Saturday, August 19, 2017


Last night I said to myself, "Omigosh, tomorrow is Saturday already!" Saturday is the RSC link up, and I have done very little sewing for two weeks now. But today I managed to shift into gear and make a start on my neutral string units for Rose Boll.

Although, "neutral" seems like the wrong term for all my rosey florals!

A few of these fabrics have been in my stash since the 90s. And of course, I did buy a few more too.

My first thought was to keep these strings very light. But, the alternate sawtooth blocks are quite stark and high contrast. So, I decided to put in the darker pink and gold strings to balance the final quilt a little better.
I am getting keen to see how it will look all together!

This is 14 done, and 50 needed, so there is still a lot to do. But, it feels like good progress.

Click here to see all the other variations on neutral at RSC today!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pets on Proust

Pets on Quilts on Proust

Over at Lily Pad Quilting it's time for the annual Pets on Quilts party. In the "cats on quilts" category, this is one of my quilts, "Black and White and Read all Over," with my sister's well-read cats, Olive and Wilma. And a little Marcel Proust for good measure!


"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes."


"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."

The link up is in preview mode now. Click here to view all the other entries. Then come back on August 21 to vote for your favourite!

Many thanks to my sister for rising to the occasion and working for two days to get these two "spontaneous and natural" photos!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Middling Along

I'm back in the middle of Rose Boll this week. Aren't these fabrics gorgeous? I just love them! Click any photo to see them all full sized.

I have to say, it is already looking better than I dared to dream. When I bought the fabric last fall, I admit I felt some guilt about it. Couldn't I have made do with what I had?

Now I have no doubt that it was the right call to buy all the extra reds. The deep reds are needed to hold their own with all the florals.

And, I certainly didn't want to skimp on florals!

The mix of prints is so much fun. This time the pictures really do not do it justice.

Anyway, the middles are all done. The sawtooth edges are next!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Whisperin' Turkey

If the name of these Bonnie Hunter blocks is Talkin' Turkey, then this low volume colourway must surely be whisperin!

When I was deciding whether or not to start this project, the idea of these inverse, white blocks was the clincher. And I'm so happy with how they turned out!

I already knew I was on the right track when I finished the string units:

I really think this is my favourite colour scheme.

I've been saying for a while that I'm ready to close the book on all these text fabrics (yes, sorry). But now that I am near the end on this Warm Wishes fabric, I will miss it. It has been just the right touch in so many projects! Maybe I will have to look for some more text fabrics after all.

Anyway, once again only three blocks are needed for this month's colour.

But, I definitely hope to re-visit these white strings in a future project! We'll see how things shake out. 

And as always, you can see all the other variations on "light" at the RSC link up, right here.

Friday, July 28, 2017

High Summer Stitching

Doesn't look like a lake, does it? That's Lake Ontario, looking southwest down the length of the lake from Bluffer's Park in Toronto. We've had some wonderful high summer weather this week, and I took my camera out for a drive.

Here are the Scarborough Bluffs, with lovely puffy white clouds (aka source material):

And the marina, with puffy clouds and shiny boats:

A good day! Some memories to re-visit when it's below freezing this winter.

Inside, I finally finished edge stitching the fusible applique blocks that I last shared in June, here and here. They are for my quilt "El Camino SoCal," based on the cover quilt from Nancy Rink's book El Camino Real. And even though summer is still in full swing, you can see that my sunny patch on the wall is getting narrower:

After considerable thought, I decided to top stitch the flowers as if they had individual petals. It was a lot easier to run straight and pivot, rather than inching around all the inside curves.

I want this quilt to have a bright, casual feel, so I just stitched the petals by eye.

I did the same thing on the smaller "forget-me-nots."

The yellow (and citron) centres are reverse applique, which is why the top stitching is only on the purple.

Here's the whole block stitched:

And the last block of the five I've done so far:

They remind me of poppies.

I think this block benefited quite a lot from the top stitching. It really helped to separate and define all the light coloured leaves.

And I'm still happy with my choice of dark red thread for all the edge stitching. It shows up well on every colour.

These blocks have been lying flat on my sewing table for two months, because I didn't want to fold them until they were stitched. I've had to move them every time I sew. Now I can finally put them away!

I feel like I'm at a bit of a crossroads now, and I'm not sure which project I'll pick up next. It's been nothing but this project and Technicolor Turkey for two months, so maybe it's time to give some love to some of my other projects!

And the next Ad Hoc Improv Quilters challenge is to use words in a quilt, which is right up my alley. You can read about it here. I have at least three wordy ideas that I've been sitting on, and I thought it would be easy to just pick one. But...I'm feeling the need to be more spontaneous. So we'll see what happens!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Red for March

The original Bonnie Hunter Talkin' Turkey quilt is all in shades of red and beige. I can see why! The red blocks really pop.

These blocks are so fun to make! This has been the most string units I've made for a project so far. They are so effective that I've been making an effort to take photos before I cut them. Do you see the sushi fabric?

I still had a scrap left!

Interestingly, I found that it's hard to have a range of values in red. You have to run between pink and black, or rely on red and white prints. Or red and black prints.

I bought quite a lot of that Canadian flag fabric from Connecting Threads. I think I'll be using it for many years!

And there are still a lot of Kaffe Collective scraps as well. Most of those are originally from Collector.

So, that's March done and dusted. I'm zooming along! What will be next?

But for now, don't forget to check out all the other blue blocks still being made for RSC in July, right here.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bonjour Beautiful Blue!

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour for July 2017 is blue. My three blue Talkin' Turkey blocks for my Technicolor Turkey quilt are done!

My stash is mostly sorted by colour, and I have to admit that I don't open my blue box as often as I should. I found a lot of goodies in there! Even though I have a lot of fabric, I still remember where and why I bought almost all of it. But there were a few that I truly had forgotten.

See that gorgeous batik with the orange leaves? My best guess is that I must have bought that on a whim at a show somewhere. I used to always buy fabric with a specific project in mind, but I cannot remember any plan for that one.

And the fabric with the little sunflowers? I also have that in sage green, which tells you something about its age. Those are also probably from a show. I always buy sunflower fabric when I see it!

Anyway, three blue blocks are all I need, so I think that next time I will keep catching up on the months I missed, and go back to red for March.

In the meantime, there is plenty more blue in the RSC link up, right here.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Aqua for February

A scrap from Flamingos en Provence!

The RSC17 colour for February was aqua, but I pulled a wide range of blue greens from light sea green and aqua through dark turquoise and teal for my Talkin' Turkey blocks. Recently I have been a lot more mindful of the benefit of using a full range of values in my projects. Well, since my water lily misstep, actually. Katie Pasquini Masopust recommends a 7-step value scale for the projects in her book, and around the same time I saw an episode of Quilting Arts (Series 18) on PBS where one of the teachers had a 7-step scale made from paint chips. That seemed like a good idea, so now I have these:

Technically, the white should probably be pure white. But then I thought, how often do I use pure white fabric? Or pure black. Anyway, it is a work in progress. But, the point is that I used to think in terms of a 3-step value range, light - medium - dark, and I've realized that a project looks much fuller and well rounded if you use more gradations. Even in a scrappy block like Talkin' Turkey!

So, I can't have all 7 steps in each colour, but I'm trying for 4 or 5.

And since RSC17 will include a "light" month and a "dark" month, both still to come, I'll definitely be able to use all 7 values in the complete quilt. I think it will pay off!

And, with all this 7 step practice, I'm hoping my next attempt at the water lily will be more successful!

Of course, I'm still up to my old tricks in this quilt too. It was impossible not to fussy cut this slice of cucumber, left over from Picnic.

Maybe it would have been better off centre? Something to consider next time. I think I still have a piece of cucumber saved for the green blocks, too. I hope so!

Right now, though, I'm going to start work on the colour for July. So, it adios to aqua, and bonjour blue!

To see all the other RSC blue projects this week, click right here.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy 150, Canada!

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers, and anyone else who feels like celebrating too! No quilts today, just a slice of summer vacation in the Canadian Shield. The photo above is an early morning shot of Lake of Two Rivers in Algonquin Park. You may hear a White-throated Sparrow...

...but you don't usually see them, they are high in the trees. And there is nothing eerier than hearing the loon echoing over the water:

There has been a lot of discussion in the media this week about what makes a typical Canadian experience, and the truth is that there isn't one thing that fits everyone across the board. Everyone has their own customs, and most people are ok with that.

For one version of the Canadian experience, you may, if you like, imagine relaxing in a Muskoka chair by the lake (they are extremely comfortable), breathing the crisp air, and drinking a nice hot cup of coffee. (We learned this week that Canadians are the third highest per capita consumers of coffee in the world, after The Netherlands and Finland, and before Norway and Sweden.)

I will almost certainly be sewing on Canada Day, and I'll be very glad that I am free to do it, too. And despite my earlier post, I don't think I'll take a blog break any time soon. I have lots of motivation these days. Maybe I'll slow down in August. But for now, enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Purple for January

Since I'm starting the 2017 Rainbow Scrap Challenge halfway through the year, I've decided to go back to the beginning and fill in the months I've missed. The colour for January was purple.

It seems that I've gone back to my purple-blind ways, because there were only two purple scraps in my scrap box -- the birdcages and the Scottie dogs. Everything else was cut new from stash. And I used almost every purple fabric I have!

But, once I had these string sections made, I was really loving purple once again. The mix of purples is so juicy!

Now that I've properly read the instructions, these Talkin' Turkey blocks went together just fine. I really love the mix of techniques! It keeps me interested.

I also am finding that one colour at a time is a very efficient way to make blocks. My stash is mostly sorted by colour, so I only have to open one box. And when the blocks are done, it is easy to put the fabrics back again! Filing the fabrics back again is always the hardest part of stash maintenance. :D

The next RSC link up will be on Saturday, right here. I can't wait to learn the colour for July!

Saturday is also Canada's big 150th anniversary, so I think I'll do a red & white retrospective for that. No new project! I've been racking my brain, but, I haven't had any exciting new Canada-themed ideas. There are already plenty out there!

In the meantime, purple is done. February will be aqua, and the strings are already looking good!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Technicolor Turkey

After many years of resistance, this week I succumbed to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge for 2017 (RSC17). My inspiration is Angela Neff's rainbow version of Bonnie Hunter's Talkin' Turkey quilt. Angela started hers in 2013, and the flimsy is here, in 2016. Sounds so familiar, doesn't it?

But, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I still believe that I can start halfway through the year, catch up, and finish by December 31!

I have not one, but two copies of the pattern:

So, the block should be a piece of cake, right? Well, I have to admit that I mainly buy patterns so that I can take a photo for the blog and support the designer. I don't need a pattern for a traditional block...I skimmed the instructions and jumped right in.

The RSC colour for June is yellow, and my plan called for four yellow blocks. The centre nine patches went fast...

...and then things started to go awry. I used Stable Stuff for the string foundations, with the plan to leave it in the final block. I have no photo, but this is exactly what happened. Déjà vu! Stable stuff is a pain to remove, but, I did it.

Then, I thought I would save a step and trim the string blocks after they were sewn onto the middle. The pattern said that I should have about a 1/4" extra all around. So why were my blocks coming out scant? Something must have happened with that Stable Stuff and all the ripping and ironing I had to do. I kept going, and with plenty of steam and firm ironing, my block finished just 1/8" short all around.

In the middle of that, my big iron died, and I had to press the last seams with my small travel iron.

At least I got one block done! I put everything away for the day. Then I thought, no wonder it was tricky -- those 6" nine patch blocks are 8.5" on point, not 9" like the pattern says. It must be a mistake! In both books?

I re-read the pattern. The instructions say to cut the nine patches at 2 + a fraction inches, and I assumed that fraction was 1/2. It is not. 2 1/2" is too small, so my nine patches were too small, and the whole block was doomed. Is it finally time to get eyeglasses?

The other three blocks were already cut, but I was able to sew a scant seam, and they came out right. The first, problem block is on the top right:

I'm lucky that the yellow is low contrast, so the problem is not obvious. I'm keeping that block! But, now I have about 100 beige 2 1/2" squares for a future project. Back to the cutting board!

Usually when I run into this many problems, I think that maybe I should pass on the project. But this time I am not deterred. All the problems are solved now, hopefully. I only want 36 blocks, and I think around 7 a month should be doable.

And you know, my old iron wasn't doing a great job with all the fusible applique anyway. I was constantly finding little unfused areas that were probably left by the steam holes. A new, flat-bottomed dry iron is on order!

Best of all, I've remembered that I start thinking I need glasses every June. Why? This dratted tree:

Japanese lilac tree
The city has planted these everywhere, they are all in bloom now, and my allergies are in high gear. By mid-July the world will be clear again.

So obviously, this was all the trees' fault. Certainly not mine.

For many other yellow blocks, and probably shorter stories too, check out the RSC link up, right here.
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