Friday, December 31, 2010

One More UFO Checked Off!

A few weeks ago I finished my oldest UFO and checked it off the list, and I'm pretty happy about that.  Braggy, even.  (Yup, it's a word.  I just looked it up!)  In 2001 I participated in a Block Swap with a group of online friends.  I sent a fat-eighth of background fabric to each person on the list and asked them to make any size block they wanted.  I told them I looked forward to the challenge of putting together a top with different sized blocks using interesting sashings and settings.  Innovative group that they were, I received nineteen 12" blocks and three 6" blocks.  Hmmm.  Not much opportunity for creativity in laying out those blocks.  It all got stuffed into the back of a cabinet.

I got it out last month and took another look at it.  I bordered each block with a small strip of black and made the border from the leftover background fabric.

And, talk about a pieced backing! I used up a whole lot of leftover muslin scraps (almost 50, actually) to make this backing, and I incorporated the blocks I couldn't fit onto the front.

I decided to have some fun quilting this one, so I experimented a little and did something different in each block.  

I like this quilt a lot.  I have another Christmas quilt to display during the holidays, AND I got another UFO marked off my list.  Can't complain about that!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Halloween Basket" for Christmas

Sometimes when a niece or nephew gets married I make a simple scrap comforter tied with yarn and give it to them as part of their shower gift.  Everyone loves comforters.  They come in handy for all kinds of things and last just about forever.  

Laura got one in 2002.   

Catherine got one in 2005.

As soon as Travis laid eyes on Vanessa in 2007 while they were both in the Army he decided she was "the one" and there was no need to wait, so they were married within months.  I barely had time to say, "Congratulations" much less make any gifts.  Other projects became priorities, including quilts as their babies came along, and the comforter just never got made.  

I bought Paula Hughes' pattern Over and Under because I thought I would make it "someday" out of oriental prints, but when I found out what Travis and Vanessa's favorite holiday is, I wanted to use the pattern for their quilt and all those HALLOWEEN prints I'd been saving would be perfect for it.

And a matching pillowcase for every one in the family!  

I had just the right amount of spiderweb fabric in my stash to add to the backing and make it even more fun!
        Merry Christmas to you, Travis and Vanessa!     

                  (And Happy Halloween, too!)

By the way, just so you know, sometimes they really look like this!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bloomin' Nine Patch Progress Report

Way back in July I told you about Aaron and Leah's Bloomin' Nine Patch in this post.   Since I started hand-quilting it on July 16th I have been making some serious headway and thought I would give you an update.   

I am a notorious list-maker, chart-keeper, note-taker type person.  So obviously on a project this large (the quilt is 110" x 120") I want to keep track of my progress.  It kind of becomes a game to me that way, and it keeps me motivated. (And, yes, I am extremely competitive!)  

There are 1,010 blocks in this quilt.  I knew I would NOT want to regularly count them, so the first "list" keeps track of weekly progress.  I jot down a little hash mark for each block completed and then tally them up at the end of the week.  The second "list" shows how many blocks are in each row so I can just add instead of count as I complete a row.  (And, even though adding involves the dreaded math I would rather add than count!)  The third "list" shows how many blocks need to be quilted to get to certain progress points - 1/4th, 1/3rd, etc.


I want you to know that list-makers sometimes wear themselves out before they even start their projects!

Are you ready to see how much I have done so far?  (The "so far" at the end of the sentence indicates that there is hope -- I am NOT giving up!)

I have quilted from the center working out, and I have quilted to within 15" of the edge.  Looks like a lot, doesn't it?  Well, it's NOT.  I have quilted exactly half the blocks!  Looks are deceiving for sure.  That's the problem with list-making.  I would have thought I was almost done!!

It really is pretty, though.  I am quilting around each little square in the nine-patch blocks and using a great stencil in the solid blocks.  It's called "Quilted Ball" from The Stencil Company.    A great and inexpensive place to buy stencils, by the way.   Sometimes I just buy them so my grands can trace them and then color the designs.  They love stencils!

Another fun thing about the quilting is I am using different colored threads as I move towards the outside edge, starting with pale yellow in the middle, then light orange, dark orange, red, and finally black.  I don't think it will be real obvious once it's completed, but I am NOT ripping anything out!

You may be able to see the thread changes in this photo. Maybe not.  Either way, no critiques of my work, please. My fingers are awful sore and I have to be able to think the pain is worth it!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pink Quilt

In this post I showed you a few of the of quilt backings which I have pieced from scraps.  I've already shown most of the coordinating fronts, but I have this pink quilt left to tell you about.   I started making it for my friend Tina who I see every other Thursday.  In order to be able to finish this quilt quickly after working on the top at Retreat, I made up the backing ahead of time.   In this post I had all the pieces cut out and a few blocks made.  I got the entire top assembled at Retreat and set about getting the quilting done on it last week when I was home.  A secondary pinwheel pattern showed up after putting four blocks together and sashing them, so I did a little fun quilting within the pinwheels. 

Then I did an all-over meander in the blocks, put some loops in the sashing, and stippled in the border. 

The main block in this quilt is called "Shooting Squares" and is from Marcia Hohn's site, Quilter's Cache.  If you have never checked out her site, I highly recommend it.  I can always find something I like there. 

I can hardly wait to present this one, which I have very cleverly entitled, "Thursdays."  What can I say?  I am better at creating quilts than I am at naming them. It is better than "Pink Quilt" though, isn't it?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Quilt Front.......and One More in the Works

I need to finish showing you (ahem....that especially includes you, Mimi) the quilt fronts that go with the backings I posted about here.  After all, I need to move on to something more current.  Oh, wait!  These two quilt fronts are current.  

About a year ago I was in a scrap cutting mood, cutting out all kinds of pieces for possible future quilts.  I bagged up a project called Bricks and Stepping Stones, a free project featured on   My friend Jan was headed to Florida for two months last winter, afraid she would not have enough to keep her busy, so I sent this project with her.  I tried to get her to take more of my unfinished projects, but she wasn't really that worried about having things to do!   She put the top together for me, and last week I used the blue scrappy backing and got the job done -- quilted and bound!

That leaves the pink scrappy backing.  The front of that quilt is all cut out and ready to be put together (yes, by me!) at Retreat this week.

And if Jan says anything about not having enough to do this week,  she may find all this piled up next to her machine.  I have three or four other projects I'm taking with me to work on!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Just for Mimi -- Quilt Fronts

Since Mimi accused me of teasing by only showing the backs of quilts last time, this is just for her.  Quilt Fronts!!!  Actually, I was going to show them to you eventually, I just didn't want to share everything in one long blog.  You might have become distracted and not seen it through to the end, and that would have  been awful.

First though, I have to tell you that I'm saving the quilt with the gold colored stripe across the back for another time.  No, I am not teasing.  I just want to tell you sometime about the ribbons I have won.  (Believe me, it will be a short story!)  

The blue backing I showed you was for the back of my niece Natalie's quilt.  Her quilt is a scrappy version of "Four Patch Plaid" from the book "Nickel Quilts" by Pat Speth and Charlene Thode.

The first purple backing shown in the post is the backing for my niece Carrie's quilt.  Her quilt is just something I made up on my own by alternating scrappy 16-patch blocks and white blocks with appliqued hearts.  A perfect little girl quilt.

Here's Carrie with her quilt:

The next purple backing was for my niece Emily's quilt.  It's a scrappy version of "Apron Strings" from the April 2000 issue of McCall's Quilting magazine.  By the way, this quilt has 1,820 pieces in it.  (Can you tell I was wanting to use up scraps in these three quilts?)  

Here's Emily with her quilt:

I had made each of the girls a baby quilt when they were born and a doll quilt when they were little.  When I found out that they loved their quilts so much that they were still sleeping with them, I knew that new quilts must be made, and quickly!  I made all three of these quilts in about two months.  But love them, they did!  

Since I made these quilts for the girls in 2005 here is a more recent photo of them with me, getting ready to leave for one of our fun "Niece Outings."

One more from the last blog.  The backing I made from grays and blacks was for a charity quilt I made for teenagers in foster care.  The pattern is from the book "Easy Pieces" by Margaret J. Miller.   I could just see some teenage boy, between foster families, loving this quilt of his own.

So that's it for today's installment of "Fun with Quilts."  Both backings and fronts. But, guess what?  I have a lot more nieces.........

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fun with Quilt Backings

It all started when I didn't have quite enough fabric left to make a backing for my quilt.  It was an ivory tone-on-tone and I didn't want to buy more, so I put a wide strip of gold right across the middle of the backing and called it "done!"  Not real clever, but I kind of liked it.  

The next few times I just wanted to use up scraps and not spend a lot of money on fabric for backings.  Hmmm, a little more interesting this time. 

Okay, now it's getting intriguing!  It's starting to look like a reversible quilt.  This time I played a little more with arranging the scraps.

I just finished piecing two backings for quilts I want to complete at Retreat in a few weeks.  I had fun with these.

The blue backing was another one where I just wanted to get rid of scraps.  You know...fat quarters I don't really like, fabrics people gave to me after they found a sack of material in their attic or basement and thought I could use it, pieces I picked up off the swap table at quilty get togethers even though I didn't need them....that kind of thing.

I'm really liking the pink backing.  I decided to use up some pretty small scraps on this one, and I've been wanting to try my hand at some Crumb Quilts.  It was fun.

Here's a close-up of the crumb part:

One negative to piecing a backing is that it takes a long time, usually an entire day.  So I don't do it a lot, but it is a fun way to use up scraps, make your quilt a little more original, and feel like you're being creative. 

And speaking of being creative, one day soon I'll show you the fronts of these quilts!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vicki's "Quilty R & R"

Good secretaries are to be greatly appreciated.   My Hubby has had some excellent secretaries throughout his career, the most recent being Vicki.   Seems their work relationship is ending because of some restructuring within the company so he asked me to make her a quilt to express our gratefulness.   He really likes his quilt that I made from the "Habitat" pattern and he wanted me to make a similar quilt for Vicki.   Of course, I had to use batiks, and this time I managed to use over 100 different fabrics.  (Not a great idea.  When Hubby said, "That's a LOT of batiks!" I realized I was  -- BUSTED!)  Anyway.....Here is Vicki's quilt which we call "Quilty R & R."

We gave it to her at lunch last week, and I'm pretty sure she loves it!!  

Now if she will just "light somewhere" as Hubby says and enjoy it.  She's a busy gal!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Spy Quilt -- Another UFO Bites the Dust!

I am determined to have less UFO's at the end of this year than I had at the beginning.  I started out with ten on January 1st and so far have finished four of them.  I realize I have way less unfinished projects than some quilters (just ask my friend Darlene!) but I have a few more than other quilters (just ask my friend Jan!) but I want to make some progress.  

Last week I was challenged (by my friend Shirley) to "work on something that was nagging me to be finished," so I pulled out an I-Spy quilt I started in 2008.  The top was completed and it had even been basted for a while.  It was just waiting to be quilted.  I have been collecting I-Spy fabrics for a long time.  It's not hard to collect a lot because there are so many fun novelty prints out there.

Aren't these cute?
Love the platform shoes!

The pattern I used is called "Do You See What I See?" and is from the 2003 issue of Quilt it For Kids by QNM

I didn't want anything too busy for the back so I used a heavyweight muslin and machine quilted around blocks using lime green thread and a serpentine stitch.  If Diane Gaudynski thinks lime green is a neutral then so do I!

Now, here's the fun idea!  The quilting delineates spaces on the back for the grandkids and great-nieces and nephews to create beautiful works of art with fabric markers.  Won't that be fun!?!?!? 

Since I'm talking about I-Spy quilts I thought I should show you the I-Spy I made for Aidan last year.  I did a sashing with cornerstones for this one.....

...and I incorporated some family photos on it. Then I found a really fun backing fabric.

Here is Aidan all wrapped up in his quilt when he was going through his "DON'T take my picture!!" phase. 

And here he is being his usual sweet self.

Now, I need to figure out how many quilts I have to make in order to use up all those novelty prints.  Does anyone need some I-Spy squares??