Monday, March 31, 2014

Design Wall Monday

My March UFO blocks are still on the design wall this week. 
I am attempting to join them together in a quilt-as-you-go style. I have the vertical sashings pinned on, and am having a dickens of a time getting the sashings centered. For a while I really tried hard to fix it. I gave it my best effort, sewing and unsewing several times, by machine and by hand. But not a single one would agree to be centered. How is that possible?!?  There is no logical explanation for why this is happening. I have done this many times before without any problem. (Click here to see my favorite scrappy QAYG quilt from 3 years ago)
Sometimes circumstances defy logic. 
Or tasks defy ability?
Finally the quilt and I had a little
chat about the options. 
Choice A - quilt goes back in the UFO closet again, or 
Choice B - quilter learns to be satisfied with consistently uncentered sashing.
We agreed on choice B, and I will be hand stitching the sashing this week. It is an interesting experience to carry on, while trying not focus on the glaring problem. There must be a life lesson in there somewhere?!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Slow Sunday Stitching

I have been slowly (and I mean at the speed of a turtle!) hand quilting the cables on the border on my Journey quilt. I don't have any new photos this week... this is an old one.
I wonder if I am slowing down now because I know the Journey quilt is almost done, and it's a little bit sad. 
Hope you can inspire me this week to pick up my project and cross the finish line!
What are you working on? Link up your blog post below...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rainbow Challenge - Last Teal Week

I am happy to see the end of teal month since I've used up almost all of the pieces I cut at the beginning of the month. I sewed some spool blocks, some Omigosh blocks, and worked on my teal UFO.

But my most favorite blocks are these 15 tiny (2.25") Alamo Stars that I sewed as leaders/enders throughout the month. Some of the blocks have a teal star, and some have a teal background. Some star centers are the same as the background, some are the same as the star fabric, and some centers are a completely different fabric. Some blocks are mixed and matched when I didn't have enough of one fabric to make a whole block. You can see why I can't throw any little pieces out! 
To see what other folks are sewing with their teal scraps, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Quilting Through Loss

My daughter and my brother
It has been over 6 months since my brother died. My family misses him terribly and after a loss like this, we all know that nothing will ever be the same. We know that we just have to find a way to live on without him and deal with it however we can.  

And quilters cope by quilting.
I have bags of my brother's clothes that might become quilts. For now, most of the clothes have been sitting in bags in a closet, because the energy was just so powerful and the feelings so overwhelming that I could not even open the bags. 

Last weekend I made a little start. I washed all his shirts, even though the labels say 'dry clean' and 'do not tumble dry'. I did both of these things, because a quilt has to be washable. The shirts came out fine, but being made from 100% cotton, they did shrink some.

My brother had his dress shirts custom made when Maxwell's Clothiers came to town. They would take his measurements, and he would pick out his fabrics, shirt style (ie. cufflinks which he liked for dress shirts, or buttons) and a cuff monogram design.
Then his shirts would be taylor-made and mailed to him. They are beautifully constructed, personalized garments made from top quality cotton fabrics.

Garments that I am now cutting up into pieces, deconstructing and returning to yardage.
It's jarring, and sad, and brings back so many memories. 
The fabric on the bottom left was the shirt he wore to his first chemo treatment. He still had his hair, and still had hope that he could beat cancer.
I know the only way to deal with grief is to power through it. There is no short cut, or way around it.
This will be a project that I can only work on in small blocks of time, because it's emotionally exhausting. So, every once and a while whenever I feel strong, I will visit with his shirts, and cut up the fabrics, and put the buttons in a jar. And I will cry, and listen to his CD, and remember him. And hope that I will be able to reconstruct all these pieces into something less painful, and maybe even comforting. 
If you are interested in reading more about using quilts as part of the mourning process, you can visit one of my favorite websites - Womenfolk.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March UFO goal reached!

The 12 Quilt Square Quilt Along blocks that I sewed 2 years ago are now quilted! This photo was taken before they were all quilted, but you get the idea of how it's going to look. 
To read more about the process of quilting the blocks, click here and here 
It was quite a job to sash all these blocks, get the batting and backings prepared, baste them and quilt them... but it sure feels great to meet my goal this month.
This is the last block that I machine quilted, and that brown stripe really made it hard for my eyes to focus when quilting. There are a few wobbly parts so don't look too closely! But DONE is way better than perfect!
To see more finishes this month, hop over to A Lovely Year of Finishes link up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

UFO Report

It's already the last week of March, so I have to get all 12 of my QSQA blocks machine quilted by the end of the week. (You can see all the blocks on the design wall on this post.)  It's a "self imposed" deadline with A Lovely Year of Finishes, but it really works for me to get some UFO's finished. This is my most recently quilted block. 
I have used a limited number of shapes for the quilting- either arcs or wavy lines with the free motion foot, or straight lines with the walking foot. 
I have heard people say they don't like to change the feet on their machines, but I do like it. I have been changing the feet several times on each block, depending on what kind of quilting I want to do, which I make up as I go along.

I will show you on this block. 
I started with stitching the straight lines through the block's center using the walking foot. Then I changed to the free motion foot, and stitched the arcs in the bear paw blocks.

Then changed back to the walking foot to stitch around the narrow teal sashing to stabilize the block.

Then switched back to the free motion foot to make the arcs around each HST block, stitching only in the white halves. Then I free motioned the curve around the light teal border, and lastly changed back to the walking foot to go all around the block before the brown sashing strips.
And this is the finished block!

The colours and contrast on the photo have been altered to highlight the quilting lines, so you can hopefully see them better. 
I should be able to meet my goal of finishing all 12, barring any disasters between now and then!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Design Wall Monday - Tablerunner

The spring tablerunner is pieced and hanging on my design wall today. 
It was harder than I thought it would be because the pinwheel borders did not turn out to be the right size. There was a lot of seam ripper usage, some re-stitching and adjusting of seam allowances, followed by  stretching and pinning, and now the runner doesn't exactly lay flat. 

But it will all quilt out. 
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Slow Sunday Reflections on a Long Journey

These are some of my thoughts this week as I approach the finish line of hand quilting the border on my Journey of a Quilter that I have been working on for more than 7 years.
Taking on a hand stitched project is an exercise in faith. You have to believe that you have the commitment to see it through to the end. Making a quilt-in-a-day (aka "a quickie") is a fun process with immediate gratification and hopefully good results, but working on a project for years is a test of character.
From: Because I Can
We all love starting new quilts that are fresh and exciting, nothing has gone wrong, nothing has tested you yet, and you are full of happy hopes. 
But then real life happens, and there are challenges to meet, problems to solve, and you come up against your strengths and weaknesses.
And when you have chosen the long road of hand stitching,
the solutions take time and patience and perseverance.
If you have never hand stitched something, I encourage you to start, to believe it is possible, and then to develop the skills and personal qualities it takes to see it through to the end. The sense of just "being", of working faithfully to solve problems as issues arise, to learn the lessons the process can teach you, and to feel the satisfaction of the end product has to be experienced to be believed. 
But first you have to be open to it, and believe you can do it. And then one day you become the person who did it!

What are you working on today? Share your successes or challenges with us and link up your hand stitching post below.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Scrappy Saturday and FNSI Update

Rainbow Scrap Challenge update:

I am making great progress this month on my Omigosh blocks. I have 28 double nine patches done, and I think it needs a total of 110, so only 82 more to go! Here are the 4 teal/aqua blocks I made this month. 

I also finished up a blue double 9 patch from January and 5 pink blocks from February. So everything I had cut for this project so far is sewn into blocks this month...woohoo!
Angela... I need to add some purple, orange and/or green blocks, so maybe those colours could be on the wish list for upcoming months?! No pressure! LOL
To see what other quilters are sewing with their aqua scraps, visit SoScrappy.

Friday Night Sew In Report:
One of the sewers came down with a bad ankle or something, and couldn't come last night (rumour has it that she was either in a fight at work and kicked someone, or she slipped on the ice?) 
Wine was bought to match the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour of aqua, and I worked on machine quilting blocks for my UFO this month. 

I think this is one of my favorite blocks so far. I think the quilting makes the blocks look like tilted crowns. It is fun to quilt each block differently using the same shapes.

This is a quilt top that Sandy was hoping to make progress on at FNSI. "Isn't it awesome?!? It is from the book Small blocks Stunning Quilts". 
Also, my sister's pretty Christmas quilt is on the design wall behind the quilt.
PS - the other quilt holder will remain anonymous because she really needs a hair cut! Just sayin'!

Friday, March 21, 2014


It's way past time for winter to be over, but the snow is still here. UGH! 
We need some motivation to have some fun and pull ourselves out of the winter doldrums.  And what better way than to QUILT?!?!
Come on all you quilt bloggers... go sign up for Friday Night Sew In and treat yourself to a relaxing night of sewing with quilters around the world. You don't need a quilting blog to join in the fun.  Just get out a quilting project, put the "do not disturb" sign on your quilting room door, and spend the evening relaxing and making quilts. If you are feeling tired at the end of a long week, don't pick something to work on that takes a lot of brain power. Do some string piecing or hand stitching... and just relax!

This is what I will be relaxing with - framed pinwheels for my spring tablerunner. All the pieces are cut and ready to sew - 4 blocks done and 26 more to go!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Tablerunner

Another grey, dull, spring day. Everyone is saying "at least I don't have to shovel"!
What better project to bring out than a bright, happy, spring tablerunner?
I wanted to sew this during the pink month at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and got totally sidetracked sewing all these blue (January) and pink (February) spool blocks that I cut, and didn't get a thing done on the pink runner.

I have no memory of where or when I bought this kit, but I still really like it and want it to be on my table instead of in pieces in the closet. I'm about half finished the pinwheel blocks, and am enjoying sewing on my Sweet Baby Jayne featherweight!

And guess what tomorrow is? 
It's Friday Night Sew In!
Sign up over at Sugarlane Quilts and get your projects ready. 
I hope to finish this tablerunner at FNSI!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mid Month UFO Report

We are past the mid-way point of the month, and I'm doing a quick evaluation to see how I'm coming along with my UFO of the month. My goal was to prepare and machine quilt 12 sampler blocks. All of the blocks were slightly different sizes, so I decided to sash all the blocks and cut them to the same size. I now have all the blocks sashed with the brown fabric, and have double checked to make sure all the words on the sashing strips are right way up. That's one of the downsides of using directional fabric - you have to decide whether you care about the direction or not. And if you do care, which I do for this project, you have to cut and sew each piece carefully to get everything copacetic!
All the prep work is done for each block - I have cut 12 pieces of batting (from leftover scraps) and cut or pieced 12 backing blocks.
I am starting to make good progress on the quilting, and really enjoying working on this size of a project. The blocks are 14", so no shoulder strain, no struggling to maneuver a quilt around, and no trying to push it through that small throat space in the sewing machine. It's such an easy size to practice machine quilting.

It has also been fun to try to figure out how I can do as much continuous line sewing as possible with each block in order to avoid all the stopping and starting. I like quilting the arc shapes on these star blocks. I am using my Machinger gloves so I am not as likely to quilt my fingers to the block! Gosh... these gloves are looking d-i-r-t-y and well used!

This 'trip around the world' block has been a lot of stops and starts. I am marking the lines with the hera marker and it is working well. But stitching straight lines is not as much fun as quilting arc shapes!

I think I am right on track with my March UFO and will have all the blocks quilted by the end of the month. I'm starting to think about adding a "quilt-as-you-go" border. I've never done that before, so that should be interesting!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's time to put on the green and celebrate with our Irish friends! 
I'm afraid that I am one holiday behind in my quilt making.  I'm still working on my Valentine's Day wallhanging from Temecula Quilts. The finished quilt top is on the design wall today!
I finally decided on a plain white background, and the red (with a white zigzag) inner border. It was a challenge to get those corners mitered, and the outside heart border to fit together, but it's!
The next step is pin basting and quilting, but I'm not sure if I want to hand or machine quilt this one. 
I wanted to be able to post my hand embroidered shamrock block that Pat Sloan posted, but I didn't even get it started yet. Maybe today? You can still download the free pattern here.
To see more design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.

You SHAMROCK my quilting friends... cheers!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Slow Stitching Sunday

Thank you for all the advice and stories shared last Sunday about the Frixion pens. I was amazed at the variety of experiences that people have had with this product. I am happy with the pen so far, but time will tell if the marks really do come out for good.
I decided to use the pink thread for hand quilting the border cable on my Journey quilt. When my stitching improves, I would probably go with more of a contrasting colour, but I'm not confident enough to do that yet. Maybe on my next quilt! *wink*
I have been running 5 needles at once so I don't have to move the hoop as often. Can you see the needles in this photo? I have one needle with pink thread for each of the 4 cable lines, plus one needle with beige thread to stitch the edge together (which makes adding the binding much easier to apply once the quilting is finished).
So far, I have had two problems.

Problem #1:
With so many needles and threads in one area, I sometimes get mixed up and accidentally skip from one line to the other! Don't know if it shows up in this photo, but I have done this several times. I can decrease the probability of mixing up the threads by quilting two lines at once across the hoop, then going back and quilting with the remaining needles.

Problem #2:
Mr. Max, the crazy granddog loves to "help" me quilt. Whenever I pick up the quilting, there he is snuggling close, saying "I'll just hold this one for you Grandma".  
Can you see the thread in his mouth?!? So adorable!

Okay... now it's your turn.
What are you stitching by hand and what are you learning?
Please share your progress by posting a link to your blog post below.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Scrappy Saturday - Teal

Happy National Quilting Day everyone! You can read all about it here and you can download the free "Stash Attack" pattern here. I am not planning to start a new project today, but I do plan to celebrate the day by sewing up some scraps and by doing some machine quilting.
Teal/aqua is the colour of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, so I'm sewing a few more teal spool blocks. I also finished some blue blocks that were waiting to be finished since January. 
Teal and I haven't always been friends, and I first sewed with it 7 years ago (click here to see my first teal quilt). 

I found this info on the Colour Psychology website:

Effects of the Color Turquoise
Clarity of Thought: It enhances the ability to focus and concentrate, assisting with clear thinking and decision-making, and the development of good organizational skills.
Calming: It is calming yet invigorating, restoring depleted energies.
Non-emotional: A negative effect of turquoise is that it can cause people to be too aloof and to hide their emotional reactions.

I have been sewing the teal spool blocks on my "Blue White" machine. 
Yep... that's her name. 
It makes me smile!
What doesn't make me smile is the incorrect block I sewed - see it on the machine bed?! Oh well, start over and try again.
Now I am off to celebrate National Quilting Day by doing some machine quilting on my teal UFO blocks
How are you celebrating!?!?
To see more teal projects, hop over to SoScrappy.             

And if you can stand even more excitement today, it's going to be PLUS 1 degree outside!!! Here's a little video clip to make all you cold climate, winter weary, chilled-to-the-bone people smile... gotta love Rick Mercer!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fabric Bowls

Have you ever made a fabric bowl? 
At quilt camp last year I learned the technique from my friend Maria. This is the first bowl I made. 
It was challenging for me to catch on to the technique at first, and then it was really fun. Maria recommended reading the book "It's a Wrap", which I found inspiring.  Also, Ami Simms has a neat video on her website (click here) and a great step by step tutorial (click here).
I made one bowl last year, and then at quilt camp this year I decided to make another one, but didn't get started until recently. 
Bowl making eats up scraps - it uses strips between 1/2" and 3/4".
Here are my supplies.
Cording and fabric scraps are all you need! This shows the beginning of creating the base. I didn't make the big X through the base like Ami recommends, but I think it would be a good idea, especially if you are making a big bowl.

Then you curve the shape to build the sides of the bowl. It starts to take on a life of it's own, and it is exciting to see the bowl begin to grow.

This is how it looks on the inside. 
I stitched a few charms on the inside, facing north, south, east and west. 
I really like the earthy feel of it.

Then, I decided the bowl needed a lid, so I made another
bowl and tried to make it a little flatter, but it didn't work the way I envisioned it. 
I tried to moulded the lid a bit to make it look a little more "lid-like".  I think the wooden button is the perfect touch to finish the bowl.
I'm afraid that I am addicted to bowl making now. I'm sure you'll be seeing more of them on my blog in the future!