Cats & Kids

Twelve days with the grandchildren and I am just catching up. It was (almost) all fun and games.

Both weekends were spent at the cottage and at the last minute I decided to throw together a quickie quilt. I have one child’s quilt out there (made when the oldest was little) but I have 2 grandsons. It was high time to make another. cats4

If pictures on FB are any indication, most quilters have a more than adequate stash. I have a half decent one at home but obviously not at the lake, although it sometimes becomes difficult to remember what you left out there in the fall. It was only our third time out. The most important things go first – food, water, and other necessities like my sewing machine. I just hadn’t planned the fabric.

Scrounging in my various hiding places did not reveal much. A fleece throw that I could use for backing. A few panels, most of which were too juvenile. Some small scraps and strips left over from other projects. It was quite the mixture. In the end, I had enough for a small quilt, but could not make it even 2″ wider or longer. It was pieced, spray basted and tacked down before the boys came and I thought I could finish it while the boys were in school/daycare.

That didn’t happen. My grandson insisted on using it even though it wasn’t finished. cats1

When he wasn’t using it, our cat Huxley laid claim. cats2

Speaking of Huxley, he has been setting fashion trends in the animal world for the last year by wearing a variety of accessories around his neck (wounds that wouldn’t heal).


Huxley, AKA Socksley

So, when I made a few stuffed cats as gifts, they also had to have bandanas.

And when the boys came, their stuffies needed bandannas, AND sleeping bags.


Stuffies are camping

The quickie, scrapy cottage quilt is not award winning by any standards, but considering what I had to work with, I am pretty pleased with it.


Monster quilt, front

I have found that a variety of materials can be used in the same quilt as long as the quilting is consistent and fairly close together. In this case I did just a little FMQ and then used my favorite ruler for some ruler-guided quilting. The back (in black & white) might show the quilting better.


Monster quilt, back

I promised my Grandson the quilt would be done by his next visit. It is. But July 1st should be too hot for fleece and flannel. Or, at least I hope it will be.

Posted in accessories, Scraps, super simple quilting, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Ice: Friend & Foe

Ice. Apprehension. The two are always linked. Every spring starts the same. First, long cracks, then clear and cold water along the shorelines, often reflecting clouds above. Diamond crystals sparkle amid grime and grit left over from winter snow. So delicate, so beautiful. But strong. Dangerous. And unpredictable. Joined together, crystals form blocks strong enough to move boulders and destroy man-made structures. Some years, ice is a friend; others, a foe. 

That is my Artist Statement for ICE – my first ever submission to the Textile Fibre Artist Network of Manitoba (TFAM). friend foe.jpg

Techniques used: Free motion quilting, silk fusion, felting, hand embroidery, couching, embellishments.

What follows is a description of the process.

Layer 1 – The background was fairly simple. I couched yarn for the distant shoreline and stitched movement for the water. This was done on a single piece of gradated fabric. Reflection of the clouds was important to me, so those were hand stitched knowing that most would be covered in the end. Layer 1

Layer 2 – I have been wanting to try silk fusion for awhile, and this was the perfect opportunity. The book and supplies were ordered from Treenway Silks . Following instructions in the book, here is the set-up on my kitchen table. Similar to wool felting, the silk fibers are put down in layers at right angles before being ‘fused’ together with an adhesive. The result is a piece of fabric that is strong but can be cut in any shape you wish. In the end, I had 5 sheets of ‘fabric’.


It was a bit of a puzzle cutting and placing the silk, but I like puzzles (and called for help from my creative neighbour friend on more than one occasion!). Basically, for this layer I wanted to illustrate long cracks, large chunks of ice, and the start of a spring melt.


The pieces were ironed down with Misty Fuse, but needed additional stitching. That made the sky unbalanced, so some additional stitching went into the sky. Now it was a windy day!

Layer 3 – Ice always piles up along the shore – all shapes and sizes. Small, delicate crystals. Large, solid sheets. My version looked a little ridiculous, and the project almost went off the rails at this point. It was flat, scattered, lacked interest. Layer 3

Layer 4 – This layer was always in the plan, although not quite in this format. The crystals were in the plan, as were the 3-D blocks of ice piled up against the tree. close diamonds

The spikes were in the plan. They date back to 1886, and in this work of art, represent the power of ice to destroy things are are extremely strong, and things that have existed for a long period of time. As a side note, these spikes were removed from pews in a local heritage church when making their space more wheelchair-friendly. I was privileged to receive these three spikes, and pleased to repurpose them in this piece. close nails

The tree was not in the plan, but my picture lacked depth. To create it, I added some hand embroidered trees to the distant shoreline, and then added the large tree to the foreground. Actually, felting a tree is not all that easy. I gave it three tries, and ended up using this one – first wet felted, and then needle felted. It is spring, and no leaves on the tree yet. felted trees

For some real life pictures, I will share these…

lake view

Early Spring


Melting Ice

real ice

Strength to move boulders

Parker's quilt 265

Ice as Foe

My picture was done when I could no longer think of anything to add. It may not be the finest piece of art, but its mine, and there will be no other piece like it.



Posted in 2019, art, challenges, gradients, my patterns, Reclaimed and Repurposed, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Quilting Overload

Quilters are like golfers. A little rain can’t stop us. It was Friday, and there was another Quilt Show to attend – The Barnswallow Quilt Show in the rural community of Morden.

I wasn’t the only one up bright and early to drive the hour+ in order to get there close to opening time. Time, and a turn west made it feel like I was in the banana belt. The sun came out and temperatures doubled.

When going to Morden a person just has to stop at The Quilter’s Den. For our convenience, The Quilter’s Den opened early so we could hit it before going on to the quilt show.

I will talk about my purchase there a little later.

The Quilt Show itself is always very well done. Because this is such a long post, I will give you only two – a large and a small quilt. Visit their website if you want to see more.

Crown of Thornes

made and quilted by Evelyn Hoepner

Create II

made and quilted by Barb Westfall inspired by a birthday card

A drive to Morden wouldn’t be complete without stopping at another quilt store along the way- Road 17 North. road 17

I have a weakness for Fat Quarters and ended up with a bundle of blue and red. Some day these will be turned into a log cabin quilt.  I love the history of the Log Cabin quilt, with the red center square indicating the warm welcome of a fire inside. Log cabin fabric

Saturday was International Guild Day. For 30 years our guild has teemed up with our Sister Guild, the North Star Quilters from Grand Forks, North Dakota for a morning of shopping (local vendors), Show and Tell, and listening to a speaker. This year it was our turn to host and one of the men in our guild (we have two) shared the stories behind about 40 of his quilts. Great job, Fred!

I bought a few more fat quarters, Tula Pink this time. They have already been cut and made into a stuffie (Can’t show you until it is gifted) with a pattern I purchased in Morden.

  tula pink

My quilt, Amazon Star, made its way south of the border with our guests from Grand Forks, where it will be quilted. Another reason to go south of the border later this year. I spent last week, including a day at Crescentwood’s mini-retreat piecing the back for Amazon Star to make it big enough for the quilt. For those at the retreat (and anyone else interested) I am taking the liberty of adding this recipe for Chocolate Squares to Ken’s Kitchen along with his recipe for blueberry cobbler. 

The Modern Quilt Guild of Winnipeg brought Libs Elliot in last week. I did not attend any of the workshops, but did attend her Trunk Show.

Libs has designed fabric for Andover Fabrics and I have seen her line called Tattooed North in stores for awhile. Without a purpose it was fairly easy to resist, but then I heard more about it. Libs has a cottage north of Toronto, which was the source of inspiration for this line – rocks, ripples, stars, pine needles… spiders. I could relate to it all, especially the story of her children being afraid of spiders in the outhouse (been there, done that!). Knowing the fabric line was sold out, I had to buy a selection when I saw it in Morden. Tattooed North

A local quilt shop also brought in Sue Patten this week. I attended one workshop, and her Trunk Show. She is very well known for her thread work – just a couple pics:

She also gave us permission to video tape and share an easy method of securing your bobbin thread and bringing them to the top. This avoids having a mess on the back of your quilt, and you don’t have any threads to bury. Unfortunately, I was unable to transfer the video to the blog, but she said it was on U Tube. I encourage you to look for it.

Those are the highlights of my last week. Is there such a thing as quilting overload? If there is, I just went through it. Everything always seem to happen all at once.

The extra hours of daylight, birds building their nest, and children starting their spring league activities remind me warmer days will soon be here and with it, lots of extra work. I should have a ‘Finished!” to tell you about next week but otherwise, my quilting activities will just have to slow down now that spring has come.

Happy quilting…


Posted in Highlighting others, Quilt Shows, recipes, travels, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Assiniboine Circle Quilt Show

Have you ever found that your quilting inspiration has vanished? That question was asked by someone on one of my FB groups last week.

This is a non-quilt show year for my guild – the Manitoba Prairie Quilters, but there are a number of smaller guilds in the area holding their spring Quilt Shows. I had the pleasure of visiting Assiniboine Circle Quilt Show last weekend and there was certainly no lack of inspiration there.

We were greeted at the door with this cheerful little quilt and display.

This quilt was made from a selection of very colourful hankies.

Pretty Little Hankies

Made and quilted by Diane Gantzel

This is one of the nicer wedding quilts that I have seen. Such a simple and effective way to capture the well wishes of wedding guests.

Jemily Wedding Quilt

made by Jackie Janzen, quilted by Pat Roach

Christmas is never out of season. Just look at all those 3-D legs!

Up on a Housetop

made and quilted by Marj Moore

This quilt was started (and obviously finished!) just 13 days before the Quilt Show.

My Goose is Cooked

made and quilted by Corina Coombe

I have to give you a close-up of this embroidery project.

The Mystery of the Salem Quilt Guild

made and quilted by Diane Gantzel

This rag-quilt would provide continuous inspiration with personally selected quotes from favorite books and authors.

All the Best Book

made and quilted by Mary Baranski

Some beautiful quilting is being done on domestic sewing machines these days.

Golden Jubilee

made and quilted by Kathy Stephen

This quilt won Viewer’s Choice (sorry for the quality of the photo).

Moon Glow

made by Brenda Barbour, quilted by Lorna Lehn

I love the modern look of this quilt, quilted by my favorite Long-Armer.

Shine Bright

made by Josie Avery, quilted by Donna Reznik

Here is another quilt that highlights the quilting – done on a linen tablecloth purchased at a thrift store for $10.

Miss Regal

made and quilted by Arlie Warrener

The inspiration for this small wall-hanging was a napkin. How cute is that!

Spider Quilt

made and quilted by Jocelyn Phillips

That was just a sampling. There were so many more lovely quilts. The next time you need inspiration, look for a Quilt Show to attend.



Posted in Highlighting others, Inspirational, Quilt Shows, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Wallets and more wallets

Last weekend I taught a wallet class.

The participants all seemed to be happy that they were actually taking a finished product home. The black and silver cork was a favorite with students, and its easy to see why. It is so striking. The hardware on one is silver and on the other it is gun metal.wallet5

Each wallet was so different, especially on the inside. wallet4

This would be the one to take to a party, with glittery vinyl on the outside, bottles of wine on the inside, and copper hardware.


The natural cork with rainbow confetti was also a favorite and the options when you use fabric is endless. Just look at the squirrels on this one. Unfortunately, I missed getting an interior shot of these. wallet6

This is the pattern for the Diva Frame Wallet and was designed by Jessica VanDenburgh. The pattern and hardware can be ordered from Sew Many Creations, or may be available at your local quilt shop. Some alterations may be required if using cork.

It will be a short post this time around. I am now preparing for a class on Designing for Ruler Guided Quilting that I am teaching next weekend. Needless to say, what I do in the quilting world ends up here so if Ruler Guided Quilting interests you, then keep a watch for related posts in the near future.

Now that its Easter, you may still be looking for a last minute recipe that isn’t ham or turkey. You are in luck. Ken’s Kitchen sent a couple chicken recipes for you to choose from. georgian chicken under brick or Slashed Chicken.

Have a great weekend. Hope it is a special one for you.


Posted in 2019, accessories, Classes, Highlighting others, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Amazon Star, A Sneak Peek

Drum roll, please!….

Somewhat premature since it still needs to be quilted, but you persevered with me through the doubts and decisions so you deserve a sneak peak.  The original pattern vs my reiteration.

You saw each bag as I made them. They were joined to make the following sections:

Center, Amazon Star Center

sides Sides 

corners Corners

I love the muted spikes but those orange stripes I was fretting about a couple weeks ago still bother me. They should blend with their neighboring blue fabrics into points of the star, instead of being stripes. I have considered adding just a little Inktense* to make them blend. Here is a sample of what it might turn into.

Do you think it is worth the risk? Feel free to vote yea or nay.

My independent review of Judy Neimeyer’s Amazon Star pattern:

I loved, loved, loved how organized everything in this pattern was. From buying and cutting the fabric, organizing the paper pieces, including the color chart, and sewing the sections, they could not have made things any easier. I was always working with small manageable sections until the very end when I was joining them together.

There was enough complexity in the pattern to challenge me and enough variety to keep it interesting. No sewing 500 HSTs or sewing a million strips! I usually only had to make 8 of any one item – just enough duplication to gain speed and accuracy. If there was a particular section I didn’t like, I knew I only had to make 8. I was never bored. The quilt top was finished with a speed that surprised me.

Paper-piecing = piece of cake. Almost. I was thrilled with the results of paper-piecing until I got to the Y seams at the end (only 8 – ha!). There they failed me. I got much better results once the paper was removed. (Yes, I did those seams more than once.)

It is hard for me to say anything negative about this pattern except for the cost (20 meters of fabric for the front; 10 for the back & binding); it is probably the best pattern I have ever made. 80% of it was very easy.

If you have ever wanted to make a Judy Neimeyer quilt, don’t be intimidated. Go for it! The results are worth it.

*Inktense are watersoluble ink blocks or pencils that become permanent when dry.

Posted in 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged | 20 Comments

Amazon Star, Bags #5-10

Bag #5: This is more like it. Dark and calm. sawtooth strip

Bag #6: This is the last of the orange and red. From here on in its all blue. bag6

Bag #7: Its hard to believe I’m already starting the border. Not loving it so far. bag7

Bag #8: More borders. The original pattern had contrasting fabric for the spikes but I wanted to tone it down. In this case the star will be the focal point; the spikes will be far more subtle. bag 8

Bag #9: I was glad there were only 8 of these to make. It was a little bit of a monster for paper piecing, but I’m starting to love these spikes. Isn’t it funny how you like some fabrics grow on you work and others don’t? As I was stitching, the song ‘Moody Manitoba Morning’ came to mind.bag9

Bag #10: No real work with Bag #10. These are simply background pieces that will be used in the final assembly. bag10

That’s it! This week the task will be to sew the sections together and remove the paper.

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Week 1 with Amazon Star

Bag #2

I read the instructions at least a dozen times… and kept getting lost. There were units, and sections, and parts, and strips, and colors, and steps – all with numbers following them.

Example: Strip Piecing Part 1, Unit LS-1, Section #5, Fabric #5, Color #10. Phew! I had to do some mental gymnastics on this one.

This was certainly a new-to-me method of strip piecing. 

In the end, I had to treat it like a tax return and just followed the instructions, step by step, thankful that someone else had written them.

Once I got it, I enjoyed the process and loved the results. Bag #2 made me happy – the colors were so bright and colorful, the points so nice and sharp. bag 2

Bag #3

Doubts started to nag me. Subtle at first, then full-fledged, even invading my dreams.

The orange was suppose to be an accent. I didn’t expect them to be quite so overwhelming. bag3

Bag #4

Seriously, what was I thinking?! The colors should blend. It looks like my star will have stripes. bag4

As the week continued, the coloring chart became my constant companion. It kept me from making mistakes and when I lost the vision, it helped restore it. It gave me the confidence to continue. color chart


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Amazon Star Starts Shining

Monday was going to be THE day. I was going to start my BIG quilt. I could hardly wait! (In case you missed it, see Blue Monday for background)

The grandchildren were over Saturday. As they were outside playing in the snow, I wondered if it was too early to set up for Monday. I decided not.

For large quilts I like to set up on the dining room table. With more room and tons of natural light, its the perfect space to sew – especially in the winter when the sun is shining or the snow is falling. I can look outside, but feel cozy inside.

Decisions on which thread and which sewing machine to use were made. Bobbins, scissors, cutting mat, rulers, and rotary cutters were gathered. The 10 bags of cut fabric were retrieved. All set. cutting

Maybe I should read the instructions. They are long and complex. I have only made one paper-pieced quilt and it was a log cabin. Hardly qualifies, right? Reading instruction would be good.

Judy Niemeyer says the key to success is being organized. Yes, I could do that too, so I find all ‘Unit A’ pieces and cut them out. Unit A corresponds with Bag #1. Of course I have to open Bag #1 and line the fabrics up in the order that they will be used.

Now what? Dinner is over. The grandchildren are gone. Should I try one ‘Unit A’ piece? Just to make sure I understand the instructions?

That wasn’t hard. Maybe I’ll make another, and another, and another…

So, Monday isn’t even here yet, and Bag #1 is done. bag 1


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Postcard Journaling

It’s scary to head into something without direction. It’s also liberating and just a little exciting. More so when things turn out better than expected; less so when they don’t.

Here was the plan: a few days in Long Beach CA, a few days in Avalon (Catalina Island), and a cruise with port days in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. I was going to find a source of inspiration  and complete a Postcard Fabric Art (PFA) for each location. In preparation, I completed a number of backs ahead of time.

You can see that the backs were done and wrapped around to the front for a finished edge. I use double sided adhesive Flexi-Firm (a Pellon product) so once the fronts were done I trimmed and ironed them down for the center to adhere. Then I simply whip stitched the raw edges.

In addition to front fabrics slightly larger than 4″ x 6″, my supplies were limited to a box of Inktense blocks, sharp pens, and thread. The designs would have to be kept simple. kit

The inspiration for my postcard of Long Beach was this symbol of a fish, located outside the Aquarium of the Pacific. long beach1

I coloured the background, drew the fish, ironed fusible fleece to the back and then stitched it. Fairly easy.

Catalina Island was more of a challenge. Inspiration was everywhere. The biggest problem was deciding what to do. One morning I went out with my Inktense blocks to transfer some textures by rubbing the blocks over the fabric – wood floorboards, bricks and dividers.

I started two postcards. The first used the texture of the wood, which I decided (after the fact) to use for this planter that I saw hanging on the wall of a house. I got as far as the embroidery of the plants before I threw the whole thing out. A little more research on how to use Inktense is required

The second card wasn’t much better, but I kept it. The red was transferred from a brick. Then I decided to make the fountain that was in the center of the Pedestrian walkway but of course, it was too big. I wanted to feature the tile work but couldn’t work in the fine detail that was required, and my scale was all wrong. Nevertheless, here is my Catalina postcard. I even found a wood sticker to put on it. 

With 3 ports in 3 days, my plans for Mexico were too ambitious. In the end, Mexico got one card, so let me tell you about it.

With the homing device most quilters have embedded within, we were barely off the ship when I saw an advertisement for a Quilt Store. Fortunately, it is located along the Blue Line (walking path to Old Mazatlan) and we made it our first stop. mazatlan1

I also have a weakness for thread so when I saw some unusual thread in the clearance bin, I just had to buy it. A punch needle came with it. Never mind that the instructions were all in Spanish and I actually have punch needles that I purchased in the 80’s (never used). mazatlan3

Thank goodness for U Tube videos that I was able to watch once I got home. The pattern was part of the kit. It was stamped on the back of the fabric and the perfect size for a postcard. mazatlan

This was fun and didn’t take long to make. I think I will try this again on future projects.

The back of the cards give details about each place, things we did, and the people we were with. journal notes

My trip journal.


Posted in quilted postcards, travels, Uncategorized | 8 Comments