Apr 302014

This month’s project focus was to make gifts for my parents, who turn 80 this year. Originally I planned to make one art quilt as a gift for both, but then I discovered a UFO that I had started for my dad about 15 years ago. He got something else for a gift that year, as I only managed to get half the top put together before my lack of improvisational experience caught up with me and I couldn’t figure out how to put the rest together without more flying geese units, and I had no more fabric for them.

By the time I pulled it out again I had forgotten whatever rules I was following at the time, and, with some cutting apart of segments and rearranging, I pulled a top together. I had just enough WoW for assembly and not enough to flesh out all the corners to 90degrees. But improv quilts don’t have to be square, so I called it good and sewed on a light blue inner border, using that to fill out the corners first. It still needs one more border. I hope my stash holds something that will work.

For my mom, I decided to make her a table runner (small projects finish quicker) from the fabrics we made her some napkins with, last Fall. That’s my NewFO for this month, and here’s some of the pieces.

This is not the planned design, just the focus blocks and some of the fabric strips I’m working with. I had in mind a colorwash style background but I don’t think these fabrics will give me the desired effect. I’ll save that idea for some other project. I’m not sure exactly what I will do, something with strips because I have a bunch all cut, but not log cabin.

 April 30, 2014  Posted by at 2:33 pm Quilt Alongs 1 Response »
Apr 142014

As many women do, I decided to make a quilt when my son was little. If I remember right (always an iffy proposition) he was five at the time. I’ve liked quilts since I was equally little, being fascinated by the vintage quilts my grandmother had on her beds. Exactly why I thought making a quilt might be a good idea I don’t know. I think I had this vague idea that I could make money selling quilts and quit my day job. Ha ha ha! I’m still trying to figure that one out, although the day job is long gone.

While I hadn’t made a quilt before, I had made a patchwork potholder for my mom in 6th grade, as a sample to go with a term paper I wrote about quilting. This was back in 1968 (don’t you dare do the math), and there weren’t many quilt books out there (none I could find) so my research was done at the New York State Historical Society, which happened to be in the town we lived in at the time. For the potholder I did a star, possibly an Ohio Star, and I can’t remember if I had a block pattern to follow. No step-by-step instructions, I had to figure it out, and I used scraps my mom had. I have no photos of this early masterpiece (or of my first real quilt, for that matter).

I also made a patchwork blanket for one of my model horses, from sample bits my mom gave me. No batting so technically it isn’t a quilt. I still have it around here somewhere, but the horse is long gone.

So I had a little bit of piecing experience when I set out to make a quilt, and a treadle sewing machine my dad had given me for my 16th birthday. I might have made the model horse blanket on it. (It’s not like I had any interest in sewing clothes or home decor.) I needed the treadle because we lived off the grid and our itty bitty solar power system couldn’t handle a sewing machine or iron. I sewed at home, then took the pieces to my mom’s house to iron them. The work got done in stages.

For a pattern I went shopping in my mom’s craft book collection, and found a Quilt-in-a-Day book by Eleanor Burns, complete with cardstock template pieces to cut out. The book was for a sampler quilt, but I chose one block (a pinwheel variation) to use for my first quilting venture. And yes, I cut out the templates, layered fabric, pinned the template in place, and struggled to cut through four layers of fabric with my mom’s old sewing scissors (read: dull). (I discovered rotary cutters soon after that first quilt.)

Once I had all the pieces cut, I learned real fast how to fudge a seam! My memory has faded over the years, so I don’t know how I managed to get it all put together, but I did. Then I had to figure out how to quilt it. First I basted the layers with straight pins and tried to sew a simple quilting line on my machine. Didn’t work. The pins didn’t hold and everything moved around.

After ripping out those stitches I resigned myself to hand quilting. I may have rebasted it, or I may have struggled with the straight pins, I’ve forgotten those details. Maybe I’ve blocked it out. All I remember was doing the bare minimum to hold it together, and my stitches almost qualified as Big Stitch. And somewhere along the line I lost a needle.

Eventually I finished it and gave it to my son, who loved it dearly. About 8 months later, he called me in to his room soon after bedtime, and said, “Mom, there’s something sharp in my quilt, it pricked me.” He showed me where it was, and I felt around and worked it out, thinking one of the straight pins had ended up inside. Nope, it was the missing needle. Sure made me feel like Mom of the Year for that one!

What I don’t understand, looking back, is why that wasn’t my last quilt as well as my first. I guess I’m a slow learner, because I’m still making quilts 25 years later. Although I’ve stopped leaving needles in them.


This post is my entry in the Blog it to Win it Contest sponsored by Interweave. If I win I want the following prize package:

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2013 Studios Collection CD


 April 14, 2014  Posted by at 4:40 pm Uncategorized 1 Response »
Apr 082014

OMG we are well into April already. Spring has sprung, the weather is beautiful, and I am busy in the garden. I may or may not have much time to quilt this quarter, but I’m going to try and finish the following:

1) Airplane quilt. (Wallhanging) I started this one years ago – can’t remember how many but over 10 – as a gift for my dad, then realized I wouldn’t finish in time and gave him something else. I recently unearthed in during an archeological dig in my UFO bins. He turns 80 this year, so I think it’s time to finish it. I’m also making a small quilt for my mom (also turning 80), but that one is not started yet.Airplane Quilt

2) Yellow squares. (Wallhanging) I made these blocks (only a few of them shown) recently to use up scraps that were cluttering up my work tables. I’d like to turn them into a finished quilt soon rather than add another UFO to my list.

Two more unstarted quilts are on my list. That’s 5 already so I’ll be lucky to get them all done, but just in case I discover a cache of extra time, I’ll include these three as repeats from last quarter:

3) “Stripes” – A QAYG quilt made by sewing strips directly to the backing and batting, which, I’ve discovered, is boring as hell. I may have to pay myself in chocolate to finish this one. Why did I make it twin size??

4) QAYG blocks #1 – Layered and basted blocks, ready for some free-motion practice. I expect to get these quilted, but whether I’ll get them assembled into a finished quilt by the end of the quarter remains to be seen. (Twin, I think.) [edit – I copied these as is from last quarter and just read it over – these blocks did in fact get quilted last quarter. Now I need to assemble them.]

5) QAYG blocks #2 – Another set of basted blocks waiting for free-motion quilting, [edit – centers are done. The wide sashing will be used for feather practice, which awaits some other quilt I want to use feathers on]. (Another twin, if I calculated right.)

 April 8, 2014  Posted by at 10:08 am Finish-Along 1 Response »