Sunday, 12 February 2012

Three hours down, 497 hours to go...

Machine quilting practice, that is! I have heard more than once that it takes about 500 hours of practice to get 'good' at machine quilting. I don't know about you, but I am always afraid to "practice" on my finished quilts. What if I ruin it? What if my stitches are uneven, my tension is off, my idea doesn't work?
Well, enough of the what ifs, that has only resulted in probably a dozen untouched quilt tops just taking up cupboard space. My cats accept my imperfections...why can't I?

I took a wonderful machine quilting workshop with Lynne F. of Fraser Valley Quilt Guild and she is a fantastic teacher! I have taken other machine quilting classes, and I think it is finally starting to sink in. You can only get better with practice. Period. No one jumps onto a machine and becomes an accomplished quilter, let alone a master quilter. Yes, some people are truly gifted, but for the rest of us, it just takes practice!

I am trying to figure out how I should quilt the Mod quilt sampler (from Oh Fransson!). At last weekend's retreat, I stitched in the ditch all of the sashing strips to stabilize it. I contemplated straight stitching lines through all the sashing, but wanted to try something out of my comfort zone.

I practiced some overlapping squares which I've seen online and really like the look, but hubby thought it would be too much as an overall pattern on the quilt. So I thought, what the heck, and started quilting the sashing using the overlapping squares.

Rather than quilt all the vertical strips and then have to jump over the cornerstones that would already be quilted, I decided to stair-step the quilting. I stitched down the first vertical sashing strip, and then moved to the right and stitched the horizontal sashing strip. This gives me practice moving the quilt in both directions, which is something the quilting instructor encouraged us to practice. 

Yes, my stitches are not perfect, the squares sometimes overlap twice in one spot, the stitches get larger and smaller, but I am confident that over time, it will get better, and I am happy I've given myself permission to be less than perfect! Now back to my quilting!

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

From a Pile of Retreat Fabric Scraps to...

Batting scraps for coasters, selvages for creative fun, some useable fabric scraps and strings for scrappy quilts and...

One happy kitty trying out the new cat bed ready to be donated to a local cat shelter!

Now that's full cycle fabric use, don'tcha think? Thanks to all my fellow retreaters who filled the scrap bag!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Habitat Challenge

When the FVMQ guild announced a new fabric challenge using Habitat by Jay McCarroll, I really wanted to be a part of it!

Unfortunately, all the fabric packets were spoken for, so I was out of luck. As generous quilters can be, Barb offered up her fabric pack and gave it to me at the next meeting.

After I got the fabrics and had a really good look at them, I wasn't sure if I should thank Barb or she should thank me for taking this challenge off her hands! Ha! I found the Habitat fabrics a really interesting mix of textures and colours, and I wracked my brain for days trying to come up with an idea to use it. These are the six fabrics I received in my fat eights pack.


Remember these triangles? I made up a whack of triangles, but then what?

Hmm, I had seen this super-cute fall pillow tutorial on one of my favourite blogs, Cluck Cluck Sew. I have wanted to make this pattern ever since I saw it, and thought the Habitat fabrics would make great leaves for the tree.

I used the scraps leftover from making the triangles and made up a pile of leaves until I ran out of fabric, and the centre block of my Habitat quilt was born! I used the same method as demonstrated on the Cluck Cluck Sew blog,where Allison fused and straight-stitched around the edge of all the leaves.

I played around with the triangles surrounding the centre block, but thought it looked too busy with the triangles side by side, and it wouldn't end up much bigger than a wall hanging. I wanted this to be a lap size quilt so with some planning and using Excel to draft out the number of triangles needed, I figured out how big I could make it.

Of course, I didn't realize until I was at retreat that the pieces of solid fabric I pulled from my stash weren't going to be big enough for what I had planned, so I just improvised and made do with what I had! Without even intending to, I think my quilt has a decidedly '70s feel to it!

I brought some brushed cotton in a yummy caramel colour to audition for the back (I think I bought it in '97)! There wasn't quite enough of it, so I had fun playing and pieced the middle panel so it would be long enough. So much fun!

I can't believe how different all the quilts have turned out using the same Habitat fabrics as a starting point. This definitely has been a challenge and has forced many of us to stretch out beyond our comfort zone, but I am very happy with the results! I'm adding this to my Power of Ten list to get it finished this year!

My girl has a new skirt!

Cover, that is! My ironing board has travelled the country with me. I've taken her to several retreats in Alberta, she's been to almost every local retreat I've been to, and she attends all the guild's workshops as an honoured, and much appreciated guest. You can imagine that her cover has become a 'little' worn!

Well, finally, I made her a new cover and she enjoyed her debut at this last weekend's Fraser Valley Modern Quilt Guild Retreat! I used this great tutorial from Jona at Stop Staring and...Start Sewing! Be sure to check out her blog! Thanks Jona for the great tute!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Clearing out!

More stuff...I've kept at my commitment to clean out and get rid of stuff that does not belong in my sewing room, and maybe not even in my house!

Here's some progress!

Stuffies, candles, wine boxes, clothes to the thrift store

A great craft case and tote - I gave this to my daughter's friend show is designing amazing jewellery!

I gave my spare iron to my son, who didn't have one.

Christmas decorations I was going to use for making a wreath...uh, hasn't happened in two years, what are the chances??

Miscellaneous stuff...candles, coaster, napkins and a pencil case (my kids have been out of school for years!)

As of February 5 (36 days), the count is 55 items! There is more stuff I haven't counted, but just keepin' it real!!