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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Dyed Fabric Strip Quilt

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One of my original posts on this blog was about fabric dyeing (Sept 22, 2015).   At that time, I mentioned that I had watched a Craftsy class about dyeing fabric.  Before jumping in and buying numerous colors of dye and supplies, I decided to try a sample kit.
The purchased a gradation dyeing kit which was a smart decision.  This kit gave me the opportunity to try my hand at mixing dyes to get different colors, as well as working with low volumes and how to best handle the fabrics.
The first color kit I purchased was “STONES & SHELLS”. Stones&Shells
Colors included were: Camel 5181, Old Rose 5220 & Stormy Grey 6160
Following the directions, I created thirty fat eights in a gradation of earth tones.  While the samples were fun to make, I had no idea what to use them for.  So,  these pieces of fabric have been sitting on my shelf waiting for some inspiration.  Earlier this year when I was doing some strip quilting, I decided that a strip quilt might be a good use of these fabric as well.
To add some pops of color, I dyed three fat quarters of cotton fabric using a variety of techniques – marbling, sun dyeing and batch dyeing.  For the sides and the backing, I dyed a three yard piece of 108″ wide cotton with a evergreen dye.
The gradation fabrics were cut into 2.5″ x 20″ strips.  These were then sorted by color and then   The green pops of color were cut into 2 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ pieces.  The strips were then sewn together with dark green on each side.  After sorting the gradation fabrics, I split them into three groups and pieced starting with the first color of each group.  This allowed for the fabrics to be distinct rather than blending from one gradient to the next.
The quilt top was then put together using my long-arm machine just like a did with the black strip quilt earlier this year (May 8, 2019).
Another fun quilt to donate.  And, more fabric used from my stash!

Strip Quilt

IMG_2981Like most quilter, I have lots of fabric in my craft room.  But, unlike other quilters, I try to keep the amount as low as possible.  I no longer purchase fabric “just because see it and like it”. I have to have a specific project that I plan to use it in before I will purchase any fabric.  Over the past few years, I have also received fabric from my sister, my mother and some of my friends.  So, I really do not need to add to my stash.

When I am designing a quilt, I try to plan around fabrics that I already have.  If I do need to purchase fabric, I calculate the amount of fabric yardage I need to be a careful not to purchase more than necessary.  Sometimes this has been to my frustration, especially if I decide to change the design and find that I am needing more fabric to make the changes.  But, usually this works well and keeps me from having too many scraps left over.  I have even created an Excel spreadsheet that helps me calculate the yardage quickly.  If you are interested, email me and I can send you the file.

Every once in a while, the quilt design I am working on is too abstract or too intricate to be able to calculate yardage exactly.  This was the case when planning the “Moonscape” quilt for my son.  I did not plan out the quilt in enough detail prior to sewing to be able to calculate how much fabric I needed.  Using grey fabrics and black fabrics I already had, I added other shades to create the gradation I was seeking.  Not knowing how much fabric I would need, I purchased a half yard of each shade.  After I had pieced his quilt, I had a lot of excess fabric.

What to do? Make a scrap quilt?  Stick it back on the shelf for another day?

Make a strip quilt?  Now, this was an idea I liked.  I have been wanting to try piecing with strips on my longarm machine for a while now.  So, this seemed like the best idea for a quilt to try this out on.

I loaded the backing onto the frame and pinned the batting in place.  After basting the first strip in place, I cut and pieced 2″ x 72″ strips in the gradiant order of the fabric shades.  To sew, I carefully measured and marked the placement of the begin and end point of the seam that I was planning to sew. Then, I used the multipoint placement, border only sewing to sew the next strip to the the first strip.  The new strip sewn was flipped and ironed lightly in place before going to the next strip (my cordless iron was really helpful for this step).

A pop of color was incorporated with scraps of yellow, orange, red and purple.

I successfully used up my shades of grey and black and have another nice quilt to donate.

Fractured Tree

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“Fractured Tree” wall hanging.

I enjoy reading historical fiction books. When reading, I like to look up information about the events happening at the specific time in history.  This helps me understand the book’s story line better.

I enjoy these books even more when there is a reference to the art of the era.  Having recently I read the latest book by Jennifer Chiaverini, I did some additional reading about the history of quilting.

One of the sources talked about Depression Era quilts.  Many of these quilts were string quilts made of small fabric scraps stitched together to make a piece of fabric large enough to cut a pattern piece. These larger pieces were stitched together to make a quilt block. The quilt blocks were put together to make a quilt top. This method was used during hard times when money and fabric were scarce.  Scraps of all sizes were utilized.

 

Over the past decade, this method has also made a resurgence within the art quilt community.

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There were several pictures of a string quilts that have caught my attention.

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One of the quilters that I really liked was Ursula Kern.  Her string quilts are breathtaking.  The illusion of movement and shape that she creates is absolutely amazing.

 

 

 

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I decided that I wanted to try to make a string quilt wall hanging for my sewing room.  With wall space limited, the only spot I had left to hang something was adjacent to my four seasons landscape quilt.  So, in keeping the the landscape theme, I thought a tree might fit the area well.

 

Looking at tree clipart images, I selected one, traced it out on pellon, and then divided the pellon into a 7×11 grid. Each section of the grid (2″ x 3.75″)  was used as one block of the string quilting.

Since I have a lot a scraps from various other quilts, and not wanting to purchase more fabric right now, I pulled out my scraps, sorted them by color and started creating each of the blocks.

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Pieced, but not quilted.

 

The seventy seven blocks were sewn together (with numerous changes to match my design better). The illusion is somewhat like a stained glass window – I really like it!

For the quilting, I used one layer of Quilter’s Dream Cotton batting.  To create texture for the tree and shrubs, I placed pieces of Quilter’s Dream Wool batting in these areas between the cotton batting and the pieced top.  The background sky was quilted with straight lines and the tree was loosely quilted to allow the depth of the batting to show.

 

More Donation Quilts

Having received a large quantity of fabric from my sister, I needed to make room for storing this.  Sorting through my current stash of fabric, I found a container of dyed fabrics that I had made when trying different dyeing techniques.

These swatches were each 5″ x 5″.  Many of my original dyeing samples were used in previous projects,  such as described in “Fabric Dyeing” and “Spring has Sprung“.

The ones left were a bit dull in color. No longer needing these, I decided to make another of the many quilts in my “Future Projects” folder on my computer.  To brighten them up, I combined them with white fabric and use variegated thread for the quilting.  It’s amazing how the white makes even drab fabrics look cheery.

This was a simple pattern that combined these 250 different swatches in long rows separated by white sashing, turned on point and set in asymmetrically.  I really like how it turned out. IMG_2732

Burst – Quilting closeups

A friend recently pointed out that I had not posted pictures of the quilting of my Burst quilt, as I had originally said I would do.

So, here are a few close-ups.

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Small corner Burst
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Small middle Burst
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Large Burst

And, the full quilt hanging on my wall.

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I especially like how the doll quilt turned out.  Kinda wish I had made the bed quilt the same design! Maybe, some day, I will make this quilt again (perhaps with a black background?)

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The Minnesota Great Get-Together

img_2410.jpgThe Minnesota State Fair is currently taking place.  If you are not from MN, you may not realize how big our state fair is.  While MN only ranks 12th in size and 21st in population, it ranks second in state fair attendance, with over 2 million people attending each year.  This is just behind Texas at 2.25 million visitors.  However, Texas is second in land mass, second in population, and their state fair runs for 24 days (twice the length of the MN fair).  Thus, I would say that the Minnesota State Fair outranks even Texas.

The fair is so popular that, even on a rainy morning like today, there were lots of people in attendance.  What do people like to do at the fair?  When I asked some of my friends, they replied: eat the food, attend a concert, eat the food, see the animals, eat the food….

I think you get the picture – there is lots of food to eat if that is what you are interested in.

For me, the State Fair is a place to go to see the craftsmanship and creativity in the Arts and Crafts Building. Today was no exception.  After getting very wet walking from the transit center to the A&C building, I spent a couple hours walking around taking pictures.

Here are my quilts:

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Me (with my wet hair) in front of “Burst Doll Quilt”, which received a first place in the child quilt category.
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“Burst” bed quilt received a second place in the pieced bed quilt category.
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My reversible tree quilt “Childhood Memories” received a second place in the mixed techniques category.  Unfortunately, you can only see one side of the quilt and none of the shadow painting.  
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“Window on My World” placed fourth in the wall quilt category.  I re-entered it this year because I was surprised that it did not place last year and knew that there was a different judge this year. 

Some of the other quilting highlights:

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Sweepstakes winner – Mary Alsop

 

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Best Hand Applique – Terri White
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Best Machine Quilting – Marilla Schmitt
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Knit & Bolt Award – Susan Nevling

 

Some other crafts that caught my eye:

 

“Childhood Memories” – finished quilt

 

When designing a quilt, I like to plan the quilting at the same time as the piecing.  This allows me to think about adding something unique to each quilt.  My recent project for the two sided tree quilt was no exception.

The quilting of the tree, leaves and background would be fairly straightforward.  Wanting to add something special to the quilt, I thought about what I could add to the tree.  One idea was to place flowers or shrubs at the base of the tree.  Another was to add some animals.

My final idea, and the one I actually used, came while reviewing some photos from my childhood.  These photos brought back memories of things growing up.  I decided to add theses memories to the quilt.

I needed to invoke the idea of a memory without overwhelming the quilt.  To do that, I planned to used only thread to make the images appear very faint.  After stitching, I realized  that the images were there but extremely hard to see.  Having recently purchase some textile medium (InFusion Textile Medium) that was very lightweight (did not stiffen the fabric) and shiny, I decided to use this to enhance the visual effect of the memories.

I am really happy how they turned out.  If you look closely at the images, you will see a boy leaning against the tree reading a book, a girl on a tree swing, and their faithful dog laying on the ground near them.

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Here are the full images of the quilt front and back:

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Hand applique and embroidery

How do you applique a two sided quilt?

You think, think, plan, think some more, plan again and then finally jump in and do it.  That kinda describes the process I went through when contemplating the idea of embroidering an identical tree on both sides of a quilt.

Idea #1

  •  adhere light weight fabric adhesive to the back of two pieces of fabric for the tree trunks
  • draw the tree trunk onto the fabric and cut out two identical trees
  • adhere the tree to one side of the quilt and baste in place
  • adhere the tree on other side and then machine embroidery through all layers of the quilt and tree
  • machine quilt the details onto the tree
  • Concern – machine quilting will cause the quilt to be “flattened” and lining up the edges of the tree on each both sides of the quilt would be difficult

Idea #2

  • baste stitch the outline of the tree onto the quilt
  • cut out fabric to match the tree
  • use needle turn embroidery to stitch the tree onto each side of the quilt
  • machine quilt  the details onto the tree
  • Concern – it might be difficult to control the amount of fabric involved while doing hand embroidery

Idea #3

  • pin large pieces of the tree fabric to both sides of the quilt
  • machine quilt the tree details onto the tree
  • trim the fabric approximately 5/8″ – 3/4″ away from quilting details
  • use needle turn embroidery to stitch the fabric to the quilt
  • This was ultimately the idea I decided to use for the trees, sun and moon

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Daytime detail:

I decided to hand applique leaves onto the daytime side of the quilt.  To do this, I pinned pieces of green fabric onto the quilted tree.  Then I machine quilted the outline and veins of a leaf onto each piece of fabric.  After cutting around each stitched leaf, I used needle turn embroidery to secure the edges of the fabric.

Nighttime detail:

I did not want to use the same technique on the nighttime side of the quilt. So, after completing the daytime side, I used the quilting lines as a guide to paint faint green fabric dye onto the leaves and then hand embroidered outlines around the leaves.

DayNightLeaves

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Unfortunately while quilting the leaves onto the daytime side, my long arm machine handles fell off the machine while I was working on a leaf.  When this happened, the needle broke and the broken needle tore the fabric through all layers of the quilt.  This picture shows that even on the backside of the quilt, the broken needle tore the fabric. I was really bummed!

To fix the tear, I could applique a leaf onto the daytime side.  But, how do I fix the tear on the nighttime side.  I could applique leaves on this side as well.  However, that was more applique then I really wanted to do.  And, I had really wanted the two sides of the quilt to use different techniques.  This was really frustrating.

Ultimately, I decided to add a bit more detail to the quilt.  By appliqueing an owl on the nighttime side and a cardinal to the daytime side, I was able to repair the quilt and no one can even tell that the quilt was torn.

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A good repair and some nice details for the quilt! I have added more details to the quilt that were really fun to do.  I will post about those soon.