Monday, September 30, 2013

And Then There Were Four...

If you haven't figured it out by now I flit from one project to another, gently moving several along together rather than charging full steam ahead on just one project - it's more fun for me that way. So in between playing with Holly Bazaar crafts, rows of Candied Hexagons are slowly being pieced together, and of the 11 there are now only 4 left to assemble.

While I've been stitching I've been doing some thinking about what to use for the setting triangles that will finish off the sides. I had toyed with a large floral print but didn't have anything on hand that was working for me and, with what seems like a room full of fabric to choose from, I didn't want to go out and buy anything - there had to be something in that stash that would work. Sure enough - this mauve print struck my eye.

In some sense it's still a large floral, it's just tone on tone instead of lots of rich colours. It will be perfect. I'll get a little bit of interest into those side pieces without detracting from the hexagon blocks, and I won't have to add borders to the top & bottom - I don't want borders on this one - it will go straight to the binding.

This was one of the first blocks that I made I think and it's still one of my favourites....M

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pumpkin Patches

I finally sat down to the machine to try my hand at making a few pot holders. Using this as my inspiration I cut 1.25" strips and started making pumpkins - fun!

The linen in the sample that I was working from really appeals to me but I think it's a bit too contemporary for the Holly Bazaar crowd so I've been experimenting with green backgrounds. Love the way that each pumpkin is different.

Not sure what the backings will look like yet - maybe the same as the front border pieces. And I think I'll quilt them in vertical lines. A circular quilting pattern would be fun but I haven't tried that yet and don't want to experiment on these little guys.

And speaking of little guys, I just love the smaller version of the block... still debating whether this will be the backing for the large pumpkin with the same check background or if I  will make them a pair - one big and one little.

Once they are quilted this little guy might get a row or two of ric rac. Sorry for the poor lighting - that ric rac is much brighter and cheerier than it looks here - I'll take better photos in the daylight....M

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hearts All Round

More hearts have been traced and cut and several more sewn together. I'm loving the fact that they can go together in about 20-30 minutes, compared to an hour or two for the little birds - you feel like you are really making some progress.

I prep several heart sandwiches at once so I can just pick up one after the other without having to assemble between each one.

I've got 8 together now and would like to make 24, so I'm well on my way, but I'll have to do a run for more embroidery floss as I'm almost out.

There's also been a little piecing fun at the's a peek at my next project. More to come on this one....M

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Start

Well, Holly Bazaar prep is now officially now under way, but I didn't start where I thought I would - story of my life. By the time I finished with the flying geese blocks I was looking for handwork that I could do while watching some college football, so I opted for making felt heart decos instead of starting pot holders.

I've been pinning ideas for the past little while looking for project inspiration - something relatively quick, but pretty at the same time (a.k.a. something that I'd be happy to hang on my tree) because the gals at the craft table tend not to charge much for the items. With cookie cutters in hand I started to play.

I've been carrying a couple of packets of pretty snowflake buttons around in my purse for a while and wanted to incorporate them into something, so I started with a heart. Ideally I would have liked to use the wavy cutter for the edge but it is too large to get a good clean cut, so I went to plan B.

To put it mildly, my blanket stitch wasn't that great, and where I joined my thread it looked downright rotten, so time to rip and play with other options.

Maybe a running stitch? Not bad but it seemed to me that it was lacking a bit of oomph; the Official Cookie Taster liked them though.

A little playing around and I went with a daisy chain stitch. The first one was just a little rusty, but not bad.

By the time I had finished the second one I had found my groove and when I saw them with the running stitch finish I decided that I would make both and folks could mix & match. What do you think?

I don't want them to be really stuffed and puffy but I did want a little body to them so I used a layer of quilt batting between the front & back, then two. The last one I even added in a few of the felt trimmings into the centre just for a little more puff and I like that the best - that way everything gets used up too. Waste not, want not....M

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pressing Matters

Thinking that it's time to start working on a few things for the Holly Bazaar - especially since we will be away for almost 3 weeks in October - yesterday I headed to the sewing room planning to try my hand at a few potholders. I'd been to Fabricland earlier in the day and picked up a piece of insulated fabric so why not strike while the iron is hot?

When I got there my table was covered in flying geese. I was so close to having all the geese assembled into 6+ units that I thought I'd finish them up instead.

I'm putting them together in units of about 6 geese to help ensure that the colours are randomly distributed and to ake it easier to lay the top out. Now that they will sit on the diagonal instead of vertically the layout will take a little more figuring, but having them in sections will help.

I treated myself to a new sewing machine while we were on holidays this summer so I've been using these pieces to orient myself to it and it's new functions. The thread cutter and I are great friends now - love it! And the 1/4" foot is ideal.

Originally I had been pressing each six-goose (is that a word?) section as I went but I decided to just get all the sections put together and then have a pressing marathon.

There are piles of geese everywhere that now need some time with the iron, but the table surface is finally freed up for other projects. It feels great to see progress. Maybe now I'll get to the Holly Bazaar TO DO list....M

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How Small Is Too Small?

I'm still cutting away at tiny hexagons for Minnie but am having a hard time tossing out the little triangular remains - I've got a room full of fabric but it's the tiny little scraps that I gravitate to. So, they have been sitting in a few piles near my sewing chair until I can bring myself to toss them.

But wait - surely there's something that they can be used for? Yes, indeedee - gift cards! I used oversized card tags from the office supply and created what looks like two strings of bunting, top stitching them in place. Take my word for it, they are really cute. If I had half a brain I'd have photos to share with you but, thinking that I had taken a pic, I gave them to Jane to finish off with some of her creative stamping. I'll see if I can get a few photos of the finished product, but it won't be today, so, in the meantime, I'll share other small stuff that I've been working on.

There's a batch of yoyos in red and white for the little heart project; I think I have just about enough for one heart made now and I picked up a beautiful piece of grey linen, so no excuses. Note to self: when using the Official Cookie Tester's shaving cream can as a cutting template remember to return it...

And, there are more hexies for Minnie.

This one's not quite finished, but it will be soon.

Just love the plum fabric in this one....M

p.s. Chocolate Zucchini Breads continue to roll out of the kitchen and this time I exercised my option to add the orange zest - I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

And Sew We Rip

So much of the creative process is based on looking, just really looking at something to determine the true shapes and colours, the patterns that shapes make, and how to translate that reality into what you want to make. Should be easy enough, right? Well, maybe yes, maybe no. I 'looked' at the large Minnie diamond I have finished to confirm how to sew the next one together and came up with this.

It should have looked more like this, with the two blocks on the sides of the diamond meeting rather than the confusion above.

So, down went the needle and out came the ripper and eventually everything was put back together the way that it should have been, had I concentrated on really looking.

Thankfully the outer border is pretty straight forward so hopefully I won't have much trouble with it. :)  ....M

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Fun At Fibrefest

Almonte is a charming village nestled along the shores of the Mississippi River. It's about an hour's drive from us and in the mid 1800s was home to a thriving woolen mill. For the past 18 years the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, which is in the annex of the former Rosamond Woolen Company, has been hosting Fibrefest. It celebrates textile and fibre arts and includes exhibits from local guilds demonstrating knitting, lacemaking, smocking, weaving, spinning, quilting, and penny rugs. Jane and Linda have been in the past and this year Betty and I decided that we could use a road trip too, so off we all went. Included in the festival were several vendors so we had lots of fun browsing and shopping.

I was particularly interested in getting to the Mad About Patchwork booth as I had come across her online shop recently. She has a great selection and wonderful prices. I had to restrain myself, but somehow all of these lovely little fat quarters followed me home.

I was also finally bitten by the Farmer's Wife bug and bought the book. I don't have any plans to make the full quilt but it's beautifully laid out and there are several blocks in it that really appeal to me. When I discovered that they finish off at 6 inches that was all the convincing that I needed.

This block is really pretty.

As is this one.

Lovely little basket.

And this is another favourite.

Nadine Sculland is another exhibitor that I was looking for. She makes these incredibly tiny paper pieced quilts and cards - just beautiful. The Ottawa Valley Button Club was there too (who knew that there were button clubs?) so I spent some time digging through baskets of shiny things and picked up a few lovely shell buttons that I'm thinking I'll integrate into the yoyo heart.

And these pretty little snowflakes were too cute to pass up - they are about 1.5 inches wide and will be perfect to tuck into a few Christmas cards.
After a tour of the downtown shops - which was crawling with women from the festival - we dropped by the museum. It is one of Canada's National Historic Sites and now features a blend of the old and new. Upstairs was a small, but amazing, exhibit by Noelle Hamlyn called Sweetness of the Work, a collection created in homage to hand work to 'showcase the stitches, labour and hours invested in traditional women’s hand work. Many pieces have been washed and treated to encourage the formation of salt crystals to represent the sweat and salt tears of the seamstress - a gentle meditation on the loss of these traditional skills, the repetitive nature of hand work, and the social role of women'. Noelle was there so Betty and I had a great chat with her; such an amazing young talent. All in all, a great road trip, start to finish....M

Thursday, September 05, 2013

It's Apple Season

It seems that as soon as the calendar turned over to September there has been a decided change in our weather - much more fall like than the hot, humid weather of last week. It's bittersweet. I like shifting into sweaters and watching the leaves change but I also miss the freedom of summer. No socks. Lots of time outdoors. But this is also the best time of the year to enjoy fresh goodness from the farmers markets, so the other day I picked up our first taste of apples. They were much tarter than the Official Cookie Tester preferred so I decided to put them into a cake.

It didn't take long to go from this...

to this. I used the recipe that I shared a while ago - it's Marie Helene's French Apple Cake. If you copied it out the last time I posted about it please take another look at your recipe. There is a notation to use 2 eggs, not 1, and I can't remember if I used 1 or 2 the last time I made it.

It also didn't take long for the Official Cookie Tester to swing into tasting mode. Success! Much less tart, with all that apple goodness wrapped up in rum and butter. What's not to love?....M

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

More For Minnie & Feelin' Groovy...

I spent the weekend putting together rows of Candied Hexagons and am quite enjoying them. It's nice not to have to cut your thread every couple of minutes the way that you do when you work on tiny pieces.

And, speaking of tiny pieces, I've got a couple more Minnie blocks together. Here's the first...I just love that dark green; actually, both greens are compliments of Jane's stash.

And here's number two...

I've got 16 together now so time to assemble a few larger diamond blocks.

And for anyone who has sewn in their lifetime this was just too good not to post; I think I'm the one in the back....M