Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Gardening won

There has been very little sewing to share the past month. I haven't kept up with what's been going on in blogland either.  It wasn't for lack of interest.  Rather it was a lack of time. Setting the garden to rights before the heavy heat set in gobbled up all my days off and some evenings as well, and tired me out so that all I wanted to do was tuck into bed at the end of the day.

Evening primsrose
 
After a couple of years of letting gardening chores slide down the priority list, there were just some things that could not be put off any longer.  Some flowerbeds were terribly overgrown, plants needed dividing and thistles and dandelions were just a little too comfortable.

I forgot to take "before" pictures, but here's a peek at the "after" as it starts to bloom.

Redbud tree surrounded by lilies
This bed around the redbud tree is brand new. It caused my daughter to stop dead in her tracks when she saw  us digging in May.  She finally found her voice to ask:  "You're adding MORE?  Didn't you say last year you couldn't keep up with what you had?"  She was right, but that was tired, hot August me saying that.  The version of me who was digging a new flower bed was the optimistic May, spring-is-finally-here me.  Plus, all those lilies came from plants elsewhere in the yard that sorely needed dividing, and how could I throw any out after they survived the long winter and started sprouting again?  There are daisies, purple salvia and ornamental grasses behind the redbud, all divisions from elsewhere in the yard.

Oh, that redbud?  Four years ago a stick came home from Girl Scout daycamp for us to plant.  We stuck it in a bucket of water while we pondered where to plant it, forgot about it for four weeks, remembered it and decided to throw it away...but when we went to get it to toss it, it had sprouted leaves so we dug a hole and hoped for the best.  It's doing great!


We added about a foot and a half to the width of this flower bed because the plants were too crowded and planted in a straight line with no imagination. The proportions are much better now.  Black eyed susans and purple coneflower will bloom later inthe summer once the lilies are done.  I hope the pinkish-red daylily I moved from the front yard will bloom too.  It looked a little parched earlier this month.

Swingset frame birdfeeder with flower garden
We're still feeding the birds (and squirrels).


Tipsy pots

The tipsy pots are a challenge to keep watered, but they add a nice but of height and summer long colour with the annual blooms.

New front steps and retaining wall planter


Our proudest achievement this spring is the little retaining wall beside the front steps. We had listing, crumbling concrete steps and a rusting, rickety railing replaced with these new steps and railing last fall.  It looks so much better that we were encouraged to finally do something about the slope to the left of the steps, where plants couldn't thrive because any water just ran down the slope before it could sink into the soil.  The wall is built and my husband and I are still speaking to each other!  Now we'll see if the plants survive, and if the wall survives next winter's frost.

Vinca, marigolds and purple fountain grass

Daylilies

Now my challenge is to keep things watered. It has been rather wet and stormy for the last week or so, and I know that once things dry out I will still think it just rained and surely I don't need to water yet...

Now that the garden is mostly reset, except for a bit more weeding and mulching, I can get back to work in the sewing room and focus on finishing a few patterns as well.  I'll need testers for Magnitudes soon.  The pattern will have baby, throw, twin and queen sizes.  Anyone interested?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Tiles

Let me begin by saying that my camera just is not capturing the richness of these colors.  I took closeup pictures hoping that would help, but it doesn't.  It just won't capture the texture and gold flecks of these Artisan Spirit Shimmer fabrics.


I don't play with precuts very often.. I never know what to do with the pinked edges.  Should I cut them off?  Measure from the outside edges, or the middle or the inside of the pinked edges?  There is also the possibility that the precut piece isn't exactly the nominal size on the package.  I've had 2 1/2" strips that were a little narrow, and some a little wide.  This isn't a problem for something like Jelly Roll Race quilts, but if the pattern needs exact cut sizes, that can cause trouble. In this case, the packages of 10" squares came home anyway because it was just too pretty to stay on a store shelf. 


An idea for a scrap quilt had been simmering for a while and it occurred to me that I might be able to make it from precut 10" squares instead to use up the pretties that came home. Technically, I should have been able to cut four 2 1/2" x 10" strips from each square, but the square wasn't quite square so I had to settle for fewer cuts per square.    This leads me to a question for users of precuts and patterns:  would you rather have the cutting instructions assume the theoretical maximum possible cuts, or less efficient cuts that result in  leftovers but won't cause problems if the precut pieces are not quite the size they should be?  Please chime in with a comment!

Next on the list for this project:
  • Find a better name
  • Settle on a design to use up all the bonus HST generated in making the quilt top
  • Quilt and bind 
So maybe a late summer finish?  That may seem sluggish, but the garden is calling, finally, after a long winter!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fundy Skies version 2

 I'm on pins and needles.  I sent this off to the longarm quilter last week.

Fundy Skies quilt in progress, Canuck Quilter Designs

Fundy Skies quilt top in progress, Canuck Quilter Designs

I finished putting on the borders first, of course!  I just didn't get a picture of the full top before handing it off.

I'm on pins and needles because I don't like giving up control. Hand quilting this one is out.  I'm way too slow and I'm not even halfway done the quilting my daughter's twin size quilt yet! I also can't machine quilt this queen sized top on my domestic machine with the desk and space that I have without hurting my sholulder. I really don't want to go back to physical therapy again so I gave in.   Liz of A Quilted Memory in Nevada, IA is very good at listening to what kind of quilting I want, and she does a very nice job.  I'm sure it will be lovely when I get it back, but I will still be twitchy until I actually see it!

Next up...something with these Artisan Spirit Shimmer fabrcis by Northcott:


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Throwback Thursday - Star Soup

Sandra at mmmquilts! is hosting Throwback Thursday the first Thursday of every month.  I missed last month, but here's my contribution for May.


I think the pattern was called Star Soup, though I can't remember who it was by because, ahem, I didn't attach a label.  Maybe this will be a lesson to me a dozen years later: remember the label! This was my third completed quilt, finished in Sept. 2006. (I know the date because the photo was dated.) It only took me a couple of years to make.  Piecing it went fairly quickly but the hand quilting slowed down the finish.  This was in my "one finished quilt every two to three years" period.


I quilted a diagonal grid lined up with the star points, stitched in the ditch around each star, and quilted a little heart in most of the stars.  The rest of the stars have letters to spell out my daughter's name. 






I used a painting stencil to trace the letters.  I did not and do not free-hand that well!

I bought all the star fabrics and the background at Poppin's Parlour in Pentiction, British Columbia but by the time I had assembled the top and discovered I didn't have enough background fabric to use for the border we had moved to Iowa.  Being short of fabric was entirely my fault, by the way, not the shop's.  It turns out that if you make a quilt larger than the pattern plans for, you'll need more fabric.  Who knew ?  :)

Anyhow, I couldn't find more of the same fabric, but another blue with slightly larger hearts scattered all over fit the theme so I went with that.


This quilt has been well loved and used. Though it was replaced as Laura's main bed quilt several years ago, it still gets pulled out now and then for extra warmth.  I curled up under it on the couch recently and decided I need to make another flannel quilt.  It is so soft and cuddly!  I'll get right on that...or maybe just add to the list?  That list is getting very long...

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Starfall Parade of Quilts

This parade of quilts is being posted posted a little later than I anticipated.  I had internet connectivity issues this weekend.  However, it is still technically the weekend here, so I'll say it isn't quite late!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to the generous quilters who offered to test my Starfall pattern.  Their feedback was a huge help to help me write a better pattern and release it with confidence, knowing the fabric amounts are adequate, cutting instructions are accurate and instructions are clear.

Without further ado, here are photos of their quilt tops.  I think you will agree that it is great fun to see so many varied fabric choices for a single design.  Well done, testers!

 Kathi Kivi (visit her on Facebook here)

 Judy Juhl

 Joyce Penney Schroeder

Rashida Juzer  (Visit her website here or find her on instagram as @no3quiltstudio)

Kim Williams

Sue Babbitt

Julie Sheehy

Amelia Clausen

Ann Wilbur

I love them all (quilts and testers)!  I think I might be lucky enough to see a few of the quilts in person once they are quilted as some of the testers live in my general part of the world (hint,hint, you know who you are!).  I'm looking forward to it!

If you would like to make your own version of Starfall, you can purchase the pattern here.  Use the coupon code STARFALL20 through the end of April for a 20% discount on this pattern. 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Starfall in Batiks

As promised, here is a second version of Starfall. (If you missed the first version and pattern release, you can pop over to yesterday's post.)


You may remember my original batik fabric selection didn't work out very well.  I am very pleased with my second attempt though!


I'm very happy that this designs works just as well with a dark background as it did with a light background. It makes it very versatile.  Come back tomorrow to see a whole collection of Starfall quilts in a variety of fabric colors and styles.  My great testers were not afraid of making their own color selections and created some beautiful quilts!


To celebrate this pattern release I am offering a 20% discount on this pattern in my Payhip shop  through the end of April.  Use coupon code STARFALL20

Friday, April 20, 2018

Presenting Starfall

It's ready!  It's finally ready!  Drumroll please!

Cover of Starfall pattern by Canuck Quilter Designs

My Starfall pattern is now available for purchase on Payhip and on Craftsy.

This pattern has been in the works for some time now.  The concept has been kicking around in my head for about 3 years and I finally pinned it down last fall.  I shared a peek of the top in September, and a second version in my 2017 round-up in January, but I haven't shared an official reveal here.  It took me longer than I liked to write this pattern because I wrote it two ways:  one using the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star and V Block rulers from Studio 180 Design, and the other using foundation paper piecing in case you don't have access to the handy dandy rulers.  I also tried regular piecing, and it was possible but fiddly and there are only so many options you can cram into in a single pattern without making it a muddled mess!

In the end, the pattern has instructions for making both blocks with either the specialty rulers or foundation paper piecing, and you can mix and match.  If you have one ruler but not the other, you can use the ruler for one block and paper piecing for the other.

Oh, and it is in three sizes too:  baby, throw and twin, all the same layout but different sized blocks.

Here's a look at the quilting, all done with, you guessed it, my walking foot!  Deciding what to quilt took me a while and I finally just started quilting diagonally from one corner to the next in straight lines.  When I got tired of that direction I mixed things up a bit and went vertical. Then I got bored with that and went diagonal again, and so on until the quilt was all quilted.

Starfall quilt by Canuck QWuilter Designs

Here's a close up so you can see the fabrics a little better. 


Close up of Starfall by Canuck Quilter Designs
Starfall quilt close-up.  Photo by quiltphotography.com.

The background is Moda Grunge White Paper (or is it paper white?).  The stars and triangles are all Tula Pink.  On even days, this light Tula version is my favourite, and every other day I prefer the darker, richer version I paper pieced.  Come back tomorrow for pictures of the darker version and let me know which you prefer.  Then on Sunday, I'll share my fabulous pattern testers' beautiful versions, with all their varied color schemes.  I hope you'll come back to see those too.


To celebrate this pattern release I am offering a 20% discount on this pattern in my Payhip shop through the end of April. Use the coupon code STARFALL20.