Thursday, August 8, 2013

Here's to you, Nancy Drew, x 2 !

A Nancy Drew quilt.

    At the beginning of this year, I resolved to use up the fabric accumulated over the years.  My plan was to make quilts using only my stash - no new fabric.  I'd get creative, and save money.  To that end,  I stopped browsing fabric sites on-line.

     It was a good plan ..... until I glimpsed a link on-line to the Get a Clue Nancy Drew fabric line from Moda.   Uh oh.   In my childhood,  I was an avid Nancy Drew fan, and two friends, Monica and Cy, not only shared the Nancy Drew passion, but we actually spent hours recreating Nancy Drew dramas.  I have every yellow spine book in the series, and a few odd books picked up from yard sales.     Even now, when we get together and share a glass or two of wine, we still make reference to Nancy Drew, her sporty roadster, Bess, George and Ned.    My "no new fabric" plan was history - I had to get some of that fabric!
     By the time I found this fabric, the yardage choices were limited. I decided on a project - Nancy Drew tote bags for each of us.  The pattern, which I have had for years, but never made, required 1 yard each of two different fabrics.  I started my order.      

 I got a yard each of  the Nancy Drew heads and silhouette in blue.

Look at how nicely the fabric matches the old artwork in the inside cover of the blue fabric books.

I also got two yards each of the black Nancy head fabric, and the red silhouette fabric. 

      As I was browsing, those 6 yards didn't seem quite enough.  Since a layer cake was on sale,  I snapped it up - for a grand assortment of 10 inch squares. 

A sample of some of the other fabrics in the layer cake.  I really like the bookshelf fabric, and wish I had more of that.

     Then I found the panels containing reproductions of six of the yellow spine covers.  I could not resist.   I didn't pay attention to any description, and just assumed  the covers would be the same size as the actual books, so I  got two panels.  I was thinking Kindle covers.   

Four of the book covers on the panel.  What great crisp bright colors.  If you just saw a picture, wouldn't you  think these were the size of the book?

          It turned out that the panels were about three times as big as the actual book!

As you can see, the panels were much larger than the actual book.    No Kindle covers here!
       Once the fabric arrived,  I didn't jump right into the tote bag project, as I was busy with my string quilt.   Then I thought that, since I was blogging about making quilts,  I should make my friends each a quilt, rather than a bag.     Is there anything nicer than a warm cozy quilt when you are reading a book?

      Since the panels were so big, I decided to use those as the centerpiece of the quilts.  I also decided to make two similar, but not identical quilts.  I used my design board quite a bit to try out various fabrics and designs.   I had to be creative, since I had ordered up the fabric for the tote bags, not for quilts, and had to work with the yardage in hand.   I started building these quilts from the inside out.

I fussy cut the panels, and experimented with tipping them.  I was considering using some of the 10 inch squares as the background.   I ended up tipping them differently than pictured on the board.
     Since the covers were so graphic,  I decided to make them stand out by using plain colors for the background, and picked a bright yellow and  a crisp white. 
The red border is from the panel.  I trimmed 1/2 inch from the interior edge, which left a 1/4 inch red border in the end.

The yellow background.   I ended up cutting these on an angle to give the tilted look to the blocks.  Because these blocks were so large, I had a few problems, but worked it out.   I had to concentrate to get the tipping going the right way, and at the right angle. 
     I needed to plan the rest of the quilt using the yardage I had purchased, so went with the fabric I had the most of, the black Nancy heads and the red silhouette.    

A close up of the "Nancy head" fabric, which also contained a smattering of quotes.  I tried to get each quote into the borders.
I ended up fussy cutting strips of the heads, with 1/2 inch on either side before sewing.  Some rows were vertical, and some horizontal.  Fortunately, I had enough to make it work.

Trying out the design on my board.   

Piecing together the panels and the border.   You can see the small black square from the layer cake, which featured little magnifying glasses, in the center.

       I didn't have enough of the black fabric to use the entire length, so I added little squares on the edges.   I used the black magnifying glass fabric for the squares in the middle, and in the corners used red for one, and yellow for the other.  I was trying to keep the distraction of too many patterns to a minimum, since the book cover prints were quite vivid on their own. 

      I created the outside border from the red silhouette print.  I only had the two yards, plus a few 10 inch squares, so that was very carefully measured and pieced together, since it was a one way pattern.  I added a narrow interior border of plain white to make the bright colors pop.  I originally cut it as a 2 inch border, but then decided to cut it down to a finish at one inch.   Since I had just enough of the red, I used some of the other 10 inch squares for the corners of the quilt.  

The finished quilt top.  The silhouette fabric was very hard to photograph, but shows up pretty well here.

     I wasn't sure what to do about the quilting. I like the graphic look of the bright colors, and strong prints, and didn't want the quilting to distract from that. After using it on my scrappy around the world quilt, I decided to use a primary color multicolored thread to do a large meandering in the center of the quilt, thereby not highlighting any particular color. I just outlined the white border, in the ditch, and used a plain red for a large meander on the red border.

The two quilt tops laid out before backing and quilting.  Each has a unique set of the book covers, and one has the red corner blocks in the center, and the other yellow.  I looked at the quilts alot while deciding how to do the quilting.

This is a close up of the quilting that shows the varigated thread in the center panel.   I was quite uncomfortable sewing over the Nancy heads!

Another close up showing the quilting over a larger area.  I thought about leaving the book cover unquilted, but ultimately decided to just quilt all over.

A close up of the center, which shows off the colored thread.  

A photo of one of the tops quilted and ready for binding.  I used the bright yellow to bind each quilt, and backed each one in homespun from my stash. 

Cy's quilt, in the sunshine!

The back of Cy's quilt.

Monica's quilt in the sunshine!

The back of Monica's quilt. 

Cy and Monica with their quilts!

Cy, me and Monica. 

Cy, me and Monica - just a few years ago!

"You can always talk a loyal friend into joining you in your schemes and ruses!"
     Isn't that the truth! Treasure your friends, have some adventures, and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Take care,

(C)  Copyright 2013 Snug Harbor Quilts.  All rights reserved.


  1. You are an amazing friend! I am impressed with your generousity - you loved this fabric and you didn't make a quilt for yourself. I'm sure your two chums were so tickled. It reminds me of a quote that my sisters and I had put on T-shirts for our girls weekends, "My sister has the best sister in the world". Well, your friends have the best friend in the world. And the quilts are fabulous! I just finished working with some panels and they are a bugger to work into a good looking quilt. You did awesome!

  2. How beautiful Gretchen. I am sure your friends love their quilts. Thanks for sharing! Stopping by from Crazy Mom Quilts. Marie (

  3. What a fabulous story and great quilts too. I now want to dust off my Nancy Drew books and re-read them.

  4. I was also a Nancy Drew Fan and would hide and read them or read them at night under the covers with a flashlight when i was supposed to be sleeping. I must say your blog entry was awesome. I loved reading about it all, your pictures were great and of course the quilts just really make me smile. Awesome story. Well done!

  5. Oh, what fun! Definitely brings back some memories for me, too. Can't claim to be quite the fan that you are, but I did love some Nancy Drew. Great story!

  6. I remember reading Nancy Drew as a child. Thanks for bringing back such fun memories. Your quilts are awesome!!

  7. Beautiful job! I loved Nancy Drew. This brought teary eyes to a long ago time.

  8. Love those quilts - I, too, discovered the fabric when supplies were really limited, so I am trying to come up with a pattern for a quilt. Loved Nancy Drew as a girl, and still do!

  9. Was reading along looking for inspiration for all my Nancy Drew fabric in front of me, and I get to the end of your quilt story and see your name!! Another Gretchen, who loves Nancy Drew, I almost fell over! Thanks for the inspiration to get quilting!!

    1. Good luck with the quilt! Please share a picture when you are done. I still have quite a bit of fabric left - I always buy too much. I need to dream up a Nancy Drew quilt for myself!