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Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Nosy Parker Answers

I've just stumbled across Diary of a Flutter.kat blog, which looks like a lot of fun.  She currently has a linky party called Nosy Parker in the Neighbourhood, in which she asks questions about our sewing history.  I'm happy to oblige.

1)  How long have you been sewing? Are you a first generation sewer or was the knowledge handed down to you? Basically tell us about your journey...

I started sewing (on the machine) at age 8.  I had been handstitching things I called doll clothes before that - with scraps from my mom's projects.  I think Mom decided it was time to get me actually doing something useful with my enthusiasm.

I came from a sewing tradition - my mom, her sisters and my grandmother all sewed.  I have an aunt who was 6ft 1.  You can imagine how impossible it was for her to find clothes that fit in the 40's and 50's.  She sewed all of her clothes until specialty stores for tall women opened in Canada.  We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up, and my mom was an expert at re-designing clothes out of hand me downs and thrift store finds.  However, she also purchased fabric to sew clothes for herself and us kids - believe it or not, back in the 60's it was a LOT cheaper to sew your own clothes.

My first project was a little green skirt and lined vest.  I don't have much memory of the actual sewing, and I suspect Mom did the hard bits.  But I do remember the outfit and how proud I was to wear it.

I progressed from there, sewing inset seams and zippers by the time I was 12.  As I got older, though, I became less pleased with my sewing.  I would choose a pattern I loved, and fabric I loved, and spend hours making the item - then find it didn't look as good on me as I had imagined.  My sewing waned a bit.

Having kids inspired me again, and I sewed LOTS of clothes for them.  I also did some home dec sewing, and was pleased with that.  But my daughter started school and decided she wanted to wear sweat pants every single day, and my son - well, boy's clothes are not as fun as pretty little dresses - and my home was all dec'd out, so again, my sewing waned.  Then, I wandered into a quilt shop and fell in love with quilts.

Now, my home needs new curtains, my hubby's pants need mending... but I only have time for quilts!  I've been quilting for 12 years, and I'm still loving it.  I'm not a fast quilter - only two or three a year - but it is a hobby I don't think I'll get tired of any time soon.

2)  Where do you sew?

When we finished our basement, about 10 years ago, my hubby made me a sewing room.  It is about 10 x 10 feet, and at the time, I thought that was huge!  Turns out it's not. But it's warm and bright and has everything I need in it, so I think it is perfect.

3) What does your sewing room/area look like today in it's real state. Take a picture of it if possible and show it to us real :)

I really, really planned on doing this.  I took the camera down to the room today, and noooooo!  It is just too messy.  So, here are some pictures from a few years ago when it was much tidier.  Just imagine a lot more fabric than you see, but don't imagine water bottles, magazines or dust, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what it looks like today.  Really!  No, quit imagining water bottles, magazines and dust - I tell you, there are none of those in my sewing room.

My hubby made the bookshelf.  His hobby is woodworking - and he approaches it like I approach quilting.  He doesn't produce a lot, but he loves doing it.  He promised me a bookshelf when we got married, and I think I got it at about the 15 year mark.  But, it was worth the wait.

This hutch was made by my BIL as a University graduation present - so it's about 27 years old.  It's got a big cupboard on the bottom.  That holds a lot of fabric.

To the right is my design wall.  My hubby made the holder at the top.  You can move the clips from side to side to hold whatever size of fabric you want.  I usually have my flannel table protector clipped on there - which is what I use as a design wall.  $10 or so at Walmart, and it works great.

The rainbow is a latch hook project I made back in... maybe 1981.  I still like it.  Rainbows are a sign of hope for me.  The bags down at the bottom hold projects.  I thought I was pretty clever at the time, buying 5 matching bags for my UFO's.  Who would ever need more than 5 UFO bags, right?  Well, I won't tell you how many bags I have stacked there now.  And not all matching, that's for sure.

4)  What is the first thing that you made which you were really proud of? Show us pics of your favourite project.

I can't show you the first thing I made that I was really proud of - that was way too long ago.

But I will show you my favourite project, which is a miniature quilt from a kit from Traditional Pastimes.  This was the first miniature - well, the only miniature I have made.  It is about 18 inches square.  I added the red inner border, as those blocks in the outer border turned out a titch too big.  I quilted it with gold thread (not metallic) and I was really pleased with how the quilting looked.

5)  Do you always stick to the "rules" when you sew, or are you more improvisationally minded?

No, I stick to the rules.  I really admire art quilts and improvisational quilts, but I'm really a pattern following kind of person.  I cook the same way - I almost always follow the recipe.  I'm sure many others would think that is incredibly boring, but to me it is calming and makes the process much more pleasurable.  If I was improvising, I would be stressed that it might not work, and that would not be fun for me.  Just the way I am.

Thanks for doing this Kat.  It's been thought provoking for me, and reading others' answers to the questions!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Slow Quilt Movement

Sandy, over at Quilting for the Rest of Us, had made a New Years Resolution to slow down and enjoy her quilting more.  She is posting weekly entries about Slow Quilting, the first being here

I'm happy to join this movement, as this seems to be the approach I have taken to quilting right from the start.  I don't quilt if I'm not in the mood.  I don't quilt for other people (with one exception - which I regretted) and I don't make quilts for gifts for Christmas, birthdays, etc.  That is not to say that I don't give away my quilts - but I make them first, then decide on the occasion for giving.  I did make a graduation quilt for my daughter, but didn't actually tell her it was for her graduation until it was done.  And, it was two years late!  Now I'm working on a grad quilt for my son, who graduated in 2000.

I'm home from work today, but not quilting.  Our furnace decided to quit - and it's -25 outside, so I'm waiting for the repair guy to make his emergency visit.  He doesn't seem to have the samesense of urgency that I do.  When I called, he said "We'll see what we can do."  Doesn't give you a lot of confidence, does it?  Luckily, we have two furnaces - one for the upstairs and one for the main floor / basement.  The upstairs one is still chugging away, so while it's chilly on the main floor, it isn't freezing.  But my sewing room is in the basement, and I'm afraid if I go down there, I won't hear the doorbell.

Oh - he's just arrived.  Here's hoping!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I finished the Freebie Fifteen companion block.  Here it is.
This is a 12 inch block.  Those little Snails Trails are 3 inches each.  The small squares in the middle are a half inch.  Pretty tiny - not much room for error.  So don't look too closely!  The other blocks had that template again - but it's working better now that I re-engineered the corners.

I'm really glad I signed up for this - each block has had its own challenges for me.  I feel like I'm really learning!

But, you're wondering - how are you coming along on the quilt you committed to finishing this quarter?  Well, as it turns out - I actually sewed some of those blocks together today!  I should have about half of the blocks together by tonight.

Friday, January 13, 2012

How's that Finish-A-Long Coming Colleen?

I've been very jealous of the people who have already finished some (or all) of the projects on their Finish-A-Longs.  I thought I had better report on my progress.

As you may recall, when I first posted, on New Years Day, I had finished all 64 blocks.

Here is what has happened since.

Jan 2:  Cleaned house.  Squared up some of the blocks.  Thought about going back to work Jan 3.
Jan 3:  Went to work.  You know how it is the first day back after some time off - it seems like that first day back will never end.  I was tired after work, so did not even visit sewing room.
Jan 4:  Worked.  Squared up some more blocks.
Jan 5:  Worked.  Realized that my Freebie Fifteen block was due soon, and decided to get started on that.
Jan 6:  Worked.  Did some more work on that FF block.  (Well, it did have a LOT of pieces).
Jan 7:  Finally finished the FF block.  See, it took me 3 days to do one block.  I am a very slow quilter!  Actually looked at the calendar for the first time and realized that the fifteenth of the month was a week away, so there was no rush to get this block done.
Jan 8:  Read the paper.  Went grocery shopping.  Had a nap.  Made supper.  Oh, and I managed to square up the remaining blocks.

Jan 9:  Worked.  Got distracted by the Freebie Fifteen companion block.  I know I don't have to complete this one by the fifteenth, but what the hey.
Jan 10:  Had a real excuse for not quilting today.  Did some volunteer work after my regular work day, and got home just a half hour before bedtime.
Jan 11:  That FF companion block is really challenging!
Jan 12:  Still challenging.
Jan 13:  Have been blog surfing since supper.  I'll finish up the FF companion block tonight.

And there you have it.  Two weeks and I haven't even sewn two of the blocks together!  Just in case anyone wondered why I only had one item on my Finish-A-Long list for this quarter...

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Log Cabin Lessons Learned

This is the latest of the Freebie Fifteen blocks from Traditional Pastimes.  It is the first time I have done a log cabin block.  The fact that each of the "logs" ended up 1/2 inch made it pretty challenging.

The two things I learned, which helped keep the block square:
1.  Cut your strip to length - don't just cut a long strip and whack it off to match the part you've sewn it to.
2.  After sewing on the strip, measure the width of the block, and trim the edge of the newly sewn strip as necessary to keep it accurate.  I took a thread's width off with these trimming (usually just on half the strip), but multiply that by the 20 strips across the block, and it could have resulted in a very wonky block.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Quilt Canada 2011 winner

Andrea Ratuski at CBC Manitoba has interviewed Heather Lair, one of the winners at the Quilt Canada 2011 show.

Andrea's article is here

Heather's site is here

Both contain photos of some gorgeous quilts!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Finish-A-Long Project for First Quarter

Rhonda, at Quilter in the Gap, is hosting a Finish-A-Long this year.  What is that, you say?  Well, go on over to Rhonda's blog and she will explain it.  All I will add is that there are some great prizes!

I thought a lot about what my goals would be for this quarter.  I applied the SMART approach.  For those that have never heard of SMART, each letter stands for something to use when setting goals.
S - specific.  The goal has to be clear, not vague.   When looking at it later, you have to know exactly what it was that you were to do, and when you can say that it was accomplished.  Rhonda has helped us with that - this is the FINISH-a-long, not the make some progress-a-long.
M - measurable.  It's not good to say "I will improve such and such".  How do you measure that?  You need to set a goal that gives you something clear to measure and then you know when you've done it.
A - achieveable.  Don't go over the moon with goals - pick something that you know you can achieve, and you'll be able to succeed.  At the same time, you want to challenge yourself.
R - realistic.  Goes with achieveable.
T - time sensitive - This goes with measureable.  You have to set a deadline for your goals.

This sounds straightforward, but I work with staff doing performance plans every year, and it's not as easy as you might think.

For Rhonda's first quarter, I decided to focus on "achieveable".  My goal will be to finish just this one quilt by the end of the quarter:
The blocks are all done. (There are only 16 in this picture - there are 64 altogether.)  I have to square them up, put borders on and quilt it.  I know, I know - many of you would have this done next week.  Well, I'm a slow quilter, and the quilting part is truly the hardest part for me.  I don't know yet how I'm going to quilt this, so that will take some time to decide.

Anyway, thank you Rhonda for hosting this.  I'm hoping it will help reduce my UFO numbers!