Wednesday 31 December 2014

2014 Wrap Up

What a year. For the first seven months of 2014 I was home with my new daughter, foolishly optimistic about the additional time I would have to do quilting. Alas, my older daughter also insisted on things like being fed and having clean laundry, so I did not get as much time as I would have wished.

If I visit my plan from in January as to what I wanted to get done this year, I discover this:

-Indian Summer Quilt for new baby CHECK! This was a pleasure to finish for my wee baby and was the background for many photo shoots!
-Work on SBC blocks from 2013 CHECK! I got all the blocks done. And the binding made. Still need to make all the sashing, though.
-Rainbow wall hanging quilt for new baby CHECK! Colour Collage was actually the first quilt finish of 2014.
-Cat quilt along blocks Nope. Didn't touch even one.
-Baby quilt for my friend K who is expecting a little boy in April CHECK! Arrows in Flight was made for this sweet little boy.
-Architextures Quilt for my dad. Finally. I should start this one early to make sure it gets done! CHECK! I made Tranquility and delivered it to him for his birthday. And he loves it!
-December: Red and white quilt for my husband's step-grandmother (hard to explain, but she is so lovely and I want to make her one). CHECK! I made Candy Cane and delivered it on Sunday to Nana!
-Pink and green quilt for the twins' older sister, M CHECK! Dollhouses.
-Star Wars quilt for a little boy turning 9 this year CHECK! The Dark Side was a serious hit. His uncle was jealous, actually.

Other projects, if I can:
  • I bought some soft books from Jo Ann's that I want to try to make for a few babies I know Well, I made one. So I will count that as a check.
  • I want to make a pillow for the baby's room and some for the new pull-out sofa bed in my guest room I did this one, too. I love the matchstick quilting and the colours and learned about scale.
  • I plan to make my daughter's SK teacher a book bag for June as a thank you gift (and fill it with some books!) I did make her a bag. And a story pillow. And two crayon roll ups for her young sons. That is a win!
Looking back, I was remarkably productive this year and accomplished most of my list. 
Quilts from top middle, clockwise: Candy Cane, Chandelier, Seeing Spots, Arrows in Flight, Addition, Stone Arrow, Dollhouses, The Dark Side, Summer Dream, Tranquility, Colour Collage, Blueberry Orange Parfait
I made a total of 12 quilts this year even with a new baby in the house. I also made lots of crayon and marker roll ups for my daughter's sixth birthday party and several other small projects (like a mini quilt and a yoga bag) so I am feeling pretty good about this reflection!

Hopefully I can get even more done in the new year. I learned so much and enjoyed quilting so much this year and I think that as my skills improve my enjoyment also improves. Hooray for a great 2014 and here's to a great 2015!

Happy New Year!


P.S. I just went back through my blog and, true to form, I forgot two quilts. So I made 14 quilts this year! Mint Julep and Monkey Business:

Tuesday 30 December 2014

December Kona Solids

My December Kona solids from Sew Sisters came quite some time ago, but I've been too busy- and there has been too little light- to take a picture.

Here is the inspiration photo. I do like a cute kitty picture!
I don't think my own cats would be as tolerant with a hat and bow on.
And the selections are here:
Left to right: Bone, Ruby, Red and Ivory.
Red is very, very red. Very much a Santa red. The Ruby is more to my taste (which must be why I used a ton of it on my friend's quilt). The Ivory and Bone are pretty interchangeable. The bone has more of an antique colour to it, but both are pretty gentle off-whites.

I think I'm discontinuing my subscription. The solids are stacking up and I'm just not using them. I'm also not as excited every month to receive the package. I think that is a sign to end it, for now. Maybe another subscription is in my future one day!


Sunday 28 December 2014

Life is a Highway

I didn't mean to take such a long break from blogging but that long stretch from (Canadian) Thanksgiving to Christmas has been extra busy this year both at work and at home, and blogging fell to the bottom to the "To Do" list. It also doesn't help that this time of year there is essentially zero hours of light where I'm not a work so taking pictures has been impossible.

I have been doing little bits of sewing, including getting Christmas gifts done. The one I wanted to share was this Matchbox Cars holder that my sister-in-law pinned on Pinterest and then sent my way with a nudge and a wink. My two-and-a-half-year-old nephew loves cars and has them all over their basement so I can totally see why she wanted something like this.
I used some fabric from my stash for the strips- they have road signs all over them. I bought iron-on lettering instead of stencilling the letters like in the tutorial because I thought this was much more practical in terms of time and skill level. I finished off the bottom with some car ribbon because the tutorial had very strange measurements and nothing quite worked out properly.
My nephew will receive this gift today so I hope his mom is excited. I really like one detail that you can't see here which is that I made the inside of each pocket the colours of a stop light- two strips each of red, green and yellow tone-on-tone Pearl Bracelets by Lizzy House. It delights me, even if they never notice! The solid is Kona Steel which I did have to order, but I did it at the same time as picking up the Kona Poppy for my friend's shower quilt so it wasn't too bad.

In other news, I recently listed all the baby quilts I need to make in time for March. I found out at the end of December that a male co-worker whom I adore is expecting his second little boy in January. Ack! Move that up the priority list! Below is the pull I made to complete the quilt. I have a very, very simple pattern in mind so I hope it whips up quickly!
Those Ann Keele owls are the foundation of the whole thing. Too cure, right? And see what I mean about lighting? Bah. It is all under lightbulbs lately since there is no natural light to be found these days! I can't wait for spring...
I am still hoping to get that shower quilt done before the end of the year, but I'm not holding my breath. And I have a small gift to make a co-worker for January that I want to get done before I'm back at work on the fifth. I also want to do my annual quilt planning for the year blog as well as my year-end wrap-up blog, so I'll have to make a point of spending some time to write! I feel particularly embarrassed when bloggers whom I follow- like Jenn from A Quarter Inch from the Edge- are blogging regularly even with small babies (or twin newborns in Jenn's case!) and here I am not blogging at all!

Here's to more posts and more sewing time in the near future!


Friday 28 November 2014

Chandelier: A Finished Quilt

A neighbour is expecting a little girl on December 31st and I knew I wanted to make her a small baby quilt. This is her second daughter but her first is already almost 11 so I think she is pretty much starting from scratch! I originally planned to make them a sort of wild black, white and neon coloured quilt but I couldn't make it work so I asked for the nursery colours. Can you tell, from this quilt, what the colours are? :)

I used my Tumbler template again as this is very easy to assemble, quick to cut out and still more visually interesting than simple patchwork squares might be (which I also love, don't get me wrong). All of the fabrics came from my stash, including the backing which I picked up at some big sale at Pink Castle Fabrics at least two years ago.

Here is Chandelier:

I bound it using some left over white-on-white binding from my Candy Cane quilt.

The name comes from that Riley Blake fabric with the chandelier. Notice lots of Lotta Jansdotter, plus various pulls from my stash that I don't even know what they are anymore.

I did echo quilting along all the seams and rotated the quilt at the junctions to match up with the tumbled effect of the quilt.

The back is all one fabric, a Moda fabric I picked up ages ago. The soft grey is nice but I'm not thrilled because the white is creamier and the binding is crisper white. But it will do.

The echo line quilting looks cool on the back.
Mom is hoping baby will arrive early, and if she does I'll be ready!


Thursday 27 November 2014

November Kona Solids

My November Sew Sisters solids arrived! Normally Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge, who lives several provinces away and gets her bundles later than I do, hates when I post my fabrics because I get my package so much sooner than she does and it ruins the surprise. I think this month I'm safe since I'm sure the arrival of her twins must have her much too busy to check the blog world!!

This was the (somewhat predictable) inspiration photograph. Really, Ontario looks like this in October. By November we are much bleaker and winter has really attacked!
Pretty fall colours.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the colours are all very different from each other which is nice since the last few months have had colours so similar it was hard to distinguish between them.
From the top: Terra Cotta, Mocha, Palm and Natural.
They are all colours I wouldn't choose but they all round out my Kona collection, so I'm pleased. Let's hope we don't get red and green for the December bundle!


Tuesday 25 November 2014

Baby Quilt Marathon

I will have a very busy first quarter of 2015 thanks to what my friends, neighbours and co-workers have been up to. Namely, getting pregnant. I have a LOT of baby quilts to make as several new additions are on their way. I thought I would share some of them here...and this isn't even all of them!

The first is a quilt for friends who are expecting their second in March. Just as with their first, they have decided not to find out the sex of the baby. As such, their nursery themes are orange and beige jungle. That was a strange combo to do a pull from my stash, that is for sure! I got the pattern from one of my Love Quilting and Patchwork magazines. This one is by Bari J. This is the one I'm working on right now.
I made should have though this one through. There are about a million tiny 1.5" white sashing pieces in each block. Ack!
The next quilt is for a friend/former co-worker expecting her third in three years. Heavens. This time she's having a little girl (her first two are boys). I thought I knew what I was going to do until she shared her vision of the nursery and I ended up pulling a much bolder palette- this is mostly Up Parasol by Heather Bailey. I am going to do a modified Puddle Jumping pattern from Camille Roskelley.
That Lark fabric (far right) appeals to the mom, so I am going to surprise her by using it in this baby quilt!
Then I have another friend/co-worker due in March (I know, right?). I am using a very simple pattern from Quilty magazine and using grey and green as she is expecting a little boy and these are her nursery colours.
I love that these don't read "baby" but that this sweet little boy will have a quilt perfect for tummy time!
And then I have yet another ex-co-worker/friend who is expecting her second, a second girl, also in March. I am loving these colours from a bundle of Brambleberry Ridge by Violet Craft. Now I just need to find a fat eighth-friendly pattern. Any suggestions?
The subtle shine of the gold in these prints is divine.
And then there is the co-worker/friend who is having a little boy (or rather his wife is) by the end of March. (Can you tell what my co-workers were up to at the beginning of the summer?) I am using a free rocket ship quilt pattern from Cloud9 and this awesome bundle from Fabricworm to make a Science/Space themed quilt (the dad is a Science teacher). I hope to surprise them with this!
I love those test tubes and beakers!
There is at least one more April baby for whom I'd like to make a gift, but I am certainly of the mindset that my friends better stop getting pregnant! On the upside, every bit of fabric was from my stash. What better way to use your fabric than on baby quilts for precious wee ones?

Any thoughts for that fat eighth bundle?


Monday 24 November 2014

Mini Sewing Retreat

Thanks to my ever-generous quilty friend A I got to spend several lovely, kid-free hours sewing a couple of Saturdays ago. She offered her home and a few of us came. Unfortunately C had to abandon us for her Nan (when your grandma calls to help at the church bazaar you don't say no!) but CW and K were both able to attend. K made a delicious chili, I brought goodies (including mini Haagen Dazs ice cream...yum) and we sewed and sewed!

K recently bought herself a base-level Janome and it is adorable and wonderful. I could see myself buying one to use as a travel machine because I hauled my big ol' girl and she is HEAVY.

I wanted to work on a few things (and I did) but my main focus was to get the experience and advice of A with a pattern for a yoga mat bag that I wanted to make for a friend at work. She had all these little bits and bobs that I needed (the woven webbing material that I had never heard of, for example, and she was incredibly generous in letting me steal everything I needed). The pattern came from One Yard Wonders which is a great book if you are newer to sewing.

What I wanted to share specifically was that we got to use this cool new circle-cutting tool that she had picked up after attending a quilt show talk that involved a quilt with lots of circles (I think it was Zen Chic she went to see?). She bought this and I was the perfect excuse to break it out and try it together. A and I worked the tool and K took the pictures. Teamwork!
This is the tool. It is very much like the compass you would use in high school math to draw circle, except instead of a place to hold your pencil it has a tiny circular blade.

A held the fabric and I worked the cutter. We did it on a scrap piece first to make sure it would work. The circles were for the bottom of the yoga mat bag. Getting used to how much pressure was necessary was the trickiest part.

Ta da! Two pretty darn perfect- and pretty darn easy circles! The fabric is from my stash, purchased from the discount room at Sew Sisters some time last year.
The bag came together really well (thanks to A's help!!) and I got CW to model it for you here:
Cute, right? (The bag and CW).
I didn't end up using the D-ring that they suggested because I thought this worked really well. A was an amazing help, and CW and K were in awe that I finished something in one short sewing session. They are the newer sewers/quilters and I can only imagine what they will be able to accomplish as their skills grow!

I was so pleased to have a day with wonderful people while sewing. I'm lucky!


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!