Thursday 31 December 2015

So Long, 2015!

As this year comes to a close, I am reflecting on the quilts I made. I was shocked to discover I completed 18 quilts this year. It is somewhat interesting to note that 17 of them were gifts for other people.

Making quilts is soothing for me; I love the creativity and focus and building my skills. I also love the joy my quilts bring to others. And while each quilt made this year has a story, Flight may be the quilt that I look at with sadness as it was a gift for my friend's newborn daughter, a daughter my friend never got to enjoy because they both fell very ill the day after birth and only one, the baby, survived the battle.

Most of these quilts, however, were made for joyful occasions. Babies especially!

So here is a collage of the quilts finished in 2015- all 18 of them!

I am looking forward to more quilts in 2016: new skills, new fabric and lots of joy.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Wait. More babies?!

I know, I know. It seems like everyone I know was having a baby in 2015. I thought I was done with baby quilts for awhile.  Then I found out I have a new nephew arriving in March! His room is grey and mom is deciding on hints of navy or teal, so I pulled this bundle:
These colours make me very happy.
I have other plans up my sleeve for baby nephew. It involves paper piecing. I may regret it. The pattern printed out at 24 pages!

Also, my husband's cousin is expecting her first, also in March. She doesn't know if it is a boy or a girl but I'm hoping, knowing the mom, that these organic prints will float her boat either way.
Gender neutral and super cute without being cutsie.
I also have a work friend expecting boy #2 in March. I really want to put together something cute for her, but I'm stumped right now.

A bundle I DO have ready is this green and navy pull for my friends' three-year-old. He is one of two kids I still need to make quilts for in that circle of friends. I love this colour combo and all that Lizzy House!
I think I want a quilt in these colours!
I'm also working away on my daughter's I-Spy quilt. I'm pretty certain it won't be done by her birthday in January, but I added five more blocks after taking this picture and so now I'm happy about the size that it will be. This is an early finish for 2016, I think.
I love how this is turning out.
So, babies. At least three babies in early 2016. But baby quilts are fun to make because it means a little person will be enjoying it right away. And all babies need quilts, right?

Sunday 13 December 2015

Pretty in Purple: A Finished Quilt

This will, I am 99% sure, be my last quilt finished in 2015. A group of my friends, together for the last fifteen years or so, all have children around the same ages. I've been working through the families, ensuring each child has a quilt. This one is for a little girl, L, who is one year younger than my older daughter. She is a spunky, vibrant little person who loves purple. I wanted to make her a quilt that would appeal to her now (at age 6) but not immediately be too childish by the time she is "too cool" at age 11 or 12.

I used a pattern I've used once before, for my daughter's grade one teacher's thank you quilt, and I went with a bunch of purples from my stash. I tried to do a bit of a gradient thing where half of the quilt is bluey-purple and half is pinky-purple. I also added a white border on the top and bottom to better fit her twin-sized bed.

Here it is, Pretty in Purple!

It is bound in lilac Pearl Bracelets from my stash, and features some OOP Lizzy House, Riley Blake Chevrons, Kate Spain, a very Far, Far Away unicorns, Coton+Steel, Tula Pink, Lotta Jansdotter and some Amy Butler. Quite a mix in here!

Purple is one of my least favourite colours to work with, and this quilt had to grow on me. It is still not even close to my favourite, but I think a certain little girl will like it!

The back is mostly this print I picked up super cheap from Sew Sisters awhile back (I think it is an Art Gallery print?), plus bits of other purples from the front. I don't love it, honestly, and if I ever have to do another purple quilt I will stick to EITHER bluey purple OR pinky purple. Lesson learned!
With this quilt finished (and ready for the little girl's birthday the weekend before Christmas) I now have two more children to make quilts for in this group (out of 11 kids, that's not too shabby!).

Looking forward to finishing up my daughter's I-Spy quilt, hopefully in time for her mid-January birthday. Wish me sewing time this Christmas season!!

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Paper Piecing on a Sunday

This past Sunday I got some actual solid sewing time in and I used it to tackle the Take Wing pattern from Lilly Ella. I have seen the pattern all over Instagram and I think it is so stunning. My goddaughter has a pink and grey butterfly-themed bedroom (she's two) and so I was determined to try to make her a butterfly as part of her Christmas present.

As with any time I get into paper piecing, I first reviewed the paper piecing instructions from Stitchery Dickory Dock on Craftsy. This helped me brush up on the techniques because I don't do it very often.

If you have never done it before, paper piecing is time consuming and very messy. During the process it looks like a very cool hot mess, as captured below:
One wing starts shaping up.

This is the body of the butterfly as the very beginning.
My favourite ruler to use during paper piecing is my 4" by 14" Omnigrid. I first used this size of ruler at my friend A's house and bought one the same month. When you are moving from one section to another, you begin by trimming to a 1/4" edge. It is very satisfying to cut away all these bits.
The trimming is satisfying but messy.
Here is a shot of a trimmed versus an untrimmed wing.
Trimmed on the right, untrimmed on the left. A hot mess turns into something you can actually recognize!
I got really excited when I got to this point because I could see the butterfly emerging.
Wings BD and Body ABC. The thing is, I had the more complicated wings still to do. I was determined to finish.
I had a very few issues, but right away in the last two wings I made a mistake on both wings (because I did the same section of each wing back to back to ensure symmetry) by not using a long enough piece of fabric. This involved some VERY delicate seam ripping, because it ripped the paper too which is NOT good in paper piecing.
Yikes. I had to tear our those pink triangles.
I thought the wings looked super cool as they came together. There are 27 pieces in each Wing for A and C and each precise triangle is quite small.
I alternated between pink and grey, mostly from scraps.
I was SO excited to get all the sections pieced but I was also nervous about putting it all together because of the points. The pattern comes with tips as to how to best attach the wings. 
The impact of a mismatched seam would be significant.
By the way, I mentioned that paper piecing is messy. Check out just a few of the piles of bits from around my sewing room:
Trimming and picking through the bits.

More rifling through bits.
I had really good success with my points, actually. I very carefully pinned and sewed. I was very happy with the results:
Point on either side of the "head" of the butterfly.

Nice precise matching on the edges of the wings too.
The satisfying but finicky part of paper piecing is removing all that darn paper. It takes a gentle touch to avoid distorting the seams.

Removing the paper.
The paper itself leaves a mess too. I need to do a good vacuuming in there.

Paper carnage.
And, finally, here is the end result!

I love it! I hope my goddaughter does too!

I think I am going to frame it, rather than make it into a pillow or a quilt. I think it will look really great in her bedroom...hopefully her mom agrees!

Now I need to tackle my daughter's modern I-Spy quilt for her second birthday which is in January. 

Hooray for the Take Wing pattern!

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Seeing Purple

I have a group of friends who have been in my life for about 15 years and I don't think any of us would have guessed the life long friendship we have all formed. Part of this is living close together and our kids all being the same approximate ages.

I have made quilts for most of the kids in the group, with just three remaining. I know I need to get on correcting that, so I started with a little girl one year younger than my eldest daughter. This little girl LOVES purple. Her entire room is purple. Sigh. I am not so into purple.

I was thinking of a specific block and then decided I wanted to have the quilt done for her birthday (right before Christmas) so I needed a more practical, faster quilt. Then I remembered the giant star I did for my daughter's teacher in grade one and decided to do a giant, purple star.

I made all the blocks and then started playing with the layout. This was the first attempt and it just wasn't doing it for me.
That's a lot of purple. I was going for a darker side of the star (more blue purple) and a lighter side of the star (more pinky purple).
I struggled a bit until I switched to taking black and white photos on my phone to heighten the contrast and allow me to focus.
This let me find balance.
And here is the layout I eventually went with. I think I may have switched one or two before I actually pieced it.
It is definitely purple.
I am on the final binding stages so it will definitely be done on time, and I think I want to avoid purple for awhile!
I know she'll love it even if it is not my most favourite quilt I've ever made. Stay tuned for finished pictures of this quilt. It is growing on me the more I see it, especially now that is is quilted and has some borders to take away from how much purple there is!


Sunday 29 November 2015

Swoon: A Finished Quilt

At last. Finished. This was started in the summer of 2014 with a group of friends, all of whom also took on the Swoon pattern by Camille Roskelley. My friend A finished her quilt, six identical swoon blocks (in the same fabrics) for her niece, very quickly. I'm not sure where C is with her Swoon quilt, but I think the top is done. I'm pretty sure K stopped at two blocks, and CW made two or three blocks which she comes back to every now and then.

For me the Swoon was great practice with flying geese and colour value. It sat as an almost finished quilt top for ages because I had added the sashing but didn't want to put on the borders. That is so boring!

I decided to finally light the fire and get my (unoriginally-named) Swoon finished.

Here it is! (Note that taking pictures of such a giant quilt is HARD!):
Here it is in all it's glory. Technically it is sideways here (the quilting actually goes vertically) but my husband was holding it up and his arms were getting tired so I didn't push my luck!

This is the back. That strip goes vertically in real life. Those are HSTs I made using the trim off from the Swoon blocks. I love the impact.
 Sorry, but I felt the need to capture each block in a picture because they each shine in a different way. It would be really hard to choose my favourite one. All the blocks are made with Tula Pink Foxfield, the first line of Tula's that really captured my heart. The background is Kona Steel (at least I think so. It has been a very long time since I bought it! Maybe it is actually Ash? Opinion, Jenn from @Quarter Inch From the colour card is missing) It is a lovely light grey.

This one might be my favourite. And I'm not even a pink kind of girl!

This one also delights me. This green and aqua combo is awesome.

Swoon will be the first quilt in a very long time that I'm actually keeping. It fits my bed nicely, but has been getting lots of use in the living room (which is ridiculous because it is so huge...I need to get to making that Alison Glass throw quilt!)

I used a Cotton+Steel print in aqua and because of the way I cut it there is lots of movement (visually) in the binding.

A shot of the HSTs from the back. The main print is an Art Gallery print I picked up from the Modernology line ages ago when it was on clearance at Sew Sisters. I love how the combo really goes with Foxfield.

This quilt is far from perfect. I lost many points and the alignment is not so aligned. But I got it done, and I'm using it and loving it and I think that is much better than being stuck on how to quilt it or how to make it perfect. I love it!


Wednesday 7 October 2015

A One Week #OneHourBasket

There is a pattern that is floating around for a One Hour Basket. It is free to download on Craftsy and it pops up in all my social media feeds (particularly Instagram). I knew I would make one some day, and when I needed to think of a simple gift I could make for a co-worker's birthday, this pattern came to mind.

My co-worker is new to my team and I don't know her all that well. She identified that she likes orange and being playful, and my fabric selections definitely meet that description!

The basket ended up taking a week from when I pulled the fabric to when I finished it, though in reality I was much closer to the 45 or 50 minute mark of actual work. You know, life.
Using Wonderclips to hold the handles and to line up the seams of the lining and the exterior was very helpful.
I wanted to share something that I do when I'm constructing something that requires me to leave an opening. This pattern calls for not sewing a 3" section when attaching the lining to the exterior. When I pin around the bag, I mark the spot I'm not going to sew with double pins. That way, when I make my way around the basket and I get to double pins again I know when to stop.
Double pins are my way of marking stopping and starting points.
And here is the finished product! The handles in this picture look like they're different sizes but they are not. The overall result is super cute, for sure. And I instantly wanted to make another one.
Ann Kelle Robots and Kona Flame. Playful and orange it is!
My next One Hour Basket will for sure involve a pieced exterior with some quilting, and I would add more fusible batting for a stiffer overall basket.

This one is a winner for sure!

Monday 28 September 2015

Odd Shaped Blocks in Blocks "Tutorial"

When I set about creating a modern I-Spy quilt for my youngest daughter, inspired by (okay, totally ripping off) this beautiful quilt by From the Blue Chair, I didn't much think about the construction. Then I tried to make the first block using a log cabin sort of approach and I had lots of waste. I cut a piece a bit bigger than the finished block size I wanted, cut two pieces for around the center block and...ack, now the other sides were too small.

When I googled how to do this I found some tutorials for inserting centers of the same size and in the same location but that is not what I wanted. I had fussy cut with abandon, and each of my centers was a totally different size AND I wanted them to be randomly placed within the larger block. After some more experimentation I came up with my solution, and while this may be obvious to everyone but me, I thought maybe you'd like to see how I did it.

To begin, I fussy cut all my centers, in all different sizes. I just wanted to capture the best image. Then I used 1" strips of varying colours (with some Kona White for a restful look and, again, because I was copying From the Blue Chair's quilt) to surround each fussy cut center.

Then I cut a 12"x12" block from the solid colour I wanted.
That is a 12x12" block of Celestial with a little fussy cut sloth from C+S beside it, wrapped in a 1" border of Pomegranate.
I measured the sloth,(he was 6 3/4") then placed the center approximately where I wanted it.
Approximate placement.
Then I cut the width of the sloth, 6 3/4" (with the borders) from the square, as show below. That center strip is the same width as the sloth.
The strips on either sides will become the vertical strips on my block.
Then I used my ruler and cut the center strip approximately where I wanted the sloth to be in this square.
3" up I cut the center strip. This two pieces will become my horizontal strips in my block.
Then a cat helps by inspecting the whole thing, sitting right in the middle of the block you are making and trying to photograph.
Is it acceptable?
I then sewed the top and bottom horizontal pieces to the sloth, as shown below.
Doesn't he look lovely?
And then I sewed the two vertical pieces on, being sure to line up the bottom edge of the vertical pieces with the bottom of my center strip.
Now it looks something like this.
A little trimming gets it to the size I actually want (I decided on 10 1/2") and places the sloth exactly where I want. Starting with a 12" square let me play with where exactly I wanted the sloth (or any center) to actually be on the final block,
Ta da! Sloth is ready to go!
I used washi tape or painter's tape to tape up all my blocks since I still don't have a design wall in my sewing room.
The sloth is ready to go.
And I kept the momentum going making more and more blocks. Note that the center appears in a different part of the block for each one.
It begins...
This is the current count. I have 25 blocks done and now I need to decide if I'm done and can start sashing (in Kona White) or if I want to make 5 more.
I hope this "tutorial" (I'm using the term loosely) was somewhat helpful. If nothing else it will help me remember the process I went through to get this result. In addition, I really need to edit the photos before I upload them so you don't have to see my legs. :)