"handwork"

Make Waves - A New Class and a New Quilt

Make Waves Thursday Club

I didn’t mean to start a new quilt. But there I was on a video call with Marisa Cummings from Creative Thursday. We were chatting about her Thursday Club - a monthly exploration of the creative act for all of us - and my upcoming class. I can’t even say what was the initial spark, but a quick sketch on that call confirmed two things.

First, the Make Waves block is for my month teaching The Thursday Club. This Thursday join me as we make the block live! I will walk you through fabric selection, both hand sewing and machine sewing techniques, and finishing options. It’s okay if you can’t join us live, you can still purchase the event and learn all about the block. This will be the only spot I will be teaching it.

Make Waves the Thursday Club

If you ever take a class with me you know I am a big proponent of creating for the sake of creativity; that nothing you make in class has to be anything. That was honestly how I started with this. Just some class samples, no plans beyond that. I picked blue for the obvious wave reference. Then Marisa suggested we have some other colours because not everyone responds to blue. So I made a few other colours. I also make some solid versions, thinking the block itself is a miniature landscape. That got me thinking about sunsets. Suddenly I am making blocks in all the colours of a sunset.

So second, this is the start of a new quilt. It’s going to be a bit to make all the blocks. You know me, I don’t make small quilts.

In the meantime, make your own waves. Join us on April 4 at 1 pm MST to learn how to Make Waves yourself. This is a totally beginner friendly improv quilt block. I will be providing instructions for both hand sewing and machine sewing. Either way, it is deceptively simply yet has striking results.

Make Waves The Thursday Club

The Thursday Club is a wonderful initiative by Marisa. I’ve known Marisa online for over a decade. She continually inspires me and I can honestly say she has changed my life in some pretty positive ways. The Thursday Club is about giving ourselves just a little bit of time to explore creativity. Last month it was painting with Helen Dardik. Next month is another painting session with Marisa. And wait until you see the rest of the line up! Just one or two hours a month to explore, play, create. Just for you. Give yourself the gift, it is worth the investment in yourself.

Register Here

Pocket Squares - Improv Applique with Tag Fabrics

Pocket Square Improv Applique Quilt

Pocket Squares

40’’ x 50’’

So many of my quilts start with random ideas. Some times the ideas come to a full quilt, other times not so much. Happy to say that after a few years this quilt is now fully done.

It started with mini charm packs of my Tag Fabrics that I cut for giveaways. I had one left over. Enter the need for a hand work project. The mini charm pack made friends with a charm pack of Kona solids sitting on the cutting table. I snipped a corner off each minicharm and appliqued it to the charms. Each one has slight variations - improv in hand applique!

After finishing all those I decided that I would do another layer of applique, bringing Tag fabrics back in to it. Each fabric in this collection of mine is represented in the quilt twice - once small and once as the background.

Aurifil Straight Line Machine Quilting

NOTE: This is why I am no good at promoting fabric collections. I started this quilt 2 years ago when my first collection came out and I am only just finishing it.

It isn’t a fancy quilt. I’m not breaking any design barriers either. But it sure was fun to make! Another great example of the process being as important, if not more so, than the finished quilt.

Because it’s been a long time since I quilted anything myself I got back into the swing of things with some straight line quilting. Originally, I thought I might do a grid, but at first pass my lines are 1/2’’ apart. That would have been a tiny grid! With chronic pain plaguing me these last 9 months I didn’t want to push it too much. I was just happy to have got through basting the thing. The Aurifil thread in this purple ended up perfect.

If you’ve ever seen me talk or paid attention to my quilts you know how I love to throw contrast into the whole thing. In this case, I introduced a completely different colour with this teal and white binding. Which brings me to my first finish of 2019 and my first finish since May of last year.

Cheryl Arkison labels Tag  Fabric

Oh, and full naming credit goes to my friend Sharon at Color Girl Quilts. Every time I posted a picture of this quilt on Instagram she said it made her think of pocket squares.

Euroa Quilt Update - October 2018

Euroa Quilt English Paper Piecing

So, it’s been what? 17 months?

I started the Euroa Quilt in May 2017. One baby block at a time. 400 of those. Four together to make 1 block. 100 of those. Four of those then together to make a mega block. 25 of those. That’s the plan.

For anyone new here and to remind you all, this is the quintessential “Quilter Inspired by a Tile Floor” quilt. I snapped a pic in a doorway in a small town in Australia. That town was Euroa. It turns out this is not an uncommon tile pattern in Australia in the Mid Century. This quilt is an homage to that trip in so many ways,

Here’s where I’m at.

Modern English Paper Piecing

7 Mega Blocks.

30 Blocks Done (and 1 in final assembly)

3 more blocks prepped for hand stitching.

That might seem slow to you, but it seems about perfect to me. I do this project in quiet moments at the summer campsite, while hanging out at the pool/ballet studio/fencing gym, sometimes while watching TV, and on the rare quiet Sunday when I feel like handstitching instead of being interrupted reading. I didn’t stitch for 3 months last year as I struggled with tennis elbow. Things are a bit slow going right now as I don’t do a lot of sitting (newsletter readers know what I am talking about - subscribe below!) and you can only stitch so much standing up.

The truth is, I am in no rush. You’ve heard me say before that quilt making is about the process for me - the making more than the quilt itself. I absolutely love having such a portable hand work project. I really don’t care how long it takes me to finish. If I did then I would have made this smaller! As it stands, the baby blocks are 4’’. Which means the quilt as I have it planned will be 80’’ x 80’’ of hand stitched goodness.

Euroa Quilt Modern Scrappy Quilts

To assemble the quilt I sew the mega blocks together then sew those together in columns. Not sure why, but in my brain I made the far right column first so I am working right to left. I usually prep one or two blocks at a time, laying out what I have so far so that my random scrappiness is somewhat controlled - no two fabrics right next to each other. It does require vacuuming the studio floor and keeping the dog out. I can do the basting and stitching of each block while in any number of places, but save the mega block assembly for home, on a large table.

Oh, and I wholeheartedly recommend the flat back stitch when it comes to English Paper Piecing.

I’ve been asked if I am bored yet. Nope. Not at all. It is highly repetitive. I think if I were working on very controlled fabric/colour placement I might be. Or maybe I would switch to foundation paper piecing for that project? But the scrappy nature of my fabric selection and my infinite patience to pick it up, put it down, and pick it up again is keeping me from getting bored. Quite the opposite, I get super excited each time I finish a block!

The printable templates are still for sale on my Etsy site, if you are interested.

Japanese Scissors and a New Quilt

Names for Snow Quilt Improv quilting

It is well known among the people who live with quilters and sewers that our scissors are protected and precious commodities. Use them on paper and we might divorce you! At least, according to endless memes and jokes. All jokes aside, our scissors are such a fundamental tool in the sewing kit. Rotary cutters are amazing, but we all know not a thing can happen without scissors.

I've spoken before of my love for the Japanese tailor's scissors in my possession. I love these scissors so much I have two pairs.

Last month I decided that I would make a quilt only using scissors. Even for squaring up. Free hand cut squares made in to half square triangles. I had a stack of white/cream/neutral fabrics that needed to be brought to life so they were the starting point. I don't have much time these days to sew, so my Morning Make is deliciously important to me right now. Each day I make a set or two of these improv half square triangles. Slowly but surely they are adding up. And because we are having a proper winter here with loads of snow and a lot of cold weather the inspiration is quite literal. I've already got a name for this quilt: Names for Snow.

Scissors Quilt Improvisational Piecing

But back to those scissors. 

My scissors were brought in special by the great owner of Knifewear, a local shop specialized in Japanese forged steel. Their knives are beautiful, sharp, and amazing. About six years ago I asked the owner if he ever sees good scissors on his buying trips to grab me a pair. And lucky me, he obliged. They quickly became my favourites. They travel with me to classes and the requests from students for their own pair increased. So I asked Knifewear again. And guess what? They've brought in a couple of dozen for you!

Japanese Sewing Scissors

Can we take a moment to admire the awesome packaging?

Don't let it distract your from the incredible scissors inside though. We brought in two sizes: 240mm and 190mm. That is the size of the overall scissors, not the blade length. The handles are essentially the same.

Large = 4'' blade length with a blunt tip 

Small = 2 1/4'' blade length with a pointed tip

Let me tell you two things. One, they are ridiculously comfortable to use. If your hands get tired cutting these scissors will change that. And two, they are phenomenally sharp and precise. So sharp. An utter dream to use. 

Japanese Sewing Scissors

Knifewear is selling the scissors at their Calgary, Ottawa, and Vancouver stores. If you can get in there you will be spoiled by all the amazing things they have. (You've been warned.)

You can also buy them directly from me. I have a handful of each size available. If you are interested, then send me an email or direct message. First come, first served. Email is at the bottom of the page.  Cost below:

Small $93

Large $109 (Also comes with oil for the hinge)

Plus personalized shipping. Trust me, they are worth every single penny. And yes, keep these from grubby hands who might cut paper with them!

Cheryl Arkison Scissors