Monday, October 27, 2014

Winn's Baby Quilt

Recently, I was commissioned to create a baby quilt for the newborn son of an avid fisherman.  The client asked that the baby's name be embroidered on the quilt and selected the fishing bear applique. She left the rest up to me.  I LOVE it when that happens!

Color selection came first.  Lately, while perusing Pinterest for nursery ideas (I have another grandson on the way!), I've noticed gray being used in nurseries.  It's a great departure from the traditional pinks and blues, in my opinion!

With the fishing theme in mind, aqua blue seemed the natural choice for a secondary color.  I'm in love with the combination of colors!

This quilt began with strips of varying widths ranging from about 3" to about 7".  No pattern here...  if you follow my blog, you know I rarely use a pattern.  Too many rules!

Next, the appliques were added: the bear, the baby's name on an oval patch, and two trout. That bear is so cute!

Then came my favorite part, the quilting!  I used my midarm quilter for the free motion quilting, which included some wavy lines to resemble water and pebbling to resemble, well, pebbles in the water.  I also quilted the outlines of several trout "swimming" across the quilt. 

The quilt is backed in the aqua and white crosshatch fabric and bound with one of the gray prints.  

Making it was tons of fun!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Welcome to Heaven!

One of my latest creations... inspired by one of my mom's paintings....

Honestly, I cannot take credit for this alone...  the painting (on the left) that inspired the mini-quilt was done by my mother, Coy Lou Ryan.  My sister, Christie, and I discovered it while cleaning out her things after she passed away.  Neither of us had ever seen the painting.

A little history...

Our mother battled cancer off and on for about 27 years, beginning with breast cancer.  She was one of the most creative, glass-half-full, deeply spiritual people I've ever known.  Her positive outlook and her faith were, I am certain, what kept her alive all those years.  She was beautiful inside and out, and brought joy to everyone she encountered.  Here she is with one of the many Santas she created.

So back to the painting and the quilt...

Since we didn't get to talk with Mom about the painting, we are left to speculate about its meaning and her thinking as she painted it.  Daddy didn't remember the painting or ever hearing her talk about it.  Christie and I believe it is a depiction of Mom in heaven. We think she is the woman, welcoming someone new, who is being escorted by the angel at the bottom of the painting.  Note the city of gold in the upper right corner and the lion and the lamb below the city.  In the sky, you can see angels flying...

Both my sister and I really liked the painting, and each of us would have liked to have the painting in our home.  So I decided to make a replica in a quilted wall hanging.

We made photocopies of the painting (in sections) and then pieced them together to have a same-size reproduction.  We cut the copy into pieces and traced the pieces onto fabric, fusing the fabrics in place on our background fabric.  Christie did most of the tracing and cutting while I did the sewing.  This took HOURS!!!  It was great sister time.  All told, we spent about 18-20 hours over the course of a day and a half on the quilt.

The plan is that we will take turns trading out the painting and the quilt in our homes...  we each like both so much that we decided that was the fairest solution.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gray and Yellow Bricks

Gray and Yellow Brick Quilt

My second retirement is giving me lots more time to quilt, and I'm loving it!  This one makes two finishes within 10 days. 

The idea for this quilt was not my own but was inspired by another quilting blogger, Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation (  Kelly made hers (shown below) with gorgeous Amy Butler prints.  She calls it "Loud and UnRuly."  I LOVE it!

Kelly wrote last week that she plans to create a pattern; I couldn't wait!

So I started plundering through my scraps and found the most wonderful prints in gray and yellow...  (My apologies; most of the scraps came from a purchase of scraps online a few years ago; I remember not from whence they came!)

So here's my unquilted top...  Aren't you proud of me???  I finally remembered to take some "in progress" photos!  I still forgot to take any of the cutting process, but I'm getting better!  I cut 4" squares, 4" by 8" rectangles and 4" by 12" rectangles.  All multiples of 4, so it should come together correctly, right????  More about this in lessons learned....

For the quilting, I decided to do concentric circles, beginning with the square with the horse...  a little above and to the right of the center of the quilt.  That's the only scrap of that fabric I had, so I fussy-cut it.  Since I love it so, I made it the focus...

Here's the finished quilt.  I'm calling mine Gray and Yellow Bricks,,,  

And a close-up...

And one with the backing and binding...

I used my walking foot to quilt this one on my domestic sewing machine.  Once I stitched the first circle around the horse, I simply used the walking foot to evenly space (sort of) each larger and larger circle.  As the circles got bigger, they went off the side of the quilt, which adds interest, I think.

The backing is a gray print from JoAnn fabrics; the binding is a tiny yellow polka dot, also from JoAnn's.  The quilt finished at 39" by 48."  That was not really planned; it's just what I had when the scraps ran out.  But it is a good size for a baby!  Serendipity at its best!

So what did I learn with this quilt???  Remember when I talked about cutting the pieces?  Well, I failed to consider seam allowances when I cut....  so I did LOTS of trimming so seams would match up...  This probably added several hours to my piecing time... and more importantly, tons of aggravation!  One of these days, I will learn to use the quilt designing software I purchased.  It would have told me exactly which measurements to use in order to achieve the results I wanted.  

Maybe next time...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Floating Hexie Quilt

There are a couple very special young ladies expecting babies soon, so I've been trying to get a head start on quilts for their little bundles of joy.  Neither expectant mother plans to use "traditional" baby colors, so I've really had fun trying different color combinations...  some I'd never dream up on my own!

This one is not my original design; it is from a pattern book called Modern Baby, by Martingale.  It is called "Fractured Hexagons" in the book.

I call mine "Floating Hexies."  

I wish I'd taken some in-process photos; must learn to remember to do that in the future!  

The background part went together very quickly; it was just width of fabric strips of Kona solids sewn horizontally, then "fractured" to get the jagged appearance.  Instructions in the book for doing this were very clear and concise.

For the hexagons, I used a charm pack of organic little prints. I swear I thought I kept the package so I could remember the name, but it appears the black hole in my sewing room has engulfed said package...
I made the hexies a little differently than suggested by the author.  I lined them with very lightweight fusible interfacing.  That allowed me to tack each one down with an iron before topstitching/applique-ing each to the background fabric.  I learned this technique when making circle appliques for the first Lulu Quilt.

The quilting is a simple meader/stipple using gray Aurifil thread.  

For the backing, I used a neat print found at JoAnn fabrics; gray with teal.  The binding is a contrasting antique gold with metallic microdots.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this little quilt.  I do want to figure out what I did wrong with the binding; it is a little ripple-y...  (see first photo)  If you have suggestions, please post!

What did I learn this time???  That hexies aren't quite as daunting as I thought they'd be...  but I sure would hate to have done all of them by hand by English paper piecing, which was one of the methods suggested in the book.  Guess I'm just not a purist...  I'm more from the "Get 'Er Done" school of thought!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Special Baby Quilt

A dear friend is expecting her first grandchild any day now.  I wanted to make a quilt for the baby, but wanted to use up some of my scraps.  I found plenty in my chosen colors of gray pink and turquoise.  

Not being one to follow a pattern, I just jumped in and started making little nine patch blocks from 2 1/2 inch squares.  To bring some unity to the blocks, I used a white square in the center of each.  I pieced the blocks with more white Kona sashing, adding a wide strip on which I'd embroidered (by machine) the baby's name. 

 Here's the finished product.

I wish I'd taken some closeups, because the quilting is hard to see...  I quilted pebbles using white Aurifil everywhere you see white.  The rest was left unquilted.  The quilt is bound in a tiny gray chevron and backed with a pink print. 

I also forgot to take a picture of the back, and now the quilt is no longer with me!  I will confess, however, that I wasn't nearly as happy with the appearance of the back as I was with the front.  In my attempt to add lots of texture, I quilted around each pebble 3-4 times.  It looks a little messy on the back.

What did I learn with this quilt?  First, pebbling is VERY time- and thread-consuming!  Next,  I still have lots of work to do on accurate piecing.  (But thankfully, the heavy quilting hides a multitude of sins!)  I learned it might be a good idea to match bobbin thread to backing fabric when doing heavy quilting like pebbling.  Lastly, I learned that I LOVE PEBBLING!!!  Can't wait to do more!

Scripture and Cross Quilt

It's been a long while since I posted; time to get back in the swing of things!

For the past year, I've been serving as our church's children's ministry program director.  At the end of our church's Sunday School year, I wanted to do something for our children's Sunday School teachers.  I made these quilts and presented them at our Promotion Sunday program.  Here are two of the three...  the 3rd photo was very blurry so is not included.

Soon after, one of the teachers commissioned me to make similar quilts for her three granddaughters.  I've been playing around with quilting words into my quilts, so I offered to include a favorite scripture.  

Here's the first finished commission.  The quilting is a little hard to see, but it's Jeremiah 29:11.  The lettering is about 4 inches tall.  

Here's a closer view of the quilting and one showing the binding and backing.  I'm in LOVE with striped bindings these days!

The grandmother was thrilled with the finished product; I am too!  Now I'm waiting for her to select scriptures for the other two commissions....

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Big Star Quilt

Last weekend, my dear high school friend JoAnn and I drove to Sew Blessed in Hahira, GA for a quilting class.  The two-hour drive was worth it; we each came away with a 25" star block.  An added bonus was getting to spend an entire day with JoAnn, talking sewing and quilting ALL DAY!

My block was done in shades of aqua, coral and red.  I LOVE it!  So much so, that I had a hard time donating it to be placed in a silent auction to benefit for Books for Sumter.   But a promise is a promise... and this baby quilt was the only one I could finish in time for last night's benefit!

Since the block was only 25" square, I added three borders to get it up to a baby quilt size, in this case 42" square.  I simply MUST start writing down names and makers of fabrics I purchase!  I have no idea where I got any of them, and no idea of the fabric lines from which they came.  None of them were purchased at the same time; they just happened to get stacked together in my stash cubes because of similar colors.  But man, am I pleased with how they look together!

The star itself was quilted in the ditch.  Then, I had the BEST TIME quilting the white Kona background with my walking foot!  I absolutely LOVE quilting with contrasting thread on solids!

It's really hard to see, but the three borders were quilted with the same aqua thread, with a meander/stipple, about an inch apart.  I used my midarm for that part.  Don't you just love the little bird print on the outer border???  I think it's just the right contrast to the floral print used in the middle border and binding.

The back is that same darling aqua and coral polka dot from the inner border.  I love that fabric so much that it was hard for me to cut into it!  But it's been in my stash for at least three years...  and I still have some left!

I sure hope this quilt brought in big bucks at the benefit, because I already miss it!

Lessons learned while making this quilt???  First, to trust my instincts when putting fabrics together for a quilt.  Even though I'm pretty sure each came from a different line, they really look great together (I think)!  Next, I tried out a machine binding tutorial from Pinterest... and it came out great!  I've been a bit of a purist when it comes to binding (must be hand stitched), but for a quilt that's going to get lots of use and washing, the machine binding makes sense.  Last lesson???  Don't make promises you may not want to keep!  I want this quilt baaack!

Monday, January 20, 2014

My First Batik Quilt

This Bali Pop precut has been in my stash for two years or more, just waiting to become a quilt...  I was scared to do anything with it because I'd never worked with batiks and I didn't know where to begin to select fabrics for borders, sashing and backing.  But finally I just dove in!

My initial plan was to do a jelly roll race quilt, but I chickened out, afraid it would be too "blah."  So then I started sewing strip sets of four, and then cut the strip sets into squares.  I got really brave with end pieces of the strip sets and made 16-patches.  (That's probably a little misleading; the blocks had 16 pieces in each, but they were far from square!)

Through lots of trial and error, I ended up with 8 blocks (each with 3 strip squares and one 16 patch), about 17" square.  You'll see that I set 5 of them on point and cut two more diagonally.  To finish out the center of square top, I cut the last block into four sections, again on the diagonal.  I used a green batik for sashing.  (Thank you, Linda at Sew Much Fun in Columbus, GA for your help selecting the fabrics!) Next came a border of gold batik.

There were still LOTS of very small scraps I couldn't bear to discard, so I paper-pieced them onto 2" wide adding machine tape to make another border.  That was really fun, and didn't take nearly as long as I imagined.  And I LOVE what it added to the quilt!  I finished off the top with an outer border of the green batik from the sashing.

This quilt has been quilted TWICE.  That's right; twice!   The first time I quilted it, I just wasn't happy with it; stitches were irregular in length and I had "eyelashes" where I took curves too quickly.  Of course, I didn't figure this out until it was finished...  I was so disappointed that I put it away, only to drag it back out this week.  I spent two days picking out the initial quilting. 

I'm happy to say that I'm quite pleased with my second attempt at quilting it, this time with a loose meander of Aurifil quilting thread in a lovely rust color.  Both solid borders have a "swirl" design quilted; I left the pieced border unquilted.  The binding is the same gold batik of the inner border.

In this photo you get a glimpse of the batik back, a beautiful multicolor of golds and greens and rusts.  I LOVE this fabric!  In fact, I have enough left to make myself a little unlined jacket!

So what did I learn from making this quilt???   LOTS!  First, if I'd ever actually use a pattern, I wouldn't spend so much time with trial and error.  Second, I have lots of work to do to come closer to a consistent 1/4" seam allowance.  This became quite evident in the so-called 16-patches.  Third, I LOVE batiks!!!  It was so crisp to sew on, and pressed just beautifully.  Best of all, there's no "wrong" side to batik, which was a blessing and ONE way I couldn't mess up!  The only downside to the batik is that the fabric is pretty pricey.  Counting the Bali Pop precut and the fabrics for borders, sashing, binding a backing, I have about $150 in fabric for this 66" square lap quilt.  And this one is actually MINE!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sew Cute Tuesday

So this morning I'm reading through my posts from Bloglovin' and see the one from Blossom Hearts Quilts...  She invited us to share anything we've sewn in the past week. 

It's actually been a little longer than a week since I made bedding for Baby Jack, but since he's just been born, I just HAD to share it!  (I'm claiming Smitten Grandmother Syndrome if anyone objects!)

I made the crib sheets, bumpers, pillows, bedskirt and valance for Jack's nursery. 

My daughter in law made that darling mobile herself after seeing a similar one for $95 online. She purchased a $5 used mobile at a consignment sale and made her own felt animals to coordinate with the bedding.  All told, she has less than $10 in the mobile.  (She's all about saving a buck!)

I also made the quilt for Jack's room and posted about it earlier...  here's the link to that post.  And here's the quilt.  It turned out so heavy that we decided to hang it on the wall for now; it might crush Baby Jack!

Thanks, Blossom Heart Quilts for hosting!  This is my first attempt at a link-up; sure hope I did it right!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Quilt for Susan

Here's another charm square quilt; this was for my wonderful sister-in-law, Susan.  It's a late Christmas gift.  While it looks Christmas-y, it's really not... she just happens to use these colors in her greatroom.

The 81 charm squares were from three different packs.  They weren't coordinating or matching packs; the colors just worked well together.  The three borders are Susan Winget fabrics, again not from the same lines as the charm packs, but working well together.

I did my first "orange peel" quilting on the squares themselves and quilted swirls on the gold border.

I tried my hand at quilting feathers for the first time on the outer border.  I followed a great tutorial from Natalia Bonner's book Beginner's Guide to Free-Motion Quilting.  I purposely used a variegated thread that blended in well with the green fabric.  My mama didn't raise a dummy; I knew I should camouflage my first efforts with the feathers!  Actually, though, I think they turned out pretty well for my first attempt.  (oh, and the tute for the orange peel came from the same book, but she called it Double Arcs.)

It will be really hard to give this one away; I have the same colors in my greatroom!

A Charm Square Quilt for Weston

Our great nephew, Weston, is five and is really into making things... so I thought this construction-themed charm pack would make a great little nap quilt for him.

To make the charm pack go further, I added rows of 5" black Kona between each row of charm squares. 

I quilted diagonal lines in red across each row to create a grid.

I LOVE pieced backs!  In this case, it was out of necessity; I had to "make do" with what was in my stash...  it was late at night and I wasn't going out!  The back is cobalt Kona and a candy stripe red and white.  The binding is black and white chevron; I really like how it turned out!

Catching up

It's been AGES since I've posted!  With the holidays and the birth of our first grandchild, blogging has been low on my list of priorities.  Now, though, things are settling back into a normal rhythm, whatever that is...

Here's the last tshirt quilt I finished just before Christmas.  It was a commission by my friend Donna, for her son Greg.  It is by far the biggest tshirt quilt I've done, measuring a whopping 100"x90" (nearly king size!)  I had to take it down to our church to baste it; there's not that much empty floor space in my house.

Greg's shirts came from his high school and college days.  My favorite block is on the far right column, third one down.  Several shirts only had pocket logos, so I appliqued eight of them onto one of the shirt backs. 


I used a tiny gray chevron for sashing and a coordinating geometric print for the back.  It is quilted in a large meander with a charcoal gray cotton thread.