Friday, October 15, 2010


Jacob's Ladder - jewelbox variation
Before we get down to the nitty gritty of my surefire accurate, neverfail HST's I want to tease your eye with a few more HST beauties. Please accept my apologies for the poor quality of this picture - it was taken while
I was still using a first generation digital, and colour trueness wasn't its strong point! This is a quilt I made for a lady in Washington state using scraps and fat quarters.

Set Sail 36x46 inches - shop model from a kit
I chose to show you this one because one of the first quilts I ever made for sale, entitled "Ship of Dreams" was a red, white, navy and ochre variation on this one, and at the moment I can't find a picture of it. I must hunt through my pre-digital albums and do some scanning.

Janet's Indigo Basket

Ah! Much better! One thing I've learned is to photograph quilts outdoors for best colour results. This is my Indigo Baskets quilt which, although it doesn't strike you immediately, is basically a half square triangle quilt on point, with appliqued basket handles. A great quilt with very little effort. It was so much fun that there is another in the works. I'll bring it out later in a tutorial I think.


TODAY (right now!) I want you to get out your quarter inch grid paper or your gridded template plastic, or promise to be really really accurate if you don't have either. Find your mechanical pencil or your fineline permanent marker. We're ready to start.
 SIZE: We will be making templates for HST's to finish at 2, 3, 4,5.and 6 inches and maybe 7 inches too - why not go for all of them - I think I will. And the reason I will is that long ago I learned the lesson of scale being essential to a quilt's size.
For example, if I am going to make a baby quilt, which I tend to size at 42x54 or 42x60, I am not going to make it from large blocks - I am going to size my blocks at less than 6 inches square. For a lap quilt which I size at 60x60 most of the time, we can go for perhaps 8 inches square; and for a double queen, I usually stop at around 10. I am currently working on a 96 inch square pictorial applique and have stretched the rule to multiples of 12. If you make a lot of doll sized quilts, you can settle for blocks that are no more than 2 inches square.
MAKE YOUR TEMPLATES: in order to be able to build in complete accuracy you will make your template fininshed size + 2inches on each side.
For example, your 2 inch finished size will yield a template of 6 square inches.
inches cut template at 6 inches
3 inches cut template at 7 inches
4 inches cut template at 8 inches
and so on......
Make at least the templates listed above for starters. If you make larger ones, try taping the template plastic together as the gridded plastic doesn't come that wide.
When cutting on the gridded line, try to cut very straight and right through the inner edge of the line to allow for greater accuracy, as a pencil width mark will take up some room.
Now you are ready to cut out your squares!!!
Now either mark all your light coloured fabric using a mechanical pencil on the wrong side, or mark all your dark fabric on the wrong side using a piece of white tailor's chalk or a white chalk pencil. Make sure you keep the chalk or chalk pencil's tip sharp so as to mark a thin line.
You can vary the sizes or make a supply all the same size - it's up to you.
 BEFORE YOU CUT OUT YOUR BLOCKS: carefully mark a diagonal line from opposite corners. Then mark another diagonal line on each side of this one and in a quarter of an inch, using whichever marker you used before.
Now you can cut out the marked squares. Then you will lay them right sides facing, on top of the other fabrics (either lighter or darker) that you chose.

TOMORROW:we'll sew a few HST's together and take a picture or two!

See you then!!

EDIT!!!!!!! And the winner is.........
number 9 generated by
and that is....marie in oregon!!! who left me her email addy - I need you to contact me, marie, with your snail mail addy
and you'll have your lavender sachets before you know it!

AND!!!!!!  I did say I would award a second giveaway prize if the entries reached 125. Now they only reached 122, but that didn't stop me - gotta love!!
MY SECOND WINNER IS.........Teresa (Westherbee ;) of Renton, Washington who has just started a blog.
Both gals should contact me with their mailing addresses and I'll get those lavender sachets on the way out to you on the west coast the first of the week.

Make a note of my sister site's URL -  vintage handmade household linens - because I'll be announcing a giveaway over there next week

Thursday, October 14, 2010


                                       Janie's  19thc Churndash 2009

I just spent a half hour going through my saved images of quilts I have made and other quilts I would like to make.... I'm amazed at how many of them involve half square triangles and what a huge variety of quilts the lowly half square triangle can support.

TOMORROW we will start to work on making ourselves a supply of hst's to start quilt designing and quiltmaking with, so look out your favourite ruler, a permanent marker fineline  and some ruled template plastic or some quarter inch grid paper. That's available in pad form three hole or not, at Staples/Office Depot. Don't forget your utility scissors - cutting plastic is no good for your good dressmaker's shears - this is the time for the 'el cheapo' scissors!

TODAY your exercise is to go through your source of pictures, patterns, magazines and so on and bookmark quilts that pique your interest. If like me, you do this on your computer; it is easy to set up a file for the exercises you will be doing. If you work better with real paper, books, patterns and magazines, perhaps a clearly marked project box is called for. I often use the clear page protectors and keep my favourites in a three ring binder that can be put on the bookshelf with other books and doesn't add to the clutter.

Next go through your fabric stash and simply pick appealing fabrics at random or with a plan in mind. You can choose bits and pieces and ends or for a more unified effect choose a couple of pieces of yardage. Just make sure you choose some light and some dark, as contrast is part of what makes hst's so appealing.

                                             A MARCUS BROTHERS FREEBIE

As my major goal in any teaching I do is to empower quiltmaker's colour sense and designing skills you will notice I am leaving a lot of choices up to you - if you feel you aren't yet ready for this sort of independence, then just pop in a comment describing your current needs and I will address them either here in the blog or privately if you wish.
TODAY's major goal is to help you develop your ability to choose how you wish to go about the project - scrappy or colour co-ordinated? traditional or wild fresh colours? tone on tone or solids? batiks? Your stash will tell you a lot about your preferences as soon as you look through it. I know mine is short on the warm end of the spectrum (yellows. oranges and reds) and almost entirely lacking in brights and the more modern "retro" prints from the 50's and 60's which are popular right now - I'm trying to leave my comfort zone and try out some of these!
The above quilt top and blocks will look entirely different according to whether you decide to hang them on point or butt them  together in a straight set and with or without sashing and setting triangles, so start playing with your graph paper sketch pad and maybe even use some crayon or coloured pencils - I keep on hand an old set of both that my now 18 year old grandson abandoned here years ago when something better arrived under the tree - works for me! You may already be into electric quilt software and have the 2010 Stash software for all I know!
I want you to develop your colour and design sense to the point where you don't need these aids, but you need lots of practice before you get to the point where you can dispense with the preliminaries.

Spend the next day or so looking at as many quilts as you can - perhaps pulling the ones you choose together by printing off copies or just scanning and filing them together.

I'm interested to hear your comments after you've done that.
Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I want you to start thinking outside the box that most of us 21st century quilters inhabit. This box has been made to look cushy and creative, but really is more about selling product than it is about creativity. I have nothing against any of the current trends but am concerned that when adopted quickly by beginning quilters these trends can stifle their creativity and lead them to believe that complex is difficult and fast is best.

Quilter unknown - not mine!!! Definitely lovely
Basically my feeling is that the more gizmos and machines you add to the quiltmaking mix, the farther away you get from the ability to see your quilt develop and make changes and improvements as you go along. I think most artists will tell you that is the creative process itself that is so essential to them, not the end product and personally I find that the less that is between me and the process of making a quilt, the happier I am and the more successful I am.
I want you to do this exercise TODAY: think about it first. Imagine you are going away to an isolated spot where you will spend an extended holiday - no shops and no internet although you can bring along a laptop with your notes and files.
You can bring only your basic quilting supplies - good dressmaker's shears, utility scissors, needles, thread and marking devices (mechanical pencil, chalk pencil, tailor's chalk and powdered chalk in a holder with wheel. You will be allowed to bring with you a selection of fabric cut into squares, rectangles and half square triangles and you can bring a bit of yardage too if you wish. And for patterns you will have some rough schematic drawings and some plain lined and unlined paper along with a favourite ruler and some template plastic, gridded and plain.
You will have to do lots of homework before you set off, so come along with me over the next couple of weeks and see what that will entail and what you may learn!!
See you soon!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What's New?

My goodness! What isn't new? This is a catch-up post and I'm going to flit here and there to bring folks up to date.
QUILTS AT THE HARBOUR:What a weekend that was - catching up with old friends and meeting new ones while hosting an event which has become an annual must-do for local quilt lovers, and always a few tourists doing some early leaf-peeping come along too.
We had our most successful show so far with 4 major quilts sold and over $700 raised for the church as well. To this tiny community, that amount is remarkable and I want to thank all the people, exhibitors and visitors plus faithful volunteers (in particulart, Richard, Joanne, Kathryn and Grace) who are there for us each year. Word has spread too, about the quilters' gently used table and things sold so well that Saturday night I had to go home and raid my fabric stash for more items as the table was so badly picked over!!! I'm looking forward to next year already!!!

FALL INTO FALL GIVEAWAY BLOG HOP: Debi is hosting this blog hop at: if you haven't already been "hopping", hop on over and check it out - she has signed up over 150 blogs; each one of us is giving some lovely item(s) away if you sign up before October 15th, so there is still plenty of time to do some hopping. I'm thrilled at the number of people who have visited my blog to sign up for the set of three handmade lavender sachets that I am offering and if I reach 125, which is my goal, I will be adding a second prize of three more sachets. I've found so many new-to-me blogs that I want to follow that I know my winter will be a busy one!! Keep an eye on my blogroll for new additions. And thank you to the additional followers I have noticed signing up!

On the home front I'm plugging away at clearing all the summer accumulation out of my back porch so I can store my winter supply of wood under cover for those days when the wind blows hard and the snow falls deep. Slow work as I have two large and two smaller projects on the go for patient customers and those need to take priority. However, today I lit the stove for the first time this year and the warmth is lovely! Nothing beats heating with wood for surrounding you with  cosy comfort. And as they say, it warms you twice: while stacking and lugging, and while sitting cosy by the stove with a cup of coffee and some handwork.

And finally: QUILTING WITH JANET: GETTING STARTED: I haven't forgotten my promise to so many people that I will begin a programme of tips and projects and essays designed to help newbies with their biggest puzzles - I have talked to several other new and not so new quilters who are puzzled by such things as getting your corners to meet up, quilting across spots where several seams come together and things like choice of patterns and colours.
I'm debating starting with all the things you can do with half square triangles - see above! I have located some papers, workshops and lesson plans and will be adding content to the pages you see listed at the side of my blog. If you decide to become a follower, I will give you a heads-up when new content appears on those pages.

Now I really must make myself a hot turkey sandwich and while the gravy is heating up I will lug in  more wood.
See you all later.
Hugs, and warm wishes for a happy Canadian Thanksgiving