Sunday, 28 December 2014

Swiss Cross Block Pattern

Here is the Swiss Cross block outlined step by step, a gift to my fellow quilters.  I had hoped to have it ready to post on Christmas Day but here it is all the same...  I did make a slight revision to the original pattern I posted earlier when I realized that the red cross was made up of only three pieces, instead of the 5 originally noted.

Swiss Cross Block Pattern - finished size 15" square

Step 1:

Cut the following...
for this pattern I am using red and cream but any colour combination is possible

Fabric A (red)

1 @ 3 1/2 x 9 1/2"
2 @ 3 1/2 x 3 1/2"

Fabric B and C (two shades of cream)

Cut for EACH fabric:
2 @ 2 x 3 1/2"
4 @ 2 x 6 1/2"
2 @ 2 x 15 1/2"

You will end up with the following cream (or equivalent) pieces in total:
4 @ 2 x 3 1/2"
8 @ 2 x 6 1/2"
4 @ 2 x 15 1/2"

Arrange pieces

Step 2:

Sew 2" strips together as shown

Step 3:

Continue to sew sections together, making sure to lay them out if you are wanting a specific repeat in the background

Step 4:


Turned so the strips are horizontal

Two blocks done !

Please let me know what you come up with :) and send me your pictures.  This pattern is simple, good for beginner and experienced sewers alike.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !

Monday, 22 December 2014

Do You Want to Quilt a Frozen? ... or two

You may have heard about this movie Disney recently released... Frozen.  Honestly unless you have been living under a rock, or holed up in your house, you have happened across the Frozen Phenomenon.  My children are too old to be really interested in it, but even my son has taken to singing Olaf's words of snow in summer, again and again and again.

So did I think I would avoid getting on this particular icy bandwagon?  I confess I did, more fool me. Recently a friend contacted me to long arm a Frozen quilt for her, in fact two, one for each of her granddaughters.  My first thought was oh great, as I believed myself above the commercialism of Disney. Wrong again !

I googled the pattern to see what I was in for.  It seemed pleasing enough however I could not find any detailed pictures to show the quilting to give me a clue of where to go.  Luckily my daughter showed me a few clips of the movie and a video of the song Let It Go and we were off.

I made a swirly wind pattern for the border, a regular repeat of the same for the inner borders, tiny swirls for around the snowflakes... the fabric is encrusted with glitter so I was keen to avoid trying to quilt over that.  I added the words Frozen, Do You Want to Build a Snowman?, Let It Go... Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, Sven and Hans (at my friend's request), all in the inner blue borders.  Finally I silhouetted the panel in the middle with various patterns, avoiding the faces as I had avoided the snowflakes.  Quilting faces can be a dangerous territory, either working well enough or going horribly wrong.  Luckily my friend was in agreement on this and I quilted as close as I could get without entering the facial danger zone.

This turned out to be WAY more fun than I thought it would be, even to do it twice.

I had looked up the song Do You Want To Build A Snowman? a sad but catchy little song and I found myself humming it over and over (not unlike my son) as I quilted.  This quilt had all the hints I needed in the fabric and in the songs, I only had to open up my imagination to let everything play together.

I hope that the girls who receive these lovely quilts from their Grandma feel the whimsy and happiness I felt quilting them.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

First Aid Cross Block

I made a visit to the church whose red front doors inspired me to make my church door quilt... St. John's Anglican Church in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada.  I was given a tour and saw the gorgeous interior, the breathtaking stained glass windows and the beautiful carved wood beams.  It was heaven ;)

As I looked around absorbing the multitude of patterns, motifs and designs I spotted an old first aid cross flag, it drew me across the church immediately. I think it dated from 1932.  It is made of linen.  I fell in love with the construction they used in making the cross, strips instead of square pieces.  I was entranced...  you could even see the hand stitched repairs from where holes had been made, maybe in nailing the flag up somewhere as they were in each corner.  What history this flag must know... (I have an Honours History degree from Laurier, you can NEVER take the historian away from the history).

I quickly jotted it down in my notebook and I worked a block pattern up this morning from my hastily scribbled notes, complete with red crayon to colour with :) honestly who does not love colouring with crayons !

I am going to make candle mats for my family in this pattern (for Christmas... using what I already have) but of course it could be worked up into a table runner or a full size quilt.  This block measures 15 1/2" unfinished.

I need to get back in that church and get a photo of the original flag to post it here :)

Step One: Draft pattern from scribbled notebook

Step Two: cut out fabrics and audition on design wall

Step Three: the completed block

Monday, 17 November 2014

OH that IKEA !

Sometimes I am asked where my inspiration comes from... OK maybe I ask myself when I am pretending to be interviewed for a feature in a quilt magazine, don't crush a girl's dreams...  but it is a good question. Where does inspiration come from?  Can you make it happen?

I think you find inspiration by being curious.  You cannot demand it to appear, as people do with things like respect... you must respect me !  OK, good luck with that.  Same with inspiration. Inspiration appear ! Nope. Nothing.

The curious mind finds inspiration when she least expects it.  Or when she has just had a lovely $1 breakfast at IKEA with her sister and niece.

This is what struck me last time...

My VINTERFINT mug... ooooo la la and made in France no less !

I think IKEA designers are amazing... the things they come up with to fill our lives with wonderful designs to please the eye.  VINTERFINT is their Christmas/Winter line this year and it is a treat.  I highly recommend a morning visit to your local IKEA to have a $1 breakfast and then peruse the wares.  This is not to say that IKEA is forcing me to endorse their store... they have no idea who I am... yet :P

To my eye this mug is a quilting design waiting to be let free from glass.

This is what I have come up with so far... I am calling it FLEGG... combination of flower and egg.  If IKEA designers can have fun making up names that we have to say when ordering their creations, then so can I.  "I would like my quilt done in an allover FLEGG design please."

The amazing thing is this is only one possible design.  I am doodling endless other options.

FLEGG practice number 1

FLEGG on the other side...

Keep your eyes, mind and heart open.  Inspiration is everywhere waiting for you to slow down and pay attention long enough to notice !

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection... my quilt not a Lexus

Here, finally, after much wiffle waffling over photos is my church door quilt...

I have nearly done myself in worrying about getting the perfect picture of this quilt.

I started with this...

but felt it was ho hum...

I even tried photos in the evening light to show the quilting detail like this...

and this...

Nothing was good enough.  Nothing showed just how lovely it was in person.

That is until a friend reminded me that when you go to see say a Van Gogh (who I love) you are bowled over by the magic of being in the presence of his art.  You are so excited to hold the image in your mind's eye that you make a stop at the museum store to buy a print.  As wonderful as that print or t-shirt or mug might be, it cannot compare to the original and here is the key  - it is NOT supposed to.

Now before you roll your eyes and say oh please here she is comparing herself to Van Gogh now... that is not my intention, though granted we are both slightly unstable redheads.  What I learned is as much as I love to share what I make, the pictures I take will never be perfect.  If I wait for them to be, it is as good as waiting for a brand new Lexus to show up in my driveway (though really I would rather have a Mini or a Fiat but they do not fit with the title of this post).

So here it is.  Since I moved to Ancaster 17 years ago I often said the doors of a local church (St. John's Anglican) would make a stunning quilt.  Well I finally did it and it only took me twice as long to post these pictures as it took me to make it.

Problem now being I stop at every local church to take pictures of the doors, and walls and windows in search of my next inspiration.  Please do not beep at me as you pass, I will jump, my photo ruined and may fall backward down the steps and injure myself in front of the church in question. Most unseemly.

and one more just in case

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Does it taste delicious?

This is Tomtom, the first tomato harvested this summer.  For some reason as he grew a lovely yellow flower showed up.  I took a picture before he became part of a toasted tomato and cheese sandwich.  Quite delicious !

I kept this picture in my studio (once was my living room) for a few months.  It reminded me that beauty is everywhere, even in something as ordinary as a tomato.

One day, I think it was the day after Thanksgiving, I was cleaning my studio and found two red offcuts from my church door quilt.  Not being one who wastes fabric, I could see where this might lead.  I sewed the two pieces together.  Then I made it round... sewed strips of grey for the background, found a yellow and a green that agreed and as I played, this came about.

I put it on the longarm and with some lavender (in the grey) and red (in the red) and black (for details including the year in the right hand corner), it was complete.

I absolutely love it.  My tribute to Tomtom, the First Summer Tomato.  It reminded me of a blog post I read recently (Sarah Selecky - I recommend her to anyone who loves to write) in which she recommends AFNR, Art For No Reason... I have modified this to AFAR - Art For Any Reason :)

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Thanksgiving... here in Canada

Hi :)

Quick post... I wanted to show my Aunt's Angry Rooster wallhanging.  I just finished quilting it to give to her tomorrow at Thanksgiving supper, to which she brings her fabulous sweet potato puree.

My Aunt Jackie is in her 70s and still loves to do handwork like applique. However she never signs her work !  Many times I have reminded her to sign everything, but she never does and tends to diminish her talent as many of us do.  We are all Artists, Quilt Artists, Fibre Artists, Sewists... whatever you want to call yourself... but all Artists (with a capital A).  I added my Aunt's initials JBDS and the year to the quilting as you can see in one of the close up pictures.

The binding is ready for hand finishing... which I know my Aunt enjoys doing, otherwise I would have machine finished him for her.

Meet Rad Rooster... in all his angry glory.  Not a turkey but a rooster with attitude.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving... I am grateful that I have eyes and hands that allow me to do the work I love.

Blessings to you all,

Friday, 10 October 2014

I, for one, was totally surprised...

I have been living in Ancaster about 17 years now... and we have a fall fair each year. Unlike every other of the last 16 years, this year I decided to actually enter a quilt.  It is one of those things that I say and say and say I'll do but so seldom actually do, at least that has been the way up until now.  No more I decided, words are fine, but action is required !  To enforce my new proclamation I entered two quilts.  I know, I know, I can't be stopped once I get going.

The quilts I entered were perhaps, perchance, shall we say... less than traditional.  My logic here was that if they did not win that was down to the fact that they were not regular quilts.  This of course assumed that the judges would follow a traditional path (not of course that there is ANYTHING wrong with traditional).  I may have mentioned previously that I tend to make misjudgments, this is another such case.

I dropped off the quilts and tried not to think any more about it.  You may imagine my delighted surprise (really I think I may have squealed, ok... shrieked) when my daughter let me know that both my quilts had won a prize. I had a first and a second in the categories I entered.  She had photos to show me in case I did not believe her.  How well does my child know her Mum !

Here are the quilts with their pretty ribbons.  Both have been posted on my blog before but of course they deserve a second shot at fame.

Honestly I was really surprised I won. I was thrilled and touched, but most of all I was humbled... that I think so little of my abilities and so little of those who were the ones to judge them.

 p.s. Stay tuned for my next blog post, it is what I have been working on like a mad hermit for the last two weeks or so...

Thursday, 18 September 2014

How do you know it is Fall ?

I know because I pick up my crochet hook again... yarns in bowls and baskets and on tables and chairs... and I am continually trying to remember where I left my crochet hook, luckily I have a pottery mug full of spares.

This week I was asked to make a couple of crocheted items.  As soon as I could get myself to the yarn shop, I did.  I spent a few hours blissed out among the baskets and baskets of yarn.  "This could go with this or that and then you could add this and oooo look at this one."  Now before you ask who went with me, I went with myself.  I was muttering like a mad woman, crooning over my cart of yarns.  There were at least a few other people there doing the same, at least I prefer to think of it that way.

I picked up Bernat Blanket yarn to make this:

And some more Bernat (Supervalue and Premium) to make this:

Crocheted pumpkins are my kryptonite. I am powerless to do anything but make more and more and more of them.  Big, medium, small, solid orange, variegated, white, grey even.

These are the ones I made a few years ago for our Thanksgiving table at my sister's house, so you can get an idea of their tremendous potential !  But be forewarned, these lovely wee things can lead to disputes over who gets which one, or ones.  We did have to regularly venture into my niece Ella's room to reclaim those she had decided were hers, which was nearly all of them.

But enough of my chatter, I have things to do, things to do... I am coming my pumpykins, I am coming...

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Curious Case of the Happy Brownie

Ahhh brownies... that is what this quilt top reminds me of...Brownies.  Not the fudgy, chocolatey kind.  No my friend, more along the lines of twit-a-wit-a-woo.  Those words send shivers down my spine.

"Oh no, not Brownies, not Brownies again.  Can't I just stay home and watch TV?"  My pleas fell on deaf ears, after all my Mum was the Brown Owl.

Brownies was wearing a scratchy unflattering brown polyester dress with heavy black lace up shoes. Brownies was pretending I was outgoing, pretending I cared to fit in.  Brownies was about team work and conformity.  Brownies was sitting on the hard wood floor of a gymnasium, legs stretched out to meet those of another across from you, all of us spread out in a long line. Other Brownies ran across our outstretched legs as fast as they could trying to step in the spaces between. Brownies was cringing and bracing for the crush of a solid black laced shoe on my skinny, bruised legs.

One day I met a lady, I will call her Dilly.  She was funny, irreverent and full of mischief.  I should have known.  As we talked somehow the topic turned to Brownies.  She ADORED being a Brownie.  She recalled those meetings with something close to joy.  Her eyes sparkled with memories.

However for me the pain of being a Brownie never went away.  I could not find anyway to face this trauma but to make a quilt about it.  This is my quilt design.  It is called the Curious Case of the Happy Brownie.  To remind me that while I suffered in my Brownie Pack, there were some who found happiness there, bizarre as that may seem to me.

If not for meeting Dilly and our chance conversation about Brownies, I would never have made peace with my Brownie self.


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

I wish I had met Eleanor Roosevelt

First time I heard of Eleanor Roosevelt was when I was pregnant with my son, Blake.  My doctor was advising that I would likely be having a caesarian with my second child, having had one with my first... dear Alicia (fondly known as Lou to me) had arrived at 10 lbs. 1 1/2 ozs. a few years earlier.  I recall asking him what the dangers were in having a second caesarian.  He simply said, well Eleanor Roosevelt had 4 so I think you should be fine.  I remember thinking... what did Eleanor Roosevelt possibly have to do with me?

Many years later I was reading quotes as I love to do (apparently a trait I shared with my Grandma Jessie) and found a few from Eleanor Roosevelt.  All of them spoke to me.  I had to know more about her and when next at the library I took out a book of her writings as well as a short biography.

Now the next logical step in my mind, after reading so many of her inspiring words, was how to devote an entire quilt to her?  I had already put one short quote in my Cream and Razors but I wanted more.

I decided simple was best, and fastest.  I had some wonderful radish fabric that I had no idea what to do with and it let me know that it had been waiting for Eleanor.  Once I had the top pieced, it gave me a chance to practice my border skills on a small scale, my first intention was to stitch Eleanor's words into the quilt top directly.  I tried this but I was not satisfied by three lines in.  Three lines which I then had to pick out, sometimes I am that fussy.  I finally decided to write the lines in fabric pen, and quilt all around them.

This is how it turned out.  Eleanor hangs in my front hall.  Her words written on my heart.

Friday, 29 August 2014

I did it... I tried the Disappearing Hourglass...

...and I am addicted.

I confess I can be a quilt snob at times.  My friend Leslie showed me this block which she had taught to her mother-in-law.  At first I may, perhaps, have rolled my eyes a teensy bit.  Terrible to admit but I fall into this superiority trap from time to time. Since then I have had to admit I might have been wrong, it has been known to happen, let us not get into numbers on that.

So... one day while Leslie was on vacation, I went over for a sewing day.  Given that I am spending a lot of time on other people's quilts I decided to do something for me.  I had some white cotton and a few pretty floral fat quarters and I thought I'd give this Disappearing Hourglass a try.  Purely to see what all the fuss was about you understand :P

Well once I had done one, there was no stopping.  It is completely addictive.  (hmm I recall saying this about the Union Jack block... good thing my addiction is limited to fabric !)

These are the blocks I have so far.  They are my treat after a day of work on my fledgling business.  I listen to a podcast, from CBC or BBC, and sew and cut and sew and cut and sew again.  This block never fails to delight.

If you haven't already, give it a try.  I am certain you will not be disappointed :)  And let me know if it has the same effect on you !

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

You cannot help but smile...

This is a picture of the latest quilt made for a friend, well actually for her daughter, Lily.  We started with the colours pink and orange and this is what it grew into.  There is no way you can work on a quilt in these colours and not smile.  It was a delight to play with the fabric and see where it led.

My personal philosophy of quilting is that we do not have enough fun.  Why spend so much time torturing ourselves?  Do these colours match?  Oh no my points are cut off!  Why won't this lie flat?

Relax, breathe, have faith and create.  A quilt is love.  Pure and simple.

I am very pleased with how this quilt turned out, right down to the Laverne style L in the corner.  Hope Lily likes it too :)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

"And I'll stitch the words into my heart with a needle and thread..."

This quilt top started life as a potential patchwork tablecloth.  I have a reasonable stash of fabric (don't we all) and I cut a stack of oranges, browns and creams a year ago.  They remained in their stack for sometime.  They were conferring as to what they wanted to be.

One day I took the stack and cut them all in half, based on a whim.  I was following not yet knowing where I was being led.  I arranged them realizing what they already knew, they were a brick wall.  Next the grout (is it called grout in a brick wall?) was needed.  Given that I am trying very hard to use what I have on hand, I had to make a choice from only a few blues, the one I chose having snowflakes... much to my daughter's dismay.  She found my selection intolerable but she is 16 so many things are intolerable to her.  Not to be deterred I told her it is my representation of a wall in the winter.  That was as far as it went.  It waited again.  I had no idea how I was going to quilt it.

Last night I went to see Passenger in Toronto at the Sound Academy.  It was, well, amazing only skims the surface.  His lyrics are poems and I am forever writing one or the other of them down, here and there and everywhere.  Today I had been thinking of how to record his lovely lyrics in a quilt.  That was when she called to me.  I brought her out, counted her rows and realized they matched the number of lines from the song I was thinking of...

Well I’m sick of this town, this blind man’s forage
They take your dreams down and stick them in storage
You can have them back son when you’ve paid off your mortgage and loans
Oh to hell with this place,  I’ll go it my own way
I’ll stick out my thumb and trudge down the highway
Someday someone must be going my way home
Till then I’ll make my bed from a disused car
With a mattress of leaves and a blanket of stars
And I’ll stitch the words into my heart with a needle and thread
Don’t you cry for the lost, smile for the living
Get what you need and give what you’re given
You know life’s for the living so live it
Or you're better off dead.
- Life's For The Living, Passenger

If you ever have a chance to see him in concert, I implore you to go, you will not be disappointed.  I will post pictures once this is quilted... :)

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Cream and Razors?

There are times when you realize wait one cotton picking second, where is my quilt?  I have two tops that I specifically made for me and for my bed.  My bed currently has a second hand, store bought coverlet on it.  Please do not judge.  I may need professional help for my habit of putting others ahead of myself.

To remedy this sad state, I carved out enough time to quilt my own quilt.  It is my experiment with neutrals.  I am not sure how truly neutral it is, but that is part of the fun.

One of the fabrics used in the quilt has the oddest sayings on it.  It is the Little Red Riding Hood fabric (used in cream in the squares and turquoise in the binding).  It says "Patent Tempered Razors... Set and Sharpened... Ready to Use" as well as "Receive into your Custody the Body of George Swann".  Odd.  Well more than odd, slightly disturbing, but I love it !  Consequently I have named this quilt Cream and Razors.

I used my new machine quilting pattern, which is also on Lou's Union Jack... Oysters on the Half Shell and a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

Given that is it my birthday on the 16th and I will be 45, I am determined to lead the life I want and I will be doing the thing I think I cannot do, daily, to that end.

How much of your life can you run from being who you are when who you are is what you were meant to be?