Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I'm Waiting on a Sale-a-Bration

I buy fabric.  Not just a little fabric, but a lot.  I will post a picture of my stash(es) soon, but right now I wanted to let you know that I'd like to buy more fabric.  Does this surprise you?  It shouldn't.  There is a fabulous Canadian online fabric store that I tend to shop at called Mad About Patchwork.  I know the owner, Pam, from work with our local modern quilt guild and I am more than lucky to live close enough to shop her collection in person.  Jealous?

This week, Pam will be having a sale if her Facebook page reaches 1500 "Likes."  I would really like to buy some fabric, but not just fabric, SALE fabric.  Have you "Liked" Mad About Patchwork's Facebook page yet?

I'm hoping you have, and if not, you should so you don't miss out on the upcoming sale-a-bration. :)



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stars Shimmer Quilt Block Tutorial

I'm not a girl to sew with solids.  I like my prints.  Love them, actually.  Until recently, the only solid in my stash was white.  All that changed though, when I discovered Shot Cottons.  What's that you say?  They're not a solid because the weave and the weft are different?  Well, that's as close to a solid as I'm gonna get.  

This morning, I cut into this lovely bundle I put together for Mad About Patchwork and stars shimmered.  Literally.

The sheen and sparkle in these colours brought stars to mind, and that is what they became.

First, I raided my kitchen for my freezer paper.  I'm not sure why it's in the kitchen.  I never use it for any kitchen or food related purposes.  I cut a piece to 16" x 16" using my rotary cutter and ruler.  You can choose to make your block larger or smaller.  But now is the time to decide on size.

Next, I placed a dot in the centre of the paper on the matte side.  You can place yours off-centre if you'd like your star to be a little more wonky.

Once my dot was in place, I drew one intersecting line across the paper and through the dot.

My next step was to continue drawing radiating lines out from the centre.  In this step, it doesn't matter if the lines cross right through the dot from one side of the paper to the other.  I chose to start at the dot and work my way out so the lines don't look too uniform.  As long as you have the one intersecting line in the previous step, your block will sew together quite easily.

After I had all of my sections set out on the freezer paper, I labeled each section: those on the right side of my intersecting line with the letter "A" and a number, and those on the left with the letter "B" and a number.  In the end, you will be joining "A" and "B" together, so it's important to differentiate between these two sides now.

Next, I cut along each line to separate each labelled section.

I then randomly chose fabrics for each section, placed the freezer paper template on top and cut my chosen fabrics.  I was sure to leave extra fabric around the edges for seam allowance.  I later trimmed any extra fabric down to 1/4" seam allowance.

Once I had all of my pieces cut out, I ironed each freezer paper section to its corresponding piece of fabric with my iron set to high and steam.  You want the freezer paper to form a temporary bond to the fabric.

After I had ironed all of the freezer paper sections to the fabric, I used my ruler and trimmed any extra fabric beyond the freezer paper to a 1/4" seam allowance.

I layed out all of my sections following the letters and numbers labelled on each one and began sewing the sections together with right sides facing.

I started with all of the "A" sections and went in numerical order.  I then repeated the same process with the "B" sections. This left me with the initial two halves of the freezer paper created by the first intersecting line.

I removed the freezer paper, pressed the seams flat and then trimmed the excess from the centre of the "A" section and "B" section where all of the points meet.

I sewed the "A" and "B" sections together, pressed open the final seam and trimmed my block to size.  A shimmering star was born!


Even the scraps are pretty.  Too pretty to throw out.  Any suggestions on what to do with them?

Monday, February 17, 2014

When the Weather is Cold, You Warm Hearts

I'm not sure how much longer this winter is going to last, but I do remember having quite the ice and snow storm here in April of last year.  I've got Spring on the mind, but I'm not getting my hopes up.  Instead, I'll hope these frigid -25 degree Celsius days turn into days where the temperature hovers around zero and I'll continue to find joy in the little things: warm drinks, cozy quilts, falling snow and kiddie cuddles.

And to pass along some joy to you, whether you're hunkered down in hibernation mode much like myself, sweating in the hot sun or lingering in a land between these extremes, my high school friend Cari of Dugans in Cahoots and I are doing a giveaway over on her blog.  

Be sure to check it out, there is $75 worth of Waffle Kisses swag up for grabs.  And for the love of freezing fingers and hand-knit mittens, keep warm!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Confessions of a Homebody

I take pleasure in the small, simple things in life: hot drinks, cozy quilts, kids cuddled up on my lap, movies on the couch and Sunday morning breakfasts.

You’re very unlikely to find me in a club and more likely to find me huddled around a cafe table with some girlfriends, or better yet, in deep conversation with said girlfriends over coffee, wine and snacks at my place.  On my couch.  In front of the fireplace. 

Yup.  That’s me.  I’m a homebody.

And with the cold, Arctic air, this so-called “polar vortex,” I’m not just a homebody, I’m a hibernating homebody.

Oxforddictionaries.com defines a homebody as a person who likes to stay at home, especially one who is perceived as unadventurous.

Well, you already know I like to stay at home, and I for one can tell you that the idea of bungee jumping, hang gliding or riding a hot air balloon is not appealing to me.  I have no desire to be put in a huge basket and drifted up into the atmosphere with only a balloon blurring the line between life and death.  Nope.  Not really adventurous.  But I’m okay with that.  I’ve been learning to embrace me for me and not who people think I should be.

And so, in that spirit (and the spirit of comfy slippers, hot tea and artistic endeavours), I’ve been pinning my heart out on Pinterest with ideas of how I can sustainably make a life for myself working from home.  Hint: this might include a re-purposed shipping container.

After writing my post about feeling like Meg Ryan, I made a mental list of a few of my favourite movies, which include You’ve Got Mail, Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated.  All films feature leading female characters who pursue their passions via their careers.

And that’s what I want to do.  I want to make a career for myself out of my passions.  I don’t want to be something else.  I want to be me and do what I love. 

I’ve got big plans, which include applying for a Master’s program, making a go of the handmade business and getting back to my painting roots.

All of which I hope to do from the comfort of my own home, right in my own backyard.

Or from the odd cafe.  Sometimes a girl needs a walk and a coffee.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I have a confession to make:  I have never made a pillow cover.  Not ever.  I guess you could even say that I'm a pillow cover virgin. But, there's a first for everything.  And I've always been of the mindset that you should "go big or go home."  It's for that exact reason that whenever I go to an amusement park, I always do the biggest, baddest roller coaster first.  Once you've done that, all of the other ones seem like a kiddy ride in comparison.

I was at my friend Pam's a couple of weeks ago, doing some shopping and choosing some fabrics for our weekly curated bundles, when I put these fabrics together for our latest bundle, Glitter and Gold.  We were so excited about this combination that we felt a contest was in order.  Who wouldn't want to win these?  I had to have a bundle of my own, so Pam packed me up some fat eighths and sent me on my way.  Only there was a catch.  I had to make something.

I poured over Pinterest and this perfect pillow tutorial by Cori of Let's Eat Grandpa caught my eye.  Yes. That was it.  These fabrics were destined to become this pillow.  I've never done quilt-as-you-go before, so it was quite the feat.  I'm not sure I like it more than regular quilting, but that is yet to be determined.  Maybe I just need more practice.

I have yet to put the backing fabric for the pocket section on, but I just couldn't wait to share my accomplishment with you. 


Do you know what you'd make with these fabrics?  Want a chance to win your very own fat eighth bundle of Glitter and Gold?  Head to Mad About Patchwork's blog and tell us your idea.  It's that easy.  Easier even than sewing this pillow cover...


Monday, February 3, 2014


This quilt is going to be fantastic.  This quilt is going to be fabulous.  This quilt is going to be...slow.

I'm taking a cue from Anna Maria Horner and attempting my own version of her gathering flowers quilt.  I stumbled across her scrappy version one day and had to have one of my own.  Even if it meant making it myself.  

So I set to work.  Ordered the pattern and bought the fabric (Dowry, True Colors and a bit of Innocent Crush already in my stash) at Mad About Patchwork and began tracing and cutting out pattern pieces onto card stock.

This is where I'm at. 

Out of all of those pieces up on my design wall, I have one quarter of a block actually sewn together.  Bravo, Laura.  Bravo.

The process is slow.  Partly because I don't have a lot of spare time to work on my own wish list.  Partly because the curved piecing is a bit tedious.  But the end result will be worth it.  I swear.

My goal for February is to sew four blocks together.  And I'm linking up with A Lovely Year of Finishes for some serious motivation (and accountability) to make this happen.  Wish me luck.  I'm gonna need it!



Saturday, February 1, 2014


Are you a fellow maker?  Have you ever done a craft show or possibly the whole circuit?  Packed up all of your handmade lovelies, driven long distances, set up your display, small-talked with customers, whiled away the day (or twiddled your thumbs), only to repack the remaining lovelies (which, if you’re lucky, won’t be many), count your pennies and head home to be with your friends and family and pass out on the couch?
I have.  And I do.  And I will continue to do so.  Why?  Well, because I’m a maker.  It’s who I am.  I don’t feel complete if I’m not exercising my creativity.  But that’s only part of it.  If I only wanted to make, I would sit at home and make gifts.  And of course I do make gifts.  For friends.  For family.  For the uber awesome people in my life.  But when I do a show, that gift becomes a product.  A product that I hope to sell and make a small profit on.  And when I say small, I do mean small. 

If you’re a crafter/artist/maker, you know just how small that profit really is.  If you’re not, but you’re a supporter of handmade, you’ve probably given it some thought and have an inkling of what kind of time and money goes into a handmade piece.  If you’re neither, and instead fall into the “I could buy that at So-and-So for two dollars,” then I encourage you to read on.

A recent blog post by Molli Sparkles over at SewMamaSew outlines just how much a little handmade baby quilt costs and touches on the subject of pricing.  When you buy something handmade, you are buying something original.  You are supporting local.  You are giving or keeping something special.  Something that has heart and soul.  In essence, you are changing the world.  Maybe just a little bit, but that little bit is better than nothing at all.  It’s still a change.

And so quite often I find myself feeling like Meg Ryan.  But not the Meg Ryan faking it while sitting across from Billy Crystal in a diner.  No.  Sorry to disappoint.  I’m talking about Meg Ryan, lover of children’s books, shop owner extraordinaire and unknown object of Tom Hank’s affection.  If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail, then you'll know that she’s the underdog, the owner of a local bookstore struggling to make it against the big bad Fox Books.  If you haven’t seen it.  Watch it.  I love it.  And if you don’t.  Maybe we shouldn’t be friends...

Every maker has their moment at a show when a “potential” customer walks up to the table and says something incredible.  Unimaginable.  My all-time favourite happened this year at the fall edition of Handmade Harvest (best show ever).  Me, a trilingual graduate with degrees in language translation, Spanish and teaching, stood at my table and listened to a francophone mother discuss the price of my cup sleeves with her daughter, en francais.  The daughter wanted to buy one.  The mother said, “Why? I can get the same thing somewhere else for $2.  The. Exact. Same. Thing.”  While I know that they couldn't get the "exact same thing" because the cost of my materials alone is more than two dollars, this continued at length while they touched every item on the table and ignored me.  Because they thought I couldn’t understand them.  But I could.  I speak French.  Fluently.  So the joke is on them.  They should actually be embarrassed.  If they read this, I hope they are.

Most of us makers are smarter than you think.  And that’s why we think about our pricing and try to be competitive, but also realistic, about the time, effort, process and materials that go into our final product.

Makers: don’t cut yourselves short.  Buyers: thank you.  Others: don’t make a fool of yourselves in public.

For a good laugh, check out “Sh*t Craft Show Shoppers Say,” put together by none other than the Handmade Harvest ladies themselves.  And then let me know which of these has happened to you.  For me, the list is endless.