Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 New Years Goals - Final Review

WOW the end of the year is finally here. So it's time to take a look at what I had set out as my goals for this year, what was I able to accomplish, what didn't happen and what else came along. First is a list of my original goals and what happened with each one.

Jan: finish my first quilt that I started 6 years ago – completed
Jan: workshop Luminous Diamonds quilt – decision not to go forward due to extensive fabric requirements to properly complete quilt
Jan: workshop Falling Splendor quilt – I have all my leaf blocks ready for button hole applique stitching, then need to assemble the quilt
March: Dragon quilt wall hanging for a birthday if possible otherwise it becomes a Christmas present – completed for the birthday
March: 2 maple leaves for International Fiber Collaborative project "Interdependence" – completed
April: Quilt Guild challenge – did not start this project so I know have a bunch of fat quarters to use for something else
May: Baby quilt – completed
June: Leaf lap quilt for Anna at work – completed
Christmas present: Turquoise and brown lap quilt – cancelled this project
Christmas present: Flower garden lap quilt in purples – moved to 2010
Christmas present: Flower garden lap quilt in blues – moved to 2010
Christmas presents: Origami Stars and quilted birds (assorted) – never happened
Any time: Bird of Paradise Harmonic Convergence wall hanging (for me to hang in my office) – never happened
Any time: One block wonder quilt ( I already have the fabric and am curious as to how this will turn out) – never happened

So from this list I completed 5 projects, 1 is partially finished, 3 I decided not to go forward with, 2 I have moved to next year to be done and 3 just never got off the ground, but hopefully sometime in the future may get done.

In addition the following new projects happened in 2009:

Feb: Bush Fire wonky star quilt project – completed
Aug: Stacked coin quilt dinosaur motif – completed
Sep: Cat and Dog paper pieced blocks for small quilt group swap – completed
Oct: workshop Painting with Threads by Maggie Vanderweit – completed (this was just learning new techniques, no actual project)
Oct: workshop Colour in Design with Kaffe Fassett – I have a preliminary quilt layout ready to look at once I’m in the mood to tackle this one, since this will be a big project in terms of sewing and quilting
Dec: Christmas quilt with cardinal border – completed
Dec: Christmas quilt with holly border – almost completed, will be finished 1st weekend of January so I'm counting this as completed for 2009 since the bulk of the work was done in 2009
Throughout the year: participated in Friday Block Party block challenge – made 35 of the 52 blocks

So in addition to the 5 completed projects from the original list I did another 5 projects in 2009. So over all a pretty successful year. Over the next few days I'm going to review what my goals are going to be for 2010 and then will post them as my start to the New Year.

I wish everyone a a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year,


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Lovely Christmas Present

I'm still busy working on the second Christmas quilt. I just have the border area left to quilt and then sew on the binding. My hope is to get it completed this weekend and then I can get the quilt shipped off early next week.

In the mean time I wanted to share with you the lovely Christmas present that I got from Elizabeth of . She made me this lovely advent calendar for me. Some of the details in it are just great. There is the fireplace to the left of the tree that has 4 little stockings hanging from the mantel. The little presents that were inside each of the numbered pouches are made from a Laurel Burch Christmas fabric that has kitties on it. The tree has strings of tiny glass beads for garland. I have the calendar hanging in my sewing room. This certainly is a lovely keepsake that I will get to use for years to come. Thanks Elizabeth!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Quilts - Part 8

The Christmas quilt wedding present got completed for yesterday and my friends came over for brunch and just loved it. I was sewing on the label first thing in the morning so pretty much done in the nick of time. Here is a picture of the finished quilt and I'm very pleased with it.

What was even more amazing was the back. This was not planned in terms of how the quilting would look like on the back but when I was finished quilting the doves and looked at the back I was so pleased to see that the doves were lined up so nicely between the two rows of pine cones.

Here is a closer view of the doves on the back.

I got a couple of better shots of the snow flake quilting.

In the four patch blocks I quilted bells in the red blocks and doves in the cream coloured blocks and here are some close ups.

I also got a better shot of the trapunto cardinals. Still the dimensional effect is hard to capture with my camera.

Well now to go and work on the second Christmas quilt which unfortunately won't be finished in time for Christmas so it will be shipped between Christmas and New Years but I'm sure my friends will love it despite it being late.

If I don't get a chance to write another entry before Christmas may everyone have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Quilts - Part 7

Yes it's been awhile since I have posted something. I'm still busy with the Christmas quilts but things are taking longer than I expected. In part it is as a result of having a bad reaction to the H1N1 flu shot. I had a rare reaction to the shot and ended up with what is called extreme exhaustion that lasts on average 4 - 6 weeks. I'm on week 5 and still am feeling pretty tired. I have made an appointment to go back and see my family doctor next week to discuss if there is anything that can be done because this is getting most annoying.

Any way, I have finished the trapunto bird border and I tried to take a picture but unfortunately the days have been rather dreary here, and today was quite stormy and my camera couldn't capture the extra dimension of the birds. I will try on the weekend since we are suppose to have a sunny day, so perhaps I will have better luck.

I am now working through the snowflakes on the main squares of the quilt and I do have to say they are turning out very nice. I an using a speciality thread by Sulky called Holoshimmer. It has a very nice iridescent quality to it. It is part of their metallic threads so it's a bit finicky to work with. I'm finding that after each block I have to re-thread the machine because the thread has a funny twist to it and it develops these wonderful kinks as it unravels. Still it is worth it. Below are three samples of my snowflakes. The colour of thread that I selected has a light green cast to it and then it changes to various colours depending on how the light hits it. It sort of reminds me of some of the colours you see inside of seashells. Unfortunately my camera can't capture those colours.

I also spent about a week on and off decorating my Chirstmas tree. Normally it only takes me the weekend to do it, but with this exhuasion I could only do so much so it dragged out for a week.
Here is a close up of some of the ornaments that are on the tree. I have been collecting ornaments for many years including trying to find some from places when I go on vacations. The tree has everything on it from animals, birds, flowers, fruit, vegetables, objects and people.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Quilts - Part 6

I got the first part of the trapunto completed on the bird border and all the excess batting has been trimmed. I finished making the backing for the two Christmas quilts. The first one with the pine cone rows will be used with the cardinal border quilt. The second one with the poinsettia rows will be used with the other quilt. The red fabrics are different. The one with the pine cones is Robert Kaufman's Fusion 5573 in Lipstick while the other red is the red fabric that was part of the border fabric on the second quilt. That border ran along each selvage and the red was the remainder of the fabric.

So this week I'll be making the quilt sandwiches and will be starting on the stitch in the ditch.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas Quilts - Part 5

I got the borders on the second Christmas lap quilt. I wasn't too certain how this was going to look because I didn't really like the border print when it arrived. It seemed a bit on the dull side. Interestingly enough once it was sewn on and I got the quilt up on my design wall it actually looks quilt nice. It has a completely different look and feel from the one with the cardinal border which I have included below this one for comparison. So I like both of them, for different reasons.

So now I have to get my snowflake designs figured out for the quilting in the main blocks. I'm still not sure what I'm going to quilt in the 4 patch blocks nor the border of the second quilt. Also before I actually do any quilting I will stitch in the ditch to stabilize the quilt since many of the pieces have bias cuts.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tips and Tricks - Modified Trapunto

I finally finished the test on the modified Trapunto and I have to say I'm pleased with the results and I'm going to use this technique for the birds in the border print. For those who are interested I've taken pictures of the steps I did in making the modified Trapunto birds and will provide an explanation underneath each photo. Note you can click on each photo for a larger version.

Here you take a piece of batting and place it underneath the birds (or what ever you want to create the Trapunto effect on) and free motion stitch the outline of the birds sewing together the fabric and batting. I initially using a fine bobbin weight tread on top so it wouldn't show too much and a regular cotton thread on the bottom. The second time I did this I used an invisible thread, YLI's Wonder Invisible thread in smoke colour on top for this colour of fabric.

Here is what it looks like on the back. I pulled the top thread to the back, tied them off and trimmed them.

Next you need a good pair of embroidery scissors and you trim away the batting close to your stitching lines.

This is what it will look like when you have finished trimming. You will have to be careful when trimming that you don't cut your quilt top. It's probably best to lay the fabric on a table top and trim away the batting that way so to quilt top doesn't get in the way of the scissors.

Then you cut another piece of batting to fit the whole piece of fabric and your backing fabric, make the sandwich and then free motion quilt around the birds. Here I used a Sulky rayon is a dark red and a Superior thread Bottom Line bobbin thread in dark red for the bobbin on the cardinal, but when I first did the chickadee I still had basic cotton thread in the bobbin. On the cardinal I quilted the wing with too much detail so my next trial is to only do the outline like I did with the chickadee.

Here is what the back looks like.

Here's the details of the chickadee.

This is the second trial where I only did the outline of the cardinal's wing.

I did a third on on a light coloured fabric so that you could better see the Trapunto effect because I couldn't get a good picture to show you that it really does work. So I would say it's a success and now to start cutting pieces of batting for all my birds.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Christmas Quilts - Part 4

I finally got the border sewn on the Christmas quilt. It took much longer than I expected because of the type of border fabric I selected. It is a directional print that had a small gold border on the left hand side and a small red border with gold filigree on the right hand side. So I had to make the cardinals go around the quilt instead of having them be upright on both the right and left hand borders. With the birds going around the quilt the right hand side is the only one where the birds are upright.

In addition I barely bought enough fabric so instead of cutting all my borders to size, I just cut out the borders from the full length of the fabric and started working with them that way. The fabric had 3 rows of the cardinals, and then there were 2 rows of pine cones and 2 rows of poinsettias. Parts of those may end up being used for the back. So the two sides and the top were sewn from the full lengths of the fabric. Then the left over pieces were pieced together to make the bottom border. Amazingly I lucked out and was able to piece it in such a way that the flow of the birds was in tact.

After everything was put together the picture below is all that was left of the cardinal borders. Hardly any waste what so ever, or what a close call.

I was trying to figure out if there was a way to miter the corners so that I didn't end up with half birds, but I think the only way that could happen is if the inner quilt is sized specifically to the border and the placement of the birds or what ever other image you might have. The upper right hand corner is the only one where I succeeded in not having a part bird.

While I was working on this border an idea came to me for the quilting. I'm going to do some experiments with a modified trapunto technique that I saw and if it works I just might go for it. I'll keep you posted on the experiment and whether it works or not.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Christmas Quilts - Part 3

I was playing with the layout the blocks for the Christmas lap quilt on Tuesday and thought I had it. So I took a picture of if yesterday evening so I could make a post here and when I looked at the picture I realized that I didn't have the red and cream coloured 4 patch blocks right. Can you see what's wrong with the placement of them in this picture? (click on it for a larger version)

Did you figure it out. Well all the red blocks with gold metallic are on the left hand side of the 4 patch placement and all the non metallic red blocks are on the right hand side of the 4 patch block placement. They should have been placed so that they were alternating as in the picture below.

I've had this happen to me a couple of times when I've looked at the design wall and thought everything was good only to take a picture, look at it and see that something wasn't quite right with the placement of my blocks. I'm really glad that I take pictures of all my quilts in various stages of completeness and study them to see how things look before I start sewing. Last thing I want to be doing is sitting down to an evening with the seam ripper.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kaffe Fassett - Part 2

Yesterday was the Kaffe Fassett workshop at the Creative Festival and this is what I have to show for my 6 hours.

By no means do I have a finished top ready to sew and I still have to add a couple more rows to this quilt before I will have the size that I need. I was going through my stash of fabrics today and I think I may have found a couple of things that will work. I didn't have time to cut the half triangles so that very outer border fabric I just pinned so that you could see what it would look like. The column of diamonds that are next to it will all the way around the whole quilt as the diamond border followed by the striped fabric.

So the scoop on this workshop is if I had the magic crystal ball and could see what would transpire in the 6 hours I would not pay the $150 plus purchase the book and over 20 different fabrics.

I'm not sure where Kaffe is coming from, but he isn't a teacher. There was no discussion about how he develops his quilts, his use of colour, what works, what doesn't and there were no handouts. We were just let loose with our fabrics and told to put something together. He would come by every now and then and just say that something was either too light, too dark, the wrong size of print, or just didn't work and would go on to someone else. His assistant Brandon Malby was much more helpful in that he would at least show you some options of what might work in place of the things that Kaffe said didn't work. Eventually people got the idea of what didn't work because the same things would keep coming up and up. But there never really was a sense of what works and why it works.

Over the course of the 6 hours there were certain things that I picked up after hearing/seeing about either my quilt and/or other people’s quilts and they are:

- Stick either with lights, mid-tones or darks within the colour palette that you have selected, but don’t mix all of them together. Many of us ended up discarding our lightest fabrics.
- Even though we were using bold prints, you have to make sure that there is still enough variation between the types of bold prints. They shouldn't all look the same both from the type of print and the various colours/shades in each the fabric.
- When you pick your colour palette, you still need some other colour(s) at various points to give the design some punch. There were a couple of brown toned quilts that he made the people put some red fabrics into the mix, and one gal’s red quilt got a print that had red with lime green in it for punch. What ever your punch colour is, it also has to be a mid-tone if you are using mid-tones, dark if dark, or light if light.
- Be careful of the border fabrics so that they compliment the quilt and don’t look like a frame around the quilt
- Also when you have picked your colour palette make sure that all the fabrics are not “matchy matchy” to each other. So if you picked green, you have emerald green, and jade green and moss green and grass green etc. and that the prints do have other colours to add some interest.

For the last hour he did go around and critique all the quilt designs and it seemed that he liked what come out of every one's process. But again there didn't seem to be a lot of knowledge passed on as to why things worked, more like this goes well with that. But was it the colour of one fabric with the design of another, the intensity of the colours, the addition of other colours, a lot was just not very effectively communicated.

This will be packed away for the time being since I have several projects that are currently on the go and need to be finished up before the end of the year. I will resurrect this one sometime in the new year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Creative Festival - Maggie Vanderweit Workshop

Today I was at the Creative Festival for a workshop with Maggie Vanderweit called Painting with Threads. Below is my one and only piece that I was able to make in a 6 hour workshop. I really like the way it turned out. This particular piece is using a dissolvable stabilizer. I used Solvy, placing a layer of decorative yarns, ribbon, organza, etc. between sheets of the stabilizer and then hooping it and then free motion stitching it. I used a Sulky holographic thread in copper on the outer edge followed by various rayon threads and then finished it with the copper thread in the middle. Once you are done stitching the piece, you wash out the stabilizer and this is the finished result. I'm not sure what the next step will be for this piece, but I really like the end result.

Now you may wonder, did this really take me 6 hours to make. No, this piece took just over 2 hours to do. So what happened with the rest of the time. Maggie did a bit of talking and some demos throughout the 6 hours but unfortunately over half the class was having technically issues with the sewing machines that were provided by Pfaff including me. I wasted over 2 hours trying to sort through some nasty tension issues and this was with a brand new computerized machine. And if the machine wasn't having tension problems then it was breaking needles and thread at an alarming rate. There was a lot of frustration in the room, and several folks left a couple of hours before the end of the class.

This was my first time ever taking a class at the Creative Festival, and one of the selling features was not having to lug your sewing machine along with all your other supplies. Well this proved to be anything but a plus. I still have the Kaffe Fassett Workshop on Saturday but I have a funny feeling that this will be the first and last time that I will be taking anything at the Creative Festival. I will give you my final take on the festival after Saturday's workshop.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kaffe Fassett - part 1

First I hope for those who were celebrating holidays this past weekend (Thanksgiving in Canada and Columbus Day in the US) that everyone enjoyed themselves. I was up north with friends for our traditional turkey feast. It was wonderful. The weather was a bit cool, we did get some sun, but it also rained some and on Sunday it tried to snow but the ground was too warm so it melted as soon as it landed.

I was up around Horseshoe Valley area and the fall colours there were mostly yellows and oranges, not much red. What is actually interesting is that some of the best fall colours can be found right here in Toronto along the Don Valley. This is a picture from my balcony window over looking one of the ravines along the upper Don Valley and the colours are just starting.

Next Saturday is the Kaffe Fassett workshop and I knew that I had better get a good part of my diamond blocks cut out because this past week I was just starting to use my hand again and I knew that I couldn't go for an intense cutting spree at a workshop. I still don't have all my diamonds cut, but probably about 80 - 85% and that took a good 8 hours over the holiday weekend. Yes I took my fabric up with me. It's a good thing I did, because the workshop is only 6 hours, so there would be no way that I would get stuff completed at this rate.

Below are the diamonds that I have already cut out laid against 3 different backgrounds. One of the background fabrics will actually become a border of diamonds that will go all the way around the rows of each of the already cut diamonds. So the background fabric won't really be sashing between the various diamonds but will surround the diamonds as a border. The only reason I laid it out this way was because it was quick and easy and gave me an idea of what things might look like.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Update & Friday Block Party

I haven't done much quilting for the past 2 weeks. The previous week I was down to London Ont., to visit my mom and some of my friends so that weekend was shot in terms of sewing. This past Friday I had to go and get an injection for a trigger finger and I thought I would only be out of commission for 1 day like I was a couple of years ago. But the doctor gave me a different medication because the trigger finger returned and I'm out of commission for 1 week so not much sewing till the end of this week.

What I did do was start looking at all the Friday Block Party (FBP) blocks that I have and see what I could do with them. My 10" blocks (with the exception of one) are all done in a solid turquoise, a dark blue abstract peony flower pattern and a motley pink to turquoise batik. Below are 9 of the 10 blocks that I have in this combination of fabrics.

Donna who hosts the FBP has started to sew up some of her blocks and decided to make hers all a standard 14" by sewing sashing around each and then square them off. She is planning on then doing a quilt as you go quilt. I thought that this was a really good idea so I'm now looking to see what I have in sashing. I found a Kaufman Fusion fabric that I think will work for this set, but the picture below it came out a bit bright. Fergie was helping with the layout but I guess she had enough and decided it was time to wash her paws.

This is more the true colour of the fabric and it really sets off the blocks nicely. I tried lighter coloured fabrics and the blocks looked too washed out. I also tried a dark blue and it seemed too harsh. With these blocks I think I will take them to a 12" finished size.

I also have a bunch 12" blocks from the FBP but those are all various colours. I'm still looking at what would work for those. I tried some neutrals and they were OK. I might try a soft blue or soft aqua and see how that would look.

I also have some 8" and 9" blocks, but at this time those are going to remain my orphan blocks.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Christmas Quilts - Part 2

I've started work on the Christmas lap quilt that is a wedding present for a friend of mine who got married back in June. The wedding was announced quite quickly so there wasn't time to make a quilt then, so it became an IOU quilt and I let the bride and groom pick colour &/or theme and they decided on a Christmas quilt.

So yesterday I spent a good part of the day ironing fabric. I really wonder sometimes why I decided to take up quilting as a hobby when I really hate ironing as much as I do. I guess I'm a masochist of sorts.

Today I was cutting my fabric and I learned something new. The design of this quilt is on point which is fine when the design of the fabric is such that there is no specific direction to the prints as in the two blocks shown below.

But when you have directional prints as in the next two below, it becomes a whole other ball of wax when you go to cut the fabric, or you would end up with sideways trees and birds. I basically had to turn my fabrics on a 45 degree angle and cut the squares so that the trees and birds would be upright. So this will put a bias into the squares when I go to sew them. Fortunately all the fabric that I purchased was good quality quilting cotton and with all the weeks of practice on the Friday Block Party blocks I'm pretty confident that they will sew up without too much problem.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cats and Dogs - Part 6

Well here is the menagerie of cats and dogs with the exception of one set. One of the gals who lives just down the street from me was also madly sewing this weekend and just didn't have enough time to finish all of hers and asked if it would be OK if she could drop mine of later on. I said there would be no problem since I actually wouldn't be starting putting together this project until January so in fact she has lots of time. We have to have our quilts ready for our March meeting so plenty of time to finish. Check out the blue cat and dog in the middle row right side, they even have cute button embellishments.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cats and Dogs - Part 5

I got the last of the cats finished over the weekend and towards the end I was getting the hang of attaching their tails.

As I looked over all the cats and dogs I wasn't satisfied with a couple of them so I decided to make 2 more sets and then the gals can have some extra choice. If someone is picky in how a block is pieced then they won't have to settle for one that might be slightly off kilter because there are a couple extra. Here are the 2 extra sets.

It's going to be interesting to see what fabrics the other gals used for their cats and dogs.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cats and Dogs - Part 4

I've got 4 of the paper pieced cats done as of this evening, which leaves 4 more to go. So I'm on track for Monday. The trick with the cats is getting the tails lined up with the bodies. I had to re-sew two of the tails because they were wonky.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Art and Cold Cash - Part 3

It has taken some time but the quilting and machine embellishment on the Art and Cold Cash quilt is now finished. I just finished up the couching of some embellishment yarns today. Now what remains is the beading, hand embroidery and then the quilting of the final images in parts of the border.

Echo quilting was done in the large open background spaces as well as in the small red space in the upper left hand side of the quilt.

There is a profile of a boy on the left hand side and the image was emphasized with a teal chenille yarn that was couched along the edges of the outline of the profile.

A thicker teal nubby yarn was couched around the fish bone to give it dimension and below you can see it's detail as well as some of the echo quilting.

All of the English hand writing and Inuktitut syllabics were outline quilted in a combination of teal and scarlet thread. Since teal and scarlet variegated thread is hard to come by what I did was use a double thread (one spool of teal and one of scarlet) in the top of the machine and teal in the bobbin. I used a top stitching needle since it has a larger eye than a quilting needle for the two threads to freely feed through and had no problems with tension or pull. It worked out to have a nice effect and I may use this in the future when I can't find a variegated thread in a colour combination that I want. Below if you click on the picture you should be able to see the detail of the two colours of thread used in the quilting.

The hand embroidery will be of the four o'clock flowers that are in areas of the quilt that aren't already quilted with words. The flower seeds will be beaded with seed beads. These will be the next steps.