Featured

Flowers, Friendship and Eternity

Miltoniopsis Lennart Karl Gottling 'Hula Skirt'

Fifteen months ago, after attending a professional meeting in San Francisco, my eldest son (who lived in SF at the time) and I visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. One of the plants I saw there was a very unique and absolutely gorgeous orchid, Miltoniopsis Lennart Karl Gottling also called ‘Hula Skirt’ Orchid.

After seeing it, I search the internet for a source to purchase one, but was unsuccessful. This particular orchid was “out of stock” everywhere. One of the growers did have the ability to indicate if you would like to be notified when the orchid was in stock again. At the time, I filled out the request. But, since then, I had accepted the fact that I would be unable to obtain a plant for myself and thus totally forgot about my search.

Well, on Monday, I received an email from Orchid Web notifying me that the orchid was in stock. Needless to say, I was surprised by the notification and immediately went to their site to order one. When placing the order, I discovered that the store is located in Plymouth, Minnesota, just a few miles from a friend’s dental office. This was fortunate because I could pick the plant up in person, avoid paying shipping, and avoid potential damage to the plant during transit.

See the source image

Since I would be driving to Plymouth, I sent my friend a message to see if she would like to get together and whether I could bring her lunch when I came. She responded with an even better offer. For a holiday celebration, she was treating her staff to a catered meal from “Gardens of Salonica”, a Greek restaurant and invited me to join them at her office. This was an offer I could not pass up.

I had a nice lunch comprised of good conversation with an amazing friend and some truly great Greek food!!

Being a member of my professional study club, I had also made her a table/wall quilt over the summer, which she received a few weeks ago.

While she is several years younger than me and will likely not retire for a while, she does have her “pre-retirement” quilt. This quilt was made utilizing the Greek Key quilt pattern. I picked this pattern for several reasons. The obvious one is that she is Greek. But, more importantly, the Greek Key is a symbol for infinity or eternity. This is very fitting because she is a constant friend who is always there for me.

My photo of the front of the quilt is a bit out of focus. But, the photo of the back does highlight the quilting that was done. In particular, quilting clearly shows the continuity of the Greek Keys in the piecing and in the quilting.

These eternal rings symbolic of the eternal love and support we have as friends. And, also a symbol of the love we celebrate this time of year at the birth of our Lord.

See the source image
Featured

English Paper Piecing – best enjoyed when making small projects.

We have five members in my professional study club, and I have previously written about two of the quilts I made for these friends. Continuing with quilts for my other study club friends (who actually don’t retire for a few more years), I needed to come up with two additional designs.

The parents of one of the other friends is originally from England. So, I decided that her wall quilt would be a good opportunity to try English Paper Piecing.

EPP involves placing a paper template onto the wrong side of the fabric, folding the fabric over the paper template, tacking the fabric to the template with water soluble glue and then hand stitching the various shapes together. It’s almost like a fabric form of Tetris!

The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece by [Katja Marek]

Five years ago, while attending the Minnesota Quilt Show, I purchased a book “The New Hexagon – 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece” by Katja Marek. The beautiful blocks really caught my eye and since it was 52 blocks, I originally thought I would just try to make one each week for a year. Well, unfortunately, other projects always came up and the book sat on my shelf unopened.

Then, last year, while browsing various quilting sites on-line, I saw a posting by the same author about a Millefiore Quilt Along. This quilt along was completed a few years earlier, and the pictures were stunning.

Because the technique involves hand stitching the pieces together, I thought that a wall quilt would be a good place to start to learn the technique. This project would not be too large and intimidating, and would be easily carried in a bag to work on when I was not at home.

Since this particular friend has beautiful flower gardens at her home, I started out by doing some simple flowers. Many of my quilting friends will already know that hexagon flowers are commonly made using paper piecing.

Unbeknownst to my friend, I was stitching the flower pieces together when we were working in the same office on several occasions. I’m not sure she realized after receiving the quilt that I had been sewing the pieces together right in front of her!!

Once I had a few hexagon flowers sewn, I needed to figure out the rest of the quilt design. To personalize the quilt for my friend, I played around with creating my own paper piecing designs. She is an avid biker, so with the help of her husband, I found a photo of the type of bike she rides. Using Electric Quilts, I created the paper piecing design to make a bike for the center of the quilt.

With the bike designed, I next needed to figure out what to do for the background of the quilt. After playing around with a couple ideas, I decided to make it look like the bike was on a trail. The flowers would then be stitched into groupings on either side of the bike.

Hand sewing the pieces of the bike together was time consuming. And, the background was going to be larger pieces with straight seams. Thus, I settled for machine sewing the rest of the background around the bike and the flowers. After machine quilting, I added some hand embroidered stems for the flowers and some ribbons.

I enjoyed learning this new technique, it is much more “portable” than machine quilting.

See the source image

After this project was completed, I thought about what paper piecing project I could try next. Since the millefiori quilt idea really stuck with me. I spent some time designing my own take on a Millefiori quilt. Early November, with two weeks off of work and I started out with great intention of creating a full sized quilt using English Paper Piecing.

However, I quickly realized that I am not a fan of hand piecing quilts. The amount of time needed to cut out the paper templates, glue them to the fabric and then hand sew the pieces together was overwhelming. And, I really wondered how durable my hand stitching would be. I certainly didn’t want to spend hours and hours sewing together a quilt that would easily pull apart at the seams.

Thus after finishing one section of the quilt (the center section in my hand drawing), I decided that the rest of this quilt would be sewn by machine.

There will be many difficult seam junctions to line up when sewing this design by machine. But, I am much happier with the way the rest of the quilt is coming together (more on that in a couple weeks). And, while I enjoyed learning English Paper Piecing, I am also happy that I learned that this is not something I will use for designing larger quilts.

Featured

Quilting with Shadows

Earlier this year, I wrote about a wall quilt I made that depicted the skylines of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This quilt was made as a retirement gift for a friend who spends a lot of her time volunteering with various organizations, serving on foundations and helping her friends and family members within the Twin Cities. She truly has a heart of giving and I was hoping this quilt would show her that the people around her appreciate all that she has done.

After completing the quilt, I decided to make a few more wall quilts before giving it away. Being in a study club with five members, I realized that if I were to give her a wall quilt for retirement, the others in the group would know what to expect when they retire. Thus, four more wall quilts were completed over the summer and fall. And, while she retired at the end of 2019, I was recently able to gift this wall quilt to her.

One of the other wall quilts I created was for a friend who will be retiring at the end of 2020. When thinking about a theme for her quilt, I kept coming back to how often she posts pictures of her family, especially her children, and the great ways the all interact together.

Her family represents several heritages and she loves to travel. So, the quilt design I selected was a piecework pattern called “Trip Around the World”. This classic piecework pattern involves using uniform squares, radiating out from a center. While this pattern looks time consuming with all the squares, using strip quilting makes this pattern super easy!

The colors of the quilt were based upon colors in a fused glass plate that she purchased from me a few years ago. At the time, she said the colors matched her home.

I also wanted to depict her family in the quilt, but without detracting from the beauty of the piecing. To do this, I decided to use the quilting to show her family.

The entire quilt was first quilted with a rather simple swirl design.

After that was completed, I quilted a shadow of a family. To design the quilting of the family, I used a photo of a family of five jumping and expressing joy. Each person of the “family” were quilted with a different color of thread.

A sixth member of their family is also included in the quilting. Eighteen years ago, at just under the age of three, one of my friend’s daughters passed away from childhood cancer.

I know that she is still in the minds of her family, so I wanted to include her as well. In the shadow quilting, I stitched a girl on a swing. She is seen swinging on each side of the family, thus, creating somewhat of a circle around the rest of the family members.

This was an enjoyable quilt to make and even more enjoyable to recently gift it to my friend. I wish her a wonderful retirement!

Featured

Apple Table Runner (& Checkerboard)

With fall weather settling, a week ago, I decided to make a new table runner for my kitchen. This runner was made with apples to depict the bounty of the fall harvest. The runner turned out really nice.

After it was done, I realized that the center section could be used as a checkerboard. All I needed was some checkers.

Originally I thought about purchasing some apple shaped wooden pieces that could be painted. However, when I looked at the options available at the local craft stores, I thought I would need to do some carving of a crown on one side. This, to me, seemed like a lot of work. Then I thought about engraving a crown. This also seemed like a lot of work.

One day, while I was at work, I had a great idea – I could print checkers on my 3D printer. Using Tinkercad, I designed some apples that could be printed. I did try to make the checkers interlock so that they could be stacked for designating a King. This, however, did not turn out well. So, I went back to Tinkercad and designed an indent on one side of the checker that showed a crown. Problem solved.

Having extra fabric, I decided to make a second table runner/checkerboard. This one, I have posted on Etsy. Hopefully someone will like this item.

Featured

Small Shibori Quilt

I originally published this post on Sunday. However, for some reason the article disappeared from my blog. I know it was originally there, but someone asked about why I took it down.  When I went to check, it was gone. Luckily, I had saved a copy on my computer so I am able to repost today. 

My previous post, “The Ants (and other bugs) Come Marching In“, was also changed after I posted it.  For some reason the date of that post was changed by a couple of weeks.  So, instead of being a mid-July post, it is showing up in June.  I am not exactly sure what is happening. WordPress has changed their setup and that seems to be messing with my blog.  

For those who already read this article, I apologize for your having to receive it twice. For those who did not receive the original, please enjoy.

Pam

Free time is hard to find now that I am back to work. However, while my office was closed down in the spring, I had lots of extra time available. One of the things I did during my time off was to work on some fabric dyeing ideas.One bright sunny day, I set up some sun dyeing on my deck. I had seen this technique on a different blog (Tamarack Shack) and wanted to try it.I wanted to try larger shapes that I could then quilt around. I cut some large flowers out of cardboard, placed them on the dyed fabric and set them out in the sun for a couple hours. Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, the wind must have been a bit too strong at some point, because when I went to check on it, the cardboard had moved and distorted. The resulting dye blocked shapes were rather indistinct. I did like how the pink and purple splattered dye turned out. But the shapes were not as I had hoped. So, I’m planning to try this experiment again. Next time I will weight down my shapes with rocks or something heavy.Rather than just stashing the dyed fabric away to use whenever inspiration hit, the next day I decided to work on an idea that I had for a Shibori quilt.Last summer, I posted about a Shibori table quilt I had made. Using the same technique, I designed the stitching pattern for the shibori, the fabric painting, and the quilting. All of the running stitches were completed with polyester thread. This is a rather time consuming step that took about fifteen hours to complete.The pink flowers were then painted with dye mixed with print paste.The Green leaves were painted.The threads were gathered and tied tight.And the background was dyed blue.This project sat in my sewing room for a few weeks. Now, after a couple hours of long arm quilting and I am finally done with this project.

Home

Over the past days, the governor of Minnesota has issued numerous executive orders that have impacted my life, the latest of which is Emergency Executive Order 20-20.  This order directs Minnesotans to “Stay at Home” for the next two weeks. Since my dental office is shut down and my son returned from NYC,  I have already been staying home.

With some of my unexpected free time, I have finally finished a quilting project that I started a while ago.  The inspiration of this quilt came from my sister-in-law.  Last summer, she asked me to design a wall quilt of the Paris skyline for her to make.

ParisPattern
Brief directions to make the background of a skyline quilt.

IMG_4319

 

After I designed her quilt, I thought I would make something similar – a wall quilt of the twin cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul.  For the background of the wall quilt, I followed the instructions I had written for my sister-in law, except I used blue batik fabrics from my stash, rather than purple.

The background was loaded onto my quilting frame and quilted with evenly spaced horizontal lines.

For the skyline, I found several images on-line.  By combining ideas and removing most of the white areas,  I had a nice skyline of Minneapolis and St. Paul. 

After importing these images into my Cameo software, I cut the pattern of the skyline out of starched black cotton fabric that was sandwiched between Heat-N-Bond Lite and freezer paper.

These silhouettes were then ironed onto the background. Using several different quilting fill patterns, I then quilted detail to differentiate each of the individual buildings.IMG_4391IMG_4392

Because the Twin Cities are known for the numerous parks and parkways, I added  green fabric along the bottom edge to depict the landscaping of the cities.

IMG_4394

The wall quilt was then bound and ready to hang. 

Over the past week while looking at the wall quilt, I felt it needed something more.  Last night I augment the design with some “bling”.

Elatan'sStarmap

With the help of one of my sons, I found a Star Constellation Chart. Using 3 mm heat transfer rhinestones, I replicated the constellations that would be visible over the Twin Cities. I also added some rhinestone on a few of the towers. 

Hometown wall quilt complete!

IMG_3299

IMG_3300IMG_3301

As I went for my walk this morning, I was reminded that this may be my “hometown” for now.  And, my home may be impacted by the events of today. But I need to look past today’s news and worries about tomorrow, and take comfort in the fact that my hope is not bound to the circumstances of this world. In short – this world is not my home – my home is indeed in Heaven. 

 

 

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

As most of my friends and family know, I like to try new ideas for quilts.  Many of these are made and then given away to charities.  Last winter I learned that the charity I had been donating to changed their donation policy.  In order to donate an item, I needed to donate one for ever person living at their housing location. That meant I needed to make 24 quilts before I could donate them.  That would be a difficult task for me to accomplish.

Fortunately, last December while watching the evening news, I  saw a news article about an organization that made beds for children who do not have a bed and are usually sleeping on the floor.  When I learned I needed to find a new place to donate quilts to, this organization came to mind.

SHPSleep in Heavenly Peace (shpbeds.org) is a national organization “dedicated to building, assembling and delivering top-notch bunk beds to children and families in need”.  I went on-line to learn more about the organization.  What I learned was when the beds are delivered, the children are also given a mattress, pillow and bedding (including a comforter or quilt).

This, I thought might be a good place to make quilts for.  And, since the beds are for children, I could make all kinds of fun kids quilts! After contacting them, I started setting aside quilts to drop off.  A few days ago, I delivered the twelve quilts that I have made this year.  Hopefully there will be a dozen kids who enjoy these quilts.

Many of the quilts I have already written about in previous blog posts.  But, here are a few photos of the ones I have not already posted about.

A flannel quilt (front and back):

Another flannel quilt (front and back):

An airplane quilt:Twin

Diamonds:Blue Baby Quilt

Patriotic Bargello:Attachment-185880

If any of my friends have quilt tops that they would like to donate, I will gladly quilt them on my long-arm machine and donate them to SHP for you.  Just contact me.

Quilt from old Denim Jeans

Over the summer, we replaced the carpeting in our home.  The original carpet was over 30 years old.  And, while it had held up well, it was time for an update.

I realized, when preparing for the installers, that replacing carpeting is nearly as bad as moving to a new home.  Everything needed to removed from the floors.  This included all of the furniture in the rooms, as well as things on or near the floor in the closets. Logistically it was a bit overwhelming at times. However, now that the new carpet is installed, it is nice to have updated the look of the house.

Piles-of-jeansIn the process of moving things, my husband had a pile of jeans to donate.  Rather than taking them to Goodwill, I decided to make a denim quilt instead.  This was something I had thought about doing for the past couple of years.  And, now that I had some worn, but not holey, denim to work with I decided to give it a try.

To make the quilt, I settled on a quilt-as-you-go technique.  My concern was that quilting such a heavy project would throw the timing of my long-arm machine off. So, this technique would completely avoid using my quilting machine

To make the quilt, I cut out 9″ denim circles.  Out of each pair of jeans, I was able to cut 12 circles. Needing 154 circles, I used 13 pair of jeans. Next, I drew a 6″ square on the back of each piece of denim to help with lining up and sewing the pieces together.  

After each row of 14 circles were sewn together, I added a six inch squares of quilt batting and flannel to the back side of the denim (the side that would have been inside the pair of jeans).

This was a great way to use up a lot of scrap pieces of batting.  However, in retrospect, the quilt was really heavy and the batting was probably not necessary.

IMG_3186

 

After pinning the flannel and batting in place, I used a zig-zag stitch to sew down the raw edges of two sides of the denim.  A total of eleven rows were sewn.

IMG_3190

 

Before sewing the rows together, I used a zig-zag stitch to sew down the raw edge of one side of two separate rows.  These would become left and right side of the quilt.

IMG_3192

Next, I sewed the rows together, zig-zagging the raw edges of each circle after they were sewn.

What  I didn’t realize is how heavy the quilt would get by the time I was halfway done sewing it together!  The next denim quilt I make will definitely be done using a different method.

I will be donating this quilt to a charity (Sleep in Heavenly Peace).  It should provide a unique quilt for a young boy or girl to stay really warm this winter.

Blended Cultures

IMG_3900Of the four quilts that I entered this year in the Minnesota State Fair, I have described three of them previously.  Now that the busy summer schedule has settled down, it’s time I describe the fourth quilt I entered.

This quilt was made a the request of someone I know.  He asked if I could make a quilt for his new grandson. My response was “sure – what kind of quilt was he thinking of”.  Further conversations helped focus my design ideas.  He said he wanted the quilt to be twin sized and to incorporate the cultures of his son, who is Swedish, and his daughter-in-law, who was adopted as an infant from India.  This sounded like a fun quilt to work on.

design

First, I needed to figure out the main piecing theme of the quilt.  After sending several ideas to him, he selected a large eight pointed star pattern.  My design incorporated blue and yellow points for the Swedish half of the star and red, orange and green points for the India half of the star. At the top of the quilt, one of the blue points was adjacent to a red point to bring the two cultures together in an American section of the quilt.

IMG_3103After selecting several batik fabrics, I started piecing the quilt.  While piecing, I was drawing out ideas for the quilting.  I wanted to incorporate, with just thread, some images that reflected the heritage of the child.  By using thread and not applique, the main design of the quilt would not overwhelmed by too much going on with the fabric. For inspiration, I sought some advise from several friends who are from India and Sweden.

For the Swedish heritage, I stitched out a moose, a fox and some rosemaling. For the India heritage, I stitched out an elephant, a peacock and some paisley patterns. For the American heritage, an eagle was stitched. Each of these designs were stitched out in the background sections between each point of the star with a thread color slightly darker than the fabric. In the other three sections, I put the child’s birth month, date and year.  The designs were surrounded by a diagonal hatch fill in the same color as the fabric to help the images show better.

 

Around the star, several circles was sewn.  Between the lines of the outer circles, I thought it would be nice to include the child’s name – so that was sewn in the bottom section of the circles.  To fill the rest of the circle, I once again consulted my friends.  I thought perhaps there would be a phase that was specific to each culture that I could stitch out.  I asked my friends if they could give me a list of three phrases that might be said of or to a young child, or more specifically a young boy.  When I compared the lists, I was surprised to find one of the phrases was on both the Swedish list and the India list.  That phrase “May you live long, my son” was included in  the quilting.  The phrase, in English, was stitched at the top of the circles on the quilt.  Then, on the Swedish side of the quilt, it was stitched in Swedish.  And, on the India side of the quilt, it was stitched in Hindi. To fill in the space between the name and phrases, paisley patterns were stitched.

IMG_3208IMG_3207IMG_3206

The rest of the background was filled with some stitching to replicate Scandinavian rosemaling. This was then highlighted with some straight hatch fill.

I had not intended to enter this quilt in the fair.  However, while working on it, the design was coming together so nicely that I asked permission to enter it. My quilt entry was named “Blended Cultures – Swedish and Hindi heritage in an American Boy” and was enter in the Commemorative Quilt Category.  The blue ribbon the quilt was given was a nice surprise for a “last minute” entry.  This was such a last minute entry that I forgot to take some close up pictures of the finished quilt before dropping it off at the fair.  And, the day I picked it up from the fair, I had promised to deliver it to the family that it was made for.  So, some of my photos were taken rather poorly while in my car.  But, alas it’s still a really fun quilt and I am glad I had a chance to make it.

IMG_3898