Posts Tagged ‘quilting’

Ok…. YES!  You all so absolutely knew I was starting a Christmas tree skirt.   Great minds think alike, right?  Well, with no suspension left, let’s get to work.

tree skirt piecing

I promptly slashed about 5 inches of each fabric, end to end, to make this pile of strips, ranging from 1-2″ wide. In the morning, the sun fell on it in such a lovely way. Who knew a pile of scraps could beckon me so?

But, when I pieced my very first triangle, I immediately started having second thoughts about that teal. Even though the Christmas spice prints have a tad of teal in them, the solid strip just stood out so much from all of the other warm shades.

I was set on proceeding sans teal, until it came to me in the shower (ah, for clear shower thoughts)… the teal is my only dark value. Remember those value quilts? Sew Katie Did suggests that if you’re not happy with your color choices, pay attention to value.  Now, I do want my skirt to have a range of values.  To me, that makes a quilt seem happy, full-of-life and also gender-neutral.  So here goes:

new fabrics

I added 2 black and white prints and a darker green textured fabric.  See how friendly they are with that teal?  I think they tip the overall warm/cool balance and help with depth of value.  Now, here’s the result:

a beginning

So, do you think that it works?  Please say yes!  Sometimes I think it looks a little nutso, but I remind myself that our Christmas decor has the personality of those multi-color vintage Christmas lights.  Not very subtle. And, hey, this is very merry, right?

In other news, Aria has discovered that she can actually, truly help me with this project by deciding on the order of strips for piecing.  I laid down a few rules (or the child would have chosen all prints!) and she was off.  I’ve really been sewing a lot of what she lays out, so this is a true collaborate effort.  Good memories, I’m sure!

helping mama arrange strips

I have a confession:  Aria is disappointed that none of these fabrics are designed by Anna Maria Horner.  She also hopes to meet the designer when we go to Nashville this month.  I suppose that reveals the depths of my affections for Ms. Horner (blush).  When we were working together today, Aria was shocked to discover that Anna Maria Horner makes solid fabrics.  Imagine THAT!  Perhaps that legitimizes my insistence on so many solid fabrics in this project to my little artist-to-be.

just a little mess

P.S.  The table, is just a little messy.


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Oh my, how I’ve enjoyed hand quilting Aria’s Fairytale Patchwork quilt!  The entire process has been so relaxing and satisfying, especially experimenting with different quilting patterns.  Here are a few new ones.

Quilted Diamonds

This pattern, quilted diamonds, ended up being my favorite style for quilting on the Princess and the Pea blocks.  It looks especially nice on this Diamond Mine (from Anna Maria Horner’s Little Folks collection) block, which actually inspired the quilting pattern.

Quilted Star

Here’s another fun one.  I only used this star pattern on a few unicorn blocks, as I came to the idea a bit late in the game.  I like how it works with the layout of the print!

Quilted Frame

And, a simple pattern.  It creates a clean-lined, understated effect that works on almost any block.

I’ve been asked how long the hand quilting takes.  Let me start by saying that 95% of the time, I was stitching while watching a show with my husband.  So, given frequent breaks to watch the screen and an overall level of comfortable distraction, each block took me about 45 minutes to complete.  I would begin a block by marking my stitch lines with a chaco pen, and then carefully centering the block in my quilting frame.   On the few occasions that I stitched sans TV, the work came along much faster.

I have now completed all 26 blocks.   The overall effect is fairly random, since I varied the quilting patterns enough so that no 2 touching blocks share the same pattern.  So, now, at last the quilt is finished.  And, for some reason that makes me sad.  I think I’ll just so miss the hand quilting!  How can I watch Alias empty-handed?  It just won’t be the same.  I definitely need a new handwork project.

Although this quilt is a gift from my  mother and I for Aria’s November birthday, we’ve agreed to give it to her now.  She’ll be so excited!  I’m dreaming of making a pillowcase from extra fabric scraps for a  birthday surprise.  Shhhhh!


Today at home.

Today at home



And, a new book to read, thanks to my sweet mother in law.

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I am so glad that our first round of charity quilt-making with do. Good Stitches is finally here!  I started the Flickr group in June, and was thrilled to see so many kindred spirits join up to do some good.  Because of summer travel plans, we decided to wait out July and make our first quilt this August.  I’ve been chomping at the bit to start!

{If you find yourself wishing you had joined in time, don’t hesitate to contact me!  I’m making a list for do. Good Stitches Too, a second group I expect to launch this fall.}

Piecing in Aqua & Red

So, without further ado, let me tell you what we’ll be making!  This first month, I am quilting.  I settled on a Red & Aqua Sampler Quilt.  The concept is simple:  each bee member will make 2 blocks in aqua and red.  But not just any 2 blocks!  The blocks must be made in the same block style (log cabin, square in square, flying geese, etc) and the block style must be a straight, non-wonky design.  So, block styles with rectangles, triangles and squares are perfect.  Blocks incorporating curves and irregular (ie wonky) cuts are out.  I imagine that this sampler style will allow the completed quilt to feel harmonious, even though each member is sewing with her own fabrics, which will obviously vary quite a lot! 

do. Good Stitches - Round 1

Completed 12″ blocks are to be mailed to the quilter (that’s me) by August 31st.  But I hope folks send them in early, because I can’t wait to start putting this together!  I’m committed to finish the quilt by the end of September, when I’ll mail it to Wrap Them in Love.  From there the quilt will make it’s way to a child in need of warmth and love!

Here are my finished blocks for round 1.

Red & Aqua Sampler Quilt blocks

The cycle begins anew in September, when our next quilter will launch a new quilt.  Yah!  By the way, there are two levels of bee membership, which you can read about here.   If you want to help by making blocks, but aren’t prepared to finish a quilt, you can sign on as a “stitcher” only when we launch the next charity bee!

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Today I discovered a common thread.  I’ve been loving quilts with a certain look… lots of color, contrast and an emerging design.  Turns out I love value quilts.

A value quilt is a design that plays on value – the lightness or darkness of a fabric, regardless of color.  Here’s one of my favorite examples.  It’s by Naptime Quilter:

values quilt top

Her quilt reminds me of my Colorbrick Quilt.  So much color and happiness!  But unlike Colorbrick, where I agonized about color placement for ages, a multi-colored value quilt usually goes together with little regard for color.  Basically, you separate your pieces into light and dark values and them piece them spontaneously, trusting the values to make the quilt shine.  Here are some more of my favorite value quilts in a smorgesboard of color.

1. Value quilt in progress, 2. Values quilt is finished

I’ve also seen some beautiful value quilts that use color and value.  This one is stunning.  See how each block is one color in many shades (or two complimentary colors) with values from light to dark?  Amazing, right?!?

Streifenblöcke - Blocks of stripes

And here’s a simple squares quilt, using half square triangles.  Jeni of In Color Order created her squares with mostly dark value warm colors set against mostly light value cool colors to create a lovely effect.  I think I’d like to see this done with all dark value warm colors vs. all light value cool colors.  Would it be more fabulous or less so because of the predictability?  Hmm….

DQS9 Top Finished!

Here are a few more value quilts where color is central to the design.

1. scrappy sunrise, finished, 2. the summer bling quilt

If you’re feeling the value quilt love, you should check out the Sew Katie Did tutorial.  It looks like she inspired a whole run of value quilts!  Now, I just need an excuse to make one?  Or do I?

Yes, I do.  Well, Liam’s birthday is in February….

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Has it really only been 4 days since I started hand quilting?  

Hand quilting - Princess Strips

My daughter’s Fairytale Patchwork quilt has turned out to be an ideal First in hand quilting.  I’m using Anna Maria Horner’s tutorial, “The Stitch” and her Q & A post “Anna Answers“.   Turns out that one of the hardest things about hand-quilting is getting your stitches to look as nice on the back as they do on the front.  Since Aria’s quilt is designed for her bed, the back of it will only be seen when hung on the line to dry!    I’m not giving myself much pressure to make the back look good.  I am paying attention to those stitches, but mostly as a way of working on my technique, you know?

Hand quilting - Diamond Mine

I’ve really enjoyed trying out different quilting patterns on different blocks.  Such freedom!  My first and possibly favorite block was this Diamond Mine block (Little Folks Voile by Anna Maria Horner).  I stitched a simple white running line in a diamond shape.

Hand quilting - Princess & the Frog

For this Princess & the Pea/Frog Prince block (Far Far Away by Heather Ross), I had dreamed up this criss-cross pattern along the seam lines. I didn’t realize that hand quilting this design would be so difficult and time-consuming. It looks rather wonky from the back, with the x’s bigger than they are on the front. Do you think it was worth it? I’m trying to decide if I should do another Princess block in this design. Would love to hear your ideas for alternative quilting designs on this style block!

Hand quilting - around the flowers

This block is Small Gathering from Anna Maria Horner’s Good Folks collection (LOVE!).  I stitched some white lines around some of the yellow flowers, but it didn’t “pop” as much as I had hoped for. I’m thinking of adding some pink stitching around a few more flowers. What do you think? One disadvantage of this pattern for hand quilting is all the starting and stopping of threads. It’s stronger and faster to quilt a continuous line.

Hand quilting - along the stem

So, that’s what I tried here, on a different Small Gathering block. I stitched along the stem line, which was quite fun. Do you think this is prettier than the flowers, or should I do it in addition to the flower outlines? Hmm….

Hand quilting - Dobby Dots

Here’s my latest block. Oooh, I like how this one turned out. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, right? I adore Anna Maria Horner’s dobby dot line! The texture, the colors… swoon! This is the only shade I’ve had the pleasure of owning. And, sadly, they’re getting scarce.

So, hand quilting = fun!  I’m glad to be serenely stitching on the couch while watching Alias with Hubby, rather than wrestling with this quilt at the sewing machine (and picking out countless stitches, no doubt). 

Looking forward to your ideas on these quilting patterns…

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Two weeks ago I bombarded you with pictures of my daughter’s Fairytale Patchwork finished quilt top.  If you think that the quilt finished by now, think again.

First off, I decided to try a bias-free finish for this laaaarge quilt (finished measurements are 76 x 89.5″).  In I Heart Patchwork, Rashida Coleman-Hane finished a quilt by sewing right sides together with a 1/4″ seam, turning and stitching closed.  Because binding is not my friend and because I decided that the linen sashing was a fitting edge,  I was game to try something new.

Fairytale Basting

I taped down my batting, laid out my quilt bottom and top and basted the edges.

All in a row

Don’t the basting pins look sweet?  They’re like happy little soldiers fighting for a straight edge.  I slip them all in at once and then close them with a size 3 knitting needle.  Saves the fingers.

I am happy to report that this was a snap.  Not only was it fast and easy – it looks great!  I don’t think a binding would have looked better in this case.  Woohoo!

Now for the not as good.  After consulting with my mom and co-designer, we settled on a quilting pattern that has turned out to be rather difficult, at least for me.  I always admire the large diagonal grid quilting design used often by Ashley of Film in the Fridge.  My mom suggested a double row (two lines 2″ apart) diagonal grid spaced just right so that it frames each large 12″ block.  Essentially the design would mimic the piecing layout, but on point and with continuous lines.  I especially loved that this design would create little diamonds at the intersection points in the sashing, one on each side of each block.

But how to achieve it?  I’ve had bad luck with disappearing fabric ink markers, so I thought I could mark this quilt with the much-touted Clover Chaco marker.  After a week I finally got to the fabric store to purchase the gadget.  Yes, it’s cool.  I’m glad to have it!  But, it so won’t work for marking this quilt.  Some trial proved that the white chalk too easily brushes away, leaving me without a clear guide.

Next my husband suggested using masking tape to mark my grid lines.  Brilliant!  I laboriously taped the pattern in one direction and set off to sew tonight.

Masking Tape for Marking

Ugh!  The tape won’t stay on!  I just bought it and it wasn’t cheap stuff.  It particularly won’t stick to the Little Folks voile.  So, I went back and moved pins that were causing problems, and even pined the tape on over each voile block.  Back on the machine I had mild success with a few short lines at the edges.  So…. I went for one of the longest lines in the middle to see what would happen.  Ladies, it wasn’t pretty.  It seems I can’t sew a straight line when juggling a large quilt, shifting tape and bias pin bombs.

I refuse to allow the quilting to ruin this quilt.  At the moment I plan to rip out the quilting I’ve done so far and either A.  settle on a MUCH easier quilting pattern or B. don’t quilt at all.  Because I used a cotton blanket for batting and because the edges are already lovely, stopping at this point is tempting.  Or maybe I should tie it instead?

(Sigh)  I just don’t know.

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How do you photograph a ginormous quilt top all by yourself… when the only good light left is outside?  Hmm…

Spread it out on a grassy slope?

Fairytale Quilt Top from the grass

Climb a tree?

Fairytale Quilt Top from a Tree

Ok, there it is.

Fairytale Quilt Top

Well, now you can see it all.  I didn’t finish the corners, because after 3 hours of stitching, I was ready to be done.  I plan to miter them like so.  But I’m not sure how I’m going to bind this quilt, so that’s my excuse for not finishing.  I think I want a low-key linen edge finish.  I’m thinking about how I could use the edges I already have.  They’re straight!

Woa, don’t fall!

Fairytale Quilt Top

Let’s get down out of the tree and try something a little more interesting.  Over a branch perhaps?

Fairytale Quilt Over a branch

Aaaah, pretty!

Pretty closeup

Wait!  Folded?

Fairytale Quilt Folded on a Branch

Does she look bored?

Fairytale Quilt

I think it’s time to call it a night.  You tell me, how do you photograph a ginormous quilt all by yourself?


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