As usual, with three days left in the month, it was time to sew my November bee blocks for the Great White North Bee. For this month Barb sent out seome squares of fabrics in a contemporary Christmas colour scheme and asked for Scrap Jar Stars made using this tutorial.
It took about 45 minutes to sew each block (I chain pieced where I could, it would probably go faster if I was making more than two blocks) and I think it was worth it -- these blocks are so neat. Check out the tutorial for a picture of what they look like when out together into a quilt -- I'm in love with the secondary design that they make. They were fun to make too -- not boring yet not difficult. Perfect design for a bee too!
November sewing commitments are now done. On to Christmas gift sewing...
This quarter of the 4x5 Bee was delayed a bit while the rules were tweaked (they now have only three "quarters" per year and each one is only two months long from signup to sending) but once signups opened I put my name down for a paper-pieced hive.
Not too long ago I stumbled across The Compass Collection, a free block of the month program by Quilting on the Square. Every month since February they've been releasing a new paper-pieced compass pattern. All of the designs are stunning, some are truly spectacular and they are all free (which I can't believe.) I knew that I wanted to choose on of the designs from this collection for the 4x5 bee. I went with Kaleidoscope as it looked like it would work well with the number of colours people in the 4x5 bee choose (2 or 3.)
I am incredibly happy with how they turned out! The block has 88 pieces which might sound like a lot but it really doesn't add to the difficulty of the block at all -- it just takes a little bit longer to sew. Each block took me abot 90 minutes to sew after cutting all of the fabrics. Fun fact: I actually resewed the centre seam of the grey block after I saw this picture. It drove me crazy that the seams weren't matching in the centre.
I'm going to take a break from the 4x5 Bee now. I really want to focus on sewing for myself and I'm getting tired of the mad rush I always feel to get my blocks done (which is of course always my fault for leaving things until the last minute.) I'm looking forward to sewing just for fun and with no deadlines (nevermind the quilt that I want to make as a Christmas gift for someone...)
In related news I also completed some more blocks for the Great White North Bee.
I made six "Kissy Fish" blocks for Nicole. She had sent precut squares of fabric so all I had to do was cut them into triangles and sew. Easy peasy and it probably took around 30 minutes for all six blocks. Nothing like some super fast blocks to make you feel accomplished! These were actually last month's blocks -- I still have to sew the blocks for this month but now that I hate those 4x5 bee blocks out of the way that shouldn't be a problem.
I don't participate in a lot of swaps but when I first heard about Mouthy Stitches last year I signed up. The project was small (a zipped pouch) and the premise was promising -- there was a requirement that every participant had to be "mouthy" (i.e., comment on every photo and participate in the discussion threads.) The mouthiness takes away some of the risk of getting an item that really doesn't match your tastes and also means you aren't left in the dark about what your partner likes. As an added bonus, sending extras in the swap package was forbidden apart from one very specific item -- so, no fretting over trying to come up with cool extras (and then paying ridiculous postage fees to send them out.) If you're curious, the pouch I made for that swap is here. The extra that time was one FQ worth of scraps.
This time around I signed up the instant I saw the signups open (a good thing as they closed after a few hours.) The project is different (we are all making a reversible tote using this pattern) but the premise is the same. The extra this time is a key fob. Everyone has to use the same tote bag pattern but is supposed to customize at least one side of it to their partner's tastes.
Luckly for me my swap mama did a superb job of picking my partner and I knew what to make her the instant I saw her mosaic. Meet Carl:
I've made Carl twice before (here and here.) The pattern is available here and is by the very talented Shape Moth. The finished size of the block in the pattern is 12" which is a bit too big for this tote. I scaled it down to 10" (by printing the pattern at 83%) to make sure he fit. The pink fabric is Robert Kaufman Essex Linen. I sewed strips to each side of the pieces block to centre it on the bag (later realizing that I should have moved it up slightly as some of the bottom of the panel ends up on the bottom of the bag after boxing the corner.) If I ever do this again I would make the top strip one inch narrower than the bottom strip. I also applied medium weight fusible interfacing to both of the exterior pieces to add some bosy and increase the stability of the piecing.
Everyone else in the swap was doing way more than just piecing a single side of the bag so I felt like I had to do the same. Plus, I selected the "advanced" box on the signup sheet. Some people pieced the lining too but I didn't go quite that far.
The piecing on the back is very simple -- I used the same rainbow of fabrics that I used for the stripes on Carl's back as well as the text fabric that I used for the branch. The finished width of the text strips is 1" and the coloured strips are 1/2" finished. I added pink Essex Linen strips to either side to centre the pieced portion on the panel. Easy peasy.
The fun thing about this bag is that it's completely reversible.
I used thus super awesome Enchino Decoro fabric that I love almost as much as I love Carl. I added a small zip pocket (lined with Carl skin....ha!)
Finally, the key fob. I actually started out this swap with only a very vague idea as to what a key fob was. It turns out it's really just a key chain.
For my key fob I used the strap-making directions from Elizabeth Hartman's Perfect Zip Bags pattern (purchased for the last round of Mouthy Stitches, conveniently.) I added some medium weight fusible interfacing to the text fabric to give the fob a bit more body and fused on the strip of rainbow bits which I then zigzagged along the edges of. The finished size of the fabric portions is 1" wide by about 6" long. The whole thing took less than 30 minutes and I'm really happy with how it turned out.
Everyone has started sending out the totes they've made so it's only a matter of days (hopefully!) until I get mine. I can't wait -- there have been so many bags posted that I would love to have. This is the mosaic I posted for my partner which I think makes obvious some of my more recent obsessions... Oh texty fabrics and rainbows, how I love you!
Yet again I left my 3x6 Bee blocks to the very last minute (they had to be mailed by the 15th, I started sewing on the 9th. I wanted to mail on my blocks on the 13th so I had four evenings to make seven blocks.) Sigh. Maybe one day I'll learn.
As for the past few quarters I was in a paper-pieced hive. Paper-pieced blocks rarely take me more than an hour or so to make so I thought it would be easy peasy to whip out a few blocks. I chose a free pattern that I stumbled upon online called 3 Layered Star by Emedoodle of Mommy's Nap Time. I love it because it's a very modern looking star. Stangely though it was incredibly time consuming to make -- each block took a solid two hours. Nonetheless I think that the results were worth it.
This is definitely not a beginner pattern. You have to add your own seam allowances on when you trim down your sections (alternatively you could redraw the pattern with seam allowances) and there are a lot of bias edge to sew together (I'm used to making blocks in 8 pieces, this one is done in 16.) There are 16 seams coming together at the centre point (I actually broke a needle sewing through the centre on the final seam of one block) so you'll probably want to press your seams open when joining the sections. It's a gorgeous design though so don't let the slight challenge stop you from trying it.
I think I'm going to take a break from the 3x6 bee now -- I would really like to do some of my own sewing and not have any deadlines to worry about. Not to mention the fact that I have two quilts' worth of blocks from this bee that I have yet to sew together.
It's bee block time again. I had been putting off these blocks for Linda in the Great White North Bee 3 as it seemed like they had a kabillion pieces. They do have many pieces but they went together so quickly -- there was no reason to worry.
Linda sent many wonky red and yellow fabric strips along with instructions for the block, which is from a book called "Simple Contemporary Quilts." The unfinished block size is 14.5". I think that her quilt is going to be gorgeous.
September is my turn to send out fabric in the bee so this month I also had to make sample blocks. (Tip: ALWAYS make sample blocks using the same fabric amounts you plan to send out in a bee. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten insufficient fabric in a bee package or have been unable to figure out exactly what the sender wanted me to make.)
I've been collecting fabrics with text of them for a while and thought that this bee would be a good reason to cut into them. A wanted a simple block to show off the fabrics -- I'm using a pattern called "Sunday Morning" from the book Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkinson.
These blocks are super fast to put together. The unfinished block size is 10.5". I'm hoping to up size the quilt to be 100" square. I'm also hopeful that I'll get an overall low-volume effect like the quilt shown in the book, though mine will have a few more vibrant pops.
So, this crazy thing happened -- I wrote my first pattern ever and it was published!
Way back in January there was a post on the Fat Quarterly Blog asking for people to comment if they were interested in participating in a designer challenge using the Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful. I love curved piecing and was intrigued by the idea of coming up with my own design, which I have never done before, so I left a comment with a link to my Flickr photostream (the free ruler didn't hurt either!) Then, out of the blue a few weeks later, I got an email letting me know that I was one of the chosen participants.
I had my design in mind almost immediately, inspired by how the basic shape that the ruler helps you cut is very reminiscent of the arcs in a double wedding ring quilt. Pezzy Prints had just come out at that point and seemed perfect for the design. I agonized over choosing a background colour, though. I wanted something high contrast and obsessively searched for other Pezzy Prints quilts to find a colour that would work. I ended up using Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Solid in Coal.
I called it Promise Ring.
I sewed up my quilt and spent a ridiculous amount of time writing the pattern (I had no idea it was that time consuming but taking photos and writing descriptions of every step takes hours and hours) and sent it off to FQ, worried that they would hate it or it was too detailed or too similar to something else or... Astonishingly, they not only liked it but were so happy with it that instead of publishing it as a blog post they decided to publish it in Issue 10! So now I'm a published quilt designer. Crazy.
If you were thinking about buying the Quick Curve Ruler, do it. It really is worth it and I can think of so many things I could use it for. Right now I'm thinking that this quilt would have been a whole lot easier and more accurate if I had had the ruler to cut the curves. There's a Flickr group with pictures of many different projects made with the ruler here.
If you were thinking about subscribing to Fat Quarterly or even just buying a single issue you should do that too. It is, by far, the best quilting magazine out there if you are into modern quilting.
Of course, if you buy both the ruler and the magazine you can make my quilt! And if you have any troubles I'm always more than happy to answer questions.
I left it to the last minute this month but did manage to finish my July blocks for the Great White North Bee 3 in time (I've never been late with bee blocks before and I have a goal of never being late, which of course has resulted in a few late nights.)
These blocks are for Kristy who sent us fabrics already cut (!!) and ready to sew. She asked us to make Courtyard Garden blocks using the tutorial here (the pattern is also in the book "Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters.) She asked for a purple block with a pink centre and a pink block with a purple centre and of course I used the wrong centre colours the first time so I had to rip my blocks back to the point of sewing on the corner triangles. Sigh.
If you look at the picture in the tutorial do you notice that the centre square is quite a bit larger than the one in my blocks? My guess is that the squares cut for the centre should be 2.5" or 3" (not 2") if you want to match the picture. The blocks are lovely either way though.
I would love to go to QuiltCon but the cost of a plane ticket from Canada combined with the cost of the hotel and the conference itself makes it pretty much impossible (unless I can figure out a way to convince my bank to take quilts in lieue of money for mortgage payments...) I decided to participate in the block challenge anyway though -- I love their colour scheme and am always happy to have a reason to buy more fabric.
This is my entry:
The unfinished size is 12.5" tall by about 16" wide. The fabrics are all Robert Kaufman Kona solids from Mad About Patchwork. The curved triangle unit is paper-pieced and the background pieces are attached using a standard pinless curved piecing technique. Those are my two favourite techniques so this is a perfect block to represent me as a quilter. The block design is the same one that I used on the front of this pouch except I used the fancier triangle version rather than plain rectangles (much easier on a large block like this -- the block on that pouch is only 6" square.)
The foundation I used was published in a July 2011 article in American Quilter magazine. The technique is also described in far more detail in the book "Flying Colors" by Gail Garbor. I used computer software to enlarge and scale the foundation from a small square to a large rectangle.
Fingers crossed that my block makes it into the final quilt!
Side question: Holy moly, the entry fee for quilts to the QuiltCon quilt show is $30 per quilt and that's just to have your quilt considered -- it might not even get chosen for the show. Is that normal? I would love to enter my Rainbow Compass mini quilt but I'm not sure if I should be outraged by the price or not.
I've been a member of the 3x6 Bee for a couple of years now. Every three months you signup if your want to join in for the quarter and then the bee caretakers organize every into groups of 7 people called hives. Each person specifies what colours he or she wants blocks in and makes a mosaic to provide examples for the hive. Each person picks a quilt block design and makes 6 blocks (I always also make a block for myself) in each person's chosen colours.
I really like this bee (and it's sister bee, the 4x5 bee) because it's only a three month commitment and I get to pick the block design to make. This quarter I signed up for the paper piecing hive which means that everyone picks a block design that is paper pieced.
The pattern I used is Twirling Star from "Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 1." You can buy a digital copy of the magazine from the Quiltmaker website (which is perfect for paper piecing as then you can just print out the foundations.)
You really see the colour trends in quilting through this bee. When I first started I made a lot of red and aqua blocks. Now the trend seems to be grey and aqua and I haven't had someone ask for red and aqua in a few quarters. This quarter my choice was lime green and grey (it has been for a couple of quarters now.)
One of my favourite bees has just started its third round -- The Great White North Bee. I love this bee because it's all Canadian (postage costs on bee packages to the US can be insane -- I once spent $80 sending out all of my packages to my hive mates) and I've been in bees with most of the members before. We have only eight members but each of us makes two blocks each month so we end up with a good number of blocks.
For our first month Kelly sent out some solid 5" charm squares and asked for blocks made out of randomly placed HSTs to make a quilt like this one.
The blocks were super easy to make -- I just randomly paired up the squares, made HSTs out of them (like in this tutorial,) squares them up to 4.5" and then randomly placed the squares in each block.
I would love to make a quilt like this one some day -- I've actually been thinking of using the leftover strips from my Rainbow Compass quilt to make a whole bunch of HSTs. I have more than half left of each of the 64 strips I used plus whole strips of many, many colours that I didn't use. Yet another quilt on my "some day" list.
This is yet another block for a member of A Quilting Journey Round Robin Bee (I tend to get several packages in the course of a couple of weeks and then get no more for months at a time.) This block is for Cindy who is making a wonky neighbourhood quilt. She asked for wonky houses are anything else that would work with her theme like trees. Her starter block was a fun wonky house.
The first block I made is a wonky, paper-pieced tree. The pattern is "Topsy Turvy Tree" from the book Modern Blocks by Susanne Woods.
Although this one is paper-pieced if I make this block again I think I will just improvise the piecing. There are a couple of annoying issues with the foundations provided in the book: they have to be enlarged (which, for me, means a special trip to a copy shop) and they are all printed in reverse! My block is actually a mirror image of the one shown in the book because I wasn't paying attention and didn't notice that the foundation was printed in reverse. Sigh. I'd love to know how a mistake like that can happen in a book and if it will be corrected in future printings.
Even with those issues I had lots of fun making this block (really, you can't go wrong with some Heather Ross Gnomes and a bit of Flea Market fancy.) I even made a second block for Cindy because I was having so much fun (plus, wonky houses are easy peasy to make.) I figured that my gardening gnomes needed a home...
This block is pieced improvisationally. I love the toadstools on the roof (of course a gnome house would have them) and the green bike parked outside.
I've made another block for A Quilting Journey Round Robin Bee, this time for Melissa who asked for bright, cheery pinwheels. Her inspiration block was a lovely circle of geese. Melissa's original quilt was sadly lost somewhere so we are all now making angel blocks for her.
The block is paper-pieced (my favourite technique) and is called Twirling Star and the pattern is from "Quiltermaker's 100 Blocks Volume 1." The magazine is no longer in prints but you can buy the digital version on the Quiltmaker website. I actually prefer the digital verison as you can then print the foundations yourself rather than having to photocopy or trace them.
I actually screwed up the order of the colours in this block though I know that that's the kind of thing that no one but me will notice. I had carefully arranged all of my cut fabrics in the exact order I wanted them and then forgot to arrange the foundations in the same order. Sigh. It's driving me crazy that the colours are not arranged symmetrically (and yes, I did consider remaking the block, then I realized that was crazy.)
For more than two years now I've been participating in the Quilting Journey Round Robin Bee on Flickr. We each made an inspiration block and started a journal and then sent the packages in a circle around the world. The quilt gets back to its owner once everyone in the group has created a block based on the inspiration block and added an entry to the journal.
Not many quilts have been completed yet and we have lost a fair number of the original members but I've had fun making blocks for everyone (writing a journal entry stresses me out every single time though.)
For her quilt Krista (the same Krista who quilted my Charming Neptune Wave quilt) made an inspiration block using bright Kaffe Fassett fabrics. She mentioned she liked stars and circles. This is the block I made for her:
The pattern is one of the blocks from the 2012 BOM offered by The Quilt Show. I dug into my Kaffe stash and picked many different orange/red and blue/green prints. The points are paper-pieced, the centre circle is applied with raw-edge appliqué using a tiny zigzag stitch and I set the star into the background using Dale Fleming's Six-Minute Circle technique.
Now the quilt is heading back to Krista (finally!)
This past week-end I made a lovely trip to the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale. This sale attracts 15000-20000 people every year and has two major
features: food and a quilt auction.
First, the food. Oh, the food. The sale is actually known for its Strawberry Pie (which I really don't think live up to hype.) People line up at the crack of dawn and wait hours in line to buy a
buy for $10.00. They auctioned off the last pie for $300! What I love though are the donuts and cream buns. The donuts are freshly made right on site while you watch and are still warm when you
buy them. I had no idea that donuts (which I normally could live without) could be so good. Then there are the cream buns. They are a rich kaiser-like bread roll filled with a thick,
frosting-like filling. They sell out quickly and the final bag was auctioned for $150.
Of course, the main reason I attend the sale is for the quilt auction. Modern quilting has yet to each the relief sale but the quilts are nonetheless gorgeous. The vast majority are hand-quilted.
Interestingly, a significant proportion are made from poly-cotton blend fabric (which is indicated in the auction brochure.) Most are bed-sized and the bidders show a strong preference for larger
quilts. The big trend this year was cross-stiteched blocks -- there were at least half a dozen quilts of this variety. Last year the trend was printed double-wedding-ring panels which were then
They have a frame up on the auction stage that rotates and hold two quilts. The quilt being auctioned faces the audience while the next quilt is arranged on the other side and then the people
manning the frame rotate the frame while the auctioneer does his thing so that the entire arena can see the quilt.
They start bidding on most quilts at around $500. The nicest quilts go for more than $1000. No quilt sells for less than $100. This year the highest bid was $6700 and the total raised was
$335000. A total of 211 quilts were auctioned and every penny spent by the purchasers goes to the Mennonite Central Committee for their charity work.
I now have added a couple of things to my bucket list:
- Donate a quilt to the relief sale
- Donate a quilt to the relief sale that sells for more than $1000
- Buy a quilt at the relief sale
I'm curious to see how a modern quilt would do at the auction and I plan to find out! As for purchasing one, a budget of $500 would get you a quilt, though it would be basic and small. A budget
of $1000 would get you one of the nicer quilts. $2000 would get you almost any quilt in the auction.
Every year the biggest spender at the auction is Lens Mill Stores which has a substantial private quilt collection. This year they purchased the feature
quilt as well as the highest-priced quilt along with many of the other quilts that sold for $1000+. If you start bidding against them you can be 99% sure that they are going to outbid you.
I took pictures of some of my favourite quilts -- click on the picture to get more info (including the selling price.) I am already looking forward to next year (when, if I'm lucky, I'll get to
see my own quilt up there.)
I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while. Up until now I have limited all of my online activity to Flickr (I don't even have a Facebook account!) However, the stars have aligned in such a way that I think that the timing seems perfect. This week-end I took photos of my most recent (and by far my most favourite) completed quilt and today is the final day to enter the Bloggers' Quilt Festival. So, here are my photos and my entry.
Shortly after I started quilting (two years ago) I stumbled across a blog entry from someone selling her Neptune by Tula Pink fabric stash. I knew I loved the line and had a vague understanding that it was hard to find fabric so I snapped up nine 1/2 yard cuts for what I now know was an amazing deal. Later, while browsing my local discount fabric shop (yay for Len's Mill!) I found one more Neptune print (in the Children's' Novelties section of all places) and picked up a few yards of that. It then languished in my stash for months, relegated to the section of my shelves reserved for fabrics too precious to use.
Around the same time that I was discovering Neptune, Elizabeth Hartman released her New Wave quilt pattern. I love all of her patterns (my first quilt ever and the quilt that got me obsessed with modern quilting was her Paintbox Quilt) so I purchased New Wave and set it aside.
In the summer of 2011 (or around then) Tula Pink released her Prince Charming line. I was immediately struck by how much it looked like Neptune 2.0 and how well the two lines went together. Right away I knew that Neptune + Prince Charming + New Wave would make a perfect quilt. The pieces in New Wave are large enough that the overall effect of the prints doesn't get lost and the white sashing really helps different fabrics stand out. I slowly built my Prince Charming collection until I had the right prints to go with my Neptune prints (yay for Free Spirit printing their lines more than once!)
In January of 2012 I attended a quilt retreat with the Ann Arbour Modern Quilt Guild. It's not exactly my local guild but I know one of the members and was lucky enough to get invited -- they are an awesome group. My New Wave quilt seemed like the perfect project to take along as the cutting and piecing aren't overly complex. To make it especially stress free I bought an acrylic template from TabSlot and it was absolutely worth it. After one (long) day of sewing at the retreat I had my completed top. I changed the pattern slightly by adding one additional column and adding a row of plain white wedges to the top and bottom. By doing both of these things I maximized my use of my precious Neptune and minimized any waste. It also made the quilt bigger -- 99" tall and 102" wide.
I knew that such a precious quilt needed some extra special quilting. I had met Krista Withers in an online quilting bee we were both members of and knew that she was getting into doing more modern quilting so she came to mind right away. I asked her to do whatever she wanted as long as it was spectacular. What she did is absolutely perfect and I couldn't be happier. It's almost unreal that I get to sleep under this quilt every night.
My label came as a digital image from Tula Pink that I received for buying tickets in her Time Capsule raffle. I used Spoonflower to print it on quilting cotton and added the info using a Sharpie. It's the perfect label as the image is the same one that's in the backing fabric.