Friday, February 16, 2018

Level Two Tote Promotion

Hi all - 2018 is full on. I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Japan. I skied. I visited the Tokyo International Quilt Festival. I took photos.  Unfortunately, there will be a delay before I can post about that awesome stuff because now I'm headed to Pasadena, CA for QuiltCon 2018.  I feel very lucky to have two quilts hanging in the show: Pop Stars and What Apple? but truly I'm most excited to see everyone else's work at the show and meeting up with all of my pals. I'm volunteering one day, have a lecture pass for another and plan to walk the show completely this time. In 2015 I overdid it with workshops and lectures and realized later that I didn't even see all of the quilts.

You likely know by now that before I travel I typically make myself a new bag. Well, I'm already so well set up that this time I'm making a new tunic instead. However, I thought I'd offer everyone a deal on my Level Two Tote pattern just in case YOU want to make a bag if:

  • you're heading to QuiltCon, or 
  • you've got another fun trip planned, or
  • you are hanging out at home waiting for photos of QuiltCon, or 
  • you just need a fun new spring tote, or 
  • your friend needs a fun new spring tote and you're going to make her one, or
  • just because!!
Level Two Tote by Poppyprint

Tote by Poppyprint

Until Monday, February 19th purchase the pattern as a .pdf download at my Craftsy shop right here for only $6 US, or $7.50 Cdn (that's 30% off). 
No code required.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Modern Quilts: THE BOOK!

First things first: Happy New Year!

Although my copy is still in transit and I haven't actually seen the ink on the page, I am very excited to finally share with you that one of my quilts appears in this first (I say first, because I am hopeful that there will be more) hardcover volume documenting some of the best work of over 200 Modern Quilt Guild members.

Longtime modern quilt curator and MQG Director of Marketing & Programming Heather Grant, MQG founder and Executive Director Alissa Haight-Carleton and MQG Communication Manager Riane Menardi co-wrote this volume. I plan to keep it close at hand on my coffee table along with my treasured Gees Bend books so that I'm ready to show interested friends and visitors just what Modern Quilting is, what modern quilts look like and how some of my work fits in and some of it doesn't.

A regrettable lack of confidence kept me from submitting any of my quilts for consideration. Then one day I received an email from the MQG asking if they could include Chess on the Steps and I was absolutely thrilled to be involved. Creating this quilt as one of the first MQG "free pattern of the month" in 2014 really began my continued participation in the guild and the broader community outside of my local Vancouver MQG. The quilt went on to hang as part of an invitational exhibit at QuiltCon2015 and it appeared in that year's QuiltCon and Simply Moderne magazines.  After it was published, I received some wonderful teaching and trunk show invitations both at home and abroad and then the MQG asked me to design a beginner improv pattern for Simply Moderne magazine to accompany their ongoing monthly article on the modern aesthetic (resulting in my Variegated Threads quilt).  This quilt really has brought a lot of joy and excitement to my life!

Chess On the Steps by Poppyprint

What makes Chess on the Steps even more special to me, and I think a wonderful inclusion in Modern Quilts, is that it honours the traditions of quilting and a make-do style that I so respect, admire and ultimately, aspire to. The layout of a giant Courthouse Steps block was inspired by a vintage quilt I saw displayed in a museum exhibit  American Quilts: The Democratic Art in the fall of 2012. The original quilt (by an unknown maker) contrasted suiting wools in neutral tones with more colourful shirting and dressmaking fabrics. I thought about this quilt for many months and was delighted when a friend finally located a photo in Roderick Kiracofe's book Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000 shortly after I made my version.

Here they are side by side: contemporary inspiration and modern interpretation.

The more I considered it, the more I wanted to recreate the design using a limited colour palette of solids.  Eventually, I came to develop my Improv Under the Influence piecing technique for this quilt and many others that followed  (it became my most popular workshop over the past 3 years). I was incredibly fortunate that Oakshott Fabrics sponsored this quilt; it is made exclusively with their colourshott shot cottons. These fabrics give the quilt a luminescence that flat cottons just can't replicate. You can still purchase a kit to make your very own Chess on the Steps quilt from Oakshott Fabrics right here or purchase the pattern from my Craftsy shop here.

I cannot wait to savour this book and enjoy the work of many friends, acquaintances and quilters that I admire. There are many talented Canadians included in the book, which makes it extra sweet for me.

Thank you to the authors and the MQG (and of course my local VancouverMQG chapter) for the many opportunities made available to members to share our work with a growing audience through regular magazine articles in international publications, QuiltCon (the annual juried show), the annual QuiltCon traveling exhibit, member webinars and patterns, this gorgeous book and a new venture starting later in 2018: a traveling museum collection of quilts from Modern Quilts. Chess on the Steps will be a part of this traveling exhibit, having already made trips to Inuvik, Sweden, Alaska, Birmingham UK, Austin TX and an appearance in Canada's national juried show. It truly is the quilt that keeps on giving.....and getting around!

Chess on the Steps in Inuvik
Chess on the Steps beside an igloo in Canada's arctic, near Inuvik, NWT.

It is my hope that the traveling exhibit will make it to some Canadian locations (I've suggested a few!) and if that happens I will definitely let you know.  Details of the tour locations will be posted at as they become available, with the first exhibit opening April 1st, 2018 at the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Ohio. In the meantime, you can see many of the other quilts included in the book and read about their maker's stories on this extensive bloghop (details at this link).  Would you like to have this beautiful book in your quilting library or know someone who would? Purchase your own copy directly from the registered non-profit MQG right here where 100% of royalties will support guild programming and member services.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Poppyprint on CBC!

Imagine my surprise when I received an email from an associate producer of North by Northwest, then early morning weekend show on CBC radio 1 in British Columbia. For those of you reading from outside Canada, CBC is our national broadcaster, both on radio and TV. There are province-specific shows to cover local flavour, weather and events on weekends. Host Cheryl MacKay is running a series on artist/creative types who are living a professional life very different from the one they initially planned. If you've been following me for any length of time, you've probably seen my tiny profile over there on the left that identifies me as a former geologist.

If you are interested in learning more, check out the short interview by podcast. You can click on the Sunday, December 10 episode here,  then click on the right arrow of the actual podcast until you get to about 1:45 into the show where my story begins.

The conversation with producer Samantha took place in my sewing room (which I hastily cleared out in advance of her visit so that there was actually enough room for both of us to stand in there together). Feedback from friends is consistent: everyone is very surprised that I sew in such a tiny space. It's true! 8' x 9' of inspiration with a beautiful south-facing view. For more fully annotated photos of my sewing room and storage, check out this blogpost I did for Sew Sisters several years ago (when the room was still very neat and tidy!).

This experience was great on several fronts. First, it was a sweet friend who suggested me for the series and secondly several old friends and colleagues have reached out and contacted me after catching the interview. It's fun to see who the CBC diehards are! I was very happy that they kept in the information I shared on upcoming quilting events in Vancouver and finally, I might even score a teaching gig as a result, which is wonderful.

Christmas gift production and prep for my girl returning for the holidays and her brother departing back to university after the holidays are in full swing. It's a busy time here! I hope you are enjoying the season with family and friends.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

What Apple?

Here's my latest Speed Date with Improv class sample. When I teach the workshop (which as been very popular with traditional and modern guilds alike, yay!), I demo each technique for students. When I travel, I use student fabric (no one minds because it gives them a little head start on each "date"), but at local classes I use my own machine and fabrics.  The result is lots of improv units on my home design wall.

I was recently interviewed by CBC radio for a local weekend program called North by Northwest. A producer came to interview me working in my studio, so I decide to piece this together because it was a fairly small, manageable project.  I'll write more about that fun afternoon once I get the word on the day the interview will air (it might be mid-December).

So, here is What Apple?  A fun mini-quilt improv sampler that finished up at 24" x 28".

There are a few more units making up this quilt than in my previous Speed Date samples because I used the same mustard fabric for demos in two workshops, so I had extras to play with. I also had some more chunks of mustard leftover, so decided to insert that strip on the right side and balance it with black on the bottom and white on the top to extend the piece. These chunkier strips coupled with the 1/4 circle curves at each corner give the piece boundaries, but jaggedy, imperfect boundaries where like colours meet. I prefer this on an improv quilt as opposed to a straight and defined traditional border.

I chose to quilt in the "wonky waffle" with my walking foot again. This is random straight-ish vertical and horizontal lines that I really like on top of this busy quilt. I score a few lines with a long ruler and Hera marker, then fill in by eye at random intervals in between.

Like the two that came before, Mojito and Night and Day, this one has faced edges.

This workshop continues to take me the new year, I'll be teaching on Vancouver Island, in Scotland, England, Alberta and for a couple of outlying modern guilds in BC as well. I can't tell you how happy that makes me!!  I've had several students create completely new improv work informed by what they learned in this class; that's incredibly exciting for me because that is the exact intent of teaching these techniques as a sampler. Bring on 2018! 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Feyre Shawl Finish

Temperatures are cooperating here in Vancouver (yay winter!), so I've been able to wear my Feyre Shawl. I introduced you to the beginning of this project with more details back here. It came with me to Ontario for a long visit in August, where I was able to finish it completely at the cottage (location of photo shoot: a dock on the Lake Huron side of the Bruce Peninsula).

It is very soft and deliciously stretchy in the MadeleineTosh worsted weight. I love the smoothness of this yarn and how beautifully defined the stitches are in this gauge. Knitting this shawl was so enjoyable! I learned several new skills and relied heavily on YouTube demos to get me through, but it wasn't difficult. I do find it challenging to follow the wording of knitting stitch descriptions - I really need a video demo to "get it".

It was extra lovely that I got to meet the designer Shannon Cook (soveryshannon), in person at KnitCity here in Vancouver in September. I wore my shawl - it was fun to show it off to Shannon! While there, I bought another of her shawl patterns and her new Veronika cardigan. I'm still searching for the perfect yarn for that one...I'm not sure that I can make such a large financial investment in a knit yet, haha!

I've been sewing as well (I even finished quilting and binding a long-standing WIP at retreat last weekend), but unfortunately the days are dark and rainy here lately, so I haven't been able to take photos. Stay tuned...the sun is sure to come back eventually. I have lots to share!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What to do with 300' of clothesline?

And a mountain of fabric strips in your scrap bin?

Make a rug!

NOTE: This project was fully inspired (as in I never would've thought to do this myself) by my hilarious friend Jodie who blogs at RicRac. You can see her gorgeous rug and a tutorial to make your own here. The only thing I did differently is that instead of a regular zigzag stitch, I used an 8.5mm wide triple stitch (that is three stitches in every zig and zag). I thought this might be more durable in the long run with my chair rolling over the carpet.  I also didn't join ends with tape, I just wrapped the fabric around a few times flat to splint the ends together.

100' (or one skein of Dritz cotton clothesline) made a 21" diameter rug....

200' (two skeins like the one shown) yielded a 31.5" diameter rug. At this point, I'd broken two Topstitch 90 needles, which isn't bad considering the weight of this thing and the fact that the feed dogs haven't got a chance. You have to feed the rug into the machine with your own effort. My left shoulder started complaining right about here.

I posted on IG throughout making this rug. After I started in on the third skein, things started to get a bit warpy. I began to wonder if I was making a giant nest. The rug was much bigger than the plexiglass extension table for my Pfaff and even though it seemed like I was feeding it into the machine totally flat, obviously there was tension from the weight of the rug causing pulling and warping.  I felt a bit panicky, to be honest. Opinions on blocking varied. I decided to call it quits after 300' of clothesline was wrapped and sewn and the rug had reached 40" diameter.   I really wanted a 5' diameter rug for my sewing room, but I just didn't have it in me (or my shoulders) to keep going.  Like Jodie says, the KEY to success is having a totally flat surface. If you've got a table with a hole in it for your machine, you are all set! I ended up using various boxes and an ironing board on my left side to help support the rug.

I dipped the rug into a bathtub filled with cool water, then rolled it in a beach towel to remove as much water as I could. Then I laid it on a big terry blanket on top of our playroom carpet. I put our round kitchen table upside down directly on the rug and pinned all around the outside coil of the rug to hold it flat against the carpet. I weighted the table with about 30 pounds of stuff (exercise weights, ski boots, a box of office supplies and a karaoke machine - basically whatever was lying around within reach!); then I waited.

Miracle! It's flat!

FAQs based on people at my retreat and on IG:

How are you going to clean it? (really?) Well, it is going to live in my sewing room under my chair. It will get dusty and thread-covered, but not really dirty because like most Canadians, we don't wear shoes in the house. I'll likely vacuum it once in a while and maybe take it outside for a beating now and then.

How long did it take?  I'm not a huge tracker of information like this. I make stuff because I love to make stuff. Tracking hours doesn't always make me feel good about how long things take and I'd rather just enjoy the process....however if I had to guess I think I'll say about 18 hours

How much of your scraps did you use? I have no idea. Hardly made a dent. You know how it is. I can tell you that I used about 1500km of polyester thread, though (that is easy to measure! One 1000m spool and have of a second one.

Would I do it again? Maybe one day. It is more likely I'll return to rope bowls.

Are you going to give it a go?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Level Two Tote - A Pattern Release!

Hi all! Exciting news today. I've finished up an new pattern and it is now live in my Craftsy shop right here.  I've always been a bag lady and have made umpteen bags from many fabulous patterns available out there, but I put my favourite simple requirements together and came up with my own design.

You've seen a few of these totes I've made over the last 18 months. Initially, I designed one for myself as a simple last-minute bag to take with me on a trip. Since then, I've made a few others as gifts for friends, each time refining the design.  Finally, an Instagram follower commented "Please tell me you are making a pattern for this! I want to make one!"

Well, my friends. Ask and you shall receive. That IG follower even offered to pattern test for me and she made a beautiful tote! Here's my latest version that appears on the pattern cover. I made it with the gorgeous Rifle Paper for Cotton and Steel Alice in Wonderland linen blend and the most perfect shade of fuschia cork fabric that I was able to purchase at my LQS. In the pattern, I list various sources for materials you'll need to make this tote.

Finished size: 16" wide across the top x 13" high x 5.5" deep at base

There are fully illustrated and thoughtfully explained instructions for creating a zipper window like you see here. You'll also learn how to install a magnetic snap if you haven't tried that yet! This LEVEL TWO TOTE is so named because there are a few potentially new skills to learn, but also for that bottom level fabric that is chosen for durability and wash-ability. I've suggested waxed canvas, cork, vinyl or lightweight hide. My next one will be made with leather!

I've been using my original tote as my everyday purse and it is perfect for me. I wanted an uncomplicated bag that didn't have too much structure or fancy hardware detailing. This tote has plenty of room to accommodate a few extra things picked up during the day (like, for instance a yard of fabric, 5 FQ's or a couple of skeins of yarn.....ahem).

There is no central bottom seam and the leather handles are securely riveted on; both details that really increase the strength and durability of this bag. I regularly carry a full water bottle, heavy wallet, sunglasses, chequebook, iphone, car keys and a few pens around in mine. There's an internal slip pocket with two pen slots and the external zip pocket is large enough for your cell phone.

I hope you'll try one for yourself (and then make lots more as gifts!). It's an afternoon or evening project that only requires 6 rectangles of fabric! For real! 

Special thanks to Jackie and Eileen for testing this pattern so thoroughly for me!