Friday, July 31, 2015

Fit for a Princess

 My stories end up being my quilts (and vice versa). This one is no different. I made this quilt for someone that loves following Kate Middleton, so it started out being kind of an inside joke. I grabbed handfuls of scraps and fat quarters in blue, pink and low volume and packed it out to my mom's house so I could work on it while we were visiting. Once we were there and I started cutting, I realized that I hadn't brought enough low volume fabrics with me. On our way to a swimming pool one afternoon, I ran into a local quilt shop and grabbed some fat quarters. One of them was a print that looked like vintage feed labels from Sweetwater Fabrics.

 I had half the quilt pieced when I noticed what had happened. I gasped. I groaned. Then I laughed and laughed and laughed. I heard my brother yell, "What's so funny?" from the couch, so I brought the quilt out and waited for him to notice it. When he did, he laughed and laughed and laughed.

I checked the uncut fabric and found the label advertising MOLASSES and knew I'd found the culprit. I contemplated ripping the square out, but I decided not to. I also didn't mention it to the prospective parents when I mailed it yesterday. I figured the quilt would be two gifts for them. The first would be when they opened the shipping package, but the second would be someday when they were holding the new baby on the couch, fall-down exhausted with sandpaper eyes and one of them said....

"Wait a minute...." (peering closer)

"Does that say....?"

Yes. Yes it does. And when they look at each other and laugh, that quilt will become a story for them and I will be satisfied. That is why I didn't rip it out.

Here's another gem. CLOVERSEED turned into...

I went back to the store and bought yardage of that fabric. After all, serendipity happens to the prepared quilter!

The quilt finished at 44" x 54." It is based on a sketch I made of the Union Jack on some graph paper. The whole thing is constructed from squares and half square triangles. It ended up being a massive amount of seams, but I divided the piecing into quadrants and did a single line at a time assembly-line style. That way I could make sure I was pressing the seams in opposite directions so they'd nest when I joined the rows. I used up a massive amount of scraps.

The block in the pieced backing is called Hearth and Home. I figured that would be fitting for a baby quilt.

 I quilted this in a stipple pattern using Aurifil thread. I used a pale pink, dusty blue and off-white.

All the jokes aside, I really do hope they find this quilt is fit for their little princess!

Back in May I was nominated for a One Lovely Blog Award from Kaja at Sew Slowly. I am sorry that it's taken me so long to pass it along on my blog! I really appreciate the nomination.

I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself and pass along a nomination for other blogs. Here goes.

1. I despise liverwurst. My husband loves it and I will buy it for him, but if he puts any of that stuff on a sandwich I need at least a six foot buffer zone. Gross.
2. I am six feet tall.
3.  I grew up in Idaho/Utah, but I usually just say Idaho because it's a complicated story and that's where my mom lives. I live in Iowa now.
4. I love spicy food. I put crunchy jalapeno bits on my salad, salsa on my eggs and when I'm in denial about sugar I love to eat chocolate covered cinnamon bears.
5. 3 kids, 2 cats, 1 husband.
6. Pretty much every piece of jewelry I wear has a piece of turquoise on it. I especially love turquoise and pearls together.
7. My kids love to sing and one of my favorite things to do is listen to them murder lyrics. My younger son came home from preschool this year singing, "Oh Who-Sana, oh don't you cry for me! Well I come from Ala-banjo with a [something, something, trail off.....] knee.

I nominate:
Kelly at Pinkadot Quilts
Sarah at Smiles Too Loudly
Kate at Thread Everywhere

And if we're talking about recommendations for great resources, I would check out this page from Michele Bilyeu at With Heart and Hands.  It is an index of liberated/improv piecing tutorials and ideas. I dare you to take a look and not be inspired to try something new.

Linking up to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Friday, July 24, 2015


I decided to join the "Our Neighborhood" challenge, hosted by Angela from The Green Apricot, on a whim.  The gist of the challenge was to make blocks (smaller than 8.5") that represented your neighborhood. Send them to Angela and she'd send you back the same amount of blocks made by others. Turn your blocks into something and post pictures. Easy, right?

Reading about the challenge immediately made me start considering different things, so I joined. I love the challenge of thinking in new directions and doing things I might not do if I were left to my own devices. I sent 2 cardinals, 1 oriole and 2 ears of corn. I received 3 houses, a dog, a cat and a bonus tree. I added a lot more of my own blocks and turned it into an ode to my Iowa neighborhood.

I am not a native Iowan, so there are many things about my new home that surprise and delight me.

 You can't go for a drive in the Iowa countryside without seeing many barns. What I dearly love are the quilts that adorn a lot of the barns. When I was planning out the quilt, I searched for pictures of barn quilts and found one with a Churn Dash that I really liked. The block in the center is an improvisational copy of my favorite. Above the Churn Dash block is an improv interpretation of a traditional block named Tulip Ladyfingers. I included this in honor of Pella, a Dutch town famous for their tulip festival. Beside that is my version of a daylily patch. Daylilies naturalize like crazy here and you see them growing in many ditch banks alongside the road.

 My mother enjoys growing flowers, and one that I remember her planting in front of a wagon wheel (at our house in Idaho) was a clematis. We babied it and it did grow, but kind of gave up around hip height. The clematis in Iowa explode with flowers. People plant them underneath their mailboxes and sometimes you can't even see the box! My favorite ones are purple varieties, but I felt that red worked better on the quilt so I took a little artistic license. Also included in this photo are two of the blocks that were sent to me. The Carolyn Friedlander house on the bottom and the house with the peekaboo window.

 I used log cabins to reference home and pineapples to reference hospitality. Iowa is a friendly place! The little kitty in this picture was one of the blocks I was sent. The corn isn't just a joke, either. I can see a couple of different cornfields from our neighborhood.

 While I was piecing this quilt, I listened to some quilting podcasts. I enjoy hearing thoughts about quilting from a variety of voices. I think it's fascinating to hear why others quilt and the purpose it serves. I had to laugh when the discussion on one podcast turned to expressive, statement (often political) quilts and I looked down at the tractor I was piecing. Despite its whimsical feel, this is an expressive quilt for me and reflects my perception of my surroundings. Even the tractor!

There are also personal details. These are my children. I also included some of my favorite Iowa birds. Some of you *may* have picked up that I have a thing for cardinals. I don't think I will ever be able to ignore a cardinal song no matter how long I live here. I don't see too many orioles, but we discovered a place they seem to congregate on one of our nightly walking routes. The Carolyn Friedlander 'Grove' tree was a bee block.

I couldn't have a neighborhood quilt without including our house! Our house is not actually blue (more artistic license), but it is a 2-story. When we built our house, my husband and I had a hard time deciding what color siding to use. We had it narrowed down to an olive brown and a dusty blue. After a lot of considering, we ended up choosing olive brown. When construction began on the house across the street from us, we mentioned to the contractor (our neighbor) that the neighborhood sure could use a dose of dusty blue....and they did it!!! I love that the house I received from the swap (the one with curtains) matched the color of our house so closely! I also included the trees we've planted, including the two mismatched pines in our front yard.

I do love a good joke, so I put the Grant Wood American Gothic house on the Iowa quilt. I free pieced the cathedral window and used needle turn applique to attach it to the house. I put some snarky caption on a picture of the block when I uploaded it to Instagram with #bringyourownpitchforks. I think people thought it was a church. #ohdear #thejokewasonme

Also pictured is a puppy bee block and another Tulip Ladyfingers.

I almost never buy wide quilt backs, but I was totally going to for this. I cut the timing really, really close. The finished quilt was due on Friday and I hadn't even finished piecing the top when I went to the quilt store on Tuesday. I was tired from too many late night/early morning combinations. To be honest? I was done with piecing. (#theheresy!) Then I saw the Happy Home line from Art Gallery Fabrics and happily pieced a back to include my two favorite prints.

I quilted this using Aurifil #2600 (Dove) and the scallop stitch (112 on a Janome). This is my new favorite texture.

One of my favorite quotes is, "In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." --Gordon B. Hinckley

Life is good here in Iowa.

Linking up to Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Cancer Sucks

I got the call on June 30th. "She found a lump," he said. "It's cancer."

I didn't know what to say then. I definitely don't know what to say now.

So I made a quilt.

It's a gift. It's a hug. It's a plea.

Cancer sucks.

This quilt finishes at 56" x 68." I constructed it all with improvisational piecing based on a sketch I made. Special thanks to Lynne Tyler at Patchery Menagerie for her tutorial on the letter 'K.'

I quilted this with stitch number #112 on my Janome (a scallop) using Aurifil #2783 and #2606. I quilted the whole quilt in one direction, then subdivided my lines going in the opposite direction. I love how it looks like a chunky, beaded necklace. The texture was worth the extra work.

Linking up to Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts and Let's Bee Sewcial at Sew Fresh Quilts.