Thursday, February 29, 2024

Two Colour Mystery - Week 1

Happy Leap Day! I'm excited to kick off my Two Colour Mystery Quilt-Along today.

The weekly clues (AKA instructions) will be sent by email so if you haven't registered yet, make sure to register here to get your email address on that list.  The last day to register for free is April 10th, though of course you'll have a lot of catching up to do if you wait that long.   After that, you'll need to buy the pattern if you want to make the quilt.

If you are registered, watch your inbox for the first clue today.  It won't spoil anything to tell you that this week we're cutting fabric.  Because I like to cut all the pieces before starting to sew, that's how I've structured things.  That said, the cutting tables note which unit each piece will be used in, so you can cut as you go each week if you prefer.

Two Colour Mystery pieces cut and ready to sew.
Thank you to Northcott for sending me these fabrics:
Dark is Stonehenge Gradations - Peacock - 26755-66
Light is Crackle - Snow - 9045-10

How do you keep count of pieces when you're cutting?  I have different strategies when I'm cutting yardage than when I'm cutting scraps.

Counting when cutting yardage

Depending on how many layers I'm cutting at once, I count by twos or fours, and make stacks of 10 or 20, then add up my stacks for the total.

I cut the light fabric four layers at a time, so I counted by fours.  Each of the squares below is a cut with four layers,  so there are 20 squares there.  I fanned out the sets until I had 5 so I could count at a glance if got distracted and lost count.

20 light squares

Once I had 5 sets (20 squares) I stacked them to save space.

Still 20 light squares

I repeated this, making stacks of 20 squares, until I had the required number.  The I stacked the stacks, turning every stack a little so I could still count the individual stacks.  That will help me count more quickly later when I need only some of the squares for a particular step.

4 sets of 20 squares = 80 squares

By the time I started cutting my dark fabric I was feeling like cutting through four layers was hard work, so I cut the dark two layers at a time.  For two layers, I counted by twos and tens.

Each square has two layers, so there are a total of 10 squares

Still ten squares, but stacked

8 sets of 10 = 80 squares

I can't wait to start sewing these.  It's going to be so pretty!

Counting when cutting scraps

When I'm cutting scraps, I tend to cut different sized pieces at the same time, depending what I can get out of each scrap of fabric.  I had all different sizes of scraps to cut from when I made my scrappy test quilt for the mystery.

Red scraps for the scrappy version

Some could be cut in layers, but some needed to be cut one piece at a time. The methodical stacks I use when I cut yardage were not as useful, and I found myself losing count.  There really wasn't enough room on the cutting chart to tally the pieces as I cut, so I made up a different tally sheet.

All the dark parts for the scrappy version

It's not terribly clear in the photo, but I drew the different sized pieces on scrap paper, wrote in the label and the size, and had lots of room to add a tick mark in the appropriate piece for every piece I cut.  I grouped the ticks into groups of 5 (4 vertical ticks plus one across) for quick counting, and added a big checkmark when I reached the required total of any size, so I'd know not to cut any more that size.

It wasn't essential to draw the shapes. A list of sizes would have been sufficient, but I liked the drawn shapes as s visual aid to quickly locate the appropriate spot to add the ticks.  

Just in case you're wondering, the scrappy version of the mystery turned out great.  All those scraps add a lot of interest, and I managed to not overthink fabric placement too much.  I even ended up with the same fabric touching in places and didn't feel compelled to move them around.

And that's all I can say.  If I keep chatting, I'll end up including a photo of that super fun scrappy quit top and ruin the mystery.

Please share!

Please share your counting strategies with us in the comments. I'd love to know what works for you.  I'd also love to see what fabric you're cutting up for the mystery quilt, so please share pictures. If you're on Instagram or Facebook, tag your post with #twocolourmystery so everyone can find it.  If you blog, drop a link to your post in the comments.  

Also, if you're on Facebook, please join my Quilting with Canuck Quilter group to share your progress on the mystery quilt.  A quilt-along is way more fun when we can see everyone else's work too!

Happy quilting,



Friday, February 23, 2024

Design process: Woven Kisses edition

The quilt top for my scrappy test of the upcoming mystery quilt turned out really, really well.  Keeping it to myself a little bit longer is much more challenging than I anticipated.  I keep telling myself to not upload that photo just yet.

To temper that urge, I'll share an older finish, designed and made for the Fall/Winter 2023 Island Batik catalog.  

Woven Kisses by Canuck Quilter Designs
Fabric from Romance Garden, an Island Batik Signature Collection
by Kathy Engle for Sherry Shish of Powered by Quilting 

I really like the interlocking parts in the kiss block.  It's a pretty simple design, but it didn't show up in my head ready to drop into a grid layout and be a quilt.  I thought you might like a look at the design journey.  I looked back into my EQ file to see how the design evolved.  You'll notice there was some backtracking involved.  

Did you recognize my Cosmic Cloud in there?  It was the blue one halfway through.  It cropped up partway when I made a certain choice, but there was still a kernel of another idea there so I went back later and explored another direction until Woven Kisses showed up.

I had a little oops with my test blocks. 

It helps to pay attention to unit orientation.  I ended up getting reacquainted with my seam ripper.  Paying attention would have been more efficient.

I made these without cutting any triangles.  If you've used any of my patterns, you know I'm partial to not cutting triangles.  Stitch-and-flip methods are my favourites. That led to a last-minute change to the design.  It turns out that using the stitch and flip method to make four units at a time created two pairs of mirror image units instead of four identical units as I had planned.  That's why the two blocks are also mirror images.

With that figured out, I finalized my first draft of the pattern, petted some pretty fabric and started cutting.

I also designed a hug block as a variation.

Unfortunately, adding some of these to the design would have made the fabric and cutting requirements complicated.  Looking at it now, I wish I had figured out how to include it.  Ah well, I can keep it in my back pocket to use in something new later.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my design process.  I'm off to work on some tips and tutorials for the Mystery quilt-along, followed by another date with EQ to see where a few new ideas may lead.

Happy quilting,


Woven Kisses is now available in PDF format from my Etsy shop, or in print from your favorite quilt shop.  It includes five sizes, from throw to king.  I think making just 6 squares would make a cute baby quilt too.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Scrappy Two-Colour Quilt in Progress

You may have read about my upcoming Two-Colour Mystery Quilt-along, launching on February 29th.  Can you believe there are already close to 1,000 quilters signed up to participate?  I'm thrilled that I'm not the only one excited about it.

One question I've been asked more than once is whether you have to use a single dark fabric and a single light fabric.  That's how I designed it, but the question made me think beyond that.  What would a scrappy version look like?  I tried to mock it up but I find it hard to colour a scrappy quilt in EQ.  

What's a quilter to do?  Attack actual scraps, of course.

You can see I've restricted my selection to a single color and chose prints that read mostly dark compared to the white I've chosen for my light.   Some of the prints include white in them, but I rejected white-on-red prints that had large white parts, like the large white-on-red dot below.  The white accent was too large.  Where the white dot bled into the background, the line between light and dark wasn't as crisp as I wanted.

I could have chosen assorted white-on-white scraps for my lights as well, but I'm woefully short of white scraps so I'm using yardage of white Grunge that I had on my shelves.

I don't know how well the design would work in scraps of multiple colors, but I'm happy to report that "controlled scrappy" in a single color family is working out really well. 

I need to stop sharing now.  I really, really want to show you what this test looks like up on the design wall, but that would spoil the mystery so I'm stepping away from the computer!  The sewing machine is more fun anyway :)

Happy quilting,


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Boxed Kisses: a FQ-friendly quilt

I don't usually design with precuts in mind.  I usually come up with the design then figure out how much of each fabric it needs.  Boxed Kisses just happened to be fat quarter-friendly.  Happy accident!

Boxed Kisses by Canuck Quilter Designs.
This version made with Flutter Wings, an Island Batik collection designed by Kathy Engle

While you can make the quilt with regular 1/4 yard cuts, the geometry of the cut pieces make the FQ a bit more efficient.  The leftovers are larger pieces that can be more useful for another project.  Of course, a regular 1/4 yard cut s usually cheaper than a fat quarter, so it's not a cut-and-dried choice.  Just know you can get all the required parts from either one.

I made the cover quilt from the Flutter Wings collection designed by Kathy Engle for Island Batik.  I couldn't resist the bright cheerful colors when I designed this last winter.  If you think you might need some for a mid-winter project, look for the collection arriving in stores this month.

Fabrics from the Flutter Wings collection from Island Batik

They even look good all cut up.  I've been quilting for almost 24 years now, and it still astounds me that there's enough fabric in this compact little collection of cut parts to make a whole quilt top.

Fabric cut to make Boxed Kisses

Make a few stitch-and-flip units...

Boxed Kisses blocks in progress

...and then a miracle happens.

Boxed Kisses throw size quilt top

Well, not a miracle.  Just follow the rest of the pattern and a quilt top happens. I really like the sashing effect in this design, and I really love that it doesn't involve measuring and sewing any long sashing strips across or down the quilt.  It's all in the blocks, and I figured out pressing directions so the seams all nest so it's easy to line all the sashing up.  

The next time I make this one (maybe in red and whites for Valentine's Day 2025, since it's clearly too late to make it for this year) I'll switch a few of the kisses (X-blocks) to hugs (O-blocks).   It's a very quick and simple block variation I included in the pattern.

My friend Chris quilted this one for me in time to take photos before I shipped this quilt out to California so Island Batik could include it in their Fall/Winter 2023 catalog. It's nowhere near this green outside right now, though at least it isn't snowy anymore.  Snowy would be prettier than the drab greys and browns outside my window right now, but then it would be colder...  There's just no pleasing me weather-wise right now!  Let's just enjoy a few more summer quilt pictures.

I'm off to sew a bit more on a test quilt for the Mystery Quilt-along I'm launching on February 29th!  Several people have asked if they need to choose a single dark fabric and a single light fabric, or could they use dark scraps and light scraps.  I'm testing that concept.  It's going well so far!

Happy quilting,


Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Leap Into the Two-Colour Mystery Quilt-Along

Have you ever participated in a mystery quilt-along?  

I've always liked the concept.  It seems adventurous to follow directions to cut up a bunch of fabric and sew it all back together without knowing what the end result will be.  I'd like to be more adventurous.  However, the reality is that I am not, in fact, adventurous. I can't quite bring myself to invest all the time and fabric without knowing it's going to work out.  I never could quite make the leap.

Working with the assumption that I'm not alone in wanting adventure, but not too much of it, I designed a mystery that reduces the risk.  

Part of the risk in a mystery quilt is not knowing how the fabrics will work together.  For this mystery quilt, if you can choose a dark fabric and a light fabric that look good side by side, with definite contrast between the two, you're good to go.  

I can't guarantee you'll like the block and layout (though I really, really like it) but at least you'll know your fabrics will play well together.  See?  Less risk!

I'm also offering 3 size options, so you can try this out with more or less time and fabric commitment.  Here are the sizes and fabric requirements for the various options.

I'll be making the throw.  Northcott Fabric generously contributed these fabrics for my version of the Two-Colour Mystery quilt.

I considered using two fabrics from the Stonehenge collections, but when I tried the Crackle for my light selection, I liked the texture difference added to the color contrast.

Let's get to the event details.


It seemed appropriate to leap into the mystery on Leap Day, so I'll email the first clue (set of instruction) on February 29th.  Additional clues will follow weekly until April 25th.

Is there a fee to join?

You can join at no cost anytime before April 11th, when I will reveal the block design.  Once I reveal the block, the complete pattern will be available to purchase in my Etsy shop.

How to join

Because the clues will be sent out by email, you'll need to register so your email address can be added to the mailing list.  You'll only need to share your first name and email address.  


Full disclosure: Registration also adds you to my newsletter mailing list, but you can unsubscribe at any time.  Just keep in mind that when you unsubscribe I have to stop sending you emails, so you might want to wait until you have all the clues.

Any questions?

Will you join me?