Sunday, December 27, 2015

I hate it when that happens

I was happily getting the hang of freemotion hooked swirls again and thinking I might get the quilt quilted this afternoon.  My stitch length is not even, but overall the quilt looks good, I think.

Then I tried to smooth out the next section to quilt and couldn’t.  Uh oh.  I didn’t, did I?  Humbug! Yes, I did.

I failed to notice the side of the quilt sandwich sneaking under the quilt and I sewed it to the back of the quilt. At least I noticed before too many more stitches were made, so I don’t have too much reverse sewing to do!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Because the project list was too short?

I’m in the middle of quilting a tree skirt (newsflash: it won’t under this year’s tree!), also halfway through quilting the blue snowflake quilt, and I have two other tops I planned to quilt before the end of 2015, and I’m very close to finishing hand quilting my son’s quilt.

So of course I had to go work on something completely new!

Not sure why some photos are insisting on loading sideways...

 My current Christmas placemats were beginning to look a bit the worse for wear, so I bought this pretty poinsettia print last month to make some new ones.  It just sat around decorating my sewing room for the season until I decided how to use it, then sat around a little longer while I pondered what fabric to pair it with.

I settled on the 10-minute table runner (you can do a search for that and find lots of tutorials) though it took me longer than 10 minutes to make.  I added trim between the borders and the center, and top stitching to help keep seams flat after washing.  Still quick, but it took longer than I anticipated.  Then again, what doesn’t?

I wanted the poinsettia print to do most of the work in the placemats, and I wanted to use the other two fabrics from the runner to tie in to the runner.  Here’s what I came up with:

I took notes and pictures to remember how to make them again and to share the process here.

Christmas Placemat Tutorial

For each placemat I used:
  • 1 – 13” x 18.5” rectangle of poinsettia print
  • 1 – 13” x 18.5” rectangle of backing fabric
  • 1 – 2” x 14” strip of gold for the diagonal strip
  • 2 – 3/4” x 14” strips of striped accent fabric 

Step 1. Sew one accent strip to each side of the gold strip.  (I missed a picture of this, sorry!).  Press the seams towards the accent strips.

Step 2. Measure and mark 9 1/4” from the top left corner along the top and left side of the print rectangle, then cut from one mark to the other.

Step 3.  Sew the gold strip set to the largest print piece, centering it along the diagonal cut.  Open and press the seam towards the print.

Step 4.  Sew the print triangle to the other side of the gold strip set, matching centers.  Press the seam towards the print.

Step 5.  Trim the piece back into a rectangle measuring 13” x 18.5”".  The top of your placemat is finished.

Step 6.   I wanted my placemats to be thin to layer over a tablecloth, so I chose not to add batting to quilt them. I also didn’t want to use binding, so I finished the placemats by sewing the front and back together right sides together all around the sides, leaving an opening on one side, then turning the piece right side out through the opening.  I clipped the corners of the seam allowance to reduce bulk in the corners.

**If you want to add batting, layer batting, then backing (right side up), then top (wrong side up) and proceed as in step 6. **

Step 7.  Press placemat, making crisp edges all around and pressing the fabric in the side opening to match.  Top stitch about 1/8” from the edge all around the placemat.  This will close the opening as well as keep the edges pressed when you wash the placemats.

Step 8. Top stitch in the ditch between the thin accent strips and the gold, and between the accent strips and the poinsettia print.  This will help the seams stay flat when you wash the placemats.

That’s it!  Now I need to go fill a few plates with Christmas goodies to set on the Christmas placemats!  I need to go find the greenery and candle centerpiece too…

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Seedheads fabric

This fall Clothworks, a fabric manufacturer, approached me about using my pattern Geese Across the Table in a project sheet for their new fabric line “Seedheads” by Cary Phillips. The fabric will be shipping to stores by February, with my placemats and runner as suggested projects!  Take a look:

Pretty fabric, isn’t it? And doesn’t the pattern work well with it?  I haven’t found a fabric yet that didn’t work with these placemats and runner!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Finished flimsies

I went to a two day retreat this weekend and purposely brought projects that were almost done so I could have the satisfaction of finishing something.  Plus, with nothing else to work on I couldn’t procrastinate on the steps I don’t enjoy, like adding borders.

Project #1, which ate up a little over half of the first day, was in fact not almost done, but it was small and involved cuddle (Minky-like) fabric and was started and successfully finished.  I can’t show you the finished product until after Christmas on the off-chance that a particular someone might stumble onto this post.

Project #2 will look familiar.


I planned to add a final narrow blue border but decided the white finished it just fine, like icicles hanging off the binding.  I had pretty much decided this before I polled the other ladies at the retreat and they unanimously panned the extra blue as well.  Just quilt and bind in white, they said.  OK, done!  This top is about 48” x 60”.

I think the only glimpse of Project #3 on the blog so far has been a picture of the fabrics.


The colors aren’t showing up well here thanks to the poor lighting.  The colors are bright and crisp and really pop.  The pattern is “1 in a Minion” by Paula Stoddard from the Sept./Oct. 2015 issue of Quiltmaker magazine.

I had pieced the outside borders several weeks ago but procrastinated when the time came to cut the panel down to size, so having nothing else left to work on at the retreat was a good thing.  It really wasn’t a big deal once I started!  Some of the ladies thought I had pieced the borders that day…. Should I have let them believe that?

IMG_9565On day 2, I worked exclusively on Project #4, but I have no new pictures.  It’s the yellow/grey/black starry confection I last worked on in May.  I spent a ridiculous amount of time on Saturday trying to preplan how to press seams so they would nest at a later step…and I should have waited till I was home and could make use of the design wall to really see what would meet where.  I had it on paper but I messed up.  Oh well.  The pieced setting triangles are now all pieced, even if the seams might not nest just so, and I have all the pieces cut for the last 4 blocks I need to make this a queen size.

I even found a fat quarter of the light gray fabric I was bit short of.  I bought the fabric months ago, and got that awful sinking feeling when I couldn’t find the bolt anymore.  I had seen it very recently too, which made it frustrating.  If it had been for a different part of the quilt I could have substituted something else, but this one had to match. I’m so glad someone suggested the FQ bins.  If a bolt is almost empty, the shop turns the remaining fabric into fat quarters.  I’ll remember that from now on!

That’s it for now.  I need to get the last two borders on the fall quilt so I can show you that as well, then I need to start quilting some tops.  They are starting to pile up…but the piecing UFO pile is shrinking!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I had a burst of activity to reimagine my snowflake quilt over two weeks ago, then the borders slowed me down just like the windrow at the bottom of a driveway after the snowplow goes by.


It looks OK in this photo, but in full scale that inner white border wasn’t working.  Try again.


I took the white border out and proceeded full speed ahead, sewing blue borders before the pieced border.  Hmm.  Not quite right either.  You can’t see it in this photo, but the aspect ratio of the blue center with blue borders was off, and made the snowflakes look lost on the background.

OK fine, how about a skinnier inner white border than the one I tried initially?


I didn’t sew anything on this time.  It’s all just clinging to the design wall.  It’s better, but still not quite right.


Close!  I think the final product may look very much like this. I just need to tweak the border widths.  I need the plain borders to add up to the right width to make the pieced border fit.

First, I’m off to the kitchen to put some Christmas cookies in the oven.  I need energy to tackle these borders!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I underestimated, again

Yes, yet again, I have grossly underestimated how long it would take me to hand quilt something.  When Deb issued a friendly challenge to pick a project to finish by the end of November, I picked my kaleidoscope quilt.  I thought it was close enough to a finish to be possible.  As you can see from my progress chart, I’m not going to make it!


I have been working on it diligently since I took Deb up on the challenge, much more so than before, so there is actual progress now even if it doesn’t look like much.  I’m just slow, and the quilting lines are less than 1 1/2” apart.  But, since I am working on the quilt regularly thanks to the challenge, I will say the challenge is serving its purpose even if I don’t quite meet it.


My new goal is to be able to wrap it and put it under the Christmas tree.  So, time to get off the computer and go settle in my quilting chair.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Throwing fabric around

Yesterday I felt like I was playing a version of the cooked spaghetti game.  You know, the one where you throw a strand of spaghetti at the wall and if it sticks, it’s done. No, I don’t do this with spaghetti anymore though  do admit I tried it when I learned to cook, just to see if it was true. Yesterday’s version was to throw fabric at the wall and see what stuck. 

IMG_0132I pulled out my blue drunkard’s path units and snowflakes, determined to get this project to the finished top stage.  I got all those units up on the wall and finally, after almost a year of struggling with this idea, admitted that some ideas just don’t work.  It was a wonderful feeling to just let it go.

(Hmm, letting go and snowflakes.  Maybe I should have had the Frozen soundtrack playing in the background.)

Anyway, all those drunkard’s path units were neatly stacked for some future undetermined project, and the contents of the blue fabric bin came out, definitely not neatly stacked.  I cut big squares and little squares and stuck them to the wall, and cut more, and removed some and cut again, and put some back.  This was not a tidy process.

This is not my usual process to pull a quilt together.  I usually have a plan, and I don’t cut into fabric until I know precisely where and how I plan to use it, because I don’t want to waste any.  Maybe months of frustration with the now-discarded plan freed me to just cut with abandon, but whatever the cause, it’s what I needed to do for this one.

It doesn’t look like much right now.  Sewing up the seams will help, and looking at the picture I can see a few patches I need to move around.  However, it is closer to being a finished top than it has ever been.  And wait till you see what I have planned for the borders!  Those should pull everything together.  I hope.  It looks good in EQ, but then my whole drunkard’s path idea also looked fabulous in EQ…  Sometimes the look and feel of a design in a small scale drawing doesn’t translate well to actual quilt size.  I’ll just have to make it and see what happens!

PS:  Mom, I’ll post the fall quilt top soon, I promise.  I just need to add the top and bottom borders.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Yes, they go together!

Yes, the leaves and zigzags from my last post both belong in the same quilt.


Hmm.  Three posts about this in 8 days.  You might think I am excited about this one, and you would be right!  The design has been simmering for a long time, though not in these colours, and not necessarily with leaves in the blocks. When those details popped into my head last month everything fell into place.

I had planned to get the tree skirts quilted and their pattern written before jumping into this project, but I just couldn’t wait that long. I haven’t been this excited about a project in a long time and it feels great!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Extending the fall colour show

The squirrel is taking shape quite nicely.  I’m really enjoying these saturated colours, especially since the trees have almost all dropped theirs by now.  I’m extending the fall colour show a little longer in my sewing corner.



I goofed calculating my measurements for the black or I would have finished he top by now.  It’s really coming together quickly.

I also made a bit of progress machine quilting the large snowflake tree skirt, and I've progressed to quilting the borders on the hand quilted kaleidoscope quilt. Not a bad showing for this week so far. 

Friday, October 30, 2015


You know how a dog can seem perfectly happy then see a squirrel and any other thought flies out of its head, replaced by “Must chase squirrel!!!!”?

Here’s my squirrel today.


It really needed chasing.  I tried really hard to stay focused but then my green thread ran out while I was quilting the tree skirt and I gave in and started cutting into the project I really wanted to be chasing.

Don’t worry, focused hand quilting will continue in the evenings!

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I’ve been going in too many different directions lately and mentioned to my blogging friend Deb that I had too many ideas/projects and couldn’t focus.  She promptly challenged me to pick one project to get done by the end of November, and she would do the same. 

Oh boy.  How to choose?  In the end I settled on finishing my son’s next bed quilt.  If you’ve been following a while you’ll know it’s been in the works for a long time.  The piecing went pretty quickly, but the hand quilting has been accomplished in fits and starts over starting in May 2014.  It’s time to get it done!


As you can see, it just needs one more little push.  The center has about 3 evenings of work left, then it’s all borders, with very simple quilting planned.

Here’s the thing about hand quilting.  I love the look of it.  I love the quiet stitching when I’m doing it.  I just have trouble making that quiet “me” time, away from computers and designs and patterns in progress, a priority.  So, thank you Deb for prodding me in that healthy direction!

As a bonus, my son’s smile is growing wider every time he sees me sit with his quilt and it gets closer to being done.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

It couldn’t be avoided


Minions!  I tried to talk myself out of bringing some home, but somehow they are here.  I have the panel too, so I can make the Minion quilt from the Sept/Oct 2015 issue of Quiltmaker.

I need a quick, just for fun project and this fits the bill.  The fabric is already all cut up, ready to toss on the design wall tomorrow and then I can just spend a few hours sewing.  The only stressful thing about this one will be mediating who gets to use it when we all sit down to watch a movie together!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Got my sewing fix

I started going into sewing withdrawal the first part of October.  It hadn’t been terribly long since I sewed, but it felt like it as other things needed attention.  The last few days I sewed and blithely ignored anything else.  Ahh!  I feel better now!


This isn’t what I planned top work on, but after teaching a class on this quilt I put all the pieces up on my design wall.  They sat there all week and I finally decided to just sew the top since the pieces were all laid out already.   I didn’t really feel like it, as I have made a few versions of this already, but by the time I had a few rows together I was excited about the quilt again.  It is too purple for at least one member of the family, but I like how it is turning out!  I will add a 1/2” border from scraps of the blue/green stars, and finish up with a wider border of purple scraps.

I think it will make a fine new cover quilt for my Sparkling Trail pattern.  The current cover quilt in red and green makes people think it is a Christmas quilt.  That’s perfectly OK, but it can be so much more!  (Remember the 1930’s prints version, and the elegant black and red one? And of course, the original, the string version) I’m also thinking about doping a negative version, with assorted “modern” prints in the background and “low volume” text prints in the stars.  I have my eye on Moda’s Modern Backgounds at the shop…

First, there’s a new fall quilt in the making.  I popped into the shop on my way home from doing groceries yesterday.  I thought it would be a quick visit because I thought I knew just what I wanted.  Hmm.  I came out with fabric for 2 quilts and pushed the limit on how long the groceries could keep in the car.  I think everything is still safe to eat.  Thank goodness I had the good sense to not buy ice cream!

Friday, October 9, 2015

New-to-me colour

Working in the quilt shop has encouraged me to stretch a little bit in the colours I use.  Half the floor space at the Quilting Connection is dedicated to fabrics grouped by colour, plus batiks.  It’s my favourite side of the store, but somehow I always gravitated to the same part.  There is a lot of blue in my stash!

A few weeks ago a customer requested help choosing purple, blue and green.  Lots of purples and just a few light blues and greens.  Yum!  Those colours stacked together on her cart looked scrumptious.


This isn’t her collection, but when I needed fabric for the class I am teaching on Saturday, I headed for the purple, blue and green batiks.  I’m going to cut some up today, more in class tomorrow to demonstrate cutting 60 degree angle, and start putting together another version of Sparkling Trail as I teach how to make it.  We’ll see how I do with purples!

Next up, yellows and orange, unless my daughter changes her mind about what she would like in her next quilt!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Snowed under again

I suppose that could imply snowstorms, but it’s still a little early for those.  It could mean that my list of things that need doing is looking a bit overwhelming.  That’s a bit closer to the truth.  OK, that’s pretty accurate right now!  However, what I meant is that snowflakes are back in my sewing room.  They arrived a bit earlier than last year.

You already had a peek at Snowflake Tree Skirt #1.  I decided to add borders after all. People can just add fewer borders if they need it smaller.


The metallic gold fabric looks prettier in person.  I’m not usually a huge fan of sparkly stuff and metallic fabric, but I make an exception for Christmas!

IMG_0079Now I have this little stack of fabric waiting by the sewing machine.  I have to see this in Christmassy red too!  In addition to that motivation I want to see how the measuring works out using smaller snowflake blocks.  If the measurements for the setting pieces are not too fiddly (like sixteenths of an inch, for example)  I could include a smaller size option in the pattern, for a tiny tree or as a table topper.  However, I need to test it before I commit to it in a pattern.  Oh darn, more sewing!

That’s not enough.  Before I settled on this layout I was playing around with the snowflake blocks, and dismissed this idea because it would be too small for a tree skirt.  Now that I am thinking smaller tree or table topper, I think I might revisit it…


And how would it look with some of my other snowflake designs

And I still plan to do something with Winter Moons.

And I really want to work on a project that doesn’t involve paper piecing!  This one is patiently waiting…

And I really really need to make progress finish hand quilting my son’s kaleidoscope quilt.  It’s cooling off in the evenings again so that is sounding more appealing.

How do I order extra hours for each day?  In there an online shop for those?