30 January, 2013

Quick Question

If you are taking a class on technique, would you rather have the teacher run through multiple ways of doing the same thing or focus on the way he/she thinks works best?

28 January, 2013

New Leaf Block and Blog Hop

Welcome to my stop on the New Leaf Blog Hop. What is New Leaf, you ask? This is the fantastic new line from Jan DiCintio at Daisy Janie. Bright, warm, saturated colours printed on 100% certified GOTS Organic certified fabric. All gorgeous.

I've been blown away by Jan and the rest of the organic fabric designers. Not only are they committed to sourcing and then supplying us quilters and sewists with a product that is more sustainable, they are showcasing beautiful fabric. It is rather like the organic food movement - it isn't just about hemp hearts and granola, but now a colourful array of vegetables and fruits that are readily available.

My previous professional life was focused on environmental issues, climate change and energy efficiency specifically. That background is a part of me and the lessons learned then do translate to what I do now. One of those ways is with the choice for organic fabric. Do I exclusively buy organic fabric? Not yet, but I've been blown away by the designs coming from the organic manufacturers so that day may not be far off.

I believe that every time you make the committed choice for certified organic you are doing a good thing. For the manufacturer, for yourself, for the people working with the fabric, for the recipient of the quilt. It may not be every time you buy fabric, but all movements start with one step. Besides, the fabric is gorgeous!

For this block Jan asked us to be inspired by the concept of Renewal, of Turning Over a New Leaf. Here are my back of the envelope sketches. Like many others on the blog hop, I really wanted to showcase that one large scale print. I had an image of the world unfurling in my head, writ more graphic.

So, I fussy cut from both the large-scale prints and cut the rest into strips. I also made myself the oh-so-fancy paper templates. First I measured how large the center square needed to be, based on the fabric itself. Then I drew the corner templates to get up to a finished size of 12'' by 12''. 

At this point I could have done this by paper piecing, or using a muslin foundation. Both would work quite well. I chose to minimize the amount of materials used and stuck with sewing then trimming to my scrap paper template.

Four corner blocks and a fussy cut center ready to go. Yes, there are Y-seams ahead.

I sewed each side to the center square, making sure to mark and stop at the 1/4'' mark. Then I removed the block from the machine and rejigged the block to sew the short seam from the center out. Scary, on paper, but not that difficult if you slow down.

You can see the finished block is a combination of improv with the random strip piecing and precision with that inset block. The fabric soft and no different to work with than the quilting cottons you may be used to. I do hope it works well with the rest of the blocks Jan receives.

Speaking of the other blocks, this is a blog hop, so make sure you check out all the other stops. So many great ideas for showcasing this gorgeous fabric.

New Leaf Bee Block Blog Hop Schedule

Mon, 1/14 - Becky Moyer, My Fabric Obsession
Tues, 1/15 - Lynn Harris, The Little Red Hen
Wed, 1/16 - Candy Glendening, Candied Fabrics
Thurs, 1/17 - Holly DeGroot, Bijou Lovely
Fri, 1/18 - Melanie Thornton, Melanie Dramatic

Mon, 1/21 - Emily Cier, Carolina Patchworks
Tues, 1/22 - Rachael Gander, Imagine Gnats
Wed, 1/23 - Maureen Cracknell, Maureen Cracknell Handmade
Thurs, 1/24 - Leanne, She Can Quilt
Fri, 1/25 - Cindy Wiens, Live a Colorful Life

Mon 1/28 - Cheryl Arkison, Dining Room Empire
Tues, 1/29 - Jacquie Gering, Tallgrass Prairie Studio
Wed, 1/30 - Shanna Bailey, Fiber of All Sorts
Thurs, 1/31 - Katy Jones, Monkey Do

At each stop on the tour there is a secret letter. Gather all your secret letters For a chance to win a Fat Quarter bundle of New Leaf.

The secret letter today is O.

Visit all the stops on the blog hop, gather the letters, then unscramble the letters to make a word that relates to the inspirational theme of the tour. Email your answer to info {at} daisyjanie {dot} com  for a chance to win.

Thanks for coming by. I do hope you will be inspired.

27 January, 2013

Creative Thursday (Weekend Reads)

A book with with pretty and cute, as well as some gentle kicks in the butt and encouragement for living a creative life. A short and sweet summary of Creative Thursday: Everyday Inspiration to Grow Your Creative Practice by Marisa Anne.

It's no secret that I've been a big fan of Marisa's for years. I've taken her on-line classes, participated in a creative community she led, and even created works inspired by her own. She's also been a big supporter of mine, sending me fabric treats and lovely prints when I order other ones. I'll be honest, I'm surprised I like her work so much. I don't generally go for cute and sweet, it just isn't my thing. But Marisa, and her work, radiate happiness. Positivity isn't something I instinctively grasp, but it is impossible not to smile when you see her work. I imagine it is the same thing when you meet her in person.

This is gushing, I realize that. but I do have to give Marisa credit for reminding me that happiness is sometimes a choice. It really is and choosing happiness makes a world of difference in getting through life.

Marisa's book is also about choosing creativity, about the active decision to live with creativity as a daily part of your day. Personally, this isn't a problem for me these days. I know that I thrive when I get the chance to write, sew, doodle, play with fabric, colour, and daydream. But it took me a long time to realize that I needed it as much as I did, longer yet to make the time for it. For people just beginning that journey Marisa walks them through it. No, she walks beside you, as if she's got a lollipop in hand and having the conversation right with you. All the way from intentions, resistance, to habit formation.

For people like me who feel very comfortable in their creative existence the book is still full of ideas for enhancing your practice as well as good notes on the doubts and conflicts we come across. The discussions about resistance we create and face, as well as the ever present comparison and competition issues are great. For me they are great starts to a discussion I know I could dig into with many a colleague and friend.

My biggest complaint about the book is her publisher's insistence on putting their website on nearly page. It's rather distracting.

This is Marisa's book, so the artwork is all hers and it truly is a reflection of her creativity practice. Don't expect a more general outlook on creativity. If you aren't already a fan of her work, you will be. It's hard not to get captured by her energy.

Note: I purchased this book myself.

23 January, 2013

Studio Update

There are so many times in the last year where I've wanted to write this post and say that it was all done, I'm in, things are sort of settled, but there are so many details to be finished. You'll see. Not to mention the rest of the house.

To be honest, I think my Hubby worked hard to get me in here so I have some peace while chaos still reigns in the rest of the house. He does like his marriage, after all.

Here are some of the previous states...
Just a chair - when I thought I would be sewing soon. Ha!
Prepping for carpet  - doorway before.
Putting in windows - which let in a tremendous amount of light that make this a glorious space to be in.
Before - well and truly it is hard to believe this sat where my sewing table now sits.

Now? Well now I can sew in here... write... drink tea with friends... play around on my design wall... entertain the tiny, crazy visitors that never leave me alone... hide in the early mornings and not wake up anyone with my sewing... host guests on a rather comfy - albeit firm - flip sofa covered in quilts... and remind myself daily that hard work and patience do really pay off.

 Design wall going up.

Doors leading in.

The Evil Genius created a lair.

A built-in bookshelf to be.

My jars now live on the floor, for full access by little hands.

I started sewing standing up before the real table was in and haven't moved yet.

Guest bed, dreaming spot.

A little girl has been here. (And, my windows need to be cleaned and that drain hose moved come spring.)

These will be part of the inspiration wall.

My new favourite spot, surrounded by love, peace, and colour.

21 January, 2013

Had To

It had been weeks since I sewed. All invigorated from vacation and bursting with inspiration and one of those pesky ideas that just won't go away I had to get in my sewing room and sew. With just a cutting table and a couch I piled, cut, and started sewing. A few days later I had a sewing table and a design wall and three helpers constantly underfoot.

More on the sewing room next time.

For now, let's focus on my current obsession. An obsession it is. A million WIPS to finish, looming deadlines for articles, quilts, and more, and a house that still hasn't fully recovered from the holiday season. All of it thrown aside to work on this quilt.

It started with the Architextures line, a wonderful fat quarter bundle that Carolyn Friedlander herself sent me herself (she is such an awesome friend!) I had a concept in my head for some text letters too. Instead of using the whole line I decided to focus on a few specific colours: pink, navy, and orange.

A note on the colour focus. It wasn't until I was putting away our vacation laundry that I realized why I focused on these colours. Those were the colours I also packed for the trip. Seriously, all my clothes were navy, pink, or coral with neutrals thrown in. Funny.

So I shopped my stash for more low volume prints and a few darks. Then the rotary cutter came out and I started to hack it all up. This is both the terrifying and exciting part. I LOVE this line of fabric and it would be easy to hoard it. But I was giddy with my idea and wanted to get going.

And go I did. In between school pick-ups, swim lessons, play dates, construction, and interruptions I managed to get some letters pieced. And then some!

19 January, 2013

Touch and Talk (Visit Your Local Quilt Store Day Blog Tour)

Quilting is a tactile art. No matter how pretty something looks from afar, when you are cuddled with a quilt on the couch it needs to feel good wrapped around you.

Likewise, fabric needs to respond to your touch when you are cutting, sewing, pressing. Some fabrics are softer, drape more, or are even silky between your fingers. And those are just the quilting cottons! Quilt batting varies in drape and feel too. From brand to brand and between fiber content. Then you add the quilting and a new dimension of texture emerges. Not just texture you see, but something that rubs and nubs under your fingers and over your legs when the quilt covers you.

This tactile experience begins right when you buy the fabric. Standing the store, too many bolts piled under your arm. Picked for their colours, but when you start editing and dreaming you start to feel the fabric. Some will get discarded because they are too stiff and you aren't sure how much that will wash out. Some will seem too flimsy, seemingly ready to fall apart with a pull on a seam.

This tangible beginning to a quilt is only possible in a quilt store. (With no offense to the wonderful on-line fabric retailers out there.)

Just as quilting is tactile, it is also social. Blogs and more are wonderful for connecting quilters across the world. And for many in rural or remote locations, those surrounded by kids more than quilters, or sewists living in a world of athletes the internet is a fabulous thing indeed. I love my connections that started here. But I do quite enjoy getting into a store and chit chatting as I pull fabric. From the store gossip to the latest fabrics not quite put on the floor, building a relationship with the owners and employees builds more than a retailer relationship. Quilters are drawn together and are tied by a bond only cut by rotary cutter.

As confident as I feel in my choices, a second opinion is always good. It is a challenge to my own sensibilities at times, but always welcome. When shopping in the store it is wonderful to hear and see what someone else might do with that particular fabric. And I'll be the first to admit that there are a lot of good ideas out there, and they might indeed be better than mine.

I must admit that when I was a beginner I heavily relied on the local stores to guide me through challenges I was having. Bring in a WIP and nearly anyone in the store (employee or another customer) is almost always willing to offer insight, opinion, and a little lesson. And usually lots of laughs! Now, if you run into me in a store and you are looking for an opinion you can count on me to offer it, even if you didn't ask me!

Geez, now I really want to go visit my LQS, or the 5 that I am lucky enough to have within 15 minutes of me...

Traditional Pastimes
My Sewing Room
Out of Hand
Along Came Quilting
A Sewing Sensation

And on January 24th I encourage you to get and shop your LQS, wherever you may be. Load up the kids and make it a day trip if need be. Support Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day!

See more blog posts on the Visit Your Local Quilt Shop Day Tour. A whole host of wonderful quilters are there extolling the virtues of their local shops. Between now and January 24th you can add your post too! I'd love to see where you all shop! There is even a photo contest with some great prizes.

See you at the store, fabric in hand. I promise a chat and a extra bolt of fabric in your pile.

18 January, 2013

Friday Favourites: Black Books

I cannot live without these two black books. They travel with me (both fit in my purse), they take up precious counter space, they define the days of my life.

Coil Bound Sketchbook 
Over the years I've learned that I am much better if I have only one notebook. At one point I had one for quilt sketches, one for article notes and interviews, one for doodles, and one just for my purse. It became a giant pain in the butt to keep track of their locations at any given time and to search for an idea I had that one time. Now I keep one book only, this one. It holds all my ideas for quilts, articles, books, home renos... All in one place.

Moleskine Weekly Planner
Sure, I've had a smart phone for years. When I worked full-time I lived by my linked phone and Outlook calendar. But to manage the home life, the phone messages, the to-do lists, knowing Hubby's out-of-town schedule, birthdays and more I came to rely more and more on a paper calendar. For the past few years this trusty Moleskine has been the repository of the written details of our lives. I love the weekly planner that has a calendar dates on one side and a blank page for notes facing it. Perfect for capturing everything, including my blog schedule!

Put these two black books together and you have me. I don't keep a journal, but the collection of these two books will tell you more about me than any diary with a key.

16 January, 2013

Capturing Inspiration

Just because I was on vacation, it doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about quilts. 

Confession: I brought some hand sewing with me, but it never left the bag.

When you are open to it, inspiration is everywhere. Even my daughters were getting in on it. They pointed out textures and colours that would make a good quilt. 

I try to capture all inspiration one way or another when I see something interesting. Sometimes I sketch it out. Just a rough doodle and a few notes. I put date and location on the sketch that act as a trigger for my memory. Quite often I take a picture. It doesn't have to be a perfect picture, if the colour is what matters then who cares if the focus isn't perfect. My cell phone - which does not have a good camera on it - is filled with images that serve as inspiration scrap book.

It is pretty much impossible that I will make all the quilts that these inspiration images conjure, but it is nice to have a bank of concepts. You never know when the right fabric will appear for one idea, or you need a quick quilt and can't decide what to make. Then there are the times where you just HAVE to make something because the inspiration is too strong. I don't know anything about that...

Here are the images from my trip that may or may not get translated into a quilt one day.

Texture, all about texture.

Colour and stripes! Plus that age and fraying.

Light and texture. This is the sun through my hat.

My daughter loved the woven effect of this palm. Me too.


Energy and colour contrasts.

This may be the start of a mild pink and white colour obsession.

Shape and line.

Curves. Simplicity.

14 January, 2013


There is that expression about not knowing what you've got until it's gone. Turns out I didn't know I needed a vacation until I had one.