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Finding My People

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I suppose that even though I sort of dove into this quilting thing head first I am still “new” to quilting. I have technically only owned a sewing machine for 2 years and it’s been about 18 months since my first quilting class began. Still, I’m pretty into

I saw this online one day and it could happen...

I saw this online one day and it could happen…

it. Like really into it. So I decided that it was time to join a quilt guild and I discovered the Calgary Modern Quilt Guild on Facebook. I also discovered that my friend Erin over at Basting Beauty was also thinking of joining so we piled into my car and off we went. I want to imagine that we arrived all cool and confident and ready to talk about fabric and thread and battings and such. In reality we were pretty nervous – well at least I know I was! What does one even talk about at a Quilt Guild meeting. Well, I suppose it makes sense that they just talk about quilting. The night we were there they had a demo on paper piecing – something I definitely want to try very soon! There was a show and tell portion of the evening and oh wow there is some serious talent amongst these ladies! Even though the talent was pretty intimidating everyone was welcoming and I think I’ve found my people!! This is pretty cool because I sometimes feel like I have spent most of my life on the fringe of things. I’m never really the popular girl who fits in easily into groups – I’m way too nerdy and awkward for all of that. It doesn’t bother me – I am blessed with some of the best friends a girl could ask for but it’s still nice to find a group where you can discuss your passion.

Many of the members were away at Quiltcon so I’m not even sure that we had the full experience but it’s ok because in a week we will go to our next meeting and I’m sure we will be even more overwhelmed! At this meeting we will exchange mini quilts and I’m completely terrified that my mini isn’t really up to par but I’m gonna do it because #yolo. (I’ve also recently decided that this term must live and so I have resurrected it.)

I don’t have any quilts to share at the moment – I picked a baby quilt up from the quilter today so on the weekend I will share pics – I promise. I also have a VERY important quilt project on the go and it has consumed most of my quilting time since the middle of January but I am happy to report that I am making awesome progress on it and you will get to view its splendour soon.

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Put a Label on It!

In my very first quilting class they talked about labelling your quilts. I will be the first to admit that I may have thought – but why?! And my first few quilts – likely more than a few – were not labelled. I am just going to trust that those people will love my quilts and just remember how much effort and love I put into their quilts! But then I started making quilts that were getting more difficult to give away. I was becoming more attached to my art work. I was actually making art work in my quilts.

Each quilt I make is inspired by a number of things. Sometimes I see a fabric line that I MUST have and then I will search for a pattern that suits it or that will feature the fabric in a way that seems suitable. I also have a quilt pattern obsession and I love to troll the inter webs for new pattern ideas. Other times I will have a need to make a quilt for a specific person for a special occasion and I will spend hours (like literally hours) finding or creating just the right combination of fabric and pattern. Typically this will involve trying a new technique or just playing with a new idea.

My quilts feel more and more like my art and they are definitely a product of my own creativity. So… I decided to create labels for the quilts. I had a graphic designer help me create a label and then I printed them at Spoonflower. I had a fat quarter printed and it will be enough labels to make 25 quilts so I should be good for a while!

I played with ideas to attach the labels and I have decided on a rough edge appliqué method where I use HeatnBond iron adhesive so that the label can be attached that way and then I also sew around the edge. They look like this:

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I am really happy with how they look on the quilts and I am excited to put them on all of my future projects!

That being said – I gifted a quilt to someone recently and an observer scoffed at the idea of my label. It was interesting. I calmly explained that my quilts are my art and we would not expect an artist to leave her work unsigned. The observer seemed to understand at that point and I was happy to be able to educate someone about quilting.

So there you have it folks, put a label on it!

 

 

In case you were wondering…

I’m alive!

I’m just really terrible at staying up to date with this blog situation. I’m not even going to do the cliche New Year’s thing where I promise to be better. I’m just gonna be me and that will have to be enough.

Truthfully, I am probably updating this right now because I don’t want to be writing report cards. This is what procrastination looks like.

Even though I did not make a resolution for 2015, I did make one last year. My 2014 New Year’s resolution was to make 12 quilts in 12 months. Technically I didn’t quite make all 12 but let me explain.

Quilt 1:

You all remember this beauty – it was one of my most popular quilts of the year. It happily resides at my dad’s house now. Yes, my dad purchased this quilt at a silent auction. I told him that I would make him one for free but he insisted. Who am I to argue with my own father?!

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Quilt 2:

This was a quick panel quilt for a very dear friend’s little boy for his first birthday. I blogged about this one too so not much to say here.

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Quilt 3:

I also blogged about this one. I won’t ramble…

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Quilt 4:

Yep – you know about this one too! It should be noted that my other half seems to hate this quilt. Apparently he isn’t into vintage looking quilts. This is all good information because I haven’t made a lot of quilts for our house yet so now I know that I should make modern quilts if I require his approval, which I don’t, but sometimes it’s nicer to have someone admire a quilt than it is to have them fold it away constantly! He means no harm – it’s kind of nice to know that he has an opinion about them.

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Quilt 5:

I don’t have a nice photo of this one after it was all bound and delivered. I don’t even have a good excuse as to why there is very little photo documentation of it. I was in a hurry to deliver it, perhaps. I do adore the little hearts on this one.

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Quilt 6:

Another one that I don’t have great photos of. Maybe we are seeing a theme here. It may also explain my lack of blogging about quilts. When all you have are semi-horrible iPhone pictures… I do love these little owls.

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Quilt 7:

This was my first foray into the world of half-square-triangles and I really liked how they made the chevron pattern. I don’t have any great pictures of the quilting but it was done with little bumble-bees!

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Quilt 8:

Another horrible picture. Maybe I should have asked for a camera for Christmas… But I digress. I love this quilt. I used a panel and a fat quarter bundle and it whipped up really quickly. I also quilted this one on a long arm machine and I used a freehand design to accent the fairy. You can see a picture of the wings.

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Quilt 9:

I have pictures of this one finished but for some reason right now I can only find this picture of this one on my design wall. The patterned fabrics have penguins, whales and polar bears on them. Swoon.

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Quilt 10:

Remember that owl quilt (#6), well this is the same fabric line. I had a fat quarter bundle kicking around so I threw this little beauty together for an intern teacher we had at our school for the fall. The end result was one of my favourites. It was SUPER quick to put together – just a stack of 6 1/2″ squares tossed together.

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Quilt 11:

Another adorable baby quilt!

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And actually there is not a Quilt 12. I am almost done binding a mini quilt that could have been #12 but it just didn’t quite get done. It will be done soon and if it’s still report card season you can expect an update! 😉 I also have two other quilt tops done so when they are all quilted and bound I will take more crappy photos for you to enjoy!

So that was 2014 in quilts – quite a year considering I had only completed 2 quilts before this – I started learning how to quilt in September of 2013 so I am REALLY proud of my progress so far.

I have some AWESOME projects on the go already in 2015. They are pretty much top secret at the moment so I can’t really blog about them and even if I could I probably wouldn’t be all that great about updating so no stress.

I hope 2015 brings you joy and opportunities to explore your creativity!

<3,

Rachel

Finally!

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Phew! That break from blogging was too long! My apologies.

I had every intention to blog over the past few months – really.

In April I had foot surgery. I had a bunionectomy to be exact. In preparation for this event I prepared a quilt right up to the final hand stitched binding and that was going to be my big project while I convalesced. However, I did not anticipate the fact that lugging a rather large quilt even short distances would be nearly impossible whilst on crutches. Live and learn, friends. Live and learn.

I’m happy to tell you that said quilt is complete and gorgeous and I am going to share it with you today!

imagesWay way way back in winter I signed up for a quilt class to learn how to set diagonal blocks, do mitred corners, and make a scalloped edge on a quilt. Around the same time I spotted this fabric line on the Fat Quarter Shop and I knew that this fabric was made for this quilt. The aqua and red combination was so striking and had the same vintage feel that the quilt pattern had.

So I set to work cutting and piecing and prepping this lovely little number. It was actually a very quick quilt to piece. If memory serves me it took about 4-5 eight hour days to make this quilt from start to finish and most of that was done in the classroom. I discovered how much I like the diagonal setting and how easy it is! The mitred corners were also really simple and I will definitely use them again.

Thanks to a fancy ruler the scalloped edge was also pretty simple. They also continue to marry my love of math and quilts at the same time which I always enjoy!IMG_1296

I had the quilt professionally quilted by a quilter who lives just down the road from me – how handy is that?! (I may or may not have dropped off two more quilts today!) I chose a large scale floral pattern that (hopefully) mimics the dahlias in the fabric. Also note: polka-do backing. Don’t mess with a good thing.

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Full disclosure – the quilt was all ready for hand sewing in April and then it took me all this time to get the binding done. It’s shameful. When I was off my foot and resting on the couch the quilt was always just out of reach or on a different floor of the house. On crutches the quilt might as well have been in a different galaxy. Even if I mustered the energy to go and get it I had to face the fact that a large quilt (it measures approximately 73″ square) was tough to transport on crutches. So I let that dream go and I worked on a gorgeous alpaca scarf that will be adorable this winter – finally a knitting project for myself!

I can read your minds. You are thinking , “It’s been three months, what took so long?!” When I finally lost the cast and crutches it was early June and the very last thing I wanted to do was sit down for another second. I wanted to walk and cut fabric and sew and even press a new project or two. There was to be no sitting.

And then the weather got nice. And then I started teaching an online course at the University. And then life is just such a busy place. And (let’s just be honest here) hand stitching binding is not a choice activity for this girl. It (sadly) falls pretty low on my list of “Things I Like to Do” but this week I got a little tough on myself and insisted that this quilt deserved to be enjoyed and seen by the world. Am I the only quilter that struggles at this stage? I sometimes wonder if I’m doing it wrong or something. IMG_1297

Double Dog Dare

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Just before the holidays I was finishing my first quilting class and I told my instructor that my New Year’s resolution was going to be finishing 12 quilts in 12 months. Her response, “They take longer than you think.” So basically I have accepted her double dog dare to actually do this. So today we celebrate Finish #3! Woohoo! You just watch me finish these 12 quilts. Also, there are three babies joining my little world in the next 6 months so I figure that babies need an abundance of quilts so this should be a fun challenge.

I know that you have seen pics of this one along the way so I will just throw in a couple of quick shots but you just needed to see it all done because it’s pretty fantastic. And note: The backing technically has a polka-dot in it. Can’t resist.

 

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Green Baby Quilt

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Notice the polka-dots!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week my quilt labels also arrived! Earlier in the year I had a graphic designer create a label for me and then I ordered them on Spoonflower. I know that it might seem weird to label a hand made quilt but this is my art and I want my “signature” on it. I am hoping to cut these out in circles and attach them to the bottom right corner of the back of each of my quilts from now on.

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Quilt Labels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, this adorable fabric found its way into my sewing room this week so I will be playing with it in the days to come. Stay tuned!

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Adornit Nested Owl in Coral

Finish {#2}

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It turns out that when I blog about projects I can make things happen! Here we have 2014’s second quilt finish! I have probably worked on this project for way too long – after all, it is just a panel with borders but for some reason I got caught up in the final stages. Forgive me! Here’s hoping that the quilt’s recipient will forgive my tardiness with his first birthday gift and that it doesn’t stop him from enjoying his new play mat.

I figured out a way to sandwich my panel quilt in the limited space of my sewing room.  I just did it in sections which seems to have worked just fine although this is the largest size quilt I could sandwich that way. My other half is unwilling to sell our house and move to a place with a bigger sewing space so that I can own my very own long arm machine so this will have to do for smallish quilts at home for now!

Once sandwiched it was time to quilt and I decided to incorporate a few different (and new to me) quilting pattern techniques. On the body of the quilt I decided to just use a meandering swirl with this rainbow thread I spotted at the quilting store. I subsequently discovered that you haven’t really

Meander quilting with rainbow thread.

Meander quilting with rainbow thread.

lived until you have quilted with rainbow thread and I may struggle to quilt with anything but rainbow thread in the future.

Water Quilting

Water Quilting

I had originally picked blue and yellow for the borders so that I could highlight these colours in the quilt and to mimic water and sunshine so I wanted to bring that into my quilting. On the blue border I used a quilting motif that replicates water and I really like how it turned out!

On the yellow I wanted to play with the idea of sunshine so I decided to use a continuous swirl. I had to practice this one a little because it requires some forethought to make them look uniform and as intended. Once I got in the groove they took shape fairly easily but I am mildly concerned that they look more like yellow snails than suns. I am really hoping that the quilt’s 1 year-old recipient isn’t somehow deeply offended by yellow snails.

Sun (Snail??) Quilted Border

Sun (Snail??) Quilted Border

Have we talked about how much I love a good polka-dot backing? Well, I do. I could pretty much find a polka-dot backing to suit any quilt and I usually do. I need to consider digging deeper into my psyche to figure this out. But here’s the thing: The polka-dots look fantastic on any quilt. See?

Polka-dot Backing

Polka-dot Backing

So this quilt will hit the post later this evening and ideally arrive in a couple of weeks across the pond to its very handsome new owner and I hope he will play with his little cars on it for years to come and that it may also provide some love and comfort from Canada.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The final product!

 

Spring Quilting

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So I am really trying to make a go of this blog situation but I am really terrible at regular updates. I am struggling with the idea that quilting takes away from the time I could blog about quilting. It’s a quandry for sure.

But alas, here I am and I want to tell you about this week’s new project! Yes, I have two other “things” on the go right now.  One of them is done being bound and I can tell you all about it next week and the other is getting ready for binding. The one I really want to tell you about is a little something I started about a week and a half ago. I was asked to make a baby quilt for a colleague who’s wife is expecting soon so I made a trip to the quilting store to find some really great fabric for a baby boy. This is where being a quilter really comes in handy! It seems like there are a lot more products marketed to little girls.  I found this great feature fabric and on Monday I had hoped to just get the cutting done but then I started sewing and before I knew it I was almost half done piecing!

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Adorable fabric with coordinating blocks

The store also had a few of the fabrics from the same line so I added those in and only had to find about 4 more to add.  This is how it looks up on the design wall. I am loving how the colours are blending with one another and yet also showcasing the wide variety of colours in the feature fabric.

 

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Design wall from a step back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So then spring break started and I needed to finish this quilt because today I was headed to Sparrow Studioz to learn how to use the longarm quilting machines so that I can rent them in the future. I think that I had forgotten how quickly a baby quilt can come together because it was only a couple more hours of piecing work and I had a quilt top.

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Quilt top

 

And then I successfully quilted it on the long arm machine which was fun like nobody’s business! We used a pantograph which is essentially tracing a pattern on to the quilt and it only took an hour from start to finish and I am officially hooked on quilting this way. It looks so professional and you can’t argue with the time saving. So there is just the binding to do which can take me anywhere from a day to a month depending on how motivated I am.

Look at that quilting!

Look at that quilting!