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.

Lynn

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.
Basted!
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!

Lynn

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!

Lynn

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Ella Blue: A Finished Quilt

I have been very quiet on my blog. Part of it was the business of work and life. Then a tragedy struck a close friend of mine and I have been navigating through my grief. I will blog about it briefly in another post, but for now I wanted to share this finished quilt, Ella Blue.

This is not a baby quilt. It was never my intention to make a huge quilt amongst all the other quilts on my list, but when I heard about a co-worker's 11-year-old daughter, Ella, being stricken with cancer and fighting for her life, I couldn't stop thinking about it. So I dropped everything and made a quilt for this brave little girl, using blue as the main colour because that is Ella's absolute favourite colour.

I used Jeni Baker's Giant Star tutorial not realizing just how giant it was going to be. My 6'1" husband is holding this quilt over his head and it is almost touching the ground.
 The star itself is made of Elizabeth Olwen's Wildwood line for Cloud 9, a line I have been drawn to and finally purchased while on a recent shop hop. I find it sweet and feminine without being too "little girl." The background is Kona Lake .
I did a free motion meander all over the quilt in a light blue Aurafil. Honestly, I had a need for speed and knew I could fly through the quilting. It was a BEAST, though, and so my meandering is not as smooth as I would have liked.

For the backing I used a blue flannelette that I had in my stash. The blue worked well with the front and I had lots of it, and again, since speed was of utmost importance, I pre-shrunk it and went for it.

The binding is a scrappy mix but mostly Alison Glass in this gorgeous blue.
 I also made my first ever quilt label. I used this special ink and some tiny stampers and some more Kona Lake, pressed over. I didn't really want to hand sew it so I machine sewed it but I really need a better way. The quilt is bunched up here so it looks wavy but it is actually pretty straight. This is definitely something I need to practice.
"Made for Ella. Because she is strong."
The quilt will be delivered, along with other gifts, to the mother at Sick Kids hospital in Toronto. It is one of the best children's hospitals in the world and though Ella has a long fight ahead of her I feel like there is every reason for optimism. I hope she loves it, or that it at least can provide some comfort to a family member who is sleeping by her side in the hospital.

Lynn

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Don't Take Someone on a Diet to a Buffet

I have been working really hard to do all my quilting from my stash. I felt like the excess was unhealthy and I felt rewarded every time I finished a quilt without having to have purchased a thing.

Then on Friday I pre-ordered a fat quarter bundle of Tiger Lily by Heather Ross because this line is so gorgeous and just to my taste (I was not so thrilled with all that strawberry and frog stuff from her last line). Somehow that broke the gates because when I went on a shop hop with my friend A this weekend I showed progressively less restraint as we went from store to store.

We started at a new shop, the Village Square Quilt Shop, which is about 20 minutes away from my house.
The store was actually a bit hard to find but in a very charming location.

The inside was quite small but charming and the prints were not to my taste much at all (I would classify them as more traditional fabrics) but they were all carefully chosen, well-organized and nice to look at it.

The Miss Kate caught my eye but I showed restraint. I like it but don't love it.

I like this Math print (by Sweetwater I think?) except that brown is just so yuck. So I didn't get any.

The store actually doesn't carry Kona on the bolt (can you IMAGINE?) but this beautiful pre-packaged bundle set my heart fluttering.

I liked these pillows that were on display, and there was a free pattern attached!
I bought some Aurafil from here- something actually on my shopping list- because it was a great price ($10.50 a spool!). Then we headed into Hamilton which was about another 25 minutes away. We decided to visit Needlework Hamilton because I had never been there and A had not seen it since they remodeled earlier this year.
It is located in this really hipster, charming neighbourhood.

The store is small but so gorgeous! The newly exposed brick wall is stunning, the space is open and beautiful...I could stay here and work for sure!



Check out this Cotton+Steel dress on display! Love!

And I loved this modern Flying Geese quilt.

This pattern spoke to me right away. It is Amy Butler and I knew my friend C would be proud. I was on a real emerald kick on this day- I was drawn to all the emerald I saw.
This store is a careful curation of modern fabrics, arranged by colour instead of designer or manufacturer. It was not really A's style but it was so definitely mine. I wanted to BUY ALL THE THINGS. I saw so many prints I wanted. Could I have a 1/2 meter of everything you own please?
One wall of quilting fabric.

The other wall of quilting fabric.
I bought two fat quarters and two 1/2 meters of fabric here and thought I was being very restrained. Then A and I went to have lunch at the most awesome tiny restaurant called The Burnt Tongue where they have this tiny menu of soups that changes daily. We both had sweet potato and bacon soup and it was DELICIOUS. I also had a grilled cheese and A had fries. The restaurant was busy and cold but it was worth it for the great food!

Then we wandered next door to check out this yarn studio, handknit. (A knits but I don't).
It was beautiful and we made sure to pet all the wool (turns out I have expensive Baby Alpaca and Cashmere taste. Who knew?)
And we couldn't head back to the car without going into this cool little paper store.
Again, so awesome. Very hipster and cool. I could have bought lots of things but held back.

We made one more stop before heading to the car at The Mulberry Cafe which was again so cool and young. A wanted a peppermint tea and we liked the vibe of this place.
We then headed to Greenwood Quiltery, a go-to standard for both of us because A wanted to find some greys and yellows for her sister's wedding quilt and we hadn't found all that much that would work at the other stores.

I headed to my favourite spot, the remnant wall, and checked out the options. I did find a remnant of light grey Pearl Bracelets that worked perfectly for the quilt A is making but I didn't find anything for myself here.
I love the deals you can find on this rainbow wall!

This display of Kona solids had me thinking about the colourful I-Spy quilt I wanted to make my youngest daughter this year.
I lost my mind at Greenwood and bought SO MUCH FABRIC (keep going to see my end haul). I couldn't stop scooping up fabric. It was like I had lost my mind, and the  more I looked the more I picked up. It started with finding Violet Craft Waterfront Park fat quarters in the $2 bin. Um, score! And then apparently I needed to buy everything my heart desired. Sigh. Bad for the bank account.

When we finished at Greenwood (fortunately A found all the grey and yellow she needed) we went to Len's Mill because I had never been and because A wanted some old lady lavender backing for a wall hanging.

I didn't know what to expect.

A described it as a Bi-Way with lots of fabric. It was pretty disorganized, huge and with lots of crap. Her description was perfect.

They had some horrendous fabric. This gem was in the 50% off pile. WHY IS THIS A FABRIC??

Incredibly disorganized but rows and rows and rows of fabric. I think he buys fabrics that are two or three (or more!) out of season, and doesn't differentiated between quality. It was loosely organized by manufacturer and theme, but it was overwhelming how much crap fabric was there.

But we came across this bin of laminated cotton- Amy Butler, Kaffe Fassett and Tula Pink! $10 a meter!

I thought this Robert Kaufman zombie print would appeal to my hubby. I showed him the picture afterwards and he agreed it was awesome.

They have tons of licensed prints. I know where I will get superhero fabric from now on!
And then, amongst all the garbage and ugly (with the occasional designer print that was nice, like some Parson Grey) I found a jackpot! Lizzy House Peeps- pretty much every print from that line! This line is from 2009, so old, and impossible pretty much to find online. I wanted to buy two yards from every bolt. I'm not kidding. But I had just bought soooooooooo much at Greenwood so I narrowed it down to three prints. I'm telling you, though, I might have to head back. Also, if I ever come across Lizzy House Outfoxed in the wild like this I may buy the whole bolt. I so wish I had bought tons of that when it was out.
Isn't it pretty? I posted this picture on Instagram and Lizzy House herself commented. It is very strange to see all this old line in such a complete form on a shelf!

The neighbour hood was sketchy. This was on the wall on the side of the building. It is a drug tag. Need to buy any magic mushrooms?

These were the three I settled on. That middle one I think for sure is going to go in the I-Spy quilt I want to make.

This was the result of my binging at Greenwood (all the stuff in the first two rows) and the stuff from Needlework Hamilton on the far right.

I picked up one yard of this Olaf print from Len's Mill to make my elder daughter a pillowcase. She was thrilled.
And here is the result. What was I thinking? What happened to shopping my stash, which I have been enjoying? I love these prints and I'm so glad I have them but I certainly didn't need them. Ah, well, I'll chalk it up to a little splurge and go back to trying to shop my stash...which is a little bit bigger now. :)
Yummy fabric stack.
And so you can see why I titled my blog today Don't Take Someone on a Diet to a Buffet. :)

Lynn