Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Simply Colourful Quilt Along - parts 1 & 2

Once Fool's Gold was finished I started another project, this one was a quilt along with Lynn Marquedant. 
I started following Lynn's FibreCast Youtube channel a few years ago. It is similar to Bonnie Hunter's that I watch occasionally, but the big difference for me is that FibreCast is broadcast at the same time each week, and Lynn usually demonstrates what she is doing and invites us to do the same. I did make a sewing machine cover shaped like a caravan for my caravan machine, and also a caravan quilt and place mats, which I sell as we travel in our van. 
So during this time of rediscovering my creative side :), Lynn is doing a quilt-along.
 Week One was an Ohio Star. Now I have many sampler quilts still waiting to be finished and I really didn't want to start another one, but I did want to do the quilt along, so I decided to do the first part of week one as a baby quilt and make nine Ohio stars instead of one.
To make the Ohio Star block I cut four large squares, in this case - two yellow, one green, and one orange. I placed one yellow with the green and one yellow with the orange. I then drew a diagonal line and stitched 1/4 inch ether side. I cut on the other diagonal to make two half square triangles. I did the same with the other yellow and the orange. I then placed the opposite ones together and repeated to make four identical units.
I love making the little four patch at the back of the four half square triangle blocks.
 By using one 'stash builder' from Spotlight and a collection of co-ordinating plain fabrics I made this baby quilt. I am at the stage of putting in the white polka dot sashing.
 Week one included a small church and a small trees block.
Week two was the big church and big tree block.
All were done paper piecing, which I'm not fussed about, but the results are good. I colour coded each piece to keep me on track.
I decided I would use these blocks ether in place mats or another caravan quilt. Then I saw on the quilt along FB page
another block that used Christmas fabric, so decided to make the large tree block for a place mat. 
I really liked the background fabric for the smaller block, not sure if I will turn it into a place mat or keep it for another caravan quilt.
 But wait ..... didn't I say I wasn't going to make 'another' sampler quilt ... well, another talented sewer made her blocks out of Halloween fabric ... I have a crate full of Halloween fabric ... so guess what?
I'm going to start a Halloween sampler quilt this week.
Watch this space :)

Fools Gold Mystery Stash Buster.

I have been indulging in my create side of late, and while I have finished a couple of Christmas presents and in between Farmer's Wife 1930's quilt, I did a quick 8 week Stash Buster Mystery quilt - Fool's Gold. It was facilitated by Quilters World Magazine and best selling author Susan Mallery. It was a pattern designed by the editor of Quilter's World magazine Carolyn Vagts, and each part was released once a week.
The first part was the choosing and cutting of the fabric. I always struggle with fabric choice, and really wasn't sure I had chosen the right fabrics until the end. I like to use reusable cards for mystery quilts and have both alphabet and numerical cards. This quilt sorted the cut fabrics into alphabetical parts. I chose one fabric for most of the colour choices, but decided to use scraps for the light / medium purples. I like some consistency, especially with mystery quilts, so I will often use one fabric colour.

Each week the units are added to to make larger units.

 Here it is ready to sew together.
Now the top is finished and waiting on my UFO stand to be quilted and finished.

Farmers Wife #90 Sara

For this block, #90 Sara, I went back to rotary cutting. I cut strips to make the four patch units. For the four corners, I cut larger squares, drew a diagonal line and after sewing a quarter of an inch either side, cut to make two half square triangle blocks. I cut these blocks in diagonally to make the four corner units.
I really enjoyed making this block.
My thoughts on the letter "Life Has Loveliness to Sell"
 by Wealthy, Sept 1935
 Some years ago a friend, Alica, started a FB page titled 365 days of Gratitude. 
I would love seeing the photo she would post each day and really wanted to record what I was grateful for. I knew I wouldn't have time, with work, to fit in a photo each day, so named my FB page 'Allison's Moments of Gratitude'. I post from time to time, although think each day about what I am grateful for.
Wealthy writes about going through her daily routines, and life was much harder back then. She writes about observing the changing seasons and the passing parade outside her kitchen window. She sees beauty in everything around her, and considers herself wealthy because of it.
Every day may not be good, but there is good in every day.

Farmer's Wife #46 Jewel

No templates for this one and I wasn't about to fussy cut pieces, so foundation paper piecing it is.
There is always a lot of waste in foundation paper piecing, but the resulting blocks usually finish very accurately. 
I only made one of #46 Jewel, in the purple tones.
I colour coded each piece to make it easier to remember which fabric went where, but I still got it muddles and had to unpick and change fabric on three of the eight blocks.
My thoughts on the letter "Listen a Little" 
by Chatterbox, April, 1937
Chatterbox sees herself as an incessant talker, and has vowed to try an listen to others a little more.
The world is made up of those who like to talk and those who like to listen. 
I'm a listener. 
I like to listen and watch what is going on around me. 
Listeners have their own set of issues, often labelled as shy, anti-social, or uninterested and snobbish. 
I don't think I am any of those. 
As a young child I was always self-conscious about 'being shy' yet now as I look back I realise I was listening and observing - both good things.

Every good conversation starts with good listening.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Farmers Wife #76 - Nancy

What a block Nancy was. I started off thinking about how I could make it easier - as I do most projects.
Well, it didn't work out that way. I was checking the photos on the FW FaceBook page to get inspiration of fabric choices to use, and saw so many different versions, I think I got confused. Anyway, the process in my first (incorrect blocks) and my second (correct blocks above) was the same.
I cut out all the pieces and lay them out.
To make the chevron blocks, I rule a sewing line down the middle of the 'wings' and chain sew all the pieces.
Then I sew another line on the section to be cut off - that is, not used.
I cut off the smaller triangles, to be used elsewhere :)
I then repeat the process on the other side.
This is when I discovered my mistake, and decided to make two blocks a little differently and then to make the blocks AGAIN correctly.
So I started again, by laying out all the pieces.
To end up with the correct blocks at the top.

My thoughts on the letter "Why Not a Book Christmas"
by Bobby, 1933.
Bobby talks about how her mother would give her and her siblings a book each Christmas, and with that the children built their own library. Like Bookworm, Bobby found the pleasure in reading and would save her pennies to buy books.
As a teacher, I realise the importance of reading to children and encouraging children to enjoy the love of reading at an early age. Our children and grand children have always received books for special occasions. We got away without giving our children any chocolate for Easter in their first 4/5 years. Books were a gift.
I do not think one can have too many books.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Farmers Wife #2 Aimee

The first block this week is #2 Aimee and when I looked at it before reading the tutorial, I thought this would be a block for foundation paper piecing.

Now I don't dislike paper piecing, I just prefer rotary cutting and piecing. I made a beautiful centre of a quilt, or it could be a wall-hanging, named My Home is my Castle, all paper pieced and it looks great. Foundation paper piecing does take more time, and does 'waste' a lot of fabric, but the points are sharper and the little tiny bits are straight - that wouldn't happen with regular piecing.
I do like to colour my pieces on the foundation paper to keep the colours on track.
 Each piece is labelled in the order that one should sew, but I've done this before many times, so I like to sew two or even three sections at a time.
As each section is finished I lay the foundation sections in place ready for sewing together. Sometimes I take the paper out first before sewing together, and sometimes I don't.
My thoughts on the letter "The Magic Jar" 
by Bookworm, Feb 1934.
Bookworm talks about saving pennies to buy books, her passion. She also mentions the importance of farmer's wives taking some time each day for oneself. I have no doubt that farmer's wives had, and still have, a very busy, hectic day to day life.
In today's fast pace world, one needs to juggle, like the farmers wives, many different aspects of their lives. What many forget today, usually because one is so busy, is to take time for oneself. It is easy to fall into the trap of all work and little 'life' balance because we hear terms like: it must get done tonight; it has to be finished ASAP; you have no choice; everything relies on getting this done; etc. etc. etc.
Doing something for oneself EVERY day is so important for the work / life balance.  
However, it is difficult to not feel guilty about one's 'quilty' pleasure. 
Bookworm had reading. She read every day.
I have sewing and writing. I didn't do both everyday, but did at least one - until I didn't ..... no work life balance, so I had the re-assess my life. I now do something for me every day, and yes felt guilty for doing it, but I've now come to realise what is important to me and my loved ones. 
 I don't feel guilty any more, well not too much anyway. 
I do something I want to do each day, some days I do a lot, some days I do a little, but I do it.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Farmers Wife #62 Millie

The third block this week was #62 Millie, again made with half square triangles. There are just so many blocks that can be made with half square triangles.This blog from Kirtsy explains a different way to cut and sew the half square triangles - I prefer this method as one doesn't have to worry so much about the pieces stretching. Kirsty is also making four of each block to sew together - looks very pretty. Read about it here.
As in #57 Margaret, I pressed the seams open. I am not sure that I will do this for all the blocks, but it worked for this one.

 I also like the idea of doing four of each block - in this case with #62 Millie, a four block pattern would look really good and it would show up the secondary patterns really well.

My thoughts on the letter 'Blind Flying'
by A Blind Flyer, Dec 1931
Wow, what a powerful letter. A Blind Flyer writes about how our lives are like flying blind, and when in a state of confusion one needs to refer to what she calls 'God's instruments for 'blind flying in life.'
  1. A God-centered philosophy - for blind flying
  2. The Holy Bible - for a directional gyro
  3. Prayer - for comforting
I don't talk much about my faith, but I do believe in the above 3 'instruments'. I may not go to church each week, but I do believe in the Bible and it's teachings. I say my prayers at night, and taught my children the power of prayer.
As a child my parents took us to Sunday School. They did not attend church, although I do recall my Nanna going regularly and reading the scriptures each day. When we turned 12 years old our parents gave us the choice to continue to go to church or not. I went for a while, but moved so stopped going.
My faith didn't go away.
I know God is watching over me, and I know he will guide me in the right direction, no matter how dark it may seem, it always turns out right. There have been many times in my life that everything was not right, but each experience has ended up for the best in the end.

I believe God has a plan, and although it may seem everything is going wrong now, it will always turn out for the best.

Farmers Wife #57 Margaret

I love half square triangles. There are just so many different ways to lay them to make a pattern. This week is all about half square triangles.
Of the two blocks released, #57 Margaret is the first.
I took advantage of my rotating mat, and triangle ruler again for these blocks.
I laid out all the pieces to keep them in order when sewing.
I chain stitched in pairs and then laid each pair out again to make sure the pattern was still correct.
I tries two different ways of pressing these blocks. The blue block pressing to one side or the other to make the seams butt up to each other. The pink block I pressed the seams open. I must admit, the pink block did lay flatter.
My thoughts on the letter 'Mom's a Whole Menagerie'
by Mom, Sept 1934
Mom writes about the afternoon rush when the family returns from school and work and all help out to set the table and enjoy the evening meal together - sharing the days high's and lows. It ends with Mom being very happy with the joy of being with family.
How different life is today. I wonder how many families sit down to dinner at the table to talk about the day's events over dinner - without today's technologies.

As a child growing up, I don't recall sitting at the table for dinner. I do recall sitting in the same small room that was our kitchen, lounge, dining room that was no more than 5x4 metres but we were all together. We did talk, if Dad wasn't watching the news - and my sister and I use to fight over who would stir the gravy and who's turn it was to dry the dishes. Afternoons were spent talking about the day. I had a great childhood with caring and love all around. Although, I guess life was not as hectic as today.
When our children were younger, we always sat down at the table, sometimes the TV was on, sometimes it wasn't. In one house we didn't have the TV where it could be seem from the table, and I don't recall our evening meal being any different from any of the other homes we had. We did talk about each other's day. We did discuss any issues or events coming up. We talked. Although I must confess, that in the years before our girls left home I did send emails to them to come down/up to dinner. It was just easier than yelling upstairs and downstairs or going to get them. However, we did sit at the table to share a meal.

 We don't now, but in all fairness our kids are grown up, and two have their own homes now. When beautiful grand daughter comes to visit we still don't sit at the table for meals - but we talk all day about her week. We sit in the lounge room in front of the TV or on the deck near the BBQ.
Times have changed.

We were happy. We are happy. I am grateful for the way our children have turned into caring respectful adults. They have the most beautiful respectful children and I love them all with all my heart.

Count your blessings, live with gratitude and love with all your heart.  

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Farmers Wife #1 Addie

Week 5 see 3 blocks released. The first block is #01 Addie.

You can find Marti Michell helpful hints  and Gnomangel tutorial are useful.

I used my triangle ruler again to cut out the pieces. I like to lay them out on a mini design mat to make sure it works and to try to keep them in order for sewing - I say try, as sometimes it becomes a jumble :)
I also chain pieced the pieces.
I am very happy with the way it turned out. I think the contrast of colours is much better now that I am in the swing of the sample blocks.
My thoughts on the letter 'Happier Than Ever Before' 
by Mrs H. S. L. October 1930

Mrs H. S. L. talks about changing her and her family's life style to make it better in the future. She got rid of some mod-cons and worked hard. However, she really enjoyed the new life she had made for herself and the family.

As a young Mum, many years ago, I was happy. We had two wonderful daughters, hubby and I both had good jobs that we genuinely enjoyed going to each day. 
Circumstances change. 
We had a son and at the same time hubby was offered a promotion. Circumstances were right to move, and start again. We did this another three times. Each time it was a decision with the purpose of making life better.
We were happy.
Circumstances change. 
I'm not going into details, but life became not happy. Every day was a chore.
Our only joy was our beautiful grand daughters visiting, or Skyping.
    We have now made another decision, to make our lives happy once again. I recall the old saying that was popular many years back - Work to live, don't live to work!
We are going to live for today, who know what tomorrow will bring.
It will still take hard work, but now our priorities are back on track. 
We will be happy again - happier than ever before!

Quote: (I'm not sure if I used this before, but it applies here.)
One of the simplest ways to stay happy is ...
... letting go of things that make you sad!