December 28, 2016


No quilt post today.  Instead a farewell.

My beautiful friend Sharon passed away yesterday morning after a long, brave fight with ovarian cancer.

It's hard to imagine a kinder, gentler person than Sharon.  Her warm, loving smile could light up the darkest room.  I feel very blessed to have known her and will always cherish the memories - laughing at "Tuesday Group" (where I met her), going out to lunch, shopping, and sharing our mutual love for quilting.

And I will think of her every time I make a quilt using the design she taught me, and which I have been calling "Squares of Sharon".
Fly free, lovely angel.

December 21, 2016

Quilt 83 - Lil's Christmas Tablerunner - DONE!

Anybody with a lick of sense would just love my friend Lil.  She's a sparkly little Irish lass with a bit of the devil in her eye - loving and kind, thoughtful and just as refreshing as a spring breeze.

She asked me to make her a table runner at the start of the year - and was so very enthusiastic about the results that I knew I should do another.  With Christmas coming, I pounded my brain for what to give her and well... of course!  She'd seen a couple of runners I did last year and admired them, telling me exactly what she liked about each, and I just knew what to do.

So here we go - a square of fabric 9.5".  I have a "jelly roll" of Christmas prints, and cut the strips into quarters.  Below are 2 of the quarters lined up with the center square:

Now I take the other 2 quarters and stitch on a little square of the same fabric as the center block.  The strips, of course, are  2.5" wide, so the little square is cut to meet that.  I just kept adding strips and strips-with squares attached.  Easy as anything and fast as lightning. 

Bang!  And away we go.  I opted to back it with some unbleached homespun (muslin) and tacked together some leftover scraps of batting from other projects.

One thing that concerned me was making sure the whole thing would line up "plumb" on the machine.  So I lined up the center of the piece with the lines on the leader cloth - and dug in a pin to mark the point where the center was.  Each time I advanced the runner, I checked the center with this pin.

Here's the finished runner.
15" x 85" - cotton batting

Just plain loop-d-loops for the back - nothing fancy.  The quilting was done i n a flash.
 Lil and I met to have our little exchange day before y'day. - she was thrilled with the runner and promptly set it on her kitchen table, with her lovely white candles and white-berry centerpiece on top (why didn't I get a photo of it?!?!?). 

It was such an easy and quick project - hope you try one for yourself!

And Merry Christmas to you!

December 14, 2016

Quilt 82: "Spirit Animals" - DONE!

When I was on vacation last October, I came across this gorgeous panel in a quilt shop ( "Spirit Animals" by Robert Kaufman):
(Click on any picture on this page to see a larger image)
I bought 2 of the panels, thinking a design with 12 images might make a good sized quilt.  I showed the panels to a friend a couple of weeks ago and she fell in love with the animals and commissioned me to make a quilt for her son's Christmas this year.

Here's the design I came up with - simple blocks in lattice with plain borders.:
Cutting the panels apart was slightly problematic.  The blocks inside the panels are bordered with a lovely gold metallic design - but there's no way to divide the blocks and retain that gold border.

I decided to cut away the gold border, leaving just the dark brown edge of the original block:

But as I worked, I quickly realized that, for each of the blocks, the actual distance between the gold metallic border and the cream block was different!  Fortunately I realized it fairly early - and, as you see in the photo below - in some cases I actually left a small amount of the gold on.  After measuring the distance on each block, I realized that I could cut 5/8" from the cream and have a small amount of the brown (and the thin black line bordering the cream).  As you can see in the block below, there's a tiny bit of gold still there, but it's well within the 1/4" seam allowance, and won't show once it's sewn.

Next I auditioned fabrics to decide what colours to frame the blocks in.  I really like the bright orange you see below.  It pulls up the orange and red tones in the animals, giving a very lively visual effect.  But the orange "fights" a little with the gold I want to use for my sashing and backing. 

I resolved this conflict by adding another chocolate border after the orange one.  That gave just enough visual separation and enhanced the "frame" effect I wanted for each block.

I chose Signature's "chamois" thread (which has a soft gold colour), and am using the "Blustery Breeze" groovy boards for the pattern.  This was actually a fairly bold choice, as the thread really shows up on the blue and chocolate brown borders.  After finishing the first pass (12 inches deep and all the way across) I was a little worried I'd made a mistake with the thread colour.  But by the time I got halfway through, I knew I'd made the right choice.

Here it is on the longarm:
The dark gold sashing between the blocks is done with a subtle print which slightly resembles leather. I used the same fabric for the backing: 
I'm a bit frustrated with my camera.  I've tried several times with and without flash to get a good shot
of the backing, but it always comes out washed-out looking.  The photos above and below this one
are truer to the golden shades in this fabric.
As you can see in the closeup below, the light gold thread fades into the animals pretty well, and is really only greatly visible in  the lattice and borders.  It's exactly the effect I wanted: gives the energetic, wild "spirit wind" feel overall, but doesn't overwhelm the animals, which are the central theme.

And here it is - FINISHED!  It turned out so well that I ordered a couple more panels.  I'm pretty sure someone else is going to want one of these (and there is time to get it done before Christmas).

67" x 78" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - 100% cotton batting
This is the largest quilt I've done on the longarm.  Because my machine's frame is set up at 8 feed wide (instead of it's full 12 feet capacity), this is as wide as I can go.

December 7, 2016

Quilt 81: Hawaiian Sea Turtles - DONE! (and the mystery of the "purple navy")

Last week I told you about my friend's grandsons and the quilts I am making for their Christmas presents.  Here's the second Hawaiian print we're using:
This print has golden/tan sea-turtles, pineapples, and canoes floating over blue
polynesian triangles.  It's an interesting design with a definite ethnic overtone.

And the design - which is simply a copy of the previous design with the colours adjusted:

And, like the one last week - this one came together very quickly!  As we did with the previous quilt, we stuck to solid cotton fabric except for the sea-turtle print.  That brings the print's colours and design forward and kept the cost down, too!
55" x 77" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
The quilting is done with dark blue thread - Signature Threads' "saffire" (which is about halfway between royal blue and navy).

In the closeup below, you can see the

On this one, I added gold squares on one of the borders and used gold for the binding - just to pull up the golds a little bit more. 
The backing on this one gave me a little bit of a headache.  We wanted navy blue - and I made a special trip to get it.  When I got the fabric home and saw it in natural light (ie: not the fabric shop's lights) I saw that this "navy" fabric looks distinctly purple next to the Hawaiian print!  At this point, time was getting short.  I had some dark blue solid fabric in my stash - enough to finish this quilt - so we opted to use that.  In the photos above, the darker blue bits on the top are from that fabric I had already.

But when I started to put the backing together, I found there was a large flaw smack in the middle of it - no way to cut around it!  EEEK!

So I pulled the "purple navy" back out and discussed options with my friend - who agreed to have me back the quilt with that.  It actually turned out very nice - the "purple navy" wouldn't have gone well on the front, but having it on the back was fine.

I'm still scratching my head over this, though.  The "purple navy" only looks purple when it's placed next to blue or purple fabrics.  Put it next to white, grey, or anything else, and it looks "navy".

Go figure...