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Archive for March 2010

I’m sure many of you remember my quilt in memory of my Dad, who passed away in 2006 from Cancer at 63.  I have 2 younger sisters.  After his passing, it occurred to me, to make something that my sisters and I could remember him by, and pass it on to our families.   I started thinking about taking up quilting.   I had no idea what I was in for (I know all of you have on that “knowing smile”… come on, admit it), nor did I know where to begin.

I started reading “stuff” on the internet.  One of the things that was mentioned was starting a “stash”.  Hmm… how was I going to do that, that’s a lot of fabric to start a stash, and at the time, money was not flowing through my fingers.  One of the things I remember was “buy the best you can afford”.  I can tell you, once you’ve done that, it doesn’t take long to figure out, to start saving and get the even better quality supplies.

Sooo… how can I build a stash, and start this quilt.  First you need a design.  Well, that was a lot of coloured pencil colouring.   One evening/night my dad’s common-law-wife was having some difficulty and had asked if I could stay with her.  I was willing.  Before she went to bed, we talked about a variety of things, and I asked her what her plans were for his shirts.  You see, my Dad’s favourite colour was blue, and his favourite shirt was a “cowboy” style with snaps.   I had this little niggling thought in my head, that I would use his shirts.  So after she had gone to bed, I took every shirt of his out of the closet, and laid them out.  Sorted them by primarily by colour, yes, he had a few that were not blue.    Then I bundled them all up, and put them back.  Then the coloured pencils and graph paper (1/4″) and I sat down and sketched.

I wanted to use a few things that were memories of my Dad, and his favourite things came to mind:  the colour blue, eagles, roses and water.  You see, he worked on the water driving tugs, dozers and side-winders.  He wrangled logs in the water, getting them ready to be loaded onto logging trucks.

Now back to the stash building.  I knew I wanted a “neutral” colour to work with his shirts.  I decided on an “ecru” colour, as I thought white might be too stark.   Hmm… I wonder where online that I could start building my stash, and do it economically.  eBay!  So off I went, and started scouring eBay.   Hey 4″ Squares would be a great way to build a stash, and I can bid on packs of 40 or 50 squares.  So I started on some of the off-white (ecru).   Hey… look at that there, blue, and green, and purple, oooh and butterflies.  To be honest, I cannot remember now how many “bids” I won.  I can tell you, I have not even put a “dint” into the beginning of my stash building exercise.   It wasn’t until I think the actual first Quilting class that I realized that 4″ squares may not have been the best use of my money to build my stash.

I decided on using triangles to help create his initial.  Let me tell you something, using half square triangles in a quilt is nothing… if you are using 100% cotton.   Most of my Dad’s shirts were from the 80’s and had a blend of nylon, polyester, and some other man-made materials I am sure.  They stretch like nothing you have seen before!   I noticed that my “squares” were not square.  What to do.   STABILIZE!  Dang, should have read about that, BEFORE, I cut and stitched all them triangles.   Of course now I know, that I could have used 2 squares and got 2 triangle squares from it… but I didn’t know that then!  So I bought some stabilizing stuff – I say stuff, because I have no idea what I bought.  My memories good, it’s just short.  So, I started stabilizing.  The patches I had already sewn together… well, I have to sew them to other pieces… this should help stabilize it… right???   Well it did, and I know now, probably a wasted effort, but hey, if you don’t do these things, you don’t learn.

(Triangles stitched into squares, and pinned)

I had decided that all the background (off-white) would be done in HSTs as well, to give the illusion of waves.   I had no idea what a quilting friend meant by using strips.  *LIGHTBULB*  Now I know what she meant… sewing the center piece together using strips would have been much, dare I say easier? to ensure that everything was lined up or squared up, as I was to learn much later.

Everything stitched together.

Somewhere during this time, I think I purchased EQ5.  Hey… a computer buff, I should be able to use this program and it should be a useful tool for quilting.  Well, yes and no.  (and no, I am not going into that at this point in time).  I did use EQ5 to help figure out what I was going to need in fabric requirements to finish the quilt!

EQ5 rendition of pattern

So then it was a hunt for “blue” yardage.  I chose the Moda Marbles in 3 different shades.  I was making 4 of these quilts you know!  Hmm.  I started checking locally for fabric with eagles, I thought of appliquing, until I read that… and uh uh now way.  I wanted to finish these fairly quickly!   I then searched online across Canada for Eagle fabric!  I couldn’t find anything.   Ordering from the US deterred me, due to the exchange rate and duty… but what else was I to do!  I didn’t need a lot, and most minimums was 1 yard.  eBay!  again.   I found two different eagle prints.  Bid on both, and won both.   Even though, I think one, had a tape measure to show the size of the eagles, it was hard to picture it.   And I didn’t want 8″ borders!  So now the eagle fabric is done!

Borders are done!   Oooh… and I checked out a shop and found a few different rose themed fabrics.

I completed three quilts.  The one for myself is patiently waiting for me to get to it.  I think I’m afraid of it.  Now, I know you’re laughing.  Me?  The one who can and has often jumped into things with both feet, afraid?   Yup, it intimidates me… something like applique, but I’m slowly getting over that one.  I know sooo much more now, then I did then.  I look at the photos and I see the mistakes I made, and notice seams are not aligned (okay, it’s not really a requirement for the pattern, kind of, sort of,… well, you know what I mean).  Another thing I learned on the way… we do not make Mistakes!  Do NOT ever use that word in your vocabulary.   What we do is all learning experiences!  Does a toddler, first learning to walk, make mistakes?  Nooo… he/she is learning, they are having experiences!  Dang it… I want it to be perfect, just like in the magazines!  Bet you have thought that a time or two!  I know I have… but then I have come to realize, in order to get as good as the ones in the magazines (and books), I need lots of practice, and lots of learning experiences!  And boy, let me tell you….

Oh you are really going to laugh.  I had no idea about free-motion quilting using the darning foot.   The bottom and top border have cresting waves (water symbolism).  I stitched them using the “accu-feed” system on my machine,  (similar to the walking foot, but its a little different).  Stitch, stitch, stitch, stop, lift pressure foot, turn, lower, stitch, stitch, lift, turn, lower, stitch… you get the picture.

Which leads me back to building my stash building experience.   Now I had all these 4″ squares, and looking at the patterns in magazines… waaaaaait a minute… hang on… something’s wrong here.  These patterns call for yardage?  How am I supposed to convert these squares into this pattern, or that one?  Simple answer… I can’t.   After much more reading… I realized that I had learned a lot in just a few short months… well, it was not quite a year (and even now on this adventure finishing my 4th year… I’m still learning and gaining lots of experience.

You may ask what has happened to all those 4″ squares I gathered?  Well, a few have found there ways into other projects.  My Newbie Follie is one…

I made this  quilt just using those squares, and it only used 100… I must have had about 1000 or more!   So my stash building experience has led to a scrap building experience.   Some squares have been used, and replaced by others, as I learned to “cut” my scraps into usable pieces – squares (1.5″ up to 8″ – sometimes bigger), and strips (1″ – 6″).   Some of you have bravely shown your scrap basket(s).  I’m working on getting all mine in one place to take a photo to show you.   Keep in mind, that not all the scraps are from my eBay excursions, nor are they left-overs from quilts I’ve made.  My daughter has taken up quilting too, and has been given baskets and baskets of scraps.  We (meaning me), were finally able to organize and sort them.   So my scrap basket is organized, and I will discuss that in another post.

Do you feel up to another blog challenge?   I’ve challenged you to dig out your first quilt and tell us about it.   Would you like to share how you became a quilter?  Or even how you started building your stash?


I didn’t think I had anything to write about… well, actually, I probably have lots to write about, but I like to have photos, and it was taking me a bit to get that organized.

I had the opportunity last week to leave town, and visit a couple of Shops I had heard of, and seen online Hamels, and A Great Notion..  Although I didn’t have any money to spend, I did buy a few things.  Some things were just too good to pass up.  I was happy I checked out these shops.  And if my hubby gets accepted to the University, I’ll be hitting these shops more often.  A Great Notion has two store fronts, and I had visited the smaller of the two.  Next time, I’ll have to check out their main store!

As many of you know, free-motion quilting is one of my “hang-ups” when it comes to doing quilts.  I bought one book for design inspiration.  The middle book “Joannie’s Quilting Elements”, I feel is a resource that no machine quilter should be without.   She writes in a style, I think I would write.  She gives you some pointers, but does not tell you how to do it.  Allows for one to “play”, but still learn, and not be concerned with the “Quilt Police”.   I learn by reading (primarily), and this book was great for that.  She writes as if she is right beside you, guiding you along.  The third book, “Punchneedle Fun”, I purchased because I was given a punchneedle set, and threads, but haven’t jumped into it yet.  What could be better than combining quilting and punchneedle!  The projects in this book are small, but loads of inspiration!

I haven’t done any “Holiday” quilting.  Okay, I’ve done a couple of Christmas Tablerunners, but nothing really for the family.  I saw this little hallowe’en wall-hanging, and couldn’t resist.  A little kitty playing peek-a-boo in a pumpkin!

At one of the “chain” fabric stores we have in BC, they had a sale on the OLFA blades (is is just me, or have these increased in price in a big way?).  I was trying to remember what other supplies, I needed, and as I stood at the till, I noticed the sewing machine needles… so grabbed a couple packages.  The sales person mentioned to me that the coming weekend they were having a double discount weekend… I told her I was from out of town… way out of town (takes 2 ferries and 6 hours to get there).  So she gave me 50% off of my entire purchase!  I was so impressed… and wished I had grabbed another package of blades.

I also bought Clover Marking pens, they were a much better price in a package of 3.    And I’ve been reading about Awls and Stillettos used in sewing.  I’ve been looking for a brass one, and happened to find one at one of the other shops.  It was cheaper than the “bamboo” one.

Some of you may remember my foray into using the Shiva Art Paintstiks.   I’m doing a demo Thursday evening for our guild, and I happened to see these rubbing plates.  They are the OpArt plates, (this link has all the rubbing plates, just scroll down a bit to find the OpArt ones) and I think they will do wonders on transforming fabric that may be a bit lackluster.  I already have the Curve Plates.  This demo should be a lot of fun!

Some of you may remember mslibra from APQ?  She has her own blog and website (she sells Superior Threads and has a long-arm quilting business).   We live in the same community and have become good friends.   She lived originally down in the Lower Mainland (which includes Vancouver and other cities in the area).  She approached me about something she had seen in Langley, and was wondering if I would be interested in trying it out.  I said I would.  I can’t say what yet… but in the fall I should be able to provide more information.  But, I can tell you, I have been making lots of crafty stuff for the Christmas Fairs as well.  This idea of mslibra’s has inspired and motivated me to get stuff down now, as opposed to crunch time in the fall, when work picks up.  Okay, I know, I know, I’m rambling, and its time for another photo.

These are a few of my friends!  Ha ha!  These are made from knit gloves, with the ring finger tucked up inside and then stitched.  The gloves filled.  And then hair, eyes and a nose are applied. I’ve already sold one!   I had shown one to a fellow co-worker, and she was interested, and I told her I would post a photo on facebook… umm… well, I posted it here first.   Making more of these is being put on hold, as now is the wrong time of year to try and find knit gloves in a variety of colours.  Black and ivory I can find lots of… but I like the colourful ones, myself.

I am working on a couple of other projects for the Christmas season, and as they come along, I’ll be posting them too.


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March 2010
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