Monday, June 30, 2014

Yoga Mat Tote Bag

Hold on to your MATS!! I've got a finish in time for Melissa's A Lovely Year of Finishes, Sew BitterSweet Designs, June linky party.  There will be LOTS of pictures in this post!

I blogged here that my June goal was to finish my yoga mat tote bag.  Ha.  As in start it, more like.  And finish.  Well, I did it!

Here is the finished quilted fabric.  I had to take indoor shots yesterday afternoon as we had quite a run of thunderstorms.

I am really happy with it.  I love this Isacord thread, as did my girl, Avril, and I love the threadplay in many of these designs.  Many of them are Leah Day's of her 400+ Designs on her blog.

I drew the "om" Sanskrit symbol you see in the second square down, second column from the left.

This was my view as I quilted it, so the "om" symbol had to be done sideways
I also quilted my name in the bag, but it is now hidden in the casing and only "ndra" is visible!  Like the om, I had to write that sideways too. . . which was a brain exercise in itself! The design in the far right column second row from the bottom is my own, based on a motif in the lining fabric, a swirl in a flame shape.

I got a better picture between storms, but in the front hallway, so you have some natural light.  It was just soaking wet everywhere outside, and I wanted to get cracking on making the damn darling bag.
This shows the richness of the turquoise thread better
I used my blue ruler (I feel so much more confident and am much more accurate now, despite having that scary accident with it) for the two straight line designs in the top row, and the diamond design in the second row from the bottom in the picture above.  The top square on the far left is one of Leah's, and the other two are based on Angela Walters' Dot to Dot Quilting designs, a Craftsy class I took last winter.

I free-handed the two feather blocks, well, everything is freehand, except for the om.  I am really happy with how they both turned out, especially the  one with the pebbling all around it.

The om, I traced, and then used an X-Acto knife to cut out the symbols and get the circle as round as possible.  I used a Bohin chalk marker, my new favourite marker, to trace the stencil I made onto the black, as well as registration marks for the "brackets" design around the circle.  

It stands up nicely
I decided to have the lining fabric on the outside of the bag strap, with the black side facing the bag.  I LOVE the lining fabric.  It's Jason Yenter's "Winter Wonderland" for In The Beginning fabrics.  The main fabric is, of course, Kona cotton.

Looks pretty amazing lying down too, if I may say so!

I sewed in a small pocket just below the casing I made for the drawstring. Cellphone, car keys size.

I decided to apply a grommet for the drawstrings to feed through as opposed to two buttonholes.

That Buddha insisted on being in every outside shot!
Bella HAD to figure out a way to lie on the new quilted item!!
I can't make this cat any cuter. 

I've written a bag tutorial for the bag, which I will post tomorrow.

Bag Details:
Fabric:100% cotton
Size: 29.5" tall by 22" circumference

Linking up with Marelize's Anything Goes Mondays, and Melissa's A Lovely Year of  Finishes!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Quilting Definitely IS More Fun Than Housework!

Cynthia is sooo right.  I didn't get much done in the sewing world or the housework world today!  I spent some time on the computer, visiting a few blogs, and responding to comments on mine.  I am tickled pink to have two of my finished scrap-a-palooza quilts as well as the flimsy for another pictured on Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework!

I could have sewed for a bit this afternoon when I got home from my yoga class.  Instead, I chose to join my good friend Jude next door, reclining on her oh-so-comfy lounge chairs on the patio.  Always a good decision to spend time with her.

I started vacuuming, later in the afternoon, but didn't get it finished.  Instead, I had a phonecall from my daughter, Dayna, which was much better.  Then off I went to teach yoga.

I could have finished vacuuming this evening, but I chose instead to go downstairs and sew for a little bit.  I'm loving making these cute little 6" blocks from Tula Pink's 100 Modern Quilt Blocks.  This is the quilt I didn't realize I was going to make.  And I am making two.  Remember I said my Higher Self must know what I'm doing?!  Here are the latest ones:
I'm using scraps from her Parisville line and mixing it with some of the Acacia line

I chose to make the blue and green one this evening instead of finish the vacuuming.  Another good decision for today!  So far I've made six blocks.  94 to go, LOL!  I was able to renew the book out of our library.  I think I know what I will be buying with the remainder of a gift card I have.

I did get my two walks in with Rocco, a long one this morning, and such a beautiful morning, well, entire day, it was!  This evening, on our shorter walk, I saw a groundhog.  These are entirely foreign to me, as we didn't have them in Alberta.  They are so cute!  Rocco was oblivious this time.  However, he did find a treasure:

which, after smelling and inspecting thoroughly and only picking it up after I nudged it, giving him permission, he proudly carried all the way home!  He had to go and show Jude.  She had to show me a comic strip from yesterday's paper...

Talk about timing!

Quilting, visiting, walking, yoga. . . all much better use of my time than doing housework/schmousework I'd say!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thankful Thursday #7 Living Your Dream

It does happen.  And I know perhaps I go on about it, but I need to express my joy.  Isn't that so much better than expressing negativity, showing irritation, or ranting about things?  However, I do admit I do all three. . . hopefully just not very often!

Those who know me know how deeply I love yoga.  I gave a Yin yoga class last Saturday for the 'hood once again on our beach in celebration of the Summer Solstice.  Once again this year, it was pure serenity, magical, in that the lake was gently lapping, the birds were calling and flitting around, and two butterflies even came down to flutter amongst the yogis, who were unaware, as their eyes were closed.  The sun came out halfway through the hour-long practice.  Prior to the gathering, one of the neighbours asked me if I would be open to having the Tibetan prayer flags she and her husband had bought from monks when they were on a retreat near Algonquin.  These prayer flags had been blessed by the monks, and so it was with reverence that I said most certainly, yes.  We used a shepherd hook from our garden and a piece of rebar from my husband's garage from which to suspend them.  Sorry it's not the best quality, as I took it with my phone.

The flags encircled us with love and healing and good chi.
I realized today on my walk with Rocco, which is a moving meditation of itself, much like the Ashtanga yoga practice

View of Lake Erie this morning from the path in Lakeside Park where I walk each day

that about 10 years ago, although I did not know it at the time, there was one particular catalyst for a huge change in my life.  One of my dear friends found out that the cancer she had been fighting had spread; it was basically everywhere, and she'd been given just 2 months to live.  It was heartbreaking.  I made her a quilt, with some help from another friend, as well as donations from several staff members to help cover the cost of the materials.

That was the first quilt I had made with such incredible vibrations as I sewed; it was almost tangible.  I don't have a picture of it, but I do know that it is well-loved.  IS.  Ten years later, she lives on, vibrant, full of humour and wisdom, she has an incredible depth of empathy, love; in short she is a testament to the power and positivity of the human spirit.

The all-too-real possibility of losing someone close to me made me really stop.  And think.  Think about the fragility of this life, acknowledge the importance of living each day in the best way one can, revel in the beauty in every single place on this planet, appreciate loved ones.  Would that I succeed in these areas every day.  However, I do keep trying.  
A Catalpa tree in full bloom - that is a 2-storey house it towers over!

She it was who got my serious journey in yoga started in 2001, by introducing me to Yoga For Today, with its wonderful teachers under whom I had the honour of first learning about yoga.  She it is with whom I love to discuss books we’ve read.  Because she is originally from Toronto, and lived there for the first 20-odd years of her life, she is the one person who really understands the pull I feel to this part of Canada.

A few steps past the view of Lake Erie, towards the 100-year-old "magic" bridge
She has been the most supportive, the most positive, given the most kudos, from the moment I first told her of our plans to quit our jobs pre-retirement age and move away.  She recently started knitting, and inspired me to pick up my needles and get back into it myself, although I do admit, I don’t knit as much as I’d like to!

She made me the blue and purple infinity scarf and I made the orange one with a pattern she gave me

And so I just wanted to express my love, gratitude, and appreciation for her, my happiness that even though physically, we are far apart, she has enriched my life in so many ways, yoga not the least of them.

And that brings me full circle to that hour of serenity sharing yoga on the beach last Saturday for which I am so thankful.  I am living my dream.  On so many levels.  And I am eternally, forever and ever, so very grateful.

Catalpa blossoms

 Note: I have NO idea what gremlins caused the font to change!  And even though I highlight and click "default font" it won't go to my regular font. . .


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Madly Off in All Quilt Directions

I have ADHD of the quilting kind.  Here's what I did today:
Always seems to be an animal in my quilt pics. . .
I decided to go with my gut and with Cynthia's suggestion to not put more white sashing on before the yellow border for my June scrap-a-palooza quilt.  I'm really happy.  I wanted it to just flow into the border, and I think with a frame it would have give the quilt a different feel.  This way it's very soft.  I've named it Floral Dreams.
Animal. . . or two!
I still had quite a lot of smaller scraps left, and I just want to get rid of them already!  So I remembered seeing a link on Nancy's blog, PugMom Quilts to two adorable makeup bags on Moda Bakeshop.  So I checked out both, this one and this one.  I cut the fabric for both, but made the Quilted Patchwork Pouch.  Here it is in the first stage:

And here is the finished bag!

Sooo cute!  The only problem was I didn't have a D-ring, nor did I have the right size of zipper.  After 45 minutes of searching for both a D-ring and a zipper, I gave up.  However with the zipper fabric stops (tabs) Julie has you do, my 18" zipper became an 11" one in no time.  And when I was making supper, I opened the utensil drawer, and saw Bella's laser mouse pointer, with this slip ring on the end!  Voilà!  I love the pull tab!

This is a great tutorial.  My only problem was that my zipper fabric stops got kind of crunched and do not lie flat.  I ripped and redid one, to no improvement.  I must be missing something when you sew the entire bag around the edges, as I cannot seem to get the tab to lie flat.  I had a similar issue with the Ellie bag from Fabric Mutt.

Other side

I quilted it on my Bernina with Sulky Blendables 30 wt in a soft variegated pastel run of colours.  How I love that thread.  If you try it, just remember to back off your upper tension and use a Topstitch 90 needle.  I will definitely be making more of these in different sizes.  Gifts!

Leftover yellow fabric from Floral Dreams for the lining
 And the other direction was the Avanté, making the quilt sandwich that will become my yoga mat bag.  I feel like I've gone backwards in ability on the Avanté for whatever reason, and I am still pretty low down on the learning curve of quilting on a longarm.  I used the micro handles for the pebbling which helped, but I have a "bump" that grabs the machine in one spot, and I cannot seem to figure out what is causing it, grrr.

I've used motifs from a few different designers here: Leah Day, Angela Walters, Kathy Sandbach, and Cheryl Malkowski.  I need to get this one finished for A Lovely Year of Finishes!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June Scrap Quilt

It doesn't have a name yet.  This is the June Scrap-a-Palooza quilt from Cynthia of Quilting is More Fun Than Housework.

Here it is on the design wall.

The quilt is a brick design.  I had about 7" by 21" of the fabric, called Simplicity, left over from the quilt I made for Brady, before his birth.  Once he was born a boy, I decided there wasn't enough blue in it, so I made him a different quilt with lots of blue, and kept this one myself.  I also used some leftovers from Seaside Rose, as both lines are 3 Sisters for Moda Fabrics.  Gosh I love Moda!  Have I said that before?  Um, yeeaahhh.

I made the bricks 3 1/2" X 7" as that was the optimum size given the scraps I had.  This gave me 6 bricks per chunk of fabric.  I also had some smaller pieces, so I worked those in, piecing as necessary.

I decided to add in 1 1/2" wide finished white sashing to give the quilt more length.  I would have loved to have all these soft fabrics play together, but the quilt would have been too small.  Here is a quick tip about piecing these long rows:

After trimming your horizontal strip as well as the sashing to the length you want, in my case, 46 1/4", find the centre of each strip and finger press it to make a crease.  You can drop a pin in the crease if you like.  Line up the creases, or pins and pin the sashing to the row.  Match and pin the ends as well.

Now you can ease in and distribute evenly any fullness and have every single row end up being 46 1/4"!  Another tip is to place whatever strip has a little fullness in it on the bottom, tugging gently on the top piece.  The feed dogs will ease in the extra fullness perfectly.

Quilt top all sewn. . . or not?

It measures 46 1/4" X 48", which is a baby quilt size.  I do have 30" left of one of the yellows.  Do I put a 3" finished border around the entire quilt?

Should I first add another white sashing across the top and the bottom?  Or do I add the yellow only to the sides?
Here is what yellow all around looks like.  This will mean the quilt will finish up at 52X54", so a lap quilt.

Any thoughts are welcome!

And I've now started following Maureen of Maureen Cracknell Handmade. I've visited her blog in the past through a link of a link of a link kind of thing, and been intrigued and impressed with all she does.  Cynthia's post today sent me there again, as the name rang a bell, and, well, I want to keep up with what she's up to! And maybe win some fabric. . .
AND, once again, I am linking up with Marelize in South Africa (don't you just love her name?!) of Stitch by Stitch for Anything Goes Mondays.  Check out her blog, if you haven't; she does beautiful work, and on a Bernina!  Gotta love Bernina!  ;-)

Friday, June 20, 2014

I Spy Quilt

I didn't have time to post this yesterday, which was my intent for Thankful Thursday, but I am one proud Nana!!  And so very thankful for the most wonderful little boy in my life, my grandson, Brady.

He graduated from kindergarten yesterday.  I cannot believe where the nearly 6 years has gone since his birth.  He will be six this summer.

Of course I made him a quilt for his birth.  Hmm, think I've loved scrap quilts for SOME time. . . every single piece of the fabric was from my stash or scraps.

Being a Leo, he had to have lion fabric on the back.  This is some of the leftover fabric, used for a magic bag cover.

I quilted his name into the quilt.  I sewed and quilted it on my Bernina.

Although he slept under that quilt every night from birth, last year I decided he need a bigger quilt for his bed.  This one isn't a twin-size, but it's a decent sized throw.  I used the Cloud 9 pattern but made it as an I Spy quilt. Here it is on the design wall:

I bought all the fabric at Rainbow's End Quilt Shop in Dunedin Florida, except for a couple of pieces I added that I found in JoAnn's Fabrics.  The red is Kona from one of the local quilt shops I frequent, Alma Sue's Quilts.  The backing is Dr. Seuss that I got at another of my LQS, Cotton Patch Quilts. Gotta spread my love!

I am pretty proud of the FMQ on this quilt.  It was only the third quilt on my new-to-me Avanté.  Leah Day was my go-to gal for all of the designs.  Sorry that the lighting isn't so great on some of these pictures.

I used a primary colours variegated King Tut 40-weight thread on the red and I'm so glad I did, as it gave it so much interest.  It did produce more lint than a finer cotton, but it sewed like a dream.

If you've read a some of my posts, you'll know that I always work my name as well as the person's name to whom the quilt is going, into the quilting.

I did a meander over all of the busy prints.  I used a red Isacord here.  Again, it sewed like a dream.  There is nothing I've thrown at my Avril she won't handle.

I just could not resist doing some special designs in that gorgeous red Kona cotton, his favourite colour.
His name, the "special secret" in his quilt that only he and I know. . .surrounded by pebbling
The good old Gothic D for all things Detroit; my husband grew up in Windsor, aka "south Detroit"
Leah's Tree of Life design just quilted
The design after washing
Her instructions for quilting that design without a mark are just excellent, and I couldn't (and still can't) believe I just drew that with the machine!
Pretty pleased, in his fave shirt, sitting on his new-fave quilt, which is folded in half here

All his favourite and meaningful things are in the I Spy parts: lions, swimming, Elmo, diggers, football, hockey, ABC, superheroes, Star Wars, dinosaurs, and so on!  We had fun playing I Spy with it, as he was right into I Spy at that time.  We took it to him last May when we drove out to Alberta, a 3-day trip from here.  It is so hard being so far away from this child of unbelievable character, poise and gentleness, as well as talent at all things sports, particularly swimming!  He is always so happy and at ease in the water, and always has been, right from his first bath.  He was fussing ahead of time, but as soon as his body was immersed, he relaxed and kicked his fat little legs quite contentedly!  We cannot WAIT to have a week of him all to ourselves at the end of this summer when he and Brianne are flying down here!

Quilt Details:

Size:  54X70
Fabric:  100% cotton with a 100% flannel backing; Warm 'n Natural batting
Pattern:  Cloud 9 by Villa Rosa Designs
Quilted with  Isacord and Superior King Tut

Update:  Duh!  Forgot to link up as I'd intended, with Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict as I am definitely doing a happy dance because of Brady, who makes me happy every single day, but even more so with his kindergarten graduation! And I've now also linked up with Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sandra's Soapbox

I'm on my soapbox today.  I know Christa has a regular "Christa's Soapbox" on her blog, a feature that I do enjoy reading.  I am not starting a regular thing, nor am I copying her, but a couple of things spurred me on to writing this post on a topic that has niggled at me for oh, probably years.

"Who do you make your quilts for?"
  "What do you do with all your quilts?"  "Why do you make so many quilts?"

I've been asked these questions many times over the years.  And I often feel a twinge of guilt when I respond:

"For myself."

"Some I give away."

"I love to drape them over chairs, over a bed, hang them on a wall."

"I sleep under 2 or 3 in the summer months, and 4 or 5 when it's colder."

"I just do."  (make them)

" I love to play with fabric, love to sew, love to play with colour, try different patterns."

A lovely pile of some of my quilts!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Breeze - A Finish!

The seagulls took off, but one circled back!

My Erie Shores Quilt Guild meeting was tonight, so I sewed on the binding this morning and then spent 3 hours this afternoon hand-sewing it down to the back.  Threw it in the wash on delicate, into the dryer for 20 minutes and with no minutes to spare before the meeting, found 10 anyhow to run down to the beach to snap a few fast pictures for my blog!!

The wind was blowing a gale all day, and it flipped the corner up without my help!

Draped it over the beach picnic table for interest.

Here you can see the yummy texture.  I did a chain of wave-like swirls in the white bars between each block, with smaller clusters of swirls on either side of the bar between blocks.  In my last post, I had wondered about changing the thread from the variegated grey to a pure white. . . I decided to go with a Sulky rayon in pure white, and I'm really happy I did, although the Aurifil did sink into the quilt.  I cannot say enough about my darling Avanté, my Avril, just taking whatever thread I throw at her, and rarely asking for changes to her tension.

I knew I would do this design because of the swirls in the one fabric!  I used Angela Walters' Dot to Dot method in one of the blocks.  You can see the half diamond motif in the turquoise block above.  I made myself use the blue ruler I got (the same one Angela uses), and I really noticed improvement over the course of the quilt!

However, while attempting to stitch in the ditch by the edges of the quilt where I get a lot more bounce in the quilt, and while using my left hand to guide the machine, holding the ruler with my right,  (opposite to what I usually do), the hopping foot hopped over the edge of the ruler, and tried to quilt through this thick plastic ruler, NOOOO. . . oh I said a word that would make the air very blue, as a chunk of my ruler flew who knew where, the needle broke, and a HOLE was ripped into my quilt, because my left hand wasn't programmed like my right to shut the damn machine off!!  I don't stitch in regulated mode, where the needle moves when your hand moves; Angela recommends that you don't, so you get the proper feel of the machine and you will regulate the stitches yourself.

The hole was created by the blunted needle punching through the fabric for several stitches until I stopped the machine.  I did find the half moon chunk of blue plastic and Krazy Glued it back on.  I really liked using the ruler, especially for the half diamonds, but also for the straight line down the centre of the lemon yellow fabric you see above.  I FMQ-ed the flowing lines on the sides of the block however.  Not bad, I'd say!  As for the torn fabric, I've left it as is, and it wasn't noticeable after washing.  It's not a show quilt thank goodness!

The label.  I top-stitched it onto the backing and then quilted through it.  You get the idea of how much quilting there is on the quilt.  The backing is Festive Forest which I bought from Fat Quarter Shop in their sale section, such a good deal!

Full view of the quilt.  Such a light and airy feel to it; I just love it.  I bound it with the Cobblestones in grey.  I really like the way the Aurifil stitched by hand; I found it didn't twist and twirl as much as Gutermann does. As for fuzz build-up, I found it the same as the Gutermann.

Fantastic wave action on the lake today!

Quilt Details
Size: 58 X 63"
Fabric:  100% cotton:  Textures line by Angela Walters + two pieces from her Legacy line and Kona cotton in Snow; backing is Camelot Fabrics "Festive Forest"
Pattern:  Off Track by Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew
Quilted with Aurifil variegated grey 4060 and Sulky rayon pure white 1001

I am linking up with Karen's Sew Darn Crafty linky party of Sew Many Ways as well as Lee's WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!