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.