Monday, 31 August 2015

Monday Musings

Goal check in:

My August goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes was to finish a top I'd begun in the springtime. I'm very pleased to report that it is pieced and ready to quilt!!!

Ta DAHHHH!!!!  (I think it will make a sweet baby quilt, don't you?)

Metro Rings top, ready to quilt

Ever had this happen?

Sometimes when a quilt is squared up on the frame it refuses to lay flat.

Client quilt, accurately pieced but slightly stretched.

The fabric needs to be controlled so the hopping foot won't push ripples into pleats that get stitched down - ugh - BUT that's impossible to do from the back of the machine when stitching a pantograph (the plan for this quilt).

After considering some options, I broke out my spray bottle and spritzed the ripply areas with a fine mist of water. Once the fabric was quite damp, I patted it into place and let it dry completely.

The difference is quite dramatic!

Client quilt - after spritzing with water and leaving it to dry overnight.

Once the quilt is bound and washed everything will look quilty and perfect!

WARNING: Try this at your own risk! This technique has worked well for me, but be aware - there is always a chance of disaster. If you decide to try it, be CERTAIN the fabrics are colourfast. (It is very risky to do this on batiks, for instance, or on red and white quilts - eep!!!). You must KNOW your fabrics!

Quilts, Fresh off the Frame

"Quick" custom quilting involves no ditch stitching, and fillers are freehand where possible. The fillers must still complement the piecing, but they are larger in scale and cover larger sections than more intensive custom would. 

Kool Kaleidoscope, front

As you can see from the back, there is still tons of great texture on this fun piece!

Kool Kaleido, back

Got to try out my new puzzle panto on this bright beauty!

Puzzle panto

Its owner intends to trim, fold, and wrap the backing around to the front to create the binding. I trimmed away the excess batting from around the top to make that even easier!

Trimmed and ready for "self binding"

 This quilt called out for the ABC panto, don't you think?

Modern Twist worked well for this happy, strip quilt!

An earthy batik strip quilt finished things up for the week.

Life Snippets (or, what goes on "between" quilts!)

In a "full-circle" moment, my grandchildren and I baked peanut butter cookies using my grandmother's old fashioned recipe.

Memories of my childhood are so vivid - sometimes it amazes me that I'm the granny now!

L loved the mixing and rolling, and R was tickled to be the cookie squash-er!

R also loves helping in the garden. It was fun watching him dig potatoes - such excitement! He wanted to unearth the whole patch, but we only needed a few for supper. He had to be satisfied with picking peppers and chocolate cherry tomatoes, instead. Ha!

Pepper Paloosa!!!

Later that evening I remembered our apples. I wish I'd thought of them while I still had helpers! They would have loved picking them, I'm sure.

Battleford apples are delicious!

Three times a week I walk along the river as a warm-up for my time at the gym. I'd rather walk this path than use a treadmill any day!

View of the Peace

We camped with some friends on the weekend. On Saturday we'd planned a fossil hunt, but the weather wasn't wonderful. In the end, we thought it would be more fun to explore a nearby town. We weren't disappointed! Among other things, the Cultural Centre offered a weirdly intriguing exhibit by a local artist.

Art by Christina Cedar.

Art by Christina Cedar.
She makes casts of her family's faces and then features them in her artwork. I'm not sure if this is beautiful or creepy, but I do appreciate that it is unique and compelling! That's art for ya!!!

Happily, the weather cleared up in time for the most important part of camping - the evening campfire!

I haven't made time to add a widgetty-thing here, but I'm playing on Instagram these days!
If you play there, too, look me up under my blog name, freshofftheframe (You'll know it's me when you see my usual mug shot!) Let's play together...Follow me, and I'll follow you right back!

Linking up with:

A Lovely Year of Finishes August Finishes Party @ Fiber of All Sorts & Sew BitterSweet Designs
Main Crush Monday @ Cooking Up Quilts
Monday Making @ Love Laugh Quilt

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Stories With Happy Endings!


Oh, man. This quilt made me nervous.
It's a photo quilt, and as soon as you poke a hole in the photo fabric, it's permanent.
There is no way to "erase" mistakes. Gulp.

It's been a while since I've felt anxious about quilting. Obviously I've been away from the frame too long. 

Ditching (stitching in the ditches) soothed me, and I eased back into the process. When the ditching was done, I stitched a feather design in the log cabin blocks. I wanted feathers to radiate out from the large photo.

After the feathering, I added some quilting beside each photo to suggest wheat heads.

Wavy lines above and below the smaller photos imply fields and sky. I like how they fill the space without fighting the feathers.

I was reluctant to stitch over the photos, so I took the quilt off the frame and put it on my design wall to see how it would hang.

Almost an "After" shot, but not quite.

Nope. Not working for me yet.

Dang. I had to gather my nerve and stitch over the photos after all!

A simple frame of stitching just inside each photo worked wonders. I went over the lines two more times to make them more prominent. Even better!

That bit of stitching helped visually connect the photos with the rest of the quilting.

I left the dark frame around the large photo and the black piece under each smaller photo unquilted. They provide a bit of relief from the dense quilting around them, and help balance the unquilted areas of the quilt (aka zee photos).

Here is a BEFORE shot of the top:

"Before" quilting

And here's my super-professional AFTER shot - ha!
I feel a bit drunk looking at this, but I assure you the quilt is perfectly square.
(Memba the earlier design wall shot? Square!)

AFTER quilting

I just hope its owner will love the quilting as much as I do!


Driving to my next adventure was a bit of an adventure in itself, but it was nothing compared to the drive home!

The "road" is a dirt track with hairpin turns and steep grades. There were a few swampy mud holes to traverse, too. (My windshield was clean when I left home!)

So beautiful - but not much of a road!

One of the hairpin turns.

Steep drop ahead.

Looks like "up", but I was still going "down" into the valley - it was a hilly trip!

Traversing a stream.

The payoff was a delicious cinnamon bun, an afternoon on the river with fantastic company, a juicy steak supper, and an evening horseback ride in the hills!

Outdoor lounge with a view @ the Peace Valley Guest Ranch.

Boating on the Peace.

Evening ride in the hills overlooking the Peace River.

On the drive out of the valley I thought I might have to spend the night in my car. No joke. It had started to pour, and the mud was slick. The road is considered impassable as soon as it gets wet. My hope was to beat the rain and get out before it reached that state.

Too late.

I should have stayed put, but there was no turning back. A steep, slippery hill with no place to turn around is a commitment.

Dean, the owner of the guest ranch, had come out on his quad to rescue me - but ended up opening the last gate to let me out, instead! His comment? "My hat's off to you, lady! That was SOME driving!!!"

I'll say. It was like driving on ice, uphill and around nasty corners, with nothing but lightning fast steering and quick wits to keep me on the road. I spent a good deal of time climbing the hill sideways. The mud spray from my spinning tires must have been impressive! (My husband wondered how there could be so much mud on my roof - ha!)

I'm glad I didn't know Dean was watching. I might have held back, and then I'd have been sunk. Literally.

A week (and a wash) later, chunks of mud still fly out from under my vehicle whenever I hit a bump!

I love my Alberta adventures!


Quilts of Valour blocks are sent in by quilters from across Canada, and then volunteers (like me) finish them into quilts. I never know what I'll get in my package, so I like to throw things up on the wall and do a quick sort.

Blocks from across Canada.

This time the blocks range in size from seven to 15 inches. I've decided to make a "row by row" style quilt so I can group blocks of similar size.

Blocks sorted into rows.
Lezley also sent along bits and pieces of O Canada fabric, so I should be able to fill the rows quite nicely. I'm not sure what I'll use between the rows, but I'm quite certain there's something in my stash that will do the trick! When the quilt is finished, it will be a warm hug for a brave soul who has served our country.

What kind of week have you had? I hope your stories all have happy endings, too!

Linking up with:
Show off Saturday, at Sew Can She

Try, Learn, & Grow!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Working in a Series, with Katie Pasquini Masopust

Before Katie's class I was supposed to make an art quilt. It was to be the first in a series of related pieces.

At the last minute, I still hadn't settled on an idea. Even if I'd had an idea, there hadn't been time to make a new piece while I was working on the Judge Certification Programme anyway. What to do???

I needed to use an existing piece.

My Ugly Fabric Challenge came with me to class. It was pinned up on my design wall for all to see.

Ugly Fabric Challenge posing as the first piece in my series.

It is not technically "art" since I'd made it into a cushion cover, PLUS, it was obvious I'd pieced it using Jean Wells' technique. I was worried about seeming pretty unoriginal and lame-o.

At any rate, it made an excellent jumping off point. I'd decided to set some parameters for my series based on the ones I'd used for my challenge piece:
  • Controlled colour palette
  • Abstract
  • Improv piecing 
I added one more requirement. I wanted my pieces to appear to glow from within.

A picture I'd taken over a decade ago became the inspiration photo for my first piece. I chose a colour palette, and I was set to go!

My inspiration photo for the "real" first piece in my series!

I started by creating a background.

Part way through I began auditioning fabrics for vertical lines and detail piecing.

I was still piecing at the end of day two, but felt quite pleased with how it was shaping up. It doesn't look like much in this photo, but in person it absolutely glows!

Number one almost pieced!

We were to move on to the next piece in our series as quickly as possible, so my first piece was set aside to be finished later.

While working on the first piece, I'd started imagining possibilities for my next piece. I'd decided to stick with the idea of trees - why fight it? - but didn't have my next step figured out. At. All.

That evening I was on the lookout for my next inspiration. Lucky me! I spotted this beautiful shrub outside the back window of the clock shop.

Inspirational shrubbery!

Better yet, it offered compositional inspiration for an abstract piece!

Piece two, well under way.

This time I reversed the colours, featuring yellows on a predominantly violet background. (Again, it does glow, but the classroom lighting did weird things to the colours.)

While I was working on my second piece, I'd started imagining possibilities for the next one . . . I loved working in a series! My brain was happy, happy, happy!!!

By the end of day four I'd generated an idea for a third piece - yay! - and taken a number of inspiration photos to help me along.

About the Class

In addition to circulating during the day, Katie made the rounds every morning to hear each person's plan and ascertain where help might be needed. She did another formal check-in at the end of each day to make sure everyone was on track.

Katie Pasquini Masopust

Katie didn't offer unsolicited advice. She worked on her own project in class so she wouldn't drive us all crazy (her words!), but was always available to help with creative or practical issues.

On the last day of class, the wrap-up allowed us to show our design walls and review our progress. Most boards showed remarkable growth.

Design Wall Wrap-Up

Marsha does beautiful work. In fact, she won first place in the 2015 "Wish Upon a Card" Michael Miller Fabric Challenge! (Follow the link and log in to FB to see her postcard).

I met Marsha in a class three years ago and we became fast friends! In fact, it's thanks to conversations with Marsha that I keep going back to Sisters!!! (It's all her fault! Ha!)

Here is Marsha's design wall. Her first piece is the top one on the left. Her series developed around the idea of making something beautiful from "unloved" bits and pieces that came out of a piecing workshop a while back.

Hi Marsha!!!

Everyone worked very hard. I'd love to show all twenty boards, but "in progress" pieces don't always show well without an explanation. As I'm unable to speak for each artist, I'll stick with things that are far enough along to speak for themselves!

Sharon's first piece is in the upper, left corner of her board. You can see how she grew in leaps and bounds with every piece!

Sharon's board

Karen's first piece is on the top, right corner of her board. Her series started with the idea of creating travel posters. Much to her surprise, her work morphed from realism into a more abstract style!

Karen's travel posters

I missed this person's name, but you can see she explored her "leaf" theme in a variety of ways. Her first piece is on the bottom, left portion of the board, and her last piece is the tree silhouette with the single leaf. She said it represents the end of her series - which I thought was very fitting!

Explorations of a leaf theme
Barbara's first piece is the top one. She wanted to show her natural hand-dyes to best effect in her designs. She made some amazing progress!

Barbara's natural hand-dyes

Grr! Another name I thought I had, but don't. This lady (I want to say Emily?) created whole cloth quilts using black stitching and fabric paints. We can't see the beginning of this series because she took her first piece home, but the one in the upper, left corner was her third piece. She has a fourth marked and ready to stitch in the bottom, left corner of her board.

Whole cloth quilts

It is fascinating to see new ways of working, isn't it?

The next board features one of Katie's techniques - paintings on canvas are cut up and reassembled into new compositions. (Beth has been in class with Katie before!) Beth's first piece is being held up on the right, and her third piece is on the left. I think Beth's work is getting stronger and stronger!

Canvas, reconfigured.

Mandy's first piece is obviously the one that is finished in the top, left quadrant of her board. She did a couple of colour studies, flipping her blues and reds in the bottom two pieces. The shapes in her pieces were inspired by architectural buttresses. Her work will look amazing once it is pieced and quilted!

Mandy's board.

And guess what??

During my turn in the wrap up, Katie commented that when she first saw my "ugly fabric challenge" she thought the leap I'd made from inspiration to quilt was genius! That comment made my entire week, I tell ya!!!

My board - photo by Katie PM

Thanks for stepping into the classroom with me!

Linking up with:
Design Wall Monday, at Patchwork Times
Main Crush Monday, at Cooking Up Quilts
Linky Tuesday, at Freemotion by the River

Try, Learn, and Grow!

Oh, hey . . . I am now active on Instagram!!!
Please look me up under my blog name, freshofftheframe, I'd love to see you there!
You'll know it's me when you see my usual mug shot!