21 August, 2015

Copying a T-Shirt

Pardon me, but I'm about to get all cocky.

Not only did I make this t-shirt (I'm still totally amazed that I am making clothes). But I did so without a pattern. All I did was take a favourite t-shirt and copy it.

Now let's bring down the cockiness a bit. It is only 2 pieces, a front and a back. And it is merely hemmed, not finished in any fancy way. But still. I'm totally impressed with myself.

To make the shirt I took the original, folded it in half vertically, and traced the outline on a sheet of freezer paper. Then I added seam allowance and 3/4'' for hemming. Wash fabric, fold in half, cut, sew. I did get my machine even threaded with a twin needle, then nearly broke my machine trying to use. Needless to say, the hemming isn't great, but it is neat.

The best part? I will actually wear this.

18 August, 2015

Glitter Pen - New Pattern in Modern Patchwork

Glitter Pen
85'' x 85''

 This is a fun quilt with a long back story.

Part 1
Looking to fill some weekend afternoons during our long winter I signed up for Creative Bug. While my son napped and Hubby chilled out the girls and I took a few classes. Their favourite was Lisa Condon's Line Drawing class. Months later they are still sketching based on her techniques.

Part 2
I agreed to submit some quilts to Modern Patchwork. Up until then I'd only submitted articles, not quilts. Working with the editor (hi Vivika!) I agreed to use some fabric they wanted. Well, the original fabric they thought of wasn't available. In the meantime I went to QuiltCon and picked up some Modern Country fabric from Windham, just in case the other fabric didn't arrive in time.

Part 3
Upon my return home from Austin I was greeted with the fabric sent to me by Red Rooster. Cool fabric, for sure, but not right for the pattern I was supposed to be making. Hmm... Then my daughters showed me the their sketchbooks and what they did while I was away. One of them immediately jumped out at me and this new fabric would be perfect for it. So I contacted the editor and asked if I could make two quilts! In just a few weeks.
(The Modern Country fabric went into the Argyle quilt also published in Modern Patchwork.)

Part 4
I also contacted Lisa Congdon. While my daughter's sketch was not a literal interpretation of Lisa's work, it was definitely iterative. And I took it another step with the quilt. Especially because this was for publication I wanted to make sure she was okay with it. She, graciously and thankfully, said yes.

Part 5
Sewing like mad, I designed the pattern and finished the quilt. It is designed to take advantage of simple sewing techniques  - it is just a lot of long strips sewn together then cut apart into blocks. I think the pops are colour are awesome. In the end I added the bright coral fabrics to the original bundle of a line called Steel. And that text print is awesome. It is literally a text print, covered in numbers and texting short hand. Comes in both the mustard and black/white. (Must get more.)

Part 6
She won't take it off her bed.

I purposely designed the pattern to fit her double bed with a generous overhang. Perfect for cozying up. The pattern is available in the summer issue of Modern Patchwork.

It is hard to see in the photos but it is rather simply quilted. I stitched in the ditch between all blocks, then I quilted a saying, one letter for each block (minus the punctuation).

"All that glitters, glows, sparkle, shines is not 
as bright as the light of your eyes, shimmering in sun."

13 August, 2015

Looking for the Light

We often hear about people feeling more down from looking at the beauty in abundance now shared via the internet (and our phones) than inspired. I remember the first time I heard these discussions. It was in reference to Martha Stewart and her magazine. People tried so hard to emulate her and felt left down when they didn't achieve her level of perfection. They did so forgetting that she has staff and a whole lot of money behind her. When blogs were really big and now with Instagram this has grown. Sure, we might understand that there are real people behind our feeds, but we still think the grass is greener for them. Only now instead of money and staff we have filters and easy photo editors. And we forget that they are likely standing with their back to the mess and only giving us the good stuff.

Other people's lives haven't made me all that jealous or even grumpy with my own life. (Other things impact that, but I'll save that therapy session for another time.) I am, by nature, competitive. That means when I see the gorgeousness of other people's feeds I am, more often than not, trying to figure out how to make a shot like that or style like that. Full confession: I will certainly admit to jealousy over success. But other than a having a kitchen that isn't falling apart, I'm not jealous of other people's lives. No, I just want to be better or as good as them.

To that end, I do try to seek out beauty and aspiration. Not inspiration, but something in the way of technique, skill, or even eye that I aspire to mimic, learn more about, or learn from. So I still read blogs, I gather gorgeous magazines around me, and I seek out sigh worthy Instagram feeds.

Here are a few of my favourite spots of late.

Geninne... I learned about her when her first fabric line with Cloud 9 launched. Since then I am daily captivated by her Instagram feed.

Me & Orla... Sara first popped into my email via an automatic update I get for tags with A Month of Sundays, my book title. I won't lie, I was a bit annoyed at her Month of Sundays photo project, but that quickly passed. Instead I've been captivated by her style and approach to sharing. 

True Bias... My need to sew clothes continues to be fed. Up currently is the Mini Southport from Kelli at True Bias. I adore her honesty in making clothes, her style, and her patterns are so easy to work with. From this mostly beginner garment maker here I can say her patterns are incredibly well written.

Completely Cauchy... Chawne Kimber is a genius. I've had the pleasure of a too short sit down with her to discuss making statements with our quilts, otherwise I only know her genius from what she shares on line. You should definitely watch what she does with tiny piecing, making a statement, and simply being creative.  

What about you? What are the just beautiful spots on line that you like to visit? Not just informative, but gorgeous. Not necessarily sewing or even quilting, but the ones that bring beauty to life? Share the links in the comments. 

11 August, 2015

The Opposite of Grounded


Whatever you want to call it, that's how I've been feeling lately. It's been hard for me to focus on anything, let alone quilting. Yet I think it is because I haven't been quilting that I feel this way.

My best friend leads meditation and teaches yoga, among other things. She is a very grounded person. Quite often we've discussed the comparisons between a yoga practice and quilting. I get the same benefit as a committed practice from sewing. It is a meditative process, this sewing stuff. I calm down and gain focus. At the end of the day, quilting grounds me.

I found this definition from a random article. Regardless of the source, the sentiments describe the exact feelings I have. It wasn't until I was talking to my friend that I realized that grounding was what I didn't have.

"To me, being grounded means being fully present: physically, emotionally and energetically. It means your mind is not wandering or pulling your energy elsewhere. Your heart and soul are not searching somewhere in the past or looking into the future."
- Catherine Warner

The spring was quite momentous. I turned 40! You Inspire Me To Quilt came out! My childhood home was sold. So much going on. A lot to celebrate and enjoy. I spent so much time with friends and family, never have I felt more loved and happy.

Other than some hand sewing, however, not much has happened in the studio. Not only are the girls are on summer break, we helped my Mom move and went on a 2 week road trip. My soul is calling for a few days tucked away into my sewing room with no interruptions.

Too bad for my soul, it isn't going to get that. Instead I need to piece together little bits of time and put it in the schedule. The reality of 3 kids and summer break means there isn't a lot of time. Especially since my guy isn't in the mood to nap much anymore. So a little bit of PBS kids here, skipping the Daily Show... oh wait, and an early morning there to feed my soul and bring me back to grounded.

Quilting keeps me focused on the present, on what is right in front of you. In fact, if you don't pay attention you can seriously hurt yourself! And now that quilting is my business my mind is constantly on other things and I am forever planning, plotting, and perceiving things incorrectly. It has taken me away from the immediate process and the benefit of that. At the same time, my desire to quilt is taking me away from my family and the focus they deserve. Not to mention the state of my house.

Long story short, I need to get my s*%$ together. Clean and create a space both physically and mentally for all the things I need to focus on. Keep purging in the house to make the space clear of the extra, distracting things. Carve out a dedicated time for sewing and stick to it. Internalize my influences and inspirations for the time being. And hang on to my family now, laugh with them and make life epic all the time. Even if epic means nothing but playing with the sprinkler.

In the meantime, here are a few snippets of our recent road trip. Calgary to Vegas to Arizona (oh, Arizona!) and back. With stops in Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming for good measure.

28 July, 2015

Park Blocks

File this one under a class sample that will most definitely become a proper quilt. That will happen in that magical land called Someday. In the meantime, I'm quite enjoying building a collection of blocks.

The fabrics first came from a bundle of fabrics I sent to Lysa to paint. That was 2 years ago and once she returned them they sat there in a stack. She'd asked for my favourite fabrics from my stash and that is what I sent. I thought it would be appropriate to make something with them all together. When I put together the first few blocks for teaching hand appliqué I immediately turned to this bundle.

Unfortunately, only about half of the fabrics in the bundle were big enough to be used for the pattern at hand. So let's just say that the collection of blocks is inspired by that original bundle.

The pattern itself is Park from Carolyn Friedlander. She really does knock 'em dead when it comes to appliqué patterns. I'm sure, in time, I will make them all! In consultation with Carolyn I picked this pattern when I was asked to teach hand appliqué. It covers all the basics of prepping blocks, basting, and all the shapes, corners, and turns to master when learning appliqué. Bonus, Carolyn includes directions for turning a single block into a pillow sham, making it an easily finished project.

These blocks make a regular rotation in my appliqué tote (A Nest Egg Tote from Carolyn, of course). In the midst of the giant Circle Lattice it is nice to start and finish one of these in a relatively short time frame.

23 July, 2015

All the Doilies

These doilies were made by the most surprising of people. My Dad. My big, Eastern European, house building dad. He had meaty hands, ones I never would have guessed were capable of such delicate work.

I have the ones he made and gifted when he was going through chemo five years ago. And recently, while cleaning out my Mom's house in anticipation of a move, we came across a whole pile of much more delicate ones. They graced our living room furniture when that was the style, but they'd sat in a closet for years since. So we split them among the family and I have this collection.

It will be time to do something with these because I don't exactly have a doily on the sofa back kind of a style.

In the meantime, I wrote about my Dad's doilies in the latest issue of Uppercase Magazine. This particular issue has postage and lace as a theme. It truly is a pretty issue. Well, they all are! But this one feels nostalgic and cozy while still being visually invigorating.

If you have any links or suggestions on reusing/upcycling the doilies, please post and share.

20 July, 2015

All the Labels

At one point I used to be great about labelling my quilts. I planned and plotted my fancy label, carefully lettering and hand stitching it on. Then I got busier, faced deadlines and snotty noses, and frankly, got lazy. It is time to rectify the situation. I have a lot of quilts missing labels. Or, at most, they only have a name tag on them.

The label of the quilt needs to serve in place of you, the blog post, or the Instagram hashtag. If you've made the quilt well it could outlive you. If it is a gift it could travel to places you couldn't have imagined. The label should allow the story to move with the quilt.

What do you include on the label? Here are the basics I always have:

Quilt Name
Brief description of the why/how of the quilt. That is, who is it for? Why did you make it? Was it inspired by anything in particular?
Pattern credit or original design.
Materials in the quilt - batting and fabric and thread. (Are they 100% cotton or otherwise? Also brand of batting.)
Date the quilt was completed.
My name.

It may seem like a lot, but it isn't too bad. This is what one example looks like.

My preference is to print my label out on the special fabric that can go through the printer. That way I can have it smaller. At one point I used to print the label out on paper and trace it. That was a lot of work! Sometimes it is quick and easy, some notes on a piece of fabric and sewn down. My favourite product for labels is Printed Treasures. It isn't cheap, but I can get 3-4 labels on a sheet, making it more economical. And I've learned, the label looks better if you put it on before you wash the quilt because the Printed Treasures fabric shrinks differently than my quilts.

One thing I was taught early on in my career is to sign my quilts in a secret spot. This is especially a good idea when you are gifting a quilt. Labels can be removed and quilts stolen. For family in nursing homes, kids in dorms or camp, or anywhere there is common access having a secret little spot for a label is a way to identify the quilt if the label gets removed. I've seen people actually make their label before quilting and it is a permanent part of the quilt. Even silkscreening a panel with it and sewing it into the backing! If that isn't your speed, simple sign your name on the inside of the binding. Be consistent on which corner you do it, like lower left. If a label ever gets removed and ownership is contested you can undo a few stitches and your name is visible.

When I updated my goals the other day I should have added 'Making Labels for All the Quilts' to the list. Definitely need that on the list.