Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Colourful Welcome Door Hanging

Last winter I started a spring door hanging at a retreat (it was very cold and I was very tired of winter). I had a lot of fun putting it together, probably because I did it purely by instinct. I added strips here and there, cut them up and sewed them back on. The colours were totally spring - pinks both bright and soft, greens, orange, small and large floral. Most of the fabrics may have come from the same collection. Let's just say that it wasn't for the faint of heart.
Appliqué - on freezer paper
Appliqué - on freezer paper

I had been looking at this thing for over a year. It was fun but it was missing a focus. This spring I decided that it was time to get it done! I went through a bunch of magazines to find something that I could add to the left panel of the project. I found this great looking owl that was supposed to go on a placemat. It was perfect. (I can't find the magazine but when I do, I'll post the designer, etc.)

I copied the pattern onto freezer paper, ironed the freezer paper to the fabric and then cut out each piece with an extra ¼ inch.  I appliquéd the owl by hand using the needle-turn
Appliqué ready to be sewn
Appliqué ready to be sewn
appliqué technique I learned last year in Kathy Wylie's workshop.  I didn't do too badly but it was only once I finished it that I remembered the trick she has taught us for making circles (the trick is essentially to make a yoyo and appliqué it). I'm afraid I wasn't keen enough to pull it apart.

I had an awesome time free motion quilting (FMQ) this project. Since I'm presently following Cindy Needham's Design it, Quilt it: Free-Form Techniques course on Craftsy, I wanted to practice some of those techniques.

Quilted using a template
Quilted using a template
The first thing I did was to use a few quilting templates within the quilt. This photo shows one of the templates I used. It's got a heart in the middle (which is on the house...our home); the second layer looks like a sun and surrounds the home; and finally the outside of the template are feathers. Since I find following lines easier then making designs free style, this suits me well.

On the right top corner I used a corner template of a flower and quilted it in bright purple. One of Cindy Needham's suggestions is to have parts of the motif outside of an area to give it depth. It's hard to see in the image, but the flower is peeking out of the  border.
Beaded flowers and template quilting
Beaded flowers and template quilting
I also used a template around the border of the top left quarter of the hanging. These are swirls sewn using Superior's Bottom Line thread. Two years ago, if you had told me that thread made a difference, I probably would have discretely rolled my eyes, but I am now a believer. Thread CAN make a huge difference. I almost always use Bottom Line in my bobbin when FMQ. This is one of the first times that I also use it for the top thread. It makes for very subtle quilting. Next to the owl I quilted "Chez les Faubert" in purple thread. You have to look attentively to see it, but I think that's perfect since we are a pretty quiet and subtle family (except for that hot pink!)

In the right bottom part of the quilt, I practiced some of the patterns that Cindy showed us - the "S" curve, the lines and the circles. Once I was finished quilting, I added beads to the flowers. It's slow work but very peaceful.
FMQ with "S" curves, lines and circles
FMQ with "S" curves, lines and circles

Quilted Door Hanging
Quilted Door Hanging

 What I learned:
  • A project gets completed when it's ready to be completed - it's pretty hard to rush inspiration.
  • On a busy quilt, you need something for the eyes to rest on. 
  • I love using templates and my stash is slowly getting bigger!
  • Using Bottom Line thread both in the bobbin and on top for FMQ can be very effective. 
Quilters aren't greedy, they’re just materialistic.
Enjoy the summer! When it's too hot out there, stay in and quilt :-)

Monday, 30 June 2014

More Grandmother's Choice Blocks

6 Grandmother's Choice Blocks
I made 6 Grandmother's Choice blocks during my very productive month of March. It's one thing to make the squares but quite another to prepare a blog about them. Since then, I've made another 4 blocks. Here is my post for all 10 squares. Yup, it just keeps on going and going! As before, most of the information is taken from Barbara Brackman's amazing blog, Grandmother's Choice. The exception is block 48 which represents Canadian Suffrage. I researched it and found a slightly different story.

Block 15: Centennial
Block 15: Centennial


15. Centennial: New Zealand's Victory
Centennial recalls the 1993 centennial celebration  of New Zealand as the first country to give all women the right to vote in all elections. "Each year September 19th is remembered as Suffrage Day or White Camellia Day because supporters of votes for women wore white camellias."


22. Jack's Delight: Ridicule as Humor

Block 22: Jack's Delight
Block 22: Jack's Delight
Humor was used a lot to ridicule women who wanted the vote. Many of these "jokes" were published on postcards. "Historian Catherine Palczewski estimates that about 4,500 suffrage-themed postcards were published." In most of the images, women who supported women's rights to vote were depicted as unattractive, bossy, a bore, a busybody or even promiscuous. They might also have been depicted as too dumb or distracted to vote; and of course incompetent to govern.

24. True Blue: Too Smart
Block 24: True Blue
Block 24: True Blue
At the time, a woman was called a blue if she was self-educated and a blue-stocking if she was educated. These terms were meant to be an derogatory, "although many women wrote they were proud to be blue. The word implied a woman who read, who wrote (for publication, horrors!), who discussed ideas, literature, philosophy and history, who valued conversation over card playing."

Many women in Great Britain were arrested and spent time in jail for their efforts on behalf of women's right to vote. When in prison, women were identified as prisoners by the "broad arrows", a triple line stitched or painted on their coarse clothing. For many, the Broad Arrow became a badge of honor worn by women who'd endured imprisonment.
Block 30: Broad Arrow
Block 30: Broad Arrow
Block 33: Contrary Husband
Block 33: Contrary Husband

The Contrary Husband is a renown quilting block. Since women can be as contrary as men, Ms. Brackman examines the legislated right of a contrary husband. The case in point is Charles Lewis Bankhead, a drunk who abused his wife. Her influential family tried to intervene but there were few options available in 1815. "Charles had every right to beat his wife who was obligated to remain under his control."  

Block 35: I'm an Anti
Block 35: I'm an Anti
Not all women supported Women's right to vote. To be fair, it may have been difficult for some women to assert themselves, especially when some of the women in the suffrage movements were so militant. There were women however who were against women's right to vote. In the US, the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) was created. It seems that some of their arguments such as "Why waste time, energy and money, without result?" were more about the difficulty of obtaining the vote than actually being against women voting. 

It would be wonderful to think that women got the right to vote in Canada because politicians and men in general believed in the equality of women. Unfortunately, that's not usually how politics works and it's not what happened in Canada. "In 1917, Prime Minister Robert Borden felt he could save Canada's honour only by winning that year's general election, so he rigged the vote to ensure that he would." Borden's conservative government gave women in the armed forces the right to vote since they were the most likely to vote for his government. Recall that this was during WW1 and Borden needed more men to enlist, but since they weren't, he proposed conscription to force them to fight. 

Block 48: Fair Play
Block 48: Fair Play
Before the elections Borden's government passed the Military Voters Act and the Wartime Elections Act. "The first gave the vote to "all British subjects, whether male or female" who were in the armed forces. In one stroke, about two thousand army nurses became the first women to get the federal franchise." The Act also allowed the government to use those votes wherever they needed them, as opposed to the ridings where the people in the armed forces came from. The Wartime Elections Act took away Canadian's right to vote if they had become citizens after 1902 and came from a country that Canada was fighting. These changes ensured that people who were likely to vote conservative got the right to vote (women in the armed forces) while taking away the vote of new immigrants who generally voted Liberal. 

"Margaret Gordon, president of the Canadian National Suffrage Association, said it would have been more honest to make it illegal not to vote Conservative."

Borden's campaign promised all women the federal vote and, in 1918, they got it. By the early 1920s, women also had the provincial vote everywhere but Quebec, which resisted the inevitable until 1940.

FYI, this information is from Jensen, Sid. You Don't vote for Kings, Beaver, Apr/May2007, Vol. 87, Issue 2 It's probably a little more realistic than Ms. Brackman's view.

Block 2: Amethyst
Block 2: Amethyst
The purple amethyst reminds us of the purple, green and white of Britain's Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). They were a militant group that were also know as suffragettes. The WSPU's main mottos were "Votes for Women" and "Deeds Not Words". 

In the US, the main suffrage colour was gold. This is why I've chosen to use green, purple and gold in my quilt.

Block 16: Capital T
Block 16: Capital T
Many of the women who fought for the vote learned public speaking while fighting for another cause - Temperance (Capital T). It wasn't a bad idea, but since we know that organised crime became what it is today because of the temperance movement, I find it very hard to be sympathetic (besides I'm more of a "let live" type of gal).

Block 21: Parasols & PR
Block 21: Parasols & PR
Women used parasols to shade themselves from the sun. These yellow and white parasols were used as wonderful billboards for advertising "Votes for Women"!






What I learned:
  • It was only as I was trying to match the photos to each block that I noticed that two of my blocks are different from those on the Grandmother's Choice blog. Oops! It seems that I inverted some of the blocks when I pieced them. Unless you compare the blog's pictures with mine, you probably won't notice.
  • Most of the blocks I have completed are what I consider the easy ones - that is, the blocks with squares, rectangles and triangles. I really hesitated making the blocks that required that I cut out templates (irregular shapes from a pattern). The first one I made from a template was block 2. Since it came out much better than I anticipated, I attempted a few more. Block 48 is a more difficult template using circles. I was nervous but in the end it's a lot like putting in a sleeve when making a blouse. I took my time and used a lot of pins. Not bad for a first effort. I did make another block that didn't make it on the blog - I'll have to work on those Y seams (don't ask!)
  • Block 21 is an appliqué. I find appliqués difficult to make well, but if I don't practice, I'll never get better. The good thing about appliqués on a quilt is that I can FMQ on top of them to make sure they stay in place.
  • At the end of this post I had a total of 19 blocks completed. I did make another 4 blocks on the weekend - but that will be another day. I have start thinking (actually the correct word would be obsessing!) about putting these blocks together in a quilt. More on that later.
Tomorrow is Canada Day - hope yours is a great one!
Any day spent quilting or thinking about quilting is a great day :-)

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Making Progress

Three Leaves
The last few weeks haven't been ideal for quilting, but on a road trip last weekend I was able to work on my embroidery/ appliqué leaves project. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to appliqué so much in the car. By the time we got to North Bay, I had finished the green leaf.  It wasn't my best work, but when I was extra careful, I was impressed with the results. The trick now is to try to be careful more of the time!

The green leaf was the third leaf of a project from the book Applique Inside the Lines by Carol Armstrong. During the 30/30 Challenge in March I had completed the orange leaf. I now have to sew the pieces together with sashing in between to make it look like a picture frame. I'll then sandwich and quilt it. Since this is such a lovely small piece, I'll probably hand quilt it. It'll be a nice summer project.

Before the weekend, I had a chance to start quilting a lap quilt. This is one of the projects that I made several years ago but didn't finish it since I couldn't free motion quilt (FMQ). What a joy to be working on these UFOs (unfinished objects).
Jewel Tone Quilt

I wanted to try something new for this quilt (of course). Since I've invested so much in Craftsy, I had to try out some of those new techniques. This one comes from Design It, Quilt It with Cindy Needham.

I started quilting it as she advised - "stitch every stinking seam"! I stitched most of the seams but didn't quilt the 9 patch blocks since that's where I'll be quilting the motifs. Not sure which ones yet. I'm waiting for my muse...

I've started working on my Grandmother's Choice blocks again. I've even been trying different techniques, but that'll be the subject of the next blog.

What I learned:

  • Applique is difficult! It can be done well, but it demands a lot of attention. I'm still very sporadic in my attention but generally speaking, it is getting a little better. I'm not sure that I'm going to practice till I do it perfectly!
  • I really appreciated Cindy Needham's suggestion of quilting every seam before doing the design FMQ. It stabilized the quilt, helped me get the feel of the quilt and gave me time to think about how I'm going to quilt it. Unfortunately I still have no idea what to do....that means that I'll have to wait till inspiration hits - or watch her video a couple more times!

Hope your first day of summer was good. Mine was awesome since my son came home from his summer job and we were able to celebrate his 23rd birthday.

Friendship is sewn with love and measured by kindness.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Cherry Blossoms Table Runner

I wanted to create a few table runners to celebrate spring. The first one was a playful, Pink Lemonade Spring Runner that now resides in Denmark. My idea for the second runner was something light that would highlight the beautiful cherry blossom fabric.
Starburst Design from Dot to Dot quilting
Starburst Design 

None of the patterns I had for table runners were suitable for what I had in mind, so I did what I often do, I adapted a large quilt pattern for the runner. The original pattern, Mod Cabin by Corey Yoder, is in the Fons & Porter's Easy Quilts magazine (Summer 2014). I thought that the modified log cabin blocks would look sharp within a runner and highlight the cherry blossoms fabric. To add a little punch I changed the direction of the middle block (actually I made a mistake but it looks good, so it's now a design element).

I had a lot of fun free motion quilting (FMQ) the runner. I used some of the patterns that I learned in Angela Walter's Dot-to-Dot quilting technique course  from Craftsy in the corners and the setting triangles.
First FMQ motif

I used a different pattern in each block for the space between the cherry blossom fabric. The first pattern was an element taken from a quilting pattern for a larger quilt. Once I finished the FMQ, I had to modify it since it really didn't give me the look I wanted.

Flower FMQ Motif
Flower FMQ Motif




The second and third blocks are great. One is a line of flowers while the other is a line of leaves. They were a pleasure to quilt. At my daughter's suggestion, I added a loop in the line between the leaves. That was a great idea!



Leaf FMQ Motif with loops
Leaf FMQ Motif with loops

I wanted something interesting but not too difficult for the runner's border. As you can see from the image below, I used an "orange peel" design. It's essentially a series of circles and quarter circles. I used a large pill bottle cap to mark out the design. It's a little tricky to quilt because of the travelling required to get from one circle to the next. Travelling in quilting is when you have to sew over a previously sewn line. If done well, you can barely tell but it does require a lot of precision (not my strong suite - but I'm getting better!)
Orange Peel FMQ Motif
Orange Peel FMQ Motif

I really like how the runner came out. It has all the elements that I was looking for in the project. It highlights well the beautiful cherry blossom fabric; it has a spring-like look; it wasn't too difficult to put together and best of all; I got to design and practice a variety of FMQ patterns. What's not to love. Finally, the best part will be giving it away to my aunt Édith. She's a wonderful lady who has gone out of her way to keep us connected to the family after my father died. As I get older, I realise the importance of family, even if they are not physically close by. This is my thank you to her.
Finished Cherry Blossoms Table Runner
Finished Cherry Blossoms Table Runner

What I learned:

  • It's probably a good idea to double check that all the blocks are facing the correct direction before sewing them together. Frankly, I think that having the blocks in different directions adds a lot to the runner but still, checking before sewing things together is a great idea! We'll see if I follow this learning through :-).
  • When I used the Dot to dot quilting technique on my Learning With Colours quilt, after the first block, I ended up marking all of the other blocks. Having quilted all those starburst designs, it was time to attempt them without marking. The results are OK. It's really not easy making those lines but they were more or less straight. The overall effect is fine. I'm sure that practice and attention will bring improvements!
  • Finding the perfect FMQ pattern to use is always a challenge. It's through experience that I'll learn what works. In the end, as long as it's not horrible, it's all about learning. Taking out big areas of FMQ is not what it's about - as many of the Craftsy teachers say "If you take out too much of your quilting, what you'll be good at is taking out!"


May your sorrows be patched and your joys quilted.
Enjoy the spring/summer! 

This post is linked to Fabric Tuesday from Quilt Story

Monday, 26 May 2014

Amalfi Coast Happy Village

Happy Villages by Karen Eckmeier
In March, I took a workshop to create a Happy Village, based on Karen Eckmeier's book, Happy Villages. The course was taught by Jan Kittle, the owner of The PickleDish quilt store in Carleton Place ON.

I completed a large part of the wall hanging that weekend, but like most things, it took me a while to finish the entire project. Well, it's done!

I chose the Italian Amalfi Coast because I fell in love with it when we visited. The views were spectacular and we had the best lunch ever! Anyone who knows me, realizes that travelling is about the food (and the people, the views, the wine and when ever possible, the fabric!)

Amalfi Coast Postcard
Amalfi Coast Postcard
Here's a picture of the postcard that the wall hanging is loosely based on.

The project calls for adding mesh on top of the piece and then sewing over it. This stops the fabric from fraying. I chose not to do that since the mesh really tones down the colours, no matter what colour mesh is used. Since I'm all about colour, I just couldn't do it.
Final Amalfi Coast Happy Village Project
Final Amalfi Coast Happy Village Project

Here's the final project.  It was a lot of fun and I hope to make another when ever I get inspired!
















What I learned:
  • It may have been finicky, but it was a lot of fun.
  • I didn't follow the book's instructions (what else is new!) because I couldn't "see" the houses when I lay the blocks down as directed. So I started working in the left corner adding structures, steps, doors and windows. That worked best for me.
  • I enjoyed the free motion quilting - it's far from accurate, but it goes with the rest of the whimsical project. Besides, from far, you can't tell (and if you can see it, you're standing way to close!) 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Colourful Learning Project

Although I haven't quilted much in the last few weeks, I did get a couple of projects finished. That's always a great feeling. Here's the first one.

I started my Beginner's Quilt-Along Quilt with the Quilting Gallery almost 2 years ago, in June 2012! I've been blogging about this project for a while now, in all of its various stages. That's what's so great about a blog; I have a record of what I did and when I did it! That is so much more reliable than my excuse for a memory. In June of 2012, I made the first 4 blocks and another 2 in July. By the end of August I had 11 of the 13 blocks completed. I was more or less up to date, until we had one week to put the quilt together and another to quilt it. That totally did me in.

Finished Beginner's Quilt-Along Quilt
Finished Beginner's Quilt-Along Quilt
I sort of left the project aside for a while. I'm not sure when I put in the sashing but I do remember adding the piano key border at a CTQG retreat in Cumberland. At some point before March 2014, the quilt was sandwiched and ready to quilt. I do know that I was waiting to learn to free motion quilt (FMQ) so that I could use it as a practice piece. At the beginning of March 2014, I had started to FMQ it using Angela Walter's Dot-to-Dot quilting technique from Craftsy. At the time of the blog, I had 5 squares quilted and 3 others marked.

FMQ on the border and sashing
FMQ on the border and sashing
In March, I joined a 30/30 challenge, where I tried to quilt for 30 minutes each day, for 30 days. I worked on the Beginner's Quilt-Along project during the first week and finished FMQ all of the blocks and sashing. It was a very hectic month with overly ambitious goals, but I sure got a lot accomplished! By the end of the month, I only had the piano key border to finish and the binding to attach. Of course, it didn't help that I couldn't find any more of my sashing fabric to use for the binding!

Since I didn't blog about it, I'm not sure when I finished the quilt. I have a vague recollection of having it done by Easter weekend. Once it was finished, I ordered some Breezy Color Absorber, because I was afraid that the red block would bleed. I had washed the red fabrics several times and even soaked them in salt, but when I rubbed off the marking pencil, some of the red still came off my wet towel. The Breezy worked like a charm and the quilt came out really lovely.

After all of that work, I still needed to create a label for the quilt. It's very pretty, even if it doesn't really look like a sunset.
Foundation Paper Pieced Label
Foundation Paper Pieced Label

Here are close-ups of some of the quilting on the blocks, sashing and piano key border.






What I learned:

  • This was a great project and my first Quilt-Along. I learned a great deal throughout the whole project, from planning and making the blocks to quilting them. 
  • The project was perfect for practicing my FMQ. I was able to use many variations of the patterns I learned in the Craftsy course.
  • For the FMQ, I used a different thread for the top of the quilt, so that it would blend or match each coloured block. In the bobbin, I used very light Bottom Line polyester thread that matched the back. The thread goes a long way; I didn't have to change the bobbin thread every time I changed colours; and the thread really works well in my machine. It was a real charm.
  • The one planning error I did was not putting aside fabric for the finding. I was able to find matching fabric, but I do hope that the next time I make a quilt top, that I'll set aside some fabric in a marked baggy, with the project so that I won't end up using the binding fabric in another project. And, if I don't have the binding fabric, then I should write myself a note in the pattern to say that I need to find fabric for the binding (that might save me an hour or so frantically going through my stash looking for fabric that isn't there!). Here's hoping I'll put this recommendation into action!
  • So what do you do with a practice quilt that is by all standards far from perfect but made with love? You find it a good home where it will be appreciated, flaws and all. Thanks Diane!


Enjoy the rest of spring, or the beginning of summer wherever you are!
Happy quilting.















Friday, 9 May 2014

Invitation to the CTQG Quilt Show this Weekend

This weekend is the Common Thread Quilt Guild's quilt show. It is held every second year at the RA Centre's curling link in Ottawa. The RA Centre is located at 2451 Riverside Drive. I hope you'll have a chance to attend if you're in the area.

Patches
Patches
This year I will be exhibiting 3 wall hangings in the "pieced wall hangings" category. You may recognize these from previous blogs. "Patches" will be there of course!

Holiday Wreath
Holiday Wreath












I will also have my holiday wreath as well as Lilliane's favourite - Winter Vacancy.
Winter Vacancy
Winter Vacancy

Since the quilts were already completed this winter, this is the first year that preparing for the quilt show was almost painless. I did have to make and attach a sleeve to the back of each quilt since my hanging technique of choice is pinning them to the wall (you can even see the pins in the photos!) I completed Patches' hanging sleeve almost a month ago, but that's as far as I got. Of course, the night the quilts were due, I was busily stitching the last sleeve... so for me, that was pretty darn organised!

I am really looking forward to going to the show. There are always so many amazing quilts. Since I'm working on security Saturday afternoon, I'll be able to spend some quality time looking at quilts before and after my shift. I love looking at quilts, appreciating the work and getting ideas for my own creations. Now that I am free motion quilting, it's even more fun to look at the quilts since I finally understand how they are quilting it!

What I learned:

  • Even if you do part of the work ahead of time, it's not finished until the last one is done!

Hope to see you at the show and Happy Mother's Day!