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.


Monday, May 23, 2022

Starlit Courtyard and tiny but not fussy HST

I'm not sure how the general concept of Starlit Courtyards came to me, but I know it stayed a concept for a long time before I turned it into a quilt and a pattern.  


Why did it sit as a concept for so long?  Because as much as I love the classic sawtooth edging around the stars, I was reluctant to make all those tiny HST.

When the time was right, my brain remembered that you don't always need to make HST individually or even in pairs with squares.  I drafted my own "triangle papers", figuring out I could fit 24 of these tiny HST on one page.



Layer two fabrics and the paper, then sew on the outside lines and cut on the middle lines...



...and press to one side to reveal lots of little HSTs. 


I press before removing the papers.  I find it helps stabilize the diagonal so I don't accidentally distort the unit.  

Snip a few dog ears and voila!  Twenty four perfect little HST, just the right number for one block, in a fraction of the time it would have taken to make these one or two at a time, and with much less cutting and trimming to fuss about.



Having figured out how to make the HST not be a big deal, I didn't mind investing time on the rest of the quilt's design.  I thought larger, bolder pieces in the sashing would be a nice contrast with the delicate HST.  Initially, all the points in the sashing touched, but I worried about bulk at those points.  I altered the proportions just a little to add a little gap between points.  


Though the initial motivation for this tweak was to deal with bulk at the seams, it had a couple of happy side benefits. First, the extra spacing visually lightened the design.  Second, it made piecing much more forgiving:  with the spacing, it won't be obvious if your points don't match up perfectly!  I think that's a win for stress-free piecing!

When I chose fabric for this quilt, I had just finished some bright quilts and I was ready to work with more muted tones.  I don't drink coffee, but somehow coffee tones called to me while I browsed my local quilt shop for inspiration.  Guess what I picked for the backing?


Coffee beans seemed fitting! Just a little fun surprise on the back of a grown up, elegant quilt.

I think you could make this in pretty much any color scheme.  I used a different fabric for each element in the quilt, but you could easily repeat fabrics if you had trouble finding enough fabrics that play well for your chosen color scheme.

You don't have to settle for a light background, either.  I mocked up the quilt in 3 different colorways of Banyan Batik's Resort Life collection for their January 2022 catalog, and one of them has a dark background.  I love the way the elements pop on the dark.  I'd also be lying if I said I didn't have a soft spot for the bright blue one.  I do love blue!


I had planned to quilt this myself, with swirls of some sort in the sashing pieces, and perhaps feathers in the border (I want to conquer feathers, eventually!) but time was short.  I gave in and sent it to Liz Meimann to be longarmed. She found an allover design with both swirls and feathers, so the quilt has lovely texture.

Starlit Courtyard is now a pattern.  It includes 5 sizes, from throw to king.  Angles are all achieved with stitch-and-flip techniques so you don't have to cut any shapes other than squares and rectangles.  A master template for the triangle papers is included.  You'll need to make one copy for each block in your quilt.


Head over to my Etsy shop for your PDF copy or to browse my other patterns.  There are also a few more new releases there, which I'll be introducing on the blog in the next little while.  If you'd rather have a print copy, please ask at your favourite quilt shop.  Quilt shops, you can order Starlit Courtyard wholesale from Checker or Brewer, or by contacting me directly.

Happy Quilting,

Joanne

Friday, May 13, 2022

Echo Point

 I've been thinking about Echo Point since last fall.  I enjoyed bringing it to life last month, and finally quilting it this week.



Strip piecing made these really quick to make.  Honestly, deciding in what order to place the fabrics, and deciding how to quilt them took longer than the piecing.

The pattern calls for 5 fabrics, so I pushed myself to find 5 that played well together. These five came home from the quilt shop.


When I started laying them out wasn't sure about that stripey one.  I thought it had a touch too much green.  Happily, I had bought a little extra so I was able to play around with repeating one of the other four fabrics to take the place of the fifth one.


I thought this combination did the trick.  Strip sets followed.


I then got sucked into sewing and didn't take any more pictures until the set was finished.


I had planned to use rulers to quilt some circular elements, but none of my ideas quite gelled. In the end I defaulted to straight lines again.  Their crispness pairs perfectly with the clean lines of the pieced design.


I dressed things up just a little with a star motif in the center of the runner. The quilting on the placemats repeats the quilting on ends of the runner.  Not only does it tie the two together nicely, it seems fitting because the runner is actually two placemats sewn to the sides of a center block.  

The pattern is written for six placemats or four placemats and the runner.  It's based on 40" width of fabric, but with 44" wide you could squeeze two more placemats from your strip sets. 



I'm really excited about this design.  I hesitated to write the pattern because there are a few bias edges to deal with, but they're small and really not a big deal in a project this size.  I included tips in the pattern about how to work with those edges, and my generous testers Judy Juhl and Pat Minnick  were very successful.  

I will definitely be making more of these.  Version two in Stonehenge Gradations fabric is already pieced and waiting for quilting.  Like I said, the piecing is quick.  I need a little more time for the quilting part :)

If you'd like to make your own, you can get the pattern in my Etsy shop or ask for it at your favourite quilt shop.


Echo Point is pictured on the cover in two colorways of
Banyan Batiks' upcoming Pebbles and Daisies collection