Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quilting In France or Quilting in French?

Lately it seems wherever you turn in the quilting world you encounter France. Or rather, the French language.

Several of the last few year's fabric lines have been given French names, and some are even reproductions of vintage French textiles. Patterns and designs for everything from quilts to bags are also given a French identity... perhaps having a French name imparts a certain amount of "cachet" ... a "je ne sais quoi..."

We were in France a year and a half ago and I need to go back. I really, really need to go back. It truly was indescribable for many reasons but my favourite was the language. I studied French in school from Grade 5 to Grade 12 and was amazed how quickly it came back; after only two days I was already remembering vocabulary I had thought long gone. Trouble was, I couldn't always remember the meaning of every word that came to mind!

Last week I was bundling up little fabric packs at work and the one below followed me home.

Lovely pinky-brown fabrics - tres jolie!

I played with my camera a bit and tried creating a setting for it - I like this picture much better than the first one.

So now, what to make? I have an idea or two, but one thing I know for sure - the name of the design will be Cafe Au Lait!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pleasant Distractions

I have been so distracted for the past week thanks to the Olympic Games. As many of you know my daughter Laura has been working for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for just over a year as an Assistant to Curling. She has been checking in regularly, making sure we are watching. And we are!

I have very diligently been parked in the chair with a healthy stack of various projects requiring handwork. What I work on is entirely dependant on the sport I am watching - some like skating, require full visual attention so knitting is my choice. Curling allows ample time for looking away so that is the time for crazy quilting. And so it goes...

I realized I hadn't posted all my hearts - from when Rebecca Sower suggested we post heart-themed blogs and so here are two more...

This is a salt-dough heart plaque I made in 1996. It's supposed to have a ribbon hanger; when I made it I couldn't find one in the right colour, right width, so set it aside. I think it's time to dig around a bit - or I could cut a fabric strip and maybe pink the edges....

This is a little button heart - they are glued on to a wooden heart shape - I just need to glue cord around the raw edge to finish it and perhaps some felt on the back. I couldn't decide if it should be a tree ornament or brooch... hence it's unfinished state. (Notice a recurring theme?)

Another view, undoctored in the photo lab. This projects date back to about 1996 as well!

Also, I have added a few more links to blogs I like to follow. Some are about quilting, some are not, but one thing they have in common is beautiful photography. When I look at their photos I am green with envy! I struggle with getting pictures that are in focus - never mind being beautiful! So I am playing around a bit and trying out some of the editing tools, but oh, it is a challenge!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring is in the Air?

I have Spring Fever already. Fair enough, I suppose, due to the ridiculously warm winter we have had. And so I am dreaming of fresh herbs and pretty flowers.

It all started when I opened the closet in my sewing room and a bag of stuffing fell on my head. I came face to face with a big mess and since I didn't really have anything else tugging at me I decided it was time for a little Spring Cleaning.

That closet housed two large bags of driftwood (my husband swears it's half a cord), a bag of rocks from the top of Grey Mountain in the Yukon ( large rocks), three plastic containers (each one is 2 feet by 3 feet) filled with scraps, unfinished projects, upholstery fabrics and silks etc for crazy quilting, a Singer Featherweight sewing machine in it's little black box, a 13kg bag of crushed walnut shells for pin cushions, a large portfolio filled with needlework projects, all my batting (a 3 foot stack), and several containers, each measuring at least ten inches square, holding an even longer list of crafting supplies.

And that is just what is on the floor!

So I hauled it all out and re-organized. And decided the time has come to actually do something with all that driftwood. The little pieces are for elf canes and the larger ones were destined for furniture making.

But now I think I shall try to fashion some sort of a garden trellis with it instead - and then maybe I can grow something like these...

This picture is from last summer and is of a friend's garden. I can only aspire to grow flowers like this.

And that is why I am thinking of spring.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pale is Pretty

I like pale. Pale fabrics, pale threads, pale ribbons, pale buttons...

Several years ago I ventured into pale crazy quilting. The fabrics ranged from ivory to a light beige and the threads were an icy blue, again from ivory to the palest of grey-blues.

(The detail photo above is from a small bag that is meant to hold greenery; the stitching is all done by hand.)

I had such fun with the first piece (which was a wall-hanging that happily lives with a good friend) that I went on to create all sorts of things. You see, I think of crazy quilting as making a piece of fabric; a truly unique piece of fabric that you can then make into anything you want.

I made stockings and bags and angels. And wall-hangings and table runners. And while I love the look of the icy blues, now I am seeing something else.

I have been collecting various grey fabrics and threads for several years now. I think I have almost everything I need now to create a piece of fabric that is reminiscent of rain...

The Winner Is!

As promised, the winner's name was drawn last Thursday night and it was Marj!

I did have a little something for Lucille, the other "commenter" - a fat quarter of a background fabric I used in the other heart wall hanging. It is a cream fabric with black writing in French - a perfect background fabric for all things romantic.

So "Thank You" to you both!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My Very Best Friend

So, I may have mentioned in an earlier post that I did a lot of needlework before I ventured into quilting.

Today's heart and love-themed words come from a small needle book I designed for one of my very first teaching classes. It features both Counted Thread and Pulled Thread stitches with picots (the little bumps along the edges) and is stitched with silk and linen threads on linen fabric.

This little needle book is very special to me for many reasons: it is useful, it was my first design, it was my first full day teaching class, it incorporates some of my favourite stitches, the silk threads have the loveliest sheen, there is a lovely, tiny pink heart, but most of all, it has one of my favourite verses on it.

The poem is by Louise J. Kirkwood and it perfectly describes my feelings for the needle. It has been my best friend for the better part of my life and I would be lost without it.

Is it the same for you?

Friday, February 5, 2010

An Affair of the Heart

Rebecca Sower ( has suggested on her blog that we have "heart sessions" on our own blogs where we post pictures of hearts with a few love-themed words. I love the idea so here is my first contribution...

"And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, so eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!"

Lord Byron

I made this ornament many years ago after seeing a photo of a similar angel in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. There was no pattern, nor indication of size so I played around a bit on paper and came up with this little angel. Her dress is a heart shaped piece of fabric edged with lace and sewn all over with tiny buttons. Her wings are a larger heart that is lightly quilted and her halo is a twist of dried grapevine.

I can't count how many of these I have made over the years but this little "blue" angel was always my favourite so I kept her. And each year she has a place of honour on my Christmas Tree.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Patched Hearts

So my first blog give-away is ready to be given. There were only two comments but they were good ones by good friends so I am very happy about that.

And, as they will be both be at our quilting group tonight I will do the draw there and personally present the winner with their token quilt. But I do have a little something for the non-winner too.... I dislike "loser" so non-winner it is.

Today I am home alone and have been mucking around in my scraps (I have a lot of them so at times I was literally knee deep!). I have had patched heart tags on my mind for a while now and decided today was the day to start figuring out what I wanted to do. I have spread out in three rooms - kitchen, family room and sewing room and aside from trudging up and down many stairs many times, it is nice to have everything laid out. I am a visual person remember?

I have four almost done - the ribbons and buttons aren't actually sewn on yet, they're just strategically placed for the photo (that's what I intend to work on at Quilting) and I still have to make the labels for the backs.

Of course I embroidered the seams, and the edges are pinked. I tried one with a plain edge but just didn't like it; I would rather a frayed edge but haven't yet figured out how to tear a heart shape! So pinked it is for now.

If you click on the photo you will get an enlarged version and can better see the stitching.

I think these would be fun tag to place on the bags at my Sale next year. That means I need to make about 50....