Just picking out fabric sometimes takes a little thought. I have two main fabrics I want to use in a small wall hanging and you can see how different they will look depending upon which background fabric I will choose. The one on the right is a solid white and the one on the left is a pale light blue solid. It changes the two main fabrics right away. I am going to be using the white because it makes the other two fabrics read the right color.
White on right and light Blue on left
I fussy cut from the main fabric flowers motifs for the center of my squares. I use this method for all my word quilts also. It doesn’t matter how much I cut off of the motif I will be filling it in with quilting. That is what makes it so interesting. I never know how it might turn out!
Center motif’s cut out
I have my six small blocks already with a little border around each. All different sizes! Now I need to figure out how to put them together in a quilt surrounded by my choice of white fabric. I will need to do some math! LOL
Small inner borders are on
I hope to be putting a lot of free motion quilting into my flower garden like my word quilt.
One of my Quiltsy team members on Etsy suggested I might like to do a wall hanging with just the motifs and my quilting. So that is my goal. Thanks Sheri! You have to go check out her store at
she has such beautiful handmade items!
My Flower Garden Finished!
Memory quilts can be made out of joy or sadness. One of the first memory quilts I ever did was about 16 years ago when I was machine quilting as a business in Virginia. A woman called me up and asked me if I could come to her house to discuss a quilt she wanted made. I usually don’t go to customers homes but something in her voice made me say yes. When I got there she brought me into her bedroom and opened up a closet full of men’s clothes. Her husband had just passed a couple of months ago and she wanted a quilt made from his clothes to give to her only daughter at Christmas. We spent all afternoon cleaning out her closet and picking what would work, what shirt and tie her daughter gave to her Dad. I have to say I was crying as much as she was but it was a good cry. I dropped off what I didn’t use to Goodwill for her and went home to wash all the clothes. When I finished the quilt and brought it to her we had another good cry.
About 10 years later when my sister was turning 50 I decided I wanted to do a memory quilt for her of her life. It was so much fun going through photo’s that I asked family members to send to me. Some were when we were really young and some were just taken. Choosing what photo’s to put into the quilt was a challenge. I used the most recent for the center, her last marathon run. Then from there some of when we were growing up, her college photo, her marriage photo and one with her child young and grown up. To make them all uniform I scanned all the photo’s into my computer and using a photo program made them all black and white. This gave the quilt some uniformity. All the photos were then sized down to a 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 square.
I then printed out the photo’s on sheets of fabric from my computer. At the time there wasn’t a lot of choice when printing photo’s onto fabric. I use www.cjenkinscompany.com Miracle Fabric Sheets. I still use them!
Now I needed to find just the right fabric. We had just lost my brother a few years before and he was fond of sending her Bird of Paradise flowers for her birthday every year. It is her favorite flower. So I did a search online because I checked every available fabric store and couldn’t find any. I found a Hoffman print and ordered it. When it came in I chose the rest of my fabric colors to match the Hoffman print.
Finished top before quilting!
I then designed the quilt to incorporate all the photos and the fabrics. This was an original design that I put together. I fussy cut out some of the flowers and then set out to lay out my photos. It came together really nice. For the quilting I just stitched in the ditch. I didn’t want anything to take away from the photo’s. At her 50th birthday party I gave her the quilt. She keeps it in her hope chest so nothing will happen to it.
McCall’s Quilting April 2006 Issue!
I submitted my quilt design to McCall’s Quilting and it was published in the McCalls Quilting Magazine April 2006 issue. I still have all the photos and then some on my computer. I scanned them all so I would have them with me and sent the originals back to their owners. You just never know when you might need to do something with a special photo.
Fabric for my inspirational word quilts are in the dryer. I wash all my fabric before I start a project. I look for fabric with a big flower or motif that I can center my word quilts with. Most came from left over pieces of scrap fabric from other projects.
Shiva paints out and ready to stencil some words onto my white Kona fabric. That is my goal today is to get 5 words stenciled onto my pieces of fabric. I have a custom order to do this week. Once the words are stenciled onto the fabric I have to let the paint sit for 24 to 48 hours before I use my iron to heat set the paint. The first time I didn’t read the instruction on my “Shiva Paints” and had to clean my iron, throw away my iron board cover and well lets just say you couldn’t tell what the words where! LOL
Next is to quilt the two that are already sandwich together and are ready to quilt. I try to piece a lot of my word quilts at once. Have all the binding and the sleeves with labels done before I start quilting. I hate to make the binding at the end when I am finished quilting. If I make my binding before I start quilting it seems I get my quilts done faster. This is not true really but in my mind I think it does!
Two ready to quilt
When my husband was getting close to the end of his military career we had one more move to make, Germany to Virginia. While packing up our house for the last major move I came across a box of all my husbands patches. The military have patches with your name, rank and others that have to do with where you are stationed and your unit. After twenty years in the military he had a small box full of patches. I decided I wanted to make him a retirement quilt with some of these patches. My first mistake was taking him fabric shopping and having him pick out a couple of fabrics that he liked. I really didn’t like the fabric he chose, but since it was for him I thought I need to work with it! LOL If you ever tried to make something out of fabric you didn’t like you might understand.
Next I found a photo of three planes in formation coming home with all the military members who were in the gulf war when we were stationed in England. My husband was a navigator on one of those planes. I had a friend who told me she could paint the planes for me onto fabric. I wanted a large panel with all three planes. It came out just the way I wanted it to look. I came up with a quick star design and put it together except for the patches. I new it would be hard to quilt around them. Even though at the time I was machine quilting for a living, I gave it to my friend who did an overall design of clouds. Subconsciously I don’t think I wanted to spend the time quilting it because of the way it looked!
Original Retirement Quilt
After a couple of years of looking at it I finally just decided to tear the thing apart. LOL Yup!!! I really didn’t like it. I saved the patches and the middle panel and dumped the rest of the quilt. I redesigned the quilt with stripes of red and blue in a simple pattern with some stars. I had collected a bunch of fat quarters of different reds and blues and one off white fabric that I liked. In the center of each star I sewed back on his patches. The center panel from the original quilt I sewed onto the back as a label and hand wrote all the places we were stationed. I did end up quilting this quilt with red and blue thread in straight lines. People loved it so much they asked for the pattern. I made a ton of copies and handed them out.
Redone Retirement Quilt
A year later a friend of ours was retiring and he commissioned me to make his retirement quilt. He wanted all of his patches in the quilt. He had a lot more than my husband. He wanted red stars in the quilt with blue and white fabric. I made a different design for him. I left a couple of places to put more patches than what he sent knowing he might stay in a couple of more years. It now hangs in his home where he looks at it everyday. He filled in all the spaces I left blank with more of his patches that he had.
Military Friend’s Retirement Quilt
I hang my husband’s quilt out on special occasions and certain holidays. When we see it we think of all those military members that are now serving our country. Our hope is that they come home to their families safe and sound.
Did you ever realize, for those of you who quilt, that you make all these quilts and you just never have time to make one just for yourself. Well that is what I decided to work on for the last two months. I don’t think it will be ready by the time winter is through here in Maine but you just never know.
I was looking through Etsy and came across these beautiful book covers by Gail Strata of QuiltSewCover.etsy.com and fell in love with her embroidery blocks. After my special order to Gail I got my seven large beautiful embroidery blocks. I decided on animal blocks. Going through all my batik fabrics, I found 6 packs of 5 inch square and a 2 packs of 2 1/2 inch tone on tone batiks and matched those to other batik yardage I have. I washed all my fabric and the blocks shrunk as well as the strips. So I cut my 5 inch squares down to 4 1/2 and added a 1 1/2 inch of my tone on tone batik around the blocks to make it a 6 1/2 inch unfinished block. Cut out a lot of 6 1/2 inch blocks from other fabric and even 12 1/2 inch large squares of some of my favorite batiks. I sat down and drafted out a simple design to put it all together.
I was going to quilt my queen size quilt in sections then put them together but I think I will just sew it all together and send it off to my long arm friend, Pat’s Machine Quilting, Essex, MA. I already have the back I ordered from SewBatiks.com who carry 108 inch batik backings. Love it!!
Also I had all these little scraps left over from cutting back my squares, I sent them off to a quilter who is also on Etsy, Sally Manke, who makes the most beautiful confetti quilts using little bits of scrap batiks. Check her out at SallyManke.etsy.com.
Hope to have it all together by March 1st! Wish me luck!
My bed quilt finished!
Chapter 2 : The Story Behind the Quilt ~ “Earth Textures”
We used to travel a lot. When we built our home in Maine we kind of settled in and didn’t travel as much but just in the local area within a days drive. I was sitting on the couch and asked my husband would he like to just take off and explore for a couple of months. Our cats had passed, the house was quiet and I felt like I needed some inspiration for my quilting. Our goal was to hit as many National Parks as we could see in about two months time frame. We packed the car with some clothes, camping gear, and headed out. We went from Maine all the way to Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, California, Utah and a several others. We camped at about a dozen national parks. Setting up a tent and heading out to hike and see as much as we could. A lot of time was spent in the car getting from one park to another but saw a lot of the country.
I came back with a lot of ideas. I wanted to try some raw edge appliqué. Something I never really did before. I always thought you had to satin stitch around any appliqué that you did, but I noticed not everyone did this! You don’t have to!
“Earth Textures” was based on some macro photo’s my husband took. A sunflower ready to open, mushrooms, a rock, a sea urchin and a leaf. Drawing on a piece of muslin I wanted the piece behind the photo’s to have movement so I drew some small flowing pieces. Cutting out each piece of material from hundreds of scraps of neutral tone color fabrics I applied an iron-on adhesive (heat n bond) to each piece separately and layered the quilt top. I left space for each of the macro photo’s that I transferred onto fabric using Miracle Fabric Sheets from http://www.jenkinscompany.com. Then I added an inner small boarder and a larger boarder to frame the piece.
Muslin is marked!
Close up of macro photo of sunflower.
Using variegated thread of brown to tan I just quilted free form up and down the quilt to add more texture to the top of the quilt. Each piece of material has a raw edge but plenty of thread stitched over it to hold them in place. Around each photo I sewed hemp to give it even more texture. Then I added round alabaster and wood beads to the quilt top. The small inner border of the quilt also has hemp sewn to it. The back is a label with another photo my husband took at Arches National Park, one of our stops.