Monday, February 28, 2011

Design Wall Monday #9

This is my what adorns my design wall today.
You can read more about the project on the left in Saturday's blog post - click here. I intended to stitch the remaining block last night while watching the Oscars, but my kids decided to watch it with me for the first time ever, and it was so much fun to hear their commentary that I forgot all about my stitching. We were cheering for the King's Speech  and were delighted that it won 4 Oscars!
So because of the King's Speech, the missing block in my wallhanging is still missing!
On the right of the design wall, is a new project (I already confessed to a raging case of startitis!)  I took a bag of donated fabrics (thank you Marion!) and cut them into 1 1/2", 2 1/2", and 3 1/2" squares and strips, to use in a pattern called "Hip Baby".  The blocks in the left column are the ones from the pattern. Two of these blocks I don't like, and won't make any more of. The blocks in the right column are ones I added to the collection and will be making more of those to use up the rest of the scraps. Very fun!
And just in case you think that I only know how to start projects, I did finish my February UFO!!
Grab a cup of tea and pop over to Judy's blog to see the other design wall blogs today...there were 85 participants last week!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

UFO Challenge - February

Finishing my UFO challenge this month turned out to be a delight!
Judy pulled #10 for the February challenge.  My #10 was a round robin project of my quilt guild from at least 10 years ago...long enough for many of the details to have escaped me :)
My round robin started with this flower block. The pattern may have been by Jeanne Prue, but I don't see it on her website, so I might not be remembering this correctly. I used to love the intricately pieced flower blocks that she posted on her website. (She now has some state flower blocks posted - click here.) If you recognize this block pattern, please tell me where I got it from!
I was so pleased with myself at the time because I hand painted the pink and yellow flower fabrics and was so happy to be using my own fabrics in a quilt.
Then my block went to the round robin, and 2 guild members ( I think it was Sue K and Sharon B? I know you read my blog I remembering this right?!?) added borders to it. Since then it has been sitting in the UFO closet because I was sure I was going to make it into a larger wallhanging.  My idea was to add more mini basket blocks as another border. But I could never get the size right and the idea just didn't gel.
Finally I decided that this project was as big as it was going to be, and I wanted to enjoy it instead of having it sitting in a dark (and overstuffed) UFO closet!
I just had to remove the paper from the back of the HST border, baste and quilt. I did some straight line quilting with my walking foot...nothing fancy. The hardest thing about finishing this quilt was deciding on the binding fabric. I couldn't decide between the green or a light plaid that has all the colours of the quilt. Since it is a spring wallhanging, I went with the lighter colour plaid cut on the bias and am really happy with it now.
The finished size is 17" x 19" and it is already hanging on the wall for my enjoyment!
You can see lots of other finished UFO's from February over at Judy's blog - click here.
The new UFO number pulled is #1, which I have located and am looking forward to working on in March.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Scrappy Saturday - Red

This is the last Saturday for the red rainbow scrap challenge.  For January's blue challenge, I managed to find a UFO featuring the colour of the month and made great progress on see my January's blue project click here. This month I tackled a redwork UFO - hand stitched blocks from 2008. You can read more about this project in my UFO confessional - click here.
Last Saturday I went through my red scraps and cut out pieces for the alternate blocks.  I had way more red scraps than needed and am now contemplating a scrappy border to use up those leftovers. Here are the blocks on the design wall. Notice the hole where the last stitched block should be? I'm still working on that one!
Just for fun, you can click on these links to see some of the other creative settings used for these adorable stitchery blocks:
Quilts and Siggies (being hand quilted!)
Michelle's Quilts (scroll down to see this project)
It was my goal to get this top sewn together by the end of February, but that won't happen.  My red project might have to extend into March. Wonder what the March colour will be?
Hop over to Angela's blog to see what other red projects are seeing some progress this week - click here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Retreat Report Day 4

The last day of retreat is very different from the first day. The excitement of seeing old friends has been replaced by excitement to see your family, the enthusiasm of being on vacation has turned to exhaustion from too many late nights & early mornings, the creative energy is depleted from working on your own quilts and consulting on other quilters' projects, and you just couldn't possibly eat one more great meal! I guess you really can get too much of a good thing!
I need a holiday to recover from quilt retreat! LOL
I did manage to get some arcs sewn for my Indian Orange Peel project.  These are my #33 - #52 arcs.
The photo on the left shows the most recently sewn cool coloured teeth on warm backgrounds, and the photo on the right shows the warm coloured teeth on cool backgrounds.
I spent way more time than I wanted to fussing around about whether certain fabrics should be classified as a warm or cool colour according to the teacher's instructions. I discovered that the red-violet fabrics are the hardest for me to classify and I am certain that I have some red-violet fabrics that have been used as both a warm AND as a cool colour in various arcs.
According to my production chart (to tackle a huge quilting project we all make production charts, right?!? Okay...don't answer that!) I was supposed to finish 92 arcs by this Saturday, so I'm just a little short of that goal at 52 finished arcs...yikes! I only have 3 more weeks before the final class, so I will have to bump up the arc production line!
When I arrived home, look what was waiting for me in the mailbox...
a mug mat from Mary over at Mare's Nest blog. She was celebrating her 300th blogpost and sent me a mug mat, which you can see has already been used. The green and white hexagon background is the mailer it was in (cool, eh?) and the back of the mat has karate monkey fabric that you can see on her blog link...very fun! Thanks so much for the gift that will be well used!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Retreat Report Day 3

Day 3 was a lot of much was accomplished AND the massage therapist was here to soothe our aching muscles!
I was able to finish this quilt top that I started last week. It's a disappearing 4 patch, the same as my finished UFO for January - click here to see it. I started cutting up some 5" squares from fabric donated to the guild and before you know it, I was loving the soft colours (that I don't usually work with) and now it's a finished quilt top, ready for quilting!
This is the last day of retreat, so we are going to clean up and get in a few more luxurious moments of sewing, before we head home to see how our families survived without us.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Retreat Report Day 2

We are having a fabulous time at retreat...sewing, visiting, relaxing and not sleeping much! Yesterday I sewed a few arcs for my IOP, a few Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll blocks, and worked on my UFO alternate blocks. But I got mostly wrapped up with this little laser cut kit from John Flynn.
I took a photo of the kit beside my rotary cutter so you can get a sense of the size of the pieces. It's a mini storm at sea block and I am LOVING playing with this!
I'll upload a photo if when I get a block done.
Here it is! On my computer screen, it's bigger than in real life! The corner blocks are 1" and the center block is 2" fun is that!?!?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Retreat Report Day 1

We enjoyed a great first day at quilt retreat. We trudged through the snow to unload all our equipment and projects, but everyone got here safely.
 I forced myself to sew a couple of arcs for my Indian Orange Peel, and then brought out a new project....a pattern from the Blue Underground Studios called Labyrinth, but wasn't feeling the love for that project :)

The internet access here is terrible. I frequently get messages like ..."failed to open page" or "the server unexpectedly dropped the connection. Wait for a few minutes and try again." I am used to high speed internet access so this is painfully slow for me and I don't have the patience to wait when my sewing awaits! I'm not sure if this post will actually go through successfully but we shall see. Retreat reports may not be as frequent as I was hoping, and although I tried for a half hour to post a photo, that was unsuccessful! The photos have appeared...woohoo!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Design Wall Monday #8

I have never been so happy for Monday to arrive! I am going to my annual quilting retreat today...yippee!
All that is on my design wall today are these 2 little projects. You can read about the larger 4" heart blocks here and I started another smaller version with 2" pastel hearts...soooo cute! I can't decide if I like the mini hearts without a sashing or not, so I'll leave them there and decide when I come home.

Hop over to Judy's blog to see the design wall Monday postings - click here.
Here is my luggage all packed up for the retreat...only 4 bags this year.  In those bags I have managed to pack 10 projects! I'm not taking any machine or hand quilting to do this year since I have so many UFO's to work on and piecing to do. Oh yah...I hope I remember to pack some clothes and PJ's too!

I have also packed up the books I made from last year's retreat. It's very easy to make to make a book from your blog. There are lots of book making companies out there now but this was my 4th year using Blurb to make a book full of photos and memories from our annual quilt retreat and they do a great job.
In 2007, I ordered 2 copies of my book and they cost $27 each. In 2011, I ordered 17 copies of my book and they cost $22's a better deal every year!
If the retreat centre WiFi is working, I'll post blog updates every day this week.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Scrappy Saturday - UFO Confessional

I read Elly's post about working on her "Quilters' Blessings" redwork block and wondered about my own project. I went in search of my blocks and found them!
There is always a reason why a project becomes a UFO and part of the process to end the parade of projects into my overflowing UFO closets is to take an inventory...and to be ruthless about it.
Last year I did an UFO inventory and decided to put 3 UFO tops up for adoption. They were quilt tops that I knew I just did not want to work on anymore (to read more about that click here).
This year when I made my 2011 UFO (unfinished objects) Wish List, I took several projects off the list that needed some ongoing work and would not be finished in a reasonable amount of time. They went on my new W.I.P. (Works In Progress) Wish List.
This project is one of my favorites from that list...Quilter's Blessings was a Block Of the Month from Capricorn Quilts in 2008.

Here's the inventory:
-there were 16 block patterns released and I stitched 11 of the patterns and ran out of my base fabric. Then it went on top of a big pile of projects I was working on, and gradually worked it's way to the UFO closet, while I thought about what to do about the fabric problem. 11 blocks is a hard number to work with in a quilt layout.

Now for the ruthless questions...
A) Do I still like it and want to work with it?
             Yes...I still really like it and want to make it into a finished quilt.
B) Will I realistically finish stitching the remaining 5 blocks?
             Likely not, because I have several other hand stitching projects on the go. But I could easily finish 1 more block to make an even 12 blocks to work with.
C) What are my next steps?
             Step 1: Pick a similar piece of white background fabric and trace 1 more block to stitch.
             Step 2: Figure out how to set the blocks together.
In deciding what size to make some setting blocks, I realized that my stitched blocks are all different sizes. That was a shock! Could it be that my brain wasn't firing on all cylinders due to all the night shifts I worked this week?!? In the 3 years I have been working on this project, I never realized that my printed out patterns and finished blocks are varied sizes. At this point, the project was in again in danger of drifting toward the UFO closet!
But not this time! I will forge ahead and trim all the blocks to the largest size and then make the alternate blocks that same size. On the right is a yellowed out photo showing the size variance.
I got out my red scraps and figured out an alternate block, which was inspired by Diane's quilt - click here to see it. I am going to make a smaller version of her alternate block. I cut up some blocks and strips and now have everything organized to make this one of the projects that I will take to retreat.
Did I mention that I am going on a quilting retreat?!?!
I am too tired to think about retreat at this moment (did I mention I worked too many night shifts this week?!?) but after a quick nap, I'm sure I'll be very excited to get all my projects packed up. Last year I took 11 projects to work on, and 5 of them did not even get touched!
If the WiFi is working at the retreat centre, I will make daily reports this week...stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Civil War Wednesday

I have sewn the next 2 civil war blocks. One was easy and one was H A R D!
Can you guess which is which?!?
The block on the left is called "Richmond" and I fussy cut the blue patches in the 4 patch blocks which were cut on the bias. That might have been what caused the problem, but you can see that my seam allowance on the outside of the 4 patch blocks is very small and I'm losing some points. But it's "good enough"!
I really enjoy reading the stories that Barbara Brackman writes on the civil war quilts blog, and especially appreciated the story about Uncle Tom's cabin.
You can see my other blocks here and get the patterns here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Design Wall Monday #7

On my design wall today is my guild's mystery Block of the Month project.  I have almost run out of the background fabric and had to substitute a light on block #12 which makes it really crazy looking! But I am happy with the vibrant energy of this quilt so far. This is the order that the block patterns were released and isn't very balanced in terms of the colours, but I wanted to show the guild members each of the blocks as the patterns were posted.
I am planning to add some borders, so that is what I will be cutting out today.
In a couple of weeks, when it's the mystery has been revealed at guild meeting,  I can tell more about the pattern on my blog and give you to the link to the instructions if you want to make one too. 
To see what other quilters are working on today, visit Judy's blog - click here.
Happy Valentine's Day! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Be Smart!

The first part of this post is only of interest to fellow bloggers...I was finally successful in purchasing additional storage space for my blog photos. The problem was that my blog was at the max for photo storage in Picasa, which is the program that Blogger uses to post the photos to your blog. If I started to delete photos from that account to free up storage space, those photos would no longer show up on my blog.
My options were: 1) start a new blog using another program like Wordpress or LiveJournal OR 2) purchase more storage space OR 3) have a photo-less blog (not an option!)
I wanted to stay with Blogger instead of starting over with a new system (I'm lazy!) so I researched the increasing storage option. Happily, to double my current storage space only costs $5! So I tried to purchase the space, but kept receiving error messages saying my "request entity is too large". My brilliant son (not bragging here, but I spent hours researching this, and was unable to figure this out!) suggested that I try another browser since maybe Google (owner of Blogger) doesn't play nice with Safari (browser of my beloved Mac) ...well, that's not exactly what he said, but that's what I was able to decipher from our conversation. I tried to purchase the storage space on another computer with another browser and TA DA I am back in business!
And here is my first photo stored in my newly expanded photo warehouse...
block #9 for my BeAttitudes quilt is completed!
This was the most fiddly block so far, with having to buttonhole stitch around the bird's little feet. But I am happy with how it turned out.
BeAttitudes is on my W.I.P. wish list on the right side of my blog (you can click on it to see my other blocks so far). I only have 3 more blocks to go.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Scrappy Saturday - Red

I found a fat quarter of this fun fabric in my stash and decided to make a little scrappy red quilt featuring this fabric in the border.  I collected up my red scraps and made some hearts using the dimensions from Bonnie Hunter's crumb heart blocks.

These heart blocks are so cute and really fun to make. And I found the perfect binding, which was cobbled together from scraps and just barely made it around the quilt.
Looking at in on the computer screen, I think the border is too wide, but I just love that fabric and it makes me smile, so that makes it perfect in my eyes!
I already have 2 other ideas for these little heart blocks...making a more miniature size (these are quite large at 4") and combining the hearts with the wonky letters from Tonya's book.

Hop on over to Angela's blog and see what the other rainbow scrap quilters are making this week - click here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tools I can't live without

On Stash Manicure there was a blog post about tools you can live without (click here to read it). That got me thinking about tools that I can't live without. My sewing machine is my #1 essential tool, and it's at the spa getting cleaned and oiled (in preparation for my quilt retreat at the end of the month).  I'm only able to survive because I have one or two "back up" machines available!
Color Catcher sheets are my #2 essential tool. I first used them last year (click here to read about it) and I toss in one or two with every quilt that I wash to ensure that the dye molecules don't run into places they shouldn't.  I haven't been able to find them in stores in Canada so I buy a couple of boxes every time I visit the US.   The sheets start out white and absorb any floating dyes... the pink sheet is the color catcher that came out of the washing machine after I washed this quilt.
And of course,  I can't live without my quilting blogs... my #3 essential tool.  Amy is posting a fun quilt-along which I am thinking of making from scraps, and Thelma is also hosting a sew-along to make the Eventide quilt, and Kim is hosting a blog hop...there just are not enough hours in the day to make good use of this tool!
What is the tool that you can't live without?

Monday, February 07, 2011

Design Wall Monday #6

I have a big reveal for design wall Monday this week and am so excited to show you my Cathedral Stars quilt top!
This project was started in this class with Bonnie Hunter in September last year.
These are my 2 blocks...
Jacob's Ladder, which I disliked because the red and green seem too dark and overpowering in the quilt,
and the Tri Recs Star blocks, which I really liked and which used up a lot of gold scraps.

And here are the blocks in my finished quilt top!
I picked the layout that had the least number of ladder blocks and the most star blocks, then tried to emphasize the gold with a small inner gold border. I don't love the is definately not nearly as interesting as Bonnie's quilt, but I do love that it is a FINISHED quilt top!  It is too large to fit on my design wall and is taped to the walls at the top and on the sides!
For lots of inspiration, click here to go to Judy's blog and see what other quilters are working on today.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Scrappy Saturday - Red

The colour of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is red, and in sorting through my scraps I discovered that I don't have many red ones. It isn't a colour I work with very often, except for Valentine's Day projects!
When searching for red scraps, I found this UFO which I pieced at retreat 2 years ago! It was one of the mystery patterns from Paper Panache.

I found the red scraps from piecing the rose and bordered the block, then started to remove the paper pattern from the back. That is a task that is best completed while watching TV.
Then I quilted very simply around the rose, the heart, and the leaves, and did some straight lines in the border.
And ta da...
a finished mini quilt for Valentine's Day!

I just realized that this same process happened to me in January when I was looking for blue scraps to use up...I found an old blue UFO to work on. If this happens every month of the challenge, I'll be very happy!
My goal for this week is to make a couple of red blocks for this scrap quilt.
Hop over to Angela's blog and see what other quilters are doing with their red scraps - click here.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Cake Time

One of my indulgences this past year was the "Happy" layer cake purchase and I have enjoyed following along with the Layer Cake Quilt Along, which started in November. We are up to block # 7 now and I am pleased that I have been able to keep up with the group.
I did not like block #6 on the left here. First I made a cutting error on the pink pieces so then had to make the blue and green pieces a little bigger. And I don't think the block fits in with my other blocks so far but c'est la vie!
I love block #7 was challenging so sew, I enjoy the look of the fussy cut flowers I put in the corner squares, and I like the overall look of the block. If you want to see the blocks from the Quilt Along members, click here to go to the Flickr site.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Civil War Wednesday

Do you suffer from a case of "Startitis"?!?
I learned about this from blogger Tracy at Fiber Babble - click here to read her post called "If There's A Cure for This". She admits to collecting patterns for 24 BOM projects!
Now, I thought I had a severe case of "Startitis" but it's not nearly as bad as Tracy's illness! I initially tried to resist looking at the projects on her list, but I caved and looked at every single one - no will power :(
I had already started collecting the blocks for a couple of these projects but had not started any stitching. And now I may or may not be collecting for a couple more...thanks a lot Tracy! LOL
But I must admit that I had started the Civil War blocks from Barbara Brackman on her Civil War Quilts blog. Each Saturday she is posting an 8" block pattern and a civil war story.
I am making only the pieced blocks since I don't love applique (yet?) and am making my blocks in civil war reproduction blues. This might become a gift for my Mom who loves antique looking blue and white, but honestly I am finding it very boring to work with this colour palette, so we'll see how long I last!
The first 2 blocks went together easily, but the 2 blocks on the left, I would consider "advanced piecing" and I loved the challenge!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

UFO Challenge - January

As part of my commitment for Judy's UFO challenge, I have finished UFO #6 on my list!
Here is the story of this quilt:
I saw the block tutorial on Sally's blog and started trying out the blocks when I was at SewFestWest last April - see photo here.  The blocks were finished in September and then they sat in a bag waiting for the UFO challenge to start in January. I pieced the backing from the scraps and was very happy that there was nothing leftover to put back in the scrap bins.

Here are some photos of my machine quilting, which I do on my 10 year old Brother 1500. I started with the standard stitch in the ditch for the blocks, and then some swirls in the border. All the thread was Aurifil and the quilting was so much fun...not a single thread break and only one slight tension problem when I went too fast around the swirls!
I am going to my guild UFO meeting today and am so happy to have a completed UFO for show and share! Hope I get home safely before the big snow storm arrives!
Check out Judy's blog to see other UFO finishes for January.