A Baby Gift When the Recipient is No Longer A Baby

By being such a prolific piecer, I tend to create quilts that take a long time to get finished. As some of you may remember, I had a huge box full of quilt tops that I had sent off to my long arm quilter (Hi Gloria!) some time ago. She had some issues with her machine (I swear I didn’t mean to break it!) but somehow in all of that, the baby that this first quilt was intended is by far no longer a baby.

A good friend and former colleague, I had made a quilt for his first daughter and she received it promptly. So even though we no longer worked together, we kept in touchish through Facebook. And when his second daughter was born, I whipped up a baby quilt complete with her name embroidered in the center. 2015-04-30 17.54.09If memory serves, I think Maxine is probably 3, maybe 4, now. But today, I finally got it completed.

2015-04-30 17.53.57 The center blocks are hearts embroidered in various shades of orange. Well, you can see that the whole quilt is a variety of shades of orange, this is the color they had picked for the nursery. And of course, the center heart has her name.

2015-04-30 17.54.40Now I just have to just have to get the address and get it sent.  I hope better late than never. Right?

The next one I finished today is this experiment with stars. It didn’t turn out bad, but it was an experiment for me and I really am not all that happy with the result.

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So many of the star points ended up being blunted with the next block. I really need to work on my technique. 2015-04-30 17.56.19

I love the colors in this quilt and I like the way that it shows brightly with the dark background.2015-04-30 17.56.24

It is really much too small for a bed quilt and much too dark for a baby’s quilt. I don’t really know what I will do with this one. I’ll have to think about this one.2015-04-30 17.56.34

2015-04-30 17.57.58Well, that about covers today’s projects. I’ve been working on creating the supplies for another project, it is great fun to sit and punch one inch circles out of paint chip cards. Does that spark intrigue?

And speaking of, the toy horse is still being worked on, slowly but surely. 🙂

julie

Reclaiming and Restoring an Old Quilt Top

Our vacation was pure joy and absolute fun! But there is always the let down of returning home when it is all over.

But!… always so much going on and never enough time to get things done. But always enough time to get things started! LOL

A few months back, on one of our abandoned house hunting trips, I found an old quilt top. It was absolutely filthy but through the dirt, I could see the beauty and the talent and the resolve that someone had spent in hand stitching all those triangles.

2015-02-18 16.45.07There was no cheating in this quilt, this one done one triangle at a time, producing those pinwheels. Often, there wasn’t enough fabric to complete a full square. Some of the squares have faded and there are places where the fabric has split. Most of the squares are not really square, and have puckers, but I think that just adds to the charm of the quilt.

There is the remnants of a border on one side, which I am planning on removing, perhaps using some of it to replace faded triangles. I am going to use this as my hand work while watching television – in addition to my humungous cross-stitch that I am still working on. Always have to have something to work on, just can’t sit still and do nothing while watching movies.

Let me point out some of its quirks and charms. First, here is a block that needed a bit of help to fit into the triangle, and the maker didn’t match the pattern quite right:

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This block is demonstrate that our sewer was definitely short on matching material. In this block she uses 6 different fabrics:

photo 9

This block is another example. Although the sister pieces are the same, She uses four different fabrics here:photo 8

This one only has one nonmatching triangle and she did a good job with color value:photo 7

This block is an example of the fading that is evident in this quilt. I don’t know if it is sun damage or it was just time and washing… either way, it does change the color value:photo 6

Just one more example of how our quilter ‘made do’ with the materials she had. Although the color value is essentially good, there is a definite change in color:photo 5

Here is but one of many examples of the damage to the quilt. Like I said above, this entire quilt was sewn by hand, mostly with the neatest little stitches. Because I have no history of the quilt top, I don’t know if it had been used for warmth while unfinished or if he had been damaged more by animals or insects or just the ravages of time.photo 2

This was a worse example, this isn’t simply where seams were pulled apart but actually damage. Not sure how to proceed with repair of this block. It also has unmatched colors and fabrics, and there is fading damage. These are the sort of block I almost think should be replaced.photo 1But that brings me to the essential question, should blocks torn or faded be replaced? What about simply mismatched fabrics? Should they be left alone or also replaced? To what extent should fabrics be replaced if they are faded or damaged? How should damaged fabrics be repaired? I am planning to do most of the repair by hand, just to keep the look and feel the same.

And another question about repairing the quilt, with the hand sewing, the quilt doesn’t really lay flat. After washing it, I attempted to iron it as flat as possible and there is just so many puckers, I know this would be difficult to quilt. I am tempted to simply tie it, but I really want to do as much as I can to be able to make it wear well. But I don’t want to change the essentially of the quilt, instead opting for as much of its originality as I can.

So, fellow quilters, help me out. Give me suggestions or hints or ideas. How should I approach this delicate challenge. I will be sure to share my progress as I go.

julie

 

 

Binding: How Do You Do It?

I think I’ve talked about this before, but for those new, this is an old habit (?) of mine. Every now and then I get stuck and don’t seem to have any forward momentum. When this happens I do one of two things… either I clean and organize or I jump head long into finishing up long overdue projects.

Well, over the past week and a half, I have been doing some serious finishing. I vowed to not start anything new (even though I went out and bought some new triangle templates and even some fabric. Let me just tell you that I have not bought new fabric in forEVER – at least a full year. But you also know that I have a small store of my own upstairs in my quilting room. Ha.

The guest bedroom’s bed was covered with quilts that had been quilted but needed binding. And my design wall has been covered in at least two layers of orphan and test blocks.

So, almost without a break, I have been binding and finishing quilts. And finished two orphan quilt tops.

But first…. we have to talk a little about binding. I recently posted the question about binding on a DIY site called HomeTalk about preferred methods of binding (you can see it here). As a self-taught quilt maker, I never knew exactly how to approach binding. My earliest quilts were bound by using the pre-made, pre-cut, pre-packaged binding pieces. That got costly quickly.

When I started quilting, the internet was still very much in its infancy and I guarantee that no one was talking about quilts on what was out there. It was either books or other quilt makers and I didn’t really know any quilters. So, I tried some things. First, I thought if I could fold each layer in on itself and make a seam, that would work. And it did, but seemed like a lot of work. So then I went with making the back larger and folding it over to the front. That worked much better. Sometimes I thought that I had ‘invented’ it.

Recently I posted the question about the preferred or better way to bind quilts. A serious debate ensued. I left the post with my opinion that everyone is entitled to bind their quilts in whatever way suits them.

I had come to this crossroad in a kind of funny way. See, Gloria – my long time long-arm quilter – parted ways with her equipment – and she retired. Actually, I think one of my denim quilts broke her machine and she saw it as a sign to quit! But she had a friend of hers finish what I had sent.

In the process, I think it wasn’t communicated to the newest quilter that I did the fold-over binding. You see, the quilt top needs to be centered onto the backing material or there isn’t enough material to fold over. So one of the quilts didn’t have the requisite material and I thought I would give (separate) binding method a shot. Someone in the online discussion had posted a good tutorial about how to do such binding, so I jumped in and completed this quilt in just that way.

Let’s just say that I am still not a fan. I purchased pre-fold binding and attached it to the back and then hand stitched the front. It was supposed to be invisible stitches, unfortunately my skill was somewhat lacking and invisible the stitches are not.  And it seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to do the hand work and this was a small baby quilt. I couldn’t imagine working on some of the very large quilts I do… I think I could have been there for days!

Here is the baby quilt with the separate binding:DSCN3090

The backing is a solid pink and the binding is white, which I think gives it a nice contrast while still coordinating.

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And one more courtesy shot:

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Notice the last vestiges of our “blizzard” two days previous. I think we ended up getting like 3″ when they were predicting 2 – 3 feet of snow. Temps today reached into the low 50’s. And who said Mother Nature doesn’t have hot flashes!

Over the next week or so, The Kid and I will be doing some sightseeing. We are headed south (from Kansas City) and the ultimate destination is The Alamo in San Antonio Texas. I have uploaded all of my photos of the finished quilts and will post one every day while we’re traveling. I know I have been absent as of late, but I was just not feeling up to sitting behind a keyboard after being at the sewing machine most of the day. You understand, I know.

julie

Putting Final Touches on a Bunch of Quilts

Since the new year, I’ve been staying out of the garage and working in my sewing room. I am drawn to doing work in the garage, but the temperatures have been hovering just above the freezing point and kerosene heater or no, it is too damned cold to be working outside. And not just for me, but for painting and staining.

I am an avid quilter. Rather, I make a lot of the quilt tops and send them off to be quilted and then returned to me and then I bind them (the outer edge). I’ve been quilting for over almost 15 years, started just before 2000 and I am betting in the time I have made at least a five hundred (or more!) quilts. In the last couple of months, I received two big boxes of quilted tops from my friend Gloria and I’ve slowly been working through them. Doing the binding, that is.

So here’s what I finished today:

DSCN3025I’ve created some of these quilt tops months – even as long as years – ago. I have almost forgotten that I’ve done some of these. This was a work in green… not much to say about it really, just a nice fun pattern that I will give to someone who likes green.

DSCN3026This was inspired by a fun little duck print. Wouldn’t this be grand for some little one? The yellows are so cheery. And the quilting pattern is little ducks too!

Did I mention that one thing I had always loved about my friend Gloria who does the quilting, she makes most of the decisions about pattern and thread color? I like to work with her, it is a real creative collaboration. It started out with her wanting to try new patterns and me wanting to not have to choose! And it has worked out well for the last decade and a half.

DSCN3029I love bold, strong colors. As a result, I also end up with a lot of great scraps (see below). Sometimes I just like to sit and cut pieces while watching old movies on DVDs (I have the complete set of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies) and then sit and sew them together. Sometimes they turn out absolutely great and sometimes they turn out ok. Once in a great while I get a dud or two, to which those are donated to the local no-kill animal shelter for the dogs to use. That way, it gets used and the puppies probably don’t care what it looks like!

DSCN3031This is a piece that I have been working on and off for years! These are strips of white cotton are cut across the width of the fabric and six inches wide. Then the strips and scraps are sewed onto them. I had 16 strips completed, so I then sewed them together. The back is just white cotton and I am debating about whether or not to layer it and quilt it or just leave it as is. I have it hanging over the landing railing, so every time I walk down the hall, I see it. And then I think about it.

And to give credit where credit is due, here is my helper, usually hidden behind the quilts. And the one who runs up and down the stairs for sodas and makes lunch for me and who helps me move the massive amount of fabric around as I bind them. And I just love him like crazy 🙂

DSCN3032The guest bedroom bed has about another nine or ten quilts waiting to be bound. And of course I have projects that I’ve started that need to be completed. And I found another box of quilt tops that I need to send off to be quilted. But Gloria has decided to hang it all up and retire and now I have to find someone new.

This is gonna be difficult!

julie

Back To My Quilting Roots

I just seem to be all over the place these days. Work is consuming me as I have joined a new team and am learning all new technologies. I just haven’t been able to land on a single project at home, so many are this close to be completed, yet I can’t seem to wrap my brain around any one thing or get those last few details finished.

Then a box arrived in the mail. A long forgotten group of quilt tops that I had sent off many moons ago. I have this wonderful friend in Arkansas that has been quilting my tops for as long as I can remember, probably close to 15 years. I don’t even remember how we connected, but I remember that I trusted her completely to make decisions about patterns and styles and thread colors. She has experimented and I have always been over-the-moon happy with her work.

So, once I moved to Missouri and put together my wonderful sewing room, I put together quilt tops like there was no tomorrow. I suddenly found that I had more than 200 completed and it was going to be a fortune to have them quilted, even with my wonderful quilting friend. I let them accumulate for some time. I finally thought it was time, so I sorted through, found some of my favorites or ones that I promised to friends and sent them off.

I got the first few quickly but it came with a note. Gloria was having trouble with her machine and it would take some time to get someone out to her home to get it fixed. Did I want her to ship the quilts back? I told her to hang on to them and work on them when she could.

So, a week or so ago, a box appeared on my doorstep! Yay! Quilts that needed to be completed. I’ve not worked on these specific quilts for some time, in some cases years!

So, when I was struggling with completing a number of projects, I turned it all over for a chance to finish some long awaited quilts. Here are a couple…

Jeans Quilt

The first one is a just one more of a series of scrap denim quilts that I’ve been doing for a while. These are made from many different pairs of jeans, some mine and the Kid’s and from friends that thought of me when cleaning their closets. I take apart the jeans and harvest the largest squares and then down until what I can get are 2″ x 6″ pieces. That is what went into this quilt along with pockets in each corner. If you look closely, you will see a second quilt underneath the latest, the Kid has placed dibs on both. They are backed with a soft flannel, one green and the other blue. One more still to go will have red backing. They are incredibly warm and soft, from years of wear… there is no breaking in needed for these quilts.Small QuiltThis quilt is simply the left over blocks from a larger quilt. The hearts were the first real attempt that I did in doing applique, not exactly my cup of tea. But I wanted to really give it an honest shot to ensure that I wasn’t passing up something that was really going to excite me. And I realize that this isn’t going to be it. 😦

One more quilt arrived in the box that I haven’t had a chance to get finished… and I want to take my time with it. It is made with a multiple of red and white patterns and it is stunning! This will definitely be completed this weekend. I will share it with you then.

Every quilt gets a special finishing touch. I know that I should be more detailed and more informational and more creative, but for the most part, once I sew that last stitch on the binding, I want to be done. So 25 or so more stitches secures this little note in the corner on the back.

Name TagSo, a little time spent doing one of the things I love doing the most and I have given myself some time to figure out how to get organized and see a better path for the other projects that need to be completed. And I am looking forward to the next box of surprises.

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