Baby Quilt with a Super Soft Back

A sweet little girl has just been born into my husband’s family. The perfect occasion for a baby quilt, handmade with love, ready to keep this wee one all cuddled up.

tamara kate - heart baby quilt

I was told her room is fuchsia, lavender and pink with butterflies and hearts, so I designed this accordingly. The heart is made of a selection of my fabrics from Flight Patterns, Helen’s Garden and Quiet Time and the background is random lower volume fabrics with the odd bit of mine thrown in for little mini-bursts of colour. I like how the grey softens the very vibrant heart.

tamara kate - heart baby quilt detail

Once the top was complete I searched for a soft option for the back. I didn’t want the quilt to go unused because it wasn’t cuddly enough for a baby. And I also didn’t want to use anything with man-made fibres, so minky was out (not to mention the stories I’ve heard of it shedding all over one’s sewing machine while stitching it). The search for a natural and soft substrate was on. So I contacted Michael Miller Fabrics to see what options they had and I hit the jackpot. Organic cotton fleece or sherpa.

michael miller organic fleece & sherpa

They are both ultra soft and cuddly, so I played eenie-meenie-minie-mo & went with the fleece. The picture above shows a piece of each, sherpa on the left, fleece in the centre, with a piece of the fleece once washed (far right). It shrinks, so pre-wash is necessary, and it also fluffs it up, adding extra body, which is lovely.

tamara kate - heart baby quilt fleece back

I hand quilted diagonal lines throughout. I am determined… my next quilt will be my first machine quilted attempt, but for this one I opted for patient, caring stitches.

tamara kate - heart baby quilt fleece back2

A last finishing touch. All done, ready to fly across the ocean to France to welcome this little one into the family.

tamara kate - heart baby quilt embroidery

{ Happy Sewing } End-of-Year Teachers’ Gifts

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in Blog, Helen's Garden, { Happy Sewing } | No Comments

The end of the school year tends to creep up on me every time, usually without notice, till it whacks me in the head at the last moment. This year I was given a two-week warning. With one week to go, I thought it time to make some thoughtful gifts for those patient soles who take on the task of educating my kiddos (and so much more). I followed this great tutorial by Noodlehead and made a bunch of sweet pouches.

zippered pouch

If you are thinking of doing a number of these, be warned… The 1st, you will follow carefully, step by step, the 2nd, you will pay attention to the tutorial a tad, but you’ll start to feel you’ve got it, and just when you feel complete confidence with the 3rd and put the iPad away, yes, that’s when you’ll put the zipper in upside down and not realize until the very last step.

zippered pouchx3

I made the medium size with a semi-soft interfacing (not very technical, I know), but next time will use one with a bit more rigidity, or slightly sturdier fabrics, like a linen-cotton canvas perhaps.

I asked the kids to choose a few fabrics for each teacher, wanting them to have input and to tailor the gifts to their vision of the recipients (they are observant little people: “She always wears small prints” or “She likes darker colours”). I then added complementary or contrasting coloured zippers.

zippered pouch 2

I particularly love the detail of the little fabric tabs on the end of the zips.

zippered pouchx5

Here’s to a fun summer and to all those teachers’ well deserved breaks!

CQQ Quilt Show 2014

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Blog, Montreal Modern Quilt Guild | One Comment

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the largest biennial quilt show in Quebec. There was a wealth of beautiful work on display and I thought I’d share a bit of the eye candy with you today. There was quite a range of styles, as one would expect. These are just a few that caught my attention. Enjoy!

agnes wong

My friend, Agnes Wong with her lovely “Swooning” quilt. I love her fabric combinations that make your eye dance around the quilt.

cinzia allocca

Our guild’s president, Cinzia Allocca’s stunning “I Don’t Wear Blue”. She does improv quilting so, so well.

deborah kemball

deborah kemball detail

Deborah Kemball. All hand appliqued & yes, hand quilted. Gorgeous! And the first photo is only about a quarter of the whole quilt!

helena scheffer

Helena Scheffer

josee carrier red

This beauty is by the amazing Josee Carrier, our guild’s vice-president. She is an engineer by training and her work always blows me away. Her accuracy, her quilting (I believe she quilts all her pieces herself) and her fabric choices are always superb.

josee carrier

josee carrier detail

Another of Josee’s pieces with a closeup to inspire me in my quilting training.

les courtepointieres d'Asbestos

Simple and so pretty, all those little bright squares. Happy, happy. A group piece by Les Courtepointiers (“quilters” in french … I still can’t say it properly) d’Asbestos.

lucie robichaud

A detail of some black and white by Lucie Robichaud.

sashiko quilt

Lovely sashiko work. I foolishly did not capture the artist’s name in the photo, so unfortunately cannot tell you who did it, nor the next one, which I love for its graphic nature and its unexpectedness. There’s just something about it that calls to me.

doily quilt

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing just a bit of what great talent there is in my backyard.

The Final Surtex Flyer

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Blog, Licensing, Surtex | 4 Comments

surtex 14 - tamara kate3

This is the last of my Surtex flyers. A little taste of something new I’ve been working on for a while now. Young, happy & colourful. Hope you like it!

Garden of Hope

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Blog, Quilts | 2 Comments

The big Quebec quilt show is coming up later this month and JN Harper has sponsored a challenge to benefit the local children’s hospital, Ste. Justine, where both my babies were born and have since received superb medical attention. With the restrictions of using all six provided fat quarters and a maximum perimeter of 120″, I decided to make a graphic wall hanging that speaks to the contest theme “Garden of Hope”. As I am trying to challenge myself with attempting a new technique with each of my recent quilting endeavours, I opted to try pieced lettering, a few curves and some random strip piecing & cutting (the random cutting of all those angles was both freeing & nerve-racking at the same time). The finished work is 18″ x 32.5″.

hope grows

I was going for a growing stalk or trunk. A friend suggested it looks like allotment garden plots, which I like equally well.

hope grows detail

I have only done some basic hand quilting on it thus far (don’t get me started on the frustrations of my sewing machine), which I will probably add to over the next couple of days.

It will be displayed at the upcoming show (CQQ Salon, May 29 – June 1) and sold to raise funds for the hospital foundation. If you’re around Montreal, swing by and have a look.

Another Surtex Flyer

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Blog, Licensing, Surtex | 3 Comments

It’s getting closer. The days are being counted. My work will be there. I am trying to figure out if I will be there, myself.

surtex 14 - tamara kate4

Another promotional flyer I designed. Hope you like it!

My Work at Surtex ’14

Posted by on Apr 24, 2014 in Blog, Licensing, Surtex | One Comment

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 | 2 Comments

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!