Years ago I was invited to join Cynthia Frenette’s Fab Bee. On Cynthia’s month she asked us all to make blocks for a quilt for her husband, Norm, using her doodle fabric with greens and blacks. I had never met Norm but I’d seen a few pics of him and he had a bit of a biker look going on with some tats, but despite that he struck me as a rather gentle guy. I used this “tough softie” idea as the inspiration for my block. Now it may be odd making a heart for a chap you don’t know, but when I get making I like to follow the winds of intuition, and that’s where they was blowing. I mostly improv’ed the block. Here’s what it ended up looking like:
I thought it had potential and that I should tweak it to make a LOVE version, but it went into my sadly overflowing WIP folder and gathered dust for years. Fast forward to 2017! My new years’ resolution this year was to design a new pattern for my Etsy shop every month. I started with this one and after some fine-tuning I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I love these fabrics against the Essex Linen background. I called it “Love Heart Tattoo Pattern” and it’s available in my Etsy shop here.
I made the block into a pillow for our orange sofa, using an Ikea FJÄDRAR inner cushion.
FYI for the pillow I used my favourite flanged border and hidden zipper techniques that I have in this ILLUSION pillow pattern (also in my Etsy shop.)
Yes, I have a bit of a thing for Essex Linen! It is to my stash as eggs, bread and milk are to my grocery list. But hey, I’m open to alternatives too. Here’s a second version of the block I made using some text fabric and Kaffe Fassett shot cottons. I graduated the wings on this one for a bit of an ombré effect.
As soon as I’d made these two blocks I realized that I was onto something. Worldwide there is so much insanity going on, it’s truly heart breaking. We seem to be losing touch with what being good kind human beings is about. And I think whatever side of the fence you’re sitting on, we’re all quite emotionally charged about our view points. I think we need to process these feelings. So I decided that I need to make a series of these “emotion” tattoo quilt blocks. This being the first. I’m a bit behind blogging about them as I’m close to launching the fourth. Bear with me in the next short while as I’ll post each one individually. With each block / emotion I have found a source of symbolic meaning and inspiration. This is my message behind this LOVE block:
Sometimes it takes courage to love and be kind to someone different to you, not in your “tribe”, “other” than what you were taught is “normal” or “right”. The reality is human beings feel safer with those “like” them because we feel like it validates who we are. We need to own this to understand hate. But we also need to learn that we are actually stronger, not weaker, when we embrace that which is “other”, because as a group it provides us with diversified strengths. Validating who you are by surrounding yourself by others like you is a false sense of security. Allowing others to be strong around you builds everyone up as a group, which is way more powerful. So today my friends I challenge you to go out there and BE BRAVE, BE BOLD, reach out and BE KIND to someone that’s NOT in your tribe. ❤️️
This pattern seems to have hit a note with quite a few quilters. There are some real beauties out there that have been made so far. You can see them on Instagram with the hashtag: #lovehearttattoopattern You can also see some of the other blocks I’ll be posting with the hashtag: #tattooquilt If you make one please tag the pics so we can all see yours too.
I’ll finish off with this one by my lovely friend Lugi who made a gypsy styled version:
As anyone who knows me knows, I am a rainbow enthusiast. When asked what my favourite colour is I am somewhat stumped, and usually revert to providing a favourite colour combination. There’s something about the juxtaposition of colours that makes my heart skip a beat. So when I decided to design a quilt for a transparency quilt workshop that I was teaching, of course it had to be a rainbow. And a 16 colour one at that!
I combined this rainbow of solids with one of my faves Essex Yarn Dyed Linen. I love how the colours pop against the linen.
And for the binding I picked Alison Glass Geometry Sunset. The fractal colours are just perfect for this quilt design. And for the backing my daughter picked out the Alison Glass Abacus because it has the weeniest colour wheel that was clearly meant to be on this quilt.
I’m really pretty psyched with how it turned out. The PDF pattern is available in my Rainbow Mashup Quilt Pattern. Or you can buy the kit here at FabricSpark. (If Daryl is sold out of the kit, message her as she keeps a waitlist and restocks.)
Here’s my last pic from our photoshoot. Have a great day!
Canada’s new forward-thinking government has committed to helping tens of thousands of Syrian refugees find a new home in this beautiful country. I’m so grateful to be living in a place that is kind and generous. After reading and listening to so many heart-wrenching stories in the news about the risks and journeys these refugees have taken with small children in tow, I wanted to find a way to get involved, and somehow help make those coming to Canada feel welcomed and supported. I was guessing that others in Toronto might be feeling the same way. And you know how it is with quilty friends: makers gotta make! So I posted an idea on Instagram to host a little quiltathon to churn some quilts out to donate, and got a great response. Of course a quilty logo was in order. Here’s what I came up with:
Soon a plan was in place! Daryl of Fabric Spark kindly offered to help me coordinate the event, and organized donations of fabric from many of her suppliers.
We had a church hall and twenty-something quilters lined up. Everyone arrived with lots of enthusiasm, and we soon got stitching.
There was lots of cutting, pinning, stitching, collaboration, deliberation, contemplation, and of course, all around good banter. Donuts were donated, dunked and indulged in! (Thank you, Jay!)
This was one of my fave moments of the day when there was celebration as Deb finished her “Multi-Culti” quilt top. Such an awesome name and concept for this quilt. Love it!
Some generous long armer quilters who were keen to participate, but not able to attend the event, kindly offered to quilt some quilts for us. (Thank you Stacy Merton, Tania Denyer, and Karen Brown.) Also thanks to Steff Rose for your awesome quilting help.
I love how they quilted messages in these quilts.
A quilt arrived in the mail from an Oregon quilter who just wanted to be a part of the collaborative. She mailed wrapped it in an Oregon map!
Check out this beautiful parcel wrapped with a map of Portland – sent from Portland. My mailman was gushing over it. And best of all inside was our first "international" quilt donated to #quiltsforrefugees. Yippee! Thanks so much @mayathecat97741 you made my day. Sweet note and lovely quilt! It arrived right in the middle of my workshop today so the girls all got to see it too. Much excitement all around! #growingpileofgenerosity
Adrienne of Toronto MQG donated the fab Pick Up Sticks quilt that she had made out of the Quilt blocks she won in the block lotto. (Quilted by Stacey Merton and bound by Lauren of TMQG it truly was a community quilt!)
By the end of the day we were knackered, but we had a good start on a pile of quilts with more in the works. (We’re expecting over thirty!)
I designed some quilt labels for the quilts that recipients could know who made theirs, and also be able to track the story behind the quilt making if they were interested.
Our deadline for delivery of finished quilts is the end of February, and then they will be donated. More on the final quilts, and hopefully some recipient stories to follow. Watch this space! In the meantime, here’s a pic of a few that we have so far with some of the lovely ladies that made them.
A few little notes of thanks:
To Maggie Helwig, at St.Stephen-in-the-Fields, thanks for supporting the project and allowing us to use the church. Much appreciated!
To Daryl for all your help in making this happen. It’s so much more fun when you have a partner in crime. And to your suppliers for their fantastic fabric donations! Thank you!
To everyone who participated: Thanks for your time and energy! Obvious to say this, but these projects just don’t happen if no one jumps on board. (Extra hugs for the girls who drove all the way from Orangeville, and to Krista who managed to squeeze in a visit and a bit of binding while in town on a visit from Vancouver. Yay!)
And to my amazing husband and kids who, as usual, supported yet another one of my crazy ideas. They schlepped tables & equipment, packed the cars, drove the quilters, baked snacks, stitched quilts, and put up with a piles fabric and quilting on the dining room table. Love you guys!
And for anyone touched by projects like this, who might wish they could have been a part of it, here’s what I suggest: Make a quilt to donate! Find a local organization working with refugees to give it to, or mail it to me to donate on your behalf. Better yet, host your own sew-in to make quilts like we did. It’s such fun and a really great cause. So go for it!
Last year I participated in the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge with the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild. You had to use their Petal Pinwheels fabric in pretty much any way you wanted. There was something about the colours and the higgledy piggledy teeth-like print that reminded me of a sugar skull. So that’s what I decided on. I designed a pattern end I ended up with this:
I pieced the quirky teeth fabric for the mouth, and used reverse appliqué for the eyeballs. For the hearts and the cheeks I wanted some extra dimension, so I did a bit of stuffed appliqué – my version of trapunto. (I know, it’s not REAL trapunto, but it did the trick for me.)
When I posted it on Instagram it got a lot of positive feedback, so I put it on my list of things to make a pattern for. This month, Daryl from Fabric Spark and I decided to collaborate on a project for her Creative Festival booth. So I designed a simplified version of my skull pattern that would be a tad less daunting than the one above. Here’s how it looks:
Daryl made up kits with fabric panels with the skull embroidery pattern printed on, to save you having to trace it. Then she picked fabrics for cushion backgrounds that would work well with the Day of the Dead design theme. Her kits also included matching embroidery floss. She has a few kits left over that she plans on making available soon in her fabulous online store, Fabric Spark.
If you prefer to choose your own cushion fabric and buy just the pattern, you can get a PDF version in my Etsy store: HappySewLuckyShop.
Although there’s a fair bit of embroidery involved, it’s a great project for road trips or when you have to sit in the car waiting for your kids while they’re at music lessons. The appliqué part is not tricky, and the cushion itself is really simple to put together. You can get the 18″ pillow forms at Ikea or many fabric or upholstery stores.
If you bought one of the kits at Fabric Spark, or the pattern from my Etsy store, I’d love to see how yours turns out so please tag me on social media when you post it.
See you on Instagram! 🙂
BOO! The next TMQG meeting is in October, so our next block lotto is spectacularly Hallowe’en themed. I’ve had this eyeball quilt in my head for a while, so I figured this was the perfect time for it. The idea being a whole lot of googley eyes staring out of the darkness. Some nasty ones, some scaredy ones and some looking left and right to see who’s there. There will be lots of stories to tell with this quilt! It would also be awesome to hang from your front window as decoration on Halloween night.
A quick note to take care of business: This is a free tutorial written and designed by me. Any guild or quilt group is welcome to use it for a group project or block lotto. However I ask that you please link to this tutorial for others to follow the instructions. Please do not repost my design, images or text on your blog without my written permission. You are welcome to make this quilt for your own personal use or for a gift. You may not however sell anything made using this design without my written permission. Under NO circumstances may you sell any form of a pattern or tutorial based on this tutorial. Thank you.
The first option is pretty simple to do – sort of a variation of the snowball block. There are a couple of more complex variations for you to try out if you want to get more creative. This tutorial explains the concept and gives step by step instructions, but the idea is that the eyes are all different sizes and locations on the block, so exact dimensions are not given. The idea is to have some fun with it!
Background: Kona BLACK OR Free Spirit BLACK – about 1/4 yard per block
(Available at The Workroom, Sew Sisters and Sew Be It Studio.)
Eye balls: White or low volume (should read as white) – Small amount per pair of eyes
Iris*: Orange, Purple or Lime Green solids – Small amount. *optional
Trimmed block size: 12 1/2″ square (Finished size 12″ square)
Seam allowance: ¼”
Block size: 12 ½” square trimmed
Block Lotto Deadline: TMQG October meeting – October 25th, 2015.
After reviewing the tutorial, sketch a drawing of the kind of eyes you’d like to make. Are they the Googly type? I which case which way are they looking or are the pupils surrounded by white? Then decide how big you want them to be, baring in mind the pair should not exceed 10″ square at the absolute largest. There is no limit on how small they can be. Then calculate your dimension and make a note of them on your sketch. (Tip: Remember to add 1/2″ to your cutting height and width measurements for the 1/4″ seam allowance)
Start with the eyeballs. Cut the eyeball out of black, and then the whites of the eyes out of white. (Note: I have examples from two different eyeballs shown in these steps. One pair is looking to the side, and the other is staring ahead.)
Then stitch the side/s of the eyeball whites on.
Now cut 8 squares of Black fabric to make your corners – 4 per eyeball. (Recommended that these be about 1 1/2″ square)
Turn the pieced block Right Side Down and mark 45º angles across the corners for slightly smaller squares that the pieces you cut. So if your black squares have 1 1/2″ sides then mark 1′ or 1 1/4″ from the corners and draw your 45º line across. The extra bit of fabric just makes accuracy easier as you have a little wiggle room if needed.
Now place a black square Right Sides Together on a corner, matching up the two cut edges, and stitch along this line.
(Tip: Use a thread bunny when doing this to avoid thread snarling up under your tiny pieces. If you don’t know what they are, see a pic below.)
Now trim the corners off with a 1/4″ seam as shown.
Press the piecing then trim your eyeball blocks as shown. (See why the little extra on these corner squares is handy now? You can cut night square blocks even if your angles were slightly skew!)
Add fabric above and below to complete your block. Finally trim it down to 12 1/2″ size.
But wait! There’s more… if this is too simple for you, we have options!! Read on.
MORE COMPLEX VARIATIONS:
STEP 6: (“Scary” or “Scaredy” eyes option)
a) Start with a white rectangle (ratio 2:1) with a strip of black down the middle. (Note: this will make two pairs of scary or scaredy eyes. It’s a bit of a head scratcher, but one square will only make both eyelids going at the same angle. So if you’re ok with both eyelids slanting the same way, only make a square. But if you want opposite angles you need a rectangle.)
b) Cut a piece of Black fabric the same size.
c) Place the pieced rectangle Right Sides Together down onto the Black piece and align edges. Cut into two squares. Then make Half Square Triangles.
If you haven’t made Half Square Triangles before, here’s how:
i) Use a fabric marker to draw diagonal lines from corner to corner. Stitch a 1/4″ seam allowance on either side of the lines.
ii) Cut along the lines drawn.
iii) Press blocks open.
d) Next cut white strips for the eye bottoms, as well as black squares for the corners. Then use the same technique described in STEPS 3 to 5 above to finish your blocks.
Yup, he’s nasty. Don’t want to meet this guy in a dark alleyway.
Now life is not Black and White for everyone. So for those of you Jonesing for a little hit of colour, this next option is for you. (Note: TMQG’ers Andrea suggested that we make our blocks mostly B&W, with only about 1/4 of them with colour. She suggested making 3 B&W first then a colour one. Ha ha, so now that I’ve got you all excited about a rainbow splurge, I’m putting you partially back in the colour corset. What? Don’t blame me, I’m not the not-the-president. 😉
a) Start by making a log cabin around a black centre. (TMQG’ers: colour restricted to orange, purple & lime green)
b) Then add some whites strips. (Mine are looking sideways so only three sides have whites.)
c) You can do yours as per STEP 3 with equal corners. Or not. On these ones I wanted a less angular eye lid. So I measured 1 1/2″ distance in the height, and drew a line across to stitch on.
d) Then add bottom corners and centre piece.
e) And finally box them in.
Well that was one heck of a long tutorial! But I am excited about this block lotto. I think the quilt is going to be spooktacular!
If you or your guild are making and posting on Instagram, etc use the tag #eyeballsquilt so that we can all see how everyone’s look.