Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Final Learning QAL Sum Up

I haven't had a very productive month as far as quilting goes. December started out well, quilting wise, but I didn't end up making much progress. On the other hand, I've had a great Christmas and started getting used to relaxing and minimizing my obligations. All is well 😊

I've enjoyed putting on the Learning Quilt-A-Long but as I mentioned, there were very few link-ups so it's not really worth continuing. This is, therefore, my last Learning QAL Sum Up. I will, however, continue my learning journey but with less pressure!

For my December learning goal, I wanted to continue adding colour to my wholecloth quilt.

December Learning Sum Up

I only spent a few hours working on it, but it is slowly coming along. It's taking longer than I thought, mostly because I'm trying to think of different things to do within the pattern. Below you will see what I mean.  I've done some lines within the flower in the middle (sort of a cross hatching) and I've done some echoing within the leaf, in two different colours.
Trying new FMQ techniques within the pattern
Here is the overall piece. It doesn't look like much progress but it was a few hours of FMQ.

FMQ Progress on the wholecloth quilt

A few more leaves now have colour

December One Monthly Goal (OMG) Finish

For my One Monthly Goal for December (OMG), I was hoping to start playing and creating an art quilt based on Jacobean embroidery of gardens. Instead of working on a garden, I found myself using some of the same techniques using Christmas fabrics from the bag of scraps that I brought up for the Christmas EPP.

I just built a background with strips and then started adding appliqué. I used the Crafty Appliqué technique for most of the appliqué. These worked out better than the large cardinal appliqué that was done without using that technique!

The beginning of a fun Christmas art quilt
I will be adding the embroidery and embellishment, once I've done the free motion quilting (FMQ). It is a great trial piece for my future art quilt based on Jacobean embroidery of gardens...that will come eventually.

Getting ready to travel

I'm going away for almost three weeks. I really, really dislike packing, especially when it comes to packing my hand-work. What to bring, how much, etc. It's always a pain because I want to get it right! I have to bring something with me other than books!

This embroidery is definitely coming with me. I've got another one started and will probably bring at least one solid fat quarter in case I decide to start others. I have visions of sketching what I see and embroidering it. Who knows, it could happen!

Packing a few embroidery pieces
For my last big trip, which was to China, I had packed some orange peels and appliquéd them onto blocks.
Orange peels project for my China trip

Appliquéd orange peel blocks

Appliquéing on the Yangtze River

This time, the trip is mostly to Spain. We start off in Barcelona.

I'm thrilled that I'll get to see the Sagrada Familia Cathedral again. It's an amazing building and its stained glass windows were the inspiration for my Art with Fabric in the fall of 2016.
Sagrada Familia stained-glass windows
Sagrada Familia Cathedral

Art with Fabric - stained-glass windows

What I learned

  • I'm happy that I put on the Learning QAL. It was a good idea and pushed me to learn so much more that I would have without it.
  • I also learned that it's a lot of work - not just writing the posts, but actually doing something!
  • I'm very grateful for those who put on QAL, Blog Hops and Linking Parties. I know how much work it is, but it's also rewarding and a great way to meet other quilters.

Related Links

Linking Parties: I will be linking up to the December One Monthly Goal Finish Link-up. I will also link up to as many linking parties as I can before I leave :-) Check out what everyone else has done! Linky TuesdayLet's Bee Social, Oh Scrap!Midweek Makers, Finished or Not Friday, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

2018 Planning Party

After reviewing 2017, it's now time to plan 2018. Thanks to JETgirl for hosting this party!

I was very ambitious in my planning during 2017 and really hope to learn from this.

When I said that I was tired in my last post, I wasn't kidding. Thank goodness that I'm able to take 5 weeks off work, from the end of December to the end of January. The beginning of January will be spent on a vacation while the rest of January is for relaxing. I had booked an in-town retreat with my guild, but I even cancelled that! No plans, just rest :-)

Needless to say, that's going to affect my quilting and blogging plans.

So, having learned from 2017, these are just projects and learning that I would like to pursue in 2018. There is no pressure and no big over-arching plan.


Possible Quilt Alongs

I've committed to participating in Alida's Starry Bright Sky QAL. It looks like it will be challenging but since it's once a month, I hope that I'll be able to manage it. I love stars and I love learning new techniques, so this sounds like a good fit.

I've also been admiring the Block of the Month Series presented by Bernina. It started in March 2017 and seems to be going for a few more months. I fell in love with the quilt, or probably more precisely, with the fabrics and amazing colours.

Bernina's Block of the Month Series

Beautiful fabrics from Studio 39 Fabric
Since I was the lucky winner of a $25 gift certificate from Studio 39 Fabrics during the 2017 Q3 Finish-A-Long, I invested in some Alison Glass fabric as well as other matching fabric.

Thanks to the hosts of 2017 Finish-A-Long and Studio 39 Fabrics. I'm really thrilled to have found another Canadian online shop!

I'm already several months behind, so there is really no stress to make it on any schedule. The blocks are quite large and don't seem very complex, so I'm really looking forward to making it....eventually. Now I just have to pick up some background fabric and I'll be ready to go.

Learning Quilt-A-Long

The end of the Learning Quilt-A-Long
I hosted the Learning Quilt-A-Long from August to December. It was a lot of fun, but very few people have linked up. I've decided to stop this event, after the December Learning Sum Up. I learned a lot and made some neat projects that I'll keep working on.

I would love to host some kind of link-up but I haven't decided on a theme. I know that I don't have the time or energy to host a link-up every week, so I'm going to have to think about it.

If you have any ideas about an event or a link-up that could be fun, please let me know :-)

Update my blog

I've learned so much about blogging by reading and seeing other bloggers' work. I've got a few ideas for updating my blog this year. It doesn't need a complete make-over, just a few tweaks, a little at a time! I have already started by creating a 2017 Finishes page using Inlinkz. Eventually I'd like to have a page for every year that I've blogged.

You may also have noticed a new Featured Post widget at the top of my blog. I'm hoping, from time to time, to highlight an older interesting post that might be relevant.
GaĂŻa, Mother Earth

Art Quilts

I have no doubt that if Alida hosts another Art with Fabric Blog Hop, that I will participate.

I also want to keep working on my art quilts. This year, it's the Common Threads Quilt Guild's turn to host the quilt show in May. The good thing is that many of my Art with Fabric quilts were made since our last quilt show two years ago, so I could just enter those. It's great to have a backup plan!

Lone Tree 2
This year, the Out of the Box Fibre Art Group has a challenge. There is a theme as well as a size requirement, but nothing else, so I will have to look into it. We will also host Fibre Fling 7 this year. It would be great to have at least one new piece in there.....we'll see.

I think that it would be wise to leave it at this. I know that I will continue learning this year, even without a quilt along. It might be nice to do it without any pressure (from myself).
A picture from my first post.
Merry Christmas!

This whole post is essentially about what I learned, so I'm going to allow myself to leave it at this :-)

Wishes & Thanks!

I wish you all a great end of 2017, a wonderful Christmas or holiday season and a terrific new year!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my posts. I also appreciate your comments, even if I'm not always good at replying.

Related Links

Linking Parties: First of all, I will be linking this post to JETgirl's 2018 Planning Party. Check out what everyone is planning! I will also be linking this post to these other parties. Come and see what's happening... Finished or Not FridayCan I Get a Whoop Whoop?Linky TuesdayLet's Bee SocialMidweek Makers

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Best of 2017

Since I haven't really been finishing much this month, I may as well start reflecting on the year that is almost finished. Wow, hard to believe that 2017 is almost history!

Doesn't Cheryl have the best button ever? I love it!!
Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs is hosting the Best of 2017 Linky Party. This event is about writing a post based on your "best" 5 posts - however you want to define this.

Highlights of 2017

Celebrate - FĂȘtons 150!
Inspired by Cheryl's blog, I created a 2017 Finishes page using the InLinkz linkup tool. Since I'm paying for the service, I think that this is a great way to create an interesting page. And while I was creating this page, I got to go through all of the posts from the past year.

No wonder I'm tired! I was really productive this year. Not only with quilting but also with hosting 2 linking parties. It would seem that I can't start small!
Beaver Block designed by
Sew Fresh Quilts

A few of my Celebrate - FĂȘtons 150 posts were in the top 10 of my most popular posts while the launch of the Learning Quilt-A-Long was the second most popular post (as measured by the number of people who viewed the pages).

Celebrate - FĂȘtons 150 in March

This post would probably qualify as the most successful in the Celebrate - FĂȘtons 150 series because of the number of viewers, comments, and its 12 posts that linked up.

This post highlighted the Canada's Big Quilt Bee and the Sew Fresh Quilt Bee. These are 3 of the blocks that I created for the Canada's Big Quilt Bee. The Beaver block above is one of her designs.
12" slab blocks made with
Stonehenge Oh Canada fabric by Northcott

This is one of Lorna's Canada 150 quilts. She is a Canadian pattern designer of Sew Fresh Quilts. She very generously sponsored one of my link-up prizes.
Sew Fresh's Canada 150 lap quilt
Announcing the Learning QAL

My second most popular post this year was the launch of the Learning Quilt-A-Long in July.

The series has been popular as far as readership, but it hasn't attracted many link-up posts. I suspect that many people don't see learning as I do - in practically everything. It's also a lot to ask, to have a learning goal every month and a post to share the learning at the end of the month. I've had 2 wonderful, loyal quilters who linked up and won a few treats. Thanks :-)

I haven't decided on the future of this Quilt-A-Long. I'm finding it hard and stressful to keep up with my learning for the month - at least I've learned something about myself in the process.

Hexies Table Topper

Finally, my most popular post ever was my finished Hexies Table Topper post. It was a lot of work to finish it this way, but it really was worth it. It is lovely.
The finished back with the hexagon facing attached

Finished Hexie Flowers Table Topper
I also suspect that some of the post's popularity came from my friend's foundation paper pieced bunny. Isn't he adorable? It was so nice to play with a friend since most of my quilting is done alone at home :-)
Lyne's first foundation paper pieced block
Growing Up Quilt-A-Long

One thread that has been woven in many of my posts this year is Alida's Growing Up QAL
I learned many interesting techniques and made some very pretty blocks for another UFO!

Thank you so much Alida! Next year will bring a new quilt along that should be just as much fun.

7 Ways to Survive the Holidays

My fifth choice for a post is sort of cheating. Last December, I wrote one of my favourite posts about 7 Ways to Survive the Holidays. I really loved writing it and wanted to do another one this year. However, after I re-read it, I'm not sure that I have anything to add or change - so I'm featuring it here. So if you didn't read it last year, or if you don't remember it, feel free to check it out.

What I learned

  • It was really fun going back to see what I had made in the last year. I participated in two Art with Fabric Blog Hop and had a great time. These are the two textile art pieces that I'm most proud of: 
  • I also created pieces and exhibited in two shows with the Out of the Box (OOTB) Fibre Art Group. I'm really happy that I have a chance to show my pieces in a live venue. Blog land is great, but it's just not the same.
  • I also created quite a few pieces for Celebrate - FĂȘtons 150, that you can see on the Celebrate - FĂȘtons 150 page. That really kept me producing! I have great news - my Sergeant Sesquicentennial made a splash at our Workplace Charity Auction this month. Obviously my colleagues prefer more traditional quilts than my art quilts. Good to know for next year! 
  • I participated in a few quilt-alongs, some more successfully than others. 
    • For the World Quilting Travel Adventure, I made almost all of the projects, sometimes incorporating them into other pieces. Thanks so much JoJo!
    • I got a little ahead on my Postcard from Sweden quilt by participating in the Busy Hands Quilts' Quilt Along.
    • Same thing for my Shattered Angle Quilt that I worked on while participating in the Splash with Colour Quilt Along. Both were UFOs that I had already started when I participated in these quilt-alongs. Thanks to these events, they are now closer to being finished!
  • I've also been doing more hand work, from English Paper Piecing (EPP) to embroidery. I find it very relaxing and hope to do more next year.
Since this post is so full of links, I've just included these in the text of the post, instead of adding a Related Links section.

Linking Parties: I will be linking to Cheryl's Best of 2017 Linky Party on December 26. Make sure to check out other blogger's Best of 2017 posts! I will also be linking up to many other parties. Check them out! Finished or Not Friday, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers,

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Finished Growing Up QAL

It's been a fun year participating in Alida's Growing Up QAL. Each month we tried a new technique and made some fun blocks. Alida was well organised and gave us a couple of options for each block. I usually chose the easiest one :-)

For my colour palette, I chose Kona solids in different grey, pink and maroon. I did add a few prints in the improv log cabin block.

Here is the list of the blocks and techniques we learned (as well as the links to the posts):

All of the blocks from Growing Up QAL with Alida (2017)
As you may have read in a couple of posts, my blocks 1, 2 and 3 have disappeared! I still haven`t found them, so I may end up remaking the blocks. At least I have the pictures and the lessons learned in the posts!
CBC logo

I am really fond of block 3 since it almost looks like the CBC logo (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). I'm a huge fan of the CBC Radio and CBC Radio 2 channels. If I have time, I really would like to see if I could make something resembling the logo using the curved piecing in block 3.

Alida has also supplied us with all kinds of options for the sashing. I've only read a couple of her posts but hope to catch up on my reading during the holidays, and before Alida begins her next quilt-along which will be the Starry Bright Sky QAL.

Check out her Starry Bright Sky QAL page. There are some wonderful blocks. She's made a gorgeous pillow from one of them. The link is below in the Related Links. Check it out!

To-Do Tuesday

✓ I'm not setting any more goals for the week, rather I'm reporting on my finished item from my to-do list.
Block 37 - Monette

As I mentioned in my last post, I took out the bag of Christmas scraps and made my first hexagon block based on Katja Marek's book, The New Hexagon, 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece.

I bought the book and EPP shapes a while back, but wanted to focus on my hexies before starting something new. I have also basted the pieces for block 38 Sonja. I should be able to sew it together soon.

I'm really looking forward to appliquéing these onto fabric to make something (maybe Christmas mug rugs).

What I learned
  • With the Growing Up QAL, not only did I make blocks, but I learned and tried many different things.
  • I learned that there seems to be a limit to the number of curves I want to sew together!
  • English Paper Piecing is very difficult if I use my own hand-made templates. Pre-cut shapes are not a luxury but a necessity for me!
  • If I want my blocks to finish at 12½" x 12½", I have to start with a 13" block. My blocks are officially only 12" x 12".
  • I think I got one block finished early - the rest of them usually involved a mad scramble near the end of the month.
  • It's not a big deal having to pay for a pattern if I posted late, but I knew that it would probably be a good excuse for me not to finish the QAL. That's why there was a mad rush at the end of most months!
  • It was difficult doing EPP with shapes other than hexagons. Those little extra flaps of fabric are a pain to work around. I was sort of disappointed that after working so hard at basting and sewing hexies, that I wasn't really good at working with these other shapes :-( I know, it's just another challenge and something else to learn :-)
Related Links

Linking Parties: I'll be linking this post to Alida's Growing Up QAL link-up page, as well as many other excellent linking parties. Join in the fun! Needle and Thread Thursday, Midweek Makers, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Linky Tuesday, Oh Scrap!, Let's Bee Social, Quilter's Monday, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, Finished or Not Friday,

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching and a sore finger

It's time for an update on my hexie runner. Have I told you how much I love hexies? Only a few dozen times?  :-)

Since I was tired of just making hexie flowers just for fun, I thought that I would start putting them together. Here's the last post from November 14th.
Hexie flowers slowly becoming a runner
Here's my latest work. It is moving along quite nicely. I finished putting the six hexie flowers together, along with their separators.

Progress on the hexie runner
I'm finding the orange separator a little distracting. I may have to balance that out with the next separator. The colours of the two remaining flowers may change as I work to balance the piece out. The orange-brown one will stay, to go with the separator but the purple may get voted off.

I also just made the purple flower. I had meant to make one originally but somehow hadn't gotten around to it. If it doesn't get used in this piece, there will be other opportunities for it to shine :-)
The next (and last?) flowers
I will be finishing one more row of the white and then auditioning a mixed coloured border. 

I also just took out a bag of Christmas scraps. As this post title suggests, between hand sewing the label and sleeve on a wall hanging and working on the hexie runner, my middle finger is full of holes and very sore. Yes, I should be wearing a thimble but I've tried many times and just end up using another finger. 

Christmas scraps - potential hexies?
So I'll probably just cut up some fabric for a few Christmas hexies. I also have some bigger hexie templates that I've been wanting to try. Maybe it's finally the time to try to do a little bit of fussy cutting. I think I need to stop because I'm sounding too ambitious again :-) However it turns out, I'm going to put this on my To-Do Tuesday list for the upcoming week. Nothing like having some plans to keep me going :-)

What I learned
  • I've said it before but somehow keep forgetting! I really need to take a picture of the potential placement of these hexies and their separators BEFORE putting them together. That would probably have helped me with the orange separator. 
  • On the other hand, now I have a design challenge to work through. And I do like a challenge, mostly :-)
  • I need another project like I need.... (add what ever you want here), but I do want to work with some Christmas fabric without getting too ambitious, so a few hexie flowers to put me in the festive mood just might do the trick. It also allowed me to take out the Christmas fabric scraps and not the two full bins of fabric that I have!
Related Links
Linking Parties: I'll be linking to To-Do Tuesday as well as a few more linking-ups. Let's see what everyone is up to this week!  Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, Oh Scrap!. MOP Monday, Finished or Not Friday, Slow Sunday StitchingDesign Wall MondayMain Crush MondayMonday MakingLinky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Maker, Needle & Thread Thursday.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Playing with colour and Learning QAL Goal

Welcome to the December Learning QAL Goal Setting Link-Up

I'm trying to learn from experience, therefore my goal for December is less ambitious - besides, with Christmas in a few weeks, who knows how things will go :-)

December's Goal

In November, I was able to work on two wholecloth quilts using different batting. In December, I want to keep FMQ (free motion quilting) Wholecloth 2, the one that was made with the cotton-wool batting. I'm going to experiment with colour and texture to put some pizzazz into that piece.

Here's what I've done so far:
Adding colour to the wholecloth quilt
I couldn't wait to start playing with the butterfly. I accentuated the yellow and then added some purple.
Colouring the butterfly
 This little fellow came out well.

FMQ bird with Kimono silk thread
Progress to date

I've coloured some of the leaves. It's going to be a challenge figure out how to quilt them differently.

I got sucked into the vortex of Black Friday week sales. Resistance was futile - till I ran out of money :-) However, I did get a great little video to help me along with the FMQ of this project.

In the Quilting Arts 1709 episode on Free-Motion Stitching, Susan Brubaker Knapp interviews Nancy McNally who is doing FMQ on a longarm. The equipment may be bigger, but the principles are the same. Nancy McNally's quilting is really incredible and I did learn a couple of things that should help me figure out how to quilt this piece.

One Monthly Goal (OMG)

I haven't been participating in the OMG lately because I had too many things on the go. I do want to add something since I've been playing around with a fun art quilt based on Elizabethan and Jacobean gardens and embroidery. I found a fantastic book and of course just had to make something!

It will mostly be appliquĂ© with embellishment. I just fell in love with the style of their work and can't wait to get started. So far, I've found most of my fabric for the  appliquĂ©. This project will probably take a few months to complete, but I really want some incentive to start it. I'll let you know more about the project and its progress in the next few weeks.

What I learned
  • I've been FMQ with # 100 Kimono silk thread. I didn't know if I would have to switch to something thicker, but so far the silk thread is doing great. It's such a pleasure to work with :-)
  • The hardest thing about going back to add colour is trying to keep the lines from getting too thick. Just quilting over the line makes it darker, but often I also want to make it slightly thicker. Sometimes they get pretty thick and lopsided because I've wondered too far off the original line. I'm hoping that practice will help.
  • The most important thing, as far as I'm concerned, is knowing when to stop. Today, I FMQ for two hours, and it was probably 15 minutes too much. It's hard to stop because I just want to finish what I'm doing, but being tired can will lead to trouble!
  • I've watched the Quilting Arts video a few times. I tend to pause it and write notes or take pictures with the Snipping Tool for reference. It was well worth purchasing, especially on sale.
  • I'm predicting that I'm going to like working on this project a lot!!!
Related Links

I hope that you'll be able to join us on our learning journey. It would be great if you can link up. It doesn't have to be anything complicated. Probably anything that you're working on right now has a few lessons to teach you, so why not share it with us?