28 May, 2015

A lot of Snippets on Dates. A lot.

All the little bits. All together and everywhere at the same time.

Ages ago I started sewing snippets together. Just two little bits of fabric sewn together randomly. An evening of pressing and I could sew pairs together. And sew more together. Then I put it all aside so a rainy day. Rather, for the motivation to do more.

Motivation hit me last week. It is all due to Amanda Jean and her decision to plan a Scrap Vortex quilt along. I also needed to come down from Market and sew for the sake of sewing. So one day she and I spent some time sewing and chatting. There was a lot of chain piecing and a lot of pressing involved to get what feels like millions of pieces sewn together.

At the beginning the bits come together quite slowly. It feels like you are sewing forever and getting nowhere. Then suddenly you have these big chunks of fabric that look like something. Crazy, wild somethings filled with tiny pieces of fabric! You also have crazy wild somethings all over your sewing table, design wall, and floor. You are covered in threads, more so than at any other time, but deliriously happy.

Then you are not. Because you are covered in threads and there are bits of fabric everywhere. Everywhere. And the fun chaos that you gave order too only seems like chaos. You can square it up, sew them together and have something that looks like a quilt top. Order out of chaos. But there are still load of snippets (are they multiplying at night?).

After a week of sewing I've got a large baby size quilt top together (44'' x 50''), plus loads of slab sections that could be added, and still half a basket of snippets. Not to mention that every single other time I sew more snippets are added. I love the process, I love where I've gotten to, but I need this to go away for a little while. Sometimes the chaos is just a bit too much.

I adore improv, it is my default quilt language. I will never get tired of scraps. Surprisingly though, this past week has been a roller coaster of emotions with respect to this sewing. I got to the point where the mess drove me cranky, where I talked back to the errant threads, and nearly threw out all the scraps. It was just so messy. I'm okay with not knowing where it will go, but the storm before the calm really got to me.

All that being said, I know that this will get bigger, be more. All in good time.

26 May, 2015

You Inspire Me To Quilt - Introduction (Part 2)

Welcome to the second look at You Inspire Me To Quilt. Today I want to let you in on the rest of the quilts and contributors. If you missed the first instalment, you can find it here.

Have you ever had someone in your life - not a quilter - who suggests some crazy idea for a quilt to you? An idea that you initially dismiss as ridiculous, difficult, or even impossible to translate into a quilt? Have you struggled to work out a design for an idea you wanted to try, for an inspiration that stopped you in your tracks? Well, you aren't alone. You Inspire Me To Quilt is all about that process - from inspiration to finished quilt, from Spark to Binding.

Each contributor to the book shared their process of design and making. That's on top of the pattern itself. We've also included insight from each quilter on a wide range of topics from teaching quilting, finding time for creativity, inspiration, and family. It was such a privilege for me to work with these amazing women, I am thrilled.

Dino Patch is a fun quilt, perfect for collaboration with the favourite littles in your life. You need to see what Carolyn Friedlander did when working with her nephew. Her process is fun for all parties involved and makes for this great quilt. By breaking out the process you can take it and completely make it your own.

Kisses was a labour of love for me. In response to a need for a large enough quilt for a king size bed - with us in it - I made this. Sometimes the inspiration is more functional than funny, but it is still there.

This quilt is a simple, stunning beauty. Straightforward in its construction, yet full of so much love and detail. Jen Carlton-Bailly did an incredible job capturing the phases of the moon and a mother's love for her daughter in one quilt. (I couldn't help but use two amazing mothers in the photo, from Shop Blest, and my dearest friend. Those are their boys/grandsons in the Dino Patch photo too.)

You never know when the SPARK is going to hit you. In Heather Jones' case it was when she and her husband, Jeffrey Cortland Jones, were leaving a parking lot.  In shooting the book I hemmed and hawed about the best way to shoot this quilt. In the end, a stark moment captured interestingly won out over literal interpretations with other signs.

It is totally appropriate that Blair Stocker made a quilt with her husband's request to tackle ski parkas. They are quilted already, after all! Personally, I think this is a fantastic idea for those of us with a surfeit of kids' parkas left with stains and ripped elbows from an active winter. Not to mention cold rinks to sit in and ski lunches to be had.

This was truly an incredible experience, from start to finish, from spark to binding, from first notes to book in hand.

Pick up You Inspire Me to Quilt on Amazon or request it at your local quilt store.

20 May, 2015

You Inspire Me To Quilt - Introductions (Part 1)

You Inspire Me to Quilt is out in the world! Such an exciting moment and it never gets old. I can finally tell you all about the book, my amazing contributors, and where to get it.

Have you ever had someone in your life - not a quilter - who suggests some crazy idea for a quilt to you? An idea that you initially dismiss as ridiculous, difficult, or even impossible to translate into a quilt? Have you struggled to work out a design for an idea you wanted to try, for an inspiration that stopped you in your tracks? Well, you aren't alone. You Inspire Me To Quilt is all about that process - from inspiration to finished quilt, from Spark to Binding.

Each contributor to the book shared their process of design and making. That's on top of the pattern itself. We've also included insight from each quilter on a wide range of topics from teaching quilting, finding time for creativity, inspiration, and family. It was such a privilege for me to work with these amazing women, I am thrilled.

Amanda Jean Nyberg's quilt is all about honouring a special date. The inspiration was a clock radio and it took family movie night for her to get the idea from her husband into a way that got her excited. And lucky for readers, you don't have to share her husband's birthdate, she provided the pattern for all the numbers.

This is the quilt that my husband requested - for years. In fact, it was incessant asking for this quilt that inspired the book as a whole.

Never once in a million years could I imagine a quilt inspired by bacon, but here it is. It is so true to the inspiration, yet creates a really cool, modern design. Not to mention that Cynthia Frenette walks you through making a not quite improvised background for this quilt. I've already seen what her pattern tester did by changing up the colours and it makes it completely different.

Like bacon, I never would have gone to role-playing games as a source of inspiration. It isn't my world, but the notion of a story telling map based on hexagons makes perfect sense to a quilter. Rossie Hutchinson designed this quilt for her husband, a man with a passion for role-playing games. I adore the concept of using the quilt to tell a story - perfect for a family history, a wedding present, or bedtime creation. With so much sweet, novelty and graphic fabric available now this would be so much fun to do.

A good Canadian loves hockey. Okay, so that is a stereotype which I know isn't true. Personally, I love hockey. That's what got me so excited for Andrea Harris' quilt. Her husband requested a quilt to transport him back to Saturday night watching the Habs on Hockey Night in Canada. She filled the request with a quilt that mimics the colour and graphics of the hockey ice, but pixelated. In the centre she included a large maple leaf, but you could easily add your own design. I have a few nephews who would love this quilt so much, but I don't think Andrea's husband will give it up! Oh, and you should see the quilting!

Stay tuned for peaks from the other five quilts in the book.

Pick up You Inspire Me to Quilt on Amazon or request it at your local quilt shop.

15 May, 2015

Quilts in the Wild - Of My Home

While I was cleaning up and sorting quilts to put them on my awesome new racks, I decided to take inventory of the quilts at home. These are the quilts being used, abused, loved, cuddled, and slept with in our home. I did not style any of those photos. Just making that clear.

This guy lives for the kids. Needless to say we can't keep him off either of the girls' beds. All day, all night, when he isn't following them around. We rotate the quilts on the bed a lot.

My other daughter's bed. With two quilts, one ostensibly to keep the dog from dirtying the other one, but I usually find it on the floor.

My son's bed. The neatest of the bunch, but when you only weigh 35 pounds and have a full size bed only a small portion gets messy. This particular quilt is from A Month of Sundays.

Two quilts for two people. I've been quite chilly at night lately, so I have my voile quilt layered on top of my QuiltCon quilt.

And, just for the record, the beds usually get made in this house. One of the morning chores for everyone. But the day I took these pictures it was The Evil Genius' birthday and all rules went out the window. She may have had a bowl of whipped cream for breakfast too.

Books and quilts, a perfect combination. My little guy was snuggling with his gift from Amanda Jean and reading this particular morning, when not running around like a maniac screaming.

On the basement couch. Full on TV watching and family snuggles happen here. A baby quilt gifted when the Monster was born coordinates perfectly with one of the quilts from You Inspire Me To Quilt. Photograph by Christy Swanberg.

And upstairs in the living room. The only somewhat neat spot, but I have a habit of straightening it up after I do the dishes every night. Good old Missing U hanging out there, from Sunday Morning Quilts. Shh, but it is covering up a rip in the upholstery.

Between the quilts on the racks, this collection, and various quilts hanging in stores as class samples and promotions, as well as those out for publication, I have 51 quilts in my possession. Woah.

13 May, 2015

Quilt Storage Solution

Forgive me for being cocky, but I have too many quilts. My husband has been saying that for years, but I'm finally cluing in. There are only so many beds in the house, so many forts to be built, so many little legs to cover. I do give away quite a few quilts too, but the supply at home continues to grow. There is just no stopping the compulsion to create.

Over the winter the spot to store the quilts became the table in the family room. It is supposed to be a table for playing games, doing puzzles, and gathering around as an alternative to the TV. We've used it as a fort or secret TV watching space as well. In truth, it's main function was to hold the precarious stack of quilts.

Nothing was functional - including the quilts themselves.

Then I discovered these racks. Long story short, I found myself with unexpected free time and a case of the grumps. So I went to Home Sense, which is a discount home wares store along the lines of TJ Maxx or Marshalls for my US readers. I went in hoping to find a little table for my son's room, but found these racks instead. I picked up the two they had to test out at home.

(See, I thought I had a genius idea for quilt racks that my husband could make, but I also wanted the quilts off the table before 2017. His business builds cabinets so he has all the tools, but not the time. We are the cobbler's kids with no shoes.)

The racks are PERFECT. Each one easily holds 10-15 quilts. I was so pleased with them that I drove across the city (something I hate doing) to another HomeSense, fingers crossed, to get another one. I'm a firm believer that instead of getting more and more storage one should have less stuff, so three will be my maximum.

As for the brand, to direct you to get your own, if so inclined, I can be of no help. They simply have 'Organise' on the label. I've done a quick search on line and can find nothing. Maybe you will have better luck. For reference, they seem to be a painted or powder coated lightweight steel.

There are currently 32 quilts on these racks.

I should address the sheer volume of quilts. As soon as your write books, have trunk shows, and teach, the quilts pile up. And you can't give them away because you need them. Not always, but enough to need them readily accessible. There will come a time when I don't need to pull out every single quilt from Sunday Morning Quilts, but for now I still need all that scrappy goodness around.

Not to mention that I'm still making, still trying new things. And we won't mention what would happen if I actually finished the quilts on my Quilts Under Construction list!

07 May, 2015

The Linden - With a V-Neck and in Double Gauze

To be clear, I've now declared that I will happily sew clothes and it is all the Linden's fault.

Here are two more iterations of this Grainline Studio pattern. I've also made one for a friend, ordered fabric to teach 6 members of my family how to make one (so I don't have to do it for them), and have one more version I want to try on deck.  But this pattern also has me feeling confident enough to make more, sew more clothes. Without the success of the first one and the realization that this is a welcome break from life and work as a quilter I wouldn't be so far gone

There is now a v-neck version. In my regular clothing I love a v-neck. Always have, always will. So of course, I had to try one. No mind that I've never sewn a v-neck and could not find a version of the Linden online in a v-neck. I also made a rookie mistake that could have been fatal - playing with an expensive fabric. Thank goodness it worked out. 

To get through the process I relied on this tutorial from Seamwork.

The neckline isn't perfect. I could have cut the neckband a few inches smaller, it gapes on my shoulders. And my middle seam doesn't lay perfectly flat. But I don't care because I made this and most people can't tell. And those that know, think it is cool. And I have a loose, light sweatshirt/t-shirt that I love.

Another change on this version was to add length. I wanted it to be like a big slouchy t-shirt. So I added 4'' to the length. And I split the cuff. The first crack at the split cuff was good, but I didn't do a top stitch and so pulled the seams when I wore it and stretched it out. I fixed the ripped seams, but unless I gathered it, I couldn't fix the gap. I'm okay with that. More room over my hips.

The fabric is an US organic jersey, designed by Josi Severson. I splurged on it, for sure. But it is worth it for so many reasons. Down the line I might make a more fitted shirt from another fabric from her. Fabric available on Honey Be Good.

The other version I made was one from Nani Iro double gauze. It fact, it was this fabric that got me on to the pattern. I'd seen it online, but when I held it in my hands in the merchant mall at QuiltCon I knew I needed to have it. On a whim, and a distant thought I might make a shirt from it, I picked up 3 yards. Over drinks one night I was telling a friend about it and she told me about someone she saw that day wearing a Linden made from double gauze. As my friend was wearing a Linden at that moment the stars collided and lit the way forward.

This version is the exact same as my first. The only change is that I made it maybe 2'' longer. The first fits well, but I wanted more length. I also wanted, even though I was using the double gauze, to have this still be a sweatshirt. So I hit the local chain fabric store and picked up some pale pink jersey to use for my cuffs and neckband. That was a pain to work with, I picked a super thin one. It all came together for this breezy version.

This is a very good addiction.

05 May, 2015

Some Crazy Vintage Quilt Top

Have you ever purchased a vintage quilt or quilt top? Generally I can admire them but walk by. I might be sorely tempted, but the reality of the number of quilts in my house keeps me from getting them. Then this one came along.

It is just a quilt top. Machine but foundation pieced. A mess of fabrics from different eras and many different substrates. It sat with the other blankets and quilts at one of the local antique malls. I saw it once, then twice. Quite easily I walked away.

Then, after months of not going in the antique mall I took the girls there on an outing our craft supplies. And the top was still there. For $40 I decided it finally needed to come home with me. Frankly, I may have overpaid. The edges are all uneven  - the blocks are various sizes - and there are quite a few loose threads and repairs needed.

I am sure that someone, somewhere put some good love and energy into this. Maybe they are clothing scraps? Family memories tied up in this quilt? Or maybe someone inherited a bunch of fabric and threw it together. There is some thought to design in the placement of the blocks. They are laid out in what I've seen called a Fields and Furrows setting.

All that being said, I think I might use this quilt top to experiment with indigo overdying.

I know. Feel free to comment.

Every since I saw these quilts I've wanted to experiment with this technique. But, I must admit, I'm afraid to do it with one of my own quilts. I've also wanted to play with indigo, period, so that I would try both fabric dying and quilt overdying. With so many different fabrics in this quilt I predict they will take the dye differently. And I wonder if the value work will still be obvious?

The days are definitely getting warmer and I can look forward to a messy few days of experimenting in the backyard.