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

2020 Kickoff

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

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

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

Blocks on the wall

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

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

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

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

~M

Block-of-the-Month · 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. πŸ˜€ 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!!! πŸ˜€ 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 · Sewing Room

Fabrique Estates – Now Open!

It’s finally finished!

In case you don’t remember, I was working on finishing an old Victorian cupboard that my mother had given to me when she moved. There were several coats of very ugly paint on it that I wanted to get off. I put a layer of paint remover on it and got it down to the last layer of paint. Then I threw a tarp over it, went on a quilt retreat, and got too busy to deal with it. πŸ˜€

When I got back to it, I started off sanding by hand. I did the whole top of of the cabinet by hand. It took two days. Half-way through the second day, I decided to dig out my husband’s belt sander for the rest. Even if I made a mess of it, it was never going to be an expensive antique. You can see that someone filled in half the doors with poly-fill when it split (which is the reason the thing got painted instead of varnished). Someday, my husband wants to take off those doors, dig out the poly-fill and replace it with epoxy, but for now I just wanted this project DONE. And I didn’t botch it too badly with the belt sander, so bonus! This work took a day, with one more day to hand sand the places that still have paint (mostly around the hinges).

At this stage, I needed to do something about the strip around the top piece. I sanded off most of it, but I couldn’t get all of it, especially in the corners. There’s also existing paint under the lip on the front of the top piece that I couldn’t get off. I decided to paint just those bits to hide the old paint, so off to the local paint shop I went for some black chalk paint. I popped on two layers of the black paint, then decided to move on applying a finishing oil to the rest of the cupboard. I’m not a fan of staining and varnishing – I prefer finishing oil. I chose tung oil over the family favourite linseed oil for a couple of reasons. Tung oil is an indoor-only oil (linseed protects both indoor and outdoor surfaces), but since this is an indoor piece, this is a non-issue. I only needed to wait 24 hours between applications for the oil to cure instead of the 72 hours for linseed oil!!! I would have been all month at this with linseed oil! Also, while they both have a strong wood sealant smell, linseed oil smells stronger and lasts much, much longer. Stinky quilt fabric?? I don’t think so!!!

One of the cool things that came out of the oil finish was the colour. As soon as the oil went on, the unit developed a reddish look. I really like how it turned out! Maybe it was made with red pine? That would account for the colour, at least. I wound up putting two coats on the front and side and four coats on the top. Each little cubby got a good scrubbing out with dishsoap and water, the unit dried while the last coat cured, then the fabric condo came inside to be installed in its forever home!

Now presenting – Fabrique Estates!

To make it easier to slide the fabric in and out, I cut up shelf liners from a couple of old pillow cases. I know there’s still a door missing. No worries – it’s coming eventually, it’s just not finished yet. I was more focused on getting the unit done and out of the elements. The last door can wait until the weather gets a little cooler. It’s been +30 degrees Celcius here all week … and it’s been even hotter inside than outside. We’re getting a new furnace installed next week and with it is coming central air conditioning. I CANNOT WAIT. We have a window unit downstairs in the living room/work room so we can get some work done during the week, but the unit we had in the upstairs bedroom broke at the end of the season last fall and we’ve been toughing it out until the installation date. When I was upstairs folding fabric and re-installing the latches, the sweat was just pouring off my face!! Sewing is officially on hold until after next week! I have a dream of getting the pressing board I’m making for the top done. I should be able to do most of that downstairs in the cooler work area, so maybe I’ll just focus on that for now.

Would you like a fabric tour? Of course! I’ll show you around! πŸ˜€

First, the missing square. In the bottom two cubbies are my backing fabrics. I have a couple of cool ones that I picked out on sale for future projects I have planned, but the rest are just old, clean sheets. They’ll be perfect backings for practice quilts or learning block quilts. The top right contains what is left of my mother-in-law’s stash’s raid. I put quite a dint in that stash! The left top is fabric that needs to be taken out, folded, and re-sorted. The heat was getting to me by this point. πŸ˜› Cool thing about these little latches. One of the original latches broke when the unit was getting transferred home. This isn’t the first time this has happened – Mum already replaced a broken latch with one she found at a Home Hardware when we were still living in Orillia (before Y2K – yes I’m getting old!!!). After much hunting online, I found the neatest manufacturer in Quebec City – Old Quebec Hardware. They make antique-looking hardware for cabinets and one of the latches they offer was an exact match to the replacement my mother had added! The cost and the shipping were both reasonable (considering buying original hardware off eBay would have been FIFTY DOLLARS EACH PLUS SHIPPING!!!), so I bought two for symmetry on the lower doors. They look pretty good!

The Fabrique Estates would not be complete without my Tula Pink stash!!! I might have a wee little addiction going on here … but I have a solution that I’ll outline later.
Picture 1: On the right side at the top are all my solids bundles. The second row of solids are the Tula coordinating solids, cause gotta match!! Right?? You can also see the Tula stash overflow at the very bottom with more to-sort-later fabric jammed in the middle.
Picture 2: LOOK AT THE STASH LOVELINESS!!! πŸ˜€ The top two cubbies are mostly All Stars on the left with Zuma on the right. Both of these will eventually be made up into kid quilts for the niblings (the plural of niece and nephew … LOVING THIS WORD!!!) as they come along. In the bottom left, you can see the Pinkerville line that we all know is going into my eldest niece’s quilt this fall. And on the right … the line that started the obsession. It’s my De La Luna stash!!! This is going to be made into a quilt for Auntie M!!!! No sharing!!! Although … I ordered 2 meters of each fabric, so I’m probably going to have sooo much left over … MOAR QUILTS FOR AUNTIE ME!!! (not a typo πŸ˜‰ ) If you’re super curious to see what the different lines look like, you can wander over to tulapink.com to see the different fabrics unfolded.
Picture 3: Other little stashes. I’ve got my Boundless fabric bundles – you can see one on the bottom right with coordinated thread!!! That’s going to be for my sister’s quilt whenever I get started on it. You can also see more of the Fairy Lights glow-in-the-dark collection (originally destined for the eldest niece quilt before Pinkerville was unveiled to the world) and the cutest Peter Pan fabric you’ve ever seen by Sarah Jane from Michael Miller Fabric. I have a plan for that fabric already, but realized I needed just a little more to make it work. It’s in the mail now – as soon as it arrives, I’ll re-fold it to stack in the cubby like the Fairy Lights.

I’m still keeping my great-grandfather’s cupboard in this room. Again – fabric needs to be sorted a bit, but this is where I intend to store my kits, my patterns, and my fabric scraps. The fabric you see was supposed to be made into clothes some time ago … future me, to work!!

I emptied two large totes into the cupboard!!! That’s a lot of fabric! I definitely have more than I need at this point (although compared to other people’s stashes!!! But I’m not comparing …). I have a plan for the future – no more totes. I can only buy what I have space for in Fabrique Estates. If there’s no space, either a current tenant gets evicted or the new applicant does not get to come home with me. πŸ˜€ Tough I know! The exception will be for batting. I will turn one of these two totes into my batting tote. Batting isn’t cheap and it’s better to get it on sale than buy at full-price when you need it. THAT’S IT THOUGH. No extra fabric!! Here’s a Snowdog picture with the empty totes. He’s proud of me! πŸ˜€ He is also not enjoying the heat. I wonder if he dreams of snow?

~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. πŸ˜› 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

Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Creative Solutions

We are having a little family crisis, so I’ve been home a grand total of 10 hours this week. No quilting got done, but the ironing board got a face lift!

I feel like this quilting blog is turning into a home making blog …

What I didn’t realize when I made the changes to the bins and ironing table setup is that the iron rest was facing the wall. I didn’t think about it because I wouldn’t have enough space to extend it, so I just ignored it.
Fun fact: When you iron, the board moves up and down just a smidge and the feet shimmy across the floor, typically in a reverse motion into the wall …

I was getting massive streaks on the wall where the metal was transferring onto the wall. Since the wall isn’t primed or painted (just drywall mud), it picks up marks super easily. The result was lovely iron-grey streaks all over the wall.

See how close? And that’s after I cleaned off the worst smudges …

I picked up a roll of window heat-proofing foam a while ago to use in my bags. I couldn’t find any foam stabilizer at Fabricland (although I now suspect that I can get some at The Sewing Machine because they offer baggineering classes – yes that’s a thing!!) and wanted something padded for making camera lens cases that never got made. I’m going to need them again this year, so that might show up on the blog. Ohhhh and I’m going to need a new purse … hmmm … I’m adding that to my list. Therapeutic, this blogging thing!

Window seal. πŸ˜€ There’s an alternate use for everything!

I cut a smidge off the roll and attached it to the iron holder. I used cotton string to help adhere it to the rail underneath and a couple of straight pins to lock it into the fabric cover on top. I don’t want anything too permanent as I’ll probably have to wash it down the road. Or replace it – evidently, Neiko has been happy-kneading the ironing board when he sits up there in the sunshine. For those of you who do not have cats, they knead things with their claws when they’re happy. It’s both cute and SUPER annoying. πŸ˜›

I’m glad I didn’t make it too secure because I’m evidently not done with this. First thing I did after setting this up is accidentally run over it with the hot iron. I knew this was going to happen, but thought I’d just be extra careful. I should have known … melted plastic smeared all over the bottom of the iron. I didn’t even notice until it transferred on to the cloth of my project – double joy! πŸ˜› I have a scrap bit of grubby fabric spread over it right now (the fabric hung out in my pocket for the better part of two months during colour matching sprees, so it got somewhat irreparably sullied).

I did manage to make one thing before heading out to the family homestead, but that will get its own blog post next week as I was my clumsy self and botched it a bit. At least the snow is coming down! I swear we’ve lost 2 feet of snow in the last 3 weeks and a foot of that disappeared in the last 4 days. Spring is FINALLY coming!! πŸ˜€

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing · Sewing Room

Paying the Taxman

Sometimes, it’s not all fun and games. Sometimes, we just have buckle down and do the things that need doing before getting the playtime.

I signed up for two block-of-the-month programs at the local quilt shops – one through FibreChick and one through The Cottage Quilter. The FibreChick BotM (Block-of-the-Month) is every third Saturday. The Cottage Quilter BotM is every fourth Thursday. In order to get the block for the next month, you have to bring your completed block to class (both will accept a photo of it through email if you cannot make class, but the photo must be submitted before the class is over) or you pay a fee (I think 5$?) to get the next block. As I’ve stated before, I’ve had a couple of close calls with the FibreChick blocks, occasionally getting them done just a couple of days prior to class. Starting in January, my quilt guild decided to host a BotM learning session at each meeting (first Monday of the month). It is not mandatory to participate with a completed block, but why wouldn’t you do it if (like me) you are very early on in your learning curve?

If you’re counting, that means M has three blocks (or block rows in some cases) to make each month. This last-minute block making isn’t going to cut it at this point, so I’ve set a goal for myself. The goal is to have the blocks completed one week after the class is taught. Since the sessions are usually spread out with a week between each, this gives me plenty of time to do the project without getting a production backlog. I always have the option to drop the ball on the quilt guild blocks without penalty, but I’d rather not do that (although I did totally forget to take said completed row to the last guild meeting because I’m a dumb-dumb – it was even sitting on the counter by the door, for crying out loud! No excuse!).

I did have a bit of a backlog this week due to the Grandma quilt cutting carnage of last week. I had two quilt guild blocks (an optional extra row was offered the first week) and the FibreChick block had just been assigned.

My “chores”

I got cracking on the FibreChick block first. I was very excited about this block because it meant using my new rotating mat!!! Whoo hoo! Plus, it’s a bordered 4 patch that we have to cut up and sew back together – I love these!! πŸ™‚ As long as I don’t make a mistake cutting it, that is … If I have extra fabric, I really like doing these. It’s a bit nerve-wracking with the FibreChick blocks because she supplies the fabric, so if I screw up, it’s Frankenstein block time! I think next year, I’m going to lobby for an OOPS bundle to be offered at additional cost – just a fat quarter of the selected fabrics for OOPSIES!! πŸ˜‰

I just love spinning my centers. They’re the corners where at least 4 block corners meet. Look at all those spun block centers!!! So pretty!! (yes I know I’m boring … moving on)

The quilt guild row-by-row is using scraps. They give us the pattern, we make the rows our of our stashes. My first row (rail fence blocks) was SO. TERRIBLY.UGLY. I’m trying to scrap bust!!! Maybe I should give up on that fabric … I got it through an auction and I’m trying to use it all, but yeck. It’s too bad too because I did some fussy cutting to get all the children facing the right way. I did screw up the blocks, though … maybe it looks funny because it’s too small? The second row (stair step blocks) turned out really well! One of the things that Kelly focused on at the guild meeting was checking your fabrics. The secret to these are not necessarily finding complimenting fabrics, but focusing on different colour weights (read: dark/light shades) of fabrics. That might be part of the problem with my first row – it’s a bit too blendy. Even though these are both cool colours, I made sure one was dark and one was medium light – and look at how much nicer it looks!

I kept building on that theme with the third row (doughnut hole blocks). I decided at the meeting that night that I wanted to use these two fabrics for this pattern, but it wasn’t until I started cutting that I thought I’d try tossing in that hot pink. It is a completely different tone than the other two, but I figured in worst case, I’d just have two ugly rows. It could not have turned out better!! Look at how pretty that looks! And that hot pink really pops in the centers! I might re-do the first row with different fabric if I have a slow time (or at the end of the instructional series). I might need to invest in more colour solids bundles in my future – just plain colour blocks are a beautiful look without adding printed fabrics to them.

I’m starting to get a little drained in my work, though … I need a way to find some energy. And a cutting table is someday in my future – my poor back aches after bending over for an hour straight to cut fabric. I decided to try to break my funk by buying some fabric for curtains! Off I went to Fabricland on Member’s Day to get some fabric. Little did I know that this is the busiest day at our branch all year. There’s parking for 8-10 cars out front, an alley around the back, and about 5-6 staff parking spots in the back. I’ve never seen more than 7 cars out front and thought those were busy days. WELL. Parking lot full to bursting, parking all along the alley, and 7 cars squeezed into the back lot. It was absolutely mental! I swear I saw half the guild there that day. I only got to speak to a couple of them because I got overwhelmed and needed to get out of there. I found a cheap-looking orange lace curtain in the discount bin for $5 – I bought it and escaped! It still took 15 minutes to get out of the parking lot because an ambulance parked in the drive and people had to take turns using the only remaining lane to enter and exit. People kept pulling in, realizing it was full, and having to wait for a break in traffic to back out on to one of the city’s main roads. On a Saturday. At noon. Next door to a Tim Hortons. Utter chaos. I went home feeling more wiped than when I left. So much for getting energized!

The resulting curtains are ugly as sin, but I LOVE them. πŸ˜€ I wanted something bright and warm and boy – are these curtains bright and warm. Some would even say LOUD. They filter the sun a bit so it’s not an intense square of light, which is what I was looking for. When I eventually get the real curtains, I may cut these up to be underneath. It makes my space feel cheery (even though Husband insists that they’re an eyesore). The curtain rod is too long, but that’s because I used one I had sitting around in the basement. When the room is painted and finished, I’ll make everything proper. πŸ™‚

Best part of the week? My Tula Pink Pinkerville fabric arrived!!! This is what I’m planning to make my niece’s quilt out of. Poor little girl has been dealing with a range of medical issues pretty much since she was born. She is the family “princess”, so I thought that this fabric would be a perfect fit for the princess. Now that I have it, I WANT MOAR. Shoutout to Troll Brothers Quilt Design for fussy-cutting my special picks bundle and for scoring me the very last half-metre bundle in her shop when I realized that I needed a stash of this fabric, not just barely enough to give away in a quilt. She had a draw for every pre-order of the fabric with an ultra-rare patch as the prize … and I won!!! I got so excited when she posted that! Stacie, you are the best! (and currently my top-fav online fabric store πŸ˜‰ ). She is located in beautiful British Columbia, so while the odds of us meeting are fairly low (I’m on the far side of the country in Ontario), I do have a bestie in BC that I’ve promised to visit sometime in the near future. I might have to spend extra time to get all my visits in. πŸ˜‰

~M

Sewing Room

Still Getting Organized

Remember how I was going to leave my fabric container solution until summer? Yeah, that didn’t happen – I got spring cleaning fever and just had to fix that mess.

It started with the my cable management system, surprisingly. Under my desk, I have lots of power cables going into the power bar (printer, monitor, tablet charge dock, sewing machine, iron, and table lamp). It worked, but it was a bit of a bear. I have a couple of power bars that I’m no longer using at work, so I brought one home to use. Before you ask, they are not power bars from work – they are power bars that I bought myself and took to work because I needed power bars in my previous role and our department had no extra budget at the time. I just brought my possessions back home.

My first step was to figure out my cabling. I divided my assets into low-draw power and high-draw power. The printer, the lamp, and the tablet charger are all low draw (or, in the case of the printer, turned off 95% of the time), so they can be on the same power bar with a large-draw device. The monitor, sewing machine, and iron are high-draw devices. The monitor is actually more mid-draw as it’s an energy efficient model, but the sewing machine and the iron definitely pull energy. Looking at my room, I realized that there is a second outlet in the room that I could be making use of, but it was not wired up. I asked husband to install the outlet for me and help me put the cover on the ceiling light – ten minute job max with all the precautionary steps taken. I love how he helps me to make our lives more comfortable. Sometimes. Sometimes it makes my life harder … as you’ll see. But harder for the best, always!

Crawling around on the floor, re-cabling, made me cringe. So many dust bunnies!!! Since I currently have an unfinished floor in the sewing room, the rough floor catches the dust and fabric lint. When I sweep, I get a lot of it, but *evidently* the floor snags some and it gets quite yucky. Combine that with the cat and dog fluff and the dust bunnies abound! Out came Mr. MiracleMate (the vacuum cleaner) and away ran the dust bunnies. The difference between sweeping and vacuuming (for me, at least) is that objects don’t get moved when I sweep. I know – I’m a lazy housekeeper. I just don’t see the point of moving things you don’t normally get behind if you’re only pushing dirt. I will get down on my hands and knees to sweep under – just not behind. Vacuuming and mopping justify furniture wrestling for me. And now we see why the bins got re-organized.

I pulled out everything movable and vacuumed. Since I’m now putting things back, I might as well organize the fabric. In addition to this, I inherited a bucket of yarn. I used this opportunity to merge the yarn I was keeping with the yarn I had just gained into a single yarn tub. I now have two tubs for fabric to sort. πŸ˜› This is so very dangerous – now I have more storage room to buy more fabric! All my very future fabric projects (mostly Tula Pink or Craftsy-purchased fabric) and backing fabric went into the bottom bin. All the bits of fabric (fat quarters, scraps, a few yards of fabric not dedicated to a future cause) went into the top bin for easy access any time I need for little projects. The small bins are broken into two sections – denims in one, batting and flannel (for backing baby quilts) in the other. The book boxes were put back on the opposite wall, some extra things placed on top, and everything fits in a single row now!

Whoo hoo, tidying!

During my cleaning adventures, I came across a couple of old quilted pillow shams for an old commercial quilt that had quite literally been worn into pieces. I decided to re-purpose them into stash hiders. While this pile of boxes and totes is organized, it is in no way neat. I took the shams and covered two of the flat areas. This has the added bonus of acting as extra “table” space for spreading out blocks for planning or pressing. Once the ironing board goes up, the area looks very tidy (from most angles).

Finally, I cleaned up my rolling cabinet area beside the cutting table. You may remember the mess from past posts. It’s always been a leaning pile of backing fabric, projects, rules, and extras. Since I pulled apart Mess Mountain to sort the backing fabric into the storage bins, I decided to clean this up as well. You may notice a small tub is still sitting there – this is a very old quilt that my Auntie El made. It’s in very rough shape. I did intend to pull it apart this winter and revitalize it, but I didn’t have the necessary fabric or time to do that. Since it’s the same size and shape as the cabinet, I just left it there with another pillow sham to cover it for neatness sake. All my big rulers are laid out on top for accessible use (ruler organization is definitely a summer project) and the current project pieces sit out on that. Currently, the Grandma quilt … *groan* … the next blog will have FUN things to say about that!

I was supposed to be finished at this point and for 20 glorious minutes, I thought I was … until the wonderful husband decided that today was the best day to buy and install the closet organizer for our bedroom. I’ve been asking for that organizer for a couple of years now, so I should be happy/thankful … except that I have my dressers in the closet right now, so I had to pull everything out and re-organize the bedroom. This displaced a very old cabinet that belonged to my great grandfather. Since the sewing room is the only mostly finished space (well, not only – but the other two bedrooms are in use and have no additional space), it had to move in here. I still had a little bit of organizing energy, I decided to get on it immediately and finish it up.

I pulled apart the book box corner and slid the cabinet into that area. The yarn box no longer fits, but I had an extra space that I was using to store my sewing machine cover, so I just slid it in there. The book boxes are now under the window and the small bins just barely fit between the cabinet and the storage tubs. Whoo hoo! The second pillow sham went on top of the cabinet to protect the wood from the sun and wear&tear. Finally, some of my fabric collections (including the flannel) and some extra thread storage containers went into the cabinet for quick and easy access. There are a couple of personal items from our bedroom that have nowhere else to go still living in the cabinet, but I’m not worrying about them just now. When the Victorian cupboard comes upstairs this summer, I’ll be reorganizing again, so I’ll figure out the cabinet things when that happens. I’m also planning on making drapes for the window to protect my sewing projects from the sunshine, but at this time of year, I’ll take all the sun I can get!

When everything was said and done, I was happy with the result. The sewing room is much more accessible than it was before I started and it’s giving me ideas for Organization Phase 2 this summer. I’m also super stoked about the pressing station. I didn’t realize having the extra space behind the ironing table would be so useful! I someday intend to have an actual cutting and pressing table, but for now, having this is amazing!

~M

Sewing Room

Getting Organized

I had the flu starting last Friday … and boy, did I get sick! I had just a normal 2 days of achy joints and *ahem* fluid accumulation in my nose, but it turned into a sinus infection. My mother used to get those when I was a child and now I owe her an apology – they hurt!! I got sick to my stomach, my jaw ached in several places, my forehead hurt, the orbital bones ached, and I got so light sensitive that I had to wear my sunglasses in the house at night – and we do not have bright lights! I almost went to emerg for relief. Thankfully, some Tylonal Sinus pills and 24 hours got me past the pain part, but I’m still dragging a bit, coughing, and blowing my nose constantly. The internet says that it can go on for up to 6 weeks, so it may be a while before I feel 100%. I felt well enough to go out to a row-by-row quilting class last night, though, so I think I’ll get by if I just take it slowly! Since no quilting got done, I figured I would focus on a different aspect of the hobby this week – organizing our horde of tools and supplies!

Remember in the last blog, when I mentioned that I should get working on the Grandma quilt but might ditch to go shopping? Totally went shopping. *eyeroll* For organizer stuff!!! Unreasonable level of excitement here – I’m a bit of an organizer geek. When I was about 8, I decided to organize my closet. All my things were just piled up on the floor of the closet and it finally got to me. I pulled everything out and scattered it around my room – it was an absolute disaster. My poor neat-freak mother almost had a heart attack when she saw it! I promised that I would put it all back neatly, but I needed time to have a messy room to do it. Wonder of wonders, she let me have my way. It took me threeΒ wholeΒ days to get it cleaned up, but I did what I promised. Things were packed away in boxes and in drawers and I could get into my closet by the end of it. I don’t know how I had the focus to do that as a relatively lazy 8-year-old, but I did and the buzz I got off the organization job has followed me ever since.

During the monthly knit night at the local yarn store, Stix and Stones, we were talking about Marie Kondo’s tidying techniques. I previously watched a couple of episodes to understand the hype. I’m glad to see these ideas going mainstream and people getting serious about tidying. As I said, being organized is sort of my jam. You wouldn’t know it to look at our house, but I’m blaming that on husband’s drywall projects. πŸ˜‰

My bright little sewing room! (pre-reorg)

Today, we talk about my sewing room. I love having things exactly where they are supposed to be. I recently picked up a couple of things at Michael’s to make organization easier.

Scrapbook/project boxes

Scrapbook cases!! For 5$ a pop, it can be an expensive plastic case for just a book. As a quilting project case, it’s a steal! I have a project in each bin. I’m also going to two quilting classes this year. I keep each class’ blocks in a separate case. It makes it so easy – I just grab that class’ case and run! It helps me keep all the directions, scrap fabrics, and new blocks all together. I also have everything for the wedding quilt in one case (including one completed block!), the tiger face project in another case (fabric is all together in the case with the finished blocks), and a couple of sample blocks and paper guides in another. I eventually intend to have all my paper guides in binders, but right now my binders live downstairs, so the papers I’m using hide in the sample box when not in use.

Next: the sewing box. I had a sewing box that my mother bought me when I was maybe 9. It just didn’t hold things the way I wanted, so I bought a slightly larger tray box. Shockingly, this exact tray/box was 3$ cheaper at Michael’s than it was at Canadian Tire … and the color choice was much prettier. I also picked up some divider containers to put in the bottom (6 containers for 5$!). There are some zippers and elastic ribbons under the mashinger quilting gloves (lower picture, right side). I’m so excited by my new sewing box!! I know that probably sounds so terrible, but there you are. πŸ˜›

What about the thread, you ask?? Well, let me tell you, that is locked down! I had a different thread-sorting setup, but I won these cases at the my last guild meeting and I am loving them!! I totally raided the poly-Mettler thread from my wonderful mother-in-law’s stash – look at all the colours! I mostly use these for my bobbin thread while I’m quilting – I can match almost any quilt bottom with this lot! I also used it for the top thread on the eagle quilt because I was changing colours so much. Plus, check out the Glide thread! I am pumped to try this thread on my next quilt!

I keep the odds and ends in my old bathroom cabinet. This includes my water sprays (with a shot of essential oil lavender), the starch spritz, lint rollers, basting supplies … and mah buttons!! LOOK AT THE BUTTON SORTING!!!

Finally, I have my go-to sewing cup. I’m very excited about this. I have a lovely Stash&Store tool organizer that I got from Royal Quilts last fall. I love having all my pointy tools within reach when I’m at the sewing machine, but … when I’m running between piecing, sewing, and pressing, I keep losing things under the fabric and patterns. That’s where the go-to cup comes into play. I keep everything I’m using in one of my spare divider containers. Clip a thread? Toss the scissors right back in the cup. Rip out a seam end? Back in the cup. I even have a spare long-divider cup for the days that I’m also using my rotary cutter. The go-to cups hide out under my monitor, so I always know where to find them. This little trick has already changed my sewing immensely. No frustration over missing tools – they are in one spot every single time I need them.

I still have some work to do – my ruler storage is a nightmare right now and my spare backing is piled beside the door on my husband’s rolling tool box. Also not pictured here are the bins with my fabric stash. I was planning on bringing up my Victorian cupboard this summer after I was done refinishing it to store all the fabric, but it’s either that or the new idea of bringing up the bookshelves to hold my books and hang a design wall on … I will post an update this summer. I’m pulling out everything out of the sewing room and painting it. Since I won’t be actively sewing while I’m doing that, it’ll make a good weekly post. πŸ˜‰

~M

Quilt Designs · Sewing Room

My First UFO

Another first! I’m pulling out my first UFO to complete! It’s not really a UFO – I only packed it away in November so I could focus on the husband quilt, but that’s the longest I’ve left a sewing project so far (the planned but un-executed ones don’t count, right?? As long as you don’t cut the fabric you bought for it, you’re safe). Wait wait … I’m wrong. I have a UFO sampler cut up in a box, but it’s a tiny 20″x20″ sample to play with flying geese. Still doesn’t count!! πŸ˜€

One of the reasons it got pushed to the side was the fabric. I bought part of the fabric from Fabricland, only to realize a month later that I was going to need more of a certain print. Guess what they don’t have any more of??? After a lot of careful measuring and cutting of what I had left (how I regret you, wastefully cut material!), I think I have just enough to finish it with a little creativity one corner block. At this point, I placed up everything I had (including the completed row), popped it in a comforter bag, and focused on my priorities (coughCHALLENGE BAG!coughTIGER QUILT!sniffle). Husband’s quilt = done! Dad’s quilt = done! On to Grandma’s quilt. I do have a wedding quilt to make for September as well, but Grandma is turning 95 in August. If I miss the wedding deadline, the couple should still be here (and married) by next year. 95-year-old grandmothers might not be. That makes her the priority. And this particular UFO was started with her specifically in mind.

The first row – quilt set aside after I got this far.

I got this pattern from the very first episode of the Midnight Quilt Show. It’s an 8-point star quilt featuring two sizes of star. The original pattern makes a 60″x60″ quilt, but I wanted something king-ish sized. I assume that this quilt will be coming back to me when she stops using it and I like quilts with a good length of overhang … so this puppy is going to be 90″x90″. Won’t that be fun to FMQ on my domestic sewing machine!! πŸ˜€

CHINTZ!!!

Step one was figuring out all the measurements at half-again-as much (full size plus half the size – 60+30=90). Second step was the fabric. When I raided the Mother-In-Law’s stash for the husband quilt, I also pulled a bunch of floral/chintz fabric that caught my eye. When I started on this quilt, I went through my pulled MIL fabric and thought some of it looked suitably grandmotherly while still being appealing for my personal use. The only trouble is that it has stripes in it, which could be tough with the 8-point stars because of directional fabric. I wrote up a quick diagram to see if I could get the striped fabric to work for me … and it does!

Scribbles … they make sense to me!!

The secret is to used one striped and one non-striped fabric in each star (I do have one star with two striped fabrics, but I didn’t really have a choice. It looks okay, but not as good as one-striped-fabric only). I divvied up the stuff that worked best together. My two chintz fabrics were from the same line, one with a stripe and one without. The striped went into a large star where I would have space to use it nicely and the non-stripe went into the small star (less stripe space). I know, I know – the stripes don’t totally line up on the cut between the box and the star points. I think it looks okay this way – not amazing, but okay. I know there’s a different way to make these stars without cutting the points off, but I’m still learning and this is the best I can do with the skills I have now. And it’s not terrible – the stripes are still all going the same way, so it doesn’t clash too hard.

The purple fabric pile were the purchased fabrics to round out this quilt. It looks surprisingly good! Since I needed a striped fabric to match my purples, I found the Lavender Meadows fabric at FibreChick and FELL IN LOVE!! I’m super excited about how it looks!

Now, to actually get to work on the dumb quilt. I am soΒ unmotivated!! I don’t know what’s wrong! Every time I go upstairs to work, I wind up making something else completely. So far, it’s been the tiger quilt, my brother-in-law’s wedding quilt planning, and the optional quilt guild row-by-row. I just can’t get excited about it. I’m even bailing on working on it right now to write this blog … heh heh …

Evidently I have better things to do, so I’m going to go force myself to do exactly that. Or ditch completely go shopping!!

~M