This has been a strange time with the constant fear and uncertainty of the pandemic ever looming. For me the semi-isolation is probably the hardest in terms of creativity. It seems there are lots of ideas, but then little motivation to act on them. Back in March I finally spent a lot of time making masks for my grandchildren and the neighbor children. And there have been some finishes around here.
Sherry Gray is always around to help with binding and encouraging words. Bea Lee has also been fun for conversation and inspiration. Most of our conversations are via text, but that’s how it was before the pandemic. I am going to show you just a few quilts at a time over the next few days.
The following pictures are quilts made from a set of blocks that I made over 10 years ago. There were well over a hundred blocks. There was a time when Drunkard’s Path blocks were one of my favorites. That, along with a subscription to Batiks Etc., monthly batik pack kept me going. I was working full time in those days and made a block or two a day. I showed the blocks to Sherry. She and her husband are absolute color gurus and they took on the task of sorting the blocks for color combinations and then Sherry stitched them together. I quilted them, and she did the binding. If only you could see them in person. They are gorgeous and have been gifted to my three granddaughters who live here.
It’s Friday and we haven’t been out of the house and yard for many days. We wave at the neighbors or talk at a distance from across the fence. Or we text. And they are so kind to offer to buy groceries for us, but in fact we have a couple of freezers (one in the fridge and one free-standing) so we are good with food. And if needed, I’ll bake bread.
It’s such a bright spot to talk to the children. What’s really fun is hearing how the ten grandchildren are doing – five in each household. One household has chickens and rabbits, so they’re busy taking care of themselves and their creatures. The other household has four boys and a girl. Yesterday I got a hilarious phone call from the Mom (former school teacher) saying she was going crazy. At 11am on Thursday, the 11 year olds were finished with all of their school assignments for the next three weeks, their household chores were all done, and they were just cruising for trouble. The 8 year old is being very hard to teach as it is difficult to keep him on task, the 5 year old complaining that he’s not getting enough attention and the 2 year old pulling out all the toys. And watching TV for four hours a day is just not acceptable so what is she going to do. My husband suggested Lego challenges like the Lego TV show. I am sure they will be fine so long as they can get outside and run and run and run.
Here’s a memory picture—just to think about what has been and might be:
I quilted the background for the Northwoods Medley and Camper quilt on Sunday and Monday and although I work out on the elliptical and bicycle for 3 miles on each every day, my ribs were really sore. Quilting does use muscles which haven’t been exercised in awhile. So, I decided to work on some embroidery at the computer and embroidery machine. This is the progress on the Nautical Medley. They turned out pretty well. The wheel was really hard as the embroidery software wanted to put starts and stops all over the place with so many moving parts for the spokes and making everything stitch in a logical order was not easy. There may be more changes, and the sailboat is yet to come.
I have been working on a quilt using the GO!™ Camper and Northwoods dies and the embroidery that I digitized for these dies. With the embroidery, I made quilt blocks that fit a 7″ x 8″ embroidery hoop. The applique dies are often perfect for a full quilt block and that is what I like to make. This is the quilt as I am quilting it on the longarm. You can see the Electric Quilt software version just below that.
I created the embroidery blocks so that there are blocks with birds flying one way and the same block with birds flying in the opposite direction. I also moved the squirrels and bunnies to different places on the blocks so it would look more natural. And of course, any of the birds, or other creatures can be omitted as there are color stops for each one.
The following information is a tutorial for making the border—specifically the triangle border. This is an image showing the measurements for each border.
The body of the quilt is made of embroidered blocks that have been cut to 8-1/2″ square (unfinished) and stitched together to make a top that is 40-1/2″ x 40-1/2″.
The first border is cut and stitched as follows:
- Cut 5 each 2-1/2″ x width of fabric (WOF) strips. Seam together three of the strips in the same manner that you would seam binding (45 degree angle).
- Cut 2 strips 2-1/2″ x 40-1/2″ for the inner side border and stitch to the quilt sides. Ease as needed to fit.
- Cut 2 strips 2-1/2″ x 44-1/2″ from the three strips that were seamed together. Stitch these two strips to the quilt top and bottom that include the side strips already stitched on. Ease as needed to fit.
The second border is cut and stitched as follows (make four borders):
- Colored Border Fabric:
- Cut 44 each Triangle in a Square (4″ finished) Die 55753 (Shape #13) from the 8″ Qube Companion Set Angles.
- Cut 4 Squares(4″ finished) Die 55708 (Shape 1) from the 8″ Qube Set,
- Background Fabric:
- Cut 40 each Triangle in a Square (4″ finished) Die 55753 (Shape #13) from the 8″ Companion Set Angles.
- Cut 8 each Triangle in a Square Sides (4″ finished) Die 55754 (Shape #14) from the 8″ Companion Set Angles.
Assemble the border as follows:
Lay out one color and one background Triangle in a Square shapes and stitch together as shown.
Lay out the next Triangle in a Square Shape and stitch. Continue stitching shapes together in a row until there are 11 color shapes and 10 background shapes.
When there are 11 color Triangles and 10 background triangles stitched together, add the end side triangles (Shape 14). Complete this process four times to make four borders.
On the end of two of the borders, stitch a 4-1/2″ square (4″ finished). Stitch the borders that do not have the squares to the quilt first. Then stitch the borders with the end squares to the quilt next. I used the points of the triangles to match to the seam allowances of the quilt blocks and eased the border as needed to fit the inner border. It seemed that it might not fit or it would pucker, but once it was pinned and stitched, it fit perfectly. Triangles are often like that because there is so much bias involved. But if you work gently and patiently, you will find they can be manipulated into place beautifully. And the great plus is that with AccuQuilt all the shapes are perfectly cut to get the perfect fit.
The third border is cut and stitched as follows:
- Cut 6 each 2-1/2″ x WOF strips from color border fabric. Seam together three of the strips in the same manner that you would seam binding (45 degree angle). Make 2 sets of three strips seamed together.
- Cut 2 strips 2-1/2″ x 52-1/2″ for the outer side borders. Stitch to the sides of the quilt.
- Cut 2 strips 2-1/2″ x 56-1/2″ for the outer top and bottom borders. Stitch to the top and bottom of the quilt.
Your quilt top is finished. Just quilt as desired. With this much embroidery, a meander is a great way to quilt. I am using a water meander on mine. And of course, the borders can be quilted geometrically with rulers or with an overall fill.
This post is a little off the topic of quilting, but I’ll tell you about my new applique toy at the end. Yesterday the second grader came after school with the condition that he read for 30 minutes. However, for some reason his book didn’t make it to his bookbag so we had to find something to read here. At first I didn’t think I would find a chapter book that was right for a second grader, but then I spied my Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic, a favorite. We read 29 pages and it was so much fun to watch that little boy read as he understood the subtle humor and threw his head back and giggled out loud.
My husband reads every night at bedtime. He is a very careful, detailed reader and always goes back and re-reads the last couple of pages before starting new material. For the last few years he has read on a Kindle paperwhite. About a week ago he bought a book on World War I which is over a thousand pages and has lots of pictures and charts. He bought the real book this time rather than a digital book for the Kindle. The first night when he started the book, he reached over to turn out the light and then realized he couldn’t read a real book in the dark. We had a little chuckle over that.
I listen to audiobooks that I get from the public library or from Audible. The best book I’ve “read” in recent weeks was A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean. It is about a young American woman who discovers pictures of her grandmother with a Nazi soldier. The story plays out with her grandmother telling how it happened. It is a fascinating story, and I got a lot of stitching done while listening. This was one of those books that I wanted to know what happened, but didn’t want it to end.
And now for my new “tool”. I bought a Cricut Maker to cut fabric appliques. And I LOVE it. It has a rotary blade and cuts the most beautiful, crisp fabric shapes I have ever seen. The computer software interface is not nearly as nice as the Silhouette interface, but the cutting is better than any other I’ve seen.
Grandchildren are such a joy. A cute little story about one of the second graders is about his reading. He comes to our house after school on Tuesday and Thursday to play. One of his school assignments is to read 30 minutes every day. For the last two weeks he has found one excuse or another at home to avoid his reading. Yesterday he missed his visit to us because his mother restricted him to no more grandparent visits until his reading was done. We got a message late yesterday afternoon that he sat and read for a solid hour. We had a good chuckle over his motivation and the fact that we can never understand why it’s more fun at grandparents’ house than his own. Nevertheless, he has won a visit to our house today on a rare Wednesday but is required to read with us for 30 minutes of that visit.
This is one of the projects I’m working on right now. It was started about five years ago. The background fabric I chose was pink and as the grandchildren kept coming, they were all boys. At one point I stopped with the last three letters, x, y, and z unfinished. Finally two years ago the last grandchild was born and it was a girl. She’s two now and thinks she’s the queen of a house full of brothers and her dad. So a couple of weeks ago, I finished the last three letters and am in the process of putting this quilt together.
The embroidery designs are an alphabet from Designs by JuJu. I love her embroidery and this makes such a cute quilt with the bright colors. I added a princess crown, carriage, queen bee and castle from another Designs by JuJu embroidery set to make the rows come out even.
I’m still working on a decision as to the border fabric, but I think it’s going to be the batik even though the print looks really good with this.
This is the rug in her room and the turquoise hopefully will coordinate with that as well as the hints of blue in the sashing fabric.
And this is that wild child with her sweet brother.
This is a belated Valentine. Somehow my New Year’s resolution to write several posts a week has not come to fruition. What happens is that I get so involved in projects that the hyperfocus excludes all else.
When my second grader grandson was here on Thursday, Feb 13, making Valentine’s and asked what to write on his Valentine cards, I told him to write “Happy Valentine’s Day” or “Be My Valentine.” He asked me what that means. My response was that it’s like saying “Merry Christmas” at Christmas time. That was not the best explanation but the first thing that came to mind. Children ask the most unexpected questions, and I often wonder how they process and perceive what we say.
And it’s been incredibly busy here. A couple of the projects I can’t tell you about yet, but there are two others that are interesting in that one in my opinion is a complete fail and the other is beginning to shape up into something pretty.
First for the complete fail. I was looking for fabric to go with the pink and purchased the green fabric as I thought it would be perfect and it’s such a cute print. I made one block and thought it looked pretty good so decided to make the rest of the blocks. As I worked, it was very apparent to me that I didn’t like the green but was determined to finish what I had cut. So here’s the block and the quilt top. They definitely are not on my list of winners. The top has to be quilted and I will do that soon and then see if there are any takers among the 10 grandchildren.
The one good thing about this quilt is the blocks I chose to go together. I love the look of the stars framed by the chain. Now the challenge is to make it in colors I love.
I’ll tell you about the second project tomorrow. It’s a much happier story.
The weekend and Monday brought progress on a few things. I’ve had these log cabin blocks, 120+ of them, for awhile. I work on them off and on whenever I want to sew blocks. This is the upper quadrant of a king size quilt. The pinwheel geese blocks are there just because I wanted to sew geese. Sometimes there isn’t a plan, just a desire to stitch.
And this is a quilt that I made quickly because I found the 3-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ bricks that were cut from scraps and wanted to get them made into something. This will be a charity/comfort quilt. Sherry has offered to do the binding for which I am most grateful.
And this quilt is for my daughter’s birthday. It’s a quilt for the soccer field. I thought the colors would not show grass or mud stains. The back is a dark orange batik which will also be invisible to grass and mud stains. I used the AccuQuilt Crazy Quilt die for this one. It makes 10″ finished blocks and stitches up so quickly.
Christmas Day has passed and we are on to a New Year. My husband said on Christmas evening that he always thinks of the New Year the day after Christmas, and I have the same feeling every year. Christmas is fun, but it’s also a hurdle and once it’s over, it’s out with the old and in with the new.
Just a recap of December for the quilting that happened here. After finishing all the embroidery, I continued on with the quilting with soft quilt backs like Minkee and fleece. The grandchildren all wanted a “soft” quilt. This is the one that Ezri pieced and I quilted. The snowflake pantograph is one of Patricia Ritter’s from UrbanElementz. It is really gorgeous and shows up so beautifully on the Minkee.
Rather than put a label on the back of each quilt, I used the built-in alphabet on my embroidery machine and stitched on the top of the quilts. There’s no reason for the label not to be on the front of the quilt and this was so much easier than making a label and stitching it to the back. There just wasn’t time for that.
There are a couple of other quilts I finished for the children – really quickie ones, but in the rush forgot to take pics. Will show them another day when I get a chance to take pics.
And this is one that my sister-in-law made as a Christmas gift. She has just started quilting again after quite a few years. I love the colors and the design and everything about this quilt. It just goes to show that a design doesn’t have to be complex to be really beautiful.
The munchkin at the end is my five-year old grandson. Isn’t he adorable?
Yesterday I loaded and finished quilting a lap quilt made by my granddaughter, Kes. This is a favorite pattern of ours using a 3-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ rectangle die and the 2″ strip cutter. The blocks are made of a Laurel Burch horse print. I love the fabric designs and this was fabric left over from a larger quilt that I made for Kes.
When Minkee fabric was on sale a few months ago, I bought yardage for quilt backing. I have used it already on the back of one of Ezri’s quilts, and Kes wanted it for the back of hers. When I bought the Minkee, the issues related to fuzz simply escaped my mind. For a soft backing, working with flannel or fleece is a better choice. However, when I started to cut, fuzz was front and center. It’s not the fuzz I mind, it’s the cleanup. Now that this is quilted, the plan is to use the serger to finish the edges to prevent so much fuzz everywhere while binding.
This is a picture of the backing just loaded on the quilt frame. I had cut the lower edge of the backing to even it up before pinning it to the leaders. I used a lint roller to pick up all of that fuzz.
And as soon as this is finished, I am going to sew the rows together on Ezri’s rail fence quilt that she’s making for Vivi. Vivi wants a quilt with a “soft” back, so it will get quilted with Minkee on the back too. These are real challenges the week before Christmas, but fun ones because of the precious children who are the recipients. The biggest concern I have is that Vance, (Vivi’s twin) will want a quilt with a soft back. My hope is that I have a panel somewhere in the stash that can be quickly bordered and quilted for him. Will keep you posted.
Have you seen the new dies that AccuQuilt introduced today? The new applique die is a Scottie Dog and it is so cute. This is the “big secret” that I’ve been working on and here’s a picture of some of the designs I created. There are seven designs in all. The little dog is about 4-1/2″ x 4-1/4″ in size. And he’s a cutie pie. This little dog would make cute 6″ finished blocks or 8″ finished blocks.
There are two more new dies for pieced quilts. I think the 6″ finished crazy quilt block would be wonderful. I can see piecing the crazy quilt blocks on the machine and then adding some machine embroidery decorative stitches on top of the seams. This could be done either with decorative stitches from the domestic machine or using some of the fancy crazy quilt stitches from my embroidery software.
Are you getting ready for Christmas? Believe it or not the weather has helped us get ready for Christmas. It rained cats and dogs here last week. We actually got our Christmas tree up (and before Christmas Eve) and I have gifts wrapped and some packages ready to be shipped. They will go out today, well before the package deadline from UPS. We don’t do a lot of big Christmas decorations and our tree is an artificial tree, easy to assemble, and kind of skinny, but it has beautiful colored lights which we enjoy. Ezri was here after school when we were putting up the tree. She insisted it was not really a Christmas tree because it was artificial. She has gotten to be a big tease about things like that.
PS: Our draperies are actually taupe but the lights give them a purplish hue.