Goodbye Covid! Hello Summer!

How did June end up so busy? Maybe it was the luxury of NO commitments through the period of social isolation that suddenly made one appointment or one activity in a day feel busy.

The next question is – how many masks or PPE did you make? It would be interesting to know what the collective count of all of our efforts would be. My contribution, moderate compared to many, was 56 masks and 6 scrub hats.

Besides masks, June found me finishing a challenge, testing a pattern, and starting 2 quilts for the grandsons.

One at a time…

The Challenge I finished was the ‘Diana’ Challenge being hosted by Cherrywood Fabrics. The time frame has now been extended so although I worked hard to finish by the initial deadline, I will refrain from showing pictures at this time. But its not too late for you. Check it out. It might interest you!

Pattern testing was a first, and it was fun. This is a Row of the Month pattern designed by Marj Moore that will be available through Design Wall come September. The fabric and pattern for one row will be made available every month for 8 months. Here is a peak – row by row.

Row 1: I have always wanted to do a quilt with houses on it. row 1

Row 2: A fairly simple flower that can be done as raw edge applique, or needle turned. row 2

Row 3: A pieced flower. I really liked this one. row 3

Row 4: Another appliqued row that add a soft touch to the quilt row 4

Row 5: A variation on a log cabin that looks really different from a normal log cabin block.row 5

Row 6: A lot of work, but definitely worth it! This is my favorite. row 6

Row 7: Another row that is very different, but not difficult. row 7

Row 8: A traditional checkerboard row that ties it all together. row 8

If you would like to do this quilt, send Simone at Design Wall a message and get your name on the list. Your quilt will look different than mine, but here is the grand reveal… row final

Quilts for the grandsons will be done for their birthdays (August). Or Christmas (year to be determined). Both are hockey themed quilts -the same but different. Similar enough to avoid competition; different enough to tell apart.

The time has come for me to make a decision concerning this blog. Do I want to continue, or don’t I? Do I want to pay for an updated site (more options), or not? Either way, WordPress is changing the way it functions so no matter what, things are changing. By the end of the summer, I will decide. Have a great one!

Posted in 2020, challenges, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Manitoba Eye Spy

Our Province has a big birthday in May. Of course all celebrations have been postponed but fortunately, quilting does not break any physical distancing rules so I was able to work on my Manitoba 150 quilt. Here is the official logo. It represents Manitoba at the heart of Canada, linking the East and West. IMG_0993

Just 3 years ago, I made quilts for Canada’s 150th. It was so much fun that I wanted to do something similar to celebrate Manitoba’s birthday. That was the purpose behind this quilt. MB150

Inspiration came from a Shop Hop I did in Hawaii. Blocks collected from individual shops could be made on their own, but formed a bigger picture reflecting a nice Hawaiian scene when combined. Loving puzzles, I wondered if I could so something similar. There are almost 40 symbols in this quilt. Download the Manitoba Eye Spy list, and see if you can find them all…

For the past week, I posted pictures of the individual blocks, with an explanation of each on FaceBook. I did not want to simply repeat that so instead, I will give you my design process – hoping to help you if you want to make something personal and meaningful, but just don’t know where to start.

Step 1: Decide the theme. This time it was Manitoba 150; in the past my themes have been ‘Hometowns“, events like Advent, or the monthly themes I had in the “One Million Mile Postcard Challenge”.

Step 2: Decide on the parameters. I wanted to use the map of Manitoba as an outline so needed a rectangle.  Twelve 12″ blocks in a 3 X 4 configuration would end up in a quilt 36″ x 48″.  That seemed good considering everything I wanted to put on it.

I considered a block size more compatible for printing but stuck with a 12″ block because it is so very flexible. It can be divided into 1″ (flying geese), 2″ (HST), 3″ (snowball blocks), 4″ (sections of Lake Winnipeg), and 6″ (log cabin) segments. 

Step 3: Make a rough draft on paper to actual size. Go digital if you want, but I find it easier to estimate scale, to jot down notes about initial pattern ideas, colours, and patterns as well as to erase and re-draw on paper.  When you get bogged down in the middle of a project, it sometimes helps to review the original plan. 

Step 4: Research. Decide on your ‘must haves’. In my case, there were quilting blocks I thought were relevant – Prairie Points along the border we share with Saskatchewan, Snowball blocks – name appropriate, but also a visual picture of the prairie landscape, Flying Geese units – we see thousand of Canadian Geese every spring and fall as they migrate north & south, and the Log Cabin block to recognize pioneers who built our country.

Make a list of ‘potentials’. Travel brochures and websites can give lots of ideas. In my case, I didn’t want to just go with the most obvious (some might go into a border or the label) but choose things that were either less known, or seemed most relevant for the area – like the Provincial Tree (White Spruce on Prairie Mountains), the Provincial bird (Great Grey Owl), Provincial flower (Prairie Crocus), and Provincial fish (Walleye).

Step 5: Work out your piecing pattern on graph paper (without seam allowances). Simplify your design so that you have as many straight lines as possible. Start with the blocks that are clearest in your mind.

Plan for another layer of interest, considering the elements of design that you are familiar with – balance, variation, repetition, contrast, focal point. At the planning stage the additional layer of interest is usually just notes and scribbles that will be worked out in detail at the construction stage. Use whatever tools you have in your toolkit, but try to attempt something new with each project. I tried to add a piece of raw-edge embroidery to each block. Sometimes it was very small (e.g. maple leaf to indicate the geographical center of Canada); MB150 R4C3 on another block it was a little hand stitching (Mantario trail). MB150 R3C3

Step 6: Construction Stage. Start with the most important, or most risky block as it will set the tone for the rest of the pieces. For me, that was the Northern Lights, which I re-did 5 times. First the paper plan… MB150 NL 0The first attempt fell short of expectations…MB150 NL1 The approach for the second attempt was slightly different but still was not what I wanted… MB150 NL2the third attempt was going in the right direction but I did not like the row at the top… MB150 NL 4

I decided to try to make the fabric work but it wasn’t dramatic enough.. MB150 NL 3

It was back to the previous design with modifications, and that would have to do.

The 3 blocks at the top were the clearest in my mind – water for Hudson’s Bay, tundra in bloom, a dark night sky for the owl and snowflakes or the Milky Way (your pick), so those were pieced next. (Remember to add the SA!)

Lake Winnipeg (10th largest lake in the world) with sand beaches, a pine tree, rocky interlake and geese migrating south was a piecing challenge. I had to find ways to further simplify the design. MB150 R3C2

With the prairie landscape, colour became the issue. I had visions of different crops, different seasons, and different symbols. At this point I almost called it quits. Nothing worked until I decided to use the same fabric for all the blocks and eliminated all symbols.

The remaining blocks were easier to piece at this point and I could add the raw edge embroidery to all the blocks at the same time. Doing this at the end allowed me to work in colours for balance, and consider the scale of each piece.

I also consider what the quilting might be at this point. This is best illustrated by the Boreal Forest (a UNESCO world heritage site). The trees you see were done with free-motion stitching. Darker background trees will be added with FMQ. MB150 R2C3

Step 7: Recognize and accept your weaknesses. My handicap is drawing, so I have to keep all my elements ‘colouring book’ simple. I really wish I could draw but I can’t. What that means that if I can do it, so can you! My workaround is to get the fabric to work for me as much as possible. The Owl is one example; the White Spruce another: MB150 R2C1

Don’t worry if you don’t get it all right. It will NEVER come out the way you had it pictured in your mind, and you will ALWAYS be tempted to call it quits at some point. Stay with it. Even if you consider one piece a failure, you will have learned something. As you go, you will have more and more ideas, and it will all come together in a way you didn’t even plan. You might even like it.

If you have never done anything like this before and want to try, start small. Fabric postcards are a great way to experiment.

 

Posted in 2020, Canada 150, challenges, Inspirational, my patterns, Skill Builders, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Circle Game & Amazon Star Revealed

Kindergarten. Grade 3. Home schooling was not on my agenda. With school cancelled until September, we now have the grandboys several days a week. 

Ken’s Kitchen is in charge of reading, math and science – mostly done with recipes. So far, the grandboys have made granola, smoothies, cookies and waffles. They are learning fractions, measurements and cooking terms.

Writing, games, Art and Crafts are my territory. Who knew that the mats I use for blocking quilts make such good forts? or an ice rink? All those quilting magazines, so full of basic shapes to trace, words for searching or word games, to say nothing of buttons, zippers and a host of other child friendly gadgets.

Unfortunately, my supply of child themed fabric is almost non-existent. I found one panel to split between two boys. pillow panel

Good enough for a pillow? Three seams, turning inside out, stuffing, a little hand stitching, learning to ‘drive’ a sewing machine… felt like a good beginner project. And I had some happy boys.

What WAS on the agenda, was our local quilt show, which is a non-event this year. You have seen bits and pieces of the quilts I was making. I was hoping to give you the big reveal as they hung in the show, but this will have to do.

First up – The Circle Game -mine will be called Game Over – pattern by Jen Kingwell (slightly altered). I started with a pattern I didn’t particularly like and fabric I would never have purchased(it was a club project) and ended up really bonding with this quilt. Two+ years in the making, I was sad when it was over. Everything was a first – Hand piecing, hand quilting (300 hours of big stitch and micro stitch), hand applique, and big-stitch embroidery. A rotary cutter was only used for the border; a sewing machine only for the binding. Game Over fullGame Over sashingGame Over blockGame Over backGame Over binding detail

Amazon Star by Judy Neimeyer – mine will be called Northern Star -was the other large quilt I was going to enter into the Quilt Show. It has drama and was fun to sew, but did not take nearly as long to make. The custom quilting was done by Joan Mork. I loved the designs she choose for the different sections of the quilt. Norther Star full viewNorthern Star close upNorther Star back

How about you, my friend? Has your world been turned upside down? Stay safe, stay busy and stay connected.

Posted in 2020, hand piecing, Quilt Shows, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

March Madness

We made it to Hawaii, and back. My favorite picture comes from the view we woke up to every morning. good morning

Now, the world seems in crisis. Everything in my life has been postponed or cancelled. Fortunately, I have enough food to last a long time, and enough fabric to keep me busy. 

Over 3 days in Hawaii, I had 22 students from California, Washington, Alaska and the various Islands. Students really are the best part about teaching!

I always neglect to take enough pictures, so from my limited supply, here are a few from the ‘Designing With Rulers’ class… design3design2design1design 4

A kit was prepared ahead of time for the Ruler Tote Bag. In spite of some machine issues, they were pretty well at the binding stage by the end of the day.

If you are interested in making this tote, you can obtain the pattern through Design WallIt has more than a dozen pockets to keep your quilting rulers protected, together, and ready to go.  ruler bag outsideruler bag inside

While in Hawaii, we attended a local Quilt Show with the theme “Reaching for the Stars.” Non-theme quilts were allowed as well. Here is a small sample: quilt show7quilt show 8quilt show6quilt show2quilt show1quilt show3quilt show4quilt show5

Returning home, we had to take a couple unexpected car trips. I was so Very thankful I had some hand stitching so that I did not have to look at the blowing snow and ice covered roads. DH is a good driver but even so, we were pulled into the ditch on one occasion and had many other nail biting moments. Looking at fabric is much more calming. Long story short, the binding is done on BOTH of my big quilts – The Circle Game, and Amazon Star. Pictures will come when I find a space big enough to take them in.

The following weeks were suppose to be busy with Quilt Show preperations, but that too has been cancelled. You will basically be my link to the outside world. Stay safe. Stay busy. And stay in touch.

Posted in 2020, art, Classes, Highlighting others, my patterns, Quilt Shows, ruler quilting, travels, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quilting Highlights – January

It’s been a month since my last post, and I no longer feel like I’m sinking. It was a productive month!

So, my Temperature quilt is looking rather blue… IMG_0620

I may be the ONLY person in Winnipeg wishing for colder temps just so that I can add some purple! There were only 2 days in January that were in the minus 30 range.

Two Challenge quilts were finished. The first is called ‘Cat & Mouse Games’. Nothing spectacular, but done. The challenge was to use 3 fabrics provided (green, purple, blue), plus a max of 5 more. There was no theme. IMG_0610

My playful addition was to quilt the following phrases into the border:

  • Catch me if you can,
  • Run for your life,
  • No where to hide, and
  • That’s what you think.

This mini-quilt will be auctioned off at our Quilt Show with all proceeds going to a local charity. I hope someone likes it well enough to purchase it.

The second challenge was harder but ended up more fun. The theme was ‘Gateway to Adventure’. We had to use (ugly) forest green and only three other fabrics. To ‘stretch’ my fabric choice, I used silk fusion, and did some thread work.

In this case, I decided to use a conceptional approach. I thought of life events that can be considered an adventure – marriage, divorce, having a baby, a career, graduation, spirituality, quilting, travel, or a move.

To illustrate the concept, I created a courtyard where a person could continue to walk in circles until they decided to step through a door to start their new adventure.IMG_0602

What is behind Door #1? – #9? I decided to call this piece ‘Your Adventure, Your Choice’. My playful addition in this case was to FMQ the examples of life adventures given above to the back of each door.IMG_0603

All of the challenge quilts will be displayed at the next meeting and a winner chosen by vote. The winning quilt will be our provincial rep at the National Canadian Quilt Show, and then go on tour.

Amazon Star is back from the quilter. She did an amazing job selecting designs for the quilt. My only regret is on the fabric I selected for the back. It is a white batik, with a design painted on. Very pretty, but difficult. Here is a sneak peak of the back…IMG_0622

Quilting on the Circle Game is also done, done, done! Almost 300 hours of micro and big-stitch quilting. Another back view…Circle Game

Now it is on to the binding. I will give pictures, credits and more info of both quilts after judging in April.

Ken’s Kitchen was also busy in January. He prepared some delicious meals, and sent recipes for the following:

I hope to touch base with you again at the end of February. Keep quilting and creating!

Posted in 2020, art, challenges, mini-quilts, recipes, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Vanishing Act

Out of necessity, 2020 will see changes to my blog.

This is painful, coming off my best year yet – 43,000 views, almost 15,000 visitors, from 90 different countries. But I may have said ‘yes’ to just a few too many things.

Top priority is our local quilt show in April. IMG_0591

I am involved in planning 1-Hr Lectures, offering On-Site Appraisals, and having a ‘Sit-and-Stitch’ station. This is what the week-end looks like at a glance. More information, including on-line registration, can be found at Manitoba Prairie Quilters. It will be a great show, so come if you can and plan to rest your feet as you take in one (or more) of the wonderful slate of Lectures. IMG_0592

This is a judged show, and I hope to have a few entries. Amazon Star (to be renamed Northern Star) will be in the Two Person category. It is coming back from the Quilter at the end of January so I will just need to do the binding and label. This is the picture I shared last. layout1

I am cautiously optimistic that The Circle Game (new name undecided) will be done in time for Quilt Reflections in the hand-quilted category. If you have been with me for the past two years, you will have read more than one post about the Circle Game. The first 18 months were spent on hand piecing, big stitch embroidery and hand applique; the past six months hand quilting the circles. I am now on the border, but there is still a long way to go.

Between now and April, I also have some classes to teach. If you enjoyed my Ruler Quilting series and still do not have a warm winter holiday planned, why not check out Quilting on the Beach in Kona? I am teaching 3 classes – Introduction to Ruler Quilting, Designing with Rulers, and a Ruler Hand Bag Class. In fact, I spent the time between Christmas and New Year’s writing up the pattern. Quilting Ruler Hand Bag

Quilting Ruler Hand Bag

Inside pockets – opens up flat

Also on the ‘To Do’ list are 3 challenge quilts. Why, you ask? I don’t know, is the answer. Challenges are just irresistible. It’s a chance to be creative on a small scale – a chance to try everything and anything.

All of this means I need to hibernate in my little house and be productive.

You won’t be totally neglected. I will do an occasional update on the Temperature Quilt, the Challenge Quilts and other finishes, although I won’t post pictures of my Quilt Show pieces until after the event.

I also need to re-evaluate my blog, determine where to go from here, and what the focus will be. This is where you can help. What is it you like, or not? What would you like to see more of? Less of? If you have any words of wisdom, please leave me a comment. This time I will not post any of them.  

Wishing you all the best for 2020. Keep quilting – it is music for your fingers, nourishment for the soul.

Posted in challenges, Classes, my patterns, Quilt Shows, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Temperature Quilt 2020

Canadian Prairie Folk are obsessed with weather.

My grandfather’s diary goes back 100 years. I wish I could read all of it, but I’m sure it included the temperatures of that day. This was labeled Volume 2. I don’t know what happened to Volume 1, but I have many more – all the way to the 1970’s.IMG_0567

My father did the same. Between the two, I have the basics of people, places, prices and temperatures for a century. Being an electrician, he loved gadgets so also had an electronic gauge that reflected time and temperatures to the ceiling. That way, no matter what time of night you woke up, you could look up at the ceiling and know the basics.

As for me, I seldom get out of bed in the morning without first listening to the news and weather. When I was working it determined what I would wear. Now it often determines what I will do that day. Too cold to go out? A perfect quilting day.

So it should come as no surprise that a temperature quilt appealed to me. I first heard about it last year, and have been thinking about it ever since. I would just HAVE to make one in 2020.

What is a temperature quilt? It is a quilt that reflects the temperatures for every day that year.  A diary in fabric. 

My first consideration was the fabric itself. I would need 18 different colours if I was going to have a colour change every 5 degrees, with a range from +40 degrees (Celsius) to -40 degrees. In the end I choose the Colorway line and selected pieces from the Blue Lagoon line by Cherrywood. The background will be Onyx. IMG_0556

I was determined to come up with a good design, but what? Should I make the blocks like calendar months? This would make for an easy 3 block x 4 block design, but it would also have a fair number of blanks squares at the beginning and end of each month – and just a little too choppy for my taste. I wanted a quilt that told a story, but didn’t want it to look like an obvious calendar.

I considered doing one block per week in which case I could work with larger more complex blocks. Most blocks, however, have units with even numbers. There are not many with seven sections. Also, 52 weeks does not work into a nice square or rectangle.

The next thought was to run one day into the next. After all, the calendar is a man made way of organizing a year. In real life temperatures just flow from day to day. Not having the sashing between blocks, or not having blank days in a monthly calendar would be more of a real life feeling.

2020 is a leap year so it has 366 days – at least an even number to work with. Seventeen columns, and 22 rows at 4.5″ (finished) would result in a quilt 77″ X 99″ and only have 4 small blank blocks that I could place at the beginning or end. I could even quilt the year into them. Not bad.

The next consideration was on how easy or complex to make each block. If I was only going to record one temperature what would it be? The high? The low? High in summer and low in winter? Would it reflect the ‘feel like’ temperatures? Would it include any other weather factors? For example, snowflakes/raindrops appliqued on? Or, maybe words quilted into the block. Okay. Now I was getting carried away again. Considerations, none-the-less.

One year is a long time to stick with something. I had to scale scale back the dreams. It had to be kept simple. Very simple, in fact. So here is the plan and prep.

Cut 5″ squares. IMG_0564

Organized by month IMG_0565

The coloured fabric has been fused with Wonder Under. I really have no idea how much I will need but suspect I may need more for colours in the -20 to +20 range. IMG_0569

And this will be my tool: IMG_0575

I have decided to do circles in raw-edge applique that will be applied to the background fabric. In order to accurately reflect my experience, I felt that it was important to include circles for that day’s full range of temperatures so I will use different size circles, depending on the number of circles I will need for that day. Since most of the prep is already done, all I will need to do is draw circles, cut and iron them on to the background. Stitching around the circles can be done at any time and is a good quilt retreat type of exercise. The quilting at the end will be minimal.

The vision is to start at one corner, and work diagonally to the opposite corner. My expectation is that there will be many shades of blues and greens at the beginning and end with yellows, oranges and reds in the middle. I just hope that it doesn’t look like my quilt has the measles!

Posted in Inspirational, my patterns, quilt along, super simple quilting, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Ruler Gremlins

Some days it seems like Gremlins have taken up residence in your sewing machine. The thread breaks. Stitches skip. Generally, just a mess.

This seems especially true when you want nice quilting stitches, you have rulers in hand, and you are working in the most obvious spot on the quilt.

This post is about troubleshooting. Some of the points are obvious, but included for the sake of a complete list – or at least as complete as I can make it.

  1. Needle.

“Change your needle” is the most common advise given, but perhaps a little trite. Where do you start? and what do you change to? They advise using a size 14 or 16 Topstitch needle for Ruler Quilting. Personally, I seldom use needles that large because of the large holes they leave behind.

I make a selection in the following order: size, type, brand. For size, my go-to would be a size 12 but could go up or down, depending on the weight of the thread. First choice for Type would be Topstitch or Embroidery. Both have a larger eye and a groove to protect the thread. If I don’t have a Topstitch or Embroidery needle in the appropriate size, the next choice would be a Quilting or Sharp/Microtex. Brand is not as important. A couple of my machines have specific needles recommended by the Manufacturer and I try to use those.

If you are having problems, needles are the place to start. Change to a new needle once, and if that still doesn’t work, change brands or type and try another one. Even new needles can be defective. If your thread is shredding, go up a size. 

2. Thread.

Best practice is to use the same threads, top and bottom. There are times though when you do not want the same thread on the back. For example, the bed runner I have been working on has many, many thread changes. I did not have enough bobbins for all the specific threads so I picked the thread with the middle value, that could go with most of the threads. If there are problems, I change the bobbin thread so that it is at least the same weight as the top thread.

Another consideration is fiber content. One of the first rules I learned in quilting was that you should only use cotton thread. Yes, that may be best if you are making a masterpiece and want it to last 100 years. Quilts that are loved and used everyday can have their own personality, and that includes the look of other threads and the interaction between thread and fabric.

Cotton thread (even good quality ones) shred and break faster than rayon or polyester so if you are having problems, go with a thread that is stronger and a little more ‘slippery’. Every machine seems to have it’s own thread preferences. Pay attention, and learn to avoid the threads that always break. My machine does not like one of my favorite threads – King Tut Superior – so I tend to avoid it for free motion Ruler Quilting.

3. Ruler Foot

I tend to go with ruler feet that are produced by the manufactures of the machines I own, assuming it will give me the least problems. In one case, however, I suffered many, many hour of frustration before buying another foot (different brand). The problem was solved. All of that to say that not all ruler feet work the way they should, and you may have to try another one. This can be an expensive proposition, and you will want to explore all other possible solutions first.

4. Height of the Ruler Foot

The foot needs to have a light enough touch to skim the fabric, but still come in contact with the pressure plate when you are sewing. If your stitches are skipping, your Ruler Foot may be too high. Try lowering it just a bit so that it has an easier time picking up the bobbin thread.

5. Stitching Direction

Many machines don’t like stitching backwards and some don’t particularly like stitching from left to right.

You just might have to let your machine be boss. If your project is small enough, rotate it so that you are sewing in a direction it likes. Otherwise, try tricking it by by stitching at angles rather than straight forward/backward and side to side.

6. Fabric

This one may come as a surprise to you. It did me.

Many tone-on-tone fabrics have beautiful motifs applied to the top of the fabric. For example, the grunge bed runner I have been working on has some very pretty, subtle polka dots. It took awhile to realize that my skipped stitches occurred whenever I was stitching over the polka dots. Having started, I couldn’t avoid them altogether but I tried to minimize the number of stitches by going off center. You can see that in the following picture. Slower stitching also seems to help. In the future, I will avoid buying these types of fabrics.clamshells2

7. Mood

Don’t ask me how this works. It just does. You, or your machine may be feeling moody that day, and nothing wants to work. Walk away and do something else. Another day/time, it will be all good.

Posted in ruler quilting, Skill Builders, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

RQ 201 – Doing it the Hard Way

I was recently reminded that you learn more from your mistakes than from your successes. Small comfort.

There were so many times the rotary cutter almost made contact with fabric, but I refused to give up quite that easily. The square flower I stitched last time was okay, but after that I was lost. A ‘basic’ plan wasn’t enough.

Once I started stitching, the agenda changed. I started exploring ideas and it became harder and harder to connect the design into cohesive elements. Sometimes the design didn’t work. Sometimes it was the colour or weight of thread. And sometimes it was just bad stitching. Wonky seems to be in style. ‘Crude’ could also be used to describe some things considered ART. Why is it that my wonky and crude stitching never looks Artsy?

In any case, there are only 2 tools that can eliminate a bad design. removal toolsThe eraser is by far the easier of the two. Which is why I went back to the drawing board. Taking into considering the work I had already done, this is what I came up with for the two end sections of the bed runner. They were going to use the same basic design, but have different stitches, or different colours, or different fillers. draftStitched out, this is what the RQ 201 version would look like… RQ 201Not very dramatic. It could work, if you want a soft delicate look, but I wanted drama. And I still could not resist the urge to play.

For the sake of simplicity, I will show you results by the ruler used, starting with The Spin-e-Flex. If you don’t have this ruler, you could make a flower using a 4″ or 6″ Arc ruler.

spin-e-flexI placed a row of echo stitching around it – on one side, I added circles and on the other, some FMQ squiggly lines.

The circle ruler gave me basic circles and clam shells. These 2 rulers end up with circles the same size so I used the large one (easier to hold) for the first round, and the smaller one when I needed to stitch over the top of previous lines of stitching. 

The RQ 201 version would continue with additional ruler work. I did fans on one side using the Arc ruler as an aid, and straight line stitching on the other. 

Ruler Quilting 201+ should include some FMQ. I drew some ideas in the draft plan, and tried stitching some of them. They look good when others do them, but I did not like them in my piece. They did not survive, even long enough for a picture. 

I had more success with the Arc ruler. Or maybe I was just tired of un-stitching. The Arc ruler was used for the leaf in the corner. First, one row of stitching, and then an echo row.

Then some FMQ filler stitches.

The Arc ruler was also used for the spine of the feather. I stitched half of the spine with the arc going one direction and then flipped it for the other direction. The rest was done using FMQ. Feathers is not something I do very often but sometimes they work in a space.RQ feathers

The rest of the filler and edge work was done with the straight ruler, and here I will show you this finished section.RQ 201+

At some point I may be able to show you the end product, but not sure when that might be.

 

Posted in 2019, FMQ, my patterns, quilt along, ruler quilting, Skill Builders, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Learning at Sea

When you take classes on a quilting cruise, you not only have a very pleasant working environment, you are also learning from the best. At least, that has been my experience. view

This cruise had 4 teachers; each teaching a variety of classes.  I could only pick 3.

Class #1: Building a Visual Vocabulary by Pat Delaney

Pat has won many awards and has been published in different magazines. She quilts on a domestic sewing machine and has written several books on Free Motion Quilting. This class was about developing a portfolio of stitch designs. With the help of Open Sew time, I came home with these swatches.

I totally agree with this concept. The middle of a project is not the time you want to file through the index pages of your mind for an appropriate stitching pattern. It is so much easier to reference a visual library. Plus – if you previously stitched it in a sampler, you will already have some muscle memory built in to assist you.

It did remind me, however, why it is I prefer ruler quilting. Less time spent marking…more precise lines…better end product (by my definition only). Combining the two will give you the most flexibility a sewing machine can offer, and will be the most efficient. The best of both worlds.

Class #2: Building a Nuthouse by Laura Wasilowski

Laura is an art quilter who dyes her own fabrics and threads.  She uses them to create whimsical pieces, filled with improv hand and machine stitching. She is also the Dean of Corrections, Chicago School of Fusing (ha. read more here). Laura mix

To be honest, my expectations going into the class were low. I have done a lot of hand stitching in my life and most classes start with the beginning stitches – chain, stem, daisy, fly, french knots, etc. None of that in this class.

I also have extensive experience with most of the fusible products out there – Misty Fuse, Wonder Under, Steam-A-Seam, and Heat & Bond. I thought I knew how to apply them and when to use which product.

I was so very wrong. I could not have been more surprised at how much I learned and how much fun this class was. Here was my Nuthouse by the end of the day, apparently in the middle of a windstorm. Hand stitching will definitely improve it, but … when? my nuthouse

Class #3: Attic Window by Cindy Walter

Cindy is an author of more than 10 books, a TV host and instructor. One of the books she co-authored with Diana Leone was on Attic Windows (2000). In this class, we looked at the wide variety of panels each person brought and we discussed a variety of options they had for turning them into ‘window’ quilts. She showed us fast ways of working, including how to get the 45 degree miter right, every time.

My panel was the New York skyline. One wrong cut and it ended up a little shorter than it should be. window on New York

The next day, I used Open Sew time to put together a challenge quilt top in a similar style. You will see more of this one when it is done, as it will be auctioned at our local Quilt Show (Manitoba Prairie Quilters) in April. cat and mouse

So, those were my 3 classes.

Teacher Demo’s

The teacher I did not take any classes from was Karen Combs. The reason? All of her classes were full. Some people signed up for her classes two years ago. Now that is dedication!

My first (brief) exposure was during Teacher Demo’s, where she showed us how to get accurate measurements for odd-shaped tumbling blocks. A useful technique I will store for use in the future. Karen demo

Karen also has a beautiful line of fabrics coming out in December with BayanBatiks. Colorfall

Finally, she shared a family recipe for these Rolls. They are by far the easiest and best of any I have made. If you want the recipe, you will have to sign up for her newsletter. She tells me that it will be in her December or January issue. buns

For the Demo’s, Pat talked about Colour Theory using Joen Wolfrom’s 3-in-1 Color Tool. I agree that her tool can be very useful. I used it in Amazon Star.

Laura entertained us with a song about the use of different needles and threads.

Cindy showed us a examples of Huck embroidery, aka Swedish Weaving.

Isn’t it pretty? This is another technique that I will have to highlight and file in my memory bank for a future project. She is working on a new book with patterns. Watch for it in the years to come.

That is it for my Quilting Cruise. Memories to treasure. Techniques to apply. Next week we will get back to some more Ruler Quilting.

Posted in 2019, art, Classes, FMQ, Highlighting others, Skill Builders, super simple quilting, travels, Uncategorized, WIP | 6 Comments