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 QuiltPhotography.com!) 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.



Friday, May 31, 2019

Round Robin sneak peeks

Though I didn't sew much the last few months, the quilt guild round robin  kept me from totally deserting my sewing room.  I had committed to this back in January, so I had to come down and sew a little, and I think that was a good thing.  My group gave me permission to share progress here, so here's a peek at the two quilt I have added rounds to so far.

Pam's Mariner's Compass medallion
Pam made a gorgeous Mariner's Compass block for her medallion.  That's fussy cut Tula Pink fabric in the blades, meeting and matching to make a lovely little floral center.  Coming up with a order to do it justice was an intimidating task, but playing around with stock borders in EQ8 helped.


The borders are from EQ but the corners are my esigns.  I had to tweak the colors a couple of times to get the right effect, but I'm pleased with how it worked out. 



I think if the next round had been mine to add I would have turned this on point.  I have no idea what wonderful idea the next person in the round robin came up with, as I missed the last meeting so didn't get a peek at the next round.

Next up is Traci's medallion with Jenn's round added.  This one is more modern than most of what I make so it stayed on the design wall most of the month while I figured out what to add that would play well with the rest.


I decided to try to pull out some of the brighter blues from the center, and have some sort of slash and insert component to the piecing, because the plus signs looked like they might have been constructed that way.


I slashed these squares at random angles and inserted the yellow and orange strips.  I followed that up by using the block as one of the fabrics in a paper pieced wonky triangle block.  Wonky-on-purpose is so much harder for me to acheive than wonky-by-accident!


I think using one background fabric for two adjacent sides and a different background for the remaining two added an interesting element, but it was not a thought out design decision.  I just didn't have enough of either fabric, or any other suitable background print.  Happy accident?

I wish I had a picture of what Pam added to my cat medallion.  I saw it when it was passed along for the next round but did not think to take a picture.  Her border of little tiny flying geese is fabulous!  I'll get the whole thing back in a few months and will share then.

I think there will be a short hiatus in the round robin as one person had life interfere with her plans, but I'm sure it will be worth the wait!  One more round to go...

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Wisdom from my daughter

I've been in a little bit of a creative and blogging slump the last few months.  I couldn't muster much energy for sewing and no enthusiasm at all for sitting down at the computer or surfing blogs.  Maybe the grey, cold, wet spring was to blame.  Maybe I just needed a break.  Maybe I was exhausted from watching my daughter be exhausted from slogging through the last projects and exams and activities and emotional upheavals of her high school career.

She graduated with honors this past Sunday, and gave one of the commencement addresses. She spoke beautifully about the need to face any challenge with the belief that one is good enough to succeed.  She challenged all her classmates, and the rest of us too, to always answer "Yes, I am good enough"  when confronted with whatever life throws at us. 


I am so, so proud of this strong, confident, accomplished and compassionate young woman!

She is now at a new-to-her summer camp as a camp counselor until she starts university in the fall, putting her own advice into practice as she embraces new adventures and makes new friendships.

As for my slump?  I am telling myself I am good enough to finally start things I have been avoiding, and I suspect getting past those will re-energize me to get more productive in the sewing room and socializing in blogland again.  See you again soon!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Ruler work samples

I have been invited to teach a class on quilting with Westalee quilting templates (AKA rulers) at the local quilt shop in April.  I have been playing with some of these for several months , on and off as I have a quilt that needs quilting and I am excited to share what I have learned.  I spent the weekend making two little samples to use in class.



When I took a class to get started last June, I came away with the basic idea of building designs by tracing various lines and shapes with the templates while freemotion quilting.  What I felt was lacking were examples of how to place those shapes on a patchwork quilt.  All our practice was just doodling randomly on a scrap quilt sandwich.

Having everyone bring a quilt to fill with motifs is a bit much for a beginner class, and different quilts would need different motifs and sizes and so on.  It just isn't practical.  However, I think drawing specific shapes and spaces on a plain quilt sandwich and filling those as though they were blocks or borders or sashing is a good alternative, and that's what these samplers are for.  Between the two, they use all 6 templates I plan to discuss and demonstrate. Participants will have the choice of random doodling, or more intentional placement practice, or both.


This one uses a straight edge, a 12" arc, a 2" circle, a 6" spiral and the Circles on Quits Spinning Wheel 36 (except that spinning wheel, instead of spinning, is being shuffled sideways for a design in the last border, just because I can and it looks cool).


This one (which is actually a pretty yellow but washed out in every picture I attempted) uses the Spin-e-fex No.4 template, the straight ruler, and the 3" clam shell.  I used the clam shell for the leafy bits and that curvy-pointy strip.

My biggest challenge is accepting that I cannot possibly both introduce how to use the rulers AND show or teach every possible design I can think to create with them!  Maybe that can be another class.

Tonight, I'm going back to piecing.  I need to finish the first round on the guild round robin.  I wish I could show you a picture.  Pam made a gorgeous mariner's compass with 32 points, fussy cutting and pattern matching.  It is a bit intimidating, but oh so fabulous!  I think our groups plans to go ahead and admire the progress on all the quits at each round, so I will ask at the next meeting if I can share pictures as I go.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

What is your favourite LQS?

How is the weather where you are?  In my neck of the woods, we are paying for the super mild December we enjoyed.  There is lots of snow. Today what fell last night is blowing around so much it looks like it's still snowing.   I'm taking the glass half full approach to it all:  as long a I don't have to go out in it, it looks pretty from my sewing room. The snowflakes in the sewing room itself are also multiplying, but not quite as fast, and not cold!

8 snowflakes finished, 18 more to go! Block patterns are in the Etsy shop!

All these snow days have also given me extra time to think about Canuck Quilter Designs and whether I want to keep moving it forward, and if so how best to do that.  Right along with several other states, Iowa has passed new sales tax legislation and the new law complicates my online pattern download sales.  I've been thinking about what to do next, and I hope you can help me with part of that.

I'd like to introduce more bricks and mortar quilt shops to Canuck Quilter Designs patterns.  Mailing sample patterns to every quilt shop in the country isn't feasible, but perhaps a carefully selected subset would be.  So, what is your favourite quilt shop and where is it located?  I'd like to send them a pattern or two!  Please let me know in the comments or email me at joanne@canuckquilter.com.


If you are a pattern instant download fan, don't worry.  I am in the process of moving my online shop to Etsy, as they have more features to help me stay compliant with tax laws. I have all my full-length patterns listed and the shop is open for business. To celebrate this step forward, I'm having a sale! I hope you'll check it out and spread the word.

I'm off to to sew more snowflakes now...

**Update March 16, 2018:  I missed that the graphic I used here was missing the sale dates, so I am extending the sale to March 18th.  No coupon required.**