Friday, 26 June 2020


This is a quilt that I've made before in red, white and blue. I'll see if I can find a photo to show you another day. The basic Lonestar block pattern came from a McCall's Best Quilts magazine (Vol. 3, 1988).
 I had a pack of orange and gray fabrics that I curated (LOVE that word!) from the odds and ends in my fabric collection.  I pieced the star - it seemed to be a bit more difficult than I remembered to get the centre portion to lay flat and not bubble. Those bias seams on diamonds are tricky.
.I added a plain narrow light gray border to square up the centre block and then a wider darker gray border to make the measurements work for the outer checkerboard border.
 I then challenged myself to do some custom quilting on each element of the quilt. So the checkerboard border got an orange peel treatment.
The dark gray border was quilted with swirls. The light gray area, including the border, was free-motion quilted with a meandering pattern. And lastly, the diamonds were quilted a quarter inch in from the seam lines to emphasize the diamond shapes.
 All in all I was pretty happy with this little quilt. The textures looks great and I'm slowly getting better at figuring out different things to quilt in different areas.
 It does take at least double the time to quilt a project with various techniques as opposed to a general all-over design that doesn't take into account the different elements of the piecing.
 Quilt was finished with a gray print that I had in my stash and machine bound with a solid gray fabric.

A quilt with these details doesn't stay in the shop very long and I'm glad I took lots of photos while it was still here. It may be one I do again in a different colourway. (I'm pinning lots of colour inspiration on Pinterest!)


Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Winnie the Pooh

Not really sure if I've shared this one with you yet. A few months ago, I had a call from someone who heard that I make and sell my quilts and do custom work. She had a set of 4 Winnie the Pooh cross stitch blocks that she had done with her daughter and wanted them made into a quilt for her expected grandchild.
 I did have some Winnie the Pooh fabrics left from a previous project that were perfect for this quilt. I was not sure that I would have enough, so I went looking to find a few more pieces so I could add them to make this quilt a good size to last from baby to toddler.
 Unfortunately, I was unable to find what I needed, so the next challenge was to make do with what I had. Adding a couple of coordinating solids gave me the extra fabric I needed to make this quilt the size we were looking for. A fun frame of orange and gray and simple piecing of the hexagon fabric I had on hand resulted in a fun quilt top that let the cross stitch pieces take centre stage.
I then decided that I didn't want to quilt this with my usual all over meandering quilting and sent it to Marie of Blueberry Hill Quilts in High River, Alberta so she could work her magic. We choose a honey bee quilting pattern and a simple cross-hatch over the stitched pictures.

The end result is a really pretty quilt that will be sure to be a heirloom in the family. A piece of personally stitched pieces from family and finished by Magpie Quilts!

Have you used embroidery or cross-stitching as a starting point for a quilt project?


Monday, 1 June 2020

Disappearing 9-patch baby quilt

I've done a lot of sorting and cleaning up in my sewing room during this "Stay home, stay safe" time of COVID-19. And I find all kinds of unfinished projects and extra blocks. I made a twin size quilt with these fabrics a year or so ago and had a couple blocks left over and some fabric left.

And just like a sour-dough bread starter that is needed to start a new loaf of bread, I use left-over blocks like these as a starting point for new quilt projects.
 I put the blocks up on my design wall and cut and pieced some more until I had enough for a baby quilt. I didn't think I had enough of the navy with the silvery gray print circles on it, so I chose another similar shade of navy for the small squares.
In the end I still had a few blocks left over - so much for using those up! And after it was all pieced together and quilted, I found enough of the original navy fabric that I wouldn't have had to substitute.

But that's the way things go sometime and there will be another navy and green quilt at some point because I still have a few blocks to use as a quilt-starter in the future.

How about you? Do you save left-over blocks or orphan blocks to make new projects? Tell me about how you've used your left over pieced pieces.


Monday, 11 May 2020

New Skill - Quilting with Rulers

Even though I've been quilting for over 30 years, there's always something new to learn or ways to improve my skills. I happened to see a post about ruler quilting on one of my social media feeds and looked into it a little to see what it was all about.
 That little foray into ruler quilting led to a class at my local quilting shop and a purchase of a ruler foot for my specific machine and a set of basic rulers to get started.
 I made up a simple table runner from some pretty fabrics and after a little practice on a practice piece, I tried this new technique out.
 It's not perfect, but it looks pretty good for a first attempt on a project.
 I'll need a lot more practice, but I'm watching all the Angela Walters and Amanda Murphy videos to hopefully learn some tips from the experts!
 And ta-da! A finished table runner!
Rail Fence Table Runner
What techniques have you learned recently? Where do you go to learn new things?


Saturday, 9 May 2020

Charm Pack Fun

Every once in a while, the sewing room needs to get a little clean up and organization. For me, this can happen at many different times through the year but always results in increased productivity. I try to sew on 2-3 days during the week, sometimes only for a short time, but other days I sew much longer.
Packaging mini kits
When I'm cleaning up and folding fabrics and putting them back where they belong, I will often see a combination of fabrics that I might have an idea for. I'll put those fabrics together, take the time to dig out the pattern I am thinking of (or maybe just draw a little sketch) and put them all together in a baggie. That way even when I have a little stretch of time to sew, like maybe half an hour or so, I'm not spending that whole time looking for fabrics or patterns. I can just grab one of the pre-packaged bundles and get right to work.

And then before I leave my sewing area, I'll put everything back in the baggie or in a project box (pizza box or a 12"x12" plastic box) and it will be all ready for next time. This has worked great for me for when I go and sew with friends or when I'm going on a retreat as well as at home.
Moda Love Quilt
 So earlier this year, I found a couple charm packs of the same fabric line and thought I could do up a few Valentine themed quilts. The Moda Love quilt is one I've made with 10" squares and wanted to do with the 5" squares so I thought it was a good choice.
Bow Tie Quilt
 I've done this bow tie quilt a number of times in the past and I love it for charm packs.
Scrappy Heart
 And this little scrappy heart was something I saw on my Instagram feed. There's probably a pattern out there somewhere, but it's a simple grid quilt and the little 1.5" squares are adorable.
Double Four Patch Table Runner
 I still had quite a bit of the fabrics left, so I put together this double nine-patch table runner. Pattern is from Mary Quilts here.
Bow Tie Quilt
 And the bow ties just make me happy! This pattern looks so great in every fabric I've made it from and I will make it again and again! Pattern is Charm Circles from Me and My Sister Designs and is a free PDF. I just arranged the bow ties slightly differently.
Moda Love Quilt

 The Moda Love quilt is stunning! This free pattern is another one that I will make again. Super easy, even for a beginner quilter and looks like a million bucks!
I <3 Mug Rug
I didn't get them done before Valentine's Day 2020, but they are timeless and will look just as great in 2021!

Tell me what your favourite quilt pattern is and how many times you have made it!


Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Sloths Quilt

Like any quilter who's been on social media for a while, I've seen my share of Elizabeth Hartman patterns done up in a variety of colours and combinations. Frankly, I've always been a bit intimidated by what looks like incredibly complex quilt piecing.
 When I was asked to make a quilt with a sloth theme, I wondered what that might look like and as I searched for ideas, I discovered that there actually was a sloth pattern out there!
My only guidelines were sloth theme and the colour purple, so I pulled out a fat quarter pack of purple prints that I had. Each sloth would take one fat quarter of fabric plus the fabric for the faces, tree and the background. And  the pattern was a PDF download, which made it super easy to get started.
I had a natural Essex cotton linen for the background and some bark-like fabric left over from another long ago project. I carefully cut out the pieces as directed. And there were a lot of pieces! As you can tell, I used sticky notes to mark which piece was which (highly recommend labelling pieces in some way!) 
 I sashed and bordered the pretty purple sloths with a purple Kona cotton and sent it off to be quilted by Marie of Blueberry Hill Quilts in High River, Alberta.
 Marie chose a beautiful panto of jungle-like leaves which adds a really cool texture and makes it look like the sloths are peeking out through the leaves.
 I'm super happy with how easy this all went together. The pattern was really well-written and easy to follow. I'm normally a read through the pattern and then do it my own way kind of quilter, but there was no need to do this for this quilt.
I'm looking forward to making another of Elizabeth's patterns in the near future. I have my eye on this one that will be released later this month for a project for my grand-daughter and I to make together.
The Puppies
I can't wait to get started!


Monday, 16 March 2020

Pizza Box Sampler Quilt finish

I shared back in January about the pizza box challenge we had in one of the guilds I was a part of. Each member of the exchange was given a pizza box. We could chose what to put in the box, either a pattern or fabric or both and as the box was passed around, each person added something to the box following the instructions given.
Blue Sampler Quilt
 I put in a piece of blue fabric that was to be used in each of the blocks with instructions to build a 12.5" block of their choice.
Close up of Blocks
 When I got my box back, I had 8 different blocks made by my quilting friends and a little fabric left over.
Close up of Blocks
 I added 8 more blocks and a border fabric to make this quilt. I love that it includes blocks that are completely different from any I've made and to see the creativity of others.
Close up of Blocks
 It was sent to my friend Marie from Blueberry Hill Quilts (in High River, Alberta) for quilting and she chose a great all-over design that gives a great quilted texture to this piece.
Close up of Blocks
 The flannel back will just get softer with use and washing. This quilt will be a heirloom that will last for many years!
Flannel Backing, Quilting Details
I love working on projects that involve multiple people. What are you working on today?


Thursday, 12 March 2020

Applique on a Baby Quilt

I've made a lot of quilts based on a 9-patch block, most with the centres and corners with a darker fabric and the 4 sides with a lighter background. This quilt started with the 9-patches made with the light fabric in the centre and corners and the darker fabric on the 4 sides. Combined with a snowball block, the combination gives quite a different look.
Giraffe quilt
The next photo shows what this quilt would look like with the colors reversed. Same fabrics in both.
9-patch & Snowball quilt - SOLD
A while ago I had a customer request a giraffe added to the quilt she ordered. So I bought a small bit of giraffe fabric and traced a giraffe from a coloring book. When I placed it on her quilt, it was just too small and so I made one that was larger. But then I was left with the smaller giraffe.

Giraffe Applique
I've auditioned it on many of my baby quilts since then and it just didn't look good on any of them until I finished this top. I prep my appliques with fusible web (Heat n Bond lite, Steam a Seam 2) so all I needed to do was place the giraffe and set it with my iron and finish with machine blanket stitch. I add some tear away stabilizer to the back while I do the stitching and it helps make the stitches look full and even. You may want to try without - depending on your machine, you could have great results either way.
Minky backing
The backing is a heart embossed Minky fabric, quilted with loopy loops all over.
Another shot of the Minky backing
Because I work a lot with just the fabrics I have on hand, I often run out of coordinating fabric before a quilt is the size I want it. In this case, I had just enough to do the blocks, but not a border. I found this great lighter blue fabric and added a border all around. Again, traditionally I would have used the same tone and intensity or something darker but I really liked the way this turned out.
Giraffe Quilt
Have you tried something that twists the traditional around? Tried a new technique? Or kept something that didn't work for one project and used it in another? 


Monday, 10 February 2020

Embroidered Journal Covers

Every year I try to find some new products for the shop and for the markets I do in person. This past season, it was embroidered journal covers.
 The quilting stores are carrying some really great linen-look cottons and I chose a denim blue and a natural color for the backdrop to these embroidery designs.
 They were well received at all my sales and online. I'm learning lots about how to get a really great result on my embroidery machine - my first few attempts had lots of puckers and thread nests, but the more I practice, the less those things happen.
 A standard composition book just slides into the front and back flaps.
 I've seen some versions with some options for pen holders as well as a bookmark and ties to close the covers together.
But for now, I really like this basic cover - it's pretty classy and a great way to personalize a notebook!