love

Total of 31 finished blocks!
I have been moving right along with this quilt. Last week I had prepped 17 blocks to have at the ready for when I was ready to start sewing and well...I got them done! Having the blocks prepared ahead of time certainly made it a lot easier to accomplish my task. Personally, I really do like to get all of my cutting done ahead of time but this cutting in batches thing will work too. I think this will end up being a fantastic quilt for my nephew Jake and I am pretty sure he will be happy to know that I am making progress on it. I do still have quite a way to go before I have enough blocks made though. This last bunch went together without any problems at all - yippee! As soon as I find some available time I will start looking through my precut strips for more blues and beiges to make more blocks. For many of the blocks in this latest batch I used leftover fabric from a future quilt that has been cut out and waiting for sewing for my niece Amanda (Jake's cousin).  I do think I am pretty well to the point that I need to start cutting some strips from yardage though. I am fine with repeating fabrics in this quilt - I just don't want too many of the blocks to be exactly the same.

While I was sewing the latest batch of blocks together I was thinking about my nephew and somehow I got the name for this quilt - Jacob's Ladder of Love....I am so sappy!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dear Jane - Hunter's Moon (A-3)

To me the easiest part of making this block was saying I was going to make it! I learned a lot - first off - I have never appliqued before and I did find it challenging. I cut out my little melon shapes from the fabric and then my next thought was oh! now what do I do??
I ended up not using these at all!

I decided that it would be easier to use the back-basting method. So, I put those little shapes aside and I proceeded to tracing the melon shapes on the wrong side of the background fabric and then realized that I had them oriented incorrectly.

Look closely-you can see the incorrect markings.
I needed to place them in the correct position so I folded the freezer-paper pattern into quarters and cut along the marked line to make my 1/4 circle template. I aligned that onto my fabric that I had folded into quarters and traced along the edge of the paper. I did this to all four inner corners of the folded fabric square. That gave me the circular alignment markings to place the melon shapes for tracing.

I placed a rectangle of fabric on the front of the main fabric, back-basted and trimmed it a bit and then proceeded to stitching it. I got a little over-confident and trimmed the points too close and my first melon ended up not being long enough and I didn't realize it until I added the second melon. I definitely had to do the first one again because the tip was shredded!

I had to remove one of these melons!
It was very slow going for me to make this block and it definitely did not finish perfectly but I did my best and I will leave it as it is. To me, my Dear Jane journey is about having a beautiful completed quilt and it is also about learning new skills and techniques. I hope that my applique skills improve and that one day I will be able to say confidently that, yes, I can applique. I have seen so many gorgeous applique pieces that I would love to make one day but....I do have to start at the beginning.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Oops...I Did it Again!

Weeks 1 & 2

Contrary Wife, Basket Weave, Big Dipper
Calico Puzzle, Box, Autumn Tint
I have started working on another quilt! I don't quite know what has come over me but what can I was really irresistible to me. I have joined in with the sew-along hosted by Randy from Barrister's Block. She is posting blocks twice per month and I am a little late joining in but no fear - I am already caught up. Boy oh boy, I am liking what I see so far! At first I thought I would use cheddar as my neutral but I have changed my mind and decided to make my blocks using different shades of browns and blues. I have not decided yet what I will use for sashing but maybe the cheddar or tan or dark blue will show up there. I guess I really have to wait to see how all the blocks look together before I actually commit. I happen to be married to an engineer so I am going to call mine The Engineer's Wife. Looking at my pictures I see that the colouring for Calico Puzzle is really off - it is really a tan and not as dark as it appears in the photo. I am really looking forward to the next installment that will be released this Wednesday. Hop on over to Randy's blog if you can't resist either!