Sunday, 29 July 2012

Quilter's Block?

No pun intended...

I believe I have a severe case of quilter's block, I just can't seem to find inspiration to quilt the butterfly garden or what to quilt it with. 
I've tried applique idea's and it all just look terribly busy, I've thought about just doing something basic and it feels too bland, I've thought of doing a specific type of quilting using stencils to create a scene and that seems like a good idea but I am still stuck! 

This poor quilt has been hanging downstairs for two weeks and I've stared at it and stared at it. Look to other's and pictures for inspiration and I've just drawn a total blank. Yep I am having a good old whining pity party to top it off lol. I want this done! I also feel like I am running out of time because I don't want to leave it too much longer.

Good news is I am nearly finished quilting my friend's quilt for her and it's looking great! I did indeed spend time pulling up stitches to remove the large puckers on the back, I ended up not spending just a couple of hours pulling it all but 7 or 8 hours since I was unhappy with the way the threads had looked once the puckers were cleared, I knew I could do a better job and thought why not just do it again? I had already pulled most of it, might as well do it all over correctly this time. 
I am very glad I did take the time to clean it up and get rid of what I considered a mess the bottom and top look so much better now, smoother and cleaner, I think Grandma will be happy with it.
I also spoke with my friend and asked if she would mind if I pulled her hand quilting she had done in the center embroidery panels, I was not feeling that the stitches she had done were going to be strong enough to hold once I had quilted the rest of the quilt, they were indeed basting stitches, done cross stitch style with a single thread. I knew once I had the outer edges quilted tightly the center was going to end up with a lot more weight than it would if it was quilted tightly too. I didn't want the center to fluff and puff or flop and flip at all, it would ruin all the work she had put in and I had put in, and would Grandma like it? Probably not. I am glad she agreed to allow me to quilt the inside by machine, the picture doesn't show the stamped pattern very well but it worked wonderfully under the machine, super easy to quilt just time consuming since I didn't want to make any really noticeable errors.  

The center area has me a bit stumped, the stamped pattern goes around these areas which has left a bit of a droopy area in the underneath, I've considered ditch stitching and discarded that idea since I figured if I missed and made a boo boo it was going to be a hell of a mess trying to fix it. I think my only option other than suggesting my friend quilt it by hand (My hand sewing blows the big chicken... it's horrible) is to do a yarn tie which actually might be just the thing. It looks right when I visualize it in my minds eye, in a light yellow or light golden yellow yarn, now I just have to learn how to tie :D!

Soon I will have pictures of my latest pattern in the works, I've got half of it put together at the guild and I am very excited to see it come out just as I had pictured. Only two things have slowed my progress, one is constantly forgetting my pattern book! The second is I had to learn how to make a diamond patch square, thank the Lord for youtube! I ran across a couple of wonderful video bloggers Crafty Gemini and the Missouri Quilt Co. Both of them had the exact instructions I needed to make the block. 
This is the video I used to get an idea of the block I was making. The center square is all I used and built it up into a 10" square (Unfinished is 10 1/2", I usually speak in the finished square sizing whether it's finished or not ;D)

My favorite video so far is actually done by Jenny Doan of the Missouri Quilt Co.:
I just love the quilt in the background, in the video she has a red, white and blue one that works even better than the lighter green, pink and blue in the background.  I will be making this quilt for my eldest daughter, I have just the perfect fabrics for it too. I can't wait!

Passion, in Creation!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

 The blind leading the blind!

No I did not do this handy work, even though I wish I did. A friend of mine has made this for her Grandmother and has requested my help in getting it put together into a quilt. 
What an adventure that has been! A novice quilter helping a non-quilter figure out how to quilt.. definitely  'the blind leading the blind'!
I did have the presence of mind to do a simple nine patch pattern for my friend, I showed her how to square off and cut her fabric which ended up a little wonky (just a little :D), then I showed her how to lay out her pattern and do a quarter inch seam and how to press the seams open, you know all the basics.  While we were doing all this I realized that the measurements I had made are going to be totally off since her blocks weren't square and we had to square them up, losing length and width, turned out we were quite a few inches off on either side length wise, width wise everything was fine as far as matching up seams and so forth, I still have no clue how I managed that! 
Anyway we ended up adding a 3 block strip to each side which made things a lot more even and doable but... it turned out I ended up redoing all the seams and that strip of green you see? It's polyester. /headdesk.  
I tried to convince my friend that we could hit my stash, I had some wonderful dark jade green cotton flat sheets that I picked up at a yard sale that would work wonderfully with the colours in the patches but she was adamant that this is the colour of green that she wanted and why undo all of that work we had already done?  
Yes I ran through all the problems with the polyester type fabric and it didn't seem to phase her so, doing my best I helped her fix it.  Once we had all the top pieces together It did look lovely, I haven't had a chance to take a full top picture since it's currently sitting under my machine being quilted. 
Of course I am quilting the polyester first as it will be and is the hardest part to quilt, poly and mostly polyester blends are not fun to try and quilt on a machine as I am discovering, I had to play with tension and my speed and motions as I went since I didn't have any fabric remnants that were even remotely similar to practice on. 
The silver lining in this dark cloud is the backing.  A wonderfully crisp and heavy cotton that is a dream to use while FMQ'ing, I have got to find some of it to use for quilting, turns out it was part of a bed sheet or tablecloth ( I can't remember which). I guess it's time to hit more yard sales!

You can see the pattern I am using to quilt with, basically a loopy line mixed with flower buds and leaves similar to what I was quilting Boxcar Suzie with but more fluid and graceful. It really helped to have all that practice under my belt with the first FMQ quilt, I am so much more confident going into this one. 
Of course not all is going as smoothly as I had planned, Murphy's Law dictated that as soon as I got the hang of quilting with the polyester and had done the majority of the sashing, I was going to discover a 6 inch long pucker in the back that I missed even though I check regularly, that I could leave alone and just quilt over the part that is still noticeable and yet... there is that voice inside my head going, yes it's going to take a whole lot of time and yes you are going to have to spend at least and hour more likely 2 ripping out the stitches but are you really happy sending that off when you know it's not right?  
I quickly discovered why I got the pucker, and I laughed so hard my husband came down to see what was wrong, turned out my non quilting friend didn't pin through all 3 layers! I of course double checked my pinning, didn't think to check hers and blithely started FMQ'ing without a clue. 
It is for a Grandma so all this strife will be worth the effort in the end and I am definitely learning some quick lessons!

Passion, in Creation!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A early finish... or was it a late one?!

Hurrah! Hurrah! It is finally done! I can now put Boxcar Suzie on the charity shelf and move on to other projects, frankly I am overjoyed to see the last of her. I've been looking at it too long and thinking about it too much. 
My feelings about this quilt have definitely done a 180 degree flip and I think that's interesting. I don't know if anyone else has had that happen with a particularly long project it seems there is this point where your excitement falls flat and you are just ready to be finished.

Contrary to what I may have implied I am still very proud of this quilt, it is not a bad job for only a second piece and it definitely was a labor of love. I did have one of my guild ladies ask me why I didn't set it aside to work on something else for awhile until I regained my excitement about it, at the moment of that question I was unable to give an answer. After thinking about it for a few hours I realized that it is simply in my nature to not leave any project unfinished and I also have the feeling that if I had left it, it may not have gotten finished because I would have probably ended up resenting the quilt for not finishing itself and making me feel guilty lol. 
I also am getting the feeling I won't have very many UFO's in my stash, no matter how terrible I think they might be, I really didn't think I could be that meticulous and methodical. Seriously, I ended up staying up until 3am to finish the binding because I had started it earlier that evening. Perhaps it's just obsessive insanity that overcomes quilters? 

I am particularly proud of how the back worked out with the graded thread colors, I was very worried that it would look horrible once I added the dark pink thread. The picture shows just how nicely it graded, I hope anyone else reading this gets inspired to try grading thread colors it really can look lovely.

Front View
The sea oat flower pattern at the center really does pull it all together and helps make the box pattern on the back really stand out.
Back view
The binding ended up being from a completely different fabric altogether, talk about frustration when you sew together all your remnants after measuring and being certain that you had the right amount and coming up this ----> ............ <------ short. /headdesk. 
Then when I went to the guild to use the table so I could square it up and looking for something that might work instead, I nearly ran across another disaster!  I had a couple of ladies help me pick out something that would work relatively well and they even measured the quilt, worked out the math for me told me exactly how many strips I would need, basically everything but the cutting hah! 
I did however listen to that little rebellious voice inside my head telling me that I need to cut an extra strip, even though I was assured that I didn't need to multiple times, had I not I would have been 80 inches short, as it was I ended up trimming off only 16 inches. I have learned to listen to that little voice ;)

All is well that ends well so they say!

Passion in Creation!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Another day.... Another excuse to quilt!

I have just discovered there is a good side to heat waves, it gave me the perfect excuse to totally ignore my housework and errands and hibernate in the basement to work on Boxcar Suzie for the last 2 days....
She is almost done! Hurrah! My first foray into free motion quilting has been a real eye opening experience, for the first few weeks I kept making excuses so I could go quilt and feeling guilt because I was doing something I loved. Yeah.. guilt.  
When I finally realized I was sneaking around the house making excuses like an addict would and acting like I was going to be in some serious trouble if I got caught, I kind of cottoned on to the idea that there is a problem with this situation. I spent 2 full days trying to figure out the cause of the guilt, it wasn't like I was ignoring my family, chores or other appointments in favor of sitting down at my sewing machine, (admittedly there was the occasional wistful thought in that direction), nor was I feeding my love of fabric and thread on the sly either.  So I just did not get why I was feeling like that and then it hit me, I have not given myself permission too! Sounds stupid doesn't it?  It's true though, I've been a Mom and a Wife for a decade and I haven't had much time to be just me, it wasn't until 6 months ago I had the epiphany that I could be myself again and everyone who didn't like it could sod right off. 

It's hard to make that transition from dedicated Mom and Wife who is the epitome of Responsibility, Action, Care and Organization to just being Me (or You..). You really do have to tell yourself that the house is not going to collapse, the kids are not going to end up in hospital and your Husband can find his own socks for once as well as make supper (and no he won't blow up the kitchen, I promise.) and you can be you for you for a couple of hours. 
Then you have to learn how to allow yourself to have fun and be fun again, this of course will age your children by 10 years when they finally discover you are a person as well as Mom,  and you are FUN! 
Today I did just that, it was over 30 degrees celcius, the kitchen faces south so it gets ALL the sun during the day and I was not going to wear myself out in the heat just to wash dishes and scrub floors so I took a day off! The kids are out at camp, dear husband was working and I had the whole house to myself for once and I did nothing! Well not nothing, I did say I would volunteer at the food bank, so I was there most of the morning... anyway that's beside the point. Once I got home, I ate a lunch that I like, read a book, sat outside in the shade and then spent the remainder of the afternoon doing what I love to do and that was quilt. I was cool, comfortable and relaxed... definitely a banner day.

Passion in Creation.

Monday, 2 July 2012


Morning Coffee & Grid Paper...

There is nothing like sitting down bright and early in the morning  with a fresh cup of java, sun is shining, air is crisp and it's just you and an idea. Strolling around in the backyard first thing, breathing in the morning air really invigorates and inspires me, hearing the birds sing as the sun breaks the horizon is like poetry (good poetry :D). 
I don't think I will ever go back to living in major cities, there is just too much to be missed in life when you are caught up in commuting and just accomplishing what everyone else is accomplishing, keeping up with the Jones' as it were, you know? I don't miss it at all, except I do miss being able to jaunt down to the fabric store, we are seriously in need of one! 
Wing pattern and FMQ'ing idea

This is what I was inspired the other morning to doodle up, I had a little fun with the picture and put in as my profile pic, yes I am rather camera shy, I'd rather take pics than be in them ;) Anyway, I am creating a very special project for a young lady whom I've never met, she's 11 I believe. This young lady heard about my daughter's struggle with leukemia at an early age and that we were going to do fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society in the Relay for Life at the beginning of June. So she fund raised by herself, in her hometown (raising over $100 alone in two weeks) and then this amazing girl roped her mum into helping her create 50 hand crafted orange butterflies after researching what color is representative of which type of cancer. Needless to say I was totally blown away.

I racked my brain for a good way to say thank you, I knew I was going to do a quilt almost immediately but the question was, what type? The design had to be girly yet not childish or too adult and I wanted it to be unique and specific to her tastes as well as incorporating something personal from each member of my family.  In my previous posting I mentioned not liking to do square quilts, so inspiration came, heavily laced with irony, in the form of a square quilt design in a quilting magazine, which in another fit of irony I usually don't look at. 
I adapted the original version to fit my personal style, keeping the elements that had inspired my design. I wish I could show you the original quilt but I believe I already recycled or donated the magazine it was in. It was a very loud looking circus themed quilt with orange and green as the major colors, if you've read the same magazine you'll know exactly what I am talking about, very hard to miss. 
For the personal touch inspiration came from the butterflies she made, I found a lovely piece of clip art, (thank you to whomever created that and then made it free for personal use),  sized it and cut out the wing shape on thin white muslin. I spent 2 days figuring out that part and searching for applique pieces that didn't look terrible or cartoony, thankfully I ran across a message board that suggested using clip art. Then I spent another full day running all over town trying to find fabric paint that came in muted colors. I was completely out of luck, no one carried more than the basic colors, I was sure I would end up taking an expensive trip to the city trying to find some without any guarantee that there would be any in stock or the type I wanted. I felt a bit frustrated at this point and just about ready to toss in the towel on the whole butterfly idea, thank goodness I remembered something about using acrylic paint as a fabric paint. A little bit of research on the net told me what I need to know to change acrylics to fabric paint (textile medium) YAY! Now we are up and running!
Here's the end result:



Each one of us painted one and I used heat and bond to apply them to the quilt top, and satin stitched the edges with a special stitch on my Brother machine. A really nice bonus about painted fabric is it doesn't fray during washing or stitching, you do have to let any fabric painting you do cure and dry for atleast 24 hours before you heat set it. Using the iron on a medium set, dry press really well to set the paint and then wash the heck out it, in all sorts of water temperatures (put in a white scrap of the same muslin with the wash to test for bleeding) then dry them very well in the dryer. If they stand up to that sort of abuse then they are ready to be placed on your quilt.
So that's where I am at with this project, I've been trying to figure out what and how I am going to quilt around the butterflies, hence the drawing I did with the wind swirls. I am stuck with it at this point and the poor quilt is hanging on the clothes line in my sewing room, I still feel there is something missing so I won't put a thread in it until I am happy. Hopefully that will be soon.. I think it's time for more coffee, sunshine and graph paper.
The almost finished quilt top.

Passion in Creation.