Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A quick stop

Pillow in progress

There will be no sewing this week at SCQ Towers, but I can show you my progress on the pillows/cushions I am making with the She Can Quilt Blogger Bundle from Fluffy Sheep Quilting. I have wanted a wonky cross pillow for a long time, and I am so pleased at how these fabrics work together using this pattern. The back is quilted too, and so all I need it time to add the invisible zipper and write you the quick tutorial, hopefully Friday night.


Here is my other pillow top so far. I made a pillow with this sort of improv pixels with white Essex Linen for a swap a while ago and have been wanting to do something similar for me. I am looking forward to finishing it too.

Other news:

  • The mention of QuitCon got everyone booking hotels already. I saw a note that the MQG is going to get some more rooms for those of us who did not realize there was a rush. I am so going, it is going to be so fun to meet so may of my internet friends in person.
I have a really busy work schedule this week, so off I go.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Featuring Oakshott Fabrics and a give away

Today I am featuring my wonderful sponsor, Oakshott Fabrics. Oakshott Fabrics is a family run business in the UK, and I have had the pleasure of visiting twice with Micheal Oakshott in person at the Fat Quarterly Retreat in London. He is charming, interesting, and committed to providing top quality, beautiful fabrics to quilters and the sewing community. Michael and his mother Julia have and continue to develop the most beautiful colour range of the beautiful quality unique fabrics in careful and thoughtful partnerships with their suppliers.

Oakshott Fabrics has the fastest and most efficient shipping of any fabric store I have dealt with - generally if I order on Monday I have the order in my hands in Canada by the same week's end, usually sooner. Also, if you do not live in the UK, you will not be charged the British VAT taxes, they are taken off before you checkout. These fabrics are also becoming more available at other shops around the world too.

Crimson, Pink, Blood Orange and Saffron - Red inspired mini quilts

A shot cotton generally has two different colours woven together, one in the warp and a different one in the weft. The differences in those colours gives the fabric depth and movement. The use of wonderful cotton threads adds the shine and sparkle to these 100% cotton fabrics that is so hard to photograph.


My love of Oakshott Fabric's shot cottons has been long standing and you have seen them often on my blog. You might remember my quilt Red, which is made from Oakshott Colourshotts and Essex Linen. This quilt just shines in the sun.

Today I have two prizes to give away, and I think we should have two winners. One is that beautiful package of fat eights of Lipiari shot cottons. Each of these fabrics is has a black warp and a colourful weft. They sparkle like the downtown lights on a midnight walk just after the rain. One day I will make a cocktail dress out of one of these fabrics, they are so elegant.

Ohio Stars

I tend to pair the Oakshotts with Essex Linen it seems, here are my stars made with Lipiaris, but they work fantastically with regular quilting cottons too.

Stars, a table runner

I made the Lipiari stars  into a lovely runner that works all winter, not just for the holidays and is still out on my sideboard.

Our other prize is a set of 10" squares (layer cake size) of the 30 fabrics in the new Colourshott line. Michael has been working hard over the last several months to develop these new Colourshotts. The colours and drape of the fabrics are fantastic.

So to enter to win one of these two prizes, here are the three options for entries into the random draw:

  • Leave me a comment letting me know if you have used Oakshott shot cottons before, which of these two prizes you prefer and what you are thinking of using them for.
  • Sign up for the the Oakshott Fabrics Newsletter and leave me another comment to let me know you did or that you are already signed up. Go here to sign up for the newsletter at the bottom right.
  • If you have already done both of the above, and follow my blog or me on Instagram or become a new follower, you can have leave a third comment letting me know you do.
  • Make sure I can reach you, if in doubt, put your email address in your comments.

I will close this draw at 6:00 p.m. Friday, February 28. It will be a wonderful month end win for a couple of you.

she can quilt

By the way, Jess and I are so pleased that so many of you have filled out our survey for Decipher Your Quilt. If you have not filled it out yet, please go here to read about our new series and I hope you will take a minute to fill in the survey too.



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sewing, news and a winner


Let's start with the sewing. I started this project about a week ago. I wanted to play with the little two patch block of two rectangles that you can see in that placemat. That one above is my favourite - it is an "L" block, you know, for Leanne.


I knew that this block was a way to get zig zags without using any triangles but had never made it. I like them running up and down instead of the usual horizontal.

These fabrics are Sphere by Zen Chic - which I bought as soon as it was out from Green Fairy Quilts - and Kona White. I love blue, yellow and white - a very Mediterranean colour scheme and since my kitchen has blue accents these will work very nicely as placemats.


This mat is another favourite. Somehow a rectangular patchwork grid is so pleasing to me, I wonder why.


And pinwheels, again without triangles. As you can see, I gravitate to the blocks with white and a print as the contrasts are more defined. But the pinwheels work for me too.

Different layouts for one block

Here is a mosaic of some of the patterns I found with the two patch - these are not pieced, just laid out on the design wall so you need to imagine them with the tightening up the sewing together would cause. I am certain there are many more too. This whole thing with the two patch started as part of the Decipher Your Quilt series - which you can read about here and don't forget to fill out our survey please.

I need a couple more placemats for the set so I am going to make more blocks and pick a couple more of the designs. These are a relaxing sewing project to have on hand when it is too busy to do a lot of sewing at a time. I need to decide how I will make the placemats the same size -  make some of the mats bigger or trim some down, or make the big ones into runners and make more mats. 

Our winner for the Green Fairy Quilts Bartholomeows Reef layer cake give away is Janet. Congratulations Janet, I will send you an email shortly.


Today I get to play some more with the she can quilt blogger's bundle from Fluffy Sheep Quilting, which arrived last week at my house from my friend Cindy. Isn't this bundle nice? I'm making pillows, and I will have a short tutorial for you soon too. 

Triangle City 

I have to share that I am thrilled and honored that Triangle City was selected to be in the top 10 of the 390 quilts entered in the Modern Quilt Guild's Riley Blake Fabric Challenge. You can see all 10 beautiful quilts here, and some of my internet buddies are there, including Christa from Christa Quilts and Melissa from Happy Quilting.


By the way, the dates for QuiltCon have been announced. I plan to go, maybe I will meet you there?

Aside from the day job work I have to do, it is going to be a fun weekend with all this sewing. Tomorrow I am off to Sparrow Studioz to take a course about using my new Millennium long arm machine.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Decipher Your Quilt - please join us

Decipher your quilt

Today Jess, from The Elven Garden, and I are going to tell you about new series - Decipher Your Quilt. We are inviting you to give us some information to allow us to tailor it to your needs by filling out our anonymous questionnaire by clicking here.

I love quilting, in part because it is all about colour and shapes - sometimes repeating in the most organized fashion and sometimes just improv.

New Leaf Ohio Star

However, it is often hard to figure out how a quilt block is actually made, what the measurements are and how it comes together. And what if you want to make them bigger or smaller and don't have instructions in a pattern?

Blended Scraps - detail

In fact it can also be hard sometimes to really identify the blocks in the quilt in the first place (do you see that Blended Scraps block is really just HSTs?)

DQS11 on my original Irish Chain

Decipher Your Quilt is all about getting straightforward answers to those kinds of questions without giving anyone a headache. We will share our knowledge with plenty of examples and photos, and will also find links to explanations, measurements and techniques that will be helpful to you.

We are asking your to fill out our survey - just click here to do so - so that we can understand everyone's needs better.  It will only take you a minute, does not require you to share your name and has  space at the end for you to write whatever else you wish to share.

Ohio Stars

You will also find in the survey a place to add a "Dear Abbey" style question (or more) for us to incorporate in the series. We are happy to get more "Dear Jess and Leanne" questions though out the series and we will set up a way to allow you to do that anonymously once the series starts. Of course, you can also ask questions via a comment on either of our blogs too.

We have set up a flickr group - Decipher Your Quilt - and we hope you will join us there too. Post photos of projects where you have been able to decipher your quilt, your blocks, or generally have figured out some of the quilting calculations. You can also find us on Instagram - Leanne here and Jess here, please use the hashtag #decipheryourquilt so that we won't miss your photos.


You can find our tentative schedule on a separate pages on my blog and on Jess's blog. Please grab our button, the one on my blog will take you back here and the one on Jess's will take you to her blog. Jess and I will be taking different parts of each topic each week.

Jess and I will each post on Thursdays - it took some figuring to sort out how to have both posts go live at the same moment on the same day of the week because Jess is in Australia and I am in western Canada. Look for our posts at midnight MST and 6:00 p.m. AEDT (which is about 7 a.m. in London, for example).

Scrappy Trip

We are very excited about this series, so please fill out the survey, grab one of our buttons and join the Flickr group. Our first posts will be up on March 6.

she can quilt

p.s. If you have not yet entered the Green Fairy Quilts sponsored give away, what are you waiting for, please go here to do so as it closes first thing Friday morning.



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

First Long Arm Quilting - its so fun

Giant Plus - before washing

I will introduce you properly to this Giant Plus quilt tomorrow or later this week, after I wash her and take some properly lit photos. However, to show you the quilting, these lighting conditions are better as they show the shadows. The quilt is about 64" square and the fabrics are the Nordika line by Jeni Baker.

Today I am sharing my first long arm quilting on my new machine on a quilt. Working on quilting cottons, as opposed to finer IKEA fabric, sure makes it easier to get the tension right.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

I quilted different designs in each plus, so the quilt is a quilting sampler. I found that the designs that I have used on my regular machine were easy to do on the long arm. My brain has already got them and the ease of moving the machine instead of the fabric and the better visibility of where you are going next made those motifs even easier for me to do.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

Motifs like that allegedly giant flower in the black flower plus were much harder and mostly look like scribbles.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

A regular rounded stipple is the easiest. I am sure I could have done the whole quilt that way in no time at all.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

Loopy loops were also fast and easy.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

I do less well with circles and swirls. The circles were hard to keep even and also I did not know how to arrange them on the space very well. Also, the machine likes to go from side to side and front to back the best. In fact it will make a straight horizontal line by pushing it gently with on finger. It happily goes around and diagonally, but takes more control by the operator. I need loads of practice.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

Relatively straight lines, using the edge of the hopping foot as a guide are also fairly easy but you are limited to about 1/4" apart. I need to investigate if there are other hopping feet with a wider guide mark. Of course you can also get long arm rulers, but totally straight lines are not usually what I am going for.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

As you can see, matchstick quilting is not hard to do either. I am eager to try it on a wider space to see if the need for me to move with the machine makes it harder.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

Again, with the lines 1/4' apart. In all these photos you also see the wavy lines I did on the background. They were so easy. The machine likes to stay in a horizontal line. So I was careful to just wobble it gently and it kept mostly in line so there was no tipping over at the edges. I will be using the wobbly lines often I think.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

The squared off stipple like design is one of my favourites (I used it on my Mod Pop quilt). The long arm makes it easier to actually get squared off corners.

Giant Plus - detail before washing

So there you have it, the first quilt on my new APQS Millennium long arm quilting machine. I am going to wash it after work to see how that impacts the quilting and then take some much nicer photos. I have a lot to learn, but I am happy about the fact that I can turn out a reasonable and surely cuddly product right from the start - not professional grade or anything but as good as I could do with my regular machine. In a few months we can all look back and, hopefully, see significant improvement.

I'm far behind on answering comments (and I don't answer giveaway comments, but there is still a big backlog leaving those out) but I will try to catch up tonight. Also, if you have not yet entered the Green Fairy Quilts giveaway, please go here and join in.



Monday, February 17, 2014

Featuring Green Fairy Quilts and a giveaway

This week I am featuring a new sponsor of my blog, Green Fairy Quilts. Green Fairy Quilts is a family business run by Clint and Judi Madsen and it focuses on selling pre-cuts, thread and a few notions. I shop at this little store a lot because they often have the very best price, the service is excellent, their shipping costs are kept low for customers outside of the USA and shipping is free within the United States. Given how much I like them, I am so glad that they have become a sponsor here too.

Judi is an award winning long arm machine quilter who has just published a beautiful book called Quilting Wide Open Spaces. This books gives beautiful quilting ideas - which I have been pouring over this week - and also includes some lovely patterns - and yes, you can order an autographed copy like I did if you like. Clint and Judi have a long term commitment to charity work to support orphans in Romania. They also connect with the internet quilting community in all the usual ways, including facebook, Judi's blog and via their newsletter.

Green Fairy Quilts have generously donated a Bartholomeows Reef Layer Cake for one of you to win. If you want to see more detailed photographs all the cute geometrics in this new line by Tim and Beck you can see them on the Moda site here.

You can have two entries (please don't enter more than twice) into the random draw to win this layer cake by:

  • Sign up for the Green Fairy Quilts Newsletter, go here to do that and then you will not miss out on their Monday's Steal or other specials. While you are there, feel free to browse about the store too. Then come back and leave me a comment saying you did. 
  • If you are a follower of my blog, or become a new follower, you can have a second comment, just let me know how you follow me. Make sure I can contact you, if in doubt, leave your email in your comment.

I will leave the draw open until 6:00 a.m. MST on Friday, February 21 so I can award the prize on Friday morning.

I'll be back tomorrow with some quilting to share, it's holiday Monday for Family Day today and I will be sewing.



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Long Arm Update - it's good to go

Millennium APQS Long Arm set up

So there is my APQS Millennium Long Arm Machine, all set up - well I still need the right kind of bulbs in my lights, but otherwise, it's done. The frame is 10 feet from end to end and the front most bar - the quilt back bar - is 6 feet from the back wall. It takes up almost all of my sewing room.

Millennium APQS Long Arm set up

Lightning, the quilting dog, is pleased that he still has a cozy spot. However, the cutting table has been moved to the room next door which is currently bursting at the seams and messy beyond belief. No, I shall not be showing that one, and  tidying it is high on the to do list.

Millennium APQS Long Arm set up

This is the view from Lightning's bed. The door to the hallway is closed and you can see that if I cleaned up more of the messy closet I would have more space for my comfy chair. All that nice open space under the long arm will soon hold my scrap bins. As pretty as the floor is, I have no where else to put them, space is at a premium around here.

Millennium APQS Long Arm set up

This is the view standing at the window. I still have a nice spot to sew and the fabric can fit. The table on my Horizon is only 17" wide, as are the adjoining cupboards, so there is still room to stand and quilt at the front of the long arm. My sewing chair has wheels and is easily moved out of the way.

Quilting practice piece

Yesterday afternoon and evening I quilted on that long piece of IKEA fabric. I quilted up about 10 feet of it, just playing and learning the machine.


My quilting is seriously questionable, but I have learned that the machine is fantastic to use. It will happily stitch away for hours on end, without complaint. My feet, on the other hand, are lobbying for an anti-fatigue mat.

First practice on my new Millennium Long Arm

And look, it will happily do matchstick quilting, and do it fast too. You can see I wrote my name, which makes it official. This machine is a keeper.

This afternoon, Matt and Bradie Sparrow - from Sparrow Studioz - came over to install Leader Grips for me - a system that allows you to load in your quilt back with just a snap on of a plastic grip, and I will share photos about them next time. Matt also went about and tidied up the cords, tightened the bolts, rearranged my tool box, set the timing, showed me how to adjust the tension and generally gave my assembly a passing grade. He was very polite about the quilting too, but I have a long way to go before I can quilt like he can.

I have to say that these folks are just lovely to work with and have made this purchase a dream. Matt is the APQS guy in Canada - Canadian National Sales Director - and I am fortunate to have him and his studio handy. I totally recommend them if you are in Canada and looking at a similar purchase.

I am going to go back to playing with my new machine. Tomorrow is a holiday here for Family Day so I can quilt more then too.

Oh, and my machine needs a name. Although she says Millie on the side, I am sure that is her middle name. Any thoughts on what her name ought to be? Something that fits with the industrial modern quilting that I hope she will help me to do.