Video – Figure Eight Quilt

I missed adding the video to my post on the Figure Eight Quilt this morning !  I’ve added it to the original post now, but many of you subscribe by email and you won’t know it’s been updated, so the only way for me to make sure you see it is to publish another post.  Enjoy!

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Figure Eight Quilt

If I had to pick my favourite thing about this quilt, it would be the bicycle print fabric!  The colors are fun, and certainly the quilting was fun, but honestly, those bicycles …

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I had all the solids in stock and was looking for a grey background and for some reason the picture on the quilt pattern made me think of bicycles.  The print used was actually slices of orange or lemon or something from the citrus family, and it was used on the eights instead of the background which was solid grey, but the slices made me think of  bicycle wheels and the idea stuck in my head so that’s what I wanted to use.  I was happy to find it online at one of my regular go-to shops and, although I loved it, I only ordered enough for this one quilt because I never like to over commit and then find out it isn’t as sweet as it looked!  However, as soon as it arrived I was hooked and I immediately placed an order for LOTS more.

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And then I got the backorder notice.  Still hopeful, I waited it out.  But after six weeks I was informed that they could no longer get it.  Thankfully, I managed to find some still in stock on another site so I grabbed it and it’s currently on its way to my little stash pile.  Yay!  I think it will work for various projects because 1) it’s grey, which goes with many other colors and is trending everywhere, and 2) IT’S BICYCLES!

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This pattern is called “Eight O’Clock” and it’s from the book Modern One-Block Quilts by Natalia Bonner and Kathleen Whiting.  Yes, this is the fifth quilt from their book that I have made.  Me, the person who isn’t typically “into” using patterns!  If you are, and you like modern quilts, then Get. That. Book. It’s really cool.

I liked Natalia’s close together wavy little line background stitching idea so I did that myself, and then I changed up the stitching for the solid colors.  She used a ribbon candy design – which looked great – but I’m currently on a kick to get this darn wishbone into as many different shaped areas as I can so that’s what I chose.

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It’s colourful, kind of trendy looking, and big enough to use as a coverlet on a twin bed, or even a double if it’s a second layer or a folded up accent at the foot end.  And of course, it works as a large throw too 🙂

Here is a video showing some of my stitching on this quilt.

A Few Helpful Hints

I had an uncommon fairly acceptable hair day yesterday so it was a good time to step in front of the camera for a change and record a video with a few things I wanted to share 🙂  Hope you find it useful, or at least entertaining!

It’s been craaaaazy windy for the past few days where I live but I have to keep my enjoyment of the cool temperatures to myself because there are a lot of summer lovers out there who are probably getting really frustrated right about now 🙂  For me, it’s a happy break from heat that was and heat that I know is still coming our way.  Every cool day is a gift to me!  I’m not looking forward to going out for the mail though – thankfully I’m not a skinny gal or I might just blow right from my house to my car … no “haha” here, I’m serious!  It’s blowing limbs off trees!

A “Summer Quilt” + video

I worked on a few quilts for a regular client in BC this past week; one of them she calls her “summer quilt”.  Of course there was one part where I had the most fun of all and if you guessed it was in that solid white border then you really have been paying attention to what you read here 🙂

When I receive quilt tops with a request for me to just do my thing with the quilting – her usual request! – it means not only that I get to have fun being creative and using any stitching designs I choose, but also that my client has confidence in my work and trusts me to add a special touch to something they’ve already put a lot of themselves into.  Being asked to stitch all over someone else’s handmade project is quite a responsibility and I’m humbled when I’m the one chosen to take on that creative task.

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I posted a couple of the smaller ones I did for this same lady over on my Customer Quilts Gallery page. The three finished quilts are now back in her possession so I can post the photos without spoiling anything!

I have another big one here to quilt for her and – I was told today – two more heading my way.  Thankfully she’s never in a hurry 🙂

If you’d like to watch a video showing how I joined the feather border to make it look continuous even though it was stitched in sections, along with some of the other stitching, you can find the link below.

Have a good weekend!

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If you’re going to dream, dream big … + video

If you’re following anything “quilty” online recently you’ve probably seen a few versions of this beautiful digitally printed panel from Hoffman fabrics.  They’re kind of a big deal!  The colors are gorgeous and they have lots of potential for creative stitching.

I’ve seen them quilted out in various ways, all lovely, and I knew when I bought my panel that I would be defining the petals and using different designs in each because I purchased it with that specific idea in mind.  The no-piecing aspect was VERY appealing to me, and it was actually going to be a practice panel on my new longarm a couple of months ago, but the more digging I did for ideas, the more I leaned towards making it a sit down project because of how I wanted to work on it – personal preference only, I might do another on the longarm down the road!

This panel is suitable for free motion quilters of all levels.  If you’re a beginner, don’t be intimidated by all the fancy stitching you see here, or on others you will find online.  You can define each petal and then practice stitching patterns in a specific space; take it one petal at a time.    It’s just such a beautiful floral design and no matter how you quilt it, I’m sure you will love it 🙂

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I wasn’t going to bind it; I wanted to face it so that there would be nothing cutting off the flower.  But I used a double layer of batting and quilted very densely so I realized when I was all done that I would never get that edge seam to fold nicely towards the back within a seam allowance and I wouldn’t be happy with it, so I gave in and bound it.

There’s not a lot to say about my technique here because you can see I simply used various feathers, swirls, and other fillers you’ve seen me do a number of times before to achieve the final result.   So I’m just going to throw a bunch of yummy photos your way,  with a video at the end so you can watch some of my quilting process if you’re interested 🙂

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Longarm free motion quilting in manual mode + video

Since I got my longarm I’ve been using the regulated stitching mode to keep my stitches looking consistent through my learning curve – it’s a bit of a brain twist to go from free motion quilting on the sit down machine to doing it on the longarm because they are very different processes.  But recently I followed a tutorial showing examples of the differences between regulated and manual modes with ideas for when to use which one to your greatest advantage, and decided to turn off the regulator and just stitch.

Of course this kind of spontaneous stitching in wide open space is what I love most, but I wasn’t sure how it would go without regulation.  However, it was just fine and in fact I found that everything felt smoother and more free in manual mode, just as it was described.  Of course, there are times when the regulator is very helpful, especially when using rulers and having to adjust hand position without causing glitches, but I am definitely loving the feel of manual mode for free motion and will begin incorporating it immediately 🙂

Here’s a video of my trial on Friday; the big circles were done with rulers (I was testing out some new ones that morning just before I started my manual mode run) and everything else is free motion.  You’ll notice that in manual mode I’m not stopping here and there to think, which keeps my brain looking to the next idea as I go rather than slowing down and having the regulator keep my stitches even for me while I decide where to go and what to stitch! This is a cool way to free myself (a recovering perfectionist!) from any constraints, and just focus on keeping the machine moving at an even pace.  Designing on the fly isn’t uncommon for me, but keeping the machine moving at the same speed and trying not to stop anywhere so that the stitching just keeps on going is a really good exercise for the artistic part of my brain.

Thinking too much slows everything down, so I really enjoyed the free flow of this play time 🙂

Modern Improv Block Quilt

This was FUNNNNNNN!  Totally spontaneous, no measurements to speak of, busting that perfectionist tendency into pieces and blowing it away in the breeze.

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If you can handle not knowing what your quilt is going to look like when it’s all done, or even your individual blocks for that matter, then give this a try.  You can use up all kinds of scraps in various sizes and shapes and piece rather mindlessly while watching your favourite Netflix shows.

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Yes, you can see that at some points along the way I did try to incorporate similar strips into each bock only because I had some darker fabric that I wanted to use up completely and I didn’t want it to bunch up in one area.  So you can do a teeny bit of planning as you go but you don’t have to; it’s your choice.  Just start with a couple of scraps and stitch them together; they don’t even have to line up.  Trim them if you want to have a straight edge for the next addition but you don’t have to because you can just put that next piece on at any angle you like and stitch it into place.

Eventually you will have a lovely modern wonky block with tails and jagged edges everywhere that you can trim down to whatever size you want for your quilt and when they all go together they look so cool!  I know there’s likely several ways of doing this and many ideas to choose from.  I was inspired by a photo shared by Ingrid from Quiltessential in St. Albert, and it caught my attention because of the way she used the low volume fabrics for most of her block and then added a pop of bright color here and there.

I was attracted to the fresh crisp look and I used those ideas for my own blocks, knowing I would want to focus on the whites and add a white border so that certain blocks blended into the border and it wouldn’t be obvious where they actually ended. I love the effect that has on the whole quilt when you stand back and look at it!

The idea is to just piece and piece until you get something big enough to call a block for your chosen quilt size.

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Because of the darker piece and a few brights that I wanted to use up, I ended up with 24 blocks.  I don’t really like a 4 X 6 long and skinny configuration unless it’s for a bed; I prefer 4 x 5, 6 x 7 etc. for throws, and sometimes square is OK if it HAS to be square to make it work!  So this one needed one extra block to get it to 5 x 5.  I didn’t want to make a wonky block that would just stand out because it was an afterthought – yes this is improv but I also wanted it to look properly finished – so I decided to make a block with words on it.  I didn’t centre that block because that just seemed too typical  LOL  I wanted it to fit in with the theme of keeping things off centre and unexpected.

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This particular phrase has become a favourite of mine so I printed it out, set the ink, gave it a scrappy border with a few pieces I had left to coordinate with the rest of the quilt and I LOVE how it turned out!  (I’m actually using it at as an inspirational line on the bottom of all my custom labels now)

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There will definitely be another one of these mod improv block quilts in my future!  And I suspect there will be more words appearing here and there as well 🙂

 

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More from the Woodlands …

I feel like there should be music playing as you read this, like the theme song from Hinterland Who’s Who? … if you don’t know what that is, you’re either not from Canada  or you’re still a young pup.  It’s a classic.  In our house it’s more of a long standing joke, but let’s say “classic” just to be nice 🙂  I’m including a youtube link here because I can’t add background music to this post and I want you to get the full effect.  When we make a joke, we pretty much just hum those first few notes and there’s no explanation needed …

It won’t be funny though if you’re hearing it for the first time.  You’ll be like “What’s the joke?” To qualify for standing joke status, you’d have had to hear it interrupt every CBC program of your childhood for a one minute trip down Canada Goose lane or some other nature walk …

… but seriously …

I have a few more woodland animal/outdoor themed quilts to share with you; one is another panel from Spoonflower, one was designed and pieced by me (OK, full disclosure: the idea was sent to me by my niece who wanted to custom order something similar and I figured out how to make it by throwing some some deer heads into her color scheme.) The third will be gifted to a young man who loves everything outdoorsy along with John Deere tractors.  I found a layer cake precut package that fit the bill and got lucky when I added in the John Deere because I was ordering online and those greens actually went together when I got it all! #winning

They’ve all been quilted with one of my favourite hand guided edge to edge designs, the woodgrain, and you can see how this stitching pattern works on just about anything.

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I think another Spoonflower order will be necessary soon;  their site is so much fun!

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“Never have I ever …” Yellow, grey, black, and white.  Until I saw it, it wouldn’t have occurred to me.  And apparently those deer heads make it “perfect”, according to sources other than myself.  So I’m being educated!

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An outdoor person I’m not.  (understatement of the year …) But I am told that this one looks really cool and will be very suitable for its recipient and that’s what counts!

That’s it for today’s walk in the woods. (more music here …)

Stay tuned for my newly finished modern improv block quilt which is sucking me into keeping it for myself.  Yes, I know, we’ve been down this road before LOL

It all Started With a Jelly Roll …

I am often asked by students, customers, and other quilters about how I got “into” quilting myself and I launch into my story.  I did write about it three years ago on a personal blog when the whole journey started, and have linked to that old post a couple of times along the way on this quilting blog.  But I finally decided to move it over here so it would have a permanent place among my other quilting related posts, to make it easier for me and others to find, and just in case the personal blog gets moved or comes to an end one day in the future.

So if you’ve already seen it, excuse the repeat.  If you haven’t, then here it is – the post below was from 2015, so as you read references to months or time frames, remember that it was three years ago!  The original post included some photos of my early quilts, so I’ve tried to copy them here for reference, because beginners are usually comforted to see that even those of us now comfortable taking on more intense projects and teaching classes started out with the basics 🙂  You will notice that my first quilts were “print heavy” while I practiced my free motion stitching – great way to hide glitches and mistakes learning moments 🙂  Now, as you know from following this blog, I will choose solids every chance I get because I want the quilting to show up!  That doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes anymore; I’ve just made a lot of progress in my recovery from perfectionism …

June 2015

Mom taught me to sew when I was about nine years old, and I sewed my own clothes all the way through high school and into adulthood when I also sewed for my own family until fabric finally became more expensive than buying the ready made clothes.  At the same time, the landscape of fabric stores was changing: it became harder to find dress goods as shelves began filling up with quilting supplies and I was happily moving from sewing to other crafts.  I kept my machine, of course, because there were always mending jobs to do and an occasional curtain that needed to be sewn (and it was a monumental purchase from my youth that was going to last a lifetime, but that was covered in an earlier post!) but in general, after over 25 years of making everything from tailored blazers to a wedding dress to baby clothes to home decor, I did very little sewing at all for almost 15 years.

My mom has been an avid quilter for a long time now and it was never something I was interested in doing myself – I didn’t see the point of buying fabric only to cut it up into little pieces to sew it all back together again, even though I eventually spent many days doing just that with paper after I became immersed in stamping and card making.  I pieced a couple of simple quilt tops together a number of years ago, but only so that my mom could quilt them for me because I had no desire to do all that work!  I liked having quilts, I just had no interest in making them.

Then one day last February I decided I needed a new floor mat for my kitchen and I wanted to make a braided rug like the ones people made in the olden days.  I went to my trusty idea site – Pinterest – to look for patterns, and came across a woven fabric mat that caught my attention.  It looked like a lot less work than a braided one; yes, I’m usually attracted to great ideas requiring little effort because I like to start and finish projects quickly.  Even in my youth, if a garment took longer than a day to make from cutting out the pattern to sewing up the hem, I lost interest and it sat unfinished on a shelf.

So I clicked on the woven mat and saw that the pattern called for a jelly roll.  I had no idea what this referred to but I knew they weren’t talking about a dessert (although I’ve since learned that many of the fabric precuts are named after bakery items, which makes me wonder if all quilters enjoy donuts as much as I do) so of course I then had to Google “jelly roll fabric”.  I could say at this point that the rest is history, but that wouldn’t make much of a blog post!

I browsed the many, many, MANY jelly rolls available and of course entered the world of jelly roll quilt ideas along my way.  People were sharing pictures of quilt tops made in less than an hour and I was enthralled – I could do that!  It was right up my start-to-finish in a day alley – at that rate I could do more than one a day – and I knew exactly where I could take them to be quilted at a store on a long arm machine, so I dove in and ordered a couple of rolls, along with the batting and backing I would need to complete the projects, and happily waited for my package to arrive.

In the meantime I decided that with all the ideas and tutorials out there for machine quilting, I really should at least try it myself to see how it worked and find out if I could actually enjoy doing it myself – this is important because knowing how to do something and enjoying doing it are two different things.  My crafts are therapy for me, and if something becomes frustrating or it isn’t fulfilling my need for relaxation and fun, I’m not going to do it.  So I put together some small pieces of fabric and batting, got my trusty old Pfaff onto the table, set it up for free motion quilting and off I went.

I’m not sure I have an addictive personality, at least not for dangerous things (unless you count frequent fabric orders and excitement over the lovely scents of Best Press spray as dangerous…) but I do believe that as soon as I started to free motion quilt on that sample piece I knew I was going to love it and I just wanted to keep going, which is pretty much what happened once my box arrived and I got those first two tops made.


I should also mention here the wonder of spray basting adhesive.  It must have landed here from heaven.  I would NOT be quilting if I had to thread baste or pin every quilt sandwich I make.  It takes too long (thus it doesn’t fit into the start-to-finish quickly plan) and those nasty pins would interfere with my free motion rhythm and I would get frustrated (which means I wouldn’t finish and while putting a half finished blouse on a shelf once or twice might not have been serious, quilting fabric and supplies aren’t cheap so I’m darn well finishing every single quilt I start!).  This stuff is seriously amazing and once my sandwich is made I can fold it and flop it around as much as I need to while I’m working on it and it all stays together just the way I need it to.  But I digress …

I had a plan.  I didn’t want to calculate and plan quilt blocks, I just wanted to somewhat mindlessly sew tops easily and quilt them. Jelly rolls worked well because they sewed up quickly and left no scraps, so I didn’t have to worry about a pile of leftovers accumulating in my cupboard making me feel pressured to find ways to use them.  I wasn’t going to stash fabric; I was going to buy specific amounts for planned projects only and even at that I wouldn’t have extra project piles waiting, I would buy in small amounts that I could use up quickly before buying more.  My quilting friend with many years experience listened and smiled.

And then I discovered layer cakes (there are also honey buns, maple cakes, and dessert rolls, oh my!) and how easy it was to make blocks that could be arranged into lovely designs with just a cut here and there and I could still sew a top easily in a day and have time leftover to build something out of wood (one of my other hobbies).  I was using what I had almost as soon as I got it home from wherever I found it, so I placed another fabric order to include a layer cake.  I had specific quilts in mind, sticking with the plan.

The list of quilts I wanted to make grew quickly and I needed to visit some fabric stores to see what was out there beyond my online source – and to actually feel the fabric before I bought it – so I picked up mom and made a couple of spontaneous trips to find pieces that I knew would be just right for certain people.  My ideas were expanding beyond the strips into various other configurations, and I came home with enough for a few more specific projects.  I was teased for calculating my yardage down to the tenth of a metre because I didn’t need leftovers, and it worked out well for me to use any possible scraps as part of the backings so they were decorative but also used up!  My quilting friend laughed and warned me that it was only a matter of time before I fell into the black hole.

Then it happened.  Just a little bit, but it happened.  I saw a piece of fabric in a store that was so beautiful I just had to buy some of it, even though it wasn’t for a particular quilt. In my own defense, it was neutral and usable for pretty much anything so it wasn’t really like stashing something just because I wanted it as it would match lots of stuff and already had embroidery all over it so would make really good borders and sashing … My quilting friend smiled and assured me that is how a stash starts: even just one piece of fabric not designated for a specific project but purchased because I had to have it does a stash make (just in case you weren’t aware of the rules).

The more I sewed and quilted, the more I started noticing ideas that went beyond the precuts I was finding so convenient to work with and before I knew it I was buying fat quarters and half metres and cutting them into pieces of various sizes so that I could put together my own quilt tops based on designs I liked.  I started watching tutorials and taking my free motion quilting to new levels, discovering my own favourite stitching patterns and combining them at will.  And then one day when I was about to throw away a scrap and found myself thinking “I might be able to use that for something”, I knew the plan had changed.  And I knew my quilting friend would shake her head because she knew all along that I wouldn’t be able to resist, but she patiently waited for me to succumb and admit that I was no different than any other quilter, and then she welcomed me to the “dark side”.  I think she even said “I told you so” – (are friends really supposed to say that??)

My first pieced quilt, no precuts!
My first pieced quilt, no precuts!

So now, three and a half months and fifteen quilts later (FIFTEEN? I had to go back and count…) I’m getting bold enough to try more challenging free motion designs and my favorite online fabric store in Chilliwack, B.C. knows me by name.  (I’ve filled at least two super stitcher cards…)  I have a small stash of really cool fabric and I’m on the verge of sharing an entire roll of batting so I don’t have to keep re-ordering it.  I’m always looking for new ideas and sometimes I’m actually giddy when I get my quilt sandwich all rolled up and sit down at my machine to start the fun part.

May 2015 - Kate
for my daughter
May 2015 - Michael
for my son
May 2015 - mom
for my mom

I used to be able to justify spending money on my craft supplies by reminding myself that my hobbies were cheaper therapy than drinking, smoking, or taking drugs.  When it comes to quilting, I’m not so sure that’s true!  But I’m not sure I care either because  there’s really no price to be put on something that keeps my brain active and provides me with so much enjoyment, especially given that I can share what I make with friends and family who are happy to receive handmade gifts from my heart (at least that’s what they tell me), and with others who might need a special quilt to comfort them in a time of need.

Needless to say my mom is happy about my new interest in quilting; I can now participate in and chat happily about the hobby that she found long ago, and whenever I finish a new quilt top I have to take it and show her what I’ve done so she can ooh and ahh and give me the mom-likes-everything-you-make stuff that starts to build our ego from the first time she put a crayon art piece on the fridge!  She even lets me dig into her stash once in a while too.

And if you’re wondering whatever happened with my kitchen mat, I’d be happy to post a picture but I haven’t actually made one yet!

UPDATE 2018 –  Just finished quilt #194 and still no kitchen rug! LOL