Thursday, April 6, 2017

Diamond Rings

A long time ago, I started making a 4-patch quilt like my great grandma's. Matching prints, vintage aqua background instead of the green. Lots of 4.5" pieces left over.

As you know, I LOVE making quilts out of scraps of other quilts (like Mermaid School and Tiny Seas).

As I was sewing the top for my great grandma quilt, I couldn't stop thinking about what I'd do with the scraps. I was pretty sure I wanted to try a stacked coin quilt. Once the other quilt top was finished, I quickly sewed scraps together into rows and put them up on the design wall.

I didn't like it. I wasn't inspired by the layout. I started moving things around, playing with the stacks.

When I finally tried this diamond design, I was hooked. Except, I didn't have enough scraps! So, I cut more 4.5" pieces and got back to sewing.

I absolutely LOVE how this quilt turned out. It's so fun and pretty. Of all the quilts I've ever made, this and the unfinished great grandma quilt are the most "me" in terms of colors and fabrics. Vintage feedsack reprints, pink/green/aqua/navy, apples and chickens and flowers. Perfection!!

I gave this quilt to my friend Mary, a fellow lover of vintage fabrics and chickens. She, like me, is a maker of things, a creator and doer. I love giving quilts to people who know what it takes to make things. There's a common bond, an understanding, an appreciation. It's a good feeling, one of the best.

Monday, March 27, 2017

She Thinks of Her

Fabric petals fall, a field of wildflowers cut and left to blow away. Picked up by loving hands, gathered together.

A daisy chain of fabric. A little quilt top, too small to be of use. Too precious to leave unfinished. In the darkness, patiently, she waits until she's needed. Sleepy flowers, nodding heavily.

When it's time, she wakes. A backing, a bed of moss. Tiny stitches, sewn by hand, footpaths through the woods. Her rough edges bound in cotton voile, soft as wildflower petals. All this time, she thinks of her.

She is on her way, a dandelion seed on the wind. A silly little quilt, light as air. She wants nothing more than to be loved by her, a quiet friend, a lovely mystery. A kindred spirit, a field of wildflowers cut and left to blow away. She is coming to gather her together. She holds out her hands...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Twinkling Stars

Have you met Jen, my very best quilting friend in all the land?

Jen and I have spent countless hours planning quilts, talking about fabric, calculating sizes, working through ideas. We talk about more than just quilts, of course. And she even talked me into going on a cruise and we had so much fun!

Our friendship started after she found my blog years ago. I remember she emailed me and it was so funny...she basically said "I've decided we're going to be friends."

And that was fine with me!

One of our best crazy quilt schemes was inspired by the Twinkling Stars quilt by The Little Red Hen. We both really wanted to make this quilt and we got the idea to share stars. I'd make enough for a quilt and send her half my stars. And she'd send half of hers.

Friendship quilts are so much better than friendship necklaces!

For Christmas 2015, Jen sent me her stars...only, she sent me ALL of her stars. Rather than sending half back to her, I decided to send a finished quilt instead.

I had such a fun time making this quilt! I backed it with all the mustard roses print I had left in my stash and filled in the rest with scraps. And check out that sweet Anna Maria Horner plaid binding! My favorite binding ever!

Jen loves her quilt which makes me so happy! And I'm excited to make mine someday, maybe this year? My plate is filling up quickly, I have 5 quilts I want to finish this weekend which means, of course, I might finish one.

This is officially my first finished quilt of 2017. I finished 15 last year (and 15 the year before that) you think I can finish more than that this year? I hope so!!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Hearts and Arrows

What do you do when someone asks for a quilt with hearts and arrows on it? You make a quilt with hearts and arrows on it!

I offered to make my sister in law Heather a quilt last year. And after she finished exclaiming her excitement (she really is the best at showing excitement and appreciation, it's so rewarding!) we got to talking about colors and pattern.

She picked a color scheme pretty quickly and for the pattern, left it up to me to interpret her "hearts and arrows" request.

After a few sketches and layouts and talking through ideas with my friend Jen and asking Ian for his opinion (she's his sister, after all) and toying with the idea of a double-sided quilt and then giving up on that and combining the two layouts I liked most and, yes, buying a few new prints (I wanted some heart and arrows fabrics and some lighter prints), I finally started piecing.

And I pieced, and pieced, and pieced. I used this tutorial to make the arrows and this tutorial to make the hearts.

And once all the blocks were pieced, I started piecing the background from the same low volume prints as the arrows. And then I pieced a huge blank space in the center.

And then I traced a picture of Heather's crossed arrows tattoo and blew it up super huge and pieced it and appliqued it to the top.

And then came the meltdown before Christmas when my machine decided that stitches were for losers and started skipping them when free motion quilting.

After some tears and a glass of wine, I realized that I was going about the quilting all wrong. What this quilt really needed was echo quilting using the crossed arrows as a guide. OBVIOUSLY!!!

I marked the entire quilt with a hera marker, quilted it and painstakingly bound it (after quilting beautifully, my machine skipped so many stitches on the binding!).

And when it was done, I actually thought "if I die tomorrow, I'll die happy." I knew that every second of making this quilt was worth it. Every single stitch!

I have never been prouder of a quilt or of my abilities as a quilter. The design was challenging, the color palette and use of low volume fabrics was new for me, and I appliqued a freaking tattoo onto a freaking quilt! I can't believe how much I love the quilting! I'm so proud of myself for figuring out exactly what the quilt needed and for having the patience to do it right. I will be forever grateful to Heather for giving me such a challenge, to have pushed me to a new level as a quilter. I've made over 50 quilts in 11 years and I can't wait to see what the next 50 will look like! I have so many ideas, so little time. I can't wait to make the most of it!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Red and White

I love red and white quilts. I know that red and white quilts have been popular for forever but I really don't know anything about the historical significance. What I do know is that I've loved pretty much every red and white quilt I've ever seen and hoped to someday make one for myself.

red white

I'm happy to say that in September of 2016 I got close to accomplishing that goal. I did manage to make a red and white quilt, but instead of making it for myself, I gave it away to a friend.

My friend Linda had a bad accident this past summer and I thought a quilt was just the thing to cheer her up. Bright, cheery reds? Check! Simple pattern? Check! Non-wiggly quilting (Linda hates "wiggly" quilting)? Double check!!

red white2

I LOVE this quilt. I love simple squares and the checkerboard effect is just so satisfying. Also, I used up a great many number of my red prints. As sad as I was to see some of them go, I just knew they had to go in this quilt. It was time.

red white3

I was worried that some of the fabric would bleed, especially since I had issues on my last mostly white quilt AND the back for this quilt was also made out of red fabric. But, everything looked just fine.

To keep the contrast high, I choose only fabrics with little touches of white. But I just had to make an exception for my favorite kerchief girls. I look at this quilt and just feel happy, feel a sense of calm and accomplishment. I love how a simple quilt can do all that.

red white4

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Tiny Seas

A lot of the time, when I'm working on a quilt, I'll keep all the scraps together until I'm finished. Oftentimes they're the same size and are fun to sew back together. I LOVE making one quilt out of the scraps of another and usually the second quilt is my favorite!

Tiny Seas is a quilt made out of scraps from my Mermaid School quilt. Those angled pieces left a lot of scraps. Precious Mendocino and Neptune scraps! You all know how much I treasure both and never want to waste a single piece.

I really loved what happened when I paired two prints together. To me, these blocks look like an ocean dollhouse, each room a little scene into another world. Some rooms are sandy shallows, some are murky depths.

This quilt is backed with large pieces of brown, orange and aqua Kona cotton solids and bits of Mendocino. I gave this quilt to friends who were immediately enamored of the sea creatures swimming around. I can't blame them, I do love this quilt!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Stashbusting - Progress!

Oh goodness, it feels good to be back to sewing and stashbusting. My machine was acting terribly at the end of 2016 and after just barely making it through finishing up a Christmas quilt (I was literally in tears from frustration), I sent it off to be fixed.

A few weeks went by for repairs and then a few weeks when I didn't feel like sewing. And now I'm back and so excited to finish up some quilts! But, before I jump back in to stashbusting again, I thought a progress report would be fun.

Since I started this whole crazy thing back in August 2016, I have completed two totally new quilts (as in, NOT a wip), sewed backs for at least 10 finished quilt tops (I didn't keep track and I only quilted two of them, both were gifts) and sewed binding for all the quilts that are waiting to be quilted. I also made a dozen or so small flannel blankets that I donated to the memory care center where my mom volunteers.

I probably used up about 50 yards of quilting fabric and 30 yards of flannel. Maybe more? It's hard to say since I'm not officially keeping track.


When I look at my shelves now, I see very little difference besides maybe neater fabric piles. But, when I look closer, there are actually differences. For one thing, every piece of fabric I own that isn't a wip is now on the shelves. That includes bolts of fabric that I didn't have pictured last time AND two new bolts for an upcoming project (I know, but it had to be done). Also on the shelves now are vintage sheets/tablecloths, silks and apparel fabrics. I had no room for these before so that's an accomplishment!

I also consolidated enough to make a little space for my basting spray, rotary cutter and scissors. And finally, I got rid of the stuff that was piled up on top of the wooden baskets (mostly batting and wips). Most of my stuff now fits IN the baskets, with a few exceptions because I'm lazy and sometimes just toss stuff up there and it pokes out the top.

Now that every finished top has a back/binding, I'm going to move on to wips. I have maybe a dozen or so quilts that are just blocks or pieces. And then, of course, I'll make backs/binding for those. I have two quilt tops that have been claimed by friends so I'll be quilting those up soon (good thing I already have backings and bindings for them!).

My next goal is to clear enough shelf space to stop double stacking at least some of my white scrap bins. I'm much better about putting things away when I can just drop scraps into the right basket.

Alright, that's enough for now. I'll be posting some finished quilts this week, I'm way behind!