You are what you do

As I was watching videos reviewing various brands of water-colour inks this morning I had to stop and smile.

The journey that has led me to this particular moment has been interesting and if you’ll bear with me, I’ll share some of it with you ūüôā

As I contemplated whether or not to include a more personal post in the midst of my general quilting topics – some people suggest that business related blogs should be free from personal sharing – I was reminded of how much inspiration I’ve gleaned from Leah Day. ¬†She’s a professional quilter and online teacher who does regular podcasts sharing topics related to quilting and crafting. The intros to her quilting/crafting/business podcast topics include a bit of news about what’s going on in her home and family and sometimes she shares a new craft she’s trying, along with her personal journey through various life lessons and how they influence her crafting. ¬†I often find the personal stories are at least as beneficial to me as her crafty hints and topics.

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Because I appreciate authenticity in others, and I’m definitely one who tries to keep it “real” myself (don’t worry, not everything has to be shared LOL) I decided I was going to post this here and allow it to go where it will, to each reader as they are, in the space where they sit, and not get too worried about how it fits. ¬†Because it will fit or not depending on what you take away ūüôā

Try something new.

What I want to tell you is that if you’re trying to find your passion, looking for some way to develop a skill, wanting a creative outlet, or just wondering in general about what you might enjoy doing when you have the time to do something other than work, just TRY something new. ¬†Anything. ¬†Even if you can’t imagine that you’ll be good at it, or even like doing it. ¬†Because most fulfilling journeys start with opening a door. ¬†What you find inside the first time might or might not be what you’re looking for, but either way the step you take will move you forward to the next door.

Stop ruling things out because of what you think you are NOT.

For many years, although I studied piano and taught piano and directed a choir and wrote music, I was NOT an artist: ¬†I did NOT draw. ¬†I did NOT paint. ¬†It was something I was NEVER good it. ¬†(See where this is going? ¬†Caps are for emphasis on the phrases I used to describe myself if the topic came up. ¬†And who defines “art” anyway??).

It took a long time to see that music was my art, and even when I did, it seemed like an either/or kind of thing: I was a musician (fine art) but I did NOT draw or paint.  Any pictures I drew when colouring with my young children looked like they came from a grade two classroom.  Theirs progressed; mine did not!

I was also NOT a quilter.  Until I was.

One day in 2015 I decided to just try free motion quilting on my old sewing machine.(There’s a background story if you want to read it here.) ¬†I expected NOT to be able to do it well enough but I figured I would at least try before farming out the job of machine quilting a couple of my projects to someone else.

I put together a 12X12 quilt sandwich, lowered my feed dogs, and started. ¬†A door in my brain opened and what flowed out surprised me so much I was giddy. ¬†I couldn’t stop doing this new thing that I absolutely LOVED. ¬†I haven’t stopped since. ¬†Many times I wondered how someone who is NOT an artist and does NOT draw could stitch out quilting designs freehand, essentially drawing all over fabric with thread. ¬†I don’t know where it came from; it was just there. ¬†But I had never before opened the door.

So I obsessively quilted for hours on end most days, gave away a lot of quilts and eventually opened up a shop online to sell my quilts.  Along the way I took some online machine quilting classes, focussed on areas where I had the most interest, through a website I frequently visited.  Eventually I began to see my quilting as art.

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The same site started offering a monthly subscription with the first week free, so earlier this year I decided to sign up so I could check out a few of the quilting classes I hadn’t wanted to pay for individually. ¬†Once I registered, the opening page came up and I saw a promo at the top for a class on hand lettering. ¬†I clicked on it purely out of curiosity, went through pretty much the whole class that evening getting more interested and excited about it with each lesson, and by the end I was on Amazon ordering a few supplies to get me going.

Within a short few weeks my kitchen table was covered in markers and paper and practice sheets for various types of lettering, resulting in my need for a massive marker case to keep things organized. ¬†I picked one that had far more space than I had supplies so that it would grow with me as I tried out new types of pens. ¬†It’s now full, and many slots hold two pens at once. ¬†But I think I have my favourites pinned down. ¬†For now…

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Then came the iPad lettering possibilities, once I had my Apple Pencil and a simple App called Procreate, and now I’m designing things, saving them and digitally printing them for use on cards. ¬†This immediately led me to the idea of designing my own fabric and I’ve recently uploaded a few samples to a site that will digitally print them on panels. ¬†If the samples work out well, I’ll be able to make custom wall quilts with my own drawing, lettering, and quilting designs on them. ¬†So cool!

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As I traveled down the hand lettering path I saw people sharing their bible journalling projects – apparently this has been a thing for a while but I was busy NOT being an artist – and since I’ve been considering treating myself to a pretty new bible anyway, of course I was drawn right into the journaling bible category. ¬†No longer are people just writing notes in the margins with a pencil, they’re hand lettering, colouring, painting and making art right there on the pages of their bibles, bringing favourite passages to life!

And because I watched one lady doing a water-colour wash in her bible, I’m now very interested in water-colours, which brings me back to the beginning of this post, where I found myself watching a water-colour review on youtube. ¬†I’m now looking at possible watercoloring projects that go beyond the pages of my bible…

In the video the lady shared a painting she worked on while doing an online class and my mind never even entertained the old ideas that “I’m NOT an artist,” or “I DON’T paint”. ¬†Instead it¬†went straight to thinking that maybe I’d like to try a class like that myself. ¬†Brain rewired!

I have people tell me I’m lucky to have things like this that I enjoy doing and that they wish they could “find their passion”.

So what I want to say is this:

I think there are many things inside of us that we don’t know about. ¬†We have skills and talents and passions waiting to be discovered. ¬†Some will be and some won’t be.

It just depends on whether or not we open the doors.

Just try something new.  Take a class.  Volunteer somewhere if you like helping people.  Write the article or the story.  Find your adventure.  Stop telling yourself what you are NOT and find out what you ARE!

“I sail! ¬†I’m a sailor!” One of my favourite parts of the movie “What About Bob?” reminds me that the doing is what makes you the “——–er”. ¬†We often limit our own vision by packaging up some set of requirements with the word that describes what we want to be so that if we aren’t meeting them, we don’t qualify. ¬†If our work doesn’t compare to that of someone better than we are, we don’t qualify.

But it’s writing that makes you a writer, not being published in a magazine. ¬†Painting makes you a painter, not having your work hanging in a gallery. ¬†Quilting makes you a quilter, not winning an award. ¬†Whether or not anyone else even likes what you produce doesn’t determine whether or not you are something. ¬†DOING it does. ¬†And art is subjective anyway!

I don’t know what’s coming next or how far any of this will go. ¬†I’ve been a crafter for many years; some things I’ve done have stuck and some were just a lot of fun while they lasted before I moved on.

When I put that first little quilt sandwich under my needle three and a half years ago I had no idea it would lead me here:  I found a passion that has brought me so much joy, led me down the road of custom quilting, put me in a place where I would see a hand lettering class that would take me all the way to digital designs on fabric and a desire to try using water-colours all to make ART.  Because I AM an artist.

 

 

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Simply Sweet

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I finished the second panel from Art Gallery fabrics and because much of the stitching is similar to the sheep quilt I recently posted, I won’t fill this up with a lot of photos!

Just wanted you to see it all done, and share a short video clip at the bottom of some stitching I did that was notably different on this one; I used an idea from Natalia Bonner for the narrow border framing the centre section.

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I was all set to try it, then suddenly had second thoughts about whether or not I could get it “right”. ¬†But I tossed my doubt aside and went for it! ¬†It wasn’t really hard at all – another good reminder to ignore the darn negative voice in my head that likes to bother me when I’m trying to be creative LOL

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I love the way this turned out. ¬†Those large pebbles added great texture to that frame, and I love that simply drawn teddy bear in the middle reminding me that the simplest things can turn into the most beautiful things ūüôā

 

 

Baa Baa Black Sheep

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Soooo…

I wanted to stray from the woodland animals baby quilt theme for a bit and do something fancier with more of a custom heirloom look and, of course, lots of white solid space. ¬†This minimalist style panel is one of three I found in the “Nest” collection from Art Gallery Fabrics. ¬†I love the simple print, the black & white color scheme, and the space to play and really make the quilting show ūüôā

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There were only printed borders on two sides of the panel so I found another print to add to the top and bottom, making it relatively square. ¬†I marked off the centre square frame I knew I wanted, planned for a feathered frame around that, and the rest of it happened as I went along. ¬†I cannot say often enough how much I love white stitching on white fabric. ¬†Even as I’m quilting it there is just something so serene and elegant about it.

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And the back is solid white. ¬†I know, who wants a nearly all white baby quilt, right? ¬†LOL but¬†this one was sold before the binding went on…

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Once it was laundered and cuddly, the stitching really popped. ¬†I’m working on another which will have similar stitching; maybe that one will make it into my shop! haha

The short video at the bottom show me stitching some of the filler inside the centre frame, just for fun.

A Personal Perspective

When my Facebook page hit 500 likes recently, I did a video over there with some personal insights and a lot of gratitude.  While the giveaway mentioned is now closed, the rest of the video does have material that might be of general interest to others who follow my quilting life, so I wanted to share it with you as well.

A little goofiness, a little philosophy, and hopefully some perspective that will be helpful all around. ¬†Enjoy! ¬†And thanks for tagging along on this wonderful ride…

Purple, Gray, and Yellow

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I thought the last wide strip quilt I made was funky, but this one – WOW! ¬†The color combo was a suggestion from my daughter, based on my request for a trendy idea. ¬†Apparently purple, gray and yellow are a thing. ¬†They aren’t necessarily MY thing, but that’s not the point! LOL ¬†I wanted to quilt on solids and I figured that dipping my toes into a wild color combo couldn’t hurt. ¬†It’s interesting to observe the differences between the quilts I make specifically to sell online and those that I make for my home, or at least in keeping with a style I would have in my home. ¬†Doing something wild once in a while is kind of fun. ¬†It’s even more fun when someone buys it and I get to see where it’s going to end up (some people send me photos once the quilt arrives in their home and that is really cool!)

So if this is your style, enjoy the pictures, and if it isn’t, put your sunglasses on and just enjoy the stitching. ¬†Most of this was not planned out at all before I started. ¬†The main idea was to have a lot of lines going here and there. ¬†The rest just happened as I went along! #designingonthefly

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I added a couple of videos at the bottom in case you want to see how I did some of what I did ūüôā ¬†First one is short, second one has some bouncy music in it. ¬†It might make you want to dance…

 

Finding Joy

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You’ll probably recognize this general idea and color scheme from another recently finished quilt I wrote about; I’m not releasing a detailed pattern for the piecing process here, but I don’t mind if you just figure it out yourself and copy it…

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Some pictures have filters to enhance the stitching and make the colors more vibrant. ¬†I can do that here as this one isn’t being advertised so accurate hues aren’t an issue!

I had a custom order for a smaller throw quilt in the same colors and I just happened to have enough left of two of them and a spare piece of Moda Grunge that was pretty close to the dove gray I used in the first quilt, so this came about and made my client very happy. ¬†She’s also a huge fan of words on quilts, and I had a panel from the Thrive fabric line (Natalia Bonner & Kathleen Whiting, for Moda Fabrics) so we chose a suitable block and I pieced it in.

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I had free reign over the quilting designs which is always tons of fun, so I set about to use similar stitching to what I had already done in the first one. ¬†However, as often happens, the plan changed not long after I got started ūüôā

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I tried out some funky stuff here, used a stencil I recently purchased from Love Shack Quilts in one of the chevron areas, pulled out several of my circle rulers and experimented with various ideas that came to mind along the way.

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The result was a vivid modern super textured and fun lap quilt with a bit of inspiration popping out of the background and now that it’s all laundered and ready to go, it’s as cuddly as can be and I just know she’s going to love it!

I’ve included links below to a couple of videos I shot while quilting this: one is showing the greyish area with the chevron paths and the other is a time lapse of me finishing off the word block. ¬†Most of the other things you have seen me do before haha. ¬†Until next time…

 

 

Wavy Lines with Clouds

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Wavy lines and straight lines are popular on modern quilts and I like to find ways of embellishing them here and there to give a bit of extra interest to the overall look.

I thought this cute baby quilt could use some clouds in the stitching, and rather than over think the shape and the stitching path (sometimes clouds are intimidating! LOL) I decided to take my cue from the clouds on the printed fabric (DUH – why don’t I automatically think of this by now???) and they worked out great! ¬†It pays to keep things simple ūüôā

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Love all that texture!

There are so many possibilities for adding different elements to your otherwise basic lines.  Try drawing a few things out on paper and see what you like; then stitch it out and notice how cool it looks!  I usually do the extra thing on every second line going across the quilt and then just come back with a basic line, but of course this is completely up to each person to choose.

Check out the video below for a quick look at how I stitched the clouds. ¬†Some days are for complex stitching and others are for simplicity ūüôā ¬†It was relaxing to complete this project with the flow of the stitching over those cute prints, being reminded every few inches of a favourite song with lots of personal meaning to me. ¬†It’s just such a “happy” little quilt!

 

Playing Outside the Lines

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There’s always more to learn, more motifs to try, more fillers to practice. ¬†The lists are endless. ¬†So I have no shortage of available ideas, especially with access to the internet.

But I recently began to feel that I needed something else. ¬†I’m not saying “something more” because I have access to “MORE”! ¬†Something “ELSE” is different.

I wanted to start seeing spaces differently, to learn to look past the obvious and venture into new territory. ¬†To “unlock my brain” so to speak, in the words of a quilt artist I recently spent a very productive and inspiring private training day with, Sharon Blackmore of Love Shack Quilts. ¬†That was our goal: unlock my brain and take my quilting to the next level.

It’s not my nature to think outside the box; I can be lead there, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. ¬†Thus the need to “unlock” my brain! ¬†I can plan on the fly over a wide open space, and work within the confines of blocks to accent piecing, but I knew there was more to be done somewhere in between those two.

I had loaded this client quilt (pieced by Pam Fritsche) mid-week with a definite plan for a few of the areas, basted the whole quilt so I could roll it back and forth, and started stitching the designs that were clear in my mind.  I used some of my go-tos for the centre triangles, lots of straight lines for the modern look, I knew I needed to leave space for the initials requested, and I had the big feather border stitched out before I left it.

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After my lesson day, I came home to the quilt, thinking I would just finish this one up and then start using my new vision on the next one! haha But when I started stitching the second large area around the star with the big echoed circles I felt myself getting bored (that doesn’t usually happen!). ¬†I hit the centre of the bottom edge and immediately experienced a shift when I saw the space.

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I wanted a big change that would make a statement right there and decided I could easily build a triangle and fill it. ¬†That was the start – yes I’ve done something like this before in wide open space, but not in the middle of a border as a contrasting element. ¬†I stitched it out, finished off the big circles and advanced the quilt.

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I was planning to stitch a piano key border in the outside white space, but those darn grey half square triangle were mocking me.  I stared at them for a bit, trying to come up with designs to fill them in some ordered kind of way Рtypical! Рbut it suddenly hit me that I could ignore all of them and that bright orange sashing, and make my triangle a square!

This might not seem like a light bulb moment to everyone, but for me it was a breakthrough because I was seeing the space differently than usual, ignoring what was already there and making something new right on top of it. ¬†I was playing outside the lines! ¬†(and the angels sang… LOL)

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From there, of course, I needed to up the anti in the rest of the final area too.

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The whole time I was enjoying my new inspiration I was wishing I could go back in and change the first areas I had stitched because they would have been different at that point, but the end result was still pretty cool and I’m looking forward to my next detailed project so I can put to use more of what I learned ūüôā

When I take a quilt off the frame I like to get a really good look at all the texture from various angles.  And that white on white gets me every time!

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I love that square and I love how it draws all the attention to itself.

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Do you play outside the lines? ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

Quilt Binding by Machine

IMG_5667I’ve been wanting to do a test to see just how neatly I could get a binding to go on if I used the machine binding method rather than my usual hand stitching. ¬†So I finally sat down and bound a small quilt sandwich – don’t look to closely at the quilting because it’s just a test piece with lots of messy scribbling on it, not an advertisement for my machine quilting! LOL

There are differing opinions on which method looks better or lasts longer, so it’s really a matter of personal preference. ¬†Some might choose machine binding because it’s faster, because they think it’s stronger long term, or because hand binding strains their wrists and hands. ¬†Others might choose hand binding because they like to hand stitch in general (my mother) or because they like to have something to do in the evenings while they binge on Netflix shows…(me!)

I personally wanted to find out two things:

  1. would machine stitching all around the binding make the edge stiff or hard compared to my hand stitched bindings and
  2. would I be able to get the stitching line that shows on the back of the quilt to be straight and neat enough for my personal satisfaction

Once I was finished I laundered this piece and found that alongside a quilt with hand stitched binding, it was not stiffer, so that was good news.

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I was reasonably satisfied with the stitching, although there were a couple of areas that I wasn’t happy with. ¬†When it comes to my free motion quilting, perfection is not the goal, and I remind my students that it is, in fact, unattainable because we aren’t machines. ¬†Once the quilt is done, most of the little “mistakes” we might have noticed as we stitched are lost in the bigger picture (that’s not to say I never pick anything out, because I certainly do if it has really gone off track!). ¬†But in this case, that stitching line is going to run right along the binding seam somewhat like an echo stitching line, and if it isn’t straight and neat it will be obvious, at least to me!

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Overall, I think it could work out to be acceptable and I can fine tune the areas I’m not completely happy with by working on the method a little more. ¬†I’m not completely convinced yet that I want to change how I bind quilts in general, but I am tempted to try this method on some smaller projects that seem to take as long to bind as they do to quilt! ¬†The test is done and it yielded better results than I expected, but the jury is still out…

Check out the video below if you’d like to watch me stitch it. ¬†Of course, I’m talking too, so you get to hear my voice, which makes it almost like I’m right there in your house. HAHA