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Monday, October 20, 2014

Just throw money at it!!!

Have you ever been in that position?    You are pressed for time - you know you should do "X" but no time so just throw money at it to make it better???

Yep - that is me and it is very irresponsible!!!  When I went on my bike trip this summer, I took a bunch (630) pictures. I promised the group that I would upload the pictures to Dropbox so they could see the pictures and get copies if they wanted. Well half of those pictures loaded and then I ran out of room. Now if I had time - I would have gone through my 630 pictures and only loaded those that would have been of interest to the group. And I could have emptied the rest of my Dropbox so that would free up some space.

After getting some gentle reminders from the group about getting access to the pictures - I looked - I seriously looked and did clean out a bit of my Dropbox, but then I said "screw it" and I just paid for a membership which gets me 1 TB of room.  That is a LOT of room and I can load a LOT of pictures in there.  
So now I really should use it as a third back up spot for pictures. But first I need to get myself organized for those pictures - remember the 50,000 unorganized pictures????   Yep - about half of them need to be deleted - I take many pictures in a day and most are for the blog and so I don't really need to keep those pictures - well the edited version is on my laptop - which is supposed to be backed up regularly, but isn't. OK - time to schedule that.

Then yesterday - I went to take a picture and CRAP - the camera card is FULL.  Seriously????   I bought a new one when I got home from the trip.  That is 2000 pictures in a month and a half????   OK - time to clear out that card plus the few others that are sitting here.  NO TIME - so I just bought a new one. M was disgusted with me.   OK - I need to get myself some kind of filing system (not the physical kind because I do have a nice snazzy computer and Lightroom) - I need to figure out what to keep and what goes. Hmmmm and if I could do that on a weekly/daily basis - I wouldn't have this problem.  

OK - I will think about that this week.

I did manage to snag two photos on the new card yesterday!!!!

The serger had been sitting here with TWO broken needles.  M was trying to serge something in the summer and DID NOT raise the metal thread rack to the proper height. The threads tangled, then pulled the needles and bang - they both broke.  Then I couldn't thread one of the loopers and it is that automatic one that blows air or whatever.  I finally got it working and then I zipped through some gift bags that I am making for the Brampton Guild.  I serged thirty of them.  Now to make the casing and insert the ribbon.

Thirty serged gift bags

Of course - since I was in that kind of a mood - I decided to vacuum the interior of the serger - tried the big vacuum - all the attachments are TOO big to fit inside.

Tried the little USB vvacuum- and it is too small to reach inside. I ended up using a brush, but since I had the little vvacuumout - I cleaned my keyboard. Yikes - that was a LOT of crap in there!!!!!!!!!

Lint from the laptop keyboard

I spent a couple of hours with Carla as we chatted about various things for the magazine A Needle Pulling Thread and also QUILTSocial and various projects that we are working on for both. So much exciting stuff coming up!!!!   If you are planning on coming to the CreativFestival this weekend - you should plan to stop by and listen to our presentation.  We will give you the inside scoop on QUILTSocial - what it is all about and how you can participate.  We have great show n tell for you as well.  It is going to be a lot of fun. We will be presenting on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - one time per day.  I will post the times tomorrow so you can plan on attending.  It will be fun, informative AND you are supporting a totally Canadian venture!!!  That is very important if we want to keep the quilting industry alive in Canada!!!!

On that note - I am out of here. It is MONDAY and sewing day!!!!!!!

Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!


Sunday, October 19, 2014


Looking around this studio is stressful!  There are SO MANY things that I want to do - not the ones I HAVE to do, but things that I want to do. Where do I start??  There are about five quilts that just need the borders put on, another five where the blocks are done and they just need to be sewn together. And and and .........................   Well you get the picture.

If I could just take ONE project and get it done instead of flitting from project to project and not completing anything.  How can I make that work???   It is called FOCUS until a crisis (aka deadline) looms and then good intentions get thrown out the window.  Or a new idea pops into my head!  I am not sure which is worse!

Well - let's see what I can do today for focusing!  I may need a set of blinders!!!  (do you know what that is???)

Yesterday when I was pulling out TWO almost completed projects that HAVE to be done by Christmas, I found my IDEA book.  I don't have much in it, but the idea was - if I find a quilt concept that I want to make - I would put my notes in the book. Since it was "lost" - I haven't been able to use it, but I thought about it. Well now I will use it and I have already have several that I want to put in it. Yeah - just what I need.

BUT I found a quote in the book that I love (which is why I wrote it in the book!). "We do not write in order to be understood, we write in order to understand.) C. S. Lewis.    Oh boy  - can I ever relate to that.  I have said many times that I do not write this blog for others - NOPE - this blog is therapy for me and by researching, doing and writing about stuff - I have learned so much!!!!   And if that is what it takes to keep my brain occupied - well that is OK!!!!

Now if I could just figure out how to keep my body exercised. Oh yes - I got the spin class down, but I have some VERY (and I mean VERY) tight leg muscles.  I almost feel like a cripple some days - the muscles are so tight that I have trouble doing the stairs.  I MUST MUST MUST work on that or I will be in big trouble like I was in London.

Enough preamble - on with the surprise!

Yesterday was our monthly class for Northern Lights  (at Sew Sisters) (I keep wanting to write Northern Reflections which is a clothing store - which is completely sold out of that damn bicycle T-shirt!). Anyway - last month I gave the last two blocks for homework. Since this class is really really keen - by the time I arrive, they have their blocks posted on the design wall in the class room. WAIT A MINUTE!   When I walked in yesterday - the pickings were very slim.    FIVE people????   What's going on?

The last two blocks from the Northern Lights class. There were a lot more than five students in the classroom

OK - Helen Anne came a bit late

Nancy wasn't sure which ones were the ones due!

Then they said -"weren't we supposed to sew the entire top together???"   OH!!!!!   And hence the first surprise - we got to see borderless tops!  Since I was going to talk about putting borders on next month - I scrambled and we talked about borders this month!!!!

Have a look at the tops - they are fabulous and hard to believe they came from the same pattern.

Marlene - love the colours - reminds me of a nautical theme

Raili - LOVE that bright block in the center!!!!!

Genny - so long ago that we made the blocks with the bright coloured squares - I forget she had added them.  

Karen L - a wild coloured quilt, but that turquoise pops!!

Marilyn - almost looks like the reverse colours of Karen's. But that orange pops!!!!

Marilyn made one block THREE times - above are two of her rejects - bottom row - extreme right and extreme left are the SAME block. In the quilt above - the bottom row second from the right is the same block. Amazing what value placement can do to a block.  The rest of the blocks above are the leftovers that Marilyn had. She made them up into blocks for the back of her quilt.  I LOVE it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Judith - a bit more subtle than some of the others, but those star blocks just pop off!!!!

Karen W - she had her quilt done last month.  All those blocks pop on this one!!!!

WOW - that is an amazing display of talent!!!!!!!!    There were a few missing yesterday, vacations, illnesses and so on. Hopefully they will be able to catch up and we'll see them all next month.

So we had a discussion on how to choose borders for the quilt.  I think there are FIVE or something like that in the pattern.  I did not put 5 on my big quilt that I made and I am certainly not putting five on the small one.  I just happened to have all my fabric with me and so we used that as an example on how to choose borders and VOILA - my border choices were made. Didn't even have to think about - that crowd is very opinionated!   Thanks to everyone for your input - that was EASY!!!!!!

A small flat piping border (the thin dark strip) and then three borders - light, medium and dark (this is my big quilt)

My quilt with the chosen borders!   The only thing - I don't have enough of that blue and I bought it at Sew Sisters. I was supposed to check before I left for more and I DID NOT!!!!!    Shoot - probably isn't any more - will have to do plan B.  No wait - I know there isn't any more because I was looking for some blue the other day. I did buy some blue - about the same shade - I will use that!!!!   Oh yes - robbing Peter to pay Paul. Time to pick some new colourways to work in. 

Then we had a spectucular NON class show n tell.

First I have to tell you what happened when I walked into the room. Remember I told you the story about Mary and Jane and how I could never tell them apart. Well last month, I figured out how to remember who was who.  I was all set to SURPRISE them.  Well Jane unfortunately wasn't there due to illness (hope you are feeling better Jane!). Mary was there and I was going to say "Hey Mary". She turned and I noticed that she is wearing a NAME TAG!!!!!!!!!!!   NO - it wasn't for my benefit - she was doing some volunteer work at her church that day and came to class in between her duties at the church and she had just left her name tag on!!!!!!!!!!!    DRAT - she ruined my surprise!!!!   It was pretty funny and we had such a good laugh over it!!!!

Mary and Jane are making this quilt for a friend of theirs. It has flannel on the back so it will be warm and snuggly.  What super friends they are!!!!

Marlene brought in her completed quilt top. This was from a class on curved piecing that I taught a couple of weeks ago.  Top is done as she ran out of the green, although she had more of the other colours!!!   Looks AWESOME Marlene

Karen W took a class with me a number of years ago based on the book Liberated Quilts by Gwen Marston.  This is one of two quilts that Karen brought in.  Awesome and a fabulous way to use up stuff!!!!

Raili made this quilt using the Batting Buddy tool.  Looks fabulous and it's DONE DONE DONE!!!!!   The quilt is being donated to the Linus project! Awesome job Raili!

I think everyone is familiar with the Row by Row Experience we had this summer in Ontario (and all over the US).  Each store would post a winner - the first person to come into their store with a completed quilt would win a prize. And if the  quilt contained the row designed by thath store - the quiltmaker got another prize.  I saw these two quilts and thought - I KNOW those ladies!!!   So I asked them to bring their winning quilts to show n tell.  Oh yes - they were gorgeous.

Made by Genny - fabulous!!  And wow - I love those rows!!!!

This one blew me away. Mary (Genny's mother) made it. She did not use kits, but her own soft colour palette.  It is stunning and she incorporated rows on the side to make the quilt a more reasonable size. BUT look what else she did...........
In the sashing - she printed the name and city of the stores from which she got the patterns.  That is BRILLIANT, very tastefully done and a COMPLETE SURPRISE - I didn't even know the names were there until she pointed it out.   I just LOVE LOVE LOVE that. 

And she put her label on the front.  And it fits right in!!!!   Nicely done Mary!

I love to see some of the thought and creativity that went into making these quilts. Thanks for sharing all those fabulous projects!!!!!!!!!!!

Had a great machine quilting class in the afternoon.  So many eager new quilters!!!!   I just hope they go home and do their homework!

When I finally got home, it was time for me to get some work done. If I don't get that binding on that curvy runner, Joyce is going to be mad at me. I am dreading it a bit because there are a couple of tricky bits on it.

I need to make bias binding because of the curves, so I do the calculation (so nice to not have to get the instructions out any longer). I cut the square, sew it together and start cutting. It was only when I was finished cutting that I remembered I wanted to use 2 1/4" binding NOT 2 1/2".  OH CRUD!!!!!!!   It was already cut.

Cutting the binding

Ready to sew!!!

CRAP CRAP CRAP - well I am going to attempt to use the 2 1/2". I am not cutting a quarter inch of it.

Today looms empty!  Only one appointment and she is coming to my house.   BUT I have a list a mile long and I had better get started on the list!!!!

Just got this picture from M.  She just snapped our backyard with her smartphone.  How is that for a colour palette!!!   STUNNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have an awesome day!!!!!!!!!!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Blue and green should never be seen!!!!

I was in sixth grade. I remember distinctly what I wore that day - blue and white striped shorts and a green T-shirt made from a terry cloth type fabric.  Let's face it - there are moments in our life that we would LOVE to forget yet each detail is forever etched in our brain!  My class was walking back to the school from a local field trip. One of the girls said to me - "blue and green shouldn't be seen".  I was mortified. Keep in mind - I was a country girl. Grade six was my first grade in the TOWN school. Prior to that I went to a one room school house with a total of 15 kids!!!    And while I wasn't fat, I wasn't skin and bones.

That comment has remained with me for all these years and for the longest time, I never wore green and definitely not green and blue together. As I got older and bolder and SMARTER, I realized - look at the trees - look at the sky - DUH!!!!!    Why did I let some catty school girl comment create such a big deal for me?

By today's standards, that comment was very TAME.  Imagine the insecurities that people carry because someone made a supposedly casual or intentional comment.  We need to be careful in what we say to others and I apologize if I have left anyone with an insecurity because of something I said to them.

We'll get back to the blue and green in a minute.

First - look what got done yesterday!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Celtic Soltice - last year's Bonnie Hunter mystery - DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OK - so it is NOT my quilt and the quilting was not done by me.  That is Helen Anne's quilt and she quilted it yesterday.  She did a super job on it as well and went home very happy.   Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish I could say that mine is done or even close to done, but at least the components are together - the blocks need to be sewn. Some day!

Ask me if I am going to do the Bonnie Hunter mystery this year????   NOPE - NO - NADA - not touching it!!!!   I have so many things that need to be done and there is no time to get them done let alone starting another quilt. Some of my other reasons?  There is a LOT of work in Bonnie's mysteries - a LOT of repetition and you have no idea whether you will like the quilt in the end.  So - no I am going to put my time on something that needs to be done, that won't be so repetitious - is faster and won't have such a crazy deadline. Her quilt comes out at Christmas.  Do you think I have convinced myself NOT to touch it???  I sure hope so.

I do want to wish good luck to those that do take on this year's quilt.  Send me pictures!!!

OK - so here is the blue/green situation.  I am teaching a beginner quilt making class at Sew Sisters. The ladies are enthusiastic and raring to go.   They are busy cutting and sewing this week.  There is a sample of the quilt at the store, but I thought I would give it a whirl - it is very easy.  I grabbed the baskets of blue fabric and right away I have a problem.  Many of my blues are dull, greyed down and boring!!!!!   I bypass them every time I go into the basket.   Yes - I need to group them - make a quilt and give it away!

I managed to snag six brighter blues. Hmmmm - where are the rest of my bright blues??   OH shoot - that is right - I cut everything up a while back and made a couple of Hopscotch (The Quilt Patch) quilts.

I know - they don't look that bright in the photo - but this quilt top is hanging in a dark corner
As I started to cut and lay out - I had SIX different blues and the block had EIGHT squares so off to Ruti's to get two more.

So while I managed to get rid of a couple of small pieces of blue - I still have this left..............
Leftover blues!!!

However then I had to choose another colour to go in the quilt.  The original had red in it. Red - Hmmmm - nope - don't want red. How about orange???   Nope - no orange.  Hey what about GREEN!!!   And of course that whole story surfaced in my head again!!!!!!!!   Green it is. I had to search for BRIGHT greens and couldn't really find any in the stash.   AH - I remember - those bright greens are in another project.

Project box in the closet - labelled of course
There are those bright greens

So I cut and sewed and cut some more and sewed some more and VOILA - here are the first two rows of the quilt done.

First two rows DONE!!!!!!   
The only problem - when I got this much done - I thought how cool would it be with a bright red row and a yellow one and purple and so on.   However that is NOT going to happen on this quilt since I had already made the other blocks and the rows.
Here they are - they just haven't been sewn together yet 

The original quilt does NOT have a border on it. However you know me and my generous lap quilt size. This quilt is only 45 inches wide by 63 long.  ACK - I know it would be OK like that, but I want it to be wider and it could stand to be longer.  My generous lap size is 60 by 72 inches. So now the dilemma - what to add for borders.  I have a VERY dark blue (on the left) or the next border could be white (on the right)

Hmmm - blue border or white border

And then what if I added something on the outside of that first border. Do I have anything that is blue/green????

DUH - this project sitting right on the sewing table - lots of blue and green fabric there!

I pulled that deep green from the project that was on the sewing table and look at that gorgeous blue/green fish print

Even found a blue/green stripe - but not enough of it and not quite the right colour. 

I am tending towards putting on a three inch white border and then a piano key border of the deep blue and the deep green. I will alternate the two colours. So if border one is 3" and the next one is 6" - that would make the final quilt - 45 plus 6 plus 12 = 63 wide and the length would be 63 plus 6 plus 12 = 81.   Hmmmm - a bit long, but that is the nature of this quilt. OK - I think that is what I will do.

Oh yes - I should say that while I was sewing, I as trying to think of how to quilt the quilt.  Oh yes -I have a couple of ideas and excited about them both!!  You see when we are done the beginner class - we are DONE with the quilt. Labelled, bound  - the whole thing!!!!

And the ideas just keep coming in - I have some orphan blocks on my wall that Mary gave me since she was going to throw them away.   I just found a concept that I can use to make a quilt with some of them. I am so excited, but WAIT - when will I find the time??????  

While I was sewing, I ran out of bobbins. Remember I wind FIVE bobbins and when they are used up - I clean the machine and change the needle.  Since I have been running around using different machines, I am always looking for seam rippers, awls, and snips.  As I was cleaning the machine - I opened the drawer beside me and whoa!!!!   Now I know where everything has been hiding!!!!

LOTS and LOTS of tools.

Now there is a set by my sewing machine, a set in the AWAY sewing basket and on the tray that I use with the testing sewing machine.  The extra went back into the drawer. And now the trick is NOT let those tools wander from their respective locations!!!!

I am working on another absolutely ADORABLE project but I won't share that with you until the actual book comes out and I can complete the project.  NO - it is NOT my book.  Just wait - it is cute cute cute.

Speaking of books - I posted on Facebook last night that my book is out. Well it has been out for a while!   If you want to check it out - you can download the first half of the book on QUILTSocial web site. There is a link in the top right hand corner. You sign up for their newsletter and get the free download. If you want the rest of the book (eBook or hard copy) - then you will get the link to purchase either and if you get the hard copy - you also get the eBook for free and can download it right away.  I just need to figure out how to put it in my library?????  

So what is the book all about???

Elaine's Tech Tips eBook

In 2002 I did the Block of the Month at the Mississagua Quilt Guild. As part of the program and to encourage people to sign up, I wrote a series of tech tips on various aspects of quilting. Those tips became a sort of quilting bible for a lot of people.  Some people still have all those handouts saved and still use them.  Anyway - fast forward to about 2009. I spoke to Carla - the editor of A Needle Pulling Thread magazine. I told her about my tech tips and we decided that it would be a good additional to the magazine. I rewrote the articles and added pictures. Now A Needle Pulling Thread has put the tech tips together in a book along with one of my patterns. Isn't that EXCITING!!!!!!!!!!!    The new tech tips are way better than those original hand outs because there are PICTURES!!!!!    Anyway - check out the link  - get the book!!!!!   Right hand side of the QUILTSocial web page and scroll down slightly. There is a slight glitch - if you are already on their mailing list - you won't get the link. Let me know and I'll see how to get it to you.

On that note - another busy day - two classes - but I am packed and ready.  OH my - hour and a half down time.  Hmmm - what can I get done in that time?????

Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Beginner Quiltmaking class

Hi everyone

Since the arrows on my pattern were NOT the clearest - here are some pictures of the front and the back of the blocks that we are making. Hopefully that will clear up any confusion you had about the direction in which to press the seams.

The front of Block A and B - note how neat the intersections are at the corners of the white square.  This is in part because of the direction the seams are pressed on the back and don't forget I use the STILETTO or Quilter's Awl instead of pins. 

Here is the back of Block A and B.  Notice that the seams in the top and bottom rows are pressed TOWARDS the center while the blocks in the middle row are pressed AWAY from the center.  That means the seam allowances are NESTING  - they are NOT overlapping. When the seam allowances are going in the same direction it is much more difficult to get accurate seam matching.   Note that those last two (in this case horizontal seams - are pressed AWAY from the center)

See how the seam allowances are nesting (going in opposite directions).  From the left - the green one is going down, the middle white one is up and the right green one is pointing down.   

And notice how the edges of the block are straight - no pieces are hanging over.

All blocks should measure 9 1/2" when they are sewn. Basically the UNFINISHED size is 9  1/2" and the FINISHED size (when sewn into the quilt) is 9 ".  It is important that you understand the difference.  We will discuss more at the next class if that sounds like Greek to you. 

The right side of Block C and D

The wrong side of Block C and D. The seams in the middle row are pressed towards the center. In this case - we are pressing those last two seams TOWARDS the center. 

I hope that makes sense - if not - e-mail me and we can figure out what to do.

Good luck!

Have a great day!!


Do you get it?????

First - I have a NEW look to show you. Got to figure out how to incorporate this onto my blog page.

Do you get it?????   Saw the sign at a store while we were on the retreat and well - the rest is history!!!!

I have had a task that I didn't want to do. It was quilting a table runner of my own. You know how it is - you can do stuff for others, but never for yourself.  I started to quilt the runner a long time ago and never got it finished as I wasn't liking what was happening. Joyce very politely told me that it looked horrible as a sample with all the extra batting hanging off of it. So two choices - trim it off and leave it or finish the quilting. I took it one step further - I ripped out all the previous quilting and started over. I think I ended up doing the same style of quilting - go figure!!!!

But it wasn't without some trials and tribulations. Have a look................

The runner was made with the Simply Curves ruler and I wanted some quilting lines to follow the curves.   Hmmm - this template is the same curve. |But that is going to be a lot of work since the curve alternates up and down. 

I could use a regular ruler and use it as a guide

I can't use the Simply Curve ruler as it is too thin and will get caught under the hopping foot on the long arm. 

Well - I could mark lines 

Using my NEW marking pencil - I just LOVE this marking pencil - it is chalk. 

Then I could use a smaller ruler to follow those lines

Oh yes - I tried a bunch of things and then said - SCREW IT - this is MY table runner. I need the practice and I don't want to spend a lot of time with it.  So I just free handed those lines after I marked them with the chalk pencil.  I know - most of the lines are pretty straight - no wobbles - that part is easy.  They are not necessarily equal distance from each other. I know I can live with that.   Hey Mary - did you hear that?????

The table runner

The quilting
 Someone is here today to rent the machine so I have no choice but to get some of the stuff trimmed and bindings on what I have quilted this past week.  So Joyce - your persistence paid off - I'll bring it on Monday for you!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes - if you want to learn how to use this ruler - there is a class at The Hobby Horse. You don't have to make this runner - there are other patterns to make as well.  But a good class to learn how to sew curves!!!!
The date is Friday, November 7th!!!  

OK - so I spent a bit of time yesterday trying to find that T-shirt.  Ooops - I guess I haven't finished unpacking from my summer bike trip - I found it shoved inside a stuff sack in my duffle bag.    Do you not love this T-shirt and think it is appropriate in those moments of DILLUSIONAL DOABLITY (which I seem to be getting a lot of!!!!)

Super slogan

The shirt comes from my gym which is called LIFETIME.  So - do you get that????   I can do it all in my GYM!!!!    I had to haggle to get this - apparently it is only available in the US.  This is where gym friends come in handy.  Norm had one and I don't know why, but I wanted one. He managed to get me one and I traded him my Founding member jacket from Lifetime. A fair trade since I never wore the jacket.

I also found the quote - oh yes - I was a busy bee yesterday.  First I have to say that the last two books I have picked up to read - Brave New Quilts by Kathreen  Ricketson  and Tornado Hunter by Stefan Bechtel with Tim Samaras. - Well both authors died in accidents in May 2013.    I just happened to see this book on the book shelf at the library - those damn librarians - always putting out books to entice us!!!!  Anyway - I started to read the book and then I thought - I wonder if this is the guy that was killed by a tornado last year. Yep - it was.  Just terrible as the more I read - this guy who never went to college was BRILLIANT.

Tornado Hunter

Anyway - I am NOT equating myself to Tim at all. But I thought this is so me.............

"They (Tim Samaras and Carsten Peter) were among the fortunate few whose profession was their passion, whose avocation (hobby) was their vocation. Living in that "sweet spot" where work, play and joy were all the same thing, they exuded a kind of perpetual youthfulness, as if their energy were inexhaustible."  

I think that is so well said and pretty much sums up my life.  I hate when people say - oh you are spread pretty thin. Oh you are doing so much.  You know what - I LOVE my life. And let's face it - I am NOT retired - I do work for a living. It just happens to be something that I love.  No one ever said to me when I worked as a sales rep and did a thousand things on that job that I was spread too thin!!!   So next time you think that I am busy - I am just doing my job!!!!  But something that I love!!!!  (OK - so I get paid a pittance compared to my sales job but I am a thousand times happier)

On that note - I am out of here.  I have tons more to share with you, but I better get to work!!!

Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!