Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Leaving a Tangled Garden

Front - Leaves
I almost forgot about posting my January progress on the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge with SewCalGal! Frances Moore, this month's expert, provided a great video tutorial on leaves earlier this month. 

I did my leaves on the border of my Tangled Garden quilt, a very old project that I had made to practice free motion quilting. My first attempt at free motion quilting this was a disaster so it got shoved in the closet for years.

In the last year though, I've finally learned how to free motion quilt and I have done some leaves before so I have the 'muscle memory' for the leaf shape. To try something new this time, I added a three-pronged vein in my leaves. A few look great, some look okay and some look like the leaf was stabbed by a trident!
Front - More leaves
I chose matching thread for the top and back, which made taking photos quite a challenge, but hides my mistakes beautifully. ;) I also added in the occasional loopy loo to help fill and change leaf direction.
Leaf or Heart stabbed by a trident?
Back - Leaves - Can you even tell it's been quilted?
Happy quilting!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Colour My World Red

Ah, red! Beautiful, bold, and powerful red. As the first month of my Colour My World Challenge is wrapping up (where the heck did January go?), it felt like I was living red a bit this month. When it came to my kids, it sometimes felt that anger was trying to best love. It didn't succeed, thankfully. It feels like I need a good dose of courage every Tuesday night as I help lead my son's Beaver Colony. Passion -- well, with the utmost affection, that ain't none of your beeswax! ;)

I'm thrilled with this first month of the challenge. I found that focussing on a small piece and using it to experiment with a colour and new-techniques-for-me) kept it fun and doable in a month. I hope those of you who are participating are feeling the same.

For my piece, which I'm going to call "Stop, in the name of love...and fire!", I wanted to try Madame Parfait's awesome swirling hexagon, but make it an octagon. Why an octagon? Well, I was thinking about the stop sign, which is in the shape of an octagon. Once it was made though, I thought it looked more like a peppermint swirl candy. It would look even more so if you alternated the colours.
Front - "Stop, in the name of love...and fire!"
As I mentioned when I showed my progress last week, I wasn't happy with the value jump between the white fabric with red leaves and the red fabric with white leaves. I tried to adjust the value by using a decorative stitch with red. It didn't darken it enough, but it'll do.

The other element in the construction of the top that I wanted to include was the red roll caps I used to love as a kid. I'd almost completely forgotten about them so it's a little homage to my childhood -- no, I wasn't a pyro, but I sure loved those caps. I had originally planned to put the caps along one side, but it didn't look right when I got to that stage of the construction. I played around with some ideas and finally came to this layout. I did some trapunto under the red dots of the roll caps and satin stitch around it. I think the satin stitch reduces the effect of the trapunto though. It looks betted on the back. Another lesson learned.

Back - "Stop, in the name
of love...and fire!"
For the quilting, I included hearts, loopy loos, small stipple, heart flow, straight lines, and lollipop chain. Oh, and a little maple leaf 'cause that's how I roll. The free motion quilting was a big challenge because my thread worked for some free motion quilting motifs, but not for others. It was confusing so I cleaned out the machine, rethreaded, changed needles. I finally figured that it had to be the thread so switched threads and was able to finish up without another problem. Odd.

Detail of maple leaf quilting
and edging
I don't know whether this block is going to be in a quilt or be a stand along piece so I just zigzagged and then straight-line stitched the edges so they don't unravel before the end of the year. It measures 14.5" square unfinished.

How about you? How did you see red this month?

As I mentioned on Saturday, I thought it would be interesting to see how people use red in their quilts. If you use Pinterest, I put together a pin board, called Quilts - Red, if you wanted to check it out.

Ready for the next colour? It's purple! Now go dream about purple and I'll do a post on it later this week.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Modern Block Monday - Woven Block

Okay, so it's a little early for Modern Block Monday, but since I'll be putting up my Colour My World Challenge post and linky later tomorrow, I figured I'd post this now -- and really, it's Monday somewhere in the world, right? :)

A few weeks ago,  I spotted this Woven Block on SewHappyGeek's site. LOVE! Just had to try it and thought it would work well with the other blocks I'm making for my modern block sampler. So glad I tried it. It was easy to put together and I love the look. How cool would this be as a whole quilt?

Completed Modern Blocks to date:
Next week, I'm back to the book with Alleyways by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. I think it'll look funky in solids.

Since this is from SewHappyGeek's quilt along, I thought I'd link up to SewHappyGeek's Manic Monday and to Sew Modern Monday!

Sew Happy Geek

{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations

Happy Monday, all!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Colour My World Challenge

From www.thecolourguru.wordpress.com
It's almost the end of the month, which means it's almost time to share our Red challenges. I'm so keen to see what other participants have done! I've finished my challenge top and just need to quilt it. Thankfully, I know what I want to do with the quilting so if I can get some quality quilting time in, it'll be done in time for Monday. Good thing because I'll be putting up the linky party on Monday and I'll leave it open in case people want to join in later.

I also had an idea that I'm hoping you all can help me with, whether you are participating in the challenge or not. I'd like to add a second linky party showcasing quilts with red in it so we can explore how red works with other colours in different designs and layouts. I'd love for you to link in any quilts you've done that have red as one of its main colours. It doesn't have to be the most dominant colour and the quilt could have been done last week, last month, last year, heck even last millennium -- when it was made doesn't matter. You also don't have to do a new post about it or anything, just provide a link to a quilt you've done with red in it. Also feel free to link up more than one quilt. The more we have linked up, the more we can learn how different people see and use red in their quilts. You in?

Happy weekend all!

Friday, 27 January 2012

TGIFF! - Bearly Finished

Micah's teddy bears snuck
in for a snuggle!
Happy Friday, all! I actually have a finish! Just bearly (ha ha), but I have one. And surprise! It's one from my may-never-get-done-UFO list (clearly I'm going to have to revisit that list as I've just pulled two things off of it).

I did a medium stipple last week on my friend's wedding blanket quilt. On Wednesday, as I was doing my WIP post, I was reminded that one of my UFOs is a teddy bear wholecloth Linus quilt that is already pin basted. Hmmm, I could finish my Linus quilt by doing a large stipple, which I'd never done. As the back of the wholecloth is a soft flannel, a large stipple would keep it soft and cuddly. Perfect!
Front of the Teddy Bear Quilt - Red
background with large teddy bears
wearing blue and green pyjamas. 

One of the reasons this quilt was never finished before was because I couldn't free motion quilt (FMQ) it. I was just going to do straight lines on it, but my old machine's walking foot couldn't handle the thick, puffy poly batting without major shifting. Into the WIP pile it went. While I can FMQ now, I still wasn't sure that I could quilt that batting, but I decided on Wednesday to give it a go and try a large stipple. Man, that quilted up quickly! Woo hoo!

Teddy Bear quilt - White flannel background with
scottish terriers, bows and paw prints.
I actually found doing a large stipple kind of tricky. It's easier to hide a shake or mistake in a smaller stipple by changing direction. I also found it harder to get a consistent stitch length because I'm trying to do large curves so my speed was all over the place. Does anyone else find this?

I had a tough time picking a binding. None of my reds worked with both the front and the back. Nor did any of my greens or blues. I finally found a brown tone-on-tone that works colour wise, but doesn't really give it any pop. Oh well, it's super soft and cuddly and I think it will keep some child nice and warm. The quilt finishes 32" by 42".

Lynette at What a Hoot! is hosting TGIFF! this week and has her own finished UFO to share. Fly on over to check out the other finishes.

As I've now done two different scales of stippling, I'm also linking to Leah's QAL.

Medium scale: 

Large scale: 

What a fun way to finish a project for a great cause! A win-win-win in my book.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Works in Progress Wednesday - January 25, 2012

Yay, it's been another productive week. It helps that the temps outside were in the -20 degrees Celsius, which means I avoid going out as much as possible. It also helped that I got a couple of unexpected evening/afternoon quilt sessions in. I won't say no to that! 

New Projects: None - phew. After last week's start-itis, I think I need a serious case of finish-itis. 

Completed Projects: 
Wedding Blanket Quilt - I finished my friend's wedding blanket quilt! Yay!

Current Projects:
Colour My World Challenge - Made great progress this week. I finished the swirling octagon below. Although I don't have photos of this, I did finish the side and corner pieces. I still have one other section to add before sandwiching it and quilting it. 

FMQQAYGQAL/QAYGFMQQALFirst four blocks are done! Yay! As usual, I put my own tweaks on it by quilting onto the block borders. Unfortunately, it gave poor Laura, our fearless QAL leader, a heart attack because her quilt-as-you-go technique requires that space to be unquilted. Oops! Not to worry though, the QAYG technique I used for the boys' Bottled Rainbow quilts will work beautifully. Phew! I'd hate to be kicked out of my first QAL! Now that would really start a blog war and damage Commonwealth relations, wouldn't it? ;)

Chop Suey - While I was piecing the swirling octagon for my Colour Challenge, I pieced all of these strip sets. I've since cut and ironed the blocks. The result? A whopping 100 blocks. That's just crazy! 

Modern Block Monday Sampler - This week was Everything Equal. I was surprised by just how much I'm loving this block. 

Tangled Garden - Finished pulling out the old stitches and have picked out the thread colours for the flowers. I'd love to finish this quilt in time to link up to TGIFF! this week at What a Hoot!, but I'm totally bagged and don't think I'll have the energy for any really late nights.

Micah's Growth Chart - Still staring at it. I think I want to take the backing off, do some satin stitching and some FMQ to stabilize the fire panel before putting the backing back on. I'm worried that if I don't, the growth chart will warp like Daniel's did. I hate using the seam ripper. Sigh!

On Hold:
Wee Spy quilts - 2
Red and Tan Amish Wedding Ring

UFOs that may one day get finished, but really who knows?
Spiral/Spring seta colour
Wedding quilt
Linus quilt
Nine patch colourwash

WIP Wednesday Recap:
New projects: 0
Current projects: 6
Completed projects: 1
On Hold: 13
UFOs: 4

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Right Click to Save Image

Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Modern Block Monday - Everything Equal

This week's block is Everything Equal by Louise Papas. Louise's block is a white background with pink and red modern print squares. Here's what I did with it using my colour scheme. I have to say that I was very sceptical about my colours until I laid them out. Mine's a bit different, wouldn't you say? I love that about quilting! 

Completed Modern Blocks to date:
Next week, I'll be doing a block that is not in the book, but I thought would be fun to try. It's Woven Block from SewHappyGeek. I just have to try it. 

Linking up to Sew Modern Monday
{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations

Happy Monday, all!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Seeing Red

Last night, I participated in the Friday Night Sew-In, hosted by Handmade by Heidi and Crafty Vegas Mom. I took the opportunity to start working on my Colour My World Challenge and made some very good progress. Must have been because red is such a stimulating colour, eh? 

Not sure how well you can see this, but here's my sketch for this month's red piece:

I'm trying to play with values of red so I chose eight red fabrics to make the main octagon block. Putting the strips side by side, it seemed to progress nicely from light to dark in my value viewers. However, once pieced together in the hexagon, I find there's quite a big jump between the white and red leaf print and the red and white leaf print. Oh well, I'm still really happy with it so far.

I started by tracing the centre hexagon, cut it out and then in half. I then paper pieced each half before sewing them together.

Centre hexagon, paper priced with
triangles of red fabrics
Once the centre hexagon was pieced, I adapted the technique that Madame Parfait used for her swirling hexagons to make a swirling octagon. Here is where I got to last night:
Swirling red octagon
While piecing the octagon, I pieced these leader/ender strip sets for my Chop Suey quilt. Hard to believe that sewing up this one octagon generated that many strip sets, but it did.
Chop Suey strip sets

Thanks Bobbi and Heidi for hosting such a fun FNSI!

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Friday, 20 January 2012

TGIFF! - Wedding Blanket

Happy Friday all! As I mentioned on Wednesday, a friend asked for advice on getting her wedding shawl quilted. After some trepidation -- it was her wedding blanket after all! -- I volunteered to do it. This is a very cool tradition so I thought I'd share a bit more about it with you.

Timeless Treasure print
featuring Native American
women wrapped in brightly
coloured blankets.
In some Native American cultures, a wedding is celebrated with a blanket ceremony. Each member of the couple comes to the ceremony wearing their own blanket. These blankets represent their past lives. After the spiritual leader blesses the union, friends and family remove the individual blankets and replace them with one blanket that symbolizes the couple's new life together, which will be filled with happiness and peace. My friend and her new husband were covered with this joyful Timeless Treasure print during their ceremony.

We didn't want to detract from the print so we decided that a simple black backing and a stipple stitch in black thread would work nicely. To give it some pop along the edges, my friend chose a great light purple for the binding.

I've never done a whole quilt in a stipple stitch, but it was fun and I can now see why it's so popular. The finished size is 39" by 76". I'm very pleased with how it turned out and I think she and her husband will be too.
Wedding Blanket Quilt - Front 
Detail of the front and back,
showing the quilting
Linking up to KristyLou's Creations for TGIFF! Thanks for hosting KristyLou!

Thursday, 19 January 2012


I have a confession to make. I have a fear of white. I rarely wear white, I don't use white in any decor choices, and I've only made one quilt that had a significant amount of white in it and it was for someone else. I'd like to blame my 'fear of white' on the fact that I have kids and that I secretly refer to them as Sticky, Goopy and Mucky, but my fear of white actually goes way back BC (before children). The truth is that I'm very clumsy and I'm always I spilling things constantly on myself. Combine that with my kids and my less than stellar laundry skills and you have whites that don't stay white for long in this household. So I didn't see the point of spending a lot of time making a white quilt only to have it be stained.

But then I see all these cool white quilts in the blogosphere and I think that maybe it's time to let go of the fear; to try something new. So for my FMQQAYGQAL (Free Motion Quilting Quilt As You Go Quilt Along) quilt with Quokka Quilts, I decided to go wild and use white for the square borders and white for the thread.

I prepped my blocks this week. I backed my blocks with the same colour as the front centre square and I decided to free motion quilt across the whole block, thinking that it might look neat on the back. The FMQ was a little choppy at first, but I think starting on the white helped hide some of the issues.

Block One: Loopdy loos
Front - Block One
Back - Block One
Block Two: Flowers
Front - Block Two
Back - Block Two
Block Three: Spirals
Front - Block Three
Back - Block Three
Block Four: Sunflower with Spirals -- Love this one. I think I'll do some of this on my Tangled Garden quilt.
Front - Block Four
Back - Block Four
All of them together:
I'm thrilled with the results so far. And the white is still white -- that might be the bigger accomplishment given my history. Can't wait to see what we do next!

Happy Thursday!
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