Saturday, July 28, 2007

Echt Hollands Done?!

I think the top is done! My mom brought me back some more fabric from Holland and I was able to complete the top. It measures 42.5 inches square (about 108cm square). I think I will have it professionally machine quilted. I am afraid I will ruin it if I do it myself! Any suggestions on how it should be done. I am partial to wavy circular designs or should it be floral in nature, should they use white thread? Help!

Here are few photos of my mom's trip. My mom is originally from Haarlem, the same city where Lucy lives and here is the store where she works part time. I had specific instructions for my mom to pick up more Dutch fabric for me there. This photo shows my mom, nearest to the door, with my aunt Janny.
What a beautiful shop! Is there any of Lucy's work in the window?

The next couple of photos, I believe, my mom took in Leiden.(oops, no I found out the town is Schagen) There was a parade of people dressed in traditional costumes, even the babies in the antique carriages!

So cute!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Mini Quilt

When my cousin from Holland came over last October she brought me some beautiful real Dutch fabric and I started my Echt Hollands quilt. She also brought me some mini quilt patterns. I thought I would give them a try. Holy Smokes! They're mini alright!

First I had to relearn my paper piecing. After not doing it for a long time I forget how to do it and I get everything backwards! Even after I get into the groove, I can still find myself having to redo the same seam over 2 or 3 times! I'll forget to press open the seams, or I'll accidentally trim the good part, or when the seams are open it doesn't fit the space! eeek! Here are a few of the things I learned:

1) I copy the pattern onto tracing paper or tissue paper. It is a lot thinner and easier to tear away as well as see through. Make 2 copies of each page in case, like me, you have to do it over due to excessive seam ripping. :P

2) I set my stitch length to 2 (very small) on my sewing machine, because it is easier to tear away the paper and the seams are not very long on this project.
3) Fabric pieces right sides together and paper on top of first fabric. On paper side, sew seam on line, starting a little before the line and ending a little beyond the line.
4) After my first seam I fold back the paper along the seam and cut a 1/8th inch seam allowance. This gets rid of excess bulk especially important in this mini quilt.

5) Finger press open, then fold paper along the next sewing line and again trim a 1/8th seam allowance. This will give you a guide to how to place your next piece of fabric. If I didn't do this, I was more likely to screw up the placement of fabric.
6) Place your next fabric right sides together and sew on the next seam line. Continue in this manner.

Here is how it looks in progress:

7) Once I've done to the outer seam, I will trim the excess from that side:

8) This boat is done in 2 separate pieces, then sewed together. I leave the paper on to match up the seams more accurately.

Here are the few I've done so far, each still take me an hour to do. I do one per night, to avoid frustration. It's kind of addictive but intense, when working with such small things! One night I ripped out the same seam 3 was time to give it a rest!

Did I mention the instructions are in Dutch? I don't speak or read Dutch and I couldn't find many of these words in my small pocket dictionary!

Sunday, July 15, 2007


My mother-in-law (MIL) had her 80th birthday last week and my FIL hosted a smorgasbord in her honour. I ate too much! It was a cozy affair filled with old friends, neighbours and family. She received flowers, cards, and a few gifts.

What do you get a woman who has lived so long and has pretty much everything she's needed or wanted? She has already many quilts from her daughter in Calgary. Something personal and handmade is good, though. My in-laws, like my husband and I, love cats and we introduced them to their now spoiled companion Rusty. Rusty was a stray, that showed up at our doorstep in the winter time about 12 years ago! My in-laws, like us, also have to have our daily doses of a tea cozy it is, with cats on it of course! (I am starting to believe tea cozies are my specialty!)

I chose the orange fabric to go with their living room. I pieced the tabby cats. I would have loved to have tried this in the "liberated" fashion but I only had one fat quarter of the back ground fabric, so I had no fabric to waste in experimentation. I planned it out on graph paper.

This is the "tail end" as I like to call it! I appliqued the bird. Boy did I have a time with that! Drawing birds is not my strong suit. It started as one piece until I cut off its head! Then I cut wings out and added a beak and feet in another colour. I am happy with the result. So I call this cozy "Tea'se".

Happy Birthday Lois!


Also, please check out our guild's website for a post about my first quilt. We are hosting an on-line show and tell for members in the theme of "my first quilt".

Friday, July 06, 2007

Cat and Mouse

It's done! Cat and Mouse! It measures 14x15.5 inches. I'm happy with how it turned out, although I am sure I broke a few quilting rules. I chose fused applique, because it was a small piece and I thought I could get better detail, but my little stars were beginning to fray and even some of the branches. I am not sure if it is because of the type of bond I used (Steam-a-Seam2 lite) or if my scissors were too dull....any thoughts? I am not too worried, because it is a wallhanging, it won't get any real wear and tear. I handquilted around the tree with a single embroidery thread. I really like the look of larger stitches with embroidery threads, but handquilting around fused applique does really wear at the fused pieces. so I quilted through only the top layer and the batting. When I did add the backing I hand quilted four straight lines (with 2 threads) in the ditch. I also hand quilted the words...I should have embroidered them first instead, but hey live and learn.

Below is a side by side photo, with the source of inspiration: Spectre #17 cover by Dave Johnson. I used only fabric from my stash, and didn't have any of the lighter green, so I chose instead the fabric with the vines, it does have the green in it. It reminded me of roots, which reflected the whole tendril/tentacle thing going on.

I like how this piece did not take a lot of time and yet it gave me so much satisfaction. I am in the mood for getting things done. I also finished the kids' quilt for the guild, that I took home in March. Next on the list is binding my Suske II: Split Personality quilt, finishing the top for Echt Hollands, when my Mom brings me some fabric from Holland, and I want to start on cutting my Amy Butler fabric....I am thinking the 'Flora' design from Valerie Wells Designs...This is the trendiest fabric, I've ever bought, I want to use it before it goes out of style :)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Canada Day!

Today is July 1st and we are celebrating Canada's birthday. I live near the centre of the London, Ontario and they always shoot off fireworks at the forks of the Thames River (yes many things are named after the 'real London'). We always invite our friends over for a party to watch the fireworks from our front steps. Today I will share a few of my Canada inspired work and musings.

These are from my exercises in black and white

I am a first generation Canadian, my parents immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands in the 60's, they lived in the States first and were married in NYC, but the Americans didn't want them. My Dad says he wrote a letter to the government begging to stay. It wasn't in the cards and it was off to Canada, when their green card expired. Soon I was born, and then 5 years later they became Canadian citizens. I never really learned Dutch as a child, my parents believed that when you become a citizen of another country, you learn their language. We had no other family here, we moved a lot because of my father's job, so we never hung out with other Dutch people. We visited Holland a few times when I was young but I was very shy and I didn't know the language. I felt I was more Canadian than Dutch. But as I got older, I met more people who's family had been in Canada for generations, then I felt more Dutch than Canadian. I spent a lot of time in high school trying to understand what is a Canadian. I took Canadian literature courses and still I felt more Dutch than Canadian, but not when I was in Holland.

Fast forward to the internet...because of the internet I made contact with my cousin Marjon in Holland. Through letters to her I re-discovered my Dutch family and heritage. My husband and I have visited my family in Holland twice and we've really enjoyed going there. I made a few of these as gifts, 'From our home to yours', I wrote on the back. I hand quilted these folksy Dutch and Canadian flags:

In an earlier post I wrote that I love the primary colours, but I guess it would be truer to say that I love the combo of red, white and blue. In my exploration of what is a Canadian, you always have to explore what is an American. In Canada, many people define themselves as 'not an American'. I think that is sad. We Canadians are more like Americans then we want to believe. One thing I like about America is their unabashed love of freedom and their spirit of entrepreneurship (capitalism; I own my own business, after all). My Dad says Canada was more like that in the 60's, than it is now. Unfortunately, in Canada, there is often a spirit of entitlement that comes without deserving and a hollow patriotism that comes out of being anti-American. Canadians love freedom, except for...(fill in: whatever I am currently against, smoking, speech, trans fats, pit bulls... make me a new law). What I do like about Canada, is it's ties to Britain, without it we would be lost, and it's still a place of opportunity for immigrants and it's beautiful wide open spaces.

The next photo is of a flag I made after 9-11. It symbolized my support of the Americans after this horrifying act of terrorism.

I want to also extend a Happy Independence Day to all the Americans out there, in many ways, we were born out of the fight between you and the Brits, but we get to enjoy the best of both worlds. I am glad to have you as a neighbour. Let's have great holiday week!