Monday, 29 December 2014

52 Quilters

I recently heard about an interesting project in the works for 2015. Chris Webb had the great idea to start Twitter and Instagram accounts, and a blog called 52 Quilters.  He invited quilters of all different ages, skill levels, and quilty background to take over the accounts each week. They will share photos, stories, and inspiration with followers, giving a glimpse into their creative life. Also, they will make a patchwork square to contribute to a quilt that combines all their collective talent into one amazing quilt! Sounds like fun, right?

I decided to take a risk and applied to be a participant. And guess what? I was accepted! I get to take over from March 2-8, which coincides perfectly with my 30th birthday. What a fun and exciting way to celebrate this milestone! 

I hope that this project is a big success, and inspires existing quilters to continue excelling in their craft, and encourages future quilters to try their hand at it. 

For more information, and to follow along all year, go to 52quilters.com, follow on Twitter @52quilters and on Instagram @52quilters .

Saturday, 27 December 2014

2015 Project of the Year: La Passacaglia Quilt

Oh my goodness. I can't contain my excitement! My amazing husband got me a wonderful Christmas gift: Millefiori Quilts by Willyne Hammerstein
I have been aching to give one of the La Passacaglia quilts a try, and now I can! He was also a total gifting champ, and bought me not one, not two, but four (!) bundles of fabric collections I have had my eye on. This gives me much fodder for this epic quilt!

La Passacaglia quilts look like a beautiful, colourful kaleidoscope, with so much potential for fuzzy cutting.  They are made using the English Paper Piecing technique, which means they are completely hand sewn. And the total piece count is over 2900! Last night I started cutting up the paper templates. I spent a good three hours at it, and have barely made a dent. 
I plan to have this quilt be a work-in-progress over the next year (or more if necessary!). This on-going project has me very excited, so stay tuned for progress updates!

For the complete list of related posts, head over to :

The Homemade Heart's La Passacaglia Quilt Index


2014: final inventory

Every year I like to set some intentions for myself in the coming year. Sometimes it is a goal to achieve, a mantra to remember, or an overall feeling to embrace. I hesitate to call them resolutions, because those are for breaking. Also, I don't necessarily want to go about it in the "set S.M.A.R.T. goals" mentality. I just want to have a mindset of improvement, exploration, and fun.

At the end of the year, I like to take inventory of how those intentions worked in my life, and where I stand with them. This helps me to decide what areas to work on for the upcoming year. 

Read more
Inspired by my cousin in 2013, I had set a goal to read 24 books that year. I met that goal, but finished my last book right at the deadline. For 2014, I wanted to match or exceed that goal. I read 33 books, including audiobooks, which I listen to while sewing, knitting, and doing chores. In 2015, I would like to exceed that number, but I can see it being difficult.  I did have a good three months off this year to get some aggressive reading done!  As long as I read 24 or more, I will not be disappointed.  

Do less (so I can do more)
I found that I was often taking on more than I could handle, and I ended up feeling too busy and overwhelmed, which resulted in no time to do the things that matter most to me. In 2014, I wanted to free myself from the hustle and bustle of a busy life. I wanted to restrict how much I volunteer to take on extra tasks, allow myself to say no to attending events I am not truly interested in, and stop feeling obliged or guilty to make plans. I also cut back my work schedule from 5 days a week to 4 days. 

This change has been enormous for me. So often, I would feel frantic and overwhelmed trying to fit everything in, and now I feel that much less. I was unhappy having a messy house, eating more convenience foods, and not having much time for true leisure. That extra day off a week has helped so much, my house is tidy and therefore more peaceful and comfortable to me. My husband and I eat better because I take the time to plan and shop for healthy meals. I have more time to enjoy creating and reading and loving. And giving myself permission to stop feeling guilty about saying no has been the most freeing thing. Also, freeing my mind from the "I should be"s has been liberating; no longer do I worry that I "should" be making wild plans for my weekends, because other people I know, or people in the movies do. I am happiest at home with a quiet project to work on, or a book to read and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that (or with me).  In 2015, I plan to continue with my Less is More mentality.  It is really working well for me.

Practice patience
This is an area that I definitely needed (and honestly, still need) improvement. I try to remind myself to practice patience during those times when I am annoyed standing in a line, or stuck in traffic, or dealing with a difficult person, or feeling hangry if I haven't eaten. I have to remember that the world doesn't revolve around me, everyone has their own shit going on, and that my mood is my choice. 

Relax
Again, with the glorifying of busy comes the guilt of relaxing. So this goes hand-in-hand with Doing Less. I gave myself permission to freely enjoy some sewing, knitting, reading, or just sitting and doing nothing. Even if there is something else I could be doing. Because rest is just as important as work. 

Mortgage Free by 33
This is a bit of a mantra in our house. I acknowledge that it is extremely likely that it won't happen, but I like the rhyme. Basically, we want to pay off our mortgage early, so we make extra principle-only payments on our mortgage.  This past year was a little tough, as we had a reduced income while I was on medical leave, but we still managed to pay $1975 extra. 

Live life today (don't wait for kids, your life isn't on hold)
This is a major problem for me. We have been dealing with infertility for almost three years now. It sucks. It's painful. And it has our life in a bit of a stall. I have a hard time committing to long term plans, because I am always so hopeful to be pregnant, or have a new baby. I have passed up opportunities because of a potential pregnancy that never happens. I made some progress in this realm this past year. We did manage to take a trip to Disneyland and Hawaii that otherwise I probably would have kept putting off. And it's a silly thing, but some of the fabric that I have been hoarding for when I "one day" have kids, I have cut into. So needless to say, I still need to work on this area in 2015. 

Take control of health and body
This was a major area of improvement for me this past year.  Taking initiative and fighting for proper medical attention and care was a hard battle, but so worth it in the end.  Having surgery was scary, and not exactly on my goal list, but the results have been amazing so far.

All in all, I think 2014 was a hard year, but one with lots of personal and spiritual growth.  I look forward to 2015 and all that it has to offer!  


Friday, 26 December 2014

Sewing without a pattern? I too like to live dangerously!

Sometimes I like to live on the wild side. And by this I mean sew something without a pattern. My husband asked me to make a bag for his mom for Christmas to replace the gift bag she has been using to carry her iPad, wallet, and miscellaneous stuff back and forth to work. So I had a general idea about size in mind, but otherwise was working from a figure-it-out-as-you-go place. 


I started off with Bluebird Park from Kate & Birdie Co with Moda Fabrics. I love the colours, textures and adorable animals from this line. In fact, prior to knowing about the fabric collection, I had used cards with the hedgehogs and bunnies for my wedding shower thank yous! 

Next, I decided it would be cute to fussy cut some of these designs into 2 inch hexies to feature them on the bag. I hand sewed them together using the English paper piecing technique. 
English paper piecing means all hand sewing
I decided to wrap this patchwork around the side of the bag to add interest in the front and back. I chose the dark cross hatching fabric to fill in the remaining of the patchwork portion to give contrast to the business of the hexies. I also selected a dark brown to use as the base, handles, and lining of the bag. 
The layout
I used a decorative stitch from my sewing machine to dress up the handles, and the pocket I installed on the inside.
Handles close up
A peek inside - a pocket perfect for an iPad
I used a blanket stitch on my sewing machine to applique the hexies to the background fabric and the base. 
Blanket stitch applique
Initially, I was going to square off the hexies by cutting around the perimeter to make all the lines straight. But when I was laying out the bag, I decided to keep the hexies intact for more visual interest. I think that this was a good idea; I love the way it looks, especially at the top where the handles attach to the hexies.

Front view


Back view
Lastly, I used a magnetic clasp for the closure, and used the blanket stitch to top stitch around the upper perimeter of the bag. I filled the bag with little treats that my mother in law will like, and wrapped it up for Christmas. I sure hope she likes it! 

Thursday, 25 December 2014

The best gifts are Homemade

Homemade gifts are my favourite to give and receive. I love knowing that someone worked hard and poured their heart into something made special for me. And I love working hard and pouring my heart into something made special for someone else! 

My mom had said she wanted a tote bag for carrying crochet projects, so I set to work whipping something up for a Christmas gift. I chose these fancy foxes for the main part of the bag, since she had told me before how much she liked them. 
Dapper foxes
I paired them with a darker grey for the base and handles. 
Front view
I used heavy interfacing for the base, but medium for the sides, which allowed for greater flexibility of the bag, while still allowing it to stand up on its own. I opted for a funky button from my extensive button collection (inherited from two different grandmas who were borderline hoarders). The loop closure I paired with the button is a hair elastic that matched the dark grey.  
Funky button clasp
I made excellent use of the decorative stitches my sewing machine is capable of executing, and jazzed up the handles with rows of Xs. 
Fancy handles
This bag came together much quicker, and with less mistakes, than my previous bags. Gotta love getting over the learning curve! I stuffed the bag with fun little goodies my mom would like, and wrapped it up for Christmas. I can't wait for her to see it! 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Cats.....in jeans?!

One thing that I love about having a goddaughter is that I can do special things just for her without feeling guilty for not doing the same for everyone else. So at Christmas time, along with a gift from my husband and I, I like to have a little something from me to her. And as far as I am concerned, homemade gifts are the most special. So this year I decided to make her a little cat stuffed toy. Wearing jeans. Oh my goodness, the cuteness!

I started out drawing a pattern that I liked. It took a couple drafts and a lot of erasing before I was happy with the look of the face. 
Face on the left was rejected, face on the right was approved
Then I set to work picking fabric. I had some scraps of a grey flannel with fun little light grey circles that I thought would serve well as the face, tail, and legs. I used white flannel to make the white patch on her face, and her arms. I am absolutely in love with Violet Craft's Brambleberry Ridge line, so I used the purple plaid for her shirt. A pair of old jeans of mine became new jeans for the kitty, complete with back pocket! 
Look at that little butt!
I put together the face using felt for the ears and nose, and embroidered the eyes, mouth, and whiskers. Looks pretty good! 
Pretty cute!
One thing that I am terrible at when it comes to making stuffed toys is taking the seam allowance into consideration when laying out the face. I think this cat above looks so cute.... Then I sew it all together, and I think it loses something. 
A little bit alien looking.....
I think I need to leave a larger seam allowance to accommodate the design better. Oh well, I still think she is cute, just different from what I pictured the final result would be. 
Front view
Back view - I love the tail!
And of course, the obligatory staged photos. Here, the kitty is helping me make cranberry sauce for Christmas dinner. Cats love cranberries. Now let's hope that Briar Rose loves her cat!
Such a helpful little kitty
Annyong likes her!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Aloha Hawaii, Aloha Quilts!

My husband and I were lucky to enjoy an amazing holiday in Disneyland and on Maui, Hawaii. We got back last week, and I am still dreaming about it! Disneyland was so special; this was my first visit, and I enjoyed it very much. It was amazing from my inner child's point of view, as well as my adult point of view. All the characters and themes rides: it was my childhood come to life. And then the grownup part of me loved how clean it was, how friendly the cast members are, and how handi-accessible it is. Every ride and attraction is open to every single person, and they are so helpful to people with wheelchairs. Also, one of the live shows had sign language translators! It is so interesting to me how inclusive Disneyland is; it's truly a magical place.
Me in front of Sleeping Beauty's Christmas castle
Pete and I about to watch the World of Colour show
After thoroughly enjoying Disneyland, we hopped a plane over to Maui for a week's stay. This was our second visit, our first was for our honeymoon two years ago. It remains a beautiful, romantic, relaxing place. One morning we woke up to the most amazing sight: a super bright and vivid double rainbow!
Double rainbow.... what can this mean?
I put my handsewing kit to good use and finished a flower block using Violet Craft's Brambleberry Ridge line.  

Love those woodland creatures
I really enjoy English Paper Piecing!  It is perfect for relaxing on the porch enjoying a sunset.

I can not get enough of these Hawaiian sunsets
Besides enjoying the sun and water, we hit up our favourite restaurants from last time, and discovered a few new ones. We also ventured out in search of record stores for my husband and quilt shops for me! My favourite one we found was The Maui Quilt Shop in Kihei.  This is a cute little shop with lots of interesting things to look at, reasonable prices, and super friendly staff.  They also offer classes, which had I been there longer, I would have definitely taken part in.  It was here that I learned quite a bit about Hawaiian quilting.
Carnation quilt
Hawaiian quilts are beautiful works of art, different from any other style of quilting I am familiar with. They are made by cutting a large piece of folded fabric, rather like a paper snowflake. The design is unfolded and appliqu├ęd onto a backing fabric. The design is quilted over first to give depth and interest to the design, and then echo quilted around the outer lines. Everything is done by hand, from start to finish. Once a quilt is finished, the last step before gifting it to someone is to sleep under the quilt for a night.  This ensures that the quilter's spirit resides in the quilt. I think this is such a sweet idea, and one I really like the idea of introducing to my own quilt making/gifting. One Hawaiian tradition I don't think I can get on board with though, is the belief that it is bad luck to make a quilt with more than three colours.  I like a colourful quilt!  While this is the tradition, I did see lots of quilts with a modern take with more colours, and fresh patterns.  I learned a lot about the traditions and techniques of Hawaiian quilting, and bought a pattern to give it a try myself. 
Traditional quilt pattern, and a kit to make the whale mini wall hanging
I think this will be a challenging venture, but one worthwhile and rewarding.  What a great souvenier from another wonderful trip to Hawaii!