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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