Monthly Archives: September 2011

Project 2011-11: Grandma’s Wedding Quilt 1

This is a wedding quilt for one of my mother’s grandchildren.  She made the top and I did the quilting and binding.

Grandma's Wedding Quilt # 1 - Scrappy Nine Patch

My mother is a prolific quilter and has made all of her grandchildren quilts in the past, but now she is  concentrating on cleaning out her stash and makes mostly
charity quilts.  A few years ago, I suggested to my mother that she make make wedding quilts for the grandchildren, even though there are no weddings in sight. I offered to quilt the tops on my long arm and then the quilts could be set aside for whenever the weddings occur. That could be a few years in the future, as the youngest grandchild is only 12. She promptly made a stack of tops and sent them to me. At the time, I was exceedingly busy at work and caring for an ill sibling, so the tops got set on the proverbial pile of flimsies. Two years later, now semi-retired, I am finally getting around to quilting them.

Perhaps I have been lulled into procrastination by the fact that there are still
no weddings in sight. Only one of the eleven grandchildren has a steady beau.

However, I suddenly realized that even if there are no imminent nuptials, my
mother still needs to see these quilts finished during her lifetime. She is 94
years old. She is amazing and we all think she will live forever, but maybe I
shouldn’t count on that. I had better get them done, just in case she is mortal
like the rest of us.

So here is the first one done. I quilted it freehand with an overall feather
meander.  It is approximately 60″ by 85″, judging by the photo where it just covers the top of a queen sized bed.

Take home lesson: Do it now!  Time doesn’t stop just because I am busy.

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Project 2011-10: English Teacher Quilt

English Teacher Signature Quilt

This quilt was a project begun by my daughter in 2002 when her Grade 11 English teacher was confined by her doctor to bed rest during a high-risk pregnancy.
With great urgency, we made hearts backed with fusing and students in the class wrote messages of encouragement to their beloved teacher.
Unfortunately, the teacher lost the baby before the quilt could be completed.    My daughter was exceedingly distraught and insisted that all work on the quilt stop.   I did as my daughter asked, stopping all work, but over the years I always felt wistful that such wonderful messages of encouragement would never be read by the teacher.
By 2006, when my daughter was 20, I assembled the quilt top and showed it to my daughter.  She said she liked it, but insisted that it would be too painful to give it to the teacher.
In 2011,  I decided to quilt the top and bind it, hoping that at age 25, my daughter would be able to see beyond the personal tragedy to the warmth and encouragement that emanate from the messages in the quilt.  None of the messages mentions the baby or pregnancy.  Instead, they focus on how much fun the students had in her English class and how they will miss her.  My daughter  is not quite ready to agree that the quilt should be gifted to the teacher.  It appears that she is pondering, weighing the pros and cons.    I feel strongly that this must be my daughters decision to gift it and I am hopeful that someday she will understand the powerful impact this comfort quilt could have for her former teacher.

Don’t we all want to know we are loved and appreciated?  Despite never having met the teacher nor having any personal experience with losing a baby,  my emotions well up I read the messages, knowing that a part of her heart will always bear the wound of this lost child.  Perhaps knowing that the class she was forced to leave cared enough to make a quilt would help soothe her soul.   What do you think?

Here is one of the blocks that makes me chuckle.  Wouldn’t an English teacher enjoy this one:

And just love to see these:

Project 2011-9: Princess Maggie

There were so many blocks remaining after I finished Your Majesty Blues, that I was able to make a lap quilt.  I think of the extra quilts, table runners and toppers that result from the left-over blocks as children of the original quilt.  So given the children of Your Majesty, the Queen Mother, were Elizabeth and Margaret, I had to name this one Princess Maggie.
Blue Scrap Quilt

Princess Maggie

Even though the quilt is a child of the original, it still has to have its own personality.  I strive to make it as different as possible so it is not immediately obvious it is the same pattern.   Here is the same Stashbuster block sashed with a red and blue stripe and with cornerstones of red star fabric.  The inside border has blue circles and the outside border has navy stripes.  It has a fun personality and makes a great lap quilt.

By the end of this quilt, I wanted no more left-over blocks.  Enough is enough!  So the three remaining blocks were pieced into the back of the quilt.  I like a bit of a surprise in a quilt.  The quilt was quilted with a feather meander which gave a nice contrast to the angular design.

Orphan Blocks in Pieced Back of Princess Maggie

The finished quilt goes into my wedding stash for a future bride to select as a gift.

Project 2011-8: Your Majesty Blues

This quilt was started in a effort to make a dint in my many blue fabrics.  I love blue and gravitate to the blues in any remnant bin, clearance rack and special sale shelf.  Typically, I come home with blues even when I specifically went to get another colour.  I do love blue.  I do, I do.

Blue Stashbusting Quilt using 2.5" strips

The pattern was chosen for the Reichart’s Quilt Store Stashbuster Class,  a mini one-day retreat at the quilt store.  Not having attended many classes or retreats, I decided to take advantage of a day to sew in the company of other women.  The pattern was a mystery until arrival.  I decided that a controlled scrappy might be a safe and pleasing option for me.  I loaded up several bins of blues and together with my featherweight, went for a day of sewing.  The project was for a lap quilt, but these blocks are so easy, that once you get going, it is hard to stop.
I enjoyed the company and conversation of the retreat.  The sewing area in the store is lovely and well set up for classes.  I am a bit spoiled by a wonderful sewing room with a great cutting table, large sewing area and space for tools at my fingertips.  I realized that the arrangement I have at home is very conducive to my own style of sewing, so I will very happily stay home and sew.  I really don’t need to go to a retreat to motivate myself to sew. The workshop was fun and I am glad I did it.  I’m also content to sew in my own studio.

So how did this quilt get the name “Your Majesty Blues”?  Well, during the afternoon, the workshop leader, Lesley Irvine told me a story of the time when her father in law, who lives in Scotland, was the court reporter who wrote the daily news on the British royal family when they vacationed at Balmoral Castle.  Lesley said that her father in law was on a first name basis with the Queen Mother.  I was suitable awed at that level of familiarity with the Royal Family.  Lesley explained that the Queen Mother called him “Cedric” and he called her “Your Majesty”.   When I look at this quilt, I chuckle at the story.  Hence, this quilt became “Your Majesty Blues.”

The quilt was started at the workshop in late February 2011; More blocks were made over the next week.  It was assembled in March 2001, quilted in early April 2001 and the binding was finished April 13, 2011.    This large queen size quilt goes into my wedding stash.  Someday, a happy  bride who loves blue as much as I do will select this quilt.

Project 2011-7: Baby Waste Not, Want Not

Scrap Quilt

Orphan Blocks made into a baby quilt

There were several leftover blocks from the big Waste Not Want Not Quilt, so they were put together into a baby quilt.  Orphan blocks are just that – orphans.  they have no place to live and they don’t belong anywhere.  They are just clutter. I like to give my orphans a loving home.    So these six blocks were joined together with plain blue sashing and borders to make a simple baby quilt.

On utility quilts like this one, I like to try out new techniques.  This border was drawn using a stencil and quilted with a domestic machine with a thread cutter.  I wanted to try the thread cutter to manage all of the starts and stops in the design.  While I am happy with the results, I prefer continuous line quilting on the long arm.

Back view of scrap quilt

Back view showing the quilting design

The sashing was done with straight line quilting on the domestic machine and the blocks were done on the long arm.  I quilted a feathered wreath that fills out the full square of each block.  it is rare that I would use two different types of quilting in one quilt, but on a low-pressure quilt like this one, it is a great opportunity to try new techniques.  Since the quilt was not destined for any particular recipient, I feel great freedom to be creative and experimental with my quilting.  This quilt goes into my baby quilt stash.  Someday, some mother will love this quilt and will choose it for her baby.  If I get tired of seeing it in the stash, it will go to a community outreach project.

Take Away Lesson: 
There is great satisfaction in using orphan blocks to create something useful and beautiful.  When there is no pressure for perfection, I can experiment, try new things and develop my quilting skills.

Companion Quotes:
“The true method of knowledge is experiment.”  William Blake
“The Law of Probabilities: the more things you try, the more likely one of them will work.”  Jack Canfield
“Only when you free yourself to be a mere beginner again, which implies experimentation, do you progress to the next level of excellence.”  Stella Reinwald

Project 2011-6: Waste Not, Want Not

Waste Not Want Not Quilt - made from leftover 1.5 " strips and scrap bin cuts

This quilt was made of 1.5 inch strips, sewn together to create a 6 inch wide strip, then cut into six inch blocks.  Four blocks were joined together to create a 12 inch block.  These were then joined with sashing and cornerstones.  It was simple to make and used a lot of left over strips and scraps.  Finished size is 108″ x 93″.

Quilt made from 1.5" strips

Quilt made from 1.5 inch strips - Great stashbuster!

It was quilted with an allover trillium meander (From Darlene Epp’s little books) and bound by machine.    The backing is a wide cotton fabric which I purchased in Egypt at a Cairo  night market around midnight on a Thursday  with the assistance of an education agent and her fiance, a medical doctor, who haggled in Arabic to get me a good deal.  I’m not sure how good he was as a doctor, but he was an awesome negotiator!

The top was assembled in December 2006, and it waited patiently on my flimsie shelf until it was quilted and bound in February 2011.  Done is good, but done is not always easy or guaranteed.  At a certain point, I tend to loose enthusiasm for a project – typically when the blocks are assembled.  I suspect it is because at this point, I know what the quilt will look like and the mystery and excitement of discovery is over.  I have to push myself to quilt and bind, but I am always happy when that is done.  Because of my tendency to shelve a project and go on to the next one, I do not allow myself to show unquilted tops, because once others have seen them unveiled, I feel less impetus to finish.  As an experienced quilter once said, “There is done and then there is DONE done!”  You will never see a project in this blog unless it is DONE done.  LOL!

Tale Away Lesson:
A finished quilt is much more satisfying than an unfinished flimsey.

Companion Quotes:
“The human mind appreciates closure and a clean ending.”  Jeff Davidson
“Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them. ” Joseph Joubert

Project 2011-5: Coffee Quilt

Coffee Themed Quilt

Lap Quilt of coffee themed fabrics - quick and easy quilt!

Project # 5, completed in March was a simple quilt.  Time was at a premium and I felt the need to get something done!
This quilt, nicknamed “Coffee Quilt”, has six panel prints all with a coffee theme.  The sashing fabric is a coffee bean print, and the borders are a complementary brown check.   I bought the fabric in 2006 in Olean, New York when my family was on a ski trip to Ellicottville.  I prefer to ski a half day while everybody else skis a full day.  So while they ski, I entertain myself by shopping for fabric.  Good trade-off, I figure!

The quilt was quilted with concentric circles in the panel prints and a dense stipple over the rest of the quilt.  It did not take a long time to complete this quilt and getting a finish primes the pump!

Take Away Lesson:
When it is hard to get started on a project, select something easy.  It generates a feeling of accomplishment.  Once in motion, it is easier to stay in motion.  Sounds like I learned something in Grade 11 Physics that directly applies to my life as a quilter!  Amazing!

Companion quote:
“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”  Napoleon Hill