Friday, September 30, 2011

Two Hour Table Runner Part One

I love a fast and easy way to sew strips and make interesting blocks. This tutorial is a short demonstration of how we can make the process of block building in a modern, fast way.
This tutorial will help you step out of the box of traditional thinking about always having everything straight and even and time consuming.

This tutorial is just the beginning of using this technique to make fun bags, quilts, table runners and gifts of all kinds.

Step 1: Start with three fat quarters, don’t trim, just lay them on top of each other on a cutting mat.

Step 2: Using a long enough ruler to reach both sides of the fat quarters, make two off center kind of cuts in the way I’ve done in this photo. The secret to this technique is about going out of the box.


Step 3: From the first stack on your left, take the top piece and put it under the same stack. Then on the next stack, take the top two pieces and put them at the bottom of the pile. Leave the third stack intact.

Step 4: Sew the slices back together, press each seam and square off the pieced blocks.


Step 5: Sew the three pieced blocks together in whatever way you like. I chose to make the seams linear. You can turn them alternate too if you like.


Then machine quilt this as you desire. I made this long table runner from my stock of organic Cloud9 fabrics.


Pretty and simple, I made this quilted table runner in under two hours and took all the photo's!

Reverse side part 1

This simple tutorial is the first in a series of more tutorials on how to go far out of the box and laugh all the way to success in only minutes of your time compared to the cutting and arranging of most traditional block sewing that you might have started with in the beginning.


Next time, double cuts and then you’ll see the possibilities! If you like this technique please post it to your Facebook page or you own blog. Plus, I love to  see photos of projects done with this technique!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Organic Cotton

I worked for a long time in the public school system. I saw all sorts of children with mild to severe allergies, teachers with constant runny noses, always attributed to their allergies. Over the years, I began questioning the status quo on things like cotton. Why were alternatives being discussed? Why had the market for organic food grown to the point that even in our small town of 5-7,000 we have a health food store, 3 supermarkets that sell organic food, produce etc.
I found this link very interesting! I hope you do too!

Organic Cotton Solid Collection-Hazelnut, check out my other solids that I'm playing with here

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Women and Cloth +Recycled Textiles

On this past Sunday, women met at the Multiplex Centre in Moricetown to learn more about how to turn clothing into quilts. I arrived, set up and got busy as the women filed in with their gear!


 Charrine worked hard on her new bag, applique, pressing so carefully, measuring, all the things we do as designers. Her cape which I forgot to take photo of is gorgeous!

 Betty sizing up her new feasting  bag!

 Lucy, got right into it and began following my instructions so well, she was done by the end of the day. Making a sweater baby quilt in this manner is so fast, its incredible!

Lucy Gagnon, Band Manager was so kind and donated many new fabrics to blend with recycled clothing and donated the lovely conference room for the day. Thanks Lucy!

One man Todd Lace, joined us to learn how to make a custom drum bag. This was a first for any man to show up at any textile recycling workshop. I was real  happy to have Todd along for the day, he's a keen sewer!

Mabel was busy so much that broken needles and laughter erupted from this wonderful lady! What a treat to meet Lucy's Mom.

This day of textiles and recycling was sponsored by Kitimat-Stikine Regional District of Northwestern BC to promote improved recycling of all consumer items.

This group of learners were so warm and inviting to me! I thank you all for an awesome day!

This is my version of recycled sweater  baby quilt. Tutorial coming in 2013.

All the  best,


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Turning Clothing Into Quilts

Tomorrow, Sept 25th in Moricetown, a thriving Aboriginal community north of Smithers, I'm teaching a group of quilters and crafters who are interested in learning how to turn recycled sweaters into a  baby quilt. 

Show up at the Moricetown Thrift Store behind the Gas Bar in Moricetown at 9:30 Sunday morning so you have time to set up your sewing machine etc. Bring a bag lunch, we'll wrap up by 4-5 pm. Bring anything textile that you're dying to know how to recycle into something fun. This event is sponsored by the Kitimat-Stikine Regional District and the Eco-Prise Initiative to improve recycling of all consumables. This program is designed to enable interested and knowledgeable community members to submit funding proposals to them here.

Plus, if baby quilts are not your 'thing' then you can also learn how to make an awesome bag with lots of interesting recycled fabrics to be the fine diva of coming winter with an awesome bag!

This is just one version of how useful acrylic and cotton sweaters are to pull together a cute, warm girl friendly colors baby quilt. Participants are going to learn a bunch of things on how to turn clothing into quilts.

Is recycling easy to do? Is it just something you do? Did you learn it from your parents or siblings or teachers? Do you not recycle clothing? Tell me what you think about clothing recycling? Email me with photos of projects or events, I'd love to get a real picture of what's happening where you live and what you know about it?
email me here

For taking some time and emailing me your thoughts, ask me to send along this free workshop  pattern in my series of "recipes for recycling textiles"

Here are some things I've done with recycled textiles. Enjoy and please leave me a comment about anything you see or read.

Here I'm teaching myself how to do primitive rug hooking. Its coming along. I like to hook, but don't know anyone else who is rug hooking so I mutter along by myself.

Recycling textiles has been in my blood for quite sometime. Its been an interesting trip so far, to "find" just the right kind of colors almost free from garage sales, thrift stores, transfer stations and friends. This little quilt was one of the illustrations I did for a book I started writing almost a decade ago and never got around to publishing it.

And you know what is the best way to harvest awesome clothing to use for whatever your heart desires? Just put the word out there that you take clothing of certain kinds, like cottons, wools, silks, whatever turns your crank!

Its amazing, you are likely to get all sorts of awesome vintage clothing. If you are known for making awesome quilts, people are more than excited to drive a half hour to my home and drop it off to me.
Freedom to share goes around and what you aren't going to use, give away! Its a free economy of supplies that is just out of this world in Northern BC.

this lovely recently blogged about Dresden Plate Quilt top is about 60% recycled cotton!

Did you ever think that?

Is recycling textiles easy to do? Is it just something you do? Did you learn it from your parents or siblings or teachers? Do you not recycle clothing? Tell me what you think about clothing recycling? Email me with photos of projects or events, I'd love to get a real picture of what's happening where you live and what you know about it?
email me here

For taking some time and emailing me your thoughts, ask me to send along this free workshop  pattern in my series of "recipes for recycling textiles"

:) leave me a comment about anything you see or read or want to share?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stack and Whack Dresden Plate/Grandmother's Garden Quilt- The Whole Story!

I eluded to the length of time this quilt took to get done. I also eluded to the full story on its beginning, the technique and why it took so long to get the darn thing done, even to this point! Its still needing the corner triangles and the border, stay tuned!
This photo was taken at the main lodge at Loon Lake

This quilt will be king size when complete. I bought the whole chunk of fabric, I think it was around 6 m. back in 1997-1998. ( I think it was around a $125 for the main fabric) The print that I chose was a limited edition wildlife print called Canadian Endanged Species. My husband is a wildlife/habitat biologist and he was the reason for the print. I wanted to finally make us a quilt for our own king size bed. I needed a large chunk of fabric because the Stack and Whack Dresden Plate does take a large chunk of fabric for all the various fussy cuts for the Dresden Plate Fans. The class was taught at the Moody Blue Quilters workshop space in Christina Lake, BC and the instructor was Louisa Robertson of Merrit, BC.

My life has had its challenges, also has been full of love, determination and drive to succeed. During these years, we were home educating our two sons and on an extreme limited budget. Home educating is a loss of one full time income and so for many who actually home school their kids, its a financial struggle. 
I wanted to succeed at demonstrating how easy it is to reuse clothing fabric into quilts. The only problem was that when I started reusing, no one else was reusing anything and it was a long, lonely road to redemption. Quilters often balked at my desire to actually bring my work to the monthly gatherings. Eventually, some took it upon as a challenge, but many preferred the ease of purchased fabric, crisp and precise for cutting.

When I attended this class, it was $75 for the whole weekend of sewing. (Another cost that we could hardly bare!) But thankfully, my husband knew I needed to have a little break from home school teaching. We started on a Friday night, learning about what makes a stack and whack possible and why the large chunk of fabric was needed. We continued to cut the fan pieces on Saturday and some were already onto sewing by evening. Sunday we continued with sewing and getting our fans made.
Our instructor Louisa was patient and organized. She took us by the hand and lead us down the Stack and Whack garden path. Much like how I teach today. I wonder where I picked that up?

Why was this method such an expensive proposition for a frugal quilter? Did it really need to be so much? No one else seemed to mind and when the class was over, we all went our various directions. My quilting guild at the time, maybe did actually reuse some fabric, but I stretch the truth by suggesting only for dog beds. 
My needs for the rest of the fabric to make the king sized quilt was put on the back burner. I worked on the hand applique method of attaching the circular fans on the backing and suddenly, it was 2001.We moved again in 2003 back to our beloved Bulkley Valley.

I was alone in my quest for reusing, recycling and getting real about the cost of cotton! We moved once, then twice and then back to the Bulkley Valley in 2003. Hence, this is part of the story of why it took so long!
Moving means many things and one of them was our two sons were ready to enter the school system again, Gr. 12 and Gr 10 classes became the norm for our sons. They did well, graduating with honors and scholarships! We did home education for 9 years and wouldn't change a thing!


As you can see in the past few photos, the stack and whack method is about 'repeating' and the technique is complicated and I'm happy to say that Louisa Robertson has given me permission to adjust her original methods and use this to build a new class that teaches the technique, allows for unique placement but with/without the huge single print.

I've begun this process, its actually well under way and will be offered soon alongside my current workshops offerings.

Now, lets talk about the Dresden Plate itself. Its not a real complicated place to start, but this posting is the opening suggestion of a new tutorial of Dresden Plate Fans, that's right a tutorial for the entire quilt will be posted as we go. Any number of quilters can participate, so invite your friends who live near by so you can do a little exchanging or invite friends to participate from around the world.

Its just a fun way to share 'traditional techniques with modern applications' and see what we all come up with?

Sounds like fun? I will post this tutorial by mid October, so get busy, start checking into your stash or what recycled fabrics you may have on hand to get this whole thing started.
Remember, the tutorial will be posted here online, so if you are going away, no worries, you can catch up when its convenient for you!

Here's a photo to empower your brave spirit and reuse as much as you can! I suggest that taking the little snippets of your scraps be a great place to start and while using your quilting scraps, bring in a few of favorite colors from reused cottons from your own clothing or the thrift store.

Like this one for instance, the background red flowers is a Cloud9 Fabrics organic cotton in Crimson Moss. Its very lovely to work with and you can buy it here.

This quilt is a soft antique feel to it and its mostly reused cotton! I'm making it for my friend Barb who lives in Enderby. My goal it to have it done by the end of 2011. Its coming along well! I chose to post it here because I'm hoping that many of you will take up the challenge to reuse as much as you can in the Dresden Plate Fan Tutorial.

This lovely little table runner is reused cotton in the pinky striped, green varigated stripe and the lighter colored fabric in the squares. Yes, I used some new fabric and its a blended approach. You can too!

Get ready for Dresden Plate Tutorial and lets have some fun!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Crazy Creation in Purple

As many of you, who know me personally, know of my love of crazy quilting! This one started as an exercise to see how many little snippets and big chunks of purple I could use in a crazy quilt. I've used cotton, silk, upholstry fabric, satin, slippery lingerie fabric mostly from recycled clothing in my own closet.  I went through a purple faze in my life, thank goodness it just one color I love now.

I don't always start in the middle or the side or have a five sided block start as done by others. I just start with something that grabs my attention, like this African print fabric in the center.

 I had a birthday that year and still working on the hand embroidery over a couple of years this quilt was made. Here, our neighbor Dave Gillespie sends off my birthday candle float on the river and we sing to till the wee hours.
This quilt was sold to Leslie Crane last year.

Continued BV Fall Fair Booth

We were at first stumbling around trying to figure out what went where. How to design a booth is a very important step. You need to consider that people will want to come and take a look at whatever you sell or make or both. In the photo  below, Nola and I set up the Bulkley Tweedsmuir Women's Institute's BV Fall Fair Display area. Then we rushed back to our booth and continued.

We tried to consider space for movement, selling area for payment and cutting of organic cotton at the booth. 8x16 ft. might look big at the beginning, but you know how quilters are, we take everything but the kitchen sink.

 We were happy with how it eventually turned out, but little things like the uneven rough wood flooring, even though rustic, was a challenge to prevent my shelves from falling over, spilling new organic cotton bolts all over the place.

My Rooster was made the night before, just the top was on display. I have another blog posting on its continued progress.

We had a great time with demonstrating machine quilting and this fair goer came by and watched, then she tried it out.

One night around 9 pm, just when we were starting to close up shop, this boy came along and asked if I could sew up his chicken? He'd just won it in the midway and now it was spilling the plastic  beads. So I did. He was so amazed at how I could get a chicken into the machine to sew! It was tricky!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Light and Goodness- Baby Calm Quilt

Life has been up and down, all around, spinning sometimes and lost in the wilderness of life at other moments. I never know when something good is going to enter my life. I can plan well, execute focused attention on those plans and even sleep well too.
Sometimes my world is touched by light and goodness. I can see dark clouds coming and I take shelter. This little quilt came into my life one of those times I sought shelter. The rain poured for what seemed like weeks as I played inside with the technique of stacking and whacking, slicing and dicing whatever you call it, in a totally different way. Designing; whacking and joining away I went. My task was "purple" the favorite color of Jennifer, Violet's Mom.

Playing with stacking and whacking is almost second nature because as I play with integrating recycled fabric from clothing into quilts its takes a different frame of reference to work with even the most challenging of recycled fabrics. 100% cotton being still the easiest fabric to work with. 
Some of the fabrics used in this quilt date back to the early 1990's to the present. Some are even older, but I don't know because they found their way to my studio through a thrift store and sometimes were picked up at the Re-Use Shed at the Smithers, BC transfer station. This lavender background solid came by way of a garage sale back in Enderby a couple of decades ago.

This little quilt just almost jumped together from the very beginning. I wanted to use this lavender cotton in something and one day while cleaning up my fabrics, the pile of purple prints turned up in my hands. I set them down on the lavender cotton fabric and it was love at first sight.
This little quilt belongs to a lovely little girl, Violet is her name. She's new on the scene and proud to be here.

This quilt is the foundation of a class I'm teaching a class in an effort to help raise funds for the Quick Women's Institute at Round Lake Hall on Round Lake Rd on Oct 15th. Supply list and registration is by calling 250-846-5985 or emailing me at this blog.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fall Fair Last Minute Ideas!- Part One

 We started here on Wed Morning August 24th. We had to sweep and vacuum the whole booth. Unloaded and moved around several times as cleaned. We really like the booth we had this year and will secure it for next year. On Tuesday night, I was inspired to make "Mr. Rooster" and determined that the back of the Bulkley Valley Fall Fair Guide Book was just right for me to start.

 I began with free hand drawing the chicken's head parts on the paper side of fusible interfacing. I had turned it over from the side you iron it on with.

 As I began cutting, the shapes of his comb and wattles took shape. This photo was really a hen, but I went with gusto into a larger, more prociding kind of demeanor, he who rules the kitchen  house wins, kind of thinking to really get into the head becoming transformed onto the background.
This comb and wattles shape on the red fabric "Nature" collection from Cloud 9 Fabrics. He's coming along nicely.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fat Quarter Bundle Winner!

Congratulations to Undomesticated Scientist for entering our little fat quarter draw. Your help was invaluable in assisting me make a decision to use brown as the background color. We're really pleased with all the entries for this competition and please check back for more as time goes on.

Happy Quilting!

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