Pretty in Pink, part 1

As a kid, I’d never wear pink unless coerced. As a quilter, I’m learning to love pink. Deep fuschia prints and hot pink batiks? Yup, I will use them, usually juxtaposed alongside turquoise and orange.

But pale, soft pinks are a departure for me. I started a quilt in January using soft pink, lilac, blue and green, and I’m really loving it… hmm, where are those quilt blocks? I should dig those up… but that’s another story…

I ended up in Vancouver over the august long weekend, and of course, found a fabric store. I started picking out blues and greens, but discarded the pile once I laid eyes on the cutest mushroom cotton print! Somehow it spoke to me. Really. In hushed tones.

I pulled out the bolt (called mushroom march in coral, Arcadia, Sarah Watson for cloud nine), and on the same shelf found coordinating prints – some from Cloud Nine, one from Flea Market Fancy. In the shop, I tried to mix in pale blue and grey prints, but the fabrics in the shop did not quite work. So I bought the 4 pink prints from Spool of Thread, and made my way back to Toronto.

Shop your Stash! So I did, and found dozens of prints that could work. Blue, grey, yellow, more pink, lots of neutrals and some low volume prints… yummy.

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I am a little uncertain about the deeper pinks, but overall, I like this palette. The decision to use cream, beige and grey together surprised me… but maybe not… I’ve spent many years in educational institutions – and those colours are so practical, not so?

Well, my palette is chosen. what about a pattern?

Home Sweet Home, Part 5

The quilt is done, and was a great surprise for Opa. I’ve never had a quilt travel abroad before, and this one has already been to some cool places. First to Venice, Italy, then to various towns in Austria…. apparently, “have quilt, will travel” ;-) We visited Annaberg, a mountain ski village with cooler weather, and Opa took the quilt for the trip, and loved it. It’s back in the Lake District now.

What I loved about making this quilt:
1. I stepped a bit outside my comfort zone, and explored chocolate, greens and purples.
2. The quilt is to scale! thanks Google Maps :-)
3. I’m so glad I took the time to trace the entire quilt onto the white fabric. it made the reverse applique process much easier.
4. All the ppl that helped me make this happen – my partner, his brother and mum, my sister, mum and dad, Judy and her crew at Sew Sisters, the fellow quilter who gave my fabric selections a thumbs up when I was sitting on the floor in the Hamel’s booth. Thank you.

What I can do better next time:
1. Plan for more time. I was really rushed with the quilting and binding.
2. Add more detail. I had wanted to put in landmarks, stitch in the railroad, and add the river.
3. Use a plain fabric for the background (ie, the roads). The white fabric had a shiny white print on it, that sometimes made it difficult to see the grey chalk lines.
4. Draw the quilt lines. I simply cannot sew a straight line free hand, sigh.

We visited a grand house last weekend, and I got some great pictures there of the quilt…

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hanging out on a bench in the park.

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sunning on the front lawn of the castle.

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here’s a closer look at the map.

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I managed to applique a heart to show the location of the home.

Hence, the quilt is entitled “Home is where the Heart is” :-)

I have to admit, it was unusually easy to give this quilt away. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love it very much, but the joy it has given my partner’s parents has made the effort worthwhile :-)

Now, what shall I sew next?

Home Sweet Home, Part 4

The first batch of “floor board” borders came together rather quickly. I knew I wanted red, to tie in the 4.5 metres on Stonehenge red that I picked up at Sew Sisters… this fabric was first cut into two lengths for the backing… then I trimmed away some of the width for strips on the front. I opted for brown and purple floorboard borders next, the finished with 3 shades of green. I had enough of the outermost border fabric left to whip up some binding.

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I sandwiched and pinned this quilt VERY quickly. The snapshot above shows the quilt sandwich before I trimmed the excess batting – I used a queen size organic cotton backing. Even though I chose a 2″inch grid quilting design, it still took a couple of days to finish quilting. I was quilting right up until 4 hours before my flight to Venice. I was exhausted when I got on the flight… I have been sewing every night for hours after work… for about 4 weeks prior to the trip.

3 relaxing days in Venice, 1 day of train travel to Austria, and then, back to the grind – 4 hours of sewing and pressing this afternoon :-) I had cut the binding in Toronto, borrowed a sturdy Pfaff sewing machine from my partner’s mom here in Austria, and acquired use of his brother’s airy living room today. After a rocky start (the instructions were in German, yikes), I got the machine working. Soon the binding was pieced, folded and pressed, and attached to the quilt. Not my neatest work, but the quilt will withstand regular usage :-)

It’s currently being washed and dried, and I will trim away any threads tomorrow. Hopefully, all this covert activity has gone unnoticed by Opa, and he will be surprised for his birthday this weekend :-)

Home Sweet Home, Part 3

It’s been weeks. I’ve been confident and persistent, and I’ve done it! The panel is pieced, and I’m satin stitching the edges in pale grey thread now to stabilize it….. I omitted one of my colours, on my partner’s advice… but the fabric is not wasted, it will work for the quilt border and binding. I don’t have a backing pieced, and I don’t have time to piece one, so I’m just going to buy some yards of a sale fabric at Sew Sisters, or an extra wide fabric. I have not done a single fabric backing since 2010, I always piece my leftovers to make a coordinating backing, to maximize use of the leftovers, to whittle away at my stash, and to be economical. But since my leftovers are batik, I’m not worried, they will get used on another project.

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Confessions of a Quilter: during the piecing, I kept thinking I was certifiable. To get here took long hours late at night after work, and quite a bit of my weekends. But I’m really excited to finish it now…. wish me luck. the deadline is looming!

Home Sweet Home, Part 2

[Warning - long post, lots of ideas, some quilter's angst, and a lot of indecision]

I did a tonne of research for this quilt. I thought the Sochi Olympics was so inspiring. Did you take a close look at the graphics throughout the games? Lots of modern and traditional patchwork patterns. And the officials wore rainbow coloured jackets… representing colours of the world. Read more about the quilt design inspiration here

This picture got me thinking of flags. Since Opa loves to travel, I thought I would do flags of the world…

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Pretty cool, but it might look weird in batik. And I did not have enough red. Hmm, maybe a map of the world? Or a flag map of the world?

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from clipartist.net

My mind boggles at the intricacies! Daunting.. and I’m more Amity than Dauntless, with no traces of Divergence (ok, ok, I’ll stop here, but I *just* finished reading the Divergence series by Veronica Roth).

Maybe I could focus on one country, or a region, or…. Opa’s home town! I downloaded a Google maps image, and then uploaded it onto one of those poster converting sites. I used Blockposters.com. You can dissect the image into the number of 8.5 x 11″ pages you want, and the tool will created a PDF image that you can download, print and seam together for a massive poster. A great way to enlarge an image for free. I used this same technique when I created the template for the Phoenix quilt.

One thing to note: if your printer cannot print outside a certain margin size, the you need to cut away the margins and/or overlap the pages to get a margin free poster image. I made the mistake of not noticing the margins. Sigh. So I reprinted, cut and seamed a second template.

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My partner also suggested another map image of his hometown, and we printed a large version of that one too. It was gorgeous, but it was WAY too detailed.

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So I’ve settled on my enlarged google image template.

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Here’s the thing about me. I come up with an idea, start to work on it, and then put it aside… because I get distracted by something else. The *very same day* that I completed the template, I got to browsing on Etsy…

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Oooh, I always wanted to do a pineapple quilt! And I said I would, after reading about  Red Pepper Quilt’s scrappy pineapple block. And it’s a free download. And it would look so good in batik. pooh, I should google batik pineapple quilts to get some colour inspiration… like this one… yummy quilt (drooling like Homer)….

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from the Nifty Stitcher

This train of thought continued throughout the evening. I was going to do the best pineapple quilt in the world. I was going to be a pineapple quilt rock star. I know I can, I know I can :-) At breakfast the next morning, my partner commented casually on the abandoned map template in the sunroom, and I felt the guilt pouring in. Right. I spent hours on this already, and enlisted his help to cut and seam that poster, didn’t I? And it’s a great idea, and I am excited about it. And he’s excited about it, which means his dad will like it (they have similar tastes), and I already ignored his colour palette suggestions, and stubbornly chose my own. I should see this through. Yes, I should.

So, after breakfast, I got a lesson in creating gradients in Adobe Photoshop, and layered this gradient on top of the map.

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Then I got out my crayons, and came up with a blueprint. It’s not quite like the adobe photoshop sketch, but I rather like it. I took the large poster sized template and traced out the main roads with a black medium tipped sharpie – there are a lot of little lanes that I decided to omit, in order to save time (I only have  few weeks to get this done).

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One small problem. There’s a lot of curves, and I’ve never done curved piecing. And those roads are really, really small. Hmm, maybe I can appliqué? I grabbed some leftover scraps, drew out a small section of the poster size template, and tried raw edge appliqué – I satin stitched the edges in pale grey. Not bad, but the pieces kept shifting, so the road got really wide, and I want to keep a sense of proportion.

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Decided to mull over this on the drive to and from work next day, and realized that I needed to get 1. a neutral background, and 2. some sort of fusible webbing to stabilize the pieces during appliqué. So I popped into Sew Sisters, and got talking to Judy. She suggested I should number all my patches on the template, and take a picture (or print the image on a page and number that so I would have a reference). Then, if I wanted smooth edges, I’d have to cut up the large template and create my appliqué patches using those smaller segments. To help reference things, I could overlay my fabric onto the template and trace out the patches. Sounded do-able.

And so, armed with all this wonderful advice from Judy, I was confident again. I finally chose a white cotton background, and picked up some grey chalk for my mechanical pencil.

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At home, after pinning the fabric to the template, I traced all the roads. It took forever, and I had to refer back to a smaller version of the image occasionally. It was quite late when I finally finished.

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In the morning, I stared at the background fabric for ages. OMG, I panicked, I cannot do this. Must google appliqué tutorials (nothing like a few good tutorials to calm me down). But then I realized.. what if I reverse appliquéd this? I’ve done reverse appliqué before, and it came out great! I tested a sample piece using some scraps.

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Piece of cake. Sort of. But time consuming. Yikes! I better get started right away!

Home Sweet Home, Part 1

The turquoise quilt has found a new home with my newest niece! She is the sweetest thing, I’m so glad that she is happy and healthy.

My next project is going to be a success or a flop, I’m not certain yet. It’s for my partner’s dad, Opa, who turns 75 in July. I put together a fantastic bundle, and showed it to my partner….

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This was a bundle of precuts, and I combed my stash for some blenders. I thought it was amazing. He thought it was not – too bright, too modern, and what was with the black prints? Sigh.

I tossed it all back into the stash, and tried again. Batik! My partner loves batik (after all, his quilt is made of batiks). I put together another bundle…

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These are a happy palette. I got intel on Opa’s favourite colours from the family – blue and brown. Well, no one really knows for sure, but he wears a lot of blue and brown… and I know he has a favourite orange sweater and yellow shirt… and he loves nature, so I threw in a pile of greens that I’ve been dying to use. Soooooooooo, I asked, wouldn’t this bundle work?

The weird look I got in return was not really helpful. So I decided to ignore everyone else’s opinions on the subject to solve the problem. I did toss the pink back into the stash… but now I needed more fabric.

Lucky for me, Creativ festival was rolling around. I took a trip to Mississauga, and headed straight for Hamel’s. I went through the shelves of batik (hundreds of pieces), picked out my favourites, then sat on the floor in a corner to compare them to a photo of fabrics from my stash. Reluctantly, I discarded a few, got a nod of approval from a fellow quilter who was looking over my shoulder with interest, and headed over to the register.

Back home, I combed through my stash again, and here’s what I’ve come up with…

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Close ups below:

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It seems like a lot of fabric. But I can always edit once I decide on a quilt pattern. Now, what can I make with this?

(not so) Totally Turquoise Quilt, Part 4

I managed to get a LOT of work done on this quilt…. I pieced the strips together, then cut new strips on the diagonal. It was a bit finicky to join the shorter lengths, but I managed to get it all done.

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Of course, I needed a border. Here’s what I settled on… mostly because I had sufficient fabric. But then I changed my mind and reserved the middle turquoise strips off the border instead.

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I have put the last of my sunflower fabric into the quilt back, and added blue and turquoise strips to complete it. Most of this fabric is leftover from the Bright and Bubbly quilt… that’s a happy quilt, so this will be also :-)
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And yes, I added *another* border to the quilt top! This time, I used the orange version of the sunflower fabric. Love it!
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I’m still too chicken to try free motion, but I love the effect of wavy lines. I found a softly undulating wave stitch on my machine that gave a great effect. I quilted horizontal and vertical wavy lines, fairly close together. The next few shots show the stitching, and the quilted back and front, so hopefully you can see the quilting!
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Adding the border was a quick affair using a darker turquoise.. I had a tonne of leftover 2.5″ strips in this colour. I must be getting better at binding, it all got done in a couple of hours. I think that stitching along the edge before binding really helps to make the quilt edges easier to handle.

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So now to wash and de fuzz, and it’s ready for delivery!

Totally Turquoise Quilt, Part 3

sigh. not enough turquoise for my totally turquoise quilt.

I sorted out some stacks for the quilt. Along with the turquoise stack, I decided to mix some blue, green, pink and orange into the quilt… so maybe this quilt will be not *totally* turquoise (sheepish grin). And I broke into a jelly roll of Kona pastels, I’ve been dying to use this precut. After some debate, I made my choices… including a fresh and sweet birdie print, which reminds me of candy crush striped candies.

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I’m cutting strips zealously, and piecing quickly with my trusty Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 875… not much time left before the baby’s arrival!

Totally Turquoise Quilt, Part 2

Coming up with an idea for a new quilt is sometimes harder than sewing the quilt. Sometimes I comb through magazines and quilt books for inspiration, browse Pinterest for colour combinations or just doodle in my notebook.

For Christmas, I got an Adonit Jot Script stylus for my iPad. This one is Bluetooth ready, and can be used with a multitude of apps, including PenUltimate. I love it. This app allows me to create idea books, write or draw with the stylus, and import pictures or saved drawings from other apps. No more printing of images, or photocopying, or tearing pages out of catalogues!! And I can take snapshots (with my iPad) of any drawings I make, and import them into my e-book immediately – instant gratification. Finally, a way to merge my paper world with my paperless world, without lugging a binder of materials and my iPad around.

I created my notebook in Penultimate, and started brainstorming. I love mind maps, so I started drawing one around “things my cousin loves”. It’s so cool how quickly this tool helps you visualize your thoughts. I started researching the different branches, adding images, notes and pictures. My sister suggested including birds (no surprise here). My aunt reminded me of my cousin’s addiction to candy crush. I checked out dozens of home decor magazines from the library, and chevrons kept popping out of me… a chevron/candy crush/love bird inspired quilt in turquoise? Yikes. Sounds scary.

I decided to draw for a bit, nesting squares within squares. Maybe a log cabin quilt? I chopped the first batch of squares-in-squares, and rotated the pieces until I had a couple of designs.

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I really liked both of these, but I kept thinking of deconstructed chevrons. I pasted both samples into my drawing book for another project…. another time.

I was flipping through a sewing magazine a few days later, and came across a black and white pillow, patch worked from diagonal strips… the diagonal pieces were sewn together to mimic a zig zag motif, but rather haphazardly… a deconstructed chevron of sorts. I liked it!

So I started doodling. I covered a section of paper with long strips of colour. then I cut the whole thing on the diagonal, creating uneven lengths and widths. Within a few minutes I had glued the strips and cut blocks that I could play with….

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Et voila! A deconstructed chevron quilt is born. Now, where’s that stash of fabric I was collecting for this project?

Totally Turquoise Quilt, part 1

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When my cousin got married, she wore an exquisite sari in turquoise. Unusual, since most brides wear red saris, but it suited her perfectly. She looked radiant. The pictures above show close-ups of her sari (the difference in colour is due to lighting indoors vs outdoors).

Turquoise stones are full of interesting colour – shades ranging from almost green to almost blue.

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I love the pattern in these stones – makes me think of rippling water, tropical shores, views from glass bottomed boats on Caribbean reefs.

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I decided to google turquoise – tonnes of inspiring photos. According to Wikipedia, turquoise stones range from white to blue to green, depending on the chemical composition. The most desired stones tend towards robin’s egg blue. Turquoise (the color) is often synonymous with aqua or teal, although teal is greener and darker.

My cousin announced she’s pregnant…. hmm, is there a turquoise quilt idea milling around in my head, waiting to be made? I’ve combed my stash, and settled on 3 gorgeous turquoise shades – a robin’s egg blue, a deeper french blue, a bright aqua. I also pulled out some sunflower prints leftover from the bright and bubbly quilt – blues and greens on sky blue and orange backgrounds… now to find a theme, and figure out some contrasting colours – turquoise works well with orange, deep purple, and pink. Orange, check. Maybe one other colour?