Monday, September 16, 2019

Needs simmering

I have gorgeous fabrics.

Shimmer Radiance by Deborah Edwards of Northcott
Just look at that blue with little metallic silver highlights!  How could I leave that on the shelf?

Natures Pearl fabric by Maria Kalinowski for Kanvas Studio
You can't tell from the picture, but the dots on this are metallic silver.  Very, very pretty though not my usual choice of fabrics.

I bought them with a particular design in mind.  I designed it in a much softer color palette for a project I can't share yet, and decided to challenge myself to give it a totally different feeling with stronger, darker colors.  It actually looked pretty good in Civil War reproduction blues, and in a particular group of reds.  I rather like the suggestion of plaid in the background.

Starlight Plaid in repro blues

Starlight plaid in reds

The catch is that I couldn't find what I had in mind at the quilt shop. I must be the pickiest fabric shopper ever, because with a choice of over 10,000 bolts of fabric at Quilting Connection  I wasn't satisfied.  Sigh. I just find it hard to change course when I have the perfect combo in my head.

However, change course I did!  How about a "guy quilt" in steely greys with just a pop of color in the stars?  That's when those two gorgeous fabrics above jumped on to my cart.  I chose three more greys to play with them, brought them home and promptly began to doubt my choices. There may not be enough value contrast between my first two fabrics for the design to pop.

Last night I stayed up late sewing some test blocks, hoping I was wrong.  While I sewed I had the sinking feeling that I was right.  I put the blocks up on the wall and went to bed mulling over options.  I liked the greys, but the blue wasn't working for the stars.  I went to sleep stumped about what to do about the stars.

I like my grey plaid background, but the star points fade away.  I still love that blue. I so badly want it to work, but I think it will have to wait for a different quilt.  

So what do you think about those stars?  I could use the same fabric as the lightest grey in the background, but would that make the quilt too dull, so very monochromatic?  Or creamy yellow stars?  Maybe I could find a red that would work, but it might be a challenge to find a value that isn't too close to the darker greys, with the same trouble the blue is having.  I thought it was vibrant enough that it would work anyway, but clearly value still counts.

So, it needs simmering.  I'm off to work on something completely different now!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Burst of productivity in orange

Sometimes a quilt design takes time to develop.  Sometimes a deadline helps move it along more quickly!

I have been invited to be the International Association of Quilters' guest designer for November.  I'll provide instructions for a block for their mystery quilt, as well as a quilt pattern for their members.  I have known about this since last December.  I did have a plan, but just couldn't seem to start on the quilt or the pattern.  It turns out that was because it was the wrong plan.  I just didn't know it until a looming deadline made me admit that I just wan't excited about Plan A. Once I gave that up, Plan B popped into the newly vacated space in my brain and moved along at a steady pace.

I'm sure this block must exist somewhere.  If anyone knows what it is called, please let me know.  For now I've named mine Variable Starburst.

Plan B morphed a bit along the way.  I planned to work in blues, as in the test block above.  I planned a layout that used 10 of these stars, each with different value placement, as an exercise in playing with value and placement.  That's where the "variable" part came in.  Then I thought to add a layer to "variable" by making a single star a different colour.  I went back to my EQ drawings and made one star orange and promptly decided I currently love orange and had to make every star in the layout orange, except the variable one.

I got as far as doing all the math, figuring out cutting charts and yardage amounts before the test block fell off the design wall and I slapped it back on...on point.

OK, I like the block even more on point.  I fired up EQ again and played with that idea.

This is kind of fun too, but those pieced setting triangles would be a pain to write up in a pattern. I do like the movement the diagonal elements add, though.  I went to bed undecided and ready to pitch Plan B out the window.

The next morning, in my free half hour before heading to work at the quilt shop, Plan B morphed into Plan C. I really, really like Plan C, so much so that I spent my lunch hour doing the math so I could buy the fabric before heading home. (But you know, revisiting both versions of Plan B right now I think fabric may eventually come out to play with them too.)

I'll keep the full design to myself just a wee bit longer, since I'm very close to being able to show the finished top, but here's a peek a some of it.  I love its clean, crisp lines and all that orange brightness.  Who knew I could like orange this much?

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Mostly Clear mostly done

Since I last posted I reorganized my sewing area, opening it up to the family room, which also required resetting and decluttering the family room.  That took over about a week of my life but it feels great to have a renewed and uncluttered space.  I am in the mood to design and sew again, so the time investment was definitely worth it.

The first project from the renewed studio is Mostly Clear.  I think this quilt holds the record for shortest turnaround time from design to finished top in the history of Canuck Quilter.

Mostly Clear quilt top corner detail

I played with the design in late July, settling on final layout two weeks ago, and started writing the pattern.  This is backwards for me.  I usually do the required math, sketch some rough notes, then make the quilt to make sure the quilt looks good in real size as opposed to small picture on a page. I have all the bugs and any required design changes worked out before investing time in writing a polished pattern.  This time I wrote the entire pattern, working out all the details on paper first, then sewed following my pattern.

My husband and I took a day off to roam that Friday. We stopped at Mended Hearts Quilting and he was very patient while I pulled bolt after bolt trying to choose 4 fabrics that went together just so.  I found several sets of three, but the fourth one was never quite right.  I finally found a fourth that was good enough, bought the set, then happily found a fourth that was better when we stopped at It's Sew Tempting after a picnic lunch.

By Sunday night I had all my fabric cut and strip sets sewn.

Monday I sewed all the blocks.  Lots of chain piecing...

...and corner trimming....

...and seam matching. There are a lot of seams to match, but I planned all the pressing directions ahead of time and every.single.seam nested.  Happiness is a nicely nested, matched seam intersection!

Tuesday I sewed the blocks into rows.  Wednesday evening I sewed the rows into sections and the sections into a quilt top.

It was just past midnight when I finished the top.  Rosie did try hinting about bedtime sometime around 11 pm, but I only had 4 more seams to sew so I decided it wasn't my bedtime yet.

Check out the cheater pieced border.  Instead of making pieced border strips to add the start points into the border and adding that to the sides, I added the segments to the rows/sections and the border just happened as I sewed my rows together.  Happiness is also fewer border strips!

I'm going to send the pattern to testers this week and try to quilt the quilt while they test so I will have a pattern cover ready when testing and editing is finished.

I will try not to get side tracked with the next new starry quilt spinning around in my head.  That one has a more modern vibe and...wait, that's another quilt and another post!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Simply obsessed with Simply Snow

Finishing up the swan pillows seems to have started my creative juices flowing again.  Since I last posted, I have split my time between weeding the flower beds (I may have too many, but that's another post), fighting a summer cold, and sewing obsessively to finally bring the snowflake quilt into existence.  I think I am going to name it Simply Snow.

Simply Snow quilt by Joanne Kerton and Canuck Quilter Designs.
Photo and longarm quilting by Chris Hobbs of Urban Loon Studios
Panto: Carnival 2 by Urban Elementz.
I designed these foundation paper pieced snowflakes over 4 1/2 years ago for my Snowalong Sewalong.  I made a bag, a couple of runners and a pillow.  I always thought a quilt with all 26 designs together would be fabulous, but it took a long time for me to settle on a setting.  I narrowed it down a little, then let it sit, then refined it a bit more, then worked on something else.  I didn't start sewing the blocks until this past February.

Snowflake progress sometime in March.

Halfway into the snow making I was interrupted, and I didn't get back to it until about 3 weeks ago, but at that point I sewed obsessively because I wanted to finally see my vision in actual fabric.

I spent some quality time with my seam ripper to get to this stage.  I have better lighting in my sewing room now than I did when I sewed all the nine patches in February, and it revealed that I sewed one strip of white into a strip set wrong side up.  That wrong-side up white was sprinkled among many nine patches and while I tried to tell myself it didn't matter, it really did and they had to come out.  I didn't have enough blue to just start over with fresh fabric and a new strip set, hence the seam ripper.

I could have stopped with the layout above, as I originally intended, but...just a little extra border would make it into a queen size for my bed. Enter a few more nine-patches.

Simply Snow quilt by Joanne Kerton and Canuck Quilter Designs. 
Photo and longarm quilting by Chris Hobbs of Urban Loon Studios.  
Panto: Carnival 2 by Urban Elementz.

Chris Hobbs at Urban Loon Studios quilted it up for me today using the Carnival 2 panto by Urban Elementz, in baby blue thread that disappears on the blue and treads lightly over the white.  I am just thrilled with how it turned out. 

Simply Snow quilt by Joanne Kerton and Canuck Quilter Designs. 
Photo and longarm quilting by Chris Hobbs of Urban Loon Studios.  
Panto: Carnival 2 by Urban Elementz.

I will bind the quilt this week and send it off to the Iowa State Fair.  Then I'll sit down and attempt to finalize the pattern.  Look for it sometime this fall.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

School Swans?

I'm taking Katie's advice and sewing something, anything, to get back in the mood. In March I bought a kit on impulse.  I wasn't feeling very creative but I wanted to get back to my sewing machine. I figured a kit might do the trick.  This one was small to guarantee a quick finish and a sense of accomplishment.

We live in a university town. My husband teaches at Iowa State University and by this fall I will have two kids attending as students.  Maybe it's time to add a little cardinal and gold to my home decor.  Just a little though. 

Iowa State has two resident swans, Lancelot and Elaine, on Lake LaVerne on campus.  Elizabeth Hartman's pattern Swan Island is a perfect fit!  When Rachel at Quilting Connection chose the red and gold accents for a store sample, it struck me as just the right touch of ISU tradition and colors.  The kit includes only the fabric for the swans and you add your choice of background.  Brown fits my living room furniture, and it sure makes the swans pop. They kept me busy for a day or two, then sat on the design wall waiting for me to quilt them and turn them into pillows.

So, back to the idea of a quick finish.  Piecing the swans kept me busy for a couple of days, but the quick finish eluded me because of that creative void. I didn't want an allover pattern like the one used on the pattern cover because there is too much contrast between my swans and my background.  The quilting would be either too showy on the swans or too showy on the background. I knew what I didn't want but had no clue what to quilt instead. My swans hung on the wall for a couple of months.

A couple of days ago I decided to at least prepare the quilt sandwiches (I was going to say baste but that sounds like I am roasting these swans!) By the time I finished stitching in the ditch around and in the swan block, I had a plan for the background too.

I used my Westalee rulers to start stitching concentric circles centered on the front of the swan.  Since I don't have any that will let me stitch out anything larger than about 12" in diameter, I switched to my walking foot with a guide arm for the larger circles, switching to a very long stitch length when I had to stitch across the swan.  This let me keep track of the curve on successive rounds until I got past the swan.

I needed each of those curves as a guide to follow on the next round, all the way out to the edge, but the long stitches across the swan were easy to pick out afterwards.  I wrote a post all about this method several years ago.

I like how it turned out.  Last light I prepared a zippered pillow back, this morning I sewed the front to the back, and tomorrow I'll bring home some coordinating fabric for binding.  I bought brown for the binding yesterday when I popped into the shop for brown thread, but now I am leaning towards binding in fabric that matches the feather tips.

This is almost a finish, and I think my creativity is stirring.  Next up: quilting the butterfly quilt.  I has a longarm quilter baste it for me and it is ready for me to get started.  I'm going to try starting with stitching in the ditch again and hope ideas for the rest come to me while I stitch.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Fundy Skies: tester versions

As promised, here are pictures from my pattern testers.  They all did a beautiful job with their quilts and provided useful feedback about the pattern .  It's a better pattern thanks to them.

I love seeing the design paired with all the different fabric choices.  Without further ado, here are the quilts.  Enjoy!

Throw size by Kathleen Ross

Twin size by Judy Juhl

Lap size - baby with extra borders top and bottom, by Louise.  Check out her blog My Quilting Odyssey to see the beautiful quilt she makes while living aboard a boat.

Queen size by Lora Garrison.
Queen Size by Judy MacLeod.  Judy is a longarm quilter and I can't wait to see how she quilts it.  You can find her on Facebook as Painted Pony Quiltworks.

Baby size by Jeanne Holmes.  Find her on FB as jeanne.f.holmes or on Instagram as @jeammeholmes.

Thank you all so very much testers!

Remember, you can get a 25% discount on Fundy Skies today through June 21 in my Etsy shop by using the coupon code STARGAZING.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Did I forget to mention...?

Several months ago I released my latest pattern, Fundy Skies. Yup. After a false start with one photographer, I finally got a good picture for the cover (thank you!) and released the pattern.  Shipped it to distributors.  Uploaded to my Payhip shop, then to the Etsy shop when I switched to that.

I apparently forgot to announce it though.  My marketing needs some serious work!

I really, really love this design.  You can't accidentally cut off the points in this star block, so it is very forgiving.  The sashing is actually built into the large blocks so there are no long sashing strips to measure and sew. And if you like to nest your seams to help match corners, this pattern makes it easy.  Detailed pressing instructions help you nest every seam that needs to nest.

I designed it for my own bed several years ago, and revisited the design for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary quilt last year.

Here's what Kathleen, one of my wonderful testers had to say about the pattern:
"I loved this pattern.  Originally I thought it too wordy but as I went along I found it so organised and clear.  The cutting charts were accurate and easy to follow and I loved that you showed pressing directions - all seams nested perfectly.  This is a fantastic pattern..."
Thank you so much for being a tester, Kathleen!  I am also grateful to Judy J., Louise, Lora Garrison, Jeanne Holmes and Judy MacLeod.  Please drop in tomorrow to see pictures of their versions. 

In the meantime, please spread the word that the pattern is now available .  Ask for it at your favourite quilt shop (they can order directly from me or from distributors Checker or Brewer) or pop over to my Etsy shop to buy a PDF download.

Get a 25% discount on Fundy Skies today through June 21 in my Etsy shop by using the coupon code STARGAZING.