Saturday, 13 December 2014

Designing a map

So I've been working on a new quilt. I've been sketching and musing and pulling fabrics for months, but I made myself finish other projects before I started a new one. And then the tornado quilt popped into my head and I had to do it first. So I've just started my map quilt. It doesn't have a name yet and it's not a map of any particular place and I can't really remember where the original idea came from. The inspiration has come from lots of places - fantasy novels, history classes, old maps, travel, jewellery from Etsy, advice from other quilters and Canadian bobsleds (more on that another day).

I wanted to make a map quilt and had the feeling that it needed to be an island, though I don't have any ties to a particular island. So I started doodling random blobs on the page, then outlining them and making adjustments. I also thought it needed an archipelago, because every good island does. And apparently it also needed a face.

Once I had the shape, I added topographical features - mountains, lakes and rivers. I decided to pass on roads and civilization. When I had a shape I liked and had figured out how big it needed to be, I taped some paper to the wall and used a data projector to project an image of the map onto the wall. I traced the design onto paper, cut it out and traced it onto my fabric with a Frixion pen.

I used Steam-a-Seam to fuse the lakes onto the land and machine appliqued around them. Then I layered a piece of batting behind my fabric and embroidered the mountains and rivers by hand. That was a first! I kind of wish I had looked up embroidery stitches before I started my first mountain, because once I stitched one that way, I was committed! I was happy with how my rivers turned out though and the hand stitching didn't take as long as I thought it would.

Once my embroidery was done I had to figure out how to quilt it. Originally I was thinking contour lines, but with the amount of embroidery and the mountains, I decided it would look weird. After looking at other embroidered quilts for inspiration, I chose to just quilt a meandering pattern and work my way around the threads. I drew it out on my paper template with my Frixion pen for practice, thinking that if I didn't like it, I would iron the paper and try again.

In the end, with the matching variegated thread and the pattern on the fabric, the quilting blended right in, so the pattern didn't matter too much anyway.

My next step was to cut out the island to applique onto my quilt background. I outlined the island with pen so that when I ironed on the Steam-a-Seam my lines wouldn't disappear. I had tried different chalk pens, but they didn't show up well on the fabric. I fused the Steam-a-Seam to the back of the batting so that it covered the edges of the island, leaving the middle section bare. Here's the island cut out and ready to applique onto the water!

Next up I have to piece my compass rose (and learn paper piecing in the process) and make my legend.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

I was commissioned to make a few stockings, with the only stipulation that one of them be red. So I used a pattern I made last year and sewed a couple up. I used a vibrant red crackle and a navy and silver fabric called winter's grandeur.

 I cut the toe, heel and cuff from white fabric. The toe is pieced to the patterned fabric. The heel is double layered, sewn right rides together and then topstitched onto the heel. The cuff is in two pieces, sewn lengthwise right sides together, then folded over. It serves as both the lining and the outside.

I added the toe and the heel to both sides of the stocking, then sewed the lining.

The lining is made with white fabric as well. It would make more sense to have cut it in one piece, but I had already cut two extra toes out. I just sewed it right sides together.

I traced the stocking onto batting and basted a layer onto the wrong side of the both of the stocking pieces. Then I sewed the two pieces right sides together.

I stuffed the lining into the stocking. Then I took the cuff piece, sewn into a tube, and tucked it into the stocking with the right side facing the lining. I sewed around the top and pulled it out, folding it over. Then I tucked it in 1/2 inch and topstitched, attaching it to the patterned part of the stocking.

I folded the cuff of the stocking down, but it looks good unfolded as well. 

Ready in plenty of time for Christmas!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


I write this post in the middle of a blizzard but I designed this quilt in the middle of a tornado.

Early in the fall I arrived home from work one Friday night to a power outage and the threat of a storm.  I sat by the window with a pencil and some graph paper, using the last of the daylight and then a flashlight to sketch some designs. As I was sketching, we got a phone call saying the roof had blown off of the field house at the local baseball diamond and later learned an F1 tornado had passed within about 300 m of our house, tearing apart our neighbour's barn. I joked that I would name the quilt tornado then decided that the pattern did evoke a sort of swirling motion, with pieces coming apart from the centre block. So Tornado it is.

I designed the quilt around the Color Me Happy line, as I had a fat quarter bundle that needed a project. I loved the blues in the line but wanted blue to be the dominant colour, so used Kona Navy as the background and picked out greens, grey, pink and whites prints. I ended up using only 7 fat quarters and still had pieces of those left over.

The quilt is mostly comprised of flying geese blocks with some parallelograms and a few half-square triangles, along with lots of 3 1/2 inch strips cut into various sized rectangles. It came together quickly.

I cut and sewed the flying geese units, parallelogram units and half-square triangle units first.

Then I started in the centre and worked my way out.

I sewed the outside flying geese in blocks before adding the half-square triangle corner blocks.

I was playing a bit and thought two flying geese blocks together might make a fun baby quilt.

 I'm happy with how it turned out! It's funny to see a sketch come to life. I like the way the prints pop against the navy background and the clean lines, creating order in the chaos. The quilt measures 90 x 90, so it'll fit a bed.

I was having a hard time taking pictures, as it was getting dark, I had to lay it on the snow and the wind kept blowing the outside border. My fingers were freezing!

I plan on writing a pattern for this one. I think it's a good way to showcase some favourite prints without using too much fabric. I think it would also look good pieced with only two colours. Next I'll have to decide how to quilt it. Personally, I think it's begging for some custom quilting, but we'll see...


We had a thaw and I managed to take some better pictures, despite the gloomy sky.

For the free pattern, see this post: Tornado Quilt Pattern

Sunday, 16 November 2014

More City Gym Shorts

It's the middle of November already! With a few inches of snow on the ground and flakes in the air. The end of summer and start of fall are always busy with summer travel and school starting up again. So I haven't posted in a while but I have been sewing. First up is another pair of City Gym Shorts, which were started in August and finished right around the time it became too cold to wear shorts. So I guess they'll have to wait in the closet until next summer. I've finished a few quilt tops as well, but a wet fall has made photos difficult. The early nightfall and snow on the ground hasn't helped, so stay tuned!

I broke into a fat quarter bundle from the Color Me Happy line and used my favourite print for the front. The back is a Kaffe Fasset shot cotton.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

My Country Gym Shorts

I saw a few people posting online this week about their City Gym Shorts, the free pattern that The Purl Bee recently released. At first I thought, oh, those are cute, but I can just buy shorts. Then I read another post and realized that they came in adult sizes and thought, oh, those are cute!

So I clicked over and printed the pattern, headed to town, picked out some fabric, machine-washed and dried it and sewed it up. I always think that projects are going to take an hour. Not quite sure why, it’s never happened. The pattern was easy to follow and overall came together fairly quickly, if not in an hour. It was my first time both using bias tape and inserting elastic into a waistband. I had to take my time but they both turned out. With quilts, I can usually visualize how they’re going to look but I’m always slightly surprised when I make clothes that actually look like clothes. 

The fabric for the back is Peppered Cotton in charcoal.  I love the texture; the weave gives it some nice depth and it’s very soft. I intended to get a bright fabric for the front, but I spotted this black and white print and thought it worked perfectly. 

Although they're called the City Gym Shorts, my gym is more country than city. I've already worn them to the lake. They were nice and comfy as I ran up and down the bank carrying tools for the dock and helped launch the boat. I can't wait to make more in different colours!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A Quilt for Max

Here’s a little quilt for baby Max, just in time to meet him at his baby shower.

I used four fat quarters, so it ended up a little smaller than I would normally make a baby quilt. I just couldn’t pass up those little elephants. But this way it can fit in the car seat and will hopefully travel well. It’s my first attempt at free-motion quilting and I did some loops and curves to somewhat mimic the pattern in the green fabric. I found the hardest part was timing my foot and hands to work together, so that my sewing speed matched how fast I was moving the quilt. Baby steps. 

He's so sweet.

Monday, 28 July 2014

St. Andrew’s Medallion Quilt

Apparently I was experiencing a brief moment of not feeling too busy a few months ago over the March Break, when my grandma stopped by my house. She told me she was going to a meeting at the church later to discuss prizes for the Thanksgiving Raffle. I jokingly asked if they needed my advice and she said yes! I said that I guessed, if they didn’t need it too soon, I could maybe make a quilt. She quickly offered to pick me up later and take me to the meeting – I think she was afraid I would come to my senses and back out.

I had been admiring some medallion quilts on Pinterest, so I started sketching out some block patterns and designed a quilt. I managed to time it well with a big sale at my local quilt shop and ended up with some blue weave prints, one of my favourite green prints and a solid yellow. They even had a marbled blue extra-wide backing fabric that matched nicely.

I started with the centre block:

My centre block ended up a little too big, as did my flying geese, so as I went I tweaked the pattern to make everything fit. 

It was my first time making flying geese and I was happy with how they turned out.

I added a few borders at a time and it was nice to see it grow from the middle and kind of look like a real quilt early on, rather than random blocks and bits of fabric.

The parallelogram border took a while.

Once the top was finished, I asked for advice on how to quilt it myself but the quilting instructors talked me out of it. I decided to save myself many hours and the challenge of a 90-inch quilt and have a long-arm quilter do it. I’ll practice my quilting on smaller quilts to start.

I had her do an all-over quilting pattern and I bound it with the lighter blue.  

I'm a little sad to see it go. I may have to buy a raffle ticket!