Saturday, March 19, 2011

Baby Quilt

I started this one last weekend.  I have friend whose daughter is having a baby and I just couldn't resist trying a new pattern with fabrics from my stash.  The baby's due in April so I'll have to get moving!

I've been collecting 4 1/2 inch squares for about 3 yrs now.  I wanted to use them in an "I Spy" quilt.  I just haven't been able to find the inspiration or the layout I liked well enough to do it.  Realizing there's a baby coming in a month was part of the spark to get me moving.  The other was the pattern "Building Blocks Baby Quilt" by Cindy Lammon which I saw on the Moda Bakeshop site.  I love the simple graphic nature of the block and the layout.

Along with my 4 1/2 in blocks I had these fat quarters that I really liked. 
I was saving them for something special but I didn't know just what.
After reading the pattern I realized I didn't have enough fabric to make the 20 blocks it called for so I made a few adjustments to the size of the block but I think it's coming out just fine. I'm using the bigger block which started out as a 10 inch square and finished as an 8 1/2 inch square.  The off-set of the inner block is not as obvious as in the original pattern. 

I think next time I would change the smaller strips to 1 1/2 inches instead of the 2 inches I used in this one.

One technique (of many!) that I still have to work hard at is "scrappy".  I admire scrappy quilts when I see them made by others but I always have a hard time making them myself.  I much prefer planning my color selections and placements.   I did discover that using the stack and switch method helps me to do a bit of both at the same time.

You can see at the top of the photo I have the block pieces stacked and laid out for sewing.  I laid out some of the additional 4 1/2" squares on my table.  This lets me have the option to change out the middle block if I don't care for the combination that comes up next in the stack.  I'm pretty happy with the results.

By the end of the first night of sewing I had all the blocks pieced together.  I was careful to do the piecing all the same on each block so that I was left with just a half inch to cut off the two long strips.

Guppy wants to know why we're staying up so late, it's way past his bed time.  He thinks laying on my cutting mat will force me to stop and go to bed. 
Tonight he's right! 

Stay tuned for more on the Baby Quilt.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Disappearing 9-Patch for Betty

Next in line for her birthday quilt is Betty. Picture someone you know that has a beautiful smile and an infectious laugh; that's Betty! She is just so much fun. Betty's delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies, or "chippers" as we call them, are a staple when The Girls get together. And while we all have our favorite adult beverage Betty only drinks lite beer!

Betty seems to have boundless energy and all the 411 on the latest hot topics. She often credits her nieces who live nearby with keeping her up to date and supplying fashion advice. The youngest of 8 kids, her large extended family is a topic we all love to hear about.  I remember all of them and can still picture in my mind their famous family photo of the "Milk Drinkingest Family"!

I think the secret to Betty's good cheer is she's actually forgotten her real age. No really, she actually thought she had another year to go before turning 50.  What a bummer when that turned out to be wrong!  But Betty's good sport and laughed along with us as she confessed.

Originally I was going to make a quilt for Betty with cats on it. Side note: Betty has two cats, both of which were thought to be males. That is until the day she and her husband came home to find one of the cats in the closet delivering kittens!  Betty's description of the event had us rolling in the aisle with tears in our eyes.  

Back to the quilt. While driving my sister from NH to FL we stopped at several quilt shops. At one shop in VA I found some cute camping fabric. That's when the idea of a "camping" quilt started brewing. Something Betty could use on her annual summer camping trips. Once I returned home and began looked for coordinating fabrics I realized the camping fabric I had purchased was about “camping on wheels”. This wasn't going to work; Betty is a “tent” camper

I still had the cat fabric and a search through my sister's stash turned up some tent camping fabric. Both of these had black backgrounds. Looking a bit dark I thought. So I continued to look for a more fabrics with lighter backgrounds. I found the chocolate chip cookie fabric at a quilt show here in NH along with the beer fabric. So there you have it; Chippers, Cats, Camping, and Beer, four things that describe just a little bit of my friend Betty. 

Trying to find a pattern that would allow me to incorporate all four of these fabrics in a single block was a challenge.  I finally came up with the "Disappearing Nine-Patch" from a Moda Bake Shop Recipe called "Christmas Table Topper".  I had already decided to use 4 1/2" squares before finding the pattern so I just adapted as I went along.

For coordinating fabrics I picked up on the colors of the cookies and beer; caramel, cream, beige.  These seemed too dull for such a happy person as Betty!  Then I found the orange – PERFECT!  It added just the "oh-lay-la" (as Betty would say) that I was looking for. 

Two of my fabrics were directional and two weren't so that worked out fine. After working out the fabric locations and sewing the 9-patch the next step was to cut the block across the middle, left to right, and down the center, from top to bottom.  What fun!  I'm a bit of a rule follower so cutting up a perfectly good block seemed a bit naughty to me ;o) 

9 patch layout

Cut up the block
Next I rotated the non-directional (upper right and lower left) blocks 180 degrees and sewed the block back together. 

Rotate oposite corners

Sew them back together
I just love how complicated this block looks compared to how easy it was to make. I'll bet if you use all non-directional fabrics you can get some beautiful combinations. 

I was reluctant to use black in the blocks because I felt it would be too dark.  "Dark" is not a word I would ever use to describe Betty!  By reserving the black for the border it gave just the right effect next to the orange framing.  

Here's the finished top. I just LOVE it!  I'm sending it out next week to be quilted so stay tuned for the finishing touches.

A 9-Patch for Gail

Since Gail's birthday is in January she was the first of "The Girls" to receive her quilt.

fabric, with it’s angels and prayers, inspired me to create a quilt for Gail. Her spirit is evident in everything she does. She has a kind heart and gentle nature backed by a strong faith. I'm counting on her backing when I make that final trip! 

With just a half yard of the novelty fabric I wasn’t sure I’d have enough.  In my first layout I tried to use a snowball along with a nine patch of green and blue coordinates.


The snowball seemed to cut off too much of what was fun about the novelty print so I abandoned that and went with a full square of the print. 

The green and blue of the 9 patch looked too dark so I alternated them with the cream background. The cream sashing also helped to lighted things up.  I used a mottled rust and the blue floral for the corner stones in the sashing to tie in with the colors of the borders, piping and binding.

I couldn't resist using these quilts as an opportunity to try something new.  For Gail's I use the mottled rust to create a small band of piping between the dark blue and floral borders. I repeated the rust color for the binding which looks beautiful in contrast to the dark blue backing. I didn't realize that I should have based this down before giving it to my long-arm quilter but she was a dear and did it for me.

The long arm quilting for this quilt looks like wings of an angel.  How appropriate!  For the thread I selected a rust color that can be seen clearly on the back yet blends in nicely on the front.

The final touch was a label with a special caption that I found on the Internet which reads:

"A day hemmed in prayer seldom unravels."

One final note, when Gail read the quote on the label she ran to find a project she had been working on; a counted cross stitch of the very same sentiment!  Great minds think alike.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Twiggy Quilt

This quilt was a gift for a friends daughter.  Her husband proposed at a favorite outdoor spot.  When I saw the Twiggy pattern (done with Sanae fabrics for Moda) I just knew it was the right choice. 

The background is pieced in columns and the leaves are appliqued on.  It was my first time doing applique and the large leaves made it easy and quick.

I used the leaf applique pattern to create a 3 part label on the back.