Monday, September 17, 2012

A gallery of my early quilts

My next quilt had a fall theme. I was hoping to make it extra warm, so I made the mistake of putting in two layers of wool batting. Double the batting, double the warmth, right? Wrong! It just made it nice and bulky, and because I quilted in the ditch, leaving big empty spaces, it ended up looking a little rumpled after washing.

This quilt was my first foray into design. I broke out of the old unused graph paper of my youth and started coloring in squares. I believe the birds were pieced using Margaret Rolfe's designs. At this point, I was still struggling with binding and they tended to be a little wider and not as sharp in the corners.

One of my favorites, this quilt is based on a vintage quilt I saw hanging in a friend's house. Her grandmother had made it. I took a photograph and put my own dog's profile in, surrounded by his favorite things: balls and squirrels. I hand quilted it and it hangs in my son's bedroom today.

A friend of mine accompanied me to the Forsyth Piecers and Quilters Guild in 2007and fell in love with this pattern by Annette Ornelas. We made a deal: she bought the pattern and I made the quilt. I picked up these lovely batiks at Sewingly Yours and started working with these beautiful fabrics for the first time.

I made this quilt for my babysitter for Christmas in 2007 and it was probably the most challenging piecing I had done up to this point.

My neighbor commissioned this bed quilt and I started getting braver with my free motion quilting.

I was inspired by a Pottery Barn catalogue for this blue and white scrap quilt. The catalogue's cover had a similar design, but in mainly fall colors. By now, I had a 'stash' in the making, I was determined to make something with all the blue fabrics I had sitting around. I started cutting 2 inch squares until I had a pile big enough to start sewing together. Again, the graph paper came out and I had it all layed out on paper. Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting Jan/Feb 2007 issue had a really interesting article about creating your own quilting designs by folding a piece of paper and cutting pieces out. When you open it up, everything is symmetrical. The problem came when it was time to mark. I couldn't figure out how to mark over both dark and light fabrics. I solved the problem by tracing the design onto tissue paper and quilting straight over it. I would not recommend this. One, it takes FOREVER! Each design was individual and only covered one group of blues. There was a lot of stopping and starting and tying off of thread and ripping out of tissue paper.

Around this time, I thought it would be a fun idea to hand quilt a quilt, one for my own bed, since most of my quilts had been given away as gifts. Patchwork by Diana Lodge had this beautiful strip quilt with an elaborate quilting design, which, of course, was not shown as a pattern. I drew the floral vine design freehand, cut out a template on plastic and traced it onto the white fabric. It took me a year to complete.

McCall's Quilting magazine featured this design in the summer of 2009. I spent months searching out the best fabrics for walls and roofs. The entire village was appliqued and the window sills and outlines done in fusible web. I used by cross stitch background to French knot a garden of roses and I was able to free motion quilt the entire quilt without marking a single line!

Here's where I take another year out to hand quilt yet another queen size quilt, this time for a good friend in Austria. I designed it myself and decided to give hand basting a go. Big mistake! I also learned a valuable lesson about the disadvantages of water soluble markers. They don't like humidity, and they aren't too happy about basements either. Roughly translated, after an extended stay in the basement den, where I was doing the bulk of my quilting, all of my lines disappeared. I had quilted the center design and had done maybe a foot of the long lines and the layers were shifting everywhere because of the hand basting. I had to take all the basting stitches out, stretch out the entire quilt on my mother's kitchen floor and pin from scratch. Fortunately, a few blue marks managed to stay on here and there to give me a base from which to remark the entire quilt. Not an enjoyable experience, but an educational one.

Probably my mom's favorite, this scrap quilt is constructed from 1 inch squares. I learned the arrogance of not pinning. When you have that many squares, they like to stretch. When I put the 1/2 inch borders on the sides, I didn't pin one side, thinking I was good enough to just wing it. It wasn't until I finished the quilt that I realized that one side about 3/4 inches shorter than the other. However, I did have an amazing time quilting it. I free motion quilted loads of tiny leaves all over the tree. The gold color shows up really well in the grass.

One Block Wonder was the inspiration for this quilt. I found some amazing fabric online and managed to get all the patterns to align when I cut them out. The piecing was easy. It was figuring out where to put each block that was the challenge. Lacking a design board, I laid a king size sheet on the floor and moved the blocks around until I was satisfied with the result.


  1. Wow! Nice. I had not seen a lot of these. You are fearless... a true designer I think. Thanks for sharing lessons learned along the way. b

  2. great show and tell. haven't seen some of them. I have always like the one from McCalls.