Saturday, October 14, 2017

PEI Modern Guild mystery - step 2

Step 2 of the PEI modern guild mystery was released on October 1. I have officially decided to make 2 quilts - one in a light background, one with a dark background. Here are steps 1 and 2 complete, for both quilts.

I'm using the same colours for the main quilts, but mixing up their positions, since PEI just told us the fabrics are numbered/ordered in some way.   A group of 4, then a group of 8. So I did 2 sorts and came up with a plan.

Looking at it now I wonder if I should have made the dark one in pinks and the light in blues, but I'm committed now and moving forward with this arrangement. 

Linking up with the PEI Modern Guild for this month's clue.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mini Checkerboard

As I mentioned in my last post, I am starting a miniature version of my Bulging Checkerboard quilt. Mostly, I want to see how small I can possibly make the reveals between the small square and the neighboring block, without going crazy. If I can make this work, I'm planning to update my pattern with instructions for the smaller version.

Here are the first 9 blocks, not yet sewn together.  I'm aiming for 1/16th or 1/32nd on those little reveals when it's done.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bulging Checkerboard

This is an older quilt, but I realized recenlty my post about it has been sitting in draft form for over a year. It's been on my mind recently, because I just started a half-size version of it.  So, here is the story behind the original quilt.

I saw this quilt online one day and knew that I needed to add it to my list.  I love optical illusions, and this is a really cool one.  I inspected the construction of the quilt I saw online. It was done with applique, which I knew was not going to be my plan. So I sat down with EQ6 and planned the blocks.  Each block contains 2 "dots" in opposite corners.  I first tried drawing the quilt with these dots set right at the edge of the block. But that completely lost the illusion, and it because an X instead.  So, I realised that some amount of contrast colour was needed around each dot.  I played around in EQ and decided that 1/4" exposure was about right.

6" blocks, with a border, gave me a quilt about 100" square.  About right for my queen size bed (yes, this was going to be MY quilt).  So I worked out the fabric requirements (6 yards of each of 2 colours) and went shopping on "Buy 2, get 1 free" day at the local quilt store.  But what colours to choose? I could go with the traditional - black and white.  Or, mix it up. Blue and white - no, I have too many of those, and don't want another.  Red and white - doesn't seem right for a checkerboard.  Looking around, I also discovered that there were very few bolts with a full 6 yards on them in the shop.  Hence the sale - she was trying to reduce inventory to bring in new fabrics.  So, maybe a mix of different fabrics in each colour would have to suffice.

Then I was pointed towards civil war reproductions in brown.  I was immediately sold, in part because I had just finished a quilt in brown/blue/red for the August colour challenge this year and I loved working with the browns in it.  Then it didn't take too long to decide that 5 fabrics would work (2 yards of one, to do squares and borders, and 1 yard of each of the others).  We found a suitable cream fabric to complement the browns (with enough fabric on the bolt), and I brought my treasure trove home.

 Then the fun started.  Cut and sew.  Cut and sew.  And sew some more.  The quilt requires 225 squares.  88 are plain 6" squares, but all the rest are pieced, with the little 1/4" exposure around each "dot".  As I started to plan my cutting, I contemplated working with that 1/4".   And decided to make my life a little easier by working with 3/8 instead of 1/4.

This all seemed well and good until I put it on the wall and started thinking about it a bit more.  The designer of the quilt I saw online commented that she was not happy with how the illusion came out, and she wished she'd made the spacing smaller.  But the photo looked great - the illusion was perfectly clear.  And my original 1/4" was very close to hers.  What I realised as I put it on the wall was that it is not the percentage of the exposure against the rest of the block that matters.  It is more an absolute number.  It needs to be small enough that from a normal viewing distance it appears to be thin lines, not blocks of colour between the blocks.

So I put together the center of the quilt twice.  First, with my designed spacing (on the left in the photo).  And I knew immediately that this was not right.  In a photo, it's not bad.  But in person, it is just a bunch of square blocks.  No illusion showing up at all.  Then I put together another center (right in the photo).  This time I used 1/2" seams, leaving 1/8" exposure around the dots.  MUCH better.  Now I can see the illusion, even with this small 5x5 section of quilt.

Now to assemble the rest, using 1/2" seams throughout.  Another 8 5x5 blocks is the first step.  Pressing these blocks is challenge however.  After making the center 5x5, I realised my mistake. On the remaining sections, I snipped the seam allowance on each short seam in the rows, so that I could press the seam allowance away from the dot in each case.  I thought I'd do the same on the longer seams, until I realised that the dots meet at the corners.  So that plan went out the window. Careful pressing was required, to ensure I didn't distort the blocks when pressing the very thick seams around the dot.  If I were to do this again, I might press the borders of each dot in towards the center instead.  That would reduce the bulk between blocks, although it would increase the issues within each block.

I finished section #2, and put it up on the wall.  Can you spot the error?  One row is inserted upside down. So I'll be unstitching that one next.

More progress in this picture.  Notice the yellow tag in the upper left corner.  I numbered each section as I assembled it, so that I wouldn't get confused.  I still managed to - I had to stop several times to think.  What does "2-1" mean.  Second row first column, or second column, first row.  In the end, I figured it all out, and got all 9 sections assembled and ready for borders.

The borders went together pretty easily, although they were long, and used a lot more fabric than I had planned on. There is not enough of the border fabric to use for binding, so I'll do a scrappy binding when I'm ready to take that step.  In the picture it is hard to tell, but there is a dark brown border around the outside.

Next step - quilting.  The quilt is 95" square - which is just 2" larger than a queen size batting.  So, I had to buy a King instead.  Fortunately, I caught a sale at the LQS and got my batt for 40% off.  Not  a bad deal.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Anita's Arrowheads

This is my completed project from my Block Party group this year.  The pattern is "Anita's Arrowheads", a free pattern I found online.  I loved the technique used to make the block, but struggled with the layouts I saw online. Finally, I decided to try a layout similar to a blooming 9-patch, to see if I liked that.  Success! 

The pattern is offset simply because I didn't have enough of my medium gold/orange in the 4th round.  It was my favourite of all the fabrics, and the one that inspired the other colours, so I wasn't willing to swap it out completely. To compensate, I moved the pattern over and in the other corner I used a different dark gold in place of the missing fabric. Since it's separated from the first section, I think it looks intentional rather than "I ran out".

Borders are extensions of the primary colours - mostly because I didn't have enough of any one fabric left to border the quilt. And the quilt is carefully sized (50x70") to be a donation for Victoria's Quilts.

Friday, October 6, 2017


Krista Hennebury (poppyprints) was in town in September, and as another Krista I just had to attend her workshop :)  "Speed Dating with Improv" gave us a chance to try several different improv piecing techniques.

I have to admit I'm struggling with the randomness of this project.  The class was a lot of fun, the techniques are great. But this quilt is WAY outside my comfort zone.  I now have all these bits and pieces which need to go together somehow.

I will finish it! And to make sure of that, it's staying up on my design wall until I do (that will also ensure I don't lose any bits).

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


This quilt isn't mine. It came from a quilting friend, who received it when the original maker passed away.  It was about 1/3 done at the time, with a number of other  diamonds ready to go but not attached.  As a group, we came up with a layout and finished assembling the diamonds into a final product.  I appliqued it onto borders one night (way too late at night), and now it just needs to have the papers removed from the hexagons and then to be quilted.  When it's done, it will be donated to a worthy recipient.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Halfway there!

 And more red & white.  Another weekend, another attempt to get closer to being on track.  Up to #78 (I think), which means I'm half-way there! 

However, as soon as I took this photo, I noticed the error in one of the blocks. So out came the seam ripper.

Ah, that's better. A few more blocks to put away safe and sound.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


I'm working on a 1/2 size version of one of my patterns (Bulging Checkerboard).  Hopefully this will make the illusion easier to see, from a closer distance.  9 blocks down, 216 to go.  This could take a while.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Building Blocks

 A new finish!  This poor little quilt has been hanging in my closet for years. I designed the quilt back in 2009, and put it together at my very first quilt retreat in February 2010.  And then it sat. First, because I could not find a backing I liked. I finally settled on one, although there wasn't enough fabric left on the blot. So I planned to piece the backing - at least I had something I liked at this point.

But then poor little thing sat around for a few more years, waiting for me to find the inspiration for quilting it. And then the time for quilting it.  The incentive to finally get it done? It's going to a trunk show this week, so I had a deadline now.

I used my new computerized longarm to simplify the straight line quilting in the blocks. And then free-handed peacock feathers in the background, to provide a softer contrast to all the boxes and corners.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

More Canadian Women

Another weekend spent working on 150 Canadian Women, and I feel like I'm making a dent in the pile of instructions.  Top 2 blocks use the fabric I thought was lost.  I think this takes me up to #68. 

Rather than printing out 150 sheets of instructions, I'm just printing the pictures, as many on one page as I can fit, and then working out the cutting/assembly process for myself. Usually that works (when my math is on the ball), but sometimes I get ahead of myself and cut blocks before I check where the seam lines are supposed to be.

There are a whole lot of itty bitty triangles in some of those blocks. And in a couple of cases, my construction method doesn't match the provided diagram. But the end result is the same, so I'm good with it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

En Provence

I'm having a productive month finishing up quilts around here. This is one of my Bonnie Hunter mystery quilts from 2016. I split my blocks into 2 groups and made one quilt for donation - this one. The other has 9 blocks and will be for me, when I eventually get around to quilting it.

I changed up the borders a bit on this one, because I had no more of the star units left and I refused to make any more at this point.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Longarm Design

I was playing around with patterns on my longarm the other day.  I saw this (or something like it) done on a quilt a while back and decided to try it out.  Makes an interesting border or straight line detail I think. Doesn't work so well as an overall fill.  But it was fun to play with, and got another Victoria's Quilts donation completed.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Merry Mayhem, 2016

I finally finished this quilt. It was a New Year's Day mystery from Merry Mayhem in (I think) 2016.  Took me ages to get around to putting all the blocks together - mostly because I had other myteries going on and didn't keep up with these clues. Then when I realized it was 15 identical blocks, I lost interest for a while.

However, it is finally done, and I took the opportunity to try out some custom quilting on my new long arm.  Each block has the same design (which I created), and the border is done with a cable design.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

150 Canadan Women

I put my 150 Canadian Women quilt on the back burner for a while. Other projects and visitors took precedence and I just couldn't keep up.  I finally pulled it out again this past weekend and made some progress on blocks.  These are blocks 51-59.

I also spent hours searching my sewing room for the fabric I KNOW that I bought for 2 particular blocks. It is white with red accents, and I planned to use it for the blocks that has a very large white center.  But I could not find it anywhere. It lived in one corner of my sewing room for ages, and I remember moving it (and all the other 150 fabrics) when I visitors in June. But I could not find it.

Finally, 2 days later, I moved one more pile of fabric and there it was.  Phew. I was just about to go out and buy it again, but I've been saved.  Now I can go back and finish up those 2 blocks, and see if I can at least get to 1/2 way before the program ends.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Peacock is now complete!  Hours of piecing fun, and a few moments of sheer panic, but it is finally complete.  As I was getting down to the last pieces, I had about a dozen templates that weren't cut out yet that I figured were part of the background and I'd cut them as I needed them. But when I was finishing the last of the tail feathers, I realized that I only had 6" of fabric left, plus some odds and ends. Not nearly enough for all those templates.  I didn't know what to do, and actually walked away from it at that point for the night.

I thought about it, and hoped the missing bits would be outside edges and I could maybe make the quilt smaller to use only the fabric I had, because I knew I'd never find this fabric online anywhere. It's about 4 years old.

When I went back to it the next day, I looked at the pattern to see if I was right about where the pieces would go - and realized that I didn't need all 12!  Some of them were for one of the alternate layouts, and I only needed 2 more pieces of background fabric. The largest of them was almost exactly 6" wide. It fit perfectly on the strip I had left, I cut out the 2 templates and breathed a side of relief.  Of course, binding might be an issue, since I certainly would not be using background fabric for that.

In the end I opted for facing the edges. I was going to bind in one of the blues, but decided I didn't want a harsh transition there.  So here he is all quilted and faced.  Straight line quilting around the tail feathers, and some scallops that I hope look like feathers in the body of the peacock.

The pictures aren't very good, so I'll have to try again when the lighting is better.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Block Party

Another block party project.  The owner gave us this project, already cut out so it was a really quick project to put together.  The block is neat, and I love the finished quilt.  The pattern is "Round peg, square hole" by Krista Hennebury.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

(not my) UFO

Does this count as a UFO?  It's not mine, but a friend asked for help finishing off this project.  Of course I said yes. Unfortunately, I picked up the bits from her back in May and it's been languishing ever since.  Finally this weekend was a "me" weekend for my sewing - all up to date on customer quilts, so I could abide by my "no work weekend" policy.  So, I pulled out this quilt. And in the span of 5 Terminator movies, I finished it.

It doesn't show well against the white design wall - the star has a solid white border on all sides to finish it off as a lap quilt.

All set to return to the owner now, and one less project waiting on me.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Another new toy

This is a long-delayed post.  Back in May, my fabulous sister found this old Singer machine at a garage sale.  Apparently she immediately thought of me, and asked if I was interested. Of course I was!  From the photo it looked like it was in great shape, so she picked it up for me. Then the challenge was to figure out how to get it from Vancouver to Ottawa.  Fortunately for me, my mother was heading this way, so she became our "travel mule", accompanying the machine on the flight.

This little baby is way heavier than it looks, so carry-on was not an option, but stars aligned to allow my sister to take my mother & the machine to airport and get them checked in (comfy seat for one, and checked luggage for the other). And I met them at this end to retrieve both :)

I tried to restrain myself, but unpacking happened that night, despite the late hour.  Overall, the machine was as good as it looked in the photos. Except for the power cord and drive belt - both of which disintegrated in my hands.  So unpacking is as far as it got that night.

The next day, after some online research, we headed out to pick up parts for a new cord (fortunately the connector at the machine end was in fine shape), and a new belt - both obtained locally. Once those were in place, I powered her up, and the machine stitched wonderfully. No sticky bits or other issues. It was obviously well-stored, despite not being used for years (given the state of the cord, I assume it was in storage for 40 years or so).  A little oil, a little tweaking, and except for the clutch not disengaging for winding bobbins, everything works perfectly!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Block party pillow

This cute little project is from my Block Party group.  I apparently got the odd-one-out (and I missed the class), so I had a few minutes of concern during assembly. But a quick email to the owner and we confirmed that I was on the right track.  Can't wait to see her whole quilt done.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Apple Core

Every second Monday, I get together with a quilting group where everyone brings their handwork and we stitch and chat for a couple of hours. For the past year, this has been my project for those sessions.I always wanted to make an apple core quilt, so when a member was reducing her stash, I jumped at the chance to pick this up. I added a few more fabrics to the mix, and I've been working on blocks. I decided to make them in sets of 25. That way I'm not committed to a particular quilt size.

This is block #4, so the next step is to join these four together with my sashing fabric. Then I can decide how much further I want to go.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

PEI Modern Guild Mystery

The PEI Modern Quilt Guild is hosting a mystery this year, and everyone's invited!  Fabric selections came out over the summer, but there's still time to catch up. Step 1 is up now, and Step 2 won't be out until October 1, so you have lots of time.

I love mysteries, and I am feeling deprived since I didn't do any New Year's mysteries this year. So I jumped on the bandwagon over the summer and picked my fabrics.  Here is the result of my step 1 (see, it's easy).

Now I'm wondering if I should make 2 quilts - a second one with a dark background.  If I can figure out 2 accent colours, there's a good chance that's going to happen.

I'm joining the PEI Guild linkup here . There are even monthly prizes, if you do decide to join up (and everyone is welcome, international as well as Canadian).

Monday, September 4, 2017

Assembling Peacock

Poor little headless peacock is starting to come together now. I had a few moments of panic as I was finishing up the piecing for this.  The pattern called for 4 yards of fabric, and I was certain I had 4 meters, which should have been plenty. But I was down to the last few pieces of tail, and had about a dozen remaining templates in the pattern and only a 6" strip of fabric left :( 

I actually put it all aside and stopped quilting early that night, I was so depressed about this. The fabric is several years old and I'm sure I could never match it.  The next day, I had another look and was trying to figure out where the last pieces would go, to see if I could piece them from scraps, or make the quilt a bit smaller. And I suddenly realized that I only needed 2 of the remaining templates (the pattern has 2 layouts and the additional bits are for the other layout).  Cue joyful dancing, when I figured out that the largest of the 2 pieces I needed was exactly 6" wide - and hence came nicely out of my final strip of fabric.

On reflection, I must have had only 3 meters, rather than 4.  Good thing I didn't know that in advance, because I never would have risked it.  But all's well that ends well, and the pretty fella is coming along nicely.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


Here is proof that you should not let yourself get distracted while quilting. I took my eyes off the ruler a second before the needle stopped moving. Next thing I knew, SNAP! I still don't know exactly how this happened, but obviously I banged the ruler with the needle and this was the result. Two nice clean breaks.

Fortunately, the longarm seems to have survived just fine. A new needle and it's happily back to stitching. The ruler not so much. But a little super glue, and it's (almost) as good as new.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Headless peacock

The start of a new project. The first time I saw Violet Craft's new peacock pattern, I knew I had to have it. So when it arrived at my local quilt shop, I immediately ran over to pick it up. I knew I had the perfect fabric somewhere in my sewing room, because I remembered buying some peacock-coloured fabrics a couple of years ago.

Finding it was a bit of a challenge, until I recalled that I had put some fabric collections aside waiting for that perfect project. I pulled it out, checked quantities, and amazingly hsd enough of everything I needed, even the 4 yards of background.

24 (or so) quilting hours later, I have all the main feathers and a body for my peacock.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

One-block Wonder

I finally finished another UFO!  This quilt is at least 2 years old, but I'd have to do some digging to find out exactly when I started it. I remember when I bought the fabric - my very first Kaffe Fassett, and I had no idea what/who I was buying at the time, I just liked the look of it and thought it would make a great one-block Wonder. I used a green I had hanging around in my stash to extend the size a bit, and play with an alternate layout. 

When I was ready to quilt it, I realized it was still too small to donate to Victoria's Quilts, so I found some coordinating fabric and added the chevron border on one end.  I wasn't sure about it at first (but I was desperate), but it's starting to grow on me.

That pink smudge in the lower left is the dragonfly label, which is the mark of my Victoria's Quilts group.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Block party

I got a few good ideas on borders when I posted about this quilt last week. What I neglected to mention is that I would have preferred no border at all (as someone suggested), but I want to donate this to Victoria's Quilts so it required a 2-3" border on all sides to meet the size requirements.

That also meant that a double border (narrow inner border and wider outer border) wasn't an option either.  I decided to go with this - a pieced border that tries to continue the basic shading design out to the edges. I think it works, and now at 51"x69", I can donate this once I get it into my quilting queue.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Flight Path

And here it is!  This project didn't take too long.  Each of the airplanes is composed of 7 pieces of fabric, to create large blocks (12x15" I think?).  I quilted this on my new longarm. I figured it would take me about 30 minutes to do a quick wave across the quilt.  But I failed to consider the learning curve I'm still experiencing. 

I setup my pantograph, and had to fight with the computer for a while to get the rows to all flow how I wanted them.  Then, after I finished quilting the first row I noticed an issue with the second, so I had to reprogram it.  Which made it very difficult to line up with the first set of waves.  But, after much effort, I figured it out, got the quilt done, and I know how to quilt this pattern for next time.

The quilt was bound in the background fabric. But I delivered it to the shop before I remembered to take a finished picture.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Paper-Pieced Paper Airplanes

I was asked to make a sample for one of the local shops, so paper piecing landed at the top of the list of projects.  This is going to be "Flight Path", a set of paper airplanes.  So far, all the airplane bodies are made, just waiting for the background fabric to be added.  I hope the little bubbles and pulls I see in the points will disappear when the next pieces go on.

The colours don't show up very well here. The background is the dark fabric you see at the top. The airplane is pale blue, with a white center.  When the background fabric is added, I think they are going to pop nicley.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Block Party Borders

Done! Except for the borders.  I'm not sure what I want to do with this one, I don't really like either of the 2 fabrics shown here, around the full quilt. But I don't have enough of any others to even consider them.  May a pieced border will the way to go here.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Anita's Arrowheads

Earlier this year, I needed a block to make for a block party. 12 of us get together, and each month one person picks a quilt block, provides fabric to the rest and teaches them how to make it.  I picked Anita's Arrowhead for my block, because the piecing on this technique is pretty cool. My only problem was that while I love the block, I was not thrilled with any of the quilts I saw made with it.  But after some pondering, I came up with the idea to do a colourwash, similar to a blooming 9-patch pattern, using these blocks. 

I plotted it out in EQ6, found fabric in my stash, and got set to cut. But I was a bit short of a couple (of my favourite) fabrics. So, I reworked the plan and come up with an off-center design instead, which only needed as much fabric as I had on hand.  The finished quilt needed more than the 12 blocks I got from block party, so the picture above is in the process of being finished, as I make another 23 blocks.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Merry Mayhem 2016

This quilt was a New Year's Day mystery quilt, back in (I think) 2016.  It waited a long time to be finished. I finally finished the blocks in one of my finishing sprees earlier this year.  And now, it is quilted and ready to bind.

I played with my new Millie longarm for this. I designed a quilting design for the blocks and quilted all of them the same way. Then I created designs for the sashing and borders to finish it off.  I'm still figuring out the program. So far, I haven't managed to create a corner design that lets me finish borders nicely, but I'm having fun playing with the program, and am getting a handle on a lot of it.

This quilt will get bound soon, and then sent off to Victoria's Quilts in September.