Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - last purple

I am purpled out!
Seriously...I am so ready to move on and work play with another colour of scraps for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge
I enjoyed painting some purple fabric to quilt for this month's FMQC and put it as my blog header photo.
These are some of the projects I worked on this month, and as much as I enjoyed them, I am done with purple for a while!
Hop over to SoScrappy to see the other postings for this last purple week. Wonder what the colour for July will be?!?!

June UFO Finished!

This month was challenging in terms of finishing  #12 on my UFO wish list, but in the end...it was accomplished by the deadline, and I am very pleased with how it turned out! 
This UFO started the month being a pile of blocks, a couple of which required reconstructive surgery! 
Then I added three borders...two scrappy and one easy. It was a fun part of the creative process of finishing this quilt to challenge myself to use up as many of the scraps as possible in the first two borders.
The machine quilting was fun. I tried a new (to me) free motion idea in the blocks, 4 large melon shapes and 4 small melon shapes. Although it was a lot of stops and starts (32 to be exact!) I enjoyed quilting the block designs.
Here are the quilting designs on the two last borders...all "eyeballed" and free motion. No marking to do, but you must park any OCD tendencies at the door, since it is WAY far from perfect! In my quilting world, completion is preferred over perfection!
This is the yummy orange and yellow plaid on the back of the quilt. I really dislike how the corners of the quilting design on the last border came together. But again I remind myself...completion is preferred over perfection!
And this is one more finished UFO that will be donated to my guild's comfort quilt project. The finished size is 52" x 64".
I really like this photo of the quilt with the sun shining on the quilting and giving it lots of texture. 
Today marks the half way point of 2012, and I am so pleased that I have finished half of the UFO's from my 2012 wish list...I am 6 for 6!
However, #3 is the project number that Judy picked for July, and it's a big quilt (Roll, Roll, Cotton Bowl) so I might break my finishing streak this month.
Hop over to Patchwork Times to see the other #12 UFO projects that were completed this month.

Friday, June 29, 2012

June Free Motion Challenge Report

I have completed the June lesson for the Free Motion Quilting Challenge by Cindy Needham. It was a very extensive lesson, and took by far more time than the previous lessons...all great information, and opportunities to try new things. I enjoyed Cindy's ideas on learning how to work with the sound of your machine. First we were to practice three basic shapes - repetitive lines, circles and the S curve, and then try the "divide and conquer" exercise. Here is my sketch book practice. FUN! Okay...time to quilt it!
Then all of a sudden...panic set in. 
I enjoyed the pencil work, but wasn't ready to start the quilting. 
Next step... procrastinate! Got a cup of tea, decided to paint a new piece of fabric to quilt on, and tried a new resist technique using Elmer glue (from LuAnn's blog), which worked out really well.


Then, I cleaned up my sewing tables, and sorted out my thread box, and picked out a few threads to try. How many purple threads does one quilter need?!?
Waited a few days for the painted fabric to dry.  Did more pencil practice, had some more tea, and even resorted to trimming blocks for my Sweet Treats quilt!
Okay...what is going on?!?
Cindy calls this state "disequilibrium".
And then I realized that I didn't need to make my quilted piece exactly like my sketch...it's FREE motion, so just be FREE!!
And just start!
Wait...I need more tea!
No! Just need to be brave and make one line.


Good job!


Now what?!?! 
Yikes!
Just quilt one section at a time. Divide and conquer!
Breathe. Quilt another section.
Relax.
Keep quilting. 
No going for tea!


Hours pass...


And...voila!


Wow...that was fun!

Now what was all that procrastinating and fussing around about?!?




















Here are my first six lessons. I am sad that I didn't use a darker thread on the yellow/orange block because I loved those designs but they can't be seen unless you get your nose right up them. 
Lesson learned!
You can check out more than 100 posts from quilters who tried this lesson at SewCalGal...scroll way down to the bottom of that post to find the links.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Garden Frustrations

There is an ongoing battle happening in my garden - it's "me vs. the neighbourhood rabbits". I wrote a blog post about it last year (click here to read it) and I am going to tell the same story again this year. Everything seemed to be growing well (except the beets - not a single one sprouted?!) and I was feeling pretty confident...good balance of rain, and warm sunny weather. I built a somewhat pathetic fence around the larger garden this year to try to keep the rabbits out, but to no avail! 
They found a way around it and have once again eaten most of the leaves of the peas,onions, and beans.


And today I even caught one of the cheeky rabbits coming for a mid-day snack while I was weeding! 
I was thinking about re-planting the bean rows with something they don't like, but what veggies don't rabbits like to eat?!?!


Then I found these little garden cloches at Lee Valley. They are called "Hot Hats" and are made from recycled plastic bottles. I am hoping that the rabbits aren't smart enough to figure out how to move them and eat the surviving leaves.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Civil War Wednesday

I am still on track for my Civil War project goals for June.


This is a scrappy version of block #45 Port and Starboard made with leftover HST's from the previous blocks. It is basically 4 broken dishes blocks sewn together in a different arrangement than I chose for my fall wallhanging.







This is block #46 Apple Tree, which would look more like it's name if I was using any red fabrics in this quilt
This is block # 47 called Dixie Tea, which is symbolic of the variations of tea substitutes during the civil war. I can't imagine my life without tea, which I drink every day!


Only 4 more blocks to sew and I can start figuring out a layout for my quilt! And that means I am one step closer to being able to start (guilt free!) Barbara Brackman's new Block of the Week quilt in September!
I am linking up to the Freshly Pieced "Work in Progress" list...lots of great projects to see there!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June UFO Update

There is less than one week to go in this month and my June UFO is making some very slow progress. I finished piecing the borders but forgot to take a picture of the finished quilt top. It has been too hot on many days to start the machine quilting, but some of the cooler nights this week have allowed me to sit under this quilt and get to work. 
I chose some old spools of blue thread to quilt the dark plaid blocks, an orange thread to quilt the bright triangles, and a neutral to quilt the light blocks. 


This is the free motion design I tried  in the blocks, and I'm happy with how it is working out. Part of the trick seems to be eyeballing where I am heading to next, and not letting the plaid lines get me all confused!
It was going so well last night, I got into my "quilting zen" and half way down the line of orange blocks, I forgot my plan and changed the design! Do you see my fancy "Vanna tweezers" pointing to where the designs are different?!? That took a bit of time to unstitch!
I'm not sure if I will meet my goal of finishing the quilt by Saturday...it depends on how many times I am lulled into relaxing so much that I goof up!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Design Wall Monday #23 - Sweet Treats

I have made some progress on my Sweet Treats quilt along, but not enough to start a new project (ie. the next Patchwork Times quilt along)! 
This is how my design wall looks today with two rows sewn together and another sashing row ready to join.


The cornerstones blocks aren't finished yet because I made a miscalculation on the size. 





I didn't like my first version, which as you can see, had a too large strip around a too small center square, and resulted in a sashing size that was too large.  I am cutting down the ones I have sewn and am much happier with how they look in the two rows that are sewn together. The dotty light sashing fabric is just perfect and the whole project cheers me up every time I have a chance to sew a little more on it.
Hop over to Patchwork Times to see more design walls.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Relaxing Sunday - Hand Stitching

A new feature on my blog is starting this week and I hope that other people will join in. I am starting a Sunday link up to blog posts about hand stitching.
I wrote a blog post (click here to read it) about how much I am enjoying my hand quilting these days and would benefit from seeing other quilt bloggers who are doing some hand work.
And then I came across this inspiring creature while out walking by the river. This is a snapping turtle, and I watched her while she slowly dug a hole on the gravel path, deposited her eggs, and walked away. I have been thinking about her all week because she worked so hard, her job took so long, and she never gave up...just worked faithfully until her mission was complete. And then she walked away, having confidence that she had done her best, and having faith in the outcome.
It is a process quite similar to hand quilting. I just work away until I am finished - at the speed of a turtle. 
Slowly but happily...
making it up as I go along, trying my best, never knowing how it will turn out, but compelled to continue.
I am quilting a red and white block of the month project started in 2008 called "Quilter's Blessings". It has been on my "long term project wish list" for a long time, so it feels great to be making some turtle progress.
What about you? Are you hand quilting/hand stitching this week? 
I invite you to sign up for this inaugural hand work link up, and share the link to your blogpost here... 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Paper Piecing Craving!

Sometimes I just get a hankering to do some paper piecing.  I found a great blog with lots of original and free paper piecing patterns called Sew Hooked. In April Jennifer hosted a "paper pieced pattern a day garden party blog hop" and showed many cute patterns! She also has a series of blocks from The Hobbit, and many other themes series including Sesame Street, Blues Clues, Hunger Games, Start Trek, Harry Potter, etc.  So many unique patterns...check it out! 
If only there were more hours in the day! I just don't have time to start a new project and want to focus on finishing up my UFO's.
After seeing Connie's post showing a cute block she was sewing, I thought to myself "well, maybe I'll just quickly make up one teeny tiny, little block". I had to hop over to the Quilt Play blog's tutorial and print out the pattern to try. It was very fun and a great use of scraps! So now I apparently have started another project for my rainbow scrap challenge!
I did have a slight glitch and cut my pattern by mistake...not once, but twice, sewing that last light center strip! It was easy to fix using the Scotch Magic Tape (a trick I learned from a Carol Doak book).
It sure was fun to do some paper piecing again.
To see what other purple projects the rainbow scrappers are working on, click here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Mid Month Finish

When I teach a miniature class, I always start with making 9 patch blocks to deal with seam allowance issues right at the beginning. If the students want to donate their test blocks, I sew up a scrappy quilt and give it back to the guild for a raffle or whatever they want to use it for. This mini quilt is made from the Grand Quilt Guild students' blocks. I will always remember this class because it was very challenging for me...I had just got my braces on and was in a lot of pain, and the ladies were so kind, patient and caring.
As you can imagine with little 3" blocks made from so many different sewers, it is a challenge sometimes to get the seams to match up and for the top to lay flat. It is a little wonky in spots, so I decided to do a wobbly line quilting design to distract your eye from the other wobbly parts, and I think it worked just great!

I will soon mail it off to the guild, but for now I am enjoying it hanging on my studio wall. It looks perfect here on my sunny yellow walls!
Want to see what other quilters have accomplished this week? Hop over to Confessions of a Fabric Addict!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Longest Day of the Year

Yesterday was the longest day of the year...Happy Summer Solstice! The sun is up at 5:45 (you know that little tidbit when you don't sleep!), shines all day, and doesn't set until after 9 pm. 
I tried to fit in a little bit of all my favorite things on this special day!


A little time for basting a quilt...




A little time for baby snuggling ...





A little time spent walking by the river and enjoying the 
longest evening...


What did you do with your extra hours of daylight?!?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Civil War Wednesday

I am now totally motivated to hurry up and finish sewing my civil war quilt blocks. Guess why?
A new quilt project to start, of course!
The wonderful Barbara Brackman is creating a new quilt that she is freely gifting us which will start in the fall. I am so excited about this, not only because I have enjoyed the Civil War quilt project, combining such interesting history lessons and challenging quilt blocks to sew, but also because of the topic of her next quilt/book... the fight for women's rights! If you would like to read more about it - click here.
I can hardly wait and have my fabric all picked out! 
But first I have to finish Barbara's last quilt along, so I have been cutting and sewing my remaining blocks, with a goal to finish them in June, sew the quilt top together in July, and start the quilting in August. A very ambitious goal, but I am determined to finish one sampler quilt before I start another.
The first step in working on a UFO is to take a fearless inventory. Barbara posted 53 Civil War block patterns. I am not doing the applique or template blocks, and so I had 10 more blocks to piece.


Here is block # 42 "H is for Hospital".
It was a quick and easy block to sew.


I made a bed size 'H' quilt in 2010, and it is still one of my favorite quilts. 


This is block #43..."Right Hand of Friendship". I see on the computer screen that I didn't do the colour placement the way the pattern calls for, but I like it anyway.


Here is block #44 called "Union". I really enjoyed sewing this one, and like the effect of the striped fabric.
I also enjoyed reading the history about Gen. McClellan.


Only 7 more blocks to sew...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

UFO of the month update

I have been working on my plaid June UFO, but not making as much progress as is likely necessary to finish the quilting this month. I have been studying the leftover fabrics and cut scraps trying to figure out how to use up as much as possible.
Here it is with the first border sewn on. The next border will be light scraps, with the remaining 8 bonus HST's sewn in somehow, and then maybe a final dark border. Instead of sleeping last night, I came up with a fun idea to add more orange (most of the orange fabric is used up).
I am off to my medieval torture appointment at the orthodontist this morning - rewiring of the braces. OMG I can't believe I did this to myself!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Design Wall Monday #22 - Unbroken Dishes

I finally finished a quilt top and it's on my design wall today! Woohoo!
I had to agree with the cornerstone votes that y'all gave me on this post. The overwhelming majority voted for the diamond cornerstones, and I think it looks great, if I do say so myself.

It looks even scrappier in person, has a definite autumn feeling to it. As soon as I put it up on the wall, it started demanding some hand quilted diamond designs! I know better than to argue with these creative flashes, and I jotted down some notes. When I finish the hand quilting on my "Quilter's Blessings", I plan to hand quilt this one. It's the perfect size for a portable hand quilting project.
What's on your design wall today? Hop over to Patchwork Times and see what other quilters are working on.
PS - Did you see that Judy is going to offer another Quilt Along starting next Monday?!? Click here for the details.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

I have been hand quilting a few stitches each day on my "Quilter's Blessings". I started the hand embroidery for this quilt in February 2008, and more than 4 years later, I am finally quilting it. Some things take time!
I am thinking about starting a Sunday link up for blog posts about hand work. I rarely see posts about hand quilting in my blogland travels and would like to corral them in one place for easy access. Do busy bloggers have time for hand quilting? Do you think there would be enough interest to start something like that?  
There will not be any time today for quilting. It's Father's Day! But there will be lots of time for stitching and repairing the sometimes fragile threads that hold families and lives together. 
I have been blessed to have a wonderful Dad, who in spite of a terrible start to his life, managed to become a man of great integrity and wisdom. He has been a pillar of strength and love for all of his children and grandchildren. 
He could be the "poster child" for living a life of love. He has been a loving husband for over 50 years, a kind and supportive father to four children, and an absolutely adored Papa to 10 grandchildren.  When my daughter describes him she says he "shoots love out of his eyes". And he does! I am looking forward to spending today with my Father and am thankful to have had so many years with him.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

FNSI Report

I spent a lot of time cutting fabric last night for FNSI. It's not my favorite job to do, but I needed to get my civil war quilt sorted out. I got all the remaining blocks cut out and will post them as they get sewn together. That was a big job finished!
Then I had a grand time playing with my purple scraps and made some scrappy 6.5" crumb blocks. It was very fun, and rewarding to create something useful out of piles of unorganized scraps. Hop over to SoScrappy to see other purple scrap projects.

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's "Friday Night Sew In"!

Are you signed up for FNSI??!? 
There are about 100 sewers signed up, who have committed to make time in their busy lives to spend some time sewing tonight.My family have plans for the evening, so what else is there to do... except sew until I fall asleep at the machine?!?!
I plan to turn these scraps into crumb blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge post tomorrow.
Then I hope to cut out some Civil War Blocks, and sew the Sweet Treat cornerstone blocks. Want to take bets on how much of that will be accomplished?!?
I am also trying to work a little bit each day on the scrap rug that I started this week. I spent a glorious afternoon with my friend Louise, who taught me how to make a "toothbrush rug" using 2" strips of fabric. We used the tool and pattern from Aunt Philly's Toothbrush Rugs company. Louise says it's just like crocheting, but since I don't know how to do that, I couldn't say if she's right or not! It seems quite challenging to me, especially starting the centre rows. Hopefully it will get easier as I go along and get more used to it. Happy Friday!