Monday, 22 September 2014

September Kona Solids

September's Kona solids arrived from Sew Sisters and it is a collection of four muted browns.
Hooray for books!
Though I am not really into browns I don't mind this combination. The Mushroom in particular has a nice tone about it that might make it a nice neutral in place of a white or grey. Don't get me wrong, I'll choose grey 100 times out of 100, but I need to expand my tastes sometimes too!
Left to right: Raffia, Straw, Mushroom and Cappuccino.
I have been working to see the good in all my Kona bundles, but I have the same complaint about this month's bundle that I did about last month. Two of the colours are very similar. As in, without a colour card you might not be able to tell them apart. You certainly wouldn't see much difference between Raffia and Straw on a computer (which makes me love this club because I get to see so many colours in real life). I am hoping that next month's bundle will have a bit more contrast between colours.

It does seem, however, that I can't be satisfied since I seem to complain every month. And yet I love getting my solids! I do encourage anyone who needs to start building a solids stash to check out this club. Though perhaps, unlike me, you will actually have time to sew with some of those solids...


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Addition: A Finished Quilt

A friend whom I love dearly commissioned me to make two double quilts for her boys' "big boy" beds and though I don't normally make quilts on commission, I had to do it this time!

Check out my post on the eldest boy's quilt, Stone Arrow.

And here is the little brother's quilt, Addition.
The front of Addition. My husband had lots of complaints about this one because it is so big and it was hurting his arms to hold it up. As you can see, it never got perfectly flat being held up. And that is with my 6'1" hubby standing on a chair!
A certain someone wanted in on the photo shoot.

Don't they look dreamy?

I did straight line quilting diagonally through the pluses and then echo quilted all the seams. I used a clear thread on the top and Sulky in Smoke on the bottom because the quilt had a very light front and very dark back.
This shot gives you an outline of my hubby but not a great idea of the true colour of the backing! It is a dark tone-on-tone Pearl Bracelet (in Shadow I think?) which reads as almost black in real life.
I added these details to both quilts- their first initials on the back in such a way that it can be tucked on the bottom left (if you were lying under the quilt) or folded over on the top so you can see the initial. I surprised the mom with this detail and I think she loved the extra thought.
 Addition was made up of many nine-patch blocks and it gave me endless headaches. Like the quilting. Or the sashing. I often was cursing this quilt (especially since most of the mistakes were a result of my carelessness) but I didn't give up. It helps that the recipient is a super adorable almost two-year-old.
I love how they look together. I wanted them to be cohesive (the same fabrics are in both quilts, with a few extra in Stone Arrow) but not be exact matches. 
Maybe I overdid it with the pictures...

They both have the same AGF Squared Elements binding.

And they look so good tossed together in a bundle!
It was such a delight to take an idea from a friend whom I adore, turn that idea into a concept in my head, select the fabric over several months, work for many months on making that vision a reality and then sharing the results with that friend. She totally loved them and was glad she had just trusted me to make the decisions myself. And she cried (though, she is pregnant so maybe the hormones? I told her this next baby needs to be a girl because I am done making giant grey quilts) which I love because I wanted her to not just like them but LOVE them. 

I think J and E, both too young to appreciate quilts now, will have many years to enjoy snuggling under these dark grey and crisp white modern quilts, commissioned by their awesome mom and made, with love, by me!


Friday, 19 September 2014

Stone Arrow: A Finished Quilt

There are times when a quilt sticks in your head and you can't get it out of there until you make it. When a dear friend mentioned to me that she wanted to commission me to make quilts for her two little boys' "big beds" and that she wanted the quilts to be dark grey I could not get the idea of a Pow Wow quilt from Cluck Cluck Sew in assorted greys out of my head.

In fact, I started sending her texts with pictures and ideas the day after she mentioned it. I would normally not make a quilt for someone on order. This was different in a few ways:
1. I love her to pieces.
2. She gave me complete creative freedom. She said "I trust you."
3. She was willing to pay for all the materials.

These parameters allowed me to give my time and creativity but still be able to afford to make two double sized quilts!

The first I will show you is Stone Arrow. It is for her elder son (who just turned three). He has an "E" name. I love this quilt so much, I can't even express how thrilled I am with how it turned out.

Front of quilt. It is quite big. The pattern only goes up to a twin size so I had to modify the pattern myself. The background white is Kona White (as always).

Fabrics used include: Denyse Schmidt grey eyelet, Madrona Road by Violet Craft, Juggling Summer by Moda, Ikat in grey by V&Co., Here Fishy Fishy by Heather Mulder Peterson for Henry Glass and Co., Minimalista by AGF, Feather by Alison Glass, Bella by Lotta Jansdotter, Pearl Bracelets by Lizzy House, Dumb Dot by Michael Miller, Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander, X+ by Alison Glass, Bike Path by Alison Glass, Remix Zig Zag in grey by Ann Kelle, Peppered Cotton
The back is an Art Gallery fabric called Pointelle in Shade.

My favourite part is the "E" done in tone-on-tone Pearl Bracelets using a tutorial from the Moda tutorials that went around the blogosphere a while back.

Doesn't it look so awesome bundled up? I used Art Gallery Squared Elements in Carbon for the binding (my go-to print for binding these days). I straight line quilted horizontally along each row and then did double lines down each vertical strip. I then did FMQ squares-in-squares for the white borders. All done with white Aurafil on the top and light grey Aurafil in the bobbin.
I was thrilled to bring this to the mom, R. She absolutely loved it, and the fabric choices. She loves the pattern and after admiring both quilts she cried! Stay tuned for my next post which will be the quilt I made for the younger brother, J. I made sure to take shots of the quilts together since they are meant to be a pair without matching.

The mom did say that she hopes they have their quilts for the rest of their lives and that she can imagine these quilts lasting them into adulthood because they aren't babyish in any way. And the dad gave me a high five for making "boy" quilts (he is generally anti-quilt because in his experience they are always girly and flowery).

It was a bit sad to say goodbye to a quilt that I think turned out so beautifully, but I love this family so much that I was also excited to see it go "home."


Saturday, 6 September 2014

August Kona Solids: Making it Work

My Sew Sisters Kona Solids of the Month fat quarters arrived! 
Inspiration photo. Does this mean I should drink wine when I sew with these solids?
The colours this month are mostly blues with one yellow thrown in.
Left to right: Daffodil, Cornflower, Grapemist and Windsor
The two lighter blues are almost indistinguishable from each other but I really like the dark Windsor colour. I thought that the yellow was the lemon of the bunch (see what I did there?). But I decided rather than lamenting about not liking the sweet yellow I should shop my (very healthy) solids stash and put together a solids combo with that Daffodil to make it work. I was channeling Jenn from Quarter Inch from the Edge when I did this.
From top to bottom: Sprout, Kale, Jade Green, Daffodil and Bright Pink.
Doesn't the addition of those tealy-greens and that bright pink make that Daffodil so much more appealing? 

Hooray for thousands of Kona solids! (Well, not thousands yet, but Sew Sisters might make it happen!)
Here's hoping for some of the new colours in the September bundle! (Ultra Marine anyone?)


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

In Excess

I often blog about the newest fabric that I have purchased. When I began sewing a few years ago I knew that I loved fabric but I very quickly became pretty much obsessed. I have a very healthy stash, and when I see fabric I love I often buy it because I want it, not because I have a specific plan for it.

But lately it has started to feel a bit...excessive. When my credit card bill is usually 50% fabric purchases (ridiculous, I know. Damn you, Paypal!), and when I look at fabric websites every day, and when my husband joked that he could see six piles of fabric just from where he was sitting in the living room (and he was right! There were six!) I started to feel a bit overwhelmed by fabric buying.
When friends recently went to the United States on a big fabric trip and they shopped for me (based on my instructions) I ended up spending more than them and I wasn't even there!
This Cotton + Steel will be a bag. The mint arrows will be the outside of the bag (it is a canvas) and the pink (cotton) will be the inside.

This Cotton + Steel print is one of my favourites.

They bought me an entire bolt of batting. Fifteen yards of it.
And there was a Pink Castle sale that had me buy some of this:
Purple unicorns from Far, Far Away by Heather Ross. My daughter saw it, took it and stole a pin from my sewing box to fashion a cape from this 1/2 yard. I think she loves it.

More Pink Castle buys, courtesy of my husband who lost a bet and owed me fabric as a result.
With this in mind, and knowing that I don't plan on cancelling my Kona Solids of the Month club, nor do I plan to entirely stop buying fabric, I have a plan moving forward.

For me, the year is actually September to June (because I am a teacher) and not usually January to December. From September to June I would like to "shop my stash" and resist fabric purchases as much as possible. I have so much fabric I could make 20 quilts a year for five years and still have fabric to make more. That is getting to be a bit gluttonous, I think. I am committing to making quilts using mostly my (very large) stash until June 2015. I may buy fabric, but I won't prioritize new fabric over current fabric. I hope I can do it and I start to feel less like I am buying beyond what is reasonable.

On a final note, I happened across a blog post from From Blank Pages where she is very candid about her fabric addiction. I was already planning on this post but I felt like she really highlighted how my jokes about being "addicted" to buying fabric can be a real thing for some people. I have never hidden any purchases from my husband, nor have I ever been short of money for needs (like mortgage payments or what not) but I can see some of myself in her. Read it. Does it strike a cord in anyone else?

So, wish me luck! I plan on shopping my stash for the next few months and spending time sewing instead of shopping for fabric. Is anyone with me?


Monday, 1 September 2014

Blog Around the World

I started to sew by teaching myself after asking for a sewing machine for my thirtieth birthday from my husband. That was four years ago. After a year and a half of sewing I tried my first quilt, something I thought would take years before I could accomplish. I got totally and completely hooked. That included being hooked on quilting blogs, which led to me starting my own blog.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when Jenn from A Quarter Inch from the Edge contacted me to ask if I would be interested in participating in Blog Around the World where she would direct her readers to my blog (and two other blogs). I encountered Jenn when I had a giveaway on my blog from Sew Sisters and she entered. I checked out her blog and a few entries in I had her on my Blogger dashboard so I wouldn't miss a post! She is sort of a Kona solids genius. Check out what she did with these strip colour quilts or how she made a silk purse out of a (Kona) sow's ear. Also check out her epic solid Starburst quilt with the coloured Aurafil quilting. AMAZING. I'm interested to see how the addition of twins (!) will impact her quilting time (she accomplishes a zillion projects a week, or so it seems). Jenn is also Canadian but she is in Halifax in Nova Scotia whereas I am close to Toronto in Ontario. Google maps tells me it would take 17 hours and 53 minutes to drive there. Ouch.

And so here I am to answer the following questions about myself, my blog and my creative process.

What am I working on?

I used to be a woman who finished projects. My quilty friends C and A would comment that I was great at actually following through and that I didn't have very many WIPs (works in progress). Somehow that has changed this summer in particular. Or, perhaps, it has changed while being on maternity leave because the addition of a new baby (on top of my almost six-year-old) has changed how I am able to work. Currently I have the following projects "on the go" (including those for which I have already selected fabrics):

1. Oldest WIP: Stitchery Dickory Dock's Sugar Block Club Block of the Month. I have the blocks made and the binding made (with the scraps from the blocks). I made this using a bundle curated by Red Pepper quilts and purchased from Pink Castle Fabrics. I already know the backing (IKEA Nummer fabric) but I have not been motivated to do the boring sashing bits.

2. Swoon. I participated in a #Swoonalong with several quilty friends this summer. I completed all nine blocks using Tula Pink's Fox Field line and a LOT of Kona Shadow. I decided to add sashing which really helped make the quilt look right. Now I just need to add the border (which are cut and ready to go) and then baste (yuck) and decide how to quilt this sucker.  I think this will end up being a 2015 finish.

3. Aviatrix Medallion. I don't even like medallion quilts all that much. Or at least I didn't until I saw Elizabeth Hartman's pattern in all Kona solids. I bullied a friend into doing it too and she is so much further ahead. This is a very very VERY complex quilt so I knew it would take ages. I have finished the centre medallion and I'm working on the grey HSTs for Border One. This one may be a very late 2015 finish or, dare I say it, 2016?

4. Grey quilt #1: A Plus quilt. This is for a friend's son, J. She commissioned me to make two double quilts for her two little boys, ages 1 and 3. They both are dark greys and lots of Kona White. I only agreed to make these quilts because I adore her and because she turned creative control over to me. I am at the hand binding stage with this quilt.

5. Grey quilt #2. This is for big brother, E. It is a Pow Wow quilt from Cluck Cluck Sew's pattern (which I LOVE). I love this quilt so much I don't really want to let it go. I have it basted it and I'm waiting for the FMQ fairy to inspire me.

6 and 7. Mint Julep and Monkey Business, simple patchwork quilts for twins due in November to a work friend. These should be quick finishes. You know, if I stayed focused.

8. Black and White shower quilt. A lifelong friend got married two years ago and I was her maid of honour. Her mom and aunt both quilt so I came up with the idea of having the guests at her bridal showers sign squares of fabric and make a "guest book" quilt. Her aunt had the squares for two years without touching it so I took over to get the project going. Now I just need time to fit it in!

9. A very modern quilt for a neighbour expecting a little girl in November.

10. A red and white quilt for my husband's stepmother's mother, Nana. I want it done for her for Christmas.

I also need to make a baby quilt for a friend from work who is due in January, a special car holder project for my nephew for Christmas and a bunch of crayon roll ups for my daughter's loot bags at her sixth birthday party. Oh, and have I mentioned I'm going back to work from maternity leave starting tomorrow?

How does my work differ from others who quilt?

I don't really know how to answer this question. I know that when I compare my quilts to that of my friend's mother and aunt, or my great aunt, I am definitely more modern in my pattern and fabric choices. I know that compared to my quilty friends I am more adventurous than one of them (she chooses more modern fabrics but more traditional patterns) and less adventurous than the other (who chooses patterns because they are hard). Maybe at only three years into quilting I don't have a solid identity yet.

Why do I quilt?

I have always been drawn to quilts. For my high school graduation I didn't want a class ring. I asked my parents to pay to have a quilt made (I guess at 18 my parents should have read the warning signs). My job is incredible and challenging and rewarding but I also need something to do that is not related to the consuming nature of my job. Quilting fits the bill because it is very challenging and I am constantly learning and my mind is busy but on something other than work. I find that refreshing. I also think I can express love through my quilts, and since I am a pretty tough cookie that is one of the few ways I do!

What is my creative process?

I read a lot of blogs and go on Instagram and Pinterest a lot. Sometimes fabric or patterns just speak to me. They jump out at me and then get stuck in my head and haunt me until I at least write them down in this little notebook I have that is just for quilting. I will sketch out or write out my thinking behind the quilt and then I will have it sitting in my brain begging to be made until I actually get to making it. The problem is getting things done because my mind has sometimes already moved on to the next project before I finish the grunt work (like basting) for the one I'm on. This hasn't been too bad until recently. The grey quilts are an example of this madness. My friend mentioned wanting quilts in dark grey for her boys and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Within two days I had sent her inspiration photos and explained my vision. She was sold without much consideration and then I jumped on making the quilts happening. Alas I am nearing the finish line but I'm already itching to make something colourful!

So that is all about me. Now check out THESE amazing women and their blogs. On September 8th they will have new posts similar in flavour to mine. Check them out!

The Edgy Perfectionist
Her title encapsulates her perfectly. Crissa works full time and yet creates the most incredible quilts and projects. She is meticulous and it shows in her work. She likes BOLD colours and fabrics like Tula Pink, Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett. When her mojo is flowing, watch out! I think the quilt she made that blew me away the most is her Out in Space quilt. Epic. Another Canadian, but closer to home than Jenn as she is in a neighbouring city here in Ontario.

How My Time Flies
An experienced sewer and quilter, this woman can do it all. Anita makes quilts but also clothing (including her own bras!), pillows, drapes and, well, anything you can sew. And she knits, too! She works full time and she is a very detail-oriented quilter (read: perfect seam matching every time. She told me she would teach me how but I know I wouldn't have her patience!) so her finishes are fewer. Anita has been working on a Dear Jane quilt for two years and I can't wait to see it together. Also, check out her incredible landscape quilt. She made this after taking a class on Craftsy. This is her first landscape quilt. WOW. Hooray for another local Canadian!

Peas in a Pod Creations
Kymberly is American, from Iowa. She was one of my first followers on my blog. She blogs about quilting but also about her knitting (gorgeous stuff that I could never make!). I am particularly captivated by her foray into making a Farmer's Wife quilt (a zillion tiny blocks with a zillion pieces each, much like a Dear Jane) because she is doing it entirely in black, white and grey. I have never seen one with a colour scheme like that and she is so good about explaining her process with the blocks and when she makes mistakes that she can live with and when she scraps it and tries again! I can't wait to see how it looks when it is all together because I think it is going to be worthy of a quilting show.


Saturday, 30 August 2014

When You're Itching for a Finish

I have been working on my grey quilts for what feels like forever. And I have been itching for something to be finished. I need to make quilts for twins due in November and recently discovered they are boy/girl twins. I took some time to play with fabric (my favourite part) from my stash and pulled out some fun ones. Like this fabric:
A Michael Miller Dot print that is so unusual I wasn't sure how I'd ever use it.
And I cut into the first of my Cotton and Steel basic bundle. Eeeeee! This line in so amazing and the selvedge, oh the selvedge!
This is the layout for the little boy quilt. Simple patchwork and crib sized. Aqua, teal, brown and green, inspired by those Ann Kelle monkeys. 
Do you also spy some Riley Blake Quatrefoil? 
The colour scheme is very unconventional but I am loving it all together.

And I've had a colour scheme of mint and navy stuck in my head. So out came the navy from my stash and some mints, mostly from Cotton and Steel.
Loving how these look together.
And I put together this lay out with them (the colour isn't so fab thanks to a sun setting behind me):
Also unconventional and I totally love it. This will be for the little girl twin.
Those will be super easy to piece and finish. If only I wasn't being called by the 32 HSTs that need pressing and trimming for Border 1 of my Aviatrix Medallion...
Calling my name.