I'm Auntie M, the Snowdog Quilter. This is my quilting journey. Why don't you come along for the ride?
I'm a newbie quilter from (barely) Northern Ontario. I started sewing in January 2018 and quilting in March 2018. It's almost a year later and I am hooked.
These are my quilts and this is my quilting journey.
As promised, I did not have time to do a blog last week. We didn’t get that lovely A/C fully installed until mid-week. When they installed it, they ran all the piping out through what had been a boarded up window, so we spent the remainder of the week installing a new window and bricking around the pipes. The weekend was a family canoe trip, during which we punched 3 holes in our canoe and sank it. Thank goodness for family. We loaded the Snowdog into a cousin’s canoe with their pooch. The dogs didn’t try play at all – just cuddled up in the bottom and went to sleep – so that went well at least. Husband’s brothers tied the sinking canoe up to their canoes to tow it while we tried to bail fast enough to keep the canoe afloat to get back to the cottage. We sank twice anyways. That’s how bad the holes were. 😀 At least we laughed the whole time! It was a very old canoe we got for free, so we just made the best of the situation. Long story short – there was no time for blogs.
What I did have time to do was finish straightening up my sewing room. When the A/C guys came, they asked my husband to move everything … and boy did he ever.
I almost cried when I saw the mess … but messes are opportunities for organization!!! 😀 And since I’d just installed Fabrique Estates, it was the perfect opportunity to finish cleaning up and setting up! I’ve decided that painting is going to wait a year or two, but everything is set up where it’s going to go when the painting does happen.
See the quilt-covered dresser next to Fabrique Estates? It turns out that the top is the exact same size as my “small” cutting mat! I now have a cutting station that’s at chest height! No more back ache from bending down to cut!!! I can still put the big cutting mat on the folding table to cut long strips, but most of the time I’ll be using my cutting station!!! I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I’ve been seriously considering investing in hardware to get a collapsible cutting station. My back was injured during a car accident in college and I try not to strain it anymore than I have to. Now I have a cutting station!!!
I put the big mat on the regular sewing table to replace the small one getting moved to the cutting station. It got damaged during the AC installation – my husband left it out in the hot sun and warped it badly – but I’m hoping that it will slowly flatten out and be usable. If not, I think my dear mother-in-law may have another unused mat lying about that I can snag.
What I’m also really excited about is my pressing station!!! I made an ironing board out of … well, a board … from Home Depot, covered it in a layer of batting, then covered it in this cute Amy Butler fabric I found in the sale bin at Fabricland! I’m planning on painting the room a slightly more muted shade of the purple, so it’s going to match the finished room perfectly when I get there. And my rulers aren’t lying in a pile by my table anymore! An uncle of mine made this little shelf for me years ago as a girl in high school. It’s been up in most of my places, but I hadn’t found a room for it in our home. Now I have. And did you notice the shelf supports? That’s me! Auntie M!!!
There has been little to no sewing being done, but I did at least get caught up on last month’s block. The assigned block was a Dresden plate (or to be exact, a half Dresden plate). I got three blocks done for the class, which was enough to not get dinged with the $5 failure charge, but I wanted to complete my row anyways. There were five blocks needed. All were cut out and ready to go, so I took a couple hours on my last night of vacation to finish them and sew them together. Aren’t they cute?? They aren’t perfect, but I did the thing and I’m happy with how it turned out.
Now to get at least one of the next blocks done, plus get Grandma’s quilt pieced (due August 12). July and August are shaping up to be busy sewing months and it’s finally cool enough in the house to do the work!! Can’t wait!!!
In case you don’t remember, I was working on finishing an old Victorian cupboard that my mother had given to me when she moved. There were several coats of very ugly paint on it that I wanted to get off. I put a layer of paint remover on it and got it down to the last layer of paint. Then I threw a tarp over it, went on a quilt retreat, and got too busy to deal with it. 😀
When I got back to it, I started off sanding by hand. I did the whole top of of the cabinet by hand. It took two days. Half-way through the second day, I decided to dig out my husband’s belt sander for the rest. Even if I made a mess of it, it was never going to be an expensive antique. You can see that someone filled in half the doors with poly-fill when it split (which is the reason the thing got painted instead of varnished). Someday, my husband wants to take off those doors, dig out the poly-fill and replace it with epoxy, but for now I just wanted this project DONE. And I didn’t botch it too badly with the belt sander, so bonus! This work took a day, with one more day to hand sand the places that still have paint (mostly around the hinges).
At this stage, I needed to do something about the strip around the top piece. I sanded off most of it, but I couldn’t get all of it, especially in the corners. There’s also existing paint under the lip on the front of the top piece that I couldn’t get off. I decided to paint just those bits to hide the old paint, so off to the local paint shop I went for some black chalk paint. I popped on two layers of the black paint, then decided to move on applying a finishing oil to the rest of the cupboard. I’m not a fan of staining and varnishing – I prefer finishing oil. I chose tung oil over the family favourite linseed oil for a couple of reasons. Tung oil is an indoor-only oil (linseed protects both indoor and outdoor surfaces), but since this is an indoor piece, this is a non-issue. I only needed to wait 24 hours between applications for the oil to cure instead of the 72 hours for linseed oil!!! I would have been all month at this with linseed oil! Also, while they both have a strong wood sealant smell, linseed oil smells stronger and lasts much, much longer. Stinky quilt fabric?? I don’t think so!!!
One of the cool things that came out of the oil finish was the colour. As soon as the oil went on, the unit developed a reddish look. I really like how it turned out! Maybe it was made with red pine? That would account for the colour, at least. I wound up putting two coats on the front and side and four coats on the top. Each little cubby got a good scrubbing out with dishsoap and water, the unit dried while the last coat cured, then the fabric condo came inside to be installed in its forever home!
Now presenting – Fabrique Estates!
To make it easier to slide the fabric in and out, I cut up shelf liners from a couple of old pillow cases. I know there’s still a door missing. No worries – it’s coming eventually, it’s just not finished yet. I was more focused on getting the unit done and out of the elements. The last door can wait until the weather gets a little cooler. It’s been +30 degrees Celcius here all week … and it’s been even hotter inside than outside. We’re getting a new furnace installed next week and with it is coming central air conditioning. I CANNOT WAIT. We have a window unit downstairs in the living room/work room so we can get some work done during the week, but the unit we had in the upstairs bedroom broke at the end of the season last fall and we’ve been toughing it out until the installation date. When I was upstairs folding fabric and re-installing the latches, the sweat was just pouring off my face!! Sewing is officially on hold until after next week! I have a dream of getting the pressing board I’m making for the top done. I should be able to do most of that downstairs in the cooler work area, so maybe I’ll just focus on that for now.
Would you like a fabric tour? Of course! I’ll show you around! 😀
First, the missing square. In the bottom two cubbies are my backing fabrics. I have a couple of cool ones that I picked out on sale for future projects I have planned, but the rest are just old, clean sheets. They’ll be perfect backings for practice quilts or learning block quilts. The top right contains what is left of my mother-in-law’s stash’s raid. I put quite a dint in that stash! The left top is fabric that needs to be taken out, folded, and re-sorted. The heat was getting to me by this point. 😛 Cool thing about these little latches. One of the original latches broke when the unit was getting transferred home. This isn’t the first time this has happened – Mum already replaced a broken latch with one she found at a Home Hardware when we were still living in Orillia (before Y2K – yes I’m getting old!!!). After much hunting online, I found the neatest manufacturer in Quebec City – Old Quebec Hardware. They make antique-looking hardware for cabinets and one of the latches they offer was an exact match to the replacement my mother had added! The cost and the shipping were both reasonable (considering buying original hardware off eBay would have been FIFTY DOLLARS EACH PLUS SHIPPING!!!), so I bought two for symmetry on the lower doors. They look pretty good!
The Fabrique Estates would not be complete without my Tula Pink stash!!! I might have a wee little addiction going on here … but I have a solution that I’ll outline later. Picture 1: On the right side at the top are all my solids bundles. The second row of solids are the Tula coordinating solids, cause gotta match!! Right?? You can also see the Tula stash overflow at the very bottom with more to-sort-later fabric jammed in the middle. Picture 2: LOOK AT THE STASH LOVELINESS!!! 😀 The top two cubbies are mostly All Stars on the left with Zuma on the right. Both of these will eventually be made up into kid quilts for the niblings (the plural of niece and nephew … LOVING THIS WORD!!!) as they come along. In the bottom left, you can see the Pinkerville line that we all know is going into my eldest niece’s quilt this fall. And on the right … the line that started the obsession. It’s my De La Luna stash!!! This is going to be made into a quilt for Auntie M!!!! No sharing!!! Although … I ordered 2 meters of each fabric, so I’m probably going to have sooo much left over … MOAR QUILTS FOR AUNTIE ME!!! (not a typo 😉 ) If you’re super curious to see what the different lines look like, you can wander over to tulapink.com to see the different fabrics unfolded. Picture 3: Other little stashes. I’ve got my Boundless fabric bundles – you can see one on the bottom right with coordinated thread!!! That’s going to be for my sister’s quilt whenever I get started on it. You can also see more of the Fairy Lights glow-in-the-dark collection (originally destined for the eldest niece quilt before Pinkerville was unveiled to the world) and the cutest Peter Pan fabric you’ve ever seen by Sarah Jane from Michael Miller Fabric. I have a plan for that fabric already, but realized I needed just a little more to make it work. It’s in the mail now – as soon as it arrives, I’ll re-fold it to stack in the cubby like the Fairy Lights.
I’m still keeping my great-grandfather’s cupboard in this room. Again – fabric needs to be sorted a bit, but this is where I intend to store my kits, my patterns, and my fabric scraps. The fabric you see was supposed to be made into clothes some time ago … future me, to work!!
I emptied two large totes into the cupboard!!! That’s a lot of fabric! I definitely have more than I need at this point (although compared to other people’s stashes!!! But I’m not comparing …). I have a plan for the future – no more totes. I can only buy what I have space for in Fabrique Estates. If there’s no space, either a current tenant gets evicted or the new applicant does not get to come home with me. 😀 Tough I know! The exception will be for batting. I will turn one of these two totes into my batting tote. Batting isn’t cheap and it’s better to get it on sale than buy at full-price when you need it. THAT’S IT THOUGH. No extra fabric!! Here’s a Snowdog picture with the empty totes. He’s proud of me! 😀 He is also not enjoying the heat. I wonder if he dreams of snow?
I meant to get this post up sooner, I really did … but then I changed what I was doing, so I had to wait until I was finished. 😛
The mini-distraction project at quilt retreat was a charm square tote class taught by the always-amazing Kim Boaro of FibreChick. The idea was to have a project to use charm packs from our stashes, although Kim did have fabric and some charm packs for sale at the retreat. Charm packs are 5″x5″ pre-cut squares from a fabric line (roughly 40 squares to a pack). I impulse purchased the most adorable bee-themed charm pack last winter when we were first talking about getting into beekeeping, so I knew exactly what I would use for the project! Of course, that didn’t stop me from replacing the empty spot with a new charm pack from FibreChick … It’s going to be a Christmas present. DON’T JUDGE ME!!!
Since I’ve already made a charm-pack purse (although I cut the fabric myself for the purse, remember?), I decided to go with some of the suggested alterations she had to the pattern. Instead of it being rows of blocks, I decided to stagger the blocks so I wouldn’t have to focus on making my points meet (sneaky!) The one nice thing about this fabric line is that only one of the included fabrics is directional – the ones with the writing on them. I had to make sure that I laid them out the same way for each side of the bag (5 across, 4 down on each side). Of course, I didn’t plan for Morgan error, so when I assembled it, the writing was sideways instead of facing the up-and-down. I actually kind of prefer the look! And the writing is pointing the same direction on each side, so all good! I used the leftovers from one of the fabrics from the husband quilt for the liner and some of the cut off batting from the husband quilt … using up scraps!!! (I also bought the fabric I needed for the strap from FibreChick … IT STILL COUNTS AS STASH BUSTING)
After sewing the squares in rows and sewing the rows together off-spaced, the instructions wanted me to stitch in the ditch around the squares. It does look nice on the sample bag, but I wanted to try something different. When I eventually start to make a hexie quilt (little hexagons), I wanted to use a blanket stitch to machine quilt them. Perfect practice opportunity! And I got to do a little FMQ at quilt retreat, which always makes me happy. 😀 I played two rounds of thread chicken … AND WON!!! HAHAHAHA!!! Thread chicken is where you’re trying to finish your project (or your section) as the thread is running out and you’re playing to finish before it runs out. Also works for yarn – I do not win at yarn chicken ever. Thread seems to be my jam. 😉
I got the bag together just under the wire and thought it looked so cute! It’s an extra-big sized tote – it even comfortably fits a project box! I didn’t completely finish it off – I left the lining opening un-stitched. Why? Because there is supposed to be a pocket inside and I ran out of time to make one with my scraps. I was toying with the idea of not putting in a pocket. Because the tote is so big, I’ll probably be using it to transport large items (LIKE QUILTS!!!) to the beach or weekend visits, but in case I want to bring just the tote, it’s nice to have pockets to easily find keys or phones. So … guess what I suddenly decided I needed to do last night … at 11PM … while waiting for husband to come home from working nights … I don’t do well when I’m left alone in the house.
First step – fix the liner. I had to rip the sides out of the liner so the pocket fit the width of the bag. The only reason any of this worked was because I made the liner too big by accident when I first made it. At the time, I thought it wouldn’t matter because it’s in the big and you can’t see that it’s a little big. Thank goodness I just left it as-is! I also ripped open the bottom of the bag a bit more so I could run the stitches on the pocket sections easier and to add stabilizer better. Since the pocket has lots of fabric and stabilizer, it’s really heavy, which means I have to bolster the single layer of fabric liner so it holds the pocket without collapsing. This is not the right way to add stabilizer AT ALL, but it was what I had to work with. On to the pocket!
I sewed all the liner scraps together to make a pocket, but it was only big enough for one side, so I got the mis-cut scraps from the drawstring bag to make up the other side of the pocket. Popped a little stabilizer on the back of the pieced side, stuck it into the liner, and then re-stitched the liner sides. I decided to use a specialty stitch on the pocket bottom and to create pocket sections. Guess what specialty stitch my sewing machine has … HONEYCOMB STITCH!!! How perfect does this look??
Finished product! Both sides! I hung them in my lilac trees for a pretty background. Love me some lilacs. 😀 Now to finish off a big quilt to carry in it!!!
I mean … go to the beach and get some sun so I stop looking like a mountain goblin …
It’s time to catch up on my block-of-the-month quilts! I’ve been slacking so hard lately.
First- bye bye coral orange peel block!! I’m going to miss you!!!
Second, my FibreChick BOTM. I still had a week left before it was due, so I got working on it. My block has 4 main colours, 1 accent colour, and the background colour. Most of the other colourways have one main colour. Usually my blocks get rotated with 1 of 4 main colours, but for this block, I got all four colours in it.
It’s a cute little pinwheel block!
I rather enjoyed putting this block together! We were using 4-at-a-time and 2-at-a-time half-square-triangles (HSTs). It gave me a chance to use my magic wand!! 😀
It is so handy! It gives you a perfect 1/4″ line to sew along for HSTs. In some cases, I drew a line from point to point. On others, I just lined up the ruler on the points and drew the stitch lines with the mechanical pencil. It beats using your 1/4″ foot to make sure you stitch a straight line.
It’s magic, baby. 😉
The last time I had a block that had all four of my main colours was my first block, so I pulled my first block out. I think I’ve made a lot of progress since I started class back in September.
The next class is the last class of this year. Since that will leave me with 10 blocks, I intend to buy two extra blocks to bring the total blocks up to 12, which will give me A COMPLETED QUILT!! Whoot woot!
Third – my Cottage Quilter BOTM. It is a Dresden Plate this month. We have to make 5 half-plates. A Dresden Plate is like a big sunflower or sun. Cutting out the petals took me TWO WHOLE DAYS. ugggggggh. It did give me a chance to watch HBO’s Chernobyl. WOW. I’m not a huge fan of HBO shows – too much jingly-jangly people parts for my taste – but this show was INCREDIBLE! I highly recommend! Although, full disclosure – the miners were mining in the nude (historically accurate) and they did not … strategically frame the scene. Everything was captured. Other than that though – I actually want to re-watch it already. It was that good.
Next week – hopefully finishing the Dresden Plate so I don’t get dinged with a failure charge.
Basically, people show up for a weekend to sew in the same big room together. They can be at a remote location where you stay overnight, but this one was in town, so I got to sleep in my own bed and get woken up by my own dog at 6 freaking AM dog … The tears are real. Especially since my own husband kept me up to 1AM because he missed me all day (AWWW).
I went into this retreat with one objective: get started on the quilt that I’m making my brother-in-law for his wedding. Since none of my in-laws are aware of my blog, I can discuss it here without ruining the surprise 🙂
I am planning on making a log cabin quilt. Traditionally, it was one of the first quilt patterns that a new bride would make with all black blocks on one side, all white blocks on the other, and a red “chimney” in the middle. I decided to modernize it a bit by working in some grey. I mocked up this block with some spare fat quarters (quarter-of-a-yard of fabric, in case you’re wondering) and I like the look. It makes a nice, big block that shouldn’t take too long to make up into a quilt. 18.5″ blocks, 5 blocks across by 5 blocks down will put it somewhere around 95″. I’m putting 5 different different colours in the chimney from a fat quarter pack. I intend to use the rest of the pack to make matching cushions for them for Christmas. I asked Kim from FibreChick to put together a kit for me and picked it up last week. It’s going to be SO PRETTY!! 😀
Step one to making a log cabin kit – pre-cut all the strips. As you can see from the sample block, it’s made up of a bunch of strips – in this case, 2.5″ strips – cut to different lengths. THIS PART IS SOOOO TEDIOUS. The first cutting to make up enough strips to do at least one block took me an hour. The subsequent partial cuttings (just cutting the strips you ran out of piecing the last block) took 30-40 minutes every time and I had to cut between every block. It’s just a lot of cutting. On the second evening, one of the women took pity on me and introduced me to a magic device.
It’s known as a Stripology ruler. You put it on top of the fabric and cut in the gaps in the ruler to cut a bunch of matching widths. The one I used let me cut a bunch of 2.5 strips out of all my fabric at once, which will cut down my cutting time down (see what I did there???? 😀 ) as I’ll just have to grab a 2.5 strip and sub-cut it the proper length. I can get a block sewn in about 15-20 minutes once I have the strips. The quilt needs to be pieced and quilted by September. I can do this!
I got 7 blocks done over the course of the weekend! I started playing with the layout of the blocks to see how they look together with the colours and figure out the pattern. Log cabin patterns can make a lot of cool sub-patterns. Because this block is so big and there’s only going to be 5 each way, I’m just going to stick with the standard pattern for now. I totally want to do another log cabin in the future, though – the cross pattern looks SO RAD.
I feel pretty good about that, especially since I got distracted by a hosted project that took up a whole day. Guess what the next blog post will be?? 😀
This will be a short update due to the fact that I haven’t touched my sewing machine for a couple weeks. I KNOW … I’m shocked too! I was on vacation all last week and intended to get some sewing done then, but we were just too busy! The weather was lovely all week for a change and outdoor work had to be done. We have an undeveloped bush lot outside of the city. It’s the property my family lived on when I was a teenager. Husband and I acquired it from my parents when they moved further north and we’ve had plans to start developing it. Step one – put in a road. This took up a couple of days worth of distractions scheduled for this week.
We also had some home improvements to complete – and complete, we did, although it took three days to do so.
We were supposed to take one day off to relax, but I couldn’t help myself – I got started on a sewing project. Not one that involves a sewing machine, but one that is going to wind up in my sewing room.
This is an antique Victorian cupboard that my mother used as a book catalog while we were growing up. It’s going to be my fabric storage solution! I’m super excited to see how it works out! The first layer of paint is mostly off (the shiny stuff – it was already peeling off). Underneath is a blue paint and a red stain (the red stain is still on the inside of all the doors). I removed the hardware from the doors last fall before putting the cupboard in storage. One of the clasps needs to be replaced, but I found a website (Old Quebec Hardware) where I can get replacement latch for $8 a pop plus shipping. That sounds expensive, but my next best option was $40+ on eBay! I’ll pay the $8 + shipping (probably no more than $15 for Canada Post) instead thanks. It’s a cheap price to pay to have a beautiful piece for my room! Plus, it’s an exact match to a replacement latch my mother put on the cupboard years ago. It’s probably the same company that still makes them. Isn’t that cool? I’m a little tempted to replace all the latches now as they are obviously starting to reach the end of their life cycle, but I think I’ll wait until I lose a couple more before doing that.
I have an idea for the top. The width and length is comparable to a ironing board. I’m planning on building a padded surface to use for pressing. It will save space as I won’t need to keep my ironing board out. I’m really excited to get this finished! I still have a lot of sanding to do, but I’m hoping to have it finished and installed by next weekend! I was going to try to paint the room first, but I think I’ll hold off on that. I need to get some time in on my sewing machine soon!!!
It all started when I got my new ball winder. I had a smaller, crappier one that would eat and break my wool if the ball was bigger than normal. It worked just fine when I was working on baby quilts and kept ripping out small balls of yarn, but I finally got sick of it and decided to upgrade. I placed an order at my local yarn store, Stix & Stones, and she kindly offered to resell my old ball winder for me. I wound up with half the cost of my new ball winder paid for!
The second stage happened when Stix & Stones got in a shipment of Black Cat Custom Yarn and as soon as I saw the colour Transmutation – I had to have it! I have mentioned my eldest niece before here. She (and by extension, my sister and her family) are currently working on controlling epilepsy that appeared in April 2018. The doctors aren’t sure what is causing it, which is normal for a large amount of epileptic patients. It can take some time to manage with medication and management can take even longer to do in children. In Canada, some conditions (like cancer) have colours associated to them for fundraising and identification purposes (cancer in general is yellow, breast cancer is pink). The colour for epilepsy is purple. I found out when my niece, who has been a pink princess girl since she could talk, announced that her favourite colour is suddenly purple. While the Transmutation yarn has many colours, including pink, the base colour is a rich royal purple that would be perfect for her. I thought this would make a perfect little sweater. You can see below that a it wound up in a range of beautiful colours when I wound it off my yarn swift. You’ll notice I took a ton of pictures – I found it so cool that this sweater appears to change colour based on the lighting!
I tend to get all my knitting and crochet patterns from Ravelry. I found the pattern I wanted on Ravelry for free, but when I followed the pattern to the designer’s website (KT and the Squid), she had it available for a small fee. If you remember from a previous blog, I like to support designers if I find the cost to be fiscally adequate. Maybe that’s not a fair reason, but it’s a reason I am comfortable with. I found the $3.50 USD (I think was the cost?) to be a fair price and bought the PDF version. You can find the pattern for free on her website if you like it!
This is technically a quick crochet. By technically, I meant that the body and one arm of the sweater were completed in the span of a weekend. When I got to the second arm, I had a horrible block. For five days … I crocheted the arm, realized I did it wrong, ripped it out, crocheted the arm wrong again, ripped it out, and went to bed mad. 😛 To be honest, I was watching TV while I did it, so while it was annoying, it was my own fault for not counting properly while I was doing it.
Once the sweater was made, I had the better part of a ball left over (the sweater required 2 balls with a third ball needed to do the second arm). What to do with the leftover wool … how about a sweater for her little sister’s toy Bear! I decided to do a first – make my own pattern! Plus, it gave me an excuse to pull my old doll out of my memories box (because I needed a model, of course!).
Once both sweaters were done, I decided to try my hand at blocking! I’ve never blocked before. Blocking is where you wash your wool projects, shape the wet project to the correct proportions, and let it dry. It’s a bit of a process, so I thought I’d use this project as a test to block. It took two full days for the sweaters to dry out. This is partially because of the time of year – here in mid-May, it’s a little cold and a little damp. The furnace is off for the summer (it’s not cold enough to need a furnace right now, just sort of grey and rainy), so the laundry isn’t drying out as fast as it would in the winter with the furnace or the summer in the sun.
Final step – sew on the buttons! I dug into my button collection to see if I had anything suitable. I found a beautiful burgundy-red big button for my niece’s sweater. I can’t remember where I found it, but I’ve always thought it was so pretty! For the toy sweater, I decided to use some pearlesque pink buttons that I’ve had in my button box since I was 8. Sometimes holding on to things pays off!
My Saturday class last week got bumped to this week, so I have two BoM classes this week (Thursday night and Saturday morning). It’s going to be a busy quilting week on my vacation week next week! YEAH VACATION TIME!!! I am bound and determine to get out on the lake next week. It’s going to be fridgedly cold, but I can’t wait any longer. In my books – it’s summertime!