Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Prep and Quilting

Merry Christmas.  Hope you are more prepared than I am for the Holidays.  We're still getting ready for our Christmas Eve open house.  Not sure how many people will be here, but I'm preparing for 40 (just in case).

That means the whole house has to be company ready.  Yeah...sure.  I'm confiscating eyeglasses as people enter.  For those that don't wear glasses I have some for them to wear.  Much easier than really cleaning.  Takes less time as well.

The food will be the standard snack food:  chips and dips, nachos and salsa, meat and cheese trays, veggie platter with dip, and a few items from M&M Meats so we have something from the oven.  Add hot chocolate, coffee/tea and hot apple cider.  I really don't like those "c" words (cooking & cleaning)

There were no photos of Christmas decorations at the malls this year.  I really enjoyed getting to the malls early so I could take photos to post last year.  But this year our local mall, Londonderry, is renovating.  They've tried to make it festive, but it's a loosing battle.  Next year the decorations should be great.

With a sick kitty and my father-in-law having health issues we've spent more time at the vets and hospital than at the malls.  In fact, other than grocery shopping I really haven't been shopping.  Good thing I got that order from Amazon or there wouldn't be much under the tree.

My sewing/quilting has come to a standstill.  I use the sewing room as a prep station for all the food/dishes/beverage storage for Christmas Eve.  My huge cutting/pressing table is great for this.  So the room is now "reasonably" clean.  Plus all sharp objects have been put away in case there are any little visitors.

 I should have been able to get the last of the flying geese quilts finished.  Unfortunately about 1/3 of the quilting had to be removed because of poor tension.  That took a lot of time.  Then there were holes in the backing to repair.  Now to figure out what went wrong.  Make the machine adjustments.  Then get the quilt back onto the frame.  I doubt it will get finished before the end of the year.

So I didn't meet all the goals I had set for myself this year in the quilting area.  My block of the month quilt was done on time.  I finished all the kits that I had stashed away at the beginning of the year (of course there are new ones now - next year's challenge?).  But I didn't get a top quilted a month.  It would have been great to start 2015 fresh with no unfinished quilts.  My New Year's Resolution?  Get all those tops quilted and cut down the scraps to usable sizes and organized.  Oh...and stay on top of the new block of the month that my husband has given me for Christmas.  This one is a six month project.

I did manage to get a lot of string bags made for the women shelters.  With 10 boxes and huge bags of fabric "gifted" to me from former co-workers and relatives who were downsizing, there was a lot of fabric.  I think it's time to say I give up and bring what hasn't been made into bags to the rest of the volunteer sewers to work on.  That would empty about a third of my sewing room!

After Christmas it's back to vacation planning.  So be prepared to be bored with updates!  And hopefully some news on quilting progress.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2015!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Spiced Eggnog Coffee!

It's back!  Several of the Second Cup stores have the Spiced Eggnog coffee in for Christmas enjoyment.  My dear sharp eyed son found it and made sure he would be nominated "Son of the Year' by buying some for his dear old Mom.

Last year I had been told by a local Second Cup store that they were no longer making this coffee available.  I was given an e-mail address to send in a comment/complaint.  The response I received was that there were several stores in Eastern Canada that still had a supply and that I could order it from them.  Then I was given a gmail address to send my credit card number to.  Yeah....right....that's going to happen.

I was fortunate enough to find some eggnog coffee at a local Winners store.  Not Spiced Eggnog, but Eggnog.  Well this year Winners is carrying Spiced Eggnog by Java Works.  $7 for 12 oz.  I haven't done a taste comparison between the Second Cup and the Java Works.  But I'm a happy gal knowing my Eggnog Coffee needs are being met this year.

For those who are wondering if eggnog milk works...it does but way more sugar etc then flavoured coffee has.
That's my update for now....off to drink coffee (who needs to sleep?) and get some sewing done!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Welcome to the North Pole - Finished

One of my 2013 Christmas presents from my husband was membership to a quilt block of the month club.  Each month I would go to the local quilt shop.  The owner had a demonstration on how to make the different blocks and we were given the fabric required to make it.

Fast forward 11 months and below is the final product.  More or less.
I plan on adding some more glitter to the snow.  I love ice crystals sparkling in fresh snow.  And darn it...this is my quilt so I'm gluing on glitter to the snow!  I will have to wait until after December 19th though.  That's when all the quilters who worked on this block of the month will bring their quilts to the quilt shop for a "show and tell".
I do not want glitter spread all over the quilt shop.  No one would thank me for that!  So the quilt is as finished as it's going to be until after the grand reveal on the 19th.

I have a feeling (or is it wishful thinking?) that there will be a new block of the month club membership under the tree for me this Christmas.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another quilt finished

Another quilt based on the flying geese block is finished.  Just don't let the quilt police see it.   I get creative when it comes to disguising some problem areas.  A number of other quilters have reached out to me on this topic.  I refuse to mention their names and the quilt police will never get any information from me! 

On this quilt there was one spot where the quilting tension was awful.  The stitching had to be pulled out.  But the quilt was off the frame by the time I noticed it.  Since the area was close to the edge of the quilt, that's where the quilt label went.  (I've used a quilt label to hide puckers in the backing in the past as well...don't tell.)

I always wash quilts after they are finished.  I want to ensure that there is nothing awry.  Sometimes some quilting comes out.  Guess I didn't secure the stitching on that row very well.  At other times it's a seam in the top that gives way.  Probably that fabric that wasn't the greatest quality and it frayed.  Or maybe my 1/4" seam...wasn't a 1/4".  What ever the reason for the problem, a wash and dry brings issues to light prior to the quilt being gifted. 

On this quilt it was the binding.  It looked just fine at first glance.  But a closer look led me to believe that the edge of the top might start to fray and pull out from under the binding.  So a decorative machine stitch was added all the way around to hold everything down properly.

Not so long ago a member of the quilt police reprimanded me for machine stitching the binding on a quilt.  I was informed that in all cases, the proper way is to hand stitch.  (If this particular quilter washed her quilts prior to giving them away, she would change her tune.)

Because I wanted to feel good about my quilting I e-mailed several of the on line groups that I belong to.  And these quilters came through.  They machine stitch binding and use decorative stitches to secure "ify" seams.  They also use labels to cover up problem areas.  Add appliqué to hide points that don't match.  You name it, these quilters have done it.  And they made me feel great about the things I do so I can enjoy the final product.  A finished quilt!  Thank you....and your secrets are safe with me!  The quilt police don't know my pass words.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Back packs "almost" finished

It's been a load of fun creating six new back packs for an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World.

The theme is Disney Animal Kingdom - The 2 Day Park.

Animal Kingdom is brushed off as a half day park by many.  There are 3 major rides and two shows that most people go to.  Then they take off to one of the more popular parks.  And they miss so much.  There is no way anyone can take in all this park has to offer in a half day.  Hence the title "The 2 Day Park".

All six bags are finished up to the length of the straps.  They have been made to look like they've been through a lot.  There are threads hanging, patches on some of them.  They look rough.  Think of what something would look like when the gorillas are finished play with it.  That's the what these bags look like.

All that is left is to have their new owners try them on, measure how long the straps should be and then secure the straps at that length.  Then they are done!  This could be a long process as there are currently no plans for trip planning visits with everyone.  Hopefully soon.  This project needs to be finished!  There are more projects to have fun with.....

This pack is mine.  It lists all the Disney podcasts I listen to.
Notice the little lizard at the bottom.  There is one on each of the packs.  These little guys are all over the parks and are fun to watch.

 The six back packs

 There is a pocket at the back of each pack sunglasses so they don't get lost or damaged

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sidewalk and sewing update

It's been over a month again since I last posted.   And it has been a fun month.

Volunteer sewing started up again.  Yeah!  The ladies made 63 draw string bags by the time I left.  These will go to one of the shelters.  Those staying there have something to hold the tooth brushes, toothpaste, hair brushes etc.  Some arrive at the shelters with absolutely nothing. 

Next thing I want to comment on is about the fence across the side walk.  This side walk goes through a local school playground.  The fence was to stop kids from riding bikes out onto a busy avenue.  It worked, but it also forced everyone using the side walk to walk off the side walk and into the dirt to get around the fence.  Or walk into snow.  Or mud.  Depending on the season.  Loads of fun when you are pushing a wheel chair, stroller, walker, riding a scooter, hurrying to catch one of the buses that go on this busy avenue....you get the picture. 

When I saw a care giver pushing a wheel chair get stuck in the mud, I contacted the city.  The gentleman who got back to me could not promise a start or finish date.  Well, it started this morning and it's finished. 

A sign has been posted telling bikers to slow down.  I'm sure hoping that a sign will be enough to prevent an accident.  I met up with the foreman who was in charge.  I suggested a staggered gateway like others we have in the area.  These gates allows people to use the side walk but slows down bikes.  I was told that if the school has issues with the removal of the fence they can contact the city.  Something would be then be "worked out". ( Or if a tragedy occurs.)  But until that happens, the warning sign will have to do.

On to sewing.  I have a quilt on the frame that is coming along slowly.  The Bailey (knock on wood) is behaving perfectly.  I have so many quilt tops to get quilted, I had best get busy.   This is hard, because it's been so nice and I've been trying to get more walking in before the snow and ice slows me down.

There are 7 back packs being made at the moment.  These are for another Walt Disney World trip in 2015.  The theme for these packs is "Disney Animal Kingdom - The 2 Day Park".  This is in response to the morons who refer to Animal Kingdom as "the half day park".  They go on the 3 main rides, maybe watch one of the theatre shows and say that's all there is.  Ask them what is on the trails, exhibits, or about the different animals.  They have no clue.  Idiots!  Think I have an attitude about this park?  Yeah, maybe.  It's the favourite park for most of the people going with me and certainly not held in disdain by any of the others.

In order to get the embroidery done on the packs, I purchased a Brother Embroidery machine.  So much fun!  I'm hoping the little ones in the neighbourhood get into dinosaurs like most little boys do.  I purchased a bunch of dinosaur designs and am itching to embroider some t-shirts for them.

The Welcome to the North Pole block of the month is progressing nicely.  So far each month's blocks have been finished before it's time to pick up the fabric for the next blocks.  Although I confess to working on a couple of them on the last day of the month.

Here's hoping my next post will have some photos of completed projects.  I need to feel that something is off the to do list!

Monday, August 18, 2014

More lovely non sewing weather

It's been lovely here.  Just ask the mosquitoes.  This is the worst August in 10 years in Edmonton according to city officials.   For having too many mosquitoes that is.  Other than that the weather has been wonderful!

The very hot weather is working it's magic with my night scented evening stocks.  They look so scraggly during the day.  Come night, they open up and release the most heavenly scent.  No wonder the cats like to bend the stocks over to make a bed to lay down on.  I would do so as well if I could stand those pesky mosquitoes.

I've upped my walking goals to 12,000 steps at the minimum every day.  With the great weather and having to keep moving or get bit, I've been logging in quite a bit more than that.  I'll miss the walking once winter comes and the side walks are too icy.

Speaking of side walks....the city did get back to me about the fence and side walk issue.  While there is no start or finish date, the problem will be addressed.  I'm just hoping it will be before the snow comes.  We now have several neighbours in the area that are using wheelchairs.  Having to go off the side walk, into the mud or snow to get anywhere will be an issue for them.

I did finish the wallet I mentioned in my last post.  And it's cute plus very usable.

It was fun to make and I'm hoping to find time to make a few more.
And does it ever hold a lot!  Even my cell phone and my card case.

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer! 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's been over a month!

I'm going to blame the lovely summer weather for not posting more often.  Who wants to be on the computer when we can be outside sleeping on the swing.  Or walking in the sun.  I for one have been really enjoying the summer.

I had plans of taking all my scraps outside and cutting them down to usable sizes while enjoying the weather.  Good intentions are not able to keep me from the heavy gravity area on that swing!  Although I did get some binding stitched on a quilt a couple of days ago while sitting outside.

There are those who are having problems dealing with this heat though.  Especially one dear friend who has shingles.  I can't imagine what she's going through.  When I had shingles it was winter.  That was bad enough.  Having it in summer!  I'm praying for a speedy recovery for her.  And here's a recommendation for everyone.  Get the immunization for shingles!  Did you know that you can get it more than once?  Yep.  Get that shot!

Enough of the public service announcement and back to the sewing room.  I'm currently trying to make a wallet.  I should be finished this weekend and can't wait.  The wallet I'm currently using does not have a place for coins.  I must be fussy because I can't find one I like in the local stores (at least not at a price I'm willing to pay). 

There is one more finished quilt in my collection of flying geese quilts.

I guess the cats are not impressed with it.  They didn't even give it a test nap.

On the FitBit side of things.  I've walked a minimum of 10,000 steps every day since February 10th.  Probably time to up my goal to 12,000.  So the challenge is to see if I can do 12,00 steps every day until Halloween.  Then I'll up it again.

The City of Edmonton has been hearing from me.  First it was a fence in a school field that was broken.  The top metal rail was broken and sticking out at about 3 feet off the ground onto a side walk.  I could just imagine a child riding a bike into it and impaling themselves.  One e-mail to the city and it was fixed within 48 hours.  That was a pleasant surprise.

Today I sent the city this photo:
This fence across a busy side walk forces people to walk into the mud, snow and water.  The fence was put there to keep people from riding their bikes straight onto a busy avenue into traffic.  I'm sure it saves lives.  But there are other ways to keep people safe.  A staggered fence would work:

The side walk is used by several hundred people a week.  It's in an elementary school field. Next to this school field is a shopping centre. Across the avenue from the field is another school.  Plus there are dozens of people who use the bus stops on this avenue daily to get to and from work.  I'm sure they appreciate having to wade through the mud in their business clothes.

It will be interesting to see what the city's response will be to this concern.  I don't expect a response as fast as the one regarding the broken fence.  This will be a lot more work and expense.  So it would be completely understandable if it takes some time.  Just as long as it does get fixed eventually. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Working on those quilting goals

A number of us on the hearts2hands group listed our quilting goals for the year back in January.  Then totally forgot about it.  At least I did.  When I uploaded a photo of a finished quilt to the group's albums last week, I decided to check the database.  Oops, I forgot about all those goals I had listed.

One I actually have kept up and that is to get at least one top quilted per month.  Now there have been several months that all I did was piece tops or work on a block of the month.  But there were also several months that I completed several quilts.  So there is easily six finished quilts so far this year.

But I had completely forgot my goal about working on some of the kits I have collected over the years.  I thought there were a lot.  So I went searching through my sewing room.  I could only find two that were complete kits.  Several had a speciality fabric along with a pattern.  Like northern lights fabric, or a panel of some sort.  I decided that these would have a lower priority.  So with only two complete kits to work on I got busy.  Both tops have been completed and one has been quilted. 

I plan on adding more quilting in each block.  And should I ever make this runner again, I know it will go together better than this kit did.  The pre cut 5" squares were not...square that is...nor were all of them perfect 5" cuts.  But the kit is done and I have something set aside for the next time a call comes out for donations.

Next I finished working on the Welcome to the North Pole block for June.

It still needs embellishments, but I'm waiting until the craft stores start getting their Christmas items in.

Bailey and I have a quilt top that was posted previously to work on.  Bailey is sewing fine, the fabric and thread are playing nicely together.  But quilter (me) is having issues.  My back is getting sore from having to stoop over the frame while ripping out two rows of stitching.  I got over confident and decided that I had no need to double check how far to advance the quilt.  So two rows of stitching are crossing over each other.  I'm using a pantograph that I have not used before and thought I could "eye ball" where to place the next row.  Learned my lesson!  Hopefully next post I'll be able to show a finished quilt....if I can get these two rows ripped out.  I'm predicting that once I'm quilting again either the thread or the machine will have issues and I'll be so frustrated.....

Monday, June 16, 2014

That's a lot of flying geese and Half Square Triangles!

Not sure why, but I seem to get more done quilting wise in the warm weather than in winter.

The hearts2hands quilt group had members list their goals for the year.  I have four.  Keep my scraps cut into usable sizes.  Not happening so far.

Next was keeping up with the block of the month that I'm working on "Welcome to the North Pole".  So far I'm keeping up with this goal.  Although I do have to stitch down this month's.  All pieces have been fuzzed in place, but still need to be stitched.

Next was to work on at least one kit from the huge collection I have each month.  I haven't even started one.

The last was to finish a quilt a month.  I think I'm close to that.  I'll have to go back and see if I have six quilts done.

So what's been done in the past two weeks?  Well 26 draw string bags for the women shelters.   And this quilt:

I had wanted to do some more intricate quilting but ended up using a larger stippling.

Then the cats helped me work on this quilt top.  There are a lot of HST's in this one that Ba'el is testing:

Now to either pull out some scraps to cut down, or a kit to start working on.....

The Bailey group sent out a great link for finishing binding that I just love.  It's a must see for quilters.  A link to the side of this video lead me to the easiest way to baste a quilt ever!  Wish I knew about this before I purchased my huge quilt frame!  Think of all those quilts that would have been soooo much easier to baste.  No crawling around on the floor!

Here's the link for the binding:  Binding: Sharon Schamber's method

And here is the easy way to baste a quilt:
The Patchwork Box Tips - Basting


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sewing for outside and a new book!

I can not believe the prices they are charging for swing cushions!  The cushions on DS's swing are sun rotted.  Falling apart.  Need to be replaced.  He probably should have bought them at the season's end last year when they were on sale.  But we all thought he'd get another year out of them.  After a winter in the shed they were placed on the swing.  It was obvious that they had to go.

Fabricland's sale scored 8 metres of outdoor fabric.  Probably not what DS would have chosen, but the price was right and it brightens things up.  Of course my assistants had to do a comfort test when one cushion was finished.  I had the cushion on the kitchen table, reached for something on the counter, and the cat, who is NOT allowed on the table, was curled up on the cushion.  Keeping her eyes tightly closed, hoping I wouldn't disturb her.  She did open her eyes when the camera came out.  Wouldn't want anyone to think she's sleeping on the job.

There was extra fabric after the 3 cushions were made.  DS's yard is open to the south and west so it gets hot.  So I thought a blind on the west side with the awning providing protection from the south would help.  You may notice a lot of ties.  Even the cushions are secured with ties.  Things can go missing in this condo complex.  So the ties just make it more frustrating and thieves tend to go elsewhere.

After delivering and tying the cushions and blind in place, I rewarded myself with a walk over to Sew Divine.  (Gotta love a son who lives half way to your favourite quilt shop.)  Pat was doing a demo and introduction for a new block of the month....which I did not join.  I was invited to stay and watch.  Always fun spending time with other quilters.

When I arrived back home there was a quilting book waiting for me in the mail!
I had sent in yet another quilt conference story which was read by Brandy Lynn on Canadian Quilt Talk.  My prize is a book by Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks.  "Urban Country Quilts"  There are 15 projects in this book that I can't wait to start. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another quilt finished

Before getting into quilt talk, there is Balloon talk.  This winter a fun shop opened up at our local mall.  It was there for just a few months.  Now Maria is back working from her home.  Something that she has done for years. 

Fabulous Balloons' owner Maria is a very talented lady.  Take a moment to check out her web site:  Fabulous Balloons

Now for the quilt.....

It's a pocket quilt made for a little boy who is two years old.  He'll be able to sneak his night time snacks, toys, and anything else that's small to bed in these pockets.  At least that's what I would have done if I had a quilt like this when I was young.

The cats on the backing glow in the dark.  He may not get too excited about that, but when my son was about that age, he loved anything that glowed in the dark.  I wonder if the fabric will still glow in the dark after a lot of washings.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A finished quilt and binding it.

When I was cleaning my sewing room I came across some sample blocks made ages ago.  After sewing them together it was obvious that some borders needed to be added to make the quilt a usable size.  So several plain borders were used, then some folded flying geese.

This type of flying geese blocks are easy to make.  They need only one seam per block.  Check out the Ricky Tims tutorial video if interested.  One issue with using a folded block when machine quilting on a frame.  The foot can get stuck in the fold - often.  A few more cups of coffee and it probably wouldn't have been as much of a problem.  Or next time use normal flying geese blocks....

Since the binding would be sewn on using a decorative stitch, I stitched  it on the back then folded over to the front.

For joining the ends of the binding I used the method shown in this video for the first time:  McCall's - How to bind a quilt

Wouldn't you know.  I drew the 1/2" line on the wrong side of the stitching line.  The binding was too short and "modifications" had to be made to the binding so I could make it work.  Totally my fault.  Measure (and think) twice, cut once.

Next time I add binding I'm going to try this method:

Easy way to join the binding

It will be more difficult to get confused.  Not impossible, just more difficult.  I can get any direction messed up.

Next came the decorative stitching on the front of the quilt.  The thread kept breaking.  I'm using a new needle, new thread and the machine has been cleaned and oiled.  No reason for my trusty Janome to have this issue.  I want this quilt done so I can get on to a fun pocket quilt for our new little neighbour. 

My guys are into leather tooling so I've spent many an hour wandering around Tandy Leather while they shop.  On a whim, I purchased some machine leather tool needles.  What the heck...I'll try one of these needles.  They have a cutting edge to pierce leather.  Maybe the needle will make a clean hole for the thread so it doesn't shred.  It worked like a charm.  Been ages since I didn't have to fuss with the corners when sewing on binding with a decorative stitch.  All those layers of fabric you know.  It will be interesting to see how the quilt holds up to use after using this needle.  I'm hoping no holes appear.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Preparing a quilt backing

A number of quilters have asked me about my quilt backings.  They want to know why they are cut on the diagonal and then sewn back up again.

If a picture is worth more than a thousand words, how much is a whole bunch of photos worth?  Here is the method taken from a John Flynn tutorial that I use. 

The 42" width of fabric was just a bit too narrow to use as backing for this quilt:

So a length of fabric was cut on the diagonal:
Watch what happens when you slide the right hand side down.  The backing is now narrow and longer:
Now slide the right hand side up.  The backing is shorter and wider.  Which is what is required for the quilt top.
Is it wide enough? 
Well there would be just enough providing no mistakes are made loading the quilt top onto the frame.  So I add a 4" strip of fabric to the diagonal cuts when I sew the left and right sides together.  I'd rather have a bit extra then find out that I was off a half inch or so at the bottom of the quilt.

Now why not just add a straight piece of fabric to one of the sides of the fabric?  Why the diagonal cut?  The answer is because the seams will not "stack" on top of each other when the backing is rolled up.  Much easier to get a smooth backing.
You can see how the seams will lay as the backing is rolled up on the frame poles.  No build up.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Two quilts finished, motivation and "new" quilt friends

The company my son works for usually sponsors a Christmas play for elementary age students.  The play travels the province and puts on a number of shows each Christmas season.  This year it was announced that staff will have to do some fund raising if the play is to continue.  The cast has decided to have an auction.  And naturally I offered a quilt.

A while back my friend Joan offered to drive me across the city so we could take some long arm quilting lessons.  I took her up on the offer and provided two quilt tops for us to practice on.  It was a lot of fun and we both learned a lot.  Unfortunately things get in the way of completing projects.  The quilt that Joan worked on was put away and never got the binding on.  I decided that would be the perfect quilt to donate and finally the binding is done:

Not a great photo but it does show that I managed to get one quilt off the "to do" list.

I also got a small quilt off my frame.  I played around with feathers and that's when I decided feathers are not going to be in my near future.  I better improve my free motion quilting first.  But it is done.  There are four or five more tops from the same book.  The goal was to make each quilt presented in one book.  That was my retirement challenge.  Well the tops are made, but only this quilt has been completed:

Deb from the hearts2hands group asked the members to post what motivates them to get into the sewing room.  After some thinking about this I have to say two things get me quilting.  Deadlines and viewing other people's quilts.  There are more things, but these are the two most likely to work.

I admit that avoiding having to do other things can get me into the sewing room.  Seeing videos of new techniques works well.  Realizing that I have to stop buying fabric and put what I have to use is a good way.  Having to make the draw string bags for volunteer sewing day will get me sewing the night before our meeting.

Other members suggested making a list of what you want to get done.  Crossing an item off the list is a great motivator.  Making the list forces one to go through all the bags and drawers where projects are stashed.  Then list all the "almost" finished projects you have.  Maybe one just needs a half hours worth of work and it will be done and off your back.  I think the making of my list with an estimate of time needed to finish will be today's project.   After I clean and oil my Bailey and get it ready for a practice quilt.

Speaking of Bailey, Pauline from the Bailey group stopped by this week.  It's always wonderful to meet someone you got to know through the Internet.  When Pauline called to arrange our visit, she mentioned a space issue for a large frame.  So before she arrived I set up my Super Quilter table top frame.  It took 20 minutes to get set up (only about 5 to take down).  I think I convinced her that a table top frame is the way to go.  Nothing permanent.  Just set up when needed.  Here's hoping she can find one at a good price.  Added bonus, she won't have to purchase a larger sewing machine.  The one she currently uses will work just fine on a frame like this.

I enjoy my Bailey 17" and the Gracie queen frame is okay.  But I really wish I had stuck to my original idea of finding a way of extending my Super Quilter frame.  I had all sorts of ideas on how to do it.  But no way to get the items needed for it home.   Thus the Gracie....they delivered.

After Pauline's visit I went for a walk.   Neighbours across the alley and down a few houses were sitting on their front step.  So I stopped by to chat.  We are seldom outside at the same time.  Because of this, even though we've been neighbours since 1991, I really do not know them well.  That's going to change.  Turns out the lady of the house is a quilter.  Talk about having someone to quilt with close to home!  I'm so looking forward to some sewing afternoons with her.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Volunteer sewing and a fun afternoon at the LQS

Yesterday was volunteer sewing at my local quilt shop (LQS) Sew Divine here in Edmonton.  Six of us showed up to make more draw string bags for local shelters. 

Of course there is always show and tell.  I showed a sample of how the "Exploding Block" goes together.  Several of the quilters had seen the video shown on Missouri Star Quilt Co. but had not tried it.  Quite a few said they would be trying it as soon as they got home.

Then there was the show and tell.  Some beautiful quilts where shown off.  And great quilting that was provided by Sew Divine's long arm service.  I should have taken photos to post.  Hope I remember to the next time.

Then on to the sewing.  We had four machines going.  Three sewing machines and one serger.  Two others were inserting the drawstrings into the casings.  68 bags were completed by the time I left.  And I bet they reached 75 by the time everyone went home.  It feels great to get that many bags made.  It is depressing that there is a continuous need for them.

These bags are given to an organization that fills them with toiletries.  They in turn pass them on to shelters.  Those staying at the shelters often arrive with nothing but the clothes they are wearing.  At least they have their own bag with tooth brushes, tooth paste, shampoo, a comb etc.

Half way through the afternoon, Pat, the shop's owner got a phone call.  "What's your address?  We have a few ladies on a shop hop on their way."  What fun.  It turns out that these ladies had rented a motor coach and were travelling around to visit quilt shops in Alberta.  Not sure if it was a one day event or if they were going to be on the road for several days. 

The line for having fabric cut grew quickly.  One of our volunteers has experience working in fabric stores.  She quickly offered to put away her sewing machine and set up a cutting mat.  At that point I left for my walk home which hopefully freed up some more table space for yet another cutting station to be set up.  It looked like it would be needed.  I hope the travelling quilters had a great shop hop. 

On to my quilting:

I have quilt tops piling up.  The reason I purchased my Bailey 17" and the Gracie frame was to get these tops finished into quilts that can be used.  So what's holding me back....me.

I had challenged myself to learn how to quilt feathers.  But I really really enjoy free motion.  So I'm getting back to free motion so I feel like I'm playing again.  Removing the "you must learn how to" off my shoulders has me excited to get back to the long arm quilting again.  Hopefully there will be a lot of finished quilts showing up here soon. 

As to walking and the Fitbit.  It's a sad state of affairs when this very unfit, almost 60 year old, is number 15 or 17 (depending on the day) in activity levels.  This is in a group of 93 people.  Most of which are younger than me.  A lot of them live down south where it's not icy sidewalks and snow that keeps them from walking. So I'm off for another long walk today.  Got to keep my standing here so I can gloat.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Did you watch Firefly? Are you a Brown Coat?

I never did watch Firefly, but it is big in our family.  Well the Brown Coats are having an online auction. 

Check out this leather tooled iPad case.  My guys do leather tooling and I know how many hours of work goes into making something like this.

Firefly iPad case up for auction

The auction ends April 30, 2014.  Click the "2014 Shiny Charity Auction" link just above the photo of the iPad case and see where literacy causes proceeds will support....and to see who is donating!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Some sewing done...but not enough

For the first time I am behind in my block of the month project.  I picked up the fabrics early.  So there is no excuse except for nice weather.  I've been out walking more and then there is the "Spring Cleaning". 

I doubt anyone can tell I've been cleaning.  But I know I have been.  Each day my home feels like it has more air. 

Oh, and taxes are done!  That always makes me feel lighter.  Not in the pocket as I almost always get a refund.  But lighter as in a responsibility has been lifted off our shoulders.  Done for another year.  So on to sewing....

So if I haven't been working on the block of the month, what have I been working on?  Bags.  I received some fabric that begged to be used in bags.  So here are the two bags finished last week:

 The first bag is a "Margo" bag with lots of pockets.  The second is a zippered tote bag with pockets.

The past week also included a birthday party for myself and my Mom.  Thanks again ladies.  It was fun.  Then on Friday was a fun baby shower.  The new Mom's friends and family certainly had great ideas of their own.  Add to that ideas from the Internet and it was a lovely party.  Check out the bag every guest received.  Lifesaver soothers were tied with ribbon around each popcorn bag and a photo of the baby and his birth date, weight, etc were included.  Too cute!

Plan for today....get working on that block of the month!  After I finish today's lesson for my on line drawing course.  And get a walk in.  And .....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A quilting explosion

Well it is called the Exploding Block.  Anna from the hearts2hands group sent us the link for a quilting how to video.  And now I'm hooked.  From reading all the posts in several quilting groups, I'm not the only one.

With 40 blocks made I am finally getting it right.  I keep forgetting to use a scant 1/4" seam.  When I do remember, everything works great.  Here's how to make an Exploding Block:

Using two 4" squares (right sides together) sew a scant 1/4" seam on all 4 edges:

Mark an X on the diagonals as shown.  Then cut only through one fabric on the X up to the 1/4" seam.  Press open:

With right sides together, sew the block just made to a 5" square (using a scant 1/4" seam) around all four edges:

Mark an X on the 5" square, cut only the 5" square on the X and press open:

Here's a very scrappy version.  It's made with no planning at all.  Just grab what ever fabric is next:

Loads of quilting videos can be found at:

Missouri Star Quilt Co.

Off to watch more quilting videos (way more fun than doing house work or cooking).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sewing Room is cleaned up

I can see floor in my sewing room!  It was a lot of work getting it cleaned up.  And wouldn't you know, more half finished projects were found.  I don't even remember starting them! 

And kits....loads of kits.  Some I purchased, but a lot were gifts from family and friends that I really wanted to do but forgot about.

Am I happy with how the room is organized at the moment.  No.  But it will have to do.  It's a sad tale of taking on way too much and decisions creating more work.

First my cousin is downsizing and donated 5 boxes of fabric for making bags for women shelters.  This is a project that volunteers at my local quilt shop work on one day a month.  The fabric was in all shapes and sizes so I spent a lot of hours sorting and cutting down into usable sizes.  Then I just had to try stitching one up and ended up with over 30 made minus the draw strings.

In the optimism of spring arriving, I brought out my summer clothes.  Well it snowed, but the job was started and had to be finished.  That's when I stupidly made a suggested to my husband.  Each of us had half of our clothes in my son's old room and half in our room.  Maybe put all of mine in one closet and all of his in the other.  DH agreed so the moving of clothes was done.  Unfortunately there are shelves at each end of the closet DH chose.  This prevents us using the full length of the closet rod.  So the shelves were emptied so he can use the entire closet.

On those shelve were about 40 photo albums and boxes of photos that never made it into an album.  See where this is going?  Yep, all the photos and albums had to be reorganized.  Some were from both sets of parents as they downsize, some were from relatives that have passed away.  Many of these photos are of people my son would not know.  Do I throw them away, or label them.  Decisions were difficult.  And it's ongoing.

Then where do I put these pictures?  In the shelves by my computer is the answer.  But that's where my quilting books and magazines are.  But wait...wouldn't it be better if they were in my sewing room?  But the shelves in there hold fabric.  Plus there are those 5 boxes of donated fabric (minus the 30 bags).  So the fabric from the shelves are now in plastic bins, not really visible but the boxes are labelled.  The quilt books and magazines are on the sewing room shelves.  The sorted donated fabric is now at the quilt shop awaiting volunteer sewing day.  And I can see the floor of my sewing room.

As for the photos....it's an on going process.  I am happy to report that I did get all of my Mom's slides scanned and onto a DVD.  (Two DVDs actually.  It was a big job.) They are now on her computer and she really enjoys seeing photos that she hasn't been able to access for a lot of years.  Talk about memories!  (Now to finish scanning ours.....after I finish with current project.)

Who knows...I just may be able to get some quilting done this month.  Oh, and the 3 Welcome to the North Pole blocks for this month are sewn but still need embellishment. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Making Draw String Bags for Women's Shelters

Yep, it looks like a tornado hit my sewing room.  My cousin is downsizing and called to say she has fabric to get rid of.  She kindly donated five boxes of fabric.  Imagine the fun of diving into all that fabric!

It took a while but it's all sorted and in the process of being cut.  This fabric is destined to be made up into draw string bags.   After cutting is finished the fabric will be passed on to my local quilt shop.  Volunteers there will sew them up to make draw string bags. 

Next another group will fill the bags with toiletries etc. and they will in turn send them on to the women's shelters in the area.  But in the mean time....can you imagine the amount of fabric that can be crammed into 5 boxes!  I can't move in there.

A few of us have been playing around, trying to find more efficient ways of making these bags.  At the quilt shop one volunteer uses a serger to finish the edges.  Several others sew the bags up, then another inserts the draw strings.  But what is the best way to make the bags at home when you don't have a serger.  Well we are trying to figure that out.  So far almost 30 bags have been made.  And that was within the past two days.

Besides the mess this project created I realized that the "neat" - okay - "cheap"  boxes that I was storing my patterns and sorted fabric in are collapsing under the weight of the cheap boxes stacked on top.  I had to bite the bullet and purchase some proper storage boxes that have lids I can remove without difficulty (as in breaking nails, bones, butter knives or what ever is handy for prying lids off....)

I really want to get the room cleared up so I can get back to my own sewing but it's going to be a few days yet.  Wonder what colour the floor in the room is...haven't seen it in a while.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Donating quilts etc

Not much quilt was accomplished this week.  At least not as much as was planned.  Between the on line course from the library and sorting through a lot of slides there hasn't been much time.

The slides belong to my parents and it's been a while since any of us have viewed them.  So I'm going through them one by one.  Mom and Dad had them well organized but a bit more sorting never hurts.  Hopefully I'll be finished this weekend.

A welcome phone call from a friend that I haven't met - yet - came earlier this week.  A few years ago Deb was looking for items to be donated for a women's mission.  A mutual friend suggested she contact me.  I did have something that I was happy to donate.  Deb's husband picked the items up on his way from work so I didn't even have to worry about how to get it to her.

This year Deb is gathering items for a silent auction benefiting Alberta AdaptAbilities Association.  I had a small table topper and a crochet/embroidered bed spread to donate.  My friend Joan quickly finished up four children's quilts complete with applique teddy bears.  She delivered them to me just before Deb's husband came to pick up the donations.  I hope that these items will bring in some much needed funds for the association.  Now both Joan and I can get back to making some more items to donate for the next time there is a need.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Two different scrappy blocks and a mirror or two

I have this bundle of 10" square fabrics that I would like to do something fun with.  After seeing a demo at a quilt shop I decided to give the techniques a try with some scrappy fabric.  I'm not happy with the results but it is a learning experience.

So here they are:

With right sides together, sew two squares together.  1/4" seam on all four sides.
Then slice on the diagonal both directions to make four half square triangles.

 Press open.
Make a pin wheel block.
Next cut the block 1 1/2" from centre on all four sides.  Trim the left over rectangles to the length of the centre pinwheel block and half square triangles to the width of the rectangles.

Play around with the blocks until you like the end result.  This is what I came up with.
Using fabrics with more contrast would have made the block come out so much better, but here's what it looks like in the corner mirror tool.

Next I sewed a scrappy four patch.
Cut 2" from the centre seams in all four directions.
Now it's time to play.

After playing this is what I decided on.
What if I made more blocks like this. 

 While these were fun to play with, I'm not thrilled with them.  So it's back to the the books, net, magazines etc to see what else I can come up with for that layer cake bundle.

In the mean time.....

My husband has been playing with his solar oven.  The cinnamon bun dough came from one of those Pillsbury cans you find at the grocery store.  Since they are not gluten free I won't be having any.  But I really do think it's neat that he baked them outside....in -19 degree weather!  His solar oven warmed up to 350 degrees in about 20 minutes.  With no hot spots in the oven there is no need to worry about burning.  Added plus...he cleans up everything!