Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

Where did it go? Seems like my summer holiday from blogging extended well into fall.

I did very little quilting this summer. Instead, I was busy converting a neglected rec room/bedroom/bathroom into a quilting studio.

The goal was to paint the space and install better lighting. Simple enough. I didn’t even take ‘before’ pictures.

One item on my wish list was a place to display my quilted postcards, or PFAs (Postcard Fabric Art), as my FB group calls them. The cards from my One Million Mile Challenge got center stage


but I was also thrilled to take the cards received from friends out of their shoe box and display them on the wall of the guest room. I enjoyed re-reading them as they were hung, and I hope my guests will too.postcards2

I did take the time to make a PFA this summer, but I will tell you more about that in another post.

Another item on the wish list was a design wall. Then, because I couldn’t decide on what I wanted, I made two. One is flannel with cork behind it, and the other has clips. I can now work on multiple items at a time, which is what I do always do anyways. (Yes, I did make progress on The Circle Game!) design wall

The Design Center was totally unplanned. We had a wet bar sink and a bar which was never used. Removing them was more of a project than I wanted to undertake so with the help of DH, I built a table to go over the sink and refinished the bar. It now is the perfect space for any design work that I want to do. There are a couple extra chairs, so come join me if you are in the neighborhood.

My old sewing room did not have anything done to it except some organizing so that it is more functional. I have three sewing machines set up, and I can simply swivel between them. No more sewing machines set up on the dining room table (I hope).  workroom1

The sob-story of this adventure was to be my crown jewel -a slab of live edge wood that I spent countless hours and hundreds of dollars on. It turned out beautiful, but it was a matter of sharing custody of it with some hardy little bugs living inside of it. I have never seen them, but mounds of sawdust and tiny little holes told me they survived the bleach, wood filler, stain, varnish and 4 (yes, four!) layers of epoxy. It was going to be attached to my mom’s old Singer treadle sewing machine frame in order to make a sofa table. Needless to say, the wood is not in my studio.

Another project only half-finished was a wrought iron bed frame rescued from the elements. It was in pretty bad shape. It would have to be a decorative item only. I sanded and painted the headboard but it turned cold just a little too fast. Maybe we will get a few more days of +10C temps so that I can finish painting the foot board. It will be used to display finished quilts. bed frame

That brings you almost up to date. The next few months will be very busy finishing up projects from Quilting on the Beach so my posts may still be few and far between. I am scheduled to do a Trunk Show in January at our local guild, and will provide you with an electronic trunk show at the same time.

Posted in 2018, quilted postcards, Reclaimed and Repurposed, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

K.I.S.S. Quilting

We have all heard about the K.I.S.S. principle. It’s what I decided to do with a kit I had purchased called Easy Summer Fun by Viv Smith of Willow Brook Quilts.

Easy Summer Fun was already a simple beginner quilt. The kit contained 10″ pre-cuts of Kaffe Fassett fabrics plus black on white and white on black squares. I have become quite infatuated with Kaffe Fassett fabrics but as you know, my focus this year is suppose to be on gradated fabrics.

My first decision was to reserve the black and white fabrics for another project and substitute it with pieces of beautiful Gelato Ombre fabrics that I purchased in Singapore (but now is available locally). As it turns out, they marry well together. summer fun1

My next decision was to leave the squares uncut. Kaffe Fassett and most Ombre fabrics are bold enough to stand on their own in large dosses.

It went to my favorite long-armer for an overall design. We picked a modern floral design and orange thread. Why not!?!

The BEST thing about this pattern is the wide binding. It is not often that binding makes a quilt, but this time it did and I absolutely love it!

This is my Summer Fun, and I could not have kept it any simpler. summer fun

Speaking of summer, its that time again when I will take a break from this blog and work on getting things crossed off the ‘to do’ list. I hope you have a great summer!

Posted in 2018, hand piecing, Uncategorized | Tagged | 6 Comments

A Lession in FMQ

“Be kind to yourself” she said. Good advice.

She, being one of the best teachers around, and the best Free Motion Quilter (FMQ) I know. FMQ has been the most difficult things for me to conquer in my sewing life. I have taken every opportunity to practice it for the last 5 years and have thrown out or turned perfectly good quilted pieces into dog beds because of my displeasure with the results. It was my third time in her class.

I wanted to show you a picture of my mediocre masterpiece before I picked it apart, but I was not able to take one that captured the whole runner where the stitching was still visible. This was the best I could do. fmq

The first design element we stitched was this motif, drawn on freezer paper. I did some echo stitching around it and matchsticks at the top. fmq1

Echo stitching, as it turns out, is harder than it looks. It requires that you look at the FM foot and use all sides of it to gauge your 1/4″ distance. There were blind spots going certain directions. Next time I would add a few reference points at the tips to ensure I turned at the right spots. Also, I am not sure about the matchsticks I added at the top. Does it highlight the tip because the stitching is denser, or does the  tip look like it is in the background because it is flatter than its surrounding?

Using freezer paper seemed like a good idea, so I looked for other designs where I could use it. There was a peacock on the fabric back that had potential. fmq6

It was so unusual I knew it would be the focal point so I placed it in an appropriate spot. It didn’t look like much initially and I hated picking out the freezer paper but with enough stitching, my peacock turned out okay. Using a plate helped me get a stitching line to ‘frame’ him. fmq4.jpg

The fabric back was a great inspiration for other designs but now I wasn’t as keen on using freezer paper. I stitched around the waterlily using freezer paper but then it was a simple enough design that I could eyeball the rest. A feather was next. I have never particularly liked feathers, but recently stitched one on a project and it was terrible. Now was the time to practice.

The stylized daisy was also simple enough to do without the freezer paper, but one seemed small and insignificant, so it was repeated three times. I also decided to try another feather, fitting into the large awkward space left.

After the large elements, it was on to fillers and borders. All can use more practice but consistency of size and stitch length will come in time (I hope).

Do you want to make a FMQ sampler? Here are a few guidelines:

  1. Start with a sandwich 15″ x WOF. A dark solid (or near solid) fabric with light thread will work best
  2. Divide your runner into 6-8 sections. Use your favorite marking tool to ensure nice straight lines and then stitch a double line 1/8″ apart.
  3. Add something of interest in most sections. Start with larger designs so that you can practice filler stitches around them.
  4. If a design you like is proving troublesome, try different variations. For me, it was circles. fmq3.jpg In the wavy section, my first circle (top) was closed but I didn’t like all the stops and starts so started incorporating the circles into the wavy lines (middle section). It worked for awhile but then lI started backtracking away from the stitching line (side ones). This gave the illusion of a larger circle and I liked that better but still wanted to try circles where the stitching came to the center, making for continuous stitching. I tried that next as a border (seen in the picture between the waterlily and first feather). This one was the easiest.
  5. Practice principles of design –
    • REPEAT – double lines look better than single lines; use odd numbers (one if large or a focal point, 3 if you want it to make more of a statement)
    • RESIZE – use small, medium and large variations of the same design (example: I have circles the size of dots, medium sized circles, and larger ones)
    • REINVENT – make variations of the same design element (example: feathers)
    • BALANCE – this is obtained from the size of your designs and density of your stitching.
    • CONTRAST – You are only working with straight and curved lines. Each will be more distinct when placed next to each other
  6. Don’t undo mistakes. Make this for you (not as a gift and not to enter into a show). Take risks and practice everything you like. In the future it will be a great reference tool. It will give you ideas. It will remind you of things that work, or not. It will help you decide on a better approach. And you will see where you have come from, the improvements in your techniques over time.
  7. Most of all, have FUN. And be kind to yourself!
Posted in 2018, art, FMQ, Highlighting others, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Alberta Two Step

I get by with a little help from my friends

Make that… “I get by with a lot of help from my friends.

A cowboy/girl boot quilt would not be my normal style, but at times like this you have to think about the bride (my niece). She has been called ‘the horse whisperer’; country is her style.

When her wedding was announced, I knew the Texas Two Step would be the perfect pattern but I was short on time and fabric that could even remotely be considered country.

Thanks to Gail (piecing), to Susan (quilting), and others who contributed scraps of country fabric, this character quilt came together. boots12

I got it back with a week to spare and it was lovely. But I simply could not resist getting into the spirit and adding some bling. I tried to deep it to a minimum – some tabs, some swirls, a few buttons, gemstones. Each boot got something different, except for the bride and groom’s initials which meant I had to add two S’s. Applique would not normally be added after the quilt was already quilted, but it worked fine.

The finishing touch was a play on the words to the song “These boots were made for walking…” Lucy had some suggestions, which I modified and inscribed with FMQ on a flange on the back.

  • These boots were made for walking into your heart
  • These boots were made for walking down the aisle
  • These boots were made for walking beside my love
  • These boots were made for walking through life’s footsteps


It is not often that a person can throw caution to the wind but this quilt was a lot of fun to make, and the wedding was great. Here are a few pictures, all including boots.

Bride with her two sisters…

Mother and daughters… boots10

The shoe game… boots8

The Texas two-step becomes the Alberta two-step.

Posted in 2018, Highlighting others, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mount Kilauea & lonely trees

Works in progress (WIP). It’s all about the journey, right? And memories created in the process.

This week’s post is about two WIPs – totally unrelated, and yet they feel connected.

One goes back 2 years. At the time I wanted to try some curved piecing but it seemed incomplete after it was put together. alone3

I decided this quilt might work better as a background than a simple wall quilt.. Whatever I put on it would have to be simple but visually strong, and I used this lake scene as my inspiration.


The blocks were arranged in similar sections with a sunset sky (upper section), water (center), rock and greenery (lower bottom and right). We carry everything in to our cottage on a short but fairly rugged path and walk around this tree on every trip. It has fascinated me for the last 20 years. Other trees grow up between the rocks until a strong wind comes in and blows them over. But this one still stands. Crows and Eagles love it.

On the background, I decided to quilt the sections to simulate what they were intended to by with some Ruler-Guided FMQ. You can’t really see it from the front but the sections are more evident from the back. alone1

This project has been a WIP for nearly two years and the spot where it will hang on the wall is still bare. All that it needed was the embellishments – A felted tree, felted rock and plants. This week I got out the wool supplies …  alone5

and ended up with this…   alone4

Now to figure out how to get it looking a little like the picture.

Another project I worked on for the last two weekends at the lake was Dance of the Dragonflies by JoAnn Hoffman.dragonfly

I have not carried my sewing machine out to the cottage yet for the season, so I have to be strategic in the projects I pick to work on. With no piecing involved, this one was perfect. The Supernova fabric panel for Dance of the Drangonflies was purchased in Volcano Village at Mount Kilauea and the pattern was purchased in Hilo during our Shop Hop. 

What I love about quilting is that memories are accumulated for every piece. Start to finish may be years, as in the first piece, or it may be simply months as in the second piece. Memories may take you back to where the fabric was purchased. Maybe some special people were involved. Or struggles with the design process.

Every day there are news clips of the Mount Kilauea eruptions. I have walked around that volcano, have walked up to the lava flows, and have seen the destruction in its path. Some trees survive in the most unlikely places, and others don’t.

As I work, and in the future every time I look at this dragonfly wall hanging, I will think about the quaint little quilt shop in Volcano Village, and the quilt store in Hilo. I will wonder how they have been affected by these events and offer a prayer on their behalf.

Posted in gradients, my patterns, travels, Uncategorized, WIP | 7 Comments


Productive with a capital P. Organized with a capital O. And happy whenever I see her. Let me introduce you to my special friend Alice. At 91, I can only hope to have a fraction of her spirit when I get there.

For our recent Quilt Show, Alice made this Challenge Quilt. alice1

It is a Victorian Crazy Quilt Christmas wall hanging that she designed after being inspired by a 2 1/2″ photo of ‘The Night Before Christmas” by Patricia Eaton of McCrea, Arkansas that appeared in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine.

When I phoned to tell Alice that my bid was the highest and I had received her wall hanging, she asked if she could add a beaded fringe to the quilt, similar to what was in the original picture. Two weeks later she was done. Let me add the point that these beads were not purchased prestrung. They were individual beads that she strung herself! alice2

Take a look at some of the closeups. The variety of embroidery stitches, the beads added to the doilies, the thread details on the buttons…

She has been an active member of our Quilt Guild for almost 30 years. Even though she no longer leaves her house or is able to attend guild meetings, she eagerly awaits the newsletter so that she knows what it going on at the guild, and continues to contribute to most guild activities.

For example, the Challenge Quilt was not the only item Alice had in the Quilt Show. She also made several wall hangings which she donated to the Choice Auction baskets, and she had items for sale in the Boutique.

I was impressed from the first time I met Alice. She says that she never gets bored. Let me tell you why.

She makes 100 Touch Quilt tops every year. Touch Quilts are lap size quilts given to Alzheimer patients living in personal care homes. They are made with 6″ squares of textured fabrics, enhanced with items the patient can play with. Touching the different fabrics or playing with the items attached to the quilt can bring comfort, happiness, and sometimes reminds the patient of events earlier in their lives. The goal of the Alzheimers Association of Manitoba is to provide each of its 22,000 (and growing) patients with such a quilt.

One of the rooms in Alice’s house is set up ‘assembly line’ style. Trays of fabric squares are divided by fabric type and colour – cotton, denim, corduroy, velvet, polyester, satin etc.

Then the different types of squares are organized and sorted into the trays as they are made. Squares with pockets, keys, and beads …

Squares with thread spools, bears made of fleece, peek-a-boo pockets, zippers or other decorative items of interest…

50 quilt tops were just handed over in April. Here is the first one of the next batch: alice3

Alice has two sewing machines. One is a Singer she purchased in 1952, but most of her sewing is done on an Elna Supermatic Sewing Machine which Alice purchased straight from the factory in Geneva Switzerland in 1956.

Elna was a technological leader in the sewing machine world with new inventions such as the free arm, reverse stitch and decorative stitches created through the use of cams.

Families affected by Alzheimers know better than I the impact a touch quilt has had on their loved one. We will never know all the stories but we can be sure that Alice has touched the lives of many.

I have only known Alice for a short time and I am proud to own one of her pieces.


Posted in Highlighting others, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Summer Snowballs

Last week it was still winter. The ice was melting. Crystals of ice sang to each other and to us, as they gently swayed in the breeze and nudged each other along the shoreline. Occasionally there was a bang as larger pieces of ice broke away from the rest or was pushed up onto the shore.

This week it is summer. Temperatures were 31C yesterday and my first flowers of the years were confused. What happened to spring?



It’s a good thing I took time to finish my summer table runner this past week. Ironically, it is a snowball pattern*. snowball8

This table runner has been hanging around for awhile. It was a good teaching tool that I used in a demo of ruler quilting at our Quilt Show, and was going to use for a class in Designing with Rulers. When the class was postponed, I decided we needed to use the table runner and it was time to get it done.

I contemplated three different designs

and chose one that required no markings. My 13″ straight ruler, and S ruler did the trick. snowball1

Here is a close-up, and a better look at the back

Those that quilt with me every week have seen this project evolve since Christmas. snowballcReversible chair covers have a Christmas look* and a summer look that I should have planned better. With no plans to use the snowball corners, I cut them off with scissors rather than a rotary cutter. Then when I decided the covers needed to coordinate with the table runner, sewing the tiny pieces together was a bit of a challenge, but the result was worth it.

The straight line quilting on the chair covers was done using my favorite quilting ruler. This time I only made one reference line down the center and used it to go up and down on either side. What a time saver these rulers are. No threads to bury and minimal marking.

This was a total Beginner project. Easy, fast, and WAY better than if I would have tried to FMQ the lines any other way. If your rulers are still in their packages, I encourage you to get them out and play with them.

Not sure why I chose a snowball pattern to look at all summer. Maybe it will remind me to appreciate every day where the temperatures are above freezing.

*Summer fabrics and free Snowball pattern by Moda; Christmas fabrics by Northcott

Posted in my patterns, ruler quilting, Scraps, super simple quilting, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ken’s Kitchen

This week I am visiting beautiful British Columbia.

Of course I will be stitching circles. I might even find a quilt store (fingers crossed).

But in lieu of anything new in my quilting world, I will post some recipes from Ken’s Kitchen.

Morning Glory Muffins – These muffins are my favorite meal supplement. With ingredients of vegetables, fruit and grains, they are packed full of goodness. Wrap each one individually and keep them in the freezer so that they are easy to grab the next time you need to make a quilt-day lunch.

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup – I love soups, but avoid them if they are cream based. This one has tons of flavour. Of course you could add cream or milk if you wished.

French onion soup  – Making French Onion Soup is always a lot of work, but DH says it is worth it. We had this as part of our Easter dinner and it was a hit with everyone.

Coconut Ginger Rice – If you want rice with a little flavour, this is the best! I am not the only one asking for this item on the menu.

Key Lime Cake – Definitely a keeper! This is delicious if you like coconut and limes – which I do.

Chocolate Hazelnut Crostata – Sometimes you need something a little extra special. This fits the bill. The children and grandchildren loved this desert (especially when paired with a scoop of ice cream!)

Have a great week!

Posted in recipes, travels, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Back to Stitching Circles

Today I cut out the pieces for the last circle. Hip, hip hurrah! The most challenging – should I admit that maybe even the most fun?- part of this project is done.

Block #16 was as hard as they get. I cut out the same piece once, and then twice. Some were cut out three or four times. circle game a0

Why couldn’t I get it right? It looked easy enough! But fabrics that look good together as large pieces no longer looked good together once they were cut. Not enough contrast. Or too much. Sometimes the scale was wrong. Other times it was the colour.  Finally, I went to the pile of previous rejects. It was just what I needed. Small scraps gave me a better idea of what the cut pieces would look like.

Let’s back up a bit.

Before Hawaii I had 11 circles stitched. But I needed more time, and space, and concentration, and more fabric. So I stopped making the circles and started attaching the corners. It was the perfect ‘take along’ project.

Forty hours in transit both directions gave me lots of stitching time. I continued attaching corners to the circles until I ran out of cut pieces.


Then it was Quilt Show time. And curling. No point getting all the fabric out again, so I started ‘framing’ the blocks. Right from the beginning I cut a frame piece every time I made a new template so that I wouldn’t have to cut 128 of them at the end. I had quite a few. Enough, as it turns out, to frame 5 blocks. Here are a few:


Now, out of circle pieces, out of corners pieces, and out of frames pieces, it was time to get the fabric out to do some more cutting.


I have more airplanes and airports coming up this week … and The Winnipeg Jets made it to the next round of playoffs. Looks like lots of circle stitching time in my immediate future.



Posted in 2018, hand piecing, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Seminole Patchwork with Eva Veltkamp

My series of posts from Quilting on the Beach was interrupted by our local Quilt Show, but I have one more class to share with you. It was Seminole Patchwork taught by Eva Veltkamp.

Do you think Seminole Patchwork will make a comeback? Solids are modern; miniatures are modern. The only thing that might hold it back is the amount of work involved. This is not in the “Make a Quilt in a Day” category.

Here was our goal: one rainbow band for a pillowcase. eva1

As part of the class kit, we were given a treasure. It is a book by Cheryl Greider Bradkin that dates back to 1980 and contains 61 different designs. We tried one of the easier pattern first. eva7

Then it was on to piecing seven strips… eva9.jpg

cutting them… eva8

Sewing them back together again… eva4.jpg

Cutting them again… eva6.jpg

Before joining the sections together… eva5.jpg

Here are a couple more samples Eva had to show the class. I think Seminole Patchwork has potential. Maybe not on a tie. Or a belt. Nor an apron. Or sleeves and hems. But somewhere, I will find a reason to use some of the patterns found in the book.

This brings an end to my Quilting on the Beach series. I have many projects to finish – and to start. My goal is to have them done by the end of the year at which time I should have enough for a trunk show!

Posted in 2018, Highlighting others, travels, Uncategorized | Tagged | 3 Comments