Saturday, October 12, 2019

New patterns: Leftovers and Mostly Clear

Rosie wanted to let you know that the Mostly Clear pattern is now available in my Etsy shop.  You may remember I wrote about making the quilt in August.  Since then Kim Williams, Joanne Harris, Mary-Ann Vanner and Tina Fugate generously donated their time, effort and fabric to test the pattern for me.  I am very grateful for their help. It lets me release the pattern with confidence knowing it passed muster with independent quilters!

Mostly Clear by Canuck Quilter Designs

The pattern features strip piecing to speed assembly, and borders that come together in segments as the rows come together to avoid having to sew on long border strips. Last but not least, the part of the pattern that excites me most is the pressing direction guidance that lets you nest every single seam intersection for perfectly matched seams.

Rosie would also like to announce that there is now a pattern for the Leftovers table set, though I declined to let her pose on the placemats.

As I mentioned in September, these were a great cheerful pick-me up project in a grey, dreary spring. There's nothing like digging through a bin of colorful scraps to lift my spirits.  That said, I realize not everyone has scraps to paw through (though I'm sure those people are just beginning their quilting journey and will soon have a respectable scrap stash).  It also occurred to me that not everyone likes to cut and sew many small pieces.

Enter the strip pieced, less scrappy version:

Five prints and a background let you make 6 matching placemats and a runner.  I really love the blue prints I chose for this set.  I really need to finish binding the other 5 placemats!

The pattern includes instructions for both the super scrappy version and the strip-pieced version.  Thank you to Joanne Harris and Carol Andrews for testing and proof reading the pattern.  Thanks to them you'll know you have enough fabric for your binding!

Both  Leftovers and Mostly Clear are now available to purchase as PDF downloads in my Etsy shop at a special introductory price.  Enjoy 50% off the regular retail price through Friday, October 18th, 2019.  If you prefer a print copy, please ask your favorite local quilt shop to order it in for you from Checker Distributors or by emailing me directly.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Starlight Plaid is a top

Here it is, Starlight Plaid in red and grey!  You may remember last month's post about trying to make the blue stars work, but I think the red was the better choice. Maybe I feel that way because it reminds me of my son's black and grey and red plaid flannel shirts.

Starlight Plaid top designed and sewn by Joanne Kerton, Canuck Quilter Designs
Starlight Plaid top designed and sewn by Joanne Kerton, Canuck Quilter Designs

I've been alternating sewing it up and writing the pattern.  I had it all written up before I started sewing, then decided I really should include alternate sizes, which then led me to assemble the star centers in strip sets, and it all required lots more calculating and figuring for the various sizes and in the end I have a much better pattern. All it needs now is testing.  If you'd like first crack at this pattern as a volunteer tester, send me an email (  Pattern includes baby, throw, twin and queen sizes.

Though it really is a straightforward pattern, making the top was a bit of an adventure.  I think because it was such a simple construction I didn't pay as much attention as I should have and I let my mind wander.  Sigh.  Sewing while distracted leads to miscutting, mistaken seams and ripping!

Exhibit A: miscutting
I try to include a little extra fabric in my patterns' fabric requirements for miscuts. Unless it leads to a ridiculous amount of extra fabric, I add one extra width of the widest strip needed then round to the next 1/8th yard.  Unfortunately, I used up the extra in making the blue blocks I decided not to use, so there was no wiggle room when I miscut one square 1/2" too small.  Just one square!  I pieced a couple of scraps together to make it up and the print hides the seam well.  Crisis #1 dealt with!

Things went very well after that until I started assembling rows.  I used the very clear assembly diagrams in my pattern and promptly sewed row 3 to the side of row 4.  The pattern did it right.  I did it wrong!  I clued in when I started pressing the seam.

Exhibit B: That's not right!

That was a really long seam to rip and redo.  Of course after I did so, I read @homeinottawa's comment on Instagram, which kindly pointed out I didn't need to rip the whole seam.  I could have removed the end triangles and reoriented them without ripping the whole long seam.  I took note for next time!

And yes, there was a next time, though I don't have photographic evidence of it.  Solid fabrics are the same on both sides.  The skinny red border is pieced to make it long enough.  It's a red solid.  Can you guess what I did?  Yup.  I sewed the border on wrong side down, so the seam allowance where the two strips meet ended up on the right side of the quilt. There were grumbles, but also a tiny bit of smugness because this time I just ripped the short seam in the binding strips, and resewed that with the seam allowance relocated where it should be, rather than ripping and resewing the whole border.

The borders were not done with me yet.  I sewed the last borders on in the wrong order.  The pattern clearly states to sew top and bottom borders first, then the side borders.  So of course I did the opposite and my top and bottom  strips ended up too short.  My husband, who had just proofread the pattern for me and knew what it said to do, looked at what I did and commiserated about people who just can't seem to follow the directions.  I love him anyway.

Finally, can you explain this to me?

Exhibit C:  Amazing expanding border strip

I measured!  Three times!  The top and middle and bottom of the quilt had the same measurement. I double checked! I even measured by laying the strip on the quilt and marking the strip!  I cut both top and bottom strip together, so they would be the same size.  The top went on perfectly.  The bottom is 1/2" too long. The previous borders were the same length so I don't see how things suddenly became 1/2" off.  Sigh.  At this point I just wanted the top finished so I decided to just smooth it on flat, pin it,  sew it and chop off the excess. That isn't best practice in borders, but at least it's flat and done.

Starlight Plaid top designed and sewn by Joanne Kerton, Canuck Quilter Designs
Starlight Plaid top designed and sewn by Joanne Kerton, Canuck Quilter Designs

I know how I want to quilt it, but it is going to have to join the queue.  I have never had this many unquilted tops before. Counting this one, there are 7 in the queue.  This one might cut in line...

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Round Robin Update

In July I received the last quilt I needed to add a border to for my guild's Round Robin challenge.  There are four of us in my group, and we have been passing the quilts around, everyone adding a border to each quilt in turn. I shared my contributions to two quilts in this post last May. 

Here is Jen's quilt as it was when it was passed to me.  Center star by Jen, first border by Traci, and second border by Pam.

Jen also included lots of fabrics in case we didn't have anything in our stashes to work with her colours.  I used some of those to repeat the fabric from her star points, and I found a red that echoed the red in the other two borders.  I almost headed to the quilt shop for a creamy solid to match what Pam used, then noticed that Jen had used  scrappy neutral prints in her origimal background, so I dug into my neutral scraps to see what I could use up to pull that element back in.  The prints don't show up very well on my photo.

This was actually plan C. I considered making the whole border out stars, sprinking in a few in accent colors.  However, they were time consuming and I figured Jen would probably appreciate getting her quilt back sometime before next year. I forget what plan B was...  

The points in the gold border were inspired by elements of the border Jen added to my quilt.  

The second to last border and the corners added to the previous border's cornerstone are hers.  Traci added the last border, and Pam made all those flying geese and puss in the corner cornerstones.  It is miles away from what I envisioned when I looked at my center medallion, but it's been great fun to see what direction other quilters' creative flights took it. I hope they enjoyed the process too.

Though I have it back in my possession, I won't have time to work on finishing my round robin quilt for a while.  When I do, I plan to add another border to make it just a little larger.  I may add red to frame it all.  As my partners demonstrated, there are so many possibilities!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


As I was sorting through pictures on my phone I realized I never shared this project here on the blog. 

Last spring was grey and gloomy and I needed more colour in my life to tide me over until the garden started blooming. There's plenty of colour in my scrap bins, and I spent several evenings sifting through those, petting the fabric and choosing small scraps, deciding whether I could really bear to use the last little bit of this or that favourite fabric.(You never know if there might be a better project for it right around the corner!)

This is not my whole scrap stash, of course!  These were just the ones I thought would play well in my project. Surprisingly, this selection hardly made a dent in the scrap stash.  Scraps reproduce inside those bins.  Someone needs to conduct some research into that phenomenon.

I even found scrap strips for the binding.

These placemats were a joy to sew.  They were colourful, quick to make, and gave me the satisfaction of making quick progress after working on slower, long term projects.

You can see I kept the quilting very simple.  Easy, quick, evenly spaced lines quilted with my walking foot add plenty of texture without distracting from the colorful scraps.

I love them, though the family is afraid of that white background.  No worries.  We just use different placemats when we serve spaghetti and sauce!

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!