Category Archives: Quilting the Quilt

Spicy Coasters for Project Quilting

I made some coasters for the seasons challenge in Project Quilting. “Seasons” made me think of seasonings. So I started with colors of spices we have in the kitchen: white salt, green parsley, red pepper, and so on. Keeping with the cooking theme, I wanted to make an oven mitt. Plans changed when I didn’t like how the blocks I’d made fit together. These coasters are pieced from 1.5″ solid fabrics. autumncoasters

How’d I get that cool wavy thing to happen when starting out with a square grid? With the quilting. I went back and forth in straight lines which shifted the fabrics just enough that they came out a little wonky. Cool, huh? This happened by accident the first time but I liked it so much that I kept going.

autumncoastersquilting

Creating in Southern California as I wish my east coast friends a happy blizzard. Keep warm out there! Quilts help. Just sayin’. 🙂

Kitchen, Kitties, and Some Quilting

My husband and I are working hard to renovate this house. The newest finish is a big scratching post tree for our cats. It’s made out of pantry shelves covered in leftover carpet with 24’s, rope, and staples. Sweet, huh?! I love it when projects reuse things that were headed to the trash. Our kitties seem to like it even though most of them won’t cooperate for photographs.

newscratchingpostapproved

Here’s the kitchen those pantry shelves came from. Some of the top cabinets we removed will be mounted in the garage for storage. The refrigerator’s been moved to the other side of the room and we’re leaving the stove, sink, and dishwasher hooked up as long as we can. New cabinets arrive on Tuesday! We’ll install the top ones, demo the rest of the kitchen, put flooring tiles in, install the bottom cabinets, then start tiling the countertop. We might be washing dishes in the bathtub for a while. Throw back to our motel-living days! So grateful to be here. kitchendemojuly16When I’m not in DIY home renovations mode I’m working on this sweet baby quilt. The done so I’m quilting it all together from the back. This is an eye-spy quilt where each novelty print fabric (ladders, owls, pumpkins, etc) is used in two different blocks. So it’s great for a baby quilt and as the child grows becomes a look-and-find game to match the fabrics up. This one is big enough to snuggle under on the couch too.

cityblocksquilttop  quiltingfromtheback

With my new computer I’m now on Instagram. Are you? Let’s follow each other! I’m quiltartbymegan on there.

Two Babies, Two Unique Quilts

Quilting-land at my house has been taken over by babies at my house. Just the way I like it. 🙂 The first baby quilt is for a little boy, newly arrived. I decided to do large disappearing nine-patch blocks. The first photo is what it looked like before the nine-patches were cut apart and rearranged.

big block 9 patches

Here it is, all together. It’s a little wrinkly, fresh from the dryer. I wash all of the baby quilts I make before mailing them out. Why? Because I spray baste, which leaves a bit of the glue residue inside the quilt until the first wash. I wouldn’t want a baby sucking on that.

Celeste front

Lastly, the fold-over shot. Isn’t this backing super cute? It’s a flannel, so it’s super-soft.

Celeste foldoverThe second quilt is for a baby who isn’t here yet. We don’t know if this baby is a he or a she, so my customer asked for a gender-neutral animal quilt. She pictured mom and baby looking at the quilt and talking about animal sounds.

I piled up the animal fabrics and started designing. I ended up going with my third or fourth idea for this quilt. See, I could piece all these animal fabrics together and come up with a big zoo for the kiddo to explore. But I kept coming back to the customer’s vision that included animal sounds. I had 34 animals which included rabbits, hedgehogs, penguins, and crocodiles. Pared down to the ones that make recognizable, kid-friendly noises, I was left with 17 blocks.

I decided to make this quilt have a lot of negative space between the blocks. A subtle fabric, lots of space to breathe, not too busy. Rather than piecing the top, I sandwiched and quilted it whole cloth. I marked the quilting lines with a Frixion pen, which comes right out in the wash along with the spray baste.

AnimalQuilt Marking

Then I added the animals to the quilt. First I framed each in black fabric, then I sewed each down to the quilt. So instead of being appliqued to the background fabric, they are actually quilted on top of everything.
AnimalQuilt AppliqueHere’s what the blocks look like all laid out and pinned in place. It’s a little bit like a photograph wall. 
AnimalQuiltPinnedI bound this one in the background fabric and sent it on its way… before getting the all-important fold-over shot. Luckily, my customer sent me this picture when the quilt arrived safely at her house. Red fabric with chicks on it for the backing!

Animals Foldover

Now for a bit of hand-applique. This will be the final border on a round-robin piece for my quilt guild next week. I’m excited to show you guys what my quilt looks like! I haven’t seen it for a few months as other quilters have been passing it around and working on it.
RR Applique

 

Mini Trunk Show for Mother’s Day

MomandMeNursery

My mom (pictured above with baby Megan) was an artist. She loved doing arts and crafts projects with my sister and I. She got into candle-making, wreaths, cross-stitch, chocolate molds, and more. But her real passion became quilting. In the few years that she was a quilter, she made dozens of quilts. Most were given away to friends and family. I have a few. So in honor of mother’s day, here are some of her works of art.

MomManger

Along with being an artist, Mom was a lifelong learner. This was great for quilting because there are so many techniques available! The Christmas wall-hanging above was made with fusible webbing and tied. Years later, I hand-sewed the shapes down that were starting to peel away from the backing fabric.

MomManger Poem

I love the message of this poem. Sometimes what seems like a bad thing is really for the best. I also love that it’s in Mom’s handwriting. She kept her lines straight using a light-box. Lit from behind, a lined sheet of paper was placed underneath the white fabric she wrote on. Smart!

MomHearthHere’s another one that’s mostly fused. Mom machine quilted between the blocks and in the borders on the machine that I now use. It’s the one I learned on and inherited. This quilt hung above the fireplace in our last house. It’s a Christmas one so I intended to take it down in January the first year we were there. My husband and our housemate liked it so much they asked me to leave it up a bit longer, and that was its home spot for all the years we were there.

Another thing to point out about this piece is the skin tones. Can you see it? Mom put in different colored skin tones not only to be realistic, but also to honor her love of people from lots of different backgrounds. Even though we lived in a mostly-white Connecticut town, she her book-club, church, and quilting friends had all different skin tones. And stories. I felt so grown up when I was allowed to join their conversations.

MomSunbonnetSueI took a Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Andy quilt class with Mom. She ended up with this beautiful quilt. I ended up quitting halfway through because my applique skills were frustrating. This was machine appliqued using a zig-zag stitch and invisible thread. I wanted mine to look like the sample, which had perfect tiny black zig-zags. Yeah, black thread isn’t such a good idea for a thirteen-year-old.

I remember helping Mom decide what each character would be doing, and helping her find the embellishments. Sue’s running from bumblebee buttons. Andy’s pulling a wagon with yo-yo wheels.

Mom quilted this one by machine too. The kids are outlined and the rest is stitched-in-the-ditch. I remember the quilt shop where this class was held had limited parking. It had a sign out front that read, “Quilter’s Parking Only. Violators Will Be Stitched In The Ditch.”

MomTulipsBy the time Mom started churning out more quilt tops than she could finish, I my interest in quilting had dimmed. I’d rather be talking on the phone with my best friend for hours, waiting for the radio to play my favorite song ever, deciding which shirt would be best to wear tomorrow, and other teenage girly things.

I do remember picking up a few pieces from the long-armer and being amazed at her huge machine. It took up the whole room! I wish I knew that woman’s name now, so I could add her to the label. This tulip quilt was one of the first to be sent her way.
Mom9POkay now we’re into the baby quilts. My parents decided not to learn the gender of the baby, so there are a few quilts with both blue and pink as my Mom wondered. They picked out two names, one for a boy and one for a girl. James Patrick won out as my brother Jimmy was born. He’s shortened it to Jim and made his way to prom last weekend. Ho boy has he grown up!

MomCatsThere’s at least one more baby sized quilt I’m holding onto until my brother’s ready to have them at his own place. You know, when he’s old enough to have his own place. It’s a grandmother’s flower garden, paper-pieced and beautiful. 
MomAutumn

The last quilt I’m showing you today was made after Mom found out that her colors are Autumn inspired. (Remember this post? I’m an autumn, too!) She didn’t have a lot of fall colors in her stash or quilt collection so she challenged herself to make this one.

When she passed, it was only a top. So her friends in the local quilting group finished it… by hand. Look at this beautiful hand quilting in-between the stars. It’s dedicated to the baby. Such a work of love it takes my breath away just to look at.

MomAutumnQuilting

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, and all the mothers out there. All of this information is recalled from memory. Just know that even when your teenage daughter is rolling her eyes at you and answering every question with “fine” that they’re probably still paying attention. I was.

Tropical Starburst – A Teal Crumb Quilt for Project Quilting

Well, I’ve done it! I worked on this quilt all week long and still wasn’t sure I’d make the deadline. Entries need to be submitted to Project Quilting by 9am here in California. This week it’s a triangle challenge. So here she is, “Tropical Starburst.”

Tropical StarburstThis quilt measures 42 x 42 inches square and took me 22 hours to make. Yes, I tracked it. Why? This beauty is for sale in my etsy shop. See that listing here. The next photo is a close up of the center.

Center of Tropical Starburst

I had originally planned for the eight pointed star to look like it’s all one piece. Then I cut the center crumb square 9″ instead of 10.5″. Oops. Well, I could add more crumb pieces to that block to make it big enough. But that would make obvious addition lines and I like things more random than that. Or I could spend forever making another crumb block that’s large enough. Plan C? It’s pictured above. I bordered the block I already had in the solid teal.

I think this change actually makes the piece more interesting and modern. Plus it solved a problem that I would have had if the crumbs were all together…. quilting. Since the crumb blocks are pieced from tiny scraps of fabric there are a LOT of seams. It’s nearly impossible to quilt through them, so much so that I try to avoid it. Having the box of teal made it so I didn’t have to. The quilting lines were spaced close enough together for my batting to make it work.
Back of Tropical Starburst

Here’s the back, binding, and you can see a bit of the straight-line quilting I did. I used a single piece of fabric for the backing and a single piece of batting to stuff the quilt… this time. That’s pretty rare for me. In my next post I’ll show you how I usually piece the batting.

If your interested in this quilt, check out its’ listing on etsy. Also, expect more crumb quilts in my shop in the next few weeks.

Sneaky Peeks

Here are a few of the treasures I’ve been working on. The first is a wedding quilt for a dear friend. Spoiler alert! It’s green.

Green Bag

I wasn’t able to go out and get this tracing for a portrait quilt of a dog enlarged today. So I pulled some fabrics for it instead! Here’s my method of keeping everything straight once I’ve made the decisions. FYI: I’ve put 90 minutes into this quilt already and haven’t yet started putting it together. That’s why I charge $25 per subject as a design fee!

prep for dog quilt I finished this quilt. Woo! It feel so good to have a project done done done. This is a signature quilt and is for sale in my etsy shop. You can sign this quilt in the beige fabric spots… which, as you can see, make up most of the quilt. It’s great for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and other celebrations. Super-durable, it’ll hold up to washings. Just make sure to follow the directions on whatever fabric marker you buy. Some of them need to be set with a hot iron.

signature quilt 1I’ve also been working on this week’s Project Quilting Challenge, which is up-cycling.

I pulled some fabric for my new guild’s round robin. I’ll be adding a border and some embroidery. Unfortunately, this is all supposed to be secret until the big reveal in a few months so I cannot share photos of it until then.

What are you working on?

Retreats and Vacations

My mini group is on a weekend retreat right now. I get to go play with them all day tomorrow. So fun! I couldn’t swing the hotel room and all weekend costs, but am extremely excited to spend a day sewing and chatting with some of my favoritest peoples ever. Soul food, for sure. Plus chocolate.

gone quilting

Also, I just wanted to give you guys a heads-up that I’m going on vacation for two weeks starting at the end of next week. My plan is to continue with my two-ish blog posts a week but it may be more or less than that, depending on the number of photographs taken and the time to actually write.

Hubby’s not coming with me this time but I’m excited to spend some quality time with family I haven’t seen in a long time… including one I haven’t met yet, baby Mary! Expect an update on her quilt with full photographs of it and her sweet cheeked drooly-ness either during my stay or once I get back. I’m also super psyched to spend some time with my baby brother who’s growing into a man and my little sister who’s now a mommy. And my Dad. Sorry dude that you’re last on the list of shout-outs but we’ve had some really great phone conversations recently that make me feel like you’re not halfway across the country.

planes vacation

So, big plans for me. I’m sewing like crazy to finish up some projects before I go.

quilt all the things

Custom orders for Christmas are still available. It’s getting a little late in the season for Chanukkah, but you could always give a card saying what you’ve ordered and save the actual gift for when it arrives. Plus there are birthday and anniversary celebrations to be had.

I’ll have a few more posts up next week before I land in fly-over country.

Turtles, Turkeys, Wolves and Bears Oh My!

I love collaborative projects. They’re always such an adventure. This one is for the lodge at my childhood summer sleep-away camp, Crystal Lake Camps. I have such awesome memories of this place and the people I met there. So when the idea was pitched on the alumni Facebook page to make clan animal themed quilts for four rooms I was eager to help.

There many ways campers are grouped together at CLC. One is by age, which determines your cabin assignment. Another is girls’ camp and boys’ camp. Also your skill level in classes like swimming and horseback riding. Clans are something different and special. Boys, girls, and counselors of all ages are split into four groups: turtles, turkeys, wolves and bears. These clan groups compete in events like blueberry picking and tug-of-war, make their own cheers, and sit together at council fire. It’s another opportunity for bonding and though I haven’t been to camp since 2001 I’m still a proud turtle.

So here’s what we’ve done so far for these four clans… starting with the turtles ’cause, well… I’m a turtle. I’m collecting blocks that have a light blue background and one or more turtles on them. The blocks’ measurements must be divisible by 3, so they’re not the same size but I can puzzle them all together. So with seam allowances, you can have 3.5″ x 3.5″ all the way up to 15.5″ by 15.5″ and anything in-between. Here are some of the blocks that have been made.

more turtles coming in

 

I’m the maker behind this one. Can you tell? Its shell is crumb-pieced then reverse appliqued under the blue fabric and the rest is hand-embroidered. 12x15 turtle

Okay. Onto the turkeys quilts. This lodge room gets two because it has a set of twin beds.  I’m also coordinating this project. I sent off some quilt blocks to the alumni reunion weekend along with fabric markers. I haven’t gotten them back yet but am so excited to see what everybody wrote/drew on them for the turkeys quilt! I’m kind of hoping I get a hand print turkey or two back. Do you remember making those in elementary school for Thanksgiving? Anyway, alumni weekend was populated with several generations of alumni and their children so I’m sure the quilts will be awesome. Here’s what some of the blocks looked like before decorations.

turkeys

The next two quilt tops are for the wolves and bears. Their very talented maker Betsy Huffman gave me permission to share them with you guys. Another volunteer will quilt and finish them. So all four quilts are technically still UFOs (unfinished objects)…. with a lot of love put into them. See?

bear quilt

Yes, that bear quilt has a cat on it. My cats are also quilt-inspectors. I love how Betsy included the traditional “bear paw” block as one of her borders.

wolf quiltI love the howling wolf in the corner of this quilt. Did you notice that Betsy also made matching pillowcases? She said she made them with the leftovers from making these quilts. What a good idea.

Even Tree Skirts are Creative Opportunities

Every project has its own unique story. For example, I just finished this custom ordered tree skirt for my Aunt. I chose some modern fabrics and ran them by her to make sure she didn’t want something more traditional…. and then, as I sometimes do… I stole them. More accurately, I used a LOT of the rusty red fabric in another project. I had it right there in my stash just waiting to be used… but it was waiting to be used for this project. Oops.

Well, that’s where creativity comes in. I had planned to make this tree skirt out of alternating print and red in 8 equal sections. Instead, I cut up the red that remained into four 1/16th wedges. I still wanted the main print to have 4 large sections. So that left room for two more 8ths which I pulled from another beautiful print. Putting them together, I inserted the red where I thought the patterns needed some rest. Guess what? That means it’s not symmetrical. And, I think it’s more modern and beautiful in its imperfection that it would have been if everything went according to plan.

I constructed and quilted this tree skirt and then put binding around the raw edges. Of course, the plan was to use the red print as the binding too… which would bring it all together nicely. Yeah, I don’t have nearly enough red print left to make binding. Another design opportunity. I’m creative; I can figure this out! Time to audition fabrics.

skirtauditions

I saw that the yellow would work nicely… and decided to go bold with the blue circles. Bold is good. It’s scary and could make the whole project wonderful. Once it was sewn on, I decided it was waaaay cooler than the yellow ever could have been. Adds some sass and whimsy.

skirtbinding

 

The backing? Yeah. That was going to be the red, too. (But that other project really needed it, honest! When I can I’ll show you the quilt I’m talking about. No other fabric would have done the job as well.) I often piece backings for my quilts, but I wanted this tree skirt to have the option of being double-sided… which called for a one-fabric back. So I pawed through my stash, hoping to find something large enough that would compliment the front. Turns out that the Asian fabric that I bought over a year ago because it was just so beautiful that I had to have it was just waiting to be used in this particular project. It’s the deep blue print in the photo below.
skirtbackopening

So here she is in all of her glory. It’s been a great ride. I’ve stretched myself and made something I’m proud of. I hope my aunt loves this skirt as much as I do. Now to throw her in the wash and send her off to New England. Safe travels, my friend. I really do love you.skirtfull

 

 

* It’s not too late to get your custom tree skirt order in for this year.

I Have Helpers, Don’t You?

Doesn’t it feel good to finish something? This time, I had a lot of help. Here are my helpers, in chronological order.

  • My own desire to make a quilt for my first biological niece. (I married into a family with babies, so technically this isn’t the first time I’ll be Aunt Megan.)
  • My Aunt suggesting that we paint the letters of my sister’s baby’s name during her shower weekend… which didn’t work out because the parents were keeping that a secret until she was born.
  • The flash of creativity that gave me the idea to make a signature quilt. We would write our guesses for the baby girl’s name on fabric and I’d make it into a quilt.
  • All of the family members who came together to celebrate my sister in January of this year… and also happened to sign blocks for the baby’s quilt.
  • A deadline. Yup, I’ve had this quilt in the works since January… and by “in the works” I mostly mean sitting in a drawer being ignored. I get to spend this Thanksgiving with my family and deliver the finished quilt in person. That is, if I finish it in time.
  • My online quilting group. We call ourselves Snowflakes. I posted photographs of the quilt and said that I was basting it… which gave me accountability and made me actually do it.
  • A dear friend who invited me over to sew with her on Saturday. I borrowed her marking pen and quilted the whole thing in one sitting. Straight-line quilting is much less boring to do when you’re across from a chatty friend.
  • My Hulu shows. I enjoy hand-stitching the binding on quilts late at night with the TV on. Unfortunately, late night TV isn’t something I enjoy watching but there’s always “Bones” and “Once Upon a Time” in my queue.

So here I am putting the last few stitches on the binding. I’ll add a label tomorrow and toss it in the wash to minimize the amount of cat hair I’m giving away. And TA-DA! Done.

Binding Mary