Cushions Anyone?

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I have to admit I’ve been having some fun with smaller projects this week.  I didn’t think I would be into making things like this, especially since you will rarely see a cushion in my own house.  But I learn over and over again to “never say ‘never’ ” (no, I didn’t have to put that in quotes, but I decided to give the grammar-sentence-structure-correct-punctuation lovers like myself some eye candy with those single quote-within-a-quote marks!  You’re welcome.)

Apparently, people have cushions.  Some people have lots of them and some people even change them out for seasons, holidays, or just because.  They show up on beds and chairs and couches everywhere, just not in my house.  I’m not opposed to cushions; I don’t have an aversion to them or anything.  When I’ve had the odd one or two lying around in the past, they’ve always just seemed to be in my way.

First of all, I no longer have a couch, basically because the space requirement versus function doesn’t suit my needs (ie. having space for my grand piano is more important than having a place to watch tv lying down, which I, like, never do – oops, I said “never” …) and my recliners are just way more comfy and practical.  They have their own built in cushions so adding more for decoration just seems unnecessary.  Having cushions on my bed for decoration would just mean I have to pull them off every night and put them back on every morning and I think I’m already doing pretty well just getting the bed made on a regular basis when I’d rather be quilting.

But I digress …

Cushion covers are a wonderful way to use up fabric I might have left over from quilt projects. (Don’t anybody jump on me here for having leftovers when I’m a self-proclaimed NON-stasher!  Let’s face it: it’s pretty hard to not have any leftovers after one hundred and thirty-eight quilts to date!) Cushion covers are like little mini quilts and I can use up different threads, try out new techniques and do a variety of things in a day which is a change up from working on one quilt for hours.  So I’m glad that so many people love cushions!

Here are some photos of my most recently finished ones.  I had some batiks left from the big star quilt I showed you a few days ago and they were just asking to be made into a funky cushion cover with quilting as wild as the color combination!

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I back the cushion fronts with muslin, so thought I’d give you an inside view 🙂

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This next one is made from a piece of floral fabric left over from a quilt gift I made not long after I started quilting. I fussy cut a few flowers from a remaining scrap to appliqué in the black centre section and then thread painted the words.

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These last two started with a brand new Kaffe Fasset charm pack that I ordered but never really liked once it came – go figure – until I separated the pieces and found a configuration that worked.  The first is all Kaffe, after weeding out the pieces I was least fond of, and the second shows the remaining Kaffe charms to which I added grey squares, giving them a bit of a break from each other and making them more palatable 🙂  I like the modern looks that resulted from these decisions!

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Speaking of trying various techniques, I’m very excited about a couple of new things I’m going to be experimenting with in the near future, as soon as my supplies arrive.  You’ll be hearing about them eventually …

P.S. I know this rocking chair sitting in my porch looks great with a cushion on it.  True confession:  I do have a couple of cushions that sit on chairs in my porch because I saw some irresistibly cute owl themed tapestry covers in a store one day so I dug out a couple of old cushions and stuffed them.  Why do I feel the need to come clean?  Integrity, people.  The end.

Pinmoors! Yup, they’re a thing …

IMG_1233 I’ve been a spray baste fan since day one.  DAY 1.  I firmly believe that if it hadn’t been for spray basting, I wouldn’t have fallen head first into this quilting thing.  The idea of spending all that time pin basting a quilt was just too daunting.

But I’ve been thinking the whole thing through of late, and wondering if I should look at alternatives for my own good; I live in a northern climate so spraying outside isn’t really do-able for about six months of the year and I’m an all year round quilter :-).  I’ve been considering wearing a mask, but once that occurred to me, I realized that just because I’m not breathing it in directly while I’m spraying, it’s still lingering in my house. I haven’t had any respiratory problems thus far, but there’s no way to know what it will eventually do, and with an average of five to six quilts a month, even with proper ventilation for the fumes, there’s a lot of spray settling in places I don’t know about!

I also have a dry eye problem and I’ve noticed that my eyes bother me far more in the room where I generally baste quilts, so I don’t know if it’s connected, or if it’s just that I usually go to sit in that particular room at the end of my day when I’ve been straining my eyes a lot already, but it’s something to consider.

I know my posts don’t usually have a serious tone, so I don’t want to sound like I’m condemning spray baste or anything.  It’s so very handy and saves a lot of time, and I’m not swearing off the stuff here, but I am more open to pin basting now, so I thought I’d share with you a cool little helper I have found: Pinmoors.

I know that safety pins are popular, especially the curved ones, but I honestly find them kind of a pain for a couple of reasons:  they don’t show up well on prints and they can be finicky to remove when I’m in the middle of machine quilting with gloves on.

Enter the Pinmoors.

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I already like my Clover flowerhead pins, and these neat little cylinders stick onto the ends to protect me from getting poked or scratched, but also making it very easy to pull out or reposition the pins as I go (and these pins are flexible enough to bend a little if you really want something with a bit of a curve to it while you’re pinning).  They’re self-healing so no matter how much you use them, they still hold on well.  The fact that they come in several bright colours – just like the pins – means that they show up really well on any fabric so I’m not going to miss one and stitch right over it!

You can buy them in a few places; I got mine through Amazon.  I’ve been using them on smaller projects, so my next test will be on a baby quilt and from there, hopefully, I’ll take them all the way up to the big ones 🙂

Starburst Batiks

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Piecing, piecing, piecing … ARGGGH!

That’s how I felt making this quilt!  I was determined to try it and I do love the bright colors, but wow it took a lot of hours to get it all pieced together.

I started the actual quilting one morning and only worked until around noon, but it then took another day to finish – and when I talk about a “day” of quilting, let’s be clear: I wake up early and I often start working in my sewing room before my first cup of coffee.  This one was finally finished around supper time after pushing through my neck, shoulder and eye pain the last hour or so because I was “so close” to being done and I wanted to have that binding ready to hand stitch for my evening of sitting with my feet up and a heating pad on my back!  Go ahead, call me crazy.

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I love how it turned out and I think this might be my most detailed work thus far, working within constraints and keeping certain things symmetrical, which always takes more time and effort than my rogue style of flying by the seat of my pants in wide open spaces!

This was a free Craftsy pattern that Angela Walters assembled on her Midnight Quilt Show, and I changed out the corner partial stars because I originally wanted the border to be solid grey and then chose to add in a few scraps.  Honestly I wish I had stayed with the all grey idea, so if I make it again (yeah, right!) I will go that route.

As you know, I’m not typically a star or triangle girl myself, but I was attracted to the grey background with the bright stars (I should have been drinking wine like she was while sewing it all together!!!) and I also loved the way she quilted it so I adopted some of her ideas for mine. Truth be told, many of my ideas for quilting come from Angela – she is such an inspiration to me and her style really clicks in my brain.

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The pictures honestly don’t do this quilt justice because the textures are best seen from a bit of a distance while someone is holding it up and you are sitting in a comfy chair taking it all in.  But I can’t quite capture that for you here!

The lighting wouldn’t cooperate for my full size shot, and I had trouble photo-shopping it to get the colors exact (above pictures show accurate colors), so I’m not happy enough with it to include it here!   It’s just way better in person …

 

Cascading Leaves Quilt

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The big quilt is done and it looks so cool with the coordinating quilted pillow cover!  After one washing the leaf edges are getting nice and scrappy for that comfy shabby chic kind of look (I’m sure there’s a better term for it, but that works for me!)

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I had to resort to a different brand of thread for the black background on this one as I didn’t have anything close to what I wanted in stock and I didn’t want to have to mail order a couple of spools, so I took a chance on another polyester thread with a much lower lustre than my Magnifico, and I am happy with the results because the green thread really shines, and the dark grey/black (I can’t quite tell which it is!) is more subtle.  It’s called Marathon and it’s still 40 weight so I get the same look with a flatter finish.

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Unfortunately, taking a photo of black with bright colors on it is tricky so it’s hard to show you the contrast between the two threads, but in person the overall effect is making me want to go and get some more colors of this alternative 🙂  And here I thought I had my thread choices narrowed down … you just never know what’s around the corner!

Check out the video below if you’re interested in my stitching process on this one 🙂

Playing with Thread

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“Once upon a time there was a lovely sign …”  

Well, OK, it was last Saturday.  So I’m in this cool shop with my daughter and I’m seeing all kinds of wonderful things I don’t need but am still allowed to admire and I’m almost done when I go around a corner and see this sign right in front of me.  I’m standing there practically bawling (sniffling and hiding my tears but you get the idea) and I really want this sign.  But of course, being the practical person I am, between sniffles I’m trying to convince myself one minute that I don’t need it, and the next that I must have it.  As I’m debating with myself, my daughter, who agreed I should buy it, leans in and notices the “hold” label on it.  Of course I’m crushed.

I mention to the lady that I am interested in the sign but there is a hold on it (hoping that she might forget about whoever else wanted it but obviously didn’t show up with the cold hard cash in hand that I was ready to hand over) and she says yes, it’s on hold for Monday, but if I like it they can make me a custom one.  This doesn’t overly excite me because 1) I want it now, and 2) I live an hour away and I’d rather take it home than come all the way back another day.  But I’m a reasonable person (seething but smiling) and I thank her and leave, to spend the whole drive home whining about the sign I couldn’t have.

I decide that I must have one, so Monday I call the store and ask about getting one made for me and the lady says oh yeah, the other person never came so we took it off “hold”.  I want to scream about the inconvenience of not being able to just buy it Saturday, but I’m also really happy that I can have THAT one because you just never know how a special order of a handmade wooden painted thing is going to turn out.  I pick it up tomorrow.

But I told you that story to tell you this one:

I didn’t know those were words from a song.  Once I found that out, I started looking online and finding different things with either a lot of or just a few of the words from this song, and I thought ‘d like to try making something as the items seemed to be popular.

I’ve been working on a quilted pillow cover with appliquéd leaves this week, which I will show you before I go back to the song lyric project, just to keep you guessing what is coming next! haha

I haven’t been making smaller quilted items because they honestly didn’t interest me, but I recently found a couple of ideas that I liked and decided to change things up a bit.  So this first one is made with the cut out centres from bigger leaves I’m putting on a quilt (that will coordinate with the pillow cover if anyone cares, but they will be sold separately!)

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It’s not completely quilted yet because I need to grab some dark grey thread to finish the background.

Back to the song lyrics …

I was envisioning a little appliquéd house with the words “Love grows best in houses just like this” in free motion cursive.  So this morning I set out to get it done.  Here is how my process often works, spontaneously growing as I stitch and play with my thread (and kill hours at my machine but who’s counting?)

It started with the necessary whimsical little house …

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that had to have a tree beside it …

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then came the words …

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but the house needed a path, which also led to thread painted grass and flowers …

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the sky needed puffy clouds and with all those flowers there had to be a butterfly somewhere …

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So now I’m not sure if it’s going to end up being a pillow cover or a wall hanging!  What do you think?

P.S.  I would have had a finished quilt to show you by now, but when I went shopping for backing on Saturday, I forgot my tote with my newest quilt tops in it at the store in Stony Plain!  I’m picking that up tomorrow too …

Playing with Owls

Owls are popular right now, especially for baby stuff, so I played with an idea I saw on Pinterest for a cushion cover with owls peeking in from the edges, and expanded it to baby quilt size.  It seems that no matter how you make the owl bodies – with details or just simple shapes – the real magic happens when the eyeballs go on!  That part is really fun because as you try out various positions for the black spots you can change the expressions and the whole look of the owl.

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If I make another one similar to this, I’m going to make the big white circles different sizes for each eye and have some fun with that effect 🙂

Next time I’m using a basic outline shape like these owl bodies, I think I will hand appliqué them as they aren’t intricate and I really didn’t need to use fusible web in such large pieces.  I’d rather just fuse and raw edge appliqué the smaller pieces in the eye sections and then hand stitch the whole thing onto the quilt top.  It would save the cost of the fusible web, but also give large scrap pieces when I cut away the background fabric that would be useful for something else!

I also put together a cute patchwork baby quilt this week and I like the way the white squares make the whole thing look like an old fashioned quilt.  It certainly is a soft and fluffy one with the open stitching pattern and the white muslin backing.  It’s not big enough for my cuddling needs or I might just keep it!

I used Fantastico variegated thread on this one, but the base color is white and the color changes are faint so I don’t think you can see them in the photos.  It’s pretty though!

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That’s all for now, no videos of the above work, but stay tuned because there will be more!

 

With Glowing Hearts

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I received a special order from a previous customer for a Canada themed quilt, and with this being our country’s 150th birthday celebration, it was a good opportunity to add some extra touches to the quilt already made cute by the “With Glowing Hearts” fabric line itself.

The piecing design was simple – an idea I found on Pinterest – which I like for reasons we are all aware of at this point, but also because the fabric has so many Canadian words and symbols on it that would be lost by breaking it up into many small pieces. Haha

I did a bit of marking on this one just to make sure certain straight line areas actually came out looking at least reasonably straight, and then contrasted with curvy designs next to the line designs.  I wanted to split the wide border into two narrower ones, so that called for a line marked evenly all the way around.  In smaller spaces, I am fine with eyeballing lines. (Don’t look too closely at my “eyeballing” for the lines all around the outside edges … “Close enough is good enough!”Angela Walters)

I really haven’t used a stipple stitching pattern for so long, but once I had done the lettering I needed something that would move easily around those parts without interfering with the words, and off the top of my head, stippling seemed a good choice.  For a section here and there, I think it works 🙂  (To see the video of how I did the lettering, check out my free motion cursive post)

Some of the colouring appears a bit dark in the photos, but that red lettering really does pop in person 🙂

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I love how this turned out and while I tend not to be into themed projects in general for my own home decor, I am tempted to make another one for myself, just because it’s a big national thing and all.  We’ll see!

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This quilt has been sold.

 

Free Motion Cursive

I’m working on a Canada themed quilt and I decided to add a couple of phrases from our national anthem in cursive writing, with a thread painting kind of system for making the letters stand out nicely.

I should have thought of this simple method myself … but … I saw it on a Leah Day video and had a face-palm moment 🙂  She was doing block letters herself, and the same principles apply, so if you’re interested, take a look at the video below.

I’ll share the finished quilt when it’s all ready to go!