Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

For most people the last day of the year is almost always a time for reflection and I am no different.

I have been thinking a lot in the past few weeks about what really matters to me, and, what doesn't. I have come to the realization that I spend an inordinate amount of time doing things that are of no real interest to me, they don't "speak" to me - and I don't "speak" through them. Now if they were the building blocks that would provide me with the needed skills to create something that was of interest that would be different. But invariably they are not.

So I am breaking my resolution of thirty some odd years ago (in a moment of teen age smart alec-ness I resolved not to make New Year's resolutions - and I did a bang-up job of keeping it all these years too!) and I am wading into the world of self-improvement.

I am resolving to spend more time making things that are not for sale, to creating more things of my own design, and to learning some new techniques. I have a plan, not a clear one, but it's a start. In the next few days I will define it more, set myself a schedule and begin. I am excited about a disciplined approach - it seems at odds with creativity but I am beginning to understand that in some areas and in low doses, organization may be beneficial. At least I am willing to give it a try.

Now I just have to unearth my Daily Planner!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Magical Christmas Eve

I still think of Christmas Eve as the most magical day of the year. Out of all the special days, it is indeed my favourite. And when evening comes and darkness has fallen the world becomes a very small place for me.

Some years our tree went up a few days before Christmas, other years, colder years, it might be Christmas Eve before we would finally give up on it getting warmer and go find the nearest Christmas Tree. Thankfully back then you didn't need a permit and could cut a tree anywhere on crown land - the good old days in the Yukon Territory.

Whenever the tree did go up, once the lights were arranged, the ornament below was the first to be placed. For every Christmas of my life he has been on our tree - you see he is a very old ornament - more than seventy, and of course I am nowhere near there myself!

He is an odd looking Santa - at least I have always thought so, and the colour of his chenille arms and legs has mellowed over the decades. When I was very young I didn't care for him at all but he grew on me year after year and now he is my most treasured ornament; a link to my past.

And it seems he has become a link to the future as well.

When my children were small they didn't much care for him either - funny-looking they decreed. I didn't say much for I knew full well his ability to grow on one. By the time they were teenagers they didn't mind him and I know when they are both home for Christmas they will each look at the tree to make sure he is in his place.

And of course he is.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snowmen That Ski?

I think my favourite part of Christmas is the tree. I love decorating it; it takes me a long time because I think about the placement of each and every ornament. I like creating little "pockets" in the tree where you can tuck in just the right ornament and the lights are just so - the effect can be magical!

And, as the tree is my favourite element, it follows that making ornaments for it is one of my favourite things to do. The little fellow below was made about six years ago and he has had his special place on the tree ever since. The skis are made from pipe cleaners that have strips of torn, tea-dyed muslin alternating with strips of torn red fabric, wound around and around and around until I was almost dizzy and hopelessly tangled! But I wanted the raggedy effect and that was the only way I was going to get it!

I didn't intend for his one arm to raise up like he is waving out from his perch - it just went that way of it's own accord. He was supposed to be holding little ski poles but I was late getting him to this stage and so he has gone without - every year I think I should make and attach them but don't seem to get around to it before it is time to pack the decorations away for another year.

I think he might just look hilarious with them so perhaps this will be the year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

"Tis the Season!

I thought my blog should have a festive look in honour of the Season!

I made this little ornament years ago while living in the Yukon - I was always on the lookout for ideas for my annual sale and found this in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. My good friend Charmaine and I spent a wonderful day crafting these little bear angels from homemade salt dough and what fun we had! Of course I had to keep my favourite...

I also promised to post some pictures from my bookbinding experience and thought I would start with these ... the first image is the inside cover - I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to make the bookplate as I was more than hopeless on the computer, but as this book was to be my Daily Thanks Journal I thought the quote was perfect and wanted it in there! (If you click on the image you will see an enlarged version.)

The outside of the book cover is fabric with a proper book cloth spine and the inside covers are hand made flower paper. I folded and sewed the signatures by hand and then added a ribbon for the closure (there is a button on the outside of the front cover).

Inside Cover

Front Cover

I have almost worked out how to construct my quilted art journal for the upcoming class (at least in my head that is!) and have made the first fabric page - and it came out exactly as I expected. Now I just have to make more! And of course, figure out the cover. And think of a quote for the bookplate. And design the bookplate. And, and, and....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Inspiration Inspires!

I have been so busy teaching this Fall I forgot to think about what I wanted to teach in the New Year ... and of course, just as I am finishing up my last class, the questions start ... What are the classes we can put you on the schedule for?"


All I could think of were technique classes (which are of course my all-time favourite ones, hands down) - there were no projects that could get me to even think of turning them into a class. Until I looked at Rebecca Sower's blog (check out my "Blogs I Follow" list) and thought it was high time I made a quilted art journal for myself.

Years ago I took a few book binding courses and have dabbled in it from time to time. I love books and the idea of making them fascinates me even more than quilting does - Surprised? I was.

Anyway, I started thinking about what I would want to record in a journal of my own and decided what had always held me back before was wondering how I would make a journal that would allow me to incorporate writing, drawing and sewing all at the same time. Today I had the "Aha" moment.

My journal will have paper signatures (as all good books do), but they will be interspersed with fabric ones. It took a bit of thinking but I am now half-way through making my first fabric pages and so far I am exceedingly happy - no, that's not right - I am bloody gleeful about how well it's turning out. If this all works out like I think it could I will be downright thrilled.

Tomorrow I will post pictures....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Twelve Days of Christmas

This link button is too big to fit on the side of my blog with the rest but it's too pretty not to share!


You need to check it out!

'Tis the Season

Have you ever had something turn out better than you expected? It happens to me a lot, and the stocking below is a fine example of that! I wanted it be plain, but not too plain, floralish but not flowery, and small but not miniature - diminutive was what I had in mind.

Every Christmas I hang this little guy on the post of a brass lamp I have - it's an old fashioned looking one and the stocking looks perfect. Nothing has ever been found in it on Christmas morning even though I look hopefully every year - maybe this year I will surprise myself!

In looking for inspiration I have been wandering around in cyberspace and looking at other blogs - it is absolutely amazing to me what people create. I am adding a button for the "Where Women Create" blog which has a fabulous give-away on now; you really must check it out! I am also adding a link for a blog I found called Lilybean's Paperie. Melissa is the designer and paper is her medium and her work is simply lovely - just so inspiring.

Check them both out and see if you don't agree!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snowman in Flannel

I have always liked Winter - never loved but certainly liked. It must be from growing up in the Yukon - you might as well at least like it as you get a lot of it!

So when I wanted to do a snowman wall hanging for one of my class projects, I did one with a Christmas Tree, but it didn't make me happy. I think of snowmen as a generally "Winter" thing, rather than just at Christmas. And I had found a lovely hounds-tooth dark brown flannel... so I made another one...

I am not sure how many of you have combined flannel and cotton broadcloth in a single project but this is my first - and I am delighted with the results. You can see the texture and it calls you to touch it - well, really, to rub it. And let me tell you about the grey starry fabric I used for snow. Everyone in both classes wanted that fabric in the worst way. I had bought it years and years ago - can't remember how many exactly but I was up north when I got it. For some unknown reason I had a bought what was for me a fair chunk, I believe a whole metre, but had hardly used any up to this point. Well, I took it to both classes and I am now left with a smidgen of it!

Anyway, I was going to keep this as I loved it so much, but one of the people in my class was telling me she was making hers into a pillow and I decided I wanted one too. So this little fellow is off to a good home and I get to make him all over again, except this time he will grace my sofa (my husband's word - I say couch - what do you say?) for a few months. Much as I like him it will thankfully be for less time than if we still lived up North!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Time For Me!

The Sale is over and I only have two classes left so am thinking ahead to what would I like to work on for no other reason but that it interests me ... it is a very long time since I have had the luxury of doing that!

The photo below is of a project I started many years ago that is beckoning again. It has been so long I have forgotten the details of what I was planning for it but usually I find as I am drawn back in, memory clicks and I will remember most of what I had intended. Doesn't mean I won't decide to do something different though. I have learnt a few things along the way that may wiggle their way into the design!

This is going to be a small wall hanging that is inspired by the beach we used to go to when I was a child. My family had a cabin there and my favourite thing to do was go beach combing. I would collect sand, shells, driftwood, and seaweed, along with feathers (which had to be hidden as my mother was certain they harboured all manner of disease and germs!) and all of those things are what was inspiring me when I began and still speak to me now.

I think I set it aside because I had got as far as I was sure about what I wanted, and then hit a dead end - where to go next? I didn't want to make a mistake because I really liked this piece and didn't want to wreck it. Ever had that happen - you start out with something that is proving to be stunning, and the further you get the more afraid you are of messing the whole thing up? This has been my first experience with that feeling and I must say, it makes me a bit uncomfortable!

But I am ready now and so the decks have been cleared, room somewhat in order, and I am ready to re-acquaint myself with an old friend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Study of Pink

A few posts back I mentioned the Rouenneries fabric line that came out in October and posted a picture of the charm pack and some of my "stash" fabrics that I thought might work with it.

Well, I have been playing with it quite a lot lately; in fact, as painters have done studies of objects or styles in their paintings, I have been doing a study of this fabric line. It has some unusual colourways in it - a very different, and what I think, very old-style European pink we have not seen much of here in North America. At least I haven't! And may I mention the taupes...

And through all this I have discovered what I think is the best use of a Charm Pack yet; to learn about a particular colour or print-style you may not be familiar with. Of course it does have it's limitations, size being one of them, but that isn't much of a negative if you ask me. What they do best is provide a variety of prints in colourways and combinations you may not have tried before and in playing around with them on small projects you can learn a lot about what a fabric will and won't do before investing in yardage. Fabrics you would have discounted on the bolt for one reason or another have a better chance of being used when presented in a Charm pack. So far I have discovered two prints in this line that I didn't like before but are now my new favourites - everywhere I try to place them, they sing.

I love fabrics that do that! Whenever I use them, whatever I make is wonderful and I salvage every scrap of the leftovers.

One of my all time favourite fabrics is one that looks like lace. I have used both the front side and the back in several projects over the years; this fabric also dates back to about 1995 and as I am now getting down to the dregs, have become very judicious in it's use- but it never disappoints.

When I started playing around with the Rouenneries fabrics I decided simple was best and since I had to come up with a project for a friend that involved no measuring, I kept the charm squares whole. Perfect I thought - this really would be a study of colour and print - no quilt pattern to interfere.

And it was fun! And here it is...

My treasured fabric is the narrow inner border - everything else is from Rouenneries.

I learnt a lot about grey and taupe from this and armed with that I am venturing into my own stash and doing what quilter's do - adding a little of this and a little of that to make it my own.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What is Your Colour?

Colour is a fascinating subject for me.

I have pondered it, played with it, taught it and cursed it!

Colour seems to be a real stumbling block for a lot of quilters and often you will hear the old lament " I am no good with colour!" in any given corner of any given quilt shop in any given town - well, you get the idea.

This morning I was doing my usual blog reading (I like writing mine but I love reading others) and my favourite, hands down, is Bunny Tales at Bunny Hill Designs. I like it for a number of reasons, most of all, that Anne posts so regularly! She writes well and has great photos but it is the regularity that is key I think.

Anyway, this morning she had a post about Colour Horoscopes and provided a link to a website that was very interesting. Being a horoscope junkie I had to check it out - my colour was not at all unexpected - in fact, oddly enough, several new articles of clothing are in exactly the shade of smoky lilac/plum that was depicted. How cool is that?

Anyway, here is the link to Anne's post and from that you can hop on to the Colour Horoscope site - who knows, it may open up your very own rainbow of colour!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pen & Ink

Sometimes when I want to make something I have a pattern in mind and often times, I know exactly what fabric will lead the way. Other times the fabric is all I know!
This is one of those times.

The fabric below is one I have looked and looked at, unrolled a length and then rolled it back up again without making a purchase. I'm drawn to the images encased in the circles - they are like little "snapshot" drawings within the whole and the fabric has an almost "painterly" feel to it.

What has held me back is the amount of light background showing through. Fabrics like that can be a bit tricky, depending on what you do with them. And I never had a plan.

But now I do!

I want to do something that can incorporate more of the little drawings, but as nothing is available to purchase, I will have to come up with my own. I am thinking I will need to use freezer paper as a stabilizer and I have a good selection of Pigma pens in various sizes and colours so I think I am ready to begin.

No clear-cut plan in mind but a willingness to let the design lead me.

That last line sounds good, probably reads well, but if the truth be told, it's hogwash!

If I have an idea in mind, I will stubbornly fight to preserve it, regardless of where any of the designing process wants to take me. I have a heap on the floor of my sewing room that is testament to that stubbornness. I tell myself that I am leaving them be while I think things through a bit and will come back to them when I have figured it out. Really though, they aren't turning out the way I want and I am still seeing them for what they aren't, rather than what they are. It seems I am still too attached to the outcome to just sit back and "let the design lead me"!

What about you - open-minded, or stubborn?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In the Pink!

Today I am seeing pink!

In all my digging into old fabrics these past few days I came across this treasure. I purchased it from Wineberry Fabrics in Vancouver long before we left the Yukon (which makes it at least 15 years old). It is a linen cotton blend and it grabbed me right away! I had no idea what to do with it so I bought .3 of a metre - thank heavens it's 60" wide! The main reason it hasn't been cut into thus far is that it has never really gone with anything else.

But I am a sucker for fabrics that are faded and look worn from the get-go.

And now I have the perfect thing to go with it! Beautiful grey, taupe, pinkish, sage coloured fabrics with soft muted patterns of florals and paisleys. They can be a bit dull on their own but this fabric seems to brighten things up without being harsh.

And I really like it!
And I've been waiting to use it for a really long time!

The first cut was the hardest - with something special it always is - but now I am happily whacking up into squares and triangles, content in the confidence that
it is being used in the best possible way and so glad to know
that should anything untoward happen to me, it won't land in a garage sale
and get made into a Hallowe'en costume!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I've been playing with fabric lately. Not really an unusual thing for me to be caught doing, but the fabrics are a bit different from what you would normally find me pawing, patting or petting.

I am inspired by all things French these days. After all, it is a lovely country and full of inspirational items. But what is really inspiring is the new fabric line from French General, "Rouenneries". It is full of red, pink, grey and beige so in a sense, it is a monochromatic fabric line. Not a typical thing for Moda to do, but nonetheless a beautiful range of fabrics. And what to put with it, you ask? Why toile, of course!

And that is what I have been playing with.

These are just a few of the toile-type fabrics I have in my cupboard - there are many, many more I need to dig for. I have been collecting them for years, never quite sure of what I would do with them but that didn't hold me back - or my wallet! And I have seen a few lately that I may need to go back for...

Below is a piece of the linen-cotton blend from the Rouenneries line, as well as the charm pack. I have a few ideas and have done a sketch or two.

I have also dug out some beautiful antique carved mother-of-pearl flower buttons from Paris that will need to be taken into account in any design ideas. The colour of them is perfect with this fabric and my mind is whirling with ideas.

I can't wait to get started!

Friday, October 30, 2009

What Grabs You?

I was recently on a quilting shopping expedition with my friend Marj. We had decided to take a little road trip to a couple of quilt shops she hadn't been to at all, and I hadn't visited for many months. So we picked the day, which was thankfully a dry day, and headed out at 9 bells.

The thing I have noticed about quilt shops is that even though the owners make a concerted effort to try to appeal to most quilters, there are still things about each that make them distinct from each other. And this is a good thing for us quilter's - it would be sad indeed if every shop carried all the same stuff.

In the first shop we visited I was smitten with fabric right at the doorway. Lovely Christmas fabrics in an unusual shade of blue - I do get sick of red and green at times, and when I think of the V.I.P. pink poinsettia prints that came back year after year in the 1990s I almost feel ill all over again! I really liked them at first, but by the fourth year I was done! They did change up the colour-way from year to year and presented them on black, bright green, turquoise, forest green and white backgrounds, but it was always the same pink poinsettia!

But, I digress.

New and different Christmas fabrics caught my eye first and I then went on to buttons (which are an addiction, and no, I am not seeking treatment!). Charming buttons that will add just the right detail to my latest little project, or can just sit it my button box until inspiration comes.

The next shop offered up an old-fashioned print; a tapestry-looking fabric in black, dark burnt red and a deep olive green. A deep dark fabric propped in a corner that insistently drew me back to it over and over again. It drew Marj too and although we both wanted some, neither of us had any idea what we would make with it. A discussion with the clerk ensued as we debated the merits and pitfalls of a half-metre, .75, or a full metre. Marj was first up and decided a full metre would do and when my turn came I thought .75 was in order. When the clerk unwrapped the remainder of the bolt to cut mine it was just over the .75 metre mark! We both laughed at how perfectly it worked out and how lucky we were to both get what we wanted.

And what a perfect day it was!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quilting With Curves

Today I am seeing curves.

Seeing is one thing though, quilting with them is entirely another! Over the years I have taken courses and read books on working with curved shapes in quilting, in fact, I have a few books in my own library that I refer to now and again when I hit a stumbling block.

For the projects pictured here though, I have been working out my own way - nothing new technique-wise in the quilting world I am sure, but new to me! My first inspiration came from my recent trip to Vancouver. I was staying at the Granville Island Hotel with a friend and fellow quilter from the Yukon and she was continually distracted by the maple leaves that littered the ground under our feet. I have no idea how many she eventually took home with her but I suspect it was several!

I must admit I too found them a distraction. The colours ranged from the brightest of greens, through yellows, oranges, rust and finally deep reds and often times all of these colours appeared on a single leaf! And so, it was natural for me to be drawn to a maple leaf when I was thinking about something suitable for the Demo tomorrow. The idea for the curves came second, and here is a quick look at what I have come up with.

Detail of Vancouver Leaves

And as always with me, one thing led to another and I found myself thinking about curves in other quilting designs. I found the remains of a Patisserie Sweet Roll
(1 1/2") strips and have started to play with that too!

This one has been a bit more of a challenge - the technique I am trying is straightforward enough, but the design itself is giving me a bit of a's always something!

And here is the start of it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Symposium Thoughts

Greetings from Vancouver!

We have just had our third lecture of the Symposium Series, but as usual I am behind and so will begin with the first evening's which was "The True Miracle Fibres: Natural Threads of the World". The lecture was presented by Charlotte Kwon, owner of Maiwa Handprints and it was riveting from the first words.

Charlotte is not only passionate about traditional textiles, she is enormously involved with the crafting of them through the entire process. She regularly travels to India and works with the farmers to support sustainable organic farming, she is actively involved in teaching and preserving dyeing with natural plant materials and supports the textile artisans through an ethical business model.

It was surprising to learn how much knowledge of natural plant dyes is in danger of being lost as synthetic dyes increase in popularity in emerging economies. Traditional markets throughout the world are increasingly moving away from both natural fibres and dyes, and it was interesting to learn of the work being done to preserve both.

I have done very little dyeing at all, never mind with natural dyes and am not sure I need to add another hobby to my ever growing "To Try" list but I have to say fibres dyed with natural dyes have a different look to them. There is a subtlety to the colours; they can still be bright but are not harsh, they are shaded but there is still light and they inspire... they inspire you to take up a needle and create.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October Is...

October is many things to me, but most especially, it is the month of Hallowe'en. Below is one of my favourite mini-quilts; I like it because it has plaid fabric, an interesting background and the "appliques" are either paper, or buttons. It was so easy to put together but still fun to work on.

This year October also means it is time for the Maiwa Handprints Symposium in Vancouver, B.C. I am lucky enough to be here with my friend Carol from Whitehorse who knows more about textiles and dyeing than I could ever hope to! We are staying at the lovely Granville Island Hotel and have spent today exploring just some of what the island has to offer to artisans of all disciplines.

I have found some lovely treasures and am now heavily weighted for the trip home! And... tonight is the first of a series of lectures Maiwa has assembled; I can't remember what it is about as I am far too excited about tomorrow's - "Creating A Garden of Natural Dye Plants". I thought growing herbs was interesting enough but I have a feeling my garden plans for next year are about to expand!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall Leaves

Fall has definitely arrived here in Salmon Arm; the leaves are changing colour now and it's October.. and that means I must now kick into high gear! Not only are my classes in full swing, but the date has been picked for my sale as well - December 1st will come up awfully fast now that it is the designated day. My friend Glenda (even though I make everything, she's the boss of it!) has requested, advised, ordered, demanded (all of the above really) that I get busy and start producing!

So this week is probably one my busiest of the year, but don't be surprised if you hear me mutter that a time or two again... we have a Demo in the store Friday and my first Christmas Cupboard classes are this Thursday. Throw in working and/or teaching every day this week, a cocktail party and a outdoor fireside supper and you get the idea....

And to add to all that, we keep getting new stuff in the store! The most beautiful book I have seen in a long time arrived yesterday and I can't wait to make something from it; in fact, I will and it will be my first blog give-away! First I have to get it made though so this weekend will be busy too - watch for the post next week announcing the details.

Well, if I am truly as busy as I say I am, I had best get on with it!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Favourite Things

One of my favourite things about quilting and needlework is all the fabulous tools!

Some you buy, others you can make. Below is a tomato pincushion designed by Fig Tree Quilting from their book "Fresh Vintage Sewing". As soon as I saw it I knew I had to make it and now I have one sitting right beside my sewing machine!

Tomato Pincushion by Fig Tree & Co.

Although I really like my tomato pin cushion, my favourite is still my little Tigger!

I bought him many years ago and he has held the Pin Cushion Place of Honour on my sewing table ever since. My children were aghast with my choice when I brought him home - they had the silly idea I would go to a sewing store and buy a conventional one!

And here he is!

My son is certain that somewhere in the world is a tiger with a very sore back!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beginnings and Endings

It is often said Spring is for beginnings; for me though, it's Fall. When the days still have summer's heat but the nights are cool and the air seems fresher. When the leaves start to fall from the trees and you sense the world is getting ready to sleep. This is my time for beginnings!

I have noticed over the years that in quilting there seems to be a penchant for finishing things; many guilds and groups have either UFO, or the newer acronym PHD, contests to encourage their members to finish projects of varying ages. Most quilters have several projects in various stages of completion and many express concern over getting things finished. Some even go so far as to complain about being stressed out over all their incomplete projects!

Well, as far as I am concerned, being finished is highly over-rated!

I absolutely love starting a new project; looking through pattern books, sketching a quick design on graph paper, sifting through piles of fabric searching for just the right fabrics to tell the story and eventually, hopefully, realizing a trip to the local quilt shop is in order. For me there is nothing quite like the prospect of a new project.

And with some, the excitement wears off. If the piecing or applique becomes a drudgery I will set it aside and wait until I am "bitten" with it again. If it's my own design and I have come to an impasse and am not sure where to go next, I put it away. Not always out of sight, but out of reach. And while I am working on my next new project, I will look over occasionally and think about it. Eventually an idea sparks or the will to continue takes over and I take it up again. Eventually it will be finished but I am in no hurry. (It's not as if the Good Quilting Fairy is going to come along and do it for me - it will still be there when I am ready!)

You see for me, it's all about the process. I love the making of things, the figuring it out and while I enjoy a finished product as much as anyone, I quilt for the love of doing it, not having it.

And so, here is the start of my next new project!

Happy Beginnings to You!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bright Idea, Poorly Executed!

I had a really good idea at a Demo last year. I can't remember what the Demo itself was about, but I was talking about using fusible interfacing to stabilize fabrics that were too drapey for traditional pieceing. ("Drapey" is not likely the proper adjective but I like it and I suspect you will know exactly what I mean!)

I remember thinking "Why couldn't you do the same thing if there was a fabric you wanted for a border but you wanted to cut it on the bias?" We quilters all know what would happen if we cut a bias border (not binding, border) and sewed to our quilt tops! But why not fuse a very lightweight interfacing to the back of the fabric prior to cutting the bias strips? As long as the borders aren't too long that should make them stable enough?

I found the perfect fabric to test my theory - a beautiful festive plaid by Nancy Halvorsen of Art to Heart which I liked best on the bias. In addition to my half metre of fabric I purchased a half metre of lightweight fusible interfacing.

I decided to begin with a small project - a Christmas ornament to be precise. I needed one more sample for an upcoming ornament class and this fabric was inspiring me in all sorts of directions. I fused the interfacing to the fabric, determined how wide the borders should be and made a few cuts. It was easy to cut through but when I lifted the first strip it started to curl slightly on the sides, as all bias-cut strips do. Uh-oh!

I gently tugged on each end and there was as much give with the interfacing as there was without. Then it hit me. Like a rock. I had used a woven interfacing and should have used one that wasn't. I had some so I fused it to a different piece of fabric, cut a strip and was pleased to see my theory was correct - the right interfacing made all the difference.

And here is the result:

My closeups still need a lot of work but you get the idea, especiall if you click on the photo and look at the enlarged version.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with my half meter that is fused to the wrong interfacing!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Let The Fun Begin!

My Fall Session of classes is the busiest I have ever had! Good thing I don't have a full time job... seriously though, I think it will be great fun and I am most looking forward to the Christmas Cupboard series of classes. In case you don't know about it yet I have come up with a plan for both decorating your house and having gifts to share! We're starting in the Living Room in October and from there to the Dining Room in November. December is all about ornaments and gift bags and tags - great last minute gifts and wonderful ways to present them!

Each class has several projects you will work on plus a bonus project where you will get the instructions but won't actually work on it in class time. And of course, each has a tasty treat to nibble on while you work! You'll not only get the recipe, but since we have teamed up with Culinary Inspirations next door, you will also get a discount card to save on the featured ingredient if you wish to purchase it from them. So, let the fun begin!

And just to tantalize you a little, below is the bonus project for the Gift Wrap Class - it's a door hanger to keep all away while Santa's Elves are busy in the workshop!

Come and join us,
I promise it will be more fun than you can imagine!

Monday, August 31, 2009


I am notorious for being over ambitious! My family seems to have gotten used to it over the years; perhaps they have simply realized I come by it honestly! My mother can never do one thing at a time - she generally has at least five, and often ten, tasks that are in progress and being attended to regularly. I am the same.

I am presently knee-deep in samples for my Christmas Cupboard Classes. Literally knee-deep. I finally had to stop this afternoon and put some things away as there was not a bare surface to be had, not even six square inches of a bare surface! I finished the wall hanging and centrepiece bag yesterday and today I made the napkin rings and am busy working on the ornaments. The first two are already down at the shop so I will take some pictures when I work tomorrow and get them posted.

Now I am on to the ornaments, which are fun to make but as it has been for everything, I am designing as I go and that is making it all take so much longer! I have two completed, one almost finished and the idea for another rattling around in my head. I am thinking I want three and then variations on each - makes the class more interesting if there are lots of options. It just makes it way more work getting it all pulled together but I think I just might have them all done for tomorrow.

Then it's on to Bags and Tags!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lovely Linen

As promised, here is a picture of my new inspiration!

I am trying to be more creative with my photography and this is my first "staged" photo .... nothing fancy but these are some of my special treasures and I thought they deserved more!

The fabric is a linen rayon blend with a very fine pinstripe, the linen thread is by DMC, antique Parisian buttons from French General, antique crocheted lace and twisted cording in various shades of an elusive colour that changes with the light. All are very subtle which is perfect for me!

I have no idea whatsoever of what they will become, or even if they will be in it together, but they do inspire me!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Something New!

I haven't done a lot of serious needlework lately; quilting has definitely become an all-consuming interest of mine, but.... I was in Kelowna the other day and found DMC linen thread and is it lovely! (I promise to post a picture later - I have to work at my other job today!)

It's so odd because as soon as I saw it I knew it was linen. It's kind of like an internal linen radar I have - I can't resist it whether it's old or new, thread or fabric, 100% or blended with cotton. Must be an addiction!

So now it's on my wish list for the Sewing Basket to carry in our needlework section but first I must create something splendid with the skeins I purchased so we can show people how it looks stitched. I try, they buy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This & That

Well, as promised, here it is! I have had a busy, busy day and am happy to show you what I have been up to. This is the Gypsy Rose fabric line again but this time a This & That pattern.

My machine has been acting up a bit lately - tension problems you know but I fiddled with it long enough that I finally got it all sorted out and we were down to business. Cleaning, oiling and adjusting the bobbin case seems to have taken care of all the issues and this runner is finished and the other one is now all quilted and washed (it's a frayed edge design) and is just waiting for the binding and the buttons. I spent a happy 30 minutes rooting through my button box but don't have anything that is just right so I will have to check out what we have at the store tomorrow when I work. I love my button box but it is filled to overflowing and I have had to store some outside of it lately. Somehow that just seems wrong! I think I will have to conjure up some button projects to make way for new ones...

Gypsy Rose

When I was a little girl I dressed up as a gypsy for Hallowe'en one year and it was my favourite costume of all. When I saw the name of this fabric line by Fig Tree & Co. a definite feeling of nostalgia set in and I knew I had to do something with it. A charm pack later and here is the start of it!

The pattern is by The Button Bush and goes together in a snap but it certainly was fun playing with the colours and figuring out what square to put where. (It kind of reminds me of doing jig saw puzzles!)

Anyway, I liked it so much and now another charm pack later and I am in the midst of another runner, this time by This & That Pattern Co.; these little things certainly are addictive! Although I jumped the gun and posted a picture of the first one before it's even finished I will wait until I have the second done before I post it - right now it's pin-basted and waiting for quilting.

Did I mention they are samples for the store and I want to take them in when I work tomorrow? Enough writing then!

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Perfect Fabric

Today at work I was on a quest for the perfect fabric - for myself of course! After I made the new version of the star block into a table runner I decided I needed to make a blue version as well. The design lends itself to the idea of snowflakes and so replacing the red parts with blue ones seemed like a splendid idea. That is, until I realized I did not have enough of the background fabric for one more runner. (Actually, I don't have enough left for one more anything!).

It is a Fairy Frost fabric (has a nice ring to it doesn't it?) and has just the right amount of soft grey smudges on a pearlescent ivoryish white to make it the perfect background fabric for those two new Christmas fabrics by In The Beginning that I just love. No problem I thought - I'll get more on Thursday when I work in the shop. No problem alright - the bolt was gone!

There is nothing quite like searching for a specific fabric in a quilt shop - as soon as someoneone asks what you are looking for, everyone within earshot joins in the hunt. We trudged upstairs to the office, and down to the work room, tore into the piles under the counter,rifled the fat quarters, and sifted through the remnants, all to no avail. It was gone, long gone. A heavy sigh and shoulder shrug later and I moved on as all quilters do -" if not that fabric, then what?" And the search for what I knew to be perfect became the hunt for what might be.

Like actors vying for a part in a play there were a few auditions - "Too grey, too dull, too yellow, too dark" and after a while you start feeling like Goldilocks - until, the right one comes forward. What starts as the smoothing of wrinkles becomes the ritual of petting and a new star is born; a quilter has just found the new perfect fabric and the possibilities are endless.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Design Dilemmas

For the past three days I have been busy working on projects for my Christmas Cupboard classes - and since I want all the projects to be of my own design I have a lot to do! I decided to start with the table runner (as that will likely be the biggest project in the series so I want to get it out of the way first) and thought stars/snowflakes. Below is a photo of the first rendition of the block design; I was very happy with it on paper but not so much once it was sewn. It seems more like a cross than a star and while pretty enough, not at all what I was after.

Version 1

So back to the drawing board, literally! I wondered how it would look if I took the red star points further up the square, rather than having them meet up with the small black squares. A few line erases later and quick pencil sketch and a much better design emerged. The star is very "starry" and pointy and the block looks more dramatic.

Version 2

In the red colouration it looks starry but I think I will rustle one up in blue and bet it will look more like a snowflake.

It's amazing to me how much more I like the second version and the only difference was extending the star points. I just wish I could have seen it when I was at the sketch stage, but I was in denial and had to sew all three before I finally admitted to myself that I didn't like it! Designing for me is often a two steps forward, one step back kind of process and just once I would like a bee-line!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In For A Penny

This is what started it all - for years I have wished for my own business but several things have held me back, not least of which was picking a name. How can one word sum up a whole intention?

One day in my sewing room I was thinking about our trip to France and how much I like the French language and what fun I had trying to remember everything I had learned in school when "recherche´" popped into my head. It was a true "A-ha" moment. Recherche´ means (among several meanings) to seek that which is special and that is what I have tried to do for years with my needlework. A doodle on a post it note later and I had the name - and from that followed clarity. You see, it wasn't just a name, it was also a definition, and there is an old saying that when you name something, it becomes real.

Serendipity lead me to a young woman named Lauren who designed the banner you see now, and a button which I am in the process of trying to add. I think you will agree she has done an amazing job with my request and I am thrilled with the look she has created. The snail is her own drawing and you can see him just behind the lettering on the right. There is of course a story there...

When Marc and I were on our trip to France last year we went for walks in the evenings while staying in Provence. That was the time of day the snails would leave the grass and vines and venture forth onto the warm roadways. Marc was quite concerned for their safety (a valid concern considering the number of snail fatalities we came upon!) and so he would gather them up and gently toss them back to the grass. There were so many there was no possibility of saving them all but we did develop a fondness for the little creatures through the effort of trying to save them!

Anyway, they are quintessentially French and are evocative of "slow" and I thought an appropriate symbol of what needlework and quilting are for me - an outlet of creativity that allows me to take the time to make things that are truly special where the process is more important than the final product (in snail talk that would be the journey matters more than the getting there!).

And so that is how recherche´ came to be.

And there is more to come...

A New Look!

I don't have time this morning to go into detail as I am working at the shop today, but.... my blog has a new look! 

I'll explain everything in tonight's post - I just couldn't wait to add my lovely new banner!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm So Excited!

Today is a busy day; I have to start nailing down the projects for my Christmas Cupboard  classes as well as the corresponding recipes. I am making pretty good progress in narrowing things down, especially as we have cut down the number of classes. I am hoping to try out a few new techniques I am developing that will make things much easier for the fiddly little ones and one involves freezer paper - just another way to combine quilting and the kitchen! (And no, it isn't applique...)

I have to come up with a runner, cards, ornaments, gift bags and table decorations and get the samples finished by the end of August. Yikes! (I promise to post pictures on here as I complete them) I am thinking the runner will be a type of snowflake runner so people can use it for winter rather than just Christmas. There is a strong trend in the design world toward that and I think it's a great idea, especially for us Canadians who "celebrate" winter. The rest will be quick projects with lots of variations so they will hopefully appeal to all levels. And if I hope to have all this done in just over a month I had best get busy...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Storage Solutions

There is a lot of discussion in the quilting world about how things are stored, especially thread. I have tried various spool racks over the years and spent too much time trying to figure out ways to keep the dust off and still have it visible. (I like to see the colours!) 

After spending a lot of money on these "trials" I finally found, what is for me, the perfect solution... candy jars. How appropriate is that? The colours come through and the thread remains dust-free; the jars decorate my sewing table with all the pretty colours contained inside. I have them sorted so one contains all my hand quilting thread and the other has regular sewing thread. When I am looking for a particular colour I just pick up the jar and twirl it around in my hands until I see what I am looking for and then fish it out. I haven't had any problems with tangling as I ensure that the ends are always tucked into the gripper on the end of the spool before dropping it back in the jar.

Aren't They Pretty?

I especially like them because they were cheap, look nice and solved the dust problem - one less thing to vacuum!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yesterday I took a machine quilting class offered at the store by Chi Chi and in addition to thoroughly enjoying it, I learned a lot. She uses and teaches a Stop-Start method that certainly works for me - so well in fact, that I didn't even notice I don't have the needle down feature on my sewing machine! That has been a sore point with me since the first day I slid a quilt under the presser foot and started quilting. She also has a way of maneuvering and quilting large quilts on home sewing machines that I am anxious to try on the quilt I have been working on for my mother - it's 15 years in the making and has been at the quilting stage for 13 of them! I may just surprise her at the end of the month when she gets back from holidays....

In my last post I mentioned a give away so here we go. The first person that comes into the Sewing Basket on Friday, July 10 and tells me what method Chi Chi uses for machine quilting gets a gift from me!

By the way, the store opens at 9:00 am...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Making Progress

I have been busy today! Here it is, almost done. I have only to layer and quilt it - I think I will do a quick turn rather than binding and once I write out the instructions we can make the kits. It is of course much prettier in real life!

I like small projects like this as they work up fast, but since I was "designing" it (I am using that term loosely as it is adapted from another quilt pattern) there was some fiiguring things out involved. Really, just a perfect summertime project for all of you who would like to get a head start on Christmas things but aren't interested in tackling anything too involved. 

And now for a couple of new things. Firstly, although I have lots of ideas for the Friday Demos I would really appreciate hearing what you might like to see - so - leave suggestions in the comments (I promise to read them all) and if I use your idea you will get a gift!

Secondly, starting with the next blog, I will pose a question and the first person to come into the store on Friday and give me the answer will get a prize! (It has to be Fridays because that is the only day I work every week, and the question must be answered in person.) So - Friday July 10th will be the first one and we'll continue that throughout the summer. I think I'll call it "Fun in the Sun"...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day!

Here it is July 1 and I should be thinking in red and white and instead I am thinking Christmas! A customer was in the shop a few weeks ago and loved the Holiday Chorus quilt we have hanging as a kit sample. "Wouldn't that make a lovely table runner?" she said. And we agreed. So..... I'm sure you know the rest of the story already.... here is the work in progress!

A Good Start!

So far I have completed the centre block and picked the two panels. I fiddled around for half an hour last night and again this morning trying to decide what to do with the setting triangles as the quilt pattern has some lovely piecing for that area but it creates awkward areas when making a runner. After much carry on I have decided that plain old triangles will be best and then I can mess with the border a bit. Unfortunately I don't have enough of the right fabric (and it is just right!) so the whole thing will have to wait until the store is open again tomorrow. The good news is that there is lots of the "right" fabric left; the bad news is I promised the customer it will be done for Friday. 

I suspect I will be busy, busy, busy tomorrow.

Oh, and I promised the pattern would be ready too! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Messy Sewing Room

Remember a few weeks ago when I said you should see my sewing room? What a disaster it is whenever I have a Demo in the offing? Well, a very good friend gave me her old digital camera so I could post pictures on here and so I am! Below is a photo of one corner of my room (it really doesn't do the mess justice...) showing my piles - they actually covered a space of about four feet by six feet and averaged 18 inches high throughout - and that was just one corner!

After much tidying!

It took several hours but the end result was well worth it and now I can create in comfort.

Speaking of creating, the store needed to know what I had in mind for teaching on the Fall schedule so I finally had to put thought to paper. Jill's Christmas Cupboard is a go and will have all sorts of classes covering items you might like to have in your Christmas cupboard to decorate your home for the holidays. We're partnering up with Culinary Inspirations (the cooking store next door to the Sewing Basket) on this as well so food will definitely have a place in the Christmas Cupboard as well! 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer Vacation Starts

No more Demos until the Fall - at least not official ones! My classes are finished until then as well so I really feel like I am on summer vacation... if I remember correctly though, when I was the a child, one of the first things we did after school was finished was play school! And so - you guessed it - I am still coming up with demo ideas. It may not be a bad thing though as I just might be supremely organized when September rolls around - unlikely, but maybe!

We are already mulling over the Fall classes as well as a possible Challenge. We have had many people asking about the next lineup of classes already so it sounds as though it will be a busy time. I have been thinking about what I would like to teach and may have come up with a plan. Yep, a plan albeit a rudimentary one, but at least it gives me a starting point. Let's just say "Jill's Christmas Cupboard" seems like an appropriate title! More to come....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dandelion Girl

The next Demo is tomorrow and I am in high gear this morning! Diamonds have indeed made the final cut and they are certainly an interesting shape to work with - so much scope for design possibilities. The challenge was fabric choices, which I usually love to play with but frankly, I am a bit behind the 8 ball here!

I was thinking about what I should be doing (which was weeding - ugh!) and remembered a Jelly Roll I had bought last Fall called Dandelion Girl. As it was still intact (opened of course, but not used) I had a lot to play with and choose from. And have I been playing.... the first thing I should do when I get a camera is take pictures of  my sewing room the day before the Demo! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New Skills

Today I am learning a new skill - how to post a picture on here - the only trouble is I don't have a digital camera as yet and so this is the only picture of one of my original designs that I have on my computer (sent to me via email courtesy of my good friend Val!). So, although this is not the season for this design of mine, I do think the blog needs colour - and now I am excited about this so I believe I am going camera shopping soon. Then I will be able post "teaser shots" of upcoming Demo ideas....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Great Day!

Charm School was a great success - we had almost twenty participants, three separate demos (which naturally offered up way more than just three ideas!), lots of prizes and gifts, splendid desserts and -saving the best for a last - a "Buy One Get One Free" sale on Charm Packs, Jelly Rolls and Layer Cakes! I'm especially glad about the sale because of course, now that we have sold so many, we have to get new ones!

Seriously though, the Challenge was great and the quilts were lovely; it really is amazing what you can produce with the pre-cuts! 

I am now thinking about the Fall and the classes I would like to teach. We have so many people ask about smaller projects for Christmas decorations and/or gifts so my thinking is going along in that direction. It might be fun to have something a bit more structured than a class (think "series"), and perhaps bring in some other aspects of the holidays (like baking!) to add to the fun. A series of classes would require a name, and Jill's Christmas Cupboard is coming to mind as a possibility. Might be more like Pandora's Box though..... I seem to have a bit of a knack for no sooner getting myself  through one "brainwave" and then immediately landing squarely in the next!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Busy As A Bee!

Every single time there is any hope of getting caught up (I gave up hoping to get ahead long ago and now strive for just getting caught up!) I go and get a new idea..... you would think I would eventually run out room in the old noggin but apparently not - at least not yet! Let me just say this one will require a huge amount of work and a lot of time to bring to fruitition, but might just end up being my best achievement yet! 

Charm School at the Sewing Basket is this Sunday and I am mustering up all the prizes, give aways and goodies. We have planned several project demos and everyone will get kits for each project - how great is that! (Really, it's just so I don't have to be alone with a growing "To Do" pile!) Jan has also hinted at an amazing sale for the participants and I can't wait to see what she has up her sleeve!?!?

And of course, come Monday, it's on to the next Demo. I thought by now I might be stumped about what to offer up but as we all know in there is no shortage of new things in the quilting world. I found a new diamond ruler in the store as well as diamond-shaped papers, and may just have to prove that diamonds are indeed a girl's best friend. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


One Demo finished and now preparing for the next... I have almost completed the first item - I have taken a pattern from Fig Tree Quilts (you have to come to the Demo to see which one!) and "re-arranged" it a bit - as I always like to do - and am very happy - it's a beautiful pattern;  Joanna at Fig Tree is a popular designer in the quilting world and we sell a lot of her designs.

Today was our Guild meeting and I came home with three library books (and I get to keep them for the whole summer!) and two have set me off on another course - we got some new rulers in the store and I have used two but am itching to get to the third - I will only say it involves triangles... and very colourful fabric!

It's also time to start thinking about Fall classes, if there is any hope of having completed class samples and I have several thoughts racing around the old noggin (don't you just love old words - they are soooo descriptive). I am thinking of a series.... stay tuned!

And - Charm School at the Sewing Basket is coming up on June 7 and should be a hoot. (With a vocabulary like that I may be in need of my own dose of charm!)  We have concocted some amazing ideas for using these addictive pre-cuts and will also be showing what we can do with a "Jelly Roll"! See you soon...