Monday, August 21, 2017

Backing Things Up

Making quilt backings is probably my least favourite part of the process and can be attested to by the fact that the materials to back my Blue Diamonds - a Kaffe Fassett design - has been sitting on the back of this chair for a few months now. Yes, I said months!













And it's not like that chair is somewhere that I never see it - it's sitting in my kitchen so I see it every day. Sheesh.













It probably didn't help things knowing that it was going to be a pieced back. I found a great piece of pink for it a while back but it wasn't nearly enough so I decided it was a good opportunity to use up whatever bits and pieces of the fabrics that I had used in it.











Finally the spirit moved me but it still took me several hours to get it all together.















I was going to use two large pieces of the pink in the layout but decided at the last minute to save the second piece for the binding, so then the hunt was on to find a replacement. I have more fabric for backings than I care to admit, so with all those blues you would think that shouldn't have been a huge ask, but it turned out to be. Eventually I fournd a combo that would work - I'm not totally over the moon with it, but it works.







So now it's together, but I'm already wondering if the layout works with the front. Guess I'll just have to see what it looks like after it's quilted....M


Friday, August 18, 2017

Allspice

Not to be outdone by Sandy, Jane had a finish of her own when she and Betty and Sandy were together. She's been working on a gorgeous quilt that she and I designed back in the spring and put the finishing stitches on it two weekends ago. I've been calling it Allspice but apparently Betty has been referring to it as her Jacobean quilt.











When  she was here in the spring she had most of the blocks for the strips finished.
















The fabrics are just stunning and when they all came together, even more so.














Here's a closer looks at the different colours used for the narrow strips that run through it. The brown paisley is a print that I had in my stash - love it.













This quilt got Jane through the challenge of this spring's major flooding. Her cottage was under siege from the spring rains the likes of which we had never seen before and was saved from the brink by a small army of volunteers who worked tirelessly for six weeks, not the least of which was her sister Linda. When she had a break she would sit down with her stitching and pray for the best.

Jane has gifted Allspice to Linda as a thank you for all of her support throughout the ordeal, which is beautiful gesture (sisters are the best!). Apparently Roberta will be quilting it and I am so looking forward to seeing the finished product....M

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Quilts In The Garden

Sandy, Jane and Betty were together again recently and Sandy brought a wonderful stack of quilts to show the gals. Thankfully, they took lots of pics in the garden so that I could share her work with you.

To say that she is prolific would be an understatement. Here is the first of three quilts that she finished this year and another two that are in the works.








Sandy also provided some info on the quilts, so here they are, in her words:
"I decided it was time to get my machine out, and do the whole process. This my first attempt (at machine quilting), and I learned a lot ... first, and foremost ... fill a whole bunch of bobbins! Thankfully, this isn't a big quilt, as there's quite a learning process with rolling, pinning, flattening ... swearing!

The walking foot worked very well ... once I finally decided to just guide the fabric, and let it do it's thing.  Being anal, it was freeing to give myself permission to not worry about straight lines, or equal spacing! (Next up is the free motion foot ... 😳).

And this one is made with the leftovers from the first jelly roll, and leftovers from other projects. I'm stunned when I see the tiny piecing you do. On this one, I learned the benefits of spray adhesive!

Betty educated me on soaking quilts, so I look forward to washing these, and hopefully seeing a lot of puckering.








I finished this one with mixed feelings ... excited to see it done, but sad, as the fabric's so soft and buttery to stitch. I found this Moda fat quarter bundle in a beautiful quilt shop in Jordan Station ... and, I loved that it reminds me of my Grandma's house.  

I cut and laid out the pattern before we went to Cozumel and then spent our lazy days under the palm trees stitching it together. It's amazing how many quilters gather to chat when they see a pile of squares! (QuiltBee note to self: book a trip to Cozumel...)




These next two are under way. This one is inspired by a quilt I saw on your blog ... I loved the freshness of it! Many of the patterned fabrics I purchased in a shop on Cozumel, so it seemed only fitting to put it together under the palm trees. I've sandwiched it with a thicker batting, and I think I might just stitch in the ditch ... hopefully to make the triangles nice and puffy.  









My hubby - the Minion fanatic! - found this perfect fabric, and asked me to make him a throw for his "man cave" Lazyboy.  














Just what every 72 year old needs!

I'm excited to get a new project started. It's just soooo hard to decide what it should be ... too many ideas!"

What an amazing trunk show Sandy. You'd never guess that you've been quilting for such a short time - they are all beautiful, and I have it on very good authority, perfectly stitched. We're looking forward to what you dive into next. Thanks so much for sharing!....M





Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tough Love

It's always interesting for me to learn how people came to be quilters. Our good friend Martin started quilting some time after Jane did and has made several beautiful quilts. Betty recently laundered one of them so it got us chatting about how he got started. Jane was the motivator behind that so, here, in her words, is how it went down.











"He was looking through magazines one day at the cottage and comes upon a photo of a quilt on a bed. He says to me, "That's the quilt I'd like you to make for me." I look at it and say, "I would be so bored doing that quilt because it is just big squares put together. If you want that quilt, then you are going to have to make it yourself!" And he replies, "Okay, then I WILL make it myself!"








When he went back to Toronto he went shopping for the fabrics, bought a sewing machine and signed up for a course on how to machine quilt. Within the year he had made the quilt and quilted it. That was about 8 or 9 years ago, and he has since made about six more quilts. I'm proud to have refused his request, because it spurred him on to prove to me that he could make his own quilt."








Appropriately, it's made of a beautiful collection of shirting fabrics (Martin is a clothes horse with amazing taste). He's working abroad right now so the quilt gets to live at Jane's cottage, which isn't a bad deal at all. They also happen to be perfect sand and sea colours for the lake.










Looks like she might have a tussle with Baylea to get it back though...

And since we're talking about Jane, she is just a fountain of knowledge. She sent me these Pinterest words of wisdom a while ago: 'Dinosaurs didn't sew, now they are extinct. Coincidence?' Something to think about 😉....M

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Back of the House - A How To

A lot of you seem to be as taken with my little 6" Crown of Thorns blocks as I am. Not hard when they are that small and that cute! I've had a question about how to get accurate joins, so I thought I'd share a few pics with my method, if you are interested in trying it out.












Start with accurately trimmed HSTs - all diagonal seams to the dark side - four light squares and four green squares, and lay out your block.













Sew the blocks in rows using a scant 1/4" seam allowance.













Starting with the light centre block of the centre row, press both seams out to the dark side, alternating the press directions as you go. The next two outer seams will be pressed inward. Some people use spray starch to help things stay in place but I just use a little steam in my iron.












Sew the remaining rows together, alternating the direction of pressed seams so that the seams nest nicely into each other. It's a good idea to sew all the rows before you sew the rows together so that you can confirm that all the seams are going in the right direction before the block is assembled.










It's also a good idea to pay attention to what you are doing so that you don't end up with something like this and having to spend some quality time with your ripper... :D












Nesting the seams makes a huge difference in your ability to get accurate piecing, especially with such tiny pieces. And believe it or not, me, who usually pins everything, doesn't pin a thing, even with pieces this small!












I press the two top seams towards the top of the block (away from the centre square) and the two bottom seams to the bottom of the block (again, away from the centre). If I were going to sew the blocks to each other I would have to think about whether there is a better way to do this so that you can nest those seams as well, but I'm thinking that they will be assembled next to a plain piece of fabric, so no nesting will be necessary. This is what it looks like from the back.

Give it one last press...
















and then send it to join the others.

I thought these blocks would take forever to assemble but the biggest time commitment is trimming the blocks; it's key if you want consistently good joins.

Hope that helps; let me know if you have any questions and I'd love to see any blocks that you might try.








And speaking of tiny, Anne and I put together a few blueberry pies the other day and the last one was this little cutie. It was headed for the freezer....M

Monday, August 07, 2017

The French Connection

I've posted before about the amazing little B&B that we enjoy when we travel to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Well, sad to say, those days are now done; Chris has decided that it's time to move on to other things. To say that we will miss it is a huge understatement. He was the perfect host and the rooms were absolutely beautiful. Here is just a sample of what I'm talking about - a table for two in the breakfast room.

Chris grew up in France and is a chef so breakfast was always a treat. It included freshly baked croissants and clafoutis, a favourite of The Official Cookie Tester. We loved to hear him describe it to new guests in his lovely French accent ..."It's a French dish made with fresh fruit and custard.'




Cherries are still in season so I decided to walk on the French side a bit and make one. It couldn't be easier. I used Julia Child's Cherry Clafoutis recipe and it whipped up in no time.













The longest bit is pitting the cherries but you can substitute almost any fruit that you like; to make the custard, just dump everything into the blender and give it a whirl.












I split the recipe between two pans and shared this little one with Anne. Isn't summer eating just the best?.....M


Sunday, August 06, 2017

Imaginings

I've been playing with hexie layouts for the corners of the centre panel of Anna Levens, primarily because I'm just about out of paper hexies and I'm wondering if it's time to start sewing some of these together to free a few papers up, or if I should just bite the bullet and cut more paper hexies too.












I've only got a little pile turned under and several of them are duplicates so I need more variety.















Of course I couldn't resist laying them out alongside the larger hexies to see how everything might look together. Nice. Anna will be my hand work for today - either finishing off the cream hexie border or turning under more hexies for the corners, or maybe both...M.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Special Inspiration

Betty and I enjoyed a special treat last weekend - lunch with our friend Ann who was in town with one of her daughters and her first grandchild. While her daughter visited with friends we three were able to get together and get caught up.

One thing about Ann is that she never shows up empty handed - there's always treats for everyone - which can make some of us look bad (ahem). Sure enough, she had goodies for both of us, these lovely Grandmother's Garden mugs. Now if that's not inspiration to keep me going on my Anna Levens quilt I don't know what is.






I pressed it into service right away, using it to sip my tea as I sit and stitch. It's lovely to look at and helps remind me that some day all of my hexies will be together as well. I think it might also work with Minnie.












All of those cream hexies for the border were becoming a bit monotonous so I dug through some muted scraps and have started cutting the hexies to fill in the four corners. I'll need at least 300 so this will keep me busy for a while too....M