Trees of a different kind

Since Christmas is upon us, here is a small quilt that I made many years ago for some wonderful friends……

Made entirely of scraps and miscellaneous tree patterns, it was so much fun to make and I am seriously considering making another one….maybe bigger with LOTS more tree designs!!

If I did two trees a month, I could have a GREAT quilt at the end…..hmmmm….something to think about….maybe even as a quilt-a-long????

The Beautiful Boston Commons Quilt

As we get close to Christmas, our thoughts often turn to things of beauty and comfort and, naturally, my thoughts turn to quilts!!!

The quilt that I am sharing today is another one made by my Mom (Lois Swinson). I have shared a number of her quilts before and am happy to say that this one is a true favorite. It was the last of the “hope chest” quilts that she made for me and I have fond memories of her working on it.

Boston Commons

The quilt design is called “Boston Commons” and, like most of the other hope-chest quilts, is made from fabrics in her scrap basket.

The design itself is fairly simple.. made entirely of squares. I like the fact that Mom added interest by using solid fabrics on all of the outside edges. It gives a bit of continuity to the piecing…..

If you look closely at the fabrics, you will see some that were included in last week’s post of the Balloon Girl quilt!!

But, the best thing about this quilt is the AMAZING hand quilting. Mom loved to quilt…..

…and spent many happy hours sitting at her frame!!!

She meticulously quilted feathers and 1 inch grids into all of the white areas of the quilt….

My favorite memory of this quilt was when she stood the frame up on end to store it during a quilting break. There was a large window behind it and the colors shone like stained-glass…..it was mesmerizing!!!

I always enjoyed when this quilt was on my bed and am sad that we have moved on to bigger mattresses and can’t use this full-size quilt to snuggle under at night.

I guess that I need to find a way to decorate with it….that shouldn’t be too hard to do!!!

Bring on the Balloons….

As I have mentioned in this blog before, my Mom was an amazing quilter. When she returned to the art in the early 1970’s, she started making quilts for my “hope chest”.

This was the first quilt that she made……

It is a fun quilt for me to look at because ALL of the clothes were made from scraps leftover from MY clothes. I remember her happily picking out the fabrics and spending hours trying to decide which trim to put on which dress.

Each of the blocks was unique……

It has been well used over the years and is a fun, fun reminder of a simpler time!!!

Finished at last…

This past week I was able to finally finish the Brown Stripe quilt that I had started oh so long ago!!!

If you go back and read any of these posts…..piecing….. home machine quilting…..long-arm quilting ….. you will find that the piecing of this quilt was far easier than the quilting!!!

As I started using rulers on my home machine, I had tons of trouble getting over all of the seams, especially since I had OVERLY pieced the backing. This meant that there was just too much bulk under the needle.

Then I met Julio and he came home to make my quilting life easier…..but he didn’t…..at least at first!! But then I finally figured out how to make him work for me and, before I knew it, the quilting was done!!

I quilted all of the strip designs in the same manner, starting with a square in the center of the strip and then radiating parallel lines out toward the point of the strip.

For the alternating white blocks, I used a series of spinning rulers from Westalee and tried to do a different pattern in almost every block…..

I debated long and hard about how to quilt the background of the border pieces and started out with just a 1/4 inch echo along each of the blocks. Since that looked so good, I decided to add another echo line down the middle of the white border and am very happy with how it worked out.

I did do a bit of marking before I stitched….just to give me a registration point to know when and where to stop or to turn, etc…….

The final quilt looks great……

I have been reading a lot recently about staging your quilt photos so I decided to take this one outside and see what I could do. Michael went out to help…..

….and we got a few good photos, but my favorite one is when the wind caught the edge and threatened to send it into the neighbors yard!!

I am glad that this quilt is finally off of my To-Do list!!!

It proved to be a great learning experience and I am looking forward to starting another scrap strip quilt in the near future……

Scrap Quilt of Memories

As I have mentioned before in this blog, my Mom, like her mother and grandmother before her, was a quilter!! On one of my trips to visit her I decided that it was time to do a photo documentation of all of her quilts. We set up a makeshift display area on the back porch and she started bringing out quilts…..and more quilts……and more quilts!!!

Then we came to this signature quilt…..

Now this quilt had lived on her bed for as long as I could remember, but when she started looking at it, she became very nostalgic for the memories of the people who had signed it……

She had made the individual blocks herself and then passed them to her friends and relatives and asked them to embroider their names.

It was a time when EVERY woman knew how to perform this simple task!!

She carefully fingered the various names, remembering some with joy and others that she simply had no memory of.

She was never one to get her photo taken and most of her photos were not particularly good but I do this one……

I think that the joy that she found in her quilts and in the memories of her relatives and friends shows in her face.

She taught me the love of creating with my hands and, for that, I will always be thankful!!

Strip storage

If any of you know me, you know that I love Bonnie Hunter. She amazes me with the quality, consistency, and quickness of the work that she does. One of the reasons she accomplishes so much is because she is super organized, and that certainly appeals to me as well.

If you’ve never heard of Bonnie, you need to click here and spend a few hours perusing her site. I mean it……Leave my site right now and go visit hers!!!

For many years I have cut my scrap fabrics using her “scrap saver” system. She suggests cutting your leftover fabrics into usable sizes having them stored and ready to be grabbed at a moment’s notice.

Her suggested sizes are… 1.5 inch, 2.0 inch, 2.5 inch, and 3.0 inch. She cuts as many strips as possible and then uses the smaller pieces to cut squares in these sizes.

I currently have a large basket of scraps that need to be cut so that I can have them when I need them…..

I always say that I am going to cut after every project but we all know that is just something I say to myself to make me feel better.!!

One of the things I have struggled with is how to store my strips. I started out by trying to keep them in stacks by color, but that was quickly messed up. I tried putting dividers in my drawers, but that didn’t last long either. Finally, I just threw them all in drawers and would pull them out when I need them.

The problem was that the strings became tangled, causing the edges to shred, and making them harder to use.

In one of Bonnie’s recent posts, she talked about her strip storage method of putting like colors together, folding them over, and putting them in Ziploc bags. This appealed to me greatly and I decided that I needed to do it immediately!!

I started by pulling out the drawers that held one particular size of strip…. 2 inch in this case.

Next, I sorted them into basic color groups. It looks better already!!!….

I took each group to the ironing board laying out the strips flat on top of one another and giving a quick press every few strips….

If the strip stack started getting too big, I simply started another one….

After I finished with one color of strips, I rolled them loosely together……

……and placed them in a gallon-size Ziploc bag…..

I did not seal the bags up in order to allow air to be able to circulate around them.

Here is the final solution for the 2 inch strips…..

I kept going until I had finished all four sizes of strips and then moved on to my crumbs. When I was making the crumb blocks, I sorted one drawer of crumbs and put those in zip-lock bags as well. Today I sorted the 2nd drawer and added them all together. This is SO much better…..

So I will say “THANK YOU BONNIE” and go to bed knowing that ALL of my strips and crumbs are ready for use!!

From 5-inch to four patch

I have been talking this week about a Quilt of Valor that I was making using a panel and lots of 5-inch squares that were given to me by my Guild Charity Bee.

I knew that leaving the squares at 5 inches was way too big so I came up with a method for turning those 5-inch squares into a four -patch and then those four-patches into a checkerboard. Check the video out here……

Quilt of Valor Finished!!

Despite the rocky start where my math skills were concerned (read about it here), I am happy with the way the Quilt of Valor finished up.

Where I left you on Tuesday, it was not big enough to fit the QOV requirements, so I needed to make it bigger!! Because the panel was so skinny, more needed to be added to the sides than to the top and bottom.

My solution was to add a column of gold and cream checkerboard blocks…..

Adding a few borders finished the quilt top perfectly!!!

I am pleased with the result and, as with any QOV, I hope that it will be used to warm and comfort someone who chose to serve so that I could also be warm and comforted!!!

I’m good at math….I promise!!!

…..although some of my recent work didn’t prove it!!

I was working on a Quilt of Valor using a panel and fabric pack that had been provided by my guild’s Charity Bee……

The first problem was that the panel wasn’t printed straight and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it to be completely straight……

I finally just picked a point and trimmed the excess fabric off…..

This is when the math wheels fell off!!!!

I had decided to add a 2-inch checkerboard border around the panel so the center panel height and width needed to end up being even numbers. I measured, calculated, re-calculated, cut, and sewed the borders on. Then I measured again……NOOOOOOO!!

When I had planned the vertical border, I failed to include the 1/2 inch needed for seam allowances!!! Instead of unpicking those long seams, I opted to just trim the seam allowance off…..

I now re-cut the borders being sure to add the additional 1/2 inch. What I DIDN’T account for was the 1/2 inch that I trimmed off…..AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH! Fortunately, I figured this out before I sewed them back on again.

At this point, I had run out of the fabric that I was using for the border!! So I trimmed off the bottom and top seam allowance and started over again with a different fabric!!! You can be sure that I added a bit more than I thought I needed. It was a tense moment as I measured the piece to see if I had given myself enough room…..

WHEW!!!!

Now I could move on to making four the four patches and, fortunately, things went better from there. At the end of the day, this was where it stood……

So tomorrow I will take a few math classes and then keep working to grow this piece to an acceptable size!!!

Happy Halloween

“Halloween Harvest”

This is the quilt that adorns my wall during the month of  October.  It was made in 1995 and I remember it being SO much fun to make!!!   I  had tons of Halloween patterns that I was dying to use so I decided to use them all in ONE quilt!!

I picked out the patterns, determined the sizes, and then worked with graph paper to figure out where to place them on the quilt.

In particular I loved the playful pumpkins…..

…..and the fun bat…..

and cat……

I was particularly proud of thinking to incorporate the black and white fabrics with the orange and blues!!!

And the stripe binding was the perfect finishing touch!!!

Even though this quilt was made TWENTY-FIVE years ago, it still evokes strong memories. In this case, I remember how excited our kids (ages 8 and 10) were about the upcoming holiday.  I also remember that my husband, Michael, was doing a lot of deer hunting during this time and he would often leave super early in the morning and I would get up and sew while the kids were still in bed.

It was a sweet time and now I have this fun quilt to bring it back to mind.