Monday, March 6, 2017

Culcita (Kul-see-tah)

This is a product-sponsored post; written opinions and observations are my own.

There's a brand new monthly subscription box for quilters and it's called Culcita (which apparently comes from the Latin origin for the word 'quilt'). This new, dynamic company is a family venture born out of a desire to get the latest modern fabric designs into the hands of quilters by delivering it right to their door monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. I love that they have several different options so that you can tailor the service just for you (for example, every box will contain 12 prints but you get to choose a FQ or 1/2 yard option). It isn't just fabric, currently they offer a straight fabric box, modern quilt project kit , a skillz-builder box or a bag/accessory kit  like this one which includes everything you need to make Anna's awesome Compass Bag!

Bag Project Kits

Jessica and Jamie contacted me to see if I'd like to give their February box a try and see how it all works. I am a big supporter of women-lead small business and make an effort to only partner with those able to serve Canadian quilters.  Although Culcita ships from the US (domestic shipping included in the monthly subscription) they also offer Canadians a reasonable flat rate shipping option and the company is co-owned by family members living in the U.S. and Canada (meet them here). I love that! Having investigated a few other subscription box services since the trend began, I've been disappointed a few times by those who are unable to ship to Canada.

Here's what I received in their super-efficiently packed and custom designed  re-usable box:

Culcita box feb 2017

A handwritten thank you note, a card describing the fabric collection and why it was chosen for subscribers, two super cute woven labels, a quilting fortune and 12 FQ of Sleep Tight in the Stargazing palette. 

Culcita box feb2017

I like this format! I'm a notion junkie, so I already have everything I need in that department and I stick to fairly mainstream/neutral thread colours, so I like the fact that I wouldn't be paying for stuff every month that I wouldn't use or need. I can always use the fabric, or share, gift or trade it. On that note, Cucita offers a "trade" hashtag for subscribers to get in touch with each other if they're wishing for the alternate colourway and want to connect with others hoping for a swap. Cool! 

I'm hoping to use some of this collection to make a mini-mini quilt for an upcoming swap between the Vancouver MQG and the Ottawa MQG....something tells me my secret partner would like this fabric.  

Thank you for sharing, Culcita!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

1/4" Tune Up Test

The VMQG guild executive recently asked me to give a presentation on accuracy. Whether you tend to make measured, traditional style blocks or you prefer improv quilting, maintaining a scant 1/4" seam allowance will lead to neater work, more resilient seams, less bulk to quilt through, blocks that fit together and the satisfaction of pointy points where you want them. 

Both beginners and experienced quilters alike can benefit from a seam allowance tune-up. You'd be surprised how many people have struggled for ages, wondering why their measured blocks don't end up the planned size.  The test doesn't take long and once your seam allowance is established, you'll enjoy the satisfaction of blocks that fit together as your patterns intend, without distortion from stretching short edges or puckers from gathering generous ones. Refresh your accuracy by performing the simple test below and remember that you'll need to repeat this on ALL of your machines (because, ahem, a few of us sew on more than one machine).  If you are sewing a project using bulkier fabric such as Essex linen, or fine fabric such as lawn, it would be a good idea to repeat this test with the actual fabric being used for the project!

BUT WHY "SCANT"? Quilt blocks are measured to the 1/4" based on side-pressing of seams within the block. A scant 1/4" seam is necessary because we need to allow room in the pressed-over fold for the piecing thread as well as the one or two threads of fabric on the edge of the fold.  A fine, 50 wt piecing thread takes up very little room in seams, which is one of the reasons the Aurifil brand is so popular with quilters. 


1. Accurately cut five 2 1/2" squares of pressed, quilting weight cotton. Measure with your quilting rulers, not the cutting mat. Remember that accurate piecing begins with accurate cutting. Know your rulers!

2. Using your normal piecing thread, sew the squares together along side seams, creating one long strip unit.

3. Press seams flat to set stitches, then press seams all to one side in the same direction.
1/4" test

1/4" test

4. Measure the unit by placing your quilting ruler on top of the strip. It should measure 10 1/2".


5. If your strip is less than 10 1/2" long, then your seam allowance is larger than a scant 1/4". If your strip is greater than 10 1/2" long, then your 1/4" is too scant. 


My strip is larger than 10 1/2" long
  • confirm pieces accurately measure 2 1/2" square
  • confirm seams are all pressed to one side in the same direction (NOT OPEN). 
  • fold over the last square and re-press the seam flat. Place your ruler on top of the right edge, aligning the edge of the ruler with the edge of the fabric. Your stitches should be visible just to the right (or inside) of the 1/4" ruler line. If you can see fabric between the 1/4" line and your line of stitches, then your seam is too scant.
This seam is just a hair too scant because you can see fabric between the 1/4" line on the ruler and the line of stitches.

My strip is smaller than 10 1/2" long
  • confirm pieces  accurately measure 2 1/2" square
  • confirm from the right side that the fabric of each square is fully pressed out over the seam
  • fold over the last square and re-press the seam flat. Place your ruler on top of the right edge, aligning the edge of the ruler with the edge of the fabric. Your stitches should be visible just to the right (or inside) of the 1/4" ruler line.If your stitches are under the 1/4" line, then you've sewn an exact 1/4" seam, not a scant one; you need to decrease your seam allowance by about 2 thread widths.  If your stitches are fully to the outside, or left of the 1/4" line, then your seam allowance is too generous (big) and adjustments to decrease it need to be made (move needle one notch to the right or adjust your seam guide closer to the presser foot).
In general, as I've had students perform this test in workshops, it appears that many manufacturer's 1/4" patchwork feet with fence guide attached on the right side of the foot are actually a bit generous. If you have one of these feet, hold it up to the light. Can you see daylight between the edge of the foot and the fence? If so, chances are that the edge of the foot is actually the scant 1/4" and the fence it a true 1/4".

Good luck! Let me know how you make out in the comments and leave any questions you may have there as well. I'll try to answer questions in subsequent comments, so check back.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Winter extension

We've had an unusual winter here in Vancouver with lots of gorgeous snow. I am a bit of a crazy person by Vancouver standards because I LOVE the snow and always want more.  It snowed this weekend while I was teaching over on Vancouver Island for the new Nanaimo Modern Quilt Guild and the fun continued with a few scattered flurries this morning here in Vancouver. How lucky that I got to enjoy the few falling flakes during a walk on the seawall in my new Rikke hat!  I managed to finish it in just a few days (and secretly hoped it would stay cold enough that I could wear it a few times before spring).

Rikke hat in Malabrigo Rios

Rikke hat in Malabrigo Rios

Taking a selfie of the back of one's own head is a challenge (and you look pretty dorky doing it, I might add). However, it is the prettiest part of this garter-stitched hat, don't you think?

I began this hat once before, but after knitting about 4 inches and trying it on, it slipped easily down over my eyes and ears. Some helpful folks on Instagram suggested casting on 96 stitches instead of the pattern's 104. I like the fit much better. I also began my decreases after 7 1/2" because I didn't want the hat to be so super slouchy. I love the Malabrigo Rios in pure merino super wash. It is incredibly soft!

Rikke hat is a free pattern by Sarah Young available on Ravelry.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Rumours Confirmed: I'm a Knitter

I can't stop. Here's the 8th shawl I've made since October. It's the Reyna pattern (free on Ravelry), knit with a gifted skein of self-striping shawl yarn from Green Caterpillar called "Fade to Blue".

Reyna shawl made with Green Caterpillar shawl striping MCN in Fade to Blue

Reyna shawl knit by Poppyprint

Now, before you think I'm all super clever with the contrasting bind off, I will admit to my rookie mistake. I didn't leave enough yarn to complete the bind off row. I felt mildly panicked because if I pulled out those lace rows, it would be really hard for me to get the work back on the needle. I decided I might as well bind off with some leftover green yarn from a previous shawl project. It is a heavier weight than the fingering used for this shawl, but I went for it anyway and I love how it turned out!

Reyna shawl knit by Poppyprint

Reyna shawl knit by Poppyprint

After a soak and blocking, it is so light and lacy! This will be a thank you gift for a friend soon. I'm ready to move onto a new knitting challenge and have decided on the Rikke hat (another free pattern on Ravelry). I started it once already, but ripped it out when I realized the cast-on row was too large for my head. With some helpful Instagram advice, I'm ready to start again with a gorgeous skein of Malabrigo Rios.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Penultimate Lonestar

Just a quick share of this mini-Lonestar Circle quilt I recently finished up on a retreat. You've seen a few of these here before. This particular one has been lying around in my sewing room in pieces since the Alaska Cruise almost 2 years ago. It was time to get this UFO pieced, quilted and bound!  A friend once indicated that she wanted to make one, but she's a busy gal and I know she's got plenty of her own ideas brewing, so I gifted her this one for her sewing room wall.

You can find the pattern in my book Make It, Take It. The original quilt was designed by Lynne Goldsworthy and I've shared cutting instructions to make this mini version here.

Lonestar Circle mini by Poppyprint
made with Cotton & Steel, Essex Linen and quilted with Aurifil 40 wt thread

It just so happened that the chicken coop on the retreat property was painted a perfect colour as a backdrop for this quilt.  Lucky me!

This is the penultimate because there is still one more full sized version awaiting quilting in my sewing room. It's a Christmas one, so I have time....

Monday, February 20, 2017

New Work for Workshops

This weekend I'll be teaching in Nanaimo, B.C. for the brand new Nanaimo Modern Quilt Guild ! On Saturday (Feb.25), we're going to have some fun with Speed Date with Improv and on Sunday (Feb.26) it'll be time to play with my Quarter Round block and create some fun secondary patterning. There are still a few spots available in both workshops if you are on Vancouver Island and fancy a day in Nanaimo hanging out with modern quilting enthusiasts learning new skills playing with colour, shape and pattern. Contact & workshop info is on their blog.

Quarter Round 20" Pillow by Poppyprint

Here are my latest creations using the versatile Quarter Round block. In the green pillow, I really changed things up by substituting electric lime green and green for the 'background' strips and ombre grey in the main strips. It turned out a little different from the the digital drawing I initially posted here due to mixing up my greens during cutting.  You can see that half square triangles are used instead of a solid corner square and I rotated the blocks so each half square triangle is in the centre, creating a pinwheel. This gives the composition a concentric square effect with the green background strips meeting along the central vertical and horizontal seams.

Quarter Round 20" Pillow by Poppyprint

I used up my strippy scraps to make an improv backing for this pillow and quilted both the front and back with parallel lime green lines using Aurifil 40 wt. thread.

Quarter Round 20" Pillow by Poppyprint

Quarter Round 20" Pillow by Poppyprint

I installed an invisible zip along one edge of the pillow. You can see that even though this was a 20 1/2" block sewn together with a 3/8" seam allowance, a 20" commercial pillow form isn't quite enough to puff out the entire pillow cover. Before gifting this, I'll stuff a handful of polyfil into each corner of the pillow.

Modern Rose by Poppyprint

And this is my attempt at an abstract rose. Yes, this is the same block! In my Round Peg, Square Hole pattern (link to my Craftsy shop at the top of my right sidebar), this is referred to as the "Basic ombre Block". In this 20" mini quilt, I constructed 4 identical blocks, however 2 have reversed ombre strips. In this one, you can see that the blocks are rotated so that each corner square of "background" white fabric is on an outside corner of the quilt top and all of the widest strips meet along the central vertical and horizontal seams.

I taught this workshop for the first time last weekend for my traditional guild and it is so fun to see how people work with colours and prints in this pattern. I can't wait to see some quilts come together!

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.