Monday, January 12, 2015

The Surprise Wedding Quilt

 This is my buddy Matt and his lovely bride Elny.  They got married on a beautiful day last September.  In honor this momentous event, I made them a quilt.  Elny LOVES pink…Matt, not so much.  The colors they agreed upon for their special day were a lovely shade of fuchsia and a complementary green shade that I can only describe as chartreuse.   Personally, I agree with Matt and pink is not my personal favorite color in the world, but again, I agree with the sentiment of ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life’ and suggested that he leave her alone about it.  I opted to use the colors of the wedding in the quilt, since I didn’t know Elny all that well, I figured at least that way I knew she would like the colors.  The pattern, however, I chose because I thought the design would speak to Matt’s need for design and order.  He likes things to be precise and this pattern has long, clean lines and a pronounced contrast in color values. 

The original pattern was in a Better Homes and Garden’s  quilting magazine in the June 2014 issue.   I was strumming through it one night and thought, ‘hey, that would be a great option for a wedding quilt’.   Here is a picture of their version.

I started pulling some fabric from my stash.  The green for example is a fabric I bought for Petey’s quilt but it just didn’t work there.  I simply love this fabric though.  It is the shade of green that makes you think of sitting in a lush forest after the rain has stopped.  The floral pattern is highlighted in gold the color of sunlight glinting through wet leaves.   I worked around the green and tried to find a pink that was the right shade and that spoke to me.  Again, pink is not my thing and this stumped me for a while.  I decided to pack up the fabrics I had and take a trip to Asheville Cotton Company and see what we could find. My buddy Michie helped me out and we found the perfect pink to tie all of the other colors together.   Then we found a couple other complementary colors to finish it all.  

Let it be knows that working with templates is not one of my favorite quilting techniques. I am impatient and I find it tedious to make blocks that way.  This pattern had 3 template patterns to make the pointed star blocks.  I managed to do without 2 of them.   Using the remaining one managed to be more annoying than I preferred but I sucked it up and made do for the sake of the greater good.  

Considering the vast amount of pink that is in this quilt, I was fairly happy with the end result.

Quilting this puppy was a lot of fun!  I got to try a number of techniques that I had not done before.  I wanted to do detailed quilting but I didn’t want the thread to overpower the piecing.

Our quilt guild’s annual show falls at the end of September each year and this was my favorite quilt that I had finished.  I opted to enter this quilt in the show and didn’t tell them about their gift or give it to them at the wedding.  I hung a sleeve on it, entered it in the show and invited the newlyweds to come and see what the guild had done. 

Sadly, they were both sick that weekend and didn’t get a chance to see it hanging with all of it’s friends.   I gave the quilt to them about a week later and got some pictures of it in use.

I hope it spends a lifetime with them as a reminder of their wedding and the friends that they got to share it with. 

DJ's Labyrinth Quilt

This is my hubby…isn’t he cute?  

This is my favorite picture of us.

Goofball and our oldest Daughter.
He is the light to my life and I love him more every day. 

I made a quilt for him when we were dating but didn’t really love it…it is now the quilt that lays on the couch (usually under the dog in fact).  Anyway, he deserved a real quilt!  A few years ago, the Stonehenge fabric line came out.  Along with that fabric, there were a number of quilt patterns that were designed to complement this particular fabric.  Every time I saw this pattern in a magazine advertisement, he would say ‘Oh, I like that one!’. 

After about the sixth time of hearing the Ooooo-ing, I got the hint.  A couple of months later, we were at the Asheville Quilt Show.  The is a vendor there every year that carries a great array of fabric that always speaks to me.  Well, this particular year, they happened to have not only the pattern of the quilt he liked, but also all of the fabric to make it with.  He picked out all of the fabric to go in HIS quilt.  I can honestly say that I only suggested changing one of the fabrics so that there would be more contrast and the pattern would show up better.  Mind you, he is married to a quilter but his color theory is somewhat lacking.  That being said, I think he did an amazing job picking the colors, don't you?  Now, I tend to be a bargain shopper and rarely buy most things (including fabric) at full price.  I do think that this is the ONLY quilt that I have every bought all the fabric, not only at once but NOT on sale.   This puppy is not only king size but big enough to drop all the way down the sides of our California King Size bed to the bottom of the rails.  The finished size is 124” square.  It is the largest quilt I have ever put on my Gammill.

When it came time to quilt it, I thought ‘Yippie, I get to do some super fun custom quilting on this one!’  But alas, my man has simple taste, I tried to steer him toward some detailed quilting but he would have none of that.  He says ‘can you do all over feathers?’  Seriously??  This could have been SOOO detailed!  But it is his quilt so he gets what he wants.  He picked a very neural (read taupe) color of thread and an all over loose feather pattern.

I do have to say that is looks pretty good draped over the most COMFY bed ever!  It was a joint effort of love and it makes me so happy that it keeps up both warm and snugly at night. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Tale of the 3 Sister Quilts

So this story has an interesting (if long-winded) start…

I have been on a mission for the last couple of years to make scrap quilts, or at least use as much of my stash as possible before buying more.  As all you quilters know…NOT buying fabric really goes against our grain. However, being sustainable is my new mission in life and keeping thing simple is a cornerstone of that philosophy.

So I saw a picture of a very simple pinwheel quilt and thought ‘Ooo, I would only have to pick up some white fabric and that would be fun”.  It wasn’t something that I had to figure out a lot of math or layouts.  It was just going to be an easy, no-brainer project that would be an easy one to come down from after the one I had just finished.  I changed the plan for the borders and some and whipped up a bunch of blocks.  It was that sort of sew until you thing you have enough method that works so well for these types of projects.  Being the over-achiever that I am, it turned out I had enough blocks to make 2 quilt tops.  I still to this day have only quilted one of them.  I have never made the same quilt twice before this either.  There are just SO many that I want to make that I never think about doing the same one again. You can see those here.

The one I DID quilt was pretty cute and it was the only quilt that I had at the time that seemed nice enough to put in our quilt guild’s annual quilt show.  That was 2 summers ago.  Anyway, a very nice woman saw that quilt on display and inquired about buying it.  I was pretty surprised as, truth be told, it was not my favorite quilt.  She really liked it though and so I gave her a price, she said great, call you tomorrow to work out picking it up.  Tomorrow came and she asked if it would be possible to have a quilt just like the one in the show but in a King size bed quilt.  Now it is already a HUGE compliment when someone likes your art enough to pay for it but when they ask for something to be made special for them, it’s like a big sloppy kiss!

So I set out to make the quilt she asked for.  When it was done, she was quite pleased.  She bought it and took it home.

So I still had the quilt that had hung in the show.  I decided that maybe, since she liked it enough to buy it, maybe someone else would too.  I listed it for sale on Quilts for Sale and what would you know…a collector bought it.  That was kind of a big complement too because it was purchased by someone that KNOWS quilts.  It wasn’t someone that just appreciates them as ‘pretty blankets’ or says ‘oh, I like it because it’s pink’.

So now I have made this quilt 3 times and sold 2 of them, you can imagine my surprise at all of these developments over a quilt that I personally wasn’t in love with.  Mind you, the pattern is really starting to grow on me. ;) I was completely blown over when I received an email inquiring about the quilt that had already been sold on the QFS website.   See, even once you sell a quilt there, the photos stay up so people can see what your style is and commissions are arranged through the site.  Yet another very nice woman asked me to make this quilt yet again, this time for a twin size bed.  We discussed pricing and color details and whatnot.  The fun thing this time was, she wanted 2 additional quilts that were similar in style but not exactly the same.  Her only real requests were that the main color was to be blue in all three and that she would like them to have varying borders.   So I set out to buy some fabrics (yes, I needed to even with my impressive scrap stash) and start to the washing, cutting, sewing and pressing routine.  I made the pinwheel blocks first since I have had so much practice at them.

DJ says this quilt pattern looks like alien toes...makes me like it even more. 

Then I started scouring the internet for inspiration for the other 2 complementing ‘sisters’.  I narrowed it down to about 6 options and then sent them off to their soon to be owner for input.  She picked out the two she liked best and I ran from there.  Of course I just used those as inspiration as I was using my own scrappy bag of fabrics and making them to fit her beds.  I used the same fabrics in all the quilts.  The pinwheel quilt has fewer fabrics in it than the other 2 and now I have enough of those left over blocks to make the quilt all over again…that will be another story I am sure.  There is a total of 130 different fabrics is each of the star and square quilts. 

So it took me a couple of months to get the tops made.  Then came the fun part of deciding the borders, they are all blue but vary a lot.  My style tends to be fairly traditional piecing but the colors and quilting style tends to lean toward the modern movement.  So these borders are very old school.  One is a checkerboard, one is a piano key and the last one is a sawtooth.  I simply love pieced borders; I think they make the quilt into something entirely different.  Obviously the quilting is unique.

Anyway, here are the ladies…I had a great time quilting them, it was very time consuming but I think the result was worth it.  I truly hope that they find themselves in a great home where they will be loved and will keep others warm in return.  

Dancing Pinwheels

This quilt started out as a 'what should I do next once I finished my last string quilt.  It is my favorite quilt I have eve made but it did sort of take a lot out of me.  I needed an easy one this time.  I found this picture in a McCalls quilting magazine.

I loved the simplicity of the pinwheels but applique is just not my thing so I ditched that.  I also tweaked the saw tooth border to be slightly more interesting. 

I opted for a modern twist in the borders where the flower applique was in the pattern.

 This backing fabric was sitting in my stash and I thought it balanced the front quite well.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Last Year's Teacher Gifts

I am soooooo far behind that I may never be able keep up.  I have a considerable amount of empathy for the hamster I had as a child these days.  I have been brain-storming and designing teacher gifts (ahead of time for once) with the kids lately.  I then realized  I never even posted about LAST years teacher gifts!  What a slacker I am! I mean really, what DO I do with my time???  So, in an effort to be frugal about this post, they are all going here.  This is going  to be longer than most of my posts but hang in there, it will be mostly pictures. :)

First Up, Mrs. Ferguson's Laptop Case:

This is my youngest boy's first grade teachers.  She was one of those great southern ladies that always had a big smile for you and kind work to say.  My biggest memory of her is going in for a parent-teacher conference and talking about his improvement and behavior in class.  We chatted a bit about his English grade and what not.  Then she pulls out a folder with his math work in it.  She says, and I quote "Oh LORD, baby Jesus! What ever can I say about Jordan and his math work!"  Now you have to hear that said like Julia Sugarbaker and the appropriate head toss and accent.  It was beautiful!  Now don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad thing, it was actually a good thing.  See, my boy is something of a math wiz, he was doing multiplication (for fun) before starting Kindergarten.  He may be the key to my retirement!

Next Up, Mrs. Mayo's purse:

This is my daughter's second grade teacher.  She also is a sweet woman who really showed her interest in Isabel.  She was the first teacher she had that believed me that she was struggling to understand what she was learning and and suggested that we get her some medication to help her.  She made a complete turn around in the 2nd grade and yesterday brought home a certificate for A-B Honor roll!  Anyway, Isabel saw me making one of these bags and asked if we could make one for her teacher.  She found all the fabrics and helped me put it together.  She kept saying 'It NEEDS to have butterflies and it has to be blue!"

Next up, Mrs. Ferguson's Tree Wall Hanging:

My other daughter was in 5th grade last year.  It was her first year of having more than one teacher.  She LOVED her science teacher.  She was one of those people for her that really helped her see the world in a new way.  She is a self proclaimed tree-hugger!  Aubrey and I decided early in the school year that whatever her gift was, it would have to be a tree!  So we opted to make a wall hanging.  Aubrey took a stack of various green fabrics to school, gave them to her switch class teacher and asked if all the kids would sign a piece with a permanent marker.  Somehow she managed to get all the kids to sign some without Mrs. Ferguson knowing.

Then we took all of those pieces and stitched them to a lining layer.

Once they were stitched down, we cut them out and turned them right way out. and started playing with the placement of them on a 'tree'.

This is what the tree looked like with it was naked.  I simply fused some batik fabric down on a dark and sparkly background.  It looks kind of sad this way doesn't it?

 We, added the leaves by quilting them onto the tree and this was the end result.

I think she liked it. ;)

Oh and a side note, this is a picture of Aubrey getting a prize for being voted 'most likely to be elected president' by her classmates.  The fact that we are politically neutral made this an funny moment.  The irony was not lost on her teacher.

Next up, Mrs Borland's Computer Bag.

Aubrey had a harder time deciding what to make for her math teacher.  She is not nearly as open about things as Mrs. Ferguson.  So we did some spying and asked her other teacher for some hints.  We got  a list of things that she was interested in.  One of those things was gardening and that she liked the color purple. So, we opted for a purple flower set into a computer case like the one I had made for Jordan's teacher.

Did I mention that she had recently survived cancer? Aubrey always has to find a way to ad some sparkle to things so we found this blingy survivor ribbon.

We lined the inside with the same fabric that was the background on Mrs. Ferguson's quilt. Bags always look best with striped handles.

I think she liked it too:

Last Up are the big boys' teachers, aren't my boys handsome?

I had the great experience of going to a Ricky Tim's seminar about a year ago.  ONE of the things that I knew I would have to make was a Convergence Quilt.  It would be the perfect gift for a math teacher, no?  Too bad Mr. Thomspon was their English teacher, LOL.  He was one of those teachers that really stood out though, especially with Jaydin.  He loves to read and Mr. Thompson really opened his mind to new books and ideas, not only that but ideas that were positive and up-building. I knew that he would need a special gift early on in the year.  I showed the boys a picture of this style of quilt and they liked the idea.  I used two pieces of hand dyed fabric and started cutting. I liked it when the middle was done but it just needed something...

I had a few random scraps left over and just started laying them around.  I ended up with this very sort of futuristic deal going on.  I was very happy with how this came out in the end.

 They were very happy to give it to him

Last but not least, Mrs. Tomberlin who was in fact their math teacher.  The boys discovered the awesomeness of Pi last year.  What would be cooler for a math teacher than a computer bag with the Pi symbol on it? Yeah, I couldn't think of anything either.  She always challenged the boys to excel and I appreciate any teacher that goes that extra little bit to make them think!

Well there they are, all 7 of them!  That is a lot of teachers!  This year there are 12 of them!! Needless to say, I need to get to work!!

I hope that all my kids teachers know that they are appreciated and thought of as part of our family structure.  That is why we do this every year!