Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A tale of two fabrics

I started working on Lemoyne Star blocks in batiks last week.  Here's what I was hoping for:

This was not last week's attempt!  Last week's block turned out like this:

I think this looks like a hot mess.   I love this batik print, but it didn't work here at all!  One problem was that the dark background in the print and spots where the blue is deeper blend into my block background too much.  Another is that the scale of the print is too large for the pieces so the pretty gets cut up and lost, and I'm left with, well, this.

This was just too depressing to deal with last week.  What to do?  Start a new project, of course!  I worked on that the rest of the week and pieced a backing for it today.  It's all in bright, pretty leftovers from my recently finished Wandering Geese quilt, and the pieces and colours all played together just as they were supposed to.  I'll share more about that one later this week.  Anyway, working on that cheered me up considerably, so I had the courage to pull out the Lemoyne Stars again.

I bought a few brighter, smaller scale batiks to substitute for some of my previously selected batiks.  I still love the first selection, but they are going to have to find another project to play in (oh, the hardship!).  Tonight I made the lighter block above, and I think I can keep going on that track.  First I'll need to press my new selections that got forgotten in the dryer last night.

I think I will leave that for tomorrow evening.  Right now, as the weather had cooled off, I feel like an evening with a quilt pooled in my lap while I hand quilt it sounds appealing.  I have made woefully little progress quilting my daughter's Chic Country so I had better get to it while the mood strikes!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Wandering Geese, Take 2

Wandering Geese, Moda Grunge version, had its photo shoot at a local conservation area yesterday.  The weather was beautiful for a walk, but a little breezy for pictures!

 (I'm not sure how to embed video here, but if you want to see what I mean, you can see the video on Facebook here.)

We did manage to get a few pretty photos by ducking into the woods.

I love how the quilt is just floating here!  I'm surprised my husband's feet aren't showing, but I'll take it!

We gave up on the shot I wanted, of prairie and sky in the background. Laying it down on the ground on the prairie path was the closest we could get.

My husband indulged me, stepped off a path (after I checked for poison ivy), tripped on some vines and set up this quilt on a tree shot, hanging it off a large knot like a towel on towel hook.

This quilt was quilted entirely with my walking foot, using black Aurifil thread to stitch in the ditch around every patch and diagonal lines one inch apart in the background.  I toyed with stitching triangles of some sort in the piano key border, but realized as I was marking them that they would be too busy.  I opted for two sets of straight lines running perpendicular to the piano keys.  These lines, and a few extra ones in the large flying geese, are stitched with a variegated Sulky Blendables thread that picks up all the colors and seems to add a soft glow.  I couldn't get that to show up in my picture, but it worked really well.

This quilt will replace the original on the cover of the pattern.  I just need to take a few possible covers to the printer's and see which photo looks best in print.  The colors on my computer monitor and the printed page seldom agree!

In the meantime, I'm using up scraps from this quilt to make an updated version of Jelly Bean Stars in Moda Grunge as well.  Pictures of that will follow eventually, but for now I'll share one more picture from yesterday, just because I have about 50 of them to choose from (gotta love digital photography)!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Still tackling the list!

On September 1st I posted a quilty "to do" list, and I'm happy to say I ticked a few things off this month.

Star Fall, RSC Butterfly, Wandering Geese, Sparkling Trail, Samoyed Baby

  1. Quilt Cyclone baby quilt
  2. Quilt new Wandering Geese
  3. Add final border to and quilt new Starlight Wishes
  4. Quilt both mini Sparkling Trail quilts: 1930s version, black and red version
  5. Make a new RSC butterfly or two
  6. Finish hand stitching binding on Samoyed baby quilt
  7. Start brand new Lemoyne Star quilt (or two - I have fabric options to work out!)
  8. Start Anne of Green Gable quilts (two of them, one for me, one for daughter)
  9. Start a snowflake quilt - I've been thinking of all 26, and maybe a few new ones, all together in a single quilt...

I'll have a picture or two of the new Wandering Geese soon.  We're taking it for a walk in the park for glamour shots (or my attempt at them) tomorrow.  I wrote posts about the butterfly, Sparkling Trail and Samoyed earlier this month.

I made good progress on Star Fall, a new design.

Star Fall in Tula Pink

It still need background strips on either side, then I need to decide:  border or no borders?  My original idea was to skip borders and just bind in scrappy print leftovers.  Now I'm not sure.  It will have to simmer a little bit.

In the meantime, I've been working on figuring out the details of making these Lemoyne Stars without the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler.  As much as I loved using Deb Tucker's ruler to make the stars and the triangles, I fear a pattern requiring two specialty rulers might be challenging to sell.  I plan to include instructions for using the rulers, but also instructions without.

Today I worked on trimming details.

Paper trial

I had previously printed out templates from EQ7 to measure the pieces.  I then worked out how to measure to rotary cut the pieces without the templates.  What I needed next was help aligning the pieces, so I cut out paper pieces, drew in 1/4" seam allowances all around, and put pins through the seam intersections, matching the intersections of two pieces the way they would be when sewn. With the pins holding those matched points together, I could mark where one piece extended past the other piece.  That's the trim line for that piece.

I trimmed the paper as marked, then pulled out my handy dandy Marti Michell corner trimmer to see if it would trim the same way.  

 Yes!  That made things so much easier when I switched to fabric!   Trimming the tips just so lets me line up the pieces with no guesswork and no marking of each individual fabric patch.

I got impatient to see if all my figuring worked and neglected to take progress pictures.  Here's the finished test star block though.

Blue Lemoyne Star Block

I'm going to try to remake the quilt in different fabrics using these measurements, without the specialty ruler.  If that works, I'll move on to writing up the pattern both ways.  Or maybe three ways.  Paper piecing would be easy and accurate, so I could make it that way too.  I do hear a lot of people say they won't touch paper piecing though and I don't want to limit the pattern's appeal....Clearly, I have a lot of thinking still to do!

While I think, I'll cut fabric for method two.  Here's what I spent a couple of hours choosing for it at the quilt shop a few weeks ago.

Hmm.  That's not a great picture.  There's a pop of yellow in the second fabric, and the last fabric, which will be background, is deeper and richer that it appears in the photo.  I guess I need to step away from the computer and go cut the fabric in all its glorious batik color so I can put it all in a top to show it off properly!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall again! - Blogger's Quilt Festival 2nd entry

Today was the first day of fall, even though you wouldn't have guessed it from the heat and humidity!  Still, the changing calendar made me think of pulling out my fall quilts.  I only have those out until early December, when Christmas quilts get their turn, so I need to pull them out now to enjoy them for a few months.

I thought I'd share one of those for my second Blogger's Quilt Festival entry.  Here is Autumn Moons, finished in August 2013 but still one of my favourites. 

I was practicing curves and had to do something with those practice blocks!

Like many of my quilts, this one was quilted with a walking foot.  It involves lots of turning and smooshing of the quilt through the throat of my domestic sewing machine, but it gets the job done nicely! Marking curves and following along with the walking foot gives me a much smoother and precise arc than I am able to achieve with freemotion quilting.  I like tidy and neat :)

I hope you will pop over to the Blogger's Quilt Festival to be inspired by all the quilts.  It's quite a collection of all sizes, styles and colors!

Sparkling Thirties - Blogger's Quilt Festival 1st entry

Amy at Amy's Creative Side is hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival again.  This year she has gone back to basics, with no categories and no voting, just a chance to be inspired by oodles of beautiful quilts of all sizes and styles.

I'm a little last minute with my contribution, as I couldn't decide what to share.  I've been working on quilting a new Wandering Geese all week, and I thought it might be fun to share the new version as the original was one of my early Blogger's Quilt Festival entries.  However, the quilting isn't finished so I chose my most recent finish instead.

Sparkling Thirties Quilt

Sparkling Trail in 1930's fabric had been sitting in a bin, unquilted, since February 2015. I really like how the top turned out, so why was it languishing in a bin? When I pulled it out this August to show different color options in my trunk show, I felt bad showing just a flimsy.  I didn't have time then to finish it properly but it moved up a few places on my priority list!

I think this sat unquilted for so long because I just couldn't quite decide how to quilt it. I have quilted every version of Sparkling Trails differently (you can see those here, here and here).   I thought I should do some free motion swirls or feathers on this one, but I just couldn't work up the enthusiasm to do that.  When I presented my trunk show this summer, I realized that most of my quits are quilted mostly with a walking foot (some have a few FMQ flourishes added in) and the audience really liked what I had done.  It reminded me that there's nothing wrong with straight line quilting. As long as it enhances the piecing, it doesn't matter if I used FMQ or a walking foot, especially it it gets me a finished quilt!

So, out came the flimsy, the walking foot and my hera marker to mark some straight lines.  I quilted in the ditch around all the triangles and borders, between the squares in the outer border, then added the diamond crosshatching.

This is a mini version of Sparkling Trail, just 30" x 36", but I didn't have appropriate yardage for even such a small back, so I used some scraps from the top to add some width. I think it turned out pretty cute.  I used scraps for the binding too.  I'm feeling very thrifty!

Pieced back of Sparkling Thirties

I have one more version of this quilt to quilt.  Maybe the black and red mini will get the swirls!  It is a little lower on my list though. I have Wandering Geese to finish, a reworking of Jelly Bean Stars clamoring for me to get started, two Lemoyne Star modern quilts in progress and some Anne of Green Gables fabric I'm itching to get to.  And some pattern writing to do in there somewhere.  I think the black and red one will be the 2018 Sparkling Trail finish!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Evolution of my sewing space

While I procrastinate (I should be basting Wandering Geese) I have tidied up my sewing room.  Since it's now so tidy, I thought it might be a good time to invite you in for a tour.  While I was thinking of that, I looked through old photos and was reminded how much my space has changed over 18 years.  So this post has evolved from a tour to a peek at that evolution.

First, here's where things stand now.

Sewing room September 2017

Now let's look back to where I started.

Sewing in 2000

When I first started sewing in 2000, there was no sewing room.  I used the kitchen table, and my machine was put away in the bedroom closet and taken back out again every time I wanted to sew. There was no stash.

Sewing in 2001

I moved up a bit when a friend brought me a desk she found at a yard sale for $3.00.  The sewing machine could stay out of the closet.  The kitchen table was still the cutting station.  There still wasn't any stash, just fabric for quilt numbers 2 and 3 in progress. (I had cute kids though. My 2 year old son built that colorful "sewing machine" from building blocks so he could "sew" along with me!)

In 2002 we moved, to a smaller space, the desk was pressed into service to hold the TV and stereo, and I went back to the kitchen table/closet combo.  In 2003 we moved again, and I got the sewing desk back.  In 2004, we bought our house and I laid claim to a tiny corner of the playroom/family room.  The kitchen table remained indispensable as my cutting station. The stash came into being, filling about 2 square cubbies of the wire shelving we bought to hold the kid's toys.

Then came my new sewing machine in spring 2010. It was such a joy to work on that I ramped up my sewing.  Well, I guess the kids were getting older. I think that helped too!  At any rate, the little corner you see below stared feeling confining.

Spring 2010

By fall, the kids being older and all, and at school most of the day, I had relegated the play area to the darker half of the room and claimed a whole half of the room as my own playroom. You can see the slowly growing stash in the wire cube shelving on the left.

Fall 2009

Things moved around.  The stash started to grow, though at least half the stuff on those shelves you see below on the right belonged to the kids, not to me.

January 2013
All this time I was still running up and down to the stairs to cut and trim on the kitchen table.  I suspect I might have been a tad healthier then.  The physical fitness started going downhill when we found this great table free for the taking at the curb a few blocks from home and moved it into the sewing space. It isn't the prettiest, but it is sturdy and it makes a great cutting table. 

August 2013

Besides switching the position of the computer desk and sewing desk, nothing changed (except the growth of the stash and the addition of a dog bed under the table for my faithful quilter's companion) until this past March when I was informed that I should close the room off somehow so the kids (now well into their teens) would not feel so much like they were watching movies in my office/studio.  I have an office? A studio?  OK!

That brings us to the lovely blue wall currently behind my cutting table.  After much discussion of how to hang a quilt as a divider, or maybe curtains, I settled on fabric pinned to the box that encloses the duct work in the basement ceiling.  It was cheap, easy to put up, and gives me a place to display orphan blocks and small unquilted tops to remind me to quilt them.  Plus, when I get tired of the blue, or I manage to claim the entire downstairs, I get to add it to the stash!

September 2017

The newest addition to the room cost less than $10 and is one of those things I should have done years ago. I can't believe it took me so long to get around to it.  My husband and daughter drove to the home improvement center (daughter has just started driving and finds any errand is a good excuse to get behind the wheel) just to get 4 landscape pavers/bricks/slabs/what-do-you-call-them to put under the table legs.  It isn't fancy, but those 5 inches of extra height have made a world of difference for my back.  I didn't realize how much I had to bend, just a little, to cut and press things.

And what about the stash?  It outgrew the little wire cube shelving.  That shelving wasn't very efficient anyway.  When the back-to-college sales were in full force last month, I sprang for new shelving and spent a weekend getting organized.  I even managed to de-clutter under the cutting table because I could fit more on these.

Old shelving with small bins stacked two deep so I couldn't see them all at a glance
New shelving.  Nothing is hiding anymore!

Can I say I love my label maker?

Because you just can't be sure what colour is in those clear bins unless they are clearly labelled!

I did label the less obvious bins too, with project names for example.

I also hung all my ruler on the wall.  Most are hanging from 3M Command hooks that can be removed and repositioned easily if I need to rearrange to make room for new rulers.  A couple are hanging on nails because the hooks just wouldn't stay stuck to the wall.  I didn't think those rulers were heavier than the rest, but I finally gave up and reached for the hammer.

And after all that, I still use that $3.00 desk that Carol found for me.

I would love a sewing cabinet with the machine set into the desktop.  That would make a huge difference for quilting, both free motion and walking foot.  However, when I eventually get one, I'll miss the stories this little desk can tell.

Time to use this lovely space to baste a quilt.  Wandering Geese is not basting itself, unfortunately!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ticking things off the list

I didn't have as much time to sew this week as I would have liked, but I did start ticking things off the list from my last post.  I didn't start in order!

First up is my orange butterfly for September for the RSC Challenge.  Find the tutorial for the basic shape here.)

September - Orange RSC butterfly block

I struggled with this one.  This is not what the wings looked like initially.  I spent way too long trying to make something else work.  I should have taken a picture of that too, but I was too focused on getting this done to remember pictures.  Anyhow, arriving at this simpler version required careful picking and reconstructing because I didn't want to waste the  background fabric that I had already trimmed for the failed version.  Anyway, it's done.  I think I may make a pink one next month, and call the nine butterflies enough.  I spent some time this week playing with new layouts using just 9 instead of the anticipated 12 blocks. I may throw in a few Spring Blooms to fill in some blanks.  We'll see.

Here are all the butterflies so far. 

Next, I finished the binding on the Samoyed baby quilt.  Hubby delivered it this week and says it was well received.  Good, because they almost didn't get it. I kind of wanted to keep this one!

Combination of Building Blocks by McKay Manor Musers and Midnight Wolf by Robinson Pattern Company

I even like the back.  I needed just 10 inches more than the width of fabric for the backing but I really didn't want a lot of extra of this fabric in my stash.  Enter the scraps from the top!

Then, instead of finishing something, as in quilting one of the four unquilted tops on the list, I started something new, but it was on the list so it's OK, right?

These Lemoyne Star blocks came together quickly using the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler from Studio180 Designs.  I spent a long time not wanting to spend money on rulers if it was at all possible to make the block without the specialty ruler.  I caved on this one.  I can and have made it without the ruler.  This just made it so much faster and the points are all just where they should be. 

I have made a few more, and some alternate blocks as well.  I can share the finished top soon.  If I get off the computer now, I can probably have all the blocks together into a top by bedtime.  But first, supper!  I have to be fueled up for sewing.

Linking up with
ScrapHappy Saturday at SoScrappy

Friday, September 1, 2017

Small changes, big impact

When I sewed new samples for my trunk show last month, Jelly Bean Stars was one of the quilts I needed to remake, because I had given away the original.  I played with a few little details. Here's the original.

Original Jelly Bean Stars quilt by Canuck Quilter Designs

I made fewer blocks for the new sample, partly to see how it looks in baby-size, partly because I was short on time, and partly because that's all the ISU fabric I had and I wasn't making another trip to the shop (see the part about time).

Cyclones baby size version of Jelly Bean Stars

I'm sure you can spot the design differences.

1. There is a more unified color scheme.
2. Small stars in the sashing match the color of the larger stars.
3. Star centers are simplified (more due to time constraints than design preference!)
4. Small star points extend into the border.

I love the way those small stars pop now!  My husband looked at both pictures and was convinced that I had changed the proportions of that small star somehow.  He thought the original quilt had an X at each cornerstone rather than a star.  I think the reason is that, against the white sashing, the colored cornerstones looked like extensions of the colors in the blocks. Also, the large stars are pretty strong.  Making the small ones the same color helps visually pull them forward a bit.

Extending the small star points helps with the pop too, and is just more visually interesting, I think, than cutting them off at the inner border.  It wasn't even very hard to do, so it was definitely worth the little bit of extra piecing.

I still love the original quilt.  How could I not, with all those beautiful bright colours?  I have leftover fabric from remaking Wandering Geese and had planned to make another Jelly Bean Stars with them, just as the original was made with leftovers from the original Wandering Geese.  Here are the two together.

Wandering Geese and Jelly Bean Stars by Canuck Quilter Designs
Now I am wondering if I can tweak this colorful version a bit.  I definitely want to extend the small star points into the border.  I think I would also like to make those small stars white, like in the Cyclone baby version, but then I'd have to choose a different color for the sashing and I'm stumped.  What would go well between any of the color combinations and still let the small stars pop?

I'll put this remake on hold for now and see if the solution comes to me while I'm not looking for it.  I have plenty of projects to choose from in the meantime:

  1. Quilt Cyclone baby quilt
  2. Quilt new Wandering Geese
  3. Add final border to and quilt new Starlight Wishes
  4. Quilt both mini Sparkling Trail quilts
  5. Make a new RSC butterfly or two
  6. Finish hand stitching binding on Samoyed baby quilt (yes, I have let that slide, but it is almost done now!)
  7. Start brand new Lemoyne Star quilt (or two - I have fabric options to work out!)
  8. Start Anne of Green Gable quilts (two of them, one for me, one for daughter)
  9. Start a snowflake quilt - I've been thinking of all 26, and maybe a few new ones, all together in a single quilt...
So many quilts, so little time!

Friday, August 25, 2017

The great eclipse and fabric combo trip

As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband and I headed down to Missouri to see the solar eclipse, and brought Eclipse Sky along for the ride.  I'll just tell you now, we have no fabulous photos to share, because that requires a good camera and an appropriate filter.  We did, however, get peeks through the clouds at the eclipse before, during and after totality, and it was very, very cool to see.

Here is how the day unfolded.  We drove south for 4 hours, 2 of those in the pouring rain, and arrived in Hamilton, MO just as it started to rain again.  The plan had been to go find an open space to watch the eclipse from, but there didn't seem to be much point in the rain so we headed to Missouri Star Quilt Company instead. (Ooops.  Forgot pictures of that.  Bad blogger!)

Just after spying some Anne of Green Gables themed fabric, we spotted shadows outside the window, which meant there was a hole in the clouds, so we ran out to go grab the eclipse glasses out of the car (where we had left them because, well, it was raining!). On the way, two lovely quilters offered let us peek through theirs in case the clouds blocked the view again again before we got to the car.  Quilters are just plain nice!

So here's what the partial eclipse looked like when photographed with a phone camera, without filters, through patchy cloud. Pretty picture, but not much about it says eclipse!  I did see the disc with the bite taken out of it through the eclipse glasses though.

About 10 minutes before totality,  heavier clouds rolled in and blocked our view, and made my husband face fall, because they stretched pretty far and there was no way they were going to pass before totality.  We did see the sky turn to twilight though, and street lights came on. This was shortly after 1pm.  Away to the east, just clear of the clouds, we saw what hubby has since identified as Saturn becoming visible in the lower light. Look for the white pinprick beside the "Saturn" label in the picture.

And about 1 minute into totality someone gasped, and everyone looked up again to see the clouds parting just a little. Again, lousy picture but in person it was beautiful, a solid black disc surrounded by a shimmering silvery glow.

We watched the rest of totality, about a minute's worth, saw the red beads on the edge as the moon moved on, and a few seconds later the clouds blocked the sun again.  Of course, a while later the sky was clear again as we came out of the shops and took a last peek at the moon almost past the sun.

We did take a photo of the quilt in Hamilton, just to show it was there:

I meant to take a closer shot as well, but the social media director at Missouri Star distracted me by rushing up and asking to take a picture, and by the time we finished chatting I forgot to turn around and snap a better picture.  She got one though and posted it on their Quilting Deals facebook page.  She neglected to use my full name in the post, but Joanne K. is me and that's my quilt :) The post is pretty far down their page by now but I shared it on my Canuck Quilter FB page so I could find it again easily.

What about the fabric?  Well, I don't use precuts much, and I'm pretty spoiled with the excellent fabric selection at Quilting Connection, but I found a couple of collections to bring home.

Up first, the Anne of Green Gables themed fabric from Penny Rose Fabrics.  Not my usual colors, but my daughter and I are both Anne fans.  There are quotes on some of the fabrics, and Green Gables on another.  I have plans for two scrappy throws (one for Laura, one for me) with a period look.

There were charm packs and jelly rolls left, but I didn't want to limit my pattern choices so I asked for 1/4 yard cuts instead.  I did the math, and it was much cheaper that way too!  I don't think the fellow cutting my fabric was as excited by that or by the fabric's possibilities as me.  I suspect he was not a quilter. 

The girl cutting my fabric in the batik shop was much more lively and interested in fabric possibilities.  I think she may be a quilter!  I chose a fat quarter bundle and a little extra yardage of Artisan Batiks: Northwoods by Lunn Studios for Robert Kaufman Fabrics.

I had a Christmas remake of Star Steps in mind, but now I have another idea kicking around in my brain.  I wonder if there's enough fabric in there for both?

The four hour drive home seemed longer than the drive down, probably due to the very heavy rain for the second half.  However, that brought a gorgeous rainbow, so the day finished on a pleasant note.

What did you do on Eclipse Day?