X Sew-Along: Week 3 + “Good Enough”

It’s time to sew! There are not a lot of seams to sew in this quilt, but many are unconventional. There are three main things to know about: Thread choice, strip sets and offset seams. This week’s big takeaway (also a big takeaway in life) is “good enough.”

50 wt Aurifil 2215 with my cut fabrics

Thread Choice

My default thread for piecing is 50 wt Aurifil 2600 — a light grey or Aurifil 2024 White (affiliate link). Something neutral and on the lighter sides is great as a go-to. But if I want to go a step further, I ask myself a few questions:

  1. What colour is my quilt top?
  2. What is a lightest of the main colours?
  3. What do I have on hand?

My quilt top here is purples, plums and peach. Peach is the lightest of the main colours. I want to choose a light colour of thread in case some thread tails show up under than lightest fabric colour. I had a 50 wt peachy/rose gold on hand (Aurifil 2215) so I used that. Another reason to use a colour that is harmonious with your palette is that if for some reason your fabric pulls at the seams and the thread shows, it will still “go” with your quilt top.

Strip Sets

I am not a fan of pinning if I don’t have to. I don’t pin when I’m putting my strips together because nothing has to really line up. Be sure not to pull any fabrics taut, just let them rest comfortably on top of one another as they run through the machine.

I prefer to press my seams to one side rather than open. For the strip sets, make sure that your seams are all pressed to one direction. This is a matter of preference, but I like the way the quilt feels when the bulk is distributed that way. It’s about the tactile texture.

NOTE: Once you cut this stripe in half (baby size), you’ll want to press one set in the other direction. This will help you “nest” your seams and reduce bulk when you’re assembling.

Cutting: Mark the centre line of your strip set by folding it in half and pressing a temporary line. Mark the centre of this line. Align your 45 degree marking of your ruler with the edge of your strip set, as well as the centre marking with the cutting edge. Be sure to closely follow the direction of the cut on the strip sets vs. the bar.

Cutting illustrated here with the “bar” fabric.
Aligning 45 degree line with top edge or any interior edge) of the strip set to get the right angle.

Offset Seams

We will try our very best to align the stripes at the offset seam! Mark a 1/4″ seam allowance on the back of one strip set. I mark at the intersections only and at either end.

Align your strip sets, right sides together. Make sure your stripes’ seams a folding away from each other. Lining the stripes up: When you fold back one layer right on that 1/4″ line, your seams should make a nice diagonal — something like this:

For additional photos on this technique, check out Tip #5 in this post about lone star quilts:

Continue honing your offset seam skills when you assemble Triangles Y and Z to the “bar”.

Getting set to join Z with “bar.
Trim off “dog-ears” as you go.
Offset seams again when making this join. Trim off any “dog-ears” first.

Tip: When making the join above, sew only a little bit before and after the points. Check to see if they align and then finish off the rest of the seam. This means that if you’re unhappy with the way it lines up, you don’t have as much to rip out!

First, only sew a little before and past the matching points. Check how they turned out, then finish the rest of the seam.

The Concept of “Good Enough”

When you have your nose right up against your work, you can only see your flaws. If your points don’t match exactly, don’t fret. Take a step back. Is it noticeable? Or is it “good enough”?

I deemed the rightmost stripe meeting to be “good enough.”

If you’re still unhappy with it once you’ve taken a step back (or even walked away for awhile), you can get your seam ripper out. DO NOT do this more than three times. The seams that join the stripe sets are along a bias edge. The more you fiddle with it, the wonkier it will get and it will start working against you!

Now Leave It Alone

When you’ve added Triangles Y and Z using offset seams and assembled the quilt top, you will have no bias edges exposed. This is the most stable this quilt will be until the binding is put on. So here is where you can take a break and when you’re ready to both trim AND baste, you can move on — which is next week on the sew-along!

X Sew-along: Week 2

Here we are at Week 2 — Cutting for Everyone’s Got An X! I hope you had fun picking your fabrics. I was so delighted to see what colours you will be working with! In this post, you will find tips on cutting your X quilt fabric.

You will notice that I have been very generous with the fabric requirements. Many of the cuts we are making are unconventional dimensions, so I wanted to leave plenty of room for errors in cutting. If all your cutting goes well, you will have a good amount leftover! So set these aside and keep them for Week 6 when we do a fun improv challenge.

Tip #1: Swatch Chart.

Use the fabric swatch chart on page 2. Since I purchased my fabric a few weeks back, I had forgotten which goes where. Having this chart will be handy as you cut.

Tip #2: Starch.

Apply spray starch or flattening spray and press your fabric before cutting. This will help keep your strips nice and straight. We will eventually working with bias edges when we trim our quilt top and this added stiffness will help with minimizing distortion.

If you don’t have starch and don’t want to buy any, don’t worry! I made my first two versions of Everyone’s Got an X without. Just handle your fabric as little as possible once it’s cut. Protecting it too much from movement will help, as well as keep any edges from fraying. I have put my cut pieces in a tray.

Tip #3: Use your ruler to measure.

Where possible, use your ruler markings rather than your measurements on your mat to cut. It will give you a more accurate cut. In addition, you will not be consistently cutting on the same spot on your mat for repeated measurements, which will eventually damage your mat.

In the image above, I’ve actually flipped my mat over so that I don’t get distracting grid lines. I am only using my ruler to measure. I needed 3 strips of 1″ x width of fabric so I cut a 3″ strip, then at the 2″ mark, then a last 1″ strip. This allows me to pick up my ruler as little as possible, as well as minimizes me handling the strips.

Tip #4: Be organized.

While we don’t have a lot of pieces for this quilt, you can save yourself trouble later on and label as you go! A simple piece of masking tape can go a long way. In the same vein, label your binding strips and set them aside somewhere safe. Check off each step as you go.

Tip #5: Butt your rulers together.

Yes, butt (my children are laughing in the background). You will have to make one or two cuts across a diagonal that will be longer than your longest ruler. Butt two rulers together to extend your straight edge.

Above: Two rulers are taped together to the left. The ruler on the right are helping me keep their edges perfectly aligned
aking my diagonal cut for Triangles “Y”.

Tip #6: Using prints.

If you are using a print for your background fabric (Fabric A), you will need to pay special attention to how you cut Triangles Y. Stack fabric right sides together, then cut the diagonal to get your triangles in the right orientation.

Mock up for the photo (dimensions do not follow pattern). Two rectangles stacked right sides together and cut on the diagonal.
The desired result: Four Triangles Y in this orientation.

There we have it! Once you’ve cut everything, be sure to handle everything as little as possible to prevent distortion and fraying. I got a pretty tray for this purpose, in an on-brand colour! Be sure to post your progress with the hashtag #EveryonesGotAnX!

X Sew-along: Week 1

Welcome to the Everyone’s Got An X Sew-along! We are gonna have a blast! Be sure to tag all your posts with #EveryonesGotAnX (either on Instagram or Facebook, or both!) – as this is how I will be selecting the weekly prize winners.

Aren’t signed up for the sew-along emails? Get all the updates here:

 
 
Photo by Deborah Wong.

Our normal week will run Monday to Monday – I’ll send you an email Monday morning to get you started on the week’s task. You can send me questions at any point in the week and I’ll have a Q&A video every Tuesday in our Facebook group. Feel free to post questions in the group as well and show us your progress! (If you’re not on Facebook, I’ll be posting the videos in a private YouTube and send you those links in the weekly email.)

This kick-off week is a bit extended to maximize your time to ponder and gather your materials. You’ll have a week plus a bit get your fabric ready.

Last month in Nashville, I visited Anna-Maria Horner’s brick-and-mortar shop, Craft South. I picked up the “Spinster” (seriously, that’s what it’s called) print from her latest fabric collection with Free Spirit Fabrics, entitled Tambourine. I’m trying to get in the habit of picking my backing fabric first, so that it doesn’t become an after-thought and really integrates into the design well.

I had already done a digital mockup of the quilt, so this was the perfect backing. A Pinterest search for colour palettes inspired me. Then I used ColorHex.com and the PreQuilt web app to digitally colour my selection and see if it all worked. Read all about the my process here and give it a try!

I picked my solid fabrics for my X with the backing in mind. I went to my local independent fabric store and found what was closest to my mockup. Top to bottom: Kona Ice Peach, Kona Rose, Kona Plum, Free Spirit Solids Vino.

Have a question? Let me know and I’ll answer it on Tuesday!

Prize

On Monday, March 25, 2019, I will draw a name from the #EveryonesGotAnX hashtag, so don’t forget to tag all your progress posts with #EveryonesGotAnX (either on Instagram or Facebook, or both!). Make sure your account settings are set to “public” so that I can see them.

This week’s prize is sponsored by Bijou Lovely. A beautiful brick-and-mortar shop and workshop space located in Iron Mountain, MI, Bijou Lovely’s online shop is a delightful experience as well. Up for grabs is a $50 Bijou Lovely gift card! (I got some Rifle Paper fabrics and an enamel pin from there!). Thank you, Bijou Lovely

QuiltCon 2019: Show Recap

I had the privilege of attending QuiltCon 2019 in Nashville last month. Now that I’ve had some time to re-integrate into reality, I’ve put together a recap of my first-ever quilt show experience!

Mary Fons, editor of QuiltFolk, starts a tour of the Sherri Lynn Wood exhibit.

From the moment I set foot in the registration lineup, I knew that I was amongst my people. I belong to a number of communities, but as with many other subcultures, there is a way that quilters are that no one else understands. I was warmly welcomed by people whom I have never met or had any pre-existing relationship with. Any awkwardness of “Um, I don’t know you,” is thrown by the wayside and you are automatically called “friend.” I know this is not true of all quilt shows, but I certainly felt this sentiment at QuiltCon. To quilt is a need that resides deep within us: It keeps us sane, afloat, human, and adds so much value to our lives. This as a common denominator is the start-up of friendship.

Lectures

I had a show lecture pass so I could pop into any and all of the lectures that were ongoing. I took away a lot from each: Mary Fons, Sherri Lynn Wood, Heidi Parkes, Ginny Robinson, Sarah Bond, Megan Callahan. I was thoroughly moved by Mary Fons lecture, “The ‘F’ Word: Why Quilters Don’t Talk about Feminism.” Her sensitivity and  in approaching a potentially contentious topic was admirable. She remarked that as a quilting community, we have built a “safe space” — so why can’t we talk about ideology and differences in our belief systems? 

Mary Fons: “The ‘F’ Word: Why Don’t Quilters Talk About Feminism?”

Sherri Lynn Wood’s keynote lecture traced, in reverse chronological order, her trajectory as an artist. At the time of the lecture, she was in a creatively stagnant phase, having not produced any work for about six months. This was comforting to hear — not every moment of every day can be creative and productive. Not even every week or month. Her stories were what I needed to hear. Every artist’s journey is long. The long-game is where the magic happens. A special exhibit of her work was on display and it was great to see the work both before and after hearing her speak about it.

Silver Lining by Sherri Lynn Wood

I had the opportunity to jump in on a guided tour of some quilts by Mary Fons before the show floor opened on the last day of the conference. She walked us through the Childress Collection exhibit (Marjorie Childress is a prominent collector of antique quilts) and Sherri Lynn Wood’s work. As Mary started taking about SLW’s work, the artist herself was lurking about taking photos of the exhibit! She end up taking over the tour and we got to hear from the artist herself about her residency at the Recology Centre in San Francisco, where she made everything and gathered all her tools from a dump. 

Sherri Lynn Wood and Mary Fons

Classes

Beginner Lino Printing with Karen Lewis

I banked them all of my workshops together on Thursday and Friday to free up my Saturday and Sunday to walk the floor and meet with people. I took a wide range of classes including “How to Quilt a Minimal Quilt” with Season Evans, “Beginner Lino Printing” with Karen Lewis, “Improv Applique Curves” with Nydia Kehnle, and “Quilting Mashup” with Sarah Thomas. I was so excited to meet all four of these artists/designers and learn such diverse skills. Some people space out their workshops so they have sufficient energy to give to them. Not me! I could have taken workshops all day, everyday. In fact my Friday was three workshops, three hours each and I felt like I could keep going…

My first longarm class – Quilting Mashup with Sarah Thomas a.k.a. Sariditty

Exhibits

There were so many wonderful quilts to see. With over 300 on the floor, it truly was an inspiration. There were two that I was dying to see in person, and they didn’t disappoint:

Something’s Are Not Easily Seen: Poverty by Kathryn Upitis
Hunt by Carolyn Friedlander. The careful craftsmanship of this quilt up close was perfection.

Among the Youth Category, there were many social justice quilts coming out of the Social Justice Sewing Academy. I had a fly-by greeting with fellow HGSE alumna Sarah Trail, who heads up this organization. As a creative person, I want to see other people see themselves as creative, especially young people. Because when you can say, “I create,” it means that you have a voice. You have agency. You can make change and not just consume what is available to you.

Activist ABCs by Bianca Mercado, Social Justice Sewing Academy. 1st Place, Youth Category.

I also love this quilt by Zoe Sutters, who started when she was four. She won a 3rd Place ribbon for this work (she’s now six!):

The City Zoo by Zoe Sutters. 3rd Place, Youth Category.

One of the most rewarding things was to watch artists talk to attendees, just by happenstance. They were like impromptu artist talks. I was walking around with Laura Preston of Vacilando Quilting Co. and these teenagers were admiring her quilt. I had the opportunity to say, “Here’s the artist – talk to her about it!” 

Laura Preston of Vacilando Quilting Co. talking to some young show attendees.

This happened again with Karen Bolan, who’s intriguing 3D flying geese had everyone wondering, “How’d she do that??” Karen showed us and then again, I jumped at the chance to say to the next spectators, “Talk to the artist about it! She’s right here!”

Karen Bolan talking about her Folded Flyers.

Some trends that I noticed:

Trend #1: Straight line quilting, which may be a marker of modern quilting at this point!

One of my favourites with straight line quilting: Catching Modern Dreams by Stephanie Ruyle. 3rd Place, Piecing Category.

Trend #2: Curves. In the words of Libs Elliott, “curves are the new HST.”

Modern Times by master of curves, Jenny Haynes.
3rd Place, Modern Traditionalism Category.

Trend #3: Tiny Piecing. Kitty Wilkin is a master of tiny piecing and her 100 Days project and new sampler pattern highlight this skill.

100 Days of Sew Smaller by Kitty Wilkin, Special Exhibit.
(I’m not touching it, just holding my hand up to it for scale.)

And here is the Best in Show – a group quilt headed up by Leanne Chahley (@shecanquilt):

Smile by Leanne Chahley with Stephanie Ruyle, Felicity Ronaghan, Kari Vojtechovsky, Melissa Ritchie, Diane Stanley, Marci Debetaz, Debbie Jeske, Karen Foster, Hillary Goodwin

Charity Quilts

Here are our guild members in front of our charity quilt:

Inset by the Maritime MQG.
L to R: Gillian Noonan, Shelly Stephen, Julie Delnegro, me.

There were so very many of these wonderful collaborative pieces. Amongst my favourites was the Brisbane MQG’s quilt, which acknowledges the indigenous owners of the land on which they now reside.

Brisbane River Dreaming by the Brisbane MQG

Craft South

Lastly, I had the opportunity to attend a live podcast recording at Craft South. Stephanie Kendron interviewed superstars Anna-Maria Horner, Kim Eichler-Messmer, Tula Pink, Sarah Nishiura, and Carolyn Friedlander. It was an inspiring experience, to say the least. You can read all about my experience on the Craft Industry Alliance blog

“The path is less important than keeping on going,” said Horner. “And if it stops making sense, stop doing it.”

— Anna-Maria Horner
Modern Sewciety podcast host Stephanie Kendron with Anna-Maria Horner, Kim Eichler-Messmer, Tula Pink, Sarah Nishiura, and Carolyn Friedlander. Photo courtesy of Jenni Smith.

Listen to the podcasts here:

Live Modcast from Craft South: Heidi Parkes & Tara Faughnan

Live Modcast from Craft South: Denyse Schmidt, Sarah Bond & Sherri Lynn Woods

Live Modcast from Craft South: Sarah Nishiura, Anna-Maria Horner & Kim Eichler-Messmer

Live Modcast from Craft South: Carolyn Friedlander & Tula Pink


I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from my peers at this conference. My attendance at this conference was made possible through a professional development grant through Arts Nova Scotia.

Everyone's Got An X in Sienna

Sew-Along with Everyone’s Got An X

Here’s everything you need to know about the Everyone’s Got an X sew-along. We start on March 15, 2019 will finish up by the end of April.

Photo by Emma Poliquin.

The weekly time commitment is low and the skills we will tackle include skinny strips, offset seams, matched binding. Don’t be alarmed! The main reason I want to host a sew-along for this pattern is to walk you through it without fear. I love Rachel Hauser’s take on what a confident beginner isIt’s a mindset rather than your level experience. If you’re open to learning new things, this sew-along is for you!

 

Communication

I will be sending a weekly email on Monday to those of you who have signed up. Every Tuesday during the sew-along, I will do a live Facebook video to walk you through some key steps. At anytime throughout the week, you can send me a question via email or in the FB group and I’ll answer them in my Tuesday videos as well.

Photo by Emma Poliquin.

Sharing: Instagram Hashtag /Facebook Group

I decided to start a Facebook group to save my live videos there, walking you through each step and answering your questions. (If you’re not on Facebook, let me know and I’ll make sure to get the videos to you in some other format.) Feel free to share your progress there and ask questions, too.If you’re an Instagram user, be sure to tag your progress with #EveryonesGotAnX! I hope the multi-platform approach is not too difficult for you to navigate. I will be sure to link to everything in the Monday emails to keep you informed.

Schedule

The heaviest weeks are #4 an #5 — quilting and binding — but I’ve left a catch-up week in there for you before we close. Also, this pattern has some beautiful beautiful off-cuts that we will be transforming into improv pieces. This bonus challenge adds a great accessory to the quilt itself, such as a pillow, but can serve merely to stretch yourself creatively if you don’t want to finish it.

Improv pillow from a baby X quilt. Photo by Alyssa Joy Photography.

Quilting Offer

For sew-along participants, Sheri Lund of Violet Quilts is offering 10% off quilting your X quilt and 25% off batting (except wool)! If you want to book her, feel free to schedule it ahead of time so you’re in sync with the sew-along.

Prizes

For some added fun, we have weekly prizes (weekly!), sponsored by these wonderful partners: LDH Scissors, Spoonflower, FIGO Fabrics, Aurifil, Bijou Lovely, Sew Fine Thread Gloss and Troll Brothers Quilt Designs. I will be drawing names from the list of folks signed up for the sew-along!

Colour Post: Transparency x Digital Tools

Digital tools are a great testing ground for quilt designs before you purchase or cut into any fabric. This post shows you how to use ColorHexa.com and PreQuilt to help you mentally mix colours. In Everyone’s Got an Xhow translucent coloured stripes will look like on top of your bar and background. If you are looking to accomplish a simpler — but equally stunning colour design — that uses translucent white stripes, check out this post.

The pattern uses four fabrics to achieve the look of translucent stripes over a coloured bar on a background. When we consider using coloured stripes, we are introducing an invisible 5th colour — just as we don’t use any white fabric to represent translucent white stripes.

From Emily Peterson Studio.

To start we choose three colours: A background, a bar and a translucent overlay, which I am calling Colour Z. Using the above palette as inspiration, here are my picks for the exercise. I made up the colour names; they do not correspond with any fabric lines — they are simply for my reference.

I recommend using Design SeedsColorPalettes.net, or Emily Peterson Studio as a sources of colour palette inspiration. The hexadecimal colour codes are right there for you to use. You can also find lots of inspiration on Pinterest – here’s my colour inspiration board. At the bottom of this post, I’ll give you some general tips on how to choose these three initial colours for pleasing results.

We can always estimate what “looks right” in terms of colour mixing – what that bright pink will look like on the turquoise background. But some of us don’t have the sharpest colour intuition. And those of us who do have good colour intuition will be surprised by the technically “true” answers to our colour mixing questions. Using ColorHexa.com, we are going to use two equations to find out what Fabrics B and D will look like:

  • Fabric A (Background) + Colour Z = Fabric B
  • Fabric C (Bar) + Colour Z = Fabric D

Head on over to ColorHexa.com. Enter the Background hex code + your Colour Z hex code. The tool will then spit out your mixed colour in hex code!

The result of mixing my turquoise background with the bright pink is a lavender. This will be the colour of Fabric B. I recommend you take a screenshot of the swatch so you have a visual reference. On a PC you will want to paste this in a Word document; on a Mac, you will save each of these images somewhere safe in your files.

Repeat the equation, this time with the Fabric C (Bar) hex code and the Colour Z hex code. This will be the colour of Fabric D. Again, take a screenshot for future reference.

The pure Colour Z on the left. Translucent Colour Z on top of the background/bar.

Digitally coloring in the X

After you have your four colour swatches (excluding invisible Colour Z), you can head to PreQuilt to see how these four colours (now without your initial invisible colour) look in the Everyone’s Got an X design! Here’s a video to walk you through how to digital colour your design by approximating fabric colours with your hex colours.

  • Click on “Design Now”
  • Hit the “Colour Book” tab
  • Hit the “Open Colour Tags” button
  • Select your preferred solids manufacturer under “Fabric Companies”
  • Select “A” which indicates Fabric A/Background and edit it by replacing the swatch with one that’s closest to your hex code colour
  • Repeat with the Fabrics B through D
  • See how it looks!

Tips on choosing your initial colours

  • Using analogous colours — which are colours adjacent to each other on the colour wheel — will always give you a harmonious look.
  • Using a medium to light Background and Bar colour will allow your invisible colour to show through with more clarity.
  • Using a darker Background will give your invisible colour a muted look. Here, a very pure red shows up a muddy colour on a dark background, in contrast to its effect on the yellow bar.


Using these tools, I got some really interesting results that I would not have come up had I just relied on my own colour sense! Have fun with it!

P.S. Some other colour/solid fabric tools to check out are Anne Sullivan’s Palette Builder (Moda Bella Solids) and Steph Skardal’s Digital Swatchy Tool.

Colour Post: X, Transparency & Space

Everyone’s Got an X features transparency, with translucent “white” stripes overlaid on a coloured bar on a darker background. First up, a couple of definitions and then we’ll get to how we can achieve this effect in our own versions!

  • Transparent: allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen.
  • Translucent: allowing light, but not detailed shapes, to pass through; semitransparent.

Translucency is a degree: 100% translucent is transparent. Any degree of translucency is semi-transparent (not fully transparent).

Everyone’s Got An X is composed of three layers:

  1. A background layer (Fabric A)
  2. An opaque coloured bar crossing from left to right/top to bottom (Fabric C)
  3. Four translucent white stripes crossing on top of the other two layers (Fabrics B and D)

This effect is achieved with just four different fabrics! The first version used a dark grey background layer (A) and a pink bar (C). The transparent white stripes are, in fact, not at all white! They are made with a lighter grey (B) and a pale pink (D).

Photo by Emma Poliquin.

The same reasoning was applied to this earthen tone version above. You may be able to see that the “white” stripes are a bit stronger —meaning they are more opaque and less transparent. This means that they are quite pale in tone, with a starker contrast from the colours “behind” them.

Pieced, quilted and bound by Anja Clyke. Photo by Emma Poliquin.

How about using prints? Here’s how I approached the fabric selection for the baby version above:

  • I determined the background fabric first.
  • Secondly, I picked a print from the same collection that contrasts the background. It reads as a blender (or “near-solid”).
  • Lastly, I picked solids for the stripes — one that looked white stripes obscuring the background and bar. 
Pieced and bound by Brenda Harvey. Photo by Emma Poliquin.

This green one — it looks straightforward enough, right? A monochromatic version. But look closely here: What is going on with the layers? If you think about it as we have with the other examples — background, then bar and then stripes — it doesn’t work. However reordering the layers makes the colours make sense: The base layer is the dark teal, then the transparent white stripes are placed on top of that and lastly a translucent green bar lays on the very top. Josef Albers book Interaction of Color talks about this as “space” — even though we are only working in two dimensions.

From Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color.

Playing with the dominance of one colour over the other, the blue looks like it’s on the top layer (top image) vs under the green (bottom image).
From Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color.

In the next post, I tackle coloured stripes in lieu of white stripes using digital tools to mock them up!

Sewing for Myself

One of today’s big buzz words is “self-care”. Self-care was why I started quilting in the first place! It’s so important — I think especially as a woman and a parent — to prioritize something or things that give us life and energy for the other areas of our lives where we need to show up fully. Since quilting became my job a year ago instead a form of self-care (a.k.a. hobby — let’s not diminish the word “hobby”!), I have been searching for other things that give me a boost. Enter my first garment making attempts. And a backpack, one year in the making.

Range Backpack. Pattern by Noodlehead.

We get a lot of joy out of making things for others, don’t we? So this category of sewing, when we sew something for ourselves is often called “selfish sewing” — a term that I could take or leave. Self-care can seem “selfish” but it’s not, right? A reminder that it feeds the other areas of our lives!

Inari Tee. Pattern by Named Clothing.

First up, the Inari Tee. I bought this pattern at the workroom in Toronto. It takes very little yardage and isn’t fitted, so I thought it was a forgiving first garment to make for myself. If it didn’t turn out, I would have wasted too much fabric or time. I loved the cropped length of the tee – something I didn’t already have in my closet and I thought it would look great over a high-waisted skirt or a fitted jersey dress (both of which were already in my closet). I found the perfect fabric in Jen Hewett’s Imaginary Landscapes line for Cotton + Steel.

Farrow Dress. Pattern by Grainline Studio. Fabric: Yarn-dyed Essex Linen in Lingerie

Secondly, I’ve always wanted to make Grainline Studio’s Farrow Dress pattern. For a couple of years now, I’ve thought, “If I were to make a garment for myself someday, it would be a Farrow Dress!” (see all the #farrowdress goodness here!) It was ‘someday’ until I was at Patch Halifax working on my Inari tee and a fabric delivery arrived. And this Yarn-dyed Essex Linen in “Lingerie” arrived. It was perfect. Right then and there, I bought the fabric and the pattern.

And lastly, my Range Backpack (pattern design by Noodlehead) that I started a year ago! Leather straps and brass hardware from Tandy Leather, with a special zipper pull that I replaced myself (which may seem easy peasy to you who do it all the time but it was a little heart-stopping) were the perfect accent for this black and gold Rifle Paper Co. canvas. The Wonderland collection is fabulous; I love how this particular print is a loose map of all the places in the story of Alice in Wonderland.

I did want to add a layer of water-resistance to the canvas, so I waxed it myself! You can see how I did that over on my Instagram story highlights.

As you can see, blush pink, gold and black – my kind of neutrals. I’m so glad that these items speak to my style more than any store-bought items could. That’s part of the reason we make, right?

PreQuilt x 3rd Story

In the fall, I had the privilege of meeting up with Laura Henneberry in Toronto. Laura is half the mastermind behind PreQuilt, a web-based app that lets you pre-colour a quilt to test out ideas before you start cutting into fabric. The other half is her husband Gar Liu, who is the web developer. Together they developed this tool for quilters to be able to visualize their quilts without expensive software.

You can create a quilt from scratch using a library of blocks or use existing designer patterns and re-color them. I am so pleased that my design, Banner Year, is available for “pre-quilting’!

Abby Glassenburg of While She Naps wrote a piece about PreQuilt when they launched in the summer: “For designers, offering a pattern on the PreQuilt app gives their customers an obvious value-add – the ability to easily see how the finished quilt will look made in an infinite array of different colors. It’s often challenging for customers to visualize how a pattern will look in colors other than those pictured on the cover photo, but PreQuilt makes it easy and fun.”

PreQuilt offers solid colour palettes from major fabric manufacturers like American Made Brand, Kona, RJR, Michael Miller, Moda, Riley Blake,  AGF, and Free Spirit. Choose your favourite or explore a manufacturer that’s new to you — or mix it up! As a web-based app, you don’t have to download anything — you can simply play around on the site and save an image of your quilt design when you are happy with it. Here’s a clip of how I played with it:

Patterns are currently available from designers such as Laura Henneberry herself (Commonwealth Quilts), Rebecca Burnett, Rachel Hauser (Stitched in Color) and Krista Hennebury (Poppyprint) — with more designer collaborations coming soon. When you purchase the pattern through the PreQuilt shop, we share the proceeds. Give it a go and have fun!

Laura and Gar’s quilt design Vocal as it appears in the PreQuilt app

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.