Sunday 31 January 2016

Pick Up Sticks is Finished

     I'm really excited to share this finish with you!


     I finished the quilting on the Pick Up Sticks quilt around noon on Friday.  As it was sunny out when I got the trimming done I hauled the quilt outside to the backyard to take some pictures.  It's been so cloudy this winter that I thought I should take the pictures while I could.

     My journey with pick up sticks blocks started at the Toronto Modern Quilt Guild where we made blocks for a block lotto.  Those blocks were made with Kona Snow as a background. I had so much fun making the blocks that I asked the members of my local modern group if they wanted to make blocks for a comfort quilt project.  The blocks construction originally came from a book by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr but I'm not sure which one.
     The group decided to make blocks with varying grey backgrounds and bright sticks.   The 10 members of this group made enough blocks for two large lap quilts.  The first quilt was made entirely of pick up sticks blocks.  I took the leftover blocks and added the blue sashing to make this quilt.

     I used the quilt to practise free motion quilting on the sashing.  First I quilted in the ditch around each block.  Then I practised a large wiggle in the sashing.  I followed that up by quilting an echo with the walking foot around the pick up sticks.

     I finished the binding around 5:00 pm and took the quilt out for a last photo before the light disappeared.  This was my first time machine stitching the binding on both the front and the back of the quilt.  I wanted to learn this technique as I will be binding lots of quilts for the guild's donation program over the next few years.  The backing fabric which you get a peek at here is from my stash.

     The pick up sticks quilt finishes at 52" by 66".  It will be donated to the Interpersonal Violence unit at the local hospital and will be given to a survivor of sexual assault.
It was my One Monthly Goal  for January and my first finish for quarter one of a Year of Lovely finishes. My original post can be found here. I'm linking it up for One Monthly Goal with Heidi at Red Letter Quilts, with Beth at  Cooking up Quilts for Main Crush Monday and at TGIFF with Leanne at Devoted Quilter

Wednesday 27 January 2016

A new start.

       One evening last week I was weary of working on quilting the pick up sticks quilt and I was too tired to feel comfortable cutting my Midnight Mystery blocks into quarters.  I did however have enough energy to construct a block of the Graduated Cross quilt.

   This colour combination is a little more subtle than the original but I like it just as much.  It feels good to have a start on this project, even if it is a small start. 

      I like to have lots of different projects on the go because it lets me pick and choose what I work on depending upon my mood and energy level. 

     So over the next  week I'll be quilting, or working on The Midnight Mystery or maybe making another Graduated Cross block...or maybe I'll work on all three projects. But for sure I'll make a  Polaroid Block that my bee mate Katrin (Hive 8 of the Stash Bee)  has requested for her friend,s child Hanno who has a brain tumour and who is  going  through chemo therapy now.  If you would like to make one as well, the instructions are on Katrin's blog Puppilalla.  This is not her bee block but a separate project she would like help with.

     If any of my local followers would like to make a block I'll be picking up the background fabric Kona Grellow at The Workroom  on Sunday and I'd be happy to share it.

     I'm heading over to get social at the Let's Bee Social link up on Lorna's blog.  Won't you join me.


Monday 25 January 2016

The Home Stretch

     I'm on the home stretch, I think.  I've spent the weekend putting in a lot of effort on quilting the pick up sticks quilt.
I would have thought it would be done by now but man it takes a long time to quilt one of these puppies on a home sewing machine.  

     Last weekend I quilted in the ditch around the blocks.  This weekend I focussed on free motion quilting  wide wiggles in the sashing and that went quicker than I thought it would.  I then decided that leaving the blocks with no quilting in them wasn't good enough so I am straight line quilting an echo around the pick up sticks. 

      I'm pretty happy with how it's turning out.  I'm learning a lot about my sewing machine as I go along and I'm getting better at the free motion quilting. How many hours of this do we have to do to get really good at this?

        While I was working on this I was thinking of Helen in Ireland who is tackling her own quilting back log and Laney and Elizabeth in the U.S. who are also working on their free motion quilting. All in together girls!

     I'm hoping to get this finished by the end of the month but I've got a really busy weekend coming up so I'm crossing my fingers.  I'm linking up with Beth of Cooking Up Quilts for Main Crush Monday. 

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Mid January Update

     We have been getting loads and loads of snow here.  It is beautiful fluffy snow and it is making me very happy.  It feels like winter has finally arrived.  The nice thing about snow is that even if you just get a little bit of sun, it gets all sparkly and makes you feel like it is even sunnier than it is.  I'm hoping that after the snow storm passes over it will stay cold and get sunny. Speaking of storms, I've  been sewing up a storm this month.

     At the beginning of the month I made this star block for Laura for the Stash Bee.  She was looking for teal fabric for the star and low volume fabrics for the background. I think mine is the darkest one she's getting. I'm super excited to be in Group 8 for the 2016 bee.  It's my first time participating and I do have to say it's a bit nerve wracking constructing a block for someone else.  I suspect it will get easier as the months go on.

     This last  Friday I spent some time catching up with the November instructions for the Midnight Mystery, so I'm pretty much ready to put the blocks together.  This will require cutting the courthouse steps block.  A task I'm not looking forward to.  I like those big blocks.

     The pick up sticks quilt is coming along nicely as well.  I've finished the straight line quilting and I'm ready to work on the free motion quilting in the sashing. In preparation for  that, I've been practicing along with Christina Camelli's " Free Motion Quilting Essentials" class, which is a Craftsy class.  I'm practicing on blocks I drew onto a quilt sized muslin.

     It's been a good way to figure out fmq on my new machine and to try out designs to find one that I'll be comfortable with on the actual quilt.  I'm having so much fun playing with my new machine.  The more I use it the more I love it.  I also really like the class.  Christina's style is very relaxed, she shows you her mistakes and encourages you not to be too hard on yourself.  Accepting my imperfect self is a lifelong project of mine.

     I'm pretty happy with how the wiggly lines worked out.  You can see them in the triangles above. I'll probably use them in the sashing.  I think they will look awesome.

     I've also been happily sewing some burp cloths for my future grandson.  He's likely to be here in about 8 weeks.  Can you believe it!  I'll hold off on sharing these until I have a bunch made.  I'm joining Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social.  I'm looking forward to seeing what every one else has been up to.


Friday 15 January 2016


     Even before Jenn at Quarter Inch from the edge dubbed 2016 The Year of the Stash, I was raiding my stash to make some last minute Christmas gifts.  In late December and early January I've made four 1 hour baskets, all from my stash.  If you haven't come across it yet, the One Hour Basket is a free tutorial on Craftsy designed by Hearts and Bees.  I first saw the pattern on Diana's blog Red Delicious Life.

      I made my first basket for my friend Pauline.  Pauline is my neighbour from down the road and we've been friends for close to 20 years.  She used to watch my kids after school and I can always count on her or her youngest son to look after the cat when we go away.

     I knew that Pauline would really like this Japanese woven fabric that I purchased at Kallisti Quilts.  I believe the fabric for the handles (also Japanese) is from Greenwood Quiltery.

     After making Pauline's basket I made one for my son and his wife.  They are expecting their first child in March so I filled the basket with lots of fun things for the baby.

     I love the little fish on this fabric (sorry I don't know what the fabric is) and I was happy to have a project to used it in as it never seemed to fit with any projects I've made in the past.  The handles here are floral fabric from Piece O Cake, and the basket is lined with an aqua Grunge.  My favourite goodie in this basket is this little shirt.

     I don't usually like cutesy sayings on baby clothes but this one just made me roar with laughter.  This little shirt is size 3 months.

     After making these two baskets I decided to make two more, for my two quilting friends.  I met both of them at my local quilt shop and our friendship developed at our local guild.  We get together to quilt about once a month.  

     I used another Japanese woven fabric to make Wendy's basket, which I lined with a small print taupe.  The handles are teal decorator weight fabric left over from a bag I made for myself a few years ago.

     For Cyndy's bag I used a brown  and grey Grunge fat quarter.  It looks kind of red in the photo but it is brown.  That's a light green grunge lining the basket.  Cyndy loves Grunge.  The handles are again, a Japanese fabric.

     I really enjoyed making the One Hour Baskets and I'm sure there will be more in my future.  I'm sharing these little finishes at TGIFF which is hosted this week at Faith and Fabric.  Do you have a go to gift that you like to make?

Tuesday 12 January 2016

First Quarter List for 2016

     For the last quarter of 2015 I managed to complete 3 of my 4 items,  which I think is pretty good, so for my first quarter list I'm carrying over the one almost finish and adding another 4 or 5 projects.

     The carry over is the pick up sticks quilt.  I'm in the middle of quilting in the ditch and plan to do some free motion quilting in the sashing.

       My daughter has been asking me to quilt this next quilt for a couple of years.  It's an oversized Churn Dash quilt.  The pattern is from Stitch Magazine and was designed by Alexandra Ledgerwood.  I told my daughter  I would get the quilt  to her in February.  I hope I can keep that promise.

    I've also got this baby quilt to finish the quilting on.  It's a simple brick pattern.   I stopped working on this quilt when it was about 2/3 quilted because there were no babies coming at that point.  Now there are a couple of babies coming so I think I better finish it.

     I'm working hard to catch up with the Midnight Mystery Quilt hosted by Cheryl at MeadowMist Designs.  I just finished trimming these square in a square blocks.  I'm ready to start constructing the blocks (November's directions) so I'm just a bit behind.

     Number 5 on the list is to make the graduated star block from the Fabri Quilt block challenge in to a quilt.  I've cut out the fabric into strips but I'm thinking I might have to switch out one of the fabrics now that I see them in the photo.

     I'd  also like to make a cover for my Quilter's Planner.  I think I'll use this Lizzy House Fabric for that.

     And finally I'm pretty sure this flannel will make it's way into some baby items this quarter.

     Well I think that is more than enough so I'll end the list here and link up with Leanne at She Can Quilt and with Lorna at SewFresh Quilts.  What are your plans for this quarter.

Monday 11 January 2016

Crushing on Cleaning Up

     I've taken some breaks from sewing this last week to work on my current main crush which has been tidying my sewing space.  It all started with  me reading a post on Shasta's blog, High Road Quilter where she talked about cleaning her closet.  I must have caught a virus from her because the next thing I knew I was cleaning my closet.

    Sorry, there is no before photo but trust me when I say that I could not close the door before and now I can.  

     What did I get rid of?  Well only about a gazillion old quilt sandwhiches which I had used for practising free motion quilting, some magazines, some patterns and a skirt that I hadn't quite finished, which will no longer fit.   But bonus, I found a piece of batting I'd lost track of that will work for a lap sized quilt. Yay!

    From there I moved on to the cabinet that houses the stash.  I sorted , consolidated, moved things around and removed things from the stash which I'm sure I'll never use.    Here's what she looks like now.

     Here's a close up.


     The work's not over yet. There's the corner in the other side of the room.  It's next on the cleaning list.  But I think it will have to wait for a while so I can get some quilting done.

     I'm linking up to Main Crush Monday over at Cooking Up Quilts.  What have you been up to.


Thursday 7 January 2016

Throw Back Thursday

         It's Throw Back Thursday, and my first time linking up. I give away pretty much everything I make so the quilts haven't been around to take pictures of.  I persuaded my son to bring this quilt home when he came for a Christmas visit.   You can see that Benny is happy that I did.

  This is the second bed sized quilt that I made.  The first one was made for my daughter when she went to university ( no pictures of it yet). Pretty much the minute after I finished making hers, my son started asking me when I was going to make him one.  He's the second child.  Can you tell?
     Well here it is.  The picture looks like a throw back, but it was just a very grey day.

    I think I made it about 6 years ago. He had painted his room a bright apple green and I chose fabrics to  go with that colour.  Don't you just love those water like batiks.  The fabric in the borders featured sea turtles, and I remember that I had to look everywhere to get enough fabric to finish the borders.  I mostly quilted it by stitching in the ditch.  I had these grandiose plans to sew free motion sea turtles throughout the border, but I gave up after three.  Here's one of my wonky turtles below.  I thought they were terrible at the time but it's actually not that bad.  I was a complete fmq beginner after all.

     I picked up the pattern at Greenwood Quiltery, my local Quilt Shop, and I believe the pattern was designed by my good friend Wendy.  The quilt has held up pretty well.  Using good quality fabrics does pay off.
     I'm linking up to Throw Back Thursday with Jenn at A Quarter Inch From the Edge.  I can't wait to see what everyone else has unearthed from their past.

Monday 4 January 2016

Still Crushing on the Pick Up Sticks

     I was hoping to have the pick up sticks quilt finished by the end of December but then I decided to make a couple of last minute Christmas presents and it just wasn't happening.
So the Pick Up Sticks Quilt is still my Main Crush.  You can see from the picture below that I've got the sashing on and it's all pin basted.  I've only shown a corner of the quilt as I want to keep the full reveal for when the quilt is all finished.

      So far I've quilted a couple of rows in the ditch to try out the accufeed foot of my new sewing machine.  I forgot about the pressure dial on the side of the machine and there is very slight ruffling on the back but not enough for me to worry about.  I'll play around with it a bit later this week and work out how to adjust the dial to fix this.  I get three introductory classes , one a month at the shop where I bought the machine.  The first is on Friday. I'm looking forward to learning more about the features of the machine (I call her Jane). So far I'm loving her. She sews much more easily and accurately than my other machine.

     Before working on this quilt I used the accufeed foot on this, project which I could describe as my next to main crush.

     This is a muslin I prepared to work through the introductory free motion quilting class with Christina Camelli on Craftsy.  Rather than stitch on smaller block sized samples I drew several copies of each of the blocks on a large lap sized muslin.  I wanted to practise on this larger format because I find the shift from small samples to quilts is quite a leap.
     I've sewn straight lines with the accufeed foot (essentially a walking foot) to outline each of the blocks and anchor the layers of the "quilt" together.  I'll work on the free motion practice over the next couple of weeks.  I really like Christina's teaching style and I'm pretty sure I'll purchase her more advanced class when I'm finished with this one.
     How about do you have plans to work on new techniques?  

     Linking up for Main Crush Monday with Beth of Cooking Up Quilts, and I just heard about a new monthly link up, One Monthly Goal at Red Letter Quilts, so I'm linking up  the pick up sticks quilt as my goal for January.  Thanks to Heidi for picking up where a Lovely Year of Finishes left off.

Saturday 2 January 2016

The Weird, Wacky and Wonderful


   Jenn at Quarter Inch From the Edge has declared 2016 the year of the stash and she has written a stash manifesto to go along with it.  She is encouraging others to play along and write their own manifestos. This prompted me to add to my 2016 goals the goal of using more of my stash.

 My first thought was to have my manifesto typified by the statement "Use It or Lose It.  With this scenario I envisioned myself restricting purchases to having used an equivalent amount of material from the stash, but here's the thing.  I don't have that kind of accounting personality and the whole enterprise would just bore me to death.

So I'm still going to add to my stash, pretty much in the same way I do now, but I'm going to aim to use up at least as much of the old stuff as I bring in , and hopefully more. 

 Now I don't know about you but over the years I've managed to accumulate some fabrics that I can only describe as one offs.  Maybe I went a little overboard at a sale, maybe I bought too many fat quarters for a particular project wanting to have lots of options for fabric choices. To be frank for some of my fat quarters I don't know what I was thinking!

Keeping all this in mind my Mission Statement is "To Use Up the Weird, the Wacky and the Wonderful" one offs that I have in my stash.  It could be a fat quarter or several metres of fabric. 

And here I share with you some of the dirty laundry.

      Some of these could definitely fall into the category of weird and wacky, and if they don't fit in that category they don't go with much in my stash right now.

     The weirdly wonderful category includes several traditional Japanese fabrics that don't really fit with each other or with much else in my stash.

     Although some of these fabrics are quite beautiful.

    So how am I planning on using these up.  Well, in November and December I did a pretty good job of using stash fabrics in small presents like the five minute hexie coasters and fabric baskets. I might also sneak some fabrics into  improv pieces, and I have some plans to give away some fabrics to homes where I know they will be better loved.  It's all about lightening the load and freeing up space for new things.

     So that's the plan. I'm linking up to the Year of the Stash Linkup with Jenn at Quarter Inch From the Edge.  Like Jen I'll keep a running tab somewhere.
Do you have plans for lightening your stash this year?