Medallion Charity Quilt Top

medallion_chairI spent the last weekend in October at the annual OHcraft Sew-In, held this year at General Butler State Park in Carrollton, Kentucky. OHcraft is a group of sewing enthusiasts from Ohio, as well as Northern Kentucky and other surrounding states. The sew-in was organized by the awesome Kara Sanders and included swaps, a fabric destash table, and lots and lots of time to sew.

My main objective for the weekend was to work on a medallion quilt for Project Linus. I hadn’t done a medallion quilt before, and I decided a bright child’s quilt would be the place to start.

A medallion quilt is one with a central motif surrounded by borders that are either pieced or just one fabric. In the sketch that I drew, the central motif is actually several pinwheel blocks, followed by a round a four-patches, a round of flying geese, and finally, a plain fabric border.

medallion_sketchBefore the sew-in, I cut the pieces for the pinwheels, four-patches, and flying geese using bright colors from my stash and a zigzag fabric I was hoping to use up. Then I got down to sewing.

medallion_fourpatchesThe pinwheels came together easily using half-square triangles. Next, I made up the four-patches using that zigzag fabric. I grossly overestimated the number of four-patches I would need, so I had a lot of these left over. With the four-patches on, I squared up the quilt. Squaring up after each round is important to ensure the quilt maintains the intended shape. It’s easy to get those border strips out of whack.

medallion_geeseThe flying geese came next. I cut my goose fabric so that I could make a majority of the geese using the no-waste method. But because that makes four geese from one fabric, I created some single geese, too, to ensure I had the fabric variety I wanted.

As I was adding the geese, I realized that my design meant that all the geese seams really needed to match up with all the four-patch seams. That turned out to be a lot of seam matching.

Somehow, getting that far took me all afternoon and evening on Friday and most of the day on Saturday. Much, much longer than I had anticipated. Plus my geese points were butchered and the whole thing was looking pretty chaotic to me. So I put that project away for the rest of the weekend and picked it up this past weekend. My plan had been to just add a border of the zigzag fabric at this point, but that wasn’t working for me. So first I added a border of orange to try to calm things down.

medallion_orangeborderI would have liked to stop here, but the quilt was less than 40 inches wide at this point, and I wanted it to be bigger so a child could really wrap up in it. The zigzag border still wasn’t working for me, so I dug into my stash and found a fabric that to me looks like impressionistic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

medallion_border-fabricThat fabric is pretty chaotic, too, but I liked that it was darker and gave some weight to the final border. The quilt top is now about 48 x 60 inches.

medallion_topI had a ton of that border fabric, so I used it on the back of the quilt as well. That’s where I used up all those extra four-patches, too.

medallion_backNext up is the quilting. My plan is to use straight lines of quilting to help make the center and rounds stand out from each other. I’d love to get this one finished by the end of the year, but we’ll see how that plays out . . .


Primary Circles Charity Quilt

Primary Cirlces Quilt

It’s been a while since I donated a quilt to a charity, so I recently made finishing up this one a priority. I started it back in July of last year after I picked up the circle fabric at the Herrschner’s fabric sale last June. I always hear that charities need quilts for boys, so when I saw this fabric for just a few dollars a yard, I couldn’t pass it up.

I had several fabrics that matched the main fabric in my stash, but I didn’t have a whole lot of any one of them. So I played around with what I had and came up with this very simple layout. There’s so much going on with the circle fabric that I didn’t feel it needed much more.

Primary Circle quilt top

I wanted to practice quilting non-straight lines on this quilt, so I kept my walking foot on and made figure-eights around the circles. I wasn’t trying to make the lines perfect, but man, did they turn out wonky. I probably should have tried full out free-motion quilting, but I chickened out. Next time, I might just have to go for it. I quilted simple straight lines in the strips and borders.

Primary Circles Quilting

As luck would have it, I was getting ready to give a presentation on quilt labels to the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild when I was finishing this quilt. So I decided to try a new kind of label that I could show at the presentation.

Primary Circles label

I cut a 4″ x 6″ rectangle and folded over and stitched one long edge. I then pinned the label in the lower right-hand corner and sewed my binding onto the front of the quilt. As I was sewing, I caught the two edges of the label on the back (well, actually, it took a couple of tries to catch the edges and have the label be relatively straight).

Primary Circle label complete

I sewed the back side of my binding as usual, folding it up onto the label in this corner. Since a child will be getting this quilt, I didn’t want to leave the long edge of the label open, so I hand-stitched it down to the backing. I like the way it turned out, and hand-stitching one side is a lot faster than hand-stitching all four!

The backing fabric is some that Mom picked up on clearance. The colors match the front just about perfectly, and I like that the circles kind of look like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

After I give it a wash, this guy is going to get donated to Project Linus. Hopefully it will find a good home with someone soon.

Green and Yellow String Quilt

Green string option 2

When I wasn’t working on my improv Churn Dash at the sewing retreat earlier this month, I was working on a new string quilt. Yes, another string quilt. I can’t help it—they’re just so fun to make.

My plan was to use bright and novelty print scraps to make a child’s charity quilt, probably for Project Linus. I decided to start each 8-inch block with a green triangle and end it with a yellow triangle, with the strings in the middle.

Green string blockI made 25 of the blocks before I ran out of the green fabric. So I started to play around with them to see what my setting options were. And the abundance of options is just one of the things I like about string blocks.

Green string option 1Zigzag strings with the green arrows pointing up.

Green string option 4Zigzag strings with the green arrows pointing down.

Green string option 2Green and yellow squares starting with a yellow in the upper left.

Green string option 3 Green and yellow squares starting with a yellow in the lower left.

I decided I liked the third option best, with the yellow square in the upper left, which left the partial green squares at the bottom of the quilt rather than at the top.

But the blocks together didn’t seem as playful and bright as I had hoped. So I decided to lighten up the whole thing with white sashing.

Green string with white

I cut the sashing strips to 2 inches, so they finished at 1.5 inches. I do think the sashing lightens it up. It also takes away from the neat shapes made by the strings and the triangles, but you still kind of see them. I was thinking that one way to knock back the white just bit would be to quilt over it with colored thread. But, man, my quilting would need to be good to do that!

Right now, the quilt is measuring 46 x 46 inches. If I give it to Project Linus, I will make it a bit wider and longer with borders of some sort. Or I just found out that a benefit is taking place for my friend with colon cancer. So maybe I’ll finish it with a scrappy binding and call it a big, square baby quilt.


Finished Pinwheel Challenge Quilt

Pinwheel Challenge Quilt sideHere it is—my finished Pinwheel Challenge Quilt! As I mentioned in my first post on this quilt, I received the fabrics as part of the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge through the Modern Quilt Guild. All the pinwheels were made with the challenge fabric, and I added the solids and a bit more of one of the challenge fabrics.

Pinwheel Challenge quilt final

For the quilting, I just echoed around the pinwheel shapes, which got a little wacky as I got further out and the pinwheel echoes collided. I probably should have drawn more of these echo lines to ensure they were straight. But I just went for it, so some of them are more than a bit off. For the orange strip and bottom fabric, I just quilted intersecting wavy lines. I hoped maybe this would conceal the crookedness of the bottom fabric a bit.

Pinwheel Challenge quilt backHere’s the back of the quilt. I like that you can see the quilting of the pinwheels (although from this distance, you can’t see the closed part of the pinwheel and can only see the outline, which looks a bit like an unfortunate symbol—let’s ignore that).

After I bring this quilt to the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild meeting tonight and I get a label put on, it will be off to Project Linus. I hope it brings someone a bit of joy.

Pinwheel Challenge Quilt

MM Pinwheel quilt detail 2I’m participating in my first fabric challenge! The challenge is through the national Modern Quilt Guild and is sponsored by Michael Miller fabrics. Each participant received the same six fat eighths of the Michael Miller Petal Pinwheels line; the challenge is just to make something quilted from that fabric, adding only solids or other Michael Miller fabric. As an additional challenge, the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild is encouraging our members to make their quilted item a quilt for Project Linus.

The fabric colors are right up my alley, so I was excited to get started. I had wanted to make a boy quilt from the fabrics, but they were just too girly. I feel kind of like a dork for making pinwheels from a fabric with Pinwheel in the title, but it just seemed to make sense.

MM Pinwheel quilt detail

I’d used this same pinwheel pattern for another quilt, but this time, in addition to making the original pattern (from Modern Blocks by Susanne Woods), I adjusted the pattern to make one pinwheel larger than the original and several that were smaller than the original.

MM Pinwheel quilt topI tried something different for the setting and kind of made the pinwheels float on the blue background. I placed the pinwheel blocks where I wanted them to be and then added the blue fabric to connect the pinwheels and fill in the background. I didn’t have quite enough blue fabric for the whole background, so I bought some of one challenge fabric and put it on the bottom along with a strip of orange (the same orange I used on all the pinwheel centers).

I swear I didn’t cut the bottom fabric that crooked—and I noticed it too late in the process to want to change it. Could it be possible the fabric was printed crooked? Rats, nonetheless.

MM Pinwheel quilt backFor the back of the quilt, I used more of the yardage I had purchased. But I also added a section of leftover challenge fabric pieces (including one more pinwheel for kicks).

I’ve already finished the quilting on this one, thanks to a sew-in day for the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. I’ll show photos of that once I get the binding finished up.

Boy’s Column Quilt Complete

Boy Column Quilt topAs I mentioned in my previous post on bearding, my Boy’s Column Quilt is complete! Except for the bearding part, I’m super happy with it.

I wrote a bit about the quilt top in a previous post. For the backing of the quilt, I had ordered a gray print from an online store that sells their fabric in half-yard increments. I knew this, but I still ordered only half of what I needed for the back.

Boy Column Quilt back

But that gave me the opportunity to do some creative piecing with two of the blues from the front of the quilt. It still wasn’t quite long enough, so I added a section of Joel Dewberry Botanique fabric that I picked up at Sewn Studio.

My niece Emma happened to be with me as I was trying to figure out how to piece the backing. Once I had it almost done, I explained to her why I decided to cut the gray/blue section and insert the new fabric there, rather than just tack it onto the top or the bottom. Emma listened patiently to my explanation of my design decisions, and then said, “Yeah, but I really don’t think a teenage boy is going to care.” True enough, wise Emma, true enough.

Boy Column Quilt back detail

I quilted it on my home machine using my new Sew Steady table. Even though I just quilted straight lines, the Sew Steady did help a lot in keeping the quilt easy to maneuver.

As far as the bearding goes, I did wash the quilt, dried it, and then picked off all the little pieces of batting that came up through the fabric. Next, I soaked some Snuggle drier sheets in a spray bottle of water and sprayed both the front and back of the quilt and let it dry. Even that process was enough for a few more bits of batting to poke through.

I shared the quilt and the bearding saga with the ladies at the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, and the general consensus is that something was up with the batting. But they encouraged me to donate the quilt anyway. Someone actually said, “A teenage boy isn’t going to care.” And I do think the bearding will calm down now that the environment is less dry.

So I’ve made my label and will sew it on and get this quilt off to Project Linus and its new owner!

Boy Column Quilt label

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.

Project Linus Quilt

I just got back from a local sewing machine store where I dropped off my latest quilt for Project Linus, an organization that collects handmade quilts and blankets and distributes them to children who are ill, going through a crisis or otherwise in need.

I had heard Project Linus is very much in need of quilts for boys, so that’s what I tried to make. My personal palette of mid-tone greens, blues, oranges and pinks doesn’t really scream “boy,” so it was a bit of a stretch.

But I went through my stash to see what I could find. The colorful print is an Alexander Henry that I had bought a few years ago with no plan in mind (there rarely is). It had enough colors in it that I thought I could mix in a bit of my palette along with more masculine colors. The red and green were both in my stash, too, so the only fabric I ended up buying in quantity was the navy and the backing. (However, whenever I try to buy in “quantity,” I never seem to get enough, so I ended up having to dye more fabric to match the navy. You’ll see in the lower right of the quilt above, I didn’t get it quite right the first time.)

Then as I was nearing the end of the top, I realized I really needed some more of that Alexander Henry fabric. So the project sat in the to-do pile for a while. After at least a month the nearly unheard-of happened: the fabric was still at the place where I first bought it! Cabin Arts, in Burlington, Kentucky, had just a yard and a half left. What luck!

So I finished up the front, and used a blue fish fabric for the back (fish are masculine, right?).

The idea of doing a strip design came from a blog series called A Quilt to Give by Nancy Zieman, who was also making a charity quilt. Her quilt was a lot more intricate than mine, but I did take to heart some of her thoughts on charity quilt making. In my own words, those thoughts are 1. Use your good stuff. Those kids deserve it. And 2. Include a label. It lets the child know there’s a person behind the quilt who does care. So I did sew on a label, using the sentiment that Nancy sewed onto hers. Writing on fabric is always tough, and this doesn’t look great, but I wanted to keep it as personal as possible.

I don’t finish as many quilts as I’d like and not nearly as many charity quilts as I’d like. But, until I finish the next, I hope that some boy (fingers crossed) will enjoy this one.