Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Simply Snow setting is ready for you!

It's been a long time coming, but it's ready!  I'm excited to announce that the Simply Snow setting for my snowflake blocks, featuring 5 quilt sizes,  is now available as a free download here.  

quilt with pieced white snowflakes on a blue background
Simply Snow by Canuck Quilter Designs

It may look a little daunting, but the strip piecing makes the setting a lot faster to piece than seems at first glance.  I promise you will not need to piece a gazillion tiny squares!  

Both the queen size and the full size versions use all 26 snowflake variations from the Snowflake Blocks Complete Set pattern.

Simply Snow - Queen size layout
85" x 97"


Simply Snow - Full size layout
78.5" x 90.5"

The only difference between the queen and full sizes is the pieced nine-patch border on the queen version.   Similarly, the twin size is the large throw with a pieced border added.

Simply Snow - Twin size layout 
72.5" x 90.5"



Simply Snow - Large throw layout
63.5" x 75.5"

The small throw is a good choice if you want to make just a few blocks.

Simply Snow - Small throw size
47.5" x 59.5"

The pattern is for the sashing, corner blocks and borders only.  The snowflake blocks are available separately in my Etsy shop (or you can ask  for a print version at your favourite quilt shop).

You could also skip the snowflakes and substitute any block that finishes at 9".  To get the full effect, you'll need to plan your block backgrounds to match the colours in the sashing units.  This will make sense when you look at the pattern!

Happy Quilting,
Joanne
Simply Snow by Canuck Quilter Designs
Photo by Chris Hobbs


Monday, December 5, 2022

How to Make a Zippered Pillow Cover

On Saturday, I tried to get into a festive spirit by blasting Christmas music and sewing with Christmas fabric.  I pulled out a small scrap project and decided to turn it into a pillow to start adding a touch of Christmas color to my living room.

Pillow made with scraps from Winter Wonders collection from Island Batik

When I made a zippered pillow in October,  I had to figure out how to do it all over again, as the tutorial I had previously followed had disappeared and I couldn't find quite the right keywords to search with to find an alternative.  I had to figure it all out again when I made this Christmas pillow.  To avoid having to figure it out next time, I took pictures this time around.  I'm writing up the directions to go with the pictures so I'll have a tutorial to refer to in future.  I hope you find it useful as well.

Click here for a printable version of the tutorial.


MATERIALS

  • Pillow form
  • Pillow top - can be one piece of fabric or a pieced top, sized to fit your pillow form.
  • Back panels - see below for how to calculate the size
  • Accent strip to hide zipper - 4" x width of backing panels
  • Binding - as much as you need to bind around the pillow (add up the lengths of the sides and add as many extra inches as you need for your preferred method of joining binding ends)
  • Zipper - choose one that is a longer than the width of the pillow, and that you can sew over and easily cut (no metal teeth!)


PREPARE BACK PANEL

Determine measurements and cut pieces

The pillow back can be made of a single fabric, two panels of different fabrics, or even pieced panels.  I like to make the back a little larger than the top and trim away excess fabric on the sides at the end.

Option 1 - start with a single panel (single fabric or pieced)

  • panel width = width of pillow top plus 1"
  • panel height = height of pillow top plus 1 1/2"
Cut the panel into two pieces, cutting along the width. You can choose to cut into two equal halves, or make one piece larger than the other.  For the pillow in this tutorial, I pieced fabric strips into a single panel, then cut it in half.



Option 2 - start with two panels

  • panel width = width of pillow top plus 1"
  • panel heights - the two panels can be different heights.  Start with two heights that add up to the height of the pillow, and 3/4" to each one.

Insert zipper

1.  Layer lower panel (right side up) and zipper (wrong side up), matching edges of the zipper tape with the top edge of the panel.  Pin in place.


2.  Using a zipper foot, sew close to the zipper teeth.



3.  Press fabric away from the zipper and topstitch close to the folded edge.


4.  Press the accent strip in half lengthwise, right side out. (I used batiks, so the right side out part isn't obvious here, but you really want the right side of the fabric showing on the outside!)
  




5.  Matching the top edge of the panel with the raw edges of the accent strip and the edge of the zipper tape, layer the upper panel (right side up),  folded accent strip, and zipper (wrong side up). Pin layers.

 

6.  Using a zipper foot, sew close to the zipper teeth.


7.  Press backing panel away from the zipper and accent strip.  The accent strip will cover the zipper.



8.  Topstitch on the upper panel, close to the seam, to complete the back panel.



ASSEMBLE PILLOW COVER

9.  Layer the pillow back (wrong side down) and pillow top (right side up), centering the top on the back.


10.  Pin top to back.  In particular, pin at the zipper tape on the end with the zipper pull, but take care not to pin through the accent strip layer. Orient the pins on each side of the zipper teeth so you can still slide the zipper open.


11.  Open the zipper partway so the zipper pull is inside the pillow area.  Note that the pins should hold the zipper tape in place so it doesn't shift when you open the zipper.


12.  Sew along all sides of the pillow top with a 1/4" seam allowance, then trim away excess back fabric.  Use scissors to cut through the excess zipper.  It's probably a good idea to not use your good fabric scissors for this part.




13.  Using your preferred binding method, bind the edges to finish the pillow cover.


14.  Insert the pillow form into the cover, zip the cover closed and enjoy your pillow.  


I'm really pleased with how the pieced back worked out.  I have previously used a single fabric, but I quite like the pieced look for this larger pillow.  I think this one is definitely reversible!

Pillow back made with scraps from Winter Wonders collection from Island Batik

I'm happy to report that working on this project nudged me into a Christmas frame of mind.  After tossing the pillow on the couch, I was in the mood to go buy my poinsettias, which in turn led to pulling out the Christmas d├ęcor.  The tree will wait until the weekend before Christmas when my 21 and 23 year-old kids will be around to help decorate (tree-trimming ia always a family affair), but there's now enough red and green in my house to make me smile through December.

What gets you in the holiday decorating mood?  Are you working on any holiday sewing projects?

Happy quilting,

Joanne

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Simply Snow pattern progress

Here's one project in my current  pattern-writing queue.

Some things take time.  When I created my snowflake block patterns 8 years ago, I had vague plans to make a quilt with all 26 snowflakes.  It took me almost 5 years to get around to it, but I finally decided on a setting and made Simply Snow in 2019.

At that time the block patterns were only available as a PDF download.  I had grand plans to include them in a printed pattern for Simply Snow, but that didn't happen.  Why not?  The combination of snowflake templates and cutting charts and setting instructions for multiple size options ballooned to a ridiculous size.  It would have been more appropriate for a book than a stand-alone pattern.  I wasn't really excited to figure out book proposals or self-publishing and marketing.  The whole project was set aside "until later".

In fall 2021 I decided to publish the snowflake blocks on their own as a stand-alone printed pattern to make them available to shops.  The blocks can be used in any project that calls for 9" blocks.  I've used them in runners and bags.  I included photos and quilt mockups for snowflake project inspiration on my website.

Today, Simply Snow has perked back up to the top of my list of patterns to write.  It isn't pretty yet.  I think it's probably a good thing I put it on the back burner in 2019, because with a few more years of pattern writing experience, I think the pattern will be much more organized.  You can see above that I'm doing some heavy editing!  My process is very low-tech, making liberal use of pen and paper.  I'm happy to report I have made more progress since I took this photo a few weeks ago.  The pattern is looking much prettier now, and is about 95% ready.

How did I get around the ridiculous number of pages?  I didn't.  I'll keep selling the snowflake block pattern separately, and offer the setting instructions as a free download for now.  The free part may change eventually,  but it will at least start out that way.  


So, if you have the snowflake patterns and have been waiting to set them into a quilt, maybe this is what you've been needing.  I'll let you know how to access it when it's available.  Soon.  Very soon!

UPDATE:  Simply Snow is now available here.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Trimmed tips for the win

This little tool came packaged with a magazine years ago.  It sat in a drawer, unused and unappreciated, for years.  Now it's the tool I reach for most often after my rotary cutter and rulers.

It's a corner trimmer.  When it first arrived in the mail with that magazine, I thought it was only useful for trimming triangles to make HST the traditional way from two triangles.  Since I didn't much care for making  HST that way,  I tucked the tool away and forgot about it.  Years later I found it while reorganizing my stuff.  I paused to read the instruction booklet. Now the tool is never tucked away.

I still don't use it to make make HST, but I fully appreciate it to trim any other 45 degree point.  It takes all the guesswork out of lining up a triangle with another shape.  No more eyeballing if the pointy tip sticks out just enough past the other shape for the seam allowances to line up.  I took pictures today to show you.


I'm testing a new design idea that has lot of 45 degree points that meet wide 135 degree corners.


When sewing that seam, the points and corners need to be offset for everything to line up straight after the seam allowance eats into the fabric.  The trick is to have the points stick out the same amount on each side.  I can "eyeball" this and hope for the best, with my seam ripper on standby in case I didn't estimate quite right.

Or, I can use my corner trimmer to trim the points just right.


Now the blunt, trimmed points match up perfectly with the wide corners.  No guessing required.  


Sew with a 1/4" seam and ...


... tada!  Straight edges line up beautifully on the first try and my seam ripper gets the night off.

It takes a little extra time to trim points, but I save time in the long run by getting things lined up right the first time and avoiding seam ripping an resewing.  

I love my corner trimmer!  I also use it when:
  • joining binding strips to avoid marking the diagonal seams
  • joining the binding tails while binding a quilt (scroll down about 2/3 of the way down this post to see how)
  • adding setting triangles to an on-point setting (trimming points lets me position them precisely, so I can pin them in place and avoid any inadvertent stretching or distorting of the bias edges in the triangle)
  • sewing a triangles to a square or rectangle
So, it's a small but extremely useful tool.  I can't believe it was relegated to a junk drawer for so long.

Do you have a favourite tool to recommend for better piecing?  I'd love to hear about it.

Happy quilting,
Joanne

PS: The Placemat Party 2022 is next weekend!  It's free and you can sew whatever you like but you need to sign up here for the Zoom meeting schedule and links if you want to participate that way, and/or join my Facebook group  to participate there.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Pondering Placemats

On a short trip in summer 2021, I bought fabric for Christmas placemats.  Despite my good intentions, I did not finish (or even start) new placemats for Christmas that year.


In October 2021, I chose lovely earth tone Stonehenge fabrics to test my Echo Point placemat idea, thinking if it worked I'd have not only a pattern but also new placemats for Thanksgiving.   The idea worked out and I went on to write the pattern, but somehow I did not have finished placemats for Thanksgiving 2021



The calendar on my wall (it's a quilty comics calendar from By the Yard) assures me that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up fast, again.  I'm determined to have my new Thanksgiving and Christmas sets ready for the 2022 season.  That means I need to commit to setting aside time to sew them.

What's the best way to make myself accountable to actually set that time aside?  Invite people to join me!  Then I have to show up :)  So, who wants to join me virtually the first weekend in November for some dedicated sewing time?

Placemat Party 2022
November 4th - 6th


I'm calling it a Placemat Party because that's where my focus will be, but you could sew whatever you like.  I'm going to be live on Zoom several times over the course of the weekend and hope you'll join me to share what you're sewing and so we can cheer each other on.  You can participate as much or as little as you like, as time and inclination allows.

I also created a Quilting with Canuck Quilter Facebook group where members can post to share pictures and chat in the comments all weekend and beyond.  I'm going to keep this group open past the party.  The party was just a little nudge to make me finally set up a group.

This is a completely free event.  You can participate on Zoom, Facebook, or both.  There's no need to register, though you need a Facebook account to participate in the Facebook group. You can sign up here to get the schedule, zoom link, reminders and updates delivered to your email inbox.

What's on your project list between now and Christmas? I hope to chat with you in November and cheer you on.

Happy quilting,
Joanne

PS.  If you need placemat inspiration, you can check out all my placemat patterns in my Etsy shop.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Little Friday Finish - Shuffle pillow

This week I spent too much time on the computer, and it wasn't to do the fun stuff like designing.  It made me grumpy.  Time for some sewing time to lift my spirits!


Sewing time helps chase away the grumps, and the satisfaction of finishing something helps even more, so I chose something small to work on.  This was the test block for my Shuffle placemat pattern. I made it over two years ago, and quilted it with the intention of making it into a pillow.  I found it again when I refreshed my sewing room last month.

I remember pulling it out last year, and hitting a snag when I could not find the tutorial I liked about how to add a hidden zipper.  The host blog had shut down completely and all its posts were gone. I have made many pillow covers in the past using an envelope finish and a little bit of Velcro for a closure, but once I tried this zipper finish, I couldn't go back.  Of course, I hadn't made enough of them to really remember how it worked, so I set this pillow project aside for later.


Yesterday I found some rough notes and it all came back to me.  Yay!  It's funny how I avoided this for a year, and the longer I left it the more complicated it became in my head.  Once I just started, it was actually very easy, and came together very quickly.

The zipper is covered by a folded strip of fabric.  Choosing a coordinating fabric made it flap decorative as well as functional.

My next challenge is to write up (or maybe film?) a tutorial so I'll always have it to refer to when I forget how to do this. 

UPDATE:  Go here for the tutorial!

Do you make pillows, and if so, how do you close them?

Happy quilting,

Joanne

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

An uncommon block size

 As I started writing instructions for my prairie point embellished pumpkin runner, it occurred to me that I chose a rather uncommon block size as the base.  Who makes 7 1/2" finished blocks?  I do, apparently.

I'm trying to figure out why I chose that size.  I pieced the top two years ago this month, so it's all a little foggy in my memory.  I think the answer lies in the Canada Day runner I made in July that year.


When I made this one I was just playing with red scraps.  I had a stack of 3 1/2" red squares in the scrap bins, and I used those to make the HST for the leaf tips, which led to 2 1/2" finished HST.  Those dictated the size of the finished block:  3 x 2 1/2" = 7 1/2".

How did that dictate the size of my pumpkins?  I used the maple leaf runner as my model for the sashing and borders widths.  Since I was just playing with orange scraps, it wasn't a big deal to make my pumpkins the same size as the leaves so the proportions would still work.

I had planned to share the runner setting instructions as a free download for my newsletter subscribers, with the understanding that you could use any 7 1/2" finished block of your choice to suit your purpose.  Now I'm wondering if there's any point, because there aren't a lot of patterns for 7 1/2" blocks floating around.  Maybe I need to pair the setting with block patterns?  That's would be a whole new project to add to my "to do" list.

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Suggestions?  Please share!

Happy quilting,

Joanne

PS You can sign up for the newsletter here.