Sunday Morning Quilts

More Scrap Sorting By Colour

Sorting scraps is a constant thing. You can't just do it once and expect it to perfectly maintain itself. Unless, of course, you are awesome and put every single scrap away the second it becomes a scrap.

I will always advocate sorting by colour. It is what Amanda Jean and I encourage you to do in Sunday Morning Quilts. By far, it is the easiest method not to mention the most inspiring. We also talk about having a special category or 3 for uniquely sized pieces like strips, little snippets, or triangles.

While teaching a Values Plus class recently I, with my students, decided to try piecing based on colour as well as value. I was so excited by the results I took my scrap sorting to the next level. I took my big bag of strips and started sorting them by colour too.

The process started on the front steps, while the kids rode their bikes in the evening light. My little guy decided to stop his maniacal ride to help me. But he was so, so tired that he had to do it laying down. Hence the piles of colour radiating around him. Awesome kid.

And now I have one more section of scraps all sorted by colour. It really is a good thing.

Sanity Sewing

Sometimes you just have to get 'er done.

This quilt has been in the works for a few years now... And I got on top of finishing it a few months ago (well, finishing the top). I was making good progress with some commitment when I hit a snag. I'd made a mistake. My very last block in the very last row was the wrong one. There are two block styles in this quilt and I used the wrong one in this spot. And all I had to do at that point was sew the rows together to finish the top. Annoyed with myself and frustrated, the quilt top sat for weeks at that juncture. Because all I had to do was make a slab, draw a foundation, sew a new block, remove the old one, attach it, and then sew the rows together. It sounds like a lot of work, but it wasn't. I was just in a mood about it.

This week I found myself in a real need to sew. After a few weeks of a bad cold that wouldn't go away I longed to get to the machine. Those are the moments when I usually start something new or default to random improv. Instead I forced myself to make that last block. And it took me about 30 minutes, if that. Not counting a break for Hot Wheels with my boy.

Then I was struggling to get the rows sewn together. With all those slabs, the angles, and some skinny bits on the edges each row is bulky and lining things up was tough. Not to mention that I kept the freezer paper foundation on each block because of the crazy amount of bias edges. Then I caught Bari J. Ackerman on a Periscope broadcast extolling the virtues of glue basting (a la Christie Fincher). Bingo!

I've used glue basting before for Paperless Paper Piecing in a class with Christie. And I've heard of other people glue basting for regular piecing. It did not occur to me to use it this way. I'm so happy I saw that Scope because it totally made it easy to get this top together. A thin line of glue in the seam allowance instead of pinning (or hoping for the best) holds the fabric in place, once heat set. Then you can go ahead and sew your seam.

And get the quilt top done.

Right now this top has the temporary name of Shh....

Pincushion Party for Good Neighbors Fabric

This is the first pincushion I've ever made. And I would only do it for Amanda Jean.

I was thrilled when I got the news that she was designing her first line of fabric. I say first because I'm positive there will be more. While I couldn't automatically picture what she would do, without a doubt there would be red polka dots and versatility in the prints. And most definitely, there would be no purple.

Good Neighbors is the fabric line, available exclusively with Connecting Threads.

It is a mix of prints in sunny colours and they all play well with each other, and pretty much any other fabric you might have. Simple lines, pretty prints, good colours. Personally, I really appreciate the low volume prints, especially the diagonal stitch line. (Hello binding!) They work so well with others, hence the name.

It's been five years since Amanda Jean and I started working on Sunday Morning Quilts together. Five years. One of the questions I am most often asked at trunk shows is whether she and I are still friends after the process. People, we are better friends. I trust her implicitly, she encourages me like no other, and we challenge each other in healthy ways. Our friendship launched our quilting careers, but it is the friendship that matters more than books sold or classes taught. I would give all that up if I had to just to stay friends with her. (But I won't lie, I am extra happy that I still have it because then the times we get to see each other now are usually business expenses.)

When Amanda Jean asked me to be a part of her launch tour for Good Neighbors I jumped up. Not because I wanted to make a pincushion, but because I want to support this amazing woman. Bonus, I really like my pincushion.

Just a little house. One for now, but there should be another so that I can pretend she is in one sewing away and I am in the other, chatting through our open windows.

Check out all the other pincushions on the Pincushion Party for Good Neighbors fabric.

Amanda Jean 
Melissa Corry

And go here to buy the fabric itself. Available exclusively with Connecting Threads.

Amanda Jean has also designed a number of patterns that work so well with the fabric. You can buy complete kits - with fabric and pattern from Connecting Threads as well.

You can also leave a comment here for your chance to win a charm pack of Good Neighbors fabric. Tell me about your favourite neighbour or what makes you a good neighbour.

Open to US and Canadian readers only. Sorry. You can leave an entry until the end of the month.

PS Do you know how hard it is to NOT put that U in Good Neighbors? Then my autocorrect adds it in anyway.

Quilts in the Wild - Of My Home

While I was cleaning up and sorting quilts to put them on my awesome new racks, I decided to take inventory of the quilts at home. These are the quilts being used, abused, loved, cuddled, and slept with in our home. I did not style any of those photos. Just making that clear.

This guy lives for the kids. Needless to say we can't keep him off either of the girls' beds. All day, all night, when he isn't following them around. We rotate the quilts on the bed a lot.

My other daughter's bed. With two quilts, one ostensibly to keep the dog from dirtying the other one, but I usually find it on the floor.

My son's bed. The neatest of the bunch, but when you only weigh 35 pounds and have a full size bed only a small portion gets messy. This particular quilt is from A Month of Sundays.

Two quilts for two people. I've been quite chilly at night lately, so I have my voile quilt layered on top of my QuiltCon quilt.

And, just for the record, the beds usually get made in this house. One of the morning chores for everyone. But the day I took these pictures it was The Evil Genius' birthday and all rules went out the window. She may have had a bowl of whipped cream for breakfast too.

Books and quilts, a perfect combination. My little guy was snuggling with his gift from Amanda Jean and reading this particular morning, when not running around like a maniac screaming.

On the basement couch. Full on TV watching and family snuggles happen here. A baby quilt gifted when the Monster was born coordinates perfectly with one of the quilts from You Inspire Me To Quilt. Photograph by Christy Swanberg.

And upstairs in the living room. The only somewhat neat spot, but I have a habit of straightening it up after I do the dishes every night. Good old Missing U hanging out there, from Sunday Morning Quilts. Shh, but it is covering up a rip in the upholstery.

Between the quilts on the racks, this collection, and various quilts hanging in stores as class samples and promotions, as well as those out for publication, I have 51 quilts in my possession. Woah.

Quilt Storage Solution

Forgive me for being cocky, but I have too many quilts. My husband has been saying that for years, but I'm finally cluing in. There are only so many beds in the house, so many forts to be built, so many little legs to cover. I do give away quite a few quilts too, but the supply at home continues to grow. There is just no stopping the compulsion to create.

Over the winter the spot to store the quilts became the table in the family room. It is supposed to be a table for playing games, doing puzzles, and gathering around as an alternative to the TV. We've used it as a fort or secret TV watching space as well. In truth, it's main function was to hold the precarious stack of quilts.

Nothing was functional - including the quilts themselves.

Then I discovered these racks. Long story short, I found myself with unexpected free time and a case of the grumps. So I went to Home Sense, which is a discount home wares store along the lines of TJ Maxx or Marshalls for my US readers. I went in hoping to find a little table for my son's room, but found these racks instead. I picked up the two they had to test out at home.

(See, I thought I had a genius idea for quilt racks that my husband could make, but I also wanted the quilts off the table before 2017. His business builds cabinets so he has all the tools, but not the time. We are the cobbler's kids with no shoes.)

The racks are PERFECT. Each one easily holds 10-15 quilts. I was so pleased with them that I drove across the city (something I hate doing) to another HomeSense, fingers crossed, to get another one. I'm a firm believer that instead of getting more and more storage one should have less stuff, so three will be my maximum.

As for the brand, to direct you to get your own, if so inclined, I can be of no help. They simply have 'Organise' on the label. I've done a quick search on line and can find nothing. Maybe you will have better luck. For reference, they seem to be a painted or powder coated lightweight steel.

There are currently 32 quilts on these racks.

I should address the sheer volume of quilts. As soon as your write books, have trunk shows, and teach, the quilts pile up. And you can't give them away because you need them. Not always, but enough to need them readily accessible. There will come a time when I don't need to pull out every single quilt from Sunday Morning Quilts, but for now I still need all that scrappy goodness around.

Not to mention that I'm still making, still trying new things. And we won't mention what would happen if I actually finished the quilts on my Quilts Under Construction list!

Sarcasm and Orange

We are a sarcastic household. So much so that The Monster's third grade teacher has made a point to comment that most kids don't fully appreciate sarcasm until they are closer to twelve. Not our kids. (She was fully getting it when she was 3.) So when my husband constantly tells the kids "Orange is for nerds!" whenever they wear orange they all know that he is being a smart@ss, not serious. Especially when he says it wearing his own orange jacket.

Not surprisingly, my son's favourite colour is now orange.

After cleaning up my studio this week I set about to sorting out some storage. One of the bins I opened contained a few of these blocks - samples for the Scrapper's Delight class I sometimes teach. With our family conversations and my boy's recent birthday I felt totally inspired to combine everything into one bright quilt for him. I added more fabrics from my stash and the scrap bins to compliment the first few blocks. Each block is currently squared up to 12.5'' x 12.5'', just like the original pattern.

How fun is this quilt? I am having fun making more blocks. That's a good thing, because to get this up to bed size I need to make 49 of these in total. But the blocks are super easy and a great way to unwind at the end of the night.

Solid Sunday Morning Top

The nice thing about so many Quilts Under Construction is that I can work on nearly anything, depending on the mood I'm in. Last week I folded up all the quilts in the house. It made me realize just how many low volume options there are here. It made me want to play on something decidedly NOT low volume. Variety is the spice of life.

Not to mention that I want some quilts on the girls' beds that are not light and show every spec of spring mud and dog hair.

That meant I pulled out my all solids version of Sunday Morning. It was also the kind of mindless sewing I needed after tackling some garment sewing.

One night I made a few more sets of blocks. After counting I realized I was only 5 blocks short of making this a full size quilt. Rather than dig out my old machine for the girls I set them to laying out the quilt. They LOVE this part of the process. After bed I got the last blocks made and started assembly.

While they were at school yesterday I finished the top (and back!). It was a lovely nearly spring day that saw us stay at the park for 2 hours after school. Needless to say, it was perfect for photographing the finished quilt. A handful of kids took a break from their play to help us snap the picture. I love that their friends have a tiny hand in the finished quilt now and they got to show it off for them. (Although we couldn't necessarily remember who made what block.)

Working with solids is a challenge, for sure, for me. I adore prints. It is also, however, a welcome break. Exercising my visual cortex in a new way was like trying a new workout or different dish at your favourite Italian place. It's good to break out of the norm once in a while.

I am ever thankful for my Calgary Modern Quilt Guild friends for donating scraps to this project. There is no way I could have collected that variety of solid fabrics. There was no rhyme or reason to the colours chosen or the order they were sewn together. Just grab and sew kind of piecing. I did slow down and become intentional with layout. After the girls did their thing we moved a few things around together, but then I just made sure there were no bars of the same colour next to each other or all the whites or blacks bunched together. I needed to make sure it had a bit of balance.

Now, let's see if I can get them to help we wash the dining room floor so we can baste it together this weekend...

Low Volume Shoeman's Puzzle Update

This week's old project to work on was these Shoeman's Puzzle blocks. I was originally inspired by Denyse Schmidt's version in Modern Quilts Traditional Inspirations. Hers, however, is a two colour quilt.

The low volume prints mean the pattern is quite subtle, but it is there. That's because I used various shades of solid white for contrast. Print will always contrast with solid (as long as it isn't too tiny of a print) so the design still comes through.

I am so in love with these blocks. A lot of the quilts I've finished in the last while I've given away, or they are for teaching. This one, this quilt will be mine. With the slabs it captures the essence of my first book, especially because it is mostly made with the scraps from second book. Most of the slabs get made while I'm teaching - I use these as demo sewing. I feel it represents everything about my quilting as a career to this point. There is no way anyone else will get this quilt.

There are still more blocks to make. How many, however, is still up for debate. In my head I'd always pictured it 70'' x 70''. A generous lap quilt for me. For a brief moment I considered making it 80'' x 80'' so it could go on one of the girls' beds, but thought better of that. When the rows are an odd number the pattern is even. Normally I am all about the symmetry, but I kind of prefer the look with the uneven number. 50'' x 70'' is fine for a lap quilt, but I don't think that is enough to get the full effect of all the secondary patterns formed by this pattern.

So, I guess that means I have at least 21 more blocks to make. At least.

Update on ALL the Quilts Under Construction

Periodically, I must take stock of all the quilts Under Construction. I actually find it quite freeing, not depressing. It's a good exercise for me - what have I been doing, am I still interested in what is here? The last time I did this was 18 months ago, so it was definitely time for a check-in. And yes, the list got bigger.

Check out Sew Mama Sew's Slow Sewing series for my post on embracing all the quilts under construction, no more UFOs versus WIPs!

Quilt Tops Ready for Quilting

1. Cosmos Blocks - I initially thought I donated this for Quilts for Calgary, but it still sits in my closet.
2. Improv Sampler - still sitting there, waiting for it's turn on long arm rental day.
3. Checkerboard from Sunday Morning Quilts - again, nothing to see here...
4. Slaveship Quilt - nope, nothing here either...
5. Old Amy Butler quilt top - still sitting there...
6. The Evil Genius' Triangle Quilt - she wanted it big enough for her bed, but that was when she was getting a single bed. We recently got her a double, so we may have to add to this.
7. A low volume rainbow mini quilt that I've never shared with you.
8. Alturas - waiting for the floors to be cleaned for basting. Much harder with a dog in the house again.
9. Giant Hexagons - waiting for me to decide how to quilt it.
10. One intended for a magazine that I can't share

Quilts Being Quilted

11. Low Volume Circles - I'm plugging away on the hand quilting, slowly. Actually, I don't think I've touched this in 2 years. Maybe this winter?
12. QuiltCon Quilt - based on my work in Denyse Schmidt's Improv Class. Currently in line with Urban Quiltworks for her magic on the long arm.
13. All voile quilt - also at Urban Quiltworks
14. Antonio's Quilt - For some reason I've stalled on the quilting, yet I don't have much more to do.

Blocks and Process

15. Mid Mod Bee - Blocks to be assembled into a top
16. Hand Pieced Diamonds - I think I'm done with these, but I would like to get it into a quilt top.
17. More Cosmic Burst blocks - I have a whole other set of blocks for a baby quilt
18. Name quilt for my daughter - still haven't done anything on this. It might become the back for a new bed quilt for her. Maybe.
19. Chandelier quilt - was so close, then discovered a big mistake and have never fixed it
20. Liberty Circles - These have sat, but I was recently thinking about them. Maybe this winter?
21. Blue and green Christmas Tree quilt - I cut the pieces, then promptly put them away
22. Respite - a project started in a Bill Kerr design workshop
23. Pieced Stars - a BOM I started years ago when I wanted to do some precision piecing breaks when doing a lot of improv
24. The Water Quilt
25. Low Volume Shoeman's Puzzle/Slab blocks
26. A values quilt in neutrals (Class sample, so I keep adding more blocks each time I teach the class)
27. Green/Yellow/Orange Improv blocks (Class sample, so I keep adding more blocks each time I teach the class)
28. Sunday Morning in Solids
29. Edges/Studio Stash Play - I do hope to finish this for a friend. It requires a day or two with no deadlines/kids in the studio
30. One red/purple turquoise quilt intended for magazine publication
31. Sherbet, with more volume for my nephew - need to pull this out for my piecing without thinking as everything is cut and started
32. Beach Grass Take 2 - this would make a perfect bed quilt for the girls and their new beds. And it goes together so quickly...
33. Y2K quilt - slowly, slowly with this one as I piece it as leaders and enders
34. Another leaders and enders project, intended to be like Up, Up, and Away from Sunday Morning Quilts
35. Round and Round blocks - these are addictive and I wish I could make them all day long
36. Snippets on Dates
37. Circle Lattice
38. Leftovers from Modern Paris
39. Orange Circles from Craftsy/Perfect Circles class samples
40. New Cirrus Solids from Cloud 9 Fabrics bundle is being cut now
41. Started some blocks after being so inspired on my trip to Alabama.


42. A new quilt for one of my other nephews in yellow, orange, and turquoise

So close...

(43.) Mountain Meadows - Just finishing the hand stitching on the binding here. One side left to do.


Giant Dresdens
Modern Paris
Improv Sewing Machines
Oh Canada
One Day
Compose Yourself
Shimmer Table Runner
Indian Pillow
Mid-Century Circle Pillow
Gum on Concrete
Girlie Quilt

If you compare this list with the last one, you can see that some, only some, projects moved around. Some I gave away, some I finished. In looking at this I realize I haven't even posted a few finished quilts! And a few were for publication that I can't share yet.

Most of these were started, and finished in between now and the last update. That might be telling of my process and call to inspiration. Or, of my sewing machine that doesn't want to quilt anymore.

Sunday Morning Quilt in Solids

Hello New Quilt! Despite my best intention to forge ahead and finish the stack of quilts awaiting binding, quilting, and more, I HAD to start a new quilt. And I'm totally justifying it because I wanted a new sample for a class.

Do the blocks there look familiar? It may be hard to pick out, but these are the same blocks that are in the Sunday Morning pattern from Sunday Morning Quilts. The original quilt is full of low volume goodness, whispering of Sunday morning delights. I think it might be the most made quilt from Sunday Morning Quilts (after slabs). At least, it is the one I see the most online.

I'm teaching Sunday Morning in a upcoming class at My Sewing Room. While I knew I wanted to make a new sample for the class - to show that you can indeed make it without using low volume fabrics - I wasn't entirely sure what fabrics I was going to use. Then I saw Amanda Jean playing with her solid scraps. Now, if you've been here for any length of time you know that I am not naturally drawn to solids. But her play with scraps got me jazzed. I NEEDED to make something with solids.

So I pulled out my leftovers from the preschool teacher's quilt and 'made scraps'. After making 5 blocks I realized I wasn't going to get very far with just my selection of solids. So I put the call out to my Calgary Modern Quilt Guild friends. When I got to the meeting last week I was handed bags and bags of strips and scraps. I don't even know who all shared with me, but I know that I am extremely grateful!

Now I have practically every colour under the rainbow and all in between. I can tell by feel that there are many different manufacturers in this pile. And it all works so well together.

My initial plan was to just make a small quilt, something easily transportable for classes. It goes against my every nature to work small, but I was determined to make it this time. Portability, portability, portability. But plans change.

While I was making a few blocks the girls sidled into the sewing room. Curiosity and a need for a little snuggle led to a full blown sewing lesson. The week before I'd taught them both how to use the machine all by themselves - with supervision. So when they asked to sew I decided that they could help me make blocks as opposed to starting a new project with them. What began as a selfish desire on my part to not clean up turned into a family project. They are so into making the blocks. They carefully select their next strips, they chain piece and press all by themselves, and yes, they unsew when necessary. There are still some lessons to learn about seam allowance and leaving the iron in the correct position, but we're getting there. 

So now, I don't want to make this just a small quilt. This is well and truly a family quilt and so it must grow to accommodate all five of us. Besides, I think it is getting pretty gorgeous and don't want to stop making.

If you are local and interested in taking the class, call My Sewing Room to register. It runs in the evenings on October 16 and 23. 403-252-3711

Great New Local Gig

My attempt to have a quieter fall has been thwarted by a few things. One, the snow that is still here! Two, a community project stealing all my weekends. And three, a full slate of teaching.

Join me at My Sewing Room for a whole slew of classes.

Slab Workshop
September 18 and 25 10am - 4pm
(If you've taken a short slab workshop from me before, this will still be a great class as you have plenty of time to sew and a lot of input from me as we put the technique into a whole quilt top.)

Values Quilts
September 23 and 30 6 - 9 pm
Full of tips and tricks for mastering value when choosing fabric, using half square triangles to play. Will also include a demo of a brand new values technique.

Beach Grass
October 14 and 21 10am - 4 pm
This is a great quilt from A Month of Sundays. Very fat quarter friendly too!

Sunday Morning
October 16 and 23 6 - 9 pm
Maybe one of the most popular quilts from Sunday Morning Quilts. We'll make blocks and assemble a top. Go low volume like the original or change it up. Watch for my new samples for other colour ideas.

Scrap Management Workshop
November 22 and 23 10am - 4pm and 11am - 5 pm
Show up with a suitcase or laundry basket or whatever filled with scraps. We'll tackled sorting, storage, and get going on your own individual quilt. Make one of the designs from Sunday Morning Quilts or be inspired by your scraps in a whole new way.

To register for any of the classes call My Sewing Room at 403-252-3711

Just One Slab 1 Year Later

The last of the Just One Slab quilts are making piles in my little studio. That is 15 finished quilts right there. Handfuls are in various states of completion - waiting for binding, quilting, or still assembly. This is not to dismiss the probably 50 or so that were assembled by volunteers through Traditional Pastimes, a local store, then paired with a backing and sent out to long armers. Those quilts, as finished, have been donated to flood victims.

So, if you sent a slab, or twenty, know that they are all either in a finished quilt or already giving a big  hug to those who need it. Anything in this last group will get photographed by me and posted here. Not all the quilts assembled and quilted by other volunteers got a snapshot, so you may not see your block. But, again, I assure you that they've all been used and made into quilts for donation.

This past weekend marked the 1 year anniversary of the flood. In the week leading up to it we had rain, rain, and more rain. Here in Calgary it didn't amount to much, thankfully. Many communities in Southern Alberta, however, did have overland flooding, sewage issues, and washouts. No one needs that. And when nerves were already raw too.

One of the local stores, My Sewing Room, has been working all year on gathering, finishing, and giving out quilts for flood victims. The focus of their giving has been on the community of High River. So, on Saturday, they had a volunteer appreciation day for the quilters who worked on donations. I went out to meet more quilters (and sign books). But one of the things I loved about the day was the scrolling images of recipients on the store's 3 TVs. The huge grins on the kids' faces, the shy smile of some men, the look of relief on others. Anne, the store owner, told me of all the tears shed by volunteers, staff, and recipients.

As quilters we know the value of a homemade quilt. And it isn't just the time. Think about the excitement you feel as you create, the giddiness of looking at the finally finished project, the anticipation of the recipient's reaction. Knowing all that, think about a moment, if you've been lucky to have it, where someone gave you a quilt. Because you know what that feels like you know how much love you immediately feel.

For the recipients of the Just One Slab quilts, and all other thousands donated after the flood, this is the feeling they get. I remember from the donation day back in September and from stories I still hear about people feeling they don't deserve the quilt, or that it should go to someone who needs it more than they do. Well, I say that everyone deserves to feel loved, and that's what these quilts do.

With the help of more volunteers - many of my friends in the Calgary Modern Quilt Guild are helping out - the last of the Just One Slab quilts will be done shortly. The plan is to donate them to seniors still displaced from their homes in High River. I will share pictures of all the quilts I've got before then, as well as donation details.

Thank you so much to absolutely everyone who donated fabric, time, slabs, and extra hands to get these quilts to the people who deserve to feel that love.

High River Handicrafts Guild

Last week I had the tremendous honour to teach in High River. You may not know or remember that High River was one of the communities devastated in last year's flood. It is a small town south of Calgary. The Highwood River runs through it and during the flood that was a bit of an understatement. The Highwood River barrelled over, under and through it.

A few months back I got a call from a quilter from the High River Handicrafts Guild. Would I be interested in teaching Slabs to the Guild? How they found me is the best part.

One of their members received a donated quilt after the flood. She loved it so much she started researching it. And it contained slabs! But the story goes further back than that. The quilt was made by someone else that I taught slabs too in one of the other local area guilds. She turned her slabs into a quilt, then donated it. Shirley, in High River, received the quilt. Shirley told me that the quilt has become her 'blankie'. Providing all the comfort that the word implies and then some. 

On top of that, I know the original quilt maker outside of quilting because her grandkids and my kids are friends, we live in the same neighbourhood and they go to school together!

It was crazy!

Not nearly as crazy as the flood and the fact that the community is still dealing with the aftermath. The centre where the class took place is a block from the river. The houses and apartments surrounding it are either still empty or you see the evidence of recovery in the form of new windows. Crews were moving earth and rocks outside to fortify the shoreline as we head towards spring run off. All morning phones were going off with alerts as they were doing emergency services testing in the community. 

Then were the quilters telling me about living in hotels for 6 months or more, the stress on disabled family. How they were just getting carpet installed that day. How they couldn't go home. What the wall of water was like. And about the generosity of other guilds in donated fabric and machines to replace all that was lost. How they themselves decided to give back as a first project once they could sew again.

The entire morning was humbling. There were tears and a lot of laughter. And so much sewing. 

Thank you to the High River Handicrafts Guild for having me.

And I can tell you this for sure, I am super motivated to get the last of the Just One Slab quilts done. There are about a dozen in various states of completion at my house. The rest have or are being finished and donated. All will be in by the flood anniversary.

Inuvik Trip Part 1

A week ago I was driving the ice road from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk. A week before that I was snorkelling in the Caribbean. And this morning I'm sipping tea in slippers and listening to Motown. Have I mentioned before that I love my life?!

One of the things I absolutely love about my life is the chance to teach quilting (and travel to do it). Being in a classroom full of people who absolutely want to be there, whether they are there for a new experience or just a weekend off, is an energy boost for me. You can't help but ride their enthusiasm. And my weekend with the guild in Inuvik was unlike any other.

There is just so much to share about my trip to Inuvik that I have to break it down into two posts. It was such a phenomenal experience. Up first, the class.

Seeing as Inuvik is located in the far North, we chose to run a Scrap Management workshop. They have to pay a lot to bring in supplies, so I thought it best to get people excited about scraps. And get excited they did! As did I. The days would start at the sun was coming into the sky, peering over the irons as we set up in the morning.

Like most scrap classes I run many people at first think they don't have much that's useful. But after we sort then run through the slab technique eyes are opened. The potential can't be hidden anymore. Some people brought scraps they inherited from mothers and friends. Some seriously cool scraps there. One lady brought scraps an Inuit maker gave her last year at the Great Northern Arts Festival. And like everyone does, it was fun to see the history of their quilting careers, family, and guild projects through the scraps.

One of the great things about teaching with a guild is that most people know each other well. So there is an instant camaraderie. For the teacher it can feel like you are the outsider, but definitely not with this group! They instantly welcomed me in, sharing gossip and stories, and taking me under their wing for northern adventures. You know they are a cohesive group when three of them bring the same kind of muffins for us one day.

During this two day workshop we explored scraps - sorting, remembering, making slabs and storage boxes, and working on individual projects. Some people choose projects from Sunday Morning Quilts, some take off in their own direction. The important part is that they be excited by what they are working on. I'm just there to guide the process, teach some technique, and troubleshoot, if necessary.

I had one of the best moments ever in my career as a teacher there too. Two of my students were art therapists. They work in the elementary schools - for the kids and the teachers. They have a tough job, seeing the best and worst of these isolated communities. Communities that have most definitely seen the worst of times beyond the weather - addiction, residential schools, relocations, abuse. Coming to guild, for these women, is a break for them, a chance to recharge and put work behind them. Well, on the second day one woman pulled me aside and thanked me for her own creative breakthrough. She was sewing more than she ever does in guild and was recharged personally. Usually I am pretty happy if people have fun and are inspired to sew more once the class is over, but to hear that, from an art therapist no less, was inspiring to me.

Not to mention this beading. Oh, the beading... (This one wasn't by a student, but a woman dropped by to share it.)

Thank you to the NWT Arts Council for the funding to bring me to Inuvik.

Me and C&T Publishing - An Instagram Takeover

This is going to be a fun week! Not to say that the last few weeks haven't been. But this week is pretty full and I am going to share it all with the world in the pretty - not the gory - detail. This week I am taking over C&T Publishing Instagram feed. 

From the Arctic to my basement. From a teaching gig to a book deadline. From being a tourist to being a mom. You can see it all through my experience, and lens. At the end of it, not only will you know more about me and what I actually do to get it all done, you've got a chance to prizes! 

To follow along, check out the Instagram feed here.

And check out these prizes! C&T will be giving away a full set. Details will be announced on all their social media streams.
Sunday Morning Quilts
A Month of Sundays
fast2clean™ 2-Piece Modern Dot Mini Microfiber Static-Cling Cleaners
Sunday Morning Quilts Eco Pouch Set

I'm not going to lie, it all feels kind of like bragging. But I am proud of the work I've done and proud of the audience that wants to share my life. That's you! I hope you join me on my adventures this week.

Good Times with Alex Anderson

Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with Alex Anderson about my books, quilts, non-obligation sewing and finding the pleasure in quilting and the craziness of life. This first bit includes a lot about how I like to slow down and sew, and how you can too. Not to mention some gorgeousness and advice from the book.

Check it out here! And stay tuned for the second part.

Checkerboard Chillin'

Remember when I was setting my goals for the year? Well one of them was to finish all the quilt tops in my closet. That's a lot easier when you actually remember all the tops you have. Seems I forgot this one. Oops.

Measuring at 60'' by 60'' it isn't a huge top and I can manage to quilt this at home. I even have batting cut for it already.

This is my version of the Checkerboard quilt from Sunday Morning Quilts. When I went to make it at some point after the book came out I decided to control the colour scheme. So I raided all my turquoise, purple, grey, and white scraps. From these I cut all my 2 1/2'' squares. There may have been some stash raiding to finish up the quilt. Shh. It is smaller than that original, however. Partly because of the fabric limitations and partly because this has to join me on the road and the big quilts take up a lot more room.

Seeing as I have another trunk show in a few weeks I might be motivated to finish this up and reveal it then.

One of the things I love the most about this quilt is the way it comes together. Amanda Jean wrote the pattern so you are making it one row at a time. And you press to one side as you go. Then you just flip over every second row. Your seams nest and it comes together as a top in no time. It still works as a leaders and enders project.

Make sure to check out the book for detailed instructions, including the cutting requirements for a larger, twin sized quilt.

Never Gets Old

One would think that after writing the book and making the quilts, after all the Just One Slab blocks, after teaching the class almost a dozen times this year, that after all that I would be tired of making slabs. Nope, not at all.

Perhaps slabs are my default sewing? When in doubt make a slab!

Actually, that is a lesson I teach my students. That once you have the basic technique down it is perfect for when you just need to sew something, anything. If the fabric is there then there is no prep work needed. If you only have a few minutes you can work up a block without even thinking. If the day sucked and your brain hurts you can still sew and not stress about perfection.

Then there are the possibilities! Slabs as blocks, as fabric for making other blocks and more blocks, as background, as the whole quilt... I feel it is impossible to get burnt out on the technique or the possibilities. Maybe you are tired of seeing slabs from me? If you are, then oh well, because I will keep making them.

That mess up there in the top photo? That's what happens when a toddler who has to get into EVERYTHING finds your scrap baskets (also made from slabs) and you let him go to town because it gets you ten minutes of writing. What can I say, though, the boy has good taste. The mess sat there for a few days, taunting me with all the lovely colours. I was head down on a deadline but finally couldn't resist. I figured that if I randomly grabbed fabric and used them as leaders and enders I wasn't technically starting anything new. Whatever we have to tell ourselves.

Pink, orange, yellow, and grey. So loverly and so many possibilities.

Slabs Meet Low Volume

No doubt about it, scraps get overwhelming at times. And other times the scraps are so inspiring and excited. This time it is the latter.

When I was working on A Month of Sundays all my scraps ended up together in one large messy pile. Then that pile moved to a bag. And that bag moved around and was shoved in different corners. I'm not sure why I felt the need to keep these all together, but I'm glad I did.

Ever so slowly I've been sewing together slabs from the scraps. It is like both my books are colliding into a beautiful mess. I'm in love! I didn't, however, want to just make slabs. I wanted to be a bit more creative, experiment a little.

At some point I read Denyse Schmidt's Modern Quilts Traditional Inspirations. Her interpretation of Shoeman's Puzzle struck me the most of all the quilts. Without a moment's hesitation I started turning my slabs into Shorman's Puzzle blocks. She uses templates, as she usually does. Because of the slabs and the proliferation of bias edges I chose a different route. My blocks are paper pieced. Each block has three seams, about one of the easiest paper pieced options ever. It was a smart choice as it is keeping the blocks in check.

Now, to find the time to make more. I've got more slabs sitting there waiting. When I teach a slab class this is the demo fabric I use. I just need a bit more time and some freezer paper patterns. I made the blocks 10'' square which means I can't print them. So freeze paper it is.

Aren't they fun?

Just One Slab Update - Getting Close

2280 blocks.
Makes 114 quilts.

106 quilt tops.
38 completed quilts.

337 packages received.
Close to 750 participants (estimated)
23 guilds.
11 quilt shops.

Nearly every Canadian Province and Territory.
27 US States.
8 countries.

Not to mention the time of the volunteers helping sort mail, put together quilt tops (like Andrea, Jen, Lee, Becca, my SIL, and others), long arm quilters (so many that I don't know them all!), and an army of people making and attaching binding and labels.

Traditional Pastimes is incredible for gathering quilts, distributing kits for making quilt tops, assigning backing fabric and distributing to long armers, and hosting volunteers who are still meeting to finish the binding and labelling.

Then there are the corporate donations from companies like EE Schenck and Robert Kaufman. For batting, backings, and extra wide backings we thank you. It makes finishing up the last quilts a lot easier.

All donations - from 1 slab to a roll of batting - are greatly appreciated.

(And thank-you to my husband and family for helping, donating their time, and tolerating the proliferation of packages, fabric, piles of quilts, and giant rolls of batting.

At this point I am still rallying volunteers to help finish the quilts. I have a stack of quilt tops ready for quilting, enough blocks for about 15 more tops, the binding to get on three more, and then all the labelling. This is on top of the 60 or so quilts that Traditional Pastimes coordinated finishing.

(I am also planning a big thank you for all participants here in this space. Stay tuned.)

Winter indeed arrived in Calgary this week, so the quilts are going to be timely. I'm sorting out the distribution details, but the plan is for a date in early December.

Thank you. Thank you all so much.