Showing posts with label It's Warm Inside. Show all posts
Showing posts with label It's Warm Inside. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's a Warm Finish!

It's Warm Inside is finally a finished quilt!

This poor quilt has really had its ups and downs. I designed it to be Quilt as You Go (QAYG), with the narrow white cotton sashings. But, between the fluffy flannel log cabin blocks and all the loose batting, it was way too dusty for my allergies. So, I pieced it all together and took it to a longarm rental place to quilt it myself.

Wait for the chorus...

That turned out to be a really miserable experience that started with a friend of the owner setting up a quilt on the machine I had reserved, and which went way downhill from there. I should have walked out right then, but alas, I was not as smart as the song. The clincher was when the owner told me that my quilting idea was wrong and looked bad, when I was about half done. Fortunately, there are other fish in the sea!

But, despite all the hardship, in the end I think it's a likeable quilt. The snowmen are jolly, and the simple quilting works fairly well on the flannel logs. I circled around all the snowglobes in the border, which made them quite puffy:

The fat red binding stands out well too. I had a couple of yards of aqua, white and red Christmas fabric that I think I meant for a border at one time. But it matched perfectly, so I used it on the back here, and filled in the remainder with the leftover snowmen fabrics from the front.

I have Mimi Dietrich's book Happy Endings, which includes this idea for piecing the label right into the back:

Since I had to piece the back anyway, it made sense to me.

So, I'm glad to have it done, only two years later than planned! I'm catching up. :D To see all the posts on this quilt, please click here.

The gnome? He kept his thoughts to himself.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Warm Flimsy

Here's the finished flimsy for my mostly flannel log cabin quilt, It's Warm Inside:

Wait, wasn't this quilt supposed to be finished with a quilt as you go technique? Why is it now a flimsy?

Well, it turns out that for people with severe dust allergies, like me, quilt as you go is a terrible process. I managed to cut the batting for six individual blocks...

... and I felt like I had run a marathon. As you can see I gamely basted them together, but I couldn't bring myself to cut any more batting.

The idea for this quilt as you go design is a couple of years old now, and was conceived for my old sewing machine. I realized that my new sturdy machine would be able to handle the full size flannel quilt. So, I unbasted the squares and sewed the whole top together.

I know that border fabric looks a little busy...

...but try to imagine a bright red binding on the finished quilt. It will bring it all into focus.

I am amazed, actually, at how much the narrow white cotton sashing lifts and brightens the whole quilt. It feels much more cheerful and fresh.

And it's an appropriate finish for today, which has been the coldest day in Toronto this year, and probably for several other years as well. At 7:00 am it was -28 Celsius outside (-18 Fahrenheit), and the north wind was shaking the house. That's unusually cold for Toronto! But, with the cold we also have brilliant sunshine, and it is indeed warm inside.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Year in Review

I was going to do this after Christmas, but yesterday I noticed that the new moon and the winter solstice coincide this year, so now is the time to put the old year to bed, and then make Christmas the celebration of new beginnings that it is meant to be.

So I'm back! Last year Toronto fibre artist Kit Lang did a wonderful post reviewing her projects and learnings from the past year. I believe that improvement, whether you are an artist or an artisan, requires regular reflection and adjustments, so I decided then that I would do something similar this year. Here are the highlights of what I've learned in 2014.

I'd been stressing about UFOs for years, and last January's resolution was to cut them all loose. Clean slate, start over.

Well, it was easy to say, hard to do. All my old projects crept back on the list.

My final thought is that it's like gardening -- cutting away the dead wood makes the whole plant healthier, but over pruning can be equally bad. The trick is balance,

In May I got a new sewing machine, the Brother Nouvelle 1500s high speed, single stitch machine. What a difference it's made!

I've never thought that it's reasonable to spend thousands of dollars on fancy gadgets for a hobby, but I can feel my opinion changing on that. I'm finding that better equipment gives a better result, and makes the process a lot more enjoyable as well.

Also in May, I was able to get this project, It's Warm Inside, from start to finish in about 3 weeks. That was the fastest I've ever done anything quilty! It broke down some mental barriers for me about starting and finishing in a timely manner.

Why was this one so easy to finish?
1. I had all the materials ready to go.
2. It was just 16 blocks, so there was no time to get bored.
3. I planned and cut the whole quilt before I started to sew. Then I wasn't slowed down by decision making during construction.

No, it's still not quilted, but I count it as a success nevertheless!

Mod Trips
Finishing those 16 log cabin blocks empowered me to get back to these Scrappy Trips blocks that I'd started in 2013. You could say they were a UFO whose time had finally come!

I applied what I'd learned. Rather than choosing, ironing and cutting fabrics for the blocks one at a time, I chose and cut everything for the rest of the quilt in one go. This streamlined the process, and it helped me make better choices, because I could see how everything worked together.

Even still, it was a grind to get the 25 blocks done. I think my threshold is around 20 blocks!

On the other hand, the two pillow covers I made from the leftovers were really fun. I think I liked the puzzle of how to fit them all together. That's something I plan to do again!

Over the summer I also put myself on a schedule to finish my "forever project," Texas Star. The schedule was easy, just six stars per week, and it worked.

I had to put my other forever project, Trick or Treat baskets, on hold while I finished Texas Star. Then, as I was finishing up Mod Trips above, I came to a big realization. It's not enough for a project to be interesting, I also need to have an emotional connection with it. Mod Trips is nice enough, and I'm happy it's done, but it's all intellectual.

And the baskets will be the same thing, too much head, not enough heart. I like the grey colour scheme and the fabrics intellectually, but I don't love them. I may start it again down the road in different fabrics, but this version is definitely dead.

Although it's nowhere near finished, this new project Jacks and Cats was still an important lesson. I learned that it is good to have a big stash.

I hear the groans! Over a year ago I resolved to only buy fabric for specific projects, and to stop buying just for stash. But I've changed my mind.

What I've found is that when inspiration strikes, it is very helpful to be ready to go. I bought the magazine and started this project on the same day. The whole thing flowed together beautifully, and it was super fun to be able to ride that initial wave of inspiration. For me, I think that's the best way to work.

Yes, I'm a little worried that now the brakes are off the shopping cart, but actually, I've bought less fabric recently.

Ink Week Finale

November's lesson was about the importance of the blogging community. Really, it should be whole separate post, but I'll just keep going here.

I am so appreciative of all you, bloggers, readers, and commenters, for the support, encouragement and inspiration you provide!!

My project Down in the Garden, had been languishing with just a few of these herb pots done, when I noticed that Kaaren at The Painted Quilt had started it too. She encouraged me to get back to it, and crucially, added my blog to her blog list.

That's so important, because I can see the traffic coming in from her blog, and it's very motivating. It is very helpful to borrow someone else's confidence when your own is flagging! It gave me the encouragement I needed to just go for it with Ink Week.

Then Mary Corbet recommended the series, and sent a huge spike in traffic my way. But, right between parts 3 and 4, a family emergency briefly knocked things askew. Once again, it was knowing that people were watching and waiting for the rest of the series that got me back on track and helped me to finish. And I'm so happy I did, because it turned out even better than I'd hoped!

So, when I say that I appreciate you all, it's not empty words. I really mean it! You make me better. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Machine!!

I've had my eye on this sewing machine since another Ontario quilter whose work I admire recommended it to me. A couple weeks ago I finally had the chance to drive up to That Sewing Place in Newmarket and give it a good trial. Needless to say, it came home with me after that! Isn't it beautiful?

You can see that my sewing table had a previous incarnation as a paint studio. But never mind, the machine is the Brother 1500S, which is a single stitch, high speed sewing machine. It has everything I want, including a needle down function and lots of workspace, and nothing I don't want, like a bunch of fancy stitches I'll never use. My old Janome still works well for those times I'll need the zig zag stitch. Although I am starting to think that will not be too often!

I was very lucky that the owner of the store, Jaret, who is an expert on this machine, was there to give me a complete lesson. Once I got home I was able to get it all threaded and set up without even cracking open the manual. It also comes with an extension table and a knee lift, which are not shown in the photo.


So far I've used it to piece the flannel parts of my snowmen blocks, I've done a little free motion quilting on the Homegrown placemats, and I've done some straight line quilting with the walking foot on Edward's quilt. It is really nice. When you get the free motion up to speed, the fabric positively glides under the needle. And the humongous walking foot is making easy work of Edward's wretched quilt. Plus, the machine will hold a full sized thread cone, which I really love.

So, no more excuses! I have a back log of projects that need quilting. Some are so old and long forgotten that I thought I'd post some photos with my to do list:

Homegrown kitchen set -- a little more FMQ in the centres and these will be ready for binding.
Edward's quilt -- long, long, long overdue, the straight line quilting on this quilt has been an ongoing nightmare. I used a new flannel sheet for the backing and the fluff goes everywhere, and it just keeps getting hung up for no apparent reason on my old machine. But the new machine copes beautifully!
It's Warm Inside -- I have some FMQ and an experimental quilting in sections technique to try on this one.
Hen Party -- I almost sent this out for quilting, but I had my own ideas that I wanted to try too. Now I can!
Highlands Houses -- my latest idea is to quilt this all over in a small clamshell pattern. I hope I can pull it off. :)
Spring Planting (aka the yoyo quilt) -- I think I finally have a way to quilt this monster. The yoyos make it very fat!

Since my WIP list has grown again, it seems appropriate to link up to WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network. Here's to a decent list of finishes in 2014!

Monday, May 19, 2014

16 Snowmen Blocks Done!

All my log cabin snowmen blocks are now done! Here's the final layout:

I have to say that my plan to randomly select my next project has been a success. Even when I was tempted to start something else over the past couple of weeks, the inital burst of energy from the quilt "lottery" generated enough momentum to carry me through. Fortunately, the chosen project was not very large, so that helped too!

The next step here will be to sandwich and quilt the blocks individually, and then join them at the end. But before I get to that, I have a backlog of projects to quilt. More on that in the next post!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Four More Snowmen Blocks

I haven't had much time to sew this week, but I do have another four of the log cabin snowmen blocks to show you.

My original plan was to use just the almost-solid blenders on the front of the quilt, and have a very graphic, more modern look. The white snowflake fabric in the block above was intended for the back. However, once I started cutting the strips for the blocks I realized that I didn't have enough for the top, and I had to "borrow" from the back.

That's what I get for buying the fabric before I finalize the design! But, I'm actually quite pleased with the way it looks, I think it adds a little sparkle to the quilt.

I hope I still have enough fabric for the back!

Friday, May 9, 2014

First Four Snowmen Blocks

I've had a fun day today, cutting the rest of my flannel strips and piecing the first four snowman blocks for my lap quilt, It's Warm Inside. Flannel is great to work with, I've found. All my fabric goes through both the washer and dryer, and the flannel is practically felt when it comes out. It doesn't fray, it doesn't stretch, the pieces stick together when you sew...easy!

I finished the first four blocks and while I was ironing the last seams open and congratulating myself on a job well done...

Whoops! LOL. Time to call it a day. But I did fix it first.

Last time I said I would give all the measurements, which I am now regretting because I don't know if anyone really needs measurements for a log cabin block. These ones will finish at 12" square. But I know estimating yardage can be tricky, so I think what I'll do is write the whole thing up in a proper pattern once the quilt is done.

So, here are the first four blocks finished, with the red and green block fixed up:

The flannels are all from Connecting Threads, by the way, from their Quilter's Candy Flannel Basics collection. And still available too!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Strip Chain Piecing

Here's my next new project, which I'm calling "It's Warm Inside." This is one of my randomly selected projects from a couple weeks ago. The concept is that we are looking out at the snowmen through window frames, while cozy inside. I was inspired by a photo of this project that was posted on Sew Mama Sew, but made by Shruti from And yes, it's just taken me half an hour to track down those links! project will be a log cabin lap quilt with several "new-to-me" techniques, including a version of quilting in sections and the strip chain piecing that I used to make the framed snowmen above. Judy Niemeyer uses a variation of this with paper piecing, which I'll be using when I get back to Riviera Star as well. So it was good to get some easy practice first!

Strip chain piecing is a fun technique that I will definitely use again. But, I made a couple of wrong moves, so I can share a few tips so you can learn from my mistakes! Plus, I'll give you all the measurements in case you want to make it yourself.*

I started by fussy cutting the 16 snowmen into 2.5" squares from two suitable fabrics I found in my stash. I had another fabric with snowmen too, but they were too small for the frames and it didn't look good. The white strips are cut 1" wide by the width of the fabric (WOF). For the 16 blocks I only needed 5 strips.

I started the strip chain piecing by putting just the white strip in the sewing machine and taking a few anchor stitches 1/4" from the edge. My fabric is a solid, but if yours is printed put it right side up. Then, with the needle down, lift the presser foot, lay one of the squares face down on the strip and right against the needle. The square and the strip should be right sides together and lined up along the right edge. Lower the presser foot and continue sewing your 1/4" seam. Once you've sewn down the square, keep the needle down, lift the presser foot, lay down the next square, and repeat to the end of the strip.

Benefit #1: No pins are needed, because the presser foot holds down the top of the square, and you can just keep a finger (carefully!) or a stylus on the bottom edge until it's sewn.

Benefit #2: All my snowmen were cut on the bias, but the strip underneath stabilizes the seam so it doesn't stretch at all.

Tip #1: Iron the seam open before you cut apart the blocks, it is more accurate. I didn't do that for the first strip, and some of the edges came out a little wonky.

Also, make sure the seam allowance is pressed away from the centre, which you can see is wrong in the photo. I had to go back and re-iron all these after I cut them apart!

Once you have cut apart all the blocks, you can start another strip and sew as before, laying each block in face down and sewing them to the strip one at a time. When you work clockwise around the block, and you iron the seam allowances away from the centre, all the seam allowances will be "down hill" as you sew, so no pins are needed.

Tip #2: Use a ruler to cut the strips apart, and keep squaring them up as you go. The next raw edge should be 2 1/4" from the opposite seam. I tend to sew a scant seam, so I often trimmed away a sliver of fabric from the centre while I was separating the pieces.

Once the four sides were sewn on, I gave all the pieces a final trim to square them up to exactly 3.5".

The next step will be to cut the rest of the outer strips, which will be in flannel, and finish the blocks. I'm hoping the contrasting fluffy and smooth fabrics will be interesting on the finished quilt. It's a lot of cutting...

...but, working with flannel like this is also "new to me," and it's been fun too, so far!

*Everyone is welcome to make this quilt for personal or charity use only.  Design, photos and text are copyrighted. Please contact me in the comments or via my profile with any questions.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bad Behaviour and a New Approach

Well, I'm back. I've had more than my fill of doctor's waiting rooms, and I have no intention of going back any time soon!

I have not been able to do a lot of sewing, but I've definitely had lots of time to think! Back at the beginning of the year you may recall that I had bold plans to shelve all my old UFOs and start anew with a clean slate. After just four months it's clear that was a complete failure. All my UFOs have crept back onto the to do list.

Plus, I started one...

...two... projects over the break! And, I've noticed that I compensate for not sewing by buying more fabric, but I better not go into detail about that, lol. Both the new projects are foundation paper pieced. The maple leaves are batiks that have been waiting for their moment for a long time, and the winter star is new fabric, the Jack Frost 10" square collection from Keepsake Quilting. Beware -- most of these fabrics are home dec weight, and not the best for detailed piecing!

Anyway, I've forgiven myself for the new starts. It's been a stressful time, so a temporary distraction was helpful.

But I also still think I need fewer current projects. I've decided to cut them down to five categories and choose just one from each:
  1. Machine Pieced
  2. Hand Applique
  3. Stitchery/Embroidery
  4. English Paper Piecing
  5. Cross Stitch
I've realized that I am much more productive when I have fewer decisions to make. So, I made lists of all started or ready-to-start projects in each area and used a random number generator to choose which ones to work on now. I was worried that I wouldn't like the results, but actually I love them. Each time the random number came up, I felt a big sense of relief when I checked it against the list. I think any result would have been a relief -- sometimes it's just helpful to make a decision. 

So, the first round of projects will be:

  1. It's Warm Inside -- a log cabin lap quilt to be made with this cute snowglobes flannel fabric I bought from Connecting Threads last fall. A brand new project!
  2. Trick or Treat Baskets, designed by Barb Adams and Alma Allen of Blackbird Designs, in their book When the Cold Wind Blows. I saw this quilt recently on Supergoof's blog (it's the second basket quilt in that post), and I had to add it to the list. I've seen others working on it too. I like the Supergoof's pink and white blocks, and I bought a little of Connecting Threads' new Hampton Hues collection to add to fabrics from my stash. Another brand new project! And a big one...
  3. L'Herbier -- Two of the 16 embroidered blocks are done. I'm hoping this will move along easily, now that all the kinks are worked out.
  4. Texas Star -- There were only two choices in the category, this one or the setting for BFF. I guess BFF will be on hold for a while!
  5. A Kiss for Snowman -- I had an absolute craving for cross stitch over the break, and this is the project I've been working on. I did not choose a random number on this, I'm determined to get it done soon!
It will be interesting to see how this new approach works out. Two winter projects, just as summer is starting! Right now I'm feeling pretty motivated, so, fingers crossed!
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