Mini Alberta Shop Hop

I went on a little two-day road trip with my parents up to Edmonton this past week. The last couple years they’ve taken me somewhere within driving distance for a day or two as a kind of birthday gift, I suppose. I had originally planned to head down south to Waterton, which is a very pretty spot right up against the border with… Montana, I think, but they had terrible forest fires and so I had to readjust. So I thought I’d go into the mountains and see what’s what in the Lake Louise and Banff areas, but the forest fires in the North-West part of the US are drifting so much smoke up into the mountains that as my cousin (who lives in Canmore) says, ‘The tourists are going to have to photoshop the mountains into their pictures.’ It’s incredibly smoky up here and I can’t imagine how people are dealing with it any closer to the actual fires – I don’t have breathing problems generally, but it hurts to breath when I’m outside.

Basically, I decided to go north – out run the smoke – and we went up to Edmonton. Along the way we stopped at the Danish Canadian National Museum and Gardens in Dickson, Alberta, which I thought was a nice little sort of… work in progress museum. They have some neat things there, including a replica Viking small ship (Gokstadfæring) and some original buildings and exhibits of artifacts from the early days of Danish settlement in Canada. I come from the kind of nerdy family that likes museums and reading display cards explaining things and we’ve all been to practically every tiny, podunk museum in the Canadian prairies so this sort of thing appeals to us.

After that, we stopped in at Nuts for Bolts, a quilt shop in a barn on a farm somewhere in the Red Deer/Sylvan Lake area. It was a nice little shop with some pretty fabrics – lots of Tula Pink! – and I picked up a couple fat quarters:

Fabric

I was prepared to say these were Heather Bailey prints – though I’m not sure why I thought that, since I tend to recognize her for her bold colour choices and more graphic style prints than these sweet, pretty blossoms. They all are selvedge-free, though, and I can’t seem to figure out who it is that has done that fan print elsewhere. I’m certain I own some of it in another colour! (That fan print is the one that made me think it was Heather Bailey.) Colour-wise, I’d peg this as Fig Tree Quilts, except that this shop doesn’t seem to sell Moda fabrics. I don’t know – let me know if you know who/what this is!

After that, we stopped in Ponoka, Alberta to see if my cousin Auvrey was working at the quilt shop there, Prairie Points Quilt Shop – by chance she was, and we really lucked out because it was her second-to-last day before quitting!

Fabric

You can’t tell from this photo, but that white fabric is a text print! Naturally, I have no selvedge, so I can’t say what it is. The ghosts were my favourite thing I found in this shop and this seemed to be all they had left of it. No selvedge, of course. (I really fell down on the job of finding out what’s what.) I don’t often like these kinds of novelty prints all that much, but this one was cute and fun. The green is a print from P&B Textiles – I just liked that shade of green!

After that it was up to Edmonton. I spent too much money there, but mostly not on fabric! I went to the Muttart Conservatory, which by chance was hosting an exhibit called ZimSculpt of Zimbabwean stone sculpture. There were some really incredibly wonderful pieces, and I wish I had money to burn because I’d have come home with more than a few if I could have. These are some of my favourite, photographed inside the conservatory’s pyramids amidst the plants that are grown there.

Zimbabwean Sculpture - ZimSculpt

Seated Bather by Gregory Mutasa
Walking by Cosmos Chifamba
Daydreaming by David White <– This is the one I most wanted to bring home and place in my imaginary garden.

Zimbabwean Sculpture - ZimSculpt

Baboon by Wilfred Tembo
Bird Flock by Mike Katsvanga
United Women by Savi Chirwa

Alas, I couldn’t really afford any of the bigger sculptures, but I did pick up this smaller one:

Impala by Willard Bopoto

This is Impala by Willard Bopoto, carved from Fruit Serpentine. Lovely!

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Then I headed over to the Art Gallery of Alberta, which didn’t really blow me away. Only two floors of the gallery space were open and I’d guess that about half of it was devoted to the post-modern art, which isn’t particularly my favourite type of art. They had a few exhibits that I did enjoy, but I also got reprimanded by a guard for standing too close to a painting while I tried to see the detail – it was a very glossy painting and I was trying to look at it from an angle to see if it was actually behind glass or if there was some kind of glaze on it. (I really couldn’t say. I mean, I’m certain it couldn’t have been glass, but none of the other paintings had that kind of gloss on them that glared in the lights – seriously, it was THAT shiny.) Just a head’s up for everyone: accidents can happen to anyone, you don’t want one to happen to you. (I don’t blame the gallery person: it’s their job and it’s not untrue. But the lights are only good when you’re about 8 feet away and if you want to see any detail or even read the tiny type on the info cards, you need to be up close – it’s all shadow between that optimal viewing point and somewhere up fairly close. These also were Baroque era paintings, so they’re generally very dark anyway.)

After that it was one more quilt shop, Earthly Goods Quilting in Edmonton.

Fabric

I have never done English Paper Piecing, but know so many people who love it, so I thought I’d give it a go with this little pin cushion kit. The fabrics in mine are quite different from the pattern picture, but they really didn’t photograph well. They’re all from a Zen Chic line, anyway, in oranges and green and black and white. Very cute.

I also picked up a bit of these Cotton and Steel prints from their Black and White line:

Fabric

This photo kind of looks like I stripped out all the colour, doesn’t it? I had a chat with the shop owner (I think, anyway!) about Cotton and Steel and how she’d only brought in the the Black and White line because she was concerned it wouldn’t sell well and it was interesting to hear it from her perspective. Because I can see where she might not want to take a chance on, say, bowling score cards or whatever. That’s money and it’s going to take up space and it might be a really hard sell.

On the other hand, one of the things I tend to find frustrating about a lot of brick and mortar stores is that they tend to have a fairly narrow range of styles that they bring in (and this does certainly vary from shop to shop depending on the buyer and I assume their target market) and sometimes I think they focus too hard on their older clientele (not that I’m pinning that one on this shop, just a general statement) and don’t think about what might appeal to younger quilters or what might be kind of a gateway fabric for new quilters, regardless of age. There used to be a shop near where I used to live in Calgary, I can’t remember the name anymore, but they had a lot of florals and browns and reproduction prints in sweet, babyish colours or kind of dingy looking greyed out tones. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t bring in those things if they sell, but one the other hand, every time I went there I had to fight to find one or two prints that I felt could work in anything I was making (and I’m really not that modern a quilter!). When it finally closed down, it sort of made sense to me because I could imagine their shoppers aging or dying out of the craft and leaving no one to replace them. I mean, this is a lot of half-formed thoughts and I’m not quite sure what would happen if I were in charge of buying fabric for a shop. Probably nothing good!

Anyway, I think I should have suggested that the shop owner of Earthly Goods consider bringing in some of the basics – they really can go with nearly anything and there’s a nice range of colours and they’re not all weird prints that might sell only to the people shopping for the selvedges (because she did tell me that when she cut Fat Quarters of C+S prints for people, they’d always ask for the side with the selvedge) or for swaps.

Anyway, that was more or less my little trip! Not too much fabric, so I think I did pretty good at keeping myself restrained while still wanting to buy a little bit from everywhere I went!

Sunday Stash: Lime Flannel

So if you follow me on Instagram (@clumsykristel), you’ll know I’ve been working on some brown and green hashtag blocks. They’re going to be put together into a baby quilt for a friend of my sister who is having her first baby… sometime soon. She doesn’t know if she’s having a boy or a girl, but has been doing things up in browns and lime greens, so that was the direction my sister asked me to angle in. I love backing baby blankets in flannels, so I was fortunate to already have a flannel in my stash that I thought would work perfectly…

Flannel

This fabric is Erin McMorris’s Birds from Irving Street (if Irving Street is the name of this fabric line – it’s really tough to read the printing on the selvedge). I also have another chunk of it in yellow, which is pretty awesome too. But I’d kind of forgotten about the pink… We were going to go ahead with it anyway because even if she has a boy, what’s a little pink the grand scheme of things? And if you follow many fabric loving people on Instagram, you know there’s a big push to use stash fabric this year (tied to the hashtag #SewMyStash2015) and I was kind of excited about this because the whole thing was going to be made from stash – all the fabric on the front is straight off my shelves (and scrap bins) and of course this flannel was too. But I went to the fabric store for thread. And that was my downfall, because you know what I found at the fabric store? Fabric. Fabric without pink in it. And it was 50% off, so who can walk away from that?

Flannel

I’d been wanting this Ann Kelle flannel for a long time, but didn’t buy it because I didn’t have a use for it. But now I do! Sure, it’s floral, but what’s a little floral in a (potential) little boy’s life? Not much. But I was pretty sure my sister wouldn’t like it, so I had to pick up a second choice too. Give her some options, you know?

Flannel

My sister likes cute things for little kids (which I usually don’t – I generally avoid children’s prints though I have got a few), so when I found this elephant flannel, I sort of figured she’d prefer it to both the floral and the birds. And she did. I try not to buy these cheaper flannels because they shrink at a greater rate and are far more shred-happy than the nicer flannels you get from the bigger companies (the birds are FreeSpirit and the floral is Robert Kaufman), but I just bought a little extra and if I need to seam it, I’ll probably make a wider seam allowance than I usually would, just to combat possible shredding. Anyway, it’ll be a cute addition to the quilt (and there’s one hashtag block with elephants, so you know… it fits). Now I just need to focus (and get my Juki back from the shop) and get it quilted up so it’ll be ready for the baby shower.

Linking up to Sunday Stash with Molli Sparkles.

Peridot

When I was a kid, I was a little bit jealous of my sister and mother for having Amethyst for a birth stone because theirs was purple and mine was Peridot and it was this terrible yellow-green (Mountain Dew reminiscent…) colour that I hated. It didn’t look – to me – like a real gemstone: amethyst, sapphire, aquamarine, ruby… those were the good ones. Peridot, not so much. I’ve eased up on that yellow-green, lime-y olive-y colour since, but now I not so secretly wish my gemstone were Aquamarine instead, I mean… c’mon! Put on your inner princess and tell me which tiara you would most like to wear? This one or this one or this one or this sublime beauty? Or are you going to pick this sad looking green-stoned tiara? Well. Okay, it’s not ALL sad in the peridot jewellery market, but it’s none of it sublime either. (Feel free to prove me wrong, though. I mean it. It doesn’t even have to be a tiara!) I don’t know a lot about tiaras, but I can’t think of a single famous peridot tiara out there. Even turquoise has gotten its due, and that doesn’t even sparkle!

Anyway, all this by way of saying: it’s nearly my birthday. And in honour of myself, I bought a bunch of vaguely peridot coloured fabrics from Mad About Patchwork to remind myself that it isn’t at all a bad colour and in fact I kind of like it a lot. (Seriously, the lime/olive green stack in my stash is one of the largest I’ve got. I really didn’t need to buy another 18 FQs of it because I’ve probably already got thirty or forty.)

Greens

These fabrics are a mix of the green Stash Bundle from Mad About Patchwork and a bunch of random other greens that seemed like they might fit in.

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I wanted fabrics that felt like they belonged together in some way (largely because they mostly have a yellow tone to them), without actually being part of the same line. I wasn’t completely successful – that Anna Maria Horner True Colours print, for instance, is not a very yellow green, nor is the polka dot print directly above it.

Untitled

What I want them for is to make a quilt using the Stripping technique from the Craftsy class Strip Your Stash (not an affiliate link), which I’ve recently been watching. I think it’s important to have variation in the colours you choose, so I probably won’t filter out any of the darker colours – they’ll add some depth – and I’ll probably add in some more that have other colours and shades for that same reason. I have a few things to finish up in August, so I probably won’t get started on this any too soon, but that’s one half of the plan for these fabrics. The other half of the plan? Well… tune back in on Wednesday to find out. (Hint: it probably rhymes with shmive-amay. There will also be a second sponsored rhymes-with-shmive-amay from Mad About Patchwork that same day, so don’t forgot to stop by!)

(Also? I was supposed to be born in September, so really I could claim Sapphire for my own… I’d be happy to claim the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure as well, if the Swedish royals would care to sell it for a song. Or a stack of peridot-coloured fabrics.)

Linking up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash:

Molli Sparkles

Quilts I Own: The Red Quilt

So I’ve been thinking about how I haven’t really had a lot to post lately (I say that, but have three in progress posts, all very overdue, which I could expand out to six, but won’t…) and that got me thinking about how I should do a series of posts about the quilts I own. Not the ones I’ve made, though I’ve got a couple of those, but just the quilts that are in my possession, all of which were either given to me or which I liberated from my Mom’s house. The quilt I’m going to talk about today was kind of given to me, but kind of bought by me. Bought for a song, really, hence the kind of given to me part of it…

Back in I think 2010, my mom’s family had a family reunion – it was held out at my Aunt Helen’s house in the Fraser Valley in BC and relatives from the US (California, Alaska, Montana… no wait, North Dakota… the one with Mount Rushmore, maybe that’s South Dakota?) and all over western Canada came out for the weekend. In order to pay for the food and a bit of the water/electricity bill and all of that, the family donated items for a silent auction. My Aunt Helen took me upstairs to one of her closets and pulled out a pile of unquilted quilt tops and asked me to help her decide which one to put into the silent auction. My aunt at one point quilted A LOT (she’s more into making glass beads now), but she (like me) had a lot of finished tops and not so many finished quilts, so from the few she pulled out of the closet, I picked the red Double Irish Chain. I LOVE a red quilt, so hells yeah.

Quilting Detail - Red Irish Chain

I was ever-so-slightly afraid that my family members would bid like… $5 and a two-four of beer for this double or queen-sized entirely hand-stitched quilt, so I made sure to put down the first bid, and I bid $50. I thought for sure someone would bid above that, but I wanted it to at least start with a number less insulting than I thought some of my family members might give it. Nobody outbid me. (I mean, c’mon! It’s hand-stitched! It’s made of fabric, which is not free or even cheap! It came attached with a promise to get it quilted and usable! This was worth so much more than $50!)

It took a couple years, but when my aunt was coming through Calgary in 2012, she brought me the hand-stitched, hand-quilted quilt:

Red Irish Chain

Love! Did you see that quilting detail? The entire thing is hand-quilted in a one-inch diagonal grid! Crazycakes. When I got it, it was covered in cat’s hair, which I have some allergy issues with so I was going to wash it, but then I discovered some cat’s claw marks in it too:

The Dangers of Cat Claws!

Two edges of the quilt had several claw gouges in it, right along the edge of the binding, and I was afraid to wash it, just in case those clawed areas ran or frayed a lot. So instead I folded it up and put it away in the closet for two years, until this week when I decided to just suck it up, chuck it in the wash on gentle and see what would happen. SUCH a bad idea.

Forget the claw marks, which did fray a little, and which I think I should just whip-stitch together and then patch a bit of red blender fabric over top of. Forget that entirely, instead, think about what happens with cheap, non-quilt shop quality red fabric:

Cheap Fabric!
Cheap Fabric!
Cheap fabric!
Cheap Fabric!

The staining is almost all of it from just one fabric in the mix – that one with circle dots and stripes on it. Everywhere that fabric is up against a white patch, it has bled. (Sometimes it even blend from folded over areas in the wash-machine and the white patches it was touching were also bled all over.) It’s so frustrating and so disappointing because this is such a lovely quilt and I was really looking forward to having it in rotation with some of my other bed quilts. But to be honest, I could be a lot more upset about than I am, I’m going to try washing it with Oxy-Clean and see if it helps, but if it doesn’t… I’m still just going to use it. It’s a nice quilt, even if it does look like it went a dozen rounds with a sippy cup of juice.

Juki TL98E

So in a bit of good news/bad news, a good friend’s mother-in-law, who was a quilter, recently passed away and left behind a very nice array of quilting supplies and sewing machines. None of her family members are interested, so they had me over to her house to look through her things and see if I wanted anything. She had a Grace quilt frame and three sewing machines and all the various accoutrements. As nice as it might be to learn to quilt with a frame, I really don’t have the room for it – I rent two bedrooms in my sister’s house and could make use of the basement, but it is unfinished and none of the plug-ins are connected yet – and whenever I wind up moving out of here, the chances of my having that kind of space are pretty slim anyway. She also had a really lovely old Singer sewing machine, which I didn’t take home either:

Look at this thing... So pretty!

So lovely (so dusty!), but I wouldn’t use it (and don’t know if it was in working condition) and again… don’t really have room to store extra things like a sewing machine I wouldn’t use. Even if it is lovely as anything.

What I did bring home was the quilt that was on the frame – which I plan to quilt up and return to my friend and his family – and a Juki TL98E sewing machine.

Juki TL 98E

This straight-stitch only machine was the one the owner used on her quilting frame and it was all set up and ready to go with the aforementioned quilt. I brought it home a couple weeks ago, but haven’t had a chance to look at it until last night, when I finally took off the cover, figured out how to thread it (Thanks to Sarah for the help with that and the bobbin!), and tried it out.

X!X!XFAILURE ALERTX!X!X

I haven’t been able to sew more than a single stitch with it yet! Every time I try to sew, the top thread breaks… or at least I think that’s what happening. At first I thought it was unthreading, somehow, but looking at it more closely, there’s a shredded thread every single time.

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This is what it’s looking like from the top – one, two or three stitches, and then the top thread is pulled through to the back and the needle is just going up and down with nothing in it.

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And then from the bottom.

The things I’ve tried include:
1. Changing the needle – I switched it first from a 100/16 to an 80/12. As far as I can tell, she only used Schmetz Universal needles in the machine — all the supplies for the machine were in the same zipper bag and that’s all we found — so I’m not sure if using them rather than the ones recommended by the manual is causing a problem. I also changed the needle again, in case there was a flaw in the first 80/12 needle I used.
2. Changing from the FMQ foot to a regular piecing foot and being sure the feed dogs were engaged. (They were.)
3. Changing the thread – she had a different thread in the bobbin than on the top of the machine, so I wound a new bobbin from a Guttermann spool I recently bought and used the same thread on top and bottom.
4. Cleaning inside the machine. (Repeat this a lot of times, culminating in the time when I took off the throat plate so I could sweep out dust around the feed dogs, dropped one of the throat plate screws on the floor, and lost it down the air vent. (I tried using a fridge magnet to sweep around inside and see if I could get it back, but no luck.)
5. Changing the bobbin case tension (it seemed to unspool more quickly than I imagined from the description in the manual – it was a bit of work to find the sweet spot where it moved without sticking, but wasn’t just falling like happens when you drop a bobbin while holding onto the thread).
6. Back way up near the top of the list: threading and unthreading and rethreading and threading again, lest I was doing something wrong, again and again ad nauseum, pretty much every time I tried anything and it didn’t work, I’d do this again. And then again for good measure. I tried turning the spool the other direction on the spool rod too, just in case that was wrong.
7. Changing the stitch length. That shouldn’t have made such an issue, but it was set to six, so I switched it back to ~2.
8. Fiddling with the presser foot pressure. It seems very tight, regardless of where I set it, but the fabric feeds through nicely regardless.
9. Fiddling with the tension knob – I’ve gone higher and I’ve gone lower, and I still haven’t managed to do any more than what you can see in the picture above.

It was obviously a machine she used, so I do think there’s got to be something I am doing wrong, but I can’t figure out what it is. I haven’t got any spare money at the moment, but I’m a little tempted to take it in somewhere to get it serviced and see if they can’t help me figure it out. It really does need to be properly cleaned (because even after my multiple attempts, I keep finding new bits of dust to fish out of the works every time I open it up) and there was a half an inch of broken needle inside the… well, where you access the bobbin mechanism, so maybe something was damaged by that she hadn’t discovered it yet. Or maybe that’s why the quilt on the frame wasn’t started yet, maybe there was some kind of problem.

I haven’t paid my friend anything for the machine yet – and it was a conditional yes, I’ll take it off your hands, in the sense of being yes, I’ll take it if I can figure it out – but I hate to feel thwarted by a sewing machine. I’ve been sewing for years and years! A piece of machinery, even a complex one, shouldn’t be giving me quite this much trouble!

I’m covered in bees! (Sunday Stash)

Since I’m fabric fasting, more or less, I decided to go back in time, all the way back to early 2010, when I first got a credit card (I resisted for years out of a terror that I’d turn into one of those people with no income but credit card debt in the thousands, but you know… they’re just kind of useful sometimes) and discovered the things you could buy on Etsy! I fished all these out of the stash the other day because I was talking to Mari-Ann/Rockislander about her teal bees fabric (talking to her about how much I want some!) and it reminded me how much I love this collection of Patty Young’s Flora and Fauna.

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I’ve said all over the place that I don’t like fabrics with bugs on them and I may never have told any of you this, but I have a deep-seated, gut-wrenching terror of moths (seriously, if you ever want to see me freak the fuck out, put me in an enclosed space with a moth – of all the things with wings that freak me out, it’s things with fuzzy wings that careen drunkenly around me that bother me the most). But omg I love this fabric.

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If I could get my fingers on the keys to Michael Miller’s kingdom,.. this is the line I’d reproduce. Even just select fabrics – bees, moths, dandelions. But this is the one, definitely. (And from Freespirit, select prints from Mendocino. From Moda… I don’t know. Maybe some old Tula Pink.) If I could find it, I’d buy a yard each of the bee prints (but I probably wouldn’t want to pay what people would be charging these days!). The print is small enough to be useful in all kinds of things and the colours are just gorgeous.

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I don’t love the floral prints. Well, these ones, there were some more daisy like ones too, but I think they might have been just a border fabric and I rarely buy those. Anyway, these flowers are the kind of flowers I draw, because I’m not an artist and big, round, five-petaled flowers are about as complicated as I can manage, but I don’t need to pay someone else to make them for me.

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A couple years ago I completely randomly found a couple bolts of this line of fabric at Fabricland, which is a Canadian chain which mostly sells not-that-great fabric. But, every so often they’ll pop up with something kind of amazing, like Flora and Fauna fabric 2 years after it’s gone out of print and can’t be found anywhere else. I didn’t buy much of it then because it was my other less favourite print – those big hummingbirds on the left side of this photo and the green print up in the collection of raspberry ones – but I kind of wish now that I’d bought enough to back a quilt with it – it’s a big print that I don’t really want to chop up for other things, you know?

The real question, though, is why didn’t I buy the teal prints when I was buying it? So much love and I never even considered it! (I guess I was poorer then and had to be more choosy about what I bought – I couldn’t get a little of everything.)

Anyway, linking up with Sunday Stash, hosted this week by Alissa at A Stitch in Between:

Molli Sparkles

Sunday Stash: The end of the Craftsy Mystery Box Saga

I said last week that this week would be my Post of Shame wherein I’d show you all the yards and yards of fabric I bought in my half-day long rebellion against the Fabric Diet. But it hasn’t all arrived yet, so I’m going to wait another week (the stuff from Hawthorne Threads should arrive this week) and try to do it all in one big post of Yeah, I Tried. Until I Didn’t. And Then This Happened. Instead we’ll go back to Craftsyland…

FreeSpirit Garden FQ pack

I mentioned last week that the saga of the Craftsy Mystery Box of Ugly Fabric had to come an end. I’d been waiting for them to send me 6 more Fat Quarters to complete the Mystery Box of Horrors (since it had only contained 44 out of 50 Ugly Fabrics it was supposed to contain). I’d been corresponding with someone at Craftsy called Bob and that FQ pack is what he sent — 20 FQs rather than the 6 random ones I’d been expecting.

I said in that last post that it wasn’t something I’d have picked out for myself, but that I liked some of it quite a bit. Here’s a closer look at what was in that bundle, which is called Garden and is by FreeSpirit fabrics. There’s no other information on the selvedge (about a designer or production year or anything), so that doesn’t feel like much information, but it’s what I’ve got!

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This is my favourite print and I like it in both colours (though I prefer it in teal). I think these ones will work in my Gypsy Wife quilt pretty well.

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This kind of paisley-like one is called Floret apparently. You’ll see most of these are kind of busy in a way I don’t often buy — a lot of colours and a lot of pattern.

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This is my least favourite of the bundle – it just feels… I don’t know. Too sketchy compared to the others, maybe? The print is called Oasis.

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I didn’t really care for this one – Promenade – to begin with, but I’m starting to come around on it a little. I like it best in the teal, but it’s not too bad.

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I wish the colours in this one were clearer and brighter, they feel a bit greyed out to me. Anyway, this is Terrace.

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I never really love border prints – Field Double Border – but I think this could have made an interesting (insane) apron or something along those lines. Or a pillowcase.

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And finally Courtyard, a big old crazycakes print.

I do have some thoughts on the use of these – a couple of them might wind up mixed in with the General Population part of my stash, but I’m thinking I might maybe chop this up into 5-inch squares (or maybe I’ll figure out something better divisible by the size of a Fat Quarter) and turn it into another wonky star quilt (with white stars) or maybe just plain patchwork squares quilt. I don’t know, we’ll see!

Anyway, one more bit of fabric, and that’ll be something I swapped with someone on Instagram — no money changed hands and I sent away a little more fabric than I got back in return, so I figure it doesn’t break my Fabric Fast rules…

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This is a Stof print, Vine Stripes in purple and white from Pure. I traded this for about a yard of Joel Dewberry stuff I had but couldn’t see myself using. I like how simple and graphic this one is.

Linking up with Sunday Stash, hosted this week by at Kate Quilts:

Molli Sparkles

Last December Stash

Okay, so… usually Sunday Stash posts are fun ones to write – who doesn’t love showing off brilliant new fabric?

Here’s some brilliant new fabric:

Joel Dewberry Bungalow

It’s a gorgeous bit of Bungalow by Joel Dewberry. (Did you see what I did there, letting part of the selvage show with just that bit of info? Inspired, says I.) This, as with everything I’m going to show you today, came from Craftsy. It was the fabric selection for the December Stitch-along workshop. I don’t know if I’ll use this for the intended projects, but if I were still buying fabric, I’d be buying a whole lot more of this. Love it. The fabrics, from the left, are Swallow Study in Teal, Doily in Grassland, Zigtone in Grassland, Dainty Daises in Lavender, and Empress in Grassland. The daisy print isn’t my favourite, but I love the colours so much (and how it fits in with the rest of the prints) that I really don’t care that I don’t like the actual floral print. It just works together.

New rotary cutter...

I also picked up this rotary cutter. I’ve been a Fiskars user my entire quilting life and I love my Fiskars cutter, but a lot of people really seem to love the Olfa products so I decided to try one out. I’d tried Olfa years (and years!) ago and hadn’t liked the way the handle felt in my hand, and I think I still prefer the shape of my Fiskars cutter, but this one isn’t so bad really. My biggest issue with it is that I find the locking mechanism kind of… counter-intuitive, maybe. Whatever it is, I never remember to close it after using it. And I dropped an open rotary cutter on my foot once, so I’m usually extremely careful with closing the blades. Maybe it’s because the button on my Fiskars cutter is right by my thumb, so it’s just instinct at this point to shut it, but this one I have to kind of go out of my way to close and it just doesn’t happen a little too often.

Anyway, you may have had the impression from my opening line that this wasn’t going to be a good happy fun post full of good happy fun fabric. And your impression would be right. Because at the same time I bought the gorgeous Bungalow fabric and that nice cutter, I also bought a 50 fat quarter Mystery Box.

Worst ever fabric purchase?

I don’t, as a general rule, buy things that I can’t see first. If I don’t know what I’m getting, generally I’m not going to bother. Too much risk, and I’m not much of a risk taker. But Craftsy had them on for a good price and I thought… well, I like most of what Craftsy sells, fabric-wise; not all of it, certainly, but more than enough. It didn’t seem like such a bad risk, because even though I assumed they’d be selling 50 FQ they hadn’t otherwise been able to sell, surely it’d be part crap, but also part good.

It wasn’t.

What I didn’t know, and what most people probably don’t know, is that Craftsy doesn’t compile their Mystery Boxes themselves. They come to them from their manufacturers, with a set value. This box contains X-amount of fabric/products, but no guarantee as to what those products actually are. So even though I think I probably like, say, 80% of the fabric Craftsy is selling, the Mystery Box might not actually contain anything Craftsy sells at all. It comes from the same manufacturers as their existing products, but that doesn’t mean there is ANY overlap at all. This is what I got:

Mystery Box Fabric
Mystery Box Fabric
Mystery Box Fabric
Mystery Box Fabric
Mystery Box Fabric

Now, the particularly detail oriented among us might be thinking, But wait, didn’t you say it was a 50 FQ box? There weren’t 50 FQs there! And you’d be right, not only did I get fabric so ugly not even a (grand)mother could love it, they also sent me 6 fewer ugly FQs than I was supposed to get.

(Okay. My grandma would probably love some of this.)(I don’t despise all of it. Most of it, but not all of it. The aqua with white circles from Laura Gunn is okay and the elephants are cute enough. Some of the more blendable fabrics will be usable chopped up and mixed into other things.)

You might be wondering what became of this. Did I contact Craftsy to complain, how did they react, etc. I did contact them and let them know how disappointing it was to not only get a box full of fabric I didn’t like, but that there was less of it than there was supposed to be. It took a day or two, but they did get back to me and had this to say:

Thanks for taking the time to reach out to Craftsy, I hope your having a wonderful day! I would love to answer any questions your having regarding your recent purchase of the Craftsy Mystery Box.

When customers buy our Mystery Boxes we can’t guarantee that every customer will be 100% satisfied with the colors and patterns of the fabric. We can guarantee that the fabric will be of the highest quality from our manufacturer. Our manufacturer puts these Mystery Boxes together so even we don’t know what colors and patterns they contain. They do try to add colors and patterns that they feel people will enjoy and use.

That particular Mystery Box did come with 50 Fat Quarters for you to use for any of your future projects. I have mentioned your feedback to our ecommerce team who will follow up with our vendor to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again. We do want to make sure that our members are getting exactly what they paid for. If you’d like I’d be happy to send you 6 more fat quarters to complete your order.

Typically, we do not accept any returns on Mystery Boxes. But if you are totally unsatisfied with the fabric in general I will make a one time exception and accept a return for you.

[…]

In the meantime and as a token of my appreciation I would like to offer you a free class. If you could please let me know if there is a course you are interested in I would love to enroll you in it for free. Please let me know and if you have any other questions, I am always happy to help.

I found myself in a bit of bind after that because one of the things my parents were very big on was Personal Responsibility and in this case, I paid a lower price based on the higher risk of not getting any choice on the contents of my Mystery Box. Personal responsibility says that I need to accept the consequences of my actions, so long as I get what I actually paid for, and they did offer to send out an additional 6 FQs to complete the order. Which is why, as tempting as it seems to return the box full of ugly, I didn’t. I requested they send out the fabric (if it’s en route or not, I don’t know – the specific person I was corresponding with has said that he will “do [his] best to pick out something more to [my] liking that way it’s something [I’ll] want to use” but didn’t mention a timeline) and accepted a free class. (Which might be the easiest offer they’ve got, when a customer is unhappy. I picked the most expensive class on my wishlist. Because I might believe in taking responsibility for my actions, but at least I’m going to get something hopefully good out of the deal!) Another part of the reason for keeping the box was just the shipping costs – it was $15 to have it sent to me and it would have been about $20 to send it back. If I had taken the return option, not only would I have felt guilty for not accepting the consequences of my decision to buy, but I ALSO would have spent $35 for guilt plus nothing concrete. That’s a lot of money to spend on negative feelings – I can generate that kind of stuff for free!

So that was my exciting Craftsy purchase that I was so anxiously awaiting all those weeks after Christmas. Sigh.

But hey! Come back next week to see what the Gods of Gift Certificates and Quilt Backs brought for me. Because that, at least, was a fun purchase, and I love every bit of it.

Which is a good segue into the How Am I Doing on My Fabric Fast portion of this entry. Answer? Not bad. I did make one really big purchase in January — come back next week to see it! — BUT I didn’t break any of my rules to do it. I had a gift certificate from Christmas to spend, so I did that, and I bought the backing for a quilt I haven’t shown here. It’s a completed top, and my rules allowed for purchasing border and backing. No border necessary, but I did need something for the back and now I’ve got it. I think my February goal will be finishing up that quilt. (I might tie it. Probably.)

Linking up with the Fabriholics Anonymous January Check-in at Making Rebecca Lynne and Sunday Stash at Molli Sparkles Sarah Quilts:

FabAnon
Molli Sparkles

First Snow of the Year (and a bit of Sunday Stash)

First snow of the year. Ugh.

I don’t know who the people are in this video – presumably whoever uploaded the song to YouTube. The music is First Snow of the Year by Hawksley Workman. He had a fun album several years ago called Almost a Full Moon, which was partly a Christmas album, but also contained a few songs like this that are more about the experience of winter than necessarily the holidays. Anyway, I was working on a mix cd with some autumn songs on it (including Hawksley’s gorgeously melancholy song Autumn’s Here), but too late for that, I guess!

Anyway, fabric! Surprisingly, I don’t have new stash to share. (Also thankfully? Well, my credit card thanks me. The credit card company probably doesn’t.) What I’m showing you today is something I bought a little while ago, but there was such an influx of fabric at the time (I tend to shop when I’m depressed, and this fall was a bit of a miserable one for various reasons – it’s something I’m aware I do and I try to combat it because it’s such a useless, pointless exercise and one that typically leaves me feeling worse because it feels wasteful to spend money on unnecessary things and, well, I’m sure you’re aware how negative thoughts can spiral) that I never ended up talking about it.

Stash stash stash

So this fabric all came from a shop on Etsy called Sew Fine Fabric. This shop is kind of unique in that her shipping to Canada is so reasonable, it’s almost like purchasing fabric from a local shop. (Seriously: 4.50 US$ flat rate to Canada. Unless you a request a custom order that is over 4 lbs, which price she doesn’t mention except to say that it’s still cheaper than standard.) Some of her fabrics might be a touch more expensive than elsewhere (probably to off-set the shipping costs), but I think it still comes out better for the average Canadian shopper than almost any other shop I’ve seen out of the US.

"Floret" in Raspberry from New Leaf Collection by Daisy Janie

This shop focusses a lot of organic fabrics, which is something I don’t buy a lot of. I have a bit of it, here and there, but it is quite expensive and that does put me a off a little. Still, I loved the colour of this print: “Floret” in Raspberry from New Leaf Collection by Daisy Janie. Lovely. (It didn’t photograph particularly well – it looks most like itself in the first shot with all the fabrics.)

Circle and Square Stitch from Michael Miller

And then there’s the well loved Circle and Square Stitch prints from Michael Miller. They’re just fun fabrics (and I gave away a chunk I had in orange) and I think they’ll be useful for a lot of things, so there they are.

Starcomb from Curious Nature by Parson Gray

And finally some Curious Nature. These are actually two different Starcomb prints, one of them has a kind of blueish-grey background and the other a… kind of greenish stone grey. I guess I shouldn’t have photographed them together. I was thinking that while I’ve got plans for a quilt for my mom and my sister (and a finished top for my younger sister), I’ve never put too much thought into a quilt for my dad. So Parson Gray/David Butler, right? I don’t think my dad would turn up his nose at anything I made him, even if I made him a pink floral quilt like I made for my grandma, but I might as well aim in a slightly more masculine direction, right?

And now I’m going to start pressing fabric – running the iron and having billowing steam (not that I will – my nearly brand new Rowenta iron has started leaking water from the base, so I’ve been running it water free the last few days) might warm me up a bit!

Mini (mini!) Calgary Shop Hop

I had family up last weekend (Thanksgiving in Canada!) for four days, but somehow that four day stay magically turned into seven days! Which seriously messed with my blog posting schedule! Sorry Mum and Dad, you’re too distracting! Why can’t you let me get on with my busy Internet-time-wasting schedule, like god and nature inten…. oh right. Anyway, my parents, younger sister, and grandma all came out for four days – a longer than usual trip because they were dropping my grandma off at the airport on the fourth day (Tuesday) so that she could fly further west to visit my aunt/cousins in BC. But then my sister was leaving for India for three weeks (work trip) on Thursday, so when my brother-in-law wound up in hospital on Monday (personal information short, he had a couple head wounds, one of which required stitches, and he was left with a concussion and some woozy-making drugs) for several hours, my parents decided to stick around until Saturday to make sure he’d be okay. They ended up leaving Friday because bro-in-law swore he’d be okay (they were concerned that he’d go to work and be too pained/tired/drugged up to drive home – it’s a very long drive to his work) and that he’s got several co-workers in the neighbourhood who could drive him home if necessary. (But then he’s solved the potential issue by just not going to work.)

In any case, since they were here for so long, they decided to spend Thursday doing whatever I wanted. Because I don’t have a car, there are a lot of parts of the city I just never get to (in fact, I don’t go anywhere more than about 2 stops beyond the train stop that gets me to work, 99 days out of 100), so they figured… hey, let’s take Kristel wherever. Well, there was no where I needed to go, so I decided we’d go to a couple quilt shops. Just two, because I had to work a night shift on Thursday and needed to get some sleep beforehand.

So first we went to Traditional Pastimes. I’d never been to this store before. Once, when I first moved here, but after I had a job and could afford to waste money on fabric (rather than just on food and shelter) my mom and I went on a day-long shop hop in Calgary, but we ran out of time before we made it to Traditional Pastimes – it was the last store on the list and traffic was so slow on the way up that it got too late and the store would have been closed before we made it there. With the whole no-car thing I never went there afterwards because I assumed the transit would be ridiculous – probably in the neighbourhood of an hour’s trip one way. Ridiculous!

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I wasn’t going to buy much of anything, but I let myself talk myself into things. Too many things. Lovely things.

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Two very different patterns. The stitchery one is very… not to my taste. But my mum loves it, so I’m hoping to make a wall-hanging for her with it. I’ll likely change the ‘Spring’ caption at the bottom to just ‘Welcome’ since I didn’t also buy the other 3 season stitches. (And they’re costly patterns, nearly $20 just for the one pattern! They do come with an iron-on transfer, but I think $8-15 is pretty standard any more, at least with more modern patterns, so $20 felt expensive.) The Canada flag… I don’t know. I’ve kind of wanted it and talked myself out of it before because it’s just raw edge appliqué and I feel ripped off (even at $8) paying for an appliqué pattern I could very easily draft myself. But I decided in favour of supporting Cheryl Arkison, even though I think it’s too simple a concept really to need a pattern.

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These wool scraps are for a couple different things. The green is for a needlebook I need to make, like, last week. The rest is for the stitchery pattern up above – I decided to do the house and bee-hive with wool appliqué, though the yellow is too bright and so I’m going to have to figure out a way through using a darker colour in the stitching to make it more bee-hive-ish. The houndstooth will be the roof and the grey the house itself.

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There’s a project I haven’t shown you yet (because my parents just. wouldn’t. leave.) which is actually finished and which my sister liked well enough that she would like me to make a larger one for her. I enjoyed making that project – which you can see on Flickr if you like, but which I’m wanting to re-photograph before posting about here – so I think I will make a version of it for her and these dots are going to be a part of the new fabric additions.

I find it quite interesting that Traditional Pastimes sells so many rolls of long quarters of fabric. The fat quarter has really taken over the world of small cut sizes, so it felt kind of strange to see so many long quarter cuts in the store. Still, without delving too deeply into the bolts they had on display, I would venture a guess that they tended to stock more in the small to (maybe) medium size print range, rather than anything very large scale, so the long quarter works out well enough. And for this quilt project, I need the full width of fabric anyway, so the long quarter was perfect.

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I dithered over this for a long time, picking it up, putting it back, picking it up, putting it back. When Tula Pink’s Acacia line came out, I didn’t think I liked it very much. I made exactly zero plans to buy any of it (and I’m a long time Tula Pink fan), but seeing it in person, in this particular combination of prints/colours, I found myself liking it quite a bit more than I previously thought I did. And now I’ve got to figure out what to do with it! I think it’s pretty awesome, but… I need some plan. I can’t keep stock-piling all her fabric and never using it!

As for the store, should any of you decided to hit up Calgary quilting stores: I think I might like it best of all the Calgary shops I’ve been in (I still haven’t been to all of them, but I have been to most). It sort of feels right to me, in an older building with creaky wooden floors and beautiful things everywhere and bolts and bolts of fabric. They stock a lot of fabrics that aren’t particularly to my tastes, but they did have a nice selection of lines I did like, as well as a fair number of solids, and a lot of books with pretty widely ranging styles. Neither of the ladies I saw working there came up to greet me or offer me help, but that’s not something that bothers me – I prefer to find someone if I need help, and one of them spoke at length to my Mum and the other was helping someone find The Perfect Fabric, so it’s not like they weren’t occupied (at least part of the time). When I did go to pay for my purchases, I talked for quite a while with the lady at the till, which was nice. We commiserated over not much liking Cheryl Arkison’s newest book (sorry, but lifestyle books from pretty much anyone are not my thing, they just make me throw up huge Eff Off signs because oh, for fuck’s sake, get over yourself and your favourite recipes. I’m happy to see a blogger post things like that, but I don’t ever, ever want to pay anyone to offer me tips on how to live my life) and talked about how compelling Acacia is even though we didn’t much think we’d like it (she liked it better once she saw it in use, I liked it better once I saw it in the real world rather than just online). Anyway, she was nice to talk to and that was a bonus.

After that, we went to a quilt shop I’ve been to before, Out of Hand. If you’ve ever been there before, I’m about to make the most obvious of puns, but their stock situation is entirely out of hand. The first time I went there, I was afraid to walk down the “aisles” because there was so much fabric EVERYWHERE that I felt like the entire store was going to collapse in on me. This time it was a little more pared back, but still pretty, um,… overwhelming. I couldn’t tell you what types of fabric they sell there because there was so much to look at you could go down the same aisle three times and see something different each time. One of the ladies who was working spoke to me twice to see if I needed a hand, which was fine, but then she kept wandering by where I was looking at things and staring at me, which sort of made me feel like she thought I was either hiding an ice cream cone in my pocket and intending to maliciously drip all over everything or else like she thought I was planning to steal a bolt or two and felt she had to keep an eye on me. Maybe it was nothing nefarious, but who knows where thoughts come from, they just appear, and that’s the thought that came to mind with her. The lady at the till also seemed… I don’t know. Off in some way. She didn’t greet me, she just took my fabric, wrote out the receipt, then put it on the counter and said “there’s that then” and then rang the total into the debit machine and put that on the counter and said “there’s that” and then put all the fabric in a bag and put that on the counter and said,.. you guessed it, “and there’s that.” She didn’t say goodbye or thank you or fuck off and never return or anything at all. Just “and there’s that.” I don’t know if someone had a burr up their bum, but I certainly didn’t feel welcomed (which wasn’t the case the first time I shopped there – the owner was present that time and she was lovely). And I rather regretted spending nearly $80 there. (Which, as I said, the owner wasn’t present and when I met her, she had a nice long conversation with me about finishing projects and using long-arm quilters and all sorts of things. I’m can’t remember what if anything I bought on that first visit, but we still went away feeling we’d had something enjoyable out of it besides the adventure of possibly dying in a fabric avalanche.)

In any case, fabric:

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I started out just with these red and blue fat quarters and I was planning not to buy anything else, but I found (down an aisle I’d been in twice) the 1 yard remnant of the green comma fabric. And then .9 yards (metres?) of the grey pin dot fabric (also from Comma, I think) and the fat quarter of the grey comma fabric. Then I found a rather pretty stack of green and blue fat quarters:

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I didn’t think I liked Florence very much, and I still think some of the prints are kind of ugly, but they’re the kind of ugly that plays really well together. I think it could turn into something quite interesting, if I can figure out how to use it. So purchase wise, it was a pretty successful trip. Even if it was kind of unsuccessful from a comfort level. And unsuccessful from a Stop Buying Fabric Until You Start Using Fabric perspective. I think I need to take an inventory of all the fabric I own, and then start keeping a Fabric In, Fabric Out chart.

Finding Fifth

Linking up with Sunday Stash at Finding Fifth: