November 20, 2014

Blogathon Canada Comes to Saskatchewan and Yes, Virginia, There Is A GIVEAWAY

Welcome to the Prairie Leg of Blogathon Canada 2014! I'm blogging from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (not nearly as snowy as Buffalo, I must add. At least not today!).  My Co-Prairie-Host today is the talented Lori from Manitoba who blogs at Night Owl Quilting. Be sure to visit her! Thanks to Sew Sisters Quilt Shop and the other sponsors for sponsoring and organizing this annual event.

Browse through my quilt gallery (tab above) if you're interested in seeing the kinds of things I've made so far. I'm not terribly productive. I refer to myself as the "slowest quilter EVER"! I've only really been quilting for the past 5 years though I have some earlier experiences and long held on to the dream of quilting hoping to really dive into it when I retire someday. As it turned out, I decided that I best not wait for retirement so here I am doing my best to make quilts for "all the people I love". I love SO many people that I know I'll never reach my goal but I'll give it my best shot! My quilting life has been greatly enhanced and expanded by the recent establishing (and my joining) of the Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild. Here is where my local quilting peeps are. They nourish and inspire me and make my stomach muscles hurt from all the laughing!

As you might have guessed from my blog header, I was a teen in the 70s and I still identify strongly with my inner hippy. I might not look like one on the outside but on the inside, I'm still wearing bell bottoms or cut offs with a wide, purple suede leather belt, a pop top, a fringed vest, water buffalo sandals, and groovin' to my vinyl. Pop art, black light posters, fat albert lights, incense. Love. Peace. And now I quilt.

Here is a sampling of what I've been working on lately. I don't have many finishes right now. Just lots of things on the go.  Forgive the quality of these photos. Darkness has come to the prairies and it's hard to get good enough light in our fortress for proper photos. I'll take better shots of these when I'm home some sunny day and when I can take photos outside.

This is a wedding gift. I just have to add the binding. I can't remember the name of the pattern right now but it was a free one I found on the interwebs. (UPDATE: The pattern is Movement in Squares and it's a free download from Ivory Spring). What I learned with this quilt is that ironing seams open is what works best for me. On the first block I sewed, I ironed to one side as per the instructions but when I joined the pieces together, it just looked bad. I tried the next one with seams pressed open and voila! Perfect! I remade the first block. I really like the IKEA fabric I chose for the back. The colours match the front almost perfectly! I added some extension fabric on the bottom. Lisa (a friend in our modern quilt guild) did the wonderful "tangled squares" quilting on it. 

I've long wanted to make a "Sparkle Punch" quilt and so I'm making this one, also a wedding gift. If I had known how long it would take to make all those 3.5" crazy star blocks, I might never have begun but now that I've got almost 400 of them made, I'm glad I did. I love the look of the rich colours on the warm grey "Moda Weave" background fabric. My plan is to insert some extra large wonky stars (here's the inspiration quilt for that) but first I need to do a full lay out of the smaller stars. This is not an exact science. By the way, there are no orangy colours in this quilt. The light just wasn't good for photos. The colours are all true blue, turqoise, purple, plum, fuschia, and white. 

This is my Fishbowl and Terrarium baby quilt top. I need to get it completed.  It's one for the vault.

I made the flying geese block below. It's to go with the Modern Maples block that was given to me as part of our Guild's Taveling Quilt event. We have 11 participants and we each start a block and pass it to the next person. I have to finish a block for another quilt this week. It's a fun project to be part of but the talents of the others makes this a bit intimidating! (Ahhhh ... outdoor photos ... so much better!)

Now that you've poked around here for a bit, please check out some other Saskatchewan quilt bloggers. THANKS FOR STOPPING BY!!

Oh, yes! THE GIVEAWAY ... a stack of fat quarters of Alice Kennedy's Field Study line ...  generously provided by Sew Sisters Quilt Shop.

Just add a comment ... tell me where you're from and/or anything else you'd like to say.  The giveaway is open to everyone, including international visitors and a winner will be randomly chosen on November 23. I'll make the announcement on November 24.  (Make sure I'm able to reach you by email. If you're email is not provided, I'll have to pick another number.)

FYI ... All of the giveaways during Blogathon Canada are open until November 23 so if you missed any, you can still enter. There's also a giveaway on the Sew Sisters blog, compliments of Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

November 3, 2014

Announcing Blogathon Canada Hosted by Sew Sisters – Nov 17-22



Find new blogs, make new friends, win amazing prizes!


It's almost that time again! From November 17-22 will be the 3rd Annual Quilters' Blogathon Canada hosted by Sew Sisters Quilt Shop. Judy, the shop owner has asked me to host the Saskatchewan portion of the event so please come back again on Thursday, November 20 for a special post and a giveaway, courtesy of Sew Sisters Quilt Shop.

Meanwhile, take note of the schedule below. In addition to giveaways on each blog, there will be sponsored giveaways by Aurifil, Northcott, and Robert Kaufman on the Sew Sisters blog during that week.

SCHEDULE - November 17- 22, 2014
Join the party!

If you would like for the host blogger from your province or territory to link your blog in her post please send an email to and your blog will be added to the list. Please note that you need to be a blogger living in Canada and your blog should have posts about quilting or crafting to be eligible.

Grab the Blogathon Canada Button for your blog so you can have a quick link to all the fun!

October 15, 2014

A 25th Anniversary Quilt

My Mom made this quilt for my brother's and his wife's 25th wedding anniversary. That would have been about 12 years ago now. She did almost all the embroidery by herself but she sent blocks out to everyone on both sides of the family and asked them to design their own quilt blocks. Then she did the embroidery on most of them. She's very good.

I did my own block. At the time I wasn't a quilter. I was only a quilt dreamer. I chose to do a crazy quilt block using the fabrics and embroidery threads Mom had selected. I didn't really know what I was doing because not only was I not a quilter, I wasn't much of an embroiderer either. I'd done some when I was younger but not much.

My block wasn't actually crazy pieced, by the way. I chose a crazy piece layout and then appliqued on the pieces of patterned fabric leaving enough white spaces for the details. The fun part, though, was doing all the crazy embroidery. I referred to online instructions and overall, I think I did pretty good for a first-timer. I enjoyed adding the beading, as well. Again, thank you Google.

Since I was at my brother's place this weekend for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner (thanks, Lynn and Darrel), I took advantage of the opportunity to get a few photos of the quilt.

Thanksgiving Table Runner

I had some corners left over from another project and rather than throw them in my scrap bin or in the trash, I decided to sew them together right away. Which led to trimming. Which led to a finished project ... 9 hours later! I started on Friday with no intention of completing a project but then felt a table runner gift for my brother and sister-in-law coming on and since we were leaving the city in the morning to see them, I was up until 3:00 a.m. finishing it. Well, almost finishing it. I left the hand sewing of the binding for the 2 hour road trip, which turned out to be exactly how long it took me to sew the binding on. Things always take me twice as long as I think they should.

My brother has a grain farm in a part of Saskatchewan well known for the numbers of geese that can be seen (and hunted) in the fall, so I chose to make my little scraps into flying geese going both north and south. 

I like it. I didn't get very good photos, though. It was on the table before I thought to get proper photos outside while it was still very nice out.

October 1, 2014

Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild - Traveling Quilts

I'm so excited about our new project at the Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild! We've started "traveling quilts". That means each person signed up (and I think there are 12 of us) chooses a theme and then makes a first square which then gets passed off to the next person on the list, etc, until all 12 people have added to the quilt. It should take a year doing 1 square per month. At our guild meeting on Sunday everyone showed their starter block and talked about their theme and/or instructions and limitations. They all sound so interesting. Someone wants stars ... any kind of stars ... any size. Someone wants to end up with a "neighbourhood" quilt ... so blocks of any size with white background fabric but with something that would be in a neighbourhood. There is a seasons theme, a log cabin quilt with limited palette, a tree quilt, a quilt that starts with feathers ... I can't even remember them all it went so fast. They all sound cool! Some people provide their own fabrics, some leave it completely open with some limitations that fall between.

Here is my starter block. My theme is "What's Your Sign?" My instructions are for everyone to very loosely (or literally) interpret some aspect(s) of their zodiac sign and make a block of any size (not attached). My only fabric limitations are "no batiks" and while it doesn't have to be matchy-matchy, I hope that the what everyone uses fabrics that will coordinate with the tone, hue and style of the fabrics I used. I also asked that people to make a signature block the same size as mine but they can use narrower borders if they need more writing space. The signature block should include name, birthday, zodiac sign, and a "clue phrase" so I'll easily be able to match their signature with their block.

My block design includes the glyph (symbol) for Aquarius and I've added 7 flying geese. Apparently the sign of Aquarius is linked to "large flying birds". Some information about Aquarius suggest 7 is a lucky number for Aquarians. Aquarius is an "air sign" so the idea of the geese flying across a blue sky seems fitting. The purple in my square represents Amethyst, an Aquarian gemstone and the Aquarian colour is usually called "electric blue" or "sky blue" The colour turquoise, which is also listed as a stone, is linked to Aquarians.

I will be thrilled to end up with a quilt that represents the hearts and special talents and visions of my dear guild member friends.

September 30, 2014

Mini Quilt for Kim (SMQG Modern Mini Swap 2014)

This is the first mini quilt I've ever made. Our quilt guild (Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild) arranged a swap and Kim's was the name I drew. I don't know Kim very well. She's a newish member and hadn't been at very many meetings at the time of the swap details. I tried to stalk her a bit to get some sense of her taste and this is what I came up with. I used an excellent online tutorial (raspberry kiss block) by Rachel of Wooden Spoon Quilts.

I have to say, until recently I didn't really GET mini quilts. But I had an ah-ha moment after I put together my quilt studio, which is sadly devoid of quilts on its walls. Mini quilts will be PERFECT for it! It's also a very good way to test blocks that look interesting before committing to them in a big way.

This might seem like a quick project but it took me way too long! Not only am I an excruciatingly slow quilter, It takes a lot of time to dig through scraps to find all the right little pieces and then to cut them all. Once that prep work was done, it didn't take very long to put together 25 little squares. After arranging them, though, I felt that some of the squares weren't as intense in colour as my favourite ones and I decided to make more squares using more intense colours. And then I tried a double-sized block to play with. Ultimately, I decided to make Kim's mini with 25 of the squares with the strongest colours. That left enough left overs to put together a bonus mini-mini quilt for me! It turned out to be fortuitous because I could use the mini-mini for a first run on all the next steps and I made several errors, which were spared on Kim's quilt.

Last Sunday we swapped mini quilts at our meeting and much delighted squealing and ooo-ing and ahhh-ing ensued. Honestly, the whole bunch of them ... at least a dozen or more ... were so amazing! Real eye candy! They were all so different and used so many different styles and techniques. I was truly blown away! I can't wait to see the photos of them on our guild's blog because we did not have nearly enough time to truly examine and appreciate them all as much as I would have liked.

Kim's Mini Kisses Quilt is 22" square and I used mostly scraps and a variety of low-volume background fabrics. The mini-mini quilt for me is 17" square, and uses the same materials.

What I learned:
  1. My accuracy has sure improved. No unintentionally wonky blocks
  2. I finally taught myself how to put the binding ends together so it looks likes all the other joins. I made a mistake on the mini-mini doing this for the first time but got it right for Kim's.
  3. I learned how to put corners on the back for hanging the quilt. No biggie, but it did distract me enough that I accidentally sewed the binding onto the back side of the mini mini quilt instead of the front, a mistake I didn't repeat on Kim's quilt. It does look neater and thinner when the binding is sewn onto the front. 
  4. I learned a bit about colour ... hue and tone.
  5. I learned that spiral quilting can make a quilt "warpy". My mini-mini was very rippled but was much better after a pressing. It is still a little warpy but not too bad. My spiral quilting was about 1/4" apart on that one. I made them 1/2" apart on Kim's quilt in hopes of reducing the warping. It didn't warp as badly but that might also have been because of the batting, which was different in both quilts. The mini-mini had a loftier batting and perhaps it pulled more.
  6. Starting spiral quilting is a little tricky because the circles are so small at first. To start, I shorten my stitch length, gradually increasing it to #2. I learned that my machine prefers to stitch at #2 and nothing bigger. As soon as I try bigger stitches, the stitches don't look as defined. I'll stick with #2.  At first I have to take a stitch or two and then left the foot, turn the quilt a bit, lower the foot, take a stitch or two ... repeating this until turning gets easier. I also drew the start of my spiral on a dryer sheet and tried that on a test piece of fabric. I had read this tip somewhere and thought I'd give it a try. If it had worked, it would be a great use for those used dryer sheets but don't do it. Those things do not want to tear away. Back to good old freezer paper, which works great and tears away easily.

September 4, 2014

A Quilt Studio For Me! At Last!

Sorry, Luke, but your bedroom is no longer your bedroom. It is now a magnificent quilt studio and I love it!

Last weekend we road tripped to IKEA in Edmonton and I bought what I needed for a stellar quilt studio! I bought a kitchen island to serve as a cutting table. I love the storage shelves on one side and the space for bar stools on the other (I will reserve a drawers for bar supplies, of course). I bought a sewing table/set of drawers combination and, of course, the famously irresistible little turquoise cart! The chair I wanted wasn't in stock so it's on it's way. And I need to get a bar stool. I plan on making the wall behind my ironing board a design wall. I also can't wait to get my surprise mini-quilt at the end of the month. That wall space above my cutting table is screaming MINI QUILT!!  Everything else in the room I had already.

The best part is that the light in the room is fantastic! It's the best light in the whole house and it's ALL MINE!! I even sewed a bit in there yesterday morning ... in my pyjamas ... piecing a back for a wedding quilt ... and the room turned out to be MOST efficient! I'm so looking forward to spending time in there. Come and visit me and hang out!

Saskatoon Modern Quilt Guild members ... note the book shelves. Here is the basis of your guild library. You are invited to come and peruse whenever I'm available. You might even want to schedule a regular visit before or after our monthly guild meetings since you'll be in the neighbourhood anyway.  I'm only 4 blocks away. One of the books I have on display is called "The Missing Piece" (haha) by Shel Silverstein. My kids loved that book when they were little.

Thanks, Kevin, for all the assembly work you did to make me such a happy quilter! Thanks to my splurge pals, too! I used two years worth of my splurge $$ to put this room together. I will think of you when I'm in it!

Do I have to tell you how much I love my quilting studio? I do love it! I really, REALLY do! And that little cart makes me smile. A lot.

September 2, 2014

Back from Beyond with 4 Oink-A-Doodle-Moo Bear Paw Quilts

Let's just say I've been busy and leave it at that!

These 4 quilts have actually been finished for some time. All but the binding was finished in January of this year but it has taken me a very long time to finish hand sewing the binding on. As you might recall, I made a previous quilt with this fabric and was surprised to have so much left over. I then decided to make a Bear Paw Quilt but didn't take into account the directional fabric and ended up with all 4 of my bear paws going in the same direction. I LOATHE unpicking seams, so rather than undo a few short seams, I had the brilliant idea to just make 4 quilts instead! It ended up taking me much longer than I had expected, partly due to some mistakes in the pattern I was using, but ultimately, it's nice to have 4 baby quilts done!

Don't imagine you've seen the end of this fabric line, though. It never seems to end! I STILL have enough left to make at least another quilt or two!

While I haven't been very productive in 2014, I have been doing some quilting lately. I have a Riley Blake Challenge quilt top finished and a wedding quilt top done. I hope to post photos of those soon. I have to make a mini-quilt for another quilt guild member in September, so I'd better get cracking. I have a wedding quilt I want to finish for November and another to make for February 2015. And then there are all the other projects I want to make for people I love. SO MANY! 

One of my next posts, though, will be to show off something I'm VERY excited about! Kevin and I made a trip to Edmonton last weekend. To IKEA. I can't wait to show everyone! Soon!

One of the quilts has been gifted so far. This sweet little guy is my friend Berny's grandson. I think he likes it!

Addendum - September 22, 2014

A 2nd quilt in this collection of 4 has been gifted. This one has goes to Keaton. He and his Mom and Grandma stopped by for a visit today.