Monday, March 30, 2015


The first spring day that the laundry can hang out on the line is day worth celebrating! Oh, the wonderful scent of sheets dried in the fresh air!
Do you have a clothesline?  Do you use it?

Sunday, March 29, 2015


I sewed blocks from all the strips of fabric that I had.  Then I rooted around in my stash for just a few more  That brought it up to 127 blocks, enough for a 9 by 13 setting, which should measure out to 58.5" x 84".  When borders are added, this will become a single bed quilt.

I'm not going to be fussy about this one in terms of controlling the colours.  They are what they are.

These rows are fairly easy to sew together, as all the seams nest.  Each intersection between rows will have a few stitches removed so that the intersections can become "rosettes" on the wrong side.  That eliminates a lot of the bulk.

I'm working on a tutorial for this quilt, and when I post that you will be able to see what I mean about creating "rosettes" on the wrong side.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


 This is the north side of the #2 greenhouse just beside the driveway.  The sun has not managed to melt the last of the snow piled up here.  Those black objects are bales of potting soil leaning against the lower end of the plastic to keep it snug against the foundation, safe from blustery winter winds.  What looks like a picket fence lying on the ground is the shadow of the "roof" of the "lath house"--an open construction with just some beams on top to give a little bit of shade of trees waiting to be sold.

And here, very small, on the opposite side of the driveway, sheltered in the sunny bed right up against the south wall of the house are the first blooms of the summer: snow drops.  They are an inch or two in height, with bell-like blossoms that hang over, looking at the newly warmed soil.  Pretty soon some similarly small purple blooms will join them.  All of them first harbingers of a landscape full of flowers all summer long!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


This big fat robin has been here for a week already, having arrived well ahead of any companions.  Hope the others follow soon!

Monday, March 23, 2015


Today I started a new career: garden centre employee!  Well, perhaps just shifted my jobs here at the garden centre.

On Saturday Jim brought home a large amount of very small plants from a wholesale greenhouse.  Today S and I were busy transplanting them into pots and 4 packs.  In a 7 1/2 hour workday we got a lot done!  More of the same tomorrow.

That's the dear one behind me, bent over a tray of 475 pansies, poking them out of their little "fingers" of dirt so we can transplant them to the 4 packs.  He's wearing a white hat, which kind of makes his head disappear.  I gave him a haircut this past weekend, but left his head intact.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Did lots of sewing this week, as this coming week will involve greenhouse work: transplanting little plants into the 4 and 6 packs for retail.  Plus, the weather was pretty poor.  I know we can't complain when we see the hammering the eastern half of North America has received this winter, but I just mean it was enough to keep us indoors, and that means it was conducive to sewing.  

Here are a sampling of the pinwheel blocks from the stack of 4 1/2" strips.  I tried to match complementary colours in a block.  These are not at all the colours I usually choose, but I'm liking them a lot.  There are 48 blocks here and I have another 8 made.  There are lots of strips left.  I think I'll use them all up as pinwheels and then see if it will make a single bed sized quilt, or two lap quilts.  Either way, I'm pretty happy with this project.

We had just about gotten rid of our snow piles.  The landscape was almost all tan--last fall's colour in the fields, when it began to snow again today.  It was coming down pretty thick a few minutes ago.  I took a seven second video, but it won't stick onto the blog.  Don't know what the trouble is, but maybe you're not even interested in seeing a little snowstorm in our back yard!

Sunday, March 15, 2015


A year ago I was struggling with a major quilt for our bed, Pinwheels and Patches.  I had a terrible time with the pinwheels.  If you had told me I'd be making a quilt of nothing but pinwheels, I would have snorted in disbelief.  But here I am doing just that.

For this quilt I want all the pinwheels to go in the same direction.  But as I was struggling to understand the process I made some blocks that went the wrong way.  This first photo shows one of those blocks.

I realized today that if I picked the block apart I could fix it.  So I did, and got this proper pinwheel.  I fixed the "wrong way" blocks.

Then I picked up some that had been just begun and thought I'd finish them.  Well, in quilting there are more wrong ways to
do things than you can imagine.

I sewed the two parts together, then the four parts together.  "That's odd," I thought--this was supposed to make four blocks, but I'm getting eight."  Well, all the better!  But when I turned them over to press them this appeared: not a pinwheel, but an hourglass, which is made from half the parts of a pinwheel.  Pick out again! Sew together again the proper way.

Now I was beginning to understand the whole process better, and that really speeded things up.  In just 80 minutes I made 9 complete blocks.

The method: Sew two contrasting 4 1/2" strips right sides together, on both long edges, at 1/4".  Cut them into 4 1/2" squares.  Cut the squares on one diagonal. Press toward the dark fabric.  You now have quarter blocks.  Sew the quarters together, then sew the halves together.

I'm really enjoying this new project.  First new project in a LONG time!

This finished quilt top was begun years ago with no finished object in mind.  I just started sewing together 2" cut squares in an 8 x 8 format.  Once in a while, just for a change of pace from my current project, I'd make one block.

Because I'm really trying to finish up old projects this came out of the closet.  I counted 9 complete light/dark blocks and 8 complete all dark blocks.  It took just one more light/dark and two more all dark blocks to have enough for a nice large comfort quilt.

I really didn't feel like sewing them block to block.  Can you imagine how many intersections would have to meet.  Besides, it would be way too busy.  So I got out a few large pieces of fabric to audition them.  The blue won out.  There are also little dark red cornerstones at each intersection.

The last cut for the border left a smidgen of material.  No waste whatsoever!  The binding is already cut, out of the dark blue.

The last photo shows the nice backing that I found on Saturday.  A deep red with thin beige lines through it.  It's darker than it appears in this photo, and matches some of the reds on the top of the quilt.  I like how the little squares imitate the pattern on the front.
My project this week will be to layer and machine quilt this top.

The week after this I will be needed in the greenhouse, so quilting will be shelved for a while.  Not too long, I hope!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


 Way back when, about four to six years ago I started sewing together 2" squares into an 8 x 8 setting, giving blocks that will finish at 11 1/2".

Now there are 10 of the all dark blocks, and 9 of the light and dark blocks.  There's one more light/dark block set out on the cutting table.  It will take a fat 45 minutes to sew it together, giving me 20 blocks altogether, 10 of each.  They will be set 4 blocks wide and 5 blocks long.

Rather than try to sew them to each other with all the points matching I will sash them with corner stones.  In the stash are these two pieces of fabric, which are probably big enough to give the sashings and borders needed.

The question was going to be, which is better, the deep blue or the pale beige.  Looking at it this way I think the answer is clear.

Which fabric do you think is the better choice?

This project also qualifies for  "sticking with it" but it still needs to be completely finished.  I did finish another lap quilt top that I started last fall.  It needs batting and backing and machine quilting, and this time I'm going to have Brenda quilt it with her long arm machine.  I'll post the finished project when I get it back and get the binding on.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


 In spite of the siren call of new projects, I am sticking with the aim of finishing up several all-ready begun, and almost-finished projects.

This beauty was made last summer following a trip to the Drumheller Quilt Show with S.  She was looking for inspiration and liked a similar quilt.  We snapped a few photos and from that I made a pattern.  We both made a version of this quilt.

It was a bit unusual for me in that all the fabric was newly purchased specifically for this quilt.  Such pretty colours!  That was fun in itself.

I like to use variegated thread for machine quilting, and here are the ones used in this quilt, on top of the fabrics they stitched.  The fat purple spool on the right was used in the bobbin on a purple flannel backing.  The quilting was simple: 1/4" seams around the edge of each section.  The quilt was busy enough and needed minimal distraction.

I finished the work on Wednesday and snipped off all the thread ends this morning.  It's too pretty to give away to just anyone.  Maybe it should go to one of our kids or grandkids.

Now it's on to another old project.  The quilt top is ready in three sections.  I think this time I'll sew them together and apply the borders before machine quilting.  The blocks are set on point, so the quilt can be rolled up from the corners to fit on the DSM.  It is also a pretty busy quilt, so I'll probably just stitch in the ditch.

Picture will follow when the quilt is finished.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


A few questions came up about the quilting on the Patches and Pinwheels.  It's a really big quilt, so I sewed it in sections: the top, the two sides, and the bottom.  Then I quilted it that way, so the biggest section was just 60" x 80".  I sew on a Janome 7700 which has an 11" throat, a BIG benefit when machine quilting.

For Patches and Pinwheels, because it's quite a busy quilt, I did a simple in the ditch quilting.  This is the view of the backing, which is a good quality cotton sheet.  Sheets are too finely woven to use if you are going to hand quilt, but very nice for a machine quilted quilt.  The batting is a Warm and Natural, so it doesn't need terribly close stitching.

Here you can see where the top, the side and the bottom come together.  The top is in the lower right, the side in the upper right and the bottom falling off to the left.

You can see the two strips that border the top meeting in the center.  When sewing the sections together, I machine sew the top of the quilt.  Then I trim the batting so that the two sections meet in the middle of the seam and don't overlap.  The backing is then folded over, lapped over the opposite side and hand stitched to the opposite side of the backing.  By not overlapping the batting, but trimming it to just meet, you avoid a lump in the seam.

Another feature I've used lately in large quilts that reach the floor is to trim off the corners.  That means you don't have a puddle of quilt on the floor at each of the bottom corners.  It took a little while to figure out the right way to make the pattern fit, but with a little bit of experimenting it came out pretty good.

After I made yesterday's post I wrote an email to Elaine Adair, thanking her for her inspiration and help with this quilt.  She wrote a nice reply, and mentioned that she was following Bonnie Hunter's method of making pinwheel blocks.

So this morning I had to go to Bonnie's free patterns and see how she did it.  Then, of course, I had to try that method out.

I went to my boxes of cut scraps.  You can't see clearly here, but they are labelled, 4"+, 3 1/2", 3", etc.  I chose two contrasting strips from the 3 1/2" bin and followed Bonnie's directions EXCEPT I sewed both long edges of the strips, right sides together with a 1/4" seam.  THEN I cut the triangles, and they are already sewed.  The few stitches on the points are
easily removed.  I sewed two sets of triangles together, and then sewed the center seam of the block.

WOW!!! a perfect meeting of points.  I was so happy!

Doing it this way means the bias seams are in the center of the block and the outside edges are straight grain, giving stability to the block.  Plus, the bias center seam means it's easy to squish or stretch to make the center points come together, not that it was necessary in this block.

The method I mentioned a little while ago is what I used for that top block, and is taught by the Missouri Quilt Company.  It works well, but results in a block with bias edges, making it a little hard to handle.

Quilting life is full of adventures!  

Monday, March 2, 2015

A REALLY BIG QUILT, 110" x 113"

There was nothing on the calendar that needed to be done today, so today became the day to finish a really, really big quilt that I started perhaps as much as ten years ago.  I saw a very attractive quilt on Elaine Adair's blog and decided to try it out.  It's composed of pinwheels and patches (4 x 4 squares).  At that time I made enough blocks to cover a queen sized mattress: 60" x 80".

Those pinwheels were HARD!!! I found it really difficult to make the four points meet exactly as they should.  It was pretty discouraging and that 60" x 80" top went into the closet and mouldered there for several years.

A year ago I decided it needed to be fished out of the pile and finished.  It was hard deciding how to finish it, but I finally "bit the bullet" and made sides and a bottom.  By the last meeting of Quilt Club in April of '14 I had the blocks made, the four parts (top, sides and bottom) quilted and sewed together.  It needed only the binding and some quilting in the borders.  It languished in that form until today.

This is a Sew Easy Cutter/Ruler, and it is very handy!  The strip of material is 79" long, folded in half the narrow way and then folded in half the long way, giving four layers.  The Sew Easy holds the material flat on the cutting board.  You press down on the red top and the rotary cutter comes down on the material, easily and precisely cutting through all four layers.

In this picture the cutting head is at the far end of the ruler.  Ease up on the cutting head, the rotary cutter lifts and you can reposition the ruler for the rest of the cut.  This made quick work of cutting 6 border sections.

Because the quilt is so big and heavy (9 lbs.!) I moved the student desk next to the sewing table to help support it while I sewed on the binding.  The long binding is folded into big loops, held together with a pin, and stowed under the machine extension (that nifty little see through table that adds sewing space to the machine.)

I used to always sew the binding on the front of the quilt by machine, turn it to the back and hand stitch it in place.  I started to apply this binding that way, and after
about 12" realized I wanted to sew the binding to the back of the quilt, turn it over and machine stitch the binding to the front.  By 12:30 I was within 8" of finishing when I ran out of thread.

A quick trip into town to buy another spool and pick up the mail, and I finished sewing down the binding.

Time for dinner--an easy task since we'd had company yesterday and there were
enough leftovers for a "rerun."

It remained to quilt 1/4" inside all the borders, and the job was finished around 5 p.m.

Here it is on the bed, first seen from the doorway and then seen from the other corner with a reflection in the mirrored closet doors.

I LOVE IT!!!  It was a hard quilt to make and there was loads of frustration along the way, but I'm delighted with the final product.