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!

A Tale of Many Dots

A couple of years ago I bought this fabric because I really liked it:

Since it was pre-printed fat quarters (FQs), I planned to use it in a pattern designed for FQs.  I added a couple of fabrics that I thought went well with it.  Until I saw it sewn together:

I didn’t like the quilt top once I got it made, so I took out every single seam and set the pieces aside to think about.

I took out the fabrics I had added, thinking perhaps they were the problem.  That helped a little.  However, I decided the dots needed some solid mixed with them.  I took them on a shopping trip with friends and we selected a nice red-orange to mix with them.  Then I re-made the quilt including some of the red-orange.

I still didn’t like it.  And call me lazy if you like, but I was not going to take those pieces apart again!  So, with a what-the-heck attitude, I cut the new top up into circles (big dots!) using my dinner and salad plates as templates.

I pinned various potential backgrounds on the design wall and tried them out.

I think some variation of this is going to be the final design.  Maybe not the greatest ever, but nobody died, so I’m moving on!

Scraps Happen, Part I

When I mentioned recently that I was making a basket to hold scraps as I work on a project, my blogging friend Elizabeth asked how I decide what to do with the scraps.  This first post will be about how I design scrap quilts; the second in the series will be about how I use inspiration from other quilters; the third will be about how I modify published patterns for scrap quilts.

My first improvised scrap quilt was made close to 20 years ago.  I absolutely just starting sewing scraps together and kept it up until I had a collection of blocks.  The scraps were all from an Amish-style quilt I had made, which kept the blocks cohesive.

improvisational blocks

I then added 2 shades of yellow for sashing.

improvisational quilt

Nothing Is Wasted, my first improvisational quilt, 2001-2002

Using scraps from a single project is one way to be sure the scraps all play well together, assuming the fabrics were well coordinated in the original project.  After making the quilt below for Modern Quilts Unlimited with some yummy Cotton Couture fabrics provided by Michael Miller…

quilt photo

My Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

I started sewing all my tiny scraps together and added a tiny paper-pieced star to make a donation quilt for the Quilt Alliance annual contest:

scrap quilt

Confetti Star, 20″ x 20″, 2014.  Some of these pieces finish less than 1/4″ square

I then started combining scraps of a single color to make blocks.  I called them “slabs”, since the idea of making single-color scrap blocks came from Cheryl Arkison (though hers are much more orderly than mine).  Here is one example of a quilt made from these single-color blocks:

On at least one occasion I decided a collection of yellow and orange scrap blocks were booooring, so I cut them up and inserted some bright blue before combining them in a quilt:Improvisational quilt, orange and blue quilt

Sometimes I am “forced” to design a new quilt because the scrap bins are overflowing.  When the strip bins got out of hand last spring, I designed this quilt.  The idea of putting a circle in the alternate blocks came from my friend Jerri.  The triangle blocks were because I have a 60 degree triangle ruler 🙂

Machine applique of these circles was done after the quilting, so there was no need for further stabilizer

On another occasion, some friends and I had way too many 2.5″ blocks, so we developed these blocks and set them on point.  That quilt hung around for a long time “needing something”.  Eventually I added a central motif, and here it is:

The petals were fused on with Heat’n’Bond, and then I buttonhole stitched around them

Another design process I like to use is to simply fill a piece of batting with scraps.  For the table runners shown below, I selected a group of fabrics for the top and a piece of backing fabric about 6″ longer and wider than the finished runner.  I spray basted the batting to the backing, then started filling the space on the batting with pieces of fabric from my collection. I didn’t sew them down until I had a whole section done, since this type of designing involves cutting off bits here and there to keep edges even.

modern table runner

Here is one of the samples for my improvised table runner class

improvisational quilt

I have taught this method as a class, but it proved to be too unstructured for some people, who really just wanted to make my runner.  I continue to use the method for myself but have not attempted to teach it to others again!

So, in response to the question of my process for designing scrap quilts, it’s really just “by the seat of my pants”.  I do start with a collection of fabrics I like together, but otherwise it’s sew first, plan later.  What I’m not showing, of course, is all the “fizzles” that got thrown out along the way!

Please stay tuned for Part II, scrap quilts inspired by other quilters.  And go visit Elizabeth, who inspired this post!

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.

 

What to do? Please help!

Remember this fabric I was thrilled by?

I thought about how to use it for several weeks and finally decided on Turning Twenty Again. It’s an old pattern, but I’ve seen it made up in many different fabrics and it’s almost always spectacular and modern-looking.  The fabric I bought was 8 fat quarters, and Turning Twenty Again is a pattern developed for efficient use of fat quarters, so it seemed a good match.

I needed a little more fabric and found this dot in my stash–it had the same appearance of linen texture as the original fabric and I thought it went perfectly with the others.
The next question was what else to add. After auditioning several options, I decided on this cat fabric. The eyes are sort of of dots, too, and the color coordinated well. I made the blocks and put them on the design wall, and…Eek!  Is it too busy?  And when I see it overall, I do not like the tan fabric I added, even though it is similar to the beige-green that came with the fat quarter set!

I’ve had it on the design wall for a week trying to decide what to do. One option is to put the squares together with sashing and a border to kind of calm things down.  I auditioned a dark blue fabric and a turquoise fabric for that–both are Moda grunge, so they have the same linen-look texture.

Another option is to take the blocks apart in order to add these birds from the same collection, giving a greater variety of prints.  I think if I take it apart, I will remove the tan fabric I don’t like, so the birds could add variety AND get rid of the tan!
From there we go into the wild options. They are legion, and include the possibility of cutting the blocks randomly and inserting solid strips. Or I could replace some pieces with the birds and some with the turquoise grunge.

And of course there is the perennial option of putting it away for a month and then looking at it again to see what comes to mind.

Suggestions, anyone?

Finished! In 2016

First, the Christmas tree picture with fireplace was at the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, N.C. That fireplace is big enough for a man to stand up in. Hopefully when there’s no fire.

And now, the 2016 finishes.

Asheville Quilt Show

Scan Me, a quilt made to promote safer sex.

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss won a blue ribbon.

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

modern sampler

My Modern Sampler Quilt

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm” is the quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance contest this year

Quilted Adventure

Roxie bag made as part of Quilted Adventure online retreat

Loes Hinse blouse

Blouse from a Loes Hinse pattern, in Cherrywood fabrics

Tumbling Blocks

Tumbling Blocks placemats, made in class with Karen Combs

Sweetpea Pod pattern review

These Sweetpea Pod bags were so fun that I made a LOT of them!

And, of course, the quilts for Ronald McDonald House:

Happy new year, and may you have a great year of quilts in 2017!

Slabs, Round 2

Cheryl Arkison is one of several people to suggest putting together scraps of the same color to make a quilt block (or fabric from which to cut quilt pieces).  Cheryl calls hers “slabs” and makes them big–15 inches square finished.Mary J Puckett quilt

Above is the quilt I made from a slab swap with one of my quilt groups a couple of years ago.  I had asked for slabs made from the yellow/orange family, and I loved what I got.  But I’m not one to leave well enough alone, so I cut them up and made the quilt shown above.

A relative-who-will-remain-nameless looked through my quilts online and asked for something similar, but in a larger size.

I’ve had fun collecting orange and yellow fabrics.  My friend Linda donated a large bag of orange “scraps”; I felt free to ask her since she claims to hate orange 😀  Then she brought me a big cut of solid orange to go with the scraps!

slab quilt

Linda even found an orange patterned bag to put her scraps in!

The rest came from my stash and from a few things I bought while travelling.  I improvised the squares, featuring a few funky fabrics in each one from the fabrics I bought especially for this quilt.

Then I used Moda Bella Amelia Blue to sash each square and cut the sashing so they are all wonky.  Each will finish 18″ square with sashing.orange4

This one will be big enough that it will need to go to the long-arm quilter.  I’ll have more pictures when it’s finished.

Meanwhile, how are those holiday projects coming along?

 

One UFO Makes 3 Quilts!

I made these “prepared fabric” squares some months ago with John Cage’s “prepared piano” in mind.  Then they sat in a box while I wondered what to do with them.

At a quilt retreat, I got some of them out and put them together into a 40″ x 44″ quilt top for Ronald McDonald House.nov-ufo

So the November UFO (UnFinished Object) project was to do something with the rest of those squares.  I modified them further and made 2 more Ronald McDonald quilt tops, each 40 inches square.

That UFO box is empty!  There were a few scraps for the scrap bin, and 3 blocks for the orphan block bin, but that project is DONE!

Sort of like that turkey…how was your Thanksgiving?

Quilting Thanksgiving

Gratitude is always a good practice, so it’s especially nice to have a holiday specifically dedicated to thanksgiving.  Here are 10 reasons I’m thankful for quilting:

  1. Every project is a new learning experience.  Even if it is, sometimes, “another *%@!! learning experience” 🙂

    rotary cutter accident

    A learning experience!

  2. There is no failure. Projects that don’t turn out as planned can be recycled into something.  (It may take a while to figure out what.)

    This one had to be cut up and made into placemats!

    This one had to be cut up and made into placemats!

  3. Friends.  Quilting is a great way to meet interesting people and make new friends.  I love making friends online, too, even though I may never meet them in person.  It’s such fun that people from 3000 miles away follow my blog and I follow theirs.

    A new friend holding up one of my quilts at a recent guild talk

    A new friend holding up one of my quilts at a recent guild talk

  4. Quilting is a great creative outlet, whether or not I choose to be an “artist”.

    Gwen Marston iQuilt class

    Quilt made for a class with Gwen Marston

  5. Gifts.  I’ve made quilts, placemats, table runners, potholders, and bags to give to friends.

    Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

    Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

  6. Opportunity to give to the community.  I make quilts for Ronald McDonald house.

    One of my quilts for Ronald McDonald House

    One of my quilts for Ronald McDonald House

  7. Color!  Who doesn’t love playing with all the beautiful fabrics?

    Yummy fabrics at Studio Stitch, where I sometimes teach

    Yummy fabrics at Studio Stitch, where I sometimes teach

  8. Socializing: it’s great to get together and work on a project with friends.

    An especially quilty friend!

    An especially quilty friend at a sewing group

  9. Being alone: it’s equally great to spend a quiet day alone in my studio

    View from my home

    View from my home

  10. Problem solving: Many projects present problems that need to be solved, and I love the challenge.

    modern quilt

    I enjoyed the challenge of designing and making this quilt

What are you thankful for?

Where Did You Wear It?

A couple of years ago I made a quilt based on the little triangle codes found on plants at my local nursery.  It sank without a trace when I entered it in a show.

But the idea stayed with me, and earlier this year, when I wanted to make a quilt with social significance, I decided on a QR code.

Since my “day job” involves a lot of treating conditions that condoms might have prevented, I wanted to make a quilt to promote condom use. It’s what we like to call “safer sex”. Now don’t get all huffy on me; sex is a fact of life.

When I went looking for a condom-related QR code, I found this one developed by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands.

Where Did You Wear It campaign

The folks at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands were gracious enough to allow me to use their QR code

Back in 2012 they put this QR code on all their condoms in a campaign called “Where Did You Wear It?”. Those who scan the code are taken to a website where they can put a pin in a map to show their geographic location–where they wore the condom!

The site also gives some important facts about condom use. The point of their campaign, and my point in making this quilt for show, is to normalize, encourage, and promote the use of condoms when needed.

It turns out QR codes are robust little devils, so I was able to re-color it and develop a lively quilt design with the use of my trusty Electric Quilt program:

Where Did You Wear It campaign

Quilt Design from the “Where Did You Wear It?” QR code

Making this was quite a challenge!  At each step I kept scanning it to be sure it took me to the “Where Did You Wear It?” site.  (You can download any of several QR code scanners to your smart phone or iPad. I used QMark.)

Asheville Quilt Show

The QR Code quilt, ready for its first show. It will the in the Asheville Quilt Show soon!

When I discussed the project with my wonderful son-in-law, he helped me turn my blog address into a QR code, too!  That’s this blog address you see in the TINY QR code making up one block toward the bottom right of the quilt. Scanning it brings you to this post.

Please help me to encourage condom use when appropriate by sharing this post.