Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Brady's Stocking Is Done!

Cross another one off my Q4 list!  I am feeling so pumped that I am going to start the final borders on Dayna's grad quilt next....  I nearly took that sentence off... because that means I can't shy away from it again; her quilt, okay, a little raw honesty here, kind of terrifies me. nvm here is Brady's stocking!
Doesn't it look purty against our Nootka Cypress? How I love this "old man" tree.  Gotta say I love the stocking too!
Had I known all the angst this stocking would cause me over the three days it took to construct, I would have had a lot more trepidation in advance of starting it.  So that is good advice for Dayna's quilt: just do it.

I sort of based this on a pattern in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine's "Quilt It For Christmas" 2004.

Early stages:

... paper-pieced trees, (oh how I love that mint fabric from Kate and Birdie!), prepped star appliqué from gold lamé, 2.5" strips cut for patchwork. You can see Joanne's Snowalong blocks waiting to grow up (I got the white with silver arcs fabric from the snowalong project ziploc), and Bella, who is not amused that I stopped playing "chase the fuzzy ball on the end of the yarn" with her.  My sister Linda pointed out how hilarious she looks with just her little butt resting on her cat cushion!

Finished flimsy:

 FMQ on the stocking front in progress:
The Bernina is FMQ-ing without a hitch with Sulky metallic thread
Brady's name on the stocking cuff--how I wish I'd closely read their pattern for how they did their "cuff" which wasn't a cuff at all... :-(
Pulled out my Totally Stable from the stabilizers class I took eons ago when I first bought the Bernina, a 180 Artista
She (the Bernina) and I made beautiful appliqué together!
I used another Sulky metallic, a gold, green and red variegated. LOVE the sparkle!
I used Word's Marker Felt font to make the templates for the letters for his name.

All the parts ready to assemble:
A little closer reading of the rather skeletal pattern, a little more ripping, a little lightbulb moment to cut the binding on the bias, a little hand sewing the binding to the back of the stocking, a little more ripping, a little tearing of hair out, but finally got the cuff, a proper cuff, applied and voilà.
Some tree decorations photo-bombed the stocking photo, lol. These are all handmade. The folded patchwork star is from 2000, the little felt reindeer is from 1991, the plastic canvas fireplace, snowman (not visible) and dove (spun around) from circa 1988-9. It took me two Christmases to get all 10 done.
So the pattern had you make the entire patchwork front of the stocking, and then apply the 11" square to the top, stitching it down across the foldline, and then apply the letters (no indication of how, and if a person wanted to satin stitch them down as I did, that would be a tad difficult with the stocking attached) and then (dumbest of all) trim the cuff even with the stocking edges!  So what's the point of having patchwork under the faux cuff? Why not sew a 5.5X11" rectangle there, and appliqué the letters to the batting since it's not a real cuff?  You quilt the patchwork to the batting anyhow.

Here's that dove!
Still can't see that cute snowman I hung...somewhere...

Actually the pattern had you quilt the stocking through the lining too, like a regular quilt sandwich, but I wanted a "floating" lining, so I just quilted through the flimsy and batting layers.  Here's how the inside looks:
had to leave my flip flop toes in the shot! No, I did not wear them to walk Rocco today, but it did get up to 44F/7C!
So I ended up topstitching the cuff to the bound edge of the stocking.  In retrospect, I could've left a 6" tail of bias binding from the heel side edge of the stocking, as the pattern suggested, to make the hanger.  I couldn't quite wrap my head around the whole cuff procedure at that point.  In future, I think I would sew the underside of the cuff to the unbound edge of the stocking, and then turn the top edge of the front side of the cuff, which I would have about an inch longer than the underside, over the seam and hand whipstitch it to the lining.  Clear as mud, right?  Wait, the bound edges still interfere with that thought process...

Here is the back:
Can you see Brady's name quilted in?  I repeated the funky stars and snow crystals, and echoed some of the trees

So sparkly! He will love it.

Stocking Stats:
Pattern: Patchwork Stocking from "Quilt It For Christmas" 2004
Size: 20 3/4" long by 12 1/4" from toe to side edge
Fabric: 100% cotton, some I purchased and some from my stash
Batting: Warm 'n Natural
Quilted: on my Bernina
Threads: Sulky metallic, gold and variegated

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Stretch for Sewists #5

I know, I know I had stash additions to show you today, but those will wait until next Sunday.  I try to do one of these stretches on the last Sunday of the month, and here we are. This is the last of the three poses of which Dayna shot photos back at the end of September.  Oh heat! Oh warmth! I miss you!

If you have trouble sleeping this is one pose that can help you, especially if you do it right before bed.  (update: I just found a link with a video; according to Rodney Yee, this is "the most therapeutic yoga pose."  :-)

1.  Sit on the floor, sideways to the wall, with one hip against the baseboard and your shoulder touching the wall.

2.  Lie down.

3.  Swivel your butt around, so it is as if you are sitting on the wall.  Use your elbows to help wiggle in tight as you do want your sit bones actually against the wall.  Straighten your legs.

Let your arms relax out to the sides, palms up or down.  Let your shoulders come away from your ears and tuck your chin slightly so the back of the neck lengthens.  Either breathe normally, or pull your breath in through your nose to a slow count of 3 or 4, and send it back out through your nose to that same steady count of 3 or 4.  Relax your legs.  The wall supports them, so there is no tension in your low back here.  If you can't straighten your legs, it's okay to wiggle a little away from the wall.  Bernie Clark says a nice option is to place a cushion under your sacrum.

Especially if you stand all day, walk a lot, or even sit for long periods of time, energy, or chi as the Daoists call it, pools in the legs, along with the blood.  This reverses that downward pull.  You are actually getting many of the benefits of inverted (upside down) poses with the added benefits of resting and letting go.  If you add in that slow and steady nose-breathing, this helps kick in your parasympathetic nervous system, that "rest and digest" system where our bodies have time to reset, to restore, to heal.

To come out, bring your legs into your chest. You might want to wrap your arms around your shins and give yourself a hug, but it is not necessary.  Roll to one side, pause there for a few breaths, then push gently away from the wall and sit up.  For a brief, but great article about several benefits to this pose, aka Viparita Karani, go here.

Yesterday I worked most of the day on Brady's stocking.  It's nearing completion and I am pretty pleased.  Since this is Sunday Stash day, I'll give you a peek at some of the fabrics I bought in Florida.  This little collection is all in his stocking.  (and more, but I'll save that for the post which might just be tomorrow!)

Most are visible on the selvages, but the trees and the aqua dots, stars and birds print are both Joy by Kate Spain. The top lovely soft mint with white trees is Winterberry by Kate and Birdie.  Have I mentioned that I really really love Moda fabrics?!

Looks like lots ahead this week: a finish for sure, stash sharing, Throwback Thursday for Christmas projects with Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge, (I remembered!), the start of a new month, which has me thinking (I'm nuts I know) I might add a small project to ALYOF at Sew BitterSweet Designs...

And now I'm off to teach yoga!

If you'd like to see the other posts in this series, here they are:
Stretch #1
Stretch #2
Stretch #3
Stretch #4

Friday, November 27, 2015

Shift - Finished!

Woot! Woot! And in time for a Friday finish to boot!  This is one goal #2 on my Q4 List, so I will be linking this up come the end of December/early January with Adrianne at On the Windy Side.  Numbers 3, 4 and 5 are all done, and yesterday I started #7, Brady's stocking.

I have wanted to photograph a finished quilt at Kingsville Harbour, Lake Erie, which is a block from my house, for a long time.  Wanting a setting with a masculine feel for this quilt for my nephew, I figured now was the time.

Who launders a freshly finished quilt, and then spreads it out on the road for pictures?  Uh, that would be moi...
I had to stand on the bottom ends in that picture as the wind kept lifting it, and I could just see it becoming airborne and landing in the harbour... Since I went down about 3 pm, all the fishing boats were in. I love those diesel-slurping, chugging girls.
The west wind was a-blowin' but the huge barge that was in unloading aggregate was a definite bonus.
Think I nailed the masculine feel, no?!  The barge even complemented the colours of the quilt, as did the rocks and the grey waters on this mostly overcast day.

Back to the quilt, which is the star of this post!
This is the quilt before I washed it.  Because the day was mostly overcast, the colour here is so true.  I am so pleased with how it turned out! I love how my eyes roam over it, and the blocks shift from 4-patch in a small "box" to 4-patch in a large "box".

I wrote about the flimsy finish here.  My nephew, Callum, is an avid mountain biker, and shifting gears is his game, (are you getting the name of the quilt?!) hence the hunt for bike-themed fabrics, and guy-themed ones.  I had originally purchased a set of fat quarters in seafoam shades as a starting point about a year ago, and then last Spring found out, through iMessaging with him, that those colours were not really in his wheelhouse.  So I went back to the drawing board and hunted down rich greens and gold with a few grey additions, all based on the beautiful job he was in the process of doing completely by himself:  finishing the basement in his new house.  I had been collecting the black and white fabrics for the past year.  :-)
The sun started to peek out a little!  A little texture is now apparent.  Just look at that vibrant gold Peppered Cotton (adore these!) of the cursive writing swirl print (love that fabric too)!
I didn't prewash any of the fabrics; I never do and have only had a slight problem once with a red, but I washed that quilt with a colour-catcher, and it did the trick.  I had heard that the peppered cottons shrink more, but after washing and half an hour in the dryer, they came out just beautifully alongside the regular cottons.  I did starch and press each of the fabrics, so maybe that helped?

I did a simple jigsaw-shaped meander over the entire quilt surface.  This is and always has been, a favourite motif of mine; I find it totally relaxing, like watching fish in a tank.  It helped that the new thread I purchased in Florida at the Bernina dealer (right near my house, heavenly!! and oh yes, they have fabric), Exquisite is the brand, was all that, (exquisite) and more for quilting.  L. O. V. E.  Avril loved it too; she purred along for the entire quilt, only breaking thread once.  It's 100% polyester, and half the price of Isacord/Mettler.  It has a beautiful sheen to it.  The ladies at the shop have embroidered as well as quilted with it and told me they loved it.  I will write and tell them I do too, and I'm coming back for more!  It took only about 3-3.5 hours to quilt then entire quilt.  That is not counting loading.

Here is a view of the back in the filtered sunshine, but again, I was constantly fighting that wind... I do love this quilt laid out on the rocks and gravel of the harbour though!

I machine-stitched the binding to the back of the quilt; normally I prefer hand-stitching, but a) I wanted this done--20 minutes for just the machine-stitching it down to the backing, and b) I wanted it durable--I've had to repair 3 quilts so far that were hand-stitched, due to usage; the cotton thread started to disintegrate after 8-10+ years.  I'm okay with that; it means my quilts are being used and loved!  But I live 2000 miles away from Callum...
I laid it down in that spot, protected by the barricades from that darn wind so I could get a full shot of the back, lying my yoga mat towel underneath to protect it.  I mainly had to be mindful of seagull poop!  I made the label with scraps from the front.

As per usual, I quilted in the recipient's name
That grey "Time" text fabric is à propos for Callum, as he is a "early to bed, early to rise" kind of guy.  I love the old-fashioned bike fabric you get a glimpse of here, and that I used up in its entirety, on the backing.

As I drove out of the harbour area, the sun came full out, so I decided to pull over and try one more shot to capture the texture that we all love so much in a crinkly finished quilt:

I really liked the look of it draped on the stairs going down to the harbour.  It was a glorious low 50s degree day; I'll take it for the end of November!  I couldn't seem to get a photo without my shadow in it that showed the texture, so I headed for home, hoping to maybe have some success there.

Callum's last name.  My initials are quilted in somewhere too; another cool black bike tire tracks print here, no?
Back home, on my bed, (ha!) with the sun streaming in, seemed to wind up being the best angle for that elusive texture shot:
I did this on purpose to show the difference in colour between shade and sun.  But finally! You can see and just about feel that lovely filled-with-love texture.
I have three nephews and one niece.  I used to think, I'd give each one a quilt when they get married, but then I thought, nope, when they leave home or graduate from grade 12 or college.  The next three of the four quilts are already underway, so I should have those done by the end of 2016, or, at the latest, 2017, for the youngest, another nephew, who will be in grade 12 that year.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern:  Bento Box
Size:  pre-washing 60X75"; post-washing 58X72" (so a healthy lap quilt)
Fabric: 100% cotton, many lines; NB I did use four different Peppered Cottons
Batting: Warm 'n Natural
Quilted: on my Avanté, overall meander 82 735 stitches
Threads: pieced with Gütermann cotton; quilted with Exquisite 100% polyester in olive green

Just a note, that Craftsy is having another terrific sale, on classes as well as on kits and supplies...I might have partaken of the supplies part...definitely worth taking a look.  If you're like me, and have pondered and sat on the fence about buying fabric from them, ponder no more, just do it!  If you are already an affiliate, be sure to do it through your link (voice of experience from someone who did not) but if you are not an affiliate, then you may want to click through on the link on my sidebar, for which I thank you, because if you do take advantage of some terrific deals, I get a small compensation from them. :-) I plan to show some recent stash additions on Sunday, so stay tuned.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF with Jan at Quilting Among the Groves, and Confessions of a Fabric Addict!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Moo-velous Retreat

Even though it was pretty tough to get home at 9:30 pm Thursday night from Florida, and get to the weekend retreat for Friday morning (I did not make it for 9 am!) I am so glad I went.  Cows were the order of the weekend.  But first, I made Brady's Olaf pillowcase with leftovers from his pj shorts, and some other scraps I pieced together to make the snow-like main part.
It will be on his bed this Christmas! Eeek.
You can see the paper piecing templates and red fabric in that picture, because this is what took me a long time:
Say hello to Mary...as in Bloody, lol
I don't know if it was different surroundings, interruptions, (all good), or just being rather tired, but this girl took longer than any of them!  A little swearing occurred, which led to the bloody part of her name.  I do love her blue batik eyes. :-)  Her blaze is fabric from smocked dresses I made Brianne and Dayna for Christmas 1989.  Cranston VIP.  I know my aunt will love that detail. Red was the colour for July.

I took a break from paper-piecing and made up two blocks that I had already cut out and started assembling. They are replicas of the one I sent to Eileen...sure hope she's okay.
No clue where these are headed...but I did think of making more in green.  Maybe I could follow the So Scrappy Rainbow challenge for 2016 with these? Hmmm.

I also made time to take Rocco for a good walk on Sunday.  I missed our walks while I was in Florida.  He missed me walking him I think too!
He is not happy in his hoodie, but otherwise he would be too cold as he has no fur to speak of on his belly and inner legs.
Yep, we got our first little snowfall Saturday, just in time for the town's Santa Claus parade and Festival of Lights.  Rocco is looking at all the sculptures that are set up in the park!  Most of the snow went by the next day, although the temperatures hovered in the low 30s.  That's not Celsius, either! Brr, especially after I had just spent 10 days in 30 CELSIUS temps! (high 80s, even 91 the first day)

I finished these two gals after the retreat:
This is Ethel.  Don't you love her muzzle fabric?  It's tufts of grass!! Bahaha.
Bright or dark green was the colour for May, so I did dark.  Her blaze is scraps from a quilted runner I made for my Auntie Joan, my mum's sister who, sadly, is no longer with us, passing away a couple of years ago, much too young, from ovarian cancer.  Note how these last two cows have an extra 1/2" along the top?  They are unfinished 12", a royal PITA, and up until the retreat, I'd just figured I'd add to 1/2" strips along two sides, and then, with a few other quilters admiring all the cows, we hit upon being able to add along the top edge, as there are only two pieces there.
Interesting in that I auto-adjusted this one, as I do all my photos. However, I didn't like how dark picmonkey made dark green Ethel in auto-adjust, so I undid it and left her as is. The light background fabric has a much better definition in the aqua cow, but it made the eyes seem more electric than they actually are, although they definitely are arresting!
Aqua or light blue was the colour for June.  Her blaze is a piece of fabric my sister Wendy brought me back from a Caribbean cruise she was on several years ago.  Hence this cow's name is Carib, not to be confused with carob, native to the Mediterranean area. ;-)  Recognize the wave fabric?  It's from Cloud 9 Fabrics, and the quilt I made of the same name. 

So that brings my herd number to 8.  Indigo, orange and lime green are the remaining colours I need to make yet.  I also need to make Maartje's Mad Bull who will be black for Black Angus cows.  At the retreat, two of the gals to whom I gave a copy of this pattern were farmers, and one told me when I said some of the cows have named themselves as I sewed them, that it is the correct thing to do, name your Holstein milk cows! Who knew.  All my aunt's cows had names, some of them not so creative, like B3, lol, or Jersey who was, you guessed it, a Jersey cow!

So now that I have three more cows done, I have to get quilting on the Bento Box, which is loaded onto the Avanté.  I also did a little stash restocking while in Florida as well as at the retreat, so more on that, as well as on some of my warm fuzzy feelings about said retreat in another post. :-)

Linking up with Freshly Pieced and Sew Fresh Quilts. It's been a while!  Remember to check out what Craftsy has in store for us with Black Friday approaching....did I hear the phrase "stash restocking" somewhere recently?!  If you click through to Craftsy on the button on the sidebar, I will get a little compensation, so I thank you. :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I've been absent from QBL for a bit, but that's because I'm down at our Florida home for 10 days, where my mum and aunt joined me for 8 of them.  These two "wins" were waiting for me when I arrived!

The charm square pack is what I won from Stitches 'n Giggles in the July ALYOF hosted by Sew Bittersweet Designs.  I love Zen Chic designs; I made Pocketful of Sunshine with Sphere.  :-)  I finally remembered to spend more time on her site, and MAKE A DECISION!

On the right is the wrist pincushion I missed receiving by days in April.  We'd headed back north by the time it got to my mailbox.  I won this in the Succulents giveaway at Crimson Tate. It is from ellesquare, as you can see by her adorable label.

I left this riot of colour...
Burning bush in the foreground, Maples, Weeping Willow, and ?? beyond
and this serenity...
Lake Erie November 4

to revel in this sparkling surf...
My other beloved body of water, the Gulf of Mexico, November 11

and smile at these scampering little souls...
Are they my Lake Erie sandpipers down here for the winter?

for 10 days.  Now I'm heading back north to Lake Erie where, OMG, it's been in the low 60s several of the days I've been melting in loving up the steamy high 80s/low 90s with a "feels like" 95 or more!  My heart is more than full; it feels as if it will swell up out of my throat with wonder and happiness and sadness all mixed up and messed up together.

I haven't even had time to miss my Bernina as it's been a whirlwind of wonderful sunny Florida the entire time.  Am I going home to recuperate from this 10-day sojourn? Nope.  I'll be sewing up a storm all weekend at a retreat I'm attending for the first time in the little town of Harrow, just a few miles from my beloved Kingsville.

Lots to share next week!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WIP - Shift

This is another goal on my Q4 list, Bento Box, one for my nephew, Callum, that I wanted to get made last winter for his new home, but found out I had the wrong colour scheme in mind.  Ordered new fabric and shopped a little around town (darn, hate that, don't you?!), and by the time we headed back north to home, I had the new fabric pile all ready.
Bella's trademark stamp of approval pose--that or "Give me some attention! Look how adorable I am! pose
Love the name of this black and white print:

I'll admit I was a little worried about getting the colours right.  It said to use no more than 3 to 4 colour families.  Black and white were two.  I had green and gold, but I'd also added in some greys as the prints were perfect for Callum who is an avid mountain biker.

The building process on the design wall...
See the pale grey bike wheels print?!  "Life- Enjoy the Ride" is its name. The white with black swirls writing is Art Gallery Cleta Translate Bike and the black with white tire tracks on it is Sun Prints Bike Path!

I added in another very dark green; I learned from iMessaging him in the early Spring, and seeing pics of his beautiful basement he was finishing and painting from bare cement walls to finished rooms by himself, that he likes dark colours.
Bella approved of that choice too, but had to add a little fur on it first. Honestly, no matter how I try to arrange stuff that makes it not conducive for her to lie on these various perches, (note the jelly roll, the paper, the sewing machine photo frame, etc) she worms her way to a comfy nest.
Nearly finished arranging and rearranging to distribute colours and prints:
Still needed a little tweaking, didn't like the bike path prints right together in two places
Interesting in my recent musings on pressing seams to one side, that this pattern has you do just that, and it leads to a quilt top that went together with barely any pinning, yet the seams intersect beautifully. Love that.

Although it's not quite as graphic as it might have been with just the green and gold floating on the black and white, I still really really like it.  As the eye roams around the quilt, seeing the shift from large coloured boxes to small coloured ones floating on the black and white, the double-entendre I intended in the quilt's name becomes apparent.  I think this has captured Callum's personality quite well, with the bike themes and the rich colours.  I used some Peppered Cottons in the top too, and wow, wow, wow, those fabrics are all kinds of delight from hand to texture. 
Finished flimsy--can you see a bit of the green Gears fabric from MacGyver's Gears for My Gearhead wallhanging?  :-)
On to the back construction.  I picked up the "Rustique" a Michael Miller print on sale at Fat Quarter Shop, thinking it might work as the backing.  I didn't have quite enough, but that was fine, as it led to some fun creating a big enough piece.
I did not pay one second of attention to matching the diagonals on this print, yet I am so pleased that they lined up so well!
I decided to make my own label, as those that I have are not very masculine!
I left room for his last name, but kept that private.
I used scraps from creating the blocks to make my own little patchwork label.  Although Callum likes cats, he is allergic to them.  I just had to include this fun black and white print in his quilt top and backing, a nod to Ceilidgh and to Abernathy, cats of his childhood and youth.

The quilt is loaded onto Avril, and once I get the right deep olive green thread, I plan to do an all-over meander.

Linking up with Freshly Pieced and Let's Bee Social.