Quilts that Talk; Quilts that Comfort

How do you best reflect the life of a person in a quilt when all you have are a select few pieced of apparel? Have you ever wondered what your clothes say about you? If someone was going to make a quilt from your clothes, what would it look like?

Sad circumstances had me making a memory quilt.

I approached it with some apprehension. I like working with colour but all of the clothes I had to work with were black and grey. The exception was a baby blanket that was yellow & white.

Cotton – the quilter’s dream fabric, but no cotton here. Only a variety of knits. T-shirts. Sweatshirts. Fleece. Knits with lace. Knits with embroidery. Knits with heat pressed vinyl. Knits with embellishments.

24 squares; 18 articles of clothing. I knew I would have to be creative and use everything I could – labels, sleeves tabs, logos, zippers, and even hems.

As I stitched, I thought of her. Evidence of life events were in my hands, and they felt sacred. I thought of her as a baby using the baby blanket, I thought of her as a teenager enjoying the Backstreet Boys, and I got a sense of the young woman she became. I felt like I got to know her just a little. That was an honour and a privilege.

I will not be providing a picture of the full quilt since a name appears on it, but here are pictures of different sections.

The back is soft and cuddly fleece. sylvie1

Did I have goals in making this quilt? I wanted it to be soft and cozy. I wanted it to be visually interesting. I wanted it to have texture – things to touch and play with. I hope I have done that. Hugs & love. sylvie4



Posted in 2018, Highlighting others, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

This and That

I did it again.

I walked into a quilting store, and walked out with more gradient fabric. Sometimes referred to as ombre fabric. Also called Gelato. Somehow I just can’t resist it. gradients2.jpg

This is a Robert Kaufman fabric. Isn’t it lovely? 2018 will be a fun year, working with all of my gradient fabrics. But honestly, I need to start sewing, and stop collecting!

It started with my continued struggle picking fabric for The Circle Game. Maybe a decision on the background fabric would help. That is what forced my trip to the Quilt Shop in the first place. circle game 13

Pink and purple it is. If you are going to step outside of your comfort zone, go all the way.

Ken’s Kitchen has been sending recipes but I haven’t posted any for a long time. Here are some to get you cooking again…

  • BBQ Chicken with Lime  This recipe was brought back from a cooking class in Hoi An, Vietnam and adapted to ingredients available here. We were in Vietnam a couple years ago. This recipe brings back a flood of memories.
  • bbq ribs.  Winter is the perfect time for slow cooker recipes and who doesn’t like ribs? Personally, I would put these into the oven for a half hour or so to brown the ribs before serving.
  • Fried Onion Cheeseburgers. These were very good! They were done in a cast iron skillet, but you could use a regular frying pan.
  • Thai Shrimp. How can you tell we enjoy food from SE Asia? Over the years we have become friends with a number of international students from that part of the world, resulting in an appreciation for the rich flavours of their foods.
  • Creamy Shells with Chicken and Broccoli There are times when I try not to think of the calories, and this is one of them. A one-dish meal that tastes very good.

That’s it for now. Have a great week!



Posted in gradients, recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Postcard Fabric Art Play

One million miles did me in. At least until now.

After making hundreds of postcards in 2016, and traveling 1 million miles around the globe with your help, I took a long break. I had forgotten how much fun they are to make.

We are planning a trip to Hawaii this winter, and I like to send postcards to my grandsons when we go away. They now have a small collection of stamps and personal quilted postcards from Grandma, mailed from various locations around the world.

It was time to make some Hawaiian themed postcards. Gradated fabrics – my focus fabric of 2018 – is perfect for anything Hawaiian.

Of course I couldn’t only make one. Six is a good number to work with. It gives me the chance to play and experiment.

I already had a few scraps to use…  pfa1

So I built the background using a simple stitch and flip method using Flexi-firm as a base… pfa2

Then I did some layering – thread painting, and a little Heat and Bond…

Most of the time I use a stamp for the back of my PFAs but a PFA Facebook group I belong to have given me some other ideas for being creative on the back. pfa back

Finally, I applied a ‘frame’ to the picture. I could have done a satin stitch around the edge but this time around, I decided to use some cording that I had and just did a simple zig-zag stitch. pfa6

It may be small but the postcards are done, and I have my first start->finish of 2018 …

Besides the grandsons, I will send one to myself as a holiday souvenir and then have a few left over to send as Thank-you cards after we get back.

Posted in 2018, art, quilted postcards, Scraps, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

More Circle Games

The word ‘Game‘ mocks me.

When I look at my wall of Kaffe Fassett fabrics and try to pick combinations for a particular block, I remember… this is a game. It is suppose to be fun. Consider colour. Consider scale. Consider value. Consider proportion. Consider scale. Consider value. Consider balance. circle game9

When I cut the same pieces for the second, third or fourth time because I didn’t get it right the first time, I remember that this is a game. My strategy didn’t work, but I am still having fun. circle game6

When a piece only has two sides, or when the seam allowance is greater than the piece, I know I am in trouble. But it’s a challenge, and what would a game be without a challenge? circle game5

When I unstitch and restitch the center more than once and it still isn’t perfect, I figure a little cheating might be called for. circle game 4

When I decide that Kaffe Fassett & I need some separation and I go to other fabrics that don’t work I remember that I am having so much fun, I will do these two blocks twice. (Anyone want them?)

When one circle has 49 pieces in it, I wonder if I am up to this game. With every piece I add, I wonder if I made the right decisions or whether this block will be in vain. Then the end comes and I am pleased. I think I will keep it. circle game8

Then I finish another circle, and love it.  This can be a frustrating game, but I can’t seem to put it away.circle game12

It’s time to visit Kaffe Fassett again and plan the next round …


Posted in 2018, hand piecing, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 8 Comments

The Circle Game & Pioneer Quilting

As I was cleaning up the Christmas decorations this week, I looked at the Christmas cards and hesitated before throwing them into the recycling bin. Our pioneer quilting relatives would have kept the cards and repurposed them into quilting templates. circle game1

I started the The Circle Game in October. To refresh your memory, the Circle Game is a Jen Kingwell pattern with 16 circles which I am hand piecing. All of the circles are made with templates. Here is a repeat picture of the first 4, and then the next 4 circles.

I have never done any hand piecing before, and not totally sure I am doing it right. Maybe you can tell me if my stitches are close enough or if there is something I should do differently, based on this close-up.. circle game 11

This really is back to basics. Here are all the tools I am using. No rotary cutter. No mats. No quilting rulers. No sewing machine. circle tools

I have a whole new appreciation for our quilting history and what our ancestors went through to make their beautiful quilts. There are some benefits – it is easy to take with you, you have a lot less to carry, it is more relaxing, and it is easier to be accurate.

I will keep some of the Christmas cards, but for design ideas not as template material. Fortunately, for us this way of quilting is a choice.




Posted in 2018, hand piecing, Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Long, lazy days of Winter

In summer I dream of these days. It’s 4:40 pm and almost dark. deck

Environment Canada has issued extreme cold warnings the last couple days with wind chill temps in the -40’s. With these temperatures, there are no expectations to go anywhere, do anything. The hustle and bustle of Christmas is over. Our house is warm and the perfect place to stay – and quilt for 10 or 12 hrs a day.

Exercise breaks mean I play hide-and-seek with Huxley. He is the best ever at this game! Here he is, hiding around the corner just waiting for me. I happened to see him through the hallway mirror.  huxley

Occasionally, my breaks include putting fabrics away and cleaning up my sewing room. It’s also a good time to take inventory and get organized for the new year.

My Project Management style includes a quilting spreadsheet. What it tells me is that from 20 UFO’s going into 2017, only 4 remain. Three are in the “It’s a mess – What was I thinking?!” pile; one is a wholecloth. Nine new ones are on the list, all in various stages of completion. The wholecloth fabric was snow dyed by Vicki Welsh. How to quilt it is the question.

All the FMQ and ruler work I did this past year was to improve my skills and give me the confidence to tackle this project. Maybe by this time next year I will be ready.

For me, 2018 will be the year of gradated fabrics. It was love at first sight when I purchased the first few pieces in Singapore. They are so pretty, so happy, I just couldn’t quit buying them. Now I have 19 pieces. gradients

How far will they go? That is my goal for 2018. To see what I can all make using these fabrics. Every new project that I start will include a piece of gradated fabric, regardless of how small. If you have any ideas, let me know…

What are your plans for 2018? I wish you all the best in whatever you do, and in whatever has captured your heart. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Ruler Quilting 101 Reveal

Finishing one project seems to make it okay to add a dozen new ones!

First, the finish… ruler sampler

This sampler of quilting with rulers will be a quick visual of designs I may or may not use in future projects. The advantage of making the sampler?

  • Playing with ruler designs on paper made me comfortable with how the rulers felt, and how to manipulate them
  • Drawing the designs helped planned the general flow of stitching
  • My mistakes will remind me of things to avoid or things to change

You can make your own sampler! Whenever you see a quilting pattern you like, make a rough drawing – mine are REALLY rough. More like scribbles, that I keep with the rulers. Once you start a collection you will see patterns emerging. You will have more ideas about combining designs, which rulers to use (or buy), and it will speed things up when it comes to the actual planning of your own designs.

To make your designs, thy this approach :

Draw a 12″ square, since that is the size of most quilt blocks. Then add 3″ on all 4 sides. This will give you the equivalent of one block, 4 borders and 4 corners to play with.

Pencil and erase the designs until you have something you are happy with. The 12″ square is star of the show. Use the design you like best, and make it large. How do your rulers work with the large space? Corners are the opposite. They will challenge you to think and play small. Will the same rulers work in small spaces? Borders give you the opportunity to stretch &repeat designs. In both the corners and borders I tried to repeat designs at least once. First attempts are seldom perfect; practice is a good thing.

When you are ready to stitch your designs, sandwich a number of pieces and stitch them out. You will see that having drawn them on paper first will help plan the stitching.

On another note, we are very happy to welcome the Modern Quilt Guilt to out city. Our first assignment was to make name tags to wear to the meetings.

I went into my sewing room looking for supplies, notions and inspiration. The magnets I found were for purse making, and I couldn’t think of a way to make them work on a name tag. I couldn’t find any pins that were appropriate – but finally I saw a zipper that had fallen on the floor and decided it could work as a lanyard.

The name tag was first on the “to do” list at a retreat I attended last weekend. After that, I worked on a Christmas 2018 quilt. How is that for being ahead of the game? More like being behind, as it won’t be ready for 2017. The Laura Burch fabric I bought on my trip to Saskatchewan last May was the inspiration on this Simple Woven quilt pattern by Moda Bake Shop. Here is a sneak peak at several blocks: basket weave

I also made progress on The Circle Game. Then I had to set it aside while I waited for more fabrics to arrive. They did. But now I am on to other things. The plan is to resume hand work when we are away for several days at the end of December. I can hardly wait to play with these pretty fabrics. circle game2

Things may be quiet from this end for awhile. Christmas always does that to me. Decorations, gifts, ornaments… Too many ideas; too little time. I did get a new assistant, but so far, he is not much help. Huxley is his name, and he is quite the distraction.

I will leave you with another fall recipe from Ken’s kitchen. We had quite the batch of sweet pumpkins this year, and Ken has been trying new pumpkin recipes every week. This is one of the best pumpkin breads I have tasted. Try serving it like gingerbread, with a dollop of whipping cream. I will also be receiving a recipe for Pumpkin Curry soup within the next day or two and will add it here. It is really good! Our daughter does not like curry but she even admitted that the soup tasted good.

Have a great December, and have fun with all of your sewing and crafting activities! I will be back once my Santa work is done.

Posted in 2017, quilt along, recipes, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Ruler Quilting 101 – Block 6

This was one of the first blocks I designed. It takes a more modern approach – ignoring lines that define the border and corner blocks. It is not difficult, just a little more involved so the instructions are a little longer than normal.

Once again we are using the 12/13″ Arc ruler. This is the 4th block we have made using this ruler, which shows just how versatile this ruler is.


Here are the particulars:

  • RULER: 12/13″ Arc
  • LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: 101, Beginner Ruler Quilting, some experience Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)
    • cross hatch kite, square
    • leaves, border of inside square
    • cross hatch mountains, border
    • gentle waves, border
    • surf wave, border
    • vase, corner
    • spider, corner

Step 1: Make the basic markings on your quilt sandwich

  • Mark your 18″ square (these will be your seam allowance lines), A1, A2, A3 and A4.
  • Mark the 4 lines that are 3″ in from the seam allowance, lines B1, B2, B3 and B4.
  • Mark the diagonal lines from B1 to B3, and B2 to B4 (C1-2)
  • Find and mark the center of your block (D)
  • Find the center of each B line, top and bottom (E 1-4)
  • There will be a few additional markings that we will mention as we get to them. A6S1

Step 2: Stitch all your B and C lines. A6S2

Step 3: Start by making one of the larger circles (outline of the surf wave). Using E1 & E2 as a guide, stitch from one seam allowance to the other. You will need to move your ruler as you go. I did that at the C line. After you do the first row of stitching, make a row of echo stitching 1/4″ outside your initial row. A6S3

Step 4: Make another large circle using E2 & E3 as your reference points. Make a row of echo stitching outside of this semi-circle as well. (note: the picture shows the needle on the inside of the curve but that is not where you want to stitch. You want to stitch on the OUTSIDE of the curve, with the ruler positioned on E2 and E3, as shown in the picture)A6S4

Step 5: Stitch the other two semi-circles from the seam allowance of E3 to E4 (just to the B line, not to the seam allowance this time) and then continue to the seam allowance of E1. Repeat the row of echo stitching. You now have your center kite.

Step 7: Starting at E1, make leaves along all the B and C lines. There is no extra markings involved; simply follow the arc of your ruler from one point to the next (green lines). You will end back at E1. Reverse your direction in order to start Step 8. A6S7
Step 8:
 Make 3 leaf shapes in the border area from E1 to E4, and on to the corner (yellow row). This forms the first row of your gentle waves. Travel 1/2″ and stitch your next row of waves (brown row). Follow the diagram shown. Reverse direction and stitch the third row of upper waves (pink row). A6S8
Step 9:
 Make the lower waves in the same border area (black line). Start with one at the seam allowance (AB line) at corner #2. Stitch one arc to match E4 at the seam allowance, then stitch another to AB at corner #1. Start again at the other AB line of corner #1 and stitch to the semi-circle line under E1. Make another 2 rows above this line of stitching, 1/2″ apart. A6S9
Step 10:
Make flower pots in corners 1 & 2, following the diagram shown. A6S10
Step 11:
Next, let’s finish the large circle we started with when we were making the leaves. It is the border area between E1 & E2, including corner #4.
This is a simple swirl design. It starts where the circle meets A (seam allowance) and always stitches to and from BB. Feel free to ‘eyeball’ the space between your stitching lines. A6S11
Step 12:
To finish the border section, make 3 mountains. Start with finding the mid-point between E2 and BB, between BB and E3, and finally, between E3 and BB. These will be your 3 mountain peaks.
Start stitching at E2 on the A line, stitch up to F1 and back down to AB. Make one row of echo stitching 1/4″ from the first row. Then complete the inside with cross-hatching. Repeat for the other two mountains. A6S12
Step 13:
We are down to our last corner. Find the center of the square and make a spinning design from corner to corner and from the mid-point of each side. A6S13

Voila! We are done! This will be my last block in the 101 beginner series. I hope that you stuck with me to the end, and that you enjoyed your ruler quilting experience.

Next week I will show you my six block sampler quilt put together. It will be hung in my sewing studio as a visual reminder of the many ways my few rulers can be put to use.

Posted in 2017, my patterns, quilt along, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Ruler Quilting 101 – Block 5

This week we will mix it up a bit, just in case you are tired of simply working with the Arc ruler. My intention was to use one ruler per block but the straight ruler is such a standard item, I decided to incorporate straight lines into this design. Here is the block we will make: block5

Here are the particulars:

  • RULER: 12/13″ Arc, 13″ straight, and 4″ Arc
  • LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: 101, Beginner Ruler Quilting, some experience Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)
    • framed 8 petal flower, square
    • reverse rainbow, border
    • wonky curved square, corner
    • 4 petal flower, corner

Here are the rulers I will be using: block5 rulers

The only new ruler is the 4″ Arc by Westalee. It is in their starter kit. You may recall that in Block #3 I attempted to make Cathedral windows in the corner squares using the 13″ arc because it was too big and did not have a sharp enough curve to produce the desired affect. The 4″ Arc ruler by Westalee is the perfect ruler to use in such a small space.

Step 1: Make the basic markings on your quilt sandwich

  • Mark your 18″ square (these will be your seam allowance lines), A1, A2, A3 and A4.
  • Mark the 4 lines that are 3″ in from the seam allowance, lines B1, B2, B3 and B4.
  • Find the center of each B line, top and bottom (C 1-4)
  • Find and mark the center of your block (D)
  • There will be a few additional markings that we will mention as we get to them.


Step 2: Stitch all your B lines.

Step 3: Starting with C1, stitch the first row of the frame from C1 to C2, then to C3 and C4. Then continue to fill in each section towards the BB corner. I placed my ruler right on the previous stitching line, so the rows are 1/4″ apart. Before you continue on to Step 4, mark the middle of your first row of stitching (E 1-4).

Step 4: Make the 8 petal flower in the same way you made the butterfly in Block #3. Start in the middle (D), travel to the tip of one petal, back down to the center and then to the tip of the opposite petal before returning to the middle. Stitch the remaining petals in the same way. Your tips will be at the C and E marks.

Step 5: Make the reverse rainbows in each of the 4 boarder sections. Using the C marks as your guide, stitch from the SA to the upper C mark. Adjust your ruler and continue to the other AB seam allowance. Stitch two more rows, 1/2″ apart.

Reverse the rainbow. This time start with BB, stitch to the lower C center mark and continue back to BB. Make 2 more tows, 1/2″ apart.

Step 6: Stitch the 4 petal flowers in 2 corners, opposite from each other. You will need to find the center of the block (F1-2). This is where you will use the 4″ Arc ruler, reversing direction at F1 and F2. A3S6

Step 7: Stitch curved wonky squares in the other 2 corners. We first did this in Block #1 using the straight ruler. The Arc ruler gives a slightly different effect, and I must admit that I need more practice with this one!

Next week we will conclude this series with our final block for Ruler Quilting 101. Until then, have a great week and continue practicing!

Posted in 2017, quilt along, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ruler Quilting 101 – Block 4

This is definitely my favorite block so far. block4

Here are the particulars:

  • RULER: 12/13″ arc
  • LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: 101, Beginner Ruler Quilting, some experience Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)
    • cross-hatch butterfly, square
    • 3 peaks, border
    • cross-hatch orbit star, corner
    • sunrise, corner

It is made using the same Arc ruler(s) as Block #3, so I will not review the rulers this time around. Simply go to that post if you want to read the review.

Step 1: Make basic markings on your quilt sandwich

  • Mark your 18″ square, lines A1, A2, A3 and A4. (same as all previous Blocks)
  • Mark the 4 lines that are 3″ in from the seam allowance, lines B1, B2, B3 and B4. (same as all previous Blocks)
  • Draw a line from corner to corner in the center square (C1-2). This line will not be stitched so make sure you use a marker where the lines can be removed.
  • Mark the center of your quilt sandwich (D)
  • Find and mark the center of each B line (E 1-4)
  • At each BB corner, make marks 1 1/2″ and 3″ down along the C line. A2S1

Step 2: Stitch all your B lines.

Step 3: Starting at the center (D), stitch along the arc of your quilting ruler to one BB corner, back to the center, up to the opposite BB corner and back to center. Do the same for the other two butterfly wings, and then repeat for all the F markings (see stitching diagram).

*Remember to use your small ruler to determine the placement of your quilting ruler for the corners and center.

**Also, if you are using the Westalee ruler, you will need to use the same technique as we did in Block 3 since your ruler is not long enough to reach from the corner to the center of the block. That is, to stitch part way along the arc and then re position the ruler at the desired destination.

Step 4: To complete the cross-hatch sections, line up the 1/4″ reference line on your quilting ruler along the outside of the butterfly wings. Use it as a guide to follow the parallel lines between the B line and the Butterfly wing. Travel the short distances needed at both ends (see diagram). Repeat for all four sections.

Step 5: Each of the 3 peaks will start and end at an AB point in the border section. We will stitch the center peak first so that we can use reference points on the quilting ruler for the other two peaks.

Starting where the seam allowance (A) meets the boarder line (B), follow the curve of your ruler to stitch to the E1 mark you made earlier (use your small ruler for accuracy). Then stitch down to other AB line. Repeat for the other two peaks. Start and end at the same point, but stitch 1/2″ to either side of the first peak (use the 1/4″ reference line on the quilting ruler).


*This is where a ruler that has both an inside and outside curve will come in handy. You will be able to stitch all three lines starting and stopping at the same spot by using the reference lines on both the inside and outside curves.

Step 6: In Block #3 we stitched orbit stars in two of the corners. This time we will make the same orbit star and simply add cross-hatching. Once again, use the 1/4″ reference line on the quilting ruler as your guide. Repeat for the opposite corner.


Step 7: Follow the diagram to make the sunrise corners stitching from the outside corner (AA) to the inside corner (BB).


*I always start with the middle longest line and work out. It reduces the amount of shifting and puckering that occurs. You could also baste the 3 layers together just outside the A lines.

I hope the wait was worth it. Have a great week!

Posted in 2017, my patterns, quilt along, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 4 Comments