Table toppers are easy and quick to make. It is such a nice feeling to make an entire quilted project quickly and have that wonderful warm feeling of “yeah, it is done”. That is how I feel about this Simple Christmas Table Topper.
Obviously the strips and center squares could be cut the size you need. But I used 2.5″ beige center blocks, and 1.75″ strips in green and red.
The front pieces were all from the scrap bin. The backing was a piece from the stash.
The blocks are super easy to piece. Sew a strip of one color (green) on the two parallel sides of the squares. Iron. Sew the other color (red) on the two parallel sides of the squares. Iron. Repeat until the block is the size you want.
The border I added was cut 4″ wide. I really like the cardinals and pine cones on it.
For the machine quilting, I did straight lines along each row of blocks. Also along the borders. Simple and quick.
Polyester batting is great for this sort of project because it does not need to be closely quilted.
The binding is a 2.5″ straight strip that is folded in half and ironed. I then sew it onto the front of the quilt. Yes, the corners are mitered. Please use whatever method of binding you want on your project.
I hand sewed the binding down on the back.
This Simple Christmas Table Topper is 34″ square. Finish it by adding a tag with at least initials and year. I use up scraps of Aida cloth from counted cross stitch projects for this.
I have always been ready to travel when the opportunity arises. Quilting and travel seem to fit together fine. So I am a quilter on the road again.
The hubby and I took a few days off to escape north to see my sister, her family, and any other family who showed up in MN. The plan was to make the drive each way a two day trip with overnights in the Wisconsin Dells.
Peaceful, quiet time…
The other part of the plan was simply to relax on the lake, enjoy no schedule, and have a great visit. The trip was great and the plans worked out fine.
Quilting by the lake
I am still dealing with a problem shoulder so chose a small project that is very mobile. It is also great to just pick up, work on, and put down. No stress.
All the fabric pieces in the small project bag was cut out prior to the trip. The bag also had needles, thread, and small scissors. This makes for keeping everything together, and does not take up much room in the suitcase.
Fabric shopping to complete the trip
On the return trip, we made a stop in Hutchinson, MN. Hubby headed for the DQ down the block while I did a quick shopping spree at the wonderful store “Quilt Haven on Main”. If you are up that way, make time to stop at this fun fabric store.
Ok, I really don’t need any fabric, but I picked up a few pieces anyway.
A QUILER ON THE ROAD AGAIN…
Travel, peace and quiet, and quilting can go hand in hand. If you have a chance to do so please take the time away from your regular life and just enjoy. Pick a project that travels easy and work on it while relaxing.
I am a big believer in giving back to my community. Here are six simple donated baby quilts to the local crisis pregnancy center that I made. As I make these quilts, they get donated in batches of 6 – 12 to two local pregnancy centers.
The blocks are a mix of flannel and cotton with the batting being scraps left over from my own projects. The backing is usually a flannel or child print cotton. They are tied with yarn. People know that I make many of these annually so many of the supplies are donated to me for this purpose.
Supplies For the Donated baby quilts:
Nine 9.5” cotton or flannel squares (3 rows of 3 squares each)
Bright colored yarn
Backing fabric (flannel or cotton – 1.25 yard)
At a minimum they should be tied at each corner and in the center of each block. They could be machine quilted easily in straight lines.
I do a self binding by trimming the batting even with the top, and then trimming the back to 2″ on each side larger than the top/batting. Fold the over hang in half once (so now 1″ wide all around quilt) and sew down as binding.
If using fleece as the backing, when self binding trim to 1″ and zig-zag stitch down. I have found if using fleece for the backing, I do not use batting.
Please remember that these donated baby quilts for the local crisis pregnancy center are meant to be loved to death, so make them well and colorful.
Reach out to others:
If you ask or look around your own community, there are people or places who would love to receive warm and cuddly quilts. These are also a simple way to teach people basic sewing skills.
In the past, I have used these quilts to teach basic sewing and giving skills to a group of teen girls at church. It was a fun way to learn and for them to socialize as well. Currently I am making the donated baby quilts alone as the girls have all left for college, and none of the current teen girls are interested in sewing.
This quilt started out simple enough as an Ocean Wave quilt. And then “disaster” struck and I ended up with this Lost at Sea quilt.
My daughter wanted a bright and cheery quilt. And as always I was happy to make a top that used lots of scraps from my overflowing scrap bin.
This pattern uses two sizes of triangles and normally goes together easily enough. I currently cannot find the old paper pattern from a magazine that I used (it may finally have been used to death), but this quilt pattern is very similar.
Due to the the small pieces, and large amount of pieces needed there is a real need for the time to work on it.
So how did I make this mistake on the Lost at Sea quilt? Lack of time and being over tired so I just did not catch my mistake. I pieced this top in 1997 and my kids were all under 12, and we were homeschooling.
The blocks went together individually just fine.
It was when I connected the blocks that the mistake happened. The blocks got turned around and ended up in a totally different design. Yes, it does resemble real ocean waves and we all liked the finished top.
At least the gray and pink striped border frames it beautifully.
Crisis avoided by laughing about it, and just renaming the quilt. This quilt was a favorite of my daughter’s and it is long worn out from being loved into nothing but rags.
The finished size was 68″ x 88″. It was machine quilted in an all over wavy pattern in 2000 by MG.
I love this pattern and it makes beautiful quilts. So far, I have only made these in scraps but it would make a beautiful two color quilt. I am thinking about making a solid colored quilt – maybe like an Amish quilt with black or navy background.
I made the below Ocean Wave quilt in 1990. Here it is in a personal quilt show last spring. It still looks good.
Wherever your quilt journey takes you, enjoy the trip. Learn from it. Challenge yourself. Be happy.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.
Sometimes a quilt top appeals to me and I just have to bring it home. That is what happened with this vintage Churn Dash quilt when I saw it at an antique store in Oaktown, IN back in 2010. Plus it fit my budget at $30.
The blocks are 8″ square and are made of cheerful 30’s and 40’s prints. A solid orange sashing is between the blocks. Here is an easy pattern to make your own.
I kept it where it could be seen for several months while I decided about adding an outside border. I was not concerned about the size, however, I personally like an outside border to frame the quilt.
After several months, I decided to leave the quilt top “as is” and had it machine quilted by RLM in January 2011. The design is a loopy design that is close and does a good job of covering the entire top.
We chose a poly/cotton blend batting, and the backing is a cotton multi colored design on light background.
The finished size is 64″ x 76″.
This vintage churn dash quilt makes me happy every time I look at it. The fabrics and cheery colors remind me of something my beloved Grandma would have made from feed sacks.
Reminder to all quilters:
Please don’t feel like you have to make every quilt you have. It can be fun to purchase completed blocks, a completed top, or a finished quilt. The important thing is to surround yourself with quilts you like because they make you happy.
Purchasing parts of a quilt, or an entire top can also save some much needed time. Quilting should make you happy, not stressed.
I have no idea who showed me how to English paper piece hexagons and diamonds. But the years have slid by and I really enjoy this technique. It is portable, easy, and looks great when completed.
What research I have done on this technique is that it started in England (well that certainly is obvious) in the 1700’s. The technique showed up in America in the early 1800’s. I have not done enough research that may or may not show this technique in other countries.
Paper (I use scrap paper that is on hand, such as discarded mail)
Pattern in shape and size desired
I found this slide show about English paper piecing to be very easy to follow and the photos much better than anything I had in my own personal collection for directions.
If you prefer YouTube, this is a nice presentation.
This previous post has a PDF pattern for the hexagon I use in most of my quilts using this technique.
This is not a hard technique, but it is time consuming.
Here are my steps and tips FOR HOW TO DO ENGLISH PAPER PIECING:
Get my supplies together.
Make the template from something sturdy (I cut up the plastic lids from ice cream containers for this). Draw around it on the paper for the amount of hexagons (or diamonds) you want to do. Personally, I start with 2 or 3 sheets of paper and cut more as needed. I find I can use the same paper shapes 3 times before they are no longer stiff. Cut carefully and accurately.
I do not cut out hexagon (or diamond) shapes from fabric. I do cut squares or rectangles big enough to cover the shape plus be folded over to the back. My reasoning is that I can trim off the extra fabric from the back of each shape – I cannot make extra if I don’t allow enough room. I learned the hard way that not centering already cut fabric means there is not enough fabric on back to prevent fraying or just flat out not enough fabric.
Take one paper shape and one fabric piece. Pin the paper to the wrong side of the fabric. Baste all around the shape. You will want the fabric to fit snug and the edges sharp. Do not bend the paper shape or have the fabric sag away from the paper.
Starting with the center and one petal, whip stitch along one side. Add another petal and sew the two seams. Do this all the way around until you have one complete “flower”.
Do not remove the paper yet. When you remove the paper will depend on what you do with the sewn shapes. The basted edge holds the raw edges firmly so they can be sewn together to the next row of hexagons. Or sewn down to a fabric block by applique.
When you decide to remove the paper, simply take out the basting stitches and pull out the paper. As long as it is still stiff and the edges untorn, it can be reused in another “petal”.
Other places for information:
I found several other links about English Paper Piecing. We all learn differently, so these might be helpful too.
Have fun exploring the world of English paper piecing. You may be one of those quilters who becomes “addicted” to this technique. Even if you are not one who becomes “addicted”, at least you will have learned how to do English Paper Piecing. Happy Quilting.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.
In all my years of quilting, I had never seen a quilt pattern like this Chinese Lantern Quilt. This beauty was probably pieced during the 1930’s. It is so unique, and I had the privilege of hand quilting it in early 1996.
The background fabric is a bright orange with cotton candy pink circles appliqued between the lanterns. Diamonds of 1930’s prints make up the lanterns and are appliqued on the orange background too. The first border is a narrow black strip, with the outside border more of the bright orange fabric.
The hand quilting is a circle inside the pink fabric circles. In the orange I quilted a stipple design. Some of the diamonds in each lantern are quilted too. I put 203 yards of hand quilting into this cheerful and unique quilt.
The backing is plain unbleached muslin. I wish that I had taken a photo of the quilt from the back as well, but at the time it just did not get done.
Finished size is queen.
When I quilted this Chinese Lantern Quilt, it was owned by PB of Fiddletown, CA.
Are you wondering why I am showing off a quilt from 1996? Truthfully, it is a gloomy, drizzly day here in central Indiana. I completed my reports for work and took some time to look back through my scrapbooks of quilts and found this cheerful beauty.
It is an unusual pattern – I have to wonder if it was designed by the maker.
I recently spent some time looking at my old blog and walking down “memory lane” of quilts that I did years ago. I thought this quilt “First Grandbaby Quilt” would be a fun one to share. It was simple and made with a lot of love for a wonderful surprise.
Our first (and to date only) grandbaby was a wonderful surprise. Our daughter was and is a planner, and as far as we knew babies were not part of the her life’s plan.
So being a quilter, my mind went into “quilting mode” and what kind of quilt to make for the expected precious little person. The daughter refused to have a sex test done on the baby so any quilt would have to be for either gender.
After much sorting through the stash, I finally decided on cheerful and bright. Some bright scraps, some flower fabrics, some cat fabrics, and a newly purchased piece of Winnie the Pooh fabric for the border.
The grand-daughter arrived as scheduled in March 2015. She was (and is) a precious addition to our family. We are so glad to live only a short distance away which means we are able to babysit a few hours weekly. The years slip by so fast and she is now in kindergarten. She is beautiful just like her mom.
The First Grandbaby quilt is faded and well used, which is exactly what it should be.
As I mentioned in the previous post, a current project is a quilt for my nephew. He loves vintage and muscle cars. I am making him an Ode to Vintage Cars quilt for his high school graduation this year. Simple and personal.
I try to do my business locally, and in this case the search for specific fabric took longer than expected. I found so many vehicle fabrics, but most were juvenile looking or were not the right kind of cars. Amazing as it is, I was able to get four vintage car fabrics on my last road trip to the Daviess County, IN Amish community.
My plan is this –
Double bed size made from 10″ squares. The car fabric will be alternated with solid orange fabric. It will be 8 rows across by 9 rows up and down for a total of 72 squares. So 36 orange and 36 car fabric. Can you tell I like to keep my math easy?
My thought is to add three separate borders: 2.5″ wide white, 2.5″ orange, and 4″ navy blue with small white stars. The borders will be my ode to my favorite muscle car.
I am aiming for a finished size of 85″ x 95″.
Right now, the rows are sewn together and the top is waiting the borders. I should be able to get the borders added this week. Then it will go off to be machine quilted.
I will add more photos once the quilt is complete.
It should make a young man who loves vintage and muscle cars a happy guy.
I just finished the self binding on this quilt, and wanted to add an updated photo and information.
This quilt has three borders. The first is white solid, the second is the same orange solid as the alternate blocks, with the outside border being navy with white stars.
The backing is a gray solid flat sheet. For quilting thread I chose gray variegated to blend in with the backing. Batting is a poly/cotton blend.
An all over stipple design was done for the machine quilting.
The completed size is 88″ x 98″ so a bit bigger than the original goal.
My favorite muscle car:
During my teen years in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, muscle cars were common. I had my favorites – Corvette’s and Nova’s. Then this TV series came on in 1979 named the Dukes of Hazzard. I fell in love hard for the most “magic” muscle car of them all – the General Lee. It was beautiful jumping and it always drove off after a jump.
I found out the hard way that jumping a muscle car was not smart and very dangerous. A school mate and I ruined his dad’s newly restored Camaro by jumping it on a country road. The moral to that lesson – let the stunt guys drive crazy.
Easy and personal quilts can be made from any novelty fabric that suits the interests of the recipient. Here’s another idea for a personal quilt that involves vehicles. I also found an unlimited amount of car quilt ideas on Pintrest.
This kind of quilt is simple to make and a joy to receive. Have fun making these for the special people in your life.
In the meantime, I will finish the Ode to Vintage Cars quilt by adding the borders and getting it off to the machine quilter.
Fall is my favorite season and the only one I really decorate for. I believe that is one reason I go to Maine every September – the colors are so brilliant – the blue sky, the leaves, the ocean water. I thought it would be fun to make a log cabin quilt in fall colors. Here is the start of my “Log Cabin in the Fall Woods” quilt.
I started to make a fall themed log cabin quilt from my fabric stash. The goal being to not buy any fabric to make this quilt top. It was not hard to find the right red, orange and purple scraps and cut them into the correct sizes and shapes:
4″ center squares (dark red)
2.5″ strips (purple and orange)
When constructing the blocks, I only did two rounds instead of my normal three. When sewing two of the sides of the block are in one color (orange) and the other two in another color (purple). There is a total of 36 blocks to make this square quilt, or six rows by six rows. I like keeping the math simple.
I cut many strips to start and ended up cutting more to complete the blocks. That really is fine, I am trying to use up scraps.
36 blocks done:
When the 36 blocks were complete, I set them together in what is called the Sunshine & Shadow setting or the Dark & Light setting. Whatever the name, it gave a different look to the purple and orange blocks. I only recently realized how many ways the log cabin blocks can be put together to make designs.
At this point, the top for “Log Cabin in the Fall Woods” is 68” square and needs a border or borders to complete. I lost interest and moved to another project. This project got hung on a hanger in the closet to be finished another time.
Adding the borders
I added more of the leftover strips to make the border to finish this quilt top. There are 5 borders to make the quilt the size I want.
Starting closest to the blocks, first border is 4″ in red print. The second border is leftover 2.5″ leftover purple strips. The third border is leftover 2.5″ orange strips. The fourth border is leftover 2.5″ purple strips. The final border is 4″ wide and a leaf print with metallic highlights.
A completed quilt
The quilt was machine quilted in a large stipple design. The machine quilting was completed in May 2020 by RLM.
Finished size is 88″ square.
The backing is a solid purple sheet.
I did not buy any fabric for the quilt top. It is made of scraps or from fabric pieces already in my stash. Goal reached !!