Thursday, October 30, 2008

The elephant in the room....

I have been quilting my little fingers to the bone!
I am working on my Quiltaholics mystery quilt from this post and had a fun time with the thread audition, which is one of my favorite parts of machine quilting. I know that some quilters hate to change threads, but I get bored with the same colour of thread after a while...I like to change it frequently. I decided to use a different colour of thread for each section of the quilting and to try to make as many different designs as I felt inspired to quilt.
On the right is the centre elephant block. I made swirls on the orange elephant pieces because the fabric was swirly (and they are fun to quilt!) and did plain old stippling on the blue blanket and the gold background.
My favorite part of the quilting so far is the curves I quilted on the green edges of the blanket...that was fun and gives it some nice movement I think.
Then I had some fun deciding how to quilt the various borders. On the QST borders I quilted some loops. I did the top triangles, then moved down to the light gold squares and then to the bottom triangles without continuous line. That took a bit of figuring but it worked out well.
On the 1" blue and red sashing strips I just made a wavy line.
So far, so good...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Out of order??

It must be Halloween week!!
I just finished a new blog entry about my Wheel of Mystery quilt, but it was filed out of last Thursday...strange happenings!?!
And I mailed away my package to my blogiversary winner Sue on the weekend, and just noticed one of her gifts sitting on my cutting table...oh well, look for a second follow-up package Sue!!
And now...I'm back to quilting the elephant!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Feather Quilting Class

As some of my blog readers know, I have quite a pile of UFO's. Don't ask me how many because I have never ventured to count them. On occasion I make a list of 10 or 12 to work on, but haven't been brave enough to make a complete list for several years! Part of the problem is that I make more tops than I can quilt, and it is so expensive to hire out the quilting that I just didn't want to do it...I'd rather buy more fabric than pay for quilting. So the only alternative is to continue to do my own quilting. I was bored with my regular routine of stitch in the ditch and stipple, and have been trying to experiment with quick and fun designs. I love the spirals that I used on my husband's quilt (see this blog entry) and for the last year I have been practising to quilt various types of feather designs.
This afternoon I taught a group of adventurous quilters to try free motion feather designs on their quilts. Here they are with their practise pieces - Brenda, Lorelei, Gail and Judy.
We sure enjoyed quilting in the lovely new classroom area at Reichards which has a high ceiling, with lots of windows and natural light. Everyone got a great start on mastering the technique and I hope they continue to improve their confidence, to try more feather quilting, and believe it when I said that the key is practise, practise and more practise! Each time I have feather quilted I have enjoyed it more, and like the end result more.
I used my mystery quilt to demo how to quilt one type of feathered border and I am totally amazed that this quilt might be finished for my next guild UFO meeting! This is an amazing turn around time for has only been pieced for less than a month and hasn't had hardly any time to ripen!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Miniature Wheel of Mystery

My miniature "Wheel of Mystery" is finished!
By finished, I mean quilted, bound, and labelled!
It was really fun and I'm going to start at least 2 more variations on the theme. But you know me...that might not mean I actually finish those!
See this post to read about the beginning of the quilt. I appliqued the blocks using a fusible. Then I pin basted the quilt and stitched in the ditch of each seam line using King Tut thread, one of my many thread favorites.
Then I free motion quilted around each appliqued piece. After quilting the first block I noticed a little bit of fraying on the edges which I didn't like, so I put some "Fray Check" around each appliqued piece and let that dry before I quilted them.
For the border quilting, I just extended the curved lines from the blocks out to the edges. I just eye-balled this and it turned out OK, but I was wishing I would have taken the time to draw out the lines and it would be more accurate. Luckily the border is a busy print, and hopefully noone but me will notice that!! The lighting in this photo shows the quilting well but does not show the true colours of the quilt.
Yahoo...another quilt project finished!
Now back to quilting the elephant in the room!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

And the winner is...

I printed out all the names of my blog visitors on this blog entry, folded them up and put them in my Halloween candle holder. When my son came home he carefully picked out a name. Drum roll please...and the winner is....
Congratulations to Sue Cahill!
Sue has already emailed me her address and I'll get her fabric and chocolate packaged up and in the mail. Thanks again to everyone who played along!
Today I started teaching a 5 week class at the senior's centre in town. I really like to teach beginners and see their delight at making their first quilt! There were 8 ladies in this class and although they were very excited to learn something new, they were a little hesitant to believe my claims that they will actually be able to learn to make a quilt. One woman said she can't wait to see how I teach "this old dog to learn new tricks"! Stay tuned for future pictures to prove that I can!
On friday afternoon I am teaching a class at Reichard's on free motion machine quilted feathers...want to join in the fun?!?! This is my favorite way to quilt a border these's so quick and easy.
And I just have to show you these adorable little kittens that my daughter is helping to take care of. There was a litter of 4 motherless kittens dropped off at the vet's where she has her co-op placement (I am crossing my fingers and hoping that next year she will want to study veterinary medicine, which is close to home, as opposed to marine sciences, which is far far away from home!!!). Lucky for me she is totally in love with these babies!! I am very allergic to cats and have really noticed my difficulty in breathing since she started at the vets. I had to teach her to wash her own furry uniforms so I can still breathe!
Are they not the cutest things you have ever seen?!?! They are being bottle fed every 3 hours. I hope they will all be okay...the vet said the littlest one might not make it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Flurry of activity

Thank you to everyone who has entered my 2 year blogiversary draw and have written such complimentary comments...I appreciate your encouragement and am thrilled that you enjoy reading about my quilting adventures! If you haven't done so, you still have until Sunday night to enter the draw - click here.
It is a beautiful sunny autumn day here today and I took this photo at the park where my husband and I used to take long walks when we were courting over 25 years ago. This park is still looks as gorgeous as I remember it being then, even though at that time I was wearing my "rose coloured, falling -in-love" glasses!! Today I was wearing my "married 24 years bifocals" it was still breathtaking!!
We have family visiting from New Jersey this weekend to attend Oktoberfest celebrations. (You can click here to read more about this festival but turn down the volume on your computer because the music is loud!) It will be lots of fun, but not much time for sleeping or quilting! It is also my daughter's 17th birthday, and her school basketball team's tournament, so I'm quite sure that I do not have time for blogging today....but here I am!!
For a long time I have wanted to make a "Wheel of Mystery" mini quilt. Doesn't everyone keep a list in their mind of all the quilt patterns you would like to make "someday"?!?! This was at the top of my list! I love the secondary pattern and the movement in this design. I have often looked at this quilt kit and wanted to buy it. (You can see a very pretty red and white version of this design here.)
While I was working on my next BeAttitude BOM, I thought about using fusible web for making a quick version of this design. So I started with these 16 fall fabrics from a charm pack. I found the pattern on EQ, and oddly enough it was listed under the category of "Orange Peels"!?! I printed out the pattern and traced it onto fusible web. From each charm square I got one square for the background and 4 applique pieces. I sewed the background squares together and then did the applique one block at a time. The pieces were really small and it was fiddley but I enjoyed the process. While I was doing this, I got 2 more ideas for variations I would like to try...this always happens to me, and that is why my quilt studio is in the creative mess that it is!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Guild Meeting

Another lucky quilty day for me...I won two prizes at guild meeting tonight! The first prize was for being the ONLY person to have a quilt to 'show and share' at the meeting!
And the second prize was for the block I made from September's mixer partner and I each had to make a block using the orange fabric squares we were given at the September meeting and bring the block back to the October meeting. I used a block pattern from The Quilter's Cache which is a great website for hundreds of free patterns. I picked out a paper piecing pattern for a 6" block called "Fox and Geese". Somehow my block didn't end up looking exactly like the diagram, but close enough! The fabric square in the middle is from a 1/2 yard piece of fabric that my husband just brought back for me when he was in Vermont! I thought I could spare a tiny bit for a worthy cause!

I love paper piecing but don't you just hate the job of removing the paper from the back?!?! It's a mindless task that I do while watching TV, but I'd still rather be stitching than ripping!!
Anyway, my luck is going to be passed on to one of my blog readers. I am going to add one of my prizes to my Thanksgiving giveaway (see post here) so make sure you leave me a comment on that post to be entered in the draw. Here is the beaded point protector made by Jackie James that you can win in addition to the fabric and chocolate!
Note to Judy...I changed my blog settings so you should be able to enter an anonymous comment now! Don't want my faithful blog readers to be left out of the draw!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we are celebrating the Canadian Thanksgiving, and it is a gorgeous fall day outside. I plan to take a long walk this afternoon once the turkey is in the oven, the pies are baked, the vegetables ready, and the table set. We are having my parents and 2 of my nephews over for supper so that is only 8 of us altogether for me to feed. I might even have some time for hand stitching in the warm fall sunlight if I get all my work done quickly.
I missed celebrating my 2 year anniversary of blogging in September, so I am having a little giveaway now to combine that milestone and Thanksgiving! If you leave a comment on this post I will pick a lucky winner from all the names and will send out this fun package of 5 Fall/Halloween fat quarters and of course some chocolate treats. Happy Thanksgiving and a big thank you to my blog readers for all the fun, support and encouragement!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Maintenance time

I am on call for work today and hope it is quiet so I can just sew. If all goes well, I have big plans for some relaxing paper piecing. I have a 6" block to sew for guild meeting on Tuesday, and I'd like to sew the October BOM from Carol Doak's yahoo group.
But first, I have to do some maintenance on my machine since I've been working it so hard lately. I take the throat plate off and get some Qtips in there to get all the dust out. I know lots of people use "canned air" to clean their machines, but I have heard such mixed opinions about it, that I am hesitant to use it. See how dusty it was in there?!? And of course, I will change the needle, which I routinely do after every project that I machine quilt or after I've sewn a quilt top with lots of piecing.
And then, of course, my baby needs a drink, so I will oil all the little holes as instructed in my owner's manual. In my 8 years of running my Brother 1500 almost every day, it has never given me any grief, so I take really good care of him!
Have you tried the Best Press Starch alternative? Many of the quilt stores around here are selling this product now and I thought I'd give it a try. I bought a bottle of the lavendar scented starch and tested it when piecing my mystery quilt. I don't like when bulky seam intersections don't lay flat, so I tried this product on those spots and it worked like a charm. No white flakes on the fabric, and nice crispness on the newly flattened seams. It also comes in 'unscented' for those who have issues with that, but I enjoyed the lavendar scent - it was light and pleasant, not at all overpowering. I'm sure I'll get my money's worth out of this product. Have you tried it?!?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Mystery Quilt

Since I finished 2 quilts last week, I thought I deserved to start another UFO! So I joined in the fun with other mystery lovers at Quiltaholics this weekend to work on "Weekend Whatever #24". Designer Deb said this about the mystery quilt: "This is a very different design, and is really for kids...or the kid in you". And she was right!
Here is the centre elephant! It was fun to piece this little guy - he is made of 151 squares and half square triangles that measure 2" (finished)!
I wanted to make this quilt to donate to my guild's charity quilt program so I needed to make it larger than the size that Deb had designed (which was 52" x 48"). So I added a few more borders on the top and bottom and it came out to 55" x 69". Now it is a better size for a child's quilt. I was so happy to clear this fabric out of my stash! The blue outside border fabric I have had in my stash for a while...I remember buying it a long time ago at a fabric sale and it was the perfect fabric for enlarging this quilt. I look forward to quilting my elephant and just hope he does not slide into the UFO pile!

Monday, October 06, 2008

2 finishes!

I am pleased to report that I was able to meet my goal of finishing 2 quilts before the weekend. I just couldn't post this good news on my blog because my lovely son cut the phone line while cutting the grass! Of course it took a lot of investigation, a few phone calls to India (since that is where the Bell Canada employees are located!?!) and finally a service call this morning to determine the cause of the lack of phone and computer access...ugh! I am delighted to be back on the computer (the phone I could happily do without)!!
Here is my finished Kwik Scrappy Star (pattern by Two Kwik Quilters) and I am really pleased with how it turned out...and proud that I was able to finish it in record time! I bought the kit in May, sewed the blocks and top in July, then basted and quilted in September! I am also very happy that the quilt hangs flat against the wall.
Here are a couple of close up shots of the block quilting ...a light star and a dark star. The quilt will hang in my husband's office, and I found a really neat thing to hang above it. I'll show
you a picture of it when it is installed in it's new home.
And my second finish was one of my 6o degree series. You can see the first one here. I still have 2 more in a "semi sewn" state, and maybe yet another one to come since I just got another idea of a different never ends!!
I call this "60 degree series -Hexagonal Whirlygig." I quilted all the seam lines...boring stitch in the ditch, horizontal and diagonals, and then just echo quilted in the border. Here is a close up of the border quilting.
Not very exciting, but FINISHED!!
And on to the mystery quilt....

Friday, October 03, 2008

And still more machine quilting....

I have had such a bad cold this week that I didn't really feel like doing much, including quilting... you know I am really sick when I say that! I have managed to work away in little chunks of time toward my goal of finishing 2 quilts and I might just be able to do that by tomorrow. Here is a photo of auditioning threads to quilt the border of one of my 60 degree series quilts. I'll post a photo when it's completely done...and by that I mean when the binding is finished and the hanging sleeve and label are on.
And I have finished the machine quilting on my Kwik Scrappy Stars quilt. (You can see the quilt top here.) I took a close up photo of the back so you could see the quilting, because I enjoy when other bloggers show their quilting. I did a spiral out from the centre of each star and then swirls out to the star points. Then I quilted the swirls all around each of the 12 stars. In the small inner border I did a line of swirls/waves, and finally on the outside border, just a meandering stitch around the stars on the print of the fabric .
Tonight I plan on sewing down the bindings, hanging sleeves and labels.
I have my fabric all ready cut for the Quiltaholics mystery starting tomorrow morning. If I feel well enough, I'll sew along with the group.