Friday, December 26, 2014


My recent frenzy of potholder making was inspired by a post on Film in the Fridge on a rainbow of log cabin potholders she made for gifts. My thoughts went immediately to the stained and scorched black potholders in my kitchen. How embarrassing for an avid quilter and fabric lover to have such eyesores when I'm able to make my own with beautiful fabric! And, as a person who probably all too often eats reheated leftovers in front of the TV, I use them a ton. Once I had potholders on the brain, I figured I should make some for Christmas gifts, too. (Full disclosure: I finished handsewing down the binding on Christmas Eve and Day. Now that's some last-minute holiday crafting!)

The first is for a friend and former boss who also loves Hawaii. I cut into a FQ bundle of treasured Hawaiian fabric, settling on simple patchwork. There's a thin plus on the back due to a little math oopsy when I cut it the same size as the front. But now it's a nice detail we'll pretend was intentional, right? I'm going to wrap it up with a candle and pretty candies I got in Spain.

Then I made a pair of smaller ones for an old neighbour who brought me a tin of the most delicious shortbread cookies. I'm not sure how I didn't eat them all in one sitting. These are some of those fabric oddities occasionally found in your stash - you have no idea why you bought them because it's not at all your style, but it is absolutely perfect for someone else. I like the wee dragonflies on the orange.

Then finally I made some for myself! I'm probably way too excited about potholders, but as you can see replacements are much needed. I just need to stitch down the binding, then I can eat leftovers in style!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Another in the mail

Yesterday I sent off my latest swap - this time a mug rug to Australia. The lovely Gnome Angel hosted this festive mug rug swap and I couldn't help but sign up even though the deadline was fast-approaching and my crafty to-do list is long. Along with the mug rug (which I'll talk about below because I'm over-the-moon happy with it), I made a zippered pouch with the cutest sheep in sweaters. Inside that I tucked some chocolate - including a Coffee Crisp bar stamped with a big maple leaf and the slogan "The Canadian Original" - and a lovely silvery bird ornament from Ten Thousand Villages.

I wrapped the mug rug in the snowman fabric (my partner said she liked snowmen), and added a pretty letterpress card. Although now I'm realizing I sent a "Happy Winter" card to Australia, where it's now summer. Oops! I'm on a roll - I sent hot chocolate to my last swap partner in New Zealand.

The mug rug is tiny, but a whole lotta thought and effort went into it! The actual making took the better part of a day because I tried a bunch of new things and had to figure it out as I went along.

My partner said she liked Cotton + Steel basics, and right away I thought the X fabric in navy blue would be perfect for a snowy night sky. I envisioned a tree and snowman on the blue, with a twinkling star in the sky and snow on the ground. I had a plan, but could I make that reality?

I started with the tree, piecing two different C + S greens for the boughs. Then onto the star - the biggest smallest challenge. I've never made a wonky star before, so why not start with one that's 1.5"?! Once I had the sky part pieced, I quilted straight lines through the star in a variegated thread to make it sparkle. Then onto the snow-covered hills. Those curved lines were a bit tricky and turned out not quite perfect, but I love the effect. Lastly, time for the snowman. Hexies seemed so perfectly obvious that I was surprised very few popped up in an online search. I added fusible batting behind the hexies so the blue wouldn't show through, then top-stitched him onto the snowy ground.

Finally more of the silver netorious became the binding. On the back, I used Alison Glass fabric since my partner said that was a favourite designer and orange was among her favourite colours. (Blue was the first colour she listed.) And a quick little label finished it off!

I really hope my partner likes it. I'm super proud of how it turned out. And amazed that I actually made just what I imagined! I'm more of a pattern-following sort, but this is 100 per cent my own design.

As for the zippered pouch, I made two more with the same cute flannel for friends. And I have two more to make!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Now what?

The fifth and final border went on my mini medallion this week. I love it! This last border sure was a lot of work with all the triangles and trimming. But it sure looks great! I mostly used Arcadia fabric by Sarah Watson, but threw in a few solids and the polka dot print, then varied the background fabrics.

This medallion was a fun quilt-along held by Clover and Violet. I really liked seeing all the others people made on Instagram and how different they all were. You can see on the back just how much piecing goes into a medallion when you see all the seams!

Now the question is just what to do with this mini, which isn't so mini at 36" square. Add a border for a lap quilt? A wall hanging? I guess it's good I have plenty of other quilting projects I need to tackle, so I have time to consider this. And deciding how to quilt it will be a whole other dilemma!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Quilting for a cause

This mini quilt is for a co-worker who asked if I could make something quilted to donate to the fundraising raffle for her choir. Right away I thought of the Moda Love Quilt, and my bundle of Up Parasol fabric. I also pulled another print, the green and yellow bubbles and waves, from my stash. So much of my fabric is rather girly and modern, and I wanted this mini to have a more broad appeal.

The wavy bubbles showed up again on the back, highlighted with a bit of simple piecing and corners for easy hanging. I used two matching prints in blue and green for a kinda scrappy binding. I'm finally getting smart with the binding and lay it around the quilt before starting to stitch to avoid a seam popping up right at a corner. Why does that always seem to happen?!

Straight-line quilting in mostly blue with a bit of yellow-green added a whole new dimension. The plan when I started was a minimal crosshatch, but I got all of three lines before thinking it just wouldn't do. I guess I just can't help myself when it comes to straight-line quilting.

But look how beautiful it is! How can I resist!?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy mail!

After months of anticipation, my first ever swap came to an exciting conclusion this week when the mini made for me arrived in my mailbox and mine made it all the way to New Zealand to its new home.

I've never been so excited to get a package in the mail! This is kinda silly, but I honestly skipped a little bit on my way home from the mail box. I was just bursting with excitement to open the package. My partner crafted the most amazing just for me. I can tell she watched my Instagram feed closely for ideas because she really captured everything I love. Here's all the goodies I found in the package:

The beautiful mini with lots of blues and teals - my favourite - was finished with handquilting (So lovely - I need to try that!) in two colours. She added in a bicycle print too because anyone stalking my IG couldn't help but take note of the many pictures from my bike rides in the countryside and proud odometer posts. Looking at it now, I realize the choice of other prints was very intentional too, since she also noticed my love of nature and picked fabrics with flowers, leaves and other plants. How nice! The mini really is a treasure and I was overwhelmed to receive it. Many times on IG, I liked the sneak peeks she posted - and then surprise, surprise it came to me! I plan on hanging it in my dining room, right across from where I sit every morning for breakfast so I can admire it every day.

Along with the mini, she sent along a red, green and sparkling evergreen garland for the holidays, a zippered fox pouch (no doubt after seeing the foxy pillow I made recently) and milkweed bombs to plant. That's the favourite plant of Monarch butterflies, and its dwindling ranks have greatly affected the Monarch population. By coincidence, not that long ago I was looking at ways to give the butterflies a boost after several close encounters while out cycling.

Almost as beautiful as the front of the mini is the label. I love, love, love how she personalized it. And wow! It's stitched by hand! My mom and I spent quite some time looking at it closely. And more bicycles on the backing fabric!

I couldn't be happier with what I received, which made me very eager for my partner to get my package. Thankfully and amazingly it was just a little over a week making its way from Canada to New Zealand. My partner said she liked colour, modern and bright, traditional with modern twists. I think I got all those in the mini I made. The pattern was inspired by the barn quilt trail my mom and I followed in the summer. I took the traditional Jacob's ladder block, and turned the four-patch into a nine-patch and swapped quarter-square triangles for the middle. And I made it bright! Mostly pink prints, with some purple and then orange and pink solids. I love how it turned out, making mailing it off a bit tough. But a variation on this may just pop up again, since I have lots of fabric left over.

Here's a close-up of the quilting. I started with straight lines echoing the square, then did closer lines in the points and a cross-hatch in the big middle patch. In hot pink, of course!

I sewed a few extras, too. I already shared the doggy zippered pouch with a hexie flower I made using fabric I spotted while on vacation in Barcelona. As soon as I saw my partner had a Westie, I knew I had to make something with the cute white pup on it. A little online searching and I sketched out a simple patchwork pattern for a Westie mug rug. I had to do some very small piecing for the dog and bow, but it turned out super cute. I love the butterfly by its nose.

I gathered a few other goodies (pink note pad, pretty pencil covered in Japanese paper, cute metal clips, ballerina bear button, colourful bunting stickies, flower chocolates and fancy hot chocolate with a chocolate-dipped spoon) and here's the whole bundle I mailed off:

This swap was so much fun! If you're on the fence about joining one, do it! Getting something wonderful in the mail is only part of what makes them great. I loved following the hashtags on IG to see what everyone was making, and boy there were some jaw-dropping quilts! Lots of people used the swap as a push to try new techniques or patterns. I certainly had never used such a bold colour scheme or so much black, and I loved how it came together. Now that packages are being mailed, it's so much fun to watch the hashtag as everybody is receiving their minis.

With this first swap behind me, I can focus on the three others I'm signed up for. Three! And I'm chomping at the bit for the sign-ups to open for a rainbow mini swap. I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about what to make for each swap, then getting really excited when I come up with the perfect idea. The beauty about swapping something smaller is that it's a great chance to try out new things or make your own designs. And I have some big plans for my upcoming swaps! I'm itching for the fabric to arrive so I can finally turn my festive mug rug vision into reality. So yeah, I'm hooked on swaps.

Oh, and here's the back of my swap mini, which is pretty freaking fantastic. I got this crazy wild fabric ages ago and finally the perfect project came along. No piecing needed here for an interesting back! Plus it's got my first ever quilt label, embellished with a few of my leftover bits from the patchwork.