Friday
May112012

Let's Have Some Fun Today!

8:20 am

Ok.

Never mind that I'm still in my PJs and I have a meeting at my daughter's school in 15 minutes ...

My OTHER daughter reminded me about a birthday party she was invited to tomorrow.  We discussed what I'd make for the birthday girl a few weeks ago ... and forgot about it until she reminded me last night.

So!

I have some sewing to do today and thought it might be fun to show you how it goes.  Sort of a "blogging live" thing.  Could be fun, could be a disaster (I was also just now reminded that I promised my little one a picnic lunch today, so ... but ... I'm game if you are!

Here's what I'm starting with:

See you later!

Tuesday
May082012

Farmhouse Parlour Quilt

So, are you curious to know what I did with these ...?

Well, here she is ... Farmhouse Parlour ...

... the quilt I made with Lecien's "Antique Flowers" fabric (which will be available in stores in a few months ... I PROMISE to let you know as soon as it's available and where if I can find an online source, kay?)

I am totally over-the-moon happy with how this quilt turned out.  I was very disciplined and used exactly the same amount of each print because I wanted the quilt to be an accurate representation of the entire fabric collection. 

Aren't you proud of me for not favoring the pink as I so desperately wanted to do?  And in the end those little rosy sparkles are absolutely perfect.  I think if I'd added more pink it would have thrown the color balance off and made this quilt too sacharin.  By respecting the collection this quilt has a sophisticated personality with gentle & feminine characteristics.

It's even more beautiful than I was picturing in my mind.

I stitched 1/4" inside every.single.piece in every.single.block ... and THEN I appliqued the circles on!  I wouldn't necessarily recommend that method, but I reeeeeally wanted this quilt to have that old-fashioned, hand-quilted look and I didn't want to stop and start every time I met up with the circle in the middle ...

This is a traditional quilt design.  I saw a picture of it once and was inspired to make it for 2 reasons:  I LOVE hexagons and I LOVE dresdan plates.  The single, repeated block is basically a hexagon/dresdan love child. 

I couldn't think of a better fabric collection to use for this design.

And I'm absolutely banana.nuts.crazy over the secondary pattern created when the blocks are all put together.

Isn't that just THE.coolest.thing.EVER?!

I'm particularly pleased with the side edges ... I knew I wanted to take advantage of the hexagon shape.  This angled edge is just sooooo vintage-y to me.  In my experience, the extra time and effort required to make a non-straight quilt edge is ALWAYS worth it.  Always.

And yes, these pictures were taken in my livingroom.  Doesn't it look perfect on my sofa? 

Honestly, I didn't realize how "old-fashioned, parlor-esque" my livingroom looked.  I don't know if I should be proud or embarrassed! LOL!

The sofa - or rather "chesterfield" as we Canadians who hail from the east call them - happens to be a family hand-me-down from the 1930s.

But never mind about that. 

This post is about this quilt, and how the fabrics reminded me of my Grandma Irma's farmhouse parlour and how the vintage aesthetic of that room inspired me to find the perfect heirloom design.

Oh, I should also mention the background fabric is NOT part of "Antique Flowers".  It is another Lecien fabric - a beautiful linen - from Meg Hawkey's new collection "Inkwell".  (I've been a HUGE fan of Meg's embroidery designs for years!)

Hope you like it.

You know I do!  LOL!

Monday
May072012

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 49

I was gonna try to make up for missing last week and post 4 blocks today ... that didn't happen.  I was lucky to get these done and photographed before the sun went down!  LOL!

And as you can see I wasn't in the mood to bother with a color theme.  I just picked whatever.

#52 Hovering Hawks

I had a bad feeling while I was cutting that these colors were too weak to go nicely together.  I was right.  At a distance, this block has virtually no definition - 'cept for the red splotches from the flowers.

Blech.

But at this point in the FWQAL, I really don't give a (insert curse word of your choice here ... anything from mild to severe will work ... tee hee).

#94 Tall Pine Tree

You know me and my literality (is that even a word?)  This is supposed to be a tree.  I guess ... if you were on LSD or something ... (I got that reference from an episode of Mad Men a few weeks ago ... I've never actually tried it ... just sayin'.)

Can you tell I've hit that legendary mile 18 of a marathon and am having a hard time being excited about FW right now?  I think I have only 11 more blocks to make ... feels like a million to me ... (wheeze, cough, sputter)

Also, I hate math.  If this is Week 49 and I've made 2 blocks / week I should have 98 made with 13 to go.  But I counted my blocks twice and I have 100. 

??? 

Whatever.  I don't care.

;)

Friday
May042012

Whatcha Doin'?

No really.  I'm curious.  What are you working on?  A quilt?  Embroidery?  A DIY decor project?  Something else?  Too many things?

Me?

I'm doin' these ...

... all 52 of 'em.

With these ...

... to keep me company.

(SO wishing I had a magic wand right now!)

Thursday
May032012

Totally Wiggin' Out Here

Ok.

The freakiest thing happened to me when I was photographing the Antique Flowers fabric yesterday ... in my livingroom.

CHECK-THIS-OUT!!!!

Area Rug Sampler I made at the turn of the century (THIS century ... LOL!)

Wall color & hardwood floors

Planter

Art PianoAnd just when I thought there was NO WAY I'd find burgundy wine ANYWHERE in my house, I see this ...

Daughter's violin caseI swear, if you had told me these fabrics would be PERFECT for my livingroom I would have slapped you across the face with my kid-leather glove and challenged you to a duel at high noon in the worst fake French accent you have ever heard (think Inspector Clouseau).

Kidding ... but I WOULD have told you to get your eyes checked.

I am totally flabbergasted by the discovery that I love Antique Flowers, not just because they remind me of my Grandma Irma's farmhouse parlour, but because they remind me of MY OWN LIVINGROOM!

Now excuse me while I go check to see if the sky is falling ... 'cause I'm just not certain about ANYTHING right now! LOL!

(Sorry about all the shouting today ... but I AM TOTALLY wiggin' out!)

Wednesday
May022012

And Now For Something Completely Different

"Antique Flowers Collection" by Lecien

Do not adjust your set ...

I KNOW!  What is UP with ME?!  LOL!

I'll tell you what.  Another Lecien quilt for Quilt Market!

Yes, I know.  There's nothing really Shabby Chic about these colors either.  In fact, one could argue they are like the anti-Shabby colors I most often relate to.

But I'm totally head-over-heels in love with this fabric all the same. 

Why?  Lemme 'splain.

Even though I’m a city girl I have many fond memories of visiting my Dad’s childhood home.  He was raised on a small farm (80 acres) and my grandparents grew wheat & corn.  They also had sheep and chickens.  They lived in a tiny (and by tiny I mean the original bathroom was an outhouse) turn-of-the-century Cape Cod style farmhouse in southern Ontario (Talbotville, if you know the area) with a quaint parlour just inside the front door to the left.  To me, that little parlour was the ultimate in old-fashioned, traditional romance.

Well, my sentimental heart jumped the moment I laid eyes on this collection.  You see, my Grandma Irma - of Finnish decent - had beautiful long auburn hair (always worn up in a gentle bun). 

And these colors are, in a word, her. 

Soft golds,

rich merlots,

tobaccos, (this is a very ... unusual color ... but it plays so well with the other colors in this collection and I think is one of the "keys" - hardy har har - that really make Antique Flowers feel ... antique)

warm caramels,

deep chocolate, (I was gonna say coffee, but I don't drink coffee ... and I do love chocolate)

silvery greens, (another color that almost defies description but is so gorgeous in real life)

... even the littlest hints of blush & rose

... it's all Grandma Irma. 

Her parlour was appointed with everything one would expect to find in the "best room" of a country farmhouse.  The window was adorned with cream, voile curtains.  Heavy velvet drapes – which matched the gold wall color - functioned as a closet door. 

There was a dark, antique pie-crust coffee table and oak cabinetry with glass doors to hold her books.  A small wingback chair occupied one corner while a chesterfield lined the far wall and a smaller couch sat in front of the brick fireplace.  (Her prized Royal Doulton & Hummel porcelain figurines cluttered the mantle!)  The furniture was all mismatched and covered in a variety of upholstery from brushed mocha velvet to goldenrod cordeuroy. 

The accent colors were wine and smoky blue/grey. 

And the painted, squeaky floors (which were almost EXACTLY this color ...)

were covered with layers of oval braided rugs in russet & autumn browns. 

And then of course there were the quintessential vintage glass bottles on the window sill to catch the light and the doilies to protect the wood and decorate the furniture.

I think you've got the picture. ;)

So.

It's as though Lecien went to my Grandma's parlour, took an inventory of all the colors and made these fabrics especially for her.

And I've not even MENTIONED this quilter's dream combination of timeless cabbage roses,

dainty posies,

floral etchings,

bouquets,

and whimsical polkadots ...

you know ... to keep everything from being too serious.

Can you just IMAGINE what beautiful quilts can be made with this collection? 

Well, I've got one in the works here.  Partly the reason I haven't got my FW blocks done yet.  I've been cutting and sewing like crazy working on this quilt these past few days and can hardly wait to show it to you.

Tuesday
May012012

Wacky Hair Day

I don't know if your child's school does this, but mine does ... Wacky Hair Day.  The kids love it.  Secretly, it's my favorite fun day too ... since my girls and I came up with this idea:

crossing a french braid concept,

with a small collection of Littlest Pet Shop toys.

There are 9 creatures in all.  Each one is held in place with a small, clear hair elastic around its neck.

Pretty cool, eh?

Best part is that the hair is out of her face and the animals stay put all day.  These pictures were taken AFTER school. 

Other best thing is there's no hair spray, glitter, color, gel ... nothing goopy or messy.

Monday
Apr302012

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along - Oops

I'm so sorry you guys.  I haven't got any new FW blocks today.  I'm very sad.  This is the FIRST Monday I've missed since I started last July.  I'll try to get them done in a few days. 

Instead, I thought I'd show you what my FW project looks like behind the scenes.

Remember I showed you how I organize my FW fabrics,

this picture from my Sewing Room Makeover,

and my confession that my room farted after the pictures were taken?

Well, here is partial evidence of said wind-breaking.

And I had to remove an equal amount of mess that was sitting on top of my FW fabrics just to take this picture.

Pitiful.

Friday
Apr272012

Cherry Blossom Baskets

Yesterday was like the best day EVER.  A new friend came over for tea and stitching.  I met her in a quilt shop a while ago.  She recognized me from my blog.  (Dude, that was totally weird ... being recognized in public from my blog!)  She found me in blogland from this lovely lady

So I ... or rather WE ... finished my quilt yesterday.  She kindly offered to help me bind it.  (Thanks again for coming over G, and for the beautiful pink tulips!)

Holy cow does synchronized binding every go way faster!  Or, at least it makes up for time lost from chatting and pouring/drinking tea. ;)

Thanks to her, I can show you the finished quilt.  (She's holding it up for me.)

You guys, this quilt was so much fun to make.  I think I accomplished what I set out to do - make a pretty quilt - simple, but not boring - to feature the entire fabric collection.  But doesn't it look like a total scrap quilt?

I was inspired to make baskets because of a beautiful appliqued pattern I'd seen recently, and from the notion in my head that these fabrics looked like they came from Grandma's scrap basket.  Basically, the universe was telling me "BASKETS" and I listened ... I've learned to not mess with the universe.  It says "jump" I say "how high?" 

And these rogue prints? 

Well like I showed you yesterday, I managed to use the whites for all the cherry blossoms (LOVE how they just pop against the other fabrics!)

and the check in the pieced border. 

I'm really tickled with how the white dotted prints ended up becoming the inspiration for the secondary (or arguably the CO-primary) feature of this quilt. 

It just sorta happened.  I didn't see them in the beginning.  I think they're my favorite thing about this quilt. 

Oh, and I also got the idea to FMQ a little flower in each post. (Except that wave of brilliance came AFTER I'd already swirly twirled my way through one ... )

So I hope you like Cherry Blossom Baskets as much as I do. 

And I really appreciated all your comments about my quilt this week.  It really feels so nice knowing you like what I do and look forward to seeing the things I make.  I do not take your time and appreciation for granted.  Thank you for making me feel ... worthwhile.

Thursday
Apr262012

Not Done Yet ...

Sorry, things like the dentist & and neglected laundry sorta got in my way.  (I suppose I should be grateful my children don't want to simply turn their dirty underwear inside out ...)

But here's a quick sneak peak.

And I figured out a way to incorporate the whites!  Yay!

Just the tiniest bits of embroidery.  It always amazes me what a few simple stitches can accomplish.  Total bang for your buck!

Tuesday
Apr242012

Expanding One's Creative Horizons

Remember this quilt I designed for Lecien's booth at Quilt Market last October? 

Well, I've been asked to design & make another one (... or two) for Quilt Market in Kansas City next month.

(EEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!)

I know.  I can't believe it either!  I'm still pinching myself. 

This set of FQs from their "Quilter's First Collection" arrived in the mail last week.

I opened the package like a kid on Christmas morning.  

Check this out ... there's a pleasing combination of teeny dots,

large florals,

medium florals,

checks in my preferred size ... bitty ... ;)

light florals (LOVE those tiny little dots in the background!),

pokey-dotty stripes that remind me of grosgrain ribbon,

small florals on a very subtle diagonal pinstripe that will give texture and movement to any quilt,

and the cutest ever teensy weensy calicos that say "sweet" but not "sacharin" ... (squeal!)

Colorwise, this collection has a versatile & complimentary mix of reds,

blues,

yellows,

browns,

greens,

and even pinks

& a few (dotted) whites.

The funny thing - at least to me - is that they don't necessarily read as a "fabric line".  The colors and prints have been selected so cleverly that they look more like a fabulous collection of vintage scraps, like someone raided Grandma's basket of precious leftover bits from shirts and dresses and such. 

But then I sorta scratched my head.  Hmmm.  Wasn't sure what to do!  You have to agree that these colors don't exactly look like my stash, right? 

If left to my own devices, I'd probably only ever make pink and white quilts.  And then I'd get so bored I'd want to shoot myself.  Plus I'm often (too) quick to turn up my nose at things that don't fit my narrow-minded taste.  When I walk thru a quilt store I take milliseconds to decide if I like something and even less time to decide if I DON'T.  Not necessarily a quality that leads to creative satisfaction.

However, if there's one thing I learned sewing samples for a quilt shop for six years is that working with fabrics that fall outside my ... er ... prejudicial preferences ... makes me a better designer, a more satisfied quilter and a girl with broadened horizons.  All good things.

So.

My point (and yes, I have one) is that my foolish narrow-mindedness would have prevented me from buying this beautiful fabric that is absolutely FULL of character, texture, subtlety, tradition and dynamic color tension. 

That said, when I first laid my hands on them I was totally stumped in terms of what to make.  But the creative process always takes me by surprise.  I never know what will inspire me or how I will overcome self-imposed mental blocks.

One of my favorite tricks - and you've seen me do this so often with my Farmer's Wife blocks and even with my Embroidery Sampler - is to find an emotional or sentimental connection with the fabric/design.  With this fabric I saw "Little House on the Prairie", the dresses worn by Laura & Mary which were made by Mrs Ingalls with calicos bought from that mean old Mrs Oleson.

Another trick of late is to take a stack of fabric to the tv room, spread them all out on the ottoman which sits between the couch and the tv, and then just quietly wait for the fabric to start talking to me ... no pressure ... I'm not staring at them constantly ... I'm just letting them be and waiting for my subconcious to connect with them.  Watching my new favorite show "AWAKE" with my husband also seems to help.  (LOVE this show!  Can't get over that he's Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter!) 

This trick worked like a charm because by the 3rd commercial break I found myself wanting to pair up the FQ into dark & light color sets, like this. 

Seems my OCD personality craves order.

Sorting these prints into pairs was so much fun for me ...

... it's how I get my jollies.

Admit it ... you've got fabric idiosyncracies too!

Sixteen pairs in total - a very nice number of blocks to work with.

Then I totally got butterflies in my tummy knowing a quilt design was being born. 

These few leftovers didn't seem to want to cooperate with the picture growing in my mind ...

so I just set them aside ... for now.

The reveal tomorrow or Thursday ... depending on how fast I can get it done!

Monday
Apr232012

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 48

Red, White & Pink

#13 Buckwheat

This block is gluten-free.

Huh?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley & rye and a host of lesser known grains.  It is a virtual poison to those suffering from Celiac Disease and other "wheat" intolerances.  If you or someone you know is Celiac - like my daughter - you will know that despite the name, "buckwheat" is a grain which happily is absent of gluten. 

And buckwheat is not only gluten-free, it's delicious ... especially in the pancakes Daddy often makes for us on Saturday mornings.

So I love this block. 

Because it's gluten-free.

#74 Ribbons

I wanted to make this block look like a twisted ribbon with two prints in the same color but different textures for both sides of the ribbon.

I love it. 

Although I can't TELL you how many times I've tried to pick off this little strand of "thread" ...

which is actually part of the print!  It's driving me crazy.  I think I might find a red permanent marker to color it out.

In fact ...

Crap.  Can't find one. 

But I will! 

'Cause I'm a little neurotic quirky that way.

Friday
Apr202012

It's All Just Smoke & Mirrors Over Here People

For those of you who think I never make mistakes when I sew and that all my projects turn out perfectly all the time - thank you so much for the compliment, but - let me present to you Exhibit A ...

Need clarification?

Exhibit B ... my new one.

See the difference? 

I use my stitch ripper so much I've almost completely worn away the letters!

I only show you my work when it looks good ... AFTER I've fixed my screw-ups ... all smoke & mirrors, I assure you. ;)

Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday
Apr182012

Hexagon Love Affair

For the longest time, I had this oh so pretty Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Garden Rose pile of fat quarters on one side of my desk.

And these two templates on the other side. 

I bought these fabrics here a while ago and for a long time I didn't know what I was going to do with them.  I just liked to stare at them while I was working away at my computer.

I've also had a love affair with hexagons since my very first quilt ... in 1987 ... and the several quilts that followed ... all English paper-pieced.

My girlfriend had these templates and I've been dying to make something with them ... just didn't know what.

Until one day I FINALLY made the connection.  DUH!!!  Use the fabrics & the templates for the same project!  (Sometimes it takes me a loooooooong time to connect such obvious dots.

So I got to work.

Happy work.

Very pretty happy work. :)

The kind of work that (almost) makes you totally forget you have any responsibilities at all ... you know, like picking up your children from school and making dinner ... (why doesn't my family like to eat peanut butter sandwiches or cereal for supper?  It's not like my cooking is anything to write home about!)

Tuesday
Apr172012

I'm a Lucky Blogger

Wanna know why?

'Cause I have like the nicest readers EVER.

That's right.  I had a giveaway (several months ago now ...) and the winner took time to send me a thank you note ... in the mail! 

Not only that, she sent a HANDMADE card,

personalized with my favorite appliance in my favorite color.

And by the way, it is just my humble opinion, but quilters have superior skills when it comes to other crafts like scrapbooking and cardmaking.

See?  A perfect mix of a solid (scalloped applique, no less), floral & check ...

... even stitched together with a zigzag.  (LOVE that!)

With the sweetest message inside.

But the best thing about a homemade card is this ...

the logo on the back by the maker.

Thank you for the thank you, Becky!

Monday
Apr162012

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 47

Red, Pink, Yellow & White

While reviewing my nerd sheet for this week's colors I was surprised this combination had escaped me!  Wohooo!!! Something new. :)

#44 - Gentleman's Fancy

I waffled sooo many times on the colors for this block.  I thought I'd do it in "boy" colors ... blue & gray. 

But as much as I like to invent SOME sort of meaning or purpose or story to my blocks, this one came out this way because a) it could handle 4 colors and b) I was in the mood for something easy after ...

#95 - Temperance Tree

... THIS 41-piece monster! 

Now, IF I were to make this block again ... and chances of that ever happening are slim-to-none ... and Slim just rode out of town on his horse ... I'd change the yellow triangles to white.  I like the tree-type blocks to look really graphic.  I threw the yellow in there out of necessity.

I'm ok with the results, just not over the moon happy with it.

Thursday
Apr122012

Mystery Block of the Month 10

Ok.  This is DEFINITELY my favorite block so far in this project.

Just LOOK at it!  So cute.

I admit to fussy cutting the red floral.  I didn't want big blank spaces of solid red.  There are still a few "bald spots".  But overall I got the look I was going for ... very flowery/blossomy.

And the polka dots in the corners?  Love.

Designed by Gudrun Erla of GE Quilt Designs.

She's from Iceland, you know!  I think that is ... SUPER COOL.  Cool as in totally awesome, not as in polar bears & frostbite. 

Wednesday
Apr112012

Mystery Block of the Month 9

I do NOT know what was UP with me for this block ...

I think I messed up on at least half of the outside points!

(Designed by the HILARIOUS sister team of Barbara Groves & Mary Jacobson!)

Although now that I think about it, I was sewing this block on a Saturday nite when hubby and the kids were out, leaving me with several unadulterated hours of freedom!

So I may have had a beer with my leftover chili supper (which I zapped in the microwave and then ate standing up in my sewingroom while I stared at my WIP) ...  guess I shouldn't drink & sew!  LOL!  Mind you, I really shouldn't drink and do ANYTHING! 

Anyhow, here's another group shot.

Only 3 blocks left! Eeeeep!

Has anyone else started working on the finishing kit yet?  I think I'm gonna start on all the flower stems ...

Monday
Apr092012

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 46

Pink, Green, Gray & White

This color combination came about as a .. well ... like this:

#36 - Flower Garden Path

When I read the name of this block my poor brain went literal.  The main detail in the block is the big X - presumably the path made of grass.  Then I saw beautiful stone benches one sees in romantic, French, palatial gardens.  You know, like Versaille.  So my garden has 4 benches. 

And then what color flowers?  "Pink", said Queen of the Obvious.

I love the light and airy feel of this garden ... no dirt, bugs or worms anywhere. :)

#98 - Waterwheel

I'm starting to feel a little restricted by my "two blocks with the same colors" approach.  With only about 20 blocks left my color format is becoming ... tedious.  I may have to let that go soon.

However, I managed to make a mate for the above with this block.

At first I was a little disappointed.  Didn't like the fussy cut flowers in the middle.  And didn't think the contrast between the gray & green was strong enough.

But then my feelings moved from disappointment to indifference to possibly a hint of like.  Whatever the reason, this block is growing on me. 

Friday
Apr062012

Happy Easter!

 

Couldn't decide which photo I liked best.

According to my daughters,

they should ALL have jelly beans in them.

Happy Easter!