Monday, November 21, 2011

The Scandinavian Christmas quilt

Honestly, I went to my favorite local quilt shop for a couple of neutral cream and tan fabrics for a stealth quilt I have in my head:  lots of piecing but little color contrast.  Yes, I know that's not my usual style, but when the environment  the proposed quilt will co-star in is very pale, something intricate but also pale is in order.

Or so I thought.  Selecting quiet prints  involved getting into the taupe and tan neighborhood, not my usual section of the color world.  The Lecien "Scandinavian Christmas" fabrics caught my eye, especially the tan with red polka-dot mushrooms, and the taupe with tall houses, feather Christmas Trees, and Father Christmas.

You'll see in my finished blocks that with all the best intentions, I still wound up using red  prints and even deep scarlet flowers in the mix.  So much for a quiet, reserved, even restrained quilt.


First border corner blocks and photographer's shadow.  Guess who was in a hurry.

Outer border corner blocks
Lovely how all the different manufacturers color palates worked for this quilt.  The center of this star block is the fabulous "Hometowns" fabric from Moda.

So, during the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, I will list many things for which I am grateful, among them Fuji apples, cell phones, a healthy family, good friends, snow on the mountains, life, liberty,  and the pursuit of quilt fabrics.

At the end of the Scandinavian Christmas project I will undoubtedly have a batch of extra tan fabrics.  Hmm.  Sounds like a give-away in the making. Speaking of bits and pieces, I asked several friends for their opinions of, in quilt fabrics, how small is too small a scrap to keep.  We'll delete the names to protect the innocent:

Response 1:  "Don't keep anything smaller than a fat quarter."

Response 2:  "It depends.  Usually I don't keep anything smaller than a two and a half inch square."

Response 3:  "You mean people throw scraps away?"

Send me your response.  In fact, send me your response and I'll put you in a drawing for a fabulous assortment of bits and pieces.  None smaller than 2.5 inches.

Quilts for the table

The Christmas Dishes table quilt, designed  for Village Dry Goods quilt shop in Brigham City, in the shop at last.
Closer view of quilt on table.  
Check the November 15 post for a close-up of the plates.  The story of this quilt is simple.  The Christmas print fabrics are all right by the front door of the shop, with great natural light.  The whimsical elf prints were new, and practically shouted to be taken home and used in a quilt right away.  My applique quilts often take a year, but this one was machine pieced, hand appliqued, and machine quilted in less than a week.   

So, there's the Riley Blake Christmas Candy plate quilt, this table quilt, the sibling of this one done in more formal Christmas fabrics.  Still not bored with Dresden plates!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Village Dry Goods Christmas Table Quilt

Pattern Cover for Village Dry Goods Christmas Table Quilt
I've been having too much fun with the Dresden Plate variations.  As you can see, the first table quilt is finished.  It's on display at the Village Dry Goods shop  Kits with pattern will be available, but the patterns are also for sale separately.

This week I'm making Frog Pants for toddler Mia (her dad's request--at least the pants part.) The fish quilt (Grampa Says I'm a Keeper) is done except for finishing the final stitching of the binding.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September Roses

Hand-pieced roses
This is the quilt I forgot.  While planning for a hand-piecing class, I was digging through a box of single sampler blocks and found this quilt.  Somehow I had completely forgotten it.  Or had I?  Next is am E quilt I designed this week using Moda's new "Sophie" line of fabrics.

Definitely a resemblance, yes?
Sophie's Garden (designed with EQ7 using Moda fabrics)

The Sophie's Garden quilt is a project for later.  Our Sophie is only six months old, and has plenty of bedding. Besides, her mama likes to make quilts too.  On the other hand, the fabrics are beautiful. I could make a dress, but she is still too small to look good in the large florals of this fabric group.  Hmmm.  My local quilt shop, Village Dry Goods, has a couple of the large florals, so I have seen them on-the-hoof. Maybe I should add a new quilt category to my scheudle:  quilts that must be made because the combination of fabric name and recipient require it of me.  This one would make a great sampler quilt for a star piecing (hand-piecing) class.

 Quilting Stars?  Maybe we will need t-shirts and tote bags for this group.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Christmas Dishes table quilt

September already?  This afternoon I am quilting the Christmas Dishes table quilt, which is a relief.  This is the first time I've made two quilts at once of the same pattern.  The Heritage Quilt Workshop version is pieced from bits of fabric from my mother's Grandmother's Christmas Quilts stash.  The Village Dry Goods version is for my favorite quilt fabric shop, and is more whimsical  The Dresden Plate design is very satisfying in a scrappy version.  This image is the second I've been able to create since delving into Electric Quilt.  This is going to be so much fun!  I know I still have to write the instructions, but this makes it possible to show you all the designs in my head long before I can get them into fabric.

We had a great time in West Yellowstone last week. It is delightful to get acquainted with new people, and the quilts we're doing this fall are fun to teach.  Check out the schedule and  register on line at

This next quilts are the two we are teaching in a single class:  the Wild Mountain Rose quilt followed by  the Baby Bear Paw, which uses the same techniques..  

Wild Mountain Rose

Baby Bear Paw

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Christmas Dishes

This is the first block for the Christmas Dishes quilt I designed for Village Dry Goods quilt shop in Brigham City, Utah.  The quilt is a 9 block table-top quilt (48" x 48") with five complete plate blocks and four fan corner blocks. More pictures as the quilt progresses.  Village Dry Goods will offer the quilt as a kit with pattern included, and a one-block technique class.

I'm teaching a Christmas Dishes class for the Heritage Quilt Workshop in West Yellowstone, Montana (August 25 or September 30)  The  fabrics in the photo above are much more whimsical than the prints in the Christmas Dishes class kits for West Yellowstone. 

The earlier Christmas Candy Dishes (see earlier posts) quilt these classes are based on is also pretty casual.  I suspect I'm going to wind up using this technique for a more formal Christmas quilt, and then for one using woodland colored batiks.  This is all rather odd, as I usually don't do the same thing twice.  Perhaps the appeal of this Dresden Plate variation is in the fact that it looks much harder than it is.  Or maybe I'm just amazed at how slick the technique is.  Or maybe it is just that it uses much smaller pieces of fabric, and is really suitable for charm packs and layer cakes.  If you're considering diving into this project, start collecting Christmas prints.  The most useful sizes are 5" or 10" square, and 5" x Width of Fabric (WOF) strips. 

For more information about the West Yellowstone classes, visit the Heritage Quilt Workshop blog.  You can register by phone or on-line at the Send-it-Home shop in West Yellowstone.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Outsmarting the technology?

This is a scanned copy of the Heritage Quilt Workshop schedule.  Now if I can just get the paper straight in the scanner bed, I'll have this licked.

I won't claim to have outsmarted the machines until I can manage to get things into the scanner right side up and straight.  Meanwhile, I am sure there is someone out there who is laughing because I just went around the barn instead of through the door, but at least we are staying with the horse images from this evening's earlier post.

Heritage Quilt Workshop News

Nine patch nine patch doll quilt
Whoa!  Or however we spell what you say to a horse that is in a hurry.  The summer seems to be rushing away.  I've been working on the late summer/fall schedule for the Heritage Quilt Workshop in West Yellowstone, Montana.  I'm hoping I can just cut and paste it in here.  Here goes. Hmmm.  Long pause.   Looks like I will need to call in my experts, as soon as they get back from hiking, canoeing, and fishing.  Or as Gramps liked to call it, Drowning Worms.

The 1896 Lady's Star block

Here's the afternoon's project.  The 1858 quilt is a design from Godey's Lady's Book.  Drafting the pattern from the sketch in the book was easy. Deciding what size to make it was a little more challenging.  This block is 8" square, but I will definitely teach it in a larger size. Probably !6" so that the individual hourglass blocks will be 4" square.  That makes it easy to work on, and for new quilters that's important.  (Anyone have a friendly name to suggest for people who who cut and sew bits of fabric together but hire others to quilt the quilt?  I'll take suggestions for a new label, but the name has to be a friendly one,  since some of my favorite people would rather quilt than piece, and the other way 'round as well.)  If you look at my block carefully you'll see where the layers of seams made it hard to get perfect points.  I was hurrying to get a block to scan for publicity for my class.  This block, at least in the 8" size,  will be much easier to hand piece than to sew by machine.  Part of the issue for me was the strong contrast.  I like to press seams toward the darker fabric, but this block is complex enough that there were some places that  had to be pressed away from the dark side. 

Anyhow, this block is one that looks fabulous with a whole group of identical siblings.  This is 9 blocks set 3 x 3.  I love designs that look much harder than they are. If the photo looks a little uneven, blame the scanner.

The plan for the 1858 quilt is to use it for the class I'm teaching in West Yellowstone,  Montana, during the week that the Mountain Man Rendezvous is in town.  We'll have a morning Introduction to Hand Piecing class,  and do the 1858 block in the afternoon.  Hmm.  I'd better be sure we make it clear that the afternoon class is not for beginners, or, perhaps, the faint of heart. Hmm again.  Maybe I should change horses in the middle of this stream and go with a less thrilling design for the afternoon group.  I have a metal image of eager new quilters being swept over the waterfall and down the Yellowstone to the Missouri and then to the Mississippi and thence to the Gulf and ultimately the Atlantic.  I don't think they'd come back. 

Time to shut down the machines and feed the cat.  Thanks for hanging out with me for a few minutes this evening.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July is "Coming up Roses"

Wild Mountain Rose block from Sophie's quilt

The roses are all in bloom. In May, it looked as if 80% of our roses were killed by the weird weather last fall.  After June 21, when our cold wet Spring finally blew itself out and gave way to warm weather and sunshine, most of the roses began to perk up.  Several have come up from the root stock, but those old strong roots produce lovely dark red flowers.

The best news is that some of the oldest roses, both chronologically (the Peace rose is 12 feet tall and 55 years old) and historically (the two antique French roses are only three years old but the antique stock seems to be very hardy) yes, the oldest roses are the ones that have come back unharmed.  Late roses are so much better than no roses.

The season is about three weeks late here, so no cherries yet.  I can't complain much, though, since my cousin in Teton Valley, Idaho had lilacs for the Fourth of July. 

We had a great trip to Nevada and California for a family reunion.  The family visits were great, but absolutely the best part was driving over Tioga Pass into Yosemite. The high Sierras make me want to make quilts that are sky blue and cloud white. Some of the photos from Tenaya Lake will serve as color keys when I get to that quilt.

This is the "All the Colors in the Box" block I hand stitched on the trip over the mountains.  This version of the Dresden Plate is easy and fast.  I only worked on it when the scenery was not terribly exciting..  The Scanner bed is still too small for even this smaller plate.  No, its not a rainbow:  I didn't have any purple in the box.  These are colors I in my box of projects to consider making big fish of some of them.  More another day about the Big Fish.

Meanwhile, I am working on the patterns for the Wild Mountain Rose baby quilt (also known as Sophie's Rose) and the "Grampa Says I'm a Keeper" fish quilt.

This is the paper piecing pattern for the mini fish of "Grampa Says I'm a Keeper"

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Need a Hug? Try a quilt

Last April the mother of my adorable granddaughters said, "When I wrap my child in a quilt I made, it is like physically wrapping them in my love."  What a lovely way to describe why we make quilts for the people in our lives.  I submit to you all that it is impossible to have too many quilts, if they each represent the love of the maker.

This has been a tough week emotionally.  We're off to Idaho tomorrow for the funeral of an irreplaceable friend.  This afternoon I felt utterly lonely, and wished my mother or my sisters or the grand-babies who love to be hugged were here.  Then I walked into the room where Marjorie's splendid Daisy quilt is on the bed and was reminded of the depth of the friendships I have with my sisters, whether their DNA matches mine or not.  Sometimes physical things can give us a lift emotionally. 

Some of us have loved ones who figure they have enough blankets, and why would you cut up all that fabric just to sew it together again? Some of the people we love wouldn't treat a quilt well.  I think we have a right to give them one anyway.  Many of us make quilts for charitable causes. Sometimes the cause is our own need to give a gift of love. So, make a quilt for someone you love, even if they think they don't need one.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Plates, plates, plates, and fans

Remember my scanner bed is too narrow to show the full 10" square. 
I am having a great time with my Christmas Candy Dishes, made from the Riley Blake layer cake I won at the Quilt Market Bloggers Meet-Up. Progress report:  I have five more plates to applique to their background, which is a quick way to say I have eleven done.  Eleven!!  This is so much fun I'm going to do it again, but with a layer cake of prints I've been saving for a rainy day. Okay, so I was out pruning roses all morning in the sunshine, how can I think about rainy day projects?  Easy, I don't have enough projects in the "Finish Someday" pile.

Side Bar:  We are already gathering the prizes for the Third Annual Sisters Quilt Weekend UFO party awards.  Check back next week for the dates for this fall.  It's never too late to to start an unfinished project.

Back to the plate project:  The plate/fan wedges are just the right size for using 10" squares efficiently.  (Efficiently = left overs so small no one thinks we should save them)

After making a plastic template, trace 6 wedges on each 10 " square.  The cutting diagram is below:


Note that this cutting diagram only works with non-directional prints.  If you're using fabrics with a definite direction ( and you don't want upside down trees on half your wedges) that's a whole different discussion, and there are no scraps when the six wedges are complete.

My Plate Project uses the same fabric as alternate wedges in each plate.  Those wedges are cut from 5" width-of-fabric strips.

There are pictures of the piecing of the wedges in the May 25 post

As I re-read this, I realize that my writing style is even more disjointed and parenthetical than usual.  Must be the unaccustomed sunshine.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Christmas Candy Dishes

If I were writing a story, this would begin with a tale of fancy Christmas dishes only used in December, or describe Uncle Jack who believes the only good wedding present is a candy dish and it better be full when he comes to visit.

The truth is I won a layer cake (10" squares) of Riley Blake Christmas Candy fabrics at the Bloggers Meet-up during Quilt Market in Salt Lake City.. Then on Wednesday afternoon last week Marjorie and I went to Stylish Fabrics in Logan, Utah, and I bought some of the Candy Dishes fabric in larger pieces. I didn't have a pattern in mind, so I bought a yard of the polka dot on white and a larger piece of the scattered candy print.  Marjorie was already busy on her Blue Lemonade quilt, but I sincerely believed I wasn't ready to think about planning the Christmas Candy quilt.

So, here I am, a week later, with sixteen Christmas Candy Dishes plates pinned to blocks of white-on-white background fabric.  The center circles are cut, and I'm ready for the next step:  appliqueing the dishes to their backgrounds and finishing them off with the centers.  The camera is still  returning from Turkey, so pictures are limited to the size my scanner can handle. 
The technique for creating these fan/dish wedges is easy.  Yes, it's yet another looks-harder-than-it-is quilt pattern.  I'm about half finished with writing the pattern. Writing the pattern as I construct the quilt is interesting.  I find I have to go back and double check yardages and directions the next morning, because too many times I get involved and don't stop before !:00 AM.  I'm creative late at night, but my math skills aren't as sharp as during the day.  (Here there are people laughing in the background at the idea that my math skills are ever sharp.  Let's just say that quilters need Geometry and basic Algebra, and walk away smiling)

I suspect I'm going to make this pattern again.  The "layer cake" cuts are just right for giving lots of variety but not leaving too much left over.  Did I just imply that it is possible to have too much fabric left from a project?

The plates are 11 inches in diameter, and the scanner bed is 9 by 12.  Hmmmm.  Really need the camera to come home.

What do you think about commercial patterns with photographs ( black and white) instead of diagrams?  Is it confusing to the maker who is using fabrics other than those in the pattern?

Well, I'm off to make circles.  Somewhat more productive than running in circles.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Quilt Market Mania and Fish Tales

This is a quilter's dream:  thousands of fabulous fabrics thousands of quilts, thousands of patterns, thousands of people who love the same things we do. Marjorie and I went to Quilt Market in Salt Lake City last weekend with Renae Allen of RGA Designs which was far more fun than work. Marjorie posted photos and a running commentary  at Applique Addict.

One of our favorite events was the Quilt Market Blogger's Meet-up (some days you just have to check the  English degree at the door and enjoy the evolution of the language) held at the Blue Lemon cafe just down the block from the Salt Palace and Quilt Market.  The question of whether Quilting has a Future was answered:  there are plenty of energetic, enthusiastic, and gifted young quilters, and they are telling the world about it.

Many of our market conversations resulted from mentioning quilt blogging, and it is great to find that there are plenty of age enhanced quilters who are diving into the world-wide quilt conversation.
Batik Mimbres Fish
The fish photo is of the center of the "Grandpa Says I'm a Keeper" baby quilt I'm working on.  The applique is the project I had in my bag at market (Never leave home without a portable project) which resulted in finding the perfect  colors in new thread varieties for the needle-turn applique. I have two more threads to test-drive for my experiment.

So, I've a dozen ideas for new quilts swirling in my brain, and I need to get them on paper, and then in fabric.  Along with a bit of cooking and a lot of cleaning to catch up after being in Quilt Mode for a week, I'd better go.  Cheers!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sophie's Wild Rose

Sophie's Wild Rose quilt is so bright it is almost as exciting as Sophia Elisabeth herself.  The back of the quilt is white to show off the geometric and floral figures of the quilting.  I used  variegated pink, green, and white threads on the top and white on the bobbin.  This is my "Bear Paw Backwards" project.  The pattern will use flying geese instead of half-square triangles for the green leaf points.  I had the design in my head, and then on paper, but I didn't start cutting and stitching until Sophie was born. It was a great pleasure to have it done to take with me to meet the baby. For my great excuse for not having the quilt done before the grand-baby arrived, see my February 26 post!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Color transfer in laundering

Mia's quilt border is an applique design by Julia Popa.  The machine quilting in the border is free-hand leaves and vines.

When I shifted to using mostly white backgrounds, I worried a bit about colors bleeding.  I usually pre-wash cotton fabrics, but in this quilt the pre-cut charm pack squares were sewn into the checkboard center before I thought about the possibility of bright colors bleeding. My final step with quilts is machine washing and drying, so color bleeding can be a disaster.  Fortunately, these fabrics are all absolutely color-fast. 

Pre-washing fabrics has plenty of advantages, but what if we didn't prewash that gorgeous dark red batik border, and it bleeds into the black and white fabrics of the quilt?  Does this sound like the beginning of a sad tale?  It's worse than sad, it was a Christmas Eve disaster, except that this story has a happy ending.  I washed the quilt again with a 'color safe' oxygen based bleach.  That helped, so I did it again, then washed the quilt a third time to be sure there were no chemicals left behind.  It will never be perfectly white and deep black again, but its pretty much white and convincingly black with a red border, rather than black and pink. 

Since my Christmas adventure, I've learned about Shout brand Color Catcher laundry sheets, an easy prevention of color transfer disaster.  So, yes, I usually pre-wash all my fabrics, but for those projects where there is any question, I use a Color Catcher sheet in the "I'm almost finished" laundering of new quilts.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Esther Aliu's Heart's Desire Block of the Month

Esther Aliu has a new Block of the Month applique mystery quilt called  Heart's Desire. Her designs are gorgeous.  I'm using a combination of back-basted needle turn applique and reverse applique.  Here are the first two colors basted on the first block.  Marjorie has a different color scheme and applique technique at

Sophie's Quilt

Sophie's Wild Rose Baby Quilt:  center
Sophie's quilt is my newest Huckleberry Baby Quilt.  The center is a needle-turn applique five petal Wild Rose.  The surrounding blocks are my Wild Rose blocks, the result of one day saying, "Hmm.  I wonder what happens if Bear Paw blocks are assembled backwards?"

Bear Paw block construction diagrams
The white background of the wild rose block doesn't really show the reverse Bear Paw of the layout. The Flying Geese segments are actually pairs of half-square triangles.

Sophie's Wild Rose pieced block

I  had been working on "Buffalo Gals," but when Miss Sophie's mama asked for the wild rose quilt, it seemed like a good idea to make it first. Sophie decided to take her time, and was born today; the center of the quilt is almost done; all of the pieced blocks are pressed and ready for final assembly. I'm aiming for finishing assembly and quilting before she's a week old.