Monthly Archives: February 2016

Start To Finish #1-The Idea


My slate is almost clean and I feel that I can comfortably start a new project.  The timing is perfect as it’s just three weeks until our guild has its annual quilt retreat.  I’ll post more on the retreat later, but basically, it’s four days where all we do is quilt, eat and sleep.

I like to go to retreat with my project planned and my cutting done.  With 40 women, you can imagine that there’s lots of distraction; not always conducive for concentrated thinking.  We will have shared cutting tables set up, but I wouldn’t want to hog one of these by cutting a whole quilt.

This post is the first in a series that will follow a quilt from idea to completion.  Each post will be titled ‘Start To Finish’ and will be numbered.  You will be able to go back to previous posts via the Archives.

Since visiting India in 2013, I’ve wanted to make something that reflects the colour and chaos that surrounded us.  Here’s a link to the blog that I kept during that trip:  Samosa Sojourn .  I’ve been collecting fabrics and tossing ideas around.  Yesterday I laid out the pieces that I’ve found, then I culled the ones that didn’t work.  It’s a good collection that includes brights from saris and markets, greens from tea plantations and rice fields, rusts  and greys from the soil and the buildings.

I’ve been having trouble deciding how to put all these fabrics together.  I want there to be  confusion and busyness, as that’s how India is.  But, there’s also such calm and beauty – how to represent that?  I thought back to an own-design quilt that I made last year.  (You can see it if you click ‘Finished Projects’ on the right side of the blog, it’s called Read Between the Lines.)  It uses three different strip widths – 2″, 4″ and 6″. My mix of fabrics includes several muted solids and I hope that these will add a touch of calm to the riot of colour.  To spice things up a bit I’ll add some random, narrow vertical inserts.  With the amount of fabric that I’ve collected I should be able to make a king-sized quilt.

What a relief to finally have a plan.  Now it’s time to get the fabric washed and the strips cut out.  Can I wait 21 days to get started???

Thanks for following.



Collaborative Quilt

Creative Threads Conspiracy is a three-day event that happens on Denman Island every October.  The website for 2016 isn’t up yet, but if you’d like an idea of what goes on, you can click on this link, Creative Threads Conspiracy , from 2015.   I’ve taken part for the past two years and eagerly await the schedule for this year.

This past October I joined two workshops; Collaborative Quilts and Coptic Bookbinding.  Each workshop was a full day, lead by knowledgeable instructors.  For the quilt workshop we were to bring a box containing roughly 4 yards of fabric.  The fabric could be small bits, scraps and larger pieces, but they needed to work together.  I went with one of my favourite combinations of red, black, white, yellow and grey, with a few bits of text fabric thrown in.  I also had a 3″ x 3″ square of Linus, from the Peanuts cartoon.

There were 11, (12??) in the class.  We each started with our own fabric box and had 20 minutes to do the first block.  Then, every 20 minutes, the boxes and quilt tops were moved to a different person, who added her own touch and a surprise piece of fabric.  As the quilt tops got larger it became difficult to formulate an idea, cut it out and get it stitched on before the bell rang.

At the end of the day we took our pieces out into the sunshine and had show and tell.  The pieces were approximately 24″ x 30″, perhaps a bit larger and all were very creative.  Each person respected the work that had already been done and carried on the theme.

My piece got put into a box and tucked away.  Yes, it became a UFO, or UnFinished Object.  I had a few other things that I wanted to get done.  And there was Christmas, a trip to Hawaii, my Mom’s 90th birthday and, well, life in general.  Recently, I decided it was time to get this project finished and pulled the box out.

Having let it sit for almost three months seemed to breathe new life into it.  Where I hadn’t been in love with it, I saw possibility.  I did need to reposition and trim a wee bit in order to straighten it and make it a reasonable size.  I used some scraps for the backing and bound it with a black background/white dot fabric.  There’s also a small insert of text fabric in the binding.  The binding is attached front and back by machine.  A machine-made label sewn on to the back completed this project.

Oh, I forgot that I added five buttons for sparkle.  And, the best part, is the little insert along the bottom row that says ‘being partial to chickens roasted’.  Isn’t that just random and so much fun?!

It turns out that I love this little hanging as it makes me think of a great weekend of learning, sharing and working together.  I hope it brings a smile to your face as well.

Thanks for reading.



Getting back into sewing, after a long absence, has been a real joy for me.  I love the opportunity to create something unique – whether it’s to wear, to use, to sell or to gift. In my past sewing life I took on many challenges.  There were Halloween costumes, drapes, cushions, kids’ clothes, ski jackets, skating costumes, stuffed sheep and my wedding dress.

Quilting is a whole new ballgame for me and my limited experience has brought to mind some well-known adages.  The first is “slow and steady wins the race”.  I think the quilt can sense if I’m in a rush or not focussed.  Bad things happen; pieces get sewn together upside down or inside out, thread breaks, pieces don’t match like they should.  Of course, the more frustrated I get, the more bad things happen.  This is when it’s time to simply step away from the machine and put down any sharp tools.

Another way to express the above is “haste makes waste”.  A recent project is a perfect example.  I thought that there was a deadline to complete a certain something.  So, I wasn’t paying attention and used a product that is not meant to be sewn.  Why not, you ask?  Well, this product has an adhesive on it and when you try to sew through it your needle gets all gummy and the stitches skip and break and look awful.  I had to restart the whole project from scratch, and the original fabric is pretty much (s)crap!

How about “you get what you pay for”.  Fabric and sewing supplies are expensive.  Sure, there are good deals at the big box stores, but the quality generally isn’t great.  I do use these stores for some things, where I know the brand.  However, for fabric, I frequent a number of small shops where the service and quality are excellent.  I’ll link my faves below.  I’ve discovered a wonderful thread and am gradually using up my old stock and replacing it with Superior Thread.  This thread sews like a dream and the colour selection for all of their products is amazing.  Yes, it costs a bit more, but it’s worth every penny.  Let’s face it, making a quilt is a lot of work, you want it to stay together and look like new for a long time.

Some of my favourite haunts for fabric and thread:

Cloth Castle  in Langford.  Husqvarna dealer and lots of fabric, not just quilting.  Second floor is clearance and mark-downs.

Snip and Stitch  in Nanaimo.  Husqvarna and Janome dealer with good selection of quilt fabric and helpful staff.

The Cloth Shop  in Vancouver.  Small shop on Granville Island.  Lovely fabric, good book selection, interesting kits and friendly staff.

Fabricana  in Coquitlam.  A well-organized big box store with good quality fabric, great book selection and friendly staff.

Cindy’s Threadworks  on Vancouver Island.  Online shopping.

Thanks for reading.  Now it’s time to ”make hay while the sun shines”.







The Girlfriend Quilt – Part Two

On January 11 I wrote a post called  The Girlfriend Quilt, which describes a project that I undertook with my two oldest, longest-running gal pals.  Today’s post is about another long-term friend and I’m writing it today in honour of her recent achievement – the successful defense of her Masters’ thesis and the completion of her MA at UBC.

Spring and I met in the fall of 1975, in a first year French Language class at UVic.  We hit it off immediately and a wonderful friendship was born.  We swam and lifeguarded together.  We shared all kinds of adventures, some serious but most were pretty goofy.  Our lives took different directions for several years; fortunately we reconnected in Vancouver in 1997.

Spring’s list of accomplishments is long; take a moment to get to know her by clicking on this link: about Spring. I’ve added Spring’s blog, Compost Diaries, to my list of ‘Great Reads’ on the right side of the blog.

I wanted to make something special for Spring, to recognize both her achievement and our friendship.  What better way than to bring out the Girlfriend Quilt pattern, it’s such fun!  I chose cream for the background as I felt it was pretty safe and it seems to set off the many colours in the squares.  Then I went in search of fabric that had significance – things that Spring likes, or things that we’ve done together.  I found coffee, chocolate, cheese, French words, shoes, whales and bicycles. My favourite was one that I ordered from Spoonflower Fabrics.  It’s a woman in a bathing cap and goggles, doing breaststroke in a pool.  Perfect for all of our swimming memories. The quilt backing is white, with flecks of teal, tan, green and dark brown.  The binding is dark brown and the quilting is simple diagonal lines, about 2″ apart.

It was a pleasure to make this quilt and surprise Spring with it in November, 2014.  She seemed to love it, and I hope you do too!