Category Archives: quilting

Winter’s Work, Put to Rest

Here in Mid-Michigan we experienced a relatively mild winter, but it has been very reluctant to leave.  That meant a lot of days when quilting was a very appealing activity, and all the projects destined for the Midland Quilter’s Squared Quilt Show, held last weekend, were completed in time:

Below is the completed Mystery Quilt, composed of many more tiny squares than have ever crossed my table before for a project.  Fortunately the errors aren’t too visible from here, and it makes me happy that my granddaughter, Isabella, is looking forward to receiving it.


This is a photo of another project I posted on earlier.  The blue fan squares were part of a 1930-40 quilt top which was quite misshapen and had never been finished by its creator.  The blocks were taken apart and reconstructed into flowers.  White sashing and borders were then added and I spent the entire winter hand quilting it during the long evenings.  The idea came from a presentation by Tim Latimer, but, unlike Tim, I am not very fast.


The last photo is a small wall hanging, done for this years quilt show challenge.  We were to base our piece on a song.  This one was inspired by “Swing on a Star” written for Bing Crosby.  “Would you like to swing on a star…Carry moonbeams home in a jar…”

Swing on a star

So, at last, gardening time is approaching and I have lots of smaller projects on the way.  Happy May!



It’s a Mystery

IMG_20151029_111445741Here it is.  Piles of pieces, which my local quilt club, Midland Quilters Squared, tells me will become a quilt suitable to be shown in their show next spring.  This is my first mystery quilt experience, and I have some doubts.  This could be in part because my edges aren’t exactly even.   What is this?


And how about this?IMG_20151029_111513501

There will obviously have to be some fudging involved.  I can’t very well start fudging until I get the gist of what is to come, though.  It is called “The Cat’s Meow”, so some of you may have knowledge of the pattern.  I stuck with plain fabrics in case there are actually cats involved, thinking I can dress it up with quilting.  Now you see why I am not crazy about traditional quilting.  I’d say I may not be very good at it.

I’ll show you my vintage quilt rescue progress in my next post.  That was so badly pieced that I will again feel good about my skills.

Meanwhile, feel free to send me your best piecing tips in the comment section.

Creating a Donald Duck (or any other favorite character) Quilt

finished donald

Sometime before last Christmas, I set aside blogging, as my then current projects were all to be top secret gifts.  Now as a snowbird on Hilton Head Island, with nothing more pressing than to enjoy the sun and do some quilting, it’s time to return to sharing. My first project after settling in was this quilt, in order to fulfill a Christmas IOU.  Well before Christmas, I  made several false starts that ended with tabling the project until after the busy holidays.  This had shown me what didn’t work, and made it easier to find a process that produced what I had imagined.  Below is a simple version of the steps.  Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more details.

first three steps

1.  The first step was searching out the images I wished to use and transferring them to my blocks.  I found mine in Google images which is acceptable when making an item for your own use.  I used a printshop type program to create like-sized images and to print them. .  At this point you could use whatever method you prefer.  (Print directly on your fabric, print a heat transfer or print a copy and trace)  I was forced to trace, as I had brought copies and have no printer with me.  Make extra paper copies with any method, to use as patterns for the applique.

Fused applique2.  In choosing fabric, I was guided by Donald’s original cartoon images, only darkening them a bit to suit my own taste.  I then chose to work the rest of the quilt in those colors, adding only a striped fabric to draw the design together.  Fuse your fabrics to Wonder Under or the bonding product of your choice.  Cut patterns from your Donald image and trace them right side down to the Wonder Under backing of the appropriate colors.  Cut out the pieces and bond them to your block using the transferred image for placement. I then stitched around each piece, very close to the edge.  Donald is always shown with black lines around each object so I tried using my machine satin stitch for this, but wasn’t happy with the look, so ended up using hand embroidery for his lines.  Your might, however, wish to experiment with your machine.  A blanket stitch might have sufficed.

3.  Once the blocks were complete, I cut an assortment of various width strips of each fabric and laid them out to decide on my design.  Some people complete their design on paper and then know exactly what to cut, but this is the method I chose for this project.

laying out the design

4.  Now you are ready to sew your pieces together and create a quilt sandwich of backing, batting and the top.  I have recently begun using a spray bonding product in place of pinning.  This works so much better than pinning if you plan to free-motion quilt, which is my preferred method.

That completes your quilt.   Next blog I’ll share another simple wall hanging created as a thank you for a special friend.

Moving Along in Free-Motion

Piglet overview

Piglet detail - Shelter House

The second of my free-motion practice quilts produced better results. Someone had donated Winnie-the-Pooh flannel, which inspired adding Piglet to the front. I discovered a free-motion pattern that pleased me and seemed easy to do, and was on my way.

I have read from other quilters that each quilter finds they are drawn more to either curvy designs or linear designs. I seem to be a curvy. This was fun and relaxing. Unfortunately there are places on the back that do not yet please me. I have learned that speeding through the sharpest part of the turns can create messy bobbin threads. Another case of “slow and steady” winning the race.

Today I picked up the materials list for my free-motion class with Patsy Thompson, and see that I must have 15 to 20 9X12 inch quilt sandwiches ready to go by next Tuesday. Sounds as if she will work us hard. You can check out her website by Googling. Much to see there.

Practicing Free-Motion Quilting


As I began my adventure into free-motion quilting I discovered a “market” for practice pieces that has spurred me on while waiting for my first class, next week. A local women’s shelter requests baby quilts and usually receives basic tied quilts, so my efforts at free-motion quilting are well-received.

Earlier this year a bag of beautiful, bright and unusual scraps, called to me for this quilt. As they were picked up as remnants at a quilt show, they were in smallish pieces, so I decided to make them into crazy quilt squares. These brought to mind Baby Einstein products, so I used black and white to border and bind it. When the piecing was done, I had the fun part of practicing the free-motion skills I have been learning in books and on-line. I tried a different pattern in each square, and then decided I didn’t want to deal with the borders. Forgive me my perfectionist quilting friends. I do long to be like you, but knew that I had already failed on this number, so was ready to move on. I called it finished. There are better efforts at craftsmanship to come, but I liked the basic idea and also want a record of my progress, so have included it.

Teaching a Friend to Quilt

IMG_20140220_151303644 copy

Soon after becoming serious about quilting, myself, a friend asked for assistance in making a queen-size quilt for her bed. This sounded pretty daunting to a beginner, but after a little research we came up with the method shown above.

We created 10 inch squares using randomly cut strips. (No piecing to cut!) We then added a layer of batting and quilted each square in 3/4 inch lines. Using the number of squares she desired to create the size she wanted, we laid the squares out in a pleasing pattern, then stacked them up, labeling the rows for assemble. We sewed the squares into vertical rows, then began to assemble. She chose a queen-size sheet in white as her backing and we folded it in half vertically and ironed it, to find the center. We then placed the center vertical row in relation to the center line, turned it face down, and stitched from the center to the edge of the quilt in each direction, to attach it to the backing. In this manner, working from the center out, we attached each row in succession. We were then able to turn the whole thing over and do a bit of extra quilting by stitching in the ditch from the center out. (Not a lot is required, as the batting is already well attached, but at least you will want to go between the blocks horizontally.) Once again, we had to work from the center out. We finished with a traditional binding in the green polka-dot print.

My friend assembled pillowcases and decorator pillows from remnants and was pleased and excited by her very first quilting experience!

Everyone Has to Start Somewhere – Embroidered Squares and Simple Machine Quilting

Early Effort 1Early Effort 2

These early photos are not very clear, but as the work is that of an early student, that may be just as well. Both are in a style I still enjoy producing, as the embroidered parts are easy take-along projects.

The herb quilt makes use of Aunt Martha iron-on transfers, available in most craft stores that handle embroidery floss. I chose fabrics I liked and added my own embroidered bees that mirror the bee fabric.  (Click on photo for a closer view.)

The Hello Kitty quilt made use of transfers produced by copying coloring book pages onto transfer paper. This, of course, cannot be produced for sale, but mine was for a new granddaughter.

Both quilts have flannel backings, which are wonderful for cuddle comfort, but which necessitated machine quilting. I had begun hand quilting, at this point, but had little experience with machine quilting, so these have only simple quilting along seam lines and around the embroidered images. On the herb quilt I only encircled the images, so the Hello Kitty was slightly more sophisticated with it’s stitching done very close to the images, which did enhance them a bit.