Friday, July 18, 2014

Make Things!

This summer I have taught quite a few Free Motion Quilting classes - they have been lots of fun, I have met some amazingly talented people and I have always learned something new too! Thanks to everyone who took one of my classes!!!

We have been taught to 'Practice, Practice, Practice', but I now realize for quilting it should be 'Make  Things, Make Things, Make Things!'

my first practice pieces from 2010
Typical practice pieces serve a purpose, but I believe that if you really want to improve your free motion quilting, you need to make something that is 'finished', and if you are lucky, serves a purpose (it might just be to try out a new FMQ design). There is something that happens in our minds (and hands) when we set out to make something.
I call these Purposeful Practice Pieces (another use for PPP).

People seem daunted by large quilts, so I recommend making small things - 

Pillows, mug rugs, table runners... are always useful, and make great gifts.

A couple of years ago I joined the Small Quilt Talk on Yahoo, so I tried all kinds of small quilts. Not only was it a great way to try different free motion quilting designs, but it was wonderful to step out of my comfort zone and experiment with different colours, layouts, etc for piecing the quilt tops. The above is a display in my sewing room.

My sewing room is full of quilts! They are on shelves, rolled in a bucket (behind the old spinning wheel), 

on the walls (I just use little straight pins to hang them on the wall), 

under wool that I have dyed (and waiting for spinning),

they are also used as shelf liners! There are all kinds of places to have quilts, and they have all served their purpose as practice pieces.

This one is in the laundry room (on an old wooden dry cleaning hanger), it is an 'orphan block' that I added a wide border to, so that I could try out a feathered heart quilt design.

practice pieces on the shelf

A good idea for Purposeful Practice Pieces is to cut a 12"-15" square/rectangle of plain fabric and try out a couple of quilting designs. I make a lot of these! I use a design concept from Cindy Needham, to 'Divide and Conquer' - just divide up the plain fabric into different areas and try out different FMQ designs.

Here is one that I am working on (it is cut from the back of an old silk blouse). I wanted to see what 'Cathedral Windows' would look like on a 30˚ grid instead of a 45˚ grid. I used some small dishes to draw around for the circles. I still have to fill in the other areas - just have to decide on what FMQ designs I want to try out.

The 'Designer Batting' idea is also from Cindy Needham - one layer of cotton batting on the bottom (for firmness) with half a layer of wool batting on the top (for puffiness) - these small pieces are leftover from larger quilts. Notice that the backing and batting is larger than the top, this way I have room for my hands when quilting. The backing is cut from an old cotton sheet - nothing fancy, but it all works great for practicing!

So Make Things, Make Things, Make Things!!

If any one is interested in taking my Beginner Free Motion Quilting Class and lives in the Winnipeg area, I will be teaching classes this fall at the Oak Bluff Community School (three Wednesday evenings in October) - more details to come!

I have been making others things since I last blogged (over a month ago!) - 

I did some spinning. I bought a high speed whorl for my spinning wheel to make finer yarns. This one is a three ply, fingering/sport weight yarn. Here is a link to my Ravelry project page for more details.

It started out as this fibre, it is silk and merino from Ashford. 

I made a hat (hopefully I won't need this for a long time!). The pattern is Lucy Hat. It was a lovely, quick knit. The yarn is hand dyed from Tanis Fiber Arts - her colours are amazing. Here is a link to my Ravelry project page for more details.

I also did some practical sewing (so rare for me!). I was given some nice, large down pillows, and since my family have been wanting floor cushions, these were perfect. I was going to turn the two pillows into one large square cushion, but that seemed like it would be too messy, so I made two covers from some fabric that I had inherited, maybe one day the two will become one.

I have also been spending a lot of time outside (the novelty of being able to just go outside with out putting on so many clothes is the best, and only lasts for a short time here).

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!♥︎

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ostrich Block of the Month

I finished my Ostrich Block of the Month a while ago, and thought that it was about time that I showed it off!

This BOM was organized by Myra (at Tactile Fabric) through a local quilt group. Thanks Myra! This was one of the most enjoyable projects I have ever made.

This was a BOM that before we started we all made suggestions for blocks, then each month one was picked. We were able to make the blocks and project any way we wanted to. It was called 'Ostrich' because we had the option of 'putting our head in the sand' one month, and not making the chosen block (I made every block suggestion).

They weren't necessarily blocks chosen each month, sometimes they were shapes -




Sometimes they were techniques - 


Seminole Patchwork

Paper Piecing 

But of course, there were blocks -

Churn Dash

Square in a Square

Flying Geese

Nine Patch

Piano Keys

Bow Tie

Dresden Plate

Plus this block - we were told to start the BOM with our choice of block -

I chose a large star. 
I originally thought I would make a medallion quilt, but I quickly realized that that style of quilt needed lots of planning.

Instead I made a bed runner to go on my anniversary whole cloth quilt. It is 23"x90". I used wool batting. I decided not to quilt any feathers on it (a real challenge for me), because it would be on a quilt with lots of feathers, so I tried quilting all different kinds of lines, continuous curves etc.

The last time I blogged there was snow on the ground, now the vegetable garden is planted and growing-

the flowers beds are doing well -

incredibly windy in the photo

And I have finished lots of projects -

I made a pillow using the HexnMore ruler (the small size hexagons and triangles) - it was made to go with my whole cloth quilt and is in the photo of my bed, behind the other pillows.

I pieced a Storm at Sea quilt top,

using this ruler by Creative Grids - it was such an easy quilt top to make. The blocks are 12", and I used fat quarters in two different colours. The top is 64"x78".

I have been practicing free motion quilting (practice, practice, practice!).

I have also been knitting -

I finished a lace scarf

and a pair of socks (the pattern is Skew from Knitty).

I made a couple of shawls - 

Sweet Dreams for a dear friend

and Out of Darkness, both Boo Knits (as well as the lace scarf above)

I spun some yarn,

to make some colour work 'glittens' (gloves with the fold over top).

Lots of catching up!

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hex N More Pillow

I recently purchased a Hex N More ruler by Jaybird Quilts.

There are lots of patterns available, and because the ruler is so well designed it is pretty easy to figure out what shapes you need to cut to make a design.

I was excited to try it out, and made a pillow.

For the 'flower', I used a fat quarter that I have had for a while, with a bold, directional stripe. I always find these prints hard to work with (and there always seems to be one in a FQ pack), this seemed to perfect opportunity to use it. I marked lines on the ruler to correspond to the fabric when I cut the 'jewels' out. The triangles and jewels were cut with the Hex N More ruler.

For the 'leaves' I used a regular ruler, and the 60º angle.

All the pieces went together so well - I pressed the seams in opposite directions which helped.

 I added a cut 1+1/2" border around the block.

The quilting was done with 100Wt thread and a #80 Microtex needle. I used a layer of cotton batting with half a layer of wool batting on the top (more on this further down).

 To make it into a pillow, I made the back piece with buttons and button holes.

I made the binding a bit wider than I usually do (cut 2+3/4" wide, folded in half), I find that this works best with the extra layer of the back piece. The pillow is 21" from point to point and 17" top to bottom. I used leftover bits of wool batting to stuff a pillow form that I made for the inside of the pillow.

Wool Batting

I love wool batting! Silk and wool batting are the only types of batting I use for bed and lap quilts.
I am strongly attached to Hobbs Tuscany Wool batting, but I was told that it was the same as Hobbs Heirloom Premium Wool batting - just different packaging. So I thought I would see-

They seemed different straight out of the package. Maybe because the Heirloom was really jammed in the bag.

The Heirloom was definitely thinner and stiffer.

They were both creased. The Tuscany wool creases usually can be smoothed out when I pin the layers together.

The Heirloom wool creases seemed really set in.

I tried steaming the Heirloom wool batting to see what would happen.

It made a huge difference! It puffed out a lot and became flat - that's the beauty of wool. After steaming my family couldn't tell the difference between the Tuscany and Heirloom.

I tried a different wool batting once, that I bought at a local fabric store off the roll. It was so disappointing! The wool bearded through. I have met lots of people since that have had the same problem with the wool batting from that store - that is why I stick to Hobbs.

It is wonderful to sleep under a wool quilt - it conforms to your body and seems to keep you at a perfect temperature, especially in summer. I also accidentally 'cooked' a quilt with wool batting in the dryer, it didn't shrink or change in any way.

I had a couple of questions yesterday about the 'half layer of wool on top of a layer of cotton batting' that I use for wall hangings etc.

Starting at a corner, 

gently pull the two layers apart.

A piece of wool batting will divide into two layers pretty easily. I place a half layer of wool on top of a piece of cotton batting.
This is a technique I learned from Cindy Needham. The cotton adds weight and stiffness, while the wool shows off quilting so nicely - the best of both fibres. The half layer of wool adds very little bulk.

This is a close up of a piece I made over a year ago (shown here), you can see the nice puffs the wool creates in the feathers.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!