Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A UFO for November


This was not the one on my list, but it’s finished and I think that counts!

I missed the opportunity for photos when my tall quilt-holder son was home the other weekend, so had to wait until I visited a friend who had a space large enough to hang this up.

Braid scrappy

This is a Very Scrappy Braid.  Size 60” x 80”, and destined to be donated to a good cause. 

The quilt was made with 2 1/2” strips and squares and used some fabrics which had been sitting in the scrap drawer for a very long time. ( Is the drawer empty now? By no means.)  This was made as a class sample along with a planned version (French Braid) which still needs to be completed, so photos of that will follow at a later date. 

Just one quilt left on the 2012 UFO Challenge list.  Perhaps that one will be completed by month’s end! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

One of life’s great questions answered!

Some time ago I posted about cleaning out my red tomato pincushion.  You can find that post here.  I remember being astounded at finding so many objects that had sunk inside nearly out of reach.

The other day I noticed crumbs on my cutting table.  Looking more closely I saw that the poor pincushion was leaking its sawdust stuffing.  I considered a mending job, but saw that there were too many breaks in the fabric.  Sadly I decided that this was the end of the line – the pincushion had been my mother’s and could easily be 50 years old.  The fabric had stood up very well during its long life.


As I held the pincushion and pondered its fate something poked my finger and I realized that even though I had removed 15 needles last year, there must still be a few left inside.  How many, I wondered – perhaps as many as 10?

Working over a dishpan I cut open the pincushion with scissors.  As I shook out the sawdust there was a glimpse of something shiny inside. Needles! (and a lump of mud mixed in with the sawdust!)


I carefully removed the needles and shook out more sawdust.  More needles!  More sawdust.  This is what I had when I had sifted through the last of the stuffing:


There were 67 needles inside!  A couple of sewing machine needles, several tapestry needles, LOTS of “ordinary needles” – sharps in various sizes.  Many of these must be left over from Mum’s days of sewing.  She sewed clothing and loved to finish hems and buttonholes with her fine hand-stitching.  I also found about a packet worth of my favourite crewel needles, the ones that are lovely and fine to sew with, but have a long eye that is easy to thread. 

To think that all these years I have been wondering where needles all go when they disappear.  I know that it is called a PIN cushion – perhaps that should be a hint that it will swallow the needles if I am foolish enough to put them there. 



Now the needles are tucked away (safely in a needle-book made of felt) and I should have enough to last for many years. But I feel rather bereft when I see the empty dish where the tomato used to sit. Even though I have plenty of other pin-cushions I know I will have to replace that red tomato.



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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Snowflake Preemie Quilt

I’ve been enjoying playing with the Asterisk quilt block that has showed up on the Web.  One good set of instructions is here.
Asterisk preemie quilt

Sixteen six-inch blocks and one ten-inch block made a 36” square quilt which will be added to the collection for the preemies at our regional hospital.  The fabric came from my stash.  Batting and flannel backing were donated.
Small projects are such a great way to try out a pattern, use a bit of fabric and make something that will brighten someone’s day.
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

UFO for October 2012

I was delighted to see that the number drawn for October was for a quilt that I completed in May!  That gave me a chance to finish something else instead.

I needed a quilt for someone special so I selected a nine-patch chain from my very healthy stack of “tops to be quilted”.  I’m guessing this one was pieced about 10 years ago, as the youngest fabrics that I recognize are from Year 2000 collections.  Other fabrics are older – there are pieces from family scrap bags dating back through the 90s and there is at least one piece that is more than 50 years old. 

Lesley's 9-patch


Lesley's 9-patch back

The border fabric came from well-aged stash, and the last bit of it went onto the back along with a few other pieces that had been sitting on the shelf for too many years.


It feels so good to have this on its way to be used and enjoyed.




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Monday, October 1, 2012

UFO for September 2012


I’m happy to report that progress was made on this month’s UFO.  I had a small pile of blocks, but the project was stalled because I couldn’t decide if I should make more blocks, make different blocks, etc.  So when I pulled them out of the box I decided they were going together somehow, no matter what! 


Instead of the originally planned long table runner the blocks became a square.  Whether this will be a table topper or a cushion or the centre of a larger project is yet to be decided. 

The project is based on Helene Knott’s pattern called Magic Squares, though I used a different construction method.   I love the three dimensional effect of the lights and darks in these simple blocks. 


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Monday, September 17, 2012

Patchwork from Central America


One of the fascinating things about fabrics is discovering that we use textiles in our daily lives in the same ways as do women (and men) from other parts of the world.

My friend Megan found this pieced blanket when she was in Guatemala this summer.  She tells me the fabrics in it are the same as the ones used in that area of the country for making garments – so this is a genuine scrap project.  This blanket is pieced of squares and rectangles and it is backed with a piece of solid black fabric.  There is no batting and no quilting.  She has decided to add some ties to hold the layers together so that it won’t lose its shape completely as it is used and washed. 















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Monday, September 3, 2012

August 2012 UFO

The UFO for August was my Log Cabin and Stars top.  No progress – not a stitch – was made on this. 


August was a very busy month. I was invited back to Along Came Quilting in Calgary where I met a group of ladies eager to learn how to use Electric Quilt software and we spent a busy three days exploring the program. (And I did manage a bit of shopping time in the store as well – so many beautiful fabrics to dream over!}

August was also full with extra days at work and time spent outside doing yard chores.



But some sewing did happen.  My Orca Bay top is close to completion. It will get simple borders – I just don’t have the heart to make more black and white units as called for in the original.  My sister says this reminds her of watermelons, so I think its name will be “Down by the Bay”.

Down by the Bay

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A quick baby quilt




A baby shower was announced for the new grand-daughter of a friend. I needed a quilt.

I turned to the  Bento Box pattern and dipped into a collection of yellow and orange scraps.  It’s a wonderful feeling to have a healthy stash and to be able to make use of it to produce useful things quickly!




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Monday, July 30, 2012

Buggy Barn UFO


My UFO for July started the month as a pile of blocks.  These were made when a group of friends decided to get together for a “Buggy Barn Day”.  We chose our patterns and our fabrics and enjoyed a day of stacking, cutting, and sewing.  I chose the Folk Art Flowers pattern and selected a pile of country red, blue and brown fabrics.  I managed to include a few pieces of recycled shirts in the collection. 


In July I sewed the blocks together and used the leftover fabrics to make borders.  I am eager to get this one quilted, but I am waiting until I decide where it will be going.  . 

The weather has been very hot here – which makes staying inside and sewing an attractive alternative to being out in the heat of the day.  The Orca Bay top has benefitted from this extra sewing time.  I’ve made good headway on getting the blocks sewn together.  Here is a peek at how it is turning out.


Not sure when this one might be finished, but it is exciting to see all those pieces finally coming together.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thread spools


Have you ever thought about how many different kinds of thread spools there are?  If you had asked me, I probably would have guessed there might be, maybe, a dozen different kinds.  Because there are different sizes of spools and different kinds of thread.  Yep, a dozen kinds should be lots.

I have been working on finishing up odd spools lately, and as I empty a spool I set it on the windowsill by the sewing machine.  When I added another spool to the row today I realized that the twelve lined up there were all different.  I was intrigued by the variety, so I scooped them up and took a picture.

Don’t they look good!  There are a couple of really old wooden ones, some 100 yard and 150 yard Gutermann spools, Mettler (small and large), a couple of “exotic” ones, plus the straight core out of something that I can’t remember, and the cardboard centre from my last cone of CanSew  cotton. 

dozen empty spoolsLooking at them made me wonder if I had any more different ones.  I dug through the box of empty spools. There are always quite a few spools around because I keep them until I find someone who wants them .  Once I  donated them to be used them for crafts at Sunday School, and another time I heard of a fifth grade teacher that wanted some for her students to build bridges with.  They always find a home eventually.

I was astonished at how many different ones were lurking in the box.  There are 31 in this picture.  (Don’t they look like people lined up for a photo at a family reunion?)

After I took the picture I realized there are others that aren’t represented here – some different sized cones that I use on the longarm, and those stocky cones that YLI invisible thread comes on, and, oh yes, some different ones that embroidery threads come on. 

thirty-one spools

I wonder if I can find a spot to keep these, all lined up, and see how many more I can add to the collection. 

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Web site featuring African fabrics


Kitambaa designs has a new web site!

Take a look here: Kitambaa designs

You get a glimpse of the lives of a group of creative African women, and lots of inspiration.  You can purchase African fabrics or buy items made in Africa.


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Saturday, June 30, 2012

June’s UFO completed!


I’m delighted to report UFO progress in June! 

Several years ago a friend gave me her mother’s scrapbag full of many tiny pieces from the days of sewing clothing for her family.  I added a few other vintage fabrics and stitched a lap-sized Irish Chain quilt top.

When I learned that my friend was moving away I decided to finish the quilt for her to take along.  The white spaces seemed to call out for a bit of feather quilting.

Irisih chain

Thursday, June 21, 2012



I received the gift of a bag of scraps – not just any old scraps, but African ones!  My sister had the opportunity to shop in a market in Uganda.  She purchased yardage of some fabrics but was also able to buy some small pieces.  She said the vendors were puzzled at her request, but they scooped up the bits from the floor of the stall and let her have her choice.

African scraps 2

Such fun to read the selvages!  This sent me to the internet to find out a bit more about these fabrics.  I was amazed to learn that these “real African fabrics” have a very complicated and international origin.  Here is one interesting article I found.


African scraps drying

I was at first reluctant to wash these precious bits – what if they shrank, faded, were ruined?  Then I realized that these were scraps from making CLOTHING, for goodness sake!  They were meant to be washed.  I washed them gently by hand and hung them outside to dry.  They came out beautifully, except for one piece that melted when I ironed it.  I guess we find polyester even in Africa!

In the process I discovered a few things about wooden clothes pegs!  I found there were at least 6 different kinds in my peg bucket. I’ve had most of them for many years, some were my mother’s.  I know the smaller (cleaner!) ones are new.  I was surprised at the variety of sizes and shapes of holes and the different types of springs.

Clothes pegsThat one on the right with the largest hole worked perfectly on the dowels of the wooden drying rack.  The newer ones with the smaller holes are probably designed for use on a regular clothes line – didn’t fit the dowels at all. Clothes peg 2 Clothes peg 3






Now my head is full of ideas for using my treasures.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

UFO progress


My UFO for the month of May is my version of Bonnie Hunter’s 2011 Mystery quilt, Orca Bay.  This is really my kind of quilt – lots of piecing, all from scraps, and any piece larger than about 2 1/2” is string pieced.

I’ve been working on making these little string pieced units.  They are 3 1/2” square – aren’t they cute!

string-pieced units I needed 72 of these and am proud to say that they are all made – at last!  I had to resort to all sorts of trickery to get myself to sit down and sew these – as they were made I would bundle them into groups of ten and let myself add to my tally, and I rewarded myself with breaks to check email and such.  I think what makes them hard is that there are so many decisions to be made!   It would be simpler if my scraps were larger, but I am using up some tiny pieces (too precious to waste, you know!). 

Next task is to make a big pile of black and white half square triangle units – these need to be 2” square.  I’ll be digging deep into my hoard of black and white fabrics. 

The Orca Bay UFO will NOT be completed during the month of May!  But I have finished another quilt that was on the list. 

This hexagon quilt was my very first Stack ‘n Whack project.  The fabric is Summertime, by Debbie Mumm, so that gives you an idea of how old it might be.  The top has been used as a sample for many classes over the years, but it was time to get it finished.

Hexagon s&w

I added the last border and did the quilting.  The binding is on and just needs to be stitched down, and then I’ll have a quilt ready to donate to a good cause.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

UFO complete for April


All done, even the binding!  (The label will have to wait until a destination is finalized.)

This quilt was started many years ago in a naive attempt to “use up all the scraps”.  When I pulled it out a few months ago there was a note and a sketch, so I was able to see at a glance what was required to complete the top.  The note was dated 1997.  That means these fabrics were the ones that were old and I wanted them gone – fifteen years ago!  As I studied the top I realized that I still have bits of quite a few of these fabrics in my present collection  – perhaps it is time for some serious stash-busting!!

Prairie Braid scrap quilt

Here is the Scrappy Braid quilt in all its asymmetrical splendour.  As I stitched the columns together, quilted it, bound it, I enjoyed those (old) fabrics all over again. And it was with a great sense of accomplishment that I wrote FINISHED beside this one on my list for this year. 

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spring Colours


We still don’t have much in the way of colour around here – was that SNOW I walked through the other day???

So I’ve hung this quilt in the entry way to brighten our days.

Pastel half log cabin


And take a look at this!  Eleanor served us the sweetest Easter treats at Sew Scrappy Club last week – strawberry tarts and chocolate nests.  They were almost too pretty to eat! Easter goodies

Sunday, April 1, 2012

UFO for March


Nearly done!  But since my goal is to complete this as a challenge project that is due this summer, I have plenty of time to finish up the binding.

Fifties fabrics1

This is an OLD project.  The fabrics are vintage – from the 50s.  I assembled the piece at least 20 years ago, and it has been waiting ever since to be completed.  I think the solid black fabric is a polyester blend.  (I either didn’t know the difference back then or I didn’t have any black cotton.) 

I backed it with muslin, added a scrap of lovely wool batting, and did some hand quilting.  Please don’t look at my stitches too closely. 

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Friday, March 16, 2012

A bit of green


So many gray days lately!  Surely spring will turn up eventually.


I’ve hung this shamrock in my entry way.  It was a project from Scrappy Club this month, and I’m proud of having it finished in time for St. Patrick’s Day.


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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

UFO for February

This project is the reason I signed up for this challenge in the first place! 

I began my African Collage in May of 2010 when I took a class from Pippa Moore at Quilt Canada in Calgary.  When Judy announced the challenge for 2011 I was quick to add this to my list because I wanted to get it done.  But that number was drawn in December, and no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t getting any quilting done that month.

So African Collage took its place on the list for 2012, and its number came up for this month. 

I am pleased to report progress.  When I took the pieces out of their bag I found I had four panels, the three animals and another with African people on it.  Each panel had the beginnings of borders.  Try as I might, I could not get the components to get along nicely.  So I removed the fourth panel and decided to go with just three.  I worked in some lighter fabrics, repeated some motifs, and came up with this arrangement. 

African collage

It is not a perfect design, but it is much closer to being a completed design!  Next come the borders – I’m auditioning different black fabrics and different widths and trying to decide if I need something else along the top before the black. 

And another near-finish to report:  A few days ago I pulled out a small top that had been folded together with its batting and moved from place to place in the sewing room for several  years.  I had made some of the the scrappy blocks, then passed them on to a friend to “do something with”.  She made more blocks, sewed them all together, and handed it back to me. 

random half log cabin

I’ve quilted it.  The blocks are scrappy, the batting was pieced from leftovers, the backing was made from several odd bits of flannel.  The binding will come out of the box that is labelled  “Binding Leftovers”.  Then we will find some small person to give it to!

Friday, January 27, 2012

First UFO for 2012


I’ve completed the first of the UFO’s on this year’s UFO Challenge List!

Sometime last year I pulled out a small pile of fabrics that “sort of went together” and made the quilt top using the directions I found here for the Double Slice quilt.  The original quilt maker used a Layer Cake (10” squares), but I had yardage and scraps, so I used my 9 1/2” square ruler to cut my starting pieces. 


slice back

I’m very happy with the back of the quilt – I used some “chunks” of plaids that had been taking up shelf space for too long.






The batting was also from stash.  It was a piece of that old polyester stuff that must be about an inch thick.  After wrestling with it on the quilting machine (and losing 5% both lengthwise and widthwise in the quilting), I will certainly be happy to go back to the lovely thin battings we use these days!  The batting did make the quilt nice and fluffy, and I’m sure it will do a good job of keeping someone warm.  The quilt was made for donation and will be finding its way to a new home shortly. 


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Monday, January 2, 2012

UFO Challenge results for 2011

January began with a list of 12 UFO projects to be worked on through the year.  How did I do?  Of those twelve projects, six were completely finished – Hooray!  Four saw good progress – to the flimsy stage.  One project I abandoned but finished up something else in its place.  And the last one, my African Collage which was the project for December, never made it out of the bag!  -- that project is first on my list for 2012.

In my defense, however, I will say that sometimes there are more important things than quilting.  My father passed away in December and time and energy went into spending time with family, holding a memorial service, and cleaning out Dad’s apartment. 

As we sorted through Dad’s things I was surprised to see how many quilts there were!  I had made them for Mum and Dad over the years, and somehow they all made their way to the apartment.  Here are a few of them:  Dad's quilts appliqued garden

The gardening quilt hung right outside the apartment door to remind visitors that growing things had always been important to Mum and Dad.  (The blocks were made from a series of  patterns in Quiltmaker magazine.)

 Dad's quilts covered bridge

Dad had this stained glass quilt above a bookshelf.  I borrowed the pattern from a friend who worked in glass and enlarged it for the quilt. 

 Dad's quilts Loon

The loon quilt was made as a guild round robin project.  The block is from a book by Margaret Rolfe, and friends in the guild added the borders.  I think this one reminded my father of fishing expeditions on prairie lakes.





Dad's quilts violets

I made the African Violets for my mother to remind her of the plants she always kept on the kitchen windowsill when they lived on the farm.  Pattern from Paper Panache. 






Dad's quilts watercolor trees

The watercolour quilt is called My Father’s Trees. It was made for my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1997.  They spent those 50 years running a tree nursery and selling plants to beautify the surrounding community.  The images represent a blue spruce, a maple, and a golden elder, three of Dad’s favourites. 

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