Friday, November 30, 2012

More New Quilts!!!!

This past month, I've been quite busy... sewing and sewing and sewing!  That might explain this:

Just what is this, you might ask?  It's simply a photo of my "trash" -- the trimmings and clippings of a month or more of sewing, trimming, pressing, and stitching some more again.  And that leads to the question:  what have I been sewing?  First things first...  I like to do as much of my prep work as possible when I start a project - starting with selecting the fabrics I will use, and continuing to pre-cutting as much as possible.  It makes life easier because I don't have a ton of starts and stops in the work process.  So the next photo shows cookie sheets full of fabric -- namely, lots of mellow-colored triangles in shades of rust, cheddar, gold, brown, and red.  I love pre-cutting tons of these so that I can "power sew" through a stack of half-square triangle strips.

And next is a cookie sheet full of triangles made from assorted shirting fabrics.  All of these will come together to form half-square triangles.   
So the next question is:  WHAT are you going to do with so MANY half-square triangles???  That one has several answers.  First of all, two friends and I have agreed to exercise and eat healthier.  We have each set goals.  If we meet our goals, we keep our blocks.  If we don't meet our goals, we "share" our blocks.  It's a simple way to keep us focused on health... with the bonus of keeping our own blocks at the end of each month!  So here is the weekly challenge block:  36 mellow half-square triangles in a single block.
And WHAT am I going to do with these blocks?  I haven't figured that out yet -- I could sew them all together and just have a quilt full of half-square triangles, but I think that I'd rather have a set of sashed blocks.  You can see here how they form a secondary pattern... and I'll have to play around a bit and decide if this - or another arrangement - makes the prettiest use of these blocks.  There are more to come - lots more!
But I've also been using these triangles, as well as a box of squares, to make a snowball quilt.  I saw this one at the Internationl Quilt Show in Houston last month, and fell in love with it.  I wish I had a larger photo showing the whole quilt, but this one at least stands as a reminder of what I want to make.
So here is my take on a snowball quilt -- I just love how little tiny "bow ties" form where the corners of the blocks meet!  This quilt is a great scrap-eater.  I made my snowballs each 2-1/4 inches (finished size).  It is such a happy little quilt (it won't be little by the time I'm done with it, though!).  I am going to put some sort of pieced border around this quilt when I finally finish it.  Do any of you have any ideas?!
Another quilt I saw at the Houston quilt show was an antique quilt with edge-to-edge broken dishes blocks.  Take a look:
What made this quilt so appealing to me was 1) all the cheddar broken dishes -- I have a fondness for cheddar fabric -- and 2) the diagonal "stripes" of red broken dishes blocks.  What a novel idea!  So I've already started making my own version of this antique quilt, as shown below.  I have said over and over:  if an antique quilt remains appealing today, it has stood the test of time in terms of design, color, texture, and value.  It will stand the test of time again when it is remade. 
Another thing I love about going to the Houston quilt show is that I continually run into fellow quilters that I can call friends.  Here's a dissheveled me (on the right) with Jan Krentz and Barb Vlack.  Jan is a wonderful quilt designer and Barb is an expert on Electric Quilt.  I have learned so much by listening to what these ladies have to say. 
So, were there any other antique quilts that drew me to them?  Well, yes... A friend and I were scouring the antique booths at the Houston Quilt show and came across this lovely quilt made with evening stars set on point.  I loved the red madder fabric (which is pretty close to a dark cheddar in my mind!) and the quilt lay pretty darn flat (which makes it a lot easier to quilt).  To make it even more appealing, the price was reasonable, so I bought the quilt - but it did have a couple of issues.  First of all, look at the third row down, fifth star over from the left -- the one with the six half-square triangles and the brown background fabric.  I'll say more about that in a minute - but it was another thing that drew me to this quilt.  Having a block that is so poorly sewn that you have to chop off the triangle tips on every single triangle in the block... well, who wants to do an exchange with that block-maker?  That's at least what was going through my head.
So what else was wrong?  You can't see them in the picture above because I fixed them, but there were big, honking mouse holes on two sides of the quilt. 
I set about fixing them by first finding a fabric that matched "well enough".  Then, I removed the setting triangles on the corner of the quilt and replaced them with ones cut from the nearly-matching fabrics I had in my stash (I used the one on the left).
Once I replaced the corner triangles with the fabric above, I used the fabric I removed to "patch" the mouse holes on the side of the fabric.  You can see, below, how the holes virtually disappeared.  Once I appliqued the patch on top, I removed the pins and trimmed off the edge of the quilt, making a straight edge.
But that wasn't the end of the problems with this quilt.  I hadn't noticed it until I got home, but the fabric on one block had completely "shattered," leaving only a skeleton of what had once been a nice plaid fabric.
I could have carefully removed the block and replaced it - or sewn a new one on top of the shattered block - but I decided that the best way to approach this problem was to remove the shattered fabric, but leave the muslin background fabric in place.  I placed a substitute fabric behind the shattered fabric, and pinned the muslin pieces to it, from the top.
Next, I began clipping the stitches holding the shattered remains in place...
... until all that was left was the muslin and the fabric beneath the block that I had put in place as its substitute.
After just a few more stitches to applique the muslin to the print fabric, the block was "good as new."
But wait a minute... I started thinking about that kookie block that was so misshapen - the one with the lopped-off triangles.  Here it is again - the one with the brown print background fabric in it.  Golly - you wouldn't want to trade blocks with this person, would you?!!
Here's a closer view... but as I looked at it, I started wondering... could this have possibly been the maker's way of covering up yet another shattered block in the quilt?
So I took a very CLOSE view of the block.  That's when I noticed that it had, indeed, been appliqued on top of another block. Can you see the applique stitches showing?
So I turned the quilt over and, sure enough, the mystery of this block was solved:  the quiltmaker had covered up a shattered block with another block that was oversized...
I suppose I could remove the replacement block and fix the second shattered block, but I actually prefer the kooky look of that strange misfit of a block on the front of the quilt.  My intention is to make a twin of this quilt, matching the fabrics... and that will likely include a mis-sized block, appliqued to the face of the quilt as a tidy bit of workmanship.  Woo hoo for unique!
Now... back to those cookie sheets full of triangles.  Surely there is more, right?  Yes, there is.  Here is a strip that forms half of a strip of pinwheels.  I use the Draw function in Word to make paper foundations so that I can mindlessly do my form of precision piecing.  Here's one strip...
But when I make pairs of them, I can make pinwheel strips like this:

 These strips will be the sashing strips in a quilt that looks like this (see below)...  I fell in love with spiral balls and always wanted to make a quilt where the sashing strips are pinwheels, and those sashing strips extend out into the border.  I saw that done on an old quilt in the Quilts of Virginia book by the Virginia Consortium of Quilters.  That book came about during the process of documenting over 3,000 quilts in Virginia, and is chock full of "eye candy."  Here is my draft layout:
My decision now is whether I want to make my spirals float like this in a 12-inch block (by the way - the pinwheels look weird because the seam allowance has not been sewn into the block yet)...
Or should the spiral balls sit a little tighter in a smaller, 10-inch block?
Two months ago I showed you a quilt that I volunteered to quilt because the owner had donated ten quilts to my guild's auction.  This quilt was wild:  quirky bright diamonds, hand pieced... but not what you'd call square by any stretch of the imagination.
I took on the challenge of quilting this quilt.  I loved the results -- I stitched every seam in the ditch, and then went back and stitched every-other row with a 1/4-inich seam line.  It was AWESOME!
Knowing that this quilt was anything but flat made quilting it on a longarm problematic, but not insurmountable.  By carefully basting the entire quilt, top to bottom, I was able to ease out all of the lumps and bumps and volcanoes, making the quilt lie flat, with no tucks or wrinkles at all.  Then, once it was quilted, it was just a matter of trimming it and making the quilt sides parallel. 
My friend Jerrianne bound the quilt, using a black fabric with small white polka dots in it - it was the perfect ending for a beautiful quilt!  The owner - a man - was very pleased with the results, which thrilled us.
He had several other quilts, so I ended up with this one for myself; I loved this quilt because it is also so totally quirky! 

  Look at those wild colors - including the crazy cheddar.
And now, after a bit more basting, my own quilt is done.  It is definitely a utility quilt - but I love, love, love it!
Back to more spiral ball blocks, now.  I bought a set of about 30 of these spiral ball blocks on eBay a few years back.  They have been my inspiration for making more spiral ball blocks. 
And they are what started me thinking about my own spiral ball quilt.  Now, I've finally
I finished my "Happy Daze" quilt.  I love the use of 30s reproduction fabrics - they are all so "happy."

I'm in the midst of quilting Happy Daze.  I was stumped as to what I wanted to do in the background of those spiral blocks and finally settled for 1/2-inch cross-hatching.  I have a 45-degree angle ruler that I can use on my longarm that is a tremendous lifesaver.  It is made and sold by Quilter's Rule and can actually adjust to make lots of different angles, but I only use the 45 degree angle.
Here's another shot of the quilting.  I hope to finish this quilt in the next week or so, along with the pattern.  This quilt will be a 6-month block-of-the-month.  I know that many of us really do not want to wait a whole year to get the last block on a block-of-the-month, so I decided to change the lineup on this pattern.  It should be available in another 6-8 weeks.
Now... remember that border quilt I was making in Winnie Fleming's class?  She's an outstanding teacher and lecturer -- one of the best I've ever seen.  This was the first block she had us make... and then we added border after border, after border.
I changed her design a bit... and made 72 four-inch evening star blocks.  Ugh!  But time flies when you're having fun, so I stitched away, block after block.

And here is the final quilt.  I wanted to use a gradation of color in the outer borders, so I chose to make a double row of evening star blocks, along with small lone stars in the corners.  And can you guess what I love the most about this quilt?  The mustard floral print!  It is so warm and sunny.

Here's a close-up of one of the small lone stars.  I love how these nestle right in the corners.

Dear friends, that is all for now... I'll post again in a month, but until then, I wish you all joy and happiness as we exit one year and head into a new one.  Until then -- happy stitching!

(c)2012 Susan H. Garman


  1. What a treat this post is! I really love the project that the pinwheel rows are for, the Happy Daze enchants me, and I'm totally in love with your last quilt top!

  2. What inspiration...All I want to do after reading this is go to my sewing room, even if it is late at night. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work, and I will be the first to sign up for your new BOM. :)

  3. Your posts are always sooooo inspiring and love they way you make the vintage quilt tops work for you.

    I will look at old tops now in a hole new light. Excuse the pun.

  4. Wondeful informative post. You have so much quilting energy and it's hopefully contagious.

  5. I love all of your projects! And that wonky block in the stars quilt is so awesome! It's so amazing that it's the fix! Love that!

  6. I look forward to your blog every month to see what you are working on. Your quilts are such an inspiration. All the quilts showcased this month, both vintage and new, are exquisite. I especially like the lone star medallion quilt. Will it be a future pattern or BOM maybe?

  7. how wonderful your projuect are. Love them. Keep up the inspiration.

  8. I think I say "wow" more times reading your blog than anyone else's! I love Happy Daze, I really love the mustard quilt you made in Winnie's class, and I love the antique quilt in the book photo too.

    Personally, I prefer the 12" block that gives more white space around your applique. Even though I am not a modern quilt maker, I do find myself appreciating all the breathing room they tend to have. And I associate a lot of negative space with early 19th century quilts too, when colours were at a premium!

  9. Love everything as always. I like the smaller background square, but you know I like busy.

  10. Sue, it looks as if you cut triangles for your half square triangle blocks. Do you always do that or just when you do not want more than one square the same? I find when I cut triangles I need to make them so I can square them up.

    As always I love your work!


  11. Hello Sue
    I have just found your blog and loved reading your post, I have gone back and read your previous months. What a lot of fun you have.
    I love your quilts and I am a confessed lover of reproduction fabrics and old quilts.
    I look forward to your next post.

  12. Wow I have been blown away this morning!!!! Eye candy galore and I'm tingling.... Can I sew with you?

  13. I've been looking at this blog post over and over the last few weeks. There's so much to take in in one post. I love the antique broken dishes and the layout for the spiral blocks with pinwheel sashing. Looking forward to seeing the progress on that one next month.

  14. Well since I can't sew or quilt like that I am in awe. I just love everything that I have seen. But it is posts like this that inspire and keep us novices plugging your post :)

  15. All so amazing - I LOVE your quilt from Winnie's class.



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