Friday, January 19, 2018

Thanks for sharing!

Every now and then I wonder why I keep writing patterns.  I'm sure my very supportive husband has also wondered when I treat him to rants about a design I really like not finding traction out in the wide world, or about being so tired of that pattern I've been working on forever (love the quilt, but the pattern isn't flowing as it should yet) or about that last magazine rejection.

Then, to balance things out, every now and then I also get lovely messages from quilters who have made quilts with my patterns and kindly share pictures of their creations.  They truly lift my spirits and encourage me to keep working.

Anita in Ottawa shared her beautiful version of my Spring Blooms quilt (I shared the block tutorial here).  I love seeing alternate versions of my designs.  Anita chose very different fabrics and chose a straight setting instead of an on-point setting. Same blocks, very different quilt! I'm very late sharing this picture.  Anita sent me this last spring and I saved it in the wrong folder and couldn't find it again.  I'm so glad I finally stumbled into the correct folder!

Anita's Spring Blooms

Mary M. made Geese Across the Table placemats.  I love her color choices.  She chose to make them less scrappy than mine and I think that worked out very well.
Mary's Geese Across the Table

Mary also made a version of Tic Tac Who? for her grandchild, choosing to make the puppy a Labradoodle like the family dog.  Works for me!

Mary's Tic Tac Who?

Here is Sue Zimmerman's Snow Dreams tree skirt, which she finished in time for Christmas.  It was her first ever paper pieced project! Nothing like jumping in with both feet, but she did a fabulous job. Nancy Troyer quilted it for her.

Sue Zimmerman's Snow Dreams

And Marilyn F. shared her Canada 150 quilt.  Check out the fun pieced back as well, with a pieced label about her participation in both Canada's 100th and 150th anniversary celebrations.

Marilyn's Canada 150 quilt

Thank you for sharing and for the encouragement, ladies! I'm off to work on a new pattern!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hand quiting progress

I'm doing well so far with my goal to make time for what I love this year.  I enjoy the quiet rhythm of hand quilting in the evenings, but in the last year I have let that pleasure slide to the bottom of my "to do" list.  Not anymore!  I am making a conscious effort to stop whatever I'm doing about an hour before bedtime and sit with my quilting.

Quilting Chic Country

This quilt top was finished last February. I finally decided how to quilt it in early spring, discovered my arms were not long enough to quilt with at the distance my eyes could focus,  finally gave in and got progressive lenses for my glasses and promptly decided it was too hot to sit with a quilt in my lap during the summer.  I don't know what my excuse was for neglecting this quilt in the fall, but I finally started working on it again and I can finally see the larger design starting to emerge.

Starting to see the larger picture in the quilting

I really am enjoying my evening quilting sessions.  It surprises me (though perhaps it shouldn't) how tuning out everything else for a little bit of quiet time before bed is helping me fall asleep more easily.

Just in case I start getting discouraged at the pace of my progress, I have printed out a line drawing of the quilt and am colouring it as the quilt gets quilted.  That was motivating and encouraging when I quilted Whimsy and my son's kaleidoscope (still unnamed!) quilt. Here's the progress so far.  If I commit to an average of quilting half a block each day, I can have this done before summer.  Let's see how I do! I missed one day already in favour of family time, but that's certainly a valid excuse, well in line with good mental health goals!

Linking up with
Sunday Slow Stitching at Kathy's quilts

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Priorities in 2018

Here we are almost halfway through January already.  I have been seeing blogs and instagram posts filled with quilting goals and resolutions for the new year.  Lists and lists of wonderful quilty goals.  I have been struggling with my own plans.  I have lists.  Oh my!  Do I have lists!  I ended up feeling rather overwhelmed.

There's the problem.  Quilting was my sanity saver when the kids drove me nuts when they were younger.  It was my happy place where I wasn't overwhelmed, where I could recharge my batteries.  In my world, quilting is not supposed to be overwhelming!

Hoarfrost by Canuck Quilter Designs

I pulled out my winter quilts this week.  Look at Hoarfrost with the pretty snowflakes.  The pretty snowflakes reminded me of the movie Frozen, whose soundtrack played pretty much constantly in the background while I stitched this.  Thinking of that of course led to that ear worm replaying through my head.  That's it! My direction for 2018...

Let It Go!

I'm letting go of the stress.  I still have lists: patterns I want to write or revise, new ideas to pitch to magazines, tutorials I'd love to share (but I have to write them first), marketing chores and ideas, lectures and workshop ideas to develop, quilts to make...  See,  that list of lists is getting to me just typing it out!

I'm taking a deep breath and letting go. I'll tackle the top item on each list and work on it and let the rest of the items go until it's their turn. Fretting about what I'm not getting done isn't getting anything done sooner, so I'm going to focus on one at a time, for the time it takes to get it done.  

Letting go of the stress is also going to require carving out some quilting time away from the business side of quilting.  I'm not shuttering my business or quitting pattern designing, beacuse I really do enjoy those too.  However, I don't need to be working on a pattern whenever I'm not working at the quilt shop.  I shouldn't be sitting in front of the computer every single evening.  Also, some sewing can and should be "just because" with no deadlines or demands attached.   I need to get back quilting being my happy place. And that will make me happier and saner overall, and better able to cope with the rest. I think my family will approve.

Here's the plan for today's playtime

I'm starting right now.  I have an unexpected snow day off today and my first thought was to work on the Starfall pattern that is half written.  However, New Me realizes that time was set aside for that already in my original plans.  This unexpected day is a freebie day, and I am going to work on my RSC butterfly quilt "just because" it is going to make me smile.  And then I'll spend a little extra time in the kitchen making something warm and yummy (don't know what yet).  And I am going to spend time with my daughter, who also has an unexpected snow day in the midst of her high school exams.  And maybe I'll go clean the bathroom because it really does need a bit of attention, but honestly that item is pretty far down today's list!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 in my sewing room

It's that time again when I look back at the previous year's quilting to see what I finished and what I didn't, and decide where to focus my attention in the new year. This year I decided to do a review in pictures. 

Clockwise from top left:  1. Rosie with her quilt   2. "150" for Canada's birthday   3. Birdwatching   4. Playful Samoyed      5. Starfall (pattern coming soon)  6. Magnitudes (pattern coming soon)  7. Wandering Geese in Moda Grunge  8. Sparkling Thirties (from my Sparkling Trail pattern)

Clockwise from top left:  1. Chic Country variation currently being slowly hand quilted   2. Starlight Wishes remake - pattern rewrite with extra sizes coming soon   3. Starfall in Tula Pink (pattern coming soon)  4. Cyclone Baby (from Magnitudes pattern, coming soon)

Clockwise from top left:  1. Sparkling Thirties  2. Magnitudes  3. Birdwatching  4. Starfall in Tula Pink  5.Playful Samoyed  6. Starfall in batiks

Both available in my Payhip shop

The tutorial for the block I used for the Rainbow Scrap challenge is here.  In November I sewed the blocks together but I haven't gotten to the borders yet.  That's a task for 2018!

There were assorted small projects too, most of which I didn't photograph: a Runaround Bag, a Zippy Strippy bag, two Christmas stockings, three Circle Zip earbud pouches, a knit scarf and a pair of knit socks (both about 2 years in the making - I'm a slow knitter with too much quilting to do!) and a few other little things.

I hope you enjoyed the review.  Now let's see if it helps me figure out what to work on next.

I wish all of you a peaceful, joyful 2018 with lots of quilty inspiration and no seam ripping!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Twice-turned Christmas stocking tutorial

There was very little happening in the sewing room recently.  I started experiencing sewing withdrawal and needed some fun sewing this week. Itching to make something Christmas related,  I floated the idea of replacing the kids' Christmas stockings to freshen up our Christmas decor.  That didn't go over very well.  Apparently, my sentimental teens like the ones I made each of them when they were born.  I can't quibble.  I wasn't contemplating sewing myself a new stocking to replace the one my grandmother knit for me 40-something years ago!

The mice were on my side though and provided me with a reason to sew some stockings.  When I spoke with my mom on Monday, she told me that mice had gotten into her bin of Christmas decorations and among other messiness had shredded the Christmas stockings.  They weren't stockings with sentimental value, so I think it's OK I had a skip in my step on the way down to the sewing room on Tuesday to make these:

Quilt as you go, twice turned Christmas Stockings

I made the star with my Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler by Deb Tucker of Studio 180 Design.  I think I'm a little bit addicted to these blocks.  Where else can I use them?  A 4" block with no trouble at all!  Now I want to try a 3" one.  Maybe I need a few new ornaments for the tree.

At work at the Quilting Connection last month I learned a new technique for making quick, easy, lined stockings.  I loved that I didn't have to cut individual stocking shapes from print fabric, lining and batting before sewing.  We used pretty Christmas prints, no patchwork piecing, so it was a very quick project.  For mom and dad's stocking I wanted some piecing, so I pieced a panel to use for one of the fabric pieces.  Read on for more details.

Materials :
  • Stocking template of your choice (I just traced an existing stocking onto freezer paper and added 1/4" around the shape to account for bulk at the seams)
  • 2 rectangles of thin batting* - I used Thermore
  • 2 rectangles of lining fabric*
  • 2 rectangles of print fabric* (or one rectangle and one pieced panel large enough to fit the template plus at least 1/4" all around
  • 2" x 5" piece of fabric for hanging loop
  • fabric for the cuff (length = twice the width of top of stocking + 1/2" for seam allowances, height = twice the height you want the cuff to be + 1/2" for seam allowances)
*These rectangle pieces are all the same size, large enough to fit your template plus at least 1/4" all around.

Materials for optional pieced panel
  • 1 - 4 1/2" (unfinished size) pieced block (or fussy cut print square)
  • assorted scrap strips
  • 1 rectangle of Thermore (or lighweight interfacing you can see a traced outline through) large enough to fit stocking template plus at least 1/4" all around.

    Piecing the optional panel

    (Skip ahead to the next section, Stocking body assembly,  if you are using a print instead of a pieced panel for the front of your stocking.) 

    Step 1:  Trace the template on a piece of Thermore.  Make sure you use a marker dark enough to show through on the other side of the Thermore as well.

    Step 2:  Place your block or 4 1/2" fussy cut square right side up on the batting, positioning where you would like to see it in the stocking shape.

    (It turns out I didn't take enough pictures of this part as I made my stocking, so I just made a rough start on a mini stocking too illustrate.  Pretend the white square is actually a star block!)

    Step 3: Choose a scrap strip that is long enough to extend along one full side of your block and past it, overlapping the drawn line of the stocking shape.  Place the strip right side down on the block, matching one end with one side of the block and one side with a side of the block.   The strip should extend past the block, over the stocking outline.  Sew the strip down with a 1/4" seam.  Fold the strip back, out of the way of the square, and press.  You now have a strip sewn to one side of the block.
    Sigh.  I forgot to take a picture of the strip folded back out of the way of the square.

    Step 4: Add a second strip to another side in the same way, ensuring that it covers the end of the first strip, runs along the side of the block and extends past the stocking outline.


     Step 5:  Continue adding strips in this way, always ensuring the strips extend past the stocking outline.

     (We now rejoin my original stocking in progress.)

    Step 6:  Continue adding strips in this way until the entire stocking shape is filled. Here's what mine looked like.  I added the strips near the toe at an angle, but you can add them however you like, as long as any seam allowances inside the stocking outline end up covered.  Notice that the stocking outline is completely covered as well.

    Here's what it looks like from the back.

    Next comes the stocking assembly  If you skipped the pieced panel and are using a print fabric instead, this is where you should join in.

    Stocking body assembly

    Step 1: If you are using a print fabric for the front of your stocking, trace the stocking template on the wrong side of the fabric. If you are using the pieced panel, the traced outline of the stocking you used for the piecing will show through the Thermore. 

    Step 2:  Layer your batting, lining and print/pieced panels in the following order:
    1. batting
    2. lining, right side up
    3. lining, right side down
    4. batting
    5. print, right side up
    6. print or pieced panel for front of stocking, right side down 
     Note that the traced outline should be visible on top of the stack.

    Step 3:  Pin all the layers together carefully.  Sew along the traced outline of the sides and toe of the stocking shape, leaving the top of the stocking unsewn and backstitching at the beginning and end of the stitching.  You might like to use a walking foot for this.

    Step 4:  Trim around the stocking outline, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance.  Clip the seams on the curves, cutting the seam allowance perpendicular to the seam line but being careful not to cut into the seam itself.

    Now here comes the fun part!

    Step 5:  Reach in between the two layers of lining fabric and pull the stocking inside out.

    Well, not looking fun yet.  Keep going

    Step 6:  Now reach in between the two print layers and turn the stocking inside out again.

    Aren't you glad you kept going?  I forgot to take a picture, and the stocking is now in the care of the postal service, on its way to Nova Scotia, so I can't do it now, but I trust me when I say that the inside of this stocking is beautifully finished, with no unfinished edges. There is still that unfinished top, but adding the cuff will take care of that.

    Step 7:  Trim the top of the stocking to get a clean, straight edge.

    Making the hanging loop

    Step 1:  Fold the 2" x 5" piece of fabric in half lengthwise. Press.  Unfold fabric.  Fold long sides of fabric to the center fold.  Press.

    Step 2:  Fold in half lengthwise again to enclose the raw edges.

    Step 3: Topstitch about 1/8" from each edge.

    Step 4:  Fold strip in half end to end and baste the ends together to make a loop.

    Step 5: Pin the loop to the inside of the stocking, matching raw end with the raw edge at the top of the stocking.

    Adding the cuff

    Step 1:  Fold the cuff fabric in half end-to-end.  Sew the ends together with a 1/4" seam allowance.  (Check that the resulting tube fits snugly inside the top of the stocking.)

    Step 2:  Bring the raw edges of the tube together, encasing the wrong side of the fabric.  This will become the cuff.

    I used Cuddle fabric (similar to minky) for my cuff and I have to say that stuff was awfully slippery.  By the second stocking, I figured out to baste the raw edges of the tube together before the next step.  I don't think this would be necessary with less slippery fabrics, but I guess it wouldn't hurt.

    Step 4: Tuck the cuff into the top of the stocking,  matching raw edges of the cuff with the raw edge at the top of the stocking, distributing the fabric as evenly as possible.  A little bit of fullness here and there is OK.  Pin into place and sew all around, 1/4" from the edge.

     Step 5:  Pull the cuff out of the stocking and bring it down over the raw edge.

    There you go.  You're done! You might want to make another one to keep it company.

    Linking up with:
    Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
    Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts 
    Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

    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