Thursday 28 March 2019

Holy (S)Crap!

Life got busy and there was little time to build any mind blowing patchwork last year. The random moments that turn up here and there that allow time to sit and stitch mean I need to have a simple project that can be left "in progress" for an undetermined amount of time... a scrappy improv slab quilt was just the thing.

Scrappy slabs are easy to pick up and put down. The pieces are already cut and waiting to play in your scrap bin... maybe yours, like mine, is overflowing? In August of 2018, I sifted my bin and pulled out a whopping pile of wee bits in yellows, pinks, greens, oranges and corals. I threw in a few scraps of red & grey, a small dash of low volumes and, of course, a splash of purple went in as well for good measure.

I sewed and trimmed bits together as they came out of the pile... just mindless know, the best kind where you just blissfully work along with wild abandon. Sew, press, sew, press, trim, sew, press, trim, sew, get the drift. I did try to watch out for the directional ones and plant them upright for the most part... and I did fussy cut a few lil pieces that were too adorable not to include, even a few selvedge edges went in. After a while I had a stack of slabs in various sizes and decided to start making horizontal rows.

Things moved along rather nicely and as the blocks turned into rows the project picked up speed. I found myself carving out moments in my days to sew... 10 minutes here, half an hour there and before I knew it, there was a BIG flimsy growing in my mind's eye. I rarely make big quilts; I think the last bed sized quilt I made was my Gravity quilt that lives on our bed and that wasn't yesterday! Mister Recipes has been grumbling about a certain super cozy, grey blanket I happen to love on our bed... he hates the feel of it against his skin. He moans and groans about it almost daily and pesters me about switching it out for a stack of quilts instead.  Now, let me say I am absolutely unopposed to sleeping under a stack of quilts but I had 2 problems with his proposal. First, I love that offensive blanket; the softness against my skin is a welcome and pleasant sensation. Second, I don't own any more queen size quilts... I have some large(-ish) ones, but not exactly what I need size wise to fit the bed. This scrappy thing was the answer!

Like I said, I make rows horizontally. I start with similarly sized slabs, determine the target height and add bits or cut off bits as necessary to get them all to line up squarely. In this case I made 6 rows, none of them the same height; some were 22 3/4", some were 15 1/4" and the rest were somewhere between the two. It doesn't really matter as long as they are straight, flat, and in square. The width of the individual rows get cut when the rows are all sewn, this time, I used 95" as the number for every row. (If you Google a "scrap vortex quilt" you'll find a handy dandy tutorial that explains the process in a way that is fairly similar to how I did this.)

I made the flimsy to measure 95" by 94", which should fit nicely under the 98" square Gravity quilt. In keeping with the scrap taming and stash busting idea behind this one, I fashioned a back nearly as interesting as the front using chunks of leftovers, some coveted Cotton&Steel skull yardage and even a few extra slabs that didn't make it into the front.

Since I no longer have The Robot (and his new owner isn't quite ready to roll yet) I took it out to TLC Quilting Studio in Bedford to have it quilted. Bruce put a circle design over it with an orange thread. I've gotten it back... it is amazeballs!!  All the little bits offer so much to please my roving eyes; it is almost Eye Spy-like with so much to see. Now, to find a bit of time to bind it...

Monday 25 March 2019

March On

There are some seasons that seem to go on forever.... like Winter, for example... it seems to last a helluva lot longer than it needs to. I'm certain the calendar proclaimed this week that Spring has arrived, but the view out my back door still resembles Winter complete with snow and ice. Now that said, things are melting now and any rain that makes a respectable dent in the cold white stuff tends to end up trickling into my basement... so it's a bittersweet sorta time. Melting equates to mopping. Yay me.

So, according to the date of my last post, it's been a long while since I've written anything here... I tend to throw things on Instagram more and more but in doing so I have become a rather neglectful blogger. In my defense, I have been crazy busy with work and home and there's not a tonne of quilty stuff going on around here. A new baby springy thing came to live here in The High Tant back in November; our wee Ripley has been a constant source of joy & amusement... along with unending work, sleepless nights and cash depletion. Nothing chews up your mad money like a puppy....

I made a couple Christmassy quilts before the holidays... one for my Mum and one for the cupboard. Just simple patchwork, super quick and not fussy. When there's very little time a simple design is the difference between ending up with a UFO or a finish.

Patching quilts for Sister Purpleboots has been fun too! She's got a wee Jamaican rescue dog that's turned out to be a bit of a bedding nightmare and he continues to munch holes in her quilts. I had fun with the last repair... it was both a challenge and a delight.

I cut out the worst spots, and set in a patch that would look right on the back. I had to stack up a couple layers of batting to make the hole about the same thickness as her quilt and then I set out to make an improv slab from which I could cut a whale to appliqued over the hole. It worked out splendidly.... adorbs on every level.

Sister Purpleboots was pleased... the dog, not so much. Reports indicate that he has since chewed a hole in the whale. Silly dog.

Oh and I suppose I should share that The Robot has moved out and taken up residence with one of my nearby MMQG guildmates. Not only was that a huge decision to make, it was also a big job to dismantle & move him again. I will say that having done that less than a couple years ago made it a wee bit easier this go round. With The Robots glaring vacancy my sewing room now seems huge and I have my weekends back to myself... no more working 7 days a week or feeling like I have to.  I will certainly miss having the longarm at the ready, but all the time I spent quilting for others meant I didn't have time to sew for me anymore... I missed having time to play with fabric and build patchwork.

With life changes come life changes... the trick I guess is to know when change is necessary and make it. Change is often difficult... but we have to march on.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

November Already?

I don't know about you, but 2018 seems to be sailing by awfully fast! I can't believe it's practically mid-November...where the heck did all those pretty leaves go?  And, why is that Christmas thing all up in our faces already?

There were a few quilty finishes around here over the last while, like literally just a few... but these days any sewing time that happens is precious as the minutes are so rare.

Remember that Fish Taco I started? Well, the lil fella turned out to be a pillow for, you guessed it, Sister PurpleBoots. We had a bit of a birthday back in the summertime and I knew she'd love it!

You all know how much I love to add words to my projects, and well, fish tacos are MY favourite, so... I got out some tracing paper and my trusty pencil and got all set up to draw me some lettering. Sketching letters is fun, I really enjoy seeing the shapes of the letters emerg. I just keep moving and reinventing the lines til I get them right, letting the shapes morph into whatever it is they want to become...

In this case, I traced the shape of the fish and the edges of the background first so I would have a defined area to fill with letters, as I like the letters to fill up the whole space. Once the drawing is done, the letters get traced on to fusible webbing and then cut out & fused in place.  If you look carefully at the picture above, you'll see that I forgot to trace them in reverse the first time. In the spirit of's not the first time I've done that.  It made for a bit of confusion at cutting time when I had an abundance of overlapping lines, but I managed to keep my eyes from crossing and got the letters in place and stitched down nicely. Why I didn't use a different ink colour the second time is beyond me...?

With all the stitching done, I loaded it up on The Robot for some bubbly quilting and then it practically turned itself into a pillow. I can see why people like making cushions....they're quick and satisfying to make. 

Probably seems a bit late in the game to be sharing so many months later but this project needed a chance to show the world it's finished self. My guild had a UFO  Challenge in place this year, I didn't bother to sign up as I knew I wouldn't have time to accomplish a whole lot even thought I have quite a stack of unfinished objects in the sewing room laying in wait. And, although my own projects were not getting much attention,  I did employ the help of The Robot to work away many weekends quilting UFO's for a few of my guild mates. 

Sunday 13 May 2018

The Blue Room

 It's funny how we give things nicknames. Each room at the Inn has gotten a call name... the Purple Room, the Taco Room, the Blue Room... even though they're all painted white.  The last bit of stuff I made for Sister PurpleBoots was for the Blue Room.

I've have been hanging onto this octopus fabric from Cotton & Steel for quite a while, I picked up a couple of meters of it on a trip to the Lunenburg Makery more because I loved it than because I had any plan for it. Come to think of it that's how most of my stash has been accumulated... see-it-love-it-buy-it. Sister PurpleBoots loved it too and asked if it could be used for her Inn projects.  She has this super cool leather daybed that's a similar blue to put in the third bedroom and it seemed to me that the fabric would be an ideal candidate for some kitch so I reluctantly agreed to cut into it.  I'm sure that I'm not the only hoarder of cotton that feels a bit of a pang when the blade hits a long-loved hunk of cloth. It seems ridiculous, after all that's why we buy the stuff, but there's something kinda sad about letting go... it's like saying so long to an old friend.

Anyway, the fabric pull for this room was based around those cute sea critters. I really wanted to showcase the fabric so I decided to keep the patchwork pretty simple for this one.  I cut charm squares that blended nicely with a Free Spirit print that couldn't decide if it was a stripe or a border print. Had the yardage been printed with the design running the length of the bolt it would have been a fabulous border print but instead the designer ran it across the width of the yardage and so, stripe it is.

I pieced the back too of course...all these bed runners are essentially reversible. I like to peek at the back of things on the frame as The Robot works his magic just to make sure things are going along properly... and it occurred to me that that's a view you guys seldom see so I snapped a photo to share with you. (I know... exciting, eh? Try not to wet your pants!) The Robot did a beautiful job stitching out a design called Marmalade on this runner. Simple patchwork calls for beautiful quilting!

As for pillows, more octopus fabric!  All these little 3" triangles are more of a nuisance to cut than they are to sew so this pillow definitely took some time.  Voodoo Duck was happy at last to be part of the fun... with so much improv on the go here lately there hasn't been much demand for his services.  I ran the quilting lines on the same angles as the triangle patchwork which made for some groovy diamond shapes in the top part.

I'm glad to have some scraps left from this project...not sure what they'll work into or when they'll surface in my work again, but I do know that seeing a few bits in my scrap bin makes me feel better about setting those octopuses loose!

Sunday 6 May 2018

For The Love of Tacos

It's no secret. I love tacos. I do... but not nearly as much as Sister PurpleBoots does. She lovesLovesLOVES  tacos.  So when I saw this fabric at Patch down on Robie Street I knew she'd lose her ever loving mind over it and that it would make for some bitchin' stichin' for kitch'inn. Without any plan in place I got a big hunk of it and pulled some bits from my stash that would jive with it.

Like a lot of folks I spend  a lot of  a bit of time each day scrolling thru my Instagram feed where shots of the "2 by 4 quilt" by Film in The Fridge had been popping up occasionally. Well, with every picture the design grew on me and needless to say I just had give it a whirl. A bed runner for kitch'inn seemed like a perfect test run for the pattern. You all know by now that I'm not over the moon about repetitive sewing so I wasn't sure about this block. It's simple, so-so-simple, and I worried it would be monotonous to sew too many of them. I'll admit it's not at all a challenging block and they weren't really all that interesting to build, but they shine because they're simply clean, balanced blocks that have the capacity to show off some fabric and in the end that's what makes these quilts great! It's a place to use random bits and put into action all those super fun fat quarters that get passed over because they're just too much.  I'll absolutely visit this pattern again... just as soon as time permits ( 2024 potentially?) I am totally gonna make a giant 2 by 4 quilt. Look out fat quarter stash.... you're going down!

Anyway...the blocks sewed up quickly and there is very little waste from a FQ...and each pair of FQ's will get you 6 blocks.  Yes. You read that right. 6 blocks.
In minutes.  I. Kid. You. Not.

And then there were pillows. Super fun taco pillows!

First, I had something to say. Free pieced letters are my favourite!  I love making the quilts speak! This fella is a big pillow,  it'll finish at 25" when I get off my butt and finish it up. I finished up 5 pillows yesterday; a sewing marathon made possible by the bloody plague that kept me locked up in the house all weekend. (Ugh... I really hate being sick!)

I haven't made bargello loveliness for a long long time. Decades maybe...? But I had some strips left from the blocks and somehow I had a random thought....hey, they'd make a cool bargello. So I did that.  I made a scrappy panel and put that taco print down each side. Straight line quilting and bam! Pillow done! 

Then, with the chunk I had cut off the bottom of it I had another thought.  It was one of my brain-on-fire moments; those must-get-that-idea-out-now moments are the best. I don't know why I saw a fish in that scrap of bargello....maybe it resembled scales...but I knew it needed to be a fish. A fish taco to be exact, which happens to be my favourite sort of taco. I played with free pieced fishes a while ago but they weren't this big or this complex. And, they didn't have curves.

Curves aren't scary, especially if they're gentle curves that are essentially their own bosses.  These curves didn't have to answer to anybody and they didn't really have to play nicely and be all matchy matchy with other curves. These curves just swam in and did their own thing. That's how free piecing works. You get to decide where to cut and how to put things together. If you can imagine it, you can build it. I haven't finished it yet...I'm still chewing on the possibility of adding words to the block. I also haven't decided if I'm going to give it a room at the Inn. It may need to live here... at least for a while anyway. 

So, Sister PurpleBoots loves tacos. 
I loveLoveLOVE free piecing.