Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

I’ve been stitching together some pillows. Pillows make great small projects for trying out a quilt block, using up scraps, or just the satisfaction of completing a project. I’ve made three pillow projects in the last couple of weeks to give as gifts.

My purple string blocks, back a couple of posts, were made into an 18-inch pillow cover as a wedding gift for my nephew. I like to make the pillows with openings in the back, so that the cover can be removed and cleaned. Here is the finished pillow.

Purple String Pillow

Purple String Pillow

I also made a 16-inch pillow cover from string blocks using woodland fabrics. The fabrics are leftover strips from other projects that I save in small totes. I just sort out colors that fit with my theme and make the string blocks. This pillow top is also for a wedding gift for a co-worker. Unfortunately, I have a habit of finishing gifts at the last-minute and forget to snap pictures of the finished project before gifting. Here is the finished top before adding the back.

Woodland String pillow top

Woodland String pillow top

Over the last two days, I completed a third pillow. This one is a wedding gift for another co-worker. Her favorite color is aqua, which is a limited color in my fabric stash. Being frugal, I decided to use some fabric scraps, adding in a few other shades of blue. I picked up a yard of fabric for the backing at Wal-mart. This time, I didn’t make string blocks. The scraps included several 3-1/2 inch and 5-inch blocks cut up from other projects following the Scraptherapy process for using up your stash by Joan Ford. I also found an online tutorial on how to make a flange pillow edging. Although the tutorial suggested inserting a zipper in the back, I chose to make my usual cover with an opening.

Aqua Flange Pillow

Aqua Flange Pillow

Here is a look at the back.

Flange pillow back

Flange pillow back

As you can see, there is an opening across the entire back of the pillow. The edges have a 1-inch double fold hem and the two pieces overlap each other about seven inches. The pillow form can easily be removed and the pillow top laundered.

It feels great to finish these projects, since they have put other quilt projects on hold. I’ll put these pillows into gift bags with a little tissue paper and get back to piecing a challenge quilt that is due soon.

Enjoy!

The American Quilt Study Group has self-published a book on their 2014 Civil War quilt study. Titled, In War Time: A Study of Civil War Era Quilts 1850 – 1865, the book features all 50 of the study quilts that were displayed at the 2014 AQSG Seminar along with photos of the inspiration quilts and the written statements. I am excited to get my copy of the book, since I participated in the quilt study and had my Rose of Sharon quilt on display at the 2014 Seminar.

In War Time

AQSG 2014 Quilt Study book

On display at Bay Heritage Quilter's Guild April 2015 quilt show.

Rose of Sharon quilt on display at Bay Heritage Quilter’s Guild April 2015 quilt show.

Studying quilts and quilt history brings to light our past, uniquely telling the stories of women. Facts and myths about American quilt history proliferate in the quilting world, and studying quilts aids historians in recognizing those stories that are merely fiction. The DAR Museum in Washington DC has an exhibit on display until September 5th, Eye on Elegance: Early Quilts of Maryland and Virginia that debunks some of those myths. Mary Fons put out a Fireside Chat on a recent Quilty episode busting five common myths related to American quilting. Check it out here.

One myth is the idea that quilts were used to direct slaves North on the Underground Railroad (UGRR). In fact, many of you reading this sentence may get angry, scoff at the comment, or even stop reading this post altogether just for me stating that line. But, anyone interested in finding the truth will seek out reliable sources of information. I wondered about the idea when I first read Jennifer Chiaverini‘s fictional story, The Runaway Quilt, published in April 2003. In 2005, I was in Atlanta, Georgia walking through Underground Atlanta in the Five Points district when a sign caught my attention that directed passer-bys to an UGRR quilt show. The steps lead into an antique shop that featured an historical display of quilts, pictures, and stories advocating a quilt code used on the Underground Railroad. None of what I read convinced me that the stories verified a quilt code. After returning home, I researched the topic and found much more information on both sides of the aisle. Hidden in Plain View, authored by historians Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard, brought to light the idea of an UGRR quilt code. However, as any historian will tell you, history is constantly being retold as information is studied that brings new facts to bear on topics.

I’m not trying to convince any of my readers to change their minds, but hope that anyone truly interested in quilt history would search out the facts by studying the topic. I see so much of the quilt code myth being used to market quilting, whether through a book, fabric sales, or a quilt shop club. Some good resources to encourage study include noted quilt historian Barbara Brackman’s many published books, and her historical blogs here and hereHart Cottage Quilts also has a reliable website with an extensive look at the topic of quilts and the UGRR.

Book by Barbara Brackman

I hope that some of you ameteur historians, like me, will check out the AQSG website and the book on the recent quilt study. And delve into the topic of quilts and the UGRR for yourself.

Enjoy…

String blocks are fun to make and use up scraps. I pulled several purple strips from my scrap bins, along with some white and greens for accent. I made sixteen 5-inch blocks, stitching the strings diagonally across a muslin base. I like to use the muslin, although you can piece the block without it. I like the clean look on the back of the pieced blocks.

Purple String 2

I’ve alternated the direction of the blocks to create square designs within the piece. It will measure 18″ X 18″, perfect for a throw pillow; part of a wedding gift for my nephew and his finace.

I plan to participate in the Cozy Afternoon BOM by Jacquelynne Steves.

CozyAfternoonBOMSidebarButton150pix

Her designs are so cheerful. The first two block patterns were released today and I haven’t even picked out my fabric. I plan to create the applique blocks. There’s still time to sign up; just click on the button to the right.

The National Quilting Association quilt show begins soon in Little Rock, AK. I entered the SewBatik Challenge again this year. Although I will not be attending, I am excited to see pictures from the show. I won’t be able to share pictures of my challenge quilt until some time in the future, since I neglected to take pictures before shipping if off to the show. It will travel as an exhibit over the next year, so no chance of seeing it anytime soon.

Now to finish my pillow project. What have you been stitching up lately?

Happy Quilting!

I enjoy quilt shows and putting my own quilts into shows. The Bay Heritage Quilter’s Guild show was this past week-end. I entered my Rose of Sharon applique quilt made for the American Quilt Study Group 2014 Civil War quilt study. Quilters could choose to have their quilt judged.

Rose of Sharon by Pamela Koppleberger

Rose of Sharon by Pamela Koppleberger

Many quilters shy away from having quilts judged. Many quilters do not feel that their work is good enough to put into a show, let alone have it judged. However, judging is a great way to find out what part of the quilting process you are good at and what part you can improve upon. The judge’s comment sheet from this show stated at the bottom, “This critique is intended to help you improve your quilting skills. Please use it as a learning experience, remembering that the finished quilt was judged, not the quiltmaker. Thank you for entering your quilt!”

You may have noticed a red ribbon on my quilt. I was fortunate to receive a second place ribbon in the Mixed or Applique, Individual, Machine Quilted category. There were twelve categories and seven additional awards, including Best of Show. Having lots of categories gives entrants more of a chance to receive recognition.

Check out this overhead view of the quilt show, followed by a few pics of my favorite quilts.

Overhead View2 Overhead View4

Courthouse Steps by Carol Collins

Courthouse Steps by Carol Collins

100 Year Quilt by Nona Simnitch of Frankenmuth

100 Year Quilt by Nona Simnitch of Frankenmuth, a good quilt friend of mine

Butternut and Blue by Nancy L. House of Harrison

Butternut and Blue by Nancy L. House

Cathedral Window by Lois Reminder

Cathedral Window by Lois Reminder

Circle Dance by Eleanor Henning

Circle Dance by Eleanor Henning

Primitive Gatherings by Kay Vink

Primitive Gatherings by Kay Vink

We Find the Defendant Quilty by Laura Patterson

We Find the Defendant Quilty by Laura Patterson

This last quilt was my pick for Viewer’s Choice. It was totally stitched by hand. Here are a couple more up close pictures.

We Find the Defendant Quilty blocks We Find the Defendant Quilty quilting

I hope that you enjoyed my quilt show post. There are lots of quilt shows springing up and I hope that you’ll have the chance to attend a few.

Happy Stitching…

My two sisters, one older and one younger, get together on a Saturday and sew every couple of months. In the past, it involved travelling to one of our homes and setting up space for sewing, cutting and ironing. We live close, within a few blocks of each other. Whoever is hostess plans lunch and the other sisters bring a salad or dessert.

Last November, we decided to find a larger space to sew and invite our friends and family to enjoy the time with us. I reserved the fellowship area of my church and asked everyone to bring something for a potluck lunch. The extra space allows us to spread out our quilts, making it easier to plan a layout, machine quilt or bind a finished quilt. Our second event was in January with even more ladies getting involved. My younger sister created a Facebook Group – Sisters in Quilting – and the word continues to spread to local crafters. In March, we planned an event on National Quilting Day. All types of crafters are invited and we had eleven ladies attend, including quilters, knitters, a crocheter, a beader, and a sewist.

At the event, I finished adding the binding for a block exchange quilt I finally had quilted in January. The blocks were made with dotty fabrics and we exchanged six blocks: a dog, cat, tree, house, star, and chicken. I used the thirty blocks to make two twin-size quilts. This is the second of the two quilts, finished with brown & pink fabrics for sashing and a piano key border.

Brown & Pink Dotty Quilt

Brown & Pink Dotty Quilt

I really enjoy stitching with my sisters. Our next Saturday sewing day is at the end of May. I’m already planning what I will bring to sew.

Happy stitching!

Challenge Quilt

I started a new quilt project. Unfortunately, I cannot show you any pics of the progress. As a member of the American Quilt Study Group, I am participating in the Past & Present Circa 1825 Challenge.

I purchased fabrics for this project in the fall. They are from the Circa 1825 fabric collection by Sharon Yenter and Jason Yenter for In the Beginning fabrics. Below are pics of fabrics from the collection. They are lovely prints. I have chosen the large floral fabric as a central block and designed a medallion style quilt around it.

Here are more of the lovely fabrics.

Designing a quilt can be challenging. I tend to have several ideas jumbled together in my brain. When I finally take the time to sketch out a design, I use traditional graph paper and pencil. As the pattern takes shape, I am able to determine the dimensions of the quilt and quilt blocks. Sometimes, I plan in advance and purchase the fabric needed. In this case, I planned the design after purchasing the fabric. Now the trick is to make the quilt with yardage from at least eight of the fabrics that I purchased.

If you haven’t participated in a challenge, you should give it a try. Guilds, fabric companies, and bloggers offer opportunities to get involved.

Happy Stitching!

My previous post displayed my National Quilting Association Block of the Month quilt top with sashing added. I have since added the inside and outside borders. I cut the black outside borders on the straight grain of the fabric. I don’t usually do this, but had adequate fabric to make the borders without seams. Having the straight grain along the edge will keep the quilt edges from stretching while being quilted. The finished size is 76 X 90.

BOM with Borders

This side view captures a better view of the quilt. Following are additional pictures for your viewing pleasure.

NQA BOM1

Top to bottom view.

NQA BOM top corner

Titled: Galaxy – top right corner.

Closeup of Corner

Signature block in bottom right corner.

I hope all of you are enjoying happy finishes. Now off to the longarmer for the quilting.

Enjoy!

 

Have you planned a layout for a sampler quilt and had difficulty keeping the blocks properly arranged while sewing them together? Or, have you changed your layout and realized later that your rearrangement placed identical blocks next to each other? Well, that’s where I am with my NQA BOM quilt. I initially completed ten blocks, one for each month of the BOM. After viewing the layout, I decided to make the 20-block quilt and produced a second block of each design. Some of the blocks are identical, using up the extra strips of fabric cut for the first block, while other blocks use completely different fabrics. After my sister helped me plan the layout, I carefully stacked and pinned the blocks together into rows and put them aside for awhile.

Here was the initial block arrangement.

Here was the initial block arrangement.

I stitched together the sashing strips with stitch and flip corner triangles, making friendship stars in the cornerstones. Some of these sashing strips have one triangle, while others have a triangle on each end of the strip. As I began sewing the blocks and sashing together, I made the mistake of sewing a single triangle sashing on upside down. Rather than unsew, I decided to flip the block over and move it one position to the right – Mistake #1. T the corner block was made from the same fabric as the star I re-positioned, so I moved the block to the bottom row of the quilt. But, as you may guess, I noticed another odd arrangement, and thus began a multiple block and switch. It wasn’t until I finished stitching all the blocks together and returned to look at the quilt top the next day, that I noticed the two checkerboard stars stitched next to each other. You may also notice that two other identical blocks are diagonal from each other on the left side.

Close-up of identical blocks next to each other.

Close-up of identical blocks next to each other.

I had other issues while putting together the blocks. One of the star blocks used the the red fabric as the background and created a white star. As mentioned, the fabric for the friendship stars in the sashing is also used in the quilt blocks – Mistake #2. When I stitched the sashing strip together next to the star with the red background, it created a red blob. I had to replace that friendship star with one from a different fabric – more unsewing. I stitched the rows of sashing strips to the bottom of each row of sashed star blocks. Mistake #3 – After stitching together row one and two, I realized that I had stitched the sashing to the top of the row, thus the blocks were backwards – more unsewing. With all of the unsewing and resewing, no wonder I have misarranged blocks.

Aerial view

Aerial view

Here is an overhead view of the quilt blocks stitched together with sashing. I really don’t want to unsew anymore of this quilt. I would rather put my efforts into other quilts and have more finishes. This quilt will be for my personal use and having a perfectly pieced quilt is not that important in the scheme of life. Now to add the inside and outside borders.

Hopefully you don’t experience as many struggles with your piecing as I did in this quilt. But, if you do, don’t give up. And, don’t try to be perfect with everything. Sometimes, finishing a quilt is the most important thing.

Happy Stitching!

I have been on a hiatus without a post since mid-October. I decided that the part of my life that I commit to quilting was using too much time for blogging – reading and writing. I haven’t been to my feedly account either. Although, I follow a few blogs via email, so I haven’t been totally out of the blogosphere. What I have been doing is using my time to quilt.

I'm currently working on putting these blocks together.

I’m currently stitching these blocks together.

Blogging became a way for me to document my quilting, but I want to be sure that it includes the important stuff, not just anything I do. I follow blogs to connect with other quilters, but decided I needed to downsize and only follow what would provide the most benefit for me as a quilter, as well as, staying up with the latest going on in the quilt world.

My sister & I began an online BOM together called Sew Sweet Simplicity - this is block #1.

My sister & I began an online BOM together called Sew Sweet Simplicity – this is block #1.

I have been more selective in what to attend, listen to and read. Some of my must-dos are listening to Pat Sloan’s weekly online radio show. TimQuilts is a regular read. My two sisters and I decided to start up a regular sewing day and invite family and friends to join us. We have had two events already, with a third planned for National Quilting Day. I even downsized my organization memberships, dropping two and planning to eliminate another when the membership comes up for renewal this year. And, I organized my quilting room over the holidays, so I find I can step into my space and work on a project without sorting through stacks of stuff or clearing an area to work.

I finished all my felt ornaments for the Advent Calendars.

I finished all 25 wool ornaments for both Advent Calendars.

More Wool Ornaments

Obviously my new priorities began before the new year, and I continue to streamline the quilting part of my life. My future objective is to keep the clutter out of the way and focus on those aspects of quilting that are most meaningful. Part of that is regaining time for blogging, so that I can continue to document, interact, and enjoy this craft that I have been doing for the last 35 years. I hope that you will follow along with me as I redirect my quilting journey.

Happy Stitching…

My two sisters and I collaborated on another baby quilt to commemorate the birth of our great-niece. Even though we live close to one another, it can be challenging to work on a project together. We each have our own activities and projects on which to work. But, we break the project down into manageable tasks.

I love making baby quilts and found a cute pattern, Tangerine Zoo, designed by Brandi Frey, in Fons & Porter’s Scrap Quilts Summer 2012. The quilt has nine Dresdan plate blocks with fussy cut zoo animal patches in the center. The pattern used a fabric with an orange background, thus the name “Tangerine” Zoo. I had a fabric with zoo animals in a light green color. We each contributed bright colored fat quarters from our stash to audition. After selecting fabrics, my oldest sister & I took them home to cut out and stitch up the Dresdan plates.

About every month or so, we get together to sew and used this time to work on the Dresdan Zoo quilt. Some of you may have followed the progress in previous blog posts HERE, HERE, and HERE. At this time, I was taking a class on Craftsy on how to make creative quilt backs by Elizabeth Hartman. I used this information to make the quilt back and posted about it HERE. The quilt was now ready for the final quilting stitches.

Enter my younger sister, who has recently begun quilting and taken a fancy for machine quilting. She has always been creative and enjoyed drawing. To her, free motion quilting (FMQ) is like drawing on fabric. She is the resident quilter for our collaboration quilts, but was in the process of quilting two other quilts for her grandchildren. That left the quilt in limbo for several months.

Last month, she finished the quilting and the binding was added. Today, I am adding the quilt label. The sunshine was bright and the weather beautiful, so I spent time outside snapping photographs to document our second quilt collaboration. Here are several different angles and close-ups for you to enjoy.

Dresdan Zoo Baby Quilt

Dresdan Zoo Baby Quilt

A sidelong view of the quilt

A sidelong view of the quilt

Close-up of blocks

Close-up of blocks

Alligator Block

Alligator Block

Hippo Block

Hippo Block

Pieced Back

Pieced Back

Close-up of Quilting on Back

Close-up of Quilting from Back

Dresdan Zoo on Rail

Dresdan Zoo on Rail

The quilt will be sent off to our niece in California, who is not expecting it. But, her brother was the recipient of our first baby quilt collaboration, so it will be a nice surprise when she receives it.

Next up…a bowtie baby quilt for my nephew, my oldest sister’s son. He has a baby son born earlier this summer. We’ve already sewn together the blocks and laid them out in a pattern. My older sister and I are going on a retreat next week-end, where we will finish stitching the blocks together. Then, off to my baby sister for the final quilting touches. And…there’s a wedding on the horizon, so we’ve been talking about collaborating on a wedding quilt.

Happy Quilting!

P.S. I’d love to hear what you think of the photography. I am not a professional, not by a long shot. But, I have been reading up on photography, took a lecture at AQS Grand Rapids, listened to a photography webinar, and had a lengthy conversation with a photographer friend at work. I have been playing around with my digital camera settings and feel that these pictures show the colors of the quilt well. I even think I implemented the rule of thirds into the shots. I’d love to hear your feedback.

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