Thursday, January 11, 2018

Bjorn Bears - Christmas quilt number 2

If you read the last post, you know I had a request by my youngest two to replace their very outgrown quilts with new ones this Christmas. I had to admit it was reasonable since their old quilts are both toddler size and they are most certainly not!

Evan's quilt was also an Elizabeth Hartman pattern, Bjorn Bears.
If you look up her pattern, you'll see she does the bears in rainbow solids. But I didn't think my very cool 15 year old would be okay with rainbow bears. So I tried to up the cool factor a bit by making my bears into black, white and grey bears. (There is also a spotted bear in there that my friend Donna calls a 'leopard bear'.)

I also turned the darling optional glasses into some sweet shades - with the help of my guild friends, who donated various reflective fabric scraps for my sunglass lenses.  Pretty fly, dontcha think? (Do kids even say 'fly' anymore?)

I also ordered a minky backing for this quilt. Love the cuddliness and the great texture, hate the shedding and stretching. At least on this one I didn't have to fit bits of fluff coming up through to the
top in the needle holes.

As her others, this is a great pattern. And lends itself to some chain piecing. I made all the nose units at once which sped things up a bit. At least it felt that way. Good instructions. I appreciate that. Nothing like frustration free patterns when you are up against a Christmas deadline.

I did another all over design for the quilting. All freehand on my Innova.  I call this one hedgehog curls. It's a variation of one of the talented Tracey Russell's designs.

Oh, and for comparison, here is the quilt this one replaced:
Eight years ago. He was in first grade. I'm still pretty proud of this quilt. At the time, this was pretty advanced for me and I rocked it. But it's laughably small for my tall freshman boy.

And yes, he liked it. Not as exuberantly as his 11 year old younger brother but what can you expect from a cool teenage boy? He is grateful kid though and was sure to thank me for making him a new quilt. Can't ask for more than that, right?

Dogs in Sweaters - Christmas Quilt number 1

Hi Quilty Peeps!

You remember that I have 5 kiddos, right? And each of them have received a quilt made just for them by mom. But lately there has been a bit of polite grumbling on the part of the youngest two. Because I made their quilts quite a few years ago, when they were smaller. So their quilts are smaller. In fact, I made those two particular quilt just before we moved from Texas to Turkey. They were meant to be carried on planes and into hotel rooms.  So those two quilts are small. Like not even throw size.

And while quilts stay the same relative size, children do not. These two children are now a strapping 15 year old and a growing every day 11 year old. Thus the request for bigger quilts. Thus for Christmas, that is what they got. Here is the quilt for the 11 year old:

And for nostalgia's sake here is the quilt I made him 8 years ago :
I know it doesn't look small but trust me, it is. Slightly larger than a baby blanket and not nearly big enough for my baby-of-the-family-but-no-longer-a-baby son.

His new quilt was made from Elizabeth Hartman's Dogs in Sweaters pattern. Fabric was from various lines all purchased at the Arts and Crafts center at Baumholder Army base here in Germany. Thank goodness they had a good variety of quality prints and solids that played well together. It's a good 45 minute drive from my house but since I didn't leave myself enough time to order all the fabric, this store saved my bacon.

Aren't these dogs the cutest? The glasses just kill me. And they were especially appropriate since my youngest got glasses this year right before school started.

Elizabeth Hartman's patterns are great. I chain pieced as much as I could. That's not completely possible with this pattern but you do make 3 dogs at the same time, which is nice. I prefer quilting over piecing so anything that makes the piecing go faster is good in my book. Her instructions are very well done; easy to understand and follow.

I did order minky backing for this quilt and for his brother's. I knew they would both love the soft cuddliness of it. But I will admit that working with minky is not my favorite. The shedding, managing the stretchiness when loading on the frame, the shedding... I'm still finding dark blue fluff in my studio.  Still though, it shows some awesome quilting texture on the back and it is the best for cuddling.

Honestly, I didn't have time to do custom quilting on this. Santa does have deadlines after all, but I think the all over design worked perfectly.

Rory was over the moon happy to find this under the tree. Today I had to go steal it off his bed to get some pictures of it before it started to look too 'loved'.  Nice to be appreciated though right?

I'll do a separate post to show you the other Christmas quilt. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Hedgehog Post - A Quilt from Missouri Star's You've Got Mail Tutorial

Hey Quilters! Doesn't it feel great to get something out of the UFO pile? Especially if it is something that makes me smile every time I look at it.

I finished piecing this one shortly after we came back to the states from Turkey, so fall of 2013.  I used this tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Co. I had a layer cake and a jelly roll of Bluebird Park by Kate and Birdie Paper Co. for Moda that I was dying to use because several of the prints have cute little hedgehogs.  We had hedgehogs in Turkey that would come out at night and wander through the base housing area like little pokey potatoes. I loved them.

Anyway, the tutorial is great. Supposed to make a queen size top but I couldn't bear to leave out the spare HSTs so I made another row top and bottom. Also my piano key border, which is not included in the tutorial, is a bit wider than hers, since I used jelly roll strips rather than halved charm squares. All said and done, mine came out more of a king size at 86" by 100".

As it seemed too big for me to tackle quilting it with my domestic machine, I never finished it. And even after I got Olga (my Innova longarm) I hesitated, wanting to be pretty solid in my custom quilting skills before I tackled this one.

So when the German winter finally started giving way to spring, I decided it was time.

I really enjoyed the quilting process. Feather plumes, swirls, and double pin stripes for the envelopes surrounded by a stipple in the off blocks. And the HSTs were the perfect chance to perfect Lori Kennedy's square flower and to do some simple ruler work.

So now she's done and I get to enjoy her. I've got one more finished top sitting in that UFO pile. A fun one with yards of solid grey negative space and a lovely large braid down one side.  But I've had a couple of client quilts keeping me busy and a couple more in the queue. So it looks like I'll have a few more weeks to figure out what I'm going to do with it.

How many finished tops are in your UFO pile? And how well-aged is the oldest one?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Interchange Applique a la' Gillian Travis

      The lovely and interesting Gillian Travis recently visited our guild here in Germany for a trunk show and weekend of classes. I promise I don't mean 'interesting' as in 'slightly crazy' but as in actually interesting. Here is a lady who lives in England but travels everywhere and makes these amazing small journal quilts each month reflecting where she's been and what she saw. She brought dozens of them with her, most smaller than a piece of copy paper. And there were all so different. Visit her website's galleries page and check out the Journal quilts section.

And then be sure to pop onto the Voyage Quilts 2015 tab to see the Interchange Appliqué quilts that she taught us to do in the day long class I took.  Last October when I visited the European Quilt Championships in Maastricht, Netherlands I met Gillian and took a short free motion embroidery class from her. I also got to chat with her at her booth and see many of her interchange appliqué quilts in person.

The technique she teaches involves cutting a simple design from a square of batik fabric in such a way that you end up with a positive and a negative of the image. Both of these are then combined with two other fabric squares to create two blocks. She has done this with vases, turnips, pears, pomegranates, birds, and sweaters. Here are some of her many lovely interchange appliqué quilts:

But I decided to use elephants. I have a thing for them. Here is mine:

And I made two. Cuz why not?

Gillian did a fantastic job teaching us the technique. The hardest part for me was the color selection. I don't work with batiks very often but since this is essentially raw edge appliqué, batiks work really well because they are tightly woven and don't fray. I also don't have a lot of batiks. I brought what I had to the class but luckily all the students were generous and we swapped back and forth all over to make sure everyone got the pieces they needed.

There are actually no seams in the whole piece. The individual blocks are put together with fusible adhesive and then fused onto the batting. A zig zag stitch holds it all together, and a rat tail type binding with a length of matching yarn finishes off the edge.

The fun part is adding the details. It's been a while since I did any free motion stitching on my domestic machine but it came back pretty quickly.  Here's a closeup of  one block after I added some FMQ details.

We had our guild quilt retreat soon after the class, which was the prefect chance to get these completely finished. Someone took a couple of snaps of me while I was quilting.

One of these minis, the one with purple thread,  is now hanging on my studio wall with my other minis. The other I sent in a care package to a friend in California. I hope she likes it.

And I hope I cross paths with Gillian again.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Bountiful Temple Wedding quilt

After a long 5 month hiatus, I finally have Olga set up, running on 220V power, and quilting! (Cue trumpets and angel choirs.) I'm so excited to be able to get back in the quilting groove. I've also joined a quilt guild here in Germany, composed mostly of Americans connected with the military in some way. Many of them are teachers for the base schools. We had a lovely retreat last month and I finished two quilt tops. So I hope to be showing some newly finished quilts soon.

In the meantime, here is one more pre-move quilt that I haven't blogged about yet. This one was a favor to a dear friend from Utah whose oldest daughter got married this summer. She asked in May if I could possibly make a wedding quilt before I left. Oh, and could I quilt the Bountiful Temple on to the quilt?

Holy buckets!! Making the quilt at all was going to be a challenge in the time frame with my own trans-atlantic move coming up quickly, but I'd never attempted quilting an architectural structure before. Friend had found a black-line pattern for the temple online which I looked at and decided that I could give it a shot. Where are we without courage to try new things, right?

I decided to use a simple Giant Star pattern, using Jeni Baker's awesome tutorial on her blog In Color Order. I've used this twice before for wedding quilts. This pattern works up fast and is a great way to highlight a couple's chosen wedding colors. This post shows the same quilt done for my nephew's wedding gift.

In this instance, I simply left out the center HSTs, leaving a large space to quilt the temple.

Using the black line pattern wasn't too hard, especially since tracing through white fabric is fairly easy. Stitching it was just a lot of ruler work with a small ruler. I used Monopoly thread for the temple itself and white thread for all other areas of white fabric.
A closer shot of how the center turned out. Oh, and if you are wondering what a temple is and why it would be quilted onto a wedding quilt, Mormons perform weddings and other sacred ordinances inside temples. The buildings themselves are amazing beautiful inside and out. More information can be found at

Since the pattern was smaller than the center space, I added several layers of frame.

The star points got a yummy double orange peel treatment.

And the white background blocks were swirled.

Finally, I added a bonus block to the backing, just above the label:

Then I sent it off for the wedding of these two adorable people with my best wishes -

P.S. If you are interested in my adventures living and traveling in Europe, be sure to follow me on Instagram, idaratherbequilting. So far I've been to a quilt show in the Netherlands, pottery shopping in Poland, and next week I'm flying to Israel.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friendship - A Goodbye gift

Update on my adjustment to German life - I have my license and can now drive, which isn't too difficult other than the ridiculously narrow roads and some interesting ideas about right-of-way. Still, much easier to learn to drive here than it was in Turkey.

We have found a house to rent and will be moving in with temporary loaner furniture and our 25 suitcases next week. The hotel has been nice but we're all looking forward to have a bit more room to spread out.

Okay, so quilt number two that I saved to blog about later:

This quilt is called Friendship and was made from a jelly roll of Simple Marks by Malka Dubrawsky for Moda. I pieced the strips together in sets of four, trimmed them into squares and then created half square triangles with other strip set squares. As always, I threw in a few solids for visual rest. When I had pieced together all my HSTs, the top wasn't quite as big as I was hoping for so I added two borders of Simple Marks yardage to top and bottom.

I think this line has a funky, modern vibe and wanted the overall quilt design to be in tune with that. It was also important that the quilting be modern as well so I chose a freehand striped seed pod pattern for the body of the quilt and then just echoed the wavy lines of the borders.

For the backing I used a dark green batik and as always, added my Spoonflower-made label.

The quilt was for my friend Ruth. Have you ever had God put someone in your life for a specific purpose? Ruth and I, in many ways, are not alike. But it became clear fairly quickly that God had put Ruth in my life. It was like He was saying, "Here. You two are going to need each other. So reach out and hold on."

Ruth became an anchor for me during some pretty rough storms and a light in a dark time. She taught me about healing and energy and how to work through pain. She is one of the most intuitive people I have every known. And one of the most real. She has a lovely soul.

And she's willing to get a turban wrap with me at an Indian Food and Culture festival both our families attended. (Yes, I totally wore this the rest of the day, even to the grocery store.)

We knew that saying goodbye was going to be hard for both of us. So we kind of avoided it. Ruth was going to be at a family reunion when we actually left so we went to lunch a few days before her trip and chatted like we always do. We hugged when she dropped me off and tried not to tear up.
And I didn't give her the quilt.

Because I knew that if I had given it to her then and tried to explain what she had meant to me during the past three years, we would both be blubbering messes. So I had entrusted Maria, the friend I made  Purple Pretties for, with a mission.  After I had moved away and once Ruth was back in town, she was to deliver the quilt. I included a simple card that read, "You blessed my life in so many ways. Thank you."

Sometimes a few words have to stand in for all the words you can't find.

And often a quilt has to stand in for all the hugs you won't be there to give.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Purple Pretties (Hello from Germany!)

Bit of a news flash - I moved to Germany. And as a result, I haven't sewn a stitch for six weeks. SIX WEEKS!! And I'm really recognizing how true the saying, "Quilting is my therapy" is cuz without it, the stress of this move is just about to do me in!

But I did save a few finishes for this down time (....and I didn't have time to blog in the pre-move busyness) so I could get a quilting fix through blogging about it.

Meet Purple Pretties:
This beauty was a commissioned quilt for my good friend Maria Rodriguez Fuentes, maker of all amazing food, Mexican and otherwise.  A few months before our move, Maria asked if I would make her a quilt to remember us by. (Awww!)

Maria's favorite color is purple, something I don't have a lot of in my stash. But Northcott fabric had sent me a few yards of their Artisan Spirit Ambience Violet to test and I still had a quite a bit of it left. Perfect!

The pattern is Craftsman by Amy Smart. Now I think Craftsman tools from Sears when I read that but she meant windows in craftsman style houses. Either way, its a really great pattern to show off larger scale prints that you don't want to cut up too tiny and it works up fast.

I added a couple of prints from Typography from Cloud9 Fabric, a lovely Gelato ombre, and a random batik that I've had in my stash forever. They all played nicely together and both Maria and I were very pleased with how it turned out.

I had lots of fun with Olga finding different patterns to quilt in each large block. After washing, we had all kinds of yummy texture.

I had purchased some wide quilt backing fabric for the back in a nice lavender. Did the binding by machine but hand stitched on my label.

Did you notice these aren't my normal brown desert photos? We took the quilt with us on a picnic up to Mount Charleston where it was green and beautiful. Well, green compared to the desert around Vegas anyway.

Purple Pretties was my next-to-last quilt made in Las Vegas. The final quilt was a gift for a dear friend's daughter who is getting married in 2 days!! I shipped it off to her without taking many pics but they have promised to send me some. So stay tuned for a blog post about that quilt. And send some prayers my way that Olga and Helga make it across the ocean with no damage.

Till then,
Auf Wiedersehen!