Monday, December 21, 2015

Heirloom Quilts

My mother's mother was a prolific quilter. Up until about three months ago, I was aware of four quilts she made for my mother. Several years ago my mom gave each of us four siblings one of the quilts. Since I'm the oldest, I got first pick. So I naturally picked the double wedding ring quilt she made for my parents when they married 63 years ago. These are photos of my Grandmother: one from when she was about 16 or 17, and one from about about the time of her 50th wedding anniversary.


I mentioned to my mom that I would love to try to catalog all of the quilts her mother made for her children (eight of them) and her 41 grandchildren. It was a couple days later that my mom told me she ran across four more quilts that Grandma had made for her. Three are baby quilts with embroidered tops. One of the quilts was made for me as a baby, but it is in very bad condition. The back is in threads. I guess I must have really loved the quilt. It was fun to know about and see these baby quilts. (I'll do a separate blog post about them sometime soon.)

But the quilt that really caught my eye was a machine-pieced, hand-quilted star quilt featuring stars made from 60-degree diamonds set around a yellow hexagon.


I absolutely love this quilt. Yes, it IS machine pieced. I love the variety of fabrics. And especially the snail print in the block above. While there are a few repeats, most stars use a fabric that isn't used elsewhere in the quilt.

I decided to see how hard it would be to make the block. I started with a star from six 60-degree diamonds with a hexagon appliqued over the center. It looked fine, but clearly wasn't how my Grandmother made the block

It was interesting that after becoming aware of this quilt, I started noticing sixty-degree diamond star quilts all of the time. Jaybird Quilts is clearly the master of sixty-degree diamond quilts! I did buy her Hex and More ruler for cutting my diamonds.

Here is the classic Seven Sisters block, comprising seven sixty-degree stars set together as a hexagon. The large hexagon blocks are then set together to form the full quilt.


Close, but no hexagon center to the stars. Plus, my Grandmother's quilt is set together differently.

Then I discovered this quilt block. The stars have the hexagon centers. Getting closer, but the setting still wasn't quite right with the large hexagon at the center.

Here's a quilt set like my Grandmother's, but still no hexagon centers.

I thought I might be on to how to set the quilt together. Unfortunately, no such luck. Without the hexagon center, it can be put together just like a tumbling block quilt. (If you change the values of the diamonds, you have a tumbling block quilts. Several clever quilters have even figured out how to strip piece this quilt. But it can't be done with the hexagon centers.)

So I did some more test blocks to make sure I could machine piece the block with the hexagon center. First a star that is bigger than my Grandmother's quilt:


Successful piecing! Plus lots of practice with Y-seams. (I'd done them before, but after doing a few, I could tell that the Y-seams would go well. Just need to take my time.)

Here's a smaller version of the block (with a fussy-cut hexagon center):

I think my next step is select my fabrics, piece all of the stars, arrange them, and then figure out how to set the blocks together with the diamonds. I'm sure it will become obvious after I lay it out.

But I've already learned so much just doing the test blocks. But the number one thing I learned is that my Grandmother did not shy away from quilts that have some complexity to them. I already knew that she made several double wedding ring quilts for her children. But this one was clearly tricky and not for the beginning quilt maker. She must have liked the challenge of this quilt and felt a real sense of accomplishment when it was completed. While she used scraps, she unified the quilt with the same background fabric and center hexagon stars. Grandma, I'm impressed! And I've already told my mom she's not getting this quilt back!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Scrappy Churned Star Quilt

You might remember this block I designed that was in a recent issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. I had named it Churned Star.

And this quilt I did with the Churned Star block for their Quilts from 100 Blocks issue.

After the block appeared in the magazine, quilting teacher Dee Dalton let me know that she was using the block to teach a mystery quilt class at the Smokey Mountain Retreat earlier this year.

Here is the fabulous quilt that she created with the block.

I love the scrappier approach to the block that Dee's quilt has. And what a fabulous border and great sashing. She has a true heirloom with this quilt.

While the class was underway, a friend who is one of the Handi Quilter national educators sent me an e-mail message to let me know that she was in the class! And here's a picture of the first block she made for the quilt. I need to ping her to find out if she's had time to finish the quilt yet. (Handi Quilter keeps the educators hopping with teaching gigs nearly every week, so I don't know when she would've had time to work on it.)

It turned out so great. Makes me want to make a scrappier version of the Churned Star block myself!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Quilt Fate

So you probably know already that I work in the quilting industry. I do marketing communications for longarm quilting machine manufacturer Handi Quilter. Which means I'm surrounded by quilts. No complaints here!

Well, my boss is a collector of vintage quilt tops. But this past week she showed off her latest quilt acquisition one morning. Only it wasn't an unfinished top, it was a finished quilt. Full bed size. And it was a design I'd never seen before. (Or at least as far as I could remember.)

Here's the quilt:

Isn't it interesting? And so modern looking. Machine pieced, but hand quilted. It was acquired via an antique shop in the south, so probably made by a southern quilt maker. As we examined the fabrics, we determined that it was probably from the 20s. It has very thick batting -- probably cotton. We also surmised that the batting was probably locally sourced cotton and then pounded into the batting. The backing is flannel and was brought around the edge of the quilt to form the binding.

Clearly the maker of this quilt was very skilled. The arcs nicely matched between blocks. I made my mind up to try to draft the pattern in Electric Quilt and make it with today's fabrics. The blocks finish 12 inches and the center square was between four and four and a half inches (depending on the block I measured).

Flash forward until the end of the workday. A little background: I'm attending the Winter Quilt Fest quilt retreat in January up in Logan, Utah. I'm taking three classes, one of which will be taught by Jen Kingwell, Australian quilt designer and Moda fabric designer. Well, I decided to look up what the fabric requirements are for her class so I could start assembling my fabrics.

Well, imagine my surprise when I looked closely at the class I'm taking from Jen:

Look familiar? Yep, except that instead of a plain center square, Jen's quilt (named Halo) uses a square-in-a-square block. And it's a bit scrappier. I am totally stoked to take this class in about five weeks.

So, although I thought I'd never seen the quilt design before, turns out I have. And I don't need to go to the trouble to draft the block.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Two Quilts for Baylee

One from me (the great aunt) and one from my sister (the grandma). Who can resist wanting to shower gifts on this cutie!

When I learned that the goal was to decorate the nursery with a whale motif, I searched for whale fabric. I found some darling fabric, but the prints were fairly large. Hence, I picked a simple pattern that would show off the fabrics.

And since I quilted it before getting HQ Pro-Stitcher, I just did a meandering stipple pattern. Nothing fancy.

This past weekend my sister brought some cute whale fabric and Minkey backing and we quilted another quilt for Baylee.

And just in time for Baylee's first birthday on Saturday.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Newest Finish: Malcolm's Quilt

I finished another long-overdue baby quilt -- thanks to HQ Pro-Stitcher.

 Malcolm is now two years old, but better late than never.

I designed this quilt about a year and a half ago. Shortly thereafter Quiltmaker magazine wanted to know if I'd done a quilt using the Churned Star block that I'd submitted for their 100 Blocks special issue. I decided to submit this design at the same time and they decided to include it in a later issue of the magazine. Here's the blog post about that quilt and here's that version of the quilt:

Malcolm's quilt uses the fabric line Comma by Zen Chic for Moda.

I quilted it with the design Broken Glass from Wasatch Quilting.

It's a great boy's quilt design. A digital version of the quilt pattern is available from Quiltmaker Magazine.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Another Forgotten Quilt Top Finally Quilted

I finished this quilt top seven years ago. And now it is finally quilted.

I bought it as a kit in November 2008, the only time I've been to the International Quilt Festival in Houston. And I don't even like the color purple. I think I was attracted to the two background fabrics and how they both blended and contrasted with each other. I finished the top sometime in 2009.

So I needed a quilt I wasn't especially attached to to use as one of my HQ Pro-Stitcher practice quilts. This was my second go at edge-to-edge quilting. Luckily I only made one mistake -- and it isn't very obvious. (The thread broke and when I got it all fixed and started up again, I didn't pick quite the right spot. The machine quilted over a portion of the design and while it was only about a needle's width away, if you look close you can see it -- especially since it was in the border and more visible.)

Here are a couple views of the back so you can see the Ribbons design by Wasatch Quilting that I used with HQ Pro-Stitcher.

I'll be giving this quilt to my niece-in-law. She loves purples and lavenders. She and my nephew just had their third baby, Zeke. But this obviously isn't right for a baby boy. But I never finished a quilt for her second daughter, Rowan. I'll give this to her to use as she wants with her two daughters. I did make a baby quilt for baby #1, Penelope. You can see that quilt in this post. But since Penny is now in a big-girl bed, this quilt will work on that bed.

Now back to finishing more quilts! Only 33 quilt tops to go! (Yes, I really have that many tops done and waiting to be quilted.)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Emily and Jaren's Wedding Quilt

And only more than two years after the wedding.

I had one ready to quilt, only to have the bride's mother tell me that it wasn't Emily's style.

Then I made another top, only to decide I wanted it for myself.

Then I made another top. While it was laid out on my living room couch, I realized it was the first quilt I'd made that actually matched my living room. Yep, I'm keeping that one too.

But I finally picked out a quilt for them. I think it's modern enough for a couple of successful post-millennials (or Generation Z).

Uses batik fabrics, rather than something traditional. It's an original design so no one else will have one just like it. The quilt is one from my book, Triple-Play Scrap Quilting.

They seemed to like it. (I took photos of them with the quilt on Thanksgiving Day, but I can't find them on my phone or my iPad. Not sure what happened.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Micro Quilting on a Small Quilt

Sometimes it's fun to work on a small quilt. Even though the pieces and blocks are small, I can usually finish a small quilt in only a few hours.

Add to this the fact that I love absolutely everything that Kim Diehl does, I have made several of her Simple Whatnots small quilts. And I can now say that I've finally quilted one of them.

And here's a close-up photo of the quilting. Yes, it is stippling. Or rather, micro stippling. And, yes, I like the look of stippling. (I think it's underrated.)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Kaffe Shot Cottons + Wool Batting = COZY!

I loved this quilt the first time I ran across it on Pinterest. I was lucky enough to find a kit from a online fabric shop so I didn't have to track down the shot cotton striped fabrics. Here it is before it was quilted.

And who doesn't love a log cabin quilt?

This was originally going to be for a newlywed niece when I first made the top, but I so loved the quilt and decided it had my name on it instead of hers. Plus it's not very big -- about 60 inches by 60 inches, so really not big enough for a wedding quilt. (But no worries, I finally gave Emily and Jaren their quilt on Thanksgiving and will share it in another post.)

I finally quilted the Kaffe log cabin quilt a few weeks ago. This quilt was my first one in which I used wool batting. Wow, I love how the quilt drapes with the wool batting. It was also only the fourth quilt I did with HQ Pro-Stitcher without the watchful eye of one of the Handi Quilter educators.

I've learned that it is an art to pick a digital quilting motif that complements the quilt design -- a motif that truly makes the quilt and doesn't detract from it. And I really feel that the design I chose works so well with this quilt. It's also a great example of pairing a curvy quilting motif with an angular, geometric quilt.

Of course, with the solid fabric on the back, you can appreciate the quilting motif much better. The design is one of the 1000 designs included with HQ Pro-Stitcher. It was designed by one of the HQ employees, Cathie Zimmerman. I'm sure I'll use the design again on a future quilt because it has good movement, is simple, yet very effective.

I used a neutral gray color 30-weight cotton thread that worked equally well on the front and back of the quilt.

Not that I needed another quilt for myself, but this is truly one of my all-time favorites.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Taking Inventory

So, do you know how many quilts you've finished? What about how many tops are waiting to be quilted? Or even how many projects (UFOs, WIPs, PIGs, etc.) are in progress? Now add in the kits and BOMs that you are hoping to get to one of these days.

Well, over the weekend I updated my inventory and now know why my sewing room is in total disarray! Here are the stats:

Finished quilts: 88 finished quilts, 27 of which were for my book Triple-Play Scrap Quilts, many were gifts to family and friends over the years, but sadly many are in piles throughout my house.

Unquilted tops: 33. This number is actually down by five over the past two weeks as I've quilted five tops since I now have HQ Pro-Stitcher added to my HQ Avante.

Kits and BOMs: 41. Now this was a shocker! My sister just started quilting. Maybe I need to share some with her.

And finally the WIPs (works in progress), UFOs (unfinished objects), and PIGs (projects in grocery bags): 20! In my defense, four of the 20 have all of the blocks done. I need only sew them together.

Now, add to this my fabric stash and I could probably make more than 150 quilts from what's in my sewing room. YIKES!

But the good news is that I am continually making progress --  whether's it's working on the underway projects or getting quilts finished. I even gave away a quilt on Saturday. A very belated baby quilt. The baby is now 2 years old.

The quilt photo above shows a close-up the quilt made with Hello Luscious by Basic Gray for Moda. I quilted it using a digital circles design by Nancy Haacke of Wasatch Quilting. I had a cone of Aurifil veriegated thread that they so generously donated to all of the attendees at Handi Quilter's Academy a couple years ago. The cone itself was kind of ho-hum. But it was fabulous when quilted! And it went so well with the fabric.

Two-year-old Piper didn't quite know what was going on, but her older sister Hadley is always ready to pose for the camera.

Here's another pic of the quilt:

The other finishes are being bound (thanks Mom!). I'll share them as I get them back from her.

I'm on a roll. Hoping to finish several more over the next few weeks.



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