Thursday, August 28, 2014

Scrap Organization Underway!

Flimsy waiting for borders
Even though I really want to work on adding the borders to my little houses quilt top I have been diligently sorting through my scraps instead. It is TEDIOUS work but I know that it will be worth it in the end. I was feeling quite frustrated as I was sewing the little houses top into a flimsy because I just did not have enough clear space in my sewing area. I want to be able to properly sew on my borders without all kinds of 'stuff' getting pushed off the table top and onto the floor.'s not just the surfaces of the tables that are stacked with excess stuff. Enough is enough!!

Previously, I had started the process of sorting strings and crumbs by colour and I found that it was just way too much work and it took way too many containers. I just don't have the ability to store so many individual scrap bins so I gave up. This time I have taken the step of just using 3 large laundry baskets to contain my light, medium and dark toned strings. Of course, there is lots of overlap within each bin because sometimes I consider one piece of fabric as part of one category and other times I think it belongs in another. ;)) So far, I have one very large bin and one very large bag of crumbs as well. I am not sorting those by colour or value at all. I want a very simple system that I can keep up without too much effort.

Something that is really helping me with cutting down the larger scraps is my Accuquilt Go die cutter that my husband recently gave me as a gift. I don't have a lot of dies...yet...but I have been putting the ones I have to good use. I am pretty sure that if I sewed all of these pieces together that I would have enough scraps cut to make at least one quilt!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Guild Cuddle Quilts are Finished

Today is a very dull, dreary day with intermittent rain showers. A perfect day to stay indoors and finish hand sewing the last bit of binding on these quilts.

These quilts aren't very big - approximately 39" x 49" - but they will make wonderful cuddle quilts for children in need. They came to me as completed flimsies and the blocks were pieced by other members of the guild. They are basically made up from various scrappy strips of fabric that were string pieced onto a fairly thin foundation fabric. They really were perfect for me to practice my free hand quilting on and they both got flowers and loops.

My photos are not that great but trust me....they did turn out pretty cute!

Resting after the trip to the vet.
On a side note - earlier this week I had taken my dogs out to have their nails trimmed. We just arrived home and we were going up the steps to the front door when I tripped on the leash and my foot landed very, very hard on poor Peanut's front right paw. She is so tiny and weighs less than 10 lbs. and I immediately knew that it was not going to be good. I immediately started using a bag of frozen corn to cool her leg/foot and made arrangements to see the vet. Her leg seemed to be okay but the vet suspected broken toe(s) and/or bruising. I didn't have x-rays taken (she didn't recommend them) because she said even if it was broken they wouldn't splint it anyway. Peanut is still in a lot of pain if she tries to use her paw and she is hopping around the house and yard on three legs. There has been some slight improvement in that I have noticed that she has started to occasionally put her paw down to balance herself but she does not put any weight on it all. If she accidentally does she cries out in pain. Even though it was an accident I feel terrible that this happened and all I can do is hope that she will have a quick and full recovery. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Loving My Little Houses

some sections that are ready to be joined
I am so enjoying working on this quilt...why oh why did I let it languish for so long??!! Yesterday afternoon I did go into my sewing studio and I spent way more time in there than I had intended. I just could not seem to pull myself away from these blocks. I even got up early this morning to continue joining the blocks together and now I don't have too much more to go. My photo shows nearly half of the sections that I have joined. I do like to join blocks together in squares or rectangles rather than sewing all long rows.

ooops...need to unsew some sashings
These blocks came about because of the blog Building Houses from Scraps. If I recall correctly, these houses were intended to be hand-pieced and finish at 4" and the pattern was offered free for a limited time. I wasn't ready to commit to hand piecing or a 4" house block so I redrafted the pattern so that the block would finish at 6" and I machine pieced them on my Singer 301a. Even with the pattern changes it did still take a fair amount of time to make the blocks. I made templates for the pieces and got a lot of practice with sewing that funky seam that joins the outer section of sky to the chimney and roof. I could have made that sky piece in two sections but I would have missed out on that challenge and the opportunity to learn and practice different techniques.

If I keep up the pace I am working at it won't be long before I have a quilt to snuggle under!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Little Houses

Not much to see but there is progress!
I am still working away on my little houses quilt blocks. I have added the sashing and cornerstones to almost all of the blocks but I have left a few untouched because I am not going to add cornerstones to the outer sashing. I will be able to just sew on long strips like a border and it will be complete.

Sashing strips will be added later depending on block placement.
When I start joining the blocks together I think they will end up being placed side by side in a rather willy-nilly fashion. My design wall is way too small to hold all of the blocks and it is quite the challenge to lay them out on the floor. The only floor space I have available is on the main floor and my sewing studio is on the second floor so I am not usually successful at keeping them in the correct order when I sew them together. Somehow I always manage to get them mixed up so I will just try to avoid all of that angst altogether.

I don't have any real design plans for this quilt - it is basically make my decisions as I come to them. I have been thinking about different border ideas but I don't have anything planned. It will definitely be a trial and error process.

I just may be able to squeeze some more time in my sewing studio this afternoon. I am really looking forward to working on the next phase of this soon-to-be quilt!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Finish

Over the past few days I have been spending time working on hand stitching the binding onto the back of this quilt and I finally finished it very early this morning.

Molly inspecting the back
I had spent yesterday in Toronto running errands with and for my Mother and by the time I got home I was beat. I ended up going to bed at 9 pm but then for some reason I was wide awake at 1 am. I stayed in bed until 2 but sleep was elusive so I got up and worked on this quilt. At 4:45 am I tucked in the last loose quilting thread tail.

I love the way this quilt turned out - I love everything about it...except the reason I made it. I have decided to call it 'A Warm Hug' and I hope that every time Carol uses it that she will feel the warm hug that has been stitched into it.

This quilt finished at 58" x 66" and was quilted using a pantograph called Double Plume. Something that I must keep in mind is that the size of the finished quilt really is affected by quilting. When I loaded the flimsy on the frame it was actually 60" x 69". Of course, the difference in size does depend on how dense the quilting is. Even though it did shrink a fair bit I think it is still the perfect size for a cuddle quilt.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Home Is Where The Heart Is...

sashing added
and my heart is definitely in these houses. I am loving how this is coming together!! I started making these houses so long ago and then I set them aside because I couldn't decide which fabric to use for my cornerstones. Indecision can be my enemy but I think I have nailed it with the fabric I chose - a darker blue with tiny white dots - but of course, that is just my humble opinion. ;))

When I pulled out the basket of houses to work on them I literally had to blow the dust off the top layer of blocks. These blocks will gather dust no more....I am zooming through adding the sashing! Apparently I made 120 or so of these blocks and they finish at 6". They are made from all sorts of scraps and I think they are so funky and fun looking. I can't wait to turn them all into a quilt for me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Making it Happen

This morning I made the binding and attached it to the front of the three latest quilts that have just come off the long arm - 2 Guild cuddle quilts and the quilt for Carol. This takes me one step closer to three finished quilts -yippee! I hope to get the binding hand stitched to the back on all of these quilts over the next week or so and I am starting with Carol's quilt.

Photo of the final 11 blocks
Now that I have got all of the machine work done for those three quilts it is time to pick another quilt to get to the finish line. I have decided that I will continue where I left off with my Little Houses quilt. It has been ages since I have worked on it. Look at the date in the photo - yikes. This is one that will be very scrap happy when it is finished. I put it away at the stage where I needed to add the sashing. I decided that I would use a solid red and I have already got it cut into strips but it still needs to be sub cut to fit the blocks. I am going to use cornerstones so I also need to cut those as well. Once I do that I will have everything ready to go. I really like it when I have everything prepared ahead of time and then I can just get lost in 'the zone'.

My goal is to get my sewing studio under control and getting quilts done and I am making it happen!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

More Practice

I loaded the second Guild cuddle quilt on the frame this morning and got right to it. This quilt has green sashing and the backing is mostly green so I chose a pretty green thread. I think the colour of the thread looks quite good on all of the fabrics.

I still need a lot of practice with my free form flowers so I did the same quilting pattern as yesterday - flower and loop combo. I think I did do a better job at getting the flower petals to meet 'sort of' in the middle but I still have issues of overshooting my stopping point. Overall, I think I did do a better job than yesterday and that is certainly a step in the right direction.

I know that whoever does receive these quilts won't really be trying to find fault with the quilting. These quilts go to people in need and I am glad that I am able to help in some small way.

I still need lots and lots of practice but the way my sewing studio is currently set up I do not have easy access to the long arm if I am using my sewing machine and vice versa.

I have been waiting very in years....for my husband to finish the basement reno. That would allow us both to have more space for our hobbies, etc. Unfortunately for him he will be having shoulder surgery in a few months and the basement needs to be finished before then. If not, we will probably have to add another year to the estimated finish date and that would be a very, very unhappy thing!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Practice Quilting

Guild cuddle quilt top for quilting
At the last meeting for the season of the York Guild I picked up a couple tops from the Outreach table that needed quilting. They provided just about everything - the flimsy, the backing and the binding. All I needed to provide was thread, batting and quilting time.

I am very happy to make a contribution of time to the guild and I don't mind doing it by making and/or quilting some of the charity quilts. I do gain benefit of my own because I get to practice my free-motion quilting and boy-oh-boy do I ever need practice!!!

not so pretty
I still need lots of practice with my free hand flowers so I loaded one of the tops onto the frame this morning. The backing is pink and white so I decided to use pink thread and I think it works. I did a combination of loops and flowers but it is too bad that my flowers didn't turn out as nice as I would have liked.
these flowers turned out 'okay'
Sometimes I feel destined that my free-motion skills will never be good and that is discouraging but I will keep trying. Overall, the top looks okay but if you actually look at the flowers you will see that some are really bad and others are just okay. At this point, if I can even get my free-motion skills to the adequate level I will be happy!

I will load the second quilt onto the frame today or tomorrow so that I can do some more practicing - I need it!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Magic of Quilting

Whenever I finish the quilting process I am always amazed at the transformation that takes place. A simple flimsy made up of a patchwork of fabric all of a sudden becomes something special - a quilt.

closer look at the quilting on the front

I am so happy with the quilting design that I used for this cuddle quilt. It is called Double Plume and the end result is wonderful. I love the look of this quilt so much that I took more than a few pics while it was still hanging over the long arm :).

When I finished sewing the flimsy together it was approx 60" x 69" but with the process of quilting I am pretty sure it has shrunk. This quilting design is a bit dense and it has such wonderful texture. I still need to trim the quilt and then I will take some new measurements so that I can get going on the binding. 

At this point I plan to to use the darker solid blue for the binding - it is the same blue that I used for the triangle points. I just need to get it prepped and attached by machine and then I can relax and admire the quilt while I hand stitch the binding to the back.
closer look at the quilting on the back

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Slow Sunday Stitching

I haven't shown my current Seven Sisters quilt for quite some time. Maybe that is because I had not been making any real progress. You do know that the secret to finish hand quilting a quilt is to actually work on it!! ;))

closer look at the Baptist Fan quilting

Over the past week or two or three I have been doing just that...I have been working on it nearly every day. Sometimes I only get a couple arcs of one fan done but other times I may get a few full fans completed. Those are definitely the best days!

I am happy to report that now that I am more than half way done that I have put in at least a bazillion stitches and now I have less than half a bazillion to go!

This series of seven Seven Sisters quilts that I am making for me and my six sisters really is a labour of love. I don't really expect to speed through them and have them all done likkety-split but I do seem to be spending way too much time thinking about them than working on them!!!

stitching on the back
Pop on over to Kathy's Quilts and check out the links to see other Slow Sunday Stitching projects.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

It is Coming Together

I finished putting the flimsy together for Carol's cuddle quilt. I honestly couldn't be happier with the way it has come together. The only thing that would make it better would be to quilt it and I definitely 'think' I have that under control.

I made the backing yesterday and I loaded it on the frame this morning. I have been trying to overcome tension issues with each quilt that I put on the frame and sometimes I am successful and other times - not so much! I am happier with the quality of the stitching although I still need to work on it. Before I loaded this quilt I made a small fabric and batting sandwich and put it on the frame and used two different colours of thread in the bobbin and the top. When I did a bit of practice stitching it really did show how out of whack my settings were.

I am moving right along and am nearing the half way point with the quilting. I would love to have it done today so that it is ready and waiting for me when I have the time available to work on the binding over the next few days.