Friday, August 18, 2017

Allspice

Not to be outdone by Sandy, Jane had a finish of her own when she and Betty and Sandy were together. She's been working on a gorgeous quilt that she and I designed back in the spring and put the finishing stitches on it two weekends ago. I've been calling it Allspice but apparently Betty has been referring to it as her Jacobean quilt.











When  she was here in the spring she had most of the blocks for the strips finished.
















The fabrics are just stunning and when they all came together, even more so.














Here's a closer looks at the different colours used for the narrow strips that run through it. The brown paisley is a print that I had in my stash - love it.













This quilt got Jane through the challenge of this spring's major flooding. Her cottage was under siege from the spring rains the likes of which we had never seen before and was saved from the brink by a small army of volunteers who worked tirelessly for six weeks, not the least of which was her sister Linda. When she had a break she would sit down with her stitching and pray for the best.

Jane has gifted Allspice to Linda as a thank you for all of her support throughout the ordeal, which is beautiful gesture (sisters are the best!). Apparently Roberta will be quilting it and I am so looking forward to seeing the finished product....M

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Quilts In The Garden

Sandy, Jane and Betty were together again recently and Sandy brought a wonderful stack of quilts to show the gals. Thankfully, they took lots of pics in the garden so that I could share her work with you.

To say that she is prolific would be an understatement. Here is the first of three quilts that she finished this year and another two that are in the works.








Sandy also provided some info on the quilts, so here they are, in her words:
"I decided it was time to get my machine out, and do the whole process. This my first attempt (at machine quilting), and I learned a lot ... first, and foremost ... fill a whole bunch of bobbins! Thankfully, this isn't a big quilt, as there's quite a learning process with rolling, pinning, flattening ... swearing!

The walking foot worked very well ... once I finally decided to just guide the fabric, and let it do it's thing.  Being anal, it was freeing to give myself permission to not worry about straight lines, or equal spacing! (Next up is the free motion foot ... 😳).

And this one is made with the leftovers from the first jelly roll, and leftovers from other projects. I'm stunned when I see the tiny piecing you do. On this one, I learned the benefits of spray adhesive!

Betty educated me on soaking quilts, so I look forward to washing these, and hopefully seeing a lot of puckering.








I finished this one with mixed feelings ... excited to see it done, but sad, as the fabric's so soft and buttery to stitch. I found this Moda fat quarter bundle in a beautiful quilt shop in Jordan Station ... and, I loved that it reminds me of my Grandma's house.  

I cut and laid out the pattern before we went to Cozumel and then spent our lazy days under the palm trees stitching it together. It's amazing how many quilters gather to chat when they see a pile of squares! (QuiltBee note to self: book a trip to Cozumel...)




These next two are under way. This one is inspired by a quilt I saw on your blog ... I loved the freshness of it! Many of the patterned fabrics I purchased in a shop on Cozumel, so it seemed only fitting to put it together under the palm trees. I've sandwiched it with a thicker batting, and I think I might just stitch in the ditch ... hopefully to make the triangles nice and puffy.  









My hubby - the Minion fanatic! - found this perfect fabric, and asked me to make him a throw for his "man cave" Lazyboy.  














Just what every 72 year old needs!

I'm excited to get a new project started. It's just soooo hard to decide what it should be ... too many ideas!"

What an amazing trunk show Sandy. You'd never guess that you've been quilting for such a short time - they are all beautiful, and I have it on very good authority, perfectly stitched. We're looking forward to what you dive into next. Thanks so much for sharing!....M





Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tough Love

It's always interesting for me to learn how people came to be quilters. Our good friend Martin started quilting some time after Jane did and has made several beautiful quilts. Betty recently laundered one of them so it got us chatting about how he got started. Jane was the motivator behind that so, here, in her words, is how it went down.











"He was looking through magazines one day at the cottage and comes upon a photo of a quilt on a bed. He says to me, "That's the quilt I'd like you to make for me." I look at it and say, "I would be so bored doing that quilt because it is just big squares put together. If you want that quilt, then you are going to have to make it yourself!" And he replies, "Okay, then I WILL make it myself!"








When he went back to Toronto he went shopping for the fabrics, bought a sewing machine and signed up for a course on how to machine quilt. Within the year he had made the quilt and quilted it. That was about 8 or 9 years ago, and he has since made about six more quilts. I'm proud to have refused his request, because it spurred him on to prove to me that he could make his own quilt."








Appropriately, it's made of a beautiful collection of shirting fabrics (Martin is a clothes horse with amazing taste). He's working abroad right now so the quilt gets to live at Jane's cottage, which isn't a bad deal at all. They also happen to be perfect sand and sea colours for the lake.










Looks like she might have a tussle with Baylea to get it back though...

And since we're talking about Jane, she is just a fountain of knowledge. She sent me these Pinterest words of wisdom a while ago: 'Dinosaurs didn't sew, now they are extinct. Coincidence?' Something to think about 😉....M

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Back of the House - A How To

A lot of you seem to be as taken with my little 6" Crown of Thorns blocks as I am. Not hard when they are that small and that cute! I've had a question about how to get accurate joins, so I thought I'd share a few pics with my method, if you are interested in trying it out.












Start with accurately trimmed HSTs - all diagonal seams to the dark side - four light squares and four green squares, and lay out your block.













Sew the blocks in rows using a scant 1/4" seam allowance.













Starting with the light centre block of the centre row, press both seams out to the dark side, alternating the press directions as you go. The next two outer seams will be pressed inward. Some people use spray starch to help things stay in place but I just use a little steam in my iron.












Sew the remaining rows together, alternating the direction of pressed seams so that the seams nest nicely into each other. It's a good idea to sew all the rows before you sew the rows together so that you can confirm that all the seams are going in the right direction before the block is assembled.










It's also a good idea to pay attention to what you are doing so that you don't end up with something like this and having to spend some quality time with your ripper... :D












Nesting the seams makes a huge difference in your ability to get accurate piecing, especially with such tiny pieces. And believe it or not, me, who usually pins everything, doesn't pin a thing, even with pieces this small!












I press the two top seams towards the top of the block (away from the centre square) and the two bottom seams to the bottom of the block (again, away from the centre). If I were going to sew the blocks to each other I would have to think about whether there is a better way to do this so that you can nest those seams as well, but I'm thinking that they will be assembled next to a plain piece of fabric, so no nesting will be necessary. This is what it looks like from the back.

Give it one last press...
















and then send it to join the others.

I thought these blocks would take forever to assemble but the biggest time commitment is trimming the blocks; it's key if you want consistently good joins.

Hope that helps; let me know if you have any questions and I'd love to see any blocks that you might try.








And speaking of tiny, Anne and I put together a few blueberry pies the other day and the last one was this little cutie. It was headed for the freezer....M

Monday, August 07, 2017

The French Connection

I've posted before about the amazing little B&B that we enjoy when we travel to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Well, sad to say, those days are now done; Chris has decided that it's time to move on to other things. To say that we will miss it is a huge understatement. He was the perfect host and the rooms were absolutely beautiful. Here is just a sample of what I'm talking about - a table for two in the breakfast room.

Chris grew up in France and is a chef so breakfast was always a treat. It included freshly baked croissants and clafoutis, a favourite of The Official Cookie Tester. We loved to hear him describe it to new guests in his lovely French accent ..."It's a French dish made with fresh fruit and custard.'




Cherries are still in season so I decided to walk on the French side a bit and make one. It couldn't be easier. I used Julia Child's Cherry Clafoutis recipe and it whipped up in no time.













The longest bit is pitting the cherries but you can substitute almost any fruit that you like; to make the custard, just dump everything into the blender and give it a whirl.












I split the recipe between two pans and shared this little one with Anne. Isn't summer eating just the best?.....M


Sunday, August 06, 2017

Imaginings

I've been playing with hexie layouts for the corners of the centre panel of Anna Levens, primarily because I'm just about out of paper hexies and I'm wondering if it's time to start sewing some of these together to free a few papers up, or if I should just bite the bullet and cut more paper hexies too.












I've only got a little pile turned under and several of them are duplicates so I need more variety.















Of course I couldn't resist laying them out alongside the larger hexies to see how everything might look together. Nice. Anna will be my hand work for today - either finishing off the cream hexie border or turning under more hexies for the corners, or maybe both...M.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Special Inspiration

Betty and I enjoyed a special treat last weekend - lunch with our friend Ann who was in town with one of her daughters and her first grandchild. While her daughter visited with friends we three were able to get together and get caught up.

One thing about Ann is that she never shows up empty handed - there's always treats for everyone - which can make some of us look bad (ahem). Sure enough, she had goodies for both of us, these lovely Grandmother's Garden mugs. Now if that's not inspiration to keep me going on my Anna Levens quilt I don't know what is.






I pressed it into service right away, using it to sip my tea as I sit and stitch. It's lovely to look at and helps remind me that some day all of my hexies will be together as well. I think it might also work with Minnie.












All of those cream hexies for the border were becoming a bit monotonous so I dug through some muted scraps and have started cutting the hexies to fill in the four corners. I'll need at least 300 so this will keep me busy for a while too....M

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Smaller They Are, The Harder I Fall

Tiny scraps have taken me hostage again.
















As I've been trimming the Bowties for God's Green Earth I've been setting the small pairs of triangles aside. When the pile got too big I sewed them together with a scant seam allowance to create a pile of lovely little HSTs that finish off at 1.25".











Rather than wait for that pile to continue to grow and be shoved into a 'some day' corner, I went on the hunt for a new HST block to try. Enter Crown of Thorns.













At first I wasn't sure that I was going to be accurate enough to have blocks that looked any good, but by the second try I figured out the right pressing formula and it made all the difference.













The blocks are just a little over 6" and just adorable. These photos are a little on the dark side but rest assured that in the right light they almost sparkle.














I've got a feeling that the Crazy Lady might ride again because I'm imagining an entire quilt of these little cuties alternated with neutral blocks, but I don't know if I'll have the stamina for that. There might be enough for a border though, or to incorporate into a medallion quilt.

Time will tell, but in the meantime I'm enjoying seeing them up on the wall and imagining the possibilities, something I wouldn't have had if I had just pitched all of those little beauties into the waste basket. Now back to God's Green Earth so that I can get more scraps!...M

Sunday, July 23, 2017

All Together Now

It started soft and low but, if you listened very carefully you could hear the sound of the Hallelujah Chorus rising up from the love seat earlier today. That's because I was busy putting the last couple of stitches into the centre panel of large hexies on Anna Levens. All of the large hexies are now one big piece. Whew! There's still more small cream hexies needed to finish off the border around them all but this is a big milestone for me.










Despite all of my moaning and dripping about EPP, I seem to have finally found a method that works for me and lets me sit in a comfy chair, not always spread out on the kitchen table (the quilt top is spread out on the kitchen table, not me!).












There were times that I never thought I'd see this day, but here it is. Yippee skipee! Time to get back to my needle while the hexie gods are still shining on me. I'll leave you with another small miracle, and that's a photo of my lilies. They are just gorgeous this year....M

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Last One

My summer evenings have seen me struggling to get my hexies together for Anna Levens.















As the piece gets larger I'm finding it more challenging to hold it properly so that I can sew everything together, so I've resorted to laying it out on the table and working from a flat surface, but I have to say EPP is not my thing. No-sir-eeeee!











It could be because I use a ladder stitch rather than a whip stitch to join them (I do that for my bindings as well), but whatever the reason I find the whole process much more time consuming that just picking up hand stitching and going to town.











That said, I'm happy to report that there's only one more to go and this centre panel will be together; then I'll need to finish up the border of small cream hexies around the entire thing. I'm trying not to think about how many hexies I have to add after that.











All of this hand stitching can work up an appetite so on the weekend we experimented with pizza on the BBQ. My sister Frances was in town so she made up the dough and then we topped it with prosciutto, peaches and mozarella; when it came off the grill we added arugula and a balsamic drizzle. YUM! We had enjoyed this while visiting our friends Rhonda & Brian a couple of weeks ago and I was dying to try it - thanks for the inspiration Rhonda. If you are not into making the dough you can use flatbread and it works equally well, you just won't need as much time on the barbie....M