Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Round-up for 2013!

Looking through my quilt-y pics for this year, it's been a busy, busy 12 months! The rough count to date is 9 large quilts, 14 baby quilts, 3 sets of placemats, 5 wall hangings, 7 pillows, 3 table runners, 3 mini-quilts, 13 bee blocks, and 1 tree skirt. I'm tired just from counting. I'm pretty sure this is one of my most prolific quilting years ever - Himself would agree!
I'm pretty proud of my quilt-y achievements this year:
  • teaching myself to do English Paper Piecing (a growing addiction)
  • reducing my WIP list to a smokin' mass (not literally!)
  • signing up for Bloglovin' (and lovin' it!)
  • signing up for Craftsy (and also lovin' it!)
  • figuring out how to add various widgets and links to my blog
  • donating 4 large and 10 baby quilts to the IWK
  • attending the first meeting of the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild
Who knows what the new year will bring, but I'd be willing to bet there will be quilts - lots of quilts - and likely some blogging about it!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Sewing Circle Tote - Part 1 (Or is it a Cutting Circle Tote?)

Oh my! Sometimes at the beginning of a project, I wonder if I have bitten off more than I can chew. After reading the 28 pages of directions involved in Elizabeth Hartman (of Oh, Fransson!)'s Sewing Circle Tote, I had more than a moment of trepidation!

But I had agreed to make it and already had most of the required materials, so off I went to Adrienne's studio. That's Adrienne of Chezzetcook Modern Quilts in case you hadn't guessed. I do love her studio - all that beautiful natural light, those cubbies filled with lovely fabric. I could stay there all day... and I typically do once I get there!

Here's what I chose for fabrics...Red Rooster's Dressmaking Collection with a the yellow, green, and blue small prints thrown in for a little more colour. The exterior of the bag is a mostly a dark denim that I found in a very unfamiliar aisle of my local fabric store. We bought so many unfamiliar things for this bag - interlining, fusible interfacing, stabilizer, elastic, yikes!
Ade's fabrics are some gorgeous Essex Linen and prints from Denise Schmidt's Shelburne Falls. If you ask nicely, maybe she'll show you on her blog! Regardless of what fabric you choose, there's a LOT of complicated cutting to do for this one. Three pages of cutting instructions to be exact!
In a hilarious twist, Ade and I both went for a Kona for our linings. These were NOT purchased together. Ade had her's in her stash and I bought mine at the last minute when I realized I didn't have any exterior or lining fabric. Clearly, my cold/flu induced haze has not fully receded.
On the left - Jenn's Caribbean. On the right - Ade's Oasis.  Totally different colours, right?
This monster stack of cutting took.....
4 hours!!!
But then we got on to the sewing! The directions in this pattern are really clear and well written. I love that there are pictures for virtually every step. Well worth the $12.50 price tag! First part to make - the straps!
They are super sturdy - probably the sturdiest I've ever made. Pins just wouldn't do to hold them together - out came the WonderClips! With four layers of fabric, two layers of interfacing and cotton webbing, they're going to stand up to use!

Next, the exterior pockets and my first foray into "quilt as you go." I was pretty excited to try this out - it's one of Adrienne's favourite techniques. It reminded me a lot of a stitch and flip style of piecing - only with this you end up with finished quilting!
Et voilĂ ! Two quilted pockets! Just two more to go and all the exterior pockets will be done!
By the time I left for the day (roughly 9½ hours later), we had each finished two sets of straps, two pockets, and the bag bottom. And we'd assigned ourselves homework and set a due date/date for a Sew Day! We need these glorious creations finished for our first Maritime Modern Quilt Guild Sew-in in January!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Quilt-y Christmas!

Well, the tree is decorated, Miss K and Mr J's gingerbread houses are covered in icing and candy (as were they), the presents are wrapped, the groceries are purchased... must be time for... the Christmas collapse. I'm confined to the couch with a Christmas cold/flu. Oh well, at least I can blog and watch The Grinch!

My love of decorating for Christmas is forever at odds with the number of Rubbermaid totes I have to pack under the stairs each year! I love tree ornaments and have so much trouble resisting the urge to buy more. On the quilting front, I didn't really think that I had a lot of quilted Christmas items... until I started writing this post! ☺

Christmas decor is so special to me that I never just want to make any old thing for Christmas. I want it to be just right... since it will likely be a part of our traditions for years! The perfect example is this year's addition - the asterisk tree skirt.
It took me years to find just the right tree skirt! I made two prototype skirts last Christmas in an attempt to find just the right one! I blogged about the making of this one here. If you're looking for a tutorial on how to make the blocks, look no further!  I'm more than a little obsessed with this Valori Wells print from the Wrenly Christmas line. I almost hated to use it as backing... then again, there's still some on the bolt at my LQS. Can you say Boxing Day sale?
The same print makes an appearance in my new pillow covers. I started the hexie pillow last week-end with thoughts that I might finish it for next year. But those hexies are just so addictive. And I couldn't have just one pillow on the couch, right? I'm already plotting more for next year - maybe even as gifts!

A couple years ago, Q-D showed up at a Quilt Therapy session with these little paper pieced darlings. I couldn't resist (neither could Q-B!) and ended up making two.
I love hanging it up at the beginning of December. I've had requests to make this one as a gift, but I just can't face those borders again!

Another paper pieced project - the infamous stockings. Our family likes a big stocking... it's not greed, it's tradition! Himself didn't have a stocking with his name on it... yet another family tradition... so I made him one. But didn't manage my own until at least a year later!
One of these years, I might break down and made a Christmas couch quilt. I really want one, but it always seems like so much work for such a short time. And where to store it the other eleven months of the year?

As we're all hustling about putting the finishing touches on what we hope will be a perfect holiday, I'll leave you with a little insight from our pal, the Grinch.
Merry Christmas, dear reader! Enjoy whatever it brings, even a partially cooked turkey or a collapsible table collapsing during dinner. They can't happen more than once, right?


Friday, December 20, 2013

Finish up Friday - Give it away now!

Hey all!

There's lots of finishing up going on around here these days, though it seems like very little of it is quilting related. Wrapping presents, buying a tree, baking cookies. It's holiday prep at it's finest. With my machine in for service, it seems like I've started more quilting projects than I've finished this week. I hesitate to quilt anything on my dear old Kenmore. She's just a little unpredictable sometimes!

Anyway, back in the spring (as you can tell from the pics), I finished a quilt that had been hanging around for a long time.... and I forgot to share it with you. It's called Child's Play and was taken from a quilting magazine so long ago that I no longer know which one! The print from which the other colours are selected is actually leftover from Miss K's baby quilt. You know Miss K - she got this quilt back in July for her 13th birthday!
 It wanted to go to the playground, so off we went!
I think part of the reason this quilt went unfinished for so long was that I wasn't 100% satisfied with how the sashing stars turned out.  My piecing wasn't very exact back in the day. I loathe, and I do mean loathe, taking things apart, so it was either accept it or not work on it. It took embracing modern wonkiness to feel like these were okay. Thank goodness for wonkiness! I quilted it on the diagonal... my old stand-by!
The backing is a little something I picked up on a Marden's trip. Very bright, but it suits the top! And with those little teal stars in the sashing, the binding just had to be teal.
So why am I sharing this so long after it's completion? Well, today, it (and a few others) are going on a little trip. I've got a this quilt, the Double Irish Chain Redux, and a lunch box challenge quilt that are headed over to the IWK. Q-A also contributed some baby quilts and a snuggle sized quilt. When I dropped off quilts last spring, the Volunteer co-ordinator said that they really love getting bigger quilts. The teens that come for the Choices (Mental Health & Addictions program) with next to nothing. I can only imagine that a quilt would give them some comfort. I know quilts make a big difference to me when I'm having a rough day.
So, quilt-y people, here's hoping you can have a look in your UFO pile and find a quilt that deserves a new home. Or even dive into that stash or those scrap bins and make a little something special when you've got the time.'Tis the season, right?

P.S. And I'm linking up with Thank Goodness it's Finished Friday! I can see this linking up business being fun!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

WIP & a snow day!!!

I haven't done a WIP post in a long time... they were starting to feel a bit oppressive when I did them weekly. But this Wednesday, I find myself with some time on my hands. Why, you ask? It's a snow day - an honest to goodness, school cancelled, hang out in your pj's snow day!!!

The WIP I'm most excited about today is probably my blog! I just figured out how to add images with links to my sidebar! I've seen it on lots of other blogs, but couldn't quite get the hang of it. So exciting! Now you can see the Guilds I belong to as well as some on-line fun and shenanigans I'm up to! But the quilting, you say? Yup, there's some stuff going on there too!

This week-end, I started a Christmas-y hexie. When I've got one of these on the go, I can't seem to think about anything else and, of course, I had to sneak in a couple of Konas. It's destined to become a pillow top and I think it's almost there. Maybe just one more row on the top and a few more down the side.

I'm also quilting along with Canoe Ridge Creations (as you can tell from my sidebar!) The quilt top is finished and the backing is washed. Perhaps today I'll get it ironed and ready for layering. See... I wasn't kidding about the snow day! The clothes line was too wet and icy to hang it!
On the week-end, I whipped up a table runner for my Nanny for Christmas. It's layered and ready to quilt once I get my dear little machine back home!
In terms of other projects that have been hanging around for a while, there's my Toes in the Sand quilt. Just four more blocks/beaches and I'll be putting together the top. Obviously, the photo wasn't taken recently! Those poor hostas are under a blanket of the cold white stuff today!
 I'm linking up with WiP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced. Another first for me... I'm not exactly sure how it will work!

Happy sewing and/or shoveling all!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pre-Christmas Productivity!

This week-end, I cranked up the productivity dial to 11! With Christmas only a week and a half away, I'm getting into the spirit a little more. My thoughts are turning to what last minute gifties I can whip up!

Saturday was a Quilt Therapy session with Q-Squared. We had great time, though we were down a Square. Q-B had a vehicular altercation with a deer this week (don't panic, she's okay!), so she was stuck in T-dot for the day. We didn't get a tonne of sewing done - but we did have a tasty lunch at the Wooden Monkey and a trip to our LQS. I made something out of this....
Not very quilt-y... I know. But it did make two nice Christmas gifts! Can't reveal though - more items in the QPPP! Q-A brought a number of projects for quilting consults - including her version of the Canoe Ridge Creations Starburst QAL. Her main project is also in the QPPP. It's a tough time of year to blog about projects!

Q-D brought along this lovely - she's working along on no less than three quilts for some newly adopted siblings. This one's for the youngest - a five year old boy who loves red, blue, and nautical. I'd say this one'll be a hit!
And then there's the quilt she started on Saturday for her brother - for Christmas!!! It's going to look something like this. But right now, it looks like Q-D's going for the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous strip of pieced quilting!
Once I finished up my Christmas QPP project, I started on a little something I'm calling Alice in Woodsy-Land. It's (yet another!) baby quilt. I feel in love with this print at my LQS and bought what was left on the bolt. For the rest, I hit the Kona stash and pulled these colours - Chartreuse, Kumquat, Capri, and Bison (left to right).
 I didn't have a firm plan when I began this project. I knew I wanted to fussy cut those cute animals for the centres of the blocks and play with those Konas!
They turned out to be 3 inch squares and I decided to border them with 2½ inch strips.

Sunday was snow day! Our region got walloped by nor'easter - many centimeters of snow that ultimately turned to ice pellets and nasty rain. A perfect day to stay home and sew! And continue working on Alice in Woodsy-land!
My usual machine is in the shop, so I'm rockin' the Kenmore for the next little bit. I won't go in to all the things I miss about my Pfaff, but I will say that piecing is just not as accurate without my dedicated quilting foot and my built in walking foot. It meant having to trim my blocks down to a more regular size when finished. The fabric designers have to stop with these adorable selvages... I just can't resist them!
I opted to alternate the pieced blocks with 6½ blocks of the print. It still left me with lots to use as the backing! With this lay-out, the quilt is 30 inches square when finished. I thought about bumping it up to 36 inches, but ultimately decided this was a good size for strollers and cribs. I always struggle with what size to make baby quilts!
With the alternating light print and relatively dark Konas, it seemed best to press the seams open when sewing my rows. Still not sold on this technique!
Here she is - already to quilt. That'll have to wait until my Pfaff comes home. Fingers crossed that it's soon!
The binding's even pieced and ready to go!
I also finished the top of a Christmas giftie for my Nanny. I think I'll save it for another day - you've been reading long enough methinks! I do have one last pic for you though....
A Christmas hexie project just for me! It likely won't be finished until next year, but I like the idea of having a little something to stitch on during the holidays.

How about you? Working away like one of Santa's elves on last minute gifties? Whatever you're doing, I hope you make a little time for what you love this time of year!


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tutorial Tuesday - Yo' Gotta Have a Tote!

Disclosure: This week's tutorial is not my own. I'm adding my two cents (and some quilting) to a pattern found at Sew4home.

Mom's been asking me for a while if I could whip a tote to hold Ms. M's mat when she heads off to salute the sun. I've been putting it off - for no good reason, I might add. If she'd asked for a quilt, I'd probably have it done already! Today, I decided to get this item off my to do list (and in time for Christmas gifting!) Ms. M likes pink and aubergine (that's purple to the rest of us). This seemed like a good pick, especially given that it was just hanging out in the stash with no planned purpose and was a smoking deal on a Marden's trip a while back. Tula Pink's Eye Drops - check out that selvage!
Anyway, I have made a couple yoga totes in the past and used a pattern, but I haven't the foggiest clue where that pattern is now! So off to the internet I went. Sew4home had a really nice one that I'd pinned a while ago. It features a drawstring top closure and a pocket with a flap. The pattern called for decor weight fabric. It's not something I generally have in the stash and my LQS doesn't open until noon on Sundays, so it had to be quilting cotton. I decided to fuse some Kona Green Tea to the back of the pocket to give it a little more oomph. Nothing worse than a saggy pocket!
In order to beef up the body of the tote, I decided to quilt it. Would it have been easier to wait until the LQS opened and by what the pattern called for? Yes. But where's the challenge it that? Here's the pocket pieces all velcro'd up and ready to be attached once I quilt the body of the bag. That's Kona Capri that will be my bag lining/quilt back.

Since the pattern didn't call for it to be quilted (or even lined), I had to be a little creative. When layering the pieces for the body of the bag, I was sure to cut the batting three inches shorter to leave space for the drawstring casing at the top.
Then out came the Frixion pen again! It didn't feel the need to quilt the living daylights out of this one. I figure a yoga bag probably won't be washed too often. I just needed to keep the layers together!
 You can see the random lines that I quilted much better on the back.
And time to attach the pockets. On the first yoga bag I ever made, I attached the pocket upside down. By the time I realized, it was well beyond the easy fix stage. Years later, it's still on there - upside down.
My machine didn't dig on stitching through four layers of fabric, a layer of fusible web, AND the quilted bag. Guess I should have switched to the top stitch needle before breaking my quilting needle! Oh well... just means there's a fresh one in there! The drawstring closure isn't perfect by any means. Sometimes I think I should plan these things out a little better! ☺ In the end, I just folded the raw edges of the top and backing together and top stitched them. Then I added a line of stitching an inch or so down to make a casing.
 Next, the strap. The pattern called for a 1 inch finished strap. A little wimpy for my tastes. I opted to beef it up to 2 inches finished and added two layers of batting as well. It turned out nice and sturdy and should hold up well.
 Attaching that thick strap was another challenge - more broken needles. Oh well!
Just one step left - the bottom of the bag! The pattern called for a 7 inch circle. Sadly, I have no protractors at home, so a plate had to pinch hit. It took a little doing to find something in the kitchen that fit the bill.
 I layered and quilted it just like the bag. These pins were deadly... like a sewing hedgehog!
I threaded some elastic cording through the top casing and.... voilĂ ! C'est fini!
 The blue looks even better on the finished product than I thought it would.
The whole process reminded me a lot of making a quilted water bottle holder for my Mom this summer. I will say that this was easier given the larger scale! All in all, any troubles I had with this project were entirely due to me adapting it to be quilted. The tutorial offered at Sew4Home  was clear and concise. Even with having to think things through during the process, it was only a couple hours work.

Can't wait to find out if Ms M likes it!
Happy Tuesday, all!