Monday, June 30, 2014

Week-end happenings!

So much sewing this week-end! I sewed a fair bit on Friday and Saturday was another great MMGQ Sew In! I love hanging out with like-minded quilty people. We had two new members join us - Julie from Jada's Quilting Adventures and Crystal - and we chatted and sewed the day away!

For once, I effectively planned ahead and had some perfect projects to work on. Small and contained! I layered and quilted the tops to these Jawbreaker pillows that I was working on earlier in the week.
I had to pull a little fancy footwork to get all the trees pointing the same direction on the back. I love this print so much, but I've been reduced to just scraps. Oh well. More Christmas presents done!
On Friday, I was doing a little tidy up of the studio and figuring out what to take to the Sew In. I came across these... large triangle off cuts from my Giant Starburst quilt. I didn't want to stuff them in the scrap bin, so got to thinking. Anja made this from her off cuts. Hmmm....
I cut each triangle in half and then in half again and got to making some smaller HSTs. But I didn't really want to make a quilt with just the Persimmon and Punch....
Off to the Kona stash! I found (from top to bottom) Magenta, Peacock, Lime, and Canary. When in doubt, rainbow!
 I'd normally do rainbow with crisp white, but I think they look pretty darned good with Kona Steel  Coal too!
And as the afternoon was drawing to a close at the Sew In, I laid them out on the floor.
I was frantically sewing while Adrienne tidied up... thank God for chain piecing! I got the columns sewn...
and was able to sew the rows on Sunday! I know I don't really need another baby quilt in the stash, but it's just so danged cheerful!
But that's not all! I tackled the FMQ of J-Boy's Good Old Hockey Game! I've been putting it off... just worried it won't look like I imagined. Time to bite the bullet! I decided to try out my newly purchased Aurifil thread on some FMQ. Within minutes, my thread snapped. But I remembered that Linda from Scrapmaster saying that a larger needle works well with Aurifil. I upped my needle to an 80/12 from a 70/11 and this happened....
But once I'd taken some deep breaths, grabbed the seam ripper, and re-threaded, things went much better!  I'm still not 100% sold on the Aurifil. So far, Gutterman seems just as good. Feel free to leave a comment on this topic.. I'd love to hear your opinion!
Left side - un-quilted. Right side - done! Tomorrow I'll tackle the rest of the ice surface. I'm trying to pace myself... my poor neck and shoulders just can't stand up to hour after hour of FMQ.

I'm trying out a new link-up today... Anything Goes Mondays at Stitch by Stitch! I've been toying with starting my own Link Up for week-end quilters. I'm thinking Week-end WiP... I mean, not everyone wants to wait until Wednesday, right?

Hope you had time for some sewing this past week-end!


Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Finish - Give it away now!

If you've been reading my WiP Wednesday posts, you know that I've been sewing up a storm. I'm super excited to be getting a number of projects finished - some have been hanging around for far too long!

That's definitely the case with this lovely...
It's my Cool Stash Strip quilt! I've blogged about it already here in my Confessions of a Stripper post. I'm proud to say that the entire quilt top came from my stash - much of it from my cool scrap bin!
For the quilting, I wanted to soften the hard lines of the pieced strips. I opted to quilt from side edge to side edge, wiggling the lines. This involves a lot of pushing and pulling, since I was fighting the inclinations of my built in walking foot. It occurs to me at this very moment that perhaps it would have been better to disengage it for this task. Oh well... there's always next time!
You can see it better on the back. Because I used my regular foot instead of FMQ, there are spots where the quilting is not as fluid as it could be. That said, I like the way it turned out. I'm also pretty proud of the steal of a deal that this backing was - in the 4.99$ flat fold section of my LQS AND 30% off! ☺
Even my binding is made of scraps! When I bind a quilt and there's a chunk of binding left, I save it. When it's time for something scrappy (or I'm searching for one last scrap of a particular fabric), there's a treasure trove waiting!
Though I really do like it, this quilt was always meant to be given away. It meets a few of my New Year's Resolutions for 2014. I resolved to make at least two large quits from my stash... I only purchased backing and batting for this one. It's also headed to the IWK - designated for their Adolescent Mental Health and Addictions Program, Choices. This stack made it's way to the IWK this week.
The total? Three baby quilts and three large quilts (one donated by a kind quilter from Mariner's Quilt Guild). The ladies in the Volunteer office are always super appreciative of these quilts. The little ones often head to the NICU to offer comfort and warmth to sick babies and their families. The bigger ones are in demand  all over the hospital. Whenever a child is transferred from the IWK to another hospital, they send a quilt with them, but I ask for mine to go to the teens of Choices. If you've got finished quilts or tops hanging out in your stash and you just don't know what to do with them, why not look into donating them? We're so lucky as quilters to have these comforting items in our lives  - sharing the comfort and warmth of a quilt is something we can offer our communities. I'll hop down off my soapbox now! ☺

One of the quilts I opted to donate was a little tough to part with - my first Thousand Pyramids quilt.
It was made AGES before blogging.  It's been in my life for a while now, but has never really been used properly. It was meant to be a quilt for my bed, but by some freak of quilt mathematics (and likely a beginner's inaccurate quarter inch seam allowance), it was never wide enough. The bed it resided on in my studio is soon to be replaced with a queen sized murphy bed. It really needed a new home. I hope it will find someone to love it at the IWK!

So that's my Friday Finish! If you were waiting on my Michael Miller MQG Challenge, you'll have to hang on for just a little longer. It deserves a better photo shoot than my backyard ☺I'm linking up today with TGIFF at Quokka Quilts.

Hope you had a great week and an even better week-end. I'm looking forward to a MMQG Sew In tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Chuggin' along on the productivity train!

Oh, how I love having time (and the energy!) to sew again! With vacation days last week and a Sew Day with the Squares on Saturday, there's been a lot of work done since my last WIP Wednesday update!

Since I finished up the top of my Michael Miller MQG Challenge last week, it was time to get quilting. With all those stitch n'flip triangles, things were more than a little improv-y. The quilting is more than a little unusual too (at least for me!) but I opted not to make it too wonky. One can have too much of a good thing!
All quilted and ready to be bound. For those of you who wanted to see a little more on last week's post, you won't have to wait too long for a Friday to see the finished product! ☺
Next up, a new project! Another Hex n' More project from JayBird Quilts. I picked this up last week on Q-A and I's FART to Avonport Discount Fabrics. If you're intrigued by this pattern, there's a Hexagon QAL on the Jaybird website. It's not exactly like these pillows, but gives you a good idea of the technique!
Off I went to my Christmas stash again to pull these lovelies... I used the tree print (Winter from the Anne Kelle's Jingle line) to select the other colours. Don't you just love Anne Kelle prints? Christmas prints are also a great way to demo new patterns, especially pilows. If they don't turn out perfectly, you only have to look at them for a month or so!
I love how Julie of JayBird Quilts breaks down complex shapes into triangles and simple row construction. When you look at the photo on the package, you figure there will be a pile of partial seams to deal with. Nope... not a one. I've said it before and I'll likely say it again, you can make these patterns without the Hex n'More ruler (templates are provided with each pattern), but the ruler makes it so easy!
I think I'm getting the hang of pressing these seams open. I hardly burnt my fingers with the steam at all! Please don't be too horrified by my use of steam... I just can't do without it!
I loved how the first one looked, so I whipped up a second right away! I haven't squared them up yet... I need to do some re-con on pillow forms first!

And that's not all! I quilted my Cool Stash Strips. The top's been done since March, so it really was time to do it up! I wanted to soften the hard lines of the strips, but didn't want to take on a large FMQ project with J-Boy's Good Old Hockey Game also ready to quilt. We'll call these organic lines, okay?
I raided my strip stash for binding. I save all those leftover end-y bits. They're great when you're making a scrappy quilt. All pressed and virtually ready to go!

And I finished quilting it yesterday! Stay tuned for a Friday Finish on this one too!

Errands and aching shoulders kept me from the machine yesterday, but I'm sure I'll be back at it in no time! I'm linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced as well as The Needle and Thread Network.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Global Scrap Bee - June Edition!

This month's Queen Bee requested a Liberated Wedding Ring block and provided this tutorial by Little Miss Shabby.  And she said it could be as scrappy as we liked! Ultra scrappy produces studio conditions like this...
 And this...
These improv-y scrappy bits are built on strips of paper.... not a technique I normally use, but it worked well for this block. 
 Then to trim them down.
Major snafu when adding the white triangles to the scrappy strips... my poor abused ironing board decided, for the first time ever, to bleed purple dye onto my lovely Kona White. On the up side, the block wasn't fully assembled and I could easily replace it. Apparently, a new ironing board cover should be on the to do list! ☺
 Et voilà! C'est fini! Yeah... it's not even June 30th and I'm done my block! And it's already in the mail!
Now, dear readers, comes the tricky part. I've just realized that I'm the Queen Bee for July and I haven't decided on a block. I've got a couple ideas... there's Birds in the Air... but I'm not sold. Any suggestions for me? Honestly, choosing my own block is the hardest part of bees!


Friday, June 20, 2014

The Library Project - Sew much more productive Edition!

After last month's true confessions edition, I have upped my game in The Library Project department. I swore that I would NOT begin my top secret, yet-to-be-shared project before making some progress on my current project, Good Old Hockey Game.

And I haven't! I've been dedicated to getting some WiPs off the Gotta do list and onto the Yippee!!! It's done list (okay, I don't really have that list... I just cross them off... but that makes me pretty danged happy!)

Long story short - I've finished the top!
It took a couple sessions of appliqué to get this done. If you're a regular reader, you'll know that I am not the biggest fan of this technique.... probably because I've never really been happy with the results in the past. But I've recently done a block for my Skill Builder BOM that taught me lots of tricks for appliqué. The right needle, the right size stitches - it made a huge difference. Go figure!

Today, I even got that bad boy layered and ready to quilt. I love extra wide backings and Spot On from Robert Kaufman fit the bill perfectly for this one!
I went outside my comfort zone in prepping this quilt. Normally, I layer my quilts on the art room tables at work. I use binder clips to attach the backing to the edge of the table, then smooth and stretch (just a little) the batting, then smooth the top. Then there's (seemingly) hours of pinning. Not this time! I opted to lay my layers out on the floor in the family room. I taped the batting to the floor (just a little) and used spray adhesive. I usually only use it for smaller projects (placemats, baby quilts), but I'm planning to FMQ this quilt and I don't want to mess about pins in my work area.

Since the last link-up, I also sent my first Library Project Oh Deer! to it's forever home. More progress!

But that's not all... I decided to throw in another TLP pattern this week. I've had this pattern....
on the shelf for a while now. It uses the same ruler as Toes in the Sand. It's the Hex n' More from Jaybird Quilts. I kept looking at this itty bitty pattern and wanting to make it. And since I've been feeling the pull of practicality lately, the finished product will be a present!

If you caught a peek of my Christmas fabric stash, you wouldn't necessarily think "practical". But I have a tough time resisting those 30% off post-Christmas sales.
The other nice thing about this pattern is that the cutting instructions are for two co-ordinating pillows. Who only wants one pillow anyway? The pattern calls for a charm pack, but I opted to make my own from my (substantial) Christmas stash! The fabrics I've selected are mostly from the Holiday Flourish line. They're a little more bling-y than I'd pick for myself... but then again, these pillows aren't for me!
I've said it before I'm sure, but that Hex n' More sure does make cutting triangles a breeze!
My latest trick is to use a piece of batting as a portable design wall. I'm able to put it beside my sewing area and grab pieces to sew without getting up. That was important with this one since I planned the fabric distribution pretty carefully.
To be fair, I'm only counting this as ½ a Library Project. It's pretty small... I'll need to find another small project in my collection to round things out!
Now to tuck them away as a Christmas present. I suspect it's going to be a little tricky getting much sewing done close to Christmas this year!

All in all, not too shabby this month! One and ½ projects done of four and still 6 months to go! I'm linking up with Chezzetcook Modern Quilts for the monthly Library Project Link-up. Can't wait to see what everyone else has gotten up to this month.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WiP Wednesday - The Behmoth!!!

Summer vacation has officially begun! Report cards are done and I don't have to go back to work for... well, a while! I've been making the most of my time and sewing a lot!

I've been working away on J-Boy's Good Old Hockey Game and the appliqué on the top is done. There might be a few speed wobbles present, but it's by far the happiest I've ever been with machine appliqué of mine.  I don't know how I managed such a dull pic on a sunny day! Q-A and I went on a F.A.R.T (check Alphabet Soup if you're scratching your head on this one!) and I've got the batting and some snazzy backing all washed and ready to go.
And here's a blast from the past - Toes in the Sand! I can't believe I haven't worked on this one since January! On the week-end, I cut all the setting triangles and now the top's sewn together. And I have backing and batting ready to go for this one too! It was just starting to rain as this pic was snapped... oh the silly things we do for quilts!
I even pressed the seams open as directed. What a time consuming process! Don't you just love that Sun Print Text fabric? It cost me an arm and a leg by the time I got it here, but I just couldn't see a solid as those setting triangles.
Finally, inspiration struck in the Michael Miller MQG Challenge department! I made a fun pillow a while back, but used so little challenge fabric that it seemed ridiculous! But this second project - this feels so much more... challenge-y! Here are a few progress pics to whet your appetite.
 Those are stitch and flip triangles you're seeing.
 And yes, those are my new spools of Aurifil lurking in the background. More to come on this quilt in a future post... the top is done and ready to be layered!
It's been a great week of sewing! I hardly wait to get away from the computer and back to the machine! I'm so excited about the progress I've made this week that I'm linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and The Needle and Thread Network.


P.S. Speaking of link-ups, for all you Library Project-ers out there, don't forget that this Friday is the start of the monthly link-up!

Friday, June 13, 2014

More MMQG shenanigans!

Though I've known about it since not long after our meeting in May, I managed to procrastinate my contribution to the MMQG's pincushion swap until the night before! Honestly, you'd think I'd learn after 38 years!

Thankfully, I had been trawling Pinterest for ideas and had a few goodies filed away. After much deliberation, I opted for a Moda Bake Shop offering for Cathedral Window pincushion. I went for a lovely Valori Wells for my main print and dove into the low volume stash for the other windows. That should keep it modern, right?
Instead of doing the window frame in the usual white or cream, I decide to mod it up with Kona The Breakers. I might just be obsessed with this colour... I've done cathedral windows before, but never by machine. It was a little tricky and I stuck myself with more than one pin!
 But it turned out nicely nonetheless!
I even added one of my quilt labels. It had to be trimmed a little so it didn't take over! I really should have topstitched it onto the back before I constructed the pincushion. Hindsight is 20/20!
A couple notes about this tutorial. It calls for 9 charm (5 inch) squares, but I opted not to piece the back out of squares and to do a solid square. I would strongly recommend reading through the tutorial before cutting anything, as you might be able to make your pincushion with smaller scraps than 5 inch charms. The majority of the squares on the pincushion top get trimmed away. Apart from a little fabric wastage, the tutorial is very well written - especially the sections on how to fold and press the window frame. That can be tricky!

And here's what I got in our little exchange...

Photo by Linda "The ScrapMaster"!

Fun, huh? Seems almost wrong to stick pins in it! You can check out all the pincushion treasures by checking out this post from our guild's blog. There are also details about our upcoming participation in Amherst's Fibre Arts Festival in October, as well as quilts that were showed and shared!

I'm lovin' being a MMQG member. And not just because I came home from the meeting with a fun new pincushion! If you're in the HRM, you should come check out our next meeting on July 10th. We're always interested in new members. Heck, we're all new members.This guild's only been around since November 2013! Or you can subscribe to our blog. Our Social Media Goddess is always putting interesting stuff on there.