Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What was I thinking??

I completely forgot to include the PAWS blocks!

The Baby Bear Paw: many more pieces...

The Mama Bear Paw...

Spending time with Lolah today... sneak peak only!



Pause for Paws!

A pause from the sewing machine today... but not from the needle!

The bindings are done!

Remember the Rotaplast quilts? The quilts have been washed and they're on the clothesline drying! I'll be bringing them to the guild meeting next month.

These dry really fast in our desert climate!

And Smokey River (blogged here and here)? Smokey is ONE LARGE SQUARE QUILT!! Had to wrap it around the corner to get it hung all the way across! Its binding is also finished.

Now I'll be able to concentrate on other evening projects... Peppermint Place block 2 awaits appliqueing and embroidery. Notice the judicious use of tape to hold the skate blades aka tiny paperclips in place until they are sewn down. 

I picked up Block no 3 from Quilty Pleasures for July last week but haven't had the chance to work on it. August arrives this week and that means Block no 4 will be ready too. Will have to get ahead someday soon... 



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Working chains!

How do you make your half square triangles (HSTs)? 

Here is my preferred method to make 8 HSTs from one square!

Start with a 6 1/2" square in background and focus fabric, RST (right sides together);

Draw a line on both diagonals (these are cut lines only!); then draw a 1/4" line on either side of the diagonals (these are sewing lines);
Next draw a line in the center vertically and horizontally: (these are cut lines only!) 

Now sew on the first 2 lines you drew 1/4" away from the diagonal: I love chain piecing!

When you get to the end of your squares, don't bother breaking thread; just tug a length of thread out and continue down the other side of the diagonal

 Once you're done the first 2 lines, snip the threads that link the squares.

And repeat the process sewing on the lines on either side of the other diagonal: the sewing is not showing too well here because the thread color is close in value. Snip the threads between your squares.

Now it's time to cut on the lines we drew: you can refer to the first photo but basically, you'll cut the 2 diagonals and the vertical and horizontals running in the center of the squares.

You'll have a neat pile of HSTs ready to iron.

Be careful when you iron these as the sewing line is a bias seam and it can get distorted if you aren't careful.

I like to make the HSTs a little larger than needed starting with a bigger square of fabric so that I can trim them to size before using them in my quilts. It helps with accuracy!



Monday, July 29, 2013

Before Lolah!

Long before Lolah arrived in my life, I had a homemade system to help machine quilt large quilts. I found a used White sewing machine that ran smoothly and quietly and made a beautiful stitch. The Flynn System for quilting which I had purchase at Road to California Quilt show was just not working for me in the way it was meant to but with longer poles and a support system all I needed was something to ride my machine on. So I devised this system: 

Here you see the Flynn attachments to the long poles supported by hangers screwed into a piece of wood that is attached to the tripod legs I found at the local big box store.

The machine bed was made out of plywood with a series of swivel wheels and 2 handles made from sturdy hanging hooks.

The machine pedal was easy to reach with my right thumb while holding the hook and maneuvering the base around the quilt. 

The table was covered with a piece of shiny 1/4" thick board; the wheels had no resistance and they moved freely. It was surprising how fun and easy it was. 

The only problem was the amount of space I could quilt at one time which wasn't a lot. Four to six inches at most!

But I quilted this whole quilt using a meandering stitch and it turned out great!
As long as I didn't run over my assistant!!



Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Spent quite a bit of time refining the choices of fabrics for each section of the quilt and making changes to the pattern cutting instructions. I omitted one plain beige fabric. If I find the taupe with the stars too busy I will substitute it with the beige.

Then it was time to cut! I did manage to get the squares marked for the Half -square triangles for both Mama and Baby Paws.

Here are the pieces for the Baby Paws:

And the pieces for the Mama Paws:

Even the Santas are ready! I'll be doing raw-edge applique on these.

It's a start!



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Paws for Santa II

This is the first time I create a second large quilt with the same pattern. My thoughts return to the old quilt... I find myself longing for that color scheme! It's hard to break that bond! But I did well this time! I decided to go for elegance... the Old World Santas "demand" it.

Well I was not disappointed! I spent about an hour yesterday looking through the stock of Christmas fabrics trying to get a feel for what I wanted in the Paws for Santa II. It took me awhile to get that groove I love to feel, the moment I know the fabrics come together to make it work.

I piled bolts of fabrics on the counter and kept changing my mind UNTIL I pulled out the Santas! That's when one fabric turned everything around for me... I was quick, then, to choose the others to coordinate! The girls at the shop were very patient with me and let me create. I must say they have a wonderful selection of Christmas fabrics. 25% off too until the end of the month!

First off: the backgrounds:

Next: the reds:

The greens:

the teals & gold

The colors are luscious and deeper than the photos show.

I've tested the colorfastness: Do you do this? Is this a necessary step for you? It is for me! You see, I used to wash every fabric as soon as I got home from the store; then I would iron it all and store it or work with it immediately. But I don't do that anymore; it's not that it's too time consuming, I just love the crispness of the freshly purchased fabric. Besides, I love the look of the quilt after it's washed for the first time. It shrinks a little and the washing gives it an "old" feel.

The Color Charts are ready too! Paws for Santa file had a 4" square of fabric from each one used. There weren't that many. Today I like to know what company makes the fabric I use and what pattern or color number is labelled on the fabric selvage in case I run out. No worries there... I bought enough to make 2 quilts! Regardless of whether I make another one after Paws II, the information will be valuable if only in my records.

Today I start cutting!



Monday, July 22, 2013

BINDINGS... Hand or Machine applied?

Do you finish your bindings by hand or by machine after applying them to the front?  I've never had good luck stitching them down by machine! Perhaps due to technique? Perhaps it's because I find it relaxing to make the last stitches by hand... it gives me time to reflect on the process of this particular quilt... time to rejoice in its completion!

I had to shop for fabric for the Rotaplast quilt bindings! I also needed black fabric to bind Smokey River!

These bindings will be my evening work this week. That Smokey River is a HEAVY & LARGE quilt! I'll need to rest it on a table while I work.

While at the store (Candy's Quiltworks) looking for suitable fabric for the bindings, I learned there was a sale on Christmas, Fall and Halloween fabrics! I've been looking for similar fabrics to a quilt I made in 1999 I called Paws for Santa.


I found this pattern in a quilting magazine (? which one) and just had to make it! It measures 98"x98". The blocks are 14" finished and I labelled them Mama Bear and Baby Bear blocks.

I replaced 4 Mama Bear blocks in the center with the Old World Santas that came as a panel fabric purchased years before. I liked the panel so much I decided to get a second one just in case I needed more.

The pictures really don't do it justice! This quilt sparkled! The colors were bright and the edges of the Santas were worked in gold.

Can you tell these have been stored for well over a decade? They're ready to be ironed-on to a background fabric!

The quilt was hand-quilted by St Ann's ACW in Westcock, NB in October 1999 and was exhibited at the Lupin Quilt Fair in July 2000. It was not for sale but someone liked it so much that they wanted to buy it! I spent a lot of time on this quilt and I thought my price was high enough to discourage the purchase! But they never balked at the price so off it went to them! It was and remains the ONLY quilt I ever sold! I hate parting with my quilts but I am quick to make them for gifting. This quilt was not meant for anyone but myself so I felt and still feel its loss... I never got to display it at Christmas!

So now I'm on a mission to recreate it! But first I want to find fabrics that come close to those I used if possible.

These are Cranston Prints and the colors work really well with the colors of the Santas. It would be hard to find the same fabrics; I've been looking for so long and I don't have enough of any of these three. The background fabrics aren't a problem.

So off to that sale I go today... I'll know when I see the right combination! Don't you just love to pull fabrics together for a new project? HOW INVIGORATING!!! And on a MONDAY too!!!



Friday, July 19, 2013


Dreaded Wednesday! I scheduled Wednesday to quilt 2 baby quilts for the Rotaplast (surgery to repair cleft palates) charity our guild supports. I loaded them side by side on Lolah. First mistake! One backing with 2 quilt tops might work but not 2 separate quilts... I ended up taking one off and quilting them separately. Won't make that mistake again! I'm still on the learning curve!

Then I set up the pantograph and went to work! I'm not comfortable with panto work... PERIOD... I'm told though that it becomes easier the more you do it! I hope so! The panto I chose is called Cotton Candy (6") from Simple Quilting Stitches; several pantographs were included with the purchase of the machine.

It's an easy pattern to quilt but I'm not comfortable being on the "other" side of the machine! I call it quilting blindly! All went as expected for a beginner quilter! Not bad but not so smoothly...

The backing is the same on both quilts... pink!

What I didn't like about the panto on the first quilt was the frequent advancing because there was only one row of pattern to work with! So for the second quilt, I decided to trace the pattern making 2 rows.

NOW that worked much better and faster.

As I was deciding what to quilt on this little doll quilt, I noticed the little flower in the background and thought, how nice it would be to draw my own pattern for such a flower.

And after I drew the design, I decided it might be too advanced for me at this stage and I should try the design on a practice piece first. I made it 50 inches across with a 13in width. This is what I will work on today after I apply the bindings to these little quilts!

NOTHING VENTURED, NOTHING GAINED - You can't get anywhere unless you're willing to take a risk. Chaucer (c. 1374)