Sunday, December 17, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly link up for hand stitchers! Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and visit the links below for some creative inspiration. I'll be drinking day #17 of my David's tea advent calendar while I visit my favourite hand stitching blogs today. Each flavour has been enjoyable, but I think the "raspberry cream pie" was the most delicious so far!
Here's an update on my secret Christmas idea...

I wanted to knit earbud pockets for all my nieces and nephews for Christmas. It was a dismal failure. I tried really hard to learn circular knitting and I wanted it to look like the pocket on the left which my friend Wendy made. My version is on the right. Ugh.
I tried to push myself to knit every day in order to meet the deadline so I could create something wonderful for my Christmas gifts. But truly it was not enjoyable at all. It was stressful and I want to avoid stress, not create more of it in my life. It was a great gift idea that was not to be!

So I am back to hand quilting my oldest UFO today. It's so enjoyable, relaxing, peaceful, and soothing....
just the way hand stitching projects should be! Yesterday I finished quilting this block. It was very festive using the red and green threads!

What are you hand stitching today? Are your Christmas projects progressing well, or do you have a story like mine of projects gone astray! Only one more week... no pressure! Link up your blog post below and share your hand stitching with us.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Scrappy Saturday - Quilt Top Finish

I am so excited to share with my Rainbow Scrap Challenge friends that my "Mad City Mama" blocks have turned into a quilt top! Here is the completed 9th and final block using a ton of lime green scraps. There is so much cutting and sewing of tiny bits and pieces in these blocks by Bonnie Hunter (pattern in Adventures in Leaders and Enders).
As soon as this last block was made, I couldn't wait to get ALL the blocks sewn together. Here they are! That was a lot of seam matching... don't look too closely!

This has been a totally awesome project for using up scraps and I'm so delighted with the outcome! Any ideas for quilting designs are welcome!
Hop over to the Scrap Happy Finishing Fiesta and see what other projects are nearing completion today.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Happy Friday!

It's mystery Friday! 
Step #4 of the Quiltville mystery project was posted today and I can hardly wait to get in the sewing room to start cutting and sewing wings! I have some quilty friends coming over to sew tonight for our last Friday Night Sew In for 2017.

This is one of my symbols of contentment... 
a box of carefully sewn, counted (and pinned together in groups of 10) blocks for my mystery quilt. Unlike life, everything in this box is organized, orderly and predictable!
A huge thank you to Bonnie for this annual tradition that brings me so much relaxation and fun!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sewing and "The Crown"

I have been sewing my way through the Netflix series called "The Crown" while working on my blocks for the Magnolia Mystery.  I am sewing these blocks on my 1952 Singer Featherweight I have called "Charity". She sews like a dream and I am enjoying every stress relieving stitch.

To viewers who enjoyed season #1 of The Crown, I recommend not even bothering with most of season #2. John Lithgow, who was incredible as Winston Churchill, has gone away, and there are so many new nondescript characters that are not well explained. Most of the time I don't know what is going on, and need to rewatch parts of the episodes, then google historical facts so that I can figure it all out. That is not good storytelling when I cannot follow the plot!
Also, much of season #2 is about the sexual escapades and immoral behaviour of the prominent men and of Princess Margaret. The storytelling went from sublime in season #1 to terrible in season #2. 
How does that happen?!? 
I fast forwarded through some parts of the episodes that are not my "cup of tea", and got so annoyed that I started making sewing mistakes. 
That is not a good thing! Okay, where's the seam ripper, and what else can I watch on Netflix?
Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Clarissa is back!

block #19

We haven't seen a new Clarissa block for a long time. I got caught up in the mysteries going on now and had so many pieces to use as leader/enders that I didn't even think about Clarissa. 
But here is the next block that was finished this week. It is block #19. 

And here are all the Clarissa blocks on the design wall. Each block has 144 triangles so there are 2,736 triangles in this project so far!
One more block to go!

Linking up to Sew Fresh Quilts.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

UFO Update

The machine quilting has begun on my UFO of the month

I started with some stitch-in-the-ditch straight lines with the walking foot. This is how I usually start quilting a project in order to stabilize the whole thing. Once the straight lines were put in on both sides of the horizontal and vertical sashings, the walking foot was removed and the free motion foot was put on. 
quilting the teal Knot block

Then it was time for some serious quilting. I created a design with only one stop/start to go around the inside of each of the parts of the block.

the purple Knot block

There are 12 Knot blocks in this quilt and since part of the fun (for me) is quilting with different coloured threads, I am using a different thread colour in each block ... teal thread for the teal block, orange thread for the orange Knot, etc. 
The month is not quite half over, and the quilting is not quite half finished. When the blocks are quilted, I will design a quilting pattern for the sashing/border areas.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mystery Link Up Step #3

Today is the Quiltville mystery link up - click here to see all the wonderful mystery quilts in progess.
I did a bit of sewing on the clue #3 pieces over the weekend while watching The Crown on Netflix. I was sewing the blocks on Ethel, a short bed 301 Singer machine which makes a beautiful stitch, but refuses to wind a bobbin. I sewed until the bobbin ran out!

some step #3 units
Although I sewed right through season #1 of The Crown, one bobbin was not enough thread to get anywhere near the required number of units for step #3 of the mystery. That's okay.... my schedule is getting busier with Christmas approaching, so I probably won't be able to keep up with the steps from now until after the holidays. But I will sew a few of each of the steps as they are posted.
To visit the Quiltville link up, click here.
To see more design wall postings, visit Small Quilts.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to Slow Sunday Stitching! 
We meet here every Sunday to celebrate the art of all varieties of hand stitching. If it involves a needle or 2 and thread and stitching taken with your hands, we want to know about it!

I have taken out my winter hand quilting project. It has the ceremonious distinction of being my oldest UFO and has been in progress since 1996, so it's 21 years old! I still really like it and enjoy quilting the blocks. I can't help but wonder if 2018 might be it's last year as a UFO?

This is a big quilt, and it's heavy and warm, so it's perfect to work on at this time of year. I have set up my little quilting corner and put this UFO in my oval floor frame. It's a cozy little spot where I listen to iTunes and hand quilt when I have a few moments to relax. This is where I will be, putting in a few stitches to start the day.
What are you hand stitching today? Share with us the project you are working on by linking up your blog post below.
Happy Slow Sunday Stitching everyone!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Scrappy Saturday

It's the finishing time of year over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. There are many half finished scrappy projects sitting around here and they need to move along towards becoming a finished quilt. Some of them have been sitting around a long time and not turning themselves into finished quilts!! What's with that?!?!

This past week I've focused on completing the ninth/last Mad City Mama block using lime green scraps. The strip blocks and the 25 patch blocks are sewn together. The next step is to make a centre block and finish sewing on the light triangle corners.

I have also made some progress on my UFO of the month which is a long term RSC project. The backing was sewn together from 2 pieces of yardage, and pin basting has begun. I am motivated to get the basting job finished quickly because it ties up all my table space.
Hop on over to the RSC linkup to see more projects being completed this week.

Friday, December 08, 2017

It's Mystery Day!

The last step of Magnolia Mist Mystery has been posted this week and this is a sample of the blocks that I will be sewing together this weekend. I think I might change up the layout a bit to use up some of the fabric I have. 
AND as if that's not enough excitement, Step #3 of the Quiltville mystery is posted today! I will have to do a lot of cutting for step #3 blocks, so first I will put on some Christmas music, wind down from a busy week and enjoy some mindless sewing putting together the Magnolia blocks.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

When the window closes!

Sometimes I find interesting words I enjoy mulling over in my brain. Teresa inspired me with her blog post about windows of creativity and of "otherness" - read her post here. I could relate to that feeling of a burst of creativity and the energy that comes with that, inspired by a new project we feel so much passion for, and can't wait to see how it will turn out.
And I also know very well how it feels when the window is slammed shut, when the initial vision doesn't materialize or is lost, and you are left with a big fabric mess instead of the lovely quilt you had envisioned. 
This happens in quilting and in real life.
The IOP design wall
Exhibit A - Indian Orange Peel
This is one of those multi-year adventure projects! I have written over 20 blog posts about it over the past 7 years and tried many incentives to entice myself to finish it. My sister even tried to get me to take it to a quilt retreat and helped me set goals about it. But guess what... I didn't even take the project with me! 
Can you say AVOIDANCE!?!?!?
So why is it still not a quilt?
I have finished many, many quilts over the years since I started the IOP.
And still... there it sits taking up space on the design wall. 

I loved the pattern years ago and always wanted to make it. I seized the opportunity to take an IOP class and learn the necessary skills. 
Every step of making this quilt was really hard, but in retrospect I allowed it to become way harder than it needed to be. Every decision seemed to be the wrong one, and the energy of the project became more and more negative.
I procrastinated working on it because I couldn't figure out what the problem was, let alone how to "fix" it.
So now I have accepted that it will never be fixed. I will never have that amazing quilt that I dreamed about. 
It is what it is.

But I'm telling you... this thing is going to be finished come hell or high water! So here it is under the needle again, getting some attention, and progress is being made. 

And I still don't like it!

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Wild Geese

Are you sewing along with the Quiltville mystery? While my machine is sewing all these blocks, I am singing to myself..."It's the most wonderful time of the year"! 
It's so fun making lots of little pieces for blocks that will eventually become a quilt and I have no idea how it will turn out. It's the most fun that a quilter who is somewhat risk-averse can have!
Here are some of my blocks on the design wall ... flying geese are everywhere! Instead of using coral/melon colours for this step, I am using gold/brown paper bag, and loving it!

There are usually so many little pieces to keep track of in a Quiltville mystery and here is my idea to stay organized. 
Mystery blocks for step #1 and #2
I reuse a spinach container to store all the block pieces. Everything is exactly where it should be and I can find everything needed as the steps progress. You can see my recycled container with pieces from last year's mystery here and I even found a photo of the same container being used for the 2013 Celtic Solstice mystery here.
Hop over to these link ups: Quiltville step #2 and Sew Fresh Quilts.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Cutting Mat Tip

Every quilter needs a good self healing cutting mat. I prefer the Olfa mats  - I have no affiliation but am a very satisfied customer who has tried many different brands of cutting mats over the years. I found a list of great tip for mat care at the Olfa website and decided to try the eraser idea after cutting some batting. 
You know how the fuzzy bits get stuck in the tiny slits left behind by the rotary cutter? When you rub an eraser (I bought a cheap Staples brand eraser) over the mat, it pulls out the fuzz. You end up with schmutz that you just wipe into the garbage and your mat is clean again. I then wipe it gently with a damp cloth.

This mat however, is dead. Done.
It has worn completely thin and is no longer a self healing mat because it is bare. No amount of rubbing it with an eraser will fix it. It needs to go in the garbage.
Santa knows I need a brand spanking new self healing mat, and he also knows that I have been a very good girl!

Monday, December 04, 2017

Blockheads on the design wall!

The Moda block sampler quilt is continuing and this week block #40 (of 48) will be posted. I fell a bit behind on this project in November after the applique house block #34 was posted and lost a bit of momentum on the project. These are the blocks that have been made as I slowly catch up. 

This is block #35 called "Northridge". I am trying to remember to use a few more blue fabrics so that block #33 doesn't stand out so much. 

Here is block #36 called "Shoo Dat".

And this is block #37 called "Double Delight Star". 

For some unknown reason, you can no longer see the Blockheads Facebook page unless you have an account, but you can still see all the lovely block photos on Instagram - click here.
Here are my 36 blocks on the design wall. Now I'm only 4 blocks behind!

To see more design wall postings, hop over to Small Quilts.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly link up that celebrates the art of hand stitching! We hope you will make time today to put some stitches into your project and enjoy the benefits of relaxing hand work.

This week I finished hand stitching 282" of binding on my 2016 Aurifil BOM quilt. It's one of my favourite hand stitching tasks, so the time was very enjoyable. 
While I stitched, I watched the Bletchley Circle on Netflix. My friend Sandy's Mom was a Bletchley girl and that gave me added interest in watching the 7 episode series. There was more violence than I usually tolerate in what I chose to watch, but I continued with it since it was inspiring to watch brilliant women solve mysteries, and hold people and organizations accountable.

Today I will be working on my top secret Christmas knitting project. I finished the first prototype and learned how to do the Kitchener stitch. 
I couldn't understand the written pattern instructions, so watched a few examples on Youtube before I found the perfect instructional video by Purl Soho. I was able to follow her instructions, but my efforts did not turn out right because I had the pieces inside out. I put knit sides together instead of purl sides together. The end result is definitely not giftable, but I do hope that piece #2 will turn out much better. 
What are you hand stitching today? Are your efforts resulting in satisfactory outcomes? Are you making any gifts for Christmas? Link up your blog post below and share your hand stitching project with us.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Early Christmas Gift

Look what I received from a dear friend to celebrate the advent season! This is a David's Tea advent calendar, which has a different flavour of tea to enjoy throughout the advent season. Each day has a little box to pull out that contains a tin of specialty tea. Day 1 tea was called "Let it snow" and was a delicious green tea with the taste and smell of cinnamon....YUM! 

Yesterday I made a big cup of tea in my snowman mug. See how it has a removable hat which you can keep the tea bag in, or use to keep your tea hot while sewing flying geese blocks for the Quiltville mystery.

The tea for Day 2 for today is a chocolate macaroon tea which does not appeal to me since I don't really enjoy coconut, so it went home with my daughter for her to enjoy.
I wonder what's in the tea box for day #3 tomorrow?!?

Friday, December 01, 2017

December Goals

Here are a few goals I'd like to meet in December:

1) Write a blog entry every day. Cheryl is hosting this challenge for the month of December and I couldn't resist signing up. You can learn more about the challenge and see the participants here. There are quite a few quilters already signed up and many more interesting and new (to me) blogs to check out.

2) Completely finish one more UFO in 2017. I want to finish the Knot Blocks quilt. The quilt top needs to be pin basted, machine quilted and bound in time to be a finished quilt by New Years Eve. To see more UFO goals, hop over to One Monthly Goal link up.

3) Create and wrap a big pile of Christmas gifts for Santa to deliver! Well, that might be a fairly lofty goal to make now since there are only 24 days left before the big day. It's mind boggling all the things that I will accomplish between now and then!

4) Finish the Mad City Mama quilt top. This project just needs one more block and I've been cutting up lime green scraps all week. Here are some of the block parts on the design wall. I have to sew a centre patch, sew 12 light corners on some parts, sew the 5 patch strips together, and then get it altogether. To see more Rainbow Scrap Challenge projects, hop over to the weekly link up.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Finished Quilt!

The October and November UFO is finished! 
This the Aurifil BOM pattern from 2016. The layout is by Pat Sloan and her finished blue and white quilt can be seen here. It is so exhilarating when a labour intensive project is done done done! I know that you understand how many hours went into picking out fabric, cutting out all the pieces, constructing the complex blocks, sewing the sashing and blocks into a quilt top, basting, quilting and then finally binding the edge of the quilt. 

I machine quilted each block differently so it really is a true sampler quilt with each block being unique in the design and in the quilting pattern.

For the first time ever I had difficulty sewing the binding onto this quilt because there is no quilting in the borders... just stitching in the ditch in all the border seams. 
Making mountains out of molehills!
I tried to sew all the way around the edge of the quilt before attaching the binding but it didn't help the problem of the build up of fabric in front of the needle. I think it's because some of the outside border pieces were a bit too long. If I would have done some quilting in the border, it would have pulled in the excess fabric. Instead there was a little hill of fabric at many of the seams and I ended up having to tack down a little fold with applique. I hope it's not too noticeable in the finished quilt.

My motto: finished is better than perfect!

Here is the back of the quilt. Nothing fancy, just 3 hunks of fabric sewn together. Maybe you can see the quilting design... straight lines in the sashing and each block quilted with a different pattern.

The finished quilt measures 61" X 80".

Hop over to One Monthly Goal to see more projects finished in November. Linking up to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Lost UFO is unearthed!

One of the many benefits of having a quilting blog is the ability to trace UFOs when they are found in an archeological dig! When doing some deep cleaning recently I found the pieces to a mystery quilt offered by Heather Spence. My blog informed me that this project was called "Jack of Hearts" and it was started in 2012. 

Oh my... I don't remember making these blocks at all. I do recognize the fabrics... some from my guild friend Marions' stash, some scraps from my nephew Andrew's little boy quilt (he graduated from high school already) and some old stuff from my stash.
I searched the pattern on the internet and found that this is how the pattern shows the layout to be. It doesn't look like hearts to me. It looks like boxes.

So I played with the blocks on the design wall and like this layout better. I have already figured out how I will machine quilt diagonal heart patterns, so I have to get the blocks sewn together and ready for quilting. 
This project has never been on my UFO list because it was MIA. But now it's found, I am eager to finish it and think it will make a great donation quilt.