Thursday, January 31, 2013

More Engineer's Wife Blocks

Connecticut, Broken Window, Squares & Diamonds, Gentleman's Fancy, Domino Net, Smokehouse, Carrie Nation
Over the past couple days I have been working away at making more Engineer's Wife blocks and I have seven more blocks completed. One of the blocks, Gentleman's Fancy, which is the furthest to the right in the photo turned out larger than 6.5". Not too sure what happened but it is what it is. I am torn between remaking it and just leaving it and using it on the back of the quilt. Since I haven't decided how I am going to put the top together that decision can be left for now.

In the meantime, I will continue to make more blocks and if I have counted correctly, there should be 13 more. I have noticed that as the blocks have been released they seem to be getting progressively more detailed with smaller pieces. Each block is an individual and it is taking me a long time to make each one particularly because I am using only strips of blue, brown and neutral from my strip bins and not cutting from larger pieces of fabric. I think that next time I make a sampler quilt, in particular I am thinking about the Grandmother's Choice blocks I plan on making, that I will use larger scraps so that I don't have to be concerned whether I have enough fabric in the correct size strips to complete the chosen block. That really is what seems to be the most challenging part and it is taking the most time and effort. I am very happy with the way it all looks so far and I think I will have a wonderful quilt in the end.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jacob's Ladder Quilt

Jacob's Ladder flimsy
It has been quite a while since this quilt has seen the light of day and it is ready for it's turn at being finished. I took this quilt off the quilting frame last night. Wow...quilting it was a bit of an adventure but everything did settle down and I managed to finish quilting it. I had started working on it on Monday but I was having a problem with my bobbin and I had to have an engineering consult with my husband. Thankfully, I didn't have to pay his regular charge rate - I just could not have afforded it!

We decided that the bobbin case was out of round so I just needed to gently press out the problem area. I think the last time I quilted I must have dropped the bobbin case on the floor and it seems that is just about all it takes to get it out of round. Once I fixed the case I went back to finish quilting and I started to have another problem so rather than getting frustrated, I just decided to leave it. When I got back at it in the morning I discovered that I had inserted the bobbin in the case backwards. Where is my brain!!!! Once I got everything sorted out it really was smooth sailing and I continued to quilt off and on throughout the day in between other activities.

I have a few things that I need to take care of today. The weather has turned much milder and even though it is dull and dreary looking it is a perfect day to get out and about.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Midget Block #69 - Mexican Star

This block has to be one of my favourites so far. It is paper-pieced and went together quite easily. I think I could see making a whole quilt using this block - I like it that much.

It would make a fantastic quilt, but of course, I would make it in a larger size - maybe 8". Something else added to my 'I would like to make someday' list. Although, I think this one will be made sooner rather than later!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Silly Saturday

I didn't spend too much time in my sewing room yesterday at all. I did sew together a few more baskets with a black base as a trial and I am just not sure how to proceed. I like them both ways for different reasons - the black base because it is bold and really makes more of a statement but I also like the single fabric baskets.

They look much more demure even if I use bolder fabrics. I don't really have a plan for these blocks at this point, so maybe I will just make some of each type for the RSC. I don't think it will hurt anything and I will use up scraps and I just may end up with two great basket quilts - or not.

Yesterday, there were some funny happenings going on in the kitchen. I made Thai red curry for dinner using a recipe I have made multiple times. We are adventurous here when it comes to eating different foods from many different cultures and we like spice and heat. The fun part came into play when I had a big brain cramp and I ended up adding way too much curry paste to my recipe. I used the whole container (400 grams vs 1.5 tbsp) and this is in addition to the two tablespoons of garlic/chili sauce that I used and the three hot Thai chili peppers that I added. Lets just say that when my eldest son tasted his he smiled and said 'Mom...this is the best recipe you have made so far'. He loves to eat things that are inferno hot! I knew I was in trouble!!!! Thankfully I still had three more large cans of coconut milk and I added them to the pan and even then it was still quite hot. I took a lot of the sauce out - four 2-cup containers full and I have frozen them with these instructions taped to the lids - add coconut milk, veg and protein. One side benefit is that I now have four more curries just about ready to use - I just need to add the extra Asian ingredients plus veggies and protein and make up some rice. Nice and quick and easy!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Last Saturday for Pink - RSC

Wow, I can't believe how quickly we have gone through January. Just a couple more days and February will be here and there will be a new colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I haven't finished using my pink scraps by a long shot but there will always be more opportunities to use them up.

Earlier in the week I had been playing around with making small basket blocks and I wasn't too happy with my first try. I thought it was the black base that was bothering me but now I think it is really the square on top. As you can see, the next blocks I made I used all one colour and I changed the square to an hst. I think they will do fine but I still want to see how they will look with the black base. They will finish at 4" and they are quite cute.

I was in Toronto all day yesterday and I had hoped to sew last night but the drive home took 2 hours because of the snow and traffic conditions. Thankfully my husband drove - it was a very stressful commute. By the time we got home I had such a headache and I was really feeling beat so, no sewing.

I still have a headache this morning and, oh, I do hope that it is not the beginning of something worse. There are so many cold and flu bugs flying around right now. I hope I didn't pick anything up!! I am going to spend a quiet morning puttering around in my sewing room making more basket blocks and maybe some more star blocks too.

I am linking up with soscrappy and the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Click on the link to see what other participants made with their pink scraps.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dear Jane - Batchelor Buttons (B-1)

This is a very simple looking block and it didn't take me too much time to complete. I had done the prep work for it a couple weeks ago and I used the 'freezer paper on top - glue to the underside' method to create the circles. They are not perfectly round but I am very happy with the way they turned out. My applique is getting so much better every time I do it. Practice has not made perfect but it sure is helping me improve.

I cut my background fabric 6" and folded it into quarters and creased my center lines. I took another freezer paper template of the background with the holes cut out and centered it and ironed it to the top of the background fabric. Once it was in place, I just glued my applique circles into position and then carefully removed the template.

Circles positioned and ready for applique.
I used a neutral silk thread to sew down the applique and I love it! I cannot see any stitches at all. I finished this block last night and with a simple trimming to size it was all done.

I have taken a picture of my completed row of A blocks. I think it looks pretty good!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stars & Nines Borders

Original EQ Design
Today I planned on making backings for a couple quilts and also to make the borders for my Stars & Nines quilt. When I designed this top I thought I would make plain borders. I often like a plain border if a quilt is very busy especially if it is for a guy. I think it does give the quilt a nice tailored appearance.
Stars & Nines without borders.

When I posted about this quilt I thought there could be a possibility that I might change my mind and I have. As I was measuring the top to cut the first border the quilt made it perfectly clear to me that it wanted something else. (My photos never do justice to my quilt tops - insert sad face. They always look so much nicer in person.) So here is what I have come up with.

EQ rendition with new border design.
These border blocks are going to end up being quite small and will finish at 4.25". The nine patches will be made using red scrappy fabrics and only the dark blue fabric because I don't have enough of the lighter blue that I used originally. I am not too sure how the nine patches will look in real life because they will be quite dark. I hope I can make it all work - I guess nothing ventured then nothing gained. If it doesn't work out I will really be in a pickle because I won't have any of the blue left for a replacement border. I really like this border option and I hope it all ends up looking like my EQ design because if it does it is going to be fantastic.

Oh So Cold!

Pinwheels and Sawtooth, Tic Tac Toe, Mystery Flower Garden
The weather is absolutely freezing today. The temp this morning is -23C (-9F) add the wind chill and that equals way too cold. I do not plan to go anywhere today except in my sewing room. On days like this I am very grateful for my nice warm and comfortable home.

I have not done a lot of sewing over the past two days but I do have another three Engineer's Wife blocks that I can share. This is the last set of three that I had precut and I really do like the look of the one on the far right. These blocks were released early in September so I do still have a way to go before I have them all done.

Yesterday, I had a medical appointment to go to (it's all good) and now that my back is much better I really did have to spend some time doing chores that had been neglected over the past couple weeks. I have cleared off the dining room table, also known as my big ironing and cutting surface, so now I can get to work on making a couple backings. I had hoped to have the backing already made for my current Seven Sisters quilt but I just couldn't manage to get it made when my back was giving me trouble. This is the perfect weather to be cuddled under a quilt while hand-quilting and I don't have one ready to work on.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Midget Block #68 - Mosaic

This is the 17th midget block that I have made and it is foundation pieced. It went together without any difficulty at all. I love the fabric that I used for this block. It is not a very flamboyant fabric but the colour is wonderful. I don't think I have too much more of it, too bad, maybe just a few small strips and pieces in my bins.

Sometimes I buy a larger quantity of a fabric that I think is the more important fabric - you know the fabric that will be the focus colour or pattern or whatever in a quilt, but really, I often find that the most important fabrics end up being the ones that support the focus fabric. You know the ones, they just seem to work well with other fabrics but they are not really blender fabrics because they can also hold their own. I usually end up buying a smaller quantity and when I come to the end of one of these fabrics in my stash I feel a bit sad and wish I had more. This is one of those fabrics - simple .

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Tower of Scraps - out of control!
I'm not a hoarder, really I am not, but I just can't justify throwing away fabric scraps that can be used to make perfectly good quilts. These overflowing bins and baskets are in my cutting area and I am running out of space. There are enough bits and pieces in these piles to make many scrap, crumb or string quilts. I have paid good money for my fabric (and scraps) and I just cannot justify throwing away these usable pieces. Granted, some are very tiny, not much wider than 1.5" but I can and do make crumb quilts from these itty bitty pieces. I have been trying to use up my scraps but honestly, things are really out of control. The thing is - I keep making quilts and, therefore, I keep making scraps!

Oh boy - another tower!
When I make a quilt, I usually cut down the leftover pieces that are big enough to go in my strip bins and now that I am making 3" star blocks, I will start cutting 1" strips as well. I need to get into a routine where I spend time each week chipping away at these piles. I need to start making crumb blocks on a regular basis too, but you and I both know that when you make crumb blocks you think you are going to use a ton of scraps and it just ain't so! I know I have to buckle down and go through these scraps and cut them into standard sizes and put them in my parts bins. That certainly will go a long way to lessen the piles and make the pieces more convenient to use but it will take me a very long time to show any progress. In the meantime, I will continue to make quilts and I will try to cut down the scraps right away instead of just throwing them into the pile. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, I just want to be able to use them at some point in my lifetime and I do hope that I continue to create scraps for a very long time!!

How do you deal with all of your scraps? Do you throw them away or do you keep them knowing you will use them or just hope you will use them? I know that there are many quilters out there that have their scraps totally under control and organized and one day I just might be one of them!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

RSC - Pink Stars

Six more stars
I am finding these little stars to be quite irresistible and I made six more pink ones to add to three I made last week. When I am cutting my scraps or making new blocks for other projects I must pay more attention so that I automatically cut the size of strips/pieces for these blocks. These blocks are so small (3" finished) that they will be a very long-term project. I need 1.5" strips, which is no problem because I already cut my scraps to that size, but now I also need 1" strips for these stars. I have not been saving anything that size, not even for my strings, so I will have to start making a point of doing that. Soscrappy is hosting her Scraphappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, click the link to see what other participants are making with their pink scraps. Why not join in if you have made anything with your pink scraps this week!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Dear Jane - Starlight-Starbright (A-13)

This block was very simple for me to sew together particularly after sewing the last DJ block. This block had a lot fewer pieces - only 21. But still, it did take me a few hours of stitching time. I don't know if I am just slow at hand piecing or if it had something to do with the fact that I woke up very early and starting stitching it at 3:30 in the morning.

If you look at the picture of the pieces laid out to be sewn together you just might notice that I have at least one piece turned the wrong way. Of course, I didn't notice it until I had stitched two pieces together and it just didn't look right. Even with hand piecing there is a whole lotta stitch ripping goin' on!
Cute huh?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Barrister's Block Sow-Along

Chained Star, Darting Birds, Mosaic
I am continuing to make my blocks even though the sow-along has finished. I have been calling mine the Engineer's Wife blocks because, well my husband is an engineer, and I think the blue and brown just suit him to a T. I just finished sewing these last 3 blocks yesterday and I found that the Darting Birds block is a bit larger than the others. I don't know if I made a cutting error or if there is an error in the instructions. I do still have quite a few more blocks to sew before I complete all of the posted blocks. If you are interested in making the blocks from the sow-along they are still available on Randy's blog.

I love how mine all look together but I do see that I need to make a few more blocks that use a darker toned background fabric. I still have one set of three blocks left that just need to be sewn together and then I have to start cutting more. I had intended on getting them all cut and prepped for sewing before I stitched them into blocks but my back had other plans. Now, after seeing the blocks on the design wall, I think I should continue to just cut a few at a time and sew them together so I can see how they will all play together.

In general, my back is so much better but I still have a bit of discomfort when I stand or walk for too long. My family is happy that I am able to stand long enough to prepare meals on a regular basis again - poor babies were so deprived. Most of the painful back spasms have disappeared, I am only having occasional but very minor back spasms now, so I guess seeing the chiropractor is helping.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Improv Blocks

Several months ago, I offered to make a friend a quilt. When I asked her what colours she liked I got a lot of answers like well...that's not my favourite colour, or I don't like that colour at all, or I already have something that colour, etc. I was really feeling stumped and then she told me she would like a neutral and brown quilt but not really scrappy looking. Whaaat!!!! Hold your horses and put on the brakes...I have made several quilts in the past while that did have brown and neutral but they were very scrappy and they were not really neutral looking. What to do...what to do....I just couldn't seem to come up with anything that I could use my stash with. I don't really want to go out and buy fabric. I need to keep my costs down and really, I do have plenty of fabric already. So even though a couple months have passed, I couldn't start making her quilt because quite frankly I had no idea what to do.
Didn't I just clean this up?
Over the past week I kept pulling bits of fabric out of the stash and looking at different block patterns and still nothing. One evening, as I stood in front of my messy cutting area where I have lots of fabric hanging around that I am using for my Engineer's Wife blocks -  remember they use blue and brown fabrics - I got an idea and I just started cutting and sewing. I seem to have started an improv quilt. I don't have a pattern or sizes or anything planned so we will see where it goes and how it looks. It just may all end up in the orphan block bins. I don't even know if it is a style that she will like. For now, I will keep going with it and see what happens.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Midget Block #67 - Endless Chain

This looks like such a simple little block but don't let its sweet looks fool you. I got it worked out on my second try and I cheated too! I did foundation piece it but instead of adding the little triangle piece separately as an inset piece, I revised the foundation pattern to include the triangle by splitting it into two pieces.

That enabled me to sew the block together in 4 lovely squares. Thank goodness, because I had so much trouble with the first version that I kept questioning why I keep torturing myself!! I love this little beauty now.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Give-Away Winners

My husband drew the winners names today. I decided to follow the old-time practice of putting all of the names in a hat. This hat makes me smile every time I see it sitting on the shelf in the front closet. My eldest son played trombone in the jazz band when he was in high school and he would always wear this hat when he played. He keeps telling me I can get rid of it but I keep hanging on to it - fun memories.

The first name drawn was Edith and she will receive the celestial pack.

The second name drawn was Connie and she will receive the floral pack.

Both have been sent emails letting them know that they won and I hope to send off their packages within the next few days. I want to thank my bloggy friends for participating. I was a little worried that there might not be any interest in entering the give-away but I am pleased with the number of participants. I really wish I could have sent a gift to all of you but unfortunately I can't.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Slow Stitching Sunday

I don't have any hand sewing to show today but I did get four Dear Jane blocks prepped and ready for hand-stitching. Now maybe I will be able to stay on track with completing one per week. It would be great if I could manage to do this with my Midget Blocks as well, but for whatever reason, I haven't been able to do any prep work on them.

This week I really wanted to load my yellow paisley Seven Sisters on the quilt frame to see if I can baste it in preparation for hand quilting. My back is a little better today, so I will try to make the backing and see how far I get with it. I will be sewing the backing together by hand and to prepare it I need to iron it and then draw my 1/4 seam line so I have something to follow when sewing. I am really itching to start quilting it. I love baptist fans and they turned out so nice on the green Seven Sisters quilt so I plan to do the same with this one.

I have seen on other blogs where the the quilt is layered, basted and then bound before hand quilting. I am wondering if anyone has any experience with that.

I am linking up with Kathy's Slow Stitching Sunday. Why not drop by and see other hand work projects that have been worked on this week.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

RSC - In the Pink

Last night I wanted to sew something but I just wasn't feeling inspired. So I sat in my sewing room for a little bit thinking about this and that and then I gave up. Today is a completely different story. As soon as I got in there I was feeling really inspired to make these.

Aren't they cute - they will finish at 3". Wow - the one in the center is made from fabric that belonged in my sister-in-law's stash. Those fabrics look like they are from the '80s. These blocks won't be specifically for a rainbow quilt but they will be for a very scrappy one. They use such small pieces that they will be a great scrap buster. I have made 3 pink ones so far as a test and other than getting myself tangled up with the sewing gremlins a bit I think they will be fun to stitch together. I will need to make an awful lot of them to make a quilt but I am not in a hurry.

I also made 4 more pink 9 patch blocks to add to the 8 that I made last year. The 9 patch blocks will finish at 6" - what a difference in size compared with the stars. Hop on over to soscrappy's to link up with ScrapHappy Saturday and see what has been made with pink scraps this week.

Before you go, don't forget to check out my give-away. I am giving away two cute fat quarter bundles and I will draw the names of the winners on Monday.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Taking it Easy

Boxes and Baskets, Handweave, Missouri Star
Whooo hoo...I got 3 more blocks made and I really like them. I think Handweave is a very cool looking block -. I don't recall seeing one like that before.

I didn't do too much of anything today, other than mostly lay around on the couch. I feel like I have wasted a whole day of my life. I did go to the chiropractor yesterday and it helped a lot but I am still not quite back to normal. I plan to go again tomorrow morning and I think that should do the trick.

Honestly, I wouldn't mind taking the day off chores and stuff if I could have fun doing something else. My family was happy that I got up long enough to make supper even though it was very simple fare. I had taken out chicken wings to defrost the other day and I needed to cook them, so I just baked them in the oven until crispy and smothered them with bbq sauce. We also had oven fries and I made some coleslaw too.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

300th Post Give-Away

Fabric #1 - Fun Celestial Design
I have never held a give-away before but I thought that because this is my 300th post that maybe it is a reason for celebration.

Fabric #2 - Cute Floral Design
I will be giving away 2 fat quarter packs - one each to two lucky winners. Each pack contains 10 fat quarters of coordinating fabric. If you wish to be included in the give-away just leave a comment and let me know which one would be your first choice. To enter you do need to be a follower. The winners will be announced Monday, January 14.

Due to the cost of postage, this give-away will be limited to North America. I will have another give-away at a later date that will be more inclusive but it will have to wait for the time being.

Dear Jane - Framed Fancy (A-12)

I finished the Dear Jane block that I had started the other day and I think it turned out fairly well. It feels really good to be back to making these little blocks again.

Yesterday, I planned on doing lots of 'stuff' in my sewing room including making the backing for my yellow Seven Sisters quilt so that I can start hand quilting it but I have been sidelined by a sore back. I don't know what happened but last week it started to bother me, nothing serious but I was aware of it. Over the past 2 days it has become more difficult to move around - I have been taking muscle relaxers and sitting with a heating pad but it seems to be getting worse. I just may go to the Dr. or the chiropractor today to see if it can get sorted out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Midget Block #66- Twist & Turn

This applique block turned out so well. I had taken the partially completed block with me to sister's last Friday but I didn't find any time to work on it. When I showed the pieces to my sister she was surprised how small the block actually was. I had posted about my progress earlier and the photo I took made her think the block was much larger than it was.
Look - I'm only 5"
I guess it can be difficult to determine the actual size of the pieces without having something with them as a reference. The whole block will finish at 4.5". These little segments are only 2.75".

Glued and ready to be appliqued.
Even though the applique turned out fairly well, don't forget I am really very new to this process, I think I need to try another method. I made a template for the two applique pieces from heat resistant mylar and I used liquid starch as my glue. These pieces are very small and I burned my fingers a lot while trying to hold the edges down and pressing/drying them with the iron. I did use a mini iron and I did try to use something other than my fingers to hold the edges down but it just wouldn't work for me.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Slow But Steady is the Goal

My plan for yesterday was to work on a Dear Jane block. I chose the fabric and laid out all of the pieces that I had drawn onto freezer paper. I traced them onto the fabric and I got as far as cutting out the pieces. There are a lot of little pieces in this block that need to be sewn together and unfortunately I just ran out of time. I will continue working on it and hopefully I will have it finished later in the week.

Last night, while watching tv, I did finish the applique on the midget block I showed last week. I just have to sew the squares together and then the block will be complete.

Some of these Dear Jane and midget blocks have many small pieces and are time consuming to make. I am sewing my Dear Jane blocks by hand and I am sewing my midget blocks using a combination of hand and machine sewing and I am enjoying the process immensely. It is not a race by any means but my ultimate goal is to have quilts made from these blocks and I have to work on them to have that happen. So, here is the plan...I really want to make at least one Dear Jane and one midget block each week. It would be wonderful if I can make that happen!

I am linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts. Pop on over and have a look around and see what has been stitched up over the past week.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Saturday Sewing - Sunday Puttering

Clay's Choice, Flock of Geese, Anvil
A couple days ago I had prepped 3 Engineer's Wife blocks and I stitched them together yesterday. It didn't take very long at all to finish them and I think they turned out pretty well. Even though it is a very time consuming process to prepare multiple blocks ahead of time, I have decided that is the best way for me to complete these blocks. So, over the next couple days I hope to have quite a few blocks prepped and ready to sew. I already started that process yesterday and have two more ready to go.

I also spent time working on Tranquility. I have been sewing the hourglass blocks into groups of 4 to make blocks that will finish at 8". I need a total of 120 blocks and I have sewn 67 together so far. With just over half done I still have a way to go.

Today, though, I will be working on a Dear Jane block. I think it is about time that I got back to working on those blocks. I also need to spend time working in the kitchen. I have plans to make 3 pans of lasagna that I will freeze and also some Sheppard's Pie that we will have for supper. In order to make the lasagna I have to get started on making my spaghetti sauce right away and as always....laundry awaits.