Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last finish of 2016!

Presenting Sparkling Trail, purple batik version!  I finished it with 7 hours to spare to call it a 2016 finish.  I made the quilt top in fall 2015, planning to finish it by New Year's,  and I really didn't want to tick over into 2017 with it unfinished again!

I struggled with how to quilt this.  I ripped out quilting, let it sit again, had someone else baste it for me in an attempt to move it forward (because I was highly unmotivated to baste it again - basting once per quilt is plenty, than you very much) and then let it sit a bit more while I waited for it to start talking.  It was quiet for an awfully long time but it finally started talking the day after Christmas.  Guess what I've been doing most of the week?

You're going to laugh.  I told my coworkers it was going to be simple, quick, light straight line stitching just to get it done.  That really was the plan until the quilt found its voice.  Maybe it considered that a threat and decided it should start expressing an opinion...

So as I was ditch stitching and outline stitching in the stars,  I planned to quilt a simple straight line echo of the "trail" in the background.  However, by the time I finished that, the quilt was suggesting that lines in a different direction behind the stars would really set off the planned echo.  That seemed a fair idea, so I quilted all those horizontal lines 1" apart behind the stars.  May I say that's where the "quick" part of my plan went out the door?

By the time I finished the straight line background, the quilt was suggesting perhaps it needed more curves to balance out all the sharp angles.  Swirls, perhaps.  I was a bit worried about that, since swirls is what I hated and ripped out the first time around.  Still, I chose a looser, hooked swirl (thank you Angela Walters, for the wonderful instructions in your books) and tried it on a small patch.  This fit the quilt much better than my first attempt almost a year ago, so I went ahead and filled in the remaining background with hooked swirls.

Once that was done, the stars looked too puffy.  They needed something to even out the quilting density betwen them and the background.  I leafed through Angela Walter's Shape-by-Shape book and settled on this hooked swirl/apostrophe thing.  She just called it "Diamond 8", and hers are much more curvy than mine, but I didn't do too badly.  The last few were definitely nicer than the first few I quilted!

The border at least was very quick to quilt.  I chose the "Boomerang" design from Melissa Marginet's book "Walking Foot Quilting Designs".  This lovely little book found its way under my Christmas tree and I was happy to put it to good use so soon.

I wish the picture of the full quilt showed the quilting better.  I might have to try again some morning to catch morning light.  In the meantime, this will do.  Either way, I can call the quilt done.

Except, oops, I forgot the label..

Linking up to Linky Tuesday on January 10th because I missed last week's!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tic Tac Who? pattern release!

Here it is! Tic Tac Who? is a pattern!
My Tic Tac Who pattern is now available for sale in my Payhip and Craftsy shops, and will be available to quilt shops through distributors sometime in January. 

The simple X blocks and plain squares are a perfect balance for the more involved focus blocks.  The focus blocks add just a touch of challenge, but don't require cutting any triangles or any paper piecing.  You can see versions with all three blocks in past posts:  duck, puppy and owl.

I owe a huge thank you to my wonderful testers, who volunteered to make blocks or a full quilt and offered lots of useful feedback.  I hope you will click through to view their versions on their blogs or Instagram.  I love seeing the designs come alive in different fabric choices!

Janet Olsen- Rogue Quilter
Andrée Faubert- Quilting and Learning
Lissa La Greca - Lovingly Lissa
 Marlene Scobbie - Cats and Capers

Sherill Pecere, Lorna Comeau and Elaine Williamson also tested for me.  Though I don't have links, I want you to see their work as well.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

Tree trimmed (including 2016's new ornament, made just under the wire last night)

Rudolph quilt deployed.

Cookies decorated (family effort)

Ragoût de poulet simmering. 

Tourtière ready to heat up. 

Table set. 

Dog watching for Santa (gotta watch those pesky reindeer!) 

We're ready for réveillon!
 (That's the French Canadian side of the family Christmas traditions.)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, from my family to yours!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

This and That

It has been a busy few weeks and though I emailed the winners of my giveaway I didn't get a blog post up recognizing them as I had planned.  Let me correct that oversight now.

Vicki of Vicki's Crafts and Quilting won a copy of Wandering Geese
Karen of KaHolly won a copy of Autumn Moons
Ariane of Ariane Quilts won a copy of Snow Dreams
Elively won a copy of Quilter's Scrapbook

So, what have I been up to?  There has been baking.  Here's the fruitcake fruit mixture bubbling on the stove, defying gravity, apparently.  Gotta love those sideways loading pictures.

I tried not making fruitcake last year and there were sad faces.  Yes, some people do like fruitcake!  Or maybe just this particular recipe.  In any case, those family members that requested it are getting some in their Christmas parcels this year.  My brother gets cookies too - though if I don't get them packaged and mailed soon there won't be any left to send in time for Christmas arrival!

There has been a bit of sewing.  I'm late to the party but I am finally making some of the microwaveable bowl cozies that became very popular a few years ago.  

My daughter tried the first one out in the microwave to heat up her lunch today, and it worked like a charm.  If you do make some, remember to use only 100% cotton materials, and only use them to reheat foods for a short amount of time.  Cotton will heat up in the microwave, and it will ignite if you leave it in long enough to get hot enough.  Heating up a bowl of soup or leftovers for a couple of minutes seems to work fine - but as with all cooking, don't leave it unattended!

There has also been work at the quilt shop, tweaking my Tic Tac Who? pattern to address suggestions by my kind, capable and very appreciated pattern testers, pondering a Block of the Month program using my snowflake blocks (stay tuned!)...and other stuff but I won't bore you with a whole list!  Just busy.

In between things, I have been working away cutting all the pieces for my daughter's Chic Country quilt.  It's slow going.  I got most of the squares and rectangles cut out, then decided to tweak things just a bit so needed to figure out how that affected my part counts.  I got that sorted out and moved on to cutting the curved pieces out of all the squares and rectangles. I think I'm about half done.

I'm hoping she won't have moved on to new favourite colours before this quilt is finished.  We picked out these fabrics last February!  Did I mention I plan to make this my next hand quilting project?  There is probably at least a year's worth of work still to go...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

SewPro Stars Blog Hop

Today is my stop on the SewPro Stars blog hop! Welcome! 

Thank you to Andi and Jessica for organising the hop to keep the momentum from SewPro going. They have also assembled a giveaway prize package, so be sure to read to the end to participate in that, as well as a Canuck Quilter Designs pattern giveaway.

Just when I was feeling really negative about the business side of my pattern design business late last spring, I stumbled across a reference to SewPro.  The convention website promised presentations on various issues I had been struggling with.  It's like the internet read my mind and threw that across my path.  Off I went for a few days in September. I met inspiring, creative people and soaked up lots of advice and information from industry rock stars. Do Pat Sloan and Tula Pink ring any bells? Then I came home and tried to digest all I had learned and figure out what I am going to do with it all.

Here's the quilting that came out of all that.  It represents the equilibrium I'm striving for.  This quilt now lives on the wall in my work space to remind me to work on all the pieces, not just the fun bits.

This little quilt has a lot to say, starting with the colors. The schedule at SewPro was color coded to let us know which path a particular session would be most useful for: pink for pattern design, green for fabric design, blue for publishing, yellow for blogging and social media.  Grey sessions were relevant to all four paths.

If you have followed this blog, you know me.  I love color! I couldn't stick to just one color.  I hopped all over that color-coded schedule. It became pretty clear to me that the pattern designing I enjoy needs to lean heavily on blogging and social media and publishing, and yes, fabric lines, for their marketing. No marketing means no pattern line.  All of these pieces need to work together which is why my little squares are all leaning against each other, holding each other up.

I'm still processing all the information I brought home.  I'm figuring out what I can realistically accomplish in the time I can devote to my business.  I'm deciding which pieces feel true to who I am and how I work (thank you Tula Pink for that little gem I took away from your vastly entertaining keynote). I'm confident I'll eventually find balance.  From comparing experiences with other attendees, I've realized I have already come a long way from the first free pattern I offered up 4 years ago and that there isn't a single path to success, or even a single definition of success. Though I was leaning towards closing up shop last spring, I have gotten a second wind and I'll keep taking little steps to keep building up Canuck Quilter Designs.

And (thank you Pat Sloan) I'm going to try to work smarter, not harder, starting with this blog hop!  I really wanted to offer a tutorial for new and returning visitors to this blog, but I just wasn't able to put one together without giving up on sleep altogether.  But wait!  I have several tutorials available already!  I added prairie points to this quilt, just for you, to encourage you to check out all the tutorials I have available, starting with my series on using prairie points in your quilts.

Thanks for visiting.  Please pop over to visit more SewPro Stars this week.

Monday Nov 14
Sherri Noel -
Andi Stanfield -

Tuesday Nov 15
Pam Cobb & Lynn Rinehart -
Joanne Kerton -

Wednesday Nov 16
Carmen Ross -
Jessica Caldwell -
Pamela Morgan -

Thursday Nov 17
Maryanna Powell -
Lissa LaGreca -

Friday Nov 18
Becca Fenstermaker -
Trinia Braughton -


And now for the giveaways.  First, mine.  Do you think it' a coincidence that the last day of SewPro was the 4th anniversary of my very first pattern release?  I released the free pattern for my String of Diamonds placemats on September 18th, 2012.  To celebrate, I'm going to give away one Canuck Quilter Designs PDF pattern to each of four winners.  Here's how to enter:
  • Click on the PDF Patterns tab at the top of this page to go peruse the selection, then come back and tell me in a comment which one you would choose if you win.
  • For a second chance, tell me how you follow my blog.
  • For a third chance, share about this post on social media (FB, Instagram etc) and come back and tell me about it.
I'll use a random number generator to draw four numbers on November 22nd, and the corresponding numbered comments will win. Make sure I have a way to contact you.  If I can't email you if I draw your number, I'll draw a new number.  Also be sure to answer the question.  If I draw your number and I find you didn't tell me what pattern you would choose, I'll draw a new number.

The SewPro Stars giveaway is a bit more high-tech using the Rafflecopter entry below.  As I understand it, you have up to 23 entries to win fabric bundles and patterns, and the drawing will be on November 19th.   Have fun hopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trunk Full of Quilts 2016

Soma of Whims and Fancies is hosting a virtual trunk show.  She has invited us to share our favourite quilts in a new post and to go get inspired by other quilters' trunk shows.  Sounds like a fun community activity to me!  I'm in!

Trunk Full of Quilts 2016

However, I ran into trouble.  They're all my favourites!  I don't think I can fit them all in one post.  I tried to think of themes to narrow things down, but that didn't help much.  In the end, I passed the buck.  I asked my family to choose.  Keep in mind that I only gave them 5 minutes each to think of two or three.  Still, I figured whatever popped into their minds first is probably what made the biggest impression.  I'll list them in chronological order.

M's House Quilt - 2003

My son picked this house quilt.  It's the second quilt I ever made, all flannel and hand quilted in the ditch of every seam. This one is pre-blog and pre-digital camera.  The colors are actually all bright primary colors.  What shows up as black here is actually a deep bright green.  There is also bright orange,  red and royal blue, but you wouldn't know it from this picture! You wouldn't know it from the state the quilt is in now, either, because it has been well used and faded quite a bit.  But it was well loved and apparently I'm not allowed to ever dispose of it.

Wandering Geese - 2012

My daughter chose Wandering Geese.  She claimed this quilt before it was even quilted.  This was my 17th quilt and the first pattern I wrote up to sell, and the pattern still sells quite well.  The sales might slow a wee bit soon because though my daughter agreed to let it hang in the local quilt shop, she feels that after being there a little more than a year the quilt needs to come home.  The pattern will of course still be available online and from my distributors, and any quilt shops that want to carry it.  It's just that patterns sell so much better in shops with a sample on the wall!

Autumn Moons - 2013

Autumn Moons was my husband's first pick, which surprised me, but I can run with it!  I like this one too.  It was my 24th quilt and came from my first experience sewing curves.  I just started sewing drunkard's path blocks for practice, then figured I needed to do something with them.  The quilting was all done on my domestic machine with my trusty walking foot.  I released the pattern last fall.  This one is also hanging in the local quilt shop right now.  If you're passing through Ames, you can see it in person at the Quilting Connection.

Quilter's Scrapbook - 2013

Both my husband and daughter chose Quilter's Scrapbook, my 25th quilt. What can I say, it really brightens up the living room on a dreary winter's day! This quilt was my first foray into creating my own paper piecing foundations, because that seemed like the easiest way to make the X blocks for the sashing and cornerstones.  As I type this, another possible way just popped into my head.  I'll have to explore that later...

Canada Quilt - 2014

The Canada Quilt  (Quilt #26) got votes from my son and husband. My mother sent me fabric for this one, and it sat for quite a while while I pondered what the best use of it would be.  The idea went from graph paper to fabric over the course of a few months, then I hand quilted it over more than a year. You can go here to see closeups of the quilting.  This one is still hanging on the wall at home where I pass by it many times a day.

M's Kaleidoscope - 2016

Though my 34th finished quilt is dated 2016, the top was finished in 2014.  It just took me another year and a half to hand quilt it in fits and starts.  My son picked the colors for this one, and got final approval on the design.  The quilt lives on his bed and was his first pick as a favourite.  I'm planning to write a pattern for this soon.  What do you think - queen, twin and throw sizes?

Lucky Bugger - 2016

Finally, I had to include Lucky Bugger, made for my dad.  I've shown this, my 40th quilt, twice already this year, but it has all those lovely blues in it!  I said I couldn't pick a favourite, but all those pretty blues make this one rank pretty high.  My blue stash bin is twice as large as any other color's bin, so that tells you how I feels about blue.  Besides, an Ocean Waves quilt had been on my quilt bucket list for years and now I've made one, so that's a happy dance quilt!

That concludes my Trunk Full of Quilts show for this year.  I'm linking up at Whims and Fancies and heading over to take a peek in other quilters' trunks.

Online Quilt Trunk Show | Whims And Fancies

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Chic Country in progress

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While I ponder what to quilt on the purple Sparkling Trail, I think I will keep cutting fabric for my daughter's new quilt.


I'm making a larger version of Sew Kind of Wonderful's Chic Country, substituting my daughter's favourite very bright greens for the greys in the pattern's cover quilt.  I have all the first cuts made.  Now I need to cut the curves.  I think it will look fabulous in the end, but it's slow going.  Then there will be the sewing, then the quilting...She may get her quilt before she graduates from high school!

This quilt won't talk

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I finally finished picking out the quilting I had started on this Sparkling Trail quilt last January or February.  The quilt sat untouched for months until I acknowledged the fact that it wouldn't fix itself.  Now I'm back to pondering what to quilt.  I don't know about you, but I've had some quilts be very talkative, telling me exactly how they should be quilted.  This one is very, very quiet.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've seen this pattern a few times.  The first version was very heavily freemotion quilted.  The second was quilted in concentric circles with my walking foot.

I still haven't quilted the little mini versions (here and here).

I really need to get this purple one done. Though I had never used purple before, I love the colors in this quilt.  It needs to be finished and out on the living room couch to be used and appreciated.  So please, send me suggestions! With a few ideas to prod it, maybe this quilt will start talking to me properly!

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Spring Blooms on point setting

Someone asked in a comment on my Spring Blooms tutorial yesterday if it was OK to use a different fabric for the setting triangles if the the blocks are set on point as I did in my quilt.  My first reaction was "Of course!  It's your quilt, do what you want!".

I still feel that way, but after reflection, it occurred to me that the question was more about what it would look like.  If you're looking to reproduce exactly what I did, then no, you can't switch fabrics.  It will look different if you use different fabric for the setting triangles than you did for the block background.  Using the same fabric floats the blooms on the quilt.

However, if you're not looking to reproduce exactly what I made, have fun with it.  I fired up EQ7 and colored the triangles differently to give you an idea what things could look like.

I rather like it this way.  If I ever make this quilt again I think I'll choose different facbric for the setting triangles.  It's a little less modern, but I like the way the triangles bracket the center.  I also like the darker shade of the same color for the binding in the last two examples, to frame and contain everything.

So go ahead, play with color!  I'd love to see your finished quilts.  Please share!  Would it help if I started a Canuck Quilter facebook group?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tic Tac Hoot!

Tic Tac Hoot was the last Tic Tac Who? quilt I designed.  I had the other two finished when my daughter suggested an owl version.  I love owls!  I think it dates back to being a Brownie leader in Halifax in university.  My leader name was Sleepy Owl. It's a long story, but I promise I was wide awake and enthusiastic!

Tic Tac Hoot quilt by Canuck Quilter Designs
Tic Tac Hoot

Tic Tac Hoot turned out very well in the end, after a very slow start!  My first attempt at designing an owl yielded something that looked more like a bat, and definitely wasn't baby-cute.

Owl block looks like a bat
Imagine this guy in black and you've got a bat!
I tweaked a little and came up with something I thought would work so I stitched him up in fabric.

Oh, that beak! This looked more like an owl but something was off, so I tried again.

I was getting closer to a finish!  I popped him into the quilt layout on the design wall...

I really thought the green background and the darker sashing would work, but once it was on the wall, I couldn't bring myself to start sewing everything together. It stayed up on the wall a few days, and still I didn't want to sew it up, which was a pretty good sign that I wouldn't be happy with it this way.

I decided that the green background behind the owl was the problem. It didn't "float" the owl on the quilt and it interrupted the diagonal of floating blocks created by the X blocks.  Also, it doesn't seem so in the photo above, but the X blocks disappeared a bit on that darker background.  Back to the shop I went, to buy the fabric I had briefly considered for the sashing and discarded as too bland.  I also chose slightly lighter browns for the owl.

Tic Tac Hoot owl block by Canuck Quilter Designs
Final version of owl block

Much better!  The lighter sashing/background softened up the look.

Tic Tac Hoot by Canuck Quilter Designs
Tic Tac Hoot quilting 

Again, I quilted with my walking foot.  The owl is stitched in the ditch. For the rest of the quilt I started an all-over design, but didn't like how it played with the quilt as a whole.  Next I tried circles, then decided to do squares instead, then picked out the 7 squares I had finished and went back to circles!  Oh, and I found a spot where I had picked out a seam to fix some alignment then somehow missed re-sewing part of it.  Really?  I practiced a little bit of hand stitching to fix that little oops.

I think you get the idea that this quilt made me work a little harder than the other two!  It isn't a harder design.  I guess I was just due for a few quilting hiccups.

I was very happy to finally get the binding on.  That part went smoothly at least!  I love these little green dots, and the brown and leaf print for the backing.

Now all that's left to do is to finish the pattern!  Almost done. If all goes well, I'll be sending out to testers by the end of the week.