Monday
Oct212013

ivory, taupe & wheat

As I slowly pack up the house for our impending move in about 5 months I've noticed a few "objets d'art" (sounds more impressive than "crafty sewy thingies") I made long before I started blogging.  So I thought I'd share some of them with you, starting with this little wallhanging that's been cheering up a corner in my kitchen for about 6 years.

The inspiration came from one of my favourite Japanese magazines - Patchwork Quilt Tsushin.  The project in the magazine was for a pillow.  I wasn't too crazy about the shape, but I was smitten with the combination of creamy neutral fabrics and the hexagon/courthouse steps blocks. 

I was fairly new to the soft, tranquil world of Japanese taupes at the time, but had started building a nice little taupe stash and was excited to use them ... mostly Yoko Saito & Mrs. March collections by Lecien and a bit of Daiwabo. 

But the embroidered wheat/daisy design?  That's what really hooked me in ... I had.to.make.them.  I even had the perfect wheat print for the block centers.  The embroidery stitches - done with a white/ivory variegated floss - obscure most of the print, but you can see the wheat desgin it if you look closely.

I don't know where it will go in our new house.  Not the kitchen.  Our main floor is open concept so the only  kitchen walls are reserved for cabinetry.  But at a diminutive 10" x 11.5", it won't need much space.

*     *     *     *     *

Congratulations Emily in Florida, you are the winner of a $50 gift certificate to Bear Creek Quilting Co.!  And thank you to everyone who played along. :)

Thursday
Oct172013

i'm blushing

Well.  You could have knocked me over with a feather yesterday when I learned that not only had I been nominated as a "Best Photography in Embroidery" blog by Craftsy, I'd actually advanced to the second round!

Say what?!

Wow.  I consider that a super huge compliment, considering all the amazing people and stunning work out there in blogland.  For my little blog to be recognized like that ... well ... like they say in Hollywood, "It's an honour to be nominated." :)

You know, one of the things that motivated me to start blogging in the first place was because I was so inspired by the many dedicated and talented bloggers ... the whole craft blog thing just really excited me.  I've always loved teaching and sharing what I know with anyone who was interested.  The fact that you, my dear readers, keep coming to visit me here reaffirms that I'm doing something right.  So thank you for that.  Really. 

Anyhow, if you want to play along and vote for me - or for any one of the many wonderful blogs that are also nominated in the several categories - click on the button below!

Every time you vote (only once per category please) you are entered to win a free Crafty class.

:) k

Wednesday
Oct162013

same but different

Just working on a few little projects here.

I played around mixing both my Liberty Tana Lawns and Japanese Liberty-inspired prints.  They work so nicely together.

I'm proud of myself for actually using them ... for more than one project even!  Normally I hang on to my prettiest fabrics forever.

I couldn't settle on a top-stitching design, so I did two different ones ... 1/8" on either side of the seams & and cross-hatched.  Still don't know which one I like better.

Monday
Oct142013

bear creek quilting co. giveaway

No matter how busy life gets we always have time for a little giveaway fun, right?  Today I'm delighted to offer you a chance to win a $50 gift certificate from Bear Creek Quilting Company.

They're a terrific online shop with lots to offer including fabrics, kits, books & patterns, notions & tools ...  Here are just a few of my favourite finds:

Are you thinking about Christmas quilts yet?

I have this bundle ... you know how we love pink around here.

And I have this collection too ...

It's got really cute prints of vintage notions and haberdashery ... all in neutrals ... they look so good with all my Japanese taupes.

To enter the giveaway, hop over to Bear Creek Quilting Company and sign up for their newsletter (top right corner of their home page) and them come back here to leave me a comment.  If you already subscribe, just leave me a comment!  Easy.

Entries close on Sunday October 20th and I'll announce the winner Monday the 21st.  Good luck!

And Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!

Friday
Oct112013

more stitch-a-long fun

Have you heard of the Temecula Quilt Company.  They are a fantastic quilt shop in sunny California.  Even way up here in Canada they're famous.  I have a lot of quilting friends who make a point of going to Temecula, just so they can go shopping there.

But they also have a terrific online service, if California isn't in your travel plans.

Well, it turns out they're starting up a weekly stitch-a-long with my book! They'll be posting their progress every Saturday on their blog.

Not only that, but you can order a starter kit from them (with or without the book, if you already have a copy).  The kit even comes with an adorable custom ruler box to hold all your floss and notions.  I'm going to order one I already ordered a few of those for myself. :)

They're taking orders now and will start stitching at the end of this month.  Hop over to their website for more details. It's gonna be a lot of fun!

Thursday
Oct102013

lost & found

Remember this quilt I made last year?  It's become a family favourite.

And remember all those little scrap strips I had left over?

I started making a miniature quilt with them and managed to eke out a 12" x 15" slab.

Then I set it aside.

Then it got lost.

Under a big pile of stuff in my sewing room.

Well, the poor little thing finally got itself found the other day and it was perfect timing because I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it.

(I was so excited that I started cutting it up before I thought to take a photo to show you!)

You know how it goes around here ... I'll show you when it's finished. ;)

Tuesday
Oct082013

in motion

I have a little tidbit of knowledge I wanted to share with you today.  It's about the "movement" of fabric and how it relates to quilting.

Before I go any further, let me clarify by saying I've never taken a class or anything on this subject ... I'm not an expert by any means ... these are just opinions I've developed over my quilting years.

When I started quilting, I'd hear the term used and was left scratching my head.  What the heck is fabric movement? 

Eventually, I learned that most prints have a direction (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, etc.).  Some are more obvious than others.  And this design element in the fabric can be used to enhance the design of a quilt.  Whether you are aware of it or not, the way you position any print in a quilt will affect the finished look ... sometimes in a very dramatic way, sometimes not so much. 

I quite enjoy using fabric direction as part of my own personal quilting style and I play around with it a lot.  (Sometimes maybe too much.)  My hexagon diamonds gave me the idea and inspiration to write about the importance of this subject.

Below are 4 diamonds made with the same small check.

Top left is diagonal, top right is vertical, bottom left is random.  Can you see how they all look different?  Ignoring the colour, each block has its own personality which results from the way I oriented the lines of the print.

The bottom right is also vertical, but if you notice the two hexagons that are side by side just above the bottom point, you'll see that the fabric was basted to the template a little crooked.  So even though most of the hexagons are vertical, those 2 slightly crooked ones affect the appearance of the entire diamond.  It looks a little wonky, doesn't it?

Ooh.  I just got an idea.  I'm going to make a block with all the lines going in the same direction ... except for one little errant hexagon.  :)

Here are 3 more diamonds with the same plaid print but the lines oriented differently.

Notice the first one ... it's supposed to be straight, but it looks really crooked.  That's because the strong red line is obviously misaligned from one hexagon to the next.  So even though all the lines are parallel there is a funky sort of attitude going on in that block.

In fact, the block on the left feels more tense to me ... like the hexagons don't quite fit together properly and were forced into position, whereas the block on the right looks and feels more relaxed, even though the lines of the plaid are going every which way.  (I actually worked a little on the green block, making the lines match up as best I could ... that's why it looks more orderly than the yellow one.)

As a quilter, do you notice that sort of thing?  If you do, does the wonky bother you or are you totally zen and let things go as they please?

My personal bent is towards order.  I can drive myself crazy trying to make sure the prints in my quilt are all going in the right direction.  It's sometimes like nails on a chalkboard to me if I see a print that's upside down.

That said, I've found myself more recently drawn to the playfulness of random.  This is hard for me to do.  But whenever I've studied antique quilts - or even just really interesting contemporary ones - and noticed how the makers didn't always care about "perfection", it makes me think that I should just relax and not be so controlling about things all the time.

Oh sweet irony ... this means I need to PRACTICE being DELIBERATELY random.

Monday
Oct072013

"Dear tooth-Fariy,"

I couldn't resist sharing this with you ...

It was almost bedtime (of course) when she asked me for a "scrap" of fabric.  Next thing I knew she was at my sewing machine whipping together this eensy-weensy-wee little purse as a gift for the Tooth Fairy ... because she was expecting a visit very soon.

I think it took her all of about 5 minutes.

Love.this.kid.

Thursday
Oct032013

cutting fabric hexagons tutorial

I've had a lot of questions lately about how I cut my fabric hexagons so I thought I'd write a little tutorial for you.  This is a super easy way to cut a lot of hexagons quickly ... (recommended for English paper-piecing only).

Step 1

Measure the height of a hexagon template - mine is 7/8".

Step 2

Add 1/2" to the measurement from Step 1 (for seam allowance) and cut a strip of fabric that width - mine is 1-3/8".

Step 3

Lay a template, centered and a little bit away from the end of the strip.

Step 4

Measure 1/4" away from the top left edge of the hexagon. 

Trim the corner.

Step 5

Measure 1/4" away from the bottom left edge of the hexagon and trim.

Step 6

Repeat for the top and bottom right edges of the hexagon. 

You are essentially cutting an "X".  This "X" conveniently forms the left edges of the next hexagon. 

Nice, eh?

Step 7

Take the cut fabric hexagon and lay it on the strip of fabric, matching up the point on the left side.  Use this first hexagon as your cutting template from now on.

Step 8

Cut the next "X".

Step 9

Repeat as necessary.

By the way, I usually stack as many as 6 fabric strips at a time ... I can cut a lot of hexagons quickly!

Also, don't worry about being super duper accurate ... these fabric hexagons will be basted onto perfectly shaped English Paper Piecing templates so you don't need to be as accurate as if you were machine piecing them.

I hope you find this tutorial useful.

Tuesday
Oct012013

still hexagoning

I have another batch of 26 hexagon diamonds done. 

I can't make any more until I join these blocks into rows because I'm out of templates.  Again.  (I think maybe I should just go get some more.)

And this stack includes some of my new Liberty Tana Lawns ... 

You guys, this next one is reeeeeally really dark. 

As in really. 

Dark.

I wouldn't normally go for this print.  It's not quite me.  But I forced myself to buy it because I wanted to have some "edgy" fabrics in the mix.  It's hard for me to do this, but I so often find that the most interesting quilts are the ones that have those oddball colours & prints thrown in.  So I'm stepping a little outside my comfort zone with this one. 

I did a preliminary layout with my new diamonds and this one DEFINITELY stands out during "the squint test".  But I'm only slightly uncomfortable with it ... not overwhelmingly.  So I'm gonna use it.

And if I don't like it when the quilt is done, I'll tell myself to grow up and get over it already.

'Cause it is a beautiful fabric.

No matter how I feel about it.

Monday
Sep302013

wedding bells

Not much sewing got done around here this weekend ... we had more important things to do.

(waiting for the bride ... this was my 10 year old's first wedding and she asked for the end seat so she could have a good view.)

 

(exchanging vows)

 

(congratulations on the cathedral steps)

 

I really didn't expect to cry.  But as soon as I saw my very dear friend come down the aisle it took all of a nanosecond for my eyes to completely flood over and I could hardly see through my camera lens. 

Shout out to whoever invented tissues.

The bride was beautiful, the groom was all smiles ... it was a lovely day.

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Thursday
Sep262013

influence

I had to laugh after I wrote this post the other day.  When I left my computer I went to pack up my "trunk show" for a guild presentation I had the following evening.  As I was sorting through all my S is for Stitch samples, I came across these little baby onsies that I'd embroidered with alphabet designs from the book. 

(I just changed the words from "ice cream" and "oval" ...)

I know everything I design today is influenced - to some degree - by something I've made in the past.

And I have no doubt that the Martha Stewart-inspired bib project became part of my creative nature 11 years ago.  But I was completely unaware of that influence when I was writing my book ... that bib had been packed away for several years.

Realizing that connection made me smile.

I'm quite certain the new mother that was me way back then hadn't the slightest clue that she'd author an embroidery book 10 years later!

Funny where life - and Martha Stewart - has taken me.

Wednesday
Sep252013

they all fall down

Just like they do, every year without fail.

Time to break out the chainsaw and safety goggles.

Tuesday
Sep242013

the reds have it

Congratulations Mollie J who said Pinks are always best!  You've won the lovely set of Fig Tree patterns.

And thanks to all of you who chimed in with your opinion about what colour I should make my Cherry Pie quilt.  Here's what y'all said:

  • Red - 50%
  • Both - 30%
  • Pink - 20% (really? so few?)

But you know, the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea of making red cherries.  You know how I have a habit of being somewhat literal. 

And red seems to feel particularly inviting this time of year as I find myself seeking warm in the early mornings and at the end of the day.  I even dug out my fuzzy socks last week.

Besides you Reds out there seem far more passionate about your opinion than the Pinks!  LOL!

Anyhow, that was fun.  Thanks for playing along.

Monday
Sep232013

finding

In case you haven't heard, we're building a house.  It is taking for-ev-er.  (Drywall this week?)

But I'm ok with that.  It's not stessing me out.  Yes, there are moments when I just want to get.out.of.here.already.  Like when the roof sprang a leak in May which both stained the wallpaper and shorted out the dimmer switch in my sewing room.  (Thank goodness there wasn't a fire!)  Or when the dishwasher died 2 weeks ago and there is no warranty left on it.

But for the most part, I'm very patient.  I'm trying to use this extra time to de-clutter and get organized for the big move.

Which brings me to today's topic ...

I recently came across this this sweet little thing - a plain white bib that I'd bought and then embroidered for my first daughter's first birthday.  I got the idea and the embroidery design in one of the Martha Stewart "Baby" issues.

I have a fabulous picture of my little girl laughing as she squishes pink buttercream-frosted chocolate cake thru her tiny little dimpled fingers.  Then I put this bib away until my second daughter's first birthday.  We didn't know it at the time, but she was Celiac and had already started to instinctively refuse wheat.  She wasn't interested in eating her birthday cake.  But no matter.  I remember the day well. 

So this small piece of soft white jersey knit with some pretty stitches holds only a few - but very precious - memories. 

I'm becoming more mindful about "collecting".  I don't want my new home to be cluttered with the past, but little treasures like these give me pause. 

Keep or toss? 

I ask myself that question a lot these days.

I've decided this little memento is a keep. 

Thursday
Sep192013

fresh figs giveaway

You all know Fig Tree Quilts, right?  Joanna has a way of putting a fresh, yet somehow timeless spin on traditional quilt designs.  Her latest batch of patterns is out. 

I've got a sudden craving for Cherry Pie.

In pink, of course.

Or maybe red.

I do have a nice little stack of reds in my stash.

Hmmm.  I dunno.

Decisions, decisions.

How about you help me decide? 

Ok, here's the deal.  If you leave me a comment telling me if I should make my Cherry Pie quilt with pink or red cherries, you will be entered to win ALL SEVEN of the patterns shown above.

Comments close on Monday 23rd and the winner will be announced Tuesday 24th.

Wednesday
Sep182013

liberty pretty

So.  I bought some new fabric.

Liberty Tana Lawns. 

I couldn't help myself.

A friend told me about a cute Etsy shop - Alice Caroline - because I happened to mention that I wanted a few more tiny, cute floral prints for my hexagon quilt.

See?  Not my fault.

Just like my scissors.

I cannot be held accountable for my actions when it comes to beautiful sewing things.

Does that make me irresponsible?

Oh who cares.  I am what I am.

And what I am right now is someone who wants to make something ...

... with 2" squares. :)

PS:  Sorry.  I just realized that I went waaaaay overboard with "scissors-as-photo-props" today ... too much of a good thing and all that jazz.)

Monday
Sep162013

snazzy

Here it is ... my 12 year old's first sewing machine project all finished. 

The girl is on Cloud 9. 

And I have a feeling she'll be finding more uses for her snazzy patchwork bag than just piano books.

By the way, I'm suddenly wondering if it's still ok to say "snazzy"? 

I looked it up and it means "stylishly and often flashily attractive" so it totally applies here.  But I can't remember the last time I read it or heard someone SAY it.

It's such a great word. 

Snazzy.

Friday
Sep132013

other summer sewing

I wasn't the only one busy sewing in my house this summer.  I managed to talk my 12 year old into making herself a bag for her music books.

I'd found these little 2.5" charm packs of California Girl in my stash and she loved them.

We had a great time coming up with a cute design together.  I thoroughly enjoyed her ideas and self expression.  And just like her mama, she is very clear about what she likes and doesn't like.

(So much fun watching your children evolve!)

Having lots of supplies on hand - like ricrac and embroidery floss - makes projects like these a lot of fun.  Rather than going to the store, we played around with things found in my cupboard and figured out ways of using them to make something she really liked.  There was a lot of, "What about this?", "Do you like these?", and "How about that?  Do you like that?" going on.  Craft play at it's best.

In my completely impartial and unbiased opinion, I think she's done an excellent job with her very first machine-piecing/top stitching job.  She did 100% of the machine work.  I only helped with the rotary cutting parts.

Laying out all those squares on point - and then sewing them together in diagonal rows - posed quite the challenge for her.  She's dyslexic and such a mental exercise as that proved ... interesting.  But the girl persevered and is quite proud of herself.

The bag is almost done.

She just has to make the handles, zip up the sides and add the lining.

Hopefully this weekend!

Thursday
Sep122013

giveaway follow up

Hey Y'all,

Sorry if you tried to enter this giveaway yesterday but couldn't.  Apparently a nasty little technical gremlin was on the loose wreaking havoc over there. 

Happily, everything is back to normal now ... so please try again.

xo k