Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Canadian Sampler Start

Last year I was invited to participate in a very exciting and patriotic project organized by the clever people at Sew Sisters, a long time partner here at Poppyprint. Having been born in the summer of Canada's Centennial year, it has always been easy to keep track of my milestone birthdays because there's typically a national event around every biggie.  So you can easily guess the whopper of a birthday I'm celebrating this summer!

The Canadian Sampler celebrating Canada's 150th birthday is 100% Canadian designed (by designers from coast to coast) and administered by the folks at Sew Sisters*. You can still sign up! While not generally keen on BOM's or sewalongs because I always lose interest before completing these projects, I have the extra incentive of always wanting to make a red and white quilt. At first I considered going all scrappy red, but most of my stash leans towards orangey reds. Instead, I chose Karen Lewis' Flowerbed print (on gorgeous "Chinese Red") from her first line of commercially screened Kona. The unique block designs don't scream Traditional Sampler to me. I like it.  I'm making it.

Here's the first block, designed by Daphne Greig. It is called Pacific Stars.  The beginning of this work coincides with a short lecture I'm preparing at the request of the VMQG board on the importance of accuracy. As I mentioned on IG the other day, sometimes it feels good to try hard (after a lot of improv work!).

The Canadian Sampler blocks from

The Canadian Sampler blocks from
One of the tips I'll be sharing is to piece with geese points on top, to ensure you don't cut off your points with the seam. You can see on the left white point, my seam fell just outside the point (yay) and on the red point, my seam fell exactly on top of the point (which will require a good press). Both worked to preserve the point.

The second block designed by Sandy is so cute. A very appropriate element of the Canadian winter uniform, the toque! We've been wearing way more toques than ball caps out here on the west coast this winter. People are so tired of the snow, but not me. I find it much easier to get through this time of year when the ground is white and the air is crisp. I love snow and always will.

The Canadian Sampler blocks from

I'm not sure what month will feature my block design, but I'm looking forward to it because I've designed a very cool quilt with it that I'm eager to share. 

*I would like everyone to know that Sew Sisters very fairly compensated all of the designers who worked on this quilt, which is much appreciated in this industry that constantly asks designers to work for free.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Another Quarter Round Variation

A dude friend recently dropped a hint that his new grey couch needed some colour and perhaps that colour was green. I did up this variation on the Quarter Round block and I think this will become his new pillow!  I'm teaching this block (or the whole Round Peg, Square Hole quilt) at a few workshops in the coming months, but my quilt is currently en route to QuiltCon, so I need some more samples anyway. Win-win!

I'm replacing the starting square with a half square triangle to form the centre pinwheel.

You can design your own variation using the colouring sheet in my pattern - visit my Craftsy pattern store (link in upper right side bar) for your instant .pdf download!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Open To Interpretation

So, I am still having a great time playing with my Speed Date with Improv workshop samples. After debuting this new class with the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild before Christmas, I came home with more demo pieces that I played with on my design wall over the holidays. This is what I came up with.

Improv Untitled by Poppyprint

Improv Untitled, 31" x 36"

One of my students, VMQG member Jaydeen, pieced her improv collage, then surrounded it with a lot of negative space to make it into a gorgeous lap quilt for a friend. After seeing her quilt, I thought about playing with borders for these pieces, so that the improv elements could float in a background of white, black, or the 'free colour'.  

I'm excited about the possibilities this brings up for the viewer. When I posted photos in instagram, one person commented that if she turned the composition, she saw a locomotive. Another person saw the shape in the lower right as a pendulum that had knocked all of the other pieces askew. That's so cool. It is exciting to think that every person seeing the quilt can interpret it in their own way.  The expansive background gives the improv shapes more room, opening them up to imaginative possibilities.  The magic of negative space.

Improv Untitled by Poppyprint

See the pendulum? A wrecking ball? Chemistry lab glassware? A little black house or a blue arrow?

I'm teaching this class in Nanaimo in late February, in PEI and NS in May and in Ottawa in September. I know that every time I teach it I will learn more from my fellow quilters and each composition will tell a new story. When creating my first quilt with these techniques, jigsawing the improv elements together, I thought about the wooden blocks my son and daughter used to play with - you know the standard ones that have squares, rectangles, half circles, cylinders and little "bridges"(rectangles with the 1/2 circle arc cut out). I'm sure many of you have seen these blocks, or even built towns with them yourselves!

Improv Untitled by Poppyprint


All of this improv play has really ignited my creativity but unfortunately, I'm sort of overwhelmed with ideas at the moment. I'm making sketches so that I don't lose any of the sparks. I just have to focus and start on something. My teaching/travel schedule is packed for the coming months (so exciting!), so there won't be tons of time for big projects.  Manageable improv to the rescue!

Improv Untitled by Poppyprint

One permission I've given myself is to not obsess over quilting these compositions. I think that the 'wonky waffle' improv grid really works well without overwhelming the piecing. I mark the lines with a hera marker and then quilt them with my walking foot and a 4.0 stitch length. The quilting goes quickly and the piece is done. Result. My previous two were faced, but I bound this one with black.

You can tell with these photos that balancing colour in our winter light is a challenge for me. This minty blue proved difficult!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Poppyprint Knits!

When I went down to Seattle to shoot the photos for my book Make It, Take It, I needed some pretty knitting needles to show off Kristie's Knitwit Needle Clutch project. All of the interchangeable cable sets that my friends had were clear cables with white needles that wouldn't show up against the low volume print fabric inside the clutch. Thanks to the generous people at KnitPicks, I was sent this beautiful set of their interchangable circular needles to use as a prop and then keep! Lucky me!

Image result for martingale make it take it

Knowing how much people love these needles, I figured I should at least try knitting something with them. Last spring while visiting a friend in Victoria, we went to a sweet neighbourhood knitting shop called Knotty by Nature. While there, I chose two skeins of Malabrigo Rios in a gorgeous deep blue along with a copy of the free Boneyard Shawl pattern by Stephen West on Ravelry. The helpful man-knitter working in the shop that day convinced me that if I could knit and purl, then I could knit this shawl. My mom taught me to knit when I was a teenager, but since then the only thing that I'd made was a set of simple beanies for me and my family for Christmas 2014. I am definitely a novice.

I made this coral one for my sister.

It wasn't until Thanksgiving weekend in October that I finally consulted YouTube for a cast-on video and got started. Well, I actually got started about 5 times because I just couldn't tell if what I was doing was correct. Right off the bat, I had to learn what M1R and M1L meant (that's "make one right and left" for you non-knitters). Once I got the hang of the pattern things went very quickly for me and I really enjoyed the process. I could actually sit with my family in the evenings and knit (I can't do that with my sewing machine).  The hardest part for me was remembering to count my rows and inserting the purl row that makes the ridges.

Boneyard shawl by poppyprint
This is mine and I so love it! Malabrigo Rios (I don't know the colourway). I'm mostly wearing it with the "V" in front and the ends wrapped around my neck over my shoulders, like a scarf.

My first shawl was such a success, that in true Krista fashion, I decided that my sister and 3 SIL's would all get one for Christmas.  I did it! I knit 5 shawls (plus a bonus one that I donated to the Christmas Bureau) before December 22. Yay! There is a freedom and total lack of stress knitting something that doesn't have to actually fit anyone.

Boneyard shawl by poppyprint
This is the Malabrigo Rios in Lettuce

I won't go so far as to call myself a knitter, but I think there will be more projects in future.  There are so many great free patterns and although I never thought I'd be a shawl wearer, our much colder than normal winter has me thinking I could use another.  Perhaps I'll even venture out to an easy lace pattern.  Knitting holes on purpose has appeal.

One think is for sure: I'm going to promise not to collect yarn. I have zero storage space and simply cannot allow myself to stash yarn like I do fabric. I repeat: NO STASHING YARN.

I'll let you know how that goes.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Nerdy 9-Patch

Here's a quick little post about my The 9-Patch Equation quilt I made for an APQ-sponsored QuiltCon2017 challenge. The quilt wasn't selected for the show, but I had fun making it!

3/4" 9-patch by Poppyprint

My idea was to piece the smallest 9-patch possible by machine (it finishes at 3/4", so each of the 9 patches is finished at 1/4"). That 9-patch would form the middle square of the next 9-patch, which would form the middle square of the next 9-patch and so on. When I have an idea, I like to just start making instead of obsessing over detailed sketches...and sometimes this approach leads me to the conclusion that a sketch and calculations might have actually helped in the beginning ; )

9-Patch Equation by Poppyprint

The 9-Patch Equation by Poppyprint

The 9-patches got pretty boring, pretty fast. Once the middle block reached about 8" square, the large fields of black and white just didn't serve the composition. I cut down the inner blocks to make them asymmetrical, so the final quilt is still nine 9-patches each with increasingly smaller 9-patch centres. There's math in here somewhere.

The 9-Patch Equation by Poppyprint
Straight-line quilted with Auriful 40wt. The backing is a large-scale Lotte Jansdotter print, binding is the perfect black and white + print from Cotton & Steel and I used white cotton blend batting.

The final dimensions of this little quilt are 34" x 42". As soon as I got the word that it wasn't going to be in the show, I put it up for sale for $300 on IG (still available!), thinking this would be the ultimate baby quilt to gift some Big Bang-loving, math-nerd new parents. Babies are very visually stimulated by the stark contrast of black and white! Do you know someone who'd love The 9-Patch Equation? Let me know!

In happy news, both my Round Peg, Square Hole and Ice Road quilts were juried into the show, so they will be winging their way to Savannah, GA in the new year. I won't be accompanying them due to so much other travel in 2017, but I am very excited to share these quilts with QuiltCon2017 show-goers and I thank the jury for the opportunity.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Improv Christmas Pillows

First things first: WE HAVE SNOW!!!! Happy dance.


Over the past two + years I've been making these little improv trees with samples of Improv Under the Influence piecing from my workshops. After demonstrating the technique to students using these beautiful Oakshott fabrics (leftover from my Chess on the Steps quilt), I would then piece sections into little trees with an Essex linen background. It was a great way to show people alternate ideas for the piecing.  I'd been contemplating a modern table runner, but settled on pillows instead. I finally pieced the tops together at one of my recent day retreats.

improv Christmas pillows by Poppyprint

The compositions needed a little something, so I added the tiny wonky stars, which are so much fun to make. Both pillows are totally reversible, each with a strip of improv piecing on the back. I tackled invisible zips for the first time after finally finding my special invisible zipper foot (if any of you have a newer Pfaff, you'll know that this clear plexiglass foot is itself pretty invisible in whatever container you store it in!). I typically bind my pillows, but I think I'm a convert now. It was super easy! There are plenty of tutorials online, but I like Katie's succinct one here.

improv Christmas pillows by Poppyprint

The pillow tops and backs were squared to 20" and backed with fusible fleece (no fabric backing or lining in these pillows). I quilted the fronts with straight vertical lines about 1/4" inch apart using coordinating 40 wt. Aurifil thread in green and red. The backings are quilted with lines 1" apart in the Essex and 1/4" apart in the improv strips.

improv Christmas pillows by Poppyprint
(I've just gotta say, taking photos in winter here is so hard. It's either light-sucking grey overcast or brilliant sunshine and shadows!)

Most of my handmade Christmas decorations in the living room are 12 or more years old and tend towards folksy designs that were popular in the shop I was working in at that time. I'm loving this modern update, although the pillows are bit incongruous with our 100 year old cottage!

I hope you are enjoying your holiday gift-making, decorating and baking. I've seriously cut back on baking the last couple of years and I must say, it is incredibly liberating. I'd much rather sew gifts. I think I have the only family that left cookie exchange bounty untouched on the kitchen counter for weeks! My mom kindly sends our Christmas dessert of plum pudding, so I'm even off the hook for that.

If I don't make it back here before the 25th, Merry Christmas and happy  holidays to all of you! Thanks for another year of hanging out with me here at Poppyprint. xoxoxox

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Traveller's Tote

A wonderful friend who loves to travel just celebrated a milestone birthday and I had the perfect fabric to make her a gift. If you've been following along here for any length of time, you already know that I make a ton of bags. There are many great patterns available on the web and I've tried lots of them (Anna's are my favourite).  I designed and made myself a tote for my trip to Toronto last June  and I ended up using it as my purse all summer.  I wanted something uncomplicated, quick to make and I wanted to rivet leather straps to the bag after having so much fun with leather projects from Krista's book Beyond Cotton.  It was just perfect for me and luckily I sketched out the dimensions and made note of the pattern-piece sizes when I made it so that I could recreate it for my friend.

Tote by Poppyprint

It's a basic, generous tote bag with all of my favourite features learned by making so many different bags: gusseted bottom corners, an external zip pocket, interior slot pocket, key fob and veg-dyed leather straps (that will darken naturally as the leather gets a tan). The top cotton/linen canvas is by Rifle Paper Co. for Cotton & Steel and the bottom portion is waxed sailcloth purchased from Drygoods Design in Seattle (I haven't found a local source).

Tote by Poppyprint
I love to line my pockets with a fun surprise fabric; in this case Lizzy House mini charm bracelets.

Tote by Poppyprint
The key fob sits right above the slot pocket, so keys can rest in the pocket and not pull down on the top of the tote. There's also a magnetic snap closure at the top of the bag.

Tote by Poppyprint
I buy my leather locally at Lonsdale Leather in Vancouver. 

Tote by Poppyprint
Here's the 'back' side.

I lined the cotton canvas and lining fabric with lightweight woven fusible interfacing. You can't iron on the waxed sailcloth, so there's no interfacing on the back of it. I like a floppier tote, so this amount of interfacing is perfect for me. The waxed canvas is easy to wipe clean and is very durable.

I'll definitely return to this design. I certainly have enough cotton/linen/canvas fabric that is perfect for bags!