Sunday, April 11, 2021

Block Adoption: An Atlantic Canada Wall Hanging

Full disclosure: I am going back through some picture/projects that I never blogged about. This project was completed in August 2020.

A few years ago (probably more than I want to admit) I was at the thrift store and came across 5 orphaned blocks. They were from the Cantik Batik Canada Mystery blocks designed by the talented Shania Sunga. If I have one weakness in life, it's batiks. (In reality I have many weaknesses in life, but I do LOVE batiks). And here they were, these 5 blocks made of beautiful batiks, fully put together. How could I just leave them there? And so they came home with me.

In the picture, the blocks I got were Northwest Territories (top left), Alberta (top middle), Nunavut (top right), New Brunswick (bottom left), and Nova Scotia (bottom right).

As is true with a lot of fabric I buy, I didn't actually have a plan for them. I wasn't planning on making the entire Canada quilt, I just knew that I couldn't abandon the blocks at the thrift store :). After thinking about it for a bit, I decided that I would like to do just the Atlantic blocks together. I had a friend who followed along with the blocks as the program ran, so she lent me her patterns (and her scraps!) so that I could do my own Newfoundland and PEI. It was even perfect because two of the blocks ran vertically and two of the blocks ran horizontally - it was like they were meant to be put together into a wall hanging. 

Newfoundland block
(sorry about the terrible lighting)
After completing the two other blocks out of my stash (and the provided scraps), I had to figure out a plan.  I already know that I prefer straight stitching on raw edge appliqué. I decided that there were enough little pieces that I did not want to try straight stitching around them through 3 layers. However, I also knew that I didn't want to do quilting over top of the beautiful images. So I made a plan for each block about which parts I would do through a single layer and which parts I would quilt through all 3 layers - trying to balance how much and which parts of the block were quilted all the way through.
As we were in a pandemic, I tried to make do with supplies I had, so I pulled threads that were "close enough" and borrowed from a friend for the rest. (Greens were my downfall).
An example of the stitching I did through the single layer.
I used my computer to design some things I might be able to do with the 4 blocks.
I decided that I liked the look of the strips of different lengths. At first I was thinking that I would pull out colours/fabrics from the blocks and just randomly use them. However, as I started pulling fabrics and laying them out, I decided it would be nice to make the top border be the "sky" and use sunset colours and have the bottom border be the "ground" and used greens for land and blues for water. 
I couldn't decide whether or not I wanted something in the black bit in the middle of the quilt or just do something in there with quilting. In the end I decided to add the blues and yellows to try to pull the blocks together (the blues being the water from in all 4 blocks, but specifically the two vertical ones, the yellows pulling in the yellow sunset and yellows in the tree of the two horizontal blocks).
The next decision was to figure out how to quilt the rest of it. I decided to lean into the "ground" at the bottom and "sky" at the top, so I tried to do waves at the bottom and clouds at the top.
Practice stitching - very important!
The real stuff
This is where I decided that I actually needed to go to the store. Not only did I need shampoo, but I felt like I wanted to make sure I had thread that I was happy with as it was going to show up on the black. I don't normally like to shop at big box stores, but since it was a pandemic, I decided that 1 store where I could get groceries, household supplies, and thread was better for exposure risks.
For the middle section, I did stitch in the ditch on the coloured fabric, and then carried that stripe design through into the black bits as well.
And now time for the photoshoot:
This project was gifted to a friend's mother (who was my second mother in high school - I still call her "Mommy"). She has a grandbaby that was born out East during the pandemic who she hasn't been able to go and meet in person. While this in no way makes up for that, I thought if she couldn't go out East, I could at least bring a bit of out East to her :).

The other 3 blocks that I got at the thrift store are still waiting for their project :).

Saturday, April 3, 2021

What's the Word: Covid Quilt Challenge #14

This past weekend we undertook another quilt challenge. We had a little less time available than normal, so we decided to hand-pick what we were doing instead of leaving it up to fate. We were thinking of doing improv piecing to help use up some of our scraps. However, we thought that might be too broad with limited time, so we narrowed it down to improv letters: a word in particular.

Neither of us new anything about improv piecing, let alone improv lettering. So, as usual, we started with googling. While there are lots of pictures out there of improv letters, there are not a lot of instructions. Ultimately we decided that it was mostly figuring out piecing order and then just going for it.

That meant that step 1 was picking a word. That's harder than it sounds. You can't google for inspiration, and there are unlimited options (well somewhat limited because it still needs to fit in the given perimeter). I settled on the first word I thought of, which was HOPE. I felt like it was a good word for spring (and maybe trying to project into my life a bit). The spring inspiration made me feel like I wanted to use green fabrics for the letters. I also decided that it would look nice and go with the theme of hope to have the colours go from light at the bottom to dark at the top to represent growth and change.

I felt like this was ae challenge that didn't need a practice round, so I got going pulling greens from my small and medium scraps, sorting them by value, and piecing them together. I had already drawn out my letters and decided the piecing order, so I just had to assign value to the various pieces. Then I used my green bits to start constructing my letters.

Once the letters were made, I attached them together. I had always planned on the H being bigger than the other letters. However, due to "poor planning" (is that a thing with improv piecing?) the E ended up not as tall as the O and the P, which made me a little sad at first. I didn't want to have to redo things, so I pressed on. As I continued working with it, I realized that it also just made it look like the letters were ascending, which also fits in with the theme of hope and growth. So I'm glad I ran with it.

As I started working, I realized I wanted to make my letters a little bigger so that I could have more of a colour sweep. I also knew that I wanted to add some floral embellishments to the quilt so that it was not just letters. But because the letter were bigger, I also wanted to make sure there was enough space for my flowers and stems, so that meant I had to make the space below the letters bigger. With everything a little bigger than I originally planned, this meant I wasn't going to make the perimeter rules. I texted my friend to see what she was thinking, because I didn't really want to compromise the design just to fit the arbitrary perimeter rules. Luckily she said that she was also running big on her letters, so we decided to ignore the perimeter rule this time around.

I quilted the background with swirls that all started from the bottom and grew up. It meant I had to be a little creative with how to fill some of the upper bits above the letters, but I managed to successfully meander my way up there.

I was originally planning on full flowers, but then as I thought about it, I decided that buds would be better to fit in with the theme, so that's what I went with. I also decided I wanted to use up scraps, so I only used fabric I already had with a fusible backing. This limited the size and shape of the leaves I could make, but I think the heart shaped leaves I ended up with are perfect for the project. I added more quilting to stitch these bits down and add a few stems and leaves. I also added some nice sunshine because that's what seems to be giving me hope right now (especially as we go into another lockdown).

I found a perfect binding that was a mix of light and dark green and some yellow. And then the final step was to take it outside in the sunshine for a photo shoot.


Here is the back.

And here it is with what will one day be my daffodils.
Hopefully one day soon 

My friend had a similar inspiration to me (it might have had something to do with the fact that she saw me googling quilted flowers :P). She also made green letters (I think she had more scraps to work with thanks to 3 baby quilts for a sister who loves bright green).

Can you tell what her word is from this :P?

I have to say she was much more ambitious than me in letter formation.


She also decided to add some floral embellishments. She chose to improv piece hers.

But then she had to figure out what to do with them. She didn't like the look of just sticking them on top.

So she started a fun game of unpicking and fitting them in to the piece.


She did some lovely loop-de-loop quilting in her background (this was my second choice for quilting mine :) ). 


And also finished it with a green binding.

We did a good job of unintentionally making the same project :P. I hope they brighten your day the same way they brightened ours.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Salt and Sand Blog Hop

 Today's my day to participate in the Salt and Sand blog hop :).

As soon as I heard the theme I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I took a trip to Flowerpot Island at Tobermory, ON a few years ago with my family (you know, back when we could do things like hang out with family and go places). I took a picture that I knew I wanted to reproduce the second I saw it, but I felt like I didn't have the knowledge, the skills, or the confidence to do that and do it justice.

Then I started doing quilt challenges with my friend. We started doing them about a year ago. We would pick a quilt technique on a Friday night and aimed to each produce something by Sunday night. The only criteria was something with a perimeter of 20-30". We wanted to get out of our comfort zones, get comfortable with a little less planning, and be a little more artistic. You can see all the things we've made up until now on at my Covid Quilt Challenge Round-Up.

Doing these challenges made me feel like I could finally revisit this, and signing up for this blog hop gave me the push I needed. Plus I felt like the colours really fit the theme.

I started by piecing the background. The sharp and distinct changes in the water colour are common for the area and are the original reason I took the picture. I wanted to capture those distinct colour changes and felt like piecing would be the best way to do that.

After that I added the rocks, clouds, and white water as embellishment, made my quilt sandwich, and started stitching. First I went around the added bits. Then I quilted the various backgrounds, adding pebbles, churning water, waves and wind (and it was windy that day).

The final step was to add in the branches. I decided to use confetti to do this. I already owned netting, which I bought inspirationally knowing I wanted to do some sort of project with netting (but nothing specific in mind), which I used to encase the confetti bits. At first I cut the confetti into triangles, but I learned the hard way that the holes in the netting were bigger than my triangles :D. That's when I started cutting them into strips, leaving them long enough to not fall through the holes. I went from a very manual cutting process to just running the rotary cutter back and forth quickly and very close together. I used a variety of green and black batiks, stirred them together in a container and sprinkled them around the netting. Then I carefully transferred it to the sewing machine, stitched around the outside, and then just all-over stitched back and forth across the inside. Next time I would do it in two smaller parts instead of one large one, because it was hard to keep it flat on the machine so that the confetti didn't all fall out or to one end as I worked.


I cut out various bits for the ends of the branches, and then used green and brown thread to create the branches leading up to the needles. I filled in a few more branches, and then decided it needed more needles. Some I could add to already existing branches, and some I needed to do more thread work for.

I knew that the back wasn't going to look ideal with all that stitching on the back, so I decided to use a busier background to hide some of that. As I was looking through my stash I found the back fabric I knew I wanted to use: loons. I have a childhood quillow that was made from this fabric, as loons were one of my favourite animals. Being from southern Ontario, I don't have a lot of ocean experience; our water comes in the form of the Great Lakes. And the first time I saw a loon was probably in the same body of water as the picture was taken in, so it seemed fitting to use. (I know lakes don't quite fit the salt and sand theme perfectly, but I figured I could fudge it a bit.)

Lastly, I faced the quilt. I'm so happy with how it turned out, and am amazed at how much I've grown in my skill and confidence in the last year to be able to produce this. I will need to find somewhere to display this.

Thanks for stopping by for the blog hop :). Hope to see you again.

Don't forget to check out the other blogs today and all the other days. I'm sure there's going to be lots of wonderful things to see.

March 22
Creatin' in the Sticks
Selina Quilts
That Fabric Feeling
Days Filled With Joy
Elizabeth Coughlin Designs
Karen's Korner
Homespun Hannah's Blog
Crafts and Math
March 23
Life in the Scrapatch
Food for Thought
For The Love Of Geese
Becky’s Adventures in Quilting and Travel
Karrin’s Crazy World
Sew Many Yarns
Kathy's Kwilts and More
March 24
Ms P Designs USA
DayBrook Designs
Vroomans Quilts
Kathleen McMusing
Quilt Schmilt
The Darling Dogwood
Daughters of Dorinda
Annie’s Musings
March 25
Stitchin At Home
The Joyful Quilter
Freckled Fox Quiltery
Quilts Fabric and Thread Tales
Words & Stitches
March 26
Just Let Me Quilt
Quilting Gail
Samelia's Mum
Quilt Fabrication
Little Penguin Quilts
Just Sew Quilter

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Happy Pi(e) Day

Yesterday I made 3 pies and this morning I made one more in honour of pi day.

I made pecan and chocolate chip pie, which is what I usually do every pie day to take to work. Plus I made a sugar pie and a flapper pie. Both of those were new to me to make and even to taste. As you might be able to tell from the list, I prefer a non-traditional pie. Fruit pie is generally at the bottom of my pie list

Then I spent the afternoon assembling packages (with help from past takeout orders and my new cricut machine 😀😀😀)

And doing pie deliveries. 

8 different families/individuals benefited from my pie day baking 😀.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

I did a thing

I feel like I've been in a bit of a crafting rut as of late. Been spending my spare time puzzling and reading instead. And lots of just dealing with life. I have a long list of "projects" I've started or want to start that I just haven't been working on. But, instead of tackling those...

... I signed up for a blog hop.

The challenge is to sew something in ocean/sand colors and/or ocean creatures. My day is March 22, which means I really need to get hopping. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Covid Quilt Challenge #13: Bluework

Another week, another quilt challenge. My friend is still away from her normal workspace, so we were still working from the quilt kits I put together for us - which meant blue!

The technique we picked was redwork, but since all we had to work with was blue, we did bluework instead :). The theme that was picked for us was birds. Originally I had made the stipulation that we should do something that wasn't just a recreation of something that already existed, but birds is a hard category to inject some new design/creativity into.

My friend chose to do a humming bird and flower.

She did a better job than me of following the rules and drawing out her own design.

We both ended up doing a stem stitch for our work. She also stuck with tradition and used a single colour for her design.

She hand quilted the background.

And wrapped the backing fabric around to the front for binding. 

Finished piece.


I cheated a little bit more with the criteria - I printed off my design and traced it. But that was because I really liked the look of origami cranes and decided that I couldn't really inject my own flair to that. I did add the stick to the top of the design :).

I used a hoop for my work, though there were times that I felt like it was more in the way than helpful.

I stitched through the white fabric and the batting at the same time. I did this because I didn't want the thread to show through. It mostly worked well, but there were a few times that the batting came through to the front. 

I also used 2 strands for the outline of each bird, and a single thread for each of the inner lines.

I also chose to go the less traditional route and use a different colour for each crane. I liked the idea of an ombre look.

I debated hand quilting vs. machine quilting, but I had a lot going on on the weekend, so I decided to do machine just to save time. I outlined the entire embroidery, and then added vertical lines.

I really like the crisp look it gave.

This project took me back to grade 6 when my class made 1000 paper cranes (I made a significant number of these).

My friend tried to cheat by using this fabric she found at her mom's :P

She was also so inspired that she started another one this week. So lovely :).


Embroidery work is nice to have to work on. Once you've done the planning, you can just work without having to think about things.