Friday, January 30, 2015

Strippy Blues: X Block

Within two or three feet of my chair in the sewing room I can reach out and touch any number of WIPs. They run the gamut of incompletion, ranging from piles of leftovers all the way to 'almost finished'.

Well, there has recently been a 'laying on of hands' to the pile of blue and grey leftover strips from Sea Glass to take it to the next level. I had made four wonky Log Cabin blocks with chartreuse centres for a pillow from some of them but there are still lots left.

I have long loved this scrappy Rainbow Connection quilt from Amy at Diary of a Quilter, and the other day I came across this tutorial from Leigh at Leedle Deedle Quilts which is the same one that Amy used, so, Tutorial + Strips = New Project!

Mine will be much more muted than Amy's (though some day I want to do a bright version) and there aren't enough strips to make a quilt, so I think it will be a table runner. The blocks are 6" finished so I might do three across - I'll see what it looks like. It's relatively mindless sewing but feels so good to move through that pile. That said, I'm amazed at how long the pile is lasting. I thought I might have enough to do a cushion, i.e. four 6-inch blocks, but there will be lots more than that....M

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tool Time

I've had questions about where I bought the handle to tighten my quilting hoop but have been unable to reply because folks are identified as 'no-reply bloggers' so I thought I'd do a quick post about it in case others were interested in looking for one as well.

I had to do a little digging after the question was asked as there are no markings on the tool. Sleuth that I am, I finally found the answer. I got it from Carol Shewan at Willow Creek Rug Hooking. The tighteners are not in her online shop but if you contact her she will be happy to help. If memory serves me correctly, I paid about $5 for it.

It is such a joy to work with so if you use a quilting hoop I would really encourage you to pick one up; your knuckles will thank you. Makes you wonder why someone didn't think of this sooner.

The slot in one end of the handle has a hole drilled into it so it just sits over the screw and the wing nut in your frame and you use it much like a screwdriver.

Thought you'd enjoy a quick peek to what the border quilting pattern looks like from the back. It will need one more little square added to the corner where the two large triangles meet, but I'll do those all at the end.

Also, if you are a no-reply blogger, here's a link to step-by-step instructions for how you can change that so that I am able to reply to your questions - I love getting your comments and this just makes it that much easier to connect....M

Sunday, January 25, 2015

No More Rolling Around on the Floor

How long have I been saying that I need to get things up off the floor and make a design wall so that I can have a better perspective on things and not have to spend my time laying out blocks on my hands and knees doing my best impersonation of an Olympic gymnast doing a floor routine? Well, thanks to my favourite nephew, I now have.

He delivered two sheets of insulation for me (about a year ago already!) but they have been languishing in the garage until I figured out what I was going to do with them. This week he cut them down to six foot heights for me so that I could get them down the stairs and wrap them in batting, just taping it to the back sides.

Because I expect to be moving these around a fair bit I went back after the first round of taping and just secured all of the loose edges so that things wouldn't come undone. So now I have almost a complete wall in my sewing room that is a design wall - yippee skippee!

In hindsight, I probably should have had them cut six inches taller but I have to manoeuver around a few tricky corners so I went for the shorter height. I'd still like the boards to sit higher on the wall so I'm going to get him to build me a little platform with a ledge so that I can snug the panels between the ceiling and the platform without having to nail anything into the wall to secure them. Right now they are sitting atop two shoe boxes. Classy.

So, as soon as they were up I had to try placing my star blocks and some geese. The room is very small so I think I'm going to need to use a different lens to be able to get more of what's on the wall into the frames to share with you (I had to leave the room to take the photo at the top of this post!). Also, because there is no natural light in the room it's tough to get shots with true colours - I'm going to have to see if I can get different bulbs that don't throw such a warm glow over everything.

Anyway, back to the quilt. I still like it with just all the star blocks and nothing else, but the geese haven't been ruled out yet.

Remember I said I wasn't sure if this was one quilt or two? Well, this is the idea that is running around my head for the second option - columns of geese in varied lengths. I'll make more geese and see where that takes me. In the meantime, I'm pinching myself that this is actually done....M

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Thin Green Line

Much to my surprise, I continue to make great progress on quilting the border of Confetti and now have two sides finished. I'm finding this a little unbelievable, but in a good way. I have to give a lot of the credit to my trusty painter's tape. The pattern that I'm stitching is all straight lines so I'm marking it off with the tape - no marker or pencil line to worry about and no erasing/rinsing. Love it.

These are my trusty tools - my newer glasses to help see the cream thread against the cream print, thread, scissors, and the wooden handle that I bought at FibreFest this past fall.

There's a slot in one end that just slides over the wing nut to help you tighten or loosen the quilting hoop. It's ideal - no more fiddling with the little nut and getting residue from the screw on your fingers, and it's kind to your fingers in a way that the metal isn't. I think it may be the best five bucks I've spent in a long time.....M

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What If...

There's been lots more pondering about the star quilt that I started on a whim and how far out of my comfort zone I'm prepared to wander i.e. do I mix in the graphic prints that were in the original bundle of fabrics with the floral background. I like all of the fabrics together but I really do like all of the florals in the star blocks on their own too. Sooo, I started to play 'what if'.

What if I used the graphic prints for flying geese? I'm really liking them in the geese... What if they become a border, or maybe columns to separate the columns of star blocks?

Should the print be used for the goose or should the goose be white? A mix maybe? Maybe the geese will become a quilt of their own?

I've made up geese in two of the prints and am liking what I see on the floor right now. There's a grey floral that might get made into three more star blocks because if the quilt is going to be wider with the addition of columns of geese it should probably be longer as well (so much for just 'whipping up a little quilt top').

Still not sure if this is one quilt or two but it's a good workout for my tiny little brain....M

Sunday, January 18, 2015

One Treat After Another

I had to make a quick trip to Toronto for meetings, which I don't always favour in the middle of winter, but this one turned out to include a few sweet treats so that helped.

For starters, our friend Mireille had ordered a Galette des Rois (King's Cake) - the flaky, buttery, puff pastry kind with a layer of crème d’amandes - for our family from a lovely little French bakery on Mount Pleasant called Thobors (I could happily live out the rest of my days there...), so I was able to pick it up. We dug into it last night and the oohs and aaahs just kept coming. And, I was lucky enough to find one of the ceramic figurines that was hidden in it, so that was fun too. It's a lovely tradition and if you want to try making one of your own it looks totally doable.

Then, on the drive home I happened upon a new quilt shop in the lovely little hamlet of Bethany. It's called From the Heart and just opened in December. It is a lovely space with a great selection of fabrics and more coming in all the time. I found a few pieces for Minnie and a red holiday print too.

I also picked up another packet of Clover silk pins (I use these all the time - they are wonderfully fine), and I tossed a soft thimble into the bag too. I want to learn how to quilt with a running stitch so that I can move along faster rather than the single stitch method I use so I thought this might act as an incentive.

Edyta Sitar's book Handfuls of Scraps came with me too. I really love the cover quilt and the combination of hexies and appliqué.

The shop hosts Fireside Fridays where you bring your stitching and sit by the fire for the afternoon; I think mid week it's Wooly Wednesdays. Wish I lived closer. Their website isn't up yet but they do have a facebook page that you can visit if you are interested.

About an hour after arriving home our weekend company arrived so it's been a full several days. Today it will be hand stitching and more quilting and maybe a little playoff football. I'm looking forward to putting my feet up....M

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thank You Downton Abbey

Fans of Downton Abbey know that season five started last Sunday (yaaaa!) - lots of fashionable bling and old money to start the new year. I am notorious for getting overly engrossed in whatever I am watching so, depending on the stitching and the program, my quilting often spends more time in my lap that actually getting done. Last week though, I had a breakthrough. Much to my delight, I realized half way through the show that I had finished the hand quilting on the centre of Confetti. No one was more surprised than me - I was beginning to think that Stephanie will never get to sleep under it.

So, feeling that I was on a roll, I quickly started at quilting the border.

I'm echoing the pattern in the quilt and liking the effect. It might need one more small square added to fill the larger spaces that aren't quilted, but I'll wait to see what it looks like.

I was able to do a bit every night last week and, thanks to the second episode of Downton Abbey last night, I now have one long side done (gasp!). It's almost unbelievable, but it's enough to make me aim to have it all quilted by the end of February, if not sooner. Wish me luck....M

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Comfort Zone? What Comfort Zone?

Last weekend I started foraging to find what I thought was going to be fabrics for a baby quilt. I've long loved the look of this quilt from Blue Elephant Stitches and thought I'd try my hand at making one of my own, but despite having a room full of fabrics, I didn't land on anything that really got me intrigued or excited.

Until I found this little pile. I bought this bundle of Kaffe Fassett fat quarters on eBay a decade ago when I went through a bit of a phase, but was disappointed when the mailman dropped it off (there are a few missing from this photo). Through the years I've been tempted to give it away several times but would change my mind at the last minute thinking that it would be a good excuse to try something new - you know, get me out of my comfort zone. Last Saturday was the day.

The palette is very soft and a little more washed out than the photos show - very much out of my traditional colour range, so I'm not finding much to mix with it from my stash. But I love the large, lush prints so I started to sew. And the white for the stars is a piece from mom - I can tell because she had it pinned to cut blocks from it.

I used 4.5" and 2.5" squares so a block will finish at 12", which suits the scale of the prints.

And this time, instead of using a strip of painter's tape as a guide for my diagonal seams I'm laying down a thin piece of cardboard and following it from corner to corner. No marking - easy peasy.

So the collection on my design wall door grows (note to self: make a design wall).

A few geometric prints were included in the bundle (you can see one off to the right) but I'm undecided as to whether or not I will use them. They look good in the bundle but I'm thinking that all florals might be a nice look too. There will be enough for 12 blocks, which would make a nice lap/baby quilt. What do you think - would you go all floral?....M

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A Little Journaling

Jane has hinted a few times that she really likes the journal covers that I make, and I've been wanting to make one for her, but wanted to ensure that it was a surprise. I figured enough time had passed and this Christmas was a good time to deliver.

Because I don't make them that often there's always a bit of a learning curve when I get back into them, remembering the modifications that I've made to the original pattern and getting the dimensions right. This time was no different.

I spent a lot of time pulling colours that I thought suited Jane and came up with this combo of very organic prints, predominantly in a rose/plum colour.

A little extra detail was added to the inside cover.

And then I sewed it together. It was too small by about 1/8". Doesn't sound like much but it was enough to make it look like a mess, and there is no way that she would be able to switch up the journal once it was full because you couldn't slide it off. Grrrrr.

That meant making a second one. I tried to replicate the original as much as possible and I also included an aqua stripe because she is such a water baby; I always associate her with the lake.

It was wrapped before I had a chance to get a photo so you'll have to trust me when I say that the two are very similar. Not sure what I can do with the first one without lots of blue smoke rising from the sewing room so for now I'll just think on it. I may be able to resize it to a smaller cover, but I'm going to have to be in the mood for that!....M

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Busy Bee

Dori's been busy lately putting together a new baby quilt for a women's shelter near her, and it's really sweet.

It's an Hourglass - lots of great brights combined with white.

She's getting better at taking photos of the whole process for me to share with you, for which I am  grateful - to me it's about sharing the process as much as the final product. The blocks are about 4.5" - she started with a 6" block.

She's only machine quilted a few quilts but with every one gets better and better. This one is quilted following the diagonal seams, which I like.

It's bound and backed with a large, multi-coloured plaid - you can see a strip of binding hanging on the left side of this pic. Just love bias binding in plaids - there's something about having the checks on the point that really appeals to me.

There was a baby girl born in the shelter about five weeks ago, so it will be for her. When it was bundled up for delivery Dori included a few soft and cuddly stuffed toys made by our friend Nancy - a thoughtful and wonderful parcel for any new mother and child....M

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A Sweet Start to the New Year

Last night we got together with family and friends for dinner to ring in the New Year so it called for a special little dessert.

These Chocolate-Glazed Gingerbread Cakes from Martha Stewart make up quickly and the little bit of crystalized ginger adds just enough 'bling' to make them a festive treat. That combination of chocolate ganache and gingerbread spices never gets old with me.

Today will be a day of watching the Rose Bowl Parade and lots of college football, maybe go for a walk in the snow, so it's the perfect time to re-acquaint myself with Confetti for a little hand quilting, Happy New Year everyone; may it be filled with many blessings, new adventures, and of course, fun and interesting quilting projects. Here's to 2015!....M