Friday, September 30, 2011

sewing for a big boy

My son is 17, which is strange since he was just a little baby...yesterday.  Right?  No?  What happened?!

He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.  Always smiling, always happy, always by my side.

He made me happy, as he did everyone around him.

My grandmother will be 101 years old this winter, and in her honour I want to include just one more baby J photo.  This one is from our first mama-and-baby trip to New York to visit my grandma, when J was just 6 [oops] 9 months old.

He had just discovered how to get mobile -- not by crawling, but by rolling.  It was a very funny stage.

He's come a long way -- but I can still see the little guy in the young man: he is still very unconventional and he still does things his own way. He rolls where others crawl.  So to speak.

Anyway, he is almost grown up...and he wants a new quilt.  Isn't that nice?  My 17-year-old WANTS A QUILT!!  Yay!

Feeling under the weather one day recently, he huddled in bed with the two quilts from our living room sofa, "Leafy Greens" from May 2010:

and my orange string quilt, from spring 2011:

Of course, the boy does have a mom-made quilt already: a zig-zag quilt made when I was very, very new to this quilt-making enterprise, in March 2010, in what I then thought of as his colours (earthy, muted, dark).  Apparently the boy is hungry for some colour!

Inspired by the sofa quilts, it is green that he wants, so it's green he's going to get.  To my absolute delight, he sat down with me and the stash and chose fabrics he likes!  He even chose a Bella Solid (prairie green) from my colour card!  How fun!!

I suggested a reprise of one of my favourite scrappy blocks in Scrapbasket Sensations, seen here in Ms H's quilt earlier in the summer:

I'm now making up green scrappy blocks (with flashes of black and brown, as the boy desired).

If I wasn't in a constant state of sleep deprivation I could have avoided chopping the very first block too small.  Oops.

These are supposed to be 11.5" square, but I cut my first one to 10.5".  I'm just not working at full brain power these days.

The question now is whether to chop them all down and widen the sashing -- which could be very nice -- or to go a bit wonky, with the majority at 11.5" and perhaps just a select few at 10.5", maybe framed by an inch of brown or black or a darker green -- or maybe something lighter, like the white and green striped fabric used in many of the blocks?

However, I'm not convinced that my son would like wonky -- and I'm not sure I want to mess with the effect of these blocks against a single sashing/background colour. I know it's going to be hard for him to picture the finished effect I'm proposing --  so I haven't mentioned my little dilemma to him.

I'm just going to have to make an executive decision here.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Input from the executive advisory board is always welcome!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Farmer's Wife QAL week 18

I'm happy to say that I managed to make two more blocks for the FWQAL -- they're both easy, quick blocks (just mountains of 2" HSTs/half-square triangles), but I am still delighted to have been able to keep this project rolling forward.  These new blocks bring my total to 36, so I'm right on target.

First up: block 62, Old Windwill, using my beloved red dots (of unknown provenance), Lecien basic dots, the blue floral print from Peas & Carrots (or maybe Look & Learn?  either way, they're made by American Jane for Moda), and introducing to the mix a blue burlap print (left over from a recent make, "Blue Skies and Sunshine").

Next I made block 64, Peace & Plenty, using Nicey Jane stripes (Welcome Road; I have squeezed a lot of mileage out of that yard of fabric!) and a blue-and-green retro print that has been in my stash for well over a year and is now missing its selvedge, so I can't say for sure where it came from.  I'm not incredibly attuned to the branding of these fabrics -- I'm trying my best to give info for the sake of interested readers!!

Let's just say, here's "Peace & Plenty" using a couple of old favourites in blue and green.

 I'll be back soon with a sneak peek at a project for my sweet son...and maybe a few photos from the old albums too. For now, I wish you all peace and plenty!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hexagon update -- and the last days for the Paper Pieces coupon!

I have been making (very) slow but steady progress on my Loulouthi hexagons for Lynne and Gayle's Hexalong.

I have loved the process but am still on the fence about the product.  I often (nearly always) have doubts about a project about 2/3 of the way through, so there's nothing terribly unusual about this; I'm reserving judgment for now, and am just going to aim to square this thing up and get on with the quilting!  Then we'll see how I feel about it....

This project is paper pieced, so it's completely handsewn, and it gave me a chance to compare making my own paper templates, using plastic Quilt Patis, and also using pre-cut paper pieces.  My conclusion: each one has its place, but I really do love the variety and convenience of the pre-cut shapes.  I have a jumbo bag of hexagons, a pack of jumbo hexagons, some divided hexagons, diamonds, clamshells, all from for several future projects.  I love 'em!

If you're thinking about trying pre-cuts, this is the perfect time: the coupon code generously offered by when I was writing up my first (and only) tutorial this summer expires on September 30 -- but until then you can receive a 25% discount.  The code to use at checkout is QUILT25.

Have fun!  And if you try some of the precuts, I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Farmer's Wife QAL blocks, week 17

It has been a full month since I last made a block for the Farmer's Wife Quilt-along: I managed just one block for week 13, the foundation-pieced "Waste Not."  I am currently in the midst of one of the busiest periods of my life (which happens to be saying a lot!), but I did manage to step away from the computer long enough to make up a few very easy Farmer's Wife blocks!  Yippee!!

It's easy to forget that mixed in with the wonderfully intricate blocks there are quite a few others in Laurie Hind's lovely little book that are really very quick and straightforward.  At a time like this, when I am being pulled in 1000 different directions but long for a little creative time, those easy blocks are just the ticket.

So here they are, my 3 blocks for week 17 of the QAL -- which, hooray, hooray, bring my total to 34, right up-to-speed with the QAL standard pace of 2 blocks per week.

First up,  block 61, "Northern Lights" featuring the Kaffe Fassett print that I have been working into select blocks for this project, paired with the large dots from American Jane "Peas and Carrots."

Next was block 68, "Postage Stamp," which challenged me to piece randomly...but I still found myself wanting to establish a little bit of pattern.  Here I used some Lecien basic dots (blue on white), the larger Peas and Carrots dots, some Momo scissors, and introduced a bit of a Joel Dewberry "Deer Valley" print called Meadow Lace.

And finally, here is block 69, "Practical Orchard," using the Meadow Lace again and some of the dark orange spotty fabric that I really like in these blocks.  I don't know for certain where it came from, but I think it may have been part of the Windham "Paper Dolls" line.  Anyway, I bought 1/2 yard of it at some point, and love the richness of the colour, the deepest orange you can imagine.

It's a very damp morning, so the group shot had to happen indoors.

Some thoughts about where to go next:

*I think that the next blocks I make need to continue to play up the blues, greens, and oranges.
*I am running very low on that gorgeous Lecien basic, the lime green with little yellow dots that pops in four of the blocks above, but I'm going to use every last scrap I have!
*I think the big red dots need a little more play in this project too.
*The orange "Peas and Carrots" floral can be retired...I had no idea I had used it in so many blocks until I started arranging blocks for this group shot.  Oops. 
*More Kaffe Fassett!!

Wishing everyone a relaxing weekend! By November I plan to have some relaxing weekends too :) Bye for now....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

[gray geese] over the rainbow

Yay!  The baby quilt is done!

It's a big one, about 41" x 63" -- bigger than I planned, because I added the white sashing to my original design plan.  But I hope it proves to be useful, whether as a playmat or an eventual toddler bed quilt.

Details that may be of interest to someone, somewhere:

-all the fabrics are from my stash

-the gray is a solid from Connecting Threads; the white sashing is (I believe) a Bella solid

-the binding is the gray version of Alexander Henry "Heath"

-the backing fabric (light blue with little fall leaves) is a Connecting Threads print that was on clearance a little while back.  It washed up very soft.

I used several of my new Aurifil variegated 50 wt threads to FMQ some loose spirals on the rows of geese (plus one of my standby cotton threads from Connecting Threads: the violet used on the final row of geese, pictured above).  It was fun to sample these threads -- they are absolutely lovely to work with, no breakage, and the stitching pretty subtle.

Is there a step in the process that you hurry through?

Lately I have been finding myself rushing to the finish line, and not taking quite as much care with my quilting as I could.  So I am making a little pact with myself: in my next few projects I want to break out of my quilting comfort zone a bit, moving beyond stippling, spirals, and straight line quilting.  I think I have enough control over my FMQ to do more than this.  I just need to take some time with the quilting itself.

Anyway, given that this baby is due ANY SECOND NOW I am glad to have this present done and ready to go.  Thanks again to my online friends who were so encouraging when I was fretting over this project!  It makes such a difference to hear feedback and advice from such a friendly and talented lot.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Today I received a delicious little package from B.C. merchant Tristan Italian Threads: 12 spools of variegated 50 wt Aurifil thread!

Aren't they beautiful?! 

I have worked with a nice neutral light gray Aurifil thread for piecing, but I am really looking forward to quilting with these multi-coloured threads.  I gathered from a little web research that these 50 wts are likely to produce relatively understated quilting stitches, but the hints of colour should be lovely.  I can hardly wait!

In other festival-of-colour news, I have my flying goose baby quilt fully pieced and pin-basted!  Yay!

I have been thinking of this quilt as "[gray geese] over the rainbow"  but I think I'll drop the goose part when I make the label...there's not much appeal in the image of a goose for non-quilter Canadians.  (Geese are iconic in Canada, but they are also loud and pesky creatures...I may be wrong, but I doubt somehow that a new mum would want her baby's quilt to pay tribute to geese.)

Anyway, more to the point, I am thinking that this quilt is a perfect place to play with one of my new multi-coloured threads.

There are two in my new little collection that approximate a "rainbow" of colours -- one with a dominant blue hue and the other with an orange hue.

My backing fabric is light blue with tiny fall-coloured leaves, so either one could work, but I'm leaning towards the blue-ish one, on the left.

Or maybe I could FMQ in sections, changing up my threads as I progress through the rainbow!  That might be fun!

Then again, I may just go safe and free-motion quilt the whole thing in white.  Oooh, what to do?

And in a world that faces real problems, isn't it nice to dwell on a delightful little dilemma sometimes?  I'm enjoying it, anyway!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

baby quilt solutions :)

Hooray!  Things are looking up in Quilt Land today.

I am so grateful for all the comments and suggestions offered yesterday, when I was depressed about the rainbow geese baby quilt-in-progress.  Judith gave me an out (one I had been considering very seriously): put it aside, buy a baby gift, and return to this project when less stressed.  I really appreciated that...but I realized that I still had some fight in me.

Here's the play-by-play for anyone who happens to be interested :)

I appealed to my 14-year-old daughter Chloe, whose interest in my sewing waxes and wanes -- but luckily she was in a responsive mood -- and together we came up with the idea of injecting some lightness into the quilt top by adding strips of bright white. I just couldn't face replacing all of the gray, and Chloe insisted that the gray was fine ("It's fine, Mom."  You would need to know her to know how that sounds.  It's pretty persuasive). 

I decided to put off the unpicking and re-sewing of the blue-indigo-violet strips until I was certain the new arrangement would make me happy.  So last night I started assembling red-orange-yellow-green.  I liked it!

This morning I unpicked the old strips while little Frida watched Timmy Time.  Today I get to work from home, so once everyone was out the door, I gave myself permission to spend 90 minutes sewing. 

Michelle had suggested alternating the directions of the strips of geese to give the quilt top a little more whimsy...I love that idea, and had actually experimented with it when I was first assembling the blue-indigo-violet strips.  But it had looked a bit dizzying at that point.  NOW -- with the addition of some bright white 2.5" sashing between the lines of geese, I LOVE IT!!

Thanks again for the supportive and helpful input, everyone!  I look forward to posting  pics of a finished quilt-top and a finished baby quilt very soon.

[Oh yes, and on the Ramone front: this morning he accepted 10 minutes of full-on cheek scratching, head rubbing and shoulder petting.  He even rolled onto his back.  Now we just want to hear him purr!]

Monday, September 12, 2011

baby quilt dilemma! ...and introducing Ramone

Help! I am having a more-serious-than-usual case of mid-construction blues.

When I found out that the administrator at Frida's school was having a baby -- SOON! I mean REALLY SOON! -- I knew I wanted to make her a little baby quilt. Soon the entire staff of Miss F's school will be covered in quilts...I'm very predictable, I guess...but that's another story.

I have been wanting to make a quilt of large-ish flying geese, and I got it into my head that I would do a rainbow of geese.

I pulled my fabrics, ROYGBIV (the memory tool/mnemonic device for the colours of the rainbow, provided by my husband who remembers such things!) ...

...and my Lazy Girl ruler...

and I started churning out flying geese.

Here I have to note that the past week has been unusually stressful, so I may very well be imposing on my poor quilt-in-progress what my mother wisely calls "free-floating anxiety."  Poor quilt.  I have no "spare" time so I find myself rushing, which of course means everything goes more slowly (how many seams must I re-do?!).

And then, to top it off, I reached the sad point last night when I was ready to throw in the towel.  Halfway through, and all those flying geese look awfully pointy -- harsh for a baby quilt, no?  I took a quick pic on my phone to try to get some perspective.

And maybe the rainbow isn't working so well after all.

And it's not very whimsical for a wee little baby, is it?

Should I bail, and make her something else?

I need your help, stitchy friends!!


I feel more successful right now in the cat rescue domain.

Meet Ramone.

Ramone turned up a couple of months ago, and I thought he was an elderly female.  But no, he is a young(ish) male (the vet estimates that he is a year or two old), and he has adopted us.

He looks a little sad in this picture, but he looked sadder still when I took him to the vet to get "fixed."  He is now getting regular meals from us and is on antibiotics for his infection-related anemia -- so should be shinier and perkier in the weeks to come.

Ramone is also FIV-positive, as are many alley cats these days, poor things.  But he is non-aggressive towards Penelope, he has an endearingly creaky meow, he lets us pet him and tug on his scruff while he's eating, and we are all feeling good about helping him out.

The vet reported that he is very strong with very tough skin.  You would have to be, as a small-ish Tom cat living outside, through harsh Ontario winters.  We may make a housecat of him yet!

But I doubt that Penelope will ever relinquish her position as my assistant.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blue Skies and Sunshine

Hooray! I finished my Garden Fence quilt -- a wedding gift for a teacher at our littlest one's Montessori school -- in time for the first day of school (today). I quickly snapped up a few photos before drop-off this morning; they're not quite as clear as they could be...but time was of the essence! The block design is Cynthia's. Very clever, fun, and satisfying...I recommend it!
I hope the happy couple enjoy this quilt; their wedding colours were yellow and blue, and I had fun pulling fabrics in that palette from my stash. I emphasized the yellow-and-blue combo in the backing fabrics, which are a super silky yellow solid from Connecting Threads and an aqua "burlap" print bought from sweet Brenda of Pink Castle Fabrics. Sashing is Kona stone, and the binding is an Anna Maria Horner print from Garden Party (maintaining the garden theme!)
I'm calling this one "Blue Skies and Sunshine" -- and on this chilly, grey September morning we could use a little warmth and clarity.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August stitching in retrospect

I'm linking up today -- for the first time -- with a Fresh Sewing Day over at Lily's Quilts.  As a new month begins, Lynne and many linklings blog about projects and activity from the outgoing month.  Despite some moaning and groaning about all the work I'm doing, I actually did a fair amount of stitching this here it goes: my August in retrospect.

The month began with a Natural Dyeing workshop at The Workroom.  The quilting cotton, silk, linen and wool yarn I dyed early in the month will definitely be making some return appearances here...but for now they're stashed away.

There was a lot of hexie making and hexie contemplation going on this month.  At the beginning of the month I spent some time staring at the Loulouthi hexagons I had made for Lynne and Gayle's Hexalong.

By mid-month I had completely rethought my approach, and started making "constellations" of hexies.

And currently the hexie constellation quilt is still growing, albeit at a slow pace. As always, let's just pretend that the beauty of the hexies is enhanced by a backdrop of urban decay (aka my garden patio).

I managed to finish two bed-size quilt projects from earlier in the summer: "In Bloom" for my mum

and "Sweet Pea" for little Frida.

I stalled a bit on the Mystery Quilt (I will catch up, I will, I will!), but I managed to pull together some blocks for the Farmer's Wife Quilt-along.

I made a good start on a Garden Fence quilt that will be -- must be! -- completed this week.

Oh yes, and I made 20 cloth napkins.

Hmmm...that was a bit, wasn't it?  Just writing this up makes me want to take a nap, but it also makes me want to sew -- and the sewing always seems to win out against the sleeping!

It feels a little bittersweet to think that summer is (essentially) over, and I need to set some realistic goals for myself for the months to come.  I'd love to hear what others are hoping to achieve this month -- I know for some the beginning of a school year is a welcome relief, and for others of us it means that things heat up.  What will you be doing and making?

And if you're not yet ready to stop reminiscing about August, linger at Fresh Sewing Day for a while.

Fresh Sewing Day