Saturday 7 October 2023

Don't Choose Joy

One of my favourite parts of the book of Ruth in the Bible is when Naomi returns to the land of Israel, impoverished, having lost her husband and both sons, with only Ruth, one of her daughters-in-law as companion. Upon arriving back in Bethlehem, the residents questioned, “Can this be Naomi?” Naomi responds, “Don’t call me Naomi (which means pleasant). Call me Mara (which means bitter), for the Almighty has made my life bitter!” (Ruth 1). She is figuratively, if not literally, shaking her fist at God and blaming Him for the calamities that she has experienced. There’s no record that God condemns her anger, and if you finish the story (it’s only 4 short chapters), you’ll find that God blesses her and she, of course, does not stay angry. I find this story encouraging because it reminds me that God understands my sorrow, grief, anger and pain, that He does not judge me for expressing those feelings. He does not expect me to “just get over it”. He does not call for me to “choose joy” in the midst of my grief.
Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3), so it’s not a sin to feel the depths of my sorrow and pain and express them.
Jesus wept (John 11:35), so I can go ahead and cry my heart out and sob with gut-wrenching, soul-crushing sobs.
I can scream and shake my fist at God, if I need to. His shoulders are broad enough to take it. He is not put off by my anger. He knows and understands. And in order to experience full healing, He knows I need to allow myself to go through the grieving process. Therefore, He does not call me to “choose joy” in my time of sorrow. 
The Bible says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b. The long night of grief and pain may seem to last forever, but just as the day dawns gradually, so, too, our grief will lift, our pain will heal – gradually. We don’t have to choose joy. It will come – in small bursts, as the healing comes, and as it gradually dawns towards fullness of joy in the resurrection morning

Saturday 19 August 2023


 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9

As usual, my fair entries bought some surprises - both good and not so good. This tree skirt, for example, which for me was pretty simple and straightforward, and not a whole lot of work, comparatively speaking, won first place. And I'm not even sure I like it.

And it was displayed at the fair with the backing side up, so you couldn't even see the quilting, which to me was the "main attraction". Yes, it has pretty backing fabric, but it's a whole cloth quilt, so it's about the quilting... And because I quilted it using a simple broadcloth on the back and then stitched on the actual backing fabric using the envelope method (stitch the edges of the quilt top and backing right sides together, leaving an opening to turn it right side out), you can't even see the quilting on the back! 😁
Then there was the Christmas Spice Blend table runner (I'll blog more about this with pattern info later). 
Rather tricky piecing, and I was sure it would win a first place, but it only won a second. The first place ribbon went to something in black, made with a panel. 
Because you're not supposed to touch the exhibits, and it was folded, I couldn't look at all of the details of the first place winner, but the only thing I noticed which might have surpassed mine was snowflakes quilted in the corners, which were too precise to be anything but computerized. If computerized quilting trumps complicated piecing, I might as well throw in the towel now... Admittedly, there might have been other details, like the fact that I machine stitched the opening closed, rather than hand stitch, so the stitches were visible - this was another envelope method project. But, personally, I hardly think that justified a panel project winning a first over mine. Nevertheless, it did win a first in the other fair in which I entered it. 
And then there was The Study of Geometry. 
I entered it in one fair last year, where it placed 2nd and a different fair this year, where it placed 3rd. And I thought it should be a first place winner. But this humble dishcloth (the pink and green one in the centre) won first place in both fairs in which it was entered. 
We all have surprises in our lives, both good and bad, many of which are far more significant than winning a ribbon in a local fair. The most important are what happens when life on this planet as we know it is over. As the Bible verse at the beginning of this post says, we can't even begin to imagine the things that God has prepared for us. It will be so amazing.
There are many misconceptions about eternity. Floating around on a cloud, playing a harp... No, that's not how God wants us to spend forever. Others think that it will just be an eternal continuation of life on this earth. I don't know about you, but I really don't want to spend eternity in the same kind of life we have here. Bars serving alcohol will not be there. Movies portraying crime and immorality will not be there. Revelation 21:27 says, "But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life." NKJV. Life will be perfect: no crime, no death, no sorrow. Only perfect peace and happiness forever. But note what that verse says: only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will enter there. How do we get our names written in the Lamb's Book of Life? Only those who have surrendered their hearts to Jesus and live their lives for Him will have their names written in the Book of Life. Jesus said, " I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." (John 10:9 KJV). 'Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." ' (John 14:6 NKJV). Acts 4:12 says, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Only through Jesus can we have eternal life!
To find out more about having a relationship with Jesus and receiving eternal life, follow these links: 
The Experience of Salvation
Saved From Certain Death
To find out more about heaven, the new earth and eternity, follow these links:
The New Earth
I put in a lot of work to produce my entries for the fairs and mostly was quite pleased with the results. But my quality of life would not be altered significantly if I had missed out on receiving those ribbons. But missing out on eternity is not a concept I even want to contemplate. 

Saturday 12 August 2023

Unfinished Projects

 "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." 
Philippians 1:6 NKJV

Unfinished Place Mat
It's fair season and I've been working like a machine, trying to get projects completed in time to enter in the fairs. There's the local fair in the town I live in, plus a couple of other fairs in nearby smaller communities. Three fairs, and because the one in town, which is a 5-day fair, overlaps the other two., which are one day fairs, anything I entered in the one in town could not be entered in either of the other two. And while I had quite a few projects finished, and while many of the entries in the smaller two fairs could be duplicates, there were still classes for which I wanted to make projects. And so I was making, and making. And I got down to the wire for making projects for the final fair and I just couldn't do it. Insomnia is a serious problem for me and while I sometimes do end up working on projects in the middle of the night because I'm wide awake anyway, I don't want to plan to do it deliberately. So I gave myself permission to not enter every class that I wanted to. As it was, I had 19 entries in the fair in town, and 18 each in the other two. 
And I have some unfinished projects left over. In addition to the above place mats (a set of four), I began an applique pillow cover and a wall hanging, with plans to also make a tree skirt. But I have a lot more unfinished projects than that. We call them UFOs in the crafting world, which stands for unfinished objects. Also WIPs for works in progress (I loosely define the difference by whether or not I've worked on the project in the last year. If I have, then it's a WIP. If I haven't it's a UFO). I do plan to finish them all eventually, if the Lord tarries, and I live long enough. I don't like unfinished projects. But I also get bored/distracted easily and move onto something new. It's a fault, I know (though recently my daughter and I were discussing our and my grandson's symptoms of ADHD/ADD, so that could be the issue). So, it takes self-discipline to see a project through to the end. And though I'm generally quite pleased with the final results and happy to have a project finished, it's getting there that is the challenge.
We are all works in progress. In the pressure cooker of life, God is working on developing our character, if we allow Him to, and making us better people, more like Him. But, unlike me, God doesn't get bored or distracted. As long as we cooperate by surrendering to Him, we will never become unfinished objects, neglected in a dusty corner somewhere. And like some of my projects that involve meticulous, painstaking work, there may sometimes appear to be little progress in our lives. But some tasks require more time and patience. And, as the opening Bible verse states,  "
He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." That's a promise! He will continue to work in our lives, as long as we allow Him to, so that we will be ready to meet Him when Jesus comes again!

Friday 28 July 2023

41 Country Quilting Projects: Geese and Tulips Pillow


I have seen this book in thrift stores several times.
Now that I've completed a number of the 50 projects, I'm beginning to understand why. Yes, I know lots of quilting books end up in thrift stores. I know because I've bought lots of them there. But it's not often I see the same one multiple times. And it could be because it's just not a really great book. I question whether or not anyone ever tested the patterns. Ideally, a pattern should be tested by someone who is not the designer, to determine that the instructions are clear and adequate to actually produce the end product. Someone needs to "follow the recipe" to make sure they can actually make the "soup". 😊 Otherwise, you end up with a book like this one, where the measurements are not always correct, supplies are missing from the supply list and steps in the assembly are missing altogether. I can't imagine being a novice quilter tackling some of the projects in this book, hoping to be successful, even some of the ones rated as "Easy".
This pillow was one that was rated easy. It definitely was not. Some of the instructions are rather silly: to make Template A, draw a 7" square and cut in half diagonally. Why not just cut out the 7" squares of fabric and cut them in half? Why would I need a template for that? Or "When ready to appliqué, remove paper before fusing pieces to background fabric." I appreciate that some people might not be aware of this necessity, but considering the fact there are really no detailed instructions for the appliqué, it's rather ironic that they would include this. Nowhere in the supply list is there any mention of embroidery floss or instructions on how else one would get the flower stems and eyes into the picture.
Fortunately, I have rudimentary embroidery skills and recently, when I was searching for an apron pattern, I came across my embroidery supplies. And since I've never done a French knot, I also had beads available that worked for the eyes. 
Finally, after attaching two double-sided ruffles, I had to struggle with all of that bulk to get the back of the pillow attached with a ¼" seam. That was about as much fun as sewing the stuffed biscuits together when making the Rainbow Biscuit Quilt
In spite of all that, I love this pillow. In the book, it's done in blues and white, which I normally love, but it just didn't do it for me. The geese and tulips looked cartoonish and I considered appliqéing something different on this pillow. Remember, my goal is to complete every project in this book. And I decided to go ahead with the geese. And, while they are rather odd looking, the fabric, the colours - whatever it is - it just "sings" to me. 
If you happen to have or see this book, you will notice that my appliqué is reversed. Rather than trace the design onto paper or directly onto the fabric as the instructions suggest (another weird idea), I chose to trace it directly from the book onto the fusible web. And since the fusible web goes onto the back of the fabric, the design was reversed. 
Do I intend to continue with my goal of completing every project in this book, in spite of the book's shortcomings? Yes, actually, I do. I like a challenge. And I believe I figured out the project count in this book. Under one title, there may be more than one project. So, for example, under "Mini Patchwork Ornaments", there are 3 different ornaments, each considered a project. With this pillow, I have then completed 9 projects, and hence my countdown now states 41 as that is how many I have left to complete. 

A Couple of Fabric Panel Projects

As I mentioned in a previous post, Fair season is almost upon us. This year, I plan to actually keep my Fair Exhibit Hall/Bench Show books, so I can refer to them throughout the year and plan my projects accordingly. That way, I won't be left madly scrambling at the last minute trying to get projects finishes so that I can enter them. We'll see how that works out...
One of the classes in the Sewing Section is Aprons. Somewhere in my stash is this lovely fabric.

It would be perfect for an apron. I didn't even buy it that long ago (the date on the picture is June 7). But can I find it now? Noooo!
There was, however, the pink John Deere apron panel.

But somehow, submitting an apron made from a panel to be judged in a fair bench show didn't seem right. But then I thought that if I had made the same style of apron from a pattern, there would be no more cutting or sewing involved than making it from a panel. The only difference would be in laying out and pinning the pattern. And since I ended up lining the apron, I did that as well by pinning the apron part of the panel to the lining fabric in order to cut it to size. 
Why did I line an apron? Well, in spite of being licensed fabric, it was really thin. I imagine one little splatter of whatever I was cooking would go right through it onto whatever I was wearing. That kind of defeats the purpose of an apron. Furthermore, not only were the finishing instructions for this apron inadequate, but not really what I wanted to do. The instructions say to finish all raw edges with serging or zigzag stitching, and then folding the edges under and topstitching. Even though that would be on the inside of the apron, I didn't consider that very functional or attractive. And trying to turn under those curved seams around the underarm would be rather challenging. Initially, my plan was to just finish the raw edges with bias tape, and I purchased an appropriate green to do so. But when I started handling the panel in preparation for cutting, I realized that it was just too flimsy. I was concerned that, once the straps were stitched in place, a good tug on a strip could rip the fabric. So, I pulled some fabric from my stash and cut out a lining. It finishes the edges much nicer than the instructions suggested. 
A couple more weird things about this panel: it doesn't say to cut the neck strap in half, but it would have been much too long otherwise (at least in my opinion); and the pocket linings were square whereas the pockets are rounded. So, this wasn't my favourite fabric panel.
Another class in the Bench Shows is for Christmas Stockings.
This panel was from Northcott. It had much better instructions and the fabric quality was better. The instructions said to use a piece of ribbon for hanging, but I chose to use a piece of the lining fabric and where I placed the hanging straps is different from where the instructions said (I don't remember where they suggested). I quilted them using the Cardinals pantograph from Urban Elementz.
Even though it's one of my smaller designs, it was still rather large for these stockings. I like to have larger designs because they work up quicker when quilting a quilt, but they don't work as well on a smaller project. Of course, you can't necessarily have the detail in a smaller design, but I may have to pick up a few just to use for quilting smaller projects. 
At least one Christmas in July project finished. 

10-Minute Block Tote Bag


Another UFO in the bag, pun intended. 
I don't remember what year I started this tote bag, but it began with a desire to try the 10-minute quilt block. Haven't heard of the 10-minute block? Neither had I, but you can find it on YouTube. 
I finished four 10-minute blocks, with the intention of making them into a tote bag, and that's as far as I got. Actually, I shouldn't say "finished" because I hadn't even stitched down the centre piece. 
I'm trying to get more of my UFOs finished. And having fair season rapidly approaching has been a good motivator. There is a class for tote bags in the bench show and I decided to drag out these blocks and see if I could finish this project. But first, I had to find the rest of the fabric. I seemed to recall using some of it for something, but couldn't remember what. And surely, I didn't use all of it... But there wasn't any other fabrics with the blocks. Finally, thank the Lord, I found the fat quarter bundle, and then I just had to decide what fabric to use where.
All along, I had planned on putting this saying on the reverse side of the tote bag. My fabric choice for the letters was probably not the best because it makes the words less distinct. But it's still legible.
I quilted it using the Cable & Feather pantograph from Golden Threads. I purchased it at my Handi Quilter vendor when they were trying to clear out their pantographs. I don't know if Golden Threads even exists any more. I couldn't find them when I googled, so I can't share a link to the pantograph. 
I'm happy to have this project off the UFO list. It's ready for the fair and after that, it will be my shopping bag for when I visit the fabric stores.

4? Country Quilting Projects: Rainbow Biscuit Quilt

The book: 50 Country Quilting Projects by Margit Echols, 1990

The project: Afghan Quilt, pp 236 & following
The first comment I want to make is about the name of this quilt: Afghan Quilt??? Either it's an afghan or a quilt, but not both. In this case, it's fabric with batting (or stuffing, in this case) and backing, so it must be a quilt. I'm not sure if the designer called it that because it's about the size of an afghan (though afghans can actually be any size) or because the layout of the blocks reminded her of an afghan. Either way, I consider it a rather silly name for a quilt and I prefer a more imaginative name, like Rosy Sunrise or Pink Lemonade, since the quilt in the book is done in shades of pink. Or, since it's laid out similar to a Trip Around the World quilt, how about Biscuits Around the World? Wait a minute, that gives me an idea. Since there are over 200 biscuits in this quilt and about 200 countries in the world, I could do an individual biscuit to represent each country in the world. <sigh> So many ideas, so little time...
My real concern about this quilt pattern, however, is not the name, but the inaccuracies in the fabric requirements. The quilt in the book uses 5 different fabrics, not 6 like mine, but that isn't the issue. The squares for the biscuits are 4". Allowing for selvages, you can count on 10 squares per width of fabric strip. The pattern calls for 3/8 yard of fabrics B, C, & D. Three eighths of a yard equals 13.5". Fabric B is fine at 3/8 yard, requiring only 20 squares or 2 strips. Fabric C, however, calls for 28 squares, which would require 3 strips or 12". That's cutting it pretty close to the 13.5" in 3/8 yard, especially if you have to allow for uneven cuts. I prefer a bit more margin for error than that. But 3/8 yard is definitely not enough for fabric D, which requires 36 squares or 4 strips, 16 inches. And with fabric E, the pattern only calls for 1-1/4 yards, or 45", which is really cutting it close to the 44" required for the 11 strips. If it weren't for the fact that I live in Canada where we use the metric system and I had to do some conversion before purchasing this fabric, I might not have caught these errors and I wouldn't have been very happy. In case you have this book and would like to make this quilt, here is what I purchased in metres:
Fabric A - blue - 0.6 m (In the pattern, fabric A is also used where I have the red squares as well as for the backing. The requirements in the pattern, 3-1/4 yards, should be sufficient for this).
Fabric B - orange - 0.3 m
Fabric C - yellow - 0.4 m
Fabric D - green - 0.5 m
Fabric E - purple - 1.2 m
Fabric F - red - 0.3 m
Calculating for just straight squares is pretty simple, so I'm at a loss to understand the reason for the errors in fabric requirements. I certainly hope that this is not an issue throughout this book as I've already purchased the fabric for the Iris Medallion quilt, which I plan to make for my oldest sister.
Back to this biscuit quilt - I just called it the Rainbow Biscuit quilt - as I mentioned, the one in the book is done in shades of pink, and has lace edging and ribbon ties. Mine is for one of my great nephews, so pink, ribbons and lace wouldn't have been appropriate. 
My original plan was to make this quilt for Canada's Sesquicentennial  As I was perusing the book,300 Years of Canada's Quilts,  I found this statement, " Anna Strum of Mador's Cove, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia made an elaborate and beautiful quilt for her only son in 1874. Of German descent with a strong heritage of featherbeds and down quilts, Mrs. Strumm made what is now called a 'biscuit' quilt. Each little 'puff' is filled with uncarded wool..." (p. 52). This quilt can still be found in the Desbrisay Museum in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Unlike the book, however, the museum exhibit states that the quilt was made in 1877 of many types of fabrics stuffed with cotton, and contains 945 squares. (I was able to find this information online before the museum changed their website). Personally, I lean more towards what the book states: sheep can be raised in Canada, but not cotton. And since Canada had not yet developed a textile industry, I question whether "cotton stuffing" would be readily available to make this quilt. An interesting connection, Bridgwater is only 25 minutes from Lunenburg, where the Bluenose II is located, the schooner featured in my pixel quilt.
So, the biscuit quilt was in existence around the time of confederation and at least one was made in Canada not too many years after confederation. 
(For some interesting background on the history of the biscuit quilt, see Those Peculiar Biscuit and Puff Quilts). 
My plans don't always turn out the way I planned them and this quilt never got finished until this year. It's actually incredibly tedious making all of those biscuits. But the most frustrating part is stitching them together. The instructioins in the book say to complete each biscuit individually and then stitch them together in rows and then stitch the rows together. It was really a struggle trying to get all of that bulk under the presser foot on the sewing machine in order to stitch them together. I just got quite frustrated with that process. 
When I finally got back to this quilt this year, I continued to do what the book said until finally I got the brilliant idea to stitch a row of unstuffed biscuits together and then stuff all of them and stitch the whole row closed at once. Yes, it was much easier that way. But still I struggled to get those bulky rows together. And sometime during the process of trying to push all that stuffing togehter and force it under the presser foot, I managed to get my finger too close to the needle and did something that I don't think I have ever done before in my 46 or so years of sewing: I hit my finger with the needle. 
Thank the Lord, it wasn't too serious. It didn't hurt that much, but bled a fair amount. I poured hydrogen peroxide on it and then applied a bandaid. I still can't figure out exactly what happened. The needle must have hit my finger nail and then entered the skin beside the nail. But it went in more parallel than perpendicular. I'm sure my guardian angel was doing his job. Since this project, the lowest thread guide on my sewing machine - the last one before threading the needle - has been bent. I have no idea how that happened or if it's in any way connected to my injury. I'm not rough with my sewing machine, so I really have no explanation for it. 
My next brainstorm for completing this quilt was to stitch the whole row of unstuffed biscuits to the previous - already stuffed - row. That way, I was only dealing with the bulk of one row of stuffed biscuits, not two. That worked much better as well. My final brainstorm didn't happen until I was going to put the binding on, but that was after I came up with a couple of not-so-brilliant ideas. 
The instructions in the book said to put the quilt top and the backing right sides together and stitch them together, leaving an opening to turn. Then turn it right side out, stitch the opening closed and sew a bar tack over a ribbon in multiple biscuit intersections, but not all of them. As I mentioned, this quilt is going to a great nephew, so I didn't want ribbons. I also didn't want to tie the quilt. My experience with tied quilts is that the knots work themselves loose with wear and laundering and I'd have to go back and re-tie or replace them. I also don't think they look as nice. And I wanted quilting around every biscuit, not just a bar tack at certain places. So, I decided to mount it on the longarm and stitch between all of the biscuits. And to compound my foolishness, I also decided to add a layer of polyester fibrefil batting... All of that bulk really became quite unmanageable and my quilting between the rows tended to go in whatever direction the biscuits pushed it. Definitely not nice straight rows. Nevertheless, I got it done. But now, because I chose to quilt it on the longarm, I also had to bind it, something I wouldn't have had to do if I'd followed the method in the book. And I had added to already incredibly bulky quilt by including batting...That's when my final brainstorm came in. I decided to use the Brother sewing machine. Its ¼" foot is narrower on the left side than the one on my Janome. That meant the bulk didn't have as much presser foot to fit under. Even so, I nearly ended up crying - and considered burning the quilt - while fighting to get the binding on. 
Thank God, it's finished. There are a few more biscuit projects in this book, but they are all smaller projects and I at least learned a few tricks to make the going easier while constructing this quilt. 
Here's the fun backing fabric I chose for this project. 
And I lost track of my countdown of projects I've completed in this book, as seen in the title of this post. I haven't quite figured out how the author counts 50 projects, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

Thursday 22 June 2023

Kimono Rose

There are some advantages to writing a blog, even if I don't post often or regularly. By searching in my blog posts, I was able to determine that I bought the Asian Influences e-book, from which I got this pattern, some time in 2014, and that I purchased a large part of the fabrics used in this quilt top at the Creative Stitches/Crafting Alive show in Edmonton that same year. I was also able to find out that I was working on the quilt in 2016, but wasn't able to finish it in time for that year's fairs. Or any fair since then. But it's finished now and I should be able to enter it in this years' fairs and then send it off to the recipient (my brother's widow). 
If you're interested in the pattern, you don't have to buy the book, like I did. There's actually a free e-book available now that contains this pattern. I think I need to explore more of the freebies available on Quilting Daily. Not that I really need any more patterns, but just in case... 
Because I started this quilt so long ago, I don't remember much of the process. I do recall having to rip a seam out because the blue lattice strips were not lining up properly. I also vaguely remember fussy cutting these cranes
so that they would fit nicely into the squares I was cutting. I'm thankful that none of the already fused and cut out applique pieces went missing during stage 2 of my craft studio renovations that prepared the space for my longarm  I actually took this out last year (or was it early this year?) and got a little more of the applique finished. But it lanquished some more until I determined to get it finished THIS YEAR! 
I also had to choose a quilting pantograph. Originally, I purchased Jessica's Ginkgo as an appropriate oriiental-themed design. 

Then I found Kyoto Fans and decided that it would coordinate much better with the theme of the quilt. 
However, it's a much denser, more intense design and now that I'm finished it, I really don't feel that it was the best design for this quilt top. Even on the backing, you can't really discern what the quilting is supposed to be. 
It looks like just a bunch of scribbling with my longarm. I think it's too dense a design for such a busy quilt top, and I should have probably gone with Jessica's Ginkgo. Nevertheless, it did meet with Mystery's approval. 
I'm happy to have another UFO finished. UFO no more!

Wednesday 21 June 2023

Winnings and Updates

Have you ever entered those contests on social media and wondered if anyone actually wins? Especially when no winner is announced after the contest ends. Or if they "win", do they really receive the prize? Well, several years ago, when Google+ was still a thing (I really liked Google+ and I'm sorry Google retired it), I won this thread collection. 

And yes, I actually received it! And have since put it to good use.
Then a few years back, on Instagram, I "won" a gift card from a quilt shop in California. I never heard from them after I supposedly won. And when I contacted the coordinator of the contest to ask her about it, I never heard from her again either. Very disappointing!
But this year, I've had a little more success in my online winnings. Probably because I was dealing with more reputable organizations. 
First there was an Alberta Quilt Shop, Crafty Creations Quilt Gallery, that ran a contest on Facebook asking for designs to use some fabric that they got into their store. The fabric looked like tweed, but was a quilting cotton, and it came in three different colours. The winner would receive 2 metres of the fabric. Because it looked like tweed, I chose the bowtie block to use in my quilt design and called it Tweed Suit and Bowtie. And I won! I chose to receive 2 metres of the grey fabric. 
I origally planned on making the bowtie quilt using fabric scraps from my stash. 
But then I thought about the book, The Secret Lives of Colour. 
One of the quilters I follow on Instagram participated in Pat Sloan's The Secret Lives of Color Quilt Along, where she made a churn dash quilt block in each colour in the book, 75 colours in all. And I thought that I could do that with the bowtie block. 
Top left: Fluorescent Pink; top right: Shocking Pink; middle right: Blonde; bottom left: Indian Yellow; bottom middle: Minium; bottom right: Avocado
Initially, I was just doing the blocks as I found the colours in my stash. But I found that jumping around in the book was just too disorganized, and it would make it difficult to keep track of which colours I had done and which I still needed to do. Instead, I chose to complete them in order, one section at a time. 
Left: Isabelline; middle top: Silver; top right: Lead White; middle centre: Whitewash; middle right: Beige; bottom middle: Ivory; bottom right: chalk
These are the blocks from the white section. 
Interestingly, the author of the book did not choose the same number of colours from each family. Or the prettiest or brightest. Rather, she chose "individual shades with particularly fascinating, important or disturbing histories." p. 11. I'm not going to share the histories of the various shades. That would be too exhausting. You'll just have to buy the book, if you're interested. Or borrow it from your library. 
I had hoped to use mostly fabric from my stash, but trying to match as closely as possible to the colours in the book is making that very challenging. So, I will be buying fabrics as I see fit. Most of the fabrics in the white section were purchased for this quilt. 
My goal is to make a quilt to fit a twin-sized bed, so I plan on making 96 blocks, not just the 75 colours in the book. I calculated that if I make 10 of each colour family, not including white and black, I will end up with 96 blocks including the 7 whites and the 9 blacks. That will give me the opportunity to include some of the prettier shades not included in the book (but often found in my stash). 
The next winning up is the Hobb's Batting prize that I won on Instagram. And yes, it's an awesome prize. 
Not only did I receive various types and sizes of batting, plus a couple of pillow forms, but a batting information card. 
That was definitely a prize worth winning. 
Finally, I receved this prize from Ladybug Threads, also on Instagram. 
A cone of Omni thread in a nice neutral colour, a journal, a poster that says, "Sewing Forever, Housework Whenever", a lens cloth and a retractable measuring tape. Another lovely prize. 
Now for quilting updates: it seems that lately I'm only able to finish small projects. I've started numerous quilts, but then I run out of steam and start a different one. There's always excitement in a new project, but then the endorphin rush rushes on and it's easy to lose motivation. I do have a couple of smaller quilt tops done that just need quilting. I still have to order the right colour of thread...
I did get a few blocks done on the Log Canada quilt for my middle sister. 
I got another block done on the Tales of Ireland quilt, but then set that aside as not a priority.
I tried my hand at Fair Isle crochet and got one pocket finished for the Poet Shawl. (still need to work in all the ends).
I designed and started a quilt in honour of the coronation of King Charles III. 
This is the King's Crown block, originally designed as a 6" block, I made it 24" and it will be the centre of the quilt.
Just look at the difference in size for the templates for a 6" block versus a 24" block. 
This is the Coronation Block. There will be a border of the gold fabric around the King's Crown block, surrounded by a square of 16 Coronation Blocks, and then I think a border of the purple fabric. I think the fabrics I chose are awesome and just as rich and opulent as the coronation itself. But also not a priority. 
I finished a commission quilt, Face Off, which I will blog about later. 
Finally, as I realized that fair season is getting closer, I decided I'd better get some projects finished so that I have some articles to enter. I pulled out the Kimono Rose quilt, finished the applique and the piecing and it is currently on my longarm.
Another UFO on its way to being finished. 
When thunderstorms in the forecast prevented me from working on the longarm, I pulled out the biscuit quilt and determined to finish that as well. 
I think I only had 3 rows finished. I'm now up to 10 out of a total of 19. It's tedious and challenging to stitch the rows together, trying to push that bulk under the presser foot. But I am determined to finish it.
I've got a few other UFOs that I'm hoping to finish in time to enter in the local fairs, plus a few that will be start to finish. We'll see how much I can accomplish. The bowtie quilt may or may not be a fair entry. As it's for me, it's not a huge priority. And finding all of the colours is somewhat of a scavenger hunt. 

Hanging Kitchen Towel Dress

 When I was looking for a tutorial on making a hanging hand towel, I found several for making one to look like a little girl's dress. I thought they were adorable and saved several of the videos to one of my YouTube playlists, intending to try making one later. 
This is probably my favourite of the several videos I referred to. 

But after reviewing several, I found that there were different options and also some things that required clarification. Plus, I switched some things up. So, I decided to write this blog post to help anyone who would like to make one and show my process and options.
The first challenge that appeared was that I could not find the fabric requirements. I'll admit that I didn't watch every video all the way through, but one would think that it would either be near the beginning or listed in the description. Maybe I missed it, but I certainly didn't find it. So, here it is. If you plan on making this one without the optional ruffles on the bottom, then you need one fat quarter. 
That gives you enough fabric for the bodice and lining and 4 ties. If you plan on adding the ruffles, then a second fat quarter should be enough. 
These are the measurements given in the above video:
Bodice - body 6" wide across the bottom, 3" long from armpit to bottom
            - sleeves 2½" from fold to bottom, 1½" from armpit to end of sleeve
            - neckline 3" wide, 1½" deep
Ties 2" x 14" - cut 4
Ruffle - 6" x 24" - cut 2
          - 1½" x 20" - cut 2 pieces to cover seam where ruffle is attached to skirt (towel)
I chose to add ¼" to the bodice length as I wanted a half inch for the bottom seam allowance where the towel is attached. I also rounded off the underarms, as in the video. You can find my pattern here. Honestly, this is the first time I have created and shared a PDF file, so I make no promises or guarantees.This particular video does have a link to the author's pattern in the comments. 
She chose to use a vertical rather than a horizontal fold for her pattern.
My pattern has a round neckline, but I later decided to do a square one. It can depend on how you want to finish the neckline. Unfortunately, the first video above does not indicate how to do that. In another video, the square neckline was finished by folding in the seam allowances and topstitching. In another, a rounded neckline was finished with bias binding. I really didn't like either of those options and was hoping to figure out how to stitch it together from the inside, doing one side at a time. No, there really isn't room enough to do it that way. So, I opted to use one of the seldom-used decorative stitches on my sewing machine. I used a scallop stitch and trimmed off any fabric extending beyond the stitching and ended up with a pretty scalloped edge neckline. Using this option, you can probably make any shape of neckline you want. 
Regarding the ties, I chose to press them in half widthwise, then pressed in the ¼" seam along both sides and one end. It isn't necessary to do the other end as it will be inside the seam of the bodice. Topstitch along the side and end of each tie. 
This way, you don't have to fight to turn a long narrow strip sewed right sides together right side out again. Clip or pin in place ½" from the bottom of the side seams on the bodice before stitching the bodice. One of the videos uses velcro instead of the ties, but I think it looks prettier with the ties. 
I made this one for my youngest sister. It is necessary to put a seam in the ruffle if you want to make it as full as the indicated in the video. 
I included a coordinating hot pot holder. 
I also gifted her a couple of regular hanging hand towels - one Christmas and one Dad-themed (tools and buffalo plaid) because she said these towels reminded her of our mother since Mom usually had one hanging on the fridge or stove. You can find the video for these here.
And I did finally get around to putting the ruffle on the lemon kitchen towel dress. 

Lovely Lemons


Last year, you may recall, I made the Take Four placemats using a lemon-themed fat quarter bundle. Except that it had 5 fat quarters and so I made 5 placemats. For whatever reason, the lemon theme really appeals to me. Whether it's the bright, cheerful yellow, or what, I'm not sure. 
Then later in the year, I found a second lemon-themed fat quarter bundle, this one with black as the accent colour instead of blue, and purchased it as well and made a table runner. Other projects superceded that one, however, and I didn't get around to quilting it until this year when I bought another of the same fat quarter bundle to make a wallhanging. 
As I was working with fat quarters and not yardage, I wasn't sure what to do for a wallhanging. In a quilting group on Facebook, someone suggested the Fat Quarter Shop, and I ended up choosing the Cobblestone pattern. In addition to the 5-fat-quarter-bundle I had recently purchased, I was trying to use up leftovers from the previous projects, but still ended up having to buy some individual fat quarters. That's how I ended up with some fabrics from both fat quarter bundles in this project. I honestly am not really that happy with it. While it is bright and cheerful, the design just doesn't speak to me. However, one of my Facebook friends liked it well enough to offer to buy it, but when I quoted him a price, it didn't happen. No surprise there. Although I do think he wanted more green in it... I would have been rather happy to sell it: more money for my projects and I don't have to look at it any more. 
Meanwhile, I had decided to add more projects to my lemon collection: 
When looking for kitchen towels to use for projects in the dollar store, I found this one that actually had lemons on it. You can find the kitchen towel dress instructions here
Hot pot holders - I made the hourglass blocks and quilted them on the longaram along with the wallhanging and the table runner. Then I used some cotton yarn to crochet some hanging loops and stitched them in when I added the binding. 
I managed to find some brighter yellow cotton yarn and added this lemon slice dishcloth to my lemon collection. This is the Orange Slice pattern from A Year of Dishcloths by Maggie Weldon. If I use this pattern again, I will make the long white spike stitches looser because they tend to pull the dishcloth up into a bowl shape instead of lying flat. 
Of course, I have my lemon salt/pepper/cream/sugar set that I picked up at an antique mall that completes the ensemble. So, it's all very coordinated. I have enough scraps left of the lemon fabric that I will likely complete another small project or two. 
I don't plan on using most of these items until after fair season is over as I may wish to enter them. The wallhanging is on the wall and the table runner is on the table, but it's covered in plastic. So neither is likely to get dirty before I have a chance to enter them.