Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Cheer 2017

My classic 'go to' Christmas baking. Shortbread cookies. I got a request for chocolate drizzles, so my final batch is dressed and ready to gift.

My favorite Christmas textiles.  I adore this pattern by Minick and Simpson.  It's from a back issue of Primitive Quilts, and it was fast using wool for the leaves and berries.  Grunge background gives this such a vintage feel.

An oldie from days gone by when I X stitched for hours on end.

My Lonestar Christmas pillows.  I used this as a sample and didn't want to sew a second strip set. I thought a bit of big stitch and red and green french knots would finish off the solid fabric section.

This one is just too darn cute.  A Crabapple Hill pattern from years ago, but still, and always will be relevant for this time of year.

My little Charlie Brown, but real, tree this year.  I guess we purged a bit too much during the last few moves as neither of us had a tree stand.  Now we have a new one!

Hand crafted Santa, painted on foraged bark,and purchased on our Alaskan cruise in May.

I couldn't resist this ornament, again, locally made in Maui.

To support a local pressed glass studio, Whimsy, located in our county.  I fell in love with these snowflake ornaments and although I only stopped in to donate packing foam peanuts, I came home with this beauty.

We will be having a green Christmas, but we have snowmen in the house!

And look what Santa brought on Thursday......

Grinch Green, ok that's really not the factory name for this color. looks fast standing still. My guy's present to himself. He does so much for others, so I am thrilled he did this for himself.  This will keep him busy in 2018 and I couldn't be happier for him. He now has a retirement project.
Wishing all my blog readers the very best the season has to offer.   It's all about good cheer, friends and family, giving and relaxing.  I have so much to be thankful for, and we count our blessings throughout the year, not just at Christmas.
The hustle and bustle and bell ringing is fun, but may you have a few minutes to relax and stitch, listen to some carols, slow down, have a cuppa cheer and enjoy the moment.
Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Vitamin C Zig Zags

This was such a fun and fabulous quilt to quilt.  I connected with this quilter through Lori at Humble Quilts.  It's great to have my quilting showcased on other blogs, and it resulted in me getting to work on this beauty. 

Thread, something so simple, something that turns a sheet of pieced fabric into a quilt.  Oh how I love to see the transformation.

She loved the feathers I did on Lori's quilt so I figured when I got her top, feathers were on her mind.

And with all this open space with solid orange, what long arm quilter could resist filling it all up with feathers!

She pieced the back so there were places with a lighter print fabric to show the quilting.

I loved how the zig zag shows up on this light fabric.  The colors and fabrics were the star of this quilt, so I kept the quilting on the 1/2 square triangles simple.  Curves and loops were used on the pieced sections.

Oh, how I love how this one turned out.  Using the piecer's talents to be my guide, it doesn't get better than this. 

OK, I know, enough photos of the back.  But I really do love how the quilting showed up on the section of light fabric.

In case you are wondering, this quilt was approx. 100" x 110".  Yes, it is big!

I used Hobbs 80/20 and So Fine thread.  I debated moving away from the orange/red thread when doing the 1/2 square tri's, but since it was a riot of color, nothing would blend into everything, and I was very pleased with how the same thread worked on this whole quilt.

Click on the photos for close ups of her color/fabric choices. It is always a delight for me to get up close and personal with other peoples color/print choices. It expands my view;  gives me more confidence when doing my own work.

It was a pleasure to quilt this piece. It was so bright and cheerful to walk into my studio and see this.
How could you not smile when seeing this quilt. I hope your quilts make you smile!
Keep stitching,

Monday, November 20, 2017

Alicia's Stars - Tutorial

This quilt was a group project that was completed and gifted in the summer, but I thought I'd give a step by step on lining up columns of blocks with a full column of sashing.  You can see the block process HERE.  I might have also shown this quilt before, but this post is all about lining up the blocks.

First was the decision to use white strips between the blocks. This was based on a few things. These blocks were all made by different people and we didn't have a large enough pool of blocks for a lap quilt. Second, it gives the blocks some breathing room, and third, these blocks are a bear to get nested together along all those points. The last reason was that I was quilting it and since it was a comfort quilt, I wanted space to put some nice feathers for our friend.

Look closely, and you will see a little blue tick mark on the edge of this seam.  Since my blocks finished at 6" and I have 10 blocks in each column, my white strip needs to be cut 60 1/2" to account for the 1/4" seam allowance on the top and bottom block.  Now it's time to start marking my white strip.  

Here is a better shot.  The marks will be in the seam allowance, but I used a wash out blue marker.  Use a ruler to mark both sides of the white strip as that will keep things lined up properly.  Your first tick mark will be 6 1/4" from the top of the strip and then mark at every 6"  Your last tick mark should be 6 1/4" from the bottom of your white strip.

If you click on the photos, it will be easier to see, but in this photo.  Now you can pin your white strip to your strip of blocks, matching up the seams to your tick marks.  You can see how the blue tick marks are lined up with the seam where the blocks are joined together.

Once you sew the white strip in between columns of blocks, you will see how your blocks line up across the solid sashing.

This doesn't take much time at all, and the end results are definitely worth the effort.  Now your columns are nicely lined up. If you have any quilting motifs that require ruler work/line work, everything will line up.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted open spaces for some feather quilting, so that wasn't my concern, but I have had customer quilts that were challenging, bases on blocks not lining up straight across.

By using this method,  ALL the columns of stars will line up and this makes for a very nice finish.

Here is a shot of the solid columns.  I stitched a 1/4" from the seam on each side to frame the feathers, and used a continuous curve motif throughout the star blocks.

Keeping a straight visual line across the solid section to your pieced blocks is achieved using this simple method.  I wish I could remember where I heard/read/saw this being done.  I would definitely give credit back to them.  Since I can't, I shall defer to all the quilters before me, who have generously shared their lessons and knowledge. 

 By using this method it also helps keep your quilt top flat and squared up.

If you have a quilt in your future that requires this tip, give it a try. It works on any size quilt, even those mini's need to line up.

I'm wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving week/weekend. I hope you find time to pause and give thanks for the blessings in your life, big or small. Don't compare to others, just look at what you have and what you are thankful for. I have all that I need and then some, life is good and I count my blessings every day!

Keep stitching

Sunday, November 12, 2017

'Tis the Season

All my customer Christmas quilts are done. Well, a trip to the post office on Tuesday and it will be official! So today I started this! The process, the smell, the memories, oh the calories!.

If you want this recipe, go to this past post of mine here.
You won't regret making a batch, (or 3) of these delicious melt in your mouth shortbread cookies.

The rain held out yesterday, giving everyone a chance to stay dry during our local Remembrance Day service here in Blaine, WA.

 And in closing, here is a photo my sister uploaded to her FB account yesterday.  My dad is on the right.  1952, on furlough in Montreal, PQ  He's turning 83 next week, and going strong. 

 Hope you enjoy your week, and get some stitching time in.  I'm packing hand work projects for a plane ride.  Going to visit Pearl Harbor and learn some more history about this country.

Keep stitching,

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Elephants and Zig Zags

When making a quilt as a gift, I do not let the recipient pick out a pattern, only a color.  A grand niece will be arriving at Christmas and the Mom expressed elephants, grey and mint.  OK I can work with elephants and grey.  Mint, not so much.

 Found this funky, bohemian elephant print along with grunge grey dots and started pulling from the stash.

Using free hand cut triangles that Sujata Shah, from The Root Connection demonstrated at our workshop a week prior, I tested out the method.  Fun, fast, and graphic. 

 This is a great way to feature a big print and try a new method of cutting/piecing without a huge commitment.

When I used the printed fabric with a plum solid, I really loved the results.  I know I will use this cutting method again as I have a very fun Hallow'een fabric that is begging to be used, but also needs to be the star of the quilt.

 Simple, wavy back and forth lines of quilting keep the fabrics and piecing from being overshadowed.
Not all fabrics were solids, here I used a small tone on tone dot.

Since this print is not something that I would work with, I managed to use up every last bit of it, and the effort to use it was worth it.  The back is pretty good too.

It's quilted, bound, and labeled.  Now we just need the new addition to arrive in our family.  This one will make 3 girls and 1 boy in the last 18 months.

What new technique or idea have you tried lately?
Keep stitching,

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Solid Foundation

Mail was delivered this week, but I've been afraid to open up one of these books. The Red and White book is fabulous and will be a great inspiration for another two color quilt.  I just boxed up a 90 x 90 quilt and shipped it off for a photo session, so I'm in resting mode with solids.  As for Maria Shell's new book, Improv Patchwork, well, I still haven't opened it yet. 

Before I can let my mind go down this crazy train of a new start, I felt it was time to make this happen.  THIS is prewashing my stash of solids. Yes, it's been laundry day in my studio for the last few WEEKS!  Drying rack has been a fixture in the hallway outside my laundry room.
Piles of pressing have been reduced and replenished beside my ironing board.  This has been ongoing for literally weeks.  But it's years of buying solids that has caused this explosion.
I'm a prewasher, a die hard prewasher for all quilting fabrics.  They go to the laundry room before they get into my sewing room......with the exception of my solids.  For some reason, I just didn't prewash my solids.  I ran out of drying rack/shower bar/ironing board space so I resorted to the lid of the washing machine and all around it!  Quilters will understand this.
Pressing has been an intermittent process.  I would press a binding, then grab a few pieces and press. Iron was plugged in as soon as I entered the studio, and I would press a few pieces while my coffee dripped. Before leaving at the end of the day, a few more pieces would get lightly pressed.
And now most of them are folded up and back in my storage bins.  Loosely organized, but that's for another day.
There *might* be another stack or two left to migrate from the cutting table to the storage bins.
I might need an intervention, or maybe I need to read Maria's new book, put a new blade in my rotary cutter, and get busy.  OK, I have been busy, it's all been on the down low, but let's just say, 2018 is going to be exciting!

It's Saturday, it's sunny and glorious in the Pacific Northwest.  A perfect day to be outside, checking out all the amazing colors Mother Nature has provided us with.  And of course, I have a few more solids to press and fold.

Keep stitching,