Monday, January 31, 2011

Count your Blessings, as we never know when they will be taken from us

I have struggled over the past couple of days wether I would share this on my blog and ultimately, I have decided to write a short post.
My 19 year old daughter and her boyfriend of 4+ years found themselves unexpectedly pregnant. After a short adjustment period we were all looking forward to welcoming a new member to the family. On Christmas day she had some serious difficulties. She was young and we all (including the Doctor's) hoped that she could recover and have a healthy baby.
Last week things took another turn for the worse and we were sent to Vancouver (8 hrs away) to the specialty maternity hospital. 
I am devastated to say that my grandson David Edward Doria Fletcher was born on Friday January 28 just after 4:00 PM (after 24 hrs of labour). He was just too young and far too small (355 grams) to fight and my daughter and her boyfriend's lives will be forever changed.
My heart was shattered watching their pain, and ultimately I could do nothing to take away their pain. I know time will allow them to heal as my words just do not seem adequate. All I have to offer them is my willingness to listen.
Please forgive me if I am absent from my blog for the immediate future. Thank you for understanding.

Friday, January 21, 2011

28 perfect reasons why I love my Accuquilt Studio Die Cutter

I cannot believe how amazing my brand new 1 1/2" giant strip die for my Accuquilt Studio cutter is!! It definitely made quick work of these little nine patches I am making for my 2011 Christmas quilt.
Inspiration came knocking on December 15 and it took the form of a Christmas quilt. So, I immediately started designing my Christmas quilt using Electric Quilt 6 (EQ6) and washed my fabric that very night. I was too inspired to wait for my 1 1/2" strip die that I had recently ordered from Accuquilt so I started cutting and piecing the 3" finished nine patches using my rotary cutter and regular chain piecing techniques. In a few days time I had cut and pieced 138 of my little nine patches. I was not completely dissatisfied with my production, but figured I should be able to get a little more done if I had the 1 1/2" strip die.
When my 1 1/2" studio strip die has arrived I figured it needs to be taken for a test drive and I knew exactly how to test it. Good thing I still needed to make 67 more little nine patches.
Here is a picture of all 138 little 3" finished nine patches:

When my giant 1 1/2" studio strip die arrived I figured it needed to be taken for a test drive and I knew exactly how to give it a good run for it's money. I guess it was a good thing that I still needed to make 67 more little nine patches.
Unfortunately I was not able to cut the 1 1/2" strips to make the strip sets as I had already cut those in my marathon rotary cutting event before the 1 1/2" strip die arrived. However, I knew I could use the die to sub-cut my strip sets into the units to make the nine patches.
Once I finished  piecing the strip units together, I pressed the seams toward the dark side on all three strip sets and then carefully aligned the strips crosswise on my 1 1/2" giant strip die.

After a few cranks of the handle I had 28 - 1 1/2" sections of each strip set for a total of 84 -1 1/2" units. Now that is what I call quick work with virtually no waste!!

28 - 1 1/2" units from each strip set means that I was able to use 42" of my strip sets, the only bits that were left behind were the salvedges and slivers from the fold lines.

A couple of hints that I I found useful in making my little nine patches:
  1. It is best to mark your dies with a silver sharpie as shown by Ebony Love of on several of her youtube videos. However, if you do not have a silver sharpie on hand a 12 1/2" ruler aligned along the dies blades will work until you can properly mark your strip dies.
  2. If you are a bit on the anal side (like myself) take the extra time to press in the folds of the strip sets before running the die through the cutter. Since I took the extra time to first carefully fold the strip sets on the die then took the folded strip set to the pressing area to set the folds with my steam iron then carefully placed the pressed strip set, realigning it with the ruler I had literally zero waste. It may seem like a waste of time, but it definitely increases your accuracy and decreases waste (which are both good things in my books). Besides, the Accuquilt die cutter just saved me at least 30 minutes of cutting, so in the big picture, what is an extra minute for pressing.
  3. Make one complete "test" block every time you start piecing a batch of blocks. This may sound silly but honestly, it can save you a lot of riping, aggravation and time. On my previous batch of nine patches my 1/4" setting on my computerized machine had gotten altered (too wide) without me realizing it until I went to square up 40+ nine patches. If I had done a test block I would not have had to spend the next night unsewing, or riping, or frogging. No matter what you call it, it is not what I call fun.

I love my Accuquilt Studio die cutter and here is a picture of my recently completed 28 perfect little nine patches:

I mentioned Ebony and her youtube videos; if you have not had a chance to watch her videos yet, I highly recommend them. She is a truely generous person of both her time and knowledge. It is due to the generosity of people just like her that make blogland such a wonderful place to visit.
I will post more information on my favourite Accuquilt videos and their generous makers soon, I promise.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The best things come in small packages

If I was a betting person, I would definitely bet against myself.
For as long as I can remember if there was a prize to be won, scratch ticket to win, number to be drawn; it definitely would not me mine.
There was a standing joke in my house growing up. If you wanted to win money on a scratch ticket give it to my brother. One Christmas he won three walkmen and well over $100.00. Of course, I didn't win a dime.
Well, 2011 might just be my year! It is definitely starting off well.
I joined a machine quilters group (INMQ) in Spokane, WA in the fall. This past weekend I drove down to Spokane to attend my second meeting. I have a friend who also belongs to INMQ so we have gone down together for the past two meetings. It is a great group and I am so happy I joined as there is nothing comparable in the area I live in. To me it is well worth the 2 1/2 hour drive (especially when I enjoy the company so much). The reason I am telling you about this is that at the last meeting I won the big doorprize. I am so used to my bad luck that I didn't even check my ticket when they called the number. They actually had to call it twice and then my friend said "that is the person who came in right after me". Hello Lisa, that is you. Good thing I decided to check my ticket; because my prize is a subscription to a fabulous quilting magazine called Machine Quilting Unlimited. If you have not seen it you really should check it out.
Well fast forward to today and I am the excited winner of a beautiful charm pack from Elyte over at
Can you belive how generous she is giving away a gifft for her first anniversary! The ideas are already percolating. I will be sure to share with you what becomes of this charm pack.
Thanks again Elyte

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Anyone out there in blogland interested in a half-square triangle exchange?

I am organizing my very first block exchange. It is a little intimidating, but yet so very exciting all at the same time.
I have really wanted to participate in a half-square triangle block exchange for quite some time.
I talked to a few quilting friends at my guild last fall and they seemed to be interested, but nothing developed. I asked the local quilt shop owner, but once again, nothing developed. Ultimately, I figured that if I really wanted this half-square triangle exchange to come to fruition I would have to stop talking about it and start doing something about it. After all, it was me that really wanted this half-square triangle exchange to take place. If I do remember correctly, in my very first blog post, I did state that I wanted to be more accountable and ultimately more productive this year. I think this exchange will be a good step in that direction.
Therefore, I am organizing a local half-square triangle exchange.
I live in a small town and our guild has less than 30 members so trying to drum up interest has proven quite difficult. Let me put it this way, when your own mother makes an attempt to bail on you (after enthusiastically agreeing to participate just last month) the exchange's future is not looking very prosperous.

I really want this exchange to be successful, so I started thinking, where can I find interested quilters who love block exchanges. Of course, the internet!!! And where better than Blogland to get the word out there.
I have met so many wonderful quilters through different quilting forums, the internet has made my quilting community so much bigger and better. It is fabulous getting to know other like minded individuals, and the internet has provided me that opportunity.

Therefore, I would like to extend an invitation to any interested quilters in Blogland to join in my half-square triangle exchange. HST Exchange for short.
In honour of Valentine's Day we will be making Red and Cream 2 1/2" unfinished half square triangles using half-square triangle paper.

Normally, I use Brenda Henning's Triangulation 2.0 program to make my own half-square triangles and I highly recommend the program. It is the only way to ensure a large amount of accurate half-square triangles in a relatively small amount of time. In my quest for perfection in my own piecing I have spent far too much time unstitching. I have never had to unstitch my work when using this method. That alone is worth more than I can possibly convey in words. After all I believe that most quilters are far too busy to spend their precious time unstitching, we all prefer to spend our time being productive and enjoying our quilting. If quilting becomes a chore, it loses it's magic.
Here is a link to a video on youtube demonstrating Triangulations half-square triangle papers:

The Triangulations program I have does both half-square tiangles in sizes 1/2" to 7 1/2" and quarter-square triangles in sizes 3/4" to 7 1/2" in 1/8" increments.
However, I was on Brenda's website yesterday and saw that she has a new Triangulation 3.0 program available that includes flying geese along with the half-square and quarter-square triangles. Too cool, that Brenda is definitely one smart cookie!

Here is the link to the program on Brenda's website:

Since Triangulations it is a liscenced program I do not believe that I have the right to distribute her papers to the half-square triangle exchange participants; therefore, I will be drafting my own half-square triangle papers so that we will not break any copyright laws.

I stitched out a few test pages in order to write the directions for the HST exchange participants and would like to share a few of my own favourite tips & techniques for easy accurate results:
  1. I always use Magic Sizing to stabilize my fabrics especially after they have been washed!! If the fabric seems to have less body than usual I will also use a bit of starch to give it more body and stability.
  2. I always tear my fabric to ensure it is on grain then I use a quick spray of Magic Sizing and a burst of steam along with a quick press to stabilize the rippled edge.
  3. The actual required finished size of the 12 half-square triangles is 5 3/4"x8 5/8" but you definitely need to give yourself enough extra fabric in each direction to allow for proper alignment I cut pieces that were 6 1/4" x 9" with that I had very little waste. However, you can definitely be more generous with your cuts if that makes you more comfortable. 
  4. I tore my fabric into 9" strips then cut those strips into 6 1/4"x9" units 
  5. Because the outside edges of the triangle paper will be cut off and discarded I did not even cut off the torn edge of fabric
  6. Remember to put the light fabric against the paper, as that will assist you in pressing the units open later 
  7. I like to use really low tack (inexpensive) painter's tape to hold the fabric in place on the paper rather than pins. Pins distort, and the tape does not. I have tried using staples in the past and they work also, but the painter's tape is much easier to remove.
  8. A short stitch length of 1.5 on my sewing machine made easy paper perforation and paper removal.
  9. I sewed on the line using my stitch in the ditch foot (on my Bernina it is foot #5) or on my Janome I used my Accufeed stitch in the ditch foot.
  10. You can aggressively finger press the opening with your thumbnail or a wooden pressing tool. Do not iron with the paper on! The seam will be automatically pressed to the darker fabric if you placed the lighter fabric against the paper.
  11. Once the units are finger pressed open you can remove the papers by securely holding the seam allowance with your finger and thumb to stabilize the seam tug the paper off from the center so you do not dislodge the edge stitches.
  12. I give the units a press with my steam iron and a little magic Sizing to stabilize the raw edges.
I timed myself when I was sewing the triangle papers and it took less than 5 minutes to complete each page of 12 units, and I am by no means a speedy piecer. So you can see that this method makes quick work of turning out accurate half-square units.

Hope you find this information helpful,


Friday, January 14, 2011

Small Accomplishments for a not so bright girl

Spoiler Alert!!!

If your name is Doodlebug AKA Shannon and you do not want to ruin your surprise please do not read this post!!!!

Everyone else, please proceed to our regularly scheduled post.

When your only follower asks, so sweetly, to help her out with her Birthday quilt how could you possibly refuse. After all, she is my only blog friend and I would like to keep her!

Shannon designed a block for her Birthday quilt and asked that her blog readers sew that block using her favourite color choices and mail it off to her before her Birthday.

Right after reading her post I decided, I can do that, have it finished and in the mail tomorrow......well, that was a nice thought. The piecing was easy, and her instructions were excellent as usual. However, the stumbling point for me was the fabric choices. Shannon is a bright girl and that shows in her color choices!!!
Apparently, I am a not so bright kind of girl, at least as far as color choice go.
I had to do a lot of searching for fabrics in my stash that would work. I found a small selection of fabrics that I thought would work, then to decide which brights played well together. The first block was easy for me to choose fabrics for. The second one made of batiks (which Shannon loves) pushed me right out of my comfort zone. However, if I am a betting person, I think she will like the batik more. I definitely prefer the purple block. Here it is, the color is off, the purple is not as blue as it appears in the image:

Here is the bright orange and green batik block that pushed me out of my comfort zone:

This image is a little better representation of the colors in the blocks:

So the question I ask of you is:
Are you a bright quilter like Shannon, or are you a not so bright quilter like me?

Sunday, January 9, 2011


It is a brand new year.

A new year, in many ways is like a new beginning, full of promise, full of hope, the possibility of change and re-invention. However, that being said, a new year is only as promising as you choose to make it. After all, I am the only person capable of changing my life and ultimately myself.

I have been very frusterated with my lack of production this past year, and in an effort to increase my productivity, I am creating this blog Misadventures in Quilting.

Now my lack of productivity can be the result of several causes.
My first stumbling block is my constant quest for perfection. Some days I seem to rip out more stitches than I keep.
The second cause of my lack of productivity, in at least my opinion, is my complete lack of accountability. There is no one I have to answer to, no boss, no deadlines, therefore, no pressure to complete anything. You see when I worked full time I had a supervisor to which I had to be very accountable, and I always got things done.
The last obvious cause of my lack of production can be directly related to my health. You see, if you do not have good health, nothing else seems to matter.

Now, my plan to increase my productivity is to first of all stop my ridiculous quest for perfection. After all, I am far from perfect so why on earth should I expect my quilting to be perfect.
Secondly, I am relying on my blog to make me accountable to someone in some form or another.
Lastly, I plan to do everything in my power to be healthy in 2011 and beyond.

So, dear blog, thank you for helping me become a better me.