Just in time for Spring, I’ve completed my new Learning Curves Table Runner. While I’ve sewn lots of curves in garments with sleeves, patchwork curves can be a bit daunting. This is where quilt master, Johanna Masko, always comes in to save the day. Just filter a new technique, pattern or idea through Johanna and it will come out being more efficient, logical and quick. the workroom is spoiled by her ability to simplify all things patchwork – English Paper Piecing, Machine Paper Foundation Piecing, Cathedral Windows, Double Wedding Ring Quilt, etc, etc.
This table runner is a fun and fast project. With just twenty blocks, I was able to practice my curved piecing enough to feel confident. Following Johanna’s great insight and techniques, I finally understood what to adjust to get those curves pretty perfect.
I love how this quick project can give a new look to our dining room. Note to self : make more patchwork table runners.
Next up, Johanna’s take on the Lone Star quilt. Superstar Quilt class starts tomorrow!
My first totally new quilt project of the year is Johanna’s Mod Blocks pattern. I’ve been wanting to make it for ages and I finally pulled together all my fabrics in January. The quilt top is simple to make. I think the thing that took me the longest was figuring out my final layout and keeping it all organized while I was sewing it together.
Right now it feels like I’m on a kick to start as many new projects as possible. I’m running with this feeling and I’ll worry about finishing them later. I’ve got a few more of Johanna’s patterns lined up, starting with Trapezoids. I have this crazy idea that I want to make 12 quilt tops this year. Let’s see what happens.
There are so many stages to a craft project… dreaming, planning, starting, in progress, finishing touches and for me, photography & blogging. Any given project can stall in one of the stages for a week, a few months or even years in some cases. It’s probably not a good idea for me to compile a list of all the projects that I have in these various states of completion, I imagine it would amount to 50+ projects, at least. I try to look at it as having variety, so that when I’m in the mood for something and inspired there will always be ‘just the thing’ for me to work on.
I started this awesome Houses pattern last year in our Machine Foundation Paper Piecing class. You can see my progress posts here and here. The quilt top came together during the class , but I didn’t end up basting and quilting it until the end of the year. Finally about six weeks ago, I pulled it out and took it into the back yard for a photo shoot. It’s my first wall hanging project and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be living on a wall at the workroom.
Machine Paper Foundation piecing is a pretty AWESOME technique. The method that Johanna teaches is wonderful and does not require you to sew through the foundation paper. The joy of this is that you don’t need to spend time at the end ripping bits of paper out of the back of your project. Paper piecing allows you to create shapes and designs that would be really difficult/impossible to patchwork otherwise. Last week, I made a pieced ‘M’ block, using this technique. It was pretty easy to just draft it out and then piece my design together. So fun! Next up, I want to try some of the designs from Yoko Saito’s book.
Many of you will be very happy to know that our quilt master, Johanna Masko is busy working away on a line of patterns of all her quilty goodness. For those of you who can’t join us at the workroom in Toronto for her classes, you will be able to purchase her designs online. YAY! Houses is the first release of her pattern line with several more to follow in the next few months! They will all be available in our online shop as they are released.
For more paper piecing inspiration, take a look at this little gallery that I made on flickr.
I’ve finally finished and framed my Intro to Cross Stitch sampler! I had finished up the alphabet part of the sampler during the class, but was determined to frame it in a hoop and wanted to do a round border around it. Lucky for me, Johanna accepted my special request and designed this sweet leafy round border.
Since this border is round and the pattern is actually quite random, it took a little bit longer for me to stitch. The rectangular border that Johanna also designed for the class is a much easier border to stitch since it is repetitive. I hardly ever like to take the easy route, especially when it comes to aesthetics. To be honest, I miscounted when I was more than halfway done and had to take out quite a few stitches. The end result is totally worth it. I am so proud of how my sampler turned out. It’s now hanging on the wall at the workroom, so if you’re in the shop you can see it in person.
Cross stitch appears to be a fairly easy form of needle work. The reality is that there are always mistakes to avoid and tricks to learn that make any new craft so much better from the very start. Tricks and tips are Johanna’s specialty! I don’t know how she does it, but man! are we lucky to learn from her. (psst! have you seen her new class?!) What I didn’t realize about cross stitch was that it requires some strategic thinking to keep your work tidy on the back side. I found myself feeling like I was playing a game of Tetris, as I was pre-planning my ‘moves’ (aka stitches) with my needle. I totally enjoyed this aspect of cross stitching.
Also! I really had a chance to get a feel for the new Cosmo embroidery floss we got in. I love it!! Firstly, we have 443 colours, so the possibilities are endless. Secondly, the cotton floss is so silky and totally doesn’t tangle. The other thing I’ve recently started using are needle threaders. They make all the threading in hand quilting and needle work SO much easier. Clover makes a floss embroidery threader and it is now a permanent part of my sewing kit.
I have big cross stitch plans now that I know what I’m doing. I’m envisioning making linen napkins, coin purses and wall hangings with cute cross stitch motifs. Here are a few things on my cross stitch project list:
Farm Folk Stitchettes by Wee Wonderfuls
Some of the incredible border patterns in the DMC Library Cross Stitch booklets
Cute Kiwi from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery‘s Fruit of the Month Club
Wildflower Garden Cross Stitch book by Kazuko Aoki (anything from this book)
Master Collection : A-Z Cross Stitch by Kazuko Aoki (anything from this book, too!)
Cosmo floss colours used in this project : 226, 225, 2224, 224, 2223, 223, 2222, 436
I’ve been so curious about cathedral windows since I first heard of them from Jill. It seemed like a very complicated fabric origami process that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. In situations like these, it’s best to call in an expert. Lucky for us, Johanna is not only a quilting whiz, but she also has an uncanny knack for cracking open complicated patchwork and devising a clever and simplified solution. (see – English Paper Piecing & Double Wedding Ring Quilt)
At the first Cathedral Windows class, an eager group of quilters gathered round the table to learn Johanna’s wonderful new method for this sculptural patchwork. It does not disappoint. This method is quick, easy and saves loads of fabric too. I wanted to make a cathedral windows pillow to go with the new quilt I’m working on. The quilt will have lots of greys and purples. I chose to use the Moda Crossweaves as my background fabric. It has more texture than a plain solid and I love the soft feel of it. I had a really hard time choosing my ‘feature fabrics’ to go in the middle of the windows. I wanted to make them all different, but in the end went with some Liberty of London scraps from a coat I made a few years ago and a plum tonal print. I left the squares in the outer perimeter without feature fabrics and I really like the way that looks.
For my next cathedral windows project, I’d like to add some to a piece of clothing!
March 6, 2010 of 365 : pile of grey ‘scraps’ from johanna for my hexagon project
The English Paper Pieced hexagon project that I’m working on is using all shades of grey with splashes of orangey red. I have quite a few greys in my collection, but I was hoping to have only one or two hexagons of each fabric. I have estimated that I’ll need over 225 hexagons to make my pillow, so that’s a heck of a lot of grey. I asked Johanna if she might open up her vault of fabric (over 20 years of collecting) and snip a few small pieces for me. She generously handed over an incredible stack of delicious grey pieces from her huge collection and each piece is a real gem. (I actually do mentally envision Johanna’s insane fabric collection as a huge vault full of fabric. She seems to have a neverending stash of amazing prints.)
After a lot of hemming and hawing, I’ve finally decided on my colours and fabrics for my Double Wedding Ring quilt. The class is finally starting this Thursday!
Originally, I was thinking red, blue and cream. This palette has been refined to coral, aqua, navy and creams with multi-colours. The inspiration basically came from all the new fabrics that came last week. The new Tula Pink ‘Neptune’ collection and Anna Maria Horner ‘Good Folk’ collection are so pretty that I can’t resist including them in this quilt. The background will be a soft grey Anna Griffin fabric.
I’m really excited, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of Johanna’s quilting classes. Her clever tips and tricks are always so invaluable. If I can stay on track then it’s possible I’ll have a completed quilt in four weeks!
Sometimes I feel like a bit of a craft tornado, blasting through and leaving behind me a trail of unfinished projects. It’s certainly not for lack of interest, but usually I’ve overloaded myself with too many things at once. Perhaps you have sensed this about me already. Perhaps you are like this too? Too many ideas and ambitions and not enough hours of craft in the day. I have resolved this year to return to many of those abandoned items and finish them up, once and for all.
This sampler quilt was my first priority. I took Johanna’s sampler quilt class last January! It was one of the nicest class experiences I’ve had. Seven heavenly weeks of working alongside a superb group of ladies. The lessons I learned about quilting and sewing were invaluable. I fell a bit behind the class because of my shopkeeping duties and before I knew it, the class was over and MONTHS had passed.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been working on finishing this quilt. I even made an embroidered label. Apparently, I shouldn’t do freehand embroidery. The label is not my finest work and the next quilt label I do will be done with more care. (and hopefully skill!)
My patchwork potholders gave me good practice on doing continuous binding, so I found that part very satisfying. As soon as I had finished attaching the binding I threw the quilt in the washing machine and then the dryer. The satisfaction of looking at my puckery, washed quilt is incredible. In fact, I’m sitting on the couch right now underneath my sweet sampler and it’s so incredibly cozy.
I’ve got two other quilts in progess that I hope to finish this year – my queen-sized quilt and a nine patch quilt. Truthfully, I’d like to make ten other quilts this year but I’ll try to be realistic and account for the fact that I should sleep a few hours each night. Johanna is hatching up some exciting new quilting classes, so in the very least I’ll certainly have to ‘test’ those out.
For now, I’m basking in the sublime feeling of having finished my first quilt. I feel like I’ve been granted the honourable title of ‘quilter’, at long last.
This weekend was Quilt Sunday and I had a mission to get my Queen-sized quilt basted. Of course, I enlisted the help of the workroom’s quilt master, Johanna. How lucky am I to have a quilt master to call upon in times like these?
Basting is the crucial step before proceeding to quilting all the layers of a quilt together. Basting a huge quilt is no easy task and my quilt was even larger than the workroom’s largest cutting table. We positioned the quilt back face up and with the sides edges on the table and the ends hanging off. The sides were taped down with masking tape to hold the backing taut. A large piece of cotton batting was laid on top and carefully smoothed out. The quilt top was layered next with the face up and then we started pinning. Curved basting pins are the best to use for this and we used a LOT of them. Over 950 curved basting pins placed approximately every four inches. The edges were thread basted, as a final step. Basting is important because it keeps the three layers (quilt top, batting, quilt back) from shifting as you do your quilting. I’m planning on hand quilting this mammoth quilt. I’m just going to be doing vertical lines of stitching, evenly spaced. Sounds easy enough. I have no idea how long that part will take me, but I’ll be reporting on my progress.
I have a couple fun projects on the go that are keeping me busy (busier than usual), but I’ll be done them soon and of course sharing them with you.
NOTES: I realize that not everyone out there is into quilting, so some of this talk can be confusing. Here are a few brief definitions if you’re trying to follow along:
PATCHWORK or PIECED WORK: Sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design.
BASTING: Sewing with long loose stitches to hold material together. When basting a quilt, this is the step once you have all three layers of your quilt ready to put together. Basting can be done with thread, curved basting pins or a combination of both.
QUILTING: Sewing through two or more layers of material to attach them together, after you have basted them. This can be done on a sewing machine, longarm quilting system or by hand. The quilting can be done in a pattern or follow the patchwork lines.
This week the workroom turned one. Actually, today (October 17) is the day I opened to the public last year and made my first sale… to Johanna, the workroom’s quilting instructor. Thank you for coming by that day and buying some fabric from me, Johanna. I was so nervous cutting fabric for the first time! It was actually almost two weeks before I made my next sale. That was a bit nerve wracking.
Tuesday night was the anniversary party and I was just so overwhelmed at how many of you dropped by to say hi and celebrate this special occasion. I was even more overwhelmed by the fact that so many of you brought sweet gifts and beautiful cards! It will take me a few more days to send each of you my personal thanks, so I wanted to make sure you knew that it meant so much to me that you were there. Your thoughtful gifts and words remind me what a beautiful and vibrant crafting community the workroom supports. the workroom exists for you and because of you.