Monday, September 10, 2012

Milk & Honey Quilt

I have a ton of things I should be posting. . . but I'm super excited about this right now, so here we go.

I saw this posted on and fell in love with the quilt. It unfortunately wasn't posted to pinterest in a way that gave me any information as to what it was, or who designed it.
Off to I go to ask for help. Well, a few lovely individuals had some great information to share. And I was able to discover that this is likely an American Jane quilt pattern called Pretzel Party. 

Now, looking at it. A few people were put off by the fact that it had so many Y-seems. I happen to love hexagons used in quilts, but aren't such a big fan of fiddling around with Y-seems. So, I've started to redraft it to make it possible to cut out with my AccuQuilt Studio hexagons and 3" strips and be able to sew it with very few Y-seems. 

It's still really, really rough (i.e., nothing is to scale), but I think you can get the idea of how it would go together from this image:
What do you think? I can see where I need to make a couple more edits to make it all straight seems on this quilt. But I also see that it is totally do-able.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

WIP Wednesday--iSpy Drunkard's Path Nearly Complete

I'm so close, I can feel it. The quilting is done, now I just need to bury and trim my threads and then bind it. 

I didn't pay any particular attention to colour values when laying out the quilt. I just treated it like a scrappy and didn't put two of the same fabrics side-by-side. 

My daughter already loves it and has been following my progress with it since I got the 5" squares back from an iSpy swap I participated in. I guess I better make a decision on the binding so I can actually finish a quilt. I'm leaning toward a solid red binding since I already have the perfect one in my stash, I can just replace it for the project it was planned for when I get around to actually completing the project.

I'm already planning my next projects: [insert evil laugh here] 

* I'd like to make myself a purple suede business card holder. I created a sample of the pattern I came up with in a thick paper to see how I like it before I cut into my prized thrift store suede (I cut up the ugly jackets nobody wants to wear).

* I'm planning on a Hungry Caterpillar pillowcase to match my daughter's sheet since she doesn't want me to take her Dr. Seuss pillowcase off and put a regular boring adult one on.

* I want to start the embroidery on my daughter's day of the week outfit organizers. I found some really cute vintage cat embroidery patterns (my daughter is obsessed with cats, guess it's better than Disney princesses!) 

Here are one of the cats. If you are interested in seeing the rest I have links on this pinterest board:

Check out what everyone else is working on here:

the Needle and Thread Network


WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WIP Wednesday--I actually basted something! I might actually finish a quilt

I hate basting. Really, really hate basting a quilt. I don't have a guild or group of friends near me that quilt that would be willing to help me (I believe good company makes annoying tasks more enjoyable), so I bit the bullet the other night and laid it out, smoothed everything a million times, and started pinning. 

I couldn't procrastinate, because my little Houdini decided she wanted to be in her crib and climbed in on her own. Still not quite sure how she did it, but I was the only one home with her and I didn't lift her in. So, we converted the crib into a toddler bed that night. And bought her a really flat pillow the following day. Well, then she needed a pillow case to match the sheet I made her for her bed!

I've finished piecing the top and the quilting in the center of my daughter's big girl bed quilt, now I just have to do the borders. Thankfully, I seemed to do an okay job on the basting. I only have one small little pucker on the back. Did I mention, I hate basing? Maybe if I had a different method or more space to do it in, it wouldn't be so bad.

I'm also mostly finished my quilt design. All the curved pieces can be cut with the AccuQuilt GO drunkard's path dies. What do you think?

Full Quilt

Corner Detail

Also in the works, is a pan of strata muffins to use up some stale bread. The only downside to making homemade bread is that it only stays fresh for a couple of days and we tend to not quite make it through a full loaf.

Check out what everyone else is working on here:

the Needle and Thread Network


WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Food Waste Reduction Ideas

Vegetable ends? 
-- Make vegetable stock! broccoli stems, carrot ends, potato peels, etc. can be thrown in a slow cooker along with 5 to 6 cups of water and some pepper (you can also add other seasonings that you like--garlic, ginger, etc.). Set the slow cooker on low and leave it for 8 to 9 hours. Strain it and let it cool then freeze. I like to freeze it in ice cube trays to make it super handy. If you only get small bits of veggies at a time, just freeze the veggie bits until you have enough and time to make the stock.

Apples and Pears that are a little too ripe? 
-- Slice them and sautée them in a pan with some oil (or butter), diced onion, and pepper. Pairs amazing well with pork. Probably would be tasty with chicken or fish too.

-- Bake them with a small pat of butter, raisins, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes for a delicious dessert.

Stale tortilla chips, crackers, plain cereal, etc.?
-- Crush them and turn them into bread crumbs. There great in homemade hamburgers or meatballs! Just make sure you remember to reduce the amount of salt you add if what you are crushing is high in sodium.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer and slowing down

We had lunch with neighbours of ours that we don't see as often as we should today. While lingering over lunch, it dawned on me that this is something that should be done way more often. 

In the past we've frequently been busy with errands and chores and forget to take time out for friends. But what is the point of all this work to live if we don't slow down and stop to enjoy our lives? 

We live in a community where the city really makes an effort to give us a good reason to come out and gather. Today was Rib Fest, Friday there is a free concert, and there are free outdoor movies on Thursdays. I think we have to start going and enjoying more of these events. It's one of the reasons we choose to live where we live after all. (It's not just because of the twice weekly farmer's market across the street!)

I hope where ever you live this summer, you're out enjoying life for all it's worth. 

My latest quilt design

Have you seen The Sometimes Crafter's Retro Flower's quilt pattern? If not check it out here:'s super cute and part of the inspiration behind my new quilt pattern I'm working on called Leaves.

Here's a first draft:
What do you think?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

And the quest for organization begins. . .

My family and I started something new this week. We're working toward a simplified life and tidier household. I may, or may not, have forgotten to tell my husband what's going on. . . but I definitely showed him this (it's a slight variation to what I saw here

I don't think we could have realistically maintained this weekly schedule when we were both working full-time, but since I've left my regular day job and have started a small administrative/bookkeeping business from home, I feel this is doable. We're going to try it for a month and see what we think. 

I will need to tweak it some more to fit us better and have already started drafting a version 2.0 that includes weekend days and a specific seasonal task for each month. Although, I've left a couple of the summer months blank for now. Here's a sneak peak:

~::~     ~::~     ~::~

So, it's Thursday night and we started this whole thing on Monday. How are we doing so far? What do we think?

Well, I like that I don't have to look around and decide what has to be done. In a sense it's replicating what my husband's mum has done at their little getaway spot where there is a list of things that need to be completed before you leave. They were kind enough to let my husband and I use it a few times on our own, pre-baby days, and it really made it easy for the two of us to work together. I could see what he was doing as it related to the list and make a decision on what I could be doing to help us get out of there without stopping him and having a conversation about what we thought needed to be done. 

I like that I don't feel overwhelmed by any one task, it's a little bit in the morning, and a little bit at night. And it's all organized so I don't have to go on a big o' cleaning spree (which I hate by the way).

Now hopefully with the addition of one organizational task a week. Things like the shoe closet will be a little less of a jumbled mess and I might be able to find the camera cord so I can show off my awesome border for my daughter's circle quilt that I'm working on.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

WIP Wednedsay--It's been a while!

I've been working on projects in the background, but really haven't been sharing with anyone. I didn't even think to take a picture of the cute Kobo Reader cover I made my Aunt.

Anyway, right now I'm working on curves for my baby. If I start now, I might actually have this done by the time she goes into a big girl bed. When's that supposed to happen anyway? 

I'm using some 5" squares I got in an I-Spy exchange on along with my AccuQuilt Studio Drunkard's Path dies to turn this:
into this:

More to follow, with better pictures, when I find the camera cord. I think it may be in the man cave. 

Check out what everyone else is working on here:

the Needle and Thread Network


WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Saturday, June 9, 2012


After work, I pick up groceries while my husband picks up the kids from day care. Once we get home, we cook dinner, clean up, and put the kids to bed. We don't have time for each other, let alone anyone else. There's got to be a better way. --Working mother

Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me, and I don't even have to pick my daughter up from daycare currently, since she's cared for in our home! Our lives were hectic prior to having a child, and as she gets older and starts to have more activities and "play dates", I'm sure it's just going to get worse.

I wanted to change this. I want more balance in our lives, but I didn't know how. Where do you start something like this? I recognize that this isn't something you just flip a switch and then BAM you are in a new life. But I need to figure out the right path for us. So, I've quit my job and I've decided to open a small bookkeeping business (working toward the certification now). 

For anyone else (including a man, not just a woman) who is trying to rethink what they want to do with their lives, I highly recommend this book:

It helped me focus on what I needed to decide and what needed to be accomplished while not being totally annoying to read. The author has a great sense of humour, and it comes across in what she is writing. 

Please note: While I decided to leave my job immediately, this is not the course of action the author would recommend for most. It was just the right decision for me and my family. Please don't construe my quick action as something this book will push you to do.

Someone introduced me to this recently. I think it's a really interesting concept and one I wish I knew about a couple of months ago. 

I probably wouldn't have purchased a cordless drill had I known a solution like this existed. I'm okay with lending some of my items out and borrowing something I'll only use once a year. There aren't a ton of people in my area yet, but they just opened up to the city I live in. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Broiled Tilapia with a creamy, dairy-free, mustard dill sauce

I don't mind cooking. But I don't want to make two different meals for dinner, or deal with a young child who's annoyed she can't eat what we're eating. So, I've been trying to find meals suitable for a toddler who's allergic to milk protein and soy, yet still appetizing for my husband and I, and cost effective.

Tomorrow, my daughter is going to try fish for the first time. And I've found a way to make it yummy for my husband and I, yet totally something she can eat. The bonus is, it doesn't require any of her crazy expensive dairy- and soy-free replacement foods!

Broiled Tilapia
Fillets of tilapia (or other similar thin white fish like sole, haddock, bass, pike, etc.)
Olive oil (I actually use Blue Menu omega oil since I like the flavour mixture of olive, grape seed, and flax oil)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp dijon mustard (make sure it's soy free)
2 tbsp mayonnaise (we use Helman's olive oil mayo since it's soy free)
1 lemon

1) Turn the broiler on in the oven and preheat it while you are getting everything ready.

2) Prep a pan (that will comfortably fit your fish fillets in a single layer) by spraying or brushing it with oil. I'm not sure if PAM is soy-free or not, we use a pressurized sprayer that you fill with your own oil and pump yourself to pressurize.

3) Lay out your fish in the pan and drizzle the fish with olive oil. Then sprinkle approximately 1/4 tsp of of dill per piece of fish and also sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4) Mix the mustard, the mayonnaise, the juice from the lemon, and a good shaking of dill together in a bowl and stir until you get a smooth consistency.

5) You're oven should be preheated sufficiently at this point, put the fish in the oven for 6-8 minutes. It should be cooked through and the fish flakes easily with a fork. Let sit for a minute before serving with the sauce drizzled on top.

Yummy! Of course you'll selected the number of fillets you need based on the number you are feeding. I think the sauce could easily be enough for 4 to 6 fillets.

It's super easy and healthy. I love the fact that it allows me to get dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes! We had it with baked sweet potato and a cranberry quinoa salad tonight. Oh, and by the way. . . I learned today that you can make quinoa in a rice cooker. Super easy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Finding Balance

I recently read the following and it really connected with me. I thought I'd share.

Right Living in a Consumer Society by Roger Pritchard

We feel alienated from our work. We don't love what we do, we merely tolerate it. We work only to earn money, and we use that money to consume more than we really want. We feel a dissatisfaction with our lives, and yet we feel powerless to change.

Our modern economic system is based on the manufacture of goods, the extraction of natural resources without regard for the consquences, the progressive eliminiation of meaningful work, and the constant increase of consumption. Consumption is insatiable: we want more and more and the economy has to grow and grow to meet our needs--just like some cancer.

We are materially wealthy beyond our own wildest dreams. Yet we feel uneasy. Studies have shown that there is no correlation between happiness and wealth, fulfillment and material possessions. People in our society regularly report that to be happy they "need" about double their current income.

"Right livelihood" offers us a positive alternative, a middle path between growth for its own sake and stagnation. An increasing number of Americans are following this path. Many of us are looking for ways to break out of the current system. We want to reduce consumption, conserve natural resources, cut down on pollution, eat more simply and nutritiously, bring more spirituality into our lives, and develop more of a sense of community. More and more of us are convined that each generation should meet its needs without jeopardizing the life support system of future generations.

Those of us who start on path to right livelihood find that our lives are more balanced, simple, clear, and focused. We are no longer strung out in a meaningless cycle of material consumption.

The contemporary economy focuses on this cycle of consumption. It doesn't really support our efforts to find meaningful work. Today, work is a means to consume or to pay debt for consumption already indulged in. How many people do you know who really love the work they are doing? How many feel bored and alienated? How many are simply earning the money to spond it on material pleasures?

Right livelihood demands that you take responsibility for making your work more meaningful. Good work is degnified. It develops your faculties and serves your community. It is a central human activity. Work, in this view:

* makes you honey with yourself,
* requires that you develop your faculties and skills,
* empowers you to do what you are really good at and love to do,
* connects you in a compassionate way with the outside world,
* supports the philosophy of non-destructiveness and sustainability, and
* integrates work with personal life and community.

In our time only artist have been given permission to look at work this way. So you might say you should consider your life a work of art. And whereas those who follow the way of the starving artist are expected to accept poverty as the price they pay, those who follow the way of right livelihood are not. Right livelihood gives material well-being a place, it simply does not put it on a pedestal. In right livelihood, material wealth is not the "bottom-line." The true goals of work are, rather, self-fulfillment and wisdom--and, ultimately, enlightenment.

Those who pursue right livelihood are neither in poverty nor strung out in an overextended cycle of material consumption for which work is simly a means. They do work that feels and is right for them, for their community, and for the planet.

Most people find that it takes years to make the transition from the mainstream to this new way of life. First you have to admit that you are responsible for your self-actualization. Then you have to make the journey. This can be a painful process--to let go of the old and familiar ways always is--but most people are very satisifed with the results.

Don't think you have to take this journey alone. In fact, it's terribly important that you look around and find people and groups who wupport the right livelihood way of life. Giving and getting support while trying to meet the challenges of learning a new way is key. And shartin gthe journey with others of like mind ensures tha tyou keep your motivation high.

You can start small, perhaps by recycling or using more public transit. As you gain experience and confidence you can begin planning larger steps such as a career change.

Most people find that it takes years to make the transistion and settle into this new way of life. But once they have embarked most people report increased feelings of self-esteem and well being. They feel good that they no longer wupport the damage that the industrial era has done to the planet and to people. They have found a positive, balanced alternative through right livelihood.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dairy and Soy Free Cookies. Yum yum

Anyone else out there dealing with food allergies in a small child, I feel your pain. My little one is too little to understand why she can eat the cookies with everyone else at Sunday School.  :o(  And it isn't that we didn't send a snack for her, it's that I didn't know they were having cookies, and apple sauce and a banana just don't cut it in comparison to cookies. So, time for me to make cookies that she can have since there don't seem to be any cookies in stores that she can have other than ones that contain peanuts!

I've modified a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe to come up with something yummy that everyone should be able to have (except for her Uncle Todd who happens to be allergic to almonds). 

Makes about 50 small cookies

½ cup         125 ml    Sugar
½ cup         125 ml    Brown sugar
1 cup          250 ml    Dairy and soy free margarine
¼ cup         50 ml      Almond milk (or other milk substitute)
1 teaspoon  5 ml        Vanilla
2¼ cups      550 ml    Flour
1¼ cups      300 ml    Dried fruit of your choice (we like dried cherries—but check that they haven’t been coated in soy oil)
1 teaspoon  5 ml        Baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

1.       Soak whatever dried fruit you plan on using in hot water.
2.       Cream margarine and sugars until light and fluffy (you can use a wooden spoon or a mixer).
3.       Slowly add the almond milk, mixing well, then add the vanilla.
4.       Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl then add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and stir to blend.
5.       Fold in the dried fruit.
6.       Drop by teaspoons on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets (If using stone-wear baking trays greasing or parchment-lining is not necessary).

Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.

I haven't looked at any brands of chocolate chips or bakers chocolate to see if there is a variety she can have. There certainly weren't any chocolate cookies on the shelf of the store that were dairy and soy free.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I killed the camera!

Well not really, but I have to deal with the fact that the card in it is completely full. Somehow I have to find time when my little girl is awake to download all the images/video on to my husband's computer so they can be deleted off the camera. So I am still showing, just can't do posts with pictures. . . yet. . . 

I'm also off on a permaculture/gardening kick. I have to have the planting plan submitted for my community garden plot this Friday, so a lot of my possible computer/sewing time is being spent on that. I'll have more to share with you soon!

In the meantime, if you are interested in permaculture at all and university lectures don't scare you off, nc state distance education has a set of twenty-nine 90 minute lectures the include topics such as soil ecology, vermicomposting, green architecture, etc. This of course excited me to no end. If you feel the same way check it out here:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Exciting news!

The sun isn't up, the snow is falling and I'm sitting here smiling. Why? Because I'm sitting here in my cozy alpaca socks and planning my garden plot!  :o)

I got the news yesterday, I was able to get a garden plot in one of my local community gardens. It made me smile. 

So now I'm off to You Grow Girl's post about the lazy gardener's seed starting chart (in excel--so it does all the math calculations for you) and to to find out when my local Seedy Saturday or Sunday (seed exchange focused on heritage varieties) is.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I LOVE treehouses!

There something you probably don't know about me. I LOVE treehouses! And I dream of one day having a low maintainance, environmentally friendly cottage.  

 This is a part of me that hasn't been reflected on my blog so far. Really all I've wrote about is sewing, food, and baby stuff. There is a lot more to me than that! I feel it is high time that I share more of this part of me. After all, I can't be the only person out there that has this dream can I?  

I've loved treehouses since I was little when Philip, Ashleigh and I built a really cool one all by ourselves. My room was the biggest and the floor was a discarded door. How could any 9 year old not think it was the coolest thing in the world?

Well, I'll be thirty this year, and I'm not afraid to admit that I want another treehouse. The one we built as kids is long gone and it is high time there were another in my life.  

The one I want to build is going to be a more adult version with things like a level floor and actual walls around the outside. I'm planning on doing a spiral staircase around the tree trunk and have a pulley system for carrying things up (like groceries and luggage). It will be in the neighbourhood of 550 square feet. We may put two small lofts in it for sleeping spaces. It will house a small kitchenette, a banquette, and some comfortable seating, and maybe a small wood-stove. On the outside I want to have a small screened in porch (4 1/2' x 10') with a few chairs hanging from the roof of the porch like swings.  

I have the tree picked out. Well, almost. . .
I'm having trouble deciding.  

Do I pick the lovely oak tree that is very conveniently located at the end of the driveway that is in a more sheltered area (it doesn't get a breeze in the summer and comes with a very populous mosquito population)? Or, do I go with the tree that you have to cross the river by boat to get to? The second tree is a lovely maple tree beside a very calming creek and has a lovely light breeze in the summer. 

I have to wait a couple of years before the necessary amount of money will be saved, so it isn't a decision I have to make today. But I really feel I need to settle on one or the other to get an action plan in place.  

Decisions, decisions! 

Regardless of how much I want to treehouse, I have to start with something a lot less glamourous. The dreaded outdoor bathroom.  

As I write this there is a broken chemical toilette sitting in a falling down structure the same size as an outhouse. Our current solution is to bush pee and for other business drive to the nearest town (10 minutes out). Clearly not an ideal solution, or a viable longterm one. Especially with a little one that we will need to start potty training at the end of summer! 

Eventually we want to be comfortably able to use the property on weekends during all four seasons. It's on a river, so it would be really cool to go skating there in the winter (as long as the ice is thick enough) and then make s'mores! That means having a winterized bathroom is ideal for us. 

The property is off the grid.  So just plugging in a small space heater isn't an option. I'm actually looking at using passive solar to heat it 90% of the time. It has to be built from scratch, so if we can adjust a few small things when constructing it and not have much in terms ongoing heating and cooling costs, why not? Especially when it only means increasing the cost of construction in the neighbourhood of 10%. That's a heck of a lot cheaper than ongoing fuel costs, especially with the way the cost of fuel just keeps increasing.

I just need to really focus and pick the right composting toilette. So don't be surprised if you hear more about them.

Friday, February 3, 2012

If you live in Ontario, you may be interested to know that we have a free service that allows us to connect with a dietian really, really easily. I'm not sure if other provinces have this or not.

Yesterday I phoned the toll-free number and was pleasantly surprised when I was talking to an actual human in less than two minutes! And a helpful human at that. She had loads of great information and I feel like I have more of an idea of what we're going to try as a milk alternative for my daughter. Although, it's possible she has grown out of her milk protein allergy at this point, so guess who gets to try a very small portion of milk this weekend if I can find the ear plugs (having a screaming child on your shoulder trying to sooth them makes the ear plugs necessary).

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

WIP Wednesday

What a week! My daughter became ill with that cold that has been travelling around and then the rest of us got it. No surprise there when you get a wet hand stuck in your mouth unexpectedly. Add a hospital trip for an eye swollen completely shut, a trip to the 'baby doctor' for a swollen belly, then an allergic reaction to the meds for said swollen eye (no surprise there), a ton of snuggling, and you have the last couple of days pretty much covered. Needless to say there wasn't a ton of sewing going on. However, I did manage to finish my daughters new sleep sack complete with zippers and snaps.

My brother's quilt hasn't progressed any further. But I did manage to try thread sketching for the first time prior to getting sick. I'm not 100% happy with the center of the poppy, but it's my own fault for not stopping and looking at an actual picture before stitching it. I used 2 layers of stabilizer since I knew I'd be putting so much thread in the center area.

I'm behind in following along with Leah Day's FMQ along. I don't want to just FMQ a sample piece, so I have to keep stopping and getting something I'm working on prepped to use. I get that a LOT of people are afraid of messing up their masterpiece. I've just decided that I know it's isn't going to be perfect and I don't want the waste of just doing practice. Not that the other way of thinking is wrong, it just isn't what works for me. 

I did manage to get half of my sister-in-laws table runner quilted during one really, really short nap. Thank you to the makers of Benadryl for putting sorbitol in the children's version of their medication, my daughter is hyped up and can't really sleep. 

Now a warning to everyone out there learning to FMQ. I'm really, really thankful that I wear glasses. Not quite sure what I did (probably had something to do with forgetting to switch needles), but I ended up shattering a needle and a very small piece landed in the corner of my eye. After a couple minutes of flushing my eye out, the problem was solved. However, I'm certain that if I wasn't wearing my glasses, a trip to the emergency room would have been necessary for me. I personally recommend wearing glasses while learning to FMQ on your own. Then again, I truly am one of those people who is an accident waiting to happen.

And last but not least. . . our daugher is turning one in a couple of weeks. Yay! Allergy testing can finally happen.  :oD  I'm super excited about this! I decided it would be nice to have a birthday banner made from outgrown sleepers and some scrap hot pink interlock. I used one of my new AccuQuilt dies to cut the triangles. I'm still trying to decide between ribbon or cotton binding as what I'll sew the triangles to. But I better decide soon, her birthday isn't going to wait for me to make up my mind.

Check out what everyone else is working on here:

the Needle and Thread Network

and here:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday

I still can't bring myself to do a full tally on what I'm working on. . . I have a strong feeling that the list is a little bit insane, so I'm avoiding that knowledge. I'm also avoiding starting a couple projects that are calling my name until I finish a couple things. 

I did some FMQ this past week and blogged about it on the post before this one, so I'm not going to talk about it here. But I realize that I have some other WIP progress I haven't shared here yet.

I have the quilting design for my Asian Bargello prepped.   :oD  The picture is the process I use for tracking out large scale designs on really, really cloudy dark days.
I'm super excited to get quilting this, but I really need to finish off my last couple Christmas gifts first. (Our TV isn't a plasma, it's glass so for those of you having a heart attack seeing this, it's OKAY. No TVs are being harmed in the making of my quilt.)

Speaking of which, this table runner for my sister-in-law is ready for quilting.
Don't mind Bella. She thinks the camera loves her and therefore she should be in all photos taken. I swear she sees the camera come out and comes running. It's quite comical to see. It's also the reason that I don't press prior to photo taking. I'd have been seriously annoyed if I had pressed it and then cat paws wrinkled it up again.

Then of course, My red piece. I thought M-R's idea of exploring colour this year was a great idea. To read more about it go here I don't know that I'll get a chance to follow along every month, but there is no harm in trying. This is where the piece is at right now. 
I still have to thread paint it, and I probably should have read a little bit more about the technique I was planning on using. I should have used something to control the bleeding. But it was a lot of fun and I think it will make a cute cover of a book or pencil case, or something.

Check out what other's in Canada are doing here:
the Needle and Thread Network

And the linky party on Lee's WIP Wednesday here:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

PS. I'm using flickr to upload my pics instead of blogger for the first time. It's sooooo much easier. Why didn't I try this before?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cat's and quilted items and a little bit of FMQ

What is it about cats and quilted items?

I've been learning to FMQ using Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project and decided to take some pictures this morning. The light filtering in was perfect. Well it turned into a bit of a cat photo shoot! 

This isn't the actual course of events. Really you could hear me saying things like, "Pia, stop blocking the light!", "Bella, you fatso catso get off! I'm trying to take a picture.", "Pia, do you have to lay on everything that's white prior to letting me take a picture?!?" Clearly they did have a bit of a fight over who's quilted item it was. Jokes on them though, it's for my daughter.

Anyway back to the original point of this post. 
I'm pretty happy with the advice Leah Day shares in weeks one and two on quilting. She's moved away from the little 4" blocks and decided to go back to the basics. If you want to see what advice she has to offer, check out here website here:
Free Motion Quilting Project

I, of course being me, didn't follow her instructions to a "T". But I did stop and listen to what she had to say and learned a lot. These are my results so far:

I know, I know. I was supposed to not cross over the lines I already made.
But I got bored and like crossing lines so I did it any way. 

My version of a worm. We sometimes call my daughter a "wiggle worm".
Needs some work, but was a lot of fun to quilt in.

A shot from the back so you can see the stitches.
Considering this is my first project with any type of actual FMQ. I'm pretty please with results. It's only up from here!

Where are all the cool knit fabrics?

Okay, I have a confession. I love knit fabrics!

They're comfortable, snuggley, don't fray when you cut them, and come in 100% cotton. Why do people hate them? What makes people afraid to sew with them? And where the heck do I find more selection of them?

There isn't a lot of fabric manufactures printing knit fabrics out there for the retail market. I know the fabric exists. Almost all of my daughters clothing is made from the stuff. Yet, when I go fabric shopping there isn't much out there. Patty Young seems to get it, maybe it's because she has two young girls and makes a lot of children's clothing patterns. 

Many people would recognize this:

or this:

But I want more! And I'm not willing to accept the polyester garbage. 

For now I'm focusing on projects with small pieces, so it's fine, I can re-purpose my daughters old clothing. But at some point, it would be nice to just purchase 100% cotton yardage.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Victoria and Albert Museum--super cool patchwork generator!

Have you tried the patchwork generator over at the Victoria and Albert Museum website? I've known about it for a while, but I was always trying to use images of actual people and was really unsatisfied with how unrealistic the result was. 

Well today it dawned on me that the patchwork Canadian flag quilt that I want to do would be the perfect project for trying out the patchwork generator!
What do you think? I always see Amercians making all kinds of quilts for the 4th of July. Maybe this is my year to make a Canada Day quilt?

I'll probably simplify it and only do the maple leaf as patchwork. Oh how I wish I had a bunch of red scraps to do this as a scrapy quilt! Hmmm...maybe I go rerun it with just the maple leaf. If anyone wants a copy of the pdf that they generate, let me know and I'll email it to you.

Edited to add:
Looks like this is my WIP post for this week. Check out what everyone is doing here:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
and here:
">the Needle and Thread Network

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday (mostly)

It's official! I'm back to work. Monday was my first day after being off for a full year. It's a bit of a shock to the system, but my daughter is taking it like a champ. . . and I get the most amazing hugs when I get home and see her. Not that I don't get hugs from her all day long when I'm home with her, but these are different hugs. The kind that come with the biggest smile you've ever seen and really have a way of warming the heart.

Now back to all things fabric. Do you remember when Lee of Freshly Pieced posted about her lego play mat? (If not, you can read about it here.)

Photo belongs to Lee of Freshly Pieced.
This is not my work, just the inspiration for what I am working on.

Well, I fell in love with the idea, but realized right away that I just didn't have the necessary skills with the rotary cutter to cut the angle pieces accurately. There was no way I was going to use scissors to cut it all. And I really didn't want to order a custom die that I may only use a few times (although I do have a lot of ideas how pieces like that could be used to make a reproduction of a quilt from the Infinity Quilt Show that was in New York some time ago).

Well, I want to make similar bags for my daughter, but with a lot less time invested. Anything that makes cleaning up and organizing easier is a good thing in my mind when little children are involved. But at the same time, I want my sewing time to be for me and what makes my creative juices flow.

So, I made an easy-peesy method out of knit fabric! It's my go to fabric when I don't want to deal with fraying edges.

I started by using a ruler as a compass to make a quarter circle.

Then after folding the fabric in quarters and cutting out the 1/4 circle

Then I cut holes spaced equally apart.

And then ran a matching ribbon through the holes, long enough to stay in while the 'play-mat' is laid out.
Now I plan on cutting out some funky flowers out of some knit fabric and stitching them to the outer edge. I was annoyed with the fact that it's really difficult to find a variety of 100% cotton knit fabrics. And then it dawned on me, clothing that my daughter wore out and isn't good enough to sell at a Mom-to-Mom sale is the perfect source for making flowers!
So my next step is to chop this up.

I'm also working on a blanket for a little new arrival, but I didn't do the letters on the blanket in a knit and they've already started to fray! No wonder I love my knit fabrics! Because the letters didn't start to fray until after I had put in the last stitch on the binding and now I need to cut out the woven cotton print without ruining it. :o(

What is everyone else up to? Check it out here:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

and here:

The Needle and Thread Network