Thursday, April 2, 2015

Michigan Star

Michigan Star

 This is a pillow top that I recently finished and wanted to share.  First there's a back story...

Last summer we got some new furniture for the porch at our cabin in Michigan.  It came with some pillows, but we wanted a few more.  I decided to make covers for some pillows that I'd rescued from our previous living room furniture at home.

Fabric colors were based on the colors of the pillows that came with the porch furniture.  While we were at the lake, I string-pieced some scraps from my stash and a few pieces that I'd picked up at Hobby Lobby in Michigan and came up with the first pillow.  The original pillows have both green and blue.  I used green in the first one.

Strip-piecing (1-1/2" unfinished)

Cut into squares and subcut into triangles.

I played around with the resulting triangles, looking for  something I liked.  I was planning to make one big block using four sub-blocks from the strip triangles.  So many options!

This is what I finally chose, though in retrospect, I'm not sure it's my favorite.  I think I like the second one better.

 Here it is with the borders that it needed to get it up to size.

I was reasonably happy with the result.  But we still needed a second pillow.  Fast-forward to January.  A pillow seemed like the perfect project while I was otherwise out of commission this winter.

I couldn't do much sewing while I was in a wheelchair and boot casts.  Eventually  I could get into my sewing chair and use the stop/start button to sew.  Trying to actually quilt seemed out of the question -- not enough control -- but I could do some piecing.  Yay!  If I sewed slowly using the button instead of the foot pedal, it would be OK (I hoped).  And after all, it was only a pillow for the porch.  I am pleased that it turned out so well.

I found a very nice Star Explosioin pattern on Mishka's Playground (if you don't know her site, be sure to visit!).  Slow paid off!  This is probably the best execution of flying geese that I've ever accomplished (damning with faint praise, but still...).  To see the pattern and directions, here.

I like the blue much better than the green.  In retrospect, I think I'd use blue for the outer [gold] squares.  Still, the colors really do work together.

The block turned out to be a tad large for the pillows I wanted to use.  Guess I'll have to make a bigger pillow or use this for something else.  Decisions, decisions.

Friday, March 27, 2015

For Greta, From Jenny Doan

My newest granddaughter, Greta, was born last May, but I'd already started working on her quilt.

I love the Missouri Star Quilt Company's tutorials with Jenny Doan, and when she came up with the Disappearing Pinwheel, I knew that was the one.  But instead of the muted color palette that she used, I decided to use primary colors.  Babies like bright colors, and since my son and daughter-in-law had decided not to find out whether they were having a boy or a girl, the quilt had to be gender-neutral.  As luck would have it, the Disappearing Pinwheel was featured in one of the first editions of MSQC's Block magazine.

I started with one layer cake of bright colors and yardage in white that I cut into 10" squares. 

Complete instructions for the Disappearing Pinwheel blocks can be found at the MSQC website, on YouTube, and in Block magazine.

For each pinwheel, stitch one white and one colored square together around the outside edges.  Cut each stitched pair from corner to corner and press open.

 Sew the resulting half-square triangles together to make a pinwheel.  (No apologies here for switching from block to block for the photos.  The fabrics were just plain fun!).

Now, just like we did for the Disappearing Nine-Patch, square up the pinwheel blocks and the cut them into thirds in both directions.

Square up and determine the measurement  for the 1/3 divisions.

Arrange the resulting pieces as desired.  Jenny gave directions for both Churn Dash and Monkey Wrench blocks.  I fiddled around to make another one, too.  Ultimately, I preferred the Monkey Wrench.

Churn Dash.  I just didn't like this for a baby's quilt.
Monkey Wrench.   The shape reminds me of a toddler's crayons, flat on the sides.

Just seeing what else could be made.  Meh.
After the blocks were finished, I put them on my current "design wall" -- the bedroom curtains.  I had trouble figuring out the color placement, so I took black-and-white photos so I could focus on the values.  Many quilting websites sell "rose-colored" glasses that help you see value.  But all you really need to do is take black-and-white photos with your phone, tablet or digital camera.

These look a little wonky.  That's just because I was running out of pins.

Black and white photos are a great way to focus on the color value.

What I really noticed was that I didn't much like was the blocks touching each other (the way Jenny did it).  I cut some test sashing strips, and liked that much better.

I found some really cute flannel for the backing at JoAnn's. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Life in a Blended Family

 Sometimes quilts appear, not out of fabric or colors or designs, but out of something more...

When I was planning Molly's Wedding Quilt, I thought that I'd put some appliques in the large white squares.  Each applique would be something special about the blended family, Molly, her husband, and his two children.

But in the end, the appliques that I'd done seemed to interfere with the appearance of the quilt design.  However, I'd already made several applique squares.  What to do?

Well, make another quilt, of course!  A special family quilt.

The background fabric for the top was one that looked like wood paneling.  I just put the layers together and quilted by stitching between the "boards" of the paneling.  Piece of cake!

Each applique was based on a 5" square (hello, charm packs) that was special to a member of the family or the family as a whole.  The squares represented their sports or music or careers, and things that they love to do together.  I did fusible applique and satin stitched around the pieces.

I decided to try to make each square look kind of like a photo in an album.  If you don't remember what a photo album looked like, it was kind of like this:  you slipped the photo into little black corner pieces that held them into the album.

For each square, I create an applique, then added a white border.  Then I sewed a black square to each corner and trimmed.


Molly and her husband had one of their first dates at a yoga class.  I thought that this batik fabric was a perfect background.

The one non-applique was part of the reading that I did at their wedding.  What an honor to be asked to do this.  I don't have an embroidery machine, but my Brother has some beautiful fonts that looked just right.

This is the final quilt.  You'll see basketball, soccer, chorus, kayaking, ping-pong, guitar, Molly's dog, Poe, cheerleading, and tucked away at the top, the cabin in Michigan that we all share.  There's nothing better than family.

The quilt back is a beautiful green fabric that reminds me of our cabin in the woods.  I added a sleeve so that they could hang the quilt if they wanted to. The binding is a pretty aqua (looks bright in this photo). 


Bonus!  All those little pieces that got trimmed from the corners of the "photos" made some nice little -- very little -- 4-patches.  They will get used some day...

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Happy National Quilting Day!

I'm so happy to be back at my sewing machine and back in blogland (cue Gene Autry singing "Back in the Saddle Again").  Even though A Quilter's Path was on hiatus, I was taking photos.  So let's start catching up, my friends!

Molly's Wedding Quilt, Part 2

My lovely niece, Molly, was married in August, 2013.  I posted about the beginnings of her quilt here.  I'm a slow quilter, but I was determined to have it ready for her when we got together at our families' cabin in Michigan this summer.  Hey, not even a year!

She wanted a lap-size quilt for chilly evenings on their boat in the Detroit area.  The quilt was controlled scrappy, including regular quilting cotton and some wonderful batiks.  Many of these were leftovers from Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street mystery quilt (still a Work in Progress).

Some leftovers were strips, some were squares.  And I did have to add a few.

Strip-piecing and chain-sewing got the basic units done quickly.

I had picked out the block pattern, but wanted to fiddle with it a bit to see what I liked.

Green units straight, blue on point?

Or the other way around?

I was planning to add some appliques to the neutral blocks, so I finally decided on keeping the light squares in the green units parallel with the quilt edges.  This meant that I needed setting triangles for the edges.  I just made more of the blue and white blocks and cut them in half.  Of course, now I have a pile of bonus triangles for future use!

After making a few appliques, it looked like that would not be a good idea.  They just didn't fit with the quilt.  But I did keep one piece. 

In the photo here, the picture on top is the card that was used for the wedding invitations and the place cards at the reception.  I don't have an embroidery machine, but  I managed to replicate the font pretty well (I think).  The square went on the top of the quilt.

The quilting was just stich-in-(or in the neighborhood of)-the-ditch.  Not so elegant but fine for a utility quilt that I hope will be used hard.

Until next time.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Broken Promises, Broken Legs

Happy National Quilting Month!  It's been more than a year since I updated my blog.  This is how life is, I guess.  So today, a quick update, then back to quilting...

After my last post in February 2014, we headed down to Florida for a couple of weeks.  Once home, we went house-hunting and ended up buying a 140-year old house in Jamesport, NY, on the North Fork of Long Island.  So NOT what we had planned to do, but right for us.  Nice property for a garden, 3 blocks from Peconic Bay.  Serious aesthetic issues.

Each to his own.  Pink floral on taupe -- everywhere! -- bleagh.
We put our house on the market, and I squeezed quilting in between bi-weekly open houses.  Finally finished Molly's wedding quilt plus a bonus quilt of appliques (to be shared soon).

Then I went to work on a baby quilt for my new granddaughter, Greta, born in May.

 She'll probably get it in time to take to her freshman year in college!  I finally had to admit defeat and abandon quilting for several months -- just couldn't keep up with all the threads and shreds and general sewing messiness while trying to sell the house.

As work progressed on our new house, I decided that I would move my sewing studio to Jamesport right after the holidays.  I could sew to my heart's content with no one to come in and pass judgment on either my housekeeping or my quilting.  Seemed like a plan, until I fell down the stairs just before New Year's and ended up with two broken legs!

Three months later, I am back to sewing.  Greta's quilt is long since pieced, but awaits quilting -- another UFO in the pile.  Some friends got married, time for another quilt.  Pillows needing covers for the cabin in Michigan.  A niece is getting married.  Her sister is having a baby.  Time to sew!! 
This is going to be a good year!