Saturday 31 December 2016

16 in 2016

As 2016 winds down- which many people are happy about- I wanted to complete my annual wrap up of the quilts I completed. In 2016, marked mostly for me by me starting an awesome new job in September which resulted in less sewing time- I completed 16 quilts. Of those 16 I kept two.

Starting at top left and rotating clockwise, finishing in centre: Sweet Pepper Jelly, Quilt of Belonging, Thank You Stephanie, Little Eye, Tumbi, Canadian Wilderness, Welcome to Canada, AeroPlus

Starting in top left and rotating clockwise, finishing in centre: Midnight at the Museum, Force Field, Bearss, Diamond in the Sky, Bunnies, Glisten, In the Garden, Fishy Friends
I've definitely upped by paper piecing game this year and had lots of fun mixing and matching from my stash. I went on a six month fast from buying fabric (along with my friend C) and really didn't suffer too badly from it. I made enough flying geese between In the Garden and Force Field to last me at least until 2018. And I now have Sweet Pepper Jelly as my go-to quilt for the car and my youngest daughter has her Little Eye quilt to drag around and have picnics on almost daily. Definitely a successful year!

I think Little Eye ended up being my overall favourite from this year because I drooled over the inspiration quilt for so long and then finally made one! I love how it turned out.

I made other things, too, in 2016. Pillows and pillowcases and Halloween bags and Sew Together bags. But the quilts are where my heart truly lies.

What was your favourite finish of 2016?

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Bunnies: A Finished Quilt

My eldest daughter is eight years old, and when I returned to work when she was 10 months old (thanks to one year guaranteed maternity leaves here in Canada) a family friend was staying home with her second son who was six months older than my daughter. 

This friend has looked after both of my daughters over the last seven years and it occurred to me this past June when she helped carry yet another quilt to another one of my daughter's teachers that she deserved one of her own!

She is obsessed with bunnies (and she's terrified of birds- I don't get it) and so I decided to use the Quiet Play Geometric Bunny pattern to make her a quilt that had all of her bunnies on it...her, her husband and her three sons. The quilt is lap sized (though I didn't measure final dimensions. I never do.)

Here is Bunnies

Bunnies! I made the bunnies and then filled in around them in more Kona White. Then I improv-pieced a top and bottom border using the leftover teal bits (all Kona) because that is her favourite colour palette.
I used the famous Ikea Nummer fabric for the backing and I think it is really charming for this quilt.

This bunny is in all teals, a colour she really loves, to represent her. You can see here how I did organic diagonal crosshatching for quilting. I call it organic because when the first line wasn't perfectly straight I decided to just go for it. It would drive all of my quilting friends nuts but I still loved it!
Her three sons each have a favourite colour so of course the bunnies are in those colours, in birth order. Her husband is represented in grey. As her oldest son observed, "That grey bunny must be you, Dad, because you are so old." From the mouth of babes...

She totally loved the quilt, which was gifted as a Birthday/Christmas/Thank You present on the 19th of December, even tearing up. The label, which I didn't photograph, was written by my eight-year-old on behalf of her and her sister. 

Friday 9 December 2016

Fishy Friends: A Finished Quilt

I started a new job in September, teaching at a brand new school with many new co-workers. One of these new colleagues has become a treasured friend already, and though I did not know her when she had her son, I knew within the first few times meeting her that I would be making him a quilt.

Her husband is an avid fisherman, and when she told me the story of how she really wanted to order HBO for their TV package and she lost out when he ordered the Fishing Network instead, I knew which fabric from my stash to pull out!

This fabric is not my favourite, honestly, but my husband saw it on my Pinterest board and ordered it for me before the days of me sending him direct links to the fabric bundles I want. Turns out it was a good call because these fabrics, combined with some special Alison Glass, Tula Pink and other bits from my stash, are a lovely little combo for this little boy.

I went with a simple tumbler block using 5" squares. Her son is just barely one, so he is still pretty little, and I made a fairly little quilt to match!

There are fish...and lures and seaweed and narwhals!
I did straight-line quilting, stopping to pivot at each "bend" so that the quilting echoes those tumbler lines.

The back is mostly a blue with a green polka dot with a little bit of green narwhals and a touch of under the sea print from Lewis and Irene.

This quilt will be given to her at the end of the month, right before we leave for Winter break. I hope she loves it and her son gets lots of use out of it!
(I kind of also hope she cries!)

Saturday 3 December 2016

Force Field: A Finished Quilt

Within my one group of friends there are 13 children, all within a 9 year span. Since I started sewing I have slowly been making my way through each of the children, making them each a quilt. When I started making quilts there were 8 less children! 

This quilt, Force Field, is the very last of the quilts for the children in that "family" of friends. He is 11-years-old and joined our family late when his mom married one of our group. It is hard to make quilts for tween boys, let me tell you, but fortunately he likes Star Wars (and Harry Potter but I couldn't make that work) so I decided to go with a Star Wars quilt. I used a free pattern called Banners from Fox Favourites on Craftsy and it was, at times, a bit tedious to make all those little flags, but look how cute it is!!

(The wind was blowing and my husband was getting irritated so these are the best pictures I got).
Force Field!

I used a lot of Star Wars fabrics by Camelot that I picked up some time ago for this very purpose and found that some Carolyn Friedlander from my stash as well as the ever-present Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets worked perfectly with this quilt. There's even a guest appearance by Riley Blake chevrons!

For the first time in maybe ever I used a non-Kona solid. Gasp! This solid was a better match and was available at a local-ish craft store so my friend A told me to just go for it. Forgive me, Robert Kaufman!

The back is all one fabric, picked up for me by A at a discount fabric store she was at one day. What did quilt buddies do before days of texts?

Very thematic.
The little boy...who is not so little...will receive his quilt this Christmas when this group gets all together and I hope he loves it!

Friday 28 October 2016

Bearss: A Finished Quilt (and not a typo!)

Some lovely friends of my husband's, whom I've met on a couple of occasions, recently had a baby. They chose not to find out the baby's sex which drives me crazy as a quilter, but I figured something out!

I used some fabric from Birch Organics (the bears) to dictate the colour scheme of the whole quilt.

Here is Bearss (named for a lime tree!):

Bearss is gender neutral and sunny!

I made this very simply with 5x5" blocks and 5x10" blocks, alternating. I love how bright this quilt is!
I just went with straight-line echoing of each seam, which was simple and effective on this sort of quilt.
I piecing a back with this big swatch of grey I had as well as leftover bits from the front. For the binding I used a grey and snow white fabric I've had sitting around for ages that worked with the softness of this quilt's colour scheme (no stark whites).
Mom and Dad were super touched and recognized the special nature of a handmade item. Their baby girl (!) will be sure to get lots of use out of it! (At least I hope!)

Monday 24 October 2016

Diamond in the Sky: A Finished Quilt

I have made quilts for every child in a particular group of friends. As I was finishing the last quilt for the group, I realized that there was one child I was forgetting. The thing is, this little boy didn't get to be born. Tragically he would not have made it to full term, and even if he did he would never survive birth. When our friends decided to end the suffering early, it was hard. But I didn't want him to be forgotten or not spoken of. I asked the mom if I could make something for him or, if she would prefer, make a quilt and donate it to another child. She asked me to make a small quilt and to somehow incorporate stars, with the quilt being added to a memory box

Here is Diamond in the Sky, a small little quilt in memory of a tiny baby.
I opted for wonky stars and a collection of mostly Lizzy House fabric. I even backed it in a Constellation fabric. I also used a subtle Cotton+Steel plus fabric in a very light grey instead of my go-to Kona White.
Backing in blues and greys
Constellations within a star!

The stars are wonky but sweet, and both parents really loved it. They also asked me to add a star to their older child's quilt from me, so I did my first ever applique (and forgot to take a picture) of a wonky star using more Lizzy House Constellations.

Children who are lost are not ever forgotten, and I was glad that the parents trusted me to do this small task for them.

Wednesday 14 September 2016

WIP Going Into Storage

After having a crisis of faith in a bundle I pulled years ago, I reworked and went ahead to make the pattern, using the FREE tutorial for the Squares and Strips Bed Quilt put together by Cluck Cluck Sew.

The pattern itself is fantastic. Like all patterns by Cluck Cluck Sew, it designed to look more complicated than it is and the top comes together very quickly. The only blip I had on my radar was that I really needed my fat quarters to be 21" tall and they were not. As in, all but 3 of my 12 fat quarters were too short. What the heck is that about?
Too short meant I had to do some improv.
And I got the blocks made in no time and I put the top together and...
Orange, turquoise and teal in real life.
...I don't dig it. It's okay. The pattern is great. It isn't ugly, I don't think, but it just isn't me. Despite the use of many fabrics I love. Despite that fact that turquoise and teal are so my thing. I just don't really like this quilt top. It is intended for someone in my family, and I will finish it, but nothing in my stash works for the backing and I just don't have the heart to work on it anymore. This is the first time ever, I think, that I'm putting a finished quilt top away in the closet and shrugging my shoulders over getting it done. It can stay a WIP longer. My heart just isn't in it.

Which taught me a lesson. I had some other bundles I put together ages ago, with fabric I probably would not buy now. And seeing how this top turned out and how I just don't love it, I'm breaking up those bundles and putting the fat quarters I like back on the shelf and the rest in the "Maybe someone else will like these fabrics" box in my closet.

Like this penguin bundle here. No idea what possessed me. I might fussy cut a penguin or two, though.
It is those beiges that kill me. Just no.
And for a long time I was planning to make a rainbow circus sort of quilt. I built up this combination over many shop hops:
But no. Too much. Too bright. No. I don't want to make this quilt.
Do you have any bundles languishing somewhere in your stash? I have more that I haven't reviewed yet that are going to get a hard look very soon. Why make things you don't love?

Monday 12 September 2016

Halloween Treat Bag: Playing with the Pattern

I, like many people, enjoy Pinterest. My sewing boards are rather robust. And while I pin many things, I definitely don't get around to trying them all that often. However I knew that I had a pin for a Halloween bag by Ellison Lane, and after picking up some ADORABLE (mostly Cotton+Steel) Halloween novelty fabrics at Pink Castle Fabrics I knew I wanted to make my girls some trick or treating bags.
The second from the bottom are Lizzy House ghosts but the rest are from Cotton+Steel's collaborative Boo! line.
The things was, when I actually started using the pattern (one that many people had commented on and many people had pinned) there was a MAJOR error in the cutting instructions. (The dimensions for the batting were way off!) And then the instructions for the handles seemed waaaaaaay more complicated than they needed to be. So I made up the handles.
Folded them in half and pressed well.

I then pressed the edges in about 1/4" and put a piece of batting in the middle to make the handles cushier.

I sewed down each side and once down the centre to give it some strength and because it looks pretty.

This is the first bag, for my youngest.

Ghost lining=awesome. The french seams are a nice part of this pattern.
BUT I knew what I wanted to change for my second. The measurements were just a little tight for my liking since things tend to shift when you quilt them. And I wanted to be able to see more of the accent fabric on the bottom. I suggest you cut your main outside fabric at  14" x 13" and the accent at 14" x 3.5" so you can see more of the accent. I also found that I didn't like the look of contrasting thread on the binding around the top of the first one so I used one that blended in the second one. And, as I said, no need to go the insane route for the handles that are in the tutorial. 

Thank goodness I made the size larger because look what happened on the lining of one of the sides of the bag when I was quilting the second one! Instead of this being a disaster I had enough wiggle room to trim it and no harm was done!
I said bad words when I saw this.
The end result was super awesome and my older daughter absolutely loves it (and she's not easily impressed). There's something particularly satisfying about making useful things for your children that will become part of their childhood experiences. I highly recommend putting a quilt aside and putting together one of these bags!
Bag #2

Friday 9 September 2016

Sew Together For A Friend

After completing my first Sew Together Bag, I knew I would be making several more, including for myself. When quilty and bloggy friend Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge commented on my Instagram picture that she sure wished I would make her one, I knew I needed to move hers up my priority list. Considering she has some significant changes in her life right now I thought a Sew Together Bag would be a nice reminder that the world is a wonderful place.

I selected fabrics I love because we have very similar tastes. I knew this Carolyn Friedlander print would be perfect for the lining, and the Lizzy House Mini Pearl Bracelets, Alison Glass and Heather Bailey all worked really well with the outer fabric, a Washi print that I think Jenn commented she loved about three(?) years ago.
This stage is always so satisfying!
Here is the finished bag:
Isn't that a fun print? And an Alison Glass for the binding too. I'm running low on those arrows and will be sad when they're all gone.

Look at all those pockets!
I really need to prioritize my Sew Together bag next!
The end result was a bag that surprised her and that she loved. Well worth the effort to both construct it and pick the perfect fabrics for her.

Now if only I could find even five minutes to sew these days...

Friday 19 August 2016

In the Garden: A Finished Quilt

One of my husband's aunts is turning 65 this year. She is a kind, generous and very humble person and has never asked for a thing in the 15+ years I have known her. But two years ago she hinted that she was going to be turning 65 and she sure does love my quilts....

Well how could I say no to that? I asked her for colours and she said "brown and earthy." I hate those colours. Yuck. And I have to love the fabric to love making the quilt. So I found the perfect Lewis & Irene print for my starting point and then went with it. This unusual colour combo is the result and I really love it!

Here is In the Garden:
I still am not sure if the flying geese look better up or down. The recipient can decide!

I love how the small flying geese look next to the big ones.

I did lots of straight line quilting at random places to add some texture to the quilt overall (as well as secure all those geese!) This picture also gives you a good shot of the Lewis & Irene print that started the whole thing!

There are a few playful details like this mouse block which is a bit of whimsy, perfect for the whimsical recipient.
The binding is Carolyn Friedlander in this lovely dark shade of brown.
The back is my go-to Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets in chocolate. I didn't even try to match up the pattern. I went with all one fabric this time because I specifically ordered this from a clearance sale at Pink Castle Fabrics and since brown is NOT my thing I didn't want too much left over!
I used white Aurafil for all the quilting and I like how it adds subtle texture and interest on the reverse of the quilt as well.
I will not be seeing this aunt until (Canadian) Thanksgiving, which is two weeks after her birthday. My mother-in-law saw the quilt and is sure that the aunt will absolutely love it. I hope so because I sure love it!

Sunday 14 August 2016

Midnight at the Museum: A Finished Quilt

I have wanted to make a triangle quilt for a very long time. I bought a 60 degree ruler for this purpose but never seemed to have the right project. Then when I did this pull for a five-year-old who is in my close group of friends, the idea of triangles seemed just right.

Now. The ruler is awesome. And the quilt is awesome. But I did not read the directions about how to assemble the rows and that bit me in the butt. EVERY SINGLE POINT was cut off when I assembled the rows. It was entirely user error. There is a tricky way to put them together so this doesn't happen but I didn't bother to check that until after all my rows were all assembled. My friend A suggested I call it an artistic choice. I voted yes! (Now WAY was I ripping out every single row!)

The end result is still adorable and the error is probably most noticeable to me. The quilting helped to fix the illusion a bit so overall I'm very happy with the end result.

Here is Midnight at the Museum:
I totally love how these prints work together. The pops of lime green really make it for me.

Though most of the prints are from Lizzy House Natural History or Pearl Bracelets, there is also the only Cookie Book print from C+S that I like, some Herringbone and a few other navys that are from my stash. Don't they play nicely together?

I used the blue Mini Pearl Bracelets that is the majority of the backing for the binding too.

I had more than enough of the mini Pearl Bracelets to do it in all one print but I so much prefer to have a pieced back. I had a strip of this beautiful print from the elephant quilt I made my new nephew and couldn't resist adding it.

Doesn't this add more interest and fun?

I did angular straight line quilting and I love how it looks on the back (and the front) where the lines intersect!
The quilt's colour scheme and overall look both delight me and I definitely want to try another triangle quilt in the future...but this time following the instructions!

Sunday 31 July 2016

When Love Wanes

Ages ago I put together a bundle of oranges and turquoises and set it aside to make a Squares and Strips quilt. Every year it seems to make it to my "To do" list but I never get to it and I was starting to wonder why. Why was I not excited? 

I pulled out the bundle, to which I've added a couple of prints over the years, and contemplated. Once you pull fabric for a project, if that love wanes and you no longer are inspired, should you keep it in the to do pile? I decided to look at it carefully, draw it out in my sketch book, and if it still wasn't speaking to me then I would abandon it. I've learned the hard way that if I am not loving the fabrics, then the quilt itself will feel like labour instead of pleasure.
Here is the bundle.
I drew it up in my sketch book and started to fill it in. And something clicked for me. There was too much of just two colours. When I started adding more teal to the mix, like that one on the far left of that top picture, there was more depth to the quilt and more interest. And, most importantly, I was more excited.
Sometimes sketching it out helps!
So then I went into my stash and update the bundle a bit and I was much happier.
Doesn't teal make it so much better?
And then that yellow-y orange was bothering me so I pulled it, added a Lizzy House print (of course) and now I'm happy and wanting to work with it again!
Here is the new pull. This is something I could see being worth working with!
Have you had that happen? Put together a fabric pull and then had your love wane? Did you stick with it or is your less-than-loved bundle still sitting on a shelf somewhere?