Time to Quilt the Quilt-tops

So I’ve had three complete quilt tops hanging on the walls of my sewing room for almost a year! The days are growing cooler and shorter, the darkness is setting in earlier, and there are three little babes whose warm and cozy quilts are . . . hanging on my walls!

As I newbie to this quilting thing, I’ll admit that my hesitation to actually quilt these quilt-tops is mostly due to intimidation. Send them out or do them myself? Use my cheapo Singer or rent a long-arm? Stitch-in-the-ditch (s/d) or try my hand at stippling? Stitch over traced patterns? Even basting and backing can be a drama.

So here I am with three finished quilt-tops that need to be finished yesterday. I’ve decided to deal with the overwhelm by the “divide and conquer” method (or maybe it’s just the scatter-brain method, you decide): I’ll do each of the three quilts simultaneously in completely different ways! Brilliant, or crazy!?

Quilt #1 “Autumnal” for Griffin

Since this is the first (and worst) quilt, one would think it would be the easiest to quilt. Because it’s a combination of pieced blocks and panels, I’m not sure the best way to quilt it. Stitch-in-ditch might be okay for the disappearing nine patches, but then what to do with the panel pieces? Just finished basting it by hand with thread (so far my least favorite part of quilting). Now what to do? I’m thinking of tracing out a pattern, trying out my new special quilting foot and going for it (cross your fingers)



#2 “Cora’s Secret Garden”

I love this quilt, this was the most time-consuming but the most satisfying. The quilt-top is very intricate, so I want a quilt pattern that won’t compete. S/d would be fine, but it wouldn’t be very much fun! Instead I’m using this quilt to make a trial run with having a quilt professionally done. Very excited about not having to do any basting, not so excited with the $100 hit to my pocketbook (ha! who am I kidding, I mean “credit card”). I’m hoping an all-over pattern in subtle color-changing thread will balance the intense structure of the square patches – I’m thinking butterflies!


#3 “Wooo-Tweet” for Kai

This was the easiest quilt-top to make because it was basically just piecing panels. However, it has been my plan with this quilt that the TLC during the quilting process will make up for it. Despite suggestions to just free-form or stipple the entire quilt, I’m set on tracing the outlines within the panel – to make each element pop and to make the quilt uniquely Kai’s. I would love to hand stitch, but that would probably take me a year! I’m going out on a limb and planning to use my machine to trace all those lines. I’ll make up for the crazy amount of time that will take by using a spray basting technique instead of stitch basting. Like the Autumnal quilt, that leaves me wondering what to do with the border panels? Too big for s/d. I can have just the borders professionally quilted, but it would cost the same as the whole thing. I’m leaning towards stencils on this one, we’ll see!

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Cora’s Secret Garden

I remember the moment when I found the jelly roll of Moda‘s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – I couldn’t put it down. I was looking for fabric for a baby quilt, and here was this darling, modern yet vintage-inspired collection of florals and polka-dots in the most luscious and sophisticated shades of soft greens, dusty roses, creams, baby blues. I am not one for pink and pukey so I was instantly taken with the pallet of traditional baby “colors” (pink, blue, green, beige) re-imagined in sophisticated, modern and aesthetically tantalizing tonalities. I found the perfect jelly roll pattern at Moda’s Bakeshop: “Sweet Menagerie” Nine Patch by Roslyn Mirrington. And here’s the process!

Precut strips made cutting the 2.5x2.5 squares a breeze

Many hours went into mixing and matching 9 squares. Eventually I opted for using only two fabrics per square (one light, one dark) rather than the random look above.

Once the nine-patches were complete I mixed and matched to find the perfect border for each square

The real dance began after each nine-patch had selected it's own border to create complete blocks. The most tedious, and imperfect part of the process - trying to balance the entire quilt with the following rules: no blocks with same fabrics touching, no blocks with same balance of light/dark touching, no blocks with same border shades touching. Hours of rearranging!

Balance and harmony . . . sigh.

Quilting? Really?

For the last year or so, ever since I had my nine pound baby, I’ve been having pain in my wrists that makes knitting less fun. I’ve been looking for a new way to feed my fiber / color addiction. Happy to report, I found my new addiction: quilting.

“Quilting, really?” Is usually the first response. The second response is: “Really?” Yes, really! Now before you start thinking I’m going all Sunday School Craft Mama just consider: quilting involves color (lots, and lots of really great color), pattern (so many pattern combinations the mind boggles), and natural fiber. Why didn’t I think of it sooner?

It all clicked for me while visiting an old friend, whose wife happens to have made some lovely modern quilts – I must emphasize it was this modern angel that really intrigued me. It really didn’t take more than a casual visit to my favorite little knit/sew boutique, the Fancy Tiger in Denver, to catch the fever. I bought $9 charm packs of two fabulous fabric collections (Moda’s Wee Woodland and Fandango) and I was on my way.

I did a little research and in no time I was taking a class on the “Disappearing Nine” patch at Hip Stitch in Albuquerque. Mind you, I hadn’t sat down at a sewing machine since high school. But if I could knit a lovely little hat without a pattern after not knitting for twenty years, I figured I could sew some straight lines too.

Here it is, my first quilt top! The size (48″ x 60″) is perhaps best described as a lap quilt, but I think it’s really ideal for my toddler: bigger than a crib quilt but not as big as a twin. The fabric is from the Wee Woodland collection by Moda Fabrics.