Sunday, November 19, 2017

"All Wrapped Up" Christmas Tree

 I'm on a bit of a Christmas kick around here, which is appropriate given the time of year. I have a few Christmas projects from past years that have been languishing for a while, so I pulled them out to finish up.  Number one is my All Wrapped Up Christmas Tree.  The block pattern in this quilt is "All Wrapped Up" from Missouri Star Quilt Company.  I did it in half-size - using 5" squares cut into quarters for the presents.

When the blocks were made at a retreat last November, I knew I didn't want to set them in a standard rectangular setting.  I had 36 blocks, but a 6x6 layout just seemed boring.  So I played around for a while and realized I could make a tree out of them. A few hours later, and some input from my retreat friends, and I had a Christmas tree with a few packages underneath.

I came home from retreat all inspired, and even bought some more of the ribbon fabric for binding. And then I put the tree away and ignored it for a year.  Pulled it out last week, dug out some backing for it (a grey flannel that I had bought for another project but changed my mind about), and loaded it on the longarm.  I knew this quit deserved custom quilting, so after some thought I settled on stars and swirls in the background, and outlining the packages and ribbons for the rest of the quilt.

Done and ready for use, in plenty of time for this Christmas.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Redesigning

Image result for quilt pattern large trianglesThis quilt top has been on a journey. 2 years ago, I won a block draw at a quilting retreat. Everyone at that retreat made 2 blocks. They were large (9") half square triangle blocks, with Kaffe Fassett fabric in one half and white in the other.  I loved the fabrics, but the quilt top seemed a bit too simple for my tastes, so I decided to modify it. This was the original pattern.

I've played with this block design a few times now, and it cuts perfectly from the half-square triangle. By cutting all my blocks into 4 pieces, I got two half-square triangles and 2 plain squares from each block. The plain squares were easily made into two 4-patches, and the result could then be re-assembled into Jacob's Ladder blocks.

I knew what layout I wanted, and realized (half-way through making blocks) that it takes 2 slightly different blocks to make it. Fortunately, I figured that out before I got too far, and ended up with just the right number of blocks.  I decided an offset design would be a bit more interesting than centering it.  I tried to keep the arrangements random, mixing fabrics with each step of the process so no two blocks are alike, and (almost) no two identical fabrics are side by side.

The quilt top ended up 56x70". I think a border is needed, so I'll have to find a Kaffe Fassett fabric I like for that.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Christmas Wall Hangings


At my quilt retreat the other weekend, I took some fabric bundles with me in the hopes I would be inspired to finish something from them.  I ended up with 2 Christmas quilts. The first was a fabric bundle I picked up a few years ago. I fussy cut the cardinals from the birch tree fat quarter, and even managed to use most of odds and ends of trees that were left over.  3 fat quarters from the fabric line went into this little wall hanging, and the 4th FQ will make the binding once it's quilted.

The second one had grand intentions. I made 20 log cabin blocks to go around the wreath. But when they were done and 2 sides attached, I decided I really did not like it. Advice from my fellow retreaters was to keep it simple, so I removed the log cabins and replaced them with a simple blue border.  This keeps the quilt small enough to hang in my window as my December quilt, so that's a win, anyway.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Star Quilts

I was given 14 blocks that were made by the friend of a customer. She asked if I would be willing to finish them into a donation quilt. Of course I said yes. The package included some extra fabric of each of the fabrics used in the blocks.

The blocks were big (16") so I knew they'd make more than 1 quilt. And 14 was an odd number to start with, but I sat down with Electric Quilt and played with a few layouts. In the end, I settled on these two. One with 6 blocks in a straight setting. And one with 8 blocks set on point.

A weekend quilt retreat was just right for finishing these up into donation-sized projects.  It's not immediately obvious, but there were 2 different whites used in the blocks.  5 of one and 9 of the other.  So decision number 2 was how to split those up.  After some discussion at the retreat, the consensus was: 2 of the odd blocks in the center of the on-point quilt, and 3 in the other to give a sort of checkerboard layout.  In the photos, the white is just slightly brighter in those blocks.

I added the inner border on the first quilt from my stash, but everything else came from the bundle I was given. I'll use the last little bits of fabric to make pockets for the bags that we'll use for the donations.

Now to get these into the queue and quilt them before my next guild meeting.



Sunday, October 22, 2017

Cleaning

I found it!  I haven't seen the top of this table in ages, but I finally spent some time cleaning up and now I have full access to my cutting table.  The pile in the right corner is a quilt that needs to be finished. But it requires the full design wall, and there are currently a couple of other projects taking up that space.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Dashing Away

This quilt is made from some blocks I won at guild a couple of years ago. It took a long time, but I finally made the extra blocks I needed, and quilted this with a nice modern design. It will go to show and tell on Monday and then head off to Victoria's Quilts to keep someone warm and cozy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Guild Mystery



In addition to 2 guilds doing the PEI Modern Guild mytery, another one of my guilds is doing its own mystery this year, and I've decided to join in.  Colour choice was 2 light, 2 dark, 1 medium. So I hunted through my stash and found a great background fabric - the dotty white.  Then I picked 4 more colours from the dots in that fabric.  I might regret this, but mysteries are all about stepping outside our comfort zone, so here goes!


I had originally chosen a darker yellow, but on examination, that was too similar in value to my mediums. So I hunted up something a little bit softer. 

Block number 1 - here's where my regrets start to show themselves. Pink and yellow - hmmm.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

PEI Modern Guild mystery - step 2



Step 2 of the PEI modern guild mystery was released on October 1. I have officially decided to make 2 quilts - one in a light background, one with a dark background. Here are steps 1 and 2 complete, for both quilts.

I'm using the same colours for the main quilts, but mixing up their positions, since PEI just told us the fabrics are numbered/ordered in some way.   A group of 4, then a group of 8. So I did 2 sorts and came up with a plan.

Looking at it now I wonder if I should have made the dark one in pinks and the light in blues, but I'm committed now and moving forward with this arrangement. 

Linking up with the PEI Modern Guild for this month's clue.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mini Checkerboard

As I mentioned in my last post, I am starting a miniature version of my Bulging Checkerboard quilt. Mostly, I want to see how small I can possibly make the reveals between the small square and the neighboring block, without going crazy. If I can make this work, I'm planning to update my pattern with instructions for the smaller version.

Here are the first 9 blocks, not yet sewn together.  I'm aiming for 1/16th or 1/32nd on those little reveals when it's done.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bulging Checkerboard

This is an older quilt, but I realized recenlty my post about it has been sitting in draft form for over a year. It's been on my mind recently, because I just started a half-size version of it.  So, here is the story behind the original quilt.

I saw this quilt online one day and knew that I needed to add it to my list.  I love optical illusions, and this is a really cool one.  I inspected the construction of the quilt I saw online. It was done with applique, which I knew was not going to be my plan. So I sat down with EQ6 and planned the blocks.  Each block contains 2 "dots" in opposite corners.  I first tried drawing the quilt with these dots set right at the edge of the block. But that completely lost the illusion, and it because an X instead.  So, I realised that some amount of contrast colour was needed around each dot.  I played around in EQ and decided that 1/4" exposure was about right.

6" blocks, with a border, gave me a quilt about 100" square.  About right for my queen size bed (yes, this was going to be MY quilt).  So I worked out the fabric requirements (6 yards of each of 2 colours) and went shopping on "Buy 2, get 1 free" day at the local quilt store.  But what colours to choose? I could go with the traditional - black and white.  Or, mix it up. Blue and white - no, I have too many of those, and don't want another.  Red and white - doesn't seem right for a checkerboard.  Looking around, I also discovered that there were very few bolts with a full 6 yards on them in the shop.  Hence the sale - she was trying to reduce inventory to bring in new fabrics.  So, maybe a mix of different fabrics in each colour would have to suffice.

Then I was pointed towards civil war reproductions in brown.  I was immediately sold, in part because I had just finished a quilt in brown/blue/red for the August colour challenge this year and I loved working with the browns in it.  Then it didn't take too long to decide that 5 fabrics would work (2 yards of one, to do squares and borders, and 1 yard of each of the others).  We found a suitable cream fabric to complement the browns (with enough fabric on the bolt), and I brought my treasure trove home.

 Then the fun started.  Cut and sew.  Cut and sew.  And sew some more.  The quilt requires 225 squares.  88 are plain 6" squares, but all the rest are pieced, with the little 1/4" exposure around each "dot".  As I started to plan my cutting, I contemplated working with that 1/4".   And decided to make my life a little easier by working with 3/8 instead of 1/4.

This all seemed well and good until I put it on the wall and started thinking about it a bit more.  The designer of the quilt I saw online commented that she was not happy with how the illusion came out, and she wished she'd made the spacing smaller.  But the photo looked great - the illusion was perfectly clear.  And my original 1/4" was very close to hers.  What I realised as I put it on the wall was that it is not the percentage of the exposure against the rest of the block that matters.  It is more an absolute number.  It needs to be small enough that from a normal viewing distance it appears to be thin lines, not blocks of colour between the blocks.

So I put together the center of the quilt twice.  First, with my designed spacing (on the left in the photo).  And I knew immediately that this was not right.  In a photo, it's not bad.  But in person, it is just a bunch of square blocks.  No illusion showing up at all.  Then I put together another center (right in the photo).  This time I used 1/2" seams, leaving 1/8" exposure around the dots.  MUCH better.  Now I can see the illusion, even with this small 5x5 section of quilt.

Now to assemble the rest, using 1/2" seams throughout.  Another 8 5x5 blocks is the first step.  Pressing these blocks is challenge however.  After making the center 5x5, I realised my mistake. On the remaining sections, I snipped the seam allowance on each short seam in the rows, so that I could press the seam allowance away from the dot in each case.  I thought I'd do the same on the longer seams, until I realised that the dots meet at the corners.  So that plan went out the window. Careful pressing was required, to ensure I didn't distort the blocks when pressing the very thick seams around the dot.  If I were to do this again, I might press the borders of each dot in towards the center instead.  That would reduce the bulk between blocks, although it would increase the issues within each block.

I finished section #2, and put it up on the wall.  Can you spot the error?  One row is inserted upside down. So I'll be unstitching that one next.

More progress in this picture.  Notice the yellow tag in the upper left corner.  I numbered each section as I assembled it, so that I wouldn't get confused.  I still managed to - I had to stop several times to think.  What does "2-1" mean.  Second row first column, or second column, first row.  In the end, I figured it all out, and got all 9 sections assembled and ready for borders.

The borders went together pretty easily, although they were long, and used a lot more fabric than I had planned on. There is not enough of the border fabric to use for binding, so I'll do a scrappy binding when I'm ready to take that step.  In the picture it is hard to tell, but there is a dark brown border around the outside.

Next step - quilting.  The quilt is 95" square - which is just 2" larger than a queen size batting.  So, I had to buy a King instead.  Fortunately, I caught a sale at the LQS and got my batt for 40% off.  Not  a bad deal.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Anita's Arrowheads

This is my completed project from my Block Party group this year.  The pattern is "Anita's Arrowheads", a free pattern I found online.  I loved the technique used to make the block, but struggled with the layouts I saw online. Finally, I decided to try a layout similar to a blooming 9-patch, to see if I liked that.  Success! 

The pattern is offset simply because I didn't have enough of my medium gold/orange in the 4th round.  It was my favourite of all the fabrics, and the one that inspired the other colours, so I wasn't willing to swap it out completely. To compensate, I moved the pattern over and in the other corner I used a different dark gold in place of the missing fabric. Since it's separated from the first section, I think it looks intentional rather than "I ran out".

Borders are extensions of the primary colours - mostly because I didn't have enough of any one fabric left to border the quilt. And the quilt is carefully sized (50x70") to be a donation for Victoria's Quilts.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Improv

Krista Hennebury (poppyprints) was in town in September, and as another Krista I just had to attend her workshop :)  "Speed Dating with Improv" gave us a chance to try several different improv piecing techniques.

I have to admit I'm struggling with the randomness of this project.  The class was a lot of fun, the techniques are great. But this quilt is WAY outside my comfort zone.  I now have all these bits and pieces which need to go together somehow.

I will finish it! And to make sure of that, it's staying up on my design wall until I do (that will also ensure I don't lose any bits).

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hexies

This quilt isn't mine. It came from a quilting friend, who received it when the original maker passed away.  It was about 1/3 done at the time, with a number of other  diamonds ready to go but not attached.  As a group, we came up with a layout and finished assembling the diamonds into a final product.  I appliqued it onto borders one night (way too late at night), and now it just needs to have the papers removed from the hexagons and then to be quilted.  When it's done, it will be donated to a worthy recipient.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Halfway there!

 And more red & white.  Another weekend, another attempt to get closer to being on track.  Up to #78 (I think), which means I'm half-way there! 

However, as soon as I took this photo, I noticed the error in one of the blocks. So out came the seam ripper.

Ah, that's better. A few more blocks to put away safe and sound.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Checkerboard

I'm working on a 1/2 size version of one of my patterns (Bulging Checkerboard).  Hopefully this will make the illusion easier to see, from a closer distance.  9 blocks down, 216 to go.  This could take a while.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Building Blocks

 A new finish!  This poor little quilt has been hanging in my closet for years. I designed the quilt back in 2009, and put it together at my very first quilt retreat in February 2010.  And then it sat. First, because I could not find a backing I liked. I finally settled on one, although there wasn't enough fabric left on the blot. So I planned to piece the backing - at least I had something I liked at this point.

But then poor little thing sat around for a few more years, waiting for me to find the inspiration for quilting it. And then the time for quilting it.  The incentive to finally get it done? It's going to a trunk show this week, so I had a deadline now.

I used my new computerized longarm to simplify the straight line quilting in the blocks. And then free-handed peacock feathers in the background, to provide a softer contrast to all the boxes and corners.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

More Canadian Women

Another weekend spent working on 150 Canadian Women, and I feel like I'm making a dent in the pile of instructions.  Top 2 blocks use the fabric I thought was lost.  I think this takes me up to #68. 

Rather than printing out 150 sheets of instructions, I'm just printing the pictures, as many on one page as I can fit, and then working out the cutting/assembly process for myself. Usually that works (when my math is on the ball), but sometimes I get ahead of myself and cut blocks before I check where the seam lines are supposed to be.

There are a whole lot of itty bitty triangles in some of those blocks. And in a couple of cases, my construction method doesn't match the provided diagram. But the end result is the same, so I'm good with it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

En Provence

I'm having a productive month finishing up quilts around here. This is one of my Bonnie Hunter mystery quilts from 2016. I split my blocks into 2 groups and made one quilt for donation - this one. The other has 9 blocks and will be for me, when I eventually get around to quilting it.

I changed up the borders a bit on this one, because I had no more of the star units left and I refused to make any more at this point.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Longarm Design

I was playing around with patterns on my longarm the other day.  I saw this (or something like it) done on a quilt a while back and decided to try it out.  Makes an interesting border or straight line detail I think. Doesn't work so well as an overall fill.  But it was fun to play with, and got another Victoria's Quilts donation completed.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Merry Mayhem, 2016

I finally finished this quilt. It was a New Year's Day mystery from Merry Mayhem in (I think) 2016.  Took me ages to get around to putting all the blocks together - mostly because I had other myteries going on and didn't keep up with these clues. Then when I realized it was 15 identical blocks, I lost interest for a while.

However, it is finally done, and I took the opportunity to try out some custom quilting on my new long arm.  Each block has the same design (which I created), and the border is done with a cable design.



Saturday, September 16, 2017

150 Canadan Women

I put my 150 Canadian Women quilt on the back burner for a while. Other projects and visitors took precedence and I just couldn't keep up.  I finally pulled it out again this past weekend and made some progress on blocks.  These are blocks 51-59.

I also spent hours searching my sewing room for the fabric I KNOW that I bought for 2 particular blocks. It is white with red accents, and I planned to use it for the blocks that has a very large white center.  But I could not find it anywhere. It lived in one corner of my sewing room for ages, and I remember moving it (and all the other 150 fabrics) when I visitors in June. But I could not find it.

Finally, 2 days later, I moved one more pile of fabric and there it was.  Phew. I was just about to go out and buy it again, but I've been saved.  Now I can go back and finish up those 2 blocks, and see if I can at least get to 1/2 way before the program ends.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Peacock!


Peacock is now complete!  Hours of piecing fun, and a few moments of sheer panic, but it is finally complete.  As I was getting down to the last pieces, I had about a dozen templates that weren't cut out yet that I figured were part of the background and I'd cut them as I needed them. But when I was finishing the last of the tail feathers, I realized that I only had 6" of fabric left, plus some odds and ends. Not nearly enough for all those templates.  I didn't know what to do, and actually walked away from it at that point for the night.

I thought about it, and hoped the missing bits would be outside edges and I could maybe make the quilt smaller to use only the fabric I had, because I knew I'd never find this fabric online anywhere. It's about 4 years old.

When I went back to it the next day, I looked at the pattern to see if I was right about where the pieces would go - and realized that I didn't need all 12!  Some of them were for one of the alternate layouts, and I only needed 2 more pieces of background fabric. The largest of them was almost exactly 6" wide. It fit perfectly on the strip I had left, I cut out the 2 templates and breathed a side of relief.  Of course, binding might be an issue, since I certainly would not be using background fabric for that.

In the end I opted for facing the edges. I was going to bind in one of the blues, but decided I didn't want a harsh transition there.  So here he is all quilted and faced.  Straight line quilting around the tail feathers, and some scallops that I hope look like feathers in the body of the peacock.

The pictures aren't very good, so I'll have to try again when the lighting is better.



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Block Party

Another block party project.  The owner gave us this project, already cut out so it was a really quick project to put together.  The block is neat, and I love the finished quilt.  The pattern is "Round peg, square hole" by Krista Hennebury.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

(not my) UFO

Does this count as a UFO?  It's not mine, but a friend asked for help finishing off this project.  Of course I said yes. Unfortunately, I picked up the bits from her back in May and it's been languishing ever since.  Finally this weekend was a "me" weekend for my sewing - all up to date on customer quilts, so I could abide by my "no work weekend" policy.  So, I pulled out this quilt. And in the span of 5 Terminator movies, I finished it.

It doesn't show well against the white design wall - the star has a solid white border on all sides to finish it off as a lap quilt.

All set to return to the owner now, and one less project waiting on me.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Another new toy

This is a long-delayed post.  Back in May, my fabulous sister found this old Singer machine at a garage sale.  Apparently she immediately thought of me, and asked if I was interested. Of course I was!  From the photo it looked like it was in great shape, so she picked it up for me. Then the challenge was to figure out how to get it from Vancouver to Ottawa.  Fortunately for me, my mother was heading this way, so she became our "travel mule", accompanying the machine on the flight.

This little baby is way heavier than it looks, so carry-on was not an option, but stars aligned to allow my sister to take my mother & the machine to airport and get them checked in (comfy seat for one, and checked luggage for the other). And I met them at this end to retrieve both :)

I tried to restrain myself, but unpacking happened that night, despite the late hour.  Overall, the machine was as good as it looked in the photos. Except for the power cord and drive belt - both of which disintegrated in my hands.  So unpacking is as far as it got that night.

The next day, after some online research, we headed out to pick up parts for a new cord (fortunately the connector at the machine end was in fine shape), and a new belt - both obtained locally. Once those were in place, I powered her up, and the machine stitched wonderfully. No sticky bits or other issues. It was obviously well-stored, despite not being used for years (given the state of the cord, I assume it was in storage for 40 years or so).  A little oil, a little tweaking, and except for the clutch not disengaging for winding bobbins, everything works perfectly!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Block party pillow

This cute little project is from my Block Party group.  I apparently got the odd-one-out (and I missed the class), so I had a few minutes of concern during assembly. But a quick email to the owner and we confirmed that I was on the right track.  Can't wait to see her whole quilt done.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Apple Core

Every second Monday, I get together with a quilting group where everyone brings their handwork and we stitch and chat for a couple of hours. For the past year, this has been my project for those sessions.I always wanted to make an apple core quilt, so when a member was reducing her stash, I jumped at the chance to pick this up. I added a few more fabrics to the mix, and I've been working on blocks. I decided to make them in sets of 25. That way I'm not committed to a particular quilt size.

This is block #4, so the next step is to join these four together with my sashing fabric. Then I can decide how much further I want to go.