Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Improv Under the Influence - A Workshop

Last weekend I had such a great day with 16 members of the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild!  We got together for my Improv Under the Influence workshop.  The 6-hour workshop is based on my free MQG pattern of the month (September) called  "Chess on the Steps", however we make a smaller wall-hanging or table runner version in the class similar to my Temperature Check quilt.

Improv Under the Influence by Poppyprint
Temperature Check, 2013

The supply list for the workshop calls for 10 FQ's of solids or shot cottons:  five related warm and five related cool colours. For some people, the concept of "warm" and "cool" can be confusing, so I also suggest using a colour wheel to choose colours based on their relationships on the wheel.  It is really fun in a workshop environment to see so many different colour choices, and how they work.  Here is a sampling of student work from the class. In the middle are my little wonky trees I'm making for a holiday table runner with leftover sample chunks of improv-pieced borders (with Essex yarn-dyed linen in black for background).

Improv Under the Influence workshop

Here they all are with their work by the end of the day!

Improv Under the Influence

I can't tell you how excited I am to teach this technique. It is perfectly suited for experienced improvisational patchworkers, but more importantly, it is a great intro into the world of improvisation for newbies.  Traditional quilters wanting to try improv can do so in a supportive environment with just enough design structure so the process isn't overwhelming. The end result has a defined shape (a checkerboard surrounded by courthouse step borders) but there is also so much room to play and explore the relationship of the colour groups. 

You can see in the mosaic that some students decided to try a log cabin layout. This gives the quilt one diagonal set of "steps" where the two different colour groups interact, or touch each other.  If you look at my Temperature Check quilt, you'll see that the warm and cool colours interact with each other on both diagonals and there is an impression that the cool colours are contained by those last borders of warm.  I'm really enjoying working this technique through a series of my own quilts exploring different ways that the warm and cool colours can relate to each other.

I'm booked to teach this workshop to several other guilds in the new year and I can't wait!  It is also the class I'll be teaching on the Alaskan cruise June 7-14, 2015. By the way, there are still some spots on the cruise and Celebrity released a few more balcony rooms for our group. There are quite a few husbands coming along, too (not for the quilting, but I'm sure they'll find something equally fun to do while we sew on the "at sea" days!).  Perhaps you and quilting friend are looking for an exciting getaway? It's not every day you get glaciers AND fabric.  Join us! For more information, contact Lynn.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Handmade for the Holidays

Just popping in to let you know that my lovely partners at Mad About Patchwork are having a fun sale until December 7th. They've created some fabulous kits for gift makes! You'll find kits for flannel + lawn Infinity scarves, table runners, quilts, aprons, pillows adorable drawstring bags and more.  The great thing about kits is that you just buy the fabric you need for the project, so they're an economical way to go. All kits are 15% off with the coupon code HANDMADE until this Sunday, Dec. 7.


In addition, all notions (rulers, thread, interfacing), pre-cut charms and rolls, flannel and fleece are on sale.  If you spend $60, you'll receive a handmade Mad About Patchwork pin cushion!


That's not all the good news. In keep with the spirit of the season, the shop donated a portion of their total sales last weekend to Ottawa's Snowsuit Fund . That's my kind of holiday spirit!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Horoscope Pillow

Here's a project that's been under wraps for months that I can now share with you!  You'll find this fun pillow cover (or mini quilt pattern - attention all Schnitzel & Boo IG swappers!) in issue 5 of Quilt Now, Katy's gorgeous mag out of the UK.  This issue is all about scraps, and I've used some gems in this project!

Horoscope Pillow

Bricks of low volume with jewel-toned corners? Yes please!

Horoscope Pillow

Horoscope Pillow

I love the oblong 6-pointed star that results when the bricks are offset like this. I called it the Horoscope pillow because of these stars. It is a pretty easy pattern to put together and BONUS - if you double seam your  little corner squares and save your "two-fers" you can use them for a teeny tiny piecing project, like this!

There are 22 scrap projects in this issue of Quilt Now and an article on scrap organization by fellow quilting Canadian Cheryl Arkison. Order your print or electronic copy today (only 90 print copies remaining!).  

I hope that you'll share your version of Horoscope with me when you make it!

Horoscope Pillow
The pillow cover is bound just like a quilt and there's a hidden zip in the back!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Stuff Your Stocking

There's a really fun promotion coming up at Sew Sisters! If any of you like to give Santa (or, say, your husband, partner, parents or kids) a helping hand, you are going to want to check this out.

Stuff your Stocking

Pre-registration is required to unlock the deals, but if at the end of the event you've not made any purchases of the daily deals your $10 will be refunded. The best part (well, there are five best parts as far as I can tell):

  1. FREE SHIPPING IN CANADA for all of your accumulated Stuff Your Stocking purchases!
  2. There's a fun surprise every day (I am one of those people who LOVE surprises).
  3. You are guaranteed to have pretty and useful items that you LOVE in your stocking! 
  4. The daily deals are emailed direct to you - no need to search the web every day.
  5. Santa gets a break.
To register, visit the nice people at Sew Sisters here.

To further support your Christmas list, Sew Sisters has started an "All I Want for Christmas" wish list Pinterest board here where you just might find some Doe (yes, they have yardage AND packs - I think they might be the first shop in Canada to have it!).

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stuff You Need to Know!

This is one of those public service announcement blog posts, just so that I know, that you know, what's going on this week on the internets!

First up, voting is almost over (ending tomorrow) in the annual Fall Blogger's Quilt Festival. You still have time to check out the stunning collection of quilts nominated for the Viewer's Choice Award as well as all of the other festival categories.  My Selvage Colourblock quilt was nominated for Viewer's Choice, which I must say was a huge thrill for me in itself. I don't want to get too sappy, but you can't deny the Sally Field reaction when you learn that your peers appreciate something you designed and made yourself.  I'm very thankful!

Coming soon is a fun event for Canadian Bloggers sponsored by the lovely ladies at Sew Sisters. This event is an opportunity for us to share our stories and introduce themselves to a wider audience. If you want to know who is making what in Canada, then check out the Blogathon!

Starting November 17 right here on the west coast, provincial hosts will introduce themselves and provide a list of links to other bloggers in their province. British Columbia's hosts are both incredibly talented members of the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild: Stacey is a designing genius with original ideas and energy to spare.  e Jessica is exploring the beautiful Japanese art of Indigo and Shibori dying and regularly shares her knowledge with fellow guild members.  There are prizes! Every day the hosting sites have sponsored gifts to giveaway to visitors, so be sure to stop in.

All Canadian bloggers are invited to submit their blog addresses to Sew Sisters for inclusion on the provincial lists. Share your address and invite the world to visit YOU! Email the shop at

Here are all of the provincial hosts for you:

Monday, November 17BCStaceyStacey in Stitches
Monday, November 17BCJessicaMomiji Studio
Tuesday, November 18MaritimesLindaScrapmaster
Tuesday, November 18MaritimesLindaStitch Lines
Wednesday, November 19ABKelseyEveryday Fray
Wednesday, November 19ABLeanneShe Can Quilt
Thursday, November 20SKHeatherPeace.Love.Quilt
Thursday, November 20MBLoriNight Owl Quilting
Friday, November 21QCJoséeThe Charming Needle
Friday, November 21TerritoriesJanetCaribou Crossing Chronicles
Saturday, November 22ONLorna Sew Fresh Quilts
Saturday, November 22ONSandyUpstairs Hobby Room

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Here'a another look back on our trip to Italy in October. Our last couple of days were spent on the island of Capri. We were very excited to visit the island, where my late father in law Ted spent several months living in a villa in the early 1950's. Before departing, we looked at his scrapbooks (that included shots of Ted hanging out in clubs with Lana Turner and Lex Barker aka Tarzan!) and read his memoirs.  Apparently Capri was the happening spot for actors, poets, artists and Euro-playboys and girls after the war.  Ted was in the artist category.

It was fun to seek out the same views that Ted had photographed over 60 years ago. Here, a postcard in his scrapbook, of the quaint piazzetta in Capri:


And a photo I took last month:


True to guidebook descriptions, Capri is crazy busy with day-trippers who arrive at Marina Grande by large ferries from Naples and Sorrento, and smaller boats from various ports on the Amalfi coast.  Most depart in the late afternoon, so we found the evenings much quieter.  We ate in local 'family' restaurants recommended by our hotel, instead of the crazy expensive hotels and upscale 5-star spots. The service was fun and friendly and the food amazing.  The narrow alleys of Capri town are full with exclusive boutiques and fashionable Italians strolling with gelato in hand (and more often than not, a designer purse in the other one).  I fit right in with my dry-fit hiking outfit and walking poles.

Marina Grande, Capri

Linen boutique in Capri town
Maybe this is where Mariah Carey buys her bed linen? I saw a few photos of her in restaurant display cases enjoying her Capri vacation.

We made arrangements in port for someone to transfer our luggage right to our hotel. There is a funicular that takes people up to town but the line up would have taken hours. We chose to walk the winding steps up through the houses to the piazzetta (where we enjoyed a cappuccino) and then a further 15 minutes uphill  to our hotel. In hindsight, it would have been much more economical to hire a taxi for 15 Euro up to the town and then drag our suitcases up to the hotel...we were billed 45 Euro for the luggage transfer despite the message on our reservation that said "call the hotel when you arrive to make arrangements for luggage transfer". Lesson learned: always verify what's included! The morning we left the island, we let our bags on wheels pull us down the path to the piazzetta, where we hopped on the funicular to take us down into the port.


Shortly after checking into our lovely hotel Villa Sarah, we were off on our first walk!  The villa is located above town, so we'd already done most of the climbing and had a lovely stroll along the narrow passageways that function as roads in the Capri neighbourhoods. The only vehicular traffic are one- or two-seater electric carts.

Our hotel on Capri


Our walk took us quickly out of the houses and into the forests on limestone cliffs high above the sea. We chose a popular tourist route out to the famous Arco Natural, a limestone arch on the east coast of the island.  The route from the Arco continues along the coast with spectacular views before curving back into town from Faraglioni, the southeast tip of the island.

Capri, Italy

Capri, Italy

Capri, Italy

Capri, Italy
This remote home, Villa Malaparte, was built in 1938 for Italian writer Curzio Malaparte. Location, location, location!! Accessible by foot from the piazzetta, or by sea via treacherous stairs.

Capri, Italy
Faraglioni, where you can rent a lounge chair and recline on the concrete beach between the limestone stacks.

Capri, Italy
Looking west along the southern coast of Capri, Marina Piccola is center, at the base of the sheer cliff.

The following day was our only full day on the island, so we chose to hike the west coast from the Faro di Punta Carena lighthouse up to the famed Grotta Azzura along the Sentiero dei Fortnini (a path that takes you through three forts build by the British around 1800.  The path is very exposed and rugged in places along the rocky coastline, but hikers are cleverly distracted by handpainted tile signs grouted into the rock every 150 m, or so. These tiles are bilingual Italian-English and define the local flora and fauna in the most poetic way possible, relating flower names and scents to the Greek Gods and their lovers.

Capri -West Coast

Capri -West Coast
The trail begins here, at a tiny day resort beside the lighthouse - we reached the trail head by bus from Capri town, via Anacapri.

Capri -West Coast

Capri -West Coast
Here, you see the exposed stairs. This section of trail was not for vertigo sufferers!

Capri -West Coast
Check out this villa with enormous (empty) swimming pool. The property looked abandoned, but it could be the owners had just closed it for the winter season.

Capri -West Coast
I'm a sucker for a great mailbox

Our 3-hour trek ended at the Grotta Azzura - and a remarkable scene. Several Instagram friends following our trip had suggested we visit this spot and even take a swim in the grotta (a cavern at sea level accessible by a very small hole that only a tiny rowboat can fit through when the waves subside).  Arriving at the top of the cliff, we looked down to see this:

Capri -West Coast

Numbered rowboat guys picking up people from tourist boats to take them into the Grotta once they had passed by the floating office (striped canopy) to pay their 13 Euros each.  The oarsmen then row up to the entrance, where they instruct everyone to lie down and they wait for the right moment in the swell before grabbing a chain on the wall and pulling the boat through.

Capri -West Coast

It was an overcast day, so we didn't really get to see the incredible glowing blue (azure) sea that people talk about, but it was a pretty fun thing to do.  Once inside, the oarsmen break into song, thinking to increase their tips by creating a lovely feeling of romantica with the echoing strains of O Sole Mio. Ha!  I mostly had a view of our oarsman's butt.


It was pitch black in there, so I couldn't make any setting adjustments on my Nikon. Sadly, this is all I've got for you from the inside!

I'll leave you with a few more shots from Capri. In reading Ted's memoirs and looking through scrap books before our trip, there were several snapshots of he and friends enjoying drinks at "Number Two". Well, it appears the club is still there, however it doesn't open until 1:00 a.m. so we didn't have a chance to check it out.  We had fun finding the front door, though!


Marina Piccolo, Capri, Italy
The view west to Faraglioni from Marina Piccola

An early morning shot of Capri town from the Funicular station patio

The main ferry jetty at Marina Grande, where we departed for Naples

My fabulous travel companion and husband of 20 years, on the ferry to begin our journey home. 
Bye bye Capri!

I think I'll do one more post from the trip with some more shots from the Amalfi coast, including a couple of beach days and a visit to the Roman ruins of Herculaneum.  All of my photos will be on Flickr, I just haven't made them public yet as I'd like to properly label everything first.  I'll be back with more Italy next week!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival - the ROYGBIV Selvage Edition

International Quilt Market is in full swing in Houston this weekend, so that can only mean one thing: I'm not there! Hehe, while that is true, what it really means is that it is time for the Fall Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted, as always, by Amy's Creative Side.

Last spring I discovered (on Instagram) that my friend Diane was using her selvage collection to make string blocks. She asked if anyone wanted to participate in a selvage block-along. I probably had a ton of other sewing to do, but I also had a selvage drawer full to bursting and it seemed like a good idea to just get busy and make something substantial with all of those pretty selvages.

I know myself. I know that true 'random' doesn't work for me. I will always try to group colours or patterns, or match prints even if I'm not trying. So I decided to forego the random string idea right from the start and instead organized all of my selvages into piles of colour.  They almost completely covered my little sewing room floor!  Then I designed an easy 10 1/2" Selvage Colourblock (tutorial here) that would keep my inner organizer happy.

Selvage colour block by Poppyprint

Four of these squares pieced together give you a lovely diamond of solid colour in the middle, surrounded by related selvages in a 20" block!  I chose my longest selvages for the very first strings next to the solid triangles so that they'd have a nice frame around them to start.  And then I went CRAZY RANDOM....within the same colour grouping, of course.

Selvage Colourblock Tutorial by Poppyprint

These blocks came together really, really fast. I had an absolute ball making them and I so enjoyed using the selvages that I'd been diligently saving for four years.  When this quilt top was complete, B said "Cool!......Wait, is that all from your own fabric?!".  I think you know my answer.  The only colour that I had to raid my stash to cut more selvage off was purple.

Little Black Dress selvage colourblock
I used yard-dyed Essex for my black & white block centre and I love how it looks!  I wasn't sure how to fit black into the rainbow, so I ended up putting it smack in the middle of the quilt.

Once all of my 10 1/2" blocks were made I got kind of excited and pulled all of the newsprint foundations off. In retrospect, this wasn't such a great idea. All of those selvage edges cut at 45 degrees are the worst kind of stretchy! Now I was in a pickle. I had to figure out a way to stabilize the blocks and piece them together while keeping the quilt square. In the end, a skinny white sashing was my solution and I used the BigHugeLabs mosaic tool to help confirm my decision.

Selvage colourblock layout option 1
In the final layout, the 1" sashing borders every 10" block

I was seriously loving this quilt (and there was still quite a bit of selvage on my floor), so I decided to keep going and add a border to enlarge it.  The border is colour-blocked, too! I pieced selvage strings into 4 1/2" wide strips of newsprint and planned the border colours to coincide with the outside blocks of the quilt top. The quilt ended up about 75" square. It's quilted with a wool batting (a first for me - I like the puffiness!). I stitched the ditch around each block to stabilize, then stippled with matching coloured thread over the selvages.  The border is quilted with a figure 8 pattern. This quilting may have required a rather extravagant custom Aurifil thread box purchase.  As you might expect by now, the binding was also pieced to match the colour-blocking.

Selvage colourblock by Poppyprint  Selvage colourblock by Poppyprint

I'm so happy that I saved my selvages so that I have this beautiful memory quilt of all my favourite fabrics. Once this quilt was done, I cleaned up my remaining selvage strings, stuffed them in a big plastic bag and gave them to a friend. I won't be making another selvage quilt and it isn't because this wasn't a ton of fun, it's just that I don't feel like saving and storing selvages anymore. I'm on to the next thing!  

Selvage colourblock by Poppyprint
Here's Selvage Colour Block hanging at my traditional guild's show last June. The entire summer and fall got away from me and I still have not succeeded in a proper outdoor photoshoot for this quilt!

Thanks for getting through this super long quilt story. If you've still got any tea left in your cup, go and check out the other festival entries here!