Friday, February 23, 2018

Project Updates and News

It's time for updates on some ongoing projects.


I was busy working on free motion quilting after my holidays, but then got attacked by a nasty flue bug and was out for the count. After a week of only reading cozy-mystery novels, I was finally able to work on my hexies.

Progress on my Hexie Runner
I attached the last two flowers and am now working on the white border. I think that it's long enough because I'm now tired of working on it 😊 I will be finishing the piece in the same way as my last hexie project. That will take a while to do, but is totally worth it!

Hexie flower table topper
Finished back of the tat
I also have a few hexie flowers left, so I'll have to work these into another project, eventually!

"Not playing the supporting role!" quilt
Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

I finally felt well enough to do a little bit of FMQ on my "Not playing the supporting role!" quilt.

I haven't been able to do anything that's too complicated. I am very happy with my rudbeckias. These come from Muv's free motion quilting videos (see Related Links below).
Rudbeckias and swirling leaves

I'm really enjoying "sort of following" the fabric design such as the swirling leaves above. I find that I don't need to be very accurate, that it's more about the flow of the quilting, at least for that fabric.

A solid fabric block means that I can play with swirls, paisleys and lots of echoing. That was a lot of fun.
Swirls, paisleys and echoing
I like using the fabric as a guide for deciding on what to quilt. Since these are full of squarish orange spaces, I've quilting squares within squares. I like that some of the spaces in this quilt call for swirls while others are more linear.

Squares within squares
Finally I added fans in the borders of one of the big blocks. Again, they got progressively better as I made more of them.
Border quilting

I have some exciting news that I can now talk about! I am a big fan of the digital magazine, Make Modern. It's got some really nice projects, is affordable and I really like that it's digital.

Last July, I decided to take a chance and submit a proposal for a baby quilt pattern, based on my Beautiful Day Baby Quilt. Of course I had to go shopping for fabric 😊. I then sent them my proposal and it was accepted! Wow!

Buying fun fabric for a baby quilt!
The pattern comes out next Friday, March 2, 2018, in issue 21. I'll be writing up a post on the application process as well as what I learned while writing the pattern, making and photographing the quilt.

I received this in the mail - I love their postcard and the Make Modern pin!

What I learned
  • As much as I love hexies, I eventually get bored of working on the same project for a long time. I think that I will always have to keep my English Paper Piecing (EPP) projects small, or they will never get finished!
  • It may take a while for me to finish the hexie runner since making hexies to match the entire border is very time consuming. I do believe that it's worth it since it's really a lovely finish. 
  • It just dawned on me that all of those finishing hexies will be in white - that may prove to be very difficult cause I get bored easily when I'm not playing with colour. I'll have to think of a solution to this....
  • I was surprised that I wasn't able to FMQ when I wasn't feeling well. I didn't realise how much concentration and attention it requires. It also doesn't help when I have to figure out what design to quilt.
  • To keep the decision making to a minimum, I may use Angela Walter's Dot-to-Dot technique since it fits well in most blocks and is fairly simple and quick.
  • My border fans are not very consistent - I will be planning them the next time!
  • I have learned so much in the last few months about writing a pattern and getting it published. I was a great experience and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you next week!.
Related Links
Linking Parties
I will be linking to many link-ups. See what other quilters are doing and check these out: Free Motion Mavericks, Midweek Makers, Let's Bee Social, Linky Tuesday, Needle & Thread Thursday, Finished or Not Friday, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?,

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Free motion quilting

I am slowly free motion quilting my "Not playing the supporting role!" quilt. So far I FMQ a few blocks based on the fabric's design.
FMQ strips

FMQ designs

This is my favourite - the fabric almost looks like a heart beat. I quilted all of the pale strips,from the top and the bottom. It was great practice for my precision, which is not great but was getting better by the end!

I used a different approach for both of these blocks. In the first image, I quilted around each arc while in the second block I quilted within the arced space. I expected to like the second one best, but I think that the effect of quilting around the arcs gives more interest.

Quilting around the arcs

Quilted inside the arc space
In the top row, I quilted "S" shapes and large pebbles. In the lower row, I quilted arches and then placed different designs within each row of arches. The orange fabric was perfect for swirls while the brown solid got chevrons. The last fabric in the bottom row got a nice big feather.
Practicing differnt FMQ designs
  This image is of the back of the quilt, in roughly the same area as the picture above.
The FMQ from the back of the quilt
It's now time to choose designs for the rest of the quilt. I've made a notebook of FMQ designs that I've used and practiced during the last couple of years. Some of the designs are drawn on the pages while others were practiced on scraps of paper that are now taped into the book. It's nothing fancy but it really helps me chose different options instead of always using the same ones.

"Hearty Penguin"

There was a blog hop this week featuring one of Made by Marnie's foundation paper pieced blocks. It was available free (and still is for a while I believe - see Related Links below). I haven't added the penguin's eyes yet, but isn't he adorable? Made by Marnie also has other cute Valentines and Easter foundation paper pieced blocks. Check them out. They are gorgeous!

What I learned
  • For my "Not playing the supporting role!" quilt, I have to keep reminding myself that I don't want to FMQ this too densely. I suspect that it's going to be hard :-)
  • My FMQ notebook is a work in progress. Every once in a while I go through my stacks of papers and find all kinds of FMQ patterns that I've worked on. These are then added to the book.
  • On Friday I was doodling and was finally able to draw a design that I've been trying to figure out for months now. Somehow I got it right. I'm looking forward to using it in this quilt!
Related Links
Linky Parties
I will be linking this post to a few link-ups. Come and see what's happening! Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Free Motion Mavericks, Oh Scrap!, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Quilter's Monday, Linky TuesdayMidweek MakersLet's Bee SocialNeedle & Thread Thursday,

Great News! My Free Motion Quilting was featured by Connie on Linky Tuesday, while Hearty Penguin was featured by Susan on Midweek Makers. Hooray! 

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Starry Bright Sky - Block 1

The deadline is today. I feel like the baseball player who just slides onto first base, just before the first base-person catches the ball! I'm not sure where that came from except that I was hustling it when doing my zigzag stitch!
Block 1 - Appliqué of Starry Bright Sky QAL

Block 1 - Starry Bright Sky

I realised yesterday that I still hadn't started my first block. I really considered not playing along this year, but Alida does such a great job, and I really liked and learned from last year's quilt along, so it wasn't a very difficult decision to make.

I hadn't even thought about fabric. Thank goodness it didn't take long to take out all of my dark blue Kona solids and my printed yellow fabrics. They are now in a project bag, waiting for the next block. 😊

Alida's instructions mentioned using fusible web interfacing. I'm not sure if it's the same thing but I used some Heat & Bond adhesive. I'm not sure if there is a difference, but it worked fine. I tend to skip those part of the instructions but decided to use the adhesive since I didn't want the star to move around while doing all that zigzag.

I have now completed my To-Do Tuesday goal! Now for my OMG (One Month Goal)...

"Not playing the supporting role!" Quilt

I have now finished free motion quilting (FMQ) in-the-ditch most of the seams in the quilt - as many as I'm going to anyway.

I'm looking forward to playing some more. I want to stitch each block, but not too densely since this is my cuddle quilt - perfect with a good book (or my Kobo).
All the seams have been stitched - now the fun begins!
Landscape Quilt

This is the funky landscape Jo liked
One of my daughter's friend graduated from nursing school last year and is now a Registered Nurse, living in her first apartment. She's a real sweetheart and always has nice things to say about my quilts. So my daughter showed her a few of my quilts and she decided on a funky landscape quilt. It's going to be fairly wide but I'll keep it simple and play with the embellishments.

It's always easier for me to have a picture to use when creating these, even if I don't always follow them, so here are the pictures that I chose. My plan is to use the first picture below as the background and to add the driftwood logs (without me) in the foreground.
The Rockies

Driftwood logs for the foreground
My husband and I took these pictures in British Columbia a few years ago. I've always wanted to make them into a quilt, so here's my chance.

My goal for To-Do Tuesday this week is to start on this quilt by auditioning fabrics. If it's going to be a funky landscape, I'm thinking that some colourful batiks could be cool.

What I learned

  • Since I don't use adhesive web very often, I forgot that you have to place the pattern on the wrong side of the fabric. I figured that out when I came to iron the applique piece to the background. Oops! Of course by then I had cut out and fused all of the I had to start over. It did go faster the second time around. 😊
  • I'm happy to report that I played with the zigzag setting and adjusted the width of the zigzag as I came to the points in the pattern. I only did that for the orange flame pieces, but I'm glad that I remembered. It really did a much better job.
  • I went back to work on Thursday and was very zen. I wish I could say the same for Friday. It felt as if I had never left :-(  I did like the idea of being in for only two days for my first days back. It was great to have a weekend after that Friday! I'm sure that I will get into the swing of things soon.
Related Links

Linking Parties

I am linking this post to the Starry Bright Night Quilt Along Link-up, as well as the next To-Do Tuesday link-up. Check out what is going on out there in quilt-land: Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? MOP Monday, Free Motion MavericksFinished or Not Friday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Design Wall Monday, Linky Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Let's Bee Social, Needle & Thread Thursday,

Great news - my "Not playing the supporting role!" Quilt was features on Free Motion Mavericks! Thanks Muv 😊

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Celebrating holidays and travel

Saying hi to the reader!
Tomorrow I go back to work. As I'm trying to stay positive and zen about the whole thing, I have decided to share some of our travel pictures - for inspiration and to celebrate! I've had a wonderful  holiday and was able to travel to Spain and Paris, as well as take two weeks to rest, read and play. I am very grateful and need to focus on this as I get back into the routine :-)


You will notice that most of the photos are not panoramas of sites, but generally small things, including art, that caught my eye. The photos were either taken by my husband or I.

These first two photos are of a statue in a park that was between La Rambla and our hotel in Barcelona. Almost every day I would walk by and say hi to the girl reading!

Statue of boy playing and girl reading
Just off of La Rambla is a lovely food market. I don't usually take pictures of food, but I couldn't resist this one! Aren't the colours amazing? I'm sorry to say that I didn't eat one of these.
Take out food in the food market - La Rambla

Something that I find fascinating is all of the art everywhere. Since there is little snow in the places we visited, public art is on buildings and fences, in the subway and even the ceramic on the ground.

Art in the Barcelona subway

Fence outside of Gaudi's Park Güell in Barcelona

Art on a fence in Barcelona

Colourful tiles outside of the WC

You've probably heard the old joke of a quilter taking pictures of the tiles in the bathroom? Well, here are some tiles just outside of the washrooms.
Washington Irving stayed at Alhambra
while researching his book,
"Tales of the Alhambra"


I would go back to Granada. We only spent a few hours but I would have loved to visit for a few days. We saw a small part of Alhambra. I also got my husband to take a picture of me in front of the statue of the writer, Washington Irving, since his "Tales of the Alhambra", published in 1832, essentially caused re-interest and eventually the preservation of the Alhambra.
View of Granada from Alhambra

I haven't read the book yet, but it's now on my To Read list.

I love these beautiful narrow streets. Since it was early in the morning, I could stop and take pictures without worrying about traffic. This is probably what I was taking pictures of....

More art on the walls
Taking pictures on the old streets of Granada
Art on the walls of
buildings in Granada


Here is a photo that I should have included in my last post. These are the depressions within which the vines are grown. It was winter, so they are not dead - just dormant!

Growing vines in the volcanic ash in Lanzarote
Alicante, Spain

Alicante has a beautiful waterfront area. Here is a photo of the tiles in one of the plazas. Isn't it a great representation of ocean waves?
Whimsical structures - Alicante
Waves in Alicante

Here is a side street with whimsical art and structures for children.


Finally, after the cruise, we had time before our flight home, so we flew to Paris for three days. Since I'm bilingual, it was easier to get around, even if I had to take out my "good speaking French" (that means no slang and better enunciation!)

My husband is working on his photography skills, so right dropping off our luggage at our hotel, we took the metro to the Eiffel Tower. This is my favourite photo.

Eiffel Tower at night
We spent the next morning at the Louvre. It would have been great if my daughter had been with us. After a few huge rooms full of art, I was totally overwhelmed. An Art History student as a guide would have helped a lot 😊

This is one of my favourite area of the Louvre - the apartments of Napoleon III. See how I match the decor? I think that this may be the Grand Salon.

Apartments of Napoleon III
Art on the Ship

On the ship, I attended an art auction. It was a very high pressure event but since I had no money to spend, it was fairly easy to resist. I did, however, find an artist, Donna Sharam, that I really liked. When I first saw her art, I thought that it could have been an art quilt. Once I was home, I googled her and found out that her background is indeed in textiles. What do you think? Isn't her work fabulous? She also has a beautiful series of trees and plants.

Merchandise based on Donna Sharam's art

I couldn't resist finishing my tour with this lovely piece of textile art that was on our bed one day. How fun is that!
Textile Art on the Ship
Quilting during my holidays

In the last week, I decided to work on a few UFOs.

You may recall this quilt top from July 2015 (Ok, maybe not..)
Loosely based on Mary Patterson's Street Art quilt 
It started with a great idea....I was going to make two quilt tops and use this one as the backing. It's an idea that I haven't given up on, but after spending so much time making both quilts, I just didn't have the heart to put both of them together. This quilt is loosely based on Mary Patterson's Street Art quilt from the Quilt Trends magazine, Summer 2014 (see Related Links for more info). I've named it "Not playing the supporting role!".
Not playing the supporting role! quilt
I hadn't quilted this one because I thought that it was too small. Over the last couple of years, I even bought fabric to add to it. When I took out the project box that included this quilt, the magazine, left over and backing fabric as well as the new fabric I purchased, I realised that the quilt was bigger than I though, and was perfectly fine! Bonus!!! No extra work to do except to sandwich it and start quilting. 

I also sandwiched my latest Batik Lap Quilt, as well as a baby quilt that I will talk about in a later post. You can read all about my adventure in sandwiching these quilts in the "What I learned" section below.

Life will get back to normal, so I may as well plan my next quilting week and month.

For my OMG, I will free motion quilt (FMQ) my "Not playing the supporting role!" quilt. It's still cold and I want to snuggle under it to read 😊

Since I haven't started my Starry Bright Sky block for January, this is my To-Do Tuesday goal. The post is due February 4th, so I still have a few days. 

What I learned
  • I'm really glad that the "Not playing the supporting role!" quilt is large enough to be a comfortable lap quilt. I put the unused new fabric into my stash and, I'm very proud to say, I actually cut out all of the binding. It's all ready to use and stored in a very obvious place so that I will be able to find it when it's time to use it!
  • I did this for a previous quilt and really hope to keep doing it whenever possible. It's so nice to be able to finish the quilting and then just put the binding on without looking for the matching fabric!
  • I've probably mentioned this, but I really, really dislike sandwiching a quilt. It's my totally least favourite part of the process. I didn't think that I would be able to sandwich 3 quilts in 2 days. I sandwiched the "Not playing the supporting role!" quilt first, using my usual method of pinning. I just dislike the fact that once it's pinned, I have to flip it over, re-pin most of it to get it flat, and do this at least another 3 or 4 times. 
  • As I started sandwiching the Batik lap quilt, I got desperate. Why did I have to pin the quilt when I was only going to have to move all of the pins anyway? Good question! Since I had nothing to loose, I just placed two pins on the quilt and proceeded to flatten it the 4 or 5 times required. I only had to move one pin once, and then when it was to my liking, I pinned it all down. WOW!
  • The thing is that I was never taught how to pin a quilt sandwich down. Maybe what I discoved on my own is what I was supposed to do? When I learned to sandwich a quilt, it was with adhesive spray. I stopped using it because I found that it gummed up the needle and was a real pain to flatten out those 4 or 5 times. Anyway, the baby quilt took me 5 whole minutes to sandwich. Gotta love it!
Related Links
Linking Parties: I will be linking up to February's One Monthy Goal as well as the following link-ups. Let's see what's happening in the quilting universe! To-Do TuesdayMidweek MakersLet's Bee SocialQuilter's MondayLinky TuesdayMain Crush Monday, Needle and Thread Thursday, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? Finished or Not Friday, 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Islas Canarias finished

It's done! This is my travel art quilt of the Canary Islands.
Islas Canarias Art Quilt

I started this project on a cruise to the Canary Islands and other destinations in Spain.

I didn't expect it, but the Islas Canarias stole my heart. 😊 As I mentioned in my last post, the islands are now on my bucket list of places to visit (for at least a few weeks!)

I've had a great time finishing this baby. All of the embroidery represent places on three of the Islas Canarias: Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote. As you'll see, each island is very different.

Gran Canaria
Playa de las Canteras, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

We walked around Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, from the port to the Playa de las Canteras. This is a 3 kilometer beach with a lovely promenade, hotels, stores and cafés. We stopped in a restaurant for café con leche while a quick storm passed through and ended up staying for an amazing homemade pizza.

This is an embroidery of the promenade and the slightly stormy Atlantic Ocean. I also included a palm tree, although the water behind it is calmer.

I added some poinsettias since they were found growing in many parks. I don't think I've ever seen them grow in a garden, especially in January!

Palm tree and calm water

Poinsettia flowers on Las Palmas de Gran Caneria

Parque Nacionale del Teide

Our second stop on the islands was Tenerife. There is so much to see and do, but on this trip, I decided to focus on the natural aspects of the islands. Our tour was to the Parque Nacionale del Teide.

On the way to the park, we drove through the Corona Forestal, a protected forest of Canarian Pines that are endemic to Tenerife. The trees can survive forest fires and volcano eruptions through their fireproof bark. After such a fire, the tree trunk will continue to grow after a few years.

You can read about the red bugloss plant in my previous post (see Related Links).

Canarian pine on Tenerife
Red bugloss plant in winter


Lanzarote has a radical landscape because of the volcano eruptions that lasted six years from 1730 to 1736, and then a smaller one in 1824. It's really amazing to see the destructive force of a volcano, as well as the perseverance of the inhabitants of the island. They have adapted and have succeeded in working in this new environment.
El Diablo de Timanfaya

As part of the tour of the Parque Nacionale de Timanfaya, the guide takes you around three stations that highlight the geothermal energy of the dormant volcano. The fire in the quilt depicts one of the stations where straw burns brightly from the underground heat.

The image next to the fire is based on the metal sculpture known as El Diablo de Timanfaya. This scupture was designed by the great Lanzarote artist César Manrique.

César Manrique had a huge influence on his home island. The white buildings that are traditional to the island, are also a part of the government's policies to preserve the original look of the island. On my next visit, I will spend much more time seeing Manrique's creations.

The last two images below illustrate the wine industy of Lanzarote and the lichen covered lava rocks.

Before the devastating volcano eruptions, Lanzarote had a lot of agriculture, including wine production. After the eruptions, it was discovered that the soil underneath the volcano ash was still good for agriculture and that the volcano ash acted as insulation to keep water in the soil.

Because of the wind conditions on the island, they started sheltering their vines in man-made depressions that are partially protected by rocks. In our tour, we visited La Geria winery that makes lovely sweet wine.

I chose to depict lichen on the lava rock because it is the first thing that grows after a volcano eruption. The lava rock that I used comes from a necklace that I purchased. I created lichen to cover it by placing a couple of pieces of wool fibre between 2 small pieces of Sulky Solvy water soluble stabilizer, and then FMQ it with various colours of silk thread.

Wine growing in Lanzarote and lichen covered lava rock
To finish it off, I decided to write the name of the islands (in Spanish) at the top of the quilt. As much as I like the black fabric with yellow polka dots, it needed a little something to liven it up. The letters are cut from fabrics that I had brought on the trip and were then raw-edge appliquéd. I used some of the green olivine gemstones (peridot) found on Lanzarote to add the dot to the "i".

I moved the sun to the top left corner of the piece and then added a little needle felting underneath to separate it from the letters and add a little whimsy. While I was at it, I felted some of the same wool fibers inside the embroidery of the fire.
Top half of the Islas Canarias art quilt
What I learned

Bottom half of the quilt
  • I had an awesome time making this art quilt. It was fun to decide what to put on it to depict the islands and then to figure out how to do it. I used my notes, some of our pictures, the internet, as well as the many postcards that I bought for inspiration.
  • It's the first time that I used the Solvy Sulky water soluble stabilizer. I've been wanting to make something like this for ages. It was super easy and fast to make. I'll be using this technique again!
  • All of the fabrics, except for the backing and the binding, came with me on the trip. I did have to dig into my scrap bags for more polka dot fabric for the binding. 
  • Since I had a finished edge on the top and bottom of the quilt, I decided to create a separate backing and batting piece that is attached to the quilt top through the quilting. I've done this before on my Woven Landscape (see Related Links). 
    • I measured the back of the quilt top, then cut the batting to roughly that size and a backing that was a couple of inches larger on all sides.
    • I then wrapped the backing around the batting edges and sewed around it. I did have to cut and re-stitch one of the sides to adjust the backing/batting piece. 
    • When the backing was the right size and didn't show from the front of the quilt, I pinned the backing to the front and FMQ around the blocks, appliqué and embroidery. Finally, I FMQ over the binding to ensure that everything would stay together.

Related Links

Project Details
Islas Canrias art quilt

Islas Canarias 

11" x 12"

Materials: cotton, wool roving, lava rock, peridot, wool fibre, cotton and silk thread, Sulky Solvy water soluble stabilizer, embroidery floss

Techniques: hand piecing, appliqué, needle felting, embroidery (stem stitch, running stitch, Pekinese stitch) free motion quilting