Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Patchworks 2X

I made a patchwork as a quick pull-together for a sick friend a couple of weeks ago ...

I had forgotten how much I actually like a patchwork and this got me back in the patchwork swing ...

So I made two last week (actually, several weeks ago, but had to wait for fabric to arrive for the backing to finish them).

The finished squares are 6" (6/5" uncut) and 8 columns x 10 rows makes a generously sized lap quilt at 4'x5'.

For the backs ... I had read a post from Emily @ QuiltyLove about using flannel sheets for quilt backing.  That caused me to google the subject of sheet backs for quilts (something I had read was a no no when I had first started quilting).  Lo and behold ... it is possible ... and I am really happy with how my first effort came out.

I didn't go with flannel, as I couldn't really find anything that I liked, but kinda had visions of a bold, dramatic back for the blue version.  So I looked on Target and found a nice tomato-soup color king size flat sheet $18.99.  It had a thread count of 300 (which was the highest that I read you should go).

I like the punch it gives the quilt and it does a great job of letting the quilting itself shine through on the back.  (Now if I could just get consistent color from my camera -- different issue for a different day).

For the green quilt version, I didn't see a solid that excited me, but ran into some 108" Amy Butler fabric that I knew would be perfect for the already completed quilt top.

I think that was just what the quilt was asking for ... don't you?

As for quilting, I have been trying to step out of my "meandering" phase and get a little more creative.  I had a great afternoon with Katie @ SewKatieDid taking her Walk the Line workshop last October.  And I purchased the book WALK from Jacquie Gering to help increase my knowledge and confidence.

For the blue version, I used Jacquie's Orange Peel pattern and then filled in a bit by doing horizontal and vertical stitching across the quilt in the middle of the blocks.

For the green version, I had completed half of the Orange Peel and when I laid it on the floor to mark the other direction, my eye saw a different approach and I filled in with the same pattern I had just used, but offset it by half a block.  I actually prefer this version to the previous one.  

In either event, I am happy that I have started to venture out with the quilting and am pleased with the results ... at least for these (I did have a failure that I will likely blog about at another time).

For now, these two quilts are now listed in my Etsy shop and I have started on a custom order for a friend which I know will stretch my skills!

Hope all is well out there.

All the best,

Friday, February 2, 2018

Quick quilt needed ...

We've all had them ... a need to pull together a quick quilt ...

This time ... it's for a high school friend that is waging a major battle with colon cancer ... he's been weak and fell and landed back in the hospital ... not where you want to be when you want to wage a major battle ...

I wanted something quick, masculine and vibrant ... I am pleased how the traditional patchwork filled all three requirements ...

I quilted the 6" blocks with the Orange Peel design from Jacquie Gering's quilting book Walk.  I followed the instructions in the book, but felt it left a little too much open space in the blocks, so I also quilted straight lines down the middle of the blocks, in both directions.  This shored it up a little and gave it a little more of the crinkle look I like ...

It's been too many years to mention since we were together in high school ... but I do hope that the quilt puts a smile on his face, at least for a few minutes as he opens it and knows that there are people out here who are truly rooting for him ...

Have a good weekend.

All the best,

Saturday, January 20, 2018

A lesson

Yes ... it has been a lesson ...

I have a former colleague (from my working days) who I had made a baby quilt for a few years back ... she was thrilled ... she's from Atlanta and said that simply wasn't the tradition back where she came from (we live in the pacific northwest).

Late last year she asked if I could make twin quilts for her two young boys who share a room with bunk beds.  She sent me a link to some Google photos of their amazing camping adventure last summer.  I gave it some thought and then sent her a price.  She agreed and I started on them last month.

I thought through, and ordered fabric, that I thought would be perfect!

But ... after a few attempts ... it was clear they were too busy and that my first attempt was not going to work.

I turned those options into potholders ...


But then I had to get down to the actual quilts I had committed ;-).

Eventually, I landed on my Corner Block Tutorial for this round ... I had indicated that one of the quilts would prioritize blue (from the sky pics of their trip) and the other golds (from the prairies).

I am now in the quilting phase ...

I am clearly way in over what I had given to her as a price ... but am now invested and am very excited to see where they end up!

All the best,

Thursday, December 21, 2017


I love making Christmas presents for the family!  Last year it was placemats and potholders and this year it's pillows!

I had the opportunity to take a quilting class with Katie in October and really liked the pillow forms that she was using ... she shared that she buys them at Garnet Hill.  Waiting patiently, I was able to pick them up some of the 18" x 18" down-filled pillows on sale for $13.50 each (25% off their list price of $18). 

She also introduced me to the beauty of Essex Linen ... which by-the-way ... I LOVE!!!  And set out to design some pillow covers that didn't look "home made".

The first pillow was light on quilting but had some geometric chops (my favorite!). 

Then, delighted to find a zipper tutorial that has to be the easiest zipper install EVER ... the backs of the pillows got a little visual punch with a contrasting strip that covers the zipper. 

I then created a few different neutral versions with just enough quilting to give them a finished look, but not too much to make it look to crafty.

But then ... I got another idea ... why not make some additional pillow covers?

Holiday Pillow Covers Front

Settling on the holiday theme (they are Christmas presents after all) Rudolph (with his red nose) and Christmas Trees seemed appropriate.  I was able to pick up a reindeer silhouette on Etsy for $2.35 that I printed out at 140% to create the template for the cut out for the pillows. The Christmas tree was inspired by this Instagram post.  The backs were made with the same zipper tutorial as the fronts.

Holiday Pillow Covers Back
I shipped the pillows to their recipients with the Holiday covers on them ... and then in a separate package that will go under the tree, I included the folded up covers that they will be able to use the other 11 months out of the year.

In addition to using high-quality down pillow inserts that are super comfortable, I am really happy with the decor pillow covers!

The elf shop is closed for the season and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

All the best

Friday, December 15, 2017

Blue Offset Diamond Baby Quilt

I just received a commission order from a friend for her new niece and nephew ... twins!

We spent a little time with my Kona color chart and she came up with the following palette ... the blues on the left are for the little boy and the lavenders on the right for the her niece ... she wants to have a pop of Sprout green in each. 

I am still thinking through design plans for hers ... but have started on his.  I sketched out the what I want for his.  Wider strips of blues with narrower strips of white in an offset diamond pattern comprised of HSTs.

It's a variation on the a baby quilt I made several years ago for a friend. 

Today I got all 252 squares up on the design wall.

I used different white neutrals in the rows of white instead of a solid color.  I did this on my Rainbow of Color quilt earlier this year and felt it really calmed the pattern down.  I loved how it softened the rows.  I didn't understand why I liked it ... but then someone explained that it was because it added texture ... which it definitely did.

Hope to get it pulled together this weekend and finish designing the second quilt.

Whilst I've been busy with holiday presents and these commissions, John was equally busy in the house with his latest Ikea hack from Billy bookcases.  We learned our lesson last year on our first  book case hack (see our do's and don'ts here) and he used primer on all the surfaces before paining it to match our woodwork and a contrast color on the back panel.  It came out pretty good ... a custom look at a fraction of the price. 

Hope everyone has had a great week out there ...

All the best,

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sail boat quilt

My husband has 6 grandchildren!  I prefer to say it that way than to say I am a step-grandmother ...

This quilt is off to the youngest for Christmas ...

Eric, just turned 1 in September.  His mom let me know about 9 months ago that she was going with a nautical theme in his bedroom.  Once I clarified that meant boats not fish (duh) and the colors she was using ... I started trying to come up with design ... and boy did I struggle!  My Pinterest board is filled with about 30 different options.  I knew that I didn't want to do applique, but was struggling to find a way to piece it that I would result in a design that I was happy with. 

Then one day, I came across this fabric online ... I was so excited to have found what I KNEW would be the whole-cloth back.  When it arrived in the mail a few weeks later, I was totally disappointed to discover that I have purchased decorator weight ... not quilting cotton.

In the end, I decided to go with it anyway ... I used the fabric as inspiration for the front.  And was able to make a simple pieced front that still passed my design sensibilities. 

I had recently taken a course in straight-line quilting and had also just bought the book Walk by Jacquie Gering (which is worth it's weight in gold!) and wanted to try it out a bit on here.  I started with the large sail and went at an angle in the right angle portion ... I have a Juki and a not-so-great walking foot, which meant that if I didn't want to mark it, I would be stuck with 3/8" quilting lines.  I started it that way, but in the end, felt that with the heavier weight back, that would simply make the quilt too stiff. 

Decided to go ahead and leave in the 3/8" that I had done ... it doesn't detract and brings a little texture & differentiation to the straight lines that I ended up with placing at 3/4" spacing for the rest of the quilt.  For the water, I used the first free-motion quilting technique that I ever learned, I don't know what it's called, but it's from the Plain Spoken quilt in Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr's "the Modern Quilt workshop" book.  I think that it gives it a bit of movement like ripples. 

The binding was simple, I just used the same Kona gray that I had used for the body of the boat, with a little bit of patterned print on one side to break it up. 

Overall ... I am pleased that I tackled and accomplished something that I had struggled to get started on for quite a few months ... it's been washed a couple of times and has softened up a little, although it will always remain a bit stiffer due to the decorator fabric on the back < sigh >. 

It will go in the mail on Tuesday and I hope it puts a smile on mom and baby's faces on Christmas morning.

Well ... I am now off to attend a forum to learn more about the impact the proposed tax legislation will have on my health insurance and small business ...

Hope all is well out there with everyone!

All the best,

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Quilted Coaster Tutorial

As I shared last week, quilted coasters and pot holders, have turned my favorite hostess gift.  

Here are the ones that I will be tucking into my suitcase next week to take with me on on my trips.  

You can also get a little creative with them ...

So here's what you will need to make your own:

Top -- 4 - 4.5"x4.5" pieces of cut fabric for the top
Bottom -- 4 - 4.5"x4.5" pieces of cut fabric for the bottom
Insulbrite -- 4" x 18" piece
Thread -- coordinating or contrasting, depending on your mood.

Step 1:

Cut your fabric.  You can use the same fabric for the top and bottom, two different fabrics, or for that matter 8 different fabrics if you choose.  Up to you.  But you will need 8 pieces of 4.5" x 4.5" fabric cuts for the top and bottom of your coasters. 

Step 2:  

Cut 4 pieces of InsulBrite.  Here you are going to use a slightly different dimensions.  The InsulBrite pieces will be 4.5" x 4" (that is not a typo ... leave 1/2" off of one of the sides).

I use InsulBrite instead of batting as I feel it provides a bit more heat protection for furniture when used with hot mugs.  But this may be personal opinion rather than fact, so if you have scraps of batting you would like to use up, this may be a good project for them instead of InsulBrite.  
Note:  For those of you who aren't familiar with Insulbrite, it is a mylar-based fabric that reflects heat.  Think of those thin metal like blankets that are used in emergencies with some fiber on either side.  

Step 3:

Lay a square of the top fabric face down and lay a piece of InsulBrite on top of it.  I tend to put the shiny side of the InsulBrite facing the fabric (but since the coasters are reversible, not sure it really matters).  Remember, the fabric is 4.5" square and the InsulBrite is 4.5" x 4", so you will have extra fabric.  Fold the excess fabric over the InsulBrite and press it with your iron.

Step 4:

Lay the bottom piece of fabric next to the top piece and fold the fabric back on the bottom piece to match the fabric on the top piece.  Then put the top piece (with the InsulBrite) on top of the bottom piece, right sides together.  I like to use clips as opposed to pins to hold them together and not distort this tiny item.

Step 5:

Stitch around 3 sides of the coaster (leaving the part with the fabric folds open).  Make sure that you tack the beginning and end of your stitching so that it doesn't come apart when you turn it right-side-out.  

Step 6:  

Clip the two stitched corners of the coaster.  For the opening, I like to clip it from just outside the stitching and down to the end of the fold.  

Step 7:  

Turn the coaster right-side out.  Using something sharp in the corners to get the points out ... but be careful not to pierce the fabric.

Step 8:

You could iron at this point.  But I prefer to just use my fingers to hold the fabric where I want it to be as I top-stitch all the way around the outside of the coaster.  I top stitch 1/8" from the edge.

At this point, you can chose what ever stitching you want to complete the coaster.  I am a linear kind of girl, so I simply stitch two boxes in the center of the coaster.  As can best be seen in the following photo.

Step 9:

Bundle 4 coasters together with a bit of ribbon, and you have a perfect hostess gift.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

All the best,



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