In Search of Botanical

If you ask anybody who knows me even a little bit, they’ll tell you, “Andrea doesn’t do floral.” I don’t wear flowers. I don’t plant or grow flowers because they always die on me. I don’t have any floral prints in any of my home decor. I don’t draw flowers unless I can’t think of anything to draw. But when you put a challenge in front of me, my response will usually be, “Challenge Accepted.”

This quilt is titled In Search of Botanical and marks the beginning of my quest to find my own version of floral. It’s my entry into QuiltCon 2019’s Two-Color Quilt Challenge. It hasn’t been accepted yet, but whether or not that happens is irrelevant to the work itself!

So back to flowers: Don’t get me wrong, I like flowers. Like a bouquet of flowers. And I appreciate flowers — I see their beauty and their appeal. But I don’t often find floral prints that really feel like “me.” There are artists that do work that really appeals to me — Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co., Leah Duncan, Brie Harrison and Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou. Many other artists can also be found in Uppercase’s Encyclopedia of Inspiration “Botanica”. And so I set out to find my own style.

Many people say that copying is a form of flattery. Others consider it an infringement of copyright. To me, it’s a way of learning. From a cultural perspective, I’ve had a glimpse at how a Chinese art teacher approaches learning versus how we learn art in a Canadian public school. (Disclaimer: Times have changed, so I’m sure that both have evolved substantially since my experience.) A Western mindset prizes freedom of expression and creativity so a class’ works will look very different across the board. A Chinese approach focuses on technique first then expression later so a class might have works that look very similar to start. I tend towards the latter in my own practice — give me the tools to express myself so that when I have something to say, I can say it accurately and eloquently.

So I started with these inspirational artists and looked at motifs that I liked. I drew them to figure out if I could “make them mine.” As I went along, I continued to layer inspiration and constraints that influenced the design:

  • QuiltCon’s Two-Color Quilt Challenge: Prints may be used as long as they consist of ONLY two colors. Thread color and binding needs to match the two colors in the quilt. Backing can be any color. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2018. 
  • I was also inspired by an article on gilded artwork and illuminated manuscripts in Uppercase Magazine Issue #38 and went in search of gold metallic fabric and finally found some at The Quilted Castle. It’s from a holiday collection by Windham Fabrics from a few years back.
  • I had a couple of Riley Blake fat quarters in my studio with white and gold metallic and put them into the mix.
  • Learning a new skill. I wanted to try my hand at needle-turn applique since Carolyn Friedlander/Leah Duncan’s Wildabon quilt was a large influence.

A test block based on Suzy Quilt’s Aria quilt pattern.

Let’s talk timeline. (Laughs out loud).

  • July: I was inspired and got my fabrics.
  • August: I tried my hand at needle-turn appliqué and tested a block based on Suzy Quilts’ free pattern Aria.
  • Beginning of October: I whipped up the design in Adobe Illustrator in a couple of hours one evening in August or September.r
  • Mid-October: Started it  on a day trip to Lunenburg for the CCF conference. I got… 3 petals done.

  • November 18: Watched two CreativeBug classes by Carolyn Friedlander on how to do needle-turn applique.
  • November 21: Packed it up and travelled to Montreal/Ottawa for some teaching.
  • November 22-28: Plane rides, train rides, hotel rooms – needle-turning and hand stitching.
  • November 29: Basted, quilted, bound.
  • November 30: Photographed and submitted to QuiltCon.

I really like the medium contrast of these two colours. I like that they’re both “neutral”-“ish”. The gold fabric is basically a cotton completely covered in gold metallic ink. It’s heavy and stiff and feels almost like plastic. It was nice in that the edges didn’t fray as I was turning them under but it was a bit hard jabbing my needle in.

So my final verdict? I loved the process of making this quilt top, but I really dislike the quilting that I did with gold thread. Overall, I am so happy that I made this quilt on a weird timeline and will certainly be doing more needle-turn appliqué in the future. We’ll see what the jury has to say, I guess!

***UPDATE*** This quilt did not get accepted to QuiltCon 2019, but I am nevertheless glad that I ventured into the world of needle-turn appliqué.

The back of the quilt top before the basting stitches were removed.

Front of the quilt top before the basting stitches were removed.

Tips & Tricks: Lone Star Quilt

The traditional lone star quilt is the base for Our Song, Your ReflectionThis beautiful classic design uses strip sets cut on the diagonal to create a large-scale pattern. Here are some tips to make this a successful endeavour! First things first: Don’t be scared. Once you get going, it’s a ton of fun with very rewarding results.

Our Song, Your Reflection in Alison Glass’ Kaleidoscope. Photo by Quilt Photography Co.

Choosing fabrics: If this is your first time making a Lone Star, pick fabrics that blend into each other well. That means a gradient, or really busy prints in the same colour family. If your points don’t match perfectly, they’re less noticeable. High contrast fabrics are less forgiving.

Photo by Deborah Wong.

Tip #1: Hands off. Be as gentle as possible with your fabric. This goes for general handling and when you’re guiding the fabric through the machine. Don’t pull on it.

Tip #2: Starch or pressing spray. The Lone Star is based on 45 degree angles, which means that you are cutting fabric diagonally across the warp or weft (straight grain) of the fabric. These are bias edges and can be stretchy and unwieldy. When you are sewing your strips sets together, use your favourite starch or pressing spray to keep your fabric behaving before you starting diagonal cuts. As you continue along, you can continue to starch/spray when you’re pressing but the first time is the most important!

Tip #3: Pressing direction. People ask me which way I press — and I say, I don’t worry about it when it comes to Lone Star construction. My reasoning is that the seams meet at a 45 degree angle and are never going to be outright stacked. The seam is going to be “spread” along a distance of the seam and are not terribly bulky (see Tip #5 for a visual of how the seams meet). If you want to be fastidious about it, you can alternate pressing directions when you are assembling your strip sets.

Tip #4: Checking your 45 degree angle. As you cut your strips from your assembled set, your 45 degree angle may start to stray from a true 45 degree. Check you 45 degree along a few “interior” seams to avoid your angle from “creeping”. If it’s starting to creep, trim off a bit to make it true again.

What a creep! The 45 degree angle is off after a couple of cuts.
Always check at a few interior seams to see if your 45 degree is on.

Tip #4: Diamond piecing. If you are sewing two diamond shapes together, mark a 1/4″ seam allowance on the back of one to get them to line up properly. Finger press the seam before pressing gently with an iron. Using a 1/4″ seam guide helps here.

This is how two 45 degree diamonds go together.

Tip #5: Matching points. When it comes time to join two diamond strips together, mark a 1/4″ seam allowance on the back of one strip. I mark at the intersections only.

Align your strips, right sides together. When you fold back one layer right on that 1/4″ line, your to seams should make a nice diagonal like this:

Want to see that again? Here:

Pin them in place and sew.

See? Lone Stars are so worth the effort. Go for it and don’t look back!

Our Song II – A Collaborative Quilt

As the crowdfunding campaign for Our Song, Your Reflection was unfolding in May and June of this year, I asked a few quilting friends — new and old! — to each make a star block. It could be paper pieced from the original pattern, their own star invention, or a traditional block. With each block, I asked them to share what community means to them. While there was wonderful diversity in their star blocks, it was clear that all of them greatly valued their communities as vital to their quilting practice. Support, inclusion, encouragement, and connection were key words that came up again and again.

Our Song II – a collaborative quilt.

Read about each individual block in “What Does Community Mean to You?” Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.

Everyone sent their blocks to me and I had a great pile of happy mail to open from across Canada, the United States, Switzerland, and Australia. And there was one more block to add before I embarked on putting them altogether into one quilt – mine. I chose a traditional friendship star – such simplicity and expression in this little block. The friendship star ended up “leading” the swan in the final design.

I had given the participants a small range of colours to choose from and the subtle variety in colour was a wonderful challenge to assemble into a cohesive whole. I was pretty scared at first, but I finally had to jump in and learned that the only scary thing about this project was the jumping in! I found my process was the most painterly experience I’ve had in my quilting life. (I felt a bit like Neil Buchanan from Art Attack! Remember that show?) As you can see, I used a wide variety of solid scraps to blend the colours together. There was a modularity to the grid of the design – the blocks measured 2″ x 6″ or 6″ x 6″ finished, which allowed me to use standard 2 1/2″ strips to do some filling in.

What was important to the creation of this quilt was laying it out on the floor instead of on a design wall. This gave me the option to casually drop a crumpled mess of fabric to fade the colours into one another. I found this to be a really creative and invigorating process after a loss in “sewjo” over the summer.

The inclusion of a swan was an obvious reference to the original Our Song, Your Reflection quilt, but without the lone star behind it. I’m happy announce that I will be releasing this 20″ swan block as a separate pattern – one that is less daunting than the whole Our Song pattern. It will be released on Oct. 11, 2018 as the “Our Song Swan”! Stay tuned.

For the water that the swan sat on, I used triangular scraps from the first #oursongquilt to signify the otherwise calm water being disturbed by the swan’s presence. These little bits also helped the colours transition from blue to yellow-green.

Straight-line quilting was all I had the time for and I took a bit of a risk — I used a 28wt Aurifil thread in a peachy colour (2315). It’s a heavier weight of thread than I’m comfortable using so I crossed my fingers that it would look OK and not be too obvious.

I used the same type of blending method for the binding. A handful of colours to continue the design of the quilt right to the edge rather than to frame it.

The backing was a bit of an unconventional choice – Carolyn Friedlander’s Snake in Ash from her Gleaned collection. There was no clear connection colour-wise to the front of the quilt, but the design spoke “feathers” to me (rather than snake!) so I found it to be fitting.

I’d like to thank the following people for lending their time and energy to this project. What a joy you were to work with!
Alyce Blyth of Blossom Heart Quilts
Mathew Boudreaux, Mister Domestic
Shannon Fraser of Shannon Fraser Designs
Krista Henneberry of Poppyprint
Lisa Hoffman-Maurer of Sew What You Love
Adrienne Klenck of Seam Work
HollyAnne Knight of String & Story
Stacey O’Malley of SLOstudio
Kim Soper of Leland Ave Studios
Silvia Sutters, A Stranger View
Julia Wentzell of Briar Hill Designs
Kitty Wilkin, Night Quilter
Your Reflection, by Meaghan Smith from the Our Song, Your Reflection project. Keep an eye out for Our Song II at the end!

Canadian Crafts Federation: Placemaking Conference, October 2018

Last December, as I reflected on the year that had passed, I came to the conclusion that an overarching goal in 2018 would be “to learn how to be an artist.” Let me now qualify that with an adjective: “To learn how to be a professional artist.” One of the things that has struck me in these last few months is how little I know about my local network of artists and arts organizations. I am not a Nova Scotia native nor was my formal education leading me to become an artist per se. I have so much to learn about the structures, the funding, the networks, and the rich talent and arts and craft community that has to offer — both locally and nationally.

I have been a member of Craft Nova Scotia for the last couple of years. This organization, along with parallel regional organizations across the country, supports craft artists in exhibiting and selling their work, their professional development and advocates for fair compensation for their time and work among other things.  I am fortunate to be able to attend this October’s  craft conference put on by the Canadian Crafts Federation (CCF/FCMA), the national organization that brings together the country’s regional bodies. The theme of the conference is Placemaking: The Unique Connection Between Craft, Community + Tourism. The notion of placemaking has been close to my heart throughout my career(s) in architecture, museum design and education, and now as a textile artist. (In fact, I wrote a lengthy post about placemaking in the context of urban architecture in Halifax last year.)

What is placemaking? According to Wikipedia, placemaking is “a multi-faceted approach to the planning, [urban] design and management of public spaces. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being.” So how does that apply to craft?

The CCF/FCMA conference will explore this question: “What does craft look like in relation to community? In order to create a craft identity, artists and organizations are engaging and experimenting within culture and community in an effort to attract and retain tourist audiences, and to improve quality of life for all. Placemaking will highlight the role of contemporary craft culture in strengthening and encouraging community development. By exploring the positive impact of craft practice on both physical and virtual communities, we’ll share information on craft’s role in enhancing the sense of belonging, understanding, and appreciation of community members, leading to happier, healthier, more positive social interactions” (emphasis mine).

Cultivating: Entrepreneurship, Community, Industry. CCF/FCMA Conference, Alberta, 2016.

Last year’s opportunity to be the artist-in-residence at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 gave me a close-up perspective to the impact of collaborating with the public to form a tourist community of sorts. The project gave us – both the artist and the participants – a shared sense of belonging, conversations about personal experiences above historical narratives, and a way for the visitors to the museum to process the information presented to them and see it through a personal lens. These identifiable but intangible products of the work are ones that I want to continue to fold into my work moving forward. But I can’t do it within the four (or eight) walls of my studio.

Being an artist can be solitary and perhaps an introvert’s ideal scenario. However, when conversations happen between artists, community, arts organizations at a regional and national level, a larger impact can be had. Support, willingness and funding can make imagined projects become a reality.

Robert Jekyll Award for Leadership in Craft ceremony, 2016. Gilles Latour, CCF Past President; Robert Jekyll; and Michael Husalok, 2017 RJA recipient.

If you are making or looking to make a career as a craftsperson, craft artist, textile artist, quilter, textile designer, quilt designer — whatever you call yourself — I encourage you to seek your local, regional, or national crafts and/or arts organization. You will find mentors, curators, and collectors; you will find colleagues inside and outside your artistic discipline; and you will find fruitful conversations that will push you forward.

Here’s the abridged 2018 conference lineup:

October 12, Halifax
  • Keynote Speaker : 2017 Sobey Art Award recipient Ursula Johnson on Indigenous Placemaking
  • The Craft Social celebrating the 2018 Robert Jekyll Award for Leadership in Craft
  • Gallery and shop visitations
October 13, Halifax
  • Halifax Feature Speaker: Jenna Stanton, Craft and Creative Placemaking
  • Panel Discussions:
    • Artist & Gallery Panel: Creating Space
    • Educational Impact: The Ripple Effect of Craft School
  • “3 minutes of Fame” rapid-fire presentations from craft organizations across Canada
  • International Guest Speaker: Annie Warburton, UK Craft Council Creative Director
  • Nocturne, Halifax’s all-night city-wide culture crawl
October 14, Lunenburg
  • Lunenburg Feature Speaker: Senator Patricia Bovey, National Placemaking in Canada
  • Panel Discussions:
    • Contemporary Craft Practice: Thinking Big in a Small Place
    • Community Practices: Leveraging the Allure of Craft
    • Guided Walking Tour of Lunenburg Galleries


This video, from the 2015 CCF/FCMA’s conference, features interviews with previous conference attendees:

Tutorial: Aligning a Pieced Binding to Your Quilt Top

You’ve made your quilt top. You’ve made it through basting. You’ve got it quilted. It looks great. And now for the binding. I love it when every detail of a quilt points to a unified concept and the binding is the icing on the cake.

For Our Song, Your Reflection, the binding adds a visual interpretation of the music that goes with Meaghan Smith’s song. For Snow City, the binding really made the quilt. For Everyone’s Got an X, the binding adds serifs to the typographic X. These are bindings that not just protect the edges of the quilt, but extend the design idea right to the edge of the quilt. So how do you make the binding line up with the design of your quilt?

Pieced binding matches to the left and right, where the water meets the sky in Our Song, Your Reflection. Photo by Deborah Wong.

General RULES of THUMB

  • However many points have to match is how many separate binding strips you’ll have.
  • Join the binding strips where it “doesn’t matter”.

Here’s a mini-landscape that was bound with different binding on the land portion versus the sky.

I needed to match two key points on the quilt, one to the left and one to the right. So I started by making two separate strips of binding that were pieced.

When piecing binding, use a shorter stitch length to prevent your thread from showing. Press your seam open (I never press my seams open unless I’m piecing binding!). This will be give you a less bulky seam than if you press to one side.

Line up the raw edges with the edge of the quilt and aligning that matched point where the land meets the sky. Pin.

Starting in the sky area, attach the binding with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Turn the corner like you normally would. Stop part way along the bottom edge and backstitch.

Next, you will be attaching the binding in the other direction, but “blindly” — with the binding beneath the quilt.

Turn the corner as you normally would.

Remove the quilt from your machine. Flip to the right side of the quilt and prep and fold your corner. Pin.

Attach the binding, again with the wrong side of the quilt facing up and the binding underneath. After a few inches, stop and backstitch. Remove the quilt from your machine.

Repeat with the other strip of binding

Now you can join the same colour strips with a 45-degree seam, just as you would when finishing a “normal” quilt.

Finish by hand or by machine. Voilà! Don’t forget to admire your handiwork!

Our Song, in Kaleidoscope by Alison Glass

Earlier this year, designer Alison Glass released her line of shot cotton solids, Kaleidoscope. I had the privilege of exploring these saturated colours in a second version of Our Song, Your ReflectionThe result was a blazing sunset on a contrasting cool colour palette for the water. This quilt is all about texture, texture, and more texture.

Listen to Meaghan Smith’s song that goes with this quilt.

Quilted by Sheri Lund of Violet Quilts. Photograph by Quilt Photography Co.

The Our Song, Your Reflection pattern releases October 11, 2018. Be the first to know about its release by signing up for the newsletter!

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When You Don’t Feel Like Sewing

One of the hardest things about this year has been transitioning into quilting as my only job. When I started in 2016, it was an accidental business that was subsidized by the part-time job that I started at the same time. After 20 months of doing both things part-time, I felt that I wasn’t doing either thing to my fullest ability, so I had to make a choice. I chose this one — the one that was more creatively fulfilling, the one that worked better with the structure of my family life. But it was also the one without a consistent paycheck, the one that left me constantly questioning whether I was good enough.

Watercolour teacups, prompted by a CreativeBug class with Lisa Congdon.

After the Our Song, Your Reflection crowdfunding campaign was over, I was pretty exhausted and in need of a break. I didn’t sew for a long time, nor felt the desire to do so. I needed to reclaim my evenings. I needed a new hobby because my hobby had turned into my job.

Foliage with gouache paint in the style of Matisse, prompted by a CreativeBug class with Lisa Congdon.

Luckily, an email landed in my inbox earlier this month – a three-month CreativeBug subscription for $1. And there was a wealth of stuff there that I was happy to binge watch classes by Arounna Khounnoraj of BookhouJen Hewett, and Lisa Congdon.

And while I didn’t find my “sewjo” there, I was happy to explore new-to-me and re-discover ways of creating that weren’t directly related to my day job. I have always been a serial creative dabbler, I had most of the supplies already for creating my own rubber stamps and screenprinting ink, watercolour paints and paper, brushes, etc. It’s been energizing and exciting.

Carved rubber stamp, applied to a H&M dress for our neighbour’s 7th birthday.

Another thing that was also fun was inviting my kids into my creative world. Up till this point, I had it guarded from them — it was my little sanctuary that was away from the everyday. But now that there old enough to be somewhat reasonable about the materials and techniques, watching them derive joy from what also gives me joy is priceless. So much of their world is digital that they were so mesmerized by the mechanical nature of the sewing machine.

They were happy to paint cards for our family birthdays. And happy to stamp a favourite animal on a “fast-fashion” dress for their friend. Having them create something on a regular basis is something I need to work into our lives.

Watercolour geodes, from a class with Emma Whitte of Black Chalk Co.
The two kids’ versions to the right.

This week, I got a glimpse of my sewjo. I tried my hand at needle-turn applique and I think I’m hooked. Although I have a ton of other sewing work to do, I want to bring this exploration into a full quilt.

If you’re missing your sewjo, I encourage you to not worry about it and do something else. Explore some other creative endeavour, read a book (I would do this, but I don’t like reading!), spend some time outdoors, veg out for awhile. Cheryl Arkison has some fabulous tips to offer when your sewjo is gone (spoiler: #1 is to turn off your phone and the news), so go check out her post. And dabble away at where your creativity takes you.

Tutorial: Skinny Strips and Inset Seaming for the 2019 QuiltCon Charity Challenge

The call for 2019 QuiltCon charity quilts is twin-sized group quilts in a specific colourway (above) using this year’s theme, small piecing. The guild that I am a part of, the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild, will be submitting a quilt and we will incorporate the theme in two ways: Improv skinny strip sets and “inset seaming” (itty bitty ~1/8″ insets!). First, we will make strip “slabs” and secondly, we’ll inset them into a block. This tutorial is geared specifically to the charity are making as a guild, but of course, feel free to try out this technique on your own.

MMQGers: Each participant will make four blocks, all with the same background colour. The blocks will have 1, 2, 3, and 4 inset seams respectively. We will use the leftover strip slabs in the final composition of the quilt, so please hand those in along with your completed blocks. Please have your blocks handed in by September’s MMQG meeting: Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018.

Stephanie Ruyle of Spontaneous Threads is the authority of the topic of “inset seaming” in quilting and here is what she says:
Inset seaming is a technique I’ve adapted and applied to quilting but it originates from a couture sewing technique used to place delicate thin strips of fragile lace/ other delicate fabrics into garments such as lingerie and special occasion wear. Inset seaming in quilting allows you to place very thin strips of fabric into a larger piece of fabric (or pieced quilt top). Once you get comfortable with this technique you can inset fabric strips of 1/8th of an inch wide (sometimes even less as you get better).”

I have my own instructions below that are specific to this quilt, but Stephanie’s tutorial is a great reference if you need another set of instructions to wrap your head around the technique.

Skinny strip slabs and inset seams

Yields 4 blocks, 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ unfinished

Fabric requirements
  • (4) 10 1/2″ x 9″ background fabric for blocks a single (your choice). This is roughly one fat quarter divided into 4 quarters.
  • (16-18) 18″ long strips of the remaining palette colours in solid fabrics, ranging from 3/4″ to 1 1/2″ in width
  • Spray starch (optional)
  • Disappearing fabric marker (optional)
  • Seam ripper, a key tool for inset seaming!
  • Washable glue stick
  • Zipper foot
  • Standard straight stitch foot
Making Skinny Strip Slabs
  1. Lay out your strips in whatever order you want.
  2. Piece them together. Press in one direction. Don’t worry if the strips are a bit wonky or if the slab is not quite rectangular. Use starch to make your strips and seams lay flat. Your final “slab” will need to be at least 9″ wide. Keep adding strips until you’ve reached a 9″ width.

Cut the Inset Fabric

The strip slab is now your “inset fabric”. Cut (10) 1″ strips.

Inset Seaming

Each block will have 1, 2, 3, and 4  inset seams going in one direction only. We will not cross the inset seams for this design. They do not have to be parallel, but most all go from one side to the opposite side.

  1. Orient your rectangle horizontally. Draw a vertical-ish line where you want your inset seam to go (marking it is optional – you can just wing it in Step 2).
  2. Fold and press along that line.

  1. With the longest stitch available on your machine and a 1/4″ seam allowance, baste a line along the folded edge. Err on the side of a generous 1/4″ seam allowance rather than a scant 1/4″.

  1. Slice the fold off. We want to remove the fold without removing much fabric.
  2. Press the seam open.

  1. Apply a line of glue (gluestick or preferred glue basting technique) on the opened part of the seam allowance. Try to keep the glue away from the centre basted seam. (Trust me, the glue will be revealed if it’s sloppy and although it’s not too obvious to the eye, it’s a bit crusty to the touch!)

  1. Place your 1″ inset fabric on top of the glued seam, face down. Iron from both sides to set it in place.

  1. Install your your zipper foot. And reset your stitch length to normal.
  2. Flip the right side of the background fabric to the left (see images below). You will be sewing through one layer of the striped inset and one layer of the background fabric. The basting stitch should be to your left.

  1. Using your zipper foot, sew a line parallel and close to the the basted seam. The distance basted seam and this line is about half the width of your inset. No need to be fastidious with this measurement for these blocks; we’re just aiming for skinny, no specific width.

  1. Repeat on the other side of the basted seam.

This is what the back looks like when both sides of the inset seam are complete.

  1. And now the fun part! Place your block face up. Use your seam ripper and carefully remove the basting stitches.
  2. Pull the seam and glue apart and iron open with the help of some steam. There might be glue in the seam, which will wash out later on.

  1. Repeat for each additional inset seam in the block, making sure they’re all running the same direction but not necessarily parallel. Once you feel comfortable with the technique, batch each step together to avoid having to change stitch lengths and and presser feet constantly.
  2. Trim your block to 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ square.

Have fun!

Tutorial: DIY Beeswax Food Wraps

Photo by Kris Warman of Shipshape Eatworthy

School has already started up for many kids in the USA and here in Canada, we’re not too far off. I won some beautiful fat quarters from Stash Fabrics back in the spring. Now many of you know that I choose to use solid fabrics in my quilts over printed fabrics. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the beauty of the printed variety, I’m just less comfortable using it in my quilted work. So I decided to make some beeswax food wraps so I could appreciate their beauty in the everyday.

The ones I made are roughly 12″ square. In my research, I found that this size is pretty versatile. Bonus: This size fits well on my stove next to my melted wax and also fit nicely on my ironing board. I will make some smaller snack-sized ones in the future.

Reducing plastic wrap use in our household

Photo by Kris Warman of Shipshape Eatworthy

WARNING: This can be a messy process, so protect your kitchen surfaces with newsprint and/or parchment paper!

What you need
  • Prewashed cotton fabric, cut to approximately 12.5″ x 12.5″
  • 100% beeswax pellets (I got mine from Amazon)
  • Parchment paper
  • Clean and disposable waterproof can
  • Disposable chopsticks
  • Old paintbrush
  • Small pot
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Pinking shears

  • Line a flat surface (minimum 13″ x 13″) near your stovetop with parchment paper. Lay a fabric square on top of the parchment.
  • Line your ironing board with a piece parchment paper that is roughly square and gives you a few inches around the 12.5″ square of fabric. My parchment was about 15″ x 15″.

  1. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup of beeswax pellets into the can. Make sure this can is waterproof; we don’t want any wax leeching into the water – it’s hard to clean up!)
  2. Add a few inches of water to your pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low.
  3. Make a “double boiler” by placing your can in the pot of hot water.
  4. Using the chopsticks, stir the pellets around until they are melted.

Beeswax pellets beginning to melt.

  1. Apply the melted beeswax all over the surface of the fabric with the brush. It doesn’t have to be a really thick layer, but you want to make sure the whole surface is touched by at least a little bit of wax. The wax cools fairly quickly, so work swiftly while trying not to splatter any melted wax around (it’s a pain to clean up!). Reload your brush with wax and apply as necessary to cover the whole surface.
  2. Peel the fabric away from the parchment and let the fabric cool down completely.
  3. Place the fabric on your lined ironing board and place another square of parchment on top.
  4. Carefully iron your parchment-fabric-parchment sandwich. This spreads the wax more evenly across the fabric. BE CAREFUL: Do not let the plate of your iron reach the very edges of your parchment. If you have applied a heavy layer of wax, it will squeeze out towards the edges of your parchment. You actually do want to move your iron from the centre outward to remove excess wax, BUT keep an eye out so that you don’t get wax on your iron or ironing board.

  1. Let it cool completely.
  2. Peel the fabric away from the parchment.
  3. Trim the edges of your beeswax wrap with your pinking shears for a nice finish. It keeps those edges from fraying.

When you’re using your wraps, the warmth of your hands will mould it around the food. Kris Warman from Shipshape Eatworthy notes that these DIY ones are a bit less “clingy” than the brand name Abeego wraps. But as in all things, we use them more if we’ve made them ourselves so I am loving these DIY ones.

Care Instructions

To clean your wraps, use COLD soapy water, rinse, and air dry. Hot or warm water can cause the wax to melt and rinse away. I will lightly refurbish mine in a few months by re-ironing them between sheets of parchment to redistribute the wax again. For a more thorough refurbishment, I’ll reapply the beeswax using the same method described in this tutorial.

Enjoy your beautiful fabric while keeping your food fresh!

Canned Pineapples: 2019 Quilter’s Planner Blog Hop

Welcome to the 2019 Quilter’s Planner Blog Hop! If you’re new to 3rd Story Workshop, I’m Andrea Tsang Jackson – a designer, artist, quilt maker, and probably some other things. Today, at the beginning of a summer long weekend here in Canada, I get to introduce you to my design, “Canned Pineapples.” A combination of small paper-pieced pineapple blocks and embroidery, this hoop quilt uses a small handful of scraps to produce a glowing group of fireflies.

Photo taken by Kitty Wilkin (Night Quilter) for The Quilter’s Planner 2019

Do you remember being a young adult? Maybe you are one! That feeling of freedom to do whatever you wanted to do? No adults (or kids) dictating what you could or could not do… because you were the adult in charge? Eating supper in front of the television. Staying up late just because you could. Eating cake for breakfast. Taking off for a weekend with your friends to see a concert.

Photo taken by Kitty Wilkin (Night Quilter) for The Quilter’s Planner 2019

That’s what my friends did every summer. We would go on a camping trip to Saratoga Springs, NY to see a Dave Matthews concert because often that was the closest venue to us on the band’s tour. We drove for a few hours, crossed the border, set up our tents, set off for the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center, danced in the rain while enjoying our favourite band. One post-concert night, we stayed up watching fireflies under the stars which shone so brightly in the black night. It was magical.*

Of my paper pieced animal patterns, I have a land animal (Sleepy Fox) and a sea animal (Narwhals #1 and #2). I wanted to round out the collection with an air animal. Fireflies (or as I have learned, “lightning bugs” in the south) were the perfect inspiration.

I have seen a lot of beautiful pineapple blocks lately, both large and small (Karen LewisMelanie TuazonGiuseppe Ribaudo). “Canned Pineapples” uses the block’s radiating geometry to create a glowing effect with a gradient from bright yellow to navy. They aren’t too too tiny, so they’re very achievable. And with only three in the design you could put this together relatively quickly.

I am no embroidery expert, but I have done some in my crafty past. I liked exploring these different stitches to add some smaller fireflies to the composition.

Photo taken by Kitty Wilkin (Night Quilter) for The Quilter’s Planner 2019

A project of this scale is so satisfying and I am thrilled to share it with you in the 2019 Quilter’s Planner. You can pre-order your 2019 Quilter’s Planner here (U.S. customers), and your pre-order comes with some extraordinary goodies. Canadian pre-orders can order through Clinton Modern or Mad About Patchwork. Another U.S. and international option is Fat Quarter Shop.

*My future husband was there with me. I just didn’t know it.

There are plenty of amazing patterns in the 2019 Quilter’s Planner. Follow along on the blog hop and see what’s in there:

Monday, July 23: Cheryl Brickey Meadow Mist Designs @meadowmistdesigns
Wednesday, July 25: Kitty Wilkin Night Quilter @nightquilter
Friday, July 27: Karie Jewell Two Kwik Quilters @karie_twokwikquilters
Monday, July 30: Mandy Leins Mandalei Quilts @mandaleiquilts
Wednesday, August 1: Megan Fisher @ayragon
YOU ARE HERE –> Friday, August 3: Andrea Tsang Jackson 3rd Story Workshop @3rdstoryworkshop
Monday, August 6: Trinia  Braughton Penguin Feats @penquinfeats
Wednesday, August 8: Lee Monroe May Chappell @maychappell
Friday, August 10: Karen Lewis Karen Lewis Textiles @karenlewistextiles
Monday, August 13: Isabelle Selak South Bay Bella Studio @southbaybella
Wednesday, August 15: Sylvia Schaefer Flying Parrot Quilts @flyingparrotquilts
Friday, August 17: Yvonne Fuchs Quilting Jetgirl @quiltingjetgirl
Monday, August 20: Kate Colleran Seams Like a Dream @seamslikeadreamquilts
Wednesday, August 22: Shannon Fraser Shannon Fraser Designs @shannonfraserdesigns
Friday, August 24: Kerry Goulder Kid Giddy @kidgiddy
Monday, August 27: Kitty Wilkin Night Quilter @nightquilter

Photo taken by Kitty Wilkin (Night Quilter) for The Quilter’s Planner 2019