August 28, 2020

Burst Mini Quilt Top

At the beginning of July, I taught an online workshop about using freezer paper for paper piecing (it's like magic!). During the workshop I made two blocks for a mini quilt using my Burst pattern. You can get the Burst pattern as a PDF or a printed pattern in my Etsy shop.

Burst mini quilt |

I have a counter where I put sewing things when I can't be bothered to put them away and last week the mess finally hit that critical mass where it gets overwhelming and I have to clean it up. At the very back of the pile, I found those two blocks, along with the cut pieces and the fabric pulled but not yet cut and I decided that I'd just finish the quilt top rather than putting the various bits away. Since it's a mini quilt, it came together really quickly. It makes me wonder why I put it aside for so long!

Burst mini quilt |

I love how the bright yellows and oranges look against the Riley Blake solid navy. They just glow against the dark background.

I love working with scraps from previous quilts. These swirls were part of a bundle I bought from Connecting Threads years ago, back when the Canadian dollar was strong enough that ordering from the States was a possibility. I love a good swirl fabric!

Burst mini quilt |

There are lots of Island Batik scraps in this mini, like these circles. This one isn't quite so neon in real life, but I could not get the colour right in the pictures at all.

Burst mini quilt |

This one that reminds me of fireworks is also an Island Batik scrap. The same print in yellow is in the quilt, too.

I can't even remember where this floral print came from, but I know I've had it for years and years. It's fun to mix those older prints in with the newer ones.

Burst mini quilt |

Speaking of newer ones, here's a piece of the yellow from Kristy Lea's Create line. I used it as the center of the plus blocks in my Level Up quilt.

Burst mini quilt |

It was a bit windy this morning when I was trying to get these pictures on the front deck of the Airbnb we're in this week, so I taped the quilt top to the wood. The wind was still trying to take it 😄

Burst mini quilt |
Burst mini quilt |

This is the last week before Paul and I go back to work, so we took the week to go across the province for some hiking and other fun. We took a puffin and whale watching tour - our first one even though Paul grew up in the province and we've lived here now for 15 years. It was amazing! The puffin colony is home to more than half a million puffins, so they were flying everywhere and floating all around the boat. I didn't bother trying to take pictures, because it was so much fun to just take it all in.

As for the hiking, that has been wonderful, as always. I love the ocean views in Newfoundland. We hiked out to North America's most easterly point, the Cape Spear lighthouse. You can drive there, too, but hiking it is more fun. You can just barely see the lighthouses (old and new) on the point in this picture.

Cape Spear hike |

I've never seen so many blueberries on trails before! They're everywhere! It's almost painful to walk past them and not stop to pick them all, lol. I have probably eaten close to my own weight in blueberries this week, just picking them and snacking as I hike along.

Blueberries |

We'll be headed home on Sunday and then I have to decide how to quilt my Burst mini. My original Burst quilt has my first attempt at spiral quilting and I think I want something different this time. I'm not sure yet what that will be, though. 

Burst mini quilt |

Don't forget, if you want to get the Burst pattern, it's available in my Etsy shop in either PDF or print versions. I offer free shipping on the print version, too.

I'm linking up with TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Beauties Pageant.

August 22, 2020

Temperature Quilt 2020 - Playing Catch-Up

 I was doing pretty well keeping up with my 2020 temperature quilt until the summer hit. Then I didn't touch it at all for a while and ever since then I've been playing catch-up. This is what it looks like right now. It's getting easier to photograph now that it's not one 2" by 30 ½" strip.

temperature quilt 2020 progress |

That last block represents June 23 and you can definitely see that it was getting warmer 😊 I love the progression of blues - purples - pinks. There will be some reds added for July and August, once I get them done.

I like how it looks from the back, too. This post explains how I'm making my blocks, if you're interested. Everything is done by hand except, once the rows are finished I'm stitching them together by machine.

temperature quilt 2020 progress |

From June 23 - August 21, the blocks are in all possible stages - from just the circles cut out to finished and ready to be sewn into the rows.

temperature quilt 2020 progress |

The July and August month initials are ready to be embroidered, too, and I figured I might as well get the S block ready for September, since it'll soon be here (how did that happen already??). 

We're headed out of town for a week tomorrow and there will be copious amounts of driving time, not to mention lazy mornings and evenings in our Airbnb house, so I'm hoping to be pretty close to caught up by the time we come home. The listing for the house also shows pictures of blueberries, so I'm hoping there will be some nearby since the berries are ripe now. The house is right on the water and they say it's a good spot for whale watching, so it should be quite the spot 😊 That may interfere with stitching time, lol, so we'll see how much progress I actually make!

August 18, 2020

Allegro Skirt, Allegro Shorts and Harmony Blouse

 It has been a garment sewing few days around here and I've had some wins and one, well, not-win. Not really a loss, just not quite what I was hoping for. But it's all part of the process of learning something new, right?

I used cotton poplin from Riley Black Designs for everything in this post. I had never heard of poplin before I started making clothes, but I quickly learned that it's a beautiful woven fabric that acts just like quilting cotton for cutting and sewing - no slipping around or stretching! - but it has a nicer drape, so it hangs better than quilting cotton, which tends to look boxy when made into clothes. It's the perfect fabric for quilters who are interested in learning garment sewing. In fact, one of my first ever garments was made with poplin. And yes, you can learn to sew clothes, too 😊

I used two new-to-me Love Notions patterns for these garments. I've mentioned before that I love their patterns and these two are no exceptions. Their patterns don't assume you know what you're doing, so every step is spelled out very clearly and there are links to videos that help with trickier parts, which is a great feature.

I started out by making the Allegro knee length skirt. I bought a cheap sheet at a discount store to use for making test versions of these garments so I could check the fit before I cut into the poplin. I almost didn't bother for the skirt, since there's not a lot of areas for fit to go awry in a skirt, but it was still nice to be sure the waistband was going to fit before I cut my good fabric.

The Allegro pattern, which includes two skirt lengths, two shorts lengths and full length pants, uses 1 ½" elastic inside the waistband, and then you stitch right through the elastic, while stretching the elastic out. I had serious visions of snapping all that thread the first time I actually tried to put the skirt on, but it works perfectly. 

Allegro skirt |

I love the skirt! It's so comfortable and light feeling. And the charcoal grey poplin will go with just about everything, so I know it's going to get a lot of wear. I wore it the day after I finished it, actually.

And did I mention that it has pockets???? Oh, how I love a skirt with pockets! These ones are deep enough to hold my phone.

Allegro skirt |

Feeling rather pleased with myself, I moved on to the Allegro 5" shorts. I have had the Allegro pattern for a couple of months and the poplin since mid-July, but I procrastinated because I've heard that fitting pants is a lot more complicated than shirts or skirts. There are so many different factors in play with pants. I'd read in the Love Notions FB group about people 'scooping' the crotch curves, lengthening the rise or shortening the rise. It all seemed a little overwhelming. But I really want to make most of my own clothes and I wear pants a lot, so...

I started out by making a test version. Having made the skirt in a size 12, I knew I'd be good with a 12 for the shorts, at least for the waist and hips, but there were probably going to be other issues. The test version was really tight in the legs, like uncomfortable to walk tight, and looking at the back they were twisting weirdly from the outside of my leg towards the inside. I also had a bit of a wedgie. There are no pictures (you're welcome, lol), but there were definitely some fitting issues!

I posted in the Love Notions FB group, asking for help and one person recommended a video series that covers a lot of common pants fitting issues. It's a great resource! Right away I learned why I'd often try on pants in stores and find they were really baggy in the front crotch area (it's caused by the front crotch curve being too shallow for me). Then I put my test shorts on again to check and, sure enough, they had the same problem, I just hadn't noticed because I had been so focused on the tight legs and weirdness in the back. So, I scooped the front crotch curve on my pattern, in preparation for my second test version. And now I know what it means to scoop a crotch curve 😊

I watched the videos a couple of times, trying to figure out what I needed to do about the other issues. I needed to add width to the leg, which it seemed would also fix the wedgie problem. So I made that change to the pattern and sewed up test version number two. It was better. The front looked perfect and there was no wedgie, but the legs still weren't hanging straight in the back. I added more width to the legs and made test version number three. When Paul told me the backs were hanging straight on that version, I felt like dancing!

I cut the poplin and sewed the good pair. When you make a test garment, you don't do all the finishing details, like cuffs and even pockets, so I was so happy to see this pair of shorts come together. I love how the cuffs finish them off so nicely.

Allegro shorts |

But I can't wear them 😞

When I walk, the legs still feel a little bit too tight and they give me a wedgie when I move. I'm thinking that means I need to do some adjustments to the back crotch curve, but I can't really do that on this pair now that they're finished. I guess I didn't walk around enough in the test version to realize that I hadn't adjusted everything I needed to. Darn! I'm not giving up, though. This pattern is just too cute to abandon and now that I've made the shorts I'm even more interested in making the full length pants at some point. There will be more test versions eventually and I will wear them for an extended period of time to be sure they're comfortable when I move and not only when I'm standing perfectly still. I don't know about you, but I don't stand perfectly still very often, so I need pants that are comfy when I move, too!

These fit issues aren't a problem with the pattern, by the way. It's just a reflection of how every person is shaped differently and patterns can only be drafted to suit one particular shape. If you don't match that shape perfectly, then you will need to make adjustments. This is why trying on clothes in the store can be such an ordeal, since ready-to-wear clothes are also drafted for one particular shape. It also explains why we can sometimes find a brand that fits better than any other brand - it has been drafted for a shape that is closer to how we are actually shaped.

After that disappointment, I moved on to the Melody Dolman blouse. Another thing I've learned since starting to make clothes is that a dolman is a type of shirt where the sleeves are not a separate piece, rather they are part of the front and back pieces. That makes for super simple construction of the shirt. I was a little intimidated by the collar on this one, but I watched the video that was linked in the pattern and I was pleasantly surprised by how easily it came together. I love how professional it makes the shirt look!

Melody Dolman blouse |

I was seriously intimidated by the buttonholes, too. And the worst part about needing to do buttonholes on a blouse is that they are the very last if you mess them up, you've messed up an almost finished project. The automatic buttonhole maker with my Janome (and many other machines, I think) makes creating them a breeze, though I was concerned about getting the position right. I had removed 1 ½" from the length of the blouse (because I'm shorter than the 5'5" the pattern was drafted for), so I couldn't just use the placement guide included with the pattern. No one wants their blouse gaping open, after all! I wouldn't mind adding a 6th button next time, just for a little extra insurance, but it's good with 5.

I do find the shirt hangs pretty much straight down from the bust, so from the side it looks too big. I think that's a fit issue, too, but I'm not sure yet how to fix it. I've mentioned it in the FB group, so hopefully I get some suggestions. I would love to get this pattern to fit just right because I definitely need more shirts that are dressier than a tshirt and this fits the bill.

In the meantime, this one looks cute tied at the front!

Melody Dolman blouse |

Thank you to Riley Blake for sending me this poplin fabric to work with. I had a lot of fun making these garments, even with the fit issues. Learning how to adjust patterns to fit me is a process and I'm having fun learning 😊 

August 12, 2020

Level Up Quilt and Pattern Release

 I have been so looking forward to sharing this quilt and pattern with you today! Meet Level Up 😊 The pattern is now available in my Etsy shop.

Level Up quilt pattern |

These gorgeous, fun fabrics are from Create, Kristy Lea's debut line with Riley Blake, which is available in stores now. I've been following Kristy ever since I discovered quilt blogs, first at her blog Quiet Play, then with Make Modern (that one is an affiliate link - my love for MM is no secret) and Instagram. When she announced her fabric line, I immediately started writing her an email saying I wanted in on a blog hop to promote the fabric...without actually going to the Riley Blake website to see what the fabric looked like first! I just knew that if Kristy designed it, it would be beautiful...and it is! Full disclosure, I did go peek at the fabric before I sent the email, just in case, but I loved it at first sight 😊

Since one of my goals for 2020 is to make more small quilts, I made the baby size of Level Up. The pattern also includes throw and queen size instructions, in case small quilts are not on your list of goals for the year. Everyone likes options, right?

Aren't the geometric, rainbow bees fun? Especially with those hexies floating around them. The bees inspired the loopy meander quilting, which I'm saying resembles the flight path of bees as they meander around from flower to flower. These bees are probably very dizzy, though.

Level Up quilt pattern |
The two stripes Kristy created are fantastic. Both fabrics have the same bright rainbow, with little shapes inside some of the stripes, but one fabric alternates a white stripe with the rainbow colours and the other alternates a navy blue stripe. To me the white one feels fresh and summery and the navy one feels more serious and moody. It's funny what a difference that alternating stripe makes!
Level Up quilt pattern |

The star blocks are made with foundation piecing and the pattern includes tips for getting the stripes going the right way, if you're using stripes like I did. Figuring out how to get everything looking right while foundation piecing took a bit of work, but I'm so glad I did. I love my striped stars! And now you can piece striped stars without having to do all the work to figure it out!

As you can probably tell, I had a lot of fun with the quilting 😄 Just look at how it looks on the Confetti Cottons navy background!

free motion quilting in the Level Up quilt |

I used Aurifil thread 50 wt for all of the piecing and quilting. The loopy meander in the background is quilted with white (2024). I used 2024 for the back and forth lines in the white stripe parts of the stars, too, quilting the lines in the same direction as the stripes. Then I used 2785 for the navy striped pieces.

free motion quilting in the Level Up quilt |

I was really on a roll with the back and forth lines, so I did more in the plus blocks, still using 2785. I started out by echo quilting around the yellow center square on the first plus block before I quilted the rest of the plus. Then, halfway through quilting the second plus, I realized I forgot to echo quilt the yellow square, so the quilting went right up to it. There was no way I was going to rip out all that quilting, so I thought 'Design Element!' and then echoed around only half of the yellow squares. I doubt anyone will even notice the difference.

After quilting the pluses, I quilted a square spiral in the yellow centers with Aurifil 1135. All of this is done freehand, so there's not a single line that is perfectly straight, but I love the wobbliness of the lines.

free motion quilting in the Level Up quilt |

I love the texture on the back!

free motion quilting in the Level Up quilt |

The texture is pretty good from the front, too.

Level Up quilt pattern |

Nathan and I took the quilt to the beach for pictures. I wasn't sure how it would go, since white can be so hard to photograph, especially in bright sunlight. The pictures turned out surprisingly well, though. It helps when you have beautiful, Newfoundland scenery as the backdrop 😊

Level Up quilt pattern |
The navy stripe is the perfect binding! I will definitely be stocking up on it...and the white one, too. 
Level Up quilt pattern |

There was a bit of a breeze at the beach, which made getting pictures a little tough. Nathan was a good sport, though.

Level Up quilt pattern |

I send all of my patterns to Yvonne, at Quilting Jetgirl, for technical editing before I release them. She checks the math and cutting directions, checks that all the templates are the right size, etc. This time I sent her a file that was called "Unnamed quilt pattern" because I could not for the life of me think of a name for this one. I told her that if she had any ideas, I was taking suggestions and a little later she sent me a short list of possibilities. Level Up was the first on the list and I knew it was perfect as soon as I read it. Yvonne said the stars and pluses reminded her of new lives and power ups in video games, which was her inspiration for the name. So thank you, Yvonne! Level Up sounds so much better than Unnamed, lol.

Level Up is available in my Etsy shop, as either a PDF or a printed pattern. PDFs are ready for download immediately. Printed patterns are technically a pre-order right now as the pattern file has been sent to the printer  and I'm just waiting for them to get here. I'll ship them out as soon as they arrive, which should be early next week. I offer free shipping on printed patterns, too. 

Level Up quilt pattern |

As I've said before, I'd love it if you'd pin this image to Pinterest, to help other quilters find the Level Up pattern. Every little bit of extra exposure helps 😊 Thank you!

Level Up quilt pattern |

Don't forget to get your copy of Level Up in the print or PDF version 😊

Also, did you know that I'm having a rare sale (50% off!) on a selection of my printed patterns? You can see all the details in this post.

I'll be linking up with NTT, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, TGIFF and Beauties Pageant and Sarah's Show Me Something with Stripes party.

August 04, 2020

Quilt Block Mania - Basketball!

It's time for another Quilt Block Mania series! This month the theme is Back to School, which is something I usually try to avoid thinking about until the V.E.R.Y. last few days before it actually starts. Don't ask me why, but back to school shopping is probably my least favourite parenting activity. Plus, back to school also means back to work for my teacher husband and myself, since I babysit for teachers. Maybe that has something to do with my aversion to it.

Once I wrapped my mind around the theme, I decided to take a slightly different approach to my block. Rather than designing a block with crayons or pencils or books, I created a basketball block. After all, how many kids say their favourite class is gym?? 😊 
Basketball quilt block |
Actually, I chose the basketball for two of my boys. Zachary, my 16 year old, has been playing on the school basketball team for three years now and he loves it. As in, for two of those years he was playing on both the junior and senior teams (it's a small school!), which meant practices 4 days a week and there were no complaints at all. Nathan, my 12 year old, had his first year on the junior team last year, after waiting anxiously for years, and he loved it, too. I hear a lot about basketball practice! I don't know what will happen with school sports this coming year, but I do know I'll have two very disappointed boys if they can't play basketball.

This quick-to-finish basketball block is made with machine applique. I chose to use a washable glue stick to attach the orange circle. I find washable glue is perfect for large, simple applique shapes and it doesn't add any stiffness to the project.

I wasn't sure how fiddly those skinny black lines would be to applique, but they weren't a problem at all. I used Heat 'N Bond fusible web for them and it worked like a charm. 
Basketball quilt block |
I stitched each edge of the lines with a narrow zig zag stitch using Aurifil 2692. I set both the length and width of the zig zag stitch to 1.5. It's much easier to see the stitches on the back of the block.
Zig zag stitching |
I like to tie off the ends of the threads when I do zig zag stitch. When I finish a line, I cut the threads leaving a long tail. Because I chose not to stitch over any lines where they overlap, it made for quite a mess of thread tails by the time I finished stitching!
Basketball quilt block |
I use a hand stitching needle to pull each thread to the back, then knot it with the thread from the bobbin. It's an extra step, but I like knowing those stitches aren't going to come out and for some reason I don't trust backstitching over zig zag stitches. Since these were black threads on a white background, I also took the time to pull the thread tails at the edges through a couple of stitches after tying the knots, so the threads won't show through the white. 
Basketball quilt block |
Once those were finished, I zig zag stitched around the edge of the basketball with Aurifil 2390. I used the same 1.5 settings as when I stitched the black lines. I quite like how the block looks from the back, too!
Basketball quilt block |
I said in my July Quilt Block Mania post (Starfish Dance) that I'm trying to avoid growing my orphan block collection these days, but this basketball block refused to tell me what it should become, so it remains just a block. Maybe a mini quilt? I'm not really sure yet. What would you make with it?
Basketball quilt block |
The Quilt Block Mania series is a lot of fun, with plenty of free blocks for you to download and make. Don't forget to download the basketball pattern before you go hopping around to collect the rest of the blocks!

Back to School quilt blocks |
Here is the full list of Back to School block designers and their blocks for you to check out:

Crayons by Slice of Pi Quilts
Lockers by Powered by Quilting
Math Problem by Pretty Piney
Chalk Board by Inquiring Quilter
Stack of Books by Carolina Moore
Pointy Pencil Block by Sew Brainy
Geometry by Duck Creek Mountain Quilting
Pencils by Quilting Room with Mel
School Bus by Orange Blossom Quilt
Book with Animal by Seams to be Sew
Stack of Textbooks by Quilted Diary
Shades of the Sun by Charisma Horton
Basketball by Devoted Quilter
Apples by Perkins Dry Goods
Box of Crayons by ScrapDash
Apple with leaf by Block of the Mo
Crayons by Off the Wall Quilt
School Time Schoolhouse by Quilt Moments
School House by Utah Quilt Appraiser
Pencil by True Blue Quilts
Owl by The Whimsical Workshop
Calculator by Quilt Fabrication
Crayons by Linda B Creative
Applique Computer by DooHikey Designs
Modern Apple by Cotton Street Commons
Glue by Quilting Mod
School Girls Puzzle by Sew on the Go
Snack by Quiltfox Design
Backpack by Oh Kaye Quilting
Math Signs by Patti's Patchwork
Bookworm by Appliques Quilts and More
Backpack by Tacy Gray
Schoolhouse by From my Carolina Home
Girl's Favorite by Blue Bear Quilts
Origami Paper Plane by Amara Creacions
Show up and Shine! by SewJoy Creations
School House with Children by Aunte Ms Quilts

Happy Back to School sewing (even if, like me, you want to ignore back to school thoughts for just a little longer 😄)!

Basketball quilt block |