Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Flannel Peaks

I had time to quickly quilt the Flannel Peaks quilt before I "closed" the sewing room before Christmas. I put a fleece backing on it, with no batting. The neat thing about the fleece is how the quilting carves into it, creating a wonderful backing. It makes me want to think about making a whole cloth quilt with fleece!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas busy-ness is over...

and now I can get back to my sewing room, and pick up where I left off a couple of weeks ago. I hosted two family Christmas dinners, and as our families are large and my house isn't, and my sewing room jutts off the kitchen, it is cleaned up so that the counters and ironing board can be used as a pantry/storage/holding area while entertaining. It feels so good to get my room back, even just a week or two away from it makes me sad!

I have lots of projects on the go - three quilt tops that will be pieced, all with at least the initial cutting done, and some sewing and prepping for the next steps. Two of these tops are nine patch and variations and I'm looking forward to seeing some of the blocks up on the design wall soon.

I also have various applique that I am working on - two fusible with decorative machine stitching; one freezer paper applique invisible machine stitching; one needleturn applique; one hand blanket stitch applique. Two of these are well on there way, two are in their infancy, and one seems to be on hold.

What's best is the sun is shining, and as tired as I am from the work and fun of the past several days, I've pulled open the drapes in the sewing room, turned on my favourite radio station (CBC Radio One), and I'm happily piecing, pressing, and cutting. Even if I can do this for just an hour, I'll be happier than a quilter with new yardage!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Digital Quilting Magazines

In the space of one week, I encountered three different variations of electronic quilting magazines.

Cotton Spice is a good read, lots of variety, patterns, and website.

Fons & Porter offered a half off special for a cd of three years' magazines - for $29.95!

Quilter's World is offering a one year digital subscription to their print magazine, plus two years of past issues, for $14.95.

This has really got me to thinking. I am a loyal subscriber to Fons & Porter's magazine - I have years worth stacked up on the bookshelf - many ragged from reading, photocopying, some even have rotary cut slashes on a page or two! Do I really want to replace those with the electronic version? Even though a laptop can sit on my lap, it really doesn't replace - for me - the comfort of curling up on the couch (of course with a quilt over me) and browing through a new magazine, or a stack of older ones.

I've downloaded Cotton Spice but must admit to not reading all that I wanted to. I haven't adjusted to long reading sessions on the computer, and I guess I never will if I don't practice, but there is a strong urge just to hit print, and take the pages to the couch!

Then there's Quilter's World. For $14.95 this is a pretty good deal - they have lots of patterns, with a wide variety of skill levels. Good articles. The decision to be made is, how much does the convenience of storing the magazine on the computer - with being able to do computer like things with the issues such as searching, printing, image saving - override the paper effect of having the magazine in my hands? The cost in this case does make a difference too - in Canada, my subscription rate would be about $30 - the $14.95 is about the price of one pattern or maybe a book - and this is far more than that!

I also wonder, if we support these electronic versions will they eventually phase out paper versions? I know this has been a fear of newspapers for years, and it hasn't yet come true. But newspapers aren't quilt patterns meant to be kept as ideas and references for years to come.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Workin' in the Scrap Yard

Well the time has come, the need is there, and I'm tired of so many bits taking up space!

I've been cutting up my sraps - I've often looked at the Quiltville site (http://quiltville.com/)and admired all the lovely quilts made with all those scraps of fabric that would otherwise be overlooked for years. I picked out two or three patterns that I could at least have a starting point on what size to cut - deciding on 2 1/2" strips for the Scrappy Bargello and 2" and 3 1/2" strips for either Disappearing Spools or Disappearing Pinwheels. I've also made a basket - or two, or three - of strips and crumbs. And with the larger pieces I've made 5" squares that can be cut up into lots of things, and even 10" squares.

I began with the overflowing box under the ironing board, went to the basket of ugly fat quarters that I'll never use, on to the baskets of bits and pieces from test blocks and other things. Finally got through those! Then I realized I have three more drawers of larger pieces....now what? Well these I'll cut into fat eighths first, then the other sizes.

I think I have more scraps than yardage! Pictures of all my hard work later today...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Poinsettia wall hanging

This pretty wall hanging will let me enjoy fresh poinsettas throughout the holiday season - no watering required! A smaller version of a pattern by Kim Diehl in her book "A Cozy Quilted Christmas".

Saturday, November 29, 2008

An Array of Aprons

I've made five aprons in the past couple of weeks - still to go is one for my daughter and one for me. I used the pattern booklet More Retro Aprons by Cindy Taylor Oates. This was a great pattern, but I would avoid view "C" - it is the most eye-catching, but I found that the instructions and method for this view to be overly complicated without the best results. The other views sewed up just as you'd expect - but there is a fair amount of tedious ironing involved :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Knowing when to put a w.i.p. away

Today I brought out the JellyRoll Snowmen top to get it ready for quilting. I had bought some very inexpensive poly batt from Walmart to use in this project - I just felt that for a quilt like this I didn't want to put too much into it.

While I was spray basting it, I realized what I knew when I was making the top was true - I didn't really like how it turned out. The curse of the Christmas quilts strikes again. I have made, or tried to make, a few holiday themed quilts and never finished any of them or if I did they've gone away, hee hee.

But I didn't listen to that voice, that one that we often try to ignore, and proceeded anyway. The initial stitch in the ditch quilting went badly and I ended up with a big ripple - something that hasn't happened to me in years. If I felt the quilt wasn't good enough to be treated right, with a good bat, then why was even quilting it?

The redwork snowman was part of a quilt pattern (The Snowman Collector by The Stitch Connection) that I really should have made more attention to throughout the year - I think I'll try to make myself do a block of the month with this quilt and make it as should it be and then finally at Christmas '09 I'll have a real holiday quilt!

Somewhere in Time

Last Tuesday I found myself finishing the quilt with the Somewhere in Time orphan blocks, that I`m now calling Wonder Stars, as I`m using Wonder Blocks (from the book of the same name) to make up this scrappy quilt.

As I mentioned in my other posts about wonder blocks I am amazed at how fast these blocks come together, and how useful they can be.

I had wanted to make enough wonder blocks to fill up the centre areas, but in the end I had to frame some in order to have enough to go around the border.

The picture below is the best I could do, it is blurry due to a bit of shakiness on my part.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Whitework Sampler

I set out to hand applique a pattern called Whitework Sampler by the Rabbit Factory. I settled on a deep yellow with the white applique - my problem is that all the tone on tone whites I've got seem to be wimpy - flimsy, almost transparent, no uummpph.

After needleturn applique-ing part of one block, I remembered Sue Nickel's book about machine applique and proceeded to make a block by decorating the yellow background with machine stitches, then using fusible to machine stitch the applique -

While I think this is great, I'm really not interested in doing a bed sized quilt with fusible applique - I think that the method is great for smaller quilts but I'd be concerned that with a bed sized quit it would jsut get weighed down and stiff, no matter how little fusible I tried to use.

I completed this block last weekend and have since been thinking about it in the back of my mind - I'm now trying different colour combinations and trying to determine if I can find a white fabric with more body.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Allow yourself to have your own quilting style!

Staring at the small kaleidoscope quilt that I made a couple of weeks ago, I realized that once again I'm stumped about how to quilt it. I knew that I wanted to emphasise the circles that seem to appear within the design - but that's about it. All along, when working on piecing and making tops lately, I've been hearing advice from successful quilters that its important to plan your quilting along with your piecing. Well, I've decided that that just isn't my style.

For years, I've kicked myself while starting to quilt a top, then realizing I didn't like it, then ripping it out and starting again. Well, that seems to be my style! Seriously, my style does seem to be having to have the quilt right under the needle, with threads at the ready, willing to experiment to find just the right thing to do. I'm getting better at getting it right the first time, and the kaleidoscope quilt was the first time I stopped and changed direction but didn't feel as if I had to rip out what was done. I am very happy with the quilting on the quilt - obviously, lol, but really it has been an eye opener to me to trust the process that is my style.

I also seemed to have conquered leaves! I can free motion pretty well - flowers, feathers, letters, hearts, whatever - but leaves have just had me making round lumps. Uck. Well I think I've got it now :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Time to get organized!

Its early November and the holiday season is creeping up on me, and a new year will be starting in a just a couple of months. I've had a great quilting year - I've been happy with the skills I've learned and the quilts in progress and completed - although there are a few tops and partly quilted quilts that might never see the light of day as I now consider them an investment in learning as they weren't quite as successful as I'd like.

The batik baskets were a nightmare to decide on quilting. I had that quilt sitting at my machine for I think two or three weeks, walking by it and starting at and not knowing where to start. Finally, I decided to stitch in the ditch around the baskets and the hst handles; then, I started to sew veins and details on the leaves using free motion stitching with monofilament thread. Now, I can see the quilt finished - swirly free motion stitching around the leaves, heavy stippling to flatten the open area in the baskets, and maybe a few leaves in the open spaces between the leaves. Problem is, I don't want to spend the time on this right now so I've put it away until after the holdiays or even until next fall.

What I do want to be doing right now is -
quilt the little kaleidocope wallhanging
make 7 (!) aprons for Christmas gifts
quilt the redwork snowman
plan some kind of quilt for my son's wedding next fall
and, I've got a few tops ready to be pieced and in progress, so I can work on those anytime I'd like, as well as applique

So that doesn't look as bad as I thought, and I hope I'll remember this list when I want to start yet another project or go off in some other direction

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Batik Baskets

This quilt has been sitting, sandwiched and ready to quilt, by my sewing machine all week. I never started quilting it as something about it just didn't sit right. I decided it was the leaves, and yesterday cut out new leaf shapes and fused them right over the originals - I like it much better, more to look at and more movement.

I've had a great month of piecing and playing - I have three quilt tops ready to quilt, but none necessary for any particular time. Today I think I'll take a look at my baskets and drawers and bags to really see what wips and ufos I have.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jelly Roll Snowman

I got the Jelly Roll Snowman quilt done - playing with EQ and my little design board I finally came up with something that used up all the pieces I had. A visitor posted a message with a good idea but it was too late :)

The quilt can be folded up with just the centre showing and placed like a pillow when I have guests

And... here is a pic of the Delectable Mountains flannel quilt

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Redwork Snowmen and a Jelly Roll

The top for the Delectable Mountains was done on Friday - however no good picture yet.

Then I started on yet another top that I wanted to be for the Christmas holidays. I'm beginning to think that I wasn't meant to make a Christmas quilt or wallhanging - every attempt, other than the first successful wreath I made years ago, has turned out badly. Just not what I wanted.

This one holds more promise, but I'm still feeling kind of stuck. It all started with a jelly roll, and a disk of redwork machine embroidery snowmen (Snowman Collector by the Stitch Connection). I wanted to combine these into I think a lap quilt, but now I'm thinking a wall quilt. That wreath from years ago is looking kind of tired :)

I started making strip pieced hsts, then proceeded to four piece rail fences, then played on EQ to decide if I should make the snowman a centre or a border. Three days later, and this is what I have -

I will definitely add some heavy red decorative stitching around the snow people, before quilting. I'll need to add a small plain border to the centre to make it big enough for the rail fence blocks, and add some kind of pieced corner blocks. Then there is the problem of the hsts - even though they came from the same pack, the way I divided them - lights and darks - made it so that there is suddenly this blue colour in the hsts - the background of the redwork is a very pale yellow which matches the yellows in the fabric design - but the only blue so far is the bits in the hsts. I have enough of the hsts to go around the whole quilt, to make it lap size, but I'm not sure that's what I want to do. I'm hestitating sewing the rest together in case I want to re-arrange everything. I really should just put it away for now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Isn't chain piecing great?!

While planning the Delectable Mountains quilt top that I started ages ago, I had cut the preliminary squares, and sewed the diagonal lines, as in a giant half square triangle. I had also cut a few of these and made the blocks.

This week I went ahead and cut up those giant hsts into strips to make the delectable mountain blocks, v-e-r-y carefully laid out each set on a mat (this is where I get confused - I think that laying them out in their mirror image required was like one of those put the round peg in the square hole kind of test :)). I then chain pieced all those blocks together - look at this!

And then....I looked at the pattern. Oops. Something in the layout diagram doesn't look right compared to what I have...much reading later, I 've discovered that some of these blocks were meant to be half blocks, and others full mountains. So now I have some ripping out to do.

I thought I wasn't getting much done this week as I've been obsessed with quilt planning on EQ - spending literally hours having fun making virtual quilts. Two I'm going to get started on planning (I like to have my fabrics all cut if possible, or sorted into groups for different blocks, then I can just sew any time I want. One quilt used birds in the air blocks, the other is an applique scrappy quilt using circles and squares.

This is a block called Spin Wheel by Peggy Glebrich, from Fons & Porter June 08. I loved this block when I saw it in the magazine, then I discovered that I could make this block with Inklingo shapes printed out on the fabric, making it super accurate and easy to sew either by hand or machine.

I also started a few of these chain blocks that I had already cut up using scraps of 30s fabrics. The pattern is from Peggy Waltman called Colourful Thoughts , and I've put those aside to cheer me up on the dark grey days of winter. (Making my photo skills worse, is that on a laptop, colours can look much different depending on the viewing angle - these colours really are nice and bright!).

Last Friday I did get done the second block of Cherry Berry Album - but haven't done much applique at all this week

Friday, October 17, 2008

Piecing by hand

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with opportunities to catch up with both "sides" of my family - however on Tuesday, with a belated birthday lunch planned with my Mom - I encountered a major flare up and have been on the couch ever since.

Luckily, I had a printed some inklingo shapes while cooking the pumpkin pies on the weekend. I got to work on hand piecing, and enjoyed being able to sew quilt blocks while laid up - different than the applique sewing I usually do while I'm in recovery mode.

So here are the little shapes I made - these are from "Monkey Exercise #1" from Linda Franz's Inkingo website.

I'm always curious about how dh and I ever get along - we are so different in many ways - here's an example. I picked out my favourite two of these shapes, and asked him to do the same. While we did both agree that our least favourite was the blue and pink star, with blue triangle edges (it looks like a radioactive symbol!); his second least favourites were my favourites - the white hexagon with blue edges, and the brown pinwheel. Huh - maybe I should give this little quiz to my son and his fiancee!

I tried to take a picture of the inklingo shapes with their printed stitching lines and cross hairs, but I couldn't get the lines to show up on the picture. (Another reason why a digital photo class would be interesting).

I got involved in Inklingo because I discovered that you can print half square triangle sewing grids directily on the fabric - similar to Triangulations and Thangles. With the one "collection 2" I can print half square, quarter square, and flying geese. I don't mean to sound like a commerical, but really the Inklingo method is worth a try - www.lindafranz.com

I will be looking out for ideas on a hand pieced quilt top - doesn't have to be diamonds or hexagons, can be squares or triangles or just about anything.

I'm looking forward to hopefully getting in to the basket top quilting this weekend, maybe some machine piecing, and finish the second Cherry Berry Album applique block.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Green Kaleidoscope

That's an original quilt name! I have to think of something different...

I really enjoyed sewing these blocks. They were more challenging than the usual strip piecing or basic triangle and square shapes, yet not so challenging that caused frustration or moments of arrrggghhh. I used Marti Mitchells' kaleidoscope ruler (small) and her Kaleidoscope ABCs book. The book was important to my enjoyment of making these, I think. While I could have figured out the piecing of these on my own, her step by step instructions and drawings were key to successful sewing and results. There was some chain piecing, and some fiddly bits. On almost all my blocks, that points do meet in the middle, and I don't think there are more than a few with a very tiny tip cut off, they all sit nice and flat. I think I'll start cutting up small kaleidoscope pieces from scraps, to gradually build a scrap version.

And...this weekend I got involved in Inklingo, but that's another post :) Take a look at http://lindafranz.com/ Linda is a Canadian designer that has come up with a truly original and easy to use method of printing your quilt pieces on directly on the fabric for cutting and either machine or hand piecing. Don't miss the free download - give it a try!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cutting up fabric, for....

I've started some quilt piecing, but I'm not sure where I'm going.

First up was an attempt at stack and whack, but I got stuck at the stack and didn't get to whack. I am trying to use my stash, so I picked out a piece of floral print that had a 12" repeat, but I didn't measure its length, and I didn't read the directions quite right, so I ended up with 6 stacks and not enough fabric left to do any more. Hmmm....then I cut those stacks into squares, and then into hsts, figuring maybe I could make it do something interesting, but no luck. Now that I had that fabric pretty much used up for nothing, I thought I'd make some kaleidoscope blocks from it. So I cut up some scrap pieces in colours that came from the floral, and I thought I'd make alternate blocks - one scrappy, one with the floral.

I tried to work on the basket applique yesterday but I kept walking by the design wall with those kaleidoscope blocks on it. I didn't like the 6" size, as a lot of blocks are needed in a quilt top to make the effect, and I didn't want a top much larger than 25". I didn't much like the scrappy colours combined with the floral, either. Then toward the end of the day, I decided to ditch that whole idea and start again.

So, I proceeded to attempt 4" green and ivory kaleidoscope blocks. This is what I have so far, and I'm not too impressed. It needs some kind of pop. I have fifteen more to finish piecing - there all set, just need the final seam to make two haves a whole.

I think that there are some days, or weeks, when its better to just follow a pattern using specific recommended colours; playing can just be frustration - until you reach the ah ha! moment. Maybe once the blocks are sewn together they'll look better, maybe they need sashing....I think I'll play on eq.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Last spring I had started a quilt top from Beth Ferrier's book, Out of the Cupboard and Onto the Bed.

I got as far as piecing the baskets and making the centre, sewing the diagonal setting squares, and then I decided I didn't like how it was looking. It went to quilt jail - the baskets on my shelf, way up high where I need a stool to reach. So I brought it down and went to work on the vines and leaves - I plan on using a free motion thread painting idea to sew down the fused applique leaves, following ideas from Anne Fahl's Colouring with Thread. Now that I have put the leaves and berries on, its looking much better - I think I even like it!

This month I would really like to try some new things - I have a few tops planned and cut out, but what I would really like to do is play with ideas that have been brewing, and some rulers and books that I've bought but not used. On the list is a kaleidoscope top, a stack and whack, some kind of diamonds or stars - all small wallhanging or table topper size. They say if you state a goal, you're more likely to get it done! So in that spirit, I bought myself three more books! - The Its Okay if you Sit on my Quilt book, which I have always wanted but never got; Stars by Magic by Nancy Srebro-Johnson, which I truly hope will let me make lemoyne stars by magic; and the Border Workbook which I will use to create some kind of new, wonderful, easy! border for my Mom's strippy basket and stars.

I also have to let myself cut into my nice fabric for these quilts - I find that when I know I'm experimenting, I tend to hold back and pick bits and pieces that aren't all that nice, therefore undermining my efforts. So, if I have to cut up a whole beautiful fat quarter just to use one or two strips, so be it!!

Mike gave me a wonderful OttLite for my birthday, so now I can sit and happily applique on the darkest winter night with the best light. It sits on the table next to "my" seat on the couch and can reach and move to exactly where I want it - it even has a magnifier! Although why I'd want to magnify my work I don't know...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sally Post Floral Sampler

This quilt pattern was presented by Gayle at Sentimental Stitches,(http://sentimentalstitches.net/) recreating an original quilt by Sally Post, c. 1854. When quilting, I put buttons on the sashing squares and yo yos on the border corner squares, to pick up the 30s fabric theme that I used.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A 1st and a 4th!

I have had the most exciting morning....I'm suprised I'm still standing after all this shock and to-do.

This morning was the day the quilts would be displayed with their winning ribbons. A Toronto television show thats very popular because they are so viewer oriented were doing their live eye broadcast from the Markham Fair, hosted by Jennifer. My daughter emailed them before school and asked them to film the quilts so that her Mom might see what quilts had ribbons, as she was very very nervous about her entry and results.

One thing led to another and just before 9:00 I was on the phone...on the air.... live!... while Jennifer talked to me with the show host to announce if I had placed in the "quilt competition". They showed Folk Art Finery and said I had won 4th out of 12 entries! I was soooo happy!! I had done some unusual and difficult to me quilting on that quilt, and i was just happy happy that the judges had recognized my hard work.

But that left dh and I wondering what happened to the tied quilt. Its cold and windy here today, and I need to use the wheelchair tbecause the homecraft building is quite a walk from the parking lot,so Mike went off for me (of course with camera). He called and said At Home and Away got 1st. 1st! And I designed it :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How does colour and print effect you?

I am ironing some fat quarters that I've recently received and washed...the following is a photo of one of these. This print just made me feel, well, nauseous. I really don't like it. I could hardly look at it long enough to know why I don'tt like it.

The next photo shows one that I had ironed earlier in the pile, and this one I loved - loved it so much, it gave me the feeling that I wanted to step into it, or crawl into it and have a nap, lol. Does that sound too weird?

Just in case it was the structured pattern of the 2nd piece I liked, and the unstructure of the 1st piece that was bothering me, here's a photo of a similarly unstructured piece with different colours, that I do like.

The colour difference between piece 1 and 2 is the addition of a pink and a green - I like these colours! I use them a lot! So, I just don't know what turns me off that particular piece.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Okay, so now I'm nervous

I'm not nervous about whether or not I'll win a prize at the fair, I'm nervous that my quilts will gain entry because I've followed all the rules; I'm nervous because I hope my workmanship is at least acceptable (this sounds stupid even to me, as I know I do good work, but the mind cannot be controlled!); I'm nervous about having my quilt displayed in public; and I think I might be even nervous that I do win!

I don't belong to a guild, so I have few opportunities to show and tell my work. A couple of quilty friends have seen my work, and the comments were good. I have donated a quilt to the church and it was displayed for a few weeks, and suprisingly earned quite a bit of money through a donation and draw program. But still...this is the first time one of my quilts will be thrown out there to the quilty world in general. I will feel so much better when they are gone, out of the house, and out of my control.

I went through each this morning, checked for threads, cringed a few times at tiny things that went wrong that was little I could do about, attached labels and samples, and had Mike check them while he helped me fold them. I then said, well - there is nothing more to do. Yep, he said, and you're not allowed to open those bags while I'm gone for the next few hours. I know, but it will be so tempting to take on more look, or what if I have one more thought about something to check? And then he walks by a piece of scrap fabric and puts it on the table - ack! - its one from the sample baggie for Folk Art Finery. Was it a duplicate? or did I not include ?fabric at all? did it fall off my zig zagged strip? I will not look, I will not look. What will be will be.

I have no idea how prizes are announced - so I don't know what the next few days will bring - stay tuned!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall Fair Entry Madness

My husband Mike was confirming with me when my Fair quilts have to be dropped off - this Tuesday.

And then what, he asks? How do you find out if you win something, and what do you win? Well, first they are judged and then they are all hung on display, with the winning quilts having ribbons attached. What do you win, he asks? Uhhhhh...maybe $10, or even $5. And you *paid* $5.50 to enter these? He was shocked and appalled, as the saying goes in our house. He is the biggest supporter of my quilting habit, and I know he knew I wasn`t going to win a fortune if I did win, but I do think he`s quite amazed that I might be lucky to just get my money back! I said, look at it as investment in the arts and culture future of our children and grandchildren.

[I've just looked it up, the first prize for tied quilt is $20, fourth prize is $8; for the machine quilted quilt its $30 for 1st price and $15 for 4th - but I'm competing with hand quilters which for some reason I think is favoured at this fair; so...must inform hubby that the prizes are much grander than I first said, lol]

So, on to the labels. I have never been a happy label maker. Just write the information on a piece of muslin, with a pigma pen, try to make it legible, slap it on the quilt with fusible web after pinking the edges. But lucky for me Pat Sloan is having a virtual retreat weekend all about labels! So here are my efforts - still not as wonderful as one could make them, but a huge improvement over what they could have been.

So I`ve mailed in my form and fee, washed the quilts, counted the hours, made the labels, and now the nonsense of `samples must be attached`. Because some people with more ego than brains have in the past entered quilts that they bought instead of made, we are all now required to attach samples of the fabrics used in the quilt. But - the samples are generally smaller than the 1" size required (the At Home and Away I didn't decide to enter till after it was done - I had trouble finding anything! - lesson learned:)) This is what I came up with :

Meanwhile, I'm working hard on the Sally Post quilt - this is the third quilt I've done for others in the past couple of months - that's two quilts too many at all for me, and I'm really getting tired of this. The next one that's for someone else is my Mom's Christmas present, so I'm leaving that till December - I hope! Quilting quilts to leave the home for me are somewhat more stressful - I try to be extra neat, sitches straight and even, quilting imaginative, and of course the piecing or applique the best it can be. Quilting for home is fun - these quilts are well used by my family so I have lots of room to practice skills, try new things, and not worry about lopped points or frayed edges :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

How many hours? continued

This is really driving me nuts. I just can't sense any reality in whatever numbers I might come up with.

Folk Art Finery now has a total of 35.5 hours which includes 14 hours for quilting.

At Home and Away is whole other story. I just don't know how to begin. I designed this myself, so I was done over a period of almost a year...working on EQ, planning blocks, sewing them and then testing their placement and maybe not using them. For a while, I had two more borders which aren't there now!

At Home and Away is a tied quilt, so lets say its quilting took about 8 hours. There is no applique, but lots of piecing. I could say there are 9 groups of blocks, an average of about 4 hours per group - now I'm really guessing! - so 36 hours plus 8 equals 44 hours.

Hmmm....I think I'll say 45 hours for Folk Art Finery and 54 hours for At Home and Away. I never will keep track of hours, as who really wants to know?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Theraputic Quilting

My Mom had decided to not answer her phone - she lives alone, and is in reasonably good health, but there are reasons to worry when she doesn't answer the phone or call back sometime during the day. My sister, who lives close by, would go and check on her but she's out of town until tomorrow night. My Mom has in the past arbitrarily decided that she is mad at someone and that is her reason for ignoring the phone - when we finally reach her she gets very upset (read, angry) at the thought of us being worried and checking up on her (meaning...is she so old that we have to check and worry? - yes...) This of course does not work two ways - I have to check in daily or give a reason ahead of time (sort of like school) ever since I wound up in hospital eight years ago (to be fair, there has been a few emergency visits since, so I sort of understand her worry - but Mike would be sure to tell if there was a problem).

All day yesterday she was not answering her phone, and without my sister I was worried - although I knew deep down she was likely fine and just doing her thing. A sleepless night, then waking up and realizing I had a few hours until I could phone her after 8:00. So - I pieced. A charm square table runner.

I phoned at 8:15 and she answered - I calmly explained that I was worried that she hadn`t answered her phone, or called back, yesterday. She says, ``oh, that`s sweet....you know that area that`s being rebuilt near my home, they have lovely stores....`` and she launches into a story about her shopping adventures, purchase of a new bench for her hall, and blah blah blah. Not an apology or explanation. Again, this is typical of her and I fell for it :)

So mad at myself - I should know better - I quilted that table runner - and its lovely! It will always be a reminder to me to not worry when there`s nothing to be done - except quilt, lol.


The pattern is Crossroads, in the Charmed and Dangerous book by Ankas Treasures; the fabric is Victoria from Benartex (those wonderful almost free charms that arrive at my door a few times a year for just $25 annually - see the Benartex website for the club details).

Butterfly Garden

This week, I did a lot of applique - partly because I wasn't having fun quilting the Sally Post Sampler. I did one block of Butterfly Garden, an easy needleturn quilt from the summer issue of Fons & Porter. I liked this block because it gives free rein to completely mix up colours, use big prints, some uglies from the stash, and just generally go wild with no concern at all for a colour scheme.

I have mixed feelings about the finished block - its very large (to me, who usually works on smaller pieces), I don't like the flower and especially its leaves, and I'm not happy with the solid black I chose for the butterfly body.

Align Center

What I'll do with the next one is try a 9" block instead of 12", try a black and white print fabric for the body, and use a different flower and leaves. The Piece O Cake book Applique Delights has a few ideas, and so does Janet Pitmans' Applique, the Basics and Beyond. I may end up making the quilt from 12, 9 and 6 inch blocks, with various flowers and leaves or none at at all on the smaller blocks.

I also completed another 21 birds block, and got everything organized and fused - and even started sewing - the next Cherry Berry Album block.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How Many Hours?

The rule book for the quilting entries at our local fall fair states to write down on the tag "how many hours did it take to make this quilt". (Actually, I'm sure I read this somewhere, as I've been thinking about this a lot, but now of course I can't find that rule - I'll figure it out anyway, just to be sure I have it available).

How many hours.....wow, have you ever kept track? I guess if you quilt on commission you might, but the best I can do right now is guesstimate.

So, first up is Folk Art Finery -
9 blocks, machine appliqued - 20 minutes prep each, 15 minutes sewing each - so, about 1/2 hour each block....4 1/2 hours? I'm sure it took much longer than that!
machine appliqued border swags - 14 total, about 10 minutes prep, 10 minutes sewing, 20 x 14 is about 4 hours
yo yos - 1 hour
quilting - days and days!! I guess I could say to myself that I did an average of an hour a day total, for about two weeks, so about 14 hours?
binding - lets just say about 15 minutes for each third long side and half short side, so about 2 and half hours

This has got me laughing - as I could never sit and do anything for longer than a half hour at a time, I really have no way to know if it really might be possible to do any of the above in the amount of time I've come up with.

The total hours at this point in the game would be 35 1/2 hours. One full work week! Is this at all a realistic estimate?

Tomorrow, I'll do the math on At Home and Away, and see if I can come up with some numbers I think might be reasonable.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I spent the weekend practicing the use of thimbles. Well, first I did some needleturn on the porch on Saturday morning - a beautiful fall day, sunny and just warm enough. My poor third finger is a mess - peeling, swollen, and stabbed beyond its tolerance :) Two full sized quilt bindings, and two blanket stitch applique blocks, had done their damage as I do not use a thimble. I have tried and tried, but somehow I think I developed a way of sewing where I rely on that finger for more than just pushing the needle. But after the third stab of the day on Saturday, I cried uncle.

I went looking for the leather coin thimble I had tried to use at some point, but obviously I hated it more than I remembered as I had hidden it real well and it could not be found. Next up was the wide variety of metal thimbles I had collected from various places over the years. I quickly gave up on the closed one, and was having some success with the open top one.

Mike went off to Walmart on Sunday morning, and I asked him to take a look at the notions wall just to see what they might have (they have recently closed their fabric department, so I wasn't even sure what sewing notions might be kept).

To my suprise, he came home with two fairly good options. They both kind of work! I can't really decide which one I like best, and I'm still applique-ing very slowly, practicing on a little needleturn block - but I think with patience and practice I will get used to one of these and save my finger from permanent damage and callouses.

On the left, "assorted flexible thimbles", 3 in a package, Unique

In the middle, an old metal thimble with open top

On the right, "fingertip thimble", Dritz

Friday, September 19, 2008

Creativity strikes!

I love these days when suddenly I have great ideas that just make things click.

This morning I got to basting the Sally Post sampler, from sentimentalstitches.net. I've promised this quilt to the church, as early as September 30 - so I thought I better get going! I so enjoy the fusible batting that makes life so much easier. As I'm basting, I'm thinking....how am I going to quilt this? The only thing I could think of was something somewhat traditional, but after that I was blank. Rolled it up and put it aside for now.

Meanwhile, while I'm very happy with 21 Birds and Cherry Berry Album, I want something to needleturn applique - I keep thinking of vines. I've been flipping through my patterns, books and magazines, drawing on eq, when I remembered the Nancy Page Club Magic Vine quilt - another great applique design put together by Gayle at Sentimental Stitches. Well, this will fit the bill for me exactly - small easy pieces that my motor/brain skills can handle! (And, to confess, I've also been planning on a butterflies quilt from a summer issue of Fons & Porter - but that one will be done very slowly as I collect the right kind of large prints). But now I'm thinking - I don't want to go through this fabric grief again.

Off for a rest, when I thought of a "set" of fabric from Connecting Threads that I had put away - got it out, and within a half hour I'm working on the first Magic Vine block :) Then, while I'm working on that, my brain is quietly chugging away on design possibilities for the Sally Post quilt - and voila! - I've got it. Laid it on the floor, measured out the grid which I'll do with the machine hand quilt look stitch, and now I just have to pick out the right thread - as I'll be sewing over red, green, and peach

I just love these days! The sun is shining, my brain is in gear, and even if I don't get much sewing done, I've had fun.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An Applique Block Done - and its a keeper!

Here's my first block of the Cherry Berry Album, design by Betty Alderman.

I used 30 wt sulky blendables cotton thread to do the hand blanket stitch.

Meanwhile, I decided to do some clothing sewing. I used to sew a lot of my clothes, now its just some shirts, blouses, and pants. Believe it or not, my pants pattern is so easy, its faster than trying to buy ready-to-wear, and they fit too. So this week I'm just doing a couple of longer sleeve t shirts and a blouse. I'll do a pair of pants and tunic for Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Picture of indecision!

Yesterday I found myself planning yet another applique quilt - I think I found just the one that will give me the easy needleturn that I need. When I looked for a drawer in my sewing room that could hold the pattern and fabrics, look what I found:

There are ten blocks here - and these are just the ones I found in the drawer. I think there might be a couple more lurking around elsewhere - and I'm almost certain that some backgrounds I re-used after unstitching a piece or two. And don't forget - these represent not just sewing a patch or more, but planning a quilt layout colours and drawing templates or preparing a block for backbasting.Even I was suprised to see just how much trouble I've been having with making a decision on applique.

I'm not indecisive on planning piecing - I find a block or quilt I like, change it or tweak it a bit, pick the colours, and get going!

I did get some piecing done this weekend - three more flannel peaks blocks, and one more block from the 30s sampler.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wonder Blocks

About a month or so ago I wrote in my blog about planning quilts - one that I was going to do was orphan blocks from a series "somewhere in time" combined with blocks from Terry Martin's Wonder Blocks book.
Wow! These sure are wonder blocks. I had cut up the fabric a month or so ago, and yesterday wanted to do some simple piecing. 42 6" blocks in about an hour and half total sewing time.

And when I put a few up on my small design "wall", I could see how useful these blocks can be. There was no thinking, really, on how to arrange them. They looked great no matter what. I'll have to remember these blocks whenever I have orphan blocks, or a border, or even just want to make a quick quilt.

The star block in the centre of the picture is from "Somewhere in Time", a series I started but didn't finish. An earlier post in my blog shows the planning for what I'll be doing with this quilt.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hand Blanket Stitch

Here's the first of Twenty One Birds....pretty cute, eh? He just makes me smile. So I'll have to remember to sew on of these whenever I'm feeling tense - its quick and easy, fusible and hand blanket stitch with two strands of floss. I did the wing's stitches a little larger to give it more accent.

Meanwhile, I've discovered that I can't needleturn applique Cherry Berry Album. I tend to have eye fatigue, hand shakes, and some coordination problems and the small details in this pattern are just too much for me to do well. So I've ended up deciding to do that one with a hand blanket stitch as well. With the blanket stitch, I can just keep poking at the cloth until I'm sure I'm where I want to be, there's no risk of fraying, the thread is easy to see. I've started stitching it with two strands of sulky cotton blendables 30 wt. I think it looks good so far. Hopefully a picture will be here by the end of the weekend.

So now I'm without a needle turn project, which is disappointing. Perhaps I can keep looking and find one with very easy curves and points.

I still haven't turned on a sewing machine all week - today I would really like to get going on some piecing or quilting as I do enjoy it so much - if I don't get caught up with looking for yet another applique pattern!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

21 Birds

21 Birds could also be called, 21 different ways to do applique....

Indecision seems to rule my quilting life. Once I get a "good idea" in my head, I can't seem to let go of it until I have come up with a plan to incorporate it into something. This often leads to a domino effe ct amongst my list of quilts to do.

I received Betty Alderman's book and was still very happy with the Cherry Berry Album pattern. I quickly discovered though that some of the pieces would be challenging for my experience with needleturn, and perhaps I ought to look into other ways of making up this design. Betty Alderman uses fused pieces and hand blanket stitch.

Onto an email group, Applique Addicts, where I got great help. Into my books and patterns and samples, where I had more ideas to think about. Wool applique for this quilt was definitely calling my name.

All said and done, I think I've decided to stick with needleturn for Cherry Berry Album, redraw some templates to make it a bit easier for needleturn and embellish where necessary with hand embroidery stitches. I've also found enough batiks and hand dyes to use on this project, with just a bit of supplementing from the quilt shop, as I do think they will behave better on the tight curves and long narrow inner points.

And, as I am still interested in exploring hand blanket stitch, but not wanting to buy more fabric, I've decided to pursue another quilt called 21 Birds (from the book Stitched Raw Edge Applique by Sue Holly and Pat Nickels) - using fused applique and hand blanket stitch. So I've added another project to the list, and I certainly won't be lacking choices when I sit to do some hand sewing when resting or in the evening.

I'm still in a stage of not feeling up to much, I haven't turned on a sewing machine or an iron, or picked up a rotary cutter, since Friday. I hope that I can get to work on something today - even if its finishing my EQ lessons, or starting on one of those birds! I might even get the templates and overlays done for one of the Cherry Berry blocks.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Where I'm At - Current Projects

I'm tired and recovering from all the intense work on the fair quilts....I've also had an intense week dealing with Wendy's 16th birthday and especially the complete mess up of her timetable, including missing classes, and an additional computer glitch where she lost an entire two credits from last year. That, and coaching and monitoring Scott's entry into first year high school.

So, I will sit and ponder what I've got in my definite would like to work on projects for the remainder of the year -

Quilting -
  • Almost Log Cabin - I've started quilting this, and really only have about a day's work left
  • Sally Post Floral Sampler - an almost queen size quilt that is ready for basting, and I would like to have ready for the church at the end of September
  • Three small Christmas/Winter theme quilts - these are small wallhangings or table toppers that I started as gifts for my sisters and sister in law last Christmas, they're basted and ready to go - they're definitely headed out the door this year, but to whom I'm no longer certain
  • Sudoku - this one I started quilting when my Sapphire came back to me, reincarnated as an 870. Practiced and got my faith back in using the Sapphire before starting the fair quilts - I'm in no hurry to finish this by any specific time
Piecing and machine applique
  • Strippy Basket Sampler - this just needs wide borders added, to make it a bit bigger for my Mom, and needs to be quilted by Christmas!
  • Redwork Christmas and Jelly Roll - I have to start giving this some serious thought - I have a machine embroidery disk for the Snowman Collector quilt by the Stitch Connection, and a winter themed jelly roll bought last year - should this be a lap quilt or a wallhanging? This Chrimas or next?
  • Flannel peaks, the delectable mountain pattern that has the preliminary cutting done - I'd like this top done in January but its such an easy one to pick up the odd block or two I just might have the top done much sooner
  • 30s sampler - long term project that I'd like to work a little bit on each week or two
  • two BOM quilts - Jan Patek's 2008-2009 girl gang, and Liz Lois' Just Plain Nuts

For me, this list is too heavy on the quilting and too light on the piecing. I have a few other ufos and wips that I might get into this fall, and I certainly would like to make a new small (20 x 20) wallhanging for a certain area in my home; and also, a new Christmas wall hanging (36" square or so) to replace a wreath wall hanging that's been in use for too many years.

  • Applique - the Cherry Berry Sampler pattern book arrived, and I'm still in love with it. Some pieces look a bit challenging for needleturn, especially if not using the firmly woven batiks or handdyes. So I'm thinking about whether to indeed go with batiks, or stick with the fabrics I've chosen and do fusible applique with hand blanket stitch.
  • Hexagons - yep, I'm still slowly working with those vintage fabrics and english paper pieced hexagons
  • Hand piecing! - I would very much like to explore this a bit more, especially as I have a small collection Australian Patchwork and Quitling magazines that have a number of patterns that can really only be done well by hand piecing, and I think I'd enjoy learning
Okay, now I'm beginning to wish I never started this. I don't know if it makes me feel better to see how much I can do, or be thinking that I've set too many goals. Quilting is more than a hobby to me. As I am almost housebound, I have plenty of time to work on projects when the time is right. Despite being able to work only about a half hour at a time, and a doctor's rule of resting - one time rest for 2 times activity (meaning, 1/2 hour of activity means 15 minutes of rest); and often one time rest for one time activity; its amazing how much I can get done. Whenever I have the opportunity to try something new, or learn something new, I can. I'm studying Patsy Thompson's free motion dvds - fantastic - and I'm also taking a Quilt U class on Electric Quilt layouts.

Wish me luck - and please don't tell me how many days until Christmas!

Friday, September 5, 2008

They're Done!

The quilts that I plan to enter in the local fair later this month are finally all done -
binding done, washed, and safely put away.

Folk Art Finery, designed by Lydia Quigley (The Rabbit Factory); machine piecing and applique; machine quilting

At Home and Away, designed on EQ6, machine pieced and quilted.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Sometimes, most of the time, I find quilt piecing to be meditative and peaceful. Something about putting all those little pieces under the needle, rhythmically chain piecing and gradually building bigger and bigger pieces as they are joined.

Yesterday, after months of searching I finally found my hand applique project. And then I needed to piece!

First up is a delectable mountains pattern that I found in an older issue of Australian Patchwork and Quilting. Last fall I made my first and only flannel quilt and the family has fought over it ever since - our house can be very cold in the winter. I promised to make another. I bought a flannel layer cake (10" squares) on super sale in January - no wonder they were on super sale - the colours didn't have much range, nor did they have much range in light to dark. So I've been puzzling over this for a while, and this pattern seemed perfect. It is easy easy sewing - brilliant method for making rectangular delectable mountains (unfortunately, I can't give it here as that wouldn't be nice to the designer).

From very dull to very bright, next up is a Lori Smith pattern. 30's Sampler, that a quilt elf delivered to my sewing room. She must have snuck in one evening and found my leftover 30s fabric, from the Sally Post Floral Sampler, and came back and delivered the pattern into the box. Wonderful! I like to have a loooong term project with lots of variety. The picture here is of the first block, somewhat pieced, and with a little mistake in one corner!


Monday, September 1, 2008

I found it! THE applique pattern!

Here it is, designed by Betty Alderman, called Cherry Berry Album

Its got style, whimsy, even a rooster! And, I think it will work with the colours I've already picked out....now to wait for it to arrive.

Now, the bad part. First I found the pattern itself. Ready to order...then, when looking for the best place to order it from, I found a book of Betty Alderman's patterns, including this one but also including some others that look interesting. Please I hope I won't change my mind when it arrives - and it cost me more than just the pattern or the book as I have an agreement with the kids which is they get a book each when I get a book from Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.

Now that's settled, I think I'll clean up my fabric mess, maybe do some piecing, and get back to the binding.

Applique Planning

I think I've lost count on how many applique tops I've planned but not sewn over the past several months. I get the fabric right, but don't like the pattern. I get the pattern right, but can't find the fabric. I *think* I have both the fabric and a patttern I like, but realize after one block that it wasn't really what I wanted.

I'm not sure what I'm looking for - something challenging, but not so hard that I can't sew at night while a little tired :) Not necessarily floral. Something that will adapt to everyday quilting cottons, and doesn't need batiks or hand dyes to give the effect - I just can't afford these usually, and I don't usually work with these and have them in my stash. Something with solids would nice, too. I tend to like small blocks, less than 12", rather than larger ones. I don't know - I've played with vines, borders, samplers, florals, traditional cut work shapes as in oak leaf and reel, hawaiin cut work, combined pieced and floral....what on earth do I expect to find out there, or to dream up?

This is my latest gathering of fabrics that I would like to put into an applique pattern,

The pattern I've settled on - but still wishing for something else - is this sampler from Applique Delights by Piece O Cake. I've even set up a block ready to sew, but I'm still hestitating as I can't quite get the feeling that I *am* settling. So much work goes into these needleturn applique blocks that I really want to know that I'll be happy with each piece as I work with it!

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About Me

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southern Ontario, Canada
I began quilt-making in January 2001, as therapy following diagnosis a chronic autoimmune condition. I enjoy creating and exploring hand and machine applique, machine piecing, english paper piecing, machine quilting, and machine embroidery. I have been working with Electric Quilt for several years and I'm comfortable with just about very aspect of using EQ to design pieced, applique, and embroidery quilts. I'm an early retired Mom with two teenager and a son who'll be married in Fall '09. My husband is my biggest quilting supporter.

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