Charm Quilt I – Finished

Just done. Label and all. I’m pleased with how the quilt turned out. I like the contrast between the two muted background fabrics and the individual swatches – each is strong and colourful, yet they blend well.

I wasn’t sure about the bold batik I used for the back – whether it complemented the insertion or not, but now that the quilt is completed I’m happy with the result.

This quilt I think has found a home in my living room- it fits in better than the quilt I had there.

“Charm” Quilts

One of the things I wanted the ladies in the quilting class to learn was how to look at pictures of quilts and deconstruct them. So I hunted for quilts I thought would be relatively easy to analyze. Among the photos I sent them was a charm quilt. “Charms” if you don’t know are precut pieces of fabric 5″ square. I had several charm packs (a charm pack is 40 of these 5″ pieces) in my stash and thought I should give the quilt a try. The original photo sashed and bordered the charms in alternating darker and lighter grey. I took my charms to the fabric store to see what would work with the charms I’d selected. Dark and light grey for the sashing was going to make those small coloured blocks pop. So I cut the strips I needed and quickly assembled the quilt top. What I particularly like are the vertical strips from one row to the next linking the rows.


I made a few more bordered blocks, cut half of them in half to assemble a strip for the backing.

The quilt sandwich is pinned and ready to be quilted.

However I still had a large number of charms not used in this quilt so I thought I’d have a go at another quilt idea based on two blocks: half-square triangles and strips. The quilt I had in mind would need 140 4 1/2″ blocks. So I made 70 half-square triangles and 70 blocks with 1/2″ strips down the middle.


Here are the blocks laid out on my office floor. I’m still auditioning them – trying to find what for me is the most pleasing arrangement. That’ll take a day or two of coming back to look at the layout and tweeking it a bit more. Once sewn together, I intend to border the quilt with the darker grey fabric I used in the first quilt, backing and binding – I don’t know yet.

Charm Quilt

One of the things I’ve been teaching in the quilting class is how to deconstruct a quilt design. To this end I’ve shared images of quilts with the gals and helped them break down their construction.

One of the quilts I shared was a photo of a quilt made from “charms” (5″ blocks) bordered in two neutral shades. I’ve had 4 charm packs in my stash for some time and I thought this would be a good way to use them. 

I selected the most interesting blocks from 3 of the charm packs (the rest I put into a scrap pile and a use later pile). I auditioned the chosen blocks, sorted them into rows, then bordered half with the darker fabric, the remaining I bordered with the lighter.

What caught my attention with this quilt was the contrasting sashing linking the blocks vertically.

I used some leftover charms for the back keeping the motif intact in the inserted stripe. I thought about backing the quilt with the darker border fabric, but I happened across this batik and thought it would bring a bit of life to the quilt.

I think I will bind the quilt with the darker grey. I still have to think about the quilting motif and whether to include the block borders in the embroidery or not.

Jellyroll Quilt – Finished

I actually finished the quilt before I went to Toronto to visit my sister’s kids and grand-kids 10 days ago. I was happy with the border and how the mitre worked so well; with the splashes of colour; with the quilting design and how well it filled the block…. I was pleased with the second side and how it used the leftover bits and I had enough border fabric leftover to add a stripe to the back.

The only thing I might have done differently was to use a lighter thread for the border. I chose a dark variegated thread to blend into the border but I could have used a little contrast.

The quilting shows best on the second side:

The class meets again tomorrow – our focus will be on embroidering in the hoop – how to hoop, how to center the block, how to precise position the design, how to embed thread ends within the quilt. And we’ll discuss various ways of binding a quilt.

I will try arranging another get together in a month to show off the finished quilts. 

Jellyroll Quilt Class I

imageThe class came about when I showed Bonnie this jellyroll quilt made from a jellyroll I’d “won” one evening at an event at her shop Sew With Vision. “Good idea for a class she said.” I agreed to do it.

However I had no interest in taking another jellyroll and repeating the quilt for the class so the challenge I set for myself was to create a strip quilt with just two fabrics. I picked out two contrasting fabrics and got to work.


I joined pairs of strips – one light, one dark. Cut triangles (8 from each pair of strips), joined pairs of triangles to make 6″ blocks, trimmed them, assembled large blocks from four small blocks alternating colours at the center of the big block.

I’d made five large blocks when I thought I needed a bit of colour to make the quilt work.


I inserted a colored center into 3 blocks and stopped there. I finished the remaining blocks today and laid them out on the floor:


Not enough colour. So I added a bit more

imageThat’s it. I was going to add sashing but I think any sashing will disrupt the improvisation so I think I will leave well enough alone although I will probably lay out a couple of sashing strips to see how they look.

I’m stopping for now.


Diagonal Diamonds Quilt


Quilt Top

Finally finished. I started this quilt about ten days before heading to Peru – got 20 blocks sewn before I departed. I resumed sewing the top when I got back. The fabric is Cockatiel Bali Pops by Hoffman Fabrics which I’d got as a “gift” the night I attended an event at Sew With Vision (the local Pfaff / Husqvarna dealer) in September. Although on the surface the construction technique seems simple enough all of the blocks edges are on the bias so it takes a lot of attention to match the seams when joining blocks.

Because these are not colours I’d usually use I wasn’t sure what to do about borders and backing. In the end I chose to highlight the peach tones and the dark grey on the top, and bring out the lighter greys on the back. The inserted strip is constructed from the small pieces of leftovers – fortunately there was enough to create the strip length I needed.


Quilt Back

Final dimensions: 50″ X 60″

Stacks / Galaxy Quilt


The idea for this quilt came from a pinterest photo a friend sent me a while back. I liked the idea of just creating blocks from strips of variable length with a background fabric. I had a jellyroll of blue batiks and lots of scraps in blues/greens. I’m guessing the pinterest original likely used 2 1/2″ strips but that would yield blocks too large for me to embroider in the hoop, so I reduced the strip width to 2″ (which meant cutting 1/2″ from the jellyroll strips) and created 9 1/2″ blocks of six strips each.

It took a while to assemble the blocks then I laid them out. I knew from the outset I’d place the strips horizontally in blocks assembled as columns (7 blocks x 5 columns = 35 blocks). I auditioned the blocks on my office carpeted floor and decided to reverse direction of two blocks which meant a narrow (1/2″) background strip to set them off from those in the adjacent column. And narrow borders so the binding would be separated from the batiks.


Once the top was done, I used leftover strips to set up an 8 1/2″ wide strip the length of the quilt, inserted it into the backing fabric (so I’d have enough width for the quilt). I pinned the quilt together, stitched in the ditch (blocks that were 4 strips wide so I’d be able to quilt them in the hoop).

To quilt the whole thing, I adapted a long-arm quilting design and embroidered it in each section. Once done I added the binding (a 1/2 yd of Michael Miller fabric I bought at Britex in San Francisco for this purpose).

The embroidery design in this instance had tie-ons and tie-offs which I left (usually I remove them and draw the threads into the quilt when each block is finished). That left me on the reverse of the quilt with obvious small white clumps of thread at each tie-on/tie-off! So I did what I’ve done before – took a permanent marker in a colour that blended with the backing fabric and coloured the knots. Worked like a charm – the knots became invisible – until I turned the quilt over and discovered small grey-blue dots all over the front of the quilt!

PERMANENT marker, remember! I tried a bunch of different solvents on scraps of white fabric – bleach, soap, bleach & soap, nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol. The only solvent I didn’t try was hair spray only because I had none in the house. It was obvious that ink was there to stay.

So how was I going to salvage the quilt? I woke up this morning with an idea – smallish circles in yellow/orange hues appliquéd over each ink mark. I had some Heat ‘n Bond Easy Print Transfer Sheets so I opened Photoshop, set up a page of circles (in 3 sizes), printed two sheets, rough cut the circles, fused the transfer to the back of scraps of fabric, fussy cut the circles, then positioned them over the ink marks. I added quite a few more circles in random locations to balance the arrangement of the necessary yellow & orange dots.

IMG_5127I’ve renamed the quilt “Galaxy” – because it kind of looks like a constellation of suns. I’ve already fused the circles to the quilt front. All that remains is to stitch around the edge of each circle with some kind of decorative stitch. I’ll probably use rayon embroidery thread on the top and the same variegated Sulky I used for quilting the back in the bobbin.

So one quilt salvaged!

Jun 22/15 Update

I had to create a second set of circles using Heat ‘n Bond Lite because the first set didn’t fuse well to the quilt top – another couple of hours precision work. I carefully removed the first set of circles, fused the second set. It took the better part of two days to stitch around all 42 circles!

I used a variegated yellow Aurifil 50 on top and an olive green bobbin embroidery thread on the bottom (which disappears in the batik on the back). I had to stitch VERY slowly to outline each circle precisely.

From a distance the appliqué stitching disappears!

“Stacks” Quilt

21 blocks done so far. Each block consists of six 2″ strips of a colour joined to a white; making a 9.5 X 9.5 block (finished size will be 9″ square). The strips for the remaining 14 blocks are stacked beside my machine ready to be assembled – this will be a 35 block quilt – finished size at least 45″ X 63″ – that’s without a narrow border which I may do.

At the moment I’m thinking about reversing the direction of one block in each column for contrast, but if I do that I will want a narrow sashing (probably in white – not sure about that yet) between the columns. Until I am able to lay out all 35 blocks I can’t begin creating columns – since the design is still fluid.

More to come. Haven’t given any thought to the back yet!

New Quilt

Take knitting – I can’t leave the needles idle – finish one pair of socks, I have to start the next.

It’s become the same with quilting. One quilt finished, the next starts.

Here’s the one I’ve just begun: 

I had a  jelly roll of forty 2.5″ strips of batik fabrics in shades of blue / turquoise, I went to the stash to pick out some complementary fabrics in the same hues as well as some greens that would blend – from these I cut 2″ strips from the width of fabric. 

Why 2″? Well, my idea was to build blocks from six strips of batik with a complementary background – I auditioned several solid colours, decided white created the liveliest contrast.

For a lap quilt I want a finished width of about 45″ – six standard 2.5″ strips would give me 12″ blocks (too large for my purposes). I wanted to end up with a 5 block X 7 block quilt so I needed blocks no larger than 9″. Six 2″ strips result in a 9″ finished block. So I trimmed the jelly roll strips to 2″, cut a bunch of 2″ white strips and started improvising.   

10 blocks  done – first I arranged them in rows with all the stripes in the same direction, but tried flipping a couple.

Then I took a photo from the end on: 

Now that’s an interesting idea!  Still a 5X7 quilt but with the columns having horizontal stripes and now maybe a contrasting vertical sashing.

That’s where I am at the moment – 10 blocks created, 25 to go….

Modern Quilt II – Finished

Finished the quilt today. I wasn’t sure how to quilt it – initially I was planning on echoing the curves at 1/2″ intervals but the shape of the curves in each block is quite different and I thought the finished stitching wouldn’t resonate from one block to the next. So in the end I set up an open embroidery design (240 mm x 240 mm) which had to be embroidered using my 360/350 hoop which stitches half of the design, then gets turned 180 degrees and the second half of the design is stitched. By changing the top thread colour (I used a “blendable” thread) to blend with the predominant block fabric I was able to have the stitching present but not too dominant. 

Happy with the finished quilt. Definitely got a lot of practice sewing curves – which is what I was going for.

Still enough fabric left from that set of batiks to make one, and maybe two, more quilts.