Thursday, 18 December 2014

Thread

I finally received my order from Tristan Italian Threads:

14 spools of Aurifil's Aurilux 36 weight polyester thread. I'm not even sure if Aurifil makes this stuff any more as it's not on their website, but I have found a couple of vendors that sell it. I think it will be great for long arm machine quilting. I don't honestly have a specific plan for each of these threads, but I had to order enough to make the shipping charges worthwhile, didn't I? 
These two are for the Bluenose II Pixel quilt. The pictures don't do this thread justice. I tried numerous different shots, employing different settings on the camera, but I couldn't get the shots I wanted. Especially not with the plastic wrap still on the spools. It reflects too much light. And I don't want to take the plastic wrap off until I'm ready to use the thread. I only took it off this spool because (hopefully) it will be used soon. No, I'm not done the pixel quilt yet, but I'm hoping once the Christmas rush is over, I"ll be able to get back to it. 
The pink thread third from the right on the bottom row is destined for the Unbroken quilt. It's the only solid colour in the bunch. Second from the right is a red and green that will work for a Christmas quilt. That's a brown and gold spool next to it, and I realized that's probably the ideal colour for a Western Michigan University quilt. I've been researching as I have a great nephew who has already been accepted at WMU for next school year and I think he should get a quilt for his high school graduation. Brown and gold are WMU's school colours. 
And speaking of great nephews, I did a little research on consanguinity (isn't that a fancy word - it means blood relationships) and apparently it's also acceptable to call great nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews (or uncles and aunts, for that matter). There seems to be an indication that "great" is preferable to the British and Canadians, and "grand" to Americans. Now back to thread...
Third from the left on the bottom row is a red and white thread that will work well for a Canada Day quilt, Remembrance Day quilt or a QOV.
I'm sure I'll find uses for all of them eventually. Meanwhile, they are just pretty to look at. 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Far Above Rubies

Amy is the daughter of friends. She is graduating from university this December and has already got a job to start in January, but it's in a community 134 km (about 83 miles) from her parents' home. So she will also be moving into her first apartment. To celebrate these milestones, I'm having a graduation/apartment-warming party for her. This quilt will be my gift to her.
When I started pondering what quilt to make for Amy, I came across this pattern. The title "Far Above Rubies" comes from a phrase in Proverbs 31:
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. 14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. 16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. 19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. 20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. 24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. 29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
Amy is a Christian young woman and it is my wish for her to be a "Proverbs 31 woman." It's also my wish that, when the time comes, she will choose for her life companion a man who will recognize that her value is "far above rubies" and treat her accordingly. So I felt that this was the right quilt for Amy. The name of each block is actually derived from a story in the Old Testament. 
Amy's favourite colour used to be blue, but I double checked with her mother before choosing fabric for this quilt. "Teal" is now her favourite. Do you know how hard it is to find "teal" fabric, especially when you're shopping online? And to make sure that the fabrics you select will actually look good together when they arrive in the mail, and not just looking good on the computer screen? I ended up going with more aqua/turquoise than teal. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the fabrics I selected was sold out by the time I made my purchase and I ended up making an alternate selection of a polka dot fabric. I just wasn't happy with it when it arrived, so bought a different fabric at my LQS. That's the light aqua fabric and I'm very happy with it. 
If you want to make this quilt, you'll want to print the templates out, even if you, like me, don't like using templates. Some of the blocks, like Job's Tears, have funky shapes, and some of them, like Garden of Eden, have really odd measurements. The weird thing about the templates is that the dotted lines for cutting did not show up when I printed them. I don't know if it's my printer, my computer or the templates that are the problem. Most of the blocks also have rotary cutting instructions, but they are not the easiest to follow. And some of these blocks are very challenging and definitely not ones I would want to do a whole quilt of.. Lots of bias seams and quite a few Y seams as well. 
When I did the Solomon's Puzzle block, I used my
Marti Michell Perfect Patchwork Template, Drunkard's Path, Package of Four. I've had it for a year and a half or longer and this is the first time I've used it. Believe it or not, I only had one pucker that I had to rip out. Beginner's luck? I actually found this block easier than some of the others. But again, I'm not sure if I'd want to do a whole quilt of it. 
If you compare my quilt closely with the sample picture, you'll notice that I substituted the David & Goliath block for the Children of Israel block. I intend to use the Children of Israel block in another quilt, so left it out of this one. 
Here are pictures of all of the blocks, with their names:
Jacob's Ladder  -  Job's Tears
Dove at the Window  -  Garden of Eden
Joseph's Coat  -  Walls of Jericho
Wings of Eagles
David & Goliath  -  Solomon's Puzzle
The pantograph pattern I chose to use on this quilt is called Lily of the Valley, which is not only a lovely little flower, but is also referred to in the Old Testament. Unfortunately, it's got a lot of corners and angles, which require more time than curves on the long arm. It took me 5 hours to complete the quilting. At $30/hour, that was $150! Ouch! If I'd used a really simple pantograph like Bumpity, it would have only taken me about half that time, but I really don't want to have to limit my creative expression because of cost. So I decided to see what I could do differently. Checking online, I found a woman who rents her long arm machine for $75 a day. She lives out in the country, over an hour's drive from here, but I drive that distance to get to Edmonton anyway when I rent at the long arm studio. I will probably be exploring that option with my next quilt. I'll have to provide my own thread and pantographs, but I'll be saving so much on the actual rental that it will be worth it. 
I hope this doesn't sound arrogant, but I think this is one of the prettiest quilts I've made. But, to keep me humble, I got some major puckers in the quilt when I did the quilting. I ripped out a couple, but didn't even notice the others until I got it home and was applying the binding. <sigh> However, at $30 an hour, I probably wouldn't have taken the time to rip them all out anyway!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Jacob's Ladder & Job's Tears

Remember that fabric I got in the mail a couple of weeks ago and I blogged about here. I didn't like the polka dot fabric, so bought an alternate fabric at my LQS - the light aqua in the pictures below. You'll see the polka dot fabric in a future project, but meanwhile I've started on Amy's quilt. Here are the first two blocks:
 
That's Jacob's Ladder on the left and Job's Tears on the right. The quilt is the Far Above Rubies quilt, and you can find the directions here. These two blocks were quite easy and worked up quickly. There are downloadable templates for all of the blocks in this quilt, but I'm not a big template fan, and only use them if I really need to, like the pink sections in the Job's tears block. For the light aqua sections in this block, I used the Recs tool from the Tri Recs ruler set. I did print out the templates just to measure and be sure I got the sizes right for the rest of the pieces. The template sheets also include a layout drawing and I used that to mark which fabric I was using in which spot. 
I'm really happy with how these fabrics look together. I can hardly wait to see what the whole quilt will look like. I just finished the quilt top for the Unbroken quilt and felt that it lacked that "wow factor" that I think these blocks have. It's still going to be a pretty quilt, but it just seems to lack that je ne sais quoi that gives it impact. It's a more scrappy quilt, so I don't know if it's the lack of cohesiveness or just the fabric choice that detracts from its eye appeal. I'm going into Sparrow Studioz to quilt it on Friday, so will probably share it next week and you can see what you think.Of course, I felt similarly about the Wild Mustangs quilt and I got a lot of compliments on that one. I believe it was more popular than the Law School quilt and I had thought it would be the opposite. The Law School quilt was so vibrant and colourful that I think I favoured that one more. I guess it's different strokes for different folks. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

So You Think You Can Quilt

I have a tendency to compose blog posts in my mind while I'm driving. Some of them never actually get posted, but some of my best thoughts come while I'm between here and the city. I was in the city a week or so ago and mentally working on this post on the way home. Remember the sampler quilt top I made when I reviewed that quilting book? Well, I was trying to remember the name of the book and what came to my mind was, "So You Think You Can Quilt." No, I knew that was not the book's title, but I decided that would be a good name for this quilt anyway. (You can find the original post here). It's a sampler quilt, constructed by following the directions in a "how to" quilt book. And when it came to the actual quilting part, I was putting to use the skills I learned in my machine quilting class. So I figured that was an appropriate name for this quilt. 
Here it is:
I confess I really didn't like that border on it. I intended for it to pick up the blues in one of the black fabrics, but it just didn't work like I wanted it to. 
I still need lots of practice quilting, but it's coming. I bought a couple of new stencils when I was in the city and decided to try using my Pounce for the first time. Not happy. The white chalk dust barely showed up on the black print fabric and not at all on the pink fabric. Am I doing something wrong? Maybe I need to try the blue or the pink pounce (though the pink wouldn't show up on the pink fabric either.  I tried to use my blue quilt marker, but it didn't show up on the black print either. So I resorted to tracing paper, which is not my favourite machine quilting method, but it worked. I did use a stencil and marking pen for quilting the border, however. 
Here's a closeup of some of the quilting:
Sorry, the camera flash washed it out quite a bit. I need to refine my camera skills. 
I chose to use a variegated pink 40 weight Signature thread. (I used that brand because it was what was available at my LQS). I really love variegated thread (and variegated yarn, for that matter). I'm not sure what the appeal is for me, but I choose to use it whenever I can. However, the blocks and fabrics in this quilt are too "busy" for the variegations to make a significant impact. It makes more sense to use a variegated thread in a quilt with more plain or solid fabrics, like the Law School quilt. Lesson learned. I will keep that in mind for next time. Though I suppose it also depends on the look I want to achieve. If I don't want the quilting to stand out and a variegated would blend in better, then I'd go with that. For this particular quilt, even against the black, the variegated pink doesn't show up that well. If I had wanted my stitching to really stand out, a solid bright pink probably would have worked better. But as I am still learning, I'm not so sure that I want my stitching to really stand out yet. 
I used a different quilting motif for each block and a border stencil for the border. I had to modify it slightly as it was a little wide for the border. On the sashing, I just made a zig-zag pattern using my walking foot. 
Here's the back:
I love this fabric. I wish I had more of it. This quilt is 30" square, so either a table topper or a cat quilt. I could use it as a wallhanging, but didn't put a hanging sleeve on.
And here's the fabric I bought at Fabricland:
I used to love the Pink Panther and with a purple background, I can't lose, especially since it was in the clearance section at $2.50 a metre. This is a flannel fabric and will become the backing on a flannel quilt. I bought what was left on the bolt.
I couldn't resist this one, especially since it was also $2.50 a metre. Unfortunately, what was left on the bolt was in two separate pieces - 1.4 metres and 1.6 metres, but I'm hoping I can make it work for a backing as well.  I also stopped in Michael's and looked at art supplies. I could have kicked myself as I forgot both my art supply list for my Craftsy course and my 20% off Michael's coupon. But I got back there a couple of days ago and remembered my coupon and list, plus I had another coupon for 40% off one item and an Airmiles coupon for 5x the Airmiles, so the second trip was worthwhile. They also sell one of those plastic tag gun thingies for quilt basting. Cheaper than the one at Fabricland. Have any of you ever used one of those? I figure it's got to be easier than pin basting. 
Since I had taken the live Machine Quilting Class, I decided to use my dubious quilting skills to finish this sampler from my online machine quilting class.
I have to admit that this looks kind of like a map - the purple is water and the orange is land. Here's a close up of what was supposed to be swirls:
It just wasn't coming together for me. And here's my stipling:
I don't know if free motion is ever going to work well for me. I was never really a doodler, even with pen and paper, so doodling with my sewing machine is even more of a challenge. Here's the back:
This one is only 24" square, so definitely a cat quilt. Actually, the cats have already been using it before I finished it. I had it folded up on a corner of the sewing table and that's where one of them would sleep when he/she wanted to keep me company, although they haven't been doing that since I moved the sewing stuff to the basement.
My buddy Phil, who is also a cat lover, once asked me if I'd made the cats any quilts yet. Now I can say yes. Actually, all of my samplers from the machine quilting class will be cat quilts as well. I just need to get my serger back from servicing so I can serge the edges. And hopefully, they will help keep the cat hair off the furniture. 
As it's Remembrance Day today, I watched the ceremonies in Ottawa today on TV. Here's one of my favourite videos to help keep our veterans in mind:

Monday, 27 October 2014

Today's Mail

Today is my X day (scheduled day off) as I stated in my blog yesterday, but I didn't go to the city as planned. I still had some excitement, however. In the mail I got a fabric parcel from Sew Sisters. It was the fabric I ordered for the graduation/apartment warming quilt for the daughter of friends. As I've stated previously, I hate paying full price for fabric. So I went to Sew Sisters' clearance page and chose the fabric I thought would be the most suitable and saved it to my shopping cart. I wanted to think about it before I made the purchase. I only waited a few days and, unfortunately, one of the fabrics was sold out when I went back to make my purchase. And I had to choose an alternate. 
Let's look at the fabric:
This is the backing fabric.
This is my "focus" fabric.
And these are the fabrics I was planning on using for the blocks, borders and binding. Unfortunately, I didn't think the polka dots would be that big. I'm not really a fan of polka dots and seeing this fabric when I pulled it out of the envelope did not make me happy. That was my "alternate" choice and it turned out worse than I had hoped. So I rummaged in my stash but did not find a coordinating piece big enough for what I needed. 
Then I went to my LQS and bought the fabric on the far right in the picture below.
This is a Michael Miller Fairy Frost, a fabric that I love. I had to pay full price for it, but desperate times demand desperate measures. I'm not sure when I'll make it to another fabric store and I need to get started on this quilt. Amy graduates in December and will be moving into her new apartment in early January (or sooner). So what do you think: the polka dots or the Fairy Frost? Here are all four fabrics with the focus fabric:
I could probably get away with using either, but that polka dot just sets my teeth on edge. Surprisingly enough when I used my Ruby Beholder, both the pink fabric and the polka dot fabric are light in value. The Fairy Frost is a medium.
And while I was at the LQS, I picked up some more sale fabric. These are sold in pre-cut metres, and it's 4 for $10. I was hoping to find something that I could use in Amy's quilt to replace the polka dots, but there was nothing in the right colour family. 
I needed the two centre prints for another quilt that's on my horizon and just picked the other two to make up the 4. There were also baskets of remnants for a dollar each, so I bought a few.
You never can tell when these will come in handy. I've bought some of their remnants before and have already put some to use in the Unbroken quilt I'm working on. And when I'm in need of a "fabric fix," I can buy a few of these without feeling guilty. :-)
I've also been doing some planning for the Australian Tailor quilt. Remember that I said I thought that it looked too somber and I wanted to quilt it with a brighter colour to make it a little more cheerful. With Remembrance Day coming soon and in view of the murder of two of our soldiers right here on Canadian soil in two separate incidents within the last week, I decided to quilt it with red thread and designed a quilt pattern with maple leaves and poppies. The backing and binding will probably be from the Stonehenge "Oh Canada" line. I was pricing this fabric on the Sew Sisters website. $13.99 a metre. Neither Hamels nor Mad About Patchwork, my two other favourite online Canadian fabric stores, carry it. When I was in my LQS, I looked at it there as well. Their selection is not as great and it's $18 a metre. I guess I'll be buying it at Sew Sisters. I don't know if I'll get the Australian Tailor's quilt done in time for Remembrance Day, but it will probably get done before Remembrance Day of next year. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Large Quilt

"Wild Mustangs of the Painted Desert" is my entry for the Large Quilt category in the Blogger's Quilt Festival. You can find the festival here:

AmysCreativeSide.com
And here's my quilt entry:
You can find the pattern for this quilt here, but I did make some major changes. Let me tell you this quilt's story. It started with the Painted Desert fabric being on sale at my LQS. I loved it and I wanted it, but I wanted to know what I would use it for so I could make sure I bought enough of each fabric for the purpose. That's the native prints I used in this quilt - the background, the backing, the first border and binding, and the red fabric used in the pattern of this quilt top. I bought the horse print separately for a different quilt, but didn't end up using it. And then I found that awesome border print, which I just had to have... Then I started googling. You know how fabric companies will often offer free quilt patterns to use their fabric in. That's how I found the Wild Horses quilt pattern and decided it was the pattern I would use the Painted Desert fabric in, along with the all-over horse print and the horse border print. I bought sufficient fabric to make the quilt and stored it away for a future project. I actually planned on making it for the rec room in my basement. 
Then one day I found out that a dear older couple in my church, who had been like parents to me and supported me through some tough times, were moving to BC. It was pretty depressing news, but I knew I needed to make them a quilt. And since they are horse lovers, the Wild Mustang quilt would be the most appropriate for them  I can always make a different quilt for my rec room, but I will never have this opportunity to celebrate my friendship in this way again. And they were quite thrilled with it.
In considering the construction of this quilt, I opted to increase the size of the basic square unit and not to use half-square triangles. When I'm using a large print fabric, I like to use large pieces so that you can get the full benefit of the print. So I opted for parallelograms instead. For those of you who don't remember your geometry terms, this is a parallelogram:
Squares and parallelograms, but not HSTs made up this quilt top. And LOTS of Y-seams! Here's the centre star:
And I just kept on going, adding more pieces to the centre.
And finally, here's the back of the quilt:
And by the way, I really don't know if there are wild mustangs in the Painted Desert, but it sounded good.

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Original Design Quilt

I'm entering the Law School quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival, Original Design category. You can find the Festival here:

AmysCreativeSide.com
First of all, here's the quilt:
Now the story behind this quilt... I have dear friends at church who are like parents to me (actually there were two couples who were like parents to me, but more about the other couple in my other Festival entry). Their 29-year-old granddaughter went through law school and became a lawyer. She was practicing family law, but hated the nastiness surrounding divorces, custody, support, etc. So she decided to go back to school and get her doctorate so that she could teach law. While working on her doctorate, she travelled with a friend to another province to attend a wedding. While there, she and this friend were on their way to the airport to pick up a third friend, when her small car was struck by a moose. As a result of this accident, this young woman's spinal cord was severed and she became a quadriplegic. When I heard the story, I not only began praying for her, but I also felt that she needed a quilt - a tangible reminder of God's great love for her through her trials. As I pondered on what kind of quilt I would create for her, I decided that I also wanted to encourage her, that in spite of what has happened to her, she can still reach her goal of getting her doctorate and teaching law school. So I came up with the idea of combining the Courthouse Steps block
and the Schoolhouse block
to create the Law School quilt.
Next, I had to decide on fabric. I wanted something bright and cheerful, something that would make the recipient happy to look at it. In my stash, I had a bright batik fat quarter bundle and felt that the vibrant colours would be perfect. I chose a muslin for the background fabric because I wanted something pretty plain and basic that would set off the vibrant colours of the batiks. I also decided to add muslin sashing as I didn't want the batiks in the schoolhouses right up against the batiks in the courthouse steps. I used one of the batiks for the cornerstones. I picked up the orange (looks more red in the picture) and purple fabrics for the borders at my LQS. But I still needed an appropriate backing and binding. As I had used two secondary colours for the borders, I decided to use the third secondary colour as the binding and bought a green batik. Here''s the back of the quilt:
I wanted to stay with the bright, cheerful colours and felt that this butterfly theme was very appropriate. Butterflies represent positive change, transformation, new life. Metamorphosis.
When I finally had the quilt top together, I wasn't happy with all of that "blank space" from the muslin so I picked a very bright variegated thread to do the quilting with. Unfortunately, the colour doesn't show up in this picture, but you can see the quilting: