A Swap Block for Donation Quilts

One of my quilt groups makes donation quilts about 40″ square for various organizations. The size is easy to construct and quilt at home, and is appropriate for the children who receive the quilts.  Here are the recent group donations:

We often use swap blocks for our quilts and recently decided on a new swap and I want to tell you about it. One of your quilt groups may enjoy it, too!  Here’s how:

First make a big wonky log cabin block. Our blocks started with a 5″ square, which was modified to make a wonky center.  It was then surrounded by strips from my scrap bins, and occasional strips were trimmed so they were wonky, too.

These big blocks are 21″ square (unfinished).

We cut each block in quarters, so each quarter is 10.5″ unfinished, and started arranging them to make a quilt top that would finish at 40″ square.

This was how we eventually decided to arrange them in the finished top:

And then, of course, we made 4 more:

If you decide to do this, there are only 2 things to watch out for:

  1. As you add strips, keep measuring to be sure the center block remains centered enough so that there will be a piece of it in each quarter when you cut the block up.
  2. It’s easiest if the final round of strips is considerably wider than needed so the block can be trimmed to (unfinished) size easily without running into seams.

This is a really fun way to use scraps!  If you make one, or use this for a group swap, send me a picture!

Scraps Happen, Part III

There is no shortage of patterns for scrap quilts, and often I start with a pattern I’ve found somewhere and modify it to suit me.  I have notebooks full of pictures from magazines and photos I’ve taken of vintage or show quilts, so I use those for inspiration.  Here is a quilt I made by modifying a pattern from a magazine I’d been saving for a long time:

You can find the original pattern for this quilt by going to AllPeopleQuilt.com and searching for the “trail mix” pattern

The above quilt was made from my husband’s old shirts–whether that counts as scraps or yardage is a matter of opinion 🙂

I have some favorite scrap patterns I’ve used repeatedly over the years.  This one, which I learned from Barbara Lenox many years ago, is intended to be made at the end of the year using scraps from all the projects you made that year.  I love that idea and have made several of these.  You can see my post explaining the basic block here.

Another favorite quilt pattern is Junk to Jems, by Linda J. Hahn.  Here is my version which has been modified a fair amount from the pattern.

One thing I love about this pattern is that it is possible to make the elements of each block then re-arrange them so that there are several different variations on the same block.  So yes, my version is not quite like hers.

Augusta Cole is another teacher whose scrap quilts I admire, and I have made several from her Snappy Scrappy Stars pattern.  This makes a great leaders-and-enders project for me and I often use the blocks in donation quilts.

This is a leaders-and-enders project from Augusta Cole’s Scrappy Snappy Stars pattern

Of course, often a quilt starts as a pattern and then veers off course (surprise!).  The quilt below started as a way to use both a linen background and a group of fabrics I had in small amounts.  The original pattern is one of Karla Alexander’s stack and shuffle designs, and you probably can see that if you know the pattern.  This is my variation.Alison Glass fabrics quilt

And finally, even when I buy fabric for a quilt, I often buy fat quarters, which pretty much guarantees a scrappy look.  And I don’t really like making the same block twice, so often I make a variety of blocks for a single quilt.  Here is one last example of a quilt made from a fat quarter bundle, though it appears scrappy.

The pattern is Bermuda Sunset, another one by Linda Hahn.

A friend who is a writer mentioned the other day that her stories sometimes take on a life of their own and lead where she didn’t expect to go.  She asked if my quilts do that, too.  Absolutely!  Start out headed for A, end up at Q!

It’s all good. 🙂

Scraps Happen, Part II

Many of my scrap quilts are inspired by other quilters.  I still find it useful to start with a collection of fabrics I think “go together”.  In that regard, I do NOT worry about color per se, though I recognize that color is a big “bugaboo” for many quilters.  I do find it useful to decide at the outset whether the quilt is to be bright or muted colors, but beyond that I don’t worry much.  And of course I break that rule sometimes, too.

One of my first inspired-by-others adventures was a series of quilts I made after reading Gwen Marston’s books.  I just love her aesthetic, and wish I had been able to take a class with her while she was alive.  Here is a quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance annual contest a few years ago, based on Gwen’s published quilts:

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm” is a quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance contest; the black fabric has words representing animal sounds such as “quack”

I also used a collection of Cherrywood scraps to make this quilt based on Gwen’s “liberated log cabin” idea:

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss, 59″ x 61″, 2016.  My favorite part of this was making the background out of a mixture of dark colors.

Also, taking a cue from my friend who makes a small art quilt each week, I made these 3 quilts based on lessons in one of Gwen’s books:

I continue to learn from the quilters I consider “the best” by making quilts inspired by their ideas.  A recent one was inspired by Maria Shell’s tutorial on improvised flying geese:

The colors of the quilt blended with the colors of my chimney, where I stuck it up to be photographed

Of course, not all such experiments are particularly successful.  I love Freddy Moran’s aesthetic, but this table runner based on her ideas didn’t turn out very well, in my opinion.  I expect to make more things using her ideas, and they’ll improve 🙂

I designed and made this runner for a guild challenge

Since, at this point in my quilting career, most of my fabric collection is scraps, there will be many more scrap quilts to come!  Next week I’ll discuss how I use scraps in quilts made from patterns.

 

 

Another UFO Bights the Dust!

I’m making a concerted effort to get rid of more UFOs (UnFinished Objects) this year. Of course, the real challenge is to avoid creating new ones!

This is the third time I’ve made the Lombard Street pattern by Sassafras Lane Designs.  This shows how much I love the design–usually I make any pattern only once.  Here are the previous quilts:

And here is the completed UFO, ready to be donated at the next retreat with my donation quilt group:

Quilt Stats

Pattern: Lombard Street by Sassafras Lane.  This is the smallest of 3 sizes.

Finished size:  39.5″ x 43.5″

Fabric is scraps for the triangles and solid from stash for the background and binding.

Pieced by me, though it took over a year.

Quilted by me.

If you want to make one, you can get your own copy of the Lombard Street pattern here.

One Mistake Makes Two Quilts!

A while ago one of my blogging friends posted a picture of her “red rails” quilt.  She makes these quilts to use up 1.5″ x 3.5″ scraps, so it seemed perfect for me.  I cut my scraps into strips varying from 1.5″ to 4.5″ in width and store them in drawers, sorted by size in 0.5″ increments.  Here are some of those (stuffed) drawers:

Since I had a lot of 1.5″ strips and wanted to make another donation quilt, I got started.  Her quilt is “red rails” because the center strip of every block is red.  I have a lot of blues, so mine became “blue rails”.  I drew it with EQ8 to start with, to be sure I knew what I was doing:

Blue Rails, drawn in EQ8 based on a quilt by Nann at withstringsattached.blogspot.com

I got busy sewing 1.5″ strips together in sets of 3 and cutting the sets into 3.5″ squares.  Then I started making the blocks.  Before I knew it, the 1.5″ bin was almost empty and I had a lot of little 3.5″ blocks.

I joined them in groups of 4, and that’s where I went wrong.  It turns out there is a right way and a left way for the blocks to twirl in sets of 4, but I didn’t realize that at first!

Trust me, no matter how you rotate these two blocks (drawn with EQ8), they do not match up!

So, I will have TWO blue rails quilts, one rotating in each direction.  Here’s the first one, which I am donating this month.  Another doggone learning experience 😀

Blue Rails donation quilt, about 40″ square

What have you learned lately?

 

Donation Quilt Catch-Up

I now belong to THREE groups that make donation quilts, and it may be a bit much.  I’ve decided to focus on the group I’ve been working with the longest, both because it was the original and because we donate the quilts locally.  (I fear there’s some truth to Garrison Keillor’s quip that most donation quilts sent to other countries go to hot climates where their best use is as compost.)

I see from my notes that I fell behind on donation quilts over a year ago due to being over-committed.  Duh.  Anyway, here are my recent attempts to catch up.

I found this panel in the SCRAP BIN at a shop where I teach, so I got it for $1 an ounce! The finished quilt is 34″ x 44″.

This top was started over a year ago when I wanted to experiment with half-rectangle triangles. The finished quilt is 40″ x 48″

This was made from slabs swapped in one of my groups. I spy some orphan blocks incorporated into slabs!

This one was done for leaders and enders, and is going to have to be entitled “Nobody’s Perfect”! Finished size is 34″ x 39″

I made this after starting the blocks as a class demonstration last time I taught “Twinkle”. Finished size is 40″ x 40″

I can just hear somebody saying, “Well!  That certainly is a variety!”  It would be more efficient to make the same pattern multiple times, but I just can’t do it.

What are your favorite donation quilt patterns?

 

A Little Landscape Quilt

My friend Melanie mentioned recently how much inspiration comes from travel, and I agree.  While travelling in New England last summer, I came across this book in a quilt shop.

I enjoy making landscape quilts and made quite a few at one time, but donated them almost all of them to the free clinic where I worked for a while.  It’s time now to make some more!  I have been saving this project as a reward for getting some other things done!

My First Tiny Landscape

Karen gives very, very detailed step-by-step instructions and I must say that’s a good thing!  The book is well illustrated and I had no trouble making this little village on my first attempt.  Because I already had the materials, it is postcard size (4″ x 6″)!  As you can see in the picture, her directions involve finishing the piece with tulle over everything to be sure none of the tiny pieces comes loose.

I enjoyed this project and like the way it came out.  I must note, however, that it took all day to make one postcard 😀

Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer” and A Busy Week

I have a number of pieces of antique furniture, as much out of obligation as desire. These belonged to my grandparents, great-grandparents, and in one case to my great-great-grandmother. One of them contains Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer”.

Granny once commented on it, saying that whenever her sister, Bess, had a sewing project that “fizzled”, the project went into that drawer. I’m not sure what happened after that. This would have been in the early part of the 20th Century, but I don’t even know whether the “fizzle” items were clothing or something else.  By the time I inherited the furniture they were long gone!

I think some of my UFOs probably should go in the “fizzle drawer”, but I don’t know when to quit, so I keep working on them.  This next one was a class I did not especially enjoy, but I’ve converted it to 4 large blocks to be combined into a donation quilt.

This next one is not a fizzle, it’s a set of place mats I made for a quick holiday class to teach this fall.  I developed this pattern YEARS ago for McCall’s Quick Quilts and have made many versions of it since.  Place mats are a nice hostess gift to have on hand.

We went to the “apple barn” this weekend and got some apples–must be fall!  Here is the view from the apple barn, looking across some trees heavy with red apples to the mountains beyond.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

How was your week?

Some Tiny Blocks

My modern guild is making a charity quilt for QuiltCon 2019, and the requirements include a predetermined palate and blocks with pieces no larger than 1″ in at least one dimension.  The theme is “small piecing”.  Here is the palate:

At the last meeting, our guild had chunks of fabric about 8″ x 10″ cut for us to take home and make little blocks.  The blocks are going to be used to construct something else, so the only requirement is that they finish either 2″ or 3″ square.  I took these 3 colors:

And here are some little blocks I made.

The quilt has to be twin size, so it’s going to take a LOT of these babies!  It will be fun to see what other guilds do when QuiltCon comes around in February.

Thanks to everyone who offered an opinion about my choice of accent color for the shirting quilt.  There are two different blocks in the quilt that use the tiny accent squares, and I’ve decided to use orange for this one and rust for the other.  Here are a couple of the blocks with orange.  Those tiny orange squares finish 3/4″.  Eek!

I’ll keep you posted.

 

Quilts and Social Action: Another Opportunity

Have you heard of the San Jose (California) Museum of Quilts and Textiles? No? Well here you go:

Image courtesy of wikimedia commons. Here’s the attribution: By Daderot – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18332195

The museum is currently hosting a Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) exhibit entitled Guns: Loaded Conversations.  The exhibit is intended to spark thoughtful conversation about the history and culture of guns in our society.  I would hope the conversation could calm some of the hysteria on both sides of this difficult issue.

An Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

The pictures featured here are not of the current exhibition.  The museum did not respond to my request for photos that could be shared here, so these are from Wikimedia Commons.

The exhibit is to be followed by museum participation in a gun buy-back program sponsored by the museum and the San Jose police department.  For this unique buy-back, persons surrendering guns will receive not only money, but a quilt!

The museum needs donations of both quilts and money for this project.  The quilts can be any design or color, but should be lap size or larger.  They do not need to be either for or against gun control, just a regular quilt.  If you are interested in donating a quilt,  contact the museum.  I’m not sure about donating a quilt, but the museum looks worth a visit if I’m ever in California!