Friday, 28 December 2012

A year in review.

Wow, can you believe it?

The year has passed already, it seems the older I get the more time just slips away when I am not looking. It's hard to believe that I have made so much progress in just a short time when it comes to all aspects of quilting and I am not the only one. I've been looking at other people's blogs this morning and I stand amazed at where they were to where they are now, thinking "soon I will be able to do that!". 
After posting on The Free Motion Quilting Project I felt like a dunce since I read the post after linking up, I totally missed the point of the link up!! So I make amends by doing my year in review a bit early.

Project 1:

The project that started it all.
Chelsea's Quilt.
My very first quilt ever made for my precious 8 year old who is growing up far to quickly in my estimation.
There are many mistakes: blocks are cut crooked, seam lines are way off, it wasn't squared properly, I mixed up the rows, some rows are upside down etc, etc, etc.
It is sewn rather well and will not fall apart which at the time was the most important part.

I did a simple ditch stitch which I echo'd using a 1/4 foot (the flat one, not the one with the bar on the side.) Added some embellishments after the quilt was finished so I can continue to add more patches and things without wrecking the back, I call it a memory quilt. Each embellishment will hold a different memory for her and since she has poor vision she'll be able to have a tactile remembrance as well.

Project 2:

Charity comes first.
Box Car Suzie
I chose to create a charity quilt for my next project because I needed practice. Lots and lots of practice in many ways.
It doesn't look like it but each strip is comprised of 4" (finished) blocks, true I could have just done strips but I wanted to be able to practice piecing, seam alignment and pressing. 
This quilt taught me the difference between ironing and pressing.... I had no clue before and had thought they were the same thing.  0.0

This was my first crack at FMQ, I had just found Leah Day's website through a friend from my guild .. wewt! Shout to Sam at the Quilting Curve!... (If quilting were the force, Sam would be Obi Wan Kenobi and I would be Luke Skywalker, Check out her Heron Quilt it's amazing.) ... I used Sea Oats Flower as the centre and did vines and flowers in each box around it. Very tightly quilted and lots of knotting through out, had a hard time with keeping the scale proper and I used a 3 ply heavy duty poly thread which wasn't so smooth to quilt with :D.  I ended up running out of thread 3 times and ended up grading the colours of the thread from dark to light.

Project 3:

A good deed deserves a good reward

Butterfly Garden
This was a very special project, you can read the full story about it in my inspirations post. By this point I had become fairly comfortable with FMQ'ing and started branching out with new designs. Cucumber Vine has become a favorite of mine, it looks great even when you mess it up and it fills the whole quilt quickly.
It also works off of other designs amazingly well, I think with this quilt in particular had I chosen another type of design I would have been completely flustered and irritated because I had to work around the 3 flowers and 5 butterflies.

Project 4:

Once, Twice and Thrice for Charity

Technically this should be 4 & 5 but I didn't make the bear quilt I just finished it, I add it to my year in review because it was my first go at loopy hearts, trapunto style quilting and because it's one of my favorites.
Lessons Learned
"Lessons Learned" was definitely a teaching quilt, much smaller pieces and I had a fight on my hands at every turn. It turned out beautifully though and also ranks as one of my favorites.
The quilting pattern "Daisy Chain" was born on this quilt, I had originally quilted it once with hearts and loops but messed up the backing in my haste to get it done. I was quilting the bear, "lessons learned" and my youngest daughter's quilt in the same span of time. Doing the combination of "Poseiden's Eye" and Loopy hearts inspired Daisy chain.
Both of these quilts went to the guild as charity quilts.

Project 5:

 Red and Blue makes me dizzy :/

"Building Blocks" I designed specifically for my youngest daughter, I had completely forgotten what red and blue together does to my head though so it was quite a challenge completing this quilt correctly as per my original design.
I used this quilt for multiple patterns to try out for FMQ'ing, played with some designs to see what would happen "if I do it this way..."

I added quite a few favorite styles to my repertoire with this quilt: Spiky Fern, Poseidon's Eye, Paisley, Fiery Comet & Flowing Lines just to name a few. After completing the quilting, I noticed all following projects started to flow much more smoothly and quicker.

Project 6:

The UFO that is no longer a UFO

Broken Diamonds
I love this. I really truly am in love with this 40 x 40 square. It's a foundation pieced project inspired by Amy Gibson's broken spider web block, found in the free block of the month class provided by  I wanted something that was extremely masculine since it is for my Dad and I feel I hit that nail right on the head.

If you read the title, this is no longer sitting forlorn on a shelf somewhere, I've got the top pieced and it is all sandwiched together waiting for quilting. 

Project 7:

Giant Granny Panties!
This is the quilt I had set the previous one aside for, we had gotten confirmation that my Mom had cancerous tumor's in her hips this winter. Of course I had to put everything aside and make a quilt that would be super warm and travel easily for her so she could have some comfort while she was away from home.
This took me about 3 weeks from start to finish, and I am glad I had it ready to go since there was only 36 hours warning before my Dad had to whisk my Mom off to the Cancer clinic's for her treatment.
The quilting was a bit rushed since I didn't know what kind of time frame we were looking at so I am not 100% happy with it but I still think that I am being overly fussy cause it's for my Mom.

Project 8

The first commission.
Balloons for Baby
My first try with applique that didn't come out of a package, I was bad with the quilting though and fell into modis-operandi. I am very familiar and comfortable with loops, hearts, stars etc and so that is what I quilted this with.

I am hoping I can remember to deliver it now! :D

Project  9, 10, 11, 12

The stocking were hung by the chimney with care.

I finished the stockings at 4:30 am Christmas morning, between all the other quilting jobs I was doing and just getting ready for Christmas I had run out of time. 
However they were a priority for me to complete as most of the presents I bought this year were specifically for the stockings lol!

Each name tag is FMQ'ed on a felt sandwich with different styles of quilting. The green tag on the right even has a snowman on it with snowballs flying around! It's my favorite ;)

As I went through my photo's it was sheer joy to realize just how far I've come in one year, all the different types of projects that have been tackles and completed, I can't wait to see what the new year will bring!

Happy New Years Everyone!!

Love from our family to yours


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Machine binding, it is possible.

Merry Christmas! Or... Thank God it's over?

Since I did not read the full blog over at Leah Day's FMQ Project and linked up anyhow while completely missing the point... I did my planned year in review blog early: Click Here to read it :) 

We had a fantastic Christmas even though my Mom wasn't able to join us this year, we had some uplifting news about her cancer just before Christmas Eve, her oncologist said that they had caught it in the early stages and started an immediate round of radiation to shrink the tumors in her hips.  Thankfully she will not have to do chemotherapy!! To top off the good news, she also managed to get into Compassion House in Edmonton which is amazingly beautiful and she had the opportunity to have companions for Christmas, I don't think there is anything more depressing than the thought of any Mom being alone, and stuck in a hotel room over the holidays by herself while battling any illness.  

I love Christmas, it is my favorite time of the year, though the last few years I've had to check myself to stop getting caught up in the stress of the season, especially since the onus of Christmas for our extended family is placed on my shoulders now, no complaints here, it's an honor to have the tradition passed on to me.  
Personally I had an epiphany this year, I came to the conclusion that it's our own personal expectations that cause the majority of the stress. From trying to create the perfect dinner to finding the perfect present for everyone to trying to meet all the demands placed on you by family members or friends, it gets to be a little much and honestly you end up feeling disappointed in many ways.  I had spent the week previous madly knocking out projects on my sewing machine everything from gift bags to a full 80 x 80 quilt, I don't think my family saw anything of me for the whole week.  Most of my gifts were met with at best lukewarm "thanks" and in the worst case a snarky smirk, you know the one, it screams all sorts of sarcasm because you didn't buy something, you "made" it. /snarl That teacher won't be getting so much as a handshake from me at the end of the year. /snarl off

On the (late) evening of the 23rd while basting the 80 x 80 quilt and planning on how I was going to make time to quilt the whole thing in a day, plus finish 4 stockings, do all my baking for Christmas dinner and make time with the family I realized that the bar I had set was just a little out of reach.. So I said "screw it"! (Not exactly, the word I used was slightly stronger ;D) and decided to gift the quilt as is with the addendum, "it's not quite finished but..", I didn't bake for an army since I wasn't having one over for dinner and I decided I didn't care if the turkey was perfect or if everyone would like their gifts. Terribly ironic, the turkey was the best one I have ever made, the gifts were exactly what everyone wanted and I got the opportunity to sit down and relax.  
Thank God it's over!! 11 months of recuperation should be just enough for next year. 

Let's move on to some quilting shall we?! 

I promised a blurb about total machine binding, I've looked all over for a reasonable tutorial and never found one that really explained things in depth probably because it is really fussy to get a great edge on your machine. Hand binding is neater but even more time consuming, so what do you do?

I am not going to call this a tutorial, it's more like tips and tricks on how to do it, I feel I am still in the learning process of machine binding since I am not as consistent as I would like to be and I am learning something new almost daily, like Sharon Schamber's binding tutorial that I watched this morning, you can find it on SewCalGal's blog here .
I didn't even consider using school glue to stabilize the binding! What a great idea! I am betting it would make machine binding that much easier as well. Anyway I am rambling, I do that when I get excited about an idea :D

 To begin:
1.  Sew your binding to the back of your quilt all the way around, use the thumb trick to make a 45 degree angle on your corners.
  - Watch the Sharon Schamber tutorial I mentioned earlier, it has some great tricks for a perfectly mitred corner like pressing your corners with an iron and then sewing off perpendicular to your seam line at the fold line made by the iron.

 - If you look at the picture at the seam I made, it's actually only 1/8" instead of 1/4" (or what ever seam allowance you will need for your binding width). I did this on purpose because I did not quilt the outer 2" which results in a lot of bulk for your binding to cover. The trick here is twofold 1.) your binding will be tacked down which helps with making a straight seam for the true seam allowance. 2) You can trim off the excess bulk easily and make sure your quilt is squared true, this is especially important when you are using high loft or really fluffy batting :/
If you quilt to the outer edges of the quilt and the seam lays flat with little to no bulk, completely skip steps 2 & 3 and carry on to the next part.

2. Once you have got you binding tacked, go back and do your true seam line. I do not join ends until after I've done the true seam, joining before may cause your binding to not lay properly at that point since the seam will be 1/8th (or more) off.

In the lower picture on the right, you can certainly see the extra bulk that is sticking out, I used a 2" binding on this particular quilt so all of that bulk is not going to have anywhere to go if I don't trim it.

3. I like to square off from the true seam which is usually 1/4", this will vary depending on the width of your binding and personal taste.

There is really no tricks here except measure twice and cut once ;) .

4. Start turning your binding over, I usually pull one edge and two corners over so I have control of the binding and it's not flopping or wrapping in odd places. You can give it a light press with an iron or pin it in place. I've also occasionally used hair snap clips to help keep it turned over with wider bindings, otherwise I don't pin as I like to have complete control over where the binding is going to exactly go, select the stitch you are going to use. We are not using a straight stitch, you are going to want a stitch that is adjustable in width and looks nice when sewn also make sure the stitch is going to the right. Break out a practice scrap and test the stitches you like in at least 2" lengths so you can get a good view of what it will look like on your binding.

5. Line up your binding against the true seam line, it is important not to cover the seam, here I may use a pin or two just to get started, depending on how my binding is going to act. It helps if your binding is lightly starched, a starched binding tends to lay better.

6. Line up the seam line with your needle and place in the down position. A little trick that I use to get my stitch width correct is to use the hand wheel to see where my stitch will land on the binding.
You want the stitch to fall just over the outer edge, no wider than 1/8". If your stitch is too large it is going to really show.
Thread color is important too, you don't want a visibly contrasting thread. I used the white thread specifically for this tutorial so you could see where my seam lines are, for the actual stitching I used the brown thread that I had quilted this quilt with as it will fade into the background of the blue binding and not be significantly different on the back.
- A quick tip: Don't use a small stitch length, stitches that are too close together will look bulky and messy. I wouldn't go lower than 2.5, I usually use 3.

7. Start to stitch slowly, you will be able to go faster once you are more comfortable but you definitely do not want to go pedal to the metal here. It is important you stop and readjust your binding as needed. Perhaps every 3 or 4 inches so it stay's nicely aligned with the seam.

-Corners: Sorry I forgot to take a picture but this is fairly simple, don't stitch to far into your corner.  I stop a stitch or two before the seam line for the next edge then I align my binding for the corner against the seam line again and make 1 or 2 stitches, you  don't want to go to far in, basically just enough so the corner is tacked down. With the needle in the down position pivot, you may have to adjust your quilt so your needle is falling on the new seam line properly, don't worry about that, it's a tiny adjustment and that won't be noticeable.  Continue binding in the same manner until you've completed your binding... Your done!

-Quick note: If the join seam of your binding is a little loose, try to stretch out your quilt so it doesn't pucker.
Your stitch line should fall right on top of the binding in the back.

A couple of issues that I usually come across:

Pulling the binding too tight

If you are pulling the binding too hard, the stitch line will end up on the back of the quilt rather than on the binding.
This is not a deal breaker, it will not be noticeable unless the quilt is looked at minutely, the fix for this is to slow down so you are stitching in a straight line and trim the edge if the binding won't wrap properly.

Not enough of a pull on binding
If you have a stitch line going to high up into the binding, it usually means there is a smaller amount of bulk in that area or your true seam is off a bit. This one is hard to fix especially when using cheaper battings.  If you want to pull it a little more taut, there is the risk of ending up with a puff either on the front or back.  Most often for me it's because I am zoning out and not paying attention to my stitching.
Definitely not a deal breaker either unless you are planning on sending it to show.

I am off for the night, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, see you in 2013!!!


Sunday, 16 December 2012

A little late ... but I didn't forget!!!!

Our winner is........!!!!

The three judges have spoken!

$5 I'd do names in a bag! lol Bribery would be a Studio, cute and completely equipped just out back! But then if he said pretty please I might have to figure out how to push or pull him out! Good thing I'm eating the cookie as he obviously has had one too many!!!

Yay Elle! 'll be dropping you an email for your info and hopefully I'll get the package out this week :)

Thank you to everyone who left a comment, I appreciate your participation!

Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Time for a quick breath...

Time to let my machine rest...

Well I completely missed my usual weekly update, no surprise there it's been mad around here, MAD! MAD! I tell you!  In the space of 2 days (Monday and Tuesday no less) I ended up with 3 quilting jobs, 2 of which I have finished, 1 is a QIP (quilting in progress :D) on my machine and I still need to finish the baby quilt (almost done), make 4 stockings & 5 mug rugs/bread bags for teacher gifts and complete my Dad's quilt.  Where's a partridge in a pear tree when you need one?!

First up is the baby quilt I've been working on, it is done and quilted, just needs to be bound to finish and it's ready to go. I ended up batting with wool since I had a nice large piece left over from my Mom's Giant Granny Panties quilt, nothing like using up what you've got leftover to keep costs down and baby gets a super warm blankie!  I drew the applique parts myself, using a lovely bear drawing I found while searching through clip art as inspiration. The bear was finished with a combination of hand work and machine satin stitch.

The balloons I freehanded, they are a little awkward but not terribly so, I used a rainbow nylon beading thread for the balloon strings and bright red floss for the words. YES! I admit it I can do handwork when the mood strikes me ;)

I also have to admit, I really, really enjoyed doing this little quilt. The biggest bonus was I got to envision it myself instead of trying to meet someone else's idea of what is should be, my Mom asked me to make this and I was a bit worried how she would feel about the end result. Her tastes and ideas are completely opposite of mine and I know she had a definitive idea of what I should do, I appreciate the fact that she trusted my judgement enough to let me do my thing. When I showed her the end result, she was tickled pink! Phew!

Secondly; this was a quick quilting job for a friend, it is one of those stamped cross-stitch tops so this was super simple, all I had to do was follow the lines. I did end up having to do quite a bit of travel stitching so I didn't have to break thread every time I completed a row which was a pain in the behind with white thread on white fabric.  I chose to do a bit of improvisation with the animal figures, echoing some of the white parts where there was no markings, I wasn't comfortable with having more than a hand span of space between quilted areas, I know the cheaper poly batting will shift and move quite a bit and didn't want this quilt to "chunk up", it's cute as a button.

And in third position: I am currently quilting a small lap blanket for Suzanne (my mentor and the reason why I am quilting), this is a gift for a good friend of hers. Mean Jean is one fantastic and hard working lady and I am very pleased she asked me to quilt it, I feel it's an honor to do so and I get to give Jean a small gift without her knowing ;) That's me, I like doing stealth ninja gifting!

I don't know if you can really see the thread color in the picture, it's a lovely blue the mimics the color of the yarn in the patterned fabric and helps tone down all the yellow. The quilting itself is supposed to be butterflies and flowers, though the butterflies look like bees or in the case of one or two, legless stegosaurus' :D
I tried to do double winged butterflies (top view of a butterfly) but I found it was really hard to keep both sides of the wings equal while quilting on my test piece, I just simply don't have the skill to do that yet so I opted for the profile view of a butterfly instead which is why I think they look more like bees than butterflies, it's one of those 'eh.. it works' kind of situations, I am really not going to be a fussbucket about it. I learned my lesson about being to fussy, it just makes things worse!

Fourth up are my stockings:

Two of the four have the tops and backs almost finished, this is just simple and straight forward strip piecing on muslin and fusible fleece and they are really fun to make. I started doing the strip race to see how fast I can get a top done and then realized I was piecing on the wrong side!!!!! Umm.... ooops LOL.
One of these is getting a extra lining!

Honorable Mentions:  I missed getting a picture of the other quilt that I quilted before it got picked up, which is a shame, the lady who made it did a to die for star baby quilt in subtle pastel pinks, greens and yellows. I would have liked a picture on hand just for inspiration, it was just that gorgeous.  /le sigh.

The Dad quilt has had no progress at all, it is still hanging on my clothes line in the basement, I forsee a couple of long nights ahead of me.....

And just because I can..... Cute kitty pictures!

This guy is new to our family, we rescued him at the end of November, I found him outside starving and freezing to death in -25 celcius weather. We've been looking for his original home but haven't had any luck, which apparently doesn't matter since he has decided to stay here and make us his people.  I also broke the #1 rule of found animals... Do NOT name them. His name is Hermes.  My other three men have taken a shine to this little guy (1 husband & two other cats) and I am guessing that even if I wanted find a new home for him, I'd be in some serious trouble :D

He is definitely a character  as you can see, he figures I made that baby quilt specifically for him and was very put out when I shooed him off so I could take a picture of it. I had to shoo him off in between each photo as well!

Wishing you all the best and a Merry Christmas!!

Passionately making fur fly,


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

'Tis the Season...

For the wretched colds & flu's!!!

Yes, our whole family was down this week with a terrible round of colds, of course this is the byproduct of having children in elementary school isn't it? The upside of this silly cold was I couldn't sleep and yet felt functional and energetic enough to quilt ;) 

Giant Granny Panties is complete, binding was done this weekend, I machine bind and I discovered a little trick about machine binding that makes it look very neat and tidy, I am planning on doing a post on that specifically in the near future, stay tuned!

My next project to get done is the baby quilt, I chose to do a disappearing 16 patch, I agree the colors are muted and darker than standard baby quilts but there is a reason behind my madness, this is going to serve as a background rather than the main focus of the quilt.
The piecing is done, all that is left is a border and the applique itself, I think that I may be able to get this done by the end of the week (cross fingers), I am doing a large applique on this top that my oldest daughter is going to help me with, I am not going to tell you what it is yet, I am going to wait until I can take a picture of the finished piece, as they say a picture is worth a thousand words!

... PSST!...
(I have one stocking complete!) 
Moving right along....

So I did mention, that my one year of quilting anniversary is coming up right? I thought with all the giveaways happening, I'd jump on the bandwagon and do an anniversary giveaway! However in looking for a random number generator, I discovered that it costs to use the publishable one ($5 per use... seriously?!) and it's difficult to find a free one that's reliable, understandable or allows you to use the print screen function.  So sod it! No random number generation here, we are going to go completely out into left field and do an essay question that is completely ridiculous and amusing  and I am going to have my children be the judges of the best answer. How much more random can you get? Not to mention, I am not going to require you to "follow" or tweet or do anything to promote my blog ;)  Now the only rule is: only one answer please, so make it your best!

So your amusing and ridiculous question is: It's Christmas Eve and you manage to catch Santa stuck in the chimney in your home (or window.. whatever :D), and you have a naughty little thought while chomping on one of your fabulously baked cookies that you had left out for him just hours before... What is Santa going to have to bribe you with so you'll help free him?

My bribe for you to answer the question:

Some of my favorite Kona Bay Asian print fat quarters and one half yard of that absolutely delicious heron fabric!

Winner will be announced on December 16th :)