Well … a lot has happened since February 2020. The whole world has just turned upside down. My 96 year old grandmother commented that she has never, ever seen or heard anything like this in her life time. She lived through the Great Depression, so that’s saying something. For my first blog post, we’re going to focus on positives. I don’t know about you, but I’m done being a depressasorus Rex. 🙂
It may not surprise you to know that not much quilting has gotten done since March. Well, some has, some has not. I think I only touched my sewing machine during the month of August. I had a due date, you see. A very important due date.
No, not me. Sheesh, people.
My little brother and his wife were expecting this year! They announced it in April and the due date was October 2. It is the first baby boy in our family, so we were all very excited. My sisterIL went with buffalo plaid for the baby colours. That seemed like a perfect opportunity to pull out a fabric bundle that I impulse-bought over a year ago …
Isn’t that just perfect?? And I loved the cartoon Canadian things. 🙂 Along with immediately knowing the fabric, I knew what pattern I wanted to use. Something simple and big (for fast quilt making). The winner was Backyard Chicks by Down Grapevine Lane. My original idea was to use the red buffalo plaid as the background, but that didn’t happen for two reasons. 1 – the picture above is way too busy, isn’t it? 2 – evidently, buffalo plaid is REALLY popular this year and no one was getting the fabric re-stocked until the fall. I had to custom order what I had from the States. It was not a cheap order and there wasn’t enough to do the whole quilt. I took the cute little moose fabric into FibreChick and had Kim help me pick out something that would go well. Here is what we came up with:
I think that looks really good! And it works well with the pattern. One reason I wanted to use big blocks was to really showcase the awesome fabric. I find the pattern gets lost when you use little blocks. That’s okay for some things, but this stuff is too cute to hide!
I did my basting outside on the pop-up table. I thought that was a great way to get some outdoor air while still focusing on the quilt! I also took the opportunity to cut some of my next quilts outside on the table. I have a friend who is due in December. When I start piecing that, I’ll give you a preview!
I did manage to get the quilt done in time for my sisterIL’s baby shower, which made me very happy. I actually got it done a couple of weeks before the shower. Crazy, right?? It turns out to be a good thing – September got very disrupted and someone decided to come early. He’s pretty cute, though, so I think I’ll forgive him. 🙂
Just in case you somehow missed it, 2020 was the year the entire planet was ravaged by the Corona virus, COVID19. Most countries completely shut down, even third-world countries that would normally lump through. No one in, no one out, and lots of people stopped working. To call it a stressful time for most everyone is a bit of an understatement.
It started out not too bad for me. I lucked my way into an opportunity to buy a serger! It’s an older model from the 90s (Husqvarna Husklock 936), but it still goes for 700-800$ online because it does coverstitch. I was fortunate enough to get mine for 200$. Whoo hoo! First thing I did was make a ton of masks and ship them off to the families. I tried to pick some of the brightest fabric I had. If you’re forced to cover up your face, it may as well be happy colours! I of course kept a couple for myself and made some more muted ones for Husband. He’s not what you would call a flamboyant character.
The summer started out pretty well too. I was determined to enjoy the lovely weather as much as I possibly could. Fortunately for us, we don’t live in a big mega city, so it’s easy to get into the great outdoors with minimum effort. It sucked not being able to see people, but that was a problem for most everyone. Mid-summer comes and my husband takes time off to try to finish up some of the bigger parts of the reno’s we’ve been working on. Sometimes when you do remodelling, things wind up bing more in-depth then you originally realize. Prime example was our bathroom. When redoing part of the bathroom, we discovered someone had boarded over a whole closet in the wall. Besides being creepy, it made us re-adjust our plan for the space. Well, the rest of the house is pretty much going the same way, but it’s going about as poorly as you could ever expect a remodel to go. At one point, I had to go visit my parents for a couple weeks so I could work in peace while he hammered away at things that needed to be done as fast as possible. It’s had a surprising impact on our relationship. We are doing better now than we did before, but physically and emotionally, we’re getting run down.
My family was not spared loss during the pandemic. We first lost my auntie in May – the one I made the Winter Garden quilt for. I was so thankful that I could get that to her before the pandemic. If I had waited a couple of weeks, she never would have seen it. It was tough on everyone, especially my grandmother. My aunt was her last living sibling and they had been living together until October 2019. Grandma was expecting her to pass, but it was still so difficult when it happened. Since it was the height of the pandemic, visits were kept to a minimum. One of my dad’s siblings was able to get an exception for a couple of hours to go in, break the news to her, and stay with her, but that was it until the summer. Even when restrictions started to be lifted, her place was one of the last to allow visitors, starting in August. Her birthday was early August. Some family in the area set up a drive-by birthday celebration to help lift her spirits, but Grandma had been having a very tough summer health-wise and I believe that the isolation was starting to impact her very hard. I had scheduled a COVID test followed by a visit for the next week, but she didn’t make it that far. She fell and broke something, landing in the hospital. When she finally got back to her residence, she was only there a few days before she complained about feeling very ill. They sent her back to the hospital around 7 in the evening and we got a call that she had passed unexpectedly around 10:30.
The following week was tough. I was very close to my grandmother. I felt cut off from her due to the pandemic and I felt cheated of saying goodbye. I used the week to quilt out some of the emotion. I decided to make a pattern called “Tree of Life” to hang on my wall in memory. It helped, surprisingly enough. I pulled out a lot of pictures of my grandmother over the years and had them scattered around my sewing room. I took my favourite and printed it on some fabric to attach to the back as a label. I even used the same backing I used on the quilt I made for her. The two weeks I spent with my parents, while stressful, was also therapeutic. We talked a lot about Grandma, had some tears, some laughs, and started remembering the happy things more than the sad reality.
The end of October and start of November, while not bad, is definitely adding to the stress. I got a temporary job placement in August and two additional positions were posted recently. I applied and have two job interviews coming up in November. The outcome will dictate if I get a new role (with a new pay) or go back to my home position for the foreseeable future. I always find this process stressful and I have two happening at the same time, each of which are two-part interviews. 4 days of interviews. yaaaaaaay.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to Christmas. 🙂
Did you see that?? We have a new catagory tag! UFO! 😀 After the last post, I deemed February “UnFinished Object” month. I’ve said from the start that I don’t want a big stack of UFO quilts, so I decided to at least get started on my list.
Item 1: The Happy Village.
The very first guild meeting was a demo and workshop by a newly local quilter who has been hosting these classes in a few major Canadian cities. The Happy Village is a tiny scrap-busting project where you make a city (usually your hometown) out of fabric. There is a method to doing it (fabric layers, background features, then houses, then roofs, then embellishments), but it’s mostly freedom of imagination. The quilter’s sample was absolutely darling and several people made lovely villages. In typical M style, a colour bukaki village was promptly constructed, complete with a strawberry sky and a Pizza Hut. My tablemates were no help. As soon as they realized how excited sugar-high M gets when finding weird bits of usual fabric, they were tossing gold-embossed and glow-in-the-dark fabric bits at me. AND I LOVED IT! 😀 I know that my little village doesn’t really look classically beautiful like everyone else’s, but it totally suits me. The white dots in the strawberry sky are actually glow-in-the dark specks, so the sky and the fireflies on the hill light up! It’s perfect. It technically falls into the UFO category because it’s been sitting on my work table for over a month, all pinned in place. I finally took an evening to quilt down the tulling on top, add a binding, and secure a sleeve. A sleeve goes on the back of the quilt with a gap through it to hang on a rod – like curtains on a curtain rod. That’s how most wall-mounted quilts are hung. All I have left is to insert a rod and find a place to proudly hang it in my sewing room. 🙂 UFO#1 = DONE!
UFO #2 – The De La Luna tote.
We have already glossed over my love for Tula Pink fabric and for the De La Luna fabric in particular. Here’s how much I love it – even though I already have a full meter of the whole fabric line, I simply had to pick up another half-meter curated bundle from Royal Quilts when Alexandra had it on sale last year. After looking at the fabric multiple (MULTIPLE) times, I finally decided to make a bag with it. I cut out the face fabrics with a particular goal in mind for the bag, the piled all the pieces on my spare fabrics pile and moved on to slightly more urgent projects (wedding quilt*COUGH*). It’s been sitting there ever since. Now that February is UFO month, I reached back to this project to complete it. Since plucking it from obscurity, I developed a new vision of the bag. Want to see?
Step 1: Sew the face blocks together to make the front and back of the bag. I considered mixing up the turquoise and purple face fabrics, but I couldn’t settle on a mixture that I liked, so I made one side turquoise and the other purple. I was initially going to sew the faces together with the narrow sashing between them, but I needed a little more width on the bag, so I sewed back in the section I had cut out from between the faces. It’s sort of dumb when I say it like that, but I think the effect is actually very striking. For one thing, it makes the ghosted eye stand out of the middle panel. If (read: WHEN, since I only used half the Royal Quilt bundle so far) I make a second bag, I will switch the colours on the middle panel so the purple eye is on the turquoise side and the turquoise eye is on the purple side. I didn’t even think about that until I was sewing the last face section together. I have more eye strips set aside, so I did the fabric switch on the last block and it looked AMAZING … but I didn’t want to rip out everything I’d done so far, so I left it as is! 😀
In the span of a week, I got the bag almost completely made. The side panels, while neat, caused a little bit of havoc because I don’t have a pattern for this. I’m making it up as I go, so I jury-rigged the installation. It came out fine and I learned some lessons for the next time. I have the cross-body strap cut out and ready to go – I’m just waiting on some rainbow-coloured hardware I ordered from Emmeline Bags (PERFECT, right???). This bag really should have two handles embedded in the front and back … however, I really don’t like bag handles. They keep slipping off my narrow shoulders, especially in the winter. I’d rather carry the bag cross-body so it doesn’t fall off, so strap it is! There are inner “pocket” sections that I sewed in using a special decorative stitch. Do you see what it is?? A moth!!! Like the death-head moths on the outer bag! I thought that was the coolest!! 😀 Also, when I free-motion stitched the outside, I thought it was neat to stitch around the moths, even in the black parts. Maybe that’s just me … and that’s okay too! Even though the strap isn’t actually sewed on, everything else is absolutely done, so I’m calling UFO #2 = DONE!
UFO #3 – My VERY FIRST project! I bought a half-meter of this flannel when I first started to quilt so I could practice free-motion quilting. I kept the first one because … well, it was my very first quilt, and I did a lot of little different styles, so not suitable for babies. I wanted to re-make the blocks to try a different visual design. This week was quilt camp weekend, so I did it at camp on RED! 😀 I love RED. And she’s so popular with the ladies! Anyways, back to the quilt. I really like the way it turned out! Only problem – it’s slightly too narrow for a baby quilt for guild. I have two options. If Fabricland still has this fabric (HIGHLY unlikely after 2 years), I can buy enough to make a final row. If not, I’m going to use the complimenting brown border fabric to expand it and put something different on the back. I’ll have this done by Tuesday and take it in to guild next Monday, so I’m calling UFO #3 = Done!
UFO #4 – The orange peel quilt.
Yup – I jumped back into the orange peel quilt. It’s been weighing on my conscience. This is supposed to be MY quilt for my side of the bed. I boxed it to work on other people’s quilts, but I don’t want to keep it in a box indefinitely. Plus, I want it on my bed!!! So it’s come out of retirement.
Part of the reason it got shelved was the curved piecing . I know I spoke about this before and I don’t think I was too negative about it at the time … but the truth is that the curved piecing got to me. I was really struggling with it and it shows. That first block looks very rough and the back is a boiling hot mess. :S I’m pretty sure I tore the fabric in the middle point during the 6th or 7th attempt to piece it, so I’ll be FMQing the crap out of it to keep it from coming apart when I assemble it. That is NOT the correct way to fix this problem, but I’m very very short on both the coral and the black fabric, so I have no margin for error. Anyways – problems with curved piecing were scaring me, so it went to UFO jail for a while.
I decided to take it to quilt camp. It’s very possibly the last quilt camp weekend for a bit, so I figured I’d take the orange peel to work on. I work slower at quilt camp with all the socializing I do, but I’m also more relaxed about my work, so I thought that might help. OMG … if you’re a newbie quilter like me, get into a quilting group! If it’s a guild with quilting days, that’s fine, but attending this quilt camp (some places call them “quilt retreats”) where you’re sitting with people who have been quilting for years is invaluable! The lady who was sitting on my right (coincidentally, she’s part of my quilt guild and we’ve been slowly getting better acquainted) saw I was attempting curved piecing and gave me a couple of very simple tips. Frickin’ witchcraft, I’m telling you! The curved piecing is going together like magic! There are no puckers, no flat spots, and it presses down perfectly! Nancy, I absolutely love you!! THANK YOU!!!!
Now, my pieces aren’t exactly square and the center is HUGE because of all the meeting seams, but that’s mostly due to the crappy template I’m using. I’d get a plastic template to do this again in the future, but for now I just want to get this done. I’ll hide the wiggly edges in the piecing when I put the blocks together. Since I’ll only get 40″x40″ out of the fabric I have, I’m going to take advantage of the fact that Stacey over at Troll Brother’s Quilts is having a sale and found a couple of these coral bundles left over from last year. Picking up one more bundle will get me to 50″x70″. It’ll be slightly smaller than the twin quilt I originally intended for our double-sheet sleeping arrangement, but it’ll be miles better than a lap quilt and I’m short! 🙂 UFO#4 = moving into production status. Good enough! I won’t get it done in a weekend, but I can cut and piece it over the summer when I need a break from the niece quilt. Hopefully, I’ll have a bed quilt by the fall! Yay M!!! 😀
I have BOTM work to get done and a guild demonstration to prep for, but I’m happy with the work I did this month. 🙂 Come on, March! I know you’re hiding spring and I want to see it!
The aunt quilt is finished! In a way, I’m glad to see the end of it. The borders caused me no end of trouble. I decided to do a 4-patch in the corners with some of the scraps (which turned out super cute!) with a stripe border. This brought the final size to 42″x40″ (I think … I didn’t even measure the final!). That stripe border … granted, I was having a really bad mental day that day, what with sewing the stripes on backwards THREE TIMES!!!, but I just couldn’t measure the sides properly to save my life. They kept coming out too large. I finally quit in a rage for a couple of days before trying again with great success. 😛
I decided to quilt fake cursive on the green/yellow rectangles and continuous curves on the big pansy blocks. The continuous curves hid in the pansies (which is what I wanted) and the fake cursive showed up boldly on the rectangles. I like the look! I did some ruler work on the border. Man oh man … I have to practice in the future! I had so much trouble on the first stretch of border before I figured it out and finished the rest! In case you’re ever wondering – Husqvarna sewing machines do not like to FMQ with rulers. Thankfully, I prefer not to use rulers unless I’m trying to get something super straight or super symmetrical.
It was my father’s birthday this weekend, so on our way up to visit them, we stopped in on my aunt to drop off the quilt. She loved it! She whipped off the minky blanket she had on her lap and pulled mine on right away. I think it’s going to be well-used. Her room is fairly pastel-y and china-y (as in dishes, not country), so that lap quilt is a real bolt of colour in the room. They are her favourite colours, incidently – I didn’t even know that until just now! I also dropped off my sister’s table runner, but I didn’t get feedback on that yet. The kidlets were SIIIICK, so that branch of the family didn’t show up for the birthday party. I left the table runner with my mother, so my sister will probably get it sometime next week.
I was feeling a bit at a loss, trying to decide on my next project. I know I should pull out the orange peel slices and finish the quilt, but I’m not quite ready to tackle that. There’s still the tiger quilt(s) (remember that?), but it will be a very fast project to finish and I wanted something involved to start. Then, I remembered a promise I made a year ago, so …
DUN DUN DUN. It’s finally time for the niece’s quilt! My initial plan was to make up my own pattern, but I decided to go with a pre-made pattern that came with the fabric line. It’s called the Starburst pattern – coincidentally, one of my favourite candies in high school. I think I have all the fabric I need for it. I checked the fabric requirements and it should use up the whole fat quarter bundle. I need 1/8 of each of the solids and I have 1/4, so there’s lots of that too! This does leave a gaping hole in my Tula Pink collection at Fabrique Estates. Don’t worry about that too much, though … I already have something coming in March to plug it up. 😉
I am so pumped for the 2020 quilting season! I’ve got some fun projects planned and I can’t wait to start!!! For the first year of the new decade, I’m only committing to projects I actually want to work on. That means signing up for only one BOTM (with FibreChick again) and not forcing myself to complete everything I start … unless there’s a deadline for some reason … speaking of, let’s introduce the first two quilts of 2020! 😀
I started this quilt on New Year’s Eve. My first cousin was expecting her second daughter in January and I decided to make a very brightly coloured quilt centered around an owl panel I picked up last year. I started of with two colour blocks – one warm and one cool, all the colours from the owl blocks. The solid colour blocks are called churn-dash blocks. The churn-dash pattern has many alternate names and is usually made with two colours to emphasize a specific design in the block, but I decided to use five colours. It causes different components to stand out on each block, which makes the pattern look different on each block.
I took a break to do something else with my sewing room. I hung up my design wall! I picked up some 0.5lb 3M Command hooks and stuck 4 of them on the wall. Then I hung my design felt to it and BOOM! Design walll!! The location is temporary. Do you see the plastic-covered item leaning against the wall? That is the glass form for the shower. When it’s installed and the room has been finished, the sewing room door will open against that wall. I intend to move the design wall behind the door. It will be a good use of the space without interfering with the door’s path. Plus, the wall won’t be facing the sunny window in that place. The sun will prematurely age the design wall and potentially fade quilt blocks where it is in the long-term.
This allowed me to put up the blocks once I was finished. The warm blocks look beautiful, but they are too autumn-coloured to got with all the other blocks in the quilt. I cut and sewed four more churn-dash blocks using more jewel tones, but including a couple brighter fabrics to include some yellow and red to round out the owl-blocks.The owl blocks were set on a black fabric, so I decided to use black sashing to space all the blocks. I think the effect is bright, colourful, yet cohesive. The design wall was very helpful for laying out the blocks in the way looks best and to keep the rows organized.
I think the piecing took me three days, including the re-making of the warm blocks. It was immediately on to the quilting! I used scrap batting from my last two quilts and flannel I picked up at one of the guild meetings. Stash busting!!! I used an electric orange thread to do the quilting. I put continuous curves into the squares (this is swiftly turning into a favourite design for me) and a meander with loops around the owls. I also traced the owls, their eyes, and their wings. I ran a looping meander in the sashing between the blocks and around the border. The orange stands out beautifully on the black! I did something a little special with the top and bottom of the quilt. The baby was literally born as I was doing the quilting, so I “wrote” her first and middle name at the top of the quilt and the date at the bottom. It’s the first time I’ve ever done quilt-writing. It’s fairly easy – I just need a little practice!
I got to play with a new tool! Husqvarna came out with a binding tool for putting the binding on quilts. It’s not as perfect as doing it the long way yourself, but it saves me almost two days of pressing in half, then in quarters, then pinning on one side, then pinning on the other side. No folding, no pinning, and I only sew the binding once! It stitches the back and the front of the binding at the same time! It’s been worth every single penny for getting things done FAST. Merry Christmas to me!
Now that the quilt is in a box and on it’s way to the East Coast, I’ve started my next quilt for my great aunt. My grandmother has one sister left alive. She loved Grandma’s quilt, so I decided to make her a lap quilt. She’s recently re-located to a nursing home and I wanted something she could use all day long instead of something that stays on her bed. One of my favourite online quilting stores, Troll Brothers Quilt Designs, organized a de-stash to raise money for a sick individual who is close to her. I picked this beautiful pansy fabric. The pansies are outlined in metallic gold. I thought it would be a beautifully bright for her to look at. I asked Stacie to pick out three fat quarters of complimenting colours and include it in the bundle when she sent it to me. I want to make disappearing nine-patch blocks highlighting the pansies. I can’t wait to share it with you next!
Have you ever had life get so intensely busy that you lose any drive to work at fun things? That’s sort of what happened to me. Two weddings, two job interviews, family events, and home maintenance adventures, it all drained me in a way I hadn’t expected. I didn’t even get my assigned blocks done a couple of times, although at least one of those was due to an issue with the instructor not having enough blocks to go around.
One of the things that fueled my disconnect with my hobby were the projects that I absolutely had to do. I had my brother-in-law’s quilt to finish the quilting on and I had a block-of-the-month quilt to work on. I’ve been really struggling with the block-of-the-month quilt. The rows I received over the summer included a lot of paper piecing (more on that another day) and teeny-tiny pieces. I mean – just look at this block! And there are 8 of these blocks total to have finished!!! It didn’t help that I did the first block wrong and I don’t have enough pieces to finish all 8. I will figure that out, but I’ll need time to sit down and go through everything and re-design it. I simply don’t have the interest in this quilt to do it right now. It might just turn into my first UFO. If it doesn’t get done in 2020, I’m okay with that. I got the parts done that I felt I could get done in a timely manner. It will be pretty whenever I get it done. I really liked the flying geese I did. I don’t know why the colour order makes me feel happy, but it really does. 🙂
One quilt that got finished was the wedding quilt for my brother-in-law. The piecing was done before the wedding, but the quilting wasn’t finished in time, so I gave it to them the next time I saw them. I’m actually kind of glad that I didn’t have it done in time for the wedding. Everything was so chaotic that day, there’s a good chance I would have forgotten it anyways! It took a lot of mental focus to force myself to get back to quilting it. I was coming up with the quilting pattern as I went. It was a meandering stipple with hearts added every so often. I even quilted some squares specially instead of just an all-over meander. My new sister-in-law was very excited when she received the quilt for Christmas. She even sent me a picture of their bedroom the very next day with the quilt on the bed. It felt so good to get that quilt out the door and to the recipient. 🙂
I finally started getting back into the swing of things over Christmas, mostly on Christmas Eve. It started with a last-minute wine bottle bag for a Christmas gift to a coworker. Then, at the last second, I decided to make two table runners for my sisters. I got one completely finished before going to see everyone on Christmas Day, the second one was almost completely finished except the quilting details. It’s done now and I’ll be dropping it off when I visit in January.
I am finally getting back into it! The next post will be what I started in 2020 – and I finished it in a little less than a week! I can’t wait to show you!!!
I finally finished the block work for the 2018-2019 BOTM class with FibreChick!
When last we visited this project, the final block had been assigned in … June I want to say??? Yes, June! I took the block home and tossed it in the project box with the other blocks because I had other things to do. During the quilt weekend in September (more on that later), I met up with Kim and bought two more blocks to make 12 blocks in total. I also got the first block of the new 2019-2020 BOTM class. Ironically, I’ll have missed both the September and the October classes because of weddings. Stop getting married, people!
I quickly made up the June block. It’s called “Falling Leaves”. It’s a very popular pattern, especially here in Canada because of the maple-leaf design. I was at the Quilts-by-the-Bay quilt show last week (it’s hosted here in town by our guild) and there were no fewer than 5 quilts made out of the Falling Leaves pattern. I still intend to make a full quilt of them sometime in the future, but I’ll need to really think about how I make it so it looks different than the others. Actually, I already have an idea … I should jot it down in my idea book.
After officially finishing the assigned block, I decided to go back and fix a block that I did slightly wrong the first time around. It’s call the Lightning block (for very obvious reasons). When I made it the first time, I pieced all the zigzags and then sewed them together. The block was at least 1/2 an inch bigger on all sides than the other blocks. It wasn’t until the next class that I realized it was because I failed to read the instructions through before working (baaaaaad M!!!). I was supposed to re-cut the zigzags to a certain size, then sew them together. I ripped up all the blocks, pressed them, cut them, then re-sewed them. Now it’s the same size as the other blocks in the bin!
Next up was the first of the two extra blocks. Back in January, this block had been assigned to us. I made it back then, but I got the points backwards and didn’t realize it until I was putting the final four pieces together. I’m pretty sure I was running late with the block (SURPRISE 😛 ) and I really didn’t feel like ripping out everything to fix it (I would have had to pull apart each piece to fix it), so I submitted it as “Done with a whoopsie”. Kim said that she liked the block even better the way I did it (she wasn’t a fan of how the original block looked, but she was going for a Christmas-themed block and it fit the bill). She named it the Ferris Wheel Block and updated her pattern to show that as an alternate. For one of my final blocks, I decided to re-do it the way it was supposed to be done. I can’t believe how different they look, even though it’s literally one piece sewn differently! When it’s all in a quilt, I wonder if anyone will even notice that they’re technically not different blocks. I present – the Poinsettia Block!
Last block. I’ve known for a while what I wanted to do for this one. I wanted to re-do the very first block I did in this class – the Powassan Poesy. When I made the first block, I had NO skills. There was no accurate piecing going on, no matching points, no straight (or accurate 1/4″) seams and I was ironing all my seams open. Ohhh n00b M. 🙂 That’s okay, thought! That’s what learning is about. I wanted to see if I could notice any differences if I re-made the block. To give it a different feel, I even changed up how I pieced the block. There is absolutely a difference in my skill level! Even my husband noticed when he looked at the two blocks. Practicing makes a huge difference.
Now that all my blocks are finished, I need to make the quilt! I have a plan for the quilt I want to make with them. I just need to talk to Kim first to get what I need and I’ll be ready to start machine quilting this winter. I can’t wait! Also – here’s a sneak-peak of this year’s block. I’m not a huge fan of the food-for-thought quotes on the blocks (I’m not the kind of person that’s into those things), but I LOVE the colours!!! I can’t wait to make them all!
Next on the hit list is the bro-in-law wedding quilt. Thanks to the lovely lady at the quilt retreat, I got all the strips cut and assembling the blocks is going SO much quicker! However, after 5 days straight of piecing blocks (and getting about 1-1.5 blocks done per session), I’m running out of love for this project. It’s my own fault, really. The wedding is the 15th of September. I’ve sort of already resigned myself to not having it done on time, but there is a long weekend coming up, so who knows what sort of magic might happen?
I decided that I needed to do something a little different tonight as a break. I have another quilt retreat coming up with the same group of people in September (the weekend after the wedding, so the quilt will definitely be done before September ends!) They have several commitment projects that people are supposed to contribute to, like lap quilts for one of the local nursing homes. I’m super new to this group and didn’t know about some of these commitments before signing up. Plus, I’ve had zero time this summer to do any sewing except deadline sewing that absolutely needs to get done as a priority. Plus, I’m working full time and have some responsibilities at home and elsewhere. I feel like that exempts me from some of the responsibilities, but I wanted to do at least one thing that got assigned. I decided to do the pincushion that they asked us to bring completed to the next retreat. It’s probably going to wind up being a pincushion trade, but I thought it’d be fun to try!
I was going to try to make a cactus pincushion (I KNOW RIGHT?!), but I found this super cute and super fast little pincushion on Pinterest and had just the perfect fabric for it!
I have a confession to make. I bought more fabric recently … I know, I’m a bad bad girl … but it was in the interest of the wedding quilt! I found the perfect backing online and this adorable little fabric package was available at the same time and just dying to come home to me. And I’m already using it! So I get a pass, right? Ignore the fact that I used a 1.5 inch square off each fat quarter and nothing else …
And the finished product! I think it’s absolutely the sweetest wee thing I’ve ever made. I hope there isn’t a trade … I want to keep it now! I can always make another one, though. I did not take a picture of the back because my sewing job was a bit hack, but I was more worried about keeping all the filling from ever falling out than I was about making it pretty. Besides – it’s the bottom of a pincushion. No one will ever notice. And if they don’t want it, I’m keeping it!!! 😉
I didn’t forget to blog this time … I just ran out of time. There was quilting to be done!
I managed to get the Grandma quilt done, but just under the wire (23 minutes to spare …). I didn’t even have a chance to wash it. I told her that if it ever needs to be washed, she’s to ask me to do it. I need to make sure no colours bleed. There’s a lot of white on that quilt!!! I did do a test of all the fabrics soaking in hot water and no dye came out, so maybe she’ll be okay if it gets washed without me. Let’s not tempt fate though, alright Grandma??
Last we spoke, we had the quilt burrito on the table and ready to quilt. As usual, I started with the center. It’s the hardest part to quilt because it has the thickest quilt roll taking up space in the throat. I find it easier to do the hard part first when I’m all fired up to work and gradually reward and encourage myself to keep going as I get to easier and easier sections. First though, the planning. At work, I’ll go through lull periods once in a while. They’re usually only a few days long when the last project is all but wrapped up and the new project hasn’t been issued yet. It can get deadly dull, so I try to have a few personal projects to work on at these times. During the last lull, I just couldn’t get this quilt out of my head, so I took the opportunity to doodle quilt designs on a copy of the quilt top template during a meeting. Green is for the designs focused around the big stars and pink is around the small stars. I came up with most of these ideas while I was quilting the top, but it felt good to see it on paper! I decided to be daring and try to quilt *gasp* FEATHERS in the border. We’ll see how I did!
I also picked out the thread before quilting. White is for the white bits (duh), mint is for the small green-and-purple stars, green is for both the big and small green-and-yellow stars, and the purple is for the big purple-and-green stars. I tried to pick something that would blend well on both sides of the the star … except the purple. I went for broke on the purple thread. What can I say – I really like that purple thread! This is the new Glide thread that I bought two cases of back in the new year. It is a HUGE improvement over the 40 weight Superior Threads “So Fine” thread. My sewing machine does not like quilting with that stuff. I’m using it for piecing right now to use it up.
I just wanted to highlight the star blocks, so I used point-to-point straight lines to “point” at the stars. I used arcs and loops inside the stars. I was mostly playing with designs on this quilt. I messed up a good portion of them, but when the quilt is on the bed, you can’t even tell unless you’re looking at each individual block. 🙂 The mint green thread blended in perfectly on the small star, don’t you think? One last thing I did on this block after I put it back on the machine is I added one extra arrow line on the bottom triangle. I know all the others only had three, but because I left such a big gap, it was more noticeable to have three lines with a big gap than one triangle with an extra lines. Things that are good to know for the future!
After the center was done, I did the top and bottom, then left and right. I did not do the borders at this stage – I left that for the end so I could just spin the quilt and keep all the bulk off to the side of the sewing machine. This also made me less nervous to quilt the feather borders because I wasn’t also focusing on fighting the quilt bulk in the throat. Every time I completed a side, I had to drag the quilt downstairs to re-roll it for accessing the next edge. The joys of working in small spaces! The good thing about this is it helped me catch the one or two times that I accidentally sewed down a flap on the backing. ARRRRRG!!! I’d rip them out at the table and mark them with safety pins. Once I was finished everything (or if I got close to a pin while wuilting a different section, I hunted for pins and fixed any mistakes I had to rip out.
Feathers!! I’d never ever done them before this quilt and everyone online who tries them for the first time complains long and loud that they’re really hard. I was super nervous!!! As you go through life, you’ll find one or two things that just come naturally to you that everyone else seems to be struggling to do (I’m looking at you, math nerds. Your awesome brains suck. 😛 ) For me, it’s feathers. There are some patterns that feel super natural for me to make (like the wishbones or “fake cursive” I used in the eagle quilt). Thankfully, feathers were one of those things! I was actually happy how they turned out!
This part of the blog is where things fall apart a bit. While rushing to finish, I forgot to take pictures. Actually, I didn’t even remember to take pictures of me giving it to my grandmother for her birthday or of it on her bed for over a week. That’s okay, though, because I did eventually get a picture of it on her bed. She was so so happy with her quilt and that makes all the work totally worth it! 🙂
So … I didn’t start with either of the projects I have coming due. Who’s surprised?? No one? Me either. 😛
First, I got distracted by a new project I’ve been thinking of doing for some time now. I figured it would be super easy and super fast, so why not start there? I’m making sleep masks. 🙂 I’m extremely light-sensitive when I’m trying to sleep – oh, the wars over the lights that my brother and I fought as kids – and husband is often up later than me when he’s on call. Solution? A sleep mask. I’ve bought a few over the years – I usually wear out one a year – and thought, “Why don’t I just make them out of my scraps instead?”
First, I drew a template using a current sleep mask on to batting and cut it down. The pictures show version 2. Since I have a long, thin nose, some masks are uncomfortable because they put too much pressure on the bridge of my nose, so I cut the nose curve higher on version 1 and even higher on version 2. I think I have it about right now. Next step was to cut some scrap fabric the same size as the batting template. I had some long pieces of De La Luna that I couldn’t throw away (Again – no one shows surprise!), so I cut them up for this project. I tried to get the little butterflies to land in the middle of the mask. I was only successful with one, but they still function perfectly well as masks. I decided to use some thin elastic I had in my sewing kit to make the string around. Remember to put the elastic inside the mask before sewing!!! Guess what happened to version 1? Yeah … and remember to leave a gap at the top to pull the mask inside out. It has to be big enough that the fabric will fit through when bunched up. That part I did remember!
Once the mask was flipped out, I used my fingers to push out all the edges for a smoother look, pinned the open top in place, and pressed it with an iron to get a crisp line. Then it was simple to run a 1/8″ topstitch around the edge. Voila! Sleeping mask for Auntie M! I even modeled it for you.
Mmm so sexy. 😀 On version 2, I matched the thread colour for the top stitch, but on version 1, I just wanted to finish it to see what worked/didn’t work.
On to distraction #2! Wait … you didn’t think the sleep mask was the only thing keeping me from the work I was supposed to be doing, did you? Tut tut. Distraction #2 – a cousin called me last week to announce … her daughter is expecting a sister in January! 😀 Yay more family babies!!! The last time any babies were born to our family, I was crocheting baby blankets. I get to quilt a baby blanket instead this time!!! 😀 TO THE FABRIQUE ESTATES!!!
I have a few (very very few, surprisingly) panels in my stash, most of which are for babies. Since it’s super early, we don’t know the gender of the little one. That doesn’t really matter anyways for this cousin – when she was expecting her first daughter (and knew it was a girl), she decorated her baby room with seafoam green, royal purple, and robin-egg blue. She and I are cut from the same cloth! 😀 I decided to go with the owls panel I bought last winter. Kelly from The Cottage Quilter demoed the panel at quilt guild and as soon as I saw it, I had to have one. I’m so glad now that I did!! I also pulled one of my stocks of solid fabrics and coordinated up a cool tone and a warm tone collection of 4 fabrics each. Everything is now set aside now until winter – I have to work on the other quilts – but it felt so cool to be able to go into my nicely-sorted room and just pull out what I needed. 🙂 Plus, I’m in design mode for the new quilt!! I love design mode. 😀
Finally … on to what I’m supposed to be doing!
First order of business: Grandma quilt. I know the window for getting at least one block before class this week is swiftly closing, but I wanted to have this done first. And I was so close!!! I had no idea that I had one row to sew on, then the border, then done! Why did I avoid doing this quilt for so long! It was almost finished! Oh well … It’s finished now. 😀 Because it’s huge, I had to hang it on the clothes line in order to attach the border. Snowdog was such a little jerk!!! He wanted to go in the house (because it was hot out and we have A/C inside now), so he kept stepping on the part of the quilt I was working on to get my attention. I was afraid he’d track dirt on it, so I gave into his demands. Spoiled boy!
When I measured it on the clothes line, it came up to 93″ square. The Cottage Quilter had a summer sale a few weeks ago, so I’ve already picked up the backing and the batting. I’ll baste the quilt sometime this week – probably Thursday after quilt class – and get cracking on the quilting part. I only have two weeks (not including the week we’re in) to get the quilting done and we’re going to the family cottage for the August long weekend cause Auntie M needs a break! A little pressure never hurt anyone, right? Oh, yeah … there’s also an interview to prep for next week and we have to finish the shed painting project … *le sigh* I’m just not going to be able to quilt it as extensively as I quilted Dan’s. That’s fine, I didn’t really intend to do it that intensely, but I did want to do a medium amount of quilting on it! Chop chop Auntie M.
Final sewing adventure (man I got busy this week!): the BOTM. The one I need to have at least one of so I don’t get dinged with a $5 fine? Oh, and it’s complicated … yay … It’s paper piecing. Paper piecing is cool because you put the fabric on the back side side, the sew through the paper following the line, flip it over, press back the top fabric, and like magic – it’s perfect! It’s also annoying because it’s all angles and I don’t cut my fabric to match it very well, but I managed to get three birds done all the same! That’s more than I expected of myself!! There are supposed to be 5 large and 7 small birds strutting across the row. I’ll probably do what I did with the Dresden plates and finish them before I start the next row. Please oh please … next month be easy!!! I would have taken the model picture on the quilt topped cutting station … but it was occupied. Animals, I tell you …