BRIGHT & HAPPY BUGS QUILT (or a fabric panel quilt)

Cheerful and bright nap size quilt featuring happy lady bugs.

This Bright & Happy Bugs Quilt is a fun nap size quilt for the four year grand-daughter “C”. It’s hard not to smile at these cheerful, colorful bugs. She loves the bright colors and has quite a story to tell about the bugs adventures when she is here.


The Bright & Happy Bugs quilt stays at our home and when “C” wants to curl up, read, or nap she gets it from the rocking chair and curls up in it. Usually there is also a stuffed animal enjoying the quilt with her.

The top is a panel that I pieced bright borders to. We picked the 3 bright colors to add. The pink and yellow strips are 2.5″ and the dark purple is 4″ wide. The outside border is 6″ wide, and is a bug print that coordinates with the fabric panel. The outside border of small bright bugs is a coordinating print to the panel. We had a wonderful time working on this together – building memories and a fun quilt.

I saw a quilt at a fabric store that was off-set like this and thought it would be fun to try. I usually do borders all the way around, like a picture frame. It is good to try something different.


RLM machine quilted it in a stipple design. I self bound it by pulling backing to front and machine sewing down using matching lilac thread.


I decided to use this really soft lilac linen for the quilt backing. It was for a previous project, and there was enough leftover to use for this quilt. I love it when things come together perfectly, don’t you?

Solid lilac backing of quilt.  Can see machine quilting design.


Size is 35″ x 58″.

Helpful tip:

Fabric panels are a fun way to make a quilt or other items for home, and there are so many available now that cover many interests and color schemes. Look around for panels the next time you are out shopping for fabric and see what can be found for a fun, easy project.

Clip art of spool of thread with needle.


MAINE ROW QUILT

Row quilt featuring pine trees, birds, houses, leaves, fish, and mountains.

This Maine Row Quilt is beautiful !!! I completed the hand quilting on it in July of this year.  The top was done by my good quilting buddy (SB) of Caribou, ME. I believe she said the pattern was done by a local guild member up there.

SB had started quilting it, and decided to move onto another project so I got to complete the hand quilting. It was so much fun to quilt because each row was different so the quilting design changed with each row. I put in 182 yards of quilting to finish it for her.

Several people saw it at my home in the quilt frame while I was working on it and we all agreed that it was a truly beautiful quilt (even without my hand stitches in it).

A close up of the bird  and house rows.

The back is a beautiful print of brown bears: 

Backing is a bear print.
A larger view of the entire backing.

The finished size was 88″ x 90″. 

I returned it to her unbound so that is something SB will do over the winter when the snow is flying thick in northern Maine.

I already have so many ideas for quilts, but if I can convince her to loan me the pattern, I may make a Maine Row Quilt for myself.

QUILT SHOW – Terre Haute, IN

Quilt with triangle blocks and appliqued flower border.

Today is a dreary, gray, foggy day here and I thought it would be fun to “Go To A Quilt Show” in Terre Haute, IN for fun new ideas and inspiration, and to encourage us in our quilting activities. The best part is that we don’t have to get out of our jammies, drive anywhere, or see the show at a certain time.

Quilt of solid colors with center star, and card trick borders

This show was held in Terre Haute, IN in January 2006 by the Vigo County Quilt Guild. I attended this quilt show for many years because it was just plain fun. I always came away with ideas for my own quilts because of the quilts hanging at the show. And the guild folks were always so nice to visit with.

Trip around the world quilt done in solid fabrics.

Why go to a quilt show?

I will go to any quilt show if I can fit it into my schedule. Sure the vendors are usually worth at least a good look at, there are other quilters to talk to and bounce ideas off of, but for me the biggest thing is simply to see what other quilters did with patterns, fabrics, and their own creativity.

Quilt with cream background with red bias tape designs.

I usually end up asking myself, “why didn’t I think of that?”

Quilt: Mariner's Compass center with star and 9 patch blocks around it.

If you get a chance to go to a quilt show, no matter how big or small, try to go. Look, ask questions, enjoy the camaraderie, and come away with lots of new ideas.

Red, white and blue quilt with appliqued eagles in the center.

Quilt shows can be found in any city or rural area. Bigger national shows are easy to find on the internet. I find smaller or local shows by asking at fabric stores, checking other blogs, networking with other quilters, or looking through quilt magazines.

Scrap quilt in all hexagons.

These quilts are in no order, just simply what caught my eye that day.

Solid fabrics look like woven ribbons against black background.

I am not a purist, so I make some quilts to be hand quilted, and some to be machine quilted. Besides the pattern and colors, I always study how the quilt was actually quilted – machine or hand?

Two geometric quilts in solids or batik fabrics.

What pattern was it quilted in? Does the quilting blend in, or is the quilting meant to be seen? Is the quilter experienced or is he/she starting out?

Blue background with Chinese lanterns quilt.

What is a quilt challenge?

Two wall  hangings - one is flying geese and one is a woven pattern.
Two challenge quilts – the floral fabric in these had to be used in the quilt top.

I personally love to see “challenges” by a group of quilters. A challenge is where the same fabric or the same pattern is used in all the quilts. Give several quilters the same pattern or fabric guidelines, and they will still have very different quilts when done.

Ideas for quilt challenges: http://sillygoosequilts.blogspot.com/2015/01/ideas-for-quilt-challenges.html

To a quilt show we will go

Fellow Quilters Unite….. well maybe not, but let’s go to quilt shows if possible. It is so much fun, and just a great way to meet others who have the same interests we do. What is your favorite quilt show to attend?

Scrap quilt of nine patches set at an angle with arrow sashing.

FLOWERS & TUMBLERS (or scraps are taking over my world) – Part 2

This quilt, Flowers & Tumblers (or scraps are taking over my world), was started in July 2019 with the English paper pieced flowers.

My goal for this year is to make a dent in the scraps bins which have overflowed, plus figure out fun and different ways to use up leftover pieces from other quilts that I have made.

Here’s the previous post about this quilt: https://indianaquilter40.com/flowers-tumblers-or-scraps-are-taking-over-my-world-part-1/ .

Two flower sections completed laying flat.
Two completed flower sections

After completing the two sections of English pieced flowers, I did the tumbler sections. Many of the tumbler pieces were leftovers from another tumbler project (https://indianaquilter40.blogspot.com/2017/07/tumblers-galore.html) that I made in 2017. Once the leftovers were sewn together, I had to cut more anyway. Well, a little more dent in the scrap bins.

The photo below is of two completed tumbler sections and one almost complete flower section. The sashing is not between them yet. I am liking how the sections look together. The leftover green rick rack makes a great vine.

Two tumbler sections and one flower section of the quilt.
I like the look of these sections together.

PDF pattern for flowers and tumblers. The flower will take 7 hexagons (1 center and 6 petals):

The top is together with light weight denim between and around the outside of the five sections. I like the look so far. I will complete it with Flying Geese blocks for the outside border. The top currently measures 72″ x 80″ and my goal is 92″ square.

Three tumbler sections, and two flower sections all sashed with denim.
This used lots of scraps !!!

There will be one more post on the final section of borders of Flying Geese in the next few days.

I encourage you to go through your scraps and just have fun combining them together. I really enjoyed doing this quilt in sections instead of blocks or the same repeating pattern. It has a totally different look than scrap quilts I have done in the past. I think this method may become addictive…

These are the posts on the previous blog about this quilt, please see:

https://indianaquilter40.blogspot.com/2019/07/grandmas-flower-garden-or-take-along.html

https://indianaquilter40.blogspot.com/2019/09/returned-from-trip-and-ready-to-go-again.html

THREAD & FABRIC – SHOULD THEY MATCH?

Clip art -  thread and needle

Should the thread and fabric match? I have been asked this so many times, especially by beginning quilters.  We were taught in a sewing class taken back in the dark ages that the thread and fabric should match. And honestly, if I am sewing clothing, I want the thread to match. However, we are talking quilting here.

Should the fabric and thread colors match? Does it really matter? I decided years ago that it was more important to me to cut and sew accurately, then be concerned about matching thread color for piecing the pattern.

Here’s my take on matching threads to fabric (and remember this is simply my opinion) – it depends on what part of the quilting process I am working on.…

If I am piecing, I do not care what color of thread that is being used.  Oh, the scandal!!  Every time I changed fabric colors, I would have to change the thread and bobbin. In my mind that is such a waste of time, and I would rather be happily sewing.

Container with many spools of different colors of thread.
Partial spools of beautifully colored threads

Your quilt is about you, and only you can decide what steps in the quilt making process are priority to you.  You will need too decide what you are willing or not to do. I know I am in the minority on the subject, and I am comfortable with that.  I really notice this each fall when a group of us get together every September in Maine to quilt for several days – I am the only one who does not spend time matching the thread to the fabric.  Clearly it is not a priority for me, but a high one for the others.

However, when I am piecing a planned top with purchased fabric for that project, I try to find some neutral color and use that for the entire top. 

Right now, I am trying to clean out my scrap bins – how would I even begin to match the fabrics and threads?  I already feel my head starting to hurt. When I am piecing with scraps, I use it as an excuse to use up all those partial spools and bobbins of odd colors. 

Plastic tub of 2.5" scrap strips of fabric
2.5″ strips all cut and ready to sew
Plastic tub of 3" fabric squares.
3″ squares cut and ready to sew

This is the biggest reason I rarely use white as a background fabric – combined with the use of many different colors of thread, there are all the loose hanging threads. I just make sure they are at the back when I am sewing those seams. (See other post: https://indianaquilter40.com/to-clip-those-loose-threads-or-not/)

Other quilters’ thoughts about this issue:

https://www.generations-quilt-patterns.com/what-color-quilting-thread-should-i-use-for-piecing.html

https://www.quiltersworld.com/basics.php#Thread

This is a good time to address sewing thread – buy the best you can afford.  My own mistakes showed me a long time ago that usually the store brand is not quality which lead to frustration as I sewed (knots and shredding) and it did not hold up to use. The other issue was that some of the color was not set right, and it bled through the quilt top after the first washing.

I do match the thread if I am doing applique, or a binding. Why? Because I want to see the design, not obvious stitches.  For both applique and bindings, I usually like to use a thread that matches the background because it seems to blend in better. This is also how I end up with partial spools and bobbins of various colors.

I personally use Coats & Clark machine thread because the color range is fantastic, and it holds up well for both hand and machine sewing.

There is also the budget issue, after all I have spent money on quality thread, and I can’t see letting it just sit in a cupboard unused.  My goal is to use the fabric up until it is gone (those glorious scraps need a home, right?) so I personally want to have the same attitude about the thread.  

Now I am going to really be controversial (!!) with the next comment.  Once I discovered thread adapters (I bought mine at JoAnn’s) I went to using neutral serger threads for much of my sewing. I still buy quality, but the cost is so much less than buying the same amount of thread on regular spools. My grandma told me that the only thread colors I would ever need were black, gray, light brown, white, and navy and those are the colors I buy in serger threads because they really are versatile and neutral.  Only you can decide if this option works for you, but I have done it for well over 30 years with very satisfactory results.

Thread adapter with 4 spools of serger thread.
Thread adapter and serger thread
Four spools of serger thread.

Only you can decide if matching threads for piecing is a stress or a joy to you. 

Remember that quilting should make you happy.  If you are distracted or stressed by some part of the quilting process that does not matter once the quilt is finished, then maybe it just is not worth it. My grandma would say “don’t stress the small stuff”.

Quilt block with saying "Decide for yourself what matters to you and what doesn't"
Source: Quiltville

Quilting folks, please comment – do you match your fabrics and thread?

CELTIC KNOT PILLOWS (hand quilted and embellished with beads)

Mixing large quilts with smaller projects is fun and allows me to have several projects going at the same time. I intended to only make one of these Celtic pillows, but somehow a single project morphed into two separate projects. They started with the purchase of some historical looking metallic trim that I hand sewed small white beads within the design. The hand quilting and embellished trim really made for a one of a kind item.

The navy blue fabric was silk and made for easy hand quilting. I drew the design with a white chalk pencil using a stencil. The I carefully machine sewed the trim to the fabric – I had to be careful to go slowly so I did not catch on the beads. I finished the back using the envelope method (see below) and off this one went to an auction.

Navy blue silk pillow with beaded trip and quilted Celtic knot.
Complete and ready to go to the auction !

The burgundy pillow was also silk fabric and again hand quilted so easily. This one was a gift for a local woman who helped me sew some clothing (in my opinion, complicated compared to quilting). The method was the same for both pillows.

Burgandy silk pillow with beaded trim and hand quilted Celtic knot.

The pillows were sewn together and finished with the envelope method. See: https://www.domesticimperfection.com/how-to-make-envelope-closure-pillow/.

These two pillows were made during 2000 – 2001.

The finished size was 18″ square.

FLOWERS & TUMBLERS (or scraps are taking over my world) – Part 1

Colorful scrap quilt that has sections of tumblers, English paper pieced flowers, and flying geese blocks.

This Flowers & Tumblers quilt looks great, but it did not start as a cohesive quilt idea. It started out as an exercise in frustration because the scraps had gotten out of hand and were taking over my world. I absolutely had to do something to stop the flood of scrap piles on the floor, on the shelves, and generally in my way.

On Jan. 1, 2019 I went thru every single piece of fabric on the shelves and put anything a quarter yard or less in a box (ok, it turned out to be two). Then I started cutting 3″ blocks, 2.5″ strips, and hexagons in two sizes. Each type went in plastic storage totes.

The leftovers from this went in a “crumb” tub to make string or crumb blocks at some point in the future.

Large tub full of colorful strips and odd shaped scraps for making string or crumb quilts.
This tub stays below the cutting table – the odd shapes and too small stuff for the sizes I normally cut go to live in here until I get a chance to make “crazy” blocks.

The hexagons went in bags that I drug around on my job travels. The smaller size “flowers” are being appliqued to plain muslin blocks. The larger ones shown here got used in the strips in the photos – and yes, there are several more waiting for me to get back to them.

Am I the only one who comes out with leftovers from most of my quilts? Honestly, I never thought I was that bad at math….

One English paper pieced flower in blues.
Several English paper pieced flowers in various colors laying on grass.
Two muslin strips with vines and paper pieced flowers appliqued down.
The vine is left over rick-rack and bias tape. Photo taken on dock at lake in Maine.

So these two strips of English paper pieced flowers were the starting point for this quilt. I made the flowers while at a family reunion in July. I don’t sit well with nothing in my hands, so these were easy to pick up and put down with all the visiting and conversations.

PDF pattern for flowers and tumblers. These are the exact size off the plastic pattern pieces I used (print off on 8″ x 10″ paper). The flower will take 7 hexagons (1 center and 6 petals):

Here is a link to my previous blog about the quilt shown here, and it gives a basic idea of how to do English paper piecing. I will get back to giving more info and better directions in a later post here for Flowers & Tumblers.

https://indianaquilter40.blogspot.com/2019/07/grandmas-flower-garden-or-take-along.html

In the meantime, have a great time on your quilt projects. You have got this……

Girl sewing quilt top
Source: google clip art

Please comment fellow quilters – do you like English paper piecing? If so, what is your most used shape?

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

“UGLY FABRIC” (what should I do with it?)

Most quilters (including me) have come up against the “ugly fabric” problem and now what should I do with it? After all, it followed me home.

First, it is just fine to describe a fabric as “ugly” – we are talking about an object. All of us have a different opinion of what we think of as beautiful vs. ugly fabric and there is no reason not to be honest. After all, if everyone liked the same colors and designs there would not be the selection of cloth that we currently have.

clip art - quilt block

The fabric looked great at the store, or quilt show… but now that it is home, I wonder what possessed me to pay good money for that.  And why did I think five yards would be enough? Am I losing my mind?

I have tried several ways of handling the “ugly fabric” issue in my own quilting world. So far, the two most used answers are cutting it up as small as possible or using it as the backing of a quilt (especially if I can donate it or give it away).

When I would complain to my grandmother about ugly fabric, she would smile big and tell me that I had “not cut it small enough”.  Good point, and it generally does work.

However, there are a few other things I have also tried:

  • Over-dye it which for me this is a hit and miss method.  I have come out with a truly beautiful “new” fabric, and I have come out with something far worse than what I started with.
  • Mix it with a lot of other scraps in a quilt and it won’t stand out.
  • Donate it (Goodwill, art class at the school, 4-H, or the animal shelter for bedding, etc).
  • Trade it because someone else will probably love it and he/she has a chunk of fabric you just love.
  • Sell it because you can use that money to buy a piece of fabric you like.
  • Make a simple pet bed for the local animal shelter. This is basically a pillow case that I keep on the cutting table and stuff with left over snippets of batting and fabric. When 2/3 full, I sew the open side shut and off to the shelter it goes. The shelter here cannot get enough of them.

No doubt other quilters have their own solutions to this dilemma, and I wish you would share them with the rest of us.

clip art - bolts of fabric and scissors

I remember years ago using a specific line of fabric to make a quilt.  One of the fabrics was just too hideous (in my opinion) and when I brought the finished quilt back to the shop to show the ladies there, I said something about putting the ugliest fabric on the back.  The owner was totally offended and made sure I knew it.  My comment was thoughtless, but I am not going to lie.

Just remember my fellow quilters that the point is not that it is ugly, but that we find a way to use it.  In the world of recycle, reuse, and re-purpose, fabric should be used. It has not been many years ago that nothing was thrown away because the item was too expensive or too hard to get to waste. We have so many choices today in the fabric world that we forget how hard it was for our predecessors to get nice fabric. So, let’s find a use for it, if only in honor of the quilters who came before us.

Pioneer woman sitting on porch with quilt top

Some ideas for ugly fabric:

https://www.quiltinghub.com/Articles/ArticleID/66

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

NIGHT FLIGHT (or a Flying Geese quilt)

Flying Geese quilt with black background and bright colored geese.

Flying Geese seems to be a well known and well loved block among quilters. These blocks are fairly easy to make and can be arranged in other ways beside the traditional Flying Geese quilts. I like darker backgrounds, and thought that “Night Flight” was a good description of geese flying through a night sky.

According to a couple books in my personal library, this setting is called “Dutchman’s Puzzle”.

Close up of the flying geese

 All the “geese” in this quilt are Jinny Beyers fabric. I had a stash of them and thought this would make a really neat looking quilt if I used solid black for the background. I put a lot of hours into this quilt and it was finished from start to finish in 2008.

Steps to make your own Night Flight:

I started with 5″ squares. I drew a line diagonally and then sewed on each side of the line to make 2 half square triangle pieces that I matched and sewed up the center to make each “goose”. I know this is a time consumptive method, but I prefer the accuracy and working with smaller pieces of fabric.

In order to put the design together, I simply laid the pieces out like a magazine photo I had seen. The pieces in the photo were much smaller, but I like the bigger blocks and they were actually easy to work with.

I used to spend a lot of time working with triangles, but over the past 10 years or so I have gone to using the half square triangle method because of the accuracy, and the way triangles tend (for me at least) to really stretch out of shape, which is means a lot more squaring up to make the blocks fit.

When I show other quilters how to make these Flying Geese blocks, I use this method. The size can be adjusted easily to any size triangles desired.

Another close up of the Flying Geese.

The backing is not a match to the front at all. In fact, I think it is a super ugly fabric (my own opinion). This fabric was on sale for a great price and is good quality cotton. Another plus is that it was on hand. The budget would not stretch enough to cover another back, and the machine quilting.

Backing fabric for this quilt is large orange flowers with green leaves.

Finished size is 100″ square.

Machine quilting is an all over cloud design by RLM in July 2008.

The binding is 2.5″ strips cut from the leftover Jinny Beyers fabrics. It is sewn into a long strip, and ironed in half (1.25″). I machine sewed the raw edge down on the front, flipped it over to the back and hand stitched down.

Night Flight quilt outside

Here are two links to other info on Flying Geese quilts –

https://indianaquilter40.com/the-great-migration-quilt/

https://indianaquilter40.blogspot.com/2010/04/flying-geese.html

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.