Sunday, November 30, 2008

Layer by Layer - What I Created in Gloria's Class

Just thought you might be interested in seeing my progress from last Wednesday. This is the wall hanging I started in Gloria Loughman's class. Her technique has five layers. The layers in this pattern included a sky, a hill with rocks, a flat area with a river, a lake or ocean and an underwater scene.

I have not completely finished my layers yet. I am still a little hesitant about the ocean or lake part. I don't know if I am happy with the colours that I used. Maybe I am being too critical and have to take some time away from this thing in order to see it differently. I also have to read Gloria's instructions again. I think each layer is machine appliqued, embellished and quilted before it is added to the rest of the quilt. The good part is that I have Gloria's email address in case I don't understand her instructions. But I think I will figure it out. Hopefully I will be able to show you a finished wall hanging in January. For now I think I will have to put this one aside and work on my Christmas projects. Sew many quilts! Sew little time!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Quilt for the Felines in Our Family

A couple of weeks ago, Nynke (aka the Dutch Purple Rabbit) showed a cute little quilt which she had made for her cats. Mimi really liked it and wanted me to make something especially for her, just like Nynke's. So I put away all the UFO's I had been working on and made this little quilt, using bits and pieces from all sorts of cat prints. I made a whole bunch of four patches, but when I placed them on my 'design floor', I realized that they were too similar in colour and value. I decided to add some colour by alternating the four patches with blocks of yellow. Then, because I had a few strips of blue left over from another project, I put a blue inner border on to add even more colour. Still, it turned out kind of drab and not at all like Nynke's Sorry Mimi. Yours is just sort of bland.

"That's not all it is! You put that yellow fabric in there! It has the 'd' word on it!"

"The 'd' word? Like dentist, dumb, dragon - what?"

"The 'd' word silly! DOG!"

"Oh, dog. But it has cats on it too. I know you will like it when you try it."

"Don't bet on it!"

"Well, I don't care what you say. Oscar and Felix like it! It can be their quilt and you will have to wait until I make another one - like next year, maybe."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Update - On a Wonderful Day!

A Conversation with Mimi
Me: Mimi! Mimi! Wake up!

Mimi: What do you want? Can't you see I'm taking a nap?

Me: Yeah! Sure! I can see that, but I want to tell you about my day.

Mimi: Oh, I think you've mistaken me for someone who gives a damn!

Me: Oh, Mimi! Okay, okay, be that way you grouchy feline! But I am going to tell you about it anyway. We had a terrific workshop with Gloria Loughman! She was fantastic. She was very organized and had everything set up so that we could start right on time. We had a lot to do! I didn't get my wall hanging done, but I made a good start. We worked all day, with a very short break for lunch. We traced, chose our fabrics and cut and ironed and sewed! Everyone's work looked amazing! With her patterns and her colour advice, we couldn't go wrong. When I have more time I will take a photo, so that everyone can see what I did. Right now I am completely worn out! It was the first day that I have been at a workshop in over a year! I sat in my wheelchair the entire time so my feet and legs are killing me! I think I will go and lie down for awhile. I need a nap.

Mimi: Meow! We all need naps! Speaking of naps - that was a very nice story, but, can I get back to mine now?

Me: Okay. If you want to, you can come and sleep on my bed.

Mimi: Meow! I am really quite comfortable here, among the plants. Hmmmm. Will you stroke me if I come?

Me: Oh, Mimi! You drive a hard bargain. But, okay. I'll race you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm Primed! I'm Psyched! I'm Ready for Tomorrow!

Gloria Loughman was the guest speaker at our Guild meeting this evening. She is an Australian quilter, lecturer and instructor. Her talk this evening was inspirational! Her life has been very interesting! She has a great sense of humour! She paints on fabric and is wonderfully creative! And she is an exquisite quilter! The following are just a few of her quilts and also some of her student's quilts. Sorry, I don't know which is which. But they are all so beautiful!
The best part of all this is coming tomorrow. Gloria is going to instruct a day-long workshop on her techniques to members of our guild. I signed up as soon as I heard about the workshop.

I must admit though, these gorgeous works of art are a bit intimidating. I hope I will be able to make something that comes even halfway close to these wonderful pieces. I can hardly wait to try. My machine is oiled and ready. My fabrics are in a huge bin. And all my other sewing things are packed and waiting by the front door.
The workshop is titled, "Layer by Layer". We will be making an abstract landscape wall hanging, similar to the ones above. My original idea was to do something based on works of the Group of Seven, like Tom Thompson's "Jack Pine" or maybe "West Wind". (I am including Thompson in with the 'Group'. He is my favourite!) Harris' "Northern Lake" and Lismer's "Bright Land" might also work. But I would have to draw them up as a template and I am really not sure what, exactly, we will be doing. So I think for tomorrow I will do one of the patterns that Gloria will provide for us - at least until I learn the technique. She has four patterns to chose from and all are equally wonderful.
I hope to have some more photos to show you tomorrow. And maybe a WIP (Work In Progress). Yes folks! I'm primed! I'm psyched! I'm ready!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

OH, NO! Hope This Wasn't My Fault!

I spent last evening working on this week's UFO project. I worked on it until well after midnight.
It's a wallhanging with the words, "Let it Snow!" on it. And then it snowed - all night! We woke up to about 3 inches of the white stuff.
It's really very pretty. I love the way it is all piled up on branches, trees and fences, But it is a little early. Don't you think? I mean, it isn't even December yet. And winter doesn't arrive for another month! I took a photo out my front door. That's as far as I was able to get. I don't dare take my scooter out until the ramp into my house is cleared of snow. Don't want to get stuck out there, ya know! It's cold! Cold, but beautiful!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I made applesauce today! I got the apples at Highland Farms. They were very nice looking MacIntosh and Courtland apples! And the best part is, they were grown right here in Ontario on Highland Farm's orchards. Sorry I didn't take a photo of them. I was too excited to get started! (Yeah!, right!)

I peeled, cored and sliced 50 MacIntosh and Courtland apples! Then I cooked the apples in a small amount of water until they were soft. I also sterilized some jars and then filled them. I got the canner out and processed 4 batches of jars. It was a lot of work, but it netted me 23 jars of applesauce. Yummy! And that's applesauce without sugar, salt or colouring! Yaaaa!

Well, that's it for domestic chores for me for awhile! It's nice to do some simple pioneer-type stuff once in awhile, especially in these crazy economic times, but it's a good thing I don't have to do this every day. I'm exhausted! Think I'll go back to my sewing machine now!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Skirt Completed!

Thank Goodness! The 'Talking Tree Skirt' is Done!

It was really annoying to have to listen to that thing nagging at me all the time! And since I wrote that last blog my DS has totally disowned me! He says it was just too weird to read about his mother talking to a piece of fabric - a piece of fabric with attitude at that!

This tree skirt was pieced entirely by hand. That means I started it many, many years ago, when I was still afraid of my sewing machine. Each year after I started it I would take it out just before Christmas and look at it. Sometimes I resolved to finish it, but most of the time I just gave up on the dauntless task of hand sewing all those pieces. There were only three pieces left to finish this year! Can you imagine? It only took a few hours to have a finished tree skirt! I think I gave up the last time I worked on it because it looks as if I had put those last three pieces in backwards or something and after I took them out, my enthusiasm for this quilt must have left me. That's when it ended up in the bottom of my UFO bin! But it is finished now.

Thank goodness it had a voice, or I may never have completed it! And even Oscar, my most demanding and descriminating quilt inspector, gives it his thumbs, I mean paws, up!

Right Oscar?
Yeah, man! I love this thing!
I didn't have any Christmas fabric that was big enough for the back of this skirt, (it's about 50 inches square) so I pieced a giant nine-patch. Then I machine quilted the whole thing. I think it turned out okay. Times have changed. I'm not afraid of my sewing machine any more. Hurray!
Oh, boy! I can hardly wait until Christmas so that I can put a tree on top of it. Not a real tree, of course! That would be cruel! Just a little artificial one from Canadian Tire. That will do us just fine.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sail Away Felix

What do you do when life gives you lemons? You make lemonade, right? But what if your Guild gives you a "Quilts from the Heart" kit that contains some really cute boat fabric and also some of the ugliest orange sky stuff you have ever seen? The pattern for the quilt was supposed to be a sort of "Puss in the Corner"block. The ugly sky fabric (turquoise with orange clouds) was intended to be the main fabric in the centre. And not only that, but the clouds would have been going up and down! Never, without a few margaritas, have I ever seen a sky like that! This called for some creative thinking on my part. Good thing I love that sort of thing. I cut that ugly sky fabric and used it in smaller portions throughout the quilt. And I drew sailboats on the back of some "Steam-a-Seam" and did some simple machine applique. This is the result. I am quite happy with it. I think a small child will love the bright colours! And Felix loves it too!

I put some star fabric on the back I used this quilt to practice some machine quilting. I'm not very good at it yet, but I am getting better. I'll just keep making these charity quilts and using them for practice!

Oops! OMG! What was that? Oh, my goodness! It's a UFO! An unfinished tree skirt just fell onto my machine! And, wonders of wonders, it talks too!

Pardon? What's that you say? You think I should stop with the charity quilts and the summertime themes and start catching up on the Christmas things? I still have time!

What? It's only how many days until Christmas? 45? That can't be! I still have so much to do! How will I ever get everything finished? Oh, well. There's always next year.

What's that? You're tired of sitting at the bottom of my UFO bin for how many years? Oh, come on now. It can't have been that long! Really? Oh, give me a break. No, I didn't mean to break anything! Oh, please spare my machine! Okay, okay. I'll do it. From now on I will only work on Christmas stuff. Except for that workshop I plan to go on at the end of the month. Can I please go to that? It's still three weeks away.

What? I have to finish three things before I can go? That's one per week. You drive a hard bargain, but okay. I guess it's for my own good. I am such a big procrastinator! Guess I'd better get off this computer and get started.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Finished Disappearing Nine Patch Quilts

- well, almost finished.

A few days ago I promised to show you the disappearing 9-patch quilts I had done. Sorry! Life, the great weather we are having, as well as Seabiscuit and Wilbur got in the way of that. I will show them to you now. This first one has already gone to one of the shelters here in Toronto. It is a 'Quilts from the Heart' quilt, so most of the fabric was supplied by our Guild. Because I wanted to experiment with the disappearing 9-patch, I used some of my own fabric too. As I
had some fabric left over, I decided to make another 'Quilts from the Heart' quilt by adding a bit more of my fabric. This quilt was the result. Because all the blocks were the same, I pieced it in rows, (one quarter of a block each) rather than in large blocks. This worked out really well because I could press the seams in opposite directions and everything lined up nicely.

Since I made two quilts out of one kit, I had to play with the batting and backing material in order to make them fit. I pieced some left over batting strips to finish this quilt, which was around 34inches by 45inches. Then I found some really cute fabric in my stash. Unfortunately it was just not wide enough for the back. The selvage sides had a cute border print. I decided to cut the fabric in half and add a couple of inches to the middle in order to make it fit, but then changed my mind because I thought it would look as if I ran out of fabric. Instead, I cut the fabric for the back into thirds and added two strips of another fabric to give me the length I needed. This was the result. I think it worked.

And finally, the top of the last disappearing 9-patch. I have not finished it yet - still cutting strips to create a sort of piano key border. But I think this block is out of my system - for now anyway. Now onto Christmas stuff. Time is going by too quickly!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wilbur's Wonderful Witty Wednesday Words! Wow!

"Oh! Look! These are just like the eggs I came from! Hey Mom! Can you make me a brother?"

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Seahorse Out of Water!

Last Friday, Opal had a couple of adorable little Amigurumi Seahorses on her blog. I couldn't resist! They were calling to me to make one of my own. I went to the pattern which she mentioned, but I soon realized that the pattern was for sale - for a lot more than I can afford to pay. So I sort of crocheted a little seahorse of my own without a pattern. I just made it up as I went along and I don't remember exactly what I did. So, sorry, I can't give you the instructions. I don't think that I will ever make another one exactly like it. He's a one-of-a-kind Amigurumi!
He is 'swimming' on the new fabric I bought last week. It sort of looks like the deep blue sea, doesn't it? I was going to use it for the back of my Disappearing Nine Patch quilt, but I think I will just use some for a border on the quilt top and save the rest for another day. Look, here he is, swimming right towards you! I think I will call him Seabiscuit.
Yes, Seabiscuit it is. He seems to be smiling. I think he likes his new name.

The Disappearing Nine Patch

This is the quilt block that became an obsession for me for the month of October! I first saw it at our Guild meeting in September. I loved it and wanted to try it, but no one could tell me how it was done. So I 'Googled' it. (Just an aside: Did you know that the word 'google' is being added to our dictionaries because it has become a real word? I love new words!) There were many sites which showed finished Disappearing Nine Patch quilts.

I decided to practice the block with fabric from my stash. I think this would be a fantastic way to use up charm squares or stash fabrics. Here is a quick tutorial of the technique.
First start with a simple 9-patch block. I used dark colours for the corner squares, light colours for the in between squares and assorted reds for the centre squares.
Press the block and cut it in half and then in half again. You now have a 4-patch.

Then rearrange the four sections by turning the two opposite quarters 180 degrees. Like this.

Finally, resew the blocks and arrange them on your design wall - or in my case - my design floor. Place them so that the colours are balanced. I really didn't even bother to do that. I just sewed them as I made them. Since I can't get around very well and things that are on the floor are difficult to reach, I decided to just let the colours happen. I used many different fabrics, so I knew the result would be very scrappy.

The result is a simple quilt, that looks intricate. The fabrics line up nicely without too much fuss. I have finished the top of this quilt, but I have not quilted it yet. I think that I want to put a couple of borders on it too, but I want to think about that for awhile. Tomorrow I will show you a couple of quilts which I finished using the Disappearing Nine Patch. The sun is coming out, so I think the colours will look great!