Paisley Kaleidoscope Stars and a Question or Two

There has been a slight change in plans. More about that in a bit. I made a few kaleidoscope stars while I was pondering what to do about the pickle dish quilt. First were a few of the brown and … Continue reading

Hand Quilting Tools

Ferris Wheel is still in the process of being hand quilted. I have actually taken out some of the hand quilting because what I thought I’d like I definitely don’t like. So I’m redoing a couple of blocks. Now that I’ve got a plan for the quilting, it will go much faster … I hope. Not only have I taken out the machine piecing I originally started with, I’ve also taken out some of the hand quilting.

My favourite tools for hand quilting include these 4 thimbles and the YLI thread. For the most part, I use either the cone Thimblelady thimble or the original silver one. The little black leather thimble I wear on my finger beneath the quilt. It saves wear and tear on the finger underneath, but is thin enough that I still feel the needle as it comes through. The spoon thimble is my favourite when I quilt without a hoop, which I sometimes do, particularly when I’m at the edge of a quilt. YLI hand quilting thread is my absolute favourite and the one to which I always turn.

This is my favourite hoop, although it’s a bit large and sometimes too heavy for me.

On nights when the round wooden hoop seems too heavy, and there are many of those, out comes this Q-snap rectangular hoop. The difference in weight is really noticeable. How lucky are we that we have so many tools that we can find and use the appropriate one, depending on the application and how we feel?

Then there is this, my wonderful floor frame which I’m not quite as comfortable using for hand quilting but what a bonus it is for basting! I can put the quilt sandwich in it and baste that way. No more crawling on the floor to pin or breaking my back leaning over a table to baste.

I taught myself how to hand quilt mostly from books. These are two of my favourites. I picked up a lot of hints from the Jinny Beyer book Quiltmaking by Hand, some from That Perfect Stitch but I think the most important lesson I learned was from watching the Thimblelady’s DVD on hand quilting. I’ve developed my own method which is a combination of all of the above.

There’s one thing that I find makes a big difference for me and that’s using my index finger, rather than the middle finger, to rock the needle. I’ve often wondered if anyone else finds that it’s easier to quilt using their index finger. I find my hand doesn’t fatigue anywhere near as much.

What about you? How did you learn to hand quilt? What are your favourite tools and methods?

A Baxter close-up. He was reclining near a quilt book.

26 Pickled Ladies

The fourth row is now added. They’re easy to put together, thanks to the stitching liens and matching points.

It’s a little difficult to tell from this photo, but the intersection where they meet is easy to press by pressing one of the arcs over the other beside it and then pressing the one below it over both of those.  It may look a bit bulky, but it actually isn’t.

Quilting on the Ferris Wheel quilt is going rather slowly but I am getting it done. Baxter is insistent on helping whenever there’s a quilt on my lap, whether I’m quilting or tacking down binding. At one point last night, he was right under the hoop. He seems to think it’s play time as he attacks my hand that’s underneath the quilt.

Something to Stitch, Something to Unstitch

Remember this, the Ferris Wheel quilt? That’s the project that involved unstitching. I had quilted about a third of it by machine and then decided I wanted to quilt this one by hand. So I’ve spent a number of hours over the past couple of weeks taking out the machine quilting. Now I’m trying to decide how I want to quilt it.

For a change of pace, I’ve started stitching a cross-stitch project. It’s almost a quarter done already. This one is going to be a small Christmas biscornu.

Baxter did very well and we picked him up at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. I had to laugh at the post-surgery instructions. They stated we should keep him as quiet as possible. A rambunctious kitten who’s only 6 months old and showed absolutely no signs of being groggy from the anaesthetic we’re supposed to keep quiet? Within minutes of getting home, after sniffing around to make sure things were where he thought they should be, he was bounding around, getting toys out of the toy basket, jumping up on the windowsill to watch the leaves and that went on all afternoon and evening. We’re thrilled he came through the surgery so well and showed no after-effects. Here you can almost see the spot that was shaved for the IV on one front leg.

Stormy Seas Blocks 15 & 16

Two more of the Stormy Seas blocks are done and added to the group. Only 26 more blocks to go. That in itself is enough to encourage me to stitch at least parts of the blocks by machine.

This second block is one of my favourites.

Over the past week I have been doing a lot of hand quilting on the whole cloth quilt. So much so that the finger on the hand beneath the quilt is getting really sore. I’m going to try wearing a very thin, flexible leather thimble on my finger underneath the quilt to see if that helps when quilting. Now that I’m back in the habit of hand quilting, I don’t want to stop because of a sore finger.

Baxter hanging out on the quilt on the couch with some teddy bear friends.

Scrappy Star, Round 4

The star is growing. I’ll keep adding rounds until it’s wide enough for a lap quilt. Then I’ll sort out how to add length to it, possibly with a couple of rows of small stars at the top and bottom. The round of squares isn’t added yet, but that’s not going to take long. It’s adding the diamonds in each round that takes the longest, particularly as it grows in size.

Over the years, I’ve tried numerous thimbles for hand quilting and, while some of them have seemed better than others, all of them have eventually resulted in hand issues for me. Then I heard about this, the hand-held quilting thimble from the House of Quilting. After about half an hour of practising with it, I was thrilled. It’s simple to get used to, makes it easy to get small even stitches and doesn’t seem to cause any hand fatigue. It’s even easy to quilt through intersections where many seams meet. Over the next few days, I’ll spend some more time getting used to it and then it’s going to be time to get started on that stack of 14 tops waiting for quilting.

Baxter’s markings are starting to show more and more. He has two rings, one on either side, just at his shoulders which I’ve dubbed the Baxter crop circles. This photo was taken as he was resting up, waiting for yogourt time.  Yes, we have another kitty who loves a yogourt treat. When he sees the yogourt container come out of the refrigerator, he practically climbs up our legs to get his treat.

Bloggers’ Quilt Festival, Spring 2011

Amy's Creative Side
It’s that time of year again, when Amy at Amy’s Creative Side is hosting the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival.   There are all sorts of beautiful quilts entered — lots of eye candy and tons of inspiration.

I decided to show the first applique quilt I made.  It was all done by  hand — the piecing, applique and quilting.  Each plate has 20 blades, and looking at it now I realize that it has to be the scrappiest of the quilts I’ve made.  In it are some novelty prints, batiks, ’30s repros, checks, stripes and florals.

That was the first time I used a fusible batting and I remember the day I basted it — we vacuumed and vacuumed the living room carpet, laid out the backing, batting and the top and then out came the iron.  It seemed like it took next to no time and the quilt was ready to quilt.

There’s something about Dresden Plate variations that I always seem to have been drawn to.  Not only have I made this one, but also Ferris Wheel (which is about to be quilted), the new one I’ve started and showed yesterday and yet another which is in the planning stages.

Now I think I’ll spend a lot of time over the next few days looking at all the gorgeous quilts being shown.  This has to be the best way to go to a great quilt show — no travelling, no line ups, no trying to get a good view.  Just click on the links and you’re there.

Smudge continues to improve.  Here he was reaching for the toy basket in typical Smudge fashion.  He’s a very laid-back cat!

First Hand Quilting Project for 2009

This little piece will be my first hand quilting project for the year. It was made with the pieces from the free downloadable Inklingo collection. I’m using a silk batt so I know this will be an absolute joy to quilt. It’s a little piece but it’s a nice way to ease into some larger quilts that need to be quilted.

I’m planning to use a dark fabric for the binding to finish it off. I’m not really sure what we’ll do with it, but I like it the size that it is. Perhaps it’s destined to become a wall hanging.

Lester in his favourite spot in the winter:

And Smudge — if you look closely I think you can see that his fur is wet. He has the oddest drinking habits. Rather than lap up a bit of water, he puts his whole face into the water bowl and then, when he’s dripping wet, catch the water on his tongue as it rolls down off his fur. He has done this since he was a kitten and it never fails to amuse us. I often wonder if he’d actually go in if we had a small wading pool for him.


Another Reason Hand Quilting Takes a Long Time

Tonight it was Smudge’s turn. It’s really comical to watch him approach this. First a paw goes out to test if it’s “safe” and then up he clambers. Thankfully, I had a fair bit left to go on that line and was able to complete it.


I’ve enjoyed the cooler nights this week and being able to work on the quilt. Tomorrow we go back up into the higher heat and humidity, so I think this will sit for a while again.

Everything’s a Secret!!

All these “secret” projects are making for some rather difficult blog posts! I have 3 little projects in varying stages of completion, but can’t post photos of any of them.

We are finally having perfect weather — nice warm days, lots of sunlight and no rain! We set records this summer for the amount of rain we’ve had. It is wonderful to have no rain in the forecast for at least another 2 or 3 days. I think that may be the longest span of time all summer long without rain.

Exciting news today for me! I had asked to be put on the waiting list for York Heritage Quilters Guild and today got an e-mail that there are spots open. So now it’s just a matter of waiting for the application form.

As I hate to post without a picture, this is a picture of little Smokey. She was the funniest cat, always made us laugh. She was the tiniest of the three, but she definitely ruled the boys! I miss her loud voice and her antics and think about her frequently.

There’s a bit of a story regarding how Smokey came to live here. She was one of the many resident cats at the nursing home where my mother resided for the last couple of years of her life. I’m sure the residents didn’t mean to hurt her but I have a feeling that, because of limited muscle control, they may have been a bit rough when they tried to stroke her or pat her. She finally went on a hunger strike. She had bonded with my mother and with me, as I spent a lot of time there. One of the administrators finally asked me if I’d take Smokey home as they were worried she’d actually starve herself to death. I brought her home with me that very evening and never regretted it for a minute. She was the most playful of little cats and had an enormous personality.