Sunday, July 31, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

We are in the midst of the lazy hazy days of summer here. It is too hot to go outside midday, and some nights it is too hot to sleep without air conditioning.  The weather forces us to move more slowly and to take life at a slower pace. It is also too hot to do any hand quilting under a big heavy quilt, so small stitching projects are the order of the day.
I have been putting in some stitches on my next Life is Beautiful block but mostly I have been working on an old treasure that I excavated this week when cleaning a closet.
I found a half finished baby sweater! This is a great old knitting pattern called "Leaf and Lace" and in my pre-quilting life I made it many times for baby gifts. You can read more about this pattern here
I was happy to find this treasure and motivated to finish it. I have spent a lot of time this week locating the mistake that resulted in it's exile, pulling out stitches, and trying to figure out how to resume the pattern. It's a really nice change of pace for me and I remember now how much I enjoyed knitting before quilting took me over.
There are so many interesting things to learn in life and so little time to fully pursue them all!
What are you working on today? Remember that we only want to see your hand stitching ... there are lots of other link ups in blogland for machine made projects and the weekly Slow Sunday Stitching link up is for hand stitching only. 

    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Scrappy Saturday Pinkness

We had 5 weeks of pink goodness in July hosted by Angela over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. But still I had to scramble to get all my pink blocks done this month. My favourite block this week is the newest Maverick star block. 

Here are all the pink scrap blocks on the design wall...

*Mad City Mama at the top.

*one more little 5" double nine patch block for Omigosh.

*one more Maverick Star.

*one more scrappy sprouts block.

Phew... that was a lot of sewing and I am delighted with the pink production this month!

To visit the RSC link up hop over to ScScrappy.

And I just have to show you scrappy quilters the fabric license plate that my friend Barb picked up for me when doing the row by row. Love it!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday is Circa day and FNSI!

I have been enjoying making the Circa 2016 blocks each week since the sewalong began in January. This week's block was called "Birds in the air" although that's not the pattern I know by that name. Here are the new blocks on top and the blocks from last week on the bottom.  I wonder what we're sewing today?!? Hop over to Temecula Quilts to see the new blocks.

Tonight some quilters are coming over to party sew. There are only two more days left in the month... I hope I make some progress on my UFO of the month!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Clarissa was a Superstar

That's the name of my new leader-ender project, but I will probably end up calling it "Clarissa". You can read more about the inspiration here
I redid the math on the block pieces since the first block I made was too small. I finally got the four patch hourglass blocks to be the size I wanted. 
The plan is to cut out scraps whenever they appear in my sewing room, and to always have a pile of triangles beside my machines to sew at the beginning or ending of every bit of sewing I am doing on my primary projects. The key to being successful with leader-ender projects is being organized, and having all the pieces ready to sew together without any thinking required.

I experimented with different ways of constructing the hourglass units and decided on using the Companion Angle ruler to cut the triangles. (To read Bonnie Hunter's lesson on how to figure out the math click here.)  This ruler is quick and easy to use and gives me an hourglass block that works with this design.
Now I am ready to roll!
Each block needs 36 hourglass units, which means I need to cut 144 triangles to start!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Aurifil BOM

On the 15th of each month the new Aurifil block pattern is posted. This month is an unusual design called "Sparkler" by designer Wendy Sheppard.  You can get the pattern at the Aurifil blog here. Here is my version in my favourite red and white fabrics. It was fun to sew and I can totally see this as a great Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt block... can't you?!?

This pattern has lots of small pieces, so you can use up some smaller scraps making this block. I cut the whole block, pinned the pieces together and very carefully sewed each quadrant. It would be very easy to get the design mixed up which would result in overuse of the seam ripper!
To see more fun variations on this block pattern, hop over to Pat Sloan's link up.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Log Cabin Loonies

Julie is hosting a fun Log Cabin Lunatics link up where quilters can post about their log cabin projects. 
I have only sewn 1 log cabin block recently. It is one of the July Shop Hop blocks, and probably was my favourite one of all the patterns. They give you the fabrics, so all of the 1" scrappy strips were precut for me! I did pick a different background fabric from my stash and impressed myself with how the horizontal pattern in the fabric lines up fairly well across the block.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Design Wall Monday

While I have been visiting a few of the stores on this year's July Shop Hop and collecting the new blocks, I have also been working on my blue blocks from last year's hop. 
Here are 9 of the 15 blocks on the design wall. If you want to see all the creative layout designs hop over to the July Shop Hop photo page.

The top right block was a bit of an ordeal. I traced the pattern onto freezer paper to paper piece. There were 8 components to the block and this photo shows one of them.
So I traced all 8 pieces and started to sew them without any difficulty. But when all the pieces were ready to assemble, I realized that because of the reverse issue in paper piecing I didn't have the colour placement right, and the white and light blue were mixed in some of the blocks. I thought I would remember which colour went where since there are only 3 colours, but apparently I didn't! It was a reminder to always write on the pattern which colour goes in each section, because obviously I can't rely on the old memory bank anymore!
Here is the finished block, and you can see if you look closely that I had to sew some scraps together to get big enough pieces to use after all that sewing and unsewing of awkward angles.
C'est la vie!
On to the next block...

To see more design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

It has been a very busy summer so far at Kathy's quilts. The last three weekends were spent in 3 different cities, with a lot of driving in between, lots of visiting of family and beloved friends, and of course slow stitches have been made in every location. 
Life is Beautiful block #26

I finished the hand embroidery on block #26 for Life is Beautiful. If you have been thinking of buying the pattern for this project, I finally found a source in Canada. There were two complete pattern sets for sale at The Quilting Bee in Fonthill (no affiliation, just a customer happy to see the patterns available locally!)
I finished this block while visiting with the Fabric Piranhas this past week. They are quite a bunch of crazy quilters and I am so honoured that they let me join their adventurous group. 
They are all avid hand stitchers so of course we spent time stitching in the gazebo and talking about our projects - the ones we are currently stitching, and the ones that we are dreaming of starting. In this photo we have Deanna stitching hexies, Barbara ("I don't like blue") with an embellishment project, Louise hand binding her Indian Orange Peel (more on that later this week), and me starting the embroidery on block #27. It was a wonderful (but always too short) time of laughter and stitching.

What are you hand stitching? Treat yourself to a little creative vacation today, take a few stitches on your project and link up below to share your slow progress with us. 


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Scrappy Saturday

Another Mad City Mama block is finished. This pattern is from Bonnie Hunter's book Adventures with Leader & Enders. It's quite a labour intensive block using 148 scraps! But it's really fun if you like scrap piecing (which I clearly do!)
You can see the first 4 blocks of my collection here

I finished this block while visiting with some quilting friends who call themselves the "Fabric Piranhas". They are a little scary and totally hilarious! I will post more about them tomorrow, but today I wanted to show the photos that I took of my block while staying at Louise's house. In one of her gardens she has an old treadle base turned into a table. The sewing machine is long gone but the base is still in great condition.
See how the actual treadle says "VERTICAL FEED" which means it was once operating a Davis sewing machine. I wonder if my herd will ever include one of these rare machines?
To see more scrappy projects being created, hop over to the weekly link up at SoScrappy.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Circa 2016

The Circa 2016 blocks were easy this week. These are called Yankee Puzzle, but look like an hourglass block. They don't have a good centre seam join, but after yesterday's block fiasco, I decided to call it "good enough" and move on!
To see what we're sewing this week, hop over to Temecula.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

New Leader-Ender Challenge

Everyone knows I am a huge fan of Bonnie Hunter and her revolutionary leader-ender method of making quilts. My leader-ender project for the last 4 years has been the small Alamo Star block and I keep making a few of those every month. Every year Bonnie announces a leader-ender challenge and twice I joined in on her project.
Here is the list that I can remember:
2015 Tumblers (I made a mini version called Tiny Tumble) 
2014 Lozenges
2013 Split 9 Patch
2012 Spools (I am working on my spool quilt layout)
2011 Cheddar BowTies
Bonnie announced the 2016 leader-ender challenge this week and it's the hourglass block. At first I wasn't tempted because I was thinking that I've made so many of those blocks over the years. 
But then... I remembered the Clarissa quilt. 
Clarissa quilt

On the way to the Vermont Quilt festival in the Spring of 2011, I had the opportunity to see an amazing quilt at the Shelburne Museum which became one of my all time favourite quilts. Here it is! I posted about it here and have always thought I would love to make a variation of this quilt. It looks like now is the time to start my own leader-ender Clarissa hourglass quilt.

This quilt was made by Clarissa White Alford and contains 6,048 pieces of fabric!
It was made by a woman who raised 9 children of her own, plus 6 children from her husband's 1st marriage for a total of 15 children. That makes her a total superstar in my opinion!  Can you even imagine her life back in the 1800's??  It is believed that she made the quilt while living in Quebec when in her 80's. It's amazing not only that she survived all those years, after raising all those children, but that she still managed to create a lasting work of art in her last years.

I looked at that quilt a long time in 2011. I was inspired by the story of it and by the beauty and longevity of the quilt. Here is a close up of one of the 42 blocks all made with hourglass units...and hand quilted!
I don't know how many blocks my Clarissa quilt will be, but I started the first one today.

The first block was pieced on my Singer 301 short bed sewing machine named Ethel. The sound of this 301 machine is soft and lovely... it's such a calming pleasure to sew with her!

But look what happened! First of all, because I don't have a pattern and am making this up based on a photo, my math was off (big surprise!) and my first block turned out to be too small. 
And secondly, how did the bottom right hourglass block not work out as planned?!?
Clarissa made everything in life and in quilting look easy, and it's not. I think I'm calling this quilt "Clarissa was a Superstar"!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Not a Quilt

I made a "quick" gift yesterday for a bridal shower tonight. Honestly I don't know why I do these things! It would have been so much quicker and cheaper to just buy a gift. But no.... I have to make something and it turned out to be a bigger challenge than I thought it would be. 

It's a tea towel... how hard can it be?!?
I got the kit for this project at Kindred Spirits Quilt Company. Making the hexagons went well and attaching them to the quilt was all good.

But then came the ruffling part, which I have never done before. 
Not fun.
Not even in the same league as quilting fun!
Oh well... it's done now, and I learned that I don't enjoy making ruffles!
And there it is.
The request for the shower was to bring "a tea towel that describes your personality or has a funny story attached to it". A quilter has to give a quilty kind of towel, so this definitely qualifies and she will know exactly who it's from. Hope it doesn't fall apart in the wash! LOL
And now back to our regularly scheduled quilting projects...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Design Wall Monday

This is how the design wall looks today. These are the improv quilt blocks I made in a class at Quilt Canada, combined with the most recently made blocks that I pieced over the weekend for the blue shop hop quilt.
It's a very fetching combination don't you think?!?! HA!
Let's call it "the layering effect" which is a result of having too many projects on the go and layering them one on top of the other on the design wall without actually making real progress on any of the projects! 
The Layering Effect. 
I think I just made up something to add to the urban quilters dictionary!
These two blocks are #7 and #8, and block #9 is cut and ready to sew. At least I am making a bit of progress!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to Slow Sunday Stitching!
This week I was reading about the benefits of slowing down and living in the moment, and I came across a blog post over at Focus Manifesto. It was interesting content to read, but what struck me was the really unique design of the blog post. Hop over here and just notice what it's like to look at something with no distractions? What does it feel like to not have to deal with popups, and advertisements, and notices that block the content we want to read?  

This realization made me think about all the visual clutter we have to deal with.  According to the Webster dictionary, clutter means "to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness".
There is so much clutter now on some websites and blogs I used to read, that I sometimes can't visit them any more. It's just too much visual stimulation to deal with. Not to mention all the clutter I see regularly in my sewing room, in my home and in my office. It's all connected and I intend to reflect on that today while I take some slow uncluttered stitches. I might make a few goals to work on to declutter the spaces in which I live and work.
Or I might just relax and think about nothing except the Life is Beautiful block I am stitching today!
This is my progress so far this week. The iron-on transfer had faded too much to be able to stitch so I had to retrace the pattern, which I did with a frixion marker. Now I am ready to finish up this block.
What are you slow stitching today?  Link up your blog post below, but remember that we only want to read about your hand stitching projects.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Scrappy Saturday

It's pink month over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. If you are a quilter with lots of scraps, the structure of this challenge is very helpful to actually sew up your scraps instead of having them sit in dusty boxes and bags for years. There are no rules, you can join in at any time, and there is a ton of inspiration to spark new scrap projects in every weekly linky party.
This is what I am sewing with my pink scraps this week. These are the first 4 block components for my pink Mad City Mama block. The pattern is from Bonnie Hunter's book Adventures With Leaders & Enders. I need 2 more of the strip blocks and 3 more of the 25 patch blocks, and will be working on that today.
To see lots of pink links, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Here are the most recently made blocks for my Circa 2016 quilt. These are traditional Friendship Star blocks. I reversed the medium/dark suggestion for this block as I want a few more darker background blocks.
Hop over to Temecula Quilts to see what blocks we are sewing this week.
I am heading off to visit some quilting friends this weekend and see what trouble we can get up to. We might do some shop hopping, or we might just sew one of the thousands of projects we have already started!
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Another Dilemma Solved!

Last week I was really feeling confused about my shop hop UFO dilemma... should I start a new shop hop when last year's blocks are still in a bag?!?! Once I posted about this dilemma, blog readers shared wonderful ideas in the comments and some folks even emailed me with some great suggestions.

My decision was made when a couple of friends were going to a few of the shop hop stores, I didn't have to drive, and I happened to have most of the day off. 
So off we went! We managed to get to 4 quilt stores and that was very helpful in my decision making process. I can't show you any photos of the blocks or projects because for some reason unknown to me, many stores asked for no photographs to be taken of the project quilts and all stores stated that there was to be no social media posts. 
So this photo is of the yoyos that I made during the drive that may or may not be for one of the blocks! I decided not to collect all the blocks so that I don't feel the pressure of yet another project on the go. But I am going to collect some of the block patterns from selected stores that I will add to the blue project from last year. I will substitute out the patterns I don't want to make and add in some of this year's patterns that I would like to try.
I am very happy with my decision and thank everyone for their suggestions last week. 
And I found this cute sign in a gift shop!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Design Wall Monday

Progress is being made already with my July UFO, which is a quilt-as-you-go project. This is a close up photo of the problem that each block join resulted in. The sashing lines did not match up at all. 
Here is the solution that my friends came up with. They suggested to applique a square of brown fabric on top of the offending mismatch. And so I did and I like it much more now. If you don't like the way the seams join, cover it up! Brilliant!

Here's the quilt on the design wall. The sashing looks a little wobbly, but it's not terrible. I can live with that.

So now the next step is to measure, cut and machine quilt some border pieces to make the quilt a bit larger.
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to Slow Sunday Stitching where we celebrate the art of being in the moment, slowing down, and creating something with our own hands. We encourage you to take a deep breath, relax and pick up your needle and thread and stitch yourself back to sanity.
Multitasking Goddess
It has only been in the last few years that I have learned about the importance of slowing down and the consequences of living a rushed and stressful life. When I think about how I lived in my 30's and 40's, I am very grateful to have even survived to today! I rushed through each day, taking on way too much responsibility, trying to make everyone happy, living dangerously close to burnout most of the time and multitasking every single waking minute
Now I see the same kind of dynamic developing with my adult kids. Their attention is rarely focused on what they are actually doing. Smart phones have added an extra layer of multitasking that thankfully I am not at all tempted by, because my brain can not even handle it. 
Scene from my kitchen
I often wait to speak to them until they are done watching a video on their phone, or reading something on facebook, while they have their attention diverted to something else happening somewhere else in the world. "Hello kids! You mother is trying to communicate with you! Hello? I'm over here... just look up!"
They are already multitasking experts. We all are. We can't walk somewhere without looking at our phones and having earphones in. We are not enjoying the sights and sounds around us, nor are we actually experiencing living in this moment inside our own body. We are thinking about other people's lives in our own heads. I wonder what the long term consequences will be for this next generation, and for families and communities?
Just starting "Life is Beautiful" block #26

So just for today, stop multitasking! Pick up your needle and thread, and without any other distractions try to be in your body right now and take some stitches. Notice what it's like to feel relaxed when you are not multitasking, think about how happy your hands feel to be stitching, and about what colour you are going to be stitching next.

Ahhh... that's so much better!

Now let's see what our friends are stitching today. Link up a hand stitching blogpost and link up to our weekly party.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Scrappy Saturday

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour for the month of July is pink and that's one of my favourite colours, so I want to add blocks to all of my rainbow scrap challenge projects this month. 
First up is a new "circle of squares" block to add to my collection (tutorials here and here). 

I also made one tiny little double 9 patch block for the Omigosh collection. To get a sense of the difference in the scale of these blocks, the polka dot fabric in the centre of the above block is also in some of the 9 patch blocks where you can only see 1 dot!
Next up I will be making Mad City Mama blocks (which I need to make in aqua and pink), some Maverick stars, and some scrappy sprouts.
To see what other scrap quilters are sewing today, hop over to SoScrappy.