Archive for the ‘quilting’ Category

Going to Blog Again Now

September 23, 2014

I miss having a record of things I make and do, so I managed to remember my password and I’m jumping back in.

Today 5 out of 8 members of the small but mighty Memphis Area Modern Quilt Guild visited LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center to deliver baby quilts to the infant and toddler unit.  (yes, we have an MQG!  I started it after being blown away by Quiltcon 2013!) We toured the new facility and even got to meet a few precious babies and their moms.

Memphis Area MQG Sept 23 2014

This hospital is a regional treasure. Memphians are lucky to have such a world-class facility for our children.  Gwen was a frequent user and was much on my mind.  Today marks the 5th anniversary of the day she passed away in this very place.

A lot of healing has taken place in five years and now I am only happy to think of my sweet girl and grateful to have been in her company for almost 13 years.  She is the best thing that ever happened to me and I have been smiling all day as I remember her.



March 17, 2013

My normally predictable life has been anything but lately. What will probably be the highlight of my year was my trip to Quiltcon, the first-ever convention of the Modern Quilt Guild.  After all those years at home with Gwen, I felt anxious signing up for this event and registering for workshops all three days. I even considered backing out at the last minute!  Thank goodness I didn’t because I haven’t had so much fun or seen so many fabulous quilts since the Gee’s Bend exhibition came to Memphis several years ago.

At first I was sure I would be the one old fogey in a sea of skinny hipsters with pink hair and copious body art/piercings. But this convention drew every kind of person you could imagine!  There was pink hair, gray hair, no hair, and even blue hair on the ladies in the Spoonflower booth.

All the modern quilting rock stars were in attendance, most of them teaching workshops and showing quilts or new lines of fabric.  I saw Lizzie House, Jay McCarroll, Denyse Schmidt, Weeks Ringel, Amy Butler, Thomas Knauer, Yoshiko Jenzenji, Angela Walters, Anna Maria Horner, Alicia Haight Carlton, Jacquie Gering, Mary Fons, Sherri Lynn Wood, Lotta Jansdotter, Malka Dubrawsky, Penny Layman, and Elizabeth Hartman to name a few.

And I saw quilts! Rows and rows of wonderful, colorful modern quilts! I had to go through the show at least once every day to take it all in. In the front of the exhibition was a display of antique quilts. Here are a few that look very much like the “modern” quilts we are making today.

This little quilt, Ode to Paul Klee by Serena Brooks of Los Angeles was my favorite in the mini quilt category.

And here are a sample of quilts that caught my eye. There are many more in my Quiltcon Flickr set.

Adrift byt Tina Michalik

Paper Shredder by Pamela Johnson
"Paper Shredder" by Pamela Johnson

Lifesavers by Lee Heinrich. I love what she did with those stripes!

Bolt by Rebecca Roach

Whoa!  Hold the phone! OMG it’s NANCY!  You know, THE Nancy. As in “Sewing With…”.  She was not listed as an instructor or lecturer, so I guess she was just checking out the modern quilt movement. It was such a trip turn around and see her standing there! She is even prettier than she looks on TV.


OK now back to the quilts. Here is my favorite.

Pantone Circles by Elizabeth Brandt.
My personal favorite at Quiltcon

And another one by the same artist.

Another by Elizabeth Brandt

My second favorite.

My Tribute to B.C. Binning by Diane Thompson
Second Favorite at Quiltcon

A few more

Cool blue Kona Modern by Terry Aske.
At Quiltcon

Up in the Air by Latifah Saafir

This quilt won best in show. What a creative way to update the traditional double wedding ring pattern!

Double Edged Love by Victoria Findlay Wolfe
Best of Show at Quiltcon

Here is a detail of the winning quilt.


Even the ribbons were show-worthy!

Even the ribbons were quilts

It’s going to take several posts to cover everything I saw and did at Quiltcon. Overall this event was well-planned, seamlessly organized, all-inclusive, and generally spectacular in every way. Kudos to the MQG board and volunteers for putting on a first-class show!

Get Lazy with Sarah

June 27, 2011

Hey, I just remembered that I have a blog!  That hasn’t been updated since February!   Not sure why- maybe I lost my stitching mojo. Chasing an adorable toddler all day leaves little energy for much else. And although it’s been 19 months, it’s still not easy living without Gwen.

But I did manage to squeeze in a few projects. First, a mini quilt for DQS 10.  Disappearing nine patch with batiks.

Mini quilt for DSQ 10

And my first Dresden Plate for the Lovely Linen Bee.  I was plenty nervous about attempting this block, but it turned out nicely!

May block for lovely linen bee

This block for the Linen Bee was the most improvisational thing I have ever done.  At first it seemed I was just making a big ol’ mess.  But, again, the end product looked much better than expected.

April block for Lovely Linen Bee

Yesterday I made these bibs with my very best fabrics for a baby shower.  This was a really fun shower because there were many beautiful handmade gifts.

Bibs for a baby shower

In non-sewing news, we had a clematis explosion,

Clematis explosion

then a lily explosion.  We are still waiting for the tomato and green bean explosions.

Lily explosion

And after 10 years, I got a new car!  This comely machine is a 2011 Subaru Outback and I am in love with it.

New wheels!

The purchase of this vehicle was most exciting, yet somewhat bittersweet.  As part of the deal, I traded in the handicap van I had used to ferry Gwen around town for so many years.  I couldn’t help but feel that I was losing another little piece of the remnants of her life. Yeah, the van is just a “thing”. And  I will never lose my love for my daughter or the wonderful memories of our time with her.  But still….

Crosstown Quilt for Project Modern Inspiration Challenge

November 26, 2010

The quilt is finished and the quilt-as-you-go method gets two thumbs up!

The inspiration: a parking garage next to the historic Sears building in the Crosstown neighborhood of Memphis, TN.

Parking garage quilt inspiration

The quilt

Crosstown Quilt for Project Modern

Measuring in at 54″ x 70″, this is the largest quilt I have ever made. The prints are all leftover fabric from a stack of thrifted clothes I sent out for a block swap last summer.

I used the quilt-as-you-go-method and will definitely do this again unless the long-arm fairy visits me in the meantime. Here are the steps I used:

1. Made all lantern and rectangle blocks. Arranged them on design wall.
2. Decided the quilt should be larger and made 21 more blocks for an extra row and two more columns.
3. Pieced the blocks into 9 larger sections measuring about 18 or 20 inches square.
4. Quilted each larger block to a piece of batting.
5. Sewed the larger blocks together.
6. Pressed the seams from step 5 very very flat with lots of steam and Mary Ellen’s Best Press.
7. Basted the seams from step 5 down using long running stitches to keep them from bunching up in the wash.
8. Pin basted the top to the back and quilted the whole thing by stitching in the ditch on some of the vertical and horizontal seams.
9. Pieced the binding from remaining fabrics and stitched it on.

detail of Crosstown Quilt

I was concerned that the seams with batting in them would be too bulky and look lumpy. Here are my recommendations for preventing this problem

* Use low loft batting such as Warm & White.
* Piece blocks into larger sections before quilting them to the batting. Fewer quilted sections means fewer seams with batting in them.
* Vigorously press seams with batting and baste them down as in step 7 above.
* Allow for a 3/8″ or larger seam allowance (instead of 1/4″) as these seams have some extra bulk. I did not do this and found myself with a few seam allowances that were too narrow to be stable. They had to be reinforced with hand stitching and it took forever.

For the back, I used a thrifted sheet.

The back is a thrifted sheet

I love this quilt even though all that precision piecing nearly left me cross-eyed. Now I am inspired to do a series of smaller quilts with Memphis-inspired themes and imagery. But that will have to wait until next year because there is much holiday knitting and sewing to be done!

Outdoor shot

Here are links to other quilts I’ve made from recycled clothes:
Men’s shirt quilt
Cherry print clothing quilt
Jumpers Baby Quilt
Pink prints mini quilt

November Stitching

November 14, 2010

After some intense work on the parking garage quilt, I took a break from the sewing room. My loser sewing machine started acting up again after I had just spent a lot of money on it, so I had to switch back to the old Elna. Yeah, the one with no thread cutter, no needle up and down button, and (eek) no walking foot. But it gets the job done and I am feeling guilty about all the times I called it names and wished for something “better”.

I remembered yesterday that the kids at church needed something to auction at their fundraiser tonight, so I made this cool scarf from a thrifted batik wrap skirt. I will be handing this over with some regret, but there is plenty of fabric around here for other scarves.

Scarf from thrifted skirt

The quilt has also seen some progress. I had to make 21 more blocks than originally planned to get the thing to the size I wanted! I joined the blocks into nine larger blocks and quilted each of them to a piece of batting. The quilting is simple due to the lack of a walking foot.

Parking garage quilt progress

Now I am sewing the large blocks together and thinking that this quilt-as-you-go method is the best thing since sliced bread. The plan is to have a finished product to show you by the end of the week.

Parking Garage Quilt for Project Modern Challenge

October 2, 2010

The Modern Quilt Guild is sponsoring Project Modern, a year-long series of fun quilting challenges. Challenge #1, the Inspiration Challenge, is simply to make a quilt based on the inspiration of your choice.

The announcement of this challenge was all it took to get me started on a design I had been thinking about since the first of the year. Back in January, I took these photos of the parking garage adjoining the historic Sears building in Midtown. I thought the motif just screamed to be made into a quilt.

Parking garage

A lot of people hate this garage and call it a “mid-century monstrosity” because it doesn’t match the art deco style of the massive Sears Building. They’re right- it doesn’t. The store itself is an elegant structure, one of nine comparable mail-order and retail centers erected nationally by Sears Roebuck & Company between 1910 and the beginning of the Great Depression. The parking garage was added later.


My dad told me that he loved to go to Sears with his mom because they had rows and rows of shiny new baseball bats and gloves. Sadly, this building has sat empty for two decades despite several attempts at redevelopment. But improvements in the neighborhood make it much more likely that something can be done when the economy rebounds.

parking garage tail

I began by taking this close up shot of the concrete forms. Then I enlarged the photo so that only one repeat of the design was visible. From there, I printed it out and enlarged it a little more at the copy shop so that the lantern shapes were 12″ tall. I cut paper templates from the copies, transferred them to template plastic and started cutting my fabric.

I am using leftovers from the summer block swap quilt. The prints are cut from thrifted clothing and the sashing is Handspray by RJR Fabrics. This quilt will be about 54″ x 70″ and I’ll use the quilt-as-you-go method to quilt it. There is no way I am dragging such a large swath of fabric through my home machine! The backing will probably be a vintage sheet.

Here are a few of the 26 lantern blocks I have completed. I love them!

a few blocks for the parking garage quilt

I’ll keep you updated as this project progresses.

Rainbow Union Jack Mini Quilt for DSQ9

September 2, 2010

My favorite part of mini quilt swaps is getting my partner assignment, and I never start the project before I get it.

My least favorite part is sending off my creation. Even mini quilts take a fair amount of time, and I don’t want to waste it making something I don’t love. So there is the challenge- merging my partner’s preferences with my own to come up with a quilt that appeals to us both.

In this round, my partner gave me a some color preferences and then mentioned that she especially loves rainbows. Now rainbows don’t do much for me, but after reading this chick’s blog I knew I had to come up with something rainbow because she really likes them. As much as I like batiks. There was just no way to justify sending anything else. Fortunately, she is partial to geometric shapes, and that I can do.

After a bit of pondering I came up with the idea to make a Union Jack flag (my partner is from the UK) in rainbow colors. I could use all batiks from my stash! So here it is- rainbows for her, batiks for me and geometric shapes for us both.

Rainbow Union Jack

I set to work finding a Union Jack online, blowing it up and making a pattern for paper piecing. Then when I was halfway through with the quilt I found that two other people have done it for us.

The back is a pretty blue pheasant batik. To keep a sleek modern look, I did not use binding. I cut the backing 1/4″ smaller that the front so that it wouldn’t show from the front of the quilt when I turned the whole thing right side out. I quilted the colors to the batting and quilted the white stripes after adding the backing. The final measurements are 13″ x 22″.

Back of Rainbow Union Jack

The best part of making this quilt was rummaging through my batiks to select colors. I also love working with complementary colors, so for each narrow diagonal stripe, I chose a color that is complementary (or close) to the color of one of the two adjacent triangles.

This Rainbow Union Jack is heading eastward and I will be holding my breath to see the recipient’s reaction.

Fabric Selections for Two New Quilts

August 25, 2010

I have been happily rummaging through my stash, selecting colors for two new quilting projects. I chose all batiks- image that!

First up is a mini quilt for DSQ9. I will wait to say more about my plans for these fabrics so that the recipient will be surprised.

Fabrics for DSQ9

Next, I’ll start on a holiday gift. I have collected these batiks all year with a specific recipient in mind. *sigh* aren’t they just lovely?

Future holiday gift

I have almost settled on the modern version of the design on the front of this magazine. Find this publication if you can! It gives instructions for traditional quilts and then shows how to update them with contemporary fabrics.

I love this magazine

Now be careful. These next photos might make you envious and that is a deadly sin.

My friend Diane plucked these vintage 70’s drapes off of the curb in her funky midtown neighborhood. (I used to live there- oh how I miss it!) She prefers more traditional designs so I snapped them up when she offered them to me. There are two panels and they look brand new! They might even escape the scissors and remain intact as curtains for my sewing room.

Retro curtain curb rescue

Retro curtain curb rescue

Are you green yet?

The Cherry Baby Quilt is Finished!

August 21, 2010

All done, and pretty darn cute if I say so myself.

Cherry baby quilt finished

Turns out I DID have some fabric for the backing on hand. This red gingham had languished deep in the stash. Probably because I have had it since the 80’s.

backing and binding

I quilted it lightly with Warm and White batting so it wouldn’t be too stiff. It measures a generous 40″ x 40″. All fabrics were pre-washed so there are no worries about fading or bleeding colors. The cherry prints are from thrifted clothing, the backing is a cotton blend and the other fabrics are quilting cottons.

Cherry baby quilt block.

Currently I am enduring a crazy annoying case of poison ivy on my both my forearms. But I will persevere and continue working on a mini quilt for DSQ9. Then I hope to continue the destash by whipping up a few fall handbags. And, it’s time to get cracking on some holiday projects, as there are only 125 days left until Christmas. Yikes!

Have y’all started on Christmas gifts yet? What are you making?

Cherry Baby Quilt

August 1, 2010

My collection of thrifted clothes is out of hand. There are too many pants, skirts and dresses lying around waiting to be cut up and made into even more spectacular creations.

Thrifted clothes for refashioning

I had plans to refashion some of them for Gwen. But don’t you agree that she is probably doing just fine with a white robe, a set of wings, a harp and a halo?

I made a nice dent in the pile(s) of clothing by sending 19 pieces out for the summer block swap. Next, I pulled out a small stack of items with cherry prints, added some red Kona Cotton and a few other scraps and started a baby quilt.

Square from cherry baby quilt

I pieced some log cabin blocks improvisationally (actual improvisation!) and added a border of solid red to each one. Then I trimmed all blocks to 14 inches square and sewed them together. Not rocket science to be sure, but I did it all without a seam ripper!

This is comparable to walking a tightrope without a net. All of my seam rippers were AWOL so I had to make do with scissors to snip thread and a pin pull out the stitches. It went pretty well until the end. I made three columns of three blocks each. After joining the first two columns, I sewed the last one to the wrong side of the quilt and had to undo a 40″ seam with a pin! Fortunately, seam rippers will be 50% off at Hancock Fabrics in two weeks.

Square from cherry baby quilt

Believe it or not, (my sister doesn’t) there is nothing in my fabric collection suitable for a backing. The green polka dot print won’t do because it looks terrible when placed next to the binding fabric. The binding fabric looks fantastic from the front of the quilt so it has to stay. The red check is nice, but I bought it quite a while ago and probably can’t get any more.

Stay tuned to see how this dilemma is resolved. In the meantime, here is the finished top.

Finished top

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