Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Crafty photo acrobatics

A quilt photo assistant sure would be handy sometimes. Instead I had to spread this quilt top on the grass, run back inside before the wind caught it and perch on the ledge outside my sliding doors to get all of this in frame. And now I'm realizing I really should have got a close-up because you can't see the background is teeny multicoloured polka dots. Sigh.

This pinwheel quilt came together pretty quickly in a week of not even concentrated sewing. But now I think it will have to go out for quilting because it's a bit too unwieldy for me to handle on my machine at 71” x 54.5". I was thinking swirls, like wind blowing through the pinwheels.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend round-up

This was a busy weekend packed with sewing, cooking, cycling, shopping and lots more. I'm not sure how I fit it all in!

Let's start with two new soups I made in the slow-cooker, both I'd recommend because they're simple and tasty. Both are those great slow-cooker recipes where you don't need to brown anything, just dump it all in and let it simmer. First up on Saturday was vegetarian lasagna soup. This was super tasty. I added extra veggies because why not? A spoonful of a ricotta and mozzarella cheese mixture on top makes it even better. The last few leaves of basil from my herb garden were stirred into the cheesy goodness.

Then Sunday I made chicken enchilada soup. Mmm! I topped it with a dollop of sour cream, minced red onions and cilantro and had some blue corn chips on the side. Instead of canned corn, I picked up a few fresh ears from a nearby farm. That tastes so fresh and it's wonderfully crisp. On Sunday I also pedalled to a few kilometres shy of doubling my cycling distance from 2012. Tomorrow I'll pass 3,100K. Woohoo!

Although I have several sewing projects on the go, I just had to make this Cat Star block that popped up on Instagram when I realized how perfect suited the Cotton + Steel kitties were for the design. I also got bold and cut into my Essex linen, which was really nice to work with. I love how it turned out - especially the odd kitty peeking in from the corner. I think I'll make it into a pillow.

I also finished the binding on a baby quilt for a friend, whose baby shower is next week. That counts as working way ahead in the crafty world - done a whole week before the deadline! There was even time for wash before the photoshoot.

A strip of the leftover bits add some interest to the back.

This was the first time I quilted with Aurifil and I think the bright pink looks great with the more muted shades of the top. The kitty fabric (Here Kitty Kitty by Clothworks) really is lovely, very light-weight and almost silky. Now I see the appeal of making a quilt out of voile. That would feel like heaven!

I also finished my pinwheel quilt top, but it was dark by the time I sewed on the last border and the grass was too dewy this morning. I'll post a photo later.

I love this shot of my progress on my mini quilt swap. So much colour! So many teeny pieces!

I put a halt on all my works in progress, including the swap mini, when I reluctantly had to part with my sewing machine after it went cuckoo bonkers and a tune-up became a necessity. Hopefully it will be home very soon. My mom was kind enough to lend me her travel machine (likely sensing the desperation in my voice when I said my machine would be gone for at least two weeks. Two weeks!) Knowing each machine has a slightly different idea of a scant 1/4" seam, I thought it best to work on new projects like the pinwheels that I could start and finish on the borrowed machine.

And boy do I have a bunch of projects on the go! I recently joined a block of the month club for the Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt. The first four blocks are done (I should really get a picture of those to share) and soon October's fabric should arrive. I'm also waiting on a gifted collection of Aurifil to get started on the quilting for a couple more baby quilts. What a treat - thanks Miss C!

Friday, September 12, 2014

So long, triangles

I just wrapped up the triangles chapter in Tula Pink's City Sampler book. And thank goodness! Adding HST into the blocks definitely slowed down the sewing. With these 10 done, I'm now up to 70. Getting closer to 100! Good thing too, since the stack of Laura Gunn fabrics is getting slim.

I guess I liked this combo below, since I used the exact same for almost the exact same block later.

This one was a beast - 30 pieces in a 6.5 inch block. Crazytown!

I am loving the green here:

Another chapter done! Although it's hard to imagine a time when I won't be working on these blocks. They're such a fun diversion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Swap mania

I recently joined a mini quilt swap on Instagram and immediately my mind started racing with ideas for what to make for my partner. No sooner did I seem settled, then I scrapped the idea and had a new one. I bought a bundle of Anna Maria Horner FQs, but it just wasn't bright enough. Then I kept waffling on the pattern.

Finally I am certain with this:

I picked out vibrant pink and purple prints, which I'll combine with this striking black crosshatch. They'll all go into a classic Jacob's Ladder block, which jumped out at me while looking at the guide to local barn quilts trails. I think it's gonna look awesome!

As part of the swap, we were supposed to make a mosaic of inspiration for our partners to post on IG. Here's mine with lots of bright colours and bold patterns. There are even a few of my past, present and future quilts in there (Sea Breeze mini done, Tula's 100 Blocks in progress, and Park Bench on my to-do list), and some of my stashed fabric (Cotton + Steel, Meadow).

It's lots of fun to follow the swap on IG, seeing people's mosaics and the ideas they're playing with for their mini. Because it's a secret swap, nobody knows who's making a mini for them so it will be a big surprise at the end. I was super excited when this swap came up because there are so many on IG and as only a recent IGer I have been jealously following all the posts when people's packages arrive. So many amazing creations! I jumped at the chance to get in on this one, along with 559 other people. It's big! Although I've got lots on the go, including a few projects with firm deadlines which makes me feel a bit squirrely, this is nothing but fun. Now that I have the pattern and fabric, I can't wait to get started.

Growing medallion

Today I finally finished the third border on my mini medallion after a few busy days when I just had a bit of time to sew here and there. Love those snowballs! I picked a plain grey for the first strip, then a crosshatch grey for the snowball background. I love how it's coming together! And I think the blue background looks really good now. I was worried it was a bit too bright before adding this latest border.

Making the snowballs was time consuming, starting with cutting 96 1.5" squares and drawing a diagonal line on each one. I've never made snowballs before, so I learned something new which is always nice. Before adding the last two snowball strips here was a step to square up the medallion and I was quite pleased to find mine was exactly perfect - no adjustments needed. Now to wait until next month for the next border!

I posted photos recently of the first blooms on my Rose of Sharon and I was surprised to see the next few that opened are purple. Purple and pink flowers on one bush, go figure!

The blooms are so bright and delicate and lovely. I often make a detour to the backyard with my dog after our walk just to admire them.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Today I had my family over for dinner to celebrate my impending birthday. I stuck with a Mexican theme, serving up Queso Chicken Chili and Mexican chopped salad using lots of fresh ingredients.

I've made the slow-cooker chili before and it is very tasty, extra so this time with corn fresh off the cob (a bit of a messy endeavour) that I picked up at a nearby farm yesterday. Then this salad I found online was so delicious! So fresh and crisp and light. And how lovely! Like a plate of summer.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Worth the wait

Finally the first blooms opened on my Rose of Sharon this week! Talk about a late bloomer, since it's now September. The plants were given to me from an avid gardener's overgrown garden last year, two little spindly things that barely grew last summer and I didn't think would make it through the harsh winter.

This spring after the thick layer of snow melted and they emerged, one looked like it was barely holding on while the other was nothing but a gnarled stick. I nearly pulled it out, but slowly a few leaves emerged. I've been watching them closely all summer looking for signs of the first flowers, and finally about a week ago little splashes of colour emerged from a few buds. Then today I caught a glimpse of pink petals from the living room window and raced to the backyard, camera in hand. So pretty!

So far there are just three flowers, but plenty more buds - even on the smaller plant. I hope there's plenty of time for them to bloom, and me to admire, before the cool fall weather settles in.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Busy weekend

This Labour Day long weekend was a busy one. Saturday I followed a barn quilt trail with my mom and then I got down to some serious sewing.

First up was finishing my mini Swoon. Those blocks are lovely, but also super fiddly. Adding the zigzag fabric into the mix nearly broke my brain. But it turned out so nicely with this fabric, PB & J that I've been holding onto for the perfect project. The grey has a beige undertone that I only got because it was in a bundle of grey Kona solids. I thought I'd never have a use for it, but it was just right for this fabric. All the other greys were too grey. Go figure.

I finally got back to my baby quilt bonanza. I cut out these five-inch blocks of the most adorable kitty fabrics a while back. Enough for two quilts actually, once I added the pink and grey. I like how the greys tone it down so it's not over-the-top cute with the pink and kitties.

Those kitties sure are adorable. Of course I love the Siamese cats. Quilting will be in order soon, since I now have three baby quilt tops ready to go.

A friend asked me to make two pillow covers for his little girl. A little over a week ago I had never made a pillow cover, now I'm whipping them up like a pro! I make mine nice and tidy inside by zipping around the edge to keep fraying at bay. It looks so nice with the orange thread here.

I've been holding onto these adorable FQs for quite some time, and this seemed like the perfect use. What little kid wouldn't love this print? And how cheery paired with the orange birdy fabric on the back.

And I still had a bit of this squirrel treasure map fabric, pairing it with a soft floral. Too bad I didn't have any pillows the right size to put in the covers to see how they'll look.

I'll mail them off tomorrow with this cute little note. I hope she likes them as much as I do!

And I reached my cycling goal for the season on Monday! I covered 2,600 kilometres and there is still plenty of good weather left.

Not bad for a weekend's work! Although it seems for everything I cross off my crafty to-do list, I add at least one more project. Case in point, today a hefty package arrived at my doorstep with Jaybird Quilt's Park Bench quilt kit. I was really sorry I missed the classes offered at my local quilt shop to make this one, then it popped up at a huge discount on Craftsy and I had no choice but to get it. No choice, I tell you!