Category Archives: Quilts

Mission Accomplished: 2 Baby Quilts + 1 Scrap Throw Quilt

Carrie Bloomston fabric line

Carrie Bloomston’s fabric line available at Modern Quilting, Paradise Valley, AZ

Just back from the post office where I mailed the last of my trio of quilt projects. I won’t make Father’s Day with the delivery, but my dad knows his is on the way. So, would you like to see what I’ve accomplished this month (with the help of the talented long-arm quilter Renee Miller and the creative input of Heather Ripley at Modern Quilting in Paradise Valley, AZ)?

Ta-da! Three Quilts Conquered & Delivered!

Boy Baby Quilt front

The blue version  is for my niece’s newborn son.

Boy Baby Quilt detail front, back, & faced binding

A two-fer photo: quilting detail, backing, and faced binding.

Girl Baby Quilt Front--Carrie Bloomston fabric + others

The white version is for my nephew’s baby who will make her debut in a month or so. Hey, I was able to get one of my original quilt holders involved in the photo shoot. You can see the battered legs of my youngest son who used to make himself scarce when I needed a quilt holder. Got him this time!

Girl baby quilt back--Carrie Bloomston fabric

This Carrie Bloomston print was the inspiration for my fabric selection. Once I spotted this happy print, the notion of a quilt made of mini blocks of solid fabrics flew out the window.

Girl Baby Quilt front detail

Close-up of the quilting pattern. I selected the same design for all three quilts, although Renee kindly tightened up the gauge of the quilting design for my father’s quilt.

Dad's scrap throw quilt

I absolutely adore the simplicity of the design for my father’s quilt. I had a big pile of 3-inch squares left over from the baby quilts and opted to cut each in half in order to create a band of colorful slices. Love it!

Label for dad's scrap quilt

I made variant of this label for all three quilts. A little raw, a little handmade and referential to the fabrics used in the quilts.

What Happens After Conquering Three Quilts?

If you’ve read the news you’ll know that the Western U.S. is hot, hot, hot. So, what does a quilter do to avoid a furnace blast of heat? This quilt maker decided to tackle the leftover’s stash from the quilt trio in air-conditioned comfort. Yes, there was more fabric, but now there is much less. I’ve got to say this fourth quilt just might be my favorite so far. I got some interesting finishing details in the works . . . I’ll share soon!

Narrowed signatureQuilt #4 in the works

Stay tuned for further developments!

 

 

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Crazy Quilt-Making Ambition Goes Awry

3 quilts done!

She’s back at the sewing machine. She’s not too thrilled with the current sewing facilities, but she’s making do. Well, that’s my update. Imminent childbirth by two extended family members has me sewing baby quilts like a mad thing. I’m not complaining, it’s wonderful celebrating the arrival of a new baby with a colorful quilt. The madness comes from a naive notion of trying to use all the fabric I purchased. I think it’s locking me into a perpetual sewing cycle . . .

Perhaps that statement needs clarification. Two babies, two quilts: purchase one stash of fabric of sufficient yardage to make a pair of quilts and then make another from the leftover scraps. Three quilts from one fabric purchase. That was my goal.

Big Charming pattern by Denyse Schmidt

I started with a baby quilt model: Denyse Schmidt’s Big Charming quilt pattern. It’s pretty, modern, and super easy for someone who doesn’t actually have a dedicated sewing area for now. Also, my actual fabric stash lives in moving boxes and they are piled out of reach in the spare bedroom of our rental home. I whipped out the two quilts rather quickly, but choosing prints from Carrie Bloomston’s fabric line rather than solids took me down a divergent design path. (I will reveal the results after the tops are quilted.)

With the duo completed and the backing fabrics seamed and prepped, I turned to my leftover fabrics. Here’s the draft layout:

Test scrappy layout

I like it because it’s quick, informal, and casual. Although, I did have to purchase more fabric for backing . . . So here’s the thing I’ve come to realize about my thrifty-fabric-use goals:  I’m never going to be done once I add the backing leftovers from the long-arm quilter to the remnants from the first go-around. You know I’ll have to purchase more fabric to finish the projects . . . OMG!

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Design + Fabric + 720 Days = A Finished Quilt

A ghost Union Jack in place and quiltedBefore I got distracted by prepping a house for sale and then moving, I was a quilter on a mission. Mind you, it took me over two years and a lot of head bashing, but I got a mega quilt done just in time to pack up my quilt room.

The quilt was a personal commission from my dear friend Tara for her husband Peter, who was my flatmate during my college junior year abroad in England and is one of my all-time favorite people. London-born and bred, Peter was one of my go-to sources for all things British. Thankfully, our sojourn predates the smart-phone-era so I know he doesn’t have a record of an embarrassing episode when he caught me singing off-key and dancing about his room like a crazy, gawky fan-girl. The less said, the better–I won’t even reveal what singer made me swoon back in those days.

Anyway, back to the point of this post:  commission to tackle, no boundaries, no time frame, no consensus on theme. Tara and I started with a flurry of idea exchanges through Pinterest with little result. Making a quilt for a grown man isn’t easy because they typically aren’t all that jazzed by something that will ultimately be a bedspread. Ultimately, I was left with a strong conviction that I should cut to the chase and make something personal to Peter and so I compiled a few guidelines to spark my creativity: a color scheme suitable to their bedroom and decor, a desire to celebrate Peter’s roots, and a yen to incorporate some quirky things I knew about him in the design.

Color Scheme:  honey gold and bordeaux red to fit with their decor

Theme: a tried and true emblem of Englishness, the Union Jack

Quirky Details:  visual references to some of Peter’s faves and to his oddball sense of humor

Building a Union Jack quiltTara was game to the Union Jack theme when I showed her a sketch, but it took me two years to get from concept to completion. Hey, I had to take a creative journey with twists, turns, and dead ends before I could get a clear idea of how to tackle the project. The initial idea was somewhat Amish in inspiration: a square-in-a-square format.

Beginning the quilt layout

The central square would be composed of a large Union Jack with three smaller ones lined up below in the non-regulation color scheme of gold, burgundy, and French blue–the flag has three colors after all. The borders that would compose the outside square would be made of neutral patchwork blocks partnered with “ghost” Union Jacks and images printed on fabric that would resonate with Peter.

Paper piecing a ghost Union JackIn theory the basic layout should have been reasonably easy to build, but a true Union Jack has specific proportions and layout. I figured paper-piecing the quilt would be key to accuracy. Ha! I build the mirror image of the Union Jack the first time around . . . yes, there was abundant thread sacrificed to the cause of making Peter’s quilt!

Paper piecing the main Union JackI made a design adjustment once I read about the origins of the Union Jack that flies today. The national flag is built from the three flags that constitute the United Kingdom: the crosses of St. George (England), St. Andrew (Scotland), and St. Patrick (Northern Ireland). Well, okay, substitute that trio for the three smaller Union Jacks planned for the middle square. That turned out to be an excellent idea that simplified the paper-pieced flag-building process, which was sufficiently complicated by my decision to use strip-pieced fabric swatches. I was about 50% successful with that–true alignment would have blasted through a lot more fabric.

Building the smaller central flagsOnce the center block was finished, I moved on to the details I thought would amuse Peter. I transferred sepia-toned images onto printable silk organza and then fused them to fabric. You can see some of the images below: the logo from Peter’s favorite soccer team;  the Royal Pavilion, a royal palace near the university where we met; the name of his favorite band; among others. I wanted all the ghost Union Jacks and the other images to blend into the background. Can you find all five ghost flags in the border? Even I can’t!

Final layout

Here’s the completed quilt top just before I passed it on to Kathy August to quilt in simple, straight lines. You can just about see one major tweak I made to the design. There is often a disconnect between a sketch (not to scale) and execution of the design. In order to make the arithmetic work I added pencil-thin linen borders between the flags as well as linen bands to represent the edging for mounting flags. Completed Union Jack quilt

I ended up embroidering sets of grommets on those edges for the sake of authenticity–you can see my grommet-in-the-making below.

Details of final Union Jack: quilting, rivets and label

The best part of the project was giving the quilt to Peter. He was nonplussed and that was fantastic. He hadn’t a clue that Tara and I had been in cahoots years. It was by no means easy to stay on task as I had a lot going in that interval, but finally finding the way to express my regard for him was wonderful.

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