Friday, May 1, 2015

Against the Grain

Meet Against the Grain! My quilt made as a test quilter for Sherry Lynn Wood's newly released book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. 

I realised when I went to write this post I hadn't taken any good photos of it! I guess because I knew I couldn't share it I hadn't bothered! So down to the beach we went. I absolutely love how this quilt turned out. And I am beyond thrilled it made it into Sherri Lynn Wood's book. I have to admit though, there were times I absolutely loathed it. 

Improvisation speaks to me. It calls my name. I seem incapable of(or unwilling to?) follow someone else's pattern. I don't want what I make to turn out like someone else's. I remember how freeing it felt the first time I found Daintytime. Sherry Lynn Wood became one of my first quilting inspirations. It was so exciting to learn she was writing a book. I almost didn't sign up to be a test quilter though, as I had at the time only completed 3 quilts. I felt wholly unqualified and was unsure if she'd want someone as inexperienced as me to sign up. In the end I went for it, I figured maybe it would be good to see if beginners could handle her scores, her techniques. 

I was so excited to get my score and instructions. The instructions were very brief, I read them over and over again. I didn't start right away but let things simmer in my brain for awhile. I kept questioning certain instructions "did she mean this....or this??" or "does she want us to do this..or this?". Within each group there was a forum for us to ask questions and have some discussion. I finally went with the intention of asking for clarification and found many others had already asked similar things. I loved how Sherri Lynn mostly said "yes". She affirmed that our interpretation of her instructions were all correct. That was the point, she gave us a starting point and a way in which to start building. The rest was up to us. It wasn't until I let go of what she or the book publishers might want and went completely with how I felt did I feel free to start.

  With the Floating Squares score there is a very basic start, very simply instructions. Then some suggestions on ways you could expand that if you wished. Although I knew in my brain that it was unlikely someone else was going to produce something similar to mine with so much open ended instruction, the rebel inside me still needed to be satisfied. I couldn't do just the basic technique. I had to do the basic technique 6 times switching up the fabric as I went. I had no idea what my finished product was going to look like so I tried to ensure some cohesiveness by keeping one fabric the same during each round. 

Sewing the blocks was so much fun. I really enjoyed just sewing as I went. The blocks all ended up different shapes and sizes and I didn't worry about it at all until I decided I was done making blocks. I got stuck at this point for awhile. It felt like I had a zillion puzzle pieces that didn't fit together, and I didn't have a final picture to work from. I tried so many different variations. From completely random to linear and everything in between. I spent so many nights standing on my couch looking at my "design floor". It was at this point I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew. 

Once I decided on a layout(phew!) I moved onto the task of fitting all the blocks together. To try to keep with the cohesiveness I used the same fabric that was common to all the blocks to join the blocks together. There was a lot of adding bits and taking away bits to make it work. Sometimes I felt really restricted by the deadline, I don't like to work under pressure. But in the end I was grateful for it because there were so many times I was frustrated and had to step away for a day. If I hadn't had the deadline I may have stepped away indefinitely and who knows if I'd be finished now? 


Once the top was done it asked me to be spiral quilted. I complied. On my tiny machine I spiralled round and round and round. Which looking back was completely insane as I had never spiral quilted anything previously. And this quilt is approximately 6' square. It's certainly not perfect. Or maybe it's perfectly imperfect :) Sanity is over-rated any ways right?

 For me the book has lived up to expectations. It's absolutely stunning, so many beautiful quilts! There are so many things I'm excited to try. One day I hope I'm lucky enough to take a class with Sherri Lynn, until then I'm thrilled to have this book encouraging me to move onwards and try something new! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I may not be at QuiltCon but....

Hello world. Waves! It's been a long time since my lovely blog saw any action. No time like the present to remedy that. I have exciting news! I think it may have been the inability to share said exciting news that caused me to be silent. I'm not good with secrets! They drive me a little bonkers :) :) :) A long long long time ago(or at least it feels that way) Sherri Lynn Wood announced she was writing a book.

I may have squeed a little(or a lot) as she was and is a huge inspiration to me. I have an inability to follow a pattern, or rather a complete lack of desire to follow a pattern, and Sherri Lynn was one of the first I found encouraging me think outside the box and just do what I wanted. I found her quilts and blog so refreshing.

 When she announced she needed test quilters I was excited, and not. I almost didn't apply as I was so new to quilting and had only completed a few quilts. I wasn't sure I would be up to the challenge or if she would want such newbies to be part of the testing. In the end I decided a new quilters perspective might be an asset and applied to be a tester. I was thrilled and full of anticipation when I was assigned a score(there are no patterns rather scores, which are more like guidelines) to test. To make a long story short, I did indeed finish a quilt and submit it.

 Much to my surprise and excitement my quilt was chosen to be in the book! My fourth finished quilt EVER(at that point) was going to be published! I packed it up and sent it on a trip to California to be photographed still not really believing what was happening. And have continued to live in a state of anticipation and disbelief that it was real. I was waiting to hold a copy in my hands and SEE my quilt in it to really believe it was true.

That's mine top Left :) :) :)

While I still haven't held a copy in my hand as I wasn't able to make it to QuiltCon this year I have fabulous friend who IS there and was a fan girl by proxy and sent me some lovely photos and now, finally, it seems real. I'm crazy excited! I'm going to do another post once the book is officially released more about my process and my reflections of the book but was too excited not to post something!

Holly got one signed for me!

Um hello some of my favourite things all together! Love!

The Improv Handbook for Modern quilters is available for pre-order(realease date is March 17). Here in Canada, or here in The USA. If you do pre-order or buy one at QuiltCon there is a pre-order give-away you can enter here. I've been stalking QuiltCon like crazy.

Anyone else at home stalking Austin on IG? There is SO much absolutely beautiful quilty inspiration there. One of my favourites is by the wonderful Holly of Holly's red bike. Whom I am blessed to call friend in real life. Isn't it great?

Holly's Mini "Memories of QuiltCon" That is hanging in the show. Photo by  lovequiltingmag.

I'm not sure if you can read that but that's me and my blog in the credits. Yup, I really needed to update my blog!

Stay tuned for another blog about my experience in March!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Second Quilt Finish

I keep talking and thinking about wanting to start writing again on my poor neglected blog. Yet not doing it. No time like the present :)

My second ever quilt finish was actually started well before my first quilt finish. We received fabric from the Madrona Road fabric line by Violet Craft as a challenge through the MQG. It was handed out in Dec 2012 at the VMQG meeting.

I didn't start working on in until Jan, after the crazy holiday season was over. I decided to make a quilt for my nephew who has many health issues and I figured could use some home made love to cuddle in. Sometimes when you feel helpless about a situation, you make a quilt!

I couldn't decide which photos to add so lucky you get to see them all. The light was prettier in the ones above but the ones below are truer to colour.

The quilt top was done in February 2013(I think?), but then I got scared of the actual quilting process. Being that I'd never actually quilted before!

Then once I got it quilted, and discovered that quilting isn't quite so scary! I got scared of doing binding. So much fear for no reason! I have discovered....dun dun dun...That I actually like hand binding. Something I had not anticipated at all!

My inspiration for the design of this Quilt came from the "Stepping-Stones Quilt" in Quilting Modern by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pedersen. I didn't follow their directions but just winged it. As I'm learning seems to be my style. I have found I have an inability to use someone else's pattern. No, not an inability, rather no desire what-so-ever to make something exactly as someone else has or may make.

So my plan is to get caught up-ish on my projects over the next few posts. It shouldn't take long as I seem to have a rather slow rate of progress. And my most recent finish can't be shown any ways(that's killing me).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Needle Book Swap Cuteness

Alternate titles could have been, "Look! I paper pieced again!" Or "Yay me! I finally cut into a favourite fabric!" Or "Nope, I'm not dead, blogging just eluded be for awhile." Ahem.

I was very excited about this tiny finish so I thought I would share. The Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild is doing a needle book swap with The London Modern Quilt Guild. An international swap! Oh la la!

The night the swap was announced I won a free download of Christina's(The Sometimes Crafter) needle book pattern. I took that as a sign and used it. It's so super cute. Thanks Christina! :)

I really enjoyed this project and it reminded me that I should do more small things. There is something so satisfying about quick finishes.

I hope whoever receives it enjoys it. I can't wait to see what arrives from London!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My pledge to finish all the things!

No not really. That would be crazy. I have decided though to join in the 4th quarter of the 2013 Finish along going on over at She can quilt. My friend Holly participated last quarter and finished some great projects and as I need to finish some things up(don't we all?) I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon while I could.

Then the decision. Which projects to actually pledge to finish in the next 3 months? You know, arguably the busiest time of year. One of the busiest for me anyways.
Here's what I decided on.

1. Penguin Pillow, I started this almost a year ago and it has sat prettily on my wall since then waiting to be finished. It should be done before this Christmas right?

2. Christmas quilt, this was an unplanned, on a whim, start a couple weeks ago. I finished the blocks in a frenzy of activity and then it's been sitting. I don't want it to stay sitting for a year like the penguin pillow.

3. Needle book, This is for a swap, I finished the front a few weeks ago, I just need to finish it up or I won't be able to send it off!

4. Sam's quilt, My kids were next on the list for receiving quilts, and Sam had picked out a half square triangle design. Then the VMQG announced the Cotton Couture Challenge and I thought GREAT! I'll combine the 2. And cut 252 squares to be made into 252 HSTs. How many are now HSTs? 4. I have a ways to go! Go Michelle go!

So to re-cap:

1. Penguin Pillow
2. Christmas Quilt
3.Needle book
4. Sam's Quilt

And I'd better stop there. Is this realistic? I'm not sure. But I'm going to give it a good

Saturday, October 5, 2013

My first finish

Do you know how long it's been since I've blogged? No, don't go look back at dates. I'm not talking  time wise, it's more important that that! It's quilt time. In quilt time I haven’t blogged in 3 quilts time. Since I've blogged I've finished(quilted, bound, labelled, everything!) 3, yes THREE, quilts! I should probably add here that I have only ever finished 3 quilts :)

I believe I can now officially call myself a quilter. I'm a quilter. Yay!

And funnily enough my first finish wasn't my first start, nor what I expected.

In May I suddenly decided to make a quilt for my Grandpa. He's ageing very quickly and lives in Alberta so I don't get to see him very often. We were going to road trip out there and I wanted to leave something of me there with him.

 The front

I had only a month or a bit over until we were leaving so it had to be something quick and simple to make sure I would be able to finish it in time. And I decided to pick fabrics entirely from my stash. Oy. Picking fabrics for others can be tricky!

 The back.

Grandpa with his quilt. Which I perhaps a little uncreatively named "Grandpa's Quilt".

 The kids had a surprise from Grandpa too. His care home had a wood shop and when he was doing well he made these absolutely beautiful gifts for his great grandchildren. They loved them. I love that they have something concrete to associate with him as we don't see him often.

All of us together. Payton has a beautifully painted birdhouse, Sam a dog piggy bank, and Theron a stool. Absolutely priceless gifts.

As those of you with kids know June, end of the school year, is crazy busy. And there were moments that I though I was crazy. But I got it done! With even enough time to show it at the June VMQG meeting. Which was nerve wreaking as I don't like to be the center of attention. But I did it! And now that I've shown 3 times it's no big deal :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

To Boston With Love

In response to the events in Boston, VMQG has started a project to unite crafters worldwide and send our love and support to those affected. From the VMQG website:  "What we’re planning is a public exhibition of flags strung into banners that will be displayed in Boston..."

There are now many many other quilt guilds from all over the world joining us and I've seen flags popping up all over the internet. This is an awesome project and a flag could be completed in an afternoon. I'm so excited to see the vision unfold!

Interested in making a flag?? You don't have to be a member of a guild, anyone can participate.

 For all the details(and a much more eloquently written post) visit the VMQG  here.
A list of flag making tutorials and inspiration has been compiled here.

Now go forth and SEW!