Quilt Projects

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And Then There Were Twenty

Okay, I think we're good to go here.

Four blocks across and five down. Shown here on the design wall but not sewn together yet.

After putting the blocks together, I think I'll put about a 4" border all the way around and that will be it.

Hope to be able to work on it more tomorrow.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quilt for a Blessed Event

I've started a new baby quilt (fun, fun, fun!) that will be a gift for a young couple expecting the first addition to their family in December.

These two are very special people and are so excited about their baby. Fortunately, Mama is beautifully calm and serene; Papa may need a couple of large doses of Valium sometime within the next three months.

They both decided that they liked the looks of 30s fabric for the baby's quilt and were especially fond of pieces that showed small figures and caricatures. So I dug through my stash and found a good quantity that would give the scrappy look I envisioned. (Okay, okay, so I did buy three new pieces of fabric. But they were really, really necessary for the color range I wanted. Honest.)

Here's what I have done so far. The blocks will finish at 8" square and the white strips are narrower than the colored strips. (White are 1/2" finished and the colored are 1" finished.) This may not have been the wisest choice I've made recently. As you know, when working with a strip as narrow as 1/2", being off even a teensy bit (moi?) with your 1/4" seams creates havoc of all kinds. Plus, although I haven't actually incurred serious damage to any fingers yet while pressing, it's been very close several times!

One rejected block so far. Too pink. I think. (Baby's sex is not known.)

Curious note: Have any of the rest of you noticed that EVERYONE seems to be working with variations of square motif blocks? Must be something in the air.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"You Are Special"

For the last many years that my husband taught school, he was in a third grade classroom that had a large, bare wall space between two windows. Although he always did a lot of decorating in his room to make it attractive for the kids, I made a quilted wall hanging for each season of the school year to put up on the wall in that bare space. Not only did it add more color to the room, but it was remarkable how "warm" it made the room feel.

Because starting third grade when you have a man as your teacher for the very first time can be kinda scary, I always hung this particular wall hanging up for the first couple of months hoping that each child would know that his new teacher really did think he was special.

The pattern I used is from Celebrate! with Little Quilts by Alice Berg, Mary Ellen Von Holt and Sylvia Johnson. It measures 38" square.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Double Pinwheel Finished

Gosh, I just love this baby quilt. Not meaning at all to toot my own toy horn, it's just the way the total scrappiness of it came together and is so visually pleasing. Although it was entirely my composition, I can't really intentionally take credit for it working out so well. There were many times as I put another block up on my design wall that I thought, "Whoa! Too much goin' on here! This is never gonna work."

But I'm nothing if not stubborn (just ask the man I live with) so I kept grabbing more scraps and making more blocks.

And I am very happy with the finished product.

I didn't want to quilt it with anything that would add more visual busyness to the front, so I did all-over diagonal wavy lines which give just enough interest to the solid reading backing.

The quilt is 42" square and I bound it with the backing fabric.

I do love both scrap quilts and 30s reproduction fabrics so that's probably why this one strikes a particular chord with me. Hope you like it, too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Design Walls

Judy Laquidara of Patchwork Times invited those of us who have design walls to put a comment on her blog and then write a post about them on our own blog.

It's been fun and informative to read and see the pictures that other people have posted so I'm adding my two cents worth here.

When I designed my small quilting studio, I made the decision to sacrifice both a small wall and a large wall that I could have used for storage to design walls. And I've never been sorry I did so.

The small area is floor to ceiling (7 feet high) and only 5 feet wide but it's always full of "stuff" . . . usually a work in progress and sometimes notes, e-mails, and announcements that I want to keep track of.

Except for the doorway, the large design wall takes all of one wall of my quilt studio being floor to ceiling and a smidge over 7 feet wide. I can (almost) get all the (unpieced) blocks for a full-sized quilt up on this wall.

Both walls are a fiberboard that is porous enough to easily stick pins into but strong enough for the pins to stay secure when holding up even a heavy quilt.

With my husband's help, I stretched white flannel on both walls stapling the flannel at the top, bottom and sides. Then we put molding strips over the staples. A full-sized quilt top will easily stick to the flannel and, of course, blocks and other pieces are no problem at all.

I don't know how I ever survived when I was quilting at the kitchen table and had no design wall at all. (I did a lot of laying blocks out on the floor and then standing on a chair and hanging out over the layout [very awkwardly, I might add], trying to see what it looked like.)

After sandwiching a quilt, I'll frequently leave it on the design wall for days (sometimes weeks!) until inspiration hits me as how to quilt the piece. I wanted to have enough design wall space so I could have several works in progress on the wall(s) at once and having that sure does come in handy.

Finally having my very own quilting studio/room is something I'm grateful for every day. And I love my design wall space!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Farmer's Wife's Scraps

This baby quilt top is made using the old traditional Double Pinwheel block. I used a large variety of 30s fabric scraps to make it. The fabrics are all reminiscent of those you might have found as feed sacks during that period in our history.

Women made many a dress or apron or piece of child's clothing from the material of the bags that the men brought feed home in. I can just imagine all these scraps being the leftovers after the woman of the house sewed first dresses, then aprons, and finally used her collection of small pieces she had remaining to construct this baby quilt possibly for the anticipated arrival of the newest member of her large farm family.

Next on my agenda . . . sandwiching and quilting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Baby Quilt Finished

What better thing to do at 3:30 in the morning than to quilt? In the wee hours of this morning I was having trouble sleeping 'cause I couldn't breathe (dratted cold is still bothering me), and I was sure my tickling (read: irritating as all heck), dry cough was going to wake my husband so I grabbed my box of Kleenex and shuffled into my quilt studio . . . and really got a lot done.

Here's the front view of my latest baby quilt. The measurements of it are 35-1/2" x 39".

I did end up making a new backing for it and am happy I took the time to do so. (Kind of gives new meaning to the term "pieced back", doesn't it?)

I was in a group of quilters once when were were discussing what was our personal favorite part of making a quilt. One gal, who was an expert quilter and constantly turned out gorgeous quilts of intricate design, said her favorite part was putting on the binding.

"Really?" I asked.

"For sure," she said. "Because as soon as I'm done with the binding, I can start a new quilt."

Now I can go start a new quilt!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Happy/Sad Day

Today is a very sad day because my most favorite quilt shop in the whole world (speaking as someone who has worldly experience . . . which I do not) is closing. (I'm actually kinda surprised at how totally bereft this is making me feel!)

On the other hand, the retiring owner is holding a fabulous sale on everything in the shop for the rest of the month. Happy, happy day! I truly have bought very little fabric for over a year (yes, I've been very good and have been diligently working on my stash) but today, I went shopping. Did I get a little carried away? No, I don't really think so. Actually, I kept my purchases pretty much to basics. Next time I go back before the closing (and there WILL be a next time), I'm getting some fun stuff!

A quick run-down on the loot I came home with today.

I stocked up on neutrals, mostly white-on-whites which I find myself using in 30's prints baby quilts quite a bit. And a couple of beige/ecru neutrals, too.

Two pieces of black print fabric. True, these are rarely used in baby quilts, but I frequently throw in some black when making other quilts.

These are flannel fat quarters . . . two for the price of one. I've been wanting to purchase an assortment like this for ages. What's it for? Okay, maybe you can't count this as a "basic." The fabric is for a ragged edge dog bed cover that's been on my wanna-do list for a couple of years. (Maybe our dog would deem this basic?)

Two pieces I'll definitely use in baby quilts. These fabrics are similar, one white and one yellow and are a small confetti print that will fit in a lot of places.

I'm on a kick where I just adore polka dots for bindings. Therefore, the two pictured above.

This snowman print jumped right into my hands, along with the two coordinating fabrics. I think I may add a medium/dark solid blue also. A baby quilt made with a Snowball Block? We'll see.

I am drawn to green and orange together although it's not always the easiest to pull off. I knew I had several fabrics here at home (also pictured) that would go well with the flowers on the green background fabric I bought today.

Now you can guess what I want to do for the next three or four weeks straight. Get busy and immerse myself in all this wonderful, new fabric!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


So here is the finished top of my latest baby quilt. Considering the fact that I totally winged it (wung it?) from the word go, I'm pleased with the way it turned out. However . . .

As so often happens (you'd think I'd learn), when I don't buy yardage specifically for a project, I've run into trouble with the backing.

I had an inkling from the get-go that none of the fabrics I was using for the top would be big enough for the whole backing. That's okay, I assured myself. Pieced backings are cool and add interest to the quilt.

I planned on using these two fabrics pieced together for the backing.

I'd used them both in the quilt top and they looked fine together.

The backing went together easily . . . no problem.

But then as I looked at the top and backing both up on my design wall, I saw something I didn't like.

The small plaid fabric I used as the main part of the backing has a definite diagonal pattern to it. I had planned to quilt the center scrappy checkerboard pattern in the ditch which would make diagonal lines on the front . . . and the back. And no two ways about it, my diagonal stitching lines wouldn't stand a chance in the world of not being wonky with the diagonal lines of the plaid fabric. Dang. Back to the drawing board.

Do I find a way of constructing another backing piece? I've pretty much used scraps in this quilt and don't have a lot of any one fabric left now to work with. Or do I jettison my quilting plan for the front? I'm stalled. At a standstill. Derailed. Gonna have to think about this for a while.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Bit Of Progress

I shouldn't complain about our really nice weather (I really, really shouldn't!), but it's keeping me away from my quilt studio. Thinking fall rains will start one of these days, I talked myself into working outside all day on Labor Day instead of spending the day quilting. (WHAT was I thinking?!) So even though I've managed a couple of hours here and there to satisfy my itchy quilting fingers, I haven't made a lot of progress on my latest baby quilt.

I didn't put as much of a white-on-white border around the center scrappy squares as I had in my mind that I would. When I got close to doing it, it just seemed . . . well, too white.

So this is where I am right now. The piano keys border is sewn on, and I'm planning (always subject to change, of course) to finish it off with another border of solid fabric.

This day has been totally gray and gloomy with two periods of light rain. The first didn't start until around noon so it was possible to get outside for some yard/garden clean-up the first half of the day. We do need the rain as our raised garden beds are super dry. The field garden is still holding moisture well though. I've definitely got more to do outside before everything is ready to be put to bed for winter . . . but I wouldn't mind a couple of totally rainy days for a quilting break!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Project

Finally made it into my quilt studio late this afternoon and pulled out some 30s fabric to start a new baby quilt.

I cut up a bunch of 3" x 3" squares for the center of the quilt that I've kinda sorta got half planned in my mind. (Starting like this usually ends up getting me in big trouble.)

Setting the squares on point was what I had in mind and this is as far as I've gotten. Doesn't look too bad for a first random lay out on the design wall.

Next comes a not too wide white-on-white border around this center scrappy checkerboard.

We don't have any special plans for Labor Day tomorrow, so I'd love to spend the holiday (as in "day off") working on this quilt. We'll see if quilting . . . or much needed garden and yard clean-up wins out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Project Completed!

Well, you can all sleep soundly tonight because my new fall shower curtain is completed and hanging in the bathroom.

You will just have to take my word for it that getting a decent picture of the shower curtain in our small bathroom is difficult to say the least. (There's hardly room for me, the shower curtain and the camera in there.)

I took this funny angled shot while the shower curtain was hanging on my design wall to try to show some of the quilting . . . but I'll admit, it just doesn't show up well.

This afternoon I phoned the store where I purchased my sewing machine to see if we could diagnose what the problem was with the computer programming for making buttonholes. (I talked with the owner who does all the machine repairs so I felt lucky to hook up with her.) We tried a few different things but to no avail. Looks like my trusty machine will have to make a trip down the road to get fixed.

My older machine does make buttonholes, but I've never been satisfied with the looks of them. In this circumstance, I knew they would be hardly visible at all so I went ahead and made them on the older machine just so I could get them done!

Am I happy with putting the Thermore batting between the top and muslin backing? Well, it seems a bit stiff yet; it doesn't hang as nicely as I would like it to. But this is probably because everything is still new and needs to get used to hanging. We'll give it the test of time, and may have to even wash it once before passing judgement. (But the batting certainly did give definition to the all the quilting I did on it . . . more quilting than I should have done on a shower curtain!)

As always, it sure feels good to have a project completed. Now what new thing shall I start?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Need An Extension . . . and Some Honesty

I really should have known saying I would have my fall shower curtain completed and hung by September 1st was pushing it just a teensy bit. I still have to put buttonholes across the top for the rings on the shower rod to go through. Then it will be done.

But, drat and blast, guess who is having no luck at all getting the buttonhole attachment on her machine to work? Granted, I haven't used it in a couple of years but it's always been super-simple to use. For some reason, today I can't get the computer programmed correctly. Operator error? Could be. The store where I purchased the machine is 130 miles away but they are very good about giving any help they can over the phone so that's my next step . . . as soon as I have time to make the phone call during their business hours.

I'll be away from home all day tomorrow so looks like Friday will be my first chance to see if I can get things straightened out via phone.

In the meantime, I need input regarding this baby quilt top I made a while back. I used colors and fabrics that pushed me outside the box . . . which is supposed to be good for us now and then, right?

A certain person who shall remain nameless (I'm protecting the guilty here rather than the innocent) took one look at it and said it was AWFUL! I didn't think it was bad at all, but maybe I'm not really "seeing" it after working through the whole design and construction.

The colors (on my computer screen anyway) show pretty true. Perhaps the deep purple is showing a smidge more on the blue side than it really is but otherwise it's a fairly realistic representation of the coloration.

Truly, I'd like honest opinions from you all. I know my dog will be very happy with it for her bed if no one but me thinks anyone would buy it for a baby. Don't be afraid. Be brutal, be honest, lay it on me. What do you think?