Friday, November 17, 2017

Machine Quilting Tip

Besides using a type of thread that your sewing machine likes (my machine is exclusive to Aurifil these days) the other really important choice is what type of needle to use. 
I use a different needle for quilting and for piecing. I know a few people who never change their needle until it breaks - I'm looking at you Louise!! LOL
I always change my machine quilting needle after quilting every large quilt, or after 2 or 3 small quilts. It is really important when your needle is making thousands of stitches through 3 layers of materials at a high rate of speed to have a sharp needle. Needles that develop spurs or become slightly bent can result in costly machine repairs. Needles are cheap but sewing machine repairs are not!

Here's my tip: place the needle container near your machine so you always know what type of needle you're using. You can see on the little ledge on the right side of my machine that I have my Schmetz Topstitch needle case there (and you can see that it's empty because I go through a lot of needles). It's a visual reminder to me of the type of needle that's currently in the machine. If I want to stop quilting and start piecing, I would want to change the needle. For precision piecing, especially with tiny pieces, I prefer the Microtex Sharp needles. 
Yes there is a difference!
If you have problems with tension, skipped stitches or thread breakage, I would encourage you to try a new and/or a different kind of needle.

It has been a long time since I stipple quilted anything. It's one of the quickest and easiest quilting designs to use and since the baby quilt has to be finished, it got stippled. And look at that... the binding is prepped and ready to go on!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks

My Dad has been in hospital this week, so there's not been much quilt studio time for me. Thankfully he's doing much better and hopefully will be coming home today or tomorrow. I have had lots of time for hand stitching and will show that on Sunday.
But with all the commotion, I completely missed that Quiltmaker has released the newest 100 blocks magazine
It's my favourite! 
The Quiltmaker blog has a lot of posts this week and giveaways happening - click here to check it out. I will be scouring the local book stores to see if I can find a copy around here.
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Whipping up a baby quilt

A friend of mine just had twins... baby #3 and #4. 
Of course they needed their very own quilts.
Baby boy is getting the Berenstain Bears quilt that I finished last month and Baby girl is getting this quilt that I have been working on this week. I've had everything since the spring quilt retreat but of course I procrastinated it until the babies arrived and the quilts weren't ready!
The pattern I used is called "Through the Looking Glass" from Sew Emma. The main fabric is an adorable owl print from Robert Kaufman.

Here is the quilt top. It was quick and easy to put together and before I knew it,
I was already pin basting the backing, batting and quilt top sandwich and it was ready to quilt.
Baby quilts are so fun to make!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Design Wall Monday

Meadow Mist is gifting us a free mystery quilt called Magnolia Mystery. It started in the summer and a new step is posted once a month. The pace is perfect to work on in between all the other quilts we are creating.

I finished trimming the bazillion HST blocks from September, and began assembling the units from the November instructions. Here are some of my blocks on the design wall, in an arrangement that has nothing to do with the pattern. I'm feeling very virtuous using up all these scraps from other projects! Nothing will be purchased for this lap quilt (except maybe some backing fabric if I run out of scraps).
In addition to enjoying a fun mystery project, there are terrific prizes to be won by those who finish their project by February. It's not too late to join in the fun!
Linking up to Small Quilts and Oh Scrap!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Slow Sunday Stitching - Lighting

Welcome to the weekly hand stitching party! We invite you to settle in for some relaxation, visit our inspiring stitchers at the links below, and take some time to put a few stitches in one of your favourite projects.

Since the time change last weekend, I've been reminded that at some times of the year, most of my hand stitching is done in the dark. Which means that proper lighting is a very important consideration since I plan to be hand stitching my way through the cold, dark winter. I'm trying to learn how to knit on 4 needles and am having a terrible time reading the instructions and seeing the stitches. Just look at this mess! 
Oh dear... and there is a lot of counting involved! 

I enjoyed reading Teresa's blog post this week on the same topic of lighting (read it here) and found it interesting to see some of her lighting solutions. I'm on the lookout for one of the "Beam 'n Read" lamps that Teresa recommends. 

There are lamps beside every stitching spot in my house, but I also have a few extra lamps that have become my favourites, because one light is just not enough! I had a portable Ott light that I really liked, but the bulb burned out and I have yet to find a reasonably priced replacement bulb. 

Mostly I am using my favourite Ikea lamp .
The winter hand quilting project reappears!

Convenient features:
*the base is solid and heavy which makes it secure and not easily toppled.
*the goose neck is flexible and can be focused right on your stitching area.
*it gives a nice pool of perfect light to work in. 

Inconvenient features: 
*this is a plug in lamp, so you must be near an electrical outlet to use it
*you need to be sitting near a table to set the lamp on

I also like this portable lamp (with no identifiable brand name) that is sold in quilting stores around here. 
Convenient features:
*it charges itself from the computer and provides direct light right over my hand stitching.
*it folds completely flat, is lightweight and is a great take-along light source. 

Inconvenient features:
*it requires a flat surface to sit on and because it is lightweight, it's quite tippy. I usually use it when stitching at a table, and I can sometimes balance it on my lap. I have also been known to prop it up over my shoulder when sitting in waiting rooms with poor lighting, and have also set it on top of a stack of pillows in hotel rooms with terrible lighting.
*the charge doesn't last very long with maybe about 1/2 hour of light, which is not nearly long enough for my hand stitching needs!

And while you are thinking about your favourite lighting solutions, you can enjoy James Taylor singing with the Lowcountry Voices "Shine a little Light".

 If you have a lighting suggestion to share with us, we are all ears (to help our eyes)! We want to stitch all winter long!
Link up your blog post with your lighting ideas and/or share your suggestions in the comment section below.

    An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Scrappy Saturday - All Tied Up in Knots!

For the rest of the year, the Rainbow Scrap Quilters are encouraged to finish up some of their scrappy projects. That is my downfall. I love to use up crumbs and scraps, and sew them into interesting blocks, but then there are all those hard decisions about how to get them into a finished quilt.
At the end of last year, with a lot of effort I was able to finish my Spools quilt top... and even though a whole year has passed, it's still just a quilt top. UGH! For that project I need to purchase a large hand quilting batt, and get it pin basted.
I had a serious talk with myself about setting some goals to finish some of my Rainbow Scrap quilts. I cannot start next year with the same list of unfinished projects as I started this year with!!!
So this month I'm going to focus on my collection of Knot blocks. The pattern is from the Quiltmaker's 100 blocks magazine, issue #3. Did you catch that? Issue THREE! That's how long ago it was that I started this project. 2012! 5 years of indecision is long enough! 
I was going to finish this with the quilt-as-you-go method but I already have another labour intensive QAYG project on the go and it will take at least another year to finish. 
So I'm going to just take the next steps to move this project closer to completion. I found some fun sashing and border fabric and hope to get these blocks sewn into a quilt top soon. 
To see more Rainbow Scrap projects on their way to becoming finished quilts, hop over to the weekly link up.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Gifting Quilts Dilemma

Since reading recent thought-provoking blog posts by quilters Audrey and Julie, I have been really thinking a lot about quilt gifting.
To give or not to give a quilt ... that is the dilemma. 
I no longer care if the quilt will be liked by the new owner, if it matches their home decor, or will be put into "deep storage" as something they either don't like or like so much that they want to "save it"/not use it. I give it because of the joy of giving away something special that I have made. 
All quilters know how long it takes to make a quilt. To select a pattern/design, to find the right colours and fabrics, to cut and sew the quilt top, to purchase the correct type and size batting, to complete the machine or hand quilting, and then finish the whole thing with a binding. It's a large investment of my finances, my energy and my time.

And if I gift that investment to a person or organization, I do so because either I want to donate to a worthy cause or because I love someone enough to want them to have quilt I have made, to provide comfort and warmth, and to be a tangible reminder of how special they are to me and much I love them.

However, having said all that, I'm going to bravely talk about my dilemma of giving quilts to a certain person in my family. In the past I have given quilts to my children because of course the children of a quilter should be surrounded by quilts! 
But here's the problem - my sweet 4 year old Granddog Max loves quilts too. I have written about him before (read it here). More specifically he loves to cuddle up in and consume quilts. It really is his favourite thing to do. 
Here is the most recent casualty. Can you see all the holes in this quilt where the sun can shine right through?!?

"Mom can you fix this?"
What should I say/do?
There are a few other quilts at my house that Max has chewed holes in, and I have repaired them and then placed them out of his reach. But this one was at his house. 
Binding edges!
I guess I either have to be fine with having holey quilts, or not give any quilts to stay at Max's house. 
Should I put the time and effort into fixing this one? And then let it go back to his house for further ravaging?

Max's quilt... long gone!

In case you are wondering, I did make Max his very own baby quilt. And he chewed on it until it was just a pile of threads. I thought he would outgrow that when he outgrew his puppy stage, but that didn't happen.

Ideas are most welcome!!