Thursday, October 13, 2016

Baskets Galore

Several years ago, I decided to do a basket block exchange with my long-distance blog friend, Sandie, who blogs at Sandra Kaye Designs. You can read and see a few of the blocks HERE. Sandie was the first person to comment on my very first blog post HERE in September of 2011, a little over five years ago.  

Sandie and I quickly decided to do a basket block exchange.  For seven months, we made 10 blocks a month and swapped five of them with each other. At the time, Sandie lived in Arizona, so these little blocks travelled all the way from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to Arizona. The blocks are pretty tiny, at 4.5" unfinished, and I very quickly realized Sandie was an expert in making these little blocks. Each batch from Sandie was perfect.  I, on the other hand, struggled with seam allowance, cutting off tip after tip. But I persevered, believing that when the quilt was a finish, perhaps the missing tips wouldn't seem as noticeable? Fast forward to last week when I pulled out the 70 little blocks and decided to sew them together into a cuddle quilt just for me.  

It is a small quilt, about 42" x 52",  but I have already tested it out. I am always under a quilt watching TV, no matter what the season, either sitting in my quilting chair or lying on the couch, and this works really well!

Many of my blocks were made of civil war reproduction-style fabrics, while Sandie added most of those wonderful splashes of colour. I ended up using a soft brown for the alternate blocks to give the quilt a bit of a vintage look.

Baskets Galore was fairly quick to put together.  After all, the baskets were made years ago!

I started by joining the baskets with the brown squares, but ended up unsewing a few blocks as my rows, set on the diagonal, were actually made up of odd numbers.

Because I don't have a design wall, and the floor is just so far away, I literally grabbed and sewed, not worrying too much about the colour placement of each little basket.

Again, because of space issues, I had to lay out and sew half of the quilt together at a time! 

Once I had everything together, the quilting seemed to go even faster. I used straight-line machine quilting, marking some lines with my Hera marker, and then I just did it by eye. Not perfect, but either am I!

I love my little quilt, and thank you so much to Sandie for suggesting this so many years ago! 

Another thank you to my Nova Scotian blog friend Sheila who blogs at Sheila's Quilt World. 

This beautiful postcard arrived for my birthday last week. Her work is amazing and I am thrilled to have her fabric art depicting Peggy's Cove. Thank you, Sheila!

It's a great day for quilting!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A Quilt Too Big To Show

My latest finish is just too big to show it all.

It finishes at 94" x 94" but the weather has not cooperated to hang it on the clothesline for a picture and our little house is just too little to lay it out on the floor. With the change in seasons, the sun shines in the backyard very late in the afternoon and it becomes more difficult to take a picture showing the true colours. 

I did a bit of folding this morning and took a few pics on the front porch but the true colours are still a little off. The white background is actually a tan in real life! 

The quilt is called Star Crossed and you can read about the designer, the pattern and my selection of fabrics HERE. I made it using a structured scrappy lay-out, but it really isn't obvious until you see the full quilt. Once the quilting is done, I'll try for a full layout picture somehow. 

The blocks are fairly large at 16" . Each one was a treat to make as I couldn't wait to see what the finished block looked like.

I didn't have a design wall so putting the blocks in a formation required a lot of piles on my dining room table, some time coloring the layout in my planner with pencil crayons, and painter's tape to label my rows.

The quilt will soon head to Sydney for quilting by Ange Ross at Quilting on the Mira. I know she will do her quilting magic...she always does! 

Now that my big project is history, I have turned to a few smaller projects, like these Christmas stockings that were mailed out West to my son and his fiance. They received them yesterday so I can now show the pictures. I found a couple of free patterns online for inspiration and adapted as needed to make my versions. I sewed lots of 2.5" squares of Christmas fabric together, machine quilted the fabric in a crosshatch design, and then cut out the stockings. For the cuffs, I used a font I liked, enlarged it, printed it out with sheets of Alex Anderson's printable Select Appli-Stick paper, (which I received free for renewing my membership with The Quilt Show), reversed the names and finished adhering the names by using the blanket stitch on my machine. I'm glad both their names are short!

Before I go, I want to thank Prym Consumer USA. I have used Dritz Printed Treasures Inkjet Printable Fabric to make labels, etc., for years with excellent results. 

However, my last package did not work as expected. The paper would not peel off as it should have and I wasn't able to use the sheets.  I decided to write a little note off to the company explaining my dilemma and before I knew it, I received a lovely note and a replacement package of their product with "Improved, Easier to Peel Backing". I love a happy ending! 

It's a great day for quilting!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Quilting is Done

Recently, I put the pedal to the metal to finish quilting a few projects that I have blogged about HERE and HERE.  I was able to finally conquer the problem I was having with my Free Motion Quilting. 

I thought I had tried everything, but to no avail. The stitches on the back were just not being "locked" in properly, no matter how much or little I played with the tension, the needles, or the way I sat! For some reason, I had been ignoring my thread. It was good quality thread so I had presumed that was not the issue. But guess what? I found out, by trial and error and making dozens of quilt sandwiches, that my particular sewing machine does not like to do FMQ with thread on a cone! I changed to using smaller spools of thread and my issue has been  resolved. I still have lots of practicing to do, am far from perfect, but at least I know how to make my machine behave.

With the IWK charity quilt, I used inspiration from several quilters to plan my FMQ. For the centres, I found a Craftsy class tutorial called The Secrets of Free-Motion Quilting by Christina Cameli. I purchased it when it was on sale-Craftsy always has great sales! I watched several of the lessons and really liked what she calls Basic Echoing Designs. I played around a bit and used a tear drop shape which I echoed to fill in the centres. 

I am also an avid follower of Natalia Bonner of Piece 'n Quilt. Her work is amazing! I purchased her first book awhile back, Beginner's Guide to Free Motion Quiltingand have used it as a resource ever since. I used her Ovals loop pattern in the borders of each block. As you can see, it's far from perfect, but I am happy with it!

I also finished quilting my little whales baby quilt. I wanted to keep the idea of waves for the quilting so used a serpentine stitch on the quilt.

It's a great day for quilting!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Couple of Quilts for the IWK

As a member of the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild (MMQG), I am so happy to be able to participate in the making of a couple of quilts for the annual charity quilt program. Every year the guild decides on a charitable cause to support and this year the guild chose the IWK, the children's hospital located in Halifax, NS.  We had the occasion to need the services of the IWK on one occasion many years ago as the children were growing up.  Although it is about a 3-hour drive, we always knew we were in the best of care when we got there. It is nice to be able to give back in a small way by making a couple of quilts.

The guild chose a square in a square pattern to make. Many members are making twin sized quilts, but as "The Cuddle Quilter", I wanted to keep the quilt cuddle size. Besides, I can't handle much larger in my domestic sewing machine and this way I was able to bring the quilt from start to finish all in my own sewing room. 

I finished one of the quilts yesterday. I kept this one fairly bright, using a variety of bold colours and prints.

The quilt finishes at 43" x 60" with 8.5" finished blocks. This one I quilted using a stitch in the ditch and a grid pattern. 

The second IWK quilt was started using the leftover blocks from the first quilt. I had made a variety of blocks and decided to keep all the brights for the first quilt and use more of the whites for the second quilt. This one is pinned and ready!

I plan to do FMQ on this second quilt if this heat wave ends soon. It is just too hot and humid today for me to sit with a quilt in my lap so I may have to wait a bit while the air conditioner does its work.

It's always a great day for quilting, 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Having Quilty Fun

I've been retired for several years now, but each day still feels like a holiday.  Playing in my sewing room for a bit every day is my norm, with wonderful visits with family interspersed between appointments and working at the Artisans Collective Gift Shop. If you follow my blog, you may remember the Collective is a small group of friends who quilt and craft all winter and open a seasonal gift shop from June through October in the Port Hastings Museum Nova Scotia. 

I continually jump from project to project, depending on my mood and inspiration and the enjoyment never seems to fail. I may finish a UFO, or start a new project...every day is a mystery.  Recently I finished my Super Nova Scotia quilt, a cuddle quilt I started a year ago following a free quiltalong series that had been hosted by designer Lee Heinrich in 2011. She created the Supernova block and blogs at Freshly Pieced HERE. She has since changed her blog host and I wasn't able to find the directions with the pictures to link for you. If you are interested in the pattern, you may have to do some more searching of her blog or contact her directly. 

The quilt is primarily made from Kaffe Fasset fabrics that I had been saving for awhile.

I used an edge to edge loop de loop quilting pattern, bound it with a scrappy binding, and the 60" x 60" quilt is now a finish. You can read more about this quilt HERE.

Rolling this quilt top made it even more appealing to me. Doesn't take much space this way!

After playing with such bright colours, I decided to keep on the same wavelength and start another bright baby quilt. Remember my first baby whale quilt?  You can read about this pattern HERE. I knew I'd make another one of these. It's just so much fun to see each whale go from pieces of fabric to these little guys.  In a day, I can take a quilt from cutting fabrics to sandwiching it, so this one is now ready to quilt. I plan to stitch some wavy quilting from side to side like I did on the other. 

Today's goal is to finish quilting Hugs 2, my second flannel HST quilt made from leftover HSTs and a few stash flannels. I have it draped over my ironing board waiting for me.

Yesterday I quilted the grid pattern and today I will do the quilting on the diagonal. The colours are not as bright as the first two quilts, but those fabrics sure are cozy!

It's a great day for quilting!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Busy Time at the Quilt Show

The Celebrating Quilting at the Causeway Quilt Show and Sale is now a not too distant memory. We closed the doors of the show at the end of the day on Tuesday after six full days of celebrating quilting. Hundreds of folks entered the church to look at the quilts, buy some quilts and smaller crafted items, be inspired, and enjoy Cape Breton oatcakes, biscuits and tea. 

We also had two quilts on frames so visitors were able to put their own stitches in the quilts. I couldn't resist taking a pic of hubby. He had brought me a coffee that day so I asked him to pose with the quilters for a pic. No, he is not a quilter, but he sure supports the quilting industry. Four ladies in the picture taught school with him so he stayed for tea, almost like hanging out with the staff at recess!

It was a very successful show for visitors, the quilters, crafters, and St. David's United Church. The 130-year old church will receive all the donations from the door and a percentage of each sale. 

I took dozens of pictures almost every day and posted them on Facebook. If you'd like to see the quilts, please visit the facebook pages HERE to see more. Our quilt show and sale always takes place somewhere around the 13th of August, the anniversary of the Canso Causeway. Maybe we'll see you next year?

I am still rewinding after the show so haven't done much in my sewing room. In fact, I took a quick trip to see my sewing machine doctor who helped me with the tension on my machine for FMQ. I have a couple of quilt tops waiting to be quilted so  I must get started. The first is my Super Nova Scotia quilt that you can read about HERE. All pinned and ready to go!

Although my sewing time has been limited lately, I did manage to finish another flannel quilt I will call  Hugs 2. I had so many HSTs already from Hugs (you can read about Hugs  HERE) so it was a no-brainer to make another! I have it laying out on the dining room table but I ran out of pins for basting. May have to look around to find more pins before supper so we can eat.

Thanks so much for visiting me today! It's a great day for quilting!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Nova Scotia Quilt Bloggers Quartet on the Road

Yesterday was the day of our annual trek to Pictou, Nova Scotia, for the Northumberland Quilt Show. Our quartet includes Linda who blogs at Scrapmaster, Karen who blogs at KaHolly, Sheila who blogs at Sheila's Quilt World and myself. Unfortunately, Sheila wasn't able to join us...we missed her terribly! 

The four of us have decided to do a round robin quilt exchange, which will take about a year to complete. We each made a centre block, 12" finished, so a couple of blocks were exchanged yesterday. Here is the block I made and passed along to Karen for the next round.

You may recognize the embroidery centre of the block as I used the same Gail Pan pattern for the tote bag I made for Sheila and gifted to her last year. The quilt block pattern is called Souvenir which I found HERE. I thought it was such an appropriate name for my block, as the quilt, when finished, will be my souvenir of the Nova Scotia Quilt Bloggers Quartet!  

Linda's stunning block came to me for the first round. Can't wait to play with this one, Linda!

The Northumberland Quilt show was wonderful. An amazing number of quilts showing a range of style and several vendors which made it very easy to add to my stash! I did take a few pics of some of my favorites so hope you enjoy.

Before we left, Linda and I posed with a couple of our latest quilts in front of the Pictou waterfront. Can you tell it was a little windy? Maybe even windier than you've seen in some of my clothesline pictures?

Today I am in my sewing room struggling with my sewing machine tension. The top stitching is wonderful but the stitches on the back are not the way they should be.  I have a few quilts to finish up before our quilt show on Thursday and my FMQ is just not working for me. Perhaps it has been too long between projects or perhaps it is an issue with my machine?  I vented to my resident FMQ expert, Linda, who gave me a few excellent suggestions so will try them out and hope for success. If not, I can certainly get them done with straight line stitching so will just have to weigh the pros and cons and see what happens. 

I did manage to finish my little hexie table runner!

Maybe I'll see some of you at our show? Celebrating Quilting at the Causeway Quilt Show and Sale in St. David's United Church, Port Hastings, Nova Scotia at the entrance to Cape Breton. Hours 10-4 each day. 

It's a great day for quilting!