Friday, December 26, 2008

Quilty Christmas gifts

Last weekend, I finished piecing 4 Christmas gifts for friends and relatives. I came to the realization on Sunday night that all 4 still needed to be quilted and have the binding put on by Christmas day!!! I put in a few late nights at the sewing machine quilting and sewing the binding on the 4 table runners/table toppers and got up earlier than the rest of my family on Christmas day to hand sew binding on my MIL's. I actually finished hand sewing the binding on one friend's gift in the car on the way to Sarnia on Christmas day. Thankfully, all gifts were completed on time and delivered to the recipients who all seemed pleased with their quilty gifts. Here are a few photos of some of the gifts I made for Christmas this year. One still has not been delivered yet so I will show a photo of it later.This table topper was made for my cousin who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. I mailed it to her on the Saturday before Christmas and was told by the post office lady that it would not arrive in time for Christmas...she was wrong!! It arrived on the Tuesday before Christmas. My cousin's 4 year old daughter thought it was just the right size for her doll!!! She was quickly told that it was not a doll quilt!

This table runner was given to a friend at church. If you click on the picture to make it bigger, you can see that the squares and border are snowman fabric. She had come to our quilt guild show in the fall and had admired the quilts so I thought she might like a quilty gift.
The three churn dash blocks in this runner were made from some leftover charm squares that I had after finishing my SIL's Christmas gift (see below...). I gave this runner to a long time friend in Sarnia--it matches the colours in her family room and now graces her coffee table. I like the way the green binding and red sashing really pop on the cream background.
This is my MIL's table topper. It was completed on Christmas morning. She can have this out for the winter as it has snowmen and snow flakes on it.
This table runner has been posted before. It was a gift for my SIL. I think it will look nice on her dining room table.

I love making gifts for people, especially when they are not expecting a gift from me at all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shhh! It's a surprise...

This table topper is for my MIL for Christmas. I finished piecing it tonight. Most of the material in it is from a charm pack by Moda called "Let it Snow, Let it Snow". The cream fabric and the dark blue squares are from my stash. I bought two of these charm packs so I can make my self something as well. I may even use the same pattern since I am pleased with how this table topper turned out. I also pieced one more gift tonight and I have one more to go. The pictures will not be posted until after Christmas as the recipients may be looking at my blog.

I am hoping for a snow day tomorrow...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Preparations

Santa put this ornament in my stocking last year. The trunk of the tree is a thimble.
I continue to work on Christmas gifts in my sewing room, none of which I can post yet so that the recipients do not see their presents before the big day next week. I took some pictures of ornaments and decorations that I have made over the years and thought I would post them for you to see.
I made this one about 20 years ago. It is made from yo-yo's stuffed with cotton balls.

I made several Christmas tree skirts from this pattern for my parents, my in-laws, my sister in law and for a friend for her wedding gift. Everyone is still using them every year at Christmas.

I made this creche in 1987. I worked in a church at the time and part of my job was to tell the children's story each week. During Advent, the children opened a gift which contained part of the creche each week. On Christmas Eve, the baby Jesus was in the last parcel. When my daughter was little, she liked to act out the Christmas story with the figures. She played the part of the narrator. The three wise men are still not finished yet--they are sitting by my sewing machine in hopes of being finished this year so that they can join the other figures in the creche.

I purchased 3 panels to make this creche and kept one for myself. I gave the other two away to a friend and my sister in law for their small children to play with.

I purchased this Christmas decoration when we were on holidays in Philadelphia this past March.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fabric Postcards

This week, I made 4 fabric postcards. Two others are started but not done yet. I had problems downloading the pictures the other night so I took new pictures and will try again now to post them to my blog... Cross your fingers...

Yeah!! I got it to work tonight! I'm not sure why I could not post the pictures the other night.
I would like to make some more postcards before Christmas--we'll just have to see if I have time. I have lots of other things to do in the next 3 weeks. The house and tree are not decorated, there are no lights outside, shopping is not done, no wrapping done and no Christmas cards done yet. I have big plans for this weekend....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mystery Quilt

Here is a picture of the blue border I added to the Mystery quilt I am making. Each month, another border will be added. I wonder what the next one will be like??? For the pattern, go to Claudia's Quilts.
I also made some postcards tonight but I am having problems uploading the images. I will try again tomorrow.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sewing Room Clean-up

I had another snow day last Friday. My quilting friend came over and we spent most of the day cleaning up my sewing room. It had not been tidied for a very long time and had reached the stage where I could not do any sewing in there. I also could not find things very easily--it was such a mess. It had also become a dumping ground for stuff that did not have another home. These before pictures tell the sorry tale... they were actually taken part way into the clean-up.

I am happy to say that now the room is looking much better. My sewing machine has been moved out of the family room and back into the sewing room where it belongs. I even did some sewing in there tonight for the first time in over a year. My family is very happy. They were beginning to think that my "sewing room" had taken over the rest of the house... Here are some pictures of the very neat version of my sewing room. All of the containers and drawers now have labels to tell me where things are...It looks so much better!!! I have a much better idea how much I have in my "stash" and where all my tools are as well. It will be a lot more fun to spend time in here now!!!
Tonight, I made a cloth book from a panel for my cousin's new baby boy. They live on a farm so I thought this cloth book panel was perfect for baby "Cameron".

Friday, November 21, 2008

Snow Day!

Yesterday, I did not go to work because of heavy snowfall and poor road conditions. Today, I am not able to get to work either for the same reason. So, yesterday, I had a snow day! That meant I could spend much of the day sewing! I completed the last 18 of my Cobblestones blocks and worked on a Christmas gift. I can't post a picture of the Christmas gift--that might ruin the surprise! However, I can show you pictures of several layout options for my Cobblestones quilt. There are 48 blocks in this lap quilt and over 80 options on layouts. Here are some of the designs I tried on the family room floor last night. Let me know which one you like.

Today, I am going to clean up my very messy sewing room. Stay tuned for some before and after pictures.

Monday, November 17, 2008

10 Things I learned

My sewing spot, all ready to start the workshop...

This past Saturday, I went to a workshop organized by my quilt guild, the London Friendship Quilters Guild. The teacher was Heather Stewart. There were about 20 quilters there and we spent a glorious day sewing and learning. During the process of starting a "Cobblestones" quilt, Heather gave us many tips and tricks, many of which she has developed herself in her 27 years of teaching quilting.

Here are 10 of the many things I learned on Saturday:

1. Use a dry iron (no steam) to press when quilting. The steam can distort the fabric. Always iron in the direction the threads are going . Don't wiggle the iron or iron in circles or curves. This also makes the fabric go off grain. (I have to admit I was a steaming wiggler before Saturday!)

2. Wear leather shoes when using a rotary cutter. Protect your feet while cutting. If you drop the rotary cutter, a lot of blood can be shed. Heather told us of a quilter who had to have surgery to fix a severed tendon in her foot after dropping her rotary cutter on her foot.

3. Clean your equipment. Rulers can be washed in dish soap and water in the sink to remove oils from your hands. Take apart your rotary cutter after doing a lot of cutting (say for one quilt) and clean the blade and plastic parts with a soft cloth to remove fabric lint. Take the blade out of the rotary cutter with a fridge magnet to avoid cutting yourself. Cutting mats can be cleaned with a damp scrubby--the kind you get in the bath aisle at the drug store --using a circular motion and some elbow grease.

4. When cutting with a rotary cutter, hold it like this:
Note the index finger is on the ridges of the handle just above the blade to apply pressure to the right spot on the blade for even cutting. The above picture also shows how to hold your other hand on the ruler--at least one inch back from the edge to avoid cuts if the blade slips up onto the ruler, and with just the tips of the fingers on the ruler for more even pressure on the ruler. She called this her "live spider" as opposed to a "dead spider" where the hand is flat on the ruler.

5. Always stand to do rotary cutting. Your cutting surface should be 3 inches below your elbow to help avoid repetitive strain injuries.

6. Your sewing machine bed should be 2-3 inches below your elbows when you are sitting at the sewing machine. Sit up straight and align the centre of your body with the needle. Your back will not hurt as much after a long sewing session. (I also have to admit I was a hunched over sewer, at least until Saturday)

7. Your foot pedal should be directly in front of your knee with your foot pointing straight ahead--this also helps to avoid a sore back. Heather gave each of us a piece of rubber web (the stuff you buy to put under throw carpets so they don't slide across the floor) to put under our foot pedals so they did not slide across the floor as we sewed.

8. When ironing, let the pieces cool on the flat surface of the ironing board before moving them to the sewing machine. This will help the pieces to keep their shape.

9. Use cascade cutting when using the rotary cutter. We were cutting 1 1/2 inch strips. Heather suggested we cut the edges of the fabric off to create a straight edge (to the right of the ruler in the picture below) and then cut a 6 inch strip (the width of the ruler).
She then moved the ruler to her left and put the edge of the ruler at 4 1/2 inches. She cut here and then moved it over to 3"...
and then 1.5 inches.

All this cutting, and we did not have to move the fabric once! This sped up the cutting process considerably.

10. Keep sewing. They make more fabric every day. Always wash your fabric before sewing with it to wash out the chemicals and to preshrink it.

And now, here are some pictures of my Cobblestones blocks. I finished 3 blocks at the workshop and had several more in various stages of being done at the end of the day. I spend some time last night making some more blocks. Here is a picture of my completed blocks as of last night. There are many different layout options for this quilt. When I have all 48 blocks done for my lap size quilt, I will play with the blocks and take some pictures to post on my blog. The blocks are 8.5 inches before sewing them together.

I'm off to do more sewing...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Trees are done!

I finally figured out a way to make the trees work!!! Thanks to Christine for your suggestions! Here they are...
Tonight, I started on the houses, but yikes!!!, each one has a triangle roof!!! I have 8 houses to make. Wish me luck...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Table Runners and Cobblestones

I finished two table runners on the weekend. Here is the first, made from a Moda Charm pack.
The second one is a gift for my cousin and his wife who grow pumpkins. I am a bit late for this year's pumpkin season, but they can display it next year at pumpkin time!

I spent much of my time this past weekend preparing 20 fat quarters for a "Cobblestones" workshop which is coming up this Saturday. It is being led by Heather Stewart for a group of London Friendship Quilters Guild members. Heather is our speaker this Thursday night at our guild meeting. There is a lot of cutting for this quilt! It should sew up much more quickly now that all of the cutting is done. I am looking forward to a day of uninterrupted sewing time. This fabric was purchased when I was on vacation during the March Break 2008. The fabrics are from a Moda fabric bundle called "Acorn Hollow". I love these colours! With all of this prep work done, I can get back to my triangle trees later this week.