Sunday, July 31, 2016

Working with Needle and Thread

It's been ten days since my sewing machine (my Jag) went into the shop. In my last post, I was wondering what I would do....bring up one of my other machines to do some piecing, do some handwork and/or finish some projects?

So far, I haven't brought up another machine. I worked on an outstanding project, started a hand sewing project, read a few books, cleaned my sewing space and started on a new project.

Block 47 Heroine's Crown
This hand appliquéd block is from the Grandmother's Choice Block of the Week project that I started a few years ago. I went through my blocks and realised that I only have 8 blocks left to do. When I complete a few more blocks, I'll write a post about how they relate to the fight for women's rights.

Hand appliqué is not my strength, even after making many orange peels, I appliquéd most of the pieces in this block by basting over the freezer paper, except for the oak leaves. Considering how difficult it was, the block came out better than I expected.

A few months ago, I discovered the Make Modern magazine from Australia. It has some lovely projects, it's a great price (the Australian dollar is roughly the same as the Canadian dollar) and it's available to download.

I've been interested in English paper-piecing but I really don't like hexagons! Don't know why, I just don't! I found a great little project that involves English paper piecing with triangles. It's called Shattered Cushions by Susan Bolte. It's from the eleventh issue of Make Modern magazine.

Aren't they lovely? I found some fat-quarters that I had been saving for something special - and this is it. They are grey and that lovely teal that's been so popular in the last couple of years.

The instructions suggest using a quick way of English paper piecing, but for me the whole point is to enjoy working with needle and thread. So I'm using the freezer paper, applying it to the back of the fabric and then basting each piece. It's just like doing those orange peels I loved so much.

Last weekend, I went away with my hubby. He went golfing and I drove around the wonderful back roads of the Upper Ottawa Valley. Most of the time, I had the roads to myself.

Antique embroidered hankies
I found an antique shop that had a few old hankies. When I spoke to the owner, he took out a box full of beautiful hand embroidered runners and tablecloths. Here is what I came home with.

I didn't dare iron them since I don't want to set any of the stains. I'm going to have to find some Retro Clean in Canada. This is what Cindy Needham recommends to clean these old beauties.

One of the hankies has a great lace border. Since it's plain, it would make a great background for a pretty art quilt. I'm still thinking about that one!

Antique hand embroidered runner

Finally, I framed "The Feather", the needle felted piece I made at an Out of the Box play day, It's hanging in our bedroom, but there isn't much wall space left.

"The Feather" is now framed
What I learned:

  • I didn't think I had much to say for this post, but it looks like I've kept busy, even without my sewing machine. 
  • It's been a nice change to do some hand work. I've even brought the projects to work so that I can play during my lunch break. It's a great way to spend a lunch break with my fellow crafters.
  • My trip through the Upper Ottawa Valley gave me a lot of time to ponder on one of the projects I want to do. I may have finally figured out how to put it together. I've chosen the fabrics and will slowly start playing with ideas. I want this one to be 3-D as well include needle felting and possibly fabric painting. I'm really going out of my comfort zone with this one!

Thanks for dropping by. This post is linked to a few linky parties. Please check them out!
MOP Monday, Main Crush Monday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Fabric Frenzy Friday, and Slow Sunday Stitching.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Quilting without my machine

One of the FMQ blocks
While free motion quilting (FMQ) my king size quilt, I realised that my sewing machine (my Jag) needed some TLC. I clean it on the first of each month but otherwise I haven’t done any maintenance on it since I got it two years ago. It was past due. I brought it in this morning and I will hopefully get it back next week. I’m sure that many of you understand my anxiety of being without it for long.

I do have 2 Kenmore machines that are old but fine, although they will require some maintenance also. As my pile of projects to FMQ is getting higher, I really need my Jenome to be in great working order.

What should I do in the meantime?
  • I could bring one of my Kenmores upstairs and work on piecing projects. I have many to choose from.
Grandmother's Choice Blocks
These are a few of the blocks from Grandmother's Choice Block of the Week, It was created to recall the fight for women's rights. Since this year is the 100th anniversary of women obtaining the vote in many of Canada's provinces, it would be really nice to finish the quilt this year.

Street Art Quilt

This quilt is my interpretation of Street Art Quilt which appeared in the International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene magazine (2013\2014), My version is totally different that the original and I would like to make it bigger. I don't think it would take much work.

No Rules Scrappy Piecing

I have 22 very scrappy triangles that need to be set into a quilt. All I need to do is cut triangles of the same size and make the quilt!

All of the embroidery is done for my Frog Work quilt below. I just need to piece a few more blocks.

Frog embroidery

Frog Work blocks

  • I can also forget the sewing machine for a week and work on hand projects. I have a couple of these and there’s a project that I’d love to start. Since I am going away on the weekend, it would be great to have some hand work to do.

  • I also have some miscellaneous tasks like sandwiching quilts to get them ready for FMQ; frame my felting project or even clean my sewing space!

I've bought a frame - maybe it's time to see if it fits and would look good!

 What I learned:
  • I started this post by going through my blog to see what projects I could work on. I do have a list of projects that I've completed and that I'm working on but going through the blog was much more visual and fun.
  • As I was deciding on which projects to include, I had some pretty strong negative reactions to a couple of them. I guess it's not the time to go back to those yet!
  • I've got three options but these's no reason that it has to be either/or. A combination of all three would be just fine (and more likely).
  • As I look at these projects, it feels like when I'm getting ready to go on retreat and want to bring everything and will end up bringing too much! Whatever gets worked on is a bonus. There are no deadlines for any of these. 
  • I wish I hadn't mentioned the "D" word (deadline) since I realize that I have a few of them coming up at the end of the summer. But this week, I am doing like an ostrich - my head is in the sand and I refuse to think about them! I am very, very good at that :-)

So, do you have projects to finish this summer, and are you diligent about getting your machine maintained? I'd love to hear from you.

Check out the other quilting bloggers out there! I'll be linking to the following Linky Parties: 

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Throwback Thursday - My Colours

From the first Thursday of each month until Sunday, Jenn at a Quarter Inch from the Edge hosts Throwback Thursday! Linky parties. This is where bloggers write about a quilt that was made way, way back. Since I haven't been quilting for that long, for me way back means BB - before blogging.

My Colours is the first art quilt that I designed and made.
My Colours
I wanted to make a quilt that represented ME! My intention was to have it look like a crazy quilt. I did use embroidery and embellishments, but the shapes are mostly rectangular, not crazy. I used some very funky and colourful fabrics. Not bad for a very small fabric stash.

Each block represents something about my personality or my life. There were a lot of flowers since at the time I did a lot of gardening. That was before I got totally addicted to quilting and gave up on my garden. It turns out that the results of my quilting were much more predictable than my garden!

There were also many hearts and symbols of peace - for the hippie that I am, even if I was born at least 10 years too late.

I had a great time shopping for things to include in the quilt. I found a beautiful red hat - for the woman that I am becoming as I age. There were also cool decals and buttons about quilting and nature, including a beautiful glass fish pendant. Many of the blocks were embroidered in the crazy quilt style. The entire piece was hand quilted in different coloured thread.

At the 2010 Quilt Show
It was one of two quilts that I exhibited in my first show with the Common Thread Quilt Guild in 2010.

What I learned:

  • Even after all these years, this quilt still represents who I am.
  • For many years this wall hanging was in my cubicle. Unfortunately our new cubicles have very little wall space so it's now at home. 
  • It had continued to evolve - it has a few more buttons and some postcards pinned to it.
  • This was quilted by hand, before I had a sewing machine that FMQ. It would have taken me much longer to make.

I am linking this post to Throwback Thursday! hosted by a Quarter Inch from the Edge,

Only 146 blocks to go!

Splashes of Color Quilt
Many years ago I fell in love with the Splashes of Color quilt at – with a simple pattern of pastel batiks, it looked both soft and yummy! Perfect for sweet dreams. Over the next few months I made the quilt.

When it was finished, I was disappointed. It didn’t look like the quilt that I had fallen in love with. I put it away since I wasn’t ready to quilt it yet. I didn’t have a sewing machine that did FMQ and I was told not to hand-quilt it since batiks are dense and difficult to hand-quilt.

About a year ago I found the batik quilt top. With trepidation, I unfolded it and lay it over my bed. Wow! It was stunning! It may not have been the soft quilt I wanted but I love it! On my king sized bed I noticed that it almost fit. I showed it to my husband who liked it, so I decided to finish this quilt for our bed. At a retreat I made a few more rows so that I wouldn’t have to fight my husband for my share of the quilt as we slept!

I bought some Tula Pink fabric for the backing as well as king-size batting. I was now ready to sandwich this monster. One day when I had the house to myself, I removed all of the furniture from our kitchen eating space, vacuumed and then lay down the batting. It took the whole space!
It's the size of the kitchen eating area!

Chevy, the dog, lying on the quilt back
Chevy in the middle of the action!
It was a rather long and tedious process. I placed the quilt top on the batting, tapped the top to the floor, pinned it and then flipped it over. I did the same to the backing. When it was pinned to my satisfaction, I put the table back, sat down and basted the sandwich together.

I then quilted every block. This helped to stabilize the quilt and I was happy to see that I had done a good job of sandwiching the quilt since there was very little puckering.

I FMQ (free motion quilted) between the blocks using Superior Thread’s Bottom Line in both the bobbin and top. I wasn’t sure what thread to use for the actual FMQ of each block but decided to keep using the Bottom Line. It’s very fine and won’t take attention away from the quilt itself. Besides, every block has different colours – changing and deciding on the colours of the thread to use in each block would have been impossible.

Here are my criteria for choosing the quilting design in each of the 8 inch blocks:

  • Not very small or dense so that the quilt remains supple;
  • Simple enough to FMQ on my home machine (this is a king size quilt!);
  • Experimentation, repetition and learning is encouraged; and
  • It can be a stenciled pattern, a dot-to-dot pattern or anything else that fits the above criteria.

Since there are 169 blocks to FMQ (13 x 13) this will give me plenty of opportunity to practice these designs. Here is a sampling of the 23 blocks that I’ve done so far. The stencils are mostly from The Stencil Company while many of the FMQ comes from Angela Walters' Shape by Shape book. The marking on each block hasn't been ironed off yet.
An old fashion stencil, circa 1850

Dot-to-Dot Fan

More Dot-to-Dot quilting with echoing


The Stencil Company (Celtic Flower 7")

The Stencil Company (Continuous Teardrop 6")

The back of one block
The back of one block

What I learned:

  • You won't get a soft pastel quilt if your fabrics are dark!
  • Beware of those expectations. Allowing time to pass can help you change your perspective. 
  • I have done some FMQ designs that really don't show well, but it's good practice and they are very lovely from the back (see the picture below).
  • This is an excellent way of practicing my FMQ. The blocks are not perfect, but the overall effect will be stunning I'm sure.
  • These blocks are very time consuming. I've put the quilt away for now so that I can work on other projects.
  • Chevy wants to be included in the pictures - besides, pictures with animals are always popular!

The back of a couple of blocks
The back of a couple of blocks based on Angela Walter's designs

 I will be linking to these Linky Parties. Come see what everyone else is doing! Free Motion Mavericks, Can I get a Whoop Whoop! Off the Wall Friday. I've also linked Chevy's picture to Pets on Quilts 2017. Check out the cute posts 😊

Only 146 blocks left to go!