To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
This is the last quilt I finished in 2017. Although I didn’t make most of the blocks, I’m counting it as one of “my” quilts for record-keeping purposes, since I came up with the project, managed the block collection, and put it all together. I also quilted it and bound it by hand (the first in a long time). Of course, I couldn’t have done it without all the work my guild members put into the blocks—I’m so thankful for what they gave me to work with!
My local MQG is continuing to grow and evolve, and this year we had our first changeover in presidents. We wanted to honor our founding president, and decided to make—what else?—a quilt.
We asked members to provide a signature block of their choosing in one of three block sizes. Additional requests were to use a light gray background and only solid fabrics. Beyond that, they were welcome to do any style of block they wanted.
I volunteered to head up the project, including the task of piecing everything together. One member spied some modern letter blocks on a Pinterest board curated by the recipient and chose to make those up instead of a single block. Inspired by them and one block that came in with a darker background than all the others, I ended up making two ‘tops’ for a double-sided quilt. The Thank You side has a few other blocks submitted by members that fit especially well on that side, and the other collects the remaining blocks.
The result was a quilt that channels both the guild and our president emeritus. We gifted her the quilt at our December meeting. I never did take any good photos, esp. since I finished hand-sewing the binding about 10 hours before our meeting (and slept most of the rest).
Adherence to the block rules was mixed, but it all worked out in the end. If I were to run a similar collection in the future, I would change the requests based on what I learned. Here are a few guidelines that worked well or that I wish I’d implemented (hindsight and all that).
Tips for block collection:
Decide how exacting you need to be. If they don’t follow the rules, will you still use the blocks or will you refuse them? Provide a disclaimer about using/not using a block, cutting blocks apart, restructuring them, etc.
Be very, very clear about block size. Give unfinished size for best results.
If it matters to you, specify an ink color to use for signing.
Be prepared to adjust your vision if you design the quilt before receiving all of the blocks.
Set a deadline and be firm. Make sure to publicize the deadline clearly.
If people donate materials to finish the quilt and you intend to return anything that is unused, keep track of who sends what. Or, consider passing on the rest to the quilt recipient if she is also a quilter.
Provide a visual guide when specifying something like “light gray” or “channel Jane’s style”.
Somehow, almost 50 members were able to keep this completely secret from the recipient, and she was completely surprised when we presented it at our December meeting. I call that a success!
I finished this in late May 2017, but just got around to taking all the photos!
In the fall of 2016, I shared progress on a long term project—a meta quilt, if you will—containing a block for each quilt I’ve finished. At the time, I still had a few blocks to make for older quilts, and have finished another four quilts in the months since.
At my guild’s spring retreat in May, I took along scraps I’d pulled out for a few more blocks, and came home with the energy to finish up the final four. That energy extended to putting rows together (quilt-as-you-go style), then finishing the edges with a facing. It ran out right around the time I needed to take photos and blog about it, as seems the norm of late.
Each quilt has a nine patch dedicated to it. Each block has at least one square of Cloud9 Cirrus Ash as a cornerstone, and as many 2″ finished squares of the original fabric as I could scrounge up. Some quilts only had a few fabrics in them, and some I only had a few fabric scraps leftover, so extra space is filled in with the grey solid. I had no scraps for a few quilts, so those are represented by a solid block of the right color (or, in one case, an approximation of a logo for my alma mater).
Each block is rotated 90° along the row, which means my fussy cutting is sideways or upside down, but that’s okay. I found additional scraps after I’d already finished a few blocks and set them into the quilt, but decided to leave them be. They still capture the spirit of the quilts.
I put the rows together in a quilt-as-you-go method, so there’s no true quilting, except for a stitch in the ditch 2″ in from the edge that secured the facing to the back.
Here it is, row-by-row, with links to posts about each quilt. All told, there are 48 blocks representing that many quilts from my very first in 2010 to a few baby quilts finished in early 2017.
I completed my 49th quilt at the same retreat and completed another three throughout the rest of 2017, so there’s no slowing down yet! Maybe in another seven years or so, I’ll have another 48 blocks to finish a second panel. My goal is to keep making panels, then sew the panels together to form an ever-larger quilt.
I may also eventually embroider years in the corner gray patch of the first quilt of the year, and add more info to a label on the back side. For now, I think this is going to hang in my studio if I can ever clean it up enough to have space for it.
This is quilt three of four that I’m behind in blogging about from 2017, and was the 5th baby quilt of the year (of seven total quilts)! I threw it together quickly in October, trying to beat his birth. Then it sat around in my house waiting for me to remember to ship it, so was a few months late, just like this post.
This has been the year of baby quilts, it seems. Or the year where only baby quilts were prioritized, perhaps. A baby boy is joining a family of three girls who have already received quilts marking their births (Impressions Baby Quilt, Noble Blooms, Jewelry Box), so after finding out, I quickly set out to make one for him, too.
I dug into my stash for inspiration, and found a charm pack from the line Apple Hill Farm. It was a small pack though, containing only 23 charms. After wracking my brain for a good, quick design that goes well with 5-inch precut squares, I settled on a disappearing nine-patch layout that needed 36 patterned charms. I dug through my scrap bin and cannibalized a few coordinating charms from other packs, and ended up with enough. I paired the printed charms with two greens from stash (Kona Cactus and Limelight), and one last print—Cotton+Steel blue confetti dots—to tie everything together.
I posted about disappearing nine-patch blocks a long while ago. They make a great pattern that is simple to piece, since you start with large pieces and slice the nine-patch blocks apart to create the look of complex, smaller piecing. For this design, the four corners were patterned fabrics, the centers were blue dots, and the solid green filled out the middles. I mixed the greens on a couple of the nine-patch blocks to let me shift between the two colors within the quilt. I didn’t have quite enough of either green to do the whole quilt, so I wanted to get a little creative with using the two.
I quilted it with an all-over angular meander using a light blue 40wt Aurifil thread. I don’t know if it was the thread, the unknown high-poly-content, low-loft batting (from the scrap drawer), or my machine, but this was a nightmare to quilt. I started out trying to free-motion quilt it, but after 4 broken needles, skipped stitches, and a few thread breaks, I switched to my walking foot. Jacquie Gering’s Walk (thanks for the b-day present, Mom!) talked about using reverse on sections of designs like this, and that was a brilliant tip.
It’s backed with a navy dimple dot cuddle fabric and bound with a red print from a Sock Monkey collection that I’ve been hoarding since the early days of my quilting hobby. It comes in a bit smaller than the three quilts for his sisters, but it’s still a nice play mat size. Alas, the poor guy won’t be getting a hand-made stuffy any time soon like his sisters did. Maybe I’ll get my act together by his first birthday!
I hope you’re all having wonderful holidays. I was hoping to get 100% caught up on blogging my 2017 finishes… we’ll see. So far, I’ve done a lot of nothing productive on my days off work.
This is another quilt that I finished months ago—September to be precise. I finished everything but the binding at my guild’s fall retreat with the deadline of a baby shower looming the following weekend. Life had other plans, and we had to fly back to MO that weekend due to the funeral of my step-mother. I finished the binding a couple weeks later and still gifted it well before my friend’s baby girl came into the world. My friend seemed a little unwilling to share the quilt with her baby though (at least, when I gifted the quilt)—a true compliment!
I really love it when I stumble upon my motivation trifecta: a spark of design inspiration, a stack of fabric that calls to me, and a (somewhat loose, but looming) deadline. That happened here, and sparked off the creation of one of my favorite finishes yet.
The design inspiration came from a rug I found online. Something about the triangle designs and arrangement really caught my eye. The fabric inspiration came from a stack of fat quarters of the full range of colors in Cloud9’s Cirrus Solids collection. I think I’ve talked about their solids before, but I love, love, love them. They are yarn dyed (but with the same color weft and warp), and have much more depth than your typical solid. The rainbow of colors kept drawing my eye as it sat on my shelf, and seemed perfect for this project.
Finally, the reason to make the quilt: the upcoming birth of a good friend’s first baby, gender unknown. This friend is a constant source of inspiration to me in our quest to get more women involved in tech, and is artistic herself, so I was happy to have everything click in place to come up with a design and finished quilt that I’m proud of and that I think she’ll really dig (and hopefully her small new human will too).
At first, I had triangles that were drawn a little more free-form, with varying sizes of stripes, and planned to paper piece them. I was inspired by a trunk show that Amy Friend gave my guild, along with her book Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design. But, paper piecing—especially at the scale of these triangles—just doesn’t seem to click for me, so I fell back on basic piecing and simplified my triangles into pieces that were straight-forward to calculate (or, in the case of the angles, to put a strip of tape on a ruler for consistency).
I paired the Cloud9 solids with about two yards of Essex Yarn Dyed (Indigo, if I remember correctly). For her registry, my friend focused on greens and grays, so paired with the rainbow of solids, this read as a good neutral gray. On the back is a solid swath of green Minky that has a tile texture. I used Quilter’s Dream low-loft cotton batting, and bound it in a rainbow of scraps from the front, plus a little bit of a black and white print to get enough length.
I ended up with a spare triangle that I miscut, which inspired me to whip up a gift bag to go along with the quilt (or, as something for mom to carry around?). The lining is pieced of strips of a few of the colored solids, and the straps are also scrappy, making use of the fabric I had left of the fat quarters. I didn’t work from a pattern from the bag, just memory of making similar ones—it finished at around 14x16x2″, and I used Pellon 101 to interface the outer fabric.
From a technical standpoint, this isn’t my best quilt—some points are missing due to in-progress design decisions and bad math, and the binding just didn’t want to go on all that well, in part because the Minky had different pile lengths. But, it still ranks high on my list of favorite designs.
It’s been some kind of a year. I have four quilts that I’ve finished but not blogged about, starting with this one that was finished back at a quilting retreat in May. I never did get around to getting more photos of it before giving it to my mother-in-law just prior to her starting chemotherapy in July. I’m hoping to catch up on posting the others between now and the end of the year. We’ll see!
Once upon a time, I was involved with two different monthly sampler quilts at the same time. Then I moved halfway through the year and this one ended up with five finished blocks in a box, one unfinished block kit, and a no urge to piece them into a top. This one especially didn’t call to me—it’s really not my style at all, and no amount of sketching could change my apathy (to be blunt). But, I’ve been on a mission to clean out my old works in progress, and realized at the guild retreat last fall that I could go super simple with the layout, try a new technique (setting blocks on point), and end up with a reasonably-sized quilt with minimal effort. So, armed with six 12″ squares and three yards of a dark blue tonal fabric, I went to work.
Setting blocks on-point isn’t that difficult, it just requires a few 4-letter words—one of which is math. The most important number is the square root of 2 (√2, or 1.414), followed closely by remembering that you add 7/8″ to a square for triangle seam allowances (think half-square triangles).
The other thing to consider is your fabric’s grain and bias. The reason we cut corner triangles as half square triangles, but side or setting triangles as quarter-square triangles is so that the outer edge is always on-grain, which makes those edges less likely to warp as we add borders or binding. (A secondary reason is to keep directional prints facing the right way.) A good tip when sewing your setting and corner triangles to your blocks is to always have the bias edge on the bottom, touching the feed dogs. That way the presser foot doesn’t stretch the bias edge (less of an issue for sewing machine brands with even feed feet or if piecing with a walking foot). That said, I broke the rules for a couple setting squares to conserve fabric (quarter-square triangles eat up fabric!) as I feel comfortable working with the bias while piecing borders and my fabric was non-directional. Do what works for you.
I talked about four of the blocks back in 2013. The other two are “True Blue” and “The Windmill” (which actually contains five windmills). I added a 6″ border on all sides to bring the size up to 46″x63″.
While digging through my reproduction fabrics scrap box for other scraps, I realized I actually had yardage stored in the box! So, the backing of the quilt is made from the remaining blue tonal, a half yard of a Windham repro, and the rest of a dark red solid (also used for binding). I used Quilter’s Dream Wool batting because I had a package on hand and to see how I like it for possible future projects (I was not a fan of quilting it, but it does make for a nice quilt).
It’s quilted in a mix of a modified Baptist Fan pattern and echoed scallops using a navy Aurifil 50wt. While I liked how the fans looked, I honestly got really bored quilting them, so switched to the much faster scallops. It’s machine bound in a solid with a little scrap of piecing leftover from a block. I’m happy to have another old work in progress finished!
Special thanks to Trista for holding the quilt, and Basin Harbor Club for the awesome location. The view was much better than my photography skills.
I’ve thought about making a hexagon quilt for years now. I even bought the Hex-n-More ruler two years ago to get started, but then couldn’t come up with the right project at the right time. However, the arrival of our friends’ twin babies and a stack of fat quarters from Birch Fabric’s Bear Camp (plus a few other fabrics thrown in) gave me the perfect excuse to make two hexie quilts—although I settled on half hexies to take into account faster piecing (the babies came quite early!) and cutting layout efficiency.
These 42″ x 54″ quilts use the 8″ half hexie size of the Hex-n-More ruler and were simple to piece row by row. I did a rough layout in Illustrator to try to spread the colors around somewhat evenly (also between the two quilts), although the final products are a little less random than planned—I didn’t do a good job of spreading around the prints, just the colors.
I mixed in a glittery gray, magenta shot cotton, and lavender Cotton+Steel polka cats into one quilt, then used the warmer red and orange Bear Camp prints paired with a solid orange (Cloud9?) in the other to make distinct, but similar, quilts for the brother and sister pair. A cluster of three solid hexies was the perfect background for machine embroidering their initials on the quilt. I originally planned to do a three-letter monogram, but couldn’t figure out how to place letters for proper readability in the cluster, so went with just first and last initial in the center.
The quilts are both backed with a gray cuddle fabric, and quilted by echoing the hexie outlines. I used coordinating, but not precisely matching thread for the quilting, as it was already on my shelf in the right quantity. The magenta version was a nightmare—I tried three different threads and a variety of needles and still ended up with skipped stitches that I can’t figure out (other projects have gone fine in the mean time). I had to rip out so many lines of stitching. I ended up leaving in a few lines of magenta that had fewer skipped stitches (and sewed a line of pink next to them), because I was at my wits’ end with ripping. Warm & Plush batting is in between (a higher-loft version of Warm & Natural), to make for very cuddly quilts.
This is the first time I’ve ever used Birch Fabrics’ fabric. They’re an organic cotton provider, but none of my local shops carry them. I grabbed the bundle from Massdrop (mixed feelings) late last year, knowing that I had a few baby quilts to make in the coming year. Overall, they’re a decent substrate to work with, but fair warning: they have very large (sometimes >1.5″!) selvages.
They’re both finished off with a new label style I made. I dropped the QR code, and left room to one side to add a personal note. I took photos prior to writing in a quick note for each baby.
I finished these up in April, but just recently had the chance to deliver them. Stay tuned for one more recent finish coming up shortly.
Spring has been a whirlwind so far. I am terribly behind on blogging about my finished projects. I have three completed quilts (two that are waiting to be delivered, the other finished this weekend at my guild’s spring retreat). This has been finished for a couple of months!
It started with a challenge of colors. Five of them, four greens, one yellow. Of course, none are fashionable; the greens are all slightly different from the famed 2017 Pantone Color of the Year, the yellow a bit too off-trend. Then there’s a challenge of size. 18″ square. Constraints like this are helpful to me when it comes to challenges.
The lacking part was inspiration, until I scrolled through Instagram and came upon this lovely bit of mixed-media art by @aykceramics and @aleksandrazee.
Which, of course, introduced another challenge as said design doesn’t translate well into squares and blocks.
But through y-seams and trial and error, it came together.
The fabrics weren’t perfect. If I were making this again, I’d make sure the two lighter greens had slightly more contrast, and the darkest be a little more vibrant. I finally dug out my package of Quilter’s Dream Orient batting (a blend of cotton, bamboo, silk, and tencel) that I’ve had for years, thinking this was the right project to use it for. I quilted it with a perfectly matching Coats & Clark variegated green 30wt that came in a goody bag at some point (kismet). I like how the thread weight helps highlight the design lines, even as it blends in and out.
I finished it with facing instead of binding, incorporating a hanging sleeve into the finish. My corners aren’t perfect, but the green and yellow make me dream of daffodils popping up in this very slow-to-start spring we’re having in Vermont.
This and those of my guild mates will be on display at VQF in June. It’s a very eclectic mix of minis.
Kona Corn Yellow
In an effort to create tools for education and promotion of modern quilting, my guild started a challenge series (of sorts) a while back that we call “Make it Modern”. Members are encouraged to take a traditional block, make it up in an 18″ quilted square, then make a second one “modern”. The goal is to explore some of the aesthetic differences that exist between modern and more traditional quilting when it comes to fabric selection, quilting, and styling of a block. We have a collection of the blocks now that we are able to take to demonstrations and talks, as well as providing a quick programming bit at our meetings when a member presents their block pair.
After giving and organizing a few talks for local traditional guilds about modern quilting, I noticed that we were missing a good example of pixelation, which has been a trend in modern quilting. Since I’d signed up (many months in advance) to do a Churn Dash block, I decided to play around in Illustrator to see if I could come up with something that evoked the look of the traditional block, but allowed for me to piece ‘pixels’ that weren’t too incredibly small for an 18″ mini.
The traditional churn dash is straightforward—four half square triangles, a center square, and side rectangles, made from fabric I purchased early in my quilting journey. The more traditional text print is a great foil to the more modern, low-volume math print used in the other block. I stitched in the ditch to quilt it, because I didn’t feel like FMQ at the time for something more advanced.
The super technical details modern details: I drew a vector churn dash, shrank it to 0.15″, rasterized it, then blew it back up to 18″. I played around with different sizes prior to rasterizing, but this was the best combination of “still looks like a churn dash if you squint” and “has big enough pieces (1.5″) that I won’t hate making it” I found.
The more quilty modern details: after I had my design, I broke it up into blocks that let me piece as few 1.5″ squares together as possible (but, I was winging it, so there could be even more efficiencies I didn’t think of). I used a low-volume white math/text print from the stash as background, and two greens (Kona Peapod and Kona Limelight) that are just a little different so that you really get the pixelated blend from far away (that is, the farther away you are, the more it looks like it’s a normal (perhaps fuzzy) churn dash). I quilted it in geometric spirals, starting with a churn dash shape as a nod to the original block.
And here’s what it looks like once we take photos and drop it in a template to publish on Instagram and Facebook for the guild. I love the way this project has encouraged me to think about the different ways modern quilting can be expressed, and it’s been amazing to see the creativity of my fellow guild members in how they approach their own make it modern blocks.
It’s becoming quite the thing for me to start off the year with a baby quilt for friends or family. This year’s is incredibly hard for me to let go of as it’s one of my favorite quilts to date, but alas, it’ll look cuter with a newborn on it.
I decided to do a straight-forward representation of the different shapes and their arrangement in the photograph, but wanted to inject color and pattern to make it more kid-friendly. Since the quilt is for the daughter of one of my instructors and his wife (and fellow student), I wanted to incorporate a subtle (or not subtle) nod to our discipline into the design. Thus, the colors of the shapes are the eight colors of belts in our ranking system (in no particular order). The prints are mostly small-scale, pulled from fabric I already had. I can’t get over the cute little pandas in the white stripe.
Piecing this really pushed my skills in a way I’ve shied away from in the past. I had a few rough measurements, but did a lot of the piecing improv. The central angle was nerve-wracking, but I managed it with no ripping involved, mostly by using partial seams and a lot of patience.
The back of the quilt is pieced from the super cute cat polkadots from Cotton+Steel and a strip of the colors from the front to give me the length needed. The quilt was just narrow enough to use the width of fabric, which limited the piecing I needed to do. The batting is Warm & Natural, as I had a crib-sized package laying around.
I also approached the quilting improvisationally, doing each section at a time with whatever spoke to me. Most of it was done with a walking foot, but the green section was free-motion quilted. There’re straight lines, loops, orange peels, zig-zags, serpentine stitches, and more. Each section was done in matching thread. The red binding echoes the belts of our experienced black belts in addition to providing a contrasting frame.
I hadn’t yet ordered new labels for the year with the appropriate year and qr code on them, so I used just the logo and name section from an old leftover. I’m beginning to think it’s time for something new, though I haven’t yet decided what I want to do going forward. For now, this one’s got the basics, and has already been delivered when our newest (just a few days-old) white belt made a surprise visit to say hello to last week’s class.
A word of advice: when heading to retreats, give yourself plenty of time to pack and consider projects. I waited until the last minute and only had some half-baked ideas. One of those was finishing up my 2013 Saturday Sampler projects in some way. I considered how to do so before leaving for the retreat, but rather than sketching something out, I just wrote down a few measurements and required materials, then tossed the box containing the finished blocks in with everything else I was taking. That’s the obscure way of saying that this quilt is nothing like what I’d planned, but hey, it’s a finished project!
Cotton’s Etc. in Wampsville, NY ran this sampler back in 2013. I only attended for four months before we moved to VT, so I wasn’t working with much for this quilt. I went to the retreat with the four completed 12″ blocks, a half-yard of supposedly matching white, and low-loft cotton batting pieced together from scraps.
On the Saturday of the retreat, we took a quick road trip to a local store running a moving sale, and picked up most of the rest of what I’d need—a yard for borders that coordinated pretty well, and 1.5 yds of lovely cuddle backing. The gray binding came from my stash at home.
I realized after I pieced the top together that my notes mentioned putting all four blocks in a row with lots of negative space to quilt that would read a lot more modern. Oh well. Instead, I put together a very basic, traditional sashed and bordered layout to turn the blocks into a 44″ square quilt. I’ve no current plans for it, but it’ll likely be a baby gift or charity donation sometime in the near future.
I put the quilt sandwich together at the retreat, then brought it home to quilt. I should have redone the basting before starting to quilt, as I cut corners at the retreat since I didn’t have a big space to secure the backing and batting to. I managed quilt it without too many tucks or bubbles, but it’s not my best work. The quilting is all straight-line with a mix of 40wt Gutermann (in the blocks) and 28wt Aurifil (borders and sashing). Some of the bobbin is a white 40wt poly Gutermann, and possibly even a bobbin-weight white cotton because I was scrounging around for the last bobbins and spools of white thread I had to use on this. I tried to do a wider-than-normal binding, but messed up the corners. Then, I did my worst machine binding attempt in recent history (possibly ever), resulting in an extra row of stitching all around.
The blocks are Snails Trail, Rolling 9-Patch, Rope & Anchor, and Hummingbird. The sampler was the ‘modern’ color-way option from the shop—which really just meant bright fabrics and a solid background as opposed to a country-ish food-themed fabric (if I recall correctly). In the intervening 3.5 years, I can’t remember what made me do it, but I made the green block with the back side of the fabric up, so it’s a little less vibrant than the others. I wish I knew why. I’m also not happy with the block placement—there are two fabric patterns, and I wish I’d alternated them rather than put them next to each other. Additionally, the whites are off between the blocks and sashing, which is doubly annoying since I purchased that specifically from them as coming from the same bolt of fabric.
In all, it’s not the best example of my skills, but I think that sometimes that’s okay. Regardless, it’s a candy-sweet quilt that I hope someone will love to cuddle under.