Category Archives: Goal Setting

2013-20: Autumn Log Cabin

Autumn Log CabinThis autumn toned log cabin quilt is my fall fair quilt for this year. One of my goals this year to make a quilt worthy of winning a first prize at the local fall fairs with a possibility of getting to the provincial level of competition.

How the main quilt competition operates in Ontario, Canada is thus:  A quilter enters a local fair.  When the quilter wins Grand Champion, Machine Quilting or Grand Champion, Hand Quilting (one of each at every fair), then that quilt goes on to the district competition later in the fall.  The quilt then competes against about 20 quilts at the district competition.  The winner of the district competition goes on to the Provincial level of competition in February where the winners of all 15 districts in Ontario compete for the provincial championship.  To win the provincial championship is a great honour!    I figure if I continue to improve my quilting skills, someday I might win at the provincial level!  It’s good to have a goal!

This Autumn Log Cabin quilt contains approximately 4720 pieces.  It took much longer to make than I anticipated.   For every stage, it took longer than I thought: cutting the fabrics, block construction, top assembly, borders, quilting and binding.   I wanted to give up several times, but I forced myself to stick with it.  And now it is done!!!  Hooray!

Here is a photo of the quilting, a design called Majestic Pines by Donna Kleinke of One Song Needle Arts.  All of the fabric in the blocks is from my stash.  When you cut the fabric up for 1/2 inch logs, you can use up a lot of small pieces of stash!

This quilt won Grand Champion, Machine Quilting at the Rosseau Fall Fair and at the Arthur Fall Fair.    My niece Hillary and her husband Gonzalo chose this quilt as their wedding quilt.



Work in Progress: Log Cabin – Update

??????????The log cabin quilt is progressing nicely.  The top is complete and it is now on the machine.  The quilting is quite dense and I can complete three blocks per hour.  There are still a few rows to quilt, so I will be spending a bit more time on this, but expect to have it complete tomorrow.  I’ll put the french fold binding on the front and then take it with me to the cottage for the weekend, where I can hand stitch the binding to the back at a leisurely pace.

Quilting Detail

The quilting design is Majestic Pines by Donna Kleinke of One Song Needle Arts.  I love both the artistic nature and the density of her designs.  The outdoor woodsy theme of this design suits this quilt well.

Work in Progress: Log Cabin

Log Cabin Blocks

Finally!!!  I have finished Log 21 of a group of 320  log cabin blocks that are destined to be my fall fair entry this year.  The blocks finish at 5.5 inches, with each log being a half inch wide.   When I started this project, it seemed like a great idea, but along about log 13, I was seriously questioning the wisdom of selecting this quilt pattern with such small logs.  Each log took an average of 8.5 hours to sew and press.  Multiply that by 21 logs and that is a lot of time spent on these blocks!

I typically post about a quilt only when it is finished – done done with the binding on.  However, I am so proud of myself for sticking to this project, that I have to celebrate their completion.  Many other gorgeous quilts have sung their siren songs, tempting me to abandon this one and dive into a new one.  But no, I resisted, held fast and conquered Block 21!  Hooray!

Tomorrow, I will play with layouts on my design wall.  I already have two good options, but want to be sure before I start the assembly of the top.  My choice of layout will likely be affected by how I decide to quilt this one.  Since this will be a competition quilt, I have to quilt it with dense custom quilting.  I will choose a layout that supports a design that I can do well within a maximum of two days quilting time.

There will not be a lot of dithering time since I have entered this quilt in my guild’s September quilt show.   The September date lulled me into thinking I had lots of time to get this finished.  But no, I don’t!  The quilt has to be ready for photography on Thursday of this coming week.  That gives me four days:  One to assemble the top, two to quilt it and one to hand stitch the binding.   Yikes!  I will be very busy this week finishing this finished.  No rest for the wicked, they say.  I have always wanted to be a wicked woman.  I must be on track to achieve that goal!  LOL!

2012-34: Flowered Table Runner

Flowered Table Runner

In an effort to finish up a few projects before my goal completion date of December 31, I spent the day machine quilting five small projects. One of them got to the finished stage with binding completed.

This table runner started out as three “Quilt As You Go” blocks given to me by my friend Jacqueline when she purged her sewing stash.  I finished up the blocks, added the narrow green sashing and then mounted the runner on the long arm with an additional backing to quilt it as a unit.  Some quilters see QAYG as a simple method of quilting, but for me, it does not hold the same appeal.  I will go out of my way to avoid the hand work required by the Quilt As You Go method!

The quilting was done in an all-over meander with Rheingold Heavy Metal gold metallic thread and Bottom Line in the bobbin.  The gold thread adds a bit of festive sparkle to the table runner.  The binding was applied to the back by machine and top-stitched to the front with matching thread.  I tend to use Superior MonoPoly in the bobbin when top-stitching  binding, so the machine binding looks very good on the front and the thread is invisible on the reverse side of the binding.

This runner will be donated to the Hand Made table at our local fair.  The proceeds of this silent auction table go to support the operation of the fair.


Quilting for the Community: Strip Challenge

Strip Challenge Bags

Completed packages of fabric for the Strip Challenge

When I somewhat naively agreed to become chair of my guild’s Community Outreach Committee in June, I expected that the guild stash would have to be stored at my house, but I had no idea of the size of the stash.  The biggest surprise to me though, was the amount of stress the guild stash would add to my life.  Try to visualize the storage requirements for two large rolls of batting, six large Rubbermaid totes, three medium sized totes, 12 large flip top storage containers, several cardboard boxes and four large IKEA bags of fabric.   Visual clutter stresses me and the cacophony of random styles, colours and lengths of fabrics was truly overwhelming.  My own stash, although beautifully color organized and accessible on open shelves, is large enough that it giving me waves of pleasure and a tinge of guilt when I gaze upon it.  I have been working hard at using my stash and acquiring only the very basic necessities of borders and backings.  Having another large stash suddenly descend upon me has taken a toll on my quilting serenity!

I knew that if I were to survive the year, I had to get an immediate handle on the fabrics, quilts and flimsies. The finished quilts were easy.  We quickly sorted them according to the needs of several organizations and have now distributed 90 quilts.  The flimsies have all been matched with backing and binding and have been distributed to guild members for quilting and binding.  The fabric pieces were another story entirely.  There was such variety in the fabrics, that it was difficult to pull pieces to make coordinated quilts.   Since my personal favorite quilt is a scrap quilt, the best idea was to cut them into strips and create a strip challenge.  During the summer and early fall, we cut up several bins of fabric into 2.5 inch strips.  We sorted fabrics into color families and them began cutting one color at a time.   Day 1, we cut up all of the small pieces.  Day 2 we progressed to yardage, which is much easier and faster to cut.

Beverley pressing fabrics

Beverley pressing fabric yardage

When the fabrics were rough cut to the size of the strip cutter die, Beverley pressed the fabric pieces.

Jean using strip cutter die on Aqququilt Studio

Jean used the 2.5 inch strip cutter die on the  AqquQuilt Studio die cutter.

Jean cut huge piles of strips.  Another guild member, Christine spelled her off to cut enormous quantities of strips.

Strips on Counter

We filled about 30 cafeteria trays and box lids with strips  after the first day of production cutting.

Jacqueline color coordinationJacqueline, a graphic designer by trade and artist by vocation spent two days with us pulling groups of fabrics to make color coordinated kits for guild members to sign out.  Jacqueline aimed for lights, mediums and darks in each package.  Each kit contained slightly less than one pound of fabric, more than enough for one lap quilt.  Notice the large kitchen scale that Jacqueline is using to ensure sufficient fabric.  (In addition to being a quilter, Jacqueline is also a very accomplished potter.  This is the scale she uses to measure her clay.)

The challenge called for the guild member to create a flimsie, sized approximately 40″ by 60″,  using the fabrics in the kit with the optional addition of one fabric of any color or print from the quilter’s own stash.  The quilter was encouraged to make 9 patch blocks with any left-over strips.   We created 36 kits to be signed out, completed and returned by the December guild meeting for a show and viewers choice voting.   The challenge was a resounding success!  It was very interesting to see what guild members could do with found fabrics of a very scrappy nature.   I was astonished at the variety of designs created for this challenge.

For me, one of the biggest benefits of the challenge is that we emptied two large totes of fabric, cut up all of the small pieces and made the guild stash much more manageable!

Over the next few days, I’ll blog several of the quilts that I made from the strips.

Linking Goals and Rewards

One of the key elements of both teaching and parenting is to reward what you value, the behavior you want to see repeated.   In our house, we have consistently rewarded academic achievement and not surprisingly, we have two educated children. Sometimes adults tend to downplay the celebration and rewards for goal achievement.  I now ignore the little voice in my head that says enthusiastic celebration is a tad childish and instead make a conscious choice to celebrate my achievement of goals.

So how does this apply to quilting?

In 2011, I set myself a goal of completing one project per week throughout the year, for a total of 52 completed projects.    It was an ambitious project and I worked hard to complete the 52.   To sweeten the pot and keep me motivated, I set a reward of a trip to the 2012 AQS Paducah Quilt Festival if I completed my goal.  I was proud of myself for accomplishing the goal by Dec 31, 2011.  This s week, I am feeling thrilled about that achievement because this is quilt week in Paducah, Kentucky.

While this is indeed a big reward for a big accomplishment, there is equal value in setting small rewards for small accomplishments.   For 2012, I’m going to figure out some smaller rewards to keep me motivated throughout the year.  Awesome!  Hooray! You did it!  Wouldn’t it be great if we all heard that more often?   Perhaps consistent self acknowledgement and self-reward would be an effective quilting motivation technique.  I plan to experiment!


Indulging My Impulses: Sewing Progress

At the end of 2011, my cupboard of unquilted flimsies was blissfully empty.  I worked hard at completing all of the tops I had on hand and was pumped that I completed my goal.  In fact, I was so proud of my accomplishment, I took a photo of my empty flimsie cupboard.



Getting all those tops quilted felt great.  The little quilting angel on my shoulder kept cheering “You go, girl!”  Mind you, I still had quite a few projects in process UFOs (Unfinished Objects) and WIPs (Works in Progress) in another cupboard that still needed my attention.  Because I cleaned up so many projects in 2011, I decided for 2012 to lighten the focus on unfinished projects and allow myself to create new quilts.      I took some time to ponder the many possibilities and while pondering, kept working on the UFOs.  The trouble is, I like the feeling of cleaning up the old projects so much that I just keep working on the UFOs.

I have not started a single new project, but I do have finished tops and several sets of blocks.  For some unknown reason, I have been in a sewing and piecing mood for the last two months and have not felt much like quilting.   I am not sure why.  Perhaps I just  enjoyed the feeling of ticking another UFO off the list.  I have no pressing deadlines for finished quilts, so I decided to simply indulge my desire to sew and piece.  Quilting and binding can wait for another day.  Maybe I’ll feel more like quilting in April.

Over the years, I have learned that it is better for me to wait until I am completely finished the project before I show it publicly.  When I take an unfinished top to quilt guild for Show and Tell, invariably it will take several months longer to get it quilted.  So , knowing myself, I won’t let myself post a project until it is done-done.   Sigh!  That means I have not had any finished projects to show you.

So what can I do to show you how productive I have been?  Wait… I can give you a peek into my flimsie cupboard!  The roll-out tray that was empty on December 31st now contains 10 flimsies waiting for quilting.  Six are large quilts, three are baby or lap sized and one small table runner sits on top.  I have another quilt top on the design wall that I hope will be finished by Tuesday evening.

Hmmm…  Sounds like I might need to turn my attention to the quilting.

What can I do to get started?  Something small would not be too difficult.  Okay, I can do something small.  I will make a commitment to cut batting and prepare backings for the four small projects by Thursday evening this week.  These smaller quilts would be good warm-up projects to generate quilting momentum and enthusiasm.  And that is the first step to getting and keeping my mojo – just getting started!  I know that once I get moving on a project, I will enjoy every moment and soon I will have some finished projects to show you.

In the meantime, over the next couple of weeks, I am going post a series of tools and techniques that keep me progressing on my quilt goals.   That, too, will nudge me towards finishing my current projects.