Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More Sewing for Baby

I have to have something to do while waiting for grandbaby, so this week I made these little burp cloths and bibs. They are mostly flannel and reversible, with left over Warm and White batting inside. The MSU bib has a backing of the cotton fabric I used for the applique on the front. 

The pattern for the burp cloths is from a template I found on homemade by jill. I tried to find the source of the pattern I used for the bibs (I first used it three years ago). There are lots of templates online, but not the exact one I used. I was going to quilt them, but decided that plain was okay.

These are fun to whip up. Maybe I'll make some more after baby comes.

In the meantime, I think I'll make a little pillow to support mommy's back in the rocker. Ohh, I think there's some gramma-style nesting going on. 

They're not technically quilts, but they are 3 layers with batting, so I'm linking up today with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. 

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sunshine and a Finish!

Biggest news first: we have a sunny day!! Maybe the first time this month. And it was warm enough (in the 40's F) to go for a long walk on a trail near our house, even if we had to turn back after a couple of miles due to flooding. I do like snow in December, but this year I was okay without it. I just didn't like the dark weather. (We did have snow--big, crazy flakes--for a few minutes on Christmas eve, but that was it.) 

It was nice to be outside, but I was happy about the sun for another reason--I had a finish to photograph! Yippee!. I first went out this morning, but the sun was so bright (no, I'm not complaining) that it made sharp shadows, so I did wait until later today. I'm still not artistic about setting up a photo shoot. Maybe someday. Today I used hangers instead of coaxial cable and clothes pins (borrowed the neighbor's fence again). I tried a shot on a tree limb, but the wind whipped the quilt around so that didn't work out. 

Anyway, here it is: Grandbaby's quilt is finally done, after posting about my progress for what seems like for. ev. er. 

If you want to read about my progress, you can read the posts herehereherehere, and here.

The finished quilt measures 48 by about 54 inches. I wasn't planning to make it that big. I was going to make it 7 blocks wide, but when I drew it out, for some reason, I drew 8 blocks and then didn't notice until I had figured out the color placement. The larger blocks on the front are 6 inches and the chevron blocks are 3 inches. The sash strips are about 1 1/2 inches wide. (Block and sash measurements are without seam allowance added.) The sashes were going to be 1 1/4 inches, but when I goofed on the drawing, I decided to make them wider to add a little to the length, too. Don't ask me why. I don't really know.) On the back, the blocks are 12 inches, the top and bottom sashes are 5 inches wide, the middle sashes are 4 inches and the side sashes are 6 inches (plus seam allowance). I used Warm and White batting and Superior King Tut cotton thread in Mint Julep for the quilting. I pieced it on my Singer featherweight and quilted it with meanders on my Singer 115 Treadle. 

This quilt gave me some challenges. (You can read about some of them in previous posts.) And because of the challenges, I ended up liking the back better than the front. Funny how that happens. I try to learn from every quilt I make, though. 

My first challenge was finding fabrics with patterns I liked in colors that matched the nursery. If I was a person with a large stash, that might not have been a problem (and of course, now that the quilt's done, I've seen some fabrics in the stores that would have been perfect but weren't available before), but having a larger stash is not something I'm planning on, so I have to live with that. 

I had it in my head that I wanted sort of a scrappy look that would create some movement around the quilt. But if I had used fewer fabrics or used just one fabric for the main part of each pinwheel, there might have been more punch to the design. Sometimes less is more. Maybe that's why I like the back so much. I also wanted to use a bit of white because there was some in the changing pad design that was the color palette inspiration. I started out with Kona snow, but there was not enough contrast with the pale turquoise of the background, so I went with a bright white. Even that sort of got lost. So I sewed a line of minty thread in the ditch along each white piece before basting the quilt. It does help define the white a bit more, especially when you're close up to the quilt. But I probably could have skipped the white.

Another challenge was quilting through or near the intersections where 8 seams meet, but I think I did okay with that. It did affect the stitch length a bit. 

Let's see. What else? Oh, I know I wrote about being kind of picky about not chopping off points in the design, and then I went and chopped some off when I was attaching the binding. That is reason right there to attach even a tiny border before binding, but oh well. I also realized that even though I always attach binding by machine to quilts that will be washed a lot, I really don't like sewing binding down by machine. I'm just not that good at it and always catch some of the binding with the stitches on the the back. I could pick those areas out to redo, but you know what? I'm not going to, and I don't think this baby will mind. 

I used one of the fabrics of the top to make the binding, and it turned out okay (I really like the little crosshatch in the design that might not be visible in the photo), but I always cringe when the binding is right next to a patch of the same fabric in the top. That only happened with a couple of patches in this quilt, but if I had found a totally different fabric, I wouldn't have had that happen. Or I could have put the other turquoise fabric in those areas, but I was too much in a hurry to finish.

This quilt is pretty heavy. I wanted to use a lighter weight batting, but the fabric I used for the background turned out to be kind of sheer, and I needed the whitest batting I could find to keep it from looking yellowish. That background fabric is by the American Made Brand, and I'll have to keep that in mind if I use a light color from the line again. I didn't mind sewing with it, but it is kind of sheer. 

Anything else? I did learn that I could quilt with a broken part on the presser bar on my machine, but that was not fun. And in a couple of places, I got a bit of a metal smudge on the back of the quilt from too much pressure. I'm hoping I can lighten them a bit, but they'll probably not be noticeable after it's washed. So my biggest learning experience from this quilt is ahead of me--changing an almost 100 year old sewing machine part for another of the same vintage. 

Overall, despite what sounds like complaining, I'm happy with the quilt. (It put all of this negative stuff in because I really do want to learn as I go and make sure I document things to consider in the future.) I definitely like it better close up than far away for some reason, and in the nursery, it will always be close up. And it will look great in there. I think baby will like it. Can't wait to meet him in 2 1/2 weeks (or less). 

Oh, and the giraffe on the back is Melman because that's what my granddaughter "named" her baby brother a long time ago. But this past week she changed her mind and now calls him Alex after the lion from the same movie as Melman. It will be fun to see her reaction when she finds out what her baby brother's name really is. 

I'm linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday, with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, and with Sew Fresh Quilts for TGIFF. 

If you're still reading, have a fun weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Happy Holidays!

I decided a year ago that I wanted to make a little vintage-y looking Christmas wall quilt. I was going to make my own pattern, but then I found a picture of one online. It's by Eileen Bahring Sullivan from 1994. I ordered it from a company--and it never came. It turned out that the company was no longer in business. After Christmas I found it somewhere else, so I ended up making it several months later. But I still need to quilt it--maybe over the next couple of weeks--it's only 23 by 26 inches, so that should be pretty easy. (I told myself I had to wait until after I got my grandbaby quilt done, and I finished that last night. Yippee! Baby can be born now.) The quilt is freezer paper pieced. 

And here's what my husband was doing while I was messing around with this post:

Rusk Pie! Yummy goodness. It's a good thing there is one good baker in this family. (He's a good cook, too--just what a quilter needs, right?)

I'm linking up with Bonnie K. Hunter's Quiltville today for A Very Happy Holiday Linky Party. And yes, Bonnie, I do make quilts "out of season" because when I get my ideas for seasonal quilts, it's always too late to make them. 

I'm linking up to Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social, too.

I'll try to get photos of my finished baby quilt soon--if it ever stops raining... 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I've spent the last few days arguing--with my WIP. 

When I started this little row quilt, I really wasn't thinking about how I was going to quilt it. I sort of subscribe to the quilter's notion that when it comes time for quilting, the quilt will tell me what it needs. (I know other quilters feel this way, too.) 

As I got closer to having the top and back finished, I thought it might be nice to use my new walking foot to quilt--but I still wasn't sure what that would mean. Then I thought that some free-motion meandering in the background and some other quilting to make the main parts of the pinwheels pop might work. I tried out several ideas using some new Quilter's Touch preview paper that I had recently won in a giveaway, but all I ended up with was a lot of random scribbling and no definite ideas. And some of my ideas would have required a lot of stops and starts, and I sure didn't want to do that. A diagonal grid would work, but it would slice through parts of the pinwheels and make them look more like half-square triangles. As I looked at my quilt, it dawned on me: this quilt really wanted to be hand quilted--with those little quarter inch lines inside the seams and maybe some decorative designs in the sashes. But I don't have time for that. The baby is due in 3 1/2 weeks, and, and...

I spent several days arguing with the quilt and procrastinating by wrapping Christmas presents and sending out some cards. (Yes, those things needed to get done, but we all know I was avoiding making any decisions about the quilting.) I looked up lots of quilting images and websites for inspiration until I came to a post by Cheryl Arkison of Dining Room Empire. She talked about her experience of trying to quilt something in a way she thought she should and then came to the realization that the quilt was for a child who was going to actually use it--and not in a way that we would want to use a show quilt. Her conclusion was to keep the quilting simple with "something all over so the piecing shines." And there I had my answer. I would go with simple meandering, which is what I've done with most of my machine quilted quilts. It might not be what the quilt wanted, but it will certainly suit the baby boy who gets it. 

I started it today with some yummy mint green thread that I think works with the light turquoise background and the darker and brighter colors in the patchwork. (I usually use white or off white, so this is quite daring for me.) It will look fine on the front and on the "other" quilt on the back. It won't take long, and before you know it, I'll be ready for that little grandbaby to arrive. Thanks to Cheryl, I'm keeping it simple.

But here's a sad side note to this story: Today, while I was quilting, my presser bar lifter suddenly stopped working. (I could move it, but it didn't lift the presser foot.)  When I took the face plate off to see what was going on, a chunk of metal that sticks out on the presser bar fell out. It had snapped clean off. It must have been metal fatigue or something. I was stunned. My machine just celebrated it's 99th "birthday" and had been humming along beautifully. At first I thought that my treadling was ended, but I figured out that I could still raise the foot by hand. I'm so bummed though. I guess after this quilt is finished, I'll start doing some research to see if I can find a "new" presser bar part. Otherwise, there might have to be a new search for another treadle machine--don't really want to do that, but now I understand why people start collecting multiple machines. Anyway, all's okay for now. 

I'm linking up this week with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday. I won't be doing my usual Throwback Thursday post because I have some holiday things going the rest of the week. 

Oh, also Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. (How did I forget that?)

Have a good week, everyone!

Quick update: I looked online and found a replacement part of the same vintage for my treadle. I'll have to hone my mechanical skills to install it, but yippee!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ornament finishes

Well, it's not a quilt finish this week, but a finish nonetheless, and when it's a Christmas present finish, well that's a very good thing. 

While I was waiting for some fabric to arrive so I could get back to my baby quilt project, I took advantage of the time off to make my yearly ornaments for my kids and granddaughter. I don't think they read my blog (and my daughter is temporarily banned from looking at it since my current quilt project is kind of for her), so I think it's okay to share here. 

My son got married this year and he and my new daughter-in-law just bought a house, so it was easy to pick a theme for their ornament--a picture of their new house with their dog playing in the yard. It's paper foundation pieced and hand embroidered.

My daughter and son-in-law enjoy vacationing at Lake Michigan, so this year I made them an accidental landscape ornament. I love how quick these make up and how just about any little scrap works. I'm pleased with how it turned out. 

Instead of binding these little guys, I attached a little border to look like binding. I used some green/red fabric on the back for a Christmas-y feel. 

The other ornament is for my granddaughter. Each year (so far) anyway, I've made a Christmas ornament for her that reflects back to her Halloween costume. Her first one was a penguin and her second one was an owl. But this year, she had an opinion about what she wanted to be and it was Dash from the Incredibles. Never mind that Dash is a boy. She wanted to be him because he runs fast. (His hair matches hers, too, but that similarity was probably lost on her.) She was a very good Dash, showing all the right moves when she was in costume. So her ornament had to be Dash. I found a free coloring page online and colored it with felt and hand embroidery. I got carried away and also made a Dash outfit for her doll, so now I'm definitely all Dashed out. Done with it.

Just to show the back 
Oh, and I also made a couple sets of boot inserts for presents that cost me nothing at all. 

I made the same pattern as here, but this time I stuffed them with some left over chair cushion material around scraps of foam core board. The fabric is some coordinated material that my daughter bought several years ago when planning a nursery. We ended up not using it--so now she gets it back as boot inserts. And her sister-in-law benefits, too. 

I love making Christmas gifts that use up odds and ends. 

I'm linking up today with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday and with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Remembering Sandy

I've hesitated in writing this post because until I started writing this blog, there was a part of my quilt making that I kept pretty quiet: making quilts for donation. It was something I did privately, and I somehow felt that if I told others about it, it was sort of bragging about charitable giving. But I've decided to share my stories about donating quilts, because if my story prompts just one other person to make a quilt to donate, then there will be two more people blessed with a quilt--the recipient and the quilter. 

I made my first donation quilt a little over two years ago. After Hurricane Sandy, a call went out from Luana Rubin of Equilter to make as many quilts as possible for people who had lost their homes and belongings. The quilts would be collected and distributed by the owners of Timeless Treasures. I had recently won an online fabric giveaway which, coincidentally, was a big bundle of blue and white winter-themed fabric from a line by Timeless Treasures. The name of the line and designer escapes me right now, but it was beautiful. When I read about the victims of Hurricane Sandy and the quilt collection, I knew immediately that I would use that fabric to make a quilt to donate. 

I combined the fabric bundle with just one other blue print fabric and some white-on-white prints to make the second largest quilt I had ever made. I didn't have time to design my own pattern, so I found one called Summer at the Beach at England Street Quilts. It seemed perfect for my fabrics, which I guess would make the quilt Winter at the Beach. It sewed up quickly, but then what to do? I had been a hand quilter for a long time, but the only large quilt I had ever made took me years to finish. So I decided to do what I usually did with baby quilts at that time--I tied it using polyester batting, a blue flannel backing (flannel had been suggested for warmth) and blue and white perle cotton. I had a hard time not handquilting the quilt, so I included just a little in the center, with the words "Hope, Comfort, Strength" and the year. 

So with that introduction, here is the quilt (I'm not sure of its exact dimensions, but I'm guessing about 75 by 95 or a little more)

I finished the quilt at the end of November 2012. I sent it off to Timeless Treasures to be distributed. A short time later, I saw a picture online of a woman carrying my quilt away from one of the distribution sites. It was such a neat feeling to know that the quilt had found a home. 

And here's a little side note. Several months later, I received a thank you package from Timeless Treasures--it was a set of fabric squares, that I made into a sewing machine cover. Now, whenever I sew, I remember the importance (and joy) of quilting for others--not just myself or family and friends.
And here are two big effects of making that first donation quilt: I decided that I needed a way to quilt quilts more quickly for donation. It started me on a search for a treadle machine. I found one the following summer and have been happily quilting on it ever since. Also, I pledged that if I ever won fabric in a giveaway again, I would use it for donation quilts. I was able to make several quilts that way this past year and have enough fabric to make several more this coming year. Yippee, and thank you to everyone that makes this possible!!

If you've never made a quilt for donation before, I urge to you give it a try. You will not regret it. I direct most of my quilts to a favorite organization in my state, but there are many out there, and there are many opportunities to comfort others with quilts. And if you make donation quilts, I am so happy for you. I love reading about them in yours posts!

I'm linking up today with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Nursery projects

Still working on the back of Baby's Row Quilt. I thought I'd have it done today, but I ran out of some fabric I was using and couldn't get it in town. I have some (hopefully) similar fabric on order, so while waiting for it, I've been sewing as much as I can of the back, and I also made the crib skirt and pennants (my granddaughter calls them flags and announced the other day that she wanted flags like the ones in her room for her little brother--who am I to disappoint her?)

So here they all are:
"Melman" the giraffe--based on a pattern from Margaret Rolfe

Square-in-square blocks from the quilt back

Part of the crib skirt and pennants
Because of the placement of crib supports, the crib skirt is actually five pieces that will be tied onto the mattress support. (The ties won't show, but it's still fun to use nursery colors for them. There are nine "flags." The lighter orange one isn't sewn yet because it's a placeholder for the piece of fabric I'm waiting for, and then it will be moved to the end. 

I've also been making some Christmas ornaments while waiting for the mail. I'll save those for my Friday post. 

I'm linking up today with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Throwback Thursday--Baby T's Quilt

This is a new post in a series about quilts I completed before I started blogging. It is my effort to document past quilts with pictures and as many details as I can remember (often not many) about how I constructed them. I'll be posting these indefinitely on Throwback Thursday. 

Today's quilt is one I made just over a year ago for my grandniece T. I was inspired by this pattern from Anna at Six White Horses because of the sharp points and the crisp white in the narrow strips. I made a very long foundation paper pattern for the chevron parts.

The palette I was given for the nursery colors was Rainwashed paint by Sherwin Willliams, pencil yellow and cherry red. I shopped all of my local quilt shops and a few online stores to collect as many fabrics as I could in those colors. There's also a fabric on the back that I found at an antique mall (not antique fabric, though). I think I used Kona Snow for the white, as that is my go to for white when I don't want it to jump out too much. The back was pieced from leftovers and fabrics that didn't make the cut for the front. 

My signature quilt picture--"with legs"

Kinda dark and breezy--the actual quilt is more lively
The quilt measured 42 by 49 inches before washing. I hand quilted it with cotton thread and Mountain Mist Cream Rose Cotton batting. I used straight lines following the chevrons in some rows and meandering in others.

Baby T turned 1 a few days ago. Time sure flies. She's cute as a button. 

I'm linking up today with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Row Quilt Back Plan?

Silly me, I thought I'd have a quilt back to share today. Right. With a full weekend that started with family for Thanksgiving, and then went on to a visit to the children's museum, an early birthday party for my daughter and granddaughter (since we couldn't be with them on the big day yesterday), and a road trip to help my son and daughter-in-law move into their new home, well, quilt construction took a back seat, and that's okay.

I did get the front of Baby's Row Quilt finished yesterday. I just have to remove some paper. So now I'm planning the back, and then it's off to the fabric store to buy a few bits of fabric because I didn't plan for the back when I started the quilt. Here's what I've got so far for an idea:

Maybe square in a square or a simple nine patch, or some of each. Oh, and a giraffe. There are giraffes on the changing pad cover that started the color scheme for this quilt, but my daughter said she's not going crazy with the giraffe theme. Well, I just had to include one on the back. When my granddaughter found out she was going to have a baby brother, she first named him Elmo, but now she says his name is going to be Melman (the giraffe from the movie Madagascar). So Melman it is--on the back of the quilt. 

I'm linking up today with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social.