Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Finishes

2014 was a really productive year. Unfortunately, I did a terrible job of blogging about them. My goal for 2015 is to write a blog post for every finish, even if the post is nothing more than a photo and title.

Based on the contents of my Instagram and iPhone photo albums, it looks like I made:
  • 3 dresses (all Monetas!)
  • 2 Mabel skirts
  • 6 blouses (Wiksten tank, Tova tank, 2 Sailor tops and 2 Scout tees)
  • 10 Modern Instabee blocks
  • At least three pillows, but almost certainly more.
  • 3-6 mini quilts
  • 2 Nikki totes
  • Numerous mug rugs and coffee cozies
  • 4 quilts and 1 quilt top
This list is definitely incomplete, but I've spent too much time already trying to recall my finishes. Next year, I'll do a better job of keeping track!

I made a video on Flipagram of all the finishes. Enjoy!

A video posted by Lisa (@modern_balabusta) on

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Current Quilty Obsession!

Coffee sleeves! I made one for my colleague (actually my boss but she hates being called that) and several others have requested one of their own. 

These sleeves are so much fun to make and use up the tiny scraps you can't bear to part with. Here are today's creations!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Introducing the Epic Quilt

You guys, I did it! My Marcelle Medallion quilt is finally finished. This quilt was a true labour of love. I stretched myself in so many ways! I created my very first paper-piecing template (see how I did it here). I sewed equilateral triangles for the first time. I fully embraced the scrappy low volume background trend, whilst also playing with volume in general. Every border meant more design decisions, and I looked to my Instagram friends and blog readers for input. And I quilted a huge spiral which looks AMAZING if I do say so myself!

This is one of those times when I really wish I was a better photographer. These photos just don't do this quilt justice.

I feel so happy when I look at this Epic Quilt. This is my very favourite colour palette of all time. Chartreuse! Teal! Pink!  I'm pretty sure I used over fifty different fabrics. The quilt was over a year in the making and now that's it finished I'm itching to start another wild one.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Marcelle Medallion Update

Remember my Marcelle Medallion quilt? The one I started last September? September 2013. I finished the quilting last night. I'll be working on binding this week and I'm stoked. Here's a preview:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bee Quick

My boss texted me this morning to request a coffee sleeve. In an effort to save money, she bought a Koenig coffee machine. Personally, this would never work for me, because I crave the steamed milk and espresso combo that only a good latte can offer. 

Here's what I stitched up this afternoon. 
The bee is from one of my favourite fabric lines called Just Wing It by MoMo. It's one of the few scraps I have left and I've been looking for the right opportunity to use it. The button is from The Workroom's amazing Button Dept.

I love these little projects that can be finished in one sitting and let me sew freestyle!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sew Intertwined Quilt

Way back in July 2012, I joined the Sew Intertwined Quiltalong. I liked the pattern and was excited to try my first all solids quilt. Things got off to a rocky start. The first step was to make a large dresden. I love dresden blocks, but I miscounted the blades which led to a colour arrangement that I wasn't very happy with.

Still, I continued on to the next set of blocks. These were fairly simple blocks made up of four patches and HSTs and they came together quickly.  The final set of blocks could either be paper pieced to pieced using y-seams. I was a fairly new quilter and y-seams felt scary so I planned to paper-piece and even got started on it. But it was ardorous and I put it aside. Over the last few years I've looked at the blocks and thought to myself, "I should really finish these."

This August, I finally admitted to myself that I was never going to complete those paper-pieced blocks. I also admitted that the dresden wasn't working for me either. But, could I do something with the simple blocks that I did like...?

Indeed, I could! I added borders to the blocks to make the quilt front, and made an improv log cabin using the dresden block as the centre for the back. I added in an extra block at the top for fun. I quilted it with straight lines with random spacing, which is one of my go-to quilting choices because it always looks great and it's fast too!  Finally, I bound this quilt with a happy rainbow striped binding.

It's surprising how much I adore this quilt, given it's not-so-great beginnings. I love the colours and that it's done completely in solids (all Kona). I gave this quilt to my Nana and she loved it too. I hope it will keep her warm this winter when she's sitting and crocheting in front of the tv.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Trying Again

I used to blog regularly, but with working full time with two children has really wiped me out. Plus, Instagram allows me to easily post pictures of my WIPs and get instant feedback from other quilters. 

Still, I'd like to document my finishes, and keep notes about my projects so that I can look back on them, especially the gifted FOs. I've loaded the Blogger app on my iPhone and iPad. I have no idea if this will help me post more frequently and I guarantee more typos, but I'm going to give it a try!

Today I finished two mug rugs. These are to be gifted to my colleagues who have been covering my clients during an extended absence from work. In one, I appliqu├ęs some hexies that I made forever ago in an English Paper Piecing class I took with Johanna Masko at The Workroom. I echo quilted around the flower. The other uses some Comma mini charms. I improv pieced this one and stitched in the ditch. I really love this mug rug! My colleague loves grey and yellow so I'm sure this will be a hit!

Over the next few weeks I hope to post some of the projects I made this summer. In the meantime, please follow me on Instagram 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Oh Hai There

You thought I'd forgotten about you, right? Not true! I've been sewing up a storm. I just haven't been sharing it here on the blog. If you'd like to see what I'm up to, please follow me on Instagram. I post daily, and often, multiple times a day!

So, the big news is that I recently fell down the garment sewing hole. I've been making ALL THE CLOTHES! I even bought myself a second hand serger and have been tackling knits.  Have you seen the new Colette patterns? Colette has made two knit patterns, Mabel and Moneta and they come in plus sizes! Sweet! 

I've made two versions of the Moneta so far. The first is a heavier knit. I made Version 1 exactly as per the pattern, including the lapped collar. The bodice is lined - I used a Michael Miller knit that I had left over from a skirt I made last summer. This was my first time using clear elastic to gather a skirt and I didn't much enjoy it. In making this version, I realized that I wanted to make the bodice a bit longer, but otherwise, the fit is fabulous. Also, bonus! In this knit, the dress is dressy enough to wear to work!

My second version is a lighter jersey knit. I also made this version sleeveless, but this time I omitted the collar. I also made the bodice an inch and a half longer and I think it's far more flattering. I lengthened the skirt by three inches too. I used clear elastic again to gather the skirt, even though I found it a beast to work with the first time around. I tried a different gathering method though. Colette's tutorial shows two methods and I liked method two much better gather the skirt first using basting stitches, then sew on the elastic, versus "stretch and sew."

Stay tuned for more garment sewing goodness coming your way. I have FOUR shirts to share with you! In the meantime, see you on Instagram!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

All Work, and a Little Sew

Wow, the return to work really has impacted my sewing time, almost as much as Instagram has reduced my urge to blog. I have found some time to get my sew on in the last month.  Here's a quick catch up.

First, I made my March block for my Modern Instabee queen bee. I really love how it turned out. I had a real aha! moment when I discovered how to cut my fabric to ensure that all of my text print in my HSTs were right-side-up (you rotate half of them 90 degrees before sewing).
I pulled out a very old WIP, an HST project using Flora charms that got stuck in the trimming phase. I spent quite a few hours trimming but have over half left to go and am once again stuck. Trimming is beyond boring!
Levi got in on the action, sans blade of course.
Because I just can't help myself, I started a new project using fabric I won from Mad About Patchwork. I really wanted to cut into the Anna Marie Horner prints I'd been coveting and decided to try a paper pieced star from Carol Doak's book, 50 Fabulous Paper Pieced Stars.
I love the resulting star so much that I've decided to keep going and make at least three more blocks from the book in the same colour family. Because I'm nuts and don't have enough WIPs.

I bought some wool crepe to make myself another Hummingbird. I might wait and bring this to Stash Bash and make it there.
And, since I'm not getting time at the machine, I've been chipping away at my Once Upon a Time sampler. Progress is slow, but enjoyable.
 That's all for now. I hope to have more to say in the coming month than I did in March!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Quilted Liberty Pillow

I recently pulled out my Lucky Stars block-of-the-month blocks and decided to turn them into smaller projects. I made a mug rug with my 6 inch block and was extremely happy with the result. So when I needed to make something to be given as a prize for a fundraiser I'm attending tonight, turning one of the larger blocks into a pillow was an obvious choice. This was my first time making a quilted pillow case and I decided on two design elements: an invisible zipper and piping.

First, I quilted the block the same way I did the mug rug: stitching in the ditch of the star points and echo quilting in the negative space. Next I had to choose piping fabric. I wanted to pull out the lighter blue from the centre star, but I didn't want to use one of exact prints, because I felt they were too busy.
After some consultation with my friends on Instagram, I went with the blue and white floral Liberty print. I made an error when making the piping. I should have cut the fabric on the bias, but instead I did it on the straight of grain. This meant that when I got to the corners of the pillow, there was some wrinkling. This Sew Mama Sew tutorial explained that had I cut on the bias, wrinkles would be avoided. I'll know better next time.
Attaching the invisible zipper was tricky due to the piping. It got in the way of the invisible zipper foot. But I was able to make it work by sewing slowly and using my fingers to push the fabric through.
 Piping and quilting detail shots.
I am totally smitten with this pillow. I think there are more of these in my future!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Liberty Star Mug Rug

Sometimes you need a quick finish. Sometimes you want to clear WIPs from your list. Sometimes your wants and needs collide.

When I first started Elizabeth Dackson's Lucky Star block of the month, I thought I'd make a large and small version of each block, using Liberty of London's first quilting cotton line. I made three months of the larger blocks, but only one of the small. 

Last night I decided to turn the little block into a mug rug for my office desk.
I stitched-in-the-ditch around each triangle element of the star and then did some straight line in the white space.
I used a multi-coloured print as the backing fabric. It's such a beautiful print. The binding is Lizzy House's Pearl Bracelets. Always a favourite and always right for any project.
I think I'm ready to go back to work now!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Curves are Beautiful

It's been a productive week. I mentioned recently that I'd joined a Bee, after a long hiatus from swaps, bees, etc. I wrote about my thoughts on bees here if you are interested.  This new Bee started on Instagram and quickly grew to 12 hives in North American, plus an Australian version and possibly a UK one too. It's using the book Modern Bee: 13 Quilts to Make with Friends. Our first Queen Bee chose a scrappy circle block. I'm usually really good with curves. I followed the instructions, against my better judgement for this block. It called for using freezer paper as a foundation and suggested leaving the paper on when sewing the circle to the outer fabric. I used a lot of pins, because I've always thought, there can never be too many pins, right? I was wrong.
The problem with this construction is that the freezer paper doesn't have any give. When sewing curves, I find you need a certain amount of give to ease in the curve. So while I didn't have any real puckers, I also couldn't get the block to lie flat.
To add insult to injury, I spilled Bailey's Irish Cream on the block! Lesson learned: don't drink and sew! I probably could have got the Bailey's out but no amount of starch was going to smooth this sucker out.

Today I tried again using muslin as my foundation for the scrappy circle and was much more successful. This is the one that will go in the mail. I prefer the shade of green in the first block, but they didn't have it at my LQS so I had to go with what was available.

In other quilty news, thanks to some helpful friends at The Workroom, I got my Medallion Quilt basted last night.  I also restarted my Once Upon a Time sampler cross stitch. I've been messing up on it a lot for two reasons: I've been working on it late at night while tired and I've been using linen. So last night I bought Aida cloth. Hopefully this will lead to less errors and actual progress!

For my master list of WIPs, see this post. This week, one thing got crossed off the list:
February block for Modern Instabee HOORAY!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

WIP Wednesday: List all the Things

On a fairly regular basis, I think to myself, I should really finish my WIPs.  Then I read about a new quilt-along, become inspired by a new pattern, or start drooling over a certain fabric in my stash or LQS, and my WIPs are put aside once again. In an effort to finish more, I thought I'd review the projects I've started, either in my head or in fabric.

Part One: Stuff I'm actually working on
  1. Liberty placemats - new project and needed for my dining room table.
  2. February block for Modern Instabee (yes, I joined a Bee this year, after a year of no bees or swaps).
  3. Once Upon a Time sampler - yeah, I drank the kool-aid.
  4. Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt - ongoing block completion here and there including this one, No. 7, Birds in the Air.
Part Two: Stuff I've Planned But Haven't Started
  1. Denyse Schmidt churn dash quilt - using fabrics from Hello My Name is Quilt (thanks Shannon!). I have this all planned out, just need to cut and sew!
  2. Vintage Quilt Revival Sampler - there's a QAL in progress hosted by Suki which I want to get in on, having already purchased the book and pulled fabric from my stash. They are already into week three, so I'm behind before I've even started! 
  3. Mini Quilt for Karen - I haven't actually planned this one, but I need to make a gift from my therapist who I've been seeing for almost a decade. I'm graduating! 
  4. Chambray Wiksten Tova.
  5. Railroad Denim skirt (either another Hummingbird or a wrap skirt).
  6. Baby quilt for expecting friend (I should pick something from Part Three or Part Four for this one!
Part Three: Stuff I've Started That Aren't Seeing Any Action
  1. Flora HST quilt - I have a huge stack of HSTs that just need trimming and arranging. I should get on it.
  2. Sew Intertwined Quilt - a QAL that stalled that I no longer really like. I do like some of the blocks though so I should sew them up and be done with it. Maybe I'll donate it once completed.
  3. 3 x 6 Purple and Green quilt - I have twelve blocks that need sashing. Again, I think this is a donation quilt, maybe to the Toronto Jewish Quilters group I quilted with shortly after Lila was born.
  4. Lucky Stars BOM - I only made three blocks. I should turn them into something. Pillows?
  5. Lila's Tula quilt - I'm half done the FMQ for this quilt. Why don't I just finish it!?!
  6. Mom's Lush Pillow Covers - I made two but there are two more to go. She bought the fabric. I have no excuse for not starting.
  7. My sister's box of fabric from Africa. She asked me to "make stuff" with it. I will. Eventually.
Part Four: Fabric Stacks Waiting to be Turned into Something Awesome

This section requires some explaining. You know how it is right? You just have to own pieces of that awesome fabric line. The fact that you aren't sure when or what you'll make from it is secondary.
  1. Briar Rose quilt - I have an FQ bundle
  2. Comma mini something - I have 2 mini charm packs
  3. Origins something - I have yardage and a charm pack I picked up in a destash.
  4. Tula 10 inch charms - I did three rounds of a swap and vaguely intended to use them for her City Sampler (I own the book). I still plan to do day.
  5. ROAR FQs - bought during a sale with the intention of using for a baby quilt
I think that's everything. No, not EVERYTHING everything. I have other fabric in my stash, of course, even some charms and bundles, but they aren't slated for something awesome...yet!

I leave you today with a finish, my Marcelle Medallion quilt top. I'm going to do an separate post though, so this photo is of the top minus the final border. Check back tomorrow(ish) for the reveal post!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, January 27, 2014

I Used to Blog...

Now I just post photos on Instagram. Here are some recent highlights:

The beginnings of my Once Upon a Time sampler (and my first cross stitches since I was a teenager):

Patching my favorite jeans with Chicopee corduroy:

I destashed some of my yardage as part of The Great Fabric Destash on Instagram.

And finally, I took this little sweetheart on a trip to visit my sister. She did wonderfully on the plane!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Troubleshooting Volume

I'm still working away, although rather slowly, on my Marcelle Medallion.
I'm currently working on the second to last border. This is the cross border and the pieces are tiny. Each cross requires nine little bits of fabric. There are 32 cross. The cutting alone took me a week.
Like borders two and four, I planned to make the crosses high volume and the background low volume. I used down teal and pink low volume prints in the flying geese border and I thought I'd do the same with the cross border.
But when I laid out the crosses, it just wasn't working. Taking a photo helped me see that the pink Chicopee prints were too saturated. The teal low volume prints were standing out too much. It was time to edit. Unfortunately this meant more cutting. Which I dreaded. But I did it anyway.
Much better.