Monday, June 20, 2016


I've had in my stash for many years a length of fabric with big bright butterflies all over it.  Pretty and bright, but hard to use -- I like piecing, and this isn't the kind of fabric that cuts up very well.  I cut out and appliqued a butterfly onto a bag once, and I did manage to use a good chunk of it to back a baby blanket recently, but another piece was left.  It had been put into the give away pile a few times but always got pulled back -- it was just too pretty!

The other day I came across it again and decided that NOW was the time to get this used up!  I cut out as many 6 1/2" squares as I could -- there were 20 -- perfect!  I found a striped fabric that used the same colours for the sashing and some scrappy yellow squares for cornerstones.  Great!  This is the beginning of a child-sized quilt.
Butterfly blocks on my design wall ready to become a quilt top.

And I picked up the rest of the fabric and dropped it into the trash!  

Gone!  That's the end of that fabric!

However, if you went into the sewing room later you might have seen this:
Maybe someone needed to "rescue" a couple of butterflies and a few two-inch squares
and some 2 1/2" triangles

Monday, May 30, 2016

Another one finished

Decided it was time to finish this one up.  It had been in the stack of class samples for many years.  If I decide to teach that particular class again I will enjoy having reason to make a fresh sample.

 I can identify two Y2K fabrics in there, so it was made after 2000, but the top has probably been around for at least a dozen years.  It was fun to notice the different fabrics as I handled the quilt -- bits and pieces from past projects, discoveries from long ago shopping expeditions, treasured gifts from friends.

The top was probably made in two sessions.  The 25-patch blocks reveal a "use anything and everything" approach.  By the time I did the borders I was trying to coordinate colours a little more.  I seem to remember the border was going to "use up all the blues and greens" -- hah!  you can imagine how successful that was!

I quilted this with a fluffy poly batt of a kind that I don't use much any more having moved to the flatter cottons that are easier to handle and that I can purchase by the roll.  But this was a good quality batt and worked up to make a nice fluffy quilt that I'm sure someone will use and enjoy.

25-patch blocks with red corners make a secondary design of 9-patches where they meet the squares in the sashing.  

Having a tall son home for a visit gave me the opportunity to get a photograph.  (Those boys are good for something!)   This quilt will be donated to a Good Cause and will be on its way to a new home sometime this week.   Meantime, that's one UFO off the list and a bit more space on the batting shelf!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Playing with value

I've been having fun experimenting with value placement.  The block I've been playing with here is my Wildflower block.  It appears in the current Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks (Volume 13).

I began by dividing  the block into five areas.  There are several ways of doing this but I chose the block corners as area 1, the background (area inside the corners and outside the petals) as area 2, the petals as area 3, the "lines" as area 4, the 4 small squares around the centre as area 5.  The small centre square usually ended up matching the petals.

Here we have a light background around strong petals and centre squares.  The light lines really stand out on this one (I decided to emphasize the lines by paying attention to the direction of the print on the fabric.)

The stronger background area encloses the bright petals.

Here the petals and lines seem to float above the lighter fabrics.

Light petals anchored by  the surrounding fabrics.  The small squares around the centre are just a bit darker than the petals and seem to add dimension.  
I realize it might be a bit of a challenge combining all these blocks into one project, but I have a plan.  I'll let you know how it works out!

Here are some more Wildflower blocks made by my friends.
My friend Louise framed the red petals with the strong print -- this reminds me of a flower against the leaves.

Marie made three blocks in bright spring greens for a table runner.

Carol used a large scale print for the petals, and the centre square provides a bright focus point.

Kim made cherry blossoms by constructing blocks in two sizes and placing them on an angle.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Package at my door!

Look what has arrived on my doorstep!

This magazine will be on news stands first week of May, but I have an advanced copy!  And how did I get an advanced copy, you ask?  (Thought you'd never ask!!)  That's because one of my blocks is in there!

I've been drooling over the lovely designs -- and taking frequent peeks at my own, as well!  There are several blocks I'd love to make, but I must get another project (top secret for the moment) completed first.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Happy Hearts

A pile of bright fabrics came together to make a baby quilt. Hearts, bright fabrics, soft edges -- it all added up to some cuddly love for a tiny baby.

When the members of my sewing group learned that one of our friends had suddenly found herself fighting breast cancer we decided to use this same simple block to make another quilt.

Quilters donated hearts in bright colours stitched onto black and white backgrounds.  We cut each heart in half, combined halves to make blocks, and added bright borders.
We paired up the heart halves and carefully chose
bright fabric strips to go around each block.

Each block was trimmed to produce a twisted frame.  Then we sewed blocks into rows and enjoyed the way the hearts and colours dance across the surface.

The back of the quilt incorporates leftover fabrics from the front
 along with muslin squares on which the recipient's friends
 have written notes of encouragement .
When the quilt is washed the edges of the hearts will roll and fray a bit to add a softer look to the design.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Smoothing Iron -- borders at last

Has this top really been sitting for more than two years?  When I last wrote about it it was still in the construction phase.  That blog post is here.  Since then I have completed the piecing and added a first border, yellow.

But the time has come for this project to be done.

I found a large piece (over 2 metres) of an intricate indigo print.  Clues on the selvage led me to a website that indicated this was a type of batik from Indonesia.  The design is very precise and the repeats are exact, so this is a different type of batik than what we usually buy in quilt shops today.

Since there are four complete repeats of the design running the length of the fabric my first thought was to cut the borders lengthwise.  But I couldn't find a five inch section I liked and making the pattern match at the corners seemed like a complicated task..

 I  decided to cut the strips across the fabric instead of along the length.  I was able to cut plenty of 5 inch strips with the designs centred -- as long a I cut the strips with a slight curve!
A bit of steam from the iron was enough to straighten each curved strip when I laid it between straight lines marked on the ironing board cover.  

Two strips together were long enough to make a border for the short side (width of quilt plus allowance for mitering.  I pieced them together, carefully reversing and matching the design at the centre.  Then I determined where the corners of the quilt were going to fall and made borders for the long sides, making sure that the same point would fall at the corners.  This meant I needed to splice extra length into the strips -- more careful matching.

With all that matching and pinning and stitching (and re-stitching), the designs worked out and I was able to complete four corners, all the same.

Yes, I do know that one should not combine butted borders and mitred borders in the same piece!  But there are a couple of reasons to do that here.  First, the yellow border was added many months ago, before the plans changed.  And second, I don't think a 45 degree mitre would look right meeting that 60 degree piecing line at the corner!  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

The completed top.  Next step -- quilting!

Monday, February 22, 2016

What was I thinking?

It all made perfect sense while I was doing it!

I came across some good-sized scraps of this pretty floral in a pile of donated fabrics:

There was plenty for borders of a quilt, so I proceeded to the scraps for some fabric that would go with it.  I was thinking oranges, browns, perhaps?

I came up with these:
A light print that picks up the gold, some golden yellows, a few red-violets.  Not what I expected, but I like it so far.

I made a batch of blocks.  This was the perfect chance to try out a new quilting book from the library. I had recently been asked to help select some new books for the quilting section.  I included Cut and Shuffle Quilts by Jan Ochterbeck on my list and was eager to read it as soon as it arrived.

I am always interested in techniques that involve sewing fabric together and then cutting it up again. I found the author's instructions very thorough and clearly illustrated.  She includes tips for cutting and piecing that make this a very useful book.

My dozen blocks were soon made and I started laying them out on the wall.  Dilemma -- I needed another colour in there, and nothing I tried seemed to work.  Orange was too -- orange-y.  Using the floral print for all the sashing was too much of the same thing, especially as I planned on using that for borders.  I finally consulted my colour tools and decided that a nice medium teal-y blue would fit the bill.  It would be a complement to all the red-orange that I was seeing.

But now that the quilt is all together, I don't know how successful that colour choice was!!
The blue plus signs in the sashing seem a bit surprised to find themselves there!

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not taking it apart!  I think a bit of blue in the border might have helped, but the quilt needed to be this size and no larger and there didn't seem to be room for blue.  I don't think a blue binding is the answer, either!

But -- as I often tell my friends -- the ONLY time anyone is going to be looking at this quilt and analyzing the colour balance is right now.  Once this quilt is finished and wrapped around someone what matters is that it is bright and colourful and warm and full of comfort.  Those rather odd bits of blue really won't matter.