Wednesday, December 5, 2018

True North Cowl

I've been keeping busy with non-blog related things lately, but wanted to post about some news... I released my first pattern!

True North Cowl modelled by Stacy from Craft de Ville

It is a simple cowl with an asymmetrical closure, designed to keep you cozy during the winter. It is extremely beginner-friendly but also endlessly customizable; each one is unique! 

I taught it as a workshop at Craft de Ville in November and everyone had fun making it. The majority of the time was spent picking out fabrics and buttons... always the best part! The pattern is for sale as both a printed pattern and a digital download at Craft de Ville. If you are in Montreal, Stacy also offers a variety of flannels that are great for making this pattern, stop by and check her shop out! 

There may be other patterns down the road, but for now just wanted to share this one with the world. If you make one, I'd love to see it... use the hashtag #TrueNorthCowl on Instagram so I can see your lovely work! Stay warm out there, kids... 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

New - Quilt binding services offered

I am officially now offering my quilt binding services to the quilting public! Binding seems to be something that either you love or hate to do... personally, I love it. It is a quiet, meditative way to finish up a quilt that I really enjoy doing.


If you are in the camp that doesn't enjoy it, I'd be happy to help you put a professional finishing touch on your quilts. For full details, check out the Services Offered link at the top of my blog (or follow this link: https://queenofwandsstudio.blogspot.com/p/services-offered.html).

If you have any questions that I haven't covered in the above link, or wish to discuss a project, please don't hesitate to get in touch: qowstudio@gmail.com

Friday, May 18, 2018

But then I made more...

The job hunt continues, so while I wait for Mr. Musk or Mr. Bezos to track me down and offer me zillions of dollars to work for them, I am filling my downtime with lots of crafty things. I have been digging through my piles of half-finished projects and making surprisingly good progress on my infinite 'to do' list.

Recently I've had the same conversation with a few different people about creativity, and it has gotten me thinking. I've been asked, in one form or another, how I got started sewing/quilting/crafting/etc. I always kind of dreaded being asked that question as I never had a good answer for it. I didn't sit at the knee of a kindly grandmother when I was little and watch her work magic with a needle, I didn't bond with sisters (I don't have any) over sewing our own clothes, I didn't even take any Home Ec classes... do those still exist? 

When people ask how I got so creative, I tell
them it is because I ate paste as a child*. 

My default answer when asked "How did you learn how to do X?" is usually a casually dismissive "Oh, I don't have a good story for that, I just kind of taught myself." And then recently I realized, that actually *is* a pretty good story. I taught myself. Damn, that's kind of impressive!

When I was in my 20s, for some reason I decided I needed a red and off-white striped scarf. I don't know why I decided this... I was still living in California at the time, living in a climate where I barely needed a coat, let alone a scarf. But, a scarf was required and unsurprisingly, I couldn't find anything that fit the bill. Then one day, it dawned on me that if I couldn't find one to buy, I could just make one for myself! While that doesn't sound like an earth-shattering idea in this day and age, back in the 90's, DIY wasn't really a thing yet so it wasn't as natural a conclusion to come to. So I got myself some red and off-white yarn and some knitting needles and proceeded to figure out how to knit.

It did not go well.

I did eventually figure it out, and promptly realized it was not the hobby for me. It was slow and fiddly and my 20-something patience levels were not up to the task. The scarf was eventually set aside and forgotten, unfinished. A little anti-climactic, I know... but that failed experiment planted an important seed in the back of my mind... I could make things myself. That small thought had a huge impact on my mindset going forward.

A few years later, I moved to Montreal (and learned the actual importance of a good scarf!) and the same idea came to me when I wanted a skirt but couldn't find anything I liked, so I made one myself. And it was terrible. But then I made more, and they got better! One Christmas I decided that making a quilt as a gift for my mom would be an easy (hah!) and inexpensive (HAH!) thing to do, so I made her a quilt. And it was awful. But then I made more, and they got better. I have continued to sew my own quilts, clothing and bags, each time improving a little bit, and some 15 years later here we are.

No capes!

So now I know that I do have a pretty awesome 'origins' story to tell people when they ask how I got started sewing.  :)

* I've never actually eaten paste. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

#unemployedandcrafty (and the Death Star)

Well, first things first... I finally finished my patchwork Death Star quilt and sent it off to its new home!!! Getting a good picture of this guy was impossible... the wind kept coming up just as I was about to snap a photo (of course), so the perfectionist in me insists that I point out the Death Star itself is actually round on the quilt, it's just the drape of the fabric that makes it look a little misshapen ;)

Death Star front

AT-AT back
That's no moon on the back, it is actually another little Death Star and the AT-ATs are from QuietPlay's paper piecing pattern. I should have taken some more detailed photos of it, but I was in such a hurry to get it in the mail, this will just have to do ;) The title of the quilt is "What does it do? It does death!", and if you don't know what that's from, you should watch this:


So, in other news, my dull office job of more than a decade has been outsourced to the Philippines and at the beginning of this month I found myself abruptly unemployed. Yeah... still processing that one but I am trying to look at it as a positive thing. Not sure *how* it's positive just yet, but I'm sure I'll figure it out! ;)

The job had become very stressful over the past few years, so a part of me is very glad to be done with it... but it paid the bills, so another part of me is understandably freaking out about finding something else. Yet another part of me is saying now is the time to start a creative business or learn a new trade and get into something I enjoy doing. It's exciting to have so many paths open to me at once... and terrifying to not know what's at the end of any of those paths. Failure? Success? Another bland dead-end job, or the career path of my dreams? Anyone have a crystal ball I could borrow?

If nothing else, this gives me plenty of time to catch up on some of my work-in-progress projects!!! I have a long list of partially done or needing to be started projects, so hopefully I will soon have lots of finished projects to share with you here. But first, coffee...

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Chubby bunnies and flannel quilts

Well 2018 is chugging right along... sorry to have been so quiet here for the past few months. It is surprisingly hard to keep upon a blog when you have Instagram!

This winter has been relatively quiet, as they tend to be. Winter in Quebec is a time (for me, at least) to hunker down and enjoy some quiet time at home. I don't do winter sports so when it's cold out I tend to stay in and keep myself busy in the workroom.

And busy I have been! Since last I posted, I have finished a surprising number of projects (how is my "to finish" pile still so big, then?!?)... I won't share them all here, you're welcome to check out my Instagram feed if you want to see them all. But a few of the highlights have been:


The Ugly Plaid Quilt, part deux. I absolutely love the variety of plaids in the Mammoth Flannel bundle and when our beloved couch quilt, which had affectionately been dubbed the "ugly plaid quilt" reached the end of its life, I knew I had to replace it with a quilt made from that bundle. I do not think this guy is ugly, of course, but it's name is a nod to its predecessor.


Chubby bunnies! With Easter on its way, I'm making a litter of these little guys for the nieces and nephews. You can get the pattern from Fluffmonger over on Etsy and make your own! Seriously! Get your own... I'm not making any more for other people :P


This is Karl... short for tomtekarl, a Scandinavian gnome. He is from a larger quilt pattern which I made into a wall hanging as a gift for a friend. She amazingly snagged me a personalized signed book from John Green, so I wanted to make her something as a thank you. In fact, he was such a hit another friend asked for one so Karl's brother is currently in the works and he will be travelling to Columbia as a mother-in-law gift.


I've also been participating in the Canadian Modern Quilt Bee with a few fellow Canadian quilters. It has been a blast getting to do a different block each month... I need to make a few more of my block (above) and get it turned into a finished quilt! It's been so much fun, I've already signed up for the second round of it starting later this year.

I also have some semi-secret projects on the go that will hopefully be finished soon so I will share those when the time comes. I also bought the pattern for Ginger Jeans in the hopes that I will make myself a pair and see what everyone is raving about. That's the plan, anyway... I have yet to make myself a pair of pants I was happy with, so we'll see how it goes.

A lot of people in the sewing/quilting/crafting community make resolutions for the year ahead (how silly does it feel to be talking about new years resolutions in March? I'm such a slacker), but I'm not much of a one for resolutions. For now, my goal is to work on getting through some of my in-progress projects, like finishing my Halloween Cat quilt, the Death Star quilt, and making a few of the pieces of clothing that have been waiting for my attention since last summer. We'll see how much of it I actually get done ;)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Yay, autumn!

It's the best time of year! Summer is lovely and all, but my favorite season is autumn. I can finally break out the hoodies and the slow cooker. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday! I even have a stash of Halloween fabric that I've collected over the years... the plan was to make an awesome quilt for myself, but I love it all so much I can't bear to cut into it yet ;)


The summer months are a break for the Montreal Modern Quilt Guild, so I had plans to catch up on a lot of sewing, but I ended up taking a break myself and enjoying the time off. We finally got a community garden plot (after years of wait list limbo), so I spent a lot of time weeding and got a few cucumbers, tomatoes and a heap of lettuce for my efforts. Next year I think we'll tweak our plant and layout choices a bit, but I've been enjoying being a gardener!

I'm participating in my first online quilting bee, the Canadian Modern Quilt Bee. We started in September (with the Raspberry Kiss block) and it goes for 6 months... I was so excited to get started, I made my blocks the first weekend and had to wait ages for the next (we get a new block each month). We just got the block for October (the Checker block), so that will be my project this weekend ;) I'm in charge of November's block, so I'd better figure out which one I want to do... it's currently a toss-up between two. Maybe I'll just flip a coin.

I did manage to get a few small crafty projects done, including my first time making the 1-hour Basket:



Finished a quilt top (sorry for the less-than-exciting photo, I'll post a better one when it's done):



And even knit myself a new scarf! 


So I am prepared for the cool autumn weather... bring it on!

Friday, June 23, 2017

#QuiltsforQC - update

Things have been quiet here lately, but that doesn't mean I've been sitting around twiddling my thumbs! The Montreal Modern Quilt Guild has been working furiously on the #QuiltsforQC project and we finally have everything done. We received contributions from every Canadian province, as well as many US states and even as far afield as Germany, Italy and Australia. All in all, we received enough to have 50 completed quilts to deliver to the mosque in Ste-Foy next month. :) 

45 of the finished quilts - boyfriend added for scale.

I still need to photograph all of the finished quilts and we will have a summary blog post over on the MMQG blog, if you want to see the quilts close-up. It has been a learning experience, but also a heart-warming one and I sincerely hope that these quilts will convey our love and support to the recipients. 

In other non-house block related news, I've gotten sucked into the Freshly Pieced 2017 Summer Sampler. I have a soft spot for HST star blocks so this pattern is right up my alley :D I don't know that I will make every single star pattern they include (there are a number of fiddly paper-pieced ones), but I've got scrap bins that are bursting at the seams so I've been making some scrappy Alchemy Stars to start with: 


This is putting me in the mood to work on an upcoming project for the MMQG (we are on summer break until September). We're trying a skillbuilder challenge that will take place throughout the year with a new block by a different guild member each month. I am doing HST star blocks in the winter, so it's a great excuse to bookmark a million and one different patterns and sew up some examples! Now that the summer break is here, and the QC project is wrapped up, I hope to finally dig into some of my own projects for a change... it has been ages since I've worked on anything for myself! Time for some selfish sewing :) 

Friday, April 7, 2017

100 years


I have posted this quilt and its story before, but I wanted to mention it again today as it is the 100th anniversary of the events that inspired it.


One hundred years ago on April 7th, 1917, Joseph, Stephen, and Walter Jacobs, and their friend, Francis Pomeroy went out onto the ice to hunt, but they would not return. Months later, a fishing gaff belonging to one of the brothers (below) washed ashore with a message carved in the handle, the only clue as to what became of them.

The gaff, currently housed in the museum on Fogo Island

While on their hunt, the weather had closed in and the ice drifted away from shore, they had apparently wandered for a few days until realizing there was no hope of getting back to land. They carved "lay down perish April 11" on the wooden handle of the gaff and sit it adrift, hoping the tides would take it to shore.

The gaff is currently housed in a museum on Fogo Island, a seemingly innocent everyday artifact until you learn the story behind it. Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea happened upon it on a visit to the island and was inspired to write the song 'Laying Down to Perish'. Seeing Mr. Doyle in concert, he shared the story that inspired the song which in turn inspired my quilt.

While I have never been to the island and I know nothing of the men's families, one hundred years later I am thinking about them.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

DIY: quilt frame

Last summer, one of my fellow Mtl MQG members brought her PVC quilt frame to an event and I immediately wanted one. You could use it for hand quilting, you could use it for basting, it was light-weight and broke down to be stored flat! Very handy indeed for the apartment-dwelling quilter! I looked online and while you can find them state-side for relatively cheap, they're quite a bit more expensive here in Canada... but perhaps I could make a DIY version?

Spoiler alert: I made a DIY version :P 

So one weekend, I gave my boyfriend an excuse to go to Home Depot and while he browsed, I made a bee-line for the plumbing department. There I grabbed:
You could also get some end caps for the feet and even PVC adhesive if you wanted to glue the frame together, but I wanted mine to be collapsible so I just got the basics; all told, the bill came out to about $40. Pro tip: Make sure the PVC pipes fit in your chosen mode of transport before buying them, or else find yourself a very tolerant boyfriend who is willing to spend the drive home desperately clutching the pipes that are partly hanging out of the passenger side window. ;) 

On the way home, I swung by the fabric store and grabbed two sets of Q-Snap replacement clamps (which fit nicely on 3/4" PVC pipe). Then at home I simply used the boyfriend's mitre box and hand saw to cut down the PVC pipe into the following measurements:

Friday, February 10, 2017

#QuiltsforQC

A few weeks back, B and I went by train to Quebec City for our anniversary. We stayed at the Chateau Frontenac, we ate some delicious food, we walked around the old part of the city, we had drinks at the hotel's swanky cocktail bar, it was a lovely weekend.

Chateau Frontenac looks like Hogwarts!

Then the following weekend, a young man with a gun walked into a Quebec City area mosque during evening prayers and opened fire, killing 6 people and injuring many more. I was already sick of hearing about hate and bigotry in the news following the US election and inauguration, so the news of this shooting was the last straw. I went to bed that night feeling horrible, and woke up feeling... well, still horrible, but determined to do something about it.

I reached out to my fellow MMQG exec members and we all agreed... we needed to do something. So, taking inspiration from the Ottawa MQG's Fort McMurray project and the Orlando MQG's Pulse nightclub project, both of which we had contributed to, we started the #QuiltsforQC project. Because what do quilters do when things get bad? We quilt ;)

We put out a call on our blog for quilters to make up 12.5" square house blocks that we would then collect and make into quilts. Our goal was to have enough quilts to gift one to each of the families that lost a loved one in the shooting, and one to each of the people who were injured. We chose the 'house' theme so as to remind the recipients that this is their home and they have a right to feel safe here, because we as their neighbors and their community love and support them.

It has been heartbreaking to hear about the victims, and the grieving families they leave behind... but it has also been heartwarming to read all of the messages of love and support we have received for the victims from people wanting to help. It has not yet been two weeks since we posted the call to action and we have received offers and support from every Canadian province, at least a dozen different US States and even as far away as Italy! The Italian ladies will be mailing their blocks, although I was sorely tempted to offer to go collect them personally ;) We have received offers from people and guilds wanting to contribute everything from a few blocks, to full quilt tops and even completed quilts! There are even those who do not sew who have contributed funds to help us buy the supplies we will need to finish the quilts.

Last weekend B insisted that I show him how to use the sewing machine so that he could contribute a block, too. It took a while, but he picked out his fabrics, cut all of the pieces and sewed them together. He even did one of the seams on his grandmother's old treadle machine so that she could symbolically participate as well. I don't think he'll be taking up quilting any time soon, but he was pleased with the finished product. Here is his finished block:



If you'd like to see what others are doing, check out the hashtag #QuiltsforQC on Instagram. So far there are over 200 blocks posted publicly!

So as the blocks start to arrive in the mail from all over, our task begins in earnest as we need to start constructing the quilts. We will be holding a sew-in at Atelier Fiber Arts in Verdun on Sunday February 26th to kick things off... if you are local and would like to help out, come on by! If you're not local but still want to help, I encourage you to check out the MMQG's blog for more information.