Tuesday, August 15, 2017


We have had precipitation on 65% of the days in 2017. That is more than every other day. Since it rained over night, and again just now, I am starting to feel washed away. The flowers are fairly happy. This is one of the post on my patio. However, the tomatoes would like way more sun. They are seriously stunted.

So, with all this rain, I obviously need to learn something new. So I borrowed a book from the Quilt Group Library.

One of my friends had recommended it, so I am trying it out. The first thing the author tells you to do is make a test piece to get to know your foot. She suggests you use muslin. Since I am not good at following directions, I used a couple of 10" squares for my box of large scraps.

I discovered that my needle is not in the middle of my foot.

I quilted three straight lines, two using the left side of the foot as a guide and one using the right side. The foot sits a small but noticeable bit to the right of centre. While I can't do much about the foot, now that I know this, I can figure out where to place the needle to be able to use either side of the foot as a guide.

Next up, I quilted across my lines, to make sure the foot was feeding the fabric evenly.

That looks perfect! At least I don't have to adjust for that.

I decided to use a bit of my new knowledge to start quilting my New Brunswick piece. I echo quilted around the maple leaf in the middle.

That looks pretty good. Not perfect, but better than some of my past efforts. You can see the maple leaf on the back.

One of the things the author suggests is making marks on your walking foot to aid in knowing where to turn, so your lines are even. She suggests using nail polish. Good, because I have lots of that.

Periwinkle might not be the best choice, but it occurred to me that I have the perfect thing for marking the foot.

You can get these where Sally Hansen Nail Polish is sold. It is a fine point marker, with nail polish.

I have a pile of quilts in need of quilting, so I can practice the different ideas in the book on lots of UFO's. This book might be just what I need to get some of them done!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Oh, Pshaw

I went to get my keys out of my bag the other day, and ended up with this in my hand.

Not good, at all. Some how or another, the stitching has come out at the end of my zipper, creating a problem.

I am not sure what caused it. I had noticed that the stitching was coming loose, but never when I had a needle at hand, and I would never remember when I did have a needle.

I had to unpick the seam in the bottom of the lining, so I could unpick the seam at the other end of the zipper, to put the zipper slide back on. Then, I closed the opening in the bottom, and hand sewed the zipper ends back together, since there isn't room to use the machine without taking the whole thing apart.

It doesn't look too bad. I can live with it. I suspect the zipper slide might have been catching the stitches, so I am being careful to close the zipper gently. While I had the bag apart, I added a fabric loop for a carabiner, to hang my keys on. I somehow forgot to do that when I made the bag.

Meanwhile, this week's other crafty project was renewing our high chair. Over the last many years, a multitude of small children have sat in the high chair, and the paint had become badly chipped while the vinyl cover was in tatters. No more!

It looks like new, now. It just took a can of spray paint, some upholstery vinyl, some heavy batting, and a staple gun. My grandson thinks it is great, and his parents are impressed.  I managed to get a shot when the floor wasn't covered with Cheerios!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Prairie Girl II

I was asked by a friend to make another Prairie Girl, this one for her trip west. The fabrics and zippers were her choice. I picked the hardware, and did the sewing.

Prairie Girl #2, this one in chambray in a denim colour. The zippers are metallic silver.

The front pocket, showing the book print. It is called Literary by Heather Givens. I didn't realize, until I had the fabric under the Ott light, that there are words in the background, in a very pale turquoise. Very subtle.

Top pocket number one, with a better view of the zipper. I used a couple of two way separating zippers and cut them in half, since the store didn't have purse zippers in appropriate lengths or colours. I like the zipper pulls on them.

I added a second inner zipper pocket to the back compartment for keys. I have been using my Prairie Girl for over a month now, and I don't like that I keep losing my keys in the bottom. I need to retrofit something to my back.

All and all, I think this one came out very well. I like this pattern and think it is a great bag for daily use.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Public Service Announcement

I came home the other day and I could hear a strange buzzing noise. We often play the game of "What's That Noise?", and this time it turned out to be coming from my sewing room UPS. Turned out that the battery was dead and it showed this by making a truly annoying noise.

It is fixed now, and I am back in business. However, I wondered how many of you have a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) attached to your sewing machine. They look like this:

This is the one under my desk. It was easier to take a picture of this one, then the one in the sewing room. We have these all over the house. Each computer, the TV and PVR, and, of course, my sewing machines. They cost $50 to $100. They have serious surge protection and a battery to balance the power levels in the case of brownouts. My sewing machine cost a small fortune (worth every penny) and the computer can be completely fried by power fluctuations. I am not willing to risk that. These UPS units come with an insurance policy that will replace the equipment plugged into it, in the case where the UPS fails, and equipment is damaged. It just seems like a good idea.

I have started work on a new bag, but I am not far enough along to show pictures, so instead, I bring you my current foster.

This is Ti-Gars (pronounced tee-gah) and he is part flame point Himalayan. He is a handsome boy, and has a very sweet personality.

He is also very well mannered. You will notice that when he sleeps on the table, he makes sure he is on a placemat.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Some Progress is Being Made

I was thinking I hadn't done much this week. However, I got more done than I thought.

I admire people who can get a quilt top done in a day or so, but that will never be me. I like to sew a bit, knit a bit, read a bit. In between, there are meals to create, foster cats to take to appointments, dogs to walk. Obviously, I am more of a generalist.

Last week, I had this pile of bits of fabric.

This week, I have the wall hanging flimsy done. The blocks are pieced in a kind of free style fashion, using the blue fabric to make each block 12".  The centre block is the Trans-Canada Block Party block, from Textile Traditions in Almonte, ON.

Since the request was for a New Brunswick quilt, I think I have succeeded. The dear one who asked for this has given whole-hearted approval to my efforts. I plan to piece a couple more of those bits into a backing, maybe add some other bits from my stash. Next up, trying to decide how to quilt it.

I was knitting last night, while cuddling the current foster cat, and we were watching Amazing Race Canada. I love that show, seeing parts of Canada I would not otherwise see, wondering who would be crazy enough to compete. I was thrilled last night, when the final challenge was to solve a math problem. The majority of the contestants immediately did the "I'm not good at math" thing. I have a hard time understanding why people think this isn't a life skill they need. A team of two young women stepped up to their white board, grabbed the calculator, and promptly solved the problem going from 5th place to first. They won that leg of the race and a trip to some exotic locale. I cheered! GEEK GIRLS RULE!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Canada 150 Fabric

I made my little guy another pair of shorts, using Wilmington's Way Home to Canada pigs. I went to a trunk show of their fabrics in the spring, and the ladies attending the show dubbed this print "Canadian Bacon".

The fabric doesn't really scream "Canada" to me, but I think it makes cute shorts.

I picked up one of the Northcott Sesquicentennial Provincial panels, and I want to make a wall hanging out of it.

I cut up the panel to make it into smaller pieces, that I can sash. I don't think I will use all the pieces.

I've been drawing sketches and laying the pieces out, and I think I nearly have it. Although, as I look at the picture, I think I need to shift them one more time.

Friday, June 30, 2017

It Has Been Awhile

When my boys were younger, I made them shorts every summer, from fun, funky cottons. They were quick and easy, used a small amount of fabric, and gave them clothes that were unique. The cottons that home sewists can buy are heavier than what is used in retail goods, so the shorts wore like iron.

Last fall, I got a chance to meet Grace Noel, a very talented young designer from Almonte, ON. She designed a collection of fabrics for Trend-Tex Fabrics, called "With Glowing Hearts". 

I had a hard time finding a picture of the entire collection, because it is sold out nearly everywhere.
I did manage to get a piece of the maple leaf fabric, so my baby boy has boarder shorts for his first Canada Day.

Aren't they a-dork-able? He has a onesie, that says "My First Canada Day" and these are perfect to go with them. They have pockets and a fly because, of course, seven-month-olds should have these in their shorts. Never know what he might want to put in his pocket!

They will fit him all summer.

I made another pair, but they aren't quite finished. Next time!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Prairie Girl

I was surprised when someone noticed that I had been missing for a week. I took a trip.

Before I left, I made myself a new bag. I actually made it in about 3 days, around getting ready for the trip

This is Prairie Girl by Emmaline Bags.

I saw this fabric on the Mad About Patchwork website and knew I needed it.  It is part of the Maker Maker line and it is a cotton linen blend, perfect for this bag. Luckily, I managed to get to the store before it sold out, because it sold out quickly.

When I brought it into my sewing room, another fabric that had been resting there for awhile, stuck its hand up and declared it to be the perfect lining. I agreed.

Pink paisley cats just seem to make the lining pop. Exactly what I was looking for. The front pocket served as my wallet, lightening my load.

It also has two large inner sections, that are big enough to stow my tablet, phone, just about everything I needed in transit. Add to that a cross body strap for running between flights, and it becomes the ideal travel companion.

And, because of the name, I felt it was necessary to take its picture, in Calgary airport. It is a prairie girl, after all.

Calgary was actually just a layover, on the way to Victoria.

This was a working trip, so my view of that lovely city was kind of limited.

The mountains in Washington, as seen from the overpass over the Pat Bay Highway.

A beautiful dogwood tree, in full bloom near the Starbucks we frequented.

The "flowers" of the dogwood, British Columbia's provincial flower.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Two Timing Tote Times Three

I seem to be obsessed with making Two Timing Totes.

I made one last year in red.

Then, I made one in green.

So, yesterday, I finished another. This one is in an assortment of colours.

I am calling it the "Going to Nana's Bag", and it has lots of room for a little boy to bring his stuff when he comes to visit.

Pockets, on the front, back, and sides.

The side pockets are elasticized.

Six pockets on the inside make for a grand total of ten pockets.

A zipper closes the top to keep everything secure.

This is the first one I made in home dec fabric. I had a couple of problems with the thickness.

I ripped out the top stitching to get rid of this pucker in the lining, and it puckered again. I decided that it just wanted to stay that way, so I gave up.

The bag is big enough to hold the actual baby, so I think it should get a lot of use.

Meanwhile, my owl shawl now has heads on the owls, with cute blue eyes.

They are looking a bit cross eyed at the moment. I am hoping blocking will fix that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Challenge Piece Completed

We have had the rainiest May on record, according to the keepers of such statistics. On the upside, more time to sew, since we are stuck in the house.

My challenge piece for my quilt group was finished, on time. I was impressed with the creativity of the ladies that finished their challenge pieces.  The seersucker was turned into a stuffed animal, flying fish, and desert scene, butterflies, and a playing card holder.

Here is mine.

I have a reputation to uphold in this group, so mine is a clutch bag. There are, of course, cats hiding in the flowers.

The back is just the "grass".

Cats on the lining, because...cats!

The pattern is Clematis from Blue Calla, a free pattern on her web site. The piecing and flowers are my own inspiration, based on my love of Laurel Burch fabric.

Meanwhile, in the rain, I have made progress on the "Going to Nana's" bag, that I am making for my grandson. I started it at my retreat, but it hasn't been finished yet. Yesterday, I managed to make most of the lining.

The bag has a total of 10 pockets, these are the six inside pockets, and the zipper.

I am already planning my next bag (yes, I am a bit obsessed). It has a front panel that allows for a focus fabric, so I have been auditioning some choices in my stash.

Option one:

Option two:

Tough choice, I think.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Challenge Piece

My quilt group has a donation table, where we can bring those "What was I thinking" items and they may become someone else's treasure.

About six months ago, a large piece of seersucker arrived, and one of our group decided it would be fun to have an odd fabric 3D challenge. We could take a hunk of the fabric (as much or as little as you would like, and make a small quilted item in which the fabric needed to be used. The item must have a 3D element to it, preferably in the odd fabric.

So this is what I got.

Now, I wouldn't call it ugly, but it isn't something I would normally use in quilting or bag making.

I had an idea, a sort of a tribute to Laurel Burch.

So this is what I have so far.

These are the exterior pieces of my bag, and my zipper.

These are the 3D elements. I think the hot pink flower is out of scale, so I need to make a couple of the smaller flowers in hot pink. I am debating whether I will change the zipper pull, because I can.

And, of course, the creative process goes much better with a large cup of coffee. The work continues.

Canada 150 Tulips, Part 2

It is the strangest thing. My first batch of tulips have faded to cream and white.

The maple leaves in the petals show quite clearly now they are nearly done.

I had a second group of 5, in a shadier part of the yard, and they have just flowered.

Ignoring the yellow one that was already planted in this garden, this batch are the colours I expected. 

The Forget Me Nots are again taking over the lawn (I planted them in the garden, but they have all escaped.)

These Wood Violets have little purple faces. There are plain white ones, and two shades of plain purple, as well. I think 5 months of snow makes us very aware of the flowers when they bloom in the spring.