Showing posts with label 150 Canadian Women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 150 Canadian Women. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Decision Time

More HSTs for Hanami

I am not a good multi-tasker, but this winter I needed about 2000 HSTs for three projects, and that is a lot of repetitive work. (About half are done now.) So, I downloaded some of Pat Sloan's podcasts from All People Quilt. There was a great interview with Gwen Marston on February 6, which I recommend. What's the difference between liberated quilting and improv quilting? None. There is no difference, says Gwen. I love her common sense approach!

I also enjoyed Pat's discussion with Linda Thielfoldt in the same podcast. Linda has been cleaning out her studio, and has some helpful thoughts on how to make decisions about what to keep and what to let go.

Since I finished Hen Party I've been thinking that it's time to stop jumping on every shiny project that comes along, and to get real about what the quilt is for, and how it will be used. So, I've pared things down to two basic categories:
  1. Quilts for Use -- throw quilts and bed quilts
  2. Quilts for Art -- wall quilts
When I thought about my requirements for those two categories, several of my projects started to change, and some dropped away. Quilts for Use have to be durable and not too precious, with no fragile embroidery or applique. Quilts for Art, on the other hand, have to be non-trivial, there has to be something special about them. And, they have to be smaller! There is nowhere in our house where you can hang a bed sized quilt on the wall.

Improv quilts will work well in both categories. My Gwennie Medallion is something that I will be quite happy to hang on the wall...

...when it's done. ;) One of a kind, original, graphic -- improv sounds like art to me.

Two recent projects are going to the orphan block box. The first is the half scale version of Brinton Hall that I started for my guild challenge:

I just don't think this will hold its own as an art piece. You have to be very close to see the embroidery, and when you stand back it feels drab. Plus, I still have the big one for the bed.

The second one to bite the dust is the 150 Canadian Women quilt along, which is not feeling good to me any more. 30 blocks are done:

I was not thrilled when I realized that this quilt was excluding important women in Canadian history, such as Laura Secord and Elizabeth Simcoe, because they were not born in Canada. I admit I did not read that part of the introduction very carefully! But last week's inclusion of Helen MacMurchy was the final straw for me.

The challenge of history is that when you go back far enough, you will almost always find something unpalatable by today's standards. MacMurchy was a significant figure for women's rights in Canada, so I understand why she was chosen. But she is not my choice, she does not represent the Canada that I want to live in going forward, and I don't think it is sufficient to say "those were the times then." This would be a quilt that I am making today, for the future. I don't want to spend the rest of the year turning over rocks in Canadian history, and making excuses for inexcusable things, so I'm going to let this one go.

On a brighter and completely different note, I've implemented a new plan for all my hourglass blocks. Last time you saw this project, I was sewing the hourglasses as leaders and enders on Allietare. That worked great, and all 896 of them were finished last year. BUT...

...the vast majority of them still required trimming. And I baulked.

I think I made a big mistake when I decided to make a large, time consuming project from fabrics I didn't like. For six months I've been thinking of ways to make it nicer. Different settings, applique... nothing seemed worth the effort.

Then last week I was thinking deep thoughts about improv, and I thought it could be a great solution for the hourglasses. Before I could change my mind again, I started to sew:

I just sewed together the untrimmed hourglasses, and used scissors to clean up the seam allowances. It turned out that a row of eight untrimmed hourglasses was about the same length as nine trimmed ones. I like those offset rows quite a bit!

My "plan" is to play around with different settings of the hourglasses, and make brick-shaped blocks like this. I've been admiring the green in Kaja's latest work, and I think I'll use something similar for narrow sashing between the big bricks. We'll see!

I've been keeping some of the hourglasses in a project box on top of my wardrobe, for "easy access."

This has been the situation for six months. Maybe there has been some creation going on up there when I wasn't looking! The Improv box has some of my early improv letters and words, and I've decided to stick them in this quilt with the hourglasses too. Would the embroidered roses from the Brinton mini work as well? Probably not, but we'll see.

Anyway, I'm still aiming for queen sized with this quilt. I like it so much better now, that even the fabrics don't seem so bad!

And I'm glad to be back at AHIQ. Please check out everyone else's work at the link up right here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pi Day

So, it's Pi Day (3.14), and I think I will take the opportunity to do a little catch up. First, here's a photo of new progress on an old, old UFO -- with circles -- that I've been working on again this winter:

This was the first project that I shared on my blog, back in 2011. I am amused to see that I also thought it would be my first quilt finish! One of the best things about blogging is that we can look back and see how we ourselves have changed over time.

It was a lot of fun to make the yoyos, and it was even pretty fun to applique them all to the batik strips. But, sewing those strips together with all the lumpy yoyos is quite a stinker, and I was completely stumped about how to quilt the big bulky thing. I think it may be the most impractical quilt ever! How will I wash it?

But the instructions are excellent -- the designer Terry Atkinson must have spent days doing math to get the yoyos all spaced so evenly. So that is a good fit for Pi Day! And as it comes together, I can see that it will be gorgeous, even if it only spends its time folded on the edge of a couch somewhere.

I'm halfway, and I've decided that two rows a day will be manageable. Right now, though, I am putting the borders on Allietare. And it's looking good too!

After I sewed the last seams and spread the centre out on the bed, I got out the tape measure. The moment of truth! The length and width of this square quilt were exactly the same, so that is the quilting equivalent of a "drop the mike" moment. I immediately put the tape measure away again!

And hey, aren't these cherries a good fit for Pi Day?

They are one of the easier blocks in the 150 Canadian Women quilt along, in honour of Canada's 150th birthday in 2017. I've been relaxed about this project, because so far it's been easy to sew two weeks' worth of blocks in one sitting. But I've noticed that the blocks are getting harder! So I want to get a little more caught up.

I've really been enjoying this project, and learning so much about significant women in Canadian history, who were never mentioned when I took history in school.

This maple leaf, with the light sky blue background and two kinds of stars, is for Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space.

Mostly I am sticking to the red & white colour scheme of the quilt, with just a few exceptions. These light grey and red floral fabrics just happened to be piled together in the cupboard. I liked how they looked, so now they are together in a block!

At the end of the day, another seven are done:

Pi Day will be a Sew Day here, in the deep freeze with some superfine, cold blowing snow. Not bad for us, since the worst of the snow is south and east of here. A Snow Day for many, so stay warm and stay safe, wherever you may be. :D

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Happy Christmas!

To round off the week I've mostly caught up on the 150 Canadian Women quilt along that is being offered by Kathryn Wilson Tucker at Next Step Designs. You can see that I have succumbed to the temptation to start fussy cutting a few of the blocks! The maple leaf batik is by Cantik batiks, a special release for Canada's 150th birthday in 2017.

I was too lazy to dig out any Christmas fabrics this week, but this red plaid is a little festive. And I am fussy cutting it again! (Brinton Hall was the first time, here.)

One of the required blocks is a basic Shoo Fly.

3 by 3...

...switch out the middle and lay down the triangles in the corners...

...sewing lines lightly marked in pencil...

...keep everything pointed the same way...

...and hey, presto! Shoo Fly block.

Editing the photo, I can see the middle row is too wide, but I'm going to leave it. The yellow and tan lines are the main thing, and the rest will vanish into the seams.

And, here's the whole next batch. I may not keep that flower on the bottom left. We'll see how it looks in the final layout!

I'm sure it would be lovely to photograph all the blocks together, this set and the previous one, but I want to avoid handling the blocks too much. It's going to be a long year.

I've realized that this is four new projects in the past month -- this one, Flamingos en Provence, Wild & Goosey, and Cheddar Broken Dishes. All queen-sized quilts, and all 100% machine pieced. Since I wrecked my back in October, I have not been able to hand stitch almost anything. The ergonomics just aren't working for me. But, I have a very good chair for the machine, and it is almost like physical therapy for my back to sit and machine sew for a couple of hours. More fun than a gym!

So all my hand stitching projects are on indefinite hold, which has taken out most of my current projects. And, I've started to think about things I could do by machine instead. Like binding for sure. And maybe applique... I even think a little free motion quilting may be doable soon. Overall, it's different, but not bad. New things to try!

Happy holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

New Project, New Plan

If you didn't already know, 2017 will mark Canada's 150th birthday. I think every quilter on the planet will know soon enough, because the deluge of red & white and maple leaf-themed quilts has already started!

So far, I've managed to stick with my own projects. In January my plan is to pull out these maple leaf blocks from 2014...

...and do something improv-y with them. I already have a fun idea. Or, maybe I should say that was my plan. Thanks to that horrible temptress Quilter Kathy, today I finally laid eyes on the full layout for the 150 Canadian Women quilt along, which I'd been avoiding, and which you can see here.

The decision process was very fast! Yes, two months ago I said that I was done with BOMs and quilt alongs, but you know, I hope I can also recognize a good thing when I see it. This quilt will be a classic.

So, while this was my nice easy plan for today, the last seam on the last units for Week 2 of En Provence...

...instead I went down to my stash in search of a suitable creamy background fabric. This was right on top...

...and so was that scruffy pink piece, so I grabbed that too. I knew the cream fabric was perfect right away. Why?


Yes, there's still one day left in the Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up, and I have a butterfly-shaped hole in my line up right now, because I really haven't been able to hand stitch since my back went out in October. So this should keep me going for a while. Please check out the much better butterfly and kaleidoscope photos that everyone else in the link up has posted!

I have enough of this fabric to do all the block backgrounds as well as the sashing, but before I even climbed up all the stairs I knew that using just one background would be too flat for me. I love the depth I managed to get in my first quilt, the nine patch, by using a wide range of backgrounds, some lighter and some darker than the setting fabric. That will be the plan again, and a really wide range of "reds" to go with them.

I started with my Allietare leftovers (good reds!), and then pulled in some other scraps from the bin:

This really was a very enjoyable day. My goal was to make three blocks, and I made seven. With all those scraps in front of you, it's fun to see what looks good together, and how much you can squeeze out of that last tiny piece.

It looks a little grey in the photos, but there is quite a yellow tinge to the background fabric, so I will probably stay on the warm side with my reds. I'm hoping to bring in a little of everything -- modern, traditional, 30s reproductions, batiks...maybe Christmas too. Why not? With luck the blocks will reflect whatever else I am sewing at the time. And I'm going to make an effort to use real scraps from the bin, not yardage.

150 blocks, 3 blocks per week. The patterns are free for two weeks, and you will find them here. The designer, Kathryn Wilson Tucker, has named each block for a pioneering Canadian woman, and includes a brief history with each pattern. They make interesting reading! I sincerely hope she will be able to get a book deal for the quilt sometime this year. It would be great to keep the book along with the quilt. When it's done!

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