This is now a fashion blog

I like our new cover photo! Thank you webmaster Brad for adding it. And thank you neighbors for coming out during the Steelers vs. Bills halftime to hold quilts for us!

I tried to accomplish my goal of both quilting and supervising my child simultaneously this weekend. If my child could be contained in a room this wouldn’t be that hard. But, as Rachel knows, that is not possible. At 8:00 a.m. on Sunday Louie was on Rachel’s porch wearing my exercise resistance bands as a “jet pack” in a Spider-Man outfit. So, I resorted to outdoor quilting while the children of the neighborhood did all of the things they do for 10 straight hours.

Luckily, no one grabbed the hot iron or rotary cutter.

What I actually came here to say though is we might be cutting edge fashion designers. A famous and cool person who my husband knows but I do not wore this to the Met Gala:

That is a literal quilt.

I googled the designer and here is this “look” from his “look book.”

I do like the idea of one day making a puffy quilt. And, Rachel, when you see me on my porch wrapped in it you will know that I am not a disheveled mess, but rather, a very stylish and cool person who definitely has it all together.

A true quilting legend lives across the street…

and her name is Rachel! I asked her last night to help me understand how to write on our blog, and then I came here for a leisurely stroll this morning, and I see she has been quilting and blogging about quilting like a literal quilting machine!

My mind is blown by the “H” quilt. I love it and the colors and how did you even do the math to figure out that pattern…and the back! It’s really amazing and I’m glad Wallace was respectful of the process. Also the quilt top you are working on is so beautiful—I need that pattern!

I think I said my quilting goal this year was six quilts? I am probably not even going to accomplish that underwhelming goal. I am not worthy of living in the shadow of Rachel.

Earlier in the year I made three quilts for Louie’s new superhero bedroom, which is probably excessive. (Two are just whole cloth lap quilts, so I don’t know if they count.)

For his bed, I used the “Wish” pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew.

I actually emailed Allison from Cluck Cluck Sew last night to show her pictures of this quilt and she emailed me back this morning and I felt a bit starstruck.

For some reason when I painted Louie’s room I included a rainbow stripe border. I made the star tails in this pattern to match that border. Then in the stars I appliquéd various superhero characters.

When I posted this photo I had a flashback to how overwhelmed I was about quilting this thing! I can’t believe I actually finished it. I free-motion quilted it with an “echo” around the appliqué and then straight lines down the tails. I’ve never straight line quilted using the free-motion foot before, but this quilt was too large to keep turning. It turned out better than I expected! Then I just did random zigzag lines in the zigzagging background areas.

I also am now recalling how hard it was to come up with the backing! I am not a math genius like Rachel so without a pattern I struggle. Oh and also the day I basted this monster I had some weird fold in the backing and I had to take out 3/4 of the pins and do it all again! Thank you Rachel for being the only person to understand the tragedy of that situation.

I added this block as a funny joke for Louie because he always asks who my favorite superhero is and I say “Wonder Woman” and then I ask him and he says “all the boys.” Which, of course. Nick thinks this block is weird, but Louie liked it!

I am currently laying in Louie’s bed under this quilt and I am going to go back to sleep now because he woke up at 4 a.m. and then 6 a.m. to build LEGO. I guess I stay awake until 2 a.m. to quilt sometimes so I can’t fault his LEGO excitement!

My cousin is having a baby! You know what that means…

I texted this to Amanda last month, and she responded as I expected: “BABY QUILT!!”

When you know, you know.

Baby quilts are fun, because they are small and also because they are so cute. I spent more time than I care to admit on the internet scrolling Etsy for baby quilt fabric until I came across this adorable little ducklings charm pack by Moda. I ordered a couple and decided on a basic patchwork design.

I spent way too much time trying to perfectly balance the colors and patterns.

I started this quilt the week before we were supposed to go on vacation for 2 weeks, and surprise surprise, I did not finish it before leaving town like I had hoped I would. At least I managed to get it pieced and basted. My partner/webmaster kept saying, “I don’t understand why you are working on this quilt and not packing or preparing for our trip?” It’s a disease. Quilting addiction. It could be worse!

When we got home, I had to bump the baby quilt after the H quilt in the queue (cousin’s baby is due in October), but I managed to quilt and bind it over Labor Day weekend after I finished the H quilt.

I wanted to buy a few yards of one of the duckling fabrics for the backing, but I guess this collection was too new and no shops were selling yardage, only charm packs, jelly rolls, and layer cakes. I think yardage is available now, but I didn’t know how long it would take, so I just used some flannel from my stash. It’s a little too natural/off white, but it almost looks like the yellow in the prints, so I went with it. I prewashed it on hot before basting, so hopefully it doesn’t shrink too much.

I used a hera marker and ruler to crease the fabric on the diagonal through the squares and keep the line straight through the border. It’s a neat little tool, I think I’ll use it more in the future.

For the binding, I tried something new: using the backing fabric to bind the quilt by leaving one inch of overhanging backing and cutting away the batting to the edge of the quilt top. After reading a few quilt blog posts on how to do this, I sewed the folded backing over the quilt top and then super slowly machined finished it. I tend to try to speed through machine binding because I’m just so ready to be done at that point, but since this is a gift for a baby, I wanted to make sure it was done properly and securely. I’m quite happy with how it turned out.

Only the wind is holding this quilt up. It fell down immediately after taking this picture.

I hope my soon-to-be-born second-cousin-once-removed enjoys this cute quilt as much as I enjoyed making it.

Is this quilt 7? I am losing track.

Here’s a sneak peek of Quilt 8. I just finished the top tonight, but didn’t have the energy to do any more.

The blocks in the foreground came from leftover HSTs. This was not the most efficient pattern.

I started this one a long time ago so I’d have something to put on my bed for spring/summer instead of the Christmas quilt that is currently on there. Considering it’s the middle of September, I’m not sure about getting this one done in time for “summer” 2021… maybe I should put this top away and work on a fall theme quilt instead?

Quilts from yesteryear

Yesterday we visited my in-laws, and their neighbor, Mrs. B, invited my mother-in-law and me to her house to look at her grandmother’s quilts. (She knows I love quilts.)

Mrs. B’s grandmother was not only an amazing quilter, hand piecing, quilting, and binding, she was also very talented with embroidery. There were whole cloth quilts that were beautifully quilted with intricate floral patterns and then perfectly decorated with embroidery details. I didn’t bring my phone to take photos of all of them, but I wish that I had. Another was a sort of crazy quilt that was made from what appeared to be velvet men’s jackets and upholstery fabric. Lots of cool scrappy quilts, interesting patterns like flowers from hexies and a hummingbird pattern. Mrs. B doesn’t quilt but she has a deep appreciation for all of the work that went into these and displays them in her home. Her mother had 3 siblings, and they all divided the quilts up after her grandmother passed away, so I only got to see a quarter of the collection.

My favorite quilt, and the one that Mrs. B saved for last, was this friendship quilt that was made by her grandmother and her aunts and cousins and neighbors who lived on nearby farms. Each one made a block and then embroidered her name in the middle. I asked my mother in law if I could borrow her phone to take a picture of this one, because I loved it so much and wanted to put it on the blog, which Mrs B said was OK.

What the ladies were up to on the southern Illinois farms in 1934

The most outrageous thing about this quilt, is that Mrs. B’s grandmother kept it between her mattress and box spring to keep the mattress from sliding around. I am all for using quilts but this seems a bit too utilitarian. Mrs. B knew a good thing when she saw it though, and fortunately rescued this quilt and treasures it. She pointed out all of the names of the ladies who worked on it and knew stories about all of them. She also realized that this quilt was probably made when her grandmother was pregnant with her mother based on the date.

Many thanks to Mrs. B for caring for these beautiful quilts and sharing them with me. I was inspired to try more hand quilting and also to try to convince everyone I know to take up quilting so that I have a quilt with a name block from all of them.

The H Quilt, or halfway to the goal

While I was visiting my parents in Michigan, I decided to make my daughter a quilt for her birthday. “When I get home, I’ll have 5 days. Day 1, pick our fabric from my stash. Day 2, cut. Day 3, piece. Day 4, baste, Day 5, quilt and bind. I can totally do this.” Dear readers, I could not do this. Work got busy, I was baking cakes, planning a very last minute party (texts to parents inviting their kids with 6 hours notice)… It was a busy and good week, but the quilt did not get finished. We were also dog sitting Amanda’s sweet and wonderful dog, and dogs need to walk and stuff. Wallace was very respectful of the quilting process though.

“This is the most chaotic and cluttered house I have ever seen.” – Wallace, probably

I never had a dog growing up, but I do see the appeal. It was hard to get work done when Wallace was just sleeping on the chair in the other room, looking so cute and snuggly. I managed to only take one nap with him all week. It was a glorious nap.

I can’t believe I gave him back to Amanda.

The last minute party was actually a success, and thanks to YouTube videos, I pulled off this crazy unicorn cake that my daughter requested.

The cake decorating class I took in 4th grade is finally paying off.

The best part of the party was the reunion of Wallace with his family. He was so happy that they were home.

But this is not a cake blog or a dog blog. It’s a quilting blog.

I managed to make this quilt out of fabric entirely from my stash. Part of this is because while I was making the angel table runner, I had some second thoughts about the fabric that I bought. I wanted it to look more like the sky. So I ordered some different sky fabrics online, and buying online often means that you’re buying by the yard. Well, shipping takes longer than usual these days, and I was worried it wouldn’t arrive in time for the teacher’s last day. So I ordered a bunch from Joann fabrics and picked them up curbside. Also, 1 yard minimums. I ended up just going with the original fabric (which I had already cut and pieced… I think I lost my mind a little bit). Fortunately Helen is into celestial patterned blues and when she helped me pick out fabric, she was very interested in these impulse buys.

I got this idea from a quilt in Thomas Knauer’s book Modern Quilt Perspectives, which was a quilt constructed of H shapes that he made for his daughter. However, there wasn’t a pattern for this one in the book, so I had to do some quilt math and sketching on graph paper to figure out how to cut it. I also did some funky piecing of scraps to make the squares and rectangles.

I must also admit that I used a bunch of charm pack pieces that Amanda had gifted to Helen so that she could practice making her own quilt, but I am my mother’s daughter (very little patience and too much of a control freak to teach a child how to sew, sorry Mom, it’s true) and my daughter is her mother’s daughter (does not have the patience to sit still and learn to sew, even though she wants to). So that wasn’t going to happen. I’m sorry Amanda! However, Helen loved the colors, and we used almost all of them to make the blocks, along with a few other things I had in my giant tub.

Don’t look too closely, I accidentally photographed the quilt upside down.

I really like the colors that she picked, which was basically every color except green. I quilted about 1/4 inch away from each seam inside the Hs. (What is the plural of H?). It made the Hs kinda pop out nicely.

I am quite proud that I was able to figure out how to make these letters with just graph paper and some HST math. Barely fit on the back of the quilt though!

I put her name on the back with scrapped together blues for the background. It has a wool batting so it’s nice and warm, but it was heavy and kind of a pain to quilt, even with the Juki. And speaking of the Juki…

It’s not supposed to look like this.

Something went very wrong with my walking foot, which is now broken. I’m not quite sure what happened, but it made a terrible sound. I don’t know if something was loose or what. It didn’t happen until I was binding it, thank goodness, because it was helpful in getting the thick layers quilted. I’m going to call Juki this week and see what they say. I’ve read other blogs suggesting that a Janome walking foot works well with the Juki TL-2010Q, so maybe I’ll try that if I can’t fix this one.

Quilt six complete! Halfway to my goal but only 1/3 of the year left.

Does a table runner count as a quilt?

When I found out that one of my kids’ day care teachers was retiring, my first instinct was to make her a quilt. She changed both of my kids’ diapers and cared for them when they were little babies. She also became a special friend throughout all of the political turmoil of the past few years. I wish I could have made a big one but there wasn’t much time before her last day, and I was also in the middle of trying study for my anatomy class final (it’s been a weird year). I knew that she liked angels, and I found this adorable pattern for a table runner, so I decided to go with that.

I had done some appliqué previously on my son’s dinosaur quilt, and I liked the piecing and appliqué combination in this pattern.

It took me a while to figure out the ironing onto parchment paper but I got it eventually!
I ripped out the FMQ with silver thread about ten times before I was happy with this. Metallic thread is tricky!!
The last picture that I took of this wall hanging/table runner. Really need to get better at the blog photography…

I was happy with how it turned out, but because I was in such a hurry to finish it, I forgot to take a picture of the final product before gifting it. Huge quilt blogger fail!

If you’re curious, I used the blue fabric from the pieced border for the back and binding, and I did echo quilting around the angels with some FMQ wavy lines. At least that’s what I remember from what I did three months ago. I don’t think it would be good form to ask the recipient to send me a photo of the final product for the blog. Use your imagination!

One of the best parts of making this table runner/wall hanging was that I took a field trip to the south hills of Pittsburgh to Gloria Horn’s sewing studio. (I was also picking up my Kenmore after getting it serviced there. Usually my partner (also our webmaster) takes it out there for me because I really don’t like driving in the South Hills. Somehow I ended up in Mt Oliver on the way home…) The people working there are awesome, and they helped me pick out the iron-on shiny glitter stuff for the stars. I also discovered that they have an app and do live streams to show off new fabric and products, and they are really funny. Highly recommend if you’re in Pittsburgh or on the World Wide Web.

I’m blogging because I’m supposed to be straightening my house, which looks like a tornado went through it. I guess I should do that now. Does this count as quilt 5?

My secret project…revealed! Quilts 3 & 4

In my first blog post on this site, I mentioned that I was working on a secret project. I wanted to keep it secret because I figured that I’d share this blog with my mom before I finished the quilts but no. I guess I should do that. Increase our readership!

I saw the Lakeside Story Collection by Mara Penny for Moda on a fabric website and I knew I had to make a Michigan quilt for my mom. The flowers, the birds, the colors!! I just loved it and I knew my mom, born in Michigan and residing near the lake, would love it, too.

Sorry for the weird crop on these, I forgot to take pictures of the finished quilts and wasn’t sure if my parents and their neighbor hanging on the porch want to appear on the internet.

Again, I wanted a pattern that would show off the print, so I bought Amy Smart’s Lattice Quilt pattern, which was perfect. I have regrets about the white sashing… off white or snow would have matched better, but it’s not too glaring. I find matching solid colors to prints, especially when there’s a pandemic and I’m buying most fabric online, very challenging. I wish designers would just tell you exactly which whites would match. Maybe they do and I just don’t know where to find that info?

Anyway, I also came across this pixelated Michigan pattern on Etsy, and decided that it would make a great back. Or front? I guess this is a 2-sided quilt.

So many little squares!!

This looks complicated, but with the pattern it wasn’t hard at all. The only thing that was challenging was laying it all out on my living room floor and keeping my kids off of it.

very precarious

I was excited about this quilt, but I also felt a little bad because… I had already made a quilt for my mom last year. What about my dad?

This quilt doesn’t count because I made it in 2020.

Another scrappy back, along with a panel that I destroyed and shouldn’t have chopped up.

Well, good news. Lakeside Story has some Ohio panels, too. My dad is from Ohio and that’s where I grew up. I don’t think of it as a land of lakes, but it’s still in the Lakeside Story collection. So I made a matching one for him.

Another terrible crop! My very nice parents took some great pictures and I made them look weird.

For the back, I figured I’d do some Ohio star blocks. I did the quilt math myself, and my points aren’t great, don’t look too closely!

Oh hi oh

I tried to do some fancy FMQ in the Ohio blocks in a corny attempt to replicate the script Ohio marching formation that the Ohio State University band does at football games. It went ok?

Out of control FMQ

I guess I’m 33% of the way to my quilt goal according to this blog. More to come soon, hopefully in less than 4 months!

On a roll, why stop now? Quilt 2

I guess today is the day for quilt blogging, I may write 4 posts in one day after 4 months of doing nothing related to blogging.

In my last post, I mentioned the Etsy fabric buying spree at the beginning of the year… quilt 2 is one of the products of that late night online shopping madness. How cute is the AGF Nightfall collection? It has all of the motifs that I love: bunnies, moons, owls, pine trees… how could I not buy this? Did I buy more after making this quilt just to have it in my stash? I absolutely did. Do I have a problem with buying fabric? Yes, I absolutely do.

Because I loved this fabric so much, I wanted to find a pattern that wouldn’t take away from the prints too much. I decided to make a “snowball” quilt, which I guess is a quilt with little squares sewn onto the corners of bigger squares and cut so that the bigger squares look round like a snowball.

I always make snowballs that look like octagons, don’t you?

Who is this quilt for, you may ask? Me. I wish that I had made it just a little bit bigger because it doesn’t quite cover my toes when I nap with it. I used wool batting and it is so snuggly.

I used the scrap half square triangles that I trimmed from the snowballs on the back. I think I’ve got a tiny scrap quilt in my future.

I just love a scrappy pieced back!

The quilting isn’t too exciting because this quilt was all about the fabric. I probably should have marked the quilting lines instead of just winging it, because I can see some wobbles in the diagonal lines. Oh well. Learning as I go!

Progress on the 12 in 2021 – Quilt 1

Months have gone by since my most recent post where I stated my goal of making 12 quilts in 2021. I think I’m a bit behind! I’m definitely behind on blogging them…

The first quilt I completed this year was a “scrap buster” that I made while waiting to receive an insane fabric order. Etsy is a dangerous place to browse when you have no projects in mind but just want to make quilts.

This one didn’t take long, it’s just a bunch of rectangles, but it was my first attempt at FMQ! You can see that I just improvised stipples and have some pointy corners in places, but it was fun! I was going to donate it, but my kids stole it. 

This low quality screen grab came from a ridiculous video that my daughter filmed, interviewing me about the quilt.

This came together really fast with chain piecing and a super simple not-pattern. The pale yellow rectangles came from a stash clean out that Amanda did a while ago. “There’s some fabric on my porch if you’re interested” means I’m running across the street. I used those as a template and I think I finished this in 6 days! 

Not the best stippling and definitely not the best pic – I need to work on my blog photography.

Quilt 1 of 12 in the books. 

Introducing your neighborhood quilter, Rachel!

Amanda: Why are we writing this blog?

Rachel: When you asked me to collaborate with you on a quilting blog, I was so flattered and also super excited. I love to read quilting blogs (including your original blog!), and I think it would be fun to document all of the quilting that happens on this little part of our street. And maybe someone out there exploring the World Wide Web will find our blog and be entertained and/or inspired. I know that we will start out with two superfans (our moms), two obliged readers (our husbands), and two loyal supporters (my sister and your cousin); but maybe someday we will become so popular that a sewing machine company sends us a complimentary long arm quilting machine if we agree to blog about all of the creations we make using it. That’s the dream.

A: I didn’t realize we were going to say the “complimentary long arm” part out loud, but yes, that is why we started this blog. When did you start quilting and what inspired you to do so?

R: In the summer of 2019, we got bunk beds for our kids and we needed to get bedding for them. My daughter requested a unicorn theme, but I was not happy with anything that I found online. My mom quilts, and I knew that you quilted, and I had a Kenmore sewing machine that I inherited from my grandmother when she died just sitting in my basement waiting to be used, so I decided to go for it and make what I couldn’t find ready-made.

A: Tell me about the first quilt you made.

R: That first quilt was indeed a unicorn quilt! You actually helped me find the fabric by suggesting searching on Etsy. My first fat quarter bundle! I bought a bunch of fabric from the My Unicorn collection by Kelly Panacci and I made a twin size version of the fast four patch pattern by Amy Smart (mastermind behind Somehow it ended up being enormous (I kept adding rows and columns…), so it was maybe closer to a full size quilt. I pieced the back with scraps from the collection and a bit more yardage that I had to buy to supplement the bundle. This is when I realized that you don’t save money by making your own bedding. But I also realized that making quilts is really fun and relaxing, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out!

A: I forgot how gigantic your first quilt was! What are you working on now?

R: I have too many projects going on right now! But that’s how I like to roll. Dreaming up projects and shopping for fabric is probably my favorite part. I have a bunch of quilts in various stages at the moment:

  1. I finished the top for an Evergreen quilt (pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew) that I’m making for a friend who is getting married next year.
  2. I am working on some throw pillows that I’m making to match this cute springy quilt that I made a few months ago. I think I might make a little tote bag with that fabric too, because it is so cute and it makes me so happy (bunnies! Moons! Trees! Owls! All of the motifs that i love).
  3. I have the fabric to start working on this Evergrowing Mandalas quilt pattern from AGF, and
  4. I’m also working on a secret project that I will hopefully share soon.

A: Ohhhh secrets! Do you have any quilting goals for the year?

R: My 2021 resolution was to make 12 quilts in 12 months. Maybe I should amend that to “12 quilt projects in 12 months” and include the pillows and bag. I think I’m on track though.

A: 12 quilts!! That is so ambitious! What quilting skill or technique do you want to learn or improve on?

I would like to get better at free motion quilting. I’ve only really tried it once. I’d also love to learn foundation paper piecing and English paper piecing, both of which you have already mastered! It is really hard for me to wrap my head around how FPP works. I think there will be a lot of trial and error.

A: Tell me about your sewing room set up. (Sometimes I see you through your windows with the Juki at the dining room table and I am very curious about how that works.)

R: Haha! It does not work that well, but I can’t think of better options in my small house. After the kids are in bed, I wipe off the (almost always grimey and disgusting) dining room table, and then get out my Juki, cutting mat, and other accoutrements for quilting. These things are poorly hidden in the dining room (on and/or under the kids’ craft table). I have one of the living room cabinets reserved for my sewing supplies and equipment, but since the Juki comes out almost every night (and since my supply cabinet is mostly full of fabric), I keep it close to the dining room table. I use the living room floor to lay out blocks and baste, pushing the rugs and furniture out of the way. Sometimes the ironing board is up in the dining room for days (I’m looking at it right now). All of these things are ultimately in my family’s way at one time or another. But until this blog takes off and we use the profits to buy a studio like Donna Jordan’s, the first floor of my house is my sewing room. I kind of like it, I get to see all of the action while I quilt. But it is very cluttered, and there are usually threads or fabric scraps on the rug.

A: You are a super speedy quilter! What are your tips for actually finishing projects after you start them?

R: I set ridiculous deadlines for myself and try to do a little bit of quilting whenever I can in order to meet those deadlines. And sometimes I stay up until the wee hours of the morning working on my quilts. I also tend to pick projects that are a little easier and allow for chain piecing, which really speeds things up. I’m a little sloppy and not as careful as I should be, especially when I’m close to full bunny speed (i.e., the faster Juki speed). My points don’t often line up. Seams can get a little wonky. I wouldn’t recommend that other quilters do any of these things! Quilting like a maniac does result in faster quilt production, but definitely not high quality quilts. Maybe my goal for 2022 will be to go slowly and carefully and make one really good quilt. We shall see!