Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sewing 480 Squares is Faster Than...

attempting to get one more quarter of my appliqué round of my round robin done for this post.  Seriously.  I cannot get over how time-consuming and labour-intensive this appliqué is.  I feel like I am doing something wrong.

Here it is as of last night.  I took a break from it today.


It is all sewn down except for the pink flowers, the top stems, (and I know, the one on the left is a little wonky in one spot but it will be covered by a purple ball) and two of the leaves.  I also am making the parts for the two remaining quarters as I go, so hopefully those last two will go relatively quickly, fingers crossed.

We had company today, but I did get in a couple of hours of sewing to work on the May Scrap-a-Palooza quilt.  I now have 24 blocks done, which is where the 480 squares title of the post originates.


I'm loving all these blues, and reminiscing about the projects from whence they came.  Quite an array.

As for the green dilemma, I went with Joanne's (Canuck Quilter) suggestion, looked for another green, and found one, a scrap from the first quilt I made one of my sisters.


I'm hoping, fingers crossed yet again, that there will be enough.  I used the Robert Kaufman app again today and I might just... barely... touch and go...have enough.  I will be following Cynthia's layout very closely, being a copycat extraordinaire this time.

I was feeling a little stressed today that I haven't got very far in these projects, and I haven't been as regular of a blogger.  Then I gave myself a mental shake, and thought seriously?  You are creating stress!  So, although I do have a deadline for this round robin as well as the paint chip challenge, both due in mid-September, I need to chill-ax.  There's no competition, no blog police! Right?!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Scraps and Apps and Appliqué

I am having a blast with another of Cynthia's of Quilting is More Fun than Housework scrap-a-palooza quilts, this one the May quilt, which you can see here. I love playing with the colours in my stash, and I love piecing.  Love.  It.

I misunderstood her first directions to have lots of contrast, so I only cut 2.5" squares of dark and light blues, and had pretty much decided on an off-white with a bit of a salmon and kind of dull gold fleck in it for the zigzags.

And then, I saw hers coming together and realized, duh, contrast between the blues and the zigzags, dummy!  So I happily cut up a few a ton of mediums, and this past weekend allowed myself to start playing, sewing them together into blocks.  I decided to do both Block A and Block B, and see where it takes me; if I hate it, I can just add another row to Block B to make a Block A, right?

I let it sit for a few weeks, as I wasn't sure about the off-white for the zigzags, and I was working on a couple of other things.  I kept thinking how I do love blue and green together, so last night I shuffled through my green stash and found these two fabrics.


I quite like it!  What do you think?  I think the ivory would make for a duller, as in quieter quilt, but I still might do it just for fun.  I might have enough blue squares cut for a second quilt!  And a third...not gonna lie.  Unfortunately the dilemma now appears to be that I do not have enough of either green for the zigzags for my planned size, 7X8 blocks.  Ugh!  My quilt could be 6X7 blocks, which would be 48X56", so not a bad size for a lap quilt.  I did download the app Cynthia mentions, Robert Kaufman's Quilting Calculator, The Quilter's Little Helper.  I tried it just now, and my mathematical calculations of last night were about right.  But so much faster with this cool little app, which does much more than tell you how much yardage you need for 21 blocks that are 4.5" by 8.5" for example!

In my searching through the medium blues, I came across these beloved, blast from my quilting past fabrics:
My face is red from embarrassment, but these little babies are...


dear god....


from 1996.  I'm sorry, Cynthia!  I can't believe I have scraps that old!  Okay yes I can...  This was my very first quilt out of a quilting magazine, all cut with a rotary cutter, and all fabrics except the muslin backing, bought from Lori's Country Cottage, my then LQS.  My daughters, aged 8 and 10, stitched the strings of the mittens.

Here it is today:

It was my first attempt at stippling.  Not a quilted stitch in those burgundy borders, gulp!  I copied out this poem on the back, one I liked from our guild newsletter:


Gak!  WHAT is that brownish-red spot?  If you thought blood you are right.  I wish I had a story to go with it, but I've got nothin'.  Can't recall how that got there.  Nor why I haven't managed to get it out, since the quilt has been washed several times.  It sits out for the month of December and January (well, now only part of the month of November since we head south for the winter!) draped over a chair or a bench.  I'm happy to see that the Micron Pigma pens have held up so well.  The date on the opposite corner where the label is, a pre-made one that Lori's used to give out for free with a purchase, is December 1996.

I still do love these blue fabrics, especially the one with my two favourite shapes, hearts and stars, on it.  I'm glad they have found their way into this latest quilt.

I also am plugging away on my round robin:

Stole the idea from Judy at Quilt Paradigm to use a sampler as the background for the photo
There you have a half hour of work:  cutting out the shapes I'd traced from Steam-a-Seam 2, placing them on fabric, cutting again, leaving a slightly less than 1/4" seam allowance, folding seam allowance under, and gluing with gluestick, pressing.

And another half hour for these tiny petals, which are 1 1/4" finished in length
Linking up for Anything Goes Mondays at Stitch by Stitch.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Gears for My Gearhead - A Finish!

Yay!  I did meet my July goal for ALYOF, aka A Lovely Year of Finishes over at Sew BitterSweet Designs, so I am linking up with her!  For this linky, you link up during the first 7 days of the month to Melissa's monthly post, and then again during the last 7 days of the month with your finished project to a Finishes post.  My July project was completing this wallhanging, the pattern for which I purchased at the Sarasota Quilt Guid show in spring 2013.

Pegged onto his toolbox
My husband has a "wall of fame" behind his toolboxes where he has photos of his gearhead gramps, who was the mechanic for the motorcycles of the Windsor Police department.  This will go there.  I have a cool idea using actual gears and welding wire for hanging it.


Couldn't believe my find of this gears fabric, Free Spirit's "Be A Man", on sale in Rainbow's End Quilt Shoppe in Dunedin, FL.  I bought 2 yards, so I have nearly all of it left!  At the time I knew I would make something else for him with it as well.


Outdoor shot of the quilt, but geez Louise, I realize what good lighting he has in his garage when I see how little difference there is between the first and this shot!


I did a similar echo and spokes free-motion design for the gears as they did on the pattern, although I also outlined all the holes and knobby-things.  I decided to do Leah Day's "Circuit Board" in the background and I love how it turned out.


Here's another shot.  I used Floriani olive green rayon thread for the filler quilting and on some of the gears, as well as teal on other gears.  You can see on the shot above that I also outlined one of the gears that is drawn on the photo transfer.  I used a blanket stitch to apply both the wheat fabric and the photo transfer onto the background block.

Newsflash:  (and don't tell Avril, my Avanté, lol) but I do sooo love free-motion quilting, my Machingers on, on my Bernina.  It just feels so right.  Hopefully after 20 years on Avril, I'll feel as comfortable and at ease, as confident and at home...you get the picture.

(Update) Newsflash #2:  I was sewing just now, and it hit me, as I put away the fabrics for this little quilt, that I used several scraps!  The wheat fabric is from my brother's quilt, and except for the brown and 2 of the 3 gears, the fabrics are from previous projects.  I'm putting my scraps to work and I don't even know it!

I decided to do a facing instead of a binding.  Melanie shows a nifty way to mitre the corners on her Moda Bakeshop tutorial here.

Although the instructions were frustrating, I am very happy with the end result.  I think my gearhead husband quite likes it too.

Quilt Details:
Fabric:  100% cotton and a photo transfer
Size:  17 X 12 3/4"
Pattern: purchased
Machine appliquéd and quilted on my Bernina


Bella LOVES her present we brought home the other day.  I've had to move it to the basement as she woke us up a couple of several times over the past two nights, playing and scratching and diving and romping and catching furry mousies in it...  As Jude pointed out, we love the irony of the cat in the belly of the fish!

I am also linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for my Whoop!  Whoop! this week.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gears Progress!

Woo hoo!  Despite being away for the majority of the day, and I mean 9-5, I did put in a few hours, (yes!! cutting out these gears was Tedious, capital T intended) working on this little quilt.





It is my Finish-Along goal for July, so I just might finish 2 out of the 3 I've submitted for Melissa of Sew BitterSweet Designs A Lovely Year of Finishes since joining in May.

I bought the pattern at the Sarasota Quilt Guild Show in spring 2013.  It has my husband written all over it.  The pattern includes the blackline masters for the gears and the photo transfer already on fabric.  The instructions are non-existent for assembling the quilt background.  The pattern calls for  "a 7"X11" strip of brown and gold fabric" and "1/2 yd dark background fabric and facing or binding", yet the quilt finishes at 17" X 12 1/2".  Um, okay?  Inside the envelope, in red ink they've added an additional fabric to cut:  "1 1/2" X 12 1/2" strip for below the wide contrasting strip (same as background)". 

Do you see this 1 1/2 X 12 1/2 strip on their quilt picture?  I sure don't... 


Come to think of it, I don't see this "wide contrasting strip".  They haven't once mentioned that except for that phrase in red.  And it gets even better.  On the envelope it calls for optional dark brown sheer fabric.  Yet on the inside 1 1/4 pages of instructions it is never once mentioned, unless "optional piece of non-woven polyester (dark brown)" is one and the same.  Come on!  Consistency people!!

"Confident beginner".  Uh, nope.  A confident beginner would be pretty stumped as to how to get the quilt to this point.  At least "quilt as desired" can be seen on the pattern picture, so there's that.

It's definitely not worth the $15 I paid.

So tomorrow is layering, appliquéing and quilting this sucker to have it DONE!  I do really like it; I just don't like the very poor and minimal instructions. I'll be appli-quilting by the way.  I'm serious.  Note the new button on the sidebar, a not always true one, because I usually, like most firstborn children, do follow the rules!

And yes, I know, I know: I'll also be working on the other appliqué quilt in my world right now, my Self-directed Round Robin.

Loved listening to my YouTube New Rock playlist tonight.  I have a new love, Bastille!  Great English new rock band.  Also Tom Odell's "Another Love", not really new, but god, I love his voice and his piano playing in that song in particular.  There isn't a day goes by without music for me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cool tools on a Tuesday

I thought I'd show you a little tool I bought years ago, made by Clover, that I'm using again, and really liking.  No, I'm not getting any money or being sponsored for this!

I decided to work outside yesterday as it was just too darn lovely to be in the basement.  I also wanted to be beside my fur kids.


I am working on the a-a-a-appliqué of my as yet unnamed (although there are some names for it I've uttered which I won't print here) Self-directed Round Robin.  I need to create a fair amount of stem out of two different greens, so that is what I tackled yesterday afternoon on the patio.


The stems finish at 1/4".  Which makes me twitch a little just thinking about that.  I start with a bias strip that is about 1/16 more than 1/2" wide.  The Clover bias tape maker takes a lot of my twitches away with its ingenuity.  The Amazon source is just one I found; I bought mine years ago at either Fabricland or my LQS.

It has a section where you feed the roll of Steam-a-Seam paper-backed fusible pre-cut to slightly less than 1/4" in width.  The rolls are sold separately.  You feed the bias strip in underneath the fusible strip and much like the rolled-hem foot for your machine, it rolls the edges in, and as you gently pull on both the fusible and the fabric, you iron (with another of my favourite tools) the two together as they come out of the little gizmo.  Slick!  You do get a slight bump where there is a seam from joining strips together, but I have found that folding the edge under with a stiletto as you sew it down usually works just fine to finish that edge.

The iron is another Clover product, basically a curling iron, or soldering iron with a mini iron foot on the end.  It gets VERY hot, and I might have some blisters or burn scars to show just how it barbecues your skin in seconds.  If you click here, you will see the irons and (woo hoo!) I just found out there is a Clover Iron II as well as a larger footed tip available!  Dangerous...

I still have to make more of the darker green stem, but I think I have enough of the vibrant green.  And I still have thousands, well maybe hundreds, of flower pieces to go...  This HAS to be done for the September show, as does the paint chip challenge I wrote about.  At the rate I'm moving (rather, being distracted by other fun projects) this summer, it's going to be touch and go.

Distraction Numbers 8 to 12:
Only block #5 lower right corner, and the hot pink solid are not scraps from that quilt!

Some more of the Tula Pink City Sampler blocks that I made using mainly scraps from my Over and Under quilt, which might just go on the frame next, now that Floral Dreams is off.  These are a lot of fun.  Finishing at just 6", there are some TEENSY pieces!

And one of the biggest ongoing distractions:
This incredible view from our patio

Blue skies, blue shimmering waters, greenery above and below and beside me...good for the soul.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Better Floral Dreams Finish Pictures

So I had a soggy morning and first part of the afternoon sitting at the Folk Fest Booth at the Farmers' Market.  Eventually it dried enough and the sun came out, bonus, for me to walk over to Lakeside Park to take some outdoor shots.

Talk about timing.  I turned onto the park path at the end of the street to see a flock of turkey buzzards on the ground at the shore!  Usually they are floating high up on the thermals.  They are HUGE, chicken-sized birds, black with a red head.  The only other time I have ever seen this many on the ground was this past winter in Florida close to our condo. We think there was a carcass nearby they'd been feasting on.  This time?  No clue.
Two or three more circled in for a landing as I watched. So glad I had the iPad with me and not my iPhone!
Up until early spring, this used to be a weed and rushes-filled sandy marsh for birds, turtles at one time, and who knows what other wildlife.  I've seen groundhogs several times here too.  For some reason, one which annoys me deeply, the town has seen fit to raze the grasses here this spring and summer.  I've heard they are planning on putting a pier here, and continuing the walkway along the lake.

I turned the corner from here and saw the spot for picture #1, under a giant cottonwood tree.
Okay, this quilt, Cynthia's June Scrap-a-Palooza Bricks quilt, is 52" wide.  Kind of gives you an idea just how wide a diameter this ancient tree has...
I think if I lay down and had a nap on this quilt in this spot, I just might wake up 100 years from now à la Rip Van Winkle...  Trees hold a special place in my heart, always have done, especially since driving through Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island.

Close-up showing some of the texture of this oh-so-fun spiral surrounded by feathers pattern from Cheryl Malkowski's Doodle Quilting:

Did you notice the "magic" bridge in the first photo?  That was where I was originally headed to photograph the quilt, well, there and the flower gardens.  Fairies and gnomes live here, they do....
This is Mill Creek, so cool because in Edmonton, where I grew up, there was a Mill Creek close to our house!  The creek flows into Lake Erie right here, but in this shot the creek flows into the lake flows into the sky!

One last quick shot here (sniff) as someone else had designs on photos at this 90-year-old bridge...
Look closely, near the top of the pic.  You might spot some actual "fairies"!
Yes, a wedding party was headed for the very same spot, a popular one for wedding photos.  I'd have loved to snap a pic of four of the (downright stunning) crystal-blue-eyed little ones, who followed me, an unwitting Pied Piper, for some time!

Two shots of the back.  Lovely texture on the lovely and soft brushed flannel backing.   I liked the shadow-play too, not gonna lie...


The handmade-by-moi label, sewn onto the backing this time, but quilted through:

I made my way to the flower gardens, on which the Horticultural Club is working so very hard this year, adding a multitude of plants to them, as well as sprucing them up with new cedar chips.
Just had to include this magical shot of Floral Dreams
By a late-blooming hydrangea
Rolled up.  Love a striped binding.


When I got back home (had to take the long way since the bridge was slightly unavailable, which is what led to the shot above!) I took one last photo to show off the texture.  I haven't washed this baby yet, not sure if I should before selling?  What is the protocol?
I am linking up to Sarah's (Confessions of a Fabric Addict) Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?  You should  check out her Friday post, which tells all about her Christmas in July fundraiser to help bring a special needs child from China to the US for her daughter's family to adopt.  Quite the wonderful story.

Upcoming project!
Whaddaya think?  Bella approves. This cat ADORES new-to-her fabric.  Well she also had a grand old time with the paint chips until, much to her annoyance, I pulled them out of her mouth...but not before she chomped a couple of tooth marks into the one corner.  Terrific. as the paint chips have to be displayed with my quilt.
Just what is going on here anyhow?  It's our paint chip challenge for the September show.  You got the fabric (fat 1/8th) and 3 paint chips for $8.  You make a small quilt that incorporates the focus fabric and three fabrics that match your paint chips.  You may add as many other fabrics as you like.  I am hoping to do a kaleidoscope.  It's been some time since I have done one, à la Paula Nadelstern.  The brown and the orange on the outside are extras; the centre 3 are the fabrics I think closely match the paint chips.  Bella has moved my row apart slightly; they were lined up nicely.  See? another reason to have an ample stash, as there was no need to go to a fabric store to pull matching fabric!  Yay!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Shortest. Post. Ever.

I have Floral Dreams finished, and can just make it in time for Laura's TGIFF linky party.  Today it's hosted by Izzy of Dizzy Quilts.

Sorry for terrible lighting, blurriness, and inside shots, but my eyes are blearly (so maybe the photos AREN'T fuzzy??!!--here's hoping) and if I took the quilt outside, well...let's just say it's darker than the inside of a cow out there, as it's 10:30 and my bedtime...

Here you are:

I'm really happy with the edge-to-edge spiral+feathers pattern I free-motion quilted over the entire top.  I used a rayon thread in ivory so there's a gentle sheen to the quilting.

A quick view of the back:
Love how the quilting shows up so well.  It's a brushed flannel I had in my stash, bought for a quilted jacket lining that...well...never happened.

One last shot for tonight:
This quilt is for sale, but I haven't listed it -- wait I don't even HAVE a tab to list it on yet! -- on my "coming" Quilts for Sale.  You can always email me if you just have to have it...

I will take some better outdoor pics tomorrow, weather permitting in the afternoon.  I'm volunteering, sitting in the Kingsville Folk Fest booth, from 7:30-1:30 at our Farmers' Market tomorrow!

Quilt Details:
Size: 52 X 54"
Fabrics: scraps from Moda's Simplicity and Seaside Rose lines
Pattern:  June Scrap-a-Palooza Bricks quilt from Quilting is More Fun Than Housework