Sunday, April 29, 2007

Shop Hop Banner

On Friday I went on the Shop Hop, which included visiting 6 quilt stores. At each store I received a stamp for my passport and picked up 2 pieces of fabric. On the left are the fabrics I collected at the stores. At the 6th store I was given the green fabric for the border/binding, and the pattern to make a Spring banner using these fabrics. Over the weekend, I sewed it together and just finishing sewing on the binding tonight while watching the Amazing Race. The colours are a little off on the right, but you can see what the project is.
The letters were made with fusible applique, which I haven't done a lot of. And wouldn't you know it, the very first letter I made got gunk on my iron! That is why I don't use it very often - I don't like getting my iron gunked up! I'm sure if I used this technique more often, I wouldn't have this problem and would learn how to avoid this.
However...the banner is finished and measures 15" x 23". Now I have to clean my iron!
A big thank you to store owners - Cathy, Heather S., Leslie, Cheryl, Brenda, Linda, and Heather Z. for the fabric and fun!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Spring Shop Hop

It was a long week for my family, filled with concerns about my Dad's health, but after surgery today, he is doing much better and his prognosis is good. He has had 5 surgeries in 3 years, and so many serious health concerns. But we are so thankful today!
This meant that I was able to go on the "Spring Shop Hop" which included 6 quilt stores (in Southern Ontario, Canada) within about 2 hours driving distance. I know some of you quilters are lucky to have a dozen stores close by, but my closest LQS is about 1/2 hour away. Here is a photo of one of my favorite stores called "Creative Sisters". This is part of their batik fabric section and isn't it just beautiful to look at!?!?
I took my shopping list along, which included items that I will need for a class I am taking in May. I am proud of not leaving that preparation until the last minute, because I had to shop for products I haven't used before like "Fast2Fuse" and black "quick bias". Here are some of the things I bought and looking at this photo, I must say that this was a successful day in that I only bought things I "need" impulse purchases. All of these things are for specific projects or for my class.
And, of course, we had to stop in at the chocolate store! I took a photo of this beautiful display at the Rheo Thompson Candy store to show you. Their chocolate is delicious and their packaging is extra special. It's just as pretty as the fabric shelves above, only not as good for you as the fabric! What a great day...good news about my Dad, new fabric purchases, no impulse buying, yummy chocolate and lots of beautiful things to look at!
Check my blog later in the weekend to see the project we collected fabrics each quilt store we received two pieces of fabric and at the last store we received a pattern for a little spring wallhanging!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Quilting Companion

The stashbuster webring topic of the week is: let us meet your quilting companion.
I am blessed with many quilting friends with whom I have fun quilting adventures (check in on the weekend for a shop hop report) but my furry four-legged quilting friend is my favorite! This is my Shih Tzu dog Molly, who has been my quilting companion for 7 years. Everywhere I go in the house, she follows. She always wants to sit on my lap, but that doesn't work when I'm quilting, so we have an agreement that she can sit behind me while I sew! Don't look at the mess in my quilting area in this photo...just look at my adorable little Molly!

Here I am sewing a Strawberry Shortcake bag for my niece for Christmas, and there is Molly sitting right behind me. She has her own little bed in the sewing area, but she prefers to sit with me when I am sewing. If I am cutting or pressing, she will lay on her bed, but when I sit down to sew, she jumps up on the chair too. It is really not comfortable and I really should break her of this habit for the sake of my back (and I should also get a good chair) but she is just too cute!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Goddess of the Last Minute - Quilt #3

As I wrote in previous posts, I had to pick 3 quilts to be in a quilt show in May. I already wrote about quilt#1 and quilt#2. And here is quilt #3, called "Infinity". It started with a piece of hand painted fabric (I use Setacolor paints) and a box of beads. My son and I like to watch the olympics together on TV but I get bored after about 10 minutes if I don't have handwork to do. So this is what I like to do to keep my creative mind busy while I watch TV.
This quilt is 10 1/2" x 6 1/2".
I have been taking a break from doing this kind of hand work until my thumb nail heals up. Thanks to those of you who emailed me with suggestions on promoting faster healing. I think we all agree that doing the dishes (and any other houshold chore requiring hands in water) is not a good thing, so I am taking a break from that!

I have been working on my samples for the Quilt University class I am taking on "Points and Curves". These are the practice pieces I have made so far. Although these techniques were not new to me, I have been challenging myself to draft the patterns on EQ (Electric Quilt program) and that has not been as much fun as I had hoped! For the next lesson I am going back to the regular old-fashioned method of "paper and pencil" pattern drafting.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My favorite quilt store

The Stashbuster Webring topic of the week is: "Tell us about your favorite quilt store and why it is your favorite". My favorite store is "Little Quilts" in Marietta, Georgia. For a store to be your "favorite", there must be an emotional attachment, right? In 1994 when I was pregnant and on complete bedrest for 3 months, my husband bought me a book called "Little Quilts". I loved looking through this book and dreaming about quilts. With my limited fabric stash, I hand pieced a little quilt for my parents and my siblings for Christmas gifts, while laying in my bed. This was a very stressful time for me, having already lost one pregnancy, so my quilting helped me to stay relaxed and sane. The five quilts I made in those three months are mostly all hand appliqued, pieced, and quilted. I did sneak down to the sewing machine to sew on the borders and bindings, but don't tell anyone! Here is one of the little quilts I made:
In 2000 I had the unexpected opportunity to visit the Little Quilts store in Georgia and loved seeing all the projects in person. They have a great selection of fabric that is perfect for miniature quilts, and very friendly staff that made my shopping experience pure heaven! The displays around the store are beautiful and I felt so happy just to be there. My bag of purchases is small because our funds were limited, but I can't tell you what a great day that was!
And then in 2001 after the September 11th tragedy, the Little Quilts staff asked quilters around the world to send in miniature quilts to honour the dead firefighters and police officers. Of course I made a quilt to send, and I wrote about that experience in this blog entry.
I can't wait to visit the Little Quilts store again some day, but until then, I enjoy reading the regular emails sent from staff member Kathy Niemann describing all the classes, new merchandise and happenings at Little Quilts.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Abstract quilt

It has been a busy week, and I was lucky enough to have some creativity time yesterday. I worked on my monthly abstract challenge (theme = orange) and forced myself to finish it today, even though it doesn't look anything like I had planned. My original sketch was a circle of triangle shapes, using the colours of the colour wheel, with the orange pulling out of the circle, all on a white background. When I went to my scraps, I couldn't find any fabrics to make this work. But I did find some black strips from Judy and some orange teardrop shapes from Julie (some guild members don't like to save scraps...can you believe it?!? so they share their scraps
...lucky me!). My philosophy is - if the scrap jumps out of the bag to be in the project, I find a way to fit it in! So I made up a new plan, cut the black strips with wavy cuts and ironed them to a fusible interfacing. It didn't stick very well, and I wondered if fusibles have a shelf life...a "best before" date? I free motion quilted little orange seed stitches over the wavy seam lines. Then I put the orange sections on and free motion quilted around the edges. I really wanted to quilt the orange sections but couldn't decide how to do that. Here are some quilting ideas I considered but couldn't decide which one, so I left it for now:I then finished it with a striped binding, and some orange beads in the centre. I try to do a little sewing, even if it is hand work or beading, every day. But I think I need to stop for a little while. I have split my thumb nail down the centre, on my needle holding hand, and I think it is from too much hand there such a thing? When sewing on the orange beads it was really hurting. Anyone have advice on how to fix this problem? Maybe I should do some machine piecing this weekend and give my thumb a rest?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Miniature Ohio Stars

We've been having problems with our internet connection the last couple of days and it made me realize how dependent I am on this little machine! After 2 days of DH trying to fix it, I called the server tech this afternoon and within 1 minute it was working! I'll try not to say "I told you so" about asking for help...I know it's a male issue to only ask for help as a last resort and he can't help it! :)
I taught a mini quilt class yesterday (we were making little flower blocks) and here are the projects the students brought back from last month's class when we were making 3" Ohio Star blocks. You can see that two of the students didn't love making these blocks, so they made adorable little hotmats! Three of the quilters sewed their star blocks on-pointe, with setting squares in between, which gives a whole new look to the quilt. The top right quilt has the stars in black, with a varied background and a slightly modified block construction (eliminating one column between the stars) for another unique design. These women never cease to amaze me month after month...they take an idea and follow their creativity to wherever it takes them!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Goddess of the Last Minute - Quilt #2

On Thursday I wrote about having to pick three of my quilts to be in a quilt show in May, and I showed you the first choice. This is the beginning of the second chosen quilt...gathering the pattern and the supplies. Members of my guild will recognize the fabrics, as this quilt was made for a guild challenge in which we were given a fat quarter of the green and the blue fabrics on the top of these fabric piles. The theme was "celebration". The photo on the left shows some of the beads and threads I bought for this project, and the 2 1/2" EQ5 (Electric Quilt) paper pieced pattern I used. On the right is the finished piece called "Celebrating Beauty and the Beads". I had a different design layout in mind for this quilt, but it exceeded the measurements of the miniature quilt category so I had to come up with something else. It took me a while to decide to include this piece because I had to contact it's new owner and ask to borrow it back for the show! On the left is a close-up photo of one of the blocks which shows some of the beading. The size of this piece is 7 1/2" across by 11" from top to bottom.
Only one more quilt to choose!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Family Quilt History

Stashbuster Topic of the Week:
How did you come to start quilting? Was it passed down in the family?

I have written before about my introduction to quilting in this post. There is no one in my family who sews or quilts, and I have always been envious of quilters who have a long family history of quilting. (I did have an aunt who was a knitter, and she taught me how to knit mittens.) The only quilts we have are those made by me, with one exception. My mother-in-law was encouraged by her 90 something neighbour to make this queen size quilt for us for our wedding (this quilt is now 23 years old). I think it is called a Dresden Plate and was made from the scrap bag of the neighbour. My mother-in-law did not enjoy it, had never quilted before and has never quilted since then! But she did make one beautiful masterpiece! Here is a close up of the blocks...all bright and happy colours. We used this quilt on our bed all the time before we had a dog. Now it rests mostly on a quilt rack because I don't want it to be exposed to any more damage. It has some spots where it is worn and the binding has been mended. See the wonderful hand quilting... and the pencil marks are still visible in some places. On the right is the border quilting and on the left is the quilting between the plates.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Miniature Quilt classes

I had such a fun day today! Both of my children have recovered well enough to go to school, and I taught two miniature quilting classes. All week I was so worried about getting their illness and missing my classes,but I still feel fine...yippee! I'm sure the students were tired of hearing me say how happy I was to be away from the sickhouse! Here are the miniature quilts that the morning students worked on last month. We used a pattern from Wendy Vosters (with her permission) and just look at all the different ways to set these blocks...some quilters separated the blocks with sashing, and some added a couple of borders. Some snowmen are still waiting for their eyes and mouths! They did a great job and here they are proudly showing you their work! Thanks again Wendy for generously letting us use your design! Watch your mailbox for a treat from me!Here are the afternoon paper piecers with their Valentine heart quilts from last month...using either 3" or 1 1/2" blocks (or both) and different layouts. In today's class they were building houses for their own little neighbourhood, and mastering the skill of pieced joins.
Did I already tell you what a great day it was!?!?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Goddess of the Last Minute!

I know that Robbi Joy Eklow claims to be "Goddess of the Last Minute", but I could give her a run for her money! I was invited many months ago to submit three pieces for the Quilt Festival's "Glitz, Glitz, Glitz Embellished Exhibit" in May. Only three pieces...that's right...3! So I have been fussing around since then about which 3 to pick...older pieces? Newer pieces? Which ones? Quilts from my cupboard? Or should I recall quilts I have given away? Of course my most favorite quilt is usually my most recent one, but it's not finished yet and has decided to not be finished by the deadline, so that one is out.
So, now the coordinator has emailed me to remind me about the deadline for the paperwork. No problem, I say...when is it?? Tomorrow!! did that get here so fast?!?! It's a lot of paperwork...four pages per piece plus the artist's bio...that's 13 pages to write up before tomorrow. Why did I leave this to the last minute?!?!
I asked my sick daughter, who is a captive audience, for a consultation and she easily picked her favorites. We decided this one is in for sure since we both love it! It is called "New Growth: Branching Out" and was made as one of my assignments in Myrna Geisbrecht's Self Expression class at Quilt University. It started with a hand painted fabric that I liked, and I was inspired by the drying lines in the paint to quilt a tree...the funky little "Dr. Suess" flowers evolved, and the tree trunk and branches were darkened with Caran d'Ache water soluble crayons. The quilting is in the style inspired by my friend Judy Taylor, who is a pro at this kind of machine quilting. I tried to bead each flower in a different way. The beading inside the binding is from Mary Stori's Beading Basics book. (Wow...that is alot of links that I just wrote up, but I like to give credit where credit is due! Just click on the coloured words and your computer will take you to their websites.) The size of this piece is 8 1/2" square.
So, that leaves two more quilts to pick. And a pile of paperwork to fill in. Tune in tomorrow night to see the other two quilts that get to go to the Glitz show. If I was more organized, I'd make my decision like "American Idol" does and get my blog readers to vote! Maybe next time!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Beading my fingers to the bone!

To keep from losing my mind while the children are sick, I have been doing some beading. I am sewing beads onto my hand painted fabric (Setacolor paints) in whatever design the paint seems to indicate. Here is a small section on the right.
It is very soothing and relaxing. I have also sewn a bit of embroidery floss in some places and found that I really enjoy that too! I work on it in between emptying throw up bowls, disinfecting everything in the house, and bringing fluids to my patients! It is starting to get a little painful now because with all the hand washing and disinfecting, my skin is getting quite irritated. But because I want to bead, I don't put on hand fingers get too slimy to grab the needle! The children better recover soon, or my skin will be worn right through!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mystery solved!

Shortly after easter, both of my children started with a violent stomach flu...ugh! I have set up a little hospital here and have been busy night and day. It is like having a newborn again! All the things I had planned to finish this week won't get done. Oh well, at least the children are starting to feel better and so far my husband and I have avoided the bug. I hope to be able to venture out to the guild meeting tonight.
I did finish my paper pieced mystery block from Paper Panache. All fabrics were from my stash, so I am happy about that! I'll have to figure out what I want to do with it. I'm thinking about adding a border or two and making a little spring wallhanging. The little black thing on the bottom is supposed to be a bug...the little creature type of bug, not the stomach virus kind of bug!! I'm not sure if I will put something else there or enhance his appearance with some stitching. Maybe after all this vomiting I don't really want to be reminded of "bugs"...and will cover him over with a little flower!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

Easter celebrations are in full swing here today. The easter bunny braved freezing temperatures to bring treats for the children. This was the view outside my kitchen window yesterday while cooking supper....lots of blowing snow but not much accumulation, which enabled my husband's family to come from the north to have supper with us. I didn't make my nephews or children do the easter egg hunt this was too cold...they were greatly relieved. I did, however, torture them by making them watch my old home videos of collecting easter eggs in previous years and that was lots of fun (for me)!
Today I am doing what many other women are turkey.
On the right is a photo of some of the spices I was mixing into the dressing...some people call it "stuffing". I couldn't find any sage, so this year the dressing is sage-less.
While I was working on this, I was thinking about the book I just finished reading called "The Birth House" by Ami McKay. This book is of particular interest to me because it addresses all the issues I work with in my paid job, including abuse of women, poverty, lack of power/knowledge, women's rights, marital and family relationships, and supportive friendships between women. What an interesting book! It takes place in Nova Scotia (a few miles north of where I was born) and tells the story of the two midwives in a small, isolated community. It covers everything from historical facts, such as the Halifax explosion in 1917, to "old wives tales" about how to deal with fertility concerns. The part that relates to the photo here is the herbs and spices listed at the back of the book, which were used by the midwives. Sage is for helping with pains and drying up milk....bay leaves are for writing your wishes on, "burn them and they'll come true the same day". Maybe I'll take out one of my bay leaves and try it!
Anyway, back to my reality and peeling potatoes.
Here is a photo of the cake my mother-in-law makes for us every easter...isn't it cute?!
Back to the kitchen for me...hope I have some time for sewing later!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Paper pieced mystery

I have had some time to sew together the pieces for the mystery block. Here they are resting on my ironing board. Any guesses as to what I am making?!? These pieces are not trimmed yet, and need to be sewn together.
Check in tomorrow to see what it is!

Friday, April 06, 2007

What kind of quilter are you?

So here is the crux of all my problems...the stashbuster topic of the week...What kind of quilter are you?
And the problem is...I am an "everything quilter"! I love everything about it. I enjoy strip piecing, hand embroidery, paper piecing, hand piecing, hand quilting, machine quilting, fabric painting, working from patterns, making my own designs, hand beading, and I even love binding. I guess I don't like machine embroidery (probably because I don't have a fancy embroidery machine to enjoy) and I haven't done a lot of applique, although I think that would be fun too. My least favorite activity is basting a large quilt, but even that I make enjoyable by basting at the Centre for the Arts, while visiting with other quilters. I enjoy traditional and contemporary designs, realistic and abstract. And as a result...I have hundreds ( read that right...hundreds) of projects in various stages of development...ideas in my mind, ideas in my sketchbook, quilts I have purchased fabric for but haven't started, projects I have cut out, some that are partially sewn, collections of completed blocks needing to be sewn together, tops waiting for quilting, some that are half quilted by hand, some projects that aren't turning out and are waiting to be "fixed", some waiting for more beading...are you starting to understand the problem?!?!
I also love to read...mostly about quilting, of course! I have just finished this book "Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiderers and Textile Artists" by Kay Greenlees. Our guild librarians ordered it for the guild and since I recommended this book, I get to read it first! It is a very inspiring read, but I would have enjoyed seeing more embroidery, and I would like it MUCH better if it was a soft cover book with a coil binding (which is my favorite kind of quilt book). It is an expensive and heavy book...perfect for a library book, but not one I would use for a regular resource.
And I have the latest Quilting Arts magazine waiting to be read.
But I have been distracted by my non-quilting reading of the novel by Canadian writer Ami McKay called "The Birth House". It is a great story so far and hard to put down. quilting calls me..."put the book down and go downstairs and sew". This weekend I plan to get caught up on sewing the blocks for our guild mystery President's Challenge. Here on my fabrics on the right. We needed to select 12 fabrics for this design and that was really difficult when we don't know what we are making. We have been making blocks every month and will soon find out how to sew them together. I think my blocks are wonderful, but have no idea how they will look when sewn all together.
And if I have enough time, in between cooking big family meals on Saturday and Sunday, and of course, being the Easter Bunny and planning an easter egg hunt, I hope to sew up another mystery block from Paper Panache. My university age nephews are refusing to do the easter egg hunt this year..."please Aunt Kathy don't make us take little baskets outside and look for easter eggs in the snow" they are pleading. Maybe I could take that off the to-do list and have more time to quilt!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I have just finished my monthly abstract miniature quilt. The theme of the month was "country" - not as in Canada, but country as in rural or countryside. The images/words that come to my mind when I think of country are: trees and earth, peaceful, calm, empty space, lonely...
I made some initial sketches...I always doodle about 6 design ideas to start and go from there. I got carried away with the house on the hill in the left sketch ...inspired by a card I had recently received. But then I didn't like all the detail and found myself wanting to make a swing set and a family, and became defocused from the theme.
This quilt turned out to be a little larger than postcard size and I should have sewn something stiffer (cardboard) on the back, but I like the backing fabric, so I left it. The base is my hand painted fabric overlaid with painted cheesecloth. The trees were made using one of my favorite techniques...scrap bits under Solvy. If you read my post on March 31st - click here -  there is a picture of my cupboard and my collection of tiny bits of fabric in jars (sitting on the bottom shelf), which I call "Quilter's Jelly"...I really do use these up! I am teaching another class on this in May, so I am thinking about more ways to use this method.
I like to quilt everything to death, and I had a difficult time resisting the desire to heavily machine quilt my country. I knew that this theme required minimal quilting, so I left it hanging on my design wall for a couple of weeks, while the quilt and I debated the issue! Yes...we debated...out loud! Well, I guess I was talking out loud, but the quilt talked very quietly! That's why I have to stay in the basement, so noone knows how crazy I am and that I talk to my quilts!! Here is one of my sketches on the right working out the issues of how many trees and how much quilting.
I made a few attempts to quilt some different things in the blank space, but it just made the quilt seem busy and it started looking too active and frenetic...more "city-like". So I ripped those stitches out. Then I couched a course, brown, twine-looking fibre around the outside edges.
Again, I let it sit for a while, asking it...""are you sure that's all you want"??
I am still resisting the desire to add beads and more quilting.
It looks so plain, so empty, so calm. Just like the country.
Mission accomplished...walk away!
Now April has arrived and I have a different topic to divert my attention, so luckily for this country mini, I will call it "finished" and move on. The new topic is "orange" and I have lots of orange beads!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!

April 1st is my Mom's birthday, and some of the family gathered to celebrate yesterday. My gift to her was a fun book by Sybil Rampen called "The Grannies" , who was a speaker at our quilt guild in January. Sybil autographed this book for my Mom and we have enjoyed not only reading the story, but also looking at the photographs. Here is a summary: "One day, 75-year-old Sybil Rampen realized she was growing old and decided she wouldn't go quietly. So she wrote a book and formed a motorcycle gang of grannies: they wear leather, they have a clubhouse, they do TV shows, pose for photographs and generally raise hell, love and laughter. "
While I was visiting Mom, I took the opportunity to take some photos of a quilt I made for her retirement in the 90's. Mom was a teacher librarian, so of course I made her a bookshelf quilt! It is from a pattern in the Quick Quilts magazine, although there was nothing "quick" about this quilt! I had a lot of technical trouble working with it, but I still like how it turned out overall. The book blocks are pieced from scraps, and the tilted books are machine appliqued, as are the baskets and vases. I added a few buttons here and there that have school a big yellow school bus, an apple, etc. I appliqued three photos of my children reading, or Mom reading to them, with two more photos on the back with the label that were not as good in quality. These photo transfers were a nightmare, using the old method of tranfer using a white goopy substance, which resulted a poor quality transfer. I had a friend machine embroider the names of all the schools my Mom taught at on some of the tilted books. Because I was working on a tight deadline (I found the pattern 2 weeks before the retirement party), everything is by machine, including the binding. Everytime I see that binding I think that I should fix it...and I haven't done a machine finished binding since then! However I must say that it is a very cherished keepsake of my Mom's and I am delighted that she loved it so much.