My Work at Surtex ’14

Posted by on Apr 24, 2014 in Blog, Licensing, Surtex | No Comments

surtex 14 - tamara kate

I’ve finally taken the leap and decided to pursue licensing my artwork on more than just fabric. While fabric is my passion, I have had many a daydream of how delightful a pattern I am creating would be on a roll of wrapping paper, a child’s cup or a sweet lamp shade. I have signed on with a wonderful artists’ rep, Painted Planet Licensing, have spent the last countless weeks pulling a portfolio together, and I am just about ready to have my work shown at THE big trade show where artists, agents and licensors connect with manufacturers and retailers, Surtex (May 18-20).

confetti mug
I would just feel happy every morning having my tea from this thus-far imaginary mug.

Why work with an agent, you ask? I have internally debated this question for a long time. The thing is, I know my strengths and my weaknesses, I know what I enjoy about my work and what I try to avoid every single time. Up until a year ago, my job for many years entailed seasonally exhibiting at trade shows. Other than organizing the physical booth set up, the process has always been a highly stressful one for me. One would think that with time I would have gotten used to it, but in fact, the opposite seems to have happened, which my poor family can attest to. I tend to heap a whole lot of stress on my own shoulders which tends to build and build the closer a show gets, until the inevitable (not at all pretty) moment when it all explodes. Who needs that in their life? Well, I have, at least for the moment, decided that I don’t. I am fine with relinquishing some control to someone who knows her industry well and who’s job it is to build and maintain partnerships with companies. That means I can focus on what I love, the creating.

I have been having fun creating a few wee posters/flyers to hopefully draw some potentially interested eyes to where my work can be found at the show. If you follow my work here, you will know this collection:

surtex 14 - tamara kate2

As the show approaches I will post a few more, but right now, time to get back at it!

Pattern or Solid?

Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Blog, Montreal Modern Quilt Guild, Quilts | One Comment

The Montreal Modern Quilt Guild is making their banner. Members were asked to contribute a 6.5″ unfinished block of their choice using fabrics with the guild colours.

guild banner coloursThis challenge has driven home the importance of knowing one’s techniques. A 6.5 inch block tends to put a focus on detail, measurement & technical ability and eliminates the philosophy that I can just wing it. A challenge indeed! It has also opened my eyes a bit to modern quilters’ use of solid (or almost solid) fabrics. Something for me to ponder …

As penance for discovering after the fact that the oldest of all quilt blocks is not constructed as I thought, I decided on a simple border on border on border log cabin block.

quilt guild banner block

While I measured and cut everything very accurately, my scant quarter inch seams were not quite as precise as I would have liked (I choose to blame that on my crummy sewing machine). Not bad, though. And, yes, I know purists would balk at my haphazard placement of long and short sides of each border, but, quite honestly, it is more the overall look I was going for and I am not very good at following rules.

Then I thought of doing something that is quintessentially Montreal. A quick google search of graphic Montreal images brought me to the map of the city’s subway system.

montreal metro map

It could not have been more perfect in terms of colours. There’s the orange, blue and green lines, and I could take artistic license with the yellow one and make it chartreuse. Alas, time has been my enemy of late and I could not get it all figured out and sewn prior to our meeting. Perhaps down the road…

guild banner blocks

When all the blocks were put up on a board at our last meeting I realized I tend to use much more patterned fabrics than many in the group. While I love the look of many solid fabric quilts, as you can see on my Pinterest board, I just can’t seem to help myself … the pattern just keeps creeping in there. A designer recently said to me while reviewing a collection of mine, that most people, while they might appreciate pattern and colour, don’t actually use them much in reality. That they tend to opt for neutrals in their homes, their clothing, what have you. She said she was one of them & asked if I was the same. I had to say a resounding no! I love colour and I love pattern. Given the choice of buying a plain grey or striped cushion or one with some fanciful colourful pattern, give me the pattern and happy colour every time, please.

I am wondering, are you one who opts for pattern or plain? I see merit in both, I just tend much more heavily in one direction.

Twice in One Week!

Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Blog, Helen's Garden, Les Monsieurs | 2 Comments

Just had to take a micro moment of your time to toot my own horn, ’cause this surely doesn’t happen often.

Castle Blocks - Multi

While browsing the ever-influential Print & Pattern blog on Wednesday, I came across an image of one of my fabrics, Castle Blocks from Les Monsieurs, in a post about her “faves”. I thought “… well, that’s pretty cool!” and went about my business.

But then this afternoon, just a mere 2 days later, look what else was there

Enchanted - Plum

In a post with an intro that went like this: “… for our regular Friday eye candy (where we post designs just for the enjoyment of gazing at lovely patterns)”.

For any of you who aren’t familiar with her blog, Bowie Style (not her real name) writes one of the worlds most influential design blogs. The biggest names in design-savy manufacturers and retailers keep a close eye on her leads.

Well, thank you for ending my work week on a high note, Print & Pattern!

And thank you, dear readers for indulging me if you’ve made it to the end of this post! Have a great weekend!

Helen’s Garden Parterre Quilt

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Blog, Helen's Garden, Quilts, Tutorials | 2 Comments

Oh my goodness, this post has been a long time coming.

helen's garden parterre quilt

I promise you, there is a story & a good reason for its delay, partially of my own doing, partially delivery company gremlins in the works. Long story short, this, my favourite quilt was lost, but now is found. Whew!

And so many of you have asked for a tutorial, so without further ado, this is where you will find it (you will find an instruction-download button if you scroll down the page). Enjoy!

{ Happy Sewing } … Party Loot Bags

Posted by on Mar 26, 2014 in Blog, Quiet Time, Tutorials, { Happy Sewing } | No Comments

princess & the pea fabric loot bags

This is one of those super easy projects that I turn to every time one of my kidlets is having a birthday party. Emma turns 8 tomorrow and we threw a birthday breakfast celebration with a few special young friends on Sunday. We have always had birthday celebrations in the afternoon which has typically meant the whole morning is devoted to organizing and decorating with over-excited kids underfoot. and the day is thus consumed. This time I thought that if we did it in the morning instead, pyjamas and all, we would still have half the day left for some other fun family adventure.

While I enjoy the idea of loot bags, giving some little special thing or collection of things to guests to thank them for coming, I am not a fan of all that instantly disposable plastic. Preferring to offer something that’s pretty and that continues to be useful after the bedlam dies down, I make these little cotton sacs and typically fill them with some crafty stash. The bag hopefully lives many lives afterward. I often find one around the house filled with a collection of wild animals, lego pieces, marbles, pinecones … you name it.

Here’s this year’s stash: a few sweet colouring pages, glitter glue, plastic lacing bundles, googly eyes, mini pompoms, wooden beads, jewellery findings, mini bottle of sequins, paint brush & a pretty flower.

fabric loot bag contents

For a pyjama breakfast party, what better fabric than Princess and the Pea …

What I used:

- For each bag you will need either 1 piece of fabric 24″ long x 6.5″ wide, or if using directional fabric as I did here, 2 pieces 12″ long x 6.5″ wide.
- 1 yard elasticized cord, or a few inches more if it’s not elasticized.

What I did:

Use 1/4″ seams unless otherwise indicated.

Measure and cut your fabric pieces. A clear acrylic ruler & rotary cutter make this easy, but they are certainly not essential. I have a long 6.5″ wide ruler that I place on my fabric to aid in fussy cutting the perfect piece … just zip around the edges.

cutting fabric for loot bags

If using one long piece of fabric, fold it in half widthwise, right sides together. If using 2 pieces, place them right sides together, making sure to match fabric top ends together. As per the following diagram, mark points on either side ¾” and 1½” down from top. Start stitching from top edge on one side. Backstitch when you get to the 1st point. Raise your needle & advance the fabric to the next point. Backstitch to secure stitching. Continue around the base (If using 1 piece of fabric, backstitch at bottom and start again on other side) & up the other side. Treat 3rd and 4th marks the same as the first two.

loot bag instructions

Press top few inches of side seams open. Press under 1/8″ along top edge. Press under again just over ¾”. Stitch ¾” from top edge. Turn bag right side out.
Cut cord length in half. Use a bodkin or safety pin to thread it through the casing, starting and ending along the same side. Knot ends together. Do the same with the other length of cord on the opposite side.

princess & the pea fabric loot bags 4

A yummy cake & a few colourful decorations were peacefully organized the night before, and thus we were set for the festivities.

balloon wall

Rainbow Charm Quilt

At our January Quilt Guild meeting we did a charm (5″ square of fabric) swap. We each had to bring a print and a solid of our chosen colour for as many people as were participating. Among 15 of us, this little rainbow bundle of fabric was what we each left with.

rainbow charm swap

I knew right away that I wanted to create something for my colour-loving almost-8-year old, and I wanted to use all the exchanged fabrics, whether they were colours I would normally be inclined to sew with or not. Wanting to keep things simple and graphic I opted for a very pared-down log cabin pattern … which I realized, after I had finished the whole thing, was not a real log cabin. I now know (I should really stop assuming I know what I am doing when I have not done so much as a moment of research on such a simple thing) the log cabin is a very easy block to sew. My version, while I may prefer it aesthetically, was a tad frustrating to piece together. None-the-less, it all worked out.
log cabin construction

I cut each square into 4 and bordered these little squares with white, a tone-on-tone patterned white and an off-white from my stash, all in random order, to balance the intense colour. This is what I ended up with.

rainbow quilt

You can see I offset one column of blocks by half a block to subtly break the pattern.

I didn’t want to do a back of just one piece of fabric and when I asked the intended young recipient what she thought, she suggested a reversible quilt, so she could have more options. Full of smart ideas she is, this girl of mine. I pulled out my ruler, large sheet of paper and sharpened pencil and got to work. I definitely wanted to fly with the rainbow theme, but keep the overall look a bit sparser than the front. Ta-daa!

rainbow quilt back

I used a few fabrics that are so very Emma, like the Heather Ross mermaid and other pretty ones she had chosen during fabric store trips with her Mama, with a few of my own fabrics thrown in there too.

rainbow quilt back detail

For me, hand quilting just multiplies the love in the giving. I found six or seven colours of pearl cotton (I was only able to find No.5 weight which is a bit too heavy to easily hand stitch with in fine fabric. I will be ordering a finer gauge next time around) and outlined the squares on the front, co-ordinating thread colour to fabric colour.

rainbow quilt front detail

I did no want the quilting lines to interfere with the diamonds on the back, so I stopped at the edges of the diamond arc paths and switched to basic white quilting thread to continue the squares in these areas.

rainbow quilt back detai3

I opted for this happy print of mine, Confetti, to bind it.

confetti fabric

I needed something that gently defined the edge without overpowering the quilt or boxing it in (as a strong colour would have) and that played well with all the colours already dancing around the quilt.

rainbow quilt corner detail

Both the maker and the recipient are pleased with the outcome.

Should you wish to make a quilt top like this, here is the cutting guide for the “Real” Log Cabin block shown above, using a quartered charm square for the centre:

- Cut each charm (5″ square) into 4 (2.5″ square)
-a- 1 piece 2″ x 2.5″ white or off-white fabric
-b- 2 pieces 2″ x 4″ white or off-white fabric
-c- 1 piece 2″ x 5.5″ white or off-white fabric

Using the “Real” block diagram above as a guide, sew the bottom piece -a- to the centre square, press seam open. Sew the 2 sides -b- on. Press seams open. Sew on the top piece -c- & press seam open.

That will leave you with a block measuring 5.5″ square. Divide 5″ (that’s 5.5″, less your 1/4″ seam allowance on all sides) into whatever width & length of finished quilt you desire, multiply these 2 numbers together, and add 1 for the offset row, and you have the number of blocks you need to make. My finished quilt is on the small size, 45″ x 60″, so I made (9 x 12 + 1) 109 blocks. Divide this number by 4 to calculate the number of charm squares you need, in my case, 28. Sew together finished blocks into long strips the length of your quilt. Make your offset row 1 block longer, line up the centres of the end blocks on this row with your other row ends & cut off the excess at each end, pin & sew these strips together to finish your top. Simple as that.

And I won’t give you instructions for the diamond side at this time, as I figured it out as I went along, and I don’t want to lead you astray. Trust me, it’s better this way. I will refine my process and practice the diamonds a few times prior to writing instructions, then when you try it you will think fondly of me.

{ Happy Sewing } … Thread Catchers

thread catcher

One of the challenges given at our last Quilt Guild meeting was to make a thread catcher. What’s a thread catcher, you ask? (I asked the same thing). It’s a small bowl for holding all those gazillions of cut threads we accumulate on our table (or floor) while sewing. It took me a moment to warm up to the idea, but once I got going … well, I have found my new favourite thing to make.

helen's garden fabric buckets x3

I designed these little fabric bowls or buckets with a folded top edge to be able to show off two co-ordinating fabrics, in one sweet little functional item. These three all use fabrics from my Helen’s Garden collection. If one adjusted the size, just imagine all the treasures one could keep or display in these lovely bowls.

knitting supplies

favourite plant

little friends

They can, of course, be used as a taller container without folding down the top edge. This really nicely shows off a favourite pattern, like Enchanted below.

helen's garden fabric bucket enchanted

In hopes that you are as excited about making these as I am, I have been working on a pattern for a myriad of sizes that will shortly be available here. Stay tuned …

{ Happy Sewing } … Quiet Time & Les Monsieurs Pyjama Pants

Posted by on Feb 23, 2014 in Blog, Les Monsieurs, Quiet Time, { Happy Sewing } | One Comment

pyjama pants

A fresh pair of spring pyjama pants (I know, it’s only February, but a girl can dream) for my little monsters in cheery colours and patterns.

I followed this tutorial. The only adjustment I would make, especially for a boy with no hips, is to use elastic in the waist instead of the cute drawstring tie.

les monsieurs pyjama pants

pyjama pants detail

I asked them both to choose their fabrics. For Em it was Freckled in Coral & Sky from my Quiet Time collection, and Max opted for Monsieur Blocks in Sky & Tire Treads in Wave from Les Monsieurs.

So easy to make, I made a few for nieces, too.

quiet time pyjama pants2

princess & the pea pj detail

quiet time pj detail

All fabrics in these two are from Quiet Time. There’s Princess & the Pea in Robin’s Egg paired with Freckled in Lilac and Quiet Time with Sweet Dreams in Orange.

A Little Quilted Love

Posted by on Feb 14, 2014 in Blog, Flight Patterns, Holidays | 6 Comments

flight patterns pillow crop

Sending love & thoughts of Spring (it’s right around the corner, dear friends … I know it is) to you all.

Princess & the Pea Quilted Wallhanging

Posted by on Feb 7, 2014 in Blog, Fabric Collections, Quiet Time, Tutorials | No Comments

princess & the pea wallhanging

Brooke of Silly Mama Quilts made a second little quilt last fall, using fabrics from Quiet Time. This one focuses on Princess & the Pea.

As a child I loved this tale, but not for the princess aspect, but rather for the mental image of all those mattresses stacked up high (patterned mattresses, of course), and in my mind, her bed was in a magical pea garden, lush with greenery, hidden nooks & colourful blossoms. I think that is well captured in this sweet hanging for a little girl’s room.

princess & the pea wallhanging detail

The back is quite delightful as well, with long strips of colourful patterns, echoing the stacks of mattresses.

princess & the pea wallhanging back

Brooke walks us through her creative process today with a tutorial on her blog. Enjoy!