October 15, 2014

A 25th Anniversary Quilt

My Mom made this quilt for my brother's and his wife's 25th wedding anniversary. That would have been about 12 years ago now. She did almost all the embroidery by herself but she sent blocks out to everyone on both sides of the family and asked them to design their own quilt blocks. Then she did the embroidery on most of them. She's very good.

I did my own block. At the time I wasn't a quilter. I was only a quilt dreamer. I chose to do a crazy quilt block using the fabrics and embroidery threads Mom had selected. I didn't really know what I was doing because not only was I not a quilter, I wasn't much of an embroiderer either. I'd done some when I was younger but not much.

My block wasn't actually crazy pieced, by the way. I chose a crazy piece layout and then appliqued on the pieces of patterned fabric leaving enough white spaces for the details. The fun part, though, was doing all the crazy embroidery. I referred to online instructions and overall, I think I did pretty good for a first-timer. I enjoyed adding the beading, as well. Again, thank you Google.

Since I was at my brother's place this weekend for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner (thanks, Lynn and Darrel), I took advantage of the opportunity to get a few photos of the quilt.

Thanksgiving Table Runner

I had some corners left over from another project and rather than throw them in my scrap bin or in the trash, I decided to sew them together right away. Which led to trimming. Which led to a finished project ... 9 hours later! I started on Friday with no intention of completing a project but then felt a table runner gift for my brother and sister-in-law coming on and since we were leaving the city in the morning to see them, I was up until 3:00 a.m. finishing it. Well, almost finishing it. I left the hand sewing of the binding for the 2 hour road trip, which turned out to be exactly how long it took me to sew the binding on. Things always take me twice as long as I think they should.

My brother has a grain farm in a part of Saskatchewan well known for the numbers of geese that can be seen (and hunted) in the fall, so I chose to make my little scraps into flying geese going both north and south. 

I like it. I didn't get very good photos, though. It was on the table before I thought to get proper photos outside while it was still very nice out.

October 1, 2014

Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild - Traveling Quilts

I'm so excited about our new project at the Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild! We've started "traveling quilts". That means each person signed up (and I think there are 12 of us) chooses a theme and then makes a first square which then gets passed off to the next person on the list, etc, until all 12 people have added to the quilt. It should take a year doing 1 square per month. At our guild meeting on Sunday everyone showed their starter block and talked about their theme and/or instructions and limitations. They all sound so interesting. Someone wants stars ... any kind of stars ... any size. Someone wants to end up with a "neighbourhood" quilt ... so blocks of any size with white background fabric but with something that would be in a neighbourhood. There is a seasons theme, a log cabin quilt with limited palette, a tree quilt, a quilt that starts with feathers ... I can't even remember them all it went so fast. They all sound cool! Some people provide their own fabrics, some leave it completely open with some limitations that fall between.

Here is my starter block. My theme is "What's Your Sign?" My instructions are for everyone to very loosely (or literally) interpret some aspect(s) of their zodiac sign and make a block of any size (not attached). My only fabric limitations are "no batiks" and while it doesn't have to be matchy-matchy, I hope that the what everyone uses fabrics that will coordinate with the tone, hue and style of the fabrics I used. I also asked that people to make a signature block the same size as mine but they can use narrower borders if they need more writing space. The signature block should include name, birthday, zodiac sign, and a "clue phrase" so I'll easily be able to match their signature with their block.

My block design includes the glyph (symbol) for Aquarius and I've added 7 flying geese. Apparently the sign of Aquarius is linked to "large flying birds". Some information about Aquarius suggest 7 is a lucky number for Aquarians. Aquarius is an "air sign" so the idea of the geese flying across a blue sky seems fitting. The purple in my square represents Amethyst, an Aquarian gemstone and the Aquarian colour is usually called "electric blue" or "sky blue" The colour turquoise, which is also listed as a stone, is linked to Aquarians.

I will be thrilled to end up with a quilt that represents the hearts and special talents and visions of my dear guild member friends.

September 30, 2014

Mini Quilt for Kim (SMQG Modern Mini Swap 2014)

This is the first mini quilt I've ever made. Our quilt guild (Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild) arranged a swap and Kim's was the name I drew. I don't know Kim very well. She's a newish member and hadn't been at very many meetings at the time of the swap details. I tried to stalk her a bit to get some sense of her taste and this is what I came up with. I used an excellent online tutorial (raspberry kiss block) by Rachel of Wooden Spoon Quilts.

I have to say, until recently I didn't really GET mini quilts. But I had an ah-ha moment after I put together my quilt studio, which is sadly devoid of quilts on its walls. Mini quilts will be PERFECT for it! It's also a very good way to test blocks that look interesting before committing to them in a big way.

This might seem like a quick project but it took me way too long! Not only am I an excruciatingly slow quilter, It takes a lot of time to dig through scraps to find all the right little pieces and then to cut them all. Once that prep work was done, it didn't take very long to put together 25 little squares. After arranging them, though, I felt that some of the squares weren't as intense in colour as my favourite ones and I decided to make more squares using more intense colours. And then I tried a double-sized block to play with. Ultimately, I decided to make Kim's mini with 25 of the squares with the strongest colours. That left enough left overs to put together a bonus mini-mini quilt for me! It turned out to be fortuitous because I could use the mini-mini for a first run on all the next steps and I made several errors, which were spared on Kim's quilt.

Last Sunday we swapped mini quilts at our meeting and much delighted squealing and ooo-ing and ahhh-ing ensued. Honestly, the whole bunch of them ... at least a dozen or more ... were so amazing! Real eye candy! They were all so different and used so many different styles and techniques. I was truly blown away! I can't wait to see the photos of them on our guild's blog because we did not have nearly enough time to truly examine and appreciate them all as much as I would have liked.

Kim's Mini Kisses Quilt is 22" square and I used mostly scraps and a variety of low-volume background fabrics. The mini-mini quilt for me is 17" square, and uses the same materials.

What I learned:
  1. My accuracy has sure improved. No unintentionally wonky blocks
  2. I finally taught myself how to put the binding ends together so it looks likes all the other joins. I made a mistake on the mini-mini doing this for the first time but got it right for Kim's.
  3. I learned how to put corners on the back for hanging the quilt. No biggie, but it did distract me enough that I accidentally sewed the binding onto the back side of the mini mini quilt instead of the front, a mistake I didn't repeat on Kim's quilt. It does look neater and thinner when the binding is sewn onto the front. 
  4. I learned a bit about colour ... hue and tone.
  5. I learned that spiral quilting can make a quilt "warpy". My mini-mini was very rippled but was much better after a pressing. It is still a little warpy but not too bad. My spiral quilting was about 1/4" apart on that one. I made them 1/2" apart on Kim's quilt in hopes of reducing the warping. It didn't warp as badly but that might also have been because of the batting, which was different in both quilts. The mini-mini had a loftier batting and perhaps it pulled more.
  6. Starting spiral quilting is a little tricky because the circles are so small at first. To start, I shorten my stitch length, gradually increasing it to #2. I learned that my machine prefers to stitch at #2 and nothing bigger. As soon as I try bigger stitches, the stitches don't look as defined. I'll stick with #2.  At first I have to take a stitch or two and then left the foot, turn the quilt a bit, lower the foot, take a stitch or two ... repeating this until turning gets easier. I also drew the start of my spiral on a dryer sheet and tried that on a test piece of fabric. I had read this tip somewhere and thought I'd give it a try. If it had worked, it would be a great use for those used dryer sheets but don't do it. Those things do not want to tear away. Back to good old freezer paper, which works great and tears away easily.

September 4, 2014

A Quilt Studio For Me! At Last!

Sorry, Luke, but your bedroom is no longer your bedroom. It is now a magnificent quilt studio and I love it!

Last weekend we road tripped to IKEA in Edmonton and I bought what I needed for a stellar quilt studio! I bought a kitchen island to serve as a cutting table. I love the storage shelves on one side and the space for bar stools on the other (I will reserve a drawers for bar supplies, of course). I bought a sewing table/set of drawers combination and, of course, the famously irresistible little turquoise cart! The chair I wanted wasn't in stock so it's on it's way. And I need to get a bar stool. I plan on making the wall behind my ironing board a design wall. I also can't wait to get my surprise mini-quilt at the end of the month. That wall space above my cutting table is screaming MINI QUILT!!  Everything else in the room I had already.

The best part is that the light in the room is fantastic! It's the best light in the whole house and it's ALL MINE!! I even sewed a bit in there yesterday morning ... in my pyjamas ... piecing a back for a wedding quilt ... and the room turned out to be MOST efficient! I'm so looking forward to spending time in there. Come and visit me and hang out!

Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild members ... note the book shelves. Here is the basis of your guild library. You are invited to come and peruse whenever I'm available. You might even want to schedule a regular visit before or after our monthly guild meetings since you'll be in the neighbourhood anyway.  I'm only 4 blocks away. One of the books I have on display is called "The Missing Piece" (haha) by Shel Silverstein. My kids loved that book when they were little.

Thanks, Kevin, for all the assembly work you did to make me such a happy quilter! Thanks to my splurge pals, too! I used two years worth of my splurge $$ to put this room together. I will think of you when I'm in it!

Do I have to tell you how much I love my quilting studio? I do love it! I really, REALLY do! And that little cart makes me smile. A lot.

September 2, 2014

Back from Beyond with 4 Oink-A-Doodle-Moo Bear Paw Quilts

Let's just say I've been busy and leave it at that!

These 4 quilts have actually been finished for some time. All but the binding was finished in January of this year but it has taken me a very long time to finish hand sewing the binding on. As you might recall, I made a previous quilt with this fabric and was surprised to have so much left over. I then decided to make a Bear Paw Quilt but didn't take into account the directional fabric and ended up with all 4 of my bear paws going in the same direction. I LOATHE unpicking seams, so rather than undo a few short seams, I had the brilliant idea to just make 4 quilts instead! It ended up taking me much longer than I had expected, partly due to some mistakes in the pattern I was using, but ultimately, it's nice to have 4 baby quilts done!

Don't imagine you've seen the end of this fabric line, though. It never seems to end! I STILL have enough left to make at least another quilt or two!

While I haven't been very productive in 2014, I have been doing some quilting lately. I have a Riley Blake Challenge quilt top finished and a wedding quilt top done. I hope to post photos of those soon. I have to make a mini-quilt for another quilt guild member in September, so I'd better get cracking. I have a wedding quilt I want to finish for November and another to make for February 2015. And then there are all the other projects I want to make for people I love. SO MANY! 

One of my next posts, though, will be to show off something I'm VERY excited about! Kevin and I made a trip to Edmonton last weekend. To IKEA. I can't wait to show everyone! Soon!

One of the quilts has been gifted so far. This sweet little guy is my friend Berny's grandson. I think he likes it!

Addendum - September 22, 2014

A 2nd quilt in this collection of 4 has been gifted. This one has goes to Keaton. He and his Mom and Grandma stopped by for a visit today.

February 25, 2014

Binding Tip - Happy Accident

I accidentally discovered a very useful way of keeping my binding tidy when machine sewing it onto the edge of a quilt.

I had made the binding for 4 baby quilts and after I coiled it, I thought it would look nice in a couple of little, round baking dishes I have. After taking a few photos and admiring the "cinnamon buns of binding", it was time to actually start sewing them on. I set the bowls on the little table beside my machine and started sewing, keeping an eye out just in case the bowls got pulled to the edge but they were heavy enough that they stayed perfectly put and the binding unwound smoothly while I sewed it on. It was great! And it prevented a lot of fraying that usually happens while I'm sewing the binding on.

I've seen other methods that include winding the binding onto a large spool that sits on top of your machine or winding the binding around the foot of your plexiglass surface, if you have one of those. I do and was going to do that but honestly, this was SO much easier.

I love a happy accident! Hopefully someone else will find this tip useful.

A Baby Star Quilt for Leah – A 2013 Finish

It's taken me a while to photograph and deliver this little quilt but honest, I finished it in 2013. Legit. I only delivered it to Leah, though a little while ago but before her first birthday, which is the same day as my husband Kevin's. Yes, he gave her her first pair of shoes, in case you were wondering. As we understand it, if a baby is born on your birthday, you have to give her or him their first pair of shoes.

This quilt is made from a charm pack of Coquette, some Kona White and some pink floral patterned Minky for the backing. I used an unidentified aqua fabric from my stash for the binding. Push came to shove for me with baby quilts in 2013 so I eventually dumped 5 of them off with Lynette who does long-arm quilting for me. Minky is so troublesome to run through my machine that even the contemplation of quilting with it myself is stressful so I gave myself a break and let Lynnette take care of it. She did a sweet all-over floral with variegated thread on this one.

I took photos both outside on a sunny day after a fresh snowfall and indoors. It's difficult to get good quality quilt photographs in my house, especially in winter.  All of my photos of Leah with her quilt are quite badly out of focus. Either she or me was in way too much motion to get a good still photo, but I posted the best of them anyway – Leah, her Mom and her Grandma with the quilt.

Enjoy the show!