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 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 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 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 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.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

About That Junk...

Remember back a long, long time ago I started playing around with a pile of  destashed "junk" that I picked up from Adrienne over at Seam Work? (**She moved her old blog, Chezzetcook Modern Quilts, to the new site which reflects her new biz!) I free pieced a center panel and then sent it along with the bag of junk out into the big, wide world for additions by Anja and Adrienne herself. You can read all about the beginnings of the project here in this old post. Eventually, in the latter part of 2017, it came home to roost and one day, out of the blue, I decided to haul it out and finish it. I set the end of 2017 as my personal deadline for its completion, because sometimes you just have to draw a line in the sand, right?

I sewed up slabs using all the bits and pieces in the bag...everything that was there went into the flimsy. I held nothing back. I gave no regard to print or pattern, did not discriminate between the shapes or sizes... I simply sewed. Blissful, mindless sewing.

All. The. Junk.
All. The. Colours.

There were JUST enough larger pieces to build a back... and a scrappy binding. Remember I mentioned my new sewing space is once again on the small side? Well, it's a good thing there's a bit of room on the landing because occasionally things sorta sprawl out there when more space is necessary... it's not an ideal setup but it works in a pinch!

I really love this quilt: it was a super-fun challenge, it's full of scrappy, wonky goodness, it cost next to nothing to build, it fits perfectly on my couch but mostly, it reminds me of my pal! :)