Not Quite White

Quite a few years ago, a friend said to me, “Lainey, if you ever make me a quilt, I want it to be an all-white quilt.” Because I lack any sort of internal filter, I immediately replied, “Well, it’s pretty safe to say I’m never going to make you a quilt, then.” Jerry was — and is — horrified that I said that so instantly. My friend just laughed, because she accepts me for what I am and that’s why we are friends.

Mary is slightly color-blind and doesn’t have the love for color that I do. She dresses in neutrals and black, primarily, and very excitedly reports to me whenever she buys something colorful. Her home is beautifully decorated with neutrals and black, vintage and new, and she goes to estate sales often to find beautiful things. She *loves* antiques.

The night of the fire, I was out of town. After I talked to the house sitter and Jerry and my parents, I called my friend and her husband from Nashville and got their answering machine. I left a message, telling them that I had learned that our house had been on fire and that the house sitter got all of the animals out and could Mary and her husband please go over and check on the dogs since Linus and Logic would be calmed by seeing them. Apparently, I got the answering machine because she and her husband had already heard from another neighbor that our house had burned and we were out of town — and they were already on their way over to check on the dogs. They ended up taking the dogs home with them that night, and kept them for over a week while we figured things out. And not because we asked — but because they insisted. It still makes me weep when I think of it. Our dogs are BIG and hairy and exuberant and taking Collies home to a house full of Standard Poodles couldn’t have been an easy enterprise.

So right. They are THOSE kinds of friends. The kinds of friends you hope that you could be in a disaster, and the kinds of friends you’re desperately glad to have when you’re neck-deep in a crisis that you never thought would happen to you.

So Jerry has kind of been urging me to rethink the whole White Quilt idea.

I still couldn’t do it. While I love the idea of a wholecloth quilt, I don’t want to make a white one. I do want to do one sometime, though. And cutting up white fabric just to sew it back together…. not really something I want to do.

BUT. Fabrics that are not quite white? Maybe I could do something interesting there — and appeal to Mary’s need for calm when it comes to her bedlinens. “Low Volume” (i.e. low contrast) fabrics are very on-trend in the modern quilt world right now, so I’ve been picking up LV fabrics here and there for a while now. I signed up for the Inside Voices club at Westwood Acres and have been getting 12 fat quarters of low volume fabrics per month for about 6 months now. With my stash of LV fabrics from Pink Castle, I had enough to make a quilt, maybe. So I asked Mary what size quilt she’d like to have, and she cheerfully texted back, “Queen!” Oh. A BIG one, not just a throw. Allrightythen.

And then, Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew posted her Summer Slice Tutorial on June 23. I pulled out all of my low volume fabrics that very day and started cutting them into the sizes I would need to create the quilt I wanted to make, which were slightly larger than Allison’s tutorial. But the design is very definitely hers.



I had close to 80 different LV fabrics represented. This was going to be amazing if it worked, and a spectacular waste of fabric if it didn’t.

Jerry left for Kwajalein, so I had evenings while he was gone where I’d feed the girls, and then camp in front of the TV with my cutting mat and ironing board and prep the blocks for the next step. I did use my favorite method for sewing half-square triangle units, rather than cutting the squares into triangles — this way I didn’t have to sew bias edges at all through the whole process. I figured with 120 HST units in the quilt, a few repeated combinations of fabrics wouldn’t be detrimental.




I love the pile of trimmings that accumulate when you clean up HST units. This is only about 1/3 of the trimmings, because I had to keep clearing my work surfaces to make space.



Helen and her friends Hannah and Lizzy helped lay out the blocks in a pleasing manner, and then I sewed them all together. It turned out even better than I expected, and the progress shots I sent to Mary were received with great enthusiasm. I kept calling it “Not Quite White,” which made her laugh.


In our indoor lighting, the quilt looked very yellowish, but Mary and her husband have a wall of windows on the east side of their bed so I know the quilt will get lots of natural light, especially in the mornings. The fence photos of the quilt top gave a better representation of the true colors of this quilt.



Friday helped me layer it, as always.



Then I quilted it with a simple flower filler, because it’s speedy and soft.




Once I finished the quilting, Logic (the shaved one) and Logan performed quality control. Logic is one of the dogs that Mary and her husband took home that night. Logan is new, but loves Mary too.



Not to be outdone, Friday started tunneling around on the edges of the quilt.



Jerry helped me select a nice pale gray fabric for the binding, and I got the whole quilt put together in about 4 weeks from start to finish, which is a personal record for me for a quilt of this size. It finished at about 90″x105″ which is large for a queen but Mary says it’s perfect. She and her husband came over for Champagne Friday on July 18 and we gave it to them, fresh from the dryer. I had to wash and dry it and hermetically seal it to get the cat dander off of it, since Mary is very allergic to cats.



Because it rained torrents all day on the 18th, I wasn’t able to get fence photos of the finished quilt, so I asked Mary to send one of it on the bed when she had a chance. This is the better of the two photos she sent, and she says it’s wonderful and feels so good to sleep under a quilt made with that much affection sewn into it.




And she loves that it’s “Not Quite White,” because that means that I put my stamp on it so she’ll always remember where it came from.


We have amazing friends. Truly.

Michael Miller Challenge

I participated in the Modern Quilt Guild’s Michael Miller Fabric Challenge this year. We were supplied with a stack of approximate fat eighths (9″x22″ pieces of fabrics) of a line of fabrics manufactured by Michael Miller. We had to use at least one of the fabrics in our piece, and could add any other Michael Miller prints or solids that we wanted. I added the green, white, and gray fabrics, and used every piece of the supplied fabrics that I could. I chose to test my Star Puzzle pattern (more on that soon), and see what would happen when the background fabrics were varied. Here is what the piece looked like when I was almost finished piecing the blocks. I ultimately took the green corners out and replaced them with the gray background so they couldn’t pull as much focus.



I didn’t have quite enough of one of the fabrics (my piece was smaller than a fat eighth), so I had to choose where it went in the pattern carefully so that my camouflage piecing wouldn’t be as obvious. I feel like I did a pretty good job of that.



Then I quilted it very heavily, using my current favorite background filler. It’s a combination of McTavishing, headbands, and feathers, and I found the idea originally at LuAnn Kessi‘s Pinterest board last summer. It’s fast and fun and not boring at all like some fillers can be.



I freehanded the 8-pointed flowers just paying attention to the triangles they were sitting in, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. So add that to my toolbox! Yay!



As (almost) always, I matched the top thread to the bottom thread, so the quilting is very visible (for better or for worse) on the back. This one turned out really cool, I think.




I didn’t end up winning the challenge, but I got a really funky 36″ baby quilt out of it, I think. And I got to test my pattern, so that’s great too. Now I just need to finish up the original quilt using this pattern so I can show that to you!

Finished Southwest Merry-Go-Round!

This is my first finish from my list in the Q3 Finish-Along!


In  2007, I went to the AQS show in Nashville with a friend, and found a stack of fabrics in Southwestern colors that made me happy. As I mentioned in this post, the fabrics sat for over 2 years until Jerry gave me Cozy Modern Quilts by Kim Schaefer for Christmas. I made the quilt top in 2010, and then *that* sat for 2 years.


While we were in the rental house after the fire I didn’t have a design wall — and I had a HUGE floor on which to baste big quilts — so I made a backing for it and basted it and quilted about half of it. I used three different filler patterns that I had found in Angela Walter’s first book, Then we moved back in over here and it got buried again. My style and skill level of free-motion quilting has improved a lot in two years, but I decided to just finish it anyway. The scale of my quilting has also changed and spaced to be more regular, but I guess it’s not really noticeable to anyone other than me. And the quilt is still soft and warm, and that’s the point anyway.


So now it’s done!







I’m very pleased with how it turned out. At 78″ square, it’s too large to hang up anywhere. But the colors in the quilt match the colors in our family room pretty exactly, so that’s where it will live. Hopefully it will serve us well as a sofa quilt and will sit *finished* for a lot longer than it ever sat unfinished.


The green on the back is a hand-dyed Kona cotton in the Procion color “Avocado.” I was originally going to use it for something else until I realized it was perfect for this quilt. I pieced the back because spending money on fabric two years ago when we were rebuilding our house wasn’t really prudent, and I love the effect. This may have been the first backing I pieced of different fabrics — now it’s rare for me NOT to do that.