Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

This was a good weekend project-wise. Crazy Quilter on a Bike had a weekend retreat. It mostly ran on Sunday, but there were a couple of hours on Saturday that gave me enough time to prep a project that has been sitting on my cutting table for over three months now.

My sewing machine has two extended beds. I can’t remember if I actually shared this officially or not, so we might as well go over it now. Red (my mum’s machine) was sold with an extended bed included, but of course companies find ways of making you spend more to have the same amount. The new sewing machine beds are fairly high tech, though, so I don’t really mind spending the money to get a lot nicer product than the one that comes with Red. The first bed extender was a Husqvarna Extension Table that is designed to fit certain ranges of machines. It adds a nice amount of extra space so you have a place to rest your hands on either side of the needle and to hold up your project. This particular model also has a gentle slope at the front so it doesn’t dig into your arms or palms. I used this exclusively for the first year I had the machine and I’m using it right now with my limited desk space. It is an amazing product and I highly recommend it, but I upgraded to a bigger bed with a version of the Quilter’s Table. It provides a much larger flat surface which is AMAZING for free-motion quilting as it gives the quilt more slip/less drag. I cannot remember the company name of the one I bought, but I got it through my dealer. It came in three sizes I believe? Or four? I got the middle/second largest. It still more than doubled the bed space I had with the Extended Table and the larger size simply wouldn’t fit on my 6-foot sewing table. Up until I moved my office desk into my room, this was the extension bed I had set up all the time.

The question you should be asking is “How do you store the unused table?” Easy! In the box it came in! … until I went to put the Quilter’s Table away. That’s when I discovered that Husband had turfed the admittedly large and awkward Quilter’s Table box. Yaaaaaaay. So my plan was to make a protective case for it. I picked out the fabric, batting, and yes – even a zipper. Then … well, you’ve seen my blog posts over the last few months. Time has not been in free supply. This weekend, though, I was bound and determined to get that fabric off my cutting table and the Quilter’s Table off my pressing table. My iron got WAY too close for comfort a few times!

Saturday night: I had the outer fabric and the batting already basted, so I quilted it in simple, wide-set lines to make up a diamond shape. Instead of having the two sides open with it joined at the bottom like a normal person, I decided the best use of the fabric would be for the seam to run along the bottom and one side and have the fabric wrap around the other side. I was a little worried that would make inserting a zipper more difficult, but you know what? I actually liked the way it turned out better than the normal way. Less zipper bits to stitch over. There were tiny little rosebuds sprinkled in some of the stripes, so I decided to add a pocket to store the table’s feet in of the same colour. I originally intended for the pocket to be closed with a snap or button, but overlapping the panels and stitching around the whole thing seems to be just as effective. Doing it that way instead also let me have a new adventure!

Twin needles!!! These things are super neat on a domestic sewing machine, especially if you’re into making clothes. They simulate the cover stitch look you get with a serger. Red had a very old twin needle that came with it from Mum. I never tried it before as I was quite intimidated and now that I have a serger, I don’t have to fake that look. I decided to give it a try on this pocket, mostly to say I had done it at least once, but also because I was curious about the function. Well, let me tell you … I love the look!!! I’ve done this look a lot when I make bags just to get the double-line look, but stitching two rows side-by-side is never even. I think I may keep this needle on hand for future bag making. Another cool thing about them is that they come in different sizes, so you can have different widths. I may buy a pack to have on hand if this one breaks. It is older than me, after all, and I just levelled up last week.

That is not a pretty liner job …

The only thing that sort of needs attention on this bag is the liner. I cut it several inches too big, figuring I’d re-cut it fit when I went to insert it. Well … I don’t really care anymore. SURPRISE!!!! 😀 Actually, in my squashed state, I don’t really have the room to cut something that big and I’ve been using scissors a lot lately. I’m not super accurate with them either, so I figured it would be better if I left it too big than cut it too small. I just stitched the extra fabric as a fold. Maybe someday I’ll rip it out and make it pretty, but honestly – it’s a functional protective bag, I’m keeping it, and it’s staying zipped shut 99% of its life. I don’t really care that’s is a TARDIS. The added benefit of making it to fit my biggest table is that it has enough fabric to also fit my fatty smaller Extension Table whenever I go back to using the Quilter’s Table full time!

I finished this around 1PM on Sunday, which means I had time to get started on my UFO homework blocks. I got one totally done and the other most of the way done, and you know what? It was not as hard as I was dreading it would be! I may even get all the other blocks made before the February meeting and have another quilt top just about pieced together!! But we’ll talk about that NEXT TIME ON … DRAGONBALL Z!!!

I may have overplayed my millennial geek hand on that last reference.

~M

Binding · Block-of-the-Month · Finished Projects

How Not To Bind a Quilt

I got the binding on the quilt and all the ends stitched in the night before the deadline. I am very happy with the result! I used the blue rows that I removed from the quilt mixed with a blue solid. Ohhhhh boy … that was not fun. You’ve heard of measure twice, cut once? I am hear to tell you to check twice to make sure all your mitred binding seams are pointing the same way. I was coming up on the end of the quilt and suddenly realized that the seam I just stitched on was facing OUT. If I was doing this the longish way, it wouldn’t be an issue, but since I was using the binding attachment tool, it was an ordeal. I had to feed an extra 12 inches through the tool, take the tool off, then juggle it on my lap while I cut out the seam and figured out how to stitch it on so the seam would face in. The air in my sewing room may have been a little blue, but I finally figured it out and got everything attached.

I think it looks cute! All this quilt needs is a wash and a label and it is out the door! That won’t be for some time, but I let the new mother something would be heading her way in about a month. I want to tuck a colouring book in the package for the older brother anyways and I’ll need to get out and find something. Which reminds me … where did I tuck that baby card … :S

On to my next project! We had our first Tula Pink City Sampler class last week! We were getting all inspired by the lesson. I’m glad I didn’t commit to anything before the first class. I already knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to set it. Since it’s a bunch of 6” blocks, I’m going to use a floating block setting for the blocks when they’re finished.

Floating blocks setting

I saved all my sewing for Sunday. I’ve come to realize that I can’t realistically quilt during the week with my current office set up. That’s okay – we will change that with a little time. That is one of the reasons I wanted to do this sampler – the blocks are very simple and I’m able to easily hammer them out in a weekend. Turns out, I can hammer them out in one day if I really lean into it!

Look at all the pretty colours!

I’m super excited for this project! My first 10 blocks were all made out of my scrap bin from quilts/projects I made with Tula fabric. You should recognize most of the fabric from my past blog posts. Next month, I’ll dig into some of my uncut bundles to make a diversely colourful quilt. If I’m lucky, I’ll even have some Lineworks pieces from my sister’s bag to add to the quilt! Speaking of … I should get back to that soon …

The one block I’m not happy with is the pink-and-green checked block. The idea was to take two of the less prominent colours to show case the cute little mouse blocks. Well … I did definitely use two less prominent colours. The colours are probably less prominent because they are LOUD. Instead of highlighting the block, the pink-and-green checks totally overwhelm the corner blocks and pull focus. It’s a good learning experience and I’m totally not re-doing the block at this stage. The funny thing is that the blue-and-yellow block did the exact opposite, even though they are also loud colours. Maybe because the Tula fabric I used in that one was less subtle? My favourite has to be the dark grey block with the one bright leaf in it. I love how it stands out on the dark fabric. The large amount of dark grey means I’ll need to pick a lighter background when I go to piece them in, but that’s a future problem.

~M

Binding · Finished Projects · Piecing

Pride Goeth

So I guess we should first address that it’s a new year. I feel very Eeyore-ish about it. Happy new year. If it is a happy year. Which I doubt. 😀 No, it’s not that bad, but it doesn’t feel like a new year. It seems like 2020 version 2. Which isn’t terrible, all things considered. It’s just not cause for excitement. What IS exciting is that I got one of the two jobs that I applied for! I’m staring that on the first Monday in January, so I guess the new year is a little exciting after all!

On to quilting!! While I didn’t get everything I wanted to have done for Christmas, I got quite a good deal finished! You’ll have to make do with these pictures – I literally washed and packed everything the day before (typical M!). First off were the girls’ quilts. When last we spoke, the quilts were together and quilted. What’s left? The binding! I tried yet another new stitch for binding – a serpentine line. I did a tighter one on the first quilt and a loser one on the second quilt, just to see how it would work out. I don’t think I’ll do that again. There’s just too much of a gap in the binding in spots. It should work for these quilts. If there’s a problem, I’ll just take my machine up for a visit and fix it. The girls were actually excited to get the quilts, which surprised me. They’re pretty young to be excited about presents that aren’t toys. The oldest one was happy because she had asked her mother to replace her old travel blanking and now she got a replacement. The youngest one though … she ripped through the package, pulled out the quilt, and immediately proceeded to run around with it over her shoulders yelling “Look at my blanket!” While it was a surprising reaction, it’s a memory that I’ll treasure for years to come.

Next up was Mum’s table runner. Here was my first downfall due to pride. When I was making it, I thought I could do one better than the pattern and cut some corners. Um …. NO. I wound up having to Frankenstein a couple of blocks because I ran out of uncut fabric due to my lack of foresight. Then I got the block together … and it looked kind of wrong. I MADE THE BLOCKS TOO BIG. Really???? If I wasn’t down to the wire, I would have put the project in jail. Nice thing about having to cut down the blocks meant that I cut off all the Franken-block parts. Yay!! Then I laid everything out, put it together, and got it quilted up. Because it’s obviously a Christmas/winter topper, I quilted it with little snowflakes a la Pan quilt. The champagne-coloured thread seemed to go with all the colours and looked very sweet. Mum loved it! She was very excited to get her own table runner that was different from my sisters. As soon as she got it home, she put it on the table and sent me pictures. I was giving myself a pat on the back for being so clever and thoughtful. That’s when I noticed Downfall #2 … do you see it??

The pinwheels are spinning different directions!!!! I worked so hard on getting them going the same way, but when I re-did the blocks I must have put the green ones on backwards and now they aren’t going the same way!!! At least both the red ones and both the green ones are spinning the same way – it looks like it was done on purpose. #facepalm

Oh well! New year, right? Clean slate, fresh start. And I did make an effort with my next project (full details coming in my next post). BUT … I decided to change the pattern (because I obviously learned nothing from the Christmas pinwheel debacle) to be more clever and artistic. Next time I say I want to do that, please just throw a banana at me before pride ruins my hard work. Part of changing the pattern was including an extra block. I thought this would be adorable and really bring the row together. Now that I paid for my pride, I think I’m allowed to say that I was right in the long run … right???

I know I mentioned this quilt earlier. It’s a baby quilt for a friend who’s expecting. The colours are a light blue, dark blue, orange, yellow, and green. It’s turning out pretty cute! In one section, I decided to use all the colours to make a middle block. I stitched the d.blue, green, yellow, and orange squares together then added a row of l.blue around the edge. That’s where I should have stopped, but no … I was in the creative zone and I just HAD to make it into a diamond. One thing I’m learning (but have by no means perfected yet) is figuring out where the center of a block is when you need to cut a specific size. In my case, I had to cut off the 4 corners to make a smaller square while changing the angle of the finished block (the picture will make more sense). Instead of a four-piece block, it’s a diamond of the four colours. I swear I measured 4-5 times. Then I walked away, came back, measured again, and then cut up the block … only to discover it was a 1/2 inch TOO SMALL!!!. I almost cried. If it was too big, no problem, but you can’t uncut fabric or hair (I say that as I hide my COVID bangs in the rest of my hair …).

Cut just a LITTLE to short. 😦

I almost quit and went back to the original pattern, but I couldn’t let go of the idea. Since I knew how much I was off by, it was super easy to re-make the block and re-cut it correctly, but it was almost more than I could bear to do. And when I did it again, it was just slightly too small AGAIN (see how all the corners are cut off a little bit?). I could make it work, though – the extra space could come out of the seams without showing anything. And now it looks stunning. But lesson *hopefully* learned. NO MORE PRIDE. Or at least, I have to admit that I did it to myself. 😀

~M

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Piecing · Quilt Designs

The Year Was 2020

Just in case you somehow missed it, 2020 was the year the entire planet was ravaged by the Corona virus, COVID19. Most countries completely shut down, even third-world countries that would normally lump through. No one in, no one out, and lots of people stopped working. To call it a stressful time for most everyone is a bit of an understatement.

It started out not too bad for me. I lucked my way into an opportunity to buy a serger! It’s an older model from the 90s (Husqvarna Husklock 936), but it still goes for 700-800$ online because it does coverstitch. I was fortunate enough to get mine for 200$. Whoo hoo! First thing I did was make a ton of masks and ship them off to the families. I tried to pick some of the brightest fabric I had. If you’re forced to cover up your face, it may as well be happy colours! I of course kept a couple for myself and made some more muted ones for Husband. He’s not what you would call a flamboyant character.

The summer started out pretty well too. I was determined to enjoy the lovely weather as much as I possibly could. Fortunately for us, we don’t live in a big mega city, so it’s easy to get into the great outdoors with minimum effort. It sucked not being able to see people, but that was a problem for most everyone. Mid-summer comes and my husband takes time off to try to finish up some of the bigger parts of the reno’s we’ve been working on. Sometimes when you do remodelling, things wind up bing more in-depth then you originally realize. Prime example was our bathroom. When redoing part of the bathroom, we discovered someone had boarded over a whole closet in the wall. Besides being creepy, it made us re-adjust our plan for the space. Well, the rest of the house is pretty much going the same way, but it’s going about as poorly as you could ever expect a remodel to go. At one point, I had to go visit my parents for a couple weeks so I could work in peace while he hammered away at things that needed to be done as fast as possible. It’s had a surprising impact on our relationship. We are doing better now than we did before, but physically and emotionally, we’re getting run down.

My family was not spared loss during the pandemic. We first lost my auntie in May – the one I made the Winter Garden quilt for. I was so thankful that I could get that to her before the pandemic. If I had waited a couple of weeks, she never would have seen it. It was tough on everyone, especially my grandmother. My aunt was her last living sibling and they had been living together until October 2019. Grandma was expecting her to pass, but it was still so difficult when it happened. Since it was the height of the pandemic, visits were kept to a minimum. One of my dad’s siblings was able to get an exception for a couple of hours to go in, break the news to her, and stay with her, but that was it until the summer. Even when restrictions started to be lifted, her place was one of the last to allow visitors, starting in August. Her birthday was early August. Some family in the area set up a drive-by birthday celebration to help lift her spirits, but Grandma had been having a very tough summer health-wise and I believe that the isolation was starting to impact her very hard. I had scheduled a COVID test followed by a visit for the next week, but she didn’t make it that far. She fell and broke something, landing in the hospital. When she finally got back to her residence, she was only there a few days before she complained about feeling very ill. They sent her back to the hospital around 7 in the evening and we got a call that she had passed unexpectedly around 10:30.

The following week was tough. I was very close to my grandmother. I felt cut off from her due to the pandemic and I felt cheated of saying goodbye. I used the week to quilt out some of the emotion. I decided to make a pattern called “Tree of Life” to hang on my wall in memory. It helped, surprisingly enough. I pulled out a lot of pictures of my grandmother over the years and had them scattered around my sewing room. I took my favourite and printed it on some fabric to attach to the back as a label. I even used the same backing I used on the quilt I made for her. The two weeks I spent with my parents, while stressful, was also therapeutic. We talked a lot about Grandma, had some tears, some laughs, and started remembering the happy things more than the sad reality.

The end of October and start of November, while not bad, is definitely adding to the stress. I got a temporary job placement in August and two additional positions were posted recently. I applied and have two job interviews coming up in November. The outcome will dictate if I get a new role (with a new pay) or go back to my home position for the foreseeable future. I always find this process stressful and I have two happening at the same time, each of which are two-part interviews. 4 days of interviews. yaaaaaaay.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to Christmas. 🙂

~M

Finished Projects · Piecing

The Great M Returns

Well … a lot has happened since February 2020. The whole world has just turned upside down. My 96 year old grandmother commented that she has never, ever seen or heard anything like this in her life time. She lived through the Great Depression, so that’s saying something. For my first blog post, we’re going to focus on positives. I don’t know about you, but I’m done being a depressasorus Rex. 🙂

It may not surprise you to know that not much quilting has gotten done since March. Well, some has, some has not. I think I only touched my sewing machine during the month of August. I had a due date, you see. A very important due date.

No, not me. Sheesh, people.

My little brother and his wife were expecting this year! They announced it in April and the due date was October 2. It is the first baby boy in our family, so we were all very excited. My sisterIL went with buffalo plaid for the baby colours. That seemed like a perfect opportunity to pull out a fabric bundle that I impulse-bought over a year ago …

Oh Canada collection

Isn’t that just perfect?? And I loved the cartoon Canadian things. 🙂 Along with immediately knowing the fabric, I knew what pattern I wanted to use. Something simple and big (for fast quilt making). The winner was Backyard Chicks by Down Grapevine Lane. My original idea was to use the red buffalo plaid as the background, but that didn’t happen for two reasons. 1 – the picture above is way too busy, isn’t it? 2 – evidently, buffalo plaid is REALLY popular this year and no one was getting the fabric re-stocked until the fall. I had to custom order what I had from the States. It was not a cheap order and there wasn’t enough to do the whole quilt. I took the cute little moose fabric into FibreChick and had Kim help me pick out something that would go well. Here is what we came up with:

Barnyard Chicks quilt pattern

I think that looks really good! And it works well with the pattern. One reason I wanted to use big blocks was to really showcase the awesome fabric. I find the pattern gets lost when you use little blocks. That’s okay for some things, but this stuff is too cute to hide!

Outdoor quilting

I did my basting outside on the pop-up table. I thought that was a great way to get some outdoor air while still focusing on the quilt! I also took the opportunity to cut some of my next quilts outside on the table. I have a friend who is due in December. When I start piecing that, I’ll give you a preview!

I did manage to get the quilt done in time for my sisterIL’s baby shower, which made me very happy. I actually got it done a couple of weeks before the shower. Crazy, right?? It turns out to be a good thing – September got very disrupted and someone decided to come early. He’s pretty cute, though, so I think I’ll forgive him. 🙂

New baby!

~M

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Piecing · Quilt Designs · UFO

UFO Month

Did you see that?? We have a new catagory tag! UFO! 😀 After the last post, I deemed February “UnFinished Object” month. I’ve said from the start that I don’t want a big stack of UFO quilts, so I decided to at least get started on my list.

Item 1: The Happy Village.

Sample Happy Village

The very first guild meeting was a demo and workshop by a newly local quilter who has been hosting these classes in a few major Canadian cities. The Happy Village is a tiny scrap-busting project where you make a city (usually your hometown) out of fabric. There is a method to doing it (fabric layers, background features, then houses, then roofs, then embellishments), but it’s mostly freedom of imagination. The quilter’s sample was absolutely darling and several people made lovely villages. In typical M style, a colour bukaki village was promptly constructed, complete with a strawberry sky and a Pizza Hut. My tablemates were no help. As soon as they realized how excited sugar-high M gets when finding weird bits of usual fabric, they were tossing gold-embossed and glow-in-the-dark fabric bits at me. AND I LOVED IT! 😀 I know that my little village doesn’t really look classically beautiful like everyone else’s, but it totally suits me. The white dots in the strawberry sky are actually glow-in-the dark specks, so the sky and the fireflies on the hill light up! It’s perfect. It technically falls into the UFO category because it’s been sitting on my work table for over a month, all pinned in place. I finally took an evening to quilt down the tulling on top, add a binding, and secure a sleeve. A sleeve goes on the back of the quilt with a gap through it to hang on a rod – like curtains on a curtain rod. That’s how most wall-mounted quilts are hung. All I have left is to insert a rod and find a place to proudly hang it in my sewing room. 🙂 UFO#1 = DONE!

M’s Happy Crazy Town

UFO #2 – The De La Luna tote.

We have already glossed over my love for Tula Pink fabric and for the De La Luna fabric in particular. Here’s how much I love it – even though I already have a full meter of the whole fabric line, I simply had to pick up another half-meter curated bundle from Royal Quilts when Alexandra had it on sale last year. After looking at the fabric multiple (MULTIPLE) times, I finally decided to make a bag with it. I cut out the face fabrics with a particular goal in mind for the bag, the piled all the pieces on my spare fabrics pile and moved on to slightly more urgent projects (wedding quilt*COUGH*). It’s been sitting there ever since. Now that February is UFO month, I reached back to this project to complete it. Since plucking it from obscurity, I developed a new vision of the bag. Want to see?

Step 1: Sew the face blocks together to make the front and back of the bag.
I considered mixing up the turquoise and purple face fabrics, but I couldn’t settle on a mixture that I liked, so I made one side turquoise and the other purple. I was initially going to sew the faces together with the narrow sashing between them, but I needed a little more width on the bag, so I sewed back in the section I had cut out from between the faces. It’s sort of dumb when I say it like that, but I think the effect is actually very striking. For one thing, it makes the ghosted eye stand out of the middle panel. If (read: WHEN, since I only used half the Royal Quilt bundle so far) I make a second bag, I will switch the colours on the middle panel so the purple eye is on the turquoise side and the turquoise eye is on the purple side. I didn’t even think about that until I was sewing the last face section together. I have more eye strips set aside, so I did the fabric switch on the last block and it looked AMAZING … but I didn’t want to rip out everything I’d done so far, so I left it as is! 😀

In the span of a week, I got the bag almost completely made. The side panels, while neat, caused a little bit of havoc because I don’t have a pattern for this. I’m making it up as I go, so I jury-rigged the installation. It came out fine and I learned some lessons for the next time. I have the cross-body strap cut out and ready to go – I’m just waiting on some rainbow-coloured hardware I ordered from Emmeline Bags (PERFECT, right???). This bag really should have two handles embedded in the front and back … however, I really don’t like bag handles. They keep slipping off my narrow shoulders, especially in the winter. I’d rather carry the bag cross-body so it doesn’t fall off, so strap it is! There are inner “pocket” sections that I sewed in using a special decorative stitch. Do you see what it is?? A moth!!! Like the death-head moths on the outer bag! I thought that was the coolest!! 😀 Also, when I free-motion stitched the outside, I thought it was neat to stitch around the moths, even in the black parts. Maybe that’s just me … and that’s okay too! Even though the strap isn’t actually sewed on, everything else is absolutely done, so I’m calling UFO #2 = DONE!

UFO #3 – My VERY FIRST project! I bought a half-meter of this flannel when I first started to quilt so I could practice free-motion quilting. I kept the first one because … well, it was my very first quilt, and I did a lot of little different styles, so not suitable for babies. I wanted to re-make the blocks to try a different visual design. This week was quilt camp weekend, so I did it at camp on RED! 😀 I love RED. And she’s so popular with the ladies! Anyways, back to the quilt. I really like the way it turned out! Only problem – it’s slightly too narrow for a baby quilt for guild. I have two options. If Fabricland still has this fabric (HIGHLY unlikely after 2 years), I can buy enough to make a final row. If not, I’m going to use the complimenting brown border fabric to expand it and put something different on the back. I’ll have this done by Tuesday and take it in to guild next Monday, so I’m calling UFO #3 = Done!

UFO #4 – The orange peel quilt.

Yup – I jumped back into the orange peel quilt. It’s been weighing on my conscience. This is supposed to be MY quilt for my side of the bed. I boxed it to work on other people’s quilts, but I don’t want to keep it in a box indefinitely. Plus, I want it on my bed!!! So it’s come out of retirement.

Part of the reason it got shelved was the curved piecing . I know I spoke about this before and I don’t think I was too negative about it at the time … but the truth is that the curved piecing got to me. I was really struggling with it and it shows. That first block looks very rough and the back is a boiling hot mess. :S I’m pretty sure I tore the fabric in the middle point during the 6th or 7th attempt to piece it, so I’ll be FMQing the crap out of it to keep it from coming apart when I assemble it. That is NOT the correct way to fix this problem, but I’m very very short on both the coral and the black fabric, so I have no margin for error. Anyways – problems with curved piecing were scaring me, so it went to UFO jail for a while.

I decided to take it to quilt camp. It’s very possibly the last quilt camp weekend for a bit, so I figured I’d take the orange peel to work on. I work slower at quilt camp with all the socializing I do, but I’m also more relaxed about my work, so I thought that might help. OMG … if you’re a newbie quilter like me, get into a quilting group! If it’s a guild with quilting days, that’s fine, but attending this quilt camp (some places call them “quilt retreats”) where you’re sitting with people who have been quilting for years is invaluable! The lady who was sitting on my right (coincidentally, she’s part of my quilt guild and we’ve been slowly getting better acquainted) saw I was attempting curved piecing and gave me a couple of very simple tips. Frickin’ witchcraft, I’m telling you! The curved piecing is going together like magic! There are no puckers, no flat spots, and it presses down perfectly! Nancy, I absolutely love you!! THANK YOU!!!!

My future quilt!

Now, my pieces aren’t exactly square and the center is HUGE because of all the meeting seams, but that’s mostly due to the crappy template I’m using. I’d get a plastic template to do this again in the future, but for now I just want to get this done. I’ll hide the wiggly edges in the piecing when I put the blocks together. Since I’ll only get 40″x40″ out of the fabric I have, I’m going to take advantage of the fact that Stacey over at Troll Brother’s Quilts is having a sale and found a couple of these coral bundles left over from last year. Picking up one more bundle will get me to 50″x70″. It’ll be slightly smaller than the twin quilt I originally intended for our double-sheet sleeping arrangement, but it’ll be miles better than a lap quilt and I’m short! 🙂 UFO#4 = moving into production status. Good enough! I won’t get it done in a weekend, but I can cut and piece it over the summer when I need a break from the niece quilt. Hopefully, I’ll have a bed quilt by the fall! Yay M!!! 😀

I have BOTM work to get done and a guild demonstration to prep for, but I’m happy with the work I did this month. 🙂 Come on, March! I know you’re hiding spring and I want to see it!

~M

Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

Delivery Time!

The aunt quilt is finished! In a way, I’m glad to see the end of it. The borders caused me no end of trouble. I decided to do a 4-patch in the corners with some of the scraps (which turned out super cute!) with a stripe border. This brought the final size to 42″x40″ (I think … I didn’t even measure the final!). That stripe border … granted, I was having a really bad mental day that day, what with sewing the stripes on backwards THREE TIMES!!!, but I just couldn’t measure the sides properly to save my life. They kept coming out too large. I finally quit in a rage for a couple of days before trying again with great success. 😛

I decided to quilt fake cursive on the green/yellow rectangles and continuous curves on the big pansy blocks. The continuous curves hid in the pansies (which is what I wanted) and the fake cursive showed up boldly on the rectangles. I like the look! I did some ruler work on the border. Man oh man … I have to practice in the future! I had so much trouble on the first stretch of border before I figured it out and finished the rest! In case you’re ever wondering – Husqvarna sewing machines do not like to FMQ with rulers. Thankfully, I prefer not to use rulers unless I’m trying to get something super straight or super symmetrical.

It was my father’s birthday this weekend, so on our way up to visit them, we stopped in on my aunt to drop off the quilt. She loved it! She whipped off the minky blanket she had on her lap and pulled mine on right away. I think it’s going to be well-used. Her room is fairly pastel-y and china-y (as in dishes, not country), so that lap quilt is a real bolt of colour in the room. They are her favourite colours, incidently – I didn’t even know that until just now! I also dropped off my sister’s table runner, but I didn’t get feedback on that yet. The kidlets were SIIIICK, so that branch of the family didn’t show up for the birthday party. I left the table runner with my mother, so my sister will probably get it sometime next week.

I was feeling a bit at a loss, trying to decide on my next project. I know I should pull out the orange peel slices and finish the quilt, but I’m not quite ready to tackle that. There’s still the tiger quilt(s) (remember that?), but it will be a very fast project to finish and I wanted something involved to start. Then, I remembered a promise I made a year ago, so …

DUN DUN DUN. It’s finally time for the niece’s quilt! My initial plan was to make up my own pattern, but I decided to go with a pre-made pattern that came with the fabric line. It’s called the Starburst pattern – coincidentally, one of my favourite candies in high school. I think I have all the fabric I need for it. I checked the fabric requirements and it should use up the whole fat quarter bundle. I need 1/8 of each of the solids and I have 1/4, so there’s lots of that too! This does leave a gaping hole in my Tula Pink collection at Fabrique Estates. Don’t worry about that too much, though … I already have something coming in March to plug it up. 😉

~M

Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Piecing · Quilt Designs · Sewing Room

2020 Kickoff

I am so pumped for the 2020 quilting season! I’ve got some fun projects planned and I can’t wait to start!!! For the first year of the new decade, I’m only committing to projects I actually want to work on. That means signing up for only one BOTM (with FibreChick again) and not forcing myself to complete everything I start … unless there’s a deadline for some reason … speaking of, let’s introduce the first two quilts of 2020! 😀

I started this quilt on New Year’s Eve. My first cousin was expecting her second daughter in January and I decided to make a very brightly coloured quilt centered around an owl panel I picked up last year. I started of with two colour blocks – one warm and one cool, all the colours from the owl blocks. The solid colour blocks are called churn-dash blocks. The churn-dash pattern has many alternate names and is usually made with two colours to emphasize a specific design in the block, but I decided to use five colours. It causes different components to stand out on each block, which makes the pattern look different on each block.

I took a break to do something else with my sewing room. I hung up my design wall! I picked up some 0.5lb 3M Command hooks and stuck 4 of them on the wall. Then I hung my design felt to it and BOOM! Design walll!! The location is temporary. Do you see the plastic-covered item leaning against the wall? That is the glass form for the shower. When it’s installed and the room has been finished, the sewing room door will open against that wall. I intend to move the design wall behind the door. It will be a good use of the space without interfering with the door’s path. Plus, the wall won’t be facing the sunny window in that place. The sun will prematurely age the design wall and potentially fade quilt blocks where it is in the long-term.

Blocks on the wall

This allowed me to put up the blocks once I was finished. The warm blocks look beautiful, but they are too autumn-coloured to got with all the other blocks in the quilt. I cut and sewed four more churn-dash blocks using more jewel tones, but including a couple brighter fabrics to include some yellow and red to round out the owl-blocks.The owl blocks were set on a black fabric, so I decided to use black sashing to space all the blocks. I think the effect is bright, colourful, yet cohesive. The design wall was very helpful for laying out the blocks in the way looks best and to keep the rows organized.

I think the piecing took me three days, including the re-making of the warm blocks. It was immediately on to the quilting! I used scrap batting from my last two quilts and flannel I picked up at one of the guild meetings. Stash busting!!! I used an electric orange thread to do the quilting. I put continuous curves into the squares (this is swiftly turning into a favourite design for me) and a meander with loops around the owls. I also traced the owls, their eyes, and their wings. I ran a looping meander in the sashing between the blocks and around the border. The orange stands out beautifully on the black! I did something a little special with the top and bottom of the quilt. The baby was literally born as I was doing the quilting, so I “wrote” her first and middle name at the top of the quilt and the date at the bottom. It’s the first time I’ve ever done quilt-writing. It’s fairly easy – I just need a little practice!

I got to play with a new tool! Husqvarna came out with a binding tool for putting the binding on quilts. It’s not as perfect as doing it the long way yourself, but it saves me almost two days of pressing in half, then in quarters, then pinning on one side, then pinning on the other side. No folding, no pinning, and I only sew the binding once! It stitches the back and the front of the binding at the same time! It’s been worth every single penny for getting things done FAST. Merry Christmas to me!

Now that the quilt is in a box and on it’s way to the East Coast, I’ve started my next quilt for my great aunt. My grandmother has one sister left alive. She loved Grandma’s quilt, so I decided to make her a lap quilt. She’s recently re-located to a nursing home and I wanted something she could use all day long instead of something that stays on her bed. One of my favourite online quilting stores, Troll Brothers Quilt Designs, organized a de-stash to raise money for a sick individual who is close to her. I picked this beautiful pansy fabric. The pansies are outlined in metallic gold. I thought it would be a beautifully bright for her to look at. I asked Stacie to pick out three fat quarters of complimenting colours and include it in the bundle when she sent it to me. I want to make disappearing nine-patch blocks highlighting the pansies. I can’t wait to share it with you next!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Non-Quilt Projects

Closing the Book on 2019

Have you ever had life get so intensely busy that you lose any drive to work at fun things? That’s sort of what happened to me. Two weddings, two job interviews, family events, and home maintenance adventures, it all drained me in a way I hadn’t expected. I didn’t even get my assigned blocks done a couple of times, although at least one of those was due to an issue with the instructor not having enough blocks to go around.

One of the things that fueled my disconnect with my hobby were the projects that I absolutely had to do. I had my brother-in-law’s quilt to finish the quilting on and I had a block-of-the-month quilt to work on. I’ve been really struggling with the block-of-the-month quilt. The rows I received over the summer included a lot of paper piecing (more on that another day) and teeny-tiny pieces. I mean – just look at this block! And there are 8 of these blocks total to have finished!!! It didn’t help that I did the first block wrong and I don’t have enough pieces to finish all 8. I will figure that out, but I’ll need time to sit down and go through everything and re-design it. I simply don’t have the interest in this quilt to do it right now. It might just turn into my first UFO. If it doesn’t get done in 2020, I’m okay with that. I got the parts done that I felt I could get done in a timely manner. It will be pretty whenever I get it done. I really liked the flying geese I did. I don’t know why the colour order makes me feel happy, but it really does. 🙂

French braid

One quilt that got finished was the wedding quilt for my brother-in-law. The piecing was done before the wedding, but the quilting wasn’t finished in time, so I gave it to them the next time I saw them. I’m actually kind of glad that I didn’t have it done in time for the wedding. Everything was so chaotic that day, there’s a good chance I would have forgotten it anyways! It took a lot of mental focus to force myself to get back to quilting it. I was coming up with the quilting pattern as I went. It was a meandering stipple with hearts added every so often. I even quilted some squares specially instead of just an all-over meander. My new sister-in-law was very excited when she received the quilt for Christmas. She even sent me a picture of their bedroom the very next day with the quilt on the bed. It felt so good to get that quilt out the door and to the recipient. 🙂

I finally started getting back into the swing of things over Christmas, mostly on Christmas Eve. It started with a last-minute wine bottle bag for a Christmas gift to a coworker. Then, at the last second, I decided to make two table runners for my sisters. I got one completely finished before going to see everyone on Christmas Day, the second one was almost completely finished except the quilting details. It’s done now and I’ll be dropping it off when I visit in January.

I am finally getting back into it! The next post will be what I started in 2020 – and I finished it in a little less than a week! I can’t wait to show you!!!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Finished Projects · Piecing

Ending at the Beginning

I finally finished the block work for the 2018-2019 BOTM class with FibreChick!

When last we visited this project, the final block had been assigned in … June I want to say??? Yes, June! I took the block home and tossed it in the project box with the other blocks because I had other things to do. During the quilt weekend in September (more on that later), I met up with Kim and bought two more blocks to make 12 blocks in total. I also got the first block of the new 2019-2020 BOTM class. Ironically, I’ll have missed both the September and the October classes because of weddings. Stop getting married, people!

I quickly made up the June block. It’s called “Falling Leaves”. It’s a very popular pattern, especially here in Canada because of the maple-leaf design. I was at the Quilts-by-the-Bay quilt show last week (it’s hosted here in town by our guild) and there were no fewer than 5 quilts made out of the Falling Leaves pattern. I still intend to make a full quilt of them sometime in the future, but I’ll need to really think about how I make it so it looks different than the others. Actually, I already have an idea … I should jot it down in my idea book.

Falling Leaves

After officially finishing the assigned block, I decided to go back and fix a block that I did slightly wrong the first time around. It’s call the Lightning block (for very obvious reasons). When I made it the first time, I pieced all the zigzags and then sewed them together. The block was at least 1/2 an inch bigger on all sides than the other blocks. It wasn’t until the next class that I realized it was because I failed to read the instructions through before working (baaaaaad M!!!). I was supposed to re-cut the zigzags to a certain size, then sew them together. I ripped up all the blocks, pressed them, cut them, then re-sewed them. Now it’s the same size as the other blocks in the bin!

Lightening block

Next up was the first of the two extra blocks. Back in January, this block had been assigned to us. I made it back then, but I got the points backwards and didn’t realize it until I was putting the final four pieces together. I’m pretty sure I was running late with the block (SURPRISE 😛 ) and I really didn’t feel like ripping out everything to fix it (I would have had to pull apart each piece to fix it), so I submitted it as “Done with a whoopsie”. Kim said that she liked the block even better the way I did it (she wasn’t a fan of how the original block looked, but she was going for a Christmas-themed block and it fit the bill). She named it the Ferris Wheel Block and updated her pattern to show that as an alternate. For one of my final blocks, I decided to re-do it the way it was supposed to be done. I can’t believe how different they look, even though it’s literally one piece sewn differently! When it’s all in a quilt, I wonder if anyone will even notice that they’re technically not different blocks. I present – the Poinsettia Block!

Last block. I’ve known for a while what I wanted to do for this one. I wanted to re-do the very first block I did in this class – the Powassan Poesy. When I made the first block, I had NO skills. There was no accurate piecing going on, no matching points, no straight (or accurate 1/4″) seams and I was ironing all my seams open. Ohhh n00b M. 🙂 That’s okay, thought! That’s what learning is about. I wanted to see if I could notice any differences if I re-made the block. To give it a different feel, I even changed up how I pieced the block. There is absolutely a difference in my skill level! Even my husband noticed when he looked at the two blocks. Practicing makes a huge difference.

Now that all my blocks are finished, I need to make the quilt! I have a plan for the quilt I want to make with them. I just need to talk to Kim first to get what I need and I’ll be ready to start machine quilting this winter. I can’t wait! Also – here’s a sneak-peak of this year’s block. I’m not a huge fan of the food-for-thought quotes on the blocks (I’m not the kind of person that’s into those things), but I LOVE the colours!!! I can’t wait to make them all!

~M