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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Lime Quilt for our Niece

my sewing room in the unfinished basement allows me to really spread out



Today you are joining me in my sewing room while I finish a quilt for our young niece who lives in Tennessee.  She was born the year I took a terrible fall, crushing my shoulder, resulting in a shoulder replacement and a slowdown of my quilt productions. That was a few years ago and so this little miss is the only one of our many young family members who missed out on receiving a quilt made by Aunt Barbara.


While she is now too big to be bundled into a crib, she is the perfect age to snuggle up with a quilt and a good book.

my quilting design these days is just straight lines on the diagonal

The pattern of this quilt is scrappy Nine Patch blocks alternating with lots of lime green.  The most-used colors in this quilt are lime green, black, and pink, with a lot of other colors included, focusing on bright jewel tones.

Variegated thread was used for the machine quilting

Over the last 17 years or so, I can remember making at least 25  quilts (and I'm sure there are more I have long forgotten about), plus many more table runners and wall hangings.  There's been one baby quilt for each of my 9 grandchildren, one for each of my sister's grandchildren (4) and some lap quilts for adult family members and more baby quilts for various baby showers for friends.  This year (as of early April) I've completed 2 quilts with 2 more to be made for my nieces' babies due in September.

My plan is to not make any more quilts after the ones for September of this year. My zest for the hobby has been waning for some time and maneuvering the quilts while machine-stitching them takes its toll on my bum shoulder and neck.

my daughter (also a quilter) taught me to use hair clips instead of pins
to hold the binding until it is sewn down

When a person wants to produce a lot of quilts, it's important to figure out ways to get them done as easily as possible. For me, that means I do nearly all of the work with my sewing machine. Some people consider a quilt done entirely by machine to not be a real quilt, but I strongly disagree.  There are also a lot of hand-sewn quilts that never get finished!

some of my mitered corners turn out better than others

One of my secrets to productive quilt-making is to work with colors that are fun.  

a close-up of the Nine Patches alternating with large lime green squares

My inspiration for this particular quilt came from another Christian blogger and quilter, Lollyquiltz.* She does some really innovative, clever things with fabrics and designs.  She always has fabric under the sewing machine needle.  When she completes a seam on a project, instead of cutting the threads, she slips two squares of fabric under the needle and sews them, repeating that a few times, and then cutting the threads to release the original project.  What is left is a chain of squares sewn together and dangling from her machine.  As she does this all the time, she eventually has enough squares to assemble into another quilt.  

I did that with this quilt, just sewing together printed black and other colored fabrics together and gradually assembling them into the Nine Patch blocks.  It's like working on two quilts at the same time!


the quilt label for my niece

With the exception of quilts I give to donation agencies, I label all of my work. Family and friends like to see their name on a quilt, they want to remember who made the quilt for them, and the occasion or reason for the quilt.  

For privacy reasons I have blocked out my niece's name on this label, but you get the idea.  This is a perfect opportunity to include some special message of love. A Bible verse is my favorite tribute. 

I have heard it said that people may forget the meals you cooked and the houses you cleaned, but they will never forget the quilts you made for them. They will remember us a lot easier if we label and sign our work. It's leaving a legacy!!


the appropriate place for the label is on the back of the quilt

I have done several quilts with "free motion quilting" -- the curvy squiggles that are so delightful.  But the injury to my shoulder caused some permanent damage and I've learned to accept my limitations.  Free motion quilting doesn't work for me anymore.  Straight stitching is easier.  Using the variegated thread adds a special design element that I like to think makes up for not doing the free motion stitching.

front and back of the quilt after the binding has been sewn on

On this quilt I was able to sew all the binding on by machine. Sometimes I sew one side with machine and the back side by hand; but this time I was able to do it all by machine.

machine washing and drying the finished quilt

The absolute scariest part of quilting for me is the washing and drying of it after it is all done.  I make my baby/children quilts to be used, which means they must be easily washable. If the quilt is sewn well, it will have no problem getting washed and dried.  I prefer to do this step so I can confidently hand the quilt over to a new mother.  How disappointing it would be for her to wash her baby's quilt and have it fall apart in the laundry! (and I would be so embarrassed)

close-up after washing and drying the quilt

I use Warm and Natural brand batting, which draws up (shrinks) just a little during the laundry process.  The result is a puckered, soft look which adds more texture and a bit of an antique look to the quilt.  I love that. You can see it in the above picture.


completely done and ready to mail

A finished quilt is worthy of a Happy Dance before wrapping it and going to the post office.  As you can see, I take many snapshots of my quilts because I get emotionally attached to them while they are under construction.


* To see the blog post from Lollyquiltz that inspired my quilt, click on this link: Three Secrets to Making Free Quilts

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