Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!!

Bonnie Hunter has challenged those following her blog and Quiltville Open Studio facebook page to post some Christmas quilts (or Hanukkah, Solstice, Winter).  We are linking up with her blog starting tomorrow, Christmas Eve.

Here are a few of my Christmas quilts:

Let's start with the oldest...the Christmas stockings I made my kids a few years ago:

Next is a Christmas "Magic Tile" quilt which I have now sold.  So glad I got a photo of it before it went.

This one was a gift for my niece  few years back.  It was a 'cheater' panel with chenille borders and red cornerstones in quilting cotton:

This one is also a few years old and was also gifted.  The pattern is called "Warm Wishes"

This next one is a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt from a few years ago called "Carolina Christmas".  I can't remember which of her the books the pattern ended up in but I modified it only slightly by breaking up the squares with some sashing.  This one is king sized and lives on our bed during the Christmas season:

Closeup of the quilting which is now nice and krinkly because of washing it.  I love when that happens.  I used Hobbs Wool batting in this one.  It's nice and toasty warm.

And lastly, is my Christmas Celtic Solstice quilt.  I did two, a king sized one in brown, blue, rust and light blue/white and this one using Christmas fabric.  Originally this fabric was going to be a second Carolina Christmas but I lost steam on doing a second one of those.  The fabric worked perfectly for a Christmas Celtic Soltice quilt.  I modified it slightly by simplifying the blocks.  I wanted to get it done!  So happy to have this one ready for Christmas 2014:

Merry Christmas from our corner of the world in Victoria, BC Canada where we are going to be enjoying a green Christmas!    Mavis

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt from Quiltville 2014 - Clue 3

Moving right along on our winter's mystery by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville, my guess is that these units are for the border. 

These were super speedy. Once again I used my 2" strip die on my Accuquilt GO, sewed the strips/stratas together, put them right sides together and then laid them 90 degrees folded on the strip die to subcut the units. All that remained was seeing them together and pressing. 

I'm loving this mystery quilt so far, especially since I've been able to keep up!  With surgery looming on Jan 19 I'd love to have my top done before then. 

After some Christmas baking I'll see if I have any energy left for clue 4!

Until then happy Saturday!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt from Quiltville 2014 - Clue 2

So far I'm keeping up with the mystery clues as they are released.  I got all 100 broken dishes units done, pressed and stacked into piles of ten and set aside.

This week we got to play with black, white and pink.  It was like enjoying a bag of Licorice Allsorts candy.

Bonnie Hunter always goes the extra mile showing multiple ways of approaching the cutting and piecing.  Clue 2 was no different.  I ended up doing her third piecing option which gave me the opportunity to use my 2 1/2" strip die.  Pictured below is 2 1/2" strips which I cut in pink and black then folded, placed on a 90 degree angle and then passed through the Accuquilt cutter on the 2 1/2" strip die which yielded me a bunch of 2 1/2" squares.  Oh how I love my Accuquilt GO! 

There is often talk about fabric waste using the Accuquilt GO.  I don't think so!

Just a few pieces on the sides.  The rest is all useable, perfectly square 2 1/2" squares.

I also used the Accuquilt GO to cut white strips at 2 1/2" and then used my ruler and rotary cutter to cut them down to the required 2 1/2 x 4 1/2" rectangles.  From there I had to draw the diagonal line on the pink and black squares so they could be added to the rectangles...like this:

Don't they make YOU crave licorice allsorts??

One of the benefits of option 3 of clue 2 (this method) is that you gain some bonus half square triangles.  Here is my growing stack.  I am using them for leaders and enders while constructing the blocks.

They are  stored in a little treasure box that we inherited fro my mother-in-law.  I love this box!

Come to think of it, wouldn't that make a lovely quilt design?  Hmmmmm.

Thank you Bonnie Hunter for another great winter mystery quilt and for the opportunity to join the "Linky" party.  To continue on the journey of reading through the linked articles, click here to go back to Bonnie's post:  http://quiltville.blogspot.ca/2014/12/mystery-monday-link-up-part-2.html

Until Friday...clue 3...I've got 79 units done for clue 2...21 to go.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt from Quiltville - 2014 - Step 1

I always look forward to Bonnie Hunter's winter mystery released on the Friday after the American Thanksgiving.  Since October when the yardage requirements and colour cards were released, I've been shopping my stash and augmenting with a few smaller bits of yardage to round out what I have.

I've also been analyzing some of Bonnie's patterns to see what are the most common components making up her blocks.  I've done this because I want to add some useful Accuquilt dies to my collection.  I have found my Accuquilt GO radically cuts down the cutting time for quilts.  And I really want to use it for this mystery quilt.  I concluded that there are many, many strips in various widths as well as squares in various sizes.  What I did find is that she commonly uses 2 1/2" strips and 2" strips to cut sub units from with the Easy Angle ruler (which I own).  I knew I couldn't go wrong with these two dies.

Clue 1 was released on Friday.  I was able to use my Value Die that came with my GO cutter for the 2 1/2" squares and the 2 1/2" half square triangles.  Here is my journey through Clue 1.  I'm not done yet.  I've got all my 'twosies' done but still have to join them to make the broken dishes.

Here is my value die.  I used the bottom two to create the broken dishes units for Step 1.
 I sub-cut my pinks and aquas right sides together and stacked them in 6s onto the half square triangle section of the die. It was not exact sizes like a regular rotary cutting job, but just enough to cover the blades.  I left the 4 1/2" die empty.  I added the black and yellow for the squares on the bottom of the die using the same principle of 'just a bit bigger than the size of the die".  This is my rough cut:

Sub-cutting to cover blades of half square triangles on the GO die.

Here is the sub-cut now covering the blades and ready to cut.

 There is very little waste this way, as you can see in the picture below.  

Here is my first test block.  Perfect 4 1/2".  LOVE my Accuquilt GO because of the accuracy.  No slipping rulers.  No "oopsies".  :)

And here is the back of the block with the center swirled but Bonnie mentioned last night that it creates bulk on the triangles to press this way and I have to agree.  I will be pressing mine open I think.

Here are some pictures of our Bonnie Hunter Quiltville Mystery Launch 2014.  There were twelve of us in our group working on the mystery.  I brought some Grand Illusion colour appropriate cupcakes .

The girls:

 My chain pieced half square triangles at the ironing board:

And that folks was the adventures of Step 1.  I've got some work to do before Friday to get my blocks put together but am already eagerly anticipating Step 2 and wondering if I've chosen wisely with my dies and whether I'll have what I need for cutting Step 2.  We'll see.
Here is the link back to the linky party on Bonnie's blog:  http://quiltville.blogspot.ca/2014/12/mystery-monday-link-up-part-1.html

Until Friday then....


Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's all about the foot!

I had a major ah-ha moment last night.  I'm quilting this at the moment.

Originally, I wanted to hand quilt it.  I chose some Warm & Natural cotton batting because I thought it was a good choice for hand quilting.  I took the quilt top, batting and backing to a longarm quilter to be basted so that I could manhandle the quilt during the hand quilting process without the basting taking a beating.

I wanted to go with this swirly stencil pattern on the quilt:

but after some advice from an online hand quilting group I decided that was too ambitious and that a simple outline quilting pattern would be better.  And so I begun.  After one block I realized this was a mistake.  I should have done better research on my batting.  It was not the 'smooth as butter' experience I had heard about from other quilters.  It was like pulling a needle through concrete.  No way.  Not doing it.  Too much pain and frustration and that's not the goal!  I decided that I would machine quilt this one and enjoy the hand quilting process on another simple pattern with less intersections and humps and bumps.
I started stitching in the ditch but the walking foot wasn't happy.  And I wasn't happy.  I didn't want a frustrating experience.  When all was said and done I decided that a simple meander is what I was going to do.  The pattern is so busy that I didn't want anything to detract from the colours and the block interplay.

So I removed the walking foot, dropped the feed dogs on the machine and added this closed toe darning foot:

See the bottom hole is totally enclosed and metal?  Well this is what I use for standard free motion quilting (FMQ) so I assumed this would be the ticket!  Nope.  It was another exercise in frustration.  It kept stopping at the intersections and my quilting was inconsistent because I felt like I was forcing the foot over the humps.  Argh!  What's a girl to do!!??  I thought a couple of times when frustrated that I should have just had it long arm quilted and called it done.  Quilted by cheque!

And then I had a thought...what if I switched to my other FMQ foot that came as a basic tool with my machine (Janome 6500).

The difference was immediately noticeable!!  The plastic foot hopped right over the seams so much better than the metal small circle closed toed foot.  I can't believe it took me that long to figure it out.  Maybe it's obvious to everyone else but the penny sure dropped for me at that moment.

Here's my quilt under the foot:

You can see the long arm basting stitches more than you can see my free motion stitches but here is a picture of the quilt using the closed toed metal foot and I can see the difference in the flow of the meander stitches.  These look jerky to me, not rolling and smooth like mine normally do.

You can see how the thread I chose doesn't stand out very much and that's what I wanted.  I chose Superior Bottom Line in a light grey.  I've learned this year that grey thread is a good choice for a disappearing act on the front of the quilt.

I'm almost done quilting this top.  I was working on the borders last night which were a different quilting pattern.  I'll upload more pictures when the quilt is finished.  I'm going to have to go and cut some binding because soon enough this baby will be on my lap for the final touches...hand binding, which I truly do enjoy.

As for my hand quilting, I need to do more research on the best batting to use.  I've heard that poly is the best which is encouraging news because it's also cheaper than Warm & Natural.

I've learned some valuable lessons on this project.  Assess your tools!  Assess your batting.  Don't make assumptions.  Do your research.

I'm about to go online and find what I can on this foot because this whole exercise in choosing feet has made me think about the untapped potential of my tools.

I've got one of those in the package of feet and have never used it.  Maybe I'll learn something new today too!

Happy Sunday everyone!  Until next time,


Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Hexie Bug Has Bitten

I'm not usually what is called a "late adopter" in the behavioural science arena, but there have been a few times where I've pondered, and pondered again, and resisted starting projects that everyone seems to be on the bandwagon of.  I've preferred to stay with my current projects, leaning towards scrappy quilting but enjoying a variety of styles and methods, and not adding yet another new project to the pile.

The Accuquilt GO cutter was one of those things I resisted thinking it was just a gimmick (and yes now I have one and love it!).  English Paper Pieced Hexies is another one, and Dear Jane quilts yet another.  While I am still firmly entrenched in the "I'll never do a Dear Jane Quilt" camp, I am now among the thousands of people worldwide who are working on a hexie project.

By way of background...I am the proud owner of this antique quilt:

I think this was the beginning of my love affair with the hexagon.  I found this one in an antique mall in North Carolina. I cherish it.  It is all hand pieced, hand quilted and threadbare in places.

My next foray into hexagons was this quilt which is an original design:

And then a One Block Wonder which I started in 2013 at a Retreat but not yet finished:

And my Wild Child quilt:

Seeing a common theme?  All of the hexagon quilts so far are done by machine.  I guess I just never considered that I would have the time or patience to work on a hand sewn quilt project of that magnitude.

But then, in a twinkle of an eye, and more to do with the fact that I'm awaiting hip surgery and needing a sanity project not requiring a sewing machine during recovery, I converted.

It also has to do with the fact that I love the thought of slowing down and enjoying the rhythm of contemplative sewing.  Keeping my hands busy somehow releases my mind and heart.  I get some of my best insights while doing something else, be it driving, walking (when I could walk more than a block) or sewing.  It's just the way I'm wired.  And I'm good with that.

Here is the quilt that captivated me enough to consider the EPP (English Paper Piecing) hexie world:

Grit has offered this pattern free of charge on her blog:  La Passion Hexagon Quilt and it is nothing short of amazing.  And there is a facebook group where there is all the inspiration you could every need or desire:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/231657087016624/

I love Grit's blue and green but decided for my colours to use lots of different ones to look like a mosaic tile floor.  My idea was inspired by this hexie project by Brigitte Schlomer of Germany.  I saw hers on the facebook page.

There are as many approaches to hexie quilting as there are hexie quilts (ok maybe not THAT many approaches but you get my idea!).  So I asked my friends, as some of them will be doing La Passion as well.  My friend Kelli suggested buying the Fiskars hexagon punch because buying the papers is extremely cost prohibitive.  $7 for 100 around here and there are 17,250 hexagons (I think that's what Grit counted) in this quilt.  You do the math.  Can't afford to spend that much on just the hexagon papers.  I'd rather spend it on fabric.

Back to tools.  Then I saw this:

Pure genius!  Way to go Accuquilt!!  The top six hexagons on this die are for cardstock (2 stacks at a time) and the bottom six are for fabric.  And bonus - the top six hexagons are the exact size of business cards, so if you have any outdated business cards, that you've already paid for (!!!) then the paper is basically free.  And that is cool.

I think I prefer the Fiskars punch for the papers when you are doing a bunch to make a kit...like I did for a recent trip.  In fact, I cut two kits, one for me and the bigger size for my sister, who I am trying to get hooked on this as well (mission accomplished by the way).

Here are a few photos of my progress to date:

Cutting the bigger hexagons from card stock for my sister's kit

The centre starting point of my quilt

Oh so much fun!!  I did these individual flowers before attaching them to the centre piece.  Most of these were done on a flight home from the East coast of Canada to the West coast where I live.

I know it's a huge project and yes, it's quite daunting but this is a project with no deadline.  If it takes my entire remaining lifetime to get it done, then so be it!  Then what will remain is an heirloom for family and that's what's important to me.   Kinda of like the antique quilt I bought in North Carolina, maybe someday someone will have mine after I'm gone and will cherish it as much as I cherish the one I found.

Until next time,


Sisterly love...

My sister loves my hobby.  And I love my sister.

Last year she asked me if I would make her a quilt for her bed.  She has a king sized bed.  We talked about designs; we talked about colour. She wanted shabby chic and she wanted something traditional.  "How about a log cabin?", I suggested.

I played in EQ7 (Electric Quilt design software) to give her somewhat of a visual of what I was thinking (top right block is turned the wrong way in this diagram but this will give you an idea of what I was trying to accomplish).  She loved this one.

Then the journey began:

A little shopping!  I started at The Cloth Shop in Vancouver at Granville Island where I found some fat quarters.  What a wonderful day that was.  My son was at the medical day unit at Children's Hospital for the day so I decided I would walk down to Granville Island (with that store in mind of course) and then I took a taxi back to the hospital before we headed back to Victoria.  Sometime thereafter I ended up getting more of the shabby chic fabrics from Satin Moon Quilted Garden.  I did use some stash as well.  The scrappier the quilt the more charming, I think. Even though I used yardage I really tried to mix up the colours to provide a scrappy feel.

I used the Accuquilt Log Cabin die for cutting and I LOVE IT!  It reduced the cutting time by a big chunk and saved my shoulder from a lot of pain from too much rotary cutting. 

The logs are 1 1/2" wide and I used all of the logs except the longest one.  I set those ones aside  in the event that I needed a few shorter logs that could be subcut as needed to complete my blocks with enough colour variety.

And now for some sewing...I used my treasured featherweight for piecing.

This quilt took me a few months from start to finish with one interruption to work on a wedding quilt with a deadline in July.  But when all was said and done, I surprised myself at how quickly this quilt went together.  I know I gained some valuable time by using the Accuquilt die for cutting the fabric.  Chain piecing helped too.  I sewed inside.  I sewed outside.  I used my clothesline as a design wall (that was a fun day) as I put my rows together.

Once the top was done I sent this quilt out for long arm quilting by Theresa Harbidge and then it was back to me for binding.  I love the binding process.  I just have a label to do and then it will be off to my sister.

Ta da!!

I love my hobby too, because it allows me to give gifts of love to others. There you go little sister!  All yours!

Until next time,