Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Looking for a Potluck

A while back I bought an issue of Simple Quits and Sewing  specifically for the instructions to this project.  I’ve been to a few potluck dinners since, but only today got around to making this casserole carrier.  Of course now there isn’t a potluck anywhere on my calendar!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Finally a few finishes

They aren’t big finishes, but they are UFO’s from the summer so I’m feeling like I accomplished something.
IMG_5298Here’s a runner made with leftover units (plus a few extra) from the table runner and placemats I made for Mom.  I have now officially used up all these fabrics.
I practiced a bit of freemotion quilting in the white areas, stitching along a tear-away paper template.  Oddly enough, the earliest bits had the tidiest design.  As I kept quilting the stitch length became more regular (yay!) but the design got more wobbly…go figure.  The rest of the runner has straight line quilting because all the FMQ designs I tried looked messy against those bold prints.  I decided that just because I can FMQ a bit, it doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for every piece.
IMG_5283A second set of placemats and runners, which I actually started first, stalled out in June but is now almost done I just have to finish stitching the binding to the back of 3 of the placemats.  The runners – one wide and one skinny – are finished. I couldn’t get a good photo of the whole length, but you get the idea.
The feathers are hooked feathers with no backtracking.  This was my first effort and not at all as regular as I wanted, but overall I like the texture it gives the runner.  I hesitated before trying these feathers on an actual piece instead of a practice sandwich, but I can only do so many practice sandwiches before I get bored.  I had to start “for real” sometime!
IMG_5311Again, I freemotioned the white bits and stitched straight lines elsewhere.  Of course I only came to that decision after I had covered one placemat in an all-over pattern and stepped back.  I solicited other opinions, let it sit for a few days to see if it would improve with age, then used up a couple of hours of my life unpicking all those stitches.  The triple diagonal lines in a single direction look much tidier. 

Next up, tackling Whimsy’s wavy borders.  I will finish that quilt yet!  Somewhere along the way I’ll also finish hand quilting the leaf quilt you see in my banner.  I thought I’d have that done by the end of October, or November at the latest.  Hmm, yes, well, that would have required me to consistently quilt one leaf block most evenings, and I have not been even close to consistent.  Ah well, this quilt is for me, with no deadlines, so it will get done when it gets done.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Battles with borders

I've been running into problems with borders the last few quilts.  You might remember that I was working on Whimsy's pieced borders when I decided I needed to go piece a gazillion flying geese instead.  Mostly that was because Whimsy's borders were waving at me when I attached them and I didn't feel up to dealing with them just then.

I happily went off to piece the flying geese and was astonished and delighted at how quickly the center of the geese quilt  came together.

Nevertheless, I'm sure you have noticed that I haven't posted any progress on this unnamed quilt.  That would be because I'm not sure what to do with it next.  I made a trip to the quilt shop specifically to choose border fabrics and actually came home with two selections.  At the quilt shop I and all the staff were sure they were perfect choices, but when I got home and spread out the fabric and laid the quilt on it to mimic borders...nope.  Not quite right.  It's in a UFO box until I figure something out.  Perhaps when I get set up to download pictures again (that's a whole other sigh-inducing story!) I can post pictures and you can all send me suggestions.

When I hit that roadblock, I didn't pull Whimsy back out. (Sorry Pat!  I'll get it out again at some point, I promise!)  Instead I finally cut into my Greetings from Canada fabric to make a "Canada Quilt".  It came out more or less as I had designed it on graph paper, with a few adjustments.

However, the lovely dark blue fabric with maple leaves and provincial flowers that I had planned to use as a border, while still absolutely lovely, just doesn't work as a border. It worked beautifully as a filler in the body of the quilt, and will make a lovely backing, but it will not be a border.  So now what?  I don't have nearly enough of the greens and reds to piece into borders either.  I fear this one is heading to the UFO bin as well for the time being.

I have a few placemats and runners to finish, so I'll work on those and hope I come out of those projects inspired to push ahead with these three!

How well do you get along with borders?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

 IMG_5266 Take a guess which one the young man in the family carved! We were very proud of ourselves for getting these carved last night rather than this afternoon after school in a mad rush before trick-or-treating began!
Last night I also obsessed about the new quilt in progress.  I started cutting and sewing, and changing the plan as I went along and the next thing I knew it was way, way past my bedtime.  I made progress though.  With another few hours of work today, this is where it stands:
IMG_5268_r1I’ve been having trouble sorting out exactly how I want to piece the body of the lighthouse, and I have to rework my plan for other pieces of the lower half to balance out sizes and colours a bit with the upper half. I’m also peeved that my log cabin blocks are just a smidge smaller than they should be so I’ll have to redo a few seams to make the border fit around the center as the graph paper claims it should.  That said, I’m pleased with this overall so far.
Tomorrow’s task will be to stay clear of the quilting corner and clear the desk of office chores.  It will be tough though.  The desk sits on the opposite wall from the sewing machine…

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cutting fabric

I am finally cutting into this little stack of fabric.
These are mostly “Greetings from Canada” by Thimbleberries. (The light blue one second from the left is from my stash.) Mom sent these to me a year ago and I don’t think she quite believed me this summer when I assured her I had a plan for it that just needed to simmer a bit longer.
Here’s the plan:
OK, it doesn’t look like much in the picture :).  Maybe if you click on it to enlarge it you might be able to make out some of it.  I’ve drawn it out a few times to tweak this or that and I’m still not sure it will work the way I want it to.  You’ll just have to be patient right along with me until I get these pieced:IMG_5231

This just goes to show why I’d like to win a copy of the EQ7 software in The Pickledish Patch’s givewaway  It would be so much quicker and easier to design a quilt and I’d get a sneak peek before I actually sew it up!

The giveaway closes on October 27 so you still have time to go over and diminish my chances by entering too (I’ll understand and won’t take it personally, really!)
button w

Friday, October 14, 2011

Seam ripping again, and again, and…

You should know it’s time to step away from the sewing room when you spend more time becoming better acquainted with the seam ripper than the sewing machine.

Today I unpicked the free motion quilting I started on Wooffles’ quilt last night. It was worth it and I then spent a comfortable while practicing free motion on this little quilt.  It turned into a little sampler of different filler patterns.

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By the time I was done, I decided I might as well put the binding on too.  I decided to use TLC Stitches’ faux piped binding and I happily cut yellow strips for the “piping” and pulled out leftover purple strips for the binding.

Mistake #1: I cut the piping strip 1/4 inch too narrow and didn’t have any more of the yellow.   That’s OK, I just trimmed the purple narrower too and hoped for the best.

Mistake #2: I sewed a right side to a wrong side as I joined the binding strips.  Seam ripper!

Mistake #3: I sewed a beautifully straight 74” seam joining the long edges of the binding and the piping.  It just happened to be a 3/8” seam.  Another time I might have just left it but I remembered my binding strip was already 1/4” narrower than it should be and I didn’t think I could fudge with another 1/4 inch gone.  Seam ripper, it’s nice to see you again!

Mistake #4: I reset the seam allowance to a lovely perfect 1/4 inch, and promptly sewed the right face of the binding to the wrong face of the piping strip.  At least I noticed at only 30 inches into the seam this time.  Still, I had another visit with the seam ripper.

At this point a sane person would have stepped away from the sewing room, but my stubborn streak asserted itself.  Happily, it exuded a stronger aura than the seam ripper, which was not needed (much) again.


Here’s the final product.  It’s a little more “modern” than my usual work.  I don’t think any of those quilting motifs would work terribly well on my more traditional tops but it was a fun exercise.  Wooffles and his owner are perfectly happy with it, too, so it was worthwhile!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Now for something completely different

IMG_5219 Well, different for me, anyway. As my hand, full of tiny fabric scraps, hovered over the waste basket I thought “Why not sew them all together willy-nilly and see what happens?”  So I did.
I didn’t plan, measure, or square anything up as I went.  I didn’t even use my iron!  This was really out of character for me but it came out kind of cute so of course I pushed on a little further.
Voila!  Wooffles’ new play quilt (well, the top at least – it still needs quilting).  You see him in the picture on the right for scale.
That row of vertical stripes was supposed to be much less regular than it ended up.  Considering all the effort I have to put in to avoid wonky crooked blocks, you’d think that going wonky would require less work.  Not so.  Getting a crooked result on purpose was actually quite challenging!  It didn’t even get as crooked as I wanted.
The bottom section was inspired by CW quilts’ Jelly roll 1600 quilts.  I just sewed all my leftover bits of 1 1/2” bright strips together end to end, folded the resulting strip in half tip to tip and sewed along the long edge.  I cut the fold and opened up a new wider but shorter strip, which I then folded and sewed and cut again.  This was really the only way for me to sew all these bits together randomly, because otherwise I would have thought through every placement and it really wouldn’t have been random at all.  Am I making any sense?
Also, I want to point out that the little purple triangle in the white border was – ahem – totally intentional.  It had nothing whatsoever to do with sewing on a border strip a little bit over from where it needed to be and needing to fill the gap.  At no time was I – ahem- tempted to pull out a seam ripper to reposition said strip.  It is supposed to be totally improvisational after all!
This was a fun little side trip for me, but I’m going to head back into my comfort zone of carefully planned quilts for a little bit.  Here’s where the flying geese quilt stands, waiting for one last seam and then some sort of borders. (No prizes for guessing where the scraps for Wooffles’ quilt came from!)
I had thought of doing pieced borders with all the various colours, but now I think that would be overpowering.  Maybe two adjacent blue sides and two adjacent purples?  Or maybe not. Perhaps I need to bring the top in to the quilt shop and see if any appropriate fabric finds me.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stitching again

I’ve finally sat down at the sewing machine again after what feels like forever and it feels wonderful! 
IMG_5036First up were a few flying geese. Last spring and early summer I made this table set for mom.  As I worked on it I realized my flying geese were not consistent enough for me to enjoy making this quilt I planned out.  I really want to make this so I’ve been trying out different methods to see which gives me the most consistent units. 
Thank you Love for the tip about Eleanor Burns’ flying geese ruler and technique.  I always hesitate to buy specialty rulers, but I went out and got this one this week and I did in fact sew and trim nice, consistent units with the points right where they should be.  There is a bit of fabric waste, but I think that tradeoff will be worth it.
With that settled, I’m clearing the decks, so to speak, to clear the way for total obsession with the flying geese quilt.  I have a few projects that stalled at my less favourite stages of quilt making.  I decided to move them past the hump before I start the new project.
IMG_4125_r1I finally basted and started hand quilting my leaf quilt. The top has only been waiting a year for its turn!   The basting and deciding how to quilt it were where this one stalled. I have decided to quilt overlapping sets of concentric circles all over.  I’ll have a picture once there is enough there for you to see what I mean.  So far I have 8 of the 42 blocks quilted.

Next I cut fabric for the borders on Whimsy.  That top was slow coming together and it is time for it to be finished.  Yesterday and today I started sewing triangle squares for the pieced borders.  I’ll need 100. 
Some of the ones I’ve finished are sewn together into strips.IMG_5199_r1I hadn’t planned to add another border after the saw tooth one, but now that I have this up on the design wall I think the saw teeth look puny and busy by themselves at the edge of the quilt.  I think I’ll add that outer border to tame things a bit. I think I accidentally bought more of that green border fabric than I needed for just the inner border, so that should work out well in the end.
Next week I have lots of painting to do – we’ll see how much quilting I manage to squeeze into the evenings.   Did I mention that after the flying geese quilt, I have another quilt plan drawn up and waiting?  So many quilts, so little time…

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wrapping up summer

From a weather perspective there is still plenty of summer left to come, but the kids are heading back to school on Thursday so we’re exchanging summer’s non-routine for regular routine. 
It has been a lovely, mostly lazy summer for us.  The last two weeks in July we headed back to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to visit family.  It was lovely to spend time with my parents, then with my in-laws.  The kids got a good grandparent fix, and I hope the grandparents enjoyed the grandkid fix as well.
The weather was lovely the whole time.  It has been so beastly hot and humid here at home all summer that the temperatures in the mid 20’s Celsius were a treat for us.  The scenery in Pubnico wasn’t hard to take either:
IMG_5108 IMG_5102 IMG_5079_r1
And Smuggler’s Cove:
IMG_5136_r1 IMG_5132
I didn’t take many pictures in New Brunswick but my son took this lovely one of the sawmill at King’s Landing Historic Village.
We wilted in the heat and humidity as soon as we stepped off the plane here, but happily my garden hadn’t.  The girl we hired to water the flower beds did a great job, because we hear that it was hot and dry the whole two weeks we were away but my garden looked very happy.  A little weedy too, but we hadn’t asked her to weed, just keep things alive! I spent several days tidying things up – and not doing as good a watering job!
Remember these flowerbeds?
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June 29th on the left, August 3rd on the right!  That sunflower is a happy accident, sprouted from a seed from the bird feeder.  The vine on the far end has grown even more in the two weeks since and now covers most of that end of the frame.  Now that we’ve beaten back the Japanese beetles (with nasty chemicals, sorry!) it might actually become covered in pretty yellow flowers again.
IMG_4853 IMG_5170_r1
Mid-June on the left, August 2nd on the right!  You have to love those sweet potato vines!  They do fill in very nicely  The coreopsis are now in full bright yellow bloom too, which doesn’t show well in this picture, but looks gorgeous beside the purple sweet potato.  Finally we are getting pretty blooms on the hibiscus at the back now that we’ve sprayed the beetles.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, let me introduce you to the Japanese beetle:
Pretty little thing isn’t it? At some angles it even has a pretty green iridescence. It’s less pretty when it is one among a half dozen all clustered on one leaf or flower bud, munching away, with more on all the other flower buds.  These little pretties reduced the leaves on 20 feet of grapevine to mere veins last summer.  This summer they’ve been deprived of the grapevine (it died of old age) but I’ve actually been flicking them off my marigolds.  Yes, marigolds!  Those are the flowers you’re supposed to plant to deter pests because nothing likes them!
Ah well, life goes on.  Just because I’ve done no quilting at all the last six weeks, I’ll subject you to a few more garden pictures before closing.  There should be quilty progress in a few weeks, I hope!
IMG_4925_r1  IMG_5174_r1  IMG_5182_r1 IMG_5171_r1 IMG_5179_r1

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Plan

Weaving geese compressed
I’ve been playing with graph paper and coloured pencils and think my quilter’s block may have finally cleared.  I have a plan for the bright fabrics I posted about a few weeks ago!
Well, a partial plan anyway.  If my calculations are correct, I have plenty of fabric to make the 128 flying geese for this 46”x60” quilt center.  99 of them will be 2”x4” finished, and 29 will be 3”x6” finished.
I have no idea what the plan is for borders, though I’m pretty sure the quilt will need some.  Then again, maybe a scrappy binding will do the trick.  I’ll wait and see how the center comes together to decide.
Getting this one started will be my reward for quilting the placemats and runners I started the last couple of months.  I think I should also cut fabric for the pieced borders of Whimsy first.  Is there any chance my mind will stay made up about these brights in the meantime? :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011


There was no quilting yesterday.  The morning was spent picking these lovelies:
IMG_4898 It’s hard to stop picking once you start and we ended up with a couple of almost full flats. 
IMG_4894 Of course the first way to sample them is to just eat them as is.  These are much smaller than the supermarket variety of strawberries, but they pack so much more flavour that they don’t need any cream or sugar to help them.  However, there were way too many to eat them all before they went bad.  As it was, they were softening just sitting on the kitchen counter. 
What to do?  Make jam!
IMG_4899 IMG_4908 IMG_4901 IMG_4907 IMG_4904 IMG_4909 IMG_4910 IMG_4911
By the time I ran out of jars at the end of the fourth batch I was ready to be done.  Another 10 cups of berries went into the freezer.
Breakfast this morning had to feature the jam.  Yum!  Store bought doesn’t come close to this!