Thursday, September 21, 2023

Quilt Retreat project Plan A...or C

My guild had a quilt retreat last weekend.  With my travel in August followed by an unidentified virus that took me out of commission for another two weeks, I was completely unprepared when the date rolled around.  I had planned to have fabric cut and ready to sew when I arrived.  That didn't happen!

I ended up tossing a few things in my car the morning of the retreat and hoped for the best.

Fresh Wrapped, in the upper left, was the only project already in progress.  In fact, it was almost finished, with binding already attached to the front of the placemats and runner. My plan was to finish the binding while I decided which of the other projects I'd work on for the two days of retreat.

So far, so good.  By mid-morning, I had a finish!  That felt like a pretty good start to the weekend.

I made the tops for these last November during the Placemat Party I hosted.  I didn't quilt them until June.  I'm so happy to have this version of Fresh Wrapped finished.  I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but every fabric has silver metallic accents.  While I'm generally not a fan of metallic accents in my fabric, I make an exception for Christmas projects!

With one project down, I moved on to Plan A.  I bought these Northcott Stonehenge Oh Canada fabrics when I was in Fredericton, NB in the summer of 2022, planning to make a set of Flipped for Canada Day 2023. That day came and went with no placemats so I'm looking ahead to July 2024.

Just before I cut into these at retreat, I realized I had not prewashed them.  I don't always prewash my fabric, but I always prewash for placemats.  I've found that if I don't prewash, my placemats come out of the laundry all wonky the first time I spill on them and have to wash them.  

I'll admit I did a bit of grumbling at my past self at this point.  Seriously?  These were on my shelf for over a year, always intended for placemats, and I never got around to prewashing them?

On to Plan B!  Honestly, Plan B was a little vague.  I bought this stack of Christmas batik fat quarters on impulse 6 years ago. I've struggled to decide what to make with them.  

When I tossed the stack into my retreat bag, I had a few ideas, but they all needed extra yardage for background.  I really, really tried to find something at the shop hosting the retreat.  They had a such a beautiful selection of fabric, but I didn't find the right background to go with these.  I guess this little stack will just have to look pretty on my sewing room shelves just a little longer.

Plan C was to start the blue and white floral version of Quartz Clusters.  Connecting Threads kitted my pattern and I liked it so much I ordered the kit :)

This was the last project option I brought.  This one panned out!

I spent half the day on the first day of the retreat cutting out the fabric.

I was able to make all the strip-pieced blocks before heading home.  On Day two, I got a good start on the rest of the units, but a few distractions slowed me down so I didn't get as much done as I thought I would.  That's OK.  It was lovely to be in a room socializing with other quilters.

It's a little hard to believe this will become this:

Despite the great start I made at retreat, I'm not sure when I'll finish this top.   When I got home I went back to quilting the Accidental Quilt.  I also had some design deadlines to meet, and now I have some writing deadlines because three of those designs were selected.  It's a good "problem" to have, but it means projects in progress are going on the back burner again.

I'd love to head to retreat again, but I think I'd like to plan a little more next time.  Please share your tips for prepping and packing for quilt retreats so I can be better prepared.

Happy quilting,


When you make a purchase from my Etsy shop from a link in this post, I may receive a refund of some of the transaction fees Etsy usually charges me for a sale.  There is no additional cost to you.

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Chips and Dip

 I think I already established I really like placemats.  I really, really like this set I sewed last winter and can now share.

This is Chips and Dip, made with fabrics from the Natural Healing collection from Island Batik.  It was super quick to make, with strip piecing and stitch-and-flip corners.

I chose to make these with yardage for a cohesive look across all six placemats.  You could use a strip pack of precut strips instead.  Half a package (20 strips) plus a little yardage for the accent triangles would be enough for 4 placemats and a runner or for 6 placemats.  Or maybe assorted contrasting scraps for the triangles would look cool!  I need to go play with that know, because I can always use more placemats :)

I try to create designs that will look good in various fabrics.  I really think I hit the mark with these.  My test pieces were made with Island Batik scraps from previous projects and a completely different vibe than the ones above.

Hmm.  I'm not sure about that light-coloured binding anymore...  It's different from my usual choices.  I was limited by what scraps I had to match though, and this seemed the best available choice.

I'm still plugging away at finishing projects.  What are your sewing plans for fall?

Happy quilting,


The Chips and Dip pattern is available as a PDF download in my Etsy shop.  You can ask for a print version at your favourite quilt shop.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Playing with Buds and Blooms

Buds and Blooms from Island Batik is a juicy new line of natural floral patterns delivering to stores this month.  Swan invited me to participate in an Instagram hop with other designers, mocking up existing patterns in this beautiful new collection.  I love the new look of these designs, so I thought I'd share here as well for those of you who aren't on Instagram.

Buds and Blooms from Island Batik, designed by Kathy Engle for Swan Amity Sheridan

I wish I had this actual fabric in my hands instead of just the digital swatches!  If I'm lucky, local shops have this on order and I can get my hands on some.  In any case, I did have fun uploading the digital swatches into EQ8 and recoloring designs.  I won't say how much time I spent coloring this, that and another possible mockups.  It's a bit addictive, but I managed to narrow down my choices to two designs.

With the hint of fall in the air, my first choice of project to recolor was Leafy Pathways.  I think I like this version even more than my original green version.

Leafy Pathways by Canuck Quilter Designs
Mocked up in Buds and Blooms

Of course, I had to recolor placemats too.  You know I have a thing about placemats :)  Here's Breadcrumbs (version 2).  I just love those rich prints!

Breadcrumbs by Canuck Quilter Designs
Mocked up in Buds and Blooms

If you'd like to make either of these projects as shown above, you can download this list of the specific fabrics used in each project.

If you are on Instagram, you have a chance to win a complete fat quarter bundle from Swan! Find my post here and jump from there to discover the other participating designers' posts.  Just follow the directions in the Instagram post and enjoy all of the beautiful quilts the lovely designers have mocked up for you!

I'm off to a guild retreat today and tomorrow.  I should have planned what to work on, but the date rather snuck up on me.  I'm doing well just getting my machine and tools packed up.  I'll throw a few UFO's in the car as well and hope they appeal to me when I get to the retreat.  If not, the hosting shop will be open for shopping, so I can browse to start something new.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Happy quilting,


If you make a purchase in my Etsy shop after clicking through from the links in this post, Etsy will refund me a portion of the fees I pay for that transaction.  There is no additional cost to you.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Star Chips: a jelly roll quilt and some ruler quilting

I made this last winter, and I'm finally able to share it with you, just in time for Sew a Jelly Roll Day next Saturday (September 16th).  It's a fun twist on a simple jelly roll strip quilt.

Star Chips by Canuck Quilter Designs
Fabric:  Blushing Garden from Island Batik

Star Chips is super easy to make.  The triangles are inserted with stitch-and-flip corners, no templates or applique required.  The quilt measures approximately 50" x 66".  The exact width depends on the length of the shortest strip in the strip pack.

As usual, my biggest challenge was deciding how to quilt this.  I'm not very skilled at quilting all-over freemotion designs, so I settled on quilting 1/4" on either side of each seam between the strips, but thought I could do some custom quilting in the stars and in the borders.  I started with the stars, sketching ideas on paper, then pulling out the quilting rulers and stitching line discs to draw it out full scale on paper as I would quilt it.

Planning custom ruler quilting

I start by drawing the patchwork elements to size, then fill in my proposed design.  The stitching discs let me draw where the stitching would be if I was sewing with a ruler foot tucked up against the quilting ruler/template.

The design above looked like it would work, so I marked the quilt with all the appropriate registration lines to help me place all the stitching in the right places and stitched away.  I had words with my machine when it refused to stitch in a particular direction. (This is a new problem that a trip to the machine spa did not correct, but let's not get sidetracked.)  I ended up having to turn the quilt more than I should have to when freemotion/ruler quilting, but I made it work.

Custom ruler quilting in the star

This was stitched with my Westalee rulers.  I used the straight edge of the 12" arc, as well as circles-on-quilts and the 6"spiral template.  

I used a blue water-soluble pen to mark the quilt before quilting, and a water brush to erase them afterwards.  I don't know what brand this brush is.  It has a refillable barrel for water.  You just squeeze gently to push water drops down the brush as you paint water over the lines to erase. It's a bit less messy than having to spray the whole surface to get the markings out.

Erasing water-soluble registration marks with a water brush

I had planned to quilt walking foot cables in the borders, as I did in my Starlit Picnic quilt, but that looked denser than the quilting on the rest of the quilt.  I try to keep the quilting density more or less even across all areas of a quilt to avoid bunching and waving.  I slept on it, then revisited the border quilting I did on Topiaries.  I had to adjust the scale a little, but the strips acted as perfect spacers to help distribute the arcs.  This was quilted in two passes around the quilt using the 6" spiral template.

Detail of quilting in the border of Star Chips

I have since been told this resembles the Star Trek symbol.  What do you know?  It does, and now I can't unsee it, but I still like how it looks on the quilt!

Here's how I handled the border design in the corners.  

Detail of corner border quilting in Star Chips

You see more of the pieced binding below.  The quilt center only used 28 strips, so I used the extra strips in the strip pack to piece a scrappy binding.  It added interest to the binding, used more of the strip pack and saved me having to get extra fabric for the binding.  Win, win and win.

Scrappy binding on Star Chips

Star Chips by Canuck Quilter in Blushing Garden from Island Batik

That's all I have to share about Star Chips. 

Now I'm heading to the ironing board to press some backing for the Accidental Quilt.  I've been ready to quilt it for the last month, but have been away from the a sewing room as I travelled to BC to help my daughter get settled in Vancouver (she's starting a nursing program at UBC), then visited parents and brother and sister-in-law in Victoria, then came home and proceeded to be sick for a week and half.  I'm finally getting a a bit of energy back, and I really, really want to see if my walking foot quilting plan for this quilt pans out!  I'll let you know.

Happy quilting,

The Star Chips pattern is available as a PDF download in my Etsy shop, or you can ask for a print version at your favourite quilt shop.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Matching stripes in binding

How do you feel about striped binding?  I think it adds a fun touch to some quilts, providing I can find just the right stripe.  It takes only a little more work to match the stripes at the seams if that's something that concerns you.  Here's how I matched the stripes on the binding for the Chef's Kiss placemats and runner I shared last weekend.

Matched stripes on diagonal seams.

I usually join binding strips with a diagonal seam to distribute the bulk of the seam.  When the strips are folded in half, then sewn onto and folded over the edge of the quilt, a straight seam would result in 12 layers of fabric stacked together at the seam.  That's not ideal!

Here's how I matched the stripes on a diagonal seam.

1. I made sure the ends of the strips were straight and square.

2.  With the strip wrong side up I folded the end of one strips at a 45 degree angle as shown below, bringing the end down to match the lower edge of the strip, and pressed the fold flat.

3. Using a washable glue stick, I applied a thin line of glue right beside the fold.

4. With both strips right side up, I slid the folded end of the folded strip over the other strip until the stripes were aligned.  I carefully finger pressed the fold to the bottom strip, checking that the stripes stayed aligned before pressing with a hot iron.  The strips were now glued together along the fold.

4.  Moving to the sewing machine, I unfolded the top strip and sewed in the crease from the fold.

5. I trimmed away excess fabric1/4" beyond the seam.  I suggest folding the strip back to check the seam from the right side of the fabric, making sure the stripes are matched as expected before trimming.

6. I pressed the seam open to complete the join.  Because I used a thin line of glue, I was able to pull apart the seam allowances easily to press the seam open.

I think it was a pretty good match.  Here's how it looked on my placemats.

Overall, it worked well, but I must point out that despite the effort it isn't possible to completely avoid a mismatched stripe.  You can't control how the stripes will match when you join the binding ends after sewing the binding to your quilt.  How the stripes meet is determined by the perimeter of the quilt and the size of the stripe design repeat.   In the picture below I circled one seam with the stripes matched, and a random join from joining binding ends.

I'm still happy to do the work to make the stripes match in as many places as possible.  Sometimes even that final join matches up out of pure luck, like it did on 3 of my 4 placemats!

For tips on joining diagonal stripes, see this post .

I hope you find this useful.  Let me know if you use these tips, and please share any insights you have about making and using striped binding.

Happy quilting,


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Flipped - ISU version- and the power of finishing

I know many quilters have much longer lists of UFOs (unfinished objects) than I do, but when my list gets too long, it paralyzes me.  I end up not sewing at all because I can't decide which project deserves my full attention, and I feel guilty starting anything new.

Making my visual list of UFOs for my last post helped me focus on finishing something.  Finishing something triggers happy feelings.  Happy feelings make me want to sew again.  Sewing again helps me finish things.  It's a lovely little cycle, once I get it started!

Flipped by Canuck Quilter Designs

Flipped in ISU school colors was at the top of my UFO list.  I just needed to convince myself that simple straight-line quilting with my walking foot would be enough.  Really, most of the quilting will be covered up by the place setting anyway, so there is no need to spend hours on intricate quilting.  Not that intricate quilting isn't lovely, but it isn't necessary.  Simple quilting would get this finished and intricate plans would make it languish.  Simple wins!

I stitched in the ditch between the different fabrics then added some outline quilting 1/4" away from those seams.  Sets of double line echoes the angles for a little extra quilting to keep things tidy and not too puffy.

Flipped placemat

Flipped runner

I don't know what the design principle is concerning those double lines, but to my eye they make things look more polished.

I think the binding probably took a longer than the quilting, just because there are a lot of inches all around 4 placemats and a runner.  If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook  you probably saw pictures of the binding in progress, with a bazillion clips, like this:

Machine binding with Clover Wonderclips

I have a machine binding tutorial here that explains why I like so many clips.

So there we go, the UFO list is one project shorter.

Next up:  Fresh Wrapped, Christmas edition.  I finished the quilting a couple of days ago.  Now I need to bind. 

I'm on a roll, and getting closer to yet another finish is getting me excited to quilt the Accidental Quilt.  I even have a quilting plan already!  And while I'm stitching away, ideas are starting to perk about how to salvage the butterfly quilt I wasn't so excited about anymore.  Shrinking the UFO stack is definitely reviving my creativity!

What's your UFO status, and does it affect your creativity?  Please share in the comments.

Happy quilting,


Friday, August 4, 2023

Choosing what to finish next...

As I mentioned earlier, I'm committed to not starting anything new for the next month or so.  I'm under no illusion that I'll completely eliminate my stack of UFOs (unfinished objects) but I'll be happy to make it a little smaller.  So far I've moved Chef's Kiss and Party Crackers over to the finished pile.

What's next?  I think a pictorial list might help me narrow things down.

Flimsies waiting for quilting
Clockwise from top left:
1. Flipped placemats and runner
2. Fresh Wrapped placemats and runner
3. Rush in Island Batik scraps
4. The Accidental Quilt

Flimsies waiting for quilting
Clockwise from top left
1. Stellar Breeze test blocks quilt
2. Focal Point runner
3. Tiles
4. Prairie Point runner

Flimsies that need a little more work
1. Guild round robin
2. Un-named bonus quilt

Quilts with quilting started but interrupted
1. Anne Quilt
2. RSC Butterflies

Fabric committed to projects
1. Flipped placemat set for Canada Day
2. Connecting Geese blue version
3. Quartz Clusters with dark background

I think the four quilts in the first grouping are most likely to be finished first.  I'm still pretty excited about those.  I've just been short on time to work on them.

The next four have all been sitting a very long time, probably because I'm less excited about them.  The smaller three projects might get done because they're small and potentially quick to finish.  I'm less certain about Tiles.  I remember being very excited about this one.  It was going to be a pattern, until I started writing it and fell out of love.  Maybe finishing it will make me love it again, but it's not at the top of my list by any means.

The two unfinished flimsies will get done eventually, but it may take a while.

I'm sad the two partially quilted quilts are on this list.  

The Anne quilt is made with Anne of Green Gables fabric and I love the quiet simplicity of the design.  I started hand quilting it when I had more time.  Now I get tingling fingers when I hand quilt, so I'm debating picking out my stitching and machine quilting it instead.  I really like the hand quilted look on this one though.

Unfortunately, I've fallen out of love with the butterfly quilt.  I had a vision for it, but my tastes have changed.  I wish I'd given it a simpler setting.  Also, my machine is not playing well with freemotion and ruler quilting right now.  Maybe by the time I get that sorted I'll be more eager to start quilting this one again.

Finally, the fabric pulls.  I suppose they don't count as UFOs since they aren't technically started yet?  Working on those would only slow down the UFO-busting mission, but they're so tempting...

I'll keep you posted on what moves forward!  What's the state of your UFO collection?

Friday, July 28, 2023

Party Crackers dark edition off the UFO stack

 As I mentioned in my last post, I'm on a mission to shrink the UFO stack.  This version of Party Crackers was an easy one to move to the finished stack.  It had been waiting for binding much longer than I care to admit.  It just kept being pushed the bottom of the priority list because it didn't have a deadline.

The dark background version of Party Crackers, Rosie approved, is bound and ready to use.  Well, not right now.  There's a heat advisory right now.  I'll wait until fall to use the quilt, but it is finished!

I actually pieced this quilt top in November 2021.  I think I sent it out for longarm quilting in winter 2022.  I even had binding ready to go when it came home from the quilter's, so I really can't fathom why it's been sitting unbound on a shelf until now.  I don't even know why I didn't share any pictures in progress, because I have pictures.  I guess it's just been a weird and busy few years.

So,  though I'm late sharing, here are some process pictures.

 Fabric Pull
Jason Yenter prints (mostly from the Resplendent collection)
 Grunge for the background

Fabric cut, ready to piece

Chain piecing stitch-and-flip-units

So much pressing!

Block in progress

Quilt top inspection by Rosie, November 2021

Party Crackers Finally finished, July 2023!

I'd like to say I didn't finish sooner because I was undecided about what fabric to use for binding, but I don't think  that much indecisiveness is any better than just not getting around to finishing.  Still, I was indecisive.  I actually had binding strips cut from the medium purple before changing my mind  and cutting the blue I eventually used, but I kept waffling back and forth.  I finally committed to the blue this past weekend and I'm very happy with my choice.  I probably would have been just as happy with the purple.  I'm just happy to have it done!

Of all the quilts I have made, I think this is the one that has sat the longest after quilting, waiting for binding.   What's your best binding story?

Happy quilting,