Saturday 30 May 2015

My Co-Workers Need Less Productive Hobbies

It seems lately that all I make are baby quilts. That is because everyone I know, apparently, has decided to get pregnant. I thought I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and then a whole new bunch of babies got announced. Figures.

One such upcoming baby is due in August to our neighbours. This will be their fifth(!) boy. Holy cow. It seems like yesterday I was making a quilt for their youngest!

The real issue, however, is that my co-workers need new hobbies. It wouldn't be such an issue if these weren't people I felt close enough to to make them a quilt (I do have lots of co-workers because of my job) but these are people I like or even love and so I have more baby quilts on the To Do list!

Expecting her first baby in July is a friend who started her career with me. I was her mentor during her first two years of teaching and we have remained friends ever since. Of course to make matters more difficult, baby did not cooperate on the ultrasound and she has no idea if she is expecting a boy or girl. Grrrrrrr. I picked the bundle pictured below to make the quilt. I totally love this combo and might want to keep the quilt for myself when it is finished! Now I just need a pattern. Suggestions?
Some Allison Glass feathers in Teal, some Lizzy House cats (they are crazy cat people), some Tula Pink...I just love these colours and patterns together!
Next up is a co-worker who is expecting a little boy in August. This was a total surprise miracle baby as she was told she would never have children, then managed to conceive a daughter against all odds eight years ago and now, again, another "shouldn't be possible" baby is on the way. Such an amazing story! Her colours for her nursery are grey, navy and white with a touch of red. I'm making a tumbler quilt because it is quite quick, beautiful, and I think will fit her style well. I've already started the pull for this quilt. I've decided to avoid red in the quilt top and to bind in red instead. I think the effect will be awesome!
Navy and grey. Awesome colours. It was hard to cut into my Arizona!
Then another co-worker is expecting for the first time. She is a lovely, kind woman who just got married in January and will now be greeting TWINS in late September. TWINS. Seriously. This is the second close co-worker in two years to conceive TWINS. Did I mention I have to make TWO QUILTS AGAIN? It is a good thing she is so darn loveable! She should find out the sex of the babies on Monday, so I am waiting to hear before I start pulling fabric.

So, as I said. my co-workers need new hobbies. Bowling? Crochet? Pottery? Something that doesn't result in so many babies!!! :)

Friday 29 May 2015

Chemotion: A Finished Quilt

A co-worker friend of mine welcomed his baby son to the world in mid-March. This is his second child and he is a wonderful man and dear friend so obviously I needed to make him a baby quilt. But what to use as inspiration? Though currently in a role outside of the classroom (much like me), he is at heart a Science teacher. I knew just the bundle to use, one I've hoarded for a couple of years after I snagged it from Fabricworm. A Science-themed baby quilt!

I used the same Quilty pattern I used for Hoot and Rocky Field because though I don't really like to repeat patterns too often, this one is just the perfect size and look for a baby quilt that needs to be somewhat quick.

I quilted this one using straight lines with my walking foot and I quilted it a bit more densely than the others I have made. I really love the end result and I hope my friend does too!

Here is Chemotion (Chemistry and Motion!):

I can't decide if I like the test tubes and beaker fabric more or the grid paper with all the calculations and pictures of microscopes.

The back is mostly a Riley Blake fabric from their Space Age line.

Nothing seemed quite right for the binding so I went with a scrappy binding made from leftovers from the quilt and I love it.

All ready to deliver to the dad!
Even though the quilt is late, I know he will appreciate it. I think the colours are super fun and the fabric is just right for this geeky Science dad. I hope their son enjoys lots of tummy time on it!

Linked up with Finish It Up Friday with Crazy Mom Quilts!

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Scrappy Rainbow Goodness

My daughter is rapidly coming to the end of her grade one school year and I want to make her teacher a quilt (as I did for her kindergarten teacher when I made Thank You Kate). I have been hemming and hawing about fabrics and patterns and then the end of May was approaching and I had to bite the bullet and pick a quilt already!

I ended up taking inspiration from a photograph of a quilt on Instagram by scrapstudio which I believe is based on a Moda quilt pattern. It is a very straight-forward pattern of HSTs and solid blocks so I just drew one up. Then I decided to make it very rainbow and scrappy and the insanity began.

Here is the layout I decided on in my notebook:
It took a long time but allowed me to audition different fabrics to get the look I wanted. Hopefully it looks good all put together too!
The solid blocks were easy but then I had a LOT of HSTs to make. The stack looked a bit overwhelming, especially since I opted to use the traditional two-at-a-time method so I can use the leftover HSTs for a quilt for the teaching assistant (if I have time).
I made the blocks 8x8" so I could trim them down to the 7x7" size I actually needed.

Trimming all those HSTs probably would have gone faster and had me less worried about a chopped tail if someone hadn't been so helpful.
I used a method to trim the HSTs that I had read about but never tried. It involved trimming the blocks before pressing them open. You line up your ruler (this is a great big 12.5" square ruler) with the size you want on the seam. In this picture, which is hard to see, the 7 is line up on the seam line (and was in the other corner as well) and then I trimmed around the remaining edges, then pressed them open. To learn more check out this tutorial that I used to figure it out.
Taking pictures at night=bad reflections
This gives you an idea of how the ruler fit over the HST (which is a very large HST- I think it would be even easier with a smaller block).
Before long I had a big stack of trimmed HSTs and pretty trimmings from those HSTs. It was SO FAST. And the results are excellent- accurate, neat, and the HST is still a perfect, well, half-square triangle! I'm never trimming them the old way again!
Success for less effort than usual!
I spent some time pressing them all open and they look great. Now I have to do the big layout so I can start putting it together! I think the time I spent planning it is paying off with how quickly the top seems to be coming together. Wish me luck with all those seams!

Linking up with Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesdays!

Monday 25 May 2015

Flight: A Finished Quilt (In Joy and Sorrow)

Eleven years ago in my first teaching job I met another teacher, R, and she and I became friends. Over the years the friendship strengthened and we developed both a remarkable professional relationship based on collaboration and similar teaching philosophies and a deep, personal friendship as we navigated marriages, children and life in general.

As a person, R was always smiling, always laughing, always good.  Being with her made my heart happy. She was a generous, kind, thoughtful, intelligent woman. I loved her so much that when she asked me to make quilts for her sons' "big boy beds" I agreed even though I am very strongly against commissions of any kind. You can read about Stone Arrow and Addition if you'd like to know more about how that process went.

When she was expecting her third child in four years I thought she was crazy but I was also sure she was having a girl. I was right! We went right to work plotting and planning her nursery design (you can read about my consulting services in a previous post). She ended up choosing a Bari J fabric for the main focal fabric but she also loved some Heather Bailey fabric and so I ordered it to make a baby quilt for her little girl. I also picked a chevron pattern using HSTs because she loved chevrons. I wanted to surprise her, so I never showed her what I had done. I now wish I had.

She and I were supposed to have a visit on the Tuesday so I could help take her mind off waiting for baby to arrive when she texted to tell me we would have to postpone because she was in labour. Her daughter, Sara, was born before noon. Everything seemed fine until a rough night Tuesday night resulted in Sara falling very ill followed by R. By Wednesday evening R was in a coma and she died the following Monday of an infection that got into her blood. She was 37 and left behind a newborn baby, a two-year-old and a three-year-old. There are no words for the grief her family is feeling, especially her mom with whom she was very close and her husband who now is raising three small children alone.

Today would have been her 38th birthday. I wish I could hug her and wish her happy birthday but instead I'm going to post about the quilt I have finished for her baby daughter, who will never know her. The baby is 100% healthy with no lasting side effects of the infection, but the lasting impact of never knowing your mom will be with her for her entire life.

Here is Flight, started in joy and finished in sorrow:

I took out the last name for this post.

The majority of the fabric comes from Heather Bailey's True Colours and Up Parasol lines. There is one print with peonies, her absolute favourite flower.

I shadow quilted the chevron shape which involved lots of stopping, readjusting and starting again.

The back is a single print, Lark in Loden by Heather Bailey.

This is a close up of the fabric. It is so beautiful and so like my friend but she didn't choose it because she wanted something with more colours to draw from for accents in the nursery.
I miss my friend every day. I desperately wish there was something I could do to help her devastated family. Instead I do my best to support them and send gifts of love, like this quilt. I have also offered, with the support of my quilty friends C and A, to make R's clothing into quilts for her children when her husband is ready to let go of her clothing. He has accepted the offer but isn't ready yet.

I miss you, dear friend.


Thursday 21 May 2015

Basting Mania

It has been productive end-of-line sorts of sewing around here lately. I got the binding sewn on one baby quilt and I'm just trying to get the hand sewing done on the back to get it finished. This quilt is particularly special and difficult because I will be gifting it to my friend's baby daughter but my friend passed away a week after giving birth. I will blog about the whole story in another post. Finishing the quilt has been a form of therapy but bringing it to the baby will be a difficult visit.
Binding is a satisfying step because I always feel like I'm so close to a finish!
I spent my long weekend getting this pretty purple and grey quilt top together to surprise a new friend who is expecting a baby girl this summer. She has no idea I'm making her a quilt and I hope she loves it!
The fabric is mostly from the Brambleberry Ridge line of fabric from Violet Craft. The gold accents throughout the fabrics add a beautiful dimension to the quilt.
I spent one evening basting. I hate basting and I can't thinking of any quilters I know (in real life or online) who actually enjoy this step. I also had to piece some batting together because I ran out of my roll of batting.
And I got the Science baby quilt for a co-worker all basted too. It is even quilted now so just some binding to finish on this one and I can get working on the next few in my list!
This quilt is at least a bit of a smaller quilt so the basting wasn't quite as difficult.

Here is one little close up picture of some of the Science fabrics I used for the quilt. It is such a fun baby quilt.
There is much binding in my future, and a few photo shoots. This is while packing up my house to move in early July so things are a bit crazy. Wish me sewing time!

Wednesday 13 May 2015

There's No Such Thing as Too Much Fabric

I made a commitment to try to sew from my stash, and honestly I'm doing pretty well. What I've discovered, however, is that if I really, really love a line of fabric it can't do much harm to order it. When the drool starts and it isn't a "well, it is on sale" purchase, then my excitement about the yummy packages makes it totally worth it.

That was how I felt about Natural History by Lizzy House. I already love Lizzy House (my love of Pearl Bracelets is quite well documented) and I had to have it. And when my friend C found a sale on pre-orders at The Intrepid Thread, well I had to throw this in the cart. When it arrived I was freaking out. This line is GORGEOUS. I love it. Totally worth a splurge.
Such a delicious mix of scale and pattern.

My favourite colourway is the emerald, to be sure. I have been into emerald lately and these are so yummy I want to frame them.
I think, however, that my favourite print might be these purple dinosaurs. The purple is just right- not too lavender-y and not too royal purple. The design itself is so awesome. This will be turning up in quilts in my near future!
So cute! I love her design sense.
Also, my very smart husband took my not-at-all-subtle hint that the number one thing I wanted for Mother's Day was a bundle of mini Pearl Bracelets. And he took note! Check it out:
By far my favourite is the Dragonfly colour (teal colour, second from the top on the left) but the whole bunch is AMAZING. They are such a fun scale.
I also have been trying to fit in some sewing. This is on top of my husband being away for ten days in Maine (golfing with his brothers and dad, so don't feel sorry for him) and the fact that I am on strike at work so I am doing strange hours with long walks as I picket on behalf of the teaching and learning conditions for secondary students in Ontario. This quilt top is in progress for a co-worker who had his second child, a little boy, in March. Yep, I'm behind. I'll post more about this quilt top soon, I hope!
Quilt top, using my new favourite baby quilt pattern from Quilty magazine.
Wish me a resolution at work and some sewing time at home, now that hubby is home!


Saturday 9 May 2015

At the End of the Rainbow: A Finished Quilt

A lovely co-worker whom I have known for many years is expecting a baby this spring. She promised to let me know as soon as she had her second ultrasound because she would be finding out the baby's sex. Alas, baby did not cooperate. At her third ultrasound she was eager to find out baby's sex and again promised to let me know. Of course, baby had other plans in mind. Now there are no more scheduled ultrasounds but a healthy baby on the way.

So what is a quilter to do? Why, make a gender neutral rainbow quilt of course! It is a small little quilt, perfect for some tummy time or for tucking around baby in his or her car seat or stroller. I think it is happy and perfect for any baby. I hope when baby arrives he or she loves it!

All these prints came from either my scrap bin or my stash. I love the grey and black rows- a bit unexpected in a baby quilt!

I straight-line quilted through each of the blocks using white thread for a simple design.

I used a Tim and Beck elephant print from my stash that I think works well for either a girl or a boy. The direction of the print is because I had yardage that would fit without piecing if I went for a sideways orientation.

I love those happy elephants!
I hope that my co-worker's tiny pot of gold gets lots of use out of this small but fun quilt!