Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Starlit Picnic Finish!

Just a quick post to share the finished quilt. After sharing so many progress posts about Starlit Picnic, (see my earlier posts here, here and here) I almost forgot to show you the finished quilt.  While I shared on Facebook and Instagram quickly from my phone, I needed to be at my computer to write a blog post.  I may have become distracted by new designs when I sat down at the computer...but that's another post.

Here it is: Starlit Picnic!

As you can see, after much deliberation, I chose a scrappy bright green binding.  Well, after much deliberation, there really wasn't much choice after all, as it turned out my stash couldn't cough up enough of the blue to match the binding to the border.  The bin of bright green scraps was more obliging.  You might be able to make out the different prints in the binding in the photo below.


One more picture because this quilt just makes me happy.



Now I'm inspired to finish up a few more UFOs...as soon as I decide which one inspires me most at the moment. Does a finish inspire you to move on to something else right away, or do you take a break before the next project?

Happy quilting,
Joanne

Get the Starlit Picnic pattern as a PDF download in my Etsy shop, or ask for a print copy at your favourite quilt shop.  Shops, please visit my website for wholesale information or find my patterns at distributors Checker, Brewer or E.E. Schenck . 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Party Crackers reveal

The Baroque collection from Island Batik is shipping to stores this month, so I can finally share two projects I've had under wraps since early this year.

First up is Party Crackers.


I just love this one. It's been hard to keep it to myself for months.  First, this landed on my front step, courtesy of Island Batik, and I had to ooh and ahh in private.  I particularly love the 1st, 2nd and 4th fabrics in the photo below.  The photo doesn't do the lightest fabric justice. It has really pretty blue and purple accents washing through it.

Since I couldn't share anyway,  I didn't take many process pictures.  I have no pictures of all the stitch-and-flip sewing and trimming, or chain stitching, or blocks.  We magically jump from yardage to quilt!  Look at those gorgeous colours!


All the angles and points in this quilt are made with stitch-and-flip corners, so despite all the angles, you only need to cut squares and rectangles from the fabrics.  

The stars in the center of each block are my favourite floating stars. Because they're designed to avoid any risk of cut-off points, they're the most stress-free star block I have made.


I'm limited to outside photos on my deck at the moment.  While in the past I used to roam the yard and take pictures over various fences and posts with flowerbeds in the background and foreground, I'm afraid that's not working this year.  First, it's been very dry and things are looking a little brown and stressed.  Worse, the yard has been invaded by chiggers.  Nasty little microscopic bugs, leaving super nasty itchy welts where they have crawled under clothing.  I'll leave it to your imagination.  I'm just not enjoying my yard this year.  Good thing I still have the quilting room when I need a retreat!

How did your yard fare this summer? Did you escape to the great outdoors, or escape from the great outdoors to your quilting room?

Happy quilting,

Joanne

Get your copy of the Party Crackers pattern as a PDF download in my Etsy shop, or ask for a printed copy at your favourite quilt shop.  Shops, please see my wholesale page for wholesale information or find the pattern at distributors CheckerEE Schenck or Brewer

Monday, September 12, 2022

Progress on the 2020 Temperature Quilt backing

As I wrote in this post last December, I gave up on paper piecing numbers for the color key on the back of my 2020 Temperature Quilt.  I didn't care enough about this backing to spend quite so much time on it.  I decided to just use the colours, and skip adding any extra information to the back.

2020 Temperature Quilt

Having made the decision to skip the numbers so I could move the project forward more quickly, you might think I would have a finished quilt to show.  The fact that I don't is a pretty clear sign that I wasn't happy to leave numbers out after all.  I just had to figure out a different way to add them. 

It's been nine months, but inspiration finally struck.  I don't have an embroidery machine, and no inclination to hand embroider, but I can freemotion quilt the numbers.

I have quilted letters into a quilt top in the past.  As I did then, I printed the numbers in a very large font (I think these were about size 250) to make a template.  You can see I printed out a few different fonts to audition them.  I'm afraid I forgot to note what fonts these were and I didn't save the file.  Oops!

This time, I chose to cut out the numbers and trace around them onto the fabric instead of stitching through the paper template and tearing it away afterwards.  I used a SewLine mechanical pencil with a ceramic lead.  It's erasable and water soluble so if my FMQ stitching doesn't quite cover the lines (I can pretty much guarantee it won't) I can erase what shows.

My challenge here was that I needed these on the back of the quilt, but quilting through all the layers would result in backward numbers in random places on the front.  My solution was to quilt these onto the backing before layering the quilt. I had scraps of thin Thermore batting, so I cut small pieces of that to place behind the numbers, then stitched through the backing and batting, outlining the traced numbers.

You can see I didn't manage to stitch perfectly on the traced lines, but who will know once I erase the markings?  I also see a bit of thread build-up in places where I started and stopped, but I can live with that in this quilt quilt.  I just want it finished!

The Thermore batting is fairly thin, so I'm counting on it not causing extra puffing in assorted spots in the quilt when I sandwich and quilt the whole quilt.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

I have a few more numbers to quilt before I get to the sandwiching part, but it shouldn't take long. I really thought I'd finish the numbers last night, but when a thread nest developed halfway through, I took it as a sign it was time for bed.

I think I'll have time to finish these numbers tomorrow.  Hopefully, the sandwiching and quilting after that won't take vey long.  Do I dare announce an expected reveal date, or would that be a jinx?

Happy quilting,

Joanne

Friday, September 9, 2022

Is this early or late?

Is it too early to share a Christmas project? 

Actually, this share is really late, as I pieced this quilt in October 2021.  I spent some time yesterday sorting through photos on my phone, and found quite a few things I have neglected to share.  Festive Lanterns was one.

This project began with the Winter Wonders collection from Island Batik.  


It involved a fair bit of stitch-and-flip sewing and the resulting corner trimming.


According to the next photo, found among the rest, it seems I needed to do a little seam ripping along the way.  I dimly recall sewing a square to the wrong corner of the block.  I started sewing on automatic pilot and wasn't paying enough attention.  I'm glad I wasn't quite on automatic when I was trimming, so I caught my mistake before I trimmed.


From cutting fabric to finishing the top only took five days.


Christmas blew past before this got quilted.  In March I finally admitted I didn't have time to quilt it myself and sent it out to Liz Meimann with a few others so I would have a finished quilt to share around the time this fabric shipped to stores.

Right.  Well, I fell down on the job with that.  I had a quilt to share but I forgot to share it.  I'm a couple of months late.  I think it was being shipped and promoted in July or August.

Getting a decent photo inside over the winter and early spring was a challenge.  Here's my attempt at "artful drape".


It does show off some of the prints nicely.  The pattern, I Spy Lanterns, was designed to showcase medium to large size prints.

In mid-summer I headed out to my deck for a second photo shoot.



I have made two other very different versions of I Spy Lanterns, and I planned to share links to those other version, but I can't fins any links.  It looks like I didn't share those either!  Here you go, just a quick look:




I really need to quilt the last version.  It's too pretty to stay a top forever.

I'm off to sort through more photos.  Camera phones and cheap memory results in a ridiculous number of pictures! I suspect I'll find a few more things I didn't get around to sharing earlier.  Stay tuned!

Happy quilting,
Joanne


The I Spy Lanterns pattern is available as a PDF download in my Etsy shop, or you can ask for a printed copy at your favourite quilt shop.  Shops, please see my wholesale page for wholesale information or find the pattern at distributors Checker or EE Schenck.

Friday, September 2, 2022

Quilting the border

Starlit Picnic is almost ready for a photo shoot.  I just finished quilting the border and just need to choose a binding.


Though I had planned to continue grid quilting in the borders, I hesitated.  That was a clue that perhaps it wasn't the right choice.  After much pondering, I decided more grid quilting might be a bit too heavy. 

 I considered some ruler work, but my machine isn't liking that right now, skipping stitches when I quilt in a few different directions.  Hopefully a visit to the sewing machine spa will take care of that problem, but I couldn't wait that long to finish this quilt.

When I looked though Melissa Marginet's book Walking Foot Quilting Designs for inspiration, a square cable design caught my eye.  It till seemed too grid-like, but it did get me thinking about cables.  I looked through my small collection of rarely used quilting stencils and I actually had one that would fit the space.  I also like that the points in the cable tie in to the points in the stars.


I had to add some straight line frames to fill in the width of he border.  Repeating the spacing from the sashing quilting did the trick and also tied the border quilting to the rest of the quilting.  Just like I planned it!

Figuring out how to adjust the pattern repeat as I traced the stencil almost brought this plan to a halt, but walking away, having a good meal, and coming back to it worked wonders.  When I got back to it, I found my math was right after all and I got the cables to go around the corner properly and everything.  I'm still not sure what I was doing wrong on my first try.

I quilted this cable with my walking foot, in four passes around the quilt.  I'm so pleased with how it looks!

Now, should I bind in the same blue as the border, or with a bright green scrappy binding?  I had planned the green, but I wonder if that will look good with the cable.  I suppose Step 1 is to check if I have enough of the blue.  I might have to go with bright green by default.    



Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Quilting is taking forever

Why does it always take longer than I expect to quilt a quilt?  Honestly, I think even if I doubled my estimate, the actual time would expand to double that number.  It's just how things are.

I basted Starlit Picnic on Friday, and was sure I'd have it quilted by Sunday night.  Despite spending a large part of the weekend and most of yesterday quilting it, I don't foresee a finish until tomorrow evening at the earliest. 


I suppose it's taking so long because I'm quilting more densely than I usually do.  I had planned light quilting, as that's my preference.  First I stitched straight lines up and down and across in the ditch of the squares.  That looked a little underdressed, so I added more lines in the sashing, 1/4" from the squares.


That dressed up the background/sashing quite nicely, but look at the puffiness in those squares.  That's what happens when some areas are quilted more densely than others.  Sometimes that's a fine design element, but in this case it just looked messy and unfinished.

While we're on that topic, why is it that uneven quilting density makes less densely quilted areas puff in the top, but everything is perfectly flat on the back?  I'm stumped.  Please share your theory!


Moving right along...  Adding additional lines marching through the squares helped reduce the puffiness.  The size of these squares doesn't lend itself to neatly dividing into three equal parts, so I didn't try.  I focused on symmetry instead.  I think this turned out pretty well.  Overall, the effect of all the lines intersecting in the sashing and in the squares reminds me of a plaid pattern.  

The star needed dense quilting to match so I stitched in the ditch around it and filled in with crosshatching.  I thought that echoed the gridwork in the rest of the quilt, but I put it on the diagonal to add a little contrast and interest.  I'm still on the fence about the background of the star.  I considered outline quilting 1/4" outside the shape, but now I'm leaning towards just leaving it.  

I have 10 more stars to quilt, then I'll need to figure out the border quilting.  

This will be the cover quilt for my new Starlit Picnic pattern.  I had planned to release it this week, but I need a cover photo first, which means it's all on hold until I finish quilting and have a finished quilt to photograph. I need to step away from the computer and towards the sewing machine now!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Quilt Top or Quilt Back?

I've hit a small snag.  That quilt backing I was making in my previous post?  I think it wants to be a quilt top.


This is actually a little bit funny, because by Friday evening I hated what I had so far and I wasn't convinced I should keep going, even if I hid it on the back of the quilt.  It was just too busy for me.  If I didn't even like it as a back, I certainly wasn't considering it as a top!

I think I started coming around when I discovered I had enough scraps of that blue swirly fabric to go around the jumbled center.  I think that visually calmed the center.  Finding enough darker scraps to piece into a border to frame everything pulled it all together.  I really like it!

Now, I need to make a decision.  Do I abandon my challenge to not buy anything to make the original quilt, or do I head to the quilt shop and buy backing for not one, but two quilts?

What would you do?

Joanne

Friday, August 5, 2022

Scraps and stash

I have a new pattern coming out in September (at least, that's the plan).  I challenged myself to make the cover quilt entirely from my stash.


I don't have a lot of yardage in my stash.  I mostly have leftovers from previous projects, usually no more than half a yard of any one fabric, so my options for the background/sashing were limited.  It turned out the blue you see above, and the white I ended up using for the stars, were the only fabrics I had enough of to make the sashing and borders.  I liked the pop of white stars on blue, so I was good to go for the stars and background.

My original thought was to delve into all the colour bins for the squares, but it was just too loud.  I think all the colours would have been fine against white or black, but with the blue it just was an assault on my eyes.  My daughter helped me narrow down the colour palette.  It's still bright and scrappy but a little bit more controlled.

I finished the quilt top over the weekend and turned my thoughts to the backing.  I turned to the overflowing blue bin for that.  To add more interest I also sorted through my bin of orphan blocks and pulled out any blocks and assorted spare parts in blue, green and yellow to match the front of the quilt.  Some of these bits and pieces have been in the bin for years "just in case" I could use them someday.  Someday has arrived!


I cut up some leftover strips sets and mashed them up with some HST to make new blocks from small parts.


Some small parts were strung together into new elements, and some were sewn to blocks to make larger sections.


Next, I'll start adding blue scraps to one or more sides of blocks and sections.  My strategy is to build up parts to one or two common widths, then sew them in rows or columns.

I'm starting to get an idea what this frankenback is going to look like.  It would be easier with a design wall.  I had one of those, just batting tacked to the wall, but something started growing on it. I'm not sure what it was or why it appeared after the batting had been on the wall and doing fine for years, but that piece of batting headed to the trash.  I haven't replaced it yet and was using the floor.  However, while my son is between apartments for a couple of weeks, all his worldly belongings are stacked in half of my studio.  He has more stuff than I thought, and it's taking up my design floor!

I'm going to spend the rest of the day happily stitching and laying things out in a smaller patch of floor.  I'll report back when I have a completed backing to share.

How do you feel about pieced backings?  Love them or not?  Too time consuming? Intimidating? A fun creative challenge?  Let me know in the comments, and please feel free to share any backing tips!

Happy quilting,

Joanne

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Quilting plans not set in stone

 My fall Island Batik version of Glacial is finally quilted, bound and gorgeous!  

I dragged my feet with this one, unsure of how to quilt it.  

I strongly considered a Baptist fan all-over design using quilting rulers, but I've been having trouble with ruler quilting.  My machine just insists on skipping stitches and it's driving me batty.  My machine uses the same settings for ruler quilting as for FMQ, and I can FMQ just fine, and ruler quilting used to be fine too, so I don't know what's going on.  I just don't have time or inclination to figure it out right now so I ditched the ruler quilting plan.

Plan B was to do a lot of walking foot quilting.  I was foggy on the details, so I started by stitching in the ditch.  I find stitching in the ditch to be a little bit like outlining when I'm colouring.  It adds a little bit of definition and polish.  In quilting there's the added bonus that as I stitch in the ditch, other ideas often start flowing.  By the time I was done with that I was still foggy about how to quilt the blocks but I had a firm plan for the background, so I worked on that next.  Generally, I prefer to quilt from the center out, but I figured with all the stitching in the ditch, things were pretty stable already so I went ahead and quilted the borders before the blocks.


I worried a bit when I saw how puffy the blocks looked after quilting the sides, but quilting in the puffy areas worked out just fine once I evened out the quilting density in the blocks with the density in the borders.

I had planned to keep the quilting simple, quilting two lines echoing the right angles of all the shapes, to mimic the quilting density in the border.  At the last minute I decided to run the lines from edge to edge so they would cross in the corners to add a  little interest.  Quilting a second set of lines 1/4" from the first set added interest and dressed things up a little.  It's still simple, just a tiny bit more fancy.  I did the same in the corner square.


Quilting came to a standstill while I pondered what to do in the middle section of the block.  Straight lines had been the plan, but at this point I wondered if more straight lines would be too monotonous.  In a facebook post, many people suggested curves.  I was conflicted.  I have trouble being consistent with my FMQ curves, and as I explained early, my rulers were not an option.  Considering the fall colors, I considered quilting a leaf and swirls, sewing through a paper template to help me stay consistent.


Not bad on the back.


Looks like a scribble on the front.  It just disappeared into the print.  The result just didn't justify the effort involved.

How about wavy lines instead?


Much better!  I worried about being consistent across all 18 blocks, but using matching thread in the prints helped hide imperfections.  Also, I kept telling myself, over, and over and over, it's all about the texture, not the detail.


The texture came out wonderfully! I think the little bit of freemotion work is a nice contrast to the straight lines everywhere else, while the straight lines appeal to my preference for crisp and clean design.

The texture on the back is rich.  Though it doesn't show up well in the picture, there is a little bit of colour as well on the back, as I matched the bobbin thread to the top thread.  


I'm so glad I didn't rush the quilting and took the time to make changes to the plan.  I wasn't in love with this quilt top, but I'm absolutely thrilled with the finished quilt.  The quilting really made all the difference to this one!

What's your approach to quilting?  Just get it done and move on, or let it sit until you're satisfied with the plan, or like me, get started and be flexible as you go? 

Happy quilting,

Joanne


For those of you who like the details:

  • Project name:  Fall Drifts
  • Pattern: Glacial (available as a PDF download in my Etsy shop or in print form from your favourite quilt shop)
  • Fabric graciously supplied by Island Batik from their Harvest Night collection






Sunday, June 26, 2022

Blaze in blues

I have wanted to make a blue version of Blaze for years.  When Island Batik sent me a sneak peek of their upcoming Winter Sky collection in spring 2021, I knew it would be perfect.  The company sent me sampling fabric to make it, and now that the fabric collection is shipping to stores I can show my quilt.

Early Frost 
 Pattern: Blaze by Canuck Quilter Designs
Fabric:  Winter Sky from Island Batik

It turned out just as I had hoped.  Well, I think perhaps I might prefer the leaves all turned in the same direction, as in the original version, but the colors worked perfectly.

I was asked to not share pictures until the fabric shipped to stores, so I couldn't share progress as I made this.  I am really enjoying partnering with fabric companies, but keeping things to myself as I work on them is hard!  Here's what I would have shared if I could have.


Late September 2021:  

Pretty sampling fabric has arrived. It's 6 months later than expected, but ooh, so pretty that who cares that it's late?


The background is Storm, one of Island' Batik's basics.  The fabric that looks gold isn't actually gold - that's just my camera having trouble getting the colour right.  It's actually more beige/grey, a very light neutral called Milkshake, also from the basics collection.  Everything else is from the Winter Sky collection.

Mid- October 2021

I made the pieces and parts of the leaf blocks.


In an attempt to distribute the fabrics more or less evenly, I laid out all the leaf blocks before assembling any of them.


I don't have a picture of the HST I made for the rest of the quilt, but I did snap a photo of the trimmings.  I don't love trimming, but I do love a colorful pile of trimmings.  I need to get some googly eyes to turn my piles into little trimming critters!

While I finished assembling the top by the end of October, I took a break from this project while I worked on other projects and debated whether I had time to quilt this myself.  

May 2022

I decided to make time to quilt it myself after all.  That started with pin basting in sections on my cutting table.  I like to have pins in a 3 1/2" - 4" grid.  That seems to work well for me to keep the layers from shifting too much as I quilt.

My plan was to use this quilt to practice freemotion quilting, but I started with some walking foot quilting, stitching in the ditch to stabilize the quilt sandwich.  Next I added a little bit of outline quilting 1/4" on each side of the seams in the chevrons.

While I meant to add some background filler in the leaf background and some sort of freemotion pattern in the chevrons, I ended up leaving them blank.  Once I had the stitch in the ditch and outline quilting done, I rather liked the puff and felt the fabrics were pretty awesome on their own, without any extra stitching to distract from the prints.

I did choose to dress up the navy blue background chevron.  Because I don't draw freehand very well, I printed out a drawing of a maple leaf and used it to trace leaves with an erasable fabric pencil, adding in a swirly stalk between the leaves.  I freemotion quilted on the drawn lines.

When it came time to fill the rest of the background space, I procrastinated for a week or two because I really don't enjoy doing freehand freemotion quilting.  Still, I wanted to freemotion some swirls with an occasional leaf tossed in so I finally started.

I hated my swirls! It was just too busy for my taste.  Maybe if I could manage a more regular size and shape I would have liked this more, but what I did quilt had to go. What to do? Pick out the swirls and default to walking foot straight lines, of course!  I actually don't have a closeup photo of the evenly spaced vertical lines I stitched to fill the background, but I think their simplicity really helps the stitched maple leaves in the chevron stand out.

I'm so, so pleased with the result.  I don't often make a design more than once, but I'm glad I made time for this one.

What quilt have you made more than once?  What inspired you to do so?  Please share in the comments.

Happy Quilting,

Joanne



The small throw (44" x 60"), large throw (51" x 75") and twin (64" x 91") sizes, all included in the pattern, share the same layout using different block sizes.  The longest leaf tip is foundation paper pieced, but it's a very simple shape so it's an easy way to dip your toe into FPP if you're new to it.

You can get your PDF copy of the pattern in my Etsy shop, or you can ask for print copies at your favourite quilt shop.  Shops, the pattern is available wholesale from distributor EE Schenck, or directly from me.  See my wholesale page for more information.