Saturday, 10 November 2018

Snowball Blocks for Happy Garden quilt

I wrote before about my Happy Garden Quilt that our quilt club is using as inspiration for table mats, runners and small quilts.  I decided to take autumn, Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en as my inspirations
I have the middle row finished and most of the 9-patch blocks are done.

Since I was going to be doing a lesson at the club about a variety of fun ways to work with snowball blocks, I did some research and came up with some options – a few very difficult ideas that eventually got scrapped, and some that I actually sewed!
The first one was pretty simple.  I had an old crocheted table mat and the elements reminded me of pumpkins, so I cut out a couple of rows and dyed them orange.  I embroidered a ‘redwork’ pumpkin at the top of the snowball block and then added two rows of crocheted pumpkins. 
Now I just have to decide if I want to add some green embroidery floss as vines.  What do you think?
I had already embroidered my favourite fall item from this fall – a truck full of pumpkins, so I appliquéd a strip under the truck to look like a road and now I have to figure out how to put a few trees in the background.
Next I got out my bag of ‘texture magic’ (or fabric magic) and put it on the back of some fall and black fabric.  It’s been a while since I’ve used it, so after reading the instructions, I drew a 1” grid all over the fall fabric.  I wanted to use the black for a witch’s hat, so I drew curvy lines on it.  They both worked out well and after sewing, I steamed both pieces and they are really wrinkly now.  I cut the fall fabric into 4 – 3 ½ “ squares to use as the centre squares of my 9-patch quilt blocks – these blocks will be in the centre blocks around the edge of the quilt.

The witch’s hat pattern was printed right from Electric Quilt so was easy to cut out – the only change I made was to cut the brim away from the top so that I could add a decorative strip and a buckle that I added Jones foil (glued to black fabric) to. I was going to use the hat so that it was right side up, but I need the orange triangle in the top left position, so I think it still works fine, upside down!
The next snowball block I planned was to show the use of 3 shadow techniques – shadow appliqué, shadow trapunto and shadow confetti.  I started with the shadow trapunto, drawing 3 ghosts shapes onto tracing paper and pinning it on top of a piece of white sheer fabric and white polyester batting.  Then I sewed around each ghost with a short stitch and cut out the extra batting.  They don't show up that well in the photo and I'll have to decide how to quilt them to enhance the shapes.
For the shadow appliqué, I cut out bat shapes and placed them on the snowball block.  Then I put the shadow trapunto work on top and sewed around the bat shapes – pretty easy way to appliqué! 
Then I thought about all the landscape confetti quilts I’ve seen and decided to add a fire at the bottom of the block.  I cut out the shape of a bonfi re from Steam a Seam and put it on a piece of parchment paper.  Then I cut small coloured pieces of fabric out and covered my ‘bonfire’ shape.  After ironing it down, I trimmed the ‘fire’ and transferred it from the parchment paper to the block and added some stitching to hold it all down (I’ll do more when I quilt the project).

Great news from the Modern Quilt Guild this week – I have a swap partner!!  Although I’m not really very modern, I’m really going to try to make her a great little quilt!

Friday, 26 October 2018

Happy Gardens Quilt

Designing Happy Gardens
I’ve been working on a design called Happy Gardens – this is to offer ideas to our club members for what they can do with the two blocks the organizing group has chosen for use in a first project of our quilting year  – the 9-patch and the snowball.  The quilt design is ‘Happy Gardens’ because our group is called Happy Quilters and the 9-patch has long been associated with gardens.  Sometimes naming a quilt is that simple!
We decided on a 9½ (unfinished) block. 

Thinking that beginner quilters may be leery of sewing a lot of 3½ (unfinished) blocks, we included a plain 9-patch block that would be just as attractive in a project.  The other design element I put in for beginners was to make sure that the seam in the snowball block did not have to meet the seam in the 9-patch.  Actually, this option is open to the individual quilter – some of us like the challenge of ‘meeting’ seams, and some don’t care!  What kind are you?
I guess anyone who is experienced with Electric Quilt® would think that these are pretty simplistic blocks to show, but I’m doing it anyway because I think it’s an effective design for our goal – a design that 90% of our club would create!
To begin the design, choose ‘design a block from scratch’ or the Block Worktable at the top right of the Home screen.

For more information on the worktables, watch this brief video:
Then select the block style ‘pieced’ and the method ‘EasyDraw’.  Always try to anticipate a size for the block before drawing.  This will make the fabric cutting much easier!  Just imagine designing a 5” block that you then draw into a 4 sections by 4 sections.  You might end up with a great block like this one:
But how is your client/group going to react when they read the cutting chart about cutting strips 2” – not impossible, but not fun!
It’s just more practical to design a block with measurements that suit the partitions you plan.  For a 9-patch, you know you will need to use a 3x3 grid, so it will be simpler to start with block that is 9” x 9”.  To make it easier, set the Horizontal and Vertical snaps so that lines will automatically ‘snap’ to each ¼ of an inch.  The ‘snap’ setting refers to another part of the bar that should always be ‘on’ until you, the designer, are very experienced.

The snap settings can be changed in the ‘Drawing Board Setup’ under the ‘Block’ menu and EQ has great explanations at
The ‘grid’ option is a terrific feature of EQ.  It’s only a nuisance if you lose your grip and let go of it before it covers the section where you need a grid – that’s when the ‘back arrow’ on the left side is an even better feature!  If you get the wrong grid, click on this back arrow and restart the grid.  Don’t let go until you have the correct size grid on your block worktable!

Colouring – once you have the 9-patch block designed, save it into your sketchbook (if you haven’t named your project, EQ will give you a ‘prompt’ to name it (Hint:  use descriptive names to help your memory).  Select the COLOR tab at the top (Yes, the designers are American), and then use the ‘paintbrush’ tool and the selection of fabrics to colour (but I’m Canadian) each patch of the block.  Colouring a block – information about this will fill several posts, so for this one, I’m just going to say to click on ‘fabrics’ that approximate the fabrics you plan to use and colour your block.  Scroll on the bottom section to see more fabrics.  Save the colouring into the sketchbook.

Printing or viewing the rotary cutting instructions
When you first see the menu for printing patterns, you may not be able to print the block pattern if you have a quilt on the drawing board.  The way to get the block pattern is to click on the block you want to be able to print and then you'll be able to click on the 'Block' in the menu
In my example, I clicked on the 9 patch that seems to have a green outline.  Once I did that, when I click on 'Block', the program will allow me to see the rotary cutting directions.

NOTE:  Of course, this blog post  clear!  But if you want to see another one, check this one:

What do you think?  Should I add more details?  Thanks for reading this!  If you would like this pattern in a specific size, let me know and I'll email you the fabric requirements,  

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Great Quilt Club Start to 2018-19 Year!

Do you belong to a guild?  I do, but I also belong to a ‘quilt club’ – totally volunteer-run.  Every August, a few of us get together to plan something to get the club off to a good start.  Once that happens, we have a calendar formatted so that at the beginning of each meeting, the meeting’s chair calls for volunteers for the upcoming meetings:  chair, lesson, snacks, clean-up, plus quilters who want to have a quilt bee during the weeks when we don’t have meetings (more about that later). 
Our quilt club is called the Happy Quilters and we meet near Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island.
This year, we aimed to choose a project that all the members could try and enjoy – both beginners and advanced quilters. 
What’s a good block to both teach and enjoy?
Well there are many, but we chose the 9-patch and the snowball block.  Think about it – the 9-patch block can end up several ways.

And the snowball is perfect for personalizing a project – with many kinds of embroidery and appliqué.  The snowball block is fairly easy to sew because the quilter can really choose any size of square to sew on the corners (as long as they are consistent!).  We also decided to take advantage of the great light in our meeting hall (the Community hall for Gordon/Barrie Island) and teach some hand embroidery and appliqué.
Some of the old embroidery pattern books available.
First up…hand embroidery (because one of us had obtained a bunch of little booklets from a garage sale).  I used a dry iron to press about a dozen of the patterns on to scraps of fabric I had (you can press one design several times), and threaded about 40 needles with different colours of thread.    No sooner had we planned this session and talked about it, that we found out just how many of us have embroidery floss sitting in a drawer at home!

I started with a butterfly, but wasn’t happy with the results, so I went on to a teapot (good memories of tea with Mom) which I finished and coloured with Inktense pencils (Derwent Inktense )then clear aloe vera gel to intensify the colours.  I’m using in a small box in my sewing kit to hold needle threaders and other small items.  Then I went on to a dragon and I am pleased with this one – more Inktense and gel and it will either be a cover for a sewing machine booklet or my regular needles.  I’ll show it off later.

Our year is off to a great start, with members showing off table toppers, table runners and small quilts using these patterns.

What would you choose as a project that would suit all your quilting group?  
If you are interested in seeing the calendar we use in our quilt club, let me know and I’ll send you a copy!

Friday, 12 October 2018

Re-Starting my Blog

It’s been almost a year – a year of sadness and grief with my sister’s bone cancer getting worse and invading her brain.  I lost my best quilting buddy and sister all-in-one.  She was a fearless quilter – persevering on any project she began until it was finished.  Last year about now, she said she had two quilts left in her (for her great granddaughters), but that didn’t stop her working on a few other projects until she ran out of steam.  One was the 'Elephant and Me' quilt and the other was a Sunbonnet Sue and Sam quilt that her friends quilted and delivered to her hospital bed.
Her best friend, Shirley, and I packed up her sewing room afterwards.  My sister, Lyn, wanted it all to go to a group in her town that was teaching single and poor mothers how to sew.  It was terrific to see the face of the woman we delivered all the boxes to!

This past week, I have been on holiday in the Everything-pumpkin state of Michigan.  I don’t know whether this is true in other states, but when I visit here in the fall, it always seems that this is their favourite food, drink and décor item!  I love it and have finally even tasted a pumpkin spice latte!  Since I drink my coffee black, this took me a long time to decide on tasting one.  Not bad….

The other good thing about this holiday is that I have finally ‘stepped back’ and enjoyed thinking about Lyn and all the other family members and friends who have gone on.  I’m letting memories of them come and go as they like, with some tears, I admit, but no regrets (well, some regrets, but I can strive to be a better person every day!).

So, it’s time to restart this blog and continue with my quilting journey.  I’m not a speedy quilter and don’t finish projects as quickly as Lyn did – maybe because I’m always trying new techniques and I have a tendency to procrastinate whenever I reach a point in a project where I’m not sure how to proceed.  Does anyone else do this?

Sunday, 7 January 2018

2018 UFO Project

Happy New Year!

I've been reading online and have seen the great ideas from All People Quilt and the AQS Creative Organizer, but decided to set up my own organizer.
I've never bought into this idea about organizing and completing UFOs before, but I will soon be at a point where I have more projects than stash!  And that's a shame!
So, here are my 2 organizing pages for this year.  If you like them, try them out!