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?

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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 appliquĂ©? I grabbed some leftover scraps, drew out a small section of the poster size template, and tried raw edge appliquĂ© – 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 appliquĂ©. 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 appliquĂ© 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 appliquĂ© tutorials (nothing like a few good tutorials to calm me down). But then I realized.. what if I reverse appliquĂ©d this? I’ve done reverse appliquĂ© 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!

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?

What I’m Reading Now

I joined the Toronto Public Library. It occurred to me that after all the taxes I pay, I should use more of the public amenities that the good city provides. That’s what I told the librarian, anyway.

Truth is, I heard there were audio books and e-books and e-zines in the library now. Easily accessible. There were apps I could download to support my reading addiction. And. Its. All. Free. For the hard working Canadian tax payer, this is welcome news.

So I’m downloading e-books as planned. And I’m loving it. But I also discovered something else. When I went to the library to sign up for membership, I just had to wander over to the Quilting section. I was expecting a few dusty, musty smelling books from the seventies, but I was pleasantly surprised, as there are a lot of recent titles! I decided to borrow 3 books (the conventional way) – 3 titles I would have never considered buying. I’m glad I did.

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Twelve by Twelve – the International Art Quilt Challenge: this is a great read. It covers the results of a challenge undertaken by an international group of 12 quilters. Together, they came up with 12 themes, and each month interpreted those themes into a 12″x12″ quilt. The themes were wide ranging, and beautifully transformed. Each chapter covers a feature quilt and also includes excerpts from each of the quilters – they talk about inspiration, technique, colour, feeling, process…  I fell in love with one of the Community themed quilts by Kirsten Duncan, called “Brunswick Street”. I recommend this for art quilters and traditional quilters… the works are stunning and each page draws you in further. 
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Masters: Art Quilts – Major Works by Leading Artists: very inspiring. This is a very thick, full colour tome of works by some of the major players in the art quilting world. Every page was a delight, and I found myself admiring several of the pieces that were shown. This was one of my favourites – After the Rain by Ita Ziv. I love the colour and movement in her work (red, orange, yellow, green – a favourite combo).

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Jelly Roll Dreams – compiled by Pam and Nicky Lintott: I have acquired a few jelly rolls during my shopping trips, and have no idea what to do with them. Thanks to this book, I now have a Sense of Direction 🙂

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Project Phoenix Part 6 – Go with the Flo’

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It’s finally finished. After washing it, And defuzzing it, there were threads to snip, and repairs, sigh… it seems the the some of the seams around the points of those paper pieced stars got loosened in the wash… not enough seam allowance was given… it future I will be extra generous about that.

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The two shots above show the finished front and back. And yes, the back is wonky. I don’t know how I managed that, as I measured everything before sandwiching the quilt. I gave it away today to the intended recipient, who really likes it. I love it. It was a real challenge, and I had a really great time doing it. some frustration, some tears, some hesitation, sure. Was it what I had envisioned? Not at all, since I kept changing my mind all the time! But it was refreshing to see an idea evolve, twisting and changing to something wonderful. I have realized that, in the creative process, I had to let go and be flexible in order to overcome difficulty. I guess, I’ve learned that I actually can create something if I just let myself Go With The Flo’ 🙂

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The Liebster Blog award? I accept!

ImageThis is such a cool idea. I got nominated for a Liebster blog award by Esther from ipatchandquilt a short while ago. Had no idea what this was. So I googled. Here are the rules that I’ve found at In a Room of My Own:

The Liebster Blog Award is an award for blogs with under 200 followers. Apparently Liebster is German for “beloved” and a blog nominated for this award is “worth watching”.

There are 5 rules attached to this award:

1. If you are nominated for the award and accept it, then you have won!

2. Link back to the person who presented the award to you. Answer their questions.

3. Nominate 5 blogs with less than 200 followers who you feel deserve the award. Ask them questions.

4. Let the nominees know by leaving a comment on their blog.

5. Attach the Liebster award badge to your site.

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I’ve found other blogs with slightly different rules, but I think the spirit of the award remains the same. I’m happy for my nomination, and want to include others! So here goes:

Answering Esthers Questions:

  • – What music do you put on when driving?
    • Anything that makes me forget that I’m stuck in Toronto traffic – if I can sing at the top of my lungs, it’s all good!
  • – What colour clothes do you always buy?
    • I’m drawn to blue. Lately though I’m loving black and white geometric print…
  • – What sound just “makes your day”?
    • birds tweeting on a lazy sunday afternoon
  • – What trip would you like to make whenever you had the chance?
    • I’d love to go to QuiltCon (really, really, really!)
  • – Which artist inspires you?

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My Nominations

  • A Thousand Quilted Cranes – a truly ambitious and inspirational undertaking. Join the journey.
  • Happy Turtle – you gotta check out her latest project, Eastern Sunrise – the colour palette is fabulous
  • Quilting Grandma – I’m so inspired by her journey into free motion quilting.
  • Through My Window – this mixed media art quilter explores nature in her expressive work
  • Buzy Day – I’ve just started folowing this lover of all things handmade!

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IMG_1605My Questions to the nominees

– What or Who inspires you lately?
– What’s your favourite song/movie/tv show?
– When the going gets tough, what do you do to keep going?
– Share a favourite quote or saying (it could be yours)
– Share a favourite picture

I’m lately inspired by colour palettes – paint swatches at the Home Depot, flower bouquets in the supermarket, magazine spreads – especially design and home decor. Somehow, I find myself dissecting what I’m seeing into colour swatches and trying to understand what makes each hue work together.
My favourite song (Crazy – Patsy Cline), movie (Up), TV Show (The Big Bang Theory). My favourite quote – “change is good – you go first”. My favourite picture… well any shot of a Caribbean beach is my favourite – the one I’m sharing is of Pigeon Point, Tobago 🙂

Quilt Resources: Craftsy, Spoonflower, Pinterest, Flipboard and more

So it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to sew (sigh), because my sewing machine and I can’t seem to be in the same place for a reasonable amount of time. But my iPad follows me everywhere, and I’ve been experimenting with some interesting sites/apps/technology.

Let’s start with www.Craftsy.com:

  • What It Is: It’s an online tutorial site and craft shopping site. There’s surprisingly very good free content as well as excellent paid content.
  • What I’m doing with it: Lately, I’m browsing the free content, watching the lectures from the latest QuiltCon 2013 hosted by the Modern Quilt Guild. Everyone from Amy Butler to Mary Fons, each with their own unique point of view. Interesting stuff. Jacquie Gering’s presentation was endearing and really brought the emotion of quilting to the forefront.
  • What I’ve done in the past with it: Several free and paid tutorials – excellent content, I can pause and rewind, and play it over and over. Browsing the shopping area, I was able to download a free paper piecing tutorial (from ipatchandquilt.wordpress.com). I was not able to buy fabric through this site (maybe because I’m Canadian)
  • What I think of  It: I love this site…. iPad friendly, do download the app! There’s so much to learn here, and it’s a really easy to access.If you are a new quilt enthusiast, or even a quilt guru looking for help with expanding your skill set, this is definitely a great resource.

Pinterest.com:

  • What It Is: Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing things you love – photos of things, that is
  • What I’m doing with it: making collections – you can create boards where you can pin inspiration pictures, things that you have made, things you wanna make, etc
  • What I think of  It: iPad friendly app available. I don’t use it as often as I should, but it really is a great great resource. You can find me at http://pinterest.com/offquilter/

www.Spoonflower.com:

  • What It Is: Spoonflower lets you upload your own designs and turn them into fabric, wallpaper or decals. You can sell your stuff here too. Or buy from others
  • What I’m doing with it: I just uploaded a few sketches today that I wanted to turn into fabric for a future project.
  • What I think of  It: Not iPad friendly for the create fabric phase, but purchasing looks ok. No app available. It allows you to use PicMonkey to edit your work – I rather like the texture feature of this site! Although it’s not iPad friendly, it works really well in a browser, and I’m quite happy with the first uploads. You can find me here

Flipboard:

  • What It Is: an RSS feed reader, which incorporates Google Reader content, somehow (don’t ask, I dont know)
  • What I’m doing with it: reading quilting and sewing blogs!
  • What I think of  It: Not all my favourite bloggers have RSS feeds turned on their sites. I wish they would. The beauty of this site is that it’s like an online newspaper or magazine of every rss feed you wanna read – convenient, easy to use interface, and iPad friendly 🙂

Other apps/software/technology that I’m exploring right now:

  • PicMonkey (online photo editor)
  • PaintBrush for the Mac
  • Inkscape
  • SketchbookX for iPad
  • Adonit Jot Pro – touchscreen stylus – I’m really loving this!

reblogging: Wish upon a star – part 2

Paper Piecing Pattern – Wish! by ester at ipatchandquilt.wordpress.com. I just downloaded it, and can’t wait to try it out! also my first attempt at reblogging – how cool is this?

ipatchandquilt

Maybe you remember that I had the privilege to test the alphabet pattern FONTASTIC by Kristy at Quietplay. A group of pattern testers had to try out a selection of words and than send the blocks to her so Kristy could make them part of two charity quilts.  I added a little seven pointed star to my package and told Kristy to do whatever she wanted with it. She has now finished the quilt top for the first of two quilts with the test blocks.  And my little star rocks on the bottom!

Have a look at these gorgeous photo’s from Kristy!

Did you also spot my WISH block on the top?

I had wanted to draw the paper piecing pattern for this seven pointed star myself, but had not gotten around to do it. (I had used a drawing I found online before.) And when Kristy  put my star…

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OPT – Other People’s Tutorials

I’ve started a page where I plan to document tutorials that I come across that I would like to try. I think it’s amazing  and wonderful that our sewing community has spent so much time and effort to provide free material/resources to the masses. I’ve learned how to sew french seams, zippers, and more thanks to online tutorials and videos, and learned tips and tricks to help me cut more accurately, piece more efficiently and quilt with more confidence. Thanks to all the wonderful folks out there in the WWW who have generously shared their expertise.

To access the OPT page, click the OPT page link up at the top of this blog. If anyone has any tips and tricks for newbie crochet enthusiasts (I just started about 3 weeks ago), please share!