Monday, March 29, 2010

Design Wall Monday #13

This week I have a brand new project to show!
I signed myself and my sister up for a mystery quilt class on Friday night at Reichards. This was her first quilting class ever and she was very excited. This is the fabric kit we each received...everything all pre-cut and organized for us, which is a real treat for all students, but especially for my sister who is new to quilting.
Here is our wonderful teacher Deb Beirnes, just back from a teaching engagement in British Columbia! And beside her is the quilt that we could make from the kit. The pattern is called Buzz Saw and there was enough fabric in our kits to make 12 blocks, plus the border and a scrappy binding. But of course I want to make mine bigger, so I am digging through my stash to find fabrics to add.
Here is my design wall today.
Aren't the pastel colours springy and perfect for playing with the week before Easter?!?!
I am thinking about making each buzz saw block from the same colour and am now auditioning fabrics. The blocks that are already sewn were the ones I made at the class, and the hunks of fabric pinned on the wall are "maybes" - fabrics to complete some of the partial blocks and to make new blocks. I can see on the computer screen that the purple is way too dark and I'll take that one out. I think I can happily add in the peach, the light purple and the blue. Any other suggestions?
I made this same design last year at retreat (you can see that one by clicking here) and it is a really fun block to sew. Annie's quilt was the first Buzz Saw I found and admired in Blogland. Then I saw Julie's - click here and she gave photo instruction and the link to the pattern in this blog post. And here is another one that Suze made - click here to see hers.
 Why don't you make one too?
If you want to see what other quilters are working on this week, go to Judy's blog and surf the great quilt blogs on her list.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thankful Sunday

I am counting my blessings today!
It is DH's birthday and for the last 5 days I have surprised him with a different gift. Yesterday I toured him around to some bookstores, since reading is his favorite hobby. One of the locations we dropped some cash was the World's Largest Bookstore in Toronto!

We spent the evening with my entire family to celebrate the three March birthdays. It's not very often that all my siblings, parents, nieces and nephews are in the same place, and yesterday evening it happened! We made a big deal about "Earth Hour", by creating a little video about how we celebrated, which my niece wanted to make for a class presentation. There were 10 children there and we discussed the importance of this symbolic gesture of turning off the lights for 1 hour, and the ways in which we can make the earth/cities/homes healthier places to live. The older guys entertained us by singing and playing guitars, the younger kids enjoyed playing outside in the dark, and the remaining older kids played Bananagrams by is a photo of my 2 sisters, 2 of my nieces and my daughter in the middle of a game. What a great evening we had!

The weather has been so lovely this spring and the flowers are starting to bloom. Here are some daffodils just waiting for warmer weather.
We can't wait for the outside colour to return!

And until then, we bring the colour inside to enjoy!

Saturday Sampler #12

The block pattern for this week's Saturday Sampler block was another block from the Quiltmaker magazine.

The directions for this block were great and the block went together really well...

Did I sew the bottom row on upside down?

I took off the bottom row and resewed it...

Attempt #2 - still not right!

The middle "V" blocks look okay but now the 4 patches are wrong.

Three strikes and you're out! 
Better really concentrate this time!

Finally! The correctly pieced quilt block!
Number of patches in the 12" block: 100
Block Name: "Follow Me Home"
Block Designer: Elisa Wilson of Back Porch Design
Pattern Source: Quiltmaker 100 blocks magazine  (Block #71)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sweet treats from leftovers

What do you do with your quilting leftovers?
When I listened to Bonnie Hunter's interview on Pat Sloan's radio show, she talked about the importance of cleaning up after you finish a project and shared her ideas for organizing yourself. Bonnie compared it to cleaning up the kitchen after you finish cooking a meal. I am going to try out some of her ideas,  but in the meantime, this photo shows the bag of stuff leftover from my polka dot disappearing 9 patch from last year (click here to see my quilt). One of my closets has bags and boxes full of project leftovers just like this pile.
After visiting the Calico Gals in December and being inspired by their collection of adorable little pincushions, I decided to turn my leftovers into as many pincushions and pillows as I could make. It turned into a wee bit of an obsession and I especially loved using up my baby Half Square Triangles. Here is the pile of some of the pillows and pincushions I have made so far. I briefly thought I should open an Etsy store and sell these...I have enough leftovers to make thousands of them! But then I remembered that when you sell something, you never get to see it again and I changed my mind! LOL
Some of them are stuffed with shredded scraps of batting and some are stuffed with crushed walnut shells which is what the staff at Calico Gals recommended for their pincushions. I tried many combinations and decided that I like a combination of about 1/4 batting and 3/4 walnut shells. I also decided that I did not like how it turned out when I did some quilting on the little block before turning it inside out.

Then I got my mini quilt group turning their leftovers into these adorable treats and here are some photos of what they created.

A couple of pincushions, a hot mat and some bookmarks!

Here's a little collection of tiny pillows and pincushions. It was fun hearing about the projects that were originally made from these fabrics. See the trolls in the corners of some of the blocks?!?
I also thought it might be fun to put a little pocket on the back of the pillows to hold little love notes or other treasures.
Here is another group of projects. One group member made up a watermelon pincushion (click here for pattern) that she made from a kit she purchased at Quilter's Nine Patch and it was adorable. Someone made a paper pieced fish, and someone else...not mentioning any names (Barb) got carried away with beading her pincushion, which grew a tail and morphed into a fish! What great fun we had!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Design Wall Monday #12

You won't believe what I forced myself to do!
Borders! The part of quilting I like the least.
This is Judy's Quilt For An Hour project called "Freeze Frame".
I finished up until the little boxes border in October, but then I lost interest in the other 4 borders and it started drifting towards the UFO closet. It was rescued from that pile when the outside border fabric arrived that I had ordered from Back Door Quilts. I am very happy with how it turned out and look forward to quilting it, which is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt. If you have any suggestions for the quilting design, please send me your ideas.
But first I must decide whether to buy a large backing or piece my backing from the leftover scraps. Wonder which way I'll go on that?!?
If you would like to see the design walls of other quilters, go to the listing on Judy's blog - click here.
Happy Spring!
The weather here has been terrific...sunny and warm with record breaking temperatures for March. And the robins are back in town! I spotted this little guy singing his heart out in the tree in my front yard. Last year my robin post was March 30th, so spring has indeed come earlier this year! You can see that the buds aren't even out yet on the branches.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Leaders & Enders

For years I have been starting and stopping each line of quilting with a scrap of fabric.  I was never happy with the thread cutter on my Brother machine since it cut the thread ends too short, and then the needle always came unthreaded when I went to sew again.
So I started using the scraps, aka "the hairy guy" or "thready freddy"!
And guess what?
I have a jar for that!
Yep...I saved these little hairy guys in jars, and have no idea why, except that I am not a well person, but my blog readers already know that!
Since reading Bonnie's new Leaders & Enders book, I was inspired to organize a new project for myself.
I dug around in the closet and found the scrap packs I bought at Paducah last year. These are from Cherrywood Fabrics, which was one of my favorite booths at the Rotary show - click here to see the website and here to see what I bought. They sell hand dyed fabrics that have such a lovely texture that they look almost like suede.  I had purchased 2 of their "Scrap Bags for Crazies" because the title just applied to me!! LOL !

I opened up my Scrap Bags for Crazies and started cutting. First I cut fabrics for 4 patches, since they seemed to be a building block for many of the designs in Bonnie's book. I cut the large squares 3 1/2" because I could get 2 of them out of the size of the largest scrap. But that was way too big for me, so I cut some  a few hundreds of 1 1/4" squares and I love them.
So now instead of putting a thready freddy before and after each seam I sew, I stick a couple of little squares under my needle, and in several years time, I'll have a placemat to show you!!

Saturday Sampler #11

Well, here is my 11th Saturday Sampler block.
It was very worst block to date!

Block Name: Star Crossover
Block Designer: Diane Nagle
Pattern from: Quiltmaker 100 blocks magazine (#67)
The corner blocks went well, and the centre square was easy :)
But the other blocks would not come out to the correct size. 
Double checked my cutting...perfect.
Double checked my seam allowance...tried again with a smaller "scant" seam allowance...still no good.
I just could not get the blocks to be the right size or match up in the seams. 
See what I mean?!? No amount of ripping and resewing could convince these points to line up.
And so, I gave up and decided this would be part of the backing of the quilt that my Saturday Sampler blocks might become.
It was not a good choice of project to tackle for National Quilt Day!
But I did get to spend the day with some of my fellow mini quilt lovers and that was lots of fun! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A big finish from my UFO wish list!

It's finally finished!
It is bigger than my design wall so the photo isn't great quality, but here it is!
Date started: January 2008
Date finished: March 2010
Number of pieces: 2519 (not counting borders - calculations here)
Pattern designer:  Bonnie Hunter (page 42 in Scraps & Shirttails book)
Pattern name: Carolina Crossroads, but my version is called "Colour Crossroads"
Pieced and quilted in green thread: by me!
All the fabrics on the pieced top, the scrappy backing and the binding came from my stash...woohoo!
I changed the blue corners I had originally sewn on, since none of the blog readers who left comments on this post liked the they're green and I do like that better...thanks for the advice!
The binding is made from striped black and white fabrics.
And now I will adjust my UFO wish list on my sidebar! It feels so great to meet a goal!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bonnie's books

I have been enjoying Bonnie Hunter's first 2 books this week. Our guild librarian ordered them for us, and I got first dibs on borrowing them, since I requested them!  There are some great ideas for "green" quilting in the "Scraps & Shirttails" book, but my favorite is the "Leaders & Enders" book, which is full of ideas for organizing scraps and stash, and turning it all into finished quilts.

It is very cool to be reading Bonnie's books for the first time, while I have been machine quilting the first mystery quilt I made from Bonnie's patterns!  I have been really busy at work, so I haven't had much time for fun quilting, but I try to fit in a little bit of quiltyness every day, even if it's late at night. The past 2 weeks have been mostly reading at night and a bit of work on this quilt.
Here is a photo of stitching in the ditch quilting on my "Carolina Crossroads", which I call "Colour Crossroads". It was the first really scrappy quilt I made completely from my stash, and I enjoyed every minute of sewing it in 2008! It was also the first large quilt that I sewed on-pointe, and I was quite worried about all those bias edges, but it came together amazingly well!
It didn't get finished because (surprise, surprise!) I started a few more quilts after that! But I always really liked it and wanted it to be a finished quilt. I put it on my UFO wish list in January, started quilting it at retreat, and have been chiseling away at that quilting ever since.
I did a free motion swirl design in lime green thread on the wide border and circled through as many of the bright green circles as I could has been fun, although challenging with shoving such a large quilt through my machine.
Check back later in the week to see a) the finished quilt and b) my new leader/ender project.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Design Wall Monday #11

On my design wall today is my "Scrappy Trip Around the World" quilt top that I started piecing at retreat in February.  This was a great stashbuster project and is a free pattern from Quiltville - click here.  It looks much better on the computer screen than in real life I think!
All of these fabrics came from my stash, which is so exciting for me... I really am making some headway in using up what I have accumulated over the years! When I first started quilting I bought a lot of darker colours like this, but now I tend to buy brighter colours, so I am happy to clear these out.
Now I just need a border or two to make it a bit bigger...with the 24 blocks it measures 48" x 72".
What's on your design wall today?
Check out what other quilters are working on at Judy's blog list - click here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday Sampler #10

Blogger is a little slow this morning...maybe everyone is relaxing this morning with a cup of tea and reading the quilting blogs, and we are overloading the system!
My mind has been buzzing with thoughts of UFO's all week and I was even motivated to clean up one of my closets a little more thoroughly and found a couple more UFO's that I was delighted to discover. One is a really old baby quilt, stopped at the (boring) borders stage, so I'm going to finish that up right more procrastinating for me!
And another piece of good news, I took my sister to the quilt store to get some fabric she needed, and I RESISTED buying the fabric to start another new project!! (Pats on the back and clapping from blogland!!)  It was really hard to resist the purchase, but check it out here and see if you don't think my snowboarding, Olympic loving, teenage son would love this quilt - click here. Should I go back to the store?!?
In between cleaning and shopping, I found time to piece a block for my Saturday Sampler. It's a scrappy version of the Friday Block Party posting called "Joseph's Delight". You can check out their blog and see other versions of this block - click here. I really enjoyed sewing this and think this block would make a great scrappy quilt.
Block Name: Joseph's Delight
Pattern Source: Quilter's Cache

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Coming out of the Closet!

Our guild speaker cancelled on short notice, so I agreed to do a part of the program at last night's meeting. As you know if you follow my blog, I have been thinking a lot about my UFO problem. In January I  made a wish list of projects I would like to finish and posted it on my sidebar. I thought that it might be interesting, or at least validating for some fellow guild members, to see a part of my problem! So I dug into some closets, cabinets and drawers and pulled out a few quilt tops.
These are 19 of the quilt tops that I excavated in the afternoon of the meeting. Of course there are some closets and cupboards that I didn't even open, but these were the first ones I found. Then I made an assessment and asked each one... "What is your problem?" It was very enlightening to determine why each project had not been finished.
The most common reasons were:
-waiting for quilting ("I'm going to hand quilt that one"!)
-waiting for borders (boring!)
-needing more of a specific fabric that I haven't yet found (I like to shop!)
-waiting for a miracle (I hate it!)
I acknowledge that each of these quilt tops have taught me something about what I enjoy, what colours I like, what techniques I prefer, and each of these projects improved my quilting skills a little more.
The quilts that were waiting for borders...that's just my own lazyness/procrastination, and I decided to put them in a pile to be finished "soon". The quilts waiting for quilting, well, one of my fellow guild members took pity on me and offered to help me with that (more details to come in a future post).
And the quilts waiting for miracles, I decided to do something drastic. I had so much fun with adopting my friend's UFO last month (click here to read about that) that I decided maybe someone else would enjoy taking one of my failures UFO's home with them! So, I put 3 projects up for adoption at the guild meeting.
This gold/teal mystery quilt was missing the pattern but had some leftover fabrics to go with it, so maybe Pat F. the enthusiastic, adoptee quilter will figure it out with the remaining pieces, or make up her own layout.

This brown one, which I really disliked, still has a few borders with it, one of which is a pieced checkerboard and is already sewn together, however, the original pattern was MIA...I think it might have been a mystery project from the late 90's. It was adopted by Lori S. and she has a person in mind to finish it for...I was so excited about that!

And this yellow and blue QST quilt was made from a block swap in the early 90's and I just never liked it.  No one at the meeting wanted to take it home and it was feeling very dejected,  so a fellow guild member signed up a certain blog stalker of mine, who lives in Northern Ontario, to be it's new owner!! How about that...winning a quilt top draw by proxy! Poor her :)

So 3 of my UFO's are no longer my concern, and I can focus on the projects I still really like. I had to admit at the meeting that 1 of the quilts I found, I have no memory of making! I cannot remember the pattern but do remember one of the fabrics, which was a favorite of mine a long time ago...oh dear!
And I also have to admit that of the 17 UFO's on my wish list, only 5 of them made an appearance at the meeting last night (# 4 which is finished and I'll show later in the week, #6, #7, #11, and #16).
I know I have a long way to go, but last night felt like a good step in the right direction. Now if only I could find UFO # 14...maybe I should check that closet at the back of the laundry room?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Design Wall Monday #10

It is Design Wall Monday over at Judy's blog and this is my 10th posting this year! It's a great way to keep myself on track with projects and keep motivated to move projects along.
This project is a perfect example.
I received a UFO bag at my guild meeting in February and posted the first photo on a Design Wall Monday on Feb. 15th.
The first step was organizing all the pieces and figuring out what the blocks in the design were and how much fabric was with the project.
These are the piles I sorted out and then started doing some calculations on how many blocks the quilt still needed and how big the quilt could become with the available fabric.
The next step was starting to piece the required blocks and I posted that step on last week's Design Wall Monday post.
I worked on this project at retreat and recently sewed on the borders so that I could bring it to my UFO group to show the quilt owner. I used up almost every bit of fabric and hope to be able to squeak out enough from the scraps for the binding.
And now I can post on this week's Design Wall Monday...a finished top!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Saturday Sampler #9

Did you miss my Saturday sampler block blog posting last week?!? didn't notice anything amiss??
Okay...that's good then I am right on schedule :)
This week I worked on my 9th sampler block with a new light/background fabric that I found from a Buggy Barn fabric line.
I pieced a 12" block that I've made many times before for various projects, and still really like.  All the HST's were made with my favorite ruler - the EZ angle ruler which makes 2" HST blocks from 2" strips. I learned about this ruler doing the mystery quilts with Bonnie Hunter and it's my favorite now... I didn't even do any trimming of the blocks and they turned out just perfect!

Block Name: Mosaic Star
Source: Amy's 2010 BOM

I had a bit of trouble with the centre seam match up but was too tired last night to fiddle around and redo it. When you put it in with all the other blocks, you hardly notice it, so for now anyway, it's staying as it is!
And here are my 9 sampler blocks on the design wall. I am very happy with it so far! I have no idea how I will set my blocks together yet, but am just enjoying the process of selecting a pattern each week, and playing with the fabrics I collected (you can see the fabrics here) to piece a unique block.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Getting Reorganized

I am finally getting reorganized from quilt retreat. I was away a couple of days and then in denial for a while, and now I have to face the fact that retreat is over for another year and I have to clean up!
This was the pile of stuff that sat for days waiting to be put away. Some of the projects are back in the cupboard (probably until next year's retreat) and some of them I am determined to finish up.
I organized a couple of projects into these scrapbooking storage boxes with everything I need to work on the blocks... my needle case, scissors, and thread.  These are my quilt-as-you-go string blocks and I am sewing the twosies into foursies using purple sashing. I wanted to finish these during the olympics but I got so wrapped up in watching the action and cheering for the athletes, that I didn't get much accomplished at all. Here is the pile of blocks waiting to be sewn together, which I like to do by hand.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Design Wall Monday #9

This past week gets the Olympic Gold Medal for the fastest passing week on record!
I feel like I blinked and the week was over. First it was quilt retreat and we all know how fast that goes by.
Today is Design Wall Monday over at Judy's blog and I have been working on the UFO bag that I wrote about 2 weeks ago - click here. It is coming together really quickly because almost half of the blocks were already made and all the pieces were cut out. I sorted and pressed all the pieces and determined that there are 2 different blocks. These are the centres of the star blocks, and there will be 17 of these. I'm loving working on this project...other people's UFO's are way more interesting than your own!
After retreat my DH decided to take a quick trip to ski in Vermont. Okay, that's 1 day to drive there, 1 day to ski and 1 day to drive home. Doesn't make much sense to me, but I'm always up for an adventure. Can you guess what I did for 1 day in Vermont?!? I looked for a quilting store of course. I had checked briefly on the internet and only found 1 store near where we stayed, and it was closed on Saturday :(
But in driving around the area I was delighted to find a fabulous new store called the Waterwheel House Quilt Shop. This was my great luck to find this wonderful brand new store! You can tour the store on their blog - click here.  They have tons of new fabrics that I haven't seen know, the new fabrics that are in the current magazines! There is a lovely classroom and so many colourful samples to see. And they have a lovely dog named Gracie that I would've adopted on the spot - you can see a picture of her on this blogpost.
Here I am out front of the store (with my bag of purchases) showing how much snow they have was a winter wonderland! Look for an upcoming project that I started at this store - and by "started", I mean that I've just bought the fabric so far!