Friday, December 28, 2012

Making progress


 Well, I have fallen short of my goal of this quilt top being done by Christmas, but I have made progress. I need 16 of these blocks I have now completed 8 (6 are shown as there is no room on this design wall for a king size bed quilt!)

All the strips are made so it is just a matter of having the time to sew! I should be able to finish the blocks at least this weekend, as long as I don't have to go to work!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Homemade Pillowcases for Gifts

I love making these pillowcases for Christmas! They are simple to make and always look so good when they are done, but each year I always have to relearn the sausage trick to make the cuff (is that the word?). So I decided to make myself a photo reference and post it here so I can refer to it anytime.

Fabric requirements:

WOF 2 inch strip, 9 inch strip and 27 inch strip

Press 2 inch strip in half lengthwise.

Lay out 9 inch fabric right side up, lay pressed 2 inch fabric along top, pin together at top.

Lay out 27 inch fabric on top wrong side up, pin together at top.

Roll up the 27 inch piece.

Fold up the 9 inch piece so that everything is inside and pin together.

ta da!
Sew quarter inch seam along pinned side. Turn it all inside out and press.

With wrong sides together sew side and bottom with scant quarter inch seam, turn inside out. With right sides together sew 3/8 inch seam on same side and bottom, and turn inside out again. Press! Done!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Quilts for twins! and for Dan's

I have been very busy lately! I finished these two baby quilts for friends of mine (Danielle and Dan) who are having twins, a boy and a girl sometime in December! It was quite a struggle to do the machine quilting. I hardly ever use a seam ripper except when I am machine quilting. First I didn't like the pattern, rip it out! then I didn't like the colour of thread, rip it out! then I had tension problems, eek rip it out!! but in the end it worked out, I am still learning and it's practice and practice and practice! It's a good thing babies do not have a critical eye when it comes to quilts!

How's about a nice Hawaiian Punch?
So now that I have that done, I have to work on my next big project.  A friend of mine, another Dan, asked me to make him a quilt made from some of his Hawaiian shirts. Oh that should be fun I said! King size, he said. eek King size? and most of the shirts are made of rayon! He has a huge collection of shirts! He brought me about 20 different shirts, I sorted them by colour and rejected the polyester ones, I figured I only want one kind of fabric to sew, and only one headache to deal with! and the headache is that it is slippery and wonky. Even after you cut the fabric it gets all distorted. I am continuously experimenting with spray-on starch. In the end I picked out 8 different shirts to use.

This also made it hard to figure out a design. I was going to use cotton fabric for sashing the blocks to stablize it. I found a pattern in my Sew to Swap book by Chrissie Grace, that I thought might work with so many busy fabrics, the only problem was that it was square and I had to make it bigger. I got out my graph paper and started drawing.  I also thought I would use white as my solid instead of brown.

My squares will be 2 inches instead of 1 inch and I added a flying geese border for the pillow rest and to make it rectangular instead of square.

Below are my 2 1/2 inch squares waiting to be chain pieced.  I needed to make 16x 16-patch blocks! I got those done at the BIQR.

Below is one completed block, I need 16 of these. I am currently chain-piecing the outer borders. 30x strips of 8 squares, and 30x strips of 6 squares. Chain piecing can be monotonous work at best, so I do a bunch as leaders and enders and in between projects. My goal is to get most of the top pieced by Christmas!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Thank you Gwen!


 Life got in the way and I did not get a chance to finish my BIQR posts.  There are so much inspiration at these retreats, I am sorry if I am unable to share all the stories. However the most important inspiration story is the one of Gwen Marston!

 I first learned about Liberated Quiltmaking through Tonya's (aka Lazy Gal) blog. I found the book at my local library and took it out and I was hooked! This book said Here are the basics for quilt making, now go out and make your own quilts, follow your instincts, your quilt does not have to look like everyone else's! It is fun to design and create your own quilts and it is not hard!

I found out Gwen had retreats in Michigan and Michigan is next door to Ontario, that is do-able! Alas her retreats were full all the time! but then for her 25th anniversary she added a fifth week and Christine and I were in! and we have been each year since!

Meeting her in person was amazing! She is so friendly and welcoming. Newbies do not get left behind! Her retreat is relaxing, her style is spontaneous and liberated! She is my muse and I am so lucky to know her. She does not stop, each year for the past 5 years she has put out a book on quilting and she is happy to include her students' work as well. I am honoured she chose one of mine to be in a book and then in 2 major quilt shows. She taught me to trust in myself.  If I had to choose who was the biggest inspiration in my life it would have to be Gwen!

Next year, her 30th year, is the last year for BIQR with Gwen. She is passing the reins to Pat Holly and her sister Sue, who have been loyal retreaters for years. I believe we will get to meet them next year at the final Gwen retreat. So last chance quilters! If you would like to experience a Gwen retreat, sign up now, and put yourself on the waiting list if you have to.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Red and White Sisters

Meet Lucy and Beth. Sisters. I don't know a lot about them, but they sat at the table behind me. I met Beth last year at BIQR but this was the first time for Lucy. They had been to the American Folk Art Museum in New York and had seen the Red and White quilts(!) What an impression it must have made on them as each of them spent their time at the retreat on creating their own Red and White treasure!

First Beth finished this gorgeous Amish inpired piece:

before moving on to work on this mesmerizing piece, each strip is a half inch bigger than the previous strip, giving it that 3d look.

Lucy started with a red checkerboard on point with 16-patches in the corners:

Also sitting at the Red and White table was MaryE who was working on her appliqued red berries on white cloth (see previous post) and Kathy! While Lucy and Beth were diligently working on their Red and White masterpieces, Kathy was strolling up and down the aisles shopping for floor scraps, handing out quilting wisdom where ever she went. She loved the Red and White checkerboard but it was not liberated enough for her, so she made it her job to create the liberated version of Lucy's quilt, using floor scraps!

You can find a quilt by Kathy on page 18 of the Liberated Medallions book.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Liberated Stars Shine!

Every year at BIQR I get my new Gwen Marston book signed by all the participants, and Gwen too of course (!) kind of like a yearbook. It really makes a nice keepsake of the retreat. This year was especially fun as quite a few of us had quilts in her latest book. So we had a great time signing each other's pages and pretending we were stars. Not everyone has a blog to do their bragging on so I thought I might feature their work at the retreat and match it up with the book.

First I will start with Cathy who did the Liberated Witch Hats on page 31. Obviously her piece had a lot of impact on me since I had to play with that fabric too (see last post), but I heard that women in the other weeks also using that fabric. This time Cathy brought a different fabric to work from.

I love how those red wedges just pop!


Then there is Pat Haas, her work is on page 86. She likes to dye and play with fabric, her center piece is her own batik that she created.

Again she started with her own painted piece in the center, but what a different colour palette she worked with! She started with some tiny liberated stars...

Then added some red and some Paris novelty print. I think it is stunning!

My quilting buddy Christine is on page 92. She is always making great presents for her family.

This time she brought her unfinished applique piece from 2 retreats previous to work on. (I too brought my piece from the same retreat, but did not work on it all since I got distracted by that Ghastlies fabric). She spent a lot of her time working on "parts" for this piece.

Mary Elizabeth Kinch from Toronto is already a quite known published quilter, she has at least 2 books under her belt, her latest book is Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts. She made this interesting piece on page 100.

I think when you work with such small pieces all the time you need to have a break and do something really different. MaryE spent a lot of time appliqueing red berries to white fabric! During show and tell she revealed that she wondered that if Jackson Pollock could splatter paint from above she could let her berries fall where they may! In this photo she was experimenting with vine borders, and later she tried out some floating squares....I think sometimes you have got to take an idea and let it go where it may and at BIQR the creative juices flow! I can't wait to see this one done, it will surprise us!

and the there is Kate! wait, if I tell you about Kate I have to tell you about the sisters....I think I will save that post for another day!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

It started with Liberated Witch Hats!

Every year Christine, Gail and I go to Gwen Marston's Beaver Island Quilt Retreat in Elk Rapids, Michigan. This year's retreat's theme was Liberated Medallion Quilts. It's a 5 hour drive from London, Ontario but when you stop at quilt shops along the way it takes, well, a bit longer!
First stop was Linda'a Country Quilts in Davison. Christine's daughter Caitie took this photo. This was her first quilt retreat. Gail buys a lot of fabric! Me, I am a nibbler, a little bit here or there and very much project oriented, I don't have a big stash. So it was unusual for me to buy 4 fat quarters with no real plan on using them at the retreat except that Linda's carried the Alexander Henry Ghastlies fabric! I had seen this fabric at my local quilt shop Hyggeligt and had resisted the temptation to buy them not knowing what I would do with them (sorry Chantal), but I remembered the Liberated Witch Hats!  

It started off slowly, on Wednesday, as after Gwen's great trunk show and everybody is getting started on their projects, we had a power failure just after lunch! At first we blamed the irons, but alas it turned out it was the whole building! and later to find out it affected the whole town! We went into town to Now and Then Quilt shop and shopped with flashlights! the rumour on the street was the power would be back on at 6:21PM, at least that is what the recording said. Making the best of the situation we went into nearby Williamsburg in search of quilt stores with working lights! Spent more money at Renee's and then to Acme for dinner!

After dinner the power was back on and we tried to get our mojo back. I managed to accomplish this much on my Ghastlies medallion quilt (working title only). Btw, the pink floral border, was a floor scrap that I found first thing that morning.It was a great match! Gwen's retreats you do not throw fabric into the garbage you throw it on the floor so the quilters can go picking!


 Then I lost my mojo again....I had this very nice framed piece of fabric....but then what...I did not know what to do. So I worked on another project from home that had lots of unthinking chain piecing, before I came up with the idea to make a liberated house with some of the characters in the windows. It was kind of a big house... where to put it...?

I finally decided that I would try to make a tree similar to the one in the tree fabric and create a whole scene and place the house off to the side.

(photo courtesy of Gail)

 Another lady, Laurie,, was also working on a Liberated Witch Hats and Ghastlies inspired quilt, she gave me some wonderful owl fabric to put into my tree!  She also gave me a strip of Scrowlie cat fabric.

The next brain storm came when we were asked to create a liberated block as a gift for Gwen for her birthday. I thought I would make a liberated log cabin for her from the fabrics I was working with and it turned out fabulous, I had to make more!

Title:  There Goes the Neighbourhood!
(thanks Gail!)

Laurie and me with our masterpieces!
More BIQR in next post!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

AQS Quilt Show Grand Rapids

So excited we made it to the AQS Quilt Show in Grand Rapids, Michigan!

Gwen's exhibit advertised on the Big Screen!

Christine and I

Myself with my quilt! The quilt looks smaller than it really is because I am standing a few feet in front of it. They had chains in front so that you could not get too close to the quilts.


then we got caught taking photos when we were not supposed to be! oops! but hey, it was my quilt anyway!
We had a really good time. We started right when it opened and spent the whole morning just looking at the quilts on display. Overwhelming!  There were quite a few exhibits and the workmanship was superb, felt a like my quilt did not deserve to be in such amazing company! I particularly liked the the Stitch like an Egyption: Tentmakers Exhibit.

amazing applique!
And there was so much more! If you want to see the winners of the AQS Show follow this link. Then we did lunch and then checked out all the vendors...we really needed another day to do the show justice. I was impressed, I would definitely go again!