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Juliet’s Quilt

My Urban Lattice quilt is complete. This quilt makes me very, very happy. Very.

My sister “commissioned” me to make a quilt for her long-time best friend, who was having her first baby. But the parents-to-be weren’t finding out the baby’s gender ahead of time—and neither were some friends of ours who are due in March. Since I wanted to make two baby quilts, and I didn’t want to make both of them gender-neutral, why not take a chance and make one boy quilt and one girl quilt? My Modern Meadow quilt was the boy version, and this one, made via Cara’s excellent Urban Lattice quilt-along, would be the girly version.

One of the babies is here now, and she’s a girl, so little Juliet gets the Urban Lattice quilt. It’s all done, it’s washed and dried and crinkly soft, and it will be in the mail later today, headed to its new home.

The quilting is a long-arm pattern called “Wind Swirls,” and I can’t imagine a more perfect quilting design for these Far Far Away prints. It’s like a magical breeze just picked you up and dropped you into a fantasy fairy-tale world. You see? It’s just happy. : )

The back is mostly Kona Stone, with an angled strip of half-square triangles in the FFA prints. I thought about just piecing a straight strip down the back, but with all the angles lines on the front, I thought this would be more fun. (More work too, but worth it.)

I’ll be sad to see this one go. But since my sister was paying me to make one of these quilts for her friend, and that was the first baby due anyway, I designed both quilts with this particular baby and mommy in mind. And this Urban Lattice quilt, especially, strikes me as just perfect for them. I’ve known the mother for many years myself, since she’s so close to my sister, and I’ve done a fair amount of design work for her—I even designed her wedding invitations and her baby shower invites. She’s got a great sense of style and I think she genuinely appreciates beautiful handmade things. So I know this quilt is headed to a good home and that it will be right where it belongs. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Here are the specifics:
Design: Paper-pieced via Cara’s Urban Lattice quilt-along (thank you, Cara, for a great quilt-along!)
Fabric: Kona Bone, Kona Stone, Far Far Away II by Heather Ross
Binding: Kona Stone
Size: 48″ by 57″
Quilting: “Wind Swirls” pattern in Parchment thread, done by long-arm quilter at LQS

P.S. Linking up to Sew Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations.

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Three Generations

Eighty-eight years ago, a little girl was born on a farm in rural Michigan. She was the second-youngest of nine kids. As a child, this little girl watched her own mother, who was the daughter of German immigrants, sew and quilt—something she did far more out of necessity than enjoyment. It was the Great Depression, and those nine kids needed clothes and bedding. Buying a quilt from a store would have been an unthinkable luxury.

And so, the little girl learned to sew and quilt too, just like her mother before her. It was just one of the many chores that needed to be done around the farm. Yet another item on that list called “Women’s Work.”

Three of my grandma’s original five blocks

The little girl grew up, moved away from the farm, and had five kids of her own. Money was still tight, but not quite like it used to be. She still sewed and quilted here and there, but the necessity of it declined steadily as the years passed. Quilting became something she did more out of habit than anything else. Around the time her youngest child moved out of the house, she hand-pieced five curved pinwheel quilt blocks. Then she put those blocks away and never sewed another. Why? Maybe it was her arthritis flaring up. Or maybe she realized she didn’t have to quilt anymore. What had once been a chore no longer was. Store-bought bedding was well within reach financially. And she finally had a little time to herself, to do exactly what she really wanted to do, probably for the first time in her adult life.

Now the little girl obviously wasn’t a little girl anymore. In fact, she had three adult daughters of her own. And those grown-up girls had all learned to sew too. Sewing was, after all, still on that list of Women’s Work. Even if these girls didn’t end up needing this particular skill, they were still expected to have it. So they all dabbled in it a little.

But the world was changing. It was becoming less expensive to buy bedding than it was to make a homemade quilt. Not only that, but that Women’s Work list? Was getting turned upside down. Women could do many things now that weren’t on that list. In fact, for a while, it became necessary for some women to put the list aside. They had to temporarily distance themselves from it, in order to prove they could do other things. One of the original little girl’s grown daughters now had a daughter of her own, and that little girl grew up thinking sewing was just about the most uncool thing imaginable. Seriously. She wouldn’t be caught dead sewing her own clothes, bags, or a quilt.

But of course, as that third-generation girl got older, the world changed yet again. Sewing is no longer a life-sentence to dorkiness. In fact, “handmade” is experiencing a coolness renaissance. Maybe this third generation has decided that we’ve done enough to prove ourselves as women (or at least we’re done trying). Maybe we’re tired of made-in-China mass-produced comforters and clothing. Maybe all the other things that might keep us from quilting and sewing are now taking a back seat to creative expression. In fact, for so many of us, it’s a wonderful way of expressing ourselves and getting a little more fulfillment in life (and we’re lucky that we have the time and money to spend on it).

Whatever the reason, I have my mom and my grandma to thank for the fact that I am able to quilt today. I don’t do it out of necessity. I don’t do it because it’s expected of me as “women’s work.” I do it because I love it. How lucky does that make me? (And all of us!) In a way, I can do it only because of the inroads women made in the previous two generations.

So, a few months ago, I took those five blocks that my grandmother hand-pieced 40 years ago and made 12 more. My mom made a handful as well. And we put them all together into this quilt: The Three Generations Quilt. I tried to make it both a little vintage and a little modern. A little fun and a little serious. I tried to put a little piece of all three of us in there. I tried to make it representative of our stories: Three generations, and what sewing and quilting has meant to us, as women and as creative people.

Size: 86″ x 93″ (queen size – the picture above is on a king-size bed)
Design: Based on Red Pepper Quilt’s Pinwheel Baby Quilt
Fabric: The pinwheels are mostly vintage fabric (my grandma gave a lot of her unused fabric to me). I supplemented that with some of my own, mostly Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt. The centers are Moda Bella Solids Baby Yellow. The white pinwheel background is Kona White (although I think my grandma’s blocks used repurposed sheets). The borders around the blocks are from Darlene Zimmerman’s Paper Dolls line, and the sashing is Kona Tan.
Back: Paper Dolls again, plus I pieced blocks of scraps down one side.
Quilting: Stippling in white thread, done by the long-arm quilter at my local quilt shop.

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Tommy’s Quilt

Well, I don’t have a new reveal for the Blogger’s Quilt Festival. But I can show you one of my favorite quilts that I made this year, and it hasn’t yet made an appearance on this blog—so that’s just as good as a new reveal!

This is my “Vroom Vroom” quilt. I made this quilt for my nephew’s first birthday. It was the first “boy” quilt I ever made, and I was extremely indecisive about it. I didn’t want the finished quilt to look too babyish, since he was already turning one by the time I got around to making it. (I had a newborn at home myself!) I went through several different possible designs, using as many different fabric lines, before finally settling on this one, which is based on a Moda Bake Shop tutorial by Natalia from Piece N Quilt. I just eliminated the applique and a couple rows of blocks to make the quilt smaller, and ta da—I had a sweet and simple little boy quilt.

Here are some of the reasons I love this quilt: 1. This is one of two quilts that I’ve quilted myself on a long-arm (rented at a local quilt shop). 2. Love that stripey binding. 3. This fabric is thoroughly boyish, not too babyish, and yet it’s super cute. That’s not an easy combination to find! 4. This was one of my first forays into bold, geometric, modern quilt designs. From the minute I started piecing it, I was hooked on this look. 5. It was a gift for someone special in my life.

Is there an aspect of this quilt that I don’t love? Yes: The back. I wanted to do some piecing on the back, but I just plain ran out of time. And the blue polka-dot fabric I used isn’t ideal, but I had no choice. I had to pick from whatever was available at my local quilt shop—which is to say, not much. (Fortunately, I’ve since found an excellent quilt store that is a little further away, but carries plenty of modern fabric, so it’s always worth the drive!)Aside from the back, I’m really happy with how this one turned out. I think it represents a bit of a turning point in the evolution of my quilting, and I hope it’s being used and loved in its new home right now.
Now head on over to the Blogger’s Quilt Festival at Amy’s Creative Side and check out all the other great quilts! What an amazing display and a fun event!

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Kissing Fish Baby Quilt

Good news! This tutorial is now available as a full-fledged PDF pattern, totally free of charge, on Craftsy! Click here to download the pattern.

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Single Girl Quilt

I think the world may have just tilted on its axis. I have completed a bed-sized quilt.

A king-size quilt, in fact. Like, to use on a real bed. It will keep us warm when we are sleeping. Yes, it’s true: I have made something that is not only pretty, but useful as well. What a great feeling.

So, details: The fabric is mostly Cherish Nature (so I’m calling this quilt “Nature Girl”), but there is some Neptune, Al Fresco, and a few other odds and ends thrown in. If you intend to make the Single Girl pattern, you really do need 36 different prints—I had initially hoped to get away with fewer, but this quilt achieves its randomness in a highly organized, structured way, requiring all 36 prints. The quilt back is pieced as well. (And became even more pieced than I had originally intended when the back ended up being too small for the long-arm due to a measuring error.) It was quilted by the talented ladies at my local quilt shop.

Of course, because I must torture myself by second-guessing every design decision I have ever made, I’m questioning my choice of the “bubbles” quilting pattern. I’m thinking the circles-over-circles might be just a little too … circle-happy. Also, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that the pieced rings aren’t perfect circles (they’re more squared off), while the bubbles in the quilting are perfectly round. But I chose the bubbles because I wanted to do something other than stippling. I like stippling, but since there’s so much of it out there right now, I figured if I could do something different, I should. The only other pattern that caught my eye was a swirly one, and I didn’t think that would work with the minimalist, modern aesthetic I was going for. And you know what? Now that I’m talking through my reasoning for the choice, I’m feeling a little better about the bubbles. Ah, blog, you are serving your purpose already.

Now I just need to get going on some shams and throw pillows. And maybe some curtains. And some artwork. Oh yeah, and I still have to bind this puppy. Nooooo problem.