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

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 · 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

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