Plumage


Plumage

July 2021

While I have named this recent finish “Plumage”, I think “Into the Corner” would perhaps have been a more fitting name. The reason being is that I sort of got painted into the corner with this one. My plan all along had been to make this a quanket – backing the quilt top with a fleece backing. However, in letting the top’s design take the lead, it ended up being 66″x66″ which is larger than the readily available 60″ wide fleece at the fabric stores. I was truly flummoxed by the situation I had gotten myself into, and set it aside for several days to let my brain storm on how to get out of the corner I had backed myself into. I tried to find extra wide fleece, but had no luck. Finally, the light bulb came on! When I first started making quankets back in the 90’s, fleece was not a common item in the fabric shops, so I would use blankets, cut to size, for the backing material. Perhaps not the most cost effective option, but I really like backing my quilt tops with blankets (now fleece), as it makes them so soft and snuggly. For this, I purchased a black minky blanket that worked perfectly for getting me out of the corner and getting this finished for my niece and her partner as a house warming gift.

I chose the name Plumage for a few reasons. My niece loves birds, and has two beautiful pet birds, Alex and Tycho. The second reason is to honor my granny and my sister – my niece’s Mom. My granny loved to make costumes and participate in her clubs’ costume and hat parades (the VFW and the Grandmothers Club). When I was a kid, it was so cool to see my elderly grandmother get dressed up in some really outrageous costumes, showing me that being playful is not just for kids. This must have rubbed off a bit on my sister, as she often participated in her works’ Halloween costume parties. Through the years, some of her ‘plumage’ included, a crazy cat lady, Humpty Dumpty, Carmen Miranda, a gorilla and a viking.

The outer border for this quilt was material taken from the ruffled skirt of my sister’s Carmen Miranda costume. Those ruffles were so long – even after taking the skirt’s two bottom ruffles to do the border, there was still a nice peasant top leftover! The other fabrics are Wilmington’s Tropical Flair Hello Angel Birds in Paradise panel and coordinating charm squares. I also used fabric from a couple of my sister’s shirts. The center design is based off of Robin Pickens, Wind Drifter pattern.


 

Firsts


Firsts

June 2021

This is a quilt I made for my husband, twice. The pinwheel blocks are from the first quilt I ever made, 40 years ago, as a gift for him for our first Christmas together. The original quilt had been the pinwheel blocks set in a 4×5 layout with an ivory border and backing. I made it in the style of a comforter, using high loft polyester batting, that I sewed around the inside edges before turning out, like a pillowcase. I didn’t know to tack through the batting around the center area, so when it was put through the wash, it came out as a big ball, and took vigorous shaking to get it flat again! Needless to say, this was not a very functional comforter, and migrated into my cedar chest many, many years ago.

When I originally made this, I had no clue about economy HST blocks, no fancy rulers, and no internet to guide me in how to go about making a quilt. I hadn’t taken quilting class(es), or acquired quilting books, both which would have provided some guidance to the process. Loving to sew, I simply threw myself into making my first quilt. I can’t recall now what I even used to determine cutting the right triangles!

In a recent decluttering effort, I came across the original quilt, and decided to repurpose it into a new quilt that my husband could use as a couch throw. The center panel, blue sashing and Warm and Natural batting are the only new additions to this quilt. I used 18 of the original 20 pinwheel blocks, and much of the ivory backing to back this. As I began to reimagine this updated quilt, I wasn’t sure if I should fix the wonky pinwheel blocks, which I suspect was from whatever method I originally used to cut them. However, I decided that keeping them as is was important since it was the first quilt I ever made, and acts as the yardstick to measure my growth over the past 40 years.

My first love
You’re every breath that I take
You’re every step I make
~ Lionel Richie

 

Further


Further

May 2021

This recent finish is the largest quilt I’ve made, measuring 90″x90″. I quilted it on my regular sewing machine, and because I didn’t want to wrestle the entire thing during the quilting phase, I opted to build it in two triangles that I then joined after quilting – sort of quilt as you go (QAYG), but on a much larger scale. I had a few lines I had to quilt on the machine after it was all together, but this seemed more manageable than having to do all the quilting at its completed size. Due to its size, I had to do a lot of the final trimming, pinning, etc. on my entryway floor, as my sewing room does not have enough space for something this large to be laid flat and still work around it. I sewed the front seam by machine, and then hand sewed the batting and back seam.

The center pattern is Acorn Caps from Fat Quarter Shop, using Moda’s Harvest Road fabric by Lella Boutique. I also mixed in some Tonga Treat batiks and some scraps from my stash. I set the Acorn Caps design on point, added a 1″ border in brown, and then did simple patchwork for the setting triangles. The final border and the pillow shams are a coordinating batik.

I made this for my daughter and son-in-law, who love to backpack. The colorway resembles those seen in nature: blues for the sky, lakes, rivers and creeks; greens for the trees, shrubs, and plants; and brown, not only for the dirt, but the trail that becomes the epicenter of one’s day. I did some of the quilting to mimic the lines on a topographic map, one of the most important items in one’s pack. 

I chose to name this Further for a few reasons. On the many treks that we’ve done over the years, our daughter often wants to go farther up the trail, wanting to see what is beyond the next mountain or bend in the trail. With the Sierra Nevada as our backpacking playground, it’s difficult not to give into the allure of what lies further ahead.

In 2009, my husband and I, along with our daughter and her husband, and my brother-in-law and his son, hiked the John Muir Trail, from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. After three weeks on the trail, it was difficult to go back to everyday life at home, and not continue further on the trail. Backpacking becomes addictive in that way.

The mountains are calling, and I must go
~ John Muir

This quilt is also the furthest I’ve pushed myself in quilting.

 

W00t


W00t
May 2021

The design for this baby quilt began with the owl fabric, that I fussy cut to showcase the owls. It will be donated as part of this year’s Hands2Help Challenge being hosted by Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict @fabricaddictquilts. The cute owl fabric is the last of this fabric which I had previously used in Hoots, which went to Little Lambs Foundation for Kids for the 2018 Hands2Help challenge. This quilt is also heading off to Little Lambs Foundation for Kids @littlelambsfoundationforkids for this year’s challenge.

The log cabin blocks were made from yellow and teal scraps. I like to store my scraps by color, in photo boxes. While some people prefer to precut their scraps to common sizes, I do not cut my scraps before putting in the boxes, but just leave them whatever size/shape they are. I find this gives me more flexibility for future projects.

#h2h2021 #hands2help2021

Echoes


Echoes
May 2021

Here’s a baby quilt that will be donated to Little Lambs Foundation for Kids @littlelambsfoundationforkids as part of this year’s Hands2Help Challenge being hosted by Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict @fabricaddictquilts.

The fabric of the animals riding around in cars is the last I have of this fabric, which I also used in Twizzler Goes for a Ride and Toodles. The blue, cream-colored and dark green blocks are all solid fabrics, which is deceiving since the fleece I used for the backing on this quanket (blanket + quilt = quanket) shows through when held up to light. The fleece backing is green with big white polka dots, making an interesting echo from the back to the front.

Fun fact: the letter E in the NATO phonetic alphabet is Echo and its morse code is a dot.

#h2h2021 #hands2help2021

M81


M81
April 2021

While it has been quiet here on my blog for the past few months, my sewing room has been anything but quiet! I’ve been working on improving my quilting skills, which I like to do on smaller-sized items, as they are more manageable on my standard domestic sewing machine. I made four table runners, shown in the picture below. The Valentine ones were for each of my daughters, the blue one was for my youngest daughter’s birthday, and the one that looks like a serapa blanket was for me. I have also been working on a couple of larger quilts, which have been keeping my sewing days busy.

I’ve slowed down a little on making charity quilts over the past few months, as due to Covid, my local county’s Children and Family services has been closed to visitors, so dropping off my donation quilts has been a challenge. Luckily, Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict @fabricaddictquilts is currently hosting the Hands2Help Challenge, and Little Lambs Foundation for Kids @littlelambsfoundationforkids is once again one of the receiving participants, which is where this baby quilt is heading.

This scrappy quilt incorporates an orphan block from my Hoplon quilt as the center block. The Valentine table runners I made used the crumb block technique — which by the way is super fun — and since I had all my pink scraps thrown on my sewing table, I decided to just keep making pink crumb blocks, which I used for the setting triangles. I attempted doing a fish scale quilting design (free motion), and while it ended up looking more like squares with arced sides, I was happy with the end result.

#h2h2021 #hands2help2021

Quiet Start


Quiet Start

January 2021

In mid-December, my nephew surprised everyone, announcing that he and his partner of six-years were getting married in a week’s time. While it wasn’t a surprise that they are perfectly matched and would eventually marry, the actual wedding arrived sort of out of the blue. However, it was such a beautiful and memorable culmination to a year that had been to that point less than stellar, leaving me with a good memory for 2020.

The name, Quiet Start, comes from their wedding vows. While they don’t have “a song” per se, they feel that Mama Cass’s It’s Getting Better, is a fitting description of their relationship, and they incorporated the lyrics into their vows :

Once I believed that when love came to me
It would come with rockets, bells and poetry
But with me and you it just started quietly and grew
And believe it or not
Now there’s something groovy and good
Bout whatever we got
And it’s getting better
Growing stronger warm and wilder
Getting better everyday, better everyday
I don’t feel all turned on and starry eyed
I just feel a sweet contentment deep inside
Holding you at night just seems kind of natural and right
And it’s not hard to see
That it isn’t half of what it’s going to turn out to be
Cause it’s getting better
Growing stronger, warm and wilder
Getting better everyday, better everyday
And just like a flower that takes time to bloom
This love of ours is taking time to grow
And I don’t mind waitin’, don’t mind waitin’
Cause no matter how long it takes
The two of us know
That it’s getting better
Growing stronger, warm and wilder
Getting better everyday, better everyday.
~ Cass Elliot (Mama Cass)

The majority of the material used for this quilt is wool that I inherited from my nephew’s grandmother, Virgie. Year’s ago when his grandmother passed away, I had been given stacks of wool that she had planned to use in making men’s suits. Over the years, I had used some to make a couple of clothing items for myself, and when I discovered that it wasn’t crazy to use it for a quilt, I made Virgie’s Wagga Rug. Even after making clothes and a quilt, I still had a good amount of this beautiful wool sitting in my stash. So, when my nephew announced the wedding, I knew what to do with the wool – make another quilt! The design is one I borrowed from an actual rug I had seen, that I wanted to interpret into a quilt. All the greys and brown/tans are from Virgie’s stash, while the mauve-colored wool is some I purchased back in the 1980’s with the plan to make a suit for myself, a plan that just never materialized (no pun intended).

As a nod to history, I want to notate here that some of the wool was stamped Harfred Fabrics Limited. While I attempted to learn more about the company, the internet had very little information about them. In the numerous years that this wool has been in my care, I have treasured the piece pictured below, that carries their logo. I used it in the backing for Quiet Start. I feel with the gifting of this quilt, that I have officially done honor to Virgie’s ‘stack of wool’.

For more information on wool quilts, check out TheEclecticAbuela’s blog. The story and origin of Wagga Rugs is fascinating.

 

Rising Star


Rising Star

October 2020

A year ago Christmas, I received EQ8 (Electric Quilt software) that has for me, become an invaluable tool for quilting. I have a design wall – another important tool for designing quilts – but with EQ8, it is much easier to visualize what the finished quilt will look like, figure out piece sizes before cutting, and get estimates on the amount of fabric that will be needed. Since many of my quilts are made from material in my stash, it’s great to be able to determine if there will be enough before making that first cut.

My Catnip quanket is the only other Lonestar quilt I’ve made, which I had modified to leave off the star points. I haven’t done a true Lonestar quilt, however, this may still be the case since I chose to offset this one 😉  In EQ8, I chose a standard 6-row Lonestar design and then created several options based on the fabric I was planning to use. I was able to import images of the fabrics I was using, which provided a very realistic rendering of what the final quilt would look like. I used flannel for the backing, so this will be a toasty warm quilt! 

This will be gifted to my niece, who will be turning one in December. It is a bit big for her now, but she’ll grow into it! 

Mesozoic Scraps


Mesozoic Scraps
October 2020

I have made several quilts and quankets this year using mainly scraps, making me think scraps must be genetically related to rabbits, because they multiply so quickly! My gray, white and black scrap bin was still too full for the lid to sit on it properly, so I made this string quanket. I had the green fleece for the backing in my stash, so I pulled in some green scraps leftover from my recent Tiger Tracks project to add a bit of fun color for the top. I also incorporated a few fussy cut squares of dinosaur fabric leftover from my Prehistoric Pennies quanket to add a bit of whimsy.

This was donated to the County of Ventura, Children & Family Services for a child in foster care in October 2020.

Tiger Tracks


Tiger Tracks

September 2020

I enjoy experimenting with different quilt techniques and methods, and wanted to try doing an attic window quilt. When I started looking around to purchase a panel, this gorgeous creature caught my eye! However, when he got home and onto my design wall, it quickly became apparent that 1) he was too beautiful to cut up and 2) he would be alarmingly close to my attic window, if I had an attic window 🙂 Instead, I chose to use simple borders and let him be the star of this show.

For the quilting, I stitched around some of the key elements in the tiger panel, using seven different colored threads so that they blended well. While there were a lot of threads to knot and bury, the final effect was well worth the effort. For the borders, I quilted big tiger paws all around. I pieced the back (shown below), which allowed me to use standard 44″ wide fabric.

The majority of quilts I make are quankets – fleece backed tops that I tie – so I feel I’m still a bit of a newbie when it comes to the traditional method of sandwiching the top, batting and fabric back. My foray into traditional quilting began with the QAYG method (quilt as you go), quilting each individual block and then joining them. I then progressed to doing bigger quilted sections, keeping a section not much wider than 20″ since I quilt on a standard sewing machine. However, this quilt didn’t lend itself well to the QAYG method, so I quilted at the full size which is roughly 54″x60″. I hear other quilters comment how their shoulders get sore after quilting a bigger quilt on a standard sewing machine, and I certainly learned firsthand what they are talking about! I rigged up some overhead clamps to hold much of the quilt’s mass off of the sewing table, to reduce the amount of drag, which helped a lot. But, I still need to come up with a better solution for reducing the drag across the very front edge of my sewing cabinet where I’m sitting.

I gifted this to my 2-year old nephew Harry, whose reaction upon seeing it was a gasp and then a whispered, “Wow”. I think that’s one of the best compliments I’ve gotten on one of my quilts!