Thursday, 31 December 2015

Arctic Fox Mini Quilt

I've been slowly working on a little project with a lot of details over the past few months. It was inspired by Canadian artist Robbie Craig, based in Yellowknife, NT. He captures and creates striking images of the Canadian north in his paintings and photographs. I enjoy travelling around and exploring different parts of Canada, but I haven't visited any of the territories yet. They have always been on my travel list, but seeing his images have made me want to travel north even more. It was one of his paintings, The Silver Fox, posted on his Facebook page that prompted this quilt.

The style of the painting, with the fox's features outlined in white and the way the varying shades remain distinct, rather than blended together, seemed to lend itself well to appliqué. So with the artist's permission, I translated his painting into a quilt design.

I had the perfect fabric for the background, from Robert Kaufman's Sound of the Woods fabric line, designed by Kathrine Lovell. I had lots of scraps from Carolyn Friedlander's Botanics line as well and I thought the crosshatch prints would work particularly well for fur. Some black Kona fabric completed my choices.

I traced my image onto Steam-A-Seam to cut it out and fuse it onto my background. I made the fox and moon from white fabric and fused the other shapes on top to create the effect of the white outline.  I did the same with the grey fabric for the snow. Once all of the pieces were fused on, I used a tiny blanket stitch to appliqué around the edges of every piece. I asked some quilting friends for advice on the appliqué and quilting and got many different ideas to work with. (Thanks Tish, Anja and Anita!) I debated using a straight stitch to do a raw-edge appliqué, but decided I wanted cleaner edges. The coordinating threads blended well with the fabrics and I was happy with the effect.

I really debated about the quilting on this. I almost didn't quilt it as I was afraid of ruining the perfect background. But I've heard that the quilting is like adding a layer of art and I figured I might as well take advantage of my medium. So I echoed around each of the white snow drifts, the fox and the moon. Then I densely quilted the sky with slightly wavy lines to help the images in the foreground stand out. I added a few lines of stitching around the fox's face and around the contours of the moon to add a bit of detail there  as well. I also took the advice to echo quilt inside the snowdrifts, especially when I remembered that the original design included shading in the drifts that I had omitted.

I'm thrilled with the result! I keep touching the quilt, to feel the texture of the sky and how the snow drifts pop out from the background. I took extra care with the binding and I'm pretty pleased about it as well.

I had the opportunity to meet Robbie Craig and purchase some of his prints a month ago, when he held a show in Ontario. I bought prints of Midnight Sun Mountain, Pond Hockey and Reverie. I can't wait to get them up on the walls. I brought my partly finished mini quilt to show him and promised to share the finished piece! I'm grateful for the opportunity to play with his design. Though I contemplated turning the one block into a bigger quilt, I decided to stick with a mini and make this a wall hanging. Who knows, maybe one day two more blocks will join it in a triptych.

Happy creating!

Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A flannel Tova Tunic

I remember the Tova Tunic popping up on blogs everywhere a few years ago in gauzy cottons and Liberty prints. I didn't take much notice then, but when I was looking for a tunic pattern this fall, it caught my eye. I had some cozy blue, purple and white shirting flannel begging to join my wardrobe and I was admiring the long shirts, tunics and fall fashion on Pinterest.

Busy, grey December days mean indoor photos
The fading light makes it hard to tell, but I got some new purple leggings at the craft fair and they match perfectly. 
My sister knitted me the toque! It's made from a variegated blue wool. 

I've already worn it several times in the last few weeks and it's so comfortable I think I could live in it. I sewed a size medium with no modifications - thankfully it didn't need any, because I'm not very experienced with garment sewing yet.

I've paired the tunic with jeans and both purple and navy leggings. It goes almost to my knees and is more of a dress length, so it's comfortable with either. I really like the neckline and 3/4 length sleeves.

I can definitely see more of these in my future and I imagine that they'd come together quicker now that the pattern is put together and I've sewn it before. There are a lot of bags, clothes and quilt patterns I'd like to try though, so it could be a while before I get around to it. Yesterday I finally finished my Christmas sewing projects - with 3 days to spare! Today I finished a quilt top for a pattern I'm writing that I hope to share soon. I still have a quilt top and a mini to appliqué, a binding to put on, a half-quilted quilt to finish and a top that needs embroidery that I've been dragging my heels on. A little bit of everything. It seems that I better get going on some baby quilts for friends pretty soon too. My goal is always to finish one project before I start another, but you know how that goes.

If I don't have more to share this week, Merry Christmas! I hope you get to enjoy time eating, playing relaxing and sewing with family and friends.

Linking up with Handmade Tuesday.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

December Sewing Space


It’s been weeks since I’ve posted anything here, but life and sewing has been busy behind the scenes as usual. I’ve finished a few Christmas projects that remain a secret and have a few more to work on in the next two weeks. Only two weeks - the fall has really seemed to fly by this year and December snuck up on me. I think it’s the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having here in central Ontario. It was 8 degrees out today, I didn’t even need a hat or mittens. We only had one snowfall that stayed around for a few days and the winter wheat growing in neighbouring fields is looking pretty green. I’m okay with the warm weather for now, but I do love a white Christmas. I’m hoping for a skating rink on the lake this winter too, so I wouldn’t mind a drop in temperatures soon. For everything there is a season.

In addition to Christmas projects, I’ve been slowly working away on a new quilting pattern I designed this summer. I’m sewing it up in batiks and loving how it’s coming together so far. I sent out the call for testers and Anja of Anja Quilts has been testing for me. She finished hers before me! She posted it on her blog yesterday as a work in progress. I love the colours she chose - blues and greens are my favourite! She sewed 4 blocks rather than 6, making it all from her stash. Gotta love a project like that. You can check out more photos in her post.

Aren't those colours so striking?
I’ve also shown some pictures on Instagram of the items I made for my first craft sale, this past weekend. Here are some pictures of our table. My brother made candleholders, coat racks, lanterns and a gorgeous platter out of wine barrels. I sewed simple infinity scarves from shirting flannel and used tons of fabric scraps to make appliqué t-shirts. I also made simple drawstring bags with the waterproof fabric used for cloth diapers, to make a wet bag. I had heard of wet bags from moms with young kids and I've seen them included in high-end gym bags. They're great for the gym, the beach, travelling to daily use. You can use them to keep bathing suits, wet or dirty clothes, towels or shoes separate from the rest of your stuff. The inside can be wiped clean or the whole bag can be thrown in the wash.

You know how Facebook shows you "memories," things you posted on this date however many years ago? I have never reposted them, but this week Facebook showed me a photo of my first quilt, that I posted four years ago. It's behind me on the back of the armchair, where I'm sitting here typing in the library. 

I started thinking about all of the people who say "I wish I could make that" or "I would love to learn to sew someday" or even "Can you make me one?" So I shared the photo and I just want to say that it's never too late to learn something new.  Whatever catches your interest or captures your imagination, try it! You never know what may ignite a passion. Don't wait for 'someday'. And like anything, getting good at something usually takes practice. Think about it, all of the skills you have now you were once just learning - walking, writing, reading, bouncing a ball, driving. All things that you can do without thinking. In the beginning, you couldn't do them at all. It took practice. How many wobbly lines did you scratch onto the page before you wrote your first letter?  Don't be afraid of failing, it's part of the learning process. I remember how long that first quilt seemed to take, after sewing bags and simple shirts. I remember hand stitching the binding one Sunday, over 9 hours. I didn't make another quilt again for a while, but eventually some fabric caught my eye and I gave it another try. So if it doesn't work out the first time, try again. You never know what might come from trying something new.

Friday, 13 November 2015

A Hipster Cat Quilt for Oliver

I think I may have gone a bit far with this project. It was the cat fabric that first attracted me, and I thought about how my kitten Oliver needed a bed so he would leave Tigger's alone. I'm kind of attached to this little guy. I mean, look at him.

So I searched "quilted cat bed" on my phone and what did appear, but Shwin & Shwin's Hipster Cat Quilt. I really just couldn't help myself. I'm a quilter, what can I say. About $70 later I'm walking out of the store about to make a quilt for my cat. Ridiculous. He still doesn't have a bed.

This quilt is easy and fairly quick to put together. I opted to use raw-edge appliqué, a bit different from the original tutorial. I printed and taped together the template, then traced it onto Steam-A-Seam. I fused it onto my fabrics, cut them out and fused them to the quilt top. I used a blanket stitch to sew around the edges with coordinating thread. 

The fabric for the background is Fishbones, the backing is Scatter and the bowtie is Mice. All are all from Makower's line, Cats. I thought the grey and white dot and white and grey patches worked nicely too for my little grey kitten. The bright pink was in my stash.

Despite the small size of the quilt, the quilting gave me a bit of trouble. I wanted to free-motion quilt it and my thread kept breaking. My machine didn't seem to like quilting through the Steam-a-Seam, so I slowed down and it seemed to improve. I trimmed the edges and squared it up to get ready for the binding. 

I figured I might as well use up the last of my mouse fabric and added in the bright pink for a pop of colour. I machine sewed the binding and I have to say, I think it's one of my best yet. I cut my binding strips 2 1/2" and sew them onto the back first. Then I press them towards the edge of the quilt and use Wonder clips to clip them on the other side. I put the edge of the binding a bit less than 1/8" over the line of stitching, then stitch a bit more than 1/8" along the edge. This means that my stitching line on the back (usually) stays on the binding too. I only went over the edge for about 3 inches this time!

Oliver was instrumental in the creation of this quilt. We managed to capture some photos of him helping with the layout, sewing and burying threads. That part is much easier when your cat is on your lap under the quilt, moving around where you're trying to bury the threads. 

You might have noticed his bowtie as well. Again, I couldn't help myself. The scrap fabric was there, I had elastic, Halloween was approaching.... I even managed to get him to stay still long enough to pose for a couple photos on this dark and rainy afternoon. I was going to wait for some natural light for photos, but in November dark comes early at this latitude. 

Definitely the most ridiculous and cutest project I've ever made! I recommend checking out this free pattern. I think it would be fun to play around with different fabric combinations or make smaller cats and do four blocks with contrasting backgrounds. 

What's the most ridiculous project you've ever made? Any sewing or pet confessions?

Monday, 2 November 2015

Fall Cape

I blame Jess of the Sewing Rabbit for starting my current cape fixation to go along with my plaid flannel obsession.

I never really cared for capes before, but I spotted a cape on a mannequin at a fabric store and it caught my eye. Plus I had a 50% off coupon and there was a whole display of this sleek plaid fabric in different colours. So I bought the pattern - McCall's - and decided to give it a go. I opted for a red and blue plaid with narrow stripes for the exterior, a navy lining fabric for the interior and a a grey suede-look fabric to bind the edges.

I used the cape on the mannequin for my inspiration, which differed slightly from the pattern. Instead of using a single layer of fabric and adding fringe, I sewed the pattern in the plaid and the solid lining, then basted them wrong sides together. I used 2 1/2" strips sewn together and attached them to the cape like a quilt binding. Another time I'd probably make bias tape and bind the edges that way, but quilt binding is something I'm comfortable with.

To fasten and secure the cape so that it doesn't fall off, I sewed a buttonhole on the left shoulder and a button along the edge of the right flap. So the right flap folds across my chest and buttons underneath the left flap at the shoulder. On the left flap, I stitched a toggle, which attaches to its loop, sewn on the right shoulder.

The cape ended up longer than planned, but I'm getting used to the length. I figure it'll keep me warmer. The hood is also quite big, and makes for a bit of an evil or mysterious look when it's pulled up all the way. I'll have to get a photo of that as well.

The plaid fabric is fairly thin, so despite it's look, the cape is not overly warm. Perfect for fall, but by the time we finished taking photos, the sun was down and my new knitted hat and mittens were needed. Luckily, there's lots of room for layering underneath, to help it last into late fall or early winter. I'm quite happy with how it turned out and despite my original hesitation to wear it out in public, it's been well received.

Shawls, capes, blanket scarves and ponchos seem to be everywhere this season, in all kinds of materials. Have you sewn one up? How do you wear it?

I'll leave you with this sunset, behind our bare trees. Here's hoping that fall holds on little longer.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Halloween Dress

Back in August when I was hosting a class for my Edge Tote, a friend made a Halloween version of the tote using some glow in the dark skeleton fabric from Timeless Treasures. But they weren't cheesy skeletons, but rather scientific-looking diagrams of bones, labelled with their Latin names. It looked pretty cool. When my local shop ran out, I ended up buying a couple of yards online with the intention of making a skirt to wear for Halloween. I figured I could be Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, a witch, Dr. Brennan from the TV show Bones, or just dressed up for Halloween in general.

The skirt idea morphed into a dress and I'm happy that it did! I used a store-bought dress from my closet to draft a pattern. I cut the dress the same front and back, except for a lower neckline in the front. I used my new bias tape maker (so much fun) to make a channel inside the dress at the waist for the elastic. I sewed the elastic into the dress first, then joined the front and back pieces together. I left a large gap for the arm holes, which I finished with my rolled hem foot (love that thing!). Then I stitched up the side seam a bit to make the arm hole the right size. That way the rolled hem disappeared inside the dress past the side seam, keeping it all finished.

I finished the bottom with a rolled hem as well, since I was tight on fabric and didn't want the dress to be too short. That 3 inch difference between a metre and a yard makes a difference! I lined the dress with some jersey knit, sewing the lining and outer dress together at the neckline and then topstitching to finish it off.

I LOVE how it turned out. It's comfortable and fits pretty well. I paired it with a black bow belt from another skirt, my pocket watch necklace and a black hairband with feathers. We're well into fall here, so a black cardigan and leggings were necessary too. I'm also happy that I've gotten to wear the costume a few times. Last week I went to a local evening event called the Witches Walk. There were hundreds of women dressed in costume, with local shops offering discounts, treats, games, wine tasting, vendors and live music. Good times! I also got to enjoy two costume days at my schools and I have a Halloween party to go to Saturday after I hand out candy. I'm usually a last-minute costume-type person, but I'm glad I got an early start this year. I also love that I'll be able to wear this dress again and again around Halloween!

Linking up with TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and LAFF.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

2016 Quilter's Planner

I'm excited to share that a block I designed will be featured in the 2016 Quilter's Planner. The Quilter's planner was created by Stephanie Palmer of Late Night Quilter. It includes monthly calendars and weekly spreads with to-do lists for work, personal life and quilting projects. Each week includes a different quilt block from a different designer - including me :) The planner will also include full quilt patterns from top designers like Pat Sloan, Amy Garro, Kitty Wilkin, Lee Heinrich, Mandy Leins, Yvonne Fuchs and Cheryl Brickey.  As well, there will be quilt planning templates, blank pages and graph paper to fulfill your designing needs. 

I know that some people like to make schedules and plan ahead and some people would rather remain unscheduled and be more spontaneous. Personally, I'm more the planning type. I've tried many ways to stay organized. I used to use an agenda faithfully, but over the past couple of years I've moved to using digital organizers as well. I have the iCal and Reminders apps synched on my phone and personal laptop so that I can keep track of appointments and to do lists. I also use the Stickies app on my work laptop to keep track of schedules, events, marking, lessons and other things at my two schools. But I also jot down notes on scraps of paper, type up quilting and sewing ideas in Word documents and sketch away on graph paper in my binder or blank paper in my sketch book. There's so much going on and new ideas are flowing constantly.

One of the things I miss about using an agenda is the visual of a weekly layout and the time slots for planning. So I have to say that so far, I LOVE how this planner is set up. It seems to have room for all of my lists, notes and appointments and as others have commented, it would be nice to keep everything in one place.

For more images and information about the 2016 Quilter's Planner and to pre-order a copy, click here.

This past year a quilt I designed was featured in a calendar, this coming year I have a block in a planner - what's next? ;) Are you the planning type? How do you stay organized?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Cape Scarf and Fall Colours

I've got the fall flannel bug. I know plaids go in and out of style, but I think it's always a fall staple here. My local big box fabric store had some nice soft shirting flannels on sale, begging to be made into a project. A month ago, when Jess of The Sewing Rabbit posted this Cape Scarf tutorial, I decided to give it a go. She used a knit fabric, but I went with this white, grey and blue London Fog plaid flannel.

I made a few changes to the scarf, opening up the slit more so that it opened up as far as my elbows while I was wearing it. It looked a bit more natural and allowed for more movement. I also used 1.5m of fabric, rather than the two yards it called for.

These photos were taken over Thanksgiving weekend, which ended up being gorgeous - sunny and 23 C. Too warm for scarves :) A few of us went for a little walk after turkey dinner to enjoy the weather.

My brother and I checking out the crabapples. 
My brother and sister-in-law
The good weather continued the next day, which worked well for some family photos I was taking. A warm fall has meant that the leaves just started turning a couple weeks ago. Now, a few maples remain in brilliant oranges, yellows and reds, but most of the other leaves have come down in the rain and wind. With the cooler weather, I've been wearing the Cape Scarf as an oversized scarf over a fall jacket to keep me warm during windy morning yard supervision.

Seven cousins under 8 yrs makes for a fun photo session.
I've been kind of jumping from one project to the next and I've got several on the go. Going to the open quilting class I attend makes it hard to stay focused. There are so many pretty new fabrics and temptations, with lots of enablers around ;) You can expect more new projects this week, as I seem to be finishing a few of them up all at the same time.

Linking up with Main Crush Monday.