Hey there fellow creators! 

Quilt Market has come and gone but before it's too late, I wanted to take a moment to recount some of the coolest /most surprising things about it. I for one, knew almost nothing about Quilt Market going in and would have loved a blog post to read telling me what I expect. 

For instance, it would have been lovely to know that you're on your feet the entire day walking the booths and meeting absolutely everyone you've ever heard of in the industry, with next to zero seating, so sensible yet stylish flats are a must. 

So I'll give myself a little "interview" for easy reading purposes and hopefully I can shed some light on the awe-inspiring, magical, and at times, overwhelming experience that is Quilt Market. Buckle up. 

What was most surprising about Quilt Market?

Absolutely everyone is there! All of those "sewlebrities" that we idolize behind a screen or sewing machine are there in all their glory. But what's more surprising is how approachable and regular they really are! Julia and I expected to see halos around these creative, influential women. Not so. Rather, they were surrounded by crowds of adoring fans.

But this didn't seem to make them any less approachable and friendly. I was ultra impressed by Natalie Malan's kind demeanour and Anna Maria Horner's gentle spirit. They all just felt like friends and people that you'd totally hang out with. And we feel like we're on a new level with Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal, who saved the Schoolhouse day and set the tone for the entire weekend. We are eternally grateful to them.What is Schoolhouse like?

This was the thing that rattled me the most about going to Quilt Market. I can put on a brave face meeting new people one on one and introducing my collection when needed, but standing up in front of a crowd of experts, having 30 minutes to sell what you've got is super intimidating. Thankfully, as I mentioned, Leslie and Jamie saved the day. They presented right before us and we totally helped each other out, which set the tone of comradery and togetherness. Schoolhouse happens the day before Quilt Market begins. The day is organized into 30 minutes lectures where designers that are at Quilt Market present their new collection and patterns, and answer questions... or if you're Tula Pink, make everyone laugh hysterically and idolize you. What a natural performer, that one. It's less formal than we imagined and fun to listen to the designer's process. Every schoolhouse is presented differently and every schoolhouse is great!

What was Sample Spree like?

Chaos. Pure chaos. First of all, just to get in is a struggle. We saw pictures of the crowd waiting to get in and it looked like US Black Friday at Walmart. Nuts. We showed up 10 minutes after sample spree had officially begun and no one was at the door anymore. Those crazy ladies were already surrounding tables and throwing money at vendors. We rushed up to the Cotton+Steel table to get a fat quarter bundle of Amalfi by Rifle Paper Co. and it was sold out. 10 minutes in! And apparently we heard from many that this year's Sample Spree was nothing compared to past years. Yikes. Cotton+Steel were putting on their jackets and leaving 25 minutes after it had opened because they were entirely sold out. Superstars.

What was your favourite part about Quilt Market?

Besides Phoenicia's you mean? Ok, seriously though people. Right around the corner from the convention centre in Houston is a "Sepcialty Foods" grocery store called Phoenicia's and it is THE place to be. SUCH amazing panini and salads and homemade foods. And little known fact: after 7pm, their pastries are $1!!!! Face-sized cinnamon buns, turnovers, danishes, just $1. That was our evening tradition. After a long day of schmoozing, we'd get an apricot turnover and call it a day. Heaven. 

So OTHER than the food (which was amazing EVEYWHERE we went), my favourite part about Quilt Market was making "sew" many new friends and cool connections in the industry. Lo and behold, the thing that I thought I'd hate the most, the networking and forced interactions, was the best part! These women are amazing. They're smart and successful; moreover they're kind and genuine, and just the sort of people you want to be working with and alongside. They couldn't have been more helpful and friendly to a couple of newbies from Canada and we loved every minute.

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!