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Friday, September 20, 2013

Happy Squares and a Mystery...

Anne's Happy Squares Quilt
         Sometime in 2011, I finished this quilt for Anne's full-size bed, using my large stash of 30s reproduction prints in a block pattern from a December 2005 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.     I loved how the blocks seemed to pulse as a result of the alternating and smaller white strips. 
The photo in the magazine just drew me in!

The cover of that issue.  I have saved all my quilt magaziness,  although have them in no order.  I currently only get one magazine.  I get overwhelmed by the ideas!
       I had used that same pattern for a 9-block baby quilt in June 2006.  The blocks measure over 12 inches square, so this made for a nice size baby mat or blanket.   I love the 30s reproductions, especially the juvenile print ones, for baby quilts.
Kayla's quilt - done  mostly in reds, pinks and yellows - many are Aunt Grace patterns.
A close up of one of the blocks from Kayla's quilt


A close up of the green Happy Squares quilt blocks.
     As I was browsing photos for this post, I took a second look at the photo above, which I had placed into the "Kayla quilt" folder.  Where were the red squares?   I realized that this was another quilt altogether!   This quilt, made in blues and greens, was photographed in November 2006.    I think this was for another family baby, but am not sure and if so, don't know for which one!  If anyone can provide me some information in that regard, I'd be grateful!    

Another look at the mystery green Happy Squares quilt
     I pieced both the back and binding on this green quilt, which is now something I do often, but I don't think I was doing that too much seven years ago. 

The back of the mystery baby quilt. 
      The blocks in Anne's quilt are the same size, about 12 inches square.  In contrast to the more limited color palette I used for the baby quilts, Anne's quilt, which has 56 blocks, uses every cheery color of a 30s print I had in my stash!   I had not taken photos of the quilt when I made it, but recently had Anne bring it home so I could get some pictures.   

A close up of the Anne's Happy Quilt.

I did loopy quilting all over the quilts, and used a solid yellow binding on the big quilt. 

More of the variety of prints!
     I love the good cheer and happy vibe that this quilt provides.  Anne has it on her white iron bed, and it looks great!  I also like the baby quilts, and may use this pattern again for another little quilt.   I hope I find out who that little green quilt was for.  I'll post an update if and when that mystery is solved.
 
     It is nearly the end of summer.   I am looking forward to crisp fall days.  Enjoy the weekend.
 
Take care,
Gretchen 


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Modern Exotic Garden

 
My attempt at a 'modern' quilt.
     During my initial scrap/stash clean-up this spring, I discovered some 6 inch squares cut from some Jane Sassaman "Exotic Garden" fabric purchased in 2003 or 2004.  These were left over from making some drunkard's path blocks, which are waiting to be made into a top. 
The rediscovered squares. 
     When I began browsing the quilting blogs early this year,  I saw all sorts of fabulous 'modern' quilts  used lots of white or grey space combined with some fabulous fabrics used in small amounts.    I had a 6 yard bolt of Kona white waiting to be used, so I decided to give this a try.    I decided to go very geometric, and designed a 4 x 5 piece grid.  I separated the squares with  2 inch wide strips of white.
Testing the placement of these blocks on my floor.

The finished grid panel.

     The panel turned out nicely, i.e. it laid flat! I didn't get a chance to do more on it until I had some vacation time this summer. I considered an asymmetrical placement of the panel, but chickened out at the end, and went with an 18 inch wide border in white all around the panel.
Checking out how the wide white border would look.
         I also had to piece together a backing.  I am still trying to make backs from my existing stash of fabrics.  I had a good size piece of the swirly green, yellow and pink, but not enough for a back or even a half of a back.  I had a larger piece of some blue flowered fabric, and I tried out other little pieces to fill in the sides.  
Although I tried out a star on cream fabric, in the end I went with two pinks for the side piece.


Here is the quilt sandwich, ready to be pinned.

The top being pinned.
     I didn't get to the quilting until the Labor Day weekend.   I decided upon the same  line quilting, which my husband refers to as my 'drunken sailor' quilting, that I used on a recent baby quilt.  This entails using my walking foot to make straight lines at 1 inch intervals, then go back and sew a meandering line in between the straight lines.   I was nervous about the initial line, since I had no blocks to guide me, so I used a long straight edge and a fabric pencil to draw a line down the middle of the quilt. 
I was really hoping that the yellow pencil mark was going to come out in the wash.  It did!
The initial straight line quilting. 
 
This photo shows the "drunken sailor" path I take between the straight lines.  This goes very quickly; there are no pins and the machine can just fly!
A close up of the finished quilting on the center part.
     I used a white thread (Aurifil) to keep the clean modern look on the quilt, but while that looks really great in person, it is really hard to photograph.  The back, however, shows off the quilting pretty well.
 The quilting as shown on the back of the quilt. It adds a nice texture to the quilt.
     I needed to chose a binding, and I tested out a Kona solid pink, and two Dear Stella confetti dot fabrics, one in pink and one in green. I ended up with the green, which is found in all of the blocks. You can see the overall quilting somewhat in this photo below. 
Auditioning the binding.
     I use a two-inch strip for the binding, and fold it in half, and then sew to the front of the quilt.  I still like to hand sew the binding to the back, which can take a while.  I was able to sew the entire binding while watching a football game. (Go Bills!)
A view of the finished back.  This shows the four backing fabrics, and the green dot binding.

Another view of the 'Modern Exotic Garden' in the garden.   All you can see of my trusty quilt holder are his shoes!  
       The finished quilt measures about 61" by 68".  I am very happy with how it turned out.  I love how the white showcases the beautiful print fabric.  I am a bit concerned about how the white will wear, so I will make sure not to use this for a lap quilt when I am drinking red wine!     
 
      Enjoy the end of summer and the beginning of the fall.
 
Take care,
Gretchen 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Darling Starlings Quilt

 
The Darling Starlings Quilt.
     When I started to gather my scraps this spring, I discovered a sizeable cache of double flying geese squares.  I am not certain if these were leftovers from an earlier unphotographed quilt, or if I abandoned a project midway.     
The partially assembled flying geese blocks.  
     I took out my seam ripper, and separated all the sewn blocks back into single units.

The deconstructed blocks

Lots of little geese. 
     I considered many designs for these colorful little blocks, and decided to do something less traditional  than the straight rows of geese blocks.  I saw a picture of a quilt with the blocks going every which way while browsing internet quilt sites and was inspired.  If I could find it again, I'd link to it and give proper credit for the idea.  I used my hastily constructed design board to get an idea of how this would look.
 
My design board is an old folding screen with strips of flannel attached with binder clips!  It works.
     The flying geese blocks had been constructed with various white on white prints.  A few years back, I rarely used solids, and now I am so interested in seeing what I can do with them. 

This picture shows the part of the quilt with the blocks close together, and shows off the white-on-white prints, which are difficult to photograph well.
      I was trying to depict a flock of birds taking flight.  There were many crowded on the ground, taking off in  all different ways and then scattering as they flew into the sky.   

 I started piecing extra strips of white to make the geese farther apart, but still keep the blocks the same size for piecing together.  

The final quilt top with the transition from dense to scattered geese blocks.  The extra full and half size white pieces are visible in this photo.
     I am charmed by these little juvenile prints.  I am finally using up many of them, and decided to take some close-ups.  So adorable.  
Little pigs kicking a ball, waving a flag, reading a book!
Little Dutch girl.

Wake up!

Bunnies, bears and balloons.

Teeter-totter tots.
       For the back, I had a nice size piece of old Aunt Grace fabric.  It wasn't quite large enough, so I pieced it with some plain white, and then got the top all pinned up. 
Pinned up top.
     I had mulled over the quilting options, and ended up using some pastel variegated thread, and with the idea of birds flying around and away, went with a spread-out loopy loop quilting.
I varied the size of the loops,and tried to keep the amount of white space fairly even.
     My sister-in-law was visiting when I was quilting this.  It was fun to have someone to talk to while I quilted (I generally end up talking to myself or the cat.)  Thank goodness, too, that she was here, since I took the quilt out from the sewing machine to show her something, and we discovered a big problem! 
Aargghhh!  Somehow the quilt backing had gotten all folded over on one side. 
     I had started the quilting going into the middle from the side, rather than starting in the middle, and although I thought I had everything taut when I pinned it, I guess that wasn't the case.  Luckily, we noticed it before I had done any more quilting in that bad patch.   We took out the pins, smoothed everything out and repinned, and got back to quilting.
     Once the back was fixed, the quilting was quickly finished and I chose some pink gingham fabric I had from other projects for the binding. 
Getting ready to make binding by cutting 2 inch strips.
Sewing on the binding.  This picture shows the variegated thread pretty well.  I don't sew in the dark.  I am not sure why this picture turned out that way.
     The finished quilt looks sweet.  I like the texture and movement the quilting adds to the top. 

A view of the quilting on the white spaces.
A view of the quilting where the blocks are close together.  Lots of the three little pigs fabric, in two colors!

A close-up of the back.  The quilting shows up nicely on the white strip.
The back
Here's the quilt right side up, thanks to my very helpful husband.  He was the one who said that the blocks looked like starlings flying all over the place, instead of nice orderly geese. 
   I like the unbalanced placement of the geese units, and I like that the binding doesn't jump out, but is a soft colored border.
Chester the cat also approves! 

     This was a fun quilt to make, and I am glad to have reused those old blocks in a new way.  It was also nice to share the fun with my sister-in-law. 

Take care,
Gretchen