Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Christmas Prepping for Quilters

I have been absent so long!

Well with Christmas around the corner I am sewing like a crazy woman. I mean seriously crazy, talking to my cat crazy, slipping discs in my back so having to 'mod' my sewing chair crazy.

I LOVE making homemade Christmas presents. I love sewing away working on extra details to make something look so nice people ask where I bought it. I love answering "I made it for you". I think it adds a little love.. rather than sending out too many gift cards that have the tendency of saying "Look, I checked you off my list!". Not that gift cards are bad, I purchase some for the season as well.

Some tips for holiday sewing!

1. Do not start too many projects, it really takes away from the experience (I promise I did not follow this list, but I highly suggest this)

2. Do not expect it to cost less than a store bought gift! Sewing supplies are expensive and sometimes shortcuts are just as noticeable as a cheap gift. I am not saying it has to be pricey, but be realistic about how much thread costs, ect.
(side note, my husband recently added up how much I spend on thread.. his jaw was catchin' flies!)

3. Try to ensure the person receiving the gift actually wants it. Not everyone knows the value of a quilt, for those people, why not make a wall hanging style or decorative table runner?

As a farewell, I would also encourage you to really think about the person while sewing their gift, it really changes the way you look at gift giving. Spending 30 hours making a quilt will require deeper thoughts than an hour at the mall thinking about that person. Also, why not bind your quilted gift in front of the tv watching the Grinch with little ones while sipping peppermint hot chocolates?

Enjoy the holiday sewing season! We start much earlier than your typical gift giver!

photo courtesy of www.zazzle.com

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The tortoise and the seam ripper.

The tortoise and the hare is a classic story that portrays the message that slow and steady wins the race. This was a hard lesson learned today as I tried to speed through some free motion quilting. That was when I realized my quilt was folded under itself while I was quilting. I ripped out stitches for over two hours. The stitching I ripped out was intense pebbling around peacock feathers.... lots of work. 

 I have been working on a quilt for a month or so now, pretty simple, lots of negative space. After taking a few more classes on Craftsy.com, I wanted to make a quilt with lots of room to practice some new free-motion designs. Also, for this quilt I decided I wanted to use extra-thick batting. I wanted this quilt to be extra warm and usable and I was finding my quilts were rather thin for our winters here. This was going quite well, though I realized with extra- thick batting comes extra strained arms when putting the quilt through my domestic machine.

Extra thick batting = extra tricky placement in machine

You will notice that I trimmed the extra off the edges of the quilt because I am now quilting the border. I find sometimes that when I quilt the borders, I sometimes let the extra fabric flip under the area I am quilting, to prevent this I cut the excess off right before getting to the edges of the quilt.

This was the section after being re-quilted. I will never make that mistake again!!!

For this quilt I am trying to achieve a contrast in the quilting, not only the fabric selections. I am trying swirls in the printed sections and some straight line stippling in the crisp white.

contrast in quilting designs adds an extra element of design 
While all this has been stressful, ripping it apart, even changing the size of quilt, it makes it very worth it when its all done.

I am rather pleased with the peacock feathers I am quilting into the border, I will have some detailed photos of the finished project but it is also fun to see some before and afters. 

Peacock feather

On a side note it was such a busy week! While ripping out the stitches on this quilt I realized I had to finish this cake for my sisters birthday this evening! The craftier you are, the less time you have.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

To the quild we go!

This week was our monthly guild meeting and I finally officially joined (rather than attending as a guest). This was exciting in its own, I am finally sharing and acknowledging this little love of mine. We had Kristy Daum of St. Louis Folk Victorian speaking to us about her Dr. Who quilt. How exciting it was! I love seeing face to face people I follow online, or quilts that people gawk at and take pictures of! You can find all her amazing work, including that stunning hybrid-pixel quilt here : http://stlouisfolkvictorian.blogspot.ca

What was even more thrilling than my new venture into the guild was the fact that my husband was right there beside me. My husband is always supporting me and pushing me to acknoweldge my interest and talents and turn them into something like a business (or a blog!). He is always right beside me... from the delivery room to my craft show booth that man does not miss a minute... The guild is no different, and sometimes he ends up asking more questions than I do! It is so fun to share our passions with each other! I am very blessed to have him (and I believe he will be quilting himself one day! I think the bug will bite soon).

He is so cute! My hair looks a little silly here... stuck in a bobby pin... 2012
This week I also did a photoshoot with my little assistants down by the water front. We took pictures of the mermaid applique quilt that I was originally making for my neice, but my daughter put in 'dibs' first! She loved this mermaid so much she cried at the thought of parting. She placed all the starfish and really did "help" as much as a three year old can. So.... its hers!

This is the mermaid quilt- Spring 2013.
This quilt had to have Chloe in the picture because she simply loves it. It was applique, and free motion quilting. It was an all over stippling design followed by some more intricate designs in the borders. I used the fusible product "Heat and Bond Lite" to fuse the fish, seaweed ect. The mermaid was not fused down, I found pins did just fine to hold her in place. There will be more on this quilt int he "Applique" section of the blog very soon.

Hope you have a great week! It is very cold up here in Ottawa but that just means more inside time for quilting! Have a great fall day!

Friday, 1 November 2013

This was Halloween, This was Halloween

This was Halloween.

Chloe showing off her goodies for friends

This was a very tasty Halloween.
This was a very dressed up Halloween.  
                                                                   And all good witches have a cauldron to pull candy from!

This was a make-it-yourself super cute Halloween!

Ok, enough with the cute family pics, time to quilt. Before I get there though I would like to say that when sewing the cuddle fabrics, there are tips to remember. The cuddle fabrics are becoming very popular for quilts, and why not, they are great for babies! The white in the panda costume I made for my daughter was a cuddle fleece, and let me tell you, my machine was not impressed. There was fluff everywhere, and even though I had just changed the needle, it was nearly garbage after getting through the thick cabbage-roll fleece. So, if you are going to sew with cuddle fleece, keep those needles separate, and make sure to really clean your machine after. Also, I found a wet cloth rubbed over the fluffy fabric helped grab all the bits that were about to fly away, it helps with all the lint.

Halloween Wall Hanging
 This is my Halloween wall hanging! The picture is a little wonky and an odd angle, it really hangs pretty straight. I found that the dense quilting was a little tricky to keep it hanging as a square, and I will say that it is important to make sure that accross the quilt, you generally have the same density. I tried to stick with a 1/4 inch scale on this quilt. It took a lot of thread but it was so much fun!

 I appliqued all the pieces onto a flat black square. This means that by the end of quilt there might be 3 or even 4 layers of fabric. I machine stitched all around. When I applique I prefer to use a tight 0.6mm width zigzag with a stitch length of 1.5mm. I find this works the best to get a nice line around that really holds down the applique, even after washing.
 I hate scraps. I mean, I really hate scraps. Scraps of novelty prints? I could just die. I find the novelty prints are really fabrics that eat up space and never leave. You pay a lot for them and can only use them on their intended occasion, such as candy corn Halloween fabric! Thus, I made a door hanger. It was made completely out of scraps. Even the backing. I really love my free-motion spider web quilting. Holidays are a great time to try something daring! :)

Well thats all for now, enjoy fall, it is my favourite season to sew. Its cool outside so it makes us want to bundle up with a quilt, a picture book and a pre-schooler! Or is that just me?