Tutorial: What is a Scant 1/4″?

What is a scant 1/4″ seam allowance? Why do I need it? How do I get it? This post will answer all your questions about this quilting term!

What is it?

A scant 1/4″ seam allowance is a seam allowance that is ever so slightly narrower than one 1/4″ inch. You can notice here that where the seam folds in, the top of the assembly dips a little. A few of the fibres of the fabric that get swallowed up in that dip.  A scant 1/4″ compensates for the loss of some fabric in the folds of a seam, so that the dimensions of your block remain true.

A teensy bit of fabric gets lost in the seam.

Why should I care?

Striped Scallops blocks

See this block here? It’s from my newest pattern, Striped Scallops. There are eleven vertical seams in this 12 1/2″ (unfinished) block — ELEVEN! If you use a “true quarter inch” seam, you lose a little bit in each seam and by the end of it all, it’s noticeably smaller than that bottom rectangle, which has been accurately cut at 12 1/2″. See the teal block below.

I used my 1/4″ foot for a “true” 1/4″ seam and it ate up almost 1/2″ over the width of the block!

In my experience, ignoring a scant 1/4″ is most noticeable and puzzling when a pattern has seams meeting a perpendicular (such as Banner Year and even a traditional log cabin). Multiple seams meeting at a single perpendicular, like in this Striped Scallops, exacerbate the issue. The tiny bites those seams take out your fabric start to add up!

How do I get it?

It’s a matter of testing! Cut six 2 1/2″ squares. It’s best to use contrasting fabrics and alternate them. Don’t follow my example of this six-squared gradient. Although it’s pretty, it’s harder to see what you’re looking for!

Sew the squares together into a row, using a reference that you think is a good 1/4″ seam allowance. This might be a tape line on your sewing machine, a 1/4″ foot, the edge of your normal foot. Press all the seams to one side or press them all open — whichever is your general preference. Get your ruler out and see what you’ve got.

The six squares above should theoretically add up to a row that measures 12 1/2″, right? It is actually only 12 1/8″! Yikes. If you look at the 8 1/2″ mark and follow the squares going to the left, you can see that each is a bit smaller than 2″. This means that the seam allowance is too big and I need to make it narrower.

My seam guide with my scant 1/4″ reference.

Adjust your reference – move your tape line, change your sewing machine foot, or adjust your seam guide. I use a Janome Seam Guide (affiliate link) on my Juki. Repeat the exercise with new squares till you get accurate 2″ widths and the right overall length.

This one is five squares; each colour is 2″ and the overall length actually measures 10 1/2″. This is it! We’ve found it!

Keep a reference

I “recorded” this accurate scant 1/4″ on a postcard so that I can set up my seam guide in a jiffy. Once I found the scant 1/4″, I sewed a line on a postcard and labelled it. I keep it next to my sewing machine so if I have to set up my scant 1/4″ with my seam guide, it’s easy to find.

Using tape as a seam guide.

Some considerations

Pressing seams open vs. pressing seams to one side: This here is not a debate of which is better – open or to one side. Rather, I am telling you if you prefer pressing your seams to one side, make your scant test that way. If you are a press-open type, do your test with your seams open. Each method will yield different results because there is a differing amount of fabric folded under at the seam. No use testing in conditions that are not true to reality!

Spoonflower’s New Petal Signature Cotton, in my own fabric design – Nebulous in Navy.

Different substrates: Different fabric manufacturers and different weights of fabric will have a different scant 1/4″ because of the amount of bulk at the seam. I usually use one manufacturer for a whole quilt and mostly in quilting cotton, so one test for that manufacturer usually suffices. If you like mixing manufacturers (and you should, it’s fun!), it gets a bit dicier. However, unless you are working with vastly different substrates — like cotton lawn and quilting cotton — you should be fine. Art Gallery has a noticeably different “hand” (different tactile feel to the fabric) because of its thread count so this may warrant some experimentation if you’re mixing it in. A linen/cotton blend is also noticeably heavier and will need another test.

This fabric is Spoonflower’s New Petal Signature Cotton. It felt a bit heavier than the quilting cottons I was used to using so I thought I should test it out with 5 x 2 1/2″ squares. And my hunch was right… I needed a narrower 1/4″ to get it to be accurate. This test doesn’t take too long, so if you’re in doubt, do a test with your chosen fabrics before you start a project. Especially if the project at hand is a higher-stakes one — high time or fabric investment!

There you have it. A scant 1/4″ seam allowance. It’ll help you with your accuracy!

PreQuilt x 3rd Story

In the fall, I had the privilege of meeting up with Laura Henneberry in Toronto. Laura is half the mastermind behind PreQuilt, a web-based app that lets you pre-colour a quilt to test out ideas before you start cutting into fabric. The other half is her husband Gar Liu, who is the web developer. Together they developed this tool for quilters to be able to visualize their quilts without expensive software.

You can create a quilt from scratch using a library of blocks or use existing designer patterns and re-color them. I am so pleased that my design, Banner Year, is available for “pre-quilting’!

Abby Glassenburg of While She Naps wrote a piece about PreQuilt when they launched in the summer: “For designers, offering a pattern on the PreQuilt app gives their customers an obvious value-add – the ability to easily see how the finished quilt will look made in an infinite array of different colors. It’s often challenging for customers to visualize how a pattern will look in colors other than those pictured on the cover photo, but PreQuilt makes it easy and fun.”

PreQuilt offers solid colour palettes from major fabric manufacturers like American Made Brand, Kona, RJR, Michael Miller, Moda, Riley Blake,  AGF, and Free Spirit. Choose your favourite or explore a manufacturer that’s new to you — or mix it up! As a web-based app, you don’t have to download anything — you can simply play around on the site and save an image of your quilt design when you are happy with it. Here’s a clip of how I played with it:

Patterns are currently available from designers such as Laura Henneberry herself (Commonwealth Quilts), Rebecca Burnett, Rachel Hauser (Stitched in Color) and Krista Hennebury (Poppyprint) — with more designer collaborations coming soon. When you purchase the pattern through the PreQuilt shop, we share the proceeds. Give it a go and have fun!

Laura and Gar’s quilt design Vocal as it appears in the PreQuilt app

English Paper Piecing & Watercolour on Fabric

I took a intro English Paper Piecing (EPP) workshop with Jenn of Quarter Inch from the Edge earlier this summer and found it to be a very satisfying process. Since then, I pondered what project would be good to explore EPP. I dabbled in fussy cutting, more linear rather than radial arrangements, solid colours — but nothing felt quite “me” untiI I listened to an interview with Ashley Nickels on the Crafty Planner podcast. I have been since following her Instagram feed closely and got a flash of inspiration late one night, a few days before my family vacation to California. I “needed” a travel project (right?), so I embarked to English paper piece some watercolour fabric.

First EPP attempt. I thought that the painted fabric would be a good background for it, but the intensity of the solids was too much for the airy watercolours.

Before I started working with fabric, watercolour was my favourite medium. It is quick and portable. The best part of it is the edge – where the colour meets the toothy, water-absorbent, weighty watercolour paper. That’s where some serious magic happens. As I was gawking at Ashley’s watercolour quilts that fateful night, I went down some Instagram rabbit hole and stumbled upon an image of some watercoloured paper hexagons featuring this very beautiful edge phenomenon. When I woke up the next day, I could not for the life of me find that image again. I searched for days and came up with nothing. Maybe it was a dream.

Ashley’s original technique uses fabric dyes to achieve vibrant and intense colours (check out her Creativebug class). I prefer low-stakes experiments when I’m starting out, so not spending a lot of money on paint and fabric helped me jump right into this process rather than having to figure out “proper” or best way to do things. I found this tutorial by Cami Graham of Tidbits and loosely followed it. I used some very old watercolour tube paints and Martha Stewart fabric medium, which turns any paint into fabric paint. For fabric, I used an old white pillowcase that was very much past its prime.

The painting process was quick and dirty.  I modified Cami’s process a bit to make sure that I got those edges that I seeking. It took me very little time, maybe half an hour or so. After air-drying the fabric, I machine-washed and dried it. It ended up losing some colour, but still retained those important edges.

I randomly cut the fabric into squares, then prepared the hexies for my very long three-leg journey from the East Coast of Canada to SoCal. I brought baby nail clippers to cut thread in place of scissors, in hopes that security would not confiscate them at the airport (and they didn’t!). After entertaining my boys for a bit of first plane ride, I pulled out the hexies. Some had the “edge” and some were all painted. I played with them like a puzzle, trying to line up the edge from hexagon to hexagon. And then…A coastline appeared. That’s what I was looking for; I just didn’t know it.

See the tiny islands in the sea to the left?

Inspiration comes from lots of places. This time it came from other artists, rabbit holes, and playing around. What will become of this piece? I have no idea. Will it become a series? I would like that. Will I return to it? I hope so. But for now, it will have to sit on the backburner.

Free Motion Quilting Clouds and “The Quilter’s Path” with Christa Watson

Christa Watson is a quilter, teacher and designer based in Las Vegas, NV. I took her Craftsy class, “The Quilter’s Path”, having only ever taken a 5-hour quilting workshop with Linda Coolen Smith of our local modern quilt guild. I needed lots of help understanding the limits and possibilities of walking foot and free motion quilting, and Christa’s class was a great place to start.

The class is divided into 6 lessons, between 18 and 26 minutes each. The class comes with downloadable resources, including a printable supply list and the Pinwheels Quilt pattern, pictured above (40″ x 56″). The class starts with walking foot designs using basic grids then moves to more complicated designs such as a walking foot spiral. Christa then moves into free motion designs such as spirals and meanders, and then combines the FMQ with walking foot designs.

It’s fun to watch her teach and everything seems to make perfect sense. Two things that I especially appreciate about Christa’s class: 1) The way she uses test block to practise and try out a design, and 2) The way she shows you how to apply the design to a larger quilt. Testing is an approach that I like to use in my own work, but of late, have forgotten about it and have suffered the consequences! Another thing to do before you delve into quilting a larger piece is to plan your path first. I am fine with quilting small blocks but have little experience with manoeuvring larger quilts. Christa shows you how to plan your quilting path to first anchor your quilt and then fill in with more density and detail. This is an error I have made recently with my Color Flocks quilt; I started way too dense and now I have to persevere through to the very end of a density marathon to finish this sample.

Christa also encourages you to sketch your quilting before you do it. This rote motor practice helps when it comes time to actually stitch with your machine.

My obsession with free motion clouds has been greatly helped by “The Quilter’s Path.” I took Christa’s “elongated swirls”, where you echo along the tail of a spiral motif, and doodled about 8 pages’ worth of cloud designs with the swirls as the starting point. It gave me lots of practice figuring out how to travel around the surface of the quilt. Paper is much less expensive than fabric and less of a time commitment, so “sketch twice, FMQ once,” or something of the sort!

Responsiveness is the marker of great service and a great teacher. I asked Christa a question via the Craftsy platform about how to approach the background and she responded within 24 hours of my post. I appreciated the quick turnaround and it makes me want to take another class! It is very apparent that Christa really wants you to succeed with your quilting and feel confident enough to progress to the next level.

For you readers, Christa is offering 50% off her class when you sign up via this link. The discount will show up when you add the class to your cart; it expires October 5, 2017. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Plan the overall quilting design, sketch the quilting design, then quilt away!

 

Tutorial: Quick Improv Pincushion

Remember the binge I went on last week that resulted in eight pincushions that illustrated a glossary of colour terms? Here’s how I made them. These use the tiniest of scraps; each measures 1″ wide and 2″ to 3″ long. And they’re so quick and satisfying.

I don’t know how you organize your scraps, but my usable strips are in a very classy plastic grocery bag and shoved at the bottom of a drawer. This is what it looks like when you open the bag. It’s like snakes in a can, but colourful. Mostly solids, of course, as I have trouble with a lot of pattern. This is not exactly a scrapbusting project, as you will put only the smallest of dents in your scrap bag, but it’s great to experiment with colour and fabric combinations. Tiny little tests. I like tests, as seen here and here.

Fabric / Supply Requirements:

  • 12 scraps of fabric, 1″ wide by 2″ to 3″ long
  • One (1) scrap for back of the cushion, approx. 4″ x 4.5″
  • Two (2) scraps of batting, measuring roughly 4″ x 4.5″ (You know when you square up a quilt and you end up with a strip of batting? This is what you can use it for.)
  • Crushed walnut shells
  • Funnel
  • Poking device (like scissor tips, chopstick, etc.) for turning
  • Scooping device, for walnut shells
  • Needle and thread

I selected an orange and white palette, mixing in a linen/canvas print from Carolyn Friedlander’s Euclid collection. It was also my backing fabric.

  1. Arrange your 12 scraps in two rows of six. Play around until you are satisfied. Look here for more combos and arrangements. It doesn’t matter that they are not all the same length; there is plenty of room to trim off the differences later on.

  1. Place your first two scraps together at a 90 degree angle. Sew at a 45 degree angle (right, image above), like you would two pieces of binding. You can mark the 45 degree line first if you prefer, but it’s such a short distance to sew that you can eyeball it. See how I line it up with my foot in the photo below; aim for that bottom corner and you’ll be fine!

  1. Chain piece the remaining 5 pairs in the same manner.

  1. Press your seams to one side.

  1. Join each strip to its adjacent one to make three pairs. I try to stagger the 45 degree angles so they don’t line up.

  1. Join the pairs till you have them all assembled. Press.

  1. Trim raggedy edges so that the height of your small panel is 3.5″. It will be not quite 4″ wide.

  1. Cut your batting to slightly larger than your panels, both front and back. (See that strip of batting at the bottom left? It’s an off-cut from squaring up a quilt.)
  2. Time to quilt it! I did quick straight lines just to the side of each vertical seam. Start at the middle and work your way outward.
  3. Repeat with the back piece.

  1. Trim both the front and the back to 4″ wide by 3.5″. You’ll notice hear that your panel is less that 4″ wide. Centre the 4″ so that there is an even amount of batting to either side, as pictured below.

I love that this Carolyn Friedlander Euclid print in linen canvas “fades” toward the selvedge; a leftover from this project.

  1. Sew the front and back together, right sides together, leaving a 2″ opening. Mine was 2.5″ which I found to big to get crisp corners when I turned it right side out.
  2. Trim the corners and turn right side out using your “poking device.” I use a Japanese chopstick, which tapers at the end.

  1. Use your fingers to tuck the open edge into line with the seam line. Press.

  1. Time to fill it up! Crushed walnut shells add some weight to your cushion and also prevent your pins from dulling when you repeatedly poke them into the pin cushion. I use a funnel and something to scoop from the bowl. Fill to about halfway.

  1. Use a whipstitch to close your cushion. Only go about halfway, till the tip of your funnel just fits.

  1. Fill it up the rest of the way. Scrunch down the shells as much as possible with the tip of your funnel. Try to fill it up as much as you can manage, while still allowing a little space to finish up your whipstitch.
  2. Continue with your whipstitch till the cushion is sealed. Tie a knot, bury the thread and trim.

All done! Now isn’t it so unbelievably adorable?

Colour Post: A Glossary of Colour, in Pincushions

I have been following Amanda Jean Nyberg of Crazy Mom Quilts for a little while now, and I have seen her produce pin cushions on a daily basis. What a great way to use up scraps. I was particularly enamoured with Day 8 of this current round of production and made one for myself. And then I thought it was SO cute — and I am not one to gush about cuteness. But this was REALLY cute. So I made seven more as tiny quick colour studies. (Remember SkinnyMalinkyQuilts’ Quilt Prints?)

This Colour Theory series came out at 3″ x 3.5” each. Using short 1″ stripes from a bag of solid scraps, each illustrates colour schemes of basic colour theory. I will post a tutorial for the pincushions in the next couple of weeks (here it is). But for now, I’d like to provide you with an illustrated glossary of terms that will help you articulate your thoughts and preferences around colour. A glossary illustrated with pincushions, that is. Why is it important to be able to articulate in words how and what you think about colour? Because it helps you make conscious design choices, whether you are selecting fabric for a quilt, putting together an outfit, or decorating a room. (Please note that this is not by no means exhaustive list of terms; it is meant to give you a start.)

First, let’s start with a CMY (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow) colour wheel. Sign up for the newsletter if you would like a printable PDF of the colour wheel.

HUE is the name of a colour, such as purple. A MONOCHROMATIC colour scheme uses one hue in various tints and shades, illustrated by the purple pincushion below.

INTENSITY or SATURATION is the purity of colour that determines its brightness or dullness. The pincushion below uses only WARM colours and is very SATURATED.

A TINT is a colour with the addition of white, such as baby blue. SHADE is colour with the addition of black, such as maroon. When you lighten or darken a colour with white or black, they become MUTED – the opposite of saturated. The colour scheme of the pincushion below is made up of COOL colours, and MUTED in tone.

An ANALOGOUS colour palette uses colours that are adjacent to each other on the colour wheel. The WARM colours in the pincushion to the right are ANALOGOUS. With the purple next to it, the whole composition of the photo also uses an ANALOGOUS colour scheme.

 

A NEUTRAL colour scheme is made up of white, black, and gray. Often neutral colours like white and gray have a temperature – warm or cool. The whites in the pincushion below are warm in temperature, with a slight it of yellow in them. This is another example of a MONOCHROMATIC colour scheme.

COMPLEMENTARY colours are directly across from each other on the colour wheel, such as blue and orange (below, top). SPLIT COMPLEMENTARY colours are indirectly across from each other on the colour wheel, such as the green/pink/orange pincushion at the bottom of the photo.

TRIADIC colour schemes loosely form a equilateral triangle when you connect them in a colour wheel, such as the three primary colours (pincushion to the left, below) or three secondary colours. A QUADRATIC colour schemes forms a rectangle or square, as in the purple, blue, yellow and orange pincushion.

There are multitude of words and ways to talk about colour, and I could go on for a long time about the relationships and proportions of colour as well, but I’ll save that for another day. I think I will have to give names to these very cute pincushions.

Tutorial: Improv Birch Trees

I was asked to make a quilt for a woodland nursery. Animals are not yet in my design wheelhouse so I still have to work out that part, but I was delighted that to have the opportunity to test a tree technique that was in my head. Birch trees are linear, black and white, irregular but wieldy enough — I can handle that! There are many ways to make birch trees as you can see by the examples on Pinterest (scroll to the bottom of the post), but this tutorial shows you my approach.

If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that I prefer to test new ideas and techniques on small projects such as mini quilts, pillows, and trivets. The project below is a 12” x 18” pillow cover featuring Elizabeth Hartman’s Fancy Fox.

This is a somewhat improvisational technique, so that means that variation adds interest. All measurements are given as guidelines; allow yourself to approximate. No cuts have to be straight, no widths have the  same, no lines have to be parallel. More variation results in a more realistic birch forest.

3rd Story Workshop’s Improv Birch Trees
Yields at least 4 trees, roughly 1.5” x 15”, finished
with leftovers for future birch tree projects.
A 1/4” seam is assumed, unless otherwise noted.

 

Fabric Requirements:
1 white or off-white fat quarter
4 scrap strips of black and or dark grey, ranging from 1” to 2” wide x ~18” long
Scraps of white, off-white, or black/white stripes, about 1.5” x 3.5” (stripes should be parallel to the 1.5” edge)
Background fabric, width of your project x ~14” tall

 

  1. Fold your fat quarter in half along the 22” edge. (This step is not necessary, it’s just easier to cut and is what is pictured below.)
  2. Cut into strips between 2” and 3” wide. The strips don’t have to be very straight or parallel.

  1. Put your three skinniest strips aside.
  2. Pair 4 white strips with your black strips. Piece them together.
  3. Cut off any excess black.

  1. Slice off a bit of the black strips, leaving about 1/2” attached to the white. (Remember: Variation is best! More or less than 1/2” is good. Not quite parallel is good.)

  1. Piece your strips together.
  2. Add one additional white strip from the strips you put aside in Step 3. Voilà, a panel of fat white stripes and skinny black stripes.

  1. Cut 8 strips off your pieced panel, roughly 1.5: wide.

  1. Pair them up and turn one strip from each pair upside down.
  2. Take your remaining two white strips and cut them in half lengthwise.

  1. Insert them in between your stripy strips.
  2. Join each trio together with a rough 1/4” seam.

  1. You can make skinnier trees by omitting the white strip in the middle. My fifth tree, on the right below, shows you how this will look. (Another variation = good!)

  1. The resulting trees are about 12.5” tall, but I needed a little more height for my pillow. I sliced three trees into two; the cut line varies in position.
  2. This is where you will add the additional white, off-white or striped scraps. I used some hand-printed linen scraps from Keephouse that I picked up last weekend. For the two trees on the right, I added the extra fabric to the bottom of the tree.

  1. Trim the addition to match the width of the tree.

  1. Take your background fabric and slash them at various angles. For my project, the Fancy Fox is part of my “background” and is centred between two pairs of trees.

  1. Lay your birch trees in the slashes, and piece your verticals together in pairs, leaving a extra bit of length of tree at the top and bottom.

  1. Trim the extending tree bits  off the top and bottom to line them up with your background. This will help you align the next background piece without having to deal with funny angles.

  1. Finish piecing the remaining verticals.
  2. Baste, quilt, finish as desired.

 Variations for your forest:
  • For taller trees, stack and join the trees or add more scraps as per Step 15 and 16.
  • For some skinnier and different looking trees, omit middle white strip as per Step 14.
  • For quicker trees, only use a single ~2” strip from your pieced panel, as per Step 9. No additional piecing before you insert the tree into your background.

You’ll see in this photo that I had to add more background fabric to the left and right to make it wide enough for my pillow. These seams will almost disappear when quilted, especially because it’s linen. I can’t see Elizabeth Hartman’s Fancy Forest with anything other than free motion quilted wood grain, so that’s how this one will be quilted. I found instructions for wood grain FMQ in Free Motion Quilting with Angela WaltersCheck out more birch trees on this Pinterest board.

https://www.pinterest.com/3rdstory_/birch-trees/

Land & Sea: A collaboration with Keephouse

Photo: Naomi Hill

2017 marks the 150th birthday of Canadian Confederation. The country has been ramping up to this for quite some time now, with capital projects readying for years leading up to this very occasion.Quilting as a craft has deep roots in American history, but I really want to explore what stories and techniques a Canadian quilt can contain to commemorate this sesquicentennial year. I had great intentions in 2016 to get a series of one-off throw quilts off the ground, featuring different regions of vast Canadian landscape. I got “Land & Sea” finished in time for a Quilt Con entry at the end of November and another two quilts are in the works. So, it’s not really quite a series. Yet.

At my very first craft show in April of 2016, Alissa Kloet of Keephouse approached my booth and I was flattered that she showed any interest in my work. I had been an admirer of her work ever since I saw it at the first Halifax Crafters show I attended as a patron in 2012. The clean aesthetic, the clarity of handiwork in the designs, and her tagline, “Moments Made Well” — It appealed to me on so many levels. She wanted to swap some of her pieces for one of mine (as is common practice at craft shows, I have learned), so I gave her a Ruby Gemology Pillow in exchanged for her tea towels in her “Houses” print and coasters in her “Strip” print. It was completely pre-meditated but I was definitely bashful about throwing it out there, “Would you like to do a collaboration with me?” I blurted, after I chased her down the stairs back to her booth. This coming from someone who had made a total of four baby quilts, some quilted wall hangings, and 30 quilted pillows.

“Sure!” she said. A little bit easier of an answer than I expected, and I was so pleased.

That was not only the beginning of a creative collaboration, but I found in Alissa a new colleague and friend. When you’re a solo creative entrepreneur, it can be lonely. Having someone with more experience to talk to about what you’re passionate about, especially the less-glamourous elements of business, is important in keeping your feet on the ground, mind expanding outward, and heart facing forward.

Back of “Land & Sea.” Photo: Naomi Hill

Since my days in architecture school, I have had a fascination with the notions of “place” and “home.” As I talked to Alissa about this idea, she suggested that, in addition to the handprinted fabric design/produced here and about here, we include some hand-dyed fabric coloured with goldenrod plants from right outside her door. Her surroundings in Seaforth, Nova Scotia are something to behold. On my way to her studio for the first time, I stopped briefly at Lawrencetown Beach on the Eastern Shore and picked up these stones that speckled the little nook where I parked my car. I didn’t even actually make it down to the beach, a hot spot for surfers — if you ever want to surf in the Atlantic. [Brrr.]

It’s no wonder Keephouse’s work looks and feels the way it does.

I “come from away” and I have gathered in the last four-and-a-half years living here that Nova Scotians are at the root a no-frills kind of people. The harshness and unpredictability of the weather leaves little room for frivolity. This is backed up by some research I gathered before designing this quilt: “The early quilts of Nova Scotia do not reflect the elaborate taste of sections of the eastern United States — they are more like what the people call ‘common quilts,’ practical, economical, and warm. […] Even though the quilts were utilitarian, they were planned with a good eye for colour and arrangement.”1

To capture the essence of the East Coast, we chose Keephouse’s Houses and Rows (inspired by vegetation rows in a garden or crop field) designs to represent land. Navy and gold were the colours that I had in mind, and with Alissa’s suggestion of hand-dyed goldenrod, it seemed like a good fit. I love navy as a warm neutral, and with the storminess of the sea as a prominent feature of the Maritime landscape, it was an appropriate background colour.

An important part of my process is testing. For this step, Alissa and I decided on trivets – an 8” x 8” block that I would design, produce a limited number, and then the design would be integrated into the larger quilt at a later time. The block features skinny 1” strips (measuring 1/2” finished) as the coastline, defining a border between the “land” and the “sea.” Having both the land and sea on the trivet allowed me to practise my free-motion quilting skills, which I picked up from my very gifted guild-mate Linda Coolen Smith in May.

In the larger piece, the “land” is made up of traditional blocks, turned on point as many Nova Scotian quilters used to do. To add tactile texture and weight, I used Essex Yard-dyed Linen in Indigo, which tied in some of the white ink that Alissa often uses. The blocks are “Tulips” and “Storm of the Sea,” pulled from a couple of books on Nova Scotia quilts — there are only a two or three books on this topic in the Halifax Central Library and available for consultation only. (Who doesn’t want to spend some time at the library, designed by Schmidt Hammer Larsen with Fowler Bauld & Mitchell?) The blocks vary in scale, with omissions and crops. The coastline, made up of the block, is broken and pushes outward as the sea tries to encroach on the land. The irregular border where the land and sea meet required countless partial seams. Free motion quilting over a regular grid represents ocean currents and the dynamism of the sea. The composition of the quilt mimics the province’s southern shore on the map, coastline with vast Atlantic to its southeast.

This quilt will be on display in Savannah, Georgia at Quilt Con 2017 from February 23-26, 2017.

1 Houck, Carter. Nova Scotia Patchwork Patterns. 1981.

Photo: Naomi Hill

Pre-Shrunk 2017: Argyle Fine Art

Entitled “Soft Cut”, this little 4” x 5” piece is on exhibit at Argyle Fine Art in downtown Halifax from January 20 to Feb 11, 2017. Over 300 works are in this annual curated show, now in its 11th year. The submission called for works from both established and emerging artists. Although I am not sure about how I feel about any of those words describing me – “established” or “emerging,” “artist” – I was happy to respond to the call. I had some experimenting I wanted to do, and this was a great opportunity. All pieces are for sale, all for the same price and can be shipped worldwide.

Continue reading