Thursday, January 12, 2017

Catching up on World Quilting Travel Adventure

with JoJo Hall
I have a lot of catching up for the World Quilting Travel Adventure with JoJo Hall. We are going on a wonderful world tour and making souvenirs from our destinations.
Souvenir from Oregon
Oregon, United States

Our first stop was in Oregon, where JoJo comes from. I made a smaller, more whimsical version of her landscape. Check out her original landscape, it's gorgeous!

Hawaii, United States

The second stop was Hawaii. It's certainly an attractive destination, especially with the -25 C weather we were having in Ottawa! In November I started making the plumeria flower that is on JoJo's headwrap. Of course, since I need to do my own thing, I'm incorporating the plumeria into an art quilt.
The beginning of the plumeria flower

JoJo warned us that the flower would not be impressive until it was painted and sewn. I have to admit that I was terrified of painting it. I'm sure that's why I waited until late December to attempt it - and that's just because my quilting space was such a mess that I didn't want to go near it.

I took the project to the kitchen table with my water colours and brushes (never been used) and played with the paint. I can't say that I had much fun - I was too intimidated, and I also can't say that I liked the results, but I gave myself the benefit of the doubt to wait until I had sewn it before judging it. As my son remarked, this project had better not be washed, or I'll be loosing my water paint!

I'm glad I waited. Turns out it was better than I expected! The paint and the FMQ really add to it. I didn't sew around the whole flower so that it also has a 3-D effect.
Plumeria flower after the water paint and FMQ
The genesis of this art quilt is a silk scarf that I bought in China. The scarf was very fragile and better suited to art than wearing. In my stash, I found peach and yellow fabrics as well as this amazing purple and orange fabric that my daughter brought back from Senegal, Africa. This is truly a multi-cultural project!

Working on this multi-cultural project

To make the background, I just sewed a few pieces of the fabrics together and then cut them up and sewed them back together again. I just love improvising like this.

Embroidered and beaded flower taken from the silk scarf

I cut out one of the flowers from the silk scarf, bunched up the silk around it and embroidered it down. I added many beads (until I'd had enough!) but as my daughter said - it looked like a colourful blob. To make it look like a flower, in colours that would stand out, I embroidered around the different parts of the flower.

You may have noticed the frilly bit on the right in the picture above. I wanted to add more of the silk scarf, to tie it in with the flower. I originally intended for it to drape on the right edge, then my daughter turned the piece around so that the scarf hangs off the bottom. What a difference 90 degrees makes!
Escape - almost done!
I've been hand quilting the orange and the yellow areas and adding beads to some of the colourful African fabric. I'll have to be careful to not over do it - it's so easy to get carried away.


The third stop on JoJo's World Quilting Travel Adventure is my homeland. I love Canada and I think that JoJo chose well with her souvenir - it's the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) made of hexies. I have to admit that before this project, I had no desire of doing any type of hexies! I have a UFO - an English Paper Piecing project started last summer made with triangles. It's really fun, relaxing and very, very addictive! This hexie project is even more fun because I didn't try to plan the project first. I just went into my scrap bag of batiks and cut out hexies from colours that might fit.That's my kind of project - jump in and adjust as I go!

Making many, many hexies

I won't say much more about this project except that it's a work in progress. If you're interested in doing hexies, JoJo has two really good tutorial for Basting Hexies and Joining Hexies. Please check them out!

Not sure how I'll be putting these together. Stay tuned!
What I've learned:
  • As usual, I'm not doing so well with following dates. That's also how I prefer to travel - without strict agendas and time tables, just an outline of possibilities!
  • JoJo has given me plenty of possibilities. I'm having a blast, and working very hard to not take it (or me) too seriously. This is a perfect opportunity for play,
  • I'm addicted to hexies (only really cool ones, but hexies none the less!) We'll see if this lasts when I try to join them!

If you're interested in seeing what other travelers have made, check out the links on the Travelers' Souvenirs page. I am linking to the following Linky Parties: Oh Scrap!, Free Motion Mavericks, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Needle and Thread Thursday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop?, Off the Wall Friday, Finished or Not Friday, Fabric Frenzy Friday,

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Best of 2016

I love participating in these specials because they give me another reason to write a post and review what I've learned.
Best of 2016 Linky Party

Since my blog is about Quilting and Learning, I thought that I would focus on the lessons I've put into practice this year as well as some of the lessons I learned the hard way!

Lessons Put Into Practice

  • The lesson that I put most into practice was to use tape to mark off the edges of a quilt before doing FMQ. I did add to this lesson - place the tape very carefully or your edges won't be straight!!! (January 14 and Feb 19)
    Taping the edge to stop FMQ
    Make sure the tape is straight.

Practice drawing the stencil first.

  • Practice drawing a stencil pattern before free motion quilting it. It's well worth the time. (January 2)

  • If the project isn't turning out the way you want it to, put it aside for a while. (February 8 and March 30)

  • The hardest lesson that I had to learn this year was a big one. Quilting started becoming a full time job and wasn't any fun. That's not where I wanted to be. I learned this in October after working on the Gaudi Cathedral Windows project. I was so disappointed with the results that I didn't even include it in my trunk show. (November 18

New Techniques Learned
I tried many new techniques this year.
  • I learned to write on textiles with pens and FMQ. (April 17)
  • I made my first needle felting piece. (June 8)
The Feather
  • I worked on an English Paper Piecing project (which is still a Work in Progress - WIP) (July 31)
  • I learned to make a t-shirt quilt with the guidance of Terrific T-Shirt Quilts by Karen M. Burns (August 23)
Great Hockey Jersey Quilt

Parting Words of Wisdom
Here are a few things I've learned this year that may help you in your quilting.

  • To colour or write on fabric, iron some freezer paper to the back of the fabric. This will stabilize it. (May 15)
  • Account for your borders or finishing technique before you quilt it! (May 8)
  • Beading is fun in moderation. (April 17)
  • Free motion quilting is different when it's done on a larger scale. (June 24)
A Beautiful Day Baby Quilt - with large scale FMQ

I hope some of these lessons learned will help you learn from my mistakes! Participating blogs have linked to Meadow Mist Designs. Encourage the participants by viewing their posts. I've also linked to Needle and Thread Thursday, Midweek Maker,  Off the Wall Fridays, Can I get a Whoop Whoop? 

Thanks for coming by. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A little Christmas Quilting

Perfect project to practice my free motion quilting 
I haven't done any specific Christmas quilting this year, but when I found this (it must have popped out of the stash!) I knew that it would be a great little free motion quilting (FMQ) practicing opportunity.

It's a hot pad with a poinsettia fabric top and a red pre-quilted backing. This project has been hanging around for about 10 years - since I inherited my Mother's quilting stash. She had sewn the front and back together but hadn't sewn the opening yet.

I must say that I had no idea what to do with it, until this year. I just knew that FMQ it would be the right thing to do.

FMQ poinsettia petals
I was going to use different coloured thread, but finally just used a silver Kimono silk thread on top and a Superior Bottom Line thread in the bobbin. After going around all of the poinsettia petals and the middle seeds, it was obvious that it was done.

I'm really happy with the way it turned out. Thanks Mom for starting it. I'm glad that I could do something lovely with it :-)

What I learned:

  • Don't give up on UFO's that you don't know what to do with. One day the perfect technique will come up.
  • I followed some of my own advice (7 Ways to Survive the Holidays). I spent boxing day reading and playing with fabric. This is one of the results of the day. It was lovely!
  • I also pampered myself this morning by sleeping in and then buying fabric on sale...but we don't need to go into details. :-)
In case I don't post a blog before January 1st, Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best in 2017!

I'm participating in the following Linky parties. Check them out if you have the time: Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, Midweek Maker, Fabric Frenzy Friday, Finished or Not Friday, Off the Wall Friday 

Friday, December 23, 2016

7 Ways to Survive the Holidays

Want to know the secret to surviving the holidays? These are my suggestions. BTW I can’t be held
responsible if others in your family don’t approve of these great innovative ideas!

1.  HIBERNATE! This is my favourite idea! Hide out in your quilting studio and don’t come out till the holidays are over – or better yet, when spring is in the air. If you just can’t swing this, try asking for at least one day to yourself, in your quilting studio during the holidays. Hopefully that will be enough to energize you for a while.
Winter Vacancy

2.  Quilted gifts: I can hear you wondering how this is going to help you survive the holidays since this is possibly one of your major holiday stressors. My innovative idea – give everyone on your list a quilty IOU. In a Christmas card or on a large gift tag, write down what their quilted gift will be (keep it general, small and realistic – they may actually expect you to deliver on this!) If you can’t do this for everyone, consider giving the hardest to-shop-for person a quilty IOU.

3.  Decorating: Take out all of your Christmas quilts, runners and wall hangings and call the house decorated!
Snow Globes make a great quilty IOU

Tree Skirt

4.  Cooking: Get yourself invited for Christmas dinner somewhere, pick up an amazing desert at your favourite local bakery and a bottle of wine. If you can’t pull this one off, consider cooking less. There are great places that make excellent food that you could buy for parts of your meal. If you’re having people over, when they ask you what they can bring, instead of saying “Oh, don’t worry about it”, seriously consider letting them contribute. If they are really good at making something, give them the pleasure of making and sharing it with everyone.

Take out your quilts and call the place decorated!

5.  Pamper yourself: while planning next year’s quilted IOUs, have a glass of wine, turn on (or off) the Christmas music and peruse the internet for fabrics you’ll need for those projects. There are lot of sales, so make sure to pick up a few quilting gifts for yourself!
Pamper yourself!

6.  Sleep in! Even if you can't sleep in every day, give yourself permission to sleep in at least on one or two days.  If you're the type of person who wakes up at 6 am every day, consider getting up to make a coffee and then going back to bed with a great book. Give yourself permission to relax :-)

Bandit sleeping in my fabric stash
Bandit sleeping in my fabric stash

7.  Gratitude
No matter how busy or stressed this holiday season gets, remember that you are blessed with all kinds of wonderful people around you. You are also blessed with this amazing art that makes your soul sing! Be grateful for all that you have.

I hope that your Christmas / Holiday season is filled with love, joy, fun and peace.

Thanks for sharing this quilting journey with me,
love to all,

Winter Door Hanging
Gingerbread Mug Rug
Christmas Ball Mug Rug

Monday, December 19, 2016

Pattern Testing a Baby Quilt

I was thrilled when Joanne of Canuck Quilter Designs asked for volunteers to test the pattern for her new Tic Tac Who? Baby Quilts. I've always wanted to do this, so I volunteered and she accepted.

Tic Tac Who? baby quilts by Canuck Quilter Designs
I was contemplating what colours to us when I talked to my friend and colleague, Kathy, about this latest project. Since I didn't know who I was going to make the quilt for, and Kathy needed a baby quilt for her nephew's new baby, we agreed that Kathy would pick and buy the fabric and that I would make the quilt. I would make the Tic Tac Hoot baby quilt, the one with the owl.

I received the pattern and had roughly a month to make either some of the panels or the whole quilt. When I agreed to make this quilt, I didn't know that I would be travelling to the American South-West. It was actually great timing since it gave Kathy time to shop and then wash the fabric. When I got back, everything was ready for me!

Tic Tac Hoot quilt top
It took me roughly two weekends to make the quilt. The pattern comes with three options - a duck (easiest), a puppy (easy), and the owl (more challenging). It took me a while to piece together the owl. The instructions were clear but I needed to un-stitch quite a few pieces, mostly because I kept forgetting that the yellow was not Kona fabric and therefor wasn't the same on both sides!
Tic Tac Hoot - all finished!

Quilting pattern
drawn on tracing paper
For the quilting, I stitched-in-the-ditch around the sashing. My stitching isn't great, so I wanted something different for the "X"s. I ended up quilting in the yellow space, outside of the "X", about a 1/4". I then did the same inside each "X". I also quilted 4 circles inside the coloured blocks, to go with the tic-tac-toe theme.

To determine how to quilt the owl, I traced the owl on a sheet of tracing paper and then tried out some feather patterns in two directions. I decided to quilt the feather in the same direction as the owl. As I look at the quilting pattern now, I think I like the upside down feather better - oh well... He's still a handsome fellow!

The FMQ owl
The FMQ owl

Testing the quilt was a great experience. Joanne did a wonderful job on the pattern. I really liked the way she laid it out with simple illustrations. I was even able to contribute with some suggestions!

What I learned:
  • When I first started the project, I kept having to remind myself to read the instructions! I guess when we're familiar with some of the process, it's easy to skim over the instructions and just go ahead. For Joanne's sake, I did read everything carefully.
  • I didn't realise how visual I am. As I mentioned, I really liked the illustrations and was drawn to them right away. Again, I had to remind myself to read the instructions that went with them :-)
  • I need to invest in one of the many circle templates available - I used some plastic lids. They worked well but I only found a few sizes. Maybe that needs to go on my Christmas list!
  • I really enjoyed making the pattern. I was, however, reminded of why I love creating art quilts without patterns - the accuracy of my piecing is really not great, even when I pay attention!
Thank you so much Joanne for this opportunity! Also a very special thank you to Kathy, who chose and bought the fabric. I really hope that her nephew will love the quilt :-)

If you like this project, check out Canuck Quilter Designs's website. The Tic Tac Who pattern will be available soon.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Embellished Dress-up Shirt

The back of the shirt has an embellished red dump truck
The back of the shirt
I just finished embellishing a fun dress-up shirt for my friend Sonya's son. He loves trucks and dinosaurs and now he'll have his own dress-up shirt to play in.

I found the truck at It's a simple dump truck that I could copy and then embellish. I drew the truck onto freezer paper. Not an easy thing to do since I was at the fall retreat and didn't have a printer. I cut out the truck shape and used the freezer paper template to copy it onto the shirt. I then sewed the truck outline in red and then embroidered the tires in red and black. The metal-looking beads are perfect for the tire rims. The grill of the truck is sewn with metallic thread from the bobbin.

This week I read  Lara Buccella's Crafted Appliqué book. I had seen all of the blog posts about her book and was looking forward to reading it. Her technique is really great. I used it for both the truck and the dinosaur. Frankly I hadn't even though of using appliqué in this project until I read her book. It was the perfect technique.

Once I finished the appliqué, I used a black fabric pen to outline the windows and finish the tires. I also added three rows of red seed beads.
An embellished red dump truck
A very cool dump truck!
The front of the embellished shirt
The front of the shirt
For the front of the shirt I found an easy dinosaur to draw from It's a Diplodocus.

To cover the Diplodocus,  I took out all of the colourful scraps I could find. I used the Crafted Appliqué technique,and then cut and ironed the fabric pieces in place, I used a multi-coloured King Tut thread to zig-zag stitch around each fabric piece. I embroidered the mouth and the eye with black embroidery floss.

a multi-coloured Diplodocus
The multi-coloured Diplodocus

What I learned:

  • I really enjoyed making this piece. I wasn't sure how I was going to fill in the truck, so I was really glad to read about the Crafted Appliqué technique.
  • I didn't think that I could draw both the truck and the Diplodocus from the computer screen. I am very pleased with the results. 

I've linked this post to the following parties - please check them out! Can I get a Whoop Whoop? Off the Wall Fridays, Oh Scrap! MOP Monday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Slow Sunday Stitching, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Needle & Thread Thursday, Off the Wall Friday, Fabric Frenzy Friday.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Inspiring Travels

Horseshoe Bend
A couple of weeks ago, I spent a week in the American South West. Canada has some amazing National Parks and natural areas but we don't have much of a desert. I guess because it's so different from Ontario, both my husband and I are very attracted to the region
Among the rocks at Joshua Tree NP

It was a great trip. It's a good thing that there was no mileage fee for the rental car! Out of 6 days, we spent 4 very full days travelling and seeing the sights. We went to four National Parks and one National Preserve in four states (California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah).

Here are some images that I hope will inspire some landscape art quilt for the next few years!

Day 1: Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park
Our first day in the desert - the landscape is amazing. I suspected that I might get tired of rocks, shrubs, sand, and mountains in the distance (repeat!). Although the novelty wore off after 6 days, the landscapes are so sparse and different from home that they were still fascinating.

View from the Dunes at Mojave National Preserve
View from the Dunes at Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve
It's a land of subtle contrast and beauty. I want to capture the mountains with their coloured striations in fabric. Each place we went, the mountains, rocks and vegetation were all slightly different.
Shrubs, rocks and sand

Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree National Park
Day 2: Zion National Park
The more fertile lands of Zion National Park was incredible because many of the desert features were present next to the water. I finally got to hike the Narrows. We hadn't been able to do it the last time we were there, so this was a must do! The water was so cold that I didn't last long. Next time I'll be more prepared.

Zion National Park
Day 3: Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon National Park
Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo Nation land. We didn't have enough time to spend here but it's really incredible. We didn't get many good pictures because it was too early in the day. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to go back :-)

Antelope Canyon
 We hadn't seen Horseshoe Bend the last time we were in the area. What an amazing view.
Horseshoe Bend

Grand Canyon National Park
Day 4: Death Valley National Park
This was our first trip to Death Valley, the lowest spot in North America at 282 feet below sea level. I just love the contrast between the salt that hasn't been walked on and the area that has. It looked like it could have been the Rideau Canal in winter - it was white and even had the odd pothole! I tried sliding but it definitely wasn't ice! The heat sort of gave it away :-)
Death Valley National Park
I guess I come by it honestly since I was raised in the mine country of Northern Ontario - but I am just blown away by the variety of these rocks. Stunning!
Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park
We were lucky on our last road trip to see a lovely sunset. Since there is very little rain, I imagine there are probably few clouds. These were the only ones we say on our trips.
Sunset in the desert
What I learned:
  • It takes clouds to make a beautiful sunset. I guess we have so many here that I never noticed this.
  • I really want to spend some quality time in the American South West when I retire. Wouldn't it be great to be able to see the landscape and then make the quilt right there?
  • Although it gets dark here very early, we couldn't get used to such an early sunset in the South West. I think it's because it's hot, so it feels like summer - where sunsets are supposed to be late!
  • I'm taking a break from making landscape art quilts but when I'm ready, I'm looking forward to being inspired by one of these!
This post is linked to a few Linky Parties. Please check out what everyone is doing: MOP Monday, Monday Making, Main Crush Monday, Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers,