Wednesday, 22 May 2019

String Quilts up for Auction

I'm headed east to see two quilts I worked on be auctioned off for charity
My small guild puts together a group quilt every year,
and we sent off two recent ones to this sale in New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada.

We made this Bright Strings in 2015-16 
Check the link in the online catalogue for more details.

We mad the log cabin last year and the catalogue link is here.

This year the sale has introduced online bidding, 
so you can place your bid here.

All proceeds from quilt sales benefit the relief work of Mennonite Central Committee.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Revisiting a UFO and teaching improv

Sometimes quilts weigh on my mind,
like this unfinished log cabin I started in Jan. 2017.

I had a vision of blue starbursts in my head,
but I'm not happy with the contrast.
I used two jelly rolls with some additional fabrics,
and now I'm rethinking the whole project.
I have 36 14 inch blocks, so I may go with the furrow layout on the top.
The biggest obstacle for me is quilting it, since I don't usually machine quilt such large quilts.
And I'm quite hesitant to pay someone else to quilt it when I don't really like the quilt at all.

Recently I taught improv quilting at a local quilt shop.
This was my first real teaching gig, 
but I've been making quilts with improv techniques for more than a decade.
I was inspired early on by books by the late great Gwen Marston,
and by online sewalongs with Tonya Ricicci, who doesn't hang out in blogland anymore.

The piece with the green border is an improv village on a table runner.
I used lots of scraps and the same background fabric.

I showed my students how to make trees and a variety of houses
and they all did great.

I showed them some of my improv house quilts too.
The one at the left is from 2009, and uses log cabins and wonky houses in a variety of sizes.
The made the one at the right last year for a new baby.

Monday, 18 March 2019

New name, less traffic?

Occasionally I check my blog statistics on the design toggle,
and I've been seeing high traffic for my pieced letter and curved piecing tutorials. 
Stupidly I thought it was because of the content,
but really it was because of the name, which I'm not going to repeat here,
but I will let you buy a vowel.
The title of the letter making tutorial was Str*p Pieced letters
Now it is Shortcut Pieced letters
to prevent spambots from searching it out and thinking this is
an adult-content site.
I also changed the Curved Str*p Piecing tutorial to Curved Piecing.
I imagine anyone clicking on the links  wasn't interested in quilting..

I notice that several adult websites are driving traffic to my blog.
Anyone know how to prevent that?
Update: After changing the names, some of spambot traffic has found other places to land.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Blue stars nearly finished

I collected a bunch of blue friendship stars from friends
for a group quilt project.
The parameters were that the stars had to be blue, the backgrounds neutral,
and they had to spin the same way, and finish at 9 inches

I dispersed the solid stars among the rest of them,
and then offset them by 3 inches to make them dance.
It all went together quickly, and I had enough blue scraps to make the piano key border.

One friend donated three metres of indigo fabric for the backing.
I had a few stars left, so I pieced together the backing,
but not without some serious calculations.
And I have just enough yardage left to cut the binding.

Here's the finished back.
It doesn't look nearly as complicated as it was.
I love little pieces and I don't mind making 500 seams in the front,
but I'm grumpy about more than one seam in the back.
It's not quite a finish, except that I finished both the top and the backing this week,
so I'm claiming it.

Friday, 22 February 2019

15 Finishes for February

I spent the holiday weekend (Louis Riel Day in Manitoba)
making a dozen of these needle books
I used up scraps and sewing prints and little bits of patchwork
to make each one slightly different.

I use wool felt for the inside pages.
I love the saturation of colour in the wool.

I used to make them from selvage dots like the one at the left,
but now I make mini quilts. 
The one at the top used leftover blades from a Dresden project
on a Westminster Liberty Art fabric.
That one had flown off to QuiltCon as a gift for someone
before I got the picture of all 12 together.

I also said goodbye to this little guy,
who didn't mind sitting in the snow in his new track suit.
He is now fully clothed and has a new home.

I started this quilt at a retreat in January and finished it two weeks later.
It has a pink Eden print by Tula Pink on the back.

Here's the front, made from one and a half charm packs and hourglass blocks in two colours.
It is a really simple quilt with a great visual effect. 
The two grey colours make on point squares around the charm squares,
making the quilt look like it was set on point.

Here you can see the beginnings on my design wall.

I spent 45 minutes quilting this top which had sat in a drawer for two years.
I used a Warm and Natural batting and a micro fleece for the backing.
I'm donating it to an organization outfitting people affected by recent apartment building fires.
I figure there's some little kid out there that will have fun driving on these roads.

And my last finish:
A Valentine placemat for my mom, made from a set of charms with love and heart themes.

Here she is with it and her birthday roses.
She turned 82 on Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

A maker's musings

So we're into the deep freeze up here in Winnipeg,
and in the depths of the creative season on the Canadian Prairies.
My city has vibrant and creative cultural communities--
writers, musicians, artists, artisans--
and lots of people say its because of a long winter where we have time to perfect our art or craft.

I certainly sew and quilt more in winter than in summer
and my creative output often prompts the remark:
You get so much done!
or I can't believe how much you make!
or another variation of that.

I don't want to appear defensive,
but why do I have to defend making stuff?
I've been doing it since I learned to sew doll clothes at age 6
on my mother's new Elna Supermatic,
I've had really productive times
and times that are less productive,
but face it, I'm a maker.
I also hear the subtext of their remarks that they don't have time to quilt.
I hear that it's not important to them to take time,
and maybe even that I have nothing better to occupy my time with.

Do musicians and artists and novelists get those kind of comments?
I don't think anyone is telling Miriam Toews or David Bergen,
two award wining writers from Winnipeg,
that they like their books, but  (sigh) they don't have time to write. 

I like turning bits of fabric into something
and touching fabric
and figuring out how to make an idea in my head come to life.
My son is studying engineering, and taking courses on design
and reverse engineering, and material properties,
and project management. 
Those are all skills quiltmakers have.

But I'm not despairing. Just wondering.

I'm energized by making stuff
and I like sharing my makings with others.
But I'm tired of the comments about my output.

One answer is I have a really fast sewing machine and I know how to use it.
Another is that I have 50 years of making stuff,
so my hands are practiced at what they do.

Maybe it's just the speed of social media
and how quickly a finished project can be shared with the world.
That's why I'm not posing this question on Instagram,
where I have followers not interested in quilts (gasp!)
but here in Quilt Blogland,
where only quilters hang out because they care about making.

I love being a maker.
I don't want to feel guilty about being fast or good or prolific.
Makers gotta make, right?

What do you make of my makers's questions?

Friday, 18 January 2019

Random finishes for Friday

I took out these string flying geese from several years back1
and last week finally got them into a top.
I decided to go with two hues of orange
and now the top is done.
It measures 48 inches square.

I made some carry bags for Singer Featherweights.
This one for Krista Hennebury of Poppyprint 
incorporates free-pieced letter in hand dyed fabrics against a background
of a snow-dyed feed sack. 
The orange fabric top and bottom is from a woven Danish tablecloth
that had holes in the centre.
I've made one more FW tote from it and cut two more.

Just in case anyone is wondering what's inside,
I free motioned the word "featherweight" on the other side.
I love these vintage half-sized sewing machines,
but the cases can have problems
like the clasps not closing properly
or the handle wearing out.
So it is safer to carry the case in a bag.

I oiled and lubed and fiddled with the tensions on my choir of Singer Featherweights last week.
They were ready to use for a workshop last weekend 
sponsored by Winnipeg Modern Quilt Guild
and for a retreat in a week from now.

My oldest son vacated his room for several months.
His furniture is still there,
but there's room for my folding table-turned cutting station
and my choir of Featherweights and other storage bins underneath the table.
The added benefit is there's more room in my sewing space now.

I took Krista Hennebury's class Speed Date with Improv last Sunday.
Those are my blocks at the far right.
She demonstrated several improv techniques
and then encouraged us to put the all the parts together.
I've made many improv quilts before, but not in this style.
I was quite deliberate in matching up colour changes and lines in this piece.

It measures about 19 by 37 inches.
We were required to bring 5 inch squares in white and black and one other colour. 
I chose a light green that reads as a medium value, 
to contrast with both the black and the white.

I'm linking up with other Friday finishers at

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