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
I've linked to these great linky parties. Check them out!
Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Needle and Thread Thursday, Off the Wall Friday, Finished or Not Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop? I have also linked up Bandit's picture to Pets on Quilts 2017. Check out everyone's adorable pictures!

Ribbon Wreath Wall Hanging

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.
I've also linked up to Sarah Goer's Show Me Something Orange linking party.

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,

Friday, November 18, 2016

Virtual Trunk Show

For the second year in a row, Whims and Fancies is hosting the virtual Trunk full of Quilts. To prepare for this special event, I reviewed all of my 2016 posts. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount and the variety of my creations this year. There are:

I'm going to show you a sample of my favourites from each category. 

The Great Hockey Jersey Quilt

A few of my quilts have traveled far this year. My Bali-Flip lap quilt in neutrals went to Denmark after Christmas and then the Great Hockey Jersey Quilt went away to university with my nephew in the fall.

Bali-Flip Lap Quilt

I made two baby quilts this year - the first is an original design, "Beautiful Day" and then the "Fox in a Box", is from a Row House Creations pattern.
Beautiful Day Baby Quilt
Fox in a Box Baby Quilt

Hexagon Runner
I also made two table runners, one for my pen-pal of over 30 years and the other for my first guild swap to a newer quilting friend.
Orange Peel Table Runner

Landscape Art Quilts

This is by far the category with the most projects this year. Part of the reason for this is my ongoing personal Landscape Art Quilt Challenge.

My favourite was made for the Spring Art with Fabric Blog Hop. It's based on a Northern Ontario artist, Sheila Langlois', painting. Although it's not my own design, in my opinion, it's the best work I've done this year.

Light at the end of the tunnel art quilt
based on Sheila Langlois' painting
Another favourite is my Woven Landscape. It was interesting to use weaving in a quilted piece. Since weaving was my first love, I want to explore this further eventually.
Woven Landscape

I also want to mention my Hockey Day in Canada quilt since it will be auctioned off in December as part of our Workplace Charity Campaign.

Hockey Day in Canada

Multi-Media Fibre Art Creations

At the beginning of the year I participated in a few weeks of the Colour Me Positive Art Journal Challenge. I didn't last very long, but I did learn a few techniques for writing on fabric as well as practicing my FMQ.
Week 6 of Colour Me Positive Art Journal Challenge

This piece was done for Week 6 of the Challenge. It was based on His Holiness the Dali Lama's quote, "Be kind wherever possible. It is always possible.” I used fabric markers as well as FMQ.

My favourite multi-media art piece was made at a Needle Felting Play Day with the Out of the Box Fibre Artists Group (OOTB). It was a wonderful day and I created "The Feather" using paper, felt, wool roving, cheese cloth, beads and a pin.

"The Feather"

Whole Cloth Quilt

Finally I finished a whole cloth quilt this year and showed it at the CTQG Quilt Show this spring. It was a piece based on Cindy Needham’s Machine Quilting Wholecloth Quilts on Craftsy. It was incredibly long to FMQ, but a great practicing opportunity!
Floral Fantasy Whole Cloth Quilt
What I've learned:

  • My friends say that I'm a prolific quilter - I guess that I should admit that I am. This trunk show, which is only a sampling of my finished quilts this year, is the proof!
  • It would seem that some of my best work have been done because I participated in a specific event, be it a quilt show, an online blog hop or challenge, or a course. I keep saying that I don't like deadlines and pressure, but these often help me produce.
  • This year, I learned the hard way, the importance of keeping my quilting fun. When I take it too seriously, I tend to over-think, over-do and over-stress. That's not a good place for me. I know that I want to keep learning, but it can't be at any expense. This is a hobby - an important one to me, but not a full-time job. It needs to remain enjoyable.
  • I've learned so much more about myself and my quilting since I've taken the time to reflect on creating art through this blog. Thanks for joining me on my journey. 

I've linked this post to the Trunk full of Quilts page. Since I was on holidays last week, I finally had time to read the blog posts. It was a real treat. Check them out!
Also linking in MOP Monday,