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:
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:
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:

Show & Tell: More Moving & Rearranging

I confess: I skipped my final acrylic painting class this week. The instructor wasn't going to teach anything new and we were just going to finish up the paintings we had already started.  So I decided I'd rather finish at home - less hassle and mess than carting everything back and forth. Since my machine quilting class finished last week, that left me with no more evening classes at all, which freed my evenings to try and catch up at home. Not that I ever catch up. But I haven't done any crafting this past, which left me with a project of a different sort to share. 
Remember I am in the process of moving my office into my smallest bedroom? I finally managed to move all of these books up from the basement and arranged them on the shelves:
Then I moved the bookcase that they were on (another one like this one) upstairs. Right now, it's just sitting in the living room. The spare bedroom where it's going is also undergoing moving/rearranging. Since I had moved all of the furniture to one side of the room to shampoo rugs, I figured it was a good time to strip the wallpaper off the wall behind the bed and dresser, something I've been wanting to do since I bought this place in 2009 (only that one wall had wallpaper on it). Unfortunately, it left a residue on the wall, so I still have to sand/wash the wall to remove the residue, shampoo that side of the carpet, and move the furniture back before I can move the bookcase in. And I really need to get that done as I think one of my nephews will probably come for a visit next weekend and he'll be staying in that room. He's just moved to Alberta this past Monday and I haven't seen him yet. 
These two filing cabinets came up from the basement as well:
And yes, they are relatively full and relatively heavy. And awkward. But not as awkward as the bookshelves! And yes, I am moving these things all by myself since the cats won't help. 
And while I was moving things up, I was also moving things down:
This dresser and chest are currently empty. The two boxes are the contents of the chest: mostly fabric! And they weren't too heavy. I will use the dresser for my art and crocheting supplies. Plus any other craft and sewing supplies that I don't have a place for. You can see that I've already got my paintbrushes on top of the dresser. I still have to move the rest of my art supplies downstairs. They have been residing in my office while I was taking the acrylic painting course, but that made it kind of cramped as it is a small room. 
There are still lots of books that need to come up from the basement and in from the garage, plus some quilting/crafting/art books that need to go downstairs, but that will get done in time. Meanwhile, I really should change the oil in my snowblower before I need to use it. Tomorrow is my scheduled day off and I was planning on getting more done at home, but then I remembered that my serger is ready at the shop, so I will probably go in to get it. I hate to make a trip to the city for just one thing, so I'm considering hitting Delta Art Supplies as I have enrolled in Acrylic Painting: Basics & Beyond (w/ Michael Lynne) from Craftsy and I need a few more supplies. I retrieved my daughter's brushes from my ex-husbands house (she had taken art classes when she was in her teens), so I don't think I need any more of those.
I've only got a couple more weeks left on my inlinkz subscription so I figured I might as well use it while I've got it. So feel free to share your link to your current projects.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Show & Tell: Lace Enchantment Afghan

I decided I should have another Show & Tell linky party as I haven't had one in quite some time. I haven't been very enthusiastic about them any more as the most links I ever got was 4. Not exactly a great response. More often I got none. But then I'm not a quilting or crocheting celebrity or a celebrity of any kind. And I am not so well off that I can afford to offer giveaways on a regular basis. Although I really like giveaways - both winning and giving. However, I really hate to part with fabric. Or thread. Or books. And I don't have "connections" that will sponsor the giveaways. Anyway, I decided I would try another linky party before my inlinkz subscription expires in November.
As I was considering this linky party, I wasn't sure what I was going to share. The Unbroken quilt is not finished yet. I haven't put the lining in my Tunisian crochet bag, so it's not finished either (though the crochet part is). And I was sitting there pondering this with an afghan that I had just finished sitting in my lap. Duh! Yes, I finally finished the Lace Enchantment afghan. Here it is:
Somehow this afghan ended up quite a bit wider than it was supposed to, so I decided it could be a bit shorter than it was supposed to as well. It was plenty big enough already. The instructions said to end after a row 6 of the pattern. I had just started a row 4, so finished 4, 5 & 6 and fastened off. I think this was rated as an intermediate pattern. It had a 6 row pattern repeat, so it was a little more challenging to do while watching a video, which is how I usually crochet. I had to make sure I knew which row I was on and double check what the pattern was for that row. As a result, it took me longer to complete than an easier pattern, such as the Firecracker Throw. (You can see my version of it in this post). I'm going to try to resist the temptation to start a new project and finish one of the other projects already in progress. It'll be easier to keep my house tidy and organized if I don't have random totebags of crocheting projects everywhere.
I haven't yet shared some of my latest finds at my LQS:
First a note that Mystery was not found at my LQS - LOL. If you've followed my blog at all, you know that as soon as I put any fabric on the floor, he has to be right there. I'm kind of surprised, but very happy, that he didn't try to get on the afghan. My cats are not declawed and yarn catches on claws very easily, so I try to keep them off the afghans as much as possible. They get pretty insulted that they're not allowed on my lap if I'm either covered with or working on one.
All of the items on top of the fabric came from a basket labelled $3 each. That's right - I got an ergonomic 60 mm rotary cutter for $3, plus two extra blades for it at $3 each. Unfortunately, it's not a common brand (Martelli) and apparently only uses its own brand of blades. However, I did find them on, so I can replace them there when I need to. I prefer not to pay shipping at all, but I'd rather ship from within Canada if possible. I'm not about to run around or call around to every LQS I can find to see if they sell them. Even if I couldn't find the blades, at $3, I could just consider it disposable when I use up the blades I have. The other things I got from the $3 basket are a quilting pattern, a 3-1/2 inch square ruler and a cutting mat scraper. I already have one of these scrapers, but an extra one will come in handy, especially at that price.
As for the fabric in the picture (purchased at two separate times), I'm assuming they're bolt ends, end of the fabric line, etc. Full metres (that's 39.37 inches, for those of you not on the metric system) are 4 for $10, half metres are 4 for $5. There are 8 of each in this picture, all good quality quilting cotton. At that price, maybe I should buy some more and offer it in a giveaway!
Finally, a quilting work in progress:
As you can see, I haven't sewn the rows together yet. This is the Australian Tailor's Quilt found in this book:
I love this book because I love quilting, history and learning about different cultures. This book has all three. I was upset because my copy went missing for awhile (too many moves, still not everything unpacked, moving furniture and stuff from room to room...), but found it again when I was looking for something else. (Right now the quarter inch foot for one of my sewing machines is missing, but that's small enough to have gotten sucked up by a vacuum cleaner :-()  I almost bought another copy on Amazon before I found it. Now that I've found it, I'm hoping to get this quilt finished. The background information for this quilt is that during the Great Depression in Australia, thrifty quilters utilized tailor's suiting samples to make quilts. The directions in the book tell how much fabric to purchase, but I actually had some suiting samples to make mine from, so mine is pretty authentic! I have to decide what I'm going to do with borders, binding and backing. I've got lots of samples left, but most of them are dark, so won't provide much contrast. I have an old sheet that I'm considering for the backing. I bought it at a yard sale because it was the duplicate of one my mother had. Mom passed away in 1998, so I'm sentimental about that sheet. On the other hand, I do have a lot of samples left, so could also make a pieced backing with them. As for the batting, I'm thinking of going with a wool since the primary fibre in the samples is wool. At least I'm assuming so - the tailor's samples I lucked into didn't come with content labels, but most good quality men's suits are wool, aren't they? Hmm, maybe there were some content labels many moons ago. I think I recollect peeling some stickers off some of them. Yes, I did forget to mention that I started this quilt years ago. How many years? Not sure, but it was while I was still with my husband and we split in 2006. So, it's high time to get this quilt finished. Actually, this is not the only pre-divorce WIP that I have. As the marriage deteriorated, I felt less and less like pursuing my hobbies. Thank God those days are over and it's all water under the bridge now. Back to the Australian Tailor's Quilt, the instructions say to tie it with wool yarn. While that may be more authentic, I don't really like tied quilts. So I'm considering quilting it with Aurifil Lana. I have one spool in a beige, but don't really want that colour for this quilt. Lana comes in some awesome colours. Alex Veronelli generously provided me with colour cards for both Lana and Mako. The Lana comes in some beautiful tweedy-looking variegations that I think will work well. The problem is finding Lana. And, as mentioned, I prefer dealing with Canadian vendors because of the shipping (and patriotism, too). My LQS doesn't sell Aurifil at all. Johnson's Sewing Centre, my Aurifil dealer in Edmonton, only sells Mako 50. Then I remembered Tristan Italian Threads, a vendor in BC that is clearing out all of its Aurifil thread. Why, I have no idea. They're now selling other Italian threads that I have never heard of outside of this website, but the Aurifil is on at bargain basement prices. Very little selection left in Mako 50 (mostly reds and oranges), but still lots of choices in other weights. And Lana. So, if you're looking for some Aurifil, hurry on over to Tristan's website and stock up! They ship internationally as well. Another great Canadian vendor for Aurifil is ByTowne Threads: good selection and prices.
Now that I've yakked on long enough, it's your turn to share your links of what you've been up to.

Show & Tell Guidelines
  1. Link up any recent post that features your current creative project. And it can be a work in progress as well.
  2. Please remember to link to your actual blog post, not your main blog page, so others don't have to search.
  3. Somewhere in your blog post, you must link back to my blog or put the 'Show & Tell' button in your sidebar. 
  4. Please don't just add your link and go. Check out a few of the other links and comment. The best idea is to check out the 3 or 4 links just previous to yours. That way every link will get visited. And maybe you'll pick up a few new followers along the way.
  5. You don't have to follow me to post your link on my blog, but that would be much appreciated.
  6. Have fun. This is a party after all.
Here's my button:
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