04 February, 2016

Park Quilt Update

Up to 11 now. I want to make 25. I have a way to go...

The good thing is that these blocks don't actually take that long to make. I should time it, but I would say a few hours each from fabric selection, cutting, basting, and then stitching. So, not fast, but not really that slow either.

If I only made one more it would actually be a perfect lap quilt but I have this in mind as a potential wedding present down the line, for a couple that aren't even engaged yet! That's why I want it bigger, bed size.

Thankfully, I am not getting tired of appliqué at all.

Pattern: Park Quilt by Carolyn Friedlander

02 February, 2016

Hand Pieced Diamonds Ready for Layout

This is an old one!

I started these hand pieced diamonds back in 2011. Woah. For a few years it was my go-to hand project. Never a complaint about doing them at all. Then handwork fell to the side as my baby boy got bigger. Then I discovered appliqué. I'm sure I haven't sewn a stitch on this in at least 3 years.

In my recent clean-up of Quilts Under Construction I pulled these out for closer inspection. I even pressed them for the first time. Oy. There is a lot of mismatched seams. Oh well. And clearly I kept cutting them bigger because the more recent section does not match the original section at all. That's because I didn't use the same template throughout. I just grabbed a random diamond every time I needed to make more. Oh well.

Now I think it might be time to turn these into something. I did quite enjoy the hand piecing so I am going to continue with that. But first I have to decide on a layout.

Something like was my first instinct. That way it doesn't matter if the diamonds don't line up. Or maybe pull that small section out a bit further? And do something with those extra bits currently just pinned to the wall on the left.

Then I thought of doing something like this. Quite different. And now those extra bits could find a home. Or not.

I'll let them sit for a bit, but hopefully not five more years!

28 January, 2016

My Favourite Crafty Podcasts

When I'm in the sewing room I often like to have something on to listen to. Not watch, listen. If I'm watching something I get too distracted. A lot of the time it is music that I love, but when I have cutting or binding or something where I'm not using the machine too much I like to listen to podcasts.

There are a tonne of great podcasts out there, on all sorts of subjects. Of course, my go to ones are crafty! Here is a list of my favourite crafty podcasts.

Modern Sewciety
Stephanie Kendron hosts interviews with your favourite sewing celebrities. And I really like that you get to know a lot about her in the preambles to the show as well as the interviews.

American Patchwork and Quilting Radio
Pat Sloan is an icon in this industry. Her unabashed enthusiasm for all things quilting and sewing shines on the show.

Crafty Planner
Sandi Hazelwood's conversations with her guests are so thoughtful, yet it feels like a relaxed conversation. I always look forward to new episodes.

While She Naps
Abby Glassenberg covers far more than sewing in her podcast, but it is wonderful to get some different perspectives from similar industries.

Seamwork Radio
A tie in to the Seamwork magazine by Colette patterns, Seamwork Radio tackles storytelling in a very different way when it comes to sewers. It always has me thinking.

Slow Stitching
Mark Lipinski has been quite sick so there aren't any new episodes, but the archives are worth a listen. It is so inspirational, regardless of the stitch craft on the art and necessity of slowing down.

Jennifer Ackerman has a huge library of podcasts with crafting stars. It is about much more than sewing so I find continued inspiration among people I might never have encountered before.

What's Your Story
Meighan O'Toole is no longer recording shows, but definitely take a look at her archive. Some unexpected treasures in her interviews.

There are more podcasts out there, so if you listen to other ones, please share them in the comments. I would love to know what you listen to!

26 January, 2016

Sewing Machine Quilt Pattern Launch!

Announcing my latest pattern - The Sewing Machine Quilt!

This one was a long time coming. But it is finally here and I'm excited to share it with you. It includes:

- Improv and Precision Piecing instructions
- Two blocks sizes: 10'' and 20'' (finished)
- Quilt layout suggestions
- Fabric requirements for quilts from Mini to King

It is available in print and PDF. Contact me for wholesale orders.

This was the quilt that brought me out of a big creative slump. I was struggling to get going and find joy in my piecing, I was burnt out. A teaching gig came along and changed everything. It was an Improv class at Quilt Canada, a most traditional of shows. My students came with open minds and a spirit of adventure. They completely changed everything for me. At one point in the class I always have them throw out ideas for shapes we could piece improvisationally. Just like an improv comedy show! Someone suggested sewing machine. Yes, a sewing machine. I got so excited by the idea that the day I came home I think I made a half dozen of them. It was game on after that. I got excited to create again. 

If you would like some guidance with Improv or more on the thought process on a pattern like this check out my Creative Live classes on Improv Basics and Translating Inspiration.

With piecing options and all the directions to get you going any which way you like this pattern acts like a guide. It is a love letter to the main tool in our quilting arsenal. 

21 January, 2016

Storing Quilts Under Construction

When you have almost 40 quilts on the go you have to find a way to store them before they become quilts. And my sewing room is far too small to let them take over. And I am not one to thrive in a messy work space. So here are my storage solutions.

My cutting table was purchased with all the storage in mind. The top shelf contains bins with active projects. If I need to grab something or only have a few minutes to play this is where I go.

The bottom shelf contains all my scraps, colour sorted in bins - the pattern is the quilted storage box from Sunday Morning Quilts.

On the floor (usually tucked under the shelf) are plastic bins with class samples and other projects. I recently labelled them and this was an awesome move on my part. No more guessing!

In front there, but usually tucked to the side are some straw bag my mom once picked up on a trip to Acapulco. They are perfect for storing projects. Plus, they look cool and can be moved around the room as necessary.

I am lucky enough to have two full size closets in the room. One has my stash. The other has batting (all those messy scraps on the bottom right), garment sewing stash, my patterns (not visible) and then projects. On the top shelf there are the quilt tops (with their backs or fabric for backs) folded. I have no hanging space otherwise I would hang them. Then it is all projects sorted into piles - for bigger and more active ones, bags, and bins. I recently sorted through them all and this is actually quite neat and organized, even if it may not appear so.

One little spot in the closet holds some particularly small scraps and a stack of Liberty circles. I keep them front and centre just because they are pretty. And hopefully will motivate me to play with them a bit more.

It's a small room, but it is all mine! I've had to get disciplined about storage or else I would never actually get anything done. And now, no matter the mood nor the time, I have easy access to anything I could want to work on.

18 January, 2016

Flying Geese for Small Wonders

Between studio clean up, the holidays, and obsession to finish and not start things I've managed to not start in on much. I made an exception - finally - for my Small Wonders fabric. You may recall that I was sent this fabric around Quilt Market in October to play with. I made a plan and now I'm going for it.

By going for it, I mean experimenting. Based on the sketch below you can see I was aiming for some flying geese of varying sizes. I've played around with it and not done much in the way of planning.

(There comes a point where that approach can bite you in the butt, but hey! That's the joy of improv.)

Based on my sketch I picked five of the fabrics to work with and paired them with a pale blue Essex Linen. Then I drafted out and cut a few different sizes of rectangles. Just putting the rectangles on the design wall had me changing things. That's design on the fly!

At this point I'm realizing it isn't going to end up exactly like my sketch. My triangles are simply too big. There isn't going to be that much negative space. So be it. I will play a bit more and see what it can be.

See, improv doesn't just mean wonky and no measuring. This is precision piecing and I only started with a rough sketch. It is totally improvised because I really don't know what it will be in the end.

To see more about my process on this quilt make sure to follow along on Periscope. You can catch my previous scopes here on Katch.me.

12 January, 2016

2016 Goals

This year I've worked really hard on goal setting. It's taken a lot of reflection, letting go, focus, and reality checks. I went from hard core enthusiasm to awful pessimism in one day. Then back again. Not fun.

It's not a fine line between optimism and reality, it's a thick black one.

When I realized that it depressed me. I spent some days being awfully grumpy, ready to give up my professional work. Family first. But we all know I'm better, the family is better when I work, I was really struggling to see how I could be happy in both my business and my family life. But then MY reality showed through.

First, I spent some time talking with other professional quilty friends. They calmed me down, reminded me that I'm not the only one struggling with this, and encouraged me to still set high goals. They all agreed that the goals should be very specific. I've done that in the past, but I drilled down even more this year.

Second, I delivered a trunk show. Now, I give about 10-15 trunk shows a year. I absolutely love trunk shows. Not because I get to share my quilts and stories, but because I see audience reactions and talk to people about inspiration. It's amazing to know you inspire people to try new things.

To get to this trunk show last week I worked with my husband to get the kids to school. I turned to a friend with a day home to watch my boy. And no one got upset or cranky about it. We worked together to make it happen. Totally doable. A good reminder.

Third, I read this post from Anne Weil. And boom, it made me see that what I was doing was focusing on the hard stuff, the things I didn't do. Nowhere in there was I paying attention to the things I did accomplish and can do quite well. Talk about a glass half empty approach.

So I took my dog for a walk on a sunny winter day and found some clarity. With a bit more work I have 2016 goals. This year I broke them into categories and made them pretty specific.


1 Secure contract and write 4th quilting book.
2 Finish and launch new website and blog.
3 Teach at least one 3-day workshop.
4 Sell more local classes, potentially self hosted.


1 Try climbing and Crossfit and maybe Muay Thai again.
2 Leash train our dog, Roo.
3 Remember and celebrate friends' birthdays.
4 Relearn bread making.


1 Learn to English Paper Piece.
2 Finish 10 quilts from the Quilts Under Construction List.
3 Keep a weekly writing date.
4 Label all the quilts.

To get all this done I'm taking the advice from a few people about creating monthly breakdowns of the tasks that will get me to these goals. This Master List will keep me more accountable to myself and help me stay on track.

And in all of this I need to keep room for new adventures and possibilities!