Friday, 30 January 2015

A Labour of Love

It's a finish!

Four years ago, when my daughter was a one year old in a crib sleeping under a tiny quilt, I decided it was time to start working on her big girl bed quilt.  She was growing so fast...

I searched for the perfect pattern and eventually settled on this Darlene Zimmerman beauty.  It would need some tweaking:   I would add a few rows to make it a good twin-size quilt, and switch the green for a nice yellow (although I really, really love that green).  Also, I wasn't crazy about the stars, so I decided to replace them with different appliqués, my way to take a commercial pattern and make it mine.

And so, I began working on my baby girl's big girl bed quilt, making 25-patch blocks and appliqué-ing (is that a verb?) hockey sticks and ice cream cones and cherries and birds...

It was fun coming up with 20 different appliqués

We eventually bought the perfect bed for her room... a double bed.   More tweaking was needed....  the top was almost done, another row here, another column there...

After a few months, the top was complete, and the quilt was basted with the help of a few ladies from my former guild, Mariners Quilt Guild.  Then came the big decision: to machine quilt, or to hand quilt?  Sure, machine quilting would be faster, but hand quilting would be so much more suited to this 1930s inspired quilt.  Plus, I had hand quilted both my sons' bed quilts... so the decision was made.  A decision I would come to regret many, many times.

Over the next few years, I hand quilted while watching hockey practices, gymnastic and karate lessons.  I quilted at the cottage, at guild meetings and sew-ins, and at home.

Favourite chair at the cottage...

This quilt has been everywhere!  to Toronto a few times, to at least three New Brunswick destinations, from airports to airplanes, from rental cars (I wasn't driving) to hotel rooms, even on ferries.

In the middle of the Northumberland Strait...

As much as I love hand quilting, I did not love every minute of hand quilting this quilt.  Sure, I enjoyed some of it, but it got tiresome pretty quickly.  When my daughter eventually got her big girl bed, I was not even half way done and it was clear that it was going to take much more time.  I struggled to find the motivation and I put it away many times, hoping the motivation would return before the 1930s bedroom would need to be updated for a teenager!

Nothing beats the texture of hand quilting...

And there were lots of nagging doubts: Would the darker fabrics bleed?  Would the quilt still fit on her bed?  The hand quilting seemed to shrink those 2" squares by about 1/8" to 1/4", which could mean 5" to 10" over the final size... I did not dare measuring it, it was to late to start again.

I was also bracing myself for a typical small child reaction, something between complete indifference and "I don't want/don't like it".  Truth be told, I wasn't even sure I liked it myself. I really, really had to push myself to see this through to the end.  I am glad I did.

Final stitches...

My daughter is quite oblivious to the amount of time it took to complete this quilt (4/5 of her life), but as I was putting the binding on it, she snuggled next to me and asked whether the quilt was for her.  I had told her before, but this was the first time she really showed interest.  When I said yes, her eyes lit up and she could not wait to get it on her bed.  She did have to wait: after four years of being tossed around in all sorts of places, it needed a good wash! 

I had to get a picture on the hammock even though I just missed the light

I am happy to report that the fabric did not bleed (I am glad I used a colour catcher - it came out very dark), that the quilt still fits the bed (I dried it flat for the most part but tossed it in the dryer for about 10 minutes), and that my daughter loves it.

 And finally, I can say I love it too!

Linking up to TGIFF hosted by Leanne at the Devoted Quilter and Finish Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

housekeeping stuff and one quick quilt

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Pardon the funky codes above, I am "claiming" my blog on Bloglovin.  I am about a year and a half late jumping on that bandwagon...

Since it would seem wrong not to have a quilt on a blog post, I present to you a quickie that I made a couple weeks ago:

Nice print on the front, solid flannel on the back, sandwiched with a nice thick-ish batting and quilted along the natural lines of the fabric. You can see the texture really well on the back.

Now, I have another handmade gift ready for an occasion where a pieced quilt is not necessary! 

I must say I am a bit reluctant to call this a "quilt" and I tend to use "blanket" for these types of (insert appropriate term here) because it is not pieced.  And the term "whole cloth quilt" would seem more appropriate for some handquilted heirloom.  Not sure.  Would you call this a quilt?

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Not bad for a week-end

I've had one of those weeks: the common cold has been making itself at home in our family and the energy levels have not been at the highest.  Thankfully, we did not have too much on the go, and I was able to find some time to quilt.

My biggest victory of the week-end: After weeks, months, years, three to be exact, this quilt is finally hand quilted!

As I have shared before, because the quilting goes in all directions, I had devised a system to keep track of what I had left to do, on a spreadsheet.  Every so often, I would update the spreadsheet to motivate me.  Only 250 more squares!  Only 30 more hours!  Only 123 squares!  Only 12.5 hours!

After I quilted 8 squares today, I sat down to update the chart today, and realized I only had 3 more to do.  I made quick work of that and finally, finally I can call this "beast" done.

Well, it's not finished yet, but it might as well be.  All I have to do is sew the binding on it and it's my very favourite part.  I am not going to rush this... I am going to savour the moment and finally enjoy working on this quilt again.

And speaking of  old, languishing projects, I found these unfinished blocks the other day...

These are paper pieced (not sure what I was thinking) and the white bits are actually the paper background.  Well in one evening, I had 6 more made.  I trimmed them, removed the paper, added the white corners and assembled this top:

It only finishes at 32", so I will add a white border all around to make it a useful crib size.  There was snow outside and a little bit of light left, so I thought I should do a quick photo shoot...

I even had a willing volunteer to act as a quilt holder!

Looks like NOT making lists is the way to go if I want to get stuff done...

Hope you had a nice quilty week-end!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

A Blank Page...

It's been 2015 for more than a couple weeks, but I have not felt the need to set some goals for the year.  Probably have something to do with not having met most of my 2014 goals.

What were they?

Fabric fast: Well, that lasted about a minute and a half!  Here are a few of my recent acquisitions...

pre-Christmas order Warp and Weft... insane prices...
Put a lid on it, Michael Miller.  Isn't it the best?

Some Happy Go Lucky yardage purchased from Ella's Cottage

Husband's last trip to Ottawa: obligatory stop at the Running Stitch...

Seriously, I did not keep up with the Fabric Fast, I certainly put more thinking into my buying, and I made a conscious effort to use what I have.

No buying book and magazines - I have been tempted a couple times, but with everything available online, I have not missed it.

Keep track of spending?  Can't say that I have...

Keep my creative space organized with a good clean up every quarter: Well, that did not happen, and it's really too bad because I do work better when the room is clean and organized.  I know myself too much to vow to keep it clean this year, but it is something to strive for.

Wash and iron my stash washing and ironing any new fabric acquisition within one week.  Ha ha ha.  Nope, that didn't happen either.  That Happy go lucky yardage, above?  Purchased last summer, still unwashed...  I am was a dedicated pre-washer but looking at the pile, I am wondering if it's really worth it... 

Split my collections:  I give myself an A for this!  See this collection:


I did it!  I split that collection and used a good chunk of it. I actually wasn't that crazy about the collection itself, but I love most of the individual prints.  There are some great low volumes, some nice dots, some blacks and whites... it would have been a shame to wait for the perfect project to use it all.  I'd still be waiting.

Finish, finish, finish.  I had a long list of WIP, but only managed to finish 3 quilts, none of which were on the original list.  That's pretty sad, if you want to know.  This said, I did work on a lot of smaller projects: pillows, bags, lanyards, zipper pouches which were all quite satisfying.

Give, give, give  I did give some scraps away but I could probably use a major de-stash.  While I did not donate a bed-size quilt to a worthy cause, I did give a baby quilt for an auction organized by our home-school association.
This quilt went for $125 at our school auction.  I was pleased!

I also gave this pillow to someone who really did not expect a gift and I must say, giving a quilty gift to an unsuspecting (and appreciative) recipient is something worth repeating.  So rewarding!

Connect  I left my old guild and joined the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild.  Though I did not make it to all the meetings and sew-in, I enjoyed every occasion I had to participate in their activities.  I probably made it to 5 sew-ins, one short of my goal of sewing with other people.  I joined my first online bee in 2014, and decided to join again for 2015. I even learned to use Flickr.  Sorta.

So I did not keep my quilty resolutions, and did not meet all my quilty goals... but I am still pretty happy with what I have accomplished.

As for 2015?  It's a blank page.  While I do have a few things in the back of my mind that I'd like to do, I will refrain from writing them down.  Just go with the flow and see where that leads me...

What about you, have you set some goals for 2015?

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Blame It On The Bee

I joined an online bee again!  Be warned, these things are dangerous...

We wrapped up the CanadiansQuilt Bee with this December block, simple trees requested by MR of Quilt Matters, and soon enough, it was time to begin a fresh new year with the Canadians Quilt Bee 2015.

flash was not working, but you get the idea

The January Queen Bee, Shena, of Apple Pie Patchwork requested these Scrappy Mountain Blocks.  The blocks are based on this tutorial, but I simply followed Shena's instructions.

There is lots to love about these blocks.  They are so versatile, the layout possibilities are endless.  Check it out: quick reorganization:

But the best part about them, is that they are actually super easy to make.  I kid you not.  really easy!  go check out the tutorials for yourself...

So after I dutifully pieced and mailed the bee blocks to Shena I thought, hmmm... let's make some for myself.  And here we are after a couple evenings of work.

That is why I say these bees are dangerous.  Last year, it was the February queen who inspired me to make an entire quilt from her chosen block.  This year, why wait until February?  The Scrappy Mountains were screaming "make me, make me" as soon as I saw them!

So here's a little sample of the possibilities:  We have chevrons...

And mountains all going the same way (should have taken the picture from a different angle... they look weird tipped sideways...)

Not sure how to call this one but it sure has a lot of movement...

And here they are, all mixed up rather than paired with their mate.  Can you spot the error?

First one in the third row...Yeah, much better!

This palette of yellows, soft pink/reds and blues is completely accidental.  I actually set out to make another colourful, anything goes kind of quilt with scrappy low volumes and brights, similar to my Plus Quilt.   But now, seeing these together, I am wondering if I should just keep going with this palette.  I would probably have to remove the old brown Kaffe Fassett (first one second row) and the dark green-ish AMH (first one of the fifth row).  I think I have enough blues and yellows and reds to keep me going for a while...

What do you think?

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Christmas Makes, Part 1

Hello there!

While everyone is posting about their New Year Resolutions, I am just catching up posting about my December production.

First, look what I made for my Guild's ornament swap:

Here they are in their normal habitat...

And what do you do when the wrapping paper (and scotch tape) is nowhere in sight but you have a whole lot of brown paper?  Why, you sew it, of course!

No, I did not make all of these... they are some of the ones that were exchanged and I got the nice little green stocking on the middle left side, made by Jeanette.

And now for gifts... First, I made this bag - special request from my husband to carry his dice to weekly Dungeons and Dragons games... (you read that well...don't ask!).

I especially like the quilting on that:  I just followed the fabric.

My husband had also requested a bag to carry his electronics when he travels: ipod, various chargers, extra headphones, etc.  Up to that point, he had been using a Ziploc bag...

But what started as a simple bag transformed itself into a fully fledged toiletries bag! It does not look like much from the outside, but do not be fooled...

... the inside is where it is all happening.  Ta-Da!

I am not going to lie, this took much longer than anticipated and was actually quite a pain to make, but the result was worth it.  I especially like the quilting in the green and gray fabric.  again, I just followed the design of the fabric.

Of course, this was not what he had asked for... He still needed a simple bag to replace the Ziploc... so I whipped up a zippered vinyl pouch.  Too easy!

Seems like I made a number of other items: lanyards, zippered pouch, tea wallet...  I am going to save some for a future post.

Did you make some of your Christmas gifts?