Thursday, March 23, 2017

Scraps and Improv

I am teaching an improv piecing class in Paris (in Ontario, not France!) on Saturday and am getting all my samples out of the closet. I decided that I really wanted to have my Scrap Vortex finished to show the students. It's one of my favourite quilts and it demonstrates how you can use crumbs, scraps and letters to make an "interesting" quilt. 

I started this quilt in June 2015 and this is how it looked when it came out of the UFO closet this week.

I still loved it, and particularly loved that the 'S' in SCRAP turned out to look not as bright as the rest of the word. That's seredipidy!
However, I really wanted to have the word 'vortex' in the quilt, so I pieced the letters, surrounded them with scraps, cut the quilt top in half and inserted the vortex strip.

Here it is...

Definitely not serendipity!

The R's cannot be right above each other! That just didn't look like how I had envisioned it!

Out came the seam ripper, and the quilt top was dissected again! 
I inserted a scrappy strip between the words. 
But there are a few things that need to be changed so I can like it more. And a great border idea popped into my mind, so this project isn't close to being a finished quilt top yet! But it's ready for a road trip to Paris on Saturday!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It's Blockhead Day!

Have you started the Blockhead project yet? Information about the project can be found here and many beautiful versions of block #1 can be seen here

This is my version of block #2 called Aunt Dinah (link to the pattern can be found here).

These are my first two blocks for this sampler quilt. 

Wednesday is the day that the next block pattern is posted, so I'll be hopping over to Jo Morton's blog today to see her block. 

"Resistance is futile" of course! If you've been strong enough to resist making these cutie pie blocks so far, I am amazed by your self control! 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Aurifil BOM Quilt Top

You never know how a project is going to turn out, especially when it's a mystery BOM. I would love to know the statistics on the number of quilters who start a BOM and actually end up with a finished quilt. Some interesting quilty statistics can be read here from the 2014 survey of American quilters, but there are no statistics gathered on the number of blocks sewn/started/sitting in UFO cupboards.
I have my fair share of those that may or may not become a finished quilt one day, but I have learned something and increased my skills with every block I have sewn. And every once in a while, blocks actually do become part of a quilt top.
Here's my most recent accomplishment...
the Aurifil BOM from 2016 (free patterns are still here). The size of the quilt top is 62.5" x 82".
Although it is a 2 colour quilt, it really is a true scrappy quilt with it's huge variety of red and white fabrics. I was determined to not buy more fabric to finish it, so I had to substitute another red for some of the block sashings. Many of the sashings are pieced from scraps. And the inside light sashing is a different size from the border sashing because I was running out of that yardage too. It was a huge logic/math puzzle (not my strength) which makes this seem like a bigger accomplishment to me than usual!
This will be the perfect project to be quilting during Canada's 150th birthday year!
You can get the instructions for Pat Sloan's layout here, and see a few finished quilt tops at the link up.
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

Happy Slow Stitching Sunday! 
Welcome to the weekly blog link party celebrating the art of hand stitching. We recognize how long it takes to make hand stitched creations and we want to encourage you along that slow process.
This is what I am working on today with my Life is Beautiful blocks. 
The 4 patch background squares need to be pieced and then I will hand applique the 4 patch circle (on the bottom left) and the strawberry applique (on the bottom right) onto those 4 patch blocks. You can see the small circles in the centre of the photo which will be appliqued onto the corners of the blocks when the whole quilt top is together.  I'm not exactly sure how that's all going to be done yet. I'm taking one slow step at a time!

Also I have been continuing to take one stitch a day (and sometimes a few more) on this project. Here is how my "1 Year of Stitches" embroidery looks today. The pattern is from Wild Olive.

What step are you taking today to move your hand stitching project along toward completion? Go ahead and pick up your needle and thread, and put in some stitches. Take a small step and/or stitch every day!
And then write a blog post about it and link it below. We are cheering for every step you take toward your goal!

    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Worldwide Quilting Day

Today is Worldwide Quilting Day when we celebrate quilts and quilters around the world. The Quilt Show is offering free viewing of over 200 of their shows this weekend, so there is lots to watch while we sew.

I am excited to get my sewing machine out and start creating something. Yesterday was all about putting on the green for St. Patrick's day, and today is all about the red over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. This is what my cutting mat looks like today with partial pieces for another Mad City Mama block. 
Happy Quilting Day!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Building Loving Neighbourhoods

When I was at quilt retreat, our guild president showed us how to sew improv house blocks starting with any sized square. It was a little bit scary at first since I didn't want my houses to be totally crazy looking. But every block was more fun to sew than the last. Here are some of the blocks we made at retreat from scraps of batik. Marjorie is going to turn them into a donation quilt. 

Building houses with my Singer 301 (Ethel)
When I heard that the members of the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild were making quilts to donate to the families of the victims of the Quebec City shooting, I couldn't resist participating.

The guild requested 12" house blocks. So I made a little neighbourhood using the Stash Bee tutorial (which is exactly what we learned at retreat) for improv house block construction.  My little houses started out as 6" charm squares and ended up between 4" and 5". 
9 house blocks were joined together to make this 12" neighbourhood, which is in the mail on the way to Montreal.
One little quilt block will not change the world, but it will be part of the efforts to provide more love and comfort in lives and situations where fear and darkness live. 
Linking up to the Let's Be Social party!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

301 Singer Sisters

I enjoyed a fun but short visit with the Erin Quilters last night. It was wonderful to see old friends again and have a quick visit. It was a very snowy drive, so I didn't stay for the whole meeting and was relieved when I arrived home safe and sound.
Sewing on a Free-Westinghouse
I hope to have some sewing time tonight with my 301 Singer Sisters! They are my beloved work horse sewing machines from the 1950's, so of course I have affectionately named these old girls Lucy and Ethel. I make sure to give them a regular workout to keep them in good sewing condition.

Singer Sisters
The threading of these slant needle machines and their bobbins are a bit different from the majority of machines that I use regularly, so I often need a reminder of how to thread the needle (from right to left) and how the bobbins unthread in their cases (the opposite direction of my Brother 1500). A great resource for 301 machines is found at SewUSA. There is a lot of information on a wide range of machines and you can access the threading diagrams here for most of the brands you can think of. Here is the direct link to the 301 information.
Ethel's wiring is a little on the unsafe side, and she probably needs to be re-wired, but that is one job that I haven't learned to do yet. I keep her workouts brief and hope I don't electrocute myself or start a fire! But every time I use these machines I remember how much I like the sound/voice of these machines, and what a nice stitch they make.

I have started making some improv house blocks and need to build a neighbourhood... by Wednesday!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Design Wall Monday - Clarissa

Happy Monday
Happy Monday! 
It's going to snow here today and into tomorrow, and I'm supposed to be speaking tonight at the meeting of the Erin Village Quilters. I hope the driving will be manageable for all of us. I am really looking forward to seeing some of my old friends and meeting some new ones. 

I have been busy sewing scrappy quarter square triangle blocks and have finished my 9th block for the Clarissa was a Superstar quilt. This is my leader-ender challenge project, but I like it so much that it sometimes demands to be the primary project. I remind it that it is a leader-ender project and must wait it's turn to be slowly built in between other quilts! Yes, I do talk out loud in my sewing room, and yes there are interesting conversations between me and my quilts!

Here are the 9 blocks on the design wall... wow I love this project! Total triangle tally is 1,296!
To see more design wall posts, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spring Forward

Welcome to the weekly Slow Sunday Stitching link up!
Did you turn your clock ahead one hour last night to adjust to "daylight saving time"? Although it's not as stressful of an event as it was when my kids were young (and the adjustment was simply miserable), it is still a change that takes some getting used to. 
Daylight Savings Time!
Reportedly there are more car accidents and heart attacks following the time change. It takes time to recalibrate your body schedule, especially if you already have difficulty sleeping. Also, there is a noteable increase in "cyberloafing" which is the term for wasting time on the internet, reading Facebook, twitter, email and blogs. We are just generally more tired!
So here's my public service announcement: 
it is recommended that you enjoy some tea and some relaxing slow stitching time this morning, and then have a nice nap this afternoon, followed by a bit of cyberloafing while you check out the links below, and then do more slow stitching tonight when you can't get to sleep!

While I adjust to the time change, I'll be adding more stitches to my "1 Year of Stitches" project. This is how it looked yesterday on the 70th day of 2017.
To check out the unbelievable project photos posted on instagram click here
Please link up your blog post below and tell us if you have daylight savings time where you live, and what you'll be hand stitching today.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Scrappy Saturday

March is the month to use up your red scraps over at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge . I have a lot of red scraps because I am currently working on 3 different red quilts; Broken Dishes, Aurifil BOM and 150 Canadian Women.
This week I used a few tiny red scraps on two different projects:
1) I have been sewing tiny double nine patch blocks for my Omigosh quilt for a long time. This week I tried my first alternate block which is a shoofly variation. It is so adorable and I really can't wait to make more of these. 

Here are 4 of the red blocks ready to add to the collection. I was really happy when I saw how these blocks are going to work together.
This is going to be such an epic Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt!

2) I also sewed a little birthday cake for Temecula's 10th anniversary. They have shared so many wonderful projects over the years, and I wanted to be a part of their anniversary celebrations. So I made them a cake to become part of their signature quilt!
Click here for the pattern. You still have lots of time if you'd like to make a cake for them!
To see what other scrap quilters are making, hop over to the weekly link up.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Donation Quilt is Finished

My little quilting group finally finished their donation quilt for the 2017 Mennonite Relief Sale in May. We have been supporting this cause for over 10 years now and have raised over $2,000 from our collective quilting efforts. 
It's a long journey from picking a pattern, gathering scraps from the stashes of 5 very different quilters, sewing blocks, organizing a layout, sewing the quilt top together, quilting and binding it, and finally putting on the label.

The pattern is called "Warm Breeze" by Sarah Maxwell and Dolores Smith (finished size: 78" x 80"). It was published in McCalls Quick Quilts magazine and is available as a free download over at the Fons and Porter website - click here. This is a photo from when it was just a quilt top on the design wall. It's now a finished quilt sitting in a bag at the MCC office waiting to be auctioned in May. I was so nervous about getting it submitted before the deadline, that I forgot to take a photo of the quilting on the finished quilts. Hearts are hand quilted in the blue setting triangles.
We are already working on our next quilt for the 2018 auction. We have decided to start by compiling the blocks we collected on last year's July Shop Hop and see if we can make a quilt out of them.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Are you a Blockhead?

I am a self confessed "blockhead" as defined by Carrie Nelson:
Blockheadnoun block·head \ˈbläk-ˌhed\  A quilter who likes to make a wide variety of quilt blocks, who probably collects books filled with quilt blocks, who has lots of random quilt blocks but still wants to make more.
I have many varied collections of quilt blocks in my studio. Some of the blocks may become a finished quilt one day, but many may not. Is there a purpose to all of this block making? Yes! It keeps me sane and happy, and that is reason enough to start yet another block making project!
And when many of my favourite designers team up to make a scrappy quilt, which started on International Women's Day, of course I am all in!!
Click here to learn all about it. We're making only ONE block a week, from 5 pattern designers, for a total of 48 scrappy blocks. Let's do this thing!
Block #1 pattern is here.
My version of the block is in this bad photo taken late at night on my cell phone. It turned out okay in the end, but I cut the pieces wrong - twice! I read the top left instructions, which are for "layered patchwork" and use glue (*gasp*). That's not the instructions you want to follow. The traditional piecing instructions are on the top right. It took me a while to figure that out. And even when I had it figured out, I still used the top left instructions to cut it wrong... again. Lesson learned... no using a rotary cutter late at night!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Happy International Women's Day

March 8th is International Women's Day

I started celebrating early by attending a women's march last Saturday with one of my sisters. It was a sunny but very cold day, and we were happy to be part of efforts to raise awareness of the need for a more inclusive, gender equal world. Forecasts for gender parity are now at about a 170 year wait for Canadian women. 

Tonight I'll be celebrating the achievements of women by making a few more blocks for my 150 Canadian Women project. I love reading the histories of these inspiring women and what they have accomplished.
Here are my first 30 blocks.
51 block patterns have already been posted for this project, so I'm a little bit behind.

This was the most challenging block so far - a 6" card trick pattern. This history lesson was about Henrietta Tuzo the first Canadian woman mountaineer. If she can climb mountains, surely I can sew a little quilt block without complaining!

Happy International Women's Day! 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

One Monthly Goal

panel #3
According to the calendar March has arrived, and the first week is almost over! I cannot even believe that February passed without me making a single effort to work on my designated UFO of the month
Not one stitch. Nada. Nothing. 
I got totally distracted with other projects, and did finish my Valentine 9 Patch UFO from 2014, so I'm happy with that accomplishment. Also I attended a retreat, and perhaps had too much fun there, thus not doing the actual sewing and finishing of projects that I had intended to do! 
This weekend I got the backing pieced, and the batting cut, and have just started to pin baste the layers together.
Finally progress is being made!
Seriously, March is the month of International Women's Day and I really want my Votes for Women quilt to be a finished quilt. So, I'm making that my goal for another month yet again
To see the March UFO goals, hop over to the One Monthly Goal link up.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Design Wall Monday - 2016 Aurifil BOM

Aurifil BOM blocks
The 2016 BOM quilt layout was posted over at Pat Sloan's blog and I really like it. I finally got myself organized with the blocks pressed, a light and a red sashing fabric chosen, and got to work putting this quilt top together. 
I didn't organize the blocks in the order of pattern release by month, since I thought some of the blocks were a bit similar and needed to be more separated from each other. 

After deciding on the layout, the next task is to double border each block. I've almost finished bordering half of the blocks.

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

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party! If you need a reminder of the numerous benefits of stitching, click here. Slow stitching is good for your health, so give yourself a mid-winter boost and pick up your stitching project!
This week I finished the second last embroidery block for my Life is Beautiful project. To my surprise, I enjoyed stitching all those little strawberry seeds. And I'm ready to dive into the very last block.
1 year of stitches February
I've also been putting a few stitches in my "1 year of stitches" project. I lost interest in it in February when I realized I accidentally didn't stitch the colours in the correct order of the colour wheel. It should be purple violet on the left, then blue, and green. Remembering that the goal is to put stitches IN every day, not to berate yourself for doing it "wrong", and then take the stitches out, I eventually decided that it was just going to stay the way it was as an "object lesson" for me. Intuitive stitching is sometimes hard for perfectionists!
You can see some of the beautiful February embroidery projects at Brown Paper Bag

What are you stitching today?
Link up your blog post below and please share your slow and imperfect progress! 


    An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, March 03, 2017

Scrappy Saturday

The teal Mad City Mama block is finally finished. This is a pattern in Bonnie Hunter's book Adventures with Leader and EndersThis block involves a lot of scrap taming since it uses over 100 squares, 20 strips and 12 light triangle scraps. 

And here are the 7 blocks I've made for this project so far on the design wall. I notice that I forgot the light triangle corners in the orange block! I'll have to get the seam ripper out and insert those because I do like the definition that those triangles provide in the centre of the block.
The next colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is red, and of course this project does need a red block for sure.
To see what the RSC quilters are making today, hop over to the weekly link up

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Canadian Women Update

In December I started making blocks for the 150 Canadian Women quilt. In order to keep up with this project I should be making 3 blocks a week, but I got way behind over the holidays. It has taken me a bit to figure out how to organize this project, with downloading and printing the block pattern releases, gathering fabrics, then cutting and sewing all the pieces. 
As I'm sewing these blocks I enjoying reflecting on the life stories of these inspiring women. Some of the women are well known (to me) characters such as Nellie McClung, but others are women I have never heard of before such as Thérèse Casgrian, who ran for political office unsuccessfully at least 7 times! 7 times she tried, but never gave up, eventually becoming the first woman to lead a Canadian political party in 1951. Thérèse's story reminds us to never give up on our dreams!
Here are the first 15 blocks on the design wall in order of the pattern release. On the web page it looks like they have used a random layout but I have lots of time to consider that decision. There are 135 more blocks to sew!