November 27, 2020

Round and Round Mini Quilt

Every time I make a mini quilt, I think, "I should really make more of these." They're a relatively fast and easy way to try a new pattern or technique and get a satisfying finish on the books. Or in the blog.

My quilting guild, the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild, organizes a brown bag holiday gift swap at the end of each year, coinciding with our December holiday party. Around October, participants bring a supply of fabric and a note about what they'd like to receive and we put them in unmarked brown paper bags. Anyone who brings a bag gets to take one home -- randomly -- and make a gift for that person using the fabric and information inside.

For the 2019 swap, I drew my mom's bag. Totally randomly. Didn't plan it at all. I had to laugh because it made the project more fun but also way more challenging because I couldn't discuss anything with her or else she'd know something was up. I didn't want to risk blowing the surprise, so I didn't bring up the challenge in the weeks between the bag swap and the final reveal, and anytime she mentioned it I tried to be brief and vague. I don't think she caught on.

My mom's brown bag contained cool-colored fat quarters and "surprise me!" instructions. So I thumbed through my books and patterns and Pinterest board looking for ideas for something she might like. I finally decided on a pattern I bought years ago, Round and Round by Thimble Blossoms -- I like the design and have always wanted to make it but just have never found the time. Even better is the fact that this pattern includes instructions for a mini quilt! Just one block - it was meant to be!

I added a couple of fabrics to my mom's selection, including a slightly heathery Cloud9 background neutral that I love. It came together really quickly, and I decided to make it more personal with some big stitch hand quilting. I chose perle cotton in multiple colors that coordinated with the quilt piecing and just ran some lines across it here and there, trying not to distract too much from the overall design.

Now it's hanging in my mom's house and I get to see it every time I stop by.

November 10, 2020

Jelly Rainbow Quilt

I don't think I'm the only quilter who would say that staying home more this year hasn't been an absolute hardship. More time for quilting? I'm in. One of my quarantine quilt finishes is this Jelly Rainbow Quilt featuring Amy Butler fabrics. The pattern is free from Ruby Star Society and Moda Fabrics, and back in April, Devon (@missmake on Instagram) started a quiltalong. I talked my mom into doing it with me, and I was able to use two mini jelly rolls that I'd gotten from a friend in my guild who was destashing.

I really enjoyed making this quilt -- it's extremely easy but doesn't look overly simplistic. And I was able to make it completely using fabric from my stash, which almost never happens. I pieced the backing with leftovers from fat quarters, a jelly roll and a yard of Amy Butler fabric that I found at Tuesday Morning a while ago. It's crazy, but I think it works. The binding was already made and leftover from another project. It was just a few inches short, so I had to add the little green bit to finish. Viva la quarantine!

I donated this quilt to my local chapter of Project Linus for a child in need. I'm putting the pattern back on my to-do list, maybe for 2021, and I'd like to cut my own jelly roll strips from stash. If you're looking for a quick, satisfying and not overly large quilt, this one is a winner.

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!


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