Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quilt Block Swaps

We got a call Monday morning after breakfast. It was something we were not expecting. My sister-in-law's husband had died on Sunday. What a wonderful man the world has lost. He was a gentleman and a gentle man. He was a yachtsman and loved to sail on the sea or any other place that had a body of water. He was involved in many activities and was never one to be idle. Now he has made his final voyage. My DH and I feel we have a great void in our lives at the moment and I decided I was not going to sit and dwell on the negative but turn the moment into a positive action. I had purchased some flannel for making baby blankets for the neonatal unit at our local hospital and never got started. So as I make these blankets I will think of my brother-in-law's passing as sad but also think of the new babies coming into the world to fill the void. I hope you all will understand this will be my last post for a time.

I received this block in the mail yesterday and did it ever cheer me up. This block was made by my new friend Sue from Australia. This block comes from the quilting block swaps in Australia (button on my left side bar ) where you specify which colours you'd like used and which block pattern if you so desire. Sue also included a lovely quilt card and a small panel of Christmas images which I just love. The blocks in the panel are just the right size for me and I think have many applications like labels, pincushions, used in mug mats etc. Thank you so much, Sue. I love my block and you certainly brightened my life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quilt Block Swaps

Do you remember when you were young and your mother dressed you up so warmly that you looked like a snowman. You had your arms stuck out permanently and waddled as you walked because you couldn't manage any other way due to all the fabric around your body? Well that is what I looked like last week trying to get in the last few days of "summer" on the golf course. It was wonderful and very cold and very worth the clothing aggravation to take those last swings. Looking back on it I don't know how I managed to swing the club and not fall over. But today I awoke to find snow on the ground and the realization hit me that winter was truly on its way. Mind you, I started to hear the words to the song  "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" in my head as I looked out which made me feel better about the situation. Speaking of Christmas, let me show you what the postman dropped off this week.

As you know I belong to the International Friendship Quilters and one of the events they hold is a block swap. You send your partner a 4 1/2" centre square and she decides which colours to use in order to finish the block. This is what my new friend Lynne made with my square. Too bad the photo does not do it justice but I think she captured the essence of the centre square in this block.  Thank you Lynne. If you would like to participate in this event or view any of the other programs the IFQ has just click on the link. Membership is free.

The postman dropped of another block next day. I also belong to the Australian Christmas Block Swap group and have been waiting for this one to arrive. In this group you can specify which block pattern you would like made using  Christmas fabric. What you don't know is what it will look like until you receive it. I was tickled pink when I got my block. This is Linda's original star pattern design. What a great job she did. Thank you, Linda. Because she took a little longer than expected to get the block to me she also included a Mug mat. I don't have one of these and have always wanted one so this made me feel like it was Christmas.

Whenever I use this mat I'll be thinking of her. If you like to have Christmas all year long this swap is for you. You can specify which type of Christmas fabric you would like used or leave it to the maker to decide and again which block you would like used or leaving it to the maker to decide as well. It's a fun group and I know I'm glad I joined.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hexagon Wednesday

Hello everyone and thanks for visiting my garden this week. My maids are all standing in a row curiously looking out from the garden and wondering who my visitor is. These maidens are new so I must apologize that they are staring and do not recognize you. Just give them time and it won't be long before they recognize everyone. My garden is growing but at a slower pace. I have other projects I want to start on so my flowers will only be growing at a rate of one hexagon per day. That's a comfortable speed for me to maintain at this point in time. As I mentioned last post I feel like "freedom 55" has taken hold because this group of hexagons were made without a thought of colour coordination. Personally I like the way the hexagons worked out and the hexagons went together with no stress nor fuss. If you would like a closer look remember to click on the image. There is a burning question I would like to know the answer to. When I sew the petals together I have to stop and cut my thread several times. I have not been able to figure out if there is a "route" to take where I would be able to sew all the petals and centre together without having to break the thread. Is that a possible? Would someone in the blogosphere please leave me a comment on how to accomplish this (if possible). I would also like to hear from you if it's only partially possible as in 2 thread cuts. It has been on my mind for a while now and thought I would ask, you, my quilting friends for the answer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fantastic Quilt Week

What a fantastic quilt week it's been for me. I feel like Christmas has arrived early for me. The only thing missing at the moment is being called to the table for brunch. I do smell a hint of cinnamon in the air and hear carols playing in the background of my mind. Let me unfold by week for you.

First, my friend Lynn helped me start on my Dear Jane quilt. I have been putting this aside far too long and decided it was time to bite the bullet. I decided to use 1940's fabric with a muslin background. Since 1940's fabric is difficult to find I don't know if I will have enough fabric variety in my stash but then I was never one to do things the easy way. This photo is my first block. It is one of the border triangles in the DJ quilt and was paper pieced. I have to say that I have never sewed with such small pieces before and found it possible to hold and sew. I sewed the block using a HANDCRANK machine. Yes, they still exist and I love them. I have now started my DJ journey and will show you my progress from time to time.

Next came an envelope with this lovely hexagon inside from my new friend, Linda. She and I are participants in the Inchy Hexagon exchange. I had requested pink petals with a dark green centre and this is what Linda sewed for me. She included a lovely card as well. I love the use of the stripes. Stripes are something people seem to either avoid or ignore. I think they do so much for such a small amount of design. I am of the opinion that stripes should be brought out to the forefront, either by promoting the product or more frequent use by quilters, so their beauty can be appreciated. Those dots you see are the paper pieces left in so the person can align the patch in order to sew it together.

Then the postman dropped this off in my mailbox. I was the lucky winner of Leona's giveaway recently and was I thrilled! Wait until I show you what lovely Leona sent me. She started off with a Cornbread stuffing recipe (which I must try) and two great cards as you can see. As I unfolded the package I found....

a hardcover book on vintage aprons. That subject is something I have been interested in for a while now and what a great reference book to receive. I used to make and wear aprons when I was young because that "was what you are supposed to do". Consequently I had always wondered what women in the past made themselves, what designs they made and fabric patterns used. Hopefully I will be able to sit and read this weekend and find out the answer to that question. But that was not all.

Leona also included a pincushion that was the perfect size for one of my sewing areas. It is already in use. She also gave me a button bag and a safety pin bag. How cute is that! It won't take me a minute to fill that button bag because I have quite a few of them. Very handy indeed but more is still to come.

As a final gift Leona included 4 yards of various Christmas fabric and a Christmas pattern as well. Talk about being giddy. For those of you not aware, Christmas is my most favourite holiday (and it's not about gifts) so receiving this fabric just put me over the edge. I could feel the love and generosity. Thank you so much to my new friend, Leona.

Last but not least I did manage to get some sewing done in between all this excitement. I made a Christmas block for the Australian Christmas block swap.

This block is for Larain in Australia. She had requested a star block of my choice pieced in traditional Christmas colours of red/green. I decided to try my hand at this star pattern, which is paper pieced, to find out if it comes together quickly. I must confess it took longer than anticipated and more fabric than anticipated but the process was fun and I might make the pattern again. I hope Larain approves.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hexagon Wednesday

Hello everyone. Remember last time my hexagon box was empty and I was crying about it? Well, I searched around my stash and found I had quite a few small pieces of fabric so I decided to cut them up. I must say it was a liberating feeling knowing I was not going to pay attention to colour and texture of fabric. I was just going to grab and cut. "Damn the torpedos. Full speed ahead!". So here is some of the fabric which took little time to cut. How is that possible you ask?

I purchased this ruler several years ago and never used it. I forgot I had it until I accidentally fell across it after signing up for Hexagon Wednesday. What a great notion.  It had the perfect cutting size for the hexagons I am amassing. I cut my fabric into 2 1/2" strips, lie the ruler on the 2 1/2" markings and cut out the hexagon. It's that simple.

Here I present to you my lovely maids all in a row that will be going into my garden quilt. Very soon I will have to come up with a quilt layout before I sew too many together and have to rip apart because they are the wrong shape. As you can see I am not paying any attention to colour combinations. I just pick up and sew the pieces together akin to picking out a chocolate from a box. It doesn't matter what I chose because it's all good.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Treasure

I wanted to share with you a treasure I recently acquired. At first I did not pay any attention to it and passed it by as it sat on the store shelf.
Suddenly, something caught my eye and drew my attention back to the teapot. I thought why would anyone want such an embellished thing that would need great care in washing?

I picked it up to study it further but the longer I held it the more it was calling out to me. I thought this is crazy. I don't need a teapot but continued to study it further.

I was starting to fall in love with it. There is a certain feeling I get when I know my resistance is weakening and this was such an occasion. But I prevailed and was putting it back on the shelf when my hand accidentally hit the teapot lid.............

Voila! It was a piggy bank. Was I surprised? Does Santa have elves? I grabbed that teapot so quick and put it under my arm so no one could take it from me. I scurried to the cashier and out the door with the biggest smile on my face. You see, I have a soft spot for piggy banks that are unusual, types that a person would not normally see. This one made my day. Hope it made your day as well and that you enjoyed my treasure.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quilt Block Swaps

I wanted to show you the block I have mailed to Sue. She is my new friend from the Australian Block Swap. The button is on my left sidebar. In this particular swap you tell your partner your desired block pattern and colour preference. Sue told me she wanted "shabby chic" fabric using pinks and greens made into a star block. The actual star block pattern was left up to me. I hope my version of "shabby chic" is what Sue had envisioned. I really enjoyed working with these fabrics as it was a "new" experience for me. I wonder who my partner will be next month?

This is also something I worked on. This particular fairy square was sent to me by my new friend, Lynne. She is my partner in the IFQ group and that group has a program (one of many) called Mosaic Colour Play. This is an ongoing swap in which your partner sends you a centre square of their choice and your job is to complete the block how ever you deem and send the completed block back to your partner.

I decided to showcase the fairy so I chose fabric that would not take any beauty away from the centre square. I did not want the surrounding fabric to be more dominant than the square and yet still have the fabrics coordinating in colour. By the way, the block is lying on the carpet so discount the beige. This is the block I mailed back to Lynne. I hope she approves.

I hope you like your hexagon, Jorie

This is my newest swap. You can find the button on the top leftside bar. It is a hexagon exchange called Inchy Flower Swap in which you make one hexagon and mail it to your partner. Your partner tells you what colour family she desires for the flower "petals" and centre square. This is also an ongoing exchange and is still open to participants. This hexagon I mailed to my new friend, Jorie.  She had asked for citrus colours for the petals with a white or tone on tone centre. If you have ever wondered if you might like to try your hand at making a hexagon now is the time. One a month is all you have to make for this exchange. Everyone finds them very relaxing to make and very addictive as well. Hexagons are very portable and do not need much fabric so if you are on a tight budget this little gem is just the thing for you. I've even read where a quilter was making them at work during lunch because it cut back her desire to eat as much and she was getting her sewing done before she got home. What a painless and fun way to diet!

I am in the middle of making another block for the Christmas block exchange which I'll show you in the next post. I must say I am enjoying the swaps and look forward to participating every month because new friendships are developed, whether for a short duration or lifetime, and quilting ideas are exchanged.

Monday, November 1, 2010

International Friendship

A few posts ago I mentioned I had signed up with the IFQ and that they had an extensive program which anyone could participate in. The IFQ leaves it to the individual how involved they want to be. They have swaps, chatrooms, BOMs, Christmas programs, and so on. Have a look at their site by clicking on their logo which you will find upper left sidebar or the link above. I thought I would show you what I made in one of the programs offered called FOLDED STAR.
This pillow is a small 14" version with a single folded star in the centre. The pattern the IFQ supplied was for a larger 16" pillow with  4 folded stars in the centre. I changed the pattern slightly by adding the triangles in the corners to give the pillow a balanced look because I had only one folded star. This pillow was made with my car in mind. Another program I signed on for is an ongoing block swap. I will show you those blocks in the future when I have more as I've just recently signed up. That particular block swap you start by sending your partner a 4.5" square and she makes the actual block and sends it back to you. Everyone makes the same block pattern which is easy enough for a beginner to sew. I hope I've piqued your interest in taking a look. You might like what you find there.

             I entered a giveaway put on by lovely Leona and I won! I'll show everyone in a post when the prize arrives. Thank you , Leona, for sponsoring the giveaway and your generosity.