Archive for the ‘Quilts’ Category

I want to tell you about the quilt that marked time. That was made in the nick of time. That noted time passing. That indicated it wasn’t time yet. That the right time would soon be here. That measured time. But first, a digression.

I’ve made quilts for most (as many as I can) friends and family who have babies. Once I was expecting my first baby, my mom asked if she could make me a baby quilt. I of course replied I would be delighted if she did. So we raided my fabric stash together.

She chose a simple square patchwork design that complemented the beautiful fabrics. I love the scrappy feel of the patchwork!

And because how could I resist, here’s our little lady on the quilt. Later, my mom returned all the fabric to me that she didn’t use. When I looked at it, the first thought that struck me was noticing the beautiful green, turquoise, gray and orange palette. The second thought that struck me, was naturally, those colors would make a beautiful quilt!

I started and finished this quilt in the two weeks leading up to my little girl being born. If she hadn’t arrived one week late I wouldn’t have finished it. We liked to joke that she was giving me time to make one last quilt.

This Score, #4 Patchwork Doodle, invites you to take a shape, repeat it, add another, build off that block, add in another, and keep going like that. Like doodling!

Because I was just doing a small bit each day, and because each day the patchwork was slightly different, and mostly because I was existing in a strange time warp of when will baby come, I started a daily post of progress on Instagram.

Without realizing it, I had given friends a way to keep track of me. Each day I posted a progress shot, they knew baby wasn’t here yet.

Each day the blocks grew and changed and the rows on my design board grew. I kept expecting baby to come and the quilt put away, but she didn’t come and we kept stitching.

It was fun to start sewing up a block for no other reason than I felt like stitching that block that day.

Lets add more triangles, I’d think, and so we did. And without me realizing it, one morning I went to sew more blocks and when I looked at the top, I realized it was done.

For quilting, I decided on a meandering line, mimicking topographic lines. I thought of my soon to be born nephew and the adventures he would have.

And in the nick of time, the quilt was done, ready to be mailed off, and all I needed to do was rest before baby arrived.


What surprised me?

I remember thinking at the beginning, how will I come up with new blocks to add? How will I think of them? And then once I was in the moment, it was no trouble at all, ideas just kept coming to me.

What did I discover or learn?

I learned how to sew some of the techniques shared in the book to deal with puckers and excess fabric. Once I had a few blocks together things didn’t always lay flat so I learned to dart and adjust seams.

What was satisfying about the process or outcome?

I really enjoyed having my design board out to look at each day. When I wasn’t sewing I was contemplating and pondering what would come next.

What was dissatisfying?

The quilted topo lines didn’t quite turn out as I had imagined.

If dissatisfied, what can I do differently next time to be more satisfied?

In a way at this point I was rushing, so to have it be more satisfied, I think I could have taken the time to sketch out what I imagined, maybe even chalking some drawn lines as a guide on the quilt top.

Where do I want to go from here?

My world has been completely turned upside down since finishing this quilt, in only the best of ways. I hope I can be present in the moment where I am, knowing I will return to quilting some day. And at that point I can bring my new experiences to my craft. And make more baby quilts. Try a few more scores. Maybe make a score for a second or third time.

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Quilts for Twins

When my girlfriend had twins I thought this posed a neat challenge for baby quilts. Of course first off I knew I would need to make two blankets. I imagined them being similar and distinct. And I knew I wanted to continue to try new scores from the Improv Handbook. So I went shopping in my stash.

I was also inspired by my girlfriends Japanese heritage and her love of the color red. I pulled fabrics for two quilts at the same time, the colors complementary and unique.

The first quilt I followed Score#5 Rhythmic Grid. I auditioned fabrics to check for value and contrast, deciding how I wanted to build my squares.

There is so much I love about this kind of quilting. How beautiful fabrics can be featured and combined. How quickly the blocks start to come together. How freeing it is to not measure and make decisions in the moment.

This top was pieced last summer while I was on break between jobs. Winston was my trusty companion for my staycation.

While I didn’t measure, this score was unique in building off each previous row, aligning key intersections. Here I’m adding the edge borders.

For the second of the twins quilts, I chose to follow the Score #2 Strings.

I divided my fabric selections into three groups, two bright and one dark, and then cut each into strips.

The strips then got pieced together randomly, giving me three large panels of pieced fabric.

I then cut each into skinnier columns, and pieced those into the final top.

I must have pictures of the completed quilts somewhere (on a camera SD card perhaps?). The second string quilt was completed last spring. With the twins first birthday fast approaching, I had extra motivation to finish!

It was such a joy to receive the following pictures from my girlfriend when she received the quilts.


What surprised me?

It was such a pleasure to make two quilts at the same time. Pulling two sets of fabric from the same inspiration but making them different was a fun creative exercise.

What did I discover or learn?

It can be hard with all life’s competing wants to get a baby quilt done before the baby is born. I completed these a few months shy of their first birthday. Instead of being late, I think they arrived at the perfect time. How wonderful for my friend and her family to continue to feel loved and supported through all the months of raising little ones.

What was satisfying about the process or outcome?

It is such a joy to not know where the quilt is headed and to just go with it. Each step felt like an exploration to find out what would happen next. This kept the excitement high, similar to solving a mystery!

What was dissatisfying?

I made a couple of color choices I wasn’t thrilled about.

If dissatisfied, what can I do differently next time to be more satisfied?

By the second quilt I had noted what I didn’t like and was already practicing making different choices.

Where do I want to go from here?

I really enjoy baby quilts as the object to try scores on. They are small enough to complete quickly, are fun to use beautiful fabrics, and make heartfelt gifts! I think making baby quilts improv will be my new go to.

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Among my family and friends, I am so blessed to get to help welcome into the world many little ones! I love giving a baby blanket to each little.


I remember starting this quilt back in winter, when snow piled up outside and storms raged. The outside temps are quite different now, but I was lucky to have some free time to finish up the quilt this summer.


I love using printed fabrics for baby quilts, with all the cute and modern prints available now! I made simple large rectangles for the front, and used some bicycle fabric for the back, as Zylvanio’s parents love to ride bikes.


For quilting, I did a cursive loopy line. I picked a bright green-blue fabric for binding. I love the feeling of pulling the freshly washed quilt out of the dryer! It’s so crinkly and soft. Perfect for baby!


I promptly shipped off the quilt, and was so pleased when mom shared of video of baby Zyl hanging out on the quilt. Love! I can’t wait to meet Zylvanio myself. In the meantime, there are a few more little ones who will be arriving in the next year. Time to play with more fabric!

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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.


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!

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.

Famous last words. Skipping steps never speeds things up, and I discovered a number of bumps on the fabric backing. *sigh*

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!

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.

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.

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.
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.
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.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the black edge border, I chose to do a fan pattern. I freehand drew it with chalk and then stitched.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?


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.


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!


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.


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!


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.


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


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.


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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