Quilt Projects

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If I Only Knew What I Was Doing . . .

My latest finished baby quilt to share with you here.

I had the idea I wanted to make a quilt that looked old, as if it had been made from random fabrics a quilter might have had available in her scrap basket a hundred years ago.

Good idea, but what block to use? Nine-Patch is about as simplistic and "old" as it gets. Then to add some interest, I decided to put a border around each 9-Patch. I didn't realize until I had the bordered 9-Patches nearly all put together with sashing that I had made . . . a Framed 9-Patch Block! Duh.

I'm partial to dots and had this little red dotted fabric for backing. To me it looked very basic, and complimented the "old" look of the fabrics on the front.

The faint diagonal intersecting lines you can see on the back of the quilt are the areas where I didn't do any quilting. Kinda neat the way that turned out. I quilted it so that the colored squares in the 9-Patches would stand out, but the pattern the quilting formed on the back was a pleasant surprise. Like I said, if I only knew what I was doing . . .

Monday, December 28, 2009

Featured Quilt Of The Week - "First Steps"

Did your grandmother wear aprons? Mine did. They were full length ones that slipped over the head and tied around the waist. Several of the 30s reproduction fabrics I used in this baby quilt reminded me of Grandma's apron prints. As the mother of seven children of her own, she had lots of grandchildren and saw many toddlers take their first steps. Because my mom and I lived with her and my grandpa for the first three years of my life while my dad was off in the war, I'm sure she saw me take mine!

I don't know if the name of this week's featured quilt, "First Steps," came from me thinking of my grandma's aprons and then, of course, her love of children or whether I saw the blocks of brightly colored fabric as steps to climb upon. Either way, the name seems to fit.

I softened the pieced, straight lines of this quilt by rounding the corners and quilting it with a shallow scallop making it sturdy and ready to withstand years of everyday use.

The backing material is a yellow and white print with tiny pink flowers.

The size of this scrap quilt is 38" x 43-1/2", has 100% cotton batting and, like all my quilts, is machine washable and dry-able.

Does a special baby in your life need a gift that will be used, loved, and enjoyed for years to come? One of my handmade, one-of-a-kind baby quilts would be perfect, if I do say so myself! You can get more information on this quilt and others I have for sale on my website.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

One Pooped Santa

Looks to me as if the Jolly Old Elf didn't even make it back to his comfy bed at the North Pole before collapsing.

Hope you all had a really nice Christmas Day. We weren't able to make it to our daughter and son-in-law's yesterday because of bad weather conditions.

But this morning, we have the truck packed and ready to go. Wish us luck on our hour's drive back into the boonies to Swamp River Ridge for our Christmas celebration, one day late.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Ghost of Christmas Past

It was totally accidental that I came across this Christmas wall hanging today. I made it sometime around ten years ago, and was so unhappy with it when finished that I never hung it.

It was a pattern from I-can't-remember-where . . . I've blotted it out of my mind. The size is 30" x 30" and it's basically pieced with machine appliqued green holly leaves and yellow stars.

That big plain square in the middle is just too out there, in your face, and unpleasant. I probably should have used a green or red fabric for it instead of the lighter one. Or appliqued some more holly leaves . . . or stars . . . or something on it. That would have helped. Maybe.

As you can see by this picture, the yellow stars were cut from a very thin fabric and the print of the square they're appliqued onto shows right through the stars. Not good. Poor planning.

Please notice the red and green triangles that form the inner border. There are a whole lot of those little buggers that I had to cut and then piece together for the four sides. Got them all done . . . and they were WAY TOO BIG TO FIT. There was a big mistake in the cutting instructions for the triangles in the pattern. I tried reducing the number of triangles, but that didn't work. So there was nothing to do but take them all apart, figure out the size they should have been cut in the first place, trim them down and put them back together.

Have I ever mentioned that math isn't my strong suit? My figures were incorrect and they were still too big the second time around. One more time. Took them apart (all four rows of them) and cut each triangle piece to a new, yet smaller size. I was a little more intelligent the third time when putting them back together. I did only one side, instead of all four, to be sure I had it right that time.

By then, I was pretty sure I didn't like the wall hanging much anymore.

Since I had machine appliqued the leaves and stars, I went ahead and machine quilted the rest of it. Did a lot of stitching in the ditch and way too much stippling in all the areas of dark green . . . which didn't show up for beans! (But that may have been all for the good because I was just learning to stipple/meander at the time and I've got to admit it isn't pretty.)

I got as far as sewing a hanging sleeve on the back of it, and I can remember thinking as I finished the last few stitches that I was NEVER going to hang the blasted thing . . . and I didn't. It's been folded up and hidden away for years until I came upon it today. Curious that I found it right now during the holiday season. A real ghost of Christmas past come back to haunt me!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Featured Quilt of the Week - "The Big Top"

Can't you almost hear the cheerful hoots and toots of the calliope when you look at the bright, contemporary colors of this quilt?

"The Big Top" got its start while I was perusing a fabric store trying to find a particular green I needed for another quilt. Somehow, the fabric shown above just reached out and grabbed me as I walked by, and I couldn't resist it. The colors and design immediately reminded me of a circus or carnival. I knew I had to use it in a baby quilt. Needless to say, the fabric came home with me, and I pulled coordinating pieces for the front out of my stash.

I had no specific pattern for this quilt in mind but rather started with the center square and proceeded with a vague idea that I wanted the design to somehow radiate out from there.

I particularly like the red blocks with the stars that seem to burst as they stream out from the center. (Hmmm, maybe we have a hybrid here between Fourth of July fireworks and a circus tent!)

Quilting it with wavy lines added even more to the motion of the quilt. Lots of movement and color to stimulate the little one who is the recipient of this quilt.

The size is 39-1/2" square: a great size to keep Baby snug and warm in the car seat this winter. And, it's just the right size - not too big - to pack into the diaper bag.

Check out this quilt along with several others for sale on my website. As always, feel free to contact me (top of side bar) if you have any questions or desire more information about any of the baby quilts you see here.

Wishing you a warm, safe, and relaxing holiday season celebrated with loved ones and full of cheer! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Is Coming

Whoa! Hold on here. Have I completely lost it? Nope, I do know that Thanksgiving has come and gone, and it's Christmas that is fast approaching.

I still haven't found time in the past couple of days to spend on any on-going or new quilting projects so thought I'd show you this (old) piece. Seeing other people's work is something I really enjoy as it frequently gives me ideas so I'm hoping some of my quilts might do the same for you.

"Thanksgiving Is Coming" is the name I gave this wall hanging that I made a few years ago. You guessed it . . . right before Thanksgiving. It's not an original design but I have no idea where I saw the pattern. I haven't used the wall hanging in the past couple of years but when I was looking for something seasonally appropriate to hang over our bed a week or so ago, this came to the forefront.

It's not very large, only about 28" square, and I hand quilted it.

Originally, when I finished it, I just wasn't that crazy about it. But I think it's growing on me as time goes on. For some reason, I'm really liking the looks of it now. Go figure.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Supersedes All!

Have I not been spending enough time in my quilt studio lately?

Hmmm. Seems my calendar should have been changed two weeks ago.

Wonder why the fall decorations are still up? See the little maple leaves on the string? You may not be able to tell, but the valance over the window is a fabric printed with brightly colored autumn leaves. (Wonder where my snowflake valance is?)

My sewing table stacked with fabric to be filed away and mending piled on chair. I meant to get all that done a week or so ago.

Well, here's a problem. This is my cutting table. I think. It must be under there somewhere.

My latest in progress baby quilt is sandwiched and ready to be quilted. Love the red polka dot backing, no? (Oops, doesn't show up red at all in this picture!)

I know how I want to quilt it. But looks like I'm gonna have to do a little cleaning and straightening (and mending) before my sewing machine is free for quilting.

Apparently, other things have been commanding my time, effort, and attention lately. Ah yes, holiday preparations. That's what I've been concentrating on. Christmas does kinda take up the better part of December, doesn't it?

Happy Holidays, everybody!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Featured Quilt of the Week

"Mama's Dresses" is the first baby quilt I made using fabrics that weren't either 30s reproductions, a kiddie print, or pastel colors. And it just might be my favorite one so far.

I tend to like straight, crisp lines and bold, rich colors. For this quilt I used fabrics that were Civil War reproduction prints. As I was piecing the quilt, the thought crossed my mind that a young, expectant mother in the last part of the 1800s could having been making it from the cast-off dresses and shirts of family members.

At the time I was making this quilt, I had just finished re-reading "Gone With the Wind", and during the hours of cutting and piecing, my thoughts grew fanciful speculating about the life of my imaginary mother-to-be and wondering what her days might have been like as she lovingly constructed a quilt much like this one for her baby.

The pattern is a basic 9-Patch. (Can you see the 9-Patches?)

I quilted it heavily with cross-hatching which makes the back (although plain and simple) very attractive.

I don't think it's strange that I wove such a story in my mind during the happy hours making this baby quilt. As quilters we are bound to women who have long used their talents to provide warmth and nurturing for their families through the creation of quilts. Often quilting was the sole artistic outlet and social diversion for the strong, hard-working women who came before us. These women did all the work with their hands, using a scissors, needle and thread. We may have the advantage of a rotary cutter and sewing machine, but the art of quilting is the common thread that binds us.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Christmas Decorations

A few years ago, I pulled some reds and greens (and a little Santa print) out of my stash and put together this wall hanging.

As you can see, I've got this long, narrow space on the living room side of the half wall that divides our kitchen and living room area. I decorate the house for the different seasons and holidays, and this space seems bare to me if it doesn't have a little decoration of some sort on it.

The whole piece measures 9" x 32" and each of the five squares is 5" x 5".

I didn't have a plan when I started . . . it just sort of grew as I went along.

Even though there's quite a bit of hand quilting on it, it didn't seem like a big job, probably because most of the quilting is on the five small squares.

Nothing big or fancy, but I've always really liked this piece and smile when I pull it out each holiday season.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Lot of Hand Applique Work

When my husband was teaching, this was the Christmas wall hanging he had in his third grade classroom at this time of year.

It's about 32" x 46" and was a "Block of the Month" program I signed up for. If I remember correctly, I signed up in March of one year thinking I would have the hanging ready for that same year's holiday season. Boy, those months flew by. Boy, I fell behind quickly.

But, doggone it, I was going to have it done by December so come the month of November, I did an awful lot of applique work. I did get it finished by the first week in December.

The only thing I regret was something I didn't notice until it was up on the classroom wall for the first time. I sure do wish I had put some kind of an outer border around it. The pattern didn't call for one but every time I look at this piece, I wish I had added one. If I hadn't been in such a rush (caused by my own procrastination in the year's previous months), I think I would have had time to really look at it after I had all the blocks sewn together and before I sandwiched and bound it. Oh, well. As they say, hindsight is always 20-20.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Monday's Featured Quilt of the Week - On Wednesday

Oh, my. My apologies for being a couple of days late in posting Monday's Quilt of the Week! Along about last Thursday the thought crossed my mind that it wouldn't be a bad idea to start working on my next post for Monday's Featured Quilt of the Week. It crossed my mind, and apparently kept right on going as I never thought of it again until yesterday morning when my daughter gently reminded me that we were a day late in getting the post up. Well, I can only offer the excuse of it being a busy time of year . . . and I will say right here and how that I may be using the same excuse for all over-looked things in my life from now until maybe January 2nd. Or 3rd? Couple that with my website administrator's (i.e. daughter's) frustrating lack of Internet service yesterday, and, well, you get the picture.

But now down to business. This week we're featuring "Pastel Pinwheels."

This is such a sweet, sweet quilt. The size is 32-3/4" x 44-1/4" and the thinner polyester batting makes it a light weight quilt.

Each time I look at it, I think of it as being perfect for a newborn. The color scheme is appropriate for either a little boy or girl.

It's made with what is sometimes referred to as "cheater's cloth." The top is a whole piece of fabric which has the pinwheel design printed on it.

But because I did a large amount of quilting on it, which makes every "blade" of each pinwheel stand out, it is hard to tell that it's not pieced in the traditional manner.

This is a quilt that would be treasured for years to come. Not too heavy for a little one to become attached to and carry around. As with all my quilts, it's very washable and will only get softer with age.

If you're needing a special gift for a little one this Christmas, this would be a lasting (and much appreciated) present to give.

I hope your holiday preparations are going smoothly . . . and that you're better able to keep track of everything than I am!

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Yo-Yo" Wreaths

While going through the box of Christmas tree decorations yesterday, I came across these "quilted" wreath ornaments.

I made them sometime in the 90s when it seems they were very popular among quilters around here.

They're made up of 15-16 yo-yos which you make in the regular way but just before pulling the yo-yo shut with the gathering thread around the edge, you put a cotton ball inside to make it poofy. Then the yo-yos (I've long forgotten what size circle to start with) are threaded together and joined to form a wreath shape, about 3-1/2"-4" across. Add a metallic string or ribbon for a hanger and hang it on the tree or on a knob for decoration around the house.

Now they look a little kitschy to me and I haven't used mine in years, but lordy, lordy, I made and gave away a bunch of them! I wonder how many other little quilted gifts I've inflicted on people that no longer look as cute as I once thought they did?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

On My Design Wall

Blast and dang. As the days of December march on, I feel the possibility of time in my quilt studio slipping away from me.

I woke up too early yesterday morning (low capacity bladder) and couldn't fall back to sleep so got up and got a couple of unexpected hours of quilting in . . . which was nice.

Then this morning, the night owl who sleeps next to me needed a couple of extra hours of sleep after I got up (I had conked out before 9 PM last night) and I didn't want to make any noise to wake him so I headed for the quilt studio at the other end of the house for more early morning work.

I decided to reward myself for getting the checkbook balanced and up-to-date (a job I hate because numbers do weird things in my presence) so I got a couple more hours in this afternoon on my latest baby quilt.

This is basically a scrappy 9-patch, I suppose. I think it will end up three blocks across and four down. Don't know yet whether I'll put any kind of an outer border on it or just finish off with the binding. It's looking like it's gonna be fairly good sized just as is.

As I say, other holiday type things are calling to me daily so who knows when this will progress any farther. My metabolism doesn't allow me too many early, early mornings in which to quilt because then by 6:00 at night I'm totally worthless. Gotta get those long nights of beauty sleep, ya know.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jumping on the Apron Bandwagon

There are so many cute apron patterns that are popular these days. One that I've been wanting to make for a while is the "Lilly Apron" by Busy Bee Quilt Designs (www.busybeequiltdesigns.com). And if anybody should get into the habit of wearing an apron when in the kitchen, it's me. You wouldn't believe how many articles of good clothing I've ruined with cooking stains.

Right before Thanksgiving I finally took the time to make this one up.

Easy to make and comfortable to wear. (Does this apron make my butt look big?)

When my daughter saw me wearing it on Thanksgiving Day, the first thing she said was, "Oh, please make me one like that for Christmas!"

Actually, truth be told, that was the second thing she said. The first was, "You really look pregnant in that." I didn't care, didn't bother me a bit. As I say, it's a comfy apron and I wore it all day!

I'm even thinking of making a couple more and wearing them regularly to save my wardrobe from bad things that happen in the kitchen. Sounds like a good plan.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Miniature Quilt Ornaments Done

Each of these little miniature quilts measures 2-1/2" to 3" square and they were really fun to do.

The hardest part was the binding. I made my binding strips only 1-1/4" wide.

You know how when you're sewing the binding on a quilt, you get going along really well on a straight side and then you come to a corner and it slows you down?

Well, on these little thingamabobs, it seems like I could take only about five stitches and I was to another corner.

But then again, I guess that made the binding go quickly. Just not much to 'em.

Now I'm starting to wonder just what gifts I should apportion them out to. (I plan on tying them on the top of packages and then the recipients can use them as tree ornaments if they wish.) Maybe I need to make more of them. (Somebody stop me, please!) Nope. I think this is gonna have to be my quota for this year. I'm crossing this little project off my list and moving on to other Christmas things.