July 8, 2020

Dayhike quilt

I finally finished a UFO that's been in progress for quite a while.  This quilt was made using the Dayhike pattern by Amy Ellis.

Two fabrics provided the initial color inspiration -- Rifle Paper Company's Rosa in Peach, and Rashida Coleman-Hale's Cicada Song in Forest.

The pattern is targeted towards 10-inch layer cake squares, but I used yardage and scraps.

There is one intentionally rogue block; I'm not sure how noticeable it is, though.

The two inspiration fabrics appear in the backing as well as in blocks on the front.

For quilting, I tried to draw inspiration from the fabrics and quilted each rectangle individually.

The binding is a Cotton Couture solid in Juniper.

This would have been a quick finish had I not set it aside for a while.  It has been over three years since I started this quilt!  With so many quilt shows being cancelled, I don't have any current deadlines, which gives me an opportunity to finish up some smaller projects like this.  It's good to have this one complete.

April 26, 2020

Two National Parks quilts

Our family enjoys visiting national parks, so I was excited when Riley Blake Designs released their National Parks fabric line with large poster panels.  I like the retro graphic look of the designs too.  The large panels are about 36 inches by 42 inches; adding some simple borders is a quick and easy way to create a lap-size quilt.  I was able to complete two tops from start to finish between Christmas and New Years.  (The quilting still took weeks, of course.)

I chose panels from two parks that we enjoy and that would also make suitable gifts for friends -- Rocky Mountain National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  For the Rocky Mountain quilt I added several borders of varying widths, including a woven Anna Maria Horner stripe and a few solids.  Simple stars sit in the corners of the stripe border.

For the Smoky Mountains quilt, I created a plaid-like border using solid fabrics.  The cream inner border expands the dimensions of the panel out to multiples of four inches -- fortunately it is an odd multiple in each direction.

I was well out of my comfort zone when it came to quilting the animals in these prints.  I chose to quilt them sparsely, mostly outlining the color zones. 

To keep the quilting somewhat even, I tried not to quilt the backgrounds or borders too densely either.  This was a challenge for me, as I usually tend to quilt heavily. 

I did want the lettering to stand out, so the background in those areas are the most dense.

The back of each quilt uses Mammoth flannel from Robert Kaufman Fabrics. 

I was nervous about using flannel as a backing, but it quilted really well.  Even matching the seams worked out well. 

Combined with Dream Wool batting, I'm hoping these quilts will be warm and cozy.

I had hoped to share these quilts with our local guild during Show and Tell at the March or April meetings, but quarantine upended those plans.  These quilts have found their way to their recipients already -- and may eventually find their way to vacation homes near their respective parks.

January 8, 2020


My wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary just a few months ago.  I made her a quilt in celebration, using a Double Wedding Ring design and lots of silver metallic fabrics.


 I scanned some of our wedding photos and other memorabilia, and had them printed on fabric at Spoonflower.  I reduced the saturation in the photos before printing so that the colors are subtle and blend well with the neutral fabrics.

 I used a Creative Grids template set for the Double Wedding Ring design.  I scanned the center template and used it as a guideline in Photoshop for sizing the photos.  Most of the photos did not fill the full template; for those, I pieced additional fabric on the sides before cutting to the template shape.

 I also scanned the templates for the arcs and corners, and used these scans to generate paper-piecing patterns.  I added stars in the corners, and I split the arcs into 9 segments (instead of the 8 in the template) in order to start and end with dark pieces while alternating values.

I incorporated a few Japanese fabrics, which is meaningful as my wife lived in Japan for a couple of years before we were married.  There's even an electrical engineering related fabric to represent my career.

I used a metallic stripe in all of the melon centers, randomly varying the direction of the stripes.  (This has less impact on the overall quilt than I thought it might.)

Most of the quilting uses Aurifil 50-weight cotton, but for the photos I used a 100-weight polyester thread.  I like the way it looks on the photos, but my machine was not happy with this thread; I experienced quite a few breaks.

Here's the view of the back of a photo block, showing how I outlined the figures.  I was afraid some of the images might end up too puffy, but I don't think they are that bad.

For all the centers that do not have a photo, I quilted different grid-based designs.  I learned a number of these designs in a class with Christina Cameli at Quiltcon.

 Here's a view of the label:

The back is a near-solid teal that I think works well with the silver.  It's not quite the same teal as we had in our wedding, but it is a nod to our colors.

It's hard to tell from the photos, but the light fabrics in one of the rings are all a rose metallic, and in the ring below that, the light fabrics are all a gold metallic (they are on the left side).  There is a total of 25 rings, naturally.

I did not have the quilt finished in time for our anniversary, but the last stitches went in on Christmas Eve -- so the quilt was under our tree on Christmas morning.

June 20, 2019

Jackass Blues

Last year our local guild held a challenge called "Stitchin' the Blues."  I made a quilt for that challenge, and as I was brainstorming names for that quilt, I recalled an old blues song titled "Jackass Blues."  I didn't want to use that name for my challenge quilt, but it did bring to mind a photo I had taken a few years ago -- and the idea for another quilt was born.

I drafted a pattern from my photo using Photoshop, and used raw-edged appliqué for the donkey and barn.  The background is pieced using improv curves.

I scanned the music for the song to create custom-printed fabrics for the background.

It took a couple of iterations to get the color right.  I used the rejects on the back, along with a full fat quarter as a label.

The fabrics used in the appliqué, and the binding, are mostly from Regency Ballycastle by Christopher Wilson-Tate.

The song "Jackass Blues" was written by Art Kassel and Mel Stitzel in 1926.  Here's a link to a recent version by Tuba Skinny, and here is a link to Joe "King" Oliver's version with vocals.

(My original challenge quilt can be seen near the end of this post -- along with a hint about this quilt.)

March 13, 2019

"Against such things there is no law"

In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, 
generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NABRE)

A few years ago, I heard a sermon based on the Fruit of the Spirit, as listed in Galations 5.  I was familiar with Tonya Ricucci's Word Play Quilts from another project, and it occurred to me during the sermon that these words could be made into a quilt.  It took a long period of musing to settle on an approach, but I am happy with the end result.

The layout is an improv variation on a medallion quilt, with a pineapple in the center.  (The pineapple is based on a design by Sassafras Lane.)

For colors, I started with a Kona fat quarter bundle that struck me as fruity (even though it is called "Sunrise").  Some of the colors even have fruity names, such as Tangerine, Pomegranate, Peach, Sour Apple, and Lemon.  I added Ice Frappe for backgrounds, plus other coordinating solids.

(It turns out a fat quarter does not provide enough fabric to make one of these word panels.)

I toyed with the idea of using only solid fabrics, but I couldn't resist using fruit-themed prints.  The word panels all use a fruit print for the letters, with a solid background.

A couple of the borders are fussy cut from fruit prints.

Most of the words were made using Tonya Ricucci's methods, while a few were paper pieced.  I wanted to give an impression of varying fonts.  "Patience" and "Gentleness" use patterns by Kristy Lea (except the upper-case "P" is my own design).

"Love" is another paper piecing design of my own.  "Kindness" is semi-improv but based on a design by Amanda Jean Nyberg.

Peach fabric seemed suitable for "Peace"; this and a couple other fabrics are even scented.

I made the word panels plus a few of the fruit blocks without a definite layout in mind, then worked to piece it all together.  Spaces were filled with either traditional blocks or more fruit blocks.  Of course I had to include some orange peel blocks, and there are hourglass blocks near "Patience."

These are fussy cut from a fabric used on the back:

The strawberry block uses a pattern by Kerry Green.  The watermelon is another pattern by Kristy Lea, and the citrus pattern is by Amy Friend.

I designed the pear myself, based loosely on one of the prints in the quilt.

The outer border is composed of traditional pineapple blocks.  These were made using paper piecing too.  I scaled the patterns to fit the space available; the blocks on the side are not quite the same size as those along the top and bottom, and the corner blocks are not exactly square -- but they are close enough to not be noticeable.  I fussy cut the centers from various fruit prints.  I almost wish I had stuck with just the strawberries -- they seem just right for these blocks.

I quilted different free-motion designs in the background of each word.  A Christmas gift came in handy for marking some of the designs -- Judi Madsen's Quickmark Assist ruler.

More orange peels, naturally, quilted using a grid marked with the above ruler:

The binding and one of the borders are made from a watermelon rind print.  I quilted some words into the green border -- "The Fruit of the Spirit," "Galations 5:22-23," "Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit," "By their fruit you will know them," and my initials and the date.

The back uses lots of fruit prints; all were also used on the front, although I only used a couple of fussy cuts from the busier prints.

I started stitching on this quilt in late 2017, and focused on it beginning last September.  I missed a couple of deadlines I had hoped to meet for show submissions; then I learned that our church would be having a 9-week sermon series on the fruit of the Spirit.  I wasn't able to complete the quilt in time for the start of the sermon series, but it was ready for the last two weeks of the series.  I was happy to have it on display for those services.