Thursday, December 29, 2016

Quiet Reflection

I had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and I hope that you did too. I am looking forward to 2017 and I have great hope that it will be a year of good health, happiness, time spent with loved ones, and a dash of good old prosperity would be nice too!

I have been spending time in my sewing room over the past couple days but I haven't stitched one stitch. I have been doing this....

and while I was toiling away I was thinking and plotting and planning.

My sewing room can be overwhelming to me because of all of the stuff that I have stuffed in there. It really would be much better if I put things away after using them. Organization is key and man I have lost the key!!! It would also help if I kept up with ironing my fabric after washing it. What would be even better is if I stopped buying fabric and then I wouldn't have to wash and iron it. ;)

I have emptied two baskets and ironed and folded most of it. Some of the fabric pieces that are more scraps in nature have been set aside for me to cut down into usable strips and pieces. I have also set aside the fabric that I need for current projects and I will cut those to the necessary sizes as well and put them into project boxes.

Look at those stacks of fabric - ironed, folded and ready to be put away - it's a beautiful thing but even better I can see the sewing machine in the background. It has been covered in 'stuff' for months but not anymore.

I really need to clear some working space so that I can achieve my January goal. There....I said it....I have a goal for January that I am hoping I will achieve. I really want to finish my Ugly Christmas Sweater quilt. I had hoped to finish it in time for Christmas but then I had to devote a lot of time trying to fix my long arm instead. I also want to finish my Westering Women quilt as well as Blue Cheese. I don't have to have them all quilted and bound but I do hope to have all three turned into quilt tops and then have all of the scraps and leftover bits dealt with right away instead of having them hanging around on all surfaces of my room!! The bigger the mess I have in my sewing room the less creative I feel.....

Saturday, December 17, 2016

It is Deja Vu all Over Again!

My husband rolling the dough - I do the stuffing...and pinching!
Today was perogi making day and the evidence was everywhere! My husband and I made 5 and half cookie baking trays full and now that we are done we are very happy! I woke up really early this morning and I couldn't go back to sleep to so I got up at 4 am and started peeling potatoes and onions in preparation. I had everything boiled, mashed and fried ready and waiting in anticipation of this very important day. Later in the morning, as we were making these lovely little dumplings my husband wanted to know why I cooked up so much potato and my pinching fingers were wondering the same thing. :0

We make perogi every Christmas and we will be serving them for Christmas Eve dinner and you know that our guests will be going home with leftovers but I also kept some fresh for our dinner tonight. I mean....who could resist!

In other not so good news my long arm is still not feeling well. It seems like I have been on the phone with APQS for weeks trying different things but I think I need some more replacement parts. I have a technician coming to see my machine on Tuesday and I am hoping he can fix it right away but he may have to take it away to do the repairs. He lives just north of me in Collingwood so there is some good news in that I won't have to send it to the states to be looked over.

Not too happy but there really isn't anything I can do about it other than fix it. The funny thing is that I have been buying rulers and other extras because I was feeling like the time was right for me to start exploring and playing with the machine more but I guess that will have to wait.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Getting Things Done

I got up at 5:30 this morning and I finished off my Little Tommy Tucker block for the Pizza Box Challenge. I was going for a 'spotlight shining on Tommy look' and I am not too sure I achieved it but it is done. Music is definitely filling the air!

It has been very busy around here....I got the parts for my long arm and they are installed. I tried to replace the hook assembly and time the machine by myself with my husband looking on to make sure I was on the right track. It didn't work though....I got it all done but when we tested it I had installed the hook assembly incorrectly. I had started off okay but somehow something moved out of position as I was trying to fasten it to the machine. Anyway, just as my husband predicted it did take twice as long for me to attempt it .....grrrrrr. It was a learning experience and now I do know how to do it myself should I ever need to.  I just have to do some testing to make sure it is all good and then everything should be running smoothly again! :)

I am off to my Guild social sew and potluck lunch today. My contribution to the pot luck is a very easy but tasty marinated vegetable salad that I made last night.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Guild Pizza Box Exchange

I am participating in a pizza box exchange with other Guild members and this month I am to work on a nursery rhyme block. I found a whole cache of cute Nursery Rhyme designs at Q is for Quilter - thank you! Of course, it is an embroidery design but I thought I could manage Little Tommy Tucker as an applique block.

I haven't got very much done and it is due on Wednesday morning....I really must knuckle down and get to work!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Tree Napkins

I had planned to make some cute Christmas napkins for us to use on Christmas Eve while we are having our before dinner snacks and drinks and I got going on them yesterday. We usually have about 10 people for Christmas Eve dinner and so far I have made 8 of these napkins.

I had seen them on display at my local Fabricland and I thought the design was just so cute. I have a good supply of this Christmas print and it is perfect for these napkins.

They are quite simple to make from two semi circles of fabric. I made a pattern and the measurements are 17" across the long edge and 9.5" tall at the highest point.

I layered my fabric prints right side together and I pinned my pattern to the fabric and then cut them to size. I was comfortable layering two sets of napkins (ie. 4 layers of fabric).

I removed the pattern and then pinned the pairs together and just stitched 1/4" all around leaving an opening on the flat side to turn them right side out. Before turning them I trimmed the seam a little closer to my stitching line.

Once trimmed I turned them right side out and carefully pressed the seam. I then topped stitched them around the outer edge so that the layers of the napkins wouldn't shift and it also closed up the turning opening. Once done I pressed them one more time and then folded them.

Just a little special touch for Christmas Eve and I think my family and guests will enjoy using them.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Long Arm Troubles

I have a quilt that was on my frame that I sooooo want to quilt and return to my customer but unfortunately I started having problems with my long arm. I had quite a bit quilted and then I had to rip it all out because there were intermittent tension/stitching problems on the back of the quilt. Of course, every time I checked the back it looked perfect until that one time..... :(  I really wish the problem had revealed it's ugly face to me sooner because I had to spend a lot of time ripping.
Test sample back before adjustments
I made the above sample as a test  to try to diagnose what was going wrong. As I said the stitching on the front is good but on the back not so good. You can see that there are good stitches and then an example of the bad is on the right side running vertically in the photo. This problem was intermittent and so frustrating!!!

After all of the ripping, I tried everything to fix the problem, clean the machine, change the needle, change the bobbin case, try different thread, adjust the encoder wheels, check the timing, check the motor brushes, check everything I could think of and test....test.....test. Then I had to call the customer with the bad news that I wouldn't have the quilt ready for the agreed upon date. I felt really bad about that.

I called APQS support and they were able to give me quite a bit of help over the phone - thank you Angie! Unfortunately it hasn't been a total cure for what ails my machine, although things are much better. I have ordered a couple parts that I am hoping will be delivered within the next week. I will watch very intently while my husband installs them. ;))

Back of test sample after adjustments

Back after adjustments - close up
If you look really close at the 'after adjustments' sample you can see that it appears that a tiny bit of the very dark upper thread is showing on the back. When I run my fingernail over it there is no texture to indicate that it is coming to the back. I think what shows is the darker thread sitting in the needle hole in the center of the quilt sandwich. This is why I don't use contrasting threads in the top and bottom when quilting - I like 'em to match!

Front after adjustments - really close up
Front after adjustments - really close up

I also want to give a shout out to Cathy at Eagles' Wings Quilts because she has been so helpful with answering all of my questions and this isn't the first time she has been there for me with helpful advice. Quilt blogging friends are the best!!!!

My Millennium and I are making friends again!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Blue Cheese Looks Delicious!

blocks on design floor
I have made some really good progress with this quilt and I love what I see so far! I have all of the blocks made but I still need to do a bit more piecing. There is a very narrow pieced border that is missing and it needs to be added to each of the outer blocks individually before they all get sewn together. I hope to get it done over the next couple days.

I was trying to not get distracted by En Provence although I was tempted. I have already pulled some 2" neutral strips from their bin and I have pulled quite a few neutrals from my fabric cupboards as well. I pressed the fabrics in anticipation of cutting them into strips of 1.5", 2", 2.5" and 3.5" but then I stopped myself because I really don't know what sizes will be needed for the mystery quilt. I have the fabrics laying over the back of a chair and I really would like to get them into the bins and out of the way but it would be my luck that other strip sizes would be needed. So, I will cut some 2" strips from them for now and then and leave the rest for later. I do hope to have all of the required 4 patches finished before the next clue is released.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Rip It....Rip It takes a lot longer to rip it than it does to quilt it! Just sayin'. :(

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Happy Times

Yesterday, my quilty sister Cheryl came over for a visit and we worked on quilting this fun child's quilt. She had brought the quilt top here quite some time ago for us to work on but we had run out of time and had set it aside. Well, it finally got its turn and it turned out adorable. She quilted it with a navy thread and the Shooting Stars panto. She couldn't wait to get it home so that she could get the binding on and have it ready to be used - big smiles all over her face!

Cheryl has been adding little bits of applique to her quilts and they just look so good. She has a stack of simple applique shapes sitting by her sewing machine and whenever she has time she just does a bit of stitching and, voila, she has more applique blocks ready and waiting for her next quilt. I think I just may have to follow her lead and make some quilts that incorporate some easy applique as well.
yellows and fuscia



While she was here we also tore through my sewing room searching for and digging out fabric for the next Bonnie Hunter mystery - En Provence. I think I have plenty of options for all of her colour selections except for the greens Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of green fabrics but she is specifically calling for grassy/avocado shades and I appear to be a bit lacking in those. I have added some iffier shades of green that I don't think are too obviously out of whack with the recommended shades and maybe they just may blend in if all of the greens are dispersed throughout the quilt. The quilt also requires plenty of neutrals and that is no problem!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Blue Cheese it is!

design wall
I have decided on a name for the quilt that I have underway - the pattern name is Better with Cheddar but I have decided to call mine Blue Cheese.

I am trying to make a point of spending an hour each day in my sewing room and I am finding that once I get in there I often spend more than an hour there and that feels really good.

I am making steady progress with my blocks and I have enough of the star blocks completed to make the quilt the same size as the pattern plus I have some extra center strips as well. I still need to make more of the alternate blocks and I have run out of most of the units that I had prepared ahead of time. I also want to make my quilt bigger so I will be making more of both blocks. This won't be problem though because I still have plenty of the fabrics that I need to use for the quilt.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Good Day!

I am trying to make some healthy changes in my life and to be more active and as part of that I have started going to Tai Chi. I went to my second class today and I must say that I really haven't a clue!

I have decided that on days that the weather is decent that I will walk - so - today I walked 1.5 miles to get there, spent 2 hours learning and then I took a longer route home that was just over 2 miles. I was beat by the time I got home but not as done in as I was on Friday. I took the 1.5 mile route both ways on Friday and there is quite a steep hill coming home and it darn near killed me to get up it. There is a cemetery adjacent to the hill and I thought that I should just go there and lie down and save everyone the trouble! ;)  I made it but, oh my, I am not ready for that hill yet. I took the longer route home this time and even though it is also uphill it has a longer and slower rise in elevation. No problem!

I puttered around for a bit and then I loaded a quilt for Joy and got it finished. It is quilted with a panto called Deb's Swirls and I used a gold thread. Joy used a flannel for the backing and it turned out great - nice and soft and snuggly. I think she is going to love it! Now that I have that done I think that I will head to my sewing room for an hour or so and work on my latest quilt. I have added a few more blocks to my design wall but I still have quite a few to go.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A New Quilt

I actually started this quilt in September when I went away on my first quilt retreat. I had a blast while on retreat but it was a lot of work to get all of my stuff ready to take with me. :) This is one of two quilts that I started while I was away.

I had seen a photo of this quilt in a Quilt Sampler Shop Hop magazine where they were featuring a Canadian shop called Quilt Junction. They had named this quilt 'Better with Cheddar' and I was immediately attracted to it and decided that it would be one of the projects that came on retreat with me. The magazine came to me as a hand-me-down and wouldn't you know of the most crucial pages was missing. Happily, I was able to figure out the fabric quantities and strip sizes, etc, that I needed to make the blocks. I cut most of the strips, squares and triangles before I left so I didn't have to do a lot of cutting while on retreat and I spent lots of time just pushing fabric through the machine. So relaxing!

You would think that with all of that sewing I would have stacks of finished blocks but I focused my sewing on making lots of assembly line sub-units instead of focusing on finishing each individual block. I just need to start putting the pieces together to build some more blocks!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Catching Up! has been so long since I posted that I actually forgot my password and had to look it up. Okay... that really is just too long! I have been working on a few quilting projects over the last couple months but I haven't made a lot of progress. I will share them over the next little bit of time but first I will share this block that I just finished working on.

I am participating in my Guild's Pizza Box Challenge and I can tell you that it really is a challenge for me. Each box comes with a theme that we are to follow - this one in particular is called Butterflies and/or Bees. The rules are that you must use a piece of the theme fabric in your design as well as a piece of the background fabric in your block.

I think that sometimes I do have brain block and I am hoping this challenge will help me to fix it.  I came up with the idea to make a butterfly out of hexies and I hand pieced them and then hand appliqued the butterfly to the background fabric. I think it turned out pretty cute. The butterfly is 6" across at the widest part so the hexies are pretty small. I wanted to have bees with my butterfly but I just couldn't make any of my bee fabrics work with the design so I drew in some bees with a pigma pen. I know it looks a bit silly but that really is the extent of my artistic ability. The theme fabric in this design is the yellow and it actually has butterflies on it but of course you can't tell. I probably should have fussy cut the hexies but I didn't want to use up too much of the fabric and not leave enough for later participants. The block will finish at 10". I have my guild meeting tomorrow so I got my block finished just in the nick of time.

Last month the Pizza Box that I received had the theme "In my Sewing Room" and I pieced my block to look like a sewing machine but I forgot to take a photo before I passed it on.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

All Caught Up....

April, May and June blocks
at least with my blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge Column quilt. I am not too sure what is happening because nothing on either of my design walls looks cohesive at all. The good news is that I have cleared out lots of scrappy bits. Time will tell what will happen with all of these blocks.

While working on the blocks over the past few days, I have been inspired to do some more clean up in my sewing my quilty sister Cheryl is coming for a visit on Tuesday. Nothing like having a visitor to spur on some clean up action. :)

Normally when she comes to visit I always say I am so sorry for the mess and she always says it is not really messy at all - she is very kind and can really overlook a lot of transgressions. But, during the last visit she said that my sewing room was beyond out of control - it was so bad that she really couldn't say much else. Not a clear spot in the room :()

I work today and tomorrow and Monday is booked because someone is having a birthday. ;) My goal is to get at least one cutting table as well as my ironing table cleared of scraps with everything put away and not just dumped into another pile. I don't think I will get much more than that done but I will try.

I have way too many scrappy bits hanging around waiting to be trimmed, organized and put away in bins or, dare I say, made into quilts.  I really need and want to make quilts!

I am linking up over at soscrappy's for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. Pop on over and have a look at all of the wonderful creations made with scraps. You just might get inspired to dig into your scraps too!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Customer Quilt

I recently finished quilting this beautiful quilt for Barb. This is Barb's first quilt and she did such a great job. It was very well pieced and square too! ;) I think the quilt design is a disappearing nine patch.

She wanted a very simple quilting design to complement the quilt and decided on a lightly quilted loopy meander. Barb supplied the white cotton batting and I used a light tan thread.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

RSC - Column Quilt Blocks

August blocks

July blocks

I have fallen woefully behind with making the blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge Column quilt that was designed by Angela of soscrappy. As a matter of fact, ALL of the quilt blocks (and quilts) that I had started working on this year for the scrap challenge have all been sitting idle for many months. :(

I did have a good start with the Column quilt at the beginning of the year but I stopped after making the butterflies in March.

Yesterday, I spent a bit of time tidying in my sewing room and it must have kick started something because I have been in there a good part of the day today playing with my scraps.

So far today I have completed the blocks for July and August and I plan to go back into my sewing room and work on some more - I have already started digging through my scraps to make the April blocks.

When I put the August blocks on the design wall I realized that I probably should have made fewer of the green blocks and more of the purple blocks. I won't bother with it now, I will wait to see how everything is put together at the end.

crazy looking design wall :)
 Who knows...I just may get caught up with this project... :))

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Pinwheel Quilt

Another quilt is heading toward the finish line! I just took this beauty off of the frame and I am in love. It is not a complicated design but - wow - the quilting just makes it sing. I don't have a lot of room to take photos at this time so I am trying to make do. This is a fairly large quilt - around 76" x 86" if I recall correctly.

lots of sunshine streaming in the room
I quilted it using a pantograph called Deb's Swirls and honestly it doesn't look like much on the paper but it is a really wonderful quilting design once it gets on a quilt. :)

I specifically used a batting made from 80% cotton and 20% wool because I want to test to see how much it shrinks once it is washed and dried in the dryer. I will make sure I take very accurate measurements both before and after the process. I prewashed all of the fabrics used in this quilt including the backing. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out but in the meantime I need to trim this baby and make the binding and get it attached first.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Winding Ways is Finished

I love how this quilt turned out - it was a lot of work but so worth it. :)  I would say that the winding ways quilt pattern with all of its curves is not for the feint of heart!

I was having some trouble trying to come up with a name for this quilt and all along I have been referring to it as the Winding Ways quilt so I guess the name has stuck. ;)

before fix
While I was quilting it I had a needle break and it caused a flaw. I was very disappointed but there was nothing I could do about it. I had thought about patching it by appliqueing a small piece of the same fabric to cover the flaw but I thought it would draw more attention to it.  At this point it is just a bit of shredded fabric that caused a few tiny holes but I do want to stop it from getting worse. It could potentially turn into a hole in the quilt top over time and I hope to prevent that. So, I decided to put a few drops of Fray Check on it, front and back, and pressed it with an iron and I will just leave it as is.

after using Fray Check
I have extra bits and pieces of fabric left over from creating this quilt so I took a 4.5" piece of the same fabric that was flawed as well as the backing fabric and I tucked them in behind the label before I stitched it down to the quilt. If the flaw ever becomes an issue, even in the distant future, there will be a piece of fabric to fix it. This quilt is for my niece Kim and I will let her know that if she needs it the fabric is available. I think it is a very good solution. :)

This quilt finished at 69" x 77" and was quilted with a light pink thread. I quilted it using a Dragonfly panto and when you look at the back you can really see the dragonfly motif. Love it!!!

back of quilt

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Customer Quilt

I recently quilted this wonderful quilt for Marjie. She did such a great job putting it all together and I just love the colours and fabrics that she used.

Marjie provided a wool batting and it gave the quilt a wonderful puffiness and texture.

She chose the Maple Syrup pantograph and I used a dark green thread that matched the top and backing perfectly.
Maple Syrup Panto