Boy’s Column Quilt Top

Boy Column Quilt top

This past weekend I finished up the top for my first charity quilt of 2014. Project Linus is always looking for quilts for boys, and I made this one hoping that it would appeal to an older boy.

Like my last quilt for Project Linus, this one, too, was sewn in columns or strips. As Nancy Zieman pointed out in her original blog posts about column charity quilts (and in her upcoming book, Quick Column Quilts, which I happen to be editing), column designs are perfect for charity quilts because they sew up so quickly.

Boy Column Quilt columns

Look at all those long straight lines! So once you get your pieces cut, you can just sew and sew and sew.

Most of the fabrics in the quilt top came from my stash. My stash space is finite, and the blues and greens no longer fit in their designated space. So I pulled the blues and greens I thought might appeal to a boy and added them to the mix.

Boy Column Quilt fabrics

I had a lot of the blue/green/gray print shown above and thought this was the perfect opportunity to use it up. Of course, I didn’t bother to figure out if I actually had enough of it for my quilt plan. It seemed like I had so much, I didn’t even worry about it. But then, of course, I ran out. So I went to Lavender Street and chose the darker navy and black fabric, shown above, to finish up the quilt.

Boy Column Quilt top

I think the dark navy fabric really gives the quilt a nice pop of color and keeps it from being too dull. And Greg said he thinks it makes it more masculine, too. Well, I guess that wasn’t the incentive I needed to make sure I have enough fabric before I start my next project.

The quilt top is 58 inches wide by 76 inches long. It’s a pretty big one, but I’m going to try quilting it at home with straight stitching.

As a bit of an aside, I used the same blue fish fabric in both this quilt and the previous Project Linus quilt I made for a boy. I was telling my mom about this quilt and happened to mention that fabric. As it turns out, she just finished a boy quilt for Project Linus that also contained blue fish fabric. So if boys don’t actually like blue fish fabric, someone should really let us know.

Bird Ornaments

Birds hangingBack in October when I was convalescing, my wonderful and thoughtful mom sent me a package of quilting magazines. I rarely buy magazines myself, so to have a whole stack to go through was pretty awesome. One of the magazines she sent was Quilts Arts Gifts 2013-2014. In it, I found the perfect small project to get me back on my sewing feet.

Wool Felt Ornament spread

The article was “Wool Felt Bird Ornaments” by Melony Miller Bradley. I loved the scribbled stitching on the birds, the stamped sentiments, and the overall mixed-media look.

Emma bird ornament

While I used Melony’s template for the bird bodies, my construction and finished look differed from hers. I skipped adding a flower to the bottom of each bird, and instead of gluing, I sewed on the ribbon, wing, beak and bead eye.

Girl bird ornaments

Instead of stamping a whole sentiment on the wings, I made the wings smaller and stamped the name of each member of my family.

Boy bird ornaments

And instead of using all wool felt, I mixed it up a bit and made some with wool fabric. Finally, instead of using simple organza ribbon for the hangers, I decided to splurge on some Renaissance ribbon from Sewn Studio (and then supplemented with ribbon from my own stash).

I made one bird for each member of my family—15 in all—and brought them up to Wisconsin for Christmas. Since Greg and I were the first ones at Mom and Dad’s house, I thought it would be fun to have them out for when everyone else arrived. So Greg, being the wonderful husband that he is, hung them all from the light fixture and shelf in the dining room.

Birds hanging

My thought was that everyone would cut down their bird as they went back home, but the birds looked so nice as a flock that everyone just left them hanging. Mom already has a bird tree planned for next year, where all the ornaments will be birds, including these little guys.

These ornaments made great little gifts and gift tags, too. I ended up making several more for the holiday season, stamping “Joy” on some and names on others. I purchased the wool felt from Maureen Cracknell’s Etsy shop (she has a ton of great colors) and most of the wool fabric from Lavender Street.

Girly Quilt for Ronald McDonald House

I have a work-in-progress for you today: a girly quilt for the Ronald McDonald House charity. The first quilt I made for them had a boyish vibe, so I thought I’d make this second one a bit more girly. And girly it is.

I didn’t have a very clear plan as I making the quilt top. I had only a third of a yard of the two fabrics I wanted to feature—the purple floral and the dragonfly fabric that I picked up at Lavender Street—so I knew I would need to be creative. I decided to forgo borders on this quilt and designed the whole 40-inch length and width with 8-inch blocks. I did realize I needed to add something to stretch this to a quilt, so I stopped down to Sewn Studio and picked up the purple gingham. I made the pieced blocks uniform, at least to the extent that there’s a dragonfly print, a teal fabric, and a white and gray print, in that order, in each block.

Once I got the blocks cut and pieced, I played around a lot with the layout. I decided to keep the purple floral central and to use the gingham more as filler. I oriented the pieced blocks so on the inside the dragonflies were toward the purple floral, but they were toward the outside along the edges of the quilt. This made kind of cool pattern of the teal strips, too.

For once I actually had enough of one fabric—the purple gingham—for the backing! But after cobbling together so many quilt backs, I decided one fabric seemed a bit too plain. So I was super daring and tried my hand at raw-edge applique to create a dragonfly label based on the dragonflies in the print on the front of the quilt. I drew my dragonfly on Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, cut out the pieces, and placed them on fabric. I then cut out the fabric pieces and ironed them to the white and gray background fabric. I used a zigzag stitch to secure the applique pieces, and then pieced the whole label into the backing fabric.

I was so happy with my applique dragonfly that I really didn’t want to mess him up with random quilting. So after stitching in the ditch on the front of the quilt, just enough to get things secure, I turned the quilt over, and quilted around my dragonfly.

With that territory now set aside for the dragonfly, I turned the quilt over back to the front, and I’m finishing the quilting, taking care not to bother my dragonfly.

I’m doing simple straight lines to mimic the straight lines on the pieced block, and I’ll add a wavy line in each of the teal strips.

And for the floral and gingham blocks, I’m trying my hand at flowers using my walking foot.

I still have a good bit more quilting to do on this one, but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turning out. I’m hoping this one will make a little girl feel a bit of comfort in the next few weeks.

String Quilt #2

And the string quilt #2 wall-hanging top is complete! As I mentioned, my first string quilt used scraps from previous projects. For this one, I wanted to use some of my favorite current fabrics, focusing on the orange and green ones that make up the bulk of my stash. I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out. Not all of the seams line up perfectly and a few stars are missing their points, but one of the things I love about string quilts is the imperfections are part of the charm. So I just added a few more imperfections of my own.

I’ve decided not to add borders to this string quilt either. To me, there’s so much going on that adding a border seems like just one more thing. Of course, one theory would be that a border could keep the chaos of the strings contained a bit. But I think I’m going to let a turquoise binding serve that task.

So next up is the quilting: the part that usually holds me up for several months…well, more likely several years. Because it is a nice, manageable wall-hanging size, my plan is to quilt it myself using all straight lines. The straight lines will be outside the ditch (because stitching in the ditch isn’t as easy as it sounds), adding to the geometric lines already going on.

Part of my quilting issues come from not having a really good, reliable marking tool. So my ears perked up recently when the women at the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild were talking about the Chaco Liner marking pen from Clover. Several of them have had great success with it, so I purchased one from Lavender Street in Montgomery (a shop dangerously close to my home), and I’m going to give it a try.

To learn how this quilt came to be, you can refer back to this blog post. And to read about some of the quirks of working on this quilt, you can take a look back at this post.