Thursday, 17 April 2014

Handquilting Math

This post is about keeping track of a long-term hand-quilting project.  But before getting into the math, how about a little eye candy?

Last week, I travelled to Ontario again and on my way out of the Toronto airport, I made a little detour to stop at Sew Sisters.  I had already decided I would break my Fabric Fast rules, but I stuck with the bargain bin.  $1.75 a fat quarter.  Aren't they lovely? 


Hard to pick a favourite.  I especially like the three on top.


Yes, I am at it again.  The hand-quilting project.  The beast.  The 78" x 92" quilt made up of two inch squares.  1794 squares, each quilted diagonally, in both directions, except for the yellow borders and white areas with appliqués, which I simply outlined.

 



Here is an idea of what the quilting looks like from the back.


Although I find hand-quilting very relaxing, I like setting goals, and tracking progress.   I vaguely knew this was going to be a long-term project, but did not realize I would count the hours in the three digits, let alone add a "s" to the word "hundred".  The first time I started loosing the motivation for the project, I knew I had to come up with a method to track my progress.

A simple Excel document did the trick (it could have been Word, or even a plain old piece of paper).  I just drew my quilt - 39 x 46 2" squares, and I get to fill in each square with a colour once it is done quilting (yellow for the borders, pink for the appliqué areas, and blue for the patterned squares.  So the white areas represent what I have left to do.  Not too high tech, but it works.


My chart tells me I have 362 more 2" squares to quilt, at an average of 5 minutes each.  That is 30 more hours 10 minutes.  It takes me close to 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to go trough one square in one direction, and of course each square is quilted in two directions. The remaining time is for threading needles, repositioning my hoop, and dealing with the occasional knot.
 
Now I like to play games with myself:  It will likely take me less than 30 hours to finish the quilting: my chart only shows completed squares, but lots of squares are already quilted in one direction.  This means that after an hour of hand quilting, I can usually lower my "time remaining" by a bit more than that.  Unless of course I spent an evening quilting in one direction only, in which case I have nothing to show for my efforts.
 
See some areas that are completely quilted:
 
 
And others that remain to be done, in one or both directions.
 
 
I remember when I was telling myself: 100 more hours.  Then 80, then 60 more.  Even 50 hours seemed quite insurmountable.  But now, 30 hours?  That is something I can wrap my head around.  That is only 15 evenings of 2 hours...

The good news is that with the NHL playoffs having started, I will be spending more time in front of the TV, wanting something to keep my hands busy.  If my beloved Montreal Canadiens make it to the Stanley Cup finals, we are in business!  Even if I just quilt during winning games, that is all I need.  Only 15 more wins needed until the Stanley Cup!

Do you play games with yourself to complete a long-term goals?

Sunday, 30 March 2014

First quarter goals and two tiny finishes


Well, it's about time I check in about all those goals I set for this year.  I think I am doing well, but of course there is room for improvement.

Because I am the only one who truly cares about the details, I am just going to give you the summary.

No buying fabric (with exceptions) - I did breach my rule once, a small quantity, to make this gift:


Really, I am OK with that.  I already know that I will allow myself more breaches, but these guidelines have kept me from making unnecessary purchases.

No buying books and magazines - Nothing so far
 
Keep track of spending - I have not exactly kept track, but I have a general idea.  With the fabric fast, it probably isn't necessary to keep track.  When I start buying on a regular basis, is when I really need to start counting.  Regardless, it's cheaper than therapy.

Major clean up of my sewing room in January - Done, but the room is back to being a huge mess.  I have my work cut out for me for the April clean-up...

Manage my stash - I washed the many new fabrics in the unwashed pile, ironed all but a couple meters, I physically split up my collections... All these resolutions have been great!

A WIP finish  - Yay!  I finished  my Colourful Scraps Improv Quilt
 
 
I have also learned to use Flickr, made and mailed my bee blocks on time, parted with flannel scraps I did not need, and best of all, I attended the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild's first sew-in (too bad about the other two I missed but such is life).   
 
And what about the tiny finishes in the title?  Don't get too excited... just two luggage tags I made today (see my tutorial here).  In case you haven't seen them before, there is a plastic pocket to insert a business card, even though you can't really tell from the picture.   
 

 
These will be my gift for a complete stranger whose scraps I ended up with.  I shared the story here, but in a nutshell, while on a work-related trip to the Bahamas, my husband asked a bartender where he could buy some fabric.  The man replied there was no fabric store nearby, but went home and returned with a bag full of local fabric scraps.
 
My husband is returning to the same place, and he figures he will likely run into the same bartender.  I don't know anything about the lady who gave me the scraps, other than that she does travel.  So luggage tags was a logical choice.  The one on the left is made with her scraps - I think it's interesting to see what other people can do with your scraps. Of course, I made a second one with my own scraps, while keeping the same general colour scheme.
 
 
How are you doing with your goals?

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Colourful Scraps Improv... Finished

Several months ago, I decided to try my hand at improv piecing.  I mean really, really improvised piecing.

I used a lot of bright scraps, mostly in red, blue, yellow and green, which I consider primary colours (yes, I know that green is not technically a primary color).

I came up with these blocks, and set them aside hoping inspiration would strike again to make a quilt with them.


Well a few weeks ago, inspiration did strike, and I took out some gray Konas (no, Jenn, I do not know the exact names) and pieced them into a 40"(ish) x 55"(ish) top


Quilting had to be simple... I had a trip planned and needed a binding to keep my hands busy in the airport and on the plane.  I went for loops.  I love loops!


For thread, I just went with green, until I ran out, then switched to yellow, then red, then blue.  Those primary colours again...

The backing is a Connecting Threads print by Jeni Calo that has been collecting dust for 3 years... The collection is called "Folk Hearts" but for me, it has a very Scandinavian vibe... 

It was a perfect match with my "four" primaries...


One of my rows of loops is upside down.  It was not intentional, but I love it!

My husband was nice enough to "volunteer" to be the quilt holder.  Unfortunately the light wasn't right on the "flat" pictures.  Below is his attempt to simulate a quilt flowing in the wind.  Ha! Ha!


I love how I managed to squeeze in a lot of tiny, and in some case ugly, scraps.  I love how the gray border frames the scrappy chaos in the middle.  Is there anything that can't be made better by adding some gray to it?  Well, okay.  Maybe there is, but you get my point...


 
And what is a finished quilt post without a quilt roll? 
 


 
The binding was mostly done in the air between Halifax and Toronto, as well as at both airports.  Although I did not see anyone else quilt, I am happy to report that one quilter from Newfoundland saw me and struck a conversation with me.  I also had a nice chat with a lady who was knitting.  Funny how we stand out in a place full of people glued to some sort of mobile device.

How about one last? 


Mother nature dumped lots of snow on us yesterday in one of those crazy spring blizzards.  It was still cold and windy, and the sun was setting, so that's the only shot I could get.  The quilt is on our back deck... on top of 40cm of snow.

I am so ready for spring!

Linking up to TGIFF at Devoted Quilter.  It's my first time visiting that blog, so off I go explore!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Something to send out, and something for me!

This month's Queen bee in the Canadians Quilt {bee} is Shena of Apple Pie Patchwork.  She asked for Birds in the Air block in Sochi colours with a scrappy low volume background.  I finally got the chance to work on it tonight.  I was originally going to just cut the pieces, but I got carried away and finished the block.  Looks complicated, but is actually easy, thanks to this tutorial.


I am pretty happy with my evening of work.  I need to give it another good pressing (the only difficult part was to press those seams open) and to trim all those threads, and off it goes to live in another house, on someone else's quilt.

Before I got the bee block done, though, I finally cut in one of my precious Liberty fabrics and made something just for me.  It took me a while to decide which one to pick...  they are all so gorgeous.


I followed this tutorial with a slight modification.  Because I only had 1 yard of the fabric, I cut to lengths of about 20" wide, and pieced them to make 2 yards x  20" (22" seemed a bit wide to me).  I was happy to see the fabric was larger than the usual 40" - 42" and as a result, I have my first Liberty scrap!  Oh! the possibilities!

Here is what the scarf looked like at first:


Uh-oh!  a bit big, don't you think?  At least for a gal my size.  It is huge!

Quick readjustment...


Now, the scarf is looped three times around my neck.  Much better length!  I will know for next time... I really don't need two yards.  48" - 50" would probably be enough for me.


It felt nice to sew something just for me!  I love this scarf! 

Before I go, I leave you with a sneak peak of the other project that has kept me busy this week. 
 


Come back another day for the full reveal!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Finished Plus Top

Apologies / No Apologies

Let me start by saying I make no apologies for not posting in a while.  It's my blog, and it has to work around my life, not the other way around... But I do apologize for being a bad blogger in a couple of ways.

Like linking up to TGIFF or Lorna's Let's Bee Social, telling myself  "I'll come back tomorrow to visit the other blogs" and not doing it.  Or visiting my bloggy friends and telling myself the same lie - "I'll come back to comment".  Or forgetting neglecting to post an update for The Library Project over at Adrienne's.

Has that ever happened to you?  Blogging is about connecting, and it has to work both ways.  I hope March is a better month for connecting... Both ways!

Plus Blocks and a Plus Finish

But enough about that.  Let's talk about the "Plus" blocks.

It all started when my Canadian Quilt Bee mate asked for the "Plus" block.  I made one, two, three... I just kept going.  Could not stop until I reached 32  - including those two for my bee mate: 


I saw lots of lovely quilt in a traditional setting with no sashing, but I knew I wanted something a bit different.  I came up with this idea to use the sashing to add more "plus" signs.  I asked for advice from my Maritime Modern Quilt Guild mates, and they seemed to approve.  This shows how I constructed it:

I am nowhere near finishing a whole quilt, but I am thrilled to have completed the top.  In fact, I completed it last Sunday, just in time to take outdoor pictures (then I went away for a week before having time to blog about it). 

So there it is, for your viewing pleasure.

And another one to show that it is still winter out here.  That hammock does not get too much use in the winter, but is sure is a great place to take pictures of quilts, don't you think?


Now to quilt that thing...

Linking up to TGIFF and yes, I will go take a look at what others have finished this week.  Promise!

 

Friday, 21 February 2014

A Robot Cushion

Happy Friday!  I have been plugging away at my plus blocks and watching way too much Olympics (that women's hockey game yesterday was quite something! I'll be up early Sunday watching our boys play) so I have little to show for my last two weeks of sewing.

But I do have one finish,  Someone is going to a birthday party and I thought this birthday boy would love to have his own personalized robot cushion.


This required a bit more effort than my usual patchwork  - I worked several evenings on it - but I enjoyed the change.  The embroidery is free motion on the machine, and the appliqués are secured with a tiny zigzag stitch.  It was a bit of a pain to change the thread every time I switched colours, but it was well worth the few extra minutes.

I still love making cushions, but I think the next one will have to be simple squares...

Linking up with TGIFF at Amy's Crafty Shenanigans.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

All Over Plus

The "Plus" block...

I had seen it before, but it had not really caught my eye until Chelsea, my bee mate and February Queen Bee asked for one.

After I made one, two, three on the week end, I could not get the idea of a "Plus" quilt off my mind, so tonight, I started cutting.  I have enough low volume fabrics cut for about 10 blocks, plus a couple bright prints for the plus signs.


That's not counting the two that I made at the end of my little cutting session.  Could not leave the room without spending some quality time at the machine.


Needless to say, I am enjoying this project immensely.  And needless to say, none of my neglected WIPs are being worked on...

Wanna see great examples of "Plus" quilts? have a look at Adrianne's and Rachel's versions.

Hope you are working on a fabulous project that excites you!


Linking up to the Needle and Thread Network for WIP Wednesday.