Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Vintage Sparkle almost off the UFO list

June 2013. That's the first time I mentioned any part of Vintage Sparkle and it was just a single block then, with thoughts of maybe making more for a throw.

Vintage Sparkle quilt top uses Jelly Bean Stars block and sashing, set on point

By February 2014 I had a queen size top and I was dithering about border options.  Borders didn't actually get sewn on until December 2014.  I made these too:

I forget how many prairie points there are in those rows, but I know they never made it onto the quilt. The quilt top and the prairie points have both been in a bin as a UFO for over three years.

This month I finally faced facts.  This quilt is not getting hand quilted anytime soon as I am much too slow and not even halfway through my current hand quilting project..  This quilt is too large for me to quilt on my home machine with the setup I have.  This quilt is making me feel bad every time I see it unfinished.  When I took it out of its bin to look at it again I didn't think I even liked it anymore.

My husband assured me it still deserved to be quilted so I sent it out to Liz Meimann of A Quilted Memory in Nevada, IA.  She and her daughter worked their magic and guess what?  You guessed it.  I do love it again!

I don't have a full photo of it yet.  A queen size is a little tricky on that front, and I'd rather wrestle with that just once, after it is completely finished.  Still, you can see all the pretty feathers and curlicues in the two photos above.  I will have to make time to put the prairie points on and finish the edge soon, then I'll have a full reveal.  I love that I am excited about this one again after all this time!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Butterflies at a standstill

Borders are on the butterfly quilt!

I hadn't planned on that little skinny yellow border, but the two greens side by side were very bland, probably because though they are different greens they are the same print. Splitting them up with that little sliver seemed to do the trick.  The yellow also pulls out the yellow cornerstones from the center, so that's another win for the yellow.

Once this is quilted I plan to scallop the borders as you see in the EQ picture below.

It may be a while though.  I'm running up against my FMQ limitations.  I have an idea of what I want but I currently don't have the skill to execute it.  I want to do custom quilting on the butterflies and borders rather than quilt an all-over design.  I think I can manage that part.  Quilting the background is the sticky bit.  I think this quilt has a very traditional feel and I want to carry that to the quilting as well.  A lot of my "go to" walking foot designs seem better suited to more modern designs so I think I need to step up my FMQ game to manage graceful vines or feathers.

There are other projects to keep me busy, and possibly help me improve my FMQ, while this one sits a little bit longer.  I have a list.  I could move a project along or I could start something new. What shall I choose? I remember a time when I would have said unequivocally that I needed to finish everything before starting something new, but I have evolved since then :)!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Thanks for sharing!

Every now and then I wonder why I keep writing patterns.  I'm sure my very supportive husband has also wondered when I treat him to rants about a design I really like not finding traction out in the wide world, or about being so tired of that pattern I've been working on forever (love the quilt, but the pattern isn't flowing as it should yet) or about that last magazine rejection.

Then, to balance things out, every now and then I also get lovely messages from quilters who have made quilts with my patterns and kindly share pictures of their creations.  They truly lift my spirits and encourage me to keep working.

Anita in Ottawa shared her beautiful version of my Spring Blooms quilt (I shared the block tutorial here).  I love seeing alternate versions of my designs.  Anita chose very different fabrics and chose a straight setting instead of an on-point setting. Same blocks, very different quilt! I'm very late sharing this picture.  Anita sent me this last spring and I saved it in the wrong folder and couldn't find it again.  I'm so glad I finally stumbled into the correct folder!

Anita's Spring Blooms

Mary M. made Geese Across the Table placemats.  I love her color choices.  She chose to make them less scrappy than mine and I think that worked out very well.
Mary's Geese Across the Table

Mary also made a version of Tic Tac Who? for her grandchild, choosing to make the puppy a Labradoodle like the family dog.  Works for me!

Mary's Tic Tac Who?

Here is Sue Zimmerman's Snow Dreams tree skirt, which she finished in time for Christmas.  It was her first ever paper pieced project! Nothing like jumping in with both feet, but she did a fabulous job. Nancy Troyer quilted it for her.

Sue Zimmerman's Snow Dreams

And Marilyn F. shared her Canada 150 quilt.  Check out the fun pieced back as well, with a pieced label about her participation in both Canada's 100th and 150th anniversary celebrations.

Marilyn's Canada 150 quilt

Thank you for sharing and for the encouragement, ladies! I'm off to work on a new pattern!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hand quiting progress

I'm doing well so far with my goal to make time for what I love this year.  I enjoy the quiet rhythm of hand quilting in the evenings, but in the last year I have let that pleasure slide to the bottom of my "to do" list.  Not anymore!  I am making a conscious effort to stop whatever I'm doing about an hour before bedtime and sit with my quilting.

Quilting Chic Country

This quilt top was finished last February. I finally decided how to quilt it in early spring, discovered my arms were not long enough to quilt with at the distance my eyes could focus,  finally gave in and got progressive lenses for my glasses and promptly decided it was too hot to sit with a quilt in my lap during the summer.  I don't know what my excuse was for neglecting this quilt in the fall, but I finally started working on it again and I can finally see the larger design starting to emerge.

Starting to see the larger picture in the quilting

I really am enjoying my evening quilting sessions.  It surprises me (though perhaps it shouldn't) how tuning out everything else for a little bit of quiet time before bed is helping me fall asleep more easily.

Just in case I start getting discouraged at the pace of my progress, I have printed out a line drawing of the quilt and am colouring it as the quilt gets quilted.  That was motivating and encouraging when I quilted Whimsy and my son's kaleidoscope (still unnamed!) quilt. Here's the progress so far.  If I commit to an average of quilting half a block each day, I can have this done before summer.  Let's see how I do! I missed one day already in favour of family time, but that's certainly a valid excuse, well in line with good mental health goals!

Linking up with
Sunday Slow Stitching at Kathy's quilts

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Priorities in 2018

Here we are almost halfway through January already.  I have been seeing blogs and instagram posts filled with quilting goals and resolutions for the new year.  Lists and lists of wonderful quilty goals.  I have been struggling with my own plans.  I have lists.  Oh my!  Do I have lists!  I ended up feeling rather overwhelmed.

There's the problem.  Quilting was my sanity saver when the kids drove me nuts when they were younger.  It was my happy place where I wasn't overwhelmed, where I could recharge my batteries.  In my world, quilting is not supposed to be overwhelming!

Hoarfrost by Canuck Quilter Designs

I pulled out my winter quilts this week.  Look at Hoarfrost with the pretty snowflakes.  The pretty snowflakes reminded me of the movie Frozen, whose soundtrack played pretty much constantly in the background while I stitched this.  Thinking of that of course led to that ear worm replaying through my head.  That's it! My direction for 2018...

Let It Go!

I'm letting go of the stress.  I still have lists: patterns I want to write or revise, new ideas to pitch to magazines, tutorials I'd love to share (but I have to write them first), marketing chores and ideas, lectures and workshop ideas to develop, quilts to make...  See,  that list of lists is getting to me just typing it out!

I'm taking a deep breath and letting go. I'll tackle the top item on each list and work on it and let the rest of the items go until it's their turn. Fretting about what I'm not getting done isn't getting anything done sooner, so I'm going to focus on one at a time, for the time it takes to get it done.  

Letting go of the stress is also going to require carving out some quilting time away from the business side of quilting.  I'm not shuttering my business or quitting pattern designing, because I really do enjoy those too.  However, I don't need to be working on a pattern whenever I'm not working at the quilt shop.  I shouldn't be sitting in front of the computer every single evening.  Also, some sewing can and should be "just because" with no deadlines or demands attached.   I need to get back quilting being my happy place. And that will make me happier and saner overall, and better able to cope with the rest. I think my family will approve.

Here's the plan for today's playtime

I'm starting right now.  I have an unexpected snow day off today and my first thought was to work on the Starfall pattern that is half written.  However, New Me realizes that time was set aside for that already in my original plans.  This unexpected day is a freebie day, and I am going to work on my RSC butterfly quilt "just because" it is going to make me smile.  And then I'll spend a little extra time in the kitchen making something warm and yummy (don't know what yet).  And I am going to spend time with my daughter, who also has an unexpected snow day in the midst of her high school exams.  And maybe I'll go clean the bathroom because it really does need a bit of attention, but honestly that item is pretty far down today's list!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 in my sewing room

It's that time again when I look back at the previous year's quilting to see what I finished and what I didn't, and decide where to focus my attention in the new year. This year I decided to do a review in pictures. 

Clockwise from top left:  1. Rosie with her quilt   2. "150" for Canada's birthday   3. Birdwatching   4. Playful Samoyed      5. Starfall (pattern coming soon)  6. Magnitudes (pattern coming soon)  7. Wandering Geese in Moda Grunge  8. Sparkling Thirties (from my Sparkling Trail pattern)

Clockwise from top left:  1. Chic Country variation currently being slowly hand quilted   2. Starlight Wishes remake - pattern rewrite with extra sizes coming soon   3. Starfall in Tula Pink (pattern coming soon)  4. Cyclone Baby (from Magnitudes pattern, coming soon)

Clockwise from top left:  1. Sparkling Thirties  2. Magnitudes  3. Birdwatching  4. Starfall in Tula Pink  5.Playful Samoyed  6. Starfall in batiks

Both available in my Etsy shop

The tutorial for the block I used for the Rainbow Scrap challenge is here.  In November I sewed the blocks together but I haven't gotten to the borders yet.  That's a task for 2018!

There were assorted small projects too, most of which I didn't photograph: a Runaround Bag, a Zippy Strippy bag, two Christmas stockings, three Circle Zip earbud pouches, a knit scarf and a pair of knit socks (both about 2 years in the making - I'm a slow knitter with too much quilting to do!) and a few other little things.

I hope you enjoyed the review.  Now let's see if it helps me figure out what to work on next.

I wish all of you a peaceful, joyful 2018 with lots of quilty inspiration and no seam ripping!