Sunday, 28 October 2012

Creative Conundrums

Another Sunday,

Another creative moment.

This week I managed to get another large block completed (4x 20" squares), sewed them all together and then stalled.  I am not sure what direction I want to go from here, do I keep going with the larger blocks or do I sash and add a few more blocks in a pattern around the central square?
I think this is fantastic just like this and I am afraid if I add more strip blocks it will become too much because of all the varying colors, I am thinking that I should break it up with some solid fabric but that means more math (boooo!).
My other concern is because these are pieced on a foundation they are going to be very thick once I sandwich the whole thing plus there are alot of seams which pretty much leaves FMQ'ing out (boooooo!) and I will have to rely on my walking foot (YAY!) to quilt these squares. Do I want to just quilt on my walking foot?  Not particularly, I would love to work in some FMQ'ing. (Math... boooooo)

While I am allowing my brain to munch on this conundrum of what to do with the big square, I've done a couple of things, made a new pressing board which can be found in my last blog post: Re-Purposing Rocks! (Have a read, I need input! ;D)
 One thing I immediately noticed when I first started using the pressing board was the fact that I had to constantly keep twisting and reaching to get to things like pins and scissors and I did not want my big hexie caddie to constantly migrate over to the pressing table. I didn't realize how big that thing is until I started using it on a smaller surface, the base measurement is 8" wide. Ummm... I think I made a mistake when printing out the pattern lol!

To prevent my caddie from traveling I decided to create a hanging caddie with just some basic slots for pens and scissors and a pin cushion.

I worked out the pattern based on strength since I like to use beads instead of stuffing or batting for filler.
I used some found scraps that I had for another project that I just never seem to get around too, I didn't have interfacing so I used some stabilizer and thin batt in the back for a bit of a stiffer body, you could definitely use something much more firm if you wanted a stiff back, I just prefer having a softer back. I feel there is less for the fabric to rub on so it won't wear out as quickly.

The crystal flower clip is a gem of a find, it's a curtain ring clip so it has a nice circular shape plus the teeth for traction, it cost me a whole buck at Dollarama. This thing works so much better than I had thought it would, when I hang the caddy on it the weight causes the clip to actually grip better. (YAY!)

That's all I've accomplished this weekend, I was hoping to have gotten further but gosh darn it life just keeps getting in the way of my sewing time!
Till next time :)

Passionately create something... (yes.. right now :P)

Note: Quick edit- I had written at the beginning 4 x 10" block sewn together, that is incorrect, it's 4 x 20" blocks sewn together. (4 x10" block = 1-20" block; 4 x 20" block = 1-40")

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Re-purposing rocks!

 Would you believe..?

This used to be a swiveling TV stand from the 1990's? 

I had to have a laugh when I read Leah Day's post today, she mentions Sharon Schamber's pressing board tutorial which is where I got the idea to make this TV stand into a pressing board 2 days ago. The best part? It cost me a whole $3 to make it (I had to buy staples for the staple gun ;D).  The stand is well used, dinged up, chipped but overall it's extremely sturdy. It survived a gaggle of teenagers, a handful of babies and toddlers, 2 husbands (mine and another's lol), 4 dogs and a baker's dozen of cats. I figured it could handle the heat (pun intended).
In order to prevent the top from swiveling I used LePage No More Nails, I did not want a bunch of screws or nail ends sticking out, nor did I want to contort myself to try and get them into the small shelf area, I could just envision all the different problems trying to use a hammer or drill. Plus I thought the less holes it has in it the sturdier it would remain.
No More Nails ranks right up there with duct tape for the different uses it has, all I did was smear a bunch on the top of the lower box and the bottom of the swivel shelf, aligned the edges evenly and sat on the top with a good book for 15-20 minutes to help it set. Since I am not a dainty daisy, this worked really well :D  
The next step is to allow it to cure overnight before strong arming it into weird positions so you can use the staple gun in awkward spots, worked like a charm, there is no way these 2 pieces are coming apart without the use of a sledge hammer!

I also really appreciated the width and depth of the shelves themselves, it has an easy access area to keep my regularly used notions (thread, bobbins, extra pins, etc) I am thinking of creating a caddy for my scissors and other items that tend to wander off on excursions without consulting me first, it would be cool to have it hanging off the edge with a pin cushion on it as well to prevent my hexie caddy from migrating from my table to the pressing board.

Never mind the broom and laundry :D
Another really cool feature is the open back, I can also store stuff back here and not have to dig for it like I would in a deep enclosed shelf. I looked at the IKEA open shelf Leah Day mentioned, I think that will be a definite future purchase, I have a spot in my basement that would be perfect for 2 of those side by side, I really do love open shelves. (My husband is going to bang his head on a brick wall if I keep expanding into his "tool territory")

I used the beautiful blue stripe fabric not only because it was just the perfect width (literally, I didn't do any cutting at all) but because it has some flaws in it, they aren't apparent in the photos - actually they are barely apparent in person. Just small little holes, kind of looks like someone was poking a fork into the fabric at random, made the piece unusable for any type of quilt (in my mind at any rate). I hung on to it anyway since it was lovely, I knew I'd find a use for it.

I was going to wait to post the finish of "Lessons Learned" on Sunday but meh! I am here tonight, I'll get it out of the way.

I used a fairy fabric to bind it, the blue is beautiful and the pattern has all of the colors found in the charm squares in it. Had I used it to sash with, it would have been way too busy but as a binding it adds just a hit of extra color, perks up the yellows and peaches for a cheerful finish.
Cross Hatch Corner.
When I dropped this off at the guild on Tuesday I looked at it and my first quilt, Lord the difference! I almost ashamed at the finish on Boxcar Suzie in comparison to this one, it's silly to think like that, I realize but it makes it no less true.

I did manage to remember to post a pic of the cross-hatch done with the walking foot as well as a close up of my machine binding. 
I think I am going to stick with the larger 3"+ bindings on large projects, they are so much easier to work with and easier to get a well mitred corner on or hide threads in. 

On Sunday I mentioned in comments that I am having difficulty getting my quilts squared up well, so I was wondering what sort of hints or tips anybody has to share? Other than paying attention to what I am doing :D

Second Question: I am always looking for great tunes to quilt too, I listen to everything from Gospel to Heavy Metal (an oxy moron I know ;D) so I got curious as to what everyone else listens to? Favorites?

This is Of Monsters and Men, Check them out:

Sunday, 21 October 2012


Another Major Milestone.

Decadent... very decadent.
I just realized through another conversation I was having earlier this week that our family reached the major milestone of our daughter being classed as a cancer survivor for one year on October 16th! 
It was so hard to believe its been that long already, we got used to taking things one day at a time and so we tend to miss big fragments of time over the long run. 
I figured that was an important celebration so I had to make a cake... a really GOOD cake, the kind that you don't make except once every 5 years because you know that just looking at the cake will cause your butt to expand by 2 inches on either side! My particular cake is 4 layers (vanilla and chocolate), with cherry creme filling between the layers, iced with whipped cream and more cherry creme (that's the pink stuff), cherry filling and topped with 90% Dark Cacao Chocolate. (Oh yeah I laid out a pretty penny for that bar lol)
We had an excellent meal and just simply celebrated our family by being together and eating cake, sometimes simplicity is the best, no stress or worries. Just simply being.

And in other news..... I am almost done! Quilting is complete, and binding is almost finished. I am definitely going with 'Lesson Learned' for the name of this quilt, so many obstacles to overcome and figure out with this one. 
I was having a heck of a time with the binding on Tuesday, of course I had to tempt Murphy by mentioning that I would have this done and bound on Tuesday to a few people.... and it's still not completely bound. I was taught to cut my binding strips at 2 1/4" or 2 1/2" inches, I had always thought that was very small and tight but I really did not have a problem with that size up until this quilt. I am very thankful my eyes are getting trained to judge lengths and widths because I only sewed on a small part and tested to see how it would pull over and it didn't. Phew! I saved myself a bunch of work by doing that. So I decided to try something I had already been mulling over in my mind and did a 3-1/2" strip.  Why in the heck had I not tried this sooner!!!!!?!
I really felt like beating my head against a wall, it was so much simpler and it looked fantastic. As an aside, a larger binding is much easier to do on a machine since you aren't fighting with keeping it held down you can line up the edge against the seam line properly.
Daisy Chain

I wanted to quilt this loosely because I thought to tight of a quilting with the bright colour of the quilt, might wreck the overall design and I am very pleased with how it turned out. I can't wait to wash it to see how it fluffs up!
The design I did, I call daisy chain, I kind of accidentally fell on the inspiration while quilting building blocks. Leah Day's Poseidon's Eye is the foundation for the flower, long curving line flowing down into a circle, then go back around the circle with the petal bumps, doing the outside of the petal to the inside, once done curve off into a leaf or loop and go to your next flower.  You do have to be aware of direction while doing this pattern, basically when you start the flower you have to be facing the opposite direction of the next point you want to go since you will end your flower on the opposite side. If you get stuck a loop will help you reverse or change direction. I love the fact that I caught the color of the thread just right with the light to get it to show up so well! LOL.

I did flowing lines in the charm square blocks, even though I wasn't fussed with it on the other quilt, it seemed to fit perfectly here as a transition from sash to block to sash.

Walking foot you say?! Yes I have one  and I used it! There was only about 1 1/2" for the edge left (yes I did try all sort of fabric for an outer edge and I was not happy with anything :D), so I wanted it lay a bit flatter for the binding but I didn't want to risk puckering or tucking that tends to happen when quilting the outer edge with the darning foot, so out came my walking foot. I love my walking foot... Again... WHY oh why didn't I try this sooner?! I did a double line that makes a nice little cross hatch in the corners... NO puckering... NO tucks YAY! ( I am feeling too lazy to go take a picture of the corners... perhaps next week lol)

Since I have another project almost complete, I had to start a new one. I've been following the Craftsy BOM class with Amy Gibson and I fell in love with the foundation style blocks. I am so glad I signed up, I've been trying to figure out a style of quilt for my Dad.  I am not sure if it's me that's really picky or him, I'll blame him since I would never do any such thing.....

Wonky Log.
The foundation
Before I thought of the foundation block I had played around with a wonky log cabin block, it's alright but not what I was shooting for and I certainly wasn't happy with the plaids this way. 

Foundation piecing is super simple and very traditional which is right up my alley, I love using what's on hand instead of buying new. There is just nothing like found treasures is there?  I used a 10 1/2" block because I wanted a very strong block, not in the pieced sense, in the sense of overall impression when looking at it. To my eyes the larger the block, the bolder the color or pattern the stronger the impression is.
So I played around with the blocks, determining what exactly I wanted to do with them, I tried cutting them up into quarters and putting them back together, the second attempt I cut incorrectly and ended up with a half block when put back together. Much too much fuss I think.

I went with just simple strips, technically you are supposed to leave the center empty, mark a space of an inch or more and then strip on either side of the center. I chose to use a center strip since I am using bold plaids and 'manly colors', white would simply look out of place and ruin the over all idea.
I quickly learned to offset the 2 strips on either side of the center strip to make sure the 1/4" seams are covered after that it's a breeze and it doesn't really matter if your strips are squared, the just have to have one edge that is semi straight so you can line it up for a seam. Lot's of pressing is my only complaint, mainly because I don't have enough room yet to set up my small table top ironing pad.
My current cutting area is a piece of sub flooring on top of 2 saw horses, I really need a 3rd one under there =).
I love how the squares came together, I have them pieced together now but you can get a general idea of what the large block looks like from the 2 separate photos. 
More on this next week! Merry Creation everyone since it's getting to be "that time of the year".

Passionately cutting things up....


Sunday, 14 October 2012

It's Just around the corner. (warning: picture heavy post)


My three little monkeys enjoy our first snowfall of the year
Yep, we've already had our first snowfall of the year, 3 inches worth. Of course I got caught with my proverbial snow pants down since I wasn't expecting snow for a couple of weeks yet even though my internal weather barometer was insisting with great enthusiasm that snow was going to be early this year. 
New boots, ski suits or snow pants, hats, mitts and my eldest decided to have a growth spurt this month so she needed a who new winter wardrobe. Yep you guessed it... I am officially broke for the rest of the month lol.
Admittedly while many people are complaining about the weather, I am the one standing outside secretly enjoying the serenity of the fresh white blanket covering everything, the crispness of the air and what I call the midnight moment. It's that moment where everything is silent, the air is crisp and cool, there is very little light and you can just breathe and be.  I love winter... most of the time.

The other benefit to cold and snowy days is the excuse to stay indoors with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and make sure my sewing machine is in good working order ;) So over the course of the last 3 days I have accomplished quite a bit. First up is the completion of "Building Blocks" :
Feathers and Spiky Fern
Spiral Square

Fiery Comet

Swirling Water

River Path

Electric Storm

Poseidon's Eye

Variation of Sea oats

Zippling (Or something..)

Flowing Leaves

Converging Currents

Kelp and Puddles

Flowing Lines 

Converging Currents is me playing with River Path a little, if you've ever been to Hell's Gate in the Fraser Canyon you'll know exactly where I got this inspiration to try this

Kelp is located on the bottom left part of the picture and puddles is right next to it, I am not quite sure what I was going for when I started puddles it was one of those very forgiving mistakes we occasionally make, so whatever pattern it was originally, became puddles.

Flowing lines didn't show well on the front of the quilt as well as it did on the back and even then it's difficult to see. I am not sure I really like this pattern that much but I can certainly see it's uses, it's not something that I would want to quilt on a large scale, I find it a bit boring to quilt. (Is that bad? :D)

I chose a red/green plaid flannel binding completely for contrast purposes. I also wanted to see how flannel would work as a binding, to be honest I was quite surprised at how easy it was to work with. 
I had expected to have slipping and stretching problems and perhaps some bunching or waving. Turns out if you give flannel a really good steamy press it likes to retain it's shape. Out of sheer stupid luck I had cut the flannel correctly, all the stretch was from selvage to selvage. I had cut perpendicular to the selvage without even really thinking about it so my strips didn't stretch lengthwise. It was a good thing the had a little stretch width wise since I had done a 2 1/2 inch strip binding and it was just a teeny bit to short when folded over. YAY! Another project out of the way!

Next is the yellow quilt which I am thinking of naming 'Nemesis' simply because I've had so much difficulty with it or perhaps 'Lesson Learned' might be better since I am learning so much about piecing with this particular top. 
Last week I had gotten all the stitches picked and the backing taken off, but I really didn't have another bunch of fabric I could use for backing until I made a wonderful discovered hidden in the dark corner of my basement stash. I had so much fun piecing up a back for the first time, it is definitely something I plan to do more often.
I found this buttery yellow piece with little orange & white flowers, unfortunately the picture just simply does not do it justice. 
I think it may be a cotton voile, it is so thin and it was a bit difficult to square up. I didn't dare try for perfectly square just close enough.

No matter what other fabric I auditioned to match the yellow flower fabric I kept coming back to the peach stripe. This is a type of fabric I would make pillows out of (The bedroom under the pillow case type :D), I really didn't see any other use for it. This is another case of happy accident, I just happened to pile them together and VOILA!

This is the all over pieced back, when I opened up the yellow fabric I discovered there were a couple of stains on it so I had to cut around the stains, the biggest block I could get was 24x24.
Then I determined how much of the peach stripe I had and it wasn't quite enough to do much with so I did some math to determine what size of back I would need and cut strips to make up the difference.

Another lesson learned: Double check the measurements of your quilt top before you piece the back.. I was sure the quilt top was 50" so I made the back 54". It turns out the top is 52" and I had forgotten to adjust the strips to make up for the difference I had taken off the blocks (they ended up 22.5"), so my backing works out to 53". Ouch. Not a lot of room to play with there.  However the quilt fit rather nicely onto my kitchen table for basting purposes lol. 
Before you ask I am not worried about scratching the top of the table, it is so scratched, scraped and banged up a few scrapes from pins are not going to be noticed what so ever.  Our kitchen table is well loved :)

I ended up with some small patches of slight damage from having to pick the threads out.  The white fabric took the worst beating, I am hoping it just adds to the shabby chic charm ;D

I have nearly got this completely quilted, another 2 or 3 hours should see it done. 
Since that is next week's blog, pictures then!

Creatively Passionate? 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Nothing but Pickin'

Or as we say 'round here Pickin' and Grinnin'....

This is no more!
Pickin' and Grinnin' actually refers to guitar playing (coined by one of our more... eccentric, guitar playing friends) but I think it's a suitable phrase for what I was doing the last few days.. picking stitches and I finally pulled the last thread a half hour ago and I was so relieved I did nothing but grin!

I won't have any fresh pictures for a couple of days since I've been quilting like I was possessed this week. I wanted to get all these stitches ripped so I can work on a backing idea I had. Nothing like found fabric to get the ole' gears churning into some sort of creative frenzy!
 I have all my Christmas project fabrics in and they are ready to be cut up, I can't wait to show off one of my particular favorite finds for less than $5, SHHH! It's a secret! (Pictures later!) 
I also will be working on a quilt for my Dad, I get the feeling that he really, really likes my work and wants a quilt... when he goes out of his way to mention something, you really have to pay attention because if it's for him one isn't always sure exactly what he wants... it's like (and I quote..) "Are you making one for me?! You know I am going to kick the bucket soon". He's 62 and absolutely adamant that he will kick the bucket before he sees a quilt from me lol.  I love my Dad, he's such a character! 
No I haven't forgot my Mom, I doubt I will get her's done for Christmas since I need to find about 2-3 yards of co-ordinating fabric for the bits that I have and I doubt I will have the time unless I managed to get to a fabric store while we are in Edmonton in November. I am making Giant Granny Panties for my Mom ( pardon me while I die laughing ).  I love the look of the pattern and the different colors you can use, not to mention the name sends me into gales of laughter every time I read it. It's a long story but giant granny panties are a long standing joke between me and my Mom ever since I produced my first grandchild for her :D I do think that her quilt will have to be a Mother's Day tribute.

The building blocks quilt is nearly finished and has been coined "Big BlueRed" by the recipient (My 6 year old) who is absolutely demanding it be placed on her bed before her big sister is allowed to put hers on her bed again.  Hah!
I don't think I could have had a better compliment than that, she wasn't really interested in the quilt until I started quilting different designs into it. So far I have covered: Paisley
Heart Paisley
Railroad Tracks
Daisy Chain
Poseidon's Eye
River Path
Electric Storm
Spiky Fern
Sea Oats (My own random version)
Cucumber Vine
Flowing Lines
Random boxy pattern, just for fun
I am still going to do a couple more as well, I've set up each of these in a 4 square section and I've surrounded each section with the wave stipple, makes for a very fun and interesting quilt. She's already gotten the whole city/roadway layout and has made plans to build a city on her quilt and now she has all sorts of different areas she can determine as parks or schools or whatever else she would like to do. Hopefully I will have the quilting done soon and bound before Tuesday so I can start my new projects at the guild and make use of the large tables!

Speaking of tables, Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my fellow Canadian bloggers, Lord knows we've been blessed and I have a huge list of things to be thankful for ( I will spare my readers lol) and I hope all of you feel the same, God Bless.

(Funny Story... I forgot to buy a turkey and a ham.. so we will be dining on a chicken! LOL)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Ode to my stitch ripper

Someday's it just doesn't pay to.....

Lose your stitch ripper!

So here is the completed quilt top, nicely pinned to the backing, or so I thought.  Turns out that I missed a couple of pins...

I started quilting this, I had planned on being done yesterday so I could donate this quilt to an auction for a young man battling cancer, if you've read my first blog post you'll know that children battling cancer is very close to my heart.

I was mostly finished when I flipped it over and discovered every quilters nightmare, the puckered tuck... and not just one but quite a few and they were large ones. I think I was in such a hurry I didn't pin properly and the backing slipped. No I didn't take a picture ;)
So while picking the stitches out... with my seam ripper... I ripped the backing fabric, and it is a completely unfixable tear.  
Moral of this story..... Use the right tool for the job! Oh and make sure your pins are secure!

I love the wave pattern she used.
Thankfully my guild came to the rescue and allowed me to pick one of the charity quilts to donate instead.
Beautiful backing.
This beautiful blue quilt was made by our Guild President Tonya, she also long armed it herself. The pattern is called Bento Box. I think it's a future pattern for me :D

I don't think I will be able to express enough gratitude for the generousity of my guild, I am a firm believer in keeping promises and it's nice to know that I have a go to problem solving group of women if I am in need of a helping hand.

So other than self medicating with cheesecake and netflix, I also accomplished more work on the building blocks quilt for my daughter.
I am using this quilt as a tester for all the different patterns I haven't had an opportunity to try yet. Here's my first attempt at paisley. I had an easier time with it than I thought I would. Still not perfect but not bad either.

I am also using a wave like stippling to move around the quilt, I am doing blocks of 4 in different patterns, the wave stipple will help fill the rest in, super quick and simple.

I think one of the biggest things I have to work on is size, I don't have a extension table nor a drop down sewing table so I am working with just a small space. I think I might try the blue foam insulation trick to give me a larger area to work in. 

Someday! LOL

Passion in frustration!