Monday, September 20, 2010

Playing with blues

Here's what I was playing with the last couple of days.

It's 16"x20".  The resident dolls Susie, Curly and Elizabeth will be sharing it once it is quilted, though there is a rumour that the vast collection of stuffed animals may challenge them for it.

I'm happy to report that this didn't make a huge dent in my new blue stash.  All it took was a 1.5"x10" piece of each blue and one fat quarter of the white, so I have plenty left to make a throw size version, with more and bigger stars now that I'm satisfied that the pattern looks like I thought it would.

I started thinking about this one shortly after I made this little Kansas Dugout. The more I looked at it the more I could see stars where the rings meet, and I thought that careful colour placement would make an interesting star quilt.

I never did finish the Dugout quilt.  I was going to make it into a doll quilt and practice free motion on it.  Unfortunately, because it was a practice piece I sandwiched it with some really cheap fusible batting I had left over from a craft project, and it really messed up the quilting.  Apparently it was the cause for my skipped stitches and broken threads and birds' nests on the back. It took 3 visits to the quilt store and leaving the machine for service before anyone came up with that idea, and then that person was me...We'll see how this little blue one quilts up with good batting and see if that was indeed the issue!  Plain practice sandwiches with good batting and no seams are quilting up OK now.

Now I'm heading back to the hearts quilt: 27 blocks quilted, only 21 more to go.  I'm past the halfway mark!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New playroom

This was the scene downstairs in my house about 5 years ago.  Playroom all the way.  In the intervening years the playroom slowly morphed into a family room with futon, bean bag chairs and TV.  This month it underwent a huge face lift...back to a playroom again.

MINE!  The family room stuff has been relocated to the north end of the L-shaped room, and I've expanded my playroom into the bright sunny half.  After all, who needs all that bright sunlight to watch TV?  And there are plenty of couch and chair options upstairs if anyone wants to read by daylight.

To celebrate, I've been playing with this in my playroom.

You may notice my blue stash has been replenished :)

I just couldn't hold to my resolve to not start anything new until my daughter's quilt is quilted.  I hadn't pieced anything in two months and I was going into serious withdrawal.  However I did make sure that the new project was something for the patient daughter.  She's thrilled with it, so I don't feel too guilty.  It's a small project and the top should be done soon.  I'll post pictures then.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hearts quilt quilting

I'm much less grumpy today, I promise.  I went in to the shop about my machine, and their machine guru will sit down with me next week to see just what the problem is that is causing skipped stitches and broken thread or poor tension when I freemotion.  They kept it for service when I brought it in in August and gave it back having found no issues, so now we'll have to see if it misbehaves when the techs are watching...  If it's something I am doing wrong, that's fine too, as long as someone can tell me so so I can start doing it right!

In the meantime I'm concentrating on my daughter's quilt.  She has been very patient waiting for it while I got sidetracked with various other projects, so I have promised myself not to start anything new until hers is finished.

The top photo shows the colours better, but the rest show the quilting better.  I guess I need to get up earlier to catch that early morning light before the morning running around starts,  getting breakfasts and lunches ready and getting everyone out the door on time!  Hmm.  I think for now I'll just settle for late night poor lighting.  Sorry!

I've quilted in the ditch around the heart shape and around the polka dot background.  I really tried not to stitch in the ditch, because it is my least favourite thing to quilt. I really have trouble getting into a rythm and keeping my stitches even when I'm in the ditch.  Maybe it's because the extra layers on one side of the ditch make the fabric stiffer there.  At any rate, I tried outline quilting 1/4 inch from the seams instead, but it just didn't look quite right, so after about 6 blocks I unpicked all the outline quilting, gave in to the ditch and am much happier with the result. 

By the way, can anyone tell me how quilters count hand quilting stitches?  Do you count just the stitches on top, or do the stitches on the bottom count as separate as well? I read a blog recently where the blogger was told by "experienced" hand quilters that "good" quilting has at least 9 stitches to the inch. I think even stitches are more important than tiny and your batting and fabric will affect the size of your stitches anyway so one size does not fit all.  I seriously doubt that any family or friends I quilt for are going to whip out a ruler and check my stitch size, but I'm curious anyway.  How do you count?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting the grumpies out

I just spent a frustrating afternoon and evening almost swearing at my sewing machine.  If the kids hadn't been right there I might not have been able to say "almost".  As it is both of them gave me a wide berth and headed for bedtime routines without being asked...  So, I'm going to post about things happy and completely different to get myself back into a better mood.  Maybe if that works I can ask you all for advice without launching into a long rant!

First Happy Thought:  thank you to Thelma at Cupcakes'n Daisies.  I won this lovely layer cake and honeybun in one of her blog anniversary giveaways.  The layer cake is Northwood Botanicals by Holly Taylor and the honeybun is Crazy 8 by Sandy Gervais.  I usually don't buy a lot of fabrics in any one collection, so making something up with these will be a fun change of pace.  I'm not sure what, though I'm thinking "Christmas".

Second Happy Thought:  thanks to Ann at A Good Yarn for a win on her blog earlier this year. I'm sorry I not only neglected to blog about them, I also neglected to take a picture before undoing the lovely packaging around this fabric, and before consuming all the lovely chocolate, and before my son absconded with the pincushion (he's quite handy with a needle).  Those blues are the start of rebuilding my blue stash.  The others will find a good home too when the time and inspiration is right.

Third Happy Thought:  Mom sent me some lovely goodies as a thank you for looking after her sweet pooch last winter.  She really didn't need to do that.  Apart from the fish food incident he was really great to have around.  That said, I'm not turning up my nose at these half-yard cuts.  They're all from the "Greetings from Canada" Thimbleberries collection. The fabric on the right is all postcards of famous Canadian landmarks.  Ideas for a quilt are simmering.  So far I'm thinking of pine trees, maple leaves, flying geese, delectable mountains...I can add a few more fabrics to work in lighthouses and beavers.  Does anyone know of a good beaver block?

Happy Thought Four:  21 of the 48 blocks on my daughter's quilt are quilted. That's almost half, and I'm holding on to that encouraging thought! My goal is to have it done by the end of October.  Of course that goal requires spending an hour or two hand quilting every evening instead of sitting at the computer...maybe I can learn to squeeze both in :)

I'll post more pictures of the quilting next time.  It's about the only thing quilt related I've accomplished in the last several weeks - except for the little project that had me so frustrated earlier.  Now that I'm all calmed down and getting drowsy I'll just forget about it for tonight.  I'll be picking your brains another time though!