A Memorable Barter

16 07 2018

My husband’s friend, Willie, is repacking the cylinders of our backhoe. This entails hours of greasy labor in the heat and humidity and multiple runs to the Napa Auto Parts store for parts and tools and to the John Deere store for gaskets. Ran is the go-pher, encourager, and junior helper, while my part is supplying ice water and watermelon slices at strategic intervals. Willie doesn’t want to charge market value for his know-how, so Ran asked me if I’d be willing to give him a quilt for his labor.

I do have a few extra quilts around the house. Just a few (cough, cough). I set out five for Willie to choose from. We thought he might select a red, white, and blue quilt since his wife decorates their bedroom with those colors. But when he saw the quilts, he immediately chose the very scrappy “Roman Stripe” quilt that I recently finished.

Willie chose this quilt because it reminds him of the quilts his mother used to piece in the evenings after the day’s work was done. She’d pull out scraps from clothing or curtains, whatever was at hand, and hand piece quilts. She pieced while the children were settling down, then she  retired to bed herself. If guests or cousins came to stay for a few days, Willie remembers everyone finding sleeping places on pallets made of quilts.

Our old backhoe is getting a new lease on life, and Willie is getting a new quilt full of old memories. I call that a memorable barter!


Scrap Quilts made by Blog Readers

16 07 2018

Home from college for the summer, Anna is raiding her mom’s fabric stash and piecing two quilts. “Picnic” is finished already, and a gray/yellow/blue quilt is in the works. (“Picnic” is published in “Scrap-Basket Sensations” by Kim Brackett.)

Doesn’t that Mustard “Grunge” make the perfect border?

Maridee sent pictures of two quilts she finished earlier this year. She writes, “A dear friend of mine passed away, and her sister asked me to take all of her quilting stuff. In the boxes, I found a Block of the Month from the Fat Quarter Shop that hadn’t been started. I made it up and sent the finished quilt to the sister, but I had a lot of leftover fabrics.

Pat Sloan does block of the week projects, and I decided to jump in to the Grandma’s Kitchen project. I purchased 2 yards of a fabric that went well with all the leftovers. It would be used in each block. This was to ensure continuity in case I ran out of the coordinating scraps and had to add others to the mix. It was bittersweet using my friend’s leftovers and thinking of my grandma’s kitchen.  Some of the blocks were changed to fit my grandma, and I didn’t do all 25 blocks. I wanted the quilt to fit a certain area in the house, and 25 blocks would have made it too large. As a side note: I did NOT run out of fabrics. I had enough to make two VA hospital quilts too.”
“The second picture is a ‘Wacky Web’ pattern by Missouri Star Quilt Company. It really helped clean up some scraps! The center pieces were from a charm pack of solids someone gifted to me, but the other pieces were from the scrap bin.”
Thanks, Anna and Maridee, for sharing pictures of your scrap projects. You have inspired us!

Quiltville’s 2018 Leader/Ender Challenge

12 07 2018

Those of us who follow Bonnie K. Hunter’s blog (quiltville.blogspot.com) have been waiting with bated breath for her to announce the Leader/Ender Challenge for 2018. If you remember, the challenge for 2017 was Checkerboard Rail Fence, the challenge for 2016 was Hourglass, and before that was Tumblers. Bonnie always chooses a quilt design in the “public domain” so as not to infringe on anyone’s copyright. Although she gives suggestions about piece sizes and colors, she leaves the details up to us.

This year, her challenge is “Jewel Box Stars.” She writes, “This project is to GROW SLOWLY in between the lines of chain piecing other things.  Don’t rush through it.  Enjoy the process!” Click here to link to Bonnie’s blog post about the challenge. 

I decided to accept the challenge, and here is the back story on the Americana fabrics I’ll be working with. As you know, I just finished quilting my “Confetti” quilt. After trimming away the excess batting and backing, I found that pieces amounting to about 1 yard of the polka dot print remained. Rather than folding it and returning it to my stash, I plan to use it as light background in my blocks. For the blue prints I’m using 2 1/2″ strips of Wilmington Prints tone-on-tones leftover from various projects as well as squares from my 2 1/2″ scrap container. The reds are also Wilmington Prints that remain from various patriotic and Valentine projects. Since I am making the larger 16″ size Bonnie mentions in her excellent tutorial, I’ll need only 4 or 9 blocks to make a nice size lap quilt.

Will you accept the challenge to make a “Jewel Box Stars” quilt this year? If so, will you go totally scrappy or use a planned color palette?

Karla’s Scrappy Makes

10 07 2018

Karla sent several pictures of scrap projects made over a rainy 4th of July holiday. She tackled her overflowing bin of orange and black fabrics and produced a table runner, His and Hers place mats, and “Charmville” mug rugs.

First up is the Log Cabin table runner – decorative for a fall table or Halloween celebration. Made with college team colors, wouldn’t this be a fun gift for a dorm-living student?

The idea for place mats was presented as a freebie with my “Travel Plans” table runner published in McCall’s Quick Quilts April/May 2017. I love the lime green rectangle in the center, don’t you?


And now for the cutest of all . . . “Charmville” houses mug rugs. “Charmville” was the cover quilt for McCall’s Quick Quilts, February/March 2014. It’s still a favorite design with many of my quilting friends!

Thanks, Karla, for sharing pictures of your inspiring projects!

Read more about these projects on Karla’s blog, mysewfulretirement.wordpress.com.

I would love to see what you are working on, be it a scrappy project, a UFO, or a WIP (Work in Progress). Email pictures to aby dot quilts at gmail dot com

Second Quarter UFO Round-up

5 07 2018

At the beginning of each quarter of this year, you and I have the opportunity to state which UFOs we’ll work on. Between April and June, I pledged to work on “Chocolate Factory,” a friendship row by row  quilt. I also purposed to work on my “Confetti” scrap quilt, a pattern published by Augusta Cole.

As usual, time slipped away from me . . . meaning I chose to work on other projects . . . and I procrastinated working on these two quilts until the final week of June. I am happy to say that “Chocolate Factory” is complete. The instructions for this quilt can be found in the book Simple Friendships by Kim Diehl and Jo Morton. (The quilt in the book was made entirely of brown prints, hence the name “Chocolate Factory.”) Last summer and fall, I exchanged blocks made with colorful Civil War reproduction fabrics  with four quilting friends. You can read about the beginning of the project here.

Choosing fabrics for the blocks was easy compared to choosing fabrics for the sashing and border. Since I wanted the patchwork blocks to shine, I needed fabrics that were not too dark or strong or of too large a scale. I took photos as I auditioned fabrics and texted back and forth with Pam L. who gave advice on each possibility. After I chose the medium print for sashing, she suggested a brown border. Since blue features in most of my quilts, it was hard to consider brown. But the brown print looked best of all stash fabrics that I auditioned. (Thanks, Pam!) I quilted a “Clamshell” design with gold Magnifico polyester thread; “Clamshell” adds texture, and the thread color blends nicely with the patchwork yet contrasts with the dark brown border. Hooray, it is finished, and I am pleased with it!

To finish “Confetti,” the second UFO I pledged to complete, I granted myself a grace period until July 4th. I powered through adding borders, longarm quilting, and machine binding, finishing at 11 p.m. on July 3rd.

Last summer, while working on this quilt, I auditioned blue fabrics (of course!) for the outer border. However, the yardage I had on hand did not add the sparkle I wanted. My granddaughter suggested red, which is her favorite color. And she was spot on! The true red of the border helps the tiny red squares in the quilt to sparkle delightfully.

Pressing tip:  I generally press seams to one side or the other. However, I flipped the seam mid-way when pressing the Four Patch + triangle border because I wanted the seams to easily lie flat on both edges of the border. This unconventional pressing method worked will for this quilt.

How about you? Do you have a completed UFO to show? Please send a picture and accompanying details to aby dot quilts at gmail dot com.

Born to Excel Camp 2018

2 07 2018
Our church just completed its annual week long Vacation Bible School called Born to Excel Camp.  There are Bible lessons and songs and snacks, but the extra time is divided into two tracks approximately 45 minutes in length. The children register for two hobbies/interests from Geology and Gem Mining to Cooking. I helped with Counted Cross-Stitch and Quilting. Ran helped with Woodworking. It was a great week, and it was a blessing to see the “old folks” in our church turn out in force to help and teach the “young folks.” 170 kids; 75 volunteers!
In the Quilting class, each of the nine girls had a seasoned quilter coaching her through the process. I worked with Emily as she learned about fabric selection, 1/4″ seam allowance, and operating a sewing machine.
Michelle, the Quilting group leader, worked for several months auditioning suitable easy quilt designs and adapting one for Excel Camp. She made a sample, wrote instructions, and purchased fabric in colors that would appeal to the children. Then she cut kits of squares and bricks of the various color groups, placing each kit in a gallon zip bag. Emily chose purple, and we worked side by side Monday – Thursday to create the quilt top. At the end of Thursday’s class, we sandwiched batting, backing (right side up) and quilt top (right side down). I trimmed all three pieces the same size with rotary cutting equipment and pinned all around the quilt top with straight quilting pins.
Friday morning, Emily sewed around the four sides of the quilt, leaving a 6″ opening for turning. The photo shows her tugging the right side of the quilt through the opening. What an exciting moment when she had completed that step! We poked out the corners with blunt scissors, rolled out the edges all around, and then used the iron to make it crisp. Next, Emily sewed all around the quilt, taking care to close the turning opening securely. Finally, I placed masking tape diagonally across the quilt in two places for Emily to sew along as she the sandwich together.
The Excel Camp Quilting class ended with nine happy girls, nine proud quilting coaches, and nine beautiful quilts!

“Not Your Grandma’s Irish Chain” Finished!

27 06 2018

This quilt project, begun last summer, is finally finished! I found time last week to quilt it with the “Wave on Wave” pantograph designed by Patricia E. Ritter and distributed by Urban Elementz. And the weekend furnished the two hours needed to machine bind the quilt. I am super pleased with the results.

The fabric line is “Blue Sky” designed by Edyta Sitar for Andover. When I saw the fabric at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC, it was love at first sight. However, I left the bolts on the shelf until I dreamed up a quilt design that would showcase them well. You can read about the beginning of this project here.

Generally, I would suggest custom quilting for a traditional project such as this. However, on a whim, I decided to use the “Wave on Wave” pantograph, stitching with light taupe thread. The border print is so busy a custom design would not have shown up at all anyway, and the swirls add organized swirly  texture to the light background areas of the quilt. The surprise appears when the viewer’s eye focuses on the dark blue squares and Orange Peels; there, the swirls truly delight!

Why the name “Not your Grandma’s Irish Chain” you may ask. “Irish Chain” quilts feature plain squares alternated with “Nine Patches” (or variations of “Nine Patches”) with dark fabrics in the four corners of each block. These dark fabrics connect diagonally across the quilt. In this quilt, however, the “Orange Peel” alternate blocks provide the diagonal, criss-crossing design element, and the “Nine Patches” have light corner squares. So, it is an Irish Chain quilt, of sorts, but not the design your Grandma would have made.