Day 3/31

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Blindman's Fancy Block #4

Well, I’m really pushing it to write a blog post today. Sundays tend to be a busier day of the week for me, designated as a catch up day. I had my fourth Blindman’s Fancy block finished yesterday and snapped a rather hasty (blurry) photo in order to get it up here in a timely manner today. These blocks may not look too complicated but they sure gobble up a fair chunk of time.

until tomorrow, carol

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Day 2/31

Spelling Bee by Lori Holt

'Berry' fat quarter bundle

'Low Volume' fat quarter bundle

I just realized, looking back through some previous posts, that I hadn’t followed up by showing photos of how I spent my gift certificates that I won for my modern quilt entries at the Saskatoon Quilt show. Believe it or not, I had searched the entire vendors’ market at the show, looking for Lori Holt’s Spelling Bee book, but to no avail. I have big plans for a New Year’s project which requires extensive lettering, so imagine my surprise to find the book on Darla’s website at www.clintonmoderncreative.com

The book was the first thing into my shopping cart but I still had more money to spend (Darla was a very generous sponsor of the quilt show). I also purchased the two lovely fat quarter bundles pictured above, with no planned project in mind for either. But what’s not to love about that lovely bundle of blues and violets? and low volumes are always a good stash builder in my books, right?

until tomorrow, carol

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Day One of 31

Gateway to a winter wonderland.

This year I tried to put more time and effort into my blogging and attempted to write a posting every week. Some months were full of posts and some fell by the wayside, but I found that by making a point of taking more photos of works in progress and seasonal changes in the garden, there was almost always something current to write about. It’s all about making new habits, really…

So this is post #1/31 in response to the online challenge put out there by Cheryl Sleboda at www.muppin.com. 2017 marks the third annual 31 day blog writing challenge and for me, it’s all about setting a new pace and developing more consistent blogging habits for the new year. Meet me back here every day for the entire month of December to see if I can keep up with the challenge :o )

until tomorrow, carol

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Busy as an Elf

Block #1

Block #2

Block #3

For the past three weeks, I have been creating these quilt blocks at a rate of one per week in the hopes of having a lovely new quilt in time for my birthday in February. I’m choosing to use all of my favourite historical reproduction fabrics that I’ve collected over the years, as I’ve made a new pact with myself to use all my best rather than save it for someday in the future. That day is now!

The development of this pact has been happening gradually and is still in the early stages but is gaining momentum and by next month I should have some strong personal guidelines in place for the New Year. Not only will I be using my most precious fabrics, but I plan to make a priority list of the pieces I consider ‘Lifetime Quilts’, the ones that I’ve always dreamed of making but haven’t gotten around to yet. You know what I’m talking about – the quilts that I’ve been saving all that precious fabric for… my best quilts. I don’t know what I’ve been waiting for? Perhaps I thought that in the deep of the night little quilt-maker fairies would steal into my studio and whip up those fancy quilts from the patterns in my dreams, sort of like the shoemaker’s elves. At any rate, it just hasn’t happened yet and it’s time to take charge of the situation. And there’s no time like the present to start a new project…

But in the meantime, I’ve also been doing this…

Sand and Seashells Shawl

I have been as busy as a bee making all sorts of items to sell at various shows/fairs this fall and have been quite successful with these lovely shawls that I’ve made. The first two that I made didn’t even have time to be photographed before they were snatched up by a generous customer.

Sand and Seashells Shawl (front view)

I’ve had great fun taking loads of photos of the shawls, as well as some other scarves that I’ve made, on my mannequin, demonstrating the myriad ways to wear them.

Woodland Nymph Shawl (back view)

Woodland Nymph Shawl (front view)

Fields of Violets Shawl

Tropical Oceans Shawl

Wildflowers Shawl (back view)

Wildflowers Shawl (this one has a special beaded edge)

Wildflowers Shawl worn 'cowgirl' style

Each one of these shawls are handmade of washable acrylic which has a similar appearance to beautiful hand-dyed yarn, making each one unique. Even though they have a lacy look, they are very cozy and warm. I have finished each one with a lovely picot edging, except for the Wildflowers Shawl, which has the addition of Czech glass beads added to the crocheted edging, making it extra special. Each shawl sells for $75.00, except for the Wildflowers Shawl which sells for $85.00 due to the beading.

I wasn’t quick enough to get a table in the Plenty Fall Fair this year before the bookings sold out but I will be participating in the mini arts/crafts fair at the Plenty Church on December 16th. I’m hoping to have time to create at least a few more items before then, including some shawl pins that will compliment these pieces. I will also have a nice selection of quilts, pincushions, and other ‘stitchy’ items for sale. If you can’t make it out to Plenty United Church on December 16th, 12:00-4:00 but would like to purchase one of my shawls, just leave a comment below or send me an email (carol at artlessfabrications dot com) and we’ll make some sort of an arrangement.

Until then, happy stitching, carol

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Settling in for a long winter’s nap…

Frosty morning

So this is what winter looks like on the Saskatchewan prairies and I’m afraid to say that it’s here to stay!

Stark beauty

There is a bitter cold that seems to creep up from the earth, rather than settling downwards from the air above, and in all the poetic hush there are moments containing the sound of tinkling crystal bells as the earth turns brittle with ice.

Winter WhiteThe garden has been sprinkled with winter fairy dust and has now settled in under a downy white blanket for a long winter’s nap.

I, however, have not been napping but have been making blocks until the cows come home! I’m quite sure you’re probably tired or bored of seeing these blocks continually showing up here but they have finally come to an end. I made a decision on how large the quilt will be and I’ve completed the final block! There is a total of 120 of these little lovelies and my quilt will measure 80″ x 96″. Hopefully the next time you see these they will be all sewn together and awaiting their turn on the longarm. I’m looking forward to curling up on the couch with a quilt on my lap and doing my favourite activity of binding. Aaahhh! Now that’s the perfect winter sport, as far as I’m concerned.

Stay warm, and happy stitching!

carol xox

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Quilts of Allsorts

Well, there are just a few more photos I can share here on the blog, in regards to the other quilts that I had entered into the Saskatoon Quilter’s Guild show.

Whisper Sweet Nothings

First up is my Whisper Sweet Nothings quilt that I made as a birthday gift to myself this past February. This quilt was not judged in the show but it was still a thrill to see it hanging there. Sorry for the slightly askewed photo, but it was difficult to get a straight on picture due to the size of the quilt and the location in which it was displayed.

Love Birds Anniversary Quilt

I’m not sure if I’ve ever posted a photo of this second piece that was entered into the show, (again not judged). This was a great opportunity to get a full photograph of this quilt for my own records. It was hung in a lovely spot in the show, at one end of the rows, just as you entered the exhibition hall. Looking at this quilt makes me want to start a new English paper piecing project, which is one of my favourite techniques to do, as well as a favourite class to teach.

Holes In the Rabbit Proof Fence

This abstract art quilt was entered into another non-judged category – Innovative Quilts. I had created the quilt top about a year ago and hadn’t completed the quilting on it, therefore, entering this piece into the show was a great motivational tool in finally getting it finished up.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

This was another quilt that was entered into the show with similar motivational intentions, and obviously it works! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a show photo of this one as each time I attempted to photograph it there were too many people milling about in front of it. This was one I had blogged about while it was in the process of being created and it’s hanging here on the clothesline just prior to being quilted. Follow the Yellow Brick Road turned out to be a generous size, 88″ x 88″, and the most important lesson I learned while making this one was to have the courage to follow my own instincts and to trust where it will eventually lead me.

Canadian Women: Strong and Free

And last but not least, is my Canadian Women quilt which was entered into the “Celebrating Sesquicentennial” Large Quilts category. I began this project with the online blocks presented by Next Step Quilt Designs in Calgary but didn’t continue to make all 150 blocks as sent out. I decided that my project would be large enough, finishing at almost 100″ x 100″, if I only made one hundred blocks, some of which were my own designs. Although this quilt didn’t garner any awards in its category I’m really pleased that I pushed myself to have it finished in time to enter the show and it is a lovely way to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday!

That concludes all the photos of my show entries for Saskatoon 2017, and it is hard to believe that it’s all over and done until 2019. I’m now working on a list of pieces that had been put to the side in preparation for the show but I’d like to get at least some finished up before this year is done. Time is definitely running out and a few might just have to move onto 2018′s list… well, at least I’ve got a good start to my resolution/to-do list already.

Happy stitching, carol xox

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Changes Over Time…

Time is Non-Linear

That was the theme of this year’s Saskatoon Quilter’s Guild quilt show and I was extremely inspired to work within that theme, as there were so many different ways to interpret it. After much consideration, I decided to combine the past and the present into a piece of work that kept creeping into my imagination, with the resulting quilt shown in the photo above.

Here is the story of how it all began:

A few years back my dear friend, Tammy, handed me a shoebox containing some vintage 1970′s ninepatch quilt blocks. She wasn’t too sure where they originally had come from or who had made them, but she knew for certain that she was not interested in making anything out of them (and to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t convinced there was anything I could do with them either).

You see, these blocks were absolutely scandalous by today’s quilting standards and the quilt police would have a heyday with the unmatched corners, wacky seam allowances, lack of pressing, and crazy mix of non-quilting fabrics obviously sewn by a novice quilter. The pieces appeared to have been cut with scissors from all sorts of clothing and leftovers from other projects, some of which looked like nylon nightgowns and kitchen curtains. Without a consistent seam allowance, the blocks were various sizes and to make pieces fit together, sometimes a pucker was stitched in here and there. In other words, these were true gems! and although I say that with a hint of sarcasm, I also truly admired the tenacity by which this seamstress fearlessly produced these unique blocks, even though she hadn’t seen it through to a finished quilt.

But that’s where I come in! I took those crazy blocks as is, flaws and all, and began cutting them up and inserting some bright orange quilting cotton, in an attempt to ‘modernize’ them. My original concept was to interpret the show theme, “Changes Over Time”, by not only simply combining the past with the present, but by making it appear as though time was layered, rather than linear.

Time on the design wall

Time on the longarm machine

My intention for this quilt was to have it appear as though two quilts have merged together to form a double layered piece. The background areas created with the vintage blocks were tied with yarn and the areas created with new fabric were quilted on my longarm, using some intense custom designed stitched freehand. I hope that my quilt demonstrates the connection we all have to the quilters that have come before us, and how everything we do now is built on the path that was forged by them. When viewing this project it is difficult to tell if the new quilt is layered on top of the old one, or if the old is layered on top of the new.

My own work has changed over time, as my skills and experiences have grown and developed, giving me the courage to experiment and create from my imagination the quilts that haven’t been seen before. This piece was awarded first place in the Unique Textiles Studio Innovative Quilt Challenge and I am currently awaiting the arrival of my brand new Husqvarna sewing machine!!!

In the meantime…

Nine more blocks

...and nine more

... and another nine!

It appears that I’ve been making a few more blocks. This quilt may end up being a tad larger than I had originally thought! The blocks have been a real treat to make and they are certainly addictive. I’ve enjoyed digging through my scrap bags, ‘kitting’ them up, and then sitting down to do some mindless sewing in small snatches of time, in between real life daily activities. At some point, I’m going to have to decide on a size and get them all up on the design wall for final positioning, before sewing them together. I’ll keep you posted.

As always, happy stitching,

carol

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Modern Quilts

I’ve been quilting for almost twenty years now, and over the course of that time plenty has changed, both in the quilting world and including myself. I began as a traditional quilter and still return to those roots in my art practice today. There are two basic mantras by which I try to live and practice by: #1 You’ve got to know the rules well before you can break them. and #2 Even if it’s considered ‘art’ or ‘modern’, it should always be well executed. Taking the time to learn all those finicky rules and regulations such as proper seam allowances, good pressing habits, and matching points isn’t just about pleasing the ‘quilt police’. It will stand you in good stead by developing strong work ethics and workmanship in all that you create, and in the words of the great Martha Stewart, “that’s a good thing”.

Shadows of My Former Self

Although built on traditional concepts, I consider this quilt, entitled Shadows of My Former Self, to be one of my earliest modern quilts. Why do I consider this quilt ‘modern’? This quilt features a low volume colour scheme, a solid dove gray background fabric, various sized blocks placed in a random fashion, and unique custom quilting throughout. I’m actually not sure if all of these descriptions fall within the true definition of a modern quilt but it fits my own criteria, while still reflecting shadows of my former traditional self. This quilt was awarded second prize in the Modern category at Saskatoon Quilter’s Guild show last weekend.

Grand Opening Awards Ceremony

Imagine my complete surprise when I also received the first place award in the Modern Quilt category, with my piece entitled “Haiku – one hundred days”! You may have seen a previous post containing photos of this quilt as it was featured in my gallery exhibition “one hundred days” back in the fall of 2015.

The story of this quilt began in January that same year, when I presented myself with a personal creative challenge to construct a quilt block each morning using the 100 Modern Blocks book by Tula Pink. Alongside the blockmaking I kept a sketchbook journal in which I created a collage and wrote a piece of Haiku poetry every morning for one hundred days. The combined exercise resulted in an entire art exhibition featuring dolls, paintings, poetry, and a total of fifteen quilts, including this piece as the focal point of the show. Although it began as a 100 day project, the entire body of work took ten months to complete. The custom quilting on the Haiku quilt alone took five weeks to do, with every block quilted individually with multiple colour changes, like a little treasure.

The Modern Quilt category prizes were sponsored by Darla Clinton, owner of Clinton Modern Creative, a wonderful new online shop featuring a fresh line of modern fabrics and notions.

First Place Prize

Darla donated gift bags loaded with goodies from her shop, featuring a nice cross section of the products she carries. My first place award contained Aurifil thread, Olfa Endurance blade, Flatter pressing spray, and an amazing fat quarter bundle of Tula Pink’s brand new Spirit Animal line, plus a Clinton Modern gift certificate.

Second Place Prize

The second prize gift bag was just a lovely as the first and contained Aurifil thread, an Olfa blade, travel size Flatter, and a gorgeous layer cake from another of my favourite modern fabric designers, Joel Dewberry. PLUS, another gift certificate!!! Oh, I am a lucky girl! Well, needless to say, I had great fun checking out Darla’s shop at www.clintonmoderncreative.com and spending all my winnings. I can hardly wait to receive my parcel in the mailbox and show you all my lovely merchandise. If you’re super impatient you’ll just have to pay Darla a visit at her online store and try to guess what I bought :o )

as always, happy stitching, carol

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O! Canada!

I’ve just returned home from the Saskatoon Quilters Guild show and now must catch up on posting all about it! I did take a tonne of photos at the show but unfortunately cannot post them here on my blog due to privacy rules. I can, however, finally show you all the photographs I’ve been taking over the past few months, including process shots from the design wall. I thought I’d start with my quilt entitled O! Canada!

Pulling fabrics

When I initially decided to enter this year’s show I carefully read through all the various categories and was inspired to create a piece to celebrate Canada’s Sesquicentennial that would fit the criteria for the wallhanging category. My design concept was to create a modern version of our flag that contained various abstract symbols representing the diversity of our country. I started off by choosing some fabrics in shades of reds and browns, and in my stash, discovered the wonderful red fabric printed with cream circles. This particular print set the tone for the entire piece, with the O’s on red it made perfect sense in my mind – O! Canada!

Forming blocks

I worked in a very improvisational manner, cutting freeform semi-circles with no rulers or templates, and allowing the design to develop organically. The only perimeter that guided me was the size restrictions that would allow the piece to fit within the show’s category. This was actually more difficult than it sounds, as the piece kept wanting to grow larger as I worked on it, and at times it was a real battle to restrain myself from allowing it to happen.

Tiny maple leaves

Knowing that this piece was entered into a judged category, I realized that perhaps the improvisational, abstract techniques would perhaps be ‘not to everyone’s taste’, especially if the judges leaned towards the more traditional style of quilting. That’s what lead me to include the small maple leaves throughout the center of the design, rather than the one large leaf traditionally shown on the flag . I hoped this would demonstrate a greater versatility of my skill level and in reality, this decision truly stretched my abilities to the max. The leaves were tiny although not difficult to make, but inserting them into the curves of the design while not losing any tips/points and keeping the blocks flat took some finesse.

All blocks complete

As you can see, the improv cutting and piecing resulted in a vast array of different sized blocks and the trick to getting them to fit together is like a jigsaw puzzle where you have to cut all the puzzle pieces yourself and still maintain the finished picture.

Ta! Da!

Although there may be some things I might have changed along the way, I’m pleased with what my ‘flag’ represents: our vast and beautiful landscapes, the diversity of our people coming together to create a nation, the wind that has scattered us from one end of the land to the other, the openness we have at the heart of our country, as well as the flaws that we need to accept and to learn from in order to grow and develop into an even better Canada.

Final result!

Many more techniques were added to the quilt top before it was complete including using oil paint sticks to add the numbers one and zero to the five that was printed on the fabric just left of center. I cut my own stencils to make the numbers and the oil sticks kept the 150 quite subtle. The entire piece is machine quilted using the words from our national anthem and then I added hand sewn seed stitch in hand-dyed threads to surround the 150, causing it to come forward slightly in more dimensional manner. I bound the edges with a hand turned facing/binding on the back, in keeping with the ‘flag’ concept, as I thought a traditional binding would distract from the overall design. In the above photo there appears a blue line at the bottom right hand side, which is not part of the design, but rather a piece of blue masking tape. After completing the machine quilting of the anthem, I had signed my name and dated the piece with the sewing machine but had to cover it for the judging process. This quilt was awarded third prize in its category and I now have a special wall hanging commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday.

As always, carol

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Sacked and Stacked!

Nine bags of quilts!

Well, it’s been a long haul and a load of work but I’m completely ready to hit the trail! Phew! and with a few days of reprieve, too!

What appears to be a pile of Santa sacks are actually the special carrier bags that I made for each of my entries into the Saskatoon Quilters Guild Show that is opening this weekend, October 27 & 28th. So much of my recent quilting has all been top secret due to the fact that some of my pieces entered into the exhibition will be judged and need to stay anonymous until the show opens. Some quilts have been posted earlier, before I had decided to enter the show but five out of the nine are entirely brand new works, so there has been quite a marathon of quilting happening in the studio lately. And then there were the BAGS!!! NINE of them… and I thought they’d never end. But I made the decision early on to create bags which would be sturdy and well made, that could be used over a long period of time for many years to come, and hopefully I’d never have to make another one in my lifetime, ha! ha! Oh, don’t get me wrong, I truly love how they turned out – they are made of a heavy upholstery fabric on the bottom half for strength and protection, with a bold bright print on the top to make them unique and therefore, easy to identify. I obviously didn’t have to make them so elaborate but I wanted them to have personality and I know for sure that I will make good use of them for a long time. But, Boy! Oh! Boy! were they tedious to make!

All nine quilts will be delivered to Saskatoon at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday morning and I will be attending the Grand Opening on Thursday evening, and the regular show, which opens at 10:00 a.m. on Friday morning. There will be plenty of photo opportunities and I’m hoping to have some great quilts to show you over the next week or so, as I finally get back into the swing of regular postings.

In the meanwhile, I’ve been working through my scrap bins again and started making a new series of blocks as a ‘winter’ project. I find this is a fun way to use up those leftover stash fabrics and end up with a lovely scrappy quilt, that also serves as a documentation of fabrics from past projects.

The first twelve blocks for a new project

I can’t wait to make more of these blocks as they are fast and fun to sew together. Although I’m not sure yet how large I want this one to be, I’m quite sure the blocks will add up quickly and I’ll have a lovely new winter quilt in no time at all. I may have to resort to using the blocks as an ‘in between’ project as I still have a couple of  quilts on my list that need finishing up before this year ends. Keep watching for lots of new posts and in the meantime…

happy stitching,

as always, carol

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A Long Time Coming…

… But I’m back! Somehow the month of August seemed to get away from me. I’ve been noticing that others have felt the same, with bloggers commenting on summer just flying by and now we have autumn right around the corner.

I’m secretly heaving a great sigh of relief that the gardening season is coming to a close because, as much as I love the beauty and the bounty, it becomes all consuming at it’s peak. I’ve been canning and baking and clearing out the raised beds as they empty of their produce. The pantry is filling for winter and I’ve officially run out of jars (hip, hip, hooray!).

The crabapples glowed like red Christmas lights

Jellies and jams have been carefully simmering on the stovetop and now the sealed jars are lined up like sparkling jewels on the shelves.

Fall's harvest

I have one true apple tree that provided us with its first little bushel of good sized eating apples, six jars of apple sauce, and plenty leftover for a pie.

Can you smell the sweetness with a hint of cinnamon?

There has been activity happening at the sewing machine and there is a quilt top mounted on the longarm as well. I completely finished my O! Canada competition piece last week, with only the label to attach and I can now officially state that the very last block for my Canadian Women project was sewn together this afternoon. There is quite a bit of time in on this project and I’ve still got some work to do putting the last quadrant together with its sashing, but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m hoping to get this one on the longarm next.

A first and a last!

My Canadian Women quilt is going to be a bit different, in the sense that I’ve added some of my own blocks and omitted others. The final block I chose to make is a classic pineapple log cabin block made with some narrow leftover strips and scraps from the project. I wanted to go out with a bang, to make a block that I’ve never attempted before, and I truly LOVE this one! It turned out ever-so-slightly wonky on one side but considering I was winging it on my first try, I’m fine with that. This little stinker took ages to make and was totally worth the time investment. I have already decided that as soon as all my Quilt Show entries are complete I’m going to start building blocks for an entire pineapple quilt with all my scraps, perhaps as a weekly goal project over winter. Well, that’s the plan for now… we’ll see how far I get :o )

as always, carol

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Midsummer’s Garden Party

Pink rosebuds

Blooming profusely!

Ever-changing garden beds

I’m afraid I’ve been hi-jacked by my very own garden this year. Each morning will find me out there very early, before the heat takes hold, watering and weeding and wandering around just savouring this wonderful season of  miraculous growth. We’ve just marked our ten year anniversary on this little piece of land we call the ‘farm’ and I can finally say that my gardens are where I’d like them to be – full of transplants that I brought with me from Calgary and plenty of new ones to fill in the gaps. The gardens are diverse and much, much larger than before, but I can say with confidence that they are now well established and thriving better than my old garden ever was before and just think, we worked on that old one for almost 28 years. But I think I’ve worked even harder on this place, to make up for lost time and to keep up with the steep learning curve of a brand new environment started from scratch, right down to building up the soil from a clay base.

Progress on the garden party quilt

All four borders are stitched on!

A peek at the back side.

I have been quite determined to keep up with my quilting commitments and try to fit in as much stitching time as possible each day. It is sometimes tricky finding the time to stop the work process to take photos but this particular project is just so photogenic, I can’t help myself! And besides that, it just looks so perfect hanging in the garden.

Oh, this quilt makes me so happy! It truly exemplifies all that I love about my garden and contains so many happy flower colours that it makes my heart sing when I look at it.

All four borders have been stitched on at this point but you can see in the second photo that there are still motifs to be added on at the corners, as well as more yo-yos and circles to fill in some empty areas. I also found a splendid Kaffe Fassett fabric which I’m fussy cutting big blooms from and I feel that’s really adding more flare to the garden party. I love how that last photograph, taken from the back of the quilt top with the morning sun shining through it, creates the most beautiful stained glass effect.

Now to be perfectly honest, I haven’t had much time for applique work over the past two weeks since, as you know, my quilting thread arrived and my priorities shifted. As of Saturday, that particular project (which is top secret and destined for the big show this fall) came off the longarm frame and I’m currently doing some blissful binding. Just to pique your curiosity…

A little custom quilting

...and a little more

I’m so excited to share this project as it is unlike anything I’ve ever done before and I truly pushed myself out of my comfort zone on the custom quilting. Sorry I can’t show you any more but you’ll have to wait until November to see the final results of this one.

In the meantime, happy stitching! carol xoxox

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