Random Block Christmas Quilt

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Random block Christmas quiltThis was an easy and fun quilt. (Just like they’re all supposed to be!) And it was made entirely from my stash.

I had a jelly roll of Moda Christmas fabric and a jelly roll of Kona winter white cotton. I sewed a strip of Christmas fabric to a strip of white, then cut them into 2.5 inch pieces.

Because the colors were so random, I knew that it would take me forever to design the quilt. So I threw all of the pieces into a pillowcase and pulled them out one at a time. I sewed the 2-patches into 4-patches and threw the completed 4-patches back into the pillowcase. I kept sewing patches together until the quilt was finished. As a result, the design of the quilt was totally random. I used white thread and quilted it in a simple meandering pattern.

Overall I think the quilt looks beautiful and has a very fresh and youthful design. And I loved that I didn’t stress over the design!

 

 

Modern Clock Quilt

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Clock crop 1I made this quilt as an entry for QuiltCon 2015. (It was not accepted, so don’t look for it in Austin!) The quilt was made for the minimalist design category.

I made it over two days using 2.5 inch black and white strips from my stash. It took quite a bit of planning to make the black blocks symmetrical and I admit that I called on my engineer husband for technical support.

This was my first time doing a circle quilt and it was really fun. I used pre-made bias binding to make binding easier. The quilt is 29″ in diameter. I did use two layers of batting and the black parts are actually trapunto.

Let’s just say that I had a great time creating this quilt (pardon the pun!).

 

Indepedence Day Wall Hanging

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Veronica QuiltMy son’s girlfriend loves history. I wanted to make her something that was history-related and could be used to decorate her classroom when she becomes a teacher.

I had a collection of Americana fabric, including a panel which duplicated the Declaration of Independence.

I know that this project does not look like it took a lot of design, but it took me a week or so to figure it out.I wanted to do something fancier, such as incorporate pieces of the Declaration into blocks, but that felt a bit unpatriotic. I had a lot of Americana fabric that I wanted to use, but it made everything too busy.

It ended up that I just used the panel, made a border out of red fabric, and added the upper and lower borders from another panel. The eagle is fused.

I decided to do very simple quilting that didn’t detract from the panel. So I used my star-shaped templates and quilted it on my longarm in a neutral colored thread.

If the design was a problem, the quilting was worse. It should have been denser and the stars ended up being too messy looking.

The “highlight” was sewing a stitch through my fingertip with my longarm. My finger has a couple of puncture wounds, but I’m okay.

This is one of those project that was made with love, but didn’t turn out nearly as well as I hoped. At this point, I’m not sure if I’ll even give it to her.

 

 

Happy Canada Day!

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Canadian Fabric

Part of my collection of Canadian fabric.

Many of you know that I am originally from Canada. My husband and I moved to the United States more than 20 years ago. All of our families still live in Ontario, Canada. However both of my children were born in the United States.

If you’re unfamiliar with Canada Day, here’s the scoop. This national holiday celebrates Canada’s birthday in 1867. According to Wikipedia, Canada Day commemorates the joining of the British North American colonies (the current provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec) into the kingdom of Canada. (England kept parliamentary control over Canada until the Constitution Act was passed in 1982.)

Several years ago, when my oldest was almost ready to graduate from high school, I finally got around to applying for my kids’ Canadian citizenship. (Just FYI, it was a whole lot faster for me to get American citizenship than to register my children as “Canadian Citizens Born Abroad.”)

As a quilter, I wanted to make my son and daughter each a quilt to acknowledge their Canadian roots. The problem was that no nice fabric was available. Thankfully Northcott has since released three fabric lines called Stonehenge Oh Canada, which I have been collecting each time I visit Canada. (I have not yet purchased anything from Oh Canada III, which has just been released.)

As you can see, I haven’t started making the quilts yet. Frankly I  might just keep buying fabric, because I think it’s really beautiful. Given that it took Canada more than 100 years to become a sovereign nation, I doubt anyone can criticize me if it takes a few more years to make these quilts.

 

One thing I hate about quilting

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I’m sure you all have immaculate sewing rooms and can’t relate to what I’m going to say. But I’ll confess and let you feel superior to me. You’re welcome!

I absolutely HATE when I end up with thread that gets tangled around my foot. It’s starts off as a 2 or 3 inch tail of thread and magically grows to be several feet long. And then I start walking and and hear a bobbin unwinding as I move. Pretty soon I am unknowingly dragging thread throughout the house.

This also happens when I’m cleaning. I’ll get thread caught around one of my treasures and have to do a major untangling before I can move forward. If I was a person who enjoyed puzzles, finding the source of the thread might be fun. I just find it annoying.

Looking around my sewing room, I have thread tails hanging out of two drawers and overhanging from one shelf. Maybe this is a sign I should clean up my sewing room instead of writing a blog post.

Does anybody else have this problem?

American Made Fabric (and Challenge)

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http://americanmadebrand.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/amb_circle-logo.jpg?w=238&h=250I can’t remember a time when a new quilt fabric line created such a buzz in the industry. Even though I’ve taken a long break from blogging (which will be covered in the next post), I wanted to share this with y’all.

We have a new American-made line of solid fabrics. The fabrics are grown in the U.S., as well as spun and manufactured here. Yup. The whole process. You can read their story here. I first heard about this line of fabrics from a quilter friend. Now, the buzz is everywhere and I just learned that our local quilt shop has purchased the entire line of fabrics. (Way to go, Pieceful Quilting.)

Even more fun is the fact they’ve created a Farm to Fabric Challenge. Registration must be completed by August 15th.

As someone whose been recently challenged to find time for quilting, I know that challenges are a great way to get inspired to start — and actually finish — a project. I’m pretty sure I’m going to enter myself and I’d love for some of my readers to enter too.

The quilt that nobody loved

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The scrap quilt project … rejected by me and sewn by my mother.

This is a sad story with a happy ending.

It began at a quilt retreat about 3 years ago. The project was to create a mystery quilt, which turned out to be a scrap quilt. Instead of getting a kit of brand new fabrics, the quilt shop staff had been asked to donate their scraps. Many of these scraps, we all recognized, were from discount shops and not good quality fabric. Since I’m too much of a control freak to enjoy mystery quilts, I hadn’t planned to do the project anyway. So this sad bag of scraps and instructions found its way where most castoff’s do … to my mother’s house.

Now my mom is a great quilter and she did a wonderful job making the top. But I felt guilty asking her to quilt it, so it made the trek (once again) from Canada to the United States, where it waited for 18 months for me to put it on the longarm machine. I was dreading doing the quilting. I’m a pretty funky quilter and my mom is a traditionalist — plus I really hated the quilt — so I had no idea what to do. Finally I settled on a pretty pantograph of maple leafs, which I thought would add some texture to the design.

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Here’s my husband’s first attempt at un-quilting, as he helped me with a 20-hour rip-out project. Thanks, honey!

I was too embarrassed to take pictures of the pantographs. Let’s just say they were a big mistake. I hadn’t used a pantograph for a couple of years and my lines were atrocious. By the time I was one-third of the way through the quilt, I’d determined that I wasn’t getting any better. With my husband’s help, we spent 20 hours ripping out those darn stitches.

The quilt is now finished and it looks fine. I even sort of like it. I used a star template for the larger white blocks and did a freehand loopy design over the rest of the squares. Hopefully someone will love this quilt, because it’s certainly had a tough beginning!

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Here’s the background. Isn’t it perfect for hiding errors? However, trying to pick out black threads on this background was almost impossible. I guess that’s why you’re supposed to do things right the first time!

The dreaded phonecall

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TKE2Those of you who have kids in college will remember the dreaded phone call. You know the one: “Mom, I want to join a fraternity.”

In our house, the call came a few months ago.

I admit that I didn’t know a whole lot about fraternities, especially since I grew up in Canada and they weren’t that popular. I had, however, watched many movies such as “Animal House” and knew that “fraternity” was synonymous with “excessive drinking.”

I was also very aware of the hazing process. My son took that in stride. “Don’t worry, mom,” he told me. “We had a kid die during the hazing process a few years ago, so my school is very strict about hazing.” That did NOT make me feel better, especially after I did some research and found out how that poor child suffered.

It’s now six months later and, although I can’t say that I love the Greek system, I admit that they provide a lot of great leadership opportunities and do some mighty fine charity work. My son is extremely happy with his new “brothers” and busy volunteering at community events. (I’m sure there’s some partying that’s going on too.)  The organization does seem to be well-run and I’ve gotten over my fears.

All this is a lead-up to my latest quilt project — a fraternity banner. I designed it, but it’s based on the fraternity flag for “Tau Kappa Epsilon.” I actually think that it looks very cool and my son is excited to hang it on the wall in his dorm.

It’s beginning to look a lot like more winter

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On Saturday, as I was quilting this Christmas quilt, it was 50 degrees outside and the first day in months that it felt winter was behind us. I had planned to write a cute post about my unseasonal quilting and how much I felt like working on a quilt that was Spring-themed.

Thankfully, when I got up this morning, it had started snowing again. So I guess my post is now timely, at least here in the Northeast.

This quilt was made using a Moda charm pack for the center. The outside of the squares is made from a layer cake, which I cut into 2.5″ strips. I’m pretty sure that I saw the design somewhere, but I have no idea who made the original quilt and I apologize for copying them without giving them credit.

I was struggling to know what color thread to use on this. I settled on a sage green and it blended beautifully into the front and back of the quilt. I used simple, loopy freestyle quilting to add some texture. Clearly my dogs thought that I did a good job!

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Lancelot (facing camera) and Guinevere enjoying Christmas quilt

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I loved this backing! The colors matched beautifully and it was also very contemporary.