Saturday, 6 September 2014

August Kona Solids: Making it Work

My Sew Sisters Kona Solids of the Month fat quarters arrived! 
Inspiration photo. Does this mean I should drink wine when I sew with these solids?
The colours this month are mostly blues with one yellow thrown in.
Left to right: Daffodil, Cornflower, Grapemist and Windsor
The two lighter blues are almost indistinguishable from each other but I really like the dark Windsor colour. I thought that the yellow was the lemon of the bunch (see what I did there?). But I decided rather than lamenting about not liking the sweet yellow I should shop my (very healthy) solids stash and put together a solids combo with that Daffodil to make it work. I was channeling Jenn from Quarter Inch from the Edge when I did this.
From top to bottom: Sprout, Kale, Jade Green, Daffodil and Bright Pink.
Doesn't the addition of those tealy-greens and that bright pink make that Daffodil so much more appealing? 

Hooray for thousands of Kona solids! (Well, not thousands yet, but Sew Sisters might make it happen!)
Here's hoping for some of the new colours in the September bundle! (Ultra Marine anyone?)


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

In Excess

I often blog about the newest fabric that I have purchased. When I began sewing a few years ago I knew that I loved fabric but I very quickly became pretty much obsessed. I have a very healthy stash, and when I see fabric I love I often buy it because I want it, not because I have a specific plan for it.

But lately it has started to feel a bit...excessive. When my credit card bill is usually 50% fabric purchases (ridiculous, I know. Damn you, Paypal!), and when I look at fabric websites every day, and when my husband joked that he could see six piles of fabric just from where he was sitting in the living room (and he was right! There were six!) I started to feel a bit overwhelmed by fabric buying.
When friends recently went to the United States on a big fabric trip and they shopped for me (based on my instructions) I ended up spending more than them and I wasn't even there!
This Cotton + Steel will be a bag. The mint arrows will be the outside of the bag (it is a canvas) and the pink (cotton) will be the inside.

This Cotton + Steel print is one of my favourites.

They bought me an entire bolt of batting. Fifteen yards of it.
And there was a Pink Castle sale that had me buy some of this:
Purple unicorns from Far, Far Away by Heather Ross. My daughter saw it, took it and stole a pin from my sewing box to fashion a cape from this 1/2 yard. I think she loves it.

More Pink Castle buys, courtesy of my husband who lost a bet and owed me fabric as a result.
With this in mind, and knowing that I don't plan on cancelling my Kona Solids of the Month club, nor do I plan to entirely stop buying fabric, I have a plan moving forward.

For me, the year is actually September to June (because I am a teacher) and not usually January to December. From September to June I would like to "shop my stash" and resist fabric purchases as much as possible. I have so much fabric I could make 20 quilts a year for five years and still have fabric to make more. That is getting to be a bit gluttonous, I think. I am committing to making quilts using mostly my (very large) stash until June 2015. I may buy fabric, but I won't prioritize new fabric over current fabric. I hope I can do it and I start to feel less like I am buying beyond what is reasonable.

On a final note, I happened across a blog post from From Blank Pages where she is very candid about her fabric addiction. I was already planning on this post but I felt like she really highlighted how my jokes about being "addicted" to buying fabric can be a real thing for some people. I have never hidden any purchases from my husband, nor have I ever been short of money for needs (like mortgage payments or what not) but I can see some of myself in her. Read it. Does it strike a cord in anyone else?

So, wish me luck! I plan on shopping my stash for the next few months and spending time sewing instead of shopping for fabric. Is anyone with me?


Monday, 1 September 2014

Blog Around the World

I started to sew by teaching myself after asking for a sewing machine for my thirtieth birthday from my husband. That was four years ago. After a year and a half of sewing I tried my first quilt, something I thought would take years before I could accomplish. I got totally and completely hooked. That included being hooked on quilting blogs, which led to me starting my own blog.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when Jenn from A Quarter Inch from the Edge contacted me to ask if I would be interested in participating in Blog Around the World where she would direct her readers to my blog (and two other blogs). I encountered Jenn when I had a giveaway on my blog from Sew Sisters and she entered. I checked out her blog and a few entries in I had her on my Blogger dashboard so I wouldn't miss a post! She is sort of a Kona solids genius. Check out what she did with these strip colour quilts or how she made a silk purse out of a (Kona) sow's ear. Also check out her epic solid Starburst quilt with the coloured Aurafil quilting. AMAZING. I'm interested to see how the addition of twins (!) will impact her quilting time (she accomplishes a zillion projects a week, or so it seems). Jenn is also Canadian but she is in Halifax in Nova Scotia whereas I am close to Toronto in Ontario. Google maps tells me it would take 17 hours and 53 minutes to drive there. Ouch.

And so here I am to answer the following questions about myself, my blog and my creative process.

What am I working on?

I used to be a woman who finished projects. My quilty friends C and A would comment that I was great at actually following through and that I didn't have very many WIPs (works in progress). Somehow that has changed this summer in particular. Or, perhaps, it has changed while being on maternity leave because the addition of a new baby (on top of my almost six-year-old) has changed how I am able to work. Currently I have the following projects "on the go" (including those for which I have already selected fabrics):

1. Oldest WIP: Stitchery Dickory Dock's Sugar Block Club Block of the Month. I have the blocks made and the binding made (with the scraps from the blocks). I made this using a bundle curated by Red Pepper quilts and purchased from Pink Castle Fabrics. I already know the backing (IKEA Nummer fabric) but I have not been motivated to do the boring sashing bits.

2. Swoon. I participated in a #Swoonalong with several quilty friends this summer. I completed all nine blocks using Tula Pink's Fox Field line and a LOT of Kona Shadow. I decided to add sashing which really helped make the quilt look right. Now I just need to add the border (which are cut and ready to go) and then baste (yuck) and decide how to quilt this sucker.  I think this will end up being a 2015 finish.

3. Aviatrix Medallion. I don't even like medallion quilts all that much. Or at least I didn't until I saw Elizabeth Hartman's pattern in all Kona solids. I bullied a friend into doing it too and she is so much further ahead. This is a very very VERY complex quilt so I knew it would take ages. I have finished the centre medallion and I'm working on the grey HSTs for Border One. This one may be a very late 2015 finish or, dare I say it, 2016?

4. Grey quilt #1: A Plus quilt. This is for a friend's son, J. She commissioned me to make two double quilts for her two little boys, ages 1 and 3. They both are dark greys and lots of Kona White. I only agreed to make these quilts because I adore her and because she turned creative control over to me. I am at the hand binding stage with this quilt.

5. Grey quilt #2. This is for big brother, E. It is a Pow Wow quilt from Cluck Cluck Sew's pattern (which I LOVE). I love this quilt so much I don't really want to let it go. I have it basted it and I'm waiting for the FMQ fairy to inspire me.

6 and 7. Mint Julep and Monkey Business, simple patchwork quilts for twins due in November to a work friend. These should be quick finishes. You know, if I stayed focused.

8. Black and White shower quilt. A lifelong friend got married two years ago and I was her maid of honour. Her mom and aunt both quilt so I came up with the idea of having the guests at her bridal showers sign squares of fabric and make a "guest book" quilt. Her aunt had the squares for two years without touching it so I took over to get the project going. Now I just need time to fit it in!

9. A very modern quilt for a neighbour expecting a little girl in November.

10. A red and white quilt for my husband's stepmother's mother, Nana. I want it done for her for Christmas.

I also need to make a baby quilt for a friend from work who is due in January, a special car holder project for my nephew for Christmas and a bunch of crayon roll ups for my daughter's loot bags at her sixth birthday party. Oh, and have I mentioned I'm going back to work from maternity leave starting tomorrow?

How does my work differ from others who quilt?

I don't really know how to answer this question. I know that when I compare my quilts to that of my friend's mother and aunt, or my great aunt, I am definitely more modern in my pattern and fabric choices. I know that compared to my quilty friends I am more adventurous than one of them (she chooses more modern fabrics but more traditional patterns) and less adventurous than the other (who chooses patterns because they are hard). Maybe at only three years into quilting I don't have a solid identity yet.

Why do I quilt?

I have always been drawn to quilts. For my high school graduation I didn't want a class ring. I asked my parents to pay to have a quilt made (I guess at 18 my parents should have read the warning signs). My job is incredible and challenging and rewarding but I also need something to do that is not related to the consuming nature of my job. Quilting fits the bill because it is very challenging and I am constantly learning and my mind is busy but on something other than work. I find that refreshing. I also think I can express love through my quilts, and since I am a pretty tough cookie that is one of the few ways I do!

What is my creative process?

I read a lot of blogs and go on Instagram and Pinterest a lot. Sometimes fabric or patterns just speak to me. They jump out at me and then get stuck in my head and haunt me until I at least write them down in this little notebook I have that is just for quilting. I will sketch out or write out my thinking behind the quilt and then I will have it sitting in my brain begging to be made until I actually get to making it. The problem is getting things done because my mind has sometimes already moved on to the next project before I finish the grunt work (like basting) for the one I'm on. This hasn't been too bad until recently. The grey quilts are an example of this madness. My friend mentioned wanting quilts in dark grey for her boys and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Within two days I had sent her inspiration photos and explained my vision. She was sold without much consideration and then I jumped on making the quilts happening. Alas I am nearing the finish line but I'm already itching to make something colourful!

So that is all about me. Now check out THESE amazing women and their blogs. On September 8th they will have new posts similar in flavour to mine. Check them out!

The Edgy Perfectionist
Her title encapsulates her perfectly. Crissa works full time and yet creates the most incredible quilts and projects. She is meticulous and it shows in her work. She likes BOLD colours and fabrics like Tula Pink, Amy Butler and Kaffe Fassett. When her mojo is flowing, watch out! I think the quilt she made that blew me away the most is her Out in Space quilt. Epic. Another Canadian, but closer to home than Jenn as she is in a neighbouring city here in Ontario.

How My Time Flies
An experienced sewer and quilter, this woman can do it all. Anita makes quilts but also clothing (including her own bras!), pillows, drapes and, well, anything you can sew. And she knits, too! She works full time and she is a very detail-oriented quilter (read: perfect seam matching every time. She told me she would teach me how but I know I wouldn't have her patience!) so her finishes are fewer. Anita has been working on a Dear Jane quilt for two years and I can't wait to see it together. Also, check out her incredible landscape quilt. She made this after taking a class on Craftsy. This is her first landscape quilt. WOW. Hooray for another local Canadian!

Peas in a Pod Creations
Kymberly is American, from Iowa. She was one of my first followers on my blog. She blogs about quilting but also about her knitting (gorgeous stuff that I could never make!). I am particularly captivated by her foray into making a Farmer's Wife quilt (a zillion tiny blocks with a zillion pieces each, much like a Dear Jane) because she is doing it entirely in black, white and grey. I have never seen one with a colour scheme like that and she is so good about explaining her process with the blocks and when she makes mistakes that she can live with and when she scraps it and tries again! I can't wait to see how it looks when it is all together because I think it is going to be worthy of a quilting show.


Saturday, 30 August 2014

When You're Itching for a Finish

I have been working on my grey quilts for what feels like forever. And I have been itching for something to be finished. I need to make quilts for twins due in November and recently discovered they are boy/girl twins. I took some time to play with fabric (my favourite part) from my stash and pulled out some fun ones. Like this fabric:
A Michael Miller Dot print that is so unusual I wasn't sure how I'd ever use it.
And I cut into the first of my Cotton and Steel basic bundle. Eeeeee! This line in so amazing and the selvedge, oh the selvedge!
This is the layout for the little boy quilt. Simple patchwork and crib sized. Aqua, teal, brown and green, inspired by those Ann Kelle monkeys. 
Do you also spy some Riley Blake Quatrefoil? 
The colour scheme is very unconventional but I am loving it all together.

And I've had a colour scheme of mint and navy stuck in my head. So out came the navy from my stash and some mints, mostly from Cotton and Steel.
Loving how these look together.
And I put together this lay out with them (the colour isn't so fab thanks to a sun setting behind me):
Also unconventional and I totally love it. This will be for the little girl twin.
Those will be super easy to piece and finish. If only I wasn't being called by the 32 HSTs that need pressing and trimming for Border 1 of my Aviatrix Medallion...
Calling my name.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

More Fabric. Of Course.

Fabric is addictive. I didn't know that when I started quilting. I have a stash that could only be described as gluttonous. Honestly, I am starting to reach a point where I could sew for five more years at ten quilts a year and barely make a dent.

And yet.

Two big fat envelopes arrived from Pink Castle Fabrics!
There is no happier mail than fabric mail.
See, Pink Castle is moving locations and had a Super Sale section and then ANOTHER 40% OFF THAT SECTION! I wiped the drool from chin and placed an order for these:
Riley Blake Quatrefoil FQ bundle that worked out to just over $1 a fat quarter. Also, a yard and a half of this Art Gallery print so my friend A can make my youngest daughter a dress using an Oliver and S pattern I bought last year. I don't sew clothes.
At the same time I texted quilty friend C because there was a Heather Bailey True Colours Half Yard bundle in the Super Sale section. We both were drawn to this particular bundle when it came out last year. We also both showed restraint until this sale which, by going in together, we each got a fat quarter bundle of this line for about $30. Amazeballs. Let's just say that C jumped on the offer and I had pressed "Place order" about 15 seconds after she said to do it.
The colours are so amazing. I love this bundle.

I'm having some fabric buying thoughts that I will share in another post. Not a diet, exactly, but some motivation to use my stash. Thankfully Lotta Jansdotter's new line, which comes out in October (I think) does not appeal to me at all this time. Phew. Otherwise that would be preordered in a second!


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Dory Would Tell Me to Just Keep Cutting

The Aviatrix Medallion is an incredibly gorgeous medallion quilt designed by Elizabeth Hartman. I knew I wanted to make it as soon as I saw her all solids version and I have never been interested in a medallion quilt before. I roped in my quilty friend C and we both had fun pulling from our stashes. But then the cutting. Oh, the cutting.

I felt like I had completed an Ironman when I got all the coloured solids cut:
This is the most gorgeous stack. Yummy.
And then I had a looooooooong pause. Partially due to life and partially because the cutting was KILLING ME. This quilt is not for the faint of heart. When C went on a quilting retreat and finished her centre medallion and four borders (!!!!) I was motivated by her pictures on Instagram to jump on cutting again.
First all the white.

288 Template 3 pieces. RiDONKulous.
And I actually got all the cutting finished! Though I did have this as my distraction when I couldn't cut anymore:
A butt load of 2 1/2" strips of Art Gallery's Squared Elements for the binding for my grey quilts.

That made this gigantic roll of binding. This is the greatest fabric for binding. It looks amazing.
Once it was all cut and I had an hour of sewing time without any kids or my husband to interrupt I jumped in. I swear I broke into a cold sweat when I began here:

The first real assembly page of a 17-page pattern.
And then I laid them out like this and started getting really excited:
I had to pause at this stage because the baby woke up from her nap. I carefully covered each diamond with a piece of paper so one of my cats wouldn't decide to take a nap on top and mess up the order!
And after a little trouble with the grey solid being added (the instructions are amazing so I really only used a seam ripper twice) I got THIS:
I can't stop looking at it.
I posted it on Instagram and even my non-quilty/sewing friends were impressed. Because OH MY HEAVENS THIS PATTERN IS AMAZING.

Now if only I could ignore the six (!) quilts I need to get done before Christmas and get the rest of this done!


Sunday, 24 August 2014

Of Course the Quilting Couldn't Go Smoothly

As I continue to plug away at my grey quilts, the plus quilt in particular seems to wish to cause as much difficulty as possible. After finally getting it pieced correctly and basting it (tell me, does anyone like basting?) I wanted to jump into the quilting. The problem was that I had not considered that a very dark back (a tone on tone Pearl Bracelet in shadow) combined with wanting to keep a crisp (Kona) white front meant that when I did a little practice on a mini quilt sandwich that had the same fabrics I would discover this:

I quilted very quickly, not carefully, hence the pulling on the edges where I went too fast. But the major issue is that the white Aurafil from the front of the quilt shows through on the dark back! Argh!
I researched some options and consulted my quilty friends. Friend A asked for further advice from Triangle Sewing in Guelph who suggested Sulky in smoke. A picked up the Sulky for me and then gave me her clear as well to see if anything would work.
Smoke and clear. What will work?

These are the brands in case you are interested.
I then did a lot of practice. A had also recommended using my walking foot to see if that would lessen the amount the thread pokes through. I tried many combinations, as you can see below:
The trick was for it to not muddy the white but not to be seen on the back.
Ultimately I decided to go with smoke in the bobbin and clear on top. And I opted to use a walking foot as per my friend A's suggestion rather than FMQ because when I tried with the other thread it kept snapping. I didn't want any part of that, let me tell you.

It went quite smoothly other than one incident:
That sucks.
I got a huge nest of thread that involved some seam ripping (which wasn't too bad) and cleaning out my bobbin case to find the culprit (in this case a small three inch piece of the clear that had somehow become lodged in the machine). I then got back to work and...
Finished! Well, binding sewn on the front and waiting for a marathon session of some tv show to get done, then a good wash to get out the fabric marker.
I was so relieved to be finished that I used my enthusiasm to baste my grey Pow Wow quilt! It has now sat for a week without being touched yet, though. I hope some sewing mojo comes my way to conquer that quilt as well!
If you are visiting my blog because of Jenn's recommendation from A Quarter Inch from the Edge, welcome! Visit again on September 1st when I will blog about my quilting inspiration and projects and recommend three more fantastic bloggers whom I think you should check out!