Sunday, 29 May 2011

Inspirational Fibre Art

I went to my 15 year university reunion this past weekend in Kingston, Ontario. In taking a walk with some friends through the campus and some of our favourite haunts, I came across this wall hanging in the John Deutsch University Centre. It's always been one of my favourite pieces of art.

The workmanship is incredible. I don't know who made it, but I always loved that the graduation stoles of all the faculties were represented. Regardless of faculty or year, we are all a part of the tapestry of Queen's University.

I must say that the tapestry has seen better days. It made me sad to see the dust and light damage on this beautiful piece. I'll be sending the university an email to find out if they've got a plan for fixing it or protecting it from further damage. I know they probably have more important things to address, but it's a real shame to see this prominent piece of art deteriorating like this.

Otherwise, it was a wonderful weekend with some fabulous friends. Lots of food, great chats, a dram or two of drink ;), a wee bit o' dancing, a few Oil Thigh Na Ban Righ Gans (Queen's cheer), some fireworks and a whole lot of fun. Life is pretty darn good!

Friday, 27 May 2011

My Memories of Australia are Even Sweeter Now

Our Guild had it's biennual quilt show earlier this month. Normally I'm there a couple of times during the weekend to volunteer and drool over the quilts, but I could only go on the Friday this year. The quilts were so beautiful and inspiring! I like to volunteer to do 'white glove' because I get to answer questions from attendees, study and touch the quilts, and catch up with fellow members.

I was particularly excited about this quilt show because I feel like I've had a breakthrough on free motion quilting, thanks in a large part to Leah Day and her Free Motion Quilting Project. I had submitted three pieces to the show, all of which I'd sat on for a few years because I couldn't free motion quilt (FMQ) well. I'm still not great, but at least most of the fear is gone.

One of the pieces was a Magic Tiles quilt done with Australian fabrics. I went to Sydney, Australia in 2001 for a business trip and fell in love with the country and the people. The weather, the beaches (worst sunburn of my life, but I don't hold it against Bondi Beach), the wine, the countryside, the animals, the history, the culture, Sydney. What more can I say? AWESOME!

In 2006, Michelle Dunn of Kallisti Quilts spoke at the Common Threads Quilt Guild, of which I was a member. I loved what she did with oriental, Australian and African fabrics. Because of my wonderful trip to Australia, I couldn’t resist one of her fat quarter packs of Australian fabrics and used it in a Magic Tiles formation to showcase the fabrics. I made it precisely to FMQ it. It was going to be our family room television-watching quilt so I was determined that I wouldn't care how well it was quilted, I would just do it. I quilted in the ditch along all of the sashing and bound it. Then I started the free motion quilting. I did five of the tiles and they were awful. It felt like I was fighting the quilt and the machine. My arms, shoulders and hands hurt. I was totally discouraged. So I left it with the in-the-ditch quilting and we used the quilt as it was.

About two months ago, I was determined to give free motion quilting another try. I had a new machine - no more excuses! I wanted to finish the Australian Magic Tiles the way I'd always imagined it and two other quilts for our guild show. I started FMQ one of the pieces, which I call Breakthrough. The FMQ went much better this time around, but I found that I was struggling to think of different designs.

It's weird how things can come together at the right time. It was just around that time that I found some of Leah's videos on You Tube and then our guild newsletter had some of her designs in it. Clearly, those were some signs. When I went to her site, it felt like a whole new world opened up for me. I think I read every post and watched every video.

I used her site to help my son choose FMQ designs that I should do on his quilt. It worked beautifully! I also went to her site for designs for the Australian Magic Tiles. I wanted to do a different design on each tile. Thanks to Leah and all of her fabulous designs, I was able to do it. She even gave me the confidence to try making up a few of my own.

Back to the show, while I was on 'white glove' duty, a few visitors asked me about the FMQ on the Memories of Australia quilt (my Australian Magic Tiles quilt)! I was thrilled and answered their questions about the FMQ and gave them Leah's site name. And they weren't the only ones! I think I spent the rest of Friday walking on air.

Memories of Australia (Magic Tiles pattern by Kathleen Bissett) 

Mitosis FMQ design by Leah Day
Tribolite FMQ design by Leah Day
If I thought Friday was great, well Sunday was even better. When I went to pick up my quilts after the show, I was floored to see that there was a ribbon on one of my quilts. I've never received a ribbon. I didn't even think I'd get one for many, many more years. Memories of Australia won 2nd in Viewer's Choice for it's category. I'm still blown away. The guild posted the list of winners this week and I still can't believe my name is there along with all of those fabulous and talented quilters.

Thank you, Leah! Your work is amazing and your site is awesome. Thank you for giving me the confidence to just go for it and have fun with FMQ. I just saw that you have put up a Grab a Button, which I have figured out how to add to my sidebar. Again, what great timing!

Free Motion Quilting Project

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Works in Progress Wednesday #2

We've had a lot of visitors this past week -- yay! -- so most of my quilting time was spent cleaning -- boo! I really wish someone would invent a self-cleaning house. If they can do it with a stove, why not a house? ;)

Current Projects:

Value-able Colours/Project X? - Finished piecing the back, sandwiched and pin-basted the quilt and began FMQ-ing it. Hopefully, it will be done by next Wednesday.

On last Wednesday's WIP post, Cindy from Live a Colourful Life kindly asked to see the Fibonacci's Not Random quilt. In 2004, I was reading The Da Vinci Code, which featured the Fibonacci sequence, when low and behold, my May issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine arrived. It contained an article about using the Fibonnacci sequence in quilts. Hmm, serendipity! This is what I came up with. I used only Fibonacci sequence numbers in designing this quilt, so the blocks are 1", 2", 3", 5", or 8" or some combination thereof. I couldn't quilt it the way I wanted to at the time so I just quilted it in the ditch, bound and hung it in our dining room. A couple of years ago, I was determined to put crown moulding up in the dining room. Instead of removing everything from the walls, I just started in on the project. Sure enough, the crown moulding fell, smearing adhesive on the binding of this wallhanging. I tried getting it off, but nothing worked. I'm going to rebind it at some point, which is why it's in the Completed Tops Awaiting Quilting category rather than the Completed category. And now that I can FMQ better, I'll quilt it the way I'd always intended. Here are a couple of photos of Fibonacci's Not Random:

3 Wee Spy Quilts - No progress

Completed Tops Awaiting Quilting:
Landscape quilt
10X Leaves
Fibonacci's Not Random

On Hold:
Red and Tan Amish Wedding Ring
Stained Glass Lillies
Micah's Fire Growth Chart
Converging Stars
Tangled Garden
Red and Tan Bargello in the Round 2
Chop Suey
Green Bed Drape
Christmas tree skirt
Wedding quilt
Linus quilt
Nine patch colourwash
Spiral/Spring seta colour

New projects: 0
Completed projects: 0
Currently in progress: 19

Check out Freshly Pieced to see what others are up to today!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, 23 May 2011

Tulip Festival Community Quilt Project

Happy Victoria Day!

My cousin and her family came down for the long weekend so I finally had an opportunity to check out the Canadian Tulip Festival downtown. Because, really, you can't come to Ottawa in May without seeing the Tulip Festival, right? I'd heard that they have a community quilt project this year that will be displayed during the festival in future years. Needless to say, I was keen to see it and participate if I could.

Well, I wasn't disappointed. The Kaleidoscope community quilt is being made under the direction of textile artist Gabby Ewen and is going to be gorgeous! Participants were asked to sign their names on green brick-sized blocks, and then write a message about peace in a notebook and on a ribbon. The ribbons are being used to make the tulip. The tulip petals are all sorts of shades of red, orange, pink, and purple. The background is made of diamonds stitched together with different crazy quilt stitches. The older boys and I participated by signing our names and including a message on a burgundy ribbon. They let me take a few pictures, which I thought I'd share with you. I didn't get any detail shots, mostly because my kids decided to take off in separate directions!

Here's another one from the other direction:

They have a great gallery of photos where you can see the quilt's progress. Enjoy! I can't wait to see it finished and displayed next year.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Bucket List o' Quilts

Alright, here's my bucket list of quilts I'd like to make at some point. Some are just in my head, some in my sketchbook, some spread out around the Internet, but now they are finally listed in one spot. And since I see such great quilts all over the place all the time and I think about quilts all the time, I have no doubt that this list is going to get longer and longer...

Lone Star
Gnome Quilt à la Artisania
Ruth McDowell-style forest scene
Bottled Rainbow
Green king bed quilt
Boys' twin bed quilts
Patrick's sports quilt
Stained glass panel and apex quilts for family room
Chenille quilt
Living room throw with upholstery fabrics
Denim picnic blanket
Value and colour circle
Black wholecloth quilted in colour similar to Emma's from Sampaquita's Quilts
Seasonal wallhangings (Easter, Spring, Canada Day, Summer, Fall, Winter, Christmas)
Maple Leaf quilt
Group of Seven-style quilt
New Zealand quilt
New York Beauty
Give and Take Appliqué
Flannel rag quilt
Haida-style quilt
Snowflake quilt
Wonder Woman
Growth chart pattern
Supernova from Freshly Pieced
Something similar in style to Michelle @ City House Studio's Trees Quilt
Nutcracker quilt
Mariner's Compass quilt
Holiday mantel cover
Chrismas stockings
House quilt
Children's portraits/fingerprints
Turtle quilt
Christmas stocking quilt
Christmas tree quilt
Quilt à la Elaine Quelh style
Tulip quilt
Feng shui
European townhouse/village quilt

Okay, so I have quite a bit of work to do... :)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Works in Progress Wednesday #1

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

No, I'm not going to post something everyday, but I love Lee's idea of WIP Wednesday so I wanted to start right away. What a great way to keep track of projects!

New Projects:

Value-able Colours - I don't think this is the right title, so I'd welcome any suggestions. I bought some Nature's Palette by Lyndhurst Studio because I loved the value changes in the fabric. But then, what do you do with it? After sitting on it for a year +, I finally had an idea and this is it. Next up is finishing up the back.

Ongoing Projects:
3 Wee Spy Quilts - Layered and quilted. Now I just need to bind them and finish their complementary bags. And get them to their new owners!

Completed Tops Awaiting Quilting:
Landscape quilt
10X Leaves
Fibonacci's Not Random

On Hold:
Red and Tan Amish Wedding Ring
Stained Glass Lillies
Micah's Fire Growth Chart
Converging Stars
Tangled Garden
Red and Tan Bargello in the Round 2
Chop Suey
Green Bed Drape
Christmas tree skirt
Wedding quilt
Linus quilt
Nine patch colourwash
Spiral/Spring seta colour

New projects: 1
Completed projects: 0
Currently in progress: 19 - oy!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my blog about quilting and other things. I'll be sharing things that I've found on the Internet, things I've made, tips or tricks I've learned along the way, and probably some recipes here and there (because a great recipe must be shared!). Please feel free to comment, share your ideas, and disagree (respectfully please!) with anything I've posted.

I made the bed so why not make what goes on the bed?So how did I start quilting? Well, my first memory of quilting was helping my friend across the street make her first quilt when I was around 7 or 8. I clearly remember her explaining to me that she was marking squares on an old sheet that she was going to cut up and then sew back together. I thought it was weird, and a lot of work. I don't know if she ever finished it, but I hope she did.

Fast forward 12 or so years, and I'm in university. I had a tiny room, but I wanted a double bed and needed storage space for my clothes and ringette equipment (yes, it wasn't the prettiest smelling room). I couldn’t find a double captain’s bed anywhere, and I was stubborn so I designed and made one IKEA-style. That bed was a tank and served me well for four years. I'm sure it's still floating around some campus today.

Well anyways, after I made the bed, I thought it would be fun (and fitting, really) to make what went on the bed too. So I went to the library, found a book on quilts to make in a weekend (ha, ha), bought some fabric that was on sale (polycotton!), and started an absolutely awful and incorrect Irish Chain quilt. I loved it anyway and it adorned my bed for a number of years. Here's a photo of the Sunflower quilt now.

It's holding up pretty well considering that it isn't quilted and it's mostly used as our picnic blanket now. I didn't realize until a few years ago that it actually isn't even close to being an Irish Chain. I have no idea what happened. I thought I followed the pattern correctly, but clearly not. Oh well...we'll just consider it as my first original design. ;) 

I really got bitten by the quilting bug though when I got engaged to my high school sweetheart Charles (a.k.a. Chuck or the Hubster) and thought a quilt would be a perfect wedding gift (yes, you probably guessed it -- that became UFO #1). I had a ball designing the quilt and buying the fabrics, but I did not have the skills to make what I envisioned in my head. I finished about eight of the 40-some blocks I needed and realized that: 1) they weren't the same sizes (hmm, what's a 1/4" seam allowance?), 2) the colours weren't working well together at all, and 3) this was going to take a lot longer than I had anticipated.

The wedding was two months away. I was determined though, so I presented my hubster-to-be with my first IOUQ (I owe you a quilt), the completed blocks and the designs of the other blocks and told him I'd finish it after the wedding.  He's still waiting for it (post about the replacement wedding gift)...

After the Hubster and I got married, we moved to Boston so he could go to school. I started working part-time in a discount fabric store, Sew-Fisticated Discount Fabrics in Somerville, Massachusetts, while I found something more permanent and in my field. And really, who could pass up 100% cotton at $1.99-2.99/yard? Needless to say, very little money came home from that job, but an awesome stash was born. 

By the way, that store is still there and selling quilting cottons (and tons of other types of fabrics) for the same prices. I stopped in last year when we went down for the Hubster's reunion and stocked up big time. The fabrics are ends of fabric lines that are a few years old so you won't find a complete fabric line or the newest, hippest fabrics. However, the selection is great if you are looking to fill your stash. If you go, tell Joan (the owner) that M-R from Canada says Hi!

I've been quilting ever since, slowly improving my skills. After Boston, we moved back to Toronto and then to Ottawa, where we now make our home. Me and the Hubster have three rambunctious boys: Patrick who is 6.5 years old, Daniel who is 4 years old, and Micah who is 2 years old. They are wonderful and spirited little boys who are learning to quilt (among other things). I made them Wee Spy quilts when they were born and a few other baby quilts.

This past year, I made quilts with the oldest two. I cut the fabric, they did the layout, and I sewed. They chose the border and backing and the freemotion quilting motifs and I was the workhorse. It worked really well and both boys are keen to start their next projects. Yay!

Since I posted my first quilt, I'll post my latest. This is called Breakthrough and it's from a pattern by Marlene King called Ecstasy. It was in Down Under Quilts, Issue 96, 2006. The colours I used are very different from what she used and I turned it on it's side because I like mine better this way. The top was finished in 2007 or 08, but stayed unquilted until last month. I really wanted to free motion quilt this one, but didn't have the skills to do it well. Finally I took the plunge and it went much better than I anticipated. It was in our guild quilt show earlier this month. It's not a great photo, but you get the idea.
Well, that's about it for today. I'm excited about this blog, if only to stop boring the beejeesus out of my non-quilting friends and family. I always find it so interesting to hear how someone came to quilting, whether it's a love passed down through a relative or some quirky circumstance, so feel free to share your story in the comments section.


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