Wednesday, May 30, 2018

May progress & finishes

May is always a crazy busy month with lots of quilt shows, events and deadlines. You may have been following these in my last few posts. Here are some updates.

Comfort Quilt QAL

I have been participating in the Comfort Quilt QAL based on Amy Ellis' book, Modern Heritage Quilts: New Classics for Every Generation. My version is not her lovely low volume quilt but rather some colourful cuddle quilts using a variation of her pattern. It's great to see everyone's progress on Instagram. There are some fabulous quilts in the making 😊

I want to make 4 cuddle quilts but I very realistically chose to make two cuddle quilts as my May OMG - One monthly goal. I've learned a lot during the finishing of the first quilt. You can read about it below.

22" cuddle quilt made using a variation of Amy's Comfort Quilt
I attached the binding by machine for this first quilt since I had lots of space to sew within the border.

Here is the second cuddle quilt, before attaching the binding. The quilting can be seen better on this picture.
Second cuddle quilt, before the binding
Second finished cuddle quilt

There was less room on the border so I attached the binding and finished it by hand.

These two cuddle quilts were my May OMG. Done!

I am planning on making at least two more but it will probably wait till the fall.

Starry Bright Sky QAL

It's the end of the month and I finished my star last night. As with the origami block, I had help from my son. I don't do 3D very well, even if it's just folding fabric. 😊

Fabric cutout of a star for month 5

Upcoming Kingfisher Stitch-Along and Hexie Runner

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm getting excited about joining the Kingfisher Stitch-Along to make a quilt with some English Paper Pieced (EPP) flowers. I just love being able to use my hexies in different ways. 

I just checked out the Stitch-Along site and I'm in luck! They are using 1" hexies which is what I've been working with, so I probably have a few flowers ready :-)

I've been working on finishing my Hexie runner for a while now. It's very slow going but I plan on finishing it very soon so that I can concentrate on this next Stitch-Along.  This is on my To-do Tuesday list for this week.
Finishing the Hexie Runner soon
What I learned
  • Sewing with flannel is different than sewing with regular quilting cotton. The stitches end up being more embedded into the fabric, making picking apart the sewing very difficult! Of course, today, I read an article about sewing with flannel. They recommend that you use a slightly longer stitch. I hope I remember that for my next batch of cuddle quilts.
  • I measured the quilt tops before adding the border, but after finishing the FMQ, the yellow quilt barely made it to 22" while the blue one was slightly over. In theory they were the same size, and I even used the same size of borders. 
  • I have mentioned before that I am accuracy challenged - that would account for the difference in sizes. I hope the babies won't complain about a ½".
  • Although my cuddle quilts are quite different from Amy's Comfort quilt, I really enjoyed checking out participants' work on Instagram. 
  • This month's Starry Bright Sky block was made thanks to my son's help. I'm glad that he's around to help me with anything 3D or involving math.
  • My star cutout is not as starry as I would have liked but then, like snowflakes, they are all different (aren't they?)
  • For my Hexie Runner, I'm using the same binding technique as the first table topper I made. I'm not sure if it's because it's a larger piece, but it's not going as well as my first one. I hope to have it finished in the next couple of weeks.
  • Great news! I won 2 spools of lovely green thread from Connecting Threads through Alida's Starry Bright Sky QAL. They were shades that I didn't have - wonderful! Thanks Alida :-)
Related Links

Linking Parties
I will be linking up to the Elm Street Quilts' OMG May Finish Link-up as well as Starry Bright Sky QAL- Month 5 link-up. I will also be linking up to many other linky parties. Join me to see what's new out there. Midweek Makers, Let`s Bee Social, Tuesday Colour Linky Party, Linky Tuesday, Design Wall Monday, Moving It Forward Monday, Main Crush Monday, Monday Making, To-Do Tuesday, WOW Wips On WednesdayMay Color Challenge Link Up, Needle & Thread Thursday, Free Motion Mavericks

Project Details

Two cuddle quilts
22" x 22"
Adapted pattern: Comfy Quilt by Amy Ellis
Material: cotton flannel
Techniques: piecing, free motion quilting

Some great news - these quilts were featured on Muv's Free Motion Mavericks!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Morning has broken - Art with Fabric Spring 2018

Welcome to Art with Fabric, Spring 2018 edition!

Morning has broken

What if surrealists created happy, colourful art? That's the premise of my art piece today.
Morning has broken
Alida, our amazing host and organiser, chose the theme of 1+1=3. I did some research and while I'm intrigued by surrealism, I find the lack of colour rather depressing. There is enough harshness in the world without my contributing to it. However, when I found a painting featuring an egg as the sunrise, my imagination went into overdrive. I love the concept of the egg as sun and harbinger of life. So, I took the egg concept and ran with it.

Vladimir Kush - Sunrise by the Ocean, 2000

Vladimir Kush was born and grew up in Russia where he attended art school. He now lives in Hawaii and owns 4 art galleries. Many of his work are based on mythology and symbolism. While some of his pieces have vivid colours, I find that as a surrealist, there is usually something evocative and sometimes disturbing in his work.

When I first saw Sunrise by the Ocean on the internet, it was attributed to Salavador Dali and called L'Aurora, 1948. It was my daughter, who is studying art history, who researched the piece and found that it was actually a work by Vladimir Kush. Apparently misattribution on the internet is quite rampant.

Creating a background

The first step was to find fabric for the background. Both larger pieces are hand dyed fabric. I bought the sky fabric but the bottom fabric comes from last summer's experiment with hand dying. The egg shell is from a commercial fabric with a very light paisley pattern. It was perfect for free motion quilting (FMQ). I didn't cut the ragged edges of the eggshell until later, when I was sure that it was what I wanted.

I experimented with three different suns. The first was a bright yellow fabric but was too small. Then, somewhere on the internet, I saw an amazing looking moon that had been pieced. My first pieced attempt was too symmetrical but the next one made it into the piece.

Creating the background
You can see a little bit of pink fabric peaking behind the sky. I didn't want to use interfacing so I used some thin cotton fabric to make it a little sturdier, since I knew that I would be attaching a lot of fabric to the background.

Auditioning the foreground

I cut out many flowers, leaves, trees, animals etc. (can you spot some of Tula Pink's amazing fabric?) but wasn't sure how I wanted these together. On my new design boards, I auditioned three different "looks".

I can't exactly say why I chose the foreground that I did, except that it was somehow lighter and more vibrant (Foreground #2).
Foreground #1

Foreground #2

Foreground #3
After examining the photos of the three foregrounds, I chose to go with the lighter one and then played with the placement, using fabrics from all three to come up with this almost final version.
The almost final foreground
I sewed the fabric to the background, using a lot of thread sketching to highlight some of the fabrics and colours.

Details: the sun and water
Shimmering sun and water

Now it was time to make the sun and water shimmer. I knew that this would be the highlight of the piece and that made me quite nervous. I took out my box of shinny transparent fabrics (gauze, tulle, silk, etc) and started playing with colours. It's not a very big box and my variety is rather limited but I really wanted to make it work without going to get more fabric.

I have a very light silk scarf that I bought in China that has the most amazing colours. The scarf is too delicate to wear but is perfect for using in art. I did a lot of fussy cutting to get the yellow/pink/orange for the sun. The fraying added the perfect look around the sun.

For the reflection of the sun in the water, I already had a yellow hand-dyed fabric to work with. Using some gauze and more silk, I managed to get the colours that I wanted. Over all that went a sparkling tulle that just makes the water sparkle and shimmer.

Putting it all together

I always find it hard to decide when to stop thread sketching and when to add the batting to quilt. I actually sandwiched this piece before I started playing with the sun and the water.

Details: the sun and eggshells
For the eggshells, I FMQ the design on the fabric before sandwiching the piece. Only the outline of the eggshells are quilted, making them really pop out.

After the sun and water were finished, it was time to start quilting the foreground and finally the sky. I played around with the quilting of the flowers, sometimes quilting the actual flowers, while at other times quilting around the flowers to make them pop. There were many lessons to be learned 😊

I decided to use a facing to finish the quilt. I like how it finishes it and at the same time it will let me finish working on the quilt while making it look good on this post. I still have a little bit of quilting left to do on the background.
Morning has broken, Art with Fabric, Spring 2018
What I learned
  • This was the first time that I've taken the time to create various parts of the quilt to audition it, like the sun and the different foregrounds. It really didn't take that long, and was so worth it in the end. I feel like this project was much more deliberately constructed than my other work. 
  • I've never quite fallen in love with one of my pieces as I have with this one. Last week I was higher than a kite....on art!
  • However, after that euphoria, it was a hard drop! I think most of it was due to having worked so much on this. I was exhausted. I actually did almost nothing except read two books. It was also difficult to go back to actually finish the piece, but once I started, everything was fine. 
  • As I mentioned, I learned some interesting lessons while doing all of this FMQ. It's probably because I was bored that I started experimenting with two fabrics that are similar - they both have smaller flowers with lots of leaves, and I had already thread sketched the leaves. For one of the fabrics, I quilted the flowers and some of the leaves, while for the other, I quilted the white space between the flowers and the leaves. I must admit that I would not usually have thought to FMQ in the white background but it was very effective.
  • I had a really hard time deciding what to do with the sky. Finally I just FMQ some lines and added a few clouds. It was hard to keep it simple after having quilted so much in the foreground. I think that keeping it simple was probably a good idea. (I have to finish quilting a few of the lines to the edge since the piece ended up being bigger than I originally thought!)
  • I still want to do a little bit of quilting of the background fabric that shows around the foreground. I did some of it, and it does look better when it's flattened and lets the flowers in the foreground pop.
  • I also considered adding some seed beads, but I really don't want to distract from the shimmering water and sun - so I think I'll skip the beading. I'll just have to find another project to bead :-)
Project Details

Morning has broken
14" x 20"
Material: hand-dyed fabrics, commercial fabrics, tulle, silk, gauze.
Techniques: applique, free motion quilting, improv piecing

Related Links
Here are the links to all of the other participants of this Art with Fabric Blog Hop. I will update the titles and their links as the week progresses.

Monday, May 21, 2018
Janeen: Art with Fabric Bog Hop
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Shannon: New Quilt: Twining, Art with Fabric Blog Hop

Julie: Art with Fabric Blog Hop

Art with Fabric blog hop - Spring 2018 - DAY 4
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Alida: Art with Fabric blog hop - Spring 2018 - Poison Apple

Linking parties

Please note that although you may have subscribed to my blog, I do not collect or share any of your information, including when I host link-up parties. If you are a subscriber, you can unsubscribe at any time. Blogger and Google may use cookies and collect analytic information from these blogs. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Many projects

I have so many projects on the go that it's time to post an update on a few. (oops, sorry for clicking on Publish a little too early!)

Free Motion Quilting Challenge Quilt Along

This FMQ Challenge is officially over, but I realized that I haven't posted my last three blocks. The challenge may be over, but if you're interested, Angela Walter's videos are still available on YouTube, so check them out! (see Related Links)

This block is a combination of the techniques from weeks 2 and 3. I'm not really a fan of the plain meandering but I did want to include it in here so that I could say that I did most of Angela's FMQ designs.

Week 2 & 3 - meandering, echoing and continuous curves
Week 9 is the wishbone. There are a couple of variations, including making it between wavy lines. I had never done the wishbone until recently. It's a great little design that can fit pretty much anywhere. I find it elegant.

It took me a while to practice it using a pen until I realised that it's putting together a cursive "l" and "j". Remember that if you have problems with this one :-)
Week 9 - Wishbones and wavy lines
I made an extra block, so I put together most of the designs from the class. The centre is a dot-to-dot, which I didn't make a whole block of since I've been doing this technique for many years now. I love the dot-to-dot technique although if I really want to FMQ it well, I will often take the time to draw some of it on the fabric. It just depends how accurate I want it to look.
Sampler of most of the techniques in the FMQ Challenge

Art with Fabric Blog Hop

Last weekend I spent most of my time working on my Art with Fabric piece, "Morning has broken". I was on a real high - it's one of the loveliest pieces I've ever done. I got most of it done so that I could take an official photo for Alida's website. But after that high, I've come crashing down and have barely touched it since.

I don't want to completely spoil the surprise, so I'm just going to show you the image from my last post. The big reveal is Monday :-)

The FMQ and piecing is about 90% completed. I didn't have the correct shade of green (my goodness but there are tons of greens!!!) so I had to buy more. That's been done, so now I just have to actually do it.

The next step is to finish the quilt. I will probably add a facing to it since I left a lot of space around the edges to do this. Then I'll be able to embellish it, even after the facing has been added.

I hope you'll join me on Monday for my post. I took a lot of pictures and learned a lot. I'm looking forward to sharing this.

Comfort Quilt QAL

I now have two pieced cuddle quilts sandwiched and ready to FMQ. I just have to trim them a little because I have having to cut up my FMQ. These only have to be 22" x 22".


It's my OMG to finish these two by the end of the month. I think that I'll manage that, especially since the Art with Fabric blog hop will be over soon! Besides, I have some more flannel fabric that I want to play with :-)

Kingfisher Stitch Along

I am thrilled to share with you this next great stitch along. It combines some of my favourite things.... English Paper Piecing (EPP) and quilting. The quilt is made of diamonds with EPP flowers appliqued to them. Isn't this image beautiful?

It starts in June, so check out the link below.

What I learned
  • For my last block, I ran out of my lovely backing fabric, so the front and back are the same. That seemed to be fine until I noticed that some of the stitches on what I thought was the top, were not variegated. You guessed it - I had flipped the block between designs. Not a big deal, but definitely something to think about or watch for.
  • I'm really happy that I took the time to follow this quilt along. I learned a couple of very cool FMQ designs that I have already incorporated into my repertoire :-) My favourites are the feather and leaf meanders. 
  • I'm very proud of myself. Even if I worked extremely hard on my Art with Fabric piece last week, I didn't panic about not having it completed for the photo. I'm even not panicking about getting it finished for Monday since I can always crop the picture and / or finish it after since it's all about pretty pictures and it won't be seen in person, probably for another year :-)
  • I may be a little more tired than I thought....I was very surprised this morning to receive in my email, my blog post! It would seem that I clicked Publish instead of Save. Oh well, at least I get to sleep in tomorrow - in Canada it's the Victoria Day long weekend!
Related Links
Linking Parties

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Throwback Thursday - Colourful Scraps Quilt

I'm glad that some of our older quilts get a chance to shine in the blog spotlight in the Throwback Thursday posts. This quilt is still one of my favourites and although it was mentioned in a blog, I think that it deserves a little bit of time by itself.
Colourful Scraps Quilt

It's a hand-quilted scrappy quilt. The pattern is from one of the first quilting books I every bought, Better Homes and Gardens Quilt-Lovers' Favorites, Volume 4.

I remember being very intimidated in the choosing of fabrics for the quilt. I made sure that each fabric within a block had at least one colour that matched the other fabrics. That's now my formula for choosing colours in a scrappy quilt.

It took me one year to sew that quilt together, and another year to hand-quilt it.

This quilt was in the first quilt show I ever entered. It's also the largest quilt that I've ever shown. 

At the Quilts in Bloom quilt show, 2012
What I learned
  • This quilt taught me to not be afraid of working with fabrics of different colours. My rule of making sure that each fabric in a block had one colour in common has served me well.
  • I absolutely love using white as a background but for quilts that are used a lot, it's not very practical since it gets dirty so quickly.
  • To date, this is the last hand-quilted quilt I've made. As much as it's relaxing, it really feels like it's never ending. Now I tend to do embroidery or English Paper Piecing for hand-work.

Related Links
Linking Parties
I will be posting this on MMM!'s Throwback Thursday as well as many other linking parties. Let's see what everyone is up to! Slow Sunday Stitching, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop?, Oh Scrap!MOP Monday, Moving it Forward, Monday Making, Linky Tuesday, Midweek Makers, Needle & Thread Thursday

Denise at For the Love of Geese asked us to post an older quilt - and it was featured!

Project Details

Colourful Scraps quilt
Pattern: Heaven's Stairway by Jill Reber from the Better Homes and Gardens Quilt-Lovers' Favorites, Volume 4

68" x 84"
Material: cotton
Technique: machine piecing, hand-quilting

Thursday, May 03, 2018

May updates and plans

The beginning of a brand new month. I'm not sure where April went, but it's now history😊 (lame but true!) Here are the updates and plans for this new month.

Comfort Quilt QAL

I finished the quilt top of my first Comfort cuddle quilt. I added a two inch border but that will have to be cut down so that the quilt ends up being 22" x 22". I'm hoping to practice some cool FMQ designs.

Cuddle quilt ready to FMQ
My One Monthly Goal for May (OMG) is to finish at least two of the cuddle quilts. I'm hoping for more, but we'll see!

FMQ Challenge Quilt Along

I've been following Angela Walter's FMQ Challenge Quilt Along for the last month or so and recently practiced week 4's Leafy Meander design.

Leafy Meander - week 4

Back of Leafy Meander
I still have at least two more FMQ designs that I want to add to this collection before calling it done.

Common Thread Quilt Guild Show - Ottawa

Next weekend (May 11 to 13) is the Common Thread Quilt Guild show. I'm really looking forward to seeing my friends' creations of the last two years.

I will have four small quilts in the show - the Charming baby quilt, the Tea Time - England souvenir wall hanging, and two art quilts - the Canada 150 and the Isles Canarias. Since this is a quilt show and not an fibre art show, I decided to show my more mainstream quilts.

Canada 150
Tea Time

Islas Canarias


I still have to put temporary sleeves on Charming and Canada 150,  as well as make a label for Charming. I'd better get this done this week since I'm sure we have to drop all our quilts off soon :-)

This is my To-Do Tuesday list.

Art with Fabric Spring 2018 Blog Hop

It's coming along! Here's a preview of my quilt to date.
Preview of Art with Fabric
Spring 2018 piece

I'm at the stage of thread drawing, that is,  FMQ on the fabric, before adding the batting.

I always find it a challenge to figure out what needs to be highlighted or drawn with thread as opposed to actually quilted. I've tried various techniques but at this time I like to do some thread drawing to attach the fabric as add highlights before doing the actual quilting.

What I learned
  • I have some great fabric for more "boyish" cuddle quilts. I can's wait to start playing with them.
  • I also want to try some variations of the Comfort Quilt pattern for them.
  • The Leafy Meander FMQ design is very forgiving. I messed up in a couple of spots but just kept going. I made sure to not leave any big empty spots because those are more obvious than mistakes in the design.
  • I'll be taking some pictures of the quilt show next weekend and writing up a post. It's so much fun learning from other people's quilts - their colour choices, their FMQ, etc.
  • I expect to spend the weekend finishing this piece up. I am sooooo looking forward to that 😊
  • I haven't posted a picture of my inspiration art piece yet, Sunrise by the Ocean by Vladimir Kush because I really don't want to push the copyright issue. I'll just post it on my official blog hop post on May 21. The link to the image is included below in the Related Links.
Related Links
Linking Parties
I will be linking this post to the OMG May Goal Setting link-up, To-Do Tuesday as well as many others. Check out what's happening. Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, Midweek Makers, Needle & Thread Thursday, Off the Wall Friday, Finished or Not Friday, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, Free Motion Mavericks, MOP Monday, Moving it Forward, Design Wall Monday, Monday Making,