August 30, 2009 18 comments

Coneflowers in Leslieville

Doll Quilt Swap - Take Two

So, I've been very troubled by the quilt I made for the Doll Quilt Swap.

Making something for someone whom I've never met or spoken to with a guideline of sketchy likes and emphatic dislikes; I crumbled under the pressure and ended by making something I would never ordinarily produce. As if that wasn't bad enough, the more I looked at it, the more I disliked it.

By Friday, I hated it. (ETA: I hated it so much that I've deleted my blog post about it! :D )

My saving grace though, was that during the week I'd had a couple of conversations with my friend Crystal at Sonnet of the Moon ; early on - about the problems I was having making a quilt for my partner because our likes and dislikes were so disparate, and then another one on Thursday with respect to painting - about how an artist (or trying to be artist)'s vision shouldn't be constrained by the "wants" of an intended or posited recipient.

With these conversations in mind along with my now bubbling hatred of my initial doll quilt, I went to sleep on Friday night, and had a dream. In it, I made a small art quilt, inspired by the quilts of Naomi Wanjiku and this picture I took of coneflowers near our home about a month ago.

On Saturday morning I woke up early, and by 8:05 a.m. I was in my sewing room, re-creating what I had made the night before, in my dream. I knew exactly what fabrics I was going to use, so I tidied up, clearing away the project in the works, and then began pulling fabrics from both my stash, and my scrap bins - greens and bits of burgundy silk from ruined (but salvaged) silk placemats, some bits of leftover saffron cotton from the cat quilt I'd made last week, a ball of yarn and eight different threads.

I gathered these materials together, first cutting a base fabric (the batik next to the green strips) and a sheet of fusible web the same size as the base, which I laid on top of it. And then I began cutting and tearing the greens strips into strings such as Naomi might like to use. I laid those strings out onto the base fabric and, by 12:00 p.m. or so, this is what I had:

When I was done ironing down my fabric strings and filling in the empty spaces with more strings, I found a pale green backing and quilted those representational grasses and stems with green threads ranging from bright emerald to dusky loden and a pretty, silvery, variegated green metallic (because I always have to add a little shine.) :)

Then it was time for the coneflowers.

I took the bits of silk from the salvaged placemat and the other bits of burgundy from my scrap stash and added a yellow strip, from which I made 3 dimensional petals. For the centres of the coneflowers, I took the ball of yarn, clipped a string of it into a little pile and rolled the clippings into a ball with ordinary white glue. Then I set the balls aside to dry while I was making the petals, and when they were done, attached everything to my stems with clear filament thread.

Sadly, when they were finished - I had what looked like disembodied clown feet! (If you want a laugh, click to see the feet in all their large, technicolour glory!)

I took a late break (around 4:00 p.m.), had somethng to eat, pouted, and decided to take an extended break while I let things percolate. Back to my sewing room, I worked on making more of the 500 blocks for my orange quilt, and while doing so, BSP came in and asked how it was going. In despair, I said "Look at the clown feet!!!", to which BSP laughed, agreed they did look like clown feet and then said, "I thought you were going to do them one dimensional - y'know - flat"


I immediately cleared away my orange project, removed the clown shoes, trimmed them back and laid them out in a pleasing pattern on the stems. Eureka! When they were done, they looked a little too flat, so I added some raspberry silk for extra dimension.

But the quilt needed something more. I went back to the inspiration picture and saw what I was missing - leaves! So I made leaves using the same method as the stems and quilted them in the same shades of green.

Fifteen hours later, the end result was a pretty little quilt (14 x 18") that I'm proud to send off to my swap recipient. It was a big lesson learned. The constraints of attempting to meet the desires of an intended recipient were so demanding that I lost sight of whatever talent and vision I may have of my own.

Although I do hope the recipient likes this little quilt; with no disrespect to her intended, that's simply not very important. From now on, I will make quilts that I think are beautiful; quilts that I'm proud to put my name on, and send them out into the Universe without wonder or worry about whether anyone else will approve of them. (This of course, means it's unlikely I'll be allowed to participate in a doll quilt swap again [!], though I'll be forever grateful for the lesson learned.)

So here is my "kleine quiltje" (as my Oma would call it). I am proud to present - "Coneflowers in Leslieville".

I love it.
August 25, 2009 6 comments


I had a very long, very stressful day at work.

And then I got home and BSP had had a long, very tiring day.

So, like any good wife, I made dinner, and then I cleaned up from dinner, and then I sat down and ate dinner with BSP (and let BSP wash up!) and when it was all over, inquired "Is there anything else I can get you baby?" and when I received a negative response, I went to my sewing room to work on my doll quilt for DQ7.

Wait, what? THAT doesn't look like the doll quilt fabric!

Well, the truth is, it's now 11:00 p.m. here in our little crooked house, and alas, though I have only about an hour's work on DQ7 left to do, I have to stop. I'm just sooooooooooo tired, and goodness knows, I don't want to make a terrible mistake, so I thought I'd show you something else instead.

(I love that little monkey fabric!)

This is that quilt I was talking about the other day - you know - the one with 500 blocks? Of which I've done none exactly ZERO since I talked about it last! *Bad Kit!*

Good thing there's always tomorrow! Speaking of which, it's coming sooner than I think. I'm going to toddle off to bed, put on Law and Order, and likely, be asleep before the opening credits are done. BSP is already sleeping the sleep of the just. :)


August 23, 2009 1 comments

A sneak peek

For my Doll Quilt 7 swap. A couple of the blocks:


Except, I'm going to take out my stitching and hand paint the face instead. My "embroidery" leaves much to be desired!

But what will it be in the end?

Stay tuned...
August 21, 2009 5 comments

In the meantime,

in between time, ain't we got fun? (Ahh, Irving Berlin. You pop into my head at the oddest times!)

So, as I was saying before I rudely interupted myself, tonight was one of my scheduled sewing nights, and I planned to work on the 500 block quilt thing, but then I was distracted by this little fat girl:

and it occurred to me that all of the cat quilts I'd made two years ago were looking sadly... sad. It was a case of the cobbler's children, and I decided to rectify it. Immediately!

As you know, I've condemmed myself to using only my stash for quilts this summer, and as I've been working my way through it, I've been making more and more sraps. I've got plans for some of them (another string quilt, a friendship braid, a 12 patch), but I decided that some of my other scraps could be put to good use, specifically a small stack of scraps that I'd won in a giveaway several months ago.

(please ignore that stray thread, I thought I got them all before I took the photo. Dang!)

So I started cutting them into 1.5 by 4 inch strips, and began to arrange them in pleasing-to-me layouts, and once that was done, I sewed them up and even used up two partial bobbins that had red metallic thread in them for the quiltng - so the top is done in varigated red/blue/purple/yellow orange thread and the back is done in red metallic. Fancy for a cat, no?

Anyway - the end result was this:

I have four more blocks which I think will be incorporated into a red background later on, but this weekend, I shall work on my Doll Quilt Swap quilt because I finally bought the fabric. Yay!

Hope you're all doing well. The heat's finally broken here - and brought with it tornadoes and thunderstorms, and cooler weather to follow.
August 18, 2009 13 comments

Kinda Blue

Free at last, praise the Universe free at last!

*hee* Okay, maybe that was an over-reaction, and truthfully, the quilt has been done for about four days now, but I feel like I've been blogging about this thing FOREVER.

I think that's because "Kinda Blue" has made me feel kinda blue!

August 17, 2009 6 comments

Some progess shots

on "Kinda Blue" (formerly known as "Under the Sea" - who wants to be THAT predicatable? *s*)

I decided to try a new quilting techinque - here's the first block (pics are clickable to "embiggen"):

in the "sashes" between the diamonds, I quilted my familiar meander

It may not be apparent from this pic, but perhaps is in this one, that I couldn't resist my magpie tendancies, I quilted them in silver thread!


I just need to bind this baby and then it'll be ready to go. I'll post a finished product pic very soon.

So, how was your weekend?
August 13, 2009 6 comments

Pay It Forward - Third and Final Installment


Over the last little while, I’ve been making my Pay it Forward giveaway gifts. Inspired by some little patchwork squares I’d experimented with in the colours favoured by the first of my three winners, I decided to make her a tote bag. I hadn’t made one before and didn’t have a pattern, but went ahead with it anyway, making it up as I went along. I liked it so well when it was done, that I decided to make some more, and learned a lot in the process. I thought I’d share what I learned with you, so am offering this tutorial for the round tote bag pictured above, about 16 inches across.

To begin, cut four discs that are a ½ inch larger than you want your finished product to be. Although I did patchwork on my other tote bags, I liked this fabric so much that I decided to not break it up. So I cut two discs of the outer fabric and two discs of the lining (a beautiful navy blue silk taffeta). Cut two discs of batting the same size as your fabric and pin your quilt sandwiches. Once done, quilt as desired. I tried something new and quilted something that ended up looking like my Spirograph experiments when I was a kid. When you're done with your quilting, you'll need to cut two sets of six inch wide lengths of fabric that are 3/4 of the circumference of your bag, plus another six inches. In this case, I didn’t quilt these pieces, but in future, I’ll do so.

I did mine in both lining and outer fabric, but you may wish to use a contrasting or complementary fabric instead. Right sides together, sew a 1/4 inch seam along both sides, press, turn inside out and then hem up the ends with a slip stitch or decorative top stitch. If you are quilting this piece, remember to attach your batting strip on TOP of your fabric sandwich so that when you turn it inside out, the batting will be on the inside. Quilt the strips as desired. Set aside one strip.

Taking the other strip, pin it to one side of the disc, outer sides together, remembering to reserve the six inch tail. Photobucket When pinning the strip, don’t forget to balance it so that the portion of strip not pinned to the disc is evenly proportioned, with the open space at the “top” of your design. Sew the strip down. So that the tote would be able to take a fair amount of weight, I seamed each side four times. Once complete, it should like this:


Repeat on the other side. Iron. Photobucket

Next, cut two strips of binding fabric, 2 inches wide and as long as the “mouth” of your bag is. Attach the binding as you would on a quilt, sewing the outside portion first. When sewing the back of the binding on, tuck it behind the batting seam


and fold over. Pin.




Once that portion is completed, turn the bag right side out again, and following the outside of the disc, sew a seam that encloses the inner seam of batting and fabric sandwich inside a new hem.


On the outside, it will look like this:


And on the inside, it will look like this:



Okay, we’re in the home stretch now. First we’re going to make a loop. Take your six inch tail that’s left over, fold it over on the inside of the bag Photobucket, pleating or gathering the fabric as is your preference, pin and make several passes over it with your sewing machine. You want it to be sturdy!


Taking the long reserved strip (quilted or un-quilted) that you set aside earlier, attach it to the opposite side of your tote bag, in a similar way as the loop you’ve just sewn on. Once your rows of sewing are complete, pull the strip through your loop making sure that the end of the strip will be on the inside of the strap, and adjust the length until it’s a comfortable shoulder to waist ratio. Pin with a safety pin. Sew the strap down, once more using several rows of stitching for sturdyness.


You’re done!

Because the recipient of this gift is a girly-girl (like me), I decided to add a bow, made out of the same silk taffeta as the lining and using similar principals as above: a four inch wide strip, seamed right sides together, turned inside out and pressed. I tied it onto the bag to adjust the tails to the right length and then closed the ends of the tails. I have just tied the bow on as the recipient may wish to remove it at some point, but for myself, I would sew the bow on.

And that was the last of my giveaways for the Pay It Forward project. I don’t know who began this Pay it Forward meme, but I want to take this opportunity to thank them for such a wonderful, tangible way to say “thank you” to the Universe (in my ethos) for the happiness in my life. I was given so much as I worked on these projects, because during the construction of each one, I focussed on all that I’ve been given, and was filled with thankfulness for the joy I have in my life.

Thank you to all who have participated and who will continue to participate in this amazing project. And remember: when you receive something good, or sweet, or lovely in your life, Pay it Forward!
August 11, 2009 9 comments

Top is done!


I'm taking tonight off to spend the evening with BSP (instead of in my sewing room!), but tomorrow night I'll begin quliting and you know what, I'm going to get this done by the end of the weekend. On time!

The end is nigh. :)
August 9, 2009 4 comments

When I left you last...

you may recall, I was contemplating what to do with this:


My sister-in-law's birthday is coming up, and I'd asked her to email me what colours she liked (and hoped against hope that I had them in my stash!) As it turned out, she likes blues and turquoises, and I happened to have a stack of those, so at least I had that.

But when you were last tuned to this bat channel, I didn't even have a pattern in mind! Thankfully, inspiration struck on Saturday night as I lay in bed, so on Sunday morning (after a quick trip to Fabricland to pick up some thread and a new rotary cutter), I began cutting fabric until I had this little pile:

the plan begins

(Backing, varigated thread for the quilting, and a couple of dozen 3 x 3 inch squares in three different patterns and a solid.) And then I laid them out in a "pretend" block:

the first block

Well, that seemed to be working! So I sewed it up, cut (roughly) a million more 3 x 3 inch squares and then began piecing a block that was the same, but opposite:

in progress

And some more, different orientations of the same block:

so far

So that's where I am so far. On Monday night, I'll finish the top (I hope) and perhaps even batt it up. And then, the quilting. I have no idea how I'm going to quilt this lovely, although I have spirograph patterns in my head. Perhaps I'll find a way to incorporate them. Who knows?

Certainly not me! :)
August 6, 2009 9 comments

A sweet surprise

I came home today and found a package in the mailbox, post marked Australia.

At first, I couldn't imagine who in Australia could possibly be sending me something or why, but then I remembered, the darling girl who started this whole Pay It Forward journey with me, Sandra at Pepperberry & Co.! lives in Australia. Could it be the gift that I had won?


Excitedly, I tore into my package and found these:

A set of lovely linen coasters, made by the equally lovely Sandra!

Thank you so much Sandra, you have given me so much already by introducing me to the Pay It Forward fun, and on top of it all, I get these little pretties! Thank you! They're in use on our nightstands already!

And speaking of pretties, I think that some or all of the turqouise fabrics in this stack of blues are going to be used in my next project

- which is due in ten days. *gulp!*

Crystal at Sonnet Of the Moon Quilts says she can make a lap sized quilt in a week, and I'm going to have to see if I can do the same.

Wish me luck!

ETA: A question: What do you think of the frames on the pictures? Yay or nay?
August 4, 2009 7 comments

Blogging for Bliss

Artsy Mama is hosting an online party to celebrate the release of Tara Frey's book Blogging for Bliss.

This is timely for me in a couple of ways - lately, I have been feeling criticized for wanting to have a "quilting blog" - and this book it total justification for it. *w* And, I have been wanting to improve my blogging skills! (So there! *hee!*)

And anyway - who doesn't love a party!? The party's today - so go on over to Artsy Mama's blog (click the linky on her name above) and join in the party!

And pick up that book! I am! :)