A Week of Quilting

I haven’t posted for a while.  I guess this blog, like a lot of my crafting, slows down over the summer. Sorry.

It is fully autumn in Quebec.  Pottery class has started up again, and I’m itching to quilt and sew and craft and cook and make.

I just took a week off work and loaded a car FULL of sewing supplies and drove up to the cottage for a week.  I went up with my sister, then my parents joined me for a couple nights.  My grandparents came up for a day trip and then D. for a few days.

An itty-bitty turtle crawled around on the lawn for a visit too.

The weather was grey and wet for the first few days, then sunny, clear and beautiful the last few.

They grey weather and piles of sewing supplies allowed me to finish not one, but two (!!) quilt tops.

And I sewed a new curtain for the kitchen window.

The one that was there was hideous! Unfortunately I don’t have photos, but it was made of something synthetic, made to look something like lace with peaches on blue background.  I used some lovely fabric I bought at Purl Soho nearly three years ago.  That’s before I was really sewing and didn’t really know what to do with it.

I’ve always thought it would be a nice fabric for small curtains (these were a foot long), so it was a perfect fit.

I thought I had finished my nine-patch quilt months ago, but there was something about the border that bother me.

This is what it looked like:

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My friend Anie helped me figure out the problem with it was I didn’t like the way the stacked coin border melted into the flowery white fabric.  Actually I didn’t like the stacked coin border at all.

I tore out the border and at the cottage I fixed it.

(sorry for the washed out photos… I can’t seem to find any other place to hang this big quilt to take a picture of it where the colours aren’t quite so pale)

Final measurements are 94″ by 86″.  I’ve decided to get this one professionally quilted.  I just don’t like it enough to spend the hours doing it myself.

This will be the background fabric (which I love):

I also finished my pin-wheel quilt at the cottage.

I bought the fabric for this one in San-Francisco on a trip with D. in late April.

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I purchased without planning out the quilt first, so I was missing a few fat quarters when it came time to sew.  I added some fabric from my stash which worked out well.

Final measurements are 70″ x 70″ .

Overall I’m really pleased with this one.

There is a patch with a lot of green in the middle.  I messed up the direction of a few blocks when I was sewing them in a row.

It was worse, but I did some quilting surgery (take out two blocks in the middle and sew them back in) to help with the problem.  It’s not perfect but it doesn’t bother me too much.

I know what I’ll do for the back but need to buy some fabric.

That leaves me with only one Quilting WIP.  And It’s nearly done too!

I’m happy to have an almost clean quilting slate to start the Fall off with.

Time to buy more fabric.

NOTE: I’m linking up to crazy mom quilts‘ Finish It Up Fridays.  I love the linking party.  It’s a strong source of inspiration to get stuff done.  And to blog about it.

-marika

Scarf Rack

In 2007 I went to Barcelona.  One day I was browsing a store that sold pashmina type shawls and scarves.  They were beautiful. And expensive.  I didn’t leave the store with a new scarf, but I left with an idea. An idea as to how to display the many, many, scarves I already owned.

You see, I love scarves.  I’ve loved them since I was a little girl.

Silk, wool, cotton, long, narrow, square, handkerchieves, bright, patterned,anse neutral.  I love them all.

I started going to thrift shops when I was barely a teen and would buy so many cashiers would ask me “What’s with all the scarves?”.

So many, in fact, that displaying and organizing them became an issue.

My Barcelonian-inspired scarf rack solved that problem.

(I love hats too.)

My dad, who is a carpenter-extraordinaire, helped me to make this rack in 2007 (just to be clear, this simple rack is no accurate testament to his abilities).

About two years later I moved to Quebec City and eventually met Julia from À l’allure garconniere.

We have become fast friends (and colleagues to boot).

She loves scarves too.

Whenever she came over she commented on my scarf rack.  So, for her birthday, I decided to make her one to go in her dressing room.  That’s right, her dressing ROOM.

Her birthday is December 26th, so I made it using my dad’s tools and know-how over the holidays.

I also had lots of help from D.

Here are some loose instructions on how to make a scarf rack. If you want to make one too and have questions, please, ask away!

As always, gather your materials.

Steel rods (3/16″ in diameter), a piece of 1″x 4″, and a 2″x 2″ or a branch (not shown) and 4 screws (not shown).

For tools, you’ll need a metal saw, a wood saw, a measuring tape, marker and pencil, drill, drill bits, mallet, hammer, a file, and a vice.

The latter is very handy.

Cut your steel rods, and file the ends to make sure they aren’t sharp. I cut the rods into foot-long lengths.

Once your rods are cut, you’ve got to bend them.  That’s where the vice is particularly helpful.  We held an inch of the rod in the vice and used a metal mallet to bend them.

I used a 2″x 2″ for my scarf rack, but for Julia’s I decided cut down a birch sapling and use a piece of it.

Once the 1″x4″, and birch section were cut to length, and rods were cut and bent, I attached the branch to the back.  I figured out where the brach touched the 1″x 4″ and screwed them together through the back of the 1″x4″ using 1.5″ screws.

I then drilled holes with a 3/16″ bit about 1.5″ apart on the top of the branch..

The rods fit tightly into the holes so I had to hammer them in.

I then drilled two holes at each extremity to attach the rack to the wall and provided Julia with little plugs to hide the screws.  And voila!

I presented Julia with her gift at a dinner party.  As soon as Julia walked in the door, she pointed at my scarf rack and told her husband “See, that’s what I would like you to make me!”

I couldn’t help but smile, as it turns out Julia’s gift saved Simon some work too.

-marika

Rainbow Quilt

I finally finished my stacked coins rainbow quilt!

And now for the back:

This is the first quilt I’ve made for myself, and wow, does it ever feel wonderful to sleep under a handmade quilt!  The weight, the comfort, the colours… it all makes me very happy.

I started this project back in May when I had some time off work. 

This is the second quilt I started in my short quilting career.  I didn’t follow a pattern and I tried to cut a few corners and not make it too wide.  I realized it wasn’t worth it, ripped borders out and made the quilt bigger. I still think it’s a couple inches narrow.  If I remember it measures 87″ by 94″

This is also the first quilt I attempted to machine quilt. 

I started it before my Cartwheel Quilt, but finished the later first.  Before this quilt, I didn’t know how to properly prepare a quilt-sandwich so I packed up my three layers and took it to Emeline & Annabelle in Montreal for a workshop.

They were very helpful, but when I told them how I envisioned the quilting, Annabelle warned, “that’s a lot of quilting.”  She was right.

I don’t know exactly how many bobbins of thread I went through but I would say a dozen, at the very least!

But it was so well worth it.  I love the look.

 I quilted up and down for the body of the quilt and in big squares around the border.

I used a biased binding to finish off.

I still have about two meters of the backing fabric (which I really like) and some stacked coins left over.  The plan it to make cushions or pillow shams. One day.

First I’ll finish my nine-patch quilt top.  I have all 90 blocks done, the 6 1/2″ sashing sewn on to each block, and the lay out determined.  That’s a good chunk of the work done. Hopefully I’ll find the time to get most of it done in the next couple of weeks.

Fabric Covered Cork

My sister came to visit this weekend.  Knowing I was getting such great company helped me get through a particularly grueling week at work.  Keeping me happy meant thinking about the projects we could do together.

On Monday we texted back and forth to come up with some crafting ideas. She suggested making these:

It’s an easy-peasy project.

First gather your materials.

A round cork “board”. These are actually hotplates from Ikea.

Something round and solid that is at least 2″ wider in diameter than the cork.  I used the bottom or a spring-form baking pan.

Fabric.

Thumb tacks.

A cutting mat.

A roller-cutter.  If you like to make fabric crafts and you don’t have one of these, you should consider spending the money (about $35) to buy one.  They are incredibly sharp and very useful.  Using a cutting mat and quilters’ rulers you can cut long straight lines in seconds.  They help save a lot of time.  If you don’t have a roller cutter trace the circle onto the fabric and cut using scissors.

If you are using a roller cutter, mind your fingers and go slowly.

You end up with a perfect circle.

Normally I would centre the cork in the middle of the fabric, but because of the pattern I had to have it a little off-centre.

Use your fingers to pleat the fabric.  Pin with flat-headed thumb tacks every inch or so.

Voila!

 

We initially thought we could just hammer the cork into the wall with a finishing nail, but I decided to add a little ribbon.

I arranged my brooches, hung a couple pairs of earrings from pins and now I have a pretty display.

Crafting Goals

This week is a good week.  It has hardly started, but I can tell it’s going to be a good one… That’s because Pottery Class starts this week!!!

Clay ready for the kiln. 2009

I love all the crafting I do.  But I really love pottery.

Throwing clay on a pottery wheel is like meditating.  I have a colleague who pots and she explained it as follows: throwing clay requires 80 percent of your attention.  That leaves only 20 percent of your brain power to think about other things.  Which means you can’t think about much else. So it’s a form of forced meditation.

That’s as just an explanation I can think of.  I love plugging into some music or turning on the CBC and just having my hands on clay for a couple hours.  It gets everywhere, in my hair, it drips up to my elbows, my jeans get caked in it, and I inevitably have some smeared on my face by the end of a session.

I’ve been taking courses in the evening for about two years now, and at the beginning of each course, my teacher asks us what our goals are for the semester.  There is no pressure, but she says it’s a good idea to think about what we want to accomplish in the 11 weeks we have unlimited access to clay and to the studio.  I agree.

Last semester my goals were to turn thinner and spend more time decotrating my pieces like so:

I carved the waves after putting a layer of pigmented clay over the red clay.  I am very pleased with the result.

Last fall I was speaking with some colleagues about my pottery goals and they laughed, saying I should relax when I’m doing my hobbies and didn’t need to set goals for myself.

They are right, I don’t need to, but I want to.  I craft because I love it, but part of the pleasure is learning a new skill, getting better over time.  Besides, Pottery is so technical there is much to learn.  The least I can do is try to get a wee bit better each semester.

If I don’t take the time to make a list of the things I want to make, I find myself at the end of a semester and haven’t made all the little gifts I wanted, or tried a new project I meant to.

So here’s my list for this year.  It will get longer.

1- Make more of these: 

These are little pots I turn using a technique I learned last semester.  I make the bottom and the lid at once and with a little finishing work they fit perfectly together.  This one is quite small, only about eight centimeters in diameter, so I want to try to throw bigger ones.

2- Make plates.  Big ones.  Dinner plates.  With a nice lip, and well glazed so food doesn’t stick too much.

When you throw a piece it looses 12 to 13 percent of it’s size as it dries and is kilned.  I’ve often found myself thinking a bowl is nice and big this time, but by the time I’m ready to bring it home, it’s just another latté bowl.

3- Continue experimenting with designs and details.  Concentrate on quality and detail of my pieces reather than quantity.

4- Make a big bowl (that stays big, even once it’s kilned).  If possible I would like to try to throw six or seven pounds of clay.  That’s a lot of clay to centre, so I’ll have to pick my day and try when things are going well.

5- Work with more red clay.  I prefer the result of the glazes.

The colours are so much more vivid than on the greyish clay I normally use.

6- My last goal for now is to make more little things, little pots for mixing spices, mugs that aren’t necessarily giant tea mugs like I’ve gotten into the habit of making, or a little garlic pot like the one I made a year ago.

Those are my goals for now.  I’m sure I”ll come up with more as the weeks roll by.

Do you set crafting goals? If you do, what are they? Or am I just a little crazy?

Thanks for stopping by,

-marika