Sunday, January 31, 2016

Finished Quilt on the Design Wall!

My January UFO is finally finished on the very last day of the month! 
Here is my version of Deckade the Halls pinned to the design wall. It measures 56" x 68" which is wider than my design wall, so the edges of the quilt look a little bit wonkier than they really are.
This was a free pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop to celebrate their 10 years in business in 2013. It was such a fun quilt to piece with the Christmas themed blocks of ornaments, stockings, presents, trees, gingerbread people, mugs, stars and wreaths.

Although I am pleased with how the quilted grid design turned out, I wouldn't recommend it to a quilter who might have any perfectionistic tendencies, as it is very tricky to keep the lines at the same angle across the entire quilt. 

I am linking up my first finish of 2016 over at One Monthly Goal and Design Wall Monday.

Slow Sunday Stitching - Binding

Can you believe that January 2016 is already over?!? I really cannot believe it! We are already one month into the new year... how are you doing with your resolutions? 
I am so happy with my progress so far this year. I have already managed to (almost) finish a UFO! It was one big challenge that I have been working on either in my mind, or in my hands since November. Once I got the border problem solved, and the quilting started, it practically finished itself! Well, not really but it was quite fun and I'm so thrilled.
Stay the course!
It's time to give myself a big pat on the back. We all know that it is so much easier to start new things that are fresh and enticing, with no challenges or problems to solve. But there is such a sense of growth and satisfaction to "stay the course", to solve the problems that arise, to push yourself in new directions, and to actually accomplish a huge task.

Today I get to enjoy the wonderful task of finishing a quilt that I started in 2013. Isn't that a great striped binding fabric?  Binding a quilt is one of my favourite hand stitching activities, so I am in for a very enjoyable afternoon of slow stitching.  

What are you hand stitching today? Are you able to stay the course, meet your goals, and finish projects to completion?
Link up your blog post below and share your progress with us.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Scrappy Saturday Blues

It's the last saturday of the month and I have finished two blue scrap blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

The first block is Mad City Mama (a pattern by Bonnie Hunter in her Leader Ender book). This is a great scrap pattern and uses 133 blue scraps and 12 yellow scraps. That's a lot of small pieces!
I'm not sure I really like how the yellow wonky corners turned out, so I'll try something different on the next one.

When that block was done, I sewed the first Westering Women block. It has a lot of unusual measurements... lots of 7/8's, but the block turned out to be the right size. I used blue scraps because they were all over the cutting table. I'm not sure if this will be a RSC project, or if I will make all the blocks in blue, or if I will start over and make a new 1st block in reproduction fabric. I have a whole month to decide before the next block is posted.
To see more RSC projects, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Circa 2016

Temecula Quilts has a new project this year called Circa 2016. I have made several wonderful projects with Temecula over the years, including Hugs and Kisses, Little Letter Quilt, Summer Stars, and Countdown to Christmas.

This project has 2 attractions for me:
1) it's a scrappy project (no new fabric purchases) and 
2) the blocks will be small and finish at 2.25" and 3". 
How can I resist this little gem?!?

These are my first 4 blocks. I really like them!

I love Fridays

New blocks will be posted on Fridays.
I'm hoping over there right now.

I love Fridays!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Frixion Pens

Progress is continuing on quilting my UFO and I hope to have it finished before the end of the month. YAH!
grid machine quilting
I ditched the painters tape since I was stitching too fast and sewed the tape to the quilt a couple of times! I then decided to mark all the lines with the Frixion pens.
I received quite a few comments and emails about the concerns regarding the use of these pens. There seem to be horror stories that have become part of quilting folklore about quilts that were ruined by these pens. It's an interesting dilemma for quilters since almost every quilt store has a display of these pens by their cash registers.

What are the concerns about Frixion pens?

1) they leave a white (ghost) mark on the fabric:

No marks 
If I'm machine quilting on a line, and covering the line with thread, it doesn't matter if there is a white line under that thread. I am also hand quilting a large quilt right now and am using frixion pens to mark the quilting design. I accidentally picked up a real ink pen to mark one block. That matters because it is definitely not going to come out! I'm not worried because it's a quilt for my family's use, not a masterpiece or an heirloom quilt. 

2) marks will reappear in the cold:

hot iron to remove pen lines
It is definitely cold here in the winter, so the marks may reappear if I take the quilt to keep warm at the Santa Clause parade. I'm okay with the cold reappearance since the marks will again disappear with heat applied (either a hot iron or a tumble in the drier).

Many quilters have written reviews about Frixion pens over the years : Lee at Freshly PiecedLori's blog Humble Quilts posted results of her pen testing part one here and part two here, and the Connecting Threads blog has an interesting article here

In summary... 
Frixion pen
I've been using Frixion for a few years and haven't yet had a problem with the pens or the marks.  However, if I ever get it in my head to make an heirloom quilt that might be submitted to a fancy quilt show, I might not use the frixion pens. But for the majority of my quilts that are going to be used on beds in warm houses and washed until they fall apart, I think it'll be fine to use Frixion.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quilt Canada 2016 is Coming!

Quilt Canada

Have you registered to attend Quilt Canada yet? It is being held June 15 -18 in Toronto, Ontario. I am so excited that it is only about an hour drive for me, so I can go to events and classes every day and sleep at home.

Adding to my excitement is that I am teaching a hand beading class! There are a ton of long arm classes and machine quilting classes on the list of classes, but only 2 hand stitching classes, which are unfortunately both scheduled for the same day. If you want to take a class from me to learn "Intuitive Hand Beading" it is scheduled for Saturday June 18th. I would love to meet you, so take the day off and come to Toronto to learn about hand work! Check out the class listing here.

One of the highlights for me will be attending a lecture by Jane Sassaman
It's called "Quilter's Nite Out"! Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Making UFO Progress

Progress has resumed on my January UFO. I recovered from the border frustrations of last week, and gave myself lots of pats on the back for not tossing this project back into the darkness of the UFO closet. 
Then I prepared some bobbins to start the machine quilting. I must like this taupe colour of thread because I have a few spools of it. 

I decided to try quilting a straight grid for this one. I was inspired by the beautiful effect of the grid quilting that Tanya did on her Merry Little Christmas quilt.  I have done a diagonal grid on mini quilts and on a tablerunner, but haven't yet tried it out on a large quilt. 

I began by using painters tape to put down some lines to stitch beside (using the 45 degree lines on the rulers). But the tape didn't stick very well, so then I started marking some lines with a frixion pen. So far, so good!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Design Wall Monday

Progress is slow but sure with my Allietare blocks. I enjoyed an evening of sewing with some friends, and was able to make a lot of progress. Here they are on the design wall. There are only a few more blocks to finish and then I can start putting the quilt top together.

You can see in this photo that I was sewing these star blocks on Lucy - my long bed 301 Singer. She just sews like a dream with a perfect tension, and a lovely soft sound. It's such a thrill to sew on a 63 year old sewing machine that works beautifully.
To see more design wall posts, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

It's time for some Slow Sunday Stitching!

Take out your hand stitching project and enjoy some relaxation. Try not to think about your "to-do" list, or ruminate about your worries. Just take a stitching break, and focus on pulling thread through fabric, one stitch at a time. Breathe deeply and enjoy yourself.

Modern Quilting by Sherri Noel
If you have an interest in hand quilting, I found a fantastic blog post for you to enjoy. Sherri gave me permission to share her tutorial with the Slow Sunday Stitchers - click here to visit. I was so inspired by the lovely photos and bright colours of her project. Sherri shows step by step how she uses perle cotton for quilting a block sampler quilt. Yum!

I have been putting some stitches into my winter hand quilting project and making some good progress. Max has been visiting and when he "helps", progress is slower.  
I went to get some tea, and when I came back, this was the scene.
"Well Grandma, I really don't know who put that toy on your quilt, but I'm keeping a close eye on the situation. And any time you feel like playing with me instead of quilting, I'll be ready!"

Today I'll be playing with Max, visiting your inspiring blog links, and enjoying some relaxing hand stitching. I love Sunday!
Link up your post below and share your hand work progress with us.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Scrappy Saturday

Blue month continues for the Rainbow Scrap Challengers. I have been sewing a few blocks using Bonnie's leader/ender technique as I have been working on other projects throughout the month. 

Here are two more double 9 patch blocks for Omigosh, and 6 more Alamo Stars. These are l-o-n-g term projects. 
I just know someone is going to ask me how many of these blocks I have now? I have 70 Omigosh blocks, and this many Alamo Stars...

How many is that?
I didn't count, but it's a lot!
I have been debating how to work on a layout for this quilt. No way am I going to lay out hundreds of 2" star blocks on a design wall to somehow organize into a coherent design! Today I am thinking it might be good to sew these blocks together into 9 patchs, so the design unit will be bigger to work with. Do you have any other ideas for me of how to create a quilt design from hundreds of small blocks?
To see more blue scrappy projects, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

UFO Report

Oh this UFO is kicking my butt! 
This is the third month that my Deckade the Halls quilt has been my primary focus, and the progress is so slow it is driving me crazy.
Why is this so hard?
I have put on hundreds of quilt borders over the years, and this one just wouldn't co-operate with me.
So I removed the ruffly border, re-measured the quilt top a hundred times because see that 2" piece to the right of the needle? That's how much I had to cut off the border piece! How could I have been so 'off' on that border size measurement?
Okay, so then I resewed the border. 
Now it was too small, and still didn't fit!
What the @#$%& is going on?!?
I unstitched it again, re-measured, decided it was in fact the correct size, re-pinned with triple the number of pins, and the border fit beautifully and went on with no problem.
Oh my goodness. Third time's a charm!
When I get over feeling stressed every time I look at this quilt, the next step is to re-pin baste the left side of the quilt, and finally start the quilting. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Eye Candy

Did you participate in the Cozy Afternoon BOM last year? 

Cozy Afternoon combines two of my favourite things - scrappy piecing and hand embroidery. This is my pastel wallhanging version of Cozy Afternoon. 
Maybe you downloaded the patterns and haven't started your version yet. If you need some inspiration to get sewing your Cozy Afternoon, go check out the winners of the Cozy Afternoon contest that have been recently posted. There are so many creative and beautiful versions to enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

First Start of the Year?

Oh dear.
A new project is coming on.
It's a Barbara Brackman historical project, and it's called Westering Women
I'm in. 
Was there ever a doubt about my ability to resist this one?!? Don't even mention that I haven't finished the Votes for Women quilt. In my own defence, I must mention that I did complete my Civil War quilt! 
I'm digging through my reproduction stash to see what colour ranges I'm missing. I have one week to sort myself out before the first block is posted.
Are you heading west with the rest of us quiltin' ladies?!?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Design Wall Monday

I am just sneaking in under the deadline for a Monday posting. Here is what is on my design wall today...six Allietare star mystery blocks are finished. That's about 1/5 th of the total number I need to sew.
Wow that's a lot of gold! But it will be split up when it's sewn together with all the grey in the alternate blocks, so I'm not worried about how it will all come together yet.
Just keep sewing. Just keep sewing.
To see more design wall postings, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

It's Slow Stitching Sunday! I will be stitching more slowly than usual today as I recover from a nasty cold. We all know about the amazing healing powers of hand stitching, so I am prescribing a double dose of it for myself. Fits of coughing and drinking tea will be interrupted as frequently as possible with some hand stitching. 

This is the next block in my star quilt that I am working on. The inside square-in-a-square filler design has been completed, and next I will be stitching lines 1/4" just inside each of the red triangles. The larger blue star triangles have already been quilted, so this block is more than half finished.

Yesterday I did a little bit of hand stitching while watching QuiltCam. I have been too busy to catch the first of two episodes of QuiltCam 2016, which is just not acceptable! This was my view - hoop on my lap, and the laptop just to the side. My lap isn't big enough for the computer and the quilting hoop! 

What are you hand stitching today? Join us at the link up below and share your progress with us.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Scrappy Saturday

At the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, January is the month for sewing up blue scraps.

This is my first Mad City Mama block. I am not sure what to do in the centre block, or what colour to use for the triangle pieces on the corners of the strip pieced blocks. I am thinking about using yellows which might look like stars.
It has been so enjoyable to sort, cut, and re-visit the scraps in the blue bin. 

I have no idea where the fun charm square (on the left) came from. I considered using it for the centre square but it took over the whole block. The blue strips on the right are from the trimmed backings of three different quilts from many years ago. They hold good memories and were cut up into the right size pieces to go into the blue block.
To see more scrappy blue projects, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, January 15, 2016

UFO Woes

My UFO of the month has been mostly pin basted. But we have run into a problem. Can you see it?
A wavy border problem. 
Just on one side.
I have no idea how that happened, but obviously there are so many pleats that I won't be able to quilt them out. The whole time I was pin basting, I was debating what to do with this border. I decided to finish the basting up to the red sashing border. Then I will remove the outside border, re-measure, and reattach. Then I will re-baste that side of the quilt.
How did the month get to be half over so soon??!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A little bit of progress

My first two Allietare Star blocks are together, and here they are with two of the Pisa blocks. I am so happy that I went with the scrappy greys and am getting excited to see how the quilt is going to look when the blocks are together and on pointe!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Design Wall Monday

I have been working diligently on my Allietare blocks. I am amazed that some finished quilt tops and even finished quilts have already been posted on the Quiltville blog!

Here are all of my "Echoes of Pisa" blocks on the design wall.

I am ready to start working on the Allietare Star blocks. All the components are ready and just need to be sewn together.
To see more design walls, hop over to Patchwork Times.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Slow Sunday Stitching

It's Sunday! 
The day of rest, relaxation, recuperation, and renewal. 
Relaxation doesn't happen by reading about it, thinking about it, or hoping for it. 
It only happens by doing it!
And what better way to relax than to do some stitching. You will be amazed at how much time passes while you're "in the zone" of relaxing stitching.

I will be putting some stitches in my Life is Beautiful embroidery project today. This is the house block I am working on, and have just begun stitching the trees.  I have prepared a few more blocks to work on and am eager to get at them, but must finish the house first. 
We had such wonderful links to visit last week, and I hope you enjoyed the wide range of projects that were shared.
As part of the Slow Sunday Stitching community of readers I invite you to leave an encouraging comment to the bloggers who take the time to share with us each week. 
What are your hands stitching today? 

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Scrappy Saturday

Do you have scrap problems like this one?

I have to get some of these large scrap bins under control and into finished quilts. 

And with that goal in mind, I am starting a new Rainbow Scrap Challenge project (well, I'm actually starting 2, but today I'm only admitting to 1!) 
I was inspired by Bonnie Hunter's class photos when she was teaching "Mad City Mama". It's a weird name for a quilt pattern, but it's a great scrap user pattern from her leader/ender book .

The colour of the month for the RSC is blue, and I have been cutting blue scraps into useable sizes for my first block.

Here is my first 25 patch block finished. Each month I plan to make one large block for this quilt, which includes four of the 25 patch blocks, four of the string blocks, and one centre block (which will not be a solid piece of fabric in my blocks).
To see what the other Rainbow Scrappers are making, hop over to SoScrappy.

Friday, January 08, 2016


I am trying so hard to resist starting new projects. And I find it somehow gratifying to make note of the times I am able to resist -just say no!
This is the hard one to resist this week:
Sentimental Stitches
 is offering the pattern for an 1857 applique album quilt - click here for more information. It's free if you collect the patterns as they are released each month. I sure do hope some of you are starting this project so I can live vicariously through you!
And if you start this pattern, and your projects are amazing, will I still be able to resist?!?

Thursday, January 07, 2016

UFO of the month

Here is the UFO closet as 2016 begins. Don't look down... there are boxes and bags of stuff that are an unorganized mess!
There are a lot of great quilts hanging here, just waiting to be finished. I went through the closet and re-evaluated each one to see if I still wanted to finish it, or if it needed to be adopted by another quilter to finish. I discovered that I still like all of these, so they are staying here until they get some stitching TLC. The project on the left is the most exciting for me at the moment, as I have started to sew together my spool blocks from the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, and hope it will become a quilt this year.

My UFO management is not the "out-of-control" problem it used to be because of three changes:
1) I am more careful about beginning new projects (since I realized that I won't have enough hours in my life to finish all the quilts I want to make!)
2) the new projects I tend to start these days involve more hand stitching and take much longer to become a quilt top, thus accumulated less UFO's, and
3) I have finished many quilts over the last few years.

In 2016 I will maintain my practice of attempting one UFO finish each month and will join with Heidi's OMG link up. This month's project will be the same attempt as the one from November and December of last year. Each month this quilt saw some progress, but not a finish.
One of the ways to motivate myself toward a finished quilt is to prepare the binding. I found the perfect fabric and got right to work cutting and sewing the binding.

And here is where this UFO begins the new a pile with it's backing prepared, it's batting cut, and it's binding just waiting to be sewn on the edge.
The next step will be pin basting, and quilting. Which design should be quilted is the next decision to be made. Quilting/life is all about making the decisions!