Thursday, March 30, 2017

UFO of the month

I have had my nose to the quilting grindstone this week in an attempt to finish my March UFO. At the beginning of the month, the plan was to machine quilt one line of stitches straight down the middle of all the sashings, which would have been 12 straight lines. 
I quilted those lines, and then was inspired/obsessed to further quilt the sashing areas with a diamond design, which meant an additional 48 zigzag lines of quilting. 
Honestly, when inspiration hits, why isn't it ever something quick and easy?!?!

I learned this double diamond design in the Quilt Canada class with Melissa Marginet last year. Melissa has published a new resource book called Walking Foot Quilting Designs and it includes how to make this grid pattern. The pattern involves a lot of planning, measuring, and marking using a 30 degree angle. And then there is a lot of twisting and turning of the quilt to follow the lines, but I am so happy with how it's turning out. Everything is laying completely flat now, even some spots that were a little "puffy" before.
I really like how the sashing intersections look. I couldn't envision how that was going to turn out, but it's really cool!
However, this added quilting is taking so more time than I anticipated, and with all the twisting and turning of the quilt (which is getting heavier with every line of quilting that I add!) it has been hard on my shoulder joints. I can only quilt for a couple of hours at a time, and although I am trying hard to finish this quilt for the end of the month, it's iffy. If all goes well, the binding may go on tonight, and a March finish might be possible just under the wire tomorrow night. Such drama! I tell you, it's an exciting life I lead! *snort*

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday is Blockhead day

The 4th block will be posted for the new Blockhead sampler quilt today. Last week was a quick and easy variation of the ohio star block called 'Four X' and posted over at Jo Morton's blog. I am enjoying using up the reproduction fabric scraps that are left over from my Votes For Women quilt (which I hope to finish this week!!)

Here are the first 3 blocks for my sampler quilt. 

Buzz on over to block #4's an appliqued bee skep!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

QAYG method

My Votes For Women is in 3 quilted sections and is ready to join together into one big quilt. This blog post highlights some of the things I have learned about the technical challenges of using the "Quilt-As-You-Go" method of joining blocks or sections of a quilt together. A few years ago I took a fabulous QAYG class with Martha Schellingerhoud and she showed us 3 methods of joining the quilted sections by hand and/or by machine. This blogpost is not meant to be a tutorial for the technique, I am just sharing some tips that I have learned along the way. You can click here for a great step-by-step lesson with photos. I am not using the exact same joining method as shown in this link, but it's similar. 

1) For this method of joining, I do not quilt near the edge of the sections. I give myself at least 1" between any quilting and the edge of the quilt. See where the screw driver is pointing to? That is as far as I quilt until after the sections are joined.  Believe me, it will just be easier to handle if you join the sections the way I am with this quilt.

2) Trim all sections carefully - the backing, and the quilt top should all be exactly the same size. The batting will be trimmed 1/4" more by hand once the sections are joined. 

3) To join the quilted sections together, use lots of pins. You are joining two sections with right sides together and are only sewing the quilt top edges together. 
Pin the edges together and then pin the batting back and out of the way so you don't sew it accidentally. Pin more. Don't even attempt to join two large sections without pinning it to death. And then add 2 more pins! I guarantee that you will not be happy with how everything lines up (or not!) if you don't use all the pins you own.

4) Once the sections are attached, I lay the whole thing out on the table and trim any excess batting between the sections with scissors, being very very careful not to cut any fabric. I trim the batting in a slightly wavy line, which I like to think prevents the join from being too visible. I'm not sure if it effectively does that or not, but it's what I do. Then I hand stitch the batting together using a ladder stitch. When all of these steps are done well, the batting will lie flush and flat, with no gaps along the join.

5) The last step is to fold over at least 1/4" on the edge of one panel and hand stitch/applique it on top of the other panel, just as you would stitch a binding edge. I like to do this by hand so that there are no stitches on the front of the quilt from the join.

6) Once the seams are all finished on the back, then you can add more quilting. I plan to quilt all the horizontal seams from one side of the quilt to the other, which further holds all the batting sections together. And then I'll probably do more quilting... the blocks are heavily quilted, so the sashing will likely need more quilting.

Quilt-as-you-go is a construction method I enjoy since it allows me to do all my own quilting, even on the largest quilts. These are two of my other quilts I have finished using this technique - Swoon, and Scrappy Memories

Monday, March 27, 2017

Design Wall Monday

The design wall is covered with asterisk blocks today. I am almost out of those weird green background fabrics, so I need to figure out the setting for these fun blocks and get them turned into a finished quilt. I'm undecided about whether to keep the X blocks or make them all into asterisks. In the photo I really dislike the X on the left in the middle row. It might not make it into the quilt at all. Of course I'm loving the little asterisk blocks and want to make more of those. I took these blocks along to share with the Paris Quilters on Saturday.
We had a great day practicing how to construct a variety of improv blocks including asterisks (which were the group favourite), houses, and different types of letter blocks. I love a group of women who are fearlessly willing to try sewing anything, who tell inspiring and heart felt stories about their quilts and their quilty adventures, AND who also have a fantastic sense of humour!

We had so much fun and I was sad when the class was over and it was already time to pack up and go home. Here are some of the quilters who attended the class and you can see some of the quilts I brought to show various ways of constructing letter blocks.
These are the books and websites I recommended:
-"Word Play Quilts" by Tonya Ricucci
-"Out of the Box" by Mary Lou Wideman and Melanie McFarlane
-Patchery Menagerie blog by Lynne Tyler
-Asterisk Quilts by Karen Griska
-Temecula Quilt Co. baby letter quilt (not improv, but another fun way to sew letter blocks)
To see more design wall blog posts, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching/Resting

It's Slow Stitching Sunday - the day of resting, moving slowly, breathing deeply, and hand stitching. Resting is an activity, and is a verb. To rest means to "cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength" (Mirriam-Webster Dictionary). In past generations, people believed that resting was an essential element in a healthy, well balanced life. But now I often hear (and have believed) that resting is not valued. For many people rest = lazy, and it's something you only do on vacation once a year (unless you get completely burned out before then and your body makes you go on a forced leave!)

I have only learned the value of rest in the past few years, and realized that the ability to power down your brain, and let it heal itself is vital to wellness. Of course getting enough sleep is also important, but I'm talking about being able to be in a restful state while awake, to take a complete break from your activities and your worries, and to achieve a state of deep relaxation. 

The quickest way for me to accomplish total restfulness is by hand stitching. When I'm hand stitching, I am not thinking about anything else except where the next stitch is going. And I must pay attention to this task, because injuries are caused by inattentiveness. When I don't focus, I poke myself with the needle and bleed! 
I take deep breaths, I focus only on the next stitch, and I don't allow any worries to enter my mind. 
So every Sunday I am writing a permission slip for you (and me) to take some time to fully relax! You are not being lazy. Get out your hand stitching project and know that you are investing in your own wellness by relaxing and taking good care of yourself.
Here's the link up if you want to share how you are relaxing with your hand stitching today.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Scrappy Saturday

Major progress was made with the red scraps this week. I finished another Mad City Mama block (pattern from Bonnie Hunter's book Adventures with Leaders and Enders). 
Red was a fun colour to play with and I had many prints with little graphics that I could fussy cut. 
As soon as I took the photo, I could see that I forgot one of the light triangle corners. But it was easy to add in, and voila... here are the 8 blocks on the design wall.

WOW that's a lot of scraps!

Only one more block to go. 
What colour should I add?
Lime green?

To see more scrappy red projects, hop over to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge link up.

Friday, March 24, 2017

UFO Machine Quilting

My March UFO project is finally seeing some major progress this week. In truth, this project has really been my "UFO of the month" since last September - sad, but true!  The third and last panel of Votes For Women was pin basted the first week of the month and since then the quilting has been coming along well. 

First I put the walking foot on my sewing machine and stitch in the ditch to stabilize the edge of each block. 

Then I change to the free motion foot and make up a stitching design for each block that has the longest continuous line of quilting I can think of. It's a fun challenge to make a different design for each of the 14 blocks in the panel that I am quilting.
I anticipate being able to sew the three panels together next week, with a possible finish in sight. I am trying not to get too excited!