Saturday, September 28, 2013

Seaside Rose Quilt

So I first bought the kit for this on sale in the quilt shop in Cochrane way back in 2005 when I was on a quilt shop tour with my best friend.  I made the centre and loved it.  When it came to making the border, I was really really frustrated because they wanted the 400+ little triangles that make the two rows of prairie points to be sewed  "using your favourite method of appliqué".  There was no template, but it was apparent the seam allowances were hand-turned under and sewn down on top of the 8.5" wide striped twill border.  This did not sit well with me; it seemed like a waste of fabric to lay down a strip of cotton on top of the twill and then cut away triangles and sew down the sawtooth points.  Moreover, they had not been generous in the least with the amounts of fabric in the kit, and I knew I needed to be very frugal.   Hmmm.  I stewed about this for some time...and put the top away...and left it.  Looked at it from time to time, nicely folded in one of my sewing room drawers, and felt annoyed.  Well, this summer I decided I needed to quilt all the tops that I have sitting around that are not quilted.  Although I do have lots of projects in various stages of completion, I only have 4 quilt tops not quilted at this moment!  One of them, a Round Robin from many years ago, is on my Avanté as I type too.

I like a challenge.  And, I thought, there is no way I am going to let this quilt sit one moment longer, once I realized how many years it had already sat.  (2005? That's not that long ago...uh, yes it is...8 years!!)  Besides it will look lovely on the bed in the guest room/sewing room in our Florida condo!  So, here is the first method I came up with for the first sawtooth border.  It is from the book, The Border Workbook by Janet Kime.  It reminds me of seminole piecing that I did years ago.  I cut 2.5" strips of each fabric, making the most of my striped twill, since I needed the blue part only:

I sewed these together, and then drew a line 1/2" down from the top edge on the prairie point fabric.  I cut them apart in 2.25" sections, and then joined them in pairs, matching the drawn line on one section to the seam on the other.  Sewed the pairs together into fours, etc., until I had a strip the length of the side of the quilt.  You can see the strip below.  From here I cut the strip into the prairie points, leaving 1/4" seam allowance above each point.  This gave me my 1.25" high (finished) dogtooths (huh? dogteeth? Never mind.  Prairie Points!)
Next, I sewed the strip to each side of the side of the quilt, and then sewed my twill striped fabric strips on.  I was really happy with how it turned out!  However, I had a lot of waste with this method, and my checked fabric had dwindled alarmingly, so much so that I now think that I won't have enough for the binding.  :-( 
So, I cut a 3 3/4" strip of the checked fabric, and crosscut that twice on the diagonal to yield my triangles.
Then I made a template for the triangle and used it to cut triangles out of the striped fabric, ensuring the pink stripe would be in the seam allowance.  I sewed these together into pairs, the pairs into fours, etc. until I had a long enough strip for each side of my quilt.  Yay!  A HUGE stumbling block had been overcome.  This process took me the better part of two weeks.  Maybe three.  When the sun is shining, I have to be outside...
And so I embarked on the appliqué part of this quilt, again feeling really annoyed at the mistakes on the pattern (they indicated too many leaves to cut; the smallest of the roses did not seem to appear on the photo of the quilt, yet it asked you to make 4 of them, and so on).  This took me WAY longer than I had anticipated.  I would hazard a guess that it took over a month.  I would not let myself sew on anything else until it was done.  Such willpower!  Wish I had it in some other areas of my life...

I used Steam-a-Seam, dabbed spray starch on the seam allowance using a Q-tip, and pressed the seam allowances under.  Then I appliquéd around each shape using monofilament thread and a very narrow zigzag.  For the centres of the roses (such small circles!) I decided to just do raw-edge appliqué with the monofilament and narrow zigzag.  On the stars, I used a Sulky blendable in 30 weight and a straight stitch.

I wanted to emphasize the seashells theme a little more, so from the seashell fabric I fussycut several and raw-edge appliquéd them in a couple of places on the border instead of more stars.  I really like the result.
So the top is now complete (see my very first post for a picture) and I have pieced the back.  I also made a custom label.  Here it is in the process of being written upon:
I visualize lots of feathers in the borders for the quilting motifs!  I am currently taking Angela Walters' Free Motion Quilting with Feathers class, and for the practice, I am using that Round Robin quilt,  made in a guild I belonged to out West.  This way it gets quilted, and I don't care if there are lots of mistakes on it, since I wasn't very happy with the borders that got put on my centre block.  I am liking it more though as these beautiful feathers are undulating their way around the quilt!  I will keep you posted when it comes to the quilting of my Seaside Rose!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I Love My Life

That sounds kind of cliché, but it really is true for me.  I am so very very happy.  I look back on my slightly more than half a century (now THAT'S sobering...) and I have usually been very happy in my circumstances.  However, since this move from "out West" to "down East" (not sure if that is just a Canadian or also an American vision of our countries) I just have so MANY moments now where I literally feel I am oozing happiness from my entire being.  No, it is not just a hotflash either!!  And I just want to SHARE this profound happiness that goes deep deep into the core of my being.

I am a fairly passionate person, and oftentimes I get so excited by what I see, or hear or feel--!  For example, this morning, I was walking my dog along the Greenway, a trail that meanders through a good part of Essex County, and the colours of some of the wildflowers just sang: goldenrod just glowing yellow, juxtaposed against the purple of asters, their green foliage providing the backdrop, and then a spattering of white star-shaped flowers nodding beside them, tiny aster types themselves, but I have no clue what they are.  Googled pictures and they may be autumn blooming clematis, but who knows.  The colours just took my breath away.  Nature's perfection.  I thought of a quilt immediately too!  No phone on me to snap a picture.  I love the trees in this town, so many different ones, my favourites the plane trees, since I first saw some and could not get over their "camouflage" bark (!) in Nice, France, along with the cottonwoods, HUGE, 100+ year old ones here apparently, and what I think may be black maple, as the leaves are black and maple-shaped.  Apparently if this is what they are, they are closely related to sugar maples and you can get maple syrup from both!  I often feel a need to just touch these trees, feel their energy (calm), think about what they have seen in their lifetimes.  I marvel at the architecture on Kingsville's beautiful old (many well over a century) stately homes, many of them know as Painted Ladies, I believe.  And then there's Lake Erie, shimmering in the sun, diamonds glinting off her gentle waves, or roaring with fury, surf crashing against the harbour wall, reminiscent of Hawaii, or sometimes in the early morning, still, like a mirror.

I guess it's due in part to having TIME to marvel at the clear blue sky, or the intense red of a cardinal, being so overjoyed to hear Baltimore orioles singing and chirruping to each other (I so loved them on our acreage out West), and then being humbled and thankful to acknowledge my body's ability to see, to hear, to get the picture.  I have always been a Nature lover, but it's that, along with time to sew, to create, time to read, happiness in finding a great yoga studio with like-minded people, joy at being able to share my love of yoga through teaching (the Universe lined up yet again to give me this job!), gratitude at sharing a garden home (aka semi-detached) with such a wonderful, SO similar, couple, more gratitude at living on a lane where there are such great neighbours, in a town that I've loved since the 80s, love that I feel for friends from the West to the south of Florida who keep in touch in so many ways, awe that I have a condo to fly away to for the winter months, love for all of my family, especially the best grandchild in the land. :-)

I think TIME is a key factor here.  Keeping life simple, (not having to work anymore definitely helps in that department!) enjoying the pleasures that have no $$ attached, yet are priceless.  I've tried to capture in words some of the deep, bubbling up bursts, almost tangible in their intensity, of utter joy I have in my being.  I wish everyone could feel this way. 

Oh, and let's be honest; there are many times in my days that I feel grumpy or ticked about something or other, but the cool thing is that these moments rarely last now.  I guess because I consciously acknowledge all my current blessings?  I have a long way to go on this journey of life, but I am making steady progress!

Saturday, September 21, 2013


And no, it isn't the name of a quilt block, although if it isn't, it should be... hmm, I think I feel another post topic percolating.  (Gosh, the alliteration there was not intended!  Think I'm giving away my English teacher roots...)

We were in Meijer a couple of weeks ago, and one of the foodstands was serving this salsa in cute little scoop tortilla chips.  Well, if it doesn't have meat in it, I have to check it out, so I did.  It was WATERMELON salsa!  I do not like watermelon.  But this looked intriguing so I had to give it a go, and after tasting my good friend's watermelon and feta salad last summer, which I LOVED, I thought, what the hek.  And, it was excellent!  So much so, that I asked the lady for the recipe.  She handed me a paper, and when I went to take it, she said, no, that was her only copy.  Ugh.  But then, lightbulb went on!  Sometimes my menopausal melon does not short circuit...I pulled out my phone and took a picture of the recipe.  I was going to type it into my phone, but it was VERY tiny print, and well, that is another side effect, or maybe main effect, of being menopausal: the up close and personal eyesight is deteriorating rather alarmingly.  Anyhow, here is a picture:

And here is the recipe, freshly typed out for you.  My next-door neighbour's husband, who, like me, does not like watermelon, also quite liked this salsa when I took it as our contribution to dinner the other night.  He had several scoops! Note: I also am not a fan of cucumber, although I will eat it from time to time.  My husband was chopping (my sous-chef extraordinaire) and he did not read or heed the peeled part for the cucumber.)  Needless to say, it was still delicious! And those of you observant types will notice that my tortilla chips (with flax seeds in them, very good) are in a fabric bowl, one I made from Linda Johansen's book.  ;-)

Watermelon Salsa

2 c finely chopped watermelon (seeded)

½ c finely chopped cucumber  (peeled and seeded)

¼ c finely chopped red onion

¼ c finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 T finely chopped fresh basil

2 T honey

2 tsp lime juice

1.         Combine watermelon, cucumber, red onion, cilantro and basil in a large bowl.  Add honey and lime juice and toss to coat.

2.         Chill for at least half an hour in the refrigerator.  Watermelon has a lot of liquid naturally in it.  Before serving, pour out the excess liquid so the salsa isn’t too runny.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ta da!

It is with rather a lot of trepidation, but also some excitement that I finally start a blog.  I've been blogging in my head for over 6 months now, mainly because I write a lot of newsy emails to friends out West, and I see the potential for a blog.  The title came from an email I wrote to my brother, where I reflected upon things I'd learned (i.e. what was going on in my melon...) during a year of changes, one of which was the official onset of menopause.  Another major change was that I relocated to Kingsville, Ontario, from Sherwood Park, Alberta, just over a year ago.  I actually MADE the blog in February of this year, but never went anywhere with it.  Time and fear were the two main opponents to this venture.  However, because I have finally finished a quilt top (as of yesterday!) that has taken me 8 years to complete, (7 of which it spent sitting in a drawer) I've decided I should share that experience in a blog, as well as my journey on my Avanté which I purchased in January.

I should say that before I posted this, it sat unpublished for several days.  However, I've learned especially throughout this past year of huge life changes for me, that the Universe gives you what you need, and so I thank people like Leah Day and Angela Walters, and blogs such as North Shore Days, Red Pepper Quilts, Cluck Cluck Sew, Pile O' Fabric, and many others whose blogs I've read...  

What struck me as I read these blogs, finally pushing me to just get over myself and post something, was the sense of community, the sharing, the friendships and connections I've felt through reading and subscribing to just a very few.  The excitement, the renewed passion these women have stirred up inside me is quite amazing.  I think it's a genuine love of quilting, a need to share one's accomplishments, moan about issues, not a need to brag or boast, yet getting the pats on the back sure do feel good I'm sure...the encouragements, compliments, advice,, I'm awed.  Most of the blogs I've found have been through Leah Day's link-up on Fridays, and as you know, one leads to another, and another...  If you have not heard of Leah, then google her right NOW!  She is one of the most amazing young women I have ever encountered in the quilt world, generous with her knowledge and expertise beyond belief.  I hope to meet her one day.  :-)

Anyhow, I guess I am going to hit "Publish" (it took me the past 15 minutes to figure out how to upload that quilt picture! Thank goodness for Blogger Help!  And "Choose File"...duh!!  I will post the pictures and story of why it took so long for me to finish this quilt top (hint: striped border with 400+ dumb Prairie Point instructions...) 

Thank you for reading!