Monday, 8 September 2014

My Stop on the "Around the World Blog Tour"

Hi everyone!  Welcome to my little corner of the quiltiverse!  

My friend L, over at Buttons Quilts participated in the blog tour last week and nominated me to take part too.  L is one of those special quilty people that I get to know in real life too (which means we can go fabric shopping together).  She has a really pretty, modern aesthetic to the things she makes and - holy smokes! - can she churn out a quilt or 12 in a jiffy!  Plus, she makes me feel good about myself because her tendency to fabric hoard stash build are bigger than mine....and as long as someone is worse than me, I have plausible deniability about the depth of my own problem!  :)  

I came by quilting quite by accident.  About 6 years ago I asked my parents to buy me a sewing machine for Christmas.  Nothing fancy.  I just was sick of paying to have my work pants hemmed.  It added 12-15 dollars to the purchase price of every new pair of pants I bought.  Grr!  Right?  So anyhoo, I get this newfangled machine (which I can't work) and it sits on my floor for three months.  One weekend, I ask my grandmother to teach me to use it and this look of evil glee spread over her face.  "Sure" she says.  "I'd be glad to" she sings.  Because I was such a beginner, she decides she is going to first teach me to sew a straight line.  She hands me a couple of charm squares and gets me to make a 1/4" seam down one edge.  Mission accomplished.  Then she hands me another so I can "practice some more."  At the end of that week, I had finished my first quilt.  A simple nine-patch with sashing and posts.  I didn't learn how to hem my pants for another year-and-a-half.  Sheesh!

This is the first quilt I ever made -- totally not my tastes now but I still love it.  Its all soft and worn in and delicious.
I am supposed to answer some quilty-related questions so you folks can get to know me, so here goes:

1. What am I working on? 

Um...conquering the quilting universe by creating my own quilt army!  :)  Hehe.  

Okay...aside from that....

I have a few projects on the go.  One is the aviatrix medallion for which I only need to make and attach one more border!
Here it is with border four on -- border five is on, but I like this picture better!

I also am working on putting the last zipper on my Sew Together Bag by Sew Demented.  I made two this weekend - one was for a sewing friend who is injured and couldn't make her own.   This one is for me.  I actually had the zipper on, but its ripped (and I totally didn't notice till I was done!  That drove me to drink!) and so I need to replace it. 

Can I add, this bag is AMAZEBALLS!  Everyone needs one...or seven

I also have to quilt my Swoon Quilt which was part of a summer Swoon-a-long I did with my local quilty friends:

I'm either waiting for divine inspiration before I proceed or for my quilting skills to improve to the point where I feel like I can do this bad boy some serious justice.  Conclusion....not just yet.

And finally, I am working on a simple triangle quilt for my uncle.  He is having hip surgery at the end of October and asked me if I would make him one to lay under while he recuperates.  How can a girl say no to that!?!

Hopefully masculine enough for my manly-man of an uncle.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

Yikes.  This is a hard one.  My default is to say that its not.  I guess its easiest to think about in comparison to the stuff my quilty friends make.  I LOVE big, loud, bold, prints like Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, and Tula Pink...but also the really saturated colours typically used by Alison Glass and I'm the only one of my quilty friends who has this obsession.  I have tastes that are really modern, and not traditional at all.  I also HATE batiks (don't shoot me!).  I have no idea why. 

I think my work differs from others because I don't start with a pattern - my love of fabric means I start with a fabric I can't stop thinking about and I build from there.  Often, I like projects that showcase the fabrics.  I also tend to like to put many fabrics from the same collection together...but I'm making a conscious effort to do that less to force myself out of my comfort zone.  

3. Why do I write/create what I do? 

I have a really intense job as a high school Vice Principal.  I throw myself into it hard-core and it takes a lot of my mental and emotional energy...but it also feeds my soul in an amazing and incredibly indescribable way..  Also, as my friends will attest, I have a really hard time turning off the educator-y/leader-y persona at the end of the day.  Quilting, sewing, and writing about it are a massive outlet for me.  It makes me concentrate on something other than work that is totally unrelated.  Its complex enough that I have to be mentally engaged, but not so taxing that I find it draining.  It also allows me (a REALLY structured and regimented person) to be creative and fun.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

My creat-ing/ive process is actually pretty simple.  As a person, I love a challenge and I love the sense of novelty from  learning new things, so I will most often choose projects that I think are a total challenge.  Hence the Swoon quilt, the Out in Space quilt I finished last August, the Lucky Stars BOM, and the current Aviatrix medallion.  I love starting something and not knowing I can do it well...or at all...and the sense of satisfaction that comes from persevering until it turns out just right.  Like BAM Quilt World, look what I can do!

In terms of writing about it - the easy answer is that my friend L bullies me into it!  Ha!  But honestly, I think I'm most effective when communicating in writing - its like letting folks see what I'm thinking as a large project comes together in stages.  Blogging is a way of keeping myself accountable for the stuff that I've started.  But mostly, I like the pictures and having something to go back and look at later...after someone has given me their puppy dog eyes and made me give away something I started by thinking it would be all mine! 

Okay, now for the fun part - I get to nominate three people whose blogs I read:

First up, is Elaine from Crazy Quilter on a Bike.  Elaine is another person that know in real life -- I believe can do ANYTHING with fabric.  She is an awesome teacher, has tonnes of helpful info on her blog, and has the ability to multi-task like no one else I know.  The greatest part is that even though she is (to me) an absolute expert, she is still so overwhelmingly excited by all things quilty.  I want to be her when I grow up.    

Next is Heather/Winding Bobbins at Crafting... .  I stumbled across Heather's blog about 8 months ago (I think when she was either part of another blog tour or someone who was on that blog tour linked to her).  She's a Canadian blogger (which I love).  What keeps me going back though is her sense of honesty about when she succeeds and/or struggles with a project.

Last, but not least is Katie from Karma Willow Designs.  I really enjoyed her post "10 Quilty Little Secrets" and the pics she put up of an Alison Glass Trunk Show.  I really enjoy her completely egalitarian view of fabric though.  She's not necessarily caught up in the fabric designer fuss and mixes and matches to her heart's desire.

Well, thanks for stopping by and getting to know me!  I hope you enjoy the next blogs!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Sunburst and Aviatrix Deliciousness

I feel like I've been on a bit of a sewing bender lately.  I mean, I understand that I have an addictive personality and all but this is amazing.  I choose to explain it by claiming that I'm just trying to make room for all the fabric I can't help myself from continuing to buy. Um... Ya....That's it....

So my friend Alice moved in with me for a year this summer.  She needs a little something to brighten up her new digs and to give her room some personality and I had a pretty idea brewing in my head based on a picture I saw and wanted to emulate so the perfect occasion was born.  I took a charm pack of Alison Glass's Sunprints that I got in a Quilty Box a while back and some low-volume scraps I had and went to town...

I made some HSTs...64 of them and laid them out in this pretty design, then got to sewing together
You know what two things I loved most about making this project?  Because it was a charm pack, it was pre-cut so I was pretty much able to bang this out in a day.  And second, here is my fabric wastage:
That's it!  HST trimmings were the only wasted bits.  I LOVE that.
I chose an Art Gallery Fabrics Oval Elements in Curry to bind this cuz the contrast with the other fabrics used was awesome.  It measures a finished 32 x 32 inches!  Just need to hand sew the hanging sleeve onto the back and she is ready for the wall!

Happy new room, Alice!
Also, pretty much since I started quilting/sewing I have had the incredible pleasure to attend a quilting retreat at this awesome converted farmhouse called "Quilters Mis Bee Haven" with a group of seven other women once or twice a year.  Its scads and scads of fun and I get to learn and acquire (by osmosis too I think) new skills, tips and tricks from a group of women who have well over a hundred years of collective sewing experience.  That's right - bask in the glory of their awesomeness!  This year, we switched it up a little and went during the summer.  As per usual, it was amazeballs!  I took a couple of projects with me (more because I have unrealistic expectations of my own productivity than anything else) but I pretty much spent ALL of my waking hours on the aviatrix medallion which I had slaved over cutting out all spring long.

The first evening we were there I was able to go to work on the centre medallion. about complicated!  Starch and accurately marking the fabrics were my new best friends.  Those pieces are small and are cut on the bias so there is a lot of potential for stretching.  Just after breakfast the next day, I had the centre done.
Finishing this medallion has been the most satisfying part of the whole experience so far.  I was SO relieved when this was done.
After that I just went to town on the borders.  We were there for five nights and aside from the one day of cooking and cleaning duties, I was free to sew!  And I did.  Often for about 10 or 11 hours a day.  Did anyone say massage? Each border gets a little bigger and more complex and, in my opinion, slightly more awesome!

The first border was all grey-scale HSTs.
Border two was a selected random smattering or intensely coloured stripes:

Then border 3 started to get a little complicated.   This one took me more than a day to complete.  Good thing I had nothing but time!
I could look at this ALL day.  I am loving the solids!
Border 4 was a bit of a relief.  After 19 pieces x 25 blocks that comprised the third border, I was looking for a little chain piecing in my life.

Simple 1 inch squares
And although there were 40 blocks in border 5, I felt they went together pretty quickly and simply.

Getting SOOOOO big!
I was able to get the grey frame on the fifth border before we had to pack up and go home.  I can see light at the end of the aviatrix tunnel!  Only one more border to get on at home and then I can start to contemplate how I will quilt this massiveness.  Five days and five borders strikes me as not too bad of an accomplishment at all.  I will miss the amazing food and the time and space to sew to my heart's content.  

I can't WAIT till next year!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The #Swoon-a-long

Remember that quilting army I have been trying to recruit and arm?  Its really coming together nicely.  Like, so nicely that at some point during the late spring, my quilty friend L (if it wasn't her, I'm just going to blame her because everyone will believe me) came up with the idea that we should all do a quilt-a-long together.  All of us had been eyeing Camille Roskelley's Swoon pattern and had it on our quilting bucket lists.  The block is big, it uses HSTs and Flying Geese units so everyone could make it, and its fat-quarter friendly so we decided our collective summer project would be the #swoonaloing.

I had gone shopping earlier in June for the fabrics I was going to use (pretty sure I have previously posted them) and so after my epic road trip out west I had to come home and put my nose to the grindstone to catch up with my friends.   The blocks are 24 inches square and a full quilt uses 9 blocks.  This is an epic undertaking but by the time I had my first block done, I knew I was ALL IN!

My first block - these fabrics are Waterfront Park by Violet Craft and I LOVE the colour combo!
I was only mildy interrupted by a mid-July work trip and a five-day sleepover party with my niece during which movies were watched, pictures were coloured and Disney Stores were attended.  Massive digression here - Look what she made!!!!!!!!

This is her first sewing project!  She made her very own pencil case.  Selected her fabrics, helped cut, practiced her straight lines and went to town!  Now her vast array of markers have their very own home.

People, I'm not gonna lie.  My quilting army is now multi-generational!  Okay, okay, back to the swoon... Before she arrived, I was able to get five blocks finished.  While she was here, I kinda decided that it would be easier to chain piece the last four of the blocks for the swoon all at once.  I took advantage of pony-colouring time to mark up and organize my fabrics so I was off to the races when she went home.

These are all the HST units for the remaining blocks.  Nothing prettier than a gigantic stack of in-progress blocks!
I think by the end of that day, I had all the blocks finished and instagrammed!

Here are all nine blocks finished - in no particular order.
I had to move all my living-room furniture out of the way so I could get enough space to lay out this monster and figure out which ones I wanted to put where.   I was pretty motivated to see what it would look like when it was finished so within a couple days I had the top finished.

Super happy with the way it turned out!
And extra bonus! I decided to save up and gather all the corner cut offs from the flying gees units to see how many I would have.  I thought I could turn them into HSTs pretty easily since they were already matched up and the same size.  I chain pieced the entire pile and ended up with 144 2.5 inch blocks.  Not too shabby!

Can I admit that I was not looking forward to pressing and trimming this ginormous stack?!?
At the end, I have this 24.5 x 24.5 inch thing of loveliness that I will turn into a wall hanging or a big, floppy cushion, or that I may keep and see what else I can add to it.  

Not gonna lie - this makes me seriously happy to look at! to quilt the Swoon.....

Friday, 15 August 2014

Summer VACATION!!!!

I know I have been REALLY negligent on the blog lately....but only cuz I have been having the most epic summer.  I thought, as my August begins to wind down and the new school year looms that I would recap (in the most chronological order I can remember) just what I got into throughout the summer.

As soon as the school year ended I HAD to celebrate so I went over to see my friend Stephanie - whom I have known since I was about 5 - and a couple other long-term friends.  She is an AMAZING photographer.  I thought instead of a traditional hostess gift I would make her something.  I ended up on a boxy pouch she could use to store...well....anything she wants, really.  :)

I used the tutorial by Pretty Modern but there are a TON out there - really, all you need to do is google "Boxy Pouch"
The pouch uses my very first on-line fabric order of Katy Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt both inside and out.  If only I knew back then what a ridiculous fabric hoarder I would become. *sigh*

The day after our throwback celebration, I took my newly converted quilt-army recruit and her visiting sister on a fabric shopping extravaganza! I was thinking - no problem - let them go nuts buying stuff and sit back and watch and enjoy....but have you seen the 7.99 room at Sew Sisters?!?!  Its an Art Gallery Fabrics lover's dream!  And really, who am I to keep dreams from coming true.

Did I mention I had also ordered about this much from them not two weeks earlier?  I'm disgusting.  
Next up, a few days after the year ended I headed out west with my BFF for her national competition.  Totally insane dummy that I am, I promised her if she made nationals, that I would make her a new competition suit.  She made nationals.  I made the suit.  At the end of the school year.  While trying to turn over the school year.  Seriously people - I need to be medicated.

All of those crystals are individually added.  I was cross-eyed for three days after I finished.  She looked epic though! 
So to avoid keeping you in suspense - she came 6th!  In the country!  She exceeded every personal goal she set for herself before the competition!  So proud!  We took full advantage of being most of the way across the country to make a road-trip vacation of our experience.  We went to Jasper and Banff and made sure to stick our toes in Lake Louise.  We came back through the states and ended up driving through Wisconsin. Since we were there I KNEW I had to make it out to the Sewcial Lounge.  You know, since I live vicariously through it online and through Jeni Baker's Blog and all.

I would like to admit that I have no self control.  Isn't the first step in addressing an addiction, admitting that you have a problem?  Hehe.  How could I pass this up?  A little Jeni Baker, some Amy Butler, a few fat quarters of Mormor and a nice rounding out of Terra Australis!  And I was on vacation people!  Cripes.  I need a bigger house.

Tell you what - I won't even tell you what I bought when I went to New York City.  If you hear me whispering "Anna Maria Horner" or "Pretty Potent"....just don't pay attention.  That's right shoppers...move along.  Nothing to see here.

One last step on the vacation trail - I finished cutting out the crap-load of pieces for the aviatrix medallion.  In fact, the occasion was so monumentous, that I had to immortalize the last freaking step!  288 template pieces.
All ready to start sewing!
So that's what I did on summer vacation -- what kinds of trouble did you get into?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Hi-Jinx - A finish!

I am not sure how it started...but whatever it was that was slowing me down over the winter seems to have left my system cuz now I'm cooking with gas!  School has been kind of easing up as the year winds down and so I have been contemplating all of the stuff I want to guys...ACTUALLY DOING IT!!!  Friday evening, I pulled out the fabrics I got back in December to make my friend Brent a house-warming present.  In fact, over the Christmas break from school I even drafted out the quilt.  Well, he's been in the house for about eight months now and his birthday was looming so I finally pulled it together to make him a quilt.

Remember this?  From January?  Finally got to work on it!
The pattern isn't too complex so I was able to cut out all my fabric pieces on Friday evening after work.  That way, when I woke up at the ungodly hour of 7:30 on Saturday morning (I recall, with great nostalgia, being able to sleep in till noon in my twenties) I was ready to start.  By mid-afternoon I had all my blocks done!
These colours REALLY pop against the dark grey background.  Loves it!
I was so productive, I was able to lay it all out and start piecing the rows together by evening!  When I got up this morning - again at 7:30 (super Grr!), I only had to finish piecing the last two rows.  Then, by lunch-time, I only had a couple of seams left.  Woot!
Last seam -- ever notice how much you're just gunning to get finished by the end?
So...early this afternoon....voila!  I'd like to introduce you to "Hi-Jinx."  My friend Brenty's 40th birthday present quilt!  This monster is a tad on the large side at 81 x 90 inches.  It was so large I couldn't quite manage to get it all in one photograph - even standing on the damned furniture.  Should be fun to ya...real fun.  :0

Also, in other quilty news, I went on a tiny shopping trip to Greenwood Quiltery last Friday with my new sewing-army convert.  You know, I only managed to spend all my grocery money for the next two weeks.  But...worth it!  I picked up all the fabrics for the Swoon-a-long my friends and I are going to tackle this summer.  Lots of Violet Craft Waterfront Park which has these lovely, happy, summery colours, with some Meadow by Leah Duncan and some Art Gallery Squared Elements for fun.  
Maybe not the greatest and most centred picture but its so pretty I don't care.
Check out the luggage sized bag I hauled out of that store!  I'm equal parts thrilled and embarrassed with myself.

And this is PART of what Camille purchased -- its for the Sew Together Bags we are going to make to help her hone her newly acquired and constantly improving sewing skills.  Her choices are TOTALLY up my alley.  This could be the beginning of a beautiful fabric hoarding relationship!
A little Kaffe Fasset and some hot pink Sketch!  Delish!
K, gonna go and keep riding this wave of motivation!  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Colour Cuts Done #AviatrixMedallion

I'm making slow and sure progress on cutting out pieces for my aviatrix medallion quilt by Elizabeth Hartman at Oh, Fransson!  In fact, tonight I hit a milestone -- I finished cutting out all (8 million) pieces out of the 20 coloured fat quarters that are required...and this thing has templates!  My grandmother has this theory that I seek out new projects based on how much I will be challenged by them.  Like it needs to be wicked hard for me even to be interested.  Maybe she's right.  I mean, the Aviatrix Medallion is so complicated you have to make a legend for all your fabrics.

See?  Here's my legend.  You are supposed to glue the fabric squares on the sheet but I don't have scotch tape to the rescue!
 Here is a delicious rainbowy-goodness look at what the cut up fabric looks like all ready to go for the various borders.
Looking at those delicious colours makes me super happy.
To keep everything adequately organized I am putting each border into a separate Ziploc bag...there are 6 borders in total - then, they all go in a bin so it stays together.  I'm not too far into this but I have a deep, sneaking suspicion that things could get mixed up in a heartbeat if there was no system.

These are all the pieces for border 6 - in order of how the legend goes.  There's NO way I'm going to accidentally sew the wrong colours together
And here are all my pieces and my bin with all my colours cut and ready to go.  All I need to do is cut out the neutral shades of grey and I will be good to get to sewing with this one!

Now, to just put this all back in the bin and I'm ready to roll!
Not gonna lie people, I'm pretty stoked about this one!

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Two Things at Once

I multi-task...a LOT.  In fact, I think being successful at my job even requires it.  However, no matter what I do lately, I can't seem to sew AND blog at the same time.  Jeez.  You get one or the other.  Better yet, you get one....and then a gajillion years later, you get the other.

So I have been sewing.  I haven't gone on some epically long hiatus like I did this winter.  I just haven't taken the time to write about it.  I'm changing that today.  Oodles of catching-up pictures will follow.  I hope you like pictures.  They say a picture tells a thousand words -- if so, this is a novel.

So first up, I was in progress making a birthday present for my new niece who turned 5 a couple weekends ago.

I moved down to the living/dining room so I could use my table to support the weight while I quilted.
 I had the whole top made at the end of April and then...? I let it sit.  So I finally bucked down and basted and quilted all in a single weekend.

My mom and niece tried to hold it up so I could get a picture before I wrangled it into my car for the drive up north.
And here is the happy birthday girl on the day of the celebration -- with her Uncle Punching-Bag.  Weird nick-name - I know.
So cute.  She has apparently been wrapping herself up in it since it was gifted.
The same weekend that I was finishing off Maddie's Birthday Tweet, I FINALLY convinced my friend Camille that she could sew herself a pillow!  Hehe.  Did I mention that I'm trying to create my own quilt army?  I'm taking enlistments!  Anyhoo, she decided to make an alternating cool and warm HST pillow.   First, she waded through my ri-DONK-ulously huge stash of scraps to find 25 warms and 25 cools.  Then, I taught her to use a rotary cutter and ruler to make 3-inch sqaures.  She fastidiously cut out 50 sqaures without getting pissed off and throwing in the towel -- I call that VICTORY #1.   Then, she had to mark her squares.
So patient and precise - a quilter after my own heart!!!!
She then chained pieced them together to make a lovely pile of almost-HSTs.
Chain piecing on the evening 1 of the pillow project -- I had SUCH joy watching her work!  Excuse the picture darkness though.  It was kinda getting late.  
She finished the evening by slicing and pressing her chain pieced units.  And VICTORY #2 -- She hadn't quit yet!  In fact, she was having FUN!!!!  By the next morning, she had this lovely stack of HSTs awaiting her arrival:
These are her 100 HSTs - all stacked and pretty.
Next it was time for her to trim and square them up - she patiently trimmed all those HSTs.  However, that;s not the most epic part -- the most epic part is that she saw fit to go buy her own rotary cutter to facilitate the trimming!  VICTORY #3!!!  Once you have a cutter - that's it - you are hooked!  There's no going back!!!
There's not much better than a satisfying pile of fabric trimmings!
She pieced her HSTs together that day in rows of 10 and then learned to pin and match seams to make her pillow.  By the end of the second day, with an envelope backing hastily pieced by me, she had this GLORIOUS finish!
Its SO AMAZING!!!  I want it -- or she could MAKE me one!  
I'm jealous!  But, the best part?!?!  She wants to make Sew Demented's Sew Together Bag next!  Hook.  Line.  Sinker.  Welcome to the quilt army, C!

Oh ya....and I guess I should add, I have also sewn together super boring curtains for my friend Brent's new place.  I HATE this red fabric.  Don't tell him - he's in love.

And (as per usual) I have been amassing and hoarding collecting fabrics like its my job.  My very fun and very beautiful and calming and satisfying dream job.
The result of a delicious Pink Castle sale.  They were such a good deal, they were practically free....ish.  :)
And thanks to my quilty friend L, who split a Tula Pink Fox Field half-yard bundle with me, I was able to introduce my  Tula Pink Acacia's to their new room mate.
So...see?  All is right in the quiltaverse with me.  Now I have to go and cut out some fat quarters for my aviatrix medallion challenge (I'm onto you L!)