Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Memory Quilt: Deciding on a Design

I recently took on a commission quilt. It is a memory quilt, made from the clothes of a much loved father. His daughter is an avid photographer and her father was an avid gardener.

Photograph by Cheryl Cornwell

She wanted his clothes to become a quilt as a gift for her mom.

I love choosing designs, but struggle when it is for someone else. She and I played the like/don't like game by email. I would send a few pictures from my Pinterest boards and she would let me know if she liked them. I thought that would narrow it down quickly. And it did help. I learned that she preferred a repeating block design rather than a big overall statement. She wanted traditional rather than modern.

We met one afternoon and she sent me home with this trunk full of clothing.

There was one design that she said she loved right away, and it is one I had made before. But to my eye, it had more of a contemporary feel to it. We looked a little more and then she just said it...I trust you to choose a good design for this.

At first, I was determined to be super traditional and had shown her a pinwheel block which she liked and remembered from quilts growing up. But I was not feeling very settled about it.

I went back and looked again at the first design she liked. I did some further searching to see if I could find other finished quilts in that design. And I did, along with a name for the block. Garden Fence. That is when I knew this was the one I would do. I drew out the block and cutting instructions right away.

I know very little about her father, but I do know that he loved his garden. And now I know that this will be the perfect quilt for her mom and the whole family to remember him by.

Photograph by Cheryl Cornwell
"My dad. Never a Boy Scout, but always prepared, nonetheless. He strategically placed three old rusted metal chairs 10 yards apart, from his garden to the back door, in case he needed to sit a spell while going back and forth. Think I'll sit a spell myself."
I am looking forward to getting started on this project. It is a special privilege to be able to play a small part in preserving these memories.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Zig Zag Teacher Quilt

Another collaborative quilt finish with my favorite daughter. She chose the pattern, the fabric, and did the piecing for the top. I assembled the back, quilted and bound it. We make a pretty awesome team.

A few years ago quilting was the annoying step for me. Couldn't those layers just magically stay together? All of the quilting I did was purely for utility. Wow, how I have changed. I think I've gone to the opposite extreme. I want to add lots and lots of quilting to every quilt I see. It's amazing what a little bit of instruction and a whole lot of practice can do to change one's perspective.

I love how the quilting looks from the back of this quilt. I had planned a really busy back but changed my mind once I figured out how I wanted to quilt it.

Straight lines on the colors and pebbles on the neutrals. I used the same color thread on the bobbin as on the top so on the back the straight line stripes have color. This picture isn't too good with the dim inside light but I think it gives you an idea of how it looks on the back.

The binding is the same fabric as the blue solid.

This quilt will make its way to its new home some time in October when Erica next comes home to visit. It is going to one of the teachers that had a big impact on Erica's first year as a teacher last year.

Next up...maybe a holiday project. Happened to rummage through my Christmas fabric recently. We shall see what happens next.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Scrappy Blue Kaffe Quilt Supersized

A few weeks ago I made the cute little quilt on the steps. I liked it so much that I decided to super size it and make a bigger one. Since these are stash buster quilts they ended up similar but not quite the same. The smaller wall hanging has more teal; the bigger one has more purple. 

The smaller quilt uses a light gray Kona solid throughout while the bigger quilt is full of scrappy grays.

The smaller quilt is quilted with diagonal lines through the gray squares. The bigger quilt has diagonal lines and also has vertical and horizontal quilting lines to enhance the bigger squares.

The back is Kona solid in plum.

Both quilts have a Kona solid binding. I don't know the specific color name but it is a pretty royal blue. Quilt making has become my focus these past few months. Soon, I will reopen my Etsy store to sell my quilts. These two will debut there. Look for more finishes in the coming months.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Collaborative Quilt for a Teacher

It took two to make this quilt. My daughter wanted to make one of her friends and coworkers a quilt to thank them for making her first year of teaching so special. I helped her choose a design, then she went through my stash and chose all the fabric. We both cut, she pieced, and then I took it from there. Getting the quilt top put together is her favorite part and since I love it all, I'm happy to do the rest.

The quilting is simple, with straight lines running a quarter inch on either side of the long seams. For the focus blocks, I free motioned flowers. What, you can't see them in the picture? Here's a closer one.

You still can't see it? Neither can I, and I was about ready to skip quilting in the squares altogether. Then I turned it over on the back.

I just love the surprise of the flower on the back. Three of the six focus blocks hover around the outside edge of the quilt so they are very visible on the back. Aren't the raccoons cute?

This is the second time recently that I've gone for a lighter binding, and yellow again, too. Not sure what is up with that but I seem to be branching out with my binding choices.

So thankful for helpful children who get their arm workouts holding up quilts for me.

The cat even had to get in the game on this one. Happy for another finish!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Purple Cross Quilt Finish

It is finished. And I love it. I saw this description of the creative process on Instagram and it fits most of the things I do. It's funny to see it so well described and I am glad I am not alone...
1. This is awesome.
2. This is tricky.
3. This is sh**.
4. I am sh**.
5. This might be okay.
6. This is awesome.
This project was no different. It took a pause between the finishing of the top and the quilting. I knew that I did not want to quilt each quadrant of the quilt the same but I really had no idea what I wanted to do. Pinterest saved the day. I saw an improv block there that was quilted very similarly. Lines radiating from the center for two quadrants and echo quilting in the other two quadrants.

And the appearance of overlapping circles is pretty cool too. The special gal getting this has no idea it is finished. I will see her this Friday and can't wait to put it in her hands.

The back looks good too. Since I used basting spray for layering, I gave it a gentle wash. It has that nice crinkly look. The large circle that stands out on the back is a complete mystery to me. I did not even notice it until I saw this picture. It is interesting that it stands out when no other circle did, especially since there is no quilting around the circles.

I incorporated triangles in the upper corners of the back. A dowel should fit snugly across the top so that it can be hung if desired. I have been wanting to add this to my quilts for hanging but I am usually so excited to be at the binding stage that I totally forget. Maybe now that I have remembered once, it will stick a little better.

Another happy finish. Making quilts certainly brings me joy, creative process and all.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Scrappy Blue Kaffe Quilt

My fabric lives in open cubbies in my sewing room. It goes through various stages of organization and neatness. Here is part of it on a fairly good day.

After a while, after searching and sorting, stacking and restacking, it gets just a little messy and hard to work with. That's when it's time for a little clean up. Some days I need a break from sewing or cutting. Those are good sorting days. I recently sorted through all of my Kaffe Fassett fabric. It was very chaotic at first, but little by little it was all sorted by color.

Took two pictures to get it all in.

Usually, during this process, something starts to stand out. This time it was those rich blues. While everything else was neatly put away, those hung around on the cutting table for a little more thought.

And then I remembered some gray two inch strips that were cut for another project but didn't work. A little bit of scrap cutting and a little bit of design wall play and we have a new quilt.

I quilted it with simple cross hatch lines through the gray squares.

It's a small quilt, finishing at 22" x 25".

I like the result so much that I've cut pieces for a very similar quilt using four inch squares rather than two inch ones. It should make a nice size throw quilt. It's great to organize and stash bust all at the same time.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Purple Cross Storm at Sea Quilt

One of my co-workers recently retired. It is not often that I make a specific quilt for a specific person but this time I felt compelled to do so. Take note world. If the words "I want to make you a quilt" ever fall from my mouth, you are a super special awesome person. She retired on relatively short notice so there wasn't time to make anything to give her on her last day at work.

Instead, I told her to go check out my Pinterest page and see if any of those quilts appealed to her. So she did, and she mentioned two of them. One she said lots of things about so I knew this is the one she really wanted, but she was nice and mentioned a second one as a backup plan. So, I went and looked at the one she chose and in my head I'm thinking...wait, you can choose any quilt BUT THIS ONE. Because this one looks HARD.

So I slept on the idea and woke up thinking, "Why not?" I pinned that quilt because I liked it and I'm smart enough and can figure this out. Bring it on! The first step was to pull fabric. For a purple quilt. From my stash. That has hardly any purple in it.

After studying the picture of the quilt for a while, I determined that six different purples were needed. For some of those purples, I had to go scrappy in order to have enough fabric. It was tight getting all the pieces cut, meaning I spent some portion of time digging through the trash for what I thought were throw away scraps but had to be salvaged and pieced with other scraps to make it through. There were a few brow sweating moments during the cutting stage.

Then, I had to ponder the construction. The link from Pinterest goes to this tutorial. Based on the tutorial I could paper piece the blocks or make templates for them. I wasn't happy with either of those choices and then I remembered my handy TriRecs ruler. That is how I decided to construct this quilt.

I worked on it a little each day and took a picture every day to show my progress. I need to find some sort of time lapse software because this would be really cool to see that way. Instead, just scroll through the pictures quickly and maybe it will be a similar affect. Ahem. Maybe.

First Block
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight
Day Nine
Day Ten
Day Eleven
The top is finished. I think. I am still pondering a border. And how to quilt it. I do love how the top turned out. This one is going to be set aside for a short time while I think about where to go next with it.

There are a couple of other simple finishes waiting for me on the side line. They are starting to glare at me just a bit from across the room. I'll give them some attention then come back to this one with a well thought out plan. I can't wait to finish this and send it off to its recipient. I think she's going to love it.