Friday, May 28, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival -- Star Play Quilt

Hi! Welcome to the Blogger's Quilt Festival! If you've made it all the way to my post -- number six hundred and something -- your fortitude is amazing (and you should probably go to bed now)!

I'd like to show you all my favorite quilt of the year -- this star quilt.
This quilt started as a test star block for a virtual quilting bee. I hung it on my inspiration board and looked at it for three or four months. I loved the colours and the pattern, so eventually I decided to gather some of my favorite scraps and make some more.

I worked on the star blocks in between other projects, pieced here and there over about two months. I really liked this quilt by Jaquie and so I framed my blocks with some lovely chandalier fabric I had been saving for something special. Then I was at an impasse:

What to do next? Lay them next to each other? Put more brown and yellow around them? Sash them in blue? White? Straight? Wonky? I put the call out on Flikr and a few of my Flikr friends chimed in. I decided to lay them unevenly and sash them in white. Then I added the borders -- I didn't have enough to use any one print for my borders, so I improvised and made a double thin and thick border in a log cabin style. I didn't realize when I cut this out that this would involve some tricky set in seams, but I thin it was worth it for the effect. That red peony fabric is one of my favorites ever, and I used up all that I had to make the border.

This quilt is special to me for several reasons. It is my most original, improvised large quilt so far. I usually just play with mini quilts for swaps, but do simple, safe designs like squares or rectangles for my larger quilts. This was my first time taking a lot of inspiration from different sources and making them my own, and I am so happy with the results.

The other reason this quilt is special is because I did most of the stitching during the last three months of my pregnancy with my daughter. I made this for us to snuggle under during late night nursings on the couch and for her to play with on the floor. I finished it about four days before I gave birth to her, so the timing was perfect. All through the long winter when the sun is low and cool in the sky, this quilt kept me feeling warm and cheered.

And this quilt has been our living room quilt, making it the go to quilt for everything. As I was looking through my photos of the last year to choose a quilt for this quilt festival, this one kept appearing everywhere:

We all use it every day. And that is the main reason why I enjoy quilting. I like to make quilts for my family and friends (and once in a while even for me) that can become a part of the fabric of their daily lives. Quilts that will bring warmth and joy into people's lives. I want to make quilts that they will use until they are threadbare and well worn.

So that is my favorite quilt of the year. My happy quilt. Hope you like it as much as I do. To see over 500 other great quilts, go here:

Enjoy the rest of the festival, everyone!

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Pants!

What do you do when your three year old wakes EVERYONE up super early, including the baby, and her clothes are wet and you only have the energy to grab the nearest tank top to put on her, and discover that it is this ridiculously cute ruffle tank? Make baby pants, of course!

These are just right for Emma right now! I hemmed them a little shorter than the pattern, and they just hit her ankle when she's sitting. This means they will protect most of her leg from the bad spring mosquitos.
She seems pretty happy with them. You can sort of see in this photo, but the repeat on the fabric ended up being just the same size as the pants pattern, so the fabric repeats all the way around the pants. Yay for big Amy Butler prints!

They are also just slippery enough for scootching / crawling (we're just figuring out the former and hopefully she'll be slower than Aaron was) without being too slippery.
And they just fit over a cloth diaper. I was a little sloppy with the elastic casing, its actually supposed to be higher. But I guess if I need another pair to be a bit bigger, I can always add a gusset.

I think there will be a lot more of these in Emma's future. What's not to love about cute, hand made pants in 20 minutes?

I-spy quilt

I finally finished Aaron's quilt! And I must say I am rather proud of it.
Here it is decorating the tree house. Aaron really loves this quilt. He just found the jungle print and the owls on the back:

which led him to exclaim, "Oh, I like you Mom. I like you most of all. Thanks for stitching everything together on my quilt mom. I like it. I like you the most." This was accompanied with many hugs and face pats. That stripe is from Heather Ross' famed Lightening Bugs fabric line. It is ridiculously soft and light, and I picked it up before everyone started going crazy for this fabric on clearance for $4 a yard. The jungle fabric was snatched in a quilting shop closeing sale for the same price. (Although there is nothing more depressing than discovering the most awesome quilt shop on the prairies two days before it closes). Anyway, I had been saving them for this quilt back for a long time, and I'm glad I did because they are a nice mix of cute and soft and snuggly.

It is 5" finished squares laid out in diagonal rows, inspired by this lovely quilt on Flikr. I was a little worried about the lack of red squares, especially since there was so much red in so many of the fabrics. Binding it with red seems to have been the perfect solution -- it really makes the red in the squares pop, but did not require the accumulation of lots more red fabrics or a change in the layout of the quilt.

It is 60" X 75" and will be just the right size for quite a while. It is also the right size to share with all your friends while watching a movie, even if your mom isn't quite finished binding it yet.
Boy, its nice to finally have this one done! I love the satisfaction of making things for my own family.

Dear People of my Town:

Yes, it is true that I am moving. Yes, I am excited. No, I don't know where I'll be living or what kind of job I'll be doing. Yes, I do know that there will be traffic and I'm actually not worried about it. No, I don't know all the details of how we are going to move -- it is two and a half months away. Yes, I have moved across the country before and I know it is complicated. No, I don't need you to talk out all the details with me and "help" me figure them out or "remind" me of details I may have forgotten. In fact, it would be best if you just moved on and stopped obsessing about how I am going to move. I can handle it. The move, the city, the kids. Really. Its okay. It is possible to move somewhere else. Honest.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This and that

Well, there haven't been many craft photos recently, because I'm sort of in the middle of several big projects. The first is this quilt of Aaron's. You see, every time I've finished a quilt for the last eight or nine months, he's asked, "Is THIS one for me, mom?" And I've had to say no. So after Olivia's quilt, I promised him that the next quilt I finished would be his quilt. Of course, I've also been playing around with Emma's quilt, and I also promised my friend a picnic quilt in time for the nice weather (that would be last week) so I've gradually piecing that one, too. So instead of working on one or possibly two quilts at a time I find myself working on three quilts plus quilt blocks for my quilting bee, plus curtains. This means when I go down to sew in my precious few moments of sewing time, I spend about 20 min. deciding what to work on, about 10 min. sewing, and then the baby wakes up / gets bored / a fight breaks out / someone gets hungry or has an accident and that's the end of my sewing time.

Fortunately, Aaron's quilt now looks like this:
All basted and half quilted. In fact, last night I finished the quilting, so I just have to bind it now. This is such a cute, cheery quilt and he loves it and keeps asking, "Can I sleep with it now, Mom?"

I'll show the picnic quilt when I'm done it (only ties left to do now), but the other things I'm slowly tinkering with is putting a back together for this:

Isn't it a beauty? Made by the ladies of the Stash Busting Bee International. I was supposed to get 12 blocks back, but a lot of generous people sent two, so I was able to make it 4 blocks by 4 blocks and even had to leave one out (sorry, Shannon, but I included your funky 5-sided one) and I shall use the extra block and scraps to make a doll quilt.

I think I'm going to try hand quilting it, so I can have a pick-up-and-put-down project upstairs (and also because I think season 6 of Project Runway must be out of video by now and so its time for another PR marathon). So I've been playing around with what to put on the back. I had a selection of nice soft, cute pinks and greens and browns picked out, but I decided to get Emma's opinion.

So I brought her down to the ironing board and showed her the fabrics, hoping she would grab at a few and give me a hint. She completely ignored them. Not even a glance. She was more interested in my Ikea mini-drawers. So we went over and looked at those, and then I started thinking about something else I needed for a different project and I pulled out one of my bins and the moment I did she reached out a grabbed . . .

my pink and purple Good Folks. And Amy Butler (which didn't make the cut in the end). The girl has a mind of her own and vibrant, expensive taste already. Which is okay, even though I JUST found those Chocolate Lollipop purples (the pink and purple swirls at the top and the big flowers at the bottom) and those Mendoccino prints are highly coveted and out of print. Because I'm trying to be all about using my fabrics, right? Didn't I buy them to use? Isn't a quilt we use every day a better place for them than a bin where they just get patted and then carefully folded away again?

Its just that once you use something it no longer has all the possibilities . . . and I do so love possibilities. Oh well, there will be scraps. And it will make a fun, if mis-matching back for Emma's quilt. And she was cooing and chattering away while riding on my back as I put these on my design wall, so me thinks she will like it.

And I do need to use up some fabric so I have room for all these:
because I have 3 baby quilts I've like to make (twin boys and a mystery baby) so of course I need new fabric. Isn't it ridiculously cute?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

You know you've been married a while

when your dish colours start coming back into style. They had the stone-ish colour too.

Have any of you other Canadians seen these babies yet? They are 70% corn starch and apparently biodegrade in one year. I got them at Extra Foods (aka Superstore, Lawblaws and, I think, Zehrs (?)).

I figure this makes them better than regular plastic, although I could be wrong -- the other 30% could be pure toxins (polypropylene?).

In our house this means that when they inevitably get left in the back yard over the winter, we won't find them in the spring.

Saturday, May 01, 2010


Andrew has been bugging Dave forever to build a treehouse. So finally, when we had a nice day, Dave pulled all the scraps out of the shed and built two little platforms and a few steps. I know he's in the middle of thinking in this photo, but he really did have fun.The boys quite like it. Andrew wants to paint it, and we compromised with me painting just the top of the platforms for them, so that the entire tree and lawn don't end up painted as well.

We have big news around here -- we are going to be moving to Montreal in August so that Dave can attend McGill in the fall. Unless we are very, very lucky this is going to be our last summer with a back yard for quite a long time. We will dearly miss our wonderful patch of grass and trees and sand. But on the upside, we will enjoy having all the challenge and action and adventure of the city.

Its funny, because Dave and I are just kind of city people -- one of our favorite activities is people watching, which is hard to do in a town where you know everyone. But as a crunchy sort of person I feel like that is somehow "wrong". Like everyone who is sort of crunchy should dream about having a farm and living completely off the grid. But we care about buying ethically and making our own things and living frugally and leaving a smaller environmental footprint, but we also want to live in the middle of lots of other people who are thinking and talking and engaging with one another and expressing their cultural similarities and differences all around us. I don't think living conscientiously is exclusively a concern of people who enjoy rural lives.

And I do think its still possible to get your kids outside and enjoying nature in the city -- there are lots of big parks to explore, after all, and lots of walking to do. And in the city we can also explore different cultures and kinds of food that we wouldn't encounter in a smaller town. I think that can be part of learning to think globally and care for others, too.

Anyway, all that to say that we will miss our back yard and our freedom to have the kids run in and out of the house as they please. So Dave has built a tree fort for the boys to enjoy this spring and summer while they still have a back yard.