Saturday, January 16, 2016

Starts and Finishes

2015 was an exciting, full, whirlwind of a year! Lots of major milestones in our family - a 30th wedding anniversary, a 30th birthday (umm, not necessarily in that order), and a 50th birthday (happy birthday, hubs!) made this year a busy one. After 16 years in a small but warm and wonderful condo we moved to a new home which started with renos to the old one and finds as the start of 2016 - five months into our new place - still hanging things on walls, saving for and buying furniture, and figuring out how we'd like to decorate. Busy, for sure, but my heart is full of gratitude each and every day.

I'm not one to make resolutions or choose a word for the year but I have decided to make my creative mantra "less scrolling, more sewing". I wish I knew where I saw it first as I'm certainly not the originator - I know I've seen it on Facebook and Pinterest and to whomever coined the phrase, thank you! Getting started on this is about finishing - I have a lot of works in progress at various stages of completion and it's high time I got a few of them done. To help motivate me, I am joining the 2016 Finish-A-Long being hosted by global group of talented and gracious bloggers. There are a couple of Canadian hosts for this year's Finish-A-Long; I'm going to get to know Stacey this year as part of a traveling quilt bee up here in the Great White North and Leanne is a fellow Albertan. I'm looking forward to encourage my fellow Canadians along in their hosting duties!

Good thing the Finish-A-Long lasts all year because I definitely have too many to attempt in one quarter. My projects go from quick & easy to quite large but I love them all and look forward to getting each one of them done.

#1 - Sunday Morning quilt

I think I am still bubbling with excitement from having had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Cheryl Arkison at one of our local guild meetings back in November. She showed so many great quilts and I was so inspired by her work! I've picked up the book she co-authored with Amanda Jean so many times but never went through with purchasing it - I have very few books because I'm hesitant to buy them unless I'm "really sure" I'll make at least a couple of the projects. After seeing Cheryl's trunk show I knew I would. She showed us her Sunday Morning quilt from the book and I loved it, absolutely loved it! It's almost not fair putting this on on the list because I have the binding half sewn on by hand already so it's pretty near completion but I thought having it on the list would help me remember to write up my process -I actually remembered to take a few pictures along the way.

#2 - Christmas Pillowcases

What? Isn't it a bit early? It is except instead of folding and putting away the fabric I bought to make them at LQS's after-Christams sale I figure it makes more sense to just get them made. That way, they'll be ready for next Christmas instead of getting aside when December's "to-do" and project list gets way too long, as it tends to do.

#3 - Traditional Christmas Quilt

Although I tend to gravitate toward modern styles of quilts and fabrics these days I still have a substantial collection of traditional fabrics and works-in-progress. When we had all our family come to our new home for Christmas I quickly realized that condo living had left me not only with a shortage of beds, but of bed linens, blankets, and quilts! How badly I wanted to be able to put a Christmas quilt on each of the many, many beds we had set up, but that just didn't happen. I'm determined to be able to do differently next year and got this older quilt top of mine quilted and the binding stitched onto the front by machine. I want to finish the binding and have it ready to go for next Christmas - like the project above, it's probably better to get this done now instead of hoping to squeeze it in during the busy holiday season.

#4 - Traditional Flannel Christmas Quilt

I had a flannel quilt kit that had languished in my sewing room since 2006. No more of that! The top is made and a backing has been pieced and it is ready for quilting. These are the scraps since it's too dark to get a good shot of the top right now but hopefully I'll be checking this one off as complete during the first quarter of this FAL.

#5 - 30th Birthday Quilt

I'd like to say the 30th birthday in question was in 2015...

I think that's a plenty ambitious list but as long as I remember "less scrolling, more sewing" I think I can get all of these projects done, and maybe even a few more!

Linking up with Leanne and the First Quarter 2016 Finish-A-Long post!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

First finishes

I have a few projects to share in this first month of the year. Some are finished, others, not completely finished but certainly presentable and functional.First up, the finished ones. Blocks for The Great Canadian Stashbusting (is that one word or two?) bee. A Ribbon Star for Stacey:

And for Mel, a block featuring Flying Geese using the awesome Cotton + Steel fabric she sent:

Stacey wanted rainbow colours with black on black background pieces - that was such a challenge! She asked us to stay away from black prints with white elements but that is all I have in my scraps bins and stash so off to the quilt shop it was, only they didn't have a lot to choose from either. I think it turned out cute even if the background has very little variety going on. For Mel's flying geese block I used a tutorial from Color Girl Quilts. Hubby and I are headed on vacation this coming week along with one of our daughters and her husband. I told daughter I'd like to make her a zipper bag for her toiletries and makeup but she has a nice sparkly one she likes so she asked if I could make something to hold her makeup brushes instead. Inspired by a silverware holder my mother-in-law made me many years ago (for taking on picnics) I came up with something I think will work.

(And no, for the record, I'm still not tired of Catnap fabrics)

The final project is my sewing room. Having spent many years sewing on the dining room table (and having to clean up each night for supper) it was an amazing blessing to move into our laundry room and make it into a sewing space for the past 15 years. At only 5' x 9' it has been functional and I've made a lot of great projects in my no-so-big space. After the offspring married and moved out for the second time (the moving out thing, not the marrying thing) my husband (and Ikea) helped me transform a vacant bedroom into my new sewing room. It's not complete yet, but it is wonderful just the same. I can't believe I am lucky enough to have somewhere like this to sew in.

I don't think I'll have any more projects to show for January (unless a suntan counts) but I think my 2015 is off to a creative and happy start!


Sunday, January 11, 2015

First Finish(es)

Today I am excited to share my first finish(es) of the year. I didn't sew as much last year as I would have liked so it's nice to have something to show already. These table runners are a class project from an Edyta Sitar (Laundry Basket Quilts) class I took on Craftsy. If you has asked me six months ago if I'd ever have a batik in my stash I would probably have said something like "never". I was at a retreat last fall, however, when I saw some of the Laundry Basket batiks in person and I thought the colours were just gorgeous. I kept thinking about them for awhile and ended up ordering some during all those wonderful Black Friday sales. During my glorious, wonderful Christmas break (I work at a college so sew were closed) I decided it was time to try a project with them.
Although I don't make resolutions, one thing I am determined to work on this year is my own style. I love blogs and other social media for all the inspiration they provide and I would say I have spent the last five years evolving my stash and my projects as a more modern style quilter. Recently, though, I find myself really "over" labels. That is another post for another day but my point is I find I quite enjoy mixing modern and traditional. I like making very traditional blocks out of modern prints. I'm not sure where batiks fit in (I can't believe they actually fit into my sewing at all!) but these runners explore that a little more. The letters are all made using batik fabrics (you have to admit those colours are beautiful) and the backgrounds are made with modern prints - in this case, Basic Grey for one...

...and Tula Pink for the other.

I ended up using batik for the binding on each because it helped me to nicely use up the 1/2 yard pieces I had started with. One runner is backed with the same Tula print and the other is a Cotton + Steel print that goes really nicely.
Small projects like this are a great way to practice free motion quilting on my machine. For the runner where I used the geometric Tula print as background I decided a curvy stipple would be a nice contrast:

On the other (which is the one backed with the C+S print shown above) I decided to try out a woodgrain quilting design, which I learned in a different Craftsy class taught by Elizabeth Dackson (Don't Call Me Betsy).
These runners are for my daughters, who both happened to have purchased homes with their hubbies in the last half year or so - they are looking for things to decorate their houses with and as practically still newlyweds I figured these runners would be nice for Valentine's Day - hope they like them!

I'll be adding batiks to more projects going forward, I think. I look forward to seeing where my explorations take me this year.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sew Sisters Blogathon

Hi! Welcome to my little piece of the quilting web. My name is Erica and if you are visiting from the Sew Sisters Blogathon you probably already know I'm from Alberta. Specifically, I'm from southern Alberta where our blast of winter is being carried away by the (not as warm as I'd like) chinook winds right now. I have been sewing and doing needlecraft as long as I can remember but quilting seems to be where it really sticks for me. My husband and I have three children who are all married and moved out on their own so we are now empty nesters running a little bit wild with all our new-found freedom. When I'm not at work and when we aren't trekking off on a trip somewhere I can be be found spending a lot of time in my sewing room. This is my husband and I at a place we frequent often on vacation:

Speaking of my sewing room, I am very excited because we are converting one of the now-empty bedrooms upstairs into a sewing space for me. Having spent many, many years setting up my machine on the end of the dining room table and clearing it each night for supper I've been thrilled to have my own little sewing space in the basement for the past several years; moving into a larger room with natural light and room for a design wall has me practically swooning - it will be like Christmas coming early and over and over again! This is my current space:

 And here is where I'm moving:

Super nice, eh? I'm very excited. We're actually renovating the entire top floor. The carpet will be installed in a couple weeks so we (and by we I mean mostly my hubby) are working to get everything ready for that. After 15 years, three kids and their friends, and several pets it was time for new carpet. Since we're pulling up the flooring anyway, we figured we would paint and - because my husband is a finish carpenter in the real world - we are replacing the half wall in our stairwell with a nice wood and spindle railing (those are some of the wooden parts leaning up against the wall).

Of course my new space requires a bit of outfitting. In my present sewing room I am spoiled having a built in sewing desk and shelving; husband is looking forward to taking that area over for his remote control planes and Go Pro hobbies so the room will go to good use but that means I have to find things that work for me in my new space. So far, I've managed to scope out these:

I need to get out a measuring tape and some graph paper to figure out what will work best - it will probably take a bit of trial and error to get it just right, but I'm up for the challenge!

Thanks for stopping by to visit and I hope you will come again. I have a few projects on the go so you will be able to see I'm a fabric lover just like you are and I actually do get a few quilts made, too!

A big shout-out to our Alberta blogathon hosts:

Kelsey @ Everyday Fray

Leanne @ She Can Quilt

Thanks to all the hosts across Canada as well!  Have a great week, everyone.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bits and Pieces

The most enduring friendships I am blessed to have are ones that have been cultivated over a long time, often in fits and spurts punctuated by less busy times or even periods of relative quiet. In those relationships, we know one another are out there but we also recognize that life can get full and other things end up taking precedence - nobody is forgotten about and no relationship is less important, it's just the way things go sometimes. I'm realizing blogging can be that way at times, too. Sometimes the silence is because there is intensity in other areas or, in my case, it's because life is just full of lots of wonderful, exciting, challenging stuff and there aren't enough hours in the day to squeeze everything in.

Hmm. Sounds like my sewing room, at times.

I have not lost my quilting mojo but I definitely got distracted, Ironically, the last five months were somewhat consumed by a project management certificate I was taking. Funny how learning to get my act together for work caused me to have it less together in the sewing room - does that seem a bit backwards to you? Me too! I'm also fairly certain my newly endowed project management skills will not prevent the quilter in me from hopping from project to project, starting things because of inspiration (darn you, Pinterest!) and the like.

My meager sewing accomplishments, of late, have been fairly limited to things I needed to finish as part of my social media group commitments ( which by the way, is totally okay). First up, my November blocks for the Happiness circle at Do Good Stitches. Our quilter asked for log cabins in mustard, aqua/light blue, and grey.

I know, you don't have to say it. Those aren't exactly log cabins, are they? Don't ask my where my mind was as I was sewing these together but let's just say there are a couple of "oops" blocks which I hope can be repurposed on the back of the quilt - sorry, Marika! Thankfully, it was an easy error to correct:

One project that has been ongoing most of this year is a result of being part of Traveling Quilts Canada. It has been such a fun experience that I would do again in a heartbeat (hint, hint!) and each month I marvel when I open the package to see what has come my way. We are at the end of our sewing journey now so the past couple of weeks I have been working on quilting and finishing one of the member's quilts. All that is left is to stitch on a label and send it home - how exciting! It wouldn't be fair for me to post a full picture before the quilt makes it to its final destination but here is a little peek - a burst of light and colour to help chase away the snow and cold temperatures.

Speaking of snow, I picked up a kit earlier this fall that probably doesn't look much like the contemporary projects I usually work on. At heart, I'm a quilter and although I prefer and tend toward a modern aesthetic, there will always be a place in my heart for traditional quilts and projects. While attending a retreat in Wisconsin back in September I saw a project I really liked and eventually came home and purchased the kit to make it. Since it is a winter-themed quilt I thought I better start getting on with it. Unfortunately, I was not as careful as I should be when fusing my wool applique to it's background:

as much as I'd like to tell you that darkened area is some kind of primitive effect I've purposely added to the fabric the scorching truth is, well, I scorched it (let this serve as a warning to Olaf about the dangers of too much warmth!) Thankfully, this block can be salvaged with a little design alteration and it will find its way into my finished quilt.

Whew, that was a fair bit of catching up and certainly more than enough for one post. I'll actually be back shortly, already, because I was invited to be part of Sew Sisters' Canadian Quilters Connect Blogathon Canada which starts tomorrow. It is an honour to be asked to join in and I look forward to meeting and revisiting other Canadian quilt bloggers this coming week - should be fun.

Stay warm (but not too warm).


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Stash - and a winner!

Weekends in the summer (especially when the weather is nice) are just so...yummy, aren't they? It seemed like winter here on the prairies went on and on and on this year but the summer weather we've been having since the start of July has been just gorgeous!

I did not bring any fabric into the stash this week but hubby and I did go up to the big city yesterday and found ourselves at Ikea (which was actually his doing) and a couple of pieces came home. They are assembled and now I have to figure out exactly what I'm going to do with them. I confess, I got caught up in the "cute factor" when I saw them and my husband (very sweet) said I should put them in the cart, so I did and the whole process wasn't particularly well thought out. Oops.

I've seen the turquoise cart all over the place online and I am impressed with it. It is very sturdy, a good size, and it rolls around smoothly. The little set of drawers are from the Alex line - I first saw them in a pretty mint green colour and wanted those but they were out of stock and in the end, I'm actually happy I picked up a white set. The aqua binder on top of the drawers is a Martha Stewart product from Staples - I fill it with page protectors and then slide my quilt patterns into them. It keeps them nice and neat and organized. Not my idea, I confess I saw Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts doing it at a class of hers I attended and copied her - but it's SUCH a good idea!

Lastly, I had a drawing from my post on Tuesday for a cute little pincushion I made from some fun project scraps - and whatever else I can find to tuck in with it. I'll be emailing Kris to give her the good news.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sewvivor - HappyFabric

Guess what? Quilter's aren't all just about 1/4" seams and "which way do you press?" Nope, we can be a lot of fun (and maybe even a little competitive) so when I heard about Sewvivor Season 3: Quilter's Edition over at FamilyEverAfter I just knew I'd have to audition.

There won't be any tropical islands (darn), insect diets (yay), or tricky alliances to work out (double yay!), just lots of sewing and fun. This is my audition post, which means I'm posting this project in hopes of earning one of 16 places in this year's Sewvivor contest. If I am successful I will make several projects over the next few weeks and hopefully not get "voted off the island" too soon.

So here is my entry for Sewvivor:

I like pillows. I like making pillows. My husband might grumble (just a little) every night about having to remove all the pillows from our bed but that doesn't stop me from making more. This pillow is actually a companion piece to a project I have planned for down the road. It is 24" square and filled with a skooshy feather insert - nom!

This pillow features some of my favourite things, not the least of which are the Henna Garden fabrics I have been collecting and stashing - these are just the best stash basics and the colours are yummy.

My pillow also features (organic) channel quilting);

Scrappy black & white binding;

and, a lovely quilted back - I like the body a quilted backing gives to pillows (and aren't those fabrics pretty?)

I'm sure you recognize the pattern as the very popular Nested Churn Dash block from Want it Need it Quilt! (quick and easy to purchase on Craftsy). I love churn dash blocks, especially when there is high contrast between the block and the background.

So there it is, my entry into the big game. We'll find out next week who the lucky contestants will be. No matter what happens, I have an awesome project to show for my time.

Check out all the other auditions over here. And stay tuned to Family Ever After for Sewvivor Season 3: Quilter's Edition.