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 honesty...it'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 (um...in 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.

Monday 30 April 2018

Stichin' for Kitch'Inn

Sister PurpleBoots has moved. She isn't exactly really close by anymore yet she's not terribly far, far away either... she is in my "happy place" now, so I guess that makes it ok. She bought a historic home in Mahone Bay that had been operating as The Amber Rose Bed and Breakfast for some years and she's currently up to her ears in renovations bringing the place up to date.

Holy cow! So. Much. Work.  This place was lovely...in a sleeping-at-your-Nans-house sorta way... but it really needs to come into 2018 with the rest of us. Certainly Sister PurpleBoots has her work cut out for her but not to worry, she has an amazing eye for decor and a great sense of style. I can't wait to see it all decked out and dressed up in modern finishes with ample artwork and piles of kitch.

She asked me to stitch up some cushions and bed runners for each room. I've just completed the 3 runners and have started the pillows. I made improv slashed squares for the first one that graded from light to dark, left to right. I think it's about 25 by 85 inches.

Have you ever made these kind of blocks? I started with 7" grey squares and a pile of strips. I laid them all out and auditioned the colourful skinny strips before I started cutting and inserting them just to be sure that the placement of colours was happy-making. The block construction process looks like this:

Just remember that the pieces you put in first and eventually slice through again will be in the background and the ones you put in last will be on top, or in the foreground. I like to use a bit of Best Press when working on blocks like these because it keeps things nice and flat and helps to stabilize all the bias cuts.

Once you are happy you've got the patchwork "looking right" then you can square it up. In this case it was cut back into a 7" square. If you don't plan on putting in too many pieces or if you want to add skinny strips it might be wise to start with a block that's a couple inches larger than you're looking for in the end because as you cut and sew in the bits the block might get smaller... no seam allowances, right?! A couple of these in the lighter section were tricky and I was just able to squeak out the 7" finished square.

Remember how I mentioned I sometimes put up a table out in the landing to give me a bit more space to work? It works out there pretty well and sadly for those who have to share that space in the house with the quilter it's fast becoming part of the decor... as are the bits of fabric that get tossed around in my slicing and dicing fury! What's the big deal with a bit of cotton-y goodness mixed in with the roving dog hair anyway? With Mr. Recipes working in New Brunswick these days it's unlikely that anybody other than me will have to deal with sweeping it up. Not-So-Little PurpleBoots exclaimed one afternoon en route to his room that it looked like a fabric explosion had happened! Middle-of-the-night bathroom trips are a bit trickier to navigate with its residence there and often bits of trimmings can turn up in the bed having clung to my bed socks as I've walked by. What can I say? Makers gonna make. 

I quilted this one up using a pantograph called Chinese Crescents by Keryn Emmerson. I'm working on a couple cushions now... I have the patchwork done for the fronts and once they're quilted up I'll put envelope style backs on them and bind them to match. Funny thing about the pillows though... they don't put much of a dent in your scrap pile!

Sunday 15 April 2018

Fish Out of Water

Finishing up Klenk Junk was really the first big project I worked on in my new, too-small sewing space. I hadn't gotten many scrap-happy hours under my belt when it became very clear that the setup wasn't gonna work... I really missed having a cutting table in the room. Sure, putting up a temporary folding table out in the hallway worked, but only in a pain-in-the-ass sort of way...it wasn't a great solution at all. Problem is that the giant vintage butcher block that I absolutely adored simply does not fit in this wee house and sadly it has been relegated to work bench duty in the garage. What. A. Waste.  But in the spirit on moving onward and upward we won't dwell on that part... the Fatboy doesn't mind sharing his space with the beautiful hunk of furniture!

Anyway, a trip to Ikea and a mitt full of gifted Christmas cash solved my problems. Turns out their counter height desk not only fits the big cutting mat but is also high enough and wide enough to provide a hidey-hole hole for two rolling carts. Holy scrap taming possibilities, Batman! This setup rocks! The wheeled carts provide a bit more horizontal work space when and where you need them! My wee cutting mat sits atop one of them and often ends up beside me at the machine and allows my improv slicing & dicing to happen in a stationary spot; cutting to the left of me and pressing to the right.

Sorting the big piles of scrap proved to be an intriguing exercise for Mr. Recipes and he dove right in to help me sift the bits into the respective low volume, Kona and print drawers. It was while he was sorting that he found random bits that pleased his colour loving spirit and he went ahead and made himself a little pile of favourite scraps.  Once all the scraps were stuffed into their new quarters he presented me with his pile of scraps and said, "Make me something with these!" Of course I smiled and said, "Those? All of them? They don't really match...can I add anything to it?". His answer was simply, "I just like these. I'd rather you didn't. " I'm sure the look on my face was priceless and I know my brain kinda went, "hubba-wah?" but I just took the mish mash from him and put it in a bag, tucked it under The Robot and left it for another day. I was gonna have to chew on that for a bit. It wasn't long when a fire began to smoulder in my brain... that old familiar feeling of must-get-idea-out-now was burning in my brain and I set to work.

First a background. Then some stuff to make it a scene. A tree. Some landscaping. A fish.  Wait... a fish? Under the tree? Ok. Why not? Wait... maybe two fish.

And then the border.  The center scene was so busy. It needed something to frame it, to ground it; a spot for the eye to feel a bit of relief. In the pile there was a selvedge string of Essex linen and the frayed, soft edge really drew me in. So I rooted in the scrap drawer for more. There was just enough....like JUST enough. I even had to piece it to get enough length to allow me to mitre the corners. The fringed bit really worked for me... it lended a soft edge to the madness within.

And then I decided to make a scrappy checkerboard border to round out the piece and get in some more of the itty bitty, colourful pieces that Mr. Recipes picked out. So I cut and sewed. And then I cut and sewed some more. And then...you guessed it... I got bored. I hate repetitive sewing. That's when I started putting in some longer bits within the checkerboard. My 1" finished checkerboard border was thwarted by laziness... but, I liked it.

And then it was done. Well, almost.
I trimmed out a lot of the bulk from the back, all those layers of fabric under the appliques creates a lot of unnecessary thickness that sometimes makes quilting a bit tricky. It was after that task was done I decided it needed one more fish.

Some wild, super colourful backing fabric chosen by Mr. Recipes on a trip to Avonport Discount Fabrics, some quilting done at a MMQG sew-in and a black binding finished it up and framed it rather nicely. I got to hang Fish Out of Water in my hair shoppe and enjoy it for a few days before it went off to Fredericton to hang in Mr. Recipes office at Veterans Affairs. He gets lots of fun and interesting comments about the piece... folks seem to enjoy it a lot! Certainly while I had it in the shoppe with me it was QUITE a conversation piece...and really complemented my commissioned mermaid painting, by my very talented friend and local artist Sarah Irwin.

There is something about creating with wild abandon that moves me.
Tossing aside all the rules, forgetting all about the "should" and the "shouldn't", putting the "why not? " ahead of the "why?", and just going for it really, really makes my heart sing! Projects like this feed me...they remind me to push the boundaries, to step out, to keep dreaming, building and exploring.