August 28, 2021

Chit Chat Bonus Baby Quilt


A few months ago, I shared the Chit Chat quilt that I made for a family friend's newest granddaughter. The pattern is from Block Modern. Here's a reminder of that quilt:

After I was done making it, I had a few blocks leftover and decided to turn them into a smaller baby quilt. Of course I didn't have the right number of leftover blocks to do that, so I had to make more. The whole process was more work than I was initially planning to put into it, making the most of my fabric scraps and trying to make single blocks when the pattern instructions produce more than one at a time, but I persevered.

I decided to position all the blocks together in the center as a sort of medallion, adding wide pale peach borders on all sides. The peach is also a leftover -- a bedsheet that I used as the backing on a quilt last year. It pays to save the leftovers!

The backing and binding is a pale peach Rifle Paper Co. print with navy horses and peach flowers and hints of bronze -- it couldn't have been more perfect. The quilt turned out pretty small -- less than 42" wide -- but perfect for a baby. I donated it to my local chapter of Project Linus, so I hope it's chosen for a little one who needs it.

July 21, 2021

Hyphenated Quilt


Every quilt has a story, and this one is a doozy. After a successful quilt-along in Spring/Summer 2020, my guild (Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild) decided to do another one this year. We chose a free pattern from Art Gallery Fabrics with high hopes. I guess we could have looked more closely at the pattern, but that's a lesson learned.

The pattern image that we all loved

My fabric pull

Unfortunately, the pattern -- which AGF has since revised -- was full of errors. I forged ahead, following the pattern as best as I could and sending regular emails to the guild with helpful tips and corrections. Some members started using the pattern and then abandoned it and went their own ways -- creating the same or similar blocks using different methods, putting blocks in different layouts, and really just finding any way to salvage some enjoyment out of the process and produce a quilt top or finished quilt.

In spite of all the frustration, I really do like how this quilt turned out. My inspiration fabrics - a few Amy Butler prints - led me to a color palette that's rich but still fun. I plan to donate it to Project Linus, and I think an older child or teenager will be happy to see this one in the array of available quilts.

I found the perfect orchid backing fabric on clearance at one of my local quilt shops, and I quilted it on my domestic machine using my go-to allover pattern of loose meander with little loops. The binding is one of the prints used in the blocks -- use that stash!

After finishing the quilt, I contacted Art Gallery Fabrics to let them know that the free pattern on their website was really terrible and needed to be corrected. They responded with a revised version of the pattern (not that I'll ever make this one again!) and sent me a collection of fat quarters for my trouble. Free fabric? Oh sure, why not.

The guild plans to organize another quilt-along for 2022, but we'll be taking a much closer look at the pattern we choose first!

June 13, 2021

Boxcar Tote

I can't remember when I started making this Boxcar Tote, but I do know that it was at a guild retreat and I didn't get very far before I ran out of batting to quilt the main body panels. Instead of using fusible interfacing on the main and interior pieces, I had decided to quilt the outside, giving it some texture and visual interest as well as softening up the structure a bit.

One of my goals this year (I've been referring to those a lot -- I'm really trying to get things done!) was to finally finish this tote. And I did! It took a while, but I worked on it in little bite-sized pieces over the course of a week or so. Also I'm really glad that I didn't use fusible interfacing on the whole thing because I had issues with my interfacing not fusing completely.

The fabrics are pretty bold. I bought them together with the intention of using them in this bag. My favorite print is the white with birds on the side panels. I hadn't planned to use that for the binding too, but when I got to that step, I couldn't decide what looked best. I like how the white continues from the side panels across the edge of the pockets and top of the bag. I used a light-colored fabric as the interior/lining so that I could easily find things and they didn't get lost in the deep, dark recesses.

One alteration I made was to extend the length of the straps a little bit (maybe 2 inches? I can't remember...) On the pattern and in photos I've seen of the bag made as instructed, the handles seem a little short to me -- good for holding but hard to get my hand through if I wanted to hang the bag from my wrist or forearm. I also divided the front pockets at the center seams, making 4 more-usable pockets instead of 2 large ones.

May 27, 2021

Barn Block Mini Quilts: January & February

We're 5 months into the year and I'm still on track with my goal to blog once a month (hopefully I didn't just jinx myself!) This month I'm showing off a couple of mini quilts that I recently made. Minis can come in any size and shape, but they're usually around 24" or less, and I find that they're a great way to experiment with a pattern or technique and achieve the satisfaction of a fast finish. Plus they're easy to hang on the wall for a quick change in decor.

Earlier this year I purchased this set of 2 mini quilt patterns from one of my local quilt shops, Mountain Creek. It's the first in a series of Barn Block Minis from designer This & That. The January block, which reminds me of a snowflake, first caught my eye and motivated my purchase.

Here's my version! I was between big projects and needed something small to focus on, so I tackled these tiny pieces. All the fabrics are from my stash, and it's also the first time I made flange binding (that extra orchid band inside the regular binding)

I wasn't sure which way I would want to hang it (my straight line quilting pulled the front out of shape a little bit), so I gave myself both options with 3 hanging corners. I rest the dowel on a thumbtack stuck into my wall.

Time for the February block, which has a heart inside a star with an interesting frame around it -- blunt edges instead of pointed corners. I started my fabric pull for this one with the turquoise print with little red and pink flowers.

I handquilted this mini using perle cotton in coordinating colors, highlighting the piecing and adding a little texture.

I have the block patterns for March and April -- more cuteness to come!

April 11, 2021

Chit Chat Quilt

Every once in a while I'm reminded that I can, in fact, make quilts pretty quickly. Of course "quickly" is relative, and it depends on the size and complexity of the pattern, but under the right circumstances and given a deadline, I can pull off what usually seems impossible for me. I was contacted by my mom's friend Mary in early January, and she asked if I could make a baby quilt for her niece who was expecting mid-February. 

She sent a couple Instagram pictures of a Chit Chat Quilt (pattern by @blockmodern) and suggested a color scheme including peach, blush, gold, navy and cream. I had seen the pattern on Instagram and loved it, and the color palette is one of my favorites, so I was happy to accept the commission. I went through my fabric stash but only came up with peach and navy -- nothing to bridge the two and prevent a checkerboard color placement. I ordered a handful of prints by Loes Van Oosten for Cotton + Steel -- fabrics 5, 7-11 from the left above.

The blocks came together very quickly (although I think I flubbed the layout on some of the blocks with little stripes). By request, I made a size not included in the pattern, but I didn't have any trouble creating more blocks to make it work.

For the quilting, I kept it simple with a straight line grid on a diagonal. The backing was pieced with some leftovers plus a larger cut of navy that I've been saving for a backing. The binding is scrappy, again using up a lot of what I had leftover.

I finished the quilt by February 21st, so it took just over a month from fabric receipt to completion. I've seen photos of it with its new owner, a sweet little baby girl named Molly, and I'm glad I could create something beautiful, comforting and meaningful for her and her family.

March 13, 2021

Shivaun Place Quilt

I started this quilt in the fall of 2016 thinking it would eventually go on my baby niece's "big girl bed." After a bit of confusion, my sister and I decided to wait on that and choose a quilt design when she was older (see Judy's Flower Quilt finished last year). I really loved this pattern and the fabrics I'd been working with, so I decided to enlarge it from 6 blocks to 9 and make it for my own bed (a full size). Luckily the pattern, Shivaun Place by Sassafras Lane Designs, included the larger option.

I started with Les Fleurs by Rifle Paper Co., adding a few blenders from other designers to create the 2-fabric contrast in each block. I used some other Rifle prints as well, as the project continued and they released more fabric collections. I started out with the navy and gold Les Fleurs print for the corner elements, but after making a couple of blocks, I decided that was too dark and heavy, and I switched to a more delicate peach floral.

There are only 9 blocks in this bed-size quilt because each one is 23 inches finished. They might be the largest blocks I've ever made for a project, and I really enjoyed the process of assembling them. The only challenge -- and one of the reasons this quilt took me so long to finish -- is that, for me, each block required the use of my design wall to keep track of all the pieces and a good amount of time to assemble the block without interruption. It's not the sort of project that I could work on a little bit here and there or take on a retreat. I needed to be at home in my sewing room with all my stuff gathered and attention focused.

I had 6 blocks made in 2017 but it wasn't until 2020 that I had 9 plus all the sashing ready to assemble the top.

Then it was time to choose the backing, and I struggled. At first I wanted to use all the Rifle Paper Co. fabric I'd gathered (which is a lot) to piece a backing. But I'm never very happy with my pieced quilt backs, and since this quilt was destined for my bed, I didn't want to be disappointed in the reverse side. So I finally gave up on the pieced idea and ordered a Carolyn Friedlander print that I thought complimented the prints on the front - light blue, a little gold and more graphic so as not to compete with all the florals.

The quilting is an edge-to-edge design done by Sterling Quilt Co. I used one of my stashed pale peach Rifle prints -- with scattered flowers and horses -- for the binding. My photos of this project range from October 2016 to November 2020, so it was a long one in the making! I'm happy to have it finished and finally on my bed.

February 28, 2021

Meadow Quilt

I finished this quilt a couple of years ago but never shared it here. In the spirit of keeping better records and an archive of my work -- and to meet my goal of blogging at least once a month in 2021 -- I'm digging this one out again.

Lizzy House's original Meadow Quilt

Step 1: Planning

My lovely guild, the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild, brought artist and designer Lizzy House to town in 2015 to host her Meadow Quilt workshop. Lizzy designed this quilt but chose not to print and sell the pattern; rather, she only taught it in person as she traveled the world. It was great to not only meet Lizzy in person (I've been stashing her fabrics for a while) but also get to spend a day learning from her.

The sample block I made at the workshop, signed by Lizzy

At the time of the workshop, I hadn't nailed down all my fabric choices. Luckily we only made a practice block that day, so I still had a little time to make up my mind. I chose the fabrics for the colored quadrants pretty easily -- those are a mix of prints from Lizzy, Tula Pink, and Denyse Schmidt. After I saw another guild member using the ivory with black specks for her petals, I chose that one too and then added the gray Flea Market Fancy posies for my centers. Still to be determined was the border fabric, which would be prominent, so I wanted to love it.

Piecing this quilt is not for the faint of heart -- the templates create some challenging curves, and the chances of things laying flat are slim. I did my best and starched it to within an inch of its life. It came together slowly but surely.

Six months later, I picked one of Lizzy's starry prints for my border. I like how the burgundy sets off the ivory petals, and the print has scattered stars in pink, orange-red and aqua that pick up the shades in my brightly colored quadrants. I think I ordered 9 yards for the borders, backing and binding -- it was the most fabric I'd ever bought at once! And all the same! Luckily I had an empty bolt to wrap it on when it arrived.

With so much time invested in making this quilt, I decided to have it custom quilted by a longarmer in North Carolina ( I shared with her some photos of other Meadows with quilting motifs that I liked, including straight lines in the borders and feathers on the petals. Custom quilting doesn't come cheap, but I was happy with the results and felt like this quilt and I earned the special treatment.

Part of my motivation to finish this quilt was to hang it in a quilt show organized by my guild at an art gallery in downtown Knoxville. It was really satisfying to see it hang in such a civilized setting vs. just covering my bed at home. :)


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