Road Trip QAL: Minnesota

I finished these blocks for Minnesota a while back, and then went out of town and completely forgot that I never blogged about them.  Oops!  I started out making the fussy cut centre square in a square units.  I finished pressing them, trimmed them down, and then double checked how big they had to be.  They were of course, too small, but it was too late to do anything about it, so I went to bed.

QAL Minnestoa 2

The next evening, I started again.  I started earlier because I tend to make more mistakes when I’m tired.  Everything went well, and I don’t recall making any more major errors.  I resized this block as well, up to 15″.  My tentative plan at this point is to resize 4 of the blocks for a larger, medallion like centre, and then frame it with the smaller 12″ ones.

QAl Minnesota

Dark and light, with the second attempt at the fussy cut centres.  I worked really hard to get those points sharp, and I’m pleased with the overall result.

QAL dark 1-7

QAL light 1-7

So, seven blocks down and nine to go!  Well, 8 since I’m actually already done the next one, but I wanted to blog about them in order.  You can go to Sewing by Moonlight to join in.


Gone, but not forgotten: A quilt for baby Felix

This time of year is hard for me.  July 27 is especially rough.  Three years ago, July 27 was the due date for my third baby.  I didn’t get that far though.  In January 2009, the month was not going well.  We had just come home from a trip to visit family in BC, and had come home to realize that in our absence, a pipe had burst in our basement and partially flooded it.  Thankfully, our landlord’s daughter had been feeding our cats, so the damage was not severe, but it was no picnic either.  Then, on January 2, a Friday, the transmission on our van completely failed.  Hello, $3000 repair bill.  The worst was still to come.

I was about 11 weeks pregnant with our third baby at the time.  I had already sketched a quilt for the baby, which I felt very strongly was a boy.  In fact, my husband and I had, in absolute record time, already decided on his name: Felix Henry.  Since we usually debate the name well into the end of the third trimester, that was a feat indeed.  We had just told our families the good news on our very recent visit to see them.

Felix 1

I designed this simple Irish Chain in blue and green.  I tried a more subtle green, but in the end went with this nice shade of lime.  I love bright colours, after all. I had already started sewing the blocks together.

Then came January 4.  I had some bright red spotting, but wasn’t horribly worried since I had no cramps at all.  Still, my husband and I thought it was a good idea to head into the ER anyway.  A friend watched our other two children, and we headed out.  After waiting what seemed like an eternity, they finally called us in.  The doctor did an internal exam, and was gave me tentative good news, since everything was tightly closed, just like it should be.  She couldn’t find the heartbeat on the doppler, but I have a tilted uterus, and they can never find the heartbeat on those things until I’m typically about 15 weeks, so that didn’t worry me.  They couldn’t do an ultrasound at the time, since it was about 1 in the morning and all those techs had gone home.  So they gave me a rhogam shot (I’m A-) and sent us home.  All good, right?

The next morning, the hospital called and said they had an opening for an ultrasound later that afternoon, did I want to come in?  I hemmed and hawed, and asked if I could get back to them in a few minutes if I could find a sitter.  I called my husband, who checked with his boss if he could come in early, and if he could borrow their truck, since our van was still out of commission.  Everything was a go, so I called back to confirm the appointment, still not horribly concerned.  After all, I was nearly 12 weeks along, and had never had any problems in previous pregnancies.

I headed in to the hospital, and it was snowing, so the roads weren’t great.  I took my time, since I was driving a completely unfamiliar vehicle.  I got there in time, and read my book while I waited.  They did an ultrasound, and then asked if I could drain my bladder so they could do a vaginal ultrasound (for the record, those are no fun).  Finally, after lots of uncomfortable poking (TMI, I’m sorry), she turned the screen to me.  “Your baby is measuring 9 weeks when it should be at 11.5, and there is no heartbeat.”  She didn’t have to say anything else.  If she would’ve, I doubt I would have heard or remembered anyway, since the rest of that day was just a blur.

I went to see my family doctor, a complete blubbering mess.  He gave me a private room to wait in, and arranged for me to get in ASAP with an OB-GYN.  I had a D&C the next day.  My mom came to visit.  My brother and SIL gave me a plant.  That’s about all I remember of the next couple of weeks.  It’s strange to me how I remember nearly every detail of before, but after, I just get bits and pieces.  Every now and then, something will trigger a memory, but it’s still pretty hazy.



I got into a frenzy and felt compelled to finish the quilt.  It was like something just took me over.  After all, he was still my baby, even if I never got to hold him, and he deserved a quilt just as much as the other two did, if not even more.  I changed the design a little.  I took out the blocks in the centre to leave an empty hole, just like the hole in my heart, and the hole in our family.  A hole that will never be filled.

And then I just couldn’t finish it.  The top was done in record time, but I just couldn’t finish it.  It was like I was finally saying a complete goodbye if I finished it.  I couldn’t let him go.  So I didn’t finish it.  I would take it out every year about this time, determined to give him a birthday gift, but I still couldn’t, and can’t, do it.  I still can’t let it go.

And maybe that’s ok.  Maybe it will never get finished.  It’s the only concrete thing of his that I can touch.  It’s almost symbolic: I couldn’t finish making him, and I can’t seem to finish his quilt. Sometimes it helps to look at it, and sometimes it hurts, but I’m still glad that it even happened at all.  I got to have him for a little while, at least.

Cathedral Windows

Phew.  VBS is done, and while it was busy, I’m also thankful that it was very rewarding.  The kids were pleasant and for the most part, listened very well.  It’s nice to have a little more free time now that it’s done though.

I have taken pictures of the dress I made, and I’ve hemmed pants and made little doll pillows in the meantime, but I haven’t really done any really meaty sewing yet.  Hopefully in the next day or two that will happen.  Plus, the main computer’s hard drive is acting up, and I’m not sure if I want to upload any photos to it just yet.

In the meantime, I’ll share an older quilt with you.  This quilt, Cathedral Stars, is made from a free Bonnie Hunter pattern.  I used up a lot of the scraps that I had at the time, and have since more than replenished that stock.  🙂  I worked on it off an on for a long time, kind of like a background project that I pulled out when I felt like sewing but didn’t have anything specific that I had to finish right away.  What finally motivated me to get into gear and make it my priority was my guild’s biannual quilt show.  I wanted to enter something, and it seemed like a good candidate to me.

Cathedral Stars

My husband took this shot of me and Thing 2 (oh he was so little then!) in front of my quilt as it hung it the show.  I love that it’s so very scrappy, yet it still looks planned.  And that narrow red-orange border just jumps out at me; I love it! This quilt is the one that currently sits on my own bed, and I have no plans to replace it anytime soon.  It’s warm and cozy and it has so many colours in it, that I have a feeling it will match the walls no matter what colour I decide to paint them!

WIP Wednesday: A wedding quilt

My sister is getting married in August.  When she told me she was engaged, I thought her plan was to get married in December, so I promised her that her quilt would easily be finished in time.  Then, she announced that she was getting married 5 months earlier, and all of a sudden my promise seemed a lot more difficult to accomplish.  So, I amended to my promise and told her I would give it my absolute best effort, but I couldn’t 100% guarantee that it would be done.  As she is a fabulous sister, she understood. 🙂

My sister is even more understanding than I first let on, since this quilt has been in the making for a long time.  A few years ago, when my local guild had a quilt show, my sister was in town.  I was having some health issues, and she came to help me out.  We went to the show together, and she fell in love with the One Block Wonder quilts that she saw.  I told her that if she wanted, I would make her one.  I have made quilts for a fair number of my family members, on both sides, but she was still without one.

So about 1.5 years after that, we were both in Calgary at the same time.  We made time to go fabric shopping together, and searched for a suitable fabric for her quilt.  She does not really sew herself, so she wanted me to be along when she chose the fabric, since this type of quilt requires a certain type of fabric.  Here is what we chose.

Elna OBW 6

I looked on the selvage, and it’s called ‘Bear Mountain’.  I cut it up fairly promptly, but then did nothing with it.  Just before my sister got engaged, I finally started sewing the blocks together.  This took me awhile, since I kept putting the project off to the side to work on something else.  But, at long last, the blocks were finished last week, and today I finalized the first draft of the layout.

Elna OBW 1

I’m not quite sold on the dark centre yet, but I will be leaving it up there for awhile to tweak it.  And my sister said she wanted it to (hopefully) fit her queen size bed, and that may yet take a bit of creative thinking.  I took a few more shots of the different corners, in case the cats get in that room and they take the whole thing off the wall.  I will be very sad if that happens, but at least I’ll have something to refer back to so I can fix it.

Elna OBW 4

Elna OBW 3

Elna OBW 5

There were only five blocks that didn’t make it into the first draft, so if I want to make it bigger, and I do, then some interesting borders will probably have to be worked in.  I like a challenge though, so I’ll muddle through until I get to something I think she’ll like.

Elna OBW 2


I’m linking this up to the Needle and Thread Network for their weekly WIP link party.  Check out what other Canadian artists are up to!

Past Projects: 1728 Triangles!

It’s been a very busy few days here at the Apple Pie house.  (That sounds like an excellent name for a coffee shop.)  I’ve been doing a bit of sewing here and there; I finished piecing the blocks for my sister’s wedding quilt and I’ve started on the layout; I also sewed a sundress for Thing 3 with the leftover fabric that my MIL had from making a dress for Thing 1, so they have nearly matching dresses now.  I’ll blog about that after I finally get them to pose nicely in their dresses.

The two main reasons that I haven’t been sewing as much as I’d like are the heat (it’s been about 35C (95F) on average when you account for the humidity), and the fact that I’ve been prepping and teaching the VBS crafts for my church (and I have nearly 50 kids to teach).  So in the meantime, I’ll share some more past projects. This is another of my past projects, and one of my scrappier creations.

My husband is working late again

When we first moved to Alberta just over four years ago, my husband worked very long hours, and was basically only home on the weekends.  This was quite an adjustment for me, basically being on my own with two small children (Thing 1 was three, Thing 2 was nine months).  To pass the time in the evenings, when they were in bed and I was bored since we had no tv, I sewed. A lot.  For this quilt, a very traditional split nine patch, I cut 1728 3″ finished HSTs, and then sewed them all back together again.  Yes, many of my friends and family questioned my sanity, but it kept me occupied, and fed my love of quilting.  I bound it in a scrappy binding which seemed fitting as the top was so scrappy.  I called it, “My Husband is Working Late Again.”

Surprisingly, or maybe not, since I did have a lot of time to kill, this quilt did not take a long time to finish.  I probably finished it less than two weeks.  Well, I suppose it would be more accurate to say that the top did not take a long time to finish.  It was at least a year before I quilted it.  I did simple, in the ditch quilting along the zig zag lines.  I hadn’t yet attempted any free motion at the time, and it seemed like the simplest way to get it done on my home machine.  The backing is that same rainbow print that I used on the back of my mystery quilt.  It lives, like so many of my quilts, in my living room.  It is used to snuggle in the winter, and sometimes ends up on guest beds when people come to visit.  And, like quilts do so well, it has been part of many epic forts in its time.

It’s done! Mystery Quilt finish

I finished up my mystery quilt about two weeks ago, but then I went away on a trip and gave it away to my mom, so I never got a chance to blog about it.  I quilted on my home sewing machine, and did straight lines.  At first the lines followed the different paths made by the various sizes of four patches, but there weren’t enough lines for the batting to be stable that way, so then I just did straight lines in random places.

mystery quilt 10

I bound it in a nice red.  Red is my favourite colour, and I did option other colours to be fair to them and give them a chance, but red was the clear winner, so it became the binding.

mystery quilt 6

My mom helped by holding up the finished quilt in her backyard so I could take pictures.  Thing 2 was riding his tricycle somewhere else, but came running up to help hold it up.

mystery quilt 7

Here is the back.  I used up some pieces that had been in my stash forever, along with a rainbow stripe to punch it up a little.  Thing 1 came along at this point and helped to hold it up too.  If Thing 3 had not been napping, I’m sure she would’ve insisted on being right in the action too.

mystery quilt 8

My mom asked me later if I liked it any better now that it was finally finished.  I’m sad to say, that it’s still just meh to me.  I am proud of its construction and I do really like the straight line quilting, but every time I look at the front it just doesn’t move me at all.  Oh well, she loves it, so at least it makes her happy.

mystery quilt 9

And really, it looks so lovely in her backyard, like it was always meant to be there.

I’m linking this up with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday (TIFF) which is being hosted by Quilt Matters this week.  I’m very glad this sucker is done!

A day at the beach

When I was on my recent trip with the kids, I promised that I would take them to the ocean, since they had never been before.  My sister lives in Vancouver, near Jericho Beach, so we made a plan to visit her and go to the beach with the kids.  The weather was not super warm, maybe 22 C or so, and the tide was high so there wasn’t much to see.  This did not matter to the kids, who thought the beach was the. greatest. thing. ever!  Thing 1 even took along her swimsuit even though it wasn’t really warm enough for it.

Beach 4

They started out by collecting rocks to made an inukshuk.  They had seen someone make one on tv before, and were very stoked to try their hand at it.  The tide was coming in, so we collected the rocks first, before the water came up higher and covered them.  They collected broken shells too, and my sister felt bad that they were so thrilled with the broken shells, since if the tide had been lower, there would have been a plethora of whole shells for them to choose from.

Beach 3

Beach 1

Then it was time to build the inukshuk.  They tried, but couldn’t seem to balance more than about 3 or 4 rocks at a time, so my sister built some for them.  Then Thing 3 wanted to knock them over right away, because knocking over towers is one of her favourite things to do, but we managed to dissuade her, for a little while, at least.

Beach 5

Then it was time to bury themselves in the sand.  Thing 2 first buried his flip flops until he realized he could use the flip flops as a shovel (we were super prepared and didn’t take any beach toys along) to bury his legs instead.

Beach 7

Beach 6

The sun started to peek out as it was time to go, and the girls dipped their toes in the ocean one more time.  We had a fabulous time and the kids can’t wait to go back again.  Hopefully when we’re in BC in August it will be warm and sunny and the tide will be out.  All those shells would be like a dream for them.

Beach 2