Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday's Stitches

Happily, my 'candy bowl' is starting to fill as the quilting for Candied Hexagons has started to gel.

Now that there are a few more blocks quilted I'm getting a better sense of what things will look like.

There are a couple of hexies stitched in the same star pattern which I really like and I think that it will be dominant throughout, but I'm still going to mix it up here and there.

I've also solved the puzzle of what to do in the mauve triangles. The notion of starbursts popped into my head and this is where I've landed.

It adds a real sparkle to the quilt and also frames the hexies nicely.

All of the diamonds around the edge of each hexies are quilted a quarter of an inch in from the seam.

So now that the planning is complete the quilting can get under way in earnest. There will be more experimenting with patterns to use inside the hexies, but at least I have three or four patterns that I can fall back on....M

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Remember my 'clean-up in aisle five' a couple of weeks ago? Well, the sewing continued and, believe it or not, I ended up with 190 2-inch four patches in red and white/gold. 190!!!! That scrappy pile just didn't come close to looking like I'd get that many out of it, but I did.

And because I found a few fabrics that I wanted to include in the mix - like this white with tiny red squares and a couple of polka dots - I cut a few strips from my stash...

... and added 56 more to the tally.

I'm toying with making either a sofa quilt or possibly even a full quilt in a pattern that I made up into a table runner a few years ago (don't ask if it is quilted yet...). The four patches would alternate with a variety of green squares and then the whole thing is bordered with 4" saw tooth stars in red, but I just don't know if there will be enough interest in the centre to make it work. It might work with a smaller quilt.

In the meantime, everything is pressed and stored away until I feel like cutting my greens and working on it again....M

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Slow Start

Wow. Last week when I put Candied Hexagons into the hoop there were times that I felt as though I had never quilted before; it was almost painful. For starters, I was still puzzling through how to quilt it but I figured if I just put it in the hoop the inspiration would come. Not so fast...

After much noodling I decided that I'd just loosen up a little and try something new. These hexies are all different and, true to the pattern name, remind me of a huge handful of candies so I'm going to play a little bit and quilt each one differently. Well, maybe not all different designs, but enough variety to mix it up a bit and make it interesting.

The second criteria is that I didn't want the quilting to be predictable, but the patterns needed to be straight lines - no curves - because I don't want to have to deal with marking it. More head scratching.

Eventually the first pattern appeared but there was a fair bit of undoing before I had something that I was happy with. There were other challenges too. For some reason I seemed to have found the one needle in the pincushion that had the world's smallest eye, and, since I was working in poor lighting, blue smoke could be seen coming from my chair as I continually failed to thread it. I finally traded it in for a better model and set myself up with a better lamp, both of which were game changers. Whew!

So now I've got a rhythm back to my stitching and I'm starting to get an idea of how it might come together. I'm looking forward to making some progress on it during today's football playoffs. Fingers crossed that it will be a more relaxing experience than last weekend's....M

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Little More Play Day

Before finishing up our play day last week Anne and I took a stab at trying a new block - the Disappearing Four Patch. They are fast and easy and would make up into a quick baby or child's quilt. Here's a quick tutorial if you would like to give them a try.

We sewed a four patch block using two white and two blue print 5" squares.

Once it's pressed, cut 1.5" on either side of the centre seamline both vertically and horizontally (the instructions said 1" but we went a bit chunkier).

Switch up the centre strip pieces moving them left to right and top to bottom and sew that together.

And before you know it you have an 8" block. When I left Anne her design wall looked like this...

but she's been cutting and sewing since then and has a few more added to the mix. She says it takes about 10 minutes per block which isn't bad at all.

I like the plaid effect that you get and am contemplating cutting one myself, possibly starting with a 6" block and making my centre seam cuts 1" and see what that looks like. So many possibilities!....M

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Empty Hoop Syndrome

My hoop has been empty for quite some time, sitting quietly in the corner just waiting for a new quilt to be loaded.

Late last fall I had Roberta baste my Candied Hexagons and it too has been waiting patiently for a date with the hoop, but I just wasn't prepared to get that going over the holidays - too much on the go.

But today's the day. After a great walk in the snow I've now loaded it and I'm ready for a little playoff football and a little hand stitching. These lines of stitching are the basting - I still have to figure out how I'm going to quilt it......M

Friday, January 13, 2017

Play Day

I had the day off so I spent most of it with Anne showing her how to put together the Christmas star table toppers that I made for the Holly Bazaar.

I had a pile of 3.5"  and 2" white blocks left over so she started with that, laying them out to get the colour distribution that she wanted. The first one that I made a couple of years ago took me forever because I only did one star block at a time and then figured out the rest of the colour placements as I went. Live and learn.

Once the layout was set she got busy sewing the start points.

She sewed and I pressed and trimmed and before long we had rows to be assembled into blocks.

Ta da! Her first topper. She's tickled with it and I'd say it's an excellent first effort. It was the first piece to adorn her new design wall and it will stay there as she ponders how to quilt it....M

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Clean-up in Aisle Five

A clean-up of my cutting table was in order if there's any sewing to be done on my machine this year, so I took the plunge. Turns out that much of what was at the bottom of the pile were red, cream and green scraps. Since I don't have a quilt that I'm piecing by machine right now the time was right to trim those scraps into strips and squares rather than just shuffle them out of sight and into a storage bin.

So I cut as much as I could into 1.5" strips and squares and then started sewing little white/gold and red four-patches.

Most of the strips were on the short side so I'd find a relatively long strip in one colour and just keep feeding different sized strips of the second colour on top til I had a string that I could trim into 1.5" lengths.

Anything that was the wrong size or the wrong colour (green) ended up on a new pile...

simultaneously becoming a pile of Christmassy crumb blocks, roughly 5" square; they still need to be trimmed.

I've worked my way through all of the cream bits on the table so my cream scrap bin came out and I found more to play with; then I did the same with the red bin. I've also found a red jelly roll that I bought years ago on eBay so it will eventually kick in to support the cause.

It would have been easy just to take all of those scraps and pitch them and make a clean start but then I wouldn't have a lovely little pile of 70 four-patches, with the promise of more to come, would I? They will finish off at 2" square. Its a relaxing way to spend time at the machine and a fun way to get to the bottom of some of those scrap baskets....M

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Stars Come Out

Betty and I had a good laugh when we went digging in my sewing room for a piece of blue to finish off a quilt/duvet cover that she is sewing for my favourite nephew (sorry, I wasn't smart enough to get a pic for you) because it is such a disaster zone. At least it was. Piles are gradually being returned to shelves and surprises are revealing themselves in the process.

Last November, in a fit of 'lets-just-do-one-more-thing-for-the-Holly-Bazaar-even-though-I-have-no-time' I made a batch of 6" stars thinking that they would become potholders. Well, I found them in a pile in the sewing room, so that clearly didn't happen.

They have found a temporary home on the design wall until I decide what to do with them. Maybe I'll get a head start on my bazaar sewing for this year and make them up right away, or maybe they are the start of something else - they would make a nice round in a medallion quilt. Who knows, but it was a nice surprise to find them in my 'piling system'....M

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

A Quilt Made of Ball Gowns

Canadian Conservation Institute
This is a big year for Canada. We are celebrating our sesquicentennial and there's lots of wonderful quilty threads that will be running through it. Here's a small sampling.

Betty recently shared a story on facebook about a quilt made of ball gowns - how romantic is that? Its 152 years old and has been carefully restored by the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa. Created by dressmaker Fanny Parlee out of scraps from silk and velvet gowns that she made for ladies attending Charlottetown Confederation balls and galas in 1864, it is both a piece of history and a work of art. The Charlottetown Conference brought together reps from the colonies of British North America to discuss confederation and laid the foundation for the formation of Canada.

Canadian Conservation Institute
Sixteen large blocks and four smaller ones combine to create a beautiful crazy quilt finished with a soft grey ruffle. It was sent to Ottawa in the mid nineties but the painstaking restoration process didn't begin until four years ago. It will be on exhibit at the Kings County Museum in Hampton, New Brunswick during the summer. Road trip, anyone?

Paper piecers might be interested in sewing up the Canada 150 logo; Dana Szucs Hayden has created a free pattern for you. I want to give paper piecing a try this year but I think I'll start with something a little simpler.

There's also a 150th quilt honouring inspiring, sometimes feisty, pioneering Canadian women designed by Kathryn Wilson Tucker entitled 150 Canadian Women. Made from 6.5" blocks, it is very reminiscent of a Dear Jane quilt. This free pattern is being offered for a limited time. It looks like things started around the end of November so some of the links may have expired but if you missed any they will all will be available to you on a CD at the end of the program.

And, just because you can't spend all of your time quilting, to celebrate Canada's 150th Parks Canada is offering its 2017 Discovery Pass for free throughout the year; it would normally cost around $140 per family. It's an opportunity to visit some of the country's most famous sites, such as Banff, Pacific Rim, the Bruce Peninsula, the Thousand Islands, Cape Breton and Gros Morne. You can have it shipped to your address for free, or pick one up at a park entrance; it covers unlimited entry to national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada. I say again, road trip anyone?

Happy 150th Canada!....M

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Comfort and Joy

For the last few days, between shoveling snow and chipping ice, we have enjoyed putting our feet up relishing the last of our days off, and I've picked up Minnie again for a bit. This is always my go to project when I don't have anything that's ready to sew at the machine and a real treat to work on.

Interestingly, I kept finding blocks in various stages of completion - I had them tucked all over the house, it seems - so I worked at getting them all into one spot and more diamonds sewn together. Three more were added to the pile.

There are also now two more four-diamond blocks that are ready for a border...

and one four-diamond block that the outer border was added to.

Of course, there were times when sustenance was required to keep energy levels up...

We've still got a couple of days of vacation and lots of football to enjoy, so Minnie will be close at hand. I hope that you are finding some quiet time to stitch, now and throughout the coming year. Happy New Year everyone!....M