Wednesday, 31 December 2014

TOP 100 - FaveQuilts 2014

Happy New Year!  

I have started my New Year with the exciting news 
that my pattern for the block
"Chevron Strip-Tube" 
has been named as one of 
FaveQuilts Top 100 patterns of 2014! 


Here are the links for you to enjoy!


 

Thank you to FaveQuilts and Mollyhall for publishing my patterns.
FaveQuilts 2014 Top 100 Patterns













Saturday, 13 December 2014

Season's Greetings!



 Thank you for reading my blog.  
Please enjoy my Christmas story for 2014.  
Season's Greetings!  
Melanie

It was about 10 years ago and Grandma was nearing 80.  She is actually my mother-in-law, but quite a bit older than my own parents, I always called her “Grandma”.   She is a loving, kind, and quiet sort who is grandma thru and thru, baking, gardening, and listening to the happenings around her. 

She was living in a lovely little senior’s apartment in small town Saskatchewan, only a few blocks from our home.  It was about two weeks before Christmas and, as it had become tradition, our night to take her for a Christmas light tour.  We would look at lights in Eatonia and drive down the highway to see some of the farmyard decorations, the snowy countryside on a winter night, and the lights in Glidden.   She loved this evening and started asking us about it early in December.    

This year it was an especially cold night of about -30C.  It was clear and frosty.  The most gorgeous sort of night that makes the colours of the Christmas lights glow with shimmer and sparkle.  Everything glimmers, including the roads, trees, the snow covered fields, frost of the fence posts, the moon and the stars. 

Brad warmed up the car as I made the hot chocolate.  I always added a “little extra” to it to make the evening merry.  This was the usual routine, but this year I may have gotten a bit carried away – or maybe Grandma got the wrong go-cup.   She was a small person and I tried to be moderate, but the mother of teen-age sons doesn’t really moderate well when it comes to food. 

When we picked her up she was bundled in her big coat and boots and Brad got her into the warm car.  She was comfy with her special hot chocolate.   “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” energetically played on the radio. 

We enjoyed our tour of homes and farms, beautiful lighted trees, Santas, reindeers, angels and stars.  It was a lovely evening.  The snow covered fields glittered with the most incredible beauty. 

We returned home to empty hot chocolate mugs and pretty Christmas memories to go to sleep with but we had a petite, festive situation. 

From the back seat she quietly said, “Do you think there was something in that hot chocolate? I can’t get out of the car.”  There might have been.   

Brad helped his mom out of the car and supported her as she giggled and walked across the frosty sidewalk up to her apartment door.  He helped her get settled onto her couch where she was quite happy to be. 

When he returned to the car he laughed as he told me, “You better not spike her hot chocolate anymore”.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer.   I think I might know why.    

Friday, 24 October 2014

My Cozy Plaid Quilt


     

      
This is a quick and fun block to make which results in a woven design.  The layout allows for a variety of different quilt design options.  At the end of this post you will find 2 more variations.


+AP16


Materials:  1 - 10" neutral colored square.
                 2 - WOF (width of fabric) 2 1/2" strips of 2 different colors.
This pattern is suitable for the use of layer cakes and jelly rolls, or cut from your own fabric.  


 Make a cut 3 1/2" from the left side of your 10" block. 


 Using a 1/4" seam allowance, insert the first 2 1/2" strip.


 Trim the strip after sewing in place. 


 Press towards the dark fabric. 


 Turn the block so your strip is on top and make a cut 3 1/2" from the left side. 


 Insert your 2nd strip, using the same color as the first strip.  Press and trim.  


 Place your block as in this photo and make a cut 7" from the left side. 


 Changing colors, inset your 3rd strip.  Press and trim.  


 Place your block as in this photo and make a cut 7" from the left side.   


 Insert your 4th strip.  Press and trim.  



Important Step: 
Using your ruler as a guide (and the above 2 photos as reference) keep a 3" square on the smallest neutral corner while trimming your block to 12 1/2".  This will keep all of your blocks uniform and all of the strips will match up from block to block if you choose a layout requiring this.   

Imagine this modern block in your traditional plaid colors...please enjoy! 


+AP16


 2 more design layout options. 

 


Like strip-quilting? 

      
Recycle your jeans - pockets and all.
 

+AP16

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Squaring Up Quilt Blocks (Even If You Know How)

 


I am working on a new quilt and have gotten to the "squaring up" stage.  This is a good block to demonstrate a few tips on.  It will be trimmed to 11 1/2", sewn to 11" with a 1/4" seam allowance.  

Tip #1:

Using painters tape, tape the corner and edges of your block size on your square ruler.  I am using a 15" Square Ruler and it has many, many lines.  Taping off the size allows me to line up my block at a quick glance.  Painters tape can easily be removed from your ruler without leaving residue.

+AP16



Tip #2:

Turn your block to the diagonal before lining up your ruler.

On a block such as this Tavern Puzzle, it is important to line up the diagonal ruler line as well as the corners.  Place the diagonal line on your block first, then line up the corners.  

Turning your block to the diagonal position now allows you to cut 2 sides of the block at once.

+AP16
Tip #3:

After your first side is cut, flip the block and simply line up the cut edges of your block to the green tape marks.  This is so efficient.  Now trim the remaining 2 sides of your block in one motion. 

Ta da!  I hope this is time saving for you on your next quilt top.


+AP16


Here is another helpful tutorial:




 


 



Friday, 29 August 2014

A Few Tips on Free Motion Quilting - Round Robin Sampler




I am by no means an expert at Free Motion Quilting.  I want to take a class.  Practice, practice, practice...that's the biggest tip I can give you.  I would like to share with you what I learned doing a full size quilt as a sampler.  Completed this quilt is 75" x 75". 

In the spring I was working on a Round Robin quilt project with my guild.  This was a fun project that combined the talents of the participants to produce a quilt for each of us.  We each supplied a centre block, in my case the double lion block, then the quilts were circulated through the group on a monthly basis.  After 8 months and 8 rounds added, we were each given our quilt back that we had begun.  I was completely impressed with the result of my project!  Thank you to the wonderful women who worked on it.

The way this quilt was produced in "rounds" gave me the perfect opportunity for a Free Motion Quilting Sampler.  The defined boundaries were most helpful for stitching in.  I have been wanting to get better at this technique and this allowed me a lot of repetitive (in a good way) learning.   Being able to repeat the method helped regulate my stitch length and gave me the opportunity to create different stitch patterns. 

The first of my challenges was to find ideas on how to stitch the lion's manes.  On the internet I searched "Lion Coloring Pages".  These pages offer simple line drawings which are suitable for stitching inspiration.



Next I sketched simple and manageable lines to stitch.  I drew two options, one more circular and one with sharper points.  I find that Free Motion Quilting is similar to drawing, so if I sketch the idea it gives me a feel for the flow once I get the quilt on the sewing machine.  These are pretty funny...enjoy a little chuckle :)



The manes ended up being one of the last things that I stitched as I had to get up the courage!   I  ventured off of my original design idea somewhat and I love the finished look.  When I got to stitching this I felt more comfortable doing the circular motion, so that is simply what happened. 




The filler stitching around the lions was first drawn as this sketch.

For many of the stitching patterns I went online for ideas and inspiration.
Please see my Pinterest page on Stitching Designs for some of these ideas:
Quilters...Enjoy Color! Stitching Designs on Pinterest


I would love to take a class in Free Motion Quilting.   What I know is from my own experience combined with a few tips from other quilters.

These are the things that I learned from doing this sampler:

Use the "needle down" feature on your sewing machine if you have one.  This will put the needle to the down position (in the fabric) when you stop stitching in the middle of your pattern. This is extremely helpful and keeps your stitches from jumping, which creates unwanted sharp points in your stitching.
 "Needle-Down" is the double triangle with the light on. 


Define boundaries in your work.  This is so beneficial.  Breaking your work down into small sections makes the stitching manageable.  This was easy to do in the Round Robin design as all of the sections were added as borders to the quilt.  This provided long, narrow sections to stitch within.  As an example, the "ribbon" stitching pattern was easy to do within the 1" wide black border section.   The small red and cream squares provided a perfect area for the stitched "lollipop" design.  The circle "bubbles" worked perfectly in the brown section that is approx. 4" wide.





Posture is so important.  I can't emphasize this enough.

First, a little story - short version, I promise.  When I was 18 and watching a hockey game (well...talking to a friend near the boards of a hockey game) a player's stick came up over the side.  The end result was me with a broken jaw, wired shut for 6 weeks and eating pudding!  Now at 48 my jaw causes me a little grief on occasion.  This is why I speak about posture. 

Sit up straight.  Keep your shoulders down and relaxed.  Keep your jaw relaxed by parting your lips a little bit.  Don't bite down on your molars.  Don't bite your tongue.  I had to teach myself not to do this.  I used to bite my tongue between my molars.  No! No!  FMQuilting causes a tendency in us to scrunch our shoulders.  Don't do it!  Keep your neck long and as much tension out of your shoulders and neck as possible.   Keeping your forearms on your sewing table and keeping the weight off of your shoulders can be very helpful.  This is what I am learning to do now.

Take breaks.  Stretch.  Do twists in your chair.  Take a yoga class.   I have been attending yoga classes for 3 years and it has been extremely helpful.    Yoga stretches out what we all constantly bend one way during sewing.  



A good view of the "rounds".  There is still a pinned section on the cream colored area that I am going to do in a heart pattern.  I sketched the design and did a practice piece on some scrap fabric.

Doing a small practice piece gives you a feel for the flow of the design. 

This Round Robin Sampler provided me an opportunity to work on my hand/eye/foot coordination.  
Practice is what it takes. 



Here are 2 of the patterns that I designed to use for "rounds" on the quilts that I participated in: