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Archive for the ‘Quilts’ Category

Baby Quilt for Hunter

I love making a quilt for each new baby coming into the world. I enjoy thinking about their parents and their personalities, and from there picking a set of fabrics and colors for their new baby. For Hunter, I knew he would be born into a family that loves the outdoors and is connected to the earth. Thinking about a quilt for him, I was drawn to this collection of fabrics from Hawthorn Threads, with its motifs of butterflies, pine cones, feathers and leaves and flowers. IMG_5226

I knew I wanted to pair the fabrics with solids, and decided I like yellow as the compliment. For pattern, I was recently drawn to the North Wind block.

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As I was sewing the quilt in March, our weather was turning from winter to spring. We’d have windy days with the wind blowing from the north, bringing us the warmer weather of spring.

IMG_5282And it felt like spring inside too! Choosing yellow was such a pleasure to work and sew with. As sunlight streamed in my windows on a weekend morning and I sat stitching with a cup of tea, I felt like I was calling spring to arrive.

DSC03092I chose to make the entire quilt one large north wind block. I quilted it with a walking foot, simple diagonal lines matching the points of the yellow triangles to emphasize the direction of movement in the quilt.

DSC03101I used all the remaining fabrics from the collection in the back. I imagine that Hunter will get lots of play time on this quilt, inside and outside!

DSC03103As I stitched, I hoped that Hunter would revel in growing up in the great outdoors, with the north wind bringing him fun adventures.

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Stitch by stitch my equilateral quilt grew, until one day it was suddenly … done!
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After ironing the top flat, I prepared it for quilting by making the quilt sandwich. It was evening and I was tired and skipped a few steps thinking it would help speed things along.
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Famous last words. Skipping steps never speeds things up, and I discovered a number of bumps on the fabric backing. *sigh*
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I set the quilt aside and returned fresh at another time, carefully taping down my layers, keeping each flat and taut. Voila – the quilt was ready for quilting!
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I decided I wanted to use cotton perle thread for a large stitch look. And of course I then felt like being a little playful and using lots of different colors instead of choosing just one.
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I chose a radiating star pattern, using the natural diagonal line of the patchwork to make the quilting lines. I alternated colors randomly as each thread ran out.
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For the binding, I selected a mixture of yellow and yellow-green fabric. I think the bright colors complement the quilt well, while also blending in with the green.
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I gifted the lap sized quilt to my mother-in-law Joann for Christmas, thinking it would be lovely to snuggle under as a lap quilt or use as a room accent on a couch.
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All fabric hand dyed by yours truly, the quilt top is hand pieced and hand quilted. You can read three other posts on this quilt here, here and here.

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Sailing the Ocean Blue

And, my other big finish this year was my Ocean Waves quilt. I first dyed the fabric for this quilt in the summer of 2008. I then proceeded to slowly piece and quilt it for the next seven years. Seven years?! That’s crazy. But I didn’t work on it all the time. I would go through bursts of enthusiasm with lots of progress, and periods where I wouldn’t touch it at all. And so it slowly grew.
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All blue fabric was hand dyed by me. I believe at last count there are 1008 triangles in the quilt with 35 shades of blue. The black is just a commercial solid black fabric. The triangles were machine pieced and the quilting was all done by hand.
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For each triangle I stitched a simple triangle inside. In the black squares I stitched a circular wave motif, and along the black border I stitched a geometric wave pattern. All stitching was done in a light blue thread.
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The quilt measures a very large 90 x 90 inches! In late summer, I took the quilt up to the White Mountains in the Bristlecone Pine forest for a photo shoot. I liked the idea of photographing it in front of the oldest trees, as symbolizing its complexity and slow nature. From dyeing the fabric, to cutting all those triangles, to hand stitching it all together, this quilt was made at Bristlecone Pine speed.
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It’s home is now with my brother Taven, the last sibling to receive a quilt made by me but not the least! It warms my heart thinking of Taven with this quilt in his home. My wish is may it be used and worn in the years to come, and keep my family warm.
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And a big thank you to my mom and Aaron who helped hold the quilt for the photo. It wasn’t the easiest task to complete!

If you are just now tuning in, you can see the quilting progress over the years on my blog under the tab Ocean Waves.

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The Last Wave

I wanted to share an update on my Ocean Waves quilt. I last shared in August, almost a year ago!, and a lot has been completed since then. I had a recent burst of energy to complete the quilt when my friend Gerry presented me with this year’s county fair entry book! I realized I was so close, I had to get the quilt finished in time for fair. So I pulled it out as I hadn’t touched it in a while, and low and behold I had a small two foot long piece to quilt left. What?! Amazing. Inspired, I spent a few evenings and weekend afternoons finishing the hand quilting.
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To backtrack a little bit, for the little black triangles along the edges, I chose to do one of the sprial waves that makes up the sprial circle in the squares in the middle.
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For the black edge border, I chose to do a fan pattern. I freehand drew it with chalk and then stitched.
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With the black fan edge border complete, making the entire quilt quilted by hand, I eagerly jumped into binding and finishing the quilt. I discovered in my fabric stash I still had enough hand dyed fabric from the inner skinny blue border to do the binding.
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Reading through some of my Amish quilt books, I decided to follow the technique in “An Amish Adventure” for the binding. I was attracted to the double fabric of a mitered binding without the miter. I did decide I wanted a wide binding, so instead of cutting it the suggested 2 inches, I believe I cut it (I can’t remember now!) 4 1/2 inches thick, then pressed it in half, which once sewed on to the quilt made a generous 1 inch binding. I made four separate lengths to sew onto each side.
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I sewed the two short lengths on, then the two long sides on, leaving about an inch or two on each side to create the corner.
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I read of so many quilters who dislike binding the quilt, but I find it to be so thrilling, because it is a task that marks the completion of the quilt. When working with a quilted quilt the touch and feel is different. To watch the raw edges disappear under the binding and the quilt becomes complete is so sweet.
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In only a few evenings I had the binding all sewn and the quilt was done! Finishing a quilt of this size is anti-climactic, for so many years it was always a goal, always a project needing to work on, and then suddenly, it is finished. It is an empty feeling, a feeling of what is next? And then that thought fills me, what is next? And then the emptiness is enjoyable with a sense of possibility, what is next? I’m going to let that ruminate for a while! And I will post pictures soon, once I get some of the quilt in its entirety. So exciting!

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Yesterday I had a lovely afternoon escaping the heat for the mountains, to see some wildflowers and our mountain quilt at an art show in Mammoth Lakes.

DSC02259The Mono Council for the Arts has a show called “Hello Spring” that has been up since April, and I finally made it up to see the show. So many beautiful pieces of artwork bursting with color and life. When we submitted a picture of the quilt to the show, the curator was excited because they hadn’t had a quilt in one of their shows before!

DSC02260I was particularly pleased with how they hung the quilt so artfully from a branch. What a great idea! They pinned strips of fabric at different lengths depending on the curve of the branch. Cool!

PicMonkey CollageWe also had a great time going for a wildflower hike. While it is summer already here down in the valley, up in the mountains it is still spring!

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As I’ve shared in previous points, I am drawing a quilt design each day. Sometimes it is a random sketch for the day and sometimes it is for a specific project. When I learned a good friend was expecting her second baby, I knew I wanted to make her son a quilt. I raided my fabric stash, and pulled out these fat quarters I purchased awhile back.

IMG_9156After sketching a design of large flying geese in a t-pattern, I did the math. Despite reading several tutorials on how to size flying geese triangles, and googling a fair amount of geometry reference, I still calculated my numbers wrong. Oops! When I sewed the triangles together, they didn’t quite match up for a rectangle, but it was easy enough to trim them down, and it didn’t affect the overall dimensions of the quilt at all. I will need to spend some more time with triangle geometry to figure out where I was going wrong! I think it has something to do with how much to add for seam allowance. Anyone with match skills have the answer?

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From my calculations, I headed to our local quilt shop to purchase a bit more fabric, as the fat quarters I already have weren’t enough. My phone came in handy to snap a picture in black and white to check my values. I was hoping to find additional fabrics to add to mix it up, but ended up purchasing more in the same fabric line.

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Because my block sizes were large, the top sewed together in a morning. What a thrill it was to see my first pattern materialized as a quilt top!

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For quilting, I wanted to go with a lighter colored thread so it wouldn’t stand out against the light colored fabric of the front and back. When in the quilt shop, I picked a turquoise to go with the tree color. Once I started quilting though, I was bummed with how it turned out, as the color became quite a bit darker against the white then I had expected. A good lesson to pick a lighter colored thread than you think you will want, as it will look darker against the white.

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This is also the first larger size quilt I’ve quilted completely on my new Brother sewing machine, and it was great! The machine performed wonderfully, humming away as I stitched, with no broken threads or weird tension or anything. The extended table made the quilt slide around easily, and I didn’t have any of the arm muscle stress I’ve had in the past. I also wanted to play around with some new patterns to stitch with, so spent a little while sketching with pencil different designs for the different areas. Quilting is a lot like zentangling!

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I think that is some of the pleasure of making a baby quilt. While I want the quilt to be nice, there is also a bit of freedom, because it is for a baby who doesn’t know if the seams match or the quilting is straight. All that really matters is I made it with love imagining the new little one coming into this world. I find it fun to make baby quilts because I can play with new colors and techniques. And no matter what, after popping them in the wash, they come out soft and snugly and perfect for a little one.

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Heading outside for a photo shoot, our chickens were very curious and came over to see what was going on!

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I liked the brown in the fabrics, so chose to bind the quilt with a brown polka dot I picked up in the Bay Area on our recent trip, when Lesley and I enjoyed going to the most delicious yarn and fabric shop ever, A Verb for Keeping Warm. I also tried a new technique in attaching my quilt labels. This time I ironed a quarter inch hem around the sides, then cut a piece of fusible webbing slightly smaller than the size of the hemmed label. I then ironed that to the label, and then to the quilt. This helped stabilize it as I whip-stitched the edges down, and kept the shape more square.

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After snapping a few photographs, I sent the quilt off in the mail. I’m super thrilled with making my first quilt design become a reality!

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I have wonderful exciting news to share! Our mountain quilt was accepted into this year’s Road to California quilt show!

IMG_2283The Road to California Quilt Show will be January 22-25 in Ontario, California. Time to make travel plans!

10615982_10152505978488387_6138535904460096095_nWe were excited when our quilt won Best of Show at our local county fair. Now the excitement keeps on coming!

Here’s what the judge at our county fair said about the quilt: “Open spaces and mountain range clearly defined. Perspective well handled and attended to. Appliqued textures and beading add a sense of realism to overall piece. Quilting motifs are appropriate and natural to the piece. Facing is appropriate for art composition. Fits Fair Theme.”

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