Monday, July 21, 2014

Itsy-Bitsy, Teeny-Weeny, Yellow Polka-dot....

...half square triangle.

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While working on another project that will remain under wraps for a while yet, I decided to save my twofers (that's what I call the corner triangles that you cut off when doing stitch and flip triangles on the corner of larger squares or rectangles like snowballs or flying geese). These ones are very small, and I trimmed them up to 1 1/8" square after piecing them with their low-volume backgrounds.  

I'm in the market for a mini-quilt gift for a friend so I figured this made a good starting point. Without a real plan, I sewed the tiny half-squares together to create an on-point checkerboard. After that, 6" squares of low volume prints (including one of my old poppyprints) were added as a large border.

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I still had a little pile of the jewel tone scraps lying on my cutting mat, so thought about ways to use them on this border. I've been admiring a lot of applique on IG lately and have been thinking about a little project to have on hand for stitch sessions with friends.  I envisioned a curvy vine around the patchwork with some appliqued berries scattered around.  I dug out my late FIL's old Flexi-curve from his graphic design supplies (which we still keep in a rolling cart: french curves, circle and oval templates, T-squares, india ink, pigma pens, Lettraset...etc) and marked out the curve with a Frixion pen.

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I used this technique to machine applique the bias vine, matching the raw edges of the folded bias strip with the drawn line.  The 1" berries were prepared this way (except I used a thread spool and stamp pad to mark the circles on the fusible interfacing).  

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My next step is to fuse them to the background and have them all ready to stitch down at tonight's annual outdoor meeting of the VMQG.  I'm not sure where this mini-quilt is headed after that...but maybe someone will have an idea at tonight's meeting. That is the wonderful thing about stitching with friends: there is never a shortage of great ideas!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

The weather was hot, the beer was cold...

My skin has turned a golden brown, my shins are covered in an itchy red rash and I spent two days this week doing laundry. Yes, we are back from camping.

Winthrop-Pearrygin Lake 2014
Washington Pass lookout - spectacular!

Last week we ventured south to Bellingham, then east over the Washington Pass to find ourselves in Winthrop. A refurbished gold mining town that is picture perfect for a western movie set, or a Harley convention. There were tons of riders in the valley and parked in town, strolling in the 100 degree heat in their leather vests, chaps, beards and bandannas. You've got to give those guys & gals credit for commitment to the brand!

Winthrop-Pearrygin Lake 2014

Winthrop-Pearrygin Lake 2014

Ten families from our elementary school joined together and camped at Pearrygin Lake, a state park on a perfectly-sized little lake nestled in the grassland hills a few miles above the town. It was just my husband, daughter, her circus friend and I (our son is learning the ropes of construction with his uncle back east for 5 weeks).  We scored a great site; shady, right on the water and complete with nesting ducks who were sure to invite us to their breakfast party at 5:00 a.m. each morning.

Winthrop-Pearrygin Lake 2014

Winthrop-Pearrygin Lake 2014

Winthrop-Pearrygin Lake 2014

The days were filled with lots of activities including water sport fun; as one of the dads rented a little Sea-Do speed boat to pull the kids on tubes and a wakeboard.  Everyone in our very large group had a bicycle of some kind. There were the downhillers and cross-country riders seeking single track flowy trails through the grasslands and ponderosa pine forest, a few road riders (myself included) looking for quiet valley roads to tour, and kids who just had fun ripping around the campground.

Winthrop-Pearrygin Lake 2014

Our group of four departed one morning in search of inner tubes at the Winthrop Motors gas station - we'd heard it would be great fun spending a couple of hours floating down the Methow River that runs through town east to Twisp. We handed over our $20 each (and were assured our tubes would be purchased back for $5 if we returned them in PERFECT condition).  I don't have any photos of this adventure (no waterproof camera), but suffice it to say we had a ball for an hour and a half, froze our asses (literally. Like, completely numb in 5 minutes and remained that way for the following 85, which came in handy for the one or two times we bumped over the smooth river rocks), screamed a little in the rapidy parts, laughed a lot, held hands and hoped we wouldn't miss our landing place downstream.  This was a very 'local' experience, made even more so by the humourous advice we got while trying to figure out how to make the river float happen. At the gas station, the attendant told us "don't land at the KOA campground, they don't like it if you're not actually camping there. Instead, go further and park your car on the side of the road where the big pile of dirt used to be". Uhm, ok.  B left us girls at the starting place (the big red barn in town) and drove down the highway in search of the phantom pile of dirt beyond the KOA campground. Having no luck, he asked someone at the campground where to leave the car and they said "just keep driving down the highway until you get the place where the big pile of dirt used to be."  Seriously?  In the end, it all worked out and the lovely local Jennifer picked up my hitch-hiking husband and drove him right back to us at the starting point.

Later that afternoon we were told that the local outfitter wasn't running river float tours because the water was too high. Oops.

Winthrop-Pearrygin Lake 2014

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There are some things you just don't see in the city...

I'm pretty sure we're all in for returning next year. The road riding and mountain biking were fantastic (I managed one fun trail ride on a borrowed full-suspension bike and that's where the rash comes in - my legs are covered in tiny welts from riding through the dry grasses and shrubbery).  Despite the fact that it was over 100 F each day, the lake cooled us off, ice was plentiful in our coolers and there was a lovely old willow to shade our group at the beach.

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I hope we can get reservations during a full moon next summer. Camping under this super-moon, in warm and dry conditions with no tent fly required was truly dreamy.

Winthrop-Pearrygin Lake 2014

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sewing Space - the Details

The gals at Mad About Patchwork have started their great Sew Canadian blog tour of sewing spaces and I'm up first! You get a peek at how some of your fav Canuck bloggers have set themselves up to sew, and there is the bonus fun interview with everyone as well. I can tell you that I'm most curious about what everyone has named their sewing machines...and also what people listen to or watch while they sew.

Sew Canadian 

There is a linky for you to join in the fun and post photos of YOUR sewing space and everyone who shares will be entered to win a wonderful prize!

Poppyprint Headquarters - labelled
click on the photo if you need to see it larger in Flickr

I thought it would be fun to share a few more details here, in addition to my post on the tour.  I've added text labels to a couple of my photos to give you a better idea of just where everything goes.  I did tidy for these photos, people. Plus, I still have crap hanging out in the basement from when I swapped rooms with my daughter  a year and a half ago. I Just. Can't. Fit. It. All. into this 9' x 8' room with no closet. I'm not complaining because I feel extremely fortunate to have a room of my own in our relatively small home - I just want you to know that you're seeing the glamour version here.

Poppyprint Headquarters - labelled

A bit more info that's not labelled:
  • There are 4 interlocking industrial felt flooring tiles (purchased at the hardware store) under my rolling chair.
  • The table is an IKEA dining table with both leaves pulled out purchased in the "As Is" department due to some mystery scratch that we couldn't find.
  • The 9' wall opposite the window is covered in two 4'-wide, 6' high insulation boards wrapped in batting that I nailed right into the drywall with 2" nails. This is my design wall and I am in love with it.


Poppyprint Headquarters
Yes, that's a chandelier! It's leftover from this being D's bedroom, but I can't think of a good reason to change it out for a different fixture, so it's staying.
  • The ceiling is vaulted on a slope (we have a 12-12 roofline, very steep!), so I have some high up wall space perfect for displaying minis I have received in swaps, or made myself.
  • Behind my rolling Stanley cart on the bottom shelf is my Go!Baby and dies.
  • While I have that big thread rack, there are also two boxes of thread stacked on top of the plastic drawer unit that holds my scraps.
  • I love saving and displaying cute postcards, business cards and notes from friends on my windowsill, or stuck on my wall with washi tape.
I love my little sewing room and I'm happy to share it with you! Feel free to ask me if you're still curious about anything.

Here's the schedule of sewing rooms to see:
July 6th – Patti @Retired to Quilt and Krista @Poppyprint
July 13th – Dominique @The Running Thimble and Cinzia @Deux Petites Souris
July 20th – Anita @Daydreams of Quilts and Lorna @Sew Fresh Quilts
July 27th – Shena @Apple Pie Patchwork and Katherine @Sew Me Something Good
August 3rd – Felicity @Felicity Quilts and Josee @The Charming Needle
August 10th – Janet @What Comes Next and M-R @Quilt Matters
August 17th – Erica @Happy Fabric, Jacqui @Treadle Quilts and Adrienne @Chezzetcook Modern Quilts
August 24th – Leanne @She Can Quilt and Jaclyn @Jaclyn Quilts
August 31st – Pam @Mad About Patchwork and Laura @Waffle Kisses

Monday, June 30, 2014

Where the Magic Happens

The lovely ladies at Mad About Patchwork have invited me on their summer tour of Canadian studios. I will let you know when the schedule is posted so you can follow along and see where many of your favourite bloggers spend their days (and nights!) creating.  In the meantime, you might want to check out their shop (located just outside Ottawa in the town of Stittsville where I used to roam the famous Flea Market on weekends when I was a teenager). They've got some fabulous fabrics on clearance and they are taking pre-orders for Cotton and Steel or the Far, Far Away reprint coming in August!

It's a beautiful, sunny Monday here in Vancouver and I've just finished photographing my sewing room for the tour. I freely admit to tidying up for the photo shoot.

Poppyprint Headquarters

I'll write a more extensive post explaining how I store my fabric, notions, scraps, tools and more during the blog tour, but for now here's the view into my sewing room from our hallway. Hope to see you back for more soon!

Monday, June 2, 2014

An Island Class

On Mother's Day weekend our son T participated in a rowing regatta on Vancouver Island. The weather was perfect and the kids had a great time at Shawnigan Lake. On the Saturday, I had a great time teaching a workshop for the Modern Quilt Guild of Victoria! I didn't realize that it was the guild's first formal workshop.  I gave them a couple of class options to choose from and they chose the 241 Bag, which is always a fun one to teach.

241 Bag Sample

People love to customize Anna's pattern and I've made so many of these bags that I'm able to work with students individually to support whatever combinations of pockets and zippers they choose.  I love seeing all of the different fabric combinations that people come up with!  For one of my class samples I paired one of my all-time favourite prints, Martha Negley Farmington feathers, with Essex yarn-dyed linen in steel.  The two look gorgeous together.

241 Bag Sample

I always like to include a fun surprise inside zipper pockets. These ones have a pop of Lizzy House pearl bracelets and I used Joel Dewberry Deer Valley rustic dots for the inside slip pocket on a lining of shirting stripes.

Summer 241 Bag Sample

The topstitching on the handle was done with a variegated Aurifil 28 wt thread that runs grey to light blue.

Summer 241 Bag Sample

I love this bag, but I think I'll include it in the items I'll be selling at the quilt show boutique later this month.  My other sample has side pockets in lieu of the slash zips, but it's not quite complete yet!

It was really fun to meet an entire classroom of enthusiastic tote-makers; for some this was their first ever tote or purse construction.  The guild president Nicole coordinated the workshop, participated AND brought a delicious lemon cake to celebrate her birthday the following day (Mother's Day!!).   

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Here are some of the bags at the end of class.

Thank you so much MQG Victoria - I love my super cool guild button (with killer logo designed by Berene!).  Thanks also to my lovely friend Lise-Lotte who not only hosted B and I, but joined the guild and came to the workshop, too.  It really was the best weekend. I love Victoria and can't wait to go back!

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

With Thanks

Last night I received an email from Amy Ellis, of the Blogger's Quilt Festival, that made my heart do a little dance. Truly it did. Reading the words "you won" whether it's a giveaway for a pin cushion, the 100 m dash in elementary school, or the ROYGBIV category of the Blogger's Quilt Festival, feels like a million dollar lottery win to me. It was such a wonderful surprise.  I will really enjoy perusing Jackie's lovely shop with my gift certificate prize! I think some of the new Kaffe Fassett collection may be calling my name.

Scrappy Sprouts for Deanna

The best part? I feel like every time someone even looks at this photograph, there is a little bit of love, a dash of hope and a kind thought sent Deanna's way. She needs it. She needs it all.

Have a look at the Festival winners - my real life friends Leanne and Janet each won for their outstanding entries as well! Leanne's scrappy strip quilt is so beautiful and she's got a great tutorial posted so you can make one yourself. Janet is a fellow VMQG member and is an inspiring machine quilter who works some serious thread magic on her domestic machines (she won the domestic quilting ribbon at the Canadian National Juried Show last year!). Congratulations friends!! xo

I've spent this entire past week quilting in circles. Literally. I have lots to share; my challenge is finding the time to take a break, take photographs and sit down to write. My traditional guild's bi-annual show is in 13 days and I've got so much to do!! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Very Special Delivery - Blogger's Quilt Festival

Welcome to my Bloggers Quilt Festival post!  Some of you may recognize this quilt I've chosen to share in the ROYGBIV category because a very similar one made by Tracey and her friends was featured in the festival last year! I sent Tracey a block for her quilt and it became my inspiration - not only the design, but also the sentiment - for this quilt.

I had the great pleasure of delivering this beautiful quilt to a very special person earlier this week.

Scrappy Sprouts for Deanna

This is what I've been busy with over the past 5 weeks, with regular updates on Instagram. A mom in our school community received the worst possible news while on vacation with her family in March. She has a long road ahead to regain her health and she needs to know that we are with her all the way.  There was a sense of urgency to get a quilt around her brave shoulders, so I put out a call to my retreat customers and fellow members of the VMQG to help.  They responded as quilters do: with generosity and grace.

I also organized several sewing days around my dining table for mothers and friends in our community so that they could learn how to piece a scrappy sprouts block and put their love and strength into this gift as well. Several women had never sewn before and others hadn't touched a machine in years, but they patiently laid out their blocks and carefully sewed the patches together for their dear friend.  I had pre-cut squares and pre-pieced half square triangles from my stash ready for them to select.

Scrappy Sprouts for Deanna

In the end I was overwhelmed with the number of sprouts blocks that came in. I couldn't bear not to use every single one, so there's a lovely stalk of them holding up the back. Piecing 74 blocks made by over 30 different people has it's challenges but I was determined to let this project come together peacefully. This isn't perfection of technique, but it is absolutely perfect.  In the final layout, a vertical sashing between the columns and a slight offset of each stalk of sprouts keeps things interesting and hides the subtle size differences in the blocks.

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A sweet purple Dresden just for Deanna - the four full stalks of sprouts represent her incredibly supportive husband and their three amazing boys.

The VMQG retreat over the first weekend in May was my opportunity to assemble the top and backing, sandwich this 78" x 82" quilt and complete the quilting.  It's quilted with an all-over swirly and looping meander using a gorgeous variegated Aurifil 28 wt in pale yellow/cream/lilac. The backing fabric is a Michael Miller print called Old Script with lilac-coloured cursive text.  It's bound with a V & Co. Color Me Happy green bead stripe cut on the bias, plus a little strip of purple Lizzy House pearl bracelets around the lower left corner. I used 3 strands of coordinating lilac embroidery floss to blanket-stitch the label on.

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There's just something extra-special about this sweet sprout block that makes it the perfect choice for a group-effort comfort quilt.  I send a heartfelt hug and thanks to Tracey for allowing me to share her mini-tute for the sprouts block, and the same to every woman who had a hand in the making of this quilt. 

This quilt is so cheerful and full of hope; it is made with love and just plain feel-good vibes.    I know it's already working wonders.

Visit the festival at Amy's Creative Side and have a look through the festival links to see hundreds of amazing quilts made all over the world! Amy does an incredible amount of work organizing sponsors, categories and voting twice a year - it truly is the biggest quilt show online! Thank you Amy!

Spring '14 Blogger's Quilt Festival - AmysCreativeSide.com