January 27, 2009 0 comments

Saucy Divo

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The last quilt, "Mans' Fans" was, believe it or not, my first commission quilt. The gentleman in question (a male opera singer - a "divo") had requested a throw quilt for his bedroom, and the fabrics for Mans' Fans had been chosen with that room in mind. As you know, I wasn't particularly fond of how that one turned out.

Thankfully, sight unseen, the gentlemen in question said one night over dinner with friends "Kit's making me a beautiful quilt for my living room. I imagine all in reds...." I and my then-fiancee were quite surprised by that statement, but I was really also quite grateful. I could go back to the drawing board, and I did.

His statement "all in reds" sparked my imagination, and I wandered the aisles of fabric stores pulling complementary shades of red in all kinds of fabrics. Chenille, silk, broadcloth, cotton jersey, batik, even lamé made its way home with me, in shades from watermelon to cherry.

I planned a very simple block of 21/2 wide strips in varying lengths,

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and got busy cutting fabric.

I whipped through those very simple blocks in less than five hours, and added a crisp red silk taffetta border and back.

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I thought that the quilting on this one would be really fast and simple. I planned to stitch in the ditch on the rectangles and stipple the borders, which I assumed would be “easy peasy”. Not so much, it turned out.

The in the ditch stitching was realtively simple - if you didn't allow for the movement of all those different kinds of fabric, that is. *ahem* I quilted those rectangles in watermelon red cotton thread.

I had decided to quilt the taffeta borders with metallic thread because I thought it would be very beautiful, but the thread kept stretching, pulling and breaking, no matter how much or how frequenltly I adjusted the tension. It was fantastically difficult and a great exercise in patience! Towards the end of the project though, I hit on the idea of putting the metallic thread in the bobbin, and quilting “upside down” (i.e. quilting the design on the back of the quilt, not the front). For a newbie quilter such as I (it was only my second experience in actual quilting!) it was extremely challenging, but I finally got it done, and I was really pleased with how it turned out.


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Readers beware though, I’ve since read that the manufacturer of the metallic thread I used (Coates) specifically recommends against putting the thread in the bobbin.

Oops!

But, in the end, it all turned out as it should,


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And it’s nearly as saucy as he is!
January 19, 2009 0 comments

Man's Fans

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I had some leftover fabric from "Autumn Steals In" as well as some fabric originally intended for use in that quilt, but not used. I had an idea - to make a masculine version of fans.  I'd never done applique before,

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and I wasn't very good at it! :)

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Like most of my quilts, I used a mix of fabrics and textures. There was some satin and silk in the mix, some African cottons along with more traditional quilting cottons - and the borders and back were even made of a luscious dark chocolate stretch satin. (A choice I fear I will regret when I begin to quilt this baby!)

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By the time I was done the top (without borders) I knew that this quilt, originally intended for a male friend of mine, wasn't good enough to go out the door.

That said, I really liked the idea of it and intend to revist it, in a larger size, sometime in the near future. In fact, another friend wanted to buy this version, but I didn't deem it good enough to sell. In any case, it's unquilted still,

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Yet another UFO. However, it's on my list!

I hope to make the bigger and better version later this spring, and will more than likely be showing the end result here. Stay tuned!
January 17, 2009 0 comments

Autumn Steals In

After Spider's Kiss, I found my enthusiasm for quilting again.

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Luckily, I was at home, in recovery mode and had some time to spend purusing the art and craft of quilting for as much and as long as my head could stand the constant whir of my machine! My then fiancee devised an arrangement whereby I could sew in bed, while watching TV, and I decided to take on something simple, using someone else's pattern.


In a quilting community at Live Journal, a member of the community posted a picture of a quilt she's made using a pattern from Annie Unrein's site called "Wickedly Easy". I liked what she had done (her version was all reds, grey and black and white Asian characters) so much, that I decided to make a version myself, using fabrics from my stash.

I got the pattern from Annie's site, (http://www.byannie.com/images/wickedly_easy_quilts_patterns.pdf), cut the fabric, and began laying out the strips in what I found to be pleasing colour groupings. However, as I did so, I decided to change the block layout a litte, instead of having the longest strip be in various places in each block, I ran mine through the middle of each.

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And then, once I laid out the finished blocks, I decided that they needed something to break them up. Staying true to my own aesthetic which dictates that quilts need to have unexpected texture; I added sashing in a silky copper satin.

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I loved the contrast so much, that I went out and bought more of the fabric to back the quilt, so when the top was done, it looked like this:

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I began quilting it, using a simple stipple in a coordinating colour of each patch:

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My plan was to quilt the sashing in a beautiful copper metallic thread.

Alas, my plan was foiled! When changing to a golden thread, I was dismayed and upset to discover that on the back, it looked like this:

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!!!!

I assumed it was a tension issue, and mussed and fussed with both bobbin case and needle tension, but was never able to get the back looking like I wanted it to. I decided that there was something wrong with my machine and brought it in for servicing.

So the quilt, which I called "Autumn Steals In" became my second UFO, and was placed on a shelf in my sewing room, until my machine came back.

But not before Maggie took it for a test drive.

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While I waited for my machine to be ready to use, I pulled out my old Kenmore and began making another top out of the leftover fabric from "Autumn Steals In" as well as some scraps and bits I had in my scrap bins.

But that's another post. ;)
January 15, 2009 0 comments

Spider's Kiss

After I'd finished Courthouse Steps, I took a bit of time off from quilting. It was summer, the weather was lovely, I didn't want to be indoors much, and I was having some health issues which required that I leave my job for a period of months, and either stay in bed or sit in a chair with lots of cushions in our back yard.

However, I did want to get involved in quilting again, so I started a Round Robin quilting group on a website I'm part of. I thought it would be a good learning process for me and that it wasn't a big commitment (one border every six weeks) which seemed about right for me at the time.

I wanted to do something fun for my centre block which was to be 12 inches, and looking around for inspiration, I found it in a flower I'd taken a picture of while on vacation in South Carolina last spring.

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I have no idea what that lovely was called, I found it on one of the many golf courses we visited on Pawley's Island. But after mucking about with my Quilting Wizard software, I came up wit a block that looked this:

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But, a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum.

See, I couldn't get those little tiny nine patch squares to be even. No matter what I did, no matter how carefully I sewed a perfect 1/4 inch seam, the squares were NEVER. EVEN. In addition, the triangles didn’t come out the correct size and one half of the pieced units had the fabric sitting the wrong way. Flipping it around only meant that the fabric was now sitting the wrong way, the other way. Chain piecing is a great, fast way to make perfectly squared triangles. But NOT triangles made out of rectangles! (Or so I learned. ) In my efforts to produce one "perfect" block, I ended up making several blocks. After making several blocks, I thought I might as well make a bunch more, and ended up with a twin sized quilt.

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The fabric came from my stash - mostly Kaffe Fassett, and from the period when I was wildly buying fabric for future quilts without a thought in my head about what I was making, so I ran out of fabric, thus inspiring my first (simply) pieced border. Which was rather ironic, since the whole point of making the block was to have other people make borders for it.

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I ended up calling the (extremely BRIGHT) finished product "Spider's Kiss" because the block pattern looked a bit like one I'd seen displayed at a quilt show that was called "Spider Block". A sad, unevenly pieced homage, if you will.

I did eventually figure out that the problem with those nine patches was not my 1/4 inch seam, but the fact that in cutting too many layers of fabric at once, the lower strips were uneven. And also, that adjusting one piece of the pattern's size throws off the whole block. Who knew? *laughs and blushes*

Live and learn!

It's currently one of my many UFOs; since it wasn't made in colours or a size I would use in my house, I just moved on to the next thing, but now that I've promised myself to finish my UFOs before beginning something new, I'll be quilting it very soon!

That one, and others, I say firmly. :)
January 14, 2009 4 comments

Courthouse steps

Flushed with the success of my very first "real" quilt, I developed a serious crush on quilting. I immediately rushed into buying quilting accessories, a new, somewhat intimidating sewing machine, adding quilting cottons to my stash and buying quilting magazines in a somewhat frenzied mania.

None of it was necessarily helpful, of course.

For my next project, I decided that I wanted to make a throw for the couch in "Shadys" (our finished basement "bar" which we call Shady's Let Down Lounge or "Shady's" for short.) The couch was pretty sad looking and I thought a cover for it would be a great idea.

I had been to a fabric sale at The Textile Museum and while there picked up a pre-printed fabric panel that was Southwest in theme. I decided to fussy cut the panel into two pillow sized squares, which I then made into pillow tops, and motif quilted the panels.

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Because this was early in my quilting life and I was still learning about all kinds of things, now I would quilt those panels differently - probably doing outline quilting at the very least or trying some stippling or even channel quilting, but I was new to it all, and in retrospect, I realize now that I was more interested in producing finished products and trying out new stuff then in making the things well.

I needed a third cushion so I made one using my newly acquire software called "The Quilting Wizard". It was barely out of the packagaing before I knew that I wanted something with more bells and whistles, but I have nevethless used it to good effect since then,early on producing my first two projects, this pillow:

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and the throw, below. On that pillow, I tried out some free-motion swirls as well as some barely discernible motif quilting on the little cacti, and finally, the above mentioned throw:

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Although the cushions are in current use; sadly, this throw became my first UFO (unfinished object). I disliked it so very much when it was done that I stopped at about the 97% finished mark. The quilt itself I stiched i the ditch, but as I pinned the binding, I realzied, 'I hate this quilt".

Nearly a year later, I've learned enough to rescue it (I hope) and though that will be an upcoming project, it will never be one of my favourites. I learned so much with this quilt, not least that seemingly elusive lesson about accurate cutting and seaming, but also, translating patterns to reality, remembering to add a seam allowance when designing and accurate measuring of the object in question. (I'm smiling as I type that sentence.) Apparently, "guestimating" quilt sizes doesn't work.

Huh.

At any rate, the quilt was an excellent lesson, one that I may revist soon as I add a bigger border to the original, already quilted piece and regret past decisions as I do so!
January 10, 2009 0 comments

"The Green One"

After all my experiments, I felt I was finally ready to actually make my first "real" quilt out of all those green scraps I'd collected.  It was about three months after I'd first decided that I would make a quilt, and I felt I had learned enough from my various experiments with the mini-quilts to make a full sized one.




Despite my knew-found knowledge, I really had only the vaguest of ideas of how to go about accomplishing "making a pretty quilt", but I knew that having a plan was an important part of it! So, I drew out a rough sketch of what I wanted to do, and sorted my scraps into piles to go with my drawing and began the process of making my first full sized quilt top.



Because I was using scraps from various projects, my fabrics were, of course, all different. There were cotton scraps from little shirts I'd made for my boys all those years ago, there were long swaths of leftover fabric from a long-ago guest room's curtains and sheers, there was silk taffetta from that same guest bedroom's dust ruffle and pillow shams and cotton scraps from my "vintage apron" phase, and a hundred other projects.




In the end, my first quilt, imperfect as it was, was quite beautiful in my eyes


I was also trying (despite the fact that I hadn't yet figured out what those pesky feed dogs were, or how to "lower" them) some stippling:


As you can see I did a mix of stitch-in-the-ditch for the squares (or at least, my attempt at it - I had not yet mastered quilting a straight line!), free hand hearts and loops, stippling on the brocade and a sad attempt at scallops on the sashing.







For a first quilt, I was, and still am, extremely happy with it. Maggie, agrees:






Because it was my first quilt, and I hadn't yet caught on to the naming convention quilters have, this quilt has been known and likely, ever will be known as: "The Green One".

But all of what's coming is this quilt's fault.  I fell madly in love while I was making this quilt, knew that from that point forward, quilting would be the main creative passion in my life. 

After 35 years of singing, who knew?  :)
January 1, 2009 0 comments

Introduction

Hi there interwebs, I'm Kit. By day I work in law, by night I sing. Jazz, standards, 70's pop and a little Motown, I'm a cabaret singer, and for my whole life, my greatest passion has been to sing.

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My second passion has been sewing and crafting. I sewed my first item (a dress for my doll modelled after one that Diana Ross wore in her Live at the Forum concert in the mid 70's). My mother gave me a fabric remnant - a beautiful blue flowered silk and helped me cut the pattern, which I then hand sewed.

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That was it, I was hooked! Since then, sewing has always been part of my life.

Although I grew up with quilts around me, they never really impinged upon my consciousness as an art form. The quilts we had were sturdy, utilitarian, sewn by my great aunts and grandmothers, made out of old clothes and blankets, stuffed with pantyhose and rags, hand tied and used at the cottage for warmth on cool spring nights, dog blankets and the like.

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Over the years, I'd made two charm quilts of the sturdy, utilitarian school that I'd grown up with.  They were roughly sewn, tied and used for car quilts (in Ontario, in winter, a blanket or two in the car is always a good idea).   I always saved my fabric scraps though, with a vague idea that one day, I would make crazy quilts out of them.


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Around this time last year, I realized thatI had enough green scraps to make a quilt, and decided that I would do so. However, I took it into my head to make a "pretty quilt" instead of what I'd been doing in years past and I was hooked - line and sinker, my head filled with the quilts I wanted to make. But I knew I had to learn how to it!

With that in mind, I decided to make a number of mini quilts, whose end purpose would be donation to my local vet for the animal cages. I started with some chambray squares I bought at a flea market:

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I had a lot of the squares and I made a lot of these quilts - mostly exactly the same, I just experimented with getting a feel for quilting. (Not knowing better, I was using polyester batting with a high loft - which I would never recommend for a beginning quilter now!)

From there, I decided to wing it, experimenting, trying to produce things that I had seen elsewhere, or just having fun trying new things:

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Some things were TOTAL free for alls:

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And some were more structured:

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All in all, I made 25 small quilts for use by my vet - in dog cages, cat cages, for the small scales and in the operating rooms:





My favourite of the bunch was my first attempt at applique - fussy-cut characters from a zoo fabric:

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All were a great lesson in teaching me very rudimentary beginer quilting.

Overall, they left a LOT to be desired. There were so many things I didn't know at that point; I hadn't yet discovered rotary cutting, the importance of having identically cut fabric squares, the importance of a 1/4 inch seam, I didn't know the first thing about machine quilting and was just sort of running the machine across the quilts in a really haphazard way.

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However, I learned a lot from those early experiments, and more importantly, I learned that I wanted to learn more. So  I went out and bought some quilting magazines and some quilting books and checked out other people's quilting blogs and began  reading, reading, reading and becoming crazily, itchily inspired even to the point of dreaming of quilting even though mostly, I wasn't even understanding what I was reading; as an example:

Instruction: "Lower feed dogs"
Me: "Feed dogs? What the heck are feed dogs? I don't have any of those!"

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I'm still reading and reading and learning and growing, but the one thing that has remained constant in this past year, is that my passion for quilting has not abated, and I believe it will be a life long passion.

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Welcome to my blog, about a diva, who quilts!
 
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