Oh look, a quilt

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything about quilting. This is mostly because I have bad habit of only making the quilt top and not actually finishing the quilt. Or, as it is in this case, I finish it and then neglect to send it for months and months and months, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

I made a quilt using the Raw Edge Circle quilt tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew. I made the blocks well over a year ago and then put together the top a year ago, but I didn’t actually finish it until last spring.

It’s a great scrappy quilt and we had fun picking out the fabrics and mixing them up to avoid repeats of fabric combinations. I did get annoyed at the occasional pucker when I sewed the circles onto the squares, but it was a fairly easy process.

Prepping to sew the last few blocks of a quilt I'm making for my nephew, and I'm reminded of how wrinkled the first one turned out. Blah.

One of the things I love about it for a kids quilt is that you can select a huge variety of fun fabrics. The quilt has farm animals, scientists, swirls, mini wildlife, robots and so much more. No matter what the kid is interested in, he’s bound to find something he loves in the quilt.

A fun quilt I made using Cluck Cluck Sew's tutorial for a Raw Edge Circle quilt.

I am not good at getting some projects done in a timely fashion. It’s a little embarrassing. But, the parents think it’s lovely and the kid is too young to care that I took for ever, so all’s well in the end. And, now I have a relatively quick and fin idea for a quilt for myself when I’ve accumulated enough bits of the right colours for my home.

It occurs to me that I haven't shared pictures of this quilt (one that I finished ages ago, but only just sent to the recipient today). The label's a bit wonky, but the quilt is pretty fantastic.

Kids books and a Christmas quilt for my niece

A couple weeks before my co-worker left for mat leave, we had a relaxed lunch and spent some time hanging out in the children’s section of Audrey’s Books. The woman who works in the kids section knows ALL THE THINGS! All we had to do was tell her what we were looking for and she knew exactly what books we needed to look at.

I bought two books (three actually, but the third is a gift for later and I don’t want to ruin to surprise):

The Dinosaur Christmas book is, quite frankly, a whole lot of epic dinosaur fun. It’s all about all the different types of dinosaurs Santa used before he had reindeer pulling the sleigh. The story is great and the illustrations are gorgeous. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to send it to my friend’s three boys (despite it being a bit young for at least one of them). I also threw in a book store gift certificate, because they’re really bright boys who deserve lots of great books. Their mom let me know what they bought with the gift certificate, and they had a great selection: two Rick Riordan books (which I’ve since added to my “to read” list), a book about ancient Egypt and a book about oceans. If they weren’t on the other side of the country, I’d drop by and have a read.

The Gingerbread Mouse is a sweet story of a mouse whose house is destroyed in a winter storm. She moves into a gingerbread house and eventually gets her own place from Santa. It’s a very sweet book with lovely illustrations. I bought it for my niece and decided that a Christmas quilt would be the perfect addition, so that she can curl up with mom or dad to read all her Christmas stories.

I’ve been hoarding some fun Christmas fabrics for the past year or two. I keep meaning to make gift bags out of it (except for a few special lovely pieces that will become a lap or mini quilt / wall hanging for myself), but I just keep not getting around to it. Thank goodness for that, because I used half of it in this quilt.

I was going to just do a simply quilt with all square blocks, but decided to liven things up by starting with large blocks, sewing four together, and then cutting them up into nine blocks. This made the quilt a little more time consuming, which bit me in the arse in the end, as I was already later getting it done thanks to a mightily awful cold at the beginning of December.

Giant quilt block, ready to be cut
Making quilt blocks
Quilt blocks

Once I had all my blocks, did my best to randomize them, laid them out, played with making it all perfect (not too many matching colours of patterns butting up against each other)

"Random" distribution is a bit of an art

… and then proceeded to screw everything up. I managed to get each row sewn properly, but then I kept sewing the rows together incorrectly (sewing the 5th to the bottom of the 6th instead of the top, etc.). I didn’t notice until I finished, spread it out and saw a big, giant blob of dark green in the middle.

Distribution issues: I couldn't live with that big green blob in the middle

I didn’t have time to tear out all the seams – it was already really later and I really needed to send it the next day to ensure Christmas delivery. So, I just tore out the middle seam and swapped the top with the bottom. It’s ok, but it will forever annoy me that it’s how it was supposed to be.

Anyway, I had some great fabric with dots (including gold!) for the back. I did a diagonal zigzag following the blocks for the quilting and used some lovely dark green snowflake fabric for the binding (you can see the zigzag a bit better in the picture of the back of the quilt, which I included below).

Done: Christmas quilt

Here’s where the other screw up came. I tried to use a binding method that I had read was quick and easy. Only, it wasn’t. It was ok, once I got the hang of it (by the third edge), but the first edge is, frankly, an embarrassment. It looks like a drunk 5 year old did the sewing. But, again, I did not have time to fix it.

Crappy binding job

But, in the end, the quilt looks pretty good and I’m pretty sure my two year old niece doesn’t know enough about quilting to care about the little imperfections (she’s probably more interested in the cute penguins). And, my sister-in-law is too polite to mention anything :)

Done: Christmas quilt top
Done: Christmas quilt  back

One thing I really need to do for next year, if I intend on doing handmade gifts, is actually start things before winter. I’m currently working on a list and hope to at least get some of the simpler ones down before then end of this winter. Plus, I’ll be using the products of at least one of the stitch alongs I plan to join as a gift (they are Christmas themed).

Safari Quilt

My co-worker and unofficial gym cheer leader had a baby before Christmas (9.9 freaking pounds!) and I offered to make her a baby quilt. A lot of people think that you should surprise the mom-to-be with a quilt, but I know her well enough to know that she likes things to be well decorated, etc. but not well enough to have seen the nursery in person. So, I decided that it was better to let her be a part of the planning.

I have a great little book by Aimee Ray, Doodle Stitching: Embroidery & Beyond: Crewel, Cross Stitch, Sashiko & More, and it has a really lovely simple quilt with forest animals, trees, and such cross stitched on some of the blocks. I really wanted to use this pattern, but the animals were all wrong: my co-worker was doing a safari-esque theme, and these were temperate forest species. So, I sat down one night and played with making some safari animal cross stitch charts: a hippo, monkey, crocodile (or, possibly alligator), giraffe, tiger, and lion. I used these patterns to replace most of the forest animals, but kept the birds, trees, leaves, etc.

This is the final product.

Safari quilt front

Here are the animals I designed.

Alligator ... or, possibly crocodile

This quilt involved stitching with waste canvas. I found it relatively easy to use, but had some difficulty keeping my crosses even (as evident with some of the wonky stitching). It’s definitely something that needs to be done with care. It makes a grid to follow, but you have to be careful to hit the same point of the grid each time (I aimed for the centre of each grid block), which is sparingly difficult when you’re up late stitching.

WIP: Oh Deer! quilt

I’m working on another quilt top (because I don’t already have enough half done quilt tops or quilt projects!). THis time I’m working with Moda’s Oh Deer! fabric collection. I bought 3 charm packs (which were on sale, w00t!), some yardage of the fabric that’s brown with birds (Sparrow in Bark), and some yardage of, which matches very closely to the green (Bella Solid in Chartreuse). The Sparrow in Bark will be the backing and the solid green will be the binding (I opted for simplicity, this time – I just want a border that doesn’t distract too much from the fabrics).

The first thing I always do with pre-cuts is sort everything by print (in charms packs and such there are often multiples of at least a few of the fabrics), then colour and/or pattern. It’s a bit tedious, but it’s worth it, because you can see what your working with, or, if you want to do a random quilt, make sure everything is more or less randomly distributed.

Sorting fabric for my next project.

In doing this, I realized that I hada pretty good collection of 6 main colours: brown, green, blue, red, pink, and orange. I was tempted to just use those, but I wanted to add at least the florals. I was undecided abotu the stripes.

WIP: Oh Deer! quilt colours

If I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do by this point, or if I want to do something a bit complicated, I usually sketch it out (sometimes with colour, though my experience has been that you still need to lay things out to test ideas, especially when working with patterns). I always come up with great ideas, but they don’t always translate very well (especially when working with a collection of various patterns – it can be really hard to see patterns, like stripes, when each block is a slightly different variation of more or less the same colour).

WIP: Oh Deer! quilt ideas sketches

This is the first idea. It’s pretty standard, a little boring, and not what I really wanted. Also, at this point, I decided that I definitely didn’t want to include the stripes. Their nice, but they don’t really match the rest, which are more “organic” by virtue of being animals and flowers (except for the dots, which I think only work because they’re round).
WIP: Oh Deer! idea #1

So, I axed the stripes, and tried doing a bit of a floral burst in the middle, surrounded by (sort of) stripes of the colours. I definitely like the segregation of the blue/green/brown from the red/pink/orange, but you really can’t see the stripes. It just looks like I did a bad job of mixing the colours. (Oh, man, this is a bad picture!)
WIP: Oh Deer!  idea #2

I love the floral burst and decided to keep it. Then I realized that I just needed to keep it simple: blobs of colour. I removed on of the prints I had in the brown collection (because it had to much blue, which made the blobs a bit confusing) and tried to payout the fabrics so things were random (which was a bit difficult, as I had so much of the print with the deers and only 15 pieces for each colour – less for the brown as I had removed the bluer ones).
WIP: Oh Deer! the winning idea

I decided that I really love this last one. You get a good feel of the fun fabrics and the colours. It’s also relatively simple, but not too typical (like the first one). So, I quickly gathered up the fabrics by row and I’m now ready to start sewing.

WIP: Oh Deer! ready to sew

WIP: Taste the Salt Air

I posted last week about a new project with a embroidered block by Hey Paul Studios. All my fabric arrived, but I clearly need to find a replacement for one of the blues. Despite how they looked online (after much searching for accurate-ish depiction of the colours) and in the wee 1 inch swatches I have, the dusty blue and sky blue just aren’t close enough to work. I’ll have to take some time this weekend to figure out what to replace the sky blue with.

Taste the Salt Air fabric, V1.0

The chocolate, stone and bone are exactly what I was looking for!

WIP: Architectures quilt

While I was in Ottawa in May, we made a pit stop at The Running Stitch, which is  quickly becoming one of my favourite quilting stores, despite being about 3,400km away. I found one last, lonely jellyroll of Architectures.

WIP: Architectures quilt

I know that I have complained in the past about how much I hate precuts, but I think the real problem is poorly cut precuts and not understanding how to deal with poorly cut fabric. Now that I have a few quilts under my belt and have learned to deal imperfectly cut fabric (even I can be a bit lazy about precision), I’m a little more willing to work with precuts – especially if I just want to whip out a quickie.

Tablets: useful for travel and keeping an image of your quilt layout handy, while you sew

So, I bought the jellyroll and a (generous) bit of extra yardage for the backing and binding. Back in June, I planned the quilt, sorted the strips and sewed the first set of 5 together. It’s been a few weeks, but yesterday I plowed through sewing the strips, cutting, organizing blocks, and piecing everything together.

WIP: Architectures quilt

I was rushing a bit, which was a mistake because I accidentally cut some blocks at the wrong length. I had planned to have just two block sizes – 10×10 and 10×20. My mistake left me with 10×10 and 10×15, so I took the left overs and added a third size, 10×5. Because of this, the quilt top is a bit busier than I had intended, but I still really like it.

WIP: Architectures quilt, backing and binding

I probably won’t finish the quilt for a few weeks, but when I do I plan to use the raspberry cross hatch fabric for the back, with a little bit of the navy hand writing and the last two blocks left over from the quilt top. I’ll then be using the navy-on-white terrain fabric for the binding. I’m thinking about either adding a small border with the terrain fabric or doing extra wide binding. I think that I need to lay it all out (and make sure I have enough of the fabric). Whatever I do, I love this quilt – it’s simple, the fabric is great, it will add a little more colour to my apartment, and it’s just about the perfect size for a lap quilt. Also, orange! People who know me while be impressed that I let something orange happen to my decor :)

Taste the salt air

Back in the spring (yes, *months* ago), Kristen of Hey Paul Studios stitched up a simple muslin quilt block for me, which says “taste the salt air” (inspired by the fact that I really miss the taste of the ocean air … and, yes, it is salty). I’ve had it hanging on my quilt wall ever since, because I couldn’t decide what to do with it. In retrospect, I think I was over thinking it. It’s beautifully done, so I was tempted to find something amazing to do with it. But, it’s a simple piece and I’m a simple gal, so what I really needed was a simple idea.

*Finally* decided what to do with this stitched quilt block by @heypaul Just need to pick colours. Hand dyed would be best, but that ain't gonna happen :)

I sat down and made a few random sketches of ideas ranging from far too complicated for my skill level to just plain boring. In the end, I settled on something in between. The base of it will just be a simple quilt of medium sized squares (about 4-5 inches) with just a few colours.

I struggled with colour choices. I knew that I wanted to have ocean colours and at least one of them had to match the muslin (so that the stitched block wouldn’t look out of place), but my version of ocean colours is different from the stereotypical ocean teals and tans. The beach I spent my summers on had deep blue water and orangy coloured sandbars.

Bird posse

I love the darker blues (a result of more nutrient rich waters), but I’m not a big fan of the orange-brown sand colours. After struggling with colour options for a while, I abandoned my swatches and browsed my RSS feeds. Coincidentally, Design Seeds happened to post this lovely colour scheme.


Despite the fact that we’re back to the tropical teals and tans, I love this collection. In an ideal world, I would be able to find these exact colours. But, I just couldn’t find colours close enough. I did. however, stumble upon a perfect colour scheme while trying to find something similar. It’s a bit more on the blue side, which makes me happy, and includes a nice deep brown, which I love. The colours I ended up picking are: Bone (to match the muslin), Stone, Coffee, Teal, Dusty Blue, and Sky.

Colour choices for an upcoming project
I could be really lazy and just do a simple quilt with random blocks of colour.

Ideas for my Taste the Salt Air quilt

I could also be uber organized and sort the colours to represent the ocean and the beach.

Ideas for my Taste the Salt Air quilt

I even considered doing “blobs” of the blues surrounded by the browns, but decided that it wouldn’t work for this quilt. In the end, I settled on something a little random and a little more interesting then simple blocks.For some reason (maybe the inclusion of rectangles), this reminds me of shingles and our family cottage has a room with shingles.

Ideas for my Taste the Salt Air quilt

It looks a little weird in the quick sketch I did, but I think it will look really great when I put it together. I’ll include the stitched block somewhere near the bottom right hand corner and do simple quilting (I may even go hog wild and do hand stitched quilting, but I’m not making any promises because that sounds like a lot of work). In the end, I hope to just have something smallish (not a mini quilt, but maybe not as big as a lap quilt), depending on my mood. If it’s small enough, I will hang it. Otherwise, it will be a welcome addition to my sofa.



I shared a few pictures of Frank last week, and I’m happy to say that he’s complete!

Ladies & gentlemen, say hello to Frank. #Halloween #quilting

I had a hard time stitching around all the complicated curves (and, if you look closely, there are definitely a few mistakes and uneven lines), but he still looks awesome. I might do Sally (my original idea and inspiration, because of her patchwork dress and construction) and Jack from the Nightmare Before Christmas next year.

I added some hilarious spider pompoms to the bottom, just for fun. I probably won’t leave them on (they’re just hand stitched on, so they will be easy to remove) – I just thought the pompoms were hilarious and felt the need to add them.

A closeup of Frank's spider pompoms #Halloween #quilting

WIP: Frank (quilted art piece)

Halloween’s fast approaching and I decided to do something fun and new for a Halloween decoration: a quilted art piece of Frankenstein’s monster’s shadowy face. It’s been a bit slow going, as I had a hell of a weekend (I had a terrible cold and someone above me left a tap on, for my bathroom had water dripping through the walls in the wee hours of the morning), but I plan to have it done this weekend.

First, let me just say that I am aware of the fact that the creature wasn’t green. In the book he was a yellowish green. In early stage adaptations, his skin was pale blue. I chose to go with the more modern interpretation where his skin is green (this is, admittedly, partly because I plan to bring it to work and didn’t feel like having to explain to everyone that his skin is supposed to be yellow … also, I had some really awesome green solids in my fabric stash).

Second, yes, I am calling him Frank even though he doesn’t have a name. Victor Frankenstein was his creator. But, everyone thinks he’s Frankenstein, so I compromised and called him Frank, reasoning that if I built a hoard of monsters to take over the word, I would probably call at least one of them a derivative of my last name.

If you want more info about the creature and the book by Mary Shelley, Wikipedia seems to be on top of things. Or, you could just read the book (full disclosure: I haven’t, and don’t intend to, but I hear it’s a very good read).

Anyway, back to my project: I knew exactly what I wanted to do and decided to just wing it and see if I can figure things out on my own. I started by cutting up pieces of the fabric of choice: random triangular pieces of various greens and a few wonky strips of a weird yellow-green I seem to have mysteriously acquired (it is not a colour I would ever choose to add to my collection). The idea was to have a random, scrappy green construction with a few random strips of the yellowy fabric and a bit of stitching detail using my sewing machines stitch that looks like stereotypical surgical sutures. Making this TOOK FOREVER. Or, at least if felt like forever as I’m used to working with bigger pieces in a defined pattern.

WIP: Frank (quilted art)

I added a bit of stitching (not too much, as I only wanted to represent some of the stitching the creature would have).

WIP: Frank (quilted art)

I found, merged, and adjusted a few silhouettes of his face, printed them, and cut out the stencil. I then traced the stencil onto the back of fusible webbing, which I had already fused to some black fabric. The face silhouettes I was drawn to were based on the creature depicted by Boris Karloff in the classic film.

WIP: Frank (quilted art)

I used an exacto knife to cut out the fabric/webbing, which was sometimes a bit difficult, but I didn’t stress too much about it being “perfect”.

WIP: Frank (quilted art)

Then, I ironed the black fabric onto the scrappy green piece.

WIP: Frank (quilted art)

I’m now in the process of using a tight zigzag stitch to trace the shapes. In retrospect, I wish I had just hand stitched with a simple blanket stitch or used the surgical suture stitch, but I thought that the zigzag stitch would be faster. It might be, but it’s going to be a pain when doing the smaller bits and I don’t love the look. Regardless, I think it will look pretty cool when it’s done and it’s not bad for something I made up with very little prior experience in doing pieces like this.

I’ll post pictures when it’s done.