Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A finished Quilt!

Can you believe that I finished my March UFO - finally?!?!
It has been my UFO goal since the beginning of January, and after 3 months, it's D O N E ! It is made from polka dot fabrics, and was a quiltalong project in 2012 from Judy Laquidara at Patchwork Times. Three years to finish a quilt...that's not too bad eh?

It was a very windy day when I took the quilt outside for the photo shoot. I had to wait patiently until it hung relatively straight to get some photos. I like this one with the sun shining through.

This is the backing of the quilt - one big polka dot log cabin block. Can you see the vertical wavy line quilting? 

I am very pleased with how this quilt turned out and really like this photo of the quilt dancing on the clothesline. It really is happy quilt full of energy!

To see more UFO finishes in March, hop over to A Lovely Year of Finishes.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Design Wall Monday - Whirligigs

A new project is on the design wall today. It's actually been "in the works" for a while, but I'm just getting my blocks finished up this week. The pattern is by Sarah Maxwell and Dolores Smith from the McCall's Quick Quilts magazine Feb/March issue.
My little sewing group (we call ourselves "the sew 'n sews") are always working on a quilt to donate to the annual Mennonite Relief Quilt Auction.  It is quite the lengthy process from finding a pattern that we can all handle with different levels of sewing experience, finding a colour scheme we can agree on (that is always the hardest part), getting the blocks sewn, and then the huge task of agreeing on the layout. 
The colour scheme for this quilt is brightly coloured whirligigs on blue backgrounds. These blocks will be in our next donation quilt, which might be in the 2016 auction if we work hard and complete it by then.  
Sometimes we complete a quilt within one year, and sometimes we don't, depending on how life goes.

Here is a list of the quilts we have donated:
2008 Wings of Friendship - $475
2010 Split Decision - $400
2011 Chicklets - $325
2013 Bricks and Stepping Stones - $375

Our quilt in the 2015 auction this year is blue and yellow, and we called it "Sunshine Quilt". It's so big that we had a hard time getting a good picture of it. In this photo the quilt is hanging over the bannister and around the corner. We combined all the yellow and blue scraps from our stashes for the Sunshine Quilt and hope it raises more money for the international relief work of the MCC.

To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching Silence

How about a little peace and quiet to go with your slow stitching today?!? They say that "silence is golden", but most people avoid it like the plague. Television, noise, and social media is a constant companion for a lot of people.
 Life Is Beautiful Block #3
I was surprised to find that my tolerance for silence was a lot lower than I thought, when I recently attended a silent meditation and mindfulness retreat. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but the reality of it was challenging! The first night was okay, but the second day was really really hard for me. I longed for conversation, for music, and for the boost of energy that sound can give.
Scenery at silent retreat

I recently read a blog post by Joshua Becker that reminded me of the benefits of silence that I was seeking ...the most underrated sound in our society. I learned that I do need silence, but can only tolerate it in smaller doses than a whole weekend!

So as I hand stitch today, I will be treating myself to some peace and quiet, while I work on block #4 of my Life is Beautiful project. 
I had a little trouble with the heat transfer on my latest block. The ink transferred onto my ironing board cover right through the muslin. I don't know if I pressed too hard, or had the heat too high? Oh well, as you can see the cover is dirty and needs to be replaced anyway.
Next time I will be more careful.

I am enjoying the feather stitching on this pear design and hope to finish the block today.
Why not treat yourself to some silence while you enjoy some relaxing hand stitching? Link up your blog post below and share your progress with us:

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mellow Yellow

I can't believe it's the last Saturday of March already - it's the last week for playing with the yellow scraps over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

I decided to do some paper piecing this week and sewed a palm branch block.

This free paper pieced pattern is from Quiet Play and is still available if you want to give it a try. The blocks finish at 6" x 7" and each block uses 14 small scraps.

Here are the 13 blocks I've made so far. I started this project in the middle of 2012, and add a block now and then when I have enough small scraps and feel like doing some paper piecing. I don't know how many I'll end up making, but it's a fun project to visit once in a while :)

And of course I made a few more little Alamo Stars. All of my smallest batik scraps go in a bin for these blocks. These are 2.25" blocks and so cute!

To see more yellow scrap projects, hop over to SoScrappy's link up.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Finish - Donation Quilt

I am happy to say that I finished a quilt this week! But I can't take all the credit for this quilt. It really was a group effort that I came in on at the end. 
The quilt top was pieced by quilt guild members at bee day, using scraps cut 3" x 5.5".  It was then pin basted by guild member Lindsay, and passed on to me for machine quilting and binding.

There was a complex quilting design drawn on with a frixion pen, but I just ignored that and did some simple straight diagonal lines.

When the quilting was done, I ironed the quilt and the marks came right off. 
The binding was started on Sunday and I finished it last night.
This quilt will be donated to the community outreach project in the hopes that it will brighten up someone's life, and provide them with a little comfort and warmth.
Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Counting My Blessings

Images count your blessings picture quotes image sayings
From Cup of Good

Sometimes you just have to count your blessings. Those wonderful events, memories, "ordinary miracles", and serendipitous situations that make you smile and realize how rich you are. According to the posting on the right, I am very fortunate indeed. 

AND I am a quilter.
How lucky am I?!?

Well, today I feel very blessed for all of these reasons... plus:

1) Did I tell you I bought a new/old sewing machine?!? I am gently oiling and fixing her up. Her guts are spread all over the place at the moment, which I wouldn't recommend doing, but I discovered she needed a new tension spring. A new one has been ordered and I think she will be up and running in no time. We are brainstorming about an appropriate name...any suggestions?

2) Did I mention I saw Neil Diamond last weekend? 
Oh yah, I did.
The concert got a great review - click here.

3) my blog was listed in a posting at Quilty Folk as being one of the top 30 inspirational blogs - you can see the list here. That really made my day! I love so many of the blogs on that list, and was excited to find a few more that I had not yet visited. In the very big internet world where there are thousands of quilting websites, it was a delight and honour to be included. My smile is very big about that :)

4) I had some wonderful midweek slow stitching time. I enjoyed watching Bonnie Hunter's QuiltCam while hand embroidering my third Life Is Beautiful block. The running stitch is my favorite because it reminds me of hand quilting.
Ricky Tims Seminar

5) Guess who is coming to Canada in April? Ricky Tims is making a 4 city tour, and my friend Louise and I are going to see him when he comes to Ontario! This is a once in a lifetime chance, and we are really looking forward to a day with Ricky! 

Life is good!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Accidental Acquisition

 Last week I accidentally purchased a sewing machine. Just like I started a quilt by accident while on retreat a couple of years ago. These things happen. What can you do?!
I was innocently dropping off a donation quilt for the Mennonite Relief Sale Quilt Auction at their local office. All went well until I spotted their newly renovated thrift store.  I popped in to look around and spotted a black box. 

You know the one that makes a quilter gasp?!?
It was an item in a silent auction, so I made a bid of $150 thinking a gem like this would never be sold for that price. But guess what?!? It did!

I was beside myself with excitement, and quite a bit shocked that I accidentally bought another sewing machine!
Meet sewing machine #10 in my herd. She is a Singer 221 (aka a Featherweight).

Her serial number is EH626237 and according to the Singer website, her birthdate is 1952.
Just look at how beautiful she is!

The big question is can I get her working or is she a boat anchor?!?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Be Fearless!

My daughter and I have some funny exchanges - in conversation, and in written notes (well, I think they are hilarious, but she sometimes does a lot of eye-rolling!)
Here is a recent written exchange. My note on the left warns her not to leave her earrings on the bathroom counter. Her note on the right reminds me not to worry about little things. 
My daughter's job
My daughter is fearless and such an inspiration. She is a diver and her job is to take care of sharks and other marine creatures.
That puts a little different twist on the note above doesn't it?!?
Here she is at work in her underwater office sorting things out.  OMG she is really that close to a shark, with nothing between them but water. Everyday.

So you nervous quilter wanna-bees out there... trying machine quilting doesn't sound very scary now does it?!? LOL

My job
I often say to myself and others "what is the worst that could happen here"?
You might not do a perfect job. You might not make an award winning quilt. You might even think you "wrecked" your quilt.
So to start off with, practice on a small quilt that you don't love, and then if you hate it, give it away so you don't have to see it ever again. And then try again.
I promise that you will learn more each time you try, and eventually you will get a finished quilt if you stick with it.
Just do it! 
Be fearless!
Nothing terrible will happen and it's not that scary!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Design Wall Monday - Log Cabins

I didn't stitch one single stitch on World Wide Quilting Day. That just doesn't seem right for a quiltaholic like me! I'll have to make up for the lost stitching time this week.
Today I have my blue and yellow log cabin blocks on the design wall. I have been sewing blocks together in pairs, then in sets of four, and then sewing together the rows.
I am surprised at how big this quilt is going to be. 
Here is the math...
The logs in these blocks are all cut at 1" and when sewn together finished at half an inch. For real!
Each block has 21 pieces and is 6.5" and when they are sewn together the blocks finish at 6". 
How many 6" blocks are needed for a bed quilt?
Well, I have sewn 130 blocks and if the quilt is 10 blocks across and 13 blocks down, I am guesstimating it'll be around 84" x 108" without borders. That is big enough for me. I am starting to get some quilting ideas, which is always a good thing to prevent a quilt from heading to the UFO closet!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching

It was such a busy week, topped off with a whirlwind trip to see Neil Diamond. I saw him a couple of years ago, and couldn't pass up another opportunity to attend one of his concerts... he still puts on a fantastic show!
Today I plan to relax, put my feet up, listen to some Neil CDs and finish the binding on this blue and yellow quilt. I love the underwater backing on this quilt. Do you see the dolphins inspecting my stitching?

What are you hand stitching today? We would love to see your progress, so link up your blog post below...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Meet and Greet

Today is "Meet and Greet" day where you can meet stitchers from all over the world. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy the eye candy and inspiration.
One of my stitching passions is hand embroidery, especially combined with hand quilting. These are my two favorite finished projects so far:
Quilter's Blessings - pattern by Capricorn Quilts

Journey of a Quilter - pattern by Leanne Beasley

I love all kinds of hand stitching, but the combination of hand embroidery and hand quilting is just my most favorite. 
Want to see my newest project? It is called "Life is Beautiful" and I am just getting started. Here is the block I am stitching this week... almost finished.
I will post the finished block on Sunday when I host my weekly linky party for hand stitchers. You are welcome to join us - click here for more details.
Thanks for visiting! To resume visiting other stitchers at the Meet and Greet, click here.

Friday already?

What happened to this week? 
It passed by in a blur!
Too much time was spent snuggling my neighbour's baby. I ask you, how can anyone resist this cuteness?!? She is growing in leaps and bounds, and doing really well. And she just happens to be dressed in an outfit to match her baby quilt!

A little bit of time was leftover for more machine quilting, but not enough to finish this project. I changed from the walking foot to the free motion foot (kept the feed dogs up) and found it to be faster. I have finished more than half of the quilt now, so it will soon be time to prep the binding.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Brave Machine Quilting

From Motivational Reads
Are you afraid of machine quilting? 
Truly there is nothing to be afraid of!

If you are hesitant, the best thing you can do is take an "in person" class and learn some tips to make it less scary. The teacher can help you with your machine, and help to problem solve any possible technical issues.  The second best thing is to take an "on line" class, but I find that a lot of people "watch and wish", but are still hesitant to jump in and actually try it themselves. The only way to learn is to try!
And if you are ready to try, I recommend starting with a design like I'm doing on this quilt ... a wavy line stitched vertically from top to bottom.
You just need a walking foot for your machine, and off you go! No pattern or lines to follow, and no right or wrong way to go. You can stitch a really wavy line, or gentle waves, or make each one different and discover what you enjoy stitching the most.  
It really is so much fun once you get going. 
I promise... money back guarantee!
How about listening to my favorite song "Be brave" and just go for it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mid Month UFO report

Thankfully the furnace is back on here, and quilting activities have resumed. And not a moment too soon, since it is already the middle of the month, and not much progress has been made on my UFO of the month. 

My poor Sweet Treats has been on the "to finish" list for almost 3 months now. I made these blocks in a 2012 quilt along over at Patchwork Times. So this quilt has aged sufficiently now, and is ready to be done!

The quilt is finally pin basted, and machine quilting can begin. I have picked out the threads and prepped some bobbins. The blue thread in the bobbins is called Genziana 50 wt. which my machine likes (I bought it from Tristan threads in the clearance section). The top thread is a very pretty variegated 50 wt. Aurifil. It has a lot of pretty colours and the colour changes are quick, so the thread is fun to quilt with. 

Happy Quilting on St. Patrick's Day!
You rock!

Monday, March 16, 2015

No Design Wall!?!

No design wall posting today because nothing is on the wall! I have been machine quilting lately and did hand stitching yesterday, so I haven't been working on any quilt designs.
But mostly I have nothing to share because my furnace isn't working. It is almost as cold inside the house as it is outside. Good thing we have lots of quilts to snuggle under until the furnace is fixed and the house warms up!
I be back when I thaw out!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching - Don't bring the stress!

This week I finished two quilts for my quilt guild challenge, which involved 111" of hand binding. Even though it was hand stitching, which I usually really enjoy, it was not at all relaxing because of the impending deadline for submitting the challenge quilts.
I have been thinking about this since then. The same relaxing activity that I do on Sunday, was not at all relaxing on Monday and Tuesday. It was the same task, but my thoughts were different, and so my feelings were different. And I was bringing my stress to my stitches. Not good.
Today I'm bringing a healthier mindset and intention. It's time to rest, relax, and recharge the batteries for the week ahead. I will be doing some hand embroidery, with some backstitching and making more lazy daisy stitches on my 3rd Life Is Beautiful block. I will remind myself that my project is not called "Life is Stressful"!
What are you hand stitching today? Will you be enjoying some relaxation, or will you bring your stress to the stitches? Link up your blog post below and share your hand stitching project.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Scrappy Saturday - Yellow

Yellow is the colour of the month at the Rainbow Challenge and we are digging into the scrap bins to find the sunshine!
I was given these wonderful batik scraps which are perfect for my Alamo Star blocks. I laid out all the scraps and started cutting pieces using my Tri-Recs rulers. 

I have 8 Alamo Star blocks ready to sew as leader/enders this month. 

I was able to sew 4 little stars with some yellow in them, but look forward to getting the rest of these blocks sewn up this month.

I have been surrounded by yellow (and blue) quilts this week. It's odd how that happens.

First - I have been working on my log cabin blocks and have a big hunk of the corner sewn together now.

Second - I adopted this yellow and blue quilt when I was at guild meeting (it was random, I have no idea why I did that!)  I started machine quilting it yesterday. 

Third - I sewed a label on a donation quilt made by my little sewing group. The fabric was all from our stashes, and we were amazed at how big it became - 80" x 109".  One of the group members thought it should be long enough to have a pillow tuck at the top. 

It's long enough for a pillow tuck, and then some! It needs to go to a home with tall people ;) 
Anyway, the quilt is hand quilted and will be auctioned at the Mennonite Relief Sale on the last Saturday in May.

To see more yellow scrap projects being made, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Scrap Squad - Pam's Pointed Prisms

Being a member of the 2015 Scrap Squad at Quiltmaker is such a fun experience. I have just received my second assignment, which is a pattern that will be in the May/June issue, and this weekend I will be searching the stash for fabrics to start sewing the blocks.
QMMP 150400 PRISMS 506 Scrap Quilt Ideas: Kathys Pointed Prisms
Kari Ramsay's Pointed Prisms

"Pointed Prisms" was my first assignment. This pattern by Kari Ramsay is in the March/April issue of Quiltmaker magazine.
This is her version of the pattern that was in the magazine.

My version of Pointed Prisms
This is my version of the same pattern. You can read more about it on the Quiltmaker blog here, or on my blog post hereThere are three members of the Scrap Squad that are making this same pattern.
Pam Snow's version of the pattern will be posted today. Hop over and visit the Quiltmaker blog to see what she created.

Today I will be working on this lap quilt, which I adopted at guild meeting this week. Someone else pieced the blue and yellow top, and pin basted the quilt, but became frustrated with the quilting of it. Everything was in the bag including thread and binding fabric. I plan to do easy straight line quilting with the walking foot. TGIF!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Challenge Quilt - Wallhanging

This is my finished wallhanging for the guild challenge. It is called "The light side of the moon" and the perimeter turned out to be 77".

I enjoyed every part of constructing this quilt. These are some of my favourite things...

I had fun positioning the two owls as though they were peaking out from behind the moon.

The machine quilting process was really fun. I used the  walking foot and stitched wavy lines from top to bottom. Each path between the moon columns has two different colours of thread that  I tried to make look like ribbons. I enjoyed using a variety of pretty thread colours.

Even sewing the strange binding angles worked out okay. I made a two fabric binding with a predominantly white starry fabric on the left and a bold black and white stripe on the right.

What I didn't like was that in spite of trying to create variety in the background blocks, and checking the layout several times, I still managed to put two of the same blocks touching each other in the final quilt. Look at that!
Oh well, that's life I guess. Those moon just wanted to be together.

I can't wait to see all the challenge quilts hanging together at the show. It is always mind blowing to see what happens when you challenge a group of quilters with the same fabric and theme, and they create such a diverse range of quilts. The quilt show is at the beginning at May - here's the link. Hope you can come and see our challenge quilts. Don't worry, I will remind you again closer to the show date!