Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Anniversary to Me (or rather to my blog)!


Today is my blog's one year anniversary! A bunch of friends dropped by to help me celebrate!

It has been a busy, productive year for me. I've shared quilts, patterns, tips, techniques and my first ever quilt along (QAL), Soupcon!  I've met many wonderful people that I wouldn't otherwise have met and blogging has allowed me to learn from others! But this is an anniversary party and what's a party without gifts? I've got some wonderful gifts that you could win!

As you know I love Superior Threads. To help me celebrate Superior Threads has very generously donated a $30 gift certificate as a giveaway for one of my blog readers! I would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to Bob Purcell at Superior Threads for this gift. The lucky winner can use it to purchase the Superior products of her choice! If you haven't tried them you are in for a treat!

This is not a paid advertisement! I am a fan of Superior Threads and when I quilt I always use The Bottom Line in my bobbin. It is a fine polyester thread with a gorgeous sheen. But it isn't just for the bobbin - I also love to quilt with it. I used The Bottom Line to quilt this little miniature which was donated to my Guild's Silent Auction last Spring.

I also used it to quilt Baskets and Nine Patches. I used a lovely neutral colour (Statue) for most of the quilting and in the centre of the large beige squares I used Gold. Cindy Needham highly recommended that colour in one of her online classes and so I thought I would try it out. It is a very lovely and versatile colour that adds richness to a quilt.

I just finished quilting Lazy Girl and I used So Fine! on top and am in love with it. It is soft, has a little sheen and it is fine so when I backtrack I don't get a heavy thread build-up. Best of all it is very affordable and a cone goes a very long way! I used Monopoly for my stitch in the ditch. Again, one cone goes a very, very long way so it is a great investment!

Kimono is a silk and it is another of my favourites not only for quilting but also for applique. It just disappears into the fabric! I've been using it in my Love Entwined quilt. That project has been set aside for a while and I should get back to it!

And I've got cones of Magnifico and Fantastico that will be used in some upcoming projects including 81, The Giant Monstrosity!

But wait - there's more! I've got a second giveaway. I love to add fussy cut patches to my quilts so I have a bundle of fabric that is perfect for fussy cutting! It includes two prints each measuring one yard! There are so many great bits for fussy cutting including the stripes! One lucky person will win both cuts.

Enter my Giveaways!
So how do do you enter my giveaways? Simple! Just leave me a comment at the bottom of this post! Many of the comments I get are from no-reply bloggers. How do you know you are a no reply blogger? I answer every comment so if you don't hear from me you odds are that you are a no-reply blogger so be sure to add your email address to your comment. If you are a no-reply blogger and I don't have your email address you won't be entered in the draws. For three additional chances to win you can:
  1. Sign up for the Superior Threads newsletter here and leave me a comment to let me know. If you are already signed up just let me know in a comment.
  2. Follow my blog and leave me a comment to let me know how you are following. If you are already a follower let me know how in your comment.
  3. Mention my giveaway on your blog and leave me a comment with a link to your post for a fourth chance.
Remember, if you don't get an email from me it likely means you are a no-reply blogger so you won't be entered in the draw unless you include your email in a comment.

I'm a bit of a Neanderthal when it comes to computers so I'm going to select a winner the old fashioned way: each entry will go in a hat and I will draw the names of the winners at 9:00 am EDT on April 4th, 2014! Good luck everyone!

It was a very busy year for me;  300+ posts published, more than 80,000 page views and the odd ice storm complete with a multi-day power outage thrown. When the weather was good I shared pictures from my garden. This spider in the pink peonies last June is one of my favourites!

Along the way there were a few curios like my whisker collection.

Then there was Saturn Rock! It rocks!

I had fun with my stories about the critters in the garden such as the three part story about the zebras and Teetoo (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).

Zebra Fellow and Zebra Girl during the filming of 
the adventure story from the garden

How about the Turtle Girls doing yoga! Well at least one is doing yoga and I think she's mastered downward turtle!

The snow is almost gone so the garden will start up again soon and I hope to have more picture for you! Maybe this week I'll see the first of the snowdrops! And of course there will be quilts - lots of quilts!

For all of you hexie lovers I've got another QAL planned with a start date in April and more quilts, tips, techniques and ideas to share! The next QAL is called Value Proposition and I hope you'll follow along with me!

Thank you to my followers old and new! Blogging has been so much fun for me and I hope you've enjoyed reading and sewing along with me over the past year! I appreciate that you take time from your busy schedules to read my blog and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the lovely comments. I'll try to keep my future posts fun, pretty and most importantly informative!

As always, until I post again happy sewing!
Karen H

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A surprise, more machine quilting and Godstone Grannies

Tomorrow is March 31 and it is a special day for me! It is my blog's one year anniversary. I've very much enjoyed meeting and getting to know so many wonderful people. As you know I love working with Superior Threads. It is a great company with great products and wonderful customer service ad it shares loads of information that is helpful to quilters. Check out the long list of Superior reference guides here. Superior has agreed to help me celebrate my anniversary! How you ask? Come back tomorrow to find out!

I really enjoyed quilting the open spaces, also known as negative space, in my Lazy Girl quilt. I used Superior So Fine! on top and as always The Bottom Line in the bobbin. I wanted to try out a few more ideas but most of my quilts consist of many small pieces. So I asked my friend if she had a small quilt top I could play around with and she did! She made a lovely Chinese coins quilt from a bag of scraps. She pin basted the quilt so I could play around with it. As always step one is stitch in the ditch! I'll try quilting this one with some nice loopy designs including feathers in the beige columns!

The scraps are leftover from another quilter's project. There's always a home for scraps no matter the size or shape! This is such a bright and happy quilt. I've just about finished the stitch in the ditch and time permitting I'll get cracking on the quilting today or tomorrow!

I had shown you a little cardboard suitcase I found and I plan to use it to store the bits and pieces for my next project. So what am I going to make? You can see the clue on the right hand side! It's going to be another hexagon quilt!

While travelling around the interweb I came across a picture of a hexagon quilt that I just fell in love with so it is the inspiration for my next hexagon quilt. The quilt is at the Quilt Museum and Gallery in York, England. It is a museum dedicated to quilting and textile arts. I encourage you to have a visit and a look around the Gallery.The quilt I am in love with is called the Godstone Grannies Coverlet and is dated 1960-1965. It was made at the WI Denman College by a group of women from several Women's Institutes. The description reads "materials for the patchwork were largely supplied by dressmaking friends". You can read about the quilt here.
Aside from the fact that the blocks are diamond shaped, I love how colour and print is used to create visual interest and secondly patterns. What you can't see clearly in this picture is that most of the patches are fussy cut. I'm not sure that I'll fussy cut all of the patches but I will certainly fussy cut many of them. The first thing I did was sketch out some of the blocks to be able to calculate the number of hexagons I would need for the path and the amount of fabric. I determined that I will need 17 hexies to make the "V" shape that is shaded in my diagram and I'll need 31 V's in total. I'm using a subtle rosey buttery print for the path. My diagram is sitting on top of my path fabric.

I've cut out all of my path fabrics and glue basted my 3/4" hexagons to the so that they can be thread basted.

Here is the first V completed!

Earlier this year I saw some 100% cotton napkins on sale and I was able to get a package of four for $3 so I snapped them up because I thought that they would be great for fussy cutting! This just might be the project that they go into!

I'll keep you posted on my Godstone Grannies hexagon quilt progress and my machine quilting progress!

And now a little Soupcon update and trunk show. I've been asked if I will share what I do with my two Soupcons as far as making them larger, quilting and binding. So I think I'll do just that (I need more hours in the day!). I'll get started as quickly as possible and I'll share with you what I do! And now for the mini trunk show!

Jean's been busy embellishing her Step 5 border on her pink and purple Soupcon. She had added lots of little details including some embroidered embellishments. I love the combination of diamonds with little hexagons on either side of the large hexagons. So very effective!

Cissa K has completed her Step 6 and this quilt is and absolute treat for the eye. There are lovely embellishments, fussy cutting and her fabric choices are making me drool. The little blue stars on the red hexagons are lovely! Well done Cissa!

Until I post again tomorrow, happy sewing!
Karen H

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lazy Girl is quilted and how I filled the spaces with quilting

Yahoo! Lazy Girl is quilted so all that is left is to bind the quilt. I'll do that this weekend. I continued to doodle all different stitches all around the border and I am really pleased with the overall effect. It isn't perfect (far from in) but the quilting is so dense that the imperfections are masked! I absolutely love Superior's So Fine! thread. Aside from using Monopoly (Superior's invisible thread)  for the stitch in the ditch, the entire quilt top with quilted with So Fine! There was no heavy build-up, the thread has a subtle sheen and the quilt is quite soft give the amount of dense quilting.

I never thought I would ever be able to do something like this and I am beyond thrilled with the results. If I were to use this filler method again I think I would try to make the designs larger. This dense quilting takes a lot of bobbin thread - I used more than 18 bobbins of Superior's The Bottom Line! I don't normally count but I remember that I had 9 full bobbins at the outset and used all of the so had to refill them and I used those as well! So here it is folded on my sewing table.

Today I thought I would talk about how I did my filler design. I sketched one of the shapes from my quilt. In this diagram it is 11" tall and 11" wide. The actual size on the quilt is a little larger. What you don't see in this picture is that there is a seam that runs through the middle horizontally and vertically and it was stitched in the ditch. The curves are the edges of my applique circles and they were also stitched in the ditch.

I start in a corner and work my way out trying to stay close to the stitch in the ditch. While I quilt I'm constantly making sure that my quilt sandwich is flat and smooth. I selected a small motif to get out of the corner. In this example I used circles which are also known as pebbles or pearls.

I added some teardrops.

I want to get back up to the top edge so I tossed in a few circles. If you do add circles, or any shape for that matter, try to work with an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, etc) because it will be much more visually appealing.

I threw in a few more teardrops.

 A small feather is added.

I echoed stitched by the top edge of the feather and then filled in the little space that was left with circles.

Echoed circles bring me close to the top corner.

A few more circles to fill a little space.

Some tear drops fill the corner. I stitched a curvy line to get me away from the top corner.

I echoed the curve and then to the left of the bottom of the curve I added some more circles.

 The last echo on the curve was on left so that I would end up in the middle of the shape. I added some circles to fill the pace and then more teardrops. A strng of circles that go from large to small take me close to the right egde.

I echo stitched around the circles. This creates a really interesting effect very much like a pea pod. It flattens the area around the circles so that they puff up and pop. I love that look!

After that I fill in the area near the edge just above the pea pod. I'll continue in this way working down the shape and fill in the corner on the right next and then moved across and down until I get to the bottom point.

Here it is filled in.

You can make your shapes larger to fill in the space and it will go very quickly.

To do this kind of quilting one of the things you will need to practice is backtracking which simply means stitching over previously stitched lines so that you can get yourself to another area. Amy of Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures has lots of great videos on her blog and you can watch her as she backtracks. She works on a domestic sewing machine which I found particularly informative. Leah Day's The Free Motion Quilting Project is another great place to see demo's and to get inspired. Another great way to train your brain to think about how to fill in spaces is to take a Zentangle class. If you can't find a class in your area visit the Zentangle blog for loads of inspiration and how to's. Not all of the designs are transferable to quilting but many are and it will get you thinking about shapes and filling empty spaces in a beautiful way!

I never thought I would be able to quilt like this and I am amazed with the results I got. I am confident that you too can be a successful machine quilter on your domestic machine but it takes work. Really if you enjoy what you are doing it isn't work! Start out with some practice sandwiches (I like using 18" squares) and just get started! Ten to fifteen minutes of practice each day will pay off in short order. When you can't practice on your machine just do it with a pencil and paper. In no time flat you will be swirly and curling like a pro!

Until I post again, happy quilting!
Karen H

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Found my fabric, more Soupcon quilts, another hexie project and the next QAL

I found my fabric but it is a brown background rather than the paprika. Nonetheless it is gorgeous! I found it online at Alewives Fabrics. They have a lovely online shop with loads of wonderful fabrics and great customer service! I plan on shopping there in the future! Here is my fabric! Sooooo pretty - I adore those little birds! I've no idea what I'm going to make with this fabric (maybe a border for hexagon quilt) but it will come to me!

There are another couple of Soupcon quilt pictures on the Soupcon FLICKR GroupNellie Durand has completed step 6 of Soupcon! Isn't it fabulous? She took my ideas and then put her personal touch each step of the way! Step 6 was the foundation paper pieced border and Nellie turned the spikes so that the pinks are pointing inward plus she added a pieced corner. I think I might just do some reverse sewing and add a pieced corner to my blue Soupcon! This is a really lovely quilt!

Jean Cockburn has completed Step 5 of her Soupcon and she also put her own personal stamp on the quilt but creating her own unique border. Nellie commented that the quilt makes her think of pink dogwoods which are about to bloom where she lives. It makes me think of pistachios!  It is a vibrant and exciting quilt. I love the little pop of pale green in the center! Jean has colour confidence and I truly admire that skill!

I found a little cardboard suitcase in a shop and thought it would make a perfect box for my newest project. What kind of project? Well here's the suitcase with some of the fabrics I pulled and there's a little window template that will be a hint about what I'm going to make!

This morning I was reading my blog feed an found an interesting post on Rossie Hutchinson's blog. She showed her finished quilt and linked back to how she made the blocks. You can see the quilt on her March 23 post. What I found most interesting was how she made the blocks. She used 5" charm squares and bleached the darker fabrics and dyed the lighter fabrics. Aren't these blocks fabulous? I love the effect she has achieved!

She explains the process here. I've never done any dying although I have used bleach to alter fabrics. I am really tempted to give this one a go when the weather gets better so that it can be done outside.

I've now finished my quilt top for the next quilt along (QAL), Value Proposition. My quilt is made of 1" hexies but there is no reason why you couldn't use a larger or smaller hexagons. There are 18 whole blocks (and some partial blocks) in the quilt and you will have your choice of a single path or a triple path between the blocks. I used a triple path and it created a secondary design that I think is lovely. I don't know about you but I find it so hard to wait a month for each block so I think I will publish a block every two weeks. Would that suit you? Each block will consist of  a center flower with two extra rounds of hexies. In the process I'll share some ideas for creating some interesting effects in you quilt. For example we will use applique, sew new fabric and we will create  our own prints! Sound interesting? I sure hope so! It won't be long until we get started!

Time for this lazy girl to get back to quilting her Lazy Girl quilt! Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A PICNIC kind of day

Yesterday I was having what I call a PICNIC kind of day. What is a picnic kind of day you ask? Well if you are reading this post you have a computer and if you have a computer I know from personal experience that you've had problems with said computer. I know that I have and more often than not the problem is a user problem rather than a computer problem which means Problem In Chair Not In Computer! My sewing machine and I were not seeing eye to eye and my top thread was shredding as I was free motion quilting and I hadn't changed anything since I last quilted. I tried everything short of replacing the bobbin case. New needles, fresh bobbin, rethread top and bobbon, adjust tension, adjusted the pressure food, adjusted my speed. EVERYTHING and all to no avail. I took a good long break and when I came back to it was able to quilt relatively problem-free. There are some things my machine doesn't like and one of them is quilting next to applique work and quilting over seam allowances. Very frustrating to say the least! But I got some quilting done in spite of my problems!

I've been debating how to quilt the center strip. Ideally one should be able to quilt a feather in any direction but I'm not there yet. I find it easiest to stitch the spine starting from the tip of the feather down to the base and then I quilt the plumes starting at the bottom and working to the top. When I get there I stitch along the spine until I get to the base and then quilt the plumes on the other side of the feather. This means that when I stitched my feathers in the outer columns they go in opposite directions. Am I bothered? Heck as like BUT my problem was how do I deal with the center of the quilt? I decide the solution was to stitch an interlocking feather. Here is the start of the feather. There would be a curl in the block at the top and the block and the bottom and then the spines would run parallel through the two middle blocks. The feathers would intersect just below the curl at either end. This is the beginning of the curl.

And the feather is stitched so now it is simply a matter of filling in on the empty spaces with my doodling!

With a very thin Frixion pen I drew the spine of the feather and then quilted all the plumes free-hand. If you look closely you will notice that the plumes are not uniform but if you look at the whole it looks just fine (well it looks just fine to me and really that is the only person I need to please!).

I echo quilting two rounds inside the swirl and filled it with the doodling. I still need to echo quilt the outside edge of the plumes and where necessary add the doodling!

If my machine continues to cooperate filling in the spaces will go fairly quickly. Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me! I'm using a variety of swirls and pearls and what not to fill the space. I've even tried some McTavishing. If you are interested in learning this wonderful technique Amy  of Amy's Free Montion Quilting Adventures has some great videos to go with her McTavishing quilt along that is going on right now. You can see installment #4 here. All of her work is done on a domestic sewing machine and her blog is chock a block with useful information suitable for all skill levels! Do check out her blog - it will be time well spent!

Aside from my sewing woes there was a bright spot in my day....I received a lovely package in the mail from Lia of LiasHandmades. I admired  her quilt as you go notebook cover that started out as an experiment. You can read about it here. The next thing I knew she made one for me! She also tucked in some candy squares and a pencil! Who's still a lucky girl? Me!

The notebook she tucked inside the cover is ideal for a quilter because it has plain pages for sketching, graph paper for designing and lined pages for note-taking! I simply adore the cover and book!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H (the lucky girl)