Monday, August 30, 2010

Design Wall Monday #33

I have been making turtle-like progress on one of my top 10 UFO wish list projects - a BOM called BeAttitudes.  These are the first 7 blocks that I have finished on my design wall.
The "Be Honest" block is the one I finished this week. I am really not enjoying this project as much as I thought I would and it seems to be taking me forever. I like piecing the backgrounds and preparing all the pieces with fusible and ironing everything down, but I find the machine applique to be mind-numbingly boring, especially doing the letters. So I seem to procrastinate this task and only work on it when I have nothing else to do (never happens!), or I have company over to visit with while I do the applique.
And there have been issues with the appliqued edges holding down. I don't know if you can see but on this shape the right hand side had come away from the stitching and lifted up. Can you see where I have redone the stitching with a wider applique stitch?  It worries me because these blocks have not been handled much and I wonder how this quilt will last over time. It will have to be a wallhanging, not a lap quilt I guess. I am hoping that the wider stitches might hold the appliqued shapes better, even though it doesn't look as nice to me.
If you want to see what other quilters are working on today, go check out the other design wall postings at Judy's blog.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blocks sewn together

I got sidetracked this week with my Carnival blocks.  There is no rhyme or reason to what I will work on when I have a block of time for quilting. I should be machine quilting this quilt since I wanted it to be finished for the first UFO meeting in September, but it's still too hot to work under a quilt most of the time. Or I could finish piecing the myriad of UFO's I have in various states of unfinishedness. But nope!
The Carnival project was calling to me and I put up the pieces on the design wall thinking that when I got the pieces up there I would spend a lot of time rearranging them until I was happy with the layout.
But I got into some kind of weird piecing trance, listening to my "Wicked" soundtrack (my favorite song is "For Good") and I started sewing, and somehow I finished sewing the whole thing!
I was aware of trying to balance out the red and the dark green, but other than that, I just sewed random pieces together. I am happy with how it turned out and am amazed at how quickly it came together, especially since it was all curved piecing. Now I need to think if I want to add borders from my stash (the kit didn't come with any fabric for borders).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Canning Efforts

I forgot to give the 2010 blueberry report...these are the baskets that I picked with a friend on one outing. I also went briefly with my daughter, but the mosquitoes were eating her up faster than we could pick the berries, so it was a short visit. (NB...not a single bite on this old girl's tough hide!)
I made a few batches of blueberry jam and one batch of blueberry rhubarb jam that turned out really yummy!
With that success, I tried a peach jam which was very disappointing. The fruit settled on the top and it was too runny and too sweet for my tastebuds.
However, I carried on with my goal of trying new recipes and made some pickled beets. I loved the process of skinning the beets, but I didn't love the taste, so I'll be on the look out for another recipe for my beets next year.
Then I tried a "summer salsa" with jalapeno peppers, red and green peppers, tomatoes, onions, peaches, pears, cilantro, and mint...all of which looked really pretty in the crock pot. It took several hours of washing, slicing and chopping the fruits and veggies to make this concoction.
But after all that work, it only made 3 1/2 jars of salsa, and as you can see, 1 jar has already been eaten! It was a real hit with my family, but I'm still thinking about whether it is worth all that time and effort.
Here is the result of my canning efforts that will be going to storage in the basement this week. I still have to deal with tons of zucchini, a few more tomatoes, and I haven't touched the carrot patch yet.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Design Wall Monday

Today I have my leaders/enders blocks up on the design wall. Even though I don't seem to be devoting much time to this project, the pile of my 3" blocks is gradually growing...that is the magic of leaders/enders!  Once in a while I press a bunch of scraps from the scrap bag, and do some cutting so there will always be blocks ready to sew.
And I have been playing with the light/dark fabric combinations. In these blocks I used the aqua fabric as both a light (with the dark blue) and then as a dark (with the yellow as the light).

I am at the point where I need to make some decisions about the layout to make some choices about cutting and organizing the remaining dotty scraps.

Option #1 - straight set with the diagonal light chains.

Option #2 - 4 blocks set together making "rings" of the lights or darks. If I go with this layout, I can have more fun with playing with the lights/darks in block construction, and I already have machine quilting ideas emerging.
If you have any thoughts or other layout ideas, leave me a comment.
Go over and check out Judy's blog...not only can you see the design walls of over 60 quilters around the world...but notice that Judy and I have THE SAME blocks on our design walls...what are the chances?!?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Scrapaholic Saturday

The block at Friday Block Party last week was called Louisiana, but it looked like pinwheels to me. I used to love pinwheels as a kid and decided to make the block in miniature size. I dug around in my scraps, which are not organized and manicured like the quilters I envy who post on the Stash Manicure blog.
I found a baggie of rectangles that I received from someone (I think it was Helen?) at last year's quilt retreat, probably after I started shreaking "you're not going to throw those in the garbage are you!??!  It may even be possible that I was not "given" them, but grabbed them out of the garbage... I really am trying to stop that bad habit!  The size of these rectangles was 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" so that was the size my flying geese became, which made the blocks 4" finished. This is a photo of when I was playing with the colour groupings.
Then I dug around in my scraps.  This photo is a little blurry because I was excited, and as you can see for yourself...when I say scraps, I mean scraps!
Again, I do not store my fabric like other quilters (whom I want to be like when I grow up).  I dumped out my scraps (stored very carefully in a Mary Maxim bag that I received from Sandy) and I picked out a few other pieces to fill in the colours I needed. This took a couple of hours (no kidding!) because I love digging around in there and seeing all the treasures. I got distracted and (in my mind) started several other projects from these scraps before I emerged with the tiny pieces I used!!

And after some cutting and sewing, these are the blocks I ended up with. There are a couple of repeats, but most of the blocks have 8 different scraps and I think I counted 71 different fabrics that will be in this 12" mini fun is that?!?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I am so excited that I didn't get called into work today and could work on my Stay At Home Robin!
You can read about the project here and see my first block here. I enjoyed trying a new (to me) tool to make some circles to play with for step #2 and you can read about that here.
The next step was to add a 4 x 6 block to the left of the starter block. I added a B & W background block which I pieced from 2 scraps and then I had fun with the circles.

Now where are my tiny applique pins?!?

They couldn't be found,  so I struggled along with the stitching with the thread getting caught on the pins. But I really enjoyed the hand work and the edges were lovely to applique using this technique.

Here is my step #2 block. The larger circles I had made didn't want to be on this block, so I am saving them for another step.
Thanks again to the wonderful comments (left on my step #1 post) by blog readers, which gave me some great ideas for other methods of constructing circles which I plan to use in the up coming steps...I just love blogland!

And here is my project so far...
If you want to see the other participant's projects, click here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

9 patches mailed

Back in July I signed up for Julie's Celebration 9 patch block swap and wrote about starting to sew my first blocks on this post.
My blocks were finally finished up this week. I strip pieced my 6" blocks (click here to see a tutorial on this method) but since I am easily bored and needed to sew 130 blocks, I decided to use a different technique to sew the 3" blocks. I was going to write up a tutorial but why reinvent the wheel?   I found a great tutorial for this technique made by Trisha - click here to see it. I am already dreaming about how I'm going to set my swap blocks together when they you have quilting dreams?!?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gee's Bend Quilts

Luckily my friend Marion emailed me to tell me that the quilts of Gee's Bend were making an appearance in a Canadian city that would be within driving distance of my house. I was quite interested to see the quilts and convinced my husband that it would be a nice outing for me us, and he agreed to take me! Having heard about these quilts for many years, I was happy to be able to see some of these quilts and even more delighted that we were permitted to take photographs. (There are few things that annoy me as much as not being allowed to take photos at a quilt show...I understand all the copyright issues, but it still really annoys the photographer part of me!)
So I won't show the quilts in this blog post because I don't have permission to do that and I am too scared of the copyright police, but you can see about 80,000 photos if you google Gee's Bend quilt images.
I thought I might be able to get away with showing a couple of the  close up photos that I took to show why I love these quilts so much...

1) the riotous (exuberantlushluxuriantprofuseuse of colour in many of the quilts...

2) amazing, free form hand quilting....

3) hand quilting through denim and corduroy...

4) complete disregard for matching seams and no worrying about missing points...

5) use of all the little scrappy bits...

I was totally inspired to not worry so much about the things that I have been told make a quilt "show worthy", and instead to focus on the things that make a quilt meaningful.  I was totally pumped to rush home and do some hand quilting...and to remember that the stitches don't have to be tiny or perfect to give great texture on a quilt.
But, it's been about a month since I pin basted this quilt for machine quilting, so I thought I better get to work on that one!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Design Wall Monday #32

I have a big reveal for today's Design Wall Monday. Drum roll please...
Here are the 30 blocks I have been working on since January and posting almost every Saturday. If you want to see more about these blocks on my Saturday Sampler,  you can click here to read the 30 posts.
The blocks are too large for my design wall and it was tricky to get them to stay there. This is not at all the final layout, just slapping the blocks up to see what I have. Before I can get serious about making any layout decisions, I have a lot of paper to remove from the back of the paper pieced blocks.
Now tilt your head to the side and see if you don't think these blocks would be great set en pointe!?!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday Sampler #30

This is my last 12" Saturday Sampler block for my "Chocolate Covered Strawberries" quilt...block #30.
Block Name: Northern Flair (block #74)
Block Pattern Source: Quiltmaker's 100 blocks magazine
Block Designer: Gudrun Erla
This was a fun block to sew. I felt like I was working on a jigsaw puzzle with all the little pieces in production and trying to get the 85 pieces in their proper places.
I plan to make the quilt layout 5 blocks by 6 blocks but it was too dark last night to take a photo, so I'll do it sometime on the weekend.
Today I am off to the blueberry patch!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2 Challenges

Pat Sloan recently issued 2 fun was to post a photo of your scissors. Click here to see all the fabulous scissor photos. I put my scissors photo on my blog header. I don't have a lot of scissors compared to some of the other photographs posted, but each pair has it's own special purpose. Why not join the fun and add your could win a great prize!
And the second challenge was to try something new. Today I tried 2 new things...the first was a drink served by one of members of the "Sew 'n Sews" at today's quilting bee, during which we accomplished very little because it was too hot!  This drink is called "Pimm's" and it was a very refreshing summer time drink. Looking back on the day, perhaps it wasn't the heat at all...perhaps if we had consumed less Pimms, more sewing might have been done! LOL
The second new thing I did was to try making more circles, this time using Karen Kay Buckley's "Perfect Circles" product.  ("Circles" is the theme of my SAHR - click here to read about my  beginning block...happily my blog readers left me some comments with ideas for new methods of making circles...I plan to try as many of these as I can.)
Anyway,  this "Perfect Circles" product consists of heat resistant plastic washers. You cut a circle of fabric, stitch around the seam allowance as if you're making a yo-yo, and pull the thread tight.
Then you paint some starch around the edges, heat press and remove the washer...ta da...perfect little circles.
Now what am I going to do with these cute little circles?
I don't know yet, but they are waiting in an envelope until I have a chance to work on my second SAHR block. It is fun to try new things!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stay At Home Robin

The wonderful world of quilt blogs can be a dangerous place sometimes. It's like a mine field of creative many inspirations and never enough time to see everything or make everything that you truly love. Sometimes I am able to stay strong and resist jumping into a fun project with other quilt bloggers. I could make a long list of the projects and quilt-a-longs I have resisted and have watched enthusiastically while other quilters are having all the fun... I tell myself I must be content with vicariously enjoying these projects until my cupboards, drawers, cabinets and cupboards are empty of UFO's.
But not this time! This idea wouldn't leave me alone and it doesn't require much  time each month...and so I begin a new project - the "Stay At Home Robin" hosted by Kate. You can read all the details about the project on this blog post.
I had two ideas for starting themes, but I decided to go with these fabrics (sunny batik FQ's with black & white charm squares) and I'm going to make circle blocks.
I might call it "Sunny Sircles"!
I have been collecting circle making ideas and tools for a while so this will be my chance to start playing with them.  Here is the  "Cut-a-Round" ruler that I wanted to use to make my first block.
It was a disaster.

I was fighting with the fabrics and swearing and was not a pretty sight!
A quilter at her worst!
Just look at this wavy thing that has been pressed and steamed and yelled's pathetic!

So I tried again and again...this ruler was not going to get the better of me! I checked for any online resources...couldn't find anything that was helpful.
I finally got a block to come out fairly flat.
There it starting block for the SAHR!
I think I might call it "Stupid Sircles"!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Design Wall Monday #31

I missed last week's design wall Monday which gave me time to completely finish this quilt top.
You can read more about it here when I posted my progress 2 weeks ago. If you would like the link to the free pattern called "Garden Path"- click here.
The corners blocks were supposed to be a purplish blue square, but there were all these wonderful floral motifs from the panel, so I used them as the corner blocks. I don't like the top right corner piece because of the white strip that you can see, but I am thinking about how to fix that...maybe I'll paint it or put something over top of it? Any ideas?
Check out the design walls of other quilt bloggers at Judy's site - click here.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Tackling Borders

I did a job yesterday that I had procrastinated for 4 years...can you guess what I did?!
Yep...put borders on a quilt!
It's so ridiculous that I didn't finish it 4 years ago after I sewed the blocks together (click here to see that post).  I found this UFO in a box in the closet recently and later I found the fabric I had purchased for the borders,  and just decided it was way past time to finish it up.
BTW...If you want some ideas about where to hide store fabric so that you too are unable to find the border fabric you need for 4+ years, click here and watch this video.

This is not a good photo of the quilt, but you get the idea.
I remember why I got discouraged when I was working on it...the white sashing fabric doesn't quite match the slightly off white fabric in the blocks and I searched every quilt store I went to for a couple of years to find the exact fabric to match but never found it. And now that the fabric has aged 4 years, either the fabrics have become more similar or I have stopped caring about that!!!?!
My new motto - "Finished is better than perfect"!
And while putting on the borders, I was feeling inspired about the quilting pattern, so I went ahead and made up the binding, assuming that I would be finishing this one imminently.
The problem is that now I have 3 quilts lined up with their backings and bindings ready to go.
No more sleeping for me!!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Saturday Sampler #29

The weather has cooled off here and is much more comfortable for sewing now...what a relief! I am hoping to get back to work/fun....machine quilting this project and piecing the blocks for this quilt.
The second last block for my Saturday Sampler...aka" Chocolate Covered Strawberries" is finished. Again I put the dark colour as the background and think it turned out quite nice.
Block Name: Spring Blossom
Block Designer: Peg Spradlin
Pattern Source: Quiltmaker's 100 blocks magazine
You can download foundations to paper piece the long pointy parts of this block here, but I just figured out the measurements and drew those 4 blocks on freezer paper.
Next week will be very exciting as I post the LAST sampler block and put them all up on the design wall to see what the blocks look like together!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Starting something new!

Okay...I admit that my sewing room is a mess and I can't remember what I was working on before the big anniversary party, so I am starting something new!
Julie is hosting a 9 patch block swap and I couldn't miss out on this fun, so I signed up. We are to use 1800's reproduction fabrics and this made it even more appealing for me since I was planning to make a reproduction quilt in honour of a little trip that my husband organized this past spring.
He took my father and my son to Gettysburg this year and they had a once-in-a-lifetime experience learning about the history there.  I hope my son especially will always treasure his memories of this special adventure. He took a lot of great photographs and this is one of them.
Part of this quilt will be made from these reproduction 9 patch blocks from Julie's swap.
These are the fabrics that I bought specifically for this quilt.
I am cutting off the selvages to keep of course and have started to work on 9 patch production...6" blocks and 3" blocks. I have to make more 6" blocks for the exchange, but I enjoy making the 3" blocks more!!!

I know it doesn't look like much so far, but just you wait...this project is just getting started!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Totally out of the groove!

I am totally out of my quilting and blogging groove!
My family (my parents, their children and partners, and all the grandchildren) went away for the weekend to celebrate my parent's 50 wedding anniversary! We had a great time together enjoying the fabulous weather, summer activities, and great company! This was one of the beautiful sunsets we saw!
My parents did not want a "stuffy" party with speeches and a "bunch of old people", and they definately did not want a surprise party that might give them a heart attack at their age LOL. They decided to celebrate this milestone by taking all of us to a family resort in northern Ontario.
They also wanted a family picture taken, but not a typical 50th anniversary with lots of life and fun. We took many pictures, but this is one of my parents (who don't look or act like they are in their 70's!) and their 10 grandchildren.
What great memories we have of our weekend together!
Now...back to reality. I have missed my Saturday Sampler blog post and Design Wall Monday, and I have no idea what I was quilting before this party started! Once I catch up on my sleep, I'll look around the sewing room and see what I was up to!