Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Since We Last Spoke . . .

You may remember that I had some ripping to do before this quilt could be finished.
(Some quilting decisions deserve to die! ha!)

This time I kept things simple and classic - but not too safe!
I could have held back, but I think filling the flowers made this quilt even more fun to look at!






I also finished sewing some shields to donate to Days For Girls  - hygiene kits help girls live their lives every day of the month.


This beautifully pieced chevron quilt filled my frame completely.


Ripples panto

Beautifully pieced back, too!

Perfect points!

Cozy flannel is always a great choice for a snuggly quilt.


Puzzle panto

House Update

Most of the floor tile has been installed and grouted, the walls have been primed, and the ceilings have been finished. (all said with suitable jumping-up-and-down and clapping of hands!!!)


The first coat of purple is on our feature wall in the living room, too! (and I love it!!!)


Our fireplace is waiting for installation - - - soon, I hear!
(Man, I don't envy that job. The thing weighs about 600 lbs.)

Plumbing and heating rough-in is almost finished, I think. (How would you like to put this puzzle together?)

Shower rough in - a pretty puzzle!

Still lots to be done, but before you know it, it'll be time for us to pack!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Because You Know I'm All About that Stash, 'Bout that Stash - No Table

This is ridiculous.
Somehow my work space shrank to approximately 15 inches square. Ever have that happen?

Time to clean up!

Time to clear the deck.

Being my stubborn self, I decided that my fabric would fit into its designated cabinet NO MATTER WHAT.
It meant pulling everything out and re-folding every piece of fabric, but I did it!

Tidy again!

The mess got bigger before it got better, but it was a great way to rediscover my stash!


And, look - my table has been FOUND!!!

Much better!

Now I'm on a mission to use things up!

First up, I made three reversible minky & flannel crib blankets for my sweet, new grandson.

Minky "giraffe" and a wee baby laugh!

The blankets would have knocked my stash back several meters - if I hadn't purchased the fabric specially for the job. (Hmm. I'm beginning to understand my problem . . .)

Second attempt at stash busting - half a dozen baby bibs.


This time I DID raid the stash - the special stash. (Everyone has a special stash, right?)

When we were little, my brother and I had pjs made from this very fabric! My mom passed her flannel leftovers to me when my kids were little. What I didn't use for them was tucked away again, and has now been resurrected for my grandson!

Let's call that fabric "vintage". (Just ZIP IT if you thought "antique". Ha!)

Ready for their first wash to fluff their edges

 I used a bib from my daughter's babyhood as a pattern.

(Yes, I saved it. Yes, it was used for all of my kids and grands - and visiting littles, too. And yes, I'll probably keep it forever! Doesn't everybody keep random baby items forever?)

The original bib - rootin' tootin' cute!

Anywho. Enough about my hoarding ways. Back to the bibs!

How they were made

I decided to use flannel (instead of denim) to keep the bibs soft and flexible. The goal is to keep baby's neckline dry when he drools, eats, and spits up. Absorbent is good!

To make a symmetrical shape, I traced the left half of the original bib onto tracing paper. I then folded the tracing paper in half, vertically, and traced the right half.


The bib is made with TWO layers of flannel. Place them WRONG sides together with the pattern on top, and cut both layers at once.

I cut the outline using my rotary cutter - no need to worry about perfection with a soon-to-be raggy edge!

Oh! I used a rotary circle tool for the neck holes, too.


See the lines I marked to find the center point of the red circle? If you save that first cut-out to use as a centering guide for the remaining bibs you won't have to mark again. Just set the marked piece in place according to the pattern, remove the pattern, and then cut using the tool.


Easy, peasy!


Another tip - don't cut the separating line all the way through to the neck hole.

Leave a bridge

Cutting it partway lets you know where to sew, but the "bridge" keeps things from flopping around and stretching out of shape as you stitch.

Layering the wrong sides together means you are now ready to sew without adding any extra flips or turns!

It is possible to sew the entire perimeter AND the neck hole without breaking the thread. I used about a half-inch seam allowance - don't worry about being too exact here. Close is good enough!

Start on one side of the bib and stitch to the slash - turn the corner and follow the slash to the neck hole. Follow around the hole back to the slash. Turn the corners and stitch your way back out to the perimeter.

Stitch all around

This is what it looks like after stitching:


At that point, finish cutting the slash to the neck hole.


Then snip around the entire perimeter and the neck hole to create a raggy edge. Be careful to cut UP TO the stitched line, but not through it.


Add a small snap or a bit of Velcro to finish.

I happened to have *ahem* VINTAGE snaps on hand from my very first sewing kit - laugh if you will, but they came in pretty handy 40 years later, didn't they? Ha!


From a safety perspective, I wouldn't use anything around a baby's neck that doesn't release easily. Please use your best judgement if you decide to try a similar project!

The bibs measure about 10 or 10.5 inches wide, and about 14 inches long. The neck hole is 3.5 inches across. Keep the fasteners inside, and close to, the stitched edges of the neck "ends" by the slash - you don't need much overlap.

In the Studio

You know how sometimes simple, classic designs trump fancy ones? The quilt on my frame is a case in point.


I'm reluctant to say how long this has been on the frame, but it's been a while.
I tried some stuff. And I *hated* it. So I tried some more stuff. And hated that, too!
That's real life for ya. Sometimes things don't work out the way you think they should.

Now that the quilting plan has been simplified, the quilt is much happier!! (and so am I!) I just wish I'd taken this route sooner.

My seam ripper and I will be "reverse sewing" tomorrow, and then I'll be able to finish the last three blocks and get this beauty back to its owner!

House Update

They still tell me I'm not allowed to move in yet. Spoil sports. Ha!


I believe the plan for this week is to get the walls primed and to start the flooring - yay!

As always,

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Happy New Year!

The days between Christmas and the New Year are mine - all mine!

As such, I've had a chance to finish my "Within and Without" challenge for my secret art quilt group. We met in the summer and have decided to keep things private, so I can say no more about the group. I can, however, show you my finish!

Windows to the Soul, by Carole Gold
12 x 12 inches
Here is the accompanying statement:

"Expression and perception. Eyes often express our inner world while simultaneously allowing us to see out. It is my hope that the subject's gaze gives viewers a sense of being "seen" from within the quilt as intimately as she is being observed from without."

Just before Christmas I spent an afternoon helping Laina, my granddaughter, finish a baby quilt for her new baby brother. She and Riley (her other brother) had the quilt all planned and prepped ahead of time. Riley opted out at that point, leaving Laina and me to carry on.

We were in a hurry, so why not piece it on the longarm?

Strip piecing on the longarm

We loaded backing and batting, and then we pieced the strips in a "stitch and flip" manner. The horizontal channel lock on my machine made it easier to stitch straight seams. The strips finished at 2" wide, so Laina decided they didn't need additional quilting.

The panel with the baby's name was added in the same way. It did need to be quilted, and Laina had a clear vision of what she wanted to do. She drew her idea on a little scrap paper to see if she could manage it on her own.

Testing her idea on paper

And then she jumped in and quilted away! (Did I mention she is eleven? And fearless?)
Laina loves the longarm!

Laina's quilting!

Here she is (below) with the trimmed quilt - pleased as punch!

At that point I offered to do the binding, and get it wrapped and tucked under the tree in time for Christmas. (Machine binding to the rescue!)

Ready to bind!

It absolutely made my day to see Laina all excited when her momma opened the quilt on Christmas morning!
Love in action. :)

Sneaking one last client quilt through before Christmas was another happy finish - for the client as well as for me!

Ripples panto on a client quilt

I love how the watery feel of the quilting design supports the quilt's theme.

And So, on to the New Year...

Tomorrow will be my day to look back in review, and then to look forward with focus and intent. Writing and reflection will help me define how to spend my time in the upcoming year.

I neglected this ritual a year ago and felt the difference.
  • definitely wasn't as motivated as usual - didn't have a "big picture" view in my head, so it was easy to sit on the couch instead of hitting the studio or the gym after work
  • without written reminders of my priorities I let some things slide by that I would have benefited from pursuing
  • felt like I was jumping from fire to fire - everything seemed much more "last minute" without that overview
I much prefer to have a guiding vision for myself so I don't wind up wandering a path I didn't choose. Once time is spent, there's no getting it back, so I intend to choose wisely this year!

All the best as you set your path into 2017, as well.  
Happy New Year!

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Discharge Experiment, Continued

Earlier this month I tested discharge spray on a variety of fabrics. (Click here to see a bit of the process.)

Just in case success came knocking, I decided to use a nature theme, and also attempt to create a pleasing composition while working quickly and freely.

Mainly, I wanted to get the discharge spray on every single fabric without making a total mess.

Discharge tester

Commercial stencils were used to speed things along - I wanted to see the discharge results, pronto!, so didn't take time to make my own.

This experiment enabled me to choose fabrics for my next project based on their discharge properties.
Exactly what I needed!

Next, I wanted to test a couple of foiling effects. I used Bo-Nash fusing powder to make fine sparkles, and foiling adhesive (a special glue) to make the dots.

Copper foil, two ways

Next - the quilting test. (What would happen if . . . ?)

To keep their edges soft, yet visible, I decided to quilt the main images (bird, leaves, fern) with a sketchy outline in black thread.

Sketchy stitching

Secondary images (bark, "nest", trees) were quilted by loosely following their shapes. Very loosely. More like reflecting their essence, if you will.

Quilting detail

The background was quilted with a very fine (100wt) thread. First, I echoed the main image of the bird. Then, I filled in with leaves (around the bird) and a jagged stipple (around everything else).

I stitched right through the foil sparkles, but avoided stitching over the dots. The foil is soft enough to quilt through, but I didn't want to visually "push" the dots to the back. 


Testing thread and quilting effects on these images has been a valuable exercise. Now I'm ready to finish other projects featuring sun prints and bleach discharge!

As an added bonus, I love how this turned out!


Living my mantra of
Try, Learn & Grow!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

An Experiment is Afoot!

I needed to test how a variety of fabrics would respond to discharge spray.
Naturally I thought, "why not make more work for myself by piecing them together first." ;-)

Anything can happen!

Actually, I was interested in how the process would work across seams, so this really was a sensible course of action.

Have you seen discharge spray in action? It's pretty cool.
Spray. Let dry. Iron to activate the magic!
It smells like ass. But it works!

Here is a section that needed one more bit of branch on the right. It's been sprayed and has had time to dry completely. The next few photos will show how the image appears when hit with the iron.

Discharge spray becomes practically undetectable when dry.

Barely touched, and the image is starting to show.

A hint of things to come.

A little more heat . . . it could be left like this if desired, but I kept going.

Image becomes more definite as heat is applied.

Lots of heat and steam gave the effect I wanted.

The final result.

See? Cool!

My experiment is shaping up - more to come!

Experimenting is a must when heading into a larger project, and I'm not done with this yet. I'd like to test paint colours for stamping, thread colours and types, and quilting motifs to see what I like.

The imagery will be different on the actual project - it's the techniques and colours that matter here.

Oh, but before I stamp and stitch, I plan to test bleach as a discharge agent on the same group of fabrics. Bleach reacts immediately, and there is wayyyy less control than with the decolourant spray. It's going to be exciting!

Ready for the next experiment!

I'm going to test each fabric separately - I'm hoping to accidentally-on-purpose (serendipitously) create images that can be worked into my actual project. If a fabric responds extremely well, I'll be able to discharge more on the spot. (Let's hope for the best, right?)

Fresh off the Frame

Quilts that come to me with no particular deadline may wait a bit as I work to meet hard deadlines in quilting and in life.

The biggest lesson I have learned is to not rush a quilt. If I do, the quilt suffers. I suffer. The owner doesn't get my very best work.

If you are waiting for a quilt, please know that it is best for it to go on the frame when I can give it my full, loving attention. The design will be better. The flow will happen. And I won't want to burn your quilt. (ha!)

If it's waiting it's because I'm not ready. I'm still thinking of how to do the quilting. Obsessing, really! Drawing, scheming, visualizing, hunting for ideas in my class notes and online. Sometimes a quilt has to marinate, even after it is on the frame. So I try to wait until I'm ready.

So . . . if you are waiting, thank you so much for your patience with my process!!! Yours is probably next!!!
(Seriously, it is! I'll bet you know who you are!)

Now, how 'bout some quilts that have made it through the studio in time for Christmas!

A cheerful red, black & white features the Hearts in Bloom pantograph.

Hearts in Bloom pantograph

Feathers are set off by straight lines in the table topper, below.

Custom quilting.

A lacy feather fills the black/silver areas, and a swirly feather adds interest to the red areas. Both wrap in a clockwise direction around the quilt, appearing to weave themselves together.

Quilting close up!

I knew ahead of time that the red minky on the back of the next quilt would be trimmed, tucked and wrapped to the front as binding. I trimmed the batting to the edge of the top after quilting, and the rest will happen in the hands of its maker.

Flannel with a minky back - cozy!!

Speaking of Life . . .

It wouldn't be Christmas without traditions, and in our family that includes a day of tart baking. We missed it last year and none of us wanted to miss it again, so we coordinated our schedules (a herculean effort!) and had (almost) a whole day together! By the end of the day we had produced hundreds of delicious butter and jam tarts - all from scratch. Yumm!

Good thing these freeze well!

House update

It's not finished. (Captain Obvious here. ha!)
But it is insulated and has a temporary furnace warming things up for the workers. Yay for progress!

Try, Learn, & Grow!
P.S. Find me on Instagram under my blog name, Fresh off the Frame.
I'm a bit weird about not sharing the same thing in two places, so photos that appear there will not typically appear here, and vice versa. Keepin' things fresh, all around!