52 Quilts 2016 · Quilts

52 Quilts: Number 7 – All Blue

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This is part one of two posts on the biggest quilts I’ve made so far and the special little boys who own them.

The first two quilts I made, I did simultaneously in a quilting class I took when my boys had just turned 2 and moved into toddler beds. (Because when you’re a twin mom you do everything twice!) I used fabric I picked out when I was pregnant that never got made into quilts before they were born. Then a couple years later I thought I would make them twin-sized quilts before they moved into larger beds. I bought pirate fabric, then they sort of outgrew that before those quilts were made. For their 5th birthday they got twin-sized beds, but no quilts. By then I thought I’d do superheroes, but that didn’t happen either. They turned 6 in November, and still slept with their now-too-small toddler bed quilts. They love those toddler bed quilts. They called them “Snuggle Power” and believe they are imparted with love and snuggles from Mommy. My goal was to get them quilts done by their birthday, then by Christmas. You can see where this is going…

I asked each kid what he wanted and my son Joshua said, “Just Blue.” This kid LOVES blue, almost to obsession. Every coloring sheet from school comes back solid blue. Turkey? Blue. Gingerbread Man? Blue. Everything, always blue. So I went online and found at least a dozen different blue tonal fabrics, some with fun little things on them, some more subtle. There are jellyfish and whales, octopi, Japanese characters, feathers, polkadots, solids, swirls, and stripes. Each one a different shade of blue.

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Then, for some reason I decided on 5” squares made into half-square triangles. Which took forever. There are 300 squares. My goal to have the quilt tops done and ready to ship out for quilting by Halloween kept slipping further and further behind. I missed that goal, then they still weren’t done by Thanksgiving.

The good news is I did finish them over Thanksgiving and I sent them out to be quilted, but not in time to be done by Christmas. I was bummed, but my kids had plenty of other gifts for Christmas and here in Chicago it is cold for several months after the new year, so I knew they’d get plenty of use this year.

I sent them to Missouri Star Quilt Co, and they did an amazing job. I would definitely recommend their service. I haven’t outsourced quilting before, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I know there is no way I could have done this beautiful work on my tiny home sewing machine. For this quilt I went with a stars and swirls design, which you can kind of see in this photo.

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The quilts arrived a couple weeks ago, I just haven’t had a chance to get decent photos of them. The lover of all things blue is thrilled with his All Blue quilt.

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And his brother is happy too. You can read more about his quilt in my next post.

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52 Quilts 2016 · Pattern Test · Quilts

52 Quilts: Number 6 – Geometric Millenium Falcon

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Last year I went down the Rabbit Hole of online craft swaps, and found it an excellent way to try new things I might otherwise never do. One of the projects that seemed so far out of reach was foundation paper piecing, which is sort of a paint-by-numbers method of creating complex images from fabric. I have done quite a few paper-pieced projects since I started last summer, and one of the pattern designers I absolutely adore is Kristy from Quiet Play. I love how well-designed her patterns are and they are so cute too. When I decided to host a swap myself, a May the 4th Star Wars mini quilt swap, I admit I got a little fan-girlish when Kristy not only signed up to participate in the swap, but she designed a handful of new Star Wars inspired patterns inspired by my swap.

When she asked for testers for these patterns, I squealed and raised my virtual hand yelling “Me! Me! Me!”

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I got to test the new Geometric Millennium Falcon pattern. (Free download from Craftsy) There is also a solid version, as well as geometric and solid versions of AT-AT and TIE Fighters.

First of all, the Millennium Falcon is a huge favorite of mine so I loved making this. I plan to make one for my son to match his new Star Wars Quilt, but this one is for me. I participated in a fabric swap last year where each participant sent in 5×5” squares of Low-Volume prints and we each got back an assortment. The grey and beige and text and patterns were perfect for the Falcon.

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I love the texture the low-volume adds and I was excited to find a project for this assortment of fun prints. (I am also delighted that I have a much left!)

The pattern was easy to follow and went together very smoothly. There was only one issue I had and that was with a font printing weird on one of my computers, so I think it was totally me, not the pattern. If you’re new to paper piecing, don’t worry about jumping in with these patterns, they are easy to follow and the one thing that I struggled with most was weird angle pieces, but Kristy has this awesome tutorial for those too!

I had a tiny bit of scrap of this Millennium Falcon fabric, just wide enough for the backing. I did a simple wavy-lines quilting treatment on it, practicing for another quilt project. It’s simple but I like it.

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I love my new mini quilt, the fabric, the design, but most of all that it’s MINE!

If you have a Star Wars lover in your life, you should definitely check out these patterns, after all, they are awesome and FREE!

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52 Quilts 2016 · Quilts

52 Quilts: Number 5 – JiJi Mini Quilt

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The third swap I shipped out last week was for an awesome Birthday Swap I am in all year. Each month has a birthday girl and all the people in the group send a package to that person. January’s recipient is a big Studio Ghibli fan so I made this little JiJi the cat mini quilt and some other fun Ghibli-inspired goodies.

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Jiji is the cat in Kiki’s Delivery Service, which is such a cute movie. I am a big Ghibli fan too, so I had a great time with this one.

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The pink background fabric reminded me of Japanese fans and the flowers on the back of Cherry Blossoms. They’re like hints of Japan without being overly Japanese I guess. I also really like the bright color contrasting with the black cat.

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As an additional project I used the Silhouette machine to cut vinyl and make this mug to look like the one in the movie. I think it is a pretty good homage to the movie. I added the outline of Kiki and Jiji on the broom to the back and couldn’t resist a little Soot Sprite on the bottom. (I made a couple extra Soot Sprites and now they’re on my sewing machine.)

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And finally, I made a Tortoro zip pouch. The fabric is from Spoonflower. I had some left from a Ghibli Swap last year, and I used the Noodlehead Wide Open Pouch tutorial, which makes a great little travel pouch. The bottom portion is navy linen and it is even lined.

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I rounded out the extras with a Totoro Polaroid block, since the birthday girl was also in the Polaroid swap I did a couple months ago, a Kiki’s Delivery service Key Fob and some birthday cake gum.

#swapaddict · 52 Quilts 2016 · Craft Swap · Quilts

52 Quilts: Number 4 – Princess Peach Video Game Swap Quilt

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Sometimes I have a hard time deciding what I am going to do with a project but for the Video Game Craft Swap, I read my partner’s info and knew right away what I was going to do: Princess Peach Pixel Quilt. I found a pattern on Pinterest for a Perler bead pattern and used that to plan the quilt.

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The design has 700 squares, which I cut 2”x2” from mostly tonal fabrics I had in my stash. I did debate whether to make a mini quilt or a lap quilt, but I think the design would have lost something if I cut down the number or squares and if I just made them each 1” I might have gone insane.

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I used a shortcut method for the design. Once the squares were cut, I divided the pattern up into 20×20 pieces and arranged them onto fusible interfacing. After they were fused, I was able to fold each of the columns and stitch. It kept everything aligned and made stitching together 700 pieces much more manageable.

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I used this awesome Mario fabric for the back, which I made slightly wider with some fun polkadots on the edge and bound it with pink hearts.

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When I am starting a project, I usually have an idea of what the end product will be, but it’s not terribly often that the outcome is even better than I imagined. This one was really hard to send off, though I am confident it will be loved in its new home.

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I usually try to include a few extras with swap packages. Some of the swaps require them, others are optional. I think it is fun to find or create small things on the theme that the recipient will enjoy.

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I found the Mushroom and Question Block candies last month, and I did the Princess Peach decal with my new Silhouette Cameo machine. I made Pacman magnets with Perler beads and even made a little Pacman Keyfob.

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#swapaddict · 52 Quilts 2016 · Craft Swap · Quilts

52 Quilts: Number 3 – Winning Love Rainbow Mini Quilt

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I actually finished this the first week in January but since I made this spectacularly rainbow-y mini quilt for a mini quilt swap I waited to share. Last year I signed up for my first (of many) craft swaps and I got crazy addicted to swaps. I have enjoyed swapping so much, I have made lots of virtual friends in this awesome swapping community on Instagram and had a lot of fun. I even hosted my own little swap, the ROYGBIV charm swap, where each participant sent in 56 five-inch squares of an assigned color and everyone got back a rainbow assortment. This little quilt is mostly made from those fabrics, they were perfect.

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The Winning Love Mini Swap is inspired by last year’s Marriage Equality ruling and it shipped during No Name Calling Week. It’s honestly a little intimidating making something for someone who is talented and creative. I enjoy the opportunity to try out things I might not make otherwise and I hope that my work is appreciated by the recipients.

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I love the colors and I hope my swap partner enjoys the mini quilt. I found this super colorful, rainbow swirly fabric last year and I knew it would be a perfect back for a rainbow quilt. I had a tiny bit of the rainbow stripes that I was thrilled was enough to bind it.

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52 Quilts 2016 · Quilts

52 Quilts: Number 2 – Batman Lap Quilt

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Would you believe I actually made two quilts in a week? I finished the first quilt as a last-minute baby gift and I decided that the newly minted big brother needed one too. It was sort of a cheater quilt, as I already had the fabric pulled for another project I didn’t end up doing. I only had a half yard of the Batman fabric, so I added in a yard of the dark blue polka dots. I think a lot of people don’t think polkadots are for boys, but I sort of love this combo for this quilt. It makes me think of the retro comic book effect. I used the superhero comic fabric for the back with all the “Pow” and “Zoom” bubbles.

The real secret to this quilt being done in a single day was it was quilt-as-you-go. To be honest, I have read tutorials about making table runners and the like with the quilt as you go technique, but I don’t know if I have ever seen it done with a lap-sized quilt. The backing is width-of-fabric by about a yard and a half. Then I cut strips, also width of fabric, from each of the other fabrics. My not-very-scientific plan was just take the measurement I had of the Batman fabric and divide it in thirds. Then I did 3” by WOF for the orange and actually did 9” by WOF for the dots, which I ended up cutting one strip in half to even out the pattern. Non-scientific indeed.

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If you haven’t done quilt-as-you-go, there are certainly no shortage of tutorials and videos online, but the gist is that you have the backing and batting already sandwiched, and as you’re piecing the front, you’re quilting it to the back. In this case, I arranged the stripes the way I wanted them then figured out the middle and started there. The middle-most fabric went wrong-side-down with the orange stripe that would be next to it right-sides-together. Then I stitched the width of the fabric with the 1/4” seam allowance, folded the orange strip up and pressed. I repeated with each strip until I reached the end then rotated it and started back at the middle and worked out toward the other end. Really, it’s only 9 sewn stripes the width of the fabric.

One thing I did to try to keep things lined up was lay out the backing and the batting, and then I basted around the edges so nothing got folded over or too wrinkly. I think that made a huge difference. Like I said, I have only really seen this done on a much smaller scale.

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52 Quilts 2016 · Quilts

52 Quilts: Number 1 – Baby Quilt

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I finished my first quilt for my 52 Quilts in 2016 Project, and it is already in the mail for its intended recipient. I wanted to do a quick quilt from fabric I had on hand as a baby gift. It’s a pretty basic 4-square design, I didn’t really follow a pattern, just did some quick math on squares and seam allowances. I added the construction vehicle with my embroidery machine after I had it all pieced, somehow that bright orange square really needed something. I used scraps from the rest of the quilt for the appliqué. The back is just the same orange, no piecing.

I just started doing free motion quilting and I admit I am not very skilled at it. I am trying to get it to be a little smoother and less jerky looking but I do love the texture it has when it’s washed.

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52 Quilts 2016 · Projects · Quilts

52 Quilts

52 Quilts in 2016
52 Quilts in 2016

It’s already January 2nd, so I am not off to a great start for any year-long project launch, but I am going to do it anyway! I started a baby quilt a couple of days ago for a friend’s new baby boy and as I was digging though my cache of fabric I though, gee, I could really make a lot of fun quilts from some of these. What if I made a quilt a week this year? Once I had the idea it just kept festering until I knew I had to at least try.

I sat down to brainstorm what I thought I could make just from what I have on hand or what I had already planned. I quickly came up with more than 20 projects just from my fabric stash.  My fabric stash is a little different from a lot of quilters. Until last year, I had been making primarily kids’ clothes and doing custom embroidery. I have a ton of character fabrics, kids’ fabrics, novelty and bright colors. (Which is actually what I love in fabrics, bright colors and fun designs.) I don’t have a ton of high-end designer fabrics, though I think I have enough fun stuff on hand to make at least a dozen baby and kid-size quilts.  I do have some quilt-shop caliber fabrics I can make a couple lap quilts and I am also signed up for about ten craft and mini-quilt swaps so far this year. I know I  can easily come up with 52 quilt projects. I already have some works in progress for Mini quilt swaps, and have been planning a twin-sized bed quilt for my nephew.

For the purposes of this initiative I am defining a quilt as anything larger than 12″x12″ so I plan to count any of the mini quilts I make for swaps. I plan to make some quilts for friends, new baby gifts and hope to donate at least 20. If I finish it this year, I am counting it, even if I started it last year or many years ago. I hope that I can complete at least half of the quilts with fabric I already have on hand.

There will be some weeks when I don’t finish one, I am sure. I’ll keep a running tally on this blog. (Which I will try to be better about updating, too.) I don’t have a lot of time to sew, Sunday is the only day when my husband and I are both off so I can lock myself away without fear the kids will tear down the house, but that’s also the day we do family activities. I have summer mostly off work, so hopefully I will have more time to create, but less money to spend on supplies I might need.

I know I will need batting and backing for most of the quilts, I have a lot of cuts that are 1/4″ to 1 yard, but not much that I have enough to back a quilt. Hopefully I can find a bulk deal on batting and stock up. I figure I can work out the details along the way.

Let the quilting begin!


Sending a hug across the country


DSC_0315A good friend I have known since college was very badly injured in a freak accident last weekend. It was shocking and I couldn’t get my mind off her all weekend. She lives a thousand miles away and we haven’t seen each other in a couple years, but I felt like I had to do something. I decided to put my concern into something productive so I made her a lap quilt. She has a long recovery ahead of her so I hope it will provide comfort.

I wanted to get it done as quickly as I could so I could get it in the mail ASAP. I started on Tuesday this week and finished Wednesday evening. Yep. That quick. I pulled all the fabrics from what I had on hand, no rhyme nor reason other than they were bright, cheery colors. My thought was the cheerier the better. I did a basic assortment of Half-Square Triangles and sort of randomized them. I tried to keep the same fabrics from being too close, but it’s not perfect. What it is, though, is perfectly cheery.

Another first for this quilt, I did the entire thing free-motion quilted using a meandering stippling look, which was the largest project I have done without straight-line quilting. I LOVE the texture it made. The fabric has tons of fun patterns and bright colors, and the free-motion quilting adds an extra layer of texture on top of that. It looks crinkly and cozy once I washed it.


The back is pretty basic, it’s a navy fabric with little arrows. I pieced leftover scraps for a pop of color on the back where I had to seam the two pieces. The binding is a grey polkadot to act as a buffer between the basic navy and the wildly colorful front. I think it ties together perfectly.


Honestly I could not be happier with how it finished. The colors are bright and vibrant, just like my friend, and I hope it provides her with comfort while she recovers. It was made with love for an old friend, when I couldn’t find the words, I did what I could and created a hug I could put in a box and send across the country.



Projects · Quilts

London Calling Quilt

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I finished up this custom quilt a while ago, but waited to post it, lest the recipient’s surprise be spoiled by social media. This was a custom order for my friend’s cousin who is in love with all things British. We were at the Sewing Expo together when we found this fabric and she said, “I want this in a quilt for my cousin!” even though it wasn’t quite enough for a quilt, and it was out of print fabric. I got creative and ordered more from two different places online and the Union Jack panel I custom printed from Spoonflower which is avery cool site you can upload your own artwork, or in my case an unlicensed artwork, and have it printed on fabric. I could not be happier with how this turned out! The flag is a solid piece, printed, but I traced all the lines with quilting so it has a nice dimension. The back fabric was in short supply so I ended up splitting it with matching fabric in both red and blue, which I love. And who doesn’t love a striped border, especially when it ties together all the colors.

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