Getting back to Normal (whatever that is)

Wow the smoke from the BC Mainland fires is really making things look like fall around here although it is still really warm outside these days. It would be downright unbearable if we could actually see the sun. I had a text from a cousin that lives south of Seattle and he sent a picture of the skies above him and the smoke from all of the Mainland BC forest fires has even reached down in his area. I don’t think I have ever seen a fire season as bad as this one in my lifetime. I am hearing of a lot of homes being lost and that is so sad.

I myself have been feeling better although I did overdo things yesterday and am paying the price today. It’s fine though and I am finally back to quilting (OK maybe not today but I have been).

  

This was a fun quilt to do. It was a Dresden plate quilt design made up of all different types of fabrics. In keeping with the more traditional design of the quilt, the client decided on just simple stipple quilting in the background. I know some people don’t like stipple quilting however, for this application and design I think it worked well.

I used three shades of Superior threads So Fine 50. A Royal Blue, Soft Mint Green and a yellow. I can’t recall the numbers at this time though.

I just completed another quilt for the same client, she had made a quilt using old hankies and had hand quilted most of it however decided she didn’t want to hand quilt the sashing and borders so asked me to again just machine stipple quilt it. I don’t have a picture of this quilt but we used a soft yellow to tie the colours in the hankies together and it worked well.

I finally got a picture of Kevin wearing the hat I knitted for him. So here it is.

This was a simple hat to knit and it should keep him nice and warm this winter when he is working outside.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far now to go and see about maybe having an ice cream cone.

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Happy Canada Day

Well here we go again another two weeks goes by and no post. Last post I mentioned maybe quilting one of my own quilts before my schedule got crazy. I should have known better, life got really crazy and still is. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel though so that is good.

I was just sitting at my computer with a brownie in the oven that I was making for the church Canada Day picnic. I don’t like to leave the room when I have things in the oven. I tend to forget them and not hear the timer, this never turns out well. I received an email from Craftsy regarding a sale they had on this weekend, I haven’t looked at Craftsy lately so with 20 minutes to kill I thought I would take a look and see what was new.

There was one class that I hadn’t seen before on machine quilting so I watched the trailer and then went down to the reviews. Sometimes I don’t know whether to shake my head or just laugh. I actually do a bit of both. This particular class got mostly rave reviews but there were a few 1 and 2 star reviews so I read them.

This is where the head shaking comes in, after reading the reviews it is quite obvious that the writers reading compression is not very good. The few bad reviews all complained about how disappointed they were etc etc re whatever it was but here’s the deal, the class wasn’t about those things, in fact it clearly says it in the description of the class and in the trailer!!! These people are leaving bad reviews not because the teacher can’t teach but because these people can’t READ!

Oh well, I feel sorry for the class instructor though as these people who obviously have issues are bringing down the overall score of the class which is a shame. Hopefully the instructor realizes this and doesn’t take these comments personally.

On Sunday there was a silent auction for Dee’s Orphan Kitten Fund. It was fun catching up with an old work friend and seeing all of the items up for action. Kevin and I adopted our Mia through Dee’s and my friend had asked me to make a quilt for the auction. I heard it went for $180.00 which is below it’s value but still better than it could have been. I had taken a bigger picture of this from my phone but when I moved it over to the larger screen realized it was fuzzy. This was a small lap size although I put a hanging sleeve on it in case someone wanted to hang it.

Cat's in the Window-2

The other quilt I finished was a custom made quilt.

Pia's Memory Quilt-3

Pia's Memory Quilt-4

This was a graduation present and it was made of fabrics that all had meaning for my client. Some of the fabrics she picked out at the Cloth Castle  and some were from old duvet covers she had growing up. The pattern was one she saw on pinterest and wanted me to make. It is just 2.5 inch strips cut at different lengths and made into 12.5 inch blocks. I cut some of the panels of the duvets apart and used them on the back of the quilt. I used the Bora Bora pantograph from Urban Elementz which you can purchase at the Cloth Castle. I love the way this turned out and hope she gets many more years from her memories.

So Happy Canada 150 to all.

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A Quilting Update

Well the days are whizzing by, or at least it seems like that. I remember being told that time moves faster the older you get. I could never figure that one out when I was younger but I am beginning to see how that saying came into being. Of course being busy helps with time appearing to move faster.

The weather here in Victoria continues to be unusual or at least it seems that way. It appeared to jump from winter to summer overnight, a few wonderful days and then back to winter overnight again. So far we appear to have missed spring altogether this year.

Here are a couple of random photos taken while Cocoa and I were on one of our daily walks. We ran across this turtle behind the pond near where we live. He/she had come out to enjoy the sun that had finally shown itself that day. Don’t worry Cocoa didn’t harm it. I picked Cocoa up and we carefully stepped over the turtle and left it in peace to enjoy the day.

My crazy work schedule has slowed down a bit and that is both good and bad. Good as I finally have time to relax and do some planning and maybe actually quilt one of my own quilts (we’ll see how that goes), and bad because slower work means less money coming in. Oh well, I am enjoying having a little time to sit back and actually think about what I want re the future. Besides come July 10 the schedule will go back into crazy mode again so I need to just enjoy the time I have while I have it.

Princess Kieva Quilt-1Princess Kieva Quilt-2

Recently I got the chance to work on this wonderful quilt. This was really fun to work on, the only drawback I had is that the silver Superior Sew Fine 50 thread I used as the background colour for a large part of the quilt ended up being back ordered. I had one small spool of the thread so I ordered a cone the same day I started working on this quilt and I didn’t receive the thread in the mail until 10 days later. Not great however it all turned out well and I love how this quilt turned out.

Even though I previously posted that I am not a huge fan of doing pantographs there are quilts that call for just an all over edge to edge design. I am very good at doing simple edge to edge for kids and baby quilts and I really enjoy those however I thought it would be nice to have a couple more sophisticated edge to edge designs available for people who want them. The Cloth Castle where I work recently brought some pantographs in so I purchased two that I liked.  Both are by Urban Elementz, one is Deja Vu and the other is Bora Bora.

I have used the Deja Vu on a client king size quilt (which I forgot to take pictures of) and it turned out great and I have also used it on a smaller quilt for a client that needed a quick wedding present.

Blue Quilt-1Blue Quilt-2

I did like the way these turned out. I just finished a custom quilt (one I completed from start to finish) with the Bora Bora pantograph which also turned out really well, however I am still sewing down the binding on that one so the client hasn’t seen it yet other than in pictures I have sent so that will have to be posted later.

Good friends are like quilts they never lose their warmth

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Part 1 Panama Canal Trip

Hey I’m back!! Brr it’s still cold here in Victoria, what’s up with that! I really thought that the good weather would have been here by the time I returned from the trip. It was beautiful on Friday afternoon when the Nieuw Amsterdam pulled into port in Victoria but the next day rain and COLD! Ugh!

Mom and I had a great trip. We picked up the ship in Fort Lauderdale Florida. The weather was warm but not really that sunny as you can see from the photo below. Panamal Canal Trip-1

Panamal Canal Trip-2

Here I am sitting by the aft pool. Mom and I arrived at the ship early so we were able to tour the ship with relatively few people hanging about. The Nieuw Amsterdam is with the Holland America line. It is one of the larger in the Holland America line but it’s not so large that you get lost.

Fort Lauderdale is has many canals and small channels near the port. Here is a picture of a freighter coming through the channel that we left by.

Panamal Canal Trip-3

Our first port of call was Holland Americas own island Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. It is a beautiful location with a gorgeous white sand crescent beach. I found the water temperature cooler than I expected however it was nice and refreshing once you took the plunge.

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Here is a picture of the Island taken from the ship. You can just make out the crescent shape beach.

Panamal Canal Trip-5

Mom and I got there earlier than most so once I had settled her into our sun shade I walked the length of the beach. It was so beautiful and peaceful. There was still a bit of cloud cover so although it was nice and warm it was perfect for a long stroll on the beach and since we were one of the first groups to land on the Island the beach was almost empty. Heaven!!

The next two days were sea days where we found time to relax and enjoy the warm weather and find things to do on the ship. Mom and I splurged for a “spa package” where we had access to a thermal pool, sauna, heated beds and a meditation room.

Image result for nieuw amsterdam hydropool pictures

Image result for nieuw amsterdam hydropool pictures

During those sea days Mom and I spent some time getting to know two of our dinner table mates a little better. It was great fun going to name that tune or listening to some of the on board bands and music with them.

Well that’s it for this leg of the journey soon I will post pics on Cartegena and the Panama Canal transit.

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A Few Finishes

Well not much down time these days however only three more sleeps until Mom and I take off for Fort Lauderdale, where we board the Niew Amsterdam on the Holland America line!! Boy do I need a break!! We travel through the Panama Canal and all the way up to Victoria (the ship goes to Vancouver but we have elected to disembark in Victoria, why pay ferry costs just to get home.

I managed to get the longarm machine fixed quickly which was very lucky and I finished quilting the last quilt Monday afternoon. I still had to give one quilt back though as I really didn’t have time for it and I didn’t want to keep it while I was away.

Here is Seeds of Life II. The first Seeds of Life quilt was given to the church for the annual church raffle. This client didn’t win the raffle one and asked me to make her one so this is Seeds of Life II. The photos aren’t great the weather, although warmer is still not great and it’s hard to get good photos of large quilts inside.

Client Quilts 2017-8Client Quilts 2017-7

This is the quilt I was working on when my needle broke on the machine. I got it finished though. Love the colours in this one.

Here is the last quilt I completed. The client just wanted an all over stipple but for this quilt it works nicely around all of that applique. This was her very first quilt can you believe it? She did a great job.

I had a day off today so I made my Mom a tote bag for the trip. How hard can this be right? Well, it turns out it’s not really hard however it is time consuming. I got hers made but won’t have time to complete one myself. Maybe when we get back.

Client Quilts 2017-9

It turned out really nice. I quilted this on my domestic Janome Horizon machine. This was a video from Shabby Fabrics although I changed it up slightly with the inside pockets and I added a magnetic snap. I learned one thing from making this. I like having the video tutorials however not JUST the videos. I prefer to also have written instructions to go along with the video alas this pattern did not have that. I watch on my iPad as I don’t have a computer in the studio and I don’t own a laptop. The issue with doing this kind of thing with an iPad is when you pause the video to do the step the thing locks and you have to unlock it every time (sigh) not to mention the fact it’s hard to rewind. Oh well.

The last project I was hoping to do was a travel jewelry roll for me. I don’t think I am going to get to that so will have to come up with plan B.

I won’t be blogging while I am away as I refuse to pay the high prices for internet on board and I am not taking a laptop with me. I was going to take my partner’s HP tablet computer so I could write but with the way things are going traveling to the US these days I have decided not to as I don’t want to have to put it in the checked luggage if the rules change. I simply don’t trust the airlines enough not to either have things wind up stolen or broken.

So talk to you in May!

 

Life Happens

Do you ever have those times when you feel you just can’t win? Well I am going through one of those times. Life has been hectic and my schedule has been crazy lately. I am trying to work two jobs and run a business as well.

Why two jobs you might ask? Well I went through a period over Christmas and part of the new year with no quilts or money coming in so I started looking for part time work.  I got hired as a casual at one place and then another called as well. Now all of this wouldn’t be bad except my Mother and I made vacation plans way back in August of last year and we are leaving in two weeks.

So here I am trying to scramble and get everything done before I go. I have been putting in long hours to make it all work and I was almost there when it happened….

I broke a needle on the longarm while quilting a quilt. Doesn’t sound like much does it… except the tip of the needle got jammed in the hook race and now the timing is off on the machine and I can’t fix it. Sigh, so now here I sit with client quilts waiting to be done and no way to complete them. Hopefully I can get this fixed this week however that only gives me one week to finish everything else. I have already called one client and will hand her quilt back to her as I know I won’t get to it in time now. I had a charity quilt all ready to go too and I have had to call and let them know that I won’t be able to complete that until May. I have one quilt on the frame and one other quilt which I am not sure of now. So much for my well scheduled life.

I guess maybe life is trying to tell me I had things too scheduled and maybe I did. Normally, if I wasn’t going on vacation this really wouldn’t be that big of a setback as it will only put things out a week or so. It just so happens that this time I don’t have that extra week to spare. So here I sit, I had scheduled today, tomorrow and Wednesday as complete quilting days and now that is not going to happen.

Oh well, there is nothing I can do about it but try to make it better but it does show me that I am going to have to find out how to repair my machine myself as losing days or weeks of business is just not cost effective.

life-happens-quotes-5

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How to Fix Fabric Grain

Life has been super busy lately but thankfully it should slow down by next week. I am finding that time management is a bit of a laugh. I for one refuse to give up sleep just so I can get everything done on my list that there needs to be done. Sometimes something has to give and lately for me that has been blogging and church the last couple of Sundays. Sunday has been my only day off and so it has turned into the day for grocery shopping, laundry and all of that other fun stuff as well as quilting customer quilts.

Last weekend I was working at the Creative Sewing Show in the Cloth Castle booth here in Victoria BC.It was a lot of fun talking to people and doing demonstrations on the Handi Quilter Avante and Simply Sixteen long arm quilting machines. I even had at least one award winning quilter come by and teach me some things which was awesome. The days were long though and my body was complaining a lot by the time I finished my shift Saturday night. No other work got done that day.

The weather here in Victoria is still very winter like, usually the cherry trees are in blossom and there is starting to get some warmth to the sun. Not this year. The picture below shows the difference from our winter last year to what it has been like this year.

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Last time I blogged I talked about people not knowing about the straight of grain on fabric. Since that blog post this subject has come up a few more times as well I just recently saw a YouTube video on this very subject.

It seems that something that was taught beginning sewing classes isn’t being taught anymore so there is a whole generation of new sewers out there that don’t know how to find the straight of grain or how to get a piece of fabric back on grain should it go off when pre-washing their fabric.

Maybe quilters don’t think they need to know this stuff or that straight of grain only applies to garment sewists. Well to a certain point that may be true, however that said there are certain quilt patterns that are much easier to create if the fabric is on grain. Understanding and using the different grains helps your piecing go smoother and your finished quilts hang or lay flatter.

fabric grain

The Selvage is the tightly woven end of the fabric. Do not use this in your quilts top piecing or backing. Just cut it off. In fact, when you hear the term ‘usable width of fabric’ that means the width of your fabric minus its selvages.

Lengthwise Grain

The lengthwise grain has the least amount of stretch and it runs parallel to the selvage of your fabric. You can minimize sagging in your quilts by cutting your fabric in ways that take advantage of the stability of lengthwise grain. For the backing cut it out on the lengthwise grain to run from top to bottom on your quilt if you are intending to hang the quilt.

To help prevent borders from sagging you can cut the long left and right borders of your quilt on the lengthwise grain and cut the top and bottom borders on the crosswise grain. The same idea applies to sashing strips and hanging sleeves that are used on your quilts.

Crosswise Grain

The crosswise grain has more stretch than lengthwise but less than the bias. It runs perpendicular to the selvage. Most quilt patterns instruct you to cut cross grain strips and then sub-cut them into patches.

Bias 

True bias is the grain that runs through your fabric at a 45 degree angle from the selvage and has the most stretch of any grain. If you are using a curved outside edge on your quilt you will want to use a bias binding as apposed to a crosswise grain bias as you will need to be able to stretch the binding around the curves.

Using Fabric Grain in Your Quilts

Ideally, all of the outside edges of a quilt block are on the straight of grain, either a lengthwise or crosswise grain line. This prevents distortion during piecing and pressing, helping to keep the block square.

To keep those bias edges inside the block, certain piecing “units” are cut very specifically.

Cut a square once, diagonally from corner to corner to get units for half square triangles and/or setting triangles. The bias remains on the inside.

Cut a square twice diagonally from corner to corner to get units for quarter square triangles and/or setting triangles. Again, the bias edge will remain on the inside of the block.

How to check your fabric’s grain

You can check to see if your fabric is on-grain by establishing a straight line across, from selvage to selvage, then folding the fabric to see if it squares-up.

To do this, lay out your fabric panel right side up and flat on your work surface.

Near the top cut edge and starting at one side of the selvage, find one thread that goes all the way across (cross-ways). Start pulling it.

Fabric with an Amount Off-grain

Fixing off Grain Fabric

There are two ways to fix off grain fabric. One is to fold your fabric in half (selvages together) so your cut edges are aligned. Pin along the cut line and pin the selvages together and then iron your fabric until flat.

The second way is to stretch the fabric.  Fold your fabric in half (selvages together). When your grain is off, you’ll see that one of your corners is short. Hold the short corner with one hand and with the other hand, grasp the opposite corner. Gently stretch the fabric on the diagonal.

Well that is a brief description of grain and how to fix it. Hopefully this has helped some people.

Image result for Living life to the full sayings

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Busy week and Something New

Whew, it’s been a busy week or so and it’s going to be busy for the next three weeks so I will have to try to slip a blog post in whenever I can. I have now started a second part-time job as well as the job at the Cloth Castle not to mention having more quilts to quilt as well. It’s all good though and things should slow down again by the end of the month so in the meantime it’s going to be a test of my time-management skills.

I just recently decided to purchase a new camera. Now, one might wonder why since I have a camera I use on my phone as well as a very good DSLR camera. I love my DSLR camera but it is big and bulky and it works well for video and tripod shots but not so much for just a quick photo. The phone camera is OK for that type of thing but has it’s drawbacks so my partner Kevin and I discussed it and decided to bite the bullet and get a really good point and shoot camera that takes great pictures in low light, takes good video and has a super zoom. It’s nice and compact so I can take it on holidays with me (the countdown is on). It’s small enough to just slip in my bag but not so small I will lose it. This is all a good thing as I won’t be taking my phone with me on this trip. Now I just have to find the time to figure out how to use it before Mom and I head out on the high seas.

Nikon COOLPIX A900 Digital Camera (Silver)

One thing that seems to have been coming up recently while working at The Cloth Castle is about ripping vs cutting cotton fabric and the straight of grain. At the Cloth Castle we cut the fabric as opposed to ripping it. Now this is fine except that if you take the fabric home and wash it, sometimes that fabric will go off-grain. I had two customers come into the store last week with pieces of fabric that they wanted to complain about as it was all askew and if they cut it like that they would loose too much fabric. I took a look at it and quickly assessed that there was nothing actually wrong with the piece it simply went off-grain when they washed it and a simple pull corner to corner put everything right.

This got me to thinking, (I know dangerous at the best of times), working with fabric straight of grain was a very basic sewing lesson in first year home EC,  however this doesn’t seem to be taught anymore and both woman I talked to last week didn’t even know what I was talking about when I said that the fabric was simply off grain and I showed them how to fix it. So, how many quilters or other sewists out there these days know about fabric straight of grain and how to fix it?

I think this is important and will follow this post up with another this week (when I have a little more time) explaining how to get fabric back on grain.

Image result for fabric grainline photos

So look for that post soon. Meanwhile I had two client quilt finishes this week.

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You can’t really see the quilting in this quilt as the fabrics were very busy and I used Superior Threads Sew Fine 50 in both top and bottom. I did a different design in each of the borders and used a new circle template for one of the borders. It turned out really nice but as mentioned the quilting didn’t show up in the pictures.

Quilters Retreat Quilt-4.jpg

This was another client quilt about a queen size and she just wanted a simple design on it so I chose a simple loop de loop and star all over design done in Aurfil 50 thread in both the top and bobbin. Nothing fancy but it totally works for this particular style of quilt.

Our lives are like quilts – bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.

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A New Quilt Finish

Ugh this time more than a week has gone by and I am finally getting the chance to sit down and write. In my defense I ended up really sick with the current flu/cold virus that has been circulating around the area. I decided to share and now my partner Kevin has been really sick as well. I can’t say he is particularly happy with me about that either.  Oh well at least we are both on the mend now.

It’s a good thing I am on the mend too as life is getting busy and Mom informed me we only have 6 more weeks before the two of us take off for a cruise through the Panama Canal. Say what? How did that happen? We booked it back in September and it seemed so far away and now it’s only 6 weeks until we go! Oh no!! Better get at that too do list.

Last week with all of the snow and ice I ended up getting snowed in, not that it mattered much I was too sick to go anywhere anyway. I did manage to take the dog for a walk while it was still snowing so we could enjoy the fresh fallen snow. In Victoria we don’t actually get that opportunity too often as it rarely snows here.

The long arm business is picking up these days (yeah) with the help of the good people at The Cloth Castle. I am really enjoying working there. It is a much busier store than Satin Moon quilt shop was. I usually just have short shifts to cover lunch hours and the busy time so it works out very well. Luckily I didn’t have too many shifts last week as I wouldn’t have been able to make it so it all worked out well.

If you live in the Victoria area don’t forget to drop by the store and say hi and check out the bargain tower upstairs, there is some really beautiful quilting cottons upstairs at great prices (considering the price of fabric these days).

Monday was a holiday this week here in BC (Family Day) so I was able to finish quilting a client quilt. I am really happy with the way it turned out.

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Here is a photo of the quilt before I quilted it.

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This was a fun quilt to work on. I used Superior Threads So Fine 50 No 401 on both the top and in the bobbin for this one.

So now to finish up a little more computer work and then onto the next quilt on the frame.

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A New Family Member

Well another week has gone by and again I am finally sitting down to do a blog post. I don’t know how these people who blog every day do it. Oh well.

It’s been a busy week for me as I had several deadlines to meet this week and then I heard from my sister that my nephew’s wife had gone into labour even though she was at least 1 month early. Well, that put plans into a tailspin. In a good way though.

My new great niece was born on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. My nephew and his wife named her Georgia Evelyn MacDonald. She weighed 6 lbs 7 oz and is a beauty (in my humble opinion).

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This is my Mom’s first Great Grandchild and so she really wanted to go and be with the family. Mom and I live in Victoria BC which is located on Vancouver Island. My sister and her family live on the Mainland spread out to three areas, Port Moody, New Westminster and Mission BC. So anyway Mom and I made the trek over to the Mainland on Thursday to see the new arrival. I came back Friday morning because of the threat of snow and Mom stayed on to visit for a few more days.

It was so worth it. Georgia is simply beautiful. On Wednesday morning my sister woke to the alarm clock radio and the song that was playing was Georgia on my mind. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

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Proud parents Amanda and Grant MacDonald holding baby Georgia.

 

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My nephew Grant holding baby Georgia. By the look on his face she already has him wrapped around her finger.

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This picture is a little blurry sorry about that. It’s my Mom holding Georgia her first great grandchild with my sister Joyce looking on.

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Finally me holding my great niece. She made my heart melt and I am so looking forward to getting to know her better.

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I finished Georgia’s quilt Wednesday night so I could take it with me.

Image result for new baby quotes

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