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 😀

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

Don’t Try This At Home

Sometimes I feel that there’s an unspoken rule in quilt-blog world against showing our mistakes or talking about patterns or tools that we didn’t like.  In fact, I often write about patterns or books I love, but skip over the others.  Well, here are a couple of things I won’t do again!

First, a pattern that just did not work for me, though you may have better luck.

 

I’ve had this pattern a long time and really like the quilt on the cover.  However, I found it involved matching all those seams.  I first modified the pattern so the strips were of varying widths, eliminating the need for matching.  However, when I started making the last set of triangles, they just didn’t fit!  At that point I made a few more modifications and completed enough blocks for a donation quilt, and DONE!

It’s entirely possible the problem is with me rather than with the pattern.  I still like the look, so I may design my own version later on.  Alternatively, it appears (on Pinterest) that Zen Chic had an almost-identical design called “Fractured”, but I can’t find it on the Zen Chic website now–perhaps it was too identical and they withdrew it?  Don’t know.

Anyway, if I ever make this again I’ll re-design it completely so it works for me.  I do still love the look.

Has anybody made this quilt from either pattern?  How did it go for you?

Second, a pattern that worked out exactly right, possibly because I did it in a class!  It is beautiful, but it is paper piecing (of a different type, but still).  In this case, the pattern is perfect and the instructor was great.  I just did not care for the process so I won’t make the other 11 gems in the series!  If you want to try it, here’s a link to the site for all the gem patterns and classes.

I do like this, but it finished the size of a large block or a wall quilt–what shall I do with it?  All suggestions that don’t involve paper piecing are cheerfully invited!

And what have you messed up lately? 😀

Swirly Leaves: Support Your Local Quilt Shop

My friend Lynn Kline developed this pattern to make fall leaves easy and modern by using scraps, low volume fabrics, and points arranged so they come out well.  I took her class last fall to make the quilt, mostly because my friends were taking the class, too.

Photo courtesy of Lynn Klein

Everyone who came to the class brought scraps to share, so we had a lot of variety.  I’m always amazed at how many people can bring scraps and still not have any two fabrics the same.

My version of Lynn’s quilt

This quilt was fun.  I always have more scraps than yardage, so it was good for my scrap collection.  I enjoyed making leaves of several different sizes rather than just one block repeatedly.  And of course it was fun to do it with friends!

As you can see I didn’t do it exactly by the pattern.  I changed the background.  Lynn used a variety of low volume fabrics but I used a blue that made me think of October sky.  Oh, and I changed the layout.  Whatever!  It’s still Lynn’s pattern 🙂

Lynn’s pattern  includes a handy chart for cutting leaves of various sizes and leaves that make it easier not to cut off your points.

The pattern is available from Lynn’s shop, here.  She and her staff are working to make goods and services available during the quarantine, so you can order and do a drive-by pickup or have things mailed to you.

Here’s a detail showing the swirly quilting by Julia Madison:

Quilt Stats:

Name: Swirly

Pattern: Scrappy Modern Maple Leaves, by Lynn Klein

Finished size (for my variation):  51″ x 62″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

As always, the links in this post are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links.

My Quarantine Quilt: Support Your Local Quilt Shop

It all started when this fabric jumped on me at Studio Stitch.  (I promise I was minding my own business when it jumped on the counter to be cut.)  I love this fabric and my new policy is “Life is short, buy the fabric”.

At the same time, the scrap bin was AGAIN overflowing! I’m suspicious of what goes on in the scrap bin when I’m not looking 😉

I decided to make the scraps into strip blocks for a quilt.

When I finished the quilt, I called Studio Stitch right away and ordered more of the background fabric because it is just perfect.  It has more interest than a solid, but doesn’t fight with the overall design.

I also decided to write up the pattern and give it to Studio Stitch to use as a gift with purchase. They are working to provide things you may need from the shop, and even service for your machine, during the quarantine.  You can email them to order anything either for pickup (they’ll walk it out to your car) or to be mailed.: info@StudioStitchOnline.com.

Here’s a detail of the finished quilt.  I hope it is clear enough to show the nifty leaves Julia Madison quilted into it for me.Quarantine is a great time to get rid of a big pile of scraps!  Contact Studio Stitch if you need fabric or a Tucker Trimmer II, which was useful for this quilt.  And please send me a picture of what you make!

And yes, I’m still making masks, as I’m sure you are, but we need fun and we need to support our favorite shops, too 🙂

Plaidish–Color Gets the Credit, Value Does the Work

I found this quilt on Pinterest and followed the link to the directions because I thought it was such a great example of “color gets the credit, value does the work”.  Also, it used a lot of scraps!  In particular, I had TWO bins full of 5″ charms from a swap group I used to belong to, and I used an entire bin to make this quilt 🙂

You can find the free pattern here: Kitchen Table Quilting

Yes! There were a lot of little intersections to match–good practice!

If you ask Ms. Google or search on Pinterest, you can see many variations made by other quilters.

QUILT DETAILS

Name: Plaidish

Finished size: 63.5” x 63.5”

Designed by Erica at Kitchen Table Quilting

Made by me

Quilted by Julia Madison

Color Gets the Credit, Value Does the Work

I don’t recall where I first heard the statement that titles this post but, when I ask Ms. Google, I find it a common saying on art teaching sites. It is certainly true in quilting.

The class I taught most recently was about learning to use color in quilts. We used Linda Hahn’s pattern Junk to Jems. I gave each student a handout with numerous ways to vary the blocks. Everyone brought scraps and we all worked on different ways to combine them. It was fun and we got some very interesting color combinations.

Here are some of the blocks made in the class:

And here are a couple of variations I made as class samples:

As with all Linda’s patterns, Junk to Jems was clearly written.  I’ll probably use it again because so many variations can be made with this block.

And yes, I am using both cream and white backgrounds in the same quilt 🙂

New Classes

I like to start the year with a scrap quilt, so I’ll be teaching one January 21 at Studio Stitch in Greensboro, NC.  It’s based on this pattern by Linda Hahn, but I have made some significant changes.

On February 29 I’ll be teaching a quilt I call “Easier Than It Looks”.  It’s great for those “just can’t cut” fabrics, whether you can’t cut because the design is large or because you love the fabric so much. 

Not sure yet what I’ll be teaching in March, but I’m thinking about tiny landscape quilts.  Opinions, anyone?

If you live near Greensboro, please join us for one of these classes–we’ll have fun!  And there’ll be chocolate 😉

It Was A Very Good Year

This year’s finishes:

One bed size quilt:

This isn’t as wonky as it looks, thank goodness! It’s just that I had trouble hanging it for the photo because it’s bigger than the design wall!

And a number of other quilts for various family, or for things I was teaching, or just because I wanted to:

A few of this year’s 13 donation quilts:

And finally, some table runners, art quilts, etc:

These projects were started this year but still aren’t finished:

Yes, quitting my day job really improved my productivity 😀

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!