Saturday, October 4, 2014

Log cabin Light and shadow

I have always admired scrappy quilts, So far I have not admired any of my own personal attempts at them. After many hours of work on this latest log cabin quilt, after many different layouts and trying various forms of orientation I feel like giving up. My son, who I can always count on for an honest opinion, confirmed my fear- IT is way too busy, there is no place for the eye to rest. Maybe I am just at the place I go to in the middle of a project where I almost always feel like it is a failure half way through, I hope this is just that- and that I will love it again, once I am finished it will be something I can admire- I hope. Maybe once I add borders and binding it will be fine. I am torn- I was going to make this a really big quilt- Now I am unsure if I want to spend that much more time and fabric on something that I may continue to dislike- How is it possible- that all of these fabrics that I LOVE individually can look so awful together... Not sure where to go from here- Should I continue on and make this beast bigger- Or call it a day and finish as is- This is where I could really use the opinion of other quilters- I think I know where I went wrong- I used to many fabrics that do not read as solids, I maybe should have went in a safer direction and stayed with two colors - or one color in a light and dark. The antique quilts that I admire have two tones or colors- The red and white quilts for example. I love and they are still relevant in terms of style a hundred years later... So, maybe I can take a lesson from this- Less is more- I am a more is more kind of person, so maybe I have to work at taming it a bit- My son said to me- Mom- quilts usually only have a couple different colors in them- and he is right. I really wish I could get some advice as to how to make this garish quilt work- Maybe the right border will calm it down and make it work- This is where I really wish I had some friends that quilt- My MIL is so far away- Maybe I can show her this and she will know what to do. I have invested some of my fave fabric as well as my MIL's scrap fabric bin into this quilt- I have at-least a hundred cabins so far.... Each log is 1.5 inches unfinished- finishing at 1 inch. This was a fair bit of time invested so far- I LOVE chain piecing log cabins- I do a dozen at a time- which makes three whole blocks at once- of the light and shadow (diamond shapes).....

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Here are a few of my flowers that did well this year. I had good luck with some of the bulbs I had planted and less luck with some of the more expensive plants, ie. The Hydrangea's I bought, I have been feeding them the aluminum sulfate to help turn the flowers blue- with no luck, I had few blooms and my leaves have brown dots all over them. This is frustrating. I love Hydrangeas- they will forever remind me of my Grandmother, my husband says they remind him of old lady flowers, I think it is funny how I grow to have more and more regard for my grandmother- or, that is not right- I have always had the highest regard for her, but I recently have more and more in common with her in the last couple of years, I regret that I did not share her interests sooner, while she was still here. My Granny recycled and re-used and up-cycled long before it was cool. My Granny never wasted anything, she knew she would find a use for the blue rubber bands that are wrapped around green onions from the super market. Granny always had home made biscuits and preserves- hot, fresh out of the oven upon our arrival. Granny never turned away an extra dinner guest- she is know for saying  "It's no trouble, I will throw in another spud." I love my Granny and I miss her deeply. I feel her close to me when I am sewing or knitting or making jam, I feel like we share this bit of creative space. I wish I had known how cool my Granny really was sooner.....I wish I had more of a chance to get to know the woman that she was rather than only knowing her for who she was to me- My Granny. It is odd to say, but I feel like I have a little visit with her when I go through the hope chest that belonged to her and her mother before her. I pull out some of the knitting she had on the go, some of the sweaters she had made, or I look at the quilt that is hand embroidered with hundreds of names, hers included and I wonder- What was this quilt made for? What does it commemorate? Are these the names of the people from Tynehead ? Is this a church quilt? My Grannies maiden name is embroidered on the quilt- which leads me to believe it was made before she was married- Which makes it over 83 years old at the least.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Its Saturday- my fave day of the week....

I have been negligent with posting, I have made a promise to myself that I would try to stick with this. So. here I am, I broke my quarter inch patchwork foot the one with the little quarter inch guide on it- It has been the one tool that has made a real obvious difference in my work- It is amazing what consistent seam allowances achieve in relation to patchwork- Points that never would have matched up- suddenly have hope of being where they should be. It has taken some getting use to- I was used to using the edge of my standard foot as a guide- after measuring my seam allowance- I discovered I was way off from a quarter inch while using that standard foot. So- I was devastated when my new foot broke- Alas- I ordered two replacement feet and they came yesterday... I think all sewing machines should come with this foot- It has really made a HUGE difference in everything I make... So, I have been busy up-cycling some old leather jackets into totes- Hope I can get some more pics up, my PC has been acting up - making blogging a little more challenging than it ought to be.. Football practice and game today- My boys team has not won a single game yet- the score is usually 30 something to at best 6..... I am happy when we get anything on the board...:)
Hope they have better luck today- this will be the first game I miss- My mom just got back from Shanghai- so we will be having a little girl time, Oh, before I forget- She brought back this lovely Jasmine tea- that is suppose to be served in clear glass so that you can see this beautiful garden that the jasmine tea creates in your tea cup- It really looks like a garden with butterflies in a glass- I will try and take some pics... Shanghai sounds beautiful- I would love to go- Mom told me stories of their hospitality that sounds incredible- Everything is so well thought out- So many thoughtful touches, Wonderful people, she had a great time..

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Orphan Block Project

This is the perfect project to use up any sample blocks you might have laying around or if you want to try piecing something new without the commitment of a whole quilt, make a potholder, they are also the perfect size to practice different free-motion quilting designs, and you can audition a variety of quilting designs over specific blocks and try out various thread choices, etc with zero waste, better yet, you have some pretty things that are handy around the house, to be stockpiled and given as gifts later, there are always weddings and housewarmings or hostess gifts to prepare and it is nice to have a few Go to gifts around-These would go well with a nice bottle of wine or some great coffee beans in a handmade fabric bag of course- that can do double duty as a shopping bag.... 

Handmade coaster set

This is a quick project and a great way to make use of your machines fancy stitches, i save all of my batting strips after the squaring up process just for similar projects, a great scrap buster, who says they need to be all matchy match either, use what you got. Its so small it is a little easier to go bold , which is what i have done with numerous potholders, coming up....

This quilt did not make the cut for listing in my store- I saw this quilt on pinterest- I loved the color combo and copied it by eye- no pattern, I love the quilt- However, I do not love this quilting design on this block

I would like to try this one again and stick to the original straight line quilting that I saw on the pin., I have since seen this pattern a few times in the current quilting rags, if anyone is interested this is on the grocer store shelves now. I just overlapped squares in each fabric and one fabric I had twice and cut the arc through the square, then pin, pin, pin, I was quite surprised to see that the two pieces can align perfectly and then once you put them right sides together they look impossible to sew together. I suggest laying them out like a puzzle and marking on each piece in a few different places in the curve where each fabric should meet - so that when you put the pieces right sides together you have something to match to ensure you are in fact where you should be- remember to pin the points first then in between these points- do not be frugal with these pins- pin every inch or so- some places more- Ease the fabric- do not straighten and pull the fabric straight through the curves- Rather ease it through and bend around the corners with it. Great tip from quilty- keep your baggy bottom on the bottom as it will ease in easier from the bottom- loose fabric between pins keep on the bottom while sewing. It is amazing how well this works- easily ease in a good inch of difference- which I would have thought impossible. Love the looks of this modern block.

Lined Denim Wine bag , with wood grain quilting

I am listing this too, i have made a large tote in this exact style but it is in use and not for sale..It is so awesome to be able to make something like this as a gift or personal use, no need to hit the mall, just step into my sewing room. Nice...

Log cabin star bright and feminine

I was playing around with color, it is hard to imagine myself struggling with color concepts as i have always felt myself to have a good eye, and yet this is what i have been most challenged by. In this example, a low contrast palate that i feared was a failure once I had assembled the blocks, i am always riddled with doubts in the middle of most projects and yet again, i am pleasantly surprised with the end result. I like it, and that's what matters, right ?
I learned a lot during this quilt, through taking risks and doing something different, this philosophy does not always work, but today i am very proud of this quilt and it is definitely the finest thing i have produced to date in terms of quality of construction, craftsmanship, and the fact that it appeals to me. It is so nice to feel proud of something that I have made with my own two hands- It has taken quite a while and quite a few quilts to get here. The straight line quilting looks better in person than it does here in this pic- I could not seem to capture all of the lines in one shot. I tried with a flash, without, automatic mode and mode P. Even the pics of the backing that I took did not seem to show it accurately..... I will have to figure it out.....  I probably would not use that big bold print again in this way- this was what I initially did not like, I liked the looks of the individual cabins- once I put the cabins into block formation I saw how this was not going to work, but I had gotten this far- this is my first log cabin quilt after all, because all of the fabrics are so busy- there is so much going on in this quilt it seemed lower contrast up close- the star was at risk of being lost- which is why I highlighted with bits of white, while the border is still a busy fabric it is in neutral colors that somehow seemed to work maybe because it contrasts nicely in its coolness with the heat of the bright colors... Now I realize how important the binding is in framing the quilt- I had planned to keep the binding in a solid gray tone- then changed my mind when I auditioned this CRAZY busy fabric that I bought long ago- on sale, and it had every color in it that is in the quilt- using this print in the binding- and seeing it in a smaller scale- really changes the whole appearance of this particular fabric- I was amazed..... My other lesson that I learned while doing these blocks- If you have some fabrics you do not like- try reversing them- audition the wrong sides of fabric as well- this gem has doubled my fabric stash in one instant...

Gnome quilt

This quilt was my first attempt at paper piecing, each block took forever, it seemed, then, hence why there are so few. I think i would be a bit faster now that i have the hang of it, oh and there is a card trick block in the center that was pieced normally. What i loved about this from the start was how precise paper piecing is, each block comes out perfect, this appeals to my OCD half (self diagnosed) 😇 and the fact that i was able to produce this quality of work so early in my practice because of the ease of use with this method. The results are encouraging, so if you are feeling diwn and need a little boost, check out a how to paper piece method on youtube before you get started, it really hels me to see something being done first, then to play around with it hands on.

Triple Arrow

This quilt is an earlier piece, raw edge applique and all over free motion quilted in my very own design, i was testing this design out to see how it would stand up on a larger scale, i wish i would have done a better job basting, i also tried out a new sandwiching technique that perhaps i did not do quite right or maybe it was the fact that the quilt was folded and put away between basting and quilting, however it happened, the layers moved around a bit and i have some baggy spots , if you know what i mean, i hope a good washing will fix it. The design itself worked out quickly, and that is something i appreciate.

Preview of my first etsy listings, the final cut

I have decided to post my best items. I am donating all of the quilts that I made as practice and am looking for an appropriate local charity, probably Inn from the Cold, Calgary's local homeless shelters. Winter is coming and quilts will come in handy, heaven knows warmth is something that many will go without this season. I am feeling better already , decision made...
I have really struggled with the business end of my shop. It is hard for me to have an objective opinion about my own quilts, i have some fears regarding this whole endeavor. My internal dialogue is conflicted; one minute i believe i am under value- ing my work and then i am plagued with more negative self talk that goes a little like-  my work is not good enough, i am asking myself, if the quality in the craftmanship is up to par, of course the first few quilts i made are nothing like what i can make today as far as quality, i learned how to sew a straight line, or i should say , i started the process of learning barely 2 years ago, i am in my second year now.. I have not yet made myself a quilt yet, instead i have busied myself with making gifts for my family, last count was 5 quilts for my mom, both my kids, a special aunt and my grandparents. I kept all these quilts simple and was happy with each of them. I am a perfectionist, i have had to make an effort in overcoming this defect of character as it has gotten in my way during life plenty of times. Perfectionism keeps me challenged as one can always improve, which is not such a bad thing over all, however when it robs you of pride in accomplishment or joy of completion it has gotten the better of you, and is no longer a positive motivator but rather a subtle enemy that if personified you would ban from hearth and home due to their abusive nature.
I struggle with balance, finding a happy medium, i wish i could see my quilts through the eyes of a few dozen different individuals  so that i could view it objectively,  more important, i wish to recognize the value of my own craftmanship and hold on to the love, inspiration, excitement and thought that went into each project, and let that be enough. I guess i am seeing the differences between gifting and selling and hope that i can find some pleasure in the selling department. Would it not be great to be able to earn some money by doing something you love, using creativity ever day in your work? The slight possibility of this is enough reason for me to plug on, when i start doubting myself or my work and start considering slashing my prices to the point where i am paying for the privilege to give my hard work away, i hope i can come back here and take a breath, and remember that all greatness is birthed through some not so greatly moments, to persevere and hang on, maybe one day someone will read this😉 and be able to relate. I am feeling a little lost in blog land and on etsy, like i am in anew place and struggling to find my way around, i dont know the language and am finding a lot of threads that claim to be directions but in fact leave me a little confused. I have found some good advice as far as the blog is concerned and that was to stay true to yourself and hang in there, try to be consistent, have patience as you will eventually get more traffic once you have a bit of a consistent history and you are for sure sticking around. I believe that all efforts are rewarded in time in some way or another, one door closes a window opens, let it be.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Threads Quilt Co.

Hi everyone,
I am starting a new venture and am in the midst of opening my own online shop on etsy called Threads quilt Co. I wanted to call it kararist threads ( my hubby says he is being kararized when i give him a hard time) This is funny because i can be a bit of a terror during my creative process, i usually hunker down and push through in solitude, this is not always possible, as i have him to feed as well as our two kids, they all have to eat, even at inconvenient times, like in the middle of a quilt.. Only because i am so wonderful, do i stop doing what i am doing, sometimes it takes every bit of my strength to then re-focus my energies on dinner..
Anyway, please do not take the above to seriously, just my brand of humor, getting off track... i am opening an etsy shop as i am finally satisfied with the quilts I am producing. I am a bit of a perfectionist and am struggling still with listing some of the things i made earlier, the last two quilt tops i have made, i am really happy with, i am adding borders to those star log cabin block and will be listing those shortly in my shop. Still not sure about some of the others i had in mind, i made quite few table runners while i was practicing free motion quilting, these small quilts could be considered art quilts, i will have to pull some of these items out, i really want to make a good go of this shop, i want to sell good quality items at fair prices. I could really use some advice as to whether i should be listing a few of my items with flaws like a pinched back from the quilting, if the blemish is mentioned and photograph of flaw is shown, and this minor flaw is reflected in the price, or , should i be leaning towards listing fewer items that are more up to my standards... and priced accordinly. Pricing is another thing i find challenging, to put a monetary value on ones artistic creation, this is difficult. I wonder if a quilt appraiser can value a bundle of quilts for a fee, this way i would know they are priced fairly, i dont want to sell myself short, but still have to be competitive, after doing a bit of market research, i am more confused than ever as there are huge differences in price, quality of construction or difficulty of pattern or the materials used do not seem to be what individuals are guaging value of a piece by, but more often asking prices that are way  too low or way too high in my opinion. Maybe somewhere in the middle is where i should start. i would love to hear what some of you might do..Please look through the following pics of the things i am listing and considering listing in my etsy shop. I am hoping that my reluctance to list some of these items due to imperfections is unfounded...... I guess my biggest challenge will be to recognize the value of my own craftmanship... Another Aha moment, as Oprah would say.... thanks for reading, if anyone has indeed read this far 😆

Thursday, September 11, 2014

the Fabric Fairy arrived today with a special delivery.

My new fabric just arrived, this is the first fabric line I have found that fits my sense of style so perfectly, there is not a single print in this line that i cannot say that i like, mostly love. I ordered a couple more meters of the subway art print-did i say i am in love..... I can hardly wait to start playing , i have already drafted up a design with this fabric in mind.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mom's Quilt; Strip pieced block, a collaborative effort .

I have been staring at these blocks that my mom (by heart and in-law) had given me during our last visit in Vancouver B.C. Inititially I had thought I would add more of the same blocks as i had a couple of the same fabrics from moms fabric stash, so i started strip piecing, there are a few really great tutorials out there that show how to do this particular block, i will have to track said tutorials down again and figure out how to add the link.... I pieced a dozen strips or so and held it up to the quilt, i was way off, i should have been auditioning prints from the start, i figured as they were similar value it would not matter, i was wrong...So back to the drawing board... I layed out all the blocks on the design wall, one more row of blocks would have completed this design perfectly but alas, i did not have the right fabrics, so I decided to add some borders to it, maybe i would use the strips i pieced as a postage stamp border instead. I auditioned a couple of the same prints used in the blocks and found i preferred the a solid white as it brightened it up where as the other prints made it look muddy. The white fabric gives your eye a break from all the busy prints while showcasing them in the best light. I was going to add another couple borders but decided against this after auditioning several, sometimes less is better.
Now it came time to make my sandwich, i taped my backing- a vintage floral, also from moms scrap stash, down to my cutting table and layered batting and our quilt top and spray basted between layers. I have decided to try my hand at hand quilting, this is what mom does. I have only quilted by machine, i do enjoy free motion quilting, but i do not lime the shine an invisible thread puts on a top, and that would have been my only option on this top or i could have used a taupe or grey thread, the thread would have really stood out in some places and disappeared in others given the variation in colour and print. So, my mom is an amazing hand quilter, her stitches are so tiny and even and straight where they should be straight. Mom marks her quilts with bits of masking tape, after stitching 3/4of a block and finding I have some really wobbly lines, i tied and buried my thread last night , i think today i will be using the tape, and i will have to try out the thimble, it would help , if i could push the needle back up from the backing without getting stabbed. Pictures to follow, i just have to finish my tea...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bleacher seat covers

My son just started football, we watched his first game a couple weeks ago and froze our rear ends on the cold steel bleachers. So. I went shopping with visions of  hip, portable seat cushions. I bought some foam and made envelope style pillow covers each with its own handle and my pieced my sons number onto the front panel. I am quite proud of how they turned out. I got to try them out at the following game and for once felt like an organized, on time, got it together kinda parent- This is a rare feeling for me- So I embraced it and enjoyed the game much more while my tush was nice and toasty. Love the wool herringbone- all of the fabrics I happened to use for this project were thrift-ed at different times. I used the same denim for all the numbers- one of which I used the reverse side of the denim as it would not have contrasted enough otherwise- and the same denim for the overlapping envelope backs. I played around with a doodle for the numbers- and discovered that you can piece anything, especially if you keep it simple and keep your lines straight. I broke down each number into a few different parts- you can see where it has been pieced- This could be done the same way with letters too. Our team lost 20 nothing....Better luck next time- They might just make a football fan of me yet. I do not understand the game yet or know the rules, but still found myself standing and cheering uncontrollably at one point- I had fun. My,It is a busy season- as practices 4 nights a week for 3 hrs and then has a practice before the game, making it 5 nights a week in total that he has football. It is the first sport he has shown any interest in. So. We were happy to do it, in spite of the insanity it adds to the week. Good times. Oh summer, I will miss you, It seems you were not with us long enough this year. School starts tomorrow. I am not sure whether to laugh or cry....

My sewing space in full swing

This is what my space looks like in the middle of a quilt, fabric everywhere, floor covered in thread, i sweep up at the end of the day, most of the time.. This is where i do my cutting and sewing. I refinished this table myself, i had not intended to use it as a sewing table, it was suppose to be temporary, but over time i have grown quite fond of this set up, it is a pub style table and has been lowered ever so slightly, i do not have to hunch over to sew, which makes bigger projects much easier on my back. I have a drop leaf table that is on wheels that I can slide out from under the table to be used for cutting and sometimes i stretch my quilt backing over it with clamps and lar my quilt batting and top and spray baste or pin. My other sewing machine is tucked away in the storage cupboard that is contained ubder this table top. The dresser was also a project of mine, it was given to me, i painted and distressed it a bit and added the glass pulls and use it to store my fabric. Inside the fabric is folded up to a consistent size and filed on its side, so everything is visible at a glance. The end table that i have next to the dresser stores my ufo, s that I intend to complete at some point....... I also painted a peg board and hang all of my rulers, templates, patterns and cutting tools etc. I keep Grannies thread and other haberdashery in a decorative cupboard that i open every now and then and look through the shiny silk threads that i use sparingly to quilt the odd item that i plan to keep for myself. I can feel her with me in these moments and can feel her smiling. This is my favorite space in the house. Sewing is my meditation and or medication...