Bev’s Three Quilts

My friend, Bev, recently sent me three quilt tops to complete for her. First up is “Lady of the Lake.” After you admire the hundreds of tiny half square triangles, zoom in to see the fabrics she chose. At first glance the quilt seems to be made of Civil War reproduction fabrics. Look closer! Bev has included contemporary batiks in brighter colors. Amazingly, all the fabrics blend cohesively in this quilt! The “Abigail” pantograph adds depth to the large white triangles.

“Lady of the Lake”

Bev also sent a wall quilt of “Sawtooth Stars” with “Hourglass” centers. The homespun fabrics lend such a comfortable feeling. How about that bright blue star in the center of the bottom row? The unexpected shade adds interest to the quilt, don’t you think? The “Drunken Feathers” curvy quilting ties all the patchwork angles and lines together.

“Sawtooth Star”

Bev’s third finish is a “Churn Dash” quilt, also made of homespuns and coordinating fabrics of muted tones. How different Churn Dash appears without a light background! The alternating red and light triangles in the block corners add an appealing secondary design. For quilting, I chose a Baptist Fan design with brown/gold thread.

“Churn Dash” variation

Congratulations to Bev for three gorgeous quilt finishes!

“Katie’s Quilt” made by Linda

My friend, Linda G., sent me a vibrant batik quilt top to quilt. Nina, who will receive this quilt, helped Linda to select the colors/fabrics.

You can find instructions for the quilt in the Missouri Star Block magazine, Fall volume 3, Issue 5. Click here for Jenny Doan’s You Tube tutorial. The quilt is made with 2 1/2″ pre-cut strips as well as yardage of white and navy. Isn’t that mottled teal border gorgeous?

For a quilting pantograph motif, Linda chose “Bell Blossom” designed by Hermione Agee and distributed by Urban Elementz. I used teal thread to match the outer border and back of the quilt. We both love the way the quilted flowers seem to peek out of the white areas.

Not one to waste batik patches and pieces, Linda artfully created an interesting backing for her quilt.

Great job, Linda; Nina is sure to treasure this lovely quilt!

Patti’s Tan and Blue Quilt

Have you ever admired a friend’s quilt and determined to make one “just like it”?

Patti recently asked me to longarm a scrappy tan and blue quilt to be used in her family’s vacation cabin. Notice that one side lacks a pieced border; I’m guessing that pillows will cover this side of the bed quilt. Patti asked for a swirling or paisley quilting design that would mimic the outer border print. We settled on “Abigail” pantograhp designed by Sarah Ann Myers and distributed by Urban Elementz. (Non affiliate link)

I loved the simple yet effective design, so I made several blocks with leftover 2 1/2” wide strips.

Although I also used scraps, the fabric placement in my blocks is planned rather than left to chance. I have enough coordinating strips to make two more blocks and perhaps a pieced border of squares.

So much for making a quilt “just like” Patti’s!

Have you ever used a quilt design as a springboard for your own creation?

A Tale of Two Quilts

My friend and fellow quilt guild member, Yolanda, has a long time friend, Sophia. This is the story of Sophia’s family quilt and Yolanda’s remake in the spirit of the original design. My part was quilting the remake.

Sophia writes “My great-grandmother, Serena Herndon (Richards), started this quilt in Oklahoma in the late 1920’s, but my grandmother, Elzira Scoggins (Herndon), finished the quilt top in Mt. Shasta and Oroville, California sometime during 1930s-1940s. My mother, Serena, born in 1945, quilted this blanket in Oroville around mid to late 50’s.” Be sure to click on the photograph to zoom in. Many of the fabrics are wildly colorful.

Sophia’s mother recently passed, and so she asked if Yolanda would cut up the quilt top to incorporate some of the original blocks into a new quilt because  many of the fabrics were worn out from age and use. Yolanda encouraged Sophia to allow her repair the old quilt instead and also to make a new one that would capture the design of the original. Happily, Sophia agreed.
The inspiration for the quilt blocks came from the original quilt. Yolanda’s goal was to isolate the original block design and set it on point. However when she laid out the blocks to audition them before sewing sashing between them, she liked the look of a horizontal set best. By exercising creative license, Yolanda gave the new quilt its own identity. The angels in the central panel are representative of Sophia and her mother meeting again in heaven. The wording “To God be the glory, until we meet again” is her way of rejoicing for the coming reunion.
Yolanda selected 2 1/2 inch wide strip packs of Civil War reproduction fabrics from Connecting Threads. The border is an end of bolt find from Pineapple fabrics; the backing is 108 inch wide cotton backing also from Pineapple fabrics. I quilted the “Splash” pantograph with old gold polyester thread. The gold blended well with all the patchwork blocks yet showed up nicely in the wide blue border. Since I didn’t want to quilt the panto over the angels, I meandered in the background of the panel and echo stitched around the angels. (It was not easy to interrupt the pantograph in this way, but this treatment suited the quilt.) Yolanda added a label which details the tale of these two wonderful quilts.
In the words of Hattie, another of Yolanda’s friends, this Granny Square block is so reminiscent of lessons learned from those who have gone before us.  Yolanda’s remake of Sophia’s family quilt is a beautiful story of a shared love for this ageless art work.  Isn’t it wonderful how the past can bring out the best in us?

Quilting T-shirt Quilts

In response to a recent post about the T-shirt quilts made by Linda, Cheryl commented that she would like more information on quilting T-shirt quilts. Here are my thoughts and tips:

I recommend quilting T-shirt quilts with a longarm quilting machine. The knit fabric, heavier and thicker than quilting cottons, is cumbersome to push under the needle of a home sewing machine. Even if the T-shirts have been stabilized with light weight fusible interfacing, they are still a bit wiggly, shifty, and give-y. Loading the quilt top on the longarm helps the quilt to remain “square” instead of being stretched out of shape during the quilting process.

I recommend a simple, freehand quilting design. Meandering, meandering with loops and/or stars, or wavy watery designs will soften the edges of the square blocks and integrate the knit shirts with the woven sashing/borders. The logos of less used shirts may be more difficult to quilt through due to the thicker “plastic” paint. I do like to quilt all over the logos, but sometimes this causes undesirable tension issues like loops on the back or thread breakage. If I anticipate a problem, I’ll meander in the background of the T-shirt block, dip into the edge of the logo, and slip back out to the background, repeatedly. By choosing a freehand design rather than a pantograph, I can adjust for problem areas like thickly painted logos.

I recommend thread that blends well with the shirts as well as the sashing and border fabrics. Consider a shade of gray; unspool several yards and lay it, in loops and arcs, across various colored areas in the quilt. A variegated thread may also work well. If your shirts are very light, and your sashing/borders are very dark, consider changing thread color for each area.

Can you think of other tips or questions about quilting T-shirt quilts?

T-Shirt Quilts

My friend and customer, Linda, sent me two quilt tops made from T-shirts to longarm for her. Her friend asked her to make them as a gift for an athletic daughter. In addition to giving permission to share them on the blog, Linda wrote her thoughts and tips about using T-shirts to make quilts.

straight-set-t-shirt-quiltThe idea book Linda used was T-shirt Quilts Made Easy by Martha Deleonardis. “In her book, Martha describes the Grid Method quilts. All of my T-shirts had 12 inch prints. After stabilizing the T-shirts with a non-woven fusible interfacing (I used Pellon 911FW) so the T-shirts would not stretch when sewn, I cut each T-shirt print to 12.5 inches square.  I used the grid size of 4 inches for the template of the quilt design and surrounded each T-shirt with 4 inch (4.5 unfinished) squares of beautiful purple/blue batik fabric. I collected approximately 24 different batiks for this project. I wanted to infuse a different size print into the quilt design since just having 12 inch prints was rather boring. I decided to cut out the small logos that some of the T-shirts had. I cut them to 4.5 inches square and wanted to sew 3 together vertically to sew in between each 12″ T-shirt square. Since I did not have enough small logos, I inserted a baseball print in the middle of each one. As a result, this created a much more interesting T-shirt quilt design.”

Linda created a second T-shirt quilt using the Twistin’ Fun method as explained in Martha’s book. Tilting the blocks adds visual interest to the quilt, don’t you think? Linda embroidered a square with the quilt recipient’s name and graduation details. (Click on the picture to zoom in.) Both of these T-shirt quilts will call up fun memories for years to come!


Have you made a T-shirt quilt, or is there one on your quilting horizon?


Kathy’s Quilts

In early summer, Kathy H. sent me four quilt tops to longarm for her. Each was so fun and unique, I thought you’d like to see them.


“Vintage Tulips” by Thimble Blossoms –took 32 2 1/2″ strips plus background and tulip fabrics


“Corona Lanterns” by Amelie Scott Designs—took 40 2 1/2″ strips plus background


“Jacob’s Ladder” by Daniela Stout  (Cozy Quilt Designs)–took 14 2 1/2″ strips plus background


“Blooming Butterflies”- by Jennifer Bosworth of Shabby Fabrics– Kathy bought the pre-cut kit

Thanks for sharing such beautiful quilts, Kathy!

Calvin and Hobbes Baby Quilt

FJ9A7880Isn’t this the “funn-est” quilt? Tricia made the top for her expected granddaughter and sent it to me for finishing. I love the cheerful yellow, red, and orange patchwork blocks, but I’m fascinated by the alternate squares. Tricia’s daughter and son-in-law have decorated the nursery with their favorite comic characters, Calvin and Hobbes. To follow the theme, Tricia used a specially treated fabric and her ink jet printer to make Calvin and Hobbes fabric for the alternate squares. What a great idea!

photo transfer fabric pkgIn the past, I have used photo transfer paper-backed fabric for photographs to include in quilts, but I never thought of using it for drawings like comics. This idea opens up a world of possibilities:  Children’s drawings, hand-written letters, sports team logos, wedding invitations, anything that is printed on a piece of paper. Please note that fabric or projects made using copyrighted drawings like Calvin and Hobbes should not be sold; it’s just for one-of-a-kind, personal use.

Click on the picture and zoom in to observe the quilting. At Tricia’s suggestion, I used orange quilting thread for the patchwork blocks, freehanding various designs. I used off white thread to meander in the alternate cartoon squares. A curl design nicely fills the inner border, and double loops complete the outer border.


Comment with your ideas for creative ways to use Photo Fabric.

“Gemini” Lap Quilt

DSCN7846Kathy H. sent me a lap quilt to longarm which she made in memory of her mother whose favorite color was green.

Kathy writes, “I used a pattern–actually one of those post card type patterns–called Gemini by Villa Rosa Designs. It uses 20 – 2 1/2 ” strips–so just half of a jelly roll– plus 2 yards of background fabric.”

Several of the batik prints are foliage in nature, and the quilt back is a swirly fern green-on-green batik. The images on the fabrics gave me the idea to quilt fern fronds across the face of the quilt. You can tell at first glance that the design of the quilt is vertical columns of offset “boxes.” I could have loaded the quilt into my machine sideways and quilted stems of ferns that would follow the vertical theme. However, I felt the columns were too wide to effectively quilt this, so I decided to quilt fern fronds horizontally across the quilt using the 6″ wide rows as my visual quilting guide. This orientation gives the viewer’s eye two movements to consider–vertical and horizontal. Here is how I developed the design:


Using my Wave Edge ruler (which is actually for rotary cutting), I drew a line approximately through the center of each row. On the light areas, I used a green chalk; on the darker fabrics, I used a white powder chalk (chalk-o-liner). I then quilted across the quilt on the drawn line.


Next, I quilted a wavy line about 3/4″ above the drawn and quilted line, eye-balling the ups and downs. These two lines form the stem or main vein of the fern. (I have experimented with only one line for the vein, but feel the double lines define the design much better.)

The fun part was filling in the fern leaves between the wavy line. “S” curves, “C” curves, “moustache” curves, and curls were all useful in this step. Some of the leaf tips and curls point left while the others point right. By quilting this way, I achieved my goal:  there is not a definitive left or right, top or bottom of the quilt.


Green is always so soothing, comforting, and calming; I know Kathy will enjoy snuggling under this quilt. Perhaps the fern quilting design will conjure images of lush, cool forest glens, welcome respites from arid summer weather.

Batik Bed Runner

IMG_20160525_132339_541I am absolutely smitten with this bed runner! Linda G. made it for a former co-worker who is a long time friend. The batiks she selected glow like stained glass on a summer day. Did you recognize the “Disappearing Nine Patch” design? This is proof positive that even a simple patchwork design combined with the right fabrics yields an awesome quilt.

Many of the batiks have floral or leaf designs, so Linda asked me to quilt flowers and leaves all over the 19″ x 87″ runner. I also quilted two coordinating pillow tops made with 2 1/2″ squares. Can you imagine the runner and pillows resting atop a white or light gray bedspread? Gorgeously colorful!