Monday, July 27, 2015

Bee busy

My July bee block went in the mail today. This Busy block really is fascinating looking, and I love the fabrics the queen bee picked. It sure is easy when her tastes in fabric and colours are the same as your own! As always, I included charm squares, a signature block and fabric basket.

The first block I made was a bit of an oopsy. I was so careful to get all the colours placed right, but forgot the pesky fact that paper piecing blocks are reversed. Not to let the block and beautiful fabric go to waste (I used up all of that awesome black and white print), I made it into a pillow for a present. I added a thin strip of the black and then flying geese for the outside border. Can't go wrong with flying geese! Then I finished it with spiral quilting in a variegated thread that matched perfectly.

I love how this pillow turned out and kinda want to keep it, but alas it's earmarked for a birthday present. I admired it for a bit on the bench in my front hall.

Next month I'm the queen bee! I had picked out the block I wanted, but then I saw Fizzy! Wow! I'm a recent curves convert and just couldn't resist this one. I made four sample blocks to help guide my swarm members. I can't wait to see what they do with this. Also it's gonna be awesome getting a bunch of packages in the mail when the blocks start to arrive.

The Hazel block I made recently for my mom to turn into a zippered pouch was a big hit, so I had to make more. I was a bit disappointed when I got these together to see the Hazel body disappeared into the newsprint background. I put them aside and later had a brainwave to add a decorative stitch in black around the body. That was just the contrast needed! I stuck with the wavy quilting, in purple and pink.

This past week had some real sewing drama. I took three days off and planned to spend much of the extra-long weekend sewing. I went to my machine the first morning, turned it on and nothing. The machine came on, but that's it. Eek! After a meltdown (I'm not too proud to say there were tears), I enlisted my mom's backup machine and took mine in to the repair shop. They weren't reassuring it can be fixed, but we'll see. Here's where it gets exciting - I bought a new machine! My first new sewing machine ever! It's nothing fancy, but has everything I need. And oh boy have I put it through the paces already. I can't wait to see what we make together.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Portrait of a borzoi

Sometimes you have to drop everything to make something for a person who really needs a bright spot in a difficult time. I got to know a lovely woman on Instagram who also has a borzoi. There aren't that many borzoi out there, so it's nice to meet other people with the breed, even if it's virtually. Recently her beloved Ivan died quite suddenly. She was heartbroken about the loss, and my heart ached for her. Years later, I still get teary at the thought of my sweet Marie and her sudden death.

I remembered a borzoi pattern I found online a while back and immediately decided to make it for her. I altered the pattern a bit to resemble her Ivan, and decided on a floral background because she has a lovely garden and seems to have a romantic style of decorating from what I've seen on Instagram. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I did echo quilting in a flowy style, and stitched in the ditch around the borzoi to define the shape.

I mailed it today and hopefully she will get it by the end of the week. I hope it brings her some comfort. She's not a quilting person, but always makes such nice comments on my endless crafty posts.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Getting behind

I either need to post on my blog more often or make less because I get so behind on all my projects!

My latest swap mini made it to its new home. This is what I made for the Anna Maria Horner mini quilt swap. I started with Thimble Blossoms' Dwell pattern, then changed it a bit for a little interest. Although I must admit I had a ridiculous amount of trouble getting the spacing right between the houses. I'm not so bright sometimes. But I love how it turned out. I imagine it as a happy little court lined with friendly neighbours. I love the border too, especially with the little pop of yellow in the binding.

A friend recently invited me to celebrate her 40th birthday - axe throwing of all things! I decided a couple days before that I wanted to make her something, so I whipped up this Starburst mini. The text borders on top and bottom are a nice touch, I think. And I love the white binding!

This month's Queen Bee asked for this interesting block called Busy. But again I was foiled by that tricky little fact that paper piecing is reversed. So I got the block made and instantly realized the pieces were rotated the wrong way. But it was such a lovely block I decided to make it into a pillow. Thankfully I got the bee block right on the second try, but not without second-guessing myself the entire way.

When I showed my mom a picture of a zippered pouch I made for the AMH swap, she didn't miss a beat and said she could use some pouches for her many quilting projects. Well, I love quilting panels, but I hate sewing them into pouches because my machine is such a diva with bulky seams. Last time I made one, I looked like a person with PTSD. Every time the machine made the slightest noise, I winced out of fear of broken needle pieces flying at me. So we struck a deal: I'd make the quilted panels and she'd turn them into pouches. So far I've made two sets. A Hazel Hedgehog in Alison Glass fabric with a simple pieced back.

And two cat blocks in Amy Butler's True Colors.

Then I was having such a good time making Hazels, I just kept going. When I was cutting these out, I was a bit worried that the body fabric and background didn't have enough contrast. I should have listened to my gut. But I still love them. I imagine they think they're very clever creatures disappearing into their surroundings. Chameleon Hazels.

Oh, where would I be without my hot pink shag rug as a photograph backdrop?!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Keeping busy

Might as well start with a fitting craft for this post, the Busy Block. This is my practice block for the July queen bee. Hers will be made in Cotton + Steel fabric, with the focal print black with a bit of white.

Since I've been getting lots of practice paper piecing recently, I thought I'd jump into the deep end with this maple leaf. And oh boy was it a challenge! Thankfully the woman who created the pattern gave me step-by-step photo guidance through the tricky part. She kindly designed it when I put a post on Instagram asking if anyone could turn the official logo for Canada's 150th birthday into a quilt. In no time she had a pattern and made it too - and she's not even Canadian! I decided to add stripes using the colours in the logo to make it like a flag. The piecing isn't perfect, but I sure am happy with it considering how new I am to paper piecing.

I also hosted an Instagram giveaway for this rainbow mini I made. I called it #fullofwondersgiveway and asked people to share the people or crafts on Instagram that inspire them. I got more than 60 entries, so I'd say it was a success and the winner sure seemed excited! It should be arriving at her home any day now.

Once again I tackled a zipper to make this pouch for a swap partner. My original partner in the Anna Maria Horner mini quilt swap dropped out at the last minute and long after the mini was made specifically to suite her tastes, so I wanted to make something nice specially for my new partner. She really loves kitties, so I think she'll be happy with this.

But what's really kept my attention over the last two weeks is the robin family in my backyard! I loved watching the babies hatch and then grow. I had no idea they grew so quickly! I shared nearly daily pictures on Instagram of the three babies, risking the wrath of the very protective parents. I joked that after I took the photo, I acted like I was leaving a helicopter - I moved out of the way very quickly and kept my head down. All the excitement culminated in this yesterday:

Yup. That's me holding a baby bird in my hand. When I went to take the day's photo, one jumped out of the nest! I found and carefully picked it up, but when I got back to the nest another was out! I put it back in too, but I guess it was the day for them to leave the nest because they started venturing out on the tree branches. I went for a bike ride and when I came back the nest was empty. One baby was still hopping around in the backyard by nightfall, but the other two had ventured further into neighbouring yards. I was not prepared for how worried I would be for their safety! This morning the nest was empty and the last baby gone from the backyard. Mom and Dad still scolded me when I looked out the back door. I sure hope they're not planning to have any more babies because I don't think I can take going through that again!

I put together this mosaic of the babies as they grew. It was truly remarkable to watch.