Friday, July 31, 2009


Yesterday I decided I would finish the centre of Pick and Choose.  Not too much to do – just finish putting together the four patches into blocks, then piece the sashing strips.

I got the blocks put together, counted them, and came up with 18, instead of 20.  Okay….there are two more somewhere that I had made up some time ago just to see how the block would look.  Now, where the heck did I put them?

The sashing strips are made up of umpteen 1 1/2” by 6” strips, pieced to form long strips that come to about 75”.   Two of these strips are sewn together lengthwise to end up with a 2” finished size sashing.   I sewed up 9 or 10 of these, then proceeded to cut up enough of these long strips to 12 1/2” to make the short sashing strips.  I grabbed my 12” ruler – cut, cut, cut – 24 pieces – sat down to sew them to my block – ack!  They’re short, or my block is too big!  Or….I just made the stupidest mistake ever, because 12” is not  12 1/2”!!!!!  Oh my – these pieces are not exactly replaceable scraps. 

By now I’m tired, and fed up, and mad as all get out.  I grab a basket of cut up neutrals that were meant for another background –  they were cut up to a size that might work, and they were neutrals – and started to sew those into the proper lengths.  By the time I realized that what I really had to do was make all the sashings neutral – that I couldn’t get away with short neutrals and long strips of scrappy – I had to put it down for the day.

But first – I had to find those darn two missing blocks.  Which were no where.  For a few moments, I seriously considered making the quilt with 3 x 4 block setting, instead of 4 x 5; but forced myself to find enough leftover pieces to make 2 more blocks.  I did have to stop for the day though, while my sewing room looked like something had exploded.

This morning I got right back to it, before I forgot what it was I planned to do; and before I chickened out.  I did get the new sashings sewn, the new blocks sewn, the centre of the top sewn.  Now just the final pieced border remains. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More applique play

I made yet another partial applique block yesterday – this time a design from one of Kim Diehl’s book.  I’ve now decided that I definitely need to treat myself to some new fabric :)

I’m bored with my stash; unhappy with how the fabrics I want to use are looking in the projects I thought they’d be good for.  Time for some new stuff – some style familiar, not so different that I won’t be happy working with it – but different enough that I get a little lift.

I’m also looking for a “just right” pattern – not really flowers, vines, wreaths, samplers – I’m looking for some pattern that has a repetition of a single block.  Something I can slowly work away at, just to keep up my needleturn skills.

I keep thinking of the Applique Sampler I did from the Piece O Cake ladies – that quilt was all done in FigTree quilts moda fabric.  I love the look, but never went back to it.  Kind of got stuck in a rut of civil war repros, and tiny prints and tone on tones.  Tried some brights, but they weren’t my style.

piece o cake sampler 2

So I’ll do some shopping, I’ve got yet another pattern in mind, Twining Blooms & Baskets by Elly Sienkiewicz and hopefully have some positive results soon!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fiddling with applique

I spent the weekend playing with the idea of another applique project.  While I already have handwork on the go (redwork, wool applique, even hexagons), and I have a few machine applique projects happening, I very much miss needleturn applique. 

I keep thinking I’ll approach an applique pattern via needleturn, then reality sinks in and I’ll end up using a machine applique method. I am very slow at needleturn applique, what with periodic hand shakes, stiffness and cramping.  I also have this annoying self talk going on – you *can* make a needleturn masterpiece!; no, what’s the point?  I want my quilts to be used and loved and I already have made two pretty darn good needleturn wallhangings! 

I would just like a project that I can pick up and put down without any timetable in my head – whenever I get the itch to needleturn!

Here are my experiments from this weekend – all were easy to sew, all are okay fabrics, but none gave me the *eureka!* moment – because of the fabric, the pattern, or both.

The first three are from a basket pattern in Kay MacKenzie’s Baskets to Applique; the last one is a basket pattern from Piece O Cake, the flower arrangment is from Bountiful Baskets by The Rabbit Factory.






I’ll keep searching and playing with fabric and EQ – experimenting with applique is my biggest challenge, and although I have taken the easy road with a few block of the month appliques quilts, I am learning a lot from them regarding colour placement, background fabric choices, and design.  This will I’m sure help me to eventually make up my own version of a great needleturn quilt.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hmmm…an ugly quilt in the making?

pick and choose

I’m making up a quilt from a pattern called “Pick and Choose” by Carrie Nelson (Miss Rosie Quilt Co.) published in American Patchwork & Quilting June 2009.

All I can say is thank goodness I precut *everything* for this quilt – or else I might just have given it up somewhere along the line.

There is a lot of sewing in these blocks. Each block is made of four units, each unit is made up of two four-patches and two hsts, – I’ve sewn all the units, and made about 9 of the 20 blocks (the pattern calls for a 5 x 5 setting, I’m making 4 x 5). Oops – I can see a placement mistake in one of the blocks :) Then there is a pieced sashing, and a pieced border. The fabrics are almost all 1800s repros and a variety of printed neutrals. Right now I think it looks a bit like the dog’s breakfast, but amazing things have been known to happen when quilt blocks turn into a quilt – so I’m hoping!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The wonderful “old” Singer sewing machines

Here’s a picture of a wonderful Singer sewing machine that I’ve brought out for use for a while…

singer 411

I have a second hand Designer I that I bought for its embroidery ability, but now mostly use only for piecing and machine applique.  I enjoy using this machine because of all its bells and whistles which enable me to sew with less physical effort – auto presser foot lift; needle up down; even auto thread cutter – all this means that my hands stay on my fabric, and my foot stays on the pedal.

Today my D1 ended up with a broken bobbin winder – first it went clunk clunk when it started winding; after pushing it back into the non-winding postion, and then again into the winding postion, the bobbin winder post and something else went clunk down into the depths of the machine.  So it has to go the sewing machine doctor.

I do have a second machine – a wonderful Viking Sapphire that I bought almost two years ago – I use this for garment sewing; home dec; and most important, quilting!  I like to be able to set up my quilting, then walk away, and still do some piecing without having to disturb the quilting set up.

So my husband took a Singer 411G out of the cupboard for me.  We cleaned it up and oiled it.  Gee, I’ve forgotten just how much I love these older mechanical machines (they aren’t really old, because its younger than me! lol).  The clear view to the needle, the great straight stitch, the humm of the motor.  And, its just so much more interesting to look at than the current styles of plastic sewing machines.

singer 411 bed

The little metal gadget to the right of the needle in this picture is a seam guide – place it so the short edge is up against your fabric, the required distance from the needle – tighten with the screw and voila! a pefect seam allowance.

  The 411 is very similar to the Singer 401, except made in Germany instead of the States and if you have the right accessories, it can also do a chain stitch – handy for basting and decorative sewing.  The 401 was the first Singer machine made specifically for home use that did more than just a straight stitch.  As quilters, we’re all familiar with the Featherweight; the last straight stitch machines produced were a 201 and a 301, both full size.  There is a model called a 316 and its cousin, 319, that do zig zag and other fancy stitches, but this was made with more “industrial” type use in mind, and required special needles.

Prairie Vine

When I saw this quilt in Quilt Sampler, Fall 2007, magazine, I just fell in love with it. The pattern stuck in the back of my mind for some time, and when I made an order for some of the Hearth & Home fabric line from Connecting Threads, I realized that even though I had ordered the fabric for some other quilt (since forgotten), this fabric was actually perfect for the Praire Vine pattern.praire vine blocks

It was meant to be a straight setting of double x blocks, seperated by sashing, with the vine border. When I finished the blocks, I still had lots of fabric left over, and got to playing on EQ, of course. I fiddled with the double x block, simplified it, and set them as an alternate blocks, in a diagonal set.

prairie vine eq

There will be a lot of leaves to applique! I’ve set aside the blocks for now; I have to order the border fabric; and I already have lots of handwork. I’m not sure how I’ll be doing the leaves – so many choices for applique!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Centre of the Storm, and getting back on track

I haven’t been posting a note for while as I’ve been, well, unable to write or focus much, as even now I’ve re-written this opening sentence about five times!

My family has been going through some rocky times, each person with their concerns and problems, all affecting me as wife and mother – how can i support them? - how can I fix it?!! (i know, can’t be done) – am I listening well enough? – am I letting them know I’m there to help, without crowding?what can I do other than worry?

My quilting is usually where I dump all this self-talk, and focus on creating, while my brain subconsciously works though the problems. The past few weeks though, this has been difficult, and all I’ve got is several projects, started or finished, that just don’t seem to make me happy. I sure hope I can get out of this slump soon – I do believe that if I’m happy, then those around me might catch it!

I’ve been working away at some piecing and finishing, thinking that eventually there’ll be “click” of aaahhh. this is good :)

This morning I was looking for a picture of a finished quilt, somewhere on my computer. I know its here, because I’ve used it on a blog post. But i cannot find the actual picture, and I’d like to print it out to doodle on for quilting ideas. I also can’t remember under what EQ file name its saved under, and I have too many EQ quilts to count. This made me realize that things have gotten way out of hand – I’ve been in too much of a fog of disorganziation and . So because this blog is meant to share a quilting journal - I better get back to it before I get to lost.

Here’s a finished top, that I completed a few of weeks ago. Its Lori Smith’s pattern, 30’s sampler. I’m not very happy with how the arrangement of colours turned out – the quilt just looks crowded, with no one place to look at.


This is a good example of why I do some quilts as a block of the month. I rely heavily on EQ for my quilt planning, and with a sampler quilt such as this it really can’t be done. I don’t have a full size design board, and if I did, I’m sure I would have arranged the blocks differently, or chosen colours differently.

I finished up the sampler because I got an itch to start the sampler blocks in the new book Sylvia’s Bridal Sampler. I made myself finish this one, which was hard as I knew it was going in a direction I didn’t much like. The new sampler, which I’m simply calling Elm Creek, will be all blues on an ivory background. Much easier for me to work on, knowing at the end it pretty much has to look right with a one colour scheme.

Now, i should go and do some clean up on the blog lists on the sidebar, and remember to use tags and such so I can better organize my posts!

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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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