Archive for the ‘quilting’ Category

Two Quilts

This is a “catch-up” post, one I meant to write months ago, but didn’t. It’s been a busy summer!

I made this throw-sized quilt for my husband’s cousin Jason, who married his long-time partner Jasmine in a beautiful, fun, and romantic wedding this spring:

It’s a simple charm square quilt of my own design, made from scraps and leftovers and a few fat quarters that I bought to get the different tones to balance the way I wanted them to. I decided on brown for a few reasons: Jason & Jasmine’s house is decorated mainly in light neutrals and dark woods so I thought it would match nicely; when I make a quilt as a wedding gift, I try to choose colours and styles that aren’t too “feminine”; and I had a lot of brown in the scrap bag! As it turns out (and I had no idea before-hand) brown is Jason’s favourite colour, and he got married in a gorgeous brown suit rather than the usual black! So the quilt was a big hit.

This quilt I bought at an auction at a neighbour’s house. It has a small amount of damage where some of the vintage fabrics have disintegrated, but it was going cheap, and I really liked the style and colours so I couldn’t resist. I paid $17.50 for it. Auctions are great for bargains sometimes! I don’t know who made it, but it was almost certainly made in this community, probably sometime in the 1940s.

I’ve decided to use it, rather than keep it carefully folded away somewhere, so I washed it on my machine’s “hand wash” cycle with gentle soap, and spread it out on the tall grass (on top of an old sheet to protect it from grass stains) to dry.

It has spent the summer looking absolutely lovely on our guest-room bed, but in a few days I’ll be putting it away for the winter. It also makes a great backdrop for cute kitten photos:

There’s another quilt in progress, which I hope to finish by the end of September. It’s going to be really, really lovely when it’s done, and I can’t wait to get it finished so that I can gift it to the sweet little baby girl who is waiting for it!

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After making a lap quilt for Baba (t!’s grandmother) for Christmas, I took a bit of a break from quilting. Over the couple of months I’ve been slowly getting back to it.

My first project was aborted after a couple of weeks. I joined an online group that is spending the next 18 months making individual reproductions of the Jane A. Stickle Quilt. Mine was going to be batiks and unbleached muslin:

I got about 10 blocks made (of 225), and then quit the project because the group’s schedule was just too demanding – I couldn’t keep up with doing 4 of these a week, I wasn’t getting any other quilting done at all. Maybe I’ll try again when I have a few more years worth of quilting experience under my belt.

Instead, I joined a one-block-per-month swap, which is a much easier pace to keep up with. I’m also participating in an international quilting round-robin, where an individual quilt gets sent ’round the world, with each participant adding an outer border. There are six in my group, and this is the latest quilt I added to: The four-pane centre was made by Elle, who lives in Spain, and the first border (the multi-coloured Flying Geese) was added by Mary in Washington State. I added the current outer border and then packed it and sent it off to Colletta in Pennsylvania. Elle will eventually get her quilt back with 5 new borders.

I’m expecting to receive the next quilt  (Leslie in Ireland’s) in the mail soon.

I’m very much enjoying my quilt guild’s monthly meetings, activities, and classes. I’ve also been invited to the local Thursday evening sewing group, which meets in my neighbour’s farmhouse kitchens every week for sewing, chat, coffee, and cookies. We work on our own sewing & quilting projects, and we also make quilts for Victoria’s Quilts, a charity that distributes hand-made quilts to cancer patients across Canada.

I also have another large quilting project on the go, but as it’s destined to be a gift, it’s a secret for now.

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Christmas crafting

This year’s hand-made Christmas gifts included:

A scarf for my mum, knit with some lovely yarn that Arin spun for me

A second scarf for my mother-in-law, knit from soft, shiny bamboo yarn.

And a lap quilt for Baba, t!’s Ukranian grandmother. She liked it a lot.

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Quilt blocks, that is.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of quilting. Or more specifically, I’ve been making a lot of quilt blocks. Like many people enamoured with a new hobby, I got very enthusiastic and threw myself into a number of projects. In this case, many of the projects were quilt block swaps. A block swap is when a group of people each make a number (usually 12) of identical blocks, send them in to a central co-ordinating person, and then get 11 different blocks made by other swappers and one of their own blocks back.

In my enthusiasm, I not only signed up for a “Blue & Yellow Block” swap on my favourite quilting message board, but decided to make 2 different sets of 12 blocks, so that I would get 24 blocks back, enough (with sashing and borders) for a full-sized quilt (or duvet cover). Part of what was driving my enthusiasm for this particular swap was that I already had a few blue & yellow fabrics, almost enough for two sets of blocks!

The first set went together well. I used a block pattern that we had recently done as a Block of the Month at my quilt guild:


The blue-with-white-spirals-and-yellow-stars fabric was leftover from another project (though I fell so completely in love with it that I subsequently ordered two more yards of it for a future project), and the solid blue and solid yellow were some of the fabric used as table decoration at our wedding.


First set done – all 12 block together look pretty cool!

Then I started on the second set of blocks and had a set-back: I had a much lighter (baby-boy) blue fabric in my stash that I wanted to use for the second set of blocks, so I bought some yellow-and-white checked gingham fabric to go with it. Only I didn’t check the bolt-end carefully enough and I accidentally ended up with fabric that must have been at least 70% polyester – ICK! Usually I’m pretty good at telling fiber content by feel, but this stuff fooled me. The problem was that it didn’t sew well at all – the seams went all puckery on me, the blocks didn’t come out to the right size, it was a disaster. This was back when t! was still working in town, and so I didn’t have the car very often. So going shopping for more fabric wasn’t really an option.

The lovely people on the quilting message board came to my rescue and sent me replacement fabric so that I could still do a second set of blocks!


It took me a while to find a block pattern that I could adapt so that I could use all 5 fabrics in each block (most quilt blocks call for 2 or 3 colours, or 8 or more) – which I wanted to do in appreciation of everyone’s generosity. I came up with this one:


It’s based on a block called “Antique Tile” which is actually meant to be done in 3 colours/fabrics rather than five, but I really like the way it turned out. It was a fairly fast block to do, as well, and I think the blocks look really good together without any sashing, so I’m going to keep it in mind in case I ever want to do a quick quilt:


I also made a gift block for the lady running the swap, using some of the yellow fabric that’s in the above blocks, and some pretty blue batik fabric that I bought myself as a treat with the money I received for my essay in Out of the Broom Closet. It’s the same pattern as the “Antique Tile” blocks, but with only two colours this time:


So that’s 25 blocks made.

Then there’s another online group I belong to, that does a group quilt 4 times per year. The way this one works is that someone sends out 25 squares of (the same) fabric to 25 participants. Everyone makes a block using the fabric they were sent, and any other fabric they want to use. The blocks are all sent back to the co-ordinator, and a name is pulled out of a hat to choose the winner of the 25 blocks. The winner is then responsible for buying and sending out the fabric for the next round. I’ve participated in this group three times so far, but haven’t won the blocks yet!


This is the block I made. The red fabric was sent to us, and astute readers will see that the blue and yellow (it looks more loke off-white in this photo) is the same fabric from my previous set of blocks. I didn’t realise until I was photoshopping this picture down to size that I set four-patch in the bottom right corner wrong. Oh well, it’s in the mail already, there’s nothing I can do about it now!

So that’s 26 blocks made.

Then, there was a more traditional-style swap, again on the second online group. I probably shouldn’t have signed up for this one, and I mainly did because I already had all the fabric I would need for the blocks in my stash: green and yellow solids, again from our wedding decorations, cream-on-white leftover from the backing of Frank & Jess’ wedding quilt (which they have since told me is going to become a baby quilt!) and a purple floral fat quarter, which I bought when my local quilt shop was having a 10-fat-quarters-for-$5 sale.

For this swap, we’re all making “Victorian Tulip” blocks. They’re meant to look like this:


This one was made by one of the ladies organising the swap.

I was doing really well. I had all my fabric cut, all my half-square-triangles made, the first two rows of squares sewn together, and then, even though I was very carefully following the pattern and instructions…


I put the last “leaf” triangle in the wrong way around. On all 12 blocks. So now I have to re-do the bottom row 12 times. I’m not looking forward to it, and so when this happened last week, I decided to take a break from quilting for a bit, and paint the bedroom instead. Which is coming along beautifully.

Once I’ve fixed these tulip blocks and sent them off (the deadline for which is October 1st), I have to make 17 more of these for yet another swap:


This one swap I definitely should not have signed up for, but I got carried away in the organizer’s enthusiasm for the project and the swap. It’s a Dear Jane swap, in Christmas colours. I picked one of the easiest Jane blocks available, thank gods, so once I get myself organised to sit down and do it, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

I’ve also done 1/3 of the blocks for a quilt I’m making as a gift, but you don’t get to see pictures of that until after it’s been gifted.

And, because all this isn’t enough quilting, I’m also working on an English Paper-Piecing project, which is eventually going to be a case for my hoop drum:


I love this project because it’s done entirely by hand, so I can take it with me to appointments, parties, etc. I can also do the basting (the red thread, which comes out once everything is assembled) in front of the TV.

Right – that’s all the quilting I am / have been working on for the past month or so. I promise to make quilting updates more frequently from now on, so that they’re shorter!

Oh, and today is this blog’s birthday. In the past year I have apparently made 86 posts and had almost 3000 unique visits to the blog. Happy Birthday, blog!

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Hi, I’m back. Back from our trip to the UK and back to (hopefully) regular posting. Catch-up from a week away and starting a new part-time job as a copy-editor put posting on the back burner for a bit, but now I have a bunch of catch-up to do, so here goes…

The trip to the UK was to attend my sister Cynthia’s wedding. We went for a week and had a lovely time. The wedding was gorgeous, everything went perfectly. As my sister said the next morning “I wouldn’t change a single thing – except maybe the time I nearly tripped over my dress.” And that was a very minor trip, too.

For a wedding gift I made them a throw-sized quilt:


The pattern is called “Disappearing 9-Patch” because you make a bunch of regular 9-Patch blocks and then you slice & dice them, re-arrange them, and sew them back together again. I did my first pieced back for this quilt (and learned how hard it is to get a pieced back to line up straight).


I even had time to put a label on this one:


I chose the fabrics (from the “Bistro” line by Moda) based on what I know of my sister’s tastes, and hopping I guessed right on the colour scheme – I had no idea if it would match any of their decor, so I was very, very pleased when I walked into their house and saw the sofa and curtains in their living room, which the quilt matches quite well. They will be able to curl up under it to watch TV, which is exactly what I made it for.


We gave it to them on the evening before their wedding day and they really liked it.

Now I’m working on a whole bunch of other quilting projects, including blocks for a couple of on-line swap groups. I’m also starting to learn some new techniques including English paper-piecing and foundation paper-piecing. More about those when I have something to show!

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Frank & Jessica’s quilt

The big quilting project I mentioned last week but wouldn’t share any details of was a little throw-sized quilt I was making for my friends Frank and Jessica as a wedding present. Since it was gifted to them on Saturday (at their lovely, fun, joyous wedding), now I can post a picture of it:


It’s done entirely by machine, for time reasons. I’d love to learn to quilt by hand one day (I’m particularly intrigued by a method called “English paper piecing”) but for now I don’t have the time or the  patience that goes into an entirely hand-pieced and quilted quilt – and I now have even  greater admiration for people who do! For those that are interested, the fabric is a bunch of fat quarters (14 or 15 in the end, I think) from Amy Butler’s “Daisy Chain” line, and the pattern is a variation on one called “Slanted Diamonds” from Marcia Hohn’s website The Quilter’s Cache.

I learned a lot working on this quilt (half-square triangles are harder than they look; the special quilting foot I bought for my sewing machine makes the seams too big; I’m good at the final step of hand-sewing the binding on; among many other things) and I’m excited about my next “big” project, which is a similarly-sized (but completely different fabrics & pattern) quilt for my sister, who is getting married on July 11th.

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Finally, a quilting post!

I was hoping to post this on Wednesday, but I got flattened by a nasty case of food poisoning that I am still recovering from. Recovering from food poisoning, however, finally gave me some time to catch up on my quilting, because I couldn’t be out digging the garden.


These blocks are for two block-exchanges that I take part in. My local quilt guild does a “block of the month,” and so the blocks on the left of the photo are “Card Trick” blocks, which was this month’s pattern. I’ll take the one with the magenta fabric in it to my guild meeting on Monday evening, and it will go into the stack with everyone else’s, then all the names go into a draw and one guild member goes home with a stack of blocks. 

The blocks on the right are a pattern called “Churn Dash.” The other block exchange I do is run in one of the forums on the Homesteading Today message board. In that exchange, whoever wins the draw chooses a fabric for the next exchange, and sends it out to all the participants. We get to do whatever type of block we want with the fabric we receive and any other fabric. Last time I participated, I chose a very pretty, but much too complicated pattern for my skill level. So this time I a) chose a simpler block, and b) did a practice run. The bottom right block (with the floral fabric) is the one I’m sending back in to the block exchange, and the top right was my practice run.

Then it occurred to me that if I did a practice run (which is a good plan generally) for the blocks I’m doing for the exchanges, with some co-ordinated fabrics that I already have in my stash, that I will end up with enough blocks for a nice sampler quilt, even if I never win the draws for the exchanges that I’m participating in. 

(Oh, and if you recognise the pretty bright blue batik fabric, Ailbhe, it was my bathroom curtains for a while in Reading.)


The next on-going project I’m working on, and was great for doing on the couch in front of the TV while I was recuperating yesterday, was a “just for fun” mini-quilt. My quilt guild has challenged all the members to make a mini-quilt to enter in the Maxville Fair homecraft division. I don’t know if I’ll actually enter this in the fair (assuming I finish it in time – the fair is in about a month!) but it’s a good way to teach myself to hand-quilt. I’m doing it freehand, with no pattern at all, just having fun with it (so yes,he spiral is ‘meant’ to be lopsided). So far I’ve learned that my stitches are way too small, and though my stitch evenness is improving, I need to figure out how to make them a little larger. I had the same problem with my knitting being way too tight when I learned to knit as a child 🙂


And there is one more quilting project on the go, but no photos because the result (again, assuming I get it done in time) will be a gift. I discovered to my dismay this morning that the walking foot I bought for my sewing machine doesn’t actually fit. Either that or I’m attaching it wrong, but I don’t think so. So now I have to try to quilt this thing without a walking foot. The test piece I did (with a spare block and the same batting and backing as will be in the quilt) went well, so I’m hoping for the best.

Oh, and t! and I went to see the Quilt of Belonging on exhibit in Cornwall last weekend, and it was (literally) awesome!

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This will, hopefully, someday, be a bountifully fertile 40′ x 40′ (1/8 of an acre, approximately) vegetable patch: 


However, there has been a significant setback to the plan. On Saturday we stopped by the Fearsranch to borrow a rototiller. It’s a good, old, solidly built two-tine Troy-Bilt tiller. As predicted by my friend Alan at the market, it is unfortunately not up to the task of chewing through 25+ years of field grass root mass.

This is the result of almost 3 hours of tilling:


So I have to figure out what to try next. Options include stripping off the sod by hand, begging a local farmer to till for me with real equipment, renting a much larger, more powerful rototiller, or gardening in raised beds rather than digging. The eventual solution may well be a combination of these.

In other gardening news, yesterday I spent a Home Depot gift card we got for a housewarming gift on a wheelbarrow. It’s a lovely wheelbarrow – thanks Ceri & Scott!

In non-gardening news, I went to my first local quilting guild meeting last night. It seems like a really good group. It’s a relatively young guild – The Highland Quilt Guild (Maxville) was only formed a couple of years ago, but has approximately 25 members. I liked that the meeting was structured and well run, but informal enough that members were speaking up and making jokes throughout. I met Francis, who lives on my road (which now means I’ve met everyone who lives on the road except for one house, which I think is a “country cottage” rather than a full-time residence), and Brenda who lives one road over, and whose husband hays the field next to ours.

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Awe and wonder

There’s no way I can do this justice in a blog post, but I’m going to try anyway: yesterday evening I attended a presentation about an amazing art project.

Esther Bryan is a local (Williamstown, near Lancaster) artist, painter, musician, piano teacher. 10 years ago she had an incredible creative vision of a work of textile art that would celebrate Canada’s Native and International cultural heritage, and so Invitation: The Quilt of Belonging was born. This photo, from its launch at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, gives you some idea of the huge size and scope of the work:

This quilt is 120 feet long by 10.5 feet high, and made up of 263 11-inch blocks: one for each native tribe/group in Canada, and one for each country of the world – because as of the 2000 Canadian census, there is someone from every nation on the globe who calls Canada home. And Esther and her volunteers spent six years tracking down someone from each and every tribe or native group, and each and every country, and had them create (and/or design, and/or contribute fabric or other textiles or materials for) a quilt block to represent their culture. She worked with Muslim women and native carvers and eastern European great-grandmothers and a young man from a tiny atoll in the south pacific. Some of the blocks are ‘traditional,’ like this delicately embroidered block representing Estonia. And some are beautiful works of modern art using traditional materials, or techniques. For example this “contemporary abstract design” made of white, tufted deer hair by an Abenaki native woman.

All the individual blocks, each with an amazing story (and Esther only had time to tell us three or four of those amazing stories last night – she could have talked all night and we would have sat transfixed, listening), was then pieced and quilted and the whole thing assembled by local volunteers:

Last night she told us the stories of the project’s conception, the challenges and triumphs of it’s creation, and the incredible reception it has had around the country, as it has travelled from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Iqualuit, Nunavut Territory, and showed us the pictures of its journey and its creators.

I’ll get to see it “in person” in May when it will be on display in Cornwall. After that it will be going to the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver.

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Needle and thread

On Tuesday I came home from my regular visit to my father in the nursing home with a half-dozen of his shirts. He hardly has any mobility left, so the nurses/aides have to dress and undress him. I’ve been asked to modify his shirts to make this easier on everyone involved. So I spent a good part of this afternoon slitting the shirts (long-sleeved cotton sweatshirts and polo-style shirts) up the back, stitching a couple of rows of zigzag stitch to reinforce the newly cut edge, and fixing velcro fasteners to the new opening. I also zigzag across the top of the slit, to stop it ripping further. The result looks like this:


The back opening makes it much easier to feed my father’s long arms into the shirt first, before they pull it over his head. I hope my alterations survive the wash, for a while at least.

I also had some adventures with my window quilts today, and learned a couple of new ways not to accomplish what I was trying to do. Further updates soon.

In other news, t! took this gorgeous picture of the sunrise yesterday morning:


And in still other news, we’re meeting another rescue dog this weekend, on Saturday after market. He’s currently being fostered by a couple in Ottawa who have very kindly offered to bring out to our place, so that we can see how he reacts to our cats, and how they react to him. Fingers crossed.

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