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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Amelia's 1st birthday Quilt with Minkee Backing and Binding.

I wanted to give sweet baby Amelia a "Katie Quilt" for her birthday.  I used everything from my stash.  I started with this large piece of minkee fleece that I had leftover from another project.  It's super soft and BIG so I didnt' have to piece fabric together for the backing.   I have used Minkee for  backing before, but I always used batting ALSO, but this time I left out the batting.  For a large, bed-size quilt I think batting is fine, but I wanted something that she could lug around herself, so it needed to be LIGHT too.   

Double Sided Minkee is thick enough that it doesn't require batting.  Also, it gives a very nice effect when free-motion quilted.  However there is a slight downside when you omit the batting.  When there is no batting, there is nothing for the fleece to stick to.  The batting acts as a stabilizer so that your fleece doesn't shift around.  To remedy that problem I just used lots of safety pins in the basting process.  

For the quilt TOP I pieced together feminine prints of pink and grey.  Honestly, I'm not real sure what I was going for here - just scrappy I guess!!  Who knows, it was late when I came up with this design ;c)  I think a quilt looks best when you incorporate elements from the back on the front, and vice versa.  So for the front, I appliqued circles of minkee and also used the minkee as the binding.

** I have a tutorial on how to do self-binding with fleece HERE**

 And for the backing I took one of the pink floral prints and used it to applique her name.
In this last picture you can get a good look at the quilting design I used.   I always want to try these fun large-scale quilting motifs, but am always too scared.   I love the look of all-over free-hand feathers, but every time I attempt them I regret it.   I think maybe it's because I think every tiny bit of space needs to be quilted - and everything needs to be touching.   
So for my last couple projects I have been trying to use more negative space.   I think just as rainbow colors only look good with a good amount of WHITE.   . . . "fancy" quilting only look good when there is some negative space?  Maybe?   I'm working on it anyway! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Quick Quilted Placemats Tutorial

Placemats make a great last-minute gift and they can be more fun than a regular quilt since they are smaller.   Use scraps from your stash or that one piece of fabric you LOVE but don't know what to do with.

Every time I saw this primitive patchwork design at Joanns I wanted to buy it.   I was dreaming of the fun quilting I could do with the patchwork but didn't want to piece together all those 1" squares.  I needed a gift for my secret sister at church, so I decided to make her these placemats.   I get to work with the pretty fabrics, and she gets some placemats! Win-Win!


  • Main Fabric - 1 yard *
  • Accent Fabric - 1/8 yard *
  • Backing Fabric - 1 yard *
  • 4 pieces of scrap batting 15" x 22" *
  • Safety Pins 
  • Quilting Pins 
  • Rotary Cutter and self-healing mat 
  • Sewing Machine
  • Piecing and quilting thread

*yardage is for 4 placemats

Main Fabric:
4x  - -13.5" x 8.5"
8x - - 3.5" x 10.5"
8x - - 3.5" x 21.5"

Accent Fabric:
8x - - 1.5" x 8.5"
8x - - 1.5" x 15.5"

4x - - 15" x 22"

1.  We are going to be making little quilt sandwiches.  Start by piecing together your "top" according to the chart here:

2.  Press your top and layer Top/Batting/Backing as you would a regular quilt.
 3.  Trim the edges of the batting and backing EVEN with your quilt top.
 4.  Remove the backing and set it to the side.
 5.  Pin the quilt top to JUST the batting with safety pins.  Leave an inch or two around the outside edges free.
 6.  Lay your backing piece of fabric on TOP of the quilt top - Right Sides Facing
 7.   Pin all around the edges.
 8.   Decide where you want your opening to be.  It should be about the size of your fist.    Mark the beginning and ending of your sewing line with double pins.  This will let you know where to start and stop sewing.    Choose a section that is not directly in the center of a long edge, but not a corner either.   Sew a quarter inch seam allowance around the edge leaving the opening free.  Backstitch at the beginning and end of your sewing line.
 9.  Flip your quilt inside out through the opening.  (Like you would a pillowcase)  The edges and corners might need some fiddling with.  I like to roll the edges on a hard surface until they are smooth and flat.

10.  Remove the pins in the center first, and iron with steam.   Then remove the remaining pins in sections and press the entire quilt with steam.
 11.  Hand stitch the opening closed.

* I am not a fan of hand sewing at ALL, in fact I avoid it all costs.  But for this project I definitely recommend hand sewing the opening closed.  You need to use a loose whipstitch and you might need to do a bit of fiddling/tucking while you sew so that you have a straight line.   This only takes about 5 minutes so I believe it's worth it. 
 See how the hand-stitches are barely noticeable?  If I had done this by machine the line would not be straight and I would have to stitch all around the whole project and it's not too pretty ;c) 
 12.  Finally, Quilt as desired.

  I've found that I tend to OVERquilt all of my projects.  . . . it's FUN, but it's not the best LOOKING option most of the time.  I am going for a less-is-more approach these days.

 I started by quilting a swirl/feather in the borders.  Then I stitched-in-ditch in the 1" inner border.  Finally I did an echo/crosshatch pattern in the center using the patchwork fabric as a guide.
If you would like to try to use this quilting design -  Start by drawing your curved stem with chalk or erasable marker.  Quilt each swirl, and then add feather or two right afterwards, then move up the spine until you get to the next swirl.  Easy Peasy!

 Finished Placemats!

 I hope my Secret Sister likes them!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Craftsy Quilt Class "Pictoral Quilting Techniques"

with Wendy Butler Berns 
In this course she teaches how to create an art quilt using freezer paper (with turned-under applique.) I have heard of using freezer paper before, but have never tried it.   This is an extremely valuable technique, and my mind is spinning with all the ways I can utilize it in future quilts.  
In this course she explains how to take photos and turn them into art quilts.  I'm already starting to design my quilt using a photo of my daughter, but the possibilities are endless.  

 This freezer paper-method also has an exciting "big reveal" aspect.  It's like a puzzle somewhat.  you have a general "idea" of what it's going to look like when complete, but you don't get to see it until you remove the freezer paper.  Here is my quilt TOP, before my big reveal.
 However you CAN hold it up to the light and look at it from the BACK.  Here I am trying to get a sneak peek.
 Quilt front AND back, waiting for everything to dry.
  and finally my big reveal!!   Wow, that yellow is BRIGHT. . . and what was I thinking with those bricks?   ;c)

I would like to add that I wanted to QUICKLY get through this "practice" quilt so that I could get to making a quilt using the photo of my daughter.   I wanted to just practice the techniques discussed in the class, and so I ran into the fabric room while my baby was sleeping.   I grabbed some fabrics off of a top pile, and tip-toed out.  I didn't really look at the actual PRINTS. . I just focused on the aspect of value.
I sandwiched my quilt, and decided I would start with outlining the flower, stem, and leaves in black with a zigzag stitch.
 Here's the back with the outline.   (I have no idea why these are upside down)
I had some thread from Wonderfil called "hologram" that I wanted to try.  So I added some shiny fun stuff in the flower.  
 Next I tried to tone down the yellow and brick areas with very thick white quilting.   (it didn't help much I know)
I also wanted the ground portion to be a bit darker, so there would be more contrast with the sky.  So I used a dark grey thread and did a dense pebble motif.
 For some reason I really liked my little bottom part of my flower just hanging out down there all alone.  So I tried to find a way to keep it like that in the final quilt.   Here is the batting trimmed away with my lonely little flower stem just hanging out on the bottom.
 I thought this looked weird  (as if it couldn't get any weirder!)
So to even that out, I trimmed some of the top portion out, so it looked like the flower was very much in the foreground of this scene.   That helped a bit I think.

 Since this was an art quilt - I decided to lose the binding - and gave myself permission to break all the rules and I kept the edges raw.  I tried doing a thick zigzag stitch with black thread, but it kept getting jammed and acting weird.  So I decided to switch to a regular clear piecing foot, and used a large doubled-up buttonhole stitch.  (#30 on my Janome.)  I like the way this turned out.
 And just for fun, I wanted to share a photo of the finished quilt BACK.  Isn't that pretty?   I might like the back better!

Finally - I HIGHLY recommend this course!   If you have ever wanted to learn the freeezer paper applique method, or make art quilts, give this class a try.   I love Wendy's teaching style, and really enjoyed listening to her talk about how she went about making each of her quilts.  She has a large variety of quilts in her gallery and there are many fun stories to go along with each one.

 In this class you will learn:
how to choose fabrics,
making your quilt pattern from a photo,
mapping your pattern,
freezer paper applique,
glue basting,
and unique quilting and finishing techniques.

I would also like to say how impressed I am with Craftsy's class format.   I have only taken ONE quilt class in my life, so I don't have much to compare it to, however Craftsy offers several neat tools.   One, you can pause the video at any time and add a NOTE.   That way you don't have to go back and try to find that one spot you want to hear again.   Also, there is a constant stream of people asking (and answering) questions and offering tips.   The instructor quickly answers any questions you might have and they are there for the whole class to view and comment on.  Everything was really smooth and I had no problem at all navigating between lessons/outlines/patterns.  I'll definitely be taking more craftsy classes in the future.    When you sign up for Craftsy, they email you when they are having sales, so you can wait until they are offering the classes at a discount.  I have seen them up to 50% off!
And if you sign up - (it's free)  please sign up through ME by click one of my links - so I can get credit!!!  Thank you!

And click here if you would like to try this same Craftsy Quilt course "Pictoral Quilting Techniques using machine applique with Wendy Butler Burns "

I'll post later when I finish the quilt of my daughter that I am so excited about - here's the photo I have chosen to use for my next quilt.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fun Baby Blanket REDO challenge!

My Mom's cousin Joyce asked if I could take her SON's baby blankets (from when he was a baby) and turn them into something NEW. ...
 SURE I said!  I will be happy to give it a shot!!  ;c)
He is getting married soon,  and Joyce gave this finished quilt to her son at his wedding shower.

The blankets have been washed many many times, stains, giant holes, weak and shredding fabric.  Also, the colors in the blankets don't exactly MATCH, so to say this was a challenge, would be an understatement.  . . a FUN challenge though!   Take a look at these 4 baby blankets and think . .what would YOU do ?  How would YOU fit them together?   How would you go about it?  
I am really happy with how this quilt turned out - and I feel that I breathed NEW LIFE into these blankets, and now they will last another 3 decades!  (at least!)

 I decided that I would make a RAG-style quilt.  
The troll doll blanket is actually a quilt.   The back of this blanket is a panel that is made up of large troll dolls.  The original quilt maker cut out the trolls from that fabric, and hand-appliqued them onto brightly colored solid background fabrics.  The hand applique is gorgeous!  She also hand-quilted the 3 layers.  I wanted this blanket to be the "star"  So I started with the troll blocks, and then worked around them.
I noticed that the polka dot blanket had similar colors.  So I made similar size blocks with that blanket.  I took the remaining two blankets and made 4-patch units.    And a large center block because Joyce's son loves elephants.
 I measured the troll blocks from the original quilt, and they varied in size, but averaged 7.5"
I typically want at least a 1" seam allowance for a rag quilt. . but I decided that for this quilt that I would do a 0.75" seam allowance and use a 6" finished block  (7.5" UNfinished).  
 HOWEVER, If I cut the blocks out exactly as they were in the original blanket, some of the trolls head and feet would be gobbled up by the seam allowance. So I utilized the blankets borders, and cut into the center blocks so that I could keep most of the troll in tact!    That's why you see more than one color in some of the troll blocks.
The back of the quilt is NOT so pretty ;c)  But you can see the awesome original troll doll fabric on the back. 

Here's a closeup of the center of the finished quilt.    This photo shows off the strong diagonal movement with the lights and darks.  
Side-by-Side of the blankets and the finished quilt.  

What would YOU do??  
I would love to know!

T-shirt Quilt

Finished T-shirt quilt!!!   
This quilt was made for a man that actually graduated with my Mom and Dad.  He has started several fundraisers and charities in our local area.  He was a very well-respected and loved man of the community.  He passed away a few years back, but his memory lives on through his good deeds.
"Mator" is his nickname - and his sister Polly collected the shirts and had this quilt created as a gift. 

 This quilt was pretty big -  about a Double/Full size.  But with the number of shirts I had, I could have made 4 king size quilts!!!  LOL

Here's a closeup of the center of the quilt

If you, or someone you know would like a custom T-shirt quilt, please send me a message via email or facebook!  Detailed price list on my facebook page under "general info" and photos of additional T-shirt Quilts under the album "T-shirt/Clothing quilts"
And these next few photos are just me taking photos of my babies - being silly ;c)