Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Hand Made Christmas

4sets of Potholders from scraps

Another 4 sets of Potholders from scraps
Christmas has come and gone for another year. Hope everyone's was wonderful. I spent the last few weeks prior to the big day doing lots of baking, sewing and knitting. My projects were mainly for family so I didn't dare show pictures here of what I was doing. Now that all the gifts have been delivered and opened, I can share them with you.

Old embroidery test pieces used as back of potholders

Potholders for my sisters and daughters, made from squares leftover from my mystery star quilt and some machine quilted/embroidered blocks for the backs. Three of the smaller ones were made from 9-patch blocks that were in mom's collection which I inherited.
A couple of the sets were made with leftovers from this table runner. I call it Crazy Holly and it is my third finish in the New Year's Eve challenge.
Knitted slippers for two of my grandsons. I have another two pair I am still working on as well.
A wooden trinket box that my granddaughter saw and told me she wanted on the morning of the 24th. I brought it home and was able to stain it that afternoon and spray varnish it late that night so it would be ready to wrap in the morning. She was surprised and really loved it! That made it all worthwhile.

Finally, I made a set of Junior cook sized oven mitts that I, unfortunately, forgot to take a picture of.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scrap Happy!

I love the look of scrappy quilts.. I've been admiring many that I have seen online while blog-jogging. On Quiltville, Bonnie has shared her Scrap Users System and I'm sure most quilters have heard of it. If by some chance you haven't, click on the links and check it out. She also shares many wonderful patterns to use up your scraps!

Feeling the need to do some organizing, I worked for a few afternoons to organize my scraps. I dug out the plastic bins (sure wish I had stock in THAT company) and began to cut strips and squares. I just cut strips of various widths if the piece was at least 12" long. If it was shorter, I cut it into squares. After spending many hours of cutting, my 'organized' scrap stash all fit neatly into just 4 video storage boxes. They aren't even anywhere near full. :S Is it possible for a person to not have enough scraps?? YUP, it sure is.

A woman on a quilting forum site that I frequent was chatting about clearing out her sewing room of quilting fabric if it was anything less than 1/8 yd. She was going to TOSS IT INTO THE TRASH. Having heart palpitations, I sent a message to her saying I would LOVE to have any scraps that she was getting rid of. I'd could pay the postage OR send fabric in return for her trouble. Sadly, I never did hear from her so, I imagine, all that fabric was sent to her local landfill. :-(

HOWEVER, another lady by the name of Karen sent me a message saying that she had a box of scraps that she'd be happy to send me!! We made arrangements and the box arrived at my door today!

Now, I'm sure some people will think I'm loosing it to be so HAPPY over a box of scraps but I am over the moon! I'd estimate that about 1/3 of the box are pieces that are already cut into strips and squares.

There are some larger pieces, even some fat 8's and fat 4's! There is a whole pile of 2.5" strips in black on white and white on black prints... there are also pieces of beautiful hand dyeds. Here's a picture of it all on my livingroom floor. I tried to seperate things mostly by color as I unpacked the box.

Karen, I can't thank you enough! My brain is spinning with ideas to use these!! I know that one of the first things I will work on is a scrappy quilt for charity. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

English Paper Piecing

I have been working on the English paper piecing mystery quilt at CD Designs.  I was able to finish the first 5 steps easily within one week with time to spare. The first photo is steps 1 through 5 joined together.

A new step is posted every saturday. When step 6 was posted, I thought I would have plenty of time to complete it and didn't start working on it right away. Needless to say, it took longer to do this step than I expected and I didn't get it finished. Well, these things tend to "snowball" and now I am one step behind.

Here are the most recent pieces that I've done. The colors in this photo are more true to life. The six pieces are just laid out this way for the picture. Since this is a mystery, we won't know exactly how it all goes together until the end. Maybe I will be able to get caught up yet this week.

I haven't done anything more yet on the Rainbow Hearts baby quilt. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly to do for the actual quilting. I've had advice suggesting circular designs. I have no idea what would be good or if I would be able to accomplish something like that myself. I would be able to do a large all over stipple but I just doubt that would be the best design. I also could easily stitch in the ditch or do a 1/4" outline around the hearts. I just need to make a decision and then do it!

As for the binding, if I want to use the same fabric as the border, I'd need to cut the border down by 2" or I will not have enough of that fabric to do the binding. Since this was a pre-cut kit, I don't have any of the fabrics that were used within the quilt to use for the binding. **sigh** This was supposed to be an easy project! 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

OCD Finishing (or something like that)

Here's an update on my Rainbow Hearts baby quilt. I selected a fabric for the outside border and have sewn it on. Now I am waffling on whether I have made that border too wide, too overpowering or not. It is the same width as the blocks within the quilt but I'm wondering now if it should have been narrower. (Notice my slipper matches the border?? lol)

Here is photo of the same border folded back to look narrower. I know there are some kind of rules for borders, that they should reflect the size of components within the quilt or some such thing. I just want this to look balanced and not weird.

The binding is supposed to be the same batik as the inner border. Hopefully I won't stress out over that too IF I get that far. I also have a difficult time coming up with a plan for the actual quilting on things. I've heard so often that the quilting can make or break a quilt and I stress over doing it "wrong" and screwing it up. After all the time that goes into the piecing, I sure don't want to ruin it.

I do this to myself all too often. Perhaps that is why I stall at putting the borders onto otherwise completed quilt tops (unless there is a pattern that tells me exactly what to do) and also why I have a closet full of tops that have never been quilted. I know one option would be to send them to a longarmer to have it done. Then I stress that I may not like what they choose to do. If I knew what pattern or design would enhance the quilt, I'd rather do it myself. Maybe its a control thing... I would even like to do some by hand. I do have a few books of quilting designs. Again though, I stall at what designs to use and where. Many patterns don't help when they say "quilt as desired". Finishing a quilt should not be this hard or this stressful!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Winter Weather in Southern Alberta, Canada

Doot doot dooooo - lookin' out my back door! This is what I saw today. Wish I had something there more interesting to look at, but there is a reason for this picture. Many people think that, since I live in Alberta, Canada, we should be knee deep in snow by now. That is not the case as here in the South East corner of the province, our weather tends to be much milder than it is farther north or east. We have still to see any flakes fall here. We have been basking in glorious sunshine for the most part all fall. I'm going to keep posting a snapshot of the scene from my back door as the winter progresses so check in often!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Catching Up

I have been working on the Rainbow Hearts baby quilt. This was an ebay purchase and I would have sent a complaint to the seller except that, her instructions clearly show that the block has the corner of the white square chopped off even though the picture of the finished quilt does not. I knew that I would not be happy with making it according to those directions and everyone who left comments on my previous post was in agreement with that.

First, I cut down all the white squares so that the corners would not be cut off in the finished block. The smaller triangles then fit perfectly but the large triangle was quite a bit oversized.

I sewed all the blocks and then cut them all down to the same size.

The instructions said to set the blocks 6 across and 9 down. That layout would have given a really long, skinny quilt especially now that my blocks were slightly smaller than the pattern intended. Since the kit actually had supplies enough for 60 blocks, I decided to lay it out with 7 blocks across and 8 down. After the supplied border was sewn on, the quilt is about 28 x 32 which I think is still a bit small. I think it could use another border. I'm going to go digging in my stash to see what I can come up with.

This does not seem like a lot to tell for almost 2 weeks... There was halloween of course and I had about 40 kids come to my door for treats. My two youngest grand-sons popped in for a quick visit as did my oldest grand-daughter and her friends. This grammie was not on the ball when the little ones were here and I didn't get a picture of them but I did get one of DGD with her friends. GD is dressed as Goth Raggedy Anne. My daughter always does such a great job of makeup for the kids! She also created the costume from an old prom dress and part of a bed sheet!! Talk about creativity! It was a beautiful day this year as it was warm enough that none of the kids needed extra coats or mittens etc. They all had a fun time of it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Another Dilemma

In my quest to finish things, I thought I would work on one of the many small kits that I have collected. This is a kit for a baby quilt that I 'won' on eBay a while back. All the fabric is precut and there was a sample block included with the instructions. The finished size according to the instructions is 30" x 43".

Here's my problem. Take a look at the PINK sample block. Besides being badly out of square, you notice that the white square has had the center corner chopped off. Also the top right of the block looks like it was trimmed and the diagonal line is nowhere near the corner in order to get a nice match with the next block. Some of this is due to trimming but the center point of the white square is due to that square being too large or the triangles on either side being cut too small.

I made the green and purple block using some scraps. Since I can't make the small triangles larger, I cut the center white square down by 1/4" from the size that is in the kit so that the triangles that are sewn to either side will meet in the center to give a good point on the white square. The large triangle is then quite oversized and had to be trimmed down, which I did after the block was sewn. 

I believe the original block size was meant to be 4 1/2" unfinished (possibly). After trimming, the maximum size I can get is about 4 3/8" which really is not so far off.

My dilemma is this - Is it more important to get that nice join on the white, recut the 50 some white squares in the kit and loose some of the finished size of the quilt, OR should I sew the block with the white square the size it is which will chop off the center corner of the white square as in the 'kit sample" but will result in a larger finished quilt.? What would you do?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Finish #2 in Finn's Challenge

I've been challenging myself to stay OFF of the computer and spend more time in the sewing room. Now, its starting to pay off! Here it is... the Late Summer's Evening mystery quilt top totally pieced complete with borders! I'm counting this as a finish for Finn's challenge. It measures 84" square so I had to take the picture outside on the clothes line since I don't have a big enough empty floor space to lay it on!

I keep looking at the center block and wishing I had used a bit stronger yellow, or maybe even a red, as the pale yellow seems to almost disappear. The thought goes through my head that I should pick out that center square and re-do it...

I had mentioned in a previous post the English Paper Piecing mystery that I signed up for at CD Designs. Here are my steps 2, 3 and 4. It is interesting guessing how this might go together, but then, we don't know if all of these parts are joined or if there are other pieces to go between them yet. All in all, its a fun project with an easy time line. Each step is easily finished in about 3 hours.


Keep on stitchin' until next time!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Finish #1 for the challenge!

This was a hand applique class taught by Doreen, a member of our local guild, Prairie Rose Quilters. Once the center was finished, I added borders with Cathedral Window miters. I wanted to hand quilt this piece in order to learn the process a bit better. This is the second item that I have hand quilted. I finished it with a zippered back so it can be used either as a pillow or as a wall hanging. This is my first finish for Finn's New Years Eve Challenge!
My first hand quilted project was this table runner which I made last summer (pre-blog). It is actually a "Quilt as you sew" project but, after it was sewn, I felt it needed something more. I adapted a stencil I had for the border and the triangles, then did some straight lines. It proved to be a great portable learning project during my recovery from hip surgery. My hope is to be able to do more hand quilting as I find it very soothing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What am I doing!

I haven't got back to working on my mystery quilt borders... actually, it's called "Late Summer Evening". This mystery came from a site called The Quilt and Needle. Here are all my borders waiting patiently for me on the design wall door of my sewing room. If you like mysteries, they are planning another mystery quilt weekend probably on December 6th and 7th. 

Ok, I can hear you saying "What the heck have you been doing??"

Well.. its not like I am sitting on my hands - I always seem to manage to find things to distract me! Like - this English Paper Pieceing mystery from CD Designs. This is done completely by hand and new steps are posted every Saturday. This photo is of step one. See all those pieces of paper? ALL of those will be used in making this project which will finish at about 26" around for a table topper. Those triangles look kinda little...

But wait.... that's not all! I also found the quilting forum at Garden Web. They are doing a monthly "Lotto" block which I thought would be fun to join. I finished two blocks that are now on their way to the host. There are many other interesting groups to find in the home forums. 

And then, of course, there are all those other wonderful blogs out there for me to discover like these I found this week:

My Quilting Porch

Thoughts from a disorganized quilter

My Yellow Farmhouse

So, thats my excuse(s) and I'm sticking to it! 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ugly Mug Award

Marlene at Sipiweske Quilt Designs  passed this award on to me.  Thanks Marlene!! Be sure to check out her blog! This award is meant to "honor any blogger who crafts, sews, quilts - you know, makes stuff - no matter how crappy (or how good). An interesting way to say - I like your blog, like your stuff, and I'm pretty sure you have a good sense of humor." 

This is the first award I've received!! I'm thrilled and can't wait to nominate three others for this award. First though, I'll show you my ugly mug - the one I use every morning for my coffee. Yes, its an insulated type mug that came from a gas starion probably 10 or more years ago. I love it because its my kinda color! Besides, I usually end up getting sidetracked and if I didn't use the insulated mug, I'd constantly be drinking cold coffee, which I don't mind either but thats another story.

Now, I would like to pass this Ugly Mug Award on to the people whose blogs I enjoy and who will, in turn, need to pass this on to 3 other people. The nominees are:

Tracy at Fiber Babble - Tracy has a wonderful sense of humor and I really enjoy her blog! She quilts, sews, knits, crochets and I'm sure there's more. When my blog grows up, I want it to be just like hers!

Sue at Featherstone Quiltworks - Sue must have a great sense of humor - check out the picture of her favorite her halloween costume!! She is also a wonderful and talented quilter as well as an amazing photographer.

Mary at Making Scrap Quilts From Stash- Mary is a very prolific quiltmaker and designs quilts as well. I wish I could finish one tenth of the quilts that she does!

If you are interested in the origins of this award, check out "The Bitchy Stitcher" blog.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Those blasted UFO's

I have whole totes full of them. I know this because I just found another container full of tops, all of which are completed except for borders. Most have the binding cut and stored with them. I guess I was organized better at some point! lol 

I did a google search and found a site called The UFO-RPHANAGE for Quilters that has ideas for finishing UFO's as well as other topics. A couple that made me giggle were:

         "A stalled project gets a "time out". The project gets put away in a drawer or closet for a prescribed amount of time (days, weeks, months) and then is allowed to come out for another attempt at progressing smoothly. 

Personally, I am really good at this one except that I didn't set a time limit other than "some other time"! That's how I accumulated so many UFO's! I'm thinking I need to go back and put some dates on things.

         "Start a new, small project (wall hanging, table runner or simple baby quilt), that can be finished in a couple of days. Just starting and finishing one project gets me inspired to finish some of the UFO's that have been sitting." 

This one was how I justified working on new projects... and added to my UFO's! Everyone finds different things that work for them.

Seriously, there are some very good ideas there such as:

  • Set a timer for 15 min and work on a UFO before going on to your current project
  • Choose not to finish the project as it was originally defined. Use the blocks to create something else (like a table runner or a tote) and put the extra fabric back into your stash.
  • Get together with a group of others for a day of finishing UFO's
  • Make a list of all UFO's to see if there is a pattern of when you stop working on a project.

The last one made me realize that I have a problem with borders....  I'm not sure why as most borders are not difficult. Perhaps its just having a small space to work in? 

OK - I am going back in there right now to sew the first borders onto my mystery quilt!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Question about flying geese

I have a QUESTION about pressing flying goose/geese units that I am making for the border of my mystery quilt.  When you join two units together (or many units as in my border) do you press: a) --> the way they want to go (which is away from the point of the goose)? If you press this way you don't have a guide when you sew the next border on and could loose the side points..

b) <-- towards the point of the goose?? It seems that when pressing them this way, you don't get as sharp a point at the top.

What do YOU do??

So, while I wait for your input I'm mending the big "T" rip in my grandson's sheets! That's just one little way for gramma to say I love you.

PS:  Because "t" asked, YES I have finally got my new glasses!!  I can see!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Start of a new month

Thought I'd try another word cloud just to see how it came out this time.  Yay!! This one definitely looks more like it belongs to a quilter's blog. Wish I knew how to make the image larger.

By the way, I am STILL joining flying goose units for the borders of my Mystery Star Quilt! 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Taking Up The Challenge!

I was surfing around quilter's blogs and discovered that Finn at Pieces From My Scrapbag has organized a New Year's Eve Challenge. Since I seem to be very good at starting projects and not so good at completing them, I decided that I needed to join to get some of those many UFO's off the list and finished. My goal is to finish at least 3 items listed on my side bar by New Year's Eve.

Tomorrow (today actually but I have to sleep a little first), I will work on my first UFO and since the Mystery Quilt is on top of the pile, that will be my first challenge.

I have just discovered that the "Just Us Quilter's" list is back up!! Thanks Niki! Click on the link and list your blog today. Unfortunately, all the previous blogs listed were lost but, hopefully, everyone who had originally listed their blog will re-list!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mystery Quilt and Glasses

It's been a while... did anyone miss me??  I have decided to take some time to do things that make me happy. One of those things is sewing - specifically quilting.

I joined an online mystery quilt weekend at The Quilt and Needle. This is something that they offer a few times a year and there is a forum on their website for members to keep in touch and to track progress during the mystery quilt weekends. Here is my almost completed quilt top. There are several borders to be added yet, one of which is made up of 148 flying goose units.

Here are some of the flying goose units waiting patiently to be joined into borders.  

I have an excuse for my tardiness in completing this task. Gotta hate it when this happens and you can't see well anymore without your bi-focals. 

I had to go to an optometrist to have my eyes checked and to see if I needed a new prescription. I had already thought that I needed stronger lenses as I've been having trouble seeing fine work up close. So now, my new specs are ordered and will be here next week. Until then, I have to struggle along by using drugstore magnifiers.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

CBS News on Quilting

I found this CBS News report on quilting.. featuring Ricky Timms.  Be sure to check it out HERE. His work is just amazing! He is just like many of us, trying to get someone new interested in the allure of the quilt.

Oh, and I want to go to one of these huge quilt shows one day. Perhaps I can plan my vacation time around one.  My family's usual winter vacation spot is Fairmont Hot Springs in BC. Since I can no longer ski, I drag along my sewing machine and more projects than I will ever be able to finish.  I spend my days happily working toward finishing a UFO during that week and, of course, soak in the hot springs every night. It is truly wonderful.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Something Fun!

I went to Pat Sloans blog and found this test - What Flavor Popsicle are You? I tried it and I'm LIME... Best part is, Pat is GIVING AWAY FABRIC if you leave a comment telling her what YOUR flavor is. Did I mention that I really love lime colored fabric? 

You Are a Lime Flavored Popsicle
You are an outrageous person. For you, summer is all about going crazy - even if it means getting in trouble. You are daring and adventurous. You have a real taste for the edgier things in life. A true wild child, there's no hope of you ever slowing down. You've got too much sass and spunk to ever behave.