Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mermaid Garden

Katy posted a contest on her blog last week and today I was looking for an excuse to avoid work for a bit, so I decided to join in. Okay. That isn't true. I don't generally need to look for an excuse.  =) I am so grateful that I get to work from home most of the time but there are times when I just need to let my mind wander (not too far though, wouldn't want to lose it altogether) so I can reset my focus on what needs to get done. At this point in time, I'm finishing the updates and edits on some instructional materials and after working on nine courses, they are starting to blend with one another. Time for some fresh air and fabric inspiration!

The assignment (oh...did I go off on a tangent? Again?) was to select twelve fabrics from the shops of Pink Castle Fabrics and create a bundle. My very own bundle! The palette I worked from is similar to the colour scheme I am going to use for my daughter's wedding quilt. She loves the beach and loves to swim, and her colour preferences are evocative of the sea, I think. While I do a lot of writing to earn my living, I do not tend to venture into the realm of creative writing (except maybe on a few reports I may have written....) and while I love to create, I don't consider myself particularly creative. I'm working at that. Anyway. I needed to name my bundle. The fabrics are all very ocean-y, save for one, which left me thinking I should probably avoid any water references when naming this grouping. I finally decided to 
call my bundle "Mermaid Garden".

The other part of the assignment is to keep track of all the fabrics selected for the bundle. Starting with the top left corner and working across the rows, I selected the following:

Metro Living Lattice in Dusty Blue
Alexander Henry Heath in Chartreuse
Pezzy Prints in Lime
Moda Bella Solid in Betty's Teal
Aviary II Woodgrain in Dill Green
Moda Bella Solid in Terrain Cactus
Pezzy Prints in Indigo

That's all of them! It was a fun making the mosaic. I ended up downloading more photos than I needed but as I put the compilation together, it became evident there were some that just didn't look right.

The contest ends March 31 - you still have time! Thank you to Katy and to Brenda at Pink Castle Fabrics for their fun idea and their generosity!


Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm It!

Debbie, who blogs over at A Quilter's Table, tagged me a couple days ago. Yesterday, we ended up going to the "big city" to the north of us to take in a performance by the Blue Man Group with our son and his wife so it didn't leave much time to write a proper blog post.

Alas, it's Monday, and since I have nothing really to show for my weekend, answering the questions helps me come up with a post that I hope will be at least somewhat interesting!

I was asked...

1. What is your favorite color to use in quilting? Sure, a difficult question right off the bat! I would say ocean colours, so blue-greens in various levels of saturation and value.
2. Where would you like to visit in the U.S. that you've never been before? Boston. I have been to nearly 40 different states, including Alaska and Hawaii, but I have not spent any time in New England, and I would like to.
3. How old is the car you drive most? Two years old. It's filthy dirty right now. I'm glad I wasn't asked to post a photo of it.
4. What's the last movie you saw and would you recommend it? Safe House, with Denzel Washington. Don't go! Don't rent it! There has got to be something playing in re-runs that is better than this film. I had high hopes, considering the leading man, but those hopes were dashed. I kept waiting for a unique twist or turn; it didn't happen.
5. What makes a day great? Sunshine and blue sky!
6. What is your favorite snack? Chips and dip. With a side of Lindor!
7. Besides quilting, do you have other hobbies? Baking, cooking, reading, hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and travel!
8. What is your least favorite household chore? Dusting. I hate it. One of my Saturday morning chores as a kid was to do the dusting. My mom had lots and lots of knick knacks and I had to pick each one up, dust it, then dust the place where it sat. I hate dusting. I live on the bald prairie - I actually dust a lot!
9. Where would you live if you could? In a historical district of a European city - Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, or Copenhagen would do.
10. What is your favorite quilt you've made? I love the two Yellow Brick Road quilts I made for my girls' boyfriends this past Christmas. I think it is because both boys really loved their gifts, so I see the quilts being used on a constant basis.
11. What's your "wake up" beverage of choice? Coffee. Stat. Now. Please. Thanks.

Now...I should probably tag someone, but while I lurk on a lot of blogs, I don't know any of the writers well enough to tag them. Debbie tagged several bloggers, so if you want to learn about some more people, just visit her post here.
I did finish pulling fabrics for the strip quilt I mentioned in my last post. And I still haven't pressed that piece of inspiration fabric. Lame. In the end, one of the original fabrics didn't make the cut. It was a Hope Valley piece that was just too muddy for the mix. I found some Fig Tree fabrics which I think really help to lighten up the grouping - after all, it's still a baby quilt. The fabrics are currently going for a spin in the washer and will have a date with the iron tonight. I can't wait to get working on this!

Happy Monday!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Learning curve

Always learning. That's me. I loved school as a kid and still enjoy it very much.I'm a graduate student, and I work at a college - I'm kind of surrounded, and I don't think I'd have it any other way. Lest you think I don't, I also learn plenty of stuff the hard way!

This week, I stumbled onto a series of posts over at Jeni's blog In Color Order about choosing colours/fabrics for a quilt with some stash development and organizing tips thrown in as a bonus. I've learned a little bit about colour in years gone by, but Jeni's lessons are really great for brand new quilters right through to those with plenty of experience. The main post is here, and following the links will take you to the various topics she covers. I learned some great stuff reading through all of her posts the past few days (ummm, kind of a work avoidance tactic, if you know what I mean).

One blog which never fails to inspire me is Film in the Fridge. I love her ideas, and her photos showcase her incredible talent so beautifully. It's pretty much a given that I'll "ohh" and "ahh" every time I visit her page. She has made several strip quilts, and posted the photos so we can admire them. I volunteered to make a baby quilt for a silent auction being put on by the Rotary club I belong to. I know I don't have a lot of time and when I saw a photo of one of Ashley's strip baby quilts, I knew I'd found the right project. This also gave me a chance to use one of Jeni's colour lesssons on how to choose your fabrics based around a single, focus print.

I very reluctantly tore myself away from my desk and dragged myself over to my stash (what I really mean is I skipped like a bunny immediately!) to see what I might have that would serve as an inspiration. I searched a bit and came up with an older Sandi Henderson print that I thought might work. Ashley discussed choosing the fabrics for her strip quilts (there are many! go see for yourself) and suggested choosing several prints that work together and throwing in a few solids for interest. Jeni suggests referencing those coloured dots on the selvedge as a way of pulling out the colours. 

Although my husband would disagree on this point, I actually didn't find enough fabrics to pull from what I have on hand. In some cases, it is simply that I have a fat quarter instead of having a piece the full width of the fabric. There are other colours for which I don't have a large variety, thus limiting my choices.

Here is what I came up with. At first, I separated the prints from the solids and stacked them on top of the inspiration fabric.

Hmm, I should have pressed that piece of my focus print! I didn't doubt that everything went together fairly well, but I was a bit "meh" about my composition. Then, inspiration struck, and I decided to lay out my stack in the same order as those coloured dots on the selvedge.

Rearranging the prints in that order really brings the scheme together, 
don't you think?

As you can see, the stack of prints is lacking in yellow, light(er) pink, aqua, and the smoke colour. Looking at this photo, I'm almost certain I have a green and the salmon/terra cotta shade to add as solids, but no pink or aqua. In Canada, fabric is sold by the metre, and many shops will cut in .1 metre increments, which is about 4". Ashley says she uses strips anywhere from 1 1/4" to 6" wide so a few 4" x WOF pieces should do me just fine. I really want to be be mindful of my fabric spending, and work from my stash as much as possible, but I can find the budget for a few strips to supplement this stack. I am really looking forward to getting started on this project. We have snow on the ground today; this cheerful palette is a great antidote!

Much love to all the creative bloggers out there, and thank you, for continuing to share and inspire!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Small Finish

Every winter, after we recover from Christmas and the rest of the holidays, the online group I belong to puts together our annual Friendship Swap.  This was started many years ago, after one of our members passed away very suddenly. Until now, we have always swapped blocks. This year, however, it was suggested that we swap for a finished item. Many of us agreed we haven't gotten around to sewing all those blocks together from previous years and we also agreed how much we enjoy looking at the other, finished items we  have swapped over the years. So, as an experiment, we decided we would swap pillows. Rather than pack up bulky pillows and mail them around the country and across the border, we agreed on an 18" form as our standard. Each participant created an 18" pillow cover and we only have to mail that. 
I thought it was a great idea.

Our group formed because of a mutual enjoyment of Thimbleberries patterns and fabrics. To date, Lynnette Jensen (the woman behind Thimbleberries) writes some of the best patterns I have ever worked from. The instructions are always clear and the diagrams are very helpful. Her fabrics are rich with colour, and I still have a great stash. But, like many quilters, my tastes have changed, and while Thimbleberries fabrics and patterns do not draw me as they used to, my group of online friends is still very special to me. I appreciate the fellowship of other quilters and am blessed to have met several of them 
in person, on different occasions.

A standard requirement of our swaps is that the items must be made using Thimbleberries fabrics. This is for a couple reasons; one, it is our common interest and so it should meet the taste of everyone in the group. The second reason is about quality control; when we stipulate a certain type of fabric, we can all rest assured we aren't exchanging our hard work and 
quality materials for something inferior.

My stash made this an easy project. My swap partner asked for blues and browns. Some time ago, I had bookmarked this Ribbon Star block tutorial over at Freshly Pieced. I made the block, added some borders and it really didn't take long before I had a completed pillow top.

If I were to make this again, I think I would decrease the width of the neutral border and increase the width of the blue border on the front. I think the blue is getting a little lost. Having said that, I am very happy with how it turned out. Time to strip it off the pillow form and get it packed up and mailed to it's new home. I think it's a great block. The tutorial shows it made in a terrific assortment of modern fabrics but it looks equally as nice in these traditional prints and colours. I think I'll be making this block again.

Hope your Sunday is a nice one.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sewing time...

I love going on vacation (I think most people do) but it always seems to keep me away from the sewing room, before and after. I think I'm finally getting caught up enough to spend some time, today, at the sewing machine.

We usually drive over the border and fly out of Great Falls, Montana when we go on vacation. I don't begin to understand airline ticket pricing, but suffice to say fares come out much less expensive if we fly out of the US. For us, the drive is equal to flying out of the nearest major airport here in Canada. Hotels are less expensive, too, and they let us park our car for free while we are away, so factoring everything in, it really is a less costly way for us to go. One of the things I like best about our method is stopping at the post office just inside the U.S. border. We aren't the only Canadians to have a box there, not by a long shot. It is like Christmas morning when we go; I am participating in Pink Chalk Fabric's monthly Charming Solids club. I think the club is sold out, but you can still purchase coordinating solid bundles for each of the lines from their website. I was excited to pick up my first two shipments. I was not disappointed! Each month, I will receive two charm packs and six coordinating fat eights of solid fabric. The January and February installments were waiting for me.

Domestic Bliss and Good Fortune, both by Moda.

I am in a big quilt phase right now. I am not much for putting small quilts on my tables and walls - I don't really have the surfaces and it's just not my taste. I like lap size and bigger quilts which can be used. With cats, dogs, and people there is always someone looking for something to burrow under. I have a couple ideas for these charm packs; as usual, more ideas and inspiration than time! I have to finish a couple items with deadlines, but then hopefully I'll be back with photos using the above!

Have a great week.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Need a vacation...

...from my vacation! I think that happens to a lot of us where we come home, looking to get some rest! My husband and I returned from vacation yesterday. We went on a cruise and then spent a few days at one of our most favourite places. Now it is time to catch up with the kids and the pets, get the laundry done, and hopefully make my way back to the sewing room. Tonight, I'll remember this pretty view from one of our shore excursions last week.

Tomorrow is soon enough to come back to reality!

Happy weekend.