Monday, November 28, 2011

I "Fixed" it!

I fixed it - and I am much happier!


What do you think?  I must admit I was really lucky and I found a whole bunch of extra first border pieces and there were enough for me to piece an additional 10 X-Blocks with only a bit more work.  That really cut down on the time I spent yesterday and I didn't need to cut an additional white squares!  Yey!  

So, I spent the afternoon yesterday, in my PJ's (because I could), working on this quilt and getting not only the additional blocks on but also the first pieced border.  I love how it is turning out - but I am not finished yet! 

If you would like to see how I made the X-Blocks as a leaders and enders project and how I made the first border you can see the video I made here.

Now I need a whole bunch more 16-patch blocks because I am going to add an additional pieced border on.  I know - crazy right!?  I set the challenge to myself to do a 100% pieced quilt ie no long inner or outer borders - ALL piecing.  It would be so, very, very easy right now to just add some straight borders - and believe me I can't help but be tempted to do just that - but - I am going to stick with my challenge to myself.  

Since this is (or was to be) completely a leaders and enders quilt (until I decided to add more blocks and kind of cheated on the additional X-Blocks) I am going to piece those 16-patches as leaders and enders; so, the quilt top will not be finished for a while now.  Oh well!  Back into the quilt closet for a while again.

Now, I just need to decide if I want to do a 6" final border or a 12" - hmmm.  Right now the quilt top is 72" x 72" - so the possibilities are an 84" square quilt or a 96" square quilt.  I'm kind of leaving towards 96" but not sure if I want 12" borders.  Oh well - that decision will wait for another day!

What do you think?  Did I "fix" it?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What Would You Do?

Remember this quilt?


This is my current, in process leaders and enders quilt.  Well, I have been piecing the first border, leaders and enders style, and I was about ready to put it on.   I decided to hang up the quilt center and see what I thought about it from a few steps back.  In the first picture I liked what I saw - at first.  Then, I started really looking at my quilt.  I DON'T like how I have used an even number of blocks across the top and sides - this means that I have a 16-patch on the top left and an X-block top right.  Hmmm,  maybe it will be ok.

Let's audition the first border.


Nope, I don't like how that X-block looks in the corner!  I do like how the 16-patch looks as a corner though.  So, now what to do??  I think that if this bothers me this much now it will always bother me in the future.  Since I like this quilt top a lot so far, and I have spent a lot of time on it, I think that the only thing to do, for me, is try to make this more visually appealing.

As I see it I have two options.
  1. Rip off one side border and add it to the bottom of the quilt - yuck frog stitching :-(
  2. Start piecing more X-Blocks to add to one side and the bottom of the quilt to make the quilt an 11 x 11 block setting instead of 10 x 10.
Sigh - what would you do?

The first thing I did was check to see if I had any more of the off-white background fabric - yes I do!  And I think I might have just enough!  So, since the thought of ripping all of that off the side (and potentially damaging all the piecing) just makes me cringe, I got out my tools and I am about to start cutting up more background squares.

Just when I thought I was done with the center - here I am cutting for more!  Luckily I have some bits left and I always have lots of 16-patch blocks sitting around.  I'm going to look at this as being half-done the work I need to do LOL!!

If you would like to see how I do my leaders and enders and/or how to construct the X-block you can click on the videos tab at the top and check out my YouTube videos.
So what would you have done?  Ripped or cut more?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Another Finish and Another Start

Isn't he cute??!!!
Mr Iggy is finished!


This is a free pattern that was an insert in Rug Hooking Magazine that I just fell in love with! It is a pattern by Star Rug Company.  She has a way with whimsical designs like this and she loves Halloween as much as I do!  I know that this is another Halloween finish after Halloween but hey - it is finished!

After I finished this rug I decided that I would start another one.  I thought that it might be fun to hook a larger rug that is intended for the floor in my bedroom.

This is a pattern by Gene Shepherd called Pickering Oak and I just love it!  This will be about 26" x 38" when completed so this will be the largest rug that I have hooked.  I am going to hook it in a #8 cut (or 8/32 of an inch wide cuts) and I am going to die my own wool for it.  I am very excited to take this on and push myself a bit more.   In the picture you can see that I have transferred the pattern onto the tracing fabric so that it is ready to transfer onto the linen I'll be using as a backing.  The picture of the backing didn't work out very well so this one will have to do!  The little yellow circles are pattern weights by Olfa that I got in a prize basket and I use them a lot for rug hooking since they have little pointed feet that really stick to the backings.

Have you started anything new lately?  Or, picked up an old project?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Start and a Couple Finishes

Hi everyone!
I decided to do something I haven't done in a long time - I decided to do a Block of the Month (BOM).  You see, I have a lot of the Accuquilt Go! geometric set and they are mostly still in their packages!  So, when Accuquilt started their new BOM I thought it would be the perfect way to crack open those geometric dies.

I downloaded the first two months of blocks from the site.  If you're interested in checking this out you can get started here.  It might be fun to work on this as a group project!


I picked my colours and theme and set to work.  I chose to do my sampler in 30's prints because I LOVE them so much and have built up a bit of a stash ;-)  I finished the first two blocks in the sampler and I can't wait until next month when the next block comes out!  They went together so easily and precisely - it was a pleasure to do the blocks.  What do you think?  Do you like my fabrics?

Well that was my start - now on to a couple of finishes!  I finished two baby quilts.  They are machine quilted, bound and labeled!  Yey!  The quilt on the left is my die cut tumbler quilt and the quilt on the right is all flying geese cut with the Eleanor Burns flying geese ruler.  I love to make flying geese using that method.  If you have never seen that method before there is a video right on the page I linked to that shows her rulers in use.   I tried to be a bit more modern with these quilts and I like the way that they turned out - but - honestly I think that my heart lies in using a bit more colour.

I hope that the babies who receive these quilts love them to death!  Or, maybe that they add their own bit of colour to them LOL!  I love to make baby quilts!
So, what are you all up to so far this November?  Any finishes?  Any starts?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Review of the Sizzix Big Shot Die Cutter

Hi all!

As you all know - or if you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know - I love my Accuquilt Go! fabric cutter.  I have really enjoyed using it and creating quilts with it.  I don't know how I quilted without it!   

Recently I started hearing about the Sizzix cutter and how they have partnered with Westminster fabrics to make a quilting machine; so, I thought that it would be interesting to see what all the buzz was about.  When I was given the opportunity by Sizzix to try their machine and a few dies out I jumped at the chance.

Now let me first explain my ignorance concerning Sizzix and their cutting machines.  I am a quilter - not a scrap-booker at all so I had no idea what they were all about or their scrap-booking products.  I know that a lot of you are scrap-bookers so you're probably ahead of me here ;-)  I wasn't aware of their machines until they put out a quilting edition.  So, naturally,  my review is going to focus on quilting.

I also want to clarify that I have not tried the Accquilt Studio machine yet so I can't compare that one - sorry.

My machine came in the mail and I gleefully unpacked it.  I had to put the handle on the machine - but that was all the assembly required.  My initial reaction was - look at the little purple jewels!!!!  LOL I kid you not I love those little guys.  My next reaction is - wow is this ever heavy!  

I grabbed the small Dresden plate die and cutting mats.  The Big Shot uses two Plexiglas sheets to sandwich the die.  I layered just 4 layers of quilter's cotton over the die and ran it through.  the Sizzix can cut up to 10 layers of fabric!


I have to be completely honest here - I was shocked at how easy and smooth the die rolled through the machine!  Really and truly it was effortless to put the die through the rollers.  No strength was required at all.  The little rubber feet on the bottom of the machine kept the cutter very still and stable - I think the weight of the machine also helped with that.

I had perfect shapes in seconds - I did have to trim a couple threads but nothing big.

Look at how cute those little Dresden petals are!  I will be honest - I was going to make small project using this die but I am so in love with those petals that I want to make many more; so, I figured that instead of holding this review up that I would do the review and then do the project.

Next I grabbed the 2.5" strip die and gave that a whirl.  I thought that the this die would be challenging to use because of the length of the die and the shortness of the bed on the Big Shot - I was completely wrong!  It was once again effortless to run this through and I got a perfect 2.5" strip.

When I was looking at the strip die I thought that it looked a little longer than the Accuquilt ones so I layed them side by side.

Guess what?  The Sizzix strip die IS a little bit longer than the Accuquilt die!  I have often wished that the Accuquilt dies were just about an inch longer and the Sizzix one is!  Remember that I put the silver Sharpie lines on my dies so that I know where the blades are when I cut - they didn't come with the lines on them.

I took a trip into Michael's craft store and was in the scrap booking isle area and I found these so I grabbed them to try out as well.  Even though they are not "quilting" dies they will cut fabric so I figured I'd better try them out - I am excited to do something with these.

I am truly impressed with how the Sizzix works - I think it is a great machine!  I was told that there is a shim available so that the Sizzix machine can take the Accquilt dies - I think this is a an amazing thing since quilters can have all the Accuquilt dies available to them as well as the Sizzix ones.

Now for the pros and cons.  I still love my Accuquilt machine!  I think that both manufacturers have pluses and minuses.

Pros for Sizzix
-the machine is sooooo smooth and easy to opperate.  It was effortless to put the die through the machine
-the easy crank deserves at least two points!  LOL!
-the ability to cut MORE layers all at the same time.
-the little purple jewels are too cute!
-the ability to use the Accquilt dies in the Sizzix machine.  Accuquilt can only take Accuquilt dies
-huge selection of dies available if you take into consideration the scrap booking dies.
-I love the longer strip dies!!!

Cons for Sizzix
-there are not many quilting dies made by Sizzix yet.  I know that they are releasing more but right now there are not very many.  You can also use the scrap booking dies though, however, looking through the dies many of them just don't seem to be conducive to quilting - the appliques are too skinny or would not be easy to applique.  So right now there is a limited selection.
-the bed is very narrow so the dies must be less than 6" wide.  The Baby Go is a little wider so there are more dies that can be used on the smaller of the Accuquilt machines.
-the space needed to store the machine.  The Go folds up smaller and can be stored more easily.  This can be a huge issue if your space is limited and I know that it is for many people.
-not a lot of supporting materials.  For example on the Dresden plate die there is just the three petals and that it makes a 6.5" block.  There is no direction as to the size of the center circle needed or a pattern or piecing directions.  This could be confusing to a lot of quilters.  There are only a few patterns on the web site, at present, I am SURE they are working on this LOL!

So what should you buy?  That is a huge question.  Both Sizzix and Accuquilt have good and bad points.

I love the way the Sizzix machine operates.  Sincerely, it is so smooth and easy to operate.  But, it doesn't fold down so the storage space needed is much larger.  This is a huge issue for some quilters so I would say look at your sewing area.  If space is at a premium you have to go with Accuquilt.  The Accuquilt is much more portable so if you are traveling or want to take it to bees the Accuquilt is the way to go.  However, Accuquilt Go machines can only take Go! dies.  However, if you have shoulder problems or anything like that the Sizzix is the way to go!  It is extremely easy to crank and requires no effort at all.  

There are two sizes to both machines so look at the dies you like before you decide.

Right now Accquilt definitely has far more supporting materials available for customers.  There is a free pattern in every die and multiple patterns and videos available on their web site.  The Accuquilt dies have everything that you need for the block on the die.  For example the Dresden plate die has all the petals and the circle.  This is a good and bad thing in my opinion.  I like having everything I need on the die - it's easier.  But sometimes you get repeated shapes.  It's a toss up!  Accuquilt has gone heavy into quilting and has partnered with Electric Quilt and has embroidery designs available too.  This is a huge plus for many of us!  However, with a shim you can use Accuquilt dies in your Sizzix machine; so, you are not limited there at all!

So, which machine is better?  Which should you buy?  Honestly I have no firm answer for you.  Sorry.  They are both good machines and I will enjoy using both of them.  I am looking forward to getting a shim to try my Accuquilt dies out on the Big Shot next!  The Big Shot is approximately the same price as the Baby Go! And the Big Shot pro is a bit more than the full sized Go!

Thank you to the kind people at Sizzix for this opportunity to try their great little machine out!

Wowzers that was a LONG one!!!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Halloween Tumbler

I know that it is after Halloween but I finished my Halloween tumbler quilt!  I love how it turned out and it was so fast and easy to put together.

It was also so great to use my stash completely for this project and finally use some of those Halloween prints that have been sitting for years in my stash.  Even the batting was one that I had purchased years ago when it was on sale.  I find it very freeing to use what I have - it frees up space for new fabrics ;-)

I machine quilted this quilt using WonderFil Tutti variegated thread in a 50 weight.  It quilted like a dream! The thread is so soft and smooth and it didn't break once while I was quilting.  I will definately use this thread again in the future!

From the left-overs I grabbed my chisel die and my 2" square die and cut them up!  I used the 2" squares as leaders and enders while I was piecing other things.  But, now that Halloween is over I honestly don't feel like doing anything with them right now.  So, I bundled them up and put these away - probably until next Halloween; but, once next Halloween is here I will have these ready to go!

Now on to other things!