About zippyquilts

I quilt for pleasure but I also teach and write about quilting.

Candy Cubes

Remember this? I started on the quilt on page 34 soon after I got the book

I didn’t like the first background fabric I chose:

So I took the quilt all apart and put it together again, this time with the background fabric matching the centers so that the blocks look like square lifesavers.  I’m calling it “Candy Cubes”.

To be honest, I’m not sure I like the new background fabric any better–the value is too close to the value of the cubes, even though the color is different. But a done quilt is a good quilt, so I’m on to the next project. 

I still like the pattern and enjoyed making the quilt.  And I still think it would be a great “make your second quilt” class.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Candy Cubes

Pattern SourceNew Patchwork & Quilting Basics by Jo Avery

Finished size: 53″ x 77″

Fabric:  Cubes are Moda Grunge.  I don’t know what the background fabric is.

Quilted by: Julia Madison

What I might do different next time: Change the cube fabric rather than the background fabric.

I love the fabric on the quilt back, too!

Those Pesky Orphan Blocks

What do you do with orphan blocks (individual or just a few blocks left over once a quilt is finished)?

Here is a recent view of my stash of orphan blocks:

Yes, that bin is full of smaller orphan blocks, with the big orphans stacked on top!

Obviously something needs to be done!

I got the orphan blocks out recently and selected all those that finished 12″ square.  I combined them into two donation quilts, which finished 42″ square.

You may (or may NOT) notice that there are both white and cream backgrounds in the quilt.  I say, “so what?”  It would be even less noticeable if there were more of each.  Even with just a few blocks it looks OK to me.  Sure, if I were planning from scratch I might make the backgrounds all the same.  But for a scrap quilt I think the white-vs-cream distinction is much ado about nothing. (Are you with me, Laura?)

Let me know what you think.  Does it look “off” to you?  Or do you not even notice?  Would you do this on purpose, perhaps using white and cream randomly in different blocks?

More posts on orphan blocks to come, for obvious reasons 😀

A 60 Year UFO!

My granny made quilts entirely by hand.  I watched her piecing, sitting by the window where the light was best.  I played under the quilt frame in the “front room” when a top was finished.  I never knew her to have friends over to help with the quilting; she did it all herself.  She tried to teach me to piece; the main thing I recall is the idea of loading multiple tiny stitches on the needle before drawing the thread through.  I remember a lot of her fabrics and was surprised to find these identical-appearing reproduction fabrics some years ago:

The darkest blue is an Aunt Grace print; I don’t know about the others

Based on the way her life went, I suspect Granny started quilting in the 1930s.  She would have stopped around 1960.  When Mother closed her house in the 1990s, I inherited Granny’s unfinished final quilt, which would mean Mother had it in storage for about 30 years, and I’ve had it about 30 years now.  In a closet.  In 5 different houses in which we’ve lived during that time.  Yikes.

vintage quilt

Some of the pieces I inherited

I’ve caught up with a LOT of UFOs during quarantine, and decided it was finally time to do something with Granny’s project. By my calculation this is about a 60 year UFO.

My guess from the sections already assembled is that Granny was working on Boston Commons.  I have a Boston Commons quilt she made, and didn’t want to mix reproduction fabrics with her fabrics to complete this one.  Therefore, I checked the size of her pieces and started picking them apart.  Then came the fun.

Granny used a seam allowance of LESS THAN a quarter inch, and finger pressed her seams open

Her stitches were so tiny that they are quite difficult to see and pick out, AND she backstitched at the beginning and end of each seam!  I pressed one seam closed, and when I blew the picture up to show the stitches I discovered holes from a different needle in the yellow fabric–the fabric was from a feed sack!  (Grandpa was a farmer.)

Her stitches were so tiny that they are very difficult to pick out! And she backstitched at the beginning and end of each seam!!!

Granny’s squares measure about 2-3/4 inches unfinished, and, as you may be able to see below, she trimmed off a little corner from each piece after she stitched the seam.  I guess she was determined to decrease bulk when she quilted it by hand!

Once I got a few pieces taken apart, I treated them with Terial Magic in the hope of avoiding further fraying.  I cut the squares down to 2-1/2″ to square them up and get rid of ragged edges, and I’m ready to put some of them together.  The plan is to make them into Arkansas Crossroads:

I tried out two yellows for background and decided on the lighter one, which is on order.

The first block of my Arkansas Crossroads

This may take a while to complete, but that will give me time to look for a “longest UFO” contest in which to enter it 😀

Barn Quilt to Wall Quilt to Lap Quilt

We live in a rural area and one of the barns I pass on the way to town has a quilt block on the end, where it is easily visible as you come around a big curve.I enjoy seeing the “quilt trail” quilts wherever I encounter them, though sometimes they look like something nobody in her right mind would make out of cloth.
This one is different. Its relatively simple design has a striking visual impact and it is something a person COULD make from cloth!.I thought it would make a good wall hanging or an unusual center for a medallion-style quilt.  Because of that, I drew it out in Electric Quilt. (I’ve been an EQ user since EQ5, and am now on EQ8!)

I submitted the design to a publishing group for a magazine, where it was accepted.  Then there were changes in publishing world and nothing happened for several months.  Eventually Eileen Fowler at McCall’s Quilting made a design of her own, giving me credit for inspiration.  It’s in the July/August 2020 issue of McCall’s Quilting, page 35.  Her quilt is lovely and easy!  Check it out!

And Melanie, please note that McCall’s Quilting was very ethical.  I probably wouldn’t have recognized Eileen’s quilt as based on mine, but they asked permission and gave credit.  It’s always nice when that happens.

Fiddlesticks!

I finished this quilt last month, but I’ve been doing a lot of quilting due to quarantine, so I’m behind on showing my work.  This is a scrap quilt, of course.  I’ve been seeing lots of quilts with little strips inserted on Pinterest, and finally got around to developing my own.

First, I got out all my solids, including the Grunge, and cut a 12″ square from each for background.  I planned to trim the blocks to 10.5″ after I finished inserting strips, since I have a 10.5″ square ruler 😀  No point making things difficult; let’s plan for easy!

Then I got out all my scraps and cut them into strips ranging from about 1″ to 2.5″ in width.  I made strip sets and cut them crosswise into strips for the quilt.   The inserted strips were cut in widths varying from 1″ to 2″, which of course means they finished 0.5″ to 1.5″ wide in the blocks.  I made more skinny ones than wide ones.

I just slashed the blocks at random angles.  I did slash and insert only one strip at a time. 

After I’d inserted enough strips to suit me, I trimmed each block to 10.5″ square.

Just look at the fun flower design my quilter used!

And yes, I left 3 blocks unpieced to add interest.

Quilt stats:  Fiddlesticks

Finished size: 49″ x 69″

Designed by me, based on multiple inspirations from Pinterest

Technique: Improvisation

Quilted by Julia Madison

An Easy Donation Project

Pineapple Fabrics recently sent an email requesting blocks to be made into quilts for Brenner Children’s Hospital.  Some days I feel completely overwhelmed with making donation quilts, but this looked easy and fun.  They asked for applique pineapple blocks, using a template they provided.

Here are mine:

A couple of my quilting buddies made even more, and Chela even used Dr. Seuss fabric for hers!

Here is the link to the Pineapple Pieces Project if you are interested.  Full disclosure: these blocks were as fun and easy as they looked, I also appreciated not having to make a whole top and quilt it!

And I have donated this little art quilt of to the Studio Art Quilt Association’s annual auction.

Quarantine has provided a lot of good quilting time, though I miss getting together with my quilting buddies!  I hope you are finding benefits to enforced time at home, too.

 

7 Years and Counting!

As of this month, I’ve been blogging here every Sunday for 7 years!  I’ve debated what to do for my blogiversary, having largely skipped it last year.  My decision is to show my favorite quilt from each year I’ve blogged.  So here we go…

First year blogging:

scrap quilt

My entry for the Quilt Alliance Challenge 2014; I think it won a judge’s choice award

Second year:

I designed this quilt for Modern Quilts Unlimited

Third year:

Improv Table Runner for Modern Quilts Unlimited

Fourth year:

Quilt I designed from a QR code used by Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Northwest, shown here with their staff

Fifth year:

My donation to the Quilt Alliance auction was used in their publicity

Sixth year:

My “Little Green Man” quilt included Kraft-Tex applique

Seventh year:

I’ll have more to say about “Fiddlesticks” next week

Thanks for reading, and please stay tuned for Year 8 🙂

More Fun Books for Learning

C&T recently sent me two books I especially like, so here’s a little overview of each of them.

Photo courtesy of C&T

First, Sew Very Easy Quilt Favorites has a number of unique but easy quilts that could be made by a confident beginner.  Or by the likes of me because sometimes I just want a quick quilt that looks harder than it is 😉  For example:

Photo courtesy of C&T

As with other C&T books I’ve read, Sew Very Easy has clear instructions and illustrations.  I’m thinking C&T must have some good editors, because I see that their books are consistently easy to use.

In this book, I especially like the clear illustrations showing how to join strips end-to-end with a diagonal seam. Does anybody else remember how hard that was to figure out initially?  Similarly, there are clear illustrations wherever seam intersections might “look funny” to a less-experienced quilter.  I’m impressed that someone who obviously has a lot of quilting experience is still aware of how confusing some of these things can be for others.  For example, there’s an excellent explanation of how to do partial seams on this otherwise-simple quilt:

Photo courtesy of C&T

Also, the book has both modern and traditional quilts, which broadens its appeal.  Here’s my favorite traditional-appearing quilt from the book:

Photo courtesy of C&T

I’ll be making some of the quilts from this book, and I expect I’ll learn a thing or several–that always enhances the fun!

The other book that I love is called Paper Piecing. It’s the cutest little book and, despite its size, has complete instructions for paper piecing, including more than one method!  That said, this is not really a “beginner” book, because the blocks are relatively complex.

Photo courtesy of C&T

This book would make a great little gift for a friend, or for one of those “infamous” Dirty Santa swaps at a guild Christmas party 😀

Please note: C&T provides books to me without charge, but I choose to review only those that I really like.  All links are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links that provide income to me.

Some Quarantine Fun

I’m happy to report that at least one person used the pattern I designed for Studio Stitch and then sent me a picture of her quilt! Thanks, Judi! And here it is:

Photo courtesy of Judi Bastion

I’m always happy when readers send me pictures of what they’ve made from my patterns or classes, and Judi even found a typo for me as an extra help!  Thanks again!

Meanwhile, one of my nieces sent me a picture of a “quarantine quilt” made from this pattern:

Photo courtesy of Java House Quilts

Photo courtesy of Java House Quilts

Now seriously, people, this is the quilt to make in memory of 2020!  The pattern is available here, and they are donating part of the proceeds. 

If you don’t want to make an entire quilt, this Japanese lady has a free paper-pieced pattern for a single block:

Photo courtesy of MisoQuilty.com

Of course COVID is a serious situation, but a little laughter helps offset all the worries! 

And by the way, I’m out of elastic for masks.

Thanks for reading, and I’d love to see what you make!

2020–Yikes!

My blogging friend Velda at Freckled Fox Quiltery  posted a while back that she is making a temperature quilt for 2020 because–what a year!  I liked that idea. I certainly feel that this year deserves to be memorialized in a quilt, but I do not want to paper piece a picture of the COVID virus, or make the quilt I designed to represent the ICU, or quilt anything else directly COVID related.  Making and wearing masks is a sufficient reminder, thanks!

In addition, Velda linked to a free pattern that I liked the looks of.

Here’s a link to the free pattern.

Any temperature quilt will require a lot of research (high and low temps for every day of the year for your location) and organization.  Here are a couple of things I learned along the way.  This pattern is clearly written and she has some good suggestions regarding fabric choice.

First, of course, I pulled fabric from my stash.  I was happy to see that I had everything I needed, since quilt shops were closed for browsing and I thought it might be difficult to order by phone. 

The colored blocks in the pattern are cut 2″ square (yikes!) so I decided to try something new to cut down on fraying.  I recently purchased a product called “Terial Magic” at A Stitch in Time.  It is a “fabric stabilizer” and has several uses.  It kind of glues the fibers in the fabric together to decrease fraying and also makes the fabric stiff.

After talking with the lady at the shop, I mixed the Terial Magic 1:3 with water and put it in a spray bottle. I will say that I was happy to have to prepare only fat quarters of the fabric, as the process was kind of time intensive.  However, the fabric came out very crisp and wrinkle free and did not fray at all when I cut it.  Actually it was easier to cut than usual.  The stuff is supposed to wash right out once the quilt is finished, and I’m trusting that it will 🙂

When I got the squares all cut and started sewing, I discovered that I had somehow tricked myself into believing there was enough contrast between these two shades of green!

Luckily there was an adequate substitute in the stash!  Here are the strips for the first quarter.  Each strip is sewn together, but I have not joined them yet.

One final hint: I cut up the January calendar page and pinned the numbers on the blocks to keep them in order until they were sewn together. 🙂

Are you making a temperature quilt?  Another quilt to commemorate 2020?