Monday, 31 January 2011

Skirt and Dress

So, I kind of finished my dress, the one I started 2 summers ago... it's a disaster (not sure what the "easy" was meant for... it had pleats and ruffles and linings and fitted busts - I found it hard!). I'll post pictures of that soon... After that low, I turned some pants I was sentimentally attached to into a skirt and that turned out great! I'll post photos of that this week as well, just have to hem it first!

So clothes from patterns, I'll leave to the professionals, but remodelling I'm quite happy with :)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


Ah, check out my recent order from Connecting Threads... isn't it beautiful?

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Jen's Quilt - A Big Tree

I had another request from a friend to make her a quilt as a commission. We started picking out fabrics together at the store, and the she bought a bunch more and mailed them to me.

Originally, she wanted a copy of my Mossy Monkey Mechanic, but then she found another pattern, and another and another ;) One of the quilt pictures she sent me looked really familiar and turned out to be a quilt made by Anne of Film and Thread (my friend found the photo on someone's photo collection site and it took me a while to figure out where I knew the quilt from)

In the end, my friend let me decide whether to make her a tree similar to Anne's or a Lonestar (the one with diamond shapes, 8 pointed) as long as her aubergine fabric was the main fabric.

I picked the tree and made a bigger version of my Tree of Hope. A much bigger version. Queen-sized, to be specific :)

I started by laying out two strips of background aubergine fabric and playing with the layout of the tree trunk and leaves I had cut out.

When I liked the layout, I used safety pins to fixate all the pieces.

Then I took the 2 background pieces apart to have less fabric to maneuvre around the machine while I free-motion straight-stitched around all the leaves and the trunk pieces.

When that was all done, I joined the background pieces with a straight seam across, and sewed down the rest of the trunk (that went across the seam).

I also started playing around with borders. I had figured out measurement to use 3" (final) squares in rows of 4 all the way around. I forgot that I had cut the background fabric a bit bigger, for safety (not sure what kind of safety... where could I have possibly lost fabric in one straight seam???) Anyway, because of that, the number of squares I cut wasn't enough to reach all the way around, and 4 rows in the border would have made the quilt bigger than my friend wanted it.

(Looking at this layout now, I think I will add some more leaves to the right, the heaviness on the left bothers me a wee bit :)

So I downsized to 3 rows, still okay, and maybe less overpowering for the centre...

Here are the squares of the border sewn together - I love how quilts look better and better when the seams are completed - raw edges sometimes really make a layout look bad, but I've learned to trust that finished seams will make layouts and even colour combinations look better!

In between joining border blocks, I zigzagged around the leaves and the trunk. I only did the original seam to hold everything in place and not run into problems with shifting fabric. I didn't use any glue, interface or fusible webbing to hold this shapes in place, and didn't have any problems.

The border is now attached to the quilt center - looks great! Just didn't have a chance to take a photo yet. I'm also still waiting on a recent thread order to finish zigzagging around some leaves for which I didn't have a matching thread colour... I have 2 more months to finish this quilt, my own deadline, and since I'm planning some elaborate quilting, that'll be just enough time!

I love making a quilt for someone I care about, especially when they were involved in the design process!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Last Disaster???

Okay, big breath! It's ready for basting! That thing. That disastrous quilt top I've only been working on for 2 years. Geesh.

After my post the other day, highlighting this - hopefully - last disaster of non-matching corner patterns,

... I pulled this quilt back out and fixed my mistake. Two unnecessary seams later, the top is complete. And it looks good. It's growing on me again.

[A little voice in my hand is whispering frantically that certainly many more things could go wrong with this quilt... I'm ignoring it!]

I do like the effect of the purple corners, it gives the quilt more dimension, no? Like someone took a purple triangle and shoved it between the light and green layers...

Haha, here are the middle wedges, when I had made the side borders too short... see, I can laugh about it now!

And the more I look at these wide open spaces, the more I'm drifting away from my vengeful stippling quilt-plan and am moving instead to diagonal lines through the "chain" and old-fashioned feather circles in the white, in white thread. I love the look of those, white on white, and I feel confident enough to try feathers like that on a proper quilt, yet still small-scale!

First things first though! Basting :)

I'll leave you with a fridge-magnet quote - this purchase was a direct result of some fun email-conversations about books I've had recently with my name sake from Bella Linguini. We both like Kurt Vonnegut books a lot, so this magnet caught my eye - though I'd never known before what the guy looks like :)

I think he sums it up very well...

Monday, 17 January 2011

Disappearing Marker

I've read a few reviews on marking pens over the years and even bought one myself last year. It's a pink water soluble disappearing marker made by Singer (like my machine - I'm such a loyal customer :)

I decided to personalize the Red & Aqua quilt for my friend's baby boy named Jack. So I wrote his name across the top and his birth-time, -date and weight at birth across the bottom.

The marking pen has a fine point and a broad tip, and I find that the fine point often doesn't show up or disappears so quickly, that I can't quilt fast enough to keep up with it. So after a moment of hesitation, I took the broad tip and started writing. It showed up well, though the writing was quite fat and I was *hoping* it would go away afterwards! (I'm not one for testing swatches. I never test cremes on hidden parts of my body, I never knit a gauge - no wonder things don't work out in the "knitting of garments" department... luckily, I've not had any disasters with cremes yet!)

Here's what it looked like about 10 min after I marked the text; you can see that the writing is relatively faint.

So imagine my horror when I sprayed it with water and the paint just intensified 10 x!

There I was standing with my water spray bottle (I wanted to mail the quilt the next day, so didn't want to put it in the sink or through the wash...), going pffft, pffft, pffft in rapid succession to get as much water on that section as possible!

*Luckily*, the pen label wasn't lying, and after a few more squirts to soak the fabric, the writing did go away, phew!

Maybe someday, I'll even dare use the pen on white fabric :)

Friday, 14 January 2011

Another day

... another snow storm!

Supposedly all 10 Canadian provinces had snowfall on the same day, even the city of Vancouver, BC (they of course have snow in the Rocky Mountains of BC, but normally it just rains in Vancouver in the winter - their record is something like 43 days of rain in a row - I couldn't do it... even if parts of the province are called Sunshine Coast). Some of the territories (farther north) had blue skies at the same time, but -35 degrees; maybe it was too cold to snow there?

In miscellaneous news: As I replied to some of your comments, I found something other than my laptop to fit into the "too-small" sleeve I made. Having this pretty cover around my statistics book somehow makes me feel better about statistics. And that's a good thing, because my head is already buzzing with the analysis of some data sets for work!

Remember my blue and aqua quilt?

It's being packed up this afternoon to start a long journey all the way to Australia, where one of my friends finally smartened up and had a baby so that I can start giving my many baby quilts away :) She lives far enough south of Queensland that floods aren't a problem, luckily. Not sure what the point of a quilt in the summer is, but hey, it must get cold there sometime ;)

And lastly, I thought I'd share my Disaster Quilt misery with you. This latest disaster happened back in December, but I've been oppressing all thought about it since then...
Well, the disaster itself happened even earlier. Here's the full story:
I had my triple Irish chain quilt top center finished since early 2009 or something horrendously long ago like that. I finally gathered my will to add borders, but didn't want just blah-solid borders and also didn't want to add more than two strips per body. Strange determination, but there you have it.

So I came up with this fancy 45 degree angle corner pieces on the outside border (the purple in the above photo; the green is the main border). I had a few problems with my calculations - or is that "lack of calculations"... here's a hint - do not eyeball the length of strips when you're attaching them with diagonal seams! After piecing and adding and adding some more, and then adding another strange contrasting fabric in the middle of the border because everything was too short, I finally got it right, or so I thought!

I put the quilt away for a while to recover from all my measuring head aches, then took it back out before Christmas to see if I couldn't baste this quilt to at least meet some of my 2010 goals (remember my sidebar?). Well, I had it all spread out on the batting, ready to sandwich, when I took a step back to admire my handiwork and saw this:

Good thing there are no small children Miss Manners around my place :) Corner on the right is how it's supposed to look. Corner on the left side, not so much. I could have cried! I guess I must have been working late at night once again, to make such a mistake. Argh! This quilt has been disastrous from the start (apart from picking the fabrics, that was super easy...) - all my fault and laziness of course, but frustrating nonetheless!

On some "good" day in the future, I will sit down and fix this corner, then baste the quilt and do some extra large meandering all over the quilt to be done with it with minimum effort! No more fanciness on this quilt!!!

So, do I get snickering and "silly you"s or does anyone out there have a load of sympathy they'd like to send my way????

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

MadMind Quilt

It's been a while since I've worked on this quilt:

I called it BrownBlueART - but no longer!

I ran out of steam and variegated thread - but both problems have been remedied!

I finished quilting this thing last night. I call it 'thing' because I look at it and shake my head in wonder at what I was doing :) Hence the new name, MadMind - I think only a mad mind could have come up with that kind of quilting!!!

Yup, told you it's crazy!

Here are some details. First off, my actual hand-print - I outlined my hand, quilted around it, then sketched in my "finger print" and the palm-reading lines. I like this one, and I like the wavy-net background that makes the hand stand out.

Next, my actual profile (hard to see, it got a bit too busy around it, but that's okay, I'm okay with my face being mysteriously hidden in the quilt). For this, I outlined the shadow of my profile on a piece of paper stuck to the wall as the sun was setting. Let me tell you, that was DIFFICULT! I used a mirror, but had to draw at quite the angle, which was awkward.
Quilting the hair was a lot of fun; I simply eye-balled the eyes, nostril and lips.

The eye in the dead center was one of the first things I quilted. I used to love drawing eyes, especially ones showing different emotions. I took drawing lessons for a year and a bit when I was younger, and I enjoyed the eye-sessions a lot even then. The spider web is also one of my favourites on the quilt.

Besides feathers, I played around with a lot of shapes and filler designs and also practiced echo-quilting. I like the look of echos, but the quilt gets a bit too sturdy for a functional quilt, in my opinion.

Here's the back of the quilt. I started out with dark blue bobbin thread so that it wouldn't show up so much on the front and the blue thread was bought on sale. But when I ran out towards the end, I first used up a bobbin with brown thread, then dark green and lastly light gray - I was simply too lazy to wind a new bobbin, whereas I usually switch bobbins without cutting the top thread... Since this is an artsy, display type quilt, I didn't care if the thread on the back looked good. The back is certainly the more 'calming for the eye' side!

I did have some tension problems throughout quilting, e.g. seeing the bobbin thread on the top of the quilt, and especially bad tension on the back, when turning tight corners quickly. But again, doesn't matter, the back won't be on display :)

Nonetheless, I find the back side an interesting study for my plans of "whole cloth quilting" parts of my Free as a Bird quilt. I really like the look of matching thread on medium to light-coloured fabric.

Now I'm off to binding this quilt. I do seem to crave the silent nature of hand-binding these days. Unfortunately, none of my other quilts are anywhere near ready for binding... maybe that will change in this month :) Fingers crossed!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Laptop Sleeve


Happy New Year everyone!

Right now, the view from my window looks like this:

A proper snow fall, the first of the year (2011!), and it just started this morning...

I spent my new year's eve - no, not finishing up the many projects from 2010 that were left behind, but sewing up a little laptop sleeve following Anne's (of Film and Thread) tutorial. She had warned me to make my first seam and then checking the size of the laptop against the sleeve before turning it inside out. Well, of course I didn't do that, but I also think that the 2 layers of batting I sewed in took away quite a bit of the space, leading to the sleeve being so tight on my laptop that I'm worried it'll damage it (too much pressure on the electronics or something...).

Unfortunately, my laptop is very small, so it's not like the sleeve will fit a slightly smaller laptop... oh well, I'll find something else that fits inside, cause I think it's a pretty pouch! :)

I used fabrics that I won at the quilt retreat last fall, coupled with a reddish-purple solid.

It's reversible, though I'll probably never reverse it. I had planned for the flap to be the opposite, i.e. pattern against the purple and solid against the pattern, for contrast, but my 3D thinking failed me somehow...

I quilted all sides with wavy lines before I put the interior and exterior layers together.

I had originally taken this project with me for hand-sewing during my christmas trip (12 days all over Ontario with lots of time on the bus, and I mean *lots* of time - one trip was 10 h long. Dang, that province looks so much smaller on the map!), but I've realized that (a) I've been spoiled by quick machine-sewing so much that hand-sewing just takes way too long, and (b) with all the batting, the layers were quite thick, making hand-sewing plain cumbersome.

The tutorial itself was super easy and I recommend it! I love that Anne hand-wrote and -drew it, gives it such a nice personal touch!