Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Table Runner

A message came my way a few weeks ago. My mother-in-law wanted a spring table runner for her dining room. I considered that an authorization for a trip to my local quilt shop, Anita Heady's Sewcial Studio. My mother-in-law loves birds. At eighty years old, she keeps a beautiful, pristine yard full of flowers and plants that attract all sorts of birds. Her sons, daughters, and grandchildren lend a hand from time to time, but for the most part she does it all on her own.

I had taken two books with me to Anita's shop. Every now and then, I find books that make me want to make every single pattern in them. These two books are like that:

I've probably made ten table runners from these books so far, and I'm always excited when an opportunity arises to make another one. This time I went with a design by Karla Alexander. It was fast and easy and did a good job of showing off the beautiful fabric.

The flowers are from her garden. She sent them home to cheer me up.

After I did this.

The colors can be used year round rather than just in the spring. And for a change, it can be turned over to the back, which is just as pretty.

 The quilting is simple, long, wavy lines.

Last time we went to visit, she made this request in person. I didn't tell her it was almost finished (and would have been finished had the awful boot not come into the picture!). It will be delivered to her on our next visit. I'll try to get some pictures of it in her dining room along with a few pictures of her awesome yard to share. So happy to have some smaller projects to work on.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Any Color Quilt

Oh, the quilt. Oh, the story. I just love this quilt. But it wasn't always that way.

It was my turn to be in charge of the quilt for the Believe Circle of do. Good Stitches in December. I wanted to be extra, extra nice to our great group of stitchers since December is such a busy month for most folks. I wanted the block to be super easy. Here's what I sent to the group:
We're doing some simple improv this month. And, we've all done great over the past few months gearing our quilts towards boys, so for December, think girl, girl, girl. What I'd like to receive from you is one 12.5" block and four 6.5" blocks using a square in a square block. The inner square can be big or small. It can be centered or off set. I would like for them to all be straight, so no wonky squares please. The center square should be a focus fabric and the frame should be a solid.

As you can see from my inspiration blocks, just about any color will work. It would be great if your outer frame was at least 1.25" after sewing (meaning cut at 1.5" so that it would finish to be an inch wide on the quilt. For most of my blocks, I cut the solids much wider than necessary, then squared up the block after sewing so that I could have a little bit of control over where that center square sat in the finished block.
So, perhaps I should have taken the hint when one of our stitchers sent the question, "Any color?". Note to self: some semblance of a color palette is a REALLY good idea.

Everyone rallied to the cause and mailed in their blocks. And they are all great and I'm so excited about getting started. And I start laying out the after design after design. Nothing works. There are too many variations; too much chaos. Nothing in common. My excitement wanes. My frustration increases. Walk away. Try again tomorrow.

A new day, a new idea. Depending on the design, there are enough blocks to make two quilts. Two quilts! Awesome. I divided the blocks into two sets, warm colors and cool colors. Much, much better. Still, the warm color version was being stubborn. All of my non-traditional ideas just looked too busy. I finally came to the conclusion that this was just going to be a basic design. Once the top was assembled, well, it was okay. It's pretty, but it isn't stunning. What's a girl to do. Sleep on it.

After sleeping on it, I decided that rather than use an overall design for the quilting on this one, it would be quilted sampler style, using a different design in every block. I thought this might improve the quilt overall and it would definitely provide some much needed free motion practice. This is when this project turned fun for me. I love all things quilt making, but once I got into the quilting of this project, it took on a life of its own. I started with the designs I was familiar with. The first block, the yellow block of love, was quilted with spirals.

Then some leaves on the border and a bit of meandering in this block.

 I know those were the first two blocks I quilted. And I can remember the last blocks. The middle is all just a quilting blur. A very satisfying blur, but a blur just the same. Here are the rest of the big blocks. A simple, wavy border with some outline quilting in the center,

a meander, 

wavy lines and pebble paths, 

and a paisley pattern.

The more I quilted, the more comfortable I became. Finally, I stopped trying to "figure out" what quilt design to use, and drew from each focus fabric. Asterisks, kites, pizzas, flowers...all sorts of quilting designs began to emerge. It was fun, really fun. Here are the small blocks, lots and lots of small blocks. The bright orange block:

This was an attempt to quilt branches for the bird. The upper left is tolerable, but then I got a bit carried away so the rest looks like a bunch of busy lines.

A simple pebble fill.

I was trying to combine spirals and pebbles in this one. The spirals overwhelm the design but it was good practice. 

Some scribbly lines to mimic the writing in the block.

The light orange block:

Rows of asterisks. This is one of my favorites.

Waves for the fishies.


And paisleys. 

The dark gray block:

More flowers.

Rectangles. This is another favorite.

Flowers. Of the flowers, I like this one the best.

Gentle, wavy lines.

The pink block:

Flower vines,

apple trees, 


and carnations.

The red block:

The center fabric of this block makes me think of beach balls, but when I was quilting the shape on the border all I could think about was cutting a pizza into slices. I must have been hungry.

Dots, circles, and lines.


Kites. Love the kites.

The yellow block. The red and yellow blocks were the last two blocks quilted for this project. This was the home stretch.

Little posies.

A big flower.


A wavy grid.

Each block is surrounded by circles in the sashing.

The back is fun, too, with some Kaffe Fassett Buttons fabric and a panel of solid orange and extra blocks. The busy print on the back is nice since it proved to be quite forgiving for those occasional quilting tension issues. It just all blends right in.

It is finished with a Kaffe Fassett Paperweight fabric for the binding. Headed to the post office next week to ship this quilt off to My Very Own Blanket.

Next, I'll be working on the cool color version of this quilt. The top is finished. Here's a peek.

Have to credit my husband for suggesting the triangles. That got this design off the ground. My intention is to mellow a bit for the quilting on this one. We'll see though. You never know what might happen once the quilt gets under the machine.

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