Sunday, October 9, 2016


This newest quilt started out as an experimental piece based on an improv block I developed and showed in my last post. I call the block "Haystack", so "Hayride" seemed like a fitting name for this quilt. 

I originally set out to only use the left over bits of two polka-dot fabrics that have been in my stash for close to 20 years, but quickly ran out of the darker blue, so I gave myself permission to substitute the plain muslin that I had on hand. (Actually, it's 3 polka dot prints... the dark blue with cream dots, and 2 different cream ones with slightly different blue dots)

The limitations on fabric that I placed, caused the various blocks to each be unique, even though construction method was the same for each. When I ran out of the cream polka-dot fabrics I stopped. This is also the first quilt that I can recollect where I didn't bother to square up the edges and block after washing, as I wanted to keep a utilitarian look as much as possible. Surprised at how close it came to being more or less squared all by itself.

I machine quilted it with, yes, what many seem to consider boring old stippling.... which in truth I love as it provides such wonderful texture. I've said it before, and I will say it again, I do not understand why this humble, free-motion machine stitch has fell so out of favor. 


Friday, August 19, 2016

Rough Drafts

Playing around with some improv piecing ideas recently led me to come up with a block that I am calling "Haystack".  I've named it this because the little 4 rectangles that appear in the block, (most noticeable in the polka dot example) remind me of the rectangular hay bales that appear in the fall fields after harvest time, and then get stacked up for the farm animals bedding and feed. These blocks are just rough drafts, playing with color,  and pattern, and what happens when I do this, or that. 

Now I'm off to play with what happens when I combine some blocks, 
or enlarge some blocks, 
or who knows what?
Oh, I just love exploring possibilities!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Morning Reflections

Still playing with window inspiration. This one is called "Morning Reflections" and as I worked on it, the images that I held in my thoughts were those of old, cracked and off-kilter windows that I see in the worn and weathered white barns around here, and how they reflect the soft, early morning light...

Not one of my best photos, but it hopefully gives you an idea of where the inspiration comes from.
Looking at this, my mind is filled with still a dozen more quilt interpretations of just this one image. Definitely have to explore some more!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Color and Shape

Just a short and simple post... not much time to sew these days, or to blog for that matter, but I wanted to share a little of what I am doing when time allows... simply playing with color and shape. I am using windows, (such as the misshapen ones and the broken ones that I see everyday in my beloved old and weathered barns) as my inspiration jumping off point for shape, and the color is simply curiosity and intuition. This little piece measures 16.25 x 17.25 and is made with Moda Grunge scraps. Machine quilted in a freeform grid pattern with a face binding. (See here for my faced binding tutorial)  

My goodness... that was such an easy post! Maybe I will try to post more often, but keep them relatively short like this... we will see. Till then, be well, and a Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Inconsistent Suggestions for Making a Hanging Sleeve for a Faced Quilt, (or Any Other Quilt for that Matter).

Yeah... that's a long and confusing title, but a true one. Let me explain...

I'm doing this post because I was asked how one would attach a quilt binding to a faced quilt in the comment section of my tutorial on how to make a faced binding. (Which is a good question.) My answer, was basically just make a sleeve like you would for a traditionally bound quilt, add some slack and stitch it down just under the top portion of the facing, along the stitched edge... and then I promised to do a little post on it, as words without pictures can sound confusing when it comes to instructions.

But then when I took some pictures, I realized just how inconsistent I am when it comes to making a hanging sleeve, whether it's for a faced quilt or a traditionally bound one, I tend to be a bit less consistent then I probably should be, so I probably am not the best one to ask about it. However, I was asked, so here we go... 

Sometimes I have the slack folded at the bottom, sometimes at the top. I generally make my slack about 1/2", but sometimes 1/4" and sometimes as in this case it's closer to 1". And sometimes I forget to add any slack at all, as it's not the way that I originally learned, and old habits die hard. (But really, you should add slack, it does help a quilt hang better.)

Sometimes on a small quilt my hanging sleeves are only 2" wide, as opposed to 3.5" wide to 4" wide on larger quilts.

And then there are the seams... sometimes I fold the side seams in 2 times, (for a nice clean finish). Other times, just once, (to reduce bulk) and use a zig-zag to cover the raw edge. Usually I like to have the raw edges of the long back horizontal seam on the outside, hidden against the back of the quilt, as opposed to inside the sleeve itself, but sometimes I forget and do it the other way... oh, well.

My point is, there is more then one way to bake a cake, paint a wall, or make a hanging sleeve. (In earlier days we use to say "more then one way to skin a cat" but that's a weird and rather uncomfortable saying.) But I digress... back to my point... in the end, and in my experience, there isn't that huge of a difference, so do what feels appropriate and if the end result produces a quilt that hangs nicely, you succeeded!

Note: If you are entering the quilt into a show, then you should check to make sure your hanging sleeve complies with the rules, (I believe 4" wide is often the standard) and I would definitely add some slack as quilt shows seem to often use thicker and wider rods or slats then the thin metal ones that I would use on my own quilts hung at home).

But just for shits and giggles, below are pictures and words describing this one pictured hanging sleeve as well as reminders that this isn't the "gospel of how to make a quilt sleeve". This is just one example...

Okay, so here is the back of a faced quilt with a finished hanging sleeve. I've cut the length of the sleeve a bit shorter then the width of the quilt and in this case, I turned the raw sides in just once and finished them with a zig-zag stitch. 

I pressed the sleeve flat, so there is a pressed edge along the top and the bottom.

I lined the top edge of the sleeve about 1/2" from the top of the quilt. (Reminder... you are free to line it up closer to the top, I often do. You just want to make sure that the sleeve won't show when the quilt is hung.)

I pinned it all in place and with tiny stitches sewed the bottom edge of the sleeve down, careful not to stitch thru to the front of the quilt.

Next, I removed the pins and folded that top pressed seam down until I came to the stitched edge of the yellow facing section...

I then carefully hand stitched the back section only of that folded area of the sleeve right along where it butts up against the stitched edge of the facing, leaving that top portion of the sleeve as the slack. (You can pin again if you wish for this.)

Reminder... you don't have to have this much slack, but it works just fine if you do, as the folded section of facing gives the quilt enough stability that it won't flop around. And the reason I stitch it along that edge is that I generally like to stitch my sleeves to the stitched edge of the top binding sections, as it provides a nice niche to butt up against and a straight line to follow.

Next, I stitched the hemmed backside edges of the sleeve down. 

Then I just smoothed the slack back down, so the sleeve is all nice and flat again...

All done. And, as you can see in the top photo of this rambling post, everything hangs just fine and dandy.

And here is a photo of the thin, steel metal rods that I use to hang my quilt. I buy them at the hardware store... have no idea what they are officially called or what they are officially used for, but they are nice and strong and come in various widths, (I get the 1/8" size) and lengths. They can be cut with a hack saw to the length you want for small quilts.