A Puzzling Legacy

My Grandmother’s quilts are among my treasured possessions.  I remember her sitting by the window and piecing them by hand.  I remember the quilt frame hanging from the ceiling in the “front room”.  My sister and I played under it while she quilted.

sunbonnet sue

Sunbonnet Sue quilt by my Grandmother, Mary Lee Ownbey Kimsey

And then there are the unfinished bits and pieces I inherited.  Granny had a series of little strokes and gradually lost the ability to sit still and concentrate on her quilts.  I have some pieced sections that I’ve been carrying around for years. My Mother wasn’t a quilter, so she carried them around for years before leaving them to me. 

They’re old.  And they’re lonely, because somewhere along the way somebody threw out the uncut fabric that must have gone with them.

vintage quilt

Some of the pieces I inherited

What should I do with these?  I’ve come up with a variety of ideas for making them into a finished quilt, but I haven’t quite found one I like.  Because there are several pieced strips that appear to be done for diagonal set, I wonder if she was doing something similar to this:

Another of Granny's quilts

Another of Granny’s quilts

This piece may have been intended as one side of a square set on point?

This piece may have been intended as one side of a square set on point?

And then there’s the question of the seams!  She pieced all this by hand with seams that are barely 1/16″!!!  Will that hold up?  Or should I re-work it all???Granny6

I’ve about decided the solution to the seams is to press as best I can (Granny finger-pressed!) and the back the pieces I have with batiste.  From there I can add strips of muslin, which she always used for “background”, and see what I can come up with.

Any other ideas?  Anybody dealt with a similar situation?  All suggestions welcome!



Michael Miller CHALLENGE

I like a good challenge as much as the next woman. In fact, I’m happiest if I learn something new from each project.  So I was happy to accept the current Michael Miller/Modern Quilt Guild challenge using Michael Miller’s (MM’s) spring pastel solids.

Michael Miller challenge

Michael Miller sent this package of Cotton Couture solids to all contestants.

Like a lot of modern quilters, I don’t use pastels much.  That’s the first reason this was a challenge.  I decided that, since black is a great background color for brights, something dark but not black would be a good background for pastels.  So I ordered cotton couture in indigo, eggplant, grey, and charcoal to give me a choice.  After trying out each one with the fabrics provided by the MM people, I chose charcoal–always a favorite color for me!

The next challenge was trying to find somewhere I could buy additional yardage of these particular fabrics.  Most places that carry Cotton Couture were out of them!  So I decided I needed to design something using just what came in the package, plus my charcoal background 🙂

I designed the quilt with Electric Quilt 7 (EQ7) as usual, so I had an easy way to try out lots of different ideas.

I’m a big fan of star blocks, so I experimented with the 16-patch star often called Ohio Star, and finally settled on this version, in which the block is divided into four quarters that are rotated and combined in various ways.  Here’s the EQ drawing:MM4

And here’s a picture of the almost-finished quilt.  Binding it is an additional challenge, since I don’t want the binding to show but I want the corners to be square (which is difficult if I do a pillowcase binding).  I’m counting this as my November finish 😉

My quilt for the Michael Miller/Modern Quilt Guild challenge

My quilt for the Michael Miller/Modern Quilt Guild challenge

And please check out my Quilt Alliance donation quilt on Ebay.  Here‘s the link.  I’m so happy that it’s doing well!  If you don’t know about the Quilt Alliance, check them out through this link.


Heads up!

The Ebay auction of Quilt Alliance quilts is on! My quilt is included this week. All proceeds benefit the Quilt Alliance, so check it out HERE.  And check back again for the next 2 weeks, as there are 2 more groups of quilts yet to come!

modern art quilt

Whirlwind, my 2014 Quilt Alliance challenge quilt

Holiday Hints–Just a few!

If you’re thinking of gifts for quilters, or for yourself, here are a few hints based on either things I’ve found useful or would like to try. (Please note: these are my personal opinions for which I received no compensation of any kind.)

1. Very large square ruler. A friend recommended this, especially for Large squaresquaring up quilts. It’s great! You can buy it here or here, and you can see a tutorial on how to square up a quilt here.  The big square ruler is a great help.  The largest I’ve found is 20-1/2″ square.

2. Curved ruler. I don’t have one of these yet, but I’m intrigued by Allison’s post showing a ring quilt made using this ruler. Looks like lots more fun than the usual way of making ring quilts! And of course there are many other possibilities for new designs with these curves.

Quick Curves ruler

The Quick Curve ruler is available at Connecting Threads, among other places.

And here’s a picture of Allison’s quilt.

Metro Hoops Quilt

This quilt was made by Allison at Cluck Cluck Sew

The pattern is Metro Hoops, by Sew Kind of Wonderful, the company that also makes the Quick Curve Ruler.  Allison’s review of the quilt pattern and ruler is here.

3. Batting tape. I use this stuff a lot to join scraps of batting. Sometimes I have the piece I need for a quilt, IF ONLY it were a few inches longer. Just use this to add a few inches and you’re good to go. I’ve also joined two fair-sized scraps near the center to make a piece big enough for a quilt. I’ve had absolutely no trouble quilting through this stuff, and it doesn’t feel or look different once the quilt is finished. You can find it here or in many local stores.

4. Finally, no quilt can be made without CHOCOLATE!  So be sure to ask for chocolate for the holidays to keep your quilting efforts fueled 😉

P.S.:  Here are a couple of things I’ve tried that didn’t work for me.  Maybe you’ll have better luck, but I say borrow from somebody else and try before you buy:

This looked like a good idea but it was no better than just holding the rulers together while I cut.

This looked like a good idea but it was no better than just holding the rulers together while I cut.

Kwik Klip

This does help with pin basting, but probably is no better than the spoon I used for years

Out With the Plaid!

Several of the blogs I read have been focused lately on purging unwanted fabrics from the stash.  It sounds like a good idea. Mind you, I still think it’s important to have a good stash. But at this point it should be a little more curated than it is!

fabric stash

Lots of stash–how much fits my current needs?

We’ve all got fabric we don’t want. Maybe it was a gift, maybe we’ve just moved past the aesthetic phase in which we bought it, maybe we ordered online and it wasn’t quite what we expected. Whatever. It’s taking up space and heaping on guilt: maybe we’ll need it some day: waste not, want not and all that 😦

There are several things to do with unwanted fabric, including:

  • Donate the fabric
  • Make donation quilts
  • Cut it up small enough to use for its color only
  • Add some fabrics you like better to make another quilt
  • Make something like wrapped clothesline bowls where the fabric will look different
  • Use it for quilt backs
  • One woman even tore her unwanted fabric into strips and made rag rugs.  Yikes!

So here’s my first de-stash: Fabrics that don’t have a nice “hand”, or feel. Maybe they’re cheaply made, but maybe not. Anyway they don’t feel good so I don’t want to work with them.


My first de-stash pile

And here’s my second de-stash: Plaids. I’ve made multiple plaid quilts and enjoyed them, but enough is enough already!  The plaids will go to my sewing buddies if they want them; otherwise I’ll donate them.


These plaids have to GO!

So now I’ve put the fabric that doesn’t feel good, and some of the plaids, into my “bad fabric” box to use for tearing strips to tie up my tomatoes, cut into “bridges” for continuous piecing, etc

The discard bin

The discard bin

And what about you? Any plans to de-stash? How?

Around the World Blog Hop

I’m happy to be part of the Around the World Blog Hop, a chain-letter type project in which bloggers tag each other to keep it going!  Here are my answers to the four questions:

What am I working on?  My current project is the Michael Miller Challenge for QuiltCon.  It is challenging in several ways that I’ll elaborate on in a future post.  Meanwhile, here’s a picture of the progress so far.

Pieced quilt, Michael Miller Cotton Couture fabrics

Quilt in progress for the Michael Miller Challenge

How does my work differ from others of its genre?  I enjoy making quilts with bold colors (one of the reasons the MM quilt above is a challenge with its pastels).  I value good design over intricate workmanship and believe difficult quilts should be re-designed to make them easier.  I focus first on the visual impact of the overall quilt, then on the details. Which is probably how I have more than once committed to making a quilt before I’ve quite worked out the details on how to do it.

T shirt quilt

This T Shirt quilt for a friend was not really planned ahead

Why do I write/create what I do? I write to make contact with other people and to promote quilting and quilters.  I create for fun and to challenge myself.  My idea of a good project is one in which I learn something new.  Even if it’s a difficult lesson sometimes. The blocks below were made in a class.  I enjoyed the class and learned a lot, but one of the things I learned was that I didn’t want to make any more of them 😉

Yin Yang quilt blocks

Yin-Yang blocks from a class

How does my writing/creating process work?  I read/observe/learn everything I can and then work on a problem off-and-on until a solution comes to me.  Then I make the quilt.  I’m sorry to say I can’t really verbalize it any better than that.

Around the World:  I was tagged by my friend Melanie.  Check out this post about the worst quilt book she owns!.  And I’m tagging Ann at Sew Messy, who is a pattern designer; Ann doesn’t yet sell her patterns on her site, but she has some fun pictures, so stay tuned.  I’m also tagging Lyric at LyricKinard.com, who is an art quilter and teacher. Check our Lyric’s website and classes for LOTS of new ideas!

Please tune in tomorrow…

I’m participating in the Around the World Blog Hop, and my post is supposed to launch tomorrow, so please check back!

Meanwhile, here are some blogs I enjoy, if you’d like to check them out:

SewMessy.wordpress.com  Isn’t that a great title?

catbirdquilts.wordpress.com  You may recall that I linked to Melanie’s articles on color last week.

quiltineering.com  Rachel is about to move to Japan, so look for interesting blogs coming up.

redpepperquilts.com  Rita has lots of beautiful pictures of her quilts.

lyrickinard.com/blog  Lyric is primarily an art quilter, so she has lots of ideas you won’t find in the usual quilt blogs.  A lot of her techniques could be used to zip up traditional quilts.