Sunday, June 30, 2013

Donation Quilt for Project Linus

Today is the Slow Stitching Sunday link up at Kathy's Quilts and I wanted to participate but honestly I didn't want to show my yellow paisley Seven Sisters quilt again. I have almost got another row quilted and I plan on working on it some more today. It might be exciting for me to work on it because it is a special project but to keep showing row after row of Baptist Fans just doesn't give much eye candy for anyone else! 

So, instead I worked on sewing the binding onto my latest donation quilt. This quilt top is one that I sewed together really quickly so that I could use it as a test quilt when I was trying out the Millennium that I ultimately purchased.

I started working on the binding this morning while I watched TV - an episode of Criminal Minds and multiple episodes of Paranormal Witness with a break to make a pancake brunch for the family...and is all done.

This quilt finished at 46" x 54" and that puts it in the toddler category for a Project Linus quilt although it isn't really toddler themed. I am pretty sure that the charity will make sure it will suit the person that receives it.

I quilted it in a free hand loopy loop meander and I think it turned out pretty well.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Tranquility is a Flimsy!

It took me a little longer than I thought it would for me to sew the blocks into a finished top but I did it. I just love this top and I can't wait to turn it into a finished quilt. The colours are gorgeous in person and I just want to keep looking at it and not just that, I want to keep looking deep into it - it really does give a very tranquil feeling.  The quilt is fairly big approx 80 x 96 and my husband and son are holding it sideways for the picture.

My niece Amanda wants to pick out her own backing but she lives in Winnipeg. She will be coming to visit her family sometime this summer and I would guess that she will pick it out during her visit. I can't remember for certain but I don't think she will be coming until August. In any event, everything is ready and waiting for her.

Normally, when I sew blocks together that require a lot of matching, I pin the blocks together to help me match the seams but this time I decided to live a little on the wild side and I just aligned the seams and points as I went. It is not perfect but I did a pretty good job. Probably just as well as if I had spent all that time pinning/unpinning.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hello Tranquility

The final 30 blocks
It has been quite some time since I have worked on this quilt - since January. My, my where does the time go? I pulled the bin containing the partially made blocks off the shelf and got busy with it yesterday. The last time I posted about this quilt I had 67 blocks made but when I took it off the shelf I only found 63 blocks. I got 27 blocks made yesterday and I added another 30 today. I am sure that the missing blocks will turn up now. Doesn't that always happen after you remake them? Sewing these blocks together was quite a speedy process. I didn't really pay too much attention to the fabric placement other than I tried to not have any of the same side-by-side. I love, love the colour combination that my niece Amanda has chosen!
Last grouping of hourglass blocks

It didn't take long to sew them into pairs
I plan to work on it some more today and maybe I just might get the whole top sewn together. Hopefully, nothing comes up that I must take care of now that I am on a roll with this quilt. I already have everything ready for dinner because I had been on a cooking binge over the past few days and we are going to have roast beef sandwiches au jus along with a salad. I made the roast the other day and the crusty bread yesterday so it just needs to be turned into sandwiches and I will leave it to my husband to put a salad together. It sounds like a great plan to me!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Stars & Nines is a Flimsy

I will have a better photo when it is finished!
I sewed the little blue polka dot borders on this morning and even though I thought I would add another narrow dark blue border it just ain't gonna happen. This quilt top has told me it is done. It will be bound with the dark blue fabric and I have already got it cut and ready to be joined into one long strip.

I don't have an official name for this quilt yet but I am sure something will come to me by the time I am ready to make the label. I already have the quilting pattern chosen but I still need to make a decision about the backing. Hopefully, I will make a decision soon so I can get this one done and delivered to my nephew Norman. I am very happy with the way this top has turned out!

Quick Progress - Seven Sisters Quilt

Hard to tell from the picture but I am making progress!
I have made great progress on my hand quilting this week. I completed one full row and have almost got a second row done. That is just amazing in my books. Generally, I have been waiting until evening to do my hand quilting and honestly I am often just too tired to have a go at it so there is often no progress being made at all.

I am a very early riser and most days I am up before 6 am. My house is very quiet in the mornings and I want to do some quilting of sorts but I don't want to disturb anyone. So this week I picked up my Seven Sisters quilt and worked on it in the early mornings and I think I have found a routine that works for me - at least for this week. I hope I can keep this new routine going!

I am linking up with Kathy's Quilts - Slow Stitching Sunday. Pop on by to check out other hand stitched projects.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Boy's Britches Blocks...Again!

Well, I have finally caught up with these blocks and have made them in all of the colours for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge so far. With the addition of the yellow, blue and second set of green blocks this month I think I have the makings for a pretty nice quilt top. It was a lot of work for me to make these blocks because they are just so darn challenging and honestly, they really are all quite imperfect. I think it will be another challenge to sew them all together and to get them all to lay flat. I think I have overdosed on making so many over the past few days that I am just about ready to say that I am done with them. I won't start sewing them together into a quilt top for a while though, just in case I do decide to carry on with them next month. I just might see things differently after I take a bit of a break from them. I want to show a picture of all of them together but since I have rearranged my sewing room I just don't have the wall space for a big design wall. I do need to figure out a solution to that soon but that is a problem for another day.

Hop on over to soscrappy's blog to see what other participants have made with their yellow scraps this week.

Friday, June 21, 2013

More Boy's Britches Blocks

Over the past couple days I have been working on sewing more of these blocks together. I had all of the parts prepped and ready so that has made it a lot easier and quicker.

Yesterday I finished the green blocks that I needed to remake and I also got one yellow block finished. The blue blocks only have the center triangles attached but I hope to have them and all of the yellow blocks finished by tomorrow.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Machine Quilting

Last Friday my sister Cheryl came to my place for a visit so that I could do some more practice quilting. She brought a few quilt tops with her for me to practice on. She is such a brave, brave girl!

She stayed overnight and we had hoped that I would get at least three quilts finished but in reality we only had time for two. It is taking time to get used to the new machine but with my sister's help I am getting much quicker at loading them onto the frame. I am also learning what my machine likes or doesn't like! It seems that if I use a bobbin that has the tension set just a bit too tight then I start having big problems. Problems that are big enough that I got a burr on the hook and that had to be sanded out. I am pretty sure that I have the 'feel' for the correct tension for the bobbin now and I adjust the bobbin case accordingly each time I change the bobbin. There is a device that I can purchase that tests the tension of the bobbin properly and I just may purchase one. It would make it a lot easier to ensure the proper tension each time.

I have been quilting using a pantograph and I tried a new one on the second quilt. I do need to find some resources that show how to use a pantograph correctly.  I have been winging it but I am pretty sure that there is a correct method for positioning it for the start and finish of the pattern and well...just the whole process in general.

My sister is very happy with the way her quilts have turned out. The purple quilt is for her D-I-L and the gold one is to be a gift for her friend that is getting married this coming weekend. Cheryl has been working away sewing the binding on that quilt and I hope when it is all done that she will send me a picture of the finished quilt. I think her friend is going to love it!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hand Quilting Progress

On Sunday, I linked up to Kathy's Quilts - Slow Sunday Stitching and I showed a picture of my current Seven Sisters Quilt. I am pleased to say that since then I have made some really good progress and I have a sore finger to prove it. When I picked up the quilt on Sunday I was just at the beginning of the row and this morning I am almost finished it. I plan to work on it some more today and I think that by the end of the day I will have made a good start on the next row as well. I really love these quilts that I am making for my sisters and I know they will treasure them as well.

Home HVAC Upgrades - A Cautionary Tale

I think I need a degree in thermostats to be able to operate it!

New furnace
Last month we had some really kooky weather and it was sweltering hot at one point so we turned on our air conditioner. Normally, once the air conditioner goes on we refuse to turn the furnace back on but we had such extreme temperature changes and at one point it got to 63F in the house during the day. We decided that we would break with tradition and turn the heat back on...but the furnace wouldn't go on. We called Direct Energy who is our service provider and who we pay annually to have the parts/service covered on our furnace - we also rented our hot water tank from them.

A little bit of background information is that a few weeks before this occurred, my husband and I had been discussing the fact that our hot water tank needed to be replaced and we were debating the advantages of owning vs. renting. We had decided we would purchase one but had not started the process. We also had problems with our air conditioner - it was 19 years old and was feeling it's age and not working very efficiently.

When the service man from Direct Energy arrived he didn't even bring in a tool kit and he tagged our furnace. When your furnace gets tagged they shut off the gas to it and you are not allowed to have service until you replace the furnace. Just because our furnace was 26 yrs. old, the service man - without doing any checking - decided the heat exchanger was cracked and that it was dangerous. (We have carbon monoxide detectors in our house and they never alarmed and we had the furnace checked in September and it was all good to go). He then also very kindly offered to have one of their salesmen come right away to see us to have it replaced. We booked an appointment and had their salesman give us a quote. The quote he provided was about $12,000 plus 13% tax to replace just the furnace and air conditioner. If we wanted to purchase a hot water tank it would be at least another $1000 plus tax for the tank and the installation. Let's just say we had some sticker shock!
New hot water tank
New air conditioner

We knew we needed to get other quotes and after checking we decided on a local company that works with Costco. The quote the local company provided was a few thousand $ cheaper and it included the hot water tank. When the salesman was here he wanted to know how our basement was being used because he could see that we are renovating. He suggested that we install 2 return air vents and recommended their placement. He included them in the quote as well. With the lower quoted price, a rebate from Costco along with other government incentives our cost will be just over half of the quoted price from Direct Energy and that my friends is a huge difference. In all fairness, we would have received the government incentives even if we went with Direct Energy but the difference is still huge.

I had mentioned earlier that we pay a fee to have the parts and service covered for our furnace. Because we have replaced it and it has it's own new warranty we no longer have the requirement for the service from Direct Energy. We had paid for coverage up to September and because we no longer need the service we wanted our money back. That was quite the challenge but after speaking with a customer service supervisor and being very firm, my husband was able to get the money back.

We had our new system installed yesterday and so far so good!

The point of the story is that if your furnace breaks and it needs to be replaced, even if it is in the dead of winter and panic sets in please, please make sure you get more than one quote. The first quote you get is not likely to be the best one.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Slow Sunday Stitching - Hand Quilting

The hoop is slowly changing position on the quilt!
I really have not made as much progress on hand quilting this Seven Sisters quilt as I had thought I would but that doesn't really matter. The point is that I am still enjoying working on it even if it does take me twice as long as I intended.

Today is a day that I really do need to take some time to slow down and have a bit of a rest and that means that it is a perfect day to spend sitting on the couch, watching TV and doing some relaxing hand quilting.

The only other things on my agenda for today are to give the dogs a bath and brush them, make brunch and dinner and do the clean up after both meals - and I just might get dressed too!

Are you working on any Slow Sunday Stitching projects? Pop on over to Kathy's Quilts to link up and to see what other projects are getting done today!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Yellow

I fell off the RSC wagon but I hope to get right back on it this month. I have made four more yellow 9 patches to add to the eight that I made last year. They really are so quick and easy to make and I think a rainbow quilt made from these blocks will make an amazing donation quilt for someone.

I also got caught up with my basket blocks and this week I have sixteen yellow baskets to share as well. I have also added two more blue baskets. When I made the blue baskets earlier I didn't notice that I had left two partially finished at my sewing machine. I still don't have a plan for these blocks and with no deadline in sight, they really are perfect to make for the challenge. I think they are so cute! They will finish at 4" so it will take a ton of these little blocks to make a quilt - it is definitely a very long term project.

I am linking up with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela of soscrappy. Drop on by to see what great projects are being made with scraps.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Facing the Music....errrr the Math

I did it! I finally faced the math for the borders on my Stars & Nines quilt and I eventually got it right. This is the first time that I have had to make a pieced border fit a quilt top and I wasn't too sure of the process. I did need to do just a bit of trimming of the blue polka dot inner side borders but after that everything went together really well. It's funny how small molehills become such large mountains and they seem to stop us in our tracks! It really wasn't difficult at all and now I know that I can do it.

I am very happy with the way it looks now but I am not finished with the borders yet. I think it needs to have another round of the blue polka dot fabric and then maybe another one of the dark blue.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cutting and Prepping

Yesterday seemed to be a day for more fabric cutting and prepping and it continued into this morning. I would have to say that cutting fabric is not one of my favourite parts of making a quilt. I find it to be quite tedious at times but since it is a very necessary part of quilt making I figured I would get as much done as I could all at once. Now that I have everything prepped I can move onto the fun part - sewing it all back together.

Along with the scraps from yesterday, I finished cutting the black and white parts that I need for the Boy's Britches blocks and I also cut the pieces that I need to make my blue and my yellow star blocks. The star blocks use such tiny pieces of fabric - 1.5" squares and teeny triangles cut from 1" strips. This is a picture of some of the stars I have already made. They are so cute and worth all of the finicky cutting and piecing.

It always seems such a chore to do the cutting in big batches but when I am finished I am always glad that I did it

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Unpick or Just Start Over?

Last month I showed my green blocks that I had made for my Boy's Britches quilt. They looked so good but sadly they were a bit too big. I had changed my sewing machine and I thought I had adjusted my 1/4" seam but apparently I had not. There are so many points and places that these blocks need to match when they are joined together and it would be very noticeable that they were off. I decided that I would take them apart and restitch them together. That plan didn't last very long!! Last week, I was visiting with my sister for the day and I took the blocks along with me to take apart and I got one seam on one block unstitched and that was enough for me to quit - it was just too much work. I decided that it would be much easier to just remake them and put these larger blocks in with my orphan blocks. They are really cute and I am pretty sure I will find another quilt to use them in - they could potentially find their way onto the back.

Last night I started cutting more parts for my Boy's Britches blocks. I have fallen behind in making them in the colours of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge so I need to make them in green, blue and now yellow. I did get all of the coloured parts of the britches cut out. I use a homemade plastic template to mark the fabric for cutting these pieces because they are an awkward shape but happily they fit very well on the 3.5" strips from my scrap bins. I still need to cut the black and the white fabric and I plan to have all of these blocks finished by the end of the month - I hope!

After cutting the needed pieces I am left with a pile of strip ends that need to be cut down and I have started that process too. I will finish cutting these leftover bits into rectangles and squares today and they will be ready to use in a future quilt.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New Long Arm - 2007 Millennium

So this is the debut of my 'new to me' long arm. It is on a 12' table and takes up a huge portion of my sewing room. I have had to rearrange a lot of stuff and move things around and out of my sewing room to make space. I had it for just about 2 weeks before I got up my courage to actually use it. I am thrilled with my purchase and I think even though it was an investment of cash that it is an investment in me! I plan on using it for many, many years to come and to quilt many, many quilts for family, friends, charity and just plain old quilts for me too.

A couple weeks ago, my sister Cheryl spent two nights at my place and we loaded up some old sheets with batting in between to do a practice run and I found it quite challenging to quilt with it at first. Once I did the practice run we loaded one of her quilts on the machine and I did my very first pantograph on it. It was really difficult to follow the lines but I did eventually get better with it as I worked on it.

Picture a rag caught up and dangling from the hook - ouch!
I did have a major problem though and I am quite embarrassed to admit it, but I got a cleaning rag caught in the hook. I was mortified, horrified, terrified and lots of other 'fieds when it happened. I couldn't get the pieces of the rag out!!!! I really just wanted to cry because I thought I had really broken it and that it was done....over....kaput. After reading about how to proceed and also calling APQS my husband removed the hook and soaked it in WD40 to remove the small  pieces of the rag that were caught in it. Once he got it all cleaned out he oiled it and then reinstalled it, timed it and told me not to do that again!  We also needed to change a small fuse that blew. The support team at APQS were so helpful and were quick to respond and they even tried to make me feel better and told me that it happens more often than you would think. They also assured me that there really isn't too much that I could do to to this machine that would destroy it. I think just about all of the parts are replaceable which is a good thing but hopefully I won't ever need to replace anything.

After all of that adventure, this is how my sister's quilt turned out - not too bad - I think I did a pretty good job with it!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Blue Mini Baskets

Last month the colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge was blue and I only managed to get my blue nine patches made. I have been working on the nine patches, Boy's Britches blocks, mini stars and mini baskets for the challenge and even though I have fallen behind, I still want to make them in each of the colours that have been chosen for the challenge.  In my effort to get caught up I was able to make 16 of the blue baskets over the past couple days. They are all somewhat dark because we were supposed to use 'sapphire blue' for the month of May saving other shades of blue for future months.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Stars and Nines Border

I finished making these borders this morning and I think they turned out great. When I posted about them last I had made all the parts to put the 9 patches together and I had also made one test block just to make sure the size worked. I had a brain cramp last night when I was working on them and ended up having to unsew a few sections but once I got myself sorted out it was all good. These borders are a little longer than the actual quilt top (I used 4.5" nine patches) so I need to add a coping strip around the entire top before I add them. I need to use my dining room table to press and measure the top so I can cut the strips to size but the table is filled with folded laundry that needs to be taken care of and I am not sure if I have enough of the dot fabric washed and ready to use anyway. I am quite anxious to finish up this quilt so hopefully I will get everything in order quickly!

One thing new for me is that I am now sewing on my Janome 1600 instead of my Singer 301 and I really like it! I find that my seam allowance is accurate and it seems to stay accurate and not drift. It is such a fast machine - it uses a different type of needle than a regular sewing machine and it just whips through thick seams without any problem at all.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Linked is Finished!

I finished hand stitching the binding down and sewing in my thread ends this morning while watching movies on television.  My puppies were on the couch with me holding down the quilt so that it couldn't get away - they are so helpful!

This quilt was made using the Crossroad Block and I love how it has turned out. It was such a simple block to make and looks so good! It finished at  63" x 72" and was quilted using a cream So Fine thread. I am pretty sure my friend Evelyn is going to really like it too. This is the final quilt that I have quilted using my Janome 1600 and Grace frame. I have quilted so many wonderful quilts on that system since I purchased it in November 2011 but the time has come to move on and I have purchased a new set-up.

I am linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching hosted by Kathy of Kathy's Quilts. Kathy has asked how we organize ourselves to get our hand work done and I have to say that I will be reading the comments to get some good hints and tips. I am sadly lacking in the organization department even though I know that if I spend time getting things prepped ahead of time I would certainly get a lot more done.