Tutorial – Framed Wonky Crosses

March is my month to be queen in one of my bees.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted until about 2 days ago, when I remembered how much I liked a block that I had made for one of the travelling quilts that I worked on last year.  It’s a little improv, which is not normally my thing, as I usually tend to go for traditional blocks in modern colours.  But it’s good to break out of the mold every now and then, right?

Travelling Quilts

This is Gina’s quilt, and you can see along the top the blocks I’m talking about. They are the wonky crosses framed with solids/shot cottons. I’ll give a brief tutorial of how I made them, but because they are improv, feel free to put your own spin on them.

Framed Wonky Crosses

I started with a larger piece of fabric. This one is rectangular, but it could be square, whatever you like. This piece I think is 6.5″x7.5″, but you could go smaller or bigger, whatever you want. You will also need a strip. I used anywhere from 1″ to 1.5″ wide. Much narrower than 1″ the seam allowances get bulkier and that was why I didn’t go smaller. I personally like the look of narrower crosses which is why my largest strip was 1.5″.

Framed Wonky Crosses

Slice the larger fabric in half. The angle doesn’t matter. The only things I paid attention to were making sure that the cut didn’t go to close to a corner, because inserting the strip too close to the corner makes more bulkier seams later on, and also that I cut across two edges that were parallel to each other. I pressed my seams toward the strip because they seemed to want to go that way. If you prefer to press open, that is totally fine.

Framed Wonky Crosses

After the first strip is in, cut the block apart across the other parallel edges and insert a second strip. You can see in this cut that I am closer to the bottom right corner, but it’s not too close that it will affect the seams later when I add the border strips.

Framed Wonky Crosses

Square up your block. It doesn’t have to be a nice round number. I think this one may have been something odd like 6 3/8″x 7 1/4″ or something. As long as the edges are square, the size doesn’t really matter.

Framed Wonky Crosses

Frame the block in solids. Or shot cottons, or fabrics that read as solid if you have no solids. I tended to choose a mix of solids and shot cottons. The width of the strips does not have to be the same on all the sides. You can see that here I used the same width for the blue solid, but the purple shot cotton has 2 different widths. I used strips between 2″ and 4.5″.

Framed Wonky Crosses

Here are some other examples I made. The order that you sew the border strips on does not matter. You can see that in each of these examples, I sewed the strips on in different orders. I chose to use two colours for each border, but you can use 1 if you’d rather.  You can also see that the blocks are all different sizes and shapes and that is also fine.

I hope you have fun making these blocks!  If you have any questions, please ask. 🙂


Birds in the Air

I thought that I had already blogged about this top, but I was looking through my photos on Flickr, and realized that I had sadly forgotten to.  So here goes!

Birds in the Air

Last year, I asked my bee mates in the Canadian Quilters group to make me this block. The tutorial for Birds of the Air is here. I ended up with 13 blocks, but I needed 24 blocks for the layout that I decided on, so rather than make 11 more blocks, I put it in a box for months and kind of forgot about it.

Birds in the Air

Around Christmas time, I was going through my multiple WIP boxes, and I found them. I made a decision to try and finish off some of my WIPs before I started any more major new projects. This was the first project I decided to tackle. It took me longer than expected to make 11 blocks, (which is probably why it got put in a box in the first place), but it was all definitely worth it when I got the top assembled.

Birds in the Air

For now, it’s moved to the next stage of WIP, which means it is sitting in my pile of unquilted tops. I think there’s only like 8 in that stack. That’s manageable, right? Now that I have my Juki (which needs a post in itself) I can actually start to tackle that stack.

Birds in the Air

In the meantime, I’ll rejoice in the small victories. These blocks are now a completed top. One stage further to actual completion!

Merry Christmas to me! My traveling quilt came home

Back in March, I was invited to join a group of quilters who were starting a Canadian Traveling Quilt group.  I admit that I thought about it for a bit before I said yes, but I am so, so glad that I joined up with them.  Just before Christmas, my traveling quilt came home to me, and it is amazing!

It is awesome!

This quilt started in Lethbridge, and then went off to Ontario and Quebec before going to northern Alberta and then back to Lethbridge. Eight different people, including me, worked on it. And even though I didn’t give any fabrics along or any directions as to what I wanted, it’s still a wonderfully cohesive piece. And now it’s home, where it’s going to stay.

Close up of some amazing embroidery and awesome blocks

Julie did this amazing embroidery down on the bottom. After I had surgery this summer, she emailed me and asked what I wanted (in general terms) and I think, though I can’t remember now cause I was on a lot of painkillers, that I wanted something uplifting. I love the quote she picked. “Smooth seas never made a skillful sailor.”

More blocks, love that little envelope.  And the chevron quilting.

Erica made this adorable little envelope block, very fitting for a quilt that traveled all over Canada. This picture also shows some of Deanna’s quilting, the chevron motif, which looks great on the solid navy.

Cute little hexies along the side.

Laura did the hexagons, which are completely adorable. There’s even a little Heather Ross goldfish in there! And I’m actually not sure who did the wonky herringbone block, but it’s wonderful. Everyone made amazing fabric choices.

The whole thing, looking great in the snow

It was really cold when I went outside to take these pictures, but I did anyway, cause this amazing quilt deserved much better lighting than my indoor fluorescent mess. Those blocks on point on the corners are perfect! And I love how it ended up being a square medallion quilt. I think most of the others ended up rectangular.

In my ash tree, where all my quilts eventually end up.

In the ash tree.

And now it’s officially my quilt. My ash tree said so.

Thank you so much to the other quilters who took part in this journey with me. I’ve only seen a few of the other finished quilts, and I’d love to see more of them. And also, now that I’ve got my new Juki (!) I will be finishing Erica’s quilt asap. It’s all basted and ready to go!

Last Bee Blocks for the year

2014 is coming to a close, and all my bee blocks for the year are done now.  I’m going to mail the last one off today.  I last posted October’s blocks (I think) so these are November and December.

For Canadians Quilt, Dominique requested a sewing machine block, with various colour options.  I picked aqua and red.  M-R (December) went with a seasonal theme and asked for Christmas trees in aqua, grey, and red.

Canadians Quilt Bee blockDecember bee block

For Stash Bee, Sue asked for wonky stars. I know she really likes Heather Ross, and of course I don’t blame her and totally understand why.  So I pulled out some Heather Ross and Munki Munki and got to work.  The block was so much fun that I made her two!

Stash Bee November
Stash Bee November

And finally, for the 4×5 Bee, I made four versions of the same block in the colour scheme of the recipient’s choosing.  I think my favourite one of these is the top right, but I really like how all of them came out.  They have all been received already, and all of my blocks have come in the mail too, but I don’t have a picture of them.  They are gorgeous, so I should take one and post it here.

4x5 Bee Hive 1And, though I considered giving up bees entirely for 2015, I’ve decided to continue in Canadians Quilt for another year, and have also joined a second all Canadian bee.  So here’s to another great year of making blocks for other people, and challenging my design comfort and skill level!

Road Trip Quilt Along is finally done

Way back, when I was just starting this blog, I started this quilt.  I made the first blocks 2.5 years ago.  My plan all along was to make 2 quilts, a dark version and a light version.  The dark version I finished nearly two years ago, in February 2013.  It now lives at my mom’s house.  So this quilt has been lingering a long, long time.

The top has been together for just about as long as the first one has been finished.  I guess I was just tired of the project and wanted to move on to other things. A local friend of mine with a long arm finished it for me. I’m pretty sure it would still not be done if she hadn’t done that.

Road Trip QAL

I am very glad to have it done. Something about having very long-standing WIPs sitting for such a long time gets to me every now and then. I still have a large number of tops waiting to be quilted (8, I think, at last count), but I’ll chip at it a little at a time and eventually that iceberg will be gone.

Road Trip QAL

Mr Apple Pie went outside with me in -25C to help me take these pictures. It looks so nice and crisp against the snow.

Road Trip QAL

Road Trip QAL

I didn’t get a shot of just the backing, but you can see it a little in these shots. It’s the same fabrics as the other version, but the placement of the fabrics is reversed. Also, I realize now that I have not labelled it yet. Oops.

Road Trip QAL

Why does it always have to be windy on quilt shoot days?

Road Trip QAL

My fabric tastes have changed a bit since I started this project. I don’t think red is my favourite colour anymore, but it’s still up there near the top. I tend to use more low-volume than white-on-white for backgrounds in my blocks now. The first block I paper pieced is in this quilt and I remember what a hassle it gave me. Paper piecing doesn’t give me hassles anymore, so it’s a sign that my skills have definitely improved.

It’s interesting to take time to look back on your quilting journey sometimes. And to wonder where I will be on my quilting journey 2.5 years from now. Who knows? For now, I’m glad I can check this one off the list and keep moving forward.

Quilt Canada 2015 – Registration is Open!

I haven’t mentioned this a lot in this space here, but Quilt Canada, the most prestigious quilt show in our country, is going to be hosted by my local guild, Lethbridge Centennial Quilters next year in June.  Awhile ago, I was asked to be the blogger for the conference, so I’ve been blogging on the Canadian Quilter’s Association’s (CQA) blog with information that pertains to the show.  This is an amazing opportunity for those in Southern Alberta, and anywhere near Southern Alberta really, to see quilts of an amazing caliber in their own backyard.  We don’t need to go to Houston, or Paducah or Japan.  They are going to be right here!

photo by Teresa Petriw

As another added bonus, there are also classes you can take during the weekend of the quilt show.  This year’s teachers are Weeks Ringle, Margie Davidson, Joanne Flamand, Karen Henry, Cindy Needham, and Kathy Tidswell.  All the information is on CQA’s website, and you can find the page all about the local show in Lethbridge here.

The theme for this show is Blown Away.  The local organizing committee, myself included, is hoping that you’ll be blown away by the amazing works of art that you’ll see at the shown, the skill of the instructors, and the local hospitality that Lethbridge is known for.  The name also ties into the fact that Lethbridge often experiences strong Chinook winds which melt our snow away in the winter.

Registration opened for all members on Wednesday.  If you are not a member, you have to wait until January 14, 2015 to register.  But, if you are planning to take more than 2 one-day course or just 1 two-day course, the fee for being a member will basically pay for itself, since members get a $25 discount per day on all classes.  And if you’re a member you also get a subscription to Quilt Canada magazine!

I hope I meet many of you at the show!  I’m really looking forward to it.

Fabric Bleeding (or why you should always use a colour catcher)

My best friend recently had a baby, a very sweet, very cute baby girl.  And I’m a quilter, so of course I made her a quilt.  It’s what we do, right?  I swear, when someone a quilter knows well has a baby, it’s like a homing signal goes off in your brain and it won’t stop until you start sewing.  But I love sewing, so that’s not a problem.

Anyway! I made her a quilt.  I used a pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew for a quick baby quilt.  And it was very quick; I had the top together in an evening, using a bobbin that seemed to go on forever.  I love when that happens!  All was going well.

Baby Quilt

I basted the quilt, which was also quick and easy since it was small.  I had planned to free-motion the quilt, but my machine is still giving me endless trouble when I try to free-motion.  The thread will snap after about 10 seconds nearly every time.  So maddening!  A long and frustrating story that is not the point of this post.  Back to the topic, the quilt was stitched with my walking foot using organic lines down the length of each strip.

The binding went on quickly and was easy peasy. I usually hand-stitch my bindings but I did this one by machine because I figured it would get washed lots and I wanted it to wear well. So I was all done, just a day and a half after I started. And then I threw it in the washer….

Disaster! I always use a colour catcher the first time I wash a quilt. Always. And usually that colour catcher comes out the same colour it went in because the fabrics dyes hold. Except! This one time, I was in a hurry and I forgot to put that blasted colour catcher in the washing machine. So what happens? One of the fabrics bleeds! Argh. I was not happy.

Baby Quilt - bleeding!

You can see, it was that very dark pink on the top left. I said not nice words to the fabric but it was too late. The damage had been done. I was so deflated about the whole project, and I hemmed and hawed over whether to give it to her at all. In my eyes the whole thing was completely ruined. But then I decided to give it to her anyway. Maybe if it was already stained, she would’t worry so much if it got puked on. 🙂

Baby Quilt - bleeding!

The dye went onto this section as well because of the way it ended up folded in the washer. Grrr.

Baby Quilt

So I dropped it off at her house when I picked up her older daughter for preschool (our daughters are in the same class) and she texted me later to say thanks, and I apologized for the blasted fabric bleeding and said I’d make her another. And she said, “What fabric bleeding?” She hadn’t even noticed! I mean, she saw it after I said something, but what was so glaringly obvious to me she didn’t even notice. I guess you always only see the flaws in your own work.

Moral of the story: friends appreciate the thought that goes into your work and don’t see mistakes like you do. But also, just don’t forget the colour catcher. I know I never will again.