Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beach Huts

I recently participated in a Doll Quilt Swap on Flickr. This is the first time that I have participated in this swap. Basically I get a secret partner and make her a mini quilt and in return, someone else makes me a mini quilt in secret. It is fun to find out information about what your partner likes and would want, and then make the perfect quilt for her.

The rules are fairly simple. It had to be between 9"x9" and 18"x18". It needed to have a least six pieced blocks and be a miniature version of a bed quilt, ie. no art quilts. And you have to send it on time, or you are not allowed to participate in future rounds.

I started out making something with a colour palette that I hadn't used before, but it just didn't seem to be calling out to be sent to my partner. So I tried again. I came up with this idea of using lots of fun, bright scraps and making beach huts. My partner lives in Florida, so I thought this would be perfect. I added a fun rainbow scrappy border and hand-quilted it with a variegated thread. I haven't really hand-quilted before, so it's a little puffy. I think that next time I would use a hoop to keep things a little more flat. It's not perfect, but I really like it and my partner loved it too! I sent her some scraps and a little notebook for extras. She received it last week. (I am still waiting for my little package to arrive!)

xo Nicole

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sixteen Again

I mentioned in a post recently that I will be teaching a couple of quilting classes in the fall. This is one of the quilts that I made for a sample. I wanted to do something fun and easy with solids that looks very striking.

I won't go into a lot of detail about how I made it, but it turns out to be a very nice lap size quilt, perfect for snuggling up with on the couch. I always like a nice big quilt to keep me warm in the winter.

I decided to quilt diagonal lines on it and used 5 different thread colours since I just couldn't decide on one. I actually really like how it looks! The binding is my extra bits of fabrics and I think it looks pretty cool. Hopefully some people will sign up for my class!

xo Nicole

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Preoccupied With Pigeons and Kitchens

Early this summer I noticed a pigeon start building a nest up near our roof line. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do to make her move somewhere else. She ended up laying eggs and then I couldn't bear to get rid of her. So I named her Pidgey-Lou. And her partner is Mr. Boo. He only came around from time to time, but the nest was really too small for both of them to be there together.

Pidgey-Lou had two babies and I watched her feed them from my sewing room window. They always got very excited when she came with food. One day I noticed that peeping was coming from below. I went downstairs and found that one of the babies was on our balcony. I guess he fell out of the nest. He had a broken leg, but managed somehow to get to his mama when she came with food. The next day, the other baby was on the balcony too.

They have pooped everywhere, but I love watching them, especially when Pidgey-Lou comes to feed them. They get all excited and flap their wings and peck her and are generally noisy. They fight each other too, to get at mama. (I named them Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum. Tweedle-dum was the one who fell out of the nest. He seems to be doing fine now, but has a limp). They enjoyed having our old kitchen cabinets on the balcony. I think it was like a playground to them. Sorry, we had to haul those things to the dump!

We began renovating our kitchen on August 7th. We are undertaking everything by ourselves and it is a little scary considering we haven't renovated anything before. Luckily things are going pretty smoothly so far. We ripped out all the old cabinetry and the super ugly backsplash.

We are keeping the tile floor but have to fill in the gaps where the old cupboards were so that the new cabinets have a nice level ground. It was pretty nasty on the wall behind the sink. I guess a lot of water leaked in over the 30-odd years the kitchen was in here.

We had to do a bit of wall repair where the old backsplash was ripped off, but we aren't professionals. It looks ok, but most of it will be covered with our new tile backsplash. It sure makes a lot of dust though!

We then primed over most of the wall to seal it. I bought a small can, but we used the whole thing. I'm sure that I could have bought a bigger can and done two coats, but I think it was good enough. At least I know how to paint! I tried to teach Nader how to do it, but he wasn't very confident in his abilities. I think it was fine.

I ended up doing the second coat of paint by myself while he was at work since I had time. We also left a message for anyone who will renovate the kitchen in another 30 years! It will be behind the new base cabinets. Now we are going to pick up the first load of cabinets and the test will be the installation. We need our plumber friend to come and help us deal with a couple of things before we can install the cabinet where the sink will go. I hope it all works out!

I haven't been sewing much in the last few days, but I do have a little project to show you soon.

xo Nicole

Monday, August 8, 2011

Something Exciting

Last month I received a phone call. It was from Katja, the owner of Katja's Quilt Shoppe, and she wanted to know if I was interested in teaching some quilting classes and working in her shop! Of course I said, "YES!"

I have been dreaming for the last year or two of teaching some quilting classes and wondering if that was something that was destined to only be a dream or if it was something that would come true one day. I didn't apply or ask if she was looking for anyone. She just called out of the blue. I was very flattered and humbled that she liked my work enough to ask me. What an honor. Thanks Katja!

I started working in the shoppe last week and will teach two classes in the fall. The picture above shows one of my quilts with the fabrics. I am nearly done my sample and then I will show you some pictures of it and tell of the angst involved...

xo Nicole

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bee Quilt

I finished up this quilt at the beginning of July and gifted it almost immediately. It went to some friends who were in need of some encouragement during a difficult period in their lives.

I made the quilt with some blocks from my two online quilting bees (Circuit Block Party and The Maple Leaf Bee) from 2010. My original vision of the quilt did not come to fruition due to blocks being a variety of sizes instead of 12.5". (One of my own star blocks was not included because it turned out to be 12".) So, I had to put on my creative thinking cap to come up with a solution to this problem. I had 5 star blocks and 10 improv blocks and my desire to have a quilt that was a decent lap size. I wanted it to be 5 by 5 blocks. The photo above shows what I was thinking at the beginning of this process.

I went to work making blocks. I made 4 improv blocks with lots of small pieces of leftover fabrics. (Those blocks are in the outside centers of the quilt in the photo above.) Then I wanted to make 4 more blocks that were keeping with the scrappiness of the quilt, but had some structure to them. I came across a photo on Flickr that had a block I loved, so I decided to make my 4 blocks with it.

In the end, this is the layout that I went with. I put the star blocks in center of the quilt and put my mosaic blocks in the corners with the improv blocks spaced in between everything. I wasn't really loving the results, but I had a quilt top anyway. I decided to make it a bit longer, but instead of doing more blocks, I added a top and bottom double border. I think that it really helped to tie everything together. (See first photo.)

I decided to just piece the back together out of leftover chunks of fabric. I think it turned out pretty good. The grey solid actually isn't the same as on the front, but I figured nobody would notice that.

We had a lovely day to take photos of the quilt and Nader's shirt even matched the quilt. He begged me to take the label off and give it to him instead. I guess I got him hooked on my quilts!

For the double borders I decided to try a new free motion quilting design. It shows up best in this photo of the back. The bigger circles were in the solid yellow border and the flowery design was in the larger print strip. They aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it was fun to try out a new design. I'll definitely do them again.

I decided to bind the quilt in the charcoal solid fabric and I love the way that it frames the quilt. To save time I machine sewed it and it looks really good! In the end, I am pleased with the quilt and I know that our friends love it so much. I hope they get lots of use out of it (now that it is in Australia!).

I have some other exciting news, but I will save it for a future post. I am running out of steam tonight!

xo Nicole