28 September, 2012

Friday Favourites: Pigtails and a Sunny Colour Combo

My Evil Genius is obsessed with her hair. And I must say, it thrills me when she asks for pigtails. She has a slight curl to her hair so they look exactly like their namesake when she wears them. It is impossible not to smile when you see them.

I am also obsessed with this turquoise - green - yellow - and orange colour combo. I've always love the orange/turquoise contrast. My house is dominated by it. Lately, however, I've been adding in the green and yellow. A definite favourite right now.

26 September, 2012

Wine Gums in Progress

When we were writing the book I was in awe of Amanda Jean's quilts. She specializes in making use of the teeny tiny scraps. It's a great use of fabric, but all those pieces do mean that even a small quilt takes some effort. Don't be fooled by the size. You get great impact and an amazing use of fabric. And truly, it is hard to appreciate the scale of some of these quilts from the book.

It wasn't until we were giving our schoolhouse at Market that I could appreciate this. And now that I am out and about giving trunk shows I realize that I need to share these quilts to show more quilters the awesome opportunity presented by these designs. The first of Amanda Jean's little pieces quilts I'm tackling is Gumdrops.

I actually started this quilt in March, when I got my new scissors. And when cutting up little pieces of fabric was about all my big ol' pregnant body could handle. The little pieces then got put aside in favour of the baby and other work. But after my last trunk show I decided they needed return to daylight and be put to use.

Of course, I had to do things differently than Amanda's pattern. I have such a hard time following patterns. This time, however, it was unintentional.

In the pattern Amanda suggests fusing the scraps to a lightweight fusible BEFORE cutting the shapes. I neglected to read these instructions before I started cutting out my gumdrop shapes. That meant I would have to add fusible in tiny pieces, after the fact. That bit of work did not appeal to me. But, I do think you need some stabilization of the pieces to the background prior to assembly.

This piece has you sew down your applique and quilt as one step, so the pieces need to be stabilized prior to basting.

Instead of fusible I rummaged through the girls' craft supplies for a glue stick. Yup, a plain old glue stick. A little bit of glue on the back of each piece tacks it to the background. Then you can sew your strips together, baste, and quilt. As long as you don't coat the back there is no residue left after quilting and washing. You also don't get the stiffness associated with even a lightweight fusible.

As a bonus, this becomes a craft project with a bored preschooler missing her big sister at school all day. An excellent alternative to the endless tea parties.

24 September, 2012


I love to talk. Ask anyone who knows me, it's true. When I can't stand to hear one more word from my girls because all they do is talk talk talk talk talk talk I step back, remember my parents, and sigh knowingly. I'm lucky I'm still loved.

And I love to talk about quilts. Especially quilts. That's why I get such a thrill each time I head out the door with my suitcase of quilts. It always means that they get to see the light of day again (oh, the joys of living in the chaos of a reno) and it means I get to talk quilts.

At the front of the room a stack of quilts waits for willing volunteers to strain their arms holding up the big ones while I bounce around chit chatting with my hosts. With a gentle tsk I shoo them away from helping me set up because I like everyone to get the reaction when they see the quilts. I would also be tempted to start telling their stories right then and there. Those stories need to wait until the room is still and I take my place upfront. That means the business of the guilds must be attended to and everyone has their friends beside them. After what is always a lovely introduction by my host I start talking. And if it wasn't for questions or the need to vacate the hall I probably wouldn't stop.

Every quilt does indeed have a story. Sometimes it is a short one, with a focus on the process or the inspiration. Sometimes there is so much to be said that the volunteers tire from holding up the quilt while I yammer on and on. But the stories need to be shared. It isn't just about a pretty thing or a warm bed covering. Likewise the book has a story and I love to tell that one too. That's why you will find me in community halls, stores, and even on the street talking away.

I am always so happy when I get the call or the email to have me talk. Even more exciting is that people want to listen!

Currently, I'm booking trunk shows and classes well into the New Year. If you or your guild are interested, check out my classes page or send me an email. I'd love to hear from you!

19 September, 2012

Cosmos Blocks


Isn't this fabric loverly? It is the new Cosmos Collection by Laura Gunn, produced by Michael Miller. Paired with her awesome Painter's Canvas.

I must admit that while I've always loved Laura's fabric and have purchased bits and pieces before, I've never used it. It is just so different from the rest of my stash that I felt unsure what to do with it. There is a clear painterly quality to the prints that set them apart. Not surprising considering Laura is an artist! So this time, when Laura sent me a charm pack of her latest collection, I decided to stop fighting my stash and use Laura's fabrics with Laura's fabric. And what a smart decision it was.

Such a simple quilt. The charms, in both the Painter's Canvas and Cosmos Collection, paired with big chunks of Painters' Canvas in vibrant colours. I think it is a rather modern bit of piecing that really does highlight Laura's fabrics. Admittedly, it felt kind of lazy to do something so simple. But I don't care. I love the big blocks of colour, the texture of all the prints, and the final result.

Once quilted, this one will also be destined for Camp Kindle through the 100 Quilts for Kids blog drive.

Laura graciously shared the charms with me. I purchased the additional Painter's Canvas from Hawthorne Threads.

17 September, 2012

100 Quilts for Kids - The Donation

The wonderful Katie at Swim, Bike, Quilt is hosting the 100 Quilts for Kids blog hop and quilt drive, along with the DC Modern Quilt Guild. Have you heard about it?

Swim, Bike, Quilt

A series of posts from a tonne of bloggers highlighting great, and easy quilts. Perfect for easy construction or group work. In other words, perfect for quick, gorgeous quilts. Perfect for donation. Rather than a central quilt drive and delivery, however, she encourages us to make and donate a quilt locally. (After having done the work for Quilts Recover, I completely get this!)

Today, rather than highlight a specific quilt, I want to highlight the giving portion of this project.

Recently, my husband and his crew had the muddy pleasure of working on the new buildings at Camp Kindle. Camp Kindle is the summer camp built and run by the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta. Nestled in the foothills, surrounded by aspen and spruce forests, the camp is a refuge for kids and families living with and surviving cancer.

We look at our own kids and know that we are tremendously lucky. We also know that should we face the challenges of cancer so directly that a place like Camp Kindle would be a lifesaver for all of us. As one family shared with us, camp is where you can go and not have cancer.

The camp ran all summer, even as the finishing touches remain. As Hubby and his crew grumbled about the mud and hour long drive to get to work each day the first campers started to arrive. And when they saw the first kids, some with IVs and chemo treatments, they immediately shut up. That's when Hubby came home and informed me that I needed to donate some quilts to the camp. He well knows the comfort of a quilt, of something handmade wrapped around you.

Today we were able to visit the camp. We gathered the kids, the rest of Hubby's employees and their families, and journeyed to the gorgeous fall vistas provided at Camp Kindle. The camp, Foundation, and many volunteers were hosting the trades that worked on the camp for a BBQ. It was merely wonderful to finally see the place and more importantly, speak to families and counsellors who truly make the camp what it is. Hubby and his colleagues may have used their tools to put the buildings up, but it is the campers and counsellors who make the camp what it is.

And I took a quilt with me. The camp staff decided that it would be best used in the Rekindle Clinic - the on-site medical facility. Luckily for the camp they do have 4 quilts for the 4 hospital beds - donated by the wives of a local fiddle group! But when they have to change over beds the quilts aren't available.  And having extras to cuddle are always welcome.

It is such a small thing, really, to make a donate a quilt. Early on in my quilt career I gave everything away - baby quilts, wedding gifts... Then I started hoarding the quilts because I couldn't pick a favourite. But now is the time to pass on some creations. And to keep doing so. Such a small thing.

The quilt I donated is the bold and rather easy To a T quilt
Made from a pattern I drafted for the Modern Blocks book.

14 September, 2012

Friday Favourites: Continuous Bias Binding

Up until a few months ago I was deathly afraid of continuous bias binding. As afraid of it as I am of falling and failure.  Then I had a project that was just begging to be bound with a bias stripe. Begging for it. So I gritted my teeth, consulted the interwebs, and our book (Amanda wrote great instructions for continuous bindings with mitered corners). Then I dove right in.

And it was easy!

Yes, it requires patience. Yes, it requires more fabric if you don't feel like doing any math. But it is so worth it. For the effect it gives, for the feel of the binding. (And, for many, for the wear of the binding.)

Now I feel like I have another tool in my arsenal to make each quilt uniquely mine. Not to mention to fuel for another favourite - custom bias tape - but that is for another time.

12 September, 2012

Not Quilting

And this is why.

Baby, breast pumps, baking to spend time with The Evil Genius while The Monster spends all her day in school (oh, how she misses her big sister), and tea to keep me awake. What you don't see in the Dining Room Empire is the boxes of this year's canning escapades, a suitcase full of quilts for my trunk shows, the jolly jumper and dog bed, and the messy kitchen just beyond.

My only 'quilting' these days is buying fabric and sketching. But it is isn't the same. I'm desperate to sew, to make a mess with my fabric, to create.

"How do you get it done?" They ask.
"Get what done?" I answer.

10 September, 2012

Summer Party Salad (Recipe: Potato, Tomato, and Green Bean Salad)

It was time for a party.

I've avoided having people at the house for well over a year now. We are simply living in too much chaos. No matter how much I clean there is simply too much crap around, there is nowhere for anyone to be without staring at the detritus of our daily existence. And I find it infuriating. Oh, then there is that whole three kids and incontinent dog thing.

That being said, it was time we celebrated. Business is going well for Hubby. It was our 10th anniversary. The book is doing well. We're surrounded by a wonderful community of friends. Name the reason, we had an excuse for a party. So we invited our community of friends and all their kids over for a party. They deserved a solid thank-you for all the support, chearleading, and playdates they've given me over the last year. And I know that they don't care about the pile of laundry in the hallway or the ironing board in the dining room.

I made salads, a lot of salads. One of the salads I made was this potato, tomato, and green bean salad. It is a summer staple for our family. Really very simple, a good use of the CSA staple potatoes and the green beans from one of said friend's aunt's garden.

It was a glorious night that called for little cooking and loads of kidlets screaming while we parents drank beer. So I chopped, roasted some chickens, someone brought a poached salmon, and we ate. The kids ran around like maniacs and most likely caused my neighbour to drop the price on her house a little more. All the more room for kids and late nights with friends.

Potato, Tomato, and Green Bean Salad

2 shallots or 1/6 of a red onion
2 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grainy or Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 pint cherry tomatoes
12 small red skinned potatoes, cut in half or quarters
small bundle green beans

Finely chop the shallots or onions. Top with vinegar and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Halve the cherry tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Trim the string end off the green beans.

Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water.  Bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook the potatoes for XXXX minutes.  Check your potatoes for doneness. They should be firm, with a fork wanting to not quite go through it easily. At this time, add the green beans. Cook for another 2 minutes. Drain and add to the tomatoes.

While the potatoes are cooking, finish the vinaigrette by adding the oil, mustard, and honey to the vinegar and shallots/onions.

As soon as you drain the potatoes and green beans toss with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with chopped fresh parsley if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

06 September, 2012

Pressing Issues

I need a new iron.

This one is, literally, out of steam. And I like my steam.

Any irons you LOVE out there? I've frankly always gone to Canadian Tire and just grabbed something that looked decent enough. I pay attention to where the cord emerges and whether it will stand easily. It must also have an automatic shut off. But the last two irons haven't lasted long so it might be time to look a little more closely.

Any suggestions?

04 September, 2012

Pretty Thing


Pretty Thing
42'' by 54''

For my latest niece, the pretty thing in question. Modelling her quilt with her 12 days younger cousin, my babe. A summer night just chillin' on the lawn at Baba's house.

Inspired entirely by Malka Dubrawsky's Whirligig quilt from her book Fresh Quilting, only made on a much smaller scale.

Random fabrics including solids (yes, solids for me!), some Lotta Jansdotter, some Amy Butler dots, and a bunch of other loverly greens, greys, yellows, and light turquoise. I mixed up the scale of prints, as well as the intensity of the colours. It was great shopping in the stash for this one.

Quilted with Aurifil 50wt thread with some straight lines 1 1/2'' apart.