Save those scraps!

I have been working away on the second block of “Love is in the Air” a pattern designed by Lori Smith.  I purchased this pattern a couple of years ago and put it away with the rest of my patterns.  Honestly, I forgot all about it.  About a month ago,  I went through my patterns and books in search of a simple applique pattern that would lend itself to a really scrappy feel.  As soon as I “found” this pattern in my box of (far too many) patterns, I knew “Love is in the Air” was exactly what I was looking for!  For those of you who may want to stitch these blocks along with me, the pattern is available here.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am using a collection of shirting for the backgrounds, so that means that each background square will be different, which I am not going to lie has me a little unsettled.  But I do love a challenge!

Also, I enlarged the patterns by 125%.  I cut my background squares 16″ x 16″, but I am not sure right now what size they will end up.  I never have all the details figured out before I start a quilt….what fun would that be?   Sometimes you have to listen to the quilt!

I started this block by tracing the pattern onto the background with a water soluble marker.  Next, I made a bunch of leaves, using many different fabrics, just for the fun of it and then I auditioned them.  Some I like.  Some I don’t.  Some of the leaves are competing with the background, so I will save those leaves for another project!



OK, next I added my stems.  Notice I used the same fabric for all of the stems, just to give a bit of consistency.


Next, I went searching through my scraps and I found this piece of fabric I have had for about 8 years.  I love this fabric!  So I decided to use it for the 4 main flowers.


Then I went through my scraps and found a fabric that went with the flower fabric.


Next, I went through my blues and golds and chose a few fabrics that played nicely with the main flower fabric.   So far, so good!



This patterns has a circle in the centre that I could make with a piece of bias and  a 1/4 bias maker, but I chose to make a template instead and prep it in the way I prep all of my templates.  So much easier!  Instead of tracing the circle from the pattern, I used a compass to get a more accurate shape.

I cut the circle out and ironed it to the wrong side of the fabric.  I decided not to cut the centre of the fabric out just yet, to keep it more stable.


Using starch, a stiletto and a mini-iron, I prepped the outside edge.


Next, I trimmed out the centre and prepped the inside edge.


Taking the freezer paper out is always fun (and kind of scary!) but it works like a charm every time!



Once it is glued in place, it looks very neat and tidy.  Whew!!


So, I auditioned several fabrics for the centres of the main flowers…brown, black, burgundy, blue…nothing appealed to me.  Then I tried gold.  Gold it is!!  But wait….


I thought the gold circles were a tad too big, so I made them a shade smaller.


Ahhhh.  That’s much better!


Here’s a fun fact… I used three different golds in this block.  After all, it is a scrappy quilt!


And here are both blocks.  Sweet!


Keeping with the scrappy theme, I am working away on Trail Mix, a quilt designed by Laundry Basket Quilts.  I chuckled when I saw this block.DSCN7451

In this block alone, there is a scrap from my hexie quilt I worked on last winter,



…a scrap of the background of my Civil War Bride Quilt….



….and a piece of the background of my Reminescence.  Memories!

detail of Rem.

Til next time….


Sunday Afternoon Applique Show and Tell

Our Sunday Afternoon Applique Group met this past Sunday and I thought I would share with you some of the projects that we are working on.  Kathy has been busy stitching, of all things, a bridal veil for a friend.  Kathy is the one modelling the veil and I am the bridesmaid, making sure that the veil is lying perfectly flat!

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In her spare time, Kathy has also managed to prep a few blocks of her “Aunt Millie’s Garden”.



Christie has been very busy stitching the Cardinal block of “To Everything There Is A Season”.  Lovely!


Lynn has been working away on her blocks of “To Everything…” and this is the beginning of the Summer Vase.


I have been working on the centre medallion of “To Everything..”  The pieces are bigger than the ones in the blocks, so it is working up quite quickly!


I am also working away on my hexie quilt, which is starting to take shape.


How Much Fabric Should I Buy??  This is a question that I am asked from time to time and I thought it would make a good blog post. First, let me take you on a bit of a tour of my sewing room where I keep all of my fabric.  I make no apologies for the size of my fabric collection.  A painter has to have her paints, right?

I have a stash of tone-on-tones in clear colours, which I used to make my Friends of Baltimore.  I also used these same fabrics for the blocks of “To Everything There Is A Season”, but I added a few batiks and a few fabrics with a bit more of a design on them.  I keep these fabrics in containers and  I keep telling myself that if I just folded each fabric after I used it, it wouldn’t be quite so messy!  It is always a good idea to have a good variety of colours in light, medium and dark.





I am always on the hunt for new fabrics and new colours.  I purchased these tone-on-tones recently, just to add a few more to the stash.  When I am purchasing tone-on-tones with applique in mind, I rarely buy more than a fat quarter.  Fat eighths are even better!  These tone-on-tones can range from looking almost like a solid, to having a bit of a swirl or even some dots!


If you are just starting to build an applique stash, I highly recommend purchasing layer cakes, which are 10″ squares of an entire collection.  Layer cakes also takes the pressure off of choosing fabrics that “go together”, and a 10″ square is the perfect amount!  You can also add tone-on-tones to these collections of fabrics.


For my Civil War Bride Quilt, I used a more muted pallete.  Since I didn’t have a lot of these muddy colours, I had to go on a few shopping trips to make sure I had a really good assortment.  Again, I purchased mainly fat quarters and fat eighths.  When I think that a fabric has a lot of potential for fussy cutting, I usually buy at least 1/2 a meter.  You can see that I used fabrics with a much larger print on them and very few tone-on-tones.  Most of the greens I used in this quilt came from a layer cake of Civil War greens.


When I made my Aunt Millie’s Garden, I used my collection of brights, which include stripes and polka dots.  I find these types of fabrics are easier to buy in a fat quarter bundle (or even better…a fat eighths bundle!) so you get a good assortment of fabrics with the same “feel”.





When it comes to backings, I always make sure the back matches the front!


Til next time…



Surrounded by Inspiration!

Today Hubby and I spent a bit of time picking out some porcelain tile that is to be installed at our front door and mudroom.  No matter where I go, I seem to always see quilts designs….I have always loved clamshell quilts and one day I will make one!

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How impressed would your quilting friends be if they came over and saw this  floor in your sewing room?  (Answer:  Very Impressed!)

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If this were my backsplash, I would be reminded of how much I love hexies while I am doing the dishes!

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And, finally, isn’t this the perfect pattern for an appliqued quilt?  Inspiration is everywhere!!

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Last week, I started the final (!) border of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore”.  I would love to have this border finished by the end of the year.  We will see….First I picked out the fabric for the vase.  I like to start with the vase because it just feels like such an accomplishment once it is completed! This is one of my favorite fabrics. Do you recognize it?


I used it for a vase in my Civil War Bride Quilt.  Notice the pattern is running up and down.


I used the same fabric for the vase in my “Bouquets For A New Day”.  In this vase the pattern is running sideways.


And here is the fabric for the third time!


Now on to the fun part.  All those curved pieces at the bottom of the vase need to line up properly.  I did the same thing I did in my last post about lining up the pieces of the pine cones.  First, I removed the freezer paper template from the prepped pieces. Next, I placed the template shiny side up on top of the prepped piece. Then I used a sharp white marking pencil and drew the seam allowance on the pieces. Can you see the white line?  This just makes it so much easier to place the pieces in the correct spot.




It’s such a nice feeling when things line up properly!


Next, I added the top of the vase and the curvy section on top of it.  Then I started to add the stems, leaves and flowers!




Til next time…


Around the World Quilt Blog Tour

Thanks to Rebecca at Cheeky Cognoscenti for tagging me in the “Around the World Quilt Blog Tour”.   I am so flattered!!  Before you read any further, make sure you check out Rebecca’s blog and see if her Pineapple Quilt doesn’t give you goosebumps!  It gives me wild goosebumps every time I see it!!  The idea  of the “Around the World Quilt Blog Tour” is to answer 4 question and then tag another quilter to keeps things rolling.  So….here goes!

Question 1.  What am I working on?

Oh!  I am so glad you asked!!  As with most quilters, I like to work on more than one quilt at a time.  I think this keeps things fresh and exciting.  If you have read my blog before now, you  probably know that I am obsessed with hand-applique and hand-quilting….and hexies!   To be honest, obsessed is putting it mildly!  I made my first quilt when I was 15 and I have been quilting in one form or another since then.  I have made more than my share of machine-pieced quilts, but it is hand-applique that has captured my heart.

I discovered the world of hexies earlier this year.  It is an addictive world!  The binding is almost stitched on my Grandmother’s Flower Garden.  I used the English Paper Piecing method to make this quilt and I hand quilted it.  I decided long ago that if I am going to quilt by hand, I really want the quilting to show up, which is why I chose to use a Baptist Fan pattern.


Here are some more hexies that I have played around with and some that are ready to be stitched.  There are definitely more hexie quilts in my future!


Next,  is “To Everything There Is A Season“,  my own Block-of-the-Month that I had designed by Marilyn at MTDesigns, a talented artist who takes my unorganized, vague ideas and turns them into awesome quilts!  The patterns for these blocks are also available on my website.  Along with the 12 blocks, there is also a centre medallion, which would also make a lovely stand-alone wallhanging.  There will also be borders surrounding the entire quilt.  Each time I complete a block, it my “new favourite”!


This is Peggy’s Puzzle (also designed by Marilyn at MT Desisgns) and it is almost finished!  Some of you have been making these free blocks that are available on my website Simple Bird Studio.  I had this quilt designed with beginners in mind and even made some Youtube videos to go along with each block.  This will be my next hand quilting project.  Can’t wait to start!



This is my “Friends of Baltimore” which I have been working on longer that I have been blogging.  These are the blocks I had completed when I wrote my first blog post.


And this is where I am now!


So many people have contacted me and said that I have inspired them to begin this “once-in-a-lifetime” quilt.  That is so nice to hear!  Believe it or not, these blocks are not difficult.  Time consuming?  Oh yes!  Lots of pieces in each block?  You bet.  But they certainly are not difficult if you have experience in whichever method you choose to hand-applique.

This year I completed my Civil War Bride Quilt, which is hanging in our living room.  I look at it and wonder when the heck I had all that time to make a quilt like that.  I tend to work in smaller chunks of time, as opposed to larger spans of time.  All of those smaller chunks of time add up.  Like most quilters I know, I go to work, make dinner, do laundry and so on and so on.  But I make the time to quilt every single day!  I also have been trying to get in 10,000 steps each day.  If I could figure out a way to stitch and walk at the same time, I would be all set!


Last year I taught a Beginner Class (we used the Peggy’s Puzzle pattern) and this year I am teaching them the skills to make a Baltimore quilt!  Here is the first block.  I am using pinks, burgundy’s, reds greens and maybe a touch of blue and gold.


I wondered what the same block would look like if I made it in totally different fabrics.  This is what I came up with.  I think it is really important for new quilters to see different versions of the same quilt in different colours so that they can find their unique style or look.  I love to teach and am always thinking “I would just love to show someone how to do this!”


I am also working on Sue Garman’s “Ladies of the Sea”.  I have 3 blocks completed and I am going to start one of the borders next, just so that when the blocks are all done I won’t get overwhelmed with the borders.  I saw “Ladies of the Sea”  in a magazine a few years back and my jaw dropped to the floor.  I knew I had to make it for my son, Chad, and I ordered the patterns right away.


I also just finished hand-quilting “Circle of Tulips” (another free pattern on my website).  I made these blocks around 15 years ago when I was teaching myself  various hand-applique methods.  I kept these blocks around with the thought that one day I would do something with them.  So last year I stitched the blocks together and quilted it by hand.  I knew exactly how I wanted it to look.  I wanted it to look antique and dainty with a scalloped border.  Mission accomplished!


This quilt (a pattern in Quiltmania 100) caught my eye and I have been slowly collecting fabrics for it.  I am anxious to get started!  These are my blues (so far) and the background.


2nd Question:  How does my work differ from others?   I would love to teach everyone how to hand-applique.  I secretly believe that if everyone knew how to hand-applique, the world would be a better place!  True story.  So not only do I love to show the techniques I use, I also love to show  how I work through my blunders, whether it is switching out a fabric that I thought would work, but sadly, did not.  You can see that I started out with a red cat and a blue bird…

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…and ended up with a black cat and a red bird.


I also don’t mind showing you how I was getting ready to stitch my bias stem, only to realize I glued it in place, wrong side up!


Or washed my block without first making sure that everything was stitched in place.  I want everyone to know that hand-applique is very doable, you just need to learn a few skills and practice those skills!


3rd Question:  Why do I create?  I think that eveyone is capable of creating beautiful works of art, whether it is a quilt or a symphony or a painting or  wonderful meal.  I feel so fortunate that I have found an outlet to express myself in a way that I love.  I am creating a legacy of quilts that I hope my family will cherish for many years.  Hopefully, they will realize there was more to my life than the cooking and cleaning and doing the laundry!

4th Question:  How do I work?  The more quilts on the go, the happier (and more productive!) I am.  I think that creativity breeds creativity and a wheel in motion says in motion.  I have taken over the spare bedroom so all of my fabric, books, patterns etc. are in the same spot, which is handy.  I must confess, the room is in a constant state of chaos, but I like it that way!

I am very aware of how valuable time is and how easily it can be wasted.  So I try to make the most of every moment that I can find to sit down and stitch.  I only work on quilts that excite me and (more importantly) challenge me.  When I first saw the picture of “Friends of Baltimore”, I never thought in a million years I would be able to make the quilt.  Seriously…it looks so daunting and overwhelming.  That is, until I started to break it down into blocks.  And then I started to look at the pieces in each block and say: “Gee….I think I can do that!”

Okay…enough about me!!  Let me introduce you to Ruth Quinn at Stitching Impressions.  Ruth (a fellow Canadian!) will write her post on Monday November 17.   She is a quilter who also loves to hand applique. and has actually completed Lily Rosenberry! Ruth is a talented longarm quilter who spends most of her waking hours machine quilting for others, including Patti Carey from Northcott Fabrics.  But as you will see, she is talented in many other ways!











Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

My apologies for not including the information regarding my new hoop.  It is made in Canada by Quilters Woodwork in St. Mary’s, Ontario.  I purchased mine at a local quilt shop in Cookstown, Ontario called Country Concessions.

When I can get my hoop away from the cat, I love to sit and hand quilt in the evening.  Here is my Grandmother’s Flower Garden, which I am currently working on.  I am already thinking about my next hand-quilting project.  I don’t like too much time to slip by between projects, because the callouses on my fingers soften and then I have to go through the whole process again!


Maybe I will take the time to put the rest of my Grandmother’s Choice blocks together so that I have something to hand-quilt.  These are the fabrics I am considering for the sashing and borders.  Pretty pink!


I mentioned in an earlier post that my Civil War Bride Quilt won a ribbon at the local Ploughing Match.  The quilts were judged and awarded ribbons back in May and the ribbon winning quilts were kept until the Ploughing Match, which was held in Essa Township while we were in Barbados.  So, I just recently was re-united with my quilt.  Yippee!  I had no doubt that it would be kept safe and sound, but the fact that I had a more than one dream about my quilt disappearing made me think that maybe it was on my mind more than I realized.  I was pleasantly surprised when I came home from running errands yesterday to find that the my Hubby has taken the time to hang the quilt in the livingroom. What a lovely sight!


Till next time…


Third Finish of the Year!

For some reason this post from yesterday disappeared:(  So I am re-posting it.  Thank you, technology, for keeping me on my toes…

We have had a couple of cool evenings lately, so it seemed like a good time to stitch the binding on Circle of Tulips.  So this is my third (!) finish of 2014!   My first finish was Owen’s quilt…


…and my second finish was Civil War Bride..


So, once I finished the binding, it was time to wash the quilt.  I didn’t have the heart to put this quilt in the washing machine, so I decided on the bathtub instead.  First, I filled the tub with cool water…


…and added half a scoop of Oxi-Clean.


I let the quilt soak for about an hour, swishing it around with my hands now and then.  I used a wool batt so once the quilt was wet, it smelled very much like a wet dog!


I let the water drain out, rinsed the quilt under the tap (the quilt was very, very heavy) and pressed out as much of the water as I could.  I carried it downstairs where I had laid out a thick, clean blanket.  I placed the quilt on the blanket and smoothed it out, making the edges as square as I could.


Even though I squeezed out a lot of water, within minutes the water was starting to be absorbed by the thick blanket.  I could have used towels, but I didn’t have enough clean towels at the time!  As you can see, even after soaking for an hour, the marks left behind from the Frixion marker did not come out, but I had a plan for that!


Once the quilt was completely dry, I used my steam iron to remove the pen marks.  I never touched the quilt with the iron, I just held the iron 1/2″ or so away from the quilt and let the steam do the work.  So this picture is before I steamed it…


…and after I steamed it.  Magical!


Til next time…




Ice cream and stitching go together!!

Canada Day is always a busy weekend for us because it is also our wedding anniversary. So, there is always  lots to celebrate….and lots of cake and Canadian ice cream!



Even though it was a busy weekend, I still found some time to do a bit of stitching.  When I finished the second border of Friends of Baltimore, I decided to take a bit of time and  do some catch-up on a few projects.  This is my second block of the Value Proposition Quilt Along, which you can find on a wonderful blog called Faeries and Fibres.   Just click on the button at the top of the page called Quilt Alongs by Karen H.  Concentrating on value (rather than colour) is more challenging than you might think!


I also took the time to stitch the first two rows of my hexagons together.  I really am loving this whole hexie thing…can you tell??


So next, I decided to tackle the corner squares of Friends of Baltimore.  To account for shrinkage, (which does occur) the four borders on this quilt are all cut the same length….


…..which means a corner block is needed. Some of the applique on the borders flows onto the corner square and cannot be stitched until the corner block is stitched to the border.  This will make more sense as we go along. Trust me!


Now onto the corner block!   I always like to start with the vase or the basket.  I think it sets the tone of the block.  When I bought this gold fabric, I thought it would make a great vase.


It also made a great butterfly on my Civil War Bride quilt!

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Now, I am just filling the vase with flowers.  Sweet!


Til next time…