Sunday, December 27, 2015

Best of 2015 Linky Party

Well, hello there! I'm technically still on my blogcation right now, but I couldn't resist doing this one post. Cheryl over at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Linky Party this week where we can share our five Best of 2015 posts. What and how we share is up to us. I've decided to share the five posts that were the most fun for me to write (plus a bonus post link--because I just couldn't leave it out). They aren't my most popular posts or ones with the most comments, but they please me most. They do have a theme--they're all about quilts I made for family. So here goes.

The first two are Throwback Thursday posts, where I share about quilts I made before I started blogging. I have more than thirty years worth of pre-blog quilts so I won't run out of these anytime soon. I really enjoy looking back at my old quilting projects. I've linked these up to various parties, most recently the Throwback Thursday party at A Quarter Inch from the Edge. (The button is on the right.) 

1. Throwback Thursday--Hetch Hetchy  This is about a quilt I made for my dad for his 90th birthday. It represents my love of tiny paper pieced designs of landscapes and buildings and my love of making little gift quilts of places meaningful to the recipients. We'll be celebrating Dad's 92nd birthday in a few days!

2. Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition--The 13-year Bed Quilt This is my favorite post this year about a pre-blog quilt. I made the quilt for me and my husband--and it has been around in one form (unfinished) or another (on our bed) for most of our marriage. It was so much fun remembering the process (and our long-ago life ) even though time has taken its toll on the quilt. The quilt will be replaced as soon as I get around to it. The marriage is still strong, though. No need for replacement.

The next two posts relate to the biggest events of our year--the births of our two grandsons. Two of the best reasons to make quilts!

3. Best Kind of Finish Okay, this post isn't about the quilt so much, but it WAS one of the most fun to write! The quilt was actually finished just before the end of 2014. You can read about it here (bonus link). 

4. He's here! This post is about the quilt I made for our second grandson. But it also represents the inspiration I get from other quilters in the blog community. The patterns on both the front and the back and the color idea for the quilt top are from blogs I read regularly. I truly enjoy getting to know other quilters through their blogs and their quilts.

And finally...

5. Big Quilt Flimsy Finish I had to include this one because it pretty much sums up what this year has been for me as far as quilting goes. I have finished 4 quilts as well as 18 tiny projects and have started 2 other quilts, but otherwise this is THE quilt this year. It's taken more time than I ever thought it would, and I've had to fill in with lots of posts about pre-blog quilts, vacations and flowers just to have something else to post about. I started planning this quilt near the beginning of the year, pieced it between April and June, and have been picking away at the quilting ever since. I'd like to say it's almost done, but it's not. It is over half way, though, and I'm happy to say that I'm getting faster, so I really hope to finish it this winter. It's for my son and daughter-in-law. I guess it's kind of a wedding present, except that they've been married for nearly 1 1/2 years. Sigh.

I have a few more days of blogcation, then I'll be back to show you the little things I made this past month, a sweet gift, my plans for the next project, and of course, more Throwback Thursday quilts. In the meantime, we continue with holiday celebrations here, and I'll also be sure to take a peek at all of your Best of 2015 posts. 

Have a Happy New Year! (And thanks, Cheryl, for hosting this party!)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition: Holiday Craft Show Quilts

Early in my quilting life, I made a collection of individual blocks with a border from a 1982 (I think) block-of-the-month quilt calendar. It was a primitive looking calendar with black printing on large-format colored paper sort of like construction paper, bound with a cord (yarn?). Each month had a drawing of a quilt block, and on the back of the page was a pattern for the block. I don't remember most of the quilt block names. The one that does come to mind was "Toad in the Puddle" to represent April. Each month I shopped for bits of fabric, taking care to represent the month as well as I could. For example, I remember that one of the fabrics I choose for January was a bluish gray with small whitish dots that suggested falling snow, and the block for November had a quiet cream/light brown print with tiny oak leaves. As I recall, the patterns also included suggestions and drawings for quilting designs, so I carefully constructed each block, and by the end of the year I had a collection of little quilts that became my kitchen "calendar" for the next several years, displayed with a simple paper calendar underneath. 

After I tired of the quilty calendar, those blocks lived in a box under my bed for many years. I finally donated 11 of them to a thrift store a couple of years ago. I never thought to take pictures of them, so I have nothing to show for them--except for the December block. I still use it as a table mat under a little Christmas tree in my family room. 

In 1986, my next door neighbor, who was a crafter, and I decided to try selling our wares at holiday craft shows. I made some wall hangings from blocks sort of like the ones I had made for the calendar. They were small and quick to make, so I could build up an inventory without too much work.  I'd like to say this little venture was a rousing success. I did get to know my neighbor well as we sat smiling at prospective customers and engaging them in conversation--or at least trying to make eye contact with them as they passed our table. But trying to sell our little items was excruciating, and our business did not last long. I did sell some of my hangings, but not enough to make it worth sitting at a booth for whole days. My family and friends became recipients of the rest of my inventory, and I kept a few blocks for myself. 

I'm glad I tried selling at shows, and I have great admiration for quilters and other crafters/artists who can successfully sell that way. But it just wasn't for me. I had some success selling some quilted ornaments at a consignment craft shop, but I didn't enjoy sitting in a booth all day, and I also realized something else. As I became more interested in quilting, I found that I wanted to do more extensive, detailed projects. And I didn't like the shortcuts I tended to make so that I could price items low enough to sell easily and still make some money. I had started quilting for others and making some commission quilts by then, and that was much more satisfying to me at that time of my life. I had lots of creative freedom and knew that everything I started was already sold. Perhaps, if I had had the array of modern tools and techniques that are available now, I'd have been able to do the kind of work I really wanted to do more economically. Times have changed, and I know that there are also other platforms for sales that can really be satisfying businesses. But I'm beyond that now and just happy to make whatever whenever. 

I started regularly documenting my quilts with photography in 1985, so I actually have pictures of some of these quilts. Without further ado, here is my little gallery (pardon the blurriness--most of these are scanned pre-digital photos). I'm showing the backs as well as the fronts as they might show the quilting a little better. Most of the quilts are 16 inches square. Some are an inch or two bigger.

Country colors! It was the 80's, after all

More country!

I still have this one (in a closet).

And one more set:

I still have the log cabin quilt. We put up a storm door over our front door earlier this year, and I just realized that I can now hang quilts with protection from the weather. (I know, I know, the sun will fade them eventually--but I can make more). I don't use really bright red in interior decorating anymore, but my front porch has all those red chairs. So here's how this quilt looks now hanging "outside." I like how it really shows up--even from the curb.

These memory posts get pretty lengthy, but since this is a holiday post, I have to share one more quilt. I finished this Feathered Star quilt for my sister-in-law in 1988. I drafted the pattern myself, and it was a challenge, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out, and I guess my sister-in-law is, too. She emailed me a couple of days ago to let me know that she has just hung it for the 28th season!! It's 33 inches square and hand quilted. 

I've quilted tops for others that have a Christmas theme, but I've only made one other for myself. I've shown it before on the blog. You can see it here. 

Thanks for sticking with me for my memories of a failed little business venture but an enduring love of quilting. I'm linking up with Jenn from Quarter Inch from the Edge for Throwback Thursday.

Until next time (next year!!)....Happy Holidays! Keep on quilting, and follow your business or not.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

HIP Wednesday (Holidays in Progress)--or is that WHIP?

I spent most of today doing FMQ. It was a windy, rainy day, so quilting seemed the best thing to do. And it was going well. I did not have to pick out stitches on 1 1/2 patches due to tension problems like I did on Sunday. (Did you know that if your thread wraps around the screw that holds your presser foot on, the back of your quilt ends up feeling really ratty? And if you haven't done a check for a while, you get to spend a whole evening unsewing? It's all kinds of fun. Try it and see.) 

So, anyway, as I was quilting, my mind started wandering around thoughts of the remainder of the year, which includes not only some major holidays, but also three family birthdays (and prep for another birthday early in January). Which also means several little quilting/sewing projects that I can't show here until after the holidays. Oh, and there might be a painting project that's been waiting, oh, maybe 10 years or so. 

Here's my conclusion from all the thinking I did: It's time to take a little break--a blogcation. I think everyone's probably totally sick of seeing my slow progress on the Big Quilt. I have made some progress on the Fall Leaves quilt (but nothing earth shaking to show), and I've done nothing on the Lake Michigan quilt in the last couple of weeks. Given the time of year, I think my progress will be even slower over the next few weeks. And there won't be much else I can show because anything I do work on is secret for the time being. I do plan to do my monthly link-up post for Throwback Thursday at the beginning of December, but otherwise, I'm going to just enjoy seeing what everyone else is doing--when I'm not celebrating. After the first of the year, I'll share my holiday projects and any progress on my quilts, and then I'll get back to my usual blogging routine.  

As I finished quilting today, I looked around the room. 

This bed has looked this way for the past several weeks. Actually, it looks like this most of the time. There are at least three projects and several project inspirations on it and assorted quilting paraphernalia. I'm going to need this bed for my daughter's family this weekend. There are also two other rooms that are part of my "studio," so obviously I have a little cleaning up to do. And then? Bring on the celebrations!

I'm linking up this week with Sew Fresh Quilts and with Val's Quilting Studio (with apologies to Valerie because this isn't an archive post but is what my space looks like right now--the theme for her linky party this week). The linky party buttons are on the right.

Here's wishing you lots of fun celebrations in the coming weeks! See you again in the new year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Trunk Show!

This week, Soma at Whims and Fancies is hosting an online Trunk Show of our favorite quilts. What fun! But wait, pick my favorite quilts? That's like having to pick a favorite child or grandchild (all of them, thank you very much). 

So I've been thinking about my quilts and what might best represent my style. I've been quilting for a long time. My quilts tend to be derivative--based on a well-known block, a picture of a quilt or a design, or on a pattern from someone else. But there are some that are original designs, and even though I haven't made many, I think they are quilts that are uniquely me. Those are pictorial quilts made with either foundation paper or freezer paper piecing techniques, and they are the ones I've chosen to share today. If you want to read more about them, just click on the links in the title of each quilt. I've also included a couple of other quilts that are actually from patterns by others--but are representative of my style of choosing and combining fabrics. 


I made this quilt during 2012-2014 to remember a walk on a mild day during a winter of almost no snow. It is based on a clip of a video I took and is freezer paper pieced, hand quilted and made entirely from my scrap bins. I entered it in the Blogger's Quilt Festival in November 2014, and it won in the Art Category. It now hangs in my living room--perfect for this time of year.


I think this was my first attempt at a paper pieced original design, and oddly, I can't remember the exact technique I used. I made it in 2008 as a wedding present for my nephew and new niece. It was hand quilted.



I made these quilts for my sister-in-law (top quilt) in 2014 and for my brother (bottom) in 2012 for their birthdays. They love sailing and Lake Michigan. Years ago I made tiny versions of quilts using traditional block patterns, and I think these are an extension of that interest in working with small pieces. They are foundation paper pieced. The top quilt also has some layered top-stitch applique (Accidental Landscape technique by Karen Eckmeier). 

This little picture is of the lodge at Hetch Hetchy, the reservoir in Yosemite National Park that provides water to San Francisco. My grandfather built the lodge and it holds special meaning for my dad, so I made the tiny quilt for him for his 90th birthday in December 2013. It is foundation paper pieced with some layered applique and machine quilting. 

I am a long-time admirer of Ruth B. McDowell and her quilts. In fact, she is the quilter that inspired me to try making my own pictorial quilts. This is a pattern from her book Piecing Workshop and is a great way to practice the various techniques in freezer paper piecing. I used only fabric from my stash and hand quilted it. I completed this quilt in February 2013.

And finally, Poinsettia

This is from a pattern by Eileen Bahring Sullivan from 1994. I completed it in January 2015.
It's a foundation paper pieced quilt, and is the first time I did FMQ on a quilt of this type. 

So that's what's in my trunk. I hope you enjoyed my part of this show. I love making all sorts of quilts, but these types are the ones that are probably most "me" of all the quilts I make. 
I hope you head on over the the show and see what everyone else has on display. Please share your quilts, too. Oh, and did I mention there are treats? Check 'em out! The button is to the right. 

Gaining FMQ Confidence

After three restless weeks, I'm finally settling down and back to the treadle again. I now have three of the large blocks on the Big Quilt quilted, with some spillover quilting on surrounding blocks. This quilt is definitely going to be a little history of my growth in FMQ, especially on the blocks with the floral design. 

My favorite floral patch so far is the orange one in this picture. I can still see some wonkiness here and there, but it is the first block that I felt free enough to quilt without drawing much of the pattern before quilting. I'm getting lost in tight spots less now and am improvising a little more. I've started adding some curlicues here and there instead of just leaves when I get into a smallish space. Now I do have to say that I've been a bit more awkward on some of the patches after taking a break from FMQ, but that's okay. When the quilt is finished, it will be fun to compare my earlier and later attempts at quilting the flowers. 

In other news, I have a couple of snippets to add to the Throwback Thursday post I did last week. The day after I wrote the post, my son sent me a link to a realtor's website that he had come across, and it turns out that the little bungalow that we lived in while I was making that quilt is for sale! There were lots of pictures as well as a video of it, so I was able to see what changes there have been since we lived there. Most of them are cosmetic, and the place still has much of it's charm, especially in the kitchen. The wallpaper in the attic room is gone now (not surprising), and it looks like it just got a fresh coat of bright white paint (the electrical outlet covers were in a pile on the floor). It was fun to see the old house again, and it's such a coincidence that we were able to see it right after I wrote about it. 

The other little tidbit is that some of us fellow bloggers were discussing the fading of the old bedspread and wondering about the instability of older fabric dyes. As I was making the bed the other day (yes, the old quilt is still on it--I move slowly to make changes), I noticed that the fabric that I bought for the binding after I finished the quilting has not faded at all even though the other fabrics are in bad shape where the sunlight got to them. I wonder if that is because it was relatively newer fabric with a more stable dye. Can anyone shed any light (ha) on why there is such a difference in fading?

Otherwise, here's what else I've been up to this week. I have an old spool cabinet that I keep my thread, embroidery floss, and needles in, but now that I'm doing more FMQ, I've been investing in cones of thread that are too big for the spool cabinet drawers. So I decided to check out some antique stores for an old medicine cabinet for additional storage, and I found this little gem...

Selfie! (Old school style)
I'm not sure how old it is--probably not super old. It holds my thread cones nicely. That little tea towel was given to me at my wedding shower in 1978. I use it as a dust cover for my treadle when I'm not sewing. I'm thinking eventually I might hang a little scrap of fabric instead and pin some minis to it. 

Here's my other spool cabinet: 

Someone painted the label areas black and stuck little cherub decals on--I'm guessing this happened a long time ago given their poor condition. I was going to remove them, but I've grown attached to them--and they are part of its history. It was way too expensive, but this was what really grabbed my attention:

It still has the tin lithograph advertisement on the back from when it was in a shop! I have not seen one of these in any spool cabinets I've come across when antiquing. So cool! Just had to share this. It fits so well with my treadle. (Side note: Do you see those little paint chips on the wall behind the cabinet? Some colors I'm considering for painting my bedroom. Got to do that before I replace the old quilt on the bed.)

Well, enough rambling. I'm linking up this week with Sew Fresh Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation for their linky parties. Buttons are on the right. 

Have fun quilting, and remember, practice builds confidence when it comes to FMQ.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition: The 13-year Bed Quilt

You know those UFOs or WIPs or whatever you name your projects that seem like they'll never get done? I'm here to tell you that you can complete them (eventually) and enjoy them long afterwards, even if you initially bit off way more than you could chew.

Here is the quilt, which we've used on our bed from October to June each year for the last 20 years. 


I've raised the blinds in this picture and put all the lights on to get the truest color, but over the years, we've kept the blinds closed on the west window (on the left side of the picture). The other window faces north, so generally the room is fairly dark. This is how the quilt looks from the doorway. It looks pretty good for a 20-year old quilt doesn't it? Keep reading and I'll explain in a few minutes why I've included this tidbit about the lighting.

I started designing this quilt in August 1982. My diary told me so. I also still have a folder with odds and ends of plans and templates, including an old grocery store receipt for dish detergent (55 cents) with scribbled notes on it about yardage requirements. We were living in a rented duplex at the time with our 18-month old daughter. I had recently learned how to hand quilt and had it in my mind to make a bed quilt to replace a cheap store-bought bedspread we got when we married in 1978. 

I chose two blocks. I'm not sure of my source, but I have a note paper that mentions Puss in the Corner and Grandmother's Cross with the dates 1898 and 1931. I must have copied that information from a book. I also have the graph paper design that I colored and most of the templates that I made from graph paper and glued to plastic stencil material. 

Notice the double border at the top of the design. I used that so that the quilt was long enough to fold over our pillows and would still show a border, as you see in the picture of it on our bed. You can see a couple of options that I tried out at the top of the design page.

I'm not sure when I purchased the material for the quilt. I didn't mention this quilt in my diary again until June 1983, when I noted that I was working on it, and in October 1983, when I mentioned that I was still cutting pieces out--over a year after I started the design. And in February 1984 (!) I noted that I had started cutting out the blue pieces for the quilt. I wasn't using a rotary cutter yet, so all that cutting was by scissors after tracing around each template. Now, in between all that cutting, my son was born (July 1983), so I have some idea of what I was up to most of the time. But I also quilted a double wedding ring top for my sister-in-law and made some other quilts that I'll blog about sometime. 

In May 1984, we moved to a little bungalow. Our old bed quilt was now nearly 6 years old and looking a little worse for wear, but I was sure I'd get our new quilt finished soon and I refused to buy something else in the meantime. We lived in that house for 11 years. My husband and I had an attic bedroom (the kind with a sloped ceiling where you can only stand up straight when walking down the middle of the room). During that time, I won $100 worth of wallpaper (which went far in those days) at a local store. In my optimism about finishing the quilt, I chose wallpaper to match the new quilt--an ivory background with a tiny dark red and blue print--to cover the knee wall of our room and a navy striped paper (very much like the outer border of the quilt) which I cut apart and made into a border strip where the knee wall met the ceiling. Never mind that it did not go with the brown/navy bedspread with the giant stylized paisley that we were using.

After we moved, I took a job quilting for pay (I'll write about that some day soon). And there were always other projects to tackle. I abruptly stopped writing in my diary the day we moved, so my detailed notes about quilting the bed quilt ended. At some point I got it pieced. I still have the plan for the quilting design--which I soon found out was way more dense than I realized and would take (almost) forever to hand quilt. But I was committed, and there was no turning back. I made templates from plastic stencil material and drew around them with a silver lead pencil as I quilted in a hoop on my lap. 

Here's the design:

And here's how it looks in quilting:

Well, you probably know where this story is going. In 1995, we built a new house and moved into it in July. By that time the old bedspread from 1978 was pretty much shredded, and the "new" bedspread had never had a chance to enjoy its beautifully wallpapered attic room. So shortly after we moved, I made the push to finish the new quilt. I had to shop for new material for binding, but was lucky to find a red that was almost the exact same color as the original red fabric--it even had a little whitish figure in it. I finally finished the quilt 13 years after I started it, and we've been using it ever since. It used to hang all the way to the floor, but sometime along the way, we bought a new bed with a thicker mattress, so now there is a dark green dust ruffle added to the box spring. 

I didn't know a lot about fabric selection in those days (except that I knew I didn't want floral), so the quilt doesn't have a lot of contrast. It's not a style I'd pick now either, but I still like it and have a little feeling of excitement when I pull it out of the closet when the weather starts to cool in the fall. Because it took so long to make, I've never considered replacing it. However, the last couple of years, I've been noticing something...

Here's what the bottom right corner looks like today (I've folded it up to the top of the bed so you can see it):

And here's the left bottom corner--the one by the window that ALWAYS HAS THE BLIND DRAWN):

Faded! See that contrast between the two sides? It's getting worse really fast and starting to feel kind of rotten. The little bit of light from the setting sun through the blind each day did its damage. No matter how much we think we are protecting our quilts, light is an enemy, even if it does take 20 years to notice. 

I think this quilt is near the end of the line. (Understatement!) It looks fine from the doorway in low light, but something will need to be done soon. I'm thinking I might save the middle of the quilt--cut it down to a lap size and re-bind it for an emergency car quilt. I would love to make a whole cloth quilt in off-white to replace it. But I have to be realistic. It would probably take me way too long to do that, even with machine quilting. The blanket you see under the bed quilt is actually a commercially made off-white cotton quilt. It's not big enough to be a bedspread, but maybe I will buy (yes, I said buy) a bigger one to be the main quilt. Then I could make bed runners to change as often as I'd like. 

Here are some stats: The quilt measured 104 by 111 inches when I made it (10-inch blocks, 2-inch sashes, and borders of 2, 4 and 3 inches). The batting is a fairly light weight polyester and the quilting thread is a hand quilting cotton. The quilt is now roughly 101 by 107 inches. I don't know if that is shrinkage from quilting or washing.

So there you have it. I'm not sure if this quilt is 20 years old or 33, but it's had a good run. Persistence did pay off. And apparently made me a little too attached to the final result. Now it's time to let go.

I'm linking up today with Jenn from A Quarter Inch from the Edge for Throwback Thursday. (Button is on the right).

Now, go work on a UFO, WIP, anything!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lake Michigan

Just a quick post here. We've been busy travelling back and forth to cuddle our new grandson, who, by the way, now has a name. On my blog, he'll be E, but I've been known to share his name on private emails.   

I did get some sewing time in on Sunday. I had some strips of fabric up on the wall for my Lake Michigan quilt, and I decided that rather than lay out the whole quilt before sewing, I'd stitch the water and then lay out the next section from there. It will be much easier to handle if I sew as I go. 

Here's a close-up of a section:

And here's how it looks from far. (Sorry about the blurriness here. I was too far away for my camera setting and the lighting. I'll try to get sharper images when I add more.)

To give you some perspective, the work is approximately 32 inches wide, and the water section is about 6 inches from top to bottom. (I pinned the "wet sand" fabric to the bottom to get an idea of how the bottom edge of the water will look. 

You can see in this post how I pinned fabrics to my design wall when I started. In the end, though, I just cut strips of random widths ranging from about 1 1/2 inches to about 3 inches, and then made random wavy cuts, pressed under a quarter inch, and laid them out. (The technique is Accidental Landscapes by Karen Eckmeier.) I knew I wanted some bright turquoise somewhere because that's one of the striking features of Lake Michigan, but otherwise I just quickly slapped them up and pinned them together before sewing. 

I usually sew the strips to a foundation, but this quilt is larger than usual and I didn't want the layers to be too thick. So I topstitched each strip to the one behind it and then trimmed away the excess fabric. 

It occurred to me while I worked that this is an improv quilt for me. I have a basic plan, but I really don't know exactly how it will look in the end. So in addition to linking up with Freshly PIeced for WIP Wednesday and Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social (if Lorna is doing it this week--remember the Dog Gone Cute link-up is going on), I'm linking up with Ad Hoc Improv Quilters.

Have fun quilting this week, improv or not.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

He's here!

Our new grandson has arrived! He was born yesterday afternoon. He's 20 3/4 inches long, weighs 7 pounds 12 ounces (same as his daddy did) and is cute, cute, cute. What I can't tell you is his name. I wouldn't anyway to protect his privacy, but he doesn't have a name yet. His parents are waiting to get to know him a bit before they pin one on him. We've been spending lots of time holding and admiring him. We are over the moon!

So now I can finally show you what I made for him. Get ready for a long post. I have a pent up need to share after keeping this a secret for so long. (And no, I did not write this all today. I actually pre-planned a post. Hurray for me.)

My inspiration came from Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl. Yup, I shamelessly copied. She made this quilt for a baby awhile back. I was really struck by the crisp color and design. The pattern is Diamonds in the Deep by Kirsty at Bonjour Quilts). There was more inspiration for the back, but I'll get to that in a minute.

I added a block to the width of the baby size to make the quilt square. My fabrics are Kona cottons in Prussian, White, Lagoon and Breakers. The dark blue matches the carpet in Baby's room. At the time I started the quilt I wasn't quite sure what color the room was going to be, but my daughter-in-law thought it would be a bluish green. (She had paint left over from another project.) It turned out that the paint color had a bit more yellow in it, so I included that in the quilt backing. I found a stripe on sale (I'm sorry, I can't remember what it is and can't find any printed selvage. I must have thrown it out--please don't tell any selvage savers. I also did an online image search, but the fabric didn't show up.) I also added in some greens from my stash. 

Speaking of the back, I got all caught up in everyone's Dog Gone Cute Quilt Along mania from Lorna at Sew Fresh QuiltsSince Baby will have a buddy, Samson, I just knew I had to include Samson in the quilt. So he got his own block on the back. 

Did I mention I put a Dog Gone Cute block on the back?

Even closer!!
I used Lorna's pattern, but I wanted it to look a little more like Samson, who has a longish snout. So I did kind of a mash up of several blocks to get the ears and head style I wanted, added a little to the length of the block, and changed the nose just a bit. (His nose wrinkled a bit after washing, but that's okay. He's a crazy dog.) I think it's still unmistakably Lorna's pattern, though. It was so fun to make. There is also a cat, Harvey, in the family, but he doesn't much care for Samson. In fact, he's downright mean to him, so I left him out. (Sorry Harvey. If you make nice, maybe you'll get to be on the next quilt.)

More pictures, because I can't stop sharing:

Wrinkly goodness

As close to a label as I get these days
Here are some other details. The quilt was about 52 by 52 inches before washing and 49 by 49 after washing. The batting is Warm and Natural, which I had on hand. The quilting thread is Superior King Tut in Mint Julep. I bound the quilt in Kona cotton Prussian using this technique. I still prefer hand stitching to the back, but this quilt will get washed a lot, so machine stitching it was. I used the Mint Julep thread to sew it because I thought that fit in well with the quilting in the body. (Never mind that I didn't have any thread to match the dark blue.) I pieced the quilt on my Singer Featherweight and quilted it on my Singer 115 treadle. It's is a little stiffer than I'd like, but I know it will wear well and get softer with use and more washings. 

Whenever I make a quilt, I like to note how things went and what I might do differently in the future. So here are my notes on this quilt:

--I did have a minor crisis while quilting--you can read about it and how I solved my problem here). Here's a close up of the area  (See that narrower stripe to the left of the horizontal stripes?: 

It turned out okay, but I certainly learned to double check my pin basting and to pay attention to what's going on on the back as I go. Also, I might think twice about using a strong stripe in a backing because any distortion really shows. 

--I don't often follow patterns from other quilt makers to make quilts that have blocks in them (I usually draft my own patterns from looking at a picture of a block), so this was an interesting experience for me. The instructions said to make the blocks with a scant quarter inch seam and then trim to the correct size after the blocks were finished. That made me nervous because I wasn't sure if my scant was the same scant the designer had in mind. My first set of blocks were barely the right size, and then I had to trim quite a bit from the remaining blocks. Maybe I overcompensated? If I make this pattern again, I'll probably figure out what the dimensions of each round should be on each block so I have a better idea of how I'm doing as I sew them. (Perfectionist tendency showing, you think?)  

--I need to work a bit on my squaring up when the quilting is done. Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl, put up these tips the day after I squared my quilt, and those will help next time.

--Working with a strong blue and white was a little scary. But I had no trouble with bleeding or crocking when I washed and dried the quilt. This makes me really confident about using Kona colors. 

--Meandering is still my favorite FMQ for getting a quilt quilted quickly! And baby or throw size quilts (or smaller) are definitely a good fit for me. I've been bogged down on working on a large quilt for awhile now. I just don't like spending time isolated at my machine for hours (and days) on end. Either I need to move my treadle (not going to happen) or keep working smaller so I can get a quilt finished with just a few little sessions. 

I haven't had a chance to get a picture of Baby on his quilt yet. (They keep babies really busy in the hospital what with needle pokes, hearing tests and the like.) But soon I'll try to get one that respects his privacy. 

I'm linking up this week with Sew Fresh Quilts (Let's Bee Social), Crazy Mom Quilts (Finish It Up Friday), Confessions of a Fabric Addict (Can I Get a Whoop Whoop), Faith and Fabric Design (TGIFF) and Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing (Free Motion Mavericks). Buttons are on the right. Also, finally putting that Dog Gone Cute button up because I can without anyone wondering why.
Sew Fresh Quilts