Saturday, December 24, 2016

Just one more

I managed to squeeze in one more homemade Christmas gift. You guessed it - another pillow. When I found a pattern for a curling rock, I knew I had to make it for a friend at work who loves curling. I wasn't sure I'd have time to pull it off, but I plugged away on it for a few days and got it done just in time.

I found a neat fabric with vintage Canadian newsprint that was perfect for the border, and put maple leaf fabric on the back. (Oops, forgot to get a photo of that!) It's all so very Canadian!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Pillows sweet and salty

I've been on a bit of a pillow bender lately. These first two were not planned, especially during the hectic holiday making. But a friend was hosting another fundraiser to help a woman trying to get back on her feet and I couldn't help but make something to be auctioned. Since I planned to use all different fabrics which would leave me with double the HST I needed, I figured I might as well cut out enough of the rest to make two. So they're similar, but different. Fraternal pillows.

I love me some cross hatch quilting, but it sure is time consuming.

On the back of each, I used Tula prints as well. I am quite pleased both pillows were bought by Instagram friends, and they're on the way to their new homes now.

Then I made this sweet pillow for the sweetest little girl I know, using fussy cut prints to spell out the first letter of her name.

On the back I used the cutest animal party fabric.

And then my pillow making took a dramatic turn away from the sweet ...

These cheeky his and hers pillows are for a fellow foul-mouthed reporter - edited here in the interests of public decency. They're rather risque, but I love them and I'm sure she will too. I even used my precious newsprint fabric on the front, and then a doggone cute fabric on the back. It's all about balance, right?

Memories of Australia

A dear friend and my regular travel companion celebrated a milestone birthday recently and I wanted to make her something special to mark the occasion.

Of course my first instinct was to make a pillow. I loved the Carolyn Friedlander pillow I made a while back, and decided to make another but with a more subtle colour scheme. And guess what? I love this one even more! But then that teal print is one of my all-time favourite fabrics. Seemed fitting to use a precious fabric for a precious friend.

On the back I used this neat ombre fabric that looks like a night sky:

I also wanted to make something that would be a reminder of our amazing trip this spring to Australia and New Zealand. I had Quiet Play's Aussie animals patterns, and decided to make a large fabric basket that would be great for holding her yarn or a knitting project. It's so freaking cute!! I had to do some Beautiful Minds type calculations, and make up a couple prototypes, to get the sizing right on the basket. I even did pretty well paper piecing with that directional heart print for the background.

On the back, I put a panel of sheep fabric I picked up in NZ. And then I quilted and quilted. With interfacing in there as well, it's quite sturdy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sew cosy

when a sew-along popped up for this super cute living room pattern, I could not resist joining even though I really should have been working on other sewing projects.

There's a lot of tiny piecing, but I found it so much fun! I was smiling like an idiot almost the whole time I was putting it together because it's so dang cute. The toughest part was deciding on the fabric. I waffled on that until I saw an IG post of a lampshade someone covered with one of my favourite Anna Maria Horner prints. Aha! That's actually the print I used on my lamp.

First the comfy chair:

Then the lamp:

A couch - with a quilt on it!! That seemed like the perfect place to use a precious bit of an all-time favourite AMH print that someone on IG kindly sent me. What a wonderful and generous community on Instagram!

Last but certainly not least - a quilt ladder! Here I used another older AMH print I never had that was sent to me by an IG friend.

And here is my AMH living room all together ...

Bonus block

Here are my November bee blocks. I'm not a big fan of the Wanta Fanta block, but I gritted my teeth and got it done. Only to discover the December queen bee wants that block too. Sigh.

I almost forgot at the last guild meeting I signed up to make a block for Victoria's Quilts Canada - a charity that provides quilts to comfort people with cancer. The floral fabric was what I got for my $2 donation and I picked the other two co-ordinating fabrics from my stash while stretching the floral print as far as I could. This seemed the perfect time for this block that I've wanted to try for a while. It came together quickly - exactly what I needed since I had to squeeze in into other deadline sewing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Simply create

Exciting times! My Instagram friend Katy is opening a fabric shop this month!! She's living the dream of all quilters and I couldn't be more happy for her. What's it called, you ask? Beetle and Fred. How clever is that?!

I wanted to make her something to mark the great occasion, and Quiet Play's Create pattern seemed perfect. Especially in an Alison Glass rainbow!

I knew right away I wanted to do rainbow quilting, but dithered a bit on how to do it. I didn't want to detract from the letters and thought my usual straight-line quilting might be a bit much with the crosshatch background. So I went wavy! I love how it turned out.

I can never resist a picture with pretty matching threads ...

And a just-finished quilting shot with a thread beard in all its glory ...

The quilting went pretty fast despite having to change the spool for each line. Thankfully it wasn't too big since I did it pretty densely. I hope soon I can visit the shop in person, and meet Katy for the first time in person! Maybe I'll spot this mini decorating the wall.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Little bit of everything weekend

What a glorious fall weekend! And I was pretty busy with a bunch of things. Saturday started with a quilt shop hop with my mom, who I have to thank/blame for getting me into this costly hobby of sewing. I picked up a few things along the way, but mostly I'm proud to say it was fabric for other people! No lie.

My sewjo was a bit off and it seemed I made one bonehead mistake after another. But I forged ahead and finished this pillow featuring 32 different Tula prints, which look lovely next to the Kona silver background.

I kept the quilting pretty simple, echoing the lines of the stars.

All that I needed to do this weekend was put on the envelope back and binding, but I managed to stuff those simple tasks up in a variety of ways. But in the end it turned out just lovely. I adore the cheery bunny fabric on the back.

I also finished paper piecing these letters. So little, so frustrating. I got through a 12-piece section, only to realize I forgot the third piece. Sigh. I don't imagine I will ever enjoy the process of paper piecing, but I keep doing it because the results are always cool. You can find the free pattern by Quiet Play here.

The weather was also quite sunny and mild, so I was able to enjoy a bike ride both Saturday and Sunday - and the fading glory of the fall colours along the way.

This wasn't from the weekend, but I'll throw it in here. I made this Magic 8 Ball block for my friend Amy, who requested it for her turn as queen bee. I'm not in her group, but I wanted to make one as part of a thank you package for the amazing quilt she sent me out of the blue. Gotta love those burly beavers!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Bee busy

Somehow I got four blocks behind on the Modern HST Sampler hosted by Blossom Heart Quilts. Not sure how that happened. But since the third-quarter link-up was fast approaching, I figured it was a good time to get caught up.

I rolled up my sleeves this weekend and on Saturday got the fabric for all four blocks cut out, and the HST made and trimmed. Oh boy was that a lot of trimming. But then on Sunday I could just sit down and sew.

First up was this finicky one with all its wee HST and points - Block #17 called Cross Angle.

Block #18 is quite cool - Ribbon. I really like the effect of the stripes from the fabric.

Block #19 - Perspective. This is quite similar to a block from the Bee Hive Quilts, also hosted by Blossom Heart Quilts.

And finally Block #20 - Confetti. This was a bit of a challenge with my limited colour palette, but I really like how it turned out.

Here's my group shot for the third quarter with Blocks 13 to 18.

I really love how this is turning out. The bold blues on the light grey background are so crisp and fresh. Only four more blocks to go and this sew-along will be done, so I better keep up from now on!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Left to my own devices ...

October's queen bee asked for Tic Tac Toe blocks with solid fabrics for the X and corners, and low-volume print for the background. No preferences for colours or any other directions.

With carte blanche, I went a little wild. I think for the first I inadvertently channelled my Dutch roots. I found an FQ of that versatile bike part fabric recently, so I felt free to use it for the background.

I've made a bunch of the Tic Tac Toe blocks, but this may be my ultimate favourite yet! I love the green and pink and that background fabric with the little splashes of green is perfect!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Long weekend sewing

Why does it seem there are never enough sewing hours in the day? This was weekend was a long one in Canada, yet still I didn't get as much sewing done as I would have liked. I have been biking a lot lately to try and reach my goal before the weather turns too cold. Once I'm biking indoors I'll have a bit more spare time because it's far easier to just do an hour when the view is my messy basement versus the beautiful countryside.

First up was putting together the scraps salvaged from my Carolyn Friedlander pillow. I sewed three of the 1x2" strips into a block, then put the 16 blocks together to create this crazy little bit of patchwork that's 6.5" square. It will be perfect for a mugrug. I love all the teeny little pieces.

Here's the craziness of the back ...

Then I finished sewing the fish that will be my contribution to a charity guild quilt. They turned out so cute! I love how they're all flitting in different directions.

Although quite simple, the stack of them did take a fair bit of time. If you want to make them, I put together a four-patch with two background squares and two HST. Then I put a solid colour on that and made two HST - and voila you have a little fishy with a tail!

Oh and my recent pillow makes are a big hit with the kitties. I guess it's far too tempting to have a soft spot to lay right near my sewing machine. Here's Ariel in a Princess and the Pea moment.

And here's Aurora having a bath. I wouldn't mind so much but her bathing usually involves pulling out chunks of fur and spitting them out.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Round 1

Ooh, this was exciting and nerve-racking! I got my good friend Darci's starter block in the travelling quilt bee I'm doing with six friends, four of them virtual from Instagram.

It's so tough to narrow down what to add, and I may have gone a bit overboard. The colours of her block did throw me for a bit of a loop. I tried to pick fabrics for my blocks that co-ordinated, while adding in a few new colours. The only real request she had was for us to add a bit of black.

Right away I knew I wanted to make friendship stars - six for the six of us in the bee. Black seemed the perfect fabric for the bright colours I picked for those. Because her starter block was relatively simple with a classic patchwork look, I thought flying geese would go well. For some continuity, I picked just purple and green fabrics with some having accent colours like those in her block. And then text fabrics for the background for a little splash of my favourite. I was gonna stop there, but then I saw this double friendship star block and it just seemed such a perfect fit! For those I really tried to pick up the colours of her starter block. Almost all the fabric I used was Tula and Alison Glass - favourite designers for both of us.

Here's what I made ...

And here they are on her starter block:

I am really happy with how it turned out. This is a really fun project with so much to look forward to seeing. Not just what people add to your quilt, but also what people add to quilts after you. Every couple months it's an exciting new reveal!

Stitching on the go

The night before my month-long adventure to Australia and New Zealand this spring, I was in my sewing room frantically cutting out fabric for another project to take with me. I wanted to make a hexie mini out of all Anna Maria Horner fabric for my Instagram friend Amy to send her a little cheer.

I made good progress on my travels, but back home I just don't seem to find the time for hand sewing. But finally I got this done and sent to its new home!

It goes with my "more is more" approach - a riot of colour and prints. But I think it all comes together nicely with the purple for the "A" and the binding. Generally I tried to keep it to fabric that was primarily purple, blue or pink. One hexie was just a bit too much bright blue, so I put a cut out flower over it. I think it's a fun little detail. I quilted it with King Tut thread in a variegated blue. It's a bit thicker and shows up nicely.

This quilt is well travelled! It came with me across Australia and New Zealand, then a few spots closer to home. I picked up the purple fabric in L.A., and now it's living in Montana.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fifth, final, winner!

Anyone who knows me also knows I love making quilted pillows! So how could I resist the pillow-making contest hosted by Modern Makers Retreat - especially one with the hashtag #mmrcushionpalooza! Fun! The parameters were pretty simple - make a pillow, or two or more, in the month of September and post it on Instagram.

I ended up making five in total. The first was the blue heart pillow for my neighbours who said goodbye to their beloved old beagle, next came a matching duo that were quilted tops just needing to be made into pillows, and then my rainbow herringbone pillow. That was the pillow I made specifically for the contest and I thought I was done because I was pleased as punch with it. But then I squeezed in one more in the final days.

And finally I made good use of a bunch of my hoarded Carolyn Friedlander prints for this vibrant, spring-feeling pillow.

I love everything about this pillow! I'm not a big yellow fan, but that's my favourite part! And I jumped right into the deep end by making that the border. It just was so wonderfully bold against the teal binding.

Simple straight-line quilting with a light blue thread fit the bill perfectly. I varied the spacing a bit, starting with a line down the middle of each row and then adding on each side. That took a fair bit of time and I'm not sure it was worth the effort because it's a bit lost in the overall effect. Likely, though, if I had just gone for evenly spaced quilting starting at one side and going across the pillow, the quilting lines would have soon been wonky compared to the piecing lines.

The pattern looks quite complicated, but it's just squares, HST and four-patch turned on-point. I saw something similar on a quilt while scrolling through Instagram a while back and filed the idea away. The only tough part was slicing off the edges to make it square. But, being me, I saved those pretty bits and have another fun project underway!

I was quite surprised and thrilled to discover it was chosen as one of 10 pillows out of more than 230 entered to win a prize in the contest! My win was in the honourable mentions category, but it's wonderful to even be mentioned considering all the amazing pillows entered! Next time you're on Instagram, be sure to check out the hashtag to see all the beauties!


September's queen bee picked a paper-pieced block, Hidden Gems. It's a lovely block, but I'm not gonna lie - paper piecing is not my favourite and I put off sewing this for a long time. I don't like cutting out the pattern pieces and I don't like the actual sewing, and then I definitely don't like pulling out the papers once you finally make it through all that.

But I finally gritted my teeth and got started. And right out of the gate it did not go well. I wasn't thinking when I picked that very directional print for the centre pattern. And of course those are the pieces I started with first because they were the easy ones. I soon reached the "I'm gonna scream or cry" stage, then realized I needed to walk away.

With a fresh start and an unwilling-to-be-beat-by-a-block attitude, the rest came together better although those grey points were a bit pesky to line up.

I quite like the colour scheme the queen bee picked, and actually it inspired a pillow I made soon after.

The second one went together swimmingly! I even got the two halves together perfectly on the right try! My paper-piecing skills must have been rusty on that first go.

For other anxious paper piecers out there, my best tip is to use a long basting stitch first when joining sections. Then if things don't match up well, you can easily rip that out and try again. When you finally have everything where you want it, then use the short stitch. All the precision, none of the tedious ripping!