Monthly Archives: November 2011

Project 2011-41: Blue Table Runners

Blue Table RunnersThese quick and easy table runners were made with some left over quarter square triangles that someone gave to me in a scrap bag.  There were nine of them, so they ended up as two table runners – one with five of the blocks and one with four of them.

The setting triangles and first border are from a light blue dotted fabric.  The outer border, a navy fabric and the yellow and blue flowered binding all came from stash.  One of the great things about having a large stash is that you can usually find something that will work!

They were both quilted the same:  a small stipple in the center with a light blue thread and a half feathered pattern with a navy thread around both edges of the navy border.  Quick and easy!  The binding was applied to the back and top stitched to the front with a yellow thread on top and a clear poly in the bottom.

These two table runners will be great to have on hand as quick hostess gifts.  Many of my friends love blue, so they will very welcomed when they are given.

Goal Status: 41 projects complete and 11 more to go by Dec 31st!  I’m glad I did a quick project today.  I needed an easy project before I work on a few of the larger waiting projects.

Project 2011-40: Bear Paw Quilt

Bear Paw QuiltIn the spring of 2002, when perusing garage sales in Waterloo, Ontario, I found a bag of fabric pieces labelled “Bear Paw $5.00″.   While I examined it, I silently pondered the wisdom of taking on someone else’s unfinished projects.   Good sense prevailed and I started to put the bag back down.  However, intuiting my reluctance, the astute seller offered it to me for $2.00.  My quilt-rescue hormones kicked in and before I  had time to talk myself out of it, I bought it.

Back at home, when  I emptied the bag,  I found the neatly stacked pieces for 18 bear paw blocks and two more blocks partially sewn.  One look at the back of the completed units told me why the quilter abandoned the project.  The piecer must have been a very new quilter, unaware of the standard scant 1/4 inch seam.  She had sewn the blocks with a 3/8″ seam, so of course, nothing fit together as the pattern would have indicated.  The quilter was likely overwhelmed and gave up.

Frogging tools to the rescue!  I picked the blocks apart and began to sew with the correct seam allowance.  Even then, the half square triangles that form the claws were not precisely cut, so it was a  challenge to get them to fit the blocks.  I persisted in the fussy sewing and finally had 20 completed blocks.  Because the finished blocks were not all precisely the same size,  I opted to add coping strips in a yellow print and then square the blocks to an identical size.

The brown print sashing included in the bag was set aside for other purposes while I raided my stash for a deep purple sashing.  I made several sample sashing blocks to audition and my daughter, who has great color and design sense, immediately selected this green and gold diamond in the square block.  She was right! They looked the best.   Once the quilt center was completed, I opted to add a gold flange and another wide dark purple border.   The top was completed in February 2005 and lived in my flimsie cupboard ever since.   I took it out to ponder a few times, but since I was not sure how to quilt it, it always went back into the  cupboard.

Now with the self-imposed pressure to get UFOs done, I finally loaded it on the longarm and began to quilt.   When blocks that are not completely accurate,  stitch in the ditch quilting brings attention to the flaws.  I opted to do a Circle Lord Clamshell design from flange to flange.  For this I used a tan colored cotton-covered poly thread with tan Bottom Line in the bobbin.   In the wide outer border, I did a freehand feather with trailing tendrils using a dark red-violet thread to add definition.  Once off the long arm, my domestic machine was used to topstitch the seam of the flange, to give it a bit of help to lie flat.   I purposely did not stitch in the ditch, but rather aimed for a thread away from the seam line.   The stitching is visible and adds a finishing element to the flange.

For the binding, I pulled a coordinating mottled gold/yellow print from my stash.  I am very pleased with the resulting quilt.  I still love to rescue quilts and give them loving homes, but I am much more cognizant of the fact that I could make a quilt from scratch with much less effort!

One of the advantages of working on someone else’s project is that you work with color combinations you would not normally choose.  It expands one’s design horizons and allows freedom to try new things.  There is less pressure when finishing an already flawed project.  Perfectionism never comes into the picture!

All in all, I am very pleased with the result of this project and I am delighted that my own design addition – the deep purple sashing and borders –  makes a significant impact on the finished quilt, making those Bear Paw blocks really pop.  I like this quilt very much!  Finished size is 88″ by 101”.

Goal Progress:  40 quilts complete and 12 more to go to meet my goal of 52 quilting projects completed by Dec 31, 2011.

Project 2011-39: Train Crossings

The 38″ by 42″ baby-sized scrap quilt is the surprising result of a bag of quilt-shop scraps. It looks like a coordinated, planned quilt, but it is a scrap quilt in the true sense of the term!

When I attended a conference in 2007 in Victoria, British Colombia, I made time to visit Satin Moon Quilt Shop (on Government Street near Chinatown (1689 Government Street, Victoria BC, phone 1-800-345-3811, )   I loved the vibrant and charming store, especially the large selection on Asian prints.

Just as I was taking my purchases to the counter, I noticed a basket of bagged scraps and quickly selected one that appeared to have mainly blue and yellow scraps that would fit in well with a scrap star quilt that was then on my design wall.  I surmise that the scraps were remnants from classes and shop samples.  All of the scrap fabric was excellent quality.

When I sorted through the scraps, separating out the desired blues and yellows  for my star quilt, another group of other  scraps surfaced that appeared to be from a train-themed line of fabrics.  No selvedges were intact, so I have no idea which company or designer.   The pile of coordinating scraps was big enough that I wondered if I could make anything with them.  I mulled it over for a few years, and put the idea on my “someday” list, while the scraps patiently waited in their ziploc bag.  In my effort to clean up my backlog of UFOs  (Unfinished Objects) and WIPs  (Works in Progress),  I gave myself the challenge of making a baby quilt using those scraps.  This quilt is the result of that personal challenge.

During the summer of 2011 while on vacation in Northern Ontario, I completed the center of the flimsie.  With only the bag of fabric on hand and no stash to raid, this quilt required a great deal of pondering time, trying various options to make it work.  With no fabric to waste and none to re-cut if I made mistakes, my measuring tools got a good work-out before I cut anything!   Every single scrap was used in the quilt, with less than a tablespoon of trimmed edges remaining from that original pile of scraps!  When I returned from vacation, I added the wide light yellow border from my stash.  The rest of the top came from that purchased bag of scraps.  It is MUCH easier to design a quilt with a large supply of fabric, but limitations placed on us by available  resources available  sparks more creative thinking than we might expect.   Design challenges are much more intriguing.  The  satisfaction that comes from successfully conquering a design challenge is much greater than making a quilt with unlimited resources!  I am very pleased with this quilt.

The top was quilted using a yellow cotton-wrapped poly thread in a wiggly horizontal line, reminiscent of the path that train tracks take.  It is simple, easy and very effective on this quilt.  Both the backing and the binding came from stash.  The binding was  was attached to the back and top-stitched by machine to the front of the quilt, a method I prefer to ensure durability on often-washed baby quilts.

Goal Status:  39 projects complete and 13 more to go to reach my goal of 52 projects finished by Dec 31st.

Project 2011-38: Flying Geese Baby Quilt

This small quilt,which  could be either a baby quilt or a lap cover, was made from flying geese blocks that were left over from the third quilt I finished.  I made the blocks in 1997 during my first rush of heated enthusiasm for quilting and finished that quilt in 2001 when I got confident enough to begin machine quilting.

These left-over blocks sat in my orphan blocks shoe-box for the next decade until I finally squared them up to make them somewhat  more accurate, sewed them into strips and sashed them with this coordinating cotton.   The front is not a typical baby quilt design, but I am certain that someone is going to love the “alternative” look.  To make it a bit more appealing to a child, I chose a fun jungle-print backing:

I love the surprising element of the fun backing, especially since the colors coordinate so well.

Here is a photo of the original quilt.











It was a Christmas present for my son when he was 11 years old.  He loved the design and quickly named it “Fast Forward to the Border” because of the resemblance to the fast forward buttons on his electronic gadgets.

Special note to anyone with ties to University of Guelph:  This photo was taken in the first floor washroom of Johnston Hall, where I worked for many years.  We had a large flannel room divider stored there.  It was great for holding up quilts while I took a photo!  If you lived in the residence upstairs, you will definitely recognize those tiled walls!

With this baby quilt finished, I’m feeling pleased to count another one done and see my orphan block shoe box just a bit less stuffed.

Goal Status:  38 quilts completed and 14 more to go to reach my goal of 52 completed projects by the end of 2011.

Road Blocks:  Even though the number remaining is getting lower, I’m starting to feel a bit anxious, because I have only a few more flimsies (aka quilt tops) left in the cupboard.  It will be wonderful to have an empty flimsie cupboard, but that means I have to turn my attention to the partially finished tops that do not yet have borders.   Borders always seem to be my stumbling block.  I have quite a few tops finished to the border stage and then stalled until I decide the right border and then get them cut and applied.  Mitered corners on borders are my major avoidance.  If I can possibly put corner blocks, I do!  I tell myself I hate the wasted fabric created by the mitering process, even though I don’t waste it – I cut it up and immediately put it into my containers of pre-cut squares and triangles.  The next few quilts really need to have mitered borders.  Corner blocks won’t work.  Sigh!  No wonder I left those quilts till the end.  Maybe I can treat this next stage as a personal workshop on mitering borders.  I know that the more I do anything, the better I get and the easier it feels.  Could this be all about my mental attitude towards an aversive task?  Probably is – most of life is like that!  Okay, I resolve to approach those borders as a opportunity to discover my personal “best practice” to applying mitered borders.    Onward and upward!

Project 2011-37: Joe Boxer

This bright, fun quilt was started so long ago, I cannot even remember the year.  It has probably been 10 years since I finished this quick and easy top.  The background and border fabric is a colorful Joe Boxer fabric depicting collegiate style pennants.  The backing and binding is the same fabric.  I quilted it with the Circle Lord Swirlz pattern.   The completed quilt is 60 inches square.

While quilting it, I tried to figure out why such a simple quilt took so long to completion.  Typically, it is something small that gets in the way of progress.  This quilt follows that pattern.  The pennant fabric was  a super bargain on a clearance table at my favorite fabric store, so I bought a lot of it.   I finished the top quite quickly and have a vague recollection of preparing the backing for the quilt..or at least I thought I did.   If I did prepare the backing, I do not know what I did with it.   Must have been a “some-timers” moment when I set aside the prepared backing.  I was not worried,  I figured I would come across the backing during my normal stash explorations and when I did, would kit it with the top as I typically do.

Years passed and I never found the backing.  Fast forward to a renovated sewing room with new cupboards and shelving.  All that wonderful storage space  inspired a stash reorganization.  Doing a bit each week, I methodically went through all of my stash, refolding, sorting, purging and meticulously arranging the fabrics according to my color wheel.  I tackled piles of fabric, emptied boxes, bins, all the while keeping my eye out for the misplaced backing.  Still nowhere to be found.  Mystifying and frustrating!

Since 2011 is the year to finish my UFOs and by this point in November, I am both nearing the bottom of my pile of finished flimsies and nearing the end of the year, I have to make progress to get to my goal of 52 finished quilt projects by December 31st.  With only 5.5 weeks remaining and 15 projects left to complete, there is not much time left to waste.  So decision time!  I had to simply forget the backing I had already prepared and make another.  Since I had purchased quite a bit of the fabric, I still had some left in my stash.  I pulled it out and prepared another backing.  Simple and easy, quickly done and mounted on the long arm.    The top was quilted within three hours and machine bound within another hour.   As I quilted, I wondered how I could have let this flimsie sit there for over a decade for want of the backing.  And now, after it is complete, I am wondering if I ever did prepare the first backing.  Maybe, since it was so simple to do, I had mentally checked it off as done without ever going through the steps.   One thing is certain, with the quilt completed, if that backing really is hidden in an overlooked nook, it will now appear as mysteriously as it disappeared!

Goal Progress:  37  projects complete and 15 more to go!  It feels  more likely that I will reach my goal of 52 completed projects by the end of 2011.  Go me!

Project 2011-36: Nine Patch – Wedding Quilt # 9

This scrappy nine-patch quilt is the ninth top that I have quilted for my mother.  It is one of the eleven quilts she is making as wedding gifts for her grandchildren.  She told me last week that she was very pleased that I had suggested she make them now, even though no one is engaged to be married.  She said she would not have had the idea to do it.  Now each of the grandchildren will have a wedding gift from their grandmother, even if she is no longer living when they get married.  Mom is 94 and the youngest grandchild is only 13.  Despite her fabulous health, it is quite possible she may not live long enough to see him married!  Marrying a bit later than normal seems to be a trend in our family.   It seems that we all want to be well-educated and travel the world before we settle down!

Be cause  the eighth and ninth quilts were so much alike, I mounted them both on the long arm at the same time with one wide backing.  This quilt is also quilted with the Circle Lord Swirls design with a white thread.  It works up quickly and the movement of the design seems to take the eye away from any piecing challenges.

Goal Status:  36 quilts done and 16 more to go to reach my goal of 52 completed quilts by Dec 31st.  There are 5 and a half weeks left to New Year’s Eve, so that means I have to finish three projects per week.  Still manageable, I think!  I’m going to have to be very efficient in my Christmas preparations.  I will have to ensure my family’s offers to help are warmly accepted!

Project 2011-35: Nine patch – Wedding Quilt # 8

When I went to visit my Mom last week, she had two more quilt tops ready for me to take home.  I like her colourful scrap nine-patch quilts.  This top measures 51″ by 72″.  I used a green striped backing and quilted it with the Circle Lord Swirlz pattern.

This is number eight of the eleven quilts my mother is making as eventual wedding gifts for her grandchildren.  Even though there is no rush to have them complete, I prefer to get them done.  My mother will be visiting here at Christmas and I expect she will bring me the final two quilt tops.  I feel a great sense of satisfaction when a project is done, so getting these done now feels good.

Goal Status:  35 quilt projects complete and 17 more to go by New Year’s Eve!  I still feel confident that I will reach my goal of 52 completed quilt projects during the year 2011.

Project 2011-34: Table Runner

On Friday, Michael, the son of our good friends Barb and Francis, graduated from McMaster University with his PhD degree.  On Saturday, Barb and Francis held a dinner party for about 50 family and friends to celebrate Michael’s accomplishment.  In lieu of gifts, they asked Dan Bailey, a well-known local auctioneer and long-time friend to conduct an auction of donated items with all proceeds going to Autism research, Michael’s preferred charity.

When I dropped off some chafing dishes on Thursday, Barb showed me the donated auction items.  Inspired by Michael’s selflessness, I offered to contribute one of the Christmas table runners I had recently finished.  However, on Saturday afternoon, I decided to whip up an extra runner for the auction.   I knew that if I used some of the orphan blocks I had on hand, I could have a runner complete by the 4:30 departure time from home.

These two wonky four patch blocks came to me in October in a scrap bag when the Loon Country Quilters Guild cleaned out the guild storage bins.  I’m a scrap quilter, so I am always pleased to receive a bag of scraps!  These two blocks  seemed to go well with some navy fabric in my stash, so I quickly assembled them into this runner.  I quilted feathered wreaths and a feathered border with a navy thread.  The binding, made from the same fabric as the backing, was applied to the back and machine top stitched on the front.   I used a matching navy thread on top and an invisible poly thread in the bobbin.  The table topper went together fairly quickly without any problems and I finished with just enough time left to get myself ready for the party.  While my husband waited for me at the door, I  stole a moment to take this photo of the table topper.

The dinner was delicious, the party was fun and the auction was a success with both table runners raising a nice sum for Autism.

Project 2011-33: The Last of the Shoe Fly Blocks Table Runner

There were still three Shoe Fly blocks left and my cutting table still held the fabrics of the third table runner, so what is an efficient quilter to do?  Why not make another one?  And I did!  The fabrics, dimensions, and thread are all the same.  The only difference was a slight variation in the quilting.  I was not overly keen in the stippling in the plaid fabrics, so I substituted a ribbon meander on the plaid fabrics.    So with just a little extra effort and time, I have another project done!

The photos of these two runners make me realize how using my design wall could have helped me improve the project.  The setting triangles were from one large square cut into quarters.  This of course makes the dominant red stripe quite obvious as it runs horizontal in two setting triangles and vertical in the other two.  Given that I made two identical runners, I could have easily switched the triangles so that in  one runner, they all are horizontal and the other all vertical.  I did not notice this while working on them, but in the photo, it jumps out at me.  So next time I am using plaids for setting triangles,  hopefully, I will remember this learning moment!

Even though these projects are posted here on separate days, they were all made in a production fashion.  On Monday evening, I made all of the tops.  On Tuesday evening, I quilted them and machine bound one of them.  On Wednesday, I got up early to trim and bind the remaining three.    Because I am currently out of town for six days (4 days of work, 2 days of fun!), no quilting will happen for six days.   That shortens the time left to complete my goal by almost a week!  Yikes!  Only six weeks left to meet my target.    Now I am really glad I did four smaller projects this week, making good use of the only three days of quilting time available!  I really wanted to get a large quilt completed so I could take it with me on my trip to hand-stitch the binding during the down-time.  But time was limited and  I did not manage to do that.  (Big sigh!)   However, when I return, I expect to have pent-up quilting enthusiasm that will power my progress!

Goal Status:  33 done and 19 more to go.  Feels good to be in the teen numbers!  With six weeks remaining, I have to finish three projects per week.  That leaves no time for dithering and pondering.  I’ll resolve to be decisive and efficient in my use of time.   Of course, I will also need to take good care of myself, sleeping well, getting exercise and eating healthfully to be in top form!   I’ve heard that a glass of wine makes quilting go very well.  Is that true?

Project 2011-32: Another Shoefly Christmas Table Runner

With six left-over Shoe Fly blocks, and unwilling to put them into my orphan blocks shoebox, I had to find a way to use them up.  I pulled quite a few fabrics from my stash, but only two of them had any possibility of coordinating with these blocks.  After adding the plaid fabric, it was so dark that I had to lighten it up and tie in the border fabric.  I added a narrow 1/4 inch flange that seemed to both frame the dark center and strengthen the small gold stripe in the plaid while pulling out more of the gold in the border fabric.  I was surprised at how well they went together.  A rather unusual combination for me, but still quite pleasing.

This was loaded in sequence on the long-arm and quilted with the same gold thread.   It has a feather border, stippling in the plaid and line dancing in the Shoe Fly blocks.   I’m happy with how it looks.  It will be a hostess gift for my cousin Stephany in Royal Oak, Michigan where I will be staying this weekend.

Goal Status:  32 Quilt Projects complete and 20 more to go!