July 5, 2020

Judy's Flower Quilt

It's hard to believe that I made this quilt in around 6 months start to finish, but when your client is an irresistibly cute 4-year-old, you work quickly. This twin-sized quilt with hexagon flowers was made for my niece Judy's bed. Her older sister has two of my bed-sized quilts, so it was beyond time for Judy to get hers too.

I consulted with my sister on the colors of the flowers, which loosely coordinate with curtains hanging in Judy's redecorated bedroom. We chose purple, pink, peach, aqua and dark teal, and each one got a yellow center to brighten things up a bit.

I pulled out my plastic hexagon templates and started making the flowers over the Christmas holiday. When Judy visited, I told her about the quilt that I was making for her bed, and she inspected my work. :)

In March, I finished making 49 flowers and started to machine appliqué each one to a 10.5" background block for an on-point layout. I chose a subtle print for the background -- flecks of color on white -- to make it more interesting and fun.

This was my design created (with a lot of frustration) in EQ8. I'm not great at using the software, but this gave me and my sister an idea of what the quilt would look like. I made a measuring error somewhere along the way, so the finished quilt doesn't have (didn't need) the borders shown here.

Here are the blocks as they went up on my design wall, for assembly into the quilt top. This isn't the first time my wall has been too small!

Finally I was able to assemble the top with setting and corner triangles. I got lucky with backing fabric at a local quilt show (held just before everything shut down due to COVID-19) and was able to get the yardage I needed at a great price because the vendor was liquidating their remaining stock right as the show ended. I had been looking for backing fabric online but wasn't finding anything that my sister and I could agree on, so my quilt show find was meant to be!

I can't manage basting and quilting a twin-size quilt on my own (and I didn't want to try!), so I sent this one off for longarm quilting by Sterling Quilt Co. in Myrtle Beach, SC. She's @sterlingquiltco on Instagram. My sister chose the design, and it turned out beautifully. Perfect for a little girl's bed.

Luckily, Sterling was able to get the quilt finished (along with another one I sent her - more on that soon) and returned to me in time to bind, label and wash it to give it to Judy in person on a family vacation. After years of making things for kids, I've learned to lower my expectations when it comes to their reactions -- they're never as excited to receive the thing as I am to give it to them. Except Judy! This girl delivered! She was so excited to get her own quilt, and her love of it made all the time and effort worthwhile. Look at that sweet face!

April 16, 2020

Quarter Log Cabin Block Tutorial

The block design I selected for the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild's next charity quilt is a quarter log cabin -- big and bold and easy to sew. I created the measurements in EQ8 but I'm still kind of new to the software and figuring things out, so the block comes out at around 13" unfinished instead of the 12.5" I was going for. But that's okay! When a lot of people sew the same block, size variations are inevitable, so we'll trim them all to size when it comes time to sew them into a top.

Our color palette is based on this fabric chosen as the backing:

To simplify, that's solid fabrics only in white, gray, aqua, peach and red.
To avoid striped blocks, we're looking for at least 3 colors per block.

Here's the diagram and cutting information (based on five colors but easily adapted to just three or four):

Quarter Log Cabin Block
Approx. 13” unfinished - DO NOT TRIM
Color palette: White, Gray, Aqua, Peach, Red
Use 3-5 colors

3 x 13
3 x 10.5
3 x 10.5
3 x 8
3 x 8
3 x 5.5
3 x 5.5
3 x 3
3 x 3

When cutting, I found it easiest to start with the smallest pieces, E, and work my way up, and I oriented the block like the diagram above to make sure I cut all the right colors for the right spots.

Assembly is simple. Start with the small E squares, and build the block one strip at a time. Press seams open as you go.

These blocks are so fast to make that I ended up with four of them. They offer a few different layout options that are fun to play with, too. I look forward to seeing all the blocks from guild members and how they all come together.

February 23, 2020

Two Quick Baby Quilts

I recently finished two baby quilts in record time (for me, a notoriously slow quilter). I have a number of quilts in progress that I've been working on for a year or more, so it's satisfying to be able to start and finish something on a smaller scale in about a month.

The first one was a request from a friend who lives in Ireland. She asked for a gender-neutral baby quilt in soft colors that she could give to a friend, and she wanted it to include fabric with teddy bears or rocking horses if possible. I pulled out a couple of charm packs from my stash that I wasn't particularly attached to (I think I received them as a gift) and removed the most-feminine prints. After coming up empty at all my usual online quilt shops, I turned to Spoonflower to look for teddy bears or rocking horses that would work with the charm squares. Luckily, there was one print by French artist Helene of Le Vent & La Discorde that fit pretty well with my color scheme, and I was able to order a fat quarter of it during a sale.

The pattern is called Jane's Ladder by Allison Jensen of Woodberry Way -- it's available for free from Moda Bake Shop here. It's a twist on the traditional Jacob's Ladder design and is very easy to put together. I'm not sure what manufacturer or color the pale green background fabric is -- I bought a bag of scraps at Crimson Tate Modern Quilter the last time I was in Indianapolis, and there was a surprising number of these green charms tucked into the stack. Turns out there were enough to use as the background of this baby quilt. The backing and binding is Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Glass. I did the free motion quilting (my favorite go-to quilting design because it's very forgiving) on my Juki TL2200QVP Mini.

My second fast baby quilt is bolder but again uses a colored background fabric instead of the usual white/ivory/gray. It's one of my goals this year to use more colored backgrounds, and baby quilts are a low-pressure way to try it out. This one will be donated to my local chapter of Project Linus to be chosen by a child in need of some comfort.

This pattern is Sparkle from Allison Harris' book Growing Up Modern. The print fabrics were all collected from a destash by one of my local quilt guild friends. I grabbed them because they all coordinated well and I knew they'd make a good donation quilt for a child. The background fabric is Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Marine.

I quilted this one in straight lines with varied spacing, eyeing my lines and trying to keep them pretty straight without using a guide. It's not perfect, but it crinkled up nicely after washing and drying, and that hides a lot. All in all, I'm happy with how it turned out and with the fact that I was able to use fabric on hand.

February 2, 2020

Spring Thaw Quilt

One of the first activities my quilt guild (Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild) does every year is set quilting/sewing/creative goals. We pull them out at our holiday party in December to see how well we did and how much we accomplished. One of my goals this year is to blog at least once a month. I missed January -- great start! -- but I've decided to just double up in February to make up for it. I have a bunch of finished quilts and other projects that I haven't shared here, so I should have enough content to make it through the rest of the year. Even if a lot of people don't see these posts, I like having the record of what I've made.

Every year, I set a goal of making more quilts and things from the books and magazines I've collected. This pattern, called Spring Thaw, was designed by Jodi Nelson and appears in the March/April 2015 issue of Quilty magazine.

I started this quilt in 2018, but years before, I won a fat quarter bundle of Sweetwater "Noteworthy" fabric from an online fabric shop. It turns out that 42 fat quarters go a loooooong way, and this is the second pretty large quilt I've made using that bundle. AND I still have some fabric left that could become yet another quilt. Here's the first one, made using a quilt-as-you-go method and donated to Project Linus for a teen in need:

I started out making a twin-size quilt like the one in the pattern, but when it was on my design wall and the bottom rows were cascading down onto the floor, I started to wonder why I was making it so large. So I removed some rows and columns and it finished around 51 x 64. I found the rose-colored backing fabric on the clearance shelves of a local quilt shop, and the longarm quilting was done by local quilter Pat Pike. Since I didn't have a plan for this quilt -- it wasn't made for anyone in particular or for me to keep -- I decided to see how aqua quilting thread turned out. I like it a lot -- it's playful and a good fit for the overall design.

I started this back in 2018 and finished it in 2019 -- feels great to finally have it done! Now it just needs a home... Quilt for sale! Quilt for sale!

December 15, 2019

Wonky Pound Sign/Hashtag Block

Whether you call it a pound sign, hashtag, nine-patch, tic-tac-toe or something else, this grid block is an easy one to make. The following instructions are for members of the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild, as this block is being collected for our next charity quilt, but anyone is free to make it!

Please use this color palette -- solid fabrics and white. You can make the strips white, as I've done here, or reverse the color placement so that the background is white and the strips are one color.

Blocks are due by the meeting on February 15, 2020. Email modknoxville@gmail.com with questions!

The unfinished block should be 13.5 to 14 inches. Do not trim the block to size. Just turn it in as it is, and the volunteer who pieces the top can trim all blocks to a consistent size.


1. Start with a square at least 12.5" and four strips 1.5 x 15."

2. Use a ruler to cut the square into thirds. The cuts can be slightly slanted, but if you're more comfortable with precise, straight lines, feel free to do that instead. (Tip: I tried this block without using a ruler, and it made the strips harder to piece. So grab that ruler and rotary cutter.)

3. Insert two strips into the cuts, and piece the square back together. Press the seams open. With wonky lines, it's a little tricky to get the outside edges of the square aligned again, so take care and do your best. Remember that the block will be oversized, so it's okay if the edges are a little bit off (like mine are!).

4. Use a ruler to cut the square into thirds again, perpendicular to the first two strips. (Again, if you're more comfortable with precise lines, you don't have to make them wonky.)

5. Insert the remaining two strips into the two cuts. Pin and sew them to two sections. Press the seams open.

6. Now you need to sew the three sections back together. If your strips are precise, line up the strip seams on both sections, pin and sew. Press the seams open.

If your strips are wonky, this is the trickiest part of the block because the seams don't line up exactly across the break. Lay the two sections together and eyeball the alignment of the vertical strip so that it doesn't appear to shift to the right or left as it's intersected by the horizontal strip.
Then carefully flip them right sides together (I flip the lower section up so that it's on top). Try to do this flip without shifting the piece to the right or left. Pin to avoid shifting while sewing.

In the photo below, you can see that the vertical seams look pretty well-aligned on either side of the horizontal strip. Check your piece to see if they look aligned before you start sewing. You can also experiment with putting a pin in one seam and trying to line it up with the other seam. Or if you have a trick for getting this part right, let me know!

Sew two sections together, and press the seam open. Then repeat the alignment with the third section. Flip, pin, sew and press the seam open.

7. And there you go! Your block is ready to be trimmed to size (or not, if this is for the KMQG charity quilt).


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