Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fanciful Flavours! Four Scoops Please.

The centre of the baby quilt takes the same block that I used for the butterflies (see blog post of December 3rd), and turns it into scoops of ice-cream.

Cone Call: Auditioning fabrics for the cones.

Made the cut: Ice-cream cones ready to perform!

Seems French!

A celebration of French fare at our last French class at the Little Sorbonne School. Perhaps not many "Seams" involved in this endeavour, but certainly a lot of "French"!

le menu du jour.

l'etudiants tres gentils.

le professeur extraordinaire! Merci Olivier.

Joyeux Noel!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Flights of Fancy" Baby Quilt

Baby Quilt in progress.

Strings of machine appliqued 1/4 circles, fluttering in anticipation. Soon they will emerge as the wings of a butterfly.

Wing segments in a rainbow of colours.

Each piece of fabric is cut into a square of a pre-determined size. Using a template, the applique line is marked onto the wrong side of the fabric. It is then cut into a semi-circle, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.

A freezer paper template is placed onto the wrong side of the fabric, shiny side up, matching it with the pre-marked line. The 1/4" seam allowance is clipped and carefully pressed over onto the shiny side of the freezer paper, where it will adhere temporarily.

This piece is then pressed onto a square of white background fabric, cut to the correct dimensions, and machine appliqued into place. Next, the freezer paper is carefully removed.

Completed rows of butterflies, getting ready for flight.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bouquets from Baltimore for the Material Girls from Winnipeg

Linda, Laura, Cindy,Cherie and Caroline (missing from photo). In 1997 these 6 women (myself included), met at a local quilt shop in Winnipeg.
We connected and bonded around our love of needle and thread.
We became friends over "Samplers", "Piecemakers", "Little Brown Birds", "Baltimore Bouquets", etc..
We are the "Material Girls" from Winnipeg.

Working on this quilt, I was always reminded of the warmth and friendship of these women and how much I miss them.

To friends to inspire.

To friends who encourage.

To friends who share hugs liberally.

Thanks guys! This quilt's for you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Baltimore Bouquet

It's been a long time coming, but my "Baltimore Bouquets" quilt, ( from a pattern by Mimi Dietrich), is finally complete. Every stitch is hand crafted; from the applique and embroidery, to the piecing and quilting. The 9 blocks were appliqued and embroidered between the years of 1999 and 2000. Set aside for the next 4 years, I again picked it up in the year 2004, when I completed the border applique and much of the quilting. Thus it had been stored until January of this year, when I again "unearthed" it and made a determined effort to complete it before years end. The last stitch was made this past week. Hurray!

The intricate applique required in a traditional applique pattern, such as the Baltimore Bouquet, deserves to be treated in the traditional manner from time to time. There is great satisfaction in completing a piece entirely by hand. Although much of my current work is done entirely or partially on the sewing machine, hand work is still my first love. Hand work cannot be measured in the time spent to make it, but rather in the satisfaction and joy that each stitch brings. Computers and sewing machines have brought exciting possibilities to today's quilter, but our long standing heritage of hand work should not be forgotten and lost for todays new generation of textile artisans.

The techniques are needle turn applique and hand quilting. It is accented with embroidery: satin stitch, french knots, stem stitch and beading.

It has been given dimension by ruching, pleating, gathering and padding.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fun and Fresh Colour Choices

When designing a new quilt, the first element of design that I consider is colour. Colour, even more then design, determines the mood and energy of a piece. My vibrant, bright colour selections for this quilt symbolize the joy and delight that a new baby brings into a family unit.

To achieve this, I chose to work with the primary colours (magenta, yellow, turquoise) and the secondary colours (orange, violet, green) from the Ives Colour Wheel. Bursts of these electric colours on a crisp, fresh, white canvas will best convey the joy and excitement that I would like the quilt to portray.

These were my initial focus fabrics. Three of them did not make the final cut, but they did provide a guideline for the eventual choices.

The process of interviewing the candidates.It's always great fun to go through the stash and play with all of the colours.

Using the primary and secondary colours of the Ives Colour Wheel, the final selection was made.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Are Family

We are Family,

I Got all My Sisters with Me.

We are Family, Together we Stitch on Boutis!

.........(with apologies to Sister Sledge)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gimli Manitoba, A Sea-Side Gem in the Prairies

75KM north of Winnipeg, located on the western shore of Lake Winnipeg, is the rural community of Gimli. Settled in 1875 by immigrants from Iceland, Gimli has retained its Icelandic heritage and traditions to the present. Today, it is still home to the largest concentration of people with Icelandic lineage outside of Iceland. The Icelandic tradition has brought an interesting flavour to this sea-side fishing town in the prairies, helping to make tourism an important industry in Gimli.
When Leah, (SF partner and daughter) was young, we had a summer cottage a few KMs north of Gimli. During our summers stay at the cottage, we spent many happy days wandering along these streets, savouring its delights. On a recent trip back to Winnipeg, we spent an afternoon in Gimli, where we took a nostalgic walk down Main Street.

H.P. Tergesen and Sons was built in 1899 as a General Store, and still has its original tin ceilings and hardwood floors. Now 4 generations later, it is still owned and operated by the same family, and attracts customers with its wide variety of quality products, including clothing, books, gifts, etc.. Throughout those summers at the cottage, we spent many rainy afternoons happily perusing the shelves and always walking away with at least one "must have" item.

A little further up the road was the "Central Bakery", it's shelves always full with the most delectable treats, such as vinaterta (6 layers of a thin shortbread-like cake separated with a prune spead) and Imperial cookies. Happy memories! Although Central Bakery has closed it's doors, a new cafe/bake shop has opened in town allowing for those stolen moments of pure delight.

A more recent addition to the town is the hotel/conference centre built on the beach. While enjoying the view of the water, the restaurant will serve up fresh crispy, light and delicious Lake Winnipeg pickerel with chips. Yum! And wouldn't you know it, to make for a perfect afternoon in Gimli, stepping out of the restaurant, Jocelyn's quilt shop just happens to be conveniently located along the hotels storefront. What more could this girl ask for?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Wholecloth Quilted Tablecloth

"Sanglier" Tablecloth Completed

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Construction of a Wholecloth Free Motion Quilted Tablecloth

Free Motion Machine Quilting

Living in a very tiny one bedroom apartment, without air conditioning, in temperatures that make flip flops too hot to wear, presents some interesting challenges, particularly (for myself) when making a large quilt. The size of this tablecloth is 104" x 64". For this reason, I sandwiched, basted and quilted only the actual size of the table top (82" x 42") on the first go-round, then added the borders once the centre section was completed. Constructing the centre of the quilt in this way worked very well; there was smaller layout space required and less bulk to fit into the machine. When it came time to add the borders, I did encounter difficulty in the sandwiching and basting process, because at this stage, the quilt was full size, and our apartment had not grown. Having squared up the centre section, it was possible to sandwich and baste one side at a time, keeping the fabrics taut. This is certainly not a preferable method of quilt construction, and I would not recommend it to anyone, however, it can be done. "Where there's a will there's a way!".

The actual sewing station was another challenge. My husband, an architect who has always promoted resource efficiency, embraced this challenge enthusiastically and creatively. With 2 saw horses, a sturdy wooden slab, some movable furniture cubes, and a 40" diameter dining room table (that collapses to 6"), I had a sewing space that accomodated this project, and furniture that neatly collapses to a very managable size for storage. Although there will be some refinements required (as in a wooden slab that completely covers the saw horses) for the next time, this temporary sewing station allowed me to complete the project.

(Not seen in the photo are the three fans directed towards me; an essential ingredient in the whole opertion!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Designing a Whole Cloth Freemotion Quilted Tablecloth

Marking, Sandwiching, Basting

Marking fabric for a quilt, especially for a large project, always presents interesting challenges. There are many very good options available now, such as water erasable, air erasable, iron away, etc., which all work well for smaller projects. However, when working on a 106" x 66" quilt, that will take weeks to finish, all of the above options have their drawbacks. Quite by accident, while travelling in Germany this summer, I found a chalk cartridge set called "Kreideminen-Set", by hoechstmass Signet (I have seen it on eBay since then), that made marking the quilt a very easy process, even on the dark coloured fabric. Being chalk, I knew that it would be necessary to remark some of it. However, when that time came, the chalk marks were still visible enough to use as a guide, and at that point, I used an air erasable pen on one area at a time. I found this procedure much more efficient then wiping off the water erasable marks once the quilting has been done.

It was necessary to do the sandwiching and basting in stages, because I do not have a very large layout space available in our apartment in France. The size of the table is 82" x 42". The finished size of the tablecloth is 104" x 64", (allows for an 11" drop). I cut the backing fabric in one piece, larger then the quilt size, centred the batting to match the dimensions of the table top (cut larger at approx. 86" x 46") on top, then centred the marked quilt fabric on top of the batting (cut larger at approx. 84" x 44"). These 3 layers were then sandwiched and basted, and prepared for free motion machine quilting. This reduced size was much easier to manage considering the limited space that is available to me in our apartment. It was also necessary to reduce the bulk for the sewing machine I have here. It's a Bernina 350, which sews beautifully like all Berninas do, but the space between needle and arm is noticeably smaller then on a "normal" Bernina.

Once this whole centre section was machine quilted, I squared and trimmed the finished fabric top and batting to the correct dimensions and was ready to proceed to the borders.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Designing a Whole Cloth Freemotion Quilt

Motifs and Symbols Provencaux

(The first draft combining the symbols and motifs into a continuous design.)

Through the ages the people of the southern regions of France in Provence and Languedoc, have revered and celebrated the generosity of the light and the natural beauty of their land. These colours and images have been immortalized in various art forms. The repertoire of motifs and symbols that has develpoed through local traditions is vast and covers many areas of nature (flowers, trees,fruits and veg, animals, etc.) , as well as objects representing sentiments of life (hearts, stars, crosses, etc.).

When recently designing a quilt, whose main focus was to be a "sanglier", or the wild boar found in the thickets and brambles of the French countryside, I chose designs that would likely be found in these regions. The centre motif is a very large "Sanglier". He is surrounded by scrolls and vines of thistles, artichoke blossoms, acanthus leaves, ghekos, cigales, etc., all held together by the ever symbolic "fleur de lis", the emblem representing the whole of France.

Once the research has been done, I begin the process of drafting the pattern. The first step is gathering and drawing the images that will be used. Wherever possible, I use my own photographs as a guide an inspiration. Once the rough images have been drafted, my husband enters them into his computer aided drawing program, refines the images and re-sizes them to my requirements. The last step in this initial stage, is to trace the resized and refined drawing onto vellum, which will be the pattern used to trace the design onto the fabric.

(Rough drawn symbols and images. These images are then connected to the "fleur de lis" to make a design that can be sewn in a continuous line. (photo at the top of the blog entry) )

(Image - Refined and resized with CAD.)

(Final tracing onto vellum. This tracing will be used on a light table to trace the pattern onto the fabric)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sunshine and Lavander

Situated in an arid, rocky valley in the Luberon region of Provence, sits the 12th century Romanesque monastery "L'Abbaye de Senanque". This Cistercian abbey is still a place of monastic life, where the monks work in the fields of agriculture and tourism. This hot, dry, sun drenched area of Provence provides the perfect conditions for lavander to flourish. The stark beauty of the plain gray stone building of the abbey provides the perfect back drop for the flourishing blossoms of lavander growing in the adjacent fields. "Living from the work of their hands", is one of the directives written by Saint Benedict in the 6th century. For this reason, the monks work hard to tend to their daily chores, which include the growing and harvesting of the lavander.

Lavander reaches its full bloom sometime between mid July into August. It is then harvested and dried or distilled into essential oils. These dried flowers and extracts will be used to make a variety of aromatic toillette products (soaps, perfumes, sachets,etc.), lavander flavoured flavoured foods (like honey, an all time favourite of mine), herbal teas, and even products that are used for their healing properties.

Visiting "L'Abbaye de Senanque" is a "should do" when visiting Provence.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Home Dec - Easy Awning

I recently constructed this 6 panel canvas awning to help keep the temperature of our top floor, west facing apartment moderate in the intense heat of summer afternoons. It's easy to construct, easy to install and convenient for storage. And, most importantly, it has made our apartment much more comfortable when the full impact of the sun hits the terrace in the afternoons.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Standing Ovation

Daughter and Seams French partner extraordinaire, Leah, has completed her first solo performance on the Bernina to great applause and cheers. Best friend "K" provided the inspiration by giving birth to the beautiful "Baby L". Proud Mama "E" provided encouragement and support, and Darling Daughter "L" performed with grace and elegance. Bravo! (and keep that Bernina humming!)