Tag Archives: Prairie Braid Quilt

2012-33: Prairie Braid Table Runner

Braid Table RunnerThis is the second table runner I made from a left-over prairie braid strips.  I make my strips from pieces that are cut 1.5 ” by 4.5 inches.  I put light on one side of the braid and dark colors on the other side of the braid.  To create a runner with a solid strip down the centre, I need to make two braid with a mirror image – meaning one with dark on the right side and one with dark colors on the left side so that when they are joined together, they make a braid of the darker values while the light side frames the braid.

I bordered these autumn colors with a warm brown print and bound it with a metallic gold leaf print. The runner is quilted in the centre with a small stipple meander in a YLI variegated threads in autumn colors.  The border is quilted with a leaf motif, adding to the autumn theme of the runner.

The finished runner will go into my stash of gift items.  I love the convenience of being able to pull a hand made gift from my collection of finished items whenever I need a gift.  Having lots of finished items allows me to indulge my generous impulses to bless someone with an unexpected gift.  It also allows me some choice, making it easier to select a runner or table topper that best suits the home of my recipient.

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Creating a Personal Quilt Retreat

One of the benefits of a quilt retreat is the necessity of focus.  Changing my location means changing my sewing environment,  I have to limit what I bring with me to my quilting retreat.  It is not possible to bring every UFO, every scrap bin, every project in progress.  I have to be selective, taking only the projects I want to complete. The benefit of limiting what I take with me is that I also limit my distractions.  If I only take three projects, then those three are my only options.  I cannot get sidetracked by the projects on my design wall, by the quilt on the long arm, by the pile of scraps waiting to be cut  to size, by the bin of UFOs, but the several designs I have pinned to my bulletin board.  With all of those distractions, it is a wonder I get projects finished.

Sometimes I need a mental break from all of those distractions call to me.  That is when I escape to the solitude of our small lakeside cabin in Northern Ontario where we have no television and no internet.

My 82 year old neighbor took this photo as she came to visit me on the dock where I was stitching the binding on a quilt.

A weekend away typically gives me three days to quilt without the interruptions of daily life.   No phone calls, no drop-in visitors, no electronic entertainment.  A piece of heaven.  This past weekend, I went to the cottage alone and spent my time rotating between piecing quilt tops, raking leaves and cleaning gardens and sitting on the dock to hand stitch the binding on a quilt.

My sewing resources are also limited.  I have an old sewing machine that I leave at the cottage, one cutting mat that I put on the kitchen table, a rotary cutter, ruler, pins, and a few cones of thread.  My sewing area in a corner of the living room holds my machine on a small printer table and has just enough elbow room to set up an ironing board at my right hand.

My cozy sewing space in a corner of the living room where ironically, I assemble more quilt tops than I do at home in my large sewing studio.

Because I have so little room, I have to be economical with my use of space.  With the machine and iron close to each other, it is a great arrangement for piecing.  To make the best of what I can do in the space, I prepare for my retreat by cutting pieces in advance, and then kitting the project so it is ready to take with me for a retreat weekend.   Recently I spent a day cutting the pieces for several prairie braid quilts because they are such great “take and make” projects.

Having my sewing space in this corner adjacent to the kitchen means I can continue sewing as I keep an eye on supper cooking.  I can fit in many small seams in this way.

After years of wasting travel time and impatient swinging on a porch swing, I discovered how much I enjoy hand sewing.  At home, I am far too busy to sit and stitch, but at the lake,  it is a wonderful calm activity.  Now a bag of hand stitching is always ready to go with me on my retreats too.  There are times when I do not want to be inside, so having hand work to take to the dock gives me rest time that is both soothing and productive.   When my neighbors see me sitting on the dock, they will canoe over for a pleasant chat, knowing they will not disturb me.

Creating my own retreats for intensive sewing has helped me get many more quilt tops done.  Limiting my available projects, keeping them simple, using the best of my space and preparing kitted projects ahead of time all influence the amount I accomplish.  I’m sure that having no computer, no internet and no television to suck the time out of my day all influence the amount of quilting time available.  This media-free environment really is a retreat from the distractions of the world.

Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.  Jim Rohn

Project 2011-4: Prairie Braid

Wine Prairie Braid

Scrap quilts call to my heart and appeal to my soul.  Prairie Braid is one that makes me feel warm, cozy and cuddled.  It looks complicated, but is surprisingly easy to make.

This quilt was entered in a local fair this past weekend and won first in its class and Grand Champion for machine quilting. All fabrics were from stash. Cultural Note: In Canada, the red ribbon is the desirable one. A blue ribbon means second place. I like the rosette, but LOVE the bonus gift certificate to my favourite fabric store.

Priarie Braid Quilt

Project # 4 - Prairie Braid

Prairie braid is a traditional design. The piece size I use , 1.5″ by 4.5″, is one of my standard cutting sizes for scraps. I have a box that I continually add to as I cut up left-overs. When the box looks full, I make a quilt. I separate lights and darks on two kitchen trays, then start sewing. This is a great mindless sewing project, as I only have to alternate light and dark. Not too difficult! The trickiest construction element is joining the edges of the strips. After trimming, they are on the bias, so require careful handling. I spray with my homemade starch before trimming and joining, which helps a great deal to keep them flat and true.

Prairie Braid is one of those patterns that looks much more complicated than it really is. It is actually easy to make, fun and a great colour value exercise.   In my scrap recipe,  I always aim to include red and yellow for sparkle  and plaids and stripes for interest.  This quilt has them all.

My work is challenging and at the end of the day, I am often quite tired.  Typically, if I can get started on a project, I find renewed energy.  So I look for something easy to do to get me started.  When I don’t feel like sewing,  I cut up scraps.  On days when  I am too tired to tackle a complex project, I sit and sew on projects like this.   No heavy thinking required.  Just relaxing, mindless sewing.  It is almost like meditation.  Prairie Braid strips are easy to do when I am tired.  Everything is already cut and ready for me to sew.  When I don’t have to make decisions, it is much easier to get started.  And of course, once started, it is easy to continue.  Keeping a project like this on the go helps me accomplish more.

Take Away Lesson:
Making it easy for myself to get started makes it much more likely I will get started and then of course, more likely I will get a completed project.  

Companion Quotes:
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”  Sally Berger

So many fail because they don’t get started – they don’t go.  They don’t overcome inertia.  They don’t begin.”   W Clement Stone