Quilters Lead Pieceful Lives.

Friday, September 30, 2016


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.


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!