Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Good Progress!

Wow, I can't believe that I managed to get the whole circle portion stitched together. It took a wee bit of effort because there were some slight curves in the piecing. I just took my time and pinned the units as I went.

I laid out the pieces so that I knew which piece needed to be added in the correct order. The blades were pieced in units of three and they are put together on a curved angle so there was potential for confusion.

block laid out for piecing
I also starched and pressed as needed to help the circle lay flat. The green star portion still needs to be stitched into the center of the circle and I know that it will be a real treat to do it. ;) I haven't decided yet if I will attempt it by machine or if I will just do my best with hand stitching.

There is one more outer row of points that need to be added to this block and that will turn it into a circle before it gets turned into a square. This is a photo of the block pattern that I am using.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Working on the Mandala

Way back in October I wrote about a small wall hanging that my son Adam and his partner Anna wanted me to make. Anna and I had made a start on it and since then it has been just languishing waiting for me. I can't believe that it has taken me this long to get going on it.

I pulled out the pattern, the templates and the fabrics for this little quilt and was ready to start but I could not find the piece of paper detailing the placement of each fabric. Oh no, I thought I had kept everything together but obviously not. I knew I would not have thrown it away so I started sorting stuff and pretty much cleared off a table but it was not there.

I do have a large bin that I dump keep special items in - you know - like a junk drawer for my sewing room. Okay, let's be honest, I have a few of those junk drawers. ;) Anyway, after digging through it I finally found the paper. Hallelujah!

The first thing I did was to piece the center star. It does not join accurately where it comes together in the center but after a couple tries I decided that it looked good enough!

I have started on the next two rounds and got the shapes traced and cut out. I used a frixion pen to draw around the templates and I did it on the front of the fabrics. I don't think that really matters because the pen will iron off and more importantly the templates are symmetrical.

This is where I left off last night - I think so far so good!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Pushing Through It

Even though yesterday was such a write-off for me I still managed to do some sewing. I recently read something that if you have a creative hobby it makes you a happier person. Specifically, if you do something fun and creative today then you will reap even more rewards the next day. I think I believe it. :) That makes me wonder if the reverse is true but I didn't want to test it. So I spent what little energy I had in my sewing room having fun while my husband made dinner and did the clean up. ;) Just in case, you know, so I wouldn't be grumpy today. lol

Missing a full night's sleep does take a toll and everything seems to go in slow motion for the whole day. My brain was not operating at peak performance so I chose the Framed Blocks to work on. They are so quick and easy to make and I got 15 more done. That gives me a total of 45 so far but 2 of those will be sent off to Block Lotto.
my design wall is too small to hold all 45 blocks
These blocks finish at 9" and I am thinking of a possible 7 x 8 layout so I will need to make a few more.

Before I went to bed I spent a little more time stitching the binding onto On Ringo Lake. When I wrote my label I put a finished date of January. Nothing like using a deadline for motivation. :)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Binding On Ringo Lake

Yesterday, I started off the day with On Ringo Lake ready for hand stitching the binding.  I had hoped that I would be able to sneak a few stitches in even though I knew that it would be a very busy day. Things just got so busy that I couldn't find the time to make it happen...until much later.

stitching the binding
My son Adam recently had a birthday and yesterday was the first day that he and Anna were able to visit so that we could celebrate as a family. My husband and I made a really nice dinner despite the fact that my stove broke on Thursday and it is totally out of commission and needs to be replaced. Thankfully, I have a small portable induction burner, a toaster oven and a bbq. :) We made a dinner for five - bacon wrapped steaks, caesar salad with shrimp, carrots, sauteed onions and mushrooms and smashed baked potatoes and it was delicious. My son prefers pie over cake and I couldn't really bake one in the toaster oven so we purchased a blueberry pie. It all worked out great. :)

When we get together we often play games and last night was no exception. We played a card game called Wizard and also a mystery type game where you have to solve clues to escape from a mysterious cabin in the woods. Thankfully, we figured out the clues and we were able to escape. ;)

By the time I went to bed I was totally exhausted but I could not fall asleep..gggrrrr. That is so annoying!! I stayed in bed until just about 2 am and then I thought I was just wasting time so I got up and decided to work on the binding. As soon as I put the quilt on the couch to get to work on it Molly was right there holding it down so it wouldn't get away!. She does not want to miss any opportunity to help me!

When I took the photo of Molly it was 2am and the room was very dark with just my sewing light and the tv on. It shows the texture of the quilting on the back of the quilt so beautifully.

Anyway, it was time well spent because I did manage to get 58" of binding stitched down. I think that was a better way to spend my time instead of just tossing and turning in bed. I think there will be more opportunity for me to do some more stitching later today as well.

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

Saturday, January 27, 2018

On a Roll!

I had a busy day yesterday but I did manage to make sure that I got this little block made. I searched through the folder where I store my midget block patterns for something that looked like it wouldn't be really complicated or time consuming to make and Midget Block #131 - Indian was the winner!

It was really quick and easy and I am glad about that because sometimes we just need quick and easy. ;) For this block I used scrappy bits of fabric that I had received from Cathy of Sane, Crazy, Crumby Quilting a year or two ago. I had mentioned that I needed some 30's type prints for these blocks and she sent me some of her scraps. Quilters are so generous!

I am linking up to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge over at soscrappy. I am very happy that I have managed to make time to continue to work on these adorable midget blocks. Making them as part of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge has motivated me and has really worked out well so far.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Quilting is Fini!

On Ringo Lake is quilted and off the frame and I am very happy with it. I still need to do some trimming and thread tucking but I think it looks pretty darn good.

I love the panto that I used - Fluent - by Hermione Agee. It was not difficult to stitch out and it is not overly dense yet it still managed to cross over pretty much all of the seams in this quilt top and there were a lot of them. It is hard to see the texture and design on the front because it is so busy but you can really see it on the back - beautiful!! This is the same panto that my sister used on her last quilt and it looked great on her quilt as well. I love that it was already set up and waiting for me to use. :)

On Ringo Lake is ready for the next step in its journey to become a quilt. I plan to trim it and get it bound over the next few days. I already have the binding prepared and ready to be applied and I am looking forward to getting that done. I will definitely be hand stitching the binding on this quilt.

I had intended on going on my treadmill yesterday after I finished with the quilting but that didn't happen. :( I started feeling very, very tired so I just puttered around a bit and then I really had to dig deep and do some chores. By the time I went to bed I was totally done in and not feeling my best. I seem to be okay this morning but I do have a headache and a bit of a sore throat. I had planned to go to my exercise class this morning but I am not sure yet. I really do not want to miss it - I always feel so good and energized after I finish exercising.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

It is a Cutie!

This quilt has turned out so darn cute and I think it is going to make a needy child very happy! It makes me happy every time I look at it. :)

I made this quilt as a participant in the New Year's Day mystery from QuiltBug. I am so glad that I chose to make mine with children's fabrics. In hindsight, I think it was the perfect choice for me.

I have a few firsts with this quilt. I did custom quilting using a ruler and I attached the binding by machine. I can't believe how quick it was to do the binding completely by machine and I think I did a pretty good job too.

I normally cut my binding strips at 2" and that usually works out pretty well for me. I think that is a bit too wide for me to use for machine binding though. I attached the binding to the back of the quilt using a 1/4" seam allowance and then I flipped it and the quilt over and stitched the binding closed from the front. As you can see the binding ended up a bit too wide and it covered the border star points. In future, I will cut these binding strips at 1.75" and see how that works for me.

My little donation quilt finished at 45.5" x 65". I used 80/20 cotton poly for the batting and quilted it with So Fine #402 on top and cream magnaglide in the bobbin.

I have a big smile on my face!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Prep Work

I walked into my sewing room yesterday and my first thought was - what am I going to work on? Now that my On Ringo Lake mystery quilt is a flimsy I sort of feel like my sewing room is empty. Of course it isn't because it is stuffed to the brim with other quilty things but now I can at least see my floor. ;)  Isn't it amazing how quickly the scraps and other things start to take over every surface in the room? I still need to take care of a bit of that too. :)

So first things first. I made the binding for On Ringo Lake and I got the quilt top trimmed and ready to be stay stitched. I will do that today and then I will give it a really good pressing with steam and maybe some starch. I also chose my backing fabric and have it hanging over the quilting frame to help ease out any wrinkles that didn't come out when I steamed it. It is a wide backing and I didn't bother washing it. It is such an aggravation to wash, dry and iron wide backings so I decided to skip that step. ;) I hope to get this quilt loaded onto the frame and set up and ready for me to start quilting it tomorrow. I already know which panto I will use and I think I will use a neutral thread.

I also trimmed my donation quilt, Scrappy Friends, and prepared binding for it as well. I am going to attempt to attach the binding by machine. I am hoping it will work out well for me - I don't expect perfection but I do want it to look like I care. I did practice the technique when I made these double ended oven mitts and hot pads that I gave as Christmas gifts.

It seems that I have done more than enough prep work to keep me busy today. If I don't get it all done there is always tomorrow. The only other thing I must do is to get on my treadmill for 30 minutes. It seems that I always miss that on my to-do list!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

It's a Flimsy

Yaaay, hooray, I have got my On Ringo Lake mystery quilt to the flimsy stage. It was work and required lots of effort but it is done!!
I think it looks quite good from a distance - you would never really notice all of the misaligned blocks - unless you really wanted to see them. I had such a time putting this quilt top together. My seam ripper and I are not on friendly terms at the moment. She is feeling quite used and abused. ;)

Parts and pieces of this quilt top have been all over my sewing room floor for the last little while. You think things get messy when a dog gets into quilt blocks laid out on the floor, well, you should see what it looks like after I have been trying to step over it, around it, between it. You get the picture. I am glad it is done and off my floor!

I still need to trim the outer edges and then give it a round of stay stitching along the outer edges. I don't want any of those seams splitting. That should happen today or tomorrow and then I will get this one on the frame right away. I haven't decided what I will use for the backing yet but that decision will be made quickly. I am ready to move forward and get this quilt finished!!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Framed Blocks

Wow....I think these blocks are like 'tater' chips and the more you make the more you want to make. :) I started with these two blocks.

Next thing I knew I had all of these blocks made. They are so quick and easy to make especially if you have everything cut and ready ahead of time so you can just go into chain piecing bliss.

Then all of a sudden I had all of these blocks made. :)

My design wall looks so bright and happy on this very dull, dreary, wet day. This is the perfect day to spend some quality time in my sewing room. I hope you get to spend some time in your happy place today as well.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Slow Sunday Un-Stitching

The colours in this photo are much brighter than in real life!
I made this quilt for my son Eric and gave it to him for Christmas in 2010. He has used it quite a bit since then and when I last washed it I noticed that the quilting threads were breaking. :(  All over the quilt and not just the areas I photographed.

This quilt has been used but not abused so I am puzzled as to why this happened. This quilt was quilted on a domestic machine long before I had my long arm. I wondered if it was the thread I used. So, I started looking closely at other quilts that I had done on my domestic machine.

The photo of the quilt below was one that I had made for my husband in March of 2010 and I used a different brand and type of thread. I can be sure of that because it is variegated and I still have some left on the spool.

The one thing in common with the threads is that they were 100% cotton and I am pretty sure they were quilted on the same machine. I know that whenever I was preparing to quilt I always changed my needle so it is not possible that the thread would have frayed because of a burr on the needle. Could it have been something going on with my machine? I don't know but I am not thrilled about this to say the least.

I thought about what I could do and I have decided to start with Eric's quilt. I am removing the binding with Molly's help. She decided she needed to have a nap on the quilt as I was working on it. :) After I get the binding off  I will try to press as many wrinkles out of the quilt as I can. Once that is done I will baste a strip of fabric all around the edges and load it onto my quilt frame and requilt it. I hope that this process will work - I can only try. I am not going to remove all of the old stitches, they can fall out by themselves, but I will make sure to trim any toe catchers so that my hopping foot won't get caught in them. I will press the binding and maybe I can reuse it. If not, I will just have to find something else that will work.

This week Kathy has asked us to show some of our hoops that we use for our slow stitching. I use this hoop most often, but not often enough. ;)  It is a simple pvc hoop and it is very lightweight and the edges are smooth. It does the trick for me.

I am linking up with other slow stitchers over at Kathy's Quilts. I am pretty sure you will find links to wonderful projects actually having stitches added to them!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Again!!!!

If it is Saturday then it is the day to link up for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge over at soscrappy. I made another cute little midget block. This is Midget Block 111 - Wedding Ring and I think it looks really cute!

This block was machine pieced and it went together so quickly and easily. It is made with an odd sized block - 1-3/8" and called for 1-3/4" squares cut in half for the half square triangles. I got around that by using 1.5" scrappy strips of blue, matched in pairs with the background fabric, and used my easy angle ruler to cut the triangles. It was just a matter of doing a bit of sliver trimming to get my hsts to the correct size.

Yesterday, after my exercise class I came home and made these loaves of sourdough bread. You can get the recipe here. I have made this bread many times and it really is a winner!
I thought that I had killed my sourdough starter because it had sat in the fridge unfed and unloved for more than a couple months. It took a couple days but I was able to revive her and it back to very good health. I must remember to take better care of Bertha because I would have been very sad had I lost her.

This is Bertha - straight from the fridge. She didn't mind that I didn't tidy her up and put her into a new bowl. ;) I have enough excess starter that I will make some sourdough buns today. My husband and son gobble this stuff up. Honestly, who can resist homemade bread or buns. :)

I cannot believe that it is Saturday already. Time seems to fly by so quickly even when I try to stay engaged and live in the moment. Poof....another week has flown by!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Block Lotto

Do know about Block Lotto? Just as the name says - it is an on-line lottery for blocks and anyone can join in. You can read all about the details here.

This month's block looks really intriguing to me. I think they would make a great quilt top to practice some custom quilting on.

So I dug out my bright solids and black and white fabrics and I got to cutting. I may add a few more solid colours to the mix but I think so far so good!

I made two blocks as a sample and they went together very quickly. I sewed my black and white strips together and chained pieced my blocks even though the instructions are written for making one block at a time.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

My First Custom Quilting :)

Oh my goodness...why was I so hesitant to do a bit of custom quilting.  It was actually quite liberating. I am so happy with my results that I think I will do more custom quilting on my own quilts.

I used a ruler for most of this quilt although some of my lines are very crooked so you might think I did it free hand. ;)  I can't actually say that it was fun because it was work and it was hard on my shoulders. I had to keep reminding myself to get them away from my ears - they got very tired! It certainly did take a lot longer to quilt than if I had used a panto but I think it was worth the effort.

It does feel good to know that I have another tool in my quilting toolbox. I have gained so much confidence by stepping out of my comfort zone and just trying. Of course, I will need to do more practicing and now I am inspired to try to do some free hand quilting too.

I have made plenty of wobbles and bobbles on this quilt and honestly it really doesn't bother me one bit. I don't plan to pick out anything on this quilt and not because it is a donation quilt. Even if I was keeping it or gifting it to a loved one I would not pick out the imperfections. I think it just shows that a perfectly imperfect human being did the quilting. :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Organizing My Pantographs

I recently had an email with questions about how I organize my pantographs. I think I have come up with a pretty good system.

I unroll all of my pantographs and then I fan fold them into a size that will fit into a hanging file folder. I use legal size because some pantos can be quite wide. I make a tab with the name of the panto and then I store the pantos in alphabetical order in a filing cabinet.

The other thing I do is that when I order a new panto I print out the image from where I am ordering. I place these printed images into individual page protectors and store them in a binder. The binder ends up being a catalogue of all of my pantos and I can quickly peruse through it and choose the panto I want. I can also write any notes about the panto so I can keep track about any issues or whatever information I want to add. It is then just a matter of taking the panto from the file folder and using it.
The binder must be cute for the system to work :)
I find that this system works perfectly for me. I can easily find what I want when I want to use it and it doesn't take up a huge amount of storage space.

I hope this tip helps others that are looking for a practical storage solution.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Quilting has Commenced

I am so happy with the way things are looking. :) I am actually quite surprised! I thought I would have the most difficult time but the only real challenge so far has been the power kept cutting out on the machine. I didn't know why so I called out to my husband and asked if we were having power blips? Nope. My husband is an authority on electricity - he is and electrical engineer - so I ask him to check my machine. He doesn't even move off the couch he just says make sure the power cord is in all the way. Let's just say he really is an expert! lol  I had recently given the machine a really good going over because when my sister last used it there was a very strange noise coming from it. So I had unplugged it and checked everything possible to check and it had all seemed okay. I guess when I plugged it back in I must have been a bit limp-wristed and didn't get it seated all the way in the outlet. Thankfully it was such a minor thing!!

In preparation for quilting I wanted a design plan so I would know exactly what I was going to do. So as I made my design decisions I drew them onto this piece of plexiglass using a wipe off marker. I had asked my husband to purchase this quite some time ago in hopes that I would start using it right away. Well, that didn't happen until now! It is perfect to use to figure out what a design might look like on the quilt and it is reusable. The only thing that I need to change is that I need to exchange the painters tape around the edges with duct tape. The painters tape wants to lift off and that is not good. I absolutely want to make sure the edges are very visible so that I don't mark the quilt by accident.

I wanted to quilt a design that wasn't going to be too difficult and that I thought that I could execute as a beginner and I think I accomplished that. I just didn't want to stress by trying to overachieve! I am really happy so far with the quilting. Sure, there are wobbles and bobbles but I am okay with that. I don't think the recipient will be too worried about it either. :) It took me about 2 and a quarter hours to quilt the first three large blocks. By the time I got that much done my shoulders were up above my ears! I have three more blocks to do plus the sashing and borders. I think if I get an earlier start on it today I could potentially get it all finished.

Monday, January 15, 2018

On Ringo Lake

I have started clue 9 and it is a doozer! A whole lot of steps were required in preparation for putting the quilt top together.

Happily I did find enough yardage pieces for the triangle border although I really would have preferred to have more variety. Cue the music -

You can't always get what you want 
but if you try sometimes you might find 
you get what you need.

I did get everything done to the point where I am adding the side sashing to some of the blocks. I must confess that I am having a bit of a problem with that because not all of my pieces/blocks are the correct size....gasp. They are close but some just not close enough. ;) I think the problem was that I adjusted my seam guide mid project and didn't get it back to the correct position. I must have put together several many blocks before realizing the error of my ways. Oh well, such is the life of a quilter!

I can tell you that putting these blocks together and into rows is going to be a very slow process for me. I will really have to pay attention to the orientation of the sashing because sometimes my mind does wander. ;)