Monday, November 17, 2014

Have you watched Quilty lately?

I like watching Quilty.  Mary Fons, yes the daughter of Marianne Fons of Fons and Porter has been making episodes of Quilty again.
I love her "querky" "quilty" persona.  She's funny, smart, and easy to follow.  Her videos cover everything from the very basics for beginners to how to put difficult blocks together.  Along the way, she drops hints and tips and ideas from viewers.
You can find her videos on youTube ---- search Quilty.

There's only one problem, once I start watching, hours go by.  Seriously, I don't know where they go.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hello again

Wow.  I just checked in and can't believe it's been so long since my last post.  I guess life got away from me again
My darling son is now in high school.  It seems like yesterday I held him in my arms for the first time.  That wouldn't be easy now - he's taller than me and has a bigger shoe size!
My family has had a few ups and downs over the last 2 years.  My sister fought a battle with breast cancer and won !!
This summer my father passed away after a long battle with heart disease.  I miss him, but I know he is in a better place and no longer suffering.
Other events have kept us hopping, but somehow, I have made time for some sewing and quilting.

This quilt that is my banner now, is finally finished.  It took me over 2 years to complete.  I worked on it off and on, since the piecework was tedious.  Each 5" square has 25 pieces.  That's over 4,750 pieces just in the blocks!    I changed the border from the pattern as I wanted a simpler view.  So now that it's finished, I've renamed it "Stars over Ireland."

I've already completed a couple more quilts since that, the most recent being a queen sized falling charms from the Missouri Star Quilt Company video on youTube.   I love their videos, and Jenny, the hostess is a hoot!

My next major quilt I want to make is the most recent block of the month by Eleanor Burns.  I'm not sure of the name, but you can check it out here.
She has the video tutorials all posted.  Look for the "case of the missing quilt" series.  It's lots of fun and there are some really special guests on the videos.

I'm also teaching again.  We've started up a quilting group in our church.  There are about 10 ladies who come out twice a month.  There is a real spectrum of talent, from the raw beginner, to accomplished garment sewers, to experienced quilters.   It makes for a challenging group.
Right now we've put our block of the month on hold to make new banners for the church for the season of Advent.  We're making a series of 5 panels, each 18"x60" depicting one of the advent candles.   We're using raw edge applique.  They're starting to look good !   I'll try to post some pictures once they're completed.

The block of the month we're working on is a sampler wall quilt/table topper.   The center is a pieced wreath about 18" square made of squares and half square triangles  The border of that has appliqued flower boughs.   That is framed with a 1" border.   The next border is made of 6" squares of all different blocks.  We started with a snowball block, then a 9 patch, then did a disappearing 9 patch, friendship star, dutchmans puzzle, jacobs ladder, ohio star, , square in a square etc.  Each block building on the skills of the previous one.

It became clear along the way, that we as quilters are too hard on ourselves.  When I see someone obsessing over one clipped point out of 26 or so, I really feel the need to say "relax ! "  or as Eleanor Burns says - hang it high and keep it moving!   The only one who will see it is you, so go easier on yourself.  Do you think Rembrandt redid a painting because a brushstroke was off?

Anyway, I am going to revive this blog.  So if you're still out there, sent me a line.d


Sunday, September 22, 2013

No longer Missing in Action

Wow.  I didn't realize how much time had gone since my last post.  I guess I kind of missed the summer!  We did have a good summer with camping, day tripping, lazy days and my son had friends over for a week at a time - which is great because it keeps him from getting bored.

I've been busy crafting.  My son's school has a fall fest bazaar coming up the beginning of October.  I have a table booked for selling my crafts.  So, here's the short list:
My Highlands quilt  If someone is willing to pay the price I want for it, I'll sell it.
Several sock monkeys
Some tabletop place card holders - for parties, or wine and cheese etc - holds the id cards  Made from black binder clips painted with glitter nail polish and a gold braid tied around the "tabs" = cute.
Teddy bears - made of wash cloths with googly eyes :)
silver wire "viking weave" bracelets.
An apron or two
A dozen quilted, and appliqued table runners - most with a Christmas theme
Many winter themed quilted potholders
Some desk caddies for post it notes made out of dollar store photo frames.
and best of all
Bottlecap necklaces for young and old.

In preparation, I made a quilt stand to put up against the wall behind my table.  Cut one 12' 1 1/2" PVC  pipe into two equal halves.
2  pieces of 2 1/2" PVC pipe approx 24" long.
Take one wooden dowel, *I used a staircase ballister*  cut in half
One piece of 16"x36" MDF board cut into to squares.  Mark the middle.
Two large "eye" bolts.
One curtain rod

Drill a pilot hole through the middle of the boards. Use a larger bit to open the first part more so the screw will sink flush with the board.  Drill a pilot hole in the middle of the end of each wooden dowel
Screw the board to the end of the dowel X2
Slide the 2 1/2" PVC over the dowel.  Drill a pilot hole through the side into the side of the dowel and screw it together so the pipe won't slip off.
Now slide the long 1 1/2" PVC pipe into the larger pipe allowing the end to slide over the dowel inside the larger pipe.  This supports the upright pipes.
Slide the eye bolts onto the curtain rod.  Place it across the top of the upright posts just slipping the end of the eye bolts into the top of the pipes.   BINGO.
I'll take some pictures at the show so I have something to post soon.

This is the first time I'm having a craft table solo, so I hope it's a success.

I have a Square for my smart phone.
Have you heard about "Square?"
It's a method for smaller businesses to be able to accept credit cards.  The Square is about 1"x1" and plugs into the earphone jack of your smartphone.  You can swipe M/C or VIsa and it deposits the cash into your designated bank account the next day.  Your clients just sign your phone with a stylus that you can buy at a dollar store or a office supply - made for use on tablets or smart phones.
AND one of the best news stories this week was that the Square company is setting up offices in Kitchener Waterloo Ontario.  This is the good news that kind of buffers the nasty news of how Blackberry is laying off 40% of their staff in the same city.

So, wish me luck.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Muscular Dystrophy Association - Raffle quilt

I have a niece who has Muscular Dystrophy.  That alone makes doing volunteer work with the association meaningful.
Recently, I volunteered to design and make a quilt to be raffled as a fundraiser for the London Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Canada.
It took a couple of months to come up with the design.  The colours of the association are red and black.  The logo for the MDA is 3 connected puzzle pieces.  So including that into the theme, here is the result.  The quilt is named "Solving the puzzle of Muscular Dystrophy."
The draw date is Dec 4, 2013.  Tickets are $5 each or 5/$20.   Tickets are available from me or any chapter member.
The photo at the head of the blog is this quilt.

Happy Summer!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ok, so I do make rookie mistakes, but that's ok right?

When I saw this pattern, all kitted up and ready, with a life sized example in the store to drool over, I HAD TO HAVE it.  So home it came, and I've been waiting for other projects to fall off the radar before opening it because I knew that when I started, I'd have to keep at it until I had it done.

I thought I had it all under control.
I spent nearly a day just cutting fabric.
I couldn't wait to start making those pieces dance.
The first 8 blocks came together rather nicely.   
They measure 12.5 " square

 The second 7 blocks came together well too.  
So, by the time I moved on to the pieced sashing blocks, I guess I was getting a bit overconfident.  Remember the first two blocks were 12.5" square?  
Well, these sashing blocks are supposed to be 12.5" long. 
Unfortunately, mine weren't.
 Not even close.
They were 13.5" long, and nearly .5" too wide.
I didn't notice until I tried to attach the flying geese units to each end.  They weren't wide enough.
That's when I realized that all 28 of the units I had made so far were not right.
Needless to say, "I was not amused."

I admit, I lost sleep over this one.  I contemplated adding a small border to put between the blocks since they obviously wouldn't be matching up now.
I tried coming up with anything that would "fix" the problem.
I even called the quilt store to see if they had some of the fabric so I could just recut the pieces and start over - they didn't.

So, as much as I hated to admit it.  I'd have to pick all 28 of them apart and resew them.

Yes, I had skipped the basic part about CHECKING THE SIZE after making the first block to be sure I HAD IT RIGHT.  Yes, I'm yelling, but that's what I do when I make a mistake that I know I should have not made.  But, I am human.  Sigh.

You see, when I'm making half square triangles by the method of sewing across the squares twice and then cutting them in half along the line, I have to have the needle set at "7" to get the right space between the pencil line and the stitching to get them to come out the right size.
When I return to sewing that scant 1/4" straight seam, I have to have the needle set at "6".
I didn't.
So, to put this in perspective, look at this picture.  The space between these lines of stitching is the difference between the setting of "7" and "6".
Barely the width of a pin.
Unfortunately, when it adds up over this many seams, it adds up.
And it makes a big difference.
So, even when all the points match up perfectly, it can still be wrong.
Dang. (The family friendly edition of what I really said.) 

So far, I've spent two days picking and resewing, and I have half of them fixed.
And I'm feeling better about it now because I know it was the right decision.

I'm just really, really glad that I starched the heck out of the fabric before cutting it or those bias edges would have been so fragile.  If anything, I've learned that:
1. Measure twice, cut once
2. Read the pattern, especially when it says "proof to .... size"
3. Making a practise block is NEVER a waste of time.
4. Starch is my friend
5. Humble pie is a great learning tool.

I love this pattern.  I love the fabric.  I am going to love the finish.
And all that picking will be totally worth it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Embroidery Birds

This winter has been really goofy so far.  I usually have mood problems when the season turns gray, but this year has been awful.  Dreary wet days with no snow on the ground and just cold mud are not my favorite.  I don't mind if it's cold, but I love the snow.  It brightens up the world.
On that note, my quilting passion is on a slow note right now, so I've turned to some embroidery to feed my craft hunger.
I'm not a fan of redwork, and cross-stitch I wasn't in the mood for, so I picked up some crewel work.  I just copied photos from the internet, enlarged them on the printer, outlined the main parts with a sharpie and then traced them onto cotton chambray.  The soft blue fabric makes an excellent background as it can be sky or water.
Once the patterns was traced, I fused a light weight interfacing to the back of the fabric.  This not only gives the fabric more substance, but helps to hide the threads from the back of the design.
Once the embroidery was done and pressed, I made the backing from fabric fused with heavy interfacing and used scraps of quilt batting in between.  Then I bound the edges just like a quilt and added a hanging sleeve.  They brighten my day!

My mom is celebrating her 77th birthday tomorrow and she's a bird lover too.  Maybe I'll just wrap them up!
So, what have you been working on?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A bit of saturday fun

I can usually fix small problems on a basic sewing machine.  Several times I've rescued a machine destined for the garbage just by giving it some loving care - cleaning , oiling, tension adjustment etc..
This one I picked up on Freecycle was beyond my ability. It was a cheap, off brand plastic "special" so I had nothing invested in  it.  It ran, but wouldn't stitch so I think the timing was fubar"ed".   I started just taking it apart for fun.  My son, seeing this, asked if he could do it.  Sure!!
So after loosening a bowlful of screws, taking umpteen greasy gears apart and destroying just a couple of plastic parts to get the switches out, we had this:
When all was said and done, we tossed a bag full of gears and all the screws in a bag, and kept the motor.  That will come in handy for a future science project, yet to be named.  The motor works, has 2 speeds, and a light on a separate switch.  Science will never be so much fun, :)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 2013 FNSI

Yay!!  FNSI is back.  This week I was working on a client's quilt - trying to get t finished for Saturday delivery.  I've been waiting all week for the local sewing store to get the right color (#155) of Superior's Masterpiece thread.  I really like this thread for piecing as it's strong yet thin.  The gray color of #155 is a chameleon.  It blends in and disappears on many, many fabrics.  It's also the perfect bobbin thread.  Of course I ran out with about 3 bobbins to go :(.  Finally I called around and found a spool at a LQS about 30 miles away.  Of course today, the first store called that their order had come in.  No problem, there was only one available at the other shop, so, I've reserved 2 for me to pick up on Monday.  Did I say I like this thread??

Anyway, this quilt was a beautiful dark batik, with a pieced star appliqued as a center medallion.  The border was made of alternating tall tumbler shapes of the batik and the star fabric.
To accentuate the star, I used embroidery thread for the quiilting.  I took 3 shades of the green and ran them all through the machine together and through the needle.  That made for a nice thick thread that really showed up nicely.  The three colors made it shimmer and brought it to life.  I also added the star detailing to the corners.  The main part of the quilt was done in a swirl and spikes pattern.  I delivered it this afternoon and the customer is very happy.  That makes me happy. :)

Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello and Happy New Year

I've missed you!  Sorry about the silence lately.  Between the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparation and battling the flu - first my son and then me, and dealing with the ailments of ageing parents, the time has flown by.
I hope you had a Happy and Blessed Christmas.
Now that the New Year is upon us, I pray for health, wisdom and patience.  Yes, patience.
As my son enters his "tween" years, the hormones are starting.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.  This will be fun.
As he is not an eager student, the homework battles continue, and I've received some good coaching on strategies to ease that struggle.  Wish me luck with that!

On the quilty/crafty front, I've been keeping busy.  I made 6 more sock monkeys to sell at RedBird Designs. I've continued to develop my hand quilting.  I'm working on my second baby quilt - from a "cheater" panel, so I can stitch it up and not worry about the investment.  I made a couple of table toppers for gifts.
I made another box full of doll clothes for the great nieces, which was delightfully received :)
 My niece had said that the dolly diapers I made last year were a great hit and could I make more.  So, I did.  Did you know you can make 2 dozen dolly diapers from 1/2 meter of flannel?  I found that out AFTER I cut up 48 diapers.  Let's just say I goofed on the math and leave it at that.  So I wrapped a dozen into the gift and put the rest in a large envelop to give to my niece.  That way she can replace them as they get lost/ripped/given away or whatever.  5 minutes after opening the box, the littlest great niece - age 3 - was diapering her cousin's truck. :)

Oh, I almost forgot.  I got a most wonderful gift from my son.  A new iron.  It's the Black and Decker "Chrome" continuous steam iron.  I'm in iron heaven.  I guess that makes me domesticated eh?  Don't tell my mother.

Today, being New Year's Eve, I'm playing it low key.  I took the van in this morning for a brake job, picked up a friend of my son's on the way home to surprise him with a playdate, and I'm doing some stitching with my trusty puppy at my side.  Life is good.

I hope you have a happy and prosperous - and quilty - New Year!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

FNSI - Monkey business

Last night was FNSI.  This amazing sewing evening hosted by Heidi and her sis.  So without further ado, Here's my story in photos.


A bundle of monkeys!