Quilters Lead Pieceful Lives.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Ties Between a Daddy and His Daughter

A friend of my parents, Norm Eisner, passed away a little over a year ago.  A few months back, his daughter Cheri asked if I would make a quilt out of some ties she had that belonged to him.

They were special to her because they were his, but had additional meaning because he was the manager of a clothing store called Langley's, and Cheri's first job was working in the store with him.

I agreed, and she sent me the ties. There were 24 of them, and all but a couple were made of silk. This meant that I would have to use a stabilizer to make those easier to work with.

Cheri and I went back and forth on possible designs. But we were constrained by several factors:
a) She wanted the finished quilt to be about 5.5 feet on each side (a fairly large wall hanging!)
b) The relatively small number of ties (and the amount of usable fabric from each), meant that some patterns would not work (although she was OK with using additional fabric if necessary)
c) Norm apparently had a fondness for darks (mostly blues and reds) in his tie palette. So there was not a lot of variety in the fabric values. We wanted the ties to be the focus, so again, this limited the design options.

I finally settled on a basic square-and-sash pattern. But I wanted to do something to reinforce the whole notion of ties and men's clothing.  So I was actually able to find the perfect fabric for the sashing and borders: it is a charcoal with dark gray pinstripes....exactly like a man's suit material! In fact, the pattern is actually called "Man About Town"! Careful planning and cutting ensured that in all the sashing and borders, the stripes were consistently vertical.

Since the overall impression of the top is "dark", I wanted to add a highlight in the inner border. So I chose a white print fabric that one might find in a man's dress shirt.

Shirt, suit, and ties. All ready to step out!



As I mentioned above, Cheri's dad used to work at a store called Langley's. And they actually had their own line of clothes, including, of course, ties. So she requested that I include one of the back-of-the-tie-loops of fabric on the front as another homage. There it is at the bottom center.


Since the quilt is on the large size, and because I have recently taught a class on "quilting in sections", this was a good project to do using that technique. Notice that it is 9 blocks wide by 10 tall. So I made it in two sections of 9 x 5 each.

The quilting is good old ditch, using black thread.

And the name: chosen by Cheri of course! How perfect is that!!!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Shadowland

Always a popular quilt pattern idea: floating squares making shadows.

What could I do to make it unique?

Play with the light intensity and angle!

So I designed this making the light the strongest / brightest at the center and getting weaker as you go out.

Thus, both the squares and their shadows reflect this: lightest in the center and darkest at the outer edges.

But if the light source was directly overhead (of the center), then wouldn't the shadows be on the opposite sides of where I placed them?

Probably, or maybe this exists in an alternate universe.....but it looked better in my design spreadsheet this way.


The background fabric had to be light, and lighter than the center square. Plain white was too boring, so I managed to find an off-white fabric with teeny-tiny white squares on it! These reinforce the whole square - shadow idea!

While cutting, I had to make sure that these teeny-tiny squares were straight across, and up and down.

This fabric was, of course, also used as the small corner pieces of each 'block". And since there are several sizes of blocks, the background pieces are not uniform, as say, regular sashing would be. The whole thing is a big jigsaw puzzle (in 4 quadrants) that had to be assembled from the center out.

The quilting is pretty bare bones: I used clear monofilament to ditch around all of the shadows, and also across some of the longer background seams.

And good news: I made this just for fun, so it is available for purchase!!!

It is 38"x36" and has a hanging sleeve.

I am asking $125 (plus shipping if you are not in the Chicago area); discount for interested family members!!!!

If you would like it, send me an email. if I get multiple requests, I'll have to decide who gets it.





Saturday, March 25, 2017

Memories

My mother has been an artist her entire life.  For many years, she painted, primarily using oils. She painted this picture in the early 1960s:


I have always loved it. The colors, the starkness, the isolation....yet the path goes somewhere and you know the tree will bloom again in the spring. The painting itself is only 11.5" x 9", yet it displays unlimited depth.

As a boy, this picture hung in my bedroom; now, it hangs in my quilt studio.  I have looked at it often, and then last fall it hit me: why don't I make a quilt of it and give it to my mom!

This is way out of my comfort zone, so the idea and the process had to percolate in my mind for several months. I did some research on "raw-edge" quilting. This is where you build up a picture piece by piece, with fabric shapes (for a very literal picture) or scraps (for something more abstract). You can applique the pieces (hence the "raw-edge" tag), either by hand or by machine. You can also use fusible web to "glue" the pieces on to the background (again, with or without applique).

In my search I found a wonderful web site from fabric artist Leni Wiener (http://leniwiener.com/) which included a video on "How to create a fabric collage from a photo". This video explains clearly explains the process of turning an image into a piece of fabric art. Much of it deals with determining the color values of the various parts of the photo; something I did not have to deal with here, as my objective was to replicate the painting as closely as I could. But I emailed Leni and explained what I wanted to do and she eagerly gave my other tips and encouragement (both were much appreciated!).

Some of you may remember my "Sunflower Mosaic" quilt, in which I "copied" a van Gogh painting in fabric. That was also raw-edge, and fused, but the image (and each part within) was much bigger. So I was able to make that with small overlapping squares. I did not feel that that technique would work for this piece. But I still wanted to fuse the tree and fence fabrics to the background.

So here is the process I developed:
  • I took a photo of the painting, and printed it full size (so it was 11 x 8.5; not exactly the size of the original, but close enough).
  • Leni showed me how to turn the photo into a gray-scale image.
  • I printed the gray-scale image on a transparent sheet of plastic (for you oldsters: what the teacher used to use on the overhead projector!). This allowed me to use this both right-side up and reversed (more later).
  • I then created a reverse image of the gray-scale one, and printed several copies. This is what I actually used to cut out the pieces (as templates) for the quilt.

You can see that most of the pieces are very thin. I was afraid that even with having the fabric backed with fusible webbing, some of them would just shred into tatters and be unusable. So to eliminate this potential problem, and to make things much easier, I did two things:

First, I made the tree and fence pieces out of two pieces of fabric fused together. Though they look almost identical (in the finished piece), the tree fabric is actually a shade lighter than the fence fabric. So for each, I took one piece of fabric, ironed a piece of fusible webbing to the right side (usually a huge no-no), and then fused a second piece of the same fabric at a 45 degree angle to the first one. This is so the warp and woof threads would be at an angle and reinforce each other. This layering also had the effect of giving some dimensionality to the finished pieces. I then fused another piece of webbing to the back of the bottom piece (and left the backing paper on at this point).

Second, instead of trying to cut out the entire tree or each side of the fence in one continuous piece, I broke the reversed image up into logical pieces. That way, if any individual piece did fray or if I cut it poorly, the whole element would not be ruined. So the large part of the trunk was one piece; a big branch another, a smaller branch a third, etc. I did the same for the fence rails and posts. This allowed me to actually place the background posts on the outside of the background rails (i.e., posts first), and the foreground posts on the outside of their rails (i.e., rails first). Though not that easy to see in the finished piece, doing this better reflects what the reality would be.

Non-quilters may be asking: "Why use a reversed image?" 
Well....here's what happens next:
  • I cut out the pieces from the reversed paper image.
  • Then I taped them to the paper backing on the back of the fused fabric sandwich. Remember your math: two negatives make a positive!  So I have a reversed image piece on the back of the fabric. So when I next cut out that reversed paper piece again (to include the fabric), and flip the whole thing over, the final piece is now un-reversed!
  • Next I peeled off the backing paper (to expose the fusible web) and hand pressed the piece in its correct place. How did I know where to put it? I laid the transparent plastic sheet (right-side up!) over the background and lined it up; initially with the edges of basting threads I sewed on first, but as the image took shape piece by piece, I lined it up with the previous pieces.
  • Once it was in the proper place, I iron-fused it on.
  • Finally, I did some free-motion stitching with matching brown thread over each shape (the branches of the tree, the rails, and the posts). This added more texture and shading, as well as helping to ensure that the pieces would not come off.
Here are photos of the piece partially done:
 

Note that I added a little extra to the pieces that were on the edges. That was to insure that there would be no orange gaps showing through when I added the borders.

Now it's time to talk about the background fabric.
My original thought was to take varying shades of orange fabric and ragged-cut and place them horizontally. This would represent the horizontally-oriented brush strokes on the original. I figured I would reinforce this imagery with some horizontal stitching lines. So, the first place to always look is your fabric stash. I found some orange pieces, but nothing really excited me. At the same time I was exchanging emails with Leni; she thought the background had a silk-like appearance. BINGO! I had made this quilt with silk fabrics that I bought on our India trip. Was there any left? Yes!  Enough? Yes! And it is perfect. It has a ribbed texture and subtle shading that catches the light. Using this fabric, I didn't need to do any quilting in the background at all.

I remembered that working with this fabric was nasty; the edges of the silk were really prone to fraying. So, to avoid this in this piece, I fused a piece of lightweight interfacing to the back. This also added some firmness / stability to the silk.

So I fused all of the tree and fence pieces on. Next up was the border. Once again, I went to my stash to see if I could find fabrics to replicate both the brown-wood and the thin inner-gold highlight of the frame. Success again! I added the borders using mitered edges, again, just like in the original.

Finally, I mounted the finished piece by wrapping it around an 11 x 14 stretcher. That is the actual full size of the original.

And here it is:

I think it is pretty darn close to my mom's painting; no?

So....is this a quilt?  Well, technically, no. It is not made up of a fabric-batting-fabric sandwich. I guess you would call it fabric art.  Either way, thanks Mom for all the memories! xxx


Saturday, March 18, 2017

For the Love of Africa

We met Nancy and her daughter Elissa (who was 14 at the time) on our trip to India in 2010. They are an amazing duo... always going to other countries to provide hands-on help to those most in need, including the animals (click here for an example).

Last fall, Nancy requested that I make a quilt for Elissa, who is going to spend a  Semester at Sea starting in September.

But her specifications were somewhat unusual. First, the size. She wanted something "bigger than a twin, but less than a queen". This is because Elissa has a queen-size bed at home, but the beds on the ship are twin size.

Next, she wanted to provide all the fabrics! As she explained: "All the fabrics are from Tanzania. We support a school there (Mwereni School in Moshi), for hot lunch program, water borehole, and farm projects.  We go every other year to see progress and friends, and are gifted each time with a traditional fabric.  The two red fabrics are traditional Masai fabrics that were given to us on safari to keep warm!!".

So between the size requirement and the pre-defined fabrics (and their patterns!), we had quite a challenge on our hands.

But Nancy had some clear ideas for the design. Some of the fabrics had images of various African animals in a range of sizes; she wanted these to be prominently featured. There were several others that she wanted to use as borders. Then there was a beautiful fabric with a large (30" x 41") stylized baobab tree. We went back and forth with layouts and dimensions.  (By the way:  did I mention she lives in L.A.?  So everything was done via email and photos and Excel designs.) We pretty quickly decided that this would need to be a two-sided quilt, as the baobab was too big and beautiful to either cut up or not use at all.

So by some careful measuring of the animals, and after rejecting a number of design possibilities, we came up with this for the front:



....and this for the back:


Totally says "Africa"! The finished quilt is 52 x 74, but amazingly, there are only 43 pieces in total!

When the fabrics arrived at my house and I opened them, I was bewildered. Nancy had said that she was given "red fabrics by the Masai...", but she sent me some plaids!  There had to be a mistake. So I went to Google and typed in "Masai plaid" and found many references (here is one). Yes....the Masai make fabrics featuring plaid patterns!!! Who knew????

Notice that the plaids on the front and back are two slightly different patterns and colors. And these were made of almost yarn-like threads; much heavier than the other fabrics, which are traditional cotton.

As I mentioned above, due to their different sizes, the animal prints had to be fussy cut. Since we wanted the plaids to be the sashing, I also had to fussy cut each horizontal and vertical strip (again, different sizes!), so that the plaid-lines would flow seamlessly around each animal (and around the tree on the flip side). Not easy, and there were a few mistakes that had to be redone. Luckily, there was enough fabric to accommodate.

Which was not true of most of the others. There was only ONE of each of the animals....extra careful measuring and cutting there! The blue zebra fabric (front, top and bottom inner borders), had 3 vertical repeats, but to get the size we wanted, these two had to cut into the third. So again, no margin for error.

The outer border on the front: this was another strip of fabric (sort of like a medallion), with these borders and a centered orange decoration. So there were 4 "corner" pieces (i.e., they contained the border plus the 90 degree bends) . These were carefully cut. The rest of the borders were cut and pieced to make the correct lengths, and to fit in with the corners.

The border on the back was a similar fabric: borders, plus an inner pattern of flowers, except a) it did not contain those "corner" pieces, and b) it had some strange words written along the edges. Again, I had to fussy cut and piece to get enough fabric to fill the desired lengths and width.

Quilting: between the size of the quilt, the bulkiness due to the plaid fabric, and the design layout (e.g., large baobab), I was unable to quilt this myself. So I had Maureen do it at Quilter's Heaven. We choose to use green-red-gold variegated thread, and to do straight line quilting in a 4" grid. These combined to highlight and replicate the plaids on both sides.

And about those words:


It is Swahili and means "All these are inspired"! 

This is truly a great way to describe Nancy and Elissa: Inspired and inspiring!

Safari ya salama, Elissa!







Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Take the "B" Train

This is the third quilt for this growing family, joining ones made for Sebastian and Henry.  My friend Mari requested a train theme this time.

I found this pattern. It comes from Counted Quilts, and, like all of their patterns, it is made from strips which are then sub-cut into various squares and rectangles, and sewed together row by row.



I went with all solids, except for the grass, trees, smoke, and my favorite go-to: the wood-trunk fabric (hope I never run out!).

For the back I found a cute, colorful pattern featuring trains going hither and yon.


On many of my "baby" quilts, I just do basic ditch quilting, but this time I decided to use the quilting to emphasize the solidity of the locomotive and the shapes of the other objects.

So straight line quilting on the engine, rails, and ties, and random stiples everywhere else.

With the exception of the gray thread on the wheels, all of the other thread colors match the fabric color they are sewn on.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sailing Away

It was exactly a year ago that I made a quilt for one of Mari's many nephews called "Cars, Trucks, etc.". For new nephew Rory, the theme this time is boats.  She asked for "something nautical" and colorful, with a red border.

I hunted around and found this pattern. At 60" x 60" it was too big for a baby quilt, so I reduced the number of boats and changed the size of each block from 6 x 8 to 5 x 7.

The colorful sails allowed me to dig into my stash to find just the right colors and patterns. I decided to alternate each boat's sail with a semi-solid looking batik and a bright multi-colored /patterned fabric. The hulls and masts were chosen for harmony and aesthetics. Coincidentally, the pattern also had a red border, so that made it easy to visualize the finished quilt. So I bought an identical looking polka-dot fabric on-line.  I purchased the sky and water fabrics locally.


Note the monogram on the middle boat on the bottom row.

Quilting was basic and minimal. Free-form light, puffy clouds frame the sails. Wavy blue lines fill the waters below.
I found a great all-over mini-sailboats fabric for the back. Looks like clear skies and calm seas ahead!

         




Monday, November 14, 2016

Dream Girls

The original request from my friend Mari for this quilt was for pink ballerinas. I figured that there would be tons of ballet or dancer fabrics, and there were many, but they were either not in pink or were just not cute enough. So I broadened the search to include princess fabrics, and was able to find a nice complementary pair. Thus the name: Dream Girls.

I added in some other fabrics from the same pattern set and came up with this design for the front:


Note that all of the fabrics include built-in sparkley threads!  A first for me.

The quilting is stiple around the ballerina and princess figures, and ditch stitch around the borders.

The back is made of another fabric from the princess series, and includes frogs (princes in disguise?) and unicorns, because.....why not?


Now it's up to Kalia to decide if she wants to be a ballerina or a princess...............or both! Dream on!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Animals Down Under

This is my 150th quilt!!!!!

I made it for a friend who has a friend whose children (and the granddaughter recipient) are temporarily stationed in Australia. So they wanted something with an Australian theme, in pinks and pastels.

Voila!

Do you know the names of all the animals? 

The pattern is from "A Quilter's Ark", one of my favorite pattern books. I have made a number of quilts from here, including two Noah's Arks (here and here).

This one has pink stiples around the animals to make them pop, and then gray and lavender ditch stitching around the inner and outer borders and binding respectively.

And 15 years ago, I made this same quilt for the husband of a co-worker, using North American Animals!
Same pattern (quilt #17!), different animals; completely different feel. That's one of the joys of quilting: the unlimited range of fabric patterns and colors.




Friday, September 30, 2016

Potpourri

Here is still another commission from a traveling companion from our Morocco trip last December. This one is for Kaylee, her 6 year old granddaughter, who was described to me as "half Caucasian, half Chinese. Her middle name (Gi-Mei) means rose season in Mandarin". So my friend wanted something with pinks and flowers to fit a twin bed.

I presented her some options and we settled on a wonky pinwheel pattern that I found in a book called "Cut-Loose Quilts", by Jan Mullen. I have made several patterns from this book, but when I started to scope out this one, the directions did not make sense. So I sent an email to Jan (who lives in Australia), and, believe it or not, she responded to me the same day. She said that "...this is arguably the most difficult [pattern] in the book", so that made me feel a little better. She then explained in detail just how to do it. The main idea of her book is to just cut and piece without making exact measurements. Thus, the pinwheels are asymmetric! But, out of many disparate pieces comes harmony.

Next, the fabric. After deciding that the "spokes" of each pinwheel would be the flowers, and the "background" would be the pinks, I figured that I would be able to use a lot of fabrics from my stash. Well....I was able to use some, but, with 135 blocks to make, not nearly enough. My goal was to make sure that no flower or pink in one block was touching another block with either of the same fabrics. Since most blocks are surrounded by 8 others, this became quite a challenge! However, I am 99 and 44/100% sure that I achieved this goal. (For those of you of a certain age who get that reference, kudos! For everyone else, click here).  If anyone can find a place where this isn't true, please comment with details. And, for all you eagle eyes out there, look for one block with a flower fabric used in no other block!

So we went to Quilter's Heaven and was able to get a nice variety of pinks and flowers. But, it was still not enough to satisfy the "no repeats" requirement I had imposed. As we were looking through all the choices, we came upon a cute fabric with just the right sized butterflies. Of course! Makes perfect sense!! With all of those flowers, there have to be some butterflies in the area!  So there are several butterfly spokes scattered throughout the top. We also got a lovely pastel dots fabric for the back. And one of the fabrics we found, yellow with small roses, was perfect for the outer border as well!

Our next stop was to Second City Quilts, where, with the help of co-owner Gabi,  we were able to get enough different flowers and pinks to finally make it work. All told, there are probably at least 30 different fabrics in the quilt.

Ta-da!!!!

Yes...it is large (but still twin bed size); it took two of my assistants to hold it up for the picture! If you zoom in you can see that the spokes and backgrounds on each block are different sizes, so there is no matching to do when assembling the rows.  Since it is a large quilt, and I do my own machine quilting, I decided to make it in sections. Notice that the body is 9 blocks by 15. So I choose to do three sections of 9 x 5 blocks each.  So I first pieced each section (block by block and joining into rows), including both the inner and outer borders. Then each section was sandwiched (with extra batting and backing on the edges to be joined), and quilted. Then the 3 sections were stitched together. For a full explanation of how to do this, click here .

How to quilt it? Since the blocks are wonky, some options were naturally eliminated. I first thought I would do stipling in the background sections, but since they are so small (each block is only 6" x 6"), it seemed like there was not enough area to work with. So I finally decided to just ditch an "X" on the two main axes of each block using a bright pink thread. This makes a wonky pattern on the back.



Here is a close-up showing the wonky blocks, the borders (note the roses!), and the monogram:

Hope you like it Kaylee!



Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Shimmering Spectrum

My neighbor commissioned me to make a wall hanging for his downtown Chicago office. He wanted something "colorful but not wild, and not 3D". I did some web surfing and found a dozen or so patterns for his review. He picked one called "Through the Lattice".  I have made over 140 quilts, and would you believe that this one and my previous one (Mandeville Kaleidoscope) are the only two that have used charm packs!?!?!?! What are the odds?

So, like the previous one, the basis of this quilt is a pack of pre-cut fabrics. But whereas Mandeville's were shades of all solids, this one features a really unique and fascinating set of fabs.

There are 7 rows of 9 columns each, a total of 63 blocks. Overall, they make a beautiful spectrum, going from dark on the left to light on the right. But wait! There's more!!!

If you zoom in and look closely, you will see that the 7 fabrics in each column are all the same pattern! That is, while the colors change, the pattern of the fabric is the same. Moving across, you can see that each row has the same hue; only the value changes as you go left to right. And the final, really amazing thing, is that each and every square has highlights of gold! That's where the "shimmer" comes from!!

So it was really a godsend that they all came pre-selected.....can you imagine trying to find and organize something like this on your own? (ALERT: that was a rhetorical question. It would obviously be extremely hard to do!). 



The actual block piecing process was also quite similar to the one used in Mandeville. In this one, I had to take each charm piece and cut it diagonally. For half the blocks I then sewed the pieces back together with a black strip in between. Then (gulp!), I cut that sewn set on the other diagonal, and re-sewed it together with a white strip. The other half of the blocks was done in the same way, but reversing when the black and white strips were used. So when arranged, the black strips go seamlessly (quilting humor!) from right to left, and the white ones do the same from left to right.

So with all these colors, how to quilt it? Initially I thought I would do stipling in the colored parts of the blocks with gold thread. This would highlight / reinforce the gold speckles throughout. But doing so would mean that the colored parts were sewed "down" and the diagonals would be "puffed up". I definitely did not want to add any emphasis to those diagonals. So, like many times before, I decided to use clear monofilament thread. I ditched along the diagonal seams. Strictly functional (and basically invisible) on the front. 

But it makes for a beautiful pattern on the back!

(That strip at the top is the hanging sleeve.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mandeville Kaleidoscope

My daughter Emily just moved into a new house on Mandeville Street (in New Orleans), a few blocks from where she was sharing a rental for the last several years. Here is a photo of the outside:


A mixture of bright colors is a common feature of many NOLA houses, and hers is no different (FYI: the door color is Bermuda Onion!). And it's hard to see, but that is a Cubs welcome mat!

So naturally she asked me to make her a quilt with lots of colors!

She wanted a comforter for her full-sized bed. As usual, we went back and forth looking at a lot of patterns, and finally settled on one called "Percolate". It features 26 different colors of Kona cottons (some in the layer cake package come with one square of each, others with two), made into half-square triangles, and then sliced and diced with silver strips.

Here is how each block is made:
First, the pre-cut colored square is sewed RST to the Snow background square.


Then, it is cut on the diagonal, opened, and pressed:

So each color square makes two blocks.

Next, 3 cuts are made. Each block then has a 1", a 1.5" and a 2.5" strip of silver inserted. So even though there is a "pattern", each block (and each quilt) is unique, since the placement of these strips is entirely up to the person making the quilt! Some of the blocks are cut parallel to the diagonally-sewn seam; others are perpendicular. Sometimes the strips are all on one half of the block; others are on both sides.

Here is how this one looks before the strips are sewn in....

....and after...

...and then trimmed to 9.25" x 9.25":

In all, there are 90 blocks (9 across by 10 down). The arrangement of the strips in the blocks forms a large off-centered multi-colored fractured diamond, looking just like a kaleidoscope!

As I mentioned above, the colored squares come pre-cut in a charm pack. That means that there are precisely the pieces of fabric needed for the blocks. Anyone who has ever made a quilt knows that mistakes are made. Whether you measure wrong, or cut a piece too short, or the straight-edge or rotary cutter slips, something always goes wrong. That's one reason why we buy extra fabric! But with this one, there was no margin for error. One wrong move would have meant disaster; there was no Plan B. So I had to go to another level of concentration and diligence. Luckily, I made all 312 cuts cleanly and correctly.

Since it is a comforter, and we all know how hot NOLA can get, my BQF Donna suggested that I use wool batting instead of the usual poly-cotton. This makes it fluffier and lighter. The only downside is that it makes it a little harder to quilt. I wanted to do minimal quilting to not counteract this fluffiness, so I ditch stitched on each side of the silver strips. Thus the quilting reinforces the overall diamond shape.

Here is the finished product, held on the front porch by Emily and her mom:

See the diamond? The center is on the left, below the mid-point.

And here it is in situ with colorful pillows:

Happy Home Emily!!!!!




Sunday, April 24, 2016

Anna's Alphabet

This is the second quilt I've made for our friends Pam and Steve....for their second grandchild. The first was a boy, Will. This time it was a girl: Anna!

So we wanted to make something sweet and girlie...and guess what?! We found a darling collection called "Sweet Baby Girl" from Riley Blake. Dots and flowers and frogs and monkeys and....an alphabet!

Then we found a pattern called "Rumble In The Jungle". We modified it to give more space to the alphabet fabric and to use the set of fabrics we had selected.

Here it is:


I did stiple quilting in white, since most of the background color is white. Did not quilt on the green monkey and frog fabrics, nor on the sashing, so they all pop out.

Then my design consultant said that "it must have a lace trim".  So we hunted for just the right one and finally found one that had the exact same color orange woven in!!! Serendipity. So that was machine-sewn right over the binding.

A monogram patch in the corner and it's ready to go.

Have fun, Anna!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Frisky Friends and Fronds

Believe it or not, another Morocco travel-mate also has a grandchild on the way, and requested a quilt! She asked for something with elephants, and teal and gray.

Search....search....search........Success!!!!!

I found this pattern (which is a free download!). It also included the most darling fabric collection , so that is what I used.



Here is the back: more elephants!!!!!


The pattern had an error that, luckily, I found early in construction. It did not require the purchase of any additional fabric and was easily corrected. I also made some other mods to the pattern.

For the quilting, I wanted to make the trees and animals pop, so I did shadow stiple quilting to reinforce the tree edges, and then just random stipling around each animal. All was done in white thread. Then I did a gray ditch around the inner border.

Think there are enough elephants?????  :-D

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Dots A Lotta Monkeys One and Dots A Lotta Monkeys, Too

The daughter (and sister) of our Morocco travel mates is expecting twins, so they asked me to make TWO quilts!  The specifications were minimal: some pastels and animal prints. So I looked for a pattern that would allow me to feature both. Found this one from Riley Blake, which features large on-point blocks. Then I found a great theme fabric: Mini Monkeys in Primary. That was paired with four colors (plus white-on-white) from the Small Spots collection.  



I used the same color of one of the small squares in One quilt as the setting triangles in the Too quilt (and vice versa).


While the pattern is the same in both, I chose to quilt them differently. The first was sort of shadow-quilted on the white-dotted fabric, going through the 8 small squares in the pieced blocks. The same pattern was repeated in the monkey squares. It was replicated in the green setting triangles. All were done with matching thread colors.

The second was quilted by completely avoiding the white fabric and just quilting horizontal and vertical lines through the small squares (and small monkey squares), and right through the large monkey squares. Again, this pattern was continued into the setting triangles on all four sides.

I hope the twin "monkeys" love these quilts for many years! 
 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Go, Chicago!

Yes...another quilt for Mari's family!

This one is for Henry, who is the brother of Sebastian (see Sebastian's Ark).

This time the request was for a sports-themed quilt, specifically one with the Chicago teams. So I hunted around on-line and found that Jo-Anns had fabrics featuring the Cubs, Sox, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks. I also found a cute navy-blue sports-equipment pattern for the back.

I then created a design which consisted of 9 blocks, 3 x 3. Five of the blocks were just 9" x 9" squares, one for each team. The other 4 blocks were log cabins, made up of a fussy-cut center square from a team, and "logs" of the other teams surrounding it.  Then, there was a border of 3" x 3" squares of the 5 teams.

First, I cut out the 5 big squares, then I cut the 3x3's for the border. Next, I made the first log cabin block. Pin it to the wall....take a good look....UGH! It was horrible!  The colors of the various teams (white and black Sox, blue and red Cubs, black and orange Bears, black and red Hawks, red and white Bulls) were so strong and so incompatible, that the whole thing was a disaster.

OK....maybe if I put some sashing in between the blocks it would break up the in-your-face colors and soften it a bit. But what color to use that I didn't already have? Either green or yellow!  I found a nice yellow with tiny white dots in my stash. Cut a few strips....pinned them up.....no improvement.

Time to reassess. I sought counsel from a good quilting buddy and also from my live-in advisor. The end result is that I went back to square one.  Since I needed to use the team fabrics, and their colors are so robust, it was obvious that a different approach was required.  So I did a complete 180!  I decided to put horizontal strips of the fabrics on the back, and integrate the sports-equipment fabric on the front!  I found the same fabric in a lighter shade, and reused the pattern from "Play Time", but stuck with the 3x3 arrangement.  I needed a third fabric for the border and sashing, and found the perfect multi-colored dots at Quilter's Heaven

All ready to start over and.....wait!  It suddenly dawned on me that there is a sixth pro Chicago team: The Fire (yes....soccer!). Since I had to go back to JoAnn's to get more fabs from the original teams (not enough left over to do what I wanted), it was no extra effort to get the Fire fabric (which they of course had!). I adjusted the dimensions of the front a little bit to allow for the 6th fabric on the back, and it worked perfectly! I was able to get a full repeat (or more) of each team. And by arranging it this way, the colors actually balance and work! I think the front came out very nice too. Add the "Henry" monogram and, finally, here it is!