Work-in-Progress Girl

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Talk to Me Tuesday: 23 May 2017

Well, I haven’t updated in a while, but I’m well past due. I don’t get around to it all that often these days, but occasionally I make craft videos along with a group of friends who post weekly craft videos as a part of Talk to Me Tuesday. We started out on Livejournal here and now some of us are cross-posting our videos at a new WordPress location here.

In which I show an improv sewing machine cover-to-be and some quilt blocks.

The Antique Tile blocks are made using Trinket fabric (and some Basics) from Cotton + Steel. The red and white blocks are my three more of my Paper Piecing Vintage blocks – I’ll try to post about this one of these days! The pattern and quilt-along can be found at



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.


Hedgie Fabric Basket

Well, I talked last week about what I got in the Modern Scrappy Bits Swap on Flickr, so I guess it’s time I talked about what I sent away. I didn’t take pictures of everything that went into the package, but honestly the thing I made was far and away more interesting than the rest of it. (Fabric scraps, some embroidery stuff, and some crocheted bits and bobs.)

Hedgie Fabric Basket

Is this not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? The hedgehog pattern was created by Sonja Callaghan, and can be found at her website Artisania. I’ve made this one before (as a postcard) and I just love it ridiculously.

My swap partner had a lot of things made using Sonja’s patterns favourited on her Flickr and also a lot of hedgehog things, but strangely none of Sonja’s hedgehogs, so I thought it would be a great direction to go in for her. (The package hasn’t arrived yet, but she did comment enthusiastically on the one picture I put up on Flickr, so I’m glad to know she likes it!) She had requested a fabric basket, so I made use of Ayumi’s fabric basket tutorial, though obviously I didn’t do it patchwork style and I used the larger sizes recommended at the bottom of the post.

Hedgie Fabric Basket

I somehow managed to take no really good pictures of the hedgehog, but here’s the best I’ve got. The fabrics for Hedgie are both from Art Gallery fabrics – such beautifully soft fabric to work with! I had loosely planned to make a sky blue background (using some Kaffe Fassett crossweave fabric that I’d ordered), but I wound up using some Essex Linen instead, which I really like the look and feel of, but which holds a wrinkle like nobody’s business. I’m not sure why I didn’t, but I wish I’d done more quilting on this part of the basket, since it would have given it a bit more body so that it’d stand up a little stiffer, and maybe it’d have disguised some of the wrinkled bits, at least a bit.

Hedgie Fabric Basket - embroidery

Hedgie wasn’t any too big, so I added some button flowers to fill in some space, but somehow left a big gaping blank area beside that – it started to bother me when I took my first round of pictures, and so I had to add – after it was completely constructed and lined – the other embroidery flowers to fill in some of that empty space. It’s all super simple, straight stitches and lazy daisy leaves and French knots in the centres of the flowers. (One of them, alas, is falling apart – it was HARD doing a French knot when I couldn’t stab all the way through the fabric. I don’t recommend it.) Anyway, not a half-bad way to fill in some space, although I’d have loved to have done something more complicated, rather than something so simple. I really need to learn to think things through before finishing them and then going back to fix them afterwards!

Hedgie Fabric Basket (back view)

The back of the basket is more simple and plain, just a bit of a forest scene. I freehand drew out the fabric tree and then paper-pieced it, and after that, just kind of winged it as far as the rest of the trees went. I had loose plans to add a bird to the tree on the right, but couldn’t seem to figure out the scale, so I scrapped that idea. It is pretty plain and feels like it could use some colour, but I still like this side anyway. It’s sort of quiet and restrained. It’s all back-stitching and lazy daises (for the leaves, again), though this side was done using crewel wool rather than embroidery floss (which is what I used for the flowers).

Hopefully it’ll arrive soon and hopefully my recipient will love it!

Although I’d used some scrap fabrics for the hedgie basket, I didn’t feel like I’d used enough, so I also made a second fabric basket (same tutorial, smaller size), but I didn’t wind up sending it. It would have fit in the envelope, but it would have almost doubled the mailing price (WTF Canada Post, WTF), and I couldn’t swing it right then. Sigh. Anyway, here is that second basket, which right now is home to the cutting utensils on my sewing desk. Someday I may mail it away to someone, but I couldn’t say who or when or if at all. Maybe I’ll just decide to keep it.

Mini Scrappy Fabric Basket (back)

This one is just a plain scrappy basket, using colours that approximately matched the fabric I used on the base of the basket.

Mini Scrappy Fabric Basket (front)

I did quite a lot of quilting on this basket, and it stands up much better than the larger one. It probably helps that it is so small though too.

Mini Scrappy Fabric Basket


Fabric Postcards for Postcard Swap

It occurs to me somewhat belatedly that not only have I not been updating anything here, but that I’ve got a little backlog of finished items to post. I’ve always been a bad blog writer because I get so easily bored, but normally at least I put up the finished stuff, even if I don’t get around to talking about what’s going on in between. (Right now: working on my very first quilting project, stitching the birds and then picking them out and then stitching them again and then picking them out…)

Anyway, I’ve done another fabric postcard swap at my Livejournal group (Fabric Postcard Swap). (You can see what I sent out for previous swaps here and here.) When I started planning to do another swap, I was working on some little embroidery patterns, just to practise my stitches, so two of the cards here definitely feature that.

Jellyfish embroidered fabric postcard

This was my second practise piece, but it’s my favourite of the two! Love the jellyfish! It’s done with satin stitch, stem stitch, and some unfortunate French knots. The pattern came from a Sublime Stitching craft pad. Usually when I’m making fabric postcards, I wind up using whatever scraps are at the top of my pile, and that’s pretty true with this card too, as the background of it (and the other embroidery card) is using some Moda Crossweave fabric, which I’m currently using in a Block of the Month from Sew, Mama, Sew.

Hello embroidered fabric postcard

This was the other heavily embroidered card. There are tons of things I’d change about it if I could, well, not tons, but some of the stitching anyway, but I still like the idea of it even if not the execution. The worst bit about it is that it looks really dirty. I’d decided to use fusible batting (June Taylor fusible) to ease the quilting process and ironing it brought up beads of glue. So not impressed. I use paper backs on my cards, rather than fabric, so I couldn’t wash it (which would probably have gotten rid of the glue). I don’t know what I’ll do with the rest of that fusible batting. I’d used some of it for a table runner, and it brought up beads of glue with that too, but it was washable, so it didn’t turn out to be a very big deal, but I mostly have fairly small bits of it left. I hate to throw things away, so maybe I should just turn the iron down low if I use it for additional postcards and hope that’ll solve the problem.

This card actually disappeared in the mail, so it never reached its intended recipient. Annoying. (Despite all the shit talk people say about Canada Post, it happens so rarely, so it’s extra frustrating when it does.)

Hedgehog fabric postcard

Hedgie was probably my favourite card just because it’s so stinking cute. It’s paper pieced using a Sonja Callaghan pattern, which you can find at her blog Artisania. I had a world of trouble with Hedgie’s feet, but I don’t think it’s particularly noticeable (unless you’ve got the pattern in hand and can see where I decided to wing it paper-free). I didn’t want to deal with the small bit of fabric for his nose, so I embroidered that on when I did his eye. The rest of the embroidery was incredibly lazy work – just a few stitches in approximately a butterfly shape, and some very lazy stem stitch for the grass. All the colours for the embroidery were chosen… because they happened to be sitting on my sewing table. The fabrics here are all scraps pulled from my scrap bags – I dug around until I found a strip long enough to make up the whole purple background and the dark brown was a bit of leftover binding strip. I can’t remember where I originally used the lighter brown, it hardly looks like something from MY stash, but there it was.

Abstract fabric postcard

This abstract one was one that started out somewhere entirely different from where it ended up. I’d started out planning to do a turquoise card with thin strips of red running horizontally through it, but then I found the scrap of that Laura Gunn poppy print and decided to use it instead. And then somehow when I was cutting, I wound up cutting all willy-nilly and definitely not all horizontally. Anyway, I kind of like how it turned out, but I am still curious what it’d have looked like if I’d followed my original plan. If I can find enough of those red scrap strips in my scrap bags, maybe I should try it out.

Star Trek fabric postcard

And finally a bonus card, sort of. The embroidered hand postcard disappeared en-route, but the person I was sending it to (Cosmic Twirling) is a fan of Star Trek, so I decided to do the replacement card as a Star Trek insignia. This paper pieced pattern came from Fandom in Stitches and was designed by Jennifer Ofenstein (of This pattern features some rather small little bits, most of which are centred around that star. Three units join up on the left side of the uppermost point, and MAN did my sewing machine hate going over that lump of fabric. The first time I sewed the top unit to the joined middle units, I forgot to do a basting stitch first. I don’t know if this is common amongst paper-piecers, but I always join my units with a basting stitch first and then when I’m sure about my placement, I do it for real. But I forgot, and it was really bad, so I had to unpick miles of tiny tiny stitching (or, you know, five inches) so that I could do it again, just a little bit better. I also accidentally missed an edge of fabric when I pressed one of the narrower pieces around the top, and so it stuck through, raw edges and all, along the right side, so I decided rather than undoing it all and fixing it, I’d just hide it! So that’s the explanation for the embroidered edge (which is split stitch, I think). I’m not a Star Trek fan (I wasn’t allowed to watch as a kid), so I don’t know how it stands up to the REAL insignia, but I’m pretty pleased with how it came out anyway.


Two Little Halloween(ish) Hooters

This is my slightly Halloween take on Ofenjen‘s Two Little Hooters pattern (available for purchase in hard copy here or via instant download here). I haven’t found the right branch yet, but I hope to find a broken branch, stick, or twig to slide into the hanging tabs (which may or may not get stitched down to the back) for hanging on the wall come Halloween season.

This is the first bit of paper-piecing I’ve done in quite a while. It was definitely more complicated than anything I’ve done in the past – typically I’ve done blocks which contain four units that are exactly the same and join together as a four-patch, whereas this is several unusually shaped units that fit together a bit more like a puzzle. But it was a nice reintroduction and not nearly so hard as I thought it would be. I did have some issues with the size where I didn’t get my units joined exactly as they should have been, so it was a touch too big in some places and a touch too small in others, but I was able to finesse things a little to get it together, and the centre came together only about 1/4-in smaller than it was supposed to be.

Because my centre wasn’t the “right” size, I let my brain get all CONFUSED and OMG about the borders and I couldn’t put two thoughts together to figure out how to make the border fit right, so if you go look at Ofenjen’s sample, you’ll see my border isn’t quite the same. Of course, the easy fix was just to make everything exactly as she said to, but then to scale down the length of the striped part of the border, but CONFUSED and OMG as I said, so I wound up whipping together something similar but not quite the same. Regardless, I think it came out pretty well. It’s adorable! And it has owls! Halloweenish owls!

I made this almost entirely with scraps. Both the oranges for the owls were fabrics bought for exchange blocks I’ve made in the past. I don’t know if I ever used the one that looks like bubbles, though I must have, since I fished rather small bits and pieces out of my bag of orange-peach-yellow fabric scraps. The other one, which looks a little like a painting, was bought entirely because it looked like the stars in Van Gogh’s Starry Nights painting (you’d need to see a larger piece to see the resemblance, though). In any case, the blues for the eyes/beaks were also scraps, and the variety of fabrics used for the branches (which were sometimes pieced mid-branch so I wouldn’t have to cut into anything) were all just blue-grey or very pale blue scraps from other previous projects.

The orange batik strips for the border also came from my scrap pile – I used that fabric in a quilt back for a quilt I haven’t shown online in at least 2, maybe 3, years. (I keep meaning to fish that one out and quilt it – the back is ready, the front is ready, I even have batting cut to size…) The binding fabric was the last bit of a Laura Gunn print from her Poppy line, which I used in a quilt top that I haven’t shown here, but isn’t finished anyway. (The top is finished, but I want to get it professionally quilted. Just haven’t made a move to find some one to do it yet.) There wasn’t quite enough scrap left to do the entire binding, so I pieced it with a little of a mottled blue-grey print, which is mostly behind the leaves of that plant in the top picture.

I quilted it all 1/4-in around all the shapes in the quilt, though in retrospect I think I should have gone much closer than the quarter-inch (either in “the ditch” or perhaps 1/8-inch). It works for quilting, even if it is very basic. I’d toyed with the idea of doing something more in the Halloween imagery line – like a big cob-web – using invisible thread, but I do hate working with that stuff, and I didn’t want to detract from the owls themselves.

In any case, I’m really happy with this finish. I think my mom will probably want it when she sees it, and I may even give it to her. (Although I really love that binding fabric and I might not want to give it away just because of that! I could make a dozen more Halloween Hooter wall-hangings, but none of them will be finished quite the same.)

Anyway, I finished this on 15 August 2011, and it’s about 15″x18″ in size. I feel like I’ve been posting more finishes and less Works-in-Progress the last while, but I sort of find it embarrassing when I think of how many unfinished things I have laying around, so I’ve been working harder to get some things done so I can mitigate that embarrassment at least a little. And that can only be a good thing.