Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Modern Challenge

A few months ago, I became a member of the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild.  I had watched with interest from afar as the quild was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in November of 2013and watched with excitement as the membership grew so quickly. My friend Linda who blogs at Scrapmaster, was one of the first members and her enthusiasm for this group of quilters was contagious from day one. The quilters are such a fun group, embracing modern quilts and supporting each other, from newbie modern quilters to those whose roots lie in a more traditional past. They have so darn much fun at the monthly sew-ins and their facebook page HERE is a constant source of information sharing.

I may have my own roots in traditional quilting but I sure like the bright colorful quilts and the use of negative space to showcase quilting. Although I live a few hours away from their home base, MMQG opened up membership recently for people like me from away who may not be able to make meetings or sew-in days, but were interested in being part of the group. As a member of MMQG, we are automatically a member of The Modern Quilt Guild, and as such, receive news of upcoming events and challenges. 

Awhile ago, the MQG announced the MQG 2015 Fabric Challenge The challenge was simple: make something fantastic that is quilted, make something that you have never done before, challenge yourself to learn something new, and use only "The Cottage Garden" fabrics designed by Amanda Herring of The Quilted Fish  and coordinating RB solids and basics. If you were quick enough to and  register and respond, which I was, you were then mailed a free fat eighth bundle of six of the fabrics. If people were too late for the free fabrics, they could still enter the challenge by purchasing the challenge fabrics at a participating quilt shop. 

I was in from the get-go because I just can't get enough of fabrics that are teal, aqua, get the picture. Here is my challenge quilt story.

The fabrics arrived...

The fabrics were sorted...

I then designed a small quilt and ordered some coordinating RB fabrics to match up with a grey RB blender in my stash. Woodworker Hubby couldn't imagine my making a quilt with those little bits that arrived but I knew I could do it with some whites! I started by cutting 1 1/2" strips from each fabric.

Then I had a look at the RB fabric I had ordered for the backing, a teal that matched the quilt perfectly. Not sure if it matters to the Challenge judges that I chose a RB print for the backing, but it was too pretty not to use!

I am by no means a designer but I played a little bit with an idea and then it started to take shape. I sewed the six strips together and unsewed little bits as needed. That seemed to save time for my spiral.

My little design sheet was pretty messy but it sure came in handy. 

Then the spiral grew and took on a life of its own. I started in the centre with a 1 1/2" square of the grey and ended up with the grey leading off the page, er, I mean, the quilt.

The challenge for me was to quilt all that negative space in a spiral design which I had never done before. I started the spiral in the centre of the square using my free motion foot to follow the lines I had drawn on the quilt using a Frixion pen. Once I got going a little bit around the centre, I raised my feed dogs and changed to an echo quilting foot. 

After the quilting was done, I attached a scrappy binding. I actually sewed the remaining lengths of 1 1/2" coloured fabric strips to strips of white in order to have enough width to bind the quilt. Once it was done, I added a sleeve and then my clothesline (Woodworker Hubby) went to work.  

The hardest thing was to wait for the wind to die down! And yes, that is the snow bank lining our driveway after yet another dumping of snow yesterday morning.

 I love seeing the giant spiral from the back!

So there you have it. My "modern" quilt for the challenge, "Double Spiral", the combination of the pieced spiral quilt top and the spiral quilting. Now I have to get back to my traditional Grandmother's Choice. I am adding the final border today.

I will be taking a break from blogging for a few weeks so I'll see you back around the middle of April. Happy Easter!

It's a great day for quilting!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Is a Hexie Flower a Sign of Spring?

There are no signs of spring here in Cape Breton except the quilty kind. I pulled out my scrap box and decided to make my own signs of spring - some little hexie flowers. I can't lay out my projects on the deck to take a picture because of the snow, so instead, I carefully opened the patio door so the snow wouldn't fall inside and leaned over to lay a few hexies on the snow bank for a picture.

Needless to say, much of the deck was in the shade!

The hexies looked so lonely so I scoured the house and found a batch of hexies already made...

so I pinned those to the snow bank too!

I have no idea how to use them. I may use them as alternating blocks in a 9-patch cuddle quilt. Today it is very cold but the sun is out so I think I'll continue making more signs of spring! 

Speaking of spring, Darlene at A Needle Pulling Thread Quilt Shop in Digby, Nova Scotia is hosting her first ever quilt retreat on May 15 and 16 and yours truly is signed up and ready to go. Find out more about it by calling Darlene at the phone number listed below or by emailing her at 14dadeon at gmail dot com. 

It's a great day for quilting!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Grandmother's Choice Fills the Room

We live in a small house that seemed plenty big while raising our two children. But now, with the children living away, the house seems to have shrunk, or is it only when I try to lay out a quilt on the floor in the livingroom?

This is my Grandmother's Choice-Votes for Women quilt, with 50 different blocks, scrappy triple sashing and 9-patches, just waiting for me to sew the final seam to pull it all together. If you want to find out more about it, or make your own, just click HERE.

The quilt is so huge, I sewed the two sides together as two separate units. There was no arranging of blocks on a display wall. It was just pull a block, sew a block, trying to keep similar colours a little separated, but not always. The same with the sashing and 9-patches-keep it scrappy, but try to have different fabrics side by side. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, but I didn't notice 'till all was sewn together and I'm fine with it. No biggie! 

When I was sewing my very last row together, I found I had a couple of blocks that just didn't work for me, so I made a few more blocks using Barbrara Brachman's free patterns from another QAL. The blocks are all 8" finished and they seemed to fit right in!

I finished sewing everything together, trimmed the sides, and now am deciding on some borders. Right now, the quilt is 80" x 95", but when finished, it may be about 93" x 108", plenty big for any bed. I'll probably use a narrow beige/cream border, followed by a wider red border to tie into the sashing and 9-patches.

For the rest of today, I'll watch the snow continue to blow. We received 50 cm. of snow on Sunday and today we are expecting another 25-30. Will winter ever end? Here is my quilting chair waiting for me to sit in it, and you can see the deck behind where I usually lay out my quilts. No clothesline pictures coming for a long time!

It's a great day for quilting!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Downton Abbey Ladies are Done!

Yes, in between snow storms and chilly, sunny days, my sewing room has been my little haven. I have finally finished sewing those Downton Abbey fabrics together in the Towne Square, all sewn together. The pieced borders came together quickly once I finished making the shoofly and square in a square blocks.  

I arranged them around the quilt and posed the "ladies" on my ladder since my clothesline is still broken and the deck is filled with snow.

Seeing the quilt "almost finished" put me in high gear, and within a day or two, I had added the remaining two borders. Although the quilt was supposed to finish at 76" square, I added some extra inches so it now finishes at 90" square.

I arranged it on the snow bank on the back deck but wasn't able to spread it all out, so took a few different pictures of it folded in various ways so you could see some of the fabrics and blocks.

Finally, I took a few pics inside on the bed to give you an idea of the size...

and a few more closeups just because...

This has really been a huge project for me and I am so excited to have finished it up. Sometime this week, we will travel to the LAQ to leave it in her capable hands as this quilt is much too large for me to even think about quilting by myself.

Now my sewing room is covered in blocks for another large quilt-in-the-making, Grandmother's Choice. I have started sewing the rows together...only 45 more blocks to go with all those triple sashed units and nine patches too...what was I thinking?

After this quilt is finished, it is time for some smaller projects. My sewing room and my house are just too small for these huge quilts!

It's a great day for quilting!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Grandmother's Choice Triple Sashing

A few years back I participated in Barbara Brachman's Grandmother's Choice-Votes for Women BOW. You can find out about it HERE and start your own quilt anytime! I used primarily reproduction fabrics from my stash, with a random mix of reds, blues, golds, greens, blacks, etc.  Actually, I guess I used just about every colour out there! 

Every block is different. Some blocks were easy as pie, some blocks were a bit challenging, and some blocks I changed to suit my taste. The result is a stack of blocks that have been waiting for me to start setting into a quilt.

Barbara suggested a setting for the quilt HERE and provided yardage and ideas. I took my time to decide on the setting since there were lots of wonderful ideas coming from Barbara and the other quilters that participated. Barbara showed many of the finished quilts and quilt tops on her blog, plus she set up a Flickr group HERE where quilters could post their pictures. I kept being drawn to the idea of using a scrappy triple sashing with the blocks set on point. I found a picture of a similar quilt and counted 49 nine-patch units and 117 triple sashing units, so guess what I have been doing lately?

I decided to go with reds/burgundies and creams. I bought a couple of dollar store baskets to hold the strips and off I went.

I have all the 9-patch units finished and have made 90 of the sashing units...definitely in the home stretch! 

In between all this, I have been sewing a few secret projects and just yesterday, during our sew day at the Civic Centre, I finished all the blocks I need for the pieced borders for my Downton Ladies quilt. We have yet another blizzard outside, so it's another perfect day to sew!

It's a great day for quilting!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snowman Santa and the Ladies

I found the perfect combination of my love for Santa with the popularity of snowmen- a "Snowman Santa" featured in a Moda Bunny Hill Winter Wonderland panel.  I purchased the panel awhile ago and put it aside until I could figure out how to use it. With this wintry weather, it seemed like the time to shovel it out from my stash, make some decisions, and turn it into a flimsy!

I cut up the panel into the square blocks, and at first, wasn't even going to use the longer strips. But how could I not use the Snowman Santa? I had an extra few courthouse step blocks and they fit wonderfully well with the longer panels. Here is a close up of the Snowman Santa that is flying over the top of the quilt...

I had a Moda honeybun that was gathering dust so I used the cream and red strips from it along with strips from my stash to make the courthouse steps blocks. 

The quilt measures 38" x 52", a perfect size for a cuddle quilt,featuring snowmen celebrating winter and Christmas. I'll be sure to have this one done for next Christmas!

I have been working diligently with my Downton Abbey ladies too! The next step is to make a pieced border using both shoofly and square in a square blocks. I swear I have every quilt-related gadget or gizmo ever invented, so rummaged around and pulled out my Marin and Colusa Stitching Lines papers to make my shoofly blocks. It did help speed up the process and it was much easier to sew a straight line!

Of course, a person can sew faster if a person does a whole bunch at a time...

I haven't finished all the blocks, but I definitely made a start!

It's a great day for quilting!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Little Letters and Country Charmer

Woodworker Hubby and I are going to be grandparents for the first time! On Christmas Eve, DD and SIL shared the news with us that they are going to have a baby in June! We are so thrilled for them and so happy that we will be joining the grandparents club!
So what is a quilter to do? Make a baby quilt, of course...

Little Letters, the quilt designed and featured as a free pattern by the Temecula Quilting Company, had been popping up all over blogland since the quiltalong began in the Fall. I had wistfully followed it's growth, letter by letter, wishing I had a little one to make it for. When the news of future grandbaby arrived, I knew this would be the first quilt...a Little Letters car seat/stroller quilt. After all, it is never too early to start to read, right? 

The Little Letters were so much fun to make, that I made two sets at once. For grandbaby, I wanted to make a quilt that would work for a boy or a girl so chose some bright prints bordered with mellow yellow and a luscious teal! Since Little Letters has been mailed out, we have found out that the baby is a boy. The second quilt for GBB (grand baby boy) is now in the making!

You know how much I love cross hatching, so this design was a given for the machine quilting.

I have been seeing minky fabric used on baby quilts, so I ordered some white minky from It is so soft and seems like the perfect backing for this baby cuddle quilt.

I had read some tips about working with Minky and found it was as easy as any other fabric to quilt with. After I cut the piece I needed for the backing, I put it in the dryer to air fluff and remove the little fuzzies that you get when you cut it. The finished quilt has since been washed and came out just great!

The quilt is about 35" x 39", a perfect size to use in the car seat, stroller, or as a play mat. I added ties to the quilt so it could be tied to the stroller or car seat if needed, adding an extra tie to the top as well. 

I learned about this method last year when I made Clover and Violet's Sophie's Car Seat quilt for a gift. 

Little Letters is now in its new home on the other side of the country, but I have a second one here to keep me company until it finds its new owners. 

For this quilt, I changed one of the borders to white and used a teal flannel backing.

I want to send a huge congratulations to our Country Charmer queen, Lynn Wilder, who blogs at Sew'n Wild Oaks. She is the featured quilter this week on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. There is a membership fee for The Quilt Show. You can pay for a one month trial subscription or pay for one year. 

I watched the video yesterday and was so impressed with Lynn's Taking the Fear out of Math session. She is a natural teacher and was so comfortable sharing her tips and techniques. As for her organization skills, wow...out of the park! 

Lynn also included a segment on Country Charmer and my heart soared. It is such a beautiful quilt and one of my all-time favorites. When we were making our quilts during the 2013 QAL, we were so fortunate to have Lynn helping us out all along the way. When my quilt top was finished, Lynn offered to quilt it for me. It travelled all the way to California and back, with huge thanks going to Lynn for her expertise and generosity. You might remember she put together a collage for me when she finished quilting it.

If you haven't made this quilt yet, it might be time to start. You can find the pattern HERELynn also has all kinds of helpful tips on her Country Charmer button HERE

My heart soared yet again while I was watching the video yesterday when she actually mentioned me by name on the show- Lesley, the Cuddle Quilter from Nova Scotia. How cool is that! Well, Lesley, The Cuddle Quilter from Nova Scotia, has been buried in snow for the last few days, watching blizzards rage outside from the comfort of my cosy sewing room. Today we might have to venture out as the cupboards are bare!

Until next time, it's a great day for quilting!