18 September, 2014

Alturas Quilt Top Done!

My Alturas quilt top is done! That means I am also done with hand appliqué for 72 of these blocks. I won't lie, I'm a bit sad about that. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this quilt top and am thrilled with the way it turned out. The thing is, I really enjoyed making these blocks and I'm not sure what to do with myself now that is done. (More on that aspect tomorrow.)

You will notice that there is something you could call a border on this quilt. For long time followers and fans this must be tremendously shocking. I understand, I'm pretty shocked myself. These blocks absolutely needed something to set them apart though. Once sewn together the appliqué is more or less only 1/4'' apart. I wanted the appliqué to really stand out, so a border was needed.

Instead of following the original Alturas pattern I added more width (and another row of blocks from the pattern) to the border by using additional charm squares as the border. This was another way to showcase the fabrics I used as the background for the appliqué, quite a nice treat considering you don't see much of it under the appliqué.

And, shock of all shocks, I made the quilt rectangular. I adore square quilts but something about this begged to be a rectangle to me. That's why I added that extra row of appliqué. And a third row to the border on the bottom. That last part is totally inspired by Carolyn Friedlander (she who wrote the pattern) because she often has one side wider than another on her borders.

(This grey fabric is from my very first quilt. Can you believe that?! This is officially the last scrap of it that can be used.)

In the end I'm quite happy with my decision to add a few bits of yellow to the quilt. I'm not sure what it adds, other than a shot of sunshine, but it feels right. The grey/coral/navy/teal combo is pretty awesome all on its own. Yellow just amps it up a bit more. With winter just around the corner (thank goodness last week's snow is gone) this highlight will be well received.

I'm also happy that I made a few blocks with quite low contrast. I realize that, from a distance, they kind of disappear. That's okay. I think that this fact, along with the yellow, keeps your eye moving. Instead of just seeing all the appliqué, all the time.

There are so many old and new fabrics in here. Some I bought just for the project. Some that awesome readers sent in or local friends shared. Some, like I mentioned above, that are 16 years old! There are civil war prints, organic fabrics, modern prints, shirting, and even solids. Just missing batiks and novelty prints. Each block is unique and no appliqué fabric is repeated.

I've already got the backing fabric (more Botanics from Carolyn Friedlander), plus some Cotton and Steel for the binding. I even know how I'm going to quilt it. Now, who is going to baste it for me?

16 September, 2014

Y2K Charms as Leaders and Enders

My oldest UFO is finally turning into something! Serious progress here, folks.

These are the the Y2K swap charms I found in the garage this summer. I spent a lovely day - in between snack making, diaper changing, water balloons, and policing - getting these sorted. I decided to go for a simpler version than my original sketch. In part, because I knew I would never get it done if I got all fancy. And, in part, because the light/dark distinctions became pretty obvious.

There are certainly some special fabrics in the group! Predominantly calicos because that's what we did and what was available even in the 90s. Some novelty prints too. And a few special Australian fabrics in the mix. Anything goes.

That is how I am approaching the quilt making too. Simply sorted by value, that's all. I found a box lid that fits all the charms. It sits on my sewing table, at the ready. As I sew on other projects I grab from the box, as needed, to start and finish a seam. These have become my leaders and enders. So, instead of cutting threads at the end of the seam I feed a set of charms under the presser foot. Then I snip the growing chain off every time I finish another seam and add a charm. I prefer to make whole rows this way, rather than simply sewing pairs. It helps me keep track of the length and nothing is likely to get lost.

Each row will have 40 charms. Somewhere around 25 I switch from darks to light. That's because I have about two thirds dark and one third lights. I change it up and don't worry too much about the exact number. In total there will be 50 rows. That will finish out at an 80'' by 100'' quilt. Pretty big!

I have no idea how long it will take me to get to all 50 rows. I'll just keep at it. That is the good thing about a leaders and enders project, you end up making most of a quilt top without really thinking about it. I can say that these Round and Round blocks end up with me making progress on a row because there is a lot of stopping and starting with each strip added individually. As I make those blocks one at a time (although you could certainly chain piece them) I use the leaders and enders a lot.

Just keep sewing.

12 September, 2014

Friday Favourites - Henley Teapot

This is the best teapot ever. It doesn't drip, the tea stays hot, and it cleans up nicely.

We found this teapot about 12 years ago. My FIL was a big tea drinker, he had a pot at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He was forever frustrated by teapots that dripped so Hubby and I went on a mission to find him a better teapot. Store after kitchen store led us to an out of the way tea shop. Back when there really were no out of the way tea shops.

After he tried it I became convinced. I had a pot for home and one for the office. My MIL still has and uses the original pot we bought. When I would go on mat leave at the office it was a bit of a contest to see who would get my teapot while I was away.

The Henley teapot comes in multiple sizes and even different enamel colours. I like mine big and stainless. Many online tea stores have them now. Even the big A does too. Prices vary, so double check the size you are buying and shop around.

To be totally honest, it isn't perfect. If you don't keep it clean by rinsing or washing after each pot of tea the seal for the spout starts leaking. And it gets very hot on the outside with the tea on the inside. (When making loose tea I have to leave the lid off while brewing or it becomes impossibly hot on that little ball.) I can forgive it these faults completely because I don't have tea drips everywhere. And I can put it on the table without a hot mat below it. Plus, it looks pretty snazzy.

10 September, 2014

Great New Local Gig

My attempt to have a quieter fall has been thwarted by a few things. One, the snow that is still here! Two, a community project stealing all my weekends. And three, a full slate of teaching.

Join me at My Sewing Room for a whole slew of classes.

Slab Workshop
September 18 and 25 10am - 4pm
(If you've taken a short slab workshop from me before, this will still be a great class as you have plenty of time to sew and a lot of input from me as we put the technique into a whole quilt top.)

Values Quilts
September 23 and 30 6 - 9 pm
Full of tips and tricks for mastering value when choosing fabric, using half square triangles to play. Will also include a demo of a brand new values technique.

Beach Grass
October 14 and 21 10am - 4 pm
This is a great quilt from A Month of Sundays. Very fat quarter friendly too!

Sunday Morning
October 16 and 23 6 - 9 pm
Maybe one of the most popular quilts from Sunday Morning Quilts. We'll make blocks and assemble a top. Go low volume like the original or change it up. Watch for my new samples for other colour ideas.

Scrap Management Workshop
November 22 and 23 10am - 4pm and 11am - 5 pm
Show up with a suitcase or laundry basket or whatever filled with scraps. We'll tackled sorting, storage, and get going on your own individual quilt. Make one of the designs from Sunday Morning Quilts or be inspired by your scraps in a whole new way.

To register for any of the classes call My Sewing Room at 403-252-3711

08 September, 2014

Round and Round

Okay, so I didn't get rid of ALL of my scraps. I did hold on to the two big glass jars of strips and strings holding court in the studio. They were overflowing with leftovers from projects, binding, and backing. Augmented by a bag of scraps my students in Nova Scotia gave me last year and a shipment of Botanics strips from Carolyn Friedlander, they were in danger of taking over a certain corner of the studio.

Then I saw this quilt.

It hung out in the recesses of my brain for a few weeks, taunting me with its movement, tempting me to test its construction. I tried to make it go away, to convince it that I had other projects to finish. But it wouldn't listen. And a listless and stressful end to summer for me brought on a need to play. So I decided to make just one block, just to see what happened.

Well, like it is a physical impossibility for me to eat just one cookie or have just one piece of chocolate, I couldn't make just one block. The movement, the energy, the use of these scraps. They all add up to a heck of a lot of fun.

Each block measures 16.5'' square. I probably should have made them on a foundation, but I didn't. So I'm treating them carefully and only making more to add to the design wall. I've started with 4, 5, and 6 sides polygons. Maybe even 7 sides. It goes together, roughly, like a log cabin. Adding one side at a time. Sometimes I add a small bit, sometimes a long strip. Eventually they have to be squared up so I'm getting some odd bits at the end. I'm learning to keep at eye on the edges before I get up to size. Doing so saves me sewing things I will end up cutting off, as well as avoiding skinny bits along the edges.

Round and round I go, where I'll stop nobody knows.

Excuse the horrible photos. It is snowing today. No light in the studio.

04 September, 2014

Why I Shouldn't do Group Work

See these boxes? I found them in the garage clean out this summer. Know what's in them? Round Robins that are over a decade old. In fact, they are probably closer to 15 years old. I'm pretty sure they are circa the same era as my Y2K quilt as they would have been also started with contacts via the World Wide Quilting Page chat group.

I am the worst ever.

In digging through the boxes I see that I did start on my contribution for one of the quilts. But that strip is as far as I got.  This particular quilt was started by Sandi Irish, a great pattern designer. I seem to recall being so thrilled that I was in a group with her and look how I (nearly) threw it away. I've contacted Sandi to see if she wants her quilt back as is or if I can at least finally do what I was supposed to do in the first place and then send it back to her.

The other quilt belongs to a lady named Linda. But I can't seem to track down an address, Facebook link, or email. Oh no! (If any of you know of someone who went by the name Linda Tiwahe from Minnesota, please let me know.) So much work has gone into this that I hate to let it linger here anymore. It deserves to be a real quilt.

Oy. Don't ever let me be in a group project with you.

02 September, 2014

Gave Away My Scraps

This summer was all about cleaning up, purging, and moving on for me. I'm almost done a massive garage clean out where only garage related items are staying in there. Slowly but surely we are emptying the house of frivolous crap. And one day last week the need to empty my sewing room hit.

I store all my scraps on the shelves of my cutting table. My storage bins were kind of bursting, my glass jars were unable to keep their lids on, and the floor was littered with fabric. It was kind of insane. An honest craft room shot was required, but when the mood hit me to clean I couldn't even be bothered to stop and go upstairs to get my camera!

All of my colour sorted scraps got put in bags and stuffed into this box. And another bag. I had intended to list scrap bundles for sale, but decided I didn't even want to go through that. Not knowing how many local followers I have on Instagram I posted a pic there, with the words FREE TO A GOOD HOME. The only caveat was that the new owner had to pick them up from me. Within minutes I had a text from a friend who is a preschool teacher and a local quilter who just joined our modern quilt guild. Two days later all the scraps were out of my house.

Some of the fabrics there had been used many, many times. Some of the fabrics were at least a decade old. There were large pieces and small, in the entire rainbow of colours. For the record, that is a box that would fit 30 of my books in it and those are the Large size Ziploc bags.

It's just that I was kind of done with them. I kept seeing the same fabrics when I went in the bins to look for a bit of orange or grey. To be honest, they didn't get me excited anymore. And if I don't want to use my scraps then something is seriously wrong. I so needed a fresh slate. And by giving them away I was able to give someone else new inspiration and even some kids a host of possibilities. And the fabric has new life in someone else's hands. Have fun @quiltcrazy!

Now to get down to the business of creating new scraps.