Peace is...a world in which women are inspired to hope and imagine.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

really quick post

since I haven't posted anything for the last few weeks - you may be waiting with baited breath for an update on the peace quilt, or even just the Listen block...
Well, there are problems with one of the battery chargers, which is causing the camera batteries to whack out - so pictures are an issue right now. I wanted to post today about one of the reasons why there is no quilt update - I'm making Christmas cards! so just imagine the picture - my sewing desk cleared off (no sewing machine, rulers, cutting board, scissors or whatever) - and instead, covered with card stock, ink pads, stamps, embossing powder, embossing machine, more stamps and so forth. These have to get done! and it's fun. Most of it was done with DIL and her son, with Toby and DIL's dog CJ popping in to keep an eye on things (literally "popping in").

Also working on Christmas presents, so no pictures of the ironing board or of the fabric hanging on the quilt frame - that would give it away.

The Listen block - I ran out of my blue thread for my satin stitch, and haven't gotten back to it yet. But have ideas of how to do it differently next time! and thinking about my other squares.

There is a block quilt just waiting to be sewn (from a precut kit). I'm not terribly fond of the fabrics anymore, so am having a bit of a hard time just getting into piecing these blocks (8" blocks).

And I still owe 2 or 3 posts - one of the cottage quilt (my first big quilt), one of quilts & afghans from my Oma, and one of an afghan that DH's sister made for us, and it's history.

Anna in Switzerland finally received her quilt "Fast Asleep on Cloud Nine"...I hope she sleeps well on it!

Also spending a lot of time getting into a meditation practice - I think I'm on day 16. It takes about 21 days of repetition, I understand, to form and ingrain a new habit. Sleeping tons better and much less stressed about life in general.

Anyways, that's the update. Will try to get pix for next time!

Have a good weekend!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Listen Block

I'm so excited...I tried to get this up last night, but the batteries in the camera were shot so I had to let them charge overnight.

I've been planning a design for a peace quilt over the last few months, doodling here and there. It's based on concepts from a course I've taken called "Peace Building Conversations", which has turned into more of an ongoing journey than a course that you do and leave behind. I've met some great people, too.

This will not be a quick quilt - some of the blocks I'll need to practice first. Some blocks I need to buy a book for so that I can figure out how to do the piecing.

Last night, I was inspired to start the first one - this is the one that got me thinking about the whole concept of my peace quilt. It's the Chinese figure for listen. Another post, I will go through the various pieces of the figure...for now - it's started!

I'm trying reverse applique (my first time!). Last night I zipped up the pieces of material, and picked out the first piece of applique and satin stitched around it. If I couldn't finish it, I at least wanted to see if it was going to work!

The above picture is the backside. The white fabric is sewn with the good side to the underside of the blue fabric, and I pinned the paper to the top. In the pictures below, you can still see pieces of paper sticking to the top.

Once I sewed the design, I picked off the paper. I realized the blue thread I used for the piecing was I went over the stitching with a white quilt marker, and shaded in areas that need to be cut out.

This is the first cut out. So I trimmed out the material, really close to the stitching line, and then satin stitched, for an applique look, the blue material to the white, stitching over the straight stitch line and catching the raw side of the blue material.

Lot's of things to work out - the corners, the paper I used for the pattern (too thick), the fact that the blue thread I used to sew the material together was too dark - so I couldn't see where the stitching was, when it came time to start cutting out the lots to learn. Stay posted.

NOTE: I've set up a list of people to get an email when I publish to my blog. If you do not want to be on this list, please let me know & I will remove you.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blogger’s Quilt Festival - Fast Asleep on Cloud 9

It's exciting to be participating in Amy Ellis' Blogger's Quilt Festival (BQF)! Over the last 6 months or so, I've been happily drawn into a great net of quilters who blog about their work. It's so much fun, and I've learned a lot from all of these talented craftspeople who are also talented businesspeople.

As I mention in my profile blurb, I've been a quilter for a while - very sporadic from highschool until about 2001, when I started my first quilt in about 5 years. I don't have a post on this quilt yet, so I won't tell the whole story here. Since then, I've been getting more and more focused on quilting. Until 2009 - 2010. Let's call it the year of the babies. I'm not a mother, and have no intention of being one, and am now at the point (ok, age) where people no longer ask me why not. That's not to say I don't appreciate the wee ones...although I've been known, if there's a choice between a dog or a baby, to gravitate to the dog! Anyways, in the year of the babies, after years and decades of having friends with no little human critters crawling around - they all came in one year! So I made this the year of the baby quilts, the year to dive into my hobby. I have no intention of ever getting to 30 quilts a year, or even 20...and even 10 may be stretching it - but this last year has certainly put me firmly back into my hobby with great excitement.

The quilt I've chosen for BQF is "Fast Asleep on Cloud 9", from "the little box of Baby Quilts", by Jenny Wilding Cardon at Thewildcards blog. This quilt is for Anna, who lives in Switzerland with her parents Irene and Ambros. She'll be a year old in December. For the other 3 baby quilts (see earlier blogs from this year), the mothers' chose the design and picked the fabric. Since Irene lives in Switzerland, I made the executive decision on design and fabric. I wanted something soft and dreamy for this little girl!

I thought a meandering quilt pattern would give the impression of clouds all over...and I think it worked. There are a few hearts and clouds with echo quilting thrown in too. 

My exposure to the quilt blog world quickly showed me that I could be creative with the backing - so I searched for an idea that would follow with the cloud theme, and came up with a night sky - this lovely dark blue fabric with shooting stars. The Shooting Star Square is from Jennifer Chiaverini's Sylvia's Bridal Sampler from Elm Creek Quilts. If you love quilting, and you love mysteries, the Bridal Sampler quilt is a key component of the Elm Creek Quilts mystery novels.

Quilting is an ongoing learning process for me. I challenge myself to learn something new each time...well, I don't even have to challenge myself. It kinda happens organically. So as part of the process for me - what did I learn with this quilt?
1. backing can be fun! It doesn't have to be a plain piece of material.
2. fun backing translates into considerations for quilting...those seams, and those star points. I hadn't thought about how the piecing seams of the star blocks would affect the machine quilting.
3. border quilting needs to be planned in advance of actually quilting.
4. sometimes you can be creative if you run into issues with quilting that needs to be taken out...there was a section of the border that I couldn't get righ (even though it was most basic), so after I bound it, I took the quilting out again, and replaced with a handquilted cloud and heart.
5. labels can be creative too...I had my stepdaughter letter the labels on to the shooting pieces of the stars with fabric pen - she has lovely writing.
6. machine quilting is improving. Stitch size is not yet consistent. I learned some lessons from Leah Day's videos that helped me with moving my material around and figuring out how to approach the quilting.
7. there's likely more..but that seems like a pretty comprehensive list!
8. I know - the thread I used - a Sulky 30 wt blendable blue/gold/green variegated thread (733). I thought it would be lovely on the night sky on the back - like the Milky Way or clouds of stars...and it was! But I only bought one spool, and when it came to the border, I ran out. So therefore the pretty plain border. Lesson learned - always buy 2 spools of a great thread.
9. Next time my meandering quilting should be less tightly spaced to make for a softer quilt. (it is pretty soft - with more spacing in the quilting, it would be even softer!)

Material: Blues- stonehenge #3952 and3953 by Sunshine Cottage from Northcott; the white was an extra wide piece, no idea of source, and the yellows in the star from my stash -  all from my LQS Creative Sisters' Studio. It's machine bound, using the light blue from the front for the binding. Dimensions are apprx 60"x60.

Now that I know about all the available fabric online, you can be sure that my next fabric purchases will be from some fabulous online store!

Thanks for reading and Happy Quilting!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

consistent stitches

Have you ever wondered why it's necessary to have consistently sized stitches in quilting? Why it's a prized skill? Why would anyone need to make sure that there are 8-10 stitches / inch for handquilting, and a standard sized consistent stitch for machine quilting? Well, detail oriented artistic types might say because of aesthetics, because an even consistent stitch is lovely to behold. Quilt masters might say because it's indicative of skill set. I put forward another reason. Not that I disagree with either of these, at all. However, what I think quilt classes neglect to teach and online resources never that the more consistently sized the stitch is, the easier it is to rip it out. And I learned that lesson today. Got done quilting "asleep on a cloud" (otherwise known as "fast asleep on cloud nine"), on the main part of the quilt top. Why I did not spread the meander quilting all over the top - that means including the outside border - is beyond me. Now I'm short on thread, and was planning to do something funky on the border. Say, a heart in each corner, and hearts and clouds all along the border. No sooner do I do the first heart and I say...hmmm...not liking that  heart. Do I stop? No, I continue. I do the first cloud, with the thread breaking once, and realize that I'm going to have do some echo stitching around the cloud to get out of it where I need to to go to the next heart. Do I think it looks OK? hmm. not really. and I keep going...the next heart...hard time getting into it, couldn't get out of it to move on the to the next piece...and out it all comes. 10 inches of quilting...straight line between 1 heart to 1 cloud to 1 heart. I just finished. This took me oh, say about 5 minutes to quilt, and an hour to take out. And why was it so hard to take out? because my stitch length varied from very very very tiny, to a gapping half centimetre. omg. And now what am I going to do on the border? Really, am almost out of this lovely thread - variegated with blue, yellow and white - it looks just lovely on the clouds, and gorgeous on the deep blue sky backing. If I run out of thread, that means a trip to Guelph this week...for one spool of thread.

What else have I learned in quilting this quilt? well, that another machine would be great. Sewing machines have what is called a "throat", the distance between where the needle drops down to where the body of the machine in. My Janome sewquist has about a 5" throat, and it's awful hard to squeeze 30" of fabric into those 5 "...and then manuever the material in a manner that will keep the stitch length consistent. Other machines intended for machine quilting have a 10" or 12" throat. Where's my Christmas list??

OK, putting it down for the night to think about the border, and come back with a clear head. At least all the bad stitching is out. If I hadn't done that now, I would have left it for a very long while!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

deep breath...and jump right in

Hookay, started the quilting on Anna's quilt this afternoon. Took a deep breath, watched several quilting videos - especially by Leah Day...and sunk the needle in. Exhilirating on one hand, and very scary on the other. Turned on some soothing music (I tell ya, when Toby's favourite Reiki CD comes in, that will be my quilting music!!), took a swig of a Coke..and started! Time now for Toby's much deserved walk, the patient boy. Will continue after the walk...who knows, by end of day tomorrow, I might even have it bound!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Getting ready to quilt "Floating on a Cloud" for Anna...

I love this quilt. I don't want to post pictures is a gift and I picked out the pattern myself - unlike the last few, where the mother to be picked out the pattern. I'm very excited. The blocks were a great size to work with on the front, and on the back, I did something different that I've never done before...sticking to my M.O. to always do at least one new thing on every quilt. I'm even practicing the quilting motif (which is intended to be a fairly large meander) on paper with the machine in advance. I did manage some machine quilting risk by not getting the fabulous thread I really wanted...I got a quilting thread somewhat more muted that will be very forgiving of mistakes. The quilt itself is also larger than the other baby quilts I've made. For those of you who know me, you will understand when I saw that visualizing measurements is not my forte. so...60" VS 46", yeah, it's a different size, but would I actually catch that? nope, not me. So actually quilting it will be more of a challenge than the others - that's a lot of my material for my Janome sewquist and me to manage.

What else...I'm working on trying to instill some order into the list of projects around the place. I love lists and planning (why else would I be a project manager!), but somehow my tools from my workplace haven't really made it home with me. So, I've found this great low tech way to organize projects in various areas of the home: Personal Kanban...found it via The Simple Dollar, which is a great blog about simplifying your life, and managing your personal finances. So I'm in the process of setting up my personal kanban for our household far, the "To Do" side is the only side with something in it. I'm also going to set one up for my quilting projects. They are piling up in my head, and need to make it down on paper or a wall somewhere so I can start prioritizing and visualizing.

One of my next projects that I want to start on is a quilt based on a course I just finished on Peace Building Conversations, from Shirley Martin. I'm having a great time planning and designing blocks in my head. This quilt will be a challenge for me all over...being the first time I'm designing one, to the types of blocks I'm going to use, to the way it's going to be quilted...etc.

And the Sampler quilt? I've gotta get a name for it. It's coming off the quilting frame and coming with me on Thanksgiving - who knows, maybe the quilting will get finished over that weekend.

Other projects? Christmas is coming up...I've been saying for years I want to make a tree maybe this is the year, and maybe placemats and napkins to match. Also, all the babies could use what, bibs? and maybe I can extend into simple coats, etc? I see so many beautiful designs online from the various blogging quilters out there. I am so inspired by their work and their fabrics and their creativity!!

No pictures this time!! maybe next time, when the Cloud quilt is done and flying on it's way to Switzerland...

Peace & Adventure, Liz

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Anna's quilt...started!

Hit Creative Sisters' Full Moon Frenzy on Tuesday...booked off work early and made sure I had plenty of time to browse! Thank god for blackberries, because all I had was an email listing the material required for this lovely quilt. And only 2 fabrics required!

and oh, do I need to learn more about taking pictures, wow. OK, trying to get a copy of the pattern, and then a pic of the material. All washed, and now ironing. I am thinking very much about what I want to do for the backing on this one. I think I want to do something different, something fun on the back, something special...I'll be thinking about this one...

I'm also thinking about what to do with all the blocks of test free motion quilting...looking at a cool thing called "rag quilting". I think I'll try it and let you know how it goes!

so meh on scanning the pattern, or taking a good picture of the pattern for now. Sorry, Irene, you'll just have to wait!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

what have I been doing instead of posting

busy month! whole lotta stuff going on instead of posting...

first of all, clearing out books. We have about 8 boxes of books in the basement from when we moved in 2007. Unopened. And full bookshelves upstairs. So I'm working through all the boxes and emptying shelves

There are still about 8 boxes in the basement...have only made it through the shelves in the main house.

THEN.... our first attempt at a garden, and someone had to do something about the tomatoes. I figured out how to string them up

So far, only 2 tomatoes have shown up. I think I was too late.

And then....

freezer pickles, berries berries berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries) and pounds and pounds of beans. Last beans in the freezer today. Whew!! and still trying to get a few hours in on the sampler quilt a week.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Barn Quilting

Surfing through somewhere online for some reason (I really can't remember how I started down this path!), I came across the Barn Quilt idea. Donna Sue Groves started the concept several years ago (link to a video on the right side of the screen, and link to blog tracking the American Quilt trail here: American Quilt Trail). What a beautiful idea! Oh..I remember...AccuQuilt had an article on Facebook about unveiling their Barn Quilt Square ( and I just had to see more. I'm trying to find some more information on the Canadian portion of this beautiful folk art. The picture above is of Donna Sue Groves, and the first square on her barn. There are several links to videos in my "what I'm looking at" list on the right side of this page. This is really incredible. This link shows all the quilt trails currently in place: American Quilt Barn Trails. I need to go soon as I find out about the trails in Canada, I will post on it! I know what I need to do on my next vacation with my sister in North Carolina now!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

finger calluses

I'm getting in maybe an hour a day on the handquilting for my sampler quilt. You may that all you have time for? and the straightforward answer is, yes, it is. There is another answer, and that it is...I do try to watch the blood on the quilt. What??? When you handquilt, one hand is on top of the quilt, pushing the needle, and one hand is underneath, guiding the needle. The needle catches 4 or so stitches at a time. You need to make sure that the needle actually goes through the whole quilt sandwich (the quilt backing, the batting, and the quilt top), otherwise, well, you kinda lose the purpose of the quilting stitch  - to pull all the layers together. The idea is to have small even stitches, about 6 or 8 to an inch. I wear a thimble on the index finger on my right hand, the hand on top of the quilt pushing the needle, because there is a lot of force (relatively) used by that finger. However, on the bottom hand, I need to feel the needle coming through the material, so I don't use a thimble on that hand. I switch the fingers around, from index to middle, but it still takes time to develop a callus that allows me to feel the needle...yet not draw blood. And all my calluses that I gained from quilting the cottage ninepatch (for which I have yet to post pictures), 4 years ago, are all gone. So I am building up my endurance! I don't know how other quilters manage this, but I've tried various thimbles and other arrangements, and this just seems to work best for me...

I'm off with my callusing fingers now to bed...good night!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Tulip Quilt

This quilt was made for my sister Rose, who lives in the States. I picked the pattern out say way back in 2005, and bought the material before we sold the cottage, from a great fabric store just outside of Bancroft. This woman had a fabric store in Bancroft for many years, but just couldn't manage the rent. I think she was 75 years old or so in 2005. So she moved the store out to her home, and built a large structure on her property. I have not, in all my visiting of fabric stores, seen such a selection of fabric. I think I spent 3 hours there picking out the material. I started with my preferences, and then came back to earth, reminding myself that the quilt wasn't for me - it was for my sister and her husband. hmm. just looked for the store listing on line, and maybe it's not there any more. Too bad. This lady was running this store, and in her house, she had more fabric and 2 quilt frames that I could see.

I wanted to give my sister a garden full of tulips, butterflies and sunshine with a breeze blowing through. The offwhite background actually has butterflies in the fabric. I had the quilt machine quilted by Creative Sisters  in Kitchener, using a Wind pantogram. This was a fun quilt to make - it was set on the diagonal - that was the first new thing for me on this quilt. What else - I learned about keeping my bobbin casing clean. Screwed up the tension and I didn't bother to correct it. I took the quilt down in May 2009 when I went to visit my sister, and we found some seams were giving already (because of my tension problem). So when my mother went to visit, in June of that year, she fixed it - by machine sewing the seam, around the quilt, to hold it in place. My bad for not dealing with the tension. Now the lovely wind pantogram has a straight line around all 4 borders. Sigh. At least it will keep it together. That's what happens with living, usable art! and that's what I want to, functional art, which is why I'm so fond of quilts.

I've got one more quilt to post up, when I take the pictures -this will be my first large (queen size) quilt - the cottage quilt. More on this one when I do that post...then I'll be all caught up!

Emma's Cobblestone quilt...done! ( 2 weeks ago)

And there the 3rd one is finished. Learned so much on this one, specifically on the quilting - about tension, and positioning of the quilting, understanding how best to put a label one (let's just say that the next one will have a better label on it). The binding doesn't throw me any more either. The design is simple, which really works with the primary colours of the quilt. Gave the quilt to Emma (via Steve and Krista, of course) on the July weekend. I'm interested in seeing how the invisible thread works out!

And now...taking a break. Getting pack to the quilt on my hand quilting frame (pictures below). What a different pace. Cleaned up the patterns I've been using, organized the training material I have. Need to get the sewing room organized next - there is material everywhere. And thinking about the next more baby quilt to do for Anna; completion of this sampler; I have a block quilt kit (precut squares from material selected by the quilt store); I want to do a mariner's compass wallhanging of green and blue and yellow; and earlier this week, I had my first quilt dream - where I worked through foundation piecing together a human figure (OK, more like a gingerbread man) in greens and blues. And, like I said, this is besides organizing the room! Oh yeah, and taking the stray practice machine quilting blocks, and putting together a Toby blanket. Hmm. I have to see how many of those I have! I've done a lot of practicing over these 3 quilts!

and here's a bit of the sampler on the quilting frame...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

on a roll

OK, we're on a roll this week. Yesterday - finished Garrett's quilt!! hand tacked the binding...for the first time in my quilt making history, the binding seemed very straightfoward. Nice to get to that point. Next quilt, I'll machine tack the binding, to give it a nice finished edge. Pix of garrett's quilt ..somewhere in here.
NOW!! zooming through Emma's quilt...decided to keep to the cobblestone theme, and do grid quilting rather than free motion. Had to work out how to handle the yellow blue and red (pix next post), without changing thread every 2 minutes, and also to not have the quilting thread over power the yellow and blue. SO solution...invisible thread on top, red on the bottom. Having some issues working out the tension so that the red thread does not pull through to the top, but I think I may have worked that out on the wall hanging portion of the have just put my quilt sandwich together, machine is all suited up, have my face mask on (multi tasking of course!!), Toby and I are going to head out to get some chips...and then we are in for long haul tonight. GOAL!!! finish the quilting on Emma J's quilt tonight! and then just need to bind time for Emma's potential visit this weekend! Rose, Garrett's quilt should be in the mail on Monday!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

border time

Just starting the border favourite resource site is I'm loving having the office right by my sewing room - as I run into questions, I dash into the office, search quilt university or other quilting sites, or find a video on youtube to help me out. Who knew quilting and technology would go so well together? My sewing machine is low tech - it can do straight stitches, zig zag and buttonhole (although I have some pretty fancy feet for quilting!), and my training tools are as high tech as they get. Love it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Garrett's quilt - quilting is done! (but not the quilt yet)

Last night, I took many deep breaths...and finished the quilting. I had to accept that it won't be the most professional job, that I'm still learning...and lo and behold, it turned out pretty good. Except for the back. Somehow I'm not getting the tension right. Not sure how to fix that up. So now have to sink the threads, and do the binding and done!!! The binding is less scary than it used to be, now that I've done a few. In fact, I may even try to nicely machine stitch this binding rather than hand stitch it, just to give it a whirl. My mitred corners on the last quilt turned out much better than I expected, so there should be just that much more improvement this time! and yes, picture pictures pictures. Coming. I want to take a course with quilt university online that teaches how to take good pictures of my quilts. And on a tangent, taking pictures with the camera and then having to load them to the computer and then post them strangely seems like a very convoluted process. What does that say about how much we rely on technology??

Sunday, May 30, 2010

still procrastinating...

what a week, and the quilt is not yet done. I love how the quilting magazine says - this is a weekend project. Who's weekend? what time zone are they in? what clock do they use?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

learning by doing things the wrong way

Took a evening long introduction to machine quilting class this past Monday, courtesy of KW Sewing Machines. Wendy Lamb was the gracious and informative instructor. I started making a list of all the things I did wrong on Sunday on the Pond Friend's quilt for Garret...a few of them:
1. using the same colour thread in the bobbin as the top thread...which means the backing has all sorts of different coloured lines on it. I'm not done yet, so I can save the rest of it by using a nice dark green all across the back.
2. in using walking foot, I REVERSED to tie down the threads...I did pull up the bobbin thread to start, but still reversed at the start AND the end. I will now take the time and have the patience to do this right, and use a needle to hide the threads into the sandwich. whoops. Ah, Garrett won't notice...
3. in the appliques of the animals, I fused them on to the top, and then satin stitched them on the top..and then when quilting, did a "stitch in the ditch" thing around the satin time I will fuse them and then do a nice decorative stitch to secure them when the quilt is sandwiched!!
so that's just a few. Going to go back now and work on the remaining quilting, and try to get some pix up this weekend. Have lot's of ideas for quilting Emma J's quilt now!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Starting quilting of Garrett's quilt

The quilt top is done, and the sandwich is spray basted (505 spray). The weather is nice and sunny, and of course, I should be outside in the sun instead of working on the quilt. But Lenore is coming over and I'm hoping against all odds that the quilt will be done and ready to go by the team Lenore leaves on Friday morning...that's a lot of hours between now & then! The top is all marked, and I'm nervous about going ahead and starting the work. Start with the stitch in a ditch of the grass, and then figure it out after that. Pictures to post as we go.
Stopped for the night. Learned I can stitch in the ditch around the applique. Now on to the free motion quilting! It's looking good - for a first try