Friday, February 23, 2018

Retreat Report

Quilt Retreat 2018 is in the history books now. We have been retreating together as a group for over 10 years. All of the relaxing sewing time, the hilarious shenanigans, and the wonderful conversations with creative and wonderful woman have come to an end for another year. I will miss them so much since many of us only see each other once a year. 
Work space of an anonymous retreater!
It's probably a good thing that retreat is not longer than it is, because during olympic years we stay up way too late watching the coverage. And then we get up early and hit the sewing machines to work on our quilts. The thing that is missing is  s l e e p ! And a human can only operate for a limited amount of time on little sleep. 
In the next week I'll be showing updates for all the projects I worked on. Of course I started 3 new quilting projects while at retreat and here's the first one...

the Aurifil 2018 DOM. I completed their 2016 quilt in November and am happy with how that turned out - you can see it here. I really enjoy making complex blocks with many pieces and decided to start their 2018 project. Although I'm looking forward to making the January block, I had to skip to the February block because January's block requires a printed pattern which I didn't have at retreat. So I started with February's block which has 31 pieces. It is fun and easy to sew if you're organized and follow instructions well.

Here is the February block called Birch Ball by featured designer Scott Hansen. You can see many interesting versions of this block at the link up at Pat Sloan's blog. It looks like most people are going with the black and white idea for their sampler blocks.

When sewing the connecting corners, I always sew a second line to turn the cut off corners into HST blocks. I decided to save these each month and see what they might become. These are the leftovers from February's block.
Further project updates will be forthcoming after a brief nap!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Small, Smaller, Smallest Blog Hop

Carol is hosting a new blog hop in March featuring small projects no bigger than a baby quilt. I adore miniature quilts so of course I had to get in on that hop.
I have been making miniature quilts for more than 20 years and have amassed quite a collection. It might be true that I am a tiny bit obsessed with miniature quilts and in fact I taught miniature quilt making classes for quite a few years. This is a photo of a small pile of 50+ miniature quilts from my collection. I can tell just by looking at the binding which quilt is which. And I love them all! 

But of course for this special blog hop I have started a new project! I am planning to make a little quilt of 9 patch blocks made from 1" squares. The unfinished block is 2" but once it is sewn into the quilt it will finish at 1.5". I only need about 200 more of these little guys and I'll have myself the makings for a new quilt for the blog hop!

I hear you thinking you may have seen this on my blog before because I have been making little 9 patch blocks for my RSC version of Omigosh, but this is a whole new miniature adventure! My RSC Omigosh nine patch blocks are all one colour, but these blocks are totally and deliciously scrappy!

Click here to learn more about the Small, Smaller, Smallest blog hop which starts on March 5th.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Quilt Retreat

Nothing is on the design wall today because it's time for my annual winter quilt retreat! Once I get there, it's fantastic. However, preparing to get there is very stressful for me. I get myself in quite a state because ALL my projects want to come with me. But of course that is not possible. I know some quilters who are really chill, and only bring one or two projects to work on for 5 days. 5 whole days!

New olympic event - packing for quilt retreat
From the infinite list of my projects, I have to chose which ones I might want to work on this week. The list of projects going to retreat should include at less one item in each stage of development:
a couple of creative projects in the planning stages so you can consult with your friends, extra fabric that may be needed for projects that may be accidentally started while at retreat (usually need neutral yardage), projects to piece, one paper piecing challenge, at least one project that is pin basted and ready for machine quilting, some hand stitching activities including at least one embroidery and one hand quilting project, and there absolutely must be a quilt with a binding ready to hand stitch late in the evenings.

With my list in hand, I have been rummaging around in the UFO closets and sorting which projects qualify for retreat and which will stay home. And then I must ensure that I have all the tools, fabrics, patterns, threads, and any other supplies needed for each of the projects. 
It's exhausting.
Kevin reminded me in his latest blog post of this truth.
So true Kevin!

Retreat projects waiting to be loaded into the car

Once the torture of attending to all the details, making all the decisions, and organizing all the stuff is finally complete, then comes the hauling of said stuff into the car. Sure wish I knew a sherpa I could call! Here is the end result of all that effort. How many projects do you think I have there? Enough for 5 days?

And then the realization hits.... I should probably pack some clothes too!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to the Slow Sunday Stitching party! We meet here every Sunday to celebrate the art of all varieties of hand stitching. If it involves a needle or 2, and some thread/yarn/wool, and stitches taken with your hands, we want to know about it!
Last week I posted about the slow stitching olympics and it was fun to hear about your long time UFOs. We had many contenders, and Deb was definitely in the running with her hand pieced and hand quilted log cabin project from 1989. Way to go Deb!
And congratulations to all you slow stitchers who persist, who keep making progress and never give up. It's hard to maintain a vision and enthusiasm for a project over many years. You are inspiring!

This is the embroidery design I finished this week. This is one of the three January patterns for Gail Pan's Send My Love BOM. It took me 2 weeks to finish the flower on the right and the little bee. Oh well, slow progress is still progress.

What are you hand stitching today? Share your slow progress with us and link up your blog post below.


    An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fabric Sprays

Do you use any products to help with pressing your quilt blocks? I really like my blocks to lay flat since I do most of my own quilting and it really helps with reducing issues when the quilt is completely flat.
I've tried using a steam iron and had nothing but problems with the irons spitting, leaking, and staining my fabric.
Then I tried unscented and lavender Best Press Spray. This is a product that I really like and use almost every time I quilt. It is called a "starch and sizing alternative". 

When another product called Flatter was on sale, I thought I'd try it and see how it compares. This product is called a "smoothing spray" to relax wrinkles and freshen fabric. 
I tried it on my Ringo Lake blocks and it was okay. The Flatter spray pump was not as user friendly and the spray was more of a fine mist. I definitely preferred to use the Best Press spray bottle with more product coming out with each squeeze. And I do think my blocks were flatter with the Best Press.
And how do the prices compare here in Canada?
Flatter was $13.00 for 248 ml minus 30% on sale and Best Press was $11.50 for 473 ml. 
My only concern about the Best Press Spray is that the ingredients are not listed. I often wonder what's in this spray and why the ingredients aren't listed? 
There are lots of recipes on line to make your own version of a pressing spray, but at this point I am not motivated enough to try making my own. Also the recipes use Vodka, which I'd rather drink than spray on my quilts!

And speaking of drinking, it's Friday Night Sew In and some of my friends are coming over to sew tonight. It has been a long week, so I hope I can stay awake!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

True Confessions!

True confessions: I am in love with half square triangles.
Head over heels. 
Totally smitten. Can't get enough of them!
I discovered my HST enthusiasm in 1996 (read about it here) and have been "collecting" HST blocks ever since. Friends frequently pass them to me in baggies since apparently they are not beloved by everyone! But I love them... the friends and the HSTs!

Truthfully it's not often that these triangles actually get used in projects. Perhaps this is just a collection, like when stamp collectors collect stamps but don't actually "use" them for anything. They just admire the stamps and search for unique ones. Or perhaps it's just like my sewing machine collection. I don't use all the machines, but I like to have them to admire.

This week I am playing with some half square triangle blocks from a friend that were donated to my collection. I am sewing them together on my Singer 301, pressing and trimming them and think they will make a great border for a quilt that is developing in my mind. 

Okay readers... what are you loving today? Do you love/collect/hoard half square triangles? Do you think I am crazy (be gentle!)?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Enjoy filling your life with everything you love! 💕

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Midmonth UFO Report

Aurifil threads for machine quilitng
My UFO goal this month is to finish the quilt called Scrappy Friends. This was a New Years mystery designed by Quiltbug and I made my version in batiks from my stash. This isn't a very old UFO since it hasn't even spent a year or more in the UFO cupboard, but it is a bossy quilt and wants to be finished.

The quilt has been pin basted and quilting has begun. It will be quilted very simply using the walking foot. I almost always start a quilt making some horizontal and some vertical lines to stabilize the whole thing. I don't like to stitch in the ditch because it's boring, and I think that if I'm going to do all this machine quilting, I want to see it! And you can't see the stitching if it's hidden in a seam. However, sometimes a quilt needs it, so I force myself to do the "stitch in the ditch" part.  
If you dislike it too, Angela Walters has a blog post with 4 tips on how to hate stitching in the ditch a little bit less... click here to read it. 

So now on to the fun quilting... diagonal lines straight across both sides of the pink stars.
The binding is already prepared and waiting, so I am motivated to get the quilting finished.