Am not much of a shopper (fabric excluded!) but when an additional 40% off clearance prices email from your favourite shoe store lands in your inbox it is really hard to not go to the site "just to have a look". I could not resist these shoes which are perfect for a sewist. Look at that stitching and those tiny little red scissors?!! Sold...
Sunday, August 17, 2014
It may seem odd to visit a re-creation of a Canadian 18th century pioneer village to buy modern African fabric but that's what I did yesterday. "Quilts at the Creek" is an annual show rather like the "Sisters" show where hundreds of quilts are hung in a beautiful setting called Black Creek Pioneer Village. Unfortunately, rain set in so most of the quilts not sheltered were being quickly taken down before we could see them. I did manage to get a shot of the quilt above made by Valerie Prideaux. It was sewn with Cherrywood Hand Dyes and was positively luminous in the grey light.
Pioneer woman who devastated M. by telling him there were no baked goods to sample from the bread oven...
Lastly, the Shweshwe fabric. This African fabric is created through a discharge and printed roller technique. It is similar to Balinese batiks but much finer in detail. I have some in the traditional blue and white indigo but thought you might find the green and black interesting. It is apparently called "the denim of South Africa" due to its long-standing popularity. I bought it from this lovely vendor. We are on the move again here and there for the next couple of weeks so expect even fewer sewing posts but hopefully more fabric purchases ones:) Hope everyone is having a great summer (or winter- hello Australia)!
Saturday, August 9, 2014
This antique sampler quilt is from the late 1800's. The seller suggests that the fabrics have probably faded with age but the present color combination looks very modern. I've been thinking of making a sampler quilt in the hopes that the variety of blocks keeps things interesting: that is, when I get my sewing room tables back after several large pieces of furniture painted by my other half dry. This kind of friendly takeover is the danger of having the largest flat surfaces in the house. Have you ever made a sampler quilt? Did you use a pattern? Re-create an antique like this quilt? Am thinking of choosing blocks that are symbolic of events in our lives... Thoughts?
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Current obsession is this vintage quilt from Granny Loz in Australia that I first caught a glimpse of at FMQ goddess Karen's blog. Actually I owe another Karen thanks for sending me there. Am determined to learn to free motion on a domestic machine and have been wanting to make a hexagon quilt. That blog is the perfect intersection of these two desires. Her skill set is extraordinary and I'm avidly reading all her tutorials and planning on going through the archives too. Between Faeries and Fibres, Leah Day's Youtube channel, Diane Gaudynski's classic book and at least 15 minutes a day hopefully I'll pick up a few skills of my own. In the mean time, isn't this quilt a beauty?! Love the colors, the fussy cutting and the shape of the lozenges...
Thursday, July 24, 2014
This has to be the weirdest marketing stategy. This is the label from the women's gardening gloves I just bought. Macho or what? Am not sure if I'm supposed to be weeding flower beds or on on some paramilitary special ops mission.
It seems symbolic as I've been at war with the manufacturer of my overpriced and over-engineered sewing machine. After months at headquarters it still couldn't sew a balanced stitch. It was very emotional as I've been loyal to the brand since I started sewing. My dealer is amazing. Even though he didn't sell me this machine he was so upset on my behalf he offered to trade it on the spot for no additional $$$. Have come home with a different brand a new Janome 8900 with a table and every optional accessory imaginable. Little time to sew but so far I love it. Between this and the portable Juki I am set up for life...
Hope all your sewing adventures have been peaceful!
Friday, July 11, 2014
I had a long list of grown up things to do this afternoon but decided to do some sewing instead and work on the quilt from the previous post. These disappearing hourglass blocks are still really fun to make. Maybe I am easily entertained but it still seems like magic when the pieces are rotated and the stars appear.
Am finding that the bias edges work in your favor as you can gently manipulate the fabric so that the seams nest without using pins at all. Except for the hourglass stage, there is no iron pressing either until the block is complete to avoid unnecessary handling which is saving a ton of time. The blocks are turning out remarkably similar in size. If they are off in any way they are off identically.
Sorry about the lousy photo but the camera phone was again closer. The lighting is not so great either. I'm experimenting with these new florescent floods in the hopes of reducing my electricity use but they create more of a spotlight effect compared to the wider glow of halogen bulbs. Not sure whether economy is going to win out on this one...
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Sometimes you need to make a quilt quickly for someone who won't appreciate your more improvisational efforts. Recently I found this pattern called "The Disappearing Hourglass" by the Missouri Star Quilt Company on Youtube. It was designed to use pre-cut layer cakes but you can use any size square. You need equal amounts of a solid or very tiny print and whatever prints you want to feature. I used some Kaffe Fassett fabrics and a blu-ish Kona grey which looks much darker in these not-so-great camera photos. The blocks are so easy to make and the process is really fun.
Take 2 squares in my case the solid and a print. Layer them and sew a ¼" around the edge:
Then cut them corner to corner:
Open up, press, arrange and sew together to create an hourglass block:
This is where it gets interesting. Cut the block in thirds. Mine measured 12 ¾" so my cuts were at 4 ¼" but yours will vary depending on the size of your initial squares. Cut from the center seams out:
By rotating the pieces, a star is born!
There are lots of bias seams but with a good dose of Best Press or starch at the start there are no problems assembling these stars.
In the original quilt the blocks are set straight but I'm leaning towards putting mine on point.
I'm always amazed by the engineering abilities of quilters. Thank you MSQC...
Friday, July 4, 2014
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Friday, June 27, 2014
I try to keep the personal and particularly the negative personal off the blog but we have a sick (thankfully now relatively stable) family member who lives far away necessitating travel and life has been stressful. My brilliant but temperamental sewing machine is at the manufacturer's headquarters being overhauled with no return date in sight so I haven't been able to sew. Never realized how much I manage pressure by making things until now. Every time I'm worried my husband always suggests going to my studio to create something. It is a rare man who asks you to go out and buy an extra new sewing machine but mine did...
I decided to get the most pared down machine as close to being mechanical as possible with the longest throat I could find for similar reasons better articulated by Jacquie Gering in this post. At a fantastic price, I ended up buying a Juki 2010Q. So far, the whole experience is a love story. First impressions are that the stitch quality is perfect straight out of the box. It is also easy and straightforward to adjust upper and bobbin tensions as well as foot pressure. It is also nice to have a presser foot lever again as my most recent sewing machine does not. I love the simplicity of it. What few bells it has are good ones. They include an automatic thread cutter, sewing speed control, needle down, knee lifter and every foot including walking that a quilter or tailor could need. It is also semi-industrial which means it is solid but portable for workshops.
With no fiddling, I've been able to sew well mindlessly. The only problem I am having is that pressing the heel of the pedal on this machine cuts the thread as opposed to raising or lowering the needle as on my other one. I also can't figure out how to use the needle threader but the same issues arise assembling IKEA products from their diagrams so this is my problem. While I miss my regular machine and many of its innovations, am enjoying the reliability and lack of drama with this Juki- Absolutely love it!
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
It is always exciting to discover that one of your favorite quilters has written a book. Sujata Shah is an American artist who hails from India the country where legend Diana Vreeland famously declared that "pink is the navy blue" in reference to the people's love of color. Sujata's book is called "Cultural Fusion" and is available for pre-order. If you have never seen her quilts stop reading this and go immediately to her blog. Whether improvisationally pieced or derived from more traditional blocks her work is always a playful and exciting mix of vibrant hues and prints. I expect her book will contain more of this wonderful same and I can't wait to see it!
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
This is the longest I haven't sewn a stitch in as long as I can remember. This sad occurrence is due to other commitments capped off my my sewing machine's admission to the hospital. So thanks to some tips from quilty friends, I wanted to write about the Denver Art Museum which is exhibiting some of the most beautiful quilts in their collection. This gorgeous one is from Lancaster Pennsylvania and is dated to the late 1800's. The second was made by an unknown quilter in the same time period. It would be great to see all of the works in person but there is an exhibition catalog...
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Well I'm almost finished sewing the wedges for my vintage spin quilt from Kathy Doughty's latest book "Adding Layers". Am aiming for a sort of 70's thrift shop feel by mixing shirting fabrics with some modern prints. The only wrinkle is that I am chickening out when it comes to cutting the circles down to squares. Won't be near a sewing machine in a few weeks so I'd better "woman up" and get it done!
Friday, May 9, 2014
Don't know whether it is due to some sort of spring madness or giddiness over the end of winter but I've joined Pink Castle Fabrics Kawaii Fabric Club. Here is the dictionary definition of Kawaii:
"Kawaii, ("lovable", "cute", or "adorable") is the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture. It has become a prominent aspect of Japanese popular culture, entertainment, clothing, food, toys, personal appearance, behavior, and mannerisms. The noun is kawaisa ("lovability", "cuteness" or "adorableness").
The term kawaii has taken on the secondary meanings of "cool","groovy", "acceptable", "desirable", "charming", "non-threatening", and "innocence". "
These Japanese novelty prints are crazily charming. Because of their tiny scale you get lots of imagery in a small amount of fabric. They make me smile...
Who can resist a squirrel talking to a bear print?
or slightly psychedelic bunnies?
or fingertip-sized multi-colored hedgehogs among others?!
Could pink hair be next?
Friday, May 2, 2014
Anyone who has ever sewn a wonky anything owes a great deal to Gwen Marston: a seer-like elder of modern quilting. Evolving from a traditional quilting background, she is one of the pioneers of improvisation. Her process is to make quilts without patterns intuitively and that by definition are personal and unique.
Her latest book is called "Minimal Quilting" and it owes more to modern art than craft. These minimal quilts are influenced by visual artists such as Albers, Rothko and Klee among others rather than conventional textile traditions. With each progression in her career, GW's work gets more and more abstract. The designs are about as stripped down as possible without becoming wholecloths yet are subtle and beautiful in their austerity. It is a fascinating read...
Thursday, April 24, 2014
I purchase few quilts as the whole point of all this fabric acquisition is supposed to be to make my own but am thrilled that I am now the proud owner of a Caohagan quilt. Caohagan is a tiny island in the Philippines owned by Katsuhiko Sakiyama. Junko, his wife, taught 120 of the 500 islanders how to quilt so that they could sell their work offshore to improve their education, housing and general standard of living. This cottage industry now represents about a third of the people's income.
I first read about these bright and charming quilts in Patchwork Japan and Quilts Japan over a decade ago. At the time, I wrote a letter with the help of a Japanese friend to try and purchase a quilt but never heard back. I have no idea whether the letter even reached its destination. Since further articles about Caohagan have been written in western magazines (such as in Quiltmania #78) and the quilts exhibited at some of the AQS shows in 2013 am so excited to say that there is now a website where you can easily purchase one of these works online. I always assumed because the quilts previously were sold to Japan that they would be crazily expensive but that is not the case. I received ours within a week of ordering and am completely and hopelessly in love with it...
The islanders make their quilts out of mostly donated fabric. Their work is filled with rich imagery of island life. The quilts are bright and fantastically cheerful. Here are some detail shots...
Our quilt is filled with birds, flowers and animals...
Also, the maker sent the most charming letter with the quilt which is very touching...
Thursday, April 10, 2014
While busy sewing the test quilt that I wrote about here, some very enticing things arrived in the mail. I forced myself to put Material Obsession Kathy Doughty's new book aside until I could look at it properly. Like all her others, it is filled with innovative designs and creative mixes of fabrics. The way she talks about her process and suggests ways to develop and expand upon your own is particularly interesting. After my recent improv experience, using a ruler or template seemed kind of unappealing until I saw "Vintage Spin".
It is an intriguing pattern with lots of movement and already beautiful versions are popping up everywhere. Kathy challenges her readers to stop collecting fabric and start using it especially older prints that may have been sitting on a shelf for years. I have a huge collection of check shirtings purchased and thrifted ages ago with the intention of making shirts for M. I decided to combine some of them with a Joel Dewberry fat quarter bundle.
For "Vintage Spin", you sew wedges into circles and then cut them down to square blocks. This is my first one. Mine differs from the original in that my wedge is a different angle so there are 4 extra blades. This technique produces a fair bit of waste so you must check out the most amazing blocks Wanda made with her leftovers. This is a fun design and making the blocks could become pretty addictive...
Lastly, am so excited to shyly write that my improv quilt was picked as a potential contribution to Sherri Lynn Wood's "The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters"! It was shipped to the photographer on Monday. I don't want to jinx myself as it could end up on whatever the publishing equivalent is of the cutting room floor but have fingers crossed and am smiling euphorically.