Saturday, April 30, 2011

Scrappy Saturday - Purple

The sun has finally come out and it is 15 degrees today. You would think that everyone had been forced to leave their homes - everyone is out walking, raking lawns, and driving to the local nurseries to buy garden seeds and flowers. It has been a really long winter!
This week I have been putzing around in the quilting room, not really accomplishing much it seems. One evening I went over to Judy's house to cut 75 fabric kits for the Mennonite Relief Quilt Auction.  (To see some of the fabulous quilts that will be for sale - click here.)  These kits will be sold at the auction in May, and the blocks will be collected to make into a quilt for next year's auction. To see the basket quilt they auctioned last year (from the kits sold in 2009) click here. The theme for this quilt is flowers, so I am contemplating trying out my new applique skills.
This week I've been mostly preoccupied with the royal wedding.  I got up at 5 am on Friday and searched until I found a TV channel with no talking and no commercials, just watching the events as they occurred in real time. I was delighted that my daughter got up with me and we enjoyed every bit of the coverage. My maternal grandmother was born in England and her family emigrated to Canada when she was a child, so perhaps that explains why I have been captivated by the whole thing?
I did not accomplish as much this month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I really wanted to work on this UFO, but didn't pick it up all month.  I sewed a couple of purple words for my virtues quilt and a few purple blocks were made for my crumb quilt. This week I sewed a purple border around some very colourful blocks donated to the guild comfort quilt project, so now it's ready to quilt.
But I didn't really put much of a dent in my purple scraps :(
However, the month is over now and it's time to move on to a new colour...what will it be? You have to check out the scrappy blog tomorrow to find out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April UFO Finished

I am so excited that I finished a UFO before the challenge deadline! This is not a good photo of the quilt, but this is my finished Kaleidoscope.
Last month's finish was a little late due to some free motion challenges, so this month, I went for a quick and easy straight line, stitch-in-the-ditch boring but easy quilting design!
Because my Kaleidoscope quilt was calling out to be quilted next, I did some creative redesigning of my UFO wish list and made it the number of the month. (I don't care the order in which they are finished, I just want to make some progress on the pile!)
This was actually a fairly quick turnaround time for a UFO at my house...started in November and finished the following April!

Here is a photo of the backing fabric which is from the guild's stash.
And this is a photo of the binding to show how many different scraps I used up to make it all the way around the quilt!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Design Wall Monday #17

On my design wall this morning is my guild's mystery quilt used with permission from Sindy Rodenmayer.
It is a pattern from Fat Cat Patterns, but I don't see it on the website anymore (she has some really cute Easter Applique designs posted now, and she has some amazing applique patterns).
This is one of her older BOM patterns, but I did not use the sashing/border directions as outlined. I am also making a chocolate version of this same pattern and you can see some of those blocks on this old blog post. I only have 2 more friendship star blocks to sew for the bright version, and then I can attach the borders.
Do little things bother you when you are making a quilt?
This is a comfort quilt to donate to the local hospital and I don't have to see it ever again once it's donated, but I sure do fuss around as if it will be a lifelong treasure that I have to look at every day! For example, these 2 corner star blocks with the Laurel Birch cat centers were bothering me from the above photo.
So I exchanged the centre squares to see if I like that better...and I like it much better!

Now what don't I like?
I didn't like that bottom right block because I used a different dotty background fabric when I ran out of the purple dots. But since then I have tracked down a fabric that is a reasonable likeness and so that block had to be fixed. I separated it from the other blocks, removed the offending borders and put new HST's around...ahhhhh, much better! You can clearly see (click on the photo to make it bigger) the 2 different background fabrics in this block, but I'm much happier with it.
I am loving the colours in this quilt and the fact that I only bought background fabric and the rest is all made from scraps. And if I'd stop re-making the blocks, I could get the whole thing done!
If you haven't entered the draw for my mini bowtie quilt, click here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Scrappy Saturday - Purple

I'm late in posting my Scrappy Saturday post...I didn't actually sew anything on Saturday this week, since we were celebrating my mother-in-law's 86th birthday. But I did work play this week with my purple scraps for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge and I also started a new project...whoops!
The inspiration came from LeeAnn at Nifty Quilts when she posted her new project on the UnRuly Quilting blog.  She is making a word quilt, based on the Virtues Project. I was looking for a project to practice making letters from Tonya's book Word Play Quilts which I got for Christmas, and this seemed to fit the bill perfectly!
I decided to combine this project with the rainbow scrap challenge and got out my purple scraps. Then I checked the list of virtues and picked out some of the shorter/easier words. This word seemed to be the easiest one to start with, and the perfect word to post on Easter Sunday!
I decided to select the background fabrics from my collection of dotty fabrics, and tried my second virtue (with the Canadian spelling, which generally follows the British spelling!)
These were fun words to sew and I am always amazed that the process outlined in Tonya's book actually produces words - like magic! It's a great start to my virtues quilt. I don't know how many words I'll sew, or how big the quilt will be. I'm sure I won't make all the words in purple, but am very happy to have used up these purple scraps. To check out what other quilters are sewing with their purple scraps, hop over to SoScrappy's blog.
Today I will be sewing star blocks for the border on this are a few stars made from my purple scraps:

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to everyone who is celebrating this event today! My kids are a little old to force to participate in the hunt for easter eggs, but I do it anyway! They complain and resist, but I hope that deep (very deep) down inside, they appreciate my efforts to make it special.
And I want to make it special for you too, so I am having an Easter giveaway for one of my lucky blog readers.
I made this tabletopper  to give as a "thank you for reading my blog" gift. It is 8 1/2" and is made from 3D bowtie blocks. It used up all some of my smallest plaid scraps.

I really liked the way the quilting  made the bowties pop up!

You can put a candle in the middle and use it as a candlemat.

Or you can use it as a jar mat and put all your little jars on top of know, the tiny jars that you use for storing dog ears and buttons?
(Thanks to Nancy for donating these cute jars for my collection!)

It doesn't come with the easter eggs because unfortunately, they are all eaten now :)
Just leave a comment and I'll enter your name in the draw.
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Indian Orange Peel (IOP) Update

It's Good Friday here and everyone has a long weekend (well, not me, but most people!) so I thought I'd tackle the dreaded IOP!
At the Indian Orange Peel class in March,  I finished 1 block, which I worked on all afternoon. I re-sewed the corners so many times that the fabric was fraying, and it's all batik! Since then, my blocks have been sitting on my design wall....just sitting, taunting me.
I have changed the arc placements a thousand times and am not feeling any more settled with the arrangement than when I started. I have spent more time with the layout on this quilt than any other in 20 years of quiltmaking!
Last week I got some great tips from other quilters about how to stop procrastinating my Indian Orange Peel project. I could feel it inching closer to the very crowded UFO closet!
In her comment on that blog post, Judy said she really wanted me to make 1 block just to show her, so I did! It didn't make me cry like the first one did and my 28 points on the curves turned out okay!  I only resewed 2 of the corners, and 1 of the corners still has a little pleat/pocket (at the place where my stork scissors are pointing) but I'm not doing it over again, because that is when the crying might start :)
2 blocks done, 23 to go!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Novelty Fabrics

Pat Sloan has a new book out called "What a Novel Idea!" and is celebrating with a fun blog hop - click here to find out the details and leave comments for the chance to win a copy of her book.  It got me thinking about my novelty prints. I don't have a lot of them because I learned early on that I won't use them! They will sit in a box and once in a while I will visit them and then put them back in the box...what good is that?!?!
I pulled out a couple of my favorites to visit and to show you...
The older I get the more I love Maxine, and I have several pieces of Maxine fabrics. I plan to make aprons someday! (Yes, I do!)
I also love the Zits cartoon so if you see of that on fabric, let me know!

On the right is a Mary Engelbreit panel that someone gave to me and I plan to make pillows for my daughter and myself. (Yes, I will so!)

I love fabrics with words on them and have a small collection going. On the left are 2 of my favorites. (Pretty sure I won't use these fabrics, but they are so fun to visit!)

Here is a fabric collection I started last year...novelty prints for a quilt for my teenage son, who is an accomplished guitarist.  This is actually why I need this get some inspiration for putting these fabrics together in some kind of interesting design that would show them off and not be too busy/overwhelming.
So what I said at the beginning of the post about leaving comments on the blog hop to win Pat's book, forget I said that...don't leave any comments, so I have a better chance to win the book!! (*wink*)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

UFO Challenge Report

In spite of having a headache yesterday, I have finally finished my March UFO!
I realized as I looked at it today that once I am able to forget about the machine quilting struggle I had, I will fondly remember this quilt, because it does hold many happy memories. I bought the kit at Hancock's on a fabulous once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paducah in 2009, I pieced the first blocks on my 25th wedding anniversary getaway in 2009, and finally finished the quilt top in July 2010.

I started the free motion quilting in March as part of Judy's UFO Challenge and 6 weeks's done!

This was a fun block to sew and I can totally see myself making a scrappy version some day. If you'd like to try that, you can still download the free pattern from the Robert Kaufman website - click here.
Here is a photo of the very boring, quickly pieced (from stash fabric) can see the hanging sleeve at the top and the label at the bottom, so it is truly finished...woohoo!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Design Wall Monday #16

On my design wall today is a group project from my quilt guild.
In January I got the crazy idea to cut up the donated plaid fabrics, and make the pieces into Bonnie Hunter's  Nine Patch Split - to read about it click here. The block kits were given out to unsuspecting guild members and the finished blocks were returned last week. I made 2 of the blocks to test the pattern, 2 blocks need a little reconstructive surgery, and 2 blocks are MIA. But that's OK...I'll track down the missing ones,  and fix the boo boos, and soon we'll have a really cool quilt top! I love the orange plaid and have some leftover for part of a border.
Bonnie taught this project recently in New York - click here and scroll down to see many variations of this block pattern.
If you want to see what other quilters are working on this week, click here and go to Judy's blog...lots of eye candy and inspiration to get your week off to a quilty start. I'll be starting my week by finally finishing my March UFO...just sewing on the hanging sleeve, label and binding! I hope to post it tomorrow!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Becky Goldsmith Class

Last night my quilt guild was lucky enough to host a lecture by Becky Goldsmith of Piece 'O Cake Designs - click here to read her blog. It was very inspiring and I particularly enjoyed how she showed the development of one of her quilts from beginning to end, and explained her process for selecting colours and fabrics. I took this photo during her slide show in a dark auditorium and am amazed at how well it turned out.
Today was a cold and rainy day...just perfect for enjoying my third hand applique class (the first two were landscape projects).

This photo shows Becky's teaching set up, with a video camera over her working area, which is projected onto the large screen, so that every student could easily see every step of the lessons she taught.

I must say that this is one of the most challenging things I have tried to learn in quilting so far...yes, way harder than machine quilting for me! I love hand work, especially beading and hand embroidery, but man these pieces were small and it was tricky! There is a particular way to hold the fabric and the needle in order to get the nicest stitches and to inflict less strain on your hands. This is a photo of my hands trying to improve my technique. Oh, and the ginger cookie was helping my technique also!

The pins were pretty much microscopic! My regular silk pin is on the left, in the middle is one of the applique pins I purchased, and on the right is the 1/2" proper applique pin to use.

This is Becky's block that we were trying to learn.

So far I have finished one leaf, and one little stem.  My second stem doesn't join up to where it is supposed to so I guess I'm taking that one off and moving it to the left about 1/2"!
It doesn't look like much to show you for all my effort, but there were a lot of steps to get to that point, as I guess you know if you do applique.

I'm still not sure if I could love this or not...I think I would need to work with it quite a bit more and see if it becomes relaxing at some point!

I have to say that Becky's applique and machine quilting is the most beautiful I have ever seen and it was thrilling to see close up. On the right is a photo of the back of her quilt, and shows how she quilts around the shapes and fills in every space with quilting.

On the left is a close up of her amazing stitching and just look at those tiny circles. I'm tackling those next....yikes!

Friday, April 15, 2011

New books - New class

Last night I was in St. George to do a trunk show of my quilts for the Brant Heritage Quilter's Guild. I forgot to take my camera to get a picture of the guild, but it was a wonderful group of quilters and I greatly enjoyed seeing their quilts and visiting with them.
One of the best things about the evening was the book sale. The books of Jessie Barker were being sold and I was able to purchase 2 books.  Jessie Barker was a wonderful quilter and was voted "Teacher of the Year" by the Canadian Quilters' Association in 1996. Jessie was one of the first quilters (outside of my own guild) that I met... I think she was at every quilt show or quilting event I attended for many years! She was so encouraging to me as a new quilter and it was a delight whenever I crossed paths with her.
I now own Jessie's engraved copy of the classic "Quiltworks across Canada" and a copy of the out-of-print book "Liberated Quiltmaking" that I had been searching for. I love this book! The text is so entertaining and so well written, and the book is full of photos of gorgeous quilts. Can't wait to read it cover to cover!
Today I am getting ready for a lecture tonight and a class tomorrow with Becky Goldsmith from Piece O' Cake Designs. She is coming all the way from Texas, and stopping in Canada on her way to France! I am so excited and can't believe I am actually taking a class to learn how to properly hand applique! I kind of hope I don't fall in love with yet another great quilting technique! I better not forget to take my camera along!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Machine Quilting

I'm all about the quilting this week and trying to get some of these projects out of my "to-do" pile... oh yah, and trying to avoid the IOP!
I pin basted and started the "stitch in the ditch" quilting for the Arrowhead quilt, made from the Quiltmaker block pattern - click here.  I have no explanation for why this UFO has jumped the queue for quilting, since it is #9 on my UFO wish list and it's number has not been pulled just would not wait patiently for it's turn I guess!
I am using a varigated YLI for the top thread and "The Bottom Line" by Superior in the bobbin. The batting is Warm and Natural which is my favorite machine quilting batting,  and the combination of these threads, fabric, and batting is perfect. This is a photo of my Brother sewing machine... it is purring along happily!
However, I am also still working on my UFO from last month, which I wrote about last week (click here if you missed that frustration). My machine was not liking the combination I was trying to work with on my March UFO project.
I am taking to heart some of the suggestions that were left in yesterday's comments about tackling disagreeable tasks, and am trying Ann Marie's and Kate's ideas to tackle a few minutes of the project I am struggling with before I work on the project that is fun. I have all the bad quilting unpicked and am re-quilting the remaining blocks. I have the binding standing by, encouraging me to finish the quilt....I am so close to being done. And then I will work on the IOP and try Judy's suggestion of just making 1 block so she can see it :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Questions and Answers answer some questions from yesterday's comments about the Ladies of the Evening class:
1) yes, we do take home the tools/rulers and the price is very reasonable or I wouldn't be able to go.
2) the ruler is a little tricky to catch on to, but it's so clever and the instructions that come with the ruler are great. I especially liked the pictures that showed each step of the process for both left handed and right handed quilters.
3) the quilts were all the same, but we picked our own colour from the choices of blue, green or red. Here are 2 of my friends with their blue versions...notice how they placed their blocks in the opposite directions?
If you live close enough to take a class with Deb at Reichard's I just got an email saying that she was going to offer this project as a class on June 21st or 25th although it's not listed on the website...just give her a call to sign up.
That was the question part of this on to the answers. Can you give me some suggestions for how to stop procrastinating the IOP?? I am scared of tackling those curved seams again. I haven't touched it since the class and struggled with the first block for most of that afternoon and still didn't get it right. The teacher said the first block would make you cry, and then each one would get easier until you wonder why it used to seem so hard! Answers anyone?!?! Last year I bribed myself to finish a project and it worked - click here to read about it.  How do you force yourself to work on a project you really want to finish but are reluctant to work on?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Design Wall Monday #15

On Friday night I attended the "Ladies of the Evening" class at Reichard's. I just love this enjoy a potluck supper and conversation with other quilters, and then our teacher Deb Beirnes gives you a wonderful project to sew. She does all the work - she picks the project and the fabrics, she does all the math and gets any tools you need, AND she cuts and organizes all your pieces!
Here is my package of goodies waiting for me!
What more could a quilter ask for at the end of a long week...all you have to do is sit down and sew and enjoy yourself!
So this is on my design wall today. Just have to add the borders, then quilt and bind. It is a tabletopper size and the blocks are 6" finished.
Deb taught us a new method to make the Hunter Star blocks using the Rapid Fire Hunter's Star ruler by Deb was a quick and fun method.
To see other design walls click here to hop over to Judy's blog.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Purple

OH my goodness...where did the week go?!
It's Saturday already, and time for a Rainbow Scrap Challenge posting.  Each month I have been piecing together small scraps in the colour of the month...this month is purple (click here to see my green blocks from last month).
I am using a technique that might be called "liberated quiltmaking", or "crumb piecing", or "Gee's Bend style", or "crazy patchwork".
Whatever you want to call it, it is F U N and at the end of the year, these 6" blocks are going to become a very colourful rainbow quilt!
Click here to see what other quilters are sewing for their rainbow scrap challenge.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Moody Quilter

Are you a moody quilter??
I find that I have to be in a certain frame of mind to be able to tackle some quilty tasks, such as anything requiring math, attaching borders, making design or layout decisions, or learning new skills. This week I have not been able to do any of these things. Work has taxed my brain and I needed something really easy to sew.
So I got out my mini storm at sea project (Flynn laser cut kit) that I had put away in March (click here to read about that). This week I finished all the 1" (finished) square in a square blocks and can now move on to the rectangles and the larger 2" (finished) blocks.
That was just what the DR. ordered... some relaxing, easy, meditative sewing.
Ahhhh, I feel better already!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

You can't do everything...

One of my Mom's favorite sayings:  You can "do it all", just not all at the same time!
I want to do it all in quiltland.
Almost everything I see is inspiring and wonderful, and I want to start everything. But I am trying to be more sensible about the projects I start these days because all my storage space is full of UFO's. I either need to buy a new house and sign up for the "Hoarders" show, or make some changes LOL!
This is the list of recent projects that I just couldn't do, even though in most cases I have a fabric plan all dreamed up...
Amy's Raven Stars quilt along
Thelma's Eventide quilt along
Lori's Midnight Stars Doll quilt along
Tea's Quiltmaker's 100 blocks sew along
Judy's National Quilt Day project
Lee's Supernova quilt along

One of my projects, the  Layer Cake Quilt Along is coming to an end.
I have recently made 2 more blocks. On the right is block #10 ("Fresh Flower") which ended up to be a strange /scrappy version of the posted pattern.
On the left is block #11 ("E-ccentric") which brings in more orange, which I think my project needs. I had to piece together some scraps to get the necessary pieces for this block too, but I think it is quite cool.
The last block pattern is now posted and the layout will be posted on Thursday, so you know what that means...this quilt will soon be finished (and by "finished", I mean a quilt top) and I can start a new project!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Design Wall Monday #14

Do people give you bags full of either cut off corners, or sewn HST's that look something like this? Someone (Marjorie fessed up!) gave me this bag at retreat and I have had such fun playing with these as a leader/ender project.
First I pressed them all and squared them up to 2" HST's. Then I started sewing them into pinwheel blocks (on the right), but made a couple of blocks incorrectly including some that ended up to be "broken dishes" and one other unusual variation (bottom of the right hand column).
Then I saw Julie's gorgeous project - click here, and decided that "broken dishes" was the way to go. The blocks in the right hand column will now be ripped apart and resewn.
Here is a photo of my design wall today playing with some possible layouts.
What do you think? Any suggestions?
Check out other design walls shown on Judy's blog - click here.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Purple

Purple is one of my favorite colours and is the colour of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.
I am going to treat myself to sewing up some of these purple scraps today.
And I have 3 other ongoing projects in the back of my mind to work on with purple fabrics this month...woohoo!
The first one up is my quilt-as-you-go with a scrappy purple backing seen in the photo on the right. To see the front of the quilt click here.
The UFO project of the month is #4, so I am going to switch up my UFO Wish List and make this Quilt-as-you-go #4 to kill 2 birds with 1 stone (very weird saying, isn't it?!? but you know what I mean!)