Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ten minutes too many of quilting and a reader question

ARGHHHHH! It is one of those bad thread days! My Mom (Anne H) has a new African quilt that she has asked me to quilt before she adds her magic embellishments. This is an original design - I love the chickens on the right! Right now the pot appears to float in midair but she will be adding logs under the pot as part of the embellishment. Here is her quilt top before I started quilting.

The quilting should have been a fast, straightforward project. I started off with a rayon variegated thread that has wonderful earthy colours and I wanted to use it for the foreground BUT no matter what I do or which machine I use it on I have problems with it shredding. Tension adjustments don't help. Larger/smaller needles don't help. I've tried it on three different machines with no success and that leads me to believe the problem is with the thread. So after ten minutes of sewing (ten minutes too many) I spent an hour of reverse sewing. ARGHHHH! I switched to a Gutermann 50 wt cotton thread that is variegated dark brown. It quilted the foreground beautifully.

I used a variegated Gutermann thread for the midground and again it worked beautifully. I move on to the background and at the risk of repeating myself.......ARGHHHH! I was using a Sulky variegated 12wt thread and it shredded like crazy. I adjusted the tension to no avail. Switched needles and no change. Rethreaded the machine top and bottom with no change. I would  move up to a topstitch 16 needle but I ran out. ARGHHH yet again.

I'll just persevere and when the thread breaks as it does I'll rethread and start again. It is a wall hanging so it won't be a problem as far as the threads working their way out. I do like the texture this heavy thread is giving to the background but am frustrated. If you have any suggestions I am open to them!

Ventura0404 asked where I buy my fabric. I reply to every comment unless you are a no reply blogger in which case I have no way to contact you unless you include your email address. Since I can't email Ventura0404 I'll answer her question here. I live in a large city but quilt shops have almost all disappeared. There is a local fabric store, Fabricland, that is part of a large Canadian chain. It carries quilting fabric so I often buy my fabric there. Other than that I have to shop online. I have bought from Hancocks's of Paducah, Fabric Shack, Thousands of Bolts, Quilt in a Day, Connecting Threads and eBay. If I am looking for a particular fabric I'll go to where I can search over 200 shops for just the right fabric. What about you'where do you shop?

I'm off to sew with my friends today. Until tomorrow when I post Block 8 in my Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt Along, happy sewing!
Karen H

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

30 Minutes of Quilting

I've been procrastinating. I need to get back to quilting 81 The Giant Monstrosity.

It is registered in my Guild's quilt show in September and time is passing quickly. Instead of working on 81 I've worked on other projects some of which are not as pressing. For example I got the next round of hexagons stitched to Lozagons.

The next component will be little units that look like crowns and I'll make them with a solid faded aqua-turquoise. Each is made of eight hexagons. You can them  in the original quilt which I am sharing with you with the permission of Lorraine at Granny Loz.

I also continue to work on the pattern testing for Missie at Traditional Primitives and am having fun. I can't wait to show you what I am doing! Missie has shared a few tools with me and I am loving them. One of them is her Finger Stiletto. It allows you to prep your applique pieces and protect your finger from that hot iron! Missie sells these stilettos in her online shop.

Another item she sent is a mini bottle of Roxanne Glue-Baste-It. This is a product that I love and use but the mini bottle is so handy! Unlike the larger bottle the applicator doesn't have to be cleaned when I'm finished. I can just screw the top on the little bottle and I am done!

Roxanne Mini Glue-Baste-It

Oopsie - looks like I'm procrastinating again! I started telling you about 81 and was quickly off topic! Here's the problem: 81 is very big. It measures 92" x 95". I had already quilted around all of the hexagons and stars and quilted the border but I need to go back and fill in the background from the middle out. And it is quilting the middle that has been holding me back. I decided maybe if I just parsed the quilting out in manageable chunks of time I would get some quilting done and the task would not be quite so daunting. I set a timer for 30 minutes to see what I could do. I threaded my Juki TL2010Q domestic sewing machine and got going. I also knew that once I got started I would enjoy myself and I would be happy with the results; the Juki quilts like a dream and I am IN LOVE with it! The harp is 9", 2" smaller than my Janome 7700 but there is no problem getting this big quilt under the machine! And it quilts like a dream even over bulky seams like those at the corners of my hexagons.

My plan was to just doodle different shapes and designs and am thrilled with how 81 is shaping up. I had quilted the middle of the rosette hexagons and three of the six star points of each star but as I got going I decided the hexagons would need more quilting so more quilting they shall have! This is what I was able to do in 30 minutes!

Here is a closer look at some of the quilting. I am happy with what I've done so far. So happy that I think I'll set the timer for another 30 minutes of quilting!

I am partial to these pea pods. They are easy to quilt, can be made in any shape and I love they way they add texture!

So many fun and interesting projects and not enough hours in the day! Speaking of fun and interesting projects, Block 8 of my Value Proposition Hexagon Quilt Along will be posted early Friday morning and it is a beauty!

Until I post again, happy 30 minutes of quilting to you all!
Karen H

Monday, July 21, 2014

Laundry Day Smile and answering a reader question

Let'st start with a reader question. Jackie D asked me how much floral fabric I started with in my quilt Mom's Flower Bed quilt. I send an email response to every comment so if you don't hear from me you are a no reply blogger and I have no way to contact you unless you send me your email address.

Jackie, you are a no reply blogger so I'll answer your question in today's post. For this quilt I determined the amount of floral fabric to purchase by measuring the distance between the floral repeats along the selvage edge of the fabric. I needed six diamonds per block so I needed six full repeats of the print along the selvage. If the repeat is every 12 inches then I would need 72" or 2 yards (6 x 12=72) but I would buy a little more just in case and also to have some leftovers for other projects!  All of the pieces were cut quickly from strips of fabric. You can read how I did it here.

Sunday is laundry day for me and my Mom. I was at her house in the late afternoon and saw that her bed had been stripped and the clean sheets and pillowcases were in the laundry basket so being a good daughter I made her bed for her! It feels nice to do something nice for someone and not say anything about it. I figured it would be a pleasant surprise for her when she went to make the bed later in the evening. The next day she asked if it was I that made the bed and she thanked me but......she had just stripped the bed and was going to wash everything! She was surprised but not in the way I thought she would be! I was surprised too!

I periodically like to refold quilts (I fold them on the bias to minimize stress on the fabric and to prevent permanent creases) and I pulled a quilt that hasn't been aired and refolded for a long time. I thought I would share that quilt with you. I made this quilt more than twenty years ago. I hand embroidered, hand appliqued and hand quilted. I do look the love and feel of hand quilting and wish that it wasn't so hard on my fingers! This quilt is not heavily quilted but what there is is good quality!

I saw a picture of an old depression era quilt in a magazine. The quilt was made of of blocks that had kittens in baskets and I thought it was absolutely charming. I drafted a pattern and was off to the races. It is an old-timey kind of quilt! This is my quilt Kittens in Baskets.

I had scraps of old fabrics I had collected and used many of them to make the baskets in which the kittens sat. I also used some modern reproduction fabrics that fit with the theme. The original quilt had black embroidered details on the kittens so I did the same with two strands of black embroidery floss.

And what is on the back of the quilt? A reproduction fabric....naughty little kittens playing with balls of yarn!

Speaking of naughty kittens, here's mine in his basket. Gump is partial to the works of the Group of Seven hence the little print hanging on the wall in his "apartment"!

I hope you enjoyed seeing my Kittens in Baskets quilt and my kitten in his basket!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I've added another round to the centre medallion of my hexagon quilt. Below is a picture of the original quilt from Lorraine's blog Granny Loz. It consists of a medallion of roses surrounded by two different hexagon snowflake designs. I like to name my quilts because it helps me identify them on my blog but also it helps me keep the project organized when I work on it! For now my working name is Lozagons!

I've made the rose piece for the medallion. Last night I attached the next round which consists of of off-white hexagons with pinks in the corners. The next step is to make six strips of four pink hexagons that will be stitched between the corner pinks. They are cut and basted and ready for stitching.

If you look closely at the  quilt the large snowflakes they consist of a solid in the centre, a round of six hexagons cut from a print, a round of twelve hexagons cut from a solid. There are two more rounds but for now I need to cut a variety of solids. They will be my jumping off point and from there I'll start selecting prints to go with them.

Close-up of block from original quilt courtesy of GrannyLoz 

I've cut 2" strips from solids. I also have a pile of old fabrics that I bought at a yard sale. I might use some of them to give the quilt a vintage feel!

For now I will cut strips of solids and a few prints that I plan on using. From each strip I will cut hexagons. I'll need 12 solids per snowflake block and there are 26 of them in the quilt. I'll pull out my little bags, one for each snowflake and store the hexagons in each. It will make for a nice portable project that I can take with me when I am out and about! I've prepped a little sewing kit that consists of a snowflake block in a bag, needles, small scissors and basting thread. All of this is packed up in the lovely sewing kit that I received from Bunny!

I'm also working on testing a pattern for a fellow blogger, Missie of Traditional Primitives. Missie drew her inspiration for the pattern from a spectacular antique quilt. I'm getting the hang of her method and can't wait until I have permission to share the blocks and quilt with you! If you just can't wait be sure to visit Missie's July 19 post where you can get a sneak peek of some of the blocks. She is also running a little giveaway so be sure to enter!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yellow Bird is quilted and progress on the new hexagon project

Yellow Bird is done and I hope my friend Babs likes what I did to her quilt! The last decision I had to make was what to quilt in the black inner border and I decided to go with a figure 8. It is a simple and quick motif to quilt and it can be very effective.

I used the figure 8 in my quilt Piccadilly to the Nines (which I plan on finishing this week)!

Close-up of Piccadilly to the Nines figure 9 quilting

Probably the trickiest part is figuring out how to deal with the mitered corners but if you know the trick it isn't difficult. It quilts very easily because for many of us a figure 8 is a familiar shape to doodle. You can read about how I quilt my figure 8's here.

Bab's used a black backing and I think it is fabulous. I used Superior The Bottom Line (silver colour) in the bobbin and I think the thread and quilting look great on the back. I just love the way the figure 8 quilting looks on the back.

I'll try to get outside to take a picture of the entire quilt but for now you will have to be happy with the corner. I am beyond thrilled with the feather border on the outside. I've never done anything like it and have simply amazed myself! Really! You don't know what you can do until you try! The plumes are not equal or identical but you don't see that...all you see is the lovely texture that they create!

Last week I shared a picture of a quilt that I fell in love with and it is next on my very long "to make" list! I saw this quilt on Lorraine's blog. It is such a cheerful quilt! If you love hexagon quilts be sure to click on that link because there are several lovely hexagon quilts in the post.

I went through my stash and pulled fabrics. I pulled these two for the turquoise snowflakes.

These fabrics are being turned into these rosettes! I've got a nice pile started!

I also pulled these two fabrics for the center medallion.

I added a subtle off-white, tone on tone print and now have the beginning of the medallion stitched together!

The next step is a border of the off-white fabric followed by a pink border. I've selected the fabric I will used so I'll prep some hexagons for basting when I'm out and about!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rip it out and Round 5 of the Secret Tote Bag Swap

I've finished quilting the centre of Bab's Yellow Bird quilt. Kathy had left a comment that the quilt looked like it is yellow and blue but in fact it is yellow with black and white. In some pictures it reads pale yellow but it is in fact a lovely, bright, zingy lemon-yellow. It is very dramatic and really pretty! I quilted a wreath in the centre and filled it with doodling. It flattens the area and adds great texture. I filled in the rest of the quilt (up to the black border) with feathers. All I would do is sketch a spine and quilt a feather to fill the space. Then I would draw another spine and quilt the feather. I really like the effect it created and it was so fast and easy.

I'm not sure what I'll do in the black border but it is ditch quilted so it can wait. Instead I moved on to the large yellow outer border. I wanted to quilt feathers. I quilted the feather that you see on the left and wasn't jazzed about it. To my eye is too large and boring so I tried something different and you can see it on the right. Much better! So I spent the evening ripping out the quilting on the right.

This is what the border will look like with the new quilting plan. I started by sketching a question mark in the middle of the border and quilted it. From there I divided either side of the question mark into three sections and in each I sketched a spine for a "C" shaped feather. I like the effect of this new design much better.

As heartbreaking as it can be, sometimes it is better to just rip it out!

Many of you will know that I've participated in Lia's Secret Tote Bag Swaps in the past. She has launched Round 5 and the theme is the Noodlehead 241 Tote. Everyone will work with the same pattern so it will be really interesting to see variations! If you decide to sign up you will complete a form with your likes and dislikes. Once the sign-up is closed you will receive an email with your partner details. You won't know who gets your name and your partner won't know you have her name. You have roughly a month to make your bag. Usually we tuck little goodies inside the bag!

 I've made several bags from the 241 pattern. It is fast, easy and very well illustrated. Here are some pictures of what I've made. This one was appliqued with butterflies and a grasshopper. I added beaded zipper pulls to jazz it up!

I made this one as a gift. The recipient wanted a bag that she could use to carry her knitting. I used upholstery fabric for the front and back panel. She loved the large graphic print!

The theme for this swap was geometric shapes so I appliqued some bright colours to Osnaburg that I quilted with straight lines.

I made this for my partner in a previous swap. I forget the theme but I loved the bag and my partner said she did too!

And this the tote bag that I received in the last swap! My partner tucked all sorts of wonderful goodies inside! I told her I like the 241 pattern so she got it and tried it out herself! It is a great bag and oh so summery!

To sign up for the swap you must be a FLICKR user. You will find the instructions for signing up here. If you are interested you have until July 19th.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Monday, July 14, 2014

More about Hexagreens and the reveal

Yesterday I shared some pictures of parts of my quilt Hexagreens. I have a fabric that I just love and I have used it to make Hexagreens, Mom's Flower Bed and Flora and Fauna, Parts of the Garden. 

In the case of Hexagreens and Mom's Flower Bed the diamonds were fussy cut, some using templates and others were cut from strips of fabric that I cut parallel to the selvage. This method produces oodles of patches in no time flat. The thing is that when you do it from strips you have no idea how the block will turn out! You can read about how I cut my diamonds from strips here. To start you need a fabric with lots of action! This is the fabric I used. 

All of the floral print stars were cut from this fabric. Depending on how the diamonds were arranged the block could look very different. All of the stars in the quilt below were from the fabric above using a strip method of cutting diamonds.

Close up of Mom's Flower Bed, 2011

By placing the green print at the point in the middle a really nice effect was created. 

Sometimes the diamonds just don't work together so instead I would use them to surround the star. In creates another interesting effect.

This is the centre medallion in Hexagreens. The bright green was used here and also in the border. It was also used for the centres of the stars that you can see in the upper right and left corners as well as the lower right and left corners. Repeating the green fabric helps to pull the quilt together and although it is scrappy and multicoloured it reads as a green quilt.

Close-up medallion in Hexagreens

I also repeated some of the stars. The following star was made in multiples. I used it around the medallion and I also used it in the border. I used a brown fabric for the background but ran short so I added a second brown print and made sure that it was used in many of the stars so that it would just blend in! Sometimes it is a good thing to run out of fabric. By adding a second or third similar fabric it can add depth and dimension to a quilt! 

While this medallion looks complicated it is actually made of large hexagons. I used my foundation paper pieced English paper piecing method to create all of the stars with the needle points! Colour placement was also a factor. Let me show you a close-up of how some of the components were constructed. 

So what does the whole quilt look like? It looks just like this!

Hexagreens by Karen H

Did I have a design for this quilt? No! I started by making the large brown and orange star in the middle. Once it was done I thought about what could come next and I decided on the first round of little stars. The next round was fussy cut stars from the fabric at the beginning of this post. I put the orange stars in the corners and two yellow stars in between them. The quilt developed just like that. Each time I finished something I would think what next! It was a fun quilt to make although it did present a few challenges! Maybe one day I'll write a pattern for this quilt! For now I have plenty to do so it will be a job for a future date!

That's it for now. I want to get Bab's quilt finished so I can get back to 81 The Giant Monstrosity! Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H