Wednesday, 25 March 2015

March Sewing Space

All seems quiet on the blog lately, but behind the scenes I'm being pulled in every direction. Here's what my sewing space looked like in March:

We had a week off here for March Break, so I travelled to Lake Louise for a few days to visit my sister. We skied in the Rockies, hiked Johnston Canyon and walked across the lake, along with sightseeing in Banff and Canmore. By chance, we happened to park across from Canmore's quilt shop. Despite the advertised eight thousand bolts of fabric, and calls of, "We'll see you later, just ship it home," I showed great restraint and only walked out with two metres of fabric. And of course 8 hours on planes, plus graph paper, a pencil and the latest issue of Canadian Geographic equalled a new quilt design. But that one is a secret for now. I've already given too much away.

Late afternoon light, the sun just dipping below the peaks
Early morning stillness
That new quilt design happily coincided with National Quilt Day, celebrated with a sale at my local shop - where I picked out the perfect fabric for it - followed by an afternoon of sewing with some family. Sewing turned into watercolor painting, turned into, it's 7 o'clock already?!, we should probably eat something.

At the sale, I did pick up some more deep and gorgeous Kona Bay Hibiscus, along with my first-ever batik print for the backing. I pulled the others from my stash. The plan is to make another Jewel Burst quilt, likely for a charity raffle. This time I'll use the purple for the background and the greys and whites for the jewel burst and border, opposite to the previous version. I usually use low value colours as background, so this will be a bit different for me.

Also during the March Break, I quilted a throw quilt my Grandma pieced, which had a short deadline and shall be revealed once its recipient has seen it. She's been working so hard on it.

I've been eager to get my hands on the Jewel Burst quilt to start the free-motion quilting around the centre, but sewing time evades me. I want to have enough time to get into a flow and finish in one sitting. Maybe it's different with practice, but at this stage in my free motion quilting I find it hard to quilt with the same consistency when I've stopped and started again. A colleague and I are presenting at a teaching conference this weekend, so my time and energy are reserved for that and hopefully I'll return to my machine next week.

Finally, I joined Bloglovin. I started adding all the blogs I read to my page and realized just how many there are! Then I realized I could sort them into groups, which made them much easier to navigate and look for new posts. So if you use it, click the button on the top right in the sidebar to follow me.

I can't resist posting one more photo of Mt. Fairview, with the boathouse at its feet. I think this is my favourite landscape photo from our trip, shot on our first morning there, when my body woke to another time zone, while the mountains loomed and the world still slept around us. I waited for dawn light and took my tripod and camera out on the lake to play a bit. This one came from my phone.

Thursday, 12 March 2015


There's been a little piecing, a little quilting and a little binding lately. The Honey quilt is bound and finished. The Jewel Burst Quilt is partially quilted - it's been on pause for a bit but I got some new ideas at a class this week and it will hopefully be picked up again next week. I'm loving the quilting so far, though I deviated from my original plan. The quilting blends in nicely on the front and stands out on the back. I'm beginning to see the appeal of a whole-cloth quilt. Here's the back. I'll post about it when I have more progress.

I'm just noticing the faint circle pattern made by the quilting in the jewels

Meanwhile, I've been working on piecing a compass for my map quilt. I used a paper pieced compass pattern from the Farmhouse Window Table Runner pattern, designed by Judy Niemeyer and Judel Niemeyer Buls. This was my first attempt at paper piecing, so after buying the pattern, I was completely confused. I gathered my materials and headed to an open class. Luckily, there happened to be another person working on the same pattern! The first class (3 hours) was spent just cutting. And I didn't even finish. This is the first time I've gone to a sewing class without actually sewing. I learned it's faster if you use batiks or solids, so you can fold and pile them to cut multiple at a time. After that, I wasn't sold on paper piecing. 

The next class I got to sew (finally) and finished two blocks. The first one took a while with a lot of explanations, but the second one took half the time and by the third block, I was starting to envision making my own paper piecing patterns. It was amazing to see how precise the the blocks were, with such little pieces, and all I had to do was sew on a straight line. Even when I strayed slightly from the line, they still turned out nicely. I had cut all of my pieces a little big, which I think helped too. I took my time on these, but did have to rip a few pieces out when I mixed up my yellow fabrics. Luckily I had lots of extra, so it was an easy fix.

Though the pattern I was following had the compass in pieces, spread throughout the table runner, I sewed them together in a square. All sewn together, the block looked too big. I debated whether or not I would use it for the quilt. I had originally intended to use the background colour of the quilt as the background colour for the compass, so that it would blend in and let only the compass stand out. However, I didn't have enough of the fabric. I decided to trim the block down to within about 1/4 inch of the points and try it out again. Once trimmed, I decided to leave it as is. I plan to extend the compass points as straight lines in the quilting, throughout the water. I've seen that design used in old maps and thing it would add some nice detail.

Apparently all I have is blurry iPhone photos of this one.
In the end, I was very happy how it turned out! I think the patterns and grid in the Botanics line work nicely with the map aesthetic. I love everything Carolyn Friedlander has designed. I've already bought the Widescreen grey crosshatch to back my Tornado quilt and two prints from the Doe line to possibly back this one. I'm using the grey crosshatch for my legend and others in the line for the title and borders as well. I've sewn the empty legend block and compass into the quilt, but I'm not entirely happy with the spacing. So I may change it and add some piping while I'm at it. 

It's nice to have paper piecing as another technique to use when designing quilts, which opens up new possibilities. 

For previous posts about my Map Quilt, go here.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Honey Quilt

It’s done! I started this quilt two years ago, hooked on the cover quilt of Elizabeth Hartman’s book, Modern Patchwork. I just couldn’t figure out how it was constructed, so I bought the book to follow the pattern. I think the techniques I learned from it have helped in designing other quilts, especially my current project. As much as I like to figure things out on my own, I think it’s also valuable to be taught a new technique or skill, whether from a class or a pattern. Then, you can change it or incorporate it into your own designs. My mom always says that you should follow the recipe the first time, then you can change it to suit your tastes after that.

There's snow in those clouds
At the time I started, mint was the new colour of the season and I was hooked on it too. I’m glad it wasn’t a passing trend, as it’s going to be going on my bed for this upcoming spring. We may have sprung our clocks ahead last night, but nature hasn’t gotten the memo. I remember spending hours online and in the store looking at colours and fabrics, ending up with fabrics from many different fabric lines and three shops, I think. I wanted primarily mint and grey, with a pop of colour, so I figured out a ratio and ended up with pink and blue and that white crosshatch that looked grey online, but ended up working anyway.  

I didn’t follow the pattern exactly, as I wanted the hexagons to be slightly different, without the triangle slice, and I wanted it to fit my double bed. To save cutting out all those triangles when I was going to have a full hexagon anyway, I was introduced to the Hex n’ More ruler. It was a LOT of cutting, 242 half hexagons. Because I was cutting them separately, I had to attach all of that 1” sashing to the top of each hexagon separately, pressing and trimming to size. Which explains why it took me two years to finish! I lost interest and set it aside. I was working on my Camera Quilt at the time and was more exited about it.

I finally pulled it back out this summer, intent on finishing it before I was allowed to start a new project. I think my other quilts have taught me patience, as it didn’t seem nearly as slow this time around. It did still take me about an hour to put a row together, though. I was originally going to make the giant pieced hexagon for the back, but by the time I was finished piecing the front, I went with a solid back – Kona in Aloe I believe, which Sue happened to have it in at the quilt shop. Then I added myself to the waiting list for long arm quilting.

Jennifer did an amazing job quilting it, with different designs in the hexagons and lines in the sashing. On the back, it looks like one flawless design. 

I had a big piece of the grey Zen Chic fabric but not quite enough, so I pulled out the other greys and the white and had just enough for the binding. I kind of hate hand sewing, as nice as it looks, so I usually machine stich my bindings with a straight stich. I went for a zigzag this time, which mostly worked out for me, though I’d probably make some adjustments if I were using a zigzag again.

no family resemblance at all

Taking pictures proved difficult once again. I had no volunteers to hold the quilt up at home, so I headed to Grandma and Grandpa’s down the road to borrow their clothesline. Only the wind was so strong, it popped all of the clothespins off. So I ended up standing on the playhouse once more, laying the quilt on the snow. Grandma and I realized too late that the snow was higher than our boots! I can’t wait till it warms up, the snow melts and the ice breaks up in the lakes. Until then, my quilt is ready and waiting for spring. 

Linking up here and here.