December 6, 2008

Waiting . . .

Well, my challenge this week was to centre the back of the yellow quilt on the top. How to go about doing so? You see, I want to hand quilt it and fold the outer border of the front to the back for the binding, so at first I thought I would hang the back good side facing me, on the sliding door - as a giant light box - and adjust the top over that and pin. But that didn't work. The tape I used to tack up the back wasn't strong enough to hold it properly in place and the light wasn't strong enough for me to see through the top. Then I thought unclearly about somehow pinning one corner of the hands panel to the place on the top where I thought it should go to be centred, then pin the other corners and adjust. Where would I lay it out to do this, though? It would be good to have a surface into which I could push the pins while I was adjusting. My ironing board came to mind, but I couldn't see this method working all that well.

Finally, I decided I had to just do the obvious: lay the backing on the floor face up and tape it down, then lay the top face down on that, centre it, then pin in place. Once that is done and the backing is trimmed to size, I would fold them up then lay the batting on the floor and put the back and top on top of the batting, smooth it out and pin in place. And that's just what I finished doing. That's good. That's done. But as far as I can figure out, that also means that I won't be using the front border fabric as binding but will sew the lot together pillowcase style. Too bad. But I can't do anything more on it until I get a walking foot for my old machine. So I just called a new place down on Queen Street near Dufferin called The Workroom. It seems like a very cool place and they have recently become an authorized Bernina dealer. So Karen, with whom I spoke, will call me Monday about the walking foot. I just hope I can get it in my hot little hands really fast as I still have hopes to hand this quilt to my daughter for Christmas.
Yes, I am a last minute person.
Until then, I will start tacking mum's quilt together. Here are the blocks laid out on my bed:

And here they are in black and white - I wanted to see how they are grouped value-wise

This seems okay. I can see one change I might make, but really, I think they are just fine as they are. So I'll start joining them together!

Keep your foot on the dogs!

December 1, 2008

The Back

Well, here it is, the back. It turned out nicely, I think.
Except, for some reason, while figuring out how large to make the pink pieces above and below the hands panel, I came up with the idea that they should be the same cut size as the panel: 15x15. I was wrong, of course. They needed to be 15" wide, but 14.5+14.5+14.5 doesn't add up to 50" which is the size of the top. So I cut two extra pieces and had to sew them to the top and bottom of the edging pieces. You can see the top patch in this photo:

Oh well. It doesn't look too bad. I'm back to work today but will try to get the top, batting, and backing pinned together this week. Maybe I'll even start quilting!

An update on my mum's quilt: All the squares are bound and now I just have to sew them together. I was thinking of keeping it "light", if that's the right word, and tack one to the next once in the middle of the sides of the squares - in other words, I won't sew all one side to one side of the next block, just sew them together at one point. I'm not sure why I want to do this, but it seems like the right thing to do and I think it will be good.

On top of the tacking down I want to put a ribbon bow and to that end I went to Mokuba last week and bought a metre each of several different ribbons. I decided on an lovely transparent red ribbon with gold edging. Mum would like it. She loved red and gold. In their last house together my parents put in wall-to-wall red carpeting.

I tried this white and gold ribbon

but it seemed to get lost, so I tried this other white and gold ribbon. The white had a bit of a blue sheen to it.

But really, I think I bought this one just because I liked it for itself. It too gets lost.

Then I tried this thinner red and gold one

which is nice and stands out better, but I also bought the wider width of the same ribbon
And while I might tend to go for the thinner more discrete ribbon, my mum wasn't a discrete woman: she lived out loud, so I think the wider ribbon is better. What do you think of this bow?

I think this is the way I'll go. I put up pics when it's all together and on our bed.
Until then, keep your foot on the dogs.

November 30, 2008

Civility and the Yellow Quilt

Okay, civility is in no way tied to the yellow quilt - I just want to clear that up from the get go. The yellow quilt has nothing at all to do with civility or the lack thereof, but both these things have been in the forefront of my mind for some time.
I am reading P.M. Forni's The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude after dabbling in his earlier work Choosing Civility and finding it somewhat lacking. Perhaps it's part of the aging process, but I find myself growing increasingly weary of the horrendous lack of manners and civility in the people I encounter daily and in the world in general. Manners really are the social lubricant: they make every person-to-person encounter pleasant regardless of whether or not you like or agree with the other.
I work at an animal clinic and meet new people everyday and I am flabbergasted at the lack of consideration, restraint, and manners prevalent in people of all types and ages. I've seen a man in his 60s sit in the waiting room with his pinky up his nose, and another man the same age take out a pair of nail clippers and trim his nails. Just the other day a man in his twenties came in to have his dog neutered and he said in a loud voice, "can you tell me again why it's good to have my dog's b*lls cut off?" Hoping he was simply ignorant and not a jackass, I replied, "you mean have him neutered?" He laughed, and said yes. Luckily, there was no one else in the waiting room, which wasn't the case the next day when he came to pick his pup up. The place was crowded with women of all ages (sometimes that's just the way it is - women tend to bring pets in and pick them up more often than men). When this man's dog was brought to him, the puppy was so happy and wriggling around tail wagging and this guy shouts out, "What are you doing? You just had your b*lls cut off!" Turns out he was a jackass and not ignorant.
And this behaviour isn't limited to men.
And this little rant doesn't even touch on basic manners - saying please and thank you, holding a door open for the person behind, lining up at the back of the line instead of sneaking or pushing in front of others. Ah, the list goes on and on. What to do? What to say when encountering this jackassery? I'm hoping P.M. Forni will enlighten me.

On to the yellow quilt. Well, I guess I sort of lied when I said I'd show you peeks at how the back was coming along. I haven't put the back together, although I do plan to do so today, but I have finished one big part of it. Like my mum before me, I brought my daughter up to believe in some of the unseen things and she and I both have had many experiences with unseen things including the human energy field and the sharing of energy between a couple or a group of people. It's really quite amazing sometimes the lives we lead on an energetic level and how unaware we can be of them. I have taken Reiki classes and have experienced energy coming from my hands and from the hands of others, and this is a fairly commonly-held belief - that energy comes from our hands - and one that has been around for thousands of years. So I included this in the back of the quilt in the form of applique:

The fabric I used for the hands is a lovely batik and I thought it was perfect. The concentric rectangles tie into the spirals in the other background fabric which also relate to chakras/energy and the idea that energy at the chakra points spins like a tornado.

You can barely see it in the photo below, but I hand-stitched around the inside of each hand in gold embroidery thread. I found this difficult thread to work with as it kept bunching up. For the second hand I switched to gold metallic machine thread which worked much better. I also used this thread to sew in a three stars.

I embroidered on two spirals and this was the first time I have ever tried doing so. I like the way the second one (upper right) turned out, but the first one's okay too. This is the first one,

And this is the second

And finally, I added a spider and web. This after learning on the quilt embellishers' online group that they represent good fortune/luck. Plus I like spiders. I know that's quirky, I know most people don't like spiders, but really, they're great. They eat up all the other bugs that I don't want in my home and I appreciate that.

So, today I'll sew this piece onto some large strips of the pink backing fabric and put the whole thing together in readiness for quilting. I'm thinking that I will quilt most of it just following the blocks on the front, except for where the hands are and there I will quilt the hands so it shows through on the front. We'll see.

Until then, keep your foot on the dogs!

November 19, 2008

Hello my friends! Yes, I took the handmade pledge: this year I will give only handmade things as gifts - except for books, cds, and dvds, all of which play a major part in my gift-giving. And speaking of which, I finished the top for my daughter's quilt!! I'm excited. It turned out nicely and I discovered that when I used Eleanor Burns' method of NOT ironing each patch as I go but instead just using my fingers, nails and body heat to flatten the seams, the blocks and top went together much faster and with fewer problems!! What do you all do?
Do you iron every seam before proceeding or not? I'm curious.

So, here is the top:

I used four different yellows: one dark new one, and three older, paler ones. Two of them I bought at a yard sale almost twenty years ago and the other was in my mother's stash.

The dark fabric in this block is black, purple and white and was also in my mum's stash.

I bought this brown fabric 15-20 years ago and I LOVE it! It looks like velvet. I waited and waited for the perfect places to use it.

This fabric is dark blue with beige, bright red and bright purple, and my dearest daughter brought it back from Pakistan for me. I love this fabric and look forward to using it in other projects.
This is the fabric I have for the backing which I'll have to piece. I haven't yet decided how to piece it as I don't want to have just stripes of fabric on the back. I'm thinking of doing something with applique. I'll give you peeks as I decide and work on it.
I want to hand quilt this and was thinking of adding some embellishments, but my daughter has a huge dog whose fur may end up on this quilt from time to time, so it would need to be washable. Does this rule out embellishments?
I wonder.
Keep your foot on the dogs!

November 1, 2008


I was at the Creativ Festival a couple of weeks ago and was excited to see all the wonderful things displayed - the fabrics, threads, notions, books, and tools. Hamels Fabrics from British Columbia had displayed a wonderful winter quilt done in whites, creams and reds with redwork but by the time I was at their booth, they had only one kit left and no patterns. So,when I got home, I ordered it online and I received it yesterday! That's exciting! It measures 64" x 71", but I want to make it for our queen-sized bed, so I'll have to add somethings to it. This is, of course, a project whose completion is next winter, not this one. This year, I still have two pieces that I want to finish - the quilt my mom started (see the bottom of this page) and the yellow quilt for my daughter. I have some blocks put together for the latter and as I finish more I put up some photos.

The Quilting Patch in Scarborough had a booth there, and I picked up some lovely fat quarters. But they also had this very cool tiny toy-looking travel iron for $13. I thought I'd wander around the show a bit then go back and pick one up, but of course, they were all gone by the time I got back. It was so cute! Like a child's toy, but it seemed to work really well. I am always burning my finger tips when trying to do delicate ironing and have thought many times about getting a small iron - at first I was thinking of the Clover iron, but this little one might be better. The woman demonstrating it was using it on fusible interfacing for a nature-scene wall-hanging and it seemed to do just fine for this. One day I'll travel the loooong way it is from downtown out to their location and have a gander at their store and pick one of these babies up. Unfortunately, they don't have an online catalogue.

There were so many beautiful things and so many wonderful fabrics. I picked up several fat quarters from Sew Sisters. They had such good deals - $2 fat quarters and 4 for $5. Can't beat that! And, A Great Notion was there and they had just about everything one could want in notions, except the thing I really wanted: blades for my large Fiskars rotary cutter. Oh well. I did get some dissolving thread and other things from them, and they seemed to do brisk business with women lining up to cash out!

One criticism I have is that the food offered was not the best and there were almost no vegetarian options - all the sandwiches were provided by the same company and they all had meat in them. There was over-priced sushi but the ones I saw also all had meat. So, being vegetarian I had to make do with a mass-produced danish and yucky coffee. Next time I'll be sure to take my own healthy food and drinks.

That puts me in mind of what I think was the only food-type booth there the Little Rock Honey Farm. They had hand cream that was fantastic and smelled wonderful (as beeswax/honey-based products do), and amazing honey butters, honeys, and sauces. I bought the chai honey, which is delicious and great in tea - the only problem is that there are some chunky bits on the top of the honey that you have to either scrape away to get at the non-chunky honey, or that you have to swallow in your honey-sweetened tea. And I bought some blueberry honey which is amazing. My partner and I are real honey-lovers and both of us rave over both products. Any of their products would make great Christmas/Solstice gifts. All in all, it was a fun, productive, and educational time. I look forward to the spring festival.

Cheryl from the online guild I belong to, the Maple Leaf Quilting Guild, is sharing with guild members her new method of creating a double wedding ring quilt. If you're living in Canada, I highly recommend joining the guild as the women are friendly, very creative, and share wonderful methods and tips.

I'm off for my morning shower and then into my crowded sewing room! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

keep your foot on the dogs

September 23, 2008

Hi there!
Well, here it is: my first block based on Canadian themes. I call this the Tipi block, which is, of course, a Native Canadian thing. It is similar to the kaleidoscope block. The colouring is grass yellow or grass/tree green for the background and almost any colour for the tipi itself. The corner at the top of the tipi represents the sun, so should be yellow. As you can see, however, I've also just used it in various colourings including using red to represent camp fires.
Here's the block:

Here it is using yellow and green for the background and red representing the campfire. When I group the tipis in fours I call it Circle of Tipis.

This pattern has nothing to do with tipis. I've called it Blackbirds and ice cream. The red is the cherry on top of the ice cream cones.

And this one could be called Planes and ice cream.

This is the Circle of Tipis in "traditional" colouring - green and yellow background for the grass and trees around the brown tipis with red for the communal fires.

It can be used in the same way the kaleidoscope block is used and more!

I hope you like it.

Keep you foot on the dogs

September 13, 2008

Hello everyone!

One thing that has interested me for a few years now is the possibility of creating a body of quilt block patterns that are Canadian themed/Canadian invented. There are so many blocks named for American places, people and ideas, but I haven't come across many, if any, that are named for Canadian places, people, and things - that's crazy! So for the next while my blog is going to be primarily focused on Canadian quilt blocks.
I was lucky enough to receive EQ6 last year and I began designing blocks that had their basis in things Canadian. I also picked up a couple books about the history of Canadian quilts, and slowly, slowly, I'm learning and creating.

One block that is considered to be Canadian is the maple leaf block

In Quilts and Other Bed Coverings in the Canadian Tradition, Ruth McKendry includes a photograph of a green and white quilt that uses this block (4 blocks across and 5 down on the diagonal facing each other), stating that it is "... considered to be of Canadian origin". It was made somewhere between 1875 - 1900. I created a mock-up of it on EQ:

In Pieced Quilts of Ontario, Dorothy Burnham includes a quilt made in 1840 in Ontario that uses the same block placed in the same way (4 across, 5 down, facing each other), but with an appliqued vine border. She claims the block is derived from the "Delectable Mountains" block, but has been altered to represent a maple leaf, and she states, "... Perhaps here we have a very rare thing, a genuinely Canadian quilt design".

This is a great block and can be manipulated in so many ways to make exciting, beautiful quilts. Here are a few examples

In traditional Canadian colours

Using prints from the 30s


And a few others

with sashing

It's also really nice with a dark November-sky background

Or as a Christmas quilt

Like all good block designs, it can be used to create beautiful simple or complex quilt designs.

In Ontario's Heritage Quilts by Marilyn Walker, she shows an example of another Canadian-created maple leaf block design. She states that it is from Quebec and was taught to young women in convent schools in the late 1800s. She names it, Madame's Maple Leaf. Unfortunately, the photograph she has of the quilt is quite small, but she states that the leaves are appliqued onto the white background and set on the diagonal. In the intervening squares, the quilt-maker appliqued realistic maple leaves in a lighter colour. Here's the one I mocked-up on EQ:

And here's the block itself

I think it's quite lovely.

Next time, I'll share a block I've designed, but until then

keep your foot on the dogs

July 4, 2008

Lookie here at what I found at a used clothing store!

It is set on a 4' x 7' piece of silk. and I think it was all hand done, although, it's difficult for me to tell. I briefly studied Ancient Greek art in university, my partner studied it much more than I and he still keeps up with it, and saw on so many friezes and vases images like this. But this is probably Hindu and the tag said it is from India. I assume the image depicts a woman leaving her family probably to be wed to the man driving the carriage. The woman seems rather nondescript - nothing to identify her as a particular goddess or queen. The man is holding both his bow and shield and there is some type of animal to his right: it looks like a snake's body but it has ears. Interesting.
I was having a coffee in a local Second Cup afterward and one of the counter people was a gentleman I thought was Indian, so I asked if he were Hindu. No, Muslim from Tanzania. Man, was I off. He asked to see this piece and he said it should be framed, but he didn't know who it depicted, although he thought the woman was a queen. He suggested I cut off part of the silk to make the size more reasonable and then frame it. I was toying with that idea as well as I could use the silk in a crazy quilt or to make embellishments. But I won't touch it until I know what it is. I'll have to convince my partner to email some pictures of this to his friend in India and see if he knows what it is. Perhaps it's just a generic pre-wedding scene. We'll see.
On another note, I was wearing my homemade backpack when I visited the shop in which I found this marvelous piece, and the store owner took interest in it and asked to see it. She examined it very carefully and tried it on saying that she wanted to make one for herself. I said that I had designed it and it was easy to make. Later of course, I grew concerned that she would make lots of them and sell them off. I don't mind people making some for themselves but given that I might at some point like to sell the pattern and make and sell some bags, I would take great exception to her making and selling them. Copyright. How do you deal with it? Do you worry that your ideas will be used for profit by others? Maybe you don't care?
This weekend I'll be working more on the yellow quilt - I'm growing quite fond of it - and my mother's unfinished quilt. I'll get some pictures up of the yellow quilt blocks that I've completed. Until then, keep your foot on the dogs.

June 23, 2008


Jacquie brought up some good points about shopping: 1) it's more fun to do so in person rather than online, and; 2) many stores that one can get to carry 'old-fashioned' type fabric and not "fun" fabric.

I agree with both points. I am only beginning to like the flowery old-fashioned fabrics but have always preferred the wacky ones, like this one that I call Surfin' Skele's and that I bought 20-odd years ago:

I just picked this one up and think it's fun - sorry for the blurry picture:

And this one I recently picked up at Fabricland for $3.99/m - and it's a nice quality fabric! Can't beat that price.

While inexpensive fabric is exciting to find, I realize that it isn't always the best thing to put one's money toward - for several reasons, not the least of which is that it rarely supports the small, local quilt shop.

Here are some fat quarters I bought at Andjareena's Place near Trenton, Ontario during a recent visit out that way:

She has a wonderful selection including some wacky fabrics, that I didn't pick up, in such a small place! And she has lots of tools, templates and patterns. Plus yarns, pieces of hand-dyed wool, and on and on. Quite a fun shop.

Do you have a favourite quilt shop? Why is it so good?

I'm off to iron and wash and get ready for work. Hope you all have a great week!

Keep your foot on the dogs!