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,

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 appliqué 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  appliqué. 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?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Lots of curves

Block 11 - New York Beauty style
Growing up QAL

Block 11 featured both foundation paper piecing and curves. It was a New York beauty style block

I love foundation paper piecing and can tolerate putting curves together, but having to put 5 of them together was long.

I have to admit that the last two were easier, but I also didn't care as much by then! It's a miracle that they came out ok :-)

For the colour choice, since I had quite a bit of the light purple, it got the honour of being the background colour. The other pieces were added, mostly based on the size of scraps I had. I did deviate from Alida's two blocks by using the Block 1 pattern piece for the bottom curve, while the rest is from the Block 2 pattern.

I had originally thought of making both blocks but after the curves of this one, I was done!!!

Block 11 - foundation paper pieced and lots of curves
To-do Tuesday
Sergeant 150!

I have to make a label before Friday for my Sergeant Sesquicentennial wall quilt (and here I was hoping that I would never have to write that 150 word again!)

Each year I donate a small quilt to our Workplace Charity Campaign. This year, the Sergeant is it!When I was getting him ready to take to work, I realized that it didn't have a label.

I'll be making a 3" foundation paper pieced block that is a variation of the maple leaf. I can either make the leaf in a light colour so that I can print within it and have a colourful border, or I can make the leaf in one of the Canada 150 fabrics and just add a piece to the block to print on. I guess it will depend on what fabric I find first!

I just want to mention that I get many of my 3" foundation paper piecing patterns through the Quilting on the Square newsletter. (See Related Links)

Update: I just finished the quilt label and quilt sleeve. It's all ready for the auction - and that's a project crossed off my To-do Tuesday list!

What I learned
  • One or two curves is fine - 4 is excessive!
  • My curves did get better by the fourth one, even if by then I didn't care much about accuracy.
  • I've had a great time making Alida's blocks in her QAL. It hasn't always been easy to get it done within the month, but I'm quite happy that I managed it.
  • I haven't decided how I'm going to sash and finish the quilt yet. There is no hurry since I still haven't found my first three blocks yet!
Related Links
Linking Parties: I'm linking up to the last link-up of Alida's Growing up QAL. Come see all of the amazing blocks! I will also be linking up to To-do Tuesday. It's nice having a little goal for my week :-) I am also linking up to these great linking parties. Check them out! Linky Tuesday,  Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers #100Needle & Thread ThursdayFinished or Not Friday, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, MOP Monday

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wholecloth Quilt 2 and Goal Sum Up

In the November Learning QAL, I very optimistically said that I would try out the 4 types of batting on wholecloth quilts.

So far, I made the beginnings of a wholecloth quilt with the silk batting. The quilting is mostly done, although I do want to try quilting some kind of grid pattern in the border. The project won't be finished for a while because I will be painting within the FMQ. (See the Wholecloth link in Related Links below for more details.)

First Wholecloth quilt - the back
First Wholecloth quilt - the front

This will be the front of the quilt
I started the second wholecloth quilt Thursday night. Since it's essentially just following the pattern of the fabric, it's not that difficult. The hard part is making the decision of which thread to use where!

I am using # 100 Kimono silk thread on this wholecloth quilt as well. So far I've used teal and blue on the plants and a maroon on the bird. The colours don't show that much, but once I've quilted the outline, I hope to add more colour from the front (instead of the back). That would be much easier :-)

You may be able to see two upside down birds that I've x-ed out, on the fabric. I don't care about the direction of the plants but didn't want the upside down birds. I x-ed them out in the hopes that I won't quilt them by mistake. The marks will come out when I iron the piece.

The pattern that I am following, which will be the back

I used the cotton-wool batting for this project because I would love to have the extra loft. In my last batting experiment, I found that once the quilts were washed, there was little difference in the loft of each. Since I don't expect to wash this one, I'm hoping that the cotton-wool batting will give me the best result.

Here's a closeup of the FMQ. You can see the bird in red and some of the plants.
Closeup of the FMQ so far
This is roughly the same section as the top, but in reverse. It's so weird looking at all of this colour and not seeing it on the quilted side :-) I'm really hoping that I'll be able to add more colour once I've outlined the pattern. Then I'll be able to follow the FMQ and see exactly what I'm doing.

Closeup of the pattern that I'm quilting. Isn't it amazing?
The fabric also includes 2 butterflies. I could leave them upside down but I'd rather not. I think I've figured out how to reverse the image so that I can quilt them right-side up.

I copied the image on freezer paper. Next I'll outline the butterfly from the wrong side of the freezer paper so that it will be facing the flower. I may have to transfer that image to another piece of freezer paper so that I can iron it onto the fabric. If that doesn't work, I can always pin it down.

I'll let you know how that works out!
Working with the upside down butterfly
Since I never did press the publish button, I can update this project. I ended up FMQ the butterfly from the wrong side of the image - I just pinned it down. It worked really well.

The FMQ from the back is essentially finished. Here it the front.

The front of the wholecloth quilt
Here's the back. Someone mentioned that I actually had 2 quilts - one from the back and one from the front. I am tempted to show the quilt from the printed fabric side, but with the butterflies moved over, it doesn't look as good anymore.
The back of the piece - all FMQ
Here's a close-up of the butterfly. It's not easy to see, but it will be nice once more colour has been added.
Close-up of the quilted butterfly
What I learned
  • I've had a great time FMQ this by essentially tracing the fabric. I find it very easy to do, but then when I thought about it, I've been tracing pictures since I was ten or so. I used to make my own monthly calendars by tracing from my favourite colouring books (that I rarely coloured) and then adding the grid for the dates over the images - which were often Peanuts characters :-)
  • I mentioned that the butterflies traced onto freezer paper worked really well. What I didn't mention is that I didn't place one of the butterflies as carefully as I should have, so that it's overlapping a leaf. I'll have to work on that from the front when I add more colour. 
  • I'm happy to say that I learned from my mistake - the second butterfly is very well placed! Now the first one can be considered a creative challenge as I try to fix it 😊
  • This has been a great experiment, but I have to admit that although I love my second wholecloth piece, I'm not sure how great it will come out. I really feel that it needs more to focus on. I may end up doing a lot of stitching on the birds and the butterfly so that there will be something to draw the eyes. That may mean that I won't do much stitching on the flowers or leaves. That is how I intend to proceed once I start working from the front.
  • I'm not sure if I will have time to do more FMQ on this piece before the end of the month, or to even work on the other two wholecloth quilts. I have come a long way since I am really not stressing about it, except that I just realised that I have to post my Learning QAL - November Sum-up. So I will add it to the post. Oops!!!
Related Links
Linking Parties: I will be linking this to many linking parties. Find out what others are doing by clicking on these links. Free Motion Mavericks, MOP Monday, Off the Wall Friday, Finished or Not Friday, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, Monday Making, Design Wall Monday, Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee SocialMidweek Makers #100, Needle & Thread Thursday,

Monday, November 20, 2017

Shattered Angles Quilt

I've spent some time this weekend working on my Splash of Color QAL. My version is called Shattered Angles.

As I worked on it, it all came back to me why I had been so frustrated with this project. Since I seem to be in a more zen mood, I even managed to figure out how to make the process easier. I thought that I would share some of my learning with you.

The pattern is based on cutting and sewing strips, stacking them and then cutting them at a 45 degree angle. The pieces are then moved around so that each finished strip will have different fabrics. So far, so good.

Putting the two pieces together
My problem comes when I have to add a strip to the others, after having inserted the coloured fabric. Before figuring it out, I ended up with some very narrow strips. That's why my finished blocks are now 6" instead of 6½" square.
Adding a pin where the two pieces meet (top right)

I finally figured out that if I placed a pin where the new strip and the coloured piece meet, I could then  pull the fabric over and make sure that it was straight.
Looks straight to me!

It doesn't seem like much, but I would probably have finished the whole quilt 2 years ago if I have figured it out sooner :-)

I also found that if I ironed the seams and pinned everything, that it was much easier to sew. (I know, it should be evident!)
Ironed, pined and ready to sew.
Here is the finished strip, ready to be trimmed and cut. I'm quite happy with the top of the strip since it's fairly straight. That's what I was trying to do!
Ready to be trimmed

After trimming the strip to 6" long, I then cut it to get 6" square blocks.

Trimmed and ready to cut
Here is my pile of blocks. So far, I have 24 completed. I made 15 of them on the weekend.
Pile of finished 6" blocks

There are many options for laying out this quilt, but this is the most obvious one. Four blocks are placed together to make a kind of square box type pattern. It's best if the coloured lines don't meet, but that's easier said than done.
Preview of what the quilt could look like
 At this point, the quilt is about half done. I have put it away since I have other priorities this month. I'm not sure that I'll be finished in time for the final link-up for the quilt top (December 12, 2017), but that would be the story of my life. I'm just thrilled that I gotten ahead on this UFO!

To-Do Tuesday

I didn't get any of the things I wanted done this week - so I'm going to try again!
For my To-Do list this week, I'm going to work on another wholecloth quilt and add a few more rows on my batik quilt!

What I learned
  • Isn't it amazing what effect your state of mind can have on your quilting? I guess it shouldn't be surprising since our state of mind pretty much affects our whole life :-) Anyway, I am glad that I was calmer and able to work out how to put these strips together. I did try out a couple of other methods but they didn't work. I don't see things easily in 3D, so it's not surprising that I had that much trouble. I'm just thrilled that it worked out.
  • This will never be my favourite quilt or pattern. Even without the black and white fabric, it's way too much work for me! Of course I would never say that about an art quilt that I would put just as much effort into :-)
Related Links
Linking Parties: I am linking up to the Splash of Color QAL, as well as many other quilting parties. Check them out! Main Crush Monday, Monday MakingTo-Do Tuesday, Linky Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Let's Bee Social, WOW - Wips on Wednesdays, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, Finished or Not Friday,

I have awesome news! My Shattered Angles project was featured on Connie's Linky Tuesday. Check it out!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wholecloth, Batiks and Hexies

It's been a busy week since the last post. I've made some progress on a couple of projects, including starting a new one.

November's Learning Quilt-A-Long

My goal for November is to create a wholecloth quilt from each different batting being tested. In some of the projects, the FMQ follows the design on what will be the backing.

For this first piece, I began by quilting on the silk batting. Last month I had quilted on the cotton-wool batting first, so the silk batting felt very thin in comparison. This time, the silk batting was great.
FMQ the bird panel from the backing
For this wholecloth quilt, I used #100 Kimono silk thread from Superior Threads in both the top and the bobbin. It was perfect and quilted beautifully.

Below is the front of the wholecloth quilt. I changed the colour to off-white because I would like to try to either paint or dye the piece. This will be a learning project for this winter. I'm hoping to visit my girlfriend who is a painter. She has promised to help me since I'm pretty nervous about painting :-) I'm the kid who had a paint-by-number of the Last Supper and proceeded to paint the whole ceiling in one colour of brown!!! Needless to say, the painting (and the ceiling) were never finished.

The wholecloth quilt created from the FMQ panel
I added a border to the panel and then marked the wholecloth so that I can FMQ something interesting in the border.

Another Batik Lap Quilt

I've started another batik lap quilt using a couple of charm packs that I bought a while back. The colours are absolutely stunning. I'm having a great time working with these colours!

I have almost half of the quilt top pieced. It's now time to go into my stash for more fabric since I only bought 2 charm packs but I need slightly more than that to make a respectable sized quilt (roughly 50" x 47").

Batik lap top - almost half done
I love making these quick quilts. Minimum piecing with all kinds of potential for FMQ. I've been thinking of doing an all-over quilt pattern. I've actually never done this on a quilt. I think that it could be a good learning experience :-)

Hexie Project

I've spent a lot of evenings working on my hexies. It's a restful activity after a day of working and thinking. So far, I'm planning for a runner of two hexie flowers wide and possibly five flowers long. I'll see how far I get before I decide to call it done!
Hexie project coming along
I'm not sure that I like the white border. I could remove it (it's much easier to remove than to add!), but I'll wait to see how it goes. It might be cool to add a border outside of the white border, possibly in all of the colours that I've used in the hexies. The fun part of working with hexies is that it's easy to try out a design by just putting them into place, before attaching them.

To-Do Tuesday

For my To-Do list this week, I'm going to work on another wholecloth quilt and add a few more rows on my batik quilt!

What I learned
  • FMQ the panel by following its outline went really well. I find it much faster than trying to figure out what FMQ pattern to use next. Since I was only outlining everything, it only took a little over an hour. That's good because if it had taken a huge amount of time, I might not be willing to try to add paint or dye to it! I even have more of these panels if I end up wanting to start over.
  • I forget how much I love batiks until I'm doing another batik project. I really hope that I'll remember to use them more often. I get such joy out of working with awesome colours! 
  • After reading a book about Leaders and Enders, I'm really tempted to start one. I think I may have enough batik scraps to start. That would be very cool. I'll let you know when it happens.
  • I'm still having a great time working on the hexies project. It's great to see it grow. 
  • I've been sucked into looking at hexies and EPP on Pinterest. Oh the things I could make.... maybe.... if I had the patience!!!
  • Speaking of patience, I just came back from listening to Kathy K. Wylie who was our guild's guest speaker. Her latest quilt, "For Such a Time As This" won first prize in Houston this fall under Traditional Appliqué. It took her 3 years to make and over 200 hours to FMQ. That is the definition of patience. Wow. Check her quilt out in the Related Links below.
Related Links
Linking Parties: I will be linking this post to many great linking parties. Check out what others are up to! Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Linky Tuesday, To-Do Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Let's Bee Social, Needle & Thread Thursday, Free Motion Mavericks, Off the Wall Friday, Finished or Not Friday, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?,