The Boathouse Quilt

62572818_10217158581211190_503893221093408768_nThis summer, much of my sewing has revolved around presents. My daughters are of an age when many of their friends are getting married and having babies, so I am thrilled to commemorate the events in fabric. They are thrilled to have me do it. One lovely young lady is getting a cushion, but I felt she was being short changed, and I thought, “I’ll make her a quilt.” She’s very socially and environmentally conscious, so I dragged out my orphan blocks with the intention of crafting them into a present. I sent this picture to my daughter, her good friend, who said, “No to the quilt, Mom. The cushion will be perfect.” Translation: “I love the cushion, but that quilt is out of control.”65396086_10217158560210665_4575262711482417152_nI can’t honestly say I blamed her, but I realized that I wanted to make the quilt. I REALLY wanted to make the quilt. I thought, “Who will want this?”. The obvious answer was, “Me.” It would live by the water, keeping me cozy in the early mornings and late evenings when I took beverages of various kinds to enjoy beside the pond. It would be my Boathouse quilt.

Talk about a dREAMi project! I dropped everything, including the cushion, and made this quilt. It took a week, start to finish, despite the fact I work most days and had a number of evening social events. We won’t discuss when I started sewing in the morning. Firstly, I turned the compass into a square. It looks like it no longer points due north, but when it is on my wharf, it does. The wharf faces north west.

The wall was too small. I moved the blocks onto the design floor. You think I’m joking? The floor has an open staircase on one side, so you can go partly upstairs and survey it. 

The arrangement on the left came first. Then I found some more orphans.  I removed the screaming curved block on the right edge and substituted a star. Some placements were obvious, like the flying geese with the flying goose, but others were not. I felt there needed to be a unifying element. There were lots of 2″ squares, but that didn’t quite do the trick. Then I discovered some strips of 1″ squares that I had assembled for another project but didn’t use. All of a sudden, I was happy. I did a little more editing as I assembled the flimsy, making changes on the fly. Partial seams and rotary cutter were keys to success.

Then I purchased some thick, very soft fleece, and some thin polyester batting and quilted it. I’m always a little leery of backing with stretchy fleece, and keep the motifs simple- I have had some very puckering experiences. This went amazingly well. There are flowers and waves and hearts and fish and a giant feather. There are even a few words, like “hen, turkey, chicken, DUCK.”  That was our chant to get reluctant swimmers in the water. It’s Ok. You don’t have to get in today. 65687728_10217158581171189_7579872354017214464_nAh, the joys of living alone! I have a sewing room and a half downstairs, but love to use the kitchen table for binding quilts. On went the plain navy; anything else was just too much for this fussy quilt. I finished hand sewing it down this morning and took it to the pond to take some pictures.

The fog was just lifting, and the light was really amazing, all bright but diffused. Here are some shots.

I’m calling it the Boathouse Quilt. Here’s the boathouse with its quilt in front.

You can just imagine me, sitting in the chair, enjoying the view.

These are the results of my change in vantage point: standing, sitting and lying.

When the sun was almost out, I tried to get some shots of the texture, but they’re not great. The quilt is quilted. You can trust me on that. 62572818_10217158581211190_503893221093408768_nBecause this is my absolutely favourite shot, I’m showing it again. And now, I must get back to that cushion.

Happy week of celebrating on both sides of the 49th parallel.

Linking up with Sandra’s dREAMi round up at mmmquilts

and Dione at the Clever Chameleon.

Black and White

This year’s Maritime Modern Quilt Guild Executive Challenge was to make a black and white quilt with a pop of colour. Here’s my response.64249993_10217065776011118_2352685631940853760_n

My first idea was to quilt the joke, “What’s black and white and red all over?” I had a fat quarter of Daily Prophet newspaper that would be prominent on the back. I needed an alphabet to make “black” and “white”, so I went on an internet hunt and arrived at Fons & Porter’s Quilting Quickly Alphabet quilt, for which there is even a video. I bought the back issue in which it appeared and went into production. 64642392_10217054849177954_7688071741368696832_nSee anything funny? Well, yes, those colours are reversed. After all, I was quilting a joke. There’s also a bit of an optical illusion when you look at the red background, especially in the “white”. For a second one morning, I wondered what I had made because the red came to the foreground, but a coffee set that to rights.

Then I added the ampersand in bias tape made with the biggest bias tape maker I could find. 64426588_10217054849417960_2581217345657634816_nNext came the rest of the background. 64451024_10217054849897972_7941266042062372864_nAs I wondered what technique to use for “What’s”, I realized I had met the challenge. I had a black and white quilt because it said “black and white”. No needle turned appliqué for me! No figuring out how to add “all over”! The top was finished. All I had to do was quilt it.

I pieced a back out of black and white fabrics from my stash and pondered the quilting. Here’s the back. My esteemed photographer, Gillian, pointed out that in this shot, the quilt looks like a nose. We then changed location. 64651039_10217065776931141_7380490613403156480_n

My original plan was to do some wild quilting with feathers and swirls and all manner of fun things in that huge negative space.

In February, I had been to Memphis for a few days before Quiltcon, and visited the fabulous National Civil Rights Museum that chronicled the civil rights struggles of blacks in America. It was located in the hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot, and was incredibly moving.  As I worked on my quilt listening to the morning news this spring, I heard terrible reports of hatred and discrimination and intolerance. Suddenly, I no longer wanted my quilt to be an easy joke, but a statement. Suddenly, that “black” in white and “white” in black were significant. And then I knew what the quilting needed to be.

I sewed parallel lines over the entire background, mimicking ruled paper, and then I added excerpts from Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech. Somehow, the words I needed to write flowed easily onto the fabric, and in no time, the quilting was done. The text is hard to capture in a picture; it is subtle, sewn, as it was, in 40wgt thread.


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out its creed:   We hold these truths to be…all men are created equal. …When we allow freedom ring, all God’s children… black men and white men… will be able to join hands and sing…Free at last.”

After it was shown at Guild, Gillian and I took the quilt on a road trip. I wanted to photograph it by a church, in honour of the Negro spiritual that Dr. King had quoted.  We found the charming Church of St. John the Baptist in the Annapolis Valley, and she took these terrific pictures while I held the quilt.


May we all live in the freedom that Dr. King imagined.

Linking up with Beth at Love, Laugh, Quilt and Beth Sellars at Cooking up Quilts.

Building a Home

Last month I had the good fortune to visit Poland.  I had a marvellous time seeing the sights, visiting museums, listening to Chopin’s music, eating local delicacies and walking. Always walking. As I walked, I invariably passed churches. They were everywhere and they were beautiful; they had to be seen to be appreciated. This is the interior of St. Anne’s Church in Warsaw, for which I had a particular affinity, even if there is an unnecessary “e” in the name.



Built in the 1800’s, it is airy and light, compared to many of the much older churches, and has absolutely beautiful art work in delicate, pastel, colours. I thought they would make a great palette for a quilt.

The first weekend after I came home, I attended a workshop with Krista Hennebury of Poppyprints, called Round Peg, Square Hole. Have you found there is nothing like a workshop to generate UFOs? I have. After last year’s push to finish my PhD with Quilting Gail, I am determined not to create any more projects half done that make demands on my psyche. My daughter had requested a wedding quilt for friends whose decor is neutral and uncluttered, the opposite of my usual aesthetic. I decided to make a few workshop blocks using the colours of St. Anne’s, set them in Essex linen and call it a quilt. I used blue/green Essex, dusty rose Liberty quilting cotton, and an aged Carolyn Friedlander light tan to go with the Art Gallery mist. I felt like I was back in the 80’s, wanted another colour, and after auditioning, added the brown with white polka dot Dear Stella.



After some consultation with my friend Gillian, the blocks were arranged. I sewed two pieces of the linen onto the strip and hated it. Tried the mist. It was even worse. Sorry for the quality of these pictures. I couldn’t stand the combinations long enough to take decent ones.



What if I added stripes, like a Hudson’s Bay blanket? They would carry the logs into the background.

62409012_10216990894419125_7381132822683058176_nOh my goodness, no. What to do? I was not going to make a whole quilt of those labour intensive log cabins. Then I remembered Gillian had made some 2×4 blocks recently. Come to think about it, I made baby quilts this spring with them. I made a few blocks.

62050542_10216990894659131_7052694517484355584_nThank you, Film in the Fridge, publisher of the 2×4 tutorial. You saved the day.



I had a few log cabins left, trimmed them to size, and added them to the 2×4’s for interest (and to keep them out of my orphan block pile), and had a finished top. 62021059_10216990895819160_5661599316624539648_nIf you look closely, you’ll see the odd block. I thought I’d put a little love in the quilt because it is, after all, a wedding quilt. There’ll be more pictures when it’s quilted, but I was so happy with it, I had to share it.62101034_10216990895739158_7915241508071014400_nHere’s it is, Building a Home, hanging peacefully, contentedly, on the line.

Linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

and Myra at Busy Hands Quilts.