Thursday, June 25, 2015

Scaling snowflakes

After my attempt at a blue drunkard’s path and snowflake quilt fell flat at the end of March, I planned to give up on that idea and use the drunkard’s path units on their own.  However, readers gave me a lot of positive comments about the original idea’s potential so I packed up all the parts together, just in case I wanted to try again.

The idea kept pulling at me so this week I gave in and played with it again.


I’m still not happy with the color distribution in the drunkard’s path blocks. Things seem washed out to me.  I think I need more mediums and fewer lights. 

However, I think I have the snowflake part sorted out!  The scale was all wrong before.  Also, despite the science geek in me wanting every snowflake to be different, as real snowflakes are, the quilt needs repetition.

I knew the scale was all wrong back in March, but I resisted the idea because my snowflake block patterns were all for 9” blocks.  If you have seen these patterns, you know the paper foundations have drawn seam allowances, shaped to specific angles at the points to help match sections.  That would be lost if I just enlarged the paper foundations on a copier or printer, as the seam allowance would be enlarged too instead of being the standard 1/4”.  I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to figure things out all over again to redraw trimmed seam allowances for a larger block.

This week my high school math came to the rescue.  Do you remember similar triangles from geometry?  Don’t worry, it will work for you even if you don’t remember the details.  The key part is that when I enlarged the foundations, the lengths of the sides all changed by the same proportion, but the angles stayed the same.


I used my rotary cutting ruler to trim the seam allowances around each paper pieced section to a proper 1/4” and used my paper foundations from the 9” block to trim the points.  Easy peasy!

So, if you have my snowflake block patterns and wish you could make them a different size, you can!  Just photocopy the foundations from the 9” pattern, with scaling set to whatever you need to obtain the size you want.  For example, scaling by 133% will give you foundations for a 12” block.  Scaling by 67% would yield foundations for a 6” block. (A 6” block would be cute, but would have awfully small pieces.  Just saying!)

You can trim the foundations to have the correct seam allowance and shaped points before you start sewing, or you can wait until after you have pieced the sections.  I went ahead and pieced first, then trimmed.



I lined up the 1/4” mark on my ruler along the printed solid line that represents the finished side of the section, then I trimmed away the extra and repeated on each side, leaving a 1/4” seam allowance all around this section.


Next I placed the template from the 9” block over the corresponding section for my enlarged block, matching the orientation, and sliding the smaller template until its point was even with the larger version’s point.  I used the trimmed point of the smaller template as my guide to trim the point of the enlarged section.

I did this for all the points on all the sections, and then just assembled the snowflake according to pattern instructions. Everything lined up perfectly.


I’m so happy I figured out how to scale this pattern!  Now I can stop asking myself why in the world I designed the original as a 9” block in the first place. Though it took on a life of its own,  I started the snowflake design adventure specifically for this quilt idea and 9” doesn’t figure in it anywhere!  So where did the 9” come from?  OK, I guess I’m not done asking.  The answer just doesn’t matter as much anymore.

Now I need to go pull fabrics from my blue bin to see if I can fine tune the drunkard’s path part of the quilt.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ah, summer!

Summer is here and sewing has slowed right down!  I did get these three Scrappy Trip blocks sewn for Diana’s Golden Needle


Diana is a Girl Scout working on her Gold Award (think Girl Scout equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle Award).  She is making quilts, using Bonny Hunter’s free Scrappy Trips pattern, for teens who are aging out of the foster care system and she is raising awareness of foster care and adoption. If you might like to contribute, click on the link above to read more about her project.  My daughter is a Girl Scout (who just earned her Silver Award, whoot whoot!), I was a Girl Guide, my mom was a Girl Guide…I just had to help out with this one!

Besides that, not much has been happening in my sewing room as I have been enjoying summer in the garden instead.

Evening primroseIMG_9622HollyhockDaylilies, petunias, founbtain grass, purple salviaPurple fountain grass, petunia, creeping jennyBirdbath gardenBackyard security patrol

I love that red hollyhock.  It’s new this year.  I hope it will grow as tall and wide as the plant tag claimed, because more of those red blooms would be gorgeous.

You can see the Backyard Security Officer in the last picture.  Rosie does a pretty good job keeping the riffraff out of the yard (that would be rabbits and squirrels).  She leaps over flower beds in a single bound to chase those intruders away.  It’s hilarious to watch.  Just the word “squirrel” sends her racing to the back door.  Don’t worry, the critters get plenty to eat when she’s not out.  I can tell by the empty bird feeders and the munched vegetation.

Right now it’s dark and the mosquitos are out in force, so I’ll just go root through some scrap fabric bins and see what happens in the sewing room.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Striped binding

Ta-dah!  Striped binding!  I have never used stripes for binding before, partly because I haven’t seen one that went with what I was working on, and partly because I thought joining stripes would be fussy.  I really don’t want the seams in the binding to jump out at anyone.

I found a bright green vertical stripe print that will be a nice accent to finish off a runner. After auditioning it, I decided diagonal stripes would have a bigger impact, which meant bias binding instead of straight grain binding.  All the tutorials I found about matching stripes in binding were for straight grain binding, so in the end I just cut and joined some bias strips and hoped for the best.

Here’s what I found out.  Joining binding strips at a 45 degree angle reduces bulk in the finished binding.  Depending how I cut those 45 degree cuts at the ends of the strips, I got two different looks.

Cutting across the stripe on the ends of each strip

resulted in a seam that looks like this:

Cutting parallel to the stripe on the ends of each strip

 gave this result:

Guess what I preferred? (In case you aren’t sure: I chose option #2.)

Of course I figured this out after sewing strips together willy-nilly, with the angled ends of the strips in whichever orientation they ended up from cutting the bias strips from the rectangle of fabric.  I decided it was worth cutting out the seams that didn’t match up and recutting the strip ends parallel to the stripe.

Trim tip
If you’re wondering why the tips of the angled cuts are cut off, here’s what’s going on with that. I used my corner trimmer to trim the tips to avoid guessing whether my strips were offset correctly to sew to end up with a straight joined strips.

Guessing where to line up
Trimmed tips line up with edges perfectly

The trimmed tips just help me line everything up just right.

Now that I have the binding made, and the backing prepared, there’s nothing left to do but quilt the runner.  I’ve been putting it off because I’m not entirely sure what to quilt, but there’s a deadline approaching. Tomorrow I’ll just have to get started and hope that inspiration strikes by the time I have finished all the stitching in the ditch!

Unrelated to quilting:  Can anyone recommend a blog editor that I can use to write my posts offline, then upload them to Blogger?  I used Live Writer, which let me format things the way I wanted, but it has recently stopped getting along with Blogger.  The built-in Blogger editor is driving me batty!  I suppose I'll get used to it, but if you can suggest anything else, I'd be grateful!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Second guessing

I made the first block for this quilt as a sample, just to see what it might look like.  I liked the design and I liked the colours and liked the prints so I decided to work it up into a quilt.  I drew it in EQ first and played around with colours and layouts, so I’d know exactly what I was planning.

When I made another block, I thought it might look too bland to have the whole background the same, so I headed off to the quilt shop for more yellows.  Then I looked at it all again and decided the yellows were awfully bright so I went back to the store for a more subdued yellow to toss into the mix to maybe calm things down.


I just finished making the blocks and now that they are all up on the wall I think I should have had more of that calmer yellow.  Or maybe all the same background after all.  And I wish I had reversed the fabric for the small and large stars.  I considered that choice very carefully at the beginning and thought I had gotten it right, but while it was just right for a single block, I think it would be better the other way around in the whole quilt.

I think this needs a border in the same grey as the sashing, but of course that isn’t what I had originally planned so I don’t have enough of that fabric!  There’s another trip to the quilt shop in the near future.  I hope there is still some of that grey left!

Cubby stars

I’m buying extra this time because I may end up setting this on point for a long twin size quilt.  That will require some pieced setting triangles.  Again, this is not what I had planned!


I can see what I want it to look like in my mind’s eye, I just need to get it there in reality.  There might be a version 2 of this quilt down the road to get it right!

Monday, May 18, 2015

I didn’t go to Spring Market…

…but my quilt did!  Here’s Wandering Geese in the Brewer’s booth at Spring Quilt Market this past weekend.  Thank you to Kelly from my local quilt shop, Quilting Connection, for snapping the pictures with her cell phone.

Wandering Geese at Spring 2015 Quiltmarket take 2

Wandering Geese at Spring 2015 Quiltmarket

There’s the quilt, and if you look closely you can see the pattern.  Brewer Quilting and Sewing Supply is currently distributing all eight Canuck Quilter Designs patterns that I have available for sale in printed form!  Yay!  Tell your favourite quilt shop!

I’m a bit sad I didn’t get to market myself, but getting a quilt there is putting a spring in my step.  Time to go sew something new!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Too many points


I still can’t show you what I’m working on, but here’s a pile of detritus from that project. You may not believe it after my paper-pieced snowflake obsession last fall, and the little bits of paper you see mixed in with the fabric trimmings in this picture, but paper piecing really is not my favourite piecing technique.  It is sometimes, however, just what’s needed to achieve a particular result.  So I have been paper-piecing and pinning and pinning and pinning to match too many a lot of points.  Please, no.more.pinning!  I don’t like pinning much more than paper piecing!

So why am I doing both?  Because I am just so pleased with what I see at the end of it all.  This is a set of several items, and near the end of each I ask myself what I was thinking to commit to making several of these. OK, I complain.  Loudly.  Then put in the last seam and I just love what I see, decide it was so worth it, and start the next one.

Just now, however, I am in the “please, no more pinning stage” so I’m taking a break and working on the binding for a donation quilt.


I’m afraid this simple quilt has been waiting awhile. Two other ladies and I started making blocks at a sewing day last November.  I sewed half the blocks into a baby quilt at a sewing day in January, quilted it at the February get-together and started attaching the binding at April’s event, at which time my sewing machine went wonky (it’s all better now, yay!).  I’m not sure when we’re meeting again so I’m just going to get this done and donated now.  The rest of the blocks will get put together eventually as well.

I’m off to bind, and then to pin more points!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Quilting Buddy

Here we are, heading into the last week of April, and I haven’t blogged at all yet this month!  What can I say, it’s been a busy month with various family events and non-quilting tasks.  Most of my limited quilting time was taken up making things I can’t share yet. Here’s all I can show you of that sewing:


I thought I would get some things done that I could share, but my sewing machine started misbehaving again, sewing very fast all by itself after I released the foot pedal.  The machine spent time at the shop, where of course it behaved quite beautifully, making it difficult for the technician to pinpoint the problem and confirm that it was fixed.  I had taken a video when it misbehaved at home so at least they could see what was happening. Anyway, no sewing happened while the machine was at the shop, and none again after it came home and misbehaved again.  When I went back to the shop again I was loaned a machine to use while they overhaul my machine’s insides, but now I’m catching up on the secret sewing that didn’t get done so there are still no new projects to share here.

I can share progress on an old project though.  Hand quilting stalled for a while, but I have made progress again in the last two weeks.  Here’s the progress chart for my son’s quilt.


I have a buddy cheering me on now, so maybe I’ll get faster.


I’m not so sure about Rosie’s other favourite spot though. Maybe she’s part cat. The paw on my back was rather distracting so I’m discouraging this particular habit!


I’m off for a bit of quiet sewing on this quilt now.  I missed my original goal of finishing by mid-April. How about June?

Linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy’s Quilts