Interviewed by Leah Day

I had a super fun time being interviewed by Leah Day on her Quilting Friends podcast last week, and it went public today so I wanted to share the link and the experience with you!  We had a great conversation about quilting, creativity, passion and balancing things in our crafty lives.  Some of it was practical and some of it was philosophical.  All of it was a surreal experience for me 🙂  She is just as sweet in person (well, on video call!) as she appears to be and I’m happy to have met her and made a new quilting friend!

You can go straight to the podcast on her Youtube channel by clicking the image below, and you can read more about the podcast in the show notes here: Be Open to Your Creativity

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Majesty – the silk quilt

I’m not good at naming quilts (we’ve been down this path before) but when I started this project and decided it was going to be something quite different than other things I’ve made I knew it needed a special name.  The fabric itself inspired me to come up with a name befitting the luxury that comes to mind when I think of silk, so this quilt was  called “Majesty” before the first stitch.  I was thinking of the things I’ve seen in movies about royalty; you know, those huge carved headboards and canopies with the fancy bedding? You admire it and then wonder who launders it!

I did a little planning ahead of time, only in the sense that I “planned” to do more of a traditional style whole cloth quilt (medallion in the centre, fancy borders, symmetry etc.) so it was more of an overall concept than a calculated design.  We know that for me, the plan evolves along the way!  Certainly that’s what happened here.

I started at the top centre, where I wanted to make a statement, and of course there were always going to be lots and lots of feathers, so that part flowed nicely.  I didn’t really have to do a lot of measuring until I happily finished one side and realized that I would then have to duplicate it to the best of my ability on the other! LOL  It was a challenge.  After laying down the foundation I went back in and added fillers, and then used this process throughout.

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For most of the quilt, I just picked one area at a time to focus on, keeping in mind that I was going for the illusion of a plan 🙂 I generally baste the whole quilt at the beginning so I can later roll it back and forth whenever I want to, and for this one that method proved very helpful, especially if I couldn’t quite remember something I had already stitched and wanted to repeat HAHA

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I built the structure I wanted in each area, stitched it out and filled it in, and eventually it all came together.  Not without a few mistakes and ripped stitches, mind you, but overall it was a very satisfying finish.

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And yes, I did have a little bit of that “do I keep this one or not?” going on in my head.  I designed this quilt for a couple of specific purposes, neither of which was to adorn something in my own house.  But again, as I worked on it and later held it in my lap while hand stitching the binding I wondered about whether or not I should keep it.  It is so soft and feels luxurious!

The truth is that this is probably the best work I’ve done in my quilting thus far.  I’m both very proud of it as an achievement of my goal, and humbled by it as a reminder that I’m blessed to have found this thing called machine quilting – or did it find me? – that brings me so much joy and gives me so many opportunities to grow and share.  This quilt represents some important things to me.

But aside from the philosophical aspects, it also made more clear to me the truth about what “makes my soul shine”: my process, what I do and why I do it, and the importance of knowing those things in my art and crafting life.

When I finished the binding, still feeling just a little bit of doubt as to whether or not I would part with it, I spread it out on my bed and stood back to look at it.  I was immediately detached from it.  I saw it for what it was and appreciated all of it, and at the same time I knew it was just fine to let it go because the process was over.

I know I mention it often, but I feel I cannot stress enough the value of knowing what your personal process is and allowing yourself to appreciate it!

If you would like a serious peek into some of the work I did on this one, check out the first video below.

If you would like a peek into what happens when things don’t go the way you hope they will, check out the second video below.

If you would like a peek into my real life goofy fun, check out the third video with my Happy Dance!

Wishing you all a great weekend!

 

 

I’m officially a bag lady

Yes, it’s a thing.  Bag Lady has a whole new meaning since Sara Lawson began drawing so many people into the art of bag making and inspiring the use of this nickname!  Check her out on Youtube, Facebook, and on her web site, all by the same name “Sew Sweetness”.

Things have been happening in my sewing room even though you haven’t heard from me in a while!  To be honest, I’ve been working on a lot of techie stuff for my online shop and trying to learn (UGH!) about things like SEO (search engine optimization) keywords, marketing etc. and my brain hurts.  It is kind of disheartening for a maker to have to keep up with all these things, but that is the online world and my shop is online so….

In between webinars and headaches, I’ve been getting ready for our local Christmas craft market.  This year I’m going to be displaying more than just quilts; I’m having fun putting together some smaller items for my table, like pouches and tote bags, so I can offer a variety of options and leave some of my bigger quilts at home.  It takes a lot of time and energy to pack up all my quilts and safely transport them back and forth and because we live in a small town and most people know where to find me, I’m taking a different approach to make my own life easier and to keep them guessing LOL

I’ve enjoyed making a bag here and there in the past and pouches are often a good small project in between bigger quilting ones, but I’ve really been on a bag kick the past month or so and I thought I’d update you.  Of course these are just quick glimpses because I’m not revealing all the details too early, but at least you can see what I’ve been up to!

(the 3rd pouch down is a Sew Sweetness pattern)

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The tote bag extravaganza began when a friend asked me about a custom order for totes she wants for gifts.  I sewed up a prototype and then caught the bug.  I’m using a pattern from my own head and skills I’ve learned along the way from other patterns, and using up lots of smaller pieces of fabric I have leftover from quilts (OK I’ll admit I have bought a few pieces just for the bags!)  and while several of them are similar in size and style, the prints make them unique.

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Then I decided to try some faux leather because I thought it would make a lovely bag if I quilted a cool design on it, and got myself hooked on that look!

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Most recently, I put together a quilt sandwich to sample some batting for a silk whole cloth quilt I’m starting and once it was all stitched and looking beautiful – batting test passed! – I decided to turn it into a silk handbag.  Ooh-lah-lah!

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So there you have it.  At the time of this post, some have already been sold, but there are more in the making.

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been experimenting with having some of my own designs printed on fabric.  The first samples arrived and everything looked just fine, so I’m pretty excited about that!  The two panels have been made into wall quilts that I can’t quite share yet, but stay tuned…

 

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 🙂

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 🙂

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.

 

 

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 🙂

 

 

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 🙂

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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 🙂  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 🙂

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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…