Saturday, August 30, 2014

A quilty quest

Today my mom and I spent a lovely Saturday following a barn quilt trail in Oxford County. There's a great site for Ontario barn quilt trails that includes maps and an explanation of the blocks tied into that area's history. It was really fascinating.

The trail started with Right Hand of Friendship, chosen because the people of the predominantly rural community are welcoming. This quilt was on a shelter for the horses out in the pasture.

Next was Path Through the Woods, symbolizing the dense forests the early settlers of the area had to tame. They created roads from paths through the woods, felling thousands of trees to establish farms and villages. The county's motto is a nod to the hard work of the first settlers: "Labour Conquers All Things."

This block is called Cock's Comb because a rooster and chickens were an essential part of a settler's belongings. A cow and her baby came to check on the interlopers.

This barn was actually a business. One that really seemed to like brown. Not all the quilts were especially inspiring colourwise, nor always in a scenic setting. This one is called Arrowhead Puzzle, honouring the area's First Nations. Oxford County was home to many First Nation villages, including a sprawling Iroquoian one not far from this spot dating back to 1,400.

And not all the barn quilts were on barns. Roads to the Station commemorates the coming of the railroad to the area.

New Water Wheel sits near a creek that powered a nearby pea and barley mill built in 1878. Now it's an inn.

Patch Log Cabin represents the first building in Tillsonburg, a two-room log cabin.

Gotta love a classic churn dash block, especially on this great old red barn. I love the faded cow paintings on this dairy farm barn, complete with cat.

This Envelope Motif block represents rural mail delivery finally coming to the township in 1911.

This Church Window was on the site of the African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery, founded by free Blacks who made their way here as early as 1829. Feeling accepted and safe here, the area became a terminus for fugitives travelling the Underground Railroad.

The Grist Mill block sat on a tranquil mill pond, not far from where a mill was built in 1807 and the constructed in 1845 still stands. This area attracted Quakers, free Blacks and escaped slaves.

This barn quilt, and barn, was probably my favourite. The block is called Weathervane because being able to forecast the weather was a talent many settlers developed. Early barns were decorated with a weathervane and lightning rods to help. I loved the bright colours on the quilt and door against the rusty metal roof and grey building.

Tobacco farms are still plentiful here. I'm not sure why, but I've always liked the look of the drying buildings. There's something about their roughness that's appealing. Or maybe the uniformity, especially when there's row upon row. I guess those boring, sterile-looking white ones in the back are the new generation.

This quilt - Tobacco Road - goes perfectly with the rust-coloured shutters and deep green walls. Some of them were so suited to their spot.

Some of the barns were definitely less bucolic. This one is called Corn and Beans, because the four brothers owning this farm grow traditional crops of corn and soybeans.

The Wagon Wheel stands in front of the historical society, representing the journey of early Quakers who settled in the area.

This Friendship Block honours two families who came to the county together among the original settlers.

Another classic block, Dutchman's Puzzle was perfect for this apple farm established by a couple from the Netherlands in 1956. Many Dutch settled in Oxford County as early as 1946.

Finally we found the Farmer's Daughter barn quilt - a pop of colour on a pretty boring barn.

I spotted something I've never seen before - a field of millet. This stuff looks like something out of Dr. Seuss' imagination. Weird.

We had to stop to get a picture when we saw this field farmed by Mennonites. It's not too often anymore you see straw stacked like this using only elbow grease and rudimentary farming equipment. Now that is some tough work, especially on a hot and muggy day when we were very thankful for the a/c.

It was a lovely afternoon driving through the countryside. We saw the barn quilts, picked up a few things we didn't need but couldn't resist at a lovely fabric shop, enjoyed a tasty lunch at the cutest little restaurant and just had a wonderful day together with so many serene views.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Belated binding

Finally I finished the binding on my table runner started and almost finished - gasp - back in January. This poor project just kept getting bumped to the bottom of the priority list. Maybe because the starting was so much fun - a crafty weekend with crafty friends. Stitching solo wasn't quite as appealing.

I used all Piper by Dear Stella. I love the maple keys and spindly wildflowers. My three crafty friends all used the same pattern, but with wildly different fabrics for totally different looks.

Boy it feels good to finally cross this off my to-do list!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tough to let go

Quilting and construction was done on this pillow in a frenzy of weekend sewing, yet I've been dragging my feet on the super simple step of picking up a pillow form. I think my delay was because I knew then I'd have to give it away to the person I made it for. Ever have that dilemma you've made something you love so much that it's tough to let go? It looks so pretty here on the bench in my front hall, where my bright pink and perfectly matching purse usually sits.

But I know the recipient - my oldest sister recovering from a nasty spill off her horse - will love it just as much. It's super cushy and wonderfully cheery - perfect for a pick-me-up, don't you think?

I made the back with the three shades of pink, including a nice wide cuff in the lightest fabric. This was actually the first pillow cover I've ever made, so I found some guidance in this tutorial. It went together so fast and easy! Which makes me think I should finally get around to making those pillows for my couch I planned and bought fabric for eons ago when I first started sewing.

The front has a lovely crinkle from the wash. This shot makes me think of a sunset in Hawaii.

This quilt was really a milestone for me and that's what I love about it most. The design is virtually my own creation and it turned out just as I imagined. I'm still a pretty green quilter, but now I have some confidence to venture beyond patterns. Be bold!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Milestone to celebrate

I've made a bunch of mini quilts before, but this is my first miniature quilt. So many teeny pieces - 140 1.25" squares! I marvelled at all those seams on the back, and couldn't help but snap a photo.

I love how it turned out. Thimbleblossoms really has lovely patterns. I'm now braving a mini swoon - 8" blocks, which is practically chunky next to the Rise and Shine mini blocks at 4.5".

The quilt was a gift for a dear friend who celebrated her 40th birthday this weekend. Her husband organized a surprise dinner party and what a lovely evening! From the start I envisioned the cheery quilt as being the perfect spot for a bouquet of flowers, and I paired it with a crystal vase filled with bright blooms.

Happy Birthday Miss C!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Star bright

I finished the quilting on my pink star block and I love how it turned out. This mini just makes me so happy!

I was just going to do pink diagonal straight lines in one direction, but then I wanted to highlight the big star and started adding lines across the middle of that. As I went out, I spaced the lines further apart. I used a slightly darker pink thread for that quilting (which shows up better in the first photo).

Now to make it into a pillow.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My first medallion

Fresh off the high of the Sea Breeze mini quilt-along, I joined another. This is a mystery quilt-along hosted by Clover & Violet where we're making a mini medallion. I have Elizabeth Hartman's amazing Aviatrix Medallion on my long crafty to-do list, so I thought this would be a great way to get started.

It all starts with the medallion centre, with a fussy cut flower and butterfly. (Please excuse this poor first photo. Yet again I was doing some late-night sewing and super eager to join the quilt-along on Instagram, I snapped a quick picture with my phone and neglected to get a better one in daylight.)

When I picked up a FQ bundle of Arcadia, I earmarked it for this project (then dipped into it for another mini). But I decided to go out of my comfort zone a bit this time and add in other fabrics, rather than just rely on using co-ordinating ones from the same collection. Daring for me!

For the centre, I added some dark teal with metallic highlights from the Botanics line and wee squares of Cotton + Steel basics in gold with metallic too. (It was so tough to cut into that prized fabric - even just a few 1.5" squares!) The first border got awesome green polka dots to pair up with the butterflies. Can't go wrong with polka dots!

The second border brought back the teal for the flying geese to go with an Arcadia print, then I decided to go for a bright blue background from my stash. What's hard to see in the photo is the corners are a slightly lighter blue - a necessity because I was two squares short of the 32 needed for the flying geese. Two - unbelievable! Oh and the Cotton + Steel gold reappears because, to be honest, I made a little oopsy cutting the border. (A quarter-inch too narrow - how did that happen!?!)

So what do you think? Do all the fabrics work together? The beauty of the medallion is that as you add borders, no particular fabric stands out.

If you're looking for a low-pressure quilt-along to join, this is a good one. There's a new step posted only once a month. I caught up on the first three months in three days, so now I'm chomping at the bit for the next installment! And I learned a new skill too with the nifty overlapping first border. I'll certainly be using that again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back in business

Finally I got back to my City Sampler blocks after a long hiatus since spring. A forced hiatus really because I got too far ahead on the monthly goal set with my friend who's also making the 100 blocks. Today I made 10, putting me up to a total of 60. More than half way there!

Some in the triangle chapter are definitely more fussy. But I don't ever mind making a block no matter how many teeny pieces or seams since I know there's just one to make.

Too bad I'm running out of these birds to fussy cut.

These fabrics are a bit too similar to see the design well.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pretty in pink

I am over-the-moon in love with this mini! After I finished the piecing, I honest stood there for a while admiring my work and smiling. Silly, I know.

But this is the first time I started with a pattern and then really made it my own. And I love every bit of it! There isn't a thing I would change and I don't know about other crafty people, but that's rare for me. Usually there's at least one teeny thing that I would do differently if I did it again. But not this beauty!

I sketched out what I wanted to do, and then made a new cutting list for my design. If you can believe it, these two minis below are actually made from the same pattern. What a difference fabric choice and placement makes!

My new-found quilting boldness came from the quilt-along I recently joined and, amazingly, won a prize in! Now I joke I have a prize-winning quilt! (It doesn't really count if you pester friends and family to vote for you.) I was just blown away by all the amazing variations on the pattern and wished I thought a bit more creatively for my version. I altered the pattern a bit for the quilt-along, but this time around I created something truly new and unique. And I couldn't be happier with it! Just looking at it makes me smile.