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.