Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Two by two

It seems everything I make lately is in multiples of two. Here are my two February blocks for my bee. This month's colour is green. I love this one with the text and soft bird print.

This green block is definitely more in-your-face.

I got to chatting with a friend on Instagram when she launched a block swap for a large version of the raspberry kiss block. With so many great examples being posted on IG, I had to try one out myself. This one in all Lizzy House fabric is so subtle and pretty with the very low-volume prints.

We agreed to swap one block, but then I couldn't help and make another when I saw she was looking for this text print. I like to imagine this block captures a magical land with castles and fairytale forests.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pillow-making tips

Last year I made a few pillows to auction off to support the Red Cross in its efforts to help the victims of the Fort McMurray fires. I really enjoy making pillows, people seem to really like them, and it was a chance to donate far more than I could on my own. All in all, it was a great experience! So I want to do more of that this year, only in support of local charities.

Here's the first of the four I plan on making, using a neat giant economy block pillow pattern from Clover and Violet. What a great way to showcase a big print, like this Tula bunny! Plus it was a great chance to do some of the elaborate straight-line quilting I used to do a lot more often. I soon remembered it's way more and thread consuming than a crosshatch. But I think the effect is worth it.

Here's the finished pillow sitting in my backyard where a neighbourhood bunny likes to chill under my pine tree. How perfect is that green bunny print?!

More bunnies on the back - another perfect print for this all-things-bunny pillow. Now you're wondering why I took this photo with the pillow on its side, rather than having the bunnies the right way up. Well, it is the right way because I put the back on wrong. Sigh. Why is it always the simple step that gets messed up?! As a perfectionist who is usually extra careful to the point of being a little crazy, my heart sank when I realized the mistake. And the way I put together a pillow, there is no taking it apart. I guess the plus side is that you can't look at the back and front at the same time, and at least the bunnies are all going in the same direction.

The irony is that as I was making this pillow, I thought I would use it to share a few pillow-making tips. Oh, the hubris! I guess I learned something too - always do a quick check before you start sewing on the back.

Here are a few of my pillow-making tips and techniques from making more than a few pillows (five just this month!):

* Generally I favour edge to edge quilting to avoid any starting and stopping. When I'm done quilting and before trimming, I stitch around the whole edge to lock the quilting in place.

* I always make envelope backs for my pillows. Zippers look nice, but when I want to make a pillow I don't want to be delayed by making a special trip for a zipper. Plus I find it doesn't change the look of the front. Sew Mama Sew has a great tutorial including a chart with measurements for the back pieces. I printed this and have it hanging in my sewing room.
* When top-stitching the back pieces, I used my 1/4" foot and adjust the needle position to quickly zip along while getting a straight sewing line.

* I use Wonderclips to hold the layers together, including marking where the back pieces end on each side. I always reverse stitch in these spots to make them extra sturdy.
* Stick a pin through all the layers in the middle of the back. That way your sewing machine extension table won't slip inside the pillow cover while you're sewing.
* Sew with the flimsy side down and then there's less shifting. I also like to cut the back pieces a bit generously in case they move around. Once the layers are sewn together, simply trim off the excess.
* A 1/4" foot makes it quick and accurate to sew the layers together, and use a shorter stitch for strength.
* I always reinforce the corners. That includes back stitching at the start and end of each side, and a diagonal line across the corner. Then I trim off the excess to make the corners rounded. Here's how my corners look:

* Finally, I do a zigzag stitch around the edge to make it nice and tidy before turning it right side out.

So, now you can see, there is no way of easily taking a pillow apart when the back is sewn on the wrong direction! But, on the plus side, it's super sturdy!

Pillow twins

My sewing room has been a pillow workshop of late. First I finished these two pillows using a neat free block pattern for a friend at work. She has two young daughters, so I figured it was best to make two to avoid any fighting. I love this colour combo, especially with that chartreuse in there.

Here's a close-up of the quilting with a light grey Aurifil.

And this fun Cotton + Steel print went on the back.

Then I made a matching set for an Instagram friend, who bought one of two Tula pillows I donated for an auction. She wanted both for her twin girls, but couldn't swing it during the spendy Christmas season. So I offered to make her two, which technically I already had a start on because I made a mistake and cut out extra HST fabric. One girl likes purple and the other pink, so that's what I used for the borders.

Then some matching Tula for the back. I love both these prints.

One set I'll deliver in person this week, and the other I'll pop in the mail.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Block lottery

My quilt guild is starting something new this month - a block lottery. Before each meeting we'll be sent a pattern and colour scheme, and then we make blocks to bring with us. For every block, you get a ballot and the winner gets to keep them all. How fun is that?

This month's is the wonky star block. I made two in Tula fabrics.

I made the pink one first and I guess my confidence faltered with the second because it's definite less wonky. My distaste for wasting fabric likely undermined my ability to go wonky.

I can't wait to see all the blocks people made, and who will be the lucky winner!

Blocks for healing

The Montreal Modern Quilt Guild is asking people to send house blocks to make quilts for those affected by the recent tragedy at a Quebec City mosque. You can find out more about what they're looking for on the guild's blog.

The sentiment behind picking the house block is lovely:

We will be collecting house quilt blocks to make quilts that remind the recipients that this is their home, that they are an important part of this community and that we, their neighbours, are here to support and protect them.

I whipped up this block last night after quickly drafting a pattern. It's simple, but I think still cute and it conveys the idea of home.

Here are the cutting directions if you want to make your own block(s) to send.

And here's a second one in purple, almost all Tula except the Lizzy House for the warm glow coming out the window:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What is home?

Now this was a sewing challenge! I'm part of a travelling quilt group where we all make a starter block and then send it along to the next person in the group for them to add to it, and so on around the circle until it comes back to the start.

For this one, we were asked to create a block that represents home to us. Hmm. That's a tough one! I got to thinking about what home means to me. I've felt at home in many places other than my literal home. At my friend's apartment, at my parents' home, which was my first home, and at places all over the world. So instead of depicting a place, I stitched together a say: Home is not a place, it's a feeling.

Here's my block with the other two made so far. The starter block is that awesome home Katy made that looks just like her house. Then Darci designed her own paper piecing pattern of the CN Tower. Two talented ladies!! I can't wait to see what gets added as it travels around the circle!

Block party

I kinda forgot about my little blog, it seems. Instagram, you have sucked me in! So here's a round-up of some blocks.

First up, my final two bee blocks. Oh boy am I happy I never need to make the Wanta Fanta block again! The queen bee picked a great colour scheme though.

I didn't join another bee this year, but I decided to keep with the momentum of making two bee blocks a month - only keep them for myself! I'm going to make my favourite block in the bunch - Tic Tac Toe - in a rainbow of colours with a low-volume background. I started in January with pink.

And here's a neat block I made for a set of pillows called Goose Feet. I altered the pattern a bit by using HST instead of flying geese to make it scrappy, and two blocks at once. I kinda went out on a limb with this colour combo, but I really like it.

Sending cheer

Recently a person I kinda know on Instagram put out a call for help. Her mother's long-time friend was facing very serious health issues and she was hoping people in the crafting community could send something to brighten her day. So what to I do when I don't know what to do to help? Make a pillow!

I started with my favourite Anna Maria floral print and then grabbed a few other bright fabrics that went nicely and started sewing. I've made this particular block before for a pillow, and it comes together pretty quickly. This purple Aurifil thread a friend sent me was the perfect colour for the quilting.

Isn't it bright and cheery?

I used two fabrics for the envelope back. I often buy sale yardage for pillow backs, yet I never seem to have the right fabric so I turn to my FQs. Looks nice though, I think.

The pillow even got a nod from Aurifil on their Facebook page.

I didn't hear back if the recipient liked it. I hope she did. It's a challenge to make something for someone you don't know, but I think I picked fabrics that most people would like.