Sunday, 31 December 2017

PEI Mystery

Slipping this photo in just under the wire. I acutally finished the blocks for both versions of my mystery quilts a couple of weeks ago, but blogging has been slow to happen, so here is a quick photo of the December clue for my dark quilt, before the clock strikes 12.

I'm enjoying this mystery process, but hoping desperately that scrappy is the way to go here.  I've again substituted some of my fat quarters for 2.5" squares that I had on hand.  And the light quilt (not shown here) had a small assembly error which resulted in even more scrappiness in that set of blocks.

Linking up with the mystery crew over at the PEI Modern Quilt blog.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Guild mystery - step 3

I've been working away on a few mysteries these past months. This is one of them, from the Ottawa Valley Quilt Guild. I'm not sure I'm thrilled with my colour choices - the yellow is really not right. But I'm stubborn and determined to push through anyway.  If I totally hate it in the end, maybe I'll remake the yellow squares - but probably not. 

The blocks are fun though, and when you are also doing Bonnie Hunter's mystery, a REALLY nice break. These pieces finished at 4". Bonnie's tend to finish at 1.5".  It's like working in giant-land when you switch directly from Bonnie to this one :)

Friday, 29 December 2017

Mini Trifecta

I saw this pattern - Trifecta - a couple of times recently. Once at a quilt show in May, and then a couple of months ago when a customer brought me one to quilt.  I absolutely love it, and knew back in May that I was going to make that quilt.  And that was reinforced when my customer dropped hers off. But it is so big -about 90" square - and I just don't need another giant quilt in my house.

So, rather than give up on the dream completely, I decided to downsize it and see what I could do from some precuts in my stash.  The original pattern uses strips that finish at 1". I originally considered using a jelly roll, and cutting each strip in half. But those would finish at 3/4", and it was still going to be a pretty big quilt (about 70x70" and my jelly roll would obviously not be enough fabric for it). So, a bit more thought, and I decided to cut each jelly roll strip in 3 pieces, 3/4" each. The resulting strips would finish at 1/4".

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I packed up my jelly roll and a bunch of white fabric and headed to a retreat.  Some further math suggested I only needed 1/2 of the jelly roll to make the miniature version of the quilt - which was perfect, because my jelly roll included 2 of each strip.  I spent the first morning at retreat cutting itty bitty strips. And then sewing them all back together again, in sets of 5.  Using a techinque I learned recently at class - to follow the previous stitching line, rather than the raw edge, when sewing a 1/4" piece - I managed to keep the strips all relatively straight and even.

Cut into the cutest little equilateral triangles you have ever seen (about 1 1/2" on a side), and from there, assembly was pretty straight forward. Simple in-the-ditch quilting was perfect for this quilt - which finishes at 20x22".

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Ruler Bag

I'm working on a bag to carry all of my rulers. I am tired of trying to juggle the big cutting board and my 24" ruler into retreats, so I've been pondering a bag for some time. It's been redesigned several times in my head, and now it's finally seeing light of day.

Of course, the redesigning hasn't stopped just because I started sewing. A few corrections as I go (always measure the actual cutting board, don't assume it's the same as another one you happen to have), but it's starting to take shape. Hopefully the final result will come close to my vision. And if I didn't miss anything, it will have a pocket for every ruler I own.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017


Do I dare count my UFOs this year?  I think I missed last year, and the closet has certainly changed its contents since then, so maybe a look-see is worthwhile. Then I can link up with Judy's UFO challenge and see if I get anything done this year :)

Tops in progress
  1. Winding Ways
  2. Kaffe jacob's ladder
  3. 150 Canadian Women
  4. spinning star
  5. small bulging checkerboard
  6. mini houses
  7. purple/olive quilt (needs borders)
  8. mini one block wonder
  9. squedge stripes
  10. ombre quilt
  11. 3-D cubes quilt
  12. Richmond guild mystery
  13. Patchwork Year 
  14. Gardener's Alphabet
Tops to quilt
  1. Labyrinth
  2. Row by Row (Water theme)
  3. Edge of 17 shop hop
  4.  yellow triangles
  5. Toes in the sand (?)
  6. Tell it to the stars - Patchwork Times 2014
  7. Border Creek mystery
  8. Peace, Love, Quilt mystery (hearts)
  9. scrappy swoon
  10. Kaffe Handkerchief 
  11. recipes wall hanging
  12. paper pieced houses
  13. paper pieced stars
  14. Easy Street - Bonnie Hunter 2012
  15. Block of the week
  16. Modern plus quilt
  17. One fabric quilt
  18. modern abstract quilt
  19. en Provence
  20. Triangle log cabin table runner
  21. diamond chain
  22. Blackford's Beauty
  23. Rainbow explosion
  24. hexies
  25. jar quilt (?)
  26. reflections of the north
  27. Kaffe stripes

Plus current projects (not yet UFO worthy)
  1. Bonnie Hunter mystery
  2. PEI Modern Guild mystery (times 2)
  3. OVQG mystery
  4. birthday quilt 
  5. string star
So, that's 41 UFOs, plus all my current projects.  I guess I have to pick 12 for Judy's challenge this year.  Let's aim for these completed in 2018:
  1.  150 Canadian Women
  2. small bulging checkerboard
  3. Kaffe jacob's ladder
  4. purple/olive quilt (needs borders)
  5. Richmond guild mystery
  6. Winding Ways
  7. en Provence
  8. Blackford's Beauty
  9. hexies
  10. Labyrinth
  11. Peace, Love, Quilt mystery (hearts)
  12. scrappy swoon

Sunday, 19 November 2017

"All Wrapped Up" Christmas Tree

 I'm on a bit of a Christmas kick around here, which is appropriate given the time of year. I have a few Christmas projects from past years that have been languishing for a while, so I pulled them out to finish up.  Number one is my All Wrapped Up Christmas Tree.  The block pattern in this quilt is "All Wrapped Up" from Missouri Star Quilt Company.  I did it in half-size - using 5" squares cut into quarters for the presents.

When the blocks were made at a retreat last November, I knew I didn't want to set them in a standard rectangular setting.  I had 36 blocks, but a 6x6 layout just seemed boring.  So I played around for a while and realized I could make a tree out of them. A few hours later, and some input from my retreat friends, and I had a Christmas tree with a few packages underneath.

I came home from retreat all inspired, and even bought some more of the ribbon fabric for binding. And then I put the tree away and ignored it for a year.  Pulled it out last week, dug out some backing for it (a grey flannel that I had bought for another project but changed my mind about), and loaded it on the longarm.  I knew this quit deserved custom quilting, so after some thought I settled on stars and swirls in the background, and outlining the packages and ribbons for the rest of the quilt.

Done and ready for use, in plenty of time for this Christmas.

Saturday, 28 October 2017


Image result for quilt pattern large trianglesThis quilt top has been on a journey. 2 years ago, I won a block draw at a quilting retreat. Everyone at that retreat made 2 blocks. They were large (9") half square triangle blocks, with Kaffe Fassett fabric in one half and white in the other.  I loved the fabrics, but the quilt top seemed a bit too simple for my tastes, so I decided to modify it. This was the original pattern.

I've played with this block design a few times now, and it cuts perfectly from the half-square triangle. By cutting all my blocks into 4 pieces, I got two half-square triangles and 2 plain squares from each block. The plain squares were easily made into two 4-patches, and the result could then be re-assembled into Jacob's Ladder blocks.

I knew what layout I wanted, and realized (half-way through making blocks) that it takes 2 slightly different blocks to make it. Fortunately, I figured that out before I got too far, and ended up with just the right number of blocks.  I decided an offset design would be a bit more interesting than centering it.  I tried to keep the arrangements random, mixing fabrics with each step of the process so no two blocks are alike, and (almost) no two identical fabrics are side by side.

The quilt top ended up 56x70". I think a border is needed, so I'll have to find a Kaffe Fassett fabric I like for that.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Christmas Wall Hangings

At my quilt retreat the other weekend, I took some fabric bundles with me in the hopes I would be inspired to finish something from them.  I ended up with 2 Christmas quilts. The first was a fabric bundle I picked up a few years ago. I fussy cut the cardinals from the birch tree fat quarter, and even managed to use most of odds and ends of trees that were left over.  3 fat quarters from the fabric line went into this little wall hanging, and the 4th FQ will make the binding once it's quilted.

The second one had grand intentions. I made 20 log cabin blocks to go around the wreath. But when they were done and 2 sides attached, I decided I really did not like it. Advice from my fellow retreaters was to keep it simple, so I removed the log cabins and replaced them with a simple blue border.  This keeps the quilt small enough to hang in my window as my December quilt, so that's a win, anyway.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Star Quilts

I was given 14 blocks that were made by the friend of a customer. She asked if I would be willing to finish them into a donation quilt. Of course I said yes. The package included some extra fabric of each of the fabrics used in the blocks.

The blocks were big (16") so I knew they'd make more than 1 quilt. And 14 was an odd number to start with, but I sat down with Electric Quilt and played with a few layouts. In the end, I settled on these two. One with 6 blocks in a straight setting. And one with 8 blocks set on point.

A weekend quilt retreat was just right for finishing these up into donation-sized projects.  It's not immediately obvious, but there were 2 different whites used in the blocks.  5 of one and 9 of the other.  So decision number 2 was how to split those up.  After some discussion at the retreat, the consensus was: 2 of the odd blocks in the center of the on-point quilt, and 3 in the other to give a sort of checkerboard layout.  In the photos, the white is just slightly brighter in those blocks.

I added the inner border on the first quilt from my stash, but everything else came from the bundle I was given. I'll use the last little bits of fabric to make pockets for the bags that we'll use for the donations.

Now to get these into the queue and quilt them before my next guild meeting.

Sunday, 22 October 2017


I found it!  I haven't seen the top of this table in ages, but I finally spent some time cleaning up and now I have full access to my cutting table.  The pile in the right corner is a quilt that needs to be finished. But it requires the full design wall, and there are currently a couple of other projects taking up that space.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Dashing Away

This quilt is made from some blocks I won at guild a couple of years ago. It took a long time, but I finally made the extra blocks I needed, and quilted this with a nice modern design. It will go to show and tell on Monday and then head off to Victoria's Quilts to keep someone warm and cozy.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Guild Mystery

In addition to 2 guilds doing the PEI Modern Guild mytery, another one of my guilds is doing its own mystery this year, and I've decided to join in.  Colour choice was 2 light, 2 dark, 1 medium. So I hunted through my stash and found a great background fabric - the dotty white.  Then I picked 4 more colours from the dots in that fabric.  I might regret this, but mysteries are all about stepping outside our comfort zone, so here goes!

I had originally chosen a darker yellow, but on examination, that was too similar in value to my mediums. So I hunted up something a little bit softer. 

Block number 1 - here's where my regrets start to show themselves. Pink and yellow - hmmm.

Saturday, 14 October 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, 12 October 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, 10 October 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, 8 October 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, 6 October 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, 4 October 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, 2 October 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, 30 September 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, 26 September 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, 24 September 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, 22 September 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, 20 September 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, 18 September 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, 16 September 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, 15 September 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.