Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Midget Block - #57

Finished block - Snowball Wreath
I wasn't sure if I could do this block justice but I am soooo happy with the way it turned out. I gave myself plenty of time to work on it and I think that helped me a lot. If I had tried to rush through it I certainly would not have enjoyed the process as much.

The first thing I did was to paper-piece the background star. I can't believe I didn't take a picture of just the star - it was cute on it's own. The next step was to make the little 4 patches.

Prep for applique
Before I started the applique process I made sure I had everything that I would need close by. I didn't want to have to stop in the middle of what I was doing and search out the needed item. That is just too annoying! The pattern from Sentimental Stitches provided a circle template to use for making the little circle pieces and the alignment markings were very helpful. I traced the circle onto heat resistant Mylar, cut it out and used the template to trace the circle onto the wrong-side of the 4 patches which I then trimmed into a circular shape making sure I left enough seam allowance.

I had to figure out the best way for me to applique the circles onto the block and I thought that if I thread basted the outer edges of the circle and centered the template on the inside before I pulled it taut that it would help me to get a decent circle - these pieces are quite small (at least to me) and I didn't want to have to fiddle with them too much and have them shred. Once done, I sprayed my circles with regular starch (from a spray can) and pressed both sides. When it was dry I removed the basting threads and the template and I repeated the process for each circle. I positioned them on my block using a little bit of Roxanne's glue baste - I put a little dab in the center and a few dabs around the folded edge. I was careful to not get the glue where I would sewing. The glue worked great - it held 
the circles in position while I sewed them onto the block. When I showed my husband the finished block he asked me what was supposed to go in the center. It's funny but I had the same thought - maybe a little bit of embroidery would look nice. I am going to leave it as it is for now because once all the blocks are made and the quilt is put together it just might not need anything in the center.

Positioning the circles

Glued and ready for sewing

Sunday, April 22, 2012

She's a Quilt

Quilting this quilt was so much fun!
I didn't have to work on Friday so instead I got busy working in my sewing room and I quilted the 9-patch Project Linus quilt that I have been working on lately. I am so happy with the quilting even though I felt a bit rusty when I first started. I love this simple little loopy-loop pattern - I think with a bit of practice I can take this pattern a little further into a more complex design - we will see how brave I can be on the next small quilt I make. I already have the binding made so I just need to trim the quilt and add the binding.
I love the backing fabric I used.

Before I could get started quilting this sweet little quilt I needed to tidy my workspace. Whenever I have had time available I have been cutting pieces for my Little Houses quilt and most of the flat surfaces in my room were covered with "stuff". I think it all multiplies whenever I turn out the lights!! I plan on making 10 more houses this month and I have been sewing them on my vintage Singer 301. The problem is my machine has started making a funny noise. I oiled it and did what I could but it still sounds like there is something wrong. I asked my husband if he would have a look at it and his response was "not until he finishes the taxes". Our tax deadline is fast approaching and now I have been recruited to help out today. I hope I get my part done quickly because I had other plans for today - plans that are a lot more fun than working on taxes!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Another Batch of Log Cabin Blocks

Wow - 65 blocks!
It was another fantastic, productive day in my sewing room. I actually spent so much time in there today that for tonight's supper I have a meal made from convenience food baking in the oven as I write this. I don't think anyone will mind too much....even if it is already quite late....at least they are getting something to eat and they don't have to make it.

I started out the morning tidying my sewing room and putting lots of stuff away and then I started cutting scraps and larger pieces of neutral fabric into 1.5" strips for my log cabin blocks. I then cut the strips down to the correct lengths that I need for my blocks. I already had quite a bit pre-cut from last week but I had just washed some neutral fabrics and I thought I would add them to the mix. I do need to cut some more 1.5" strips of green fabric for next week though. After making this latest batch of blocks today I am running short of quite a few of the sizes. Having the pieces cut ahead of time sure does make for easy piecing of these blocks - totally relaxed, mindless sewing. I got 30 blocks sewn today - look how full my design wall is!

I am linking up to Scrappy Saturday at soscrappy's blog for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Hop on over to check out what everyone else had going on in their sewing rooms.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dear Jane - Florence Nightingale (A-8)

This week's Dear Jane block turned out to be a very simple one. I made it on Wednesday after work and it didn't take very long at all. It was very easy to construct using freezer paper for the templates. I chose a blue and black check fabric and I think it turned out quite well! It is an album block and maybe...I just might use it as a signature block. I will wait until I am further along in the construction of this quilt before I make a final decision.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Merrily I Baste Along

Close call!!
Last night I hardly slept at all and I had to go to work today...blah. I ended up with such a headache by the time I got home that I took some Tylenol and had a little rest on the couch. Once the medicine kicked in I was able to baste the pink 9-patch Project Linus quilt that I had been working on for last month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge. It seems it was my lucky day because look how close I came to the end of the batting. I am not quite sure how I measured it but thankfully there was just enough and I didn't have to add any extra. The backing had been made and I was ready to baste this quilt for a while now but my son has been using the dining room table as a work space while studying for his final exams. I dared not move any of his stuff from the table over the last couple weeks but since he wrote his last exam yesterday I am taking over again. Until the basement is renovated I need to use the dining room table for basting and for ironing large pieces of fabric.

I was planning on heading into my sewing room tonight to cut some more fabrics for my Little Houses quilt but now I think I just might go to my room early and read in bed for a while. It definitely is a tempting option!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Another Group of Engineer's Wife Blocks

Another group of 3 blocks done - whoohoo! I only have a few bonus blocks left to do and, of course, the blocks that were released today. These blocks are called Cut Glass Dish, Basket and Sickle. I am really enjoying making these blocks and I have great hopes that it will all turn out when it is complete. I plan on giving this quilt to my husband for Christmas, well, that's if the Sow-A-Long is finished by then!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Midget Block - #60

This block looks big but it will finish at 4.5".
Because of time constraints this week, I needed a really simple midget block to work on and this one fit the bill perfectly. This little number is called French 4's and I paper-pieced it last night. It came together quickly and easily and that is just what I was looking for. I had to jump ahead in the order of blocks to get to it - I bypassed #'s 57, 58 & 59. Next week I hope to show #57 which is a block that combines paper-piecing and applique. Another challenge block for me!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Engineer's Wife Blocks

Friendship Star, Steps to the Altar, Cups and Saucers

Add caption
Yesterday, I worked on making 3 more blocks - I am still behind and a new batch for the Sow-A-long will be released on Wednesday but that's okay because I am happy that I am back to making them. I am pretty sure it won't take me too long to get caught up and I should be back on track for the first release of May blocks. I had hoped to get some more sewn tonight but that just didn't happen, although, I did spend some time picking out fabrics for one of the next blocks I have lined up. It seems that picking the fabrics takes far longer to do than actually sewing them! So, the latest additions are Friendship Star, Steps to the Altar and Cups and Saucers. I used the paper-piecing pattern provided by Bonnie Hunter when I made the Cups and Saucers block and it was really quite easy to put together.

When I went to add my pictures to my post I had a little surprise - I've used up all of my "free" storage space and I had to purchase more!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jacob's Ladder of Love is a Flimsy

It sure does feel good to be able to say that this flimsy is on-track to becoming a quilt this month. The quilt top measures 72" x 81" and I think that is big enough that I don't need to add any borders. I like the look of it as it is and I think Jake will too! My next step is to make the backing and I have the fabric already chosen so maybe I will get to it today. I still need to make the binding and give the top a good pressing and then I will load it onto the quilt frame and work on quilting it over the next week or so. It will help to have it all loaded and ready to go so that whenever I have a few minutes I can quilt a row, roll it and get it ready for the next pass.

I spent some time this morning catching up on reading blogs and leaving some comments. I have totally neglected doing that for most of the week and my reading list was full! I do still need to respond to some blog comments but I am not too far behind on those. I am ready to move onto working on my Engineer's Wife blocks. I have fallen woefully behind on that project and it makes me a little sad because I really enjoy making them. I know I won't get them all done today, but I figure that from now on if I stay on top of each week's blocks plus make a few of the older releases that eventually I will be back on track. I still have chores and laundry to do today too - oh how I wish I could set my house to auto-clean!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

More Log Cabin Blocks

26 more blocks

35 blocks so far
Today is scrappy Saturday, the day to post my progress on the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and I made sure that I would have something to post....but...where the heck did the week go?? I actually spent a lot of time cutting and sewing today. I made 26 log cabin blocks and I also cut a bunch of neutral and green strips to the sizes I need to construct the blocks. I cut so many pieces that I have enough to make another big batch of blocks. I think these log cabin blocks will be sashed with the same solid red fabric that I am using for the center squares and that fabric still needs to be washed and cut to size.

Now that I am working (part-time) it seems I have very little time for sewing...welcome to the 'real world'. Originally, I was supposed to work 12 hours/wk over a 3 day period and occasionally work on a Thursday as well but it has already evolved into 4 days/wk and more than 18 hours with an offer for me to work on Friday as well - I declined! It sure was great getting my first paycheque though! It may be that these extra hours are just for a short period of time but I do have to be careful because I had a dream that I was really involved in some activity and when I wasn't paying attention someone stole my identification from my purse. I translate that to mean that I need to make sure I have time to sew!!

Hop on over to soscrappy's blog to see what other participants worked on this week.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Dear Jane - Dad's Plaids (A-7)

Yippee skippee happy day! After telling my tale of woe about my last attempt at applique I was directed by some of my readers to some great blogs to read about different applique methods. I visited Erin at her blog One Piece at a Time and watched a video showing how she did her applique and I thought why not??!! So, I basically followed her instructions, which were great, and I ended up with a block that I think turned out pretty darn good.

It certainly turned out much better than my previous attempts at applique. Even though the applique pieces for this block are less detailed than on my last Midget block, I am very confident that this technique will fit the bill for more complicated pieces. Success feels wonderful!!! A big thank you to my readers - I am grateful to you for your help.
Making my template

Ready to applique

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Midget Block - #56

Finished Block

This block certainly was such a challenge for me! I actually worked on it over a 3 day period in bits and pieces of time and I was glad for that because I really did need to take frequent "rests" from working on it. I read up about applique at various sites on the web and knew that I was supposed to reverse the design and I don't know where I went wrong because it ended up being the reverse of the finished block shown on the instruction sheet.

 Overall, I think I did an acceptable job for being a newcomer to applique (this is my second time) but I am a little disappointed about the tips of my tulips. No matter how much I tried I could not get the innies to go as deep or as sharp as they were supposed to be and I could not get the points to work out either. As a matter of fact, I did the purple tulip twice and messed it up both times but I have decided to leave it the way it is. I found that if I cut a little deeper into the innie then I was unable to turn the fabric under.

I am learning so much from making these little blocks as well as my Dear Jane blocks and learning new skills is always a good thing. I know that my applique will get better with practice and maybe I just need to use a different technique instead of back basting when I am working with shapes like the tulip tips. This was my first time doing embroidery and I used a very simple outline stitch for the stems as directed in the instructions. I am happy with the way it turned out. I have cross-stitched previously so I do have a good selection of embroidery floss available to me and it was great that I was able to easily find the colour that I wanted to use.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Busy Day

Wow - I had such a lazy start to the day because I slept in until 8 am! I normally wake up between 5 - 6 so I guess I really needed those extra hours. I had a lot on my agenda today - first off I had to clean up the kitchen because no-one (meaning me) did the dishes or cleaned the counters last night, so I had to take care of that. Next, I made two loaves of bread and once I set that to rising I puttered around in the kitchen and I made a chicken salad for sandwiches (to use with our yummy fresh bread) and a bean salad that we had with our supper. I didn't need all of the beans for the salad so with the extras I made a bean chili. Once I exited the kitchen I hightailed it straight to my sewing room - finally!!!

Today is the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and this month's colour is 'neutrals'. I was really challenged trying to think of what to do with neutrals. After thinking about it, I remembered that I had intended to make some log cabin blocks for another quilt so this month seems to be the perfect opportunity to get working on them. I managed to make 9 green blocks that will finish at 8". I raided my 1.5" strip bins and my string bins to make them and I think they turned out okay.

My sewing room is a mess!!
I thought I would show you a picture of what my sewing room looks like - I think a bomb went off around my cutting table! This is just one area of my room - the rest isn't much better. I have a lot of trouble working in such a mess because to me a cluttered space = a cluttered mind. Since I have started working my available time for sewing has really taken a hit so when I get in there I really want to sew - the last thing that gets done is tidying up. I am at the point now that I am feeling claustrophobic in there so I need to get crackin' at cleaning up. I will try to do some tidying tomorrow but the bulk of it will have to wait until Monday after work.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dear Jane - Uncle Homer (A-6)

This certainly was a very simple block to construct - what could be easier than squares and rectangles. I just cut my pieces of fabric to size and drew my seam allowance on the back of the pieces and sewed them together. No muss - no fuss!

I am really happy with the fabric I chose to use for this block. I only have a fat quarter piece but I expect I will be using every little scrap of it in some project or another!

It has turned out to be a really nice day so I went out to do some yard work when I finished sewing this block. My husband had trimmed all of the fruit trees and it is my job to pick up all of the sticks and put them in neat piles so he can bundle them up for yard waste day. I got most of it done but I must have twisted the wrong way when I bent over to pick up some sticks and now my back has a crick in it! My dog Molly was very happy to spend time outside with me while I worked. I found a frisbee in the bushes and every so often I would throw it to her and boy did she love it.

I still have some sewing on my list for today so after I get supper going I am heading back to my sewing room for some more fun for me!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

More Jacob's Ladder Blocks

4 patches and hsts all ready to go
Throughout the past couple weeks I have been trying to spend time each evening working on this quilt. I had originally planned on having this quilt all finished in March but that became impossible so I have changed my goal to completing it this month. Just working on it a little at a time has allowed these 4 patches and hsts to transform into completed Jacob's Ladder blocks.

Pile of partially sewn blocks
This is one of the blocks from the pile.
It is really quite surprising how much I got done just spending bits of time sewing each evening. I am at the point where I am getting really anxious to get it all finished so that I can give it to my nephew for him to enjoy!

Last 26 blocks done!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Midget Blocks - #55

I had fully intended on working on this block last night, but when I walked upstairs to go into my sewing room I just walked right past and went to my bedroom instead. So, shortly after I got home from work today I headed into my sewing room and got right to it. It only took me a few minutes to decide which fabric I wanted to use and the paper-pieced pattern came together perfectly. It was a joy to make this little airplane!

This pattern was very simple and consisted of only 13 pieces. As I look at it from the pictures I see that I like the direction that my airplane is flying better than the one on the pattern sheet!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's a Flimsy!

It's a Flimsy
After making my little houses yesterday, I continued working on the pink Project Linus quilt and I got the whole top finished. I honestly don't know why but I seemed to have gone overboard making the border strips. I got carried away when piecing all of the 2.5" squares together and I think I pieced almost twice as many as I needed. Instead of taking them apart and putting the squares back in the bin I just put them in as they are. Maybe they will become part of another quilt at some point in the future. The next time I show this quilt top it will hopefully be a quilt! I would have liked to have made the backing and binding today but after working for 5 hours and then running a couple errands I drove my son to Toronto (and while I was there I had a quick visit with my sister, Cheryl). Eric had waited until the last minute to get to class and used Mom's taxi service because he was busy working on a paper that needed to be handed in today. He was running behind because he also had a job interview today for a summer position. Things went well and he does get a second interview on Wednesday and I hope he gets hired!

I just got home about an hour ago and I had thoughts about possibly working on a Midget Block today but I am pooped. But...maybe...if I go in my sewing room...and just start poking around.....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Building My Little Houses - March

March blocks
Just look at my latest little houses...I am so happy with them. I am also so happy that I am back in my sewing room. I had fully intended on making these blocks in March but that didn't happen so when I woke at 5:30 this morning I decided to get on out of bed and into my sewing room. I already had lots of different pieces cut and waiting for me so all I had to do was actually choose the pieces I wanted to use and sew them all together. I have put it all away for now but I will definitely have to spend some time this month preparing more block components so that I have enough variety available for April's blocks.

Group Shot
Mother Nature pulled a prank this April Fool's morning - when I got up it was snowing and the ground was all white. It has since melted and now it is a dull gray, rainy day - perfect for spending in my sewing room. I do have to get some chores done today as well but I certainly know where my priorities are!!