Work-in-Progress Girl


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Sunshine (on a cloudy day)

So last year I decided not to participate in so many swaps, and so I didn’t, but then I missed doing it. It’s fun doing swaps… you get to try things you might never otherwise try and you have the benefit of quick finishes so you’re not adding another WIP to the pile (which, of course, is my usual MO). So when I ran across a quilted postcard swap on Instagram, I had to join!

This swap was run by Patty of Elm Street Quilts and had some fun and easy requirements. All we did was give a prompt word and then we made our cards based on the prompt that our recipient requested… however we wanted to interpret that prompt.

Postcard I made and sent away

With this project I decided to try out trapunto and doubled up my batting under the round bits. It doesn’t show so well in any of the photos I took, but there is a huge amount of puff. I had planned originally to use a different shade of yellow in each of six squares, but got distracted by the idea of improv piecing and so landed on this look instead. To be honest, I’m not sure if I like it as much as I’d hoped I would, but I don’t dislike it either. It just sort of makes me go, hmm.

Postcard I made and sent away

So, can you guess what prompt I received?

Well… it was ‘Summer’ but I immediately thought of sun and sunshine..

Postcard I made and sent away

It’s just been nothing but snow, snow, and more snow this year. I’m desperate for some summer sun.

Funny thing… my prompt word was ‘Glow’ and I was sent some summer sun by Mommaneen on Instagram:

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Lovely!

Also, there will be a postcard parade at Patty’s blog, Elm Street Quilts, on April 7, so do go check it out! I really should have held this post until then!

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Oh Canada mini quilt

Look how cute!

Oh, Canada!

Every year I try to make my mom a mini quilt for a different holiday or season, for a quilt rack I bought her a few years ago, with my sister usually pitching in some cross-stitch (as her craft of choice). I’m slowing picking away at major holidays and some more generic ones to hang in between times. There are a few I’ve never posted here (including one for winter and an Easter one), but if you’re interested you can go see: a purple orchid, Valentines, summer/growth, Halloween/fall, Christmas.

Oh, Canada!

This, of course, is for Canada day, featuring a beaver (our national animal) and the flag and maple leaves and little bit of anthem lyrics.

I drew out the lettering for the ‘Oh Canada’ by hand and stitched most of it myself, with a little help from my sister, using back stitch and chain stitch for filler. I should have drawn on a line so that my writing would have been straight, but I didn’t and so it takes a really sharp upward slant.. it’s a bit goofy, but there was no fixing it.

The beaver is a fantastic pattern by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts. I think it’s so cute! Although my mom did say, ‘Now what creature is that?’ and…….. I don’t know how she missed the beaver thing. I told her to show it to her friends without telling them it’s a beaver and to see if they can figure out. It’s not that hard to tell it’s a beaver, is it? (Is it?!)

Oh, Canada!

The rest of the pattern is my own. The leaves I just worked out based on the size of the partial leaf in the flag/beaver and I added the checkerboard at the top to get the project up to an appropriate size.

The quilting is pretty simple – a fairly tight meander in the background, some veins in the leaves, straight-line quilting the red part of the flag and an outline around the beaver. I did match my threads to the fabrics so nothing really stands out that much.

I’m really happy with how it turned out and even though my mom didn’t realize it was a beaver, she seemed really pleased with it. (Of course, the colours are amazing, so… how could she not love it?)

Finished February 17, 2018. Approximately 15.5″x 22″.


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WIP Wednesday: Cushion covers

So I’ve been working on cushion covers lately. Quite a while ago, like months ago, I’d cut out all the pieces for a 16″ quilt block that exactly matched one I’d sent away for the Stash Bee and then it sat around for a long, long time without me doing anything with it. And then I got bit by the free motion quilting bug because I was working on that baby quilt I just posted about the other day and I started watching Craftsy videos about free motion quilting – I’ve got several, two with Leah Day, one with Elizabeth Dackson, one with Angela Walters, and one I haven’t watched with… Wendy Butler Berns – and that got me wanting to do some more practise. But I hate just using random fat quarters (and I hate wasting my “good” fabric for it, but I don’t have all that much ugly fabric any more either) so I made up that quilt block and turned it into a quilted cushion. Which is the one on the right, here:

WIP and a finish

Once I get it washed up, I’ll write a proper post about it with some decent pictures, but for now it’ll do. Part of the process with that one involved my (weak) attempts to FMQ smooth curves, and that got me watching another Craftsy class, that one Jacquie Gering’s class about quilting with a walking foot. (I’m feeling lazy: I’m not sure I spelled her name right and I can’t recall the exact name of the class, but it seems like too much work to look it up!) And so there’s a little bit of walking foot quilting in that finished pillow, and then a little more on the pillow-in-progress on the left. It’s so very sweet and pretty, isn’t it? That’s so not my usual wheelhouse and I’m not at all certain what I’ll wind up doing with it, but there it is.

I’ve been thinking for the last little while about what my “style” is as a quilter (or as an artist if you want to take it in that route – I’m talking less about the mechanics of it and more about the look of the finished things I make) and I don’t really think I’ve got one. My brain sort of flits around from this to that and I like to try a little of everything, but I don’t think anyone would ever, in a random line-up of stuff, be able to point to the thing I made and feel certain it was mine. I think that’s true of a lot of quilters I know, that we haven’t really found our niche in a way, but then some people you really do recognize straight away. I suppose it just takes time to find that place that belongs to you and the flitting around is just part of the process.

Linking up with Lorna’s Let’s Bee Social, The Needle and Thread Network, and finally Work in Progress Wednesday with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Sew Fresh Quilts wipwednesdayneedleandthreadnetwork WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

And a belated Talk to Me Tuesday. The later half of this video is directed at the other video makers/posters at the Livejournal TTMT community who posted videos in September.


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Radiant Orchid Mini-Quilt

It took me a long time to warm up to making a project for the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge – I didn’t have many purples in my stash, even fewer of them in that sort of reddish-pinky-purple that Radiant Orchid seems to be, and I just didn’t have any ideas. But then I read a blog post at Mary Corbet’s Needle ‘N Thread that introduced me to the hand over-dyed threads produced by Colour Complements. Mary was running a giveaway for threads from their Etsy shop and I got sucked into thread heaven, a place filled with pretty, pretty cotton and rayon, and I forgot the giveaway entirely: I just had to buy some thread immediately.

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge...

I paired up my sampler pack of threads (three sizes of perle cotton, a rayon chainette, and another very fine rayon thread) with three shades of Kaffee Fassett shot-cotton – Grape, Granite, and Lilac. I choose very quiet fabrics because I wanted to try out something called Kantha quilting and I wanted the stitching to pop, rather than blend into a busy print background. Kantha is a type of embroidery used in parts of India and Bangladesh to give new life to old saris – women would stack up several layers of old, worn saris and stitch them together using a running stitch which could be done in long straight lines or could used to create patterns or pictures. Most of the newer kantha quilts I’ve seen are done exclusively with the running stitches running across the quilts with little extra decoration, but if you do a Google image search or even go to Wikipedia, you can see pictures of some of the more decorative patterns that can be made with Kantha quilting.

Radiant Orchid mini-quilt

I did a little bit of both types, I suppose, since I did largely just straight lines, but also interrupted myself to include a very literal interpretation of the Radiant Orchid challenge. (So literal that I also brought an orchid home so that I could do a triple orchid take – plant, representation of the plant, colour named after the plant.) Because I was working with a sampler pack of threads, I had a little of a lot of varieties of thread, but not a lot of any of them, so I did five repeating rows of (six) different threads, which I also hoped would give it a nice texture and maybe kind of draw the eye around with the different shades of purple and pink (and little splashes of gold) .

Straight Stitching

I stitched the whole thing without a hoop or pins or anything – it was small enough it didn’t feel like it needed much support to keep it together, though I did start with the rayon thread and stitch it every 1-inch or so to help stabilize it enough that I really really didn’t have to worry. I was surprised by how much (overall) I enjoyed the process of stitching – it felt like it should have been tedious, but I didn’t get tired of it until I was near the end and using the worst of the threads – a 100% polyester (which feels scratchy and horrible) and the very thick perle cottons, which my needle was resistant to threading and which then didn’t want to take more than a single stitch at a time. The sparkle chainette (the one with gold flecks) was also a bit difficult because it was incredibly stretchy: I started with a piece of thread the width of the cloth and somehow managed to stitch TWO full lines without starting another length of the stuff.

Orchids

I free-hand stitched the orchids following a tutorial from Drago Art. For the flowers, I used another variegated perle cotton, this one in a blue-green-purple blend, but I found it sunk back into the background too much, so I outlined a lot of it with a very pale lavender DMC floss. Unlike the rest of the stitches in the piece, that back stitch does NOT travel to the back of the quilt – it’s all on the surface. A third thread was used to stitch the stem – it’s maybe a little too bright, but I like it anyway, so we’ll pretend I didn’t say that.

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Anyway, this project absorbed a lot of my time throughout the first couple weeks in March, so much so that I feel like I should be sick of it now, but I’m pretty proud of how it all came out. It kind of dresses up that weird little nook in the strairwell/kitchen along with that print of one of Rodin’s Cambodian dancers and the actual orchids. My sister will likely hate the purple, so it won’t last there too long, I don’t imagine, but eventually it’ll go dress up my Mum’s house for spring.

This was finished on 17 March 2014 and stitched entirely by hand, by me. The binding was sewn to the front and hand-stitched to the back. The fabrics are all Kaffee Fassett shot cottons: the binding is “Grape,” the front is “Granite” and the back is “Lilac.” The threads are all from Colour Complements, except for one shiny purple one (directly above the gold flecked rayon) and the orchid outline, which are both DMC, though one is cotton and the other a horrible, scratchy Polyester. (Seriously, I don’t recommend it.) The quilt measures 15.5″ x 19″ and it is nameless, as are most of my quilts.

This was also my Lovely Year of Finishes Goal for March (goal post here), so success on all fronts!

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge My Button


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ALYOF: I got sunshine…

So back at the beginning of the month, I set a few goals for myself:

1. Two bee blocks
2. Sunshine Pillow
3. Cat Faces
4. Confetti Go Lucky quilt

The one that I cared about the most, that I set as my goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes was the Sunshine pillow. And it got done slightly last minute, but done it is!

Sunshine cushion

This cushion cover was based on Katherine from Sew Me Something Good‘s Joy cushion that she created for Blogathon Canada last November. I don’t generally decorate with holiday things, but I really liked the idea of the pattern, so I kind of thought about it and sat on it and downloaded the pattern from Craftsy anyway (I think this will take you where you can get it…) and then I’d ordered some fabric from a shop that was giving away mini charm packs with purchases over x-amount of dollars, and I’d told the shop owner to surprise me. She sent me Kate Spain’s Sunnyside and I thought… sunshine? Yeah, I can do something with that.

As a bit of an aside, I was hugely amused by how few “sunny” prints are actually in the Sunnyside line: there are eleven or twelve that you could call orange or yellow, and then 28ish that are green, blue, or grey. Anyway, I arranged them from orange through yellow then green and teal to indigo from the left and light blue to grey to indigo from the right so that it would be like the sunshine was pushing in on a cloudy day, pushing away the clouds and wind and rain. The gold is just a Kona cotton that I had enough of and which worked the best of all the yellows I have. It was dark enough to provide some contrast with the lighter yellows in the line and didn’t seem to actively clash with any of the other colours (though that teal in the raindrop print is a near thing… it’s a bit of a strange colour choice in the line).

If you go check out Katherine’s Joy pillow, you’ll notice that I got lazy pretty quickly. I couldn’t settle on two different fabrics for the words, so that I could have the shadowed/layered effect used in the pattern, so I decided just to use one and then have a contrasting stitch instead. But then all I had was a copper coloured thread (I don’t have a lot of coloured threads) and it didn’t really contrast as much as I’d hoped.

I got...

Anyway, forget that, who cares?! It gets the job done and it doesn’t look bad. Let’s talk about embroidery instead – I loved the font I picked for the embroidery. I forget what it’s called, but I need to find it again because I’m totally using it for my next embroidery pattern (which will be part of the As You Wish quilt and stitch-along at Fandom in Stitches… and let me further interrupt myself to say how AMAZING the patterns are for this project… I’m not working on it right now because All The Projects Ever, but I’m totally keeping this one as a future thought because LOVE, and if you’re a fan of The Princess Bride – and how could you not be? Westley! Inigo Montoya! As You Wish! Giants! Adventure! True Love! (is this a kissing book?) – then you’ll love it all too). Anyway. Font. I love the shape of the letters, the curves and it stitched up beautifully with my favourite stitch, the split stitch (it kind of got mashed down when I pressed it the last time — forgot to put a towel under it!), and I think it’d work well with a stem stitch too (though maybe not with a back stitch, which a lot of people love, but the curves might be too tight for that). In another bout of laziness, I didn’t want to go buy thread that would work for the pillow, so I just used something I had – “Bell Pull” from Sublime Stitching’s Parlour colour palette – which is too near a match to the background fabric. But the stitching came out nicely and it’s readable if you’re not half-way across the room, so forget that, who cares?! It gets the job done and it doesn’t look bad.

You know what else gets the job done and doesn’t look (too) bad?

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Grey zipper! If you were around on WIP Wednesday, then you know why I used a grey zipper. But just in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the original gold one:

Sigh.

This is why we shouldn’t sew when we’re tired. I didn’t want to go back to the store to buy another 22″ gold zipper (it’s an 18-in pillow, but that’s the size I had to buy to get a gold one that wasn’t ludicrously small for the size of the pillow), so I went with grey. I really should have made a flap to hide the zipper, but after sewing my zipper closed and then cutting off the business end of the zip, I thought I’d better stay away from anything more complicated than just stitching fabric onto the zipper and then top stitching it to make it look nice. The grey line isn’t horrible, but it sure does stand out, doesn’t it? Anyway, the fabric is Hive in Maize from Joel Dewberry’s Bungalow line. I love this print and am slightly appalled that I wasted so much of it on the back of a cushion (why didn’t I just use a solid gold? It’s not like I didn’t have more of the gold from the front of the cushion!) and I want to buy more! more! more! But I am supposed to be fabric fasting (and I totally crashed and burned today, but that’s a story for another day), so I’d better hold off and hope it’s still available in 5 months.

Anyway, back to my generalized laziness with this project. I really wanted to try out Katherine’s binding method for the edge of the cushion, but lazy. So very lazy. I even had a pretty orange fabric picked out that would have helped tie in the orange from the words, but nope. Lazy.

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The quilting is kind of lazy too – a lot of organic lines, where organic means “can’t be arsed to make it straight, so I’m going to make it curve and call it intentional”. It’s a look I like though, so that helps! I had very little copper thread left, so I used up the spool and then used a basic off-white for the rest of the quilting. I also did a very, very quick and dirty stitch in the ditch around the four-patches, which I’ve very helpfully shown off in this picture where I just didn’t, couldn’t, you’re not gonna make me! stay inside the lines.

But you know what, for all my picking apart of the bits and pieces I don’t think are as awesome as they could be, I really love how this cushion came out. It makes me smile and it’s warmer and brighter than this miserable snowy winter we’re trudging our way through. This part of the winter (late January/February) is always sort of the worst for me.. it’s the bit when it feels the most never-ending, like we’re going to have snow for the rest of eternity because Winter isn’t just Coming, it’s already here and it’s got no plans of letting go. So a happy bit of sunshine is just the thing.

Linking up with TGIFF, hosted this week by the lovely Jo at Riddle & Whimsy and A Lovely Year of Finishes with Melissa at Sew Bittersweet Designs and Shanna at Fiber of All Sorts:

A Lovely Year of Finishes


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2013 in Review

Sometimes I get a little… weird about how little I finish in a year. Or maybe just how few big things I finish in a year. I read a lot of blogs (like… a lot), and some people seem constantly to be producing New! Amazing! Gorgeous! things every time I turn around, and it’s just not the way I work. But I still occasionally get all wibbly about it, as if it matters or as if anyone cares or as if the Quilt Police are keeping count and will take away my crafter card for not being that prolific.

Back in January 2013, I posted a list of five quilty goals:
1. To finish all my Simply Solids bee blocks in a timely way – DONE
2. To finish all my LJ Birthday blocks in a timely way – DONE (I mean, the last two were late, but they were in the mail long before the end of the year)
3. To finish quilting the seven quilt tops in my closet – Well…. one down, six to go.
4. Don’t start anything new, except some wall-hangings for my mom – AHAHAAHAHAHAHA.
5. Work on some of my unfinished projects – See above.

And five embroidery goals, of which I did exactly none.

Anyway, here’s a couple of collages, with most of the year’s things:

2013 Quilt Blocks

Quilt blocks. A lot of quilt blocks. Not all of the quilt blocks though. There were more churn dashes I made for my own quilt that I didn’t photograph. And then all the blocks that went into a quilt top I haven’t photographed yet (for the Confetti Go Lucky quilt) and more of the Cat Face blocks, which I didn’t photograph. The Doctor Who ones probably shouldn’t be in there because I’ve made them into a quilt top, which just needs its last border, but I don’t have any photos of the completed top, so I put them all in here.

2013 - Quilts and Quilt Tops

It feels a little sadder looking at this collection of finished quilts and finished tops. There are two more than this (the aforementioned confetti go lucky and doctor who tops – well, Who is still in progress), but it’s the never finishing quilts that makes me feel like I’m not using my time wisely or whatever. I did get three quilts done to the binding and everything, and even though two of them are baby sized (and the other one was 90% finished with the clocked ticketed over from 2012 to 2013), I can still be proud of that. I am and always have been and probably always will be a slow quilter. I often get hung up right near the end. And I do quite a bit besides just quilts:

2013 - Minis & Flags

These are all minis of one sort or another. The two top left were for my mom. The hexagon one was for a Scrappy Swap. The three flags are were for Lac Megantic. The Ravenclaw was a gift for a crafty friend. (It could be used as a mug rug or a wall-hanging, as could the hexagon.)

2013 - All the Little Finishes

And I did a small mountain of baskets, zip pouches, pin cushions, pot holders, and assorted small bits and pieces. I think it’s all a pretty… respectable amount of stuff to have gotten done over the course of the year, so I really need to get over myself. (Also, the embroidery shown here is not complete – there were several more of those little smiley faced summer things, but I don’t have photographs of most of them. One of these days…)

So that’s all of 2013. More or less. Next post… plans for 2014. I think I’ll make a combination Fabric Fast/WIP list/Another Lovely Year of Finishes/2014 Goals post. Else it might be the longest lead into 2014 EVER.

(With special thanks to Big Huge Labs for the mosaic maker, even if I wish it could deal a little better with non-square photos — I think it should make them all the same height, then adjust the column width to the widest photo. But anyway, I don’t pay for the use of it, so I shouldn’t complain too hard about how it works.)


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Ellie-cases and Valentines in December

I’m in Saskatchewan now for a week or so, but before I left, I had a mad rush to get a few things done for Christmas gifts. I’d promised to bring one of my friends some shortbread cookies on the Saturday before I left, but I forgot to buy butter, which kind of put paid to that idea, so instead I decided to make her some pillowcases using fabric I’d bought months ago with her in mind. She’s a huge fan of elephant everything, but only if the trunks are pointing up (because it’s supposed to hold in the luck?), so when I stumbled over this Madhuri line of fabric, I’d had to pick some up for her.

Ellie Cases

I made two pillowcases for her, and kind of did it in a fabric wasteful way – I wanted the elephants to be running left/right rather than up/down, so I cut the forty-four inches down the length of the fabric and then trimmed the 26″ from the width of the fabric – so many prints run in the wrong direction for the hot dog pillowcase method and that’s the only way around it, other than just living with it. Normally I am okay with that, but I guess the luck would run out if they’re sideways? I don’t know – this friend has a thing about the trunks so I indulged it!

Elephant Pillowcases

Fortunately, these are pretty quick and easy to put together, even with the additional odd cutting. Not too much time or effort required to make them, and they look pretty great. She was also pretty happy with them, though I’m sure her husband wants to kill me. (Poor guy – I wrote him an apology on the gift tag.)

The other thing I needed to get put together was a wall-hanging for my Mom for a Christmas gift. Last year my sister and I made a Christmas wall-hanging for her and we also gave her a vaguely Halloween-ish quilted owl wall-hanging and for her birthday I gave her a more generic spring/summer wall-hanging, all for a quilt rack we also gave her for Christmas last year. So we’re trying to give her an option for every holiday, but we’re spreading it out a bit, rather than giving her a pile of them all at once. This is a Christmas gift idea that can go on for a few years!

Valentine's Wall-hanging

We needed something pretty quick this year because my sister was in India for a good chunk of the fall (for work) and then everything after that just seemed to come too quickly and we kept putting it off and putting it off. Suddenly it was 5 days till I was leaving and my sister was so slammed at work that her job gave her carte blanche to work as much overtime (from home) as she can in order to get it done.

Valentine's Wall-hanging

The only craft she really does (besides a tiny bit of scrap-booking) is cross-stitch, so we chose a really simple pattern from a book called Stitch Graffitti (the Christmas wall-hanging came from the same book) and she did a row here and a row there while waiting for her work program to load or run updates and so on. She got it done on the Thursday before I left, so Friday I pieced the stripes around it to bring it up to size (it’s about 15.5″ x 18″ I think – I don’t have it here to measure!).

Valentine's Wall-hanging

I did matchstick quilting, which was unbelievably time-consuming, but which I think looks pretty great. The worst part was hiding all the gazillion threads on either side of the cross-stitch section – so very many starts and stops!

I was vaguely concerned the stripes of colour really didn’t work together that well, so I thought maybe quilting closely with the same thread over the whole thing would kind of help tie it all together a bit, as if it were one weirdly striped print, rather than all the random long strips of scrap solid fabric I had in a colour range between pink and burgundy, with a little purple and pale blue throw in for good measure. I was going to quilt it with a grey thread all over, but discovered a variegated thread in my stash that ranged from the palest pink to a deep burgundy – the perfect choice!

Valentine's Wall-hanging

I bound it mostly with a grey dot, but also used a little of a pink flower dot that I’ve had in my stash for ages and ages. I intentionally avoided prints in the main part of the quilt – I thought it would be too distracting, and I wanted as much of the focus as possible to be on the cross-stitched area – so I thought the binding would be a nice place to add in a little printed texture. I had the whole thing quilted by Sunday, but then it was getting the binding done. It’s small enough not to take an enormous amount of time, but I didn’t want to have to bring it back to Saskatchewan with me – too easy for my mom to find it in my things. Monday night I stayed up stupid late to get it finished, since I was flying out Tuesday morning. I took my photos sometime after midnight, under the light of my harsh overhead CFL light – I’m surprised these photos came out as well as they did.

Valentine's Wall-hanging

Except for this one. Washi tape sucks!

Do you follow me? Via feedly or email or bloglovin’ or just popping by every now and again to see what’s new? Leave a comment below – anything you like, you can tell me know you follow me or how you found me or whatever – and I’ll pop you in a special post-Sew Mama Sew giveaway draw for two mini charm packs of V and Co’s Color Me Happy line.

Color Me Happy Mini-charms

I picked these up especially for this giveaway when I was at Periwinkle Quilting when I was in Saskatoon on Tuesday. I wanted to do something special for those of you who’ve been around a while (even if it’s a very short while!) but without pressuring the entire Sew Mama Sew commentariat into following me just to get included. I’d always rather people follow because they want to, not because they think it’ll give them a better chance at winning a draw. I’ll draw names whenever I wake up on December 28, so try to enter by December 27, I suppose. It’ll probably fall to Random.org to draw the name. But maybe I’ll write them out on slips of paper and pull it out of a bucket. We’ll see.


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Little Things

I’ve made a lot of little things in the last little while, so here’s a big photodump of an entry talking about all of them.

I guess I should go back in time to the thing I made longest ago, back in September or October, I think, which was a little mini-quilt, based on the Ravenclaw house crest:

Ravenclaw Mini

I made this for Mari-Ann/RockIslander, who is a Ravenclaw. I took a picture of the Ravenclaw crest from online, blew it up a fair bit, traced around the edges of the eagle and transferred the pattern (in reverse) to fusible web. So then I cut it out (using the sharpest cuticle scissors ever, which are so much more awesome for cutting delicate fabric bits than for mangling finger tips) and fused the bird to the background. It’s actually two layers of fused fabric – the background wing was done separately, so that I could use a darker portion of the fabric, which I hoped would give some depth and sort of visually separate the two wings. Then I stitched around the bird, creating feathers in the wings and tail. (You can see a photo of that here from Mari-Ann – my own picture of the back turned out terribly, but I’d already sent it away and couldn’t try for another shot!) In the crest, the stripes run the opposite direction, but I paper-pieced that portion as well, and forgot to reverse that pattern! Oh well.

I like to think that if I were a Hogwarts student, I’d have been a Ravenclaw myself, but I bet I’d have wound up in Hufflepuff because I was really far too lazy a student to have made Ravenclaw when I was in high school. Hufflepuff sometimes seems to be the fall-back house: you don’t fit anywhere else? Well, Hufflepuff it is, then.

Children's Wash Cloths

About two weeks ago I was clearing out some stuff from the plastic cabinets in my sewing room, and I found a pile of children’s fabrics I didn’t even remember I had. I tend to avoid buying children’s fabrics because I never know what to do with them and I don’t have children, so no particular need for items made using children’s fabric. But I do sometimes buy scrap packs of fabric, and I’ve started to amass a fair collection of children’s prints from those scraps and from the occasional times I’ve bought children’s fabrics to make gifts for friends who are having babies. When I found this particular print, I just got the urge to do SOMETHING with it, but it was a small piece of fabric – about 8 to 8.5 inches wide at the largest point by width of fabric – and I couldn’t decide what to do with it. Then I remembered having seen a tutorial ages ago for making wash cloths out of terry cloth and cotton. Well. Terry cloth I’ve got. Several years ago I had the genius plan to make little hooded bath towels for babies. Which, needless to say, didn’t happen. So yeah. Wash cloths. (I didn’t go look for a tutorial because… it’s just not that complicated.) I’m torn between making wash cloths till the end of time (or just the end of that million miles of terry cloth) to use up all the ginormous pile of children’s fabric I didn’t realize I had and just giving away the fabric. I was thinking about getting rid of it all on Sew Mama Sew’s December giveaway day, but to be honest, there’s such a big pile, I’m not sure I’m going to want to pay to ship it all away!

Liberty Pincushion

This is another slightly older one. Back in September I bought some Liberty of London fabric to try it out and see if I’d like it as much as so many people seem to. I don’t. I find most of their prints to be fussy little florals (which is pretty high up my list of dislikes) and while I’m sure it’s wonderful for clothing, it’s so thin that I can’t understand why (some) people want to use it for quilts. Yes, it’ll last for a while, but it’s kind of delicate stuff: I don’t think it’d stand up to continual use in a bed quilt. Anyway, in the pincusion, I blended the slightly thicker than quilting cotton Essex Linen with the slightly thinner than quilting cotton Liberty Tana Lawn, so I used interfacing on the Liberty fabric to give it a little more heft, which probably did it some good. The edges of the cathedral window, particularly near the bottom ends of it, are kind of loose and open in a way I don’t love, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make them crisper, tighter corners. Maybe putting in a few whip stitches or something to join one edge to the other? (And also, maybe using a thinner fabric than the Essex linen.)

Anyway, you can make your own Cathedral Window pinnie using this pincushion tutorial on YouTube. The first one that I made, above, I made a little larger than the tutorial recommends. She says 10 cm squares for the patchwork back, which is about 4 inches, but I made mine 4.5 inches, and I shouldn’t have because it looks much nicer on the second one, which (though you can’t tell without scale in the photos) I made at the recommended size:

Liberty Pincushion

Okay, the tutorial creates a pretty great pincushion (I think) – I love the cathedral window look and it’s a pretty easy way of creating it – but it’s not the best tutorial out there. The words don’t always line up with what’s being shown in the video and there is one crucial bit of information that doesn’t get talked about that is only shown in text on the sidelines of the video (and if you’re watching the woman’s hands, as I tend to do, you might just miss it). So here’s the most important bit of information: the section that you leave open to turn the pincushion is in the patchwork portion of the sewing NOT when you sew the top to the bottom.

Liberty Pincushion

My stitches are pretty well hidden in the back, but that slightly rippled edge in the top right seam is where I left it open. When I made the first one, I sewed shut the patchwork and left open part of the side, which Did Not Work At All. I had fused on interfacing after stitching the patchwork section, so I had to rip it open and rip through the interfacing, and then restitch it closed by hand after stuffing it. Pain In The Ass.

Anyway, I made this pin cushion (and the following two projects using Liberty fabrics) for Cathy of Blueberry Patch, who won a giveaway prize from me alllllll the way back in August. Yes, it really took me until now to make and send it out. Cathy and I both own shoes made with Liberty fabrics, and I know she’s a fan of Liberty, so when her name was chosen for the prize, I decided to pick up the a Liberty scrap pack (and a couple Fat Eighths) from Pick Click Sew on Etsy so that I could try it out and have some fabric for making the prizes. At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to make with it, but I kind of love all the things I did make.

Liberty Fabric Bucket

The next thing I made was the good old fabric basket from Ayumi’s tutorial at Pink Penguin. This is a great tutorial and a great size and a great way to pull together some of the smaller scraps of Liberty that I’d gotten. The scrap pack had a real mishmash of colours and prints (because I used up all the good red ones in that first pincushion) and I had hard time figuring out how to make them all work together.

Liberty Fabric Bucket

In the end, I just went crazy with the colour combos and didn’t try to match things up at all. I added the little flange of green between the patchwork and linen portions to tie in the lining fabric a little more (especially since there was none of that fresh spring green in the rest of the prints). Some of these prints are just kind of crazy – scroll up to the other photo and look on the far left side at that little carriage print, can you imagine making clothing out of that? who would want to? Anyway, I think it all comes together better than I thought it would, even though there’s nothing in particular tying one print to the next. I used the Essex linen here again, which I think is nice for the base, since it gives it a little extra heft, which helps hold the shape of the basket. (I also put a fair bit of quilting into the basket bottom because I think that helps give it some structure as well. Though really at this small size it doesn’t need too much help. The one larger one I made was too loose and kind of floppy and really could have used a few layers of a nice stiff interfacing.)

Anyway, part of the reason I didn’t have a good grouping of colours to go into this was because I used up most of the red/pink prints on the first pincushion and then I set aside most of the “good” blues (all my favourite ones, anyway…) for making the next item I sent. I don’t have a good photo of this because we’re all light-shunning vampires at my house and I couldn’t find enough sunlight anywhere to photograph it properly, but a Tiny Tree Garland (tutorial/pattern by Noodlehead):

Tiny Tree Garland

I so wish I’d had some blue perle cotton to string these up, but all I had was gold, white, pink (sashiko thread), and red. I went with red because it was the most vivid colour (and white just looked… wrong).

Tiny Tree Garland

I made these using the aforementioned Liberty scraps, but also bamboo felt from TaDaa Studio Felt. I like the bamboo stuff – it’s as soft as nice wool felt, but doesn’t have the allergy issues I know some people have with wool (or the animal ethics issues some vegans have with wool — not that I’ve got that issue myself, but I’ve made things in the past for people who have).

Tiny Tree Garland

I was trying to leave enough space between trees that Cathy could cut it down into a set of seven hanging ornaments if she’d rather use the trees that way (garlands can be awkward! and I couldn’t figure out a NICE way to end the dangling strings – I was sure I had some giant shiny gold beads that I was going to string onto the ends, but I couldn’t find them for the life of me), but looking at the photos, I’m not sure I really left enough string for loops. Anyway, it’d be pretty easy to pull out what’s there and swap in something else. (I did knot the thread on either side of each tree, but… that’s what scissors are for :D)

Anyway, that was my special prize package for Cathy, who received it excitedly yesterday 😀

Okay, jeez. Epic length post here. One last thing:

Flannel-Voile Receiving Blankets

I’ve been all about using things up lately because I’ve been going through another crisis of OMGTOOMUCHSTUFF and these receiving blankets were a way of using up some voile and flannel I had laying around. If I had more flannel in the right colours, I’d use up the rest of my (small) voile stash on blankets just like these. These were made using a Self-binding Blanket tutorial. Mine are a bit smaller than in the tutorial because I only had 1 yd of each cut. I think I cut them in the end to 34″ square for the voile and 30″ square for the flannel, but I can’t quite recall. (I do know neither of the voiles were very well cut yards because I couldn’t get the full 36″ out of them!) Anyway, it came out to about 32″ square for the blankets. They’re not perfect by a long shot – the top-stitching is pretty appalling (I couldn’t find matching thread, so I just went for contrast, but ugh, every flaw is magnified) – but I think they turned out pretty cute anyway. And they’re so lovely and light-weight. Almost makes me want to make a giant bed sized one. (Not that I’ve got a source for extra wide-width flannel or voile, but.)

Okay. 2000 words. That’s longer than some essays I wrote in university. Time to wrap it up.


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Flags for Lac Mégantic

You might remember in the beginning of July there was a terrible disaster in Lac Mégantic, Québec when a train carrying oil derailed in the centre of the town, causing an enormous explosion that destroyed a huge part of city centre and killed 47 people. I think it was probably Canada’s largest disaster of that sort, but regardless, it was and still is heartbreaking and horrifying and something that will follow the survivors around for the rest of their lives.

Claire at Courtepointe Claire, a quilting shop in Laval, Québec is collecting flags to hang in Lac Mégantic, much like was done with To Boston With Love following the Boston bombing.

These are the flags I made to send away:

Flags for Lac Megantic

They asked for flags in blues and greens, avoiding reds, yellows, and oranges so much as possible. You can tell what was on top of my scrap bins because there was a lot of blues already there – most of these solids will also appear in my Simply Solids quilt top because they were still out after I cut fabric to send away to my bee mates.

Flags for Lac Megantic

This very simple dove was paper pieced using this pattern and bits of grey (and a scrap of gold Mendocino fabric). I probably should have used white for the dove – it’s so simple it just looks like a grey bird – but I found (from the Fleur de Lys) that white showed too much through without a batting.

Flags for Lac Megantic

This paper-pieced scrappy log cabin heart pattern came from SewHooked, here. All the fabrics in the heart came from my Modern Scrappy Bits swap. Some of them weren’t quilting cotton, but they worked for an application like this – I don’t think anyone needs to worry about how they’ll handle washing or how they’ll age. (I find a lot of thinner clothing-type fabrics will fall apart in quilts faster than cottons do. Or anyway, my favourite quilt that my mum made, a scrappy log cabin, had all the clothing-fabric strips rotted out long before the rest of it started to fall apart.)

Flags for Lac Megantic

And then the last one, a Fleur de Lys, which I chose especially because the Québec flag features four white fleurs-de-lys on a blue background. This pattern also was designed by Jennifer Ofenstein of SewHooked, and can be purchased here from her Craftsy shop. The last time I made this, I shrunk it a little to make it fit in a 5″ square, but this time I did it full-sized and I think it worked out better that way as I was able to get the little bar under the petals to work using the pattern (last time I pieced it traditionally, rather than curving it with paper piecing).

I hope Courtepointe Claire will receive a lot of flags to hang in Lac Mégantic – I’d have loved to make more, but feel like I’m running out of time, so I’m sending these now and if I have more time, I’ll make a few more. (They’d like to receive them by August 24, so I’m not entirely out of time, but I’m going to be short-staffed at work again for the next little while, so I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend sewing in the next little while.) It feels like such a small thing to do, but they’re a very long way off, and it’s something more concrete than just hoping for peace and comfort for the people in Lac Mégantic.


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Modern Scrappy Bits Swap Received!

I’ve talked about the Modern Scrappy Bits Swap quite a few times now – probably 4 times for things sent away and this will be the fourth time for things received. But for anyone who doesn’t know and wants to or should know… it’s a swap run on Flickr right here, where we get the name/address and some information about our recipient and then we make something small for that person (out of scraps!), send them some kind of notion or other, a postcard from wherever we’re from, and a fat quarter’s worth of scraps. The whole thing has been a lot of fun and I think I’ve gotten better at figuring out what to make for people (my first two were… meh, my last two I’ve been pretty happy about). Anyway, last week I got my package in the mail, which came over from Balu51 who lives in Switzerland.

MSBSwap Received

She sent me a really fantastic collection of scraps in yellows, oranges, reds, low volume, text prints… all sorts of good things. Up top in the picture is a stack of blue strips that she sent for doing a string quilt, since someday I would like to do a string quilt with my scraps. (I always say that, I never get around to it… One day!) I was talking to Balu51 via FlickrMail and she sent me a link to a really neat idea for doing a string quilt, a Stripey Lonestar Quilt block. (I find that website kind of hit and miss as to whether or not it will work – hopefully it’ll load for you if you’re curious! If you Google the name, the picture of it will come up in any case.) So now I’ve got THAT idea in my head instead of the standard style that looks like boxes on point.

She also sent me two skeins of what I think is perle cotton (the label is in German! but I recall that ‘baumwolle’ means cotton so at a minimum, it’s a cotton thread) in very lovely Griffindor colours (though I don’t suppose that was her intent! I just have Harry Potter on the brain for some reason right now).

MSBSwap Received

Also, Balu51 made me this pretty mug rug, which is now hanging in my sewing room. I can’t remember what I’d said in my sign-up form, but it was probably something wishy-washy about kind of liking everything and being happy with whatever got made for me because I’m always so happy to get mail and especially hand-made mail. Which is always true, but also probably the most ANNOYING thing to read when you’re trying to figure out what to make for someone you don’t really know 😀 Anyway, this mug rug is beautiful. The blues sort of match my bedroom walls and I find it sort of soothing and lovely to look at. I love the hexagons and the fabrics and the satin ribbon binding (which looks amazing!). I had admired this mug rug when the photos appeared in the Flickr group, and I’m lucky to have it come home with me. This is my first bit of art that I’ve hung up in my sewing room (which has my brother-in-law’s hockey related artwork and memorabilia on the walls – it’s actually his office, I just wanted more space, so I pay a little more rent so that I could have it and his desk has been stuffed into their over-crowded bedroom) and it’s great to have something so nice to hang up in there.

I keep thinking I should sit out a round and get to work on some of MY projects instead of always finishing the things that will be sent away, but I LOVE participating in this swap. There’s always something beautiful to look at and long for in the photostream.