Monday, April 27, 2015

Macarons in Spring Bloom

Hello and welcome to the Spring Bloom Blog Hop!! I've only just met Amanda Caronia, the talented designer behind Spring Bloom, but already I know she's going to make a splash in fabric design. Her bright, colourful and fresh palette are a welcome sight for spring.  Read on to find out how you could win a FQ stack of Spring Bloom to play with!

Spring Bloom Macarons by Poppyprint

In my quest to make every contributor's project in my book, I decided to sew up a delicious Macaron Quilt with Amanda's fabric. Christina's quilt design is really interesting; there are no blocks in this quilt. The macaron shapes are pieced right into a long strip of background fabric that has been cut like a hunk of swiss cheese. Once all the cutting prep was complete, I could not believe how fast this generous lap-sized quilt sewed up!  I didn't pin any of the curves. I don't do tons of curved piecing, but when I do, I follow this awesome video tutorial by my friend Leanne. It works like a charm for 1/4 circles and these 1/2 oval macaron shapes.

Spring Bloom fabrics by Amanda Coronia for Windham

As my deadline for today was approaching, I needed to figure out quilting designs. I considered vertical wavy lines right across the quilt using my machine's triple zig zag stitch set wide and long. I considered an art-deco pattern that was a combination of straight lines up the middle of the macarons and curved back down around them, echoing the shapes in thread colours that matched the fabrics. Finally, I considered FMQ my recent standard of all-over looping meanders.  Then I had a little chat with myself that turned into a pep talk ( I'd been convincing myself I wasn't able to do all that negative space justice with my out-of-practice FMQ skills).

I had another look at Amanda's fabric to see if there were some shapes I could adopt for quilting. I grabbed some old practice quilt sandwiches from a previous class (and said, hey, you did a great job on these practice designs, just get busy and go for it!). Seriously, I did have to pull on my big girl panties and just GO!

Spring Bloom Macarons by Poppyprint
The flowers in this print inspired my petalled paisley quilting.

The first thing I did was define the vertical columns between the macarons with a stitch in the ditch of the seam and then a line 1/4" away. Between these lines, I did a loopy back and forth thingy that I've always liked - I think it looks great in a long narrow space and on this quilt, sort of like the delicious cream filling for the macarons!  Everywhere else in the negative space I quilted a sort of petalled paisley shape.  In spots where I needed to fill to the edges, I went around with a second row of petals here and there. For now the macarons are not quilted. I'm contemplating a handstitch with coordinating perle cotton about 1/2" inside each macaron (what do you think about that?).

Spring Bloom Macarons by Poppyprint

All of the quilting was done in one long day at Quilt By the Bay on Saturday. I think my Pfaff was running for about 8 hours!  I'm so glad I went for it. It's just been ages since I filled so much negative space with FMQ and to be honest, I've seen so much incredible work from talented long-armers, that I had psyched myself out.  I'm happy to say that this finish has renewed my confidence, so yay!

Spring Bloom Macarons by Poppyprint

Amanda's fabric makes the prettiest macaron's don't you think? Strawberry, lemon, blueberry, pistachio and raspberry flavours come to mind.  There have been so many pretty makes with this line already. Check out the other stops on the tour to see some adorable little dresses, colourful quilts, pillows and bags. I'm excited to see Felicity's quilt tomorrow and was super impressed by Cindy's cool idea from yesterday!

If you'd like a chance to win a FQ stack of Spring Bloom, leave ONE comment here (your comment must contain your email address, or link to your email to win). I'll choose a random winner  on Thursday at 10:00 p.m. PST. Good luck!!

Thank you so much for sharing your lovely fabric, Amanda and Windham!


April 23 Jessica Darling

May 2 Bella Caronia Blog That’s a Wrap

Monday, April 20, 2015

Arctic Quilting - a Northern Photo Essay

It's a thing!  Really!

Last fall I received the kindest invitation from the Inuvik Quilting Guild to come visit them for a lecture and two day workshop. This was a major thrill for me as I love the north, but haven't had a chance to visit the Yukon or Northwest Territories since I worked there as a geologist in the late 80's and early 90's.  I didn't hesitate to accept the invitation for a March visit.  After seeing Cheryl's blogposts from her trip last year, I knew it was an incredible opportunity that I didn't want to miss!  Plus we were completely ripped off winter-weather-wise in Vancouver this year and I was anxious to feel the cold in my lungs. The lure of seeing northern lights was pretty strong, too (I'll tell you right now that it was just my luck the BEST lights of the past 10 years appeared the week before I got up north and it was cloudy at night during my visit, so no dice on the northern lights this time).

Whitehorse, YT stopover
The mighty Yukon River in Whitehorse, YT.

Whitehorse, YT stopover
The S.S.Klondike paddlewheeler museum vessel, Whitehorse, YT.

As luck would have it, my journey required an overnight stay in Whitehorse, YT.  I loved that town in the 80's and it hasn't changed that much (at least the downtown). I enjoyed Main St. shopping and meeting the lovely Viv, who I've known online for several years through blogging. She was teaching a course that night at the impressive Bear's Paw Quilt Shop and invited me to stop in and meet her students. I just love the shop tag line: Compassionate care for the quilt addicted.

Here's some reference material for you. Previously, Norman Wells was the furthest  north I'd been for some permafrost slope stability research in '90 and '91.

The next morning, I caught an Air North flight that would take me to Inuvik, via Dawson City and Old Crow. The twin prop Hawker Siddeley airplane refueled at each stop, so passengers have to get off, walk across the runway and wait in the little airports for about 20 minutes before taking off again. The air hostess wears a jumpsuit and parka on this flight!  It was a gorgeous day for flying, with clear blue skies and exceptional views.

The snow-covered airstrip at Dawson City, YT.

Aerial view of dredging piles outside Dawson City, YT
My very first field job in '88 was out this way near Dawson City...these are the tailings piles of huge dredging machines that dug up the Kondike River bed searching for gold. They look much prettier covered in snow!

Next stop, Old Crow, where the luggage is literally man-handled and your taxi is more than likely a snowmobile.

I arrived in Inuvik by mid-day to a very busy airport and town. It was the first day of the annual Muskrat Jamboree! This is a celebration held in many northern communities. In Inuvik it marks the migration of the domestic reindeer herd to their summer grounds (in the '50's, the Canadian government was worried the northern people were going to run out of caribou, so they imported a reindeer herd from Scandinavia that is still going strong).  Other events over the weekend included snowmobile racing, dog sled races, dancing, tea-brewing (contestants have to light a fire and boil water with no more than 10 matches), needle and thread (teams of 1 man and 1 woman run to meet each other and thread a needle), hammer and nail, log sawing and yes, muskrat skinning.  All of the activities took place either on the frozen Mackenzie River ice road or at the beautiful new school gymnasium.  Thanks to my generous host Shona, I was able to catch several activities during our workshop lunch break and in the evenings.

Inuvik, NWT
Inuvik's main street

The famous Catholic Igloo Church

Inuvialuit drum dancers in Inuvik, NWT
I was fortunate to see the amazing Inuvialuit Drum Dancing group perform (performers range in age from 3 to 92!). There is a video in my Instagram feed you can watch.

Inuvik, NWT March 2015
The start line of the women's open snowmobile race

Inuvik, NWT March 2015
This was where the action took place on the edge of the ice road:
 food tents and some of the competitions

Inuvik, NWT March 2015
The ladies were very serious about the hammering contest. You have to completely drive a nail with your left AND right hand. The woman in the black jacket won!

Here I am trying an "Eskimo donut". Shona made me.

So now you've got a bit of an idea of what was going on all around while I was in town. Now to the quilting!  It was a busy weekend for family activities, so I was very happy that 8 members of the guild were keen to spend Friday night, Saturday and Sunday learning about modern quilting, improv piecing and improv straight line quilting. On Friday I gave a brief lecture and trunk show of some of my work and projects from Make It, Take It. Then we had a look at fabrics and finalized selections so that people could get cutting so they'd be ready to go the next morning. Everyone worked on their own versions of my Temperature Check quilt. This workshop is so much fun to teach  - I just love to see how different student's colour choices play out as the quilt is constructed.

This is a pillow cover I put together over the weekend to illustrate a different option/design for piecing the wonky borders together.

Megan brought very similar colours to class. We all loved her curving checkerboard!

Inuvik, NWT March 2015
Linda, Sara, Joanne, Bev, Arlene, Jody, Shona and Megan show off their work. Bev decided to make a tablerunner and placemats! Shona used her hand dyed fabric which was beautiful. 

The ladies also shared some stunning traditional beadwork on slippers, mukluks and a scissor keeper (that included moose hair tufting).

Beadwork on moosehide with beaver fur accent.
 (mukluks made by Judy Lafferty from Ft. Good Hope, NWT)

moosehide scissor keeper featuring Caribou hair tufted flowers.
 Made by Lillian Wright from Inuvik, NWT.

The guild gifted me this stunning beaded moosehide brooch that I will cherish! It smells like campfire from the natural tanning process and I absolutely love it.
The beading is exquisite (also by Judy Lafferty).

The entire weekend was incredible and I'm so thankful for the opportunity - I made some new friends and had many new experiences (on Saturday night we played bingo by television. You call in when you win!). My trip was made possible by a Northern Arts Council Grant, for which I'm very appreciative.  I'll leave you with a few more photos....

Inuvik, NWT March 2015
The municipal office where I picked up my Arctic Traveller Certificate.

All of the water pipes have to run above ground from building to building due to permafrost. This affects the roads in town (see the stairs & bridge over the conduit?), so sometimes you have to drive an extra block before you cross into the next street.

Taken for all my quilting librarian friends. The head librarian, Bev, was in my class!

It was a perfect -18 C

Inuvik, NWT March 2015
I went in an igloo! For reals! No one is actually using this igloo, it was built for the Sunrise Festival welcoming back the sun on January 7th after a month of total darkness.

Inuvik, NWT March 2015
A sled team truck.

Inuvik, NWT March 2015
Traffic jam on the ice road as people come back to town after the ski-doo races in time for bingo! It was a $20,000 jackpot, after all.

Inuvik, NWT March 2015
Two things you don't see often: a transport truck driving on a frozen river ice road and a Coast Guard ship high and dry on the shore.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Canada's far north! The main thing you need to know is that quilting is alive and well a few degrees above the Arctic Circle; there are about 50 members of the guild (Inuvik has a population around 3300).  Everyone was so warm-hearted and welcoming. Every person I passed on the street smiled or said a greeting. I love northern community.

Inuvik is a completely government-planned town which was surveyed and established in the 1950's after repeated annual flooding and erosion of the traditional settlement of Iklavik in the delta. You can read more about the town and the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit first peoples of the Beaufort-Mackenzie Delta here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Quilt Lovely - An Interview with Jen Kingwell

You all know Jen Kingwell's patterns: The Circle Game, Steampunk, Chain Reaction, Gypsy Wife and more. Her work is very recognizable for her inspired use of multitude prints and detailed piecing. Although I own several patterns, having won them at the Fat Quarterly Retreat in 2013, I have yet to tackle any. The closest I've come is borrowing a set of templates for Steam Punk!

When given the opportunity to take a peek at Jen's first ever book, I jumped at the chance. She's a quilter I greatly admire.  Imagine my delight when I found out I could interview Jen for this blogpost - yay! I did a little research online and learned a bit more about Jen's style and technique by watching these great videos filmed recently by the Fat Quarter Shop at QuiltCon. I follow Jen on Instagram so I knew that she'd recently returned home to Australia, and her quilt shop Amitie Textiles, after living in the Middle East for a couple of years.  The Nosy Parker in me really just wanted to know how she managed to stay creative while isolated from her shop, her people and her home!

Mrs. Bannister's Stars, from Quilt Lovely by Jen Kingwell

Krista: Congratulations on your gorgeous fabric line Gardenvale and inspiring book Quilt Lovely, Jen! Both are firsts for you and seemed to have happened around the same time. Did your design work require a lot of discipline and planning to keep on schedule? Did you start out knowing you'd spend your time in the Middle East working on the book?

Jen: Thank you Krista. I'm really happy with both. I had no idea the path I was going down. Sometimes ignorance is bliss! I had to be very disciplined( not my greatest strength). After I had decided what I was doing I did set a schedule and I worked to that. I think for me that was the hardest thing. I'm an organic designer and quite often things start with a very loose idea and just grow. I frequently fall out of love with things as I go along and they have a rest in a drawer or the bottom of the cupboard but with the book I didn't have time to change my mind. Maybe that was a good thing but it hadn't stuck as I've just sidelined something I'm not happy with this week!

Krista: You've owned Amitie quilt shop for 15 years and been immersed in quilting through teaching, selling fabric, designing patterns and running the business. How did the past 2 years living in the UAE affect your quilting?

Jen: I would never have embarked on the book and fabric range if I was in Australia. Always so busy with "things". I had the luxury of time in Al Ain. The first year we were there we lived in a hotel. I didn't even make the bed! So spoilt. I stitched from day light to dark. It's always inspiring to be surrounded by new things. I think the colours of the desert will be popping up in a few projects in the future.

Flea Market Dash from Quilt Lovely by Jen Kingwell

Krista: Much of my own quilting experience and joy is shared with others through participation in my guilds and retreats. I've seen stunning examples of hand work shared online by Middle Eastern women. Did you work alone while in the UAE, or were you able to connect at all with other like-minded expats or local women?

Jen: I worked alone. We lived in an area where there were not a lot of expat women. Most who were there worked. It was a very "local" city and ladies in the UAE to my knowledge are not so interested in handcraft as in other parts of the Middle East. I did join the Abu Dhabi quilt guild and there were a few local ladies in the guild. The highlight of my week was to drive to Abu Dhabi to stitch with my little group, a mixed bunch! All from the UK and Scotland. These women were my lifesavers. They had all lived there for quite a while and advised me on all things UAE! More laughing and eating was done than stitching. It was so worth the 3 hour round trip.

Krista: I really enjoyed listening to you and learning from your experience while watching the Fat Quarter Shop videos you filmed recently at QuiltCon. Now that you are home in Australia, will you be teaching regularly? Is teaching a passion of yours?

Jen: I had such a great day with the Fat Quarter shop team. I will be teaching quite a bit this year both here in Australia and overseas. I really enjoy meeting so many great people as I travel and I always seem to learn as much from them as them from me I think.

For the Boys from Quilt Lovely by Jen Kingwell

Krista: There is a certain vibrant, scrappy aesthetic in the work of many Aussie quiltmakers that I recognize and have always admired. What do you think is the main influence for this common approach in Australian quilt design?

Jen: Our quilting community is small here in Australia. Our quilting stores are smaller also and many years ago before online stores you could only purchase what your quilt stores carried. Store owners didn't have the luxury of space to stock whole ranges so you "chose" your collection. A mixed bag of fabrics and I think many of us have grown up and developed this as our style.

Krista: The online quilting world moves quickly and there is often a feeling of urgency to make quilts and move on to the next thing. The beautiful quilts in your book are a wonderful reminder that patience pays off in the form of heirloom quilts - you even hand quilted your work instead of having everything longarmed in a hurry. What advice can you give to people in the 'just get it done' mindset about the value of slowing down?

Jen: I love this question. When I sit down to hand stitch it's like an enormous exhale for me. I swear I can feel my blood pressure lowering. I started to hand stitch many years ago when my girls were small. I'm a midwife by trade and worked, so in the evenings I wanted to sit with the family and share the days news.....the sewing machine was never appreciated! So hand stitching it was and I just loved it. It's easy, very cost effective as you need little equipment and it's very sociable.

I also love the " quiet" of hand stitching. A comfy chair, your favourite music and a window, needle, thread and fabric. That's all you need. It's hard to put into words the joy I get from hand stitching in particular hand quilting. It's like " meditation".

Thank you for kindly answering all of my questions, Jen!

Jen's fabric line Gardenvale is available now as precuts and I think shops are receiving yardage as soon as next week.  It is truly a scrap quilter's dream fabric range and I look forward to adding some to my stash as a way to expand into more floral and blender fabrics. I love that the line is named for the location of Jen's shop in Melbourne - how perfect!

Hocus Pocus Fat Quarter Bundle Deb Grogan for RJR Fabrics

When I receive a new book, I immediately skip all the pre-amble and head straight to the project photos. I love the matte finish paper in Quilt Lovely and the gorgeous photos of the quilts out in the real world.  I did take the time to read Jen's Appendices to learn more about her thoughts on value, colour and scale. She's got great advice at the back of this book.  There are several pillow and quilt patterns that are immediately do-able for the intermediate (or confident beginner) quilter. However, with rather a lot of travelling in my future, I am contemplating a slow hand-piecing project instead. I don't do "quiet sitting" very well (my elementary school report cards will back me up here), but if I'm trapped on an airplane I might as well be productive. Sometimes it is a good idea to bust out and try a challenge. I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Power Nap

Here's my latest finish: Power Nap.

Power Nap by Poppyprint

This quilt was constructed using the fun Quilt As You Go (QAYG) method. It is mostly made of upcycled old work shirts of B's, some linen, chambray and a few shirt-stripe scraps from my bins. I thought it would be fun to add the red in the centre of the log-cabinish blocks as the "power tie" to the shirts.

Power Nap by Poppyprint
I even left a cuff button on - can you see it? I sewed the placket closed before piecing that sleeve into the block.

Marianne Haak visited the VMQG and gave us a trunk show and workshop. She is definitely the most experienced person I know using the QAYG method. Check her blog for detailed tutorials on every step of the process and admire her gallery of quilts. If you want to create a large quilt on a small machine, then this is a great way to go.  All of the blocks are quilted individually, squared up, then joined with strips. If you are creative with your piecing and plan a little bit, you can hide your joining strips very well!  I used skinny strips to join the blocks into 3 rows, then wider strips (stuffed with a strip of batting) to join the rows and elongate the quilt a little bit so that it wasn't perfectly square. It ended up about 58" x 62".

Power Nap by Poppyprint

The first two blocks that I built in the class were very random and improv. I made a few more like that and then decided to make corner blocks in a more traditional dark/light log cabin. I like to organize my chaos a little bit ; )  All of the blocks were quilted with Aurifil 40wt thread in cherry red. Most of them have a spiral, but one I quilted with straight lines. I didn't like how the straight lines were pulling and distorting the stripes in the shirt fabrics, though, so I went back to spirals.

Power Nap by Poppyprint

Our friend, neighbour and investment guru turned 50 last weekend and his wife threw him a great party that we really enjoyed. There were strict instructions for no gifts, but I'd already decided to give him this quilt after discovering he likes to take a power nap at his office most afternoons. That's why I called it Power Nap instead of my original idea of Power Tie.  It is always a little nerve-wrecking giving a quilt away, especially to a guy. I took it over the next day in time for him to spend the afternoon on the couch watching the Masters. Luckily he not only loves it, but he also appreciates the time and effort that has gone into it. Win!

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Supertote for Superknitter

Ever have that feeling that you're being watched? Ever since my Mom figured out how Instagram works, I've had to clean up my act, haha. When B and I travelled to Italy last fall and my parents stayed here to keep the kids alive, my mom was all like "hey, how can you see pictures of the trip?" to our kids.  A few days into our travels, I got a notification on my iphone home screen: SUPERKNITTER is now following you. I instantly knew it was my mom (after all, she is Superknitter) and I laughed. She loves that she can keep an eye on her kids and grandchildren now. It's super cute because she leaves very sweet comments on all of our photos.

MG Supertote by Poppyprint

I made her a Supertote a few years ago, but because she carries everything and a kitchen sink with her everywhere she goes, a new one was required. She and my dad cruise around in a classic white MG convertible (that she gave him for their 25 wedding anniversary, and in which he drove me down the driveway to my front yard wedding ceremony).  They are part of a fun MG club that has organized drives a few times per year to various small towns and car shows. For ages she's been searching for MG-themed fabric and finally someone designed one on Spoonflower!

MG Supertote by Poppyprint

Now Superknitter can knit in style at the show 'n shines. Did you know at the big rallies they not only give trophies for cars, but last year she won a crafting award for a gorgeous cross stitch she did of their car (I'll try and get a photo to share)?  I used fusible fleece for interfacing this time to give the tote extra body. I also top-stitched and stay-stitched the handles like crazy so they wouldn't rip away from the bag. Those kitchen sinks are heavy!

MG Supertote by Poppyprint

I thought I might as well have fun and included the measuring tape fabric so that the tote didn't become too car-ish. After all, it will contain everything from hand quilting to knitting to cross stitch at some point. I used darker linen this time to help keep the bottom of the bag from showing too much dirt as I know it has to travel on the floor of the car at Mom's feet.

MG Supertote by Poppyprint
I just put elasticized pockets on one side and regular pockets on the other.

This is truly a Super Tote and I've been lugging mine everywhere, including to QuiltCon, London and Inuvik! It holds a ton of stuff and is really comfortable to carry. If you'd like to make one, get the pattern from the lovely Anna Graham of Noodlehead here.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Three More Exciting Stops!

Thanks for everyone following along the Make It, Take It blog tour this week. There have already been a few lucky winners and there are still a few chances for more free copies of the book.

I had the good fortune of an invitation to speak to the Whistler Quilt Guild last Tuesday night. I shared a presentation on Modern Quilting, showed several of my quilts as examples and then shared all of the projects from the book. I had a lovely evening with the friendly women of the guild and was thrilled that they gave me a bonus free lift ticket for the next day!  It was my first day on the slopes in two seasons and it felt great to feel the quads burn again.  Thank you to my friend (and retreat regular) Ellen and her boys for a lovely day and delicious lunch.

Spring skiing under Bluebird skies, Whistler, BC

With all those mountain views on my mind and fresh air in my lungs, I forgot to post about the tour stops that day!! Tuesday featured projects from two of the loveliest friends I have through quilting, Leanne and Felicity. All of us have had the pleasure of hanging out together in Vancouver last time Leanne came to town on business. In fact, Leanne's trip happily coincided with both of my guild meetings that week so she came along twice!  Leanne was also witness to my first real-life encounter with Liberty of London fabrics IN LONDON (luckily she didn't have to catch me while I *almost* fainted). Read all about Leanne's unique project in the book, Half Moon Needlecase, here. It combines two of her favourite things: improv and matchstick quilting. While I was in Whistler, Ellen was excited to show me a 1/4 page ad in the latest Fons & Porter magazine featuring this project!!

Felicity is a super fun local quilting pal and the co-president of the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild. She's an excellent public speaker and very entertaining meeting host!  A couple of years ago, while sitting with Felicity at our  meeting, I noticed she was busy tacking down a binding on some interesting placemats. I offered to help out and while I was sewing a lightbulb went off. These would be a wonderful retreat project for my book! Her woven strip technique is so great; you could adapt this process to make a quilted base for so many things, like a table runner, tote bag or low-volume background for an applique quilt.  It's hard to find a great placemat pattern for a round table, so I'm stoked there is one in Make It, Take It!! I was loving the styling of this picture at the photoshoot (Yes, I devoured those raspberries and, uhm, I may have brought that candy with me for the long drive home from Seattle).

Martingale - Make It, Take It (Print version + eBook bundle)
Photo: Brent Kane, Martingale Inc, all rights reserved.

Felicity also spent a fun afternoon at my dining table testing the Rainbow 'Round the Cabin group-quilting activity in the book.

Also joining in today is the sweet Ayumi of Pink Penguin.  I can't remember our initial online meeting but I know it was early on in my blog-following life. I was lucky to discover Ayumi's blog and all of her incredible free tutorials, many of which I've made over the years. She's an extremely generous designer who's aesthetic I admire greatly (check out HER amazing book) .  I have hopeful plans to visit her in Japan one day so that she can be my personal guide at the Tokyo Festival of Quilts. It was no surprise that her projects made the cover of the book (and the cover of Martingale's trade magazine released last November) as they were an instant hit with the staff at Martingale. I think the Big and Little Totes will be made and enjoyed by everyone who has the book. I used Ayumi's very own recently-released Lighthearted fabric (for Kokka) to make my version of the Little Tote.  Check out Ayumi's post and enter to win a digital copy of the book here.

Almost there, folks. The tour wraps up tomorrow with Christina and Kristie. Soon it will be your turn to show us all the great projects you've made from the book!