29 January, 2010

The Whys

Since the creative production here isn't all that high, I've been thinking a lot about creative production. For me, that means writing and quilting. Over the course of a few conversations with a good friend we've asked each other about style, why we quilt, and what we think of when we talk about quilting.

Today I am going to address the last question.  It's kind of a word association game. 
When you think of quilting, what words come to mind?

For me, quilting means:

Those were my first instinct words, what are yours?

26 January, 2010

Workshop in Progress - Jan 27

It's time for Workshop in Progress. I've got a few questions myself about a project, but I want to highlight a few of the other projects out there where the creators are asking for your input. Check out the links and see what you can lend to the creative process. Remember, keep your comments constructive and polite.

Tackling a Dear Jane quilt is a brave and slightly crazy venture. What KT Made Next is getting set to start one of these traditional quilts, with a modern twist.  She is looking for some colour and layout input before she starts. She is also the second person I've seen who uses Excel to work on layouts.  I love this idea!

Making your own baby's quilt is one of the most difficult projects I can think of. Cristin at Sew This is my Life is expecting her first baby and has made a great start on her own baby quilt. She is looking for some quilting advice and any name suggestions (for the quilt), can you help her out?

Beth at Love Laugh Quilt is working on a fantastic, modern basket quilt. She has a couple of different options. I love the idea of combining all the stripes and baskets together, personally, but what do you think?

Over at Blueberry Gabs Jody is looking for some input on the jump to Etsy. She has some gorgeous handknit hats that certainly tempt me.

Jenny from Puddle Jumping Designs and On the Creative Path has quite the challenge facing her with the redecoration of her kids' room. So many crafty and creative possibilities.  What can you recommend to her? Visit her at Puddle Jumping today to help her out.

This is an older post, but another good one for the Workshop.  Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio is always working on an armful of projects.  On this one she isn't totally happy with the layout. Any suggestions for her?

Okay, my turn. I'm still doing nothing but handwork these days. My lovely nanny helped me get this project started yesterday while the girls were napping. I've fused on the shapes and done some outline stitching in black thread, to mimic a line drawing effect, a la Syko

Those orange and yellow circles are balloons.  Well, they will look like balloons once I sew/embroider strings from the little creature's hand to the balloons.  That's where I'm stuck. I'm not entirely sure what to do, as I am not an embroidery person. I don't think I want to use floss though because I don't want the strings to pop out more than the balloons or creature. Or is that just silly? So, stitch and colour recommendations? 

I will be handquilting in the background and turning this whole thing into a pillow. Piping or no piping, that will be a decision for another day.

Thanks for participating in the Workshop today!

25 January, 2010

A Little Handwork

Ugh, I have spent far too much time sitting on my ass for the last 10 days. Obviously it isn't my choice. But I have to make the most of it, right? After a near choking episode with Smilosaurus that involved EMS, only a few days after I blew out my knees so many of our friends and family asked us how Hubby and I handle all the setbacks (bad luck) life hands us. Well, if we got down after every single bad thing we honestly would never get out of bed. And trust me, we both have those kids of days.

After a couple of days wallowing in my pain my fingers started to itch and my brain started to hurt for a lack of creativity. Making up stories to tell the girls only gets me so far. So I picked up some fabric and started to sew.

Hmm, it's hard to just start sewing by hand than it is by rotary cutter and machine. That whole improv thing isn't as easy when you are working with a tiny hand needle, scissors, and your butt in a chair. I've decided that I am not cut out for hand sewing. Embroidery, maybe. Applique, when appropriate. Hand quilting, definitely. But piecing by hand, hopefully never again.

This is just a little quilt. My mom, in town to lend a hand, watched this come together and asked if it would be a block.  That might be a better use for it, but I did finish it as a mini quilt. I started with embroidery, trimmed the white, added the strip of black and white, and finished the front with the last strip of white.  To be honest. I'd planned to make it bigger, but I grew rather bored of the hand piecing. So I basted it, did a little crooked hand quilting (please don't look too close), and added a bit more embroidery.

It isn't terribly pretty, nor is the quality of work that great, but it will have an honoured spot in time behind the gong that sits above our bed. Yes, we have a gong in our bedroom. Our life is often a gong show, so why not? And this quilt is just another reminder of that.

22 January, 2010

Quilt Canada Update

We are just 4 months away from Quilt Canada! That does seem like a long time yet, but for us on the Local Organizing Committee it seems like it is just around the corner. Being laid up and all I thought I would remind my readers about this fantastic event.  Just a little stumping for us hard working gals.

Did you know that Mark Lipinski will be speaking TWICE at our event.  This gregarious fellow is guaranteed to bring out some laughs and a little blushing to the audience.  But he will also bring some quilts and fantastic insights to the audience.

I might be a little biased, but I am really looking forward to the Professional Development conference. Okay, so that is the portion I am organizing. It will be a good chance for us to pick the brains of a variety of quilting professionals on finding balance, getting into the business, and keeping creativity alive.  We have some fantastic speakers lined up in local shop owners, company reps, long-armers, business coachesartists, and more artists.

Of course, at the center of Quilt Canada 2010 is the National Juried Show and the workshops. Please visit the main site to see the list of workshops.  The topics range from composition, machine quilting, art quilts, sashiko, embellishments, landscapes, collages, and so many more. There really is something for every kind of quilter. Visit the Quilt Canada 2010 website for the class list, as well a full list of events and accommodation information. 

Oh, and one of the exciting bits of news is that you can now buy day passes if you can only swing one class or day off of work. Add that to an admission to the National Juried Show and Merchant Mall and you have a fantastic day out!

To stay on top of all our Quilt Canada 2010 news and developments you can become a Fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

20 January, 2010

Relaunching the Workshop in Progress

The new year is a perfect time to tackle projects that got pushed aside in the hectic holiday season. For me, that means bringing back the Workshop in Progress.

Workshop in Progress is about encouraging those of us with an on-line presence to open up and share the details, challenges, and a ha moments of our creative process.  This can include everything from the struggle to pick just the right binding, to sharing tips on space set-up. The whole point is that we are being open about the process and not holding on to our work so tight until that last stitch goes in the binding. Use the resources and opinions of those around who share your creative passion. Many of the participants have said how useful the process has been for them, both in receiving comments and providing them.

Every Wednesday will now be Workshop Wednesday.  Not only will I share some more of my projects (once I can sew again) but I will also do a weekly round-up of posts out there.  If you are posting something particularly to get opinion, please send me an email in case I miss the post. I will do my best to catch the posts, but I'm only a working mom with two blogs and may miss some.

As for the above picture, well, it's hard to post without a picture.  This was a fun moment with Smilosaurus, all captured with dots. And thank-you for all your kind words with my injury. I'm still killing time on the couch and I have indeed started a hand project.

18 January, 2010


Doesn't that look fantastic? It was the lovely view from our room on the weekend. Hubby and I had a romantic weekend planned, sans kids. A day of skiing, some spa time, a book, a few extravagant meals, and sleeping in. I mentioned that the kids weren't with us, right?

We arrived at Lake Louise, rented our skis, bought our lift tickets, and took a warm-up run. On our second run I had a freakish, lame but spectacular wipeout. It's hard to fully describe, but suffice it to say that it involved my ski edge getting caught on something invisible, the splits, a face plant, and some somersaults. Then it involved a trip to the ER, X-Rays, a knee brace or two, crutches, and lots of ice.

Needless to say, with a handful of torn ligaments, one of which will likely require surgery, there won't be much quilting going on in the coming weeks. There isn't even that much walking going on.

15 January, 2010

Colour Everywhere

It's the depths of winter here.  Okay, it should be, but we are having a warm break and thaw.  I refuse to get too comfortable, because I know winter is going to return with a harsh slap in the face any day now. With the colour blocks I'm working on I find myself returning to and finding new, colour-focused posts and pictures. I thought I would share another round of inspirational links with you.

For one of the most comprehensive free posts explaining the basics of colour and how it can be used to best effect for us quilters I love this colour tutorial from Elizabeth at Oh Fransson

What colour are you? I loved this recent post from Victoria where she asked her readers what colour they think they are. I actually had to stop and think about it. My first thoughts go to red because that is, without a doubt, my favourite colour. But if you look at my stash I have more greens and blues that any other fabric. When it comes down to it though orange is the colour I first go to and the one I surround myself with. I am an orange.

If you dye your own fabric you probably have a good understanding of colour and the colour wheel. Even if you don't dye then it still helps to have a detailed understanding of colour theory. In this post you can get into some of the nitty gritty details of different colour theories. It's perfect for colour geeks like me.

Color Mastery author Maria Peagler has a great slidecast tutorial on creating a colour wheel from your own stash.  She is worth listening to as she has some great ideas on personalizing it for your own stash and taste. And since finding this post I feel the need to burn the credit card on her book and this one too. Did I mention that I was a colour geek?

Now, what about some real-life inspiration? I've come across many version of colour wheel quilts, coin quilts in rainbow shades, and so many perfect examples of different fabric combinations. You can always do your own browsing through Flickr. Here are some of my favourites.

Spot On by Red Pepper Quilts
Palette is not a quilt, per se, but a photo collage by jakerome
Color Swirls by jgmehlin

Hubby and I are off for a weekend of ski and spa.  I'm sure I'll come back with tonnes of white and grey inspiration after all this colour talk.

13 January, 2010

Quilt Along Week 7 - All Done

I'm done! For a while I was calling this quilt Pinstripes, but after finishing it and seeing that it doesn't match my original concept I am simply calling it Gratitude II. When I say it doesn't match my original concept, I mean that it is busier than expected and has less of the subtlety that my Pinstripe suit inspiration.  I still like it and I know it will be quite cosy in our eventual finished basement.

The back is a simple mix of three of my favourite yellows. Arcadia, a Denyse Schmidt Katie Jump Rope, and this fantastic yellow and grey leaf pattern whose name escapes me. I'm going to get a label on there eventually, using the scraps from the front strips to frame it.  I promise I'll share it when I do complete it.

The binding was an Amy Butler Midwest Modern.  I used a few of her prints on the front, so I knew that the binding would be perfect.  It was nice to use such a soft print to finish it off. I didn't want to use a blue print, as would be expected, because I thought they were standing out quite a bit already.
Finally, the quilting. Particularly because the top ended up rather busy, whatever I did for quilting was just going to get lost.  So I went with the loopy quilting found here instead of stippling.  And honestly, why wouldn't you?  Loopy is so much easier than stippling. It's fast and perfectly contrasts the angles of the design.

Thank-you so much for your support in this Quilt Along. I'll admit, I'd hoped more of you would participate after such a good response to Gratitude.  Then again, there was the little break life brought our family. And when I did re-start this?  Just before Christmas?  Not my smartest move. But I am so pleased with the results I've seen from those of you that have participated.

Over on Flickr, baileygirl_5 posted her fabric choices and the beginning of her strip sets. I love where she is going with this, using darks as her background and lights as her accents.  Nice twist!

Elle in Da Coop is an old quilting friend and she was inspired to tackle another project on her always growing list.  Look what picking similar colours to mine can do when you make the background pieces just a little more subdued. Browse around her December posts to see what she also did on the back and with all the leftover pieces. Fantastic!

And while there are a few more that have picked fabric or cut fabric, here is another set of blocks that have been started.  Diane at Life Scraps used a few of the same fabrics which I used, but with a totally different effect.

If you come back to this at some point in the future, be sure to let me know, I would love to see what you create. Thanks for Quilting Along with me!

11 January, 2010

Colour Blocks

A while back I shared with you an improv colour block I made as a sample for my Improv Class. That pile of scraps has developed into a full-blown obsession.  So far I've made 16 blocks (at 16 inches square).  A good dent has been made on the scraps, but I still want to make more. I'm aiming for 25 in total.

Here is the first round of blocks.  I took these photos on our plain white new curtains, hence the stained glass effect.

My goal is to get the blocks together and the quilt finished in time to submit to the Quilt Canada 2010 Invitational.  I see lots of late nights sewing in my immediate future.

08 January, 2010

Friday Favourites - Quilts of 2009

In the midst of year end posts and resolutions that so many of us make, I wanted to share some of my favourites from the past year.  These aren't my quilts.  They are quilts I've found on-line that either challenge me, inspire me, or simply make me smile.

I am amazed by Victoria's creativity and unique approach to design.  She makes me want to pick up a needle and hand quilt something, anything, everything.

This is a perfect example of taking inspiration and making it your own.  r0ssie did ask me if she could take my design from Your Parents Are Cool and run with it.  I certainly appreciate that she asked.  And I love what she did with it.

Square Dance by Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts
I'll admit that I am not generally a fan of charm quilts.  Simplicity is lovely, but it can get boring or predictable.  With this quilt Amanda Jean varied the size of the charms to create such movement.  This quilt is simple, but so dynamic. (Amanda Jean isn't blogging anymore, so make sure to keep up with her work on Flickr.)

Amy does fantastic, bold yet simple quilts.  We all know about my circle love, that's why this quilt calls to me.  I've also been growing on the notion of scrappy quilts lately (in case you couldn't tell).

Orangeblue (UFO) by leslieschmidt4
I know this one kind of looks like my Gratitude design. Believe me when I say it was unintentional.  I already had my quilt designed when I came across this quilt.  Isn't is fantastic? I am also in love with this one by the same artist.

Wanda has a fantastic eye for colour in her quilts.  She works from patterns at times and you would be hard pressed to put her in any sort of a box when it comes to style.  I love that about her.  And her use of fabric is amazing - notions of light, space, and movement come across regardless of the quilt she makes.  These Cobblestones quilts are a perfect example of her work.

Construction Quilt by Zonnah's Addictions
This quilt has a such a sense of humour and some fantastic design. The quilting, with it's variation in spacing is perfect complement to the arrows.  

Victoria manages to churn out quilts so quickly and with such a refreshing sense of improv and brightness.  I'm hard pressed to pick some of my favourites of hers, but this one comes close. Probably because I also live vicariously through her life in New York City and this one screams skyscraper to me!

It's no secret that I love colour.  How fantastic is this? It isn't a quilt, but it is stunning.  It is also making me think a little bit more about embroidery. With a colour project of my own underway this wheel serves as a bit of inspiration.

I hope that little list gave you some more inspiration, and maybe introduced you to a few new spots on the interwebs. I'll be back next week with a project update.  I've been sewing up a storm and I can't wait to share these blocks with you.

06 January, 2010

Quilt Along Week 6 - Finishing Up

The finishing stitches are going into my second version of this wonky rail fence. I've been sitting by the still up Christmas tree (Happy Ukrainian Christmas everyone!) and stitching for a bit each evening. I love handstitching the bindings, but it seems to take me a long time. I see it as a good meditation at the end of the process.

Where are you at this point with the Quilt Along? When we last spoke we focused on assembling our blocks together into a completed top. All that's left are the finishing details, right? Yes, because making a back, basting, quilting, squaring up, and binding are just minor details! Well, they don't make for particularly exciting Quilt Along material.

Many of us default to a large print with similar colours to our front. I've been known to use the fabric that maybe inspired the quilt top's fabric choices but didn't make the final cut. Use what works for you. If you want more ideas, check out this great Flickr group on Quilt Backs.

I pin baste my quilts. If it is a small quilt I can manage on my kitchen floor. For larger quilts I use the boardroom tables at work. Never have I used a spray, they kind of scare me (more chemicals) but I've heard lots of people have success with them. To baste I simply tape my back taut on the tables, smooth out my batting on top, then lay my top over the batting. I pin every 3-4 inches. To close the pins I use my favourite tool: The Kwik Klip.

So much can be said about quilting this design. I think you can emphasize the notion of line with grid quilting, lines in any direction, or in the ditch work. With both my quilts I've chosen to contrast the top's design with swirly or loopy quilting. It is a personal preference. Don't get too hung up on picking the perfect design, go with what you are comfortable with. This is a busy quilt and detailed quilting will likely get lost.

Squaring Up
Many, many of us skip this step - including me some times. But it really does help with your overall finish and is quite useful when you haven't cut everything on grain as is the case with this quilt. See my tutorial for how I do this. I do it after quilting but before attaching the binding. And cutting all the excess off the quilt is the step where I can see my quilt as a quilt, I love this step.

99% of the time I use a double fold binding. 100% of the time I attach each side individually and still mitre the corners. And it works everytime. Here is a tutorial on creating your bindings and one on attaching and finishing them.

So this is where I am at right now. Next week I will share with you the completed second quilt.

At this time I also want to announce a prize for those who participated with me. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, or email me directly, and let me know where you are at in your quilt. Even if you've just picked out your fabrics but haven't make a single cut, I want to hear about it. If you have a blog or Flickr account, show me what you've done - I have to have some proof of progress. Besides, I would love to be able to share your work with others.

The prize will be 3 1/2 metre pieces of fabric - for stash or to start you on your own wonky rail fence - and some coordinating Presencia thread (my fave). I have some specific fabric in mind, but I am willing to cater to the winner's preferences (within reason). All you have to do is comment or send me an email by Tuesday January 12 at midnight MST.

03 January, 2010

Footballs of Destiny

The oval quilt is finally finished and delivered.  Little James, the recipient, is only 2 months old now. And it wasn't for lack of excitement for the project, I loved making this quilt.  I was just slow.  The little guy with the biggest, juiciest cheeks ever now has it so I can share it here.

I made this quilt using the 6 minute circle technique courtesy of Dale Fleming. Sure, I've got my circle technique down and I'm pleased with it, but when I decided that I wanted to try ovals with this quilt I also decided that I didn't want them to be appliqued. Then I came across this quilt and knew I'd found the solution to my dilemma. I made a test block for an oval with great success.  In truth, the hardest part of this quilt was figured out how to make the two ovals.

The internet is a wonderful source of information.  One evening I searched and searched on how to draw an oval.  Hubby and I conferred and his woodworking knowledge paid off.  Then I remembered that I could simply draw a shape in Word. Two evenings of research and discussion, and five minutes on the laptop.

Each block really does take less than 10 minutes, so I was easily able to bang out a few blocks an evening.

The quilting on this is quite simple.  At first I had some grand plans, but they never seemed right with. Hubby pointed out (he really did contribute a lot of this quilt) that the ovals already popped and it probably wasn't necessary to quilt them so the stood out more. Again, the internet saved me.  Thanks to Wanda and Exuberant Color I saw this technique and found my solution.  I didn't make my lines as wavy as hers, but I love the outcome. And it was fast!

Usually I put a hanging sleeve on the back of my baby quilts.  Not everyone wants the quilt to be used on a daily basis, but they still want to see it. My girlfriend's husband did this with the last quilt I gave them. I assumed that would happen again, but my girlfriend is hoping that her little man adopts the quilt as his lovey.  I wish her luck, even my girls have chosen crocheted blankets over the quilts Mama made.

Don't you love that Mingle fabric on the back?

Another Hubby contribution to this quilt is the name.  Yes, it is called Footballs of Destiny. So, so cheesy, but we love it. The label is printed on Printed Treasures sheets and I tried to double layer the oval.  Not as good as the ovals on the front, but it still works.

The binding is a lovely Lecien.

I am so happy to share this quit with James and his family. They are dear friends and I'm looking forward to seeing the little guy grow.