Saturday, 26 December 2015

Getting Some Quilting Finished

This quilt has been sitting, folded up, for two years, waiting to be quilted. I just couldn't find my mo-jo to do it. I'm on it now. It's for my littlest niece who is now 6 - it was intended for her 2nd birthday - oh well. Better late than never. She wanted animals on her quilt, so that's what she got.

I started quilting with some purple/green variegated thread that I bought at one time for this project:

I don't like it. It's too dark. Thankfully, I'd only quilted 2 blocks when I decided it was too dark so I spent an afternoon on the couch, watching a movie, and unpicking the quilting.

I then switched to a light purple which I like much better:

It's subtle and I feel like it complements the quilt, rather than taking it over. And my wobbles don't show as much.

I've been using a combination of quilting stencils and free hand free-motion to quilt this. I tried a design I saw online - I'm pretty sure it was one of Angela Walter's Craftsy classes.

 It's a paisley-like filler and it's in the 3 blocks above. It's hard to see so I got an up close shot - it looks yellow here, but it's not.

From the back:
It's a little easier to see here. I really like how it turned out. It was simple to do and filled the space nicely. I didn't wobble too much, even when my cat tried to jump on top and didn't quite make it.

I hit a bit of a snag in a block that has pinwheels. I don't remember what I did in the centre of these pinwheels but they are really thick and sticking up quite a bit. I needed everything secure but didn't want to quilt through the centre because of the thickness. I used this quilt stencil and it turned out great. The centre still sticks up, but it looks like it's because of the quilting, rather than piecing/pressing.

I want to get this finished as soon as possible so I can get a fresh start on my selfish sewing for 2016. I hope you're getting some quilting time in for yourself these days.

Sunday, 20 December 2015


I just finished this table runner for myself. I think I'm in love.
I like whimsical and this fits the bill. When I saw this in my local LQS I bought it immediately, and I have other fabrics from the line to make myself a quilt of some kind. I have a few ideas but can't seem to commit to a design. Something will come to me I'm sure.

This is the overall shot. The fabric line is called Ho Ho Ho, but I don't remember the designer. This pattern comes from a book that uses this fabric line.

I quilted straight lines in the green borders and around each letter and shape. Then I added some snow flakes - I'm very proud of them. Each snowflake is different.

I used my usual method of tracing a design onto the paper on the table at the doctor's office. Then I quilt it and tear off the paper.

This is a good example of selfish sewing for me. There will be more of this in my future - I'm naming 2016 as my year of selfish sewing - more on that later.

Monday, 21 September 2015

My Productivity Has Dramatically Dropped

I went back to work on Sept 8th after having been off for 7 months - it hasn't been great on many fronts. I love my job and I'm enjoying my new teaching assignment. Unfortunately, I went back to work with a sinus infection (that I thought was cleared up, but it wasn't) that went from bad to worse. I was off half the week last week, back in today, but I maybe shouldn't have been. I've been on antibiotics for 3 weeks or so and have another 9 days to go (not that I'm counting or anything). I am feeling better, but this thing has kicked my ass.

I did manage to make myself a new pencil case. I have to move around a lot this year and was suffering for an organizational solution. I remembered the sew together bag that a friend has and I got busy.

I used Tula Pink's new fabric line Eden and I love my new pencil case. I have 1 progress shot:

And one shot of it full of my stuff. It holds a lot:

My sister might like one for make up brushes - I'm hoping she does then I can cross one thing off my Xmas list.

p.s. I used this tutorial to help - has a lot more photos than the pattern and helps it all make sense.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Last week, on Aug 26th, someone said to me - "you know, 4 months today is Boxing Day". I shuddered a little.

I enjoy Christmas and getting ready for it. I usually spread my preparations out over Nov and Dec. Some years I'm really ready and some years I'm not. Last year I put up a tree, put lights on it, but didn't get any decorations on it. I'll be better prepared this year.

My friend Button's Quilts has a friend who needed some crafting done. (I should mention that Button's sends a LOT of business my way, which I really appreciate!). The friend's mother started making these fancy Christmas stockings for her grandkids, daughter, and son-in-law, and has been unable to finish them. So, I've been hired to finish. The daughter wanted a few things customized and I said I could do that as well.

I finished the first stocking this week:

One of the customizations is a pleated back - so that the stocking can hold more goodies. The backing looks like this

To make it, I traced the stocking front onto pattern paper, then drew some registration lines, then cut it apart and expanded the pattern. Then I re-folded it and cut the bottom out - around the heel of the stocking is a funny shape. Here's what my pattern for the back looked like

It looks pretty strange, but once it was pleated, everything lined up and it fit great.

The final Christmas prep this week has been cutting and doing a rolled hem on some table napkins. A different friend hired me to do these as a gift for her mother.

These are 100% cotton and measure 13" x 13".

This should be it for the really Christmas-y stuff for a bit. I'm heading back to school shortly and I'm trying to get some of my loose ends tidied up before then.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Babies Everywhere

The school where I work has a higher than normal rate of baby production. Our staff is large and at that age and stage. If I know the new parent well enough, and like them, I usually make something for the baby.

This set is for a baby boy that is due in October. The shower is mid Sept (and I'm invited) and I got a head start on what I wanted to make for this baby. I'm very fond of these parents.
3 pairs of crib shoes (different sizes), a knit hat cuz he's a winter baby, and 3 bibs
This gift is for a baby girl born in August. I know the dad, but not the mom.

A knit hat and 2 bibs
And finally, my naturopath, who I'm very fond of and who really likes my handmade items, had a baby girl in July.

2 pairs of crib shoes (different sizes) and 2 bibs
I like making things for new babies - it feels like an especially warm welcome into the world. The parents always love what I've made (and if they don't, they don't tell me).

Sunday, 23 August 2015

What I've Been Up To

I was in a bit of a quilting mania earlier this month (at least it felt like it) and I've slowed down a little lately. I don't have any looming deadlines and I know I work better under a bit of pressure.

I have been doing some sewing and crafting bits though.

I'm working (still) on cleaning up my sewing room and I took a stab at my cabinets. This is my before picture.

It looks slightly better now, but I'm still not finished. All in due time!

Remember the clamshell quilt I made on retreat that wasn't big enough? This one

I found and ordered some more fabric  online to complete the quilt so it's big enough for a single bed. I ordered from two different US shops in order to get what I wanted (and with the Cdn dollar right now, I cringed). One store delivered and I got these last week

A coordinating solid, two prints I already used, and a 1/2 yard of an ombre stripe from the line.
The other shop hasn't delivered anything: they haven't charged my paypal and aren't responding to phone calls or email messages. I wonder if they've closed up shop and not taken down their website? I'm going to wait a little longer to see if they come through before I get going on this quilt again. I'm going to have to take a lot of it apart and I'm hoping for all the fabric I ordered to arrive. (It's Coquette by Chez Moi by Moda from about 4-5 years ago, colour is Petal).

Finally, I've been hired by the friend of a friend to complete some Christmas stockings that have great sentimental value. There is a lot of hand stitching and I'm finding it quite relaxing (once I set up a system to help me be organized and efficient). I'm making progress fast enough that I'm not getting bored.

There were a number of customization requests by the recipient - including adding the Mrs. Claus in the toe (there was originally an elf there). I'm hoping to finish this one this week, then work away at the others asap.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Quilt Retreat Part 2

This is part 2 of my retreat - the "less" part of the finished quilts.

My goal on the retreat was to finish 2 quilt tops - and I was sort of successful. There are 2 finished tops, but the second isn't big enough so I'll have to add to it, which might require doing some un-sewing.

Here is what's done so far

This is for another 5 year old, daughter of yet another cousin. (We had 3 little girls born two weeks apart one year, with another to follow a few months later - hence, the plethora of 5 year old girls in my family)

I used the "chic shells" pattern by Sew Kind of Wonderful, which uses the quick curve ruler. I think I'm in love with this ruler (it is the same I used for the metro rings quilt). I had 7 pieces of fabric I purchased years ago, each 1/2 yard. I figured out my math and figured I could make it work. Not such a good idea.

I had an epic math fail. I failed to account for the partial clams on the sides and top and so I was significantly short fabric and clams. I dug into what I'd brought along - the lightest pink then got added. I was closer to the size I wanted, but still not. This is destined to be a twin size and it's more crib size. It's basically wide enough but missing some significant length.

When I got home I hunted on the internet and found enough of the fabric (Coquette by Chez Moi for Moda) to add to the quilt. I've ordered it and it should arrive shortly. It will cost me a small fortune due to US shipping and our poor dollar, but this little girl is worth it! I'll probably have to rearrange some of the clams so everything looks orderly and that will require un-sewing. I'll survive - and make sure my math is better next time.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Quilt Retreat Part 1

I was lucky enough to be invited on a quilting retreat again this year. I went with my friend, her grandmother, and friends of her grandmother. These women have known each other for years and are good company and excellent sewers and quilters. There is so much support and experience in the room it's so fantastic.

Unfortunately, this was our last retreat at the place we went because the owner has sold the property. I've only been there twice and am sorry to see it sold. Hopefully we can find another venue for next year. (And I'm hoping we can convince L to come along).

I finished two quilt tops, more or less. The more part is today.

This is a quilt for my cousin's 5 year old daughter. This little lady has a mind of her own and loves pink. I hope this meets with her approval!

This is the finished top...

I've always had a dresden plate in mind for this quilt and I'm so happy with how it turned out.  I used an 8" dresden ruler and it took 20 pieces to make a circle. I varied the height of the fabric to get the different sized dresdens. The inside circles are all the same size.

The original fabric I purchased years ago didn't suit my fancy anymore so I picked up a bunch more pink last week when I was out with L shop hopping. I'm really glad I went with the new fabrics.

The centres are a solid that I've appliqued on - by machine. The dresden's are appliqued on by machine as well. Before putting the solids on I added a circle of batting to the back of them for two reasons - I'll get some extra puff when I quilt them and the uneven centres of the dresden's are hidden as well.

This will likely get a feather design of some kind when I get to quilting it. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Progress Update

The quilting on the red and white Hunter's Star is going well. The quilt is huge so slow going as I have to re-package it to do each row. Today I finished off all the horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. You can't tell much from the front - except where I wobbled out of the ditch, and I'm not pointing those out. The quilting shows up nicely on the back though.

This is pretty accurate to the colour.

I decided to quilt around the stars as well cuz I like what it adds to the back

Tilt your head a little if you can't see it - it was getting dark so the colour and lighting are terrible.

I'm definitely on track to finish for my Sunday deadline - the reunion starts mid afternoon so I might still be sewing binding on Sunday morning. It wouldn't be the first gift I made that was getting finished just in the nick of time.

Happy sewing.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Keep Calm and Quilt On

It's stinking hot here in Southern Ontario these days - high 30s with humidex and I think the heat is starting to get to me.

I'm working on quilting the hunter's star for my cousin, trying to meet my Sunday deadline. And I've emailed my cousin to tell her I think it might be finished.

One thing I've really had to do with this quilt is package it before feeding it through the machine. I've moved from quilting at the dining room table back to the sewing table, so I can package the quilt at the dining room table.

This is the view of how it goes in the machine from above

And this is the view from the side.

It's folded up a lot and it's helping.

What I didn't take into consideration was packaging it as it came out of the machine. I watched it run into the light on the tv table at the end of the sewing table, knock the light off the table, and take the Christmas cactus beside with it. No harm to the quilt but my floor took a bit of a beating and now I really have to replace the pot for the Xmas cactus (my cat knocked it over awhile ago and I've been stalling replacing the pot cuz I can't find anything I like - no more stalling).

At this point I took a break to remain calm. I've got a fan blowing right on me and my a/c is working great so I'm at least keeping reasonably cool. The heat is supposed to let up a bit overnight when we might get some rain - I'm hopeful.

Stay cool and happy quilting.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Just Do It!

I'm overtly stealing from Nike here. This quilt was a lesson in "stop thinking so much and just do it".

I struggled a lot with how to quilt this baby. I don't know why. In the end, I'm really happy with my results - I also started reminding myself that this is a gift for a 5 year old - what she is most concerned about is whether there is enough purple - not how great the quilting is.

All my fussing was worth it. I took my first foray into feathers and I'm pleased with my results. I want to practice lots more and my confidence has a good foundation.

Here are some close up shots of quilting

It is actually bound and ready to go. I can't get any photos yet - it's way too hot to be lugging around a quilt. I'll get a few though and post them.

The label:

And an oil update - there were 2 possible spots I marked and treated for oil. Here is what I see now...

...nothing. The oil is gone or so lightweight that it hasn't left a mark, or the baking soda worked, or it was just water and not oil that dripped. I've breathed a sigh of relief.

Now I'm trying to quilt the quilt for my cousin. It's huge and heavy and slow going. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Quilting Decisions

Last summer I pieced this purple swoon quilt when my quilty friends and I decided to do a "swoon-a-long". They all looked different and it was nice to all be making the same thing. Mine is a gift for my cousin's daughter - to welcome her to the family. She's 5 now, but that's inconsequential.

I'm struggling with quilting this one, in a way I've never struggled with quilting before. I don't know if it's such large spaces, or so much solid space (where the thread really shows) or I'm just in a funk. I looked online for ideas and found some I liked, but when I tried them on my quilt I didn't like them. For the solids I used 2 stencils in my collection. I marked them with a frixion pen and ironed them out - I'm happy with that. I finished that part and now I'm onto the cream part.

My first idea was loop-de-loops.

I don't like them - not loopy enough I think. So I ripped them out and tried again.

I did a split triangle but it had too many pieces - but I liked the idea. I settled on this for the triangles:
I like this much better. I did make myself a stencil and I'm tracing my lines - on this quilt for some reason I feel I must have straight lines and accurate quilting. I've no idea why I feel this way, but I do.

This quilt also has a deadline of Sun Aug 2 - I'm confident I'll get finished, especially since it's going to get hot here again so I'll hide in my house with the fans and a/c and quilt.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Hunter's Star Update

The top is finished and I was into work to baste it this week. Work is the only place I can find enough tables to spray baste on. I'm on holidays, but I went in to get this quilt finished. My deadline is Sun  Aug 2. The quilt is huge - 80" x 96" - fits a queen size bed. I'm so happy with how it turned out. The quilting will be all stitch in the ditch.

One thing I learned/realized - I had to piece the back and I have 3 horizontal pieces. I pressed all seams in the backing in the same direction - I should have pressed them in opposite directions - towards the top/bottom edge so that I would be smoothly them in the direction they are pressed. One seam went that way and one didn't. Make sense?

Friday, 24 July 2015

Keep Calm and Get the Miracle Cure

Have you seen the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? In it, the father or grandfather thinks that Windex is the miracle cure for everything. I kinda feel that way about Neo Citran and blue Dawn dish soap. I'll be testing my cure shortly.

Today while sewing my free motion foot started squeaking something awful. So I carefully removed the quilt I was working on, oiled the foot, free motioned something scrap to get up any extra oil, and put the original quilt back in business. Then I noticed an oil stain on my sewing table - which also got on the quilt. I almost cried.

I put baking soda on both immediately and went off to do something else. Disclaimer: You should follow your own cures for oil stains.

The stains looked much better after. I put a piece of tape over the sewing table and I'll wash (to some degree) the quilt after soaking it in some blue Dawn dish soap (which is what I do when I get some oil on my clothing).

Through it all I stayed relatively calm - and it was nice to text my quilty friend L who shared my dismay. I'm sure it will all work out fine!