Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Making up my mind

Sometimes I design a quilt in EQ or on paper and the finished quilt looks exactly like what I designed.  Other times, there are changes along the way.  My Rainbow Scrap challenge definitely falls into that second group.  Here's what it looks like so far.

RSC Butterflies on the design wall November 7th, 2017

I took the time to remake the yellow butterfly.  The fabrics in my original one were just too quiet compared to those in the other butterflies and it just faded away.  This new one in bolder yellows can hold its own better. (You can find my butterfly block tutorial here.)

The layout bears very little resemblance to either of the layouts I planned in January when I designed the butterfly and made my first block.

RSC Butterflies layout 1

RSC Butterflies layout 2

When I decided to stop at 9 blocks I had to rework things a little.  I thought I might add some Spring Bloom blocks to help grow the quilt to a usable size.  The green triangles were going to be prairie points.

RSC Butterflies layout 3

Yes, this was it.  Definitely.  Yet by the time I made the last butterfly block, I wasn't sure about those coloured blooms.  How about white blooms, like dogwood?

RSC Butterflies layout 4

Much better.  But what about this one?


RSC Butterflies layout 5

Hmm.  Nope.  I like the blooms in the corners better.

But wait.  By the time I was ready to start assembling the top, I was in a more traditional mood and wanted to frame things with a border, and I didn't want blooms anymore.  Without the blooms, those corners were awfully empty, not a very traditional look.  The nine-patches came out to play.

RSC Butterflies layout 6

Layout 6 was the layout I shared in October. This weekend I started actually assembling the quilt and in full size in fabric on the design wall, I felt there was too much blank background so I tweaked things.  I polled the household and everyone was in favour of coloured cornerstones too.

RSC Butterflies layout 7

This last variation is what is taking shape on my design wall.  It is far enough along that I am committed to it now. The final border will have a little extra something to spruce it up a bit too.

Here's the thing.  As I was looking through my EQ project file to extract these layouts to share here (there are dozens of iterations in that file, some of which are definitely in the "what was I thinking?!" category)  I realized my mood has shifted back to the more minimalist, modern look and the lighter feel of the light borders. Today I am gravitating to design 4 above, or maybe even this one:

RSC Butterflies layout 8

It is definitely time to finish this quilt! 

Linking up with
Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, October 30, 2017

Stars and Stars

You might have noticed I like star blocks. Perhaps it's related to my astronomer husband. In any case, stars have been forming in my sewing room. (Did I mention he studies star-forming regions?)

I did finally remake Jelly Bean Stars, using the leftovers of bright fabrics from my Wandering Geese remake, just as I made the original from leftovers from making the original Wandering Geese.  I tweaked this version a bit.  Here are the two side by side.

Magnitudes (2017) and Jelly Bean Stars (2012)
With a few more years of quilting and designing under my belt, I decided the smaller stars in the sashing needed to shine more.  In the original, honestly, they look more like little X's joining the blocks.  A combination of extending the small star points into the border and making the small stars the same color as the large ones made them pop more. I also decided there was enough to look at here without having a triple border.  Making the borders the same colour as the sashing makes everything else float on the background and gives a more modern feel.

I think this new version has a crisper look than the original.  It's all spiffed up, so it needs a new name. Stellar magnitude refers to the brightness of a star, and I have big (bright) ones and smaller (dimmer) ones on this quilt.  "Magnitudes" seems a fitting name.

Magnitudes is now quilted and has a pretty blue binding but I haven't had time and pretty weather together at the same time to take nice pictures yet.  I wanted this quilt finished sooner than later and had too much on my plate already, so I sent it to Liz Meimann of A Quilted Memory for all-over longarm quilting.  Here's a peek until I can get proper glamour shots.


And a peek at the back too.  I found the perfect backing, but it was 60" wide and needed 66".  I really didn't want to buy a whole other length just for that 6", so I pieced a strip from scraps and inserted it into the back to make up the required width.





I love the way the back turned out, but honestly, "just slapping fabric together" for those improv blocks took me longer than planned blocks would have!  I really wanted to use up little scraps from the front though, so improv it was.  

I will be re-writing the pattern to reflect my design tweaks and to include additional sizes, and re-releasing it as Magnitudes. I just need to write up a different star quilt pattern first so it can go out to testers.  Then, and only then can I play with my Anne of Green Gables fabrics!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Pink RSC butterfly

October's butterfly block for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is done!  The colour this month is pink.  I'm glad this is about scraps, because I didn't have many big bits of pink to work with.

October RSC butterfly block: pink

I reached for the 60 degree triangle ruler for this one.  The upper wings are just rows of little 2" tall triangles.  The lower wings are a log cabin style block built around a triangle instead of a square.  Looking at this one I wish I had played more with the lower wings in the rest of my butterflies.  Not enough to want to remake any though!

I skipped the grey and neutral months, but I made two blue blocks so I now have nine butterflies.  I had planned to make extra of some colours to bring the total to 12 but I have decided to just use the nine I have.  I may remake the yellow one in stronger yellows though.  I'll see how I feel once I make the setting locks and see how everything looks then. Here's the flutter:

Nine RSC butterfly blocks

When I started making these in January I shared two layouts I was considering. Of course the more time passes between the idea and the execution, the less likely I am to use the original idea. When I decided I'd stop at 9 blocks, I tweaked things a bit, adding a few Spring Blooms blocks.  By the time I finished the last block on Monday, I wasn't sure about the blooms idea and I went back into EQ and tweaked things again.  Here's the final layout...unless there is too long a gap between now and when I actually assemble the top, in which case I might change my mind again.


I have enough background fabric but not enough green so this weekend I'm shifting to finishing up a few things.


  1. Lemoyne stars using various construction methods to decide which one to use in a pattern
  2. Binding the new and improved Jelly Bean Stars sample  
  3. Adding borders to a new larger and "grown up" Starlight Wishes
  4. Not finishing up, but at least making progress hand quilting Chic Country 
I really want to cut into my Anne of Green Gables fabrics, but I'm saving those as a reward for tackling the short list above.  We'll see how I do!

Linking up with
ScrapHappy Saturday at So Scrappy 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A tale of two fabrics

I started working on Lemoyne Star blocks in batiks last week.  Here's what I was hoping for:


This was not last week's attempt!  Last week's block turned out like this:


I think this looks like a hot mess.   I love this batik print, but it didn't work here at all!  One problem was that the dark background in the print and spots where the blue is deeper blend into my block background too much.  Another is that the scale of the print is too large for the pieces so the pretty gets cut up and lost, and I'm left with, well, this.

This was just too depressing to deal with last week.  What to do?  Start a new project, of course!  I worked on that the rest of the week and pieced a backing for it today.  It's all in bright, pretty leftovers from my recently finished Wandering Geese quilt, and the pieces and colours all played together just as they were supposed to.  I'll share more about that one later this week.  Anyway, working on that cheered me up considerably, so I had the courage to pull out the Lemoyne Stars again.

I bought a few brighter, smaller scale batiks to substitute for some of my previously selected batiks.  I still love the first selection, but they are going to have to find another project to play in (oh, the hardship!).  Tonight I made the lighter block above, and I think I can keep going on that track.  First I'll need to press my new selections that got forgotten in the dryer last night.


I think I will leave that for tomorrow evening.  Right now, as the weather had cooled off, I feel like an evening with a quilt pooled in my lap while I hand quilt it sounds appealing.  I have made woefully little progress quilting my daughter's Chic Country so I had better get to it while the mood strikes!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Wandering Geese, Take 2

Wandering Geese, Moda Grunge version, had its photo shoot at a local conservation area yesterday.  The weather was beautiful for a walk, but a little breezy for pictures!


 (I'm not sure how to embed video here, but if you want to see what I mean, you can see the video on Facebook here.)

We did manage to get a few pretty photos by ducking into the woods.


I love how the quilt is just floating here!  I'm surprised my husband's feet aren't showing, but I'll take it!


We gave up on the shot I wanted, of prairie and sky in the background. Laying it down on the ground on the prairie path was the closest we could get.


My husband indulged me, stepped off a path (after I checked for poison ivy), tripped on some vines and set up this quilt on a tree shot, hanging it off a large knot like a towel on towel hook.


This quilt was quilted entirely with my walking foot, using black Aurifil thread to stitch in the ditch around every patch and diagonal lines one inch apart in the background.  I toyed with stitching triangles of some sort in the piano key border, but realized as I was marking them that they would be too busy.  I opted for two sets of straight lines running perpendicular to the piano keys.  These lines, and a few extra ones in the large flying geese, are stitched with a variegated Sulky Blendables thread that picks up all the colors and seems to add a soft glow.  I couldn't get that to show up in my picture, but it worked really well.


This quilt will replace the original on the cover of the pattern.  I just need to take a few possible covers to the printer's and see which photo looks best in print.  The colors on my computer monitor and the printed page seldom agree!

In the meantime, I'm using up scraps from this quilt to make an updated version of Jelly Bean Stars in Moda Grunge as well.  Pictures of that will follow eventually, but for now I'll share one more picture from yesterday, just because I have about 50 of them to choose from (gotta love digital photography)!


Friday, September 29, 2017

Still tackling the list!

On September 1st I posted a quilty "to do" list, and I'm happy to say I ticked a few things off this month.

Star Fall, RSC Butterfly, Wandering Geese, Sparkling Trail, Samoyed Baby

  1. Quilt Cyclone baby quilt
  2. Quilt new Wandering Geese
  3. Add final border to and quilt new Starlight Wishes
  4. Quilt both mini Sparkling Trail quilts: 1930s version, black and red version
  5. Make a new RSC butterfly or two
  6. Finish hand stitching binding on Samoyed baby quilt
  7. Start brand new Lemoyne Star quilt (or two - I have fabric options to work out!)
  8. Start Anne of Green Gable quilts (two of them, one for me, one for daughter)
  9. Start a snowflake quilt - I've been thinking of all 26, and maybe a few new ones, all together in a single quilt...

I'll have a picture or two of the new Wandering Geese soon.  We're taking it for a walk in the park for glamour shots (or my attempt at them) tomorrow.  I wrote posts about the butterfly, Sparkling Trail and Samoyed earlier this month.

I made good progress on Star Fall, a new design.

Star Fall in Tula Pink

It still need background strips on either side, then I need to decide:  border or no borders?  My original idea was to skip borders and just bind in scrappy print leftovers.  Now I'm not sure.  It will have to simmer a little bit.

In the meantime, I've been working on figuring out the details of making these Lemoyne Stars without the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler.  As much as I loved using Deb Tucker's ruler to make the stars and the triangles, I fear a pattern requiring two specialty rulers might be challenging to sell.  I plan to include instructions for using the rulers, but also instructions without.

Today I worked on trimming details.

Paper trial

I had previously printed out templates from EQ7 to measure the pieces.  I then worked out how to measure to rotary cut the pieces without the templates.  What I needed next was help aligning the pieces, so I cut out paper pieces, drew in 1/4" seam allowances all around, and put pins through the seam intersections, matching the intersections of two pieces the way they would be when sewn. With the pins holding those matched points together, I could mark where one piece extended past the other piece.  That's the trim line for that piece.

I trimmed the paper as marked, then pulled out my handy dandy Marti Michell corner trimmer to see if it would trim the same way.  


 Yes!  That made things so much easier when I switched to fabric!   Trimming the tips just so lets me line up the pieces with no guesswork and no marking of each individual fabric patch.

I got impatient to see if all my figuring worked and neglected to take progress pictures.  Here's the finished test star block though.

Blue Lemoyne Star Block

I'm going to try to remake the quilt in different fabrics using these measurements, without the specialty ruler.  If that works, I'll move on to writing up the pattern both ways.  Or maybe three ways.  Paper piecing would be easy and accurate, so I could make it that way too.  I do hear a lot of people say they won't touch paper piecing though and I don't want to limit the pattern's appeal....Clearly, I have a lot of thinking still to do!

While I think, I'll cut fabric for method two.  Here's what I spent a couple of hours choosing for it at the quilt shop a few weeks ago.


Hmm.  That's not a great picture.  There's a pop of yellow in the second fabric, and the last fabric, which will be background, is deeper and richer that it appears in the photo.  I guess I need to step away from the computer and go cut the fabric in all its glorious batik color so I can put it all in a top to show it off properly!


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall again! - Blogger's Quilt Festival 2nd entry

Today was the first day of fall, even though you wouldn't have guessed it from the heat and humidity!  Still, the changing calendar made me think of pulling out my fall quilts.  I only have those out until early December, when Christmas quilts get their turn, so I need to pull them out now to enjoy them for a few months.

I thought I'd share one of those for my second Blogger's Quilt Festival entry.  Here is Autumn Moons, finished in August 2013 but still one of my favourites. 


I was practicing curves and had to do something with those practice blocks!

Like many of my quilts, this one was quilted with a walking foot.  It involves lots of turning and smooshing of the quilt through the throat of my domestic sewing machine, but it gets the job done nicely! Marking curves and following along with the walking foot gives me a much smoother and precise arc than I am able to achieve with freemotion quilting.  I like tidy and neat :)


I hope you will pop over to the Blogger's Quilt Festival to be inspired by all the quilts.  It's quite a collection of all sizes, styles and colors!