Botanica Quilt

To those who are visiting our blog for the first time, welcome!!! I'm Julia! I'm a mom to 2 girls and 2 boys, married, and love living close to the Atlantic Ocean. My sister-in-law and I are the makers of Briar Hill Designs. We're having a blast working together! We share all about our quilting and art on Instagram at @briarhilldesigns, on Facebook and here on our Blog. 

So, here she is! My quilt for the What Shade Are You Blog Hop! I'm quite in love with Cotton Supreme Solids, and since I couldn't say "I'll take 'em all!" I delightedly settled on this palette of beauties!

Here's the list of Cotton Supreme Solids I used:
- Glow in the Dark
- Bowood Green
- Martini Olive
- Pea in a Pod
- Peridot
- Hydrangea
- Opera Mauve
- Marvelous
- Cloud 9
- Periwinkle
- Lancaster Sky
- Hyacinth
- Amethyst
- Feelin' Blue
- Jacaranda
- Purple Haze
- Verbena
- Jean Jacket
- Celeste
- Tourmaline
- Banana Cream
- Harlequin
- Citrus
- Citron
- Custard
- Linen White
- Lemon Chiffon
For the background I chose Swan. It's the perfect not-quite-white, and I'm ordering a bolt of it next week, I like it that much.

Sewing has always been a great interest of mine, though my love for quilting came quite a bit later. I sewed decor for my dollhouse as a kid, then clothing for myself and friends as a teen. I studied all-things-sewing at University including pattern making, tailoring, and reproducing period clothing. I then moved on to making wedding gowns, theatre costuming, and alterations until we had children. Sewing then changed to sundresses and stuffed animals. I even opted to make my kids duvet covers instead of quilts! I'm embarrassed and a little mad at myself that it took me so long to give quilting a go! My first taste of quilt making, and I was hooked! I followed a pattern for my first two quilts, and every one since then has been my design.

Design inspiration can come from many different venues. For this one, I set up some criteria, and came up with the design for this block from there:

·I wanted to design a quilt that could show off the soft and gentle side of working with solids.
·It needed to be a block that could be successful for many levels of quilter, while also teaching skills.
·I designed this pattern in the dreariest, slushiest, bone chilling cold of grey Nova Scotian winters (now you really want to visit, right?!) so I also made a requirement that this design needed to help me think happy thoughts of warmer weather. So this was nicknamed "The Happy Quilt" until I chose to name her Botanica.

I designed the blocks in EQ7, then made tweaks to the curves to fit the Circle Cut Ruler by EZ Quilting. Curved piecing, and what I call true-up templates help the blocks come together with ease.

Making Botanica with these warm purples, soft yellows and spring blues was made especially enjoyable because I could also choose mini palettes for individual blooms. Seriously, the 49 blocks in this quilt were not enough to play out all the dreamy colour grouping potential!
Blocks are 12" and set in a half-drop layout. They're also rotated so the leaves point every which way, which adds to the organic look of the quilt.

Backing is Cotton + Steel's Checkers in Sky. Their gingham is a favourite of mine! This is the third time I've used one of the gingham weaves as a backing. I've used ½", 1" and their 2½" checkers and they all look great.  As a bonus, it's a little wider than most quilting cottons at 50" so I could piece the back of this 84" quilt in two pieces instead of three.
I thought long and hard about how to have it quilted. In the end I chose a favourite loopy edge-to-edge, that Violet Quilts and I built together.
Batting is Hobbs Heirloom Premium Wool, and the scrappy binding was made with a selection of pastel tinted solids in the bundle.
I'm so pleased with how it turned out in these gorgeous colours! For a chance to win your own botanical bundle of fabrics, follow @briarhilldesigns, and @rjrfabrics, and tag a friend on the giveaway post! While you're here, and if you are on your home computer, you can subscribe from the home page of the blog. We'd love to share our creative adventures with you as well as send some freebies your way every once in awhile!  See you around!  

New Spring Quilt Pattern

 So far, I'm able to call myself a quilt finisher. I usually work on about four quilts at a time in different parts of the process, but they do all get done. And I don't start many more projects before one has been completed. I like it this way! It keeps my to-do list short, or at least, not too overwhelmingly long!  ;)

This winter, facing snowstorm after snowstorm, I was desperate for the thought of spring. A quilt idea suddenly took shape in my mind, I designed it and within a very short couple hours, I was testing out the block. I had a few other deadlines looming, but I thought a little spring would do me good, and it has!

I designed this quilt to use 2 1/2 inch squares in the tulip patchwork
The pattern includes amounts needed if you would like to use 2 1/2 inch pieces from your stash, and also how many you'll need of other precuts.  So, whether this will be a scrapbuster, or cut from precuts Or yardage, I've got ya covered!

For this quilt, I used Lecien's antique flowers in pastel, and added a few pieces from Brenda riddles line, Guernsey.

I fell in love with these sweet florals, and his new they would look so Spring-y with this pattern. I deliberated over what colour background to use, but I'm happy I chose the cream background. I find it softens the entire quilt, and I'm quite certain I'll be using this delicate creamy white much more often.

These blocks go together so easily.  This is a great beginner quilt for someone who's ready to take on curves. The curves are very soft, so it's very easy to manage, and I have instructions in the pattern for everything you need to know about curved piecing: cutting curves, how to start sewing, easing the two curves together, pressing, and truing up.

All curved piecing comes with truing up templates, which ensure excellent blocks.

Every one of my pattern testers commented that the curved piecing went so much more successfully than they had expected! I love this! Isn't that what we all want to for our sewing projects? To have successful outcomes!  I'm so delighted that my pattern help them learn a new skill successfully!

The backing was pieced in a brick lay style with leftover pieces from the fat quarters, and a few extra prints that weren't on the front.

It's actually easy to figure out how many pieces you'll need!  I will prep a tutorial on how to do it!

I love how the front of the quilts is understated simplicity, and the back of the quilt is this huge saturation of colour!

I searched for way too long for pantograph that I thought would look sweet on the quilt.  In the end, I asked my quilter if we could design an edge to edge. She happily obliged and we came up with this sweet little thing! I love how it turned out, and I'll definitely use it again! Quilting was done by Sheri from Violet quilts.

My scrappy binding helped to use up lots of the last bits of fabric.  I barely have any fabric left, just the way I like it!

Country Clothesline has put together quilt kits for both the Crib and Throw sizes of the quilt using mostly the same bundle of fabrics I used for mine!  And, as always...

... the New Spring Quilt Pattern is available in our Etsy shop!

Best Dressed Mini Quilt

This is a quilt I want to make over and over and over again! It's made using 2 1/2 inch squares. I used mini charms, five packs of them, but you could easily do this with any pre-cuts, or do some serious scrap busting.

The pattern comes with paper templates, which I love!  I cut them out, then tape them to the backside of a ruler. I align the paper on the fabric and cut the edge. I can cut about four+ fabric pieces at a time!

The fabric collection I chose is called Hazelwood by One Canoe Two.  There's a huge variety of prints and colors, and I love how some bows make me think of hair bows, while others remind me of bowties. It makes me think of a little group of Sunday School kids in their finest.

The quilt comes together fast, using a great technique called 2D chain piecing! 

Free motion quilting is something I'd like to practice more at.  I'm alright at walking foot quilting, I'm very good at dropping my quilts off at Violet Quilts for her longarm service ;) , but my free motion quilting skills could use some work!  This was free motion quilted with coral cotton thread. Every circle was stitched individually, no traveling.

To mark the circles, I used the clover blue disappearing marker, and traced around the base of a small thimble, then stitched all the circles.  Using a spring loaded free-motion foot.

The blue marker comes out with water. I found the steam on my iron wasn't enough to do it, so I spritzed it with a spray bottle and the marks disappeared immediately.

This was my first time using this disappearing marker. I will not admit to how many other marketing tools I have tried and not jived with!  I like this one! Since I don't want to prewash my fabrics, I may want to make sure that it's a pretty light spritz of water, so that I don't make the colours bleed before their first wash,(which didn't happen, but I would like to be cautious of that when using this method again) but it really did work successfully!

I backed it with some dear Stella fabric, and used a happy bundle of leftovers from other projects for a scrappy binding, my usual! I cut my binding at 2 1/2". If I'm going to finish my binding with handstitching, I cut it at 2 1/4", but with machine bindings I find 2 1/2" makes the most successful finish.

This mini quilt measures out at 23" x 28".  Adding a 6" border around it would make a perfect baby quilt, measuring 35" x 40"

Pattern is available as a free download Thursday June 15th through Friday June 16th 2017 for subscribing to our blog!  It will also be available after that in our Etsy shop!

Pattern: Barn Doors

This quilt feels like home to me!  It's inspired a place that's close to my heart; the Annapolis Valley.  I grew up dreaming about time in the Annapolis Valley because that's where my grandparents lived; in the valley, in farm country on the ocean, with the highest tides in the world always going in and out.  The beach a short walk from my grandparents was one of my favourite places, and looked different every time I went.  We'd walk down stairs scaling a 50ft drop off to the beach, the cliffs eroded chips of red rock on to the beach every year.  At high tide the beach was only 20ft wide, but when the tide was out, the beach was easily a kilometre wide and filled with the softest mud. We would venture out in bare feet to the water's edge, then it would walk us back in.

The drive to my grandparent's home felt like forever, but it was a drive full with pretty views of pastures, saltwater rivers that emptied and filled with the tides, gardens, farmhouses, orchards and aged wood barns.

The blocks in this quilt all are all inspired by barn doors of the Annapolis Valley.  I love how these blocks work together!   Individually, the blocks have their own character; whereas together, angles or colours from one block are carried into another block which makes more character.  It's synergic!

The fabrics are from Vanessa Goertzen's line, Little Miss Sunshine.  So sweet, right?

For the sashing I'd planned to use an off-white or maybe a celery green, but I found these options separated the blocks, and I wanted something that would help one block flow into the next.  I chose a mint green, and it was surprisingly just right!

My longarmer, Sheri from Violet Quilts did the quilting with cream thread in a 3 1/2" orange peel.  Batting is Hobb's wool, and I used one of my favourites from the Little Miss Sunshine line to make an Invisible Pieced Backing.

I LOVE how the quilting turned out!  Something I hadn't anticipated was that the orange peel does a fantastic job of enhancing angles on the 45.  See how it creates beads on the angled parts of the block?  LOVE IT!

A scrappy binding finished it up better than I imagined!

What colours would you use on this quilt?

Pattern is available in our Shop!

Pattern: Train Station

Have you ever had a collection you just couldn't bear to cut into?  This happened to me with Bari J.'s line Spendor 1920.  These prints were just right as they were, and I didn't want to interfere with the beauty already going on.  That's how this pattern was designed!  I designed this quilt so all piece work was in the sashing and the cornerstones, and I was able to keep large squares of gorgeous fabric print.

 To this yummy fabric collection, I added some solids and some of Kaffe Fassett's shot cottons.

Sashing is made from a long strip set, and cornerstones are paper pieced, two skills that can help the quilter sew with confidence.   This pattern comes in three sizes:  full, throw and baby quilt!  
Next time I make this quilt I'm planning to use spring colours, and I'll use a small calico print where the navy is now.  What fabrics would you use?

Train Station Pattern, including step-by-step instructions, diagrams and a quilt colouring page to plan out colour placement is available in our Shop!

Pattern: Garden Lattice Quilt

What a fun quilt this was!  It is made using 2 1/2" strips!

Do you love the gingham backing?  It's Cotton + Steel's 1" gingham in Linen

For this quilt, I used a mix of steel blues, teal, misty blue, mint, and celery greens, with a bright white to contrast the analogous colour palette.

I'm already dreaming of the colour palette I'll make it in next time!  What colours would you make it in?

This pattern comes together so fast, so easily, and so forgivingly.  Rows are lined up by "centering" the pieces.  I finger pressed a crease in the centre of the different pieces on both rows, and pinned together the centre creases from the two rows.  Easy peasy! 

Wouldn't this make a great Jelly Roll Race quilt? 

This was quilted by the ever amazing Violet Quilts!  I emailed her a few pics of what I was looking for, and she created this loopy design for me!   It's quilted with pale blue thread.  I love how it turned out!

Pattern is available in our Shop!

Tutorial: Invisible Pieced Backing

Besides cutting out all my fabric pieces for the quilt top, this is my second favourite part of the quilting process - piecing the backing.  I like to match up the print on the fabric panels so the pattern is continuous and the seam almost disappears.  Making that seam almost invisible makes me feel like I have a superpower.  

There are two panels of fabric in these pics.  Do you see the seam in this pieced backing?

I’ve been piecing panels of fabric together like this since my first duvet cover at 18 years old, and since then, my method has improved some, and I’m going to show you how I do it!

Selecting your backing:  
Premium Quilting Cotton prints are usually about 42” wide, and since most quilts are quite a bit wider than that, you often need two panels, sometimes three, if your quilt is more than 72” wide.  

Let’s just say your quilt is 60” x 70”  Here’s how you regularly do the math:

The quilt is 60” wide, plus 10” extra width for the quilting process, so I’ll need 2 panels of fabric.
The quilt is 70” long, plus 10” extra length for the quilting process, equals 80”.
Multiply 80” x 2 panels:  I’ll need 160” of fabric.

This is great!  But, unless your print is a teeny gingham or stripe, it’s quite unlikely you’ll be able to make a backing that looks like one big sheet of fabric.

The magic of making this work is the Repeat.  The repeat measures the length of the print on the fabric before it repeats vertically.  That’s the technical way of saying the repeat is the distance between this cute flower and the identical cute flower.  Or this star and it’s identical twin.  It’s the length of the printed pattern before it repeats itself.

As far as premium quilting cottons go, most prints will have a vertical and horizontal repeat of 2”, 4”, 6”, 8”, 12” or 24” (intervals of 24 because the silk screens they use for printing are 24” x width of fabric).    Adding the repeat into your calculations will allow you to have all the fabric you need.

Here’s the backing for my Crystal & Gem quilt.

The repeat is 6”

Let’s do the same calculation above adding the math for the repeat.

The quilt is 60” wide, plus 10” extra width for the quilting process, so I’ll need 2 panels of fabric.
The quilt is 70” long, plus 10” extra length for the quilting process, equals 80”.
Is 80 a multiple of 6? (does 6 divide equally into 80?) no, so I’ll have to round it up to the next multiple which is 84  (6 x 14 = 84)
Multiply 84” x 2 panels + one extra repeat (6) :  I’ll need 174” of fabric.

If your fabric has a half drop, (meaning the fabric’s repeat tile doesn’t continue straight across the width of your fabric, but drops in every second repeat across the fabric), double the number of the repeat.  If that was the case with my fabric, my repeat would change from 6” to 12”.

Next, cut the length of your panel from your continuous 174” of fabric for backing.  Lay them side by side and give-or-take a couple inches, you should be able to find where, if you fold back the selvedge the pattern continues!  

On one panel, select a reference point about the size of the point of a pencil where you will fold back your selvedge edge.  I recommend being at least 1” away from the selvedge edge because the selvedge is often tighter than the weave of the rest of the bolt. Once you’ve selected your point, turn your fabric wrong side up on your ironing board, fold back and press your fabric to those reference points, you may find additional reference points emerge within your repeat.  Continue pressing down the length of your fabric.  

I said a little rhyme to myself as I went, “inside the loop, edge of the eye, inside of loop, edge of the eye.  NOTE:  It’s very natural to pull the fabric to get a straight line pressed into your fabric, but avoid doing this, because it will stretch the fabric and the repeats won't match as easily.  But if you do, with some steam, you can press the ease/stretch back into the fabric.  Iron a few inches away from the edge then slide the iron towards the folded edge.  This should put everything back in place again.

Continue pressing the fold all the way down the length of your fabric.

Trim the selvage off of the side of the panels that will be sewn together.   As I mentioned before, often the selvage is tighter than the rest of the fabric, so it's best to cut it off.  Trimming away 5/8" is often all that's necessary.

Now, you will need both panels of your fabric on the ironing board, right sides up.  Your panel with the pressed fold should be beside your second panel.  Your second panel will be longer than your first panel, and since your first panel is cut to the correct size, you can arrange your second panel however many inches above your first panel to match up the repeat.

(And if you don't know Sharon Schamber, get to know her through her you tube videos for starters!  She is an exceptional quilter!)

A tiny stream of this glue, heat pressed, holds the layers of fabric together until they are easily popped apart, or the quilt is washed.  

I've put my glue in a bottle with a teeny nozzle.

This is where we'll use the glue!  Now, there are plenty of fantastic water soluble fabric glues on the market. Sharon Schamber suggests this glue, and because I think she's amazing, I trust her.  This school glue is made with natural products, I guess in case some kid decides that they didn't have enough in their lunch, so if it's kid safe, it's fabric safe too. I’ve also seen this method using a fabric safe glue stick, too!

Working on the first  10" approximately, Place a small stream of glue on the underside of the folded edge, then place it directly over the print on the other panel, so that that pattern repeats perfectly horizontally and vertically.  You can shift things around a little, that won't keep the glue from holding once it’s heat set.  Once it is just right, a hot iron and steam will set the glue, then you can proceed to the next 10", and continue this process down the length of the quilt.  

Next, bring these panels to your sewing machine, using a matching thread and a stitch length of 2.0, sew these two panels together by stitching in the crease made when you folded back the edge on the first panel.   There may be a few places where the fold is glued closed and keeping you from getting into the crease.  Just pop the glue apart, and continue to stitch directly in the crease.

With your first panel being cut to length, your second panel will be a little longer at the top and bottom. Cut these to the same length as your first panel.

You're done!  And now you have this superpower too!

Admire you handiwork, (you're the best!) and imagine all the ways that this skill could be used in your sewing adventures!  Bags, Pockets, straight seams in clothing, or hiding the fact that you didn’t have enough of that fabric left to cut a pattern piece all in one piece… ;)

One more step for a happy backing is this!  Starch!  Whether you are quiting your quilt on a domestic machine or sending it to your longarmer, a well starched backing keeps the fabric from pouching, pinching, waving or warping.  I starch the right side of the fabric, leave it for 2 minutes for the starch to sink in to the fabric then press on the wrong side of the fabric.  I then repeat this same process by starching the wrong side of the fabric, then pressing on the right side.  

Especially if you are quilting on your domestic machine, you'll find this makes an improvement to the look of the back of your quilt!

When my Mom first taught me how to sew at 11, we made a loose fitted dress with a dropped waist, gathered skirt, and pockets on the sides.  She taught me that it was just as important for clothing to look good on the inside as well as outside and so we lined, it, and paid attention that the zipper and hem looked good inside and out.  I didn’t really think it mattered so much, but one day in grade six, I bought the dress to school to wear it for my small role in an Anne of Green Gables play.  My teachers heard that I had made the dress with my Mom.  I passed it to them and they oohed and aahed at the dress, and then, when they peeked inside, they were even more impressed, at all the finishing touches and I realized maybe my Mom was right.  

I think this applies to quilts too!  You expect that your quilt top will be a stunner!  But adding a stunning backing is not always expected, and piecing it to perfection can bring an even wider smile!  Which is why we quilt, right?  :)