Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Notes From the NJS Judges - Part 1

My two quilts that hung at the Canadian National Juried Show in Toronto last weekend made it home today. For the first time in 3 shows, I found that the judge's critiques are very constructive, thoughtful and well-explained. I'm actually going to keep the pages with their thoughts this time. Usually I read judge's comments and then they head straight into paper recycling either due to a misunderstanding of the intention my quilt, or comments on elements of the work that aren't that relevant to me (but are very important for traditional judges).

Round Peg, Square Hole by Poppyprint, August 2016. 38" square. RJR Supreme Cotton Solids.

I thought I'd share the comments with you here as a point of interest. This is what the three CQA-certified judges wrote about Round Peg, Square Hole, which was juried into the Modern category:

Judge 1
Unique optical illusion created in overall design (mission accomplished, thank you!). Value gradation in every other block is effective. Straight-line quilting is even but stitch length seems long. The white thread colour that contrasts with the solid coloured fabrics and then blends with the background white fabric is effective.

Judge 2
Fascinating visual play is achieved in this compelling design. Excellent understanding of balance using colour is shown (yay me!! Maybe I know more about colour than I give myself credit for). Some well-blended gradation of fabrics is noted. While the quilting stitch throughout is even, it would improve the construction and visual effect if the stitch length was shorter.

Judge 3
Accurate piecing (woohoo!) suports the creative circular design concept. The gradation in colour in some of the pieced units adds design interest. The quilting stitch is even and straight but extremely long - quilt stitch length could be shorter.

There is much for me to celebrate here. This quilt is my very own design and I chose the colours carefully (thanks to RJR Fabrics for supplying all of the fabric for the front of this quilt during their What Shade RU blog hop). The design compliments really make me proud!

I've always liked a long quilting stitch length and typically when walking foot quilting I increase the stitch to 4.0. I'm hearing loud and clear that quilting judges (at least at CQA) prefer a shorter stitch length...even on a wallhanging. I will keep this in mind when making a quilt that I'd consider entering in a show.

Would you like to try creating your own version of this fun log-cabin variation? The .pdf downloadable pattern is available in my Craftsy shop (link up there at the top of my right sidebar).

Tomorrow I'll let you know what they had to say about the last Speed Date with Improv sample I made and entered in the Abstract Design category.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Peekaboo Bears - a Mini-Mini Quilt

I thought you'd like to see the completed mini-mini quilt that I started while on my trip to Australia. I posted some in-progress photos and more info about the pattern here.

It is mostly hand quilted with perle cotton, although I did do one outlining machine stitched line using 30 wt Aurifil in hot pink in that navy border. The binding was sewn on by machine and hand tacked to the back. Sadly, my hand-piecing accuracy is not the best (it's been ages since I did much hand-piecing) so most of those pretty points were lost around the outside, but I think overall it's still adorable. I hope my partner in the Ottawa MQG likes her little bears.  All I know about her is that she shares my aversion to brown and she likes Cotton & Steel fabric...this is 8" x 8" of 100% C&S!

Peekaboo Bears by Poppyprint

I embellished all of the bear eyes with a french knot - so cute!

I really enjoy participating in the swaps we do at VMQG because they tend to be small, manageable projects with a generous time frame to complete them. I'm thankful for the volunteers that take on the organisation and planning; in this case Amy. Our guild ships everything in one go (or sometimes we get lucky with a traveller who can personally deliver the goods). The rules for this one were "make a mini-mini quilt that has an outside perimeter of less than 48 inches". Perfect!!

If you've read Poppyprint for a while, then you know I used to swap like a fiend back in the Flickr days, starting with the famous Doll Quilt Swap.  I think one year I did over 10 swaps and learned many new things every time. Making stuff especially for another person according to their wishlist can be a really fun challenge.  Although I love participating, sharing and receiving beautiful handmade things from around the world, I try to limit myself to one or two a year now and that seems to be the perfect amount. Guild ones are great fun and it's especially fun to connect with other Canadian groups.

How about you...swapping anything these days?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Stepping Stones IV

Although I've made three previous Stepping Stones Table Runners (a pattern by Krista Withers and me) in my book Make It, Take It, they've all been gifted. It is a project that people always respond to very positively at my trunk shows, so I thought it a good idea to make another one for my upcoming teaching trip to the Maritimes.

The other ones were also made with Heather Ross prints; they are so cute, visually interesting and fun to fussy cut!  I've traded the froggies for unicorns on this one, using the Far, Far Away line.  As with the other runners, this one has Essex linen in natural for the background.

Stepping Stones Table Runner by Poppyprint


I've quilted it just like Krista's accompanying instructions in the book for Ghost Shape quilting using a walking foot. I marked the ghost shapes and a few of the long, straight lines with a Clover disappearing pen (that evaporates in about an hour, depending on the level of humidity in the air).

DSC_1883

DSC_1884

DSC_1886

I don't often buy fat quarter sets of fabric lines, so when I do splurge it is usually because I have an idea and want to use the prints together in a project. What I always forget to do is also buy a 1/2 yard of one of the prints to use as a binding for that project. Luckily, I had this two-tone Carolyn Friedlander print that works perfectly with the blues in Far, Far, Away. Hopefully, next time I won't forget the binding!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Avian Entertainment

These Rainbow Lorikeets  were everywhere in Australia, but we had a very special rainy afternoon where about 50 of them visited us for sunflower seed treats, creating a deafening racket with their calls and squawks. I could watch them all day, and even fed them out of my hand (until about 6 were all standing on my forearm and I couldn't handle their sharp claws any longer!).

Their feathers were so intense and beautiful! These two were having quite the grooming session, taking turns nibbling each other.


I just wanted to pop in and wish you all a Happy Easter and couldn't do so without a picture!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Making it Down Under

If you follow along on Instagram, you know that I was recently in Australia for a vacation with my husband, B. The purpose of the trip was mainly to see our daughter play rugby with her high school team (they toured the north island of New Zealand before heading to Newcastle, NSW to play a 15's game and 7's tournament). We caught up with them in Newcastle to see some great games, but unfortunately their 7's tourney near Sydney was cancelled due to all of the rain and flash-flooding.

I have many photos to edit and cull through before doing any tourist-type posts, but I thought I would start with a few photos of creative stuff I was able to accomplish on this trip (staying with a kind and generous quilty friend certainly helps to get your creative on when vacationing!).

Sewing in Oz 2017

I admired Lorena's linen dresses, of which she has several, made from fun fabrics. She'd used the Eva Dress pattern from Sydney design and fabric store Tessuti.  We made a trip to the shop, where I ogled the Liberty tana lawns on display (but restrained myself from buying). They have sewn samples of all their in-house patterns that you can try on! This is absolutely the best thing ever for someone like me who has major garment-sewing challenges. Most of the patterns are for light, lineny, flowy dresses and tunics. I purchased paper copies of their Eva Dress and Ola Tunic. The size medium Eva dress fits me and the size small (crazy!) Ola Tunic fits me. Here's the Eva dress that I made on Lorena's serger and Bernina, using MakerMaker linen purchased in Berry, NSW at the adorable Berry Quilt & Co.

Sewing in Oz 2017

I'm looking forward to making a second version next week without sleeves! I've got a gorgeous red and black crossweave linen/rayon blend that I think will be super comfy. The linen above needs a few good wearings and washings as I find the linen/cotton is a bit stiff.

While on this trip I did a bit of knitting (both on airplanes and on the couch in the evenings) and was able to finish a smallish Reyna shall that's more of a scarf. It's been blocked but I still need to darn in the ends before sending it to a friend as a thank you gift. I love the colour!

Sewing in Oz 2017

Before leaving, I gave some thought to the Vancouver MQG - Ottawa MQG mini-mini quilt swap that would be due shortly after I got home. I brought along a few EPP papers, thinking that I'd make something hexagon-related, but plans changed! Lorena had just returned home from QuiltCon with some of Victoria Findlay-Wolfe's new "snack sets" which are tiny acrylic templates for small piecing. I hand-pieced this little 8" quilt on the dining table, as well as on trains and planes. I've just got a little bit more hand-quilting to do on it.  

Sewing in Oz 2017

Sewing in Oz 2017

Sewing in Oz 2017

And finally, I had the opportunity to teach a workshop!! It was such a fun day and a total pleasure to see Cath and Danielle (two lovely Aussie quilters I'd met in Austin at Quiltcon2015), both of whom travelled a long way to attend.  Everyone was so kind and I think they really enjoyed their Speed Date with Improv!  Class was held in a renovated WWI hospital that now serves as a seniors activity center (you can see the wrap-around veranda where I'm standing in the dress pic above).

Sewing in Oz 2017
Here I am with Lorena (lorena_in_syd), Cath (cathmosely) and Danielle (petitselefants)

Sewing in Oz 2017
Our beautifully-lit classroom

Sewing in Oz 2017
Here's Monique (sharingthegoodstuff) with her fab improv elements. It was her first time trying improv work!!

Sewing in Oz 2017
All of the gorgeous women who sewed with me! What a fun day (fueled by delicious snacks prepared by Lorena - she really spoiled us on this trip with her generosity).

I am busily preparing for a 3 week teaching tour coming up quickly, so no promises, but I will attempt to get some proper Nikon-taken touristy photos up here for you at some point soon.  Lots of mad sewing going on. If it ever stops raining in Vancouver, I just might be able to take some pictures to share with you!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Culcita (Kul-see-tah)

This is a product-sponsored post; written opinions and observations are my own.

There's a brand new monthly subscription box for quilters and it's called Culcita (which apparently comes from the Latin origin for the word 'quilt'). This new, dynamic company is a family venture born out of a desire to get the latest modern fabric designs into the hands of quilters by delivering it right to their door monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. I love that they have several different options so that you can tailor the service just for you (for example, every box will contain 12 prints but you get to choose a FQ or 1/2 yard option). It isn't just fabric, currently they offer a straight fabric box, modern quilt project kit , a skillz-builder box or a bag/accessory kit  like this one which includes everything you need to make Anna's awesome Compass Bag!

Bag Project Kits

Jessica and Jamie contacted me to see if I'd like to give their February box a try and see how it all works. I am a big supporter of women-lead small business and make an effort to only partner with those able to serve Canadian quilters.  Although Culcita ships from the US (domestic shipping included in the monthly subscription) they also offer Canadians a reasonable flat rate shipping option and the company is co-owned by family members living in the U.S. and Canada (meet them here). I love that! Having investigated a few other subscription box services since the trend began, I've been disappointed a few times by those who are unable to ship to Canada.

Here's what I received in their super-efficiently packed and custom designed  re-usable box:

Culcita box feb 2017

A handwritten thank you note, a card describing the fabric collection and why it was chosen for subscribers, two super cute woven labels, a quilting fortune and 12 FQ of Sleep Tight in the Stargazing palette. 

Culcita box feb2017

I like this format! I'm a notion junkie, so I already have everything I need in that department and I stick to fairly mainstream/neutral thread colours, so I like the fact that I wouldn't be paying for stuff every month that I wouldn't use or need. I can always use the fabric, or share, gift or trade it. On that note, Cucita offers a "trade" hashtag for subscribers to get in touch with each other if they're wishing for the alternate colourway and want to connect with others hoping for a swap. Cool! 

I'm hoping to use some of this collection to make a mini-mini quilt for an upcoming swap between the Vancouver MQG and the Ottawa MQG....something tells me my secret partner would like this fabric.  

Thank you for sharing, Culcita!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

1/4" Tune Up Test

The VMQG guild executive recently asked me to give a presentation on accuracy. Whether you tend to make measured, traditional style blocks or you prefer improv quilting, maintaining a scant 1/4" seam allowance will lead to neater work, more resilient seams, less bulk to quilt through, blocks that fit together and the satisfaction of pointy points where you want them. 

Both beginners and experienced quilters alike can benefit from a seam allowance tune-up. You'd be surprised how many people have struggled for ages, wondering why their measured blocks don't end up the planned size.  The test doesn't take long and once your seam allowance is established, you'll enjoy the satisfaction of blocks that fit together as your patterns intend, without distortion from stretching short edges or puckers from gathering generous ones. Refresh your accuracy by performing the simple test below and remember that you'll need to repeat this on ALL of your machines (because, ahem, a few of us sew on more than one machine).  If you are sewing a project using bulkier fabric such as Essex linen, or fine fabric such as lawn, it would be a good idea to repeat this test with the actual fabric being used for the project!


BUT WHY "SCANT"? Quilt blocks are measured to the 1/4" based on side-pressing of seams within the block. A scant 1/4" seam is necessary because we need to allow room in the pressed-over fold for the piecing thread as well as the one or two threads of fabric on the edge of the fold.  A fine, 50 wt piecing thread takes up very little room in seams, which is one of the reasons the Aurifil brand is so popular with quilters. 


5 STEPS TO A PERFECT
SCANT ¼” SEAM ALLOWANCE

1. Accurately cut five 2 1/2" squares of pressed, quilting weight cotton. Measure with your quilting rulers, not the cutting mat. Remember that accurate piecing begins with accurate cutting. Know your rulers!

2. Using your normal piecing thread, sew the squares together along side seams, creating one long strip unit.

3. Press seams flat to set stitches, then press seams all to one side in the same direction.
1/4" test

1/4" test



4. Measure the unit by placing your quilting ruler on top of the strip. It should measure 10 1/2".


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5. If your strip is less than 10 1/2" long, then your seam allowance is larger than a scant 1/4". If your strip is greater than 10 1/2" long, then your 1/4" is too scant. 


TROUBLE-SHOOTING

My strip is larger than 10 1/2" long
  • confirm pieces accurately measure 2 1/2" square
  • confirm seams are all pressed to one side in the same direction (NOT OPEN). 
  • fold over the last square and re-press the seam flat. Place your ruler on top of the right edge, aligning the edge of the ruler with the edge of the fabric. Your stitches should be visible just to the right (or inside) of the 1/4" ruler line. If you can see fabric between the 1/4" line and your line of stitches, then your seam is too scant.
Untitled
This seam is just a hair too scant because you can see fabric between the 1/4" line on the ruler and the line of stitches.

My strip is smaller than 10 1/2" long
  • confirm pieces  accurately measure 2 1/2" square
  • confirm from the right side that the fabric of each square is fully pressed out over the seam
  • fold over the last square and re-press the seam flat. Place your ruler on top of the right edge, aligning the edge of the ruler with the edge of the fabric. Your stitches should be visible just to the right (or inside) of the 1/4" ruler line.If your stitches are under the 1/4" line, then you've sewn an exact 1/4" seam, not a scant one; you need to decrease your seam allowance by about 2 thread widths.  If your stitches are fully to the outside, or left of the 1/4" line, then your seam allowance is too generous (big) and adjustments to decrease it need to be made (move needle one notch to the right or adjust your seam guide closer to the presser foot).
In general, as I've had students perform this test in workshops, it appears that many manufacturer's 1/4" patchwork feet with fence guide attached on the right side of the foot are actually a bit generous. If you have one of these feet, hold it up to the light. Can you see daylight between the edge of the foot and the fence? If so, chances are that the edge of the foot is actually the scant 1/4" and the fence it a true 1/4".

Good luck! Let me know how you make out in the comments and leave any questions you may have there as well. I'll try to answer questions in subsequent comments, so check back.