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

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects

Opting for Distractions

Next on the hit list is the bro-in-law wedding quilt. Thanks to the lovely lady at the quilt retreat, I got all the strips cut and assembling the blocks is going SO much quicker! However, after 5 days straight of piecing blocks (and getting about 1-1.5 blocks done per session), I’m running out of love for this project. It’s my own fault, really. The wedding is the 15th of September. I’ve sort of already resigned myself to not having it done on time, but there is a long weekend coming up, so who knows what sort of magic might happen?

I decided that I needed to do something a little different tonight as a break. I have another quilt retreat coming up with the same group of people in September (the weekend after the wedding, so the quilt will definitely be done before September ends!) They have several commitment projects that people are supposed to contribute to, like lap quilts for one of the local nursing homes. I’m super new to this group and didn’t know about some of these commitments before signing up. Plus, I’ve had zero time this summer to do any sewing except deadline sewing that absolutely needs to get done as a priority. Plus, I’m working full time and have some responsibilities at home and elsewhere. I feel like that exempts me from some of the responsibilities, but I wanted to do at least one thing that got assigned. I decided to do the pincushion that they asked us to bring completed to the next retreat. It’s probably going to wind up being a pincushion trade, but I thought it’d be fun to try!

I was going to try to make a cactus pincushion (I KNOW RIGHT?!), but I found this super cute and super fast little pincushion on Pinterest and had just the perfect fabric for it!

I have a confession to make. I bought more fabric recently … I know, I’m a bad bad girl … but it was in the interest of the wedding quilt! I found the perfect backing online and this adorable little fabric package was available at the same time and just dying to come home to me. And I’m already using it! So I get a pass, right? Ignore the fact that I used a 1.5 inch square off each fat quarter and nothing else …

And the finished product! I think it’s absolutely the sweetest wee thing I’ve ever made. I hope there isn’t a trade … I want to keep it now! I can always make another one, though. I did not take a picture of the back because my sewing job was a bit hack, but I was more worried about keeping all the filling from ever falling out than I was about making it pretty. Besides – it’s the bottom of a pincushion. No one will ever notice. And if they don’t want it, I’m keeping it!!! 😉

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Piecing · Quilt Designs

A Return to the Quilting

So … I didn’t start with either of the projects I have coming due. Who’s surprised?? No one? Me either. 😛

First, I got distracted by a new project I’ve been thinking of doing for some time now. I figured it would be super easy and super fast, so why not start there? I’m making sleep masks. 🙂 I’m extremely light-sensitive when I’m trying to sleep – oh, the wars over the lights that my brother and I fought as kids – and husband is often up later than me when he’s on call. Solution? A sleep mask. I’ve bought a few over the years – I usually wear out one a year – and thought, “Why don’t I just make them out of my scraps instead?”

First, I drew a template using a current sleep mask on to batting and cut it down. The pictures show version 2. Since I have a long, thin nose, some masks are uncomfortable because they put too much pressure on the bridge of my nose, so I cut the nose curve higher on version 1 and even higher on version 2. I think I have it about right now. Next step was to cut some scrap fabric the same size as the batting template. I had some long pieces of De La Luna that I couldn’t throw away (Again – no one shows surprise!), so I cut them up for this project. I tried to get the little butterflies to land in the middle of the mask. I was only successful with one, but they still function perfectly well as masks. I decided to use some thin elastic I had in my sewing kit to make the string around. Remember to put the elastic inside the mask before sewing!!! Guess what happened to version 1? Yeah … and remember to leave a gap at the top to pull the mask inside out. It has to be big enough that the fabric will fit through when bunched up. That part I did remember!

Once the mask was flipped out, I used my fingers to push out all the edges for a smoother look, pinned the open top in place, and pressed it with an iron to get a crisp line. Then it was simple to run a 1/8″ topstitch around the edge. Voila! Sleeping mask for Auntie M! I even modeled it for you.

Mmm so sexy. 😀 On version 2, I matched the thread colour for the top stitch, but on version 1, I just wanted to finish it to see what worked/didn’t work.

On to distraction #2! Wait … you didn’t think the sleep mask was the only thing keeping me from the work I was supposed to be doing, did you? Tut tut. Distraction #2 – a cousin called me last week to announce … her daughter is expecting a sister in January! 😀 Yay more family babies!!! The last time any babies were born to our family, I was crocheting baby blankets. I get to quilt a baby blanket instead this time!!! 😀 TO THE FABRIQUE ESTATES!!!

I have a few (very very few, surprisingly) panels in my stash, most of which are for babies. Since it’s super early, we don’t know the gender of the little one. That doesn’t really matter anyways for this cousin – when she was expecting her first daughter (and knew it was a girl), she decorated her baby room with seafoam green, royal purple, and robin-egg blue. She and I are cut from the same cloth! 😀 I decided to go with the owls panel I bought last winter. Kelly from The Cottage Quilter demoed the panel at quilt guild and as soon as I saw it, I had to have one. I’m so glad now that I did!! I also pulled one of my stocks of solid fabrics and coordinated up a cool tone and a warm tone collection of 4 fabrics each. Everything is now set aside now until winter – I have to work on the other quilts – but it felt so cool to be able to go into my nicely-sorted room and just pull out what I needed. 🙂 Plus, I’m in design mode for the new quilt!! I love design mode. 😀

Finally … on to what I’m supposed to be doing!

First order of business: Grandma quilt. I know the window for getting at least one block before class this week is swiftly closing, but I wanted to have this done first. And I was so close!!! I had no idea that I had one row to sew on, then the border, then done! Why did I avoid doing this quilt for so long! It was almost finished! Oh well … It’s finished now. 😀 Because it’s huge, I had to hang it on the clothes line in order to attach the border. Snowdog was such a little jerk!!! He wanted to go in the house (because it was hot out and we have A/C inside now), so he kept stepping on the part of the quilt I was working on to get my attention. I was afraid he’d track dirt on it, so I gave into his demands. Spoiled boy!

When I measured it on the clothes line, it came up to 93″ square. The Cottage Quilter had a summer sale a few weeks ago, so I’ve already picked up the backing and the batting. I’ll baste the quilt sometime this week – probably Thursday after quilt class – and get cracking on the quilting part. I only have two weeks (not including the week we’re in) to get the quilting done and we’re going to the family cottage for the August long weekend cause Auntie M needs a break! A little pressure never hurt anyone, right? Oh, yeah … there’s also an interview to prep for next week and we have to finish the shed painting project … *le sigh* I’m just not going to be able to quilt it as extensively as I quilted Dan’s. That’s fine, I didn’t really intend to do it that intensely, but I did want to do a medium amount of quilting on it! Chop chop Auntie M.

Final sewing adventure (man I got busy this week!): the BOTM. The one I need to have at least one of so I don’t get dinged with a $5 fine? Oh, and it’s complicated … yay … It’s paper piecing. Paper piecing is cool because you put the fabric on the back side side, the sew through the paper following the line, flip it over, press back the top fabric, and like magic – it’s perfect! It’s also annoying because it’s all angles and I don’t cut my fabric to match it very well, but I managed to get three birds done all the same! That’s more than I expected of myself!! There are supposed to be 5 large and 7 small birds strutting across the row. I’ll probably do what I did with the Dresden plates and finish them before I start the next row. Please oh please … next month be easy!!! I would have taken the model picture on the quilt topped cutting station … but it was occupied. Animals, I tell you …

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Mini Update

As promised, I did not have time to do a blog last week. We didn’t get that lovely A/C fully installed until mid-week. When they installed it, they ran all the piping out through what had been a boarded up window, so we spent the remainder of the week installing a new window and bricking around the pipes. The weekend was a family canoe trip, during which we punched 3 holes in our canoe and sank it. Thank goodness for family. We loaded the Snowdog into a cousin’s canoe with their pooch. The dogs didn’t try play at all – just cuddled up in the bottom and went to sleep – so that went well at least. Husband’s brothers tied the sinking canoe up to their canoes to tow it while we tried to bail fast enough to keep the canoe afloat to get back to the cottage. We sank twice anyways. That’s how bad the holes were. 😀 At least we laughed the whole time! It was a very old canoe we got for free, so we just made the best of the situation. Long story short – there was no time for blogs.

What I did have time to do was finish straightening up my sewing room. When the A/C guys came, they asked my husband to move everything … and boy did he ever.

It got worse than this, believe it or not …

I almost cried when I saw the mess … but messes are opportunities for organization!!! 😀 And since I’d just installed Fabrique Estates, it was the perfect opportunity to finish cleaning up and setting up! I’ve decided that painting is going to wait a year or two, but everything is set up where it’s going to go when the painting does happen.

See the quilt-covered dresser next to Fabrique Estates? It turns out that the top is the exact same size as my “small” cutting mat! I now have a cutting station that’s at chest height! No more back ache from bending down to cut!!! I can still put the big cutting mat on the folding table to cut long strips, but most of the time I’ll be using my cutting station!!! I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I’ve been seriously considering investing in hardware to get a collapsible cutting station. My back was injured during a car accident in college and I try not to strain it anymore than I have to. Now I have a cutting station!!!

I put the big mat on the regular sewing table to replace the small one getting moved to the cutting station. It got damaged during the AC installation – my husband left it out in the hot sun and warped it badly – but I’m hoping that it will slowly flatten out and be usable. If not, I think my dear mother-in-law may have another unused mat lying about that I can snag.

What I’m also really excited about is my pressing station!!! I made an ironing board out of … well, a board … from Home Depot, covered it in a layer of batting, then covered it in this cute Amy Butler fabric I found in the sale bin at Fabricland! I’m planning on painting the room a slightly more muted shade of the purple, so it’s going to match the finished room perfectly when I get there. And my rulers aren’t lying in a pile by my table anymore! An uncle of mine made this little shelf for me years ago as a girl in high school. It’s been up in most of my places, but I hadn’t found a room for it in our home. Now I have. And did you notice the shelf supports? That’s me! Auntie M!!!

There has been little to no sewing being done, but I did at least get caught up on last month’s block. The assigned block was a Dresden plate (or to be exact, a half Dresden plate). I got three blocks done for the class, which was enough to not get dinged with the $5 failure charge, but I wanted to complete my row anyways. There were five blocks needed. All were cut out and ready to go, so I took a couple hours on my last night of vacation to finish them and sew them together. Aren’t they cute?? They aren’t perfect, but I did the thing and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Now to get at least one of the next blocks done, plus get Grandma’s quilt pieced (due August 12). July and August are shaping up to be busy sewing months and it’s finally cool enough in the house to do the work!! Can’t wait!!!

~M

Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Non-Quilt Projects · Piecing

Retreat Distractions

I meant to get this post up sooner, I really did … but then I changed what I was doing, so I had to wait until I was finished. 😛

The mini-distraction project at quilt retreat was a charm square tote class taught by the always-amazing Kim Boaro of FibreChick. The idea was to have a project to use charm packs from our stashes, although Kim did have fabric and some charm packs for sale at the retreat. Charm packs are 5″x5″ pre-cut squares from a fabric line (roughly 40 squares to a pack). I impulse purchased the most adorable bee-themed charm pack last winter when we were first talking about getting into beekeeping, so I knew exactly what I would use for the project! Of course, that didn’t stop me from replacing the empty spot with a new charm pack from FibreChick … It’s going to be a Christmas present. DON’T JUDGE ME!!!

Since I’ve already made a charm-pack purse (although I cut the fabric myself for the purse, remember?), I decided to go with some of the suggested alterations she had to the pattern. Instead of it being rows of blocks, I decided to stagger the blocks so I wouldn’t have to focus on making my points meet (sneaky!) The one nice thing about this fabric line is that only one of the included fabrics is directional – the ones with the writing on them. I had to make sure that I laid them out the same way for each side of the bag (5 across, 4 down on each side). Of course, I didn’t plan for Morgan error, so when I assembled it, the writing was sideways instead of facing the up-and-down. I actually kind of prefer the look! And the writing is pointing the same direction on each side, so all good! I used the leftovers from one of the fabrics from the husband quilt for the liner and some of the cut off batting from the husband quilt … using up scraps!!! (I also bought the fabric I needed for the strap from FibreChick … IT STILL COUNTS AS STASH BUSTING)

Laying out the fabric patterns

After sewing the squares in rows and sewing the rows together off-spaced, the instructions wanted me to stitch in the ditch around the squares. It does look nice on the sample bag, but I wanted to try something different. When I eventually start to make a hexie quilt (little hexagons), I wanted to use a blanket stitch to machine quilt them. Perfect practice opportunity! And I got to do a little FMQ at quilt retreat, which always makes me happy. 😀 I played two rounds of thread chicken … AND WON!!! HAHAHAHA!!! Thread chicken is where you’re trying to finish your project (or your section) as the thread is running out and you’re playing to finish before it runs out. Also works for yarn – I do not win at yarn chicken ever. Thread seems to be my jam. 😉

I got the bag together just under the wire and thought it looked so cute! It’s an extra-big sized tote – it even comfortably fits a project box! I didn’t completely finish it off – I left the lining opening un-stitched. Why? Because there is supposed to be a pocket inside and I ran out of time to make one with my scraps. I was toying with the idea of not putting in a pocket. Because the tote is so big, I’ll probably be using it to transport large items (LIKE QUILTS!!!) to the beach or weekend visits, but in case I want to bring just the tote, it’s nice to have pockets to easily find keys or phones. So … guess what I suddenly decided I needed to do last night … at 11PM … while waiting for husband to come home from working nights … I don’t do well when I’m left alone in the house.

First step – fix the liner. I had to rip the sides out of the liner so the pocket fit the width of the bag. The only reason any of this worked was because I made the liner too big by accident when I first made it. At the time, I thought it wouldn’t matter because it’s in the big and you can’t see that it’s a little big. Thank goodness I just left it as-is! I also ripped open the bottom of the bag a bit more so I could run the stitches on the pocket sections easier and to add stabilizer better. Since the pocket has lots of fabric and stabilizer, it’s really heavy, which means I have to bolster the single layer of fabric liner so it holds the pocket without collapsing. This is not the right way to add stabilizer AT ALL, but it was what I had to work with. On to the pocket!

I sewed all the liner scraps together to make a pocket, but it was only big enough for one side, so I got the mis-cut scraps from the drawstring bag to make up the other side of the pocket. Popped a little stabilizer on the back of the pieced side, stuck it into the liner, and then re-stitched the liner sides. I decided to use a specialty stitch on the pocket bottom and to create pocket sections. Guess what specialty stitch my sewing machine has … HONEYCOMB STITCH!!! How perfect does this look??

Finished product! Both sides! I hung them in my lilac trees for a pretty background. Love me some lilacs. 😀 Now to finish off a big quilt to carry in it!!!

I mean … go to the beach and get some sun so I stop looking like a mountain goblin …

~M

Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

The Distractions Continue

This will be a short update due to the fact that I haven’t touched my sewing machine for a couple weeks. I KNOW … I’m shocked too! I was on vacation all last week and intended to get some sewing done then, but we were just too busy! The weather was lovely all week for a change and outdoor work had to be done. We have an undeveloped bush lot outside of the city. It’s the property my family lived on when I was a teenager. Husband and I acquired it from my parents when they moved further north and we’ve had plans to start developing it. Step one – put in a road. This took up a couple of days worth of distractions scheduled for this week.

We also had some home improvements to complete – and complete, we did, although it took three days to do so.

We were supposed to take one day off to relax, but I couldn’t help myself – I got started on a sewing project. Not one that involves a sewing machine, but one that is going to wind up in my sewing room.

This is an antique Victorian cupboard that my mother used as a book catalog while we were growing up. It’s going to be my fabric storage solution! I’m super excited to see how it works out! The first layer of paint is mostly off (the shiny stuff – it was already peeling off). Underneath is a blue paint and a red stain (the red stain is still on the inside of all the doors). I removed the hardware from the doors last fall before putting the cupboard in storage. One of the clasps needs to be replaced, but I found a website (Old Quebec Hardware) where I can get replacement latch for $8 a pop plus shipping. That sounds expensive, but my next best option was $40+ on eBay! I’ll pay the $8 + shipping (probably no more than $15 for Canada Post) instead thanks. It’s a cheap price to pay to have a beautiful piece for my room! Plus, it’s an exact match to a replacement latch my mother put on the cupboard years ago. It’s probably the same company that still makes them. Isn’t that cool? I’m a little tempted to replace all the latches now as they are obviously starting to reach the end of their life cycle, but I think I’ll wait until I lose a couple more before doing that.

I have an idea for the top. The width and length is comparable to a ironing board. I’m planning on building a padded surface to use for pressing. It will save space as I won’t need to keep my ironing board out. I’m really excited to get this finished! I still have a lot of sanding to do, but I’m hoping to have it finished and installed by next weekend! I was going to try to paint the room first, but I think I’ll hold off on that. I need to get some time in on my sewing machine soon!!!

~M

Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Surprise Project!

It’s not a quilt.

It’s knitting!

Crochet, to be exact.

New ball winder!

It all started when I got my new ball winder. I had a smaller, crappier one that would eat and break my wool if the ball was bigger than normal. It worked just fine when I was working on baby quilts and kept ripping out small balls of yarn, but I finally got sick of it and decided to upgrade. I placed an order at my local yarn store, Stix & Stones, and she kindly offered to resell my old ball winder for me. I wound up with half the cost of my new ball winder paid for!

Black Cat Custom Yarn – Transmuation

The second stage happened when Stix & Stones got in a shipment of Black Cat Custom Yarn and as soon as I saw the colour Transmutation – I had to have it! I have mentioned my eldest niece before here. She (and by extension, my sister and her family) are currently working on controlling epilepsy that appeared in April 2018. The doctors aren’t sure what is causing it, which is normal for a large amount of epileptic patients. It can take some time to manage with medication and management can take even longer to do in children. In Canada, some conditions (like cancer) have colours associated to them for fundraising and identification purposes (cancer in general is yellow, breast cancer is pink). The colour for epilepsy is purple. I found out when my niece, who has been a pink princess girl since she could talk, announced that her favourite colour is suddenly purple. While the Transmutation yarn has many colours, including pink, the base colour is a rich royal purple that would be perfect for her. I thought this would make a perfect little sweater. You can see below that a it wound up in a range of beautiful colours when I wound it off my yarn swift. You’ll notice I took a ton of pictures – I found it so cool that this sweater appears to change colour based on the lighting!

I tend to get all my knitting and crochet patterns from Ravelry. I found the pattern I wanted on Ravelry for free, but when I followed the pattern to the designer’s website (KT and the Squid), she had it available for a small fee. If you remember from a previous blog, I like to support designers if I find the cost to be fiscally adequate. Maybe that’s not a fair reason, but it’s a reason I am comfortable with. I found the $3.50 USD (I think was the cost?) to be a fair price and bought the PDF version. You can find the pattern for free on her website if you like it!

Little sweater! (3 days work)

This is technically a quick crochet. By technically, I meant that the body and one arm of the sweater were completed in the span of a weekend. When I got to the second arm, I had a horrible block. For five days … I crocheted the arm, realized I did it wrong, ripped it out, crocheted the arm wrong again, ripped it out, and went to bed mad. 😛 To be honest, I was watching TV while I did it, so while it was annoying, it was my own fault for not counting properly while I was doing it.

My baby doll – Amy! Who doesn’t love a Cabbagepatch doll? (Are my 1980s roots showing?)

Once the sweater was made, I had the better part of a ball left over (the sweater required 2 balls with a third ball needed to do the second arm). What to do with the leftover wool … how about a sweater for her little sister’s toy Bear! I decided to do a first – make my own pattern! Plus, it gave me an excuse to pull my old doll out of my memories box (because I needed a model, of course!).

Blocked project drying flat

Once both sweaters were done, I decided to try my hand at blocking! I’ve never blocked before. Blocking is where you wash your wool projects, shape the wet project to the correct proportions, and let it dry. It’s a bit of a process, so I thought I’d use this project as a test to block. It took two full days for the sweaters to dry out. This is partially because of the time of year – here in mid-May, it’s a little cold and a little damp. The furnace is off for the summer (it’s not cold enough to need a furnace right now, just sort of grey and rainy), so the laundry isn’t drying out as fast as it would in the winter with the furnace or the summer in the sun.

The sweaters!
Another picture of the burgundy button

Final step – sew on the buttons! I dug into my button collection to see if I had anything suitable. I found a beautiful burgundy-red big button for my niece’s sweater. I can’t remember where I found it, but I’ve always thought it was so pretty! For the toy sweater, I decided to use some pearlesque pink buttons that I’ve had in my button box since I was 8. Sometimes holding on to things pays off!

My Saturday class last week got bumped to this week, so I have two BoM classes this week (Thursday night and Saturday morning). It’s going to be a busy quilting week on my vacation week next week! YEAH VACATION TIME!!! I am bound and determine to get out on the lake next week. It’s going to be fridgedly cold, but I can’t wait any longer. In my books – it’s summertime!

~M