Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Owl applique

I was supposed to be figuring out how to post patterns for sale on payhip.com (because they, unlike Craftsy, will handle EU digital VAT collection for me on sales to the European Union starting January 1st).  Oops.  I got sidetracked.

Isn’t he just too cute?

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The design is from Five Sprouts Stitching and was free in their Craftsy shop when I went browsing on the weekend. I feel almost guilty getting this cute design for free. 

If you have followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that this kind of sewing is not my usual fare.  To be honest, after one not so successful attempt I’ve been too chicken to try machine applique again.  Just how do you get around the points and curves neatly? I thought it would take too much time to learn, and there are too few hours for all the things that are on the “to do” list!  Clearly, though, this was higher on the list than the business stuff, which is why I’ll never be a millionaire!

After I commented on yet another of 2strings’ lovely applique projects, and said again how I should really put learning to machine applique on that “to do” list, she pointed me to two tutorials on her blog.  Her tutorial on how to get around the points and curves with machine blanket stitch is wonderful.  It’s very clear and takes all the mystery out of it.  That’s not to say that I didn’t goof a few times, but that was due to me losing track of which part of the stitch the machine was working on.  The tutorial told me to keep track!

I have a half-formed project idea for this little owl.  Some borders and prairie points and a pillow back…  It could work.

OK, back to business stuff.  If all goes well and I don’t get sidetracked too often there will be new links on my pattern page by the end of the week.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas runner

I have two healthy teens who take care of the shoveling, so I’d welcome a decent layer of white stuff outside for Christmas.  However, according to the current weather forecast these snowflakes are the only one we’ll have for Christmas this year.

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We had a small party last night and I really wanted this on the table so I bound it by machine to get it done in time.  I sew the binding to the front, then fold it around to the back, pin it in place, and stitch in the ditch beside the binding on the front.  It looks very much like hand binding on the front.

finished 2014-12-19

I had planned for a while to share a tutorial on how to do this, but look at the link someone posted on a discussion on a Facebook quilting group: http://www.elsiesgirl.blogspot.com/2012/01/machine-binding-explained.html  This is pretty much how I do it (I don’t have a “quilt in the ditch” foot but it is now on my wish list!) so I’ll just link to it and go bake Christmas cookies instead of writing it all up myself!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Last UFO?

Brace yourself….I am working on my last UFO!  Will I actually make it to zero UFOs? To be clear, in this house, once it’s a finished quilt top it moves off the UFO list, even if it takes a while to get quilted!

IMG_8947You might remember my musings back in February about what to do for borders on Vintage Sparkle. At that time I decided to let it sit awhile while I considered my options.  Sometime last spring I got as far as piecing these half stars for a pieced border for plan C.

This is currently my only UFO so a couple of weeks ago I pulled it out of its box, determined to piece those borders.  Uh oh.  I didn’t like it anymore.  At all.  I just stared at it, completely uninspired. 

My kids and hubby just rolled their eyes at me and told me to leave it out for a few days and let it grow on me again.  This was very wise of them.  (It’s almost as though they know me well!) It did grow on me again after I decided to drop Plan C and go back to Plan A.  I still think Plan C would have been a great plan if I had thought of it first and planned the setting accordingly.  As it was, adding the half star pieces to the half stars in the sashing looked tacked on.  It just wasn’t looking good. Thankfully I figured this out before I cut up all my border fabric for Plan C, so I had enough to cut the wider borders I needed for Plan A. 

After Plan A came out on top again, I proceeded to take a whole week to add on 8 border strips, a few at a time.  That’s me.  I really dislike measuring and pinning borders, and sewing those long seams.  If there hadn’t been the zero UFO carrot dangling, I might have procrastinated even longer!  However, that’s an awfully tempting carrot, so the last border finally made it onto the quilt tonight.

Vintage Sparkle flimsy

It’s not a great picture.  The ceiling is a little low in my quilting space so my two volunteer quilt holders couldn’t hold this queen sized quilt top up all the way off the floor. Still, you get the idea.

It is not quite off the UFO list.  It still needs scrappy prairie points all the way around.  The fabric squares for the points have been cut and waiting for a year, so I just need to fold, press and distribute them around the sides.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kaleidoscope Quilt Progress

IMG_8935It has been over a month since I posted an update on the status of my kaleidoscope quilt.  It is coming along in fits and starts, with steady quilting over several days followed by total neglect then back to steady progress again.  I have to concede that it will not be finished by Christmas as I had hoped but at least I am making progress, despite my fitful efforts.

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In between my quilting sessions I have been pondering what I will quilt in the black border space.

Top complete 2014-03-18

It would be a good place to highlight feathers, but I suspect the feathers would not quite suit my teenage son, whose quilt this will be.  I think I have come up with something I like if I can figure out how to make the design turn the corners.  As you can see from my progress chart, I have quite a bit of quilting I can do before I start on the borders, so I have lots of time to sort things out.

I’m going to go get the fruitcake out of the oven and settle in with some slow stitching.  I hope to get a few more triangles colored in on my chart by the end of the evening.

Linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy’s Quilts

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Snowflake set

I bet you thought I was done with snowflakes for a while!  Yes and no.  I don’t have any new ones to share but I wanted to show you the completed snowflake runner.

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Well, maybe now it’s a chair-back runner instead of a table runner!  I tossed the runner over the back of the chair temporarily when I was tidying up. I rather like it paired up with the pillow, and it makes a nice pad for the back of the chair.  I think it might live there for a little while!

I quilted in the ditch all around the snowflakes and borders and the long ”fringe” piano keys on the end.  My plan was to stop there, but the side borders rippled because there was denser quilting in the middle than on the sides.  Hmph. OK fine then!  I freemotioned some freeform loopy stuff (highly technical term) with silver metallic thread and love the result.  It reminds me of the path of light fluffy flakes blown about by the wind.  Plus it took care of that waviness in the border.  It’s nice and flat again.

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If you’ve been following for a while, you probably know that I’m more of a marking kind of gal and I like symmetry.  Freeform was a bit of a stretch but it came out fine.  I did chicken out before adding some in the background of the snowflakes though!

Also, I’m glad I didn’t throw out that metallic thread when I was trying to make more room in my sewing storage and thought I’d never actually use it again.  I had bought it for a class about 12 years ago and hadn’t liked the results then at all, but it was just the right thread for this runner.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Feeling thrifty

I forgot to share this project when I finished it recently.

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I’m feeling particularly pleased with it because it is entirely made of leftovers. The center is made of bonus HST units generated in the making of Starlight WishesThe borders and backing are scraps from the same quilt.  Even the batting was a narrow strip left over from other projects.  I’m feeling very thrifty indeed! 

Even the binding was thrifty.  After I used the green fabric for the back I decided I wanted it for the binding as well – but of course that bit on the back was the last of it!  I thought of using the trimmings from cutting the backing even with the front, but they wouldn’t have been wide enough for a separate binding.  So, I expanded my quilting techniques toolbox and learned how to bind  by folding the backing over to the front.  I’ve seen it I called “self-binding” or “back-to-front” binding.  I looked at several tutorials online and took bits and pieces away from each.  Perhaps I’ll write a tutorial showing what combination finally worked for me.

I may go back and add a bit of free-motion quilting to the borders, as they aren’t quilted as densely as the center, which results in a slight ripple in the borders. I stitched in the ditch quite a bit, then decided I wanted to actually see some quilting so added some outline quilting 1/4” away from some seams.

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This reminds me of confetti, so I’m calling it the Birthday Runner.  We’ll test it out at a family birthday this weekend.  Note to self: don’t get chocolate frosting on the white bits…

Friday, November 14, 2014

With a couple of weeks to spare

I have finally found time to sit at the sewing machine and quilt the latest version of my Stretch table runner for Thanksgiving.  I get to keep this one!

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I showed the completed top and backing almost a month ago here. It took very little time to make those, but then they sat waiting to be quilted.  I put it at the front of the queue since it is in lovely fall colors and would look good on the Thanksgiving table.

When I made the previous two versions I did some elaborate free-motion quilting in the background spaces, but this time I opted for simple outline quilting and I think I like it even better.  It adds definition yet lets the pretty fabrics hog the spotlight.

The fabrics are prettier than they seem here.  The colors seem washed out.  The background is actually more of a rich golden color.  Let me get another picture…



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Better.  The flash washed out the quilting, but the color is closer to the actual color.

Now, onto quilting the birthday runner then the snowflake runner.  I’m clearing the decks before I start something new, pondering what the new something might be as I clear!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Snowalong Week 6!

Snowflake 7 cropped squareThis is it folks!  Here’s Snowflake 7, the last snowflake block pattern in the Snowalong series.  I’ve included 4 versions for this one.  Again, all the versions use the same set of paper piecing templates.

Snowflake 7 v1Snowflake 7 v2Snowflake 7 v3Snowflake 7 v4

This pattern and last week’s combined pattern for Snowflakes 5 and 6 are available free in my Payhip store.  Snowflake 7 will be free through November 16.  Snowflakes 5 and 6 are still free through next Monday.

There is a change in plans concerning the Snowalong linky parties.  My Linky Tools free trial subscription is coming to an end and while I was happy to pay for a subscription to enable sharing in the Snowalong,  I’m less inclined to do so when there isn’t much sharing happening.  So, I’ve updated the Snowalong page to reflect that there will not be any more linky parties.

HOWEVER!!!!

Some of you have let me know that you plan to make some blocks in the future but just can’t fit it into your busy days right now.  I know how that goes!  (Let’s not look at the list of projects I want to start.)  I’d still love to see what you make when you find time to make them, so please leave a comment or send me an email (address is on the sidebar) when you have a flake to share, and I’ll be happy to share a link to your post in a post here on my blog.  Also, the Facebook group will remain, and you can post there anytime.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the snowflakes I’ve shared as much as I’ve enjoyed designing them!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Baby Steps (AKA Star Steps) in Bloggers’ Quilt Festival

My second entry in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival is Baby Steps, which I am entering in the small quilts category.  It measures 50 1/2” x 64”.

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Until I made Quilter’s Scrapbook (my other BQF entry) I always bought fabric for specific projects and didn’t feel I had enough left of anything that went together to make anything else. I certainly didn’t consider the leftovers a stash. With the success of Quilter’s Scrapbook I was inspired to use up my strings for Sparkling StringsThat went well, so I was encouraged to head to the bins of leftovers instead of the quilt shop when I needed to make a baby quilt last spring.  Surprise!  I had enough brights and novelty prints to pull this quilt together AND  there was  fabric left over.  I guess I do have a stash after all!  It’s just in mostly smaller pieces.

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This quilt just went together effortlessly. Besides the fabric jumping out of my bins and saving me a trip to the shop, the quilting cooperated beautifully.  As I wrote in April, a cardboard circle saved from some packaging was exactly the right size to fit evenly along both the width and length of the border and wrap around the corners with absolutely no fudging required!  How often does that happen?  I used my walking foot to quilt straight lines in the steps and to quilt the half-circles in the borders.  The swirls in the star are free-motion quilted.

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I made this as a baby quilt (generously sized for tummy time and big enough for when the baby grows into a toddler) and I love how it turned out. My blogging friend Sandra recently tested the pattern I wrote for this quilt, using “all grown up” fabrics.  You can see her version here.  It got me thinking about alternate colorways and I decided to rename the pattern Star Steps, since it obviously works as a more grown-up quilt too.

Since it was so quick and easy to piece, I’m tempted to make it again in a totally different style.  I’m plotting…if I can get the list of other things to do down to a manageable size, can I try one of these versions? Which one would tempt you, or would you choose another colorway entirely?

Star Steps ChristmasStar Steps CW Reproduction printsStar Steps Blue and GreenStar Steps in Jewel batiks

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quilter’s Scrapbook in Blogger’s Quit Festival

It’s Blogger’s Quit Festival time again.  This time around I’ve decided to enter Quilter’s Scrapbook in the Scrappy category.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve seen this one before.  I love it because it has a scrap of just about every project I made in my first 13 years of quilting.  I have to think a bit harder for some fabrics than others, but I can still identify which project most scraps came from.

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When I started cutting down my scraps into strips, squares and rectangles a few years back, I cut 1 1/2” squares from the smallest scraps.  Once I had a pile of them, I felt ridiculous.  Seriously, when was I going to use those small bits?  I’m not a very scrappy quilter.  I work well with matchy-matchy, organised designs. and all those varied bits were all so…NOT matchy matchy!  Plus they were so small!

I held on to the box of little squares a little longer.  Just as I was about to throw them away, I saw a picture of a quilt made of 144-patch blocks.  All those little disparate bits in each block looked fantastic together and I started thinking that perhaps I could use my tiny squares after all.

In the end I made 100-patch blocks, making a conscious effort to not try to match fabrics as I sewed squares together. After the blocks were made I dressed things up a little with pieced sashing and a pieced border.  I waited until the blocks were done before choosing the sashing and border fabrics.  Once the blocks were made I had a better idea what colours would set them off well.

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I quilted it very simply using my walking foot to quilt straight lines. What you see in the block above was Take 3.  I forget what else I tried, but I do remember picking out whatever my first two ideas for quilting the blocks were!  I knew exactly how I wanted to quilt the border, but it was tedious and I didn’t get a good rhythm going until I was onto the last side.  I think it was worth it though.

This is possibly my favourite quilt so far (well, at least until I put it away and pull out another favourite for a little while!)  It measures 59” x 73”, just perfect for curling up under on the couch.  It’s not quite big enough to drape over my queen bed, but it has been used on top of bigger quilts for an extra layer on colder nights.

I released the pattern for this quilt last January.  I have since updated the pattern to include instructions for strip piecing the blocks as well as those for piecing individual squares.  It is one of my most popular patterns, available in my Payhip store.

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Hop on over to the festival to see all the other lovely quilts. You can nominate your favorite entry for Viewer’s Choice until October 31, then go back and vote for Viewer’s Choice and your favorite quilt in each category between November 1 and November 7.  Enjoy browsing the eye candy!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Snowalong Week 5!

Let’s have a few cheers for Judy and Sandra who both linked up last week!  I hope you popped over to see their eye candy.  Over in the Facebook group Deanna posted pictures of her 4 lovely snowflakes, and Cindy showed us her first one – her first ever paper pieced block too!  Whoot whoot!

Snowflake 5Snowflake 6 cropped square

You’ll find extra options for week 5 of the Snowalong.  Adding just one line to the Snowflake 5 templates created new designs and I couldn’t resist.  Snowflake 6 is just Snowflake 5 plus one extra seam line, so I went ahead and lumped the two together this week.  You could use Snowflake 6 templates to make Snowflake 5, but I included both sets anyway.

I included 4 variations for snowflake 5:

Snowflake 5  v1Snowflake 5  v2Snowflake 5  v3Snowflake 5  v4

There are at least 3 variations for Snowflake 6:

Snowflake 6  v1Snowflake 6  v2Snowflake 6  v3

Download the patterns here.  This pattern will be free for two weeks.

We’re almost done!  There will be one more snowflake pattern next week. How many have you tried?  Any pictures to share?  Link up to your blog post or post pictures in the Facebook group.



Monday, October 20, 2014

Snowalong Week 4!

Snowflake 4 cropped squareWe’re already halfway through the Snowalong Sew-along!  Be sure to go have a peek at the snowflake blocks other quilters have shared.  So far we’ve seen a few flurries over on the Facebook group. Tracy, Sisi, Linda, Tanya, Deanna and Deb have all shared at least one snowflake.  Here on the blog, Deb (who also posted on FB!), Judy and Sandra have shared as well. Thank you all for participating! I’m hopeful that a few more of the 850+ folks who have downloaded a pattern will be inspired to share their efforts as well!  (Pretty please?  I’d really love to see them!)

Before I share the link to the week 4 pattern, I have just a few things to share about paper piecing.  I know some of you have had your blocks finish smaller than intended, and I have been racking my brain looking for clues about what might cause this and how to avoid it.  Here are a few ideas.  I don’t guarantee they’ll solve the problem, but if you’re tearing your hair out because of shrinking blocks, these might be worth a try.

1. Press at each step, but hold the steam.  Steam can make your paper shrink, and that will alter the size of the printed template.  Even a small loss can add up to measurable loss over several patches.

2.  Choose your paper carefully.  Thick paper results in a thick fold at the seam allowance where pieced sections are joined.  That thickness eats up a little bit of size. Again, a little bit of loss adds up over several sections.

3.  Alternatively, if you don’t have thinner paper, consider removing the paper from the seam allowance before you sew pieced sections together, to remove the thickness that way.  Just remember to sew with a 1/4” seam allowance, and to handle the sections carefully to avoid stretching anything out of shape.

4. I am sure you all do this anyway, but I’ll repeat it just in case. Check that the templates printed out at the correct size.  To test the size, measure the test block that prints out on each template page.  It should measure 1 “ square.  If it doesn’t, you’ll need to adjust the scaling, either by setting scaling on your printer, or by enlarging or shrinking the page on a photocopier.  I’ve been told that printing from an iPad results in losing 1/8.  To correct that you would need to print at 114%. (I think that’s right.  Be sure to check your results before heading off to the sewing machine!)

If anyone else has any tips to add, please share in the comments below!

Now, on to Snowflake 4. The block at the top of this post is this week’s snowflake. It's available here.  I suggest 4 different versions of this one.

Snowflake 4 v1Snowflake 4 v2Snowflake 4 v3Snowflake 4 v4

Finally, here’s my snowflake sewing for the week.

snowflake runner top

I had a request earlier in the Facebook group for fabric requirements and directions for this runner.  Leave me a comment and share a snowflake (in the linky below if you have a blog or in the FB group)  if you would like me to share this.  If there is enough interest and participation, I’ll take the time to write up the pattern.

Link up!