Archive for the ‘Ocean Waves’ Category

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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Stitching the Waves

Almost every evening, I sew on my Ocean Waves quilt. I have it in a basket next to our couch, ready to pull onto my lap, with a little bag of thread, needle, thimble and scissors.


Right now, we are enjoying the show Hell on Wheels, and I stitch away while transported back in time. In about a 45 minute show, I can sew around nine triangles. Just recently, I switched to a new needle, as I noticed my previous needle started to bend and be curved from all the use.


I tried a quilting hoop with a stand, hoping it would help with my posture and back pain from sitting too much. I didn’t really like it, as it was awkward to use and move the huge quilt around. Instead, I’ve switched to a very small quilting hoop, which means I need to move it every three triangles, but the small diameter means I don’t hunch curved over it as much.


For every triangle, I am stitching a quarter inch triangle smaller inside. I can do about three triangles for each thread length, before I need to knot and re-thread.

IMG_1893 For the black squares, I chose a sashiko pattern from a Japanese quilting book I have, of three waves cresting in a circle. I made a cardboard stencil of the pattern to transfer it to the black fabric when I am ready to quilt.


The chalk holds up relatively well while sewing, not disappearing and staying long enough for me to quilt around all the lines.


I was somewhat shocked when I realized I hadn’t posted about my Ocean Waves since December 2012. Yikes! I thought it was time to share what I’ve been up to, and I was curious to get a sense for how much quilting is left to do. I hung the quilt on our clothes line and enjoyed taking some pictures today.


Every night, as I quilt only a few triangles, I wasn’t really sure how far along I was. I’m nearing the edge, and had the sense I was getting close, but how close? If you can imagine the quilt continuing to the top, instead of hanging over the clothes line, I have one row of triangles and black squares along the left long edge and top edge. Then after that, I have the black border to do. I think I can safely say I’m over half way there!

progress so far

It was also a treat to get to get a sense for how the stitching is going to look when it is all done. I picked the patterns with a specific hope and look in mind, and am just now getting to see their effect.


The circle wave sits simply in the black square, surrounded by swirling triangles.

IMG_8672I am happy with the look of the triangles too, the dense stitching creates a textured effect that is just wonderful.

IMG_8681Here’s from the back, I hand dyed some fabric, and I think the variation adds interest while still allowing the stitch pattern to shine through.









I still have two different sized small black triangles to fill, they fit in at various parts along the edge of the quilt. And to decide on the stitching for the black border. I have some ideas in mind! But that will be the next post. Time to get stitching!



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In a burst of enthusiasm tonight, I grabbed my hoop and lay out the quilt to begin quilting.

IMG_4628I’m still pondering my black squares – yes a wave – brilliant! But I can begin to quilt the triangles. Remember there are more than one thousand!


A little rusty, it’s been a while, I threaded my needle, put on my thimble, and began to sew. A little awkwardly at first, I imagine it is what it might be like riding a bicycle for the first time in a while, I slowly picked up speed and confidence, wielding my needle more expertly after a few triangles.


I think the thread color I chose is going to work perfectly, blending and contrasting with the many blues of the quilt. One episode of New Girl got me through nine triangles. A good start!


This is a historic moment, you know. I’m sure sewing triangles will become so ordinary I won’t even think to take pictures. For now, I’ll enjoy the novelty of the moment, reveling in the texture and pattern the quilting creates. Isn’t it lovely?

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Under the Sea

This morning I jumped out of bed, excited to baste the three layers of my ocean quilt together. I had arranged with a friend to borrow his living room for the morning, on account of the size and lack of furry animals there.


The first step was laying out the backing fabric, a dark blue I hand dyed. I lay out over that the batting, a nice cotton batting I purchased at our local craft shop. Over that, I lay the much labored over Ocean Waves pieced top. It took a few tries to get flat as the grain of the fabric in the many pieced triangles made the overall grain of the quilt wonky. Once happy with the three layers, I began to pin.

I have a large pile of pins from previous quilts, my favorite method of basting. Armed with an audio book as well, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, I began to pin, spacing out about six inches between pins. This is a bit wider I think then I’ve done in the past, since I had a lot of pins left at the end, so it will be interesting to see how all the layers hold up over time. Hopefully with no shifting!


Rolling up the quilt into a sandwich to transport home, I returned the living room furniture to its original position and began thinking of the next step with anticipation – the quilting!


The quilting thread I ordered – a soft gray blue – already arrived in the mail. I know for the borders I want to quilt in a waving fan pattern, for the triangles I want to outline their shape with straight stitching, but what about the black squares? Traditional Amish quilting has these blocks quilted often with a feather circle. So far my choices are very traditional, so it would follow and fit that I do that too. But the feather circles aren’t calling to me. What would you quilt in the black squares?

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And, the ocean waves quilt top is pieced!

After I dyed the fabric last weekend for the skinny blue border, I got to cutting and piecing.

I chose a skinny border, of two inches, to start the borders around the pieced ocean waves. When cutting borders, you don’t want to piece the fabric together, aesthetically, it looks best when the long skinny strip is unbroken. So even though I only needed a piece about 2in by 80in, I had to dye 3 yards of fabric.

Of course, when I went to put three yards of white fabric in the wash before dyeing, I had only two yards left on my bolt! Living where I live, there was no chance of popping over to the store to purchase more. What to do? Call Margaret! She promptly brought over bolt of fabric, and generously left it with me, asking me to simply replace what I use. How great to have such a giving quilter friend here!

Over the course of our visit together, I shared with Margaret the finished pieced top before borders, and we got to chatting about what colors to make the borders. Originally I had thought a light blue skinny border, and a dark blue outer border. As I looked at the quilt though, I had the thought that the black boxes would pop out too much. The entire quilt is dyed fabric except for the black boxes. It is hard to dye a brilliant dark black, and so I chose to go with store bought fabric so the black would shine more brilliantly. So now my black was shining, but how to tone it down so the black squares weren’t floating in space? Make the final border black to bring it all together. Processing and sharing with a friend is so helpful!

And so here it is. Today was our first truly cold day of fall, and last night all the leaves dropped from the trees, covering our yard in a yellow gold carpet. I was quite happy to hole up inside with my cup of darjeeling tea, finishing sewing and pressing the borders.

What’s next? I have the backing fabric sitting in a pot dyeing. I have the batting needing to be measured and cut and pieced together. I need to order thread for hand quilting. I’m thinking a light blue color thread, to make the design pop. I need to lay out and pin the three layers together. And then the quilting!

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As you know, the Ocean Waves quilt top is pieced.

This weekend, I’d like to dye enough fabric to sew the borders and line the back. First, I needed to calculate how much fabric I needed for the borders.

Then, once I figured out my pieces and amount of fabric needed, I chose which color to use and how much dye is needed.

I chose a light blue for a skinny two inch border, a dark blue for the wider eight inch border, and a chocolate brown for the backing fabric. The finished quilt will be around 90 x 100 inches!

I have been drawn lately to what I think looks like rolling hills or waving grass pattern. Looking through my book on Amish quilt patterns, I saw that many of the Amish quilts use this pattern in their borders. They call it a fan.

Instead of limiting myself to the borders, I’m thinking of continuing this pattern across the entire quilt. It could be the rolling grassland oak hills of California, superimposed on the wild ocean waters of the Pacific Ocean.

We’ll see! Just a glimpse into what’s brews in my mind. Will share pics at the end of the weekend of the finished pieced quilt!

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