Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Second chances

I was working on this quilt at a retreat. The intention was to make 2 quilts - the pattern produces 2 different blocks and I figured I could make 2 quilts for donation from some scraps I had.  But when I got to the retreat, I realized that I only had 1/2 the fabric I needed for that plan. And then, when I started cutting my blocks I wasn't thinking, and cut half in one direction and half the other way.  Which completely messed up the lovely pinwheels that were supposed to show up in one of the quilts.

I grumbled and complained about it, and almost tossed it back in the bag. But at that point I just wanted it out of my sight. So I finished up the blocks I had and played around with the settings to put them all into one quilt.  This is what I came up with - not horrible, and a reasonably effective use of the scraps I had on hand. And, it's 50x70", so just right for donation.

I was so annoyed with it, that I decided to release it to the wild at my Victoria's Quilts meeting and let someone else deal with it. I dropped it off for someone to make a presentation bag one week. And started having seconds thoughts about it - so I picked it up last month to quilt myself.  I guess I just can't let go.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Amazing Labyrinth - January UFO

I have been working on this labyrinth quilt since 2012. I designed it after I first saw the Labyrinth Walk quilt pattern. I loved the idea, but that pattern has no entry/exit to the maze. I could not bear to the thought of making a maze quilt that had no route through it.  So I hunted up some mazes on google and found one I liked.

 I drafted it - first on graph paper, then painstakingly square by square in EQ.  Then, I had to convert it from squares into more reasonably sized pieces (I didn't want to piece a quilt that was all 2.5" squares - although in retrospect that might have been easier).

The pattern is available in my Etsy store.

Finding fabric for this was a challenge. Shops around here don't seem to like carrying the light end of the spectrum. I could find 3 med-to-dark fabrics that worked together, but finding a light in the same colour family proved impossible. Even the med-light in this quilt was hard to find. Eventually I just gave up and used a cream for the light fabric.

I pieced the backing from my stash. I had looked for something I liked, but a purple fabric was just too purple. I thought I bought a grey flannel for it at one point, but I used that for my Christmas quilts. So rather than spending yet more money, I decided to raid my stash and see what I could do. I figure people won't be seeing the backing very often anyway.

The fabric near the top is shades of purple, fading to teal and yellow - I thought it would look neat if the top of the quilt is folded back on itself.

The whole quilt is custom quilted. I picked a different design for each colour, in an effort to accentuate the 3-D effect (walls & floor of the maze).  Luck was with me - the only thread I had that was a good colour match was a single (partial) spool of a discontinued thread line.  I decided to chance it, because I didn't want to wait until I could get out to a store. Loaded, started quilting - and finished with only a few winds left on the spool!

I'll link this post up with Patchwork Times when the January UFO report goes up.  Also linking up with 18 in 2018

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Diamonds Within #4

I rarely make a quilt more than once. But this one is apparently an exception.  I saw this in a book (Diamond Chain, by Barbara Cline) and knew I just had to make it. So, the first version was completed in 2013.

The local quilt shop wanted me to do a class on it, but thought it would sell better as a square quilt.  So, #2 came about - squared up and colours reversed so the star is coloured and the background pale.

Then, a friend (actually, a student from that class) asked for help completing her quilt, so I took care of that for her last year.

And recently I dug up the bits leftover from the class samples when I taught it back in 2014.  These have finally become a full quilt, pictured here.  One day, I'll even get this one quilted, but for now it's going to sit at the bottom of the pile, because I'm pretty tired of this particular pattern.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Modern Plus

Woohoo, another UFO finished! This quilt barely made it onto my UFO list this year (#16, I think). But I needed to test out a new pantograph for a customer and the design was just perfect for this quilt.  So I pulled it out of the closet and loaded it up. Fortunately it was one of the quilts I'd already picked backing for, so I had a nice soft blue flannel all ready to go, and a batting just waiting for a place to be used.

This top was designed and pieced back in 2016, for a presentation at the Ottawa Modern Guild on "make it modern". I made a traditional plus top, and then designed a couple of more modern ones. My black and white (which was a Christmas gift in 2016) and this one.

I quilted it with "retro lines", which nicely reflects the plus shapes in the quilt top.

And then bound it. I knew I didn't have any grey left, so I was going to try to hunt down some of the blues in the quilt top. Then I remembered my binding box - where good binding goes to die.  When I finish binding a quilt, I take the leftover strip of binding and toss (stuff) it into this little bin. So for this quilt, I dug through and pulled out all the appropriate blue/teal pieces and sewed them together. Voila - ready-made binding!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Ruler bag V2

After making my first ruler bag (see yesterday's post), I realized that I needed a lighter option. Hence, ruler bag V2 - the portfolio. This case carries a 24x18" mat in a zipper pocket on one side, with a sleeve for a 24" ruler in front of it.  And on the back side, 2 zipper pockets to carry a few rulers or other odds and ends.  I made this one with 2 handles - one for carrying by hand (really short, so it doesn't drag on the ground) and one for carrying over your shoulder - which could have been longer, but it does the job.

I've taken this bag to a couple of day retreats since it was completed.  It is incredibly light, and definitely reduces the juggling required to carry the cutting mat and rulers from car to room.

The pattern for this bag is available from my Craftsy store

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Ruler bag

With our weekly meetups to sew on Bonnie Hunter, I got pretty tired of hauling my 24" cutting mat and 24" ruler in and out, trying to juggle them and all my other parcels.  So I decided I needed a bag to carry them in.  I knew kind of what I wanted - a pocket on the outside for the mat, and maybe the long ruler to keep it safe. And some pockets inside for more rulers, since I was carrying an entire bag of them around to these sew days.

I redesigned it several times in my head - how I would attach the zipper, how to keep it stiff, etc.  Then one day I was out at a quilt shop picking up a new ruler and I spotted 3 yard zipper tape - perfect for the main zipper on this case!  And at the dollar store I found craft board (someone had suggest the corrugated plastic for sale signs, but I couldn't find them. Craft board (foam core) seemed perfect instead.  So now I had the supplies, it was time to get started.

It took me about 3 days, and 4 broken needles, but this is what I came up with.  It carries my mat and 2 long rulers on the outside. And has a pocket inside for every ruler I own.  I think the hardest part was figuring out how to sew all the pockets together in stacks (from the top one down!). There are a couple of things I would do different next time (and will change when I write the pattern for this). But it came out just like I was hoping and is perfect for carting around all my rulers.  The 2-way zipper goes all the way around 3 sides. Each pocket has a snap closure so rulers don't slide around in the bag when it is lying down for transport. And the handles wrap all the way around the bottom of the bag for extra strength and security.

It is however quite heavy (although some friends commented that, given what it is and how much is in it, it's much lighter than their options).  After taking it to one sew day, I quickly determined that shorter retreats need a lighter option, to carry just a selection of rulers required for that single day's activities.

Monday, 22 January 2018

PEI Modern Guild Mystery - step 4

Well, this step has been done for a while, but I finally figured I should post it before I get #5 complete. I'm taking that step to a retreat, so it should be done before the end of the month.  Hopefully I have enough fabric - the next one seems to need a lot, and I think I skimped when I decided to make two quilts.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Merry Mayhem

I told all my quilty friends this year that I was NOT doing any New Year's Day mysteries.  2 of my "usual" were not offering this year, so that was an easy choice. Merry Mayhem was doing hers, but I had enough on my plate. Especially when Bonnie Hunter released a clue a day from December 29 on.  So I was all set to skip New Year's Day this year and just work on my own stuff. But people kept talking about Merry Mayhem. And the guild was doing a sew day on Jan 2 for it. So I glanced at the fabric requirements and clue 2 (which I got early because I seem to be on Merry's mailing list) and made some tentative choices from my pile of fat quarters. But I was NOT doing the mystery.

And then, New Year's Day rolled around.  I was on my own, and decided to quilt a pile of charity quilts so that I could take them to our Victoria's Quilts meeting the next week.  And sitting around waiting for the new fancy computerized machine to finish the quilt was kind of boring. So, around 3:00 I looked at a few more clues from Merry.  At about clue 4 I thought "that looks really nice" - and I headed upstairs to grab the fat quarters I had identified.

One baby quilt done, 3 hours later.  And I really like it!  But it's too small to be donated, and there are no babies in the family, so on January 2 I grabbed another set of fat quarters, made the quilt again, and added a row to each end of my original quilt.  Then, I was only 8" short of the magic size, so I cut up some of my leftover fabric for a piano key border on each end.

And since I was in charity quilting mode, I dropped it into the queue, quilted it up, bound it with some more of the leftover bits from the fat quarters, and Voila!  My first start - and finish - for 2018.  16 fat quarters in total, with about eight 6" squares of fabric leftover.  I should take a photo of the back - it's a really funky flower-power print  on a turquoise background (flannel).

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts, and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop! just in the nick of time for Finish it up Friday this week.

Friday, 19 January 2018

2018 UFO Challenges

I am determined to make a dent in my UFO pile this year,  hopefully without adding a bunch of news ones to the list. In that pursuit, I have decided to join not only Judy's UFO challenge at Patchwork Times, but the American Patchwork & Quilting challenge and "18 in 2018".  I'll say right now, there will be some liberties taken with the UFO chosen. Judy and APQ are both drawing numbers from ours lists - I'll pick one and call it the UFO for the month for both of those challenges. If I have extra time to tackle a second before the next month, I'll use the other number.  Since the third challenge wants 18, I have a few to spare if I get ahead of myself with the first 2 challenges.

So, here's my list:
  1. 150 Canadian Women 
  2. small bulging checkerboard 
  3. Kaffe jacob's ladder 
  4. purple/olive quilt (needs borders) 
  5. Richmond guild mystery 
  6. Winding Ways 
  7. en Provence 
  8. Blackford's Beauty 
  9. hexies 
  10. Labyrinth 
  11. Peace, Love, Quilt mystery (hearts) 
  12. scrappy swoon 
  13. Row by Row 
  14. yellow triangles 
  15. Kaffe Handkerchief quilt 
  16. Easy Street 
  17. Modern Plus 
  18. one fabric quilt 
It will be maintained and updated on my 2018 Projects tab.

And getting off to a good start - #5 is already done (even though it was not the number for either challenge this month).  This is the mystery quilt from the Richmond Guild last year - finally finished and ready to donate to Victoria's Quilts Canada.  I pulled these fabrics because I'd bought them as a set to make "something" and never found a pattern to go with them. When the mystery came out, I had just the right amount of the red and black for this design.  The border used up the last bits of red, and the scrappy binding pretty much cleaned me out. Perfect!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Getting closer!

The labyrinth quilt is now off the frame and ready for binding. It truly looks like I'll get this one done this month!

Here's a close-up of some of the quilting. I free-motion quilted all the sections, picking one design for each colour. The walls are quilted with 2 different wavy designs to look like vertical lines. Straight (ish) lines in the cream sections (wall tops). And pebbles in the darkest area, for a cobblestone floor.

I picked a thread I had on hand that blended well with the 3 darker colours. Unfortunately it is a discontinued thread line and I only had a single partial cone of it. But I figured I'd try, and come up with an alternate plan if I ran out part way through. Well, someone was looking out for me, because I finished the whole quilt, with just a few winds of thread left on my spool!

Binding is now attached, and 1/3 sewn on.

I'm linking up with the Needle and Thread Network's WIP Wednesday today.

Monday, 15 January 2018

January UFO

Judy over at Patchwork Times is really trying to get me off to a rough start this year.  Her UFO challenge started this month, and she picked #10.  Great, I checked my list. And this is #10 - my purple labyrinth quilt that I've been avoiding since 2013. Sigh.

I guess it's time to fish or cut bait here.  I debated switching it out for a different (easier) UFO. But then I thought - if I actually get this one done this month it will be a great way to kick off a great UFO completion year. So, I pulled it out, got myself mentally set for working on it, and promptly put it aside.  But I had a good reason - I couldn't put it on the longarm before Jan 11, because I needed it for a trunk show (and it would definitely not have been done by then).

Instead, I pulled some fabric for the backing - I decided on a scrappy, pieced backing in order to continue my efforts to reduce stash, rather than buying more. I think I had bought a backing for this, but ended up using it for a different quilt.  I'm not 100% happy with the backing, but it will do. No photos today - I forgot to take a picture before I loaded the quilt.

Progress is being made - the quilt is up off the floor and I think 3 more rows will get it completed - tomorrow I hope, because the longarm is rented for Wednesday and this will have to come off, finished or not.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Single Girl Garden

Sometimes a plan comes together. And sometimes it doesn't.  This quilt started with some damaged blocks. I repaired a "single girl" quilt for a friend a couple of years ago, and had to remove these 16 blocks because they all had small holes in them (from unpicking stitches). At first I was thinking I could applique flowers over the holes, and create a garden look on her quilt - but I decided that probably wouldn't be as pretty in reality as it was in my head, so I scrapped the idea and just finished the quilt with the undamaged blocks.

These have sat in my sewing room since then, so I finally decided it was time to move them out.  Going back to my original thinking, I put them together with some green at the bottom and a grey border to try to get the size a bit closer to a donation quilt.  I pulled out all the (few) flower prints I had in my stash, started by covering the holes, and then tried to turn it in to a field of flowers raining down.

No completely happy with this one. I like the bottom half - but not so much the top. I think maybe because it's a bit dark. I'll have to see what I can do with quilting, and maybe find a way to spruce it up.

Friday, 12 January 2018

On Ringo Lake

I've been quilting along with Bonnie Hunter, and a group of local friends, since Bonnie's mystery started in November.  Bits and pieces came together each week. All these little bitty bits - Bonnie likes to work from 1.5" strips this time, so that gives you an idea what size some of these blocks are.

Bonnie suprised a lot of us with a "Rapid Fire" release, starting on Dec 29 and ending on Jan 1. The last 3 clues came fast and furious, but now we know where the mystery is headed.

In my case, the mystery is a bit stalled - I got my blocks put together, and some sashings, but I've been busy with customer quilts again (the post-Christmas break is over) so I haven't had time to get back into the sewing room.

Tonight is our last sew-along, and the weather is just not cooperating.  Freezing rain is going to keep a lot of people home. I'm still hoping to make some good progress on this project tonight, whether I have to quilt alone or I have some company in braving the weather.

This quilt was a bit of a risk for me  - I wanted a Christmas quilt, but with any mystery the actual arrangement of the colours is, well, a mystery.  I think I got lucky and my colour choices are lining up nicely for a "Christmas, but not in your face Christmassy" quilt.  I think it will be called "Christmas on Ringo Lake", since Bonnie's design is "On Ringo Lake" in her aqua and salmon colourway.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Using up Stash

I am determined to make a dent in my stash this year. I'm not saying I won't buy fabric, but I'm going to look at stash first for anything I want to make, and I'm going to pull out some of those old "bundles" of fabric I bought way back when and figure out a plan for them.

This fabric has been holding court in a bin for years, waiting for the right pattern to come up. I finally pulled it out and dragged it to 2 retreats at the end of last year.  No go, at the first retreat. But at the second I was scraping the bottom of the project barrel, and it was either this, or work on my 150 Canadian Women quilt and I did NOT want to do that one.  So I brainstormed over breakfast with my table mates, and googled a few options. To be honest, in retrospect I'm not exactly sure where this design came from. I think it may have been inspired by "Magic Tiles"  I did some quick math, came up with a block ratio that I liked, and cut a whole pile of fabric.  The size and number of blocks was defined by the amount of print fabric I had. The rest just fell into place.

It used every bit of black I had - so I had to stop here. I think the quilt needs borders - a narrow black one, followed by whichever fabric I have enough of to finish it off.  I'm hoping it might be donation sized in the end (50x70) but it's looking a bit short for that.  In any case, I'll probably give it away somewhere, because 4 years later the colours just don't speak to me the way they did when I bought the fabric.

Sunday, 7 January 2018


Another finish from the end of last year. In pulling out projects to work on at a retreat, I stumbled across some fabric I had been hoarding - a fat quarter bundle of these cardinals and some coordinating fabrics.  So, I took it along to a retreat and decided to figure something out.

First, I cut the cardinal fabric apart and frame each bird with one of the fat quarters. I liked the blue for background, but it wasnt' quite enough to go around all the birds - but then I realized I had lots of the trees left, from the cardinal piece. So I lined them up, trying to complete the trees from inside the frames in some places. Filled the rest in with the blue, and voila!

I custom quilted it, continuing the birch trees in the blank spaces and it is now hanging in my front window for the month of January (my goal is a different hanging for each month - a quilt in the window helps clients identify my house when they come)

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Block Party plan

My block party group starts up again this month, and I'm on deck for the first meeting. I've had a quilt in mind for a while now - ever since I quilted it for a customer.  At our December meeting, I fell in love with some fabric - the purple paisleys in the back, in this photo. So I bought what I though was enough for the quilt and set out to prepare my plan. Unfortunately, I was math-challenged that day, and only ended up with 1/2 of what I would need.  I considered a follow-up shopping trip to buy more, but instead I decided to go stash diving.

The colour in these photos is terrible :( but I came up with a lovely set of purples and teals for my quilt. I think the tone-on-tone from my stash will give the quilt more life than it would have had if I'd gone with the original plan (all  paisleys).  Here is my first set of test blocks, to take to the Block Party meeting at the end of the month.  None of the pretty fabric made it into these testers, because I wanted to save it all for the final quilt.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018


This is a post-Christmas holiday post. I have had this reindeer panel in my stash for a couple of years now. It goes with the Christmas tree (finished and hanging in my front window every December) and the wreath (quilted but not bound, wall hanging).  I finally decided it was time to get him out and do something.  I had originally made the log cabin blocks to frame the wreath, but decided that did not need anything, so they were re-purposed here for the reindeer.  The corner snowflakes were originally attached to the panel. Removing them gave me a nice ratio to work with, and the bonus corner blocks. Which was perfect, because I was out of fabric for the log cabins.

The border print was originally going to be the backing, but I had a grey flannel that I used instead, to make it soft and cuddly.  Again, I had just enough to cut continuous, upright, strips of reindeer for the borders.  The binding isn't attached in this photo, but it is dark blue. Quilt was finished in time to snuggle under it for Christmas Eve.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year

I just wouldn't be New Year's Day without the annual mystery-fest.  In fact, this year 2 of my old standbys for New Year's mysteries have abandoned me.  So that left me with the option of Merry Mayhem, who is still going strong with her fabulous designs.  I talked myself out of it
several times. I have Bonnie Hunter to work on, and more than enough UFOs in my closet. I certainly don't need another one. 

I was holding strong - until about 5:00 today when I went downstairs to quilt a couple of charity quilts for Victoria's Quilts. We meet next Wednesday, and I am way behind on my commitment to them.  But, the new longarm does its job well, and really doesn't need me at all for most of the time.  So, rather than sitting around doing nothing, I pulled some fabric, loaded up Merry's web page, and got to work.

2 charity quilts complete, and one New Year's Day mystery - DONE.  Ok, it's just a little bitty top, and it still needs quilting, but the mystery part is done.  I might make another set of blocks and join them - that would create a quilt the right size for Victoria's Quilts. But for now, I have once again succumbed to the lure of the New Year's Day mystery and mastered it.

Now, back to sewing Bonnie Hunter's quilt together.  Here are a couple of my blocks.  Lots more to assemble before I can start putting this quilt together.