Meet Magda (and her beautiful chevron baby quilt)

It's late March. A week until April. I'm in Ottawa and it looks like the middle of February. I hope mother nature remembers how pretty spring is supposed to be...

Speaking of pretty, meet Magda and her beautiful chevron baby quilt.

Magda is a perfectionist in all senses of the word. She strives for the best at all times, rarely settles for anything but, and always ensures that she has taken the time to fully research all aspects of a subject before she makes the best decision possible. She is my go-to for any technology, appliance, or renovation advice. I have yet to be led astray.

Her chevron baby quilt is no exception. She was inspired by this baby quilt from the plaid scottie, and pulled her beautiful neutral-gender colours from Riley Blake Designs' Sasparilla Alphabet Teal.

Magda was set on a chevron quilt that didn't have too deep a zigzag -- a shallower chevron without too sharp a point. Eventually (through much online research) she found a lovely tutorial from The Crafty Cupboard that uses a 60 degree angle instead of the typical 45 degrees.

She added a strip of white fabric to really make the rest of her quilt pop, and the end result was gorgeous.

People approach me all the time to tell me how impressed they are with my sewing talents (aw, you guys). And I protest until I'm blue in the face that I'm no more talented than the average person. I just seize moments when I'm inspired and schedule some time to give it a try. Magda used to be one of these people I speak of. And here she is, whipping up a beautiful quilt top in less than two days.

It's about setting aside the time and surrounding yourself with inspiration and support. I've got a couple spots left in the my Summer Farmhouse Retreat if you're looking for a creative outlet!

Sadly, Magda isn't able to join me for the next retreat. If only Magda's amazing husband could lock her in a room and force her to finish the quilt so we can see the finished product. She's chosen a mouse and bicycles print from the Lizzy House Cat Nap collection as her quilt back!

Meet Meghan (and her works of art)

Did I mention there were three fantastic ladies that joined me at the Cozy Winter Retreat?

Meet Meghan.

Meghan is a visual artist who spends her day inspiring young artists by teaching high school art class.

You can just imagine my excitement when I found out she was able to join us for the winter retreat. It's always nice when we can add some variety to our group of sewers; not only is there one less clunking machine, but the visual art is such a creation of the moment: there's no predetermined design or plan. It was going to be so exciting seeing what would inspire Meghan in our retreat space. I've always admired her paintings of colourful outdoor beauty.

Undecided about what to work on, Meghan came equipped with a whole car of supplies. Paints, chisels, exacto knives. Canvases, wood blocks, linoleum.  So much more exciting than fabric and thread. Well, except maybe when you see a collection of fabrics that make up a beautiful baby quilt. But we'll get to that in the next feature.

Her artist's toolbox was already so intriguing, what was she going to make with it all?!

Saturday morning we went for a walk together in the deep, deep snow, down the cottage property towards the Nottawasaga River. The morning was beautiful: bright and sunny, although unforgivingly windy. We witnessed a beautiful fugue between two Mockingjays. (Okay, I have since confirmed they were common Chicadees -- infinitely less exciting, but their back and forth banter was still beautiful.) With her exacto knife in hand, Meghan foraged the ground for inspiring pieces of nature.
I always find it so ridiculous that someone could be in awe watching me stitch a straight line. I wonder if Meghan felt the same way when Danielle, Magda, and I were ogling her ability to glue foliage onto painted blocks of wood. It was just so darn beautiful! I was amazed at Meg's ability to edit and simplify to transform the clumps of dead grass she brought back from the outside tundra to look vibrant and alive.

Her other project was undeniably fascinating to watch. She created two linoleum prints. My zero education in this process would describe it as carving into the linoleum to create a giant rubber stamp. You sort of have to think backwards and carve out the negative space, and then think mirror image because everything is reversed when printed.

The "thistle" print was incredible. And she was nice enough to make three prints so each of us could bring one home.

Thanks so much, Meg, for your surge of visual art creativity at the retreat! And an extra big thank you for introducing me to the reality series "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist"; I cannot believe I had not heard about this show earlier!

Meet Danielle (and her fabulous cape)

My recent Cozy Winter Retreat was simply amazing. Relaxing, productive, serene, inspiring.

Thanks for all the nice words from those following our weekend via Twitter or Facebook. Why did it take me so long to get an iPhone?!

It was a small turnout, perhaps because I dropped off the radar due to classic first-trimester queasiness (baby due in August!) but I think it all worked out perfectly for me. I could not have asked for three more encouraging, talented, and fun attendees!

The four of us were spoiled by the massive space in a cottage on the Nottawasaga River, just outside Orangeville, ON. The fifteen-person capacity meant plenty of living space, bathroom space, and creative explosion space.

Lucky for us. Because our projects required space... Some more than others.

Meet Danielle.

Another Engineer by day, Crafter-Jeweller-Sewer by night. But Danielle has some super human powers that I hope rubbed off on me at the retreat. Alongside her ability to create with quality, so much of her work is designed by herself. A quick glimpse at her blog and your jaw will hit the floor.

She needs a custom mat for her front hallway. Check.

How about a hat, and another hat, and another hat (as part of a dinosaur halloween costume) for her adorable son, Adam? Done, done, and done.

And boy, that nursing chair could really use a facelift. She'll just do it herself!

It takes confidence and talent to try so much on your own, and we were so lucky to witness the process first-hand when Danielle created her most recent masterpiece: the cape.

Danielle was wowed and inspired to replicate this fabulous cape she saw on

She acquired some beautiful wool at a shop on St. Clair West, picked out some gorgeous lining fabric to pair with it, grabbed some accent teal piping (she's all about the details) and then set to work at the retreat making a big mess on the floor.

It's amazing how quickly she worked after her initial 20 minute blank stare, which was obviously her engineering brain calculating angles and performing mental isometric views of the design.

By the end of the retreat, she had completed most of the cape. My favourite part of the design is her oversized collar. No, my favourite part was witnessing this magnificent woman at work.

Congrats, Danielle, on such a beautiful garment!

For a full account of her cape crusade, including pictures of the finished masterpiece, check out the post on her blog!