Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quilt #3 - 14 Karat Gold Fish

    Granddaughter Addison's quilt, Belle, is well under way and, in fact, on the quilt frame in the process of being hand-quilted.

    Therefore, I needed to choose a pattern and a color palette for grandson, Jericho's, quilt. I picked the quilt called "14 Karat Gold Fish" from my Simplicity pattern book.

    However, I didn't want to use the blues, yellows, oranges and pinks shown in the book. Per his mother's request, I opted for green, blue, orange and brown. The sashing is green and navy.  I have 12 (of 48) blocks completed. Here's a peek! = )

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blessed, to be a Blessing

    One of the things I wanted to be able to do when I started this whole quilter's journey thing, was to make quilts to donate. I figured most likely they would be for fundraising type events. There are several charitable organizations that we've supported over the years; most of them because our lives were somehow touched by the disease or circumstance those organizations serve. We've made donations to:

    Juvenile Diabetes Foundation -- my sister was a Type 1 diabetic from the age of 12, and issues related to her diabetes are what took her life at the age of 38.
    American Foundation for Suicide Prevention -- our nephew was a suicide victim in 2006, leaving behind a family with lots of questions, memories, and reasons to trust God.
    Hines Heros -- an organization established in memory of our nephew, who was killed in the war in Iraq in 2005.
    City Gospel Mission -- an organization dedicated to equipping the homeless and underprivileged in our home town, Cincinnati, Ohio.
    Whiz Kids -- an organization established to pair Christian adults with inner-city, at risk kids from our neighborhood, for tuturing and mentoring.
    Faith Food Pantry -- run by our church to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of hungry people in our  neighborhood.

    These are a few that are near and dear to our hearts. Another is Connections,  an organization whose mission is to help victims of childhood sexual abuse find Hope and Healing. We, like lots of folks, have a close family member who was a victim of this horrific crime. She is a beautiful, whole, healed woman now, but the issue remains close to our hearts.

    So, when Connections put out a message requesting donations for their up-coming "Be the Scream" awards banquet, I decided to make a small lap-sized quilt to donate. = )  Here's what I came up with!

    I wanted to do something relatively simple, since I only have 3 weeks to finish it. So, I sketched out a simple arrangement of 12 colored six inch squares, with 3 inch solid white sashing and 6 inch borders. I wanted to do something with batiks, and I wanted it to be a little "girly." So, I chose pinks, purples, and oranges. I really like how it turned out.

    The back will be solid white and I got purple quilting thread. Now I need to decide if I want to quilt by hand or try doing it with my machine ... decisions, decisions.

    I've linked this post to Fabric Tuesday on Quiltstory! = )

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grandbabies Quilt - Finished!

    I finished up the scrappy HST quilt I was working on for the crib in the grandbabies' room. Here are a couple of photos.  I took them before I washed the quilt. I wanted to get the pencil lines I'd drawn on out. Anyway, it turned out very cute after washing. It's all crinkly and comfy looking!

    Pray you have a Blessed Easter!  He is risen!!  Hosanna!!!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quilt #2: Belle - Top Complete

    I finished piecing the top to our grand daughter, Addison's, quilt. It's called Belle and it's from my "Simplicity" pattern book. It will finish out at 72" x 90". Here's a shot of my final placement.

    And here's a couple photos of the top all put together.

    I already have a Hobb's 100% cotton batting for it that I got on Connecting Threads for 40% off a couple months ago. The backing will be a simple white muslin that JoAnn's carries in 108 inches wide. No piecing. I haven't decided whether to do the quilting in white or pink. I think the pink will look cool on the solid white back, but don't want it to look odd on the green and blue elements of my quilt. I'll figure it out. I need to get the whole kit-n-kaboodle loaded onto my quilting frame first!

    Here's a close up of a few of the flowers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

One for the Grandbabies

    Last week, I finished Ashley's Journey to use in our grandkids' room at our house. It's currently on the full size bed we have in there. I decided to get some practice with half square triangles by making a scrappy crib size quilt for the baby bed in their room, too. After all, practice is the only way to get better at quilting!!

    I pulled out all my scraps and sorted by color. Also purchased a yard of solid white to go along with a few white-on-white scraps I had. I cut eighteen 4 inch squares from each of the following basic colors: white, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Paired a white with each colored print. I drew a line on the diagonal and sewed a quarter inch seam allowance on either side of my line, then cut on the line with my rotary cutter. After trimming to square them up, I ended up with 216 half-square-triangle blocks. Here's a shot of how I arranged them to make my crib quilt.  There are almost an infinite number of ways to put the squares together. I tried various zig zag patterns and ended up with diamonds, bordered by a jagged rainbow edge.

    I learned several things while making my placemats a few weeks ago. Such as, it's a good idea to press my batting. It's a great idea to tape everything down to make sure it stays smooth in order to pin-baste. I learned a few new things while working on this crib quilt. Like, the spot where four HST come together is a really thick seam. And, it works best if you press seams in opposite directions when you're piecing a column, so that when you're putting them together you can "nest" the seams--making it much more even. Probably could've learned those things by reading some before I started ... but, it's a process, remember? = )

    Here's my pieced top, taped down and in the process of being pin-basted. You might notice that I eliminated a column of triangles (went from 6 to 5). I had a scrap of batting that fit with 5 columns and didn't fit with 6. So ... I eliminated the row in order to eliminate a trip to the fabric store to get more batting!

    I'm using a yellow gingham for the back, and hand quilting with yellow thread. It's looking really good and I've just got a little bit to do. I should have it finished by the end of the week! Here's a picture of me (and Cyrus) working on the hand-quilting. (Note: my post-chemo hair is coming in nicely, and I think it may end up being the same color as the hair that fell out. That's a good thing!)

    I've linked this post to Fabric Tuesday on Quiltstory!
Fresh Poppy Design

Friday, April 15, 2011

Quilt #1: Finished!

    Ashley's Journey--my first quilt ever--is finished! I did the last of the hand-quilting on Monday and put the binding on Tuesday evening. Here's a photo of it, taken from above our two-story foyer. I took one of the back, too. Can't really get much of an idea of scale from these, but it finished at 65 x 88 inches. It fits on a twin-sized bed.

    It makes me smile everytime I look into the grandkids' room. = )  Such a sense of accomplishment and gratification. It's been about 9 months since I purchased the fabrics. And those 9 months have been quite the adventure--in more ways than one!

    God is good ... all the time!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Changing Seasons

    Spring has arrived, and Larry called the utility company to have our gas turned off today. I'm kinda sad. OK. Not kinda sad, I'm really sad. Actually, I teared-up a little when I went into the living room and now I'm (unsuccessfully) blinking back tears while trying to swallow the lump in my throat. Let me explain.

    A little over a year ago, we had a fireplace wall built in our living room. It has a ventless fireplace with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on either side. We'd wanted a fireplace when we built our place, but decided to wait until we sold our old house and were in a better financial position. It was finished the end of last April--the same week temperatures went into the 80's and stayed there. So, about six months ago, we had the gas turned on and were able to use the fireplace for the first time.

    We decided that throughout my chemotherapy, I could use the fireplace during the day to warm-up our living area. (As it turned out, we pretty much heated the house with it, but that's another story!) And that's just what I did. If I wasn't feeling well or simply felt chilled, I flipped on the fireplace. Some dark, winter days, there's really nothing like a fire in the fireplace. Not only did it warm-up the room temperature, it seemed to do something to my heart, too. There were days when I'd have our main floor at 76, 77 or even 78 degrees.

    Somehow, it seemed like snuggled up on the couch with a quilt, by the fire, everything was alright--everything was going to be ok. I think in some sort of way, on some days, I depended on that gas fireplace to keep me company, to make me feel loved, like everything in my world was warm and snuggly and safe.

    So, today, the gas goes off. No more fireplace. Silly. I know. But I can't help it. I'm gonna miss it and the sense of safety, peace and hope it somehow gave me when I needed it ...

Monday, April 11, 2011

International Quilt Festival

    I went to my first-ever quilt show last Friday. There were 700 quilts displayed and 500 vendors there. Lots of walking!

    I made a list of some things I wanted to look for a couple days ahead of time. I've got several projects either in-process or in my head. So, I mostly needed fabrics. I'm kinda funny when it comes to shopping, and not just for fabrics. I'm the kind that will "know it when I see it." I'm that way about clothing, and home decorating, gifts--really just about anything. Sometimes I have a preconceived picture in my head, and sometimes I don't, but I always know it when I see it!

    I found the rest of the fat quarters I need for my grandson's quilt. Now I need to uncover fabrics for sashing, borders and a white background. I have a pattern picked out, but haven't really even started cutting anything for it. I need to get busy! I also found about 18 different FQ fabrics for the gray/black/cream quilt I'm planning for my niece and soon-to-be nephew-in-law. Their wedding is April, 2012. Plenty of time!!

    There were also a couple of tool-type items that I was looking for. I found a HST quarter inch seam guide, but didn't find a channel tool. It's a double-sided blade that I can use on template plastic to make my own quilt stencils. Anyone know where I can find one? or if they even still make such a thing. Hand-quilting doesn't seem to be nearly as popular as machine-quilting. Oh, well ...

    I spent just a little time walking through the display section of the show. Honestly, I was a little (or maybe a lot) overwhelmed. I'd thought that I might be inspired by some of the quilts displayed, but it turns out that most of them are what I'd call pieces of art; something no one is allowed to touch; to be displayed behind glass. To me, that's not what quilts are for. Quilts are for remembering its maker and the occasion of its giving. Quilts are for snuggling-up under on a cold winter morning. Quilts are for wrapping someone you love--a new baby, a sick child, a dear friend, an aging parent--in love. So--all that to say--I didn't really enjoy the display portion as much as I thought I might. It was a bit over my head. Or, maybe just out of my league.

    I ended up going to the quilt show with Bev and some of her family--her mom, an aunt, and a couple of her cousins. I had a lot of fun! They all quilt--and helped to show me the ropes. Always good to have someone more seasoned than me to watch, listen to and bounce my ideas off their experience!

    Once again, I've linked-up to Quiltstory's Fabric Tuesday event!!

Fresh Poppy Design

Friday, April 8, 2011

Placemats II

    Since the placemats I did for Emily and Hannah turned out so cute, and were finished so quickly ... I decided to make a set for me!  I actually decided to try making seasonal ones. So, these are my spring placemats. I used the pattern I found on the internet to make two. It's usually just Larry and me eating at our small kitchen table. They turned out very cute ... and very Springy!

   Then I thought ... I need to make some for when the kids and grandkids are all over for dinner. We get together every other Sunday afternoon for what we call "family dinner." Hmmmm. What to do. I didn't have enough of the fabrics I originally got to make five more. So ... I tried something new. I'd read about half-square triangles. They look pretty easy. A placemat is a great place to try out something new. So, I combined the leftovers from my strippy placemats with scraps I already had on-hand to come up with these.

    I was on a roll! Decided to do something extra special for my granddaughter, Addison. She's in a booster seat at the big table now. No more high chair. That's now for 9 month old grandson, Jericho. Once again ... I used scraps to build a log cabin  placemat for her. I think it turned out pretty good. If I had it to do over again, I think I'd put in another color besides the white, but I like it. And, so did she. And, that's really the goal, anyway.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


    A friend of ours got married mid-March and I decided to quilt them a set of  placemats to match their kitchen. I searched for and found this pattern on the internet. I found fat quarters and fabric for backing and binding at JoAnn's. I also decided to get enough of the backing fabric to make four cloth napkins to match!

    There was also another motivation for making the placemats. I figured it would be good practice cutting, piecing and quilting--only with a much smaller (code word for quicker to finish) project. I was right! They turned out really nice. I didn't take a photo of them, but ...

    Since they turned out so good, I thought I'd make a set for my daughter, Emily, and a set for my daughter-in-law, Hannah! I didn't get a photo of the ones I made for Emily, but here are pictures of the ones I did for Hannah. The first shot is the front, the second is the back, and the third is just a close up.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Quilt #2: Cutting & Piecing

    In addition to straight-line piecing, Belle would require that I sew pieces diagonnally, to create triangles. Sewing on the diagonal can be tricky. Tricky because the diagonal on woven fabrics is very stretchy. In fact, in order to make bias tape (stretchy tape used often to finish rounded edges) woven fabric is cut on the diagonal. So, I needed to be very careful in sewing on the diagonal. If I would pull or stretch the fabric as it's being sewn, it would result in a quilt block (and therefore quilt top) that won't lie flat. And, that would not be a good thing!

    Here's a couple of the blocks for Belle. Flowers and stems. I'm still piecing Belle's blocks. Although, I'm pretty close to finished. Then, I'll have to arrange all my flower and stem blocks so that it looks good. I had originally planned on just following the diagram included with the pattern, but ... I didn't get exactly the same number of light pink, dark pink and blue fabrics that they used in the pattern. So, I'll just lay them all out and figure out how it looks best. Bev says she lays hers out on a bed. So far, I've used the floor. I'm thinking a bed would be a better choice. Might help my quilt top stay a little cleaner. = )

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Quilting Frame

    I decided to tell Larry that I wanted a quilting frame for Christmas. It just so happened that Hancock's had a frame on sale. It was one that extended to 96 inches. This would be large enough to accommodate most quilts I'd be making. If I ever get up enough nerve to do a king sized quilt, I can simply turn it sideways, and I think it will fit on the frame. Here's the frame I got.

    I've always sewn. I made most of my daughter's clothes in her early years, and most of my window treatments and home decorating items. So, I've always had a large stash of sewing stuff--two sewing machines, a serger, not to mention every scrap of fabric I've ever had. Besides, now I'm sewing for grandbabies! All that to say, everytime I want to work on an project, I have to drag everything upstairs to our dining room table; then put it all away every time we have guests in our home. NOW, I have a new quilting frame--that, I might add, takes up a space approximately 30 x 100 inches. Not really something I can pull out and put away too easily. SO ... we decided to convert our fourth bedroom to a sewing room. It's so nice!! I can stop and start on projects, knowing they'll be exactly where I left them.

    With the sewing room dedicated and the quilt frame assembled, I decided to mount quilt #1, Ashley's Journey. Apparently, it can be a little tricky to get quilt top, batting and backing all on the thing without any bunching, pulling, stretching or the like. I did it in one try, and I think it's pretty good. I didn't re-do it, anyway.  = )

    Then came my first real attempt at quilting by hand. I'd assumed it would be pretty easy. I was wrong. I couldn't seem to get my stitches even. So I decided to google YouTube to see if I could find some video instructions on the easiest way to do it. I found this and it was helpful, but here's what I've decided. 1) Everybody has to come up with their own way of doing it--the way that feels right and most comfortable. And, 2) It's going to take a while for me to get comfortable, quick and good.

    Here's a shot of my quilt frame with Quilt #1/Ashley's Journey on it and in process.

    Arrrrgggg. Another process. Oh, well. I guess I might as well just resign myself to the fact that becoming a good quilter is going to take a while. Ok. Maybe 'resign myself' isn't such a good strategy. So, I'll re-phrase. I've decided to enjoy the process, not to be too hard on myself, and to remember that 'practice makes perfect.' Well, actually--'perfect practice makes perfect!'

Monday, April 4, 2011

Quilt #2: Belle

    Surgery for my cancer was scheduled for August 20th. The week before, Bev, Alice and I headed east to this local quilt shop. I think there were several purposes for the trip. One, to take my mind off the coming surgery. Two, to spend some time together before I went "under the knife." And, three, to see what goodies we could find!

    Oh, did I find some goodies!  Particularly, a book with a dozen or so patterns called, "Simplicity."  All the patterns are pretty simple (not to mention beautiful) and perfect for the beginner.  There was one that especially caught my eye, "Belle." It was absolutely perfect for a little girl--or a big girl, for that matter!  I decided to make the quilt for our granddaughter, Addison.

    I picked out 20 blue and pink print fat quarters for the  flowers, 7 different green print fat quarters for the stems,  3 yellow print fat quarters for the flower centers, and a white on white print to use for the background.

    I didn't really get too many of the pieces for Belle cut before my surgery. And, after my surgery I had to wait a quite a while to get back to cutting since my right arm was sore, swollen and pretty much useless. Then, four weeks after surgery, my chemotherapy began. The first treatment really knocked me on my butt. I learned to be a little more proactive in subsequent weeks, as well as how to better prepare myself for the required dose of poison. So, most weeks during my chemotherapy, I felt well enough to pursue my new hobby some.  All that to say, I really didn't get the bulk of the cutting done until probably some time late in November--some 3 months after I bought everything.

    Oh, well ... It's a process, right?  It's not a race. The point is to get it done well, with passion and joy.

    Hmmm. I think there's a life lesson in there. Pretty sure there's something God's telling me about my life ... especially my life in Him.

    It's a process. It's not a race. The point is to get it done well, with passion and joy.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quilted Prayers

    One thing I like to do, when I'm working on a project for someone, is to pray for them. I began doing this almost 10 years ago when I started a cross stitch sampler for a young lady I had a feeling would one day be my daughter-in-law. Adam and Hannah will celebrate 6 years of marriage this summer!

    My first quilt is being made for the room where my grandchildren will sleep--both for naps and when they spend the night. Oh, how this brings tears to my eyes. The privilege I have to grandmother precious babes God created and brought into this world. I count it an important responsibility, as well as an amazing gift, to be able to pray for my grandkids. I will continue to do so until the day I die--whether they are babes-in-arms or have babes-in-arms of their own. I regularly intercede on their behalf to our great and loving Father.

    I pray He will bless them with life, purpose, and health ... but mostly with a saving knowledge of His glorious Son, Jesus. I pray "... that Christ may dwell in [their] hearts through faith.  And I pray that [they], being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that [they] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:17-19)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Quilt #1: Batting & Backing

    Once I decided on the fabric for the borders, I needed to figure out what to use for batting, backing and binding.  Hmmm. Maybe I should back-up and explain.

    A quilt is much like a sandwich. It's made of up three layers: the top, the batting, and the backing. The binding goes around the edges to finish and hold it all together.

    The top can be lots of different things. For my first quilt, Ashley's Journey, I pieced the top using 20 different fabrics according to a pattern. You could also use a single piece of plain fabric, or a piece that had been cross stitched, embroidered, painted ... or really decorated in any of a myriad of ways. Most quilts made by novice quilters (aka--me) are pieced from various fabrics using a pattern. I'm sure I'll discover ways to make a quilt top that I never even dreamed of as I continue on this journey.

    Batting is the fluffy stuff that goes in the middle of a quilt and makes it puffy. It can be made of cotton, wool, synthetic fiber or a blend of any of these materials. I've heard of folks using flannel as a batting, or even an old worn-out or out-dated blanket. Again, I'm just beginning my Quilter's Journey. So, I'm sure there are batting materials available that haven't crossed my mind.

    The backing is the material that goes on the bottom. It can be a print fabric that coordinates with the top of your quilt, or it can be a solid color. It can be purchased from a bolt that is wide enough to cover the entire back of your quilt without piecing. Or, it can be pieced, usually with just one or two seams, so that it's big enough to cover the back of your quilt.

    I decided on a solid yellow fabric to back my first quilt. I found a bolt at the fabric store that measured 108 inches wide. That would be wide enough that I wouldn't have to piece the back. I think I'm going to use the same solid yellow to do the binding, as well. Bev picked up this batting for me from a local quilt shop.

    Here are a couple of pictures of my first quilt. The first photo shows a close-up of some of the 1930's reproduction fabrics I used. The second is of the top (minus borders) put together and laid out on a twin size bed in our grandkids' room.

    I entered this post in the Fabric Tuesday linky party at Quiltstory. All of this is very new to me! = )

Friday, April 1, 2011

Quilt #1: Ashley's Journey

    The first stop on my Quilter's Journey was in northern Michigan, July 2010. We go there every summer for a ten-day break from life here in Cincinnati. We love it up north. When temperatures are topping out at 90-something in Ohio, we enjoy the 70's during the day and often have to break out the jeans and sweatshirts in the evening. Oh, how I love those days in Michigan. We also get to spend those relaxing days with four of our dearest friends--Tom, Alice, Greg and Bev. Alice and Bev are both quilters. They've just been at it for a few years, but that's a few years more than me.

    Anyway, Bev let me look through her stash of quilt patterns. I chose "Ashley's Journey." It seemed like a fairly simple, straight-line, square and rectangle quilt that would be a great place to begin. It was about the size of a twin-sized quilt. I decided I'd use it to cover the twin bed we have in our extra bedroom, the bedroom dedicated to our grandchildren.

Ashley's Journey quilt pattern
    Then, the three of us went to a quilt shop up north. I purchased the 20 fat quarters I needed--five patterns each of the four different colors I'd chosen--green, yellow, red and blue. My goal was to be as cheery and gender-neutral as I could. I chose fabrics from a 1930's reproduction line, hoping to give my simple, brightly colored quilt a kid-friendly look.

    When I got back home, one of the first things I did (per Bev's instruction) was head to the local fabric store to purchase a self-healing cutting mat, a ruler, and a rotary cutter. All basic and essential tools I'd need for my Quilter's Journey.

    Cutting the squares and rectangles went really quickly. Actually, I think I finished them all in a day. Granted, I didn't really do much else that day!  = )  The piecing, however, took a little longer. Using my machine to sew as-perfect-as-I-can-get-them quarter-inch seams, I think it took me a week or two to get that done. I thought I was flying!

    Then I realized that I had failed to purchase matching fabrics for borders, backing and binding. So, three fabric stores (in Ohio) later, my borders didn't match quite like I'd wished they would. It looked ok, but I really wish I'd purchased fabric in Michigan, to do the borders from the same fabric line. Then they'd match perfectly.

    Oh, well. It's a journey, right?  I'm learning as I go.

A Quilter's Journey

    When I was a young girl, long before I got married, I loved quilts. I loved how they looked, pieced with care and precision. I loved how they seemed to have a sense of history, telling a story about the person who made it. I loved how the possibilities were endless with a quilt. You could change one fabric color or pattern, change the stiching. or thread. or batting thickness. and make something that looked entirely different.

    After marrying in the mid-1980's and having children soon after, I told myself that "one day" I'd start quilting. One day when I had more time. One day when the kids were in school all day. One day when I had an empty nest. One day when everything was settled. One day ... One day never seemed to arrive. Then ...

    Several months ago--long after the kids were married with families of their own--I got a phone call from my doctor. Cancer. I had cancer. A cancer diagnosis does some amazing things in one's heart and mind. Lots of things I'd never really thought about were suddenly smack dab in front of me, no longer could I avoid the issues. Things like ... what's really important?  what if I die sometime soon? what will my family remember of me long after I'm gone? what do I really want to do with the time God gives me?

    One day had arrived.

    One of the decisions I made about the life I have left on planet earth was to begin doing what I had longed for years to do. Quilt. So, last summer I borrowed a pattern from a dear quilting friend and bought the fat quarters I needed to begin my first quilt.

    Enter this blog. A way for me to share my Quilter's Journey, as I pursue a life-long dream. All the while, knowing that God will use my pursuit to help show me how to love Him ... and love people ... allowing me to use the creative ability He placed in me to serve others and glorify His Name.