Quilt finished in time

I love it when I can deliver a baby quilt before the baby is delivered. Grandson Callan is still expected, as I write this, and the quilt is in the hands of the parents, completed a couple of weeks ago.

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I did the binding differently this time. I machine-stitched it to the front and folded it to the back, but what is different is that I machine-stitched it to the back as well. I made sure the stitches would catch the binding, and used a blind hem stitch (3 straight stitches then a zig zag). The arthritis in my hands just won’t allow the tug of hand-stitching binding any more. I did hand-stitch the label into place, which I created on my 12-year-old Brother embroidery machine.

I have already begun the quilt for the September grandbaby.

 

Change of plans

Once before, I made a baby quilt and it was sized more for a twin bed (almost) than a baby. That was the fireworks quilt from 2011, posted here. I almost made that error again. Somehow, when I added the sizes of the blocks and the sashing, it didn’t seem as large as when I started sewing it all together.

When I had several rows sewn together, still 6 blocks wide, I realized it was far too big. I laid it on the floor and reimagined how it should look. I decided it was one block wider than it should be, and I would only sew rows 3-8 together. That meant some stitch ripping, which is not unusual for me in any project. It made for a much friendlier, crib-sized quilt.

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Examples of twins:

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The floral fabric above and to the right is leftover from sewing the baby’s aunt an Easter dress when she was about 7 years old.

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The baby’s father requested the Hershey print fabric for a wall hanging project when he was a teenager.

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Sadly, the block from this fabric didn’t make it into the quilt (poor planning on my part) but I’m glad there are two cornerstones with the bowling pin fabric. I spent a lot of time with the baby’s father and the rest of our family in a bowling alley while he was a young teenager (and a very good bowler, I must add).

 

Blocks into rows

The next step is to add sashing and cornerstones. The pattern of the blocks and the colors make it far too busy to simply sew them together. I added white sashing and cornerstones of the printed fabrics. I laid out the blocks and chose the cornerstones so that they would not obviously match the block before or after in that row. I did not go so far as to make sure rows above and below were the same way, so there could be some adjacent matching that way. There is only so much OCD I can stand in myself!

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I started with the first row and made the sashing to the left and top of the block. The final block on the right side of the row would need an extra sashing and cornerstone on the right side, and the final row would need an extra sashing and cornerstone on the bottom of the block.

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I always mark my rows with a piece of paper, or I’d never keep it all straight.

After sewing blocks into rows, I had this:

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My plan was to have 8 rows with 6 blocks in each row. More about that in the next post. “The best laid plans of mice and men…”

June baby

Our daughter-in-law announced just after Christmas that she is expecting another baby boy. Two years ago I finished this star quilt and presented it for their baby boy born that year.

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After recovering from my stem cell transplant in January, I knew I had a short time to make the new baby a quilt of his own. I like the shortcuts the Eleanor Burns comes up with, and remembered seeing a televised episode of her quilting show that featured the “Twin Sisters” quilt block. (You can watch it online here) Anything Eleanor says can be done quickly would work for me. After I completed the wall hanging for my niece I had less than 2 months left.

I intended to shop for fat quarters, but decided to dig into my scraps and see what I could find. I estimated about 50 blocks would be needed for a baby quilt. I found I had plenty of fabrics that I could cut up and use. I had already begun working again from home (love telecommuting!) so I only had evenings and weekends again to work on it. Here is a look at one of my first quilt block pairs:

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You may have noticed my pinwheels spin backwards. Story of my life! Once I began that way, I had to continue that way. After sewing the strips, cutting blocks, cutting the diagonal, then sewing again, I ended up with 56 blocks, plenty to lay out for a baby quilt with some to spare. I really enjoy the shortcuts, making it slightly over-sized then trimming. Makes the blocks more accurate than I could normally accomplish!

I was able to incorporate some of the star patterned fabrics from big brother’s quilt, and also other fabrics the baby’s father might recognize from other projects.

Back to quilting again

I haven’t explained my spotty quilting and posting lately. I was diagnosed in July, 2013 with Multiple Myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood. The initial treatments (biologic – pills and injections) caused several side effects including fatigue. I wanted to work as long as I was able to, but that meant I mostly dozed in the evenings and rested on the weekends. I didn’t do much sewing or quilting. In January, 2014 I had a stem cell transplant. My own stem cells were harvested from my blood and returned after high-dose chemotherapy. I’ve recovered stamina and energy since then, so I am back to sewing. As I said, it’s incurable for now, but I am in complete remission for a while.

My niece lived near the major hospital where I had the transplant, 4 hours’ drive from my home. There were a few times I needed to stay in the area for appointments and she graciously allowed my husband and me to stay several nights. She stocked up on foods and drinks we preferred and I enjoyed the energy of her household of 6. As a thank you gift, my first quilting project post-transplant was to make her a wall hanging she would enjoy.

I’ve made a couple of bookshelf quilts and it’s still a favorite of mine. I am able to use scraps from my bins and personalize it for the recipient. For hers, I included a birdhouse as a bookend, a shelf lamp, a framed photo in which I embroidered an image of her cat, and a coffee mug with Detroit Tigers’ logo.

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When I make this quilt, I always try to make the leaning or stacked or upright books look as natural as possible. I’ve seen some finished quilts with nothing keeping the upright books in place and that always bothers me! The edges on this one seem wavy because I had just finished the binding and hadn’t pressed it.

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(Close-up photos of the wall hanging)

My niece loved it and quickly posted a picture of it hanging near her reading chair. I hope each time she looks at it she sees how much I love and appreciate her and her family.

My husband’s oldest daughter and daughter-in-law both announced they were expecting their next babies, so I have new projects to begin!

Piecing and quilting all in one

ragged pieced doll quilt

Lilly’s doll’s quilt

I’ve seen quilts made by others using this technique, but I hadn’t tried it for myself. One granddaughter is receiving a rag doll from us for Christmas, and I decided (of course!) the dolly needs a quilt.

I started with two pieces of white cotton with  batting pinned between. Then I got into my stash of small pieces of fabric to start placing colorful squares and rectangles.

ImageThe lavender with lady bugs is leftover from making the same granddaughter a sundress with hat and diaper cover. Other fabrics will also be familiar in the quilts I’ve made when she and her brothers were babies.

I pinned the fabric and stitched about 1/8″ from the raw edge, backstitching where I began and ended. This leaves a small amount of fabric to unravel in the wash. I left white space between, to act as sashing and to separate the fabric designs and colors. As I was placing them, I decided to concentrate on pink, yellow, green and purple.

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pinned squares

I would pin several pieces, then stitch them, and repeat. With a doll-sized quilt, it was quick and easy. I enjoy looking at the quilting design on the back as I go.

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quilting

When it was complete, I trimmed the edges and bound it with more sugary-pink fabric. Now I have to mail it off the the granddaughter so her baby doll won’t be cold on Christmas morning.

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Merry Christmas!

String quilt finish

I managed to learn a new technique and finish the string quilt I began back in June of 2010! Click the link to see some block layouts I tried.

The blocks stayed in a plastic tub on my shelf, because there was no recipient slated for it, and I didn’t have a deadline. I learned that about myself, I need a deadline. I saw this post on Margaret’s Hope Chest blog, and decided the string quilt can be finished and used for this purpose. Check it out, and see if you know anyone that can help out this great cause.

String quilt complete

String quilt complete

I am not going to write out the tutorial for Quilt-as-you-go sashing, because so many others have done it. What I would do, though, is adjust what I did so that the sashing is a bit narrower. All my great corner fabrics were hidden! I used the same fabric for front and back sashing, and at the end of cutting the strips, I had a piece left that is 2″ by about 20″. Just enough!

As I was trying a layout, I wanted the heart shape, but wanted only 5 blocks wide instead of 6 as I tried a couple of years ago. I made it 4 blocks wide and cut blocks in half as a kind of self border. I’m very pleased with how it looks!

View of the lake on a snowy January day.

View of the lake on a snowy January day.

Since this is my view today, I think I’ll be sewing some more! Projects recently completed include doll clothes and wool mittens, but today I’m going to concentrate on fleece vests for myself.