Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pillow Capers

I really have lost my sewing mojo the last little while and decided to take on some easy and gratifying stitching. In the few hours I've had in between going to and from my mothers, the kids various schools and appointments, food fetching and prep... (all you Mom's know the routine) I've been making pillows. Pillows are very gratifying to stitch up as they are quick and relatively easy. I made a few sets for gifts and displays - these were rather addicting! This was a great way to get back into the swing of things.

I love the red tulips on the decor fabric, and the sunflowers in Sole, and of course I had to do one with a quilt theme.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A skirt for my Mama

My dear mother had a bad fall ten days ago and hurt her shoulder quite badly. She is in her 80's and this has left her quite immobile. My siblings and I have been taking shifts to care for her and I am happy to say she is making a good recovery thus far. I have only to been to my studio for brief periods of time; and mostly to fix hems or repair things. Today I happily took a few hours to make my mother a wrap skirt that will make it easier to dress. I am quite pleased at how it turned out. The pattern is from and is called the Dana A line skirt. It has been generously offered as a free download that you can print yourself at home and I can tell you it was simple and fun to make. My mother's favorite color is blue and she loves butterflies so I was thrilled to find this beautiful Japanese fabric in my stash.

I hope she likes it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

I love being a mother. My favorite part of this day are the handmade cards I get to treasure the rest of my life. I love them all -but I have posted one that means more to me then any gift I could have received. This is from my third child who is working (and succeeding) at many of his learning challenges. I won't get into details but he had a written output issue and working with a pencil to write, never mind draw was too difficult to imagine. The detail and quality of this handmade card amaze me. I know it took him three times as long to do - and that makes it all the more special. It's just AWESOME!

Have a wonderful day all!

Monday, April 27, 2009

River kayaking in Arizona

It has been at least 20 years since we have been to Arizona. This past weekend, in fact three whole days and nights, we spent in Phoenix and it was just beautiful. Hot and sunny. The best part is that my allergies disappeared for the three days we were there. They are back now and I can see why so many people with allergies choose to stay there for the Spring.
The highlight of our mini-vacation was a kayaking excursion down the Salt River. I have just been learning to kayak here in Canada on the longer kayaks with skirts and pedals. The ones we took down the Salt River were ocean going kayaks (go figure) and were simple, stable and loads of fun. We even did rapids! Too much fun!
Tomorrow I am spending the day in my studio! I should be cleaning my house... but why?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Studio Update

Long time no post...
April is always a busy time around here. We have an abundance of birthdays, family and work functions to attend to. It has been difficult to find time to fix up the studio so I've approached it by doing just a few hours at a time. I am finally at the point that I can move things in, which has been simply wonderful. I am half way there but it already feels so fabulous. Things are still not as organized as I would like them to be but in time, it will be and that is all that matters. I did spend some time sewing and managed to whip up some beautiful pillows, new curtains and a few other items for my daughters room. It all turned out beautifully and I think it is because the studio is so bright and spacious and easy to work in. So, here are a few pictures of my happy space.

Storage space with loads of fabric.

It's amazing to have it all back together!

More fabric in the corner of the studio...
I have a good deal to inventory

My 'twin' sewing machines.
One is set up for stitching, one for embroidering.
I have really missed these guys!

Serger and Cutting corner... plus computer space.
I haven't quite figured it all out yet.

I treated myself to some inexpensive IKEA tables and to two comfy seats.
They're WHITE! with a pink/green pin stripe.
This is too funny - I simply can't have white or light
colored furniture at home. But I can in my studio!

I feel so lucky! Now I just have to prove that I deserve this space. :o)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Before photos

Studio in transformation...
I have my space! I won't be blogging so much as I get this painted, cleaned and ready to become a studio. Here are a few photos before painting. If your monitor is showing you a sickly yellowish brown color on the walls that's about right! The blinds are blue... hmmm.
I am going 'white' - yup - just white! I realize this isn't very inspiring but I want the fabric and textiles I have to be the focal point. The white also makes it feel so much cleaner.
We have two more family birthdays this week... My DH and eldest son, so I am going in early to sand and paint as I won't be available to this weekend. Hopefully, new photos will be up mid week.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Psssttt.... I've got a secret...

I don't wish to jinx this but I think I may have found my space. It's in need of some TLC, in a safe area only a 5 minute drive from home. I would be sharing space with an accomplished local jewellery designer. We meet today to figure this out...

It's 400 square feet! I have never had that much room ever!
The rainbow picture is from Lake Okanogan- Vernon, BC

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wonky House...without a sewing space... and a studio quest...

The above 'wacky or wonky house' is from my UFO sewing bin. I had planned to use a cobblestone fabric and a few other funky fabrics I had collected but I cannot locate them. Instead I went with a piece from my current bin of batiks and I will embellish by hand this evening with beads and other small bits of fabric.
The few folks who read this blog know that I haven't currently got a sewing space. I surrendered it for my daughters sake and now we are seriously full up at the 'Inn'.
I have moved my sewing from room to room and now it is currently set up in the dining room, which is where I believe I started out 25 or so years ago. I need to move out of that space tomorrow to prep for a family dinner party. I really feel cramped and creatively stifled in a way I can't fully describe. I can't seem to locate a permanent space in this house and it's driving me a little bit crazy. Really. So, I have decided that I will find studio space outside of the house. I did come across one place in an Industrial area not far from home that was actually pretty cool and had an awesome view of the ports but it went quickly. I don't have a lot of money to do this so my aspirations aren't too high. A safe area, and not too far from home. Just as long as the owner is willing to let me add my touch :o). I'll post more soon... wish me luck.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My St. Patrick's Day Joy

March 17th 1997...

I know every parent says this... but where does the time go? My youngest are celebrating their 12th! birthday today... March 17th, 2009. They are an eighth Irish on my husband's side but are quite sure they are full Irish as they were born on this fabulous day. Because we are such a large family and we are still thankfully all together we are off for a day of fun with them which includes a famous Irish restaurant/pub in Vancouver. (For lunch - not the usual St. Paddy's day activities!!!) Here are a few pictures from their babyhood I had to share. I hope everyone has a joyful and fun St.Paddy's Day!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The last winter storm?

We've had the most snow this winter of any winter season I can remember. Yesterday and today have been lovely but chilly. Here are a few photos from yesterday. My crocuses don't know what to do!
Don't forget to sign up for the giveaway for Heather Ross 4" squares ---two posts down or click here:
I am drawing on Tuesday!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Instead of Quilting....

I haven't been blogging or quilting as the hiking group I belong to 'Fresh Air Fitness', has just completed our first makeover of a downtown east side mission. I had a small part of it - just one day painting and cleaning- but it is a wonderful, special endeavour to have been a part of. The local news did a lovely story on it and we are in the second half. Have a peek :)

It's glorious to finally see change happening in this neighbourhood, it was so desperately needed, and a safer more hospitable community is emerging as a result. Mission Possible is a big part of this change.
PS - I am on the ladder with the denim shirt on :)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cupcake Bags from Clare!

I received these adorable cupcake totes in the mail early last week. I bought them off a talented seller in the UK named Clare. Her etsy store is called 'Acorn Attic' and you can click here to see more...

I didn't take them all!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Q & A with QuiltLover

I discovered the joy of having a quilt longarmed just recently and what a fantastic discovery this has been! I met Monika when I first switched my online store from Ebay to Etsy. She was my first sale on Etsy and helped mentor me when I needed help. She is a wonderful lady, a talented quilter, and a fabulous Etsian. I am proud to say I even own a couple of her beautiful quilts. I had thought it would be fun to ask her a few questions as Monika leads a very interesting life.

Q. What made you decide to purchase a longarm machine and start a quilting business?

A. In 2006 I retired from long haul truck driving, but I have the constant need to be busy and do something. Sewing has been a part of my life for over 40 years and I have always had this need to "make" something. I started quilting in the 80's and used to get very frustrated trying to baste my Quilts for machine quilting. The kitchen floor was just too slippery. After buying a home quilting frame for a sewing machine, I knew it was not what I wanted or needed. Having a bit of money to spend I started researching long arm machines and happened to come upon APQS. The Rep I contacted was very friendly and helpful and I bought a machine. I could not justify the expense for just a "play" machine, so I took a machine quilting workshop and I knew I had what it takes to long arm quilt for you.

Q. What is your favourite part of the quilting process?

A. I love loading the quilt unto my frame and then select the pattern and the thread. I am very fortunate to this point as all my clients leave it up to me to do their Quilts. As soon as I have that Quilt top on the frame, I seem to know what will bring it to life, what thread to paint it with, what batting will give it the best look. It is amazing how machine quilting can bring a simple pattern alive, or just add texture to a Quilt that is complex.

Q. Many longarm quilters have long turnaround times yet you are able to get a quilt back in a very short period of time?

A. I am by myself 21 days of the month. Just my puppies and me, and they are not very demanding on my time. I am in my studio 10-14 hrs every day, making Quilts, quilting Quilts, or just fondling my Fabric Stash, looking through books, practicing feathers or quilting. I don't like to have a stack of unfinished Quilts, so as soon as I get them, I quilt them and put my own on hold. It helps to love what you are doing and I cannot wait to see the faces or hear the reaction of my clients when they get their Quilts back.

Q. What are some of your favorite colour combinations?

A. If you look at my Etsy store you will see that the brighter the better. I love working with colors and like the dramatic effect of mixing in some black.

Q. How about your favorite fabrics?

A. I am a Batik Junkie and probably have about 20 meters of various colors in my closet. I love Moda, the feel and designs of the fabrics. Fall back in Time, Mix and Mingle, Chocolate, where some of my favorites. I am in love with Bernatex Fossil Ferns, the colors are outstanding and I have about 10 Bolts of various combinations on hand as I use it for backings.

Q. What is the most important thing you would tell quilters to do to>> prepare their quilts for longarming?

A. Oh gosh, there is no "most important" thing. I ask my clients to press their Quilt tops well, square it, snip all threads and make sure there are no open seams. Have the backing 4-6 inches larger than the Quilt top all around, and to remember...If it is not perfect when you give it to me, it will not be perfect when you get it back. (But I will do my best to get it as close to "perfect" as I can)

Q. Do you pre wash your fabrics (or not) and why?

A. I stopped prewashing fabric several years ago. The dyes used in fabrics now, especially designer and top grade fabrics, are so much better than they used to be. I have many Quilts in my house that are used and washed on a regular basis and I have no color bleeding problems, so I stopped prewashing. I like to think that my customers like opening their Quilt package and see a nice crisp product. If they want the rumpled heirloom look, I leave it up to them to wash their Quilt when they are ready.

Q. Do you have a great idea for using charm packs?

A. Yes, take about ten packages, mix them all up, put them in 2 piles, and start sewing them together. I love the randomness of the designs and the color falls wherever with whatever. Put a nice co-ordinating border around it, send it to me for quilting and have a stunning Charm Square Quilt.

Q. Coffee or tea?

A. Coffee in the morning please. When my hubby is home he grinds Hazlenut Vanilla coffee beans every morning and makes the most delicious cup of java. When I am by myself, Melita Fine Grind will do. In the evening I have a large cup of Peppermint Tea, so refreshing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I can see Bowen from my mountain!

The weather has been so beautiful in Vancouver lately and my alpine hiking group has been taking full advantage of it. I had to post these pictures of the view and of our fearless leader Jenn. At the top of Cypress Mountain on a clear day you can see over to Vancouver Island. It really is breathtaking! I am finishing up my star blocks for the Australian Bushfire blocks tonight and will post them later.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Australian Bushfire

The bushfires in Australia have been in the forefront of the news here and around the globe. The loss of lives, homes, and in some cases entire towns is devastating. Campfollower Bags has spearheaded an effort to collect lovely star blocks from around the world in order to make comfort quilts for those in need downunder. You can read about it here:
It's really a small but worthwhile endeavour and one that I will be participating in as well.
You can contact Tia on her blog. Do have a look at her bags as well. She is very talented, generous and giving.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Full Moon

It has been far too busy to get any sewing done but I did get out for a night snowshoe with my hiking group. I had to attach a photo one of the other ladies took of the moon. It was so bright across the meadow we didn't need our headlamps on.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I've been bad... sort of

I know I should be working on my UFO, and I will. I did find I got a little depressed when I pulled out the heart quilt and realized it needs and wants to be finished and it will but I really feel like some new inspiration as well. Here it is. I haven't purchased a new quilty themed magazine or book in a long while, and I did use an Indigo/Chapters gift card I received last year for my birthday. So I really wasn't that bad. I especially love the 'Stack a New Deck' book as it has some really easy quilts that look like they would go together quickly, yet they have a more complicated feel to them.

I haven't abandoned my heart quilt, just extended the time I will give myself to work on it.

Really. I mean it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I am a sewing room refugee :(

When we first moved to this house with five small children in tow it had seemed that we had more space than we could ever hope to use. In this home I was finally able to secure a small room under the stairs in the basement that would be all mine. Twelve years later and five much larger children with bigger piles of necessary stuff, we are all still here; including the one I thought would have moved out by now. Instead she has decided that the University experience is far better commuting from home and has decided to do her next four or five years from here. The comings and goings of a young adult are rather noisy, they keep hours that are either very early or very late and prove to be quite disruptive to the rest of the family. We decided to move her to the basement and this meant disassembling my room. That space was my sewing room/ studio/ getaway space. Now don't get me wrong. I am grateful to still have all my children around and we are all sleeping better at night, but I don't believe I fully realized the implications the loss of that space would mean to me.

As I packed away my things and moved them into storage, I had thought I would be able to find a small corner somewhere in the house to use. Instead I am shifting from room to room and groping through bins and boxes to find a zipper, button or thread as needed. I am working on getting a couple of those handy plastic drawer units organized with some items, but it simply not the same. I liked having everything laid out in my room. I had cupboards and shelves, a huge design wall and space to work. I could replace a broken zipper in 10 minutes inbetween driving children to tutoring or sports and cooking a big family dinner. Now I have supplies in one closet, fabric in another, (and under our bed) my good sewing machine and serger in the workshop (which I can't use right now... long story) an ironing board set up in the kitchen, the etsystore sale items in a storage locker and last but not least, my lovely old singer in the family room. I moved it there as it seemed the least intrusive and folds up quite nicely into a very small piece of furniture when not in use. However, it's always in use so it's never put away. This is the same room the we have our family TV in and while I was sewing last night one of my dear sons mentioned that the sewing machine was rather loud and could I sew later? hmmmm.... As I contemplate where I will shift my machine to next or how I will convince my hubby that we need to do a renovation :) I'll leave you with a picture of what I did accomplish last night on my son's quilt. (Before I was shut down by the mob!)

Happy Quilting!

PS I am open to ideas and suggestions.... I need a good sewing desk ... a cupboard... send me ideas!

Where are you quilting? Do you have an awesome small space?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gone, but not forgotten

Twelve years ago when my middle son was 2 I made a simple quilt for him to drag around and cuddle with. At the time he would spend some time with me in my sewing room in the basement and he chose the fabrics and colors for his quilt. The theme was frogs and it took just a few fat quarters and some luscious batiks to construct. Blues, greens and purples, his favorite colors were used. I hand embroidered his nickname and a small frog on the back. It quickly became his favorite quilt, even though it was the most simple one he owned. He took it on car rides, to hotels, camping trips and over to friends homes. It was a cuddle blanket, a super hero cape, a picnic mat and occasionally the ocean floor. We washed the dirt out of it too many times to count and even though the edges slowly frayed and colors slightly faded it still remained his special quilt.

As he got older and it wasn't 'cool' to carry his blanket around, he would only do so discreetly. He would carefully stow it in his bag and then tuck it into the sides of a couch or behind a cushion or pillow when he was away from home. Around the age of nine when we were on a family road trip he managed to hide his blanket a little too well and it was missed on our final pack up. Somehow we didn't notice until it was too late and despite several calls and emails it was never found or returned.

Ironically I have few photos of this little quilt. I was never particualarily proud of the quilt as it was rushed and not as squared up as I like. At the time I was pregnant with my last babies and busy working on their layette. The photo I do have was taken years later and unintentionally. I was taking pictures of some other quilts when my son suggested I photograph his as well. It was already pretty worn and used but there it is.

So now, after a few years, we have decided to make a new quilt together. It will be a large lap size that he can use on TV nights or in his room on his bed. Of course it will be in batiks and we'll use lots of blues and greens mingled with some yellow and orange hues. He wants it to remind him of the ocean and the sky during a sunset. He has designed his own pattern too; and has stuck to a simple but interesting design that will show off the batiks but not cut them too small. Here is a photo of some of the fabrics we'll be using. To this we are going to add some gorgeous hoffman patterns I have (not too many) but enough to make it pop. This should be fun .... I will post photos as we start stitching our quilt squares! The best part is we will be doing this together we'll always have this memory to cherish.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Katie Baby Quilt

This is a small quilt I stitched up a couple of months ago for a friend who had a baby. The squares are from the Katie Jump Rope collection which is one of my favorite sets. I do find that many of the designer collections are so busy that they look best offset with neutral tones. It was so simple and from start to finish took less than 6 hours. (of course with breaks and stretches and chocolate in between). Probably less if I didn't handstitch the binding. I really love these small projects. They are so quick and gratifying.
The snow is finally melting away and now we just have big mounds of ice everywhere! There still aren't many parking spots and sidewalks are non existent. Lots of rain and a wind warning so I hope we don't lose power again. The last one caused serious issues with the router and it took me a long time to figure out what had gone wrong. Thankfully it was fixable; it's amazing how much we use the Internet for.
Best wishes and lots of happy stitches!

Monday, January 5, 2009


We have spent the day taking down Christmas decorations inside. Still can't get to the lights outside so they'll have to stay up until the thaw. Sent the boys out to shovel the driveway and instead they had fun burying their little brothers. You can see how much snow we have and how little space there is to pile it up.

I did manage to get a simple gift for my niece completed. Hopefully she'll like it! It's a chenille blanket with 'Jane's butterflies on the other side. I have also made a little jumper and hat to match; I'll get pictures of that up soon.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

a little dream...

Okay, so it's still snowing and i must be going just a wee bit insane. We have friends coming for dinner tonight and forunately they'll be able to walk down.

I have been wondering (dreaming) about this new thing for quilters coming out. The Husquavarna 18/8 machine, a quilt frame and a neat thing called a Qbot. I have seen all the pretty pictures and it looks so fun. I am sure I don't have the money or the room for it but a girl can dream can't she? Does anyone know what these will be selling for in Canada? Has anyone played with one? What did you think? Does anyone else want one like me? I know it's not a longarm but how does it compare to one?

Friday, January 2, 2009

More Snow...more time to sew...

The snow just won't stop. It was a beautiful day and I did manage a slow hike with a good friend and the use of some 'yaktracks'. It's pretty icy on the trails and there are many deep sections. It takes twice the time to do the normal hike with the dogs. They seem to love it though and romp on and off of the high drifts. Best to enjoy it now, we are due for the usual rain in a couple of days and everything will be grey and slushy.

Here is another quilt recently finished. This one is for me and the first one I have ever made for myself. I made it during a retreat and it was a mystery. All we were told was to pick four fabrics with two in a light value and two in a dark value. We did get to do all the precutting beforehand, which made the actual sewing go so much faster. I am not really a rose person but this fabric from Japanese manufacturer Lecien called Antique Rose was really appealing.

This quilt was also my first longarm quilted and it turned out fantastic. It was done by a lovely lady in Saskatchewan called Monika. She is so talented. I don't think I will ever struggle with a quilt on my machine again :o). (at least not the big ones) Monika has a shop on Etsy where she sells her own quilts and also offers information about her longarm service Have a peek, she is fantastic!

I am readying another quilt to send to her shortly. Ironically it is also a floral theme. It's huge though - 82" x 82". I am so glad it won't be quilted by me!

Here are two pics of that quilt before I send it out. (still debating the backing fabric)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year...

Happy New Year to all! More snow last night! I can't remember this much snow (except for last year but that wasn't as much as this year). I feel like I am living in the most northern part of BC. The west coast of BC rarely has weather like this and yet here we are; with more to come in the following week. I must admit I feel like a house-hostage. Much sewing is being done and it's fun to be a domestic diva, but I really miss a simple walk on the trails--the snow, although doable is making that a bit treacherous!

I refinished the binding on my youngest DS's quilts. These were made five years ago when they were just small guys. The binding I used was an inexpensive flannel and I regretted it. I pulled it all off and reattached a cotton Clothworks binding from Laurel Burch. Oh my, it's so vibrant and lovely and of fabulous quality. These quilts have been so well used and loved and the binding makes them look brand new! It's all flannel (great quality) on the front and I used a wide cotton fabric for the back. I still love these bright and funky kids fabrics, but my children are too old for these now! I may have to put together some kits for my Etsy store. I still have some of the fabrics and they would be so cheery to work with now.

Here is one... and the other...

and two shy guys with their quilts...

and finally the backing (which I love) It launders so well - and has really added support to these quilts.

... oh well, time to go shovel....

Happy 2009!