Category Archives: Quilting

Warm and Woolly

I just finished making this quilt for a friend who has been under the weather:

What you can’t see from this photo is that the batting is made from alpaca wool, a beautifully light and warm material that sticks to absolutely everything and now covers every surface in my sewing room. I guess it’s a divine message that I need to vacuum more often.

This is the second quilt I’ve made from Judy Sisneros’ book, Nine-Patch Pizzazz. The next one I make will have pieced patches all the way to the binding. I’ve seen some quilters build nine-patches into the borders, but my measuring talents aren’t up to the precision required to do that.

Seeing Red

Here’s the quilt I just finished making for my aunt, who is in the hospital. She told me her favorite colors are red, black, and autumn colors. I hope I got the colors right for her:

I made this quilt in sections, quilted each section, and assembled the quilted sections at the end. It makes the quilt a little lumpy along the joins between sections, but it’s certainly easier to handle the sections than a whole bulky quilt all at once.

The Simple Life

Here’s the laundry line at a Pennsylvania Amish farm I visited with my stepmother this week.  The woman of the house, in addition to having seven children and running a farmhouse, operates a quilting business and had dozens of (all hand-quilted!) quilts piled on beds and ready to sell.  They were made by her, her sister, her friends, and her relatives.

This little postage stamp quilt was one of the few she had that resembled a traditional Amish quilt, with its dark solids and simple design. Most of what the ladies make is aimed at outsiders like my stepmother and me, and they are buying printed quilting fabrics from regular quilt stores because that’s what their market likes.

The quilt lady’s mother made this one, which she called Japanese puzzle.

We don’t have much of an autumn in northern California, so it brought back memories of my midwestern childhood to see the leaves drifting down from the trees and the bright colors of the eastern woods.

Get-Well Card

I made this little quilt for my aunt who is in the hospital with leukemia. The quilt pattern is from a book called “Quilts from Larkspur Farm.”  I’ve made the same quilt or variations of it several times. But what I like best is the words, paraphrased from Albert Camus.  This is the first time I’ve added words to a quilt.

Christmas (letter) in July

It’s true, I admit it.  I’ve been dragging my feet a little on our annual Christmas letter.  To be more precise, I’ve been dragging them since November of 2008.

My husband always starts his annual Christmas letter harassment planning campaign right about when I’m arriving home from the grocery store with 20 bags of food for Thanksgiving dinner. I always say in my most least grouchy voice that I can’t possibly think about the Christmas letter until after Thanksgiving.  My husband fires a volley over my bow by gathering some clever cartoons and quotes for our annual page of witty stuff thought of by other people, writes a paragraph or two about his staggeringly productive and useful year (this is not an exaggeration — he is terrifyingly productive), and emails it to me on Friday after Thanksgiving with a reminder that I have solemnly promised to have the whole thing out the door before the New Year.

Next thing I know, it’s Valentine’s day, which makes calling it a “Christmas” letter a lot more difficult. Usually I pull myself together and get the letter done before Easter, but this year one thing led to another, and now it’s suddenly the middle of July.  At this point the whole thing is looking just a little ridiculous. Last year is already fading into the mists of my bad memory. But I did promise to do it, and while I’m often slow, I don’t like to rat out on a promise completely.

So here I am, ready to write.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

My Nine-Patch Pizzazz Quilt

I made this as an eighth-grade graduation present for Sunny’s teacher, who has been her main teacher ever since first grade.  The pattern comes from Judy Sisneros’ book, 9-Patch Pizzazz.  I’m not exactly what you would call a precision quilter (more of an imprecision quilter, actually), but I was able to do a reasonable job combining nine-patch blocks with rectangles and squares of three Japanese focus fabrics. Here’s a detail:

Why My House is a Mess, Part 2 of 10,000

Kind of knocks your eye out, doesn’t it?  This is a nine-patch quilt pieced by the kids in Sunny’s handwork class at school. My job was to find a way to quilt it that would maximize its virtues and minimize the technical unevenness caused by being sewn by so many different hands.

I chose a large stipple (this choice made easier by the fact that a stipple is the only machine quilting design I can really do.) The advantage of a stipple in a situation like this is that you can veer off in any direction and tack down a seam that seems to need a little extra stabilizing. Also, your own mistakes aren’t terribly visible. I used a lightweight polarfleece as a backing.  To my surprise, the quilting came out really well, with no puckers on the back.

The quilt will be given to a Navajo family that Sunny’s class will visit on their class trip in a couple of weeks. I hope they like bright colors!


The Princess and the Pea

Instead of doing taxes this weekend, I made something really important: a quilt for the Princess and the Pea. My friend Rachel made this doll and her costume for a school fundraiser, and her husband Gary made the bed. Aren’t they perfect?

My contribution was the little Chinese Coins quilt on top of all the mattresses, which I embellished with lace, some of my sewing machine’s fancy stitches, and my very first yo-yos. I discovered that yo-yos are very easy to make with a special yo-yo gadget from Clover.

Q. How Many Times…

Can you drop an iron on a concrete floor before it finally stops working?

A.  At least six.

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