Why Do You Quilt?

One day while sitting on the beach admiring the ocean my cousin (whom I love like a sister) asked me this question. She wondered why out of all of the hobbies and activities in this world I chose quilting as mine. I was in my early 30’s at the time so it probably seemed like an odd hobby to her being in her 20’s. The answer for me is the same now as it was then; because I love it! It’s a passion not just a hobby! Quilting relaxes me (most days) and keeps me sane. No amount of therapy could do for me what quilting has done. There is nothing more rewarding than finishing a quilt and gifting it to someone who will truly appreciate it. I rarely quilt for money because I don’t want it to turn into a job and have deadlines. Some days I will work in my sewing room for 12 hours straight barely stopping to eat and then other times I have dry spells where I don’t sew at all. It usually doesn’t last long though and I find myself looking through a new book and pulling fabrics to start on my next project. I love knowing that one day when I’m gone, my children and grandchildren will have quilts that I have made to remember me by. Everyone in my house fights over the quilts that my great grandmother made because they are so worn and soft! I can only hope that one day my future grandchildren will do the same!

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Even the cats fight for space on my Grandmother’s quilt!

Finished T-Shirt Quilt

I finally finished my son’s t-shirt quilt last night (remember I am slow at hand sewing). He loves it and can’t wait to use it on his dorm bed.

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View of quilting on back of quilt

Today I had an easy job, I monogrammed towels for him to take to college. He wasn’t excited about me embroidering his towels but I am only putting one small letter (last name initial) on each one so if someone has the same towels, he can quickly recognize his. He will be sharing a bathroom with 3 other young men and I know things will get mixed up!

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I used a satin fill stitch and a basic font in Monogram Wizard Plus called Gregory. I wanted to use a monochromatic thread but the closest I had was lighter than the towels. Not wanting to make a trip to my LQS I decided to use it. I think they look classy and not feminine which is what he was worried about.

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Now I can get back to work on my 3 fabric Bargello quilt. We leave in a few days to take our son to school so I probably won’t have time to get a lot done on it but will look forward to finishing it when we get back from Wake Forest. When that is done, it will be time to start my favorite sewing of the year, Christmas gifts!

T-Shirt Quilt Continued…

I’m still working on the t-shirt quilt for my son. I added the borders and got it quilted over the weekend. I added the binding this morning and now it’s time to hand sew the binding to the back which takes me forever! I am so slow with hand work, I would never have the patience to hand quilt like my grandmother did! The quilt turned out to be 102”x70” which is a good size since my son is almost 7 feet tall (6’8 to be exact and still growing). I loaded it sideways on the longarm machine because it’s much easier to work across a long row instead of starting and stopping constantly.

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I’m not happy with the backing of the quilt but there is nothing I can do about it now. I went to my local quilt shop on Saturday to buy wide backing so I wouldn’t have to piece it (I’m on a very tight time schedule). I guess we had a miscommunication about yardage because when I got home and loaded the quilt on my machine I was short about 15” of backing fabric. I take full responsibility for the mistake because I have been overwhelmed with everything going on trying to get my son ready for school. My LQS is about an hour and a half round trip and it’s closed on Sundays so I went to Walmart and bought a sheet to use for the back rather than waiting and making another trip. I’ve used sheets in the past but to get the color I wanted I had to buy a (more expensive) brand that I have never used before. It has a sateen finish and the tension on my longarm really gave me problems, most likely because the sheet has a very high thread count. I finally worked through the problem using King Tut thread and loosening my thread tension and roller tension. (I have a bad habit of rolling my quilts too tight!) Tonight I have a date with a needle and thread. I’m going to put on a good movie, fix a cup of coffee and start sewing…

T-shirt Quilt

Our youngest son will be leaving for college very soon. I have offered many times to make a quilt for his dorm room bed and he has declined every time. I was okay with that even though I have been saving his t-shirts since he was 10 years old to make him a quilt. While going through his clothes to see what was needed for school, he was sad that many of his favorite shirts were too small and decided that he did want a t-shirt quilt after all! Of course that meant that I had to put everything on hold (sorry 3 fabric bargello) and get busy!

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I quickly cut them up and ironed on a lightweight stabilizer.

His dorm bed is a twin XL so luckily it’s not a large quilt. I had to make a trip to my LQS because he couldn’t find anything in my stash that he liked for the sashing and borders. Before sewing on sashing, I like to arrange the squares on the floor in a pleasing order.

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I don’t use a pattern for my t-shirt quilts because I like them to look very random. I cut them into different size squares and use sashing on the sides of each block to make them the size of the largest block in each row. Then I piece them vertically instead of horizontally with sashing between each block. I use color coded sticky dots to number my rows and blocks so if they get out of order, I can quickly figure out where they go. Sometimes I get lazy with this step and just take a pic with my cell phone of the layout before piecing.

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After sewing, I press the seams open because they can get a little bulky with the t-shirts and stabilizer.

I got a little emotional cutting up some of his shirts because it hit me that he is leaving and we will be empty nesters in the very near future. I have been a homeschool mom for 12 years and I am excited to see the plans that God has for his future but sad that he is leaving. He will be attending college out of state and will be about 5 1/2 hours away from home.

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Below is a pic of my progress so far. I still have to sew on the final borders, quilt and bind it. We leave in one week to take him to school and I also have to get him packed and organized during the week as well. I will update with a pic when finished…

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Mistakes in Quilting– Rapid Fire Hunter’s Star

There is nothing more frustrating than to realize you have made a huge mistake when working with a pattern for the first time (or any time!). I usually catch it early enough to correct the mistake but this was not the case when making the Rapid Fire Hunter’s Star Quilt. I had heard from several people that it was an easy quilt to make but it looked impressive and complicated. I bought the Rapid Fire Hunter’s Star ruler, pattern and pulled fabrics from my stash and was ready to get started. I had a dear friend help me with the first couple of blocks and I was impressed with how simple it was.

When it came time to sew my blocks together, I must have turned the first one the wrong way. Not realizing it, I put the whole queen sized quilt together with the blocks turned incorrectly. I added the borders, quilted it and even completed the binding before realizing it!

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Example of a correct block

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Incorrect block (my quilt)

One day while visiting one of my online quilting forums someone posted a pic of her Rapid Fire Hunter’s Star quilt in the same colors. In my mind they looked identical but when I posted a pic of my quilt to show her I realized my mistake. Unfortunately it was too late to correct it.

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I was so disheartened I wouldn’t even use it in my spare bedroom. My mom came over for a visit and fell in love with it so I gave it to her. She didn’t see a mistake but simply a quilt she thought was beautiful and colorful. Looking at the above picture I can appreciate it a little more but I haven’t made another quilt with this pattern because I was very discouraged. The ruler made it easy so I will eventually make another one but I will use a design wall and make sure my blocks are turned correctly next time. I’ve made lots of mistakes in my quilting  journey but this was the worst one.

Current Project: 3 Fabric Bargello

The quilt I’m currently working on is a 3 fabric bargello. I have to be honest, this quilt has been very confusing and I couldn’t have done it without taking a class. It would’ve helped if I had made a 2 fabric bargello first but I skipped that one and jumped right in with both feet!

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It’s been a few weeks since the class ended and unfortunately I have been too busy to work on it until today. There are no published instructions, just add-on notes to the 2 fabric pattern that you receive when you sign up for the class. The instructor did a terrific job explaining it though and I love how it’s turning out so hopefully it will be worth all of the confusion in the end.

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To get the interesting color combination, the pattern calls for an ombré fabric for the background. These fabrics usually run dark to light to dark again across the width of the fabric.

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There are also two insert fabrics that need to contrast slightly with the ombré  fabric.

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Auditioning my fabrics before getting started

I only have 8 strips sewn together and there are a total of 39. It is a slow process because you have to be very precise with the math, seam allowance, measurements and cutting. It’s also very important to keep the strips numbered until they are sewn together. I was going to use this as a throw on my couch but because of the time involved it may turn out to be a wall hanging instead!

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The strips behind the 3 fabric Bargello are from a 16 fabric Bargello I am also working on. I find the 3 fabric quilt top much harder than the 16 fabric one.

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The basting stitch is used as a guide and will be taken out later.

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These are the strips that I still have to line up and sew together. I will update with a pic when it is completed!

My 5 Favorite Quilt Patterns

#5 Scrap quilt-

Being a quilter for almost 14 years I have accumulated a huge pile scraps. If I didn’t donate them by the trash bag full my house would be over run and I wouldn’t have anywhere to put them. I have passed them down to thrift stores and new quilters wanting to make a scrap quilt. This quilt is very easy to make and requires no pattern. I simply cut muslin squares 9 1/2” and sew random width strips corner to corner starting in the middle of the square and working out. Some people sew the strips to newspaper and tear it off when done but I like the sturdiness of using a muslin foundation fabric. When the block is finished, I square it up with a 9” square ruler. I usually work on 4 blocks at a time and sew them together when completed. When I have enough for whatever size quilt I want, I sew the 4 patches together and then quilt it. This method allows me to put a gift together quickly and easily plus there’s the added bonus of using up that forever growing pile of scraps!

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#4 Carpenter Star-

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I ordered this book from Amazon years ago and have made quite a few quilts in this pattern. The book has 2 patterns, the Carpenter’s Star and the Broken Star. I have made both but prefer the Carpenter’s star. It goes together quickly and easily and the instructions are great. It comes with printable paste up charts and there are no y-seams.

 

 

 

#3 Walk about pattern-

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I’ve made this pattern so many times that I rarely, if ever, take pictures of the finished quilt anymore. I also barely need to look at the pattern because I have it memorized! This quilt can be chain pieced and also goes together quickly. The patten offers instructions in every size from crib to king.

 

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#2 Keyboard Kaleidoscope-

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This is the quilt that I currently have on my bed. The colorful keyboard border around the center of the quilt makes it pop!

I made this quilt in a class at my local quilt shop, Accent Sewing, in Murrells Inlet, SC. I love the fabrics and haven’t changed out the quilt on my bed since I completed it. That is saying a lot because I used to change the quilt every time I changed my sheets! Now, the only time I use another quilt is if this one is being washed. I alway hang my quilts to dry (inside my house) so it usually takes a couple of days to dry.

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#1 Dresden (Express)-

I guess I am a traditionalist at heart because the Dresden quilt has always been my favorite. This was the 3rd quilt I ever made and my first queen sized quilt. At the time, we were living full time on our motor home and I wanted something pretty to put on our bed. The plates went together surprisingly fast using the Dresden Express ruler.

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My mom loved it so much I made a king size quilt for her bed also.

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mobile pics 172After I finish my current project (3 color bargello) I plan to make one in a king size for my bed. We no longer live on our RV and now have a king bed so the first one I made is too small. Maybe a Dresden quilt will tempt me away from the Kaleidoscope quilt!