Friday, November 29, 2013

Squishy in the Mail

Earlier this month Deborah at Simply Miss Luella had a giveaway that I entered. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out it was me that had won. I was just so darn excited because this was the first time I have ever won a giveaway... and what a prize it was.

I won a jelly roll of Lush Uptown and the fabric is really cute. This is another first in that I have never purchased a jelly roll except for the edible kind! I opened it up to see the fabrics and was totally surprised to see how many strips it contained. Hmmmm....I do see some yellow, green and orange in there - maybe I can incorporate some of these strips into Bonnie Hunter's mystery.

Thank you Deborah for hosting the giveaway - I am so glad I won!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Kathlene's Quilt


Kathlene's quilt is nearly done and I am just so excited about it! This is what it looked like when I took it off the frame. I tried to get a good picture of the quilting but I just can't seem to do it very well.

I did learn a few more techniques while working on the quilting - such as how to handle the side edges of the quilt while stitching a pantograph. Those side edges can really cause trouble when you stitch off the edge and then try to get back on again. I think I have that all worked out now - thank goodness. It would be really good if I could apprentice with someone that has a long arm and that would be willing to teach me and share their knowledge and experience.
I have made the binding and attached it by machine to the front and I have started stitching it by hand to the back. This quilt is huge...I took a photo of it hanging from the dining room table as I was trimming it after the quilting was is just so pretty!  I thought I had a name for this quilt but now I am not so sure about it - I really do need to figure that out soon!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Getting Ready for Guild Night

I finished the cuddle quilt that I was making for the Guild's Outreach Program and I think it turned out pretty cute. I know that the child that receives it will love it- it is such a fun and bright quilt. I sewed the binding on it yesterday and it just took a couple hours because it really isn't that large.

I didn't think I would have time to finish it this month because I was in a rush to make two family baby quilts by December 1 but in the end I only needed to make one. The other one can wait a little bit and that really took the pressure off.
4 blocks made earlier this month

Tonight is Guild night and I have a few things to hand in - the cuddle quilt, the string blocks that I made earlier in the month and this Delectable Mountain block that is for the Block of the Month draw.

The Guild provided the lighter background fabric and participants were to use a piece of their own Christmas fabric for the mountain. I think it turned really well considering we weren't supposed to use directional fabric .... and I did.

reject pieces
Well that was big mistake and I had to take some of the strips apart and cut more fabric so that all of the stripes went in the same direction. It would be nice to be a winner of some of these blocks - I think the winners will end up with gorgeous Christmas quilts.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kathlene's Quilt

I have loaded the quilt I am making for my sister Kathlene on the frame and started quilting it and I can't be happier with the way it looks! I am quilting it with a pantograph called Starburst and it does look so nice on the quilt. Originally, I wasn't sure if I wanted to do the quilting with a yellow or purple thread but in the end I decided to go with the purple and I think it is working out just fine.

My sister has sold her house and will be moving to my town mid-December. I really have not had the opportunity to spend much time with her but maybe things will change now that she will be living closer to me.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Starburst QAL - Block Four

I started making a block yesterday but I had a little bit of trouble because the picture I was looking at for placement was reversed. Once that was sorted out it really was all good from there and I finished the rest of the blocks today. Making these blocks is definitely not speed piecing because it has taken me most of the morning to make them but I think it really is worth the time and effort.

These are the second set of asymmetrical blocks that we have made as part of the QAL. I think they turned out well and they make a gorgeous star but I do have a little problem with them in that I prefer symmetry in general. I wouldn't normally choose to do an asymmetrical block but it really is not a bad thing to stretch and try different things because the result can be fantastic.

This time I took a group shot of all the blocks we have made so far and I spread them around instead of clumping like blocks together. I think they are looking good!

Pop on over to Little Bunny Quilts to join  the QAL. It's not too late and the pattern is being offered for free.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Slow Sunday Stitching

I need to make a lot more of these!
It has been a very busy week around here and I am ready to spend a bit of quiet time doing some knitting. I had been making dishcloths but haven't touched them in a while and I still need to make more to give as little Christmas and hostess gifts.

I did do some slow stitching earlier this week when I hand stitched the binding to the back of the baby quilt that I recently finished. Some quilters do not enjoy stitching the binding but I find it is one of the best parts. I get to hold the quilt and get a good up-close look and spend some quality time with it - how could I not enjoy that!

I also did a small amount of hand applique on this cute basket block that I made for this month's Block Lotto.

I am linking up at Kathy's Quilts Slow Sunday Stitching - take a few moments and pop on over and check out the other links. You just may be inspired to participate in slow Sunday stitching today.

first major snowfall - Nov 2013
We had a significant snowfall yesterday and my poor dogs are a bit confused trying to find some grass. I tried to clear a path for Molly and Peanut but the snow just kept coming. Molly is a mini-schnauzer and is a bit bigger so she manages quite well but poor little Peanut is a toy poodle and is just so small the depth of the snow overwhelms her..poor thing!

With the bad weather, today is the perfect day to stay inside and cuddle up on the couch and get working on my knitting!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Scrap Happy Saturday

This morning I was all set to start making some more Churn Dash blocks but I just didn't have enough of the same brown scraps to make my blocks. I could have raided my strip bins but I just wasn't feeling it this morning. When I started making these blocks I thought that I wanted all of the fabrics within the block to be consistent but I am going to have to rethink that.

In the meantime, look what I made this morning instead. Isn't it cute :). I think it is an adorable block and it really is perfect for using up scraps each month. The largest amount of fabric used is the background so other than that it is a perfect block for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I did use a piece of scrappy brown for the body but I probably should have used it for the wing since that is really the piece that shows up the most in the bird.

I found this block at Block Lotto, which I have just recently joined, and there are some other block patterns on the site that I will also be adding to my repertoire for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. There are quite a few really cute ones!

I am linking up with soscrappy's Rainbow Scrap Challenge - pop on by and check out the links!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Baby Quilt is Finished!

I have moved right along with this quilt and I love the way it looks. It is a bright, happy and fun looking quilt and I have decided to name it Sunny Days.  I think the back turned out quite cute too!

I needed to piece the backing by adding some length to the top and bottom but I wanted the patterned fabric to look centered. After thinking about it for a moment or two, I decided to load the quilt back and top sideways on the frame and that allowed me to center the back when I pinned it to the frame. At least that is what I thought I did but after I quilted it and took it off the frame, I realized that one red border was about .5" longer than the other....oh well.

I used yellow thread and quilted it using a free hand  loopy-loop meander. I really like that quilting pattern for a baby quilt and it is really quick and easy. I can't wait to be able to say that about doing double loops! I finished the binding last night and used the same red fabric that I used in the backing. This little cutie finished at approx. 39" x 47".

I was in a bit of a rush to make two baby quilts because we have two new babies due in February and I wasn't sure which baby will get which quilt. I have decided that Cheryl's grand baby will get this quilt which is a good thing because the shower is on Dec 1. I do still need to make the second baby quilt but now I have a bit more time to work on it. Whew....that certainly takes the pressure off!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Practice, Practice and Practice

I have been thinking about my quilting a lot lately and how I want to do more free motion quilting and not just a meander or loopy-loop. Don't get me wrong, I do love how both designs look and when I took the first step from meander to loopy loop it didn't just happen. I had to practice to make it happen. Now that I have become comfortable with that design it feels like it just seems to flow out of me without any difficulty at all.

One of the reasons I got the long-arm was so that I could really expand my repertoire of free motion designs and become adept at using them in the right places on a quilt. I know that I am not an 'artist' in that I couldn't draw to save my life so it really is quite the challenge for me because free motion quilting is, in effect, drawing on fabric with thread.

I have decided that I need to practice drawing some sort of free motion pattern for 30 minutes every day on a white board. Once I get something worked out, that I can do fairly comfortably, I will need to practice it on the long arm. I had my first disaster trial sister wants to make a nice comfy mattress pad for her soon-to-be grand baby's crib and she asked make some quilted fabric for it. She told me to just do whatever I wanted because she knows I need the practice. She doesn't really care (too much) about any mistakes in the quilting and there surely is! I tried to do a double loop and it was a lot harder than it looks.

I need to get back to the drawing board!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Guild Baby Quilt

quilting in process
I had a window of opportunity to load up the baby quilt that I am making for the guild Outreach Program onto the frame and get it done - so I did! I was a bit concerned about the size though because the quilt top finished at approx 39" x 52" and the backing was only 44" x 54". There really was very little backing to spare but I did manage to make it work even though I did stress about it a bit.

I quilted it with off-white thread in my usual free hand loopy-loop meander and I think it turned out pretty good even though I probably could have done a better job of checking the underside for tension.

I already have the binding made so once I trim the top it will be ready for binding. I still don't think I will get it all finished in time for the next guild meeting but progress is progress!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Baby Quilt Progress - It's a Flimsy!

Wow...this Disappearing Four Patch pattern does work up quite quickly.I went from the first sample blocks to these few blocks and then to a finished flimsy in a very short period of time.

I love the way the little red border gives everything a little splash of happy colour and separates the blocks from the border but also ties them together. I am very happy with the way the top turned out but I do have a little problem with the backing. The top turned out a bit bigger than I had anticipated and because I am using fabric from stash I am limited to the quantities that I have.

backing fabric is so cute!
My quilt top is 40" x 48" and the backing is 38" x 44" so I will need to piece my backing. I have decided that adding some red to the back will look pretty good but I don't have enough of the same lot of red solid that I used on the front. I don't think anyone will mind if I use another red that is a different shade - they probably won't even notice!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Starburst QAL - Block Three

This block was fairly easy to put together because the four corner blocks are just plain 3.5" squares - no piecing required. My blocks look quite chunky compared to the other blocks I have made because there is a lot less white background fabric showing and those un-pieced dark corner blocks are heavy looking. They do stand out a bit right now but as more blocks are added they will blend in.

I think I am getting a little better at paper-piecing these blocks and I used my fabric more efficiently with less waste. That makes me happy!

Here are all of the blocks I have made so far and I think they all look so good together. I probably should have taken a photo of the blocks all mixed up and spread out a bit. I will make sure I do that next week. I have been anticipating today's release of the next block and I am looking forward to completing it and adding it to the collection.

It is not too late to join the QAL - just pop on over to Little Bunny Quilts. The stars are all so gorgeous and the paper-piecing patterns are being offered for free.

Last night we had a major wind storm with some rain and we lost our power at 10 pm. Apparently the wind caused a problem with a transformer and a good part of our region was blacked out. The power finally came back on at 5:15 this morning and I know the exact time because my husband had been watching TV in bed when the power went out and I was very rudely awakened by the TV suddenly blaring. Startled the you-know-what out of me!

Thankfully the temps overnight were unusually mild so we stayed nice and warm and comfortable in our house. It is just daylight now and my husband took a walk around the perimeter of the house and there doesn't appear to be any wind damage. Apparently we had wind gusts of 100 km/hr - I am so grateful for my nice safe, warm and dry home.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Slow Sunday Stitching

I finished quilting my latest Seven Sisters quilt earlier this week and I have since removed all of the basting threads and ironed the quilt to remove the markings that I made to guide my Baptist Fan quilting. The Frixion pen markings have been completely removed but I am still a wee bit nervous about them coming back so I will probably iron it one more time once the binding has been finished.

As you can see, I have trimmed the quilt and made the binding and I am now in the process of hand stitching it to the front of the quilt. I me crazy but I really want to make this series of quilts for my sisters completely by hand. I marked my sewing line 1/4" from the raw edge of the binding and that should help me keep my stitching line nice and somewhat straight. :)  Each stitch I take gets me closer to a finished quilt and there is such simple joy in each stitch.

I am linking up with Kathy's Quilts Slow Sunday Stitching - pop on by to check out the other links. You just may be inspired to spend a little bit of time slow stitching!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Rainbow Scrap Challenge

The hexies look big in the photo but they will finish with 1" sides.
Lately I have been thinking about what I want to work on for the challenge next year. The challenge is to use up scraps and leftover bits and pieces of fabric from other projects and such but I also want to end up with quilts to give as gifts or to keep for myself. You know, I really do need to get some things crossed off my quilting bucket list and I know the Rainbow Scrap Challenge can help me to do that. Lately, I have started making churn dash blocks and I have been cutting 2" x 3.5" rectangles but I also wanted to add a few other projects to the list.

I have been watching Michelle of Daisy Hill Quilts while she works on some clam shells and I would love a quilt made from these adorable shapes. When I asked her about them she directed me to some Sue Daley videos that are available on You Tube and now I am just itching to get to work. I tried to make my own papers but I need more practice with my paper cutting skills on curves. Why did I not learn how to do this in elementary school - my smooth rounded edges are really jerky and not smooth at all. I just may have to order some papers instead. In the meantime, I will cut some of my scrappy bits of fabric to size and set them aside until I am ready to use them. The clam shell I tested was 2" finished but I think I will make 3" finished instead so that I will use up more of my 3.5" strips. I don't use that size of block very often and my bin is overflowing!

I also want to make another hexagon quilt and I have started cutting some hexies out of brown scraps this month. I have a small template that I can use to draw my cutting line and sewing line so I will just hand stitch the hexagons together once I decide on a pattern. I did the same thing when I made this quilt for my Mother except I used a home made template for that one.

The clam shells and the hexagons really are long-term projects so I still need to think about a few other types of blocks that I can make while participating in the challenge. Even though I like to hand piece and hand quilt I do still have the need for speed too!

Hop on over to soscrappy's and check out the links for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge!

Friday, November 15, 2013

A New Baby Quilt

I need to make two new baby quilts pronto! There will be two new babies born in our family in February and there is a baby shower for one of them on December 1. My sister Cheryl and my sister Sandra are both going to be first-time grannies. We know that Sandra's grandchild will be a boy but Cheryl's grandchild is being quite modest and is keeping it a secret. At this point, I am not too sure which baby will get which quilt so I need to get them both finished as quickly as possible.

I have started making the first quilt and I don't think it will take me too long to finish it. It is so pretty and bright - perfect for a new baby. I am using some fabric that I have had in my stash for a very long time and I say it is about time! The top fabric with the large print is going to be for the backing.

I decided to make the quilt using the Disappearing Four Patch pattern and there are many tutorials available on the web.

I started out with four 5" squares that I joined together as a 4 patch.

sections cut
I cut the center sections at 1.5" from both sides of the center. It is much easier if you are able to turn your cutting mat as you make the cuts. Once you do the cutting you need to reverse the 4 rectangular sections so that you end up with a checkerboard effect. My blocks will finish at 8".

rectangular sections reversed
This is the first time that I have made this pattern and I think it is going to make a delightful baby quilt.
2 sample blocks

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rainbow Quilt - Oh the Possibilities!

I really want to thank all of my readers that gave me such great suggestions for the layout problem I was having with my rainbow quilt. I really was about ready to just give up and turn it into two smaller donation quilts and be done with it. Thankfully, I received so many wonderful and creative ideas to finish my Rainbow Quilt top that would transform this awkward looking flimsy into a piece of beauty.

One of the things that I didn't see was an opportunity to make a quilt that I could really practice on to learn some techniques with my long arm machine. Previously, when I have made a quilt I always avoided large plain blocks and borders, particularly plain white ones, because I just didn't pay attention to the possibility of filling the spaces with quilting designs.

I have decided to go with the suggestion that I received from Audrey of Quilty Folk. Her suggestion was to remove one row of blocks and turn them into cornerstones with a white border to fit. I have removed one row of blocks and have started to remove the narrow outer border that encapsulated the blocks and sashing. I will be spending some time today with my seam ripper but I think it will be time well spent. I don't know how my quilting will look in those large empty border spaces, other than I am certain that it will look like a beginner did it, and that is okay because we all have to start at the beginning! It is such a pretty quilt and I know I will love it when I get it finished.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Little Flimsy for the Guild

I picked up a package of fabric from the Outreach table at the last guild meeting and this is what I made with it. I think the top turned out quite cute and it was so simple to make. The pattern is a Disappearing Nine Patch and the package I received contained enough 5" blocks to make this top plus the backing, binding and batting. I have never made this pattern before and it really is quite simple to do. I didn't time myself but it only took a couple hours to make it so it hasn't been a huge time commitment so far.

I still need to quilt it and bind it which will take a bit more time. I don't know if I will get it all finished before the next meeting but I would think it should definitely be finished for the one after.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Starburst QAL - Block Two

I finished making this second set of blocks on Friday but waited to post about them so that I could link up with Little Bunny Quilts. So far, all of the blocks I have made have been a bit time consuming but I think there are two reasons for that. Firstly, I am making four blocks at a time instead of just one or two, and secondly, I am just not so good with paper-piecing. The difficulty I have is with cutting my fabric pieces and then having them align to fit the reverse of the pattern.Why do I have so much trouble with that? To solve the problem I do cut the fabric pieces larger than I probably need to. In the end I think it is all worth it though because look how gorgeous my blocks are - I totally love them all.

It is not too late to join in - pop on over to Little Bunny Quilts - the paper-piecing patterns for the QAL are free.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Out of the Hoop!

Yesterday was Slow Stitching Sunday over at Kathy's Quilts but I didn't have anything ready to post. I did do some slow stitching but it wasn't until later last night while watching the Walking Dead. Honestly, that is the only show that I actually make time to watch and I can't wait for it each week.

I still need to remove the marked quilting lines.
When I was quilting I broke my needle and I had only one replacement needle left. I seem to like to use the #8 Gold Eye Betweens from Dritz. I threaded up the new needle and immediately bent it - what???!!! I went searching in my stash and found some #9s and started using those. They are a smaller, finer needle and seem to be a lot sharper because I have pricked myself more in the last quilting session than I have in a long time.
All that is left on the spool!

I didn't quite finish as much quilting as I had hoped to, so this morning I planted myself back on the couch and finished up while watching Days of Remembrance on the History Channel. Don't forget to take a few minutes of quiet reflection at 11:00 am to remember and honour the sacrifice of so many young people so we can have our freedom.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rainbow Blocks

The quilt is oriented on it's side in this photo.
I worked on sewing these blocks into a flimsy on Saturday and I don't think I knew what I was doing. I don't really have much space to lay out my blocks in my sewing room so I just started sewing them together in what I thought was a pleasing layout. When I was finished, I took it to my dining room table to press it all out and add the outer border and yuck...I don't like the layout. The length is okay but it is just way too narrow and does not look balanced.

I am not sure what to do to correct it. It would make a beautiful full sized quilt if I can figure out a suitable way to make it wider without making it look like an add-on. It is currently approx 58" x 86" and I just don't like those proportions. I don't really want to make more blocks so I wonder if a strip of colour down each side either in a straight line or as a zig zag would work? The other option may be just to divide it into two equal sections, adjust the outer border and turn it into two smaller donation quilts. Any suggestions would be truly appreciated!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Scrap Happy Saturday

This week I made some tiny churn dash blocks from the scraps I had left from last week. Not very exciting but they really are cute and they will be going into a quilt for one of my nephews. You can't really tell by the photo but they will finish at 3".

I also have another quilt planned that I need 2" x 3.5" rectangles. I had taken out a lot of brown rectangles from my bin when I made my Linked (crossroad block) quilt. It used up a ton of the brown rectangles so I pulled out some brown strips from my 3.5" strip bins and started cutting them to size. I had automatically pulled out my 2" strips because I do use that size fairly often but then after I thought about it I realized that I should use the 3.5" instead. The 3.5" strip bin is quite full and overflowing because I just do not use that size as often. I will be needing a lot more rectangles of all colours for the quilt, so over the next while I will be cutting as many scraps as possible into rectangles.
bin containing small rectangles
I will need a lot of neutral rectangles for the planned quilt so I have started cutting some of them from the strips as well. I will stop cutting the neutrals at this point because I know that I will also be needing neutrals for the Bonnie Hunter mystery and I want to have lots of variety for that.

I am linking up with soscrappy's Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Starburst QAL - Block One

Yesterday, I worked on some of my Starburst QAL blocks. I have opted to make 4 of each block because I want to make a bed sized quilt instead of a small quilt. If I need even more blocks I will just decide later which ones I will add to. I think my blocks turned out pretty good even though I didn't pay close attention to the instructions - duh. Each star block uses four different fabrics plus the background and I didn't pay attention to that until I cut the pieces for the final block.

The second block was released on Monday and hopefully I will get to it right away. It is not too late to join in - the paper piecing patterns have been offered for free and I think the blocks are really gorgeous.

I am linking up at Little Bunny Quilts - pop on by to check out the other links and see more gorgeous blocks.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mini Retreat - Day 3

Yesterday was an interesting day and it started out quite well. Cheryl and I worked on preparing some of the backings for my flimsy's in waiting and also made some fabric choices for other projects. We also went shopping and bought some fabric and some hand quilting thread.

Our chef decided enough was enough so we made dinner for everyone and we decided to make Paneer Butter Masala (we loosely used this recipe and made some adjustments like using coconut milk and other substitutions). It is a very mild and delicious curry and we served it with basmati rice and curried potatoes with peas. We even had some lemon pudding...errr....pie.

My husband had purchased a pie and on the way home he had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting another vehicle that cut him off. It really was quite funny when my son Adam stated that he had a dollop of pie instead of a slice - hee hee. Even with the pie disaster, dinner turned out quite well despite the train wreck we had with this......

Once the wine was opened the retreat was definitely over. This morning I will be driving my sister home to Toronto. We had such a fun time!