Monday, June 29, 2015

Design Wall Monday

Scrap Vortex before lesson #4

I am deep in the Scrap Vortex and up to my elbows in scraps. I started this project last week and have been obsessed with it since then. There are a lot of other things I need to sew, but this keeps whispering to me to just sew one more block.

Amanda Jean is hosting the vortex quilt along and she posted lesson #4 this past week, which was really helpful. I immediately saw the problem - she said a pieced string always looks better. See the long yellow strip joining the two parts of this block together? It had to go. I did a lot of unsewing of the long joining strips and the difference was amazing. 

Scrap Vortex after lesson #4
It was like a magic trick!
I couldn't believe how much more I liked these blocks! I also added in more bright colours like orange and lime green. It is kind of like working on a jigsaw puzzle and fitting everything together somehow. It's so fun! Thank you Gail for being a bad good influence and getting me started on this quilt!
To see more design wall posts, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching

It's Sunday, and you know what that means right? It is time to pick up your needle and thread, breathe deeply, and relax with some hand stitching. 

No human knows how to relax as thoroughly as my Granddog Max. He is completely stress free and loves to cuddle up, and do nothing. He is an expert at just being and loving.
Here he is showing my most recently finished embroidery block for my Life is Beautiful quilt. 

Life is Beautiful block #11

I am half way through my next block already and will put more stitches in today.
What are you working on?
Link up your blog post below and share your hand stitching plans for today.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Scrappy Rainbow Challenge - New Project

So many fantastic rainbow projects are going on this year. Angela is offering a free rainbow pattern, and there are so many weekly link ups showing projects with fun blocks - cows, birds, rabbits, stars, dresdens, cats... an amazing and creative array of ideas. All of a sudden my RSC projects were boring to me. And because I had come down with a serious case of Startitis, you just know I had to start a new Rainbow Scrap project.

I decided to start a scrappy sprouts quilt. 
You can find the free block pattern here.My garden is a total washout this year, so I am going to grow fabric sprouts instead. This is the first block for this project and I have a few ideas of things I might try with future blocks.
I also made 4 blue Alamo Stars to add to the ongoing collection. Hop over to SoScrappy and see what the quilters are sewing with their blue scraps.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Draw winner and Vortex Sewing

The winners have been drawn for the Cozy Afternoon giveaways. My draw winner was commenter #80 who is Moe from Calgary. Congratulations to Maureen and all the winners!
New Cozy Afternoon blocks are popping up on Jacquelynne's pinterest board for all of us to enjoy.

I have been sewing more scraps for the Vortex. It is fun and mindless. And it's messy sewing, although you wouldn't know it by this staged photo :)
Week 4 tips from Amanda Jean were very helpful, and I am going to fix some of the things I didn't like with a few of my blocks. Look for "before and after" photos on Monday's design wall post.
Have a great Friday!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Group Quilt Top is finished

The quilt top for next year's auction is finished! 
The pattern is called "Warm Breeze" and is by Sarah Maxwell and Dolores Smith. It is in the McCall's Quick Quilts magazine Feb/March issue.

There are 85 whirlygig blocks in this fun quilt top made from 6 quilters' stashes. Even though each quilter's 1/4" seam is different, we managed to get the blocks together quite easily. 
The only guidelines we used in making the blocks - use bright fabrics and a blue background. It is interesting to look at the quilt and try to guess which quilter made which block! You can see that everyone's definitions of the guidelines were different :)  But it all works together.
We are ahead of schedule this year so there will be lots of time to get the quilting done over the winter. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Random blog fact

This is the visitor summary for my blog this week. I am showing it to you because I can't believe how many blog visitors are from Russia... actually more than from Canada! 

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States
United Kingdom
Who knew there were that many Russian quilters wanting to read about Canadian quilting?!?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Eat That Frog!

Do you know the book by Brian Tracy called "Eat that frog"?
You can see the little movie here. His idea is that if you do the most hideous thing on your to-do list first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will only be better. I like this idea and have used it to face up to tasks that are distasteful or painful. Just get it done so that the rest of the day you don't have to spend thinking about it, and in fact you can feel proud that you were able to complete something difficult.
I was reminded of it again when I read this blog post from Debra. She was being held up in progressing on her project by birds' feet. Yep... those darn bird feet! So tiny and hard to sew. Once she finished the feet, the energy of the project cleared up, and everything flowed more smoothly through to completion.

My current FROG is my June UFO. I will just chop off the side triangles, but I don't know what to do with the bottom of the braids.  Cut them off? Insert triangles? Blue triangles? Scraps? To meet the end of the month deadline, I needed to make a decision. Any decision. I just have to eat the frog and get that done to make progress on this thing.
Do you have a frog you have to eat? What's the 'bird feet' on your project?
We just need to get it done!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Design Wall Monday - New Project

Have you been following along with the Scrap Vortex QAL? Did you start one? I love Amanda Jean's version, but let me tell you... my scraps are absolutely not that pretty. At all. They are 20+ years old and boring and dusty, so for sure my scraps are not going to result in a quilt that looks like hers. So thankfully I talked myself out of starting one. Self control was strong, but brief.
And then I caved.

Gail (bad influence) + Startitis = new Scrap Vortex

I am totally blaming Gail. She started a vortex quilt and her version looks as awesome as Amanda Jean's - check it out here.  I started to wonder if perhaps my scraps aren't as ugly as I thought, and maybe I should just try one. 
Then Gail double dog dared me! I got Ethel (Singer 301 short bed) out of the cupboard and gave her a good workout sewing up scraps.

Then I had to get Lucy (Singer 301 long bed) to wind some bobbins, since Ethel doesn't like to do that.

Clearly I had a mini flare up of "Startitis". If you haven't heard of this before, it is an incurable disease and can be quite debilitating for creative people. It is an obsession with new ideas, starting new projects, and seeking the adrenaline rush that comes with newness and beginnings, and swooning over the possibility of this becoming something wonderful. It's a great feeling and who doesn't want to feel great?!?
It is hard work to stick with old UFOs, solve the challenges, and trudge through tasks that are not much fun to complete. I'm making slow progress on my UFO of the month, but it's not fun that's for sure.
So I had to do some cognitive gymnastics in order to justify another start, and here are the thoughts I came up with :
* Gail needs some support in her quilting, so really I'm just helping out a friend by sewing along on the same project (well, that's kind of a lame excuse, but I'm using it!) Besides, she double dog dared me, so I had to.
* my scraps are out of control and this is necessary for scrap management (oooohhh...that's a good one!)
* I need a "no brainer" project to work on when I'm really tired. All of my current projects require high brain power, so this will give me something to work on late at night (rationalization, but also true!)

So here are my scrappy vortex blocks on the design wall...

I think I'm going to call this the "Startitis Vortex".
To see more design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching

Welcome to Slow Sunday Stitching here at Kathy's Quilts where we celebrate hand stitching of all kinds. We want to encourage our fellow hand stitchers to keep making slow progress, and to squeeze every ounce of enjoyment you can from each stitch you take. Today is the first day of summer in Canada, which is the longest day of the year. I hope you can get outside today and enjoy every moment of sunlight that you can!
And it's also Father's Day here in Canada. Today we honour our Fathers, and we express our love and gratitude for all the wonderful ways in which they have influenced our lives. 
Here is a recent photo of my father. It's actually a terrible photograph because you only see the back of him, but to me it holds so much meaning. Here is a 75 year old man playing a game with 5 teenage grandsons. How often do you see this kind of a thing? These young men adore him, and make an effort to be together and spend time with him.  To me that speaks volumes about who this father/grandfather is.  I am a very lucky daughter and I know it.

Today I will be adding stitches to my next Life Is Beautiful block. It's perfect for working on today... "the life you live is more important than the words you speak". 
So what are you hand stitching today? Link up your blog post below and share your project with us.
And if you missed out on the "Cozy Afternoon" giveaway earlier this week, click here to enter.

Friday, June 19, 2015

How much do you cut?

When you start to make a quilt, how much fabric do you cut? I know that some confident quilters cut all the pieces for the entire quilt right at the beginning. I know my quilting self well enough to know that I can't do that. 
I cut as I go along because:
 a) I don't enjoy the cutting process as much as I enjoy sewing, so I spread that chore into little time bites, and 
b) I change my mind as I go along and as inspiration strikes, and couldn't do that if I already cut all the fabrics.
But one thing I do know is that when I start cutting a large quilt, I always change my rotary cutter blade. You never realize how dull your blade is until you change it and compare how much less pressure you need to cut through fabric with a brand new sharp blade.
So my question is, what do you do with all your old blades (beside store them in a jar)? I keep hoping there will be a new revolutionary blade sharpener that will let me get more use out of these old ones.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

UFO Update

Well, the month of June is more than half over, so it's time for the UFO of the month update.
Progress has been made.
I received a squishy envelope in the mail that contained a piece of the blue fabric that I needed to make the last setting triangles across the top of the last two braids. A huge thanks to Helen who sent me exactly what I needed! Quilters are just the best!
So I finished making the last two braids and sewed them together. That was a lot of seam matching, with each one being pinned.

Here are all the rows on the design wall. I really like that column of white squares where the design wall shows through. Too bad I can't sew that into the pattern!
One more seam to go and then I have the bottom and the sides to figure out. 
I'm thinking of using the tried and true "chop 'em off and be done with it" technique!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

More about the quilt auction...

As I wrote last month, I attended the quilt auction in New Hamburg and as always, it was very exciting. My blog report on the auction can be read hereSomeone took a video at the auction of the featured Africa quilt - you can watch it here.  Seeing the red faces of everyone reminded me how hot it was that day!
This year the auction raised approximately $350,000 for international relief, as well as justice and peacebuilding efforts! It's so rewarding to be a small part of this wonderful event. Just think of how many people will be helped by this money!

I wanted to show you two more quilts from the auction that I thought the rainbow scrappers might like to see. This quilt called "Scrappy but Organized" was made by the Waterloo County Quilters Guild from scrappy 4 patch rectangle blocks. You can see a better photo here, which shows the wonderful scrappy border. Wouldn't that be a fun rainbow scrap challenge project?

And look at this one. It is called Dazzling Diamonds and was made by the Shakespeare Quilt Club. It's a log cabin variation with each block made from white and a colour. This would also be a great scrap quilt idea.
Should I start one?
My small sewing group is planning to get together soon to get working on our quilt top for the 2016 donation quilt... stay tuned for that update :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Border Block

While working on my next scrap squad quilt and using up leftover Kansas Trouble fabrics, I unearthed a 2 year old UFO I really like. It just needs borders for heavens sake. It makes me so annoyed with myself, but I seem to have a persistent "border block" that I just have to get over.
From Patchwork Times
Sunny Side Up blocks

These lovely blocks on the left want to become the finished layout on the right.

Okay... first I have to do the psychological work....
*I remind myself that I really like this design and want it to be a finished quilt. I make that my goal.
*I remind myself that I have all the skills to get this done. Forget about all the border fiascos from the past. I am an experienced quilter now, and I can do this. 
*I remind myself that I tackled a really challenging seminole border this year, and with a minimum of swearing and crying, it all worked out!

Okay... now I have to do the physical work...
*math calculations (ugh) 
*the cutting (ugh)
*pinning (ugh)
*sewing (ahhhhh)

Easy peasy?'s all about hard work and commitment, just like everything else that is worthwhile :)