Sunday, March 31, 2013

Seven Sisters - Yellow Paisley

For the longest time this quilt top has been hanging around my sewing room and glaring at me because I have not been paying it any attention at all. I had been promising it that I would get the backing made so that I could quilt it and then I actually started to avoid looking at it because I knew it just wasn't going to happen. Well, I no longer have to avert my eyes when I enter my sewing room!

I am using a pretty green fabric for the backing and today I ironed the pieces and hand stitched them together. I had originally thought that I might try to baste it on the frame but instead I decided to thread baste it by hand. I am about one-third of the way through and maybe, just maybe, I might be able to get it finished tonight.

I do a lot of hand-stitching but for some reason it does not happen on a Sunday very often, but today I am linking up with Kathy's Quilts - Slow Sunday Stitching. I wish you all a very Happy Easter!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

RSC 2013 - Orange Boy's Britches

I started sewing these blocks together this morning and after several stops and starts I have them all done. I am getting so much better at matching and sewing the seams on these blocks - still not perfect but pretty darn good on a lot of them. I had cut out all of the pieces that I needed ahead of time from 3.5" orange strips that I took from my scrap bins so all I had to do was sew them together.

Here they are all together and I think it is looking really good. I am enjoying making these blocks in particular because they are a challenge for me and I am certainly learning new skills.

Hop on over to soscrappy's to see what other participants have been up to with their orange scraps this month. This is the last week for orange and I am sorry to see it go although I know there are others that are very glad to be done with it. I can't wait to see what colour will be coming for April!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Putting it Together - In More Ways Than One

I am so in love with this quilt top that I just might have to make two! Well, really only because I made a huge mistake when I created the design for this quilt. I had sized my blocks incorrectly and I just didn't clue in - even when my design walls were overflowing with blocks and I was going through an enormous amount of the blue fabric that I was using for the sashing.

When I started, I was pretty sure that I had more than enough fabric to sash all of the blocks and make a narrow border and binding as well. But, the fabric was disappearing quickly and I kept wondering 'what the heck is going on' - I am not going to have enough to make this quilt! So I rechecked my design and wow...what a dough-head!! The blocks in my design were smaller than the ones I was actually making, so now this quilt will only need 32 blocks - less than the 50 I had planned on and way less than the 67 I have made. I do want to use up all of the blocks so I think a second quilt will be in the making. One will be The Engineer's Wife and the other will be The Wife of the Engineer. I am not sure what the design will look like for the second quilt but if I do make them exactly the same I will have to go out and buy more solid blue fabric.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dear Jane - Chris's Soccer Field (B-4)

Chris has flowers on her soccer field - I am definitely thinking Spring! I only took a picture of the finished block but it was a very simple block to put together. I did my usual process and made freezer-paper templates and ironed them onto the fabric. It was just a simple matter of tracing, cutting and then hand sewing the parts together. Not too challenging but cute nonetheless.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Engineer's Wife - I am So Excited!

Wow, I just cannot believe how energized I have become with working on this quilt. I guess just coming up with the layout that I like and that I am excited about did it. I lost quite a bit of my enthusiasm for making these blocks when I fell so far behind in the process and the sow-along was finished but my blocks still weren't done. I did persevere with making the blocks because I knew I wanted to make the quilt for my husband and boy I am so glad that I did.

Yesterday morning I started out with 18 blocks on my design wall and little pile of partially framed blocks. I did some more cutting and sewing and now I have this design wall full and I have started putting the blocks on my second design wall as well.

For the layout I have chosen, I only need 50 blocks but I did make 67 so....I will put the extra blocks on the back of the quilt. Today I plan to cut and sew the strips that I need to frame the last 15 blocks that will go on the front and then I will start cutting and adding the blue sashing. I love what is happening in my sewing room!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Midget Block #73 - Dogwood

I have to admit that every time I looked at this background fabric I had to smile. I practically grinned the whole time I worked on this block. It is such a fun fabric and I wish I had more...lots more. I only bought half a meter because it was a bit expensive for my budget but I had to have it. I do still have most of it left because this is the first time I have used it. I also used orange scraps for the rest of the block so I think it definitely qualifies for the March Rainbow Scrap Challenge as well!

This cute little block was made using multiple techniques. I paper-pieced the teeth (also known as petal arcs) and hand appliqued them to the background squares. I sewed the 4 patches and the squares together by machine.

I really wanted to use my Roxanne's glue for the applique but I just could not get the applicator clear so the glue could flow. I had cleaned it out the best I could after the last use but obviously I didn't do a good enough job. I tried to poke things into the applicator but I could not clear it. I think I am going to soak it in hot water and see if that will work. Since I couldn't use it I used Elmer's glue instead and it seemed to work okay. After I applied the glue I needed to use the iron to press it down and make it stick but I did have good results.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Engineer's Wife

I do like most of the blocks that I made for this quilt but I was really ambiguous about the way they all looked together and was a little worried that I might end up with a quilt that my husband wouldn't like. This morning I spent some time working on some designs and I think I have come up with a setting that changes all of that. I showed a couple options to my husband and I am using the one that he likes the best. I haven't told him that this quilt will be for him so he will still be surprised. I had considered making more blocks to make the quilt bigger but after thinking about it I realized I just didn't want to go that route.

In this version, the border triangles are brown and they are not pieced but I may still tweak the design a bit. I won't make that decision until I see how it all looks in real life. I also have used just one block in the design for illustration purposes instead of putting in a bunch of different blocks even though my finished quilt will be a sampler - I figure one is enough to give the idea of how it will look. So far, I am very happy with the few blocks that I have made as a test.

Evelyn's Quilt Top is Finished!

Wow...that didn't take too long at all. I just finished sewing the top together and I think it is going to look pretty good when it is all quilted and bound. I tried to get a decent picture but as we all know, my photography skills are pathetic.

I made my quilt blocks 9" and with a layout of 7 x 8 that makes it 63" x 72" - not a large quilt but Evelyn wanted one to cuddle up with on the couch and I think this will work just fine. I was trying to think of a name for the quilt and it just wasn't coming to me until now - just as I am writing this post. The name of this quilt is Linked.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Evelyn's Quilt - In Progress

I have so many projects going that are long-term and they require lots of time and patience. They often have many little details and they just cannot be chain pieced or made using quick techniques, so, sometimes I need a nice diversion that can be finished fairly quickly. The Crossroads pattern is just that - it is quick and easy and fits the bill perfectly!

There were quite a few brown 2 x 3.5" rectangles in my parts bins ready to be used but I needed way more than I had available so I also raided my 3.5" strip bin. When I looked through the bin I saw that the pickins' were quite slim because I had already removed quite a few of the brown strips to use in my Engineer's Wife quilt. I pulled out my brown fat quarters and larger pieces so I would have a nice variety for my bricks. After cutting my strips, if the remnants left were smaller than a fat quarter then I cut them into various sized strips and now I have replenished my bins with new stock.

I have all of the pieces cut and most have been sewn into the components required to just start chain piecing the blocks together - yaaayy! If I have the time I plan to sew them into finished blocks today and so far it looks like I don't have anything else too pressing that needs doing. Sewing I come!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dear Jane - Mirror Image (B-3)

I woke up before 3 this morning and I couldn't get back to sleep so I thought I would work on my Dear Jane blocks. I had B-3 and B-4 prepped and ready to hand-stitch so I thought I would sew both blocks but when I came down to the main floor and turned on the TV I noticed that the Sunday night broadcast of The Walking Dead was being repeated and since I missed it I settled in to watch. Oh, I really like that show and I couldn't believe that I missed the Sunday episode. Anyway, after I watched the show I did get one of the blocks sewn.
Oops...somethings not quite right!
I am happy with the way my block turned out even though I had to take a little detour with the seam ripper!

I hope to get to my sewing room later today so that I can cut more brown rectangles for the quilt I am going to make using the Crossroads block. I am really excited that I have finally found the right pattern for Evelyn's quilt.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Midget Block #72 - Bride's Stairway

I have ragged edges - please don't hold it against me!
This is a cute block and I love the fresh spring colours that I used. A nice soft yellow with flowers and butterflies and a pretty green. My alignment is far from perfect on this block and it is a bit smaller than it is supposed to be but it is just so cute I don't think it will matter much.

This block required plenty of teeny, tiny pieces - a total of 51 pieces jam packed into this little block! The best part of making this block is that the yellow and green fabric came from my tower of scraps -whoohoo!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Crossroads Block

I saw this Crossroads block pattern over at Deb's@ asimplelifequilts and I was inspired. I literally ran to my sewing room and started sewing these blocks together.

I had a good head start because I already had a lot of 2 x 3.5" brown bricks precut in my bins and all I had to do was cut some 3.5" squares from my neutral fabric. I quickly sewed 5 blocks together and then I was not too sure that I liked the neutral I had chosen. It seems to be a bit muddy looking to me.

So I chose another neutral and whipped up 6 more. I think I like the second neutral better - it is lighter and has a small floral beige print on it. This quilt will be going to my friend Evelyn and she wants a neutral and brown quilt and I think she will be happier with the lighter neutral as well. Previously, I have made a few other trial blocks trying to decide what to make and I think this is it. A tutorial for this block is available at Freemotion by the River and also Threadbias Blog.

Today we had our family celebration for Eric's birthday. For dinner I always make whatever is requested by the birthday person. Eric decided he wanted BBQ pork spareribs, Caesar salad, shrimp, garlic bread and french onion soup and for dessert he wanted a chocolate cheesecake. I very happily accommodated each request. I didn't think I was up to making the cheesecake so I bought one when I went grocery shopping yesterday.

I also had to make two more loaves of french bread to use for the garlic bread and I did that yesterday. By this morning one of the loaves had disappeared! I think I did a better job at making this batch - they weren't as curvy and they were delicious. My family is really enjoying this bread and they keep gobbling it up faster than I can make it!

I want to wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day and I leave you with a toast of Harp Lager (we have had just a few sips) and this Irish blessing -

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Orange Baskets

Last night I didn't get into bed until after midnight because I was very busy making these baskets. I had started sewing some of the components together several days ago but there still was a lot to do to get them finished. I had a great day yesterday, cooking and baking and not so much cleaning. I finished the dishes at 9:20 pm and then I hightailed it into my sewing room to finish these baskets. I think I really like the on-point setting better than the standard horizontal layout. Hop on over to soscrappy's to check out the links to other fabulous scrappy orange projects.

One of the things I did yesterday was to make this bread. I had not tried this recipe before but it was quite easy and turned out really well. Next time I will have to make the loaves a bit shorter. When they rose they were too long for the pan and they got all curvy. I didn't use a mixer - I just started mixing it with a spoon and then switched to using my hands once the dough started to come together. The dough didn't require much kneading other than a couple minutes or so. I didn't get a picture until after someone had already cut the loaf, it appears that they just couldn't wait. When Eric got home from school (he gets home quite late in the evening) he had some and requested that I make it again - success! I have been using recipes from Mennonite Girls Can Cook for several weeks now and every one of the bread/pizza/bun recipes that I have tried are really good.

Peanut is doing very well after her surgery - she is such a little cuddle-bug puppy and she is really enjoying the extra attention. She had a follow-up visit with the vet this morning and everything looks good.

Today is a special day for two reasons - it is International Quilting Day and more importantly it is my son Eric's birthday. Happy Birthday to Eric!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Sow-along Blocks are Done!

I finished the blocks yesterday and I am so happy that I finally got the last one done. I had fallen behind but I was determined to finish all of the posted blocks.

Here they are all together on the design wall. It looks like a big messed up dogs breakfast but once sashing is added it will calm things down and you will be able to see each block individually instead of as one huge mass. There are 67 blocks in total and even with sashing and a border added there is not quite enough blocks for a bed sized quilt. This is going to go to my husband and it needs to be bigger so I think I will have a look at the Farmer's Wife book and pick out some more blocks to add to my little collection.

I haven't done any sewing yet today but I do plan on getting some done later this evening. I have been neglecting my 'duties' and I need to spend some time today cleaning and cooking. I have already done the dishes and made a big pot of soup and have put a large container of it in the freezer for another day. I still have some baking to do and cleaning - oh how I wish my house could keep itself clean!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Play Time

I have been working on a few different projects in my sewing room over the past couple days and I have made more progress with my Engineer's Wife blocks. I have the last 9 blocks that were posted by Randy at Barristers Block all cut and ready for me to sew today. Once I get that done I will take a picture of all of the blocks on my design wall so that I can see the overall picture and decide where to go from there. I suspect that I will be making more blocks and, if so, I will take those from the Farmer's Wife book.

I also did some prep work on a couple midget blocks as well. No pictures yet but I am pretty happy with the way they look so far.

Where oh where did Spring go?? The other day we had a lot of rain and it washed most of the snow away. We have been getting small snow flurries since then but nothing has really stuck until this morning - boohoo. At least there is some sun trying to shine through the clouds and through the cedar trees. This picture is not a very scenic one but it sure does get the point across.

I took Molly and Peanut to the vet yesterday. Molly needed her annual vaccinations but poor Peanut was scheduled for her spaying. I get to bring her home again after 5 pm today. Peanut really is such a tiny little thing - just under 6.5 lbs. Molly looks huge compared to her but even then Molly is only 17 lbs. She lost .8 lbs since I last took her to the vet for the ear infection last month - way to go Molly!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Midget Block #71 - Railroad Crossing

I was so sure that I had posted this block but it appears that I didn't. I made it sometime in February and it seems such a long time ago that I have forgotten most of the details. I do remember that I strip pieced it instead of the recommended paper piecing and I am quite happy with the way it turned out. A really cute and simple block.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Indoor Play Day

It is a very wet, dull day today. It has been raining most of the day and I am happy to see that a lot of the snow has melted away. It may be dreary outside but I am feeling very happy about the weather because it means we really are getting closer to Spring. We do often get snow off and on right into April but it doesn't usually stay on the ground for too long.

Since it was such a miserable day outside it was perfect to stay inside and play around in my sewing room. I worked on a couple things and one of them was to make another Engineer's Wife block. This block was paper-pieced and it turned out pretty well. It is called This and That - only 9 more blocks to go.

I also fixed this cell phone case/holder for my husband. He wears his cell phone in a pouch on his belt and the one he has been using is very bulky and not too attractive. He wanted to switch to this slim version but when he put his phone in it the closure wouldn't work properly. So I added an extra row of Velcro and I think it will work perfectly for him. I tested it with my phone and it had no trouble staying closed. He will be very happy with me because he has been asking me to do this for a couple weeks.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Engineers Wife Blocks Again

Railroad, Dove in the Window, Indian Plume
Last night after supper I quickly made my way to my sewing room before I got distracted by anything else. I didn't really have a plan as to what I was going to work on but when I sat down at my sewing machine I saw a little pile of hsts that I had started putting together for an Engineer's Wife block. It has been quite some time since I last made a block and I was in the middle of making Indian Plume when I left off. The thing is, I didn't know that I was in the middle of making the block - I discovered that as I tried to sort out how I left things.

It's funny, but whenever I leave a project I always think that I will remember what I was doing and that I will know the next step when I return at some time in the future. The problem is that my brain is totally cluttered up with so much useless knowledge that I often forget such important things as what stage I left my quilt block in. After a bit of hmmmming and ohhhhing, I finally got myself and these three blocks together and they do look good! I think I have 10 more blocks to go and then I will be ready to think about how I am going to sash them and turn them into a quilt for my husband. I plan to give it to him for his birthday and I have until mid May to get it done.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rainbow Scrap Challenge Week 2 - Orange Stars

I haven't spent very much time in my sewing room this week so I really had to get cracking today. I had cut out the pieces for these stars during the week but I didn't start sewing them together until yesterday. Some of these stars are quite high contrast and others not so much. The star that looks like it has disappeared doesn't look quite so low contrast in real life. I will keep it as it is because I do like a little variety - even in my stars.

Just as I was pressing them out I noticed this boo-boo. This is actually the second one that I made the same mistake with. I caught the other one earlier in the process.

Here is the group shot of all of my stars that I have made so far - pink, purple and now orange.

I plan to get back into my sewing room again this evening but I haven't decided yet which project will get some attention. Really, they all need some but unfortunately, even though I have more than one sewing machine there is only one of me. Some would say that is probably a good thing!

Hop on over to soscrappy's and check out the links and see what else has been made with orange scraps this week. There is always plenty of eye candy to check out.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fabric Scraps

I have been thinking about my two towers of scraps lately and I think I have found a way to help me to get them under control. I have not done anything major to deal with the situation so it has basically stayed the same since I last posted about it. To my credit, I have taken out strips that I could use in my mini basket and mini star blocks and I have made sure that I have not added to the problem. I have been dealing with all current scraps by immediately cutting them down to usable pieces. Some of these pieces have been really quite small because quite frankly most of my scraps are small bits and pieces or very narrow strips that are less than 2" wide and more often less than 1.5". Why save such small pieces when they seem to just get thrown into these piles? The reason is simple and that is because I do like to make small blocks and they only require small pieces. But, like many quilters I am always getting sidetracked with other projects. Taking control of these scraps is just a matter of making a specific plan and spending the time to do something with them - at least that is what I keep telling myself!

As I have been making my mini basket and mini star blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (hosted by soscrappy), I have been using some of the scrap strips that are at least 1.5" wide and cutting out the square, qst and hst shapes until the pieces of fabric scraps are done. These blocks require 1.5" strips as well as 1" strips and pieces so each block really does not use up a lot of fabric.

I am now getting little stacks of these extra shapes and instead of putting them back into scrap bins, I think I will use them as a leaders/ender project to continue to make very scrappy versions of these blocks. I mean really....these mini star and basket blocks are adorable!

Who knows, after I get hundreds of them made I will have a new quilt and I will be using up the smallest of scraps. I can also see using them in borders as well - the possibilities are endless. Of course, this would end up being a very long term project but I am okay with that - I plan on living a very long time! I also need to challenge myself to make string and crumb blocks every week. I do like to use these blocks in my Project Linus quilts so that is definitely a win-win situation. So that is the plan for now - I just need to stick to it.