Quilters Lead Pieceful Lives.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

rainboW Weave

In our den we have a U-shaped sofa. The sides are chaise length, and induce instant torpor when anyone stretches out on them.

Last year, during the height of the COVID quarantine, we decided to make a lap quilt to make daytime napping even comfier. The result was Circular Spectrum #72

Of course, once we had one made, it was only a matter of time until there had to be a second one (for the other, cold, lonely chaise). 

We wanted a pattern that would allow us to use the many, if not all, of the colored fabrics, and the same two background colors. It had to be a complimentary quilt (same size and feel), but unique as well.

Somehow, we did a web search and found the answer within 30 seconds! That never happens!!  We chose a weave (or lattice) pattern.

Knowing that Circular had a rainbow of colors that went from upper left light to lower right dark (through the spectrum), we decided to arrange these colors the same way.

Pawing through the stash we managed to find all of the fabrics / colors that we had used before! But in this pattern, the strips were smaller (less impactful) than the circles were, so we started to swap some out and swap in some others. We also decided to keep the same color family from top to bottom in each column, as opposed to the diagonal nature of Circular. And with 9 columns, we had to determine how best to divide ROY G. BIV.

Laying out all the possibilities (and a few more we bought from Quilter's Heaven) resulted in an arrangement of Pinkish-Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Green-Blue-Blue-Purple (Indigo...Violet).

For the background colors, we also had some scraps, but knew we would need more. Luckily, QH had just enough on hand!

Cutting and piecing were very easy (nothing like the process in Circular). Lots of pieces to sew, but chain stitching helped that go faster. I knew that I would do the same ditch quilting as on the other one (though this time just the vertical seams), so the size (42 x 54) was manageable enough to do all in one.

The result:

And, just like with Circular, I once again went with the "facing binding" technique. So no binding is visible on the front (and it blends in on the back).

We have already tested this new addition to our family and can confirm that it is just as cuddly as its sibling!

PS: no....those are not typos in the name. It's that way for a reason. We're sure you can figure it out! 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Puuurrrfectly Friendly Lion

 My sister-in-law Lisa asked me to make a quilt for her husband's cousin's new grandson.

Originally, the new parents wanted a panda quilt.  And they wanted it to be "stroller size".  ??? Never heard of that. Sounds like the size of a large placemat. 

And they were very specific on the colors: subtle earth tones: white, ivory, wood, sage & eucalyptus green, grey, beige, oat, taupe; nothing bright.  

I came up with a couple of options for patterns and Lisa and I went back and forth, trying to find the right pattern and the right colors. Those colors don't really work with a panda (although they do love eucalyptus!). 

We had these pretty well nailed down and then the parents-to-be switched from a panda to a lion! I've done quilts that have had a lion included with other animals, but never one with just a single, large lion. So it had to look like a lion, but not be the scary kind.  Oh yeah....they then asked for "crib size". Whew!!!!

More research on the pattern and fabrics and we eventually found just the right combination:

I free-motion quilted the mane, tail, and feet with brown-variegated thread.  The rest was ditch quilted using blue, yellow, and beige as appropriate.

Subtle colors?  Check.

Crib size? Check.

Friendly and cuddly lion?  Absolutely!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

William's Neighborhood

 Another quilt for my friend Mari's ever-expanding family of nieces and nephews!

The requirement for this one was: "a theme of Space with colorful planets, moon, stars ,etc. For the background - navy or grey, but not black."

Hmmmm.....two outer space quilts in a row!?!?!?!? (To Infinity and Beyond was my prior quilt). Suddenly they are very popular! I turned to my buddy Mr. Google to see what was out there. 

Found that "space" quilts generally fall into two groups: rockets / aliens, and planets. The first group did not really meet the specs, and were primarily applique (nope). The second mostly featured really large (like queen or bigger) quilts! Well....yeah...trying to represent the solar system in a meaningful way on a small quilt would be tough.

But then I found one that pretty much fit the bill. It was a pattern on Amazon that was actually a Kindle download! It was pretty hard to read, and had templates, so I figured I would just print it. That was when I discovered that Kindle has no printing capability. This is on the device itself, your phone, or a PC! I guess it makes sense; that's the whole point of the Kindle - to save paper - but still!

So, I used the download as a guide and developed my own pattern. The idea was to have 8 planets (sorry Pluto!!) in somewhat relative sizes and in representational colors. Now before anyone gets to astro-precise: yes.....I know the sizes are nowhere near correct relatively (nor the space between them), or this quilt would be several city blocks long. But I did the best I could.

For the most part, I took the same approach as I used for Circular Spectrum #72. I cut out the appropriate sized circle (with seam allowance), added a layer of interfacing, sewed around the edge and flipped it inside out. For each, I then put one or two pieces of batting behind it and edge-stitched it in the appropriate place on the background fabric (a perfect blend of blurry star clusters on a gray field).  

First, little Mercury:

There he is.....cratered and baked from the Sun.

Next Venus, Earth and the Moon:

Venus is a mystery, shrouded in carbon dioxide. It is nearly the same size as Earth.

Earth is that lovely blue and green gem, with a nice polar ice cap at the top. Aaaahhhh....looks so peaceful and inhabitable. 

The Moon looks on, with its many craters. 

Then Mars, the Red Planet, the Bringer of War.

 Mars is roughly half the size of Earth and twice the size of the Moon.

Next we get into the big guys in our Solar System!

Jupiter......the largest planet, the Bringer of Jollity.

A gas giant with a multi-colored surface, most notably known for the Great Red Spot. This storm has existed for (at least) hundreds of years, and is bigger than the diameter of the Earth (although in recent years it has shrunk in size).  Mine was attached with fusible webbing. 


Then, Saturn!!!!!  With its amazing rings:

This one was extra fun to do! First, Saturn has all kinds of colors in its atmosphere. So another swirly, mixed color fab seemed appropriate.  I edge-stitched that, except I left two openings on the sides so that I could slip the back edge of the ring underneath.

Then, the rings: Saturn has 7 major sets of rings, and 100s of other ringlets! Clearly, I could not even try to do those (well...not with my skill set). So I decided on one silver-sparkly ring. For this, I cut out the shape (the back of the ring actually goes behind / under the planet), and used iron-on interfacing, then another layer of interfacing on the back of that. This gave it some body and allowed me to raw-edge edge-stitch it in place. I then finished the stitching of the planet to lock in the back ring edges. 

Finally: Uranus and Neptune.

Uranus's atmosphere contains methane, which is what gives it its distinctive blue color.

Neptune's atmosphere also contains methane, and sometimes appears blue-green, but I wanted to distinguish it from Uranus, so I chose a mottled fabric. 

The quilting is a swirling free-form stitch, representing all the comets, meteors, dust, and pieces of ice that whiz through our corner of the Universe.

Here is the whole neighborhood together. The gang, in order, roughly makes an "s" shape:


You may notice that I did not yet mention the Sun. That is because I took a unique approach with it. Since it is only a quarter circle (you know....it is really BIG!), I decided to wait until the quilt was all quilted and the binding was on before I sewed it on.  This way I was able to align it exactly next to the binding on the two corner edges. I did the same fabric-interface-sew-flip-and-fold technique, but I also added 4 layers of batting! Each was cut in the same quarter-circle shape, but stepped down in size. 

The back of the quilt has all of these planets, plus comets, stars, and a smattering of spaceships (some of which may not be from Earth!):

I hope you have fun exploring your neighborhood William!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

To Infinity and Beyond

One of my friends asked me to join in a group project to make quilts for Project Linus. That is a non-profit organization which provides new handmade blankets to children in need. The interesting thing about this project was that the pattern of the quilt was a mystery!

Each of us was given a set of instructions over the course of several weeks. The first was the fabric requirements, including high-level color / pattern suggestions (Fabric A should be dark, B should be medium, etc.).

The next week we got the cutting instructions. So many pieces of Fabric A at 2.5" x 2.5", etc.

The next few weeks, we got the piecing instructions. This is a strip-pieced quilt, so we made 24 columns. But, to keep the mystery, the columns were NOT in the correct order! So as they were sewn, it was fun to move them around to try to make the correct design take shape.

The title of the project, To Infinity and Beyond, should have been a big clue.

The last week's instructions provided the correct placement of the strips. That verified that I had correctly figured out the puzzle. Here it is:

At 48" x 56", this is a pretty large kids quilt!!!!

For the quilting, I first ditched every other column in a matching blue thread. I then outlined the stars and the rocket using the same color. I then ditched around the two dark squares with dark blue thread.

Time for some lucky kid to explore the universe!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Llama Llove


Almost 6 1/2 years ago I made Best Friends for the daughter of a colleague.  A few months ago she sent an email saying she was expecting a little boy, and asked if I would be willing to make another quilt for them. Of course!

For the first one, the design and colors were wide open. This time the requirement was pretty specific:    "a llama theme with some teal color in it, only because 1) llamas are likely to be a big part of this little guy's life, as we regularly go to feed the llamas at a nearby farm, and 2) a bit of teal in the quilt would match the comforter on the bed in baby's room".

So the hunt was on!

After an initial search turned up nothing, I went to my favorite site (again!), Counted Quilts. And....there was a pattern for an alpaca quilt!  Alpacas and llamas are the same, right? Um...no.  But they look the same, right? Um....similar.  But if I say it's a llama, no one will know the difference, right?  Hmmmm...

More searching, but nothing that felt right. So I contacted Lisa at Counted Quilts and asked if she would modify the alpaca pattern to be a llama!  She was happy to do so and had it done in one day.  

Then, we found coordinating fabs for the sky (teal-ish?), the hazy mountains in the distance, the grass, and the llama body. All of the others came from the stash. The eyelashes were our extra touch.

Quilting was a mix of free-motion and straight line, in matching colors (variegated on the blanket). 

So now the room is ready as big sister Dalia awaits her new brother.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Bear in the Air

Another in a long line of nephew and niece quilts for my friend Mari. 

This time the requests were: theme > airplane; color > green.

Hmmmmm.....what to do? 

I have made airplane-themed quilts before, so I know that most of the patterns feature paper-pieced jets or biplanes.  Been there; done that. 

So, as I often do, I started my search at Counted Quilts.....and there it was! The cutest bear flying a nice sized airplane! It was easy enough to swap out the purple and yellow in the pattern for two shades of green. We found the same fabric pattern offered in light and dark versions. Perfect! (The light green is also the back and binding.) Then we found a complementary blue for the sky. The rest of the fabs came from the stash. 

The other request was for a monogram. Since airplanes often have names painted on them, it made sense to incorporate the monogram right into the design. 

Four years ago, I made "Sailing Away" for baby Rory (now the big brother!).  I didn't realize, until I started to write this post, that the monogram on that quilt was also integrated into the design! Must be a family trait!!

The quilting is a combination of free-motion, ditch, and design-oriented.

I free-motioned the sky and the clouds in matching threads. Because of course! I also did some free-motion to highlight the bear's ears, around the helmet, and the scarf. 

I did straight-line decorative stitches in the propeller, cowling, and windscreen. 

On the fuselage and wing, I did straight-line stitching, but one goes horizontally and the other vertically. Why? Just to add some interest. 

All of these too were done with matching thread colors.

Finally, I ditched around the windscreen, the body, the wing sections, and the star.  

You can get a better view of all this from the back of the quilt. 

Happy journeys, Hadrian!!!!      

PS. Hadrian and his parents are on assignment in Thailand, so this quilt is being sent to his mom's sister in Washington for forwarding to them. So it may be a while until he actually receives it!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

All You Need Is Love

Last fall, a long-time follower asked me to make a quilt for her soon-to-be first grandchild. She and her daughter had nicknamed it their "rainbow baby", so she wanted a quilt to reflect this very special child. 

It had to have hearts in a rainbow of colors. I had previously made a rainbow heart quilt for my sister, in June of 1999 (pre blog and digital photo days, so you'll just have to use your imagination on that one). 

She really wanted BIG hearts, so to get in a rainbow's worth, meant it would be a big quilt. We decided on 4 across and 6 down. At 9" x 9", plus sashing, this ends up being 41" x 61". Quite large for a baby quilt! To add even more color, each heart was made in two halves. It was quite a challenge to go through my stash to find just the right 48 colors, in each shade, to coordinate in each heart and across the row. As it ended up, there is a fabric from my very first quilt (1979!), a fabric from Africa, and a whole host of other favorites.

The background is a light cream color, to make the heart colors stand out even further. 

I decided to reinforce the heart images via the quilting. Often I will use many different colors to blend my quilting in with the color of the fabric on which it is sewn. But this time I decided to just use the same color thread across each row. So in some of the fabrics it does blend in, and in others it is a complement. I ditch quilted around each heart, but considering their size, and the design itself, that just wasn't enough. So I wanted to replicate the heart shape with quilting inside each heart. (You can see this in the photo above.) To do so, I made a cardboard template in the exact shape of the hearts. Then I drew lines on it 1.5" in from each edge, then cut out the center part. I then put double-stick tape on the back, adhered it to each heart one at a time, and carefully stitched using the inner edge as a guide.  Here is how each one looked prior to sewing:


To reinforce the heart theme one more time, we found the cutest tiny pink hearts on cream fabric for the backing. Here is a close up of that, which also shows how the rainbow of hearts is clearly visible there too!

You can also see here that the horizontal sashing was quilted using cream-colored thread.

Since the quilt was so large, and the quilting required a lot of turning and manipulation, I decided early on to do so using my "quilt in sections" technique. The large size was also why we decided not to put a border on it. And the binding is done using the facing technique so it is invisible on the front and has the tiny hearts fab on the back.

When it came time to pick a name, it was a pretty obvious choice. Between the miracle baby and the hearts pattern, "All You Need Is Love" was so appropriate. And, as I always do when posting for repeat customers, I wanted to show the reference to the quilt I had made for her in 2011. I looked it up and....whoa:  that one is called "Take Me Out To The Ball Game"!!! Two great quilts for two great songs!

My client also wanted something very special monogrammed onto the quilt. This is out of my league, but luckily she has a cousin who does this sort of thing. So the quilt was sent to Texas, the stitching was added, and then it was forwarded to its home in Eugene, OR.

Here it is with the added words......

...up close......

....and with Baby Sophia!!!!


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

"Sea Critters" and "Bronto and Rex"

This is the second time I have been asked to make quilts for twins.  This time it is for Leo and Luke. And these are the FOURTH and FIFTH quilts I have made for the same family!!!  The previous ones were Sebastian's ArkGo, Chicago!, and Take the "B" Train.  

Mom Jackie was pretty specific in her request. She wanted one to have sea animals, and the other to have dinosaurs.  So we began looking for possible patterns. While doing so I happened to go to my local quilt store and....there on the wall was a sample quilt that had a colorful variety of animals swimming in the sea!!! I snapped a pic, sent it to Jackie and she loved it! It is Elizabeth Hartman's Awesome Ocean pattern.  Actually, the sample I saw in the store was a modified version of the pattern, and then I tweaked it even further to meet Jackie's specifications.  Here is my version:

It is made with the same squares-rectangles sew-and-flip technique that I have used many times. The quilting was ditch around the borders and sashing, and free motion blue waves on the background. There is no quilting on the critters themselves, so they pop out.

The selection of the pattern for the dino quilt was a lot more difficult. Eventually we found this pattern from one of my favorite go-to places, Counted Quilts (because it used the same technique). But even then we had to go around and around. The pattern is actually for 5 dinosaur pillow cases. So the shape of each finished "block" (21" x 28") was an odd one for a standard quilt top. And of course 5 just does not work. 

We looked at different options including: scaling down each dino (but this became problematic as some pieces would be way too tiny to work with), picking 4 of them and having two on the front and two on the back, etc.

We finally decided to just do two of the dinos, so I added in a sashing and borders and it actually came out to be almost the same size as the sea animals quilt!

The quilting in this one is a combination of random straight lines (like in Bronto's volcano and Rex's "scales") and free motion for the skies, the trees, etc.  The thread colors all match the fabric they are on.  You can see this better on the back:

 OK Leo and Luke.....they're all yours!  Have fun.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Circular Spectrum #72

Way back in February.....back before Everything Changed, I started to make a lap quilt for our den. We wanted something that had a neutral background (to match our couch), but also one which had pops of color to provide some interest.  

Looking through the interweb, we found this posting.  As described, that quilt had circles of color fused to background squares and then the quilting went over them to secure them in place. This was appealing as I don't do applique.

However, there were two things that didn't work for us. We liked the idea of the pattern but also wanted something with more actual dimension. So just fusing on the circle fabs was an issue. Also, this was a   mini-quilt (18" x 18"!), where the squares were only 2" finished! Which means the circles were even tinier. To make a lap quilt with these block dimensions would require 672 squares!!!  Plus such eensy dimensional circles would be problematic.

So, we decided to make the background squares 6" finished, and the circles 4".

How to add some dimension?

I started by cutting a 4.5" circle of the colored fabric, AND a 4.5" circle of lightweight non-fusible interfacing. I sewed the interfacing to the right side of the fabric with a 1/4" seam. Part of the interfacing was then carefully cut away:

I then turned the assembly inside out, which resulted in a 4" circle with a nice finished edge. The raw edges were turned under and held in place by the interfacing; since it is so thin, pressing the circle made it disappear!

Next, I cut a template out of card stock; 6" x 6" with a 4" circle in the center. This was laid on a square of the background fabric:

Fabric square

Fabric square with template

I then cut out a 3.5" diameter circle of batting. This was placed inside the circle of the template:

Then, the inverted fabric circle sandwich was placed over the batting:

The three layers (fab, batt, fab) were pinned in place and the template was removed (different fab shown in the picture below): 

I then stitched very close to the edge with a thread color that matched the color of the circle fabric. So in the finished square it is pretty much invisible from more than a foot away (a faux applique?):

The combination of the layer of batting and the stitch-around-the-edge provided both the visual and actual dimensionality that we were looking for

So now that I had the process, we had to lay out the colors. We went from top left to bottom right in the full range of the spectrum. Some of the circle colors are used twice; some just once. There are two colors in the background squares, so those were just alternated

Cut, sew, invert, trim, template, batt, circle, sew. Sew the blocks into rows, sew the rows together.

The quilting is in the ditch of the background squares, both vertically and horizontally, using a thread color to match the darker squares. Again.....mostly invisible.

Just like with my quilt "All Different, Yet All The Same", I felt that a border, or even a binding, would detract from the effect. So I once again went with the "facing binding" technique. See "All Different" for an explanation.

OK....enough suspense. The final product:

Time to cuddle up and relax!!!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Panda Dreams

What could be cuter and softer and more serene than a panda sleeping on a moon!!

Made for the granddaughter of friends of ours, this pattern, like several others I have made, comes from CountedQuilts.com. 

What kicks it up a notch is that it has an associated fabric line! Little pandas on clouds, random pandas on white, and a field of stars, all in very soft pastels. 

The only semi-tricky thing about making it was that I had to cut both lengthwise and widthwise for the outer border so that the clouds all faced up. 

The quilting is mostly free-motion....wavy lines in the sky and loopy swirls in the clouds, moon, and corner pieces.  I ditch quilted the edges of the panda and around the three borders. Matching colored threads in each area of course.

And.....as this is the Year of Coronavirus, Wendy suggested that I use the leftover fabric to make masks for the parents!  So here they are:

Something for everyone in the family!

And here is baby Eleni (in what appears to be a matching onesie!):

Monday, May 4, 2020

Pandemic - Part 2

I have now sewn over 100 masks!

Here is a sampling of some of the fashion-forward folks you may see wearing them all over the country.

And click here for one of the many articles on how to avoid fogging your glasses while in mask mode.

Stay safe....practice social distancing....be smart...wear a mask...save a life.