I’m Tara. I’m a speech-language pathologist am married to Kirkules and have three children, who we shall refer to as Kiwi, LittleMac 2 and LittleMac3. I also have a derpy goldendoodle named Stash. He is cute, fuzzy and gassy. But enough about those reasons for living–you want to know about my other reason for living: quilting!
I started sewing when I was a kid, about 12 years old. I hand-quilted my first cheater panel that year when my teacher had a baby. Then I met Kirkules’ mother at sixteen, and saw her hexy quilts, and learned that people actually piece quilts. I needed to try it myself!
With my first job as a singer on a riverboat, I saved enough money to buy a Kenmore sewing machine and the materials to make the double quilt top I had designed. I never did finish it though. I only got about 1/4 into the hand-quilting and lost my groove. I recently passed the top on to a local church group. It only took me 24 years to accept I will never finish it!
When I saw FMQ, I loved the look of it and wanted to do it, so in 2000, I got about 1/2 way through improperly quilting a loopy meander on a baby quilt, but wound up shelving it for 8 years, feeling quite discouraged. Without gloves and a good extension table I had no hope, but thought it was because of my gimpy, achy hands. A friend re-sparked my interest when saw it and offered to help me to painstakingly pick out the poorly-stitched mess. I later hand-quilted it, and gifted it to her baby girl. I was glad for a finish and gifting, but was disappointed with the failed FMQ.
Fast forward to 2014 when I wandered into the QuiltCanada Show in town. I just followed the “Quilt Show” Signs and was awestruck, flabbergasted and inspired beyond belief. Within days, I began pulling out UFO’S, improv-piecing and designing new quilts!
Shortly thereafter, I discovered Leah Day on YouTube and discovered that I just needed gloves and a flat surface to get rolling! But I was having trouble setting myself up in the kitchen and clearing off the space so our family could eat meals and stuff like that, which, is kinda vital.
Enter Kirkules, my wise husband who objectively assessed the situation and stated, astutely:
“Every woman needs a room of her own”.
Thank God Kirkules took Women’s Studies classes, because he took Virginia Woolf’s advice and recreated our former spare bedroom into the Sacred Sewing Space. He has given up much of my attention due to my sewing obsession, but he peeks in on me occasionally and will listen to me hem and haw over fabric choices or quilting options so very lovingly. I think I will keep him.
Now that I have a fantastic space to work in, but my boys need separate bedrooms, my Heroic Kirkules is up to his shenanigans again, this time building an extension, which will include an expanded bigger, better, brighter, and possibly sacreder sewing space! Yes, I know how to pick ’em.
I joined our local MQG in 2015, and am currently the VP of our Guild, I love the sisterhood, sharing and learning that happens there! It is a monthly outing I can’t do without. I have gained so much inspiration and technical skills by seeing my talented peers beat challenging quilts into submission, tackle pattern design, enter quilt shows and wow me with their beautiful creations. If you are not a guild member, I highly recommend it! If you can find a small guild, even better as you get more turns and opportunities to shine and take part! Finding your tribe is a godsend for us all.
I joined Instagram to participate in the MQG Mini swap this year, and then sidestepped into the Finish-A-Long. Then, I realized, I wanted to incorporate blogging and photography into my passion for quilts. I mainly post about finishes but have been occasionally putting out other posts as well.
Before delving into quilting, I was an ecclectic maker. I used to scrapbook, crochet, knit, paint, refinish furniture, rug-hook, bead and try everything creative at least once. But now I am happy to stick to quilting, which meets all of my creative and many of my social needs. Plus, if I stay focused, there’s more budget for fabric!
Three Favourite Quilts
As a new blogger, I don’t have a lot of pictures of gifted quits, so here are three quilts made in the last few years that I can share
”Turquoise Tootsies” is a bedrunner designed by my daughter with a little help from me. I bought her a pack of 5” batik precuts for Christmas, thinking she would make a little pillow or something. To my surprise, she started laying out a bedrunner!
This project was backed with a pieced backing that Kiwi also laid out. I helped her with the order of piecing, but at 10-years old, she did all the stitching on her hand-me-down machine (yes, my old Kenmore).
My biggest contribution to this masterpiece, was the FMQ. It was one of my first bigger FMQ projects. I used some Angela Walters magic (Dot to Dot Quilting in particular). I was so pleased with how it turned out! I loved helping Kiwi learn something new, and spending the time with her. I know she will treasure it always.
The biggest creative blast I ever had making a quilt began in early July, 2016. My Auntie Rolande had just passed away, and I was hemming her plaid pajama bottoms to fit my short legs.
The little plaid cutoffs were sitting on my sewing table demanding me not to relegate them to the scrap bin. In something of a creative explosion, I delved into my scrap bins looking for offcuts to work in this analogous color scheme. I was energized and excited as I pulled the bits and assembled them together. That night, an improv challenge by QDAD was posted on Facebook, so I decided to enter with this project.
I set limits: improv crosses, squares, and strip-pieced chevrons with a few circles and 1/4 circles, using only my stash. The frenzy of improvising is such a rush to me. To get my heart pumping, I sit behind a machine in my basement!
I worked fast, partly because of the excitement of the process but, also, to try and beat the deadline for the contest. This was my first completed improvisational quilt, and each slash, each post to the design wall was exhilarating. I had the top pieced in less than two weeks, took another week to quilt it and finished the binding during the road trip to New Brunswick, where I would pass it on to my Auntie Marlene, as a tribute to her sister’s memory.
As for the contest: lucky me, I was, the winner! I got to take home two fantastic improv books: The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri-Lynn Wood and Improvising Tradition by Alexandra Ledgerwood and have since started and completed several projects from these.
In 2015, Quiltcon, included an EZ Triangle Quilt Challenge. We had to create something using a tiny triangular template sent in the mail. At the time, I was really into FMQ and I was hankering to make a design with huge negative space, and so, Fantasy Flowers came to be.
I had started with the teal floral quilting but decided it was hard to see, so I tried to make it pop by micro-matchstick quilting the background in matching thread.
I quilted tirelessly on this one and I buried over 60 stop/start threads, resulting in an embarrasing strain injury to my thumb.
I was very happy with how it turned out, considering I used very few guiding lines to mark my design, and I just went with the flow until I was satisfied with the quilting.
This mini is displayed smack-dab in front of Liz, my BabyLock, to remind me of what I can do when I put my mind to it. As my my first major effort to do feathers, and my first attempt to enter something into Quiltcon, it really is a landmark quilt to me. At a distance, it is nothing breathtaking, but I am pleased with what pops out when you look a little closer!
Glue basting is the bomb! If you have not tried glue basting, please do! You don’t need to buy fancy glue–Elmer’s washable glue and Glue sticks from the dollar store will do! If this is new to you, learn straight from the pros! Here are some amazing resources I have compiled just for you!
Jen Carlton-Bailly whips up 1/4 circles (drunkard’s path) blocks like a champion. She does a little MQG Fresh Quilting Episode that shows how.
Cheryl Arkison teaches a fantastic craftsy course, “Learn How to Make Inset and Applique Circles”. She demonstrates how to use glue-basting that results in beautiful curves and applique-free circles.
Sarah Fielke uses glue basting for her hand sewing projects, eliminating the need to use pokey pins in her Craftsy Course: Scrap Quilting: Big Techniques from Small Scraps
Cristy Fincher (SewMuchLikeMom) teaches “Pain-Free Foundation Piecing” on Craftsy, and chain glue-basting for regular piecing on her blog. The Craftsy course teaches how to foundation-piece without sewing through paper. FABULOUS! The glue chain basting technique gets flawless point-matching and rids the need for pins in piecing.
Sharon Schamber uses glue-basting to get perfectly square and straight bindings in her YouTube Video. Super-useful for entering quilt shows.
After learning from these masters, I now view glue as my partner in getting out of sticky situations. Together, we made my round-robin improv quilt become a compliant, flat, smooth, quiltable top. I unpicked the sections that were bunching, applied glue to the seam allowance and heat-set, and re-seamed! Presto! No more lumps!
And in this picture, I am glue-basting a very pointy triangle onto a pieced background to save the headache of pre-planning angles and seam-allowances during improv quilting. I just glue-basted, cut out the background excess and sewed. Glue- basting is definitely a game-changer for me!
Thanks for hopping over to my blog during the New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop 2017! I love comments, so shoot me a line below!
Also, be sure to check out the other bloggers from Better Blogger’s Hive, featured this week and head over to see our Queen Bee, Beth from “Cooking up Quilts” for a chance to enter the awesome draws by our sponsors!