Friday, December 2, 2016

christmas is coming...


Christmas is coming and my beloved M. pointed out that I am the only quilter he's knows who has never made a holiday quilt. I've pulled out some gifted Cotton & Steel Tinsel and a few shirtings to make him one. We'll see whether it ends up for napping on the sofa or sleeping on our bed. The size will be dictated by ever diminishing free time and patience:)

It's a really easy pattern. You take 5" squares and cut half of them in half. Snowball those rectangles and make matching cornerstones out of 2 1/2" squares. Stars emerge at the intersections. This pattern has been around for years. It is simple to sew and very visually effective. There are many written tutorials but MSQC posted a great video one here...

Hope it will be a nice surprise. M. LOVES Christmas. Normally fairly restrained, if he had his way our home would look like this one...


And so the happy season begins where the dining room table is in a constant state of this:


With the end result of these! Is everyone else gearing up for their holidays?


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

crazy quilt...



Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends and relatives! Here is a fascinating American antique quilt from 1888 made up of disparate but interesting pieces forming a beautiful whole...



Friday, October 28, 2016

indigo...


I was called for week long jury duty for the first time. It was fascinating to see how the justice system works but also kind of stressful. Not sure how people who sit on really gruesome and lengthy cases come out the other end. Gratefully, my group avoided a trial. Apparently 80% never make it that far as the defendant can change their plea at any time. Court is a sad place- there's a lot of pain and suffering within its walls...

As a reward, I treated myself to some of Debbie Maddy's beautiful Japanese-inspired Shibori line. Am thinking of mixing all my blue & white prints including some European, other Asian and smaller scale African shweshwe fabrics. There are some Australian prints that might work too. Blue & white is a such a classic combo in every culture. If I can pull it off without creating a jumbled mess the quilt will be truly global...


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

thailand...



Found a new source for beautiful and unusual cottons as well as buttons and closures. These are from Thailand purchased on Etsy from Gaye at Notionally Better. They are lightweight wovens which means they are completely reversible. By weight, they remind me of the Kaffe Fassett shot cottons. Not sure whether they are going to be clothing or used in a summer weight quilt. Stay tuned...

#sewing #makethings

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

broken dishes blocks...



Have officially crossed from being an erratic blogger to a truly MIA one. I blame Instagram which has a very appealing immediacy. It's sad because I enjoy reading in more detail what everyone is up to but there seems to be less and less time in the day to do so.

Moving along, here are my finished blocks for the 2016 Broken Dishes Swap. They need a bit of a clean up and then will be mailed off hopefully this afternoon. I'm really looking forward to seeing what colour combinations the other participants make theirs up in. It will be so much fun to play with all of the blocks I get back. Thanks again to Barb for her efforts in organizing this annual swap!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

broken dishes...



Yes, I am still alive. It has been a bustling summer with a continuous stream of nephews, godsons and other male strays visiting- boys, boys and more boys. In spite of my best lectures on gender stereotypes and trying new creative ventures, not a single one would sew with me:) The machine has been idle. We've been having fun outdoors 24/7.

Am behind on a few projects but still decided to join Barb's Broken Dishes Swap. Really enjoyed participating in the last one and I think there are still spaces in the Modern swap sewn with solids. It's a versatile block and it is always fun to see the different ways everyone puts theirs together. Email to join!

Inspiration comes from this 1930's quilt made of almost 3,000 half square triangles and mainly feedsack fabrics. Absolutely LOVE the orange border...

Hope everyone is similarly busy and having a good time!




Wednesday, July 27, 2016

stags and hounds...


I've lots to catch up on. Am behind but diligently working on my BOM and took a wonderful workshop with one of my quilt idols last week but feel so saddened by the news in our crazy world that writing about quilting seems a bit trivial. Found this beautiful 1870's antique quilt that sums up it all up perfectly. Reminiscent of Matisse's paper collages, the appliqued upper half portrays a peaceful scene of a tree of life surrounded by flying doves. The lower depicts deer being hunted by hounds.  Can't think of a better image in fabric depicting the duality of light and dark/beauty and horror in our lives these days...


Le Cauchemar de l'elephant- Matisse



Saturday, July 16, 2016

alabama UPDATE...



 

In my previous post, I wrote about my desire to draft the pattern for a particularly challenging antique quilt. Well the amazing Jeanneke has already drafted this block including templates in 8", 6" and 4" sizes. Even better she is offering these patterns as PDFs free for download!!! Thank you so much J. for your efforts and generosity:) :) :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

alabama star...


Barbara Brackman's latest blog post is about the most beautiful star quilt from Alabama that a friend of hers is restoring. You know it is rare when the most noted quilt historian living has never seen the pattern before. This is one of those antique quilts that gets your heart racing. I'm determined to unlock this quilts piecing secrets and above is my first hand rendering of the geometry. Time to get out the rulers and the dreaded compass. Pattern draft challenge accepted...


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

gwen marston online...


Am super busy and back in that undesirable place where I'm reading about and watching sewing more than actually doing any. Having said that, am so excited to find that Gwen Marston has two online classes at iQuilt! They are called "Abstract Quilts" and "Liberated Quilt-Making" each available for the bargain price of $34.95 or less if you are a member. I received a 25% off coupon by email so signing up was a no brainer. GM is one of my idols and my odds of taking a workshop with her in person are far less than watching her late at night in the comfort of my own home. Am so excited as I'm sure they will be amazing...



Thursday, May 26, 2016

happy days BOM block #2...



Here is my second block for month 4 of Sarah Fielke's Happy Days BOM. You'd think after all the applique, piecing a block would be a relief but sewing late at night it is not as accurate as I'd like. It was fun to make even if some of the points are a bit haphazard. It's a pretty busy quilt so hopefully mistakes won't be too noticeable. Am working on the final block for the month and will be all caught up:) It's such a fun project! Love seeing all the different versions...

#sarahfielkebom

Sunday, May 15, 2016

month 4 Happy Days BOM...


To me the most intimidating block of Happy Days BOM month 4 is the Hawaiian-ish applique block so I decided to make this one first. It took forever and I'm glad my hand sewing speed will never be a matter of life or death...


The wreathes are almost finished. By mistake, I used a leaf template that is slightly rounder than Sarah's. It is almost identical in size and since over 60 leaves are already sewn am going to leave them as they are. On to the next two blocks for this month!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

can't get away from the quilting...


When I started sewing it was all about garment making. Realized how much quilting has taken over when I pulled out my serger/overlocker this week and it was somewhat alien to work with. I'm taking this great course online to try to invigorate my wardrobe. Bought a bunch of knit fabric only to notice afterwards how incredibly "quilty" all the prints are!

Above is Hilco's "Pomona" which is very evocative of modern patchwork. Hilco knits are beautiful quality German fabrics which can be hard to source in North America. Am thrilled to find a Canadian company L'oiseau Fabrics (that's The Bird in English) specializing in European fabrics of many kinds. While predominantly catering to sewing for children this site has some beautiful options for adults. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with dressing like an oversized toddler. They are not inexpensive so I'm cutting up and reconstructing some cheap t-shirts to practice before I cut into the good stuff...

May end up looking like a moving QuiltCon entry!


Lastly, to a very special person... Happy Mother's Day!!! xox

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

tiny star tutorial...


Had a few email questions about how I'm sewing my 2" stars and how on earth they could actually be easy so thought I'd post about how to make them. There are lots of funny coincidences that led to the start of what ambitiously will be a star quilt and not a cushion cover:)

My obsession with a certain antique quilt is well documented. Imagine my surprise to find it in the background of Anita Grossman Soloman in her Craftsy class! More exciting is that in this class she teaches a method of making stars without making geese. Using a paper template for cutting (not foundation piecing) she shows how to make a 6" inch star block. Before I was sewing stars this way which also works but requires more time, trimming and sewing prep. Both methods are effective but I wanted to modify and engineer an even faster method to make a much smaller star. I'm essentially a lazy and stressed sewer with little spare time these days...


Realized that instead of trying to reverse calculate and scale AGS's paper template technique down to get the size I wanted, I could use my die cutter specifically the 1 1/2" half square triangle and the 2 1/8" square dies to cut fabric and make hundreds of pieces for "square in a square" blocks very quickly. (If you don't have an Accuquilt or Sizzix simply cut layers of two 2 3/8" squares and slice them once on the diagonal for the triangles and cut 2 5/8" squares on point for the center.)

 

To make the block, sew each triangle in opposing pairs to the sides of the squares. Finger press the seams open to reduce bulk...


At this point the block is 3 1/2". Now comes the magic. You make cuts through the block and reverse the pointed pieces that have become flying geese. I learned this in the AGS class, but have been informed that Jenny Doan also uses this method in some of her MSQC tutorials for much larger blocks. I calculated that with 4 1" cuts around the perimeter my finished star would end up 2". A spinning or small easily turned mat is essential for this part.

 

After making a bunch,  swap the components to make different stars.

 

Finger press the seam allowances in the top and bottom rows towards the outer squares and the two flying geese blocks in the second row towards the center square. Everything nests together beautifully and can be sewn chain piecing 10 blocks at a time with no pins.

I'm mixing up all the prints randomly so that the top is not overly designed and am enjoying the surprise of each finished block. Some are more successful than others. Making these stars is actually quite fast and tremendously addictive. Guess you could call Mary Elizabeth Kinch a bad influence:)



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

mary elizabeth kinch...


In March I went to a lecture presented by Mary Elizabeth Kinch. She is a madly creative quilter fascinated by both modern and antique designs. Her passion for quilting was ignited by working as a textile arts demonstrator at a local pioneer village. She's also quilted with the Gee's Bend women and counts Gwen Marston as a friend and mentor.


Mary Elizabeth is most well known for her obsession with quilts made of tiny blocks. With Biz Storms she is the author of "Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts" and "Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts" . These are both inspiring and beautiful books with superb patterns and instructions for sewing in such a small scale. Her use of color is also interesting. She uses a variety of fairly subdued fabrics but the effect is never dull. There is a great deal of movement almost a visual shimmer in all the tops.  MEK also designs for Windham fabrics and her "Modern Country" line is a fresh take on traditional small scale prints.


Not only are they technical wonders, her quilts are gorgeous. It was a really interesting evening and you could spend hours examining her work. Her blog is great too, filled with her pieces and she often posts stunning vintage finds as well. Lastly, while Mary Elizabeth seems perfectly sane, this is a woman who thinks any block over 3 inches is large?!

Seeing her work gives me the push to continue making my version of the antique quilt I wrote about last year. This is the 1800's quilt I'm attempting to re-create...


and here are some of the stars that will finish at 2". It may take years...


Thursday, March 31, 2016

month 3 Happy Days BOM...


Have prepped this month's Happy Days BOM blocks. They do look a little clumsy because the seam allowances are not turned under yet and some of the pieces placement needs adjusting This background is quite lemony compared to the others and makes the chevrons of the repeating stars look quite orange. The common wisdom is that you shouldn't mix cool and warm yellows nor use much of it but I don't see why. So far the experiment to learn to love yellow is working. I'm liking this quilt's sunniness now that the grey days of winter have been replaced by the grey days of spring. Have you heard similar rules about yellow? Do you break them?


Saturday, March 19, 2016

worldwide quilting day...


Today is "Worldwide Quilting Day" and to celebrate here is a rare and undated quilt that best embodies patchwork today. It is traditional and yet graphically modern. It is a timeless mix of pattern and space. Very few examples of this Bullseye pattern have been documented and they all seem to come from a tiny town in Pennsylvania. I hope whether you identify as a traditional, contemporary and/or modern quilter you find some time today, by hand or by machine, to sew something beautiful...

 


Monday, March 14, 2016

leaves, leaves and more leaves...


Cut and prepped almost 80 leaves to applique on 8 and a quarter half wreathes for my Sarah Fielke "Happy Days BOM" . Applique is not my strong suit but I'm hoping that by the end of this portion my skills are much improved. The star block for this month was also quite challenging. So far I'm learning to love yellow which was one of my personal challenges for this quilt. It is relentlessly cheerful...


Saturday, March 5, 2016

hooked rug...


Here is a hooked rug from the early 1900's. It is such a great inspiration for a quilt. The stripes can be made from scraps, pieced strips, old shirts or prints. It is also a great project to practice sewing partial seams. This idea might bump up on my "To Do" list...


Sunday, February 21, 2016

pennants...


I found this really cool quilt made of souvenir pennants on 1stdibs. It is such an original use of textiles that might otherwise end up in the garbage after their sentimental appeal was lost. The colours and typefaces make a beautiful and graphic design. I've seen quilts made of other unconventional fabrics such as dish towels, work clothing, bandanas and even candy wrappers. This quilt  inspires me to try something similar with a box of horse show ribbons from younger days. Need to figure out the best way to sew them- foundation piecing? What's the most unusual material you've ever used or seen?