Monday, February 1, 2016

Winter Quilting

Hello Quilters!
The beginning of February is here!  We have been enjoying a remarkably mild winter this year so it hardly feels like winter at all.  Good news for those who decided to stay home this winter with the U.S. dollar being so high.

I've been chipping away at many projects here in the studio.  Being retired has caused me to lose all discipline and so I work on 20 things at once and don't finish much.  I'm just doing some finishing up of old projects and playing with baby quilts and other fun stuff.  So much for serious work!!!

Since my Juki was in the shop, I took the opportunity to work for a couple of days on my Singer 99K sewing machine.  This is the sewing machine that my parents bought for me when I was 10 years old.  They probably never dreamed what a remarkable effect it would have on my life at the time.  Who buys a sewing machine for a 10 year old???  Especially when money was very tight in my family growing up.
The Singer normally sits in a box base that has a snap on cover but I put it into my sewing desk for those few days.  It was such fun to hear her humming along as I worked on a scrap quilt.  All I had to do was oil the moving parts and away she went.  I'd forgotten what perfect stitches it makes.

The is the Fancy Fox quilt I made from a pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.  The pattern is very well written with great illustrations.  The pattern for the baby quilt finishes at 34" x 46" so I changed the borders to make the quilt a little bigger.  The border stripe was living in my stash.  Can you believe how perfect it is for this quilt????  Now that my Juki is back from the shop, I hope to get this quilted today.
Also living in my stash was the perfect backing with trees and foxes.  I am chipping away at reducing the stash while making these fun projects.

Also from Elizabeth Hartman is my Preppy the Whale Quilt.  The background is Kona Snow and the whales are various pieces of fabric from my stash.  Using up the stash............  I love the light blue quilting thread in the wave pattern on the quilt.  Simple but effective.

My friend and I attended the Cherished Pieces Quilt Retreat at the Elmhurst Inn in Ingersoll last week.  What a great time we all had.  Cynthia knows how to put on a great retreat and the Inn served us wonderful food and treats during our stay.  The hotel rooms are beautiful too!

I think I mentioned in my last post that I was crazy enough to participate in the 365 Day Quilt Challenge.  Each day a different quilt block pattern is in my inbox.  At the end of the year you have 365 quilt blocks to sew into this quilt.

 Here is my one month's worth of blocks that will go into the inner border around the central medallion.
These blocks are 3" finished.  Today's block had 36 pieces of fabric in it.  Crazy!!!

"Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell." Anon

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Help Me Out Here!

Hello Quilters!
I'm just in the process of constructing the mystery blocks from Bonnie Hunter's Allietare Mystery that I mentioned in my last post but I'm not sure that I like the original colour scheme.  Bonnie certainly knows what she's doing and these were the colours that she suggested but I think it's a little too strong for me.  So..... I'm asking you to look at the three options and see if you have a preference.

Above is the original colour scheme.  This is not the finished layout.  The finished quilt will be on point with pieced setting blocks but you can see how the colours are working with the two blocks in the design area.  Do you see where the gold centres appear too large?  This happens with yellow as it's the first colour that your eye will read and therefore yellow takes up more visual space than physical space.  This is Option #1.

Here I've covered up the gold centres with various values of green and blue.   It calms down the overall appearance of the quilt and brings out the diagonals but I'm still not sure.  This is Option #2.

In this one, I've left the gold centres in the star blocks and put the greens and blues in the red centres.  
This is option #3.

I have been playing with this so long that I think I've lost all perspective so I'd appreciate your input here.  Thanks!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Post Christmas Post

Hello Quilters!

Clever title huh???

Christmas was wonderful here in the Stewart household.  It was such a nice, slow paced and warm time for all of us.  We live such busy lives and our son lives so far away that we don't get to spend time all together except at Christmas.  I overfed them and loved spending time just talking or laughing at old pictures etc.
Hubby and I went for a bike ride on Christmas day.  The temperatures were mild for this time of year and there was no snow.  I got Hubby a new bike for Christmas so it was doubly fun to go out for a test ride.  

They all have gone back to their busy lives and the Christmas decorations have been put away this morning.  Now we look forward to 2016 and see what new adventures it will bring.

DD requested a new tote bag for work while she was here.  I finished it yesterday morning so I can take it this week when I see her for my hair appointment.

This is the pattern I used for this bag.  I've made a few of these bags before.  Great pattern!

The outside of the bag.  I'm trying to used only stash fabrics lately.

I added pockets that aren't in the pattern.  Her business card is sewn beneath a layer of clear vinyl.
This works just fine until you iron it................!

We will be putting on our party clothes for the annual New Years' Eve party here in our neighbourhood.  I hope you have enjoyed your Christmas as much as we have.  

"Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep."
Scott Adams

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Hello Quilters!
Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and healthy and Happy New Year!
Christmas 1964 
For those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, please take my wishes in the spirit in which they are given.  We all need to just see the good there is around us.

Thank you for reading my blog this year even though the blog posts were few and far between.
With luck, I'll have more to post next year.  Retirement will bring more quilts finished, I hope.

Believe it or not, I went for a bike ride today and didn't even require gloves.  Truly some crazy weather here in Southwestern Ontario but I'm not complaining.

Both kids will be home for Christmas this year so hubby and I are very busy getting everything ready.  We are so lucky to have everyone home for Christmas so we want to make the celebration a good one.

Have any of you been participating in the annual challenge quilt by Bonnie Hunter?  I have been madly cutting and sewing to keep up!  Part 5 will be out tomorrow so I'll have to wait a few days before I can get the next mystery section done.  Bonnie does a wonderful job of not only designing the quilt for everyone but making her instructions very clear and easy to follow.  Check it out at

Enjoy the season and family time!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Pantone Colours of the Year 2016

Hello Quilters!

Pantone, the world's authority on colour has just announce the colours of 2016, Rose Quartz and Serenity Blue.PANTONE PLUS Series Formula Guide - Shop Now
I don't remember them every having two colours but I might be wrong about that.
We will start to see clothing, housewares etc. come in these colours as well as fabric lines.  I have to admit, these are not colours that get me excited and I certainly can't wear them.  Oh well, there's always next year....

So the big news is I HAVE RETIRED FROM TEACHING AND LECTURING.  I'm looking forward to more time in the studio creating show work and just playing.  I love being in the classroom but the travelling and all that goes with it was getting to be a bit much.  Throw in a few health issues and the time was right.

If I find that I really miss teaching, I might teach out of my studio or anywhere that I can sleep in my own bed.  That decision can be made after a good, long break.

A big thank you to all of my students over my 33 years of teaching.  You taught me a great deal about being a teacher and quilt artist.  An even bigger thank you to those groups in Ontario and Nova Scotia that nominated me for Canadian Teacher of the Year 2009.  It was such an honour to accept that award.

I have had a little play time since my last workshop on November 25th.
Over the last couple of years I have been saving up some Cotton and Steel fabrics and finally used them to make this "Octo" quilt.  The paper piecing pattern is by Zen Chic. This quilt is just for me!

A variety of pinks, corals and oranges that were living in my stash went into this sweet little baby quilt.  The backing is the fuzzy minke fabric in a pale grey.

I'm in the process of clearing out quilt samples, workshop supplies etc.  You would be amazed at the amount of stuff that I have accumulated for teaching over the years!! Wish me luck.....

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hello Again!

Hello Quilters!
What a busy Fall it has been.  Unfortunately, that means I have once again neglected the blog.

Hubby and I enjoyed a 3 week trip to France.  Five days were spent in Paris.  We rented an apartment from the same company that we had the last time we were there.  This one was the set for a comedy though with the apartment shaking every time the Metro (subway) went under the building.  I won't go on but I could write a whole routine on our stay there.  BUT we loved Paris once again.  There is no other city quite like it.  You hear a great deal about surly waiters and unhelpful people but our experience was just the opposite.  Our neighbourhood was friendly, the restaurant and cafe staff very helpful and we even had people stop and ask if we needed directions.  With luck, we will get back to Paris once more some day.
The back of Notre Dame Cathedral

Next we boarded the Scenic river boat to cruise from Paris to Nice for 8 wonderful days.  Each day we toured a different town viewing ancient Roman ruins, mills, churches and so much more.  The scenery was breathtaking!  I can't say enough about how wonderful this riverboat cruise was.  The staff was amazing, the food excellent and the accommodations very nice.

All too soon our vacation ended and I hit the ground running with work teaching and lecturing at various locations across Ontario.
I returned once again to one of my favourite groups in Walkerton.  Thank you quilters for your enthusiasm and warm welcome!
Some of the Angles and Squares quilts from my last visit with the quilters from Walkerton.

The quilters in Walkerton, I should probably say "members of the New Millennium Quilters Guild"
participated in the Colour Studies workshop after having me present my Colour Harmony Lecture the night before.  Here they are with their Colour Study boards.
Great job!

I'll have to catch up with a few of my other visits in another blog.  I hope you are busy with your quilts!

A great quote from Hugh MacLeod of

"Inspiration precedes the desire to create, not the other way around."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Janet Bolton and Julie Arkell Workshops

Hello Quilters!
I had the pleasure of taking two workshops this week at Stitch in Jordan, Ontario.  Myself and two friends attended a two day workshop with Janet Bolton and a one day workshop with Julie Arkell.
Both were absolutely wonderful experiences.  Such talented and delightful teachers!
Janet and Julie are from London, England brought in by Jocelyn at Stitch to teach for the week.

Janet Bolton has a new book out that can be ordered through Amazon or purchased at Stitch and other quilt shops.


Janet Bolton is a world-renowned textile artist from London, England. Working with fabric, needle & thread, simple hand-stitching techniques and a gifted imagination, Janet composes beautiful textile pictures. Each of her two day workshops will be filled with demonstrations, stories, examples of her work, creative guidance and fun as you begin to stitch together your own Janet Bolton inspired folk art.

Janet's work looks so simple but I have to say that I struggled to get my ideas to "simplify".  Most of my quilts are very detailed and it was hard to let go of the realistic interpretation approach to my quilts in her workshop.  I'm not thrilled with the piece that I produced but I have to say, I learned a great deal and enjoyed every minute.  This is something that I would like to experiment with a little more in the quiet of my own studio to find some middle ground between what Janet does and what I lean toward in my own work.
This piece is far from finished but you get the idea.  I just couldn't work in the washed-out fabrics that Janet does.....

Thursday saw us in Julie Arkell's workshop to dress one of her doll creatures.  I was certainly at a disadvantage because I really don't knit.  Julie's work has the sweetest hats and other knitted accessories!


Julie Arkell is one of the UK’s best-recognized contemporary folk artists working in papier-maché and mixed media. Her hand-made creatures are lovingly dressed in vintage fabric, knit or crocheted garments, and bits of found items giving each their own unique whimsical personality. Included in the price of the one-day workshop is your own little naked creature, made by Julie. With her help and guidance you will spend the day knitting, sewing and embroidering garments based on her patterns and will take home a one of a kind little friend who, we’re sure, will make you smile every day.
Here is Julie with the dolls we made in the workshop.

My creature from the workshop.
Heaven knows when those two ladies will be back to teach again in Canada but if you get the opportunity, you would be wise to take those workshops.

Jocelyn and her staff at Stitch did a marvellous job of keeping everyone happy.  Stitch is a beautiful shop with exquisite yarns and fabrics in the most beautifully decorated shop I have been to.  I could have taken anything in the shop home and been thrilled.  You won't find any "cute" fabric there.........such a nice change!!!!

I'll be teaching Colour Studies tomorrow in Tillsonburg.  

Next Saturday, September 19th I will be presenting two lectures at QuiltX in St. Mary's.  I hope to see some of you there.  The lectures are at 11:00 and 2:00.  The topics are Colour Harmony and my Trunk Show.