I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

A quilt for Kate

This is the second of two quilts I pieced and quilted for friends of my daughter as thank you’s for kindness shown.
The new owner, Kate, chose greens and a simple layout for her top. I passed along some ideas for her to chose from and she liked the quilt she saw made from a quick sketch someone posted on pinterest with cutting dimensions and pressing instructions. The top sewed up quickly! Simone and I collected the selection of greens, I cut it all into 2.5 inch strips and then sewed randomly. Then I chopped these strips into the sizes of sections required and pieced 30 - 16 inch finished blocks. 
The before shot
The back is a lovely black cotton I picked up at Avonport Discount Fabrics last fall as we travelled back home from Yarmouth. It was our 28th wedding anniversary and remember being so grateful that my sweet and ever patient husband would wait while I fabric shopped and then not even ask about yet another bolt of fabric, let alone black fabric, that I was bundling into the hatchback!

I offered Kate something swirly or hearts as the stitch pattern and she chose hearts. Since I had just finished another quilt with hearts, it was an easy pattern to get back into it and I happily quilted away. I still have the binding to do which I will piece from the scraps left over and sew on next week.

I know Kate has just purchased her first home so I am hoping her new quilt will be a well loved addition.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A little more about Road to California 2014

This morning when we got up, the temperature was -2! It only reached a wet, windy high of 8 degrees and someone remarked to me that if it really were the fall (which it feels) we would at least dress for the weather. No one wants to pull out their toques and mitts, but really? Well, if we were sensible, we would. But, sensible does not abound in these parts apparently. Today I saw more shorts and bare feet and bare arms than I have for days. Meanwhile I am wrapped in three layers, a scarf around my neck, shoulders up to my ears and anxious to get home so I can stuff a heated magic bag in my sweater! I am still sporting wool socks and flannel pj’s to bed and any tan I might have gotten last month while in Cozumel has long ago faded to pasty white. Sigh. 

Well, I am trying to keep warm thoughts and that brings me back to California. While there I had the pleasure of taking classes with numerous instructors. Lisa Sipes and Pam Clarke were both longarmers I had become familiar with and classes with both provided me with lots of tips, techniques and possibilities. Lisa is a relaxed, casual teacher and displays obvious skill on the longarm.

Pam is very, very organized and has developed a method of marking and quilting that is pretty much fool proof. As she says, when you have quilted as many quilts as she has, you need to be organized and use a method that you know will deliver.
I also had the pleasure of speaking with the very gracious, Alex Anderson of The Quilt Show fame. She was there representing the show and took the time to speak and pose with everyone and anyone. She was chatty and gave me a friendly jab of her elbow when I teased her about the trials of being a superstar! lol
Road to California attracts a large number of Canadians, mostly snowbirds who winter in Palm Springs, and mainly from the western provinces. On the day we were to take a class from Angela Walters who unfortunately got the flu and had to cancel, we posed with a couple of fellow Canadian classmates. We seemed to meet up with Colleen (second from the left) quite a bit and always enjoyed some laughs with her.
For a group that is missing out on a class with Angela, we look fairly happy. I know we were all very disappointed, but I think unexpectedly having a free day to spend shopping here...
helped keep our spirits up.

I normally don’t pose for photos since I am usually the photographer, but I am glad I did during that trip. It is proof positive that I did attend and that I did meet those great instructors and all those wonderful quilters! Looking at each photo takes me back to the moment and that particular experience and I remember something more about it each time.

I really think meeting so many friendly, generous quilters was one of the best things about going to Road. Every teacher relayed the attitude that if they could do it, you could do it. Every person shared information, offered assistance, moved over if you needed a seat. There were smiles, lots of laughs, oodles of positive vibes, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Friday, May 23, 2014

All keyed up! A client quilt

Lately I have been robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. Life has been a delicate balancing act and sometimes sleep just doesn’t come easy with all the file folders in my head filled to capacity and spilling out into my REM time. This morning I was awake far too early and after struggling to stay comfortable and not disturb my husband, I gave in and got up. Did I want to be up and moving before 4 am? No, not really, but sleep was evasive and I knew it was futile to fight. So, with visions of our fridge full of fruits and veggies, I began chopping and sauteing and blending. 

Soon I had a lovely pot of leek soup simmering. 

There was a pasta salad that got pulled together as well, along with my favorite way to start the day, smoothies. There is no set recipe for blender drinks in our house, but today I had a juicy grapefruit that was perfect for the mix and added some zip to our yummy concoctions.

What had been occupying some of my thoughts? Earlier I had received this top from Marie:

Her quilt was the result of a challenge she participated in at one of her guilds. A fellow member brought in a selection of Fons and Porter magazines and challenged the members to complete a project found within the pages. Marie chose to make this wonderful little cuddle quilt for a niece who just happens to be a composer.
The perfect backing!

Marie brought me a 35% higher loft poly batting and using a neutral thread on the bottom and a black thread on top, I quilted a variety of designs to suit the quilt.
I created piano keys in the borders, quilted some stippling in the piano and background, did some straight stitching in the borders and on the red music notes and tried to create a simple design on the keyboard that would reflect a classic style.
I also stitched around the pre-printed keyboard with a monofilament thread to hi-light the individual keys.

There was a bit of discussion about the binding that Marie would add. As with many projects, we sometimes run out of the exact piece we might use because we have bought our fabric with no particular project in mind. Although her first instinct was to sew on a red binding, I think she may go with a solid black.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Discharge Dyeing

Right now I have dye buckets and dishes and measuring cups and dish pans and PVC pipe and measuring spoons and ice cream buckets of soda ash solution and colorful rags and all kinds of other fabric dyeing paraphernalia “decorating” my dining room, kitchen and maybe a few other spots in the house..When I get a few minutes and the urge, I mix up a bit of dye, manipulate some fat quarters of fabric and do a bit of dyeing. However, my last batch reminded me that using less than the perfect fabric is a waste of my time.

To say I was disappointed those results is about right. So, for now, those pieces  have been set aside until I feel ready to deal with them by over-dyeing, discharging or using some sort of stencil, stamp or brush on them.

In the meantime, to make myself get over that annoying sense of failure we Type A’s sometimes suffer when our results are not up to our own sometimes impossible standards, I decided to do a little discharge dyeing. Discharge dyeing is always a success because you cannot predict the results and what you get is always a wonderful, useful surprise. Or, at least that is what I tell myself!
I have a “reasonable” collection of fabrics so I scrounged up a hunk of black cotton from the stacks and using a 50/50 mix of water and bleach, I tried some folder and pleating and brushed my bleach solution on each piece. When I discharge fabrics, I watch closely for the process to start and then quickly rinse the fabric in a pan of cold water, then toss it in a stop bath of vinegar and cold water. Afterwards I wash it in hot water with Blue Dawn dish detergent, dry them, press them and then dream of where I can use these lovely fabrics.

As a point of reference, all these fabrics originated from that same piece of black in the photos. Which is one of the fun things about this process - the unpredictability of what you will uncover.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Feathers and Freehand Quilting

It seems that most times I am told, “ do what you want,” when asked to quilt for people. And that is what I love to hear because it gives me free reign to quilt as I choose.

This lovely quilt is one of those wonderful projects where I had no set parameters and no limitations. Claudia pieced this top at our local guild retreat, using a variety of fabrics including Stonehenge fabrics by Northcott.
She asked me to order a wool batt and for the top thread, I used a Superior Rainbows variegated thread I purchased at Road from Dr. Bob whose sage advice when I asked about it was, “Try it. You’ll like it.” I have to admit, I was hoping for a bit more info, but he was right, I do like it. I used a Glide thread in the bobbin, one of the spools the Gammill folk included in their goody bags for class participants.
I felt this quilt needed feathers as well as places for the eye to relax so I quilted feathers in the outside borders and triangles and did some freehand work in the blocks and inside border. My feathers are a work in progress and I seem to have found my style when I practice and then lose it again when the quilting gets serious..lol I am going to keep working at them because they are actually fun to quilt.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bargello Hearts and Complementary Coloring, a Client’s Quilt

It was only as I chopped the green onions that I recognized the pattern.
I looked behind me to the plate of thinly sliced cucumber and wedges of tomato.
I remembered filling my shopping basket with brussel sprouts, asparagus spears, firm sweet peppers, strawberries, leeks, a mouth watering canary melon.
It was the perfect example of art imitating life. Or life imitating art? 

When I teach my color theory classes, or give my hour long presentation on the same topic, part of the program emphasizes looking to Mother Nature for color guidance. An interesting twist on this topic, here I was, innately recreating the colors I had been quilting with, only this time they were on my plate.

During the recent Greater Moncton Quilt Guild retreat, one of our members was working on this luscious bargello top.
I admired it from afar and remember thinking how much fun it would be to quilt.
Yesterday as I handed this beautiful quilt back to its maker, I laughingly told Marie my thoughts that weekend. And how excited I was when I saw the top she asked me to quilt for her!

As I sat and munched my veggies and fruit last evening, I reflected on how your mind make these connections and how I was so obviously influenced by the colors of Marie’s top. Perhaps I just wasn’t ready to let the piece go and this was my way of re-creating those wonderful complementary and gradient colors. Whatever the reason, the quilt is rich and gorgeous, the food was delicious and I am so happy to have had both to enjoy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Baby Quilts

These are two baby quilts I recently completed quilting for a customer.

They are so pretty and fresh and soft..I quilted sheep on one and ducks on the other.

The backs are beautiful, soft flannel and I think they will be well received by a couple of very lucky babies!

I am linking with The Needle and Thread Network.