Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 UFO Accomplishments

See how I worded the title of the blog post to be positive by using the word "accomplishments"?!? I wanted to encourage myself to keep on the right track since I didn't finish as many UFO's as I have in previous years, and as I had hoped to finish this year. That is because my quilting was distracted by being part of the 2015 Scrap Squad for Quiltmaker magazine. And that meant making 6 quilts that I hadn't planned on making at the beginning of the year! Those quilts, which were great fun to create, took a lot of quilting time away from finishing the UFO's. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!
This is the UFO summary for the past year:

1) Triangle Stars - no change

2) Easy Street - FINISHED! This was the 2012 Quiltville mystery and I am delighted that I tackled the machine quilting on this one myself. It measures 88" square and it was a challenge to quilt on my domestic machine.

3) Roll, Roll Cotton Boll - no progress this year

4) Polka Dot Batiks - FINISHED! 
I am delighted with this finish since it was 5 years in the making! It used up a lot of old batik scraps, and I was very happy with the layout that evolved.

5) Sixties - This has never been seen on my blog before, although I don't know why. I got hung up on the layout decisions at the time. It will be on the UFO list again for next year.

6) Sweet Treats - Finished!
This was a quiltalong project from Patchwork Times in 2012. I changed the layout slightly and I am so happy with how this one turned out!

7) Log Cabin - No change. This is also a quilt that I have not shown on the blog because it is soooo old that it predates the blog!

8) Tetris - No change. A finish for next year for sure!

9) QSQA - No change. This is a Quilt Square Quilt Along from 2012. I have all the fabric ready to go for this one, and it wouldn't take long to finish it up.

10) Deckade the Halls - This was very close to being finished this year, and it will be finished by next Christmas for sure. I will write more about this quilt next week.

11) Scrappy Braid - Also FINISHED! It's a great scrappy finish that was about 15 years in the making. 

12) Brown Block Sampler - No change...again.

For the past three years I have participated in the Lovely Year of Finishes hosted by Melissa and Shanna. It has helped to provide me with structure and encouragement to complete more UFO's, and I am sad that it is coming to an end. Sending a big thank you to Melissa and Shanna for all their hard work, and I wish them all the best in their new adventures next year.
So now what will I do about the UFO situation? Do you have any suggestions for me for completing UFO's in 2016?
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Start the new year with a new project

This is a very busy time of year for quilters, because many wonderful mystery projects are hosted on New Years Day and we are getting ready. Unfortunately (for my quilting time) we have a big family event that requires cooking and visiting, and it would be rude of me to sit at the sewing machine while 20 people are having a party all around me! 
Don't tempt me!

Here are some possibilities if you don't have any plans:
*Merry Mayhem's annual New Year's Day mystery called Blowin' in the Wind. There are two sizes you can make and if I had the time, I'd be sewing this one for sure!

*Heather Spence is offering a scrap friendly mystery quilt on New Years Day as a fundraiser. Her instructions are well written, so if you're looking for a new project, you can get a quilt pattern and support a good cause.

*Quiltbug has a New Year's Day mystery and I had a blast sewing their mystery project last year with some friends. This year's project is called Apple Butter and all you need is a jelly roll. I am consoling myself about missing out on this one by committing myself to make their Super Bowl mystery in February.

*Another mystery project is being hosted at Quilting.about. com. I wasn't tempted by this one as the beginning instructions seemed complicated. 
Are you starting off the new year with a new project?!?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Allietare Update

Winter finally arrived here last night with a vicious ice storm. It's perfect weather for quilting! 
I had bits of quilting time here and there over the Christmas week and have managed to keep up fairly well with the Quiltville mystery. The last two steps have been interesting sewing, but quite time intensive. Step #4 seemed to take way longer than I had expected. Also, some of the pressing suggestions for step #4 and #5 were counter-intuitive, and I kept forgetting not to press to the dark!

Yesterday I got almost totally caught up. Here is the bin of all the blocks sewn so far, pinned together in groups of 5 or 10. It looks like a hot mess, but hey, it's a quilt under construction! I still have to sew the rectangle units from step #5, but those pieces are already cut out, so I'm sure it won't take long.
To see how other mystery quilt makers are progressing, hop over to the Quiltville link up.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Design Wall UFO

With all the holiday disorganization, I am really out of my routine and woke up this morning wondering what day it is and what I should be doing. In Ontario today is the stat holiday for Boxing Day and many people have the day off work. And do you know what that means?!? 
It's a quilting day!

On the design wall is my December UFO that has been untouched since well before the Christmas activity frenzy began. It's time to get this UFO closer to becoming a finished quilt. The problem is that I'd like to work on step #5 of the Quiltville mystery. Maybe I'll do both today!
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching - Keeping Track

It's the last Sunday of the year, which means the last Slow Sunday Stitching linky party for 2015. Thanks for dropping by and thanks to each of you for your participation over the past year!

I decided that in 2016 I would like to keep better track of my hand quilting efforts. The star in a star quilt I am currently working on is quite large, and it's easy to lose steam on such a big project like this. There are 83 blocks to quilt, which does not include the border quilting. This is the diamond quilting design between the blocks.
Here's the update of the quilted blocks so far:
*3 of 20 large 12" stars (quilted 1/4" inside the seams)
*6 of 32 small 6" stars (also quilted 1/4" inside the seams)
*6 of 31 diamonds which are quilted with a square in a square design 

I plan to document as I complete the quilting in each of the three different blocks in the quilt. This is the very complex and high tech coloured chart I made for this purpose! Hopefully this will help me to stay motivated.
What are you working on today and how are you planning to keep track of your progress in 2016? Link up your blog post below and share your project with us.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Cooking Day

It has been a whirlwind of activity here, but none of it has been quilting related.  
No wait, there was a new quilty ornament on the tree this year... a sewing machine with a sign saying "sew much fabric, sew little time"!
Sew true!

Most of my activity at this time of year is cooking related. Here is one of my biscuit trees trimmed with veggies. Each tree gets different trimmings depending of the preferences of the guests. It took a while to create this tree, and less than 1 minute for the guests to consume!
"What's to eat next Mom?"

Oh well... back to the kitchen I go!

As you might guess, I have really enjoyed having my Granddog Max come to visit (and his parents too, of course!) Last time Max visited, we did a secret photo shoot with him wearing his Santa suit, and I gave a framed print to his parents for a Christmas gift. This is one of my favourite pictures. 
He is such a love!
I am looking forward to some quiet time and maybe even some late night quilting later on.
Happy Boxing Day

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

The winner of the draw for the Nancy Halvorsen "I Believe" panel is #27 which is Karen M! I hope you can find a place to use this panel in one of your projects Karen.

Everything is quiet here at the moment. The food has been prepared, the presents have been wrapped, the tree has been trimmed, and company is coming. The peace and quiet won't last for long thankfully!
Santa is also on the way and his reindeer have been spotted approaching the Indian Orange Peel quilt. That's how Santa finds me :)

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope that Santa brings you all the quilting supplies you could ever dream of!! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Singing Along

It has been a busy week, in which I have not given myself quite enough time to complete the tasks that need to be done. That's part of what I do before Christmas, so I don't get stressed about it. I know I always get everything done, with seconds to spare! 
And speaking of seconds to spare, did you enter the draw for the "I Believe" Christmas panel?  Click here and leave a comment because the draw will be on Christmas Eve.

I wanted to share one of my favourite moments from this past week with you. It happened when I was at the cashier paying for my purchases. I was told that if I was willing to sing a Christmas song, I could get 20% off my bill. For real?!?
The cashier didn't yet know that I love to sing. She also didn't know that in the last two weeks I have sung in three choir performances, including singing Handel's Messiah while enjoying these beautiful stained glass windows.
But when put on the spot to pick a Christmas song to sing a solo in a store, I was overwhelmed by all the great choices. I started off singing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas", but really the weather here is terrible... rainy and unbelievably warm, with a possible high of 10+ degrees on Christmas Eve. Yuck. 
So I stopped singing that song once I realized it wasn't a good choice, and I switched to Jingle Bells. The cashier (who was clearly not enjoying this as much as I) said to me:  "You only have to sing the first two lines". 
I pretended I didn't hear her and continued singing until the song was over, and by then other customers were singing with me. We all got 20% off our purchases! And we got to sing! You can't beat that!
And interestingly, the cashier said that not everyone was as enthusiastic, and that some customers preferred to pay full price and not sing! I have been shaking my head about that ever since.
Okay... I'm off to be a singing elf in Santa's workshop!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sanity Sewing

We are on step #4 of the Quiltville mystery. But it's a busy time of year, with only windows of "sanity sewing" for me.

A big chunk of time was spent in cutting all of these 720 pieces of fabric. Usually I like to cut a little, sew a little, then press a little. But with the crazy schedule and only small bits of time for sewing this week, I thought it best to get all the cutting done at once.

I thought I was being so smart, all prepared to sew whenever time and energy permit. However I forgot to allow for brain power outages!
I started by sewing the first set of blocks into cute little Santa faces! 
Aren't they adorable?!?
Yep... and they're wrong!
I'm leaving them up there to enjoy as a Christmas decoration this week :)
To see more Allietare updates, hop over to Quiltville, and to see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching Relaxation

Can you believe this is the last Sunday before Christmas? And then there is only one more Sunday left in this year!?! 
Even though it is such a busy time of year, I find myself avoiding Christmas shopping and procrastinating my "to-do" list, and gravitating instead to some calming hand quilting. I am rationalizing it by reminding myself of the importance of staying well, and being relaxed in order to stay healthy and fight off all the germs and viruses that are in abundance at this time of year.
These are the benefits I'm hoping to experience with some slow stitching and relaxation... 

*Decreased heart rate
*Decreased blood pressure
*Diminished respiratory rate
*Lower pulse rate
*Decreased oxygen consumption
*Decreased blood lactate
*Decreased muscle tension
*Reduction of cortisol
*Reduction of noradrenaline

Doesn't that sound like what your body needs more of? Okay then, go get your stitching, take a deep breath, and invest some time in improving your health.

Here are my tools all ready for another "health improvement session"!  I have my ruler and frixion pen to mark stitching lines, and the thread colours needed for this quilt.

This is the star block I'm hoping to finish today on my winter quilting project. I am really enjoying working on this quilt. See the wide range of scrappy background fabrics in these blocks? Even though I made this quilt top 19 years ago, it's still my favourite kind of quilt. And I am very happy with the square in a square design I decided to quilt in the centre of the small stars. 

And to further enhance your relaxation while you stitch, here's my favourite Christmas song this year. I hope you enjoy it too!

We would love to see what you are stitching by hand while you relax today. Link up your blog post below and share your project with us!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Scrappy Saturday

If you like scrap quilts, you have to go see the Tucker Quilt Parade over at Pam Buda's Heartspun Quilts. There were a lot of scraps sewn into little quilts in November. Most of the quilts shown were made in the USA, but there were a few from Canada, and also represented were UK, Paris, Brazil, and Holland. 
What am I sewing with my scraps this week? 

Mostly I am making blocks from the scraps being generated from the Quiltville mystery. We are working on step #4, and this is the first block I put together.
Hey, it's Santa!

Only guess what?
I sewed the blocks together wrong. Ugh. I was so excited about my blocks looking like Santa, that I sewed 4 sets wrong before I realized the problem. Today I will be unsewing those Santa blocks and this time I'll be sewing them according to the directions.

And with the tiny scraps from the mystery blocks, I have been sewing double nine patches for Omigosh. Here are the newest 4 blocks.

To see what other scrap quilters are sewing this week, hop over to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Friday, December 18, 2015

December UFO Report

The month is half over and I have made a lot of progress on my December UFO

I added a couple of borders to the quilt top. I have no idea why the red/green strips are on the sides. It seemed to make sense at the time, and now it just looks a bit odd. I was tempted to unsew those side borders and remove the narrow dark strips, but I wanted the quilt to be done more than I wanted to remove the strips! So I moved on to piecing the backing!

I have to mention how much I love the selvage edges of some of these fabrics. How cute are these reindeer and Santas?!?  Even if you didn't intend to collect selvages, how could you throw out these cuties?

I was determined to piece the backing from the project leftovers. Then I got the great idea to make it a reversible quilt by sewing the leftover fabrics around a Nancy Halvorsen panel.
It was tricky to piece around the panel because as you can see the design is printed a little wonky. Look at the top of the panel especially. 
Oh well...that's life!

I have an extra panel to give away to my blog readers. Leave a comment below and I'll toss your name in the draw, which will be done on Christmas Eve. Good luck!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Additions to the Herd

Did you see the photo of Bonnie Hunter's sewing machine collection on this blog post? WOW! I thought her herd of machines was enormous. 
That was before I went to a Treadle On event. These people are serious sewing machine collectors. One person, who shall remain nameless, admitted to having well over 200 machines. And when they talk, it's almost like another language that includes lots of code, and numbers. I tried hard to keep up, but there is so much to learn!

So I went to the meeting with one machine needing repair and came home with two more machines needing repair. Here are all three of them in my trunk. Gorgeous, right?!?
My 1920's Federation at the top.
My very first Pfaff in the middle.
And my first White Rotary. 
I don't even know how that happened!

And since then I somehow collected another machine or two. Sewing machines collectors know exactly what this is, and it's not luggage!
It's another "acquisition"!

Look at this beauty! It is a "Domestic"! I love that brand badge! The Domestic Sewing Machine company was bought out by the White Sewing Machine company in 1924 (Alex Askaroff), so it really is a White machine. I wondered if it was a Singer 15 clone since the body looks exactly like my Blue White. I consulted with vintage guru Cheryl, and she confirmed that it is a class 15 machine. 

Just look at the gorgeous engraved face plate! We all know that beauty is only skin deep (wow that's pretty) but the big question is... does it even work?!?
The hand wheel is quite stiff, and I don't know yet if it even sews. I am doing all the tricks the Treadle On folks have taught me and I am optimistic about it's potential. I have big plans for this "Domestic Goddess", so stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Middle of the mystery

We are in the middle of the Quiltville mystery Allietare and step #3 was released last Friday. It was "no-brainer" easy task this week sewing simple 4 patch blocks from neutral and gold strips. 

This is my work surface. As I cut the strips, I cut the leftover end pieces into 1" strips for Omigosh blocks and am sewing them as leader/enders. They are so cute and I don't have any gold blocks in the collection yet.
As I sew, I have been thinking about how many of my previous Quiltville mysteries are still in UFO status. I reviewed my blogpost from last year's mystery update (click here to read it) and was happy to note that there have been a few changes in the last year.

**Easy Street from 2012 became a finished quilt this fall.

**Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll from 2010 is finally a quilt top ready for quilting. It was on the UFO list this year, and while it made progress to become a quilt top, the quilting didn't get done yet. It will go on the list for 2016.

**Carolina Christmas - half of the blocks are in a finished quilt and remaining blocks were lost in the UFO closet. 
But I found them!

**Grand Illusion - last year's mystery is still a work in progress, but with some concentrated work could easily become a finished quilt top.

Quiltville Mystery Summary:

Total number of Bonnie mysteries completed = 7
Carolina Crossroads, Orange Crush, Carolina Christmas #1, Double Delight, Easy Street, Celtic Solstice, and Orca Bay

Number in UFO status = 3
Carolina Christmas #2, Roll roll cotton boll, and Grand Illusion.

That's a 70% success rate, which is acceptable. It would be fairly easy to get myself a higher rating, and I'm going to work on that in 2016. 

With sewing this mystery, so far I have a 100% success rate at keeping up with the steps! Here's my box of blocks cut and sewn, and ready for the next piece of the puzzle.
To see more step #3 blog posts, hop over to the Allietare link up here.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Design Wall of Shame

I actually have two design walls - one for a major project, and a second smaller one that has had one project on it for years.  If you're a long time blog reader, you might know already what's still on there. In fact, I didn't write a single blog post about this project in all of 2015! But it's still there and I look at it every day (or try not to!)

It's the dreaded IOP - Indian Orange Peel. You can read the blog posts about it's journey here if you've somehow missed out on this drama.

The quilt was started in 2010. It has been on my secondary design wall for most of the years since then. It is dusty, parts are falling off the wall, and I'm just tired of it. I have even pinned some of my Life Is Beautiful embroidery blocks on top of it. UGH.
Perhaps I should cover it up with a seasonal covering like I did in 2013? 
Or here's an idea... actually sew it together and finish it!
My friend Jacqui, who took the original class with me, has finished her quilt top and you can see it over at Treadle Quilts. It is gorgeous!
To see more beautiful design walls with projects that are actually being worked on, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching - Max Report

Relaxation is good, holidays are necessary, but there is nothing as rewarding and healthy as doing what you love and loving what you do.”  Ogwo David Emenike

What are you doing today? Something you love to do? I am!

Granddog Max is visiting this weekend. No one does relaxation like Max! He insists that you stop what you are doing, and enjoy some relaxation and love. He just puts himself between you and whatever task you are trying to accomplish. Then he gives you the stare down until you comply. Here he is during his last visit - getting between me and my laptop. How can I resist that cuteness?!?
Since his last visit he had a haircut, but not an attitude adjustment. This photo was taken yesterday while I was trying to do some hand quilting. Max parked himself between me and the hoop. It's hard to reach around a dog to quilt, but I will keep trying... to give Max attention and to get some stitches in.

It's Slow Stitching Sunday! Time to relax and do what you love! Pick up your stitching and enjoy a few moments of peacefulness today.
Link up your blog post below and share your project with us.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Scrappy Saturday

For the month of December the Rainbow Scrap Challenge isn't focused on one colour. We are encouraged to make blocks in any of the colours we may have missed working with throughout the year, and to get our blocks organized and sewn into quilt tops. 
I sewed a couple of Maverick star blocks from the red scraps that are all over my sewing room from making blocks for the Quiltville mystery. There were lots of odd ends of strips to use up and they are perfect to make these star points. Can you see how these red points are mostly ends/selvage scraps?

I have 16 blocks for this collection so far. I wasn't sure if I wanted light stars on dark background, or dark stars on light background, so I tried both. I decided I like both, so will continue to add to the collection as scraps appear in 2016.
Speaking of 2016, Angela is designing a scrappy column quiltalong for us - details are here.
To see what the scrappy quilters are sewing today, hop over to SoScrappy.