Ruler Quilting 101 – Prep and Set-up

In previous posts, I talked about the benefits of using rulers for quilting on a domestic machine, what some of your options are for grips, and I showed you the bag I made for storing my rulers.

Next week, I will start a series of 9 posts that will end up as a Ruler Sampler quilt. In each post, I will give instructions for making 1 block using 1 primary ruler. The instructions will be detailed – intended for beginners. The rulers will be basic shapes – found in almost all beginner kits. Each block will have a variety of designs – designs for block centers, designs for boarders, and designs for corners. It is just a starting point, and the opportunity to practice. Here is a picture of the first block, using a straight ruler. I will be using a long ruler and a short ruler, but you can make it with either one.block1

If you already have rulers, I invite you to quilt along with me. You will need:

  • quilting rulers (straight, arc, circle, wave). If you do not have the shape I am using, improvise or just skip that block and make your sampler quilt smaller.
  • aspacing rulers small ruler for spacing (see picture for some options)
  • a ruler foot that fits your machine
  • 18 1/2″ square (minimum) quilt sandwich for each block. The designs are 18″ + SA.  A solid or near solid fabric with contrasting thread will make your quilting the most visible.

TIP: Test to make sure the needle is in the center of the foot and that you have 1/4″ on all sides. To do a test, draw a square of any size on a piece of fabric. With the ruler on the line, stitch all 4 lines, moving the ruler from right (of the ruler foot) to front to left to back. If it is not accurate, you might be able to adjust your needle R/L so that you have the 1/4″ on both sides. If you are not able to adjust your needle, you will have to adjust your quilting. Here is a picture of the test I did, and you can see that it is slightly off.

If you are interested but do not have any rulers yet,  you might want to wait until you read a couple posts before making a purchase. Each ruler has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. My experience with different brands is limited, but I will do a comparison of the rulers I have used and provide some commentary on them. You can then make a purchase based on your personal preferences.

Let’s also talk about set-up for a minute.

  • Set your machine up in the same way as you would for free motion quilting (FMQ) with the feed dogs down. The only difference is that you will be using the ruler foot.
  • Some people find that they have better speed control if they reverse their foot pedal so that you are pressing down with your heel instead of your toes.
  • You will need to use an extension table so that your rules can lay flat. The larger your rulers, the larger your table needs to be.
  • If your machine has a large throat space, you will be able to use bigger rulers. Smaller rulers will work better on smaller machines.

All of my work will be done on a Juki 2010 (high shank) and a Janome 2160 (low shank). Here are pictures.

You will notice that the set-up on the Juki isn’t ideal – I was working at our summer cottage on a small round table. The Janome is my light weight travel machine. It has a very small throat space. You do not need a lot of space or the most expensive machine to work with rulers. By using both of these machines I should run into some of the same issues you face and give some suggestions on ways to deal with them.

That’s it! Next time it will be Lesson One!

Posted in 2017, quilt along, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Welcome Back!

Hi everyone! Welcome back to my blog! Fall is in the air and leaves are starting to change colour. I love this time of year. But then again, I love every season.

How was your summer? What kind of creative things did you work on?

Here in Winnipeg, we had a perfect summer – day after day of gorgeous weather. Best of all, no mosquitoes! I had a blast.

BQ (before quilting), I enjoyed playing with glass mosaics. This summer, I decided to combine the 2 crafts – glass and quilting. If you can paint quilt blocks on the side of a barn, why not make quilt blocks of glass? I saw potential in this quilt block… and turned it into glass (without the flowers).

I made a quilt for my dad’s 85th birthday. He loved the flannel and fleece – I hope it will keep him warm this winter.

Being Raffle Chair for our local quilt guild REALLY should come with a shopping budget! Somehow I just CAN NOT resist buying something at EVERY shop! I found this pattern by Alison Glass (and fabric) at a new shop that carries modern fabrics (front/back).

I enjoyed working with the fabric so much, I designed a pattern and made a 12″ mini (front/back).

Then, I finished my Canada 150 quilts. You saw the first quilt in June; here is the second. There are 25 blocks in this quilt – collected from coat to coast. blockpartyfront

The back is pretty special, and determined the size of the quilt since I wanted the flags of all 13 territories/provinces on the quilt. blockpartyback

It was quilted with an overall pattern by my long-arm quilter. I started to run out of fabric (and could no longer buy it locally) so the borders and even the binding was pieced with scraps. Here is a close-up that shows you the quilting and the pieced binding.blockpartyclose

The good news is: Northcott fabrics has selected both of these quilts as part of their 13 finalist! The winning quilt will be chosen by viewer’s choice. YOU have the opportunity to decide. Simply vote for your favorite (It doesn’t have to be mine!). When I know more about when the voting starts/ends, I will share the link with you so that you can place your vote.

You know I hate to waste fabric. Once I started to work with the leftover scraps, I just kept going until I had 4 quilted pillowcases. pillowcases

Then I made a 12″ slab block (forgot to take a picture). It will be combined with blocks donated by others, and made into quilts for the Ronald McDonald House.

That is it! I am declaring my Canada 150 quilts done. I am ready to move on!

Speaking of which… The next post will continue with Ruler Quilting 101 on a domestic. I am really excited about it!

Finally, here are a couple more recipes from Ken’s Kitchen. Creamy Shells with Chicken and Broccoli, and pork chops with pan sauce. I can promise you that both are very good!.

Have a great week.


Posted in 2017, art, Canada 150, mini-quilts, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Ruler Grips and Storage

After 2 years of posting almost every week, I have decided to take the summer off. My life needs to get re-organized. Then there is travel, there is yard work, there are grandchildren to play with – and other fun things. Not that quilting isn’t. I will still quilt. And I will definitely play with rulers.

Last week we started a list of why you might want to use rulers. One comment I received was that rulers are cheaper than a long arm. So true! What a great addition to our list.

Having said that, getting started with a basic set of rulers and a ruler foot is still an investment. If you are just starting out, here are a couple more things to consider before you make a purchase.

Your rulers need to have good markings. Look for rulers with markings etched on as opposed to being painted on.

Rulers are very slippery. You will find that you probably need to add some ‘grip’. What are your options?

  • They sell grips made especially for rulers, but I have yet to see them in for sale in a quilt store.
  • I tried grip disks made for cutting rulers but did not find them sticky enough. They might work better with smaller rulers.
  • I have tried the hook side of hook & loop tape, but was frustrated by the fact that everything else stuck to it (esp. batting).
  • I tried stair tread tape from Ikea. It is a role of tape that feels like sandpaper. The grip works REALLY well, but it scratches everything in sight.

My solution was to make a ruler bag. Not only does it protect the rulers from scratching each other, it also keeps everything in one place and is easy to transport. Once you have invested into rulers, you want to treat them well.

The bag folds in half, ending up about the size of a large purse. Magnets and flaps hold everything in.ruler bag

It opens up flat. There are 3 pockets on the left. The pockets are layered. When the rulers are in their pockets, they don’t touch each other and they don’t lay on top of each other.ruler bag left

And there are 4 pockets on the right. In this case the small upper pockets are on top of the long pockets, so I did add padding for protection.ruler bag right

The small straight ruler was the hardest to accommodate. The handles prevent it from fitting nicely into a pocket. I ended up putting it along the spine, half way into a pocket and tied with ribbon. ruler bag inside

Now we are all set. I hope you will join me for some ruler quilting come September. Have a great summer!

Posted in 2017, my patterns, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The Ruler Craze

This is all pretty new and exciting – I just have to share. Last night I attended a reception and received a couple awards. Red River Ex

The Red River Exhibition had one prize for one year only under the category – what Canada Means to Me, in celebration of Canada’s 150th. It was the category I thought there might be a chance of winning. The stipulation was that the quilt had to have a maple leaf on the front. How much competition could there possibly be? The prize I did not expect was 3rd in the Self-Guided category. This is the first time I have seen a quilt of mine hanging in a display. It was special.

Moving on, today I want to talk about rulers. Not rulers for cutting, but rulers for quilting. Long Armers have kept ruler quilting somewhat of a secret, but in the last few years Ruler Quilting on domestic machines has gained popularity.  I have 7. Six came together in a starter kit, and I recently added another one.rulers

Why use rulers? Let’s start a list:

  1. Rulers will improve your Free Motion Quilting (FMQ). Don’t get me wrong. You have to be comfortable with FMQ to start with, but whatever your skill level is with FMQ, rulers will improve the result. Consider this example – if you write your signature in pencil because you want to get it perfect, and then go back over it in ink, the chances are that you will not be able to perfectly follow the pencil lines. Quilting is the same. After marking the pattern in chalk, ink or pencil very few achieve the perfection they would like when they retrace the lines with thread. Rulers, on the other hand, guide your stitching so that your lines are straighter and your curves smoother.
  2. You will save time. Instead of marking the whole quilt, you just need a few dots and dashes. Don’t call us lazy. Call us efficient..
  3. You will not have to worry about all the quilting lines that eventually need to be removed when you are done. I am one of those people who hate marking up their quilts. I have seen pencil marks on quilts decades later. I have seen chalk stains that did not come out, heard about marks that reappeared in the cold, and acid lines that disintegrated the fibers of the quilt. As far as I am considered, the fewer lines, the better.
  4. You can be more creative with rulers. Most stencils will only give you one pattern but one ruler can give you many different options. It’s also easier to ‘stretch’ or ‘contract’ a border.
  5. They are fun, fun, fun! At the beginning it feels like you have a third arm that you don’t quite know what to do with, but stick with it. In no time, your ‘to-be-quilted’ pile will shrink, and you might be making quilt tops just so that you have something to quilt!

But, let’s face it. It’s a confusing ruler world out there. Everyone is selling rulers. What to buy? There are so many different sizes, shapes, thicknesses.

First consideration – your rulers have to be compatible with your machine, so find out what kind will work best with the machine you use for FMQ. If it is a high shank machine you can use thicker rulers, if it is a low shank you will need thin rulers. Your throat size also makes a difference. Some of the rulers I have are too big to use comfortably. They keep bumping against the sides of my machine and I have to keep readjusting them. That is why I added a small straight ruler to my collection. However, it has handles which will work on my high shank machine, but will not work as well on my low shank machine because there is not much clearance between the handles and the threading elements of the machines. It sounds complicated but once you know what kind of machine you have, you will not feel so overwhelmed with the options.

You will also need a ruler foot. I was told I did not need a ruler foot as long as I used rulers that were at least 3/8″ thick. It did work – kind of. But it is so much easier with a ruler foot and I have added one to my collection.

The next important element is shape. Manufactures and shop owners would love to sell you a ruler for each shape, but you do not need them all. A few select ones are all you need. If you are thinking about buying rulers and don’t know where to start, I hope you will stick with me. Over the summer I want to make samples to show you many different patterns that you can make with just one ruler. It might help you decide which ones you like or don’t like.


Posted in Contests, ruler quilting, Uncategorized | 21 Comments

My Canada

It’s a good thing we have deadlines. The night before I handed my quilt in for judging, I was still stitching the label on.

You have been following the Canada 150 block party pieces my friends & I were collecting from across Canada. It was so much fun, but I had to call it quits at 36 blocks.

You have also seen bits and pieces of the first quilt. Here is the full version. Finished.Oh Canada front

I called this quilt My Canada because it focused on the whole country – from the map of Canada in the center, to the crest of each province and territory in the border.

There are 11 blocks in this quilt:

  • top row – Winterpeg (my design), On Guard (Saskatoon) and Foothills (Cochrane)
  • middle section – Canada heart (Kamloops), We Remember (North Battleford), All Around Canada (Calgary) Toque (Kamloops) and Alberta Proud (Grande Prairie)
  • bottom row – Vancouver (Vancouver), Great Blue Heron (Courtney)

The blocks are a good cross section of designs typical of Canada, but most were chosen because they had 3-D design elements or used lots of fusible web which meant I could not send it out for long arm quilting. I had to tackle the quilting myself.

It has been 3 years since I quilted anything myself, and I have never quilted anything larger than a twin on my domestic sewing machine. It required a strategy. A modified Quilt As You Go (QAYG) approach. Because I didn’t want to use sashing to join quilted sections together, I decided to quilt the center first, then add a side border and quilt it before adding the other side, top and then bottom. It was not without problems, but I would do it again. It was hard to get accurate measurements for the border but much easier to quilt. Blocking was key.

Let’s talk about the back for a minute. Oh Canada backThe Mountie panel was one of my first purchases, with the intent of using it on the back of this quilt. Besides that, I had 13 of each design element from the provincial panels, and it was becoming very difficult to buy any of this fabric in the local quilt stores. I wanted and needed to incorporate as much from the panels as possible without it looking ridiculous.

For placement of the elements, I used the mountie panel as a quide – Canada symbols at the top, the Canadian Crest along the bottom, and flags to the sides.

The quilting was suppose to be simple but you know how it goes. One thing always leads to another. I wanted to treat each block individually, but also wanted to unite them, so each block has some straight lines and some meandering lines. The curved lines were suppose to tie it all together, and represented the prairie wind. Add the snowflakes and you have a blizzard. Hey, I was doing this in the winter after all. It seemed appropriate then. Not so much now that it is sunny and +30 outside!

The snowflakes that were stitched into the quilting did not show up, and I was not happy with the machine stitching so I embroidered around them with a simple back stitch. It was such an improvement, that I did the same thing around the circles. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the deadline, I would still be stitching or unstitching on that quilt.

I learned a lot on this quilt and was actually glad that I was forced to quilt it myself. It gave me the chance to be a little creative and add some interesting details – like the name & location of each block, which is permanently stitched into the block as a record of where it is from. It is not ‘in-your-face’ but obvious enough if a person looks for it. If I did it all over again, it would turn out better. But I am not going to.

Now its on to quilt #2, which includes the remaining 25 blocks…

Posted in 2017, Canada 150, Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Saskatchewan Stitching Conference

I was armed. Coffee, cookies and the Country Register by my side. 800 kilometers of Highway 16 ahead of me. It was tempting to go via Moose Jaw just to visit two of my favorite quilt stores, but I couldn’t comprehend driving the extra 2 hours it would add to the trip.

I have seen the Saskatchewan Stitching Conference advertised in the Country Register for many years and have always wanted to go, but it took the gentle nudge of a friend to get me to sign up for a class I really wanted to take.

The Country Register also has a very handy map which pinpoints all the specialty shops in Manitoba & Saskatchewan. So I knew that my 8 hours in the car could be broken up with stops in Yorkton and Foam Lake. It was something to look forward to.

If you live on the prairies, you will know that when it comes to driving we really only have two seasons – winter and construction. Highway 16 was relatively free of construction, but construction (and rain) prevented my stop in Yorkton.  I have been told it is worth the stop. There are two things I never forget. Where to buy good soft ice cream and where to buy fabric. Next time.

Main Street, small town Saskatchewan is never hard to find, and Foam Lake was no exception. I had a lovely visit at Quiltworks Studio, and walked away with some treasures – A Laurel Burch Christmas book and fabric.sscburch

Humboldt was my destination. Before closing time. Another Main Street; another quilt shop. I made a quick stop at the Haus of Stitches for directions to the conference, and to have a look around. The offer to “start a tab” made walking out with a purchase almost too easy. Obviously they knew I would be further tempted with the supplies that were for sale at the conference.

Several kilometers and several right turns later I was at St. Peter’s College.

I was there for a class called Rulers 201 by Liz Thompson. It is my humble opinion that rulers will make the biggest change in domestic machine quilting in the next few years and I will talk more about rulers in the weeks to come.  For today, I want to focus on the rest of the conference.

Let’s start with knitting. I gave up knitting 30 years ago, but would almost consider taking it up again. This diverse class included the youngest student (a girl in Grade 7 who took a week off school in order to attend the conference), and a young university student who had been taught to knit by his girlfriend’s grandmother. The class was taught by Lucy Neatby. Here are pictures of a few of her samples, but I would encourage you to visit her website for more.

The spinning class was taught by Glenda Hudson, of The Wool Emporium. This class interested me because some day I will have a spinning wheel that has sat as a living room ornament for 50 years. sscspin

The bra making class with Beverly Johnson was very popular. We were told that as soon as you finish your first one, you want to lift up your shirt to show everyone. I do not have pictures to share.

Jan Bones took me back to my Clothing and Textile days at the University of Manitoba, where she taught when I was a student. I loved those classes! She now has her own line of lingerie patterns. My challenge to her, to you, or anyone else listening is to make flannel sleepwear that does not look childish or old ladyish. Maybe even a little sexy. Flannel is the most comfortable fabric ever. Why does it always have to be so ugly?!?! BTW, I bought one of her patterns, some flannel, and some lace. I will include myself in the challenge.

Jackie Van Fossen taught screen printing. She is a fibre artist who dabbles in many of the things that interest me – weaving, felting and botanical dying. We were encouraged to visit other classes but in this case, I was actually escorted to the class. The students shared their work and the process. Speaking of felt, another treasured purchase was this Alpaca yarn, which I want to felt and work into my landscape quilt (if I don’t knit it first). The Alpaca are farmed in Saskatchewan and I had a chance to talk with her. That’s one of the things I love about Saskatchewan. It is big enough to be diverse, but small enough to be personal. sscyarn

There seems to be significant interest in botanical dying. Comparing notes over the dinner table with Jackie and others has me excited about new possibilities! You may remember my Mad Scientist experiments from last summer (#1 – Food, Flowers and Fabric, #2 – Slow Textiles, #3 – Pincherries and Juniper and #4 – Going for Green). It will soon be time to start some new experiments.

So far I haven’t mentioned the quilting classes, but I saw some wonderful works-in-progress. Dianne Jansson taught Gypsy Wife. Here is the sample that was hanging on the wall. sscquilt

I instantly felt connected to Dianne because she designed the hardest block (by far) for the Northcott Block Party. It was the Star of Hope from DiVersity Quilting in Pritchard BC. I think I could learn a lot from Dianne, and would seriously consider taking any class she offers next year. star of hope

This short story would not be complete without mention of the newest celebrity in the garment world – Saskatchewan’s own Ron Collins, the first Canadian male to have patterns published by Vogue. He taught classes in fitting, and provided many of the samples for Saturday’s night fashion show.

My 2 days were packed – classes, meals, tours, fashion show, shopping, meet the teacher events, voting on their 15th anniversary challenge and even a stitching circle late in the evening. I don’t know how Wendy, her staff and maybe even more than a few of her friends keep it going for 10 days! They did a superb job as hosts of the Saskatchewan Stitching Conference. A personal thanks to Wendy who just magically appeared whenever I got lost, when I got locked out of my room, and when we needed supplies (i.e. toilet paper!). Until next year…


Posted in 2017, Highlighting others, travels, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Tesselation Twister

At long last I am revealing my most recent finish – Tesselation Twister. Tesselation is defined as a variety of geometric shapes, that are harmonious in nature but do not have any overlaps or repeats. It describes the quilting on this quilt perfectly. ‘Twister’ highlights the pattern and the tool used in making this quilt. I had many great name suggestions from my Facebook friends, and in the end combined several to come up with this one.

The story of this quilt started with some sparkly fabric I just couldn’t resist. If you have seen the beautiful colours and pre-cuts by Northcott Studio called Artisan Spirit Shimmer, you would understand why.swirl10

But it wasn’t long before I had buyer’s remorse. When is the last time you have seen sparkly fabric in a quilt? What kind of pattern should I use? What could I mix it with?

Then I came across a pattern called Twister Illusions by Quilt Moments. It was perfect. Of course I needed to buy more fabric to make it work. Such a hardship!

The project was set aside. Out of sight, out of mind. It was rediscovered during a construction project, as which time it jumped the cue to the front of the line and became #1 priority. I wrote more about the process in a post last August 10th.  Basically, the whole quilt is pieced with 5″ squares, which are then cut up using the Lil’ Twister tool. Then it is sewn back together again.

There is quite a lot of waste when using this took, so I cut the scraps into 2 1/2″ squares and used them on the back.swirl5

Then it went away for custom quilting. I didn’t know what to expect. Picking a name blind, and entrusting your quilt to someone you do not know comes with a certain amount of fear. Her credentials included belonging to the well respected Quilter’s Guild of North Dakota, and pictures of show quilts she has done for others.

She asked a lot of questions, and took notes. She knew what kind of stitches I preferred, and the ones I didn’t care for. Other than that, I had to trust her. She was free to be as creative as she liked.

When it was time to pick the quilt up, I had to be mentally prepared to hate it. I wanted to love it, but had to be prepared for the worst. If I didn’t like it, how would I react? Do you pretend to like it? Do you take it and run?

Then I saw it. I didn’t have to pretend. Not only did I love it. Not only is it a treasure I will cherish. It is a work of art. Every time I look at it, I see something new. Every time I look at it, I am amazed at the creativity; the attention to detail. Thank you Clem!

The stitching was a little difficult to capture on the black. Here are some close ups. The colours aren’t as clear, but the stitching is more noticeable.

It is a little clearer from the back, where the coloured threads show up more. You will notice that some of the designs carry across several thread changes. The work of a master quilter.

It was such a pleasure working with Clem Buzick of Creative Dimension.

Now, for a progress report on my 1st Canada Block Party quilt. I ALMOST cut the borders off but good quilter friends suggested I try blocking it first. The only space I could find big enough was the garage floor. blocking0Misting didn’t work, but a good soaking in the bathtub, lots of basting pins and several days drying did. It was magic. Well, almost. If the colours hadn’t run. Honestly, this quilt is fighting me every step of the way!

The binding is on and I just might meet my end-of-May deadline. The big reveal might be only a few weeks away.

This weekend I am off to Saskatchewan for a class called Rulers 201. I am so excited! I have played with rulers some, but know there must be tricks that make it more accurate and faster. Will let you know how that goes!

Have a great week.




Posted in 2017, Canada 150, Highlighting others, Scraps, Uncategorized | 5 Comments


I must be getting old and sentimental. My preference is to dream, plan, and do.

But this post looks back. Quilter’s often share books and magazines, which I pick up to read while I am on the treadmill, in the bath or before bed.

bookI have no idea where this charming book came from, but it was published in 1949, and closes with this short story as told by a great grandmother from Ohio:

“It took me more than twenty years, nearly twenty-five, I reckon,” she said, “in the evenings after super when the children were all put to bed. My whole life is in that quilt. It scares me sometimes when I look at it. All my joys and all my sorrows are stitched into those little pieces. When I was proud of the boys and when I was downright provoked and angry with them. When the girls annoyed me or when they gave me a warm feeling around my heart. And John too. He was stitched into that quilt and all the thirty years we were married. Sometimes I loved him and sometime I sat there hating him as I pieced the patched together. So they are all in that quilt, my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, my loves and hates. I tremble sometimes when I remember what that quilt knows about me.”

It was a nice story. But these days, can anyone relate? It would be unusual to take 25 years to make a quilt – more like 25 in five years. And most of us don’t use old linens, shirts, ties, or patches in our quilts.

Then I started cutting scraps – it’s something I do whenever I have a few extra minutes. I first told you about my scrap saving system in a post January 7, 2016 . Since then, I have added 1″ squares (for zenties) and confetti crumbs (for art quilts). The throw-away pile is getting very, very small.

I have yet to make a scrap quilt so why cut all these scraps? My son says I have OCD. He might be right. It feels right to take odd shaped scraps and cut them into nice little squares. It feels right to think these pieces of fabric will someday become something more than scrap. It feels right to be productive when nothing else fits my schedule.

And there is something meditative about cutting. Then I realize I can relate to the great grandmother from Ohio after all. I have 6 years of quilting memories. Each handful of scraps bring back memories…

  • Here is the cat-in-a-hat fabric I used when I made my grandson a quilt for his transition to a big boy bed. He was so small then; so big now.
  • There is fabric I used in a 40th anniversary quilt. I picked the fabric with the recipient in mind. Didn’t like it then and still don’t. But these tiny scraps is all I have to remember that quilt.
  • These are scraps used in 3 graduation quilts. They were boys and boys never say much. Do they use them? Did they like them?
  • I came across fabric from various classes I took, and think about each teacher. I wonder how they are doing. I wonder if they realize the impact they have on their students, and how we appreciate the knowledge they share.
  • I come across fabric from the first quilt I entered in a quilt show. I remember the weekend I was home alone and cut out all 2000 pieces. Then, as I put the blocks together they were too small and I had to wait over a year while I took more classes and improved on my 1/4″ seam before getting good enough to finish the quilt.
  • I come across scraps of fabric I know I didn’t buy, and try to remember where it came from. Some came from members of my satelite group. Sometimes they give me a piece just ’cause they think I might like it. Sometimes they are closet cleaning and I pick it up.
  • I come across scraps from fund raising challenges, and I think about the organizations/individuals who received quilts and pillowcases from our guild.
  • I come across scraps that remind me of destinations, of quilt shops I visited, of retreats, and of the friends I made.

So, what are your memories? Do you enjoy playing with scraps as much as I do?

One day I will make a scrap quilt. And that scrap quilt will have many many memories stitched into it. Hopefully, it won’t take 25 years to make.

Next week I promise to show you what I have been working on. It’s a matter of finding time and the space to block a quilt, and then take the pictures that do it justice.

Have a great week! Please don’t be shy about leaving comments. I love to hear your ideas.

Posted in Scraps, Uncategorized | 4 Comments


Spring has finally arrived – I hope!. As I write this, the frogs who have taken up residence in the pond just under our bedroom window, are trying to sing me to sleep. As usual, I am trying to solve design dilemmas in the middle of the night. Does anyone else do that?

Last weekend I went to my first quilt show of the spring season so I will show you a few pictures from there. It’s always so nice to see the fabulous work some people do. My biggest surprise was to see that someone who follows this blog entered the Hexi Holder she made in our Quilt-Along last January into the show. That was special!Hexi Holder

I love it when old tablecloths are rescued from second hand stores and repurposed into quilts. I believe it is a linen tablecloth that came from Value Village. It is a beauty, and has fabulous quilting.

Black, white plus 1 colour is always stunning. This seems to be the year of red, and I am gaining quite the appreciation for it. The first one shown here was made by a friend I quilt with most Tuesdays.

And here are a few more, just for eye candy.

Finally, I just have to include this one. DH always enjoyed playing Snakes & Ladders during our evenings at the cottage (FYI- no TV, no phone or internet coverage, and only 2 radio stations). I just might have to make one of these so that he can play with the grandkids. ac8

I will discuss my design issues another time. I am currently spending most of my time quilting my Canada Block Party quilt, desperately trying to finish it by my self-imposed deadline of May end. We will see if that happens.


This week I will leave you with a few recipes from Ken’s Kitchen. He deals with a number of international students, as reflected in some of these recipes:

Have a great week. Enjoy the nice weather, new flowers as they bloom, and frogs as they sing.

Posted in Highlighting others, recipes, Reclaimed and Repurposed, Uncategorized, vintage | 4 Comments

Applying Art Principles to Quilting; Part 1 – Colour

I am not an expert in art.

I even hesitate writing about it, knowing many of you are more artistic than I am. But I have tried to find art information specific to quilting. This post is to share my findings with you – and hopefully the writing part will help me remember!

Yesterday I attended a workshop called “Using Colour Can’t Scare Me” by artist/designer Bethany Garner. Last fall I took a Colour Confidence class from Laurie Ceesay at the Houston International Quilt Show. And I have been in seminars held by Karen Gillis Taylor, Pam Holland and Ricky Tims. All experts. All enjoyable. But all focused primarily on art quilts.

I hope that I will be able to apply the information I received on all my future art quilts, but at this point I am still trying to get a bed quilt right. Most of the art quilts use hand dyed fabric. I love hand dyed fabric, but won’t be making a bed quilt with it any time soon. Most art quilts are embellished with paint, buttons, or beads. Again, not likely on a bed quilt.

In my past sewing life of garment and home decor, I found patterns, found one fabric I loved, another 4 or 5 coordinating fabrics and then made multiple pieces of clothing that all worked with each other.

My first ever quilt (the Yellow Brick Road) called for 15 fat quarters in two colours. The staff at the quilt store were very helpful, but finding 15 coordinating fabrics in 2 colours is very different than finding 4 with one focus fabric!

Then you cut the fabric up, and the small pieces no longer contain all the colours of the larger piece.

Then you sew the pieces together, and you begin to have serious doubts. Pieces you would not normally put together are side by side.  Unlike garment construction, seams are not only visible, they form an integral part of the quilt.

Then you put the blocks together, and the look changes again. Primary and secondary patterns emerge, nothing like the fabrics you started with.

Then you make more colour decisions when you pick out your quilting threads. Quilting is whole other dimension! Light threads on dark; dark threads on light. Your quilt is bound to have one or the other, and information on this 3-D effect is seldom addressed.

I have taken many quilting books from the library in search of this information. One of the best was “Make and Love Quilts” by Mary K Fons. Most have a chapter on colour, and then simply talk about the colour wheel. Personally, I think the colour wheel is the most over rated tool ever(!) when it comes to quilting. In one of the workshops I attended, the instructor had us glue solid pieces of fabric around the colour wheel. How do you apply that to a bed quilt? Where on the colour wheel do you place a heavily patterned piece of fabric that contains a dozen colours? What about the large pieces of patterned fabrics that change when they are cut into small pieces? Where do you place the mottled batiks? How do you deal with colour when using fabrics that have a small amount but strong metallic elements (like the Japanese)? Where on the colour wheel do you place a fabric with two different but equal amounts of colour? Then, how do you apply that when you are picking 15 different fabrics, or 80 as I had to do on the split log cabin quilt I talked about a few weeks ago? Somehow I have a hard time applying talks of primary, tertiary, complementary and split complementary colours to my world of quilt making.

In another workshop the instructor talked about value and had us place 20 sheets of construction paper in value from light to dark. Again, I did not know how to apply that to a quilt, especially when using prints.

Maybe time solves everything. Maybe in time I will be able to visualize the finished product. Maybe in time I will learn to appreciate the colour wheel. Maybe in time I will make all the right decisions.  In the meantime, let me share with you some of what I have learned from the experts:

  • Colour creates unity and balance. This can be obtained when you keep borders, the squares of an Irish chain, the center square on a log cabin or other similar pattern pieces in the same colour family and of the same colour value.
  • Colour creates a mood, so think about the purpose your quilt will have, and the mood you want to set.
    • green is fresh and natural. It is restful for the eye and suggests stability and endurance. It has a strong emotional correspondence with safety.
    • blue is a cool restful colour that suggests serenity and dependability.
    • yellow is optimistic and happy but it is intense. It pops against all other colours. In most cases, moderation is required. One author suggests a 6:1 ratio (6 parts purple to 1 part yellow).
    • orange is flamoyant and controversial
    • red is stimulating and passionate. Some say that one red will go with every other red.
    • pink suggests love and tenderness.
    • purple is mysterious, rich and creative.
    • brown is earthy and comforting.
    • grey is neutral and everlasting. If you like modern, then grey is the new ‘little black dress’ that goes with everything.
    • black is sophisticated, classic and suggests power.
    • white provides balance and makes the other colours pop.
  • neutrals create balance. Neutrals + Scraps = balance. A patterned neutral is a piece that can go more than 1 way
  • solids give your eye a place to rest
  • tone-on-tone add visual interest
  • geometrics hold the eye
  • if using florals, mix large and small ones for variety
  • international fabrics create drama
  • novelty prints can be a challenge but cal also be the central element of a quilt
  • white noise is usually a piece with low contrast. Put them against a piece with high contrast so that you don’t get mud.
  • Value does all the work but Colour gets all the credit. Value, or the contrast between light and dark, is more important than colour. It is the secret ingredient that creates depth, and establishes the design. Value also expands and contracts. Dark values grouped together seem dense, light values seem airy.
  • Contrast is ALWAYS relative. It depends on what fabrics are placed next to it, and how it reads from 6 feet away.
  • the focal point if where the contrast is the greatest. Decrease contrast in areas that you do not want to accentuate.
  • More is sometimes better. A design that is not scrappy enough can look uncoordinated and limited. A fabric that is not right will stick out. Adding more fabrics, and cutting them smaller really does work.
  • quilts with repeat blocks need fabrics with strong contrast
  • when quilting, thread that is a couple shades darker is more forgiving. When you want to highlight the quilting, use a couple shades lighter.
  • use bright colours for modern quilts and subdued colours for traditional quilts.
  • warm colours (reds/yellows) and light values come forward; cool colours (blues/greens) and dark values recede. When you are substituting fabrics, consider whether it is an accent piece or a background piece. Different colours of the same value can work.
  • colours also have different visual impacts. Warm colours feel heavier than cool colours. Consider the placement of your warm colours and dark values so that your quilt will feel balanced. One example of this would be a watercolour quilt.
  • when working with analogous colours (3-4 colours beside each other on the colour wheel), include a ‘popper’ in a very small amount from across the colour wheel.
  • go for the Maverick Moment – blocks that diverge from general repetition. Make a block of an unexpected deviant colour; 95% happy, 5% risk. It’s unexpected, wierd and playful.

This has been rather a long post (with no pictures!) but I hope you get something out of it. Please feel free to post comments and give me your suggestions. They are all very welcome! Have a great week.

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