Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sewing and sewing and sewing...

I am hopelessly far behind in keeping up with your blogs, and also behind in replying to comments on my blog.  I will answer soon, I promise!  Friday is booked for catching up.

Why Friday?  Because that's the day after my trunk show at the Quilting Connection quilt shop here in Ames, Iowa.  Until that's over, I'm staying away from the computer (Except for this brief update) and sewing and sewing and sewing because I said I'd have sample quilts for all my patterns, and some in multiple colorways.  Oops.  I gave some of those away!

Jelly Bean Stars in ISU Cyclones fabrics
So, I have a new sample of Jelly Bean Stars (but I changed it up, so maybe the pattern needs a re-write?).  It was supposed to be a sample of the Stretch runner, but the scale of the prints in those ISU fabrics was too large.  We live in the heart of ISU Cyclone country so I really wanted to use those fabrics, and what do you know, I didn't have a Jelly Bean Stars sample so that's where I used the fabric.

Starlight Wishes revisited

Then there's the sample of Starlight Wishes that I bought fabric for 3 years ago but didn't get around to until now.  Of course, because I bought the fabric 3 years ago and wouldn't be able to get more, I decided to make the quilt larger.

Remake of Wandering Geese in Moda Grunge fabric

Let's not forget Wandering Geese.  I didn't give away Wandering Geese, but that whole collection of Moda Grunge in rainbow colors that came into the shop just begged me to sew them up, and how could I say no?

These are all just tops right now.  I'll share pictures of the full tops (and maybe quilted quilts) soon.  I'll also reveal my latest pattern. I am very excited that the pattern and the quilt are making their debut Thursday evening at the trunk show!  Come by on Thursday evening if you're in the area.  (More details here.)  I'd love to meet you!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Cuddle applique and pondering quilt size

When I saw a sample of Robinson Pattern Company's "The Midnight Wolf" baby quilt, I knew it would be perfect for a baby baby quilt I need to make by mid-August.  The family has a big fluffy white Samoyed dog, and I decided I could turn the wolf into a Samoyed by using white and cream instead of grey and white.

Midnight Wolf applique pattern on Building Blocks pattern background

Isn't he cute?  The background in the original pattern is just a single length of fabric, but I wanted more color than that. I don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, and I don't know the parents well enough to know if they feel strongly about colors being gender-specific, so I was stuck for a little while.  I thought about green and orange, and maybe a little yellow, but didn't know exactly how to pull it all together. 

Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a little mini-vacation to Decorah, Iowa, and stopped at Red-Roxy Quilt Company.  Didn't they just happen to have a baby quilt made up in just those colors?  Hubby agreed it would make a great backdrop for the white dog, so I bought the pattern, Building Blocks by MacKay Manor Musers. I didn't want to make it as a quilt as you go pattern as written, and it isn't complicated to draft, but I didn't come up with the layout on my own either so I paid for the pattern.  I think the designers deserve that as they did come up with what I thought was perfect for my purpose when I couldn't come up with something suitable out of thin air myself.

Piecing a crib size quilt took very little time with these lovely big chunks of fabric.  Two evenings and voilà!

Here it is before I added sashing

Next up was the applique. This was my first time using Shannon Cuddle for applique. It is similar to minky, but a different brand and only stretches in one direction.  I wasn't sure using an iron on Cuddle was a good idea.  I wasn't confident that the heat required to fuse fusible web wouldn't melt the fibers.  It might have been fine, but I got around the worry by using a temporary adhesive designed to temporarily stick pattern pieces to fabric (202 Spray).  After I cut the shapes from the fabric, I removed the pattern pieces and sprayed the back of the applique pieces with basting spray (505 Spray) to keep them in place on the background while I sewed the pieces to the background.

While I was positioning the pieces for applique, the head ended up tilted a bit compared to the original layout in the Midnight Wolf pattern.  I thought that cocked head looked friendlier and more playful, so I left it that way.

Wolf-turned dog with straight head and cocked head

With the fuzzy edges of the cuddle I found it a little tricky to figure out exactly where the edge of my applique pieces were to get my zigzag stitches positioned properly as I sewed, but everything came out well enough.  Just a note about the white cuddle:  though it is nice and plush, you can still see colors show through!  I had to add a muslin backing to my white applique pieces to mask the colored blocks behind the dog.

So, the dog is sewn to the background, and now it occurs to me that this quilt is a bit too big for a baby quilt!  I want to add thin borders to match the sashing, so the finished size would be 47" x 62".  I think I might take off the top row of blocks and make the quilt 47" square.  Or not.  I do like a larger baby quilt to give lots of room for baby's tummy time and so the baby can keep using it into the toddler years.  But 62" is perhaps too much...I think I need to sleep on it and reconsider in the morning.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Blue Butterfly blocks

Yes, blocks, plural.  I have more blue scraps than any other colour so they're getting two whole blocks for the July installment of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

I'm challenging myself to make each butterfly different and to use only my smaller scraps.  Every month is getting a bit more difficult.  I almost gave up on the bright blue one after putting the 60 degree triangles together.  I couldn't figure out how I wanted the set of triangles to sit in the wing. Just as I started packing up the blue scraps, inspiration struck.

 This doesn't look like much but it did the trick.  I outlined the wing shape on my ruler with tape so I could see what the wing would look like once the corner triangles were added.  I added fabric to my triangle unit until it was more than large enough to make a wing base, then used this outline to audition the angle.  This loaded sideways, but you get the idea.

Voilà! One fussy cut wing base!

 And a complete butterfly.  I think it's my favourite so far.

What do you call a group of butterflies? I found references to kaleidoscope, flight, flutter and swarm...  I rather like flutter, so here's my flutter so far.

I'm linking up with ScrapHappy Saturday at SoScrappy and checking out dozens of other quilters' RSC sewing!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sneak peek

Here's a little sneak peek at what I've been working on this week.  Well actually, what you're seeing here has been made for a while, but the related pattern writing has taken a good chunk of the past week.

Now I need pattern testers!  This quilt is a bit modern, involves simple piecing and some simple applique, and measures 55" x 62".  I need volunteers to follow the pattern to make the top then give me feedback about the clarity and accuracy of the pattern.  Testing just a block and/or the applique part would also be helpful.

If you are interested in being one of the first to make this one (in time for the eclipse in August!) let me know and I'll send you a peek of the whole quilt to help you decide.  Thanks for thinking about it!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Bird Watching Quilt

Now that the quilt has reached its destination and the recipient has seen it, I can share pictures of the finished bird watching quilt.

I decided not to add borders to this quilt.  I wanted the bird panels and the accent floral and green fabrics to float on the background, and print borders seemed to interfere with that goal.  Still, I wanted a frame of some sort, so I decided to use the quilting to create a framing border that didn't interrupt the blue background.

All the quilting was done with my trusty walking foot.  I did start some free motioned hooked swirls in the center, but while it looked good on a small section, it was too busy for my taste and seemed to overwhelm the design and the bird print when spread over a larger area.  Plus it really didn't go well with my quilted border. 

Yes, I quilted this backwards, quilting the borders before the center.  I just wanted to see if my border quilting idea would look good, and I got carried away and quilted it all.  I liked it, so it had to stay and I had to work from there to figure out the rest of the quilting.  After a lot of staring at the quilt, walking away and coming back to stare again, I decided that for this quilt, simpler was better and I settled on simple straight lines on the diagonal.  All the dressy stuff is in the border.

I still wanted more floral than what made it into the top, so that went in the binding and on the back.  As I mentioned a few posts ago, I miscalculated the fabric required for the backing, so I incorporated the leftovers from the front (the blue and the floral with blue background) as a strip down the middle to make up width.  That was a happy accident.  I love how it turned out.  It's so much more interesting than an expanse of a single floral fabric.

After a final Rosie test and approval, I boxed up the quilt and sent it off to New Brunswick.

Now on to the next project.  I have a few simmering away, but the Wandering Geese remake in Moda Grunge fabric is what's on the design wall right now.  I hope to have a finished top to share by the end of the week!

There's a solar eclipse themed pattern coming up soon as well.  I'll post a bit more about that soon as well, and ask for testing help.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy Canada Day! and a linky party

Happy 150 years Canada!

I put the last stitches in yesterday with just a few hours to spare!

Each white leaf is labelled with a province or territory.  I had planned to include the date each joined Confederation, but they would have been too small to be legible.

Thank you to all who commented on my last post and talked me off the ledge, so to speak.  I put down the seam ripper and left the 150 and dates the way they were, and that was the right thing to do!

Rosie approves!

Now, please link up below to share  your own Canada-themed projects, finished or in progress, this pattern or any other!  If you don't have a blog to link up but you're on Facebook, add your picture to the comments on the Canada Day post on my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CanuckQuilterDesigns/)  If Instagram is your things, post with the hashtag #CanadaQuiltParty.

PS: Today is your last opportunity to download this pattern for free at www.payhip.com/CanuckQuilterDesigns.  Starting tomorrow, it will be available for purchase.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Canada Day is coming up fast

There are only 6 days left before Canada Day on July 1st!  My plan was to get my sesquicentennial quilt finished by then.  Guess what I have been focusing on this week? I am making progress, but I predict some late night hand sewing to get the binding stitched down on Friday night!

Here's what I have done so far.


I stitched in the ditch around the large leaf, the sides of the leaf strips, and the border. Next I quilted concentric circles in the background.  If you're curious about how I kept the circle consistent where it ducks under the leaf and where it pops up again, I used the same technique as when I quilted my red and green Sparkling Trail.  I described my method in a post here.

Next I quilted "150" and "1867-2017" in the large leaf. I printed the text out in the font and size I wanted, traced it onto tissue paper, pinned the paper to the quilt, quilted the outline through the paper then tore away the paper.

I'm still not sure about this.  It didn't photograph well, and the dates are a bit more visible than the photo suggests. I used a matching thread because I wanted things to be subtle, and because I lacked confidence in my free motion skills.  Matching thread is very forgiving of wobbles and uneven stitch length.   My stitching looks good in just the right light, but at other angles it disappears altogether, so I may go back and stitch it again in contrasting thread.  Then again, I did want subtle!  Maybe I should have used a larger font...The scale seems a little off, but I really don't want to pick out all the straight line stitching I did next!

I still need to quilt something around and/or in all the cream colored leaves and in the border.  At that point I may reassess the large leaf.  As I look at these pictures, I am becoming more convinced that I need to make the 150 and the dates larger...

Perhaps the best course of action is to finish as I have started, bind the quilt, enjoy Canada Day and reassess later!

I still plan to have a linky party for Canada Day so you can all link up any Canada Day related projects.  If you don't have a blog, send me a picture, or links to other social media where you are sharing and I can add those to the July 1st post.

Finally, if you want this "150" pattern, please note that it is available free through July 1st at www.payhip.com/CanuckQuilterDesigns.  After that date it will be available for purchase, on the same site.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Quilt backs

When customers come into the shop and ask me how much fabric they need for their quilt back, my first question is whether the dimensions they are giving me are the size of the quilt top or the desired size of the top.  Usually it's the top and I ask how much extra they or their longarm quilter likes to add to each side on the back.  I do my math from there. Did I do this for my own quilt?  Of course not! Grumble.

I can't believe I used the quilt top dimensions and forgot to add extra.  That's why I was slow getting the bird quilt quilted.  I was put out with myself and the quilt, as though it was the quilt's fault!  However, it's also why I have this pretty pieced back, which a friend thought I had planned on purpose as an added element.  I should have let her think so!

I really like the way it turned out and it started me thinking about other quilts I have made that ended up with pieced backs.  There are not many and all but one got their extra decorative touch because I goofed.

First up, Don't Panic.  I bought the fabric for the backing when I bought the fabric for the top, but I changed my plan in the end and ended up with a larger quilt.  I inserted strips of scraps from the top to make up the difference.

Next is Love's Quilt.  This is the only one that had a pieced back on purpose.  It was a group effort for a blogging friend.  I received extra blocks that I wanted to include, so I planned the back around those.  It's like a whole other quilt.

My first Canada Quilt also suffered from buying the backing before the top was finished.  I don't have a picture of the finished back, and it isn't easy to photograph right now, so I'll just share this picture of the top and extra blocks on the design wall.  The column of blocks on the right became a strip down the back of the quilt, tucked between lengths of the intended backing fabric.

I do like the way it turned out, though I didn't enjoy hand quilting areas with extra thickness from the extra seams on the back.  This, of course, is why I added extra seams to the next quilt I hand quilted!  The back does not match the front of the Kaleidoscope quilt at all, but I hadn't bought enough black for the back.  My son likes hockey and I had some hockey puck fabric and plain red and blue for lines...

Tonight, I took out the fabric for the back of my Canada 150 quilt.  Guess what?  I did it again.  Time to start planning what to insert into this back to bring it up to size.  Time's ticking - Canada Day is July 1st!

Tell me about your pieced backs.  Do you make them that way on purpose as a decorative element?  Do youpiece backs to use up leftover fabric?  Do you only make them when you've shorted yourself on backing fabric?  Or do you avoid them like the plague and take care to do your math right every time?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Butterfly garden

May was busy with multiple end of year concerts for both kids (choir, band, band and choir combined, another choir performance...), high school graduation party and actual graduation ceremony on different weekends, a lovely visit with my parents, and trying to get the garden into shape for summer after a very wet and cold spring.  It didn't leave much time and dare I say it, energy, for quilting.  

I eased myself back into the sewing room on a rainy day last weekend by catching up on my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks. The green one for May was not made in May, but it's done!

Green RSC butterfly block (May)

In the middle of the week I tackled a quilt backing that should have been quick to make but wasn't. and I'll write about that whole debacle another time. Today I made the yellow one for June and the creative juices are starting to flow again.  Yay!

Yellow RS butterfly block (June)

Thanks to Sandra of mmm!quilts for the inspiration for the photo shoot.  I was feeling rather blah about my blocks shot on the design wall when I saw her recent Instagram post of three quilt blocks draped over a flowering basket.  It's a gorgeous day outside, the garden is looking half decent, though not quite in full bloom yet, and I had a helper available to stand just so as needed to shade the blocks so the sun wouldn't wash them out.  That poor little yellow butterfly isn't washed out by the sun.  It turned out most of my yellow scraps were rather soft yellows.  I may make another before I put the quilt together at the end of the year.  I'll wait and see how everything looks together.

While I was at it, I snapped new pictures of the previous blocks too.

Red RSC butterfly block (March)

Those tipsy pots are just starting to fill up a bit.  I'll have to take another butterfly picture once those impatiens grow more and fill the pots with white blooms.

Aqua RSC butterfly block (February)
Purple RSC butterfly block (January)

Now that I've been playing with color again, I have lots of ideas percolating. However, the bird quilt and the Canada quilt both need to be quilted first.  It will be very hot this weekend, so maybe I'll hunker down in the cool sewing room and make progress on those.  I really want to get to those other ideas!  There is a Grunge rainbow and some Tula Pink in my sewing future (though not together!)

Now I'll leave you with one last picture, because 1) I'm a proud mom and 2) he asked if I have bragged yet.  Here's my bragging:  he has graduated, heads off to university in the fall with a scholarship, just started his first paying job, earned his Eagle Scout rank...My baby's all grown up!  Beam!

Linking up with
Scrap Happy Saturday at So Scrappy

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Just a little later than planned - the bird watching quilt

I really did mean to post over a week ago, but technical issues got in the way.  I know it sounds like the modern version of "the dog ate my homework", but I really did have tech problems! I sat down to download the required pictures and couldn't find the necessary cable.  The likely culprit in the disappearance was not home, then I forgot multiple times to interrogate the likely culprit when he was home.  I finally remembered to ask if he had seen it, he returned it, and the internet promptly went down. By the time that was resolved, I was busy in the garden trying to divide plants before the heat hit, then baking for the culprit's high school graduation party coming up this Saturday.

So now, without further babbling, here's what I said I would post over a week ago.

I have struggled with this quilt and I am still not sure I got it right. A customer came in to the shop where I work with a pretty quilt that used these soft bird panels and the floral.  On impulse decided to make one too. I bought the same fabrics and rushed to start...and couldn't remember the details.  That's OK, I thought I'd just use the general idea as a starting point and run with it.

I don't mind this picture at all, but I hated it on my wall in real life.  The floral wasn't popping as much as imagined, and the whole thing looked very dense and busy.  How about more floral in the borders?

I rather liked this, so I went ahead and finished piecing the center of the quilt. Then I looked at it and felt it looked too much like a checkerboard of birds.  I also couldn't decide what fabric I should use for an inner border before the floral.  Looking at this picture now, I think I could have just used the floral as the inner border.

However, I didn't see that then, and  I decided to extend the diagonal lines of green rectangles into the border to distract from the checkerboard effect.

This still looked very busy to me and adding a floral border just added to the crowded look so the floral border had to go.  In the end I just added a wide blue border to float the whole center on a blue background.

Now I need to decide how to quilt and bind it.  I still want more floral, so maybe I'll use it for the binding.  As for the quilting...I know what I don't want better than I know what I do want!  I do not want to trace those birds in free-motion quilting! An all-over loose swirl design might look good, but I'm going to have to overcome a mental block about quiting willy-nilly over those birds!  Also, I think I still want the borders to be distinct from the center somehow, while still floating the center.  My mind's eye really doesn't ask for much!

Sometime this week I will baste this and hope I have a plan by then.  Tonight, I'm going to step away from this one and play with sunflower fabric.  The kitchen table needs new placemats!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

It's not really for the dog...

After finishing the pattern for the Canada 150 quilt (you can still download it free here)  I had a stretch of extra workdays at the shop, a miserable cold and a complete lack of quilting drive.  Last week I finally perked up a bit so I have something to share again.

The Rainbow Scrap Challenge color this month was "multi-color", fabrics that don't read even mostly as a single color.  I skipped my butterfly for the month and dug through the scrap bins to make this instead.  I think the setting triangles and the centers of the squares qualify as multicolor.

I made this to live here:

The point of it is this:

Believe me, this looks so much better than the ratty old towel we used to have there to protect the chair from dog hair and prints!  Well, the dog looked equally cute, but the ratty towel...not so much!    So, there we have it:  it looks like a quilt for the dog (and didn't that earn me a few horrified looks from a couple of ladies at the quilt guild who overheard me talking with another pet lover) but it technically is for the chair!  And as far as protecting the chair by keeping the dog off the chair...Sigh. We're marshmallows and that ship sailed about 3 days after Rosie moved in 2 years ago.

It wasn't on the list of things I should be working on, but it was quick and easy, just what I needed to draw me into my sewing corner again.  Now I'm playing with these pretties, also not on my list! (I think I need to move away from "should" in the sewing room so it continues to be a happy place.)

This isn't my usual fare of bright colors but I really like the soft quilt taking shape.  I'll share more next week.

Linking up with
DrEAMI at Musings of a Menopausal Melon

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Canada 150 Quilt: It's your turn!

Here it is!  My Canada 150th quilt design is now a top!  Dancing a happy jig over here!

Canada 150 quilt top - 58.5" x 69.5"

There's a pattern too!
"150" by Canuck Quilter Designs pattern cover

I'm sure you noticed there isn't a finished quilt on the cover.  Generally speaking, I don't like EQ drawings as pattern covers.  I like to see a finished quilt that proves it's doable and looks decent in actual fabric.  However, I know some folks want to get started on this to have a quilt to show off on Canada Day in July, so I focused on the pattern writing before the quilting.  I figure those folks can see the flimsy here for proof that it's doable! As soon as I have the top quilted, I'll have a photo shoot for the pattern cover quilt and fix that cover.

You see that thin little maple leaf border?  I bought a ridiculous amount of border print to get that stripe of maple leaves.  I needed a length of fabric equal to the length of the quilt, so I bought 1 3/4 yards.  That thin little border isn't very wide.  After cutting four strips of maple leaves and discarding the print in between the strips that I didn't need for this, I still have 36" of width left! Still, I love the look.  The splurge was totally worth it!  I'll find some other celebratory project to use up the rest.

Still, if that splurge is not in your budget, you can substitute another fabric, such as polka dots, small stripes or a solid,  and get by with 1/8 yard (1/4 yard as stated in the pattern if you prefer wiggle room in your cutting).  Or, you can find quilty friends who might want to split that border strip yardage lengthwise with you!  You can get 5 quilts' worth of that thin border from the 1 3/4 yards.

Here's a list of the Northcott Sesquicentennial Collection fabric I used for my quilt:
  • Newsprint print (21359-11)
  • Red texture (21341-24)
  • Off-white (21341-11)
  • White-on-red leaf print (21361-24)
  • Border print (21362-11)
  • Backing will be the Canadian trivia print: 21360-11) 

In a previous post I offered to suggest a sewing schedule, so here it is. It really doesn't take long to put this quilt together, but I'm spreading this schedule out over 8 weeks to help folks fit it into small chunks of time here and there and still get a finish by Canada Day.

Week 1 - Cut fabric
Week 2 - Assemble large leaf 
Week 3 - Construct short leaf tip units for small leaf blocks
Week 4 - Piece long leaf tip units for small leaf blocks (super simple unit to paper piece,  just 3 pieces - I'll post a tutorial if you ask for one)
Week 5 - Piece the small leaf blocks' stem units
Week 6 - Assemble small leaf blocks from units made in weeks 3-5
Week 7 - Assemble all parts into quilt center
Week 8 - Add borders

If you start this week, you can be done by the first week in June and have 4 weeks lft for the quilting and binding.  Easy peasy!

In celebration of Canada's 150th birthday this year, I'm offering the pattern free for a limited time in my Payhip shop.  Get yours now and get started!  I'll have a linky party on July 1st to share finished quilts, flimsies, or any progress at all on this quilt or any Canada related sewing.

Linking up with
Celebrate - Fêtons 150 at Quilting and Learning 
Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
Let's Bee Social at  Sew Fresh Quilts