Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Round 3

Here we go, one more time.  What?  You can't tell the difference?  Well, maybe if you look really closely.  It was just a tweak after all.

This is definitely feeling right to me, so I think I'm pretty close to solidifying the pattern for the bargello quilt.  A few more days' contemplation should do it (mostly to give myself time to get that queen size off my sewing table).

And in the meantime, I'm well on my way to Socktoberfest.  Now all I need is a mate for this little pretty.  See the green toe?  That's because when the instructions say "100g" for 2 socks, it somehow doesn't translate to 50g (1 ball) for 1 sock.  Sigh.  Just wait. The next ball will probably do a complete sock with no issues and some left over.

There is an error in this one, which I'll see if I can correct for #2.  For some reason  my grafting comes out as purl rather than knit (yes, I know, the reason is user error).  Have to work on that.

Love the speed of this pattern.  Knit with worsted weight, and it only took me 2 days to make a sock.  Problem is, I got no quilting done in those 2 days, other than rearranging my bargello a couple of times.  I need more hours in the day, I think.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Here's another attempt at my bargello quilt.  I'll contemplate this for a few days, and see if I still like it then.  I've already spotted a couple adjustments that need to be made, so I'll play with this a bit more.

In the meantime, I've taken up Judy's Socktoberfest challenge.  Like I needed another craft.   Judy's says October is "Socktober" and challenged us to set a goal - make some socks, finish some lonely pairs, whatever we like. I've never knit a pair of socks before, but my mother did teach me to knit as a child.   I've done hats, mittens, sweaters. baby blankets.  So why not socks?  One pair, anyway.

So my goal is to try this and see if it's something I want to continue doing.   Regardless, I will finish this one pair of socks - assuming I can find the second ball of this wool somewhere in my yarn stash.

This is a part of my stash that I didn't show the other day, because it's not related to quilting.  But I'll come out of the closet (pardon the pun).  See that big brown box?  It is entirely filled with yarn.  Baby yarn, worsted weight, chunky - a bit of everything.  Oh, and look at that - more fabric.  Oops.  But I have an excuse explanation - it's not quilt-quality fabric, so it doesn't count, right?

Oh, all right, more fabric for the "baby quilt challenge" I set myself.  I will get this side of my stash closet cleaned up, and add some decent storage.  Or not - vistors do appreciate the remote possibility of hanging some clothes on this side.  I should probably leave space for that, too.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Design Wall Monday - Sept 28

I fell in love with the aqua's in this quilt when I saw them.  They made me think of water.  So the intent of this bargello quilt is to look like a waterfall.

I can see my plan in here, in the main colour run that flows across the quilt.  But mostly what I'm seeing in this photo is 3 sections - the 2 sides with 3 repeats, and the center with 5 parallel lines.

I tihnk I'm going to play with this layout a bit more, and see if there is something different I can do with these strips.  So, this is on my design wall this week, and will likely stick around for a few more weeks.

Check out Judy's blog to see what other quilters have on their design walls this week.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Stash Report - Sept 27

Earlier this week, I cut strips for a bargello quilt.  That is all the piecing I've gotten done this week, because my focus is on the queen-size quilt that I'm trying to finish.  Progress is slow but steady. About 1/2 done now, and my quilting is getting better :)   I may have to re-do some of the earlier sections to neaten them up, but first, I need to finish the rest and get a good look at it.

Used this week - 1.5 yards.
Nothing added, despite several trips to quilt stores.  

My dirty little secret - the rest of the stash fabric from this week's project doesn't show in my stash photos from yesterday.  They are still sitting on top of my cutting table.   Shhhhh!

Total for this year:
Used YTD: 31 yards
Added YTD: 21.75 yards
Net: 9.25 yards out this year

Check out Judy's blog to see what other quilters have to say about their stash this week.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Show us your stash

Show your stash, Judy says.   Well, I'm having mixed feelings about this, but I've decided to play along.

Here (photo on left) is my main quilting stash. By that I mean, fabric purchased specifically for quilting (with one or two exceptions down near the bottom).  Not too bad, and reasonably organized - for now.   My stash goes through phases - during the initial creation of a quilt, up to 50% of my stash will end up strewn around my sewing room.  So, I regulary tidy up, and fortunately Judy caught me right after a clean up  :)

I peeked at everyone else's stash photos.  Some of those stashes are incredible. They have better fabric selection than my fabric stores!   Some put me to shame, and others make me feel pretty darn organized.  There are as many stash storage arrangements as there are quilters, apparently.

Ah, but that is not my only fabric.  Once upon a time, I made children's clothes.  And I still have a pile of stash from that adventure.  All 100% cotton, so suitable for quilting.

These cubby holes are built into the bottom of my cutting table - which is designed to be the depth of a bolt of fabric.  These are my woven cottons. All kids' prints, so I need to make a lot of quilties to use up this stash.

And over here, are knits and fleece.  Oh, and some corduroy.  Not exactly suitable for quilting.  But once in a while I use some anyway - makes the job challenging, to figure out how to quilt a knit fabric.  My very first quilt in fact was 100% corduroy.  Now that is one heavy quilt.  Maybe I'll blog about that one day soon.

So, this is my stash, in September 2009.  Judy's goal is to organize by January 2010, and make a dent in stash by end of 2010.   My goal is a bit different.  My stash (of quilting fabric) is pretty small - so making a dent in that part isn't that important.  And it is as organized as it's likely to get.  On the other hand, I want to make a serious dent in the fabric hiding under the cutting table.  I think I'll make myself a goal of a quiltie a month from now until the end of 2010.  That should make an impression in the kiddie print stash.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Quilt Marathon

Tonight I am heading out to participate in a quilt marathon.  20 (or more) teams of 8 will spend 30 hours, from 6pm today to noon on Saturday, at a 'quilting bee'. 

The event is run by my local quilt shop, and is in support of  We will be hand-quilting 2 or 3 quilts during that time. This link has more information about the quilt marathons - and oh, by the way, that's me on the left in the picture :) 

The quilt tops and the batting/backing are donated, and all monetary donations raised by the quilt marathon go to theQuilt.  The completed quilts will then be donated to theQuilt for their 2010 auction.  In conjunction with the marathon, the quilt shop hosts a bake auction Saturday afternoon, to raise more funds.  My local quilt shop is one of the top fund raisers for this event every year.

My time-slot for this marathon - 3am to 6am.   I do believe I am crazy. But I'll be enjoying a late night (or is that early morning?) with a bunch of equally crazy ladies, having fun and doing our part to see that no one has to face cancer alone.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Design Wall Monday - Sept 21

There's not much on my design wall today.  I've been working diligently on machine quilting my latest, and that is taking up most of my time.  Not to mention I don't want to keep rearranging my room and resetting the sewing machine for different tasks, so I plan to stick to this until it's done.  Maybe this weekend.

But, I do have 1 bit on my design wall from yesterday.   I think this will be my next finishing project, once the queen-size is done.  Maybe I can complete it in time for guild next month, so it can go off to the hospital.

I did get tired of machine quilting yesterday, and since my second machine is still setup from my visitor last month, I started on a new project.  This is the start of the colour runs for a bargello quilt.  By next week this should be up on my design wall.

Check out Judy's blog to see what other quilters have on their design walls this week.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Stash Report - Sept 20

I got started on quilting my queen size quilt this week - so 3 yards of backing fabric came out of the stash.  No pictures though, because this quilt is a gift.  I also put the border on the quilt that's been sitting on my design wall, so that used another yard of fabric.

And, last but not least, I cut and pieced some more strips for my reversible "warm wishes" quilt.

Used this week:
  4.75 yards

New this week:

Used YTD: 29.5 yards
Added YTD: 21.75 yards
Net: 7.75 yards out this year

Check out Judy's blog to see other quilters' stash progress this week.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Projects and Dreams

It's been a slow week in the sewing room.  First my son was sick, and now I am.  Quilting has taken a back seat., and my motivation is waning  I did start quilting the queen size quilt, and that's part of my problem.  It is not going as well as I had hoped.  Free-motion quilting straight lines is hard.

I am really tempted to build this.   I bought the plans a few weeks ago from this website
Looks relatively simple to make, provided I can find all the bits at the local hardware store.   Am I crazy?  Probably.  But I do have a friend who I'm sure will help me with the tricky cutting bits (he has better tools than I do). 

And it would be really great to be able to load a quilt onto it, rather than basting with 400 pins and trying to figure out how to maneuver the whole thing through around on my little sewing table.

If I could figure out how to mount it on the wall, so it could fold up out of the way, I'd be starting today.  Space is the main issue right now with this concept.  I wonder how my mother would feel about sleeping on the floor next time she comes to visit?  :)

Monday, 14 September 2009

Design Wall Monday - Sept 14

There is just one thing on my design wall today.   Progress has been made on one set of orphan blocks, and it's ready for a border.  I'm hoping to get this quilt bordered and ready for quilting, before I turn my room around to start quilting a queen size quilt.

Check out Judy's blog to see what other quilters are up to today.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Stash Report - Sept 13

I posted my finish yesterday and there isn't much more to add.  Work's been busy, and quilting time has been scarce.  I used a bit of fabric making more squares for one of my orphan block quilts.  I think this is the final setting - a nice little quilty for the children's hospital.  Need to finish this one by mid-October so I can deliver it it at the guild meeting next month.

I also did a bit of shopping this week.  Looking at all those orphan blocks on Monday, I made some decisions about the finished products and headed out to the quilt store.  The positive balance on my stash report took a bit of a hit this week.  I found some lovely bright fabrics to complete the feathered star block and the kaleidoscope quilt blocks, plus enough black to finish my tumbling blocks.

Used this week:
1/2 yard - orphan quilt
1/4 yard - binding for Cambridge Blues

New this week:
6 1/2 yards  - for finishing orphan blocks, honest :)

Used YTD: 24.75 yards
Added YTD: 21.75 yards

Net: 3 yards out this year

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Quilting Blues

Do you ever go through periods of working almost exclusively in a single colour?  4 of my most recent finishing projects are in Blue!  OK, all but one of them was started 4 years ago, and the colour of the 4th was picked for me.  But I'm starting to think that I was in a really "blue" period when I started quilting. And now that I'm finishing projects, I've hit a number of the blues in a row

This quilt is the one which was not started several years ago. And in fact the colour was not chosen by me, so I'm sure I haven't slipped back into a blue period.  The quilt pattern was a mystery quilt from a shop hop held by the local quilt shops.  At each stop on the hop, a clue, including fabric, was available.  At the end of the hop, the final layout was provided.  The fabric in this quilt is all from Northcott's "Quest for a Cure" fabric line (Cambridge blue).

This quilt is now all boxed up and ready to send off to for next year's auction.   I think this is the first time I've had the quilt done early, and haven't been scrambling to finish it in time for the January deadline.  Whatever is happening to me?  LOL

Friday, 11 September 2009

2 steps forward, 1 step back

I can't say I finished anything at all this week.  But I made lots of progress - quilted the shop-hop quilt, attached binding to 2 quilts (just have to turn the binding and hand-stitch), actually did some stitching on the Hawaiian quilt.  That would be the 2 steps forward.

And then, I started a new quilt.  One step back.
Well, not really.  Some of the blocks already existed, so I could claim that I didn't start it, I just moved it forward towards finishing.  I took some of the orphan blocks on my design wall, decided on a layout and started the additional blocks I need to complete this new quilt.

Next up - the queen size quilt.  Want to get that done and sent off to my sister.

So my summary for this week is:

* - the shop hop quilt (half-way done binding)
*- A challenge quilt from my local quilt shop - 3 years ago (needs binding)
- a picture quilt from my 2005 trip to Mexico (needs quilting)
- a queen size quilt (need to quilt it)
- a set of 3 wall quilts (to be hung)
- a stained glass dragon (still piecing)
* - a Hawaiian wall-quilt that's been on my frame for 4 years now (finish quilting)
- mystery quilt (ready for quilting)
* - tumbling blocks (ready for quilting)
- reversible quilt
- kaleidoscope quilt
* - orphan block quilt

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Easy half-square and quarter-square triangles

Do you ever struggle with figuring out how big to cut a square, when you need to to make half-square triangles, or quarter-sqare triangles?  I found this handy tip page, which lays it all out for you, so you don't even have to think about it. This page even diagrams it for you, if you want to understand why it works.

I don't know about you, but I hate dealing with triangular pieces of fabric, particularly when makings half & quarter square triangles.  The pieces always want to stretch along the bias.  So, here is an easy tutorial on making those from squares, instead.   With no waste.

Easy half-square triangles
Cut a square of each fabric you will use for your half-square triangles.  Using the tip above, the size of your squares should each be the finished size of your block plus 7/8 of an inch.  So, if you want 3" half-square triangles, cut a 3-7/8" square from each of your 2 fabrics.  Lay these right sides together, and mark 1 diagonal.  Then, stitch 1/4 inch away from your mark on both sides of the line.

Cut along the marked line, press open, and voila!   Two perfect half-square triangles.

Easy quarter-square triangles
For quarter-square triangles, the process is basically the same.  But, cut your squares 1-1/4" larger than the finished size of your quarter-square triangles.  So for 3" finished size, cut two 4-1/4" squares from your fabric.  Again, place the fabrics right side together, mark and stitch on either side of your diagonal line.  Cut and press.

Now, take your 2 half-square triangles, and line them up right sides together. Make sure you match the seams, and place the dark side of one square on top of the light side of the other square.  Once again, mark the diagonal, stitch, and cut.

Press open and you have 2 quarter square triangles.

But what if you want more colours in the quarter-square triangles?   Simply make yourself 2 sets.  Cut, for example, 4 squares of fabric in 4 different colours.   Pair them up, and create the half-square triangle intermediate step for each of the sets.  Now you have 4 half-square triangles.  Match them up in pairs again, mixing the colours up as you wish.  Stitch and cut, and you have 4 half-square triangles containing up to 4 different colours.  The only catch is that you will end up with mirror image blocks - so if colour placement (with 4 colours) is important, this method may not work for you.

The biggest bonus with this method is perfect points.  You are never matching points at all - you match seams across your half-square triangles.  If you press those seams correctly (I prefer to press all seams towards the dark side of the half-square), they nest together and you get perfectly matched points with no fuss.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Design Wall Monday - Sept 7

My design wall this week is full of orphan blocks. I finished my tumbling block yesterday, and really need to quilt some sandwiches to clean up the unfinished pile. So, I pulled out some of my orphan blocks from previous projects, and put them up on the wall. Hopefully inspiration will strike while I quilt.

The purple on the top left is the center of a block from a quilt I made recently and gave to my mother. The border colour was completely wrong, with the rest of the quilt, so I changed it and started over. This block survied the "unmaking", so it needs a home, possibly as a quilty for the hospital.

Below that is a feathered star. This was my sample block, for a summer star challenge at my quilt guild back in 2005 or 2006. I drafted the pattern myself, so wanted to try it out before cutting into the challenge fabrics. I'd love to turn this into a larger project, but I haven't figured out exactly what to do. This is the quilt that was made from the challenge blocks at the guild. My star is tucked neatly right into the center.

In the center of my design wall is a set of sample block from another quilt. Once I saw the colours together in the block, I knew that they would not work for the recipient. So I chose new colours and started over. It is interesting how many different configurations you can make with just these 4 blocks.

On the left is the orientation used in the quilt. But since I'm out of the background fabric, and can't get more (had to re-think the border on the quilt for that reason), I can't seem to make this layout work with the border fabrics I have. So, something different. I'm leaning towards what's on the wall now - I like the bursting star effect. But I'll give it some time to stew before I make a final decision.

The final piece of the design wall is the kaleidoscope blocks on the left. I finally cut into the fabric I bought some time ago for this specific purpose. Now I need to figure out the layout. I thought I liked the purple, until I looked at it from further away. Now I think that it is too dark, and the quilt will just be a dark mass if I do that. The orange certainly isn't dark :) but it's not exactly my favourite colour (so why is there so much in my stash, you might ask). This quilt needs more thought before I move forward.

So, these blocks are all up on my wall for inspiration while I finish at least 1, preferably 2, projects out of my stack. Check out Judy's blog to see what other quilters are up to this week.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Tumbling Down

And the blocks all came tumbling down.  But in this case, that's a good thing.   The top for my tumbling block quilt is now complete.

This took some doing.  2 straight days of sewing, to finish putting it all together.  I chose to piece the falling blocks, rather than applique, because my last applique quilt is still waiting to be finished, 4 years later.  Next time, I think paper piecing would be a better choice.  Keeping the quilt flat and square, while adding randomly shapes bits of background fabric to the falling blocks was, to put it mildly, a challenge.

However, it was worth it.  The quilt came out just as I had pictured it.  Finishing will wait a while, because  I miscalculated, and the 1 yard of black fabric that I bought barely completed the top and borders.  Need to go buy binding (I hope they still have the fabric) and something for backing. But can't do that until next weekend.

So, this quilt made a good dent in my stash overall (all the blocks are stash).   And used up one of my recent purchases.  Let's see where we stand this week:

2 yards - backing & binding for star challenge quilt
1 yard - background for tumbling blocks

1/4 yard - fat quarter from a stashbusting challenge

Used YTD: 24 yards
Added YTD: 15.25 yards
Net: 8.75 yards out this year

See Judy's blog for an update from other quilters this week.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Finishing Friday - Sept 4

It's Friday again. How did your finishing projects go this week? In my case, there wasn't a lot of progress, and no finishes for this week. But I did make progress on my tumbling blocks - almost half the blocks are sewn together now.

And I finished quilting my 3 year old challenge quilt. This poor quilt has been waiting a long time - so long that I forgot that it was not symmetrical and I hung it upside down.  Can you tell I inverted the image to fix that?

I made this quilt top back when I'd only been quilting for about a year.  It was a shop challenge at my local quilt shop.  Instructions were free enough that you could end up with almost anything.  "make 4 star blocks (any size)"  "make 4-patch blocks (any size)"   "create a border using half-square triangles".  It was fun - but pretty challenging for one of my first quilts.   I did complete it on time, but never got around to backing and quilting it.

It finally made it out of the closet, and is now quilted and ready for binding.  I did a meander over the whole quilt - to tie together the different elements and colours.  Just need to bind it, which will happen this week.

This quilt is backed and quilted with navy blue, again to pull the different elements into a cohesive whole.  I think I was in a "blue" phase back when I started quilting.  This quilt, my lone star (which was planned and fabric purchased  back then), and a number of other quilts from that period are all blue.

So my summary for this week is:

- the shop hop quilt (ready for quilting now)
*- A challenge quilt from my local quilt shop - 3 years ago (needs binding)
- a picture quilt from my 2005 trip to Mexico (needs quilting)
- a queen size quilt (need to quilt it)
- a set of 3 wall quilts (to be hung)
- a stained glass dragon (still piecing)
- a Hawaiian wall-quilt that's been on my frame for 4 years now (finish quilting)
- mystery quilt (ready for quilting)
* - tumbling blocks
- reversible quilt
* - kaleidoscope quilt (new one this week. oops)

How about you?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Book Review - Quilting Illusions

I recommend Quilting Illusions: Create over 40 eye-fooler quilts by Celia Eddy for any quilter who enjoys the look of optical illusions. Create quilts that fool the eye, where the same quilt has 2 or 3 different looks depending on your perspective.

Each project is clearly laid out, and from some simple block patterns amazing illusions are created. The book relies heavily on templates - most of the quilt patterns use them. But clear diagrams are provided to allow you to draft the templates to the exact size you desire. There are a variety of patterns - and many new twists on old favourites.

Also included in the book are many tips and tricks. Drafting patterns, quick piecing tips, and tips on the use of colour in your illusions. So many quilts, so little time. There are patterns in here for every taste and skill level.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Quilting Challenges

I just finished quilting a lap quilt. Every time I do this, I remember how much I don't enjoy trying to stuff a quilt through my machine. As soon as I try, the fabric takes on a life of it's own. It refuses to stay rolled up. It won't stay on the table and insists on leaping to the floor and unrolling on the way down. When I do succeed in keeping the quilt rolled and on top of the table, one end leaps off, reaching for the floor. And it grabs the edge of the table with great intensity, refusing to allow the quilt to gently glide back and forth for a smooth flowing stitch.

I made myself this table extension last year, which improves the situation a bit. It's really nice to have lots of space to each side of the machine to handle the quilt, and work left to right instead of front to back.

I think if I make the table a bit deeper - so there's more of a ledge at the front of the setup, I might have more luck keeping the quilt roll on the table. But it will still fall off the ends and unroll there.

When the quilt is longer than the table, it droops off the end, and gets caught on the corners/edges. And then suddenly I'm quilting in place, rather than in smooth flowing left-right arcs.

I don't have room for a table much longer than this, unfortunately. Unless I can convince one of my sons to give up his room. Somehow I don't think that's going to happen.

I can't possibly be the only one who struggles with this. Please tell me I'm not. Or let me in on your secrets - how do you corral a quilt and get it to submit to the quilting process?