Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Saturday Quickie

Last weekend my traditional guild held our big annual workshop day. It is different from most workshops in that there is no instructor. Instead, a committee organizes a theme (like placemats, floral quilts, scrappy quilts) or a mystery pattern and everyone works together in a huge gymnasium.  This year the theme was Layer Cake and you could make a mystery quilt or just work on your own layer cake pattern. Typically over 40 guild members participate and it is a really fun day. Lunch is a potluck, so you know what that means...more cake, cookies and loaves than we know what to do with and barely enough cheese, crackers, sandwiches and sausage rolls! 

I had a lovely day working on my Featherweight Agatha, sewing with a Cotton & Steel Maple Layer Cake. These are special layer cakes made for the Canadian market by the wholesale company Trend-Tex.  I finished up my quilt top yesterday.

Cotton & Steel Quickie

However, when I returned to my sewing room after taking this shot, I discovered there was still a row of blocks stuck to my design wall!! So imagine this with one more row along the bottom, hehe.  I'm trying not to fuss about all of the decapitated horses.

The pattern I used is called Double Slice and is a free video tutorial offered by the Missouri Star Quilt Co.  Super fast and fun!  For now, I've hung it neatly over a hanger to go in the closet with all of the other Quilt Tops With No Purpose...my speciality!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Signing!

It is official! My book Make It, Take It: 16 Cute and Clever Projects to Sew With Friends will officially launch at QuiltCon!! I'm so excited for many reasons, but mostly because I'll be able to share it with friends from all over the blogosphere that I'll be meeting for the first time in person at QuiltCon. Many of the contributors to my book will be there as well, including Felicity, Krista W., Krista F., Leanne and Cindy!

Stepping Stones Table Runner by Krista Withers and me.
Photo: with permission by Brent Kane, Martingale 

The book officially releases February 10th (only 16 more sleeps). You'll be able to purchase a hard copy starting that day here. Your purchase directly from Martingale automatically includes a FREE digital copy so that you can take it along on your device to your next retreat, or to shop for supplies!

If you're headed to Austin for QuiltCon, you'll be able to purchase a copy in person there before it is available in any store, or shipping from Amazon!  Come see me on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the Island Quilter Booth #109 or at 1:00 p.m. at Modern Cottons/The Quilt Haus Booth #306 (both of which are adjacent to the demo area). I'll sign your book and give you one of my awesome "Retreats Rule!" buttons.  If you've already pre-ordered your book (THANK YOU!), please stop by and say hello, I'll have a button & book plate to sign for you as well.  If all else fails, flag me down in the show hall or at the Moda party!

All of the contributors will participate in a blog tour in early April where you'll learn more about the inspiration behind each of their projects and have lots of chances to win your own copy of the book. Stay tuned for more details and a schedule coming later in March.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Not-So-New New Acquisitions

Mad About Patchwork has a bundle sale going on! I had a look around last week and could not believe the great stuff on offer.

I quickly launched this honey into my cart:

Grammercy FQ bundle
Leah Duncan's Gramercy line for Art Gallery Fabrics. The hand is gorgeous and I love the graphics. 

I don't have a clue as to why I thought I could live without Far, Far Away. I guess at some point I tried to talk myself out of buying "hype" fabric.  You know what I mean...the hotly anticipated new lines that filled social media for months before they were even printed. I honestly had the same feelings about Cotton & Steel, but guess what? They are incredible prints with amazing colours on fabulous substrates. What's not to love? I'm glad I changed my mind, because now I have this gorgeous stack to admire in my sewing room:

Far Far Away (reprint)
Heather Ross' Far, Far Away (reprint). I never noticed how absolutely gorgeous that Frog Prince print in the palest of blue and pink is (bottom left corner). 

I am so very late to both of these fabric parties, but very happy to have had the chance to pick them up at a great price. I have no plans for any of this fabric. None, whatsoever. Sue me. That's why they call it a STASH.

Someone else likes stashed fabric, too. Look what Lysa does with other people's stashes - in this case mine! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lonestar Circle Mini

When I first started blogging and participating in the quilting and sewing community on Flickr, I signed up for so many swaps. I spent almost two years sewing up mini quilts, pouches, pot holders, mug rugs and hoops for other people. Some of my very best and most creative work went out the front door and into the homes of other sewists. Swapping was super fun and I met some of my closest online friends that way, but I started feeling a little sad about some of the great work I sent away that I'd never see again.  I decided to take a break and only do occasional swaps with friends.

Mini QT March swap made for lmdesigns Potholder Pass 3 'cooking' 452 Poppyprint - mugrug pears 3 birdhouse fence wool mini by Poppyprint Time For Fabric Hoop by Poppyprint
Just a few of the swap items that I sent off to partners over the past 5 years.

Then Instagram took off like crazy and, similar to Flickr, communities started up through swapping again. I felt ready to jump back in and signed up for Kristi's Schnitzel and Boo Miniquilt Swap (search the hashtags #schnitzelandboominiquiltswap OR #makeaquiltmakeafriend if you want to check out the quilts on IG). Round Two is just shipping now and there are 1000 participants!  It is exciting to be a part of something so huge - I even signed up to be a swap mama to help ensure that this massive swap was a success.  Each mama has about 40 swappers to monitor and I'm super lucky because all 38 of my swappers are 100% committed to seeing the swap through. Phew!

So, what would I make for my secret partner? With my book, Make It, Take It coming out in a month's time, I wanted to try a mini-version of one of the patterns.  Lynne designed this incredible Lone Star Circle quilt for the book and used Oakshott shot cottons to make it.

Martingale - Make It, Take It
Photo from Make It, Take It by Brent Kane, Martingale 2014

A lonestar quilt has long been on my "to try" list and this complete circle version is so eye-catching I knew it was a must.  In Lynne's pattern, the strips are cut 3 1/2".  I made a 1/3-sized version by cutting 1 1/2" strips from fat quarters (the finished mini is just under 18" square).  There is something about radiating designs; they seem to be universally loved by quilters.  Is it the symmetry? The eye-catching points?  I can't quite put my finger on it, but this little honey got more likes on IG than anything else I've ever posted!

Lonestar Circle Mini by Poppyprint
All seams are pressed open on this mini, except for the two vertical seams that meet in the middle for the final horizontal joining seam (between the two half circles). I pressed those in opposite directions so I could lock the allowances and achieve a perfect pointy centre star!

The background is Essex yarn-dyed linen in flax, and the finished quilt measures 18" square.  My swap partner seems to like radiating designs (based on her inspiration mosaic) and although this fabric wasn't mentioned in her favourite designers list, I hope the universal appeal of Cotton & Steel will make this okay for her.  I don't have any fabrics by one designer she listed and I'm going to send her the 2 fat quarters I have from her other favourite designer as extras.

Lonestar Circle Mini by Poppyprint

Lonestar Circle Mini by Poppyprint

I simply quilted with straight lines and a longer stitch length (3.5 stitches/inch) using Aurifil 30 wt cotton thread in hot pink and teal to match the centre star prints.  I will freely admit that after doing so much improvisational sewing last fall, pin-matching all of those points nearly drove me bananas, but the effort is well worth the results!  In the book, I explain how to correctly pin-match angled seams so that you end up with perfectly pointy-points.

Lonestar Circle Mini by Poppyprint

Throughout the year I'll be making up my own versions of the contributor projects from Make It, Take It. I can't wait to share more of this book with you!  Of course there will be a blog tour (watch for that in April).  For now, set your calendar alarms for February 10th: that's the day you'll be able to order the book from  Martingale's  online shop. The bonus is that when you buy a hard copy direct from the publisher, you automatically receive a FREE digital copy, so you can take the book along on retreat or to your sew-ins on your tablet or laptop! Yay!


Friday, January 9, 2015

Canadian Quilting Sisters, take note!

(and Brothers, if there are any of you out there that I haven't met yet!). Sew Sisters has a great promotion to get your 2015 off to a super stash-building-start. Order as much fabric as you like and it'll ship free to your Canadian address for absolutely NOTHING!! 


If you are fan of vintage, low volume and/or ephemera, check out Tim Holtz  new collection Eclectic Elements which has recently arrived at Sew Sisters. I love the red newsprint and butterflies!!


If you held off on Carolyn Friedlander's Botanics and Architextures collections (or have used up your stash), they are on sale for $11.99/m at the moment. These are some of my favourites from the collections:

Architextures - Text White Architextures - Text Black
Architextures - Plants Blue Botanics - Lines Tangerine

If sweet florals are your thing, Riley Blake Country Girls are all on sale for only $7.99/m and they are super cute!

Country Girls - Blueberries Navy Country Girls - Sprouts Pink
Country Girls - Birds Pink Country Girls - Ducks Aqua

And finally, my last recommendation would be this sublime print by Frances Newcombe from her Cherie collection with Art Gallery Fabrics. What a gorgeous quilt back this would make!!

Chérie - Decoupage Couleur

Happy shopping!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Refreshing Start to 2015


The day before our VMQG December meeting, I listened to a conversation on the radio between two DJ's trying to psych each other up to do the annual Polar Bear Swim on January 1st.  The "swim" (I use this term loosely as it is really a screaming dash into the ocean and a panicked, breathless waddle out) takes place right downtown on Vancouver's famous English Bay beach.  The first and last time I participated was with B and my father, 17 years ago, and that was only because of peer pressure at work, where we were going to have a team with T-shirts, a towel and a participant button (I'm a sucker for the free stuff).

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
Spectators on top of the English Bay bath house, looking down onto the beach

While listening to the radio announcement about this year's event, I had a thought: what if I could get a bunch of VMQG members to join me in the swim? We could wrap up in our gorgeous modern quilts to get warm once we got out of the water and 15,000 people could potentially take notice of our guild/quilts/work!  In my typical, somewhat irrational and impulsive way, I got excited about this idea and proposed it to the members at our December meeting.

There was nervous laughter.
There was immediate shaking of heads, exclamations of  "no way!" and "you're crazy!"
I'm sure there were a couple of people wondering how the heck I managed to get the microphone in my hand yet again.

As I looked around at around 60 faces in the crowd, I saw a few smiles and enthusiastic nods. I reminded everyone that this is a FREE event and asked for a show of hands. I think 10 or 12 went up. Yay!

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
In the end, 6 guild members and one niece braved the chilly dip. Kudos to our co-presidents Holly and Felicity who both took one for the team and showed up with their big smiles! Here we are all cosy in our winter outerwear, just before stripping down to our bathing suits. It was a gorgeous day of 4C sunshine - couldn't have asked for better weather! Photo cred: Happysewlucky

The event packs the beach with spectators and there are many groups that dress up as well as individuals that participate year after year for their coveted button. There is an actual race (first three swimmers to the 100m buoy receive a trophy) which all of us were happy to let someone else win.  In reality, the dash to the water is supposed to be at 2:30, but everything gets very confusing and there is lots of screaming and cheering and throwing of clothes, so I think the first toes hit the water at about 2:25.

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
We got all prepared in our suits and water shoes so that we only had to take off our jackets and dash!


Photo cred: Happysewlucky

Based on the advice of experienced Polar Bears, our little group stayed off to the side of the main event so that we wouldn't get trapped in the water ahead of a crowd rushing in behind us. Miss G and I had made a pact to go all the way and dunk our heads under. That hurt.

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
Here's G after her SECOND dip!! This girl's got spunk. Photo cred: Happysewlucky

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
Don't our quilts look amazing in that sunshine?! Photo cred: Happysewlucky

It didn't take long for the gasps and screams of shock (yes, the cold was much more shocking than I expected!) to give way to laughter once we were all cosy in our quilts.  It was an amazing team-building activity that I hope will continue to next year with an even bigger group.

VMQG Polar Bear Swim 2015
See you on January 1, 2016! Photo cred: Happysewlucky

What did YOU do to ring in 2015? 

Happiest wishes for the new year to all of you!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Creativity - the Husband Edition

Christmas is the usually the only time of year that my husband B is able to carve out some creative time from his super demanding day job.  Every year we wonder if he'll be able to pull off another original design and get 150 cards screened in time and every year by some holiday miracle he succeeds. It is very important to him to continue a family tradition started in 1947 by his father (to read a more involved post about his process, check this out). This year he perfected the photo-emulsion technique that had eluded him in the past (thanks to a knowledgeable hipster at the art supply store). This is very happy news for me, because no harsh chemicals are needed to clean the screens, so I can breathe easy at silk screen time now!

Christmas card 2014: Our fireplace nook, complete with a lounging Flynn


B started his own tradition last year by writing everyone in the family a personal poem about their year (completed with beer or wine accompaniment on Christmas Eve). Read last year's poem about me here. Luckily his sister is even more prolific in the poetry department, so she writes one for him in return. I'll share this year's rhymes with you by way of giving you some pretty straightforward hints of the exciting year I have ahead of me. There is a lot of travel scheduled for 2015 and I couldn't be more excited....

 Back in the early 2000s
Bryan travelled on too many trips
It led in a roundabout way
To krista sewing up strips.

From the early days piecing log cabins
And other traditional blocks
Quilting gave Krista an outlet
More engaging than looking at rocks.

Fast forward to 2014,
Krista's hobby's a full blown career
With a glossy new book coming out
And trip to Loon Lake every year.

We know that her students love her
And retreaters would kill for a spot
To work on one of her patterns
With fabric that's cotton, and shot.

But of late there's another dimension
To the growing mystique of P-Print
She is going to travel the world
Due to an improvisational stint.

The offers are coming in fast
From the north and the east and on water
When she swings through our town the next time
We'll be lucky even to spot her.

What is it about this technique?
One might think it is just a glue trick
The Swedes from Uppsala know better
As does the Guild Inuvik.

Through it all you have family behind you
Though your fame may go up and down
I will always setup your tables
As long as retreats are in town.


I hope that you enjoyed your Christmas holiday surrounded by loving family or kind friends in front of a warm fire. All the best to you from our cozy blue cottage.

Blue Cottage Christmas 2014