Saturday, February 18, 2017

Asterisks and Flowers

We continue to have lots of snow so I am having many Snow-Sew Days, but if truth be told, as a retiree, I do have lots and lots of Sew Days. I just give them a different name in the winter!

I finished my Asterisk quilt top earlier this week. This was a quilt designed by Karen Griska published in Quiltmaker Reader Favorites Volume 1 Summer 2015. The pattern had been previously published in May/June 2010.

I used some delightful fabrics designed by Me and My Sister through Moda. How could I not love fabrics called LOL and Ticklish! I had so much fun playing with these gorgeous fabrics. Although I aimed at using contrast in the blocks, I wasn't too worried if the fabrics were a little close in tones and shades. The results just reminded me of an English flower garden.

The rows came together pretty quickly...

Rather than using a pieced border, I used two smaller borders, a blue tone on tone batik and a wider border of the floral Ticklish fabric.

Hubby managed to hold the quilt pretty steady for the picture. I like the finished size, about 50" x 55", so I should be able to quilt this fairly easily on my domestic machine. 

After finishing this quilt, it was time to dig into my UFO bin. 

This little quilt was started many years ago. The kit was purchased at Harbour Quilt Company outside Antigonish, a LQS that has since, sadly, closed down. Kim, the owner, had designed this quilt in 2008 and I purchased the kit when she was closing her doors. This little quilt has sat unfinished for several years. All the applique had been prepared and one corner had been done when I put it away. 

Because the pieces had already been prepared using the fusible applique method, all I needed was a few sessions in my sewing room to press everything in place and then a few days doing the machine applique.

One day this week, between the three snow storms we had in six days, I opened the patio door and laid the finished top on the snow for a picture. And yes, the snow is still there!

This top finishes at 41" x 41". I have always loved using Kansas Troubles fabrics and really like the way Kim incorporated them in her design.

It's a great day for quilting!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Cottage Year is Finished and the Canada 150 CW Quilt is a Start

We seem to be having a lot of snow days lately, or as I like to call them, Sew Days. It's always nice to finish a quilt top, especially one that was so enjoyable to make from start to finish. A Cottage Year is just that kind of quilt.

If you recall, the embroidered cottages had been put away for awhile. See my post about them HERE. Once I pulled them out of the closet, it took no time for the blocks to be made. I began by framing them with a black solid.

After that, the log cabin blocks grew pretty quickly.

The blocks are sewn into the quilt in the order of the months, row by row, from January through to December. 

As usual, I used a large assortment of cream and red fabrics. My pre-cut of choice is fat quarters so I have quite a few tucked away in my plastic totes. Then I started to build...


and build some more...

My new version of A Cottage Year is a little different than my first, but I think I like it more with the darker reds/rusts.

A Cottage Year is now in my growing pile of tops to quilt. I have discovered that I have to be in the right frame of mind to FMQ as it ties up my favorite sewing machine for awhile. These days I am loving putting together quilts, so I think I'll wait awhile before I get into my quilting mode.

One quilt that I am loving putting together is the Canada 150 Canadian Women, a free QAL by Kat of Next Step Quilt Designs. She has designed a quilt to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary that is being celebrated this year.  Every week she provides three 6.5" unfinished block patterns for the 150 block quilt. 

With each block comes a story of a Canadian woman that has impacted our country. It is a perfect QAL for me, as 3 blocks a week seems to be manageable and with each block I learn a story about a woman who made a difference.  I started with a layer cake of Sentiments by 3 Sisters and after 4 weeks this is what I had.

There is a Facebook group Kat started where people post their blocks HERE. I started to like those blocks with more of a variety of tones and shades of reds, so I am now adding more shades and tones of reds and creams from my stash. 

The quilt can be made in a few different sizes, depending on how many blocks you make, but I am aiming to make a queen size quilt with 150 CW blocks and 6 filler blocks. To make it easier to piece, I am dividing the quilt into 4 segments and will sew each segment when I have enough for a 6x6 section or a 6x7 section, using a 1.5" sashing. Here is my first segment almost finished...

You can join Kat's QAL anytime by signing up for an email or just visit her site where the blocks are posted every Tuesday for free HERE. Each set of blocks is available to download for 2 weeks only. If you miss any blocks along the way, or want to start now, you could start with the next set of blocks. At the end of the year, Kat will have a CD available for all the blocks for a nominal fee. 

It's such a treat, to make these little blocks every week and at the same time, be inspired by Canadian women.  If you do the math,you'll see that the blocks won't be finished 'till November, but that's perfect for me! Thank you, Kat, for giving me such a special way to celebrate Canada's birthday year. 

It's a great day for quilting!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Canada 150 Sew Day

Canada turns 150 years old this year so of course quilters across Canada are going to help celebrate! The Canadian Quilters Association is hosting Canada's Biggest Quilt Bee at Quilt Canada from June 14-17. Quilters across Canada are asked to participate by making slab quilt blocks, send then to Quilt Canada, and during Canada's Biggest Quilt Bee, the blocks will be assembled into quilt tops, quilted, and then the finished quilts will be distributed to Ronald McDonald Houses all across Canada. Wow! What a win-win initiative! Quilters get to have fun all for a good cause! 

On Wednesday of this week, my local guild, the Tea Thyme Quilters of Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, organized a SEW DAY. We invited quilters, sewers, and members of the community to come help us make slab blocks at St. Mark's Church from 10-4. We invited people to come for an hour or for the day. McDonalds provided coffee and pastries, a local restaurant, the Fleur de Lis, provided sandwiches, and some wonderful cooks/quilters provided soup and sweets. What a successful day it was! This is the wall of blocks that were made that day...

The day started with a live radio interview on 101.5 The Hawk early that morning.  Quilter Barb and myself were given headphones and a microphone and asked to "have a conversation" with local radio personalities Scottie O and Greg Morrow. And did we converse! Several people heard us and dropped in to see what the fuss was all about.

We had about 50 people participate that day. Around 35 brought their machines and sewed blocks, while the others helped organize fabrics, pressed strips, served food, and generally helped out. A requirement for the Bee is that each block had to have a piece of special Canada 150 fabric in it. Everyone who came that day was given some of that fabric to use, plus quilters filled a table with stash fabrics to share. Hope you enjoy a little photo diary of the day.

The day started with set up of tables in the church hall and organization of fabrics.

The doors opened around 10:00 and before long the room was filled with quilters and sewing machines. One of the first groups to arrive was from "the Mainland!"

On the stage, we displayed some sample blocks that had already been sewn together at home. These blocks will be sent to Quilt Canada with all the blocks made at Sew Day. Some women brought finished quilts which we also displayed on the stage. Each province has a volunteer to be a "collector" of the finished quilts. In Nova Scotia, the collector will then hand deliver any finished quilts to the Ronald McDonald House in Halifax. The Collectors are listed in this document HERE.

As the day progressed, finished blocks were taped to the side wall and the count was on! We had a goal of making 150 blocks that day and the ongoing count definitely kept us motivated. 

We were thrilled when local radio personality Scottie O arrived to make a block.  Barb and the gals took him to the fabric table where he carefully chose his fabrics. 

I was very excited to walk Scottie O through the "making of the block" process. He was a quick learner and had no problem at all using the rotary cutter or the sewing machine. As he said, "I do use power tools, after all!". 

Scottie O was so proud to display his block. Behind him, you can see how the wall of blocks kept growing!

Quilters came from across Cape Breton and from the Mainland to join us that day. This group of quilting friends giggled all day but sure got a lot accomplished!

Just look at how the fabric table grew as the day went on...

At the end of the day we might have been a little tired but we sure were excited when we counted the blocks. We made 163 blocks that day, and when we added the 27 made before hand, we now have a total of 190 blocks that are ready to mail out. Thanks so much to everyone who was involved. It was such a feel-good day! And always a great day for quilting!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Quilted Village Finally Finished

Some projects just take more time than others and this was the case with Quilted Village. I finished the top this week, but it was a long time in the making!

I signed up for a BOM for this quilt in 2012 through Shabby Fabrics. Designed by Janet Miller, the pattern had everything I blocks, a little embroidery, and the finished quilt was not too large.  The pattern and fabrics arrived each month from Shabby Fabrics and if memory serves me correctly, I did try to make the first block in the first month. 

I was familiar with paper piecing, but my method uses much more fabric than anyone else's, so I never seemed to have enough fabric to complete each block. Right from the get-go, I started substituting some of their fabrics with mine.

The pattern called for ribbon embroidery and lots of birds, but I passed on those and also eliminated the flag pole. For some reason, my green  "Towne Centre" was a tad smaller than it was supposed to be, so I added another border and then everything fit perfectly.

The quilt top is about 60" x 60" so I should be able to quilt it myself, maybe doing an edge to edge cross-hatch design. But that is for another day...

Today I am working on another UFO taken from my quilting closet. I had made Kathy Schmitz' A Cottage Year a few years back. You may recall seeing it on a previous blog post. You can read about it HERE.

About a year ago, I started to embroider another set of cottages. Embroidery projects are handy to have as I sit in my quilting chair and watch my favorite TV shows. If I take it easy, and don't do too much at any one time, my wrist/arm issues don't flare up. Long story short, I have had the 12 blocks sitting in my closet for awhile. When I finished Quilted Village, I decided to work on A Cottage Year.  I am now building log cabin blocks around each embroidered cottage. The quilt will be a little different that the original pattern but I think it will work.

I always love to do scrappy, so I am using a variety of creams and reds/rusts that I have in my stash for the logs.

It's a great day for quilting!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Stars in a Time Warp and Ouch Pouches

In January 2015, Barbara Brachman introduced a free quiltalong on her blog Civil War Quilts called Stars in a Time Warp. I watched it with interest as it unfolded each week. She used the Sawtooth star pattern in a 6" finished size every week, but chose a different reproduction fabric to use, highlighting the history of the fabrics and showing samples. I put the star quilt on my "to do" list while enjoying her weekly posts as the year unfolded.

A year later in January of 2016, Darlene of A Needle Pulling Thread Quilt shop in Digby, NS, started a Star Block a Week QAL. That was just what I needed to give me the push. I began to make a star a week with Darlene, and used Barbara's Stars in a Time Warp as inspiration for my fabric choices.  Using my stash fabrics, I modeled my stars on Barbara's choices including a varied selection of fabrics such as turkey red on cream, prussian blue, shirting, cheddars, madder style prints, and so on and so on. I didn't always make a star every week, and life certainly got in the way, but this week I pulled out the stars, made a few more using indigos, faded dyes, and toiles, and soon had a total of 36 of the 6" stars. 

With the idea of making a lap quilt, I started looking through my books for ideas for a border. I found the book I had ordered from The Fabric Cupboard last year, Monterrey Medallions by Atkinson Designs, that included a selection of pieced borders.  


I really liked the Four-Patch Chain, simple version featured on one of the quilts so made a few blocks using my scraps and tested it out around the star centre. 

I liked the way it looked, so I made the rest of the blocks and finished sewing everything together this morning.

The top measures approximately 55" square, so I should be able to machine quilt it myself. It's always so much fun to finish a top, especially this one as it allowed me to play with so many different fabrics in my stash. The stars are made using reproduction-style fabrics, but the pieced borders were made using a variety of dark, medium, and light fabrics I had on hand.

I also wanted to share with you today a great gift idea. I made  a bunch of "Ouch Pouches" as Christmas gifts. They are little zippered pouches adorned with a red cross and filled with bandaids, etc. Designed by Melissa at Cornbread and Beans, these pouches were fun to make and just as much fun to fill! 

I found lots of small treasures to put in them, including bandaids, packets of Kleenex, Tide pouches, and wet ones.

We are having lots of wintry weather these days so will continue to play in my sewing room. It's a great day for quilting!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas is (Almost) Here

Christmas for me is the best time of the year, especially when surrounded by family and friends. This month has been a busy one in anticipation, full of Christmas projects, gift projects, and just because. Some are secrets so can't be shared yet, but here are a few that aren't being kept a secret. 

I finished my Christmas tree skirt and am so pleased with the way it turned out. It definitely trims the floor around the tree.

I decided to put my new tree hanging to good use and turned it into an advent tree! I sewed 24 little red buttons to the tree and every day in December, I add a miniature numbered book from Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol Storybook Set and Advent Calendar that we were gifted many years ago by my sister. 

It was a treat to put the little books to real good use this year, reading each little book before hanging it.

Last week our town held a dinner for the seniors and were asked for donations of small gifts. I bought some adorable Santa mugs at the local grocery store and made a few mug rugs to include with them, as well as some chocolates, candy canes, and tea.

Luckily I also had some plastic around so was able to wrap them to go!

In a moment between gift projects and "what should I do next?", I cut into some delightful LOL prints designed by Me and My Sister. I had loved the Asterisk pattern I found in Quiltmaker Reader Favorites Volume 1 Summer 2015 and started making these 6 1/2"unfinished blocks. 

I'll keep working on those next year.  For now, my sewing room is closed for the year. The house is decorated, the Christmas quilts are hung, the baking is done, the tree is up, and now we are ready for family and friends.

Merry Christmas to all!