Papaw’s Quilt


A few years ago, everyone was making gingham baby quilts, mostly from solids, and they were adorable. I mentally added the pattern to my quilting bucket list and then moved on to other projects. But I never completely forgot the simple, yet stunning quilt. Last year, I finally made one. It was moderately scrappy and I called it A Quilt Is Born. It now resides on the back of a chair in my bedroom and I love it.

A Quilt Is Born – moderately scrappy
Papaw’s Quilt – not scrappy

For Christmas 2019, I thought I’d make one for my grandfather. Ha! I got the top made in time, but in typical Amy fashion, I didn’t finish the quilting and binding until July 3. Not too bad. I’ve been as much as five years late on a gift quilt.

 I used Fat Quarter Shop’s tutorial for a three-hour quilt. It took me a little longer than three hours but I’m slow, always. This truly is a quick and easy project though, and SOOO cute.

 Papaw was a Navy man, so I went with a red, white and blue color scheme and stars…lots of stars. I even quilted a giant red star on it, which didn’t photograph well but it looks nice in person. I used prints rather than solids. I just love prints so I don’t have many solids in my stash. These are fairly subdued though. One might even say they’re almost solid.

I liked this pattern so much, I decided to do a study of it, using different degrees of scrappiness. My first one, as I said, was moderately scrappy. Papaw’s Quilt was not at all scrappy. Next I’ll do an extremely scrappy one, and then I’ll decide which look I like best.

Yes, I finished the binding on the way to his house.

 

Think Outside the Border

I’ve made nine quilts this year. Want to know how many of them had a border? Zero of them had a border. I don’t dislike them on other people’s quilts. It’s just not something I do. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason quilts without borders have become part of my personal style.

And yet, when I share my finished quilt tops on my various social media groups it never fails. Someone asks me what color I’m going to do my border. As if there’s an unwritten quilting law that says all quilts shall have a border. (And worst of all, lots of people ask me if I’m going to attach a guest lodger to my quilt. Umm, No. First of all, I don’t run a bed and breakfast, and B, I’m not a psychopath.)

Well…these unwritten quilt laws are for the incurious if you ask me. Haven’t you ever looked at a quilt design and wondered, “what if…”?

When I first got interested in quilting a long, long time ago, almost all quilts were made in blocks and rows, and 99.9 percent of them had muslin backgrounds. 

What if, somewhere along the way, some curious quilter hadn’t asked herself, “What if I do this instead?” I reckon our quilts would look exactly like Granny’s. And while that wouldn’t necessarily be tragic – Granny’s quilts were lovely – it would be limiting and boring and there probably wouldn’t be as many of us. So I’m glad there are quilters out there who think outside the border. Rebel Quilters everywhere…I salute you! 

And someone please tell me, what’s become of all the boarders getting attached to quilts? Why hasn’t anyone reported this to the authorities? Is it an AirBnB phenomenon? I’m so confused…

 

A Quilt Is Born

For months now, I’ve been working on a couple of projects that seem never-ending. This weekend, I wanted the satisfaction of a finish, so instead of doing what I know I should have done, which is to continue with my WIPs, I started something new. I did end the week with a finished quilt top, which was enough to make me happy and give me the impetus to go back to my older quilts next weekend. I hope.

The design stage is my favorite part of quilt-making so I’m always interested in the genesis of a quilt. How did it get started? For me, it begins with the fabric usually, but that’s not what happened this time. As I mentioned, I wanted a quick finish, and I remembered something that’s been on my quilting bucket list for a while – the giant gingham quilt, sometimes called the buffalo plaid. You probably know the one. It lit up Pinterest a couple of years back and everybody made one. Except I didn’t. But I wanted to, so I put it on my “Someday” list. 

I also remembered The Fat Quarter Shop has a video tutorial that claims it can be done start to finish in three hours. Challenge accepted. With my pattern chosen, it was time to pick the fabrics. Most of the online pictures show these quilts with solid fabrics as opposed to prints, but I don’t have many solids in my stash so I needed prints that kind of read as solids, i.e. small scale with limited colors.

The first thing to catch my eye was this gorgeous, vintage blue print. (top and bottom)

It has such a painterly quality, it reminds me of a Monet. I knew I wanted it for my mid-tone and it has a touch of white and Navy blue so that dictated my light and dark tones as well.

Here’s the thing with vintage fabrics – they’re not always the same width as modern ones. This piece was about ten inches shy so things got scrappy real fast. I pieced together as much of the vintage as I could, but I ran out of scraps before I ran out of rows so I had to substitute a couple of solids and some leftovers from another quilt, Birdie in My Cabin.

It’s definitely noticeable in the finished top but I don’t make perfect quilts, and I’m ok with that. It would probably drive some of you crazy, so just make sure you start with a whole yard of your light and dark tones and two yards of your medium tone.

I didn’t have a whole yard of anything I liked for the darks, so I used two different pieces. The batik was leftover from Rock N Roll All Night. The other came in a purchased scrap pack. I’m very satisfied with how they look.

All of my lights are leftovers from various quilts I’ve made. I used these pieces in particular because they all contained a touch of a very similar blue to my mid-tone fabric.

I would call this quilt moderately scrappy. It’s not quite as gingham-y as if I had limited myself to three fabrics. The pattern is a bit more subtle, but it’s definitely there. I’m curious to know how it would look if I were to go full-on scrappy. I think I’ll try that one day so I can compare and contrast. I suppose I need to make a totally NON-scrappy one too, in the interest of science, ya know. Damn, that means I need to go fabric-shopping. The horror! For my husband, not for me. Haha.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, that video I mentioned… they used 5.5” squares in an 8 x 10 setting. That gave them a 40” x 50” finished product. I wanted a bigger quilt so I used 6.5” squares. I made 12 rows of 10 squares each for a finished quilt size of 60” x 72”. You can make your squares any size you want, of course. I mean, who’s going to stop you?

By the way, it took me a little longer than three hours to finish this, but that’s mostly because I scrapped it up a bit. I feel confident I could do it in three hours if I stuck with the three fabrics.

 

My Beautiful Mess – A Story About Orphan Blocks

I know a few people whose very first quilts are stunning, but most of us have to make a mess before we can create something beautiful. This quilt is a HOT mess, but a lot of learning happened here. And it’s not all bad. There are quite a few elements I like. Most of all, I like that it’s finished.

What exactly is this quilt? It’s a mish-mash of blocks from quilts I started but never finished. Orphan blocks. Most quilters have some. Maybe you start a sew-along but don’t have time to finish. Maybe you try a new technique and hate it. Maybe you lose your pattern. All these scenarios are represented in this quilt.

I decided to turn my orphans into a quilt because I got a new long-arm frame and wanted to practice my free-motion quilting. My inexperience shines through but that’s okay. I’m giving it to the dog, and she loves it.

I try to focus on the positive. What do I love about it? The tiny pinwheels in the photo above are adorable, and so freakin’ old. Many years ago I started a blue and white sampler quilt. I loaned the pattern to someone and never got it back, so I had a lot of blue orphans. They are sprinkled throughout this quilt. It’s probably just as well… my ambition far exceeded my skills at that time, so these blocks are definitely subpar. Those two blocks in the bottom corners of the top photo… I quite like those but they too are older than dirt. You can tell because the background fabric is muslin. When I first started quilting it was an unwritten rule that all background fabric had to be muslin. I don’t know why I only ever made two of those.

I’m famous for joining sew-alongs. I’m infamous for not finishing them. Many of these blocks came from the Splendid Sampler. It was fun for a few weeks but I lost interest, thus I had another tidy stack of orphans. And that house… I thought I would enjoy making a scrappy house quilt, and I did, but not with that particular pattern. Into the orphan pile it went.

Making an orphan block quilt is easy. Just lay out all your blocks, jig-saw style, until you have a composition you like. Fill in the gaps with something that ideally ties everything together. I bought that black/pink polka dot fabric at a yard sale and I had LOTS of it, so I used it for the back and binding too. It’s super-improvisational but that’s what makes it so easy. No complicated math, no stress. Just eyeball everything and trim as needed.

 

To Piece or Not to Piece-A Story about Quilt Backs

This weekend I’ve been putting together quilt backs. It’s not as glamorous or exciting as making quilt tops but it has to be done, right? 

I have friends who buy 108” fabric for quilt backs and I’d probably be smarter to do that too but I like to piece my backs. It takes longer, sure, but I like the scrappier look (of course) and it satisfies my personal quilting rule of working from my scrap buckets first, my stash second, and only buying fabric for a current project in an emergency.

I do buy fabric – lots of it – but usually only when it’s on sale or I find it at a thrift store or yard sale. When I do buy it at a store, my go-to quantity is one yard. If I really like it, I’ll buy two or three yards, but that’s not usually enough for a quilt back. So, I piece.

My process goes like this…

1) I lay my quilt top on the floor or a bed. If it’s the floor, my dog lays on it. If it’s the bed, the cat hops on.

2) I start with any leftover blocks or fabric from the quilt top  and arrange those over my quilt. It’s like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle.

3) Depending on the size of the gaps I need to fill, I pull from my scrap buckets or my stash.

4) I don’t try to do any math or precise piecing here. I just aim to have a back that’s a couple of inches larger than the top on all sides. If I’m sending it to a long-armer, I’ll ask how much overage she requires and aim for that amount. Ish. Like I said, I don’t go for perfection here. The outer edges will get trimmed off at the end anyway.

5) If I’m not trying to use leftovers from the quilt top, I’ll sew together two or three pieces of yardage from my stash. Each quilt is different, but I’m almost always pleased with the end product. I end up with two quilts in one, and isn’t that efficient!

How do you make quilt backs? I’d love to hear your process.

Magnolia’s Serendipity Quilt


 

Aloha y’all. Welcome to my very first Linky party. My spell check keeps changing that to “kinky” party, but I’m just not that kind of girl so if that’s what you’re looking for, move along. If you want to talk quilts, you’re in the right place.

I pride myself on being humble. (I KNOW that’s an oxymoron. Just shut up and keep reading, k!) 🙂

Let me say that again… I pride myself on being humble. For real, I have a hard time extolling my own virtues. But sometimes – and it’s usually quilting related – I just can’t lie to myself or to you, and I have to shout, “DAMN I’m good.” The story of this quilt is one of those times, and it was never supposed to happen…

First, there was the class I didn’t want to take. I am on the board of my local quilt guild and we had the amazing Krista Moser coming to town to teach three classes for us. I wanted to take her Woven Jewelbox class but most of my friends were taking Semaphore Stripes. I gave in to peer pressure and took both, and I’m so glad I did.

Second, there was the fabric I wasn’t supposed to have. Since I over-extended my budget by taking two classes, I vowed to use only fabric from my stash. I needed stripes and there wasn’t much to choose from, but I did have one thing. It was part of a fabric line I bought 23 years ago to make my daughter’s crib set. (I would call that “vintage,” wouldn’t you?) Sadly and happily, I never made that bedding so the striped fabric was just sitting there, waiting to be used in THIS quilt. I started with that and pulled whatever I had that matched. I grabbed 30-year-old fabric, brand-new stuff and from every era in between.

I was supposed to have two stripes but I only had one. Still, I was fairly pleased with my fabric pull. Then I got to class and my friend asked my advice in choosing between a couple of stripes she had brought. One totally worked for her and the other didn’t – but… People… it matched my fabric selection like it was made specifically to be there. I couldn’t have done as well if I had gone into a store and bought a complete line of fabric. She offered it to me, and it made my quilt sing. Thank you, Leslie!

Third, so many things. This pattern is not my usual style. It’s not rooted in tradition, I can’t cut it with my Accuquilt, and I didn’t pull a single fabric from my scrap buckets AND, it’s got Y-seams. Y-frickin’-seams, People. In short, I would never have made it if I hadn’t moved outside my comfort zone and took that class.

I don’t know about you, but every time I look at this quilt, I say, “Wow!” It’s just so vivid, so bold, so modern – you wouldn’t think you could get this look from a bunch of vintage fabrics, would you?

And to bring this story full circle, I’m giving it to my daughter Magnolia for her 23rd birthday. She never got that crib set I planned, but this quilt will serve her better and for longer than a crib quilt ever would have.

I sent her a picture today and she loves it. She said triangles are her favorite shape. I didn’t know that but, like everything about this quilt, it’s serendipity!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Birdie in My Cabin

Remember this scene from Little Miss Sunshine?

Olive: Grandpa, am I pretty?

Grandpa: You are the most beautiful girl in the world.

Olive: You’re just saying that.

Grandpa: No! I am madly in love with you and it’s not because of your brains or your personality.

That scene captures perfectly my feelings for this quilt. You see, I often make ugly quilts. I love those too. They have great personality and hold deep meaning for me, but they do not fit the commonly held definition for beauty. Birdie in My Cabin does in my humble opinion.

Imagine a parent who has a bunch of ugly children and then, out of the blue, gives birth to a future Miss America. That’s me right now! I love my other kids, but this one is super-special. (I know we’re supposed to espouse the beauty of all children, but that’s not reality if we are being totally honest with each other, and I think we should be, don’t you?)

Let me give you the facts… This quilt measures 65 x 70 inches. It is a log cabin design, very traditional, but the following elements plant it firmly in the modern genre:

  • Low-volume fabrics with fresh accents in soft aqua/turquoise with an occasional punch of orange
  • Star sashing – I love this element and will use it again!
  • Faced binding, hand finished with big-stitch quilting

My friend Barb Rubio of Camokai Studio here on Oahu did the long-arm quilting for me, and it too is pretty and sweet. We decided on a light grey thread that accents nicely without overpowering this quiet composition.

Every quilt has a genesis. Mine is usually a fabric but sometimes it’s a pattern. In this case it’s this adorable birdie print. I used it as the center of each block and also for the majority of the back.

The other fabrics are a mix of vintage and contemporary prints. They are all from my stash or scrap bin. This soft floral print is at least 20 years old. I made a sweet, smocked dress for my oldest daughter from it decades ago. I had a tiny piece of Tula Pink’s Saltwater Octo Garden that made it into the mix, and I don’t remember where or when I bought this orange/turquoise piece but it works perfectly for a little punch of color. The stars in the sashing are a Kona cotton I had on my shelf. 

Designing a new quilt is my absolute favorite part of the process and I love to challenge myself by using only what I have on hand. I feel like when you can sneak a few vintage pieces into a quilt, you create something truly unique.

If I had to describe Birdie in My Cabin with one word, it would be “tweet.” I mean, “sweet.” It’s soft and pretty and quiet. I think it would make a great baby quilt, but too bad because I am keeping it for myself. Maybe I will give it to my grandchild one day…if she is not ugly. Haha. Just kidding. (As if my gorgeous girls would have anything other than beautiful children!)

Back of Birdie in My Cabin

I Put a Hex on You

You know how some quilts are super-special? They have a back story, they have great meaning and you invest a lot of emotion into them. They give you ALL the feels… Well, this is not that kind of quilt. This is more of a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of quilt, if you know what I mean.

I Put a Hex on You

That’s not to say I don’t love it, because I do. I really do. The colors are fun and bright, the fabrics are playful, and the pattern is pleasing to the eye. This quilt is basically eye candy. I’m not emotionally attached to it, but I like looking at it.

If you’re wanting a good time, you should definitely give this pattern a try. It goes together so quickly and it’s fun. I finished it with simple but effective straight-line quilting.

The genesis of this quilt

My inspiration was two-pronged: a) this lovely daisy fabric. It’s been in my stash forever. As I drove into work one morning, I was contemplating how I could finally put it to good use. That’s when I remembered b) the new tool I had recently purchased, this hexagon template from Missouri Star Quilt Company. I have the large which works perfectly with layer cakes (10-inch squares). It does a fabulous job of showcasing your favorite prints. You can also get the small hexagon which can be used with jelly rolls (2.5-inch strips) or charm packs (5-inch squares).

My favorite thing about this quilt is the fabric. There’s some grunge (Moda Grunge Hits the Spot in Vert), which is one of my favorite fabric lines of all time. I would love to have a bolt of every color in every pattern. There’s a little Cotton + Steel in the form of tiny pandas. (Cotton + Steel Paper Bandana Panda Bebe Pearl) Lots of florals and dots and a few baby deer. How cute is that?

So cute!

The back is also adorable (Michael Miller Road Trip Hit the Road in Celestial). Even though I bought it recently, it wasn’t specifically for this quilt so I’m going to say ALL of the fabric came from my stash. Yeah! I get so excited when I use my stash. The really cool thing about that is – it all goes together so well, it could have been a single line of fabric. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t happen every day for me. I usually end up buying something for a new quilt.

Friday Five

When it comes to quilting, I love all the things. I WANT all the things. I buy as many of the things as I can afford, and maybe a little more. I justify this because I don’t buy jewelry. I wear flip flops almost exclusively, so I don’t spend much on shoes, and my annual budget for makeup is minuscule. I am mostly a low-maintenance gal, except for this one area.

As I was sewing today, I was thinking about my most favorite things of the moment and decided you probably want to know about them too, so here they are in no particular order…

Dritz Quilting Crystal Glass Head Pins I’ve never been infatuated with a pin before now, but these are just gorgeous. The picture doesn’t quite capture their luminescence. A friend had some at a recent sew-in and – after deciding it would be rude to steal them from her – grilled her like a cheap steak until she told me where to buy my own. I included the link above so you don’t have to resort to desperate measures.

 


This current WIP, which was a UFO for a long time, but which I recently got back into. I should finish it this month and it will only have taken two years. Yay. I call it Chaos Theory and I adore it. Is it bad form to tell people how much you love your own work? I hope not, because I just can’t help myself. I love it. This is Block 15 of 16, so I’m almost there.


Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea, 50 Tea Bags This tea is not technically a quilting supply BUT… I’ve been drinking the shit out of it while I quilt and it’s damn good, so I’m counting it. It’s also a hell of a deal over on Amazon. I bought three boxes and I’m thinking about buying more just in case there’s an unexpected zombie apocalypse or something. I mean, anything could happen at any time and I like to be prepared.


Accuquilt Studio Dies Working on Chaos Theory has made me appreciate my Studio cutter more than ever. All those 2.5″ squares and half-square triangles would take eons to cut with scissors or a rotary cutter, but with these two dies I can cut enough squares for several blocks in about 10 or 15 minutes. 


Modern Quilt Magic: 5 Parlor Tricks to Expand Your Piecing Skills – 17 Captivating Projects This book by Victoria Findlay Wolfe is really, really great. Look at this pillow I made from it. It’s so cute and even though it has partial seams, it was super-easy thanks to VFW’s wonderful instructions. As soon as I finish Chaos Theory, I am going to make a king-size quilt to go with my new pillow. Hopefully in a more reasonable time frame. BTW, I also love her double wedding ring book. I haven’t attempted that yet but she gives me hope I can do it one day.

Narwhals Are for Real

News flash, People… narwhals are NOT fictional characters. They actually exist. Maybe you knew that, but until today, I did not.

Just in case you are even less informed than me, narwhals are whales with a unicorn-like horn. Google them. They’re fascinating.

So basically, I just experienced a paradigm shift. My mind has been blown. On one hand, I’m horrified I remained so ignorant for so long. On the other, I’m enchanted to learn these magical creatures are more than just a fairy tale.

My introduction to narwhals was an adorable quilting fabric by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller fabrics.

Out to Sea by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller

Perhaps you can understand my confusion. Who could guess these unicorns of the sea were based on real animals? Not I, my friend. NOT. I.

Now I am not a stupid person, but I’ll be the second to admit I don’t know everything. (My mother-in-law would be the first.) That is especially true when it comes to quilting, so one of my top goals for 2018 is to expand my skill-set.

I recently purchased Modern Quilt Magic by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and am going to spend the next few months learning to sew partial seams. I also want to continue my adventures in straight-line quilting using my digital dual feed foot. I had a great experience with that while working on Positively Scrappy.

Do you set sewing goals every year? If so, what do you have planned for 2018? Perhaps a lovely narwhal quilt?

Happy New Year, My Friend.