Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays to all my blog followers.
Thank you for supporting me. I have had close to 93,000 visits.
I enjoy all your comments. I am glad so many find my posts inspirational.
This year is the end of my 4th year of blogging.
I have loved my experience.
Thank you to two of my children who "gave" me this blog in 2010.
Click here to see the first post from them!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Artists' Dinner

Last week I hosted an artists' dinner where art makers came together to exchange thoughts about their work, their process, their troubles, their goals, their stories.

Almond Caramel Meringue Roulade with caramel sauce

I think it was a success in that people went away with ideas and ways they can make their practice better. That was my goal.

(BTW, the Contemporary Textile Studio Co-op in Toronto started hosting these Salon-Soirees so artists can enhance their practises and meet with other creative people to broaden their horizons. I am always on the cutting edge of trends!!)

bread right out of the oven

We were a small group of 5, a textile artist, a painter, a paper maker and a photographer and me.

apple phyllo pie

As I was preparing for the dinner, I recognized my food is my art. I love marrying flavours and textures and presenting the food in an artistic way, either by being conscience of the colour combinations or the textures or even the shapes.

berry cheese cake and mango-lime pie

This evening I hosted another dinner. I prepared with joy everything we eat together.

(Pictures posted from past food file...wanted to post recent food pictures but forgot to take them and everything got eaten up!)

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Last Minute Gifts

Every December, I post about a gift that is fast and easy to make.

This year it is a zipper case you can make in no time at all! (I got it down to 15 minutes!)

Start with two pieces of fabric quilted onto a piece of felt. The fabric should be about the same length of your chosen zipper. For my size, I started with a width of fabric of about 4 inches.We will trim it later.

use your walking foot to quilt
straight lines lengthwise.
Change your foot to the zipper foot.

zipper foot

Add a zipper. Sew it on.

lay the zipper face down onto the fabric piece.
Undo the zipper about half way down.

When you get to the "bump" in the zipper (the zipper head) stop sewing and have your needle down into the fabric.  Lift the foot keeping the needle down and wiggle the zipper head closed. (that is the trick to zipper sewing- sew it on avoiding the zipper head) Continue sewing the zipper along the edge.

Place the piece of fabric with the zipper attached onto the other piece, good sides facing.

Unzip the zipper and sew it onto the other piece of quilted fabric. Do the same thing with the head of the zipper- sew until you get close to it then stop with your needle down, lift the foot, wiggle the zipper head out of the way.

Recap: You quilted some fabric onto felt and attached the zipper in between the two pieces of quilted fabric, right?

Flip what you just made so you can sew on the back side. Attached the 'seam allowance', if you will, to the felt. Increase your stitch length for this part. Essentially you are top stitching from the back side.

Do the same thing with the zipper head if it gets in your way.

You can trim the outsides now. Mine is about 3.5 inches from the zipper.

I change the thread colour at this point to the same colour of the felt.

Fold the entire thing in half, good sides facing, and sew the pieces together at the bottom.

I sew using a 1/4 inch seam allowance
Then I go back and zig zag the edge making
sure the needle goes off the fabric so
the thread 'closes' the edge.

Fold the 'tube' so the zipper is in the middle. Trim one end. Sew end closed at 1/4 inch seam allowance and zig zag the end.

Before repeating at the other end UNDO ZIPPER!!!!

Close up the other end same as you did.

your zipper pouch should look like this.
Turn inside out.

It is perfect for pens or sewing tools.

In mine, I keep my double-pointed knitting needles for my sock making.

I even found a perfect charm for the zipper!

To see past ideas click here and here and here.

Happy present making!

Monday, December 8, 2014


I am making a few zippered pouches to give away as gifts.

I am using selvage edges to create a piece of fabric. Then I will sew up a zippered bag using that created fabric.

Start in the bottom right corner
of a piece of batting and
cover the batting diagonally with selvage strips.
The frayed edge of the strip gets covered up
with the selvage of the
strip that overlaps.
I sew along the selvage edge
catching the 2 strips.

In the past I have been collecting the selvage strips and sending them to a friend in New Brunswick. Click here to see her blog. She does all her quilts with selvage strips. I love her stuff!

I decided to try it myself and I love doing it! So fun. I now keep an open box near my cutting table where I can cut away the selvage of whatever fabric I am working with and save it for future projects. I also ask my students to contribute theirs!

The whole concept goes with my philosophy of using everything and reducing the garbage I produce.

It looks great!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Last Few Classes before the Holidays

My Fall teaching calendar is coming to a close.

fabric scraps to use during the free motion class

Last weekend I taught a free motion technique class.

Student at work making her collage

I just felt so good after the class. The students were successful and all enjoyed their day. I did a good job!

This student decided to make her collage, cover it with a piece of fabric
then sew over all of it.
 She cut away sections of the top fabric to reveal
some of the brighter fabrics underneath.

 I love sharing my ideas. I know the students will be applying the techniques they learned when creating their own quilts, art projects, crafts and even felt work!

Using the darning foot to create curved designs.

I have two more classes left to teach before the holidays. There are still places for the paper piecing class. 

I bought a small envelope like these (above) many years ago made by
Toronto artist, Carolyn Flood.
I altered her design slightly and use them in my Free Motion class
so the students can practice the techniques they learn
 in the first half of the class.

My last CQ (Club Quilt on Thursday mornings) is this week also open if you want to come and sew whatever you are working on for a few hours.

I am preparing my Winter teaching schedule so check here  later.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Antique Quilts

Over the years I have bought a few antique quilts. They are lovely to hold and definitely nice on a bed. The cotton has soften after so many washes.

a log cabin from my collection

The fabric choices are always interesting since no one went out and brought the "right" colours. They repurposed fabrics they had from a  dress or apron and used fabric sample booklets.

I love the hand embroidery added to the
 blue and white gingham. Clever addition!

While I was in Verona last week, I found out Jen Jones will be exhibiting her antique Welsh quilts during Verona Tessile. She will also be giving a lecture.

I like this one but ended up not buying it in the end.

You can watch a video of Jen Jones talking about her collection by clicking here.

This quilt is so soft from all the washings. I like the white tufts from the ties.
I also like the circles that come into view as your eyes scan the quilt.

If you want to join me in Verona for 10 days/9 nights and see her quilts and enjoy the city and the entire textile event (exhibits, classes, tours and great food!) click here for information.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Painting in Verona

I see this artist every day when I cross the bridge.

I have seen his progress every day. He is a serious painter. He concentrates and turns his head to see the landscape. He is "in the moment" you can tell.

He paints with heavy clothes and a piece that covers his mouth and nose. Is it for the pollution or the cold.

He wears covers on his shoes- for the paint drips? or the cold as he is out all day, 6 hours at least.

He wears gloves and I wonder how he can paint with those on his hands.

People stop and watch him work. They sometimes have a chat together.

I return to Canada this Friday. I think he will be finished by then.

What a nice evolution I witnessed for the past week.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Monday: The view from my window in Toronto.

Wednesday: The view from the bridge near where I am staying in Verona, Italy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Well Made Quilts are a Pleasure to See

I visited the York Heritage quilt show. It was on for only two days.

It's like a stained-glass! It was gorgeous!
by Kim Workman

Another quilt that brought back images of European
 church stain glass.
Work by Lynne Lee
Back in 2012, I included one of Robert Gutcher's quilts for the exhibit I curated, Tradition in Transition which was shown in France. His machine quilting is superb! His sense of colour appeals to me. I have a similar pattern that I kept from about 15 years ago and I may tweak it and use it for my Spring Clean-Up class I host in the spring. The aim for those classes is to use up your stash and not buy any new fabric. This quilt design would fit in for sure!

Quilt by Robert Gutcher
This quilt sparkles like a jewel!
I like the woven pattern below. The colours are definitely the hot choice these days. They follow the trends of the Modern Quilt Movement.

by Valerie Prideaux
The label stated:
Made with permission of the artist Eleanor McCain

The one shown below wasn't as flashy as some of the others but effective nonetheless.

machine pieced and quilted by Linda Morse
inspired by a Denise Schmidt design

It is a guild show that I try to attend because the works exhibited always demonstrate great skill!

I was able to purchase a few hand-made gifts to give away to my Verona friends when I visit them this week.

Hand-made ornament using felted wool, hand embroidery,
  beads and an antique button at the centre
 by Sandy Lindal
I always hear, 'I can make that', when I am shopping at these stands but why not buy something anyway and support makers!