Saturday, September 27, 2014

Improv progress, and a winner

Lightning, the scrappy quilting dog. #scraptastictuesday

There is Lightning, my now quite old standard poodle who is looking pretty much like a rasta loving dog right now because of his long, long coat (he a bit sick so we have begged off the groomers and its time for me to do some home trimming). Long past bed time last night, he came into my sewing room and plunked down  in my pile of scraps. After tolerating a photo, he then headed to bed, which was a clear message to me to do that too.

On Instagram, Nicky suggested that it was cheating to have my dog eat my scraps for Scraptastic Tuesday. If only that would work, but this dog will not harm the sewing stuff, not one little scrap. I have no idea how I taught him that. This is the most he will do, hang out by or in the fabric. If you are playing with your scraps, use the hashtag #scraptastictuesday so we can see your progress, you don't have to wait until Tuesdays unless you want to.

Improv Xs in progress

I was up late (well late for me) sewing more improv Xs. These are so relaxing to make. I started with some cut up Essex linen squares and then pulled and trimmed pieces from the pile the dog in on, sliced the square, put a piece in, finger pressed, sliced again and put the next piece in. When I had a bunch done, I pressed them and trimmed them to a size that fit it after the X was added. Then I made more.

Improv Xs in progress

That is a photo part way through the evening last night. You can see that I just kept picking out fabrics from my favourite lines, and yes, I do know the names of all of the ones in that photo.

Improv Xs - layout options

This morning I tried arranging them a bit. These Xs are for a mini quilt that must be 12" x 16" and hang in a portrait orientation. I need to send it off on Monday so it can be part of the Canadian Quilter's Association It's time for colour travelling exhibit.

Improv Xs - layout options

I'm liking this arrangement better, but I still see some things to change and maybe a couple to replace, I'm not sure yet.

I just drew a winner for that excellent texty bundle from the giveaway sponsored by the lovely Becca at Sew Me A Song. The lucky winner is #287 - Judy, and I have just sent off an email to you. Thank you to everyone else who participated in the giveaway and thank you to Becca for the wonderful prize (there are more of those bundles in her shop, just saying).

I'm off to work on the mini, I am going to matchstick quilt it and hopefully also quilt some pillow covers at the same time. And I have bindings to do, Q3 of the Finish Along is ending next week and I have last minute finishes to make.



Friday, September 26, 2014

If you were shopping... #8

Welcome to if you're shopping.... On Fridays I will share with you the news from my sponsors, in case you want to do a little shopping, or even window shopping, this weekend.

At the Fat Quarter Shop, there are still two more days left - to September 28 - in the Robert Kaufman fabric sale.

My favourite Massdrop deal this week is the Liberty of London Fat Quarter Bundles. There are two different bundles to pick from. There are also some great thread deals on right now too.

Green Fairy Quilts, has Layer Cakes at 25% off and all Junior Layer Cakes at $16..95, and their usual fantastic shipping deals. I so want to get Horizon, this is probably the day to do it.

Oakshott Fabrics has  beautiful quilt patterns kitted up with all their beautiful shot cottons.

Fabric Spark has beautiful fabrics in a carefully curated collection. Today I am crushing on this stunning Nani Iro double gauze print. 

When I popped over to Fluffy Sheep Quilting I found the lovely Folk Art collection. If you are thinking its time to start a holiday project, these are very cute.

Today at Sew me a Song, I found this fantastic bundle

At Mad about Patchwork  I found the cutest canoes on fabric, in the Feather River line. There are campers too, it is seriously cute. 

Sew Sisters has their big sale on Kona solids, I am sure I will be getting some too.

Enjoy your weekend!



Thursday, September 25, 2014

This and that


I adore pictures of bobbins of pretty thread - maybe I should share more of them. My secret quilt for a magazine used 12 of these bobbins for the quilting. And it is in the hands of Mr. Purolator for a 7 - 10 day trip - which will get it there just in time. And this means no more secrets for a while. I am totally evaluating this secret project for publication thing, as I personally enjoy sharing things as I work on them so much better.

Some improv x's tonight.

Tonight I am going to work on these improv Xs. I get to make a mini quilt to be included in the Canadian Quilter's Association cross Canada travelling quilt show called "It's time for Colour!" I am so flattered to have been asked to participate. I want to make sure that my quilt has a real modern flair, so I am thinking something similar to my Landmarks mini. On the other hand, I also still debate doing one like the very first Cycles quilt - maybe with some improv "made" fabric in all the colours. Either way, I need to get it in the mail on Monday morning.

If you have not yet entered the draw for this beautiful bundle sponsored by Sew Me A Song, go here to do that. I will close the draw tonight after supper - about 7 pm MST.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Scraptastic Tuesday

Nicky from Mrs Sew and Sow and I are going to reduce our scrap mountains and you are invited to play along.

We will share our scrappy projects and ideas about scraps on Tuesdays and you can too. We will also host a link up for your thoughts about scraps and scrappy projects - finished or not - on the second Tuesday of the month.  I'll find some prizes if you are willing to play along. We need some friends to encourage us on this scrap reduction mission.

I am a step earlier than Nicky, contemplating my scrap mountain. I need to figure out how to organize the scraps into a system which actually will encourage me to use more scraps. 

First, I need to consider what a scrap is, for me. I have long thought of scraps as very small pieces, smaller than a 1/4 of a fat quarter, and many pieces are smaller than a charm square. 

But then the scrappy projects I want to make use bigger pieces or long strips. I think I need to redefine scraps in my head. How big is a "scrap"? Is it a fat quarter or less? More than 3/4 of my fabric is a fat quarter or less - do you suppose it is all scraps?? And also, what size is just too small to save (or alternatively to relegate to stuffing for some thing - dog bed, footstool maybe)? 

More importantly, I need to figure out how to make my scraps accessible to me when I need them for a project. Right now:

Folded pieces, are they scraps?

  • I fold and put on my shelves anything that is foldable (don't worry, the blues are in another shelf, I have a lot of blues) and I generally put those pieces into piles sorted by colour. I have more recently started adding new fat quarters  and the occasional larger piece (I mostly buy fat quarters, not large pieces) to these colour sorted shelves too, unless I have a reason to keep them with their fabric collections. This part is relatively well organized but I have to take everything off the shelf and cut the pieces up whenever I want to use them.
Scrap bins
  • I have 8 storage bins with lids on wheels that I put a number of smaller pieces - smaller than 1/4 of a fat quarter to very small - and I sorted them by colour as well. I have not opened any of those bins in months. This is not an effective system for me.
  • I have 3 large overflowing shopping bags and a some piles here and there of newer scraps because I realized the bins were not working for me so why bother to put those ones away. This system is both messy and useless - a hodge podge of everything is no fun to face every time I want a bit of fabric.
So I need a better system. I have some scrappy projects to start this week, and I thought I could start them and reorganize at the same time - you see I like sewing more than tidying.  I need a scrap organization plan, and any advice would be appreciated. Here are some considerations:
  • I like to sit down and sew. I really dislike cutting fabric. I don't cut fabric when I am tired or it is late at night, as I adore my fingers. So having useful pieces ready to just start and sew would be helpful.
  • I need to store scraps in a useful way that makes me want to open the bins. Maybe I need to organize by size - but what sizes? I am always worried about cutting fabrics into a size I will never use again. Once cut, should I organize them by colour group - maybe warm, cool, low volume, very dark and solid?
  • I think I need my bins to be near the cutting table so I am encouraged to both use things in them and put bits away, but it is in a different room than my sewing machine.
If you are inclined to help me with any of these questions, either leave me a comment or a link to a blog post. Or tag a photo or tweet or something as #scraptastictuesday, and even better tag me too. I can use all the help you have.

Blended Scraps Blocks - tutorial 7

By the way, my first two projects are to make another Blended Scraps quilt (my tutorial is here and Reflections is here), starting with those four blocks. I want to use all the colours. Cutting strips for this project will be one of the things I start cutting from the scraps.

And I am going to join in with Rene, Michelle, and Cindy in their Choose Your Own Block along, I am finally going to start the Tula Pink City Sampler. They are just making two blocks a week, surely I can manage that, especially if I can make those scraps accessible.

So Nicky and I hope you will join in with us for Scraptastic Tuesday. Feel free to grab our button, and use the hashtag #scraptastictuesday.

By the way, the beautiful texty give away sponsored by Sew Me A Song is still open, if you have not yet entered, go here.



Monday, September 22, 2014

Sew Me A Song - sponsored give away

Today I have a texty bundle of 8 fat quarters to give away, sponsored by the lovely Becca at Sew Me A Song.

When I went to Quilt Market last spring, Becca made a point of connecting with me. She took me with her as she shopped and placed orders at the market, explaining many of the details of the fabric industry to me. Market is overwhelming, and it was very generous of Becca to make sure a newbie was able to understand how it all works. She is warm, funny, smart and nice - I only wish she lived closer.

Becca started Sew Me A Song when she moved to Maine. She carefully curates her fabric collection - it is a fantastic mix of unusual fabrics, including Japanese and other unusual and quirky fabric options. You will seldom see a whole fabric line in Becca's shop and you will often see fabrics that you have not seen before in other shops.

So to win this beautiful texty bundle - Becca told me she was dreaming of making a steam punk quilt with these as background - just leave me one comment. Have a look at Becca's shop - click here and let me know what you like or what you think about her unusual collection of fabrics. And if you follow me (new or old follower) somewhere - on the blog, instagram, flickr, etc. - you can leave a second comment if you just let me know where you do.

I will close the draw at dinner time on Thursday, September 25, draw the winner randomly from the comments, and post the winner either Thursday night or Saturday morning - depending on how Thursday night goes at my house.

Please make sure there is a trail back to you or I will draw again. If in doubt, add your email address to your comments.

edited: This draw is now closed.



Friday, September 19, 2014

if you were shopping... #7

Welcome to if you're shopping.... On Fridays I will share with you the news from my sponsors, in case you want to do a little shopping, or even window shopping, this weekend.

Sew Sisters is getting ready for their big sale on Kona solids. I can't wait!

At the Fat Quarter Shop, I am loving that bundle of fabrics from the Daysail line by Bonnie and Camille.

My favourite Massdrop deal this week is the Superior Thread Holder Sewing Notion. I highly recommend you watch the Superior Threads video too, as it will explain the way to use different kind of thread spools to avoid adding extra twist to them. Extra twist causes your thread tension to be off and threads to break.

Green Fairy Quilts, has Jelly Rolls at $29.95 with free shipping in the
U.S., or the codes JELLY3, JELLY6 or JELLY10 can be used with 3, 6 or 10
Jelly Rolls for even better deals as low as $26.95 each.

Oakshott Fabrics has  more beautiful colours in their Colourshotts line. You can also get layer cakes of the new colours (above) or the earlier ones too.

Fabric Spark has new Japanese fabrics, including this beautiful Echino print. 

Fluffy Sheep Quilting, has received Paint. I have been waiting for this fabric to start showing up in the shops. I was able to meet Carrie Bloomston at Quilt Market and she is lovely, as is her fabric.

Today at Sew me a Song, I am looking at the fantastic range of text based fabrics. You can see them all by going here.

Mad about Patchwork   is opening their bricks and mortar store in Stittsville, Ontario, Canada on Saturday September 20. They have  with scrap bags for the first 15 people to arrive. There will be 10% off all purchases, with a free gift for purchases over $50. The 10% discount on all in-stock items  (excludes Cotton + Steel pre-orders) has already started, for online purchases use the coupon CELEBRATE10 which is valid only until midnight September 20, 2014. Online orders over $50 (before tax + shipping) will also receive a free gift.

Enjoy your weekend!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Decipher Your Quilt - Tessellations

Jess, from Elven Garden Quilts, and I are back today with another post in our Decipher Your Quilt series. The goal of DYQ is to make it easier for quilters to understand quilts and quilt blocks and how to make quilts and quilt blocks and resize them without reference to patterns or books.

The coaster

Today we are going to discuss Tessellations. A tessellation is a pattern created by using a repeating shape to fills the space without gaps. A regular tessellation using only one shape must be constructed of equilateral triangles, squares or hexagons. Although as a quilter, I immediately want to try to prove that wrong with other shapes, geometry, and wikipedia, says that only these three shapes will work.

Scrappy Trip

It is no surprise to any quilter that you can place squares beside squares and make a quilt - a two dimensional plane without spaces. In fact, in quilting, many design elements are sashed to become squares, placed inside of a square frame or applied on top of squares. Then the quilter needs only to join the squares into rows and the rows into a quilt top. Although you did not realize it, this process allows you to utilize the mathematical concept of tessellation.

Friends - a quilt

Quilters use triangles in many ways, but the ones we see very often are either HSTs - half square triangles - which allow us to put the triangles together to get the square that easily tessellates in pattern or equilateral triangles - which are the second shape that tessellates naturally.

I think the reason that quilters use equilateral triangles less often as the foundation for their quilts is not because they are less beautiful as a tessellation, but rather because of the nature of fabric. When you cut an equilateral (60 degree) triangle, the fabric is now cut on the bias on at least two sides and easily stretches out of shape, making it much harder to work with and less likely to be a lovely flat quilt top. I have just realized that I have never made a quilt or any item using equilateral triangles - I need to remedy that soon.

Hexie blog - Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop

The last regular tessellation is formed by using hexagons. These are so often seen in nature, just think of the honeycomb. Quilters love hexagons, but this shape has two disadvantages. The edges are again cut on the bias and Y-seams are needed to sew them together. These disadvantages are overcome the easiest by using English Paper Piecing techniques.

English paper piecing

Of course, geometry  does not stop there. One can have may other kinds of tessellations, ones with two shapes, ones with different rules. They all have a pattern which is recognized and repeats in the same size to fill all the space without gaps. Of course, you can leave open spaces in your tessellating pattern if you want to as well.

When you want to decipher a quilt pattern which utilizes a tessellation, you will know that:
  • You will need identically sized shapes  - whether those are the squares, triangles or hexagons of a regular tessellation or the group of shapes in an irregular tessellation.
    Giant Plus
  • You can resize the tessellating shapes to whatever size you want, and as long as you make all the other parts the same size, you will continue to achieve your pattern, only larger or smaller. All of the squares, triangles, hexagons or combinations of shapes to make the irregular shaped tessellating patterns must be the same size or they cannot join to fill all the space.
  • You can use this knowledge that the shapes are the same size to help you figure out how big they are if you know the finished size of a quilt top. For example, a quilt top that is 60" square and has 6 squares across and 6 squares down must have squares that finish at 10" (60 divided by 6 = 10).
    Nordika Giant Plus
  • You can change the look of a tessellating pattern dramatically, depending on how the colours are placed. If you want to, you can use a "background" colour in a tessellation to create the impression of a background peeking out from behind the busy tessellating design.
  • Improv quilts seldom use the concept of tessellation - unless of course the improv blocks are ultimately trimmed to a square. 
I love the idea that many quilts utilize this mathematical concept (which quickly gets complicated to understand) to make many quilt patterns really easy to piece and to decipher. Once you understand tessellation, you will now see it everywhere, in almost every quilt, and tile floor.

Head over to Jess's blog, Elven Garden Quilts, to read her insights into tessellating patterns.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

More about the progress, more of the time

Improv strips - in progress

Today I want to share some work in progress. I am also going to try harder to share more here about my process - the steps along the way to a finished quilt or project. I know I do that here, but lately, it feels like I have been sharing less progress, and it is time to change that. I learned so much about quilting reading how bloggers took their steps, solved mistakes, and tried new things, and I am still learning as I go, and I bet you are too.

That photo above you saw in yesterday's post - the progress so far on my challenge to design an guitar case/bag. I plan to make more of the "fabric" as I wait for some Annie's Soft and Stable to arrive that I ordered when it was available at Massdrop. I think that it will add the structure that I am hoping for in the bag.

Quilting in progress

There is a view of the quilting on my All the Colours quilt using Krista's wonderful Chess on the Steps pattern. I currently stuck trying to decide which fabrics to use to bind this quilt. I expect I will opt for a scrappy binding of solids but I am also debating a black and white print instead.

I really love this randomly spaced quilting lines look. It is very easy to do - nothing has to be well lined up- and if you think a set of lines is too far apart, you can just do another line in between them. I need to work now on wobbling the lines a bit more, as I have said before, the long arm likes to make straight lines if you don't oversteer her, adding just a bit of wobble, but not too much, is actually much harder, at least for me.

Pillow in progress - Canvas pattern

I need to quilt this pillow top, its back and those of the partner pillow. These pillows use my Canvas pattern.  I want to use them as a test for how quickly I can put these small projects up on the long arm and get them done. The size of that machine sometimes overwhelms and I need to get over that feeling that it will be too much trouble to set up the small projects. It is good practice to quilt these smaller projects and to do so more often. Also, I can use it to practice those wobbly lines I mentioned earlier and I also need to practice swirls and other curved designs as mine still tend to become to squared off.

All this quilting on the pillows will also be a bit of a test run for a quilt I need to quilt this weekend. I have a project that will be in a magazine if I can get it finished and out the door by mid week next week. I'm very excited but not impressed by the tight deadline, made worse by the complications of international shipping. Oh, and I am also very sad that I am told I cannot share it's progress with you. I don't like secret projects, but  I do think you will enjoy it when it is finally published and I am very flattered to have been included in this special publication.

Canvas baby quilts, in progress

These two baby quilts, also made with my Canvas pattern, are sitting somewhere from July with their new bindings on. I just need to stitch them down by hand, a perfect project for when I am sitting and visiting or watching a movie. I need to get them out (well actually first I need to figure out where I put them away to) so they are handy for those times and then they will be finished before I know it.

Finally, I have one more project to do this week. I need to make a mini quilt inspired by the theme It's time for colour. I have too many ideas and so I hope to settle on one or two by Friday and make it as a Friday night project. I'll tell you more about that quilt on the weekend, it is for a special exhibit of the Canadian Quilter's Association and I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of it. So for now I have no photo but this project has been in progress for a long while, just in my head only.

As usual, when I set out to show what I am working on, the list seems too long, so first the two deadline projects, and we shall see about the rest.


I am going to link up with Lee at Freshly Pieced and the Needle and Thread Network and I am going to try to do that more often this fall.