Piecing · UFO

Christmas Fig Finish!

Not to give away the post plot, but … I’m done the blocks!!!! YAY!!!

Last block in the list was the Tree of Life. I started the HSTs last week, so the boring part of the piecing was out of the way! I just had to make sure all the triangles were pointing the same way before sewing them together. It went together like a dream. I was even able to spin all the seams on the back! Now I’m wishing I took a picture of that … I did take a picture of the tree trunk before attaching it. I think it looks like an arrow!

That officially means that all my Christmas Fig blocks are done!! Now I just have to square up all the blocks to the right size, put in the sashing, and I’ll have a finished “flimsy”. I just learned that some parts of the world call a finished quilt top a flimsy. Still learning new things here! I like the term. It may show up again. 😉 Now I have to decide if I’m actually going to give up that quilt to the intended owner.

All the finished blocks – PACKED away!

Sorry for the short update this week. Next week – the Tula Pink blocks!! I’m so excited. I have the Tula fabric all picked out. I may even get started before the weekend!

~M

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

Slogging Through

My goal for this weekend was to finish off the remaining Christmas Fig blocks. Spoiler: I didn’t make it, but I can see that finish line coming strong!

After my struggles last week, I decided to start off with the easiest block first. I have three blocks left – the Flying Geese Criss Cross block (ain’t that a mouthful), the Feathered Star block, and the Tree of Life block. I’m saving the Tree of Life block for last – it just seems fitting. The easiest of the two remaining blocks is by far the Flying Geese Criss Cross block. It took me less than 2 hours to put it together and the bulk of that time was spent on the flying geese blocks. I’m not super enthused with this block. It’s yet another example that I didn’t take colour value into account. Even though these two fabrics compliment each other probably better than any other fabrics I paired from this bundle, the light coloured fabrics blend into the background fabric too much. It would have been better to go with white fabrics or just use different fabrics for this pattern, but that how we learn.

On to the Feathered Star block! It doesn’t look much like a feathered star to me. In fact, if it were up to me, I’d call it the Sawtooth Star. Unfortunately, there’s already a block called that. If you compare the two, the Feathered Star looks much more sawtooth-y. I’m calling mine Sawtooth.

I honestly think this was the most challenging block in the book. Some of the others would be very close (the Puzzle block and the Milky Way block come to mind), but this one was most challenging to me, in no small part due to using directional fabric. Thankfully, the pattern was somewhat easy to conceal on the smaller pieces, but I had to make sure the eight big triangles were all flowing in the right direction. You’ll see later.

The first challenge was getting all the blocks sorted and moving in the correct direction. I love having a design wall for this sort of work!!! I know other people have boards about the size of a piece of paper that they arrange their blocks on for piecing. If I am in a place where my design wall is not directly beside my sewing machine, I will absolutely do this as well. It is so handy to be able to arrange it before sewing it to make sure it’s going the right direction. Most of my Sunday was taken up with making the half-square triangles (HSTs) and arranging them on the wall. I decided to make some of the outer blocks before calling it quits and honestly – the wall made life easy. If you’re in to quilting, please please do some form of this. It’s so much better than laying them out on the table – I promise!

Here in Ontario, we had a long weekend! Yay!! That meant I could do more quilting on Monday! First step was to make the remaining outer blocks, which was a snap. Then on to the four inner blocks!!! This is where directional fabric got the better of me. As you can see, the blocks I made last night clearly have dots streaming upwards. There are four more big triangles in the middle with the streaming dots. I got one done, then on a whim I decided to toss it on the wall to see how it worked. Am I ever glad I did!! I had it backwards! So I ripped it off, sewed it back on so the dots were going the right way, then made a second block. Have you ever heard of measure twice, cut once? Well, in quilting, you need to check two blocks, then make one quilt. 😀 My wall experience had spooked me, so I decided to take all the blocks I had made so far and put them up on the wall in the configuration I’d need them to go, just to be sure … and if I didn’t have those two fabrics backwards again!!! I need to mention here – ripping them off and sewing them back on would not have worked here except for the fact that I was working with batiks. The fun part of batik fabric is that there is no back and front to the fabric. The dye goes through to both sides so you can use either side. That made flipping these blocks around possible!

Once I finally got all my dots streaming the same way, I quickly whipped the rows together and voila – Sawtooth the block! I love that you can see the two focus fabrics interacting with each other much more in this block as there is less background fabric. The colours really are pretty. 10 out of 10, would totally make this block again. It’s a lot of effort, but I think it really looks nice.

Sawtooth The Block!

On a parting note, I still have one block left – the Tree of Life. I’ve been dealing with back pain this week due to a very old car accident from my college days that comes back to haunt me once in a while, so I was taking lots of breaks in the piecing process. I did manage to get all the HSTs made before calling it quits. I just need to cut them, press them open, and I’m ready to start piecing that tree!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing · UFO

Nothing to Fear Except Fear Itself

And appliqué. No, I take it back. Appliqué should fill your soul with unholy dread. Fear is too mild a feeling.

One of the reasons the Christmas Fig BOTM project was so easy to sideline were the next two blocks: Carolina Lily and the Triple Lily. They both had appliqué that could not be left out. The first was lots of little appliqué and the second was a big appliqué on curved pieces. Ohhhhh I did not want to start on those two blocks … so it only made sense to make those two blocks my UFO goals for February. Why just two blocks? Oh, I have reasons …

But first the blocks!! I decided to start on the Triple Lily block during Crazy Quilter’s monthly sewing retreat in January. I was very happily surprised that I was fussing over nothing!! The lily blooms were very fun to piece for starters. Because I’ve gotten to the end of the book, I was able to pick whatever fabric I wanted that I had enough scrap of. I decided to re-use the Rolling Stone block fabric because I wanted the blooms to be the same from a distance, but the same up close. I like how they look! When it came to making the stem (curved bias seams appliquéd on), it was so easy and took no time at all! I glued them to the fabric, then did a simple blanket stitch on both sides. I felt like a pro!! And I now had the confidence to move on to the scarier block – the Carolina Lily. As you can see, I still have to trim off the excess fabric before the Triple Lily is complete. The book said to trim it before assembling the block, but I figured it was better to leave it on and cut it to size afterwards.

That same evening, I started in on the Carolina Lily. I got the blooms and bloom base (whatever that part of a flower is called) all put together. I pinned the appliqué on the donkey (HAHA … ohhhh my jokes make me laugh … too bad they’re just funny to me). Then I called it a night and left the unholy dread portion for the next weekend. I mean – I’d done most of the work already, right? It would be a piece of cake!

And unholy dread, it was. Due to my overwhelming success with the curved biased appliqué, I decided to do a satin stitch again. Problem #1 – I did not stabilize anything. I’d love to say that I thought I didn’t need to, but the painfully honest truth is I plain forgot how necessary that is. I won’t ever forget again. Problem #2 – I got cocky. Hands up – who is surprised??? Well … I did not too bad for first half inch. Then the fabric started rolling up underneath itself while I simultaneously discovered I can’t go smoothly around a circle. It was … truly awful. I should have taken a picture, but I was so horrified by the end result that I started ripping it out before I finished cutting it off the sewing machine. You can see the holes below how far off the rails I went. Surprisingly, I was actually able to salvage the fabric and re-do it using the tried-and-true blanket stitch. Time will tell how well these little pieces hold up with use and washings, but for tonight’s post, I’m happy enough with the end product to call this block “Done”.

I decided to give myself a little break and do a quick, easy block to make myself feel like I went the extra mile this month. This is called the pineapple block. I simply LOVE how these colours turned out! I find this block mesmerizing. It makes me want to keep this quilt when I’m done … or maybe just this block? No M – don’t be selfish! You can’t keep all your favourites!

My Pretty Pineapple Block

~M

Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects · Sewing Room

Project Clean-Up

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

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

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

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

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

That is not a pretty liner job …

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

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

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

~M

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

How Not To Bind a Quilt

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

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

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

Floating blocks setting

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

Look at all the pretty colours!

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

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

~M

Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Quilt Designs

Deadline: Smashed

So as of last post, I had already met my UFO goal of getting the Brothers Bear quilt top pieced and had high hopes of getting it completely done. I’m happy to report a 95% success rate!

Basting it up!

On Monday night, I took the top down to the kitchen and basted it with backing and batting. That was my only goal for Monday and (as it turned out) for the balance of the week. Life sometimes gets in the way of sewing. SO ANNOYING. 😉 I did have time to try a new idea! During the days leading up to the quilting, I often think about the blocks I’ll be working on and come up with quilt designs to use. In the past, I printed off a copy of the pattern and doodled lines on it. This week, I made a copy of some of the pictures I used in the last blog post and drew on them with my computer! Isn’t that cool?? It’s not even that hard. I know a lot of others do this using their iPads – evidently, there’s an app that comes with it that you can use to draw on. I have a copy of Adobe Sketch that I used. It helped me figure out what I wanted to do – and for the most part, I stuck to my doodles. 🙂 I changed the rows around a bit, too – I think it works a little better in the final version.

Friday night was my first class for the BOTM this year. I’m doing Tula Pink’s 100 modern city blocks. Why is no one surprised that I’m doing this class?? It’s not just about the Tula in this case. All these blocks are super simple. Even though we’re getting assigned 10 blocks per class, I’m pretty sure I can do all 10 in a couple of hours. It’s a simple way to get some learning in this year without over-taxing my schedule. I’m planning on using up parts of my Tula Pink out-of-print fabric. There’s no point in having fabric you don’t intend to use – at least, that’s what I think. I intend to use up all the fabric I have – I don’t want to be a “collector”. Does that mean I’ll stop collecting cute things that come up for future projects? Of course not!!! I wouldn’t have had the perfect nephew blanket fabric if I hadn’t have impulse-bought the cute Canadian fabric. I’m extremely glad I bought it. 🙂 And I have concrete plans for at least two of my Tula lines – I just need to get to making the quilts. But that’s what this UFO club is for, right? Speaking of …

Saturday was supposed to be my first quilting day for Brothers Bear, but that didn’t happen. Actually, I’m not 100% sure what did happen on Saturday. Oh right – since Ontario is in a state of emergency again, we’re on lock down. Saturday was running around to do curbside pickup of necessities and groceries with an impromptu nap in the middle. I was tired. I was supposed to take vacation in a couple of weeks, but we’re not permitted to be outside except to walk the dog. I don’t mind staying away from people, but if I’m taking vacation, I need to be able to go somewhere to get outside. If I can’t do that, I’m going to try to postpone the time. I’m thinking March instead, but there may be other things that come up to change that. We’ll see! 😉 (not cryptic at all …)

Now we’re on to Sunday. I woke up fairly early for a weekend and decided to get up and get at it. I’m finding that I’m dead for the first few work days if I let my schedule get too much out of whack on the weekend (case in point: writing my blog at 3AM Monday morning since I haven’t been able to sleep. Yay getting old …). I modified my desk as best I could to quilt, then got started. Guys … I quilted the whole top in one day. That’s crazy!!! By the time it started getting dark at 5:30 (winter in Canada is painfully real), I felt like stopping, but I only had 2 1/2 rows left!!! 2 rows were very simple and quick. I couldn’t just stop!! So I powered through and this quilt is officially DUN. 😀 I was so pumped! I even set up the table again (last time for a while!) and trimmed off the edges. Now all I have to do is the binding! That may not happen today due to exhaustion, but I’d like to be able to have it done no later than end of day Tuesday. Imagine submitting a completed quilt for UFO homework when only the top was required!! So pumped.

All quilted up! (minus borders)

Getting it done wasn’t without sacrifices. My back is letting me know that it’s considering spasming out (old car accident from college that comes back to haunt me every so often). My sewing machine was a bit of a casualty as well. The backing for this quilt was a bright green zig-zag flannel. I think it’s common knowledge that I don’t pre-wash my fabric (right now it’s not an option with my washing machine on the fritz). Welp … the bed of my sewing machine has a slight green tint to it now. 😦 I don’t know why they insist on making sewing machines white – it seems like a bad idea for multiple reasons. At least it’s not bright green, just a shade of white with a green tint. And it may rub off with time – I seem to remember this happened to me before and the colour eventually went away. Here’s hoping?

A tint of Elphaba

Don’t let winter get you down. Spring is coming!!! The days are already starting to get longer and January is almost over. Once we’re past the worst month, winter moves along a lot faster. 🙂 We’re almost through!

~M

Piecing · Quilt Designs · UFO

The UFO Club

I’ve joined the Crazy Quilter’s UFO club this year. I’m not planning on taking any classes this year (OK fine I’ve already lied … I think I’m signed up for ONE class, but no more!!), so I figured I could sign up for the UFO club in that absence. Plus, I have a few UFOs that I want to get finished this year if possible. There’s there 3 BOTM classes from last year that I haven’t finished, 2 cut quilt tops that need to be assembled, a baby quilt, the Tiger quilt should really get finished up … and that isn’t including the growing stack of quilts that I have in my drawer that need to be quilted once I get a different sewing desk. I know there are a couple of others that I should get to (like my coral orange slices quilt), but my main focus will be the ones I listed here. First up – the Christmas Fig BOTM quilt!

I know I said that I got a lot more of this quilt done than I thought I did, but I also had a lot more left over than I thought. There are 6 blocks remaining before I can start to assemble it. One block I’ve already done – the Tree of Life – but I kept it as a wall hanging. I will have to re-make it for the quilt. I decided to do what I had done this summer with great success. I cut up the remaining block requirements, tucked them into individual bags, and put them in the corresponding pages of the book. Then I’ll be able to pull one out a day, get it done, and move on to the next. I think my first goal will just be to get all the blocks done and no more. If I have more time than expected, I’ll try to get the quilt top assembled as well! I still need a backing fabric for it … one thing at a time.

It was at this point that I realized that I had my list wrong. The most important goal this month is not the Christmas Fig quilt. It’s the baby quilt!!! You know … the baby that was born in NOVEMBER. I think it’s fine to give a baby quilt a little late, but more than a month starts getting … awkward. So we are switching gears. My first UFO club goal is the baby quilt! I sent my goal of getting the top finished off to CQ and started looking at what needed to be done. Since club due date is January 24th, I didn’t think that I would get the quilt 100% done in 2-ish weeks, so I just committed to the top. Please excuse the orange-y light – my sewing room is not well lit over by the pressing/cutting station and I’m using a yellow-light bulb in the pictures.

UFO 1, ready to go!

As you already know from my last post, I jumped right in and got started on the blocks! This quilt is going to be a little different than anything I’ve done so far, but it will be most similar to the Mile High Eagle quilt. I’ve taken a printed panel, cut it up into strips, and the goal is to make pieced block rows to sew between the strips. Hopefully it works out nicely. And if it’s a bit ugly … my friend had a boy, her second boy. I’m betting on the quilt getting use up and worn out, so it won’t matter if it’s a little bit ugly. 😉 I hope it won’t be, though. I got unreasonably excited about the colours I chose. Now it’s time to see if they will work out!

Panel rows + pieced rows

Turns out that I’m super motivated by due dates. No surprise there. I actually managed to get the quilt top almost completed in the first two weekends! 4 rows completed in Week 1, the last two more complicated rows completed Week 2. Look at that diamond block in the arrow (flying geese) row. Doesn’t that just pull the row together? I’m glad I re-did it, despite the headache it was causing.

Week 1 rows

This is when having a design wall really showed its value. I could put up all the rows on the wall and move them around to get the best layout of the pattern. First off, I decided to get rid of the pale blue panel strip. It just wasn’t adding anything to the quilt and it would be plenty long with just the pretty strips. The other advantage was that I could seen that I was roughly 1 block too long for most of the pieced rows. A few of them have different block sizes, so I’ll need to cut the row mid-block, but that’s fine. Getting the layout is very helpful at this stage!

Once I had the layout, I clipped all the rows together to start the final top piecing. My goal for Monday (pending a catastrophic event) is to get the top pieced and trimmed!! If I have time to baste, I’ll start quilting by the weekend. With any luck, I’ll actually have it quilted and bound by Sunday! It’s nice to be ahead of the curve 🙂

Clipped for sewing!

~M

Binding · Finished Projects · Piecing

Pride Goeth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cut just a LITTLE to short. 😦

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

~M

Piecing · Quilt Designs

Doubling Down

I mentioned making twinsies quilts for my nieces from Peter Pan fabric, remember? Super cute? 😀

Peter Pan by Sarah Jane, Michael Miller Fabrics

I got a quite a bit of work done on them during the last week. Last weekend was a remote sewing retreat hosted by the Crazy Quilter on a Bike. It’s a really good excuse to stay glued to my sewing machine for long stretches at a time. I got so much done!! But first … The prep-work. 😛

Honestly, getting the quilt cut up took longer than putting it together. And quilting it. Yeah … cutting it took FOREVER. That was slightly my fault, though.

I wanted to make big squares that featured the fabric, so after some study, I decided to make a snowball quilt! Super simple block. It’s supposed to be an easy sew where you put squares on the four corners, sew point to point, then cut off the excess and iron the corners out. Here’s an example picture I borrowed from www.thesprucecrafts.com.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric for the corners. I wanted to do two fabrics in the corner and I still didn’t have enough. SOOOO LAME. So I had to cut the squares in half, measure the fabric on the corners, pin down, then sew. It was roughly 3 times the work … but I did it and it looked pretty good!

Once all the blocks were cornered up and pressed, the process went really fast! I had both quilts pieced together in about 1.5 hours. And it only took that long because I totally mixed up what pieces went where … M’s head was NOT in the game. 😀 But it got done! My quilting table is locked in the basement behind husband equipment, so I disrupted his nap and kicked him out of the bed so I could use it to baste the quilt. I’m so mean. 😛

Snowball quilt top

By the end of the afternoon, I was all niece quilted out. I switch gears and started working on Christmas gifts. I’m working on a table runner for my mum (since she didn’t get one last year). After an hour and TOTALLY BOTCHING IT, I quit for the night.
So.Much.Ripping.Out. Urrrrrrrrgh.

Starting this past week, I got to the quilting! I decided to do something super simple. Thank goodness … what with computer being set up on the quilting desk, it turns out that I can’t do the quilting the way I used to. I’m going to need to figure out a different desk setup in order to quilt up the way I like to. For now, I’m going to just focus on piecing up my UFO quilt tops and store them for now. Then I’ll have to go on a quilting bender. 😀 I got super excited to try a new technique, though!

Actually, it’s two quilting techniques. The first technique is walking-foot quilting. It’s really good for quilting *relatively* straight lines or stitch-in-the-ditch quilting. I did a bit of both! The straight lines were extra fun because I decided to use the decorative stitches that come with my sewing machine!

This is something that I’ve been meaning to try for a while. I did try with the binding, but I had nothing but problems. I think I picked a stitch that was too complex, but it was still worth trying to find out it didn’t work. I think a simple side-to-side decorative stitch will work on the binding, but nothing that goes back and forth. The medium intensity stitches seem to work fine for quilting! I was looking for something that would match up with the pattern in the fabric. Some of the fabrics have tiny little six-point stars printed on them. I found a couple of stitches that looked very similar, so I made a little test-strip with fabric, batting, and backing to test with. Another excellent feature that I love about my sewing machine is the ability to create “custom” stitches. I mostly used it to stitch out basic labels in the past, but I used it here to put a lot of straight stitches between the stars as I didn’t want a full row of star stitch after star stitch. I finally settled on a length that I liked, saved it to my favourites, and switched over to the quilt!

As of this entry, I have one quilt almost 100% complete! The other quilt has already been basted and is waiting for its turn under the needle, then I just need time to trim and bind! That shouldn’t be too much work! I have two job interviews coming up this week, though, so I won’t be doing much on this until Thursday. I may not have much time to quilt much of anything before next Friday, actually, so don’t be surprised if there isn’t much of an update next week.

I leave you with this: A FINISHED SPOOL!!! I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but this was my first big long-arm sized spool of thread. I bought it to make the husband quilt almost two (TWO YEARS ALREADY!!) years ago. You may remember that I had all sorts of issues with thread breakage, so I stopped using it for quilting and started using it for piecing. I’ve used it almost exclusively to piece my quilts and I finally used it up! I remember being a little scared that I’d spent 50 whole dollars on it, but look at how long it’s lasted and how much I’ve done with it! Totally worth the price for the amount of use. I think I’ve pieced 6 quilts with it so far, so that rings in at under $10 per quilt for thread and that was after doing all the stitching on the husband quilt with it. I’ll be doing that again!

Bye bye Superior Thread!

~ 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