I’m “celebrating” 100 Blocks Volume 9

29 Apr
Celebration straight-set quilt

Celebration straight-set quilt

Celebration on-point quilt

Celebration on-point quilt

Celebration panel quilt

Celebration panel quilt


Fellow Quilters,
Once again I have been invited to participate in the blog tour for Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, this time for Volume 9, on sale May 6. I usually scour the issue, scouting out the designs either done by pattern designers who also partner with Northcott to design patterns for our upcoming fabric collections, or designs that feature Northcott fabric collections. Then I recreate these blocks in the fabric collection that Northcott showcases in the advertisement in the issue. This time around there were a whopping 8 blocks! They are #817 Square Dance (designed by Northcott fabric designer Sue Beevers), #818 Triangle Trick (made using Stonehenge), #856 Lavender Lattice (designed by yours truly and made using Lavender Market), #866 Pinwheel Polka (designed by Marilyn Foreman of Quilt Moments), #872 Banner Day (designed by Chris Hoover of Whirligig Designs), #890 Building Blocks (designed by Celine Perkins of Perkins Dry Goods), #894 Face In (made using Passion & Kaleidoscope), and #898 Two Tulips (designed by Margie Ullery of Ribbon Candy Quilt Co.) I thought I would change things up a bit this time around. Since my block was included in this issue, I recreated it in a quilt setting using the Stonehenge Celebration collection featured in the magazine. I came up with 3 different settings: a straight set with alternate blocks, an on-point set with the same alternate blocks, and a setting that starts with the panel in the center and frames it with borders and blocks. Which one do you prefer?
Thank you to all of you who commented on my last blog post. In the post, I talked about fears, and overcoming them. I would say from your comments that my post resonated with many of you, and I was moved by your feedback. Bloggers sometimes feel that they are talking but is anyone really listening? It takes a lot to acknowledge your fears, and to share them with others. I appreciate you sharing yours with me. Many of you commented that you have overcome a fear of, or at least resistance to, free-motion quilting. Many more of you have not quite overcome this fear. Good News! I can help!! In every blog post this year (and maybe next), I will give you a tip, hint, or advice on free-motion quilting. Tonight before I sat down to write this post, I was preparing for a free-motion quilting class that I am teaching tomorrow to the guild in Beaverton. Pretty much all of my quilting these days is done on my longarm, but as I was preparing my samples, I recalled the many quilts that I quilted on my sewing machine. Tomorrow I will try to ease the fears and frustration of the students as we work through various techniques.
So, my first piece of advice is… read every issue of Quiltmaker magazine this year. June Dudley and her staff have called 2014 the Year of Machine Quilting, and each issue contains helpful tips and hints for machine quilting. Even those of us who have been machine quilting for 20 years can learn from these issues. I plan on following along with contributor Natalia Bonner as she guides us through various techniques. Won’t you join me?
My next piece of advice is… practice, practice, practice. Anyone can free-motion quilt with enough practice. Anyone! Check out the clearance table at your favorite quilt shop and pick up a couple of crib-size panels. Quilt them to death – try every technique you can think of until you feel comfortable with it. Quilt around every motif on the panels. Focus on achieving a consistent stitch length. Practice different background fillers such as stipple in all of the open areas. Quilt every square inch of those panels. When you are done, take a look at where you started, and notice how much you have improved. Yes you have!
Okay, time to talk about giveaways. I randomly chose a winner from the comments posted on my last post- congrats to Kimberlee who is trying her hand at making some clothes. Kimberlee will receive a delicious bundle of Artisan Spirit Shimmer fabrics. Today’s giveaway is a copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 9, and some Stonehenge Celebration fabric too. For a chance to win, please comment on which of the 3 Stonehenge Celebration quilts you prefer. Please post your comment by end of day on May 1. And don’t forget to visit the rest of the blogs in the blog tour. Details at http://www.quiltmaker.com/blogs/quiltypleasures/


31 Jan

Fellow Quilters,

Happy 2014!  As I sit down to write this post, it seems pointless to say Happy New Year, since it is actually the last day of January.  Was January shorter this year, maybe by a couple of weeks?  Maybe it seemed shorter because in our region we spent most of it huddled under layers of quilts, trying to stay warm.  I suspect that this will turn out to be one of the coldest January’s ever.  Well, I can’t complain too much, because cold weather usually brings lots of snow, and snowboarding this season has been epic.  We’ve even had 3 days of powder so far.  The feeling you get while snowboarding in powder is so euphoric, it almost defies description.  And it’s legal!  Suffice to say it should be enough of a reason for any skier to take up boarding.  I have yet to convince my hubby, but my 2 sons have converted, and my son Chris is in my adult boarding class this year, showing me up, of course, because that’s what kids do.  Each week, instructor Tim tries to teach the group a new skill, such as turning in circles, moguls or riding switch (backwards).  Everyone but Chris is older (45+), and we don’t bounce back as easily as when we were teenagers.  In fact, instead of bouncing, we “splat”.  After splatting a few times, we develop hesitancy to attempt to perform that particular move that precedes the splat.  The trouble is that we won’t improve if we don’t keep practicing.  It reminds me of a great quote by Jack Canfield that I read last week:

Everything we want is on the other side of fear.

How true!  Our biggest fear is usually fear of failure, so we avoid failing by not even attempting.  So we stop attempting, and resign ourselves to the fact that we can’t do whatever it was we were trying to master.  This brings me to another great quote, this one by Noah St. John:

The number one secret to success is giving yourself permission to succeed.

Aren’t we our own worst critics? We say “I’m so terrible at ____”.   It usually takes recognition of our ability/skill/talent from someone else before we acknowledge in our own mind that aren’t as bad as we think we are. We can shorten our road to success by granting ourselves this permission.  For 2014, I will attempt to become comfortable with riding switch on my snowboard.  I will try to practice every week, because I know I can do it, and with practice I will become competent.  I will fall less and less as I practice (fewer splats).  By April, I will have added this skill to my snowboarding “toolbox”.

I can extend this into another area of my life – quilting!  I recently purchased several new books on machine quilting.  I can do one of 2 things with these books – I can add them to my growing stack of unread how-to books on quilting, or I can crack the covers and read them, practice the techniques in them, and give myself permission to successfully use these techniques on some quilts this year.  Maybe this time next month, my blog post will be a book report on these books.  Will my quilting improve?  Not initially, but it will if I practice, because I know that eventually I will be able to competently stitch out the designs.  I have already given myself permission to succeed.  My quilting splats are much smaller and less painful than my snowboarding splats.

My quilting bud Betsey is going to add skills to her quilting “toolbox” when she takes my Borders and Bindings workshop on the upcoming Panama cruise in April, organized by Quilt Camp at Sea.   This is currently my favorite workshop – I love teaching this class, because the participants take away several new “tools”.  It’s great having Betsey in my class – she is very methodical, and takes her time, but she makes sure that she understands the process.  Right now Betsey doesn’t have a roommate, and I would room with her again, as I did on a previous Quilt Camp at Sea cruise, but this time around Hubby is joining me.  Betsey is an awesome roommate – we laughed until we cried.  If you know anyone (such as yourself!) who would like to join us on the cruise, please have them contact Kathy at www.quiltcampatsea.com in the next few days.  Just thinking of this cruise helps defrost my fingers and toes right now.  By April I will definitely be ready for some fun in the sun!

I haven’t done a give-away for a long time, so let’s do one today.  For a chance to win a bundle of Northcott’s new Artisan Spirit – Shimmer fabrics, please tell me about a fear that you have overcome, or would like to overcome, or a skill that you learned despite thinking that you “could never be able to do that”.  Please send your comments by February 6.



Stratford Park Meets 100 Blocks

14 Nov

Fellow Quilters,

Once again I have been invited to participate in Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks blog tour, this time to celebrate the release of Volume 8.  As usual, I had lots of fun scanning the issue for blocks that used Northcott fabrics or were designed by quilters who publish patterns in partnership with Northcott.  This time around I found 6 blocks – #721 Pin-whirl by editor-in-chief June Dudley (she used Serenity by Cheri Strole), #733 A Night Out by creative editor Carolyn Beam (she used assorted Northcott fabrics), #742 Walk About by Chris Hoover of Whirligig, #761 Formation by new Northcott pattern designer Shayla Wolf of Sassafras Lane, #794 Orion by Celine Perkins of Perkins Dry Goods, & #800 On the Grid by Jocelyn Ueng of It’s Sew Emma.  I chose 4 of the blocks to play with this time, redoing them in Northcott’s Stratford Park collection of tonal textures.  Let’s take a look at the blocks!

June's Pin-whirl block

June’s Pin-whirl block

Jocelyn's On the Grid block

Jocelyn’s On the Grid block

Celine's Orion block

Celine’s Orion block

Chris' Walk About block

Chris’ Walk About block

Stratford Park is a collection of 6 tonal prints (pindot, ticking stripe, vine, floral, Jacobean, embroidered eyelet) in 6 color palettes: white, pearl, ivory, fawn, chocolate and ebony.  My favorite fabric in the collection is the embroidered eyelet, and I have used it in 4 quilts that I have made so far with Stratford Park.  It adds so much interest to the quilts, and quilts beautifully.

I tried combining some of the blocks in various quilt layouts, but not all of the blocks wanted to play nicely with the others – this happens sometimes.  So I made some digital quilts showcasing each block on its own.  What surprised me were the secondary patterns that were created in each quilt.  Aren’t the quilts interesting?

#5 - Jocelyn's & Celine's blocks as a quilt

#5 – Jocelyn’s & Celine’s blocks as a quilt

#2 - Chris' block as a quilt

#2 – Chris’ block as a quilt

#1 - June's block as a quilt

#1 – June’s block as a quilt

#3 Lots of Celine's blocks with some of Chris' blocks

#3 Lots of Celine’s blocks with some of Chris’ blocks


#4 - Jocelyn's block as a quilt

#4 – Jocelyn’s block as a quilt

I am giving away a copy of this fabulous issue of Quiltmakers 100 Blocks.  For a chance to win, please post a comment by November 18th telling me which quilt you like the best.  If you’ve participated in previous blog tours, you know that I also include a couple more giveaways, so I will also give away a couple of fabric packs of Stratford Park.  And please visit the other blogs on this tour (http://www.quiltmaker.com/blogs/quiltypleasures/)  to see what the other quilters are sharing with you.  Next week I will post some pictures of my Stratford Park quilts, so please come back for a visit.  Until then, enjoy the tour!



Panama, Panels and More

12 Nov

Fellow Quilters,

The mayhem of October and Quilt Market preparations is over, and I am settling into the mountain of paperwork that has taken over my desk.  Fellow Northcott staffer Hania, who likes a minimal amount of clutter, shakes her head when she sees my desk.  I am one of those people who functions nicely in a controlled amount of clutter – I have a lot of stuff on my desk, but I know where to find whatever I’m looking for.  I think that creative people need a certain amount of clutter.  How about you?  Is your sewing space spotless, or do you have to push piles aside to cut a fat quarter into pieces?

I have lots of loose ends to tie up, and several new ones to show you.  Last month, being October, I teased you with a couple of fat quarter packs of Sweet Jane, our latest Quest for a Cure collection supporting breast cancer research.  There were some wonderful comments posted – thank you to all of you!  It seems that a lot of us have very supportive spouses/partners, followed closely by friends, sisters and children.  I randomly chose 2 comments – congrats to Jane Ritz & Kathleen Lambert.

In my August post for 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge I also had a giveaway, and Bonnie Pfrimmer, Sheila and Myra were the winners of packets of Noah’s Jungle fabrics.  During my August road trip through Alberta, Canada I presented trunk shows in which I inspired the attendees to use panels in their quilts for simply stunning quilts.  Since Noah’s Jungle has 2 panels, these lucky quilters will receive them in their packets.  How fun!

Another quilt that uses panel-type fabric (it is actually running yardage of 8” blocks) is my Frosty’s Mittens quilt, featured on the cover of Quilting for Christmas, the annual holiday issue of The Quilter magazine.img-Y04132153-0001
Needless to say, I was delighted when I saw my quilt gracing the front cover!!  It uses the Holly Jolly Christmas flannels for a super easy, super comfy lap quilt.

Northcott has recently added a free downloadable pattern for Solar System to the website. WebBanner_Image

This easy wall quilt features the Stonehenge Out of this World collection, and several of the fabrics glow in the dark.  We even added twinkling lights to it.  How cool is that?!? The Solar System wall quilt uses the panel in the center, and has 2 simple borders.  I taught this class at Quilt Market – it is an abbreviated version of my favorite new class on Borders and Binding, in which I teach participants 6 different border techniques, along with our speedy machine binding that looks as good as hand-binding.  I really love this class because it empowers quilters – they learn how to fearlessly apply mitered borders to their quilts, among other things.  The students pre-cut the mitered borders before they apply them to the quilt.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, but trust me when I say that it works!  I was delighted when the Quilt Camp at Sea organizers asked me to teach this class on their upcoming Panama cruise next April 7-18th.  The students will start with a panel as their “quilt”, and then add lots of borders as they fill their “technique” toolbox with these new-found skills.

Borders workshop sample

The other class that I am teaching is my Simplified Double Wedding Ring, and this one is almost full.  Kathy, Pat and the QCAS gang do an amazing job of co-ordinating everything, including providing sewing machines.  It is like going on a retreat on a luxury floating resort.  I am really looking forward to several of the ports of call, including Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena, Costa Rica, and of course the Panama Canal!  I will be ready for some fun in the sun by April, and look forward to seeing some of my quilting “buds” from previous cruises, as well as making some new friends.  If you are interested in joining me, please visit www.quiltcampatsea.com.  It will be a blast!

I’d like to send a shout-out to 2 guilds that I visited this week – Dunville’s Own Tiny Stitchers, and the Erin Village quilt guild.  Tomorrow I am presenting at the Prince Edward County guild in Picton, ON.  I am also participating in a blog tour for Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 8.  As in previous blog tours, I am giving away a copy of the magazine, and a couple of fabric bundles, so please come back tomorrow for a visit, or even better, subscribe to my blog.  And have fun visiting all of the other sites on the blog tour.



Sweet Jane Fabric Giveaway

15 Oct

Hello Quilters!

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Too many of us have been affected or know someone who has been affected by this disease. I found this great site that has everything you need to know about breast cancer. It is so important to perform regular breast self exams! http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-symptoms-and-signs

QFC logo
Sweet Jane is Northcott’s latest Quest for a Cure collection. It was created by Deborah Edwards in honour of Jane Spolar, one of Northcott’s designers currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Northcott is donating a portion of the purchase price to breast cancer research for every metre/yard of Sweet Jane that is sold.

Plus there are two FREE patterns you can download for this collection:

WeavingHopeWeaving Hope by Jane Spolar
Visit Jane’s web site www.quiltpoetry.com
*It’s on the home page, you have to scroll down a bit to get to it

Stacks of Support by Patti Carey (free download)Stacks of Support by me, here is the link

Oh yes the giveaway!
Please post a comment telling me who the sweetest person in your life is and why. Example: The sweetest person in my life is my husband, because he never complains that I quilt too much and he supports my love for the craft!
Your comment counts as an entry. I will draw two lucky winners at the end of October. Each will win a fat quarter bundle of the Sweet Jane collection. Good Luck everyone!



All Aboard!

19 Aug

Fellow Quilters,

Today is a fun day! I am participating in a blog hop by One Million Pillowcase Challenge to celebrate the half-way point of the challenge – that means that half a million pillowcases have been made and donated to local charities. Wow! That’s a whole lot of love that quilters everywhere are spreading! If you have donated a pillowcase, reach your right hand over your left shoulder and give yourself a pat on the back.

Last month, One Million Pillowcase Challenge made a Pinterest board of their 20 favorite patterns and asked readers to vote on their favorites by repinning them. By month’s end, the results were in – the most repinned pattern was the train appliqué #32.

Each of the blog hop participants has been asked to make up this pattern and post a picture on their blog. I poked through Northcott’s sample room for samples of our newest collections and chose fabrics from a darling collection called Noah’s Jungle, shipping to quilt shops over the next 2 weeks. Noah’s Jungle, designed by Northcott’s Creative Director Deborah Edwards, includes a crib panel and pre-printed 10” squares, along with a multitude of coordinates. The panel and squares are ideal for quick kids’ quilts (it’s nice to get the quilt made before the kids grow up!). I chose the coordinates for the train pillowcase, and told my talented and trusty sidekick Susanne to go to town with the train pattern. She did a wonderful job, even fussy-cutting some of the animal characters and placing them on the train cars. Here is a picture of our pillowcase.

IMG_2261      IMG_2263

This pillowcase would be a wonderful complement to either of the 2 patterns on Northcott’s website for the Noah’s Jungle collection – Kate Mitchell’s “One Fish, Two Fish” or Laura Blanchard’s “Follow the Leader” – on a toddler bed. Here are pictures of Kate’s and Laura’s patterns.

Follow the Leader by Plum Tree Quilts     One Fish Two Fish baby by Kate Mitchell Quilts
Laura’s quilt                                                      Kate’s quilt

Now that the pillowcase is made, I need to donate it. First I visited www.allpeoplequilt.com/millionpillowcases/ and registered my pillowcase – the total clicked to 508,700! My quilt guild donates cuddle quilts to a few worthy local charities, including Yellow Brick House, a women’s and children’s shelter (www.yellowbrickhouse.org). I checked out their website and was astounded to learn that 75% of children that witness abuse will themselves be perpetrators or victims of violence in adulthood unless intervention is received. These shelters provide a critical step in stopping the cycle and getting these moms and kids back on track. I clicked on the website’s wish list, and saw that school supplies top the list of items urgently needed, so I will pick some up and include them with the pillowcase when I drop it off. It will help lessen the burden of a struggling mom, and the pillowcase will hopefully be a constant reminder to a child that someone cares enough to make him or her something special.

If you visited my blog before, you know that I like to give things away. Today’s giveaway is a packet of Noah’s Jungle fabrics! Please post a comment telling me your favorite Noah’s Jungle quilt pattern (Kate’s or Laura’s) by August 23rd for your chance to win a packet. I will choose 3 winners. Good luck, and keep making and donating those pillowcases!



Choose your favorite block & quilt

29 Apr

Fellow Quilters,
The newest issue of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks (volume 7) is rolling off the presses as we speak, and the folks at Quiltmaker’s have organized another blog tour. Today is my day to post, so a warm welcome to visitors from the tour!
Northcott’s ad in the issue features the spa colorway of Serenity by Cheri Strole. I chose the alternate colorway (Caribbean – I am sitting on a beach in the Bahamas today!) to play with various blocks in this issue, and I would like you to tell me which block and quilt below are your favorite, for a chance to win a copy of 100 Blocks Volume 7.
There were 5 blocks designed by pattern designers that also design for Northcott, so I started with their blocks, substituting Serenity for the fabrics shown in the magazine.
Marilyn Foreman of Quilt Moments designed #664 Kaleidoscope Star. Marilyn’s specialty is kaleidoscope, so I used the main print from Serenity for the center portion of the block.

Marilyn's Kaleidoscope star
Chris Hoover of Whirligig Designs used Northcott’s Fragrance in her Tilt-a-Whirl block #669 and showcased the stripe beautifully. Since there wasn’t a stripe in Serenity, I used a directional vine print in its place in the center of the block.

Chris Hoover's Tilt-a-Whirl
Celine Perkins of Perkins Dry Goods always has a block in 100 Blocks, and #687 is Apron Strings. There is lots of plain area in this block.

Celine Perkin's Apron Strings
Marjorie Rhine of Quilt Design NW designed #688 Hearts Around, and it works quite well with Serenity.

Marjorie Rhine's Hearts Around
Jocelyn Ueng of It’s Sew Emma designed #697 Trendster – it has lots of movement.

Jocelyn Ueng's Trendster block
I also used Quiltmaker tester Peg Spradlin’s Pay Day block #695, as she used Northcott’s Kaleidoscope collection in hers. It looks lovely in Serenity too.

Peg Spradlin's Pay Day
Then I started combining the blocks in quilts, and that’s when the fun started! Not all of the blocks played well together – 4×4 layouts don’t always play well with 3×3 layouts. Some of the combinations were much more interesting than quilts made with just one block. Let’s take a look at some of them.
This quilt is a combination of Marjorie’s Hearts block #688 & Jocelyn’s Trendster block #697. The two blocks flow into each other so well that it’s hard to tell where one block ends and the next one starts!

688 & 697 combo
I thought Celine’s Apron Strings block #687 was not too exciting until I combined it with other blocks. Wow! It is a fantastic alternate block! In this next quilt, it is set with Marjorie’s Hearts block.

687 & 688 combo
In this quilt, Celine’s block is paired with Chris Hoover’s Tilt-a-Whirl block #669. This quilt now looks like it has blocks set on point instead of straight-set.

669 & 687 combo
In this final quilt, Celine’s block is set with Marilyn’s Kaleidoscope Star block #664, and creates a diagonal trellis effect – amazing!

664 & 687 combo
Okay, now it’s your turn. Post a comment on my blog by midnight tonight April 29th, telling me your favorite block and quilt, for a chance to win a copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 7. I will also choose a couple of names for a bundle of Serenity fat quarters. And thanks for stopping by! See you soon!


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