My cousin passed away unexpectedly last December and I offered to make my aunt and uncle and his sister a memory quilt from my cousin's old shirts, shorts and pants (no t-shirts!). I wanted the quilts to look like traditional pieced quilts, not what I had always seen done for memory quilts - with large squares of fabric from shirts sewn together in a 1-square pattern (click here to see what I'm talking about).
I had see this quilt on Instagram, and liked the idea of making a string quilt. I thought it would be a way to mix a lot of fabrics successfully, but wasn't sure how I wanted to construct the blocks. The "Blue Strings" baby quilt that I just blogged about was my first attempt at constructing string blocks. The primary color baby string quilt was my second attempt (though it's still waiting to be quilted).
The two different construction methods that I used worked well enough, but after making these 2 quilts, I decided that with my cousins shirts I didn't want to mix all the different fabrics in one block and I didn't want to have to tear out foundation paper. In the end, I didn't use either method that I tested, and instead tried something new entirely, and I loved it.
For my blocks, I cut apart the shirts and pants/shorts to make them in to the biggest flattest pieces that I could. I also left pockets and buttons where I could.
Next, I cut 12 1/2" squares from the biggest pieces I had (the backs and arms of shirts and the legs of pants), and cut the rest of the smaller pieces in to strips of varying widths (from 1 1/4" - 2 3/4"). Once I had everything cut and could see what I had to work with, I separated the large 12 1/2" squares in to a set of dark squares for my aunt and uncle's quilt in Wisconsin, and a set of lighter squares for my cousin's quilt in Florida. Then I went to work using the "slice and insert" method - slicing the 12 1/2" square and sewing in a strip of a contrasting fabric. I opted to use 1 fabric for all the inserted strips in each block, and tried to keep things consistent. For example, I used all the strips from the camo shorts in navy blue 12 1/2" blocks, and strips from the black and white shirt in light blue squares, etc. When I had inserted 4 strips in each square piece of fabric, I trimmed the block down to 10 1/2" square.
I backed both of the quilts with the same deer head print from Art Gallery fabrics (Hello Bear Buck), and quilted them with 1 1/2" spaced straight lines. Since some of the clothing fabrics are heavier than quilting cotton, the quilts are also a little heavier than my normal quilts, but have a lovely drape and feel to them. I was worried about incorporating things like Carhartt canvas in the quilts, but actually found that the canvas was one of my favorite fabrics to work with - the more slippery synthetic shirt fabric not so much.
I am thrilled with how these "memory" quilts turned out, and with the fact that people don't immediately recognize that the fabrics in the quilts are old shirts and pants. I think that they look like great quilts in themselves, and have special meaning to the people who will be using them.
Both quilts finish at roughly 60" square (using a 6x6 layout and 36 blocks each).
Blocks finish at 10" x 10"
For pictures of these quilts in progress, please check out #quiltsfrombeau
I feel like I haven't actually finished a quilt in a long long time, and it feels good.
This little guy was made for two reasons: the first was to try out piecing a "string" quilt using a paper tear-away foundation, and the second was to make a quilt that I could back with this particular fabric (see pic below).
I had fun pulling all these grays and blues from my fabric stash - and even had the green binding fabric on hand already. My friends tease me that I've made a lot of blue quilts lately (here, here, here, here and here), but I still love the cooling, calming feeling I get when I look at blues and grays together.
This quilt finishes at roughly 32" by 40" and I used blocks that finished at 6.5" square
I quilted it myself with straight lines spaced 1" apart, and I used my usual Warm & White batting.
I didn't love the paper foundation method that I used for this quilt - I'm never a huge fan of pulling the papers when the blocks are made (or when the quilt top is assembled). So for my memory quilts, I opted to go another way for construction. More on that soon!
August was a flurry of work and preparation during the first half of the month and then a couple of major let-downs in the second-half of the month.
For the first two weeks or so, I spent a lot of time preparing for the Sewtopia sewing retreat in Milwaukee. I cut up 7 yards of fabric for the class with Tara Faughnan, made a swap item, and finished two sets of traveling bee blocks to surprise my roomie (one of the sets of blocks were her blocks and I hoped to surprise her by returning all of them to her).
Then we got a call that my father-in-law had only hours to live (he's been fighting cancer for 2 years), and I had to cancel my trip to Milwaukee the day before I was set to leave (to stay home to watch my kids), and my husband rushed home to be with his parents. First major bummer was cancelling my trip. (My father-in-law lived through the weekend...and actually lived for two more weeks after that).
Since I wasn't able to deliver the traveling bee blocks to my friend in person in Milwaukee, I popped them in the mail to surprise her when she got back from the retreat. When, after a few days, she hadn't received the package, we tracked it and slowly figured out that it had been delivered Saturday while she was gone (it was Tuesday), and had been stolen from the lobby of her apartment complex. We lost all the blocks for two quilts. It was the last round for one set of blocks, and the other set was being returned to the person who started the quilt. Major bummer number 2.
The month ended on a very sour note, and I think that's why it's taken me a little while to get around to putting this post together. Moving on tho...
Works in Progress (WIPs):
I was happy to finish the second memory quilt top in August (above). So exciting to have an empty design wall once again.
I guess that my prep for Tara's Sewtopia class counts as a new project. I cut 7 yards of fabric in to 6 1/2" strips and had so much fun picking colors (top right) and actually ordering fabric for the project rather than just trying to pull from my stash. Friends who attended the retreat picked up the class materials for me, and I hope to start the quilt at our "quiltn' sisters" retreat in October.
August is "Back to School" in Colorado, and this year I opted to sew some boxy totes for my 4th graders to use as pencil cases. I had fun watching them pick fabrics and got a kick out of their choices (top left).
Traveling Bee Blocks:
I was really down-heartened by the loss of two sets of our traveling bee blocks. I felt terrible. Even to the point that I really didn't want to sew for a while. So many people had put so much work and thought in to their blocks. And now they were all gone - probably in a dumpster somewhere, because what thief wants quilt blocks? Regardless, below are the blocks I made, and above were all the blocks for made for each quilt. For Steph's Norwegian quilt (above right), I made two star-in-a-star blocks that were 16" square, and for Kayla's neon flying geese quilt (above left) I adapted a block by Kristi (@initialkstudio) and made 5 strips of flying geese. As always, you can check out the hashtag #iwishicouldgotootravelingquiltbee2 on Instagram for more pictures of all of our traveling quilts.
Every August my local quilt group hosts a quilt show and I had the project of making the award ribbons again this year. I've gotten the process dialed in and enjoy making and assembling the parts of the ribbons.
The other project that I finished last month was my swap item for Sewtopia Milwaukee: an English-paper-pieced pillow. I had made this ring of colorful hexagons to try out an idea for my next epp quilt, and it was tacked to my design wall partially finished. I was undecided on whether I wanted to make an entire quilt of these rings (or in the layout show in this post), and while I debated with myself on which direction to go with that quilt idea, I opted to make the block in to a pillow.
Fabric Purchased: 25.5 yards
Fabric Used: 31.5 yards
Net for the Month: -6.25 yards
Net for the Year: 45.25 yards
When I had to cancel my trip to Milwaukee, I totally tried to make myself feel better by going fabric-shopping in Denver. That little excursion netted me about 19 yards of new fabric, and then there was the 6 yards that I bought for Tara Faughnan's Sewtopia class.
I used up fabric this month by piecing together a large quilt-back (more on this later), donating some unwanted fabric to my local guild, making the bee blocks, and making a few assorted bindings and quilt backs for the memory quilts.
On to September!
July flew by! Mainly that was because I spent every spare moment hand-stitching on my blue hexie EPP project (see above). I sewed at the campsite, I sewed in the car, and I sewed on the couch...a lot. But! For those of you who read my blog post yesterday, you know that I finished the hexie's! Read more on that below...and here for my blog post.
Works in Progress (WIP): I don't feel like I really worked on any WIP's. Or maybe I should say that the projects I worked on this month became finished projects. So no WIP's to update.
New Projects: nope. None.
Traveling Bee Blocks: Yes! I did make 6 bright, fun, wonky stars for this month's round of traveling bee blocks. (See above for a quick shot of my blocks before I popped them in the mail on the way to work.) As always, you can check out #iwishicouldgotootravelingquiltbee2 for additional fun photos of all of our projects.
Finished Projects: Yes - again! This month I NEEDED to finish my local guild's star challenge project, and my blue hexie quilt. And I did! See the link above for way more pics and info on my blue hexie quilt.
Fabric Purchased: 6.25
Fabric Used: 2.75
Net for the Month: 3.5 UP
Net for the Year: 51.5 UP
I made one big fabric purchase this month: 6 yards of the Cotton + Steel fabric below to use in a class at Sewtopia Milwaukee next month. We're going to make skirts, so I thought I'd make one to go with my annual Halloween witch costume. Stay tuned on my second-ever garment-sewing attempt...
It's done! The English-paper-pieced (epp) quilt that I started April 28 is done! And in time for my local quilt show.
For those non-quilters who are reading this post, "EPP" is a hand-piecing technique used to make a quilt top using paper templates. That means that I sewed this entire quilt top by hand. For that, I'm giving myself a big old self-high-five.
I tried EPP for the first time at the Sewtopia retreat in Salt Lake City last April. I turned the block from the class project in to the pillow shown here, and then immediately started this quilt.
About a month in to this project, I decided that this was the quilt that I wanted to submit to my local guild's quilt show in August, so I put the pedal to the metal, and honestly I feel like I didn't do anything but sit on the couch and hand-stitch during any free moments that I had in July.
Since I was trying a new-to-me technique for this quilt, I decided to continue that trend and used wool batting , and cotton lawn for the backing. I wanted a light-weight, higher loft quilt that had silky soft backing. Honestly, quilting this quilt was not pleasant. The quilt-top shifted something terrible, and I had to re-baste part way through. That, my friends, is a soul-crushing thing to have to do. I love how the quilt turned out, and totally will send a quilt to a long-arm quilter to quilt with wool batting; but I myself hope to never quilt a quilt with wool batting again myself.
Having said that piece about the wool batting, I will say that I am very happy with my decision to quilt the quilt using wavy horizontal lines. I think that the lines help camouflage some of the wrinkles and puckering that were caused by the quilt sandwich shifting during quilting.
Finished Size: 65" x 73"
Method: English-paper-piecing using 2 1/2" hexagons. Papers were brought from Paper Pieces.
Batting: Quilter's Dream Wool, twin size. Purchased from the Fatquarter Shop.
Backing: Cotton + Steel Lawn solid in Magenta, also purchased from the Fatquarter Shop.
To see more pictures of this quilt in progress, check out #MyrthsBlueHexies, or see this blog post, or this one.
P.S. - We got a new (old) chair lift chair this week, and the kids and I had fun using it as a quilt photo-shoot prop today. :)
Hey, Look! It's only the 3rd of July and here I am blogging! (Patting myself on the back.)
Works in Progress (WIP):
July was a good month. I worked very diligently on the first (dark) memory Quilt (above), and got the top finished. I also laid out the background blocks for the light version of the memory quilts (below), AND - I ordered backing fabric for both. That's going to remain secret until I actually quilt the quilts tho. Let me just say that I feel like it's perfect for remembering my cousin. To see WIP pics of these quilts check out #quiltsfromBeau on Instagram.
I am really enjoying working on my blue hexie quilt (I'm still plugging along on my blue flowers), and this month I started to think about what my next big hexagon quilt would be. I didn't want to do another monochrome hexie quilt, so I decided to play with layouts that would utilize multicolored hexies. Then I began cutting all the bigger pieces in my scrap bins, along with a bunch of low-volume stash pieces.
After searching for a layout that I liked, I settled on the design on the right. You can ignore the colors shown in the design: it's very tedious to color a design using 20 colors, so I usually select 4 or 5 and just use those for the computer design. In my head I know that the quilt will have way more colors and variety. I sewed one block just to make sure that I liked how it was coming together (above left), made a mental note on what fabrics worked well (saturated ones) and then cut lots more fabric. However, now I am going back to focusing on my blue hexie quilt. For all the pictures of my blue hexie's, check out: #Myrthsbluehexies
The second new project that I started in June required me to cut apart my Kona fabric color card. I designed this star in Illustrator after a computer class at QuiltCon in February. I was very intrigued with using transparency to see how the colors interacted. I want to make the star for a challenge with my local sewing group, so I had to figure out the fabrics that would work for the overlapped parts. A friend reminded me of a FREE program designed by Anne Sullivan of Play Crafts that would help with that selection process. On her website you can upload a photo (or a jpeg of something you've designed in Illustrator), and the program tells you the Moda Bella or Kona Cotton solids that are closest to the colors in your image. How awesome is that? So I noted the fabric names, pulled them from my newly cut-apart card, checked that they looked good, and then ordered the fabrics. I really was dreading trying to match the colors on my own and was so happy to be able to use Anne's program: the "Palette Builder."
I finished my first ever hand-pieced item. Yes, I did quilt it by machine, but the whole front of the pillow (above) was pieced by hand. This pillow started as part of a class with Libs Elliott at a Sewtopia retreat in April. It was my first time trying "English paper piecing" (epp). I liked it much more than I thought I would, and the class is what spurred me to try the bigger hexies in an actual quilt (my blue hexie quilt). Can't wait to pull out this pillow next February.
Above is one of the purchases that I made at Stash Fabrics this month. I got to know Stash Fabrics when they were the pop-up shop at Sewtopia Atlanta. One of the best things about their shop is the fact that you can buy fabric in 1/4 yard cuts. Most fabric shops have a minimum cut of 1/2 yard. With my blue hexie quilts, I'm going for variety and don't want 1/2 yards of fabric - so I happily picked new fabrics from Stash and look forward to including them in my quilt (and not having a ton of blue fabric left over).
When my order arrived, it included the note below:
How cool is that?? I am a person who never ever ever wins anything. So I was very excited to receive the red and blue fat quarters of Kona. Did anyone see a pic of my purchase in the Stash newsletter?
Fabric Purchased: 25.75 yards
Fabric Used: 12.5 yards
Net for the Month: 13.25 yards UP
Net for the Year: 48 yards UP
This month I made basically 3 larger fabric purchases:
1. Christmas fabric to make pillowcases for my 3 children
2. Backing fabric for the two memory quilts
3. More blue fabric for my hexie quilt
I haven't yet used any of the Christmas or backing fabric, but I did do well immediately cutting almost all of the blue fabric. I expect big "usage" numbers when I quilt the memory quilts and make the pillowcases.
This month I noticed that making a quilt top (or almost 2) with all upcycled clothing fabric really skews (in my mind) the fabric usage and purchases. I'm not counting the converted clothes in my usages or purchases. So I made a quilt top and didn't get to say that I used any fabric, and on the same note, I didn't have to buy any fabric. I guess that it washes out in the end, but when I make a quilt top, I enjoy seeing how much fabric I used up making that top.
**Note - Since I worked on two sets of traveling bee blocks in May, I didn't have any that I worked on in June. Stay tuned for July's bee blocks!
Ugh - here it is June 13, and I am just now getting to my May Fabric Diet post. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy seeing what I use vs. what I buy; and each month it's interesting to go back through pictures to see what all I worked on this month. But somehow its super hard to motivate to write the monthly summary blog post. I'm going to do it right here and right now though.
Works in Progress: in May, I continued to work on my blue hexie english-paper pieced project (#myrthsbluehexies). I absolutely love having something to do in front of the TV at night, on road-trips, and during long kids' sports events. I need 35 full hexagon flowers, and numerous partial flowers. I believe that I am currently at about 23 full flowers done (I've done a few more since I took the above picture). I seem to be able to do about 1 per night.
New Projects: in May I began 1 new quilt using upcycled shirts, shorts and pants that belonged to my cousin who passed away unexpectedly last December. I sortof knew what I wanted to do for this quilt, and experimented on ways to construct the block. The quilt top below (finished in May) was a result of that experimentation, as was this quilt top. I like both of my experimentation quilt tops, but I wanted the memory quilts to be less wild. Is that the right word? Maybe more modern, less choppy? Since the fabrics were of varied textures, colors, and patterns, I wanted the blocks to be simpler. So when it came time to begin work on the memory quilt, I used a completely different tactic to construct, and went for a two-fabric look for each block. I am really happy with how it is going so far. You can check out #quiltsfromBeau to see more pics.
Traveling Bee Blocks: This month I worked on two sets of traveling bee blocks. I'm not sure how this worked out (I'm supposed to have 1/month), but I got to work on bright flowers on a low-volume background for my best Canadian friend Jen Johnston (top two pics - my blocks are on the left), and bright improv houses for Kristin Rauch (again, my two block are on the bottom left). All of our quilts for this year can be found at: #iwishicouldgotootravelingquiltbee2
Finished Quilts: this month I actually finished 3 quilts! The postage stamp quilt (top left) is a donation quilt, the one on the right was for a friend, and the bottom Christmas quilt is my traveling bee quilt from 2017 and I absolutely love it. I would give it a blog post...but I know I won't get to it. Let me just say here that I am so grateful for the quilty friends who contributed blocks for my quilt and I really can't wait to get it out and snuggle in it all Christmas season.
Fabric Diet Standings
Fabric Purchases: 6.5 yards
Fabric Used in Projects: 9 yards
Net for the Month: -2.5 yards
Net for the Year: 34.75 UP for the year
Small things that I'm celebrating this month:
- I only made one purchase of fabric, and that was to back my chain of diamonds quilt and make some wine bags. Both of those projects are done and fabric has been used up.
- This month I bought less fabric that any other month this year.
- I am down over all for this month (-2.5 yards)
It was a good month! I am happy about all that I accomplished and will try harder to have my June summary post out closer to the very beginning of July.
Recently, I saw this blog post by Amanda Jean Nyberg and I also read her book No Scrap Left Behind. I liked a lot of quilts in the book, but didn't necessarily want to make them with scraps. So I set out to re-envision her patterns to make quilts with fabric from my stash. For this quilt, I used rectangles and squares, rather than cast-off bits from half-square triangles as she does.
I quilted the quilt on my machine and opted for straight lines - both horizontally and vertically. I would have stopped with just the horizontal lines, but I feel that a quilt has better drape if it's quilted a little more than that would have been. So I went on to add the vertical.
60" x 64"
As mentioned above, I used several different gray and pink fabrics from my stash. The white is a Michael Miller Solid (Bright White), and the backing is Rae Ritchie for Dear Stella. I bound the quilt using sprinkle (Stardust colorway) from Cotton + Steel.
Another month has come and gone, and once again I feel like I don't have a whole lot to show for it...other than a bunch of new fabric. BUT, now that I'm looking back through photos from April, I'm realizing that I did actually sew a fair amount. It just maybe wasn't in my actual sewing room that I did the sewing. Read on!
In April I attended my 5th Sewtopia retreat. This time it was in Salt Lake City, UT and the teachers were Libs Elliott and Jacquie Gering. Libs taught curved English Paper-piecing (EPP) and we made a hexie/heart block using in her Heartbreaker EPP pattern. This was my first time trying out EPP, and I was skeptical about liking it. Thank goodness for lots of friends who do lots of EPP and all of their advice and patience in answering my questions. After getting through the hard part (the curves of the heart and the skinny triangles that make up the rest of the heart hexie), I actually liked the process of hand-sewing. I really like how the hexagons (hexies) are so big so the projects go quickly. In fact, I liked it so much, that I came home and decided to start a whole hexie quilt! Summer = road trips in my house, and these hexie blocks are going to make the perfect on-the-go project.
But back to Sewtopia: Jacquie Gering showed us how to use improv piecing (no pattern) to make house blocks. I started off with a bunch of low-volume fabrics to make up the interiors of my houses. Jacquie kept encouraging me to add fabrics with more contrast, but honestly I wasn't feeling it with the combination of fabrics that I had brought along. I finished the three houses shown below, then added a little tree for some contrast. That injection of green helped me like the project a little more, but I still didn't love it.
When I had three blocks done, I grabbed some deep "orchid" fabric and played around with that and my acid green and low-volume gray fabrics. The result: I love it! See below.
While in Salt Lake City, the only other project that I had time to work on was my Tangelo quilt that I started at Sewtopia in New Orleans (#sewtopianola). This guy is all foundation paper-pieced and takes a loooong time to put together. I think that I had two rows from NOLA, and manged to make three more in SLC. (Tangelo quilt pattern is by Carolyn Friendlander.)
When I get home from sewing retreats, I always feel super motivated to sew and create more. This time around I experimented with a second method of making string blocks (this method is way quicker, and I'll talk about it more later), and I sewed together a whole bunch of half-square-triangle scraps in to a small quilt top.
The other thing that I did at Sewtopia was buy fabric! Here are how my tallies look for April:
Fabric Diet Standings
Fabric Purchases: 46.5 yards
Fabric Used in Projects: 13.25 yards
Net for the Month: 33.25 yards
Net for the Year: 37.25 yards up
It was a big buying month. I bought 16 yards at Sewoptia, but then I also decided to treat myself to a large cut (8 yards) of my favorite fabric (maybe ever): Lizzy House's 3 blind mice in the whisper palette. I also added 4 yards of white fabric to my stash and 4 1/2 yards of the new sheep from Cotton + Steel's Panorama collection. On to May!
In March, I finished my Pumpkins Quilt that I started in October 2017. The original quilt and pattern are designed to make this quilt a "fall" quilt, but I decided to make mine specifically for Halloween. I had fun using up lots of orange scraps, and didn't exactly follow the pattern's assembly method (since I was using scraps that I had pre-cut in to squares and not strips or fat quarters). Usually I end up adapting a pattern in some way tho, so that wasn't a surprise.
I can't wait to bring this quilt out in October. Only 6 months to go...
- Pattern is Pumpkins from Cluck Cluck Sew
- Finished quilt size is 58" x 72"
- Panto (quilting) is Spiderweb from Urban Elementz
- Orange fabrics are an assortment from my stash and scrap bin
- Background fabric is Sketch from Carolyn Friedlander
- Backing fabric is Niko from Cotton + Steel's Lil' Monsters Collection