Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Knock knock

Who's there?


Olive who?

Thank you!

I love you too!

For the non-English speakers (or you know, those who may not remember), "olive who?" sounds like "I love you." So you have just baited the other person into confessing their love! I remember my little sister telling this joke with glee when she was about five years old.

So, this is my solution for Month 2 of the Gwennie-Inspired Medallion quilt along. The theme is "Childhood," and I think a silly riddle checks that box. I was able to continue my "olive" theme from the first month. Improv letters like this are not uncommon in Gwen Marston's quilts either. And, I'm migrating to mostly solid fabrics, which is another thing many of Gwen's quilts do.

The theme for Month 3 is "Log Cabin," and you can see that foreshadowed in the way I'm attaching the borders:

And, since childhood was a long time ago, I did go ahead and use hourglasses in the corners as well.

So, I'm very happy with it now!

Remember these bear claws that I made and rejected for round 2?

This was a story about going camping and seeing a mother and baby bear running through the campground one night. Childhood memory + baby bear = twice as good, or so I first thought. But I've realized the problem was simply that the colours were too dark, too soon.

Now I know that they aren't bear claws at all. They are stars.

Months 3 & 4, log cabins and stars, coming soon! In the meantime, check out the other improv quilters at the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters' monthly link up, right here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's a Warm Finish!

It's Warm Inside is finally a finished quilt!

This poor quilt has really had its ups and downs. I designed it to be Quilt as You Go (QAYG), with the narrow white cotton sashings. But, between the fluffy flannel log cabin blocks and all the loose batting, it was way too dusty for my allergies. So, I pieced it all together and took it to a longarm rental place to quilt it myself.

Wait for the chorus...

That turned out to be a really miserable experience that started with a friend of the owner setting up a quilt on the machine I had reserved, and which went way downhill from there. I should have walked out right then, but alas, I was not as smart as the song. The clincher was when the owner told me that my quilting idea was wrong and looked bad, when I was about half done. Fortunately, there are other fish in the sea!

But, despite all the hardship, in the end I think it's a likeable quilt. The snowmen are jolly, and the simple quilting works fairly well on the flannel logs. I circled around all the snowglobes in the border, which made them quite puffy:

The fat red binding stands out well too. I had a couple of yards of aqua, white and red Christmas fabric that I think I meant for a border at one time. But it matched perfectly, so I used it on the back here, and filled in the remainder with the leftover snowmen fabrics from the front.

I have Mimi Dietrich's book Happy Endings, which includes this idea for piecing the label right into the back:

Since I had to piece the back anyway, it made sense to me.

So, I'm glad to have it done, only two years later than planned! I'm catching up. :D To see all the posts on this quilt, please click here.

The gnome? He kept his thoughts to himself.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

And Some Dots

It's been two weeks, and I just have a little hand sewing to share today for Slow Sunday Stitching. The day after my last post, I was smoothing out my Gwennie Medallion basket block on the bed for this photo...

...and my back cracked and folded. Two days in bed, two days mostly in bed, but the good news is that I heal well, and the x-rays are clear.

I have not been back on the sewing machine since, but it has given me time to re-think that wavy border. I unpicked it a few days ago. Today, with luck, I will straighten out the sides, re-attach it, and move on to the first border. With luck, I will be appliqueing more olives by the end of the day!

While I was recovering, I did manage a little EPP for Leigh Latimore's Brinton Hall. When you really can't think at all, EPP is the perfect activity! I need 20 rosettes for the first border, and I ran out of plaids. Rather than repeating fabrics, I thought some dots would work:

So that will brighten things up!

I have one more suitable dotty fabric, this blue. Then I think I will have to repeat one of the plaids, probably the bright yellow from the last post.

I am still not 100% decided on the background and floater fabrics, or even on the design. The original Anna Brereton quilt, which inspired Latimore's design, has octagons, and I happen to have suitable octagons in my EPP stash. I've sewn up a few, but the way is still not clear.

But, I have to shelve that for now, because if I have any chance at all of meeting the October 1 deadline for the Gwennie medallion, I have to get back on that horse!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fun with Plaid

Now that the centre of my version of Brinton Hall is done (see here), it is time to start work on the first border. Leigh Latimore's design calls for 20 squares of dark beige backgrounds, 8 appliqued with hexagon rosettes, and 12 with eight-pointed stars.

Although the pattern does not say so, I could see in the photos that some of those hexagon rosettes were fussy cut. That seemed like a good plan to me too!

But, the Kaffe Collective fabrics that I used in the centre tend to have a long repeat, and I didn't want to make small holes here and there in otherwise good yardage.

I needed a fabric with a short repeat, and I thought of these printed plaids. They are the Mix It Up collection from Connecting Threads last year, and I bought quite a few! I love plaid.

The centres, though, are Kaffe's Zinnia design, which I had for something else but then didn't like. But, it is perfect for this! I cut 8 hexagon centres for the hexagon rosettes, and 12 circles for the centres of the star blocks.

As I played around with the plaids, I realized that I could cut some of them to make an interior star. It is subtle in this olive green plaid...

...but I hoped it would be clearer in this red. And, I thought I should take some photos to show how I do it.

I have a homemade cutting template that includes a 3/8" seam allowance. It is important to do the exact same thing 6 times in a row, so make sure you have enough time to do it all at once.

Then something felt wrong when I started basting the fabric to the papers.

Oh no! They don't make stars at all! They go in a straight line!

Why? Because I distracted myself by taking photos, that's why. Pride before a fall...

Fortunately, the seam allowance is so large that I can just turn the paper the way it's supposed to be and baste again.

Here it is fixed. You can see that I still baste with the thread entirely on the back of the paper. I leave the thread in, and just pull out the paper once it is stitched all around. The thread is ancient gritty polyester thread, and it holds really well.

This fabric looked so good that I used it twice.

In fact, I'm loving all these plaids. Even the grey!

And these are the stripes from the same collection. This is the rosette I was starting last Sunday.

I know I have more of these plaids somewhere in my stash. So, I've decided to skip the eight-pointed star blocks completely, and make 20 of these hexagon rosettes instead.

I could even re-purpose the circles I cut for the stars, and baste them to hexagons too!

Here are the first nine rosettes:

Cute, eh? Three more are cut and basted, and then I will have to start digging through the boxes in the basement.

It will still take me a while to finish the rosettes and do all the applique. But, this is the end of the handwork for the quilt, because I'm changing the last border too.

In the meantime, though, please check out all the other hand stitching happening for Slow Sunday Stitching right here at Kathy's Quilts. Happy stitching!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sunshine Flimsy

I finally got it all together today:

60" x 81" (152 x 206 cm)

When I first edited these photos several hours ago, I was having doubts. But now that I see it again, it makes me laugh. So that is a good thing! Silly and fun, I would say.

On the whole, it is darker than I expected, considering it's supposed to be a yellow and white quilt. But, it's probably more practical this way. And it is meant to be functional.

I didn't put it up on the design wall for the layout, because it is pretty big. So, these two inverse-match sunflower blocks ended up beside each other right the middle of the quilt. This was the lesser evil, because once again, those ginghams were very eye-catching, so they had to stay separated.

I hope to get this quilted and bound by the end of the month. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Brinton Hall Medallions

I am looking forward to catching up with the Slow Sunday Stitching crowd today! Last time, in June, I had made a start on Brinton Hall, a pattern by Leigh Latimore which was published in Quiltmania 107 & 108. It's been my main project this summer -- easy, lightweight stitching, perfect for the heat. The hexagon centre is all done! I have several photos. :D

The feature fabrics in the medallions are all Kaffe Collective. Well, a couple are so old they are really just Kaffe. Four of the border fabrics, the citron, purple, coral and blue, are blenders from different Tamara Kate collections for Michael Miller. I mention this specifically because they are a perfect match to the Kaffe Collective fabrics! I could not believe it. They must be the same dyes, and the weight of the fabric is perfect too. I bought them for Down in the Garden, but I think a good portion will be going in this quilt.

The dark beige "path" hexagons are leftover backing fabric from Hen Party. The fabric is much heavier, but, with the English paper piecing it went together fine. I hoped that the dark beige would make the bright colours glow, and it does!

The temptation when fussy cutting those large feature fabrics in each medallion was to put one big flower or leaf in the middle. But I found it was more interesting to have both foreground and background visible in each medallion. It seems to give a lot more depth.

The random hexagons that fill in the corners ended up with an overall impression of "red," even though there are not a lot of red fabrics in there. That was pure accident, but I'm very happy with it!

You can see that I was able to fussy cut a few of those corner hexagons, but the rest were make-do. All the Kaffe fabrics in the corners are small pieces from the scrap bin.

In fact, I was so happy with that motley red effect in the corners, that I started to think about a change in direction for the rest of the quilt. I was going to ask you all for some feedback, but yesterday I came to my senses. I will stick with my plan! Even still, I am deviating from Latimore's design, but I'll talk more about that later.

For now, here's the whole hexagon centre:

The next step is to applique it onto a solid medium blue background (Kona Blue Jay). But for today's slow stitching I am making hexagon rosettes for the first border:

Another surprising match from my stash! But much more on that next time.

Now, don't forget to check out the rest of the Slow Sunday Stitchers in the link up right here. Happy stitching!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Summer Projects

My big project this summer has been to get my 91 year old father to stop working, and more importantly, to stop driving before he killed someone. It has required heroic persistence and patience, but I am glad to say that we have succeeded! I think he has finally accepted that retirement is not that bad.

With all that going on, I have not done that much sewing this summer. Brinton Hall has made very good progress, and I'll show you that on Sunday. When I had machine time, I'd put together a block or two of Allietare. The bright Kaffe prints are really invigorating to work with:

I love the red blocks. I am less sure about the black star blocks:

I have been so tempted to sew a few together, just to see how the secondary pattern will come out. But I do want to lay out and balance the blocks properly when they're all done, so I've held off. I only have about 10 left, and then the fun will really start!

I am not sure now if I will do Bonnie Hunter's mystery again this year. I have a colour scheme in mind already, but I also have so many other projects that I really do want to finish, and some to start! So, we'll see.

My box of Kaffe fabrics has been getting a good work out with Brinton Hall. While the fabrics were out I also made one lonely butterfly for Down in the Garden:

This butterfly was going to be gold, and I had the wings fussy cut 18 months ago already. But, I lost one! The one thing that became crystal clear this summer is that I have too many things happening at the same time, and that is hurting my projects. I have made new resolutions --

  • Fewer current projects
  • No more BOMs
  • More original work

-- and we'll see how that pans out!

But in any case, this new pink butterfly matches the purple and pink/orange flowers in the block surprisingly well too:

And I still have all the wings for the second butterfly:

Then I can get back to some stitching and finish the block. I had a lot more stitching planned for this project, but I've changed my mind and decided to fill in with some extra pieced blocks instead. It's time to move on!

I bought a couple of those adult colouring books this summer, as part of my effort to get my Dad refocused on something positive. No luck! "Silly stuff," he said. He used to draw well, but maybe colour was never his strong suit. My Mom did this nice one, though:

It is totally different from how I would have done it, which is very interesting! And better, I think. I was very impressed with her turquoise and green roses. I have to see if I can use this colour scheme for a future project.

I coloured a couple too:


To me it seemed like a low-risk opportunity to try a more radical colour scheme. I've been obsessed with orange and green leaves lately. The one above is ok, but I like the second one better:

It seems like it could be a nice quilt, couldn't it? The round drawing is from Flower Mandalas by Thaneeya McArdle (New Design Originals, 2016), and the two square pages are from Magic of Flowers & Birds (Barron's).

There are two link ups on today. Please check out Ann and Cathy's Kaleidoscope of Butterflies right here. The brave Gwennie Medallion quilters are still at it too, right here. My medallion went to the basement at the end of June, and just came back up a couple of days ago. But, I've dealt with the road blocks on that one, and I hope to catch up over the next month. October 1 will be the final reveal, but I'll have updates before that.

Finally, for two days this summer we had a new lodger:

You can barely see the brown rabbit in the brown grass there. Hottest summer ever! This was right after a heavy rainfall, and the green comes back quickly. I was out checking the eavestroughs and foundations at the back of the house (still dry!). I turned around and he was right there, less than ten feet behind me. So still, he didn't even blink. Was he there the whole time? Hopefully he's moved somewhere safer now.

A week later I was taking the garbage out at dusk, and I noticed the neighbour had a new chimney. I looked again and there was not one, but two raccoons way up on the roof of the second level, with all four ears pointed straight at me! We are just grateful that they like the neighbours roof better than ours!

So, that is me mostly caught up now. As I said, Brinton Hall is well along and I'll post that on Sunday. I may need some advice...
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