Monday, 27 October 2014

Today's Mail

Today is my X day (scheduled day off) as I stated in my blog yesterday, but I didn't go to the city as planned. I still had some excitement, however. In the mail I got a fabric parcel from Sew Sisters. It was the fabric I ordered for the graduation/apartment warming quilt for the daughter of friends. As I've stated previously, I hate paying full price for fabric. So I went to Sew Sisters' clearance page and chose the fabric I thought would be the most suitable and saved it to my shopping cart. I wanted to think about it before I made the purchase. I only waited a few days and, unfortunately, one of the fabrics was sold out when I went back to make my purchase. And I had to choose an alternate. 
Let's look at the fabric:
This is the backing fabric.
This is my "focus" fabric.
And these are the fabrics I was planning on using for the blocks, borders and binding. Unfortunately, I didn't think the polka dots would be that big. I'm not really a fan of polka dots and seeing this fabric when I pulled it out of the envelope did not make me happy. That was my "alternate" choice and it turned out worse than I had hoped. So I rummaged in my stash but did not find a coordinating piece big enough for what I needed. 
Then I went to my LQS and bought the fabric on the far right in the picture below.
This is a Michael Miller Fairy Frost, a fabric that I love. I had to pay full price for it, but desperate times demand desperate measures. I'm not sure when I'll make it to another fabric store and I need to get started on this quilt. Amy graduates in December and will be moving into her new apartment in early January (or sooner). So what do you think: the polka dots or the Fairy Frost? Here are all four fabrics with the focus fabric:
I could probably get away with using either, but that polka dot just sets my teeth on edge. Surprisingly enough when I used my Ruby Beholder, both the pink fabric and the polka dot fabric are light in value. The Fairy Frost is a medium.
And while I was at the LQS, I picked up some more sale fabric. These are sold in pre-cut metres, and it's 4 for $10. I was hoping to find something that I could use in Amy's quilt to replace the polka dots, but there was nothing in the right colour family. 
I needed the two centre prints for another quilt that's on my horizon and just picked the other two to make up the 4. There were also baskets of remnants for a dollar each, so I bought a few.
You never can tell when these will come in handy. I've bought some of their remnants before and have already put some to use in the Unbroken quilt I'm working on. And when I'm in need of a "fabric fix," I can buy a few of these without feeling guilty. :-)
I've also been doing some planning for the Australian Tailor quilt. Remember that I said I thought that it looked too somber and I wanted to quilt it with a brighter colour to make it a little more cheerful. With Remembrance Day coming soon and in view of the murder of two of our soldiers right here on Canadian soil in two separate incidents within the last week, I decided to quilt it with red thread and designed a quilt pattern with maple leaves and poppies. The backing and binding will probably be from the Stonehenge "Oh Canada" line. I was pricing this fabric on the Sew Sisters website. $13.99 a metre. Neither Hamels nor Mad About Patchwork, my two other favourite online Canadian fabric stores, carry it. When I was in my LQS, I looked at it there as well. Their selection is not as great and it's $18 a metre. I guess I'll be buying it at Sew Sisters. I don't know if I'll get the Australian Tailor's quilt done in time for Remembrance Day, but it will probably get done before Remembrance Day of next year. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Large Quilt

"Wild Mustangs of the Painted Desert" is my entry for the Large Quilt category in the Blogger's Quilt Festival. You can find the festival here:

AmysCreativeSide.com
And here's my quilt entry:
You can find the pattern for this quilt here, but I did make some major changes. Let me tell you this quilt's story. It started with the Painted Desert fabric being on sale at my LQS. I loved it and I wanted it, but I wanted to know what I would use it for so I could make sure I bought enough of each fabric for the purpose. That's the native prints I used in this quilt - the background, the backing, the first border and binding, and the red fabric used in the pattern of this quilt top. I bought the horse print separately for a different quilt, but didn't end up using it. And then I found that awesome border print, which I just had to have... Then I started googling. You know how fabric companies will often offer free quilt patterns to use their fabric in. That's how I found the Wild Horses quilt pattern and decided it was the pattern I would use the Painted Desert fabric in, along with the all-over horse print and the horse border print. I bought sufficient fabric to make the quilt and stored it away for a future project. I actually planned on making it for the rec room in my basement. 
Then one day I found out that a dear older couple in my church, who had been like parents to me and supported me through some tough times, were moving to BC. It was pretty depressing news, but I knew I needed to make them a quilt. And since they are horse lovers, the Wild Mustang quilt would be the most appropriate for them  I can always make a different quilt for my rec room, but I will never have this opportunity to celebrate my friendship in this way again. And they were quite thrilled with it.
In considering the construction of this quilt, I opted to increase the size of the basic square unit and not to use half-square triangles. When I'm using a large print fabric, I like to use large pieces so that you can get the full benefit of the print. So I opted for parallelograms instead. For those of you who don't remember your geometry terms, this is a parallelogram:
Squares and parallelograms, but not HSTs made up this quilt top. And LOTS of Y-seams! Here's the centre star:
And I just kept on going, adding more pieces to the centre.
And finally, here's the back of the quilt:
And by the way, I really don't know if there are wild mustangs in the Painted Desert, but it sounded good.

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Original Design Quilt

I'm entering the Law School quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival, Original Design category. You can find the Festival here:

AmysCreativeSide.com
First of all, here's the quilt:
Now the story behind this quilt... I have dear friends at church who are like parents to me (actually there were two couples who were like parents to me, but more about the other couple in my other Festival entry). Their 29-year-old granddaughter went through law school and became a lawyer. She was practicing family law, but hated the nastiness surrounding divorces, custody, support, etc. So she decided to go back to school and get her doctorate so that she could teach law. While working on her doctorate, she travelled with a friend to another province to attend a wedding. While there, she and this friend were on their way to the airport to pick up a third friend, when her small car was struck by a moose. As a result of this accident, this young woman's spinal cord was severed and she became a quadriplegic. When I heard the story, I not only began praying for her, but I also felt that she needed a quilt - a tangible reminder of God's great love for her through her trials. As I pondered on what kind of quilt I would create for her, I decided that I also wanted to encourage her, that in spite of what has happened to her, she can still reach her goal of getting her doctorate and teaching law school. So I came up with the idea of combining the Courthouse Steps block
and the Schoolhouse block
to create the Law School quilt.
Next, I had to decide on fabric. I wanted something bright and cheerful, something that would make the recipient happy to look at it. In my stash, I had a bright batik fat quarter bundle and felt that the vibrant colours would be perfect. I chose a muslin for the background fabric because I wanted something pretty plain and basic that would set off the vibrant colours of the batiks. I also decided to add muslin sashing as I didn't want the batiks in the schoolhouses right up against the batiks in the courthouse steps. I used one of the batiks for the cornerstones. I picked up the orange (looks more red in the picture) and purple fabrics for the borders at my LQS. But I still needed an appropriate backing and binding. As I had used two secondary colours for the borders, I decided to use the third secondary colour as the binding and bought a green batik. Here''s the back of the quilt:
I wanted to stay with the bright, cheerful colours and felt that this butterfly theme was very appropriate. Butterflies represent positive change, transformation, new life. Metamorphosis.
When I finally had the quilt top together, I wasn't happy with all of that "blank space" from the muslin so I picked a very bright variegated thread to do the quilting with. Unfortunately, the colour doesn't show up in this picture, but you can see the quilting:





Show & Tell: More Moving & Rearranging

I confess: I skipped my final acrylic painting class this week. The instructor wasn't going to teach anything new and we were just going to finish up the paintings we had already started.  So I decided I'd rather finish at home - less hassle and mess than carting everything back and forth. Since my machine quilting class finished last week, that left me with no more evening classes at all, which freed my evenings to try and catch up at home. Not that I ever catch up. But I haven't done any crafting this past, which left me with a project of a different sort to share. 
Remember I am in the process of moving my office into my smallest bedroom? I finally managed to move all of these books up from the basement and arranged them on the shelves:
Then I moved the bookcase that they were on (another one like this one) upstairs. Right now, it's just sitting in the living room. The spare bedroom where it's going is also undergoing moving/rearranging. Since I had moved all of the furniture to one side of the room to shampoo rugs, I figured it was a good time to strip the wallpaper off the wall behind the bed and dresser, something I've been wanting to do since I bought this place in 2009 (only that one wall had wallpaper on it). Unfortunately, it left a residue on the wall, so I still have to sand/wash the wall to remove the residue, shampoo that side of the carpet, and move the furniture back before I can move the bookcase in. And I really need to get that done as I think one of my nephews will probably come for a visit next weekend and he'll be staying in that room. He's just moved to Alberta this past Monday and I haven't seen him yet. 
These two filing cabinets came up from the basement as well:
And yes, they are relatively full and relatively heavy. And awkward. But not as awkward as the bookshelves! And yes, I am moving these things all by myself since the cats won't help. 
And while I was moving things up, I was also moving things down:
This dresser and chest are currently empty. The two boxes are the contents of the chest: mostly fabric! And they weren't too heavy. I will use the dresser for my art and crocheting supplies. Plus any other craft and sewing supplies that I don't have a place for. You can see that I've already got my paintbrushes on top of the dresser. I still have to move the rest of my art supplies downstairs. They have been residing in my office while I was taking the acrylic painting course, but that made it kind of cramped as it is a small room. 
There are still lots of books that need to come up from the basement and in from the garage, plus some quilting/crafting/art books that need to go downstairs, but that will get done in time. Meanwhile, I really should change the oil in my snowblower before I need to use it. Tomorrow is my scheduled day off and I was planning on getting more done at home, but then I remembered that my serger is ready at the shop, so I will probably go in to get it. I hate to make a trip to the city for just one thing, so I'm considering hitting Delta Art Supplies as I have enrolled in Acrylic Painting: Basics & Beyond (w/ Michael Lynne) from Craftsy and I need a few more supplies. I retrieved my daughter's brushes from my ex-husbands house (she had taken art classes when she was in her teens), so I don't think I need any more of those.
I've only got a couple more weeks left on my inlinkz subscription so I figured I might as well use it while I've got it. So feel free to share your link to your current projects.


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Show & Tell: Lace Enchantment Afghan

I decided I should have another Show & Tell linky party as I haven't had one in quite some time. I haven't been very enthusiastic about them any more as the most links I ever got was 4. Not exactly a great response. More often I got none. But then I'm not a quilting or crocheting celebrity or a celebrity of any kind. And I am not so well off that I can afford to offer giveaways on a regular basis. Although I really like giveaways - both winning and giving. However, I really hate to part with fabric. Or thread. Or books. And I don't have "connections" that will sponsor the giveaways. Anyway, I decided I would try another linky party before my inlinkz subscription expires in November.
As I was considering this linky party, I wasn't sure what I was going to share. The Unbroken quilt is not finished yet. I haven't put the lining in my Tunisian crochet bag, so it's not finished either (though the crochet part is). And I was sitting there pondering this with an afghan that I had just finished sitting in my lap. Duh! Yes, I finally finished the Lace Enchantment afghan. Here it is:
Somehow this afghan ended up quite a bit wider than it was supposed to, so I decided it could be a bit shorter than it was supposed to as well. It was plenty big enough already. The instructions said to end after a row 6 of the pattern. I had just started a row 4, so finished 4, 5 & 6 and fastened off. I think this was rated as an intermediate pattern. It had a 6 row pattern repeat, so it was a little more challenging to do while watching a video, which is how I usually crochet. I had to make sure I knew which row I was on and double check what the pattern was for that row. As a result, it took me longer to complete than an easier pattern, such as the Firecracker Throw. (You can see my version of it in this post). I'm going to try to resist the temptation to start a new project and finish one of the other projects already in progress. It'll be easier to keep my house tidy and organized if I don't have random totebags of crocheting projects everywhere.
I haven't yet shared some of my latest finds at my LQS:
First a note that Mystery was not found at my LQS - LOL. If you've followed my blog at all, you know that as soon as I put any fabric on the floor, he has to be right there. I'm kind of surprised, but very happy, that he didn't try to get on the afghan. My cats are not declawed and yarn catches on claws very easily, so I try to keep them off the afghans as much as possible. They get pretty insulted that they're not allowed on my lap if I'm either covered with or working on one.
All of the items on top of the fabric came from a basket labelled $3 each. That's right - I got an ergonomic 60 mm rotary cutter for $3, plus two extra blades for it at $3 each. Unfortunately, it's not a common brand (Martelli) and apparently only uses its own brand of blades. However, I did find them on Amazon.ca, so I can replace them there when I need to. I prefer not to pay shipping at all, but I'd rather ship from within Canada if possible. I'm not about to run around or call around to every LQS I can find to see if they sell them. Even if I couldn't find the blades, at $3, I could just consider it disposable when I use up the blades I have. The other things I got from the $3 basket are a quilting pattern, a 3-1/2 inch square ruler and a cutting mat scraper. I already have one of these scrapers, but an extra one will come in handy, especially at that price.
As for the fabric in the picture (purchased at two separate times), I'm assuming they're bolt ends, end of the fabric line, etc. Full metres (that's 39.37 inches, for those of you not on the metric system) are 4 for $10, half metres are 4 for $5. There are 8 of each in this picture, all good quality quilting cotton. At that price, maybe I should buy some more and offer it in a giveaway!
Finally, a quilting work in progress:
As you can see, I haven't sewn the rows together yet. This is the Australian Tailor's Quilt found in this book:
I love this book because I love quilting, history and learning about different cultures. This book has all three. I was upset because my copy went missing for awhile (too many moves, still not everything unpacked, moving furniture and stuff from room to room...), but found it again when I was looking for something else. (Right now the quarter inch foot for one of my sewing machines is missing, but that's small enough to have gotten sucked up by a vacuum cleaner :-()  I almost bought another copy on Amazon before I found it. Now that I've found it, I'm hoping to get this quilt finished. The background information for this quilt is that during the Great Depression in Australia, thrifty quilters utilized tailor's suiting samples to make quilts. The directions in the book tell how much fabric to purchase, but I actually had some suiting samples to make mine from, so mine is pretty authentic! I have to decide what I'm going to do with borders, binding and backing. I've got lots of samples left, but most of them are dark, so won't provide much contrast. I have an old sheet that I'm considering for the backing. I bought it at a yard sale because it was the duplicate of one my mother had. Mom passed away in 1998, so I'm sentimental about that sheet. On the other hand, I do have a lot of samples left, so could also make a pieced backing with them. As for the batting, I'm thinking of going with a wool since the primary fibre in the samples is wool. At least I'm assuming so - the tailor's samples I lucked into didn't come with content labels, but most good quality men's suits are wool, aren't they? Hmm, maybe there were some content labels many moons ago. I think I recollect peeling some stickers off some of them. Yes, I did forget to mention that I started this quilt years ago. How many years? Not sure, but it was while I was still with my husband and we split in 2006. So, it's high time to get this quilt finished. Actually, this is not the only pre-divorce WIP that I have. As the marriage deteriorated, I felt less and less like pursuing my hobbies. Thank God those days are over and it's all water under the bridge now. Back to the Australian Tailor's Quilt, the instructions say to tie it with wool yarn. While that may be more authentic, I don't really like tied quilts. So I'm considering quilting it with Aurifil Lana. I have one spool in a beige, but don't really want that colour for this quilt. Lana comes in some awesome colours. Alex Veronelli generously provided me with colour cards for both Lana and Mako. The Lana comes in some beautiful tweedy-looking variegations that I think will work well. The problem is finding Lana. And, as mentioned, I prefer dealing with Canadian vendors because of the shipping (and patriotism, too). My LQS doesn't sell Aurifil at all. Johnson's Sewing Centre, my Aurifil dealer in Edmonton, only sells Mako 50. Then I remembered Tristan Italian Threads, a vendor in BC that is clearing out all of its Aurifil thread. Why, I have no idea. They're now selling other Italian threads that I have never heard of outside of this website, but the Aurifil is on at bargain basement prices. Very little selection left in Mako 50 (mostly reds and oranges), but still lots of choices in other weights. And Lana. So, if you're looking for some Aurifil, hurry on over to Tristan's website and stock up! They ship internationally as well. Another great Canadian vendor for Aurifil is ByTowne Threads: good selection and prices.
Now that I've yakked on long enough, it's your turn to share your links of what you've been up to.

Show & Tell Guidelines
  1. Link up any recent post that features your current creative project. And it can be a work in progress as well.
  2. Please remember to link to your actual blog post, not your main blog page, so others don't have to search.
  3. Somewhere in your blog post, you must link back to my blog or put the 'Show & Tell' button in your sidebar. 
  4. Please don't just add your link and go. Check out a few of the other links and comment. The best idea is to check out the 3 or 4 links just previous to yours. That way every link will get visited. And maybe you'll pick up a few new followers along the way.
  5. You don't have to follow me to post your link on my blog, but that would be much appreciated.
  6. Have fun. This is a party after all.
Here's my button:
Photobucket
<a href=’http://catscrossing-laura.blogspot.ca/p/show-tell.html'> <img src=' http://i1331.photobucket.com/albums/w583/september59/CatrsquosCrossing_zps2b7e332e.png ' style='border:none;'> </a>

Friday, 17 October 2014

Machine Quilting Class #4 - Final Class

For this class, we were supposed to bring in a project to practice on. While a few of us did bring in projects, none of us were actually brave enough to start quilting on them. We just continued to practice on our muslin samples. Even though I had both a project and some unused practice muslins, I decided to fill in the empty spaces on the ones I had already been working on. 
Remember the hearts I did last week? I finished echoing this one:
I added one echo to this one and then filed it with free motion meandering:
This strawberry was done using tracing paper and a pattern from 
501 Quilting Motifs: Designs for Hand or Machine Quilting :

I'm quite pleased with how the end leaves turned out. The rest of it needs more work. I'm also pleased with the fact that I figured out on my own how to do this motif in continuous line stitching. I like the book this came from, but if you choose to order it, be forewarned that a lot of motifs are not suitable for continuous line machine quilting. They're more for hand quilting.
This following flower was also done with tracing paper. It's from the book Machine Quilting with Alex Anderson: 7 Exercises, Projects & Full-Size Quilting Patterns .
This one was actually quite easy to do in continuous line stitching.
Then I decided to just fill some space with some random meandering:
Really need to work on my meandering skills.
I watched a Leah Day video of a free motion spider web, but when I tried it, it definitely did not resemble the real thing:
However, I am still pleased with the results because I think it's kind of pretty, whatever it is. I finally remembered what it actually looks like: an ammonite fossil! Next time I will try this with a much larger square like Leah did.
After this, I got bored with red and switched to citrus. I also didn't want to do another motif for which I had to use tracing paper. I really hate having to pick all those tiny little bits of paper off. So I bought a couple more stencils. Here's the first:
I like it very much and am not unhappy with my stitching either.
The other stencil (seen partially in the top of the above picture) is actually meant for a 12-inch block, so I only quilted one quarter of it here:
I think I was getting tired by this time and the stitching certainly shows it. This was my last motif of the night. And I'm glad it was the last class. I'm not fond of night driving. I find it rather disorienting. On my way home, my mind kept trying to convince me that I was driving in southwestern Ontario (where I'm from, originally). I kept imagining that I could see the shapes of huge deciduous trees along the roadside, like they grow in Ontario, but definitely not here in Alberta. I was quite tired, so I'm sure fatigue was a factor. Maybe also a dirty windshield.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention something I learned in that class. If you're going to need several of one motif for your quilt, trace it onto one sheet of tracing paper. Cut out enough sheets for the number of motifs required. Stack them all onto a piece of batting with the traced one on top. Machine stitch without thread through all layers. Voila! All of the tracing papers now have the motif marked on them with the stitching. The batting just provides support to the tissue paper. On the other hand you probably only need to stitch one, because you can then use it as a stencil. The instructor demonstrated how to use a Quilt Pounce using one of these. A quilt pounce is a little "whatchamacallit" that you fill with Pounce chalk dust. You just lay the perforated tracing paper (or stencil as the case may be) where you want it on your quilt, rub the Pounce over the pattern and it's transferred to the quilt. I bought a Pounce at the class and plan on using it soon... The white dust can be ironed out, the blue has to be washed. Meanwhile, I also thought that, instead of tracing the pattern, you can just photocopy it, and then perforate the copy paper with your sewing machine.  And fortunately for me, I have a home photocopier.
And more on the subject of marking quilts - If you use one of those blue quilt marking pens, make sure you remove the markings as soon as you no longer need them. I didn't get around to removing the markings from last weeks samples until today and they were much more difficult to remove than the ones from last night's class. If you leave them long enough, do they become permanent? I don't intend to find out.
In my last post on acrylic painting, I also spoke about taking quilt photos. I dragged out the wicker peacock chair and here are the results:
Go Wild! quilt on the chair, Bearly Hockey quilt in the foreground.
Trying a better angle, but still not quite right.
Busted! Yes, I'm taking these pictures in my downstairs bathroom. The previous owners of my house had the shower removed, so there's a fair amount of empty space in there. If I was any good at photoshopping, I would get rid of the toilet. However, if I decide to paint this picture, I can just leave the toilet out. It's not my prop of choice. :-) If I ever get my basement finished, I will set up a corner for quilt photos, so I don't have to use my bathroom.


Acrylic Painting Class #5

For this class, we went out into the street, sketched a scene with pencil, then came back into the classroom to paint it. Here's my painting so far:
This is the county building. The instructor didn't actually want us to do a whole building, just a tree or a corner of a building or something. Not sure I understood what she actually wanted.
While we were working on our paintings, she handed out a line drawing of an apple and had us do this:
First we washed the whole paper in one direction with yellow, then in the other direction with green. Then we put red on the apple, then blue on the edge of the apple. Then we were supposed to wipe it. I forget what this technique was called, something in French, I think. It doesn't really matter because I doubt I will be using this technique again, unless I actually know what I'm doing when I use it. I was feeling rather annoyed to have my main painting interrupted to do this. I just used paint that was already on my pallet as I wasn't about to start mixing paints for 2 separate pictures at the same time. 
The instructor wants us to bring in all of our finished work for next class, our final class, and she is going to pick some for a mini art show. Seriously??? Who wants to see my incompetent art work? Sharing it on my blog is one thing, but putting it out there for public display in the town where I live is quite another. I'll have to think this one over... Meanwhile I need to finish my county building painting. But if I finish it at home, I will have to come up with something to do in class, as she's not going to present any new projects. And here's my idea: I bought this chair at the thrift store:

The price tag is still stuck on it - I have to figure out how to get it off. I bought it primarily as a prop for quilt photos. I wanted a vintage-looking chair for said photos. It was $15, but it was orange tag day at the thrift shop, which meant everything with an orange tag was 50% off, so I got it for $7.50. The seat is covered in plastic, which definitely has to go, and when we tried to load it, we discovered that the screws holding the seat on were loose. That's okay, since I have to take the seat off to remove that plastic. By the time I got it home and unloaded it, I found there was only one screw holding the seat on. Was there ever another screw or did it fall out somewhere between removing it from the upper shelf in the thrift store and getting it home. Oh well, it's still a pretty sturdy chair, and not bad for $7.50. Here it is with my Go Wild quilt:
Yikes! That quilt kind of swallows the chair! And it's not a really big quilt. Maybe I need to try one of my baby quilts for this. Not to mention that the setting isn't quite right. The hot air register on the right and the AV cabinet on the left don't really cut it. 
This is somewhat of an improvement, but I forgot that brand new cotton batting doesn't drape very well until it's washed a few times. So the quilt looks kind of stiff. (The Go Wild quilt has polyester fibrefil batting, so it drapes better).  And the background is boring. I need a little more "something" in this photo.
Yogi, my vintage teddy bear (yes, he's my original teddy bear), joined in, then I added a "milk can" as another prop and took away the mat. Still not quite what I wanted. I'm going to have to set up a proper studio area if I want to do good quilt photos...
But back to my idea - if I can get a quilt photo that I like, I will then paint it. 
Hmm, there's always the wicker peacock chair...