Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pattern Testing

When I worked for Northcott, one of my tasks was to proof patterns. I actually proofed my own patterns which can be a bit of challenge as you've seen the same pattern in multiple iterations and it's easy for a mistake to slip through. Thankfully, most of them were easy. If you haven't seen my patterns, they're available on the Northcott web page as free downloads. Yes, they were made with specific collections, but most of them could use whatever fabrics you want. I'm actually going to go back and rework some of them in different fabric selections.

But I also worked with the designers who created patterns with Northcott fabrics. I did not have time to completely check the entire pattern, I mostly checked that the cutting instructions matched the fabric requirements.

Depending on the pattern designer, the job was fun and not so fun. It really depended on how the fabrics were laid out for cutting and buying. There are good ways and there are not so good ways to explain how the fabrics need to be cut. Let's just say that I learned a LOT by reading other people's patterns and pattern writing styles.

I soon developed my own style which was based on how I like to read and use a pattern. Hopefully, those of you who have used my free downloads haven't had an issue with them.

A while back, a Canadian designer posted on Facebook that she was looking for pattern testing for one of her patterns. Despite the fact that I was insanely busy, I threw my name into the hat and I got picked!

The pattern is called One Fish, Two Fish and the designer is Janet Barker. You can check out Janet's Facebook page. Her design company is called JB.QUILTDESIGNS. Janet is teaching at Quilt Canada 2018 in Vancouver. She is NOT teaching the fish quilt.  Her workshops are in the Quilt Canada link above.

The pattern comes in multiple sizes and of course, I wanted to make the largest one which is a lap quilt. I'm going to use my version as a wall hanging. It's 51" by 56".

Now, what fabrics to use? I have a ton of fabric, but I'm always trying to get more out of any project, so I decided to use Banyan Batiks by Northcott. Thanks to Northcott for supplying the beautiful batiks used in this quilt.

Banyan Batiks by Northcott (this is some of the batiks used in the quilt)

The original quilt had a white background, but we're talking fish here so I choose a beautiful aqua green from the Ketan collection (81000-715 - Green Envy) to represent the tropical waters where these colorful fish would reside.

Then I was off to cut and sew. For those who know me, I'm not the best at reading patterns. I tend to see how the pattern is made and then go off on my own tangent. I tried to keep on track. That was the point of the exercise - provide feedback to Janet for the pattern. It didn't help that I was in a deep time crunch as well. I was sewing and then thought I didn't have enough blocks so I cut more fish fabric. I used up every spare scrap of the background that I had.

Things weren't coming together as I had planned and I was about to panic when I realized it was lunchtime. Lunchtime on the last day that I could work on this quilt. It was far from being together. While I ate lunch, I decided to read the ENTIRE pattern right through to the end. OH - OH - OH - I had a lightbulb moment and after lunch, the remainder of the quilt went together like a breeze. SO yes - when one is testing a pattern, one should read the entire pattern!!!  Totally my fault.

But I have lots of notes - well not that many to pass along to Janet and I'll be doing that this morning.

So you want to see the quilt?  It's super cute.

One Fish, Two Fish designed by Janet Barker (made by me)

Isn't it neat? I did change up the fish from Janet's. I have little /big fish happening. Using the various sizes of fish and designing your own quilt was part of the pattern. You choose the size of fish you wanted and you could arrange them how you wanted.There was also a larger fish which I didn't use.  I wanted to make sure there was some space between all of the fish to get some cool quilting in.

The pattern is rated Advanced and I would agree. The fish fins are all 3-D flying geese which aren't hard, but they do take time. There was sewing, there was cutting and there was trimming, as well as a few bias edges. But honestly, it didn't take long to put together. Once I got my fish size concept organized and I knew what I was doing.

The binding hasn't been put on yet and I have plans for that. Based on what's happening on QUILTsocial this week, the binding blog posts have generated a HUGE pile of other opportunities and I'm going to use this quilt for one of my ideas.

The moment I had finished piecing this quilt, it went onto the long arm and I needed some fast quilting ideas. I go for freehand designs every time. Freehand doesn't have to be PERFECT which is why I like it - a LOT.

Here's one of the fish. I used one of the quilting suggestion by Janet and modified it for my style. It's hard to see in the photo, but the fish has an eye and a couple of curvy bands.

Front of the fish
 Here's a picture of the quilting on the back of the quilt where you can hopefully see the quilting a wee bit better.

Quilting on the fish from the back of the quilt

Here's a shot of the quilting on the front of the quilt - the background.

The quilting on the background

And here's the background quilting from the back of the quilt. I always tell my students - make your quilting consistently INCONSISTENT and then EVERYTHING is perfect.

Background quilting from the back of the quilt

At our long-arm meeting on the weekend, someone mentioned a big name quilter in the US who takes ONE YEAR to make a quilt. BORING!!!!   I would die if I only made one quilt a year. I don't care how spectacular the quilt is, I couldn't do it. My level of creativity would be stifled if it all went into one quilt.

I mentioned that the flying geese for the fish fins are 3-D flying geese. While I love them, they are a hassle to quilt. I have a quilt here that has 3-D flying geese and it was kind of freaking me out what to do with it. Well, when I got started on this quilt, I ended up stitching the 3-D part down and I LOVE how it turned out. I wanted ONE line of continuous quilting for the fins and I managed to do that. I love when I learn new things! It seems that everything I do has a learning experience for me. I love that!!!  As my Dad says, when you stop learning, you've nothing to live for.

There's my85-year-old Dad addicted to YouTube so he can learn stuff about engines and generators and alternators and whatever. I love it!!!  Way to go, Dad!!!

The way the fish were made, there were cut-off bits. Of course, I saved the cut off bits. It's my nature to save them! Plus I now have 6 extra fish. So I was able to acquire some more background fabric and I'm going to make something up from the extra fish and these bits of leftovers. I've started to deal with the leftovers and hopefully, I can show you that project soon.

Leftover bits from the fish quilt

So there you have it! My fish quilt. I made notes as I went along in the pattern and I'll be sending those notes to Janet this morning.

I did manage to get most of the URGENT computer work yesterday, but I have a couple more hours today. Then I'm spending the afternoon sewing. Tomorrow, I can do whatever I want all day. I can hardly wait. Except that I have a sore throat. Oh well, life is NOT perfect.

Have a super day!!


Do NOT forget to check out QUILTsocial this morning. There's some excellent information about binding. Matter of fact, the entire week is about binding. 

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