Saturday, March 31, 2012

Scrappy Saturday - Last pink post

Pink is the colour of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  Last Saturday I showed the first mini quilt I made from some Kaffe Fassett scraps from my friend Marjorie. 
This week (in between machine quilting my March UFO) I made another little mini using one of my favorite techniques, which I would call "confetti piecing". 
I have heard it called many other things, but I first saw the tutorial on the Lady Harvatine blog in 2007 and so that's what I've always called it. It's a very fun method of sewing little scraps to background strips and making a quilt from the resulting blocks. 
I had a great time picking out some pink threads and after I did some random lines of vertical machine quilting, I became obsessed with adding some hand stitching. And then some pink beads jumped on there and the lines became curvier, and...well, it was just too much fun!  
This quilt made me realize how much I have changed from the days of following a pattern to make a quilt exactly like the one on the pattern, and worrying about if the quilt will "turn out right", to just enjoying the process and just making each decision as it comes along according to what I intuitively feel is best, and trusting that the decisions I have made will result in something good. A great quilting lesson, and a sometimes difficult life lesson.
Then I had to put on some pink nail polish to co-ordinate with the quilt binding (and the colour of the month) to stitch down the binding. The finished size of this quilt is 10" x 14" and will be donated to my quilt guild's mini quilt raffle at the May quilt show.
To see what other scrappy quilters are sewing with their pink scraps today, hop over to SoScrappy.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What's Under Your Needle?

In every spare minute this week I have been sitting right here:
My goal was to finish my March UFO by the end of the week, but it has been such a busy week that it's not looking like that will happen. I keep hoping that the quilting fairies will come along during the night and do a little quilting for me, but they haven't shown up yet! What's under your needle today??

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Busy Hands Guild Mini Quilt Workshop

The weather turned quite cold here, with frost overnight, and a high of 3 degrees today. The daffodils are laying on the ground this morning wondering what the heck happened!!
And what better activity to do on a cold spring day than quilting?!?!  I taught a mini quiltmaking workshop for the Busy Hands Quilt Guild and it was a fun day with some very creative quilters! Here are some of the students showing the mini quilt projects they started...
I have had a couple of email questions recently about mini quilting details, so thought I would answer them in this blogpost.  I have no affiliation to any of the mentioned products, just my personal preferences which are subject to change at any minute, if I find something I like better LOL :
-thread: I prefer Aurifil, but sometimes will use Mettler Silk Finish to get the right colour. Yep...I use a LOT of Aurifil! Now what am I going to do with all these saved spools people have asked me?? I might make something, maybe a Christmas wreath from them? Or's hard to say what I might do!!
-batting: I use Warm & Natural since I like 100% cotton, it always lays flat and has a nice weight that I prefer. However, it is only good for machine quilting (hand quilting through W & N is way too tough for me). I buy it by the bolt for large quilts and use the excess side trimmings for mini quilts.
-quilting: the easiest finish is a quick "stitch-in-the-ditch", but it's boring to do so I prefer a free motion design most of the time these days. You can see how tiny my quilting is on this piece where the "coins" average about 3/8".
-embellishing: I love to do beading on quilts, but usually only bead the quilts that insist on it, or quilts that I dislike and think that the beading will help me to like it more! I usually use Nymo thread to attach beads or embellishments.
-binding: I prefer a double fold binding cut at 2.25" but will do a single layer binding if I am running out of fabric.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Design Wall Monday #13

Last November I attended a mystery class at Reichard's - click here to read about it and to see the teacher's quilt. In January the blocks were on my 3rd design wall post for 2012 and I have no idea what happened to them after that! They just evaporated into the UFO ether. Well, they finally re-emerged and are now sewn together into a quilt top.
I think what took so long is that it was quite challenging to get the layout of the blocks decided. I didn't want to have any of the tone on tone fabrics touching each other, which was tricky because one fabric can touch 7 others. Eventually I just had to say "that's long enough on the design wall" and sew it!
Here is my sister working on her mystery quilt layout. She changed a few of the colours in her version. She took out a blue, a green and the purple, and put in a pink, another yellow and a darker green. It's fun to make two quilts that are similar and yet a little different.
Now I am wondering about a border, or no border? I don't think it needs one, but I would like the quilt to be a little bit bigger. To see other design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Free Motion Challenge - March Tutorial

Have you signed up for the 2012 Free Motion Challenge? Each month there is a tutorial to learn new tips for machine quilting and the invitation to try some new designs. The teacher for the March lesson is Ann Fahl and her tutorial has a lot of good information for machine quilting in general.
Ann recommended titanium needles and I thought I would give them a try on this month's block since I have heard so much about them. Supposedly these needles last "5 to 8 times longer" than regular needles, but I usually end up breaking my needles from quilting too fast! So, I will let you know how I do with the titanium ones. 
I tend to be mostly a cotton thread user, but I also decided to try some thread with a little bit of sparkle as Ann recommended, and tried this Sulky thread.
First you practice doodling the design on paper. This is a very light photo of my sketchbook, but maybe you can see that I focused on two of the designs...the loops and stars, and the spiral flowers.

Here is my finished March block. 
I am using my hand painted fabrics (made using Setacolor paints) for this year long challenge and picked out a yellow fabric for this month. There were some skipped stitches at the top left corner, but then I slowed down and the stitches improved. It was really fun! I did the loops and stars at the top and then tried some spiral flowers on the bottom. When I saw how much I liked the designs, I wished I would have used more of a contrasting thread colour. I hope I remember this for next month!

I had to take a photo in the garden to put on my blog header since it's spring now, and the daffodils are already in full bloom here (way ahead of schedule this year!)

This month's practice reminded me how much I LOVE the spiral flowers! They are really fun to quilt and they look so cute. I have quilted them on a few quilts in the past - here in 2009 and here in 2008. To see my other 2 FMQC blocks - click hereTo see other examples of this month's tutorial, hop over to SewCalGal's blog.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Scrappy Saturday - Pink

At quilt retreat in February we each received a little bag of our friend Marjorie's scraps to make into a mini quilt. Some of the bags were civil war fabrics, and some were Kaffe Fassett scraps. I could have enjoyed sewing with either of the collections, but this was the one that begged to come home with me. I split this pile of scraps into two groups since there was more than enough to make 2 little quilts.

Co-incidentally the colour of the month over at  Rainbow Scrap Challenge is pink, so the timing was perfect for me to play with these scraps. And if you're going to play with pink scraps, of course you have to make hearts! My heart blocks measure 2" x 2.5"(finished).
Wow...that's a lot of pink!!
I put a tiny 1/4" sashing between the blocks for a little bit of breathing space between the hearts.  I didn't do much quilting...just straight lines in the sashing and the border. Then I added 4 little pink shell hearts (mostly to cover up the seam intersections which didn't quite meet, but don't tell anyone!)
I am donating this little "Pink Overload" to my quilt guild's mini quilt raffle at the quilt show in May. The finished size is 8" x 9". I hope to finish the second little mini quilt in time for next Saturday's post. To see what other quilters are making with their pink scraps, hop over to SoScrappy's blog.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Machine Quilting

I must say that my blog readers outdid themselves on Wednesday. I LOVED each one of the comments and suggestions that you left on that blog post about machine quilting my March UFO. Some of the comments are hilarious and some are simply brilliant! Thank you for all of your ideas which helped me to negotiate a compromise with my bossy quilt. I will do some custom work on the star blocks, and then some all over (maybe loops and stars?) design in the background white areas. And I might do a fun feather design in the two colour border if it looks OK.

I am doing a curvy design around the large star blocks. This is the first block I quilted...11 more blocks to go. I used three colours of thread and enjoyed figuring out how to make each colour a continuous line. You can see how I tracked the gold thread out to the square areas...I like it!
This is what I'm doing in the small star blocks with only one colour of thread.
19 more blocks to do.
Have I said lately how much I LOVE Aurifil Thread?!? I haven't had a single issue while quilting these stars with Aurifil.
I think it is doable to finish the quilting in the next week, especially since it is supposed to rain here on Saturday. What are you quilting today???

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March UFO Update

March is more than half over, but the work on my UFO of the month is not nearly half done! I am going to blame it on the glorious, unseasonably warm and sunny weather! It has just been too beautiful to be indoors this past week. 
However, I have forced myself to make some progress. The borders are sewn on and the pin basting is done. I also finished preparing the binding, which was made from the largest piece of blue fabric that I had leftover from this project. I have picked out the threads I might want to use, so I should be all ready to get going. 
However, the quilt and I are having an ongoing debate about what quilting design would be best. This quilt is demanding (yes, the quilt is talking to me, in a very loud, bossy tone) a "custom design" in each star block, and I just want to do a quick "allover" design and be done with it. Which of us do you think will win this power struggle...
me or the bossy quilt?!?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Design Wall Monday #12

Did you get to hear Judy Laquidara's radio interview back in February? I download Pat Sloan's quilting podcasts and I am always behind in listening, but this weekend I enjoyed quilting while catching up on the shows. 
Pat Sloan's Creative Talk RadioIt was delightful to hear Pat interviewing Judy, and to hear Judy's voice, after reading her Patchwork Times blog for so many years. If you would like to hear the show, go to the "All People Quilt" website (click here) then scroll down to see the listing of all the shows. If you click on the "2-13-12" show you can listen to Pat interviewing Judy (and a few other bloggers you might "know").
Anyway, it's Monday again and this is what is on my design wall today. My friend Barbara, my sister Jayne, and I started this quilt at Friday Night Sew In. Barbara did all the cutting, Jayne was our presser, and Barbara and I did the sewing.
The design is based on a quilt by Sarah Johnson in the book called Block PartyThe block is called "uneven coins".  We used our own measurements based on the size of the scraps we had.  The columns are approx. 12" wide. The top looks a little wonky, and I'm not sure if it's just the photo, or if I need to fix that?!?
Would you like to see other versions of this design??
To see a lovely quilt called "Stack of Pretty Books" made from an $8 bag of pink and grey scraps on a white background - click here. To see red scraps with a brown background project, click here.
And to see the other Monday Design Wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Do What You Can

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the quilty things you can become involved in? There are quilt guild activities, special interest groups, on line mysteries and quilt alongs, quilt classes, community and church events, charity projects, and requests for blocks and quilts...the fun is never ending. How do you decide what to spend your time on and what to "pass" up?
Sometimes it feels like there is too much to humanly complete in one lifetime! There so many creative people finding ways to get involved and help others, and so little time and resources to get many of the jobs done.
One of my favorite charities is the Mennonite Relief Sale, which I have been attending the last Saturday of May for many years. For the last few years my small quilting group has donated a quilt that we worked on together (2011, 2010, 2009 quilt). This year our quilt won't be finished by the deadline, so it will go in next year's auction.
I also enjoy participating in the block challenges to make sampler quilts for the auction. One of those projects is the Quilt Festival block challenge that is organized by Loretta Martin. The 2012 theme was "Black and White Log Cabin". 
I made a wonky variation, challenging myself to make the four log cabin blocks using only my rotary cutting equipment. It was really fun and I could see myself making a whole quilt using this idea. I did square up the four quadrants using my rotary cutter, and then squared up the entire block to make sure that it would fit the size requirements (12.5").
As always, they got a wide variety of creative blocks submitted. This is not a good photo of the blocks but if you want to see them
they are hanging at The Mill in St. Jacobs . The sign said that today is the last day to vote for your favorite block. On the lower left corner of the photo you can see the challenge fabric that is required to be visible in the blocks. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring has sprung!

Last night was Friday Night Sew-In and lots of sewing was enjoyed around the world. You can read about the fun on the blogs that signed up - click here. At my place we celebrated FNSI by working on a group project, using up lots of pretty scraps to make a wallhanging. This was my friend Barbara's idea and we had lots of fun working on it together. 
More good news...
I am so happy that the birds are back in town! I always post a photo on my blog of my first robin sighting of the year - here is the post from 2 years ago. They seem to be here about a week earlier this year. I really miss the birds and always look forward to their return when the weather warms up. 
And that's not all the good news...

it is also St. Patrick's Day AND National Quilt Day! The NQA has a free pattern on their website - click here. And here is another great free pattern by Denise to celebrate the day - click here.  Click here for another fun post to read with free pattern links and ideas for celebrations. Pat Sloan is having a fun linky party to celebrate the day - click here to join in .
With all these reasons to celebrate, make sure you have a great day!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Night Sew-In

This week is March's Friday Night Sew-In, so get your quilty friends together and sew, sew, sew! You can sign up on Heidi's blog - click here. It is so fun to think about quilters all around the world sewing at the same time! 
My sister Jayne, and my friend Barbara are coming over and we are going to have a marathon sewing evening. 
I plan to sew these pink scraps (from my friend Marjorie) into a donation quilt for our guild mini quilt raffle, and I hope to sew my Quilt Square Quilt Along block for March. Check back tomorrow to see what we are able to accomplish in between eating, drinking, and laughing!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another Finished Quilt!

I am delighted to show you my latest finished quilt. It is a record turn around time for me...started on New Year's Day and finished in March - yes, in the same year!!
It was the New Year's Day mystery pattern from Planet Patchwork. Between piecing the top and the quilt back,  I used up almost all of my Dr. Seuss yardage.

I had a great time machine quilting this one! 
I quilted hearts along the white rails.
Along the blue sections I quilted my favorite Dr. Seuss quote:
“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
It was fun to quilt, but it is difficult to see the quilting on the finished quilt...that's OK...I know what it says and I know it's there!
The border has my favorite swirly design, which is just so fun to quilt!

And in the 4 corner blocks I quilted large wonky (let's say I did it on purpose!!) circles.

I just love the binding...
mostly red and white polka dots and some red and white striped fabric.

I must admit I like the back as much as the front! I used up the 3 panels I had purchased and filled in with the leftover FQ's.

This is my 5th finished quilt for 2012, and I think it is my favorite so far!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Design Wall Monday #11

My design wall is a mishmash of different projects today. On the left is the first three "Knot" blocks for my Rainbow Scrap Challenge
On the top right is a block called "Times Nine" by Jo Morton. The pattern is in the 100 blocks magazine (vol. #4). I am thinking about whether I want to add borders to it and make it bigger, or just quilt and bind???
And the black and yellow block is an experimental Swoon block. I was thinking about making a quilt of these blocks but it was very labour intensive. There are an unbelievable 90 pieces in this one 8" block! I'm not sure I want to make a whole quilt of these!
Hop over to Patchwork Times to see what other quilters have on their design walls today.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Pink

The colour of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is PINK. The block I picked to make each month is called "Knot MY Block" and the pattern is from the Quiltmaker 100 blocks magazine volume #3. There is a total of 69 pieces in the 12" block, and the best part is that it uses up 56 little 1.5" scraps of one colour! 
I am really happy with how my pink block turned out. It has more variation in the value of the colour than the red or green blocks did.
To see what other scrappy quilters are sewing today, hop over to the Pink Party.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

London Friendship Quilters Guild

I just got back from a great visit with the London Friendship Quilters Guild. On Thursday night I did a trunk show of some of my quilts and Friday I taught a class on making miniature quilts. Here is a funny scene from the workshop. Anne had set up all the necessary supplies for a workshop in the middle of the winter - a Tim's coffee, some aspirin, and a box of tissue!!

I just love the sight of a quilter's work area...all the tools laid out, pieces cut and ready to sew into blocks.

Some of the quilters accepted the challenge of working with really tiny pieces, where the HST's  finished at 1/4" once they were pieced into the block! Two brave quilters made flowers blocks that are 1 1/2" and have 26 pieces!

Gail (from The Cozy Quilter blog) played with a friend's "garbage" - all of these HST's were rescued from the trash, and turned into this adorable little 6" mini quilt.
A huge thank you to Jacqui (from Treadle Quilts blog) for organizing my visit and inviting me to stay in her home overnight. Jacqui has a beautiful quilt studio and the most amazing design wall I have ever seen. Maybe she'll do a blog post on it some time??? It was a real treat to see some of her antique sewing machines and her fabric stash, which is to die for!
Here are some of the quilters that attended the mini quilt class. Each person worked on whatever project they chose from the collection of instruction sheets provided...and just look at all the tiny quilts they started!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

March UFO

The number that Judy pulled for the UFO challenge for March is #8. Don't tell anyone, but I changed around a few things and made #8 become a project that I have all the supplies for. I already have the border, backing and binding fabric ready to go, therefore this UFO has a better chance to be finished this month.
This quilt started as a mystery quilt project at a store called "Ruffled Elegance" in St. Jacobs. This store has been closed for many years, and I have been trying to guess how old this project might be...I'm guessing 15 years old. Does anyone recognize this design so I can give credit to the designer?? I am amazed that I still had all the original fabric together with the unfinished top in a bag!
I worked on the inside border and had to make it into a scrappy border because I didn't have enough of any of the gold or cheddar fabrics to go all around. There was enough of the navy star fabric to be the outside border.
This is the backing...very boring, but done!
Now I am ready to do the pin basting and get on with the quilting!