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

Piecing

Getting Stuff Done!

I 100% forgot to post something last week. It totally slipped my mind. Whoops!

I promise I was being productive! As you saw last post, the Grandma quilt got pieced. Now, it’s getting quilted! First order of business – baste le quilt!

Before you worry, the floor had just been swept and scrubbed earlier that day. I didn’t want to risk any kitchen dirt getting tracked onto it. Since I’m planning on using scraps of the backing as the binding fabric, I lined up the quilt top on the corner instead of the middle. One thing to be aware of when you’re doing it this way – space those basting pins WAAAY out. I had to re-position the quilt top several times as it became apparent that I had put the quilt top on crooked. Twice. 😥 Since I baste on a table and not the floor, I had to put in pins to hold it while I lined up the edges. I put too many pins in the first time. That just translates to having to take out more pins than necessary when I needed to move it.

As usual, I tried to make sure that I couldn’t fit more than a hand between the pins. I stuck to using the corners of the small squares as the reference points for the pins. Once the whole thing was basted, I cut off the excess. My goal was to leave a minimum of 1.5″ all the way around. I should have more than enough to go around the whole edge, even taking into account the fact that I accidentally cut through one corner when I trimmed the quilt.

Yay basted quilt!!

Last step – roll the quilt for quilting!
I decided I wanted to get the center out of the way, then I’d work on the top, the bottom, and the sides. The center is the most difficult to get done because there’s so much quilt in the way in the sewing machine’s throat, so I like to just hammer down the center before touching the rest. Plus, it helps keep the edges from moving around as much. I folded in two sides, then rolled the top and bottom and used binder clips and spare basting pins to keep things pinched down. Finally, I dumped the quilt sushi roll on the table.

Next post – WE QUILT!!!

~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

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

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing

Returning to Responsibilities

It’s time to catch up on my block-of-the-month quilts! I’ve been slacking so hard lately.

First- bye bye coral orange peel block!! I’m going to miss you!!!

It’s so lonely in the project box!!!

Second, my FibreChick BOTM. I still had a week left before it was due, so I got working on it. My block has 4 main colours, 1 accent colour, and the background colour. Most of the other colourways have one main colour. Usually my blocks get rotated with 1 of 4 main colours, but for this block, I got all four colours in it.

It’s a cute little pinwheel block!

I rather enjoyed putting this block together! We were using 4-at-a-time and 2-at-a-time half-square-triangles (HSTs). It gave me a chance to use my magic wand!! 😀

See?? Literally a magic wand!

It is so handy! It gives you a perfect 1/4″ line to sew along for HSTs. In some cases, I drew a line from point to point. On others, I just lined up the ruler on the points and drew the stitch lines with the mechanical pencil. It beats using your 1/4″ foot to make sure you stitch a straight line.

It’s magic, baby. 😉

The last time I had a block that had all four of my main colours was my first block, so I pulled my first block out. I think I’ve made a lot of progress since I started class back in September.

First and second-last block of the class

The next class is the last class of this year. Since that will leave me with 10 blocks, I intend to buy two extra blocks to bring the total blocks up to 12, which will give me A COMPLETED QUILT!! Whoot woot!

Third – my Cottage Quilter BOTM. It is a Dresden Plate this month. We have to make 5 half-plates. A Dresden Plate is like a big sunflower or sun. Cutting out the petals took me TWO WHOLE DAYS. ugggggggh. It did give me a chance to watch HBO’s Chernobyl. WOW. I’m not a huge fan of HBO shows – too much jingly-jangly people parts for my taste – but this show was INCREDIBLE! I highly recommend! Although, full disclosure – the miners were mining in the nude (historically accurate) and they did not … strategically frame the scene. Everything was captured. Other than that though – I actually want to re-watch it already. It was that good.

Next week – hopefully finishing the Dresden Plate so I don’t get dinged with a failure charge.

~M

Piecing · Quilt Designs

Adventures with Humans

I did another first! I went on a quilt retreat!

My table and my table mates!

Basically, people show up for a weekend to sew in the same big room together. They can be at a remote location where you stay overnight, but this one was in town, so I got to sleep in my own bed and get woken up by my own dog at 6 freaking AM dog … The tears are real. Especially since my own husband kept me up to 1AM because he missed me all day (AWWW).

I went into this retreat with one objective: get started on the quilt that I’m making my brother-in-law for his wedding. Since none of my in-laws are aware of my blog, I can discuss it here without ruining the surprise 🙂

Log cabin block

I am planning on making a log cabin quilt. Traditionally, it was one of the first quilt patterns that a new bride would make with all black blocks on one side, all white blocks on the other, and a red “chimney” in the middle. I decided to modernize it a bit by working in some grey. I mocked up this block with some spare fat quarters (quarter-of-a-yard of fabric, in case you’re wondering) and I like the look. It makes a nice, big block that shouldn’t take too long to make up into a quilt. 18.5″ blocks, 5 blocks across by 5 blocks down will put it somewhere around 95″. I’m putting 5 different different colours in the chimney from a fat quarter pack. I intend to use the rest of the pack to make matching cushions for them for Christmas. I asked Kim from FibreChick to put together a kit for me and picked it up last week. It’s going to be SO PRETTY!! 😀

Step one to making a log cabin kit – pre-cut all the strips. As you can see from the sample block, it’s made up of a bunch of strips – in this case, 2.5″ strips – cut to different lengths. THIS PART IS SOOOO TEDIOUS. The first cutting to make up enough strips to do at least one block took me an hour. The subsequent partial cuttings (just cutting the strips you ran out of piecing the last block) took 30-40 minutes every time and I had to cut between every block. It’s just a lot of cutting. On the second evening, one of the women took pity on me and introduced me to a magic device.

The June Tailor version of the Stripology ruler

It’s known as a Stripology ruler. You put it on top of the fabric and cut in the gaps in the ruler to cut a bunch of matching widths. The one I used let me cut a bunch of 2.5 strips out of all my fabric at once, which will cut down my cutting time down (see what I did there???? 😀 ) as I’ll just have to grab a 2.5 strip and sub-cut it the proper length. I can get a block sewn in about 15-20 minutes once I have the strips. The quilt needs to be pieced and quilted by September. I can do this!

I got 7 blocks done over the course of the weekend! I started playing with the layout of the blocks to see how they look together with the colours and figure out the pattern. Log cabin patterns can make a lot of cool sub-patterns. Because this block is so big and there’s only going to be 5 each way, I’m just going to stick with the standard pattern for now. I totally want to do another log cabin in the future, though – the cross pattern looks SO RAD.

I feel pretty good about that, especially since I got distracted by a hosted project that took up a whole day. Guess what the next blog post will be?? 😀

~M

Piecing · Quilt Designs

Orange Peel Problems

Right from the outset, I want to say that I’m glad I did this pattern this way and I intend to finish it this way. You appreciate the easier ways and other people’s amazing work when you slog through it the hard way first.

I completely understand the appeal of applique now! 😀

Don’t be afraid of curved piecing. It is not that bad – just go slow! I will be doing more curved piecing in my future. The secret to curved piecing is using a small rotational cutter or scissors. So remember – I’m using a cardboard template. I can’t use the rotary cutter against the template as it bites into the the cardboard and changes the shape of the template. I traced around the template with a marker or chalk and used the small rotary cutter to cut along the line. The only issue with cutting the curved bits this way is that each piece is a slightly different size. If I were submitting this quilt for a competition, this would matter. Since it’s just for me, I don’t care!!! 😀

Something I need to be aware of when I do the next pieces is cutting the center for directional fabric. I cut this fabric the same way for each center. It didn’t really matter on this fabric because it points a bunch of directions and you can’t even tell. 😉

When cutting the outside charcoal bit, I made sure that the corners were square by lining them up on the square on my mat.
Look at that orange colour pop in charcoal!

After assembling the blocks, I had to put my four test blocks together. In a traditional orange peel, they’re set to make a circle and the star or “wings” pattern comes through as a secondary pattern. Because I’m using several orange fabrics, I decided to make the alternate pattern called “Pixie Wings”. I use the same fabric to make the wing design and the orange peel design comes out of the “wings” getting put together.

This is where I started getting frustrated with the piecing. Getting two points to meet was terrible. Getting four points to meet evenly in the middle was miserable!!! I literally ripped this block apart six times and re-sewed it together. You can see from the back that all the attempts and extra thread botched any hope of having my usually nice spun centers.

Now to do at least three more!! 😀 I’d ultimately like to do more than just four blocks – 12 maybe, do a lap quilt. I won’t be able to do the whole thing just now for two reasons. First, I just don’t have the time to do more than that. There’s a Grandma quilt and a wedding quilt to get finished before the summer is over. Second, I don’t think I have enough of the background fabric for 12 squares ( I might be wrong, but I don’t think I am). If that’s the case, I’m going to find two more fabrics of similar colour and do a slightly scrappy look.

The quilt guild had a full schedule on Monday, so no extra blocks were assigned this month. That leaves me with a bit of time to try something extra special! Stay tuned!

~M