Monday, August 29, 2016

Stretch in PEI

Our road trip this summer was lovely, but I did wake up grumpy one morning.  My lovely husband knew just how to chase the grumpies away.  Before heading to our next campground, he made a detour to the Quilting B and More quilt shop in Charlottetown, PEI so I could pet some fabric. Yup, he's a keeper :)

While I was having a lovely chat with the shop owner, having some fabric cut and enjoying her lovely shop, my kids wandered around and my son took these pictures before finding me to report on their find.

In the middle:  Stretch runner shop sample
Any residual grumpiness flew right out the window.  That's my runner pattern, Stretch, right there on the pattern wall, and a shop sample too.  I'd be lying if I said that wasn't thrilling! 

This pattern is one of my favourites.  Just 6 fat quarters and 1/2 yard of fabric yield the top and pieced backing, and it works with any color scheme or seasonal theme.

Coincidentally, a version of Stretch was sitting on my sewing table when I left on vacation, waiting for me to come home to finish and send it off to my cousin Shawn and his new wife Sandra.  It has been safely delivered, so now I can share.


I left out the accent color and inner border on this one to make it match the colours on their wedding invitation.  I like how it turned out!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Spring Bloom Block Tutorial

After I posted pictures the spring blooms quilt I made last spring, I received a lot of requests for a block tutorial.  It's been slow coming, but here it is!

Fabric and Cutting

For a single 10" block you will need:

      4 - 4" squares assorted scraps (A) (I used different prints of one color)
      4 - 2" squares background (B)
      4 -  2" x 4"  background (C)
      4 - 2" x 5 1/2" background (D)
      4 - 2" squares green (E)

I made my flowers from scraps,  but I used just one fabric for all my block backgrounds to make the blooms float on the quilt.  It might be interesting to use a variety of neutral scraps for the background and see how that looks.  If you give that a try, please share a picture!

Pressing instructions

As much as possible, I plan my pressing so that seams will nest when I join units. I find my corners match better when I do this.  If you follow the pressing directions as given, you will be able to nest any seams that meet within the block, as well as when you join blocks together side by side without sashing.  I don't know about you, but I love it when that happens!

Piecing Instructions
1. Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of each 2" square (background and green).

2. Place a background square B on one corner of a color square A, right sides together.

3. Sew along the marked line. Cut the corner off 1/4" away from the sewn line. 

4. Fold background fabric back to fill corner.  Press.

5. Position the unit with the triangle at the top right corner.  Sew a background C on the right as shown. Press towards C.

6. Place a green square E on the right end of one background D, with the marked line starting at the top right corner.  Sew along the marked line.  (I find it works best to sew towards the corner rather than starting the seam in the corner. When I start at the corner there are even odds that the corner will get caught up in the needle plate.)

7. Cut the corner off 1/4" away from the sewn line.  Fold background fabric back to fill corner.  Press.

8.  Sew the DE unit to the ABC unit as shown.  Press towards the ABC unit.

9. The quarter block unit should measure 5 1/2" square. Repeat steps 2-9 to make 3 more units.

10. Join pairs of quarter blocks as shown.  Press seam to the side with the green triangle, as indicated by the white arrows in the picture below.

11. Join the two halves to complete the block.

12. Press half the seam towards the green triangle in that half of the seam.  Press the other half in the opposite direction, towards the green triangle in that half.  In the middle, on both sides of the center point, use your fingertips to push gently in the directions that you pressed.  This should open up the seam at the intersection of the four blocks into a little four-patch.  Press. 

You now have a completed Spring Bloom Block!

 Make a few more and decide whether to set them in a straight set or on point, with or without sashing. Just play and have fun with your Spring Blooms.  OK, it's currently late summer, not too long until fall, but if you start soon you can have them for next spring!

Update:  Go here to see what the on point layout would look like with color setting triangles!

This one has blocks set on point with no sashing.

Browse other Canuck Quilter Designs patterns here

Linking up with
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Friday, August 19, 2016

How I label my quilts

I've been asked recently how I label my quilts.

Answer #1:  Label my quilts?  Oops!  I missed that step on the last few, and more before that...

That earned me a lecture.

Answer#2:  When I do remember to label, I use a square of muslin folded into a triangle sewed into the back corner of the binding.

That answer earned a blank stare, so I thought I'd share a short tutorial.  I don't claim to have come up with this method. I've seen it in various places and I don't remember where I saw it first, but I really like its simplicity.  The simpler it is, the likelier I am to do it!

Start with a square of muslin or other light colored fabric and fold it in half diagonally, right side out, to form a triangle.  Press to get a crisp folded edge, and write whatever information you want to include on one side.  I usually include the name of the quilt, name of the pattern and designer, who made the top and who quilted it, and a date.  If it's a gift I might add a message to the recipient as well, or note the occasion.

The size of the square depends on how much you want to write on the label.  I usually err on the larger side and trim down if needed after I have written what I want to include, leaving at least a half inch beyond any writing, and keeping that bottom point nice and square (90 degrees).

Tuck the triangle into one corner of the quilt, on the back, matching raw edges.

Pin the label in place.  Pin and sew your binding to the front of the quilt as usual.  As you sew around the quilt to sew on the binding, the raw edges of the label will also be sewn to the quilt.

Turn the binding to the back and sew it down as usual.  You can also hand stitch the folded edge of the triangle to the backing if you wish.  (I say if you wish, because if you sew a triangle like this to both top corners of smaller quilts, they can be used as little pockets to slip the ends of a hanging rod into.)

There you go.  A nice, tidy, easy label.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Small element, big difference

Isn't it funny how a small thing can make a huge difference? I've had a love-hate relationship with this little quilt.

I loved my fabric choices and loved making the blocks.  I hated the way the fabrics played together IN the blocks. (Blocks are from "Chic Sisters" by Sew Kind of Wonderful.)

The pinwheels didn't pop as much as I had hoped. The white and grey prints seemed to disappear where they met the light aqua and yellow.  These blocks were supposed to be joined to make a table runner for a shop sample, but I thought it just looked like a busy mess.

I toyed with a square layout, and tried to figure out what to put in the middle.  Another pinwheel? An applique? An hourglass block?  In the end the blocks sat in a drawer for a few months.

Over the summer I wasn't very inspired to sew.  It wasn't just because summer activities beckoned.  I just couldn't think of anything that I really wanted to work on, and there were no ideas at all percolating in my brain.  At the same time I missed sewing. I finally decided I needed to just push through and finish a few things and see if "clearing the decks" would spark a bit of inspiration.  This project definitely needed to be "cleared"!

My boss at the shop suggested a 3 x 4 block setting with some sort of diagonal element tying the two halves together, so I played around with a few layouts, with different shapes to fill in the extra 4 blocks.  What I came up with was OK, so I sewed it up. Next I struggled to decide what to quilt.  I wanted something simple that wouldn't compete with the pinwheels.

You can guess that I used my trusty walking foot again.  My first thought was to quilt parallel vertical lines top to bottom, but in the end I decided the quilt needed a little something more so I switched to horizontal lines behind the light pinwheels on the teal/yellow background. Then just a wee bit more: how about diagonal lines in the yellow slash?

By this time I was liking the quilt a bit more, but still wasn't excited about it. I had planned to use "faux piped binding" to bind, just to add a little something extra to a borderless quilt.  The tutorial gave me a wider binding than I usually use and it ended up covering up points on the edge of the quilt.  At 10:30 pm, I was frustrated, back to the "hate" part of the relationship, and I took out the seam ripper to take it off, trim the binding to a narrower width and sew it back on.  But, at 10:31 pm I decided ripping could wait until morning and I went to bed.

In the morning, rested and refreshed, here's what I noticed:

Cute kitty cat faces peeking over the edge of the quilt.  Oh yes!  The binding stayed just as it was!  Those cut off points were really not central to the quilt design anyway.  They were just part of the background.

And there we go.  The kitty cat binding saved the quilt.  It was just the right width and cuteness to pull it all together for me.  I'm back to "love"!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Why is it August already?  Did time steal a few days (weeks)?  I guess I've been too busy enjoying summer and family to notice the time go by.  But it is in fact August.  The profusion of blooming Black-eyed Susans in my gardens proves it.

Black-eyed Susans:  my reliable August bloomers

We made a lovely road trip back to Canada, swinging through southern Ontario, then through Qu├ębec on our way to family in New Brunswick, and since we were up there we thought we might as well go on up to Prince Edward Island since the kids had never been there.  DS got to visit the Stanley Cup in Toronto, DD enjoyed Green Gables and the Anne of Green Gables musical in Charlottetown and DH and I enjoyed the unplugged family time.  I won't give you a stop-by-stop review of our trip.  I'll just say it was fabulous.

Back in the sewing room, I have been uninspired so I worked on clearing my small pile of UFOs.  To start, I finally sewed the binding onto my very yellow quilt and it is now on my bed. I added pillow cases to match.

I like it and DH likes it, but now I have a "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" situation.  (That's a great kids's book, for those of you who haven't had the pleasure!)  The quilt looks great, but the blue walls don't go as well as I thought they would, so I need to repaint.  The blue wall hanging won't look great against the new paint, so maybe I'm thinking about a new quilt for that wall.  Then of course the blue runner on the dresser will be the only touch of blue so maybe that will need to be replaced too... I'll keep the pooch though!

I made a quick little purse to replace my previous one, which had a frayed strap and holes in the corners. It was time!  I'm a fan of small purses, just big enough to carry my wallet, phone and keys, and I like them to have a cross-body strap so I don't set the purse down somewhere and walk away without it.

New purse

I also finished up a variation of Sew Kind of Wonderful's  "Chic Sisters" pattern.  Last spring I offered to make shop samples using the Quick Curve Ruler for the shop where I work. I finished the runner and table topper a couple of months ago, but this Chic Sisters one stalled at the block stage.  My boss didn't want the full quilt, just something to show the curved blocks.  The original plan was to make a runner, but the blocks didn't pop in that so they just sat for months. We finally decided to turn them into a baby quilt, I played around with a couple of layouts, and I finally have a finish. Looking at my pictures I see that most didn't turn out very well, so I'll leave you with a small taste and go take more pictures to share tomorrow.