Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Quilting for Lazy People

Today I thought I'd walk you through the process I go through when I make a quilt.  You can get quilt patterns in lots of places, but I usually don't. I like to start with graph paper, and work on that way what design I want to use. 

Once I have the pattern figured out, I pick out fabrics. I like colour, so I often use a bunch of colours in a single quilt.  

For this quilt, I used a pattern involving triangles.  I started with 4" squares, then cut them in half diagonally. I used 2 fabrics per block.

This pattern used 8 triangles (or 4 of the original squares) of each fabric. 

I matched one triangle of the first fabric to a triangle of the other fabric, then sewed them together along the long edge.

I move from one to the next one without cutting the thread, so they all end up in a chain rather like a sausage. (I hate cutting threads.)
Once I have the triangles sewn into squares, I arrange them to make sure I like the pattern.  Do I want to do blocks like this:

Or like this?
(Of course, there are other options as well.) Anyway, I chose the second one, and then I flipped one square over the other so that I could sew them together.  That created two strips of 4 triangles each, which I sewed together to make a square.

 When I had all the squares done, I laid them out on the fabric I'd chosen to go between them to find an arrangement I liked. (When I'm using a lot of different colours, I like to have one consistent fabric to tie them together.)

I then ripped 2" strips of the yellow fabric. I started with the middle section, because i had the big panel piece to work around.

Of course, I'm not super exact about how I cut and sew the blocks, so they're not all exactly the same size. That's OK - the yellow hides all of that.

Once I had the top completely done, I layered it with the batting and the flannel back piece. I like to have the batting a little bigger than the top, and the backing a little bigger than the batting.

Pin, being careful to catch all three layers (and not the bedspread it's lying on):
Once it's all pinned, flip it over to make sure the flannel back is lying flat - you don't want to have any folds.

If it's flat, it's time to start quilting.

My plan was to quilt down the yellow strips.

When I was done, I flipped it over again to make sure there were no folds.  Sadly, there were, so I had to rip out that seam and sew it again.  (I rip seams while watching Downton Abbey. I'm totally hooked, but I'm late to the party so I have no one to talk about it with.I just finished season 2.)

Once it was all quilted, the only piece left was the edge  This is where the larger back came in handy.  I folded the edge over once, then again until it overlapped the top (so that the edge is finished):

When I got to the corner, I folded it as I would if I were gift-wrapping a box:
And then again:

I then sewed around the entire edge to secure it, and here's the finished product:

This was a more complicated pattern, so it took about 5 hours from start to finish. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Back in July, I hurt my foot. (I was sitting on a stool, and my foot slipped. The top of my foot slammed into the rung of the chair. It was bruised, but I could walk without any pain, so I didn't worry about it.

And then, a month later, I helped a friend put together 13 bookcases. After that, it started hurting when I walked. I got it checked out, and the verdict was that it probably wasn't broken, but even if it was, they'd just treat it with a tight shoe. I started wearing an ankle brace that supported the middle of my foot, and whenever I wore proper shoes, I used some arch supports that made it possible for me to walk without pain.

And then it snowed, and I had to move the arch supports from my boots to my shoes (and back again) every day. I decided I needed another pair of arch supports.

I have high arches, so I wasn't able to find any commercial supports, and had to look into orthotics. I made an appointment and went in for the assessment, and one of the things she said was that my left shoulder dips down when I walk.

Normally I carry everything on my right shoulder, so I decided to try carrying things on my left shoulder, 

It turns out my left shoulder is not up to the job. My purse, laptop bag, gym bag, whatever I'm carrying, is constantly dropping to my forearm.

It's comical, really. One or more bags starts dropping, and I start waving my arms around, looking, I'm sure, like I'm fighting invisible ghosts. And then one drops, and the rest follow, and I'm suddenly carrying everything on my forearm, with my laptop bag dragging on the ground.

Force of habit is a powerful thing.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Girl Guides of Canada asked on Facebook "Should parents buy their daughter's Guider a holiday gift or wait until the end of the year?" Obviously, neither is required or expected - and, I'd argue, neither is a particularly good way to show appreciation. If you want to show appreciation, here's what you can do.

Drop your daughter off on time. No, not ten minutes early - at that point, I'm trying to get organized, and I don't want to entertain you or your daughter. Not even if she's really excited to be there, or you have somewhere else to be. I need a few minutes to get my head together and figure out what I forgot.

Pick up on time. If you're early, wait outside - don't disrupt the entire group. And don't be late - I want to go home and eat, because I probably didn't have time after work. (Obviously, things happen, but more than once a year is too often.)

If you have something you want to talk about, either talk to me after the meeting, or call/email a day or two before the meeting. Leaving me a message at two on the day of the meeting may not even get to me until I get home.

If you owe us money, pay promptly. I don't volunteer because I like being a bill collector.

Respect the deadlines. If camp forms/cookie orders/permission slips are due on a certain date, don't show up two weeks later with them. 

Help where you can. Be the person who volunteers when we need a hand, and then follow through without needing a reminder.

Get your daughter there. When she isn't allowed to come because she's grounded or you dont feel like driving her, it's a hassle - we've bought supplies we don't need, or she won't be ready to do the next part of whatever we're working on so we have to spend extra time catching her up. She'll miss some due to illness or other commitments - don't add to it if you don't have to.

Show her that you're proud of her. I see girls achieve amazing things every year, and it's sad when their parents don't recognize that.

That's what I want for Chrjstmas.