Friday, January 31, 2014

Round Robin Quilt

In early January, my sister Cheryl and I decided that it would be fun if we did a bit of a Round Robin with each other. We have decided on the rules and they are very simple. We have until mid February to give each other the center block for our quilts and from then on we have one month to add the next border and then swap. We are not allowed to give any sneak peaks or suggestions. All rules are subject to flexibility based on daily life challenges. Of course, we always have had free access to each other's stash and I don't think that should change either. ;-) There may have been another rule or two that we agreed on but I can't remember - not that it really matters!

This block is called Star Gardener and I found it in my Farmer's Wife book. My block is based on 2.5" unfinished pieces and it will sort of finish at 12". I was in a hurry to put it together and I probably wasn't as accurate as I could have been. :) The block is somewhat low contrast but I think it looks really good. I am going to Toronto this morning so I will be delivering my block today.

Last year, during the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I made quite a few basket blocks and I thought I would use them for the center of my Round Robin quilt and I sewed a few together into a block. In my quest to clear out my sewing room and get quilts made it would have helped to move this one out but at the last minute I changed my mind. I already have an idea percolating around that will use my collection of basket blocks so I am a little hesitant to use them for this quilt.
Original block but I changed my mind!
I think it will be a lot of fun and there is no pressure at all to make a 'beautiful' quilt but if they both turn out to be beautiful then that will be a happy bonus. Of course, we are not setting out to make ugly quilts but to have a bit of fun playing around and to challenge each other too.

Only time will tell where my quilt will go from here...I am looking forward to having a lot of fun and making memories with our Round Robin.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tranquility is a Flimsy....Again!

I have been making this beautiful quilt for my niece Amanda and I think it is just about good to go. At least I am ready to move on with it and get it quilted and finished. It is so big that I really couldn't find a place to take a picture of the whole thing so just a partial will have to do.

My sister Glenda took this flimsy with her when she went to visit her daughter in Winnipeg several months ago so they could look for backing fabric. Well, they didn't find any suitable fabric for the backing and the flimsy came back with a request to make it one block wider. Apparently that would make it fit her bed perfectly. So...I obliged and added one more row to the width and then set it aside to await the perfect backing fabric.

I now have the backing fabric in my possession, actually in the washing machine as I write this, and all is good except that when I spoke with Glenda recently, I realized that it was probably better for me to add another 2 rows because it will shrink with quilting and then it might end up being too narrow. So, yesterday, I added another 2 rows. I don't think you can tell that I made the additions of the extra rows other than it is huge - around 91" x 96". I just hope that it is not too big now!

I had so many extra QSTs available that were left over from making the original quilt top that I didn't have to cut any and that made me happy!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Basting and Marking

Yesterday, I worked on basting my blue Seven Sisters quilt and it was quite a process. I loaded it on the frame and had everything set and ready to baste but my long arm just didn't like doing it. I had the stitch set to the longest stitch and I thought I would just be able to whiz around the quilt using manual mode. It would have worked great but the machine just did not want to go fast and kept stalling. Every time it stalled I had to turn if off, raise the needle manually, turn it back on and then continue. I also broke a needle trying to make things speed up so instead of fighting it I just plodded along and finally got it done.

I want to quilt it with Baptist Fans so I pulled out my template and my Frixion pens and I have started the process of marking. I have it spread out on my dining room table and I will be marking it over the next few days as time allows. I do plan to have it all ready for me to start quilting it on the weekend - fingers crossed!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Civil War Block of the Month

I have joined in with many others participating in Barbara Brackman's latest block of the month - Threads of Memory. She will be writing about the Underground Railroad and I look forward to reading her posts each month and making the corresponding blocks. This month's block is called Portsmouth Star and is named for Ona Judge Staines and you can read all about it here.

Quite some time ago, I ordered some civil war scrap bags from here and I had not used any of them until now. I think this just may be the right project for them. Most of the scraps are small but usable sizes so I will have to supplement them with other pieces from my stash but I think they should work out just fine. In this case, the outer dark blue fabric did come from my stash. I had a different fabric picked out from the grab bags but there wasn't quite enough of it. I think the blue I chose makes my star look like it is shining brightly from a night sky.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hi Ho...Hi Ho....

It's on and off the frame we go! I got all of the quilt parts for my Boy's Britches quilt loaded onto the frame on Friday night and then I wasn't sure how I wanted to quilt it. Did I want to do a pantograph or free-hand? Did I want to try something new or use a design that I am well practiced with? Decisions, decisions. I am pretty sure I could have left it sitting on the frame for days while I went back and forth trying to decide what to do but that was not going to happen.

No more dithering for me! Very early on Saturday morning I took the bull by the horns so to speak and made a decision to do a free hand loopy- loop design and I love it. I knew I wanted the quilting to be fun and free just like the quilt top and I love how it looks. I really do love quilting that design and it always looks so good. It makes me happy just looking at it!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Almost a Flimsy

My husband said something that made me laugh this morning and that is always a good way to start your day. I wanted to take a photo of my progress on this quilt top and I needed to lay it on the floor to take the photo. I had to vacuum first because my floors were a mess and I didn't want to dirty my quilt. When I picked up the vacuum hose (we have central vac) my husband asked me if I was all right. I just burst out laughing....I guess you had to be there :-).

I have been working on my blue Seven Sisters quilt top and I just have one more border to add and then it will be a finished flimsy. I think the floral fabric I am using for the borders gives this quilt a real old-fashioned look and I think I like that. I bought the border fabric so long ago that I can't really remember when. There was no print on the selvages at all so there was no hint at a date or fabric manufacturer.

My plan for today is to finish sewing the last border on and then to prep and sew the backing together. I am going to try to baste this on my long arm but I am not too sure how that will work out. Any tips for basting using an older model Millie would be very much appreciated.

I am linking up at Kathy's Quilts - Slow Sunday Stitching. Pop on over to get some inspiration from other slow stitchers.

By the way - Molly decided she needed to hold down the corner of the quilt so that it wouldn't get away and she wants to know - Is my butt too big?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Scraphappy Saturday

Another Saturday has rolled around again and it got here so fast I think we must have skipped a few days in between. :-)

I have been puttering away all week on different projects so I can clear out the old and bring in the new. You know that translates into 'I didn't spend very much time with my scraps this week'. Happily I did get three more of the sampler blocks done and I think I am all caught up....for now. Angela is certainly keeping us on out toes because you just never know when she will post the next one. You can find all of the blocks that have been released for the Rainbow Sampler here. I am having a lot of fun making these little blocks and I know they are going to turn into a wonderful quilt.

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

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Pretty Flimsy

Not the best photo but it will have to do!
I feel so good that I have finally got this top to the flimsy stage. Early yesterday I worked on making the rest of the checkerboard bits for the outer border. Once I had what I thought would be enough I sewed them into strips and then set them aside...and then I procrastinated.

Very often, when I think something is going to be hard to do I will just avoid doing it until I have no choice but to face the music. I wanted to include a narrow border but it just seemed to be an insurmountable task to figure out what size I needed it to be cut so that the checkerboard border would fit well. Sometimes when adding a pieced border you do need to compensate for any size differences and to make everything fit together. I really is just silly to make such a mountain out of a molehill. When I finally got down to the nuts and bolts of it I felt really quite ridiculous about procrastinating because it was no problem at all. A one inch border all the way around fit perfectly - no fancy math or calculations required and the checkerboard looks great.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Boy's Britches is Back

The last time I posted about this quilt was in early December and I really have not had the opportunity to work on it since then. I have several quilt projects on the go that really are so close to being finished and it is time to move forward and get them done.

I have a plan for the borders that I am fairly confident will work for me and yesterday I picked up where I had left off.

I now have enough of the checkerboard pieces made to use for the two side borders. One of those borders is already pieced into a long strip and the other is still in sections. I still need to cut and sew enough pieces to make the top and bottom border and I will continue with that today.

I think this quilt is going to be so pretty and I can't wait to get the top finished and turned into a quilt - and out of my sewing room!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

More Quilting Practice

I quilted the second quilt for my sister and I think it turned out so darn cute. First off, the quilt is so adorable to begin with. My sister made each individual block so that they looked like bugs - the square of bug fabric is the body and the solids at the sides are the legs - perfect for a little boy.

I was a little stumped on which quilting design to use and I was just going to do my standard loopy-loop but then I got an idea. I was thinking about snails or something similar to that and it led to doing a swirly vine design. I thought it could potentially look like bug antenna or something like that. Again, this is the first time that I have done this free-motion quilting design and I really do need to practice it a little more. It certainly does look like a beginner did it and I am okay with that - we all have to start at the beginning. I think many of the inconsistencies will not be quite so noticeable once the quilt is washed and is nice and crinkly.

I think my sister Cheryl is going to really love this one too!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Quilting Practice

A little while ago my sister Cheryl came to my place for a little sewing retreat and initially we did get quite a bit accomplished but there really is never enough time. There were two children's quilts that she had made and had brought with her for me to quilt but I wasn't able to get them done before she had to go home. I am now finally getting around to doing the quilting on them. It actually works out perfectly for me because one of my goals this year is to learn more free-motion quilting designs and now I get to do some practice quilting on them.

This little flower design is a new one for me. I had been practicing it on my whiteboard and it is a lot easier to execute with the marker than it is with the machine. I need to regulate my speed on the machine - too fast or too slow and I get out of control. I also see that I need to focus some practice time on accuracy...some of my flowers are pretty ugly because I missed the centers. All in all I am pretty happy with the way the quilting turned out on this quilt - I was really nervous that I might really mess things up and ruin her quilt but I think she will be quite happy with it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Finish

Fun in the Jungle is completely finished and I think completely cute! I hand sewed most of the binding to the back of the quilt yesterday but I needed to finish up the last bit this morning. I used an animal print that I have had in my stash for a long time for the binding. As a matter of fact, all of the fabric for this quilt came from my stash and that makes me very happy (my husband too).

I quilted it with a neutral thread in a large free-hand feather design that I had been practicing on my white board. I had really meant to make the design a bit smaller in scale but it seemed I had no control over the size once I put thread to quilt. I think it worked out pretty well especially because this was my first attempt - I know I will use this quilting design again and again.

The blocks in the quilt are a bit of an odd size because I used a 4" (3.5" finished) center square so each block actually finished at 10.5". I did that because I fussy cut the centers to feature the animals in the fabric. The quilt finished at approx 39" x 50".

I have added the label but have not filled out any information. I am hoping to wait until the baby is born so that I can personalize the label with his name.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fun in the Jungle

Today I am happy about two things in particular. The first thing is that I have finished adding the borders to the baby quilt I was working on and have also finished the quilting - yippee! The second thing is that I have finally come up with a name for this quilt that is for my soon-to-be great nephew..other than just calling it 'the baby quilt'.

I will show more pictures of this quilt when it is finished but I do want to give a little peak at the quilting I did on it. I did a free hand feathery type thing and I think it turned out pretty good.

This morning, I need to give the quilt a good trimming and then I will machine stitch the binding to the front. Later today I will be spending lots of time admiring it while I hand stitch the binding to the back.

I am linking up at Kathy's Quilts Slow Sunday Stitching.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I Thought Today Was Friday #%@

I seemed to have lost a day - yesterday I kept thinking it was Thursday and that today was Friday. It wasn't until late in the day my husband let me know that we were expecting snow for today and that I might want to reconsider my planned trip to Toronto. What....that was planned for Saturday....thinking ....thinking.

I had planned on making my Rainbow Sampler blocks today but instead I worked on them last night and got them all done. I only needed to make 3 for the sampler and they didn't take too long and I think they turned out pretty well. It was really bugging me that the blocks I made last week were really low contrast so I did dig around for the light blues. I think I like them much better! The other blocks I had planned to make will wait for another day.

We did get snow overnight and it is snowing now but we are expecting only 1-3 cm over the next 24 hr period. I won't be in too much of a rush to leave home and maybe the traffic on the main roads will keep the roads clear.

I am linking up with soscrappy's ScrapHappy Saturday. Pop on over and check out the links of the other participants in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Angela from soscrappy recently showed her midget block quilt on her blog. She decided to do some custom quilting on it and she also included some ruler work. It looks just fabulous and she has inspired me to get going and to try to do some custom quilting too.

I have been holding onto this quilt top that I made for my husband waiting for the day when I will know how to do custom ruler work. Well, let me tell you that ain't gonna happen because I actually have to do it to learn. So, I have decided that I am just going to go for it.

When I bought my machine I knew there was an extender base included and I remembered there were some heart templates because one was broken. I pulled out the box and when I looked in I found all of these rulers plus an Applique Helper ruler. I didn't know what those small round pieces were but after some on-line research I discovered that they belong to a vertical thread holder that was also included in the box.

I have a couple small quilts that need to go on the frame first and then I will be jumping in with both feet on my husband's quilt. In the meantime, I will be gathering my courage!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Love It!

I got the blocks sewn together and I love it! It so surprising to me that a minor change to a simple star block can make such a huge difference in the overall look of the top. I just love the secondary design that those little corner strips make. I like it so much that I may need to make a full sized quilt using this block design. I think it would be really fun to explore different colour placement too - like changing up the colour in the hst blocks that look like satellites around the center square.

When I sewed the blocks together I did have a few minor mismatches but I don't need perfection...I am very happy with the way it looks. I had hoped to put the borders on yesterday as well but my eldest son has come home for a visit so I have been spending time with him instead of in my sewing room - I do have my priorities :).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Baby Quilt - Making Blocks

I love how these blocks look! I have made 6 of the 12 blocks so far and I am so happy with the results. I love the way the blue strips in the corner blocks make a secondary design.

I was a little concerned about how I was going to make those blue strips align correctly so I decided to paper piece those corner blocks. I haven't actually joined any of the blocks together yet but I think they should all align in nice and straight lines.

When I was choosing the fabrics for this quilt I knew there was a possibility that I might not have enough of the yellow fabric. I really wanted to use that particular fabric because it has little orange paw prints on it and I thought it really suited the quilt. I have finished making all of the block components and I ended up with a very small amount of the yellow fabric left. Just a couple triangles, a few scrappy bits and one string piece from the edge that is just about 2" wide. I was quite prepared to piece bits of scraps together if I needed to but happily I didn't!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Oh No....

Look at what I did - when I joined the blocks together I sewed two sashed edges together!  :(

I was feeling really good about my plan to make my Seven Sisters quilts a top priority and I started working on joining my blocks together first thing yesterday morning and grrrrr. I was so happy that I had made a plan and was implementing it right away .... and then I was not very happy with myself at all. I know we all make mistakes but I had to pick out all of that hand stitching and redo it.

This looks much better now! There are twelve blocks in the quilt and I will work on sewing the second half of the quilt top together over the next day or two.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Baby Quilt Block Design

I have decided on the block that I will be using for this new baby quilt and it is called Old Snowflake. I was poking around in EQ7 and Block Base for ideas and this block looked just perfect.

I tried a couple fabric options and have decided on the darker green surrounding the center block and blue as the accent strips through the corner blocks.

I am only using fabrics from my stash and I know I am really cutting it close with the yellow fabric. I hope there is enough because I really want to to use this specific fabric -  it has little pale orange paw prints all over it - so cute!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Blue Seven Sisters Quilt - Sashing

I really couldn't get a very good photo of the progress I have made on this quilt. The lighting is so poor, we are getting snow this morning, and as fast as I lay the blocks down the dogs think it is a game just for them.  I threw a toy for them to chase and quickly got the blocks down and the photo snapped!

I had hoped to already have all of the sashing sewn onto the blocks for this quilt but I didn't quite get it all done. I need to mark and cut three more sashing strips and stitch them onto the last blocks this morning. My plan for this evening is to spend a bit of time working on sewing the blocks together.

Over the past few days I have been thinking about these quilts that I am making - a series of seven, seven sisters quilts for my sister's and I. It really is a very long term project because I am hand-piecing and hand quilting each one. I have completed two already but I am feeling the pull to get them done quicker - we ain't gettin' any younger and the years are just flying by. I have been so tempted lately to join in other wonderful quilting projects like the Benjamin Biggs quilt and others but I have decided that I need to focus all of my hand work time on these quilts - they are very important to me and to my sisters.

I am linking up with Kathy's Quilts - Slow Sunday Stitching.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

ScrapHappy Saturday

I have made some of the blocks that Angela of soscrappy has posted for the Rainbow Sampler. As you can see from my blocks, I am having a bit of trouble with contrast within my fabrics. I have been using fabrics exclusively from my strip bins and I think I need to dig a bit deeper into the bins to find some lighter blues!

Pop on over to soscrappy's and check out the links from other participants in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. You just might be inspired to use up some of those pesky scraps!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Baby Quilt

main fabric
Way back in November I talked about needing to make two baby quilts for new twigs that would be added to our family tree. Both babies are due in February and there was a baby shower for one of them in early December.

backing fabric

I was feeling a bit panicked at the time because I had chosen the fabric for both baby quilts but I wasn't sure which quilt would be for which baby. I was feeling the pressure to make both quilts - quickly. Thankfully, my indecision lifted and I was finally able to get on with making one quilt in time for the shower.
fussy cut from main fabric

Time has flown by and now I really do need to get on with making the second baby quilt. We do know that this little bundle of joy will be a boy and I think the fabric I have chosen will be perfect. My first thought was that I would make churn dash blocks with a fussy cut center but I keep changing my mind. I am still fussy cutting the center for the blocks (4") but I have not yet committed to a block design. I think I will do a few test blocks and then take it from there.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Celtic Solstice Progress

It didn't take me too long to finish sewing the remaining blocks together - I only had a few left to do.

I quickly moved onto joining the blocks and now have a finished quilt center. I needed to pay close attention to the orientation of the blocks to keep my green and orange chains aligned correctly. Hopefully nothing slipped passed - I think it looks pretty good!

Now that I have the center assembled I need to take a step back and think about what I want to do. I am making the smaller version of Bonnie Hunter's design and that is fine for a double size bed but I don't really want a square quilt. I could potentially add an extra border of some sort top and bottom but I could also make another row of blocks. I am going to have to think about it for a bit before I make my decision.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Celtic Solstice - Building Blocks

As I worked on sewing the pieces of this quilt into blocks and I placed them onto my design wall something started happening. This quilt has started to grow on me and I really like the way it looks now. I guess I just needed to see the bigger picture.

When I put this block up on my design wall I happened to notice this....

Upper right 4 patch is rotated
Just a few more blocks to sew together and then I can start sewing them into a top but I really must double check to make sure all of the four patches are set in the correct orientation. It really is so easy to get things turned around and with such scrappy blocks it doesn't always jump out at you right away!