Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Candy Cane: A Finished Quilt

As a result of a Blogger's Bundle of the Month Club that I was in, hosted through Fat Quarter Shop, I sometimes received bundles of fabric that were not at all to my liking or taste. One such bundle came full of different reds and with what I would consider "old fashioned" fabrics like those from the French General line (which is wildly popular in some circles).

I was inspired by a pin on Pinterest to make a red and white quilt and, because the fabric is a little "old lady" for my taste, to gift the quilt to an old lady: my husband's stepmother's mother, Nana. She is the kindest woman you'll ever meet and even if this was the ugliest quilt ever made I assure you she would adore it because it was handmade for her. Her health has been a bit challenging this year and her husband, Papa, has also been quite ill which has been stressful for her. I think a beautiful red and white quilt as a Christmas present will help cheer her up!

So here is Candy Cane, being held up by quilty friend CW who was  not impressed that at our retreat I wanted her to hold it up for me in the rain. Apparently complaining about quilt photo shoots isn't restricted only to my husband. :) She was a trooper.
It is also important to note that CW is not nearly as tall as my 6'1" husband.  The binding is leftover white-on-white fabric and I think it frames the quilt nicely without being overly bold. I have never bound a quilt with white before but I think it works!

Here I think all the reds play nicely together. The whites are all white-on-whites because I thought a crisp Kona White would be too stark against the more traditional fabric.

The back is all one fabric. I got this one on clearance from Sew Sisters quite a long time ago because I knew I wanted something red but not too RED, you know? I love it.

I echo quilted all the seams with a variegated red and white cotton thread using my walking foot. 
This is a generous lap-sized quilt, especially considering Nana is a pretty tiny lady. I hope she loves it and gets lots of cuddling under it!


This Friday I'm going to try to remember to link up to Finish It Up Fridays with Crazy Mom Quilts. Here's hoping my brain doesn't let me down!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Fabric Consultation Services

I love my day job. I support high school teachers as they continually learn and grow in terms of their instructional strategies, assessment practices and integration of 21st Century teaching tools. And I love my hobby, quilting (with some occasional sewing thrown in).

But I got a glimpse the other day of another career that would be awesome: Fabric Consultation Services.

I have this friend, R. She is known to be very, VERY particular about her tastes. She has been known to return gifts without remorse- including from her poor husband and even her own mother. She likes what she likes, which I admire, but goodness she can be hard to please!

This friend R, if you follow my blog, is the same woman who commissioned me to make the quilts for her boys' "big boy" beds. And she trusted my vision totally. She also loved the end result and told me she was so glad she had trusted me. This same friend also brought me with her for input in selecting fabrics to have pillows custom-made for her living room.

Well now this friend is expecting her third child in three years (I think she's nuts) and she is having a little girl. She has a vision in her head of how she wants her nursery to look and she texted me about wanting a particular kind of crib (a Jenny Lind crib? I didn't know they had a name?) and wanting to inject colour by having a really "wow" crib skirt made and maybe some pillows or crib sheets and bumpers. (I teased her about the forbidden bumpers, but I digress).

We texted back and forth for close to an hour with me honing in on her vision, sending her link after link to bundles and individual fabrics that I thought might fit her vision. She loved everything I was sending her but insisted they were not "it." The more I sent her the clearer my own understanding was and the first hint of "Oooo, that's close" was when I sent her a link to Katy Jones' Priory Square:

Limited Edition AGF Priory Square fabric by Katy Jones
So we were getting somewhere. I then I sent her something more "out of the box" by sending this:
Dreamlandia Illuminated from Utopia by Frances Newcombe (also AGF)
She loved the colours and the scale but the deer head was throwing her off. And then it came to me:

Peacock Waltz Gala from Bari J's Petal and Plume line coming out in December (more Art Gallery Fabrics!)
She used words like "gorgeous" and "perfect" and said she had been searching for a peacock wall decal but couldn't find one so she had abandoned her vision. Until this fabric!
And after a few more suggestions I found her bumper fabric, this Ripple in Sea fabric, another Art Gallery/Bari J print that should compliment the peacocks beautifully!
Ripple in Sea
It was such a thrill to do all that searching and suggesting and then finding the perfect combo for my very picky friend. :) I could see it being so much fun to work with people and narrow down fabric choices for them and help them find what they are most desiring!

So if anyone can find out a way for me to switch to that job and still make a decent salary, please let me know. I knew my obsessive trolling of fabric sites would come in handy one day!


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

WIP Wednesday: Get 'Er Done

I have several quilts in progress right now. Last night I finished binding the red and white quilt destined for my husband's stepmother's mother for Christmas. With the time change it gets dark around here so early that I don't know how I'm going to get in a photo shoot with some good natural light!

I also just have to do the hand stitching of the binding of the yellow, white and grey baby quilt for my neighbour who is expecting a baby girl on December 31st. I did straight line "echo" quilting along the tumbler shapes, pausing at each "bend" to lift my walking foot and rotate the quilt. It has a pleasant end result that I'm quite pleased with and I hope the mom loves it. Hopefully I'll be finishing that up this week.
All these greys and yellows are nice together! I used a white thread for the quilting.
I also pulled out my last "2014" project that I really want to get finished. Two years ago my oldest friend got married and I was her maid of honour. I came up with the idea (thanks to Pinterest) of a guest book quilt for her baby showers (she had two). I had no intention of being the one who made this quilt, mind you, as both the bride's mother and aunt are very experienced and talented (though more traditional) quilters. So the bride's aunt prepared 6.5" squares with freezer paper on the back to stabilize them, and after both her showers the blocks were sent to her. Where they sat. And sat. And sat.

I understand that sometimes you want to prioritize other projects, but when we hit the 1 1/2 year mark and my friend now also had a baby I knew I wanted to act. So I asked the bride if she wouldn't mind rescuing the blocks so I could put it together. And then I immediately abandoned the aunt's vision (a snowball quilt) because some people had signed too close to the corners for it to work. And then I went even further off-script because, since there were no other fabrics picked out, I suggested to the bride (now long since married and with a daughter of her own) that it might be fun to make the quilt in her wedding colours: black and white with a touch of red. The bride is also crazy about damask fabric, so I picked some up. I did a consult with a quilty friend, A, and then finally put together the quilt layout:
The sizes here look wonky because they are just loosely laid out on the floor, but now that it is stitched together in rows and I have the first two rows attached it looks pretty killer.
I used Kona Black for the solid and interjected that damask fabric here and there for variation. I since have ordered some Kona Poppy because none of the reds I had in my stash were a) a good fit pattern wise or b) enough to do a border around the entire quilt. The Poppy is on the way in the mail and I plan to do a thin 2 or 3" border of that, followed by a 3-4" inch black border. I think I'm going to use up the rest of the fabric and interject some patterned reds on the back in a simple checkerboard layout that uses that black, white and red since I have 6.5" squares left over of the white used for the signing and of the damask.

If I get this quilt done before midnight on New Year's Eve I will consider myself in great shape. I just can't forget that I also have other, non-quilt projects that I have vowed to get done by Christmas. Does anyone else feel on track?


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

October Kona Solids: What I Would Have Chosen Instead

This month I was hoping for a really "wow" bundle of Kona solids from my monthly Sew Sisters delivery. Last October had this gorgeous combo of greys that was dark and spooky and delicious because they were varied enough to really get a feel for the range you could work with. I even commented on the pleasant lack of orange and black, the "obvious" colours.

Then this year's October bundle arrived and...
Well that was expected.
I don't mind orange, not really. And green is a favourite colour, though perhaps not these sweet greens.
Top to bottom: Orange, Asparagus, Pear, Mango
Mmmmm. Food-themed colours. I will add them to my stash and know that one day I will be grateful for the addition of these solids! If I had picked some colours for the bundle, though, I might have used a picture like this:

And then chosen colours like this (from the Sew Sisters site, even):




What do you think? Did I do a better job than the orange and green from this month's picture?

And as a bonus, here is a picture of my baby trying to eat a pumpkin.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

I've Been Sewing, I Promise

It has been a wild and crazy October here so far, what with Canadian Thanksgiving (hello, hosting 12 people for dinner!) and my daughter's Science-themed sixth birthday party. Things are finally starting to feel a but like they're getting back to normal- as long as normal includes four birthday parties (other than my daughter's), oldest's daughter's dance class, swimming lessons for both girls, oldest daughter's sculpture class and additional classes for my six-year-old like her Halloween craft class coming up this weekend. Phew!

I HAVE been sewing. Most of it was the same thing over and over...marker roll ups for my daughter's birthday party.
They were all ready and they were a hit!
I also included with each one a Playmobil figure. Apparently at school the Monday after her party, two of my daughter's friends told her "It is good to have a sewing Mommy." They all loved the marker roll ups!

And then I got down to business on Sunday afternoon working on straight-line quilting the red and white quilt I'm making my husband's stepmother's mother (Nana) for Christmas. I initially meant to go wider based on my inspiration quilt found on Pinterest, but I started out too close to the seams and decided to just go with it. I'm already on to the binding with this one!
I used a Gutterman variegated thread in red that works beautifully.
And just when I thought I was done making crayon/marker roll ups, a man at work went out of his way to help me out (and made me look good with some co-workers!) so as a thank you I put together a crayon roll up for his youngest and a marker roll up for his eldest (both little girls). He was grateful and I was happy to be able to use my sewing skills to do something nice for him!
The birdhouse print is so adorable.
Also, I put together a mini quilt for another co-worker. It was her birthday, and my small team of six people who work in the same office "birthday bomb" each other by decorating the person's desk, bringing small gifts and celebrating the person on his/her birthday. She has a "J" name and likes teal, so I whipped up this mini quilt for her (in addition to getting her a cool mug and some cookies!). Here it is on display on her bulletin board behind her desk!
I used some leftover Lotta binding and it was perfect! Plus I get to see it when I'm in the office, too, so win-win!
Now I've moved on to a grey and yellow quilt for a neighbour expecting a baby girl later this year. But I have about 1000 more things I want to be working on at any minute so I need to FOCUS.

Here's hoping for more sewing time as October's craziness winds down!


Thursday, 2 October 2014


Ages ago I ordered a bundle called Glow with the Flow from Pink Castle Fabrics. I loved the quirky, modern look to the black and white dots with the bright, neon pinks, greens and oranges. It has sat in my stash for quite some time. When I found out some of our neighbours are expecting a little girl I thought of this bundle right away. They are young and a bit wild and I thought it would be perfect.

I put the neons with some black dots on white and made a pile of HSTs.
Post-pressing, pre-trimming.
And I started to put together a layout that fit my vision. This is what it was starting to look like:
I left that black and white print whole so that you wouldn't lose the graphic nature of it.
But. Then I ran out of black dots on white (but still had lots of colour). And since I am determined to shop my stash as much as possible, I pulled out a white dot on black print and made up another stack of HSTs to go with the first stack. And then I started to play with layout. Below are just a couple of the six or seven layouts I tried.
I tried putting the coloured dots together into a diamond.

I tried alternating the white and black dots and removing the black and white face print.
I went with adding in some neon squares that were whole squares, I tried adding white sashing and then black sashing, I tried putting like-colours together into pinwheels (all orange, all pink), and pinwheels with different colours. In the end...
...I stacked them all up and abandoned the project. It just. Wasn't. Working. I never do this. I stick through projects to the end! But if it wasn't working for me then I wasn't proud of the work and I didn't feel right giving it as a gift if I didn't love it. So I bit the bullet, texted the mom and asked what her nursery colours are.
Here is Plan B. Can you guess the nursery colours?
There is a whole lot of Lotta (Jansdotter) in this pull, and the fabrics are feminine but not babyish. I just need to select a pattern and then I can roll with Plan B (baby is due in November). I'm feeling this bundle a lot more and maybe one day inspiration will strike with the other pile. In the meantime, I'm okay with moving on!


Monday, 29 September 2014

Mint Julep: A Finished Quilt

A co-worker is expecting twins in November (to join her one-year-old daughter) and I made a baby quilt for each of the new babies (one boy and one girl). Monkey Business is for the little boy. This is Mint Julep for the little girl!

I have had navy and mint stuck in my head as a colour combo I needed to explore for ages. Pulling out charm squares from my scraps (I try to cut charm sized squares- 5"x5"- while cutting for other projects so I have a quick go-to for fast quilts) I was drawn to the navy ones. The mint jumped in to join the party and I was sold!

These are 5x5" squares in a simple patchwork.

I love how the navy plays with the mint.
 The back is again all one print, a zig zag in navy that I absolutely love. The binding is a mix of two leftover bits of binding from past quilts. Like Monkey Business, I was thrilled to use from my stash including my stash of leftover binding!
It seems that whenever I have the time to photograph a quilt lately it is in bad sunlight that back lits by quilts.

I used a stitch on my machine at maximum width to quilt this in these lovely waves.

Here is is basking in the sun.

The two quilts together.
The expectant mom is a lovely, kind woman who will definitely have her hands full with three kids under two. I hope these quilts are loved and well used when her two babies arrive this fall!