Thanks to Katie — Finished!

Finished my Economy Blockalong quilt last week also!

This one was made as part of the Instagram #economyblockalong project, and I had a lot of fun sizing it down to make a dent in my batik charms stash.

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I quilted it with orange Aurifil thread (color #2245) in a spiky swirl pattern. Extra blocks were inserted on the back to make the scrap of Ikea fabric large enough, and I love how that turned out.

We are giving it to a friend of ours as a thank you for all of the uniform hand-me-downs that she has passed to us since our girls have been at their school. I wanted to do something tangible to say thank you, so I sent Jerry with photos of quilts and Katie and her daughters picked their favorite. As soon as I get the label on this one, they can have it.

Zinnias — Finished!

Even though this is the third quilt I’ve finished this quarter, it’s only the first one that was on my original Q2 Finish-Along list

I made this background probably in 2007 because I wondered if the idea would work. It did, but it was a pain — the entire background is constructed with partial seams, which is tedious. And then the light green zigzag was so powerful that it was too strong to be used as a background.



And then I decided to make some monster flowers and see how they’d do on the background.


I made the flowers to see what would happen if I made a Dresden with too many wedges. Each of these flowers has around 32 wedges per layer, as opposed to the usual 20 wedges. So they are forced out of two dimensions, which is what I needed to do for the 2014 Heritage Quilters of Huntsville challenge.

Once I made all of the wedges, I had to figure out how to get the extra wedges to distribute evenly, and I called on an old skill to do it — SMOCKING!



I used the standard scaffolding Stem Stitch to get the petals to fan evenly around the centers, and it worked beautifully!

Once they were on the background it looked even better than I had anticipated.

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I covered the centers of each double-layered flower with an upside-down yo-yo and appliqued those down. Each flower is attached to the background at every Dresden seam for the bottom layer, so usually around unique attachment points. I tied off each attachment point separately so that the flowers will be more secure. The top layer is attached at every other seam, so that they’d have a little more fluidity. Leaves are a little less secured but because they don’t have as many pieces and aren’t as heavy, I decided that was OK.

The leaves were painted with white Paintstiks so that they’d show up a bit more. If I had it to do over I’d probably do the leaves in citron or something that would show up better on the background, but I was also trying to make this entirely from fabrics already in my possession and I didn’t have anything that would work for that.

The challenge show was June 19, and my quilt ended up getting one of the top three prizes! I won “Best Use of 3D Elements” as voted by the viewers, which pleases me greatly!


(thanks to Vickey H. for the above photo)

I’m pleased with how it turned out, and it has already sold to my friend Jill. It’s like I made it for her master bedroom. I’ll ship it to her this week and can’t wait to see pictures of it in place.

Memory Quilt for a New Baby

A friend contacted me during the spring to ask if I’d be willing to make a baby quilt. Because of my Lenten promise not to start new projects and because of the House Divided quilt I knew I’d have to make between April 20 and May 23, I wasn’t sure I had time. The friend said she wasn’t looking for complexity as much as she was looking for simple squares made out of meaningful fabrics, so I agreed to try.

The friend’s nephew and his wife were expecting a baby in June (the baby is here safely and everyone is doing well), and they wanted to have a baby quilt made with the fabric from a favorite shirt of the baby’s grandmother, who had passed away. The child is named for the grandmother, which makes it even more special. I was also asked to include silk from one of the bridesmaid dresses from the wedding (that my friend washed and dried to make sure it would stand up to such abuse before making the request), as well as fabric from a shawl that was carried in the wedding.

I used the arms of the shirt first, so that the grandmother’s arms would be wrapped around the baby. Then the fronts of the shirt, then the shoulders, and then the back. There’s about a 12″ square of fabric left of the shirt that can be used for a future quilt if they want another one. There are two dark squares in the quilt that were the fabric under the front pockets of the shirt. The patch that would have been over the grandmother’s heart is on the edge of the quilt, so that they could monogram the baby’s name into it if they wanted to.

I quilted flowers into it because of the grandmother’s love for gardening, since the denim shirt was her gardening shirt.


Working with denim, silk, and satin damask proved to be an interesting challenge. The quilting cottons were a good stabilizer and helped keep the quilt square as I finished it.

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I was going to add brighter fabrics, but found that the competed with the shirt and the silks, so I chose instead to go a more subtle route. The final result was very good, I think.

My friend said that when she delivered the quilt to the new parents and shared the order in which I made it and that I made the quilt top on Mother’s Day, there was not a dry eye in the room.

I’m really glad I got to be part of this important project.

House Divided Quilt

This is the 6th finish of 2014! Go me!

One of the members of the math department where I teach is a rabid Alabama fan. He married a rabid Auburn fan yesterday. Our department decided that a “House Divided” quilt would be a fun gift for him, so I decided to do a simple giant chevron. I designed it in TouchDraw on the iPad first, and figured out how many squares of each color I would need.


Then my coworkers drew the diagonal sewing lines on the squares for me (because I HATE that part of doing half-square triangle units), and I sewed and cut the triangles. Here’s the stack of all of them before pressing and trimming.


Once they were all pressed and trimmed, the quilt top went together very fast.


As always, Friday “helped” with quality control.


The completed top was too big to lay out on my floor, but I tried.


I chose to quilt it simply in a spiky swirl pattern with white thread, just to give it some softness and keep it from being too angular.

I raced to finish the quilt in time to give it to Henry and Alta at Baccalaureate in May since all of our department would be there and we wouldn’t all be in town for the wedding. This meant I had to wash and dry the quilt — and deliver it while it was still warm from the dryer — since Alta is allergic to cats and Friday had “helped” so much.

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The backing fabric was a PERFECT match to the colors in polka dots — I’m not sure if Riley Blake has roots in the South, but this particular color combination is a very Auburn/Alabama one. I was very excited when I saw it.

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The binding was houndstooth, as a nod to Henry since he’s the member of our department.


This is a rushed and blurry shot of the quilt after being washed when it got all crinkly and delicious, as quilts do.


And here are the bride and groom with the quilt. They were completely amazed and had no inkling that we were going to give them something like this. Their reaction was perfect and made all of the effort absolutely worthwhile.