Friday, January 31, 2014

Always Home

I finished another quilt top this week. It is a pattern from Country Quilts called "Always Home". It used up a lot of small pieces from my plaid stash. Although the pattern has all the windows being dark, I made some of the windows light. I'm not sure if this detracts from the overall design, but it makes me happy.
I began this project in December of 2012 when I used to take the bus to work.  I loved riding the bus and enjoyed using this time for stitching (and people watching). But some bus drivers are better than others, consequently some of the drives were very bumpy! So that is the reason I'm giving for the poor quality stitches! It reminds me of those interesting bus rides on the way to a job I loved, so I'm keeping the stitches as they are. 

However I did touch up some of the stitching with my permanent Pigma marker. I just coloured in the spaces between the stitches to make them look a little more continuous.

I have even cut and prepared the binding so it is ready to go.  Now I will pin baste and get this quilt ready for some hand quilting. I love hand quilting plaid homespuns :)

Country Quilts is a great resource for wonderful patterns, and I really enjoyed making this wallhanging. But I must say, this is not a beginner project! There are a lot of small pieces in building these houses, and for me it was sheer delight, but beginners would probably give up on quilting all together if they tried this pattern!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Accessories for "Sweet Baby Jayne"

My "Sweet Baby Jayne" Featherweight told me that she needed some accessories to help maintain her pristine condition. So I made a little bag to hold the foot pedal and cords when she is in her box. It was tricky figuring out how to get the ribbon  through the top, but it all worked out okay in the end. 
The ribbon came on a package of squares I bought last summer and was perfect for re-use as the tie for this bag. 
(Hmmm wonder where those squares are?!?)

Here is the bag with the foot pedal inside, and tucked into the harp of the machine as it is stored in her box. 
So cute, and safe from scratches.

Happy now "Sweet Baby Jayne"?
What's that?
Now you want a quilted mat for the bottom of the box?
Oh my goodness, what a diva! 
Yes... I know she is old (she just turned 50 this year!) and the storage box is hard :)

So, I opened up my selvage drawer (yes, I save those too!) and pulled out some selvages of recently used fabrics to make a little mat for her.
Sweet Baby Jayne does not like to work too hard and is much too dainty to do the heavy quilting jobs, but my Blue White is perfect for those jobs. She just plowed through quilting the layers with no trouble at all, even without a walking foot. It strikes me as really funny that I am sewing accessories for the dainty machine's comfort, using another heavy duty, hard working machine ;)
 The selvage mat is just the right size to sit under the featherweight while sewing, and it fits perfectly into the bottom of the box for storage.
She better be happy now or I might have to change her name from "Sweet Baby Jayne" to "Princess Crabby Jayne"!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Super Sewl Sunday

This coming weekend is Super Bowl Sunday, but I'm calling it "Super Sewl Sunday". There is a mystery quilt being offered on Sunday over at QuiltBug and I have picked out some unorthodox choices for my fabrics. 
The pattern calls for shades of black and grey. No can do! 
I need some colour to brighten up this dreary winter, so I am going to go bright and sunshiney instead. 
The amount of fabric required does not seem like enough for a 50" square quilt, but the pieces are fairly large (for me) so I hope it works out okay. I love my fabric choices and I can always make the quilt larger since I will have lots of yardage left over.
I have invited some friends over to sew...  weather permitting.  And, our half time show will be even more amazing than that football one is!! LOL
Are you joining in the Super Sewl Sunday mystery??

Monday, January 27, 2014

Design Wall Monday - Spools

On the design wall today is my spool collection, which is over 200 blocks now. This was the leader/ender project over at Quiltville in 2012 - click here for the instructions. If you want to see what other quilters made with their spools, you might want to check out the "spool review" link up post. 
I was a little late in starting my spools, but better late than never, I suppose! Now I am making up for lost time and loving this project. It uses 1.5" scraps, which is the perfect size for the small leftovers that I seem to have in abundance.

I am only sewing these as leader/enders in between other blocks and seams that I am sewing. 

I always have a stack of blocks sitting beside my machine cut out and ready to sew. It is a great way to make a "free" quilt! I learned about this from
Bonnie Hunter, and she is writing another book about leaders/enders, which I think is being released this spring.
Each month I focus on sewing up scraps that are the colour of the month at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, so we haven't done orange, green, pink or purple months since I started making these spool blocks. I will be adding a lot more to my collection as the year goes on.
To see more design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Slow Stitching Sunday - Loving Hands

I have been noticing my hands this week, because in this cold climate at this time of year, my skin is so dry and my nails have mostly broken off from snow shoveling and ice scraping...they are a mess! The snow continues to fall and it is bitterly cold. This is how deep the snow was yesterday...  we just shoveled a little path through. It was up to my daughter's knees! 
Even though I torture my hands, they keep on sewing for me and I know I should take better care of them. Hand stitchers know that we can't do anything without our hands. They are instruments of our creativity, to work with our tools, fabric, threads, and beads, and turn them into something we love.
This past fall I participated with some of my friends in a course by Brene Brown called "The Gifts of Imperfection".
It was a terrific course and I really enjoyed the learning and creativity. One of the exercises was to write on your hand "I am enough" or another meaningful positive statement. I love this picture of the hands of my friends, and the memories it brings to mind. 
As you are using your hands this week, remember to appreciate them and all that they do for you! And take good care of your hands, so you can keep on stitching!
Today I am finishing up the binding on a pair of oven mitts that I started as a Christmas gift a year or two ago. They were really a pain to make and I was struggling to finish them, and just gave up. I found them again in my clean up efforts this week, and today I plan to finally finish them.
What are your hands making today? Link up your hand stitching blog post below and if you want to, share how you take care of your hands so they are in tip top shape for stitching. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Scrappy Saturday Blues

Snow and wind caused the cancellation of my winter retreat with my friend last night. It was perfect quilting weather, but when the highways are closed, you are stuck at home. So I had to quilt by myself. Boo :(
I will console myself with all the progress I made with my scrap challenge block production. 

Here are the newest Omigosh blocks made from 1" strips and squares - the smallest bits from the scrap bin. I don't know why I made an orange block! But I did, so there it is in the middle of all the blue blocks. Maybe I just needed to see some sunshine in amongst all that blueness?

I cut any scraps that are 1.5" or a bit bigger into 3" spool block components. Here are my latest spool blocks. I am sewing them into groupings of 4 which makes a 6.5" block.

All the batik scraps go into a different container, and the smallest ones get cut into pieces for my 2.25" Alamo Star blocks. Here are the 6 blue stars I made this month, sewing them as my leader/ender project.

I have had some fun with the block patterns that Angela has been posting. This week I added 2 versions of the block called "54 40 or flight". It is the same pattern as one of the blocks in the Celtic Mystery, so of course I was challenged to try it in half the size. 
Hop over to SoScrappy and enjoy all the scrap postings!

Friday, January 24, 2014


I am making some progress on my Celtic Solstice mystery quilt from QuiltvilleThese are the 25 Block B's. Yum!
I am getting this project all organized to put the top together when my friend Louise comes to visit this weekend. Louise is a dear friend that I met in 1990 and she was the very first quilter I ever met! She convinced me that I too could be a quilter, she encouraged me to buy a sewing machine, and my life has not been the same ever since. I blame her!
For almost 25 years we have tried to get together at least once or twice a year and this weekend is our annual winter visit. We are going to sew and talk and eat and sew some more for as long as she can stay... can't wait!

Tonight is the first official FNSI for 2014... did you sign up? It's not too late - click here. I will likely be sewing border blocks for Celtic Solstice.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sewing in the Sun

The sun made a brief appearance today, so I just had to sit in it's rays and sew for a bit. I didn't seem to accomplish much sewing but it sure felt good to soak up a little vitamin D. 

I enjoyed stitching time with my featherweight.
It was around minus 18 degrees outside this afternoon, so it's best to stay indoors and sew!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mid-Week Clean Up

I have been cleaning in the quilt studio. Don't be alarmed! It seems that there is an optimum range for having fabric out where I can see it... too much is overwhelming, but too little seems to hamper the creativity! 
Mostly I am trying to clear surfaces of fabrics from projects that I worked on last year. Every piece needs to be either with the project it belongs to, or it needs to be in the closet, or in a scrap bin... but not on the cutting table! 
It has been very helpful to get a grip on organizing ongoing projects. I am clearing away all the fabrics I don't need to have out right now.  As I am clearing, I have been cutting as many scraps as I encounter into useable pieces. Some of these pieces are blue scraps to make into blocks that Angela has posted.

And some are for more spool blocks, which are my favorites! Here I have a pile of civil war scraps, a pile of random colours, and a pile of blues that I hope to finish up before the end of January.
It feels good to be getting the quilt studio more organized, but the desire to start a new project is getting stronger. I am staying focused so I can finish up a couple of quilts. And I want to have a project ready to machine quilt as soon as I get my sewing machine back from the shop.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Design Wall Monday - Civil War

My finished Civil War quilt top is on the design wall today!
I started this quilt in January 2011 (a project on Barbara Brackman's blogand the quilt top is sewn together in January 2014... only 3 years in the production stage!
I managed to get the striped border going the way I had envisioned and that involved a lot of figuring and stripe matching. But I love how it turned out and I think it looks very Civil War'ish, so the struggle was worth it!  I love the border stripe (purchased at Quilter's Nine Patch) which is a print from Barbara Brackman's fabric line called "Homefront". You can read her post about Civil War striped fabric here.

I also have the backing sewn together from reproduction fabrics that I have collected in my quilt shop travels over the last 3 years. It's a mish mash of interesting things related to the Civil War, plus 4 leftover blocks that didn't make the cut for the front of the quilt. 
Soooo exciting to get this project to this stage. Next step is machine quilting, and you will never guess who has agreed to quilt this for me?!? Stay tuned to this blog station for the big reveal when the quilt is finished!
Finishing this quilt top was my January project for A Lovely Year of Finishes, and I'm so happy to finally accomplish this.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Slow Sunday Stitching - Hand Stitching Patterns

Don't you love free stitching patterns? 
Many people I know (who shall remain nameless!) are more of a stitching enthusiast and pattern collector, than a stitcher. They admire the projects and talk about making it someday, buy or print off the patterns, and maybe even gather the supplies....but then don't progress any further. 
If that makes you happy, then carry on, and enjoy the process of collecting ideas and patterns. 
However, if you really want to see those beautiful stitcheries in your house, on the walls, and in your quilts, and if you want to enjoy the health benefits of slow stitching, why not make a goal to spend a little time with your needle and thread each day (or even to do some hand stitching each Sunday) and link up your post to Slow Sunday Stitching. You will be surprised at how the accountability is helpful in improving your motivation.
Whether you are "collecting" or stitching along with us today, here are some project ideas I have come across:
* click here for a fun beehive pattern from Red Brolly, with great instructions on making a bullion knot. 
here is another great little project from Nana Company that I really want to stitch.
* feeling the love? Want to make a heart quilt? Check out Quilt Inspiration for a ton of free patterns.
* here is another great resource for hand embroidery patterns and project tutorials.
Today I will be adding some hand quilting stitches to my Journey quilt. There is a bouquet of flowers in each corner of this quilt, and this is my last bouquet block to quilt. I am very close to finishing the quilting on the 8th block and can then move on to the last block!
Link up your hand stitching project below and share with us what you are working on today!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Blue Scrappy Saturday

If you missed my post this week about the amazing rainbow quilt I received, hop over here and see a great idea for our rainbow challenge!
I made a big mess of the blue scraps in my sewing room this week, and have sorted out a few blocks and projects to finish up.
First up is a blue Palm Branch paper pieced block.  I demoed paper piecing at my guild meeting this week and used this block as the sample. The original block is called "Red Herring" and the pattern is from Kristy at Quiet Play (lots of free patterns on her blog including a great new free paper pieced design called Sew Kitschy).

Here are all my Palm Branch blocks together. I have no idea how I'll set these together or how big this project will get, but it's still fun, so I will keep on making more blocks! 
To see more paper piecing projects, hop over to the Quiet Play linkup.

I also pieced a little mat from some old QST blocks that were kicking around here. I don't remember where these blocks originally came from, but they were perfect to play with. I formed pinwheel blocks with the different prints and it was like doing a jigsaw puzzle.

The backing is also made from blue scraps which were leftover blocks from a quilt I made for my Grandma in 1995 (click here to see her quilt). Can you believe these old blocks were still laying around?!?  Finally they are part of a little quilt! 

I learned that my "Blue White" sewing machine does not love machine quilting. The foot pedal gets quite hot, and it doesn't have the proper feet for quilting. 
There are several skipped stitches and big "toe catchers" but we managed to work together to get it finished. 
Finished is better than perfect! 

Now I have a great little mat to put under my "Blue White" machine so it doesn't scratch any tables it might be sitting on.
To see more blue scrappy projects being sewn, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dealing with quilty temptation

I have been feeling overwhelmed lately by online quilting things. I can hardly believe I'm saying that, but I have found over the last year that the number of blogs has increased exponentially, as have the quilt-alongs, and link ups, the amazing tutorials, and other fun online events.  Did you ever hear someone complain about having too much fun?!?
From Juxtapost

Maybe I need to take some time to refocus and reflect on what makes me happiest, and what reflects my authentic self. Spreading myself too thin for sure does not make me happy at all. And the more time spent on the computer, the less sewing time there is. There are many things I would love to do if time was infinite. But it isn't. Time is a finite resource and I want to make the best decisions possible to maximize my use of time.

I am definitely going to do Barbara Brackman's new block of the month called Threads of Memory which starts later this month, but I am really going to try not to do any more quilt-alongs for a while. Famous last words?? They are great fun and I always make a wonderful quilt, but then I don't get the projects done that I really want finished.

Do you have any advice on how to handle this online temptation? Amy made me laugh with her attempts to resist with this post. How do you decide which quilt-alongs to do, which blogs to read, and how much time to spend on the computer? 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mid Month UFO Report

Since my main sewing machine is in the repair shop, I have been giving my back up vintage machines a work out. I have been working away on my Civil War quilt and have re-stitched the mistakes I made at Friday Night Sew In
My "Blue White" machine is enjoying the chance to shine and is very happy to be living with a quilter who gives her fun things to sew (yes, she told me that!)
The blocks are now all sewn together with the neutral scrappy sashing and blue or brown cornerstones. 
I am very happy with how it is turning out! My layout used 6 blocks across and 7 blocks down with 42 blocks total. I have a couple of "reject" blocks left over that I will be sewing into the quilt's backing. My next step is to attach the borders.
Barbara Brackman has published a book called Civil War Sampler about this project if you would like to sew one yourself. She also has a new free Block of the Month starting January 25th on her blog. The new quilt is called Threads of Memory and will be based on the theme of the Underground Railway. I will be ready!! Are you joining in?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Wonderful Quilted Surprise

You know when you're trudging along in life and everything seems hard? When you have to bundle up, putting on your boots, coat, gloves, scarf, hat just to be able to walk outside in minus 30 degree weather and scrape the snow and ice off your car, and risk your life driving on icy roads to get to your on call job in the middle of the night? And you're tired, and sick of winter, and the flu and cold viruses that everyone has, and life in general seems like such a struggle? ME TOO!

Last week on the very sad day that my dog Molly died, I came home to find a big package on my doorstep. In the box was this beautiful quilt!
It had come to me from Laurie in Ottawa, someone I don't even know! Laurie told me the quilt was a gift from "Quiltville Hearts" who are also members of Quiltville Chat.  She said they heard I was going through a rough spell last year with the death of my brother, and nominated me to be a recipient of one of their "hug quilts". 

I was "snottin and bawlin" (translation... weeping) about that! How can people I have never even met, do something so kind and generous for me?!?
Some of the hearts are signed and some are not. Some of the names I recognize from Quiltville and blogland visiting.

Of course I had to go outside and take some photos of this amazing colourful quilt in the snow. 

Don't you love everything about this quilt? The rainbow colour progression of the hearts, the awesome striped border fabric, the scrappy binding, and the pretty machine quilted flowers in the borders are some of my favorite things about this quilt.

And just look at this fancy label! 
So beautiful!
In her email, Laurie said "May it provide some of the comfort you need, knowing other quilty-sisters are thinking of you".
Well Laurie, it sure does! This is an incredible quilted hug and I do snuggle up in it, and remind myself of all the wonderful quilters who are out there in this big world, doing such loving and generous things for other people that they have never even met. You have no idea the depth of comfort this brings to me. I send my heartfelt thanks to everyone who had a part in creating this gift of love for me! 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Design Wall Monday - Celtic Solstice A blocks

Here are the Celtic Solstice blocks that are finished so far. These are 20 of the needed 24 A blocks...

I think they make a striking pattern on their own. 
I see that at least one block has issues with incorrect creative layout! Is there more than 1 block to be repaired? I tried so hard to sew them correctly but there's one in every crowd!
I have 4 more blocks to sew and then I can get going on the B blocks.
To see more design wall blog postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Slow Sunday Stitching - Binding Update

Are you curious about how many inches of binding you sew each year? In 2013 I kept track of my completed binding totals just for fun. July's report indicated that I sewed 2,261" of binding in the first half of the year. 
Then I slacked off a bit :)

The second half of the year binding finishes are: 
*July UFO - 280"
*Hexie Hop - 39"
*October Pumpkin Seeds - 74" 
*My Peace - 104"
*November UFO 3 Sisters Grace - 228"
*The Accidental Quilt - 159"

Total for the second half of the year is 884".
So for 2013 my binding grand total is: 3,145"!

It's a good feeling to think about that accomplishment, so I think I will keep track of my binding totals again this year.
Plans for today include more hand quilting on my Journey of a Quilter... slow and enjoyable, just the way we like to stitch here at Slow Sunday Stitching!

What are you stitching by hand today? Link up your blog post below and share your progress, and your enjoyment with us!