Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last finish of 2016!

Presenting Sparkling Trail, purple batik version!  I finished it with 7 hours to spare to call it a 2016 finish.  I made the quilt top in fall 2015, planning to finish it by New Year's,  and I really didn't want to tick over into 2017 with it unfinished again!

I struggled with how to quilt this.  I ripped out quilting, let it sit again, had someone else baste it for me in an attempt to move it forward (because I was highly unmotivated to baste it again - basting once per quilt is plenty, than you very much) and then let it sit a bit more while I waited for it to start talking.  It was quiet for an awfully long time but it finally started talking the day after Christmas.  Guess what I've been doing most of the week?

You're going to laugh.  I told my coworkers it was going to be simple, quick, light straight line stitching just to get it done.  That really was the plan until the quilt found its voice.  Maybe it considered that a threat and decided it should start expressing an opinion...

So as I was ditch stitching and outline stitching in the stars,  I planned to quilt a simple straight line echo of the "trail" in the background.  However, by the time I finished that, the quilt was suggesting that lines in a different direction behind the stars would really set off the planned echo.  That seemed a fair idea, so I quilted all those horizontal lines 1" apart behind the stars.  May I say that's where the "quick" part of my plan went out the door?

By the time I finished the straight line background, the quilt was suggesting perhaps it needed more curves to balance out all the sharp angles.  Swirls, perhaps.  I was a bit worried about that, since swirls is what I hated and ripped out the first time around.  Still, I chose a looser, hooked swirl (thank you Angela Walters, for the wonderful instructions in your books) and tried it on a small patch.  This fit the quilt much better than my first attempt almost a year ago, so I went ahead and filled in the remaining background with hooked swirls.

Once that was done, the stars looked too puffy.  They needed something to even out the quilting density betwen them and the background.  I leafed through Angela Walter's Shape-by-Shape book and settled on this hooked swirl/apostrophe thing.  She just called it "Diamond 8", and hers are much more curvy than mine, but I didn't do too badly.  The last few were definitely nicer than the first few I quilted!

The border at least was very quick to quilt.  I chose the "Boomerang" design from Melissa Marginet's book "Walking Foot Quilting Designs".  This lovely little book found its way under my Christmas tree and I was happy to put it to good use so soon.

I wish the picture of the full quilt showed the quilting better.  I might have to try again some morning to catch morning light.  In the meantime, this will do.  Either way, I can call the quilt done.

Except, oops, I forgot the label..

Linking up to Linky Tuesday on January 10th because I missed last week's!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tic Tac Who? pattern release!

Here it is! Tic Tac Who? is a pattern!
My Tic Tac Who pattern is now available for sale in my Payhip and Craftsy shops, and will be available to quilt shops through distributors sometime in January. 

The simple X blocks and plain squares are a perfect balance for the more involved focus blocks.  The focus blocks add just a touch of challenge, but don't require cutting any triangles or any paper piecing.  You can see versions with all three blocks in past posts:  duck, puppy and owl.

I owe a huge thank you to my wonderful testers, who volunteered to make blocks or a full quilt and offered lots of useful feedback.  I hope you will click through to view their versions on their blogs or Instagram.  I love seeing the designs come alive in different fabric choices!

Janet Olsen- Rogue Quilter
Andrée Faubert- Quilting and Learning
Lissa La Greca - Lovingly Lissa
 Marlene Scobbie - Cats and Capers

Sherill Pecere, Lorna Comeau and Elaine Williamson also tested for me.  Though I don't have links, I want you to see their work as well.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

Tree trimmed (including 2016's new ornament, made just under the wire last night)

Rudolph quilt deployed.

Cookies decorated (family effort)

Ragoût de poulet simmering. 

Tourtière ready to heat up. 

Table set. 

Dog watching for Santa (gotta watch those pesky reindeer!) 

We're ready for réveillon!
 (That's the French Canadian side of the family Christmas traditions.)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, from my family to yours!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

This and That

It has been a busy few weeks and though I emailed the winners of my giveaway I didn't get a blog post up recognizing them as I had planned.  Let me correct that oversight now.

Vicki of Vicki's Crafts and Quilting won a copy of Wandering Geese
Karen of KaHolly won a copy of Autumn Moons
Ariane of Ariane Quilts won a copy of Snow Dreams
Elively won a copy of Quilter's Scrapbook

So, what have I been up to?  There has been baking.  Here's the fruitcake fruit mixture bubbling on the stove, defying gravity, apparently.  Gotta love those sideways loading pictures.

I tried not making fruitcake last year and there were sad faces.  Yes, some people do like fruitcake!  Or maybe just this particular recipe.  In any case, those family members that requested it are getting some in their Christmas parcels this year.  My brother gets cookies too - though if I don't get them packaged and mailed soon there won't be any left to send in time for Christmas arrival!

There has been a bit of sewing.  I'm late to the party but I am finally making some of the microwaveable bowl cozies that became very popular a few years ago.  

My daughter tried the first one out in the microwave to heat up her lunch today, and it worked like a charm.  If you do make some, remember to use only 100% cotton materials, and only use them to reheat foods for a short amount of time.  Cotton will heat up in the microwave, and it will ignite if you leave it in long enough to get hot enough.  Heating up a bowl of soup or leftovers for a couple of minutes seems to work fine - but as with all cooking, don't leave it unattended!

There has also been work at the quilt shop, tweaking my Tic Tac Who? pattern to address suggestions by my kind, capable and very appreciated pattern testers, pondering a Block of the Month program using my snowflake blocks (stay tuned!)...and other stuff but I won't bore you with a whole list!  Just busy.

In between things, I have been working away cutting all the pieces for my daughter's Chic Country quilt.  It's slow going.  I got most of the squares and rectangles cut out, then decided to tweak things just a bit so needed to figure out how that affected my part counts.  I got that sorted out and moved on to cutting the curved pieces out of all the squares and rectangles. I think I'm about half done.

I'm hoping she won't have moved on to new favourite colours before this quilt is finished.  We picked out these fabrics last February!  Did I mention I plan to make this my next hand quilting project?  There is probably at least a year's worth of work still to go...