Thursday, 6 June 2019

And then it was June!

Now, I have been a busier quilter than this blog would lead you to believe ... While my quilting skills improve everyday, my photography ones don't! If I have quilted something for you recently and you don't see it here, it is no judgement to your work, only to my rotten photography skills. The lighting isn't right ... pictures are blurry .. odd angles ... sigh ... one day .... 

I was tickled to have quilted these two cuties for my friend Sandra. She is fairly laid back and lest me pick the thread and panto. 

This quilt is all made of new grunge fabrics with a star motif. I used one of my old faves .. Mimosa as a panto and So Fine Thread in Snow.

Sandra chose an ivory cuddle backing for the quilt and it turned out really lovely.

The second quilt is a sweet baby quilt she threw together at one of our guild retreats. Sandra found good use of a stowed away panel and chopped it up to make this cute creation.

Panels can cause headaches at times as they are often not overly straight. You usually need to be careful with them and make sure you give a careful measure. We chose a white cuddle for the back of this one. The panto is Quirky and I used a shiny Glide thread in blizzard. The baby quilt called for some extra poof so I chose to use Dream Puff batting. It worked out nicely. I'm sure this will make a great gift for someone special. 

I'm busy quilting up a storm ... we have a busy summer ahead of us and I hate to see my pile of quilts get too high! I'm hoping for rain this weekend so Sean will stay home but it is fishing season!


Thursday, 25 April 2019

Quilts of Valour

Our guild got together this month to take part in the Quilts of Valour project. We are all tasked with making simple log cabin blocks in common colours to make and send to the organisation. The program gifts wounded veterans with quilts made across Canada.

This is a shot of the block ... the guild supplied the yellow centre and we provide the reds and creams from our stashes.

I took enough yellow centre blocks to make 12 and very quickly made up the dozen. I got digging through my stash baskets and found red after red .... I had alot of fun reminiscing about projects from years gone by.

I then called my friend Robin to see if she would be interested in making up a quilt or two with me and she came over the next day! We spend Good Friday together making the log cabin blocks and we managed to convince McPhee to make us supper. I had my top on the longarm Easter Sunday and finished binding it Monday night. Easy peasy!

Robin makes more quilts than anyone I know, yet, she has never made a log cabin. We're both hooked now and are feverishly cutting our stash into 2.5" strips.

The centre is yellow which is the QVC's request. It symbolises 'Coming Home' as respect to the yellow ribbon. The rest of the block is made with 2.5" strips in scrappy reds and creams to symbolise Canada.

Robin and I are both kind of nuts with things like this so are making more! One more at least for me and likely ten for Robin. It's quick, pretty and a really great stash buster, not to mention a really great program to be involved with. The organisation has a goal of delivering 20, 000 quilts - yep, 20 thousand in the next year!

You can check out the program and quilt ideas here .... Quilts of Valour Canada

I quilted with So Fine thread in 'Snow' #401and used Quilter's Dream blend batting. The panto is called 'Maple Syrup'. I think that was the most fitting choice for this Canadian themed quilt. I chose an ivory Shannon cuddle for the backing.  

If you have a basket of reds, make up a block or two as QVC also accepts them or if you like, drop them off to me and I'll get weave them into my next project. If you don't have any red scraps, I have lots! I'm happy to help you out.

Busy, busy this week ... I can't stop thinking of log cabins! 

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

New Pantographs

My collection of paper pantographs is slowly growing! Bear with me as I up date my page ....

I had fun today picking a few new patterns. They should be here in a week or so .... yay!

I will be taking limited bookings this summer so if there are any quilts you want completed, please get them to me as soon as you finish. As always, I'm happy to fit you in ... my quilting adventures have slowed down considerably what with baby deciding to be a kid now, papa making a few pit stops into hospital and the two pesky jobs I have! Then there is the general high-jinks that bad people play in our lives ... Big Sarge has been working quite a bit of OT and working away from home. I was a good wife this weekend and made up a bunch of freezer meals for him and some Scottish pies to take on the road. Why can't people just behave! If you are waiting on a quilt, I apologise.

We have a seasonal camp spot reserved for us this summer and Sean and I are looking forward to spending some time together, with Darbs of course, by the campfire. One of the great benefits of working as a professor now is summers off! No more nights, no more weekends and missing out on fun. Life is short, ... and summer is shorter! I decided to quit stressing out over the state of my white legs, jiggle in my thighs or anything else this year. Instead of fighting and fidgeting with my swimsuit, I bought a bigger one! Gasp! It never occurred to me ... be happy, buy bigger pants!

Here's a sneak peak of what is coming in ... hopefully by the end of the week I will have an update list of all of my patterns on the page tab called 'Pantographs'.



Ginger Leaf


Spring Bunny
Snowy Owl

I wanted to share a photo with you of our Easter fun with Darby. She was quite tickled to paint some eggs. It was fun to put them in the basket, out of the basket, in the basket, out .... and crack them. She would sniff the cracked eggs and say 'stinky!' and laugh and laugh .... I love her so much my heart could burst! 

We are going bike shopping soon! Bike shopping!! 

Until next time,

Monday, 15 April 2019

Seaside Fun

This is a sweet baby quilt I finished up for my client Peg last week. It is the sweetest thing ... I love that she chose more modern and bold colors - it isn't pastel and baby waby ... I know too well that the infant stage doesn't last long and we are onto new things. I think this quilt will last Peg's relatives for a few years. 

The batiks give a fresh look to the quilt. I love how the flying geese look like fish. 

Peg brought a cotton backing which has these super cute whales. I used a dream puff batting to give the quilt a bit more loft and of course, my favorite So Fine thread in Snow. Peg chose the gingersnap panto which looks like bubbles under the sea. 

I still have a few openings for April if you need any quilting finished. No special Easter plans for us besides the usual ingesting of 13 perogies.


Sunday, 17 March 2019

Spring Cleaning

I had a wonderful/awful urge to do some spring cleaning this weekend. I got myself all out of sorts with the time change and felt the need to tackle more projects. 

I get a bit neglectful when it comes to cleaning my sewing machine so set about taking it apart and giving her a good cleaning and oil job.

I drive a Janome 6600 and maintenance is fairly straightforward. I can't tell you how initimidated I was the first time I dared to take the face plates off! 

Most machines come with small cleaning and tool kits but I find that the big screwdriver from Sean's toolkit works best. I'm kind of a wimp and the screws are in tight! I need the extra leverage to get them loose. 

Best practice is to change your needle with every quilt. I have to say, that like most of you, I'm guilting for going too long between changes. There are many, many microtears that start to form in your fabric if you don't use a sharp needle. While I am very diligent about cleaning and changing needles on my longarm, my poor Jerome the Janome gets a little dirty and neglected. 

A person should really give the bobbin case a brush through after every second bobbin or so to keep lint at bay. I hate to admit the amount of times that I was sewing top speed in a marathon only to have my fabric jam and sew no more. Taking the plate off the bobbin case was a chore as the top was so full of lint and debris the machine just could not move another inch. 

If you are not sewing as smoothly as in the past or your quarter inch seam gets off track, you likely have some lint built up.

This is Jerome flipped on his side. There are five small screws holding the bottom plate on which came off easily. My machine is quite heavy so I needed a hand gently laying him on the table.

This lint build up was not as bad as I thought I would see. I have been seeing pictures popping up on Instragram lately of some machines with real messes. I'm glad I caught this now.

Here's a shot of the mess. Some of you may not like that I clean my machine with Q-tips but if used correctly, they do a great job. I dab a bit of sewing machine oil on the cotton tip and use it to sweep and catch the lint. Your manual will tell you to use a small brush but I struggle to trap the debris when using a brush. I want it up and gone!

The fall back of course, is to follow your manual. Mine, of course, is lost ... hidden within a bookcase of books, baskets and loose patterns. Good thing Mr. Google has everything at your fingertips! It only took a moment to find the appropriate manual for my machine.

These are the little tools that came with Jerome. They're cute, but not overly functional.

Here's a shot of a typical lint buildup for me. Resist the urge to blow! Do not blow at this lint. You will just carry it into the inner workings of your machine and may have real trouble on your hands.

And the top. Again, not as awful as I had pictured but still needed to be tended to. In the past, I had sent my machines into professional shops for servicing. If this is an option available to you, go for it. It may cost you .... I paid $150 the last time I had the service and was without my machine for two weeks. We no longer have local people to do this kind of work so it is more of a pain to take it anywhere. Ah ... the joys of living in the sticks!

This process took me about half an hour top to finish and I saved myself some money in the process! More money for fabric!! I think I'll do another deep clean like this before Christmas.

May your seams run straight and pins stay sharp!


Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Happy Birthday

It’s still so hard for me to believe that we have such a wonderful little girl and she is now two! 
Two years ago we got a call at 3:16 am to come for our baby. She would be born any minute. Sean and I were waiting at a nearby hotel for four days. I’ll never forget the brisk, cold walk to St.Boniface Hospital in the dark of night ..... and four days is not the entirety of it ... four days, plus three years waiting to be picked .... but ... that's the plot to another story ... 

I don't have the proper words for the feelings we had when we walked onto the maternity ward into a room to see this ...

I was warned by so many of you that time goes by fast ... to enjoy every minute ... you blink and they are grown ... Sean and I were both in awe at how tiny this little one was. It’s unusual and very, very special for adoption parents to be allowed in the hospitals. Most times, they receive their baby at an agency, lawyers office or other safe place. We are forever grateful to have been there.

And how big and wild she is becoming! We had a small party for Darbs. She loves trolls, Peppa and dinosaurs. Crazy about dinosaurs!

And of course, has this big guy completely wrapped!

I've been practising my icing skills ....

Remember how I was on a fabric diet? The great destash of 2019! Well ... you know how it is when you are on a food diet ... you restrict and count every calorie, every morsel .... maybe you do, maybe you don't ... I've been on so many diets I could wallpaper my bathroom with them! The surest way for me to gain 5 pounds is to go on diet! My fabric hold off was short lived.

In a fog, I somehow found myself in a fabric store last weekend and lo and behold! My girl's favourite things. Hello Peppa ... Hello Trolls! I had a weak moment just like when faced with cinnamon buns on a diet!

I'm thinking of making a couple of chair cushions with the Peppa fabric and a Mahjong throw with Trolls. Mahjong is a quick and easy pattern many of my guild friends made that I haven't actually tackled yet. Sigh ... more plans than time!

Stay tuned for the final product .....


Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Fat Quarter Placemats

I got plenty of feedback from many of you publicly and privately about my recent posts. I can't thank you enough! It's a bit odd to write a blog ... put your life out to the world and not be sure if anyone is listening ... I love the ghost hugs, words of encouragement and love ... kind words about me quitting my job, healing my heart and ... making these stinkin' cute placemats! 

I can't tell you how to upend your life like I did but  thought I would give you a tutorial on the placemats! Seems like a safer lesson .... 

I literally made dozens of these fat quarter placemats. They are one of my favourite stash busting projects and gifts to make. I usually make a set of six to fit our family but will show you here how to construct a set of four. 

You start with four fat quarters. Any colour, any mix or design. I picked out some greens from my stash bin to make a St. Patrick's Day gift for my mom. It's pretty risky for us to eat off of white placemats in my house! 

These sweet little chicks just make me smile! I couldn't wait to stitch up something fun with them.
I tend to looking more at the fabric's value and temperature feel when choosing my blends. 

What the heck am I talking about?! 

I look at the fabric and judge whether feels warm or cool. Colour temperature is something that photographers are very in tune with but quilters should start to pay attention more to. You likely, intuitively gravitate toward a temperature and not be aware of it. 

Cool colours are generally more bluish - blues, greens, violets; where warm colours lean to the reds, oranges and yellows. 

You may have constructed a scrap quilt or block at some point say ... all in greys and one part just stuck out like a sore thumb. One block maybe catches your eye more or just doesn't blend in. It is likely an off 'temperature' from the rest of the quilt. Warm colours generally stand out while cool colours recede. 

At times, you may want a part of your quilt to jump out so you would purposely choose a fabric of different temperature.
Say, you are appliqueing an object .. you may choose a warm orange leaf on a cool blue background. That would make the piece really pop. 

Here is a photographer's colour chart

Don't be afraid of temperature. Honestly. Dump your scrap basket out on the middle of the floor and sort into two piles ... warm and cool. Don't pay attention to colour, style or design. Go with colour feel. 
You may quickly see what you gravitate to. 

I know as a new quilter, I loved warm .. lots of loden green, dark beige, creamy creams and burgundy. 
Now, I head to designers like Cotton & Steel that work with cool hues. I lean to whites, cool greys, light greens and purples. 

Think temperature when choosing fabrics for your next quilt!

The four fabrics I chose for this project all have a cool feel to them. 

I generally pick a large, medium and smaller print when working with placemats or when making anything with a fat quarter mix, actually. The frog print actually reads as a solid. It helps to give the eye a place to rest. If I chose, say, four fabrics all with small dots like the top fabric, the end product would read a bit flat. 

Whatever you choose, be happy with it! I have never seen these turn out terrible! 

Trim up your fabrics to a rectangle. Be mindful of the size of your fat quarters. They are not always the same size! Some fats are cut from a yard, others a meter. It is very often that when you line up fat quarters from different stores or lines, they are different. 

My chicks are much bigger as you see below, but only because this was some yardage that I cut. The chicks are a new wide back fabric that I just got in for my quilting costumers. 

All squared and lined up ... ready to cut. 

This was a free pattern given to me years ago from a shop. I don't actually have the original anymore as I just eye ball the design. I tend to like a bigger placemat than some and trim them up to around 18" by 12.5" finished ... I cut these rectangles to 14 " X 20 ". 

Stack and line the fabrics together and cut ... I start with the bottom left - that's the first and biggest cut. You could make yourself a paper template if you wish but I just place my ruler over top and slice through the four layers at once.

Move the first section away and cut three more wedges - cut through all four layers. You will now have 16 pieces total on your cutting board. As mentioned, I like to make 6 placemats for set. In doing that, I have 6 fat quarters lined and stacked together. Six is about the maximum you should safely cut through to ensure you aren't slipping too much. Check to make sure your rotary cutter has a sharp blade as well or you may get snags.

Now, you shift the fabrics. One from the top of one section, shifts to the bottom of that pile. Move around the piece making sure you have four different fabrics.

Now, you are ready to sew. I generally start sewing with the last pieces cut which are the bottom right in the picture. Pin in place and sew with a quarter inch foot. Be sure to select an appropriate thread. I used white for this project. In the past, I had wanted to use up some half filled bobbins and would maybe use grey or a different colour. Maybe you are thinking to use green for this ... I would use the lightest colour you have to avoid any ghosting through the fabrics.

There is inevitably some shifting that takes place with these guys. I trim to my smallest placemat. Like I mentioned, I enjoy a bigger placemat for our table and often trim them to 18" X 12.5 "
Here is a picture of the last trim. I use a large square ruler for this process.

And just left to bind .. I love a striped binding ... I think I will play with a few options before I tack anything down. Tradition would say to bind in green but who said I was a traditional girl!

Here's another picture of my February mats I made. We have been giving them lots of wear and tear this past month!

I can't tell you what I nice gift this is to make. Think about handing these over to your next dinner host instead of a bottle of wine. People who don't quilt are mesmerised by these quick fat quarter lovelies. (And yes ... that is an action man laying on my table. He's a boat driver ... tomorrow a troll, maybe Peppa Pig ...)

It's a fast project that really takes only an evening. I usually bind my placemats because I like the look of it and quilt on my longarm, but you can also pillow case the placemats and quilt as desired after. The binding takes a bit more time, but I think its worth it.

Binding and Netflix!