Sunday, October 6, 2019

Bling Bling Applique

This four block applique pattern, available here, has roamed around my mind since the late 2000's. I think I got the first look at it about 2009 and had a small photo of it on my desk top. I knew one day I would make it, and Wendy Whellem from Legend and Lace generously sent me that photo before it became a BOM in Quilters Companion in Australia.  What drew me to this piece was her colors; the cheddar border, the black and white striped sashing fabrics. It just sung to me.

I started these blocks Oct 30, 2018. Back basting is my preferred method for needle turn applique and I wanted a travel project for our annual trip to Hawaii. This was it! The blocks were finally finished last week. Having a 20 1/2" square ruler made trimming these blocks a snap. It's a ruler I don't use often, but when I need it, it proves it was worth every penny I paid for it.

Instead of sashing, I thought a row of 1/2 sq triangles might make a nice bright border treatment.  After putting a few up beside the big blocks I quickly switched to two rows and started making my 1/2 sq triangles.  It I could do proper math, I would have made 276 but instead I was pulling fabrics two more times to get the right number!

I started trimming my blocks to 2 1/2" squares and piling them by color.  This way I could spread out the prints/colors to get a nice balance.

And I continued trimming.  This may seem tedious to some, but when I put together my Broken Dishes blocks, and all the seams lined up, I was reminded how taking time in all aspects of the piecing process results in GOOD results.

Many may see borders of pinwheels but if you start in the corner, you will see it's Broken Dishes. 

Spreading out the yellows and blues was important, as these were the two colors that were used the least.  By using prints from the appliques, it keeps the eye moving around.

Making sure my center lines up and I have enough pieces to create each row of the sashing.

Testing the full border and I was so glad I went with a double row of 1/2 sq triangles.  A single row just seemed to wimpy for these big, full appliqued flower pots.  I did take liberties with the applique, birds were added to one block, circles around flowers made their way into my piece, and some shapes were eliminated. ( Thanks Gwen!)  That's the beauty of quilting, you can take any pattern and make it your own.

It took 6 uninterrupted hours to piece together all the blocks for the borders.  I had a plan, stuck to it and am so thrilled with the final results.  I've got a ream of fabric ready to press, cut and sew into a backing and once my next customer quilt is off the longarm, this one will get basted for hand quilting. 
Almost 1 year to complete the applique
Background is French Vanilla by RJR Fabrics (my favorite)
Prints are 1800's reproductions from my stash.
Appliqued blocks are 20" finished
1/2 sq triangles unfinished 2 1/2"  (276 of them)
Broken Dishes blocks 4 1/2" unfinished.
Back basted needle turn for applique. 
Finished piece 52" x 52"
Hand quilting will outline appliques and cross hatch will extend into border
Binding will be background fabric

What piece is on your bucket list?  What's stopping you from starting?
Keep stitching,

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


Just getting photos onto my blog page today can be called progress.  Some days technology can be a bit of a pain.  This year I've made a committed effort to move projects forward or get rid of them.  Opening boxes and bags has brought a few surprises, this being one of them.

Playing with a couple of FQ from an old Amy Butler collection resulted in a few star blocks being stitched up and abandoned, along with a few "coordinates".  I looked at the contents, pulled out the solids as they are timeless and prepared to donate the balance.
And then I started to play. 
Making random blocks and trying them all out gave promise that I could make something good out of these two FQ's and the remaining polka dots from quilts I made in 2006

Flying geese, a zig zag section, a wonky rectangle, I started to see promise.
My seam ripper was put to good use, as I stitched and unstitched sections of FG over and over and over.......
By adding in a bit of checker board, a few more strips of strips, and keeping track of measurements as I committed to sections, I could see some possibilities.

The final layout.  This is the third in a series of quilts I've been working on.  There are a few more "in process" but I'll wait to show them another time.

During the last few weeks, I've been moving my finished quilts to a new location.  I've had to clean out a closet and my quilt storage room.  Yes, things got real.  I completed 10 backs, and here are a few of them.  I am feeling like the Cobbler whose kids have no shoes, except I'm the quilter!

Life is good!
Keep stitching,

Friday, June 7, 2019

Coming Up for Air

YES, I'm still quilting, YES, I'm still taking on customer quilts. YES, I'm still available for trunk shows and teaching, but..........

The universe has a way of keeping us on our toes. This spring my phone rang, it was a woman I've known for many years.  We've worked together, I've worked for her.  Out of the blue, an opportunity came my way and it has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.  Because of this phone call, I've dipped my feet in the Sea of Thailand.

I gathered with others in the early hour of a new day in Hau Hin

I've captured the sunrise of the new day.

 I met an amazing woman who has created beautiful things in Thailand.

You can experience her daily life by staying at her Bed and Breakfast.

I toured a temple in Bangkok.  Wad Po

I experienced all this during a heat wave in Thailand.

Quilting motifs everywhere.

And to add to all this excitement, I've been on TV!

I'm working with my friend as a brand ambassador for an amazing collection of jewelry called Zsiska.  I'll be flying back to Toronto for a summer show on July 30th.  You can catch me on cable tv in Canada on Todays Shopping Choice and in the US it is available at 

All this because back in 1992 I was a 3 line ad in the Vancouver Sun under the Help Wanted column.  You never know what tomorrow will bring, keep an open mind and a current passport handy!

p.s.  Since coming home, I spent 45 hours quilting ONE quilt.  The biggest job since getting my longarm.  It's under wraps but I will be able to share photos this fall.  My quilting line up is about 3 weeks out, so if you have tops that need to become quilts, please consider my services!

Keep stitching,

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Green Tea and Sweet Beans

I'm just going to let the photos tell this story. This is a customer quilt. Her version of Jen Kingwells Green Tea and Sweet Beans. KB wanted lots of quilting, stitch in the ditch and bubbles/swirls behind the applique. She gave me free reign to work on her beautiful quilt top.

I kept the narrow border pretty simple, and used a very light pink thread all over the top except behind the appliques.

The sun peeking in the window.  I couldn't resist finding a few places for feathers.

Back and forth stitching pushes up the center piecing on these twister blocks.  Hobbs wool helps with the relief.

Super simple flowers, and yet they work!

The other place that got a few feathers.  I think this block might have been paper pieced.  Oh those perfect circles that are hand appliqued!

Little hexi's got 1/4" outline stitching.  This was a small section of the quilt so the stop/start wasn't too much.  I certainly wouldn't want to do a whole quilt like this.

So many great fabrics were used in this top.  Oh to have a stash this bright.

Some simple squares scattered throughout make for a bit of easy piecing.

That's all, thanks for viewing.  I love sharing my customer work.  I would never ever make something like this.  I think I have a handful of fabrics that are in this range.  However, I LOVE working on quilts like this, and I certainly enjoy seeing all the mix up of bright prints and colors in other peoples quilts. 
Keep stitching,

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Retreat Sewing

The stitch group that I belong to meets once a month. Every three months we book a work room for three days, make hotel reservations, and pack up our sewing rooms and head south. Although our group started out as applique, we work on all kinds of projects at our retreats. Here are a few things that I managed to capture.
V had her penguins all in a row, and S had started on this Chain pattern. She did finish it, but I didn't catch a photo of that.  But I managed to acquire a strip of this green for a future project that is in a box right now.

JH was busy with a Betsy Chutchian pattern on the left.  Small precise piecing and fabulous 1800's prints.  CO was working with indigos and shirtings.  These blocks are from the Hope's Journey book by Betsy Chutchian.

V was also working on Christmas Tree skirts.  She started making these in Mid January, retreat days were in early February and I think she has about 14 finished already.  Talk about motivated.  They are all different and she has sourced out so many ideas from stacks of patterns and each skirt is unique.  She used lots of Buttermilk Basin patterns, she had a huge stack of them to work from.

Next up is my Just Takes 2 which I have blogged about already.  As of today, I've got 5 more blocks made and tucked back into the bin holding these blocks.  I will finish this one, just not yet.  This is the best thing about the room we book.  It has massive design walls and we each have our own table.  Well, I took the end seat and had 2 tables to work with!

On the left, EPP in progress.  MN is a machine when it comes to this.  Lucy Boston is the pattern and the grey setting color really makes this shine.  Those pops of coral, the Pantone color of the year, also add a surprise to the piece.  CD, on the right was busy with her Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt.  Looking great in these bright colors.  C decided to make hers smaller than the pattern, but with all the piecing in Bonnie's pattern, even at a smaller size, it's still going to be heavy!  Now for the borders.

JB was busy with a binding, but once she tackled that, she pulled out her blocks and got busy with this project.  Love the heart block, and note how small it is.  I think those small ones finish at 2"?

Here is JH with her top together.  I believe she even got the border on, but again, I missed that photo op.  On the right is one of mine.  It was the last box that I opened up at retreat.  It is a 49 patch block, I need 81 blocks, and I didn't strip piece ANY of this.  I spent the last morning sorting my strips on the design wall, making sure I didn't have multiples of obvious prints in a block.  All bundles have 7 strips with 7 squares.  Now to stitch them into blocks.  Again, this is a long term project that started due to a mistake using an Accucutter.  I had stacks of 2" blocks that needed to be 2 1/2" and that was what started me down this rabbit hole.  I know it will be amazing when finished, I just don't know when that will be.  Hopefully the binding will be on this one by Dec 24, 2019.  That's my goal.

There were many other projects that hit the design wall, got blocks added, or re arranged, and I just couldn't keep up with all the goodness in the room. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this is the BEST group of people that I get to stitch with. They are so positive, creative, encouraging, talented, sharing and just the best to stitch with.

I hope you all have a "tribe" of stitchers.
Keep stitching,