Monday, May 22, 2017

Machine Oil

This post is a little PSA (Public Service Announcement) regarding that bottle of sewing machine oil you have next to your machine.  If it looks like the one on the right, DON'T USE IT!

I have been happily using that bottle, which came with my longarm, since I got it. The oil isn't sticky, it seems to lubricate fine, so why replace it?  Well, yesterday I decided it was probably about time. I was picking up one machine from the shop, spotted the oil and picked up a new bottle - the one on the left. See how crisp and clean it looks?

I have been fighting with my machine for ages. Every time I oiled it, the tension would be a mess and I'd have to fight with it to get it back in line.  Rethreading didn't work. It didn't matter if it was a new bobbin or a half-full one I'd just pulled out. Every time I oiled the machine, I had to work at it to fix the tension.  It would start like this. See those little eyelashes?

Or even worse, like this mess.
But eventually it would fix itself (sometimes with a loud snap) and I'd be fine until the next time.

I took it in for service, and they couldn't reproduce the problem. I finally resigned myself to this being a 'feature' of my machine that I would have to live with. Oiling was relegated to once only, as I started a quilt. Not a good policy, since the norm is to oil every 2 bobbins, and a large quilts takes upwards of 5.  But it was working for me, somewhat.

But today I had fresh oil, so as I loaded my next quilt I used it in my longarm - precisely one oiling of the bobbin race. And I could not believe the difference! Not a SINGLE issue with tension. It was beautiful, and the tension never flinched.

So the moral here, ladies and gentlemen, is don't keep using that discoloured oil in your machine.  Invest in fresh oil as often as necessary (a whole $5 this bottle cost me). You might not realize what's happening, but your machine will thank you.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day, and that means it's quilt show weekend here in Ottawa.  I couldn't enter any quilts in the show, since I'm not a guild member. But I was thrilled to have a few of my customers enter their quilts.

One in particular received 3 ribbons for 2 of her quilts.  I loved quilting these, and was thrilled to see them do so well at the show.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Stepping Stones

I designed this quilt just over a year ago, originally to be submitted to a magazine. Hence why this is the first you are seeing of it.  However, I got distracted from that project and have decided that I don't have the patience for the process. So, this quilt is now finished and on display, and eventually I'll finish writing the pattern and publish it myself.

The fabrics I used are all Northcott Stonehenge - one of my favourite lines. I had a couple of charm packs and worked from them and a few fat quarters to make the quilt.

If you've done it, what is your opinion on magazine submissions? Worth the effort and secrecy?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Woven Lattice Complete

And it's done! Binding completed and this is now a quilt ready to find a bed.  Or a lap - it's 76x76", so not quite right for a bed I guess.

I designed this quilt 4 years ago from a photo I saw online. I understand now that the block is a Carpenter's Square (or at least part of that pattern, since the standard quilt seems to continue the weave right through the center of the quilt).  I scraped up enough of my 4 teals to do the border as an extension of each of the block colours. And then had almost enough left over for a scrappy binding. One of the teals is missing there, and a different doubled up to compensate.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Design Wall Monday

My design wall is full of a new quilt top today. This is another mystery quilt, from a different guild. My fabric choices worked out much better this time. You can't really tell from this photo, but the red and black fabrics are from the same line, with little stars on them.  I'll add a 2" border around this, to bring it up to donation size and then get it quilted.

Continuing my disappointment with mysteries this year, I wish I had done this one scrappy. The instructions said you could do scrappy, or pick 3 fabrics, so I pulled yardage from my stash. But it became apparent pretty quickly that the quilt would have been much more interesting in a scrappy selection and the pattern was intended for that. The star centers were supposed to be made of 4-patches.  I re-cut my fabric to get solid squares, because that seemed kind of silly for a single fabric, to cut it up and then sew it back together in a 4-patch.

 I may try this pattern again - scrappy instead of red, but keeping a single accent fabric.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cat's Meow

This is the original quilt, that goes along with the mushy scraps.  It was a mystery quilt from one of my guilds. I really like the pattern, but as I said, not so happy with my fabric choices.  But every quilt is a learning experience. The pattern is (I think) called "Cat's Meow" and was a mystery quilt available online.

I made a presentation bag in red & grey to go with it, and now it's ready for donation.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Top finished!

I finally made a decision on borders, and here it is. Not fabulous, but the top is finished and hopefully it will cheer someone up as a donation.  I have to admit I'm really happy to see the end of that red/grey batik fabric line.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Couple of UFO Finishes

 These poor quilts have been hanging in my closet for a couple of years (or more).  I bought this fabric line with a particular plan, and then lost interest in the pattern I was considering for it.  So the fabric hung around for a while waiting to be used. Finally, one day I bought a strip-tube ruler and decided to play with this fabric.  I actually came up with 3 quilts, I had so much fabric. This is the first one, following the pattern. 

And this one is the third (number two is almost done -just needs binding). This one was made with all the leftover end cuts from the tubes and a bit of extra fabric I had.  It's just a little baby size, so I decided to custom quilt it and have some fun playing.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mushy scraps

I finally came up with a layout I'm somewhat happy with for this project.  I sewed up the rest of my scraps into a few small blocks and played around with them for a center.  It's still a mushy quilt and I guess always was going to be. Lesson learned, when it comes to buying/picking fabric for a project.

When I posted my original photos of this project, I received a couple of suggestions about recutting the blocks or sashing them. I decided not to recut any, because I was trying to stretch this into a 50x70" donation quilt top, so I didn't want to lose any additional size in more seams.  The triangles which I used along the 2 sides were already cut (setting triangles from the original attempt) - I had placed them into squares in the first photo thinking I'd sew them together, but I decided I liked this idea of sewing them into strips along the edges more.

The quilt is now about 40x50", and I am completely out of the batiks I was using. So I'm going to have to do something for a border to stretch it out.   A few of my options are stuck on the wall here.  The two light greys are too light I think, so they are out. I like the red stripe - but it would be really cool as a binding so I might save it for that.  I'm leaning towards a grey inner border (larger on the top and bottom, to get the length I need) and a red outer border to finish it off.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Jar Quilt

At guild one day, someone dropped off a pile of vegetable fabric on the donation table. No one picked it up, so I snagged it at the end of the meeting, planning to make a jar quilt from it.  I picked a size, figured out how big the lid and background fabrics needed to be and made a bunch of jars at a retreat last fall.  Halfway through, I ran out of my background fabric, and my lid fabric (good planning, right?). So it sat around for a few months. I finally pulled some new fabric for background and lids, and dug up something suitable for sashing. This went to my retreat last month and turned itself into a quilt top.

It was pretty popular - all my remaining fabric went to two other quilters who wanted to make their own jar quilts.  That's a pretty good way to ensure you don't have any leftover bits hanging around :)  This time, however, I was smart enough to cut my binding strips first, so that is ready to go.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Woven Lattice quilt

In an effort to catch up on some UFO quilting, and take advantage of a long holiday weekend for myself, I pulled this quilt out of the closet last week. It was completed as a top back in April 2013, so only 4 years in the waiting :)

I had set aside a backing for it, but wasn't really happy with it when I pulled it out. I had the perfect colour flannel available, but wasn't sure there was going to be enough. So I washed and dried it, measured, and it was 1.5" larger than my note said the top was.  Not great, but I can deal with that, I thought.  So I loaded it up on the longarm, laid out the batting, and dropped the quilt top on top of it.  And it was about 2" wider than the backing :( 

I hated the thought of removing the whole thing from the frame, so I thought about it a bit, remembered that I had a similar colour flannel in a different pattern somewhere, and went hunting.  What I found was of course that I had used that flannel on another project.  But I had a 5" strip, 80" long left over - perfect!  I stitched it onto the side, layered everything up again and went to town with my quilting.

Fortunately, I had thought to save some fabric with the quilt top for making binding. So I joined the strips and got the binding onto the quilt right away.

This poor quilt is finally out of the 'to be quilted' pile and into the 'to be bound' pile. Hopefully it won't spend another 4 years there.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Design Wall Monday

My design wall today is a bit confused. These blocks are leftover from one of my mystery quilts. I was trying to change it up, but ended up not liking the new option. So that went back to the original, and I now have all these blocks and a few scrips and scraps left of this fabric. I have no idea what to put with it that won't look completely out of place, so I thought I'd try to see just how many blocks of various designs I can make from the bits and pieces I have left.  They will either become a quilt, or a pile of orphan blocks.

Hop over to PatchworkTimes to see what everyone else is up to today.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Scrappy Pineapple

I've been working on this top for quite some time. I bought a pineapple ruler on a whim one day, because I always wanted to make a pineapple quilt and it seemed like a good way to start. I was using it as a leader-ender project for a  while, because making 24 pineapple blocks all at once was just too repetitive for me.  But evetually I just wanted it finished so I moved to the top of the list and found another leader/ender to go with it.

24 blocks were finished and I thought it was done. Then I realized that the blocks finish at 10", not 12", so the top was going to be a bit short of donation size. I set it aside for a while, but it lept into my retreat bag last month and I tossed some border options in with it. Assembled and bordered, it's now ready for quilting.

I like the result, and hopefully the recipient will like bright colours :)  But I have confirmed one thing - the 10" ruler is about 2 rounds short of making a really good pineapple block. I would have liked the white sections to be a bit more prominent and I think 2 extra rounds might have done that for me. So my next pineapple quilt (yah, right) would be done differently.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Triangle Madness

I started this project a week or so ago, trying to use up some leftover triangles from an earlier adventure.  The top is now complete, and sized perfectly for a donation to Victoria's Quilts, once I get it quilted and bound.  I used a few of the additional leftovers to make the pocket for the presentation bag, and I think my triangle collection is now empty and I can move on :)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Disappearing Dresden

I took a class earlier this year, to make a "Disappearing Dresden" wall hanging. The class was a lot of fun, and I got to use some of my favourite pretty fabrics.  In retrospect, I wish I had used a couple of different background pieces to allow the dresdens to pop a bit more,  But this will make a lovely spring display for my front window.

It is finally finished and bound and off the sewing room floor, which is a big achievement in itself :)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Starry Beginnings - done!

The binding is on, just in time!  I finished this quilt - which I have decided to call "Starry Beginnings" - in the nick of time to submit for our quilt show.  And then I waited (somewhat) patiently.  And I just found out - it's IN!! So, if you are heading to the CQA show in Toronto in June, my quilt will be part of the Modern Guild exhibit, hosted by the Ottawa Modern Quilt Guild.

I pulled one of my usual stunts - when I put the quilt together I used every inch of fabric I had for the background. In fact, I sized the final pieces to do just that.  And then I looked at it and realized I had not reserved anything for binding.  So that took some thinking.

I decided to continue the 'unfinished' theme, by binding two edges, and putting a facing on the other two.  If you look closely, you can see that in this photo.  I considered using a different colour for binding, but could not find anything I liked, so I made due with the scraps I had left of the background fabric.  Fortunately I had a few partial strips which were just wide enough to work for the binding. I think I had 6" leftover when I was done.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Flying Geese

Awhile back I made a quilt from some ombre fabric, with a lot of flying geese. I had a few leftover, plus a lot of the fabric which I ended up not needing for that quilt. It has been sitting in a nice little pile since then, and last weekend I pulled it out.  I had a vision, of making flying geese curving across the quilt, so I decided to make up the rest of the fabric as geese and see what I could do.

First, I made the green circle seen here, thinking that I would make 2 or 3 of these in various sizes. Well, starting with finished flying geese and trying to place them into a circle was a less-than-optimal idea.  It took a lot of time, and a lot of piecing of background fabric, to make this work. So I decided there will be one circle only.

I tried a few swoops of flying geese for the rest (in this first photo, the geese are still attached in pairs, from the "4-at-a-time" flying goose method). I'm not sure I'm thrilled with the end result.  The second photo has all the geese trimmed at various angles to make the swoops. But I'm not getting the feeling I was hoping for from this. So I packed it all up and I'll get it up on my design wall later and see what I can do with it.

The idea here was the geese flying into the circle. But I think I'll scrap that idea and try for general swoops across the fabric around the circle next time I pull it out.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Recipe Wall Hanging

 I was playing around with a panel I bought a few years ago. It was printed fabric, with a number of recipes on it. When I first bought the fabric, I tried out a couple of the recipes and realized that they are real - and delicious. So I decided that I wanted to make a wall hanging from it for my kitchen. A collection of recipes in fabric.  Later, another Christmas panel came out with different recipes, so I added them to the pile.

I finally cut out the recipes - the challenge was figuring out how to get each recipe with enough seam allowance, since they were set very close together in the fabric. A half-yard turned out to be just enough fabric.

Then I framed them all with red, from the same collection. The next challenge was how to set them.

Each recipe was a different size, and I wanted the frame to be the same size on all (1/2").  So I played around with layouts, and finally came up with something I liked. I didn't want the wall hanging to be too big, so my initial thought of adding some random blocks in the spaces between recipes was scrapped, and I went with a simple white fill.

A friend nicely provided a red fabric for the binding, and I think that will finish this up nicely.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Next project

Continuing my desire to use up some scraps and leftovers from previous projects, I pulled out some triangles that I had used in a project back in April 2015.  So that's not bad - I guess these scraps are only 2 years old. I cut a few (many) additional triangles from my stash (the grey and dark orange).

Unfortunately, I had a brain freeze. If you look closely, the top 2 rows are short 1 triangle each.  So after I put them together and measured - to make sure the quilt was sized correctly for dontation - I thought I'd miscalculated and my quilt was too small. So I cut another 12 triangles and exteneded each row.

Then I assembled row 3, and realized that I was right initially, and it was the first row that was wrong. So, I took away all those extra triangles, added one to each of the top 2 rows, and all should be good now.

Except - I have 12 leftover triangles.  So now I have another quilt to make from the scraps, but 12 isn't enough, so I need to cut some - you see where I'm going with this I'm sure. I will be more careful this time, and make a much smaller quilt (baby quilt), so I don't end up with even more leftovers.

I'm linking up with Judy's design wall Monday today.  Drop by to see what everyone else is up to.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

150 Canadian Women

I spent a day last weekend trying to get caught up on my 150 Canadian Women quilt blocks.  17 completed, after redoing the badly sized block here . I seem to be continuously behind in this endeavor, but I will continue to plug along and hope I don't lose steam before week 50.
These blocks are definitely getting more complex. I can't wait to have a chance to start playing with them on my design wall. Until then, I'm not adding any sashing since I don't know which blocks are on the outside edges.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Star Quilt

I quilted my little heart out, and got this top all done, in time for the quilt show. I hope it gets accepted.

I solicited lots of advice from a couple of online quilting boards (one of which I just discovered) and came up with something I love.  Warning - lots of photos ahead.

The colour in this first one is off, because I was trying to get the quilting lines to show up, but it does give the overall picture of the quilt design and the quilting. There is a swirl border along 2 edges (top and right).  Some peacock features and pebbles for background fill.  And way more straight lines than I wanted to quilt, for the star.

A closeup of the feathers in the background. I love this fill, partly because it's really quick and easy, but gives a great texture to the quilt.

This picture shows the 4 different sections of the background quilting.  Swirl border, with straight lines on the outside. Then some pebbles to fill the spaces between the swirls and peacock feathers.

 If you expand this photo,you can see the details of the star points.

And the star center.

This photo shows the corner, with all the background fill.

The binding plan is to continue the "unfinished" theme - I'll bind the 2 edges near the swirl border, and face the other 2 to give them an unfinished look.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

MIni Quilt

This little quilt - 12" square - is my entry for our Modern Guild linen challenge this year.  The background is linen, the flower and sunbeams are regular cotton. I wish I was a bit more creative and could have done something fancier for the design, but when I put the background together it said "rain" to me. So I decided some sunbeams shining through the clouds onto a flower would be an interesting arrangment.  I call it "Rainy Days and Sun Days", although I guess the song is actually "Rainy Days and Mondays".

Friday, March 31, 2017

A complete incomplete star

And it's done!  Star in progress is a finished top! And if I really move my act, it will be quilted and submitted for the Ottawa Modern Guild show at CQA. I found a backing, so all that is a lacking is my time. Submissions are due tomorrow ...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Oh dear

I was chugging along quite nicely, catching up on my 150 Canadian Women quilt. Then I pressed a couple of them. Pretty sure these are both supposed to be 6"blocks. That 8" block on the left is going to have to try again.  :(

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


It's been a long time since I could claim true finishes from all of my UFOs. These poor little quilties have been sitting in my sewing room, all quilted up and just waiting for binding, for at least 6 months. It's about time they got some attention, so this past week I went on a binding blitz and finished all of them (plus a couple of other projects I found buried in the stack).

The top left is leftover bits from my Kaffe Fassett handkerchief quilt. I have a ton more leftovers to use up, but this was a quick trial during a retreat last year.  Sufficient for a quiltie, but not something I want to do for a large quilt. The rectangles are about 4x6" each, and the whole thing is done with partial seams to make use of irregular sized bits and pieces.

The other 3 are Disappearing Hour Glass blocks.  Each is made from 2 fat quarters, and I discovered that Canadian fat quarters are perfect - two 20" squares results in a 24" block.  The American fat quarter only gave me 18" squares to start with, so I had to add a small border to the finished block to bring it up to the required 24" top.

Bindings on all of these are scrappy, from my binding bin - the tub I throw those final bits of binding into when a quilt is finished.  So this picture is entirely made from my stash/scraps.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Design Wall Monday

This is what's on my design wall today.  I was digging through my scrap bins, and found the bin of leftover bits & pieces. It contains all the partial blocks, pieced strips, and other miscellaneous bits from various quilts that I've made over the years. This particular set of fabric (if you ignore the coloured piano key sitting there) is from a star quilt I made about 3 years ago. I had enough left in each of the strips to make 5 more star points. So then the question was, what to do with 5 (rather than 8) start points.

I played around a bit; seriously considered tossing one point and using just 4 (a much easier number to make an arrangement with). Then it occurred to me to 'build' the star. I put together 4 points, 3 blank sections, and one section that is supposed to look like it is floating into place.  We'll see how it looks once I have all the pieces cut out.

I am using the leftovers from another (unfinished) quilt for the background. I sure hope I didn't need any more of that.  Linking up with Judy today.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A little advertising

A while back I started to hang quilts in my front window. Initially, it was decoration (I have a Hallowe'en quilt, and a Christmas quilt which I put up seasonally). But customers mentioned how easy it was to find my house, when those quilts were displayed. So I contemplated the idea of a quilt for every month, or maybe more realistically for every season. But that project never seems to gain much traction. So I decided that a quick improv-pieced banner would be a good place to start.

I made the top one day at a quilt retreat. And finally got it quilted last week along with a bunch of other little projects that have been sitting around waiting for attention.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


I was playing with some leftover bits from my Bonnie Hunter "en Provence" quilt recently.  They've been working their way through the system, as leader/enders for some other projects I'm trying to finish up.  But when I put them up on the wall today, I see I made a small mistake.  Oh well, 7 out of 8 isn't bad :)

Next step - figure out what to do with these little leftovers.  8 12" blocks won't make much of a quilt on their own.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Peace, Love, Quilt mystery

I've been working on a mystery quilt from Love Shack quilts since last October. The basic blocks and layout were finally revealed a couple of weeks ago. The blocks were set in an alternating pattern. I looked at it, and thought I'd like to try something different, so I arranged my blocks in this layout.

It didn't really work for me, because the large heart was not as visible as I had hoped it would be. But I liked hte idea, so I did some playing around on EQ with alternatives.

I came up with this layout, which I definitely love! However, it required a "few" additional blocks.

I spent the past 2 weeks making 9 more border blocks, 50 neutral 16-patch blocks, and 46 neutral 8-patch blocks (for the outer border). I wasn't sure I'd ever finish, but strip piecing is your friend and I managed to get everything done.  I'm pretty happy with the result. Now it goes into the pile to be quilted - and to find a backing for this 96" square quilt.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lost quilts

A few of my quilts have apparently never made it onto the blog after they were completed. This is a "catch-up" post for those. First up is "Contrasts". I made this quilt in 2011, when I had a dream that I might publish a book of quilts. My idea was a series of quilts that were "stitch and slash". Similar to a disappearing 9-patch, a quilt block would be made and then cut in some fashion to create a new, more complex-looking quilt block. Contrasts was my first attempt. A simple block of 3 concentric squares, cut on the diagonal.  I like the final effect, although the placement of some of the seams was awkward in the end result.

This quilt was named "Time Flies" - I felt that it looked like hourglasses set on angles, flying through the air.  I made it by creating large snowball blocks, then cutting them in quarters. That step probably wasn't necessary, as simple squares with one corner snowballed give the same effect.

This is my fibonacci spiral, from way back in August 2011.  I have the photo, but it doesn't seem to have made it onto my blog in finished form. So, I'm just cleaning house here.  The original post about this quilt is here.

And this quilt was an effort to use up scraps that were hanging around from another project. It didn't quite come out as I had hoped. The pinks blended into the background too much.  But it was finished and sent off as a donation.