Saturday, October 31, 2015

Work calls so sewing waits

I've been hired to do some consulting work and it is cutting into my sewing time. BAH! Every cloud has a silver lining so hopefully I'll be able to get myself some more fabrics with the money I earn! What quilt maker doesn't want more fabric?

I do however have two Road 66 blocks that I can share with you. I like the effect of the first block. The aqua hexagons seem to float on the dark striped background. The stripes don't line up perfectly but that's okay with me. My motto (or one of them) is this: if it bothers me I fix it and if I can live with it I leave it as it is. I find that the longer you leave things the easier it is to learn to live with them!

This is another interesting block. The middle rosette is made with a bit of fabric sent to my by my cyber friend in California. I had used the fabric to make a block for my Brinton Hall quilt and these lovely gold flowers were left over. I decided that this was a perfect spot to use those precious scraps!

Just in case you are interested, this is the block that I made with the same fabric. Now it is all gone but I managed to find an online shop that had some so I've order a bit more to add to my stash.

After my last post about my Mom (Anne H) and her quilts there were some questions about our quilting journey together. I started making quilts long before my Mom although she had taken a class where she learned to do a little applique. She saw what I was doing and decided to get started herself so I helped her out with what I had learned (most of which was figured out on my own). Her first quilt was a pink and off-white nine patch quilt. Although it is simple it is among her favourite quilts and she still uses it to this day! I taught her how to do English paper piecing and she has made several quilts and countless wall hangings. This is one that she made for me.

She embellished the hexagon flowers with a little bit of embroidery. Notice the fussy cut bee in the middle! That just screams "Anne H" because she often adds bees to her quilts.

Although her work centres primarily around applique with an African theme she still goes back to EPP hexagons every now and then!

Right! It is time for me to get back to work. Until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Monday, October 26, 2015

Congratulations Mom

I'm sorry for the long silence. Why have I been so quiet? I've been working like crazy to get my Mom's (Anne) quilt machine quilted on my sewing machine so that she could bind it and show it at our Guild meeting. As usual Mom went and got her hair done so she was looking very nice for the meeting. The president announced that we were having a birthday celebration for a long time member and the oldest member of the Guild, Mom! There was a huge cake and she had help from Barbara and Klara when it came time to blow out the candles. Mom was very surprised that the executive had gone to the trouble to get her not one but two cakes!

The president went on to say that the executive had decided to recognize Mom's long membership by granting her an honourary membership. Was she surprised? You bet she was! It was such a special night for her and I can't say how grateful I am to the Guild executive for honouring her in this way. She is still on cloud 9!

After the main part of the meeting we had sew and share and that was Mom's chance to show off her newly completed A Little Bit of Africa. Unfortunately you can't see the quilting but you can see the finished quilt.

The members were very interested in her quilt and there was a lovely round of applause for her work! Way to go Mummsie!

Want to see another of Mom's quilts? We had friends visiting at the end of the week so we pulled out Mom's quilts and had a little trunk show. I managed to snap a few pictures. She made this quilt more than ten years ago and she reckons that there are more than 14,000 hexagons in it. It is huge but it is beautiful! It is entirely hand pieced and hand quilted.

Amidst all the excitement and entertaining I managed to finish two more Road 66 hexagon rosettes. I love the floral print in the middle. It is called Sophia Pearce from the Winterthur Collection. I stumbled across it at a local warehouse type store and bought all they had with was a few yards. There are some wonderful flowers in the print that will be perfect for broderie perse and fussy cut hexagons.

The pink ombre fabric was sent to me by a cyber friend in California. I had seen a picture of the Mount Mellick quilt she is working on and I commented on the fabric. Next thing I knew she sent me a chunk of it in the mail! In return I sent her a chunk of my Sophia Pearce fabric!

Tonight I am doing a trunk show on English Paper Piecing for the Rouge Valley Quilt Guild. Time for me to finish packing up the quilts and sort out my speaking notes!

Once again I apologize for the silence. One final reason for the silence is that I have been sketching and pulling fabrics for my next quilt along. It will of course involve English paper piecing, some traditional piecing and a little bit of applique. I think it will be a fun and hopefully educational quilt. Stay tuned for more details!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Little Bit of Africa

I've been busy (or so it feels). I'm working on more ideas for my English paper piecing (EPP) workshops that are coming up.
EPP class sample by Karen H

EPP class sample by Karen H

I've got another test group next week and the students are left handed. I've never been to a workshop where the instructions are prepared for both left and right handed quilt makers and somehow that just doesn't seem fair. I've seen left handed sewers struggle with instructions so I'm working away making sure that the printed materials are clear and instructive. That means developing a separate set for those who are left handed and another for the righties in the groups!

Today I thought I would share the last of my Mom's (Anne) Africa quilt blocks and the assembled quilt top. She plans on calling her quilt A Little Bit of Africa. So without further ado lets get started!

Once again you can see that she made the dress off the block and then appliqued it to the little girl.

She told me that this is one of her favourite blocks. I've tried to convince her to make more Masai blocks so we shall see what she does.

Once again we see women and to me they all look like grandmas. Can you the the baby in the sling on the woman's back? Adorable!

This is a simple block but very effective. I love how she uses her fabrics.

What you can't see in this picture is that the bag the woman is carrying is stuffed with little rolls of fabric!

I suggested a few blocks without people might be a good idea so she made the following pair of blocks.

You will recall that I showed you the drunkard's path block variation that she made.

She had a big pile of them and decided to alternate them with her applique blocks. Here you can see the blocks sewn together.

The final step was to add some borders. She settled on a burnt umber inner border and a red outer border to finish the quilt (which I will now quilt for her). The quilt will be bound with the same red fabric. So here is the quilt layered and clamped to the table. Once it is pin basted the quilting will begin!

So there you have it.....A Little Bit of Africa.

Until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mixing up less than perfect fussy cuts

Today I thought I would share my latest Road 66 block and also talk about some fussy cutting options that you could consider.

I love working with stripes and directional prints because I can use the lines of the directional prints to place my hexagons on the back of the fabric and then cut them out. Stripes are far and away the easiest print to work with when fussy cutting.

Consider this pair of blocks from my quilt Birds in the Loft. I used a simple brown and blue stripe fabric to make these blocks. I made sure that the top and bottom corners of the hexagon were lined up on the outer edge of a blue stripe. As you may know I like to glue tack my paper hexagons to my fabric. The cheaper the glue the better and do make sure it is a fabric safe glue. By tacking the papers in this way I can cut out my fabric hexagons with scissors and I don't have to worry about pins. So, stars radiating out are fun and interesting.

But I am particularly fond of stripes that go around the centre hexagon. The cutting isn't perfect but I'm not worried about that because in a quilt with almost two hundred hexagon rosettes little imperfections disappear!

Sometimes you just don't have enough fabric to make a rosette. I had enough fabric to cut nine hexagons so I sewed six together to make the top rosette and I added three hexagons made with a similar fabric to create the second rosette.

Here is another example of making do with what you have. I had enough fabric to fussy cut three flowers and I used a stripe fabric for the other three.

This same principle of mixing fabrics has some added benefits. If your fussy cuts aren't exact the differences will show up when the blocks are sewn together because the designs won't match up. Using two fabrics instead of a single fabric will help disguise less than perfect fussy cuts!

This rosette is good. It needs another round of hexagons (12 this time) and the idea of fussy cutting 12 hexagons from a single fabric wasn't appealing to me. Also bear in mind that if you add a round fussy cut from the same fabric you will have to adjust how you fussy cut. I wrote about this here. Six hexagons will have a flat edge touching the centre rosette and the other six with have a point edge touching the centre rosette and this affects how you cut the fabric.

So what I did was mix it up; I cut six from a stripe fabric and I used six from made fabric and I made my open donut. You can see the circle isn't closed (inside the green oval) and this makes adding this round to the middle rosette so much easier. You can see how I add the open donut to the middle rosette here. Not only does mixing up the hexagons simplify the process of making the round but I don't have to worry about exact matches because the hexagons are separated by the alternating hexagons.

This can add an extra design element to the block when in fact the intent of using two fabrics or two different fussy cuts was to either disguise imperfect cutting or to eliminate the need to cut 12 hexagons from a single fabric. This is what the block looks like when it is all put together. It is the centrepiece of one of my workshop samples. 

Time for me to get cutting. I hope you find some time to take a few stitches today. Until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cornucopia Part Deux (or two)

Today I've got more blocks to share with you and a second class sample... so it is Cornucopia part 2!

Let's get started with three more of my Mom's Africa quilt blocks.

Mom loves grandmas, children and chickens. This block has two of the three!

I love this elephant block. You can see she embroidered a little eye and the tail is not entirely stitched down so it can swish the flies away!

There are seventeen applique blocks in total and they will be alternated with blocks that are a variation of the drunkard's path block. She has used all sorts of scraps to make these blocks. The off white fabric with writing is a Christmas fabric! There is actually one block in the quilt that has that same fabric and right in the middle of the pie shape is "North Pole"! How funny is that I ask you? But it all works!

Mom has all of the blocks stitched together and I am going to quilt it for her. My goal is to have it finished in time for our next Guild meeting! I'm going to have to work my fingers to the bone to get it done in time.

For those of you who aren't familiar with my Mom (Anne) or her work here is a picture of her taken last year at our Guild's quilt show. She is standing in front of a collection of her African wall hangings. She received the third place ribbon in Viewers' Choice.

I've got two more Road 66 blocks. The design for this quilt is from Di Ford's book Primarily Quilts. I made this first block in the winter to try out the large hexagons. The outer ring of hexagons was made from a scrap of fabric and I was really pleased with how the block turned out.

I love the blue and red serpentine print fabric. I looked for a blue that was similar and used it in the middle. I wanted to create the effect of one large piece of fabric and I think that I succeeded!

The last piece I want to share is my second class sample. I will be teaching all of the techniques I used to make this piece at the London Friendship Quilters Guild next month (that's London, Canada). I sent off both samples and they were shared with the members at the last meeting. I hoped that they enjoyed seeing them and that they are inspired to take the class and create their own unique masterpiece!

For those of you who want a copy of my pattern 81 The Giant Monstrosity, now is the time to download a copy. It will be free for only another couple of days so get your copy here now!

I'm linking up with Angie over at Quilting Readers Garden. Pop on over for a visit. There's lots of inspiration plus Angie is running a giveaway! And don't forget to visit Esther's link up party WIPS on Wednesday; there's always lots to see there too!

That's it for today, It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada so it is time to get cooking. Until I post again, happy sewing!

Karen H

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A cornucopia of blocks

Did you miss me? I know I've been quiet but it is because I've been busy helping my Mom (Anne H) with her latest African quilt, working on my quilt The Meadery, making class samples for my workshops and working on assorted other projects.

I thought I would start by sharing a few more blocks in my Mom's current Africa quilt. These are original designs and she is beyond thrilled with how her quilt is coming along. I can't get the background fabric to photograph accurately. It is in fact a deep gold colour. Hopefully I can get a few pictures outdoors and the colours will be better.

Notice the dress on the little girl. Mom has difficulty appliqueing dresses so she actually makes little dresses off the quilt and then sews them to the child. You can see that the skirt is actually gathered!

Mom loves making blocks with Masai and she told me that this is one of her favourites.

Mom often has a grandma with her grandchildren in her blocks and this is an example.

How cute is this little boy trying to climb a tree to get at the redwing blackbird? There is an abundance of them here in Canada but I'm not sure that there are any in Africa. We love the redwing blackbird song. To us it sounds like they are saying "sweet marieeeeeee"!

I've completed two more Road 66 blocks. The Road 66 quilt is featured in Di Ford's book Primarily Quilts. This first block reminds me of an antique sandwich plate. I bought the lavender print many years ago. I liked it because it was a serpentine print and then can be hard to find. I think that this type of print adds so much visual interest to a block.

I really like this block. The circle fabric in the middle adds a little pizzazz and the striped fabric in the outer round seems to glow.

I've made two samples for my workshops this Autumn and this is the first one. They have been sent to the Guild that is hosting the workshop. I hope the Guild members like what they see and are inspired to sign up for my course. I think what makes this piece work is the fabrics I've used. I'll have to write a post soon about how I selected the fabrics for this project and also how I buy fabrics to build my stash.

I've recently discovered that there are books available on making pieced hexagons but I've been making them since the late 1990s. I had planned on making a fussy cut hexagon quilt (Stars in the Loft) but couldn't find fabrics that I needed nor could I afford to buy the quantities I would need for fussy cutting so I developed my methods to "make" the fabric and designs needed for my quilt. Once I got started the design ideas flowed!  My techniques and methods are constantly evolving, changing, streamlining and simplifying. My friends used to tell me I should write a book and I suppose I should have but that train has long since left the station. The reason I tell you all of this is because I don't want anyone to think that I am copying or profiting from another person's work. My pieced hexagons are my own idea and I've been developing and refining my techniques for more than 15 years.

We've had falcons and hawks nesting in the neighbourhood. The young are very noisy begging their parents to feed them. Yesterday there was constant whistle so I went out to see what it was and it was a young red tail hawk! He was a big fellow and he sat atop the trees for a very long time.

I'm linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts Let's Be Social and Esther's WOW.  If you are looking for inspiration head on over for a look see at what others are doing.

Time for me to get my day started so until I post again, happy sewing.

Karen H

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A finished pilchard wheel and the next block

So here it interpretation of a pilchard wheel. It will look much better on a light background as is my plan.

Not quite the same as the real thing but it is close enough!

So now I'm thinking about my next block for my Cornish quilt The Meadery. Another important aspect of the Cornish economy was tin. The landscape is dotted with engine houses where the mines are located. Cornish tin mines are thought to be the oldest mines in western England and they date back to prehistoric times. My plan is to create the Greenburrow Shaft engine house at Ding Dong Mine. It was built in 1865 at at its peak employed 230 men and boys. By 1879 the mine was shut. You can see the engine house in the distance underneath Lanyon Quoit.

Until I post again happy sewing!
Karen H