Friday, January 31, 2020

Lets Hear It For The Snowmen

#QuiltBee: snowman place mats
A few weeks ago I was showing you the snowman place mats that I was going to be stitching the binding on while watching football but I never did show you the finished product.

#QuiltBee: snowman place matsThere are two red...

#QuiltBee: snowman place mats
...and two green, and I think that they are really sweet. And the randomly spaced vertical lines of quilting add a nice casual touch so that they don't take themselves too seriously.

#QuiltBee: snowman place mats
The flying geese that run up one side are snowier prints - lots more white in them - as is the red and white that they are all backed and bound in. I keep envisioning a young family of four sitting in to eat and checking out all of the different snowmen that are rolling about on their mat.

#QuiltBee: snowman place mats
I'm particularly happy that I used up the pieces of snowman fabrics that I had and much of the red as well. There is a small pile of geese left over so they may become the seeds for a few potholders - I'll have to do a count.

#QuiltBee: snowman place mats
If I can resist putting these on our table they will go into a box to take to the Holly Bazaar in November. It's a little more work to make four place mats rather than one table runner, but I really enjoyed making them so I think I'll try and make one or two additional sets. Its always good to switch things up so that the shoppers at the bazaar stay interested - and in a buying mood 😉.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Meet Another Quilty Friend

After spending the last several years working in Asia, our friend Martin has returned to Canada and is pondering retirement. He is a brilliant educator with an equally keen creative sensibility. Before leaving for his adventure he left a bag of old dress shirts with Jane and asked her to make him a quilt from them. Instead, she decided to hold on to them and let him enjoy the process.

Mid-November he decided that he was up for the challenge. He has great taste in clothing so the fabrics that he was working with were beautiful. So nice, in fact, that our circle of quilters kept threatening to dig into that bag of goodies before he came back 😉.

Large rectangular slabs set against a snow white grid of sashing helps make these pieces shine. Pieces of grey and blue solids were added to create interest and I think it was a great decision.

He has made several quilts to date and thinks nothing of machine quilting them as well, regardless of the size. My hat goes off to him because I don't even dare contemplate quilting a large quilt on my machine.

He's been a busy little beaver and earlier this month it was ready to bind, which Jane kindly did for him. Then it was packed up and delivered to his twin brother who was delighted with it and apparently wasted no time in putting it on his bed.

Readjusting to our Canadian winters after years in the heat and humidity of Asia has had its challenges but obviously he's found a cozy way to adapt; he's already started working on a new project! Man after my own heart....M

Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Visit With Anna

#QuiltBee: Anna Levens hexagon quilt
Anna Levens has been on the sidelines for a while just waiting to be picked up again.

Since today is another Sunday Snowday (third weekend in a row we've had a storm), it seems like the perfect hand stitching project to settle in.

#QuiltBee: Anna Levens hexagon quilt
You will recall that this quilt sometimes speaks to me, reminding me of where I left off. Do you see the 'maybe you were here' message in the centre hexie? 😉 I use business reply cards from magazines to cut my paper hexies and it can result in some very entertaining reading as I stitch.

#QuiltBee: Anna Levens hexagon quilt
Even if I'm not working on it I do love looking at it, both front and back. I love the palette and the honeycomb that the hexies create is almost mesmerizing.

I'm working at filling in a corner so that it is squared off; one of these days I'll be able to share that with you. In the meantime, we're nestled in with our morning coffee and content with watching the falling flakes create a winter wonderland. Hope you enjoy some slow stitching this Sunday as well....M

Friday, January 24, 2020


#QuiltBee, #bushfireblocks
Anne has kindly whipped up five beautiful tree blocks to my two for the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild's efforts in support of those who are suffering as a result of the bush fires that continue to rage in Australia.

Aren't they beautiful? I love the contrast between her block style and mine and can only imagine how wonderful the quilts that they assemble will be when they have even more variety to work with.

#QuiltBee, #bushfireblocksShe dug into a pile of great turquoise strips and came up with these beauties.

#QuiltBee, #bushfireblocks
My images aren't totally capturing the true colour of these prints, but they are warm and cheery and scrappy. I know that they will make someone's day.

#QuiltBee, #bushfireblocksSo its time to package them all up and head to the post office. If you are interested in making a 12.5" tree block or two to support the cause you can find all of the details in my last post. Just keep in mind that they would like them mailed so that the blocks arrive by the end of February...M

Monday, January 20, 2020

Tree Planting #bushfireblocks

When I was in my teens my dad was a Cub leader and my sister Betty and I helped out. We did lots of fun things to help in the development of those boys but the one thing that really stands out was a day we planted trees. It was about giving back and looking to the future, even if you were only 6 or 7 years old. Today I live about 20 minutes from the fields where those evergreens were planted. They are thriving, mature trees and every time I drive by I am reminded of the difference a small group can make, and for the long term.

Undoubtedly you have seen and heard coverage of the devastating fires that have been consuming Australia since last August. The country is burning and the losses are inconceivable - lives, livestock, wildlife, livelihoods and homes. So many helplessly watch as their world disappears.
Sunday I saw a facebook post from the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild about the ravages to their state and their efforts to make quilts to ease some of the suffering; they have sent out a call for quilters interested in helping out. So today, in -26⁰ C weather and under a couple of feet of snow, I am again planting trees.

A symbol of growth, tree blocks are the guild's block of choice; any block you like works as long as it is 12.5" square and has a low volume/white/pale grey background. The quilts will be beautiful and diverse, just like their communities. Mail blocks to arrive by the end of February to:
     Woolongong Modern Quilt Guild
     P.O. Box 54
     Jamberoo, New South Wales
     AUSTRALIA 2533

I landed on improv trees. I loved making them for this quilt and was keen to play with them again. Given the size of the block, I decided to try making a small grove of trees instead of just one per block and I wanted to use bright and uplifting fabric. This Kaffe Fassett green fit the bill.

You have to be careful when piecing these blocks to ensure that you sew the branches and trunks in the proper order or you end up in a pickle, so once I had cut the background I laid everything out and methodically worked through it...

one piece...

at a time.

Voila! Block number one.

Then I used the trimming from the first block in the second.

It is hard to see but I also worked in two additional cream prints.

And here is block number two. Originally these trees were going to fill more of the left side of the block than be centred but at the last minute I trimmed a piece of white from the right and added it to the left side. I think I should have left well enough alone, but it still works.

I'm really happy with them - they remind me of saplings with that fresh green that you only see in the spring - and hopefully bring a sense of rebirth to the ultimate user of the quilt(s) that they are sewn into....M

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Snow(man) Day

For the second weekend in a row we've received a significant dump of snow so we started our day by attempting to dig ourselves out. This little tree is in an urn on our back deck that we put up for the holidays. It developed a Grinch-like bend in an ice storm a few weeks back and never really recovered; now there's only about a third of it showing.

#QuiltBee: flying geese quilted placematAfter a couple of hours with the shovel I'm thinking that this won't be a day to sit at the machine and work on Pineapple Tidbits. Instead, I'm going to settle in with the Official Cookie Tester for some good football - the NFL conference championships will both be decided today.

I've quilted the four snowman placemats that I had started for the Holly Bazaar last fall and sewed the binding on as well, so they are ready to be hand stitched.

#QuiltBee: flying geese quilted placematTwo of them are now bound so I'm thinking that two football games should give me ample time to finish up the other two....M

Saturday, January 18, 2020

You Just Knew It Was Going to Happen...

Despite having a shoe box full of strips cut and sorted for Pineapple Tidbits, I couldn't resist the siren call of the rotary cutter and my scrap bins.

All of the blocks were looking the same - not much interest - I felt as though I was always using the same fabrics. It was compounded by the fact that they were very dark and very similar - you know, the saturated greens and browns from the late 80s/early 90s. It is a quilt designed to use your 'uglies' and will eventually be over-dyed with a tea rinse to help meld the colours together, but it was just looking a little too ugly for my liking. Even Dame Edna agreed.

So, out came the scrap bins. I also cleaned out a few small containers of strips that date back to mom's stash hidden in the shelving unit that the shoe box had been sitting on. She didn't waste a thing.

There's a little bit of everything in it which I love, including a few Christmas prints.

I think that I've more than replaced all of the strips that I recently sewed into blocks, which sort of defeats the purpose of working through that shoe box, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do....M

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

One Shoe Box at a Time

#QuiltBee: Pineapple Tidbits quilt block
About six years ago I wrote a post resolving to move Pineapple Tidbits to the finish line but I'm here to tell you that its been about six years since I've actually touched it.

SIX YEARS!!! How does that happen? Especially when it is sitting neatly in a shoe box atop a little shelving unit right next to my machine and I can see it every single time I head to the machine! I mean seriously - it couldn't get any closer.

Like every other project, it helps to be in the mood to work on it and this week the mood seems to have struck me. It's all cut and organized into baggies, I just have to sit down and apply myself a bit.

#QuiltBee: Pineapple Tidbits quilt block
And so I have. I've added half a dozen blocks to the finished pile in a few days. I'll soon bring out the big box and see how many I have now - I may be closer than I think.

This is proving to be a great project to work on between bouts of shoveling snow - no cutting or planning required, just sit down and sew. There's more snow in the forecast for tonight and again on Saturday so if this pattern keeps up I might just put a good dent in this one. Fingers crossed....M

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Pretty Points

#QuiltBee: quilted gift box potholdersWhen I recently bound the gift box potholders some of my corners were neater than the others. I chalked it up to my head cold and a lack of concentration but then I remembered a technique that takes all of the guesswork out of getting nice, crisp corners (I'm blaming the memory loss on the cold as well!) so I used it when finishing up a second batch.

Some leftover binding which had been cut on the grain came in handy to make my blocks as well as to bind them. Those polka dots are really sweet and there's lots of binding left so I'm thinking that there will be more made with dots.

Its a very simple technique - just adding a few stitches at the corners helps keep everything aligned giving you pretty points when you hand stitch it down.

When sewing the raw edges of your binding to the top side of the quilt, as you approach the first corner, stop 1/4" from the end of the quilt, keeping your needle down. Pivot the quilt 45⁰ and then sew about three stitches to the corner; reverse your stitches and cut your thread.

Fold the binding back 45⁰ onto itself along your last stitching line - there's no need for pinning or guessing where that fold line should be.

Then fold the binding down onto the quilt, ensuring that the top fold and the edge of the binding aligning with the top edge of the quilt and the next side, the way you normally do (sorry, I forgot to get a pic).

Starting at the top edge, begin sewing your 1/4" seam (I start in a few stitches from the top edge, reverse my stitches and then continue to avoid bunching up the thread). I will try and get a pic of this step too.
And that's it. Just those few extra stitches take all of the guesswork out of whether or not you will have nice corners on your binding.

#QuiltBee: quilted gift box potholders
I love these little blocks.

#QuiltBee: quilted gift box potholders
The combinations are endless and tons of fun to consider - hopefully I don't get stuck in gift box pot holder land all year....M

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

The Bee in Me

There were several 'bee' related gifts received over the holidays which I know will give me countless hours of fun down the road and I thought that you might enjoy a closer look. The first is my new honeycomb rolling pin. Isn't it bee-utiful? It came with a recipe for sugar cookies but I'm also keen to see how it performs on pie dough - I think it would make a gorgeous looking crust.

To help out in that regard, Anne gave me these very cool dough thickness rails. I hadn't seen them before but she recently picked up a set for herself and loves them.

It is three pairs of 18" silicone strips of different thickness to help you make perfect pies & tarts, galettes & tartlets, and cookies, of course. I recently noticed that they are distributed by Rose Levy Beranbaum who is the author of one of my favourite Christmas cookie cookbooks, so I'm thinking that is a very good sign.

There was another 'bee' gift from Betty - a beautifully embroidered apron. I've mentioned before that my sister Frances started a blog a few years ago (L'Abeille Française - The French Bee) to share her adventures of travels to France. Recently, she decided to create a line of goods for the home and this Queen Bee apron was the first item that she launched. It is beautifully embroidered, a nice weight and I really like the way the strap runs up through two gussets to the neckline to give you a perfect fit - I haven't seen one made like this before. It will be very well used.

Not surprisingly, Frances also did her gift giving with bees in mind. She gave me another product from her online boutique - a beautiful printed copper Honey Bee pillow which works perfectly in our living room. The colour is so rich; my photo doesn't do it justice.

The last goodie is not bee related at all, but you just know that if there's going to be baking there's going to have to be some cleanup, too. Dana, a client of Betty's, is an international director with Epicure and that's where she found these Swedish dish cloths. These are totally new to me, but they are terrific. I've long bemoaned the disappearance of the traditional woven dishcloths that we grew up with but I think that I've found a new love.

Invented in 1949 in - you guessed it - Sweden, they are made from wood cellulose and cotton. Who knew? They clean up beautifully - I loved using it and found myself looking for surfaces to try it on. And, they are biodegradable! Sorry if that sounds like an infomercial but I was more than pleasantly surprised by them. I tend to wash my dishes by hand, using the dishwasher only occasionally, and these little beauties will make that task even more enjoyable....M