Monday, February 27, 2012

No time to talk, must sew!

I've got a deadline coming up fast if I want to finish my Orange Twirl quilt in time to enter it into the Tangerine Tango Challenge.  Not completely satisfied with what I had come up with, I chose to put those quilt blocks on hold until I figured out what to do.  I  thought that it might be a good idea if I purchased a few more fabrics to give me some better options.  I placed my order online and my fabric arrived today,

with a surprise.  It seems that a substitution was made for one of my choices.  Can you guess which fabric above was not in my order but was sent as a replacement?  It's pretty, but I won't be using it for this project.

No time to delay, I've already got these new additions pre-washed and once they're finished drying I'll be pressing and cutting and stitching.   I'll be as busy as our local beaver seems to have been....

Check out what he's been making.  Our mild temperatures and mostly snow-free winter has allowed him to keep up his construction efforts, it appears.

I'm going to follow his example and see if I can get this quilt top re-worked.  The seam ripper has already seen some action as you can see below and there's more un-stitching to come. ;o)

I'm looking forward to getting this  jumble of blocks into a finished top!  So I best stop blathering and get sewing. ;o) 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Trying something new

Part of this week has been spent sketching out ideas that I want to sew, along with working on some patterns (and free tutorial ideas) that I want to be able to share with you soon.  Now if only my sewing speed was faster!  Proto-types and proof reading take time,  but I'm making progress and being patient with myself.  I did manage to transform one of my sketches into a little something.  I'm rather excited because it meant pushing myself to explore working with more solid coloured fabrics in my creations.

  Solid fabric has such impact and I've been enticed by the lovely range of colours now available. It is funny, that I consider it an adventure working with solids because for many years I mainly sewed solids, having been raised with the ideals that you can't combine more than 2 prints together.  Hence, that left me using solids with  maybe two prints total.  Prints combined without a solid to "tie them together" was viewed as a "no, no" in my household (thanks, mom! ;o).   Now, if you've been through my blog at all, it's obvious, I'm long past that belief!!  The more prints the merrier, I say, but since I've been bitten by the quilting bug, I've become so comfortable  combining prints  and have overlooked using solids in my projects for anything more than an backdrop.  It's time I put those solids on center stage!

I haven't gotten so far as to drop the prints altogether, but I'm dipping my toes into making more use of solids in this recent design.   I have a bit more tweaking to do to it, but have high hopes for it.  Hopes that include making this simple design into a tutorial I can share with you.  I am wondering what are your feelings for sewing with solid fabrics?   Are you really adept at it and use lots of solids or are you a bit like me and just experimenting?   Which are you more drawn to ... solids or prints?

While you're thinking about that, I have to show what landed in my mailbox at the end of this week.  I received this gorgeous and inspiring magazine as a prize from the talented Brigitte,  all the way from Germany.  I have been poring over this magazine and admiring the gorgeous projects and inspiring showcase of quilts from cover to cover!  Thanks again, Brigitte.

  Perhaps you don't know her, but let me tell you, Brigitte is a very talented designer and quilter.  I first discovered her after I stumbled across photos of her booth at Quilt Market last year.  I fell in love with what I saw.  She has an incredible aesthetic when it comes to colour (fabulous use of solids) and elegant, clean designs.  No wonder  that she  has two features in this very magazine.  One shows her lovely  studio in her home (there she is, below... hello, Brigitte!).

The second  is for a  Zen Chic project - a beautiful table runner that Brigitte designed. Can I tell you how much I love her brand, Zen Chic!

  I want to encourage you to go visit Brigitte at her blog, Farbstoff.  You will be inspired, I promise.  One of the regular features she blogs about is choosing colours.  She puts together the most gorgeous palettes, selecting her colours based upon an image of something in nature or even in the man-made world.   Brigitte also has an online shop with modern designer fabrics, here along with patterns and kits you can purchase.   Happy Sewing!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Button Heart Pins

Remember these crochet hearts? 

I thought about making them into a bunting for my sewing room, but then I accidentally ( um... this happens  when I have several projects spilled out on the table at the same time) came up with adding pretty buttons, to make them extra special.

Then I remembered I had a package of jewelry pin backs gathered from a thrifting foray.  A few quick stitches later, I can  now pin my colourful hearts to bags, collars or whatever I fancy.  Thought I'd share the idea with you, in case you  need a quick, simple gift.

On another topic...  having read other posts about the annoyance of having 2 ( sometimes very, very hard to read) words to enter to prove you're not a robot when leaving comments on Blogger... I decided to shut off word verification on my blog.   Within 24 hours, I was spammed, more than a half dozen times.  sigh.  Feeling frustrated, I've turned the word verification back on.   Anybody know a way around having to use word verification that doesn't invite spam?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm a guest...

over at Sew WE Quilt today!  Please, come visit.  I'm sharing a couple of my tutorials and showing some new pics of my quilt, Pretty Please.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Polka Dots and Pattern Drafting

Doesn't feel like Tuesday today.  I guess that's because yesterday was Family Day here in Alberta, so now I'm one day off this week. ;o)  I do wish that extra day to the weekend meant I accomplished more sewing, but it didn't.  Instead I enjoyed a long weekend of family time, which I cherish.

Anyways, with so many WIPs stacking up around here, I shall divert you with the contents of a pretty parcel that I received.  Almost a month ago I was one of the lucky few to take part in a charm swap featuring polka dots, over at Craftbuds.

 Look what arrived in my mailbox!
  Glorious dots in a rainbow of colours and sizes... all from Sew Fresh Fabrics.   Many thanks to Peg and Becca for cutting, packaging and posting all these lovely fabrics from their lovely fabric shop to the homes of every swapper.   Wow.   I'm loving that I have 2 charms of 28 different dotted fabrics to play, admire, create with!  This swap was so well organized... I wonder if they could be convinced to do this again... they have some dotted fabrics that didn't get chosen for this swap and who wouldn't like more dots?

Speaking of creating... nothing finished to share with you as I've been busy drafting some designs for quilts and some sewing patterns.   I've managed to whip up a couple of prototypes too, but they are staying under wraps for now.  Those need some more tweaking, so more prototypes will be made.  Things are getting a bit messy in the sewing room as more fabrics are being pulled from the stash, including some scrappy bits in hopes that some of these newly drafted ideas will soon be made into something share-worthy. ;o)

Maybe the short work week will lead to some break-through finishes?  Fingers crossed....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just in time for Valentine's Day

 My newest design...  the One Heart Reading Pillow!

The shape of this pillow is perfect for reading in bed due to it's triangle shape which keeps your back supported.  Although I've made this style of pillow before, I started out with the idea of piecing a heart from scraps. 

A year ago, I drafted a heart shape, then paper pieced red/pink/white fabrics together and hand appliqued them to the white background fabric.   The whole pillow was white and I was going to cover it with free motion quilted writing.  Then I changed my mind and the project was put aside.  A new year, brought me new ideas.  I realized this would be a perfect opportunity to use my burgeoning button collection.

Once I sorted out which buttons I wanted to use (avoiding any with shanks), I used a dab of fabric glue to position the buttons in place.

 The purpose of using washable fabric glue?  I wanted to temporarily hold the layout of those buttons so that I could machine stitch them in place.    I've sewn buttons on using my machine for many years now, although this is the first time I've used glue to hold buttons in place before sewing, but it worked quite well.

Check out the button love!

The next new idea for the pillow was to eliminate all that white!  I decided the back of my reading pillow could be made using red and cream pieces left from my Pretty Please quilt, supplemented by pinks from my scrap bin.  I was trying to repeat the colours used for the scrappy pieced heart in pinks and reds on the pillow front.

Circles were quilted on the red/pink zig zags, while the cream fabrics were quilted with the word "love" running across the width of the pillow.   A fun way to practise some free motion quilting!

Figuring out how to quilt the pillow front had me stumped.  Every idea I sketched up got tossed aside until I remembered how I quilted my Forgotten Charms  quilt.  I loved the texture those swirly "S" shapes made, so that became the quilting design outside the heart on the front.

Determined to make this completely from my stash, I found that the only cording I had to make piping was quite large.  I'll admit, it was more challenging to sew, especially at the points of the pillow, more than narrow piping would've been, but I do like how you see more of the dotty print I used for the piping this way.  Speaking of dots... couldn't resist more dots for the pillow's side panels.  You know my love of dots! ;o)

The underside of the pillow is a solid piece of fabric, rather than patchwork.  I do love how this tonal print ties in with all the patchwork fabrics.
Can you see the hidden zipper that makes this cover removeable?
One Heart is made up of so many of my favourites...pretty scraps, buttons, polka dots, pinks with reds... sigh... that I'm looking forward to putting it to use the next time I want to settle in to read a favourite book. 

I'm linking up with Fabric Tuesdays over at Quilt Story.

***Edited to add***
There have been some questions about the pattern for my pillow and due to the interest, I'm seriously considering making it into a PDF pattern and selling it.  I need your help in deciding.

  I'm thinking of giving several options for it.  One would be basic (no patchwork) and perhaps a couple other versions.     Would you like the pattern to be in a tutorial style or would written directions with a few pictures work best for you?  I could include instructions for the patchwork plus applique as well as how to make your own piping.  What do you think?  Thanks so much for your lovely feedback.  I really appreciate it!

PS...Rachel, as you are a no reply blogger, I couldn't answer you directly.  One Heart is a pillow cover(it has a hidden zipper), which means I also sewed and stuffed the pillow insert that fits inside the cover.  Hope that helps.

**** Thanks for your feedback. I have a reading pillow pattern available in PDF format at Craftsy. The shape is the same as the one heart reading pillow, but instead of a heart, I've re-designed the pillow to be made using pre-cuts to form hexagons.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Colourful Crochet for Friday Finish

It's Friday and I've got a finish to share!  I'm linking up with friends over at Crazy Mom Quilts (be prepared to be inspired by great finishes this week).

Lately, it appears that crochet is being shared more often on my blog than anything sewing related.  I've dabbled with crochet, on and off since I was a young girl.  Back then, I loved  the immediate gratification of this craft... and I still do.  Combine the quick results with colourful threads and you may understand why I'm hooked (sorry, couldn't resist that pun!;o) 

I completed the motifs in December and then put them aside to await blocking. Earlier this week, I finally got out my steamer and blocked all those colourful motifs.  Blocking did make a noticeable difference in the appearance by opening up the design and making sure each will lie flat.  Ridiculous how long I managed to put off this necessary step.

The pattern for these colourful doilies is in Linda Permann's book, Crochet Adorned.  The book is full of inspiring and modern crochet projects that will have you wanting to pick up your hooks and yarn.  It's a fantastic book and one I hope to add to my own library.

What  did I finally make with those doilies?

A whimsical table runner!

It now resides on a side table in the living room where the colours complement my Sparkle Snowflake cushion and the matching Snowman cushions.  Nothing like bright colours to liven a snowy, winter day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Part of the process?

Okay, so it's crazy, but I'm hoping that while I'm crocheting little treats, like these...

I may come to a decision about the layout for my Orange Twirl Quilt.  All the blocks are sewn, but I'm not sure if I'm completely satisfied with the arrangement of them.  I think it's because I've thrown in a few extra orange prints (in order to have enough fabric to make this lap sized) - ones that maybe grab the eye too much?  My goal is have your eyes travel the quilt, see the contrast, recognize that there's a pattern and still find it interesting - in a cohesive but not boring way.   I don't want one area to overwhelm another... which can happen when you have fabrics that read bolder than others (which is why I limited the use of brown in this quilt... your eye is immediately drawn to that fabric).  Let me say, that I do enjoy the challenge to find an interesting balance when I lay out fabrics for a quilt, but sometimes this part of the process takes more time before I feel that I have it.   So I realize I need to just step back from working on it and see what strikes me when I look at it.

That being said, it seems working out my quilt's layout, involves diverting my creative energy into other projects. ;o)

 I whipped up some teeny crochet hearts and then I grabbed a couple of granny blocks and played around with adding chocolate brown as the background colour.  A colourful diversion, which I hope leads me  to deciding the final layout for my quilt.

What do you do when you're trying to decide how to finish a project? Do you just push on through - no hesitations?  Do you step back from it for awhile to give yourself fresh eyes to find the solution?  Or do you step back and start working on other things, hoping the answer will come to you?  Just wondering.....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Keeping busy

between several projects this week, I've also managed to lose some time on Pin interest.  Ack.  All that pinning sparked more creative ideas, which means more projects I want to make, so there's a mess happening in my sewing room at the moment.  Looking at what I've pinned, it should come as no surprise that a few new crochet granny squares are underway.  I just can't seem to get enough of bright colours right now.

Speaking of bright colours, I am making steady progress on my Orange Twirl blocks.  After some sewing time  early this morning, I went from having just over half the blocks pieced,

Finished blocks are on the left... waiting to be pieced (with one block at my sewing machine at time of photo) are those on the right.
to being two-thirds finished.  Although the piecing does take a little time, I made it longer because I kept playing with the layout of the fabrics and even cut new ones to add some spice to the mix. ;o)  I'm pleased with the look so far and fingers crossed I will finish piecing today.

The last project I'm sharing today, is one I am so close to finishing.  I crocheted up different sized motifs in 3 different colours for a project near the end of 2011.  It's been waiting for me to block it before I can assemble it.  Not hard, right?  But it meant I needed my whole ironing board to use as a pin board and that meant not being able to use my ironing board for anything while I was blocking my crochet.  Lame excuse for not blocking sooner, but that's me. ;o)  Anyways, last night I pulled out those motifs and grabbed some straight pins. 

Please excuse the ugly steam stains on my ironing board.  Can you believe I made this cover new about 6 months ago?  I guess that reveals just how much I use my ironing board!
The good news is that as of this morning, all those motifs have been blocked.  Time to stitch them together.  It would be good to have at least ONE finish this week. ;o)  What are you working on this week?

I love Wednesdays because I'm linking up with friends here:

 and with more friends here:

Friday, February 3, 2012

For the love of orange...

Thought I'd let you know about a challenge taking place here, in case you want some orange inspiration or would like to enter in on the fun.  I hope to finish the Orange Twirl quilt in time to enter this challenge which is open now and will close March 2, 2012.  Click the link above to find out more!
Now that the day's work has been done, I'm off to piece more blocks before bed!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I know I've mentioned before that I tend to have several projects on the go at any given time, so this post will come as no real surprise.  While work on the project yesterday reached a sticking point (meaning I had come to a stop because I was deliberating on how to get the look I want), inspiration struck.  No, not in how I would finish that project, but for a new project.  A project that would use the orange fabrics left from the crazy 9 patch blocks for my husbands quilt. Oh, yeah!  Check out my first block...

I think I've seen this design called a snail's trail?  I'm not sure.  It looks like the blocks are spinning or twirling to me, so for now I'm referring to it as the Orange Twirl Quilt.  The cutting is really straight forward as it's all squares, but it did take me last evening and part of this morning to complete because I was working with leftover fabrics and not yardage.    Then the playing began.  I arranged the fabrics like this...

and then like this....  This design really relies on contrast, so before I started, I tried to place all the fabrics in stacks of light or dark.  That helped, but it often takes standing back from the layout and viewing the arrangement from a distance or taking a photo of the placement to really see how the colours are interacting with one another.

 You can just see some of my crazy 9 patch blocks on the left of my design board.  All necessary blocks are made... but I'm still waiting for my hubby to contribute some of his artwork to be included in the quilt top before I can go further on this quilt.

I managed to  get four rows of four blocks each out of all the orange fabrics I had on hand (even though it looks incomplete in the picture above, I have the pieces to finish those lower blocks - I just ran out of space on my design board).    I'm looking forward to spending an evening piecing while enjoying an audio book and with any luck, a finishing idea will come to me so I complete the project I showed you a peek of earlier this week. ;o)

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's the middle of the week. Again?

Want a little look at what I spent some time on today?   First there was some piecing,  next came basting
then some free motion quilting.  Variegated thread is always fun to play with!

Soon it was time to shake out the button box for another  idea!
 A dab of washable glue to temporarily hold each button, before I  machine stitched them into place made things much easier.
Whew.  That was a lot of buttons to stitch! 
Want to see what my friends have been making today?  Click through to find out!

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