Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Failures--Lessons Learned

Hi Everyone,

I know that we all have times that we screw up a step in a project or cut something the wrong size, etc.  I know I spend time with my ripper to correct issues once in a while.  It seems, though, that lately I have had my share of issues.

The first big one of the year happened a few months ago.  I was going through some things and found my stashes of exchange blocks from my bee in Virginia.  We had done flower blocks and spool blocks.  I pulled out the flower blocks and decided to see if I could come up with a great alternate block for them--something that might look like leaves (triangles) and lattice, etc.  I leafed through my quilt books and found a likely-looking block.  I drew it out, coloring the pieces the way I thought they would look good, and they seemed to look great with the flower blocks.  On the graph paper, at least. I was so sure that they would be perfect that I set about doing all of the cutting--for 20+ blocks.  Luckily it was all from my stash, and nothing that I bought special.  I cut and cut and then I starting sewing and made 4 blocks so that I could lay it out with 5 flower blocks and have a 3 x 3 grid, to get the idea of what a large quilt would look like.  It was terrible!!!  The pattern didn't work but worse of all, the colors were horrendous.  I think the color issue struck the worst blow to me.  I get that I can choose a bad design, but to so mess up the color, too!  Anyway, it was a day and a half totally wasted.  I through the blocks I had made and all the cut bits in the trash and put the flower blocks back in my closet.

In my last post, I said how I had begun a doll quilt for the exchange.  I decided to do small shoo fly  blocks and then alternate them with plain squares.

 I chose medium blues and made some of the scrappy.  They are fun blocks and are 3" finished.

The quilt top came out great, too.

And then I got the idea that I would all-over stipple it by machine.  When it was a quarter done, I was having second thoughts, but I kept at it, hoping it would get better!  (Mistake!)  Anyway, I was over half done and just wasn't happy.  In my opinion, an antique doll quilt would have minimal hand quilting.  Even though the all over stipple, when washed, gives the "look" of a crinkled old quilt with lots of quilting; that wasn't the "look" that I wanted.  In frustration, I left it under the needle and found the other quilt that I ended up sending to my partner.  Is it me?  Am I too particular?

Then yesterday I had another issue.  The night before I finished the big, 30" appliqued block for Austin Bluebird.  I got up excited to get it pressed and trimmed.  I ironed it.  Here's a tip:  I always iron my appliqued blocks face down on a couple layers of towels.  That way the back of the block gets smooth, but the applique shapes "pop" off the backing fabric, since they are padded by the toweling.  I had the block looking great and then got my book out to double check the size I needed to trim it to (30.5")  As I checked the book, I glimpsed the picture of the block and it didn't look anything like my block!
Original block

My block

I was flumoxed.  How had this happened?  I realized that because it is so large, the pattern contains a quarter of the block only.  Instead of "pinwheeling" the quadrant around my block, I had flipped it.  I knew right off that I didn't want to make another block.  Would this one look okay?  To me, the original has a sort of circular feel, where mine doesn't.  It was my emotions that were getting me.  I had been so excited about it and then all of a sudden I realized I made a mistake and felt so bad.  I shared this picture and Instagram and I'm afraid I whined a bit about it.  Then I had a shower and gave myself a real "talking to."  So I got all of my pieces of the quilt out and laid them out to see how my block looked.  It looked okay!

Meanwhile, the best people in the world were leaving comments of encouragement on my Instagram picture!  I was feeling better.  And then Laurie Minick, who is on Instagram, left a comment of encouragement.  Better yet, she re-grammed the picture just above, which I'd also shared, and said that she is going to make her large block just like mine in her newest, blue version of the quilt.  I was so touched.  I have no problem "making patterns my own" and doing something original.  I was worried that the design of the block wouldn't look good.  I'm so glad it does.  Someone left a comment sharing a sentiment that I always have, "Is it a mistake you can live with, or will you always think of it when you look at the finished quilt?"  I'm more than aware of that, having made that mistake before!  In this case, I'm looking at it as a "lesson learned" block.  To remember that I shouldn't get too wrapped up in what I think is a mistake--and enjoy the serendipity!

It's a good thing I was thinking about all of that in the afternoon when I made up my Temecula Quilt Co. Summer Sampler blocks.  I just love their free sew-alongs!  They are always so much fun!

Anyway, I made the bottom right block wrong--the center should be dark instead of light.  But I'm leaving it that way!

How about you?  Have you had any "major fails?"  I think its just as important to share the problems/fails at it is the successes.

Have a great day!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Doll Quilt Swap

Hi Everyone,

I recently participated in the Doll Quilt Swap that was organized by the lovely Lori at Humble Quilts.  The rules were that the fabric should be Civil War era, and no side of  the quilt should be longer than 24 inches.  Once everyone signed up, Lori told us who we were sending a quilt to.  It wasn't partners--I didn't send one to the same person that sent me one.

Once I was all "official," I began looking for inspiration and found quite a bit.  I set about beginning my project and was machine quilting it when I realized that I didn't like the look of the machine quilting--it wasn't "antique" looking to me.  I will write a post all about that quilt and discuss it.  Meanwhile, the deadline for the swap was approaching rapidly!  I looked through my stash of completed quilts and came across a great one.

This was a Monthly Mini Project from the Temecula Quilt Company that I had made and hand quilted.  I made up a label and sent it to Debra in Toronto,

Because of all the lovely brown fabrics in it, I was inspired to send along some chocolate to match!  Fort Wayne has a wonderful chocolate shop, DeBrands, so it was a local product.

Watching all of the swapped quilts being shared in blogland was so much fun!  Lori started a facebook page, Humble Quilts, so we could see even more of them.  They are all so fantastic!  Needless to say, I was so excited to receive my quilt in the mail.  Coincidentally, it came from another Debra--Debra in Ohio.  I eagerly opened the box and in my excitement, I failed to take pictures of the wrappings.  It was all red!  Once I opened it, I was thrilled to find this sweet little four-patch quilt.

It is just what I was hoping for--a quilt that looks like it was made 150 years ago.  The fabrics are wonderful and she also hand-quilted it with really teeny, tiny stitches!  I really love the navy-blue border.  She said that she nearly made a RWB one for me, but then went ahead with this.  It is going to go up on my "wall of smalls" as soon as I rearrange things to make room.

I love the antique-looking backing fabric, too.

The quilt was not the only item, though.  She also sent me a pincushion made with an antique salt-cellar.  I adore pincushions made with vintage items, so I was thrilled.  She did make this Red, White, and Blue.  Her teeny piecing is remarkable!  She even glammed it up with a pretty decorative pin.  

Thanks so much Lori for hosting such a fun swap.  I can't wait for the next one!

Have a great day,

Friday, June 5, 2015


Hi Everyone,

I know that I have not been blogging much lately.  This year seems so odd to me--I'm having difficulty sticking with projects.  I think I need to assign myself a "Word of the Year" and that word needs to be "Focus."  Or, instead, maybe I should give myself permission to be a bit flaky this year, and then start fresh next year.  At any rate, I feel like I'm not getting much done, but then this morning I looked through my phone pictures and there is quite a bit there that I could be sharing.

Despite feeling like I'm jumping into different projects, I have really been steadily working on Austin Bluebird.  I'm almost done with the largest applique block.  It is 30" finished and has lots of leaves and berries.  Once it is finished, I just have one other applique block to do and there is a little bit of the piecing left to do and then I can sew it all together!  I think I'm going to add a border to it, so that it is bed-sized versus a coverlet, so I've been considering just what to do there.  I know for sure that I'm going to "float" the center and put a wide border of the background fabric on first--I can see this cream border beautifully quilted with feathers!  Then I want to add a narrow dog-tooth or saw-tooth border.  I have a couple possibilities in mind.

(Sorry for the sideways picture)  This is the completed half, in case you were wondering what Austin Bluebird is.  It is a pattern by Minick and Simpson based on an antique coverlet.  

There is a space on the quilt to include the year and the maker's initials.  I embroidered those being VERY optimistic and dating it 2015.  That means I HAVE to finish the quilt this year, ha ha.

Something else that I made recently is this:

It's another Schnibble pattern by Carrie Nelson, Open Season.  I love making flying geese with the Fit to Be Geese ruler--they are made oversize and then trimmed to be perfect.  It takes a bit more work to do the trimming, but having no "wonky" geese is so worth it.  The fabric is the reason I made the quilt.  It is Barbara Brackman's latest collection, Union Blues.  I love the shades of blues and the browns that accompany them.  

Something else that distracted me was that I made another Kid's Quilt for our guild.  Every member is supposed to make one to donate to Camp Whatchawannado--a camp for kids who are cancer-survivors.  They want to have about 120-130 to pass out.  In our April Guild Newsletter, it sounded like we might not have enough, so I decided to make another.  I got on Pinterest to find some inspiration and came across this link.  The author, JJScraps, made a wonderful Star Wars quilt for her son.  
This is my version

She basically made a Jelly Roll Race quilt. (Also known as 1600 or lasagne, or other fun names.)  That is where you take a jelly roll (or 40 2.5" strips) and sew them together end to end so you have one seriously long strip.  (40 strips at about 40" long equals 1600 inches, hence the name: 1600.)  Then you fold it in half and sew a bottom to a top, then in half again, and again, and again until the piece is 32 strips tall.  

There are several variations you can do to "jazz it up."  I added darker gray 2.5" squares between all of my strips.  That fabric was from my stash and had stars on it.  The other gray fabrics I bought at JoAnn Fabrics. (I didn't use a jelly roll--I cut 2.5" strips from yardage.)  I need to add here that I had never made one of these quilts before.  They are a bit "too random" for me.  I will confess that I manipulated it the first time I folded the really long stip in half.  I didn't allow any of the gray squares to touch each other.  Once it was folded and sewn again, I couldn't control anything anymore and it was really hard to "let go" of the control, ha ha.  I do think the randomness really works in this version, though,  

 This project went quick.  I shopped on Friday, came home and prewashed, cut the strips, and began "the race."  I finished it on Saturday and then layered and began the quilting.  I didn't touch it on Sunday, but finished the quilting on Monday morning.  Then I added the appliques.  It was much, much easier to quilt it all-over before the shapes were added.

To get the ship shapes, I googled for "Star Wars Silhouettes" and found these.  I printed them out as large as possible, but still needed to go to the copy shop to enlarge them further.  I used black flannel and fused them on.  Once they were fused, I straight-stiched around the applique just inside the edge.  I used black flannel because I had some--the back of the quilt, which I forgot to photograph, was made of a black Star Wars flannel.  It wasn't wide enough, so I added a strip of plain black flannel.  

Once I had the appliques on, I machine binded it and it was finished.  That Monday was "Star Wars Day,"  May the 4th.  "May the fourth be with you--get it?"  Anyway, I just hope there is a Star Wars fan attending the camp.  I also have enough strips left over to make another one, maybe for next year.

I believe one of my readers out there had expressed interest in also donating a quilt.  I remember emailing her about it but I was just searching for the messages and could not find them.  I'm so sorry!  At any rate, I do know that someone from the state of Missouri made and donated 2 beautiful quilts to the guild for the camp.  The organizers did not show the quilts to us, but did tell the guild about it.  If it is one of you, I hope you let me know.  How generous!

I guess that is all for now.  I hope to to be back very soon with more!

Have a great day,