Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Clarksdale Crossroads

I recently completed a scrap quilt I had been working on for some time. The traditional block is called Arkansas Crossroads. The title of my quilt is Clarskdale Crossroads because it reminds me of a special trip. (We did cross the border into Arkansas, but didn't spend any time there.)

In June of 2016, my husband Bill and I made the pilgrimage to the legendary blues crossroads in Clarskdale, Mississippi. He bought this pretty resonator guitar on his 50th birthday. If you are not schooled in Mississippi Delta Blues, start here with Robert Johnson

OK, back to the quilt. I had cut piles and piles of 2.5" squares in early 2016. I started sewing together 4-patches sometime after the big trip. My brain can't handle randomness, so I sorted the squares into warm and cool piles so I could sew a warm to a cool. The alternating white blocks have one warm and one cool triangle.

When I made the stitch and flip units, I had a BIG pile of bonus triangles left over. They are the gift that keeps on giving! I'm still playing with those little cuties.

 The top was done in April 2017 shortly after my daughter's wedding. I was pretty busy after that getting her wedding quilt done, so Crossroads sat for a while, waiting.

I finally quilted it in February of this year. It was easy to decide on a quilting design for the colorful bits. It's a loopy continuous curve in a peachy Superior Sew Fine thread.

It took a while to decide on a design for the white sections. I actually tried something, didn't like it, and picked it out. I settled on a walking foot design. Straight lines first, then gentle curves. I was able to stitch diagonally edge to edge. No threads to bury!

I added a free motion fill only to the diamond shapes around the outside edges. When I went to my stash to look for a binding fabric, I was so excited to find this print that mimics the shape of the quilting design!

I knew I was cutting it close. I really didn't want to cut another full strip of binding fabric to fill that little gap, so I didn't! I reached into my scrap basket and found a bit of blue that matched the Philip Jacobs print on the back. That seemed like the perfect place to insert my label.

Since I had done some marking to guide my walking foot lines, the quilt needed to be rinsed. Imagine my distress when one of the purple prints bled! After the second rinse with color catchers, the purple came clean, but...

one of the reds ran! I was persistent, and was finally able to release all the excess dye by washing in warmer water. I was sweating for a few days there!

Ahh. I love a freshly completed quilt!

Clarksdale Crossroads
64" X 80"
Started July 2016
Top done April 2017
Quilted & bound February 2018
Completed 3/9/18

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ombre Pyramids

 In this episode of Way-Back Wednesday, I present Ombre Pyramids. This is one of my favorite finishes ever, so I'm not sure why it has taken me over a year to blog about it.

After taking a workshop with Vanessa Christenson, I was excited to play with a hoarded jelly roll of her ombre fabrics. I had to supplement the jelly roll with a few extra strips from yardage I had handy.

I had seen Nancy Rink's Prism Quilt design and thought it would be a great fit for the ombres. The top came together really quickly over a couple of days in July. I happened to have a 60 degree ruler in my stash. Where do I get these things?

The project didn't make it to the top of the "quilt it" list until November. Four months is a fairly short ripening time in my world. 

I had fun playing with the idea of combining straight line (walking foot) quilting with free motion.

I'd call this a successful binding estimation. I'd rather have only 1/2" left over than be short by 1/2". 
(We realized I am literally 1/2" too short for the zip-line excursion we want to go on in Alaska this summer. Maybe if I wear my hiking boots and stretch a little, no one will notice!)

To celebrate my new phone, I had a custom cell phone case made by Skinit. I still love it!
(They didn't pay me to say that.)

Ombre Pyramids
35" X 45"
Started: July 1, 2016
Completed: November 19, 2016

Exhibited at the Summer Celebration of Quilts at the New England Quilt Museum, August 2017, representing Narragansett Bay Quilters Association.

Exhibited at Ninigret Quilters show, Westerly, RI, October 13-15, 2017.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Citrus Swap

It's a new year and I'm full of motivation! Don't you love new year mojo?

I'm going to try to get back to blogging about my finished projects. Ive been spending a lot of time posting about process on Instagram, but I miss blogging about the finish! She here goes. Let's try to get caught up.

I'm calling this quilt Citrus, but the colors remind me of Fruit Stripe gum, too. The blocks were made during several rounds of 4X5 block swaps in 2011. The blocks had been in a project box for years, waiting for setting inspiration to strike. I wanted it to have a modern feel. I saw a similar setting on Instagram one day and immediately got to work.

Once I had a plan, the top went together quickly. Then I went a little overboard with the domestic machine quilting. It was good practice to custom quilt each block.

I went overboard when it came to quilting the setting columns. I did a lot of work in those green parts that got completely lost in the print. Below, you can see a split screen of front and back, so you can see what I did. Well, it was good practice!

62" X 74"
Block Swap Started: 2011
Quilt Completed: September 2016

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Allie's Quilt

 Another recent finish was this graduation gift for my son's girlfriend. A week before her graduation, I was cleaning up my sewing area and rediscovered this fabric. I knew it would be perfect for Allie, so I started cutting and stitching.

 I started with 3 mini charm packs of Kate Spain's Paradiso line. The mostly blue squares were combined with Kona Snow for some yummy 9-patches. Those were set on point, and alternated with plain square-in-a-square blocks with Kona Bahama blue. Very simple piecing. The points were extended around the perimeter to complete the design. I used every bit of Paradiso yardage that I had for the borders.

I absolutely love quilting a continuous curve (aka orange peels). It's an effective design for the 9-patches, so I marked a grid in the alternate plain squares to repeat the design. I normally don't do any marking but it was necessary on this one and well worth it.

Below, you can see the Angela Walters-inspired quilting in the large triangles. You can also see what happens to my thread when I use a needle that is too small! I was using Superior needles and thread and they very quick to respond on Instagram with some suggestions. The right size needle was all I needed.

 Allie and Pete came in just as I was finishing the quilting (the day before graduation). I asked her if she liked it and told her it was hers! Surprise!


Check out the awesome texture on the back!

I used an ombre on the back. It is light at one selvage and dark at the other. I pieced it along the light edges so it glows in the middle! 

I found out toward the end that Allie loves flamingos. I dug deep for this paper pieced pattern by Margaret Rolfe. In a previous quilting life, I used to shrink all these patterns to make lapel pins. It was fun to be reminded how much I enjoy tiny paper piecing. We've known Allie since she and Pete were six or seven years old. I'm hoping she'll stop calling me Mrs. Craig soon!

 I think she likes it. As soon as she got home, she put it on her bed and sent me a picture of how well it matches her decor.

Allie's Quilt
60" X 77"
Started May 1, 2017
Completed May 20, 2017
Delivered June 20, 2017
Pieced on Singer Featherweight
Quilted on Bernina 153

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Oliver's Quilt

 Hi, everyone! It's been almost a year since I've posted here and I miss you! I've got some catching up to do. It won't be chronological, but I hope to include all my finished projects since last August. Eek!

Let's get back in the swing of things with Oliver's quilt! My niece in California is expecting her first baby in a few weeks. She is doing the nursery in blues and gray with whales and octopi. How cute will that be?

I knew Preppy the Whale by Elizabeth Hartman would be the perfect pattern.  It was fun to choose a bunch of blues, but I had to throw in that one fun orange whale!

I recently purchased a ruler foot for my Bernina. I just happened to have a (never used) Leaves Galore ruler in my stash that was a perfect wave. It was thick enough for the ruler foot to run alongside with no trouble. For my first attempt at ruler work, I think it went pretty well!

The print on the back is pretty cute, but was just a little too narrow. A bit more orange to the rescue! When it came time to add the binding, I couldn't find the gray strips that I had cut out. (Don't you hate when that happens?) I dug into my bin of leftover bindings and went with scrappy navy blues. I think it probably worked better than my first choice gray.

I couldn't resist using the larger cut offs from the stitch and flip triangles. I'm keeping that little mug mat for myself as a souvenir!

 With a little bit of terry cloth and some leftover fabrics, I made a cute set of burp cloths from a tutorial by made everyday

Oliver's Quilt
47" x 50"
Started May 28, 2017
Completed June 10, 2017

Saturday, August 6, 2016


 A few weeks ago, I decided to make a lap quilt for my sister. She was in the midst of a kitchen renovation. With her open floor plan, that meant new family room furniture, too. I texted her daughter-in-law to get a picture of the new sofa and chair. So sneaky! Anita is a neutral girl. No crazy colors like in my house.

I had a pile of low volume prints still out from the trivet project. I added a few grays and solids and started cutting. In no time, the scrappy trip around the world blocks were done and ready to assemble. Wow, are they fun! 

It was super hot that week, so I needed to carefully move everything from the design floor in the living room to my air conditioned bedroom.

 I knew I wanted to quilt a spiral from the center of the "trip" and go around and around. I put on the walking foot, drew a starting circle and got started. I knew the center would be the toughest part, but I was really struggling moving the quilt along. Guess what? I forgot to re-engage the feed dogs after the free motion class the day before. How embarrassing! It's a little wobbly in the center, but not bad enough to rip out for a quilt that I know will be used and loved and washed often.


I tried not to post much of this project to Instagram, because I wanted to keep it a surprise. She did comment on a tight pic of the center quilting that the grays and yellows matched her new chair. Is that so? What a coincidence!

The next lesson I learned was that my needle was too small. I usually use a size 80 with 50 wt thread, but I was all out. I put in a 70 and my thread kept breaking. I was finally good to go after changing to a 90. With the feed dogs engaged!

I found the binding in my deep stash. I hope the little sparkle will compliment the mica flecks in her new granite counter tops. The backing should bring together her gray and beige paisley chair and brown leather sofa. Everything came from stash except the backing and batting.

60" X 72"
Started: July 11, 2016
Top Done July 17, 2016
Quilted: July 23-24, 2016
Bound: July 25, 2016

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Little Lucy

 Oh, happy day! My little Lucy Boston, Patchwork of the Crosses wall hanging is finished and hanging on the wall! I swear, every quilt I make looks fantastic on my golden yellow walls.

 This piece started in December 2014 as a traveling project to take on our trip to Tanzania. It was such a long flight, I knew I'd have lots of time to stitch. I met a lovely Brit in the JFK airport who wished she had brought her hand stitching with her, too. 

The fussy cut centers were fun to work on and were done by May of 2015. I won the Union Jack needle case from Helen/Archie the wonder dog a few years ago. How appropriate for this very English project! I'm so glad I decided to purchase the papers (1" honeycombs and squares) and a fussy cutting template from Paper Pieces.

When it came time to fill in the sashing, motivation was hard to come by. I pieced together small groupings of cream and blue, but there are other ways to assemble this top. This worked for me because it kept the project portable. I used 50 wt Aurifil for most of the piecing and all of the quilting.

I finally finished the top in early July 2016.

Bear with me while I document each block...

 If you click on one, you will see the free motion machine quilting.

 Clearly, I had fun fussy cutting! All the fabric is Kate Spain's Fandango line except the Kona solids in snow and aqua.

 Compare the yellow pieces above and below. I started out making little feathers in these pieces, but I wasn't sure if it was worth it in the busier prints. So every other block has the simpler design below.

The center block is my favorite.

Many thanks to Angela Walters for the confidence to tackle this quilting!

I fussy cut the binding to take advantage of the scallop print.

Free motion machine quilting was done on my Bernina 153. I used a light mint green Auriful #2800 in the colorful parts and creamy #2311 in the background.

No, maybe this one is my favorite block!

The ribbon candy quilting in the negative space wasn't my first choice. I tried an overlapping figure 8, which was just not working out. (I need more practice.) After working my way around two blocks, I realized it had to go. Have you ever noticed that 10 minutes of machine quilting takes over an hour to rip out?!! In the end, I think it was worth it.

Since this was all hand pieced, I considered hand quilting, too. That would have taken me another two years to finish instead of just two days! I'm so happy she's done!

Little Lucy
35" X 35"
Started: December 2014
Top done: July 1, 2016
Quilted: July 27-28, 2016
Bound: July 29, 2016

Exhibited at Ninigret Quilters Show
Westerly, RI, October 13-15, 2017
Best Pieced, Small Quilt, Master Division
Best of Master Division
Best of Show

Exhibited at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival
Hampton, VA,  February 22-25, 2018

Exhibited at MQX- New England
Manchester, NH, April 11-14, 2018

Exhibited at Narragansett Bay Quilters Association
North Kingstown, RI, April 21-22, 2018