Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A little late to the party, but I made good progress this week!

Even though I'm late joining Bonnie's linky-thingie, I'm pleased with my progress on my Orca Bay mystery quilt.  I had 4 days off with Christmas and Boxing Day, and I managed to get some sewing in every single day, plus this evening after work.  I only completed one block for Step 6:

Each week, I do at least one unit of the step so I can check for mistakes.  I really couldn't do more on this step, because I still had to finish Step 1, but I got that done on Saturday:

All 224 plus about 10 extra - I didn't think I cut that many extra!

Then I was able to sew up the rows for Step One's block.  First I cut the 56 red blocks and assembled the middle row, chain-piecing all the way:

I didn't get much done on Christmas Day, because I got to spend the day with these little sweeties. 

Zoey is now sitting up on her own, so she was able to enjoy her new toys!  Big cousin Alex loved showing her what to do with them - he is so good with her.  We only got to spend the morning with him and his parents, though.  They left at noon to head to New Zealand for two weeks, to visit his other grandparents.  I miss him already, as I get to see him almost every day.

On Monday, I worked more on Step 6.  First I did the rows ofwith the dark 2 1/2" squares:

And thought I had finished all the ones with the neutral squares, but knew something was wrong because I had a bunch of QTS's left over.  It was time to leave the house to go to a friend's for Boxing Day dinner, so I couldn't look to see where I went wrong.

I had almost all day yesterday to sew - adding up to about 12 hours of time in my sewing room.  There are advantages to being single and having grown children! 
I put aside Step 6 for a bit, and worked on finishing up Step 2. 

Alex had helped me take off the paper on the first batch on Saturday, and I got the remaining 36 finished yesterday.  I also created a lovely pile of clippings I'm going to turn into some crumb blocks, then I'll toss the rest.

Once I figured out I didn't cut enough neutral squares (whoops!), I finished the last of the rows for Step 6 and put them aside for pressing. Before I press the piles, I decided to work on Step 3, and press those at the same time.  Tonight I started sewing together my first 185 pairs of tiny triangles, and then I cut out the remaining 165 pairs, plus a good stack of dark triangles so I can work on Step 5.  Maybe I'll be caught up by this coming weekend, if Step 7 isn't too onerous!

So, my recap is:
Step 1 - complete
Step 2 - complete
Step 3 - 185 pairs sewn, 165 to go
Step 4 - 14 triangles done, 114 to go
Step 5 - 12 done, 338 to go
Step 6 - 1 block done, 165 rows sewn.  Need to be pressed and assembled.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Orca Bay, Part 5 of ....?

It's on to the next step of Orca Bay, and I've decided to keep the name since I live on the West Coast of Canada, less than 100 km where orca pods J, K & L live year-round. I realize I am very fortunate in having seen these whales in their native environment many times. Once I find a picture I'll have to post it, but since I've had to restore my computer twice in the last month.

I tackled Step 5 in a small way, just a few to get the feel for cutting out the tiny triangles and adding them to my HSTs.

I'm rapidly running out of black, so I've dipped into my blue, brown and green drawers to find the very darkest shades to add - as long as it reads "dark", anything will work in my quilt! After doing about a dozen, I decided I better go back and finish Step One before I did any more on Steps 3 & 5.

Here are 310 QTS's (and a few to spare) ready for sewing on my mini design boards.  I might have shown these before - I got the tutorial from Lori Holt's website "Bee in my Bonnet", and have put them to good use!

Chain-piecing went fast, and a few leader/enders got sewn up as well!

Then the inevitable pressing began.  Thanks to one of the links on Bonnie's Monday linky-thingy, I learned to press them before cutting them apart - what a time-saver that is.

Next, pair them up so no two fabrics are the same and 155 pairs were laid out ready to sew.

But I had to take a break - my kids invited me to go to the Christmas Tree Farm with them - how could I turn down the opportunity to participate in my grandchildrens' first trip!  It turned out to be a decent day - mild and a peak of sunshine, with only a sprinkle of rain as we were about to leave.  Since Alex is going to New Zealand on Christmas Day with his parents to visit his paternal grandparents, he didn't get a tree but he helped Uncle Rob-Rob carry their tree to the truck!

Uncle Rob-Rob got his name a couple of years ago, when Alex was first learning to talk.  My daughters' friend's husband's name is Rob as well, and we quite often refer to the 'boys' as Rob, Rob and Ray (my other daughter's husband).  Alex starting calling each of the Robs Uncle Rob-Rob, and the name(s) have stuck!

Whoops, I forgot to turn this one!  After I got back to the house, I made up this panel apron and bonus potholders so I can bake cookies with Alex later this week. 

I finally got over my fear of free motion quilting and decided I couldn`t wreck these too badly, so I tackled it!  It was a lot easier than I thought, and I will definitely practice more. 

Then I got back to Orca Bay!

I`ve cut out 160 pairs for Step 3, only 160 to go, then 700 more triangles for the wings.  I also got the 224 quarter triangle squares sewn tonight, just need to press them and measure/trim and Step 1 will be done. 
Good thing I have a 4-day weekend coming up - 2 whole days after Christmas with no obligations so I plan on sewing and getting caught up!

Have a good week sewing - to see what every else has done with Orca Bay so far, check out Bonnie's linky-thingy (her technical term ;o) at

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

And then there were four (steps, that is!)

As Christmas is getting closer, it's tougher to get to the sewing room, but I've managed to get a few red string blocks done.  I am really loving these blocks - I also tried a couple of new things this week that I'll keep doing in the future.

First, I sewed the strings together to the full length of the first strip, except for the very last ones.

Then, I followed Bonnie's revised cutting instructions to cut the blocks in half first, then use the companion angle template to trim the triangles to size.

This one got sewn a little crooked, but I was able to fix it by trimming it after cutting it in half.

I also like this method because the paper blocks are a little larger then we needed, so I could adjust the trimming so the seams fell further away from the corners (this is one of the blocks I cut to size first before cutting in half).

It makes for 2 different looking triangles!

Don't they look pretty all lined up!

Making a crumb block was a lot easier with these trimmings - but I don't think they have as much character.  Check out everyone else's progess at Bonnie's Linky-thing at

Other things of note:

This was my view driving home from work the other day - the full moon rising over the local mountains.  The pointy one in the centre is Mt. Cheam, and it is only about 15 km from my home.

I have a collection of nativities, but last year I had to buy the Fisher-Price one for my grandson, Alex, to play with (and learn the Christmas story).  I have to set it up on his little table, because my dog likes to try to steal the little people (jealous, a little?)

And Zoey was mesmerized by the feel of the branches of the Christmas tree.  She didn't bother with the lights or the decorations, but kept reaching for the prickly branches.

Ouch, Gramma!

Monday, December 5, 2011

By the Third Week of the Mystery, Bonnie had me make:

350 Half-Square Triangles  (322 to go)

74 Little String Blocks (36 to go)

& 224 Hour-Glass Blocks (156 to go)!

The Twelve Days of Christmas kept going through my mind with these new verses!  I have a lovely pile of blue strings & crumbs building up, so I couldn't resist making a little (3 1/2") crumb block from the trimmings of my string blocks.  Not sure if I'll make more, but it is a great way to keep things out of my garbage can!

I'm thinking of my mystery quilt as a marathon, not a race, so as long as I plug away at each step until the next one comes along, I'll be happy for now. It's just so busy between work, getting ready for Christmas and playing with the little ones that I'm not going to stress over yet.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ocra Bay - Part 2 - Ornt'cha glad you started!

I got a really late start on Step 2 of Bonnie Hunter's Orca Bay Mystery Quilt but I'm loving it so far!

 This past weekend I decided to try Black Friday shopping in the U.S. for the first time, and what turned out to be the last time!  I can't stand the crowds, the mayhem and when the manager in Wal-Mart couldn't tell me where the line-up for the checkouts began, I abandoned my cart right then and there!  I did pick up some bargains elsewhere, mostly crafty things for me (alot) and clothes for the grandkids.

I was actually down in Monroe, WA for a scrapbooking retreat.  Between the shopping and our scrapbooking supplies, the van was packed coming home!

And there was still two suitcases and some groceries to fit in.  Good thing there was only 3 of us!

I had internet access so first thing Friday morning I checked in to see what Step 2 of Bonnie's mystery quilt was.  It just about killed me to have to wait til I got home to get started.  Amazingly, there was no lineup at the border considering it was the American Thanksgiving weekend, but I think everyone was home watching the Grey Cup (Go, Lions, Go!).  We got home about 7:20 p.m., I unloaded everything into the house and went straight to my sewing room.  Within 1/2 hour, I had 3 of those little 3 1/2 inch beauties done. I've only managed to get 7 done because I had to work today, but I plan on tackling it this week.

The colours aren't totally accurate because it was late at night, but I'm using the colour range from blue to aqua and teals and purples.  I can see myself making these blocks in monochrome and setting them in a rainbow style - a project for the future.

I still have to finish Step One but my little mini-bin is filling up - I have 67 in there now.

I also had two finishes this month, but only have a picture of one.  Some of my friends and I exchange birthday gifts, so this year I made lap quilts for everyone.  The last two had their birthdays this month, and I made their quilts with batiks I picked in the sampler sale in the fall, and a free pattern from Hoffman Batiks website called "Go With the Flow".  Of course, I forgot to take pictures, but one of the girls brought their quilt to the retreat and I managed to get a picture of it - she loves purple so every block has purple in it.

See you next week!

Monday, November 21, 2011

2011 Mystery Quilt - Part one- a whale of a project!

Just over a year ago, when I discovered quilting blogs I was drawn to Bonnie Hunter's as I needed to do something with my stash/scraps. Shortly after I started reading her blog, she launched her 2010 Mystery quilt, Roll, Roll Cotton Boll.  Not knowing much about her and her scrappy quilts, I wasn't convinced that a mystery quilt could look good.  Boy, was I wrong!

This year's mystery quilt, Orca Bay sounds like it's going to be a beauty and I'm in with bells on!  I couldn't wait to get home on Friday after work to get started on Part One, 224 quarter-square triangles that finish at 2" each.  I wasn't able to get them all done because we had an early family Christmas gathering on Saturday and Sunday was a project-finishing day (more later), but here is what I've accomplished so far:

37 finished Quarter-Square Triangles (also known as Hour-Glass Units)

Pretty maids all in a row!

Fifty or so more quarter-square triangles ready for sewing.

I use my design boards (made using this tutorial from Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet) to have everything lined up nice and neat, but sometimes it still fails!


Whoops.  Although Bonnie was very clear to make sure to have all the triangles neutral side up, I still managed to flip two of them.

Good thing I have Bonnie right by my side!

And just for you, Bonnie (in case you are reading), I'm even using some Jinny Beyer milleninum fabric!!  Thanks for the great inspiration you provide.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I love a good mystery but I've never tried a quilty one!

I've learned a lot in the last year since I discovered quilting blogs, but I have learned the most from Bonnie Hunter and her site. For the last few years around this time of year, she launches a quilt-along without revealing the final result until the end.  This year's mystery is called "Orca Bay" and is inspired by this picture she took in Alaska.  I love the colour combination so count me in!

This reminds me of the sunsets around here in BC, with the purply-blue mountains reflected in the water and the sun peaking through the clouds, with that lovely pink glow.  Bonnie is suggesting pulling scraps of fabric in colours of red, blue, black and light neutrals.  I think my choices are going to include a lot of pinky-purple in the red selections, and blue-purple for the blues.  Black is going to be tough, I might have to buy some fat quarters or eighths. 

Be sure to visit Bonnie's site for more information and consider joining the mystery club.  I'm not setting any lofty goals - if I manage to complete a few blocks each week just to get the steps down pat, I'll be happy finishing it in 2012.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Which comes first - sewing or blogging?

It's been two months since I posted anything, and in that time I haven't sewn anything either.  I also didn't do a lot of blog-surfing until last week, which seems to have inspired me to do two things - sew a little and blog a little.  I'm still not sure if I sewed so I could have something to blog, or if I'm blogging because I sewed something!

I've jumped (crawled) onto the Farmer's Wife Quilt-A-Long (FWQAL) started by Amanda and Angela back in June.  I didn't really want to start another project and resisted most of the summer, but all those cute blocks out there had me digging through my stash. The only requirement was to purchase the book by Laurie Hird, so when I saw it at my local LQS Hamels, and I had a $25 gift card, it was meant to be. The original quilt is kind of dull and old-fashioned looking IMO, but when I saw what people have been posting, I wanted to try. Hamels, my local quilt shop, also sells great sample packages of new fabric lines which I have been collecting, so with some modern bright colours, I have become a "Farmer's Wife". 

Here they are in the order I've done them:

Block #1 - Attic Window

This one took me the longest.  It's been about 4 years since I learned how to foundation-piece and about 2 years since I've done it, so I had to relearn some of the essentials - like getting the fabric positioned correctly.  My seam ripper became my new best friend. I got the foundation pieces from a wonderful group online  I like foundation piecing for accuracy.

I must have ripped out the lime green about six times, then when I had it right I trimmed one edge 1/4" too small, so I had to redo both the orange and lime on one side.

Deets:  Fabric used:  Dilly Dally by Me & My Sister Designs for Moda (orange); Green & Blue - unknown coordinating line
Time: About 2 hours due to my ineptness

Block #2 Autumn Tints

I am using the book as a bit of a guide for colour choices.  The colours in the book used Fall-type colours, so that's what I went looking for!  Not even close to the book's choice.

This is the block I remembered that the numbers don't refer to the colour choice, but to the sewing order.  Took a little bit to figure that one out, but still not as long as the first one.

Deets:  Fabric used is from an unknown coordinating line from a sample pack. Took me about 1 hour.

Block #4 Basket Weave

I jumped forward to Basket Weave because #3 involved some applique, which I wasn't in the mood for yet.  I didn't bother foundation-piecing this one.  I sewed three 1 1/2" strips from a Honey Bun of Oh, Cherry, Oh I've been saving (hoarding) for a couple of years, waiting for the right project.  I then cut the strip set into 3 1/2" blocks, twisted and sewed and voila, my basket weave appeared. The bright colours and white background are perfect for the this project.  I've decided that white is going to be my background colour, so I eliminated anything that has a creamy or natural background (good-bye, Central Park and Fandango).

Deets:  Fabric used: Oh, Cherry, Oh by Me and My Sister Designs for Moda
Time: about 20 minutes

Block #3 Joanne's Basket

The last block of the evening was the basket with the applique handle.  I struggled with the book's colour placement, as the centre squares were the same fabric as the background, which to me made the basket look like it had a hole in it. Once I replaced them with the darker green print, it looked finished to me.  I forgot that the handle should have been appliqued on the top triangle before sewing it together, so I fiddled with it for a bit to finish the ends of the handle.  I'm still not happy with it, but I'm movin' on!

Deets:  Fabric:  Me and My Sister Designs - Green Dot from Happy, Pink Flower from Birdie (?), Darker Green print from same unknown sampler pack as Block #2

I have several scrappy projects on the go.  I've tried to get organized by putting my smaller scraps in colour-coded bins:

But that didn't last long, once Alex discovered them!


Now he is helping me (very slowly) putting them back into the right bins - he's pretty good at knowing his colours, but a 3-year-old's attention span is short so it will be a long process!