A quilt for my nephew

My sister asked me recently last year to make a quilt for her son.  I said sure, of course, and then time happened and it took awhile to get the ball rolling.  Earlier this summer, we brainstormed and came up with a sketch of the design she wanted.  I loved the original way her brain worked to come up with the pattern she wanted.  She’s very artistically inclined, but not a quilter herself, so she came to the process without any preconceived ideas about what is currently on trend in the quilting world.  I should design stuff with her more often.

I started by making some test blocks.  The first one I made, on the left, was 1.5″ too big, so I re-did the math and made a second.  Success!

Test blockTest block

Then I got to work with the actual fabrics that she had picked out. I had to make 12 of these large, 15″ finished blocks for the left and right side of the quilt.

For AloysiusFor Aloysius

So with the big easy blocks done, I got to work on the itty bitty ones for the centre of the quilt. I did more quilt math, the old fashioned way, with a paper and pen.

Quilt math

Then I made some more test blocks, little itty bitty 1″ finished HSTs that were then used in tiny 2″ finished birds of the air units.

Itty bitty units

I really liked the cute factor of these tiny little units, even if they were awfully small and fiddly to make. Since I didn’t need the test birds of the air units for the quilt, I experimented a bit and made them into a new block. Then I made the real units and the resulting blocks that I needed. I had to make 16 of these small 6″ finished blocks.  Shakespeare is there for a size comparison.

Test block leftoversShakespeare for size

Progress so far

And that’s my progress so far. I put it all up on my design wall, and Thing 1 jumped into the picture with this Vanna pose. I’ve got mostly easy stuff left to do, so now it’s just a matter of doing it. I really hope I don’t fall off the wagon this time.

A time to heal

When the doctor says to you that your recovery will take 6 weeks, you think in your head that it will not be a problem, and the time will fly by.  But, when you actually live those 6 weeks, particularly the first 3.5 or so, it is a different thing entirely.  When your doctor tells you to rest so that your body can heal, he means it. I had such great plans, to sew hexies in the hospital, and sleep when I got tired.  I never thought that I would have horribly debilitating nausea that would completely erase any plans of doing anything normally.  Things that I took for granted, like actually wanting to eat anything ever again.  Or sleeping.  When I finally, finally got that under control, then I gradually started to feel better.  And I discovered that I’m not actually a very patient person, in case I had any tiny notions that I was.

But I did slowly get better and I am now mostly better.  I started sewing again, and I realized how much I missed it.  I started with some hexies, because I wasn’t going to have gone through all that prep work for nothing!  Thing 1 sewed with me a little bit, and that was nice.  I worked on attaching some of my flowers on to the bigger quilt-in-long-term-progress.


Then I worked on some bee blocks, since it is September and I had 2 of those on my schedule.  For the Stash Bee, Ashleigh requested a small, mini block framed in a block of solids, made in jewel tones.

Stash Bee Hive 6 - September

Then for Canadians Quilt, Janet asked for the Union Jack block, made from the free pattern by TraceyJay Quilts on Craftsy.  This one involved paper piecing and regular piecing, and I only had to re-do one seam, a great sign that my head was coming out its fog and was starting to work like I remembered it could.

Canadians Quilt - for Janet

It feels good to feel like my old self again.  It’s been 6 weeks on Thursday.  I’m glad that modern medicine is at the point where I can have a surgery like this instead of continuing to suffer like I was, and I’m thankful for the friends and family who were there for me and for all the words of encouragement I got and for all the prayers on my behalf. I’m very eager and thankful to be back to my normal, boring life.

Canadian Traveling Quilts

It’s coming to the end soon, of this journey that all these quilts are taking.  In July I worked on Gina’s quilt.  Hers was stylistically quite different from a lot of the others that had come through, but it was still wonderful.  It had more solids and bolder colours. It is so hard to not be showing everything I did, or even telling everything I did. I’ve taken pictures of the whole tops/sections as they are done here, but I can’t show you. This is the sneak peek of Gina’s.

Canadian Traveling Quilt

A section of Gina’s gave me an idea that I’d love to use for a whole quilt.  It’s already been added to my list.  :)

In August, I worked on Marika’s.  I actually finished it in record time.  I think I was all done with hers by the 5th or something like that.  I was inspired right away with what I wanted to do, and I didn’t hit any snags as I did it.  So that was great, as it was one more thing to cross off my pre-surgery plate.  Next month I’m supposed to be quilting and binding the last quilt to come through before mine gets back, but Erica has graciously given me as much time as I need for that, so as to not rush my recovery.

Sneak peek for Marika

Sneak peek for Marika


Marika’s quilt also gave me an idea for a quilt I personally want to make.  This has been such an inspiring journey.  I’m so thankful that I was asked to participate, and I hope we do it again.  It has stretched me creatively and pushed me to do things I wouldn’t have otherwise done.  I am so, so excited to see mine back again. The workmanship on these quilts has been exemplary as they’ve come through, so I know my quilt was in excellent hands.

Sew Canadian

So today is my day on the Sew Canadian tour, and I’m featured on the Mad About Patchwork blog.  And I had intended to write this post a week ago and schedule it, but that didn’t happen.  Sewing happened instead.  :)  Story of my life it, seems, if I didn’t do something, I was probably sewing instead.  If it was sewing I was supposed to do, I was probably sewing something else.

Sewing area

This is my sewing area. Since this picture was taken, I have put a bulletin board on the wall where all the papers are, to organize it a little more.  The kite made by Thing 1 a few years ago at school is still there.  I have the kids’ artwork all over the house.

Cutting and design wall

This is my design wall, in the kitchen, across the room from my sewing corner, which is a dining area nook. The blocks up on it are from the Stash Bee, as I was queen in June. It’s called Scrappy Mountains and I used Bonnie Hunter’s tutorial. My design wall is just the back of a camping table cloth taped to the wall.

Scrap storage

These are my scraps. I store them sorted by colour into plastic bins that I got at Home Depot for 87 cents a piece. There is a separate scrap bin for solids since I like to work with those on their own.

Ironing station

This is my mini ironing station, also a repurposed kitchen counter. I made the ironing board from a piece of plywood, some leftover batting and some denim. I used a staple gun to attach it to the back after pulling it tight. It is so, so handy! I make my own starch as well. I stir 2 cups hot water into anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 Tbsp of cornstarch (which has been dissolved in a little cold water), depending on how strong I want it. Then I boil it on the stove, let it cool a bit, and add 1/4 cup vodka for shelf life stability.

And that’s about it!  I have lots of fabric, but it’s stored down in the basement and the lighting sucks for taking pictures.  I hope you enjoyed your tour!  Back to sewing for me, after I wash some dishes first.

Catch-up time

I’ve been doing plenty of sewing lately, despite the summer heat.  What I haven’t been doing is blogging about it.  So this is kind of a kitchen-sink catch-all kind of post.

I’ve worked on 2 more quilts for the Canadian Travelling Quilts group.  First Julie’s which was a lot of fun and very eclectic, and then Laura’s with its wonderful colour scheme.  I can only show sneak peeks here, in case they read my blog.  I am so, so glad I joined this group. It has stretched my creativity and I’m amazed at the incredible places that every in the group is taking these quilts.

Canadian Travelling Quilt

Canadian Traveling Quilts

I made a skirt for Thing 3 with the Pitch it to Win it contest hosted by Mad About Patchwork. My project was actually featured about 2 weeks ago already, but here are some photos of her modeling it. She wants me to make her lots of skirts now, and declared that it was her ‘most beautifulist skirt ever!’ so I’m pretty sure it was well received.

Front of skirt

Back of skirt

I’ve been sewing lots and lots of hexies. I’m up to about 18 flowers now and I have loads more hexagons waiting in the wings. It’s a great thing to sew when it’s too hot to iron and I want to sit outside and enjoy the cool evening breezes. Yesterday was one month exactly until my hysterectomy, so I’ll have had lots of practice making these by then!

Hexie progress


Thing 1 and I also worked together to make a table runner for my mom, but no pictures were taken.  It went together very well and she is really getting the hang of sewing on her own now.  It’s a wonderful thing to see.

Sew Canadian

I meant to blog about this sometime last week, but I plum forgot.  Awhile ago, Mad About Patchwork contacted me to see if I was interested in taking part of a blog tour they were hosting about the sewing spaces of several Canadian bloggers.  I said yes, of course.  And then I started cleaning up before I took some pictures to send them.  :)

Sewing area


Here’s a sneak peek of my tiny, main sewing area, after I cleaned it up.  And it still looks slightly untidy.  Maybe I’ll just say that I need the mess to be creative.  That’s legitimate, right?  Thing 1 made that kite a couple of years ago, in grade 2, I think.  She also loves colour, as evidenced by the letters.

Here’s the schedule.  I’m set to launch on July 27.

July 6th – Patti @Retired to Quilt and Krista @Poppyprint
July 13th – Dominique @The Running Thimble and Cinzia @Deux Petites Souris
July 20th – Anita @Daydreams of Quilts and Lorna @Sew Fresh Quilts
July 27th – Shena @Apple Pie Patchwork and Katherine @Sew Me Something Good
August 3rd – Felicity @Felicity Quilts and Josee @The Charming Needle
August 10th – Janet @What Comes Next and M-R @Quilt Matters
August 17th – Erica @Happy Fabric and Jacqui @Treadle Quilts
August 24th – Leanne @She Can Quilt and Jaclyn @Jaclyn Quilts
August 31st – Pam @Mad About Patchwork and Laura @Waffle Kisses

English Paper Piecing

I have long been interested in trying English Paper Piecing (EPP).  The portability of it, the high cuteness factor of the finished product, the idea of sewing something entirely by hand, these are all factors in my fascination.  The thing that finally made me start was finding out that I’m having surgery in August and the realization that I will go crazy after 3 days in the hospital without something to do, and packing a sewing machine is not feasible.

So, ever in character for me, I started to do some research.  What size hexies did I want to start with? (Hexies are measured by the length of each side, not their width or height.)  How would I get/make the templates I would need?  I decided to go with 1″ hexies: not too big, and not too small.  I read about lots of different ways to make templates, and also places that you could buy templates, and in the end, I decided to buy a Fiskars easy-squeeze XL hexagon cutter.

Fiskars squeeze punch, XL size

This has worked perfectly for me. It cuts 1″ hexagons and saves me so much time with scissors. It is also more accurate than I could be with scissors, also a bonus. I got it at Michaels, with a coupon. I think Joanns in the States sells them as well.

I figured I should probably make just a few test hexies to make sure I actually enjoyed this project. Well, as some people have said, they are addicting, and ‘just a few’ has turned into 4 full flowers and many, many more extra hexies after just a few evenings of work.

Finished flowers

1" hexies


Are they not just so cute?  I’m using 2.5″ squares of fabric, which fit wonderfully around the templates.  They are so quick to make, and the hand-sewing is very relaxing.  Also, awesomely portable.  And Thing 1 wants to learn how to make them already.