Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014 Quilting Goals

I like the idea of setting goals for yourself. I apply it to other parts of my life and it has helped me focus on the tasks needed to achieve my goals.

I am hoping it will make a difference with my quilting as well.  After working for many years in large organizations and getting bogged down with small p politics and bureaucracy, I now find myself craving a creative outlet, one where I can develop my creative side and also leave a lasting caring legacy.  So here it is, my goal for 2014:

1. 30 quilts for kids.  I have decided to quilt 30 quilts for kids over the next three years (10 per year). This is a project that I want to complete for two reasons. The first is to give something of myself to others. The second, is to hone my quilting skills.  

2.  DONE Sandwich and Quilt (s&q) my step dad's memory quilt. Done

3.  DONE Make a rag quilt that I promised my son in law for his birthday. 

4.  DONE Make a quilt for my sister in law. 

5.  Design a series of modern design quilt sketches representing work and emotions at work.

6.  DONE S&Q quilts for Kasey and Rylee, two little preemies born April 14 and just now able to go home.  Rylee

7.  DONE Make lap quilt for mom.  Done

8.  DONE Set up this blog and 

9.  Blog weekly. 

Wow, that's quite ambitious.  Let's see how I do!  


Ben's Rag quilt

Remember that baby rag quilt and my promise to make my son-in-law a similar one for his birthday... Well his birthday was in March.  I finally finished it in June ( post note...I finally sent it to him in July!).  

I had trouble finding the colour flannel (green) that he wanted and so bought a whole bunch of green flannels and flannelette fabrics trying to find that right look.  It was not until I went to the local quilt show that I found just the right selection of greens and browns.  I cut the fabric into 8" squares and used a high loft poly batting. The top is made out of greens and browns while the backing is different shades of brown.  The quilt measures 44 x 52, a little smaller than I wanted but I ran out of material so it will have to do. I think it has a real masculine look to it. It's a bit stiff right now but I am hoping that with a few more washings and clippings it will turn out to be the rag quilt he wanted.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Little green test piece done on the Avante

I decided to give the Avante a run for its money and see what I could do with no previous practice or training...except for looking at lots of examples on Pinterest and watching my favorite artists on the many Craftsy courses I have purchased (and recommend)!  Here is my first attempt.  Such fun!!!

Feathers and back tracking need lots of work but I am happy.  


I have never made a chevron quilt before and am am amazed how beautiful they can be.  My process went like this: I was playing with 1/2 square triangles putting them in various configurations on my makeshift design wall.  ( not the greatest pictures )

I was amazed at all the possible looks and variations but settled on a chevron pattern as Chevrons are striking and allow for a diversity of quilting in the white spaces.  I use "paper" (by 53) or SketchbookPro for quick sketching and practicing my longarm quilting motions (similar but easier than an Etch A Sketch!) and I can store them easier than paper. 

I used a green Minky backing and Marcia Derse's Mosaic 10" squares (Windham) for the top (cotton fabric). 

I free motion quilted it on my non-stitch regulated Sweet16 that I am able to move to this great 6 foot ArtQuilter frame I bought from Martha ( in 2011. It's a great frame and it's portable.  Takes less than a half hour to set it up on any six foot table.  Great for art or baby quilts.  But, it's not big enough for stuff I want to do three years later.  Should have bought the bigger one!

In the white spaces the design is a loose flower motif at each point and straight lines in between.  On the chevron itself I chose to use a meandering stipple.  I was traveling way too fast for the speed of my needle and although the stitches are pretty regular I found a few eyelashes on the rounded corners.....lesson learned :-).  

  I think it turned out quite nice! 

Preemie quilts

My friend Jan's nephew and wife had twin girls April 14.  They were premature, born I believe at about 26" weeks.  They were so tiny!!! 

Jan asked if I ever made quilts for other people.....mmm...not really but I wanted to. I  decided to make the two quilts for the little girls.  Jan was good enough to let me design them myself. I mulled around some ideas and came up with this idea: Night and Day quilts - giving them each a different personality.  (Note- I just about got the names wrong!)

With twin cats on the back. 

Without any pattern or any real clue how to do impromptu quilts I just jumped in and started cutting material.  The two are similar and yet very different. Most of the material was from my stash.  

Now it's time to quilt them..  I have plans for the Night quilt with swirling wind  (the grey squiggles) and moon glow.  

I read somewhere that you should listen to your quilts to determine the quilting style and motifs.  Well, the Night quilt spoke loudly to me but the Day quilt mumbled... Still working on the design.    

 I will post pictures once they are done.

July 7:  While I think I have some tweaking to do on the night quilt it is starting to come together nicely. I have been machine quilting it in manual mode (not stitch regulated). Biggest learning: I have learned that I need to slow the motion of the machine head down or speed up the needle to get a better length of stitch.  Some of these are way too long.   Here are the pictures (photos are not the best) so far:


My new toy

I splurged and bought a HQ Avante 18.  I am so excited!  Yep that's me.  Silly grin and all.  Now I just have make sure it pays for itself!

My step-dad's Alzheimer's and a memory quilt

My step dad has Alzheimer's.  Because he has been a wonderful and supportive Dad to me I wanted to give him something to help him remember his life.  I didn't want to make a photo memory quilt so combined a wonky star with embroidered word describing his life and family members. I did this pre design in Paper from  

 I started with a beautiful set of wonky stars. Subtle but fun.  

I wanted to make the whole quilt in these colours but once again I ran out of material and since I live 200 km from the nearest fabric shop I had to improvise.  I added white sashing with embroidered words and partial borders with left over pieces.  

I love the look.  

Now that the top is done all I have to do is to quilt it.  My idea is to do the following around the wonky star square.  

Not sure about how to handle the smashing that has the embroidered words.  Perhaps circles, wandering stitches, or geometric shapes? Any thoughts? Because I want the quilting to pop I plan to use wool batting and poly thread to quilt it.

We will see how it all pans out.  For the moment it sits.  His birthday is in August so I have some time, albeit not much! All I need is to have a frame for my sweet sixteen or a larger unit. 

Things were about to get better!!!

I give in...I need to learn the basics of quilt making

Another grand-baby on the way, my step dad's Alzheimer's, and the death of my daughter's mother-in-law to pancreatic cancer stirred in me the desire to be creative and to leave a tangible legacy.  

My love of fabric, sewing, and quilting bubbled to the surface.  But how to begin?  I had purchased a Craftsy class a couple years ago and gave it up due to lack of time and my dislike of structure.  But I decided to check to see if I still had access to it.  

I finally realized that I did need the technical skills required to make beautiful traditional quilts to gain the freedom to make modern quilts. So back to Craftsy, I really didn't believe that a course purchased about three years ago would be waiting for me when I tried to access it. But there it was!  OMG, I love Craftsy!

Since that moment in early 2014 I have gone crazy trying to learn everything I could about quilting.  I won't tell you how many classes I have purchased and watched... Suffice to say I should be classified as a co-owner in Craftsy.   

The first class introduced me to the disappearing 9 patch which I decided to give a try with a small project. It grew...and grew until it was ALMOST queen size.  But I ran out of material!  Ahhhhhh!  So I improvised and although the top is not perfect it is pretty enough to put on my spare bed once it is quilted. (Since I originally posted this I finished quilting it - I think it looks pretty good).  

When my daughter found out that the new baby was going to be a boy and I decided to make a little boy's rag quilt instead of the traditional baby quilt. My thought was that it should be rugged enough that in a year he could haul it around the yard, through the mud if he wanted, and mom could just toss it in the wash.  I made it with bright but non-traditional flannels from  It fits the crib and yet is big and soft enough for a little fellow to enjoy.  

Only one my son-in-law wants one of his own. So that's now on my list for his birthday and of course I had to make a matching small quilt for Scarlet's doll with the left overs.  

Let me start with this - Really early quilts

Well I have wanted to get this started for a long time now,  so here goes.

I have only been quilting for three years and two of those I did not quilt. But I am no newcomer to the sewing machine as I have been sewing since I bought my first real machine when I was seventeen.  I caught the sewing bug using my mom's gorgeous wood treadle machine. From that point I was never far from my machine as I sewed dresses, suits, underwear, and lounge wear.  I sewed most of my wedding party's dresses and my own wedding dress. When my daughter was born I loved sewing mix and match outfits for her, that was until she decided she wanted designer clothes.  

Twenty years later I found myself waiting while my daughter went through a long labor and a few days in hospital. I really needed something to keep me busy ...why not make a little quilt?  So off I went to the local fabric shop.  Over the next 24 hours I made a beautiful little red comforter with fun bug print flannel backing for Scarlet Grey and promptly caught the quilting bug.  

I had no experience with quilts and so went to the neighbourhood quilt shop where I took a basic quilting course and learned about 1/4 inch seams and basic patterns.  My first quilt was a beautiful but simple quilt for my 80 year young mom with our names and birth years, the four generations, embroidered on the pillow corners. Everyone thought I was crazy for using a muted colour scheme, but it matches her room, she loves it, and that is what really matters.

I experimented on my own, making a couple simple and bright quilts for my granddaughter Sam and for Scarlet, even free motion quilting the tops.

Although I took a couple more classes I just could not get interested enough to make flying geese or other traditional quilts I fell in love with fabric dying and printing and modern quilt ideas.
A fun wall hanging I did in 2011 was made with dyed cotton fabric and a fun shaving cream and drizzle dying process. It measures approx 13 x 48.  The process is more suited for kids but I fell in love with the delicate images that emerged from the shaving cream. And, it fits right in with my d├ęcor!

I love the rich pink colour contrasted against the delicate shaving cream designs.  
Later that year I discovered that I could manipulate photographs and print them on fabric using my home printer.  I took pictures of our backyard trees and produced a wall hanging called Pinwheel Trees - approx 36 x 50" cotton, beads and embellished with leaves.

The project is not complete yet but I will post a picture when it is done.  
I took a class on making kaleidoscope quilts. Each student got to choose a fabric that was available.  I chose last and  got a funky pink material.  I decided to give it a try and to give the finished quilt to my sister-in-law. part way through the piecing my sister-in-law told me she changed the colours in her bedroom to muted greens and taupe and my granddaughter Sam's room just wouldn't "do" the pink thing.  mmmmm...  so it sits, unfinished for the moment.  Fun none-the-less!

I did a couple other projects like my first rag quilt (below) that I embroidered all the names of pets we have had over the course of our marriage on one side and a free motioned doodle on the other.  

I did a couple other small quilts like a free motion sampler quilt, a photo quilt, and a doll quilt that were great to do but not great enough to show.  I finished 9 quilts and started another four.  In all it was an exciting quilting year. 

And then life interrupted and now it is 2014.