Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Just wanted to make sure no one missed the opportunity for great Giveaways:
First, Richard and Tanya are giving away 6 fat quarters. Yay! Check it out and enter here: Richard and Tanya Quilts
Next, Jen is giving away a Modern Convenience Quilt Pattern and a Creative Grids Perfect Rectangle Ruler. You can find her giveaway here: Quilts by Jen
Make sure you don't miss out on these opportunities.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Order Restored

 I chose my smallest bedroom for my sewing room. It's the one with the only south-facing window on the main floor. It actually faces the end wall of my neighbour's house. Nice view... Since I really hadn't done any sewing for the first three years of living here, it sort of became a catch-all room and accumulated all kinds of odds and sods, much of it unrelated to sewing, quilting or crocheting. I finally decided I'd had enough of trying to work in such cluttered and messy quarters and gave my sewing room an overhaul...
Facing south. I really want to get different curtains on these windows. These ones go down to the floor and prevent me from pushing furniture tighter to the wall, so less floor space. On the left, the brown cabinet is for my Janome Memory Craft 6000, which I inherited from my mother. It's currently in the shop. After not being used regularly for several years, I figured it could use a tune-up. In the foreground is my butterfly cutting table. Against the wall where it sits used to be a bookcase housing all of my cookbooks and crafting books. The cutting table then had to sit in the middle of the room, which is not a very big room as you can see, and so it was a pretty tight squeeze. And I'm just not that skinny... That's my little cutting mat. I used to have a bigger one, but lost it when I split with a boyfriend and he kept some of the stuff I had stored at his place. Actually, a lot of stuff, but we won't go there. That was while I was living in a motel. On my wish list is a full-sized cutting mat that will cover the whole cutting table when it's fully open.
This is actually an older typing table, probably could qualify as an antique, that I use for my serger, which I also inherited from my mother. Replacing this with a decent cabinet is another item on my wishlist. I have both of my irons currently in my sewing room (one usually resides in my laundry room) because I need a dry iron for a paper piecing quilt and a steam iron for another quilt I'm working on.
The east wall. This is my first design wall made from a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth with the flannel side facing out. These are blocks from the Craftsy 2013 BOM. On the wall on the right is the pegboard I hung for my quilting rulers, rotary cutters, etc. Spray-painted one of my favourite colours. The paint didn't go on very evenly, so it looks sort of like a tonal fabric. If you've been following my blog for long, you've seen my pegboard before. 

On the desk is my Janome Memory Craft 8000, given to me by a friend, who had a Pfaff and decided she didn't need the Janome as well. I tried to deny her generous gift, but she insisted. And how hard was I going to fight to keep her from giving me a Janome? It sits on a tiny writing desk, which is very impractical for sewing and especially for quilting. Now you know why a new cabinet is on my wishlist. I intend to sell the desk in a yard sale.
This is one of my treasures: an antique notion cabinet. I believe it came from my grandmother's house. I plan on getting it refinished and repaired (it fell over during my last move and broke a hinge loose on the lid) in the not too distant future. I used to use it as a night table when I was in my teens and had painted my furniture green and white, including an antique dresser along with this cabinet.
The north wall, with the door shut, displaying my over the door ironing board.
When I left my marriage, I took these shelves with me. They make great storage in the sewing room. Unfortunately, when I hung them, I don't think I mounted them into studs, so have to be careful how much weight I put on them. When I was organizing the room, I had put a bunch of bins of fabric on the shelves. Fabric can be pretty heavy and the bottom shelf was making some protesting noises, so I opted to store batting, which is much lighter, on the shelves instead. There are also sewing notions and patterns in the various containers. 
Fabric storage. Right now the dresser on the right is empty as I intend for it to be sold in the yard sale as well. The basket came from my mom. She used to have it in her sewing room. It holds the fabrics for a couple of the quilts I'm currently working on.
This is the west wall and my second design wall. That's a queen-sized flannel sheet that I found on clearance at WalMart for $5. These are the blocks for the Craftsy 2012 BOM plus extras. Out of this picture to the left is the closet door. That's where I keep the bins of fabric that were making the shelves protest. My serger's also in there along with some other supplies. I don't see any sense in bringing the serger out to collect dust until I'm ready to use it. Right now I'm focusing on quilting not dressmaking, so don't need it at the moment. I also want to get it serviced before I use it as it's been sitting idle for several years as well. 
I would like to get a computer in here. My laptop is set up as a desktop and the battery on it is dead, so it wouldn't be practical to unhook it to bring it in here every time I want to view some online tutorials or other quilting info. And it is rather tedious running back and forth between rooms to access the computer while sewing. 
But hey, I'm not complaining. Even if I never get any of the items on my wish list, I still love my little sewing room and will be able to work even more efficiently in here not that it's more organized.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Contrary Husband

This is the block in honour of my father. If my mother were still alive, she would have said that Contrary Husband is very appropriate. Dad might have looked a little sheepish, and then he would have laughed. And he would have appreciated the fact that I included fabrics in this block that feature some of his favourite things. Originally I was planning on doing it all in red, as that was my father's favourite colour, and the centre square is one solid square in the original pattern. But then I found the tool fabric, then the airplane fabric and I was going to do 2 smaller squares of each. Then I came across the RV fabric and that had to be added as well. Then I thought about what would be a fourth thing that had been a favourite of Dad's. And I thought of the newspaper. This newspaper fabric is from my "cat stash" because it's actually "The Kitty Chronicle" or some such thing. 
Mystery has to be in the middle of everything I do.
The centre of the Contrary Husband block

I was planning on drafting this block myself, but when I googled it, I found this: Contrary Husband templates and the Contrary Husband Template Guide. Why create extra work for myself? If you choose to use these templates, I suggest that you download them and then print them. I found when I printed them directly from the internet, the 2 inch test line was only 1-7/8". When I downloaded and then printed, they printed true to size. Alternatively, if you are having troubles getting them to print true, you can photocopy the smaller one at 106% enlargement, if you have access to a photocopier.  These templates make the centre square out of 4 triangles, which eliminates the need for Y-seams, by assembling the whole block as four triangles. Or you can use the directions given by another blogger here in order to avoid Y-seams, but these directions are for an 8" finished block, not a 12".  
In my block, however, my centre square was made from 4 smaller squares, so I couldn't use the first method. Nor did I feel like messing with making adjustments to the measurements for the second method to enlarge it to a 12 inch block. So, I created my own method, more or less. I used the templates to create the red pieces. For the black background pieces, I aligned the centre of the triangle template along a straight edge of the fabric, then moved it 1/4 inch away from the edge and cut along the template, including the extra 1/4 inch. I made 8 of these and sewed one on each end of the red pieces. (Sorry, I neglected to take pictures). Then I sewed one of these units along each side of the centre square. That gave me only the final seam as a Y-seam. Hmm, there was a lesson in the 2013 BOM that featured partial seams and I think I could have used that rather than a Y-seam if I remembered how to do it. But I didn't and I wanted to finish the block without taking the time to look it up. I survived one Y-seam. LOL!
So here, in honour of my father, is the Contrary Husband block:

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Adding to the Stash

I got a parcel in the mail both yesterday and today of fabric purchases from eBay, so thought I would share what I bought.
This first fabric will be in my grandson's John Deere quilt.
This bandana print in John Deere colours, will be the binding on the quilt.
Here's the backing fabric:
Remember I am making a block in honour of each member of my family? The next few fabrics will be used in my father's block.
Dad was in the air force during World War II and always had a love for airplanes.
When I saw this tool fabric, I knew it had to be included in Dad's block.
When we were young, our vacations were always camping: tents and tent trailers. After all of us children were on our own, my parents went through a series of holiday trailers and RVs.
The next couple of fabrics will be used in my brother's block.
Bill had a husky that he adopted while living in the North West Territories. He had Tuk (named for Tuktoyaktuk, where Bill lived for a year) for quite a few years and grieved greatly when he was gone. I will fussy cut and applique the husky from this fabric.
My brother was a volunteer fireman, as is his son, so I will choose one of these images to applique to Bill's block.
The next fabric is for my oldest sister Therese's block.
Basil. Therese loves gardening, especially her herb garden. She once said to me, "I don't know how anyone can smell basil and not believe in God." I was searching for the perfect herb fabric to be included in her block and found this one.
The next fabric is the backing fabric for the quilt I intend to make for my youngest sister's 50th birthday next year. That's Cindy, the one that lives in Nova Scotia and loves the ocean.

Finally, I found this, a quilted book panel of Jesus' birth, that I will make up for my grandson's Christmas present.
Now, totally off the topic of quilting and fabric, I found some non-GMO tofu in my local grocery store.
Yippee! That means I don't have to drive to the city to find it.
Happy quilting and cooking!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Look What I Found!

 Do you know what this is?
 It's a cheese box/barrel.
Or at least it was... With a little help from Mystery and Tinker (Tinker left before I could get the camera),
it's now a storage bin...
for fabric,
or for yarn,
or even for toilet paper. LOL!
I bought it at Rocky Mountain Antique Mall. When I was growing up, we had one of these around the house. My mother had covered it in flowered MacTac and I believe it served as a toy box for my youngest sister, for at least part of its lifespan. So I felt sentimental about this cheese box when I saw it. It didn't help any that someone was trying out an accordion at the Antique Mall, which also made me think of my mother, since she could play the accordion. I try not to get too sentimental about things that aren't useful. Like nicknacks. But as you can see, this cheese box can be very useful. And it only cost $15.
Here's another find, this one from a thrift store,  for $2.99:
I bought it before I bought my over-the-door ironing board, but I hadn't covered it yet. This one I can set up nearer to where I'm sewing, negating the need to get up and down every time I need to iron a seam. It also negates the need to close the door to iron, which will make the cats very happy. They are not amused when I shut the door while sewing.
Today's finished projects, using two different quilted fabrics I had in my stash. Unfortunately, there was not enough of one to do both projects.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Corrie ten Boom

I wanted to write another devotional. I was mulling some ideas around in my mind. But then my niece came over for a visit and I didn't have the time or opportunity to get any of those ideas down on my blog. So I decided to share this instead.
Recently my youngest sister (Cindy, in whose honour I completed the Cynthia Ann Dancing block) posted a link on facebook to a virtual tour of the ten Boom house in Holland. Here's the link if you're interested: Tour the ten Boom House. We also discussed Corrie ten Boom on Skype and what an inspiration her life has been to both of us. If you're not familiar with her, perhaps you'd better start by watching The Hiding Place, the movie based on her experiences during World War II, when she and her family hid Jews, and ended up in a concentration camp for their efforts. Watch it and be blessed, it's well worth the time. Please don't be scared off by the rather grim picture that shows up here. It's not part of the movie and I don't know why they put it here.
I remember seeing a film of Miss ten Boom. She was working on a needlepoint while she was talking and she showed the back of the needlepoint and said something like, "This is how we see our lives." It was a indecipherable mess of tangled threads with no discernable pattern. Then she said that God sees us from above and she flipped the needlepoint over to reveal a beautiful piece that said, "Jesus is Victor."  I'm not telling it very well, but it made a profound impression on me. Here's another blog about this: iLife Journey, which includes a beautiful poem called, "Trusting the Weaver."
God bless.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Shopping or Quilting?

I was engaging in a little retail therapy today. It started with taking my Janome Memory Craft 6000 into Johnson's Sewing Centre/Quilter's Dream. The 6000 hasn't been used in quite a number of years and I figured I'd better have it serviced before I start using it again. Actually, both sewing machines and the serger had all been neglected while I got my life, my career and my education going the way I wanted them to (post divorce). I intend to take them in one at a time as I can't afford to get them all serviced at one. Nor do I wish to do without at least one machine. So I can still sew while one is in the shop. I'm planning on making the 6000 the machine on which I will do my quilting as it has a decent cabinet. The 8000 just sits on a desk. My dream is to get a Sylvia Design corner unit cabinet. They're found at this link: Sewing Machine Cabinets. The model I'm wishing for is the 1810Q. Quilter's Dream also sells them. They're pretty awesome, in my opinion. Here's what I picked up at Quilter's Dream today:
They were having a buy 3, get one free, on thread. Could be any thread, mix or match, and they have lots of it because they sell embroidery machines, so carry lots of options for embroiderers, not just quilters. The orange-y thread is Sulky 30 wt. long staple cotton. The greenish spool is King Tut 40 wt.
I enrolled in a "Learn to Machine Quilt" class on Annie's Crafts. I intend to take the plunge soon and try free motion quilting. In my previous quilting life, I only used stitch-in-the-ditch and straight lines. While at Quilters Dream, I bought some supplies: quilting gloves, a teflon mat and a couple of metres of fabric for doing a machine quilting sampler. Just love those batiks. The course actually recommended a solid fabric and all the same fabric, but these batiks were on sale!  And why not have the back different from the front? I also picked up some fusible basting for batting. I thought that sounded like a great idea. Finally, a couple of patterns for placemats, one includes a runner. I figure I can practice my new FMQ skills on these before I tackle one of my quilts. But I have to actually finish a quilt top first. :-)
While in Quilter's Dream, I also met a new quilting buddy. She's probably about 20 years older than me, but we just got to talking in the store and found a "common thread." She said she will be moving to the island soon (around here that means Vancouver Island, which has about the most mild climate in Canada) and doesn't know anyone there, plus a lot of her friends her age have passed away, so asked if I would be an email pal. So we exchanged email addresses. Her name is Gloria and I'm looking forward to getting to know her better via email and sharing our quilts and our lives. 
After Quilter's Dream I went to look for a new pair of glasses. I had received a coupon for 50% off plus a free pair of Kardashian sunglasses from Sears Optical. I normally buy my glasses locally, but this sounded like a deal I needed to check out. And since I was going to the city anyway, I decided to find a Sears Optical outlet and explore. I decided to go to the one at Southgate Shopping Centre since it's been a long time since I'd been there. It will probably be a much longer time before I go there again. It's probably the second busiest Mall in Edmonton, second only to West Edmonton Mall. Yes, you know that world famous huge mega-mall, which is always busy. And I very seldom go there either. Maybe once every 4 or 5 years. I don't remember Southgate being so busy. Maybe it's because school's out. I had to park 3 miles from the door. Yes, I"m exaggerating, but only slightly. LOL. I had lunch in the food court and could hardly hear myself think. Sears was quite peaceful, however, for which I am thankful. I do NOT like crowds. Or noise. And I was the only customer in the optical outlet for most of the time I was there. When I got there, I was informed that they were having a 2 for 1 sale, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to do that or my coupon. Surprisingly enough I found 2 frames that I really liked quite quickly. I say surprisingly because I can take hours sometimes. It can be time consuming switching back and forth between my glasses and the new ones I want to try, having to practically stick my nose on the mirror so that I can actually see what I look like with the new ones on. Then switching back and forth between different new ones to make the best decision. So, as I said, I found 2 I really liked quite quickly. But I had prayed about it, too. God knew that I didn't want to waste a whole lot of time trying on glasses. Then the Kardashian sunglasses - we -the salesperson and I, that is - found a pair that I liked right off. Well, what good are those sunglasses when I can't see with them on? I never wear contacts. So, I opted to have prescription sunglasses put in those frames. Now I'll have two pairs of clear lenses, plus one pair of prescription sunglasses, all for around the same price as what I normally pay for one pair plus clip-ons or fitovers. And I still have my fitovers. I'm hoping they will fit over the new glasses as well. Unfortunately, I did not find any green frames. That's what I've really been wanting. My office glasses have a purple frame and I had a previous pair in purple. Now I wanted to do green, but twas not to be. I'll have to take a picture of the new ones when I get them. That will be easier than describing them. 
I really do enjoy shopping. But do I enjoy shopping more than quilting? Tough choice. What do you think?
Hmm, worst part about today was all the construction! We have a standing joke in Alberta: there are only two seasons in Alberta - winter and construction. Just about every major street/highway I was on today had construction going on. The Anthony Henday was terrible - slowed down to about 10km/hr at times. I skipped the worst part of the Henday on the way home by going through Sherwood Park, only to find constuction blocking my way there as well. Oh well, I'm home safe and have my new purchases to be excited about.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Cynthia Ann Dancing

My youngest sister's name is Cindy, short for Cynthia Dianne (though I don't recall if there's one "n" or two in Dianne). So when I found this quilt block called "Cynthia Ann Dancing," I knew it was the one I would use in her honour as one of my sisters blocks. 
Cindy's favourite colour used to be blue, but when I emailed my sisters for their colour choices for this project, she said that she now liked the deep jewel tones and fire engine red. Good thing I checked. As you can see, it made for an interesting colour combination. If I weren't doing this block in her honour, I don't think I would have included the red. I would have picked another jewel tone to give it a more homogeneous look. The cool thing about this block is that if you were to make a whole quilt of it, without using any sashing, you would end up with stars in both colour combinations. 
There were two major challenges in completing this block. The first is that it is a 5-patch design and I am making 12 inch blocks. A 5-patch works well for a 10, 15 or 20 inch block, but it gets a little complicated when making it into a 12 inch block. The second is that it's got a lot of crazy angles. Not 30 degrees, not 60, not even the Lazy Angle. There are a few 45 degree angles in this block, but most of them are just "unique." 
So, how did I make a 5-patch design into a 12 inch block? Well, I have two tools I can use. The first is an older 12 inch ruler that is actually divided into tenths of inches. I didn't really end up using that because I was able to buy the second tool: 10 to the inch graph paper. That's what I used to draft the design. If you look at the block, it's actually composed of 4 equal squares, so I only drafted one square.

The unfortunate thing is that my design was then in tenths, so it got kind of complicated when I started adding 1/4" seams. You can end up with some pretty bizarre measurements, the markings for which are not found on the standard quilting ruler. That, combined with the crazy angles in this block prompted me to make templates. 

In this picture, you can see my drafting ruler with the blue markings. (Sorry, neither it, nor my templates show up very well against the cutting mat).  I got it at WalMart for a few dollars. The nice thing about this ruler is that it has markings in sixteenths of an inch, so you can use it for greater precision. It is a drafting ruler, though. It is not for cutting.
This design probably would have worked well with paper piecing, but I have no knowledge or experience with paper piecing. So, for me, templates were the way to go. If I were to do a whole quilt in this pattern, I would no doubt decide I needed to learn paper piecing because tracing out all those pieces would get rather tedious. 
If you look at the block, you will see that there are actually only two different triangles that make up the whole block, so only two templates are required. If you had drafted the block like I did, and used the transparent template plastic, you could just trace the pattern onto the plastic. But I will tell you how to create the templates without having to draft the block first. Each triangle has one 45 degree angle, so that is our starting point. Here is a diagram I drew for reference:

For template A, use your quilting ruler to draw a 45 degree angle. Make each arm of the angle 5-9/16 inches long. Connect the ends of the arms to make the base of the triangle, which should measure 4-5/16". 
For template B, once again use your quilting ruler to draw a 45 degree angle. Make the one arm 7-7/8" long. The third side of this triangle comes out at exactly 6", so I used this measurement next. I took my ruler and measured from the left end of the 7-7/8" line and drew a line to where it intersected with the other arm of the 45 degree angle at exactly 6 inches. The 3-3/8" is not as precise a measurement as the 6 inches, so that's why I opted to use the 6 inches instead.
Cut out your templates. Using template A, cut eight pieces from background fabric.
Mark template B so that you can tell the difference between the right and wrong sides. Using this template, cut out 4 pieces each of two different fabrics with the template ride side up. 
I just laid the two fabrics on top of each other so that I could cut both at once. Remember that you can not fold the fabrics and both fabrics must be facing right side up. 
Flip the template so that it's wrong side up and cut 4 pieces each of the remaining two fabrics. 
Arrange all of your pieces into order:
In the following picture, you can see that I have separated the block into the four squares.
 The top right square is divided in half diagonally. This is how we are going to sew this block. Sew two template B pieces on either side of a template A background piece to form a half-square triangle unit. Do this for the other HST unit. Then sew the two HST units together to form a square. Do this with all four squares. Square them up to 6-1/2". 

Sew the top two squares together. Sew the bottom 2 squares together. Then sew the two pairs together. Square it up to 12-1/2".
I think I need to work on my photography skills so that my blocks look square instead of trapezoidal. Something about the angle of the camera or something...

Saturday, 13 July 2013


Here are a couple of the blocks I've completed this year:

On the left is Lena's Choice and on the right is the Wonky 5-sided Log Cabin. In neither of these blocks did I use any background fabric and I rather wish I had. In my opinion, they are both too busy. There is not really any place for the eye to rest. 
These blocks are kind of like how our lives can be, especially here in North America: too busy, with not enough opportunity for rest. And I'm talking about more than just physical rest. As they taught us in nursing school, humans are bio-psycho-socio-spiritual beings, so we need rest in every aspect of our being. 
Nursing can be challenging in every sphere. And while Home Care is definitely not as physically demanding as hospital nursing, it still can be very draining mentally, emotionally and spiritually. At the end of my work day, I am all "peopled out," as I like to say, and it is generally not with reluctance that I arrive home to my two cats and no people to make demands on me. I don't make or accept too many social invitations because it is important for me to have my "down time." 
Jesus Himself told His disciples, "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while." Mark 6:31. I just want to point out that the word "desert" does not necessarily mean a place like the Mojave or the Sahara. It also has the connotation of "solitary." Bascially, get away from the crowd, the hustle and bustle and spend time with Jesus. This is what we need to do to rejuvenate and restore us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, as well as physically. 
 In Home Care, we have a service called respite. We can either provide it in the home for a few hours a week or in a seniors living facility for up to 3 weeks at a time. This allows the main caregiver for the client, usually a spouse or child, to run errands, buy groceries or just take a well-earned break. It helps to avoid caregiver burnout. Yet some family members are reluctant to accept this service, feeling that they are somehow failing their loved one if they are not on call 24-7. We in Home Care can not force our help on anyone. Sometimes, we have to just let them "crash and burn," as we say. But we'd rather avoid that if possible.
We should never allow ourselves to think that the work we are doing is so important that we can't take time for rest. Jesus' disciples had just returned from their first missionary journey, during which they had been preaching the gospel, and doing all manner of good works: healing and so forth. People were still crowding around them and Jesus, still in need of healing and the gospel. What could be more important than that? Yet Jesus told them that they needed to take time out for rest.
And so do we. As a matter of fact, God recognizes our need for rest as so important that he actually included it in the 10 Commandments. He said, "Remember the Sabbath day," that we are to work 6 days and rest on the seventh (See Exodus 20:8-11). We can not possibly hope to be everything God wants us to be or accomplish all He wants us to accomplish if we don't make time for rest - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. 
And that includes letting go of burdens. For many of us, especially those of us in the care-giving professions, it is our nature to nurture, to accept responsibility, to bear burdens. We need to recognize that there are times when we need to say no and only accept the responsibilities that God has placed on our shoulders. And even the burdens that we must bear, we don't need to bear them alone. Jesus says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30. Rest for our souls - I believe that's what we all need. But we can only find it in Jesus.
Here I am, enjoying some rest at our local park.

The playground and main picnic area are far enough away from the trout pond that I can enjoy some solitary peace.

So, yeah, I didn't make it to campmeeting, but I'm going to enjoy my "stay-cation" anyway and maybe get some quilting done, in addition to some other exciting things...