Three days, three months or three years?

April 19, 2015

“Ohhh… long did it take you to make that?”

This often-asked question is very difficult to answer. I am not an 8:00 to 5:00 automaton. I am pretty much free to sew whenever & however I choose–before 7:00 am, or late at night, or not at all, because I’m not in the mood, or family circumstances interfere.

The idea for a quilt may germinate years before the finished product takes shape; a purchased pattern may lie unused for “ages.”

If I’m designing a quilt, that alone takes an unknown amount of time. Once I have a design–or a pattern–I like to cut as much as I can before starting to sew, sort of like putting a kit together. (Oops–I left out the time it takes to shop for & choose fabrics.)

Generally I like to finish what I start, so there are not UFO’s (unfinished objects) to deal with. But there are exceptions: pieced tops that may wait for years due to running out of a main fabric, finding a technique too difficult, family situations, or just losing interest.

On the other hand, in the past week I pieced eight baby quilts & prepared backings & bindings for them. (More about that in a later post.)

So when you ask me how long it takes, you’ll get a round-about answer that’s not very specific.

Designing, Part 6: Making the border fit the quilt

March 9, 2015


The border strips are completed & ready to add to the quilt. However, there are some issues.

1. It looks too “busy” for my taste, needs a separation between the border strips & the body of the quilt.

2. Though not visible in the photo, the “whites” do not match & should be separated.

3. The twining design has to match in the corners in a pleasing manner. This will involve contrasting “coping strips” which will take care of the first two issues.

The border pattern book gave measurements for the repeat, which I divided into the side, top & bottom measurements. Of course none of them came out even, so the remainders were divided into half to get the width of the coping strips. It still took a little trial & error to make everything come out right.

Twining border added with contrasting coping strips

Twining border added with contrasting coping strips

The colored strips in the twining border are one & a half inches wide, so I added an outer border of one & a half inches to control those bias edges & “contain” the quilt.

I am happy with the results of my designing endeavor. There appears to be a little extra fullness in the borders, but the entire quilt top has not had a final pressing.


Completed Stonehenge quilt top

Completed Stonehenge quilt top

The design process is not complete, in my opinion, until the quilt is quilted & bound, with label & title.

Stay tuned…

Designing, Part 5: Making the twined border

March 5, 2015

There is not enough of my background fabric left for the border, so I’m using a different off-white. The difference is hardly noticeable unless the two fabrics are directly next to each other. (I can overcome that by adding a narrow contrasting border between the two.)

After the strip sets were made I checked the “slicing” instructions, & discovered I needed TWO strip sets of C for each unit. Made same, and then another discovery. Some of my strips needed to be 2 1/4 inches, others 2 inches. Wouldn’t you know it? I had switched some in strip set C (bottom strip set in photo).


After these minor setbacks, at last I was ready to slice the strips & sew them together into a border strip, seen on the left in the photo.

Why am I telling you all this? Because it’s all a part of the designing process. When Plan A doesn’t work, on to Plan B. Modify & adapt; make it work.

Designing, Part 4: Choosing a border

March 4, 2015

Squares on point are prevalent in the panels, but I wanted something a little more sophisticated. Browsing thru The Border Workbook by Janet Kime (Martingale & Co.), I was attracted to the Twined Border. But first the eight-inch blocks must be added to the central section.

Remember the measurements mentioned in Part 2? It didn’t work out quite that way. After my carefully calculated two-inch strips of turquoise were added, the total width was shy of the 56 inches needed. Ripit, ripit… Recut (oversize, just in case), reapply, & trim to fit. And that’s where I had to stop, pack up (sewing first; priorities, after all!) & move. Actually it was fabrics first, sewing machine last–just in case I needed to sew one more seam.

Once the moving transition was made & we were settled in, I added the rest of the blocks around the central section.

Blocks added, ready for border

Blocks added, ready for border

The Twined Border is composed of strip sets. Our present location is remote & “off the grid,” so I have to plan sewing so that ironing/pressing can be done when the generator is on. (There’s solar power backup;  I can use sewing machine anytime, but appliances with heating elements are a different story.)

Time out for temporary relocation

March 4, 2015

Due to my husband’s health needs, we have been living with a son for several months at Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, largest fishing port in the U.S. Now it’s the other son’s turn…

Over the weekend we relocated to the McCarthy/Kennecott area, which is in eastern Alaska near the Canadian border. Few people live in this area, but it is visited annually by thousands attracted by the old copper mining town of Kennicott.

Kennecott Copper Mill

Kennecott Copper Mill





Designing, Part 3: Choosing a block

February 25, 2015

The Stonehenge panels feature printed borders of diamonds. To continue this effect, I am using the Four Patch Art Square block from the EQ7 Block library, the Diamond in Square category.

Four Patch Art Square, EQ7EQ7 Four Patch Art Square

My eight-inch blocks

My eight-inch blocks

Designing, Part 2: Developing a plan

February 24, 2015

So, I have two panels, each  23″ x 42″ (after removing the borders which I saved for possible sashing). Should I put them side by side vertically in the center of the quilt? Or horizontally in the center of the quilt? (I tend to like keeping everything symmetrical.) Sharyn Craig is always urging the “What If…” approach. What if I split one of them? Yes, I like that idea! But then, do I want them vertical? Or horizontal? After some consideration, I chose the vertical layout.

I tried using Custom set in EQ7 but did not have the patience to figure it out, so shifted to graph paper.


The binding (prepared earlier for the planned wall hangings) was pressed open to use as sashing. Of course there wasn’t quite enough, & my combined  center with sashing came out to 47 1/2″ x 53 1/2″. It took some piecing, trimming & shimming to get to 48 1/2 x 53″. My plan is to surround the large center medallion with eight-inch blocks, so I still need to add a two–inch strip on each side to get to 56 1/2″. There is no more of the beige sashing, so it will be a contrasting strip.

Panels combined into a center medallion

Panels combined into a center medallion

Tomorrow: choosing a block

Designing a quilt from start to finish

February 24, 2015

About three years ago I bought these Stonehenge panels. The design intrigued me for longarm quilting–thread painting, so to speak, to make them appear pieced. I added borders, made backing & binding, even labels, & put them aside to do the quilting later.

Two Stonehenge panels with borders

Two Stonehenge panels with borders

A year or so later I came across this lovely Northcott fabric (lower left corner).  It was on sale (smile), so I  bought a bunch.


It coordinated so well with the panels that I decided to do a queen size quilt top.  Currently the panel & its coordinates are not easily available. Because of my husband’s failing health, we are living with our son in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, & there isn’t a quilt shop for hundreds of miles (frown)!

Crab delivery, Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Crab delivery, Dutch Harbor, Alaska

After extensive browsing on line, I ordered a couple of tan/brown/rust Stonehenge fabrics. They are darker than I wanted (computer coloring isn’t as true as I’d like), but they are working out okay, in addition to some other Stonehenge remnants & Fairy Frost blues.

This post is getting lengthy, so in the next one I’ll continue with my design process.

Looking both ways

February 23, 2015

January is a good time for reflecting on the activities of the past year & planning ahead, but January has come & gone…  One of my favorite quotes is “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

Last summer my husband developed an extremely painful staph infection in his spine & spent weeks in the hospital. His recovery has been slow & family members are helping me with his full-time care.

I continue to quilt; it’s like therapy when I need to corral my thoughts & feelings. During 2014 I completed 70 projects (some were small), & did longarm quilting on 100 quilts for customers, charity & myself. I also taught three classes (a fourth was cancelled due to low enrollment).

Midnight Blooms at Sylvias 2014

Midnight Blooms, Judel Niemeyer, Cut Loose Press

Night Sky Just Sew 2014

Night Sky, Jaybird Quilts, learning to use the Sidekick Ruler

Paint Chips Just Sew 2014

Paint Chips, cover quilt from Stack, Shuffle & Slide by Karla Alexander

Metro Waves Just Sew 2014

Metro Waves, Sew Kind of Wonderful, using Quick Curve Ruler

Moda Classics

November 13, 2014

Several months ago the chairman of our Quilters Guild Service committee gave me five bolts of a Moda line called Classics, a linen/cotton mix. There were three florals & two solids . One of the bolts was unopened; the others were nearly full bolts except for one of the solids. My instructions were to make quilts for the Guild, no time limit.

 Service linen-cotton fabrics 2013

What fun to have all the fabric I wanted that coordinated! And there was enough for the backings, too! First I cut pieces for Charlotte, a free pattern from Timeless Treasures.



To take advantage of the lovely florals, I designed a Lone Star

Lone Star That Isn't Alone

               Lone Star That Isn’t Alone

& a Carpenter Star, fussy cutting the stars with Jan Krentz’ diamond rulers.

Broken  Star Carpenter Wheel

          Broken Star Carpenter Wheel

Smaller pieces were cur into Lucky Stars, one of my favorite patterns,

Lucky Stars Alternates

  Lucky Stars Alternates

& there was enough left to cut into nine inch squares for this one.

Nine Inch Squares

      Nine Inch Squares

Making quilts is something I love to do, and making them for people in the community who have needs is especially fulfilling.