Friday, August 10, 2018

Finishing a Comfort Quilt

In my previous post I covered the first steps to take to make a memory quilt. Once you're ready to create the quilt, keep a few things in mind. First, remember that the fabrics are what makes the quilt special, so pick a design that makes them the star. Using large blocks is a good strategy for creating both a fast finish and a design that allows the fabrics to be the main feature. The blocks I created are about 26 inches square, so just nine blocks makes a good sized throw quilt.
Two, with the purpose of the quilt in mind, add to the comfort factor with both the backing and the quilting style. Select a cozy backing fabric. I picked a soft flannel. You may want to quilt minimally to maintain a soft drape to the quilt, as I did. As a bonus, simple straight line quilting about every two inches is also quick to do.
Consider the feature fabrics as your select the finishing touch of the binding. Often the clothing scraps will not be large enough for binding strips, so choose a complimentary fabric. I think this mini check blends well with the other shirting fabrics.
I hope the quilt will bring up a lot of fond memories and offer some tangible comfort.
My quilt design was inspired by this fabulous quilt by Shea. Although I was unable to find the block name or a pattern, it only required some simple quilt math. I have saved you the trouble if you want to follow the instructions below.

For each block you will need:
(4) 8 1/2 squares fabric A
(1) 8 1/2 square fabric B
(1) 12 5/8 square fabric C cut twice diagonally into (4) triangles
(2) 6 5/8 squares fabric C cut once diagonally into (4) triangles

Cutting the triangles from the squares as directed rather than individually means there will be no bias edges on the outside edge of the block. Best!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Ketchikan Quilt Pattern Release


I am pleased to share with you the Ketchikan Quilt pattern today. It has been a long time in the making! This queen sized quilt is the largest I have ever created, and the pattern, while easy to make, was quite involved to write. Each foundation pieced block is 22 inches, with a couple of setting blocks to make the sashing more distinctive. The thirteen page pattern includes fabric requirements, cutting and piecing instructions, printable foundation templates, a construction diagram, and a coloring sheet of the block to play with your own color placement.

Paper pieced blocks are perfect for scraps, as the pieces are generally small. They are also great for fussy cuts. I included some cute fussy cut centers for the stars. I made each block with different scraps but kept my palette to black, white, and grey. The large expanse of white background is meant to invoke the snowy expanse of the northern frontier, which was the inspiration for the quilt. It makes me think of stars and arrows, two critical means of survival.

I love how the feel of the quilt completely changes with different uses of fabric and color. My pattern tester, Kelly, chose a colorful print for the background and coordinating prints for the stars, arrows, chevrons, and stripes. It is so fun and cheerful.


Alissa worked with a woven background and an ombre solid. This gives the block a lot of depth and subtlety. Love it.

You can find the pattern in my Craftsy store, and I would love to see your version of the #ketchikanquilt

Monday, July 16, 2018

How to Start Making a Memory Quilt

When a family member passed away suddenly last year, I had the reaction so many quilters do. I wanted to give the widow something handmade. I thought a quilt made from her late husband's shirts would be a tangible way to remember him and to offer comfort. This is my first time making such a special quilt, so I thought I'd offer my thoughts on the process for those considering making one too.

The first step in making a memory quilt is simply to offer to do so. Understand that the bereaved may have very different reactions to your offer, however kindly meant. They may not want to keep the old clothing around or to even have the daily reminder presented by such a quilt, at least for a while. They may not be able to let go of the clothing for some time. Simply offer and let them get back to you when they are ready.
The next step is to obtain the old clothing from the bereaved, which can be difficult for those grieving. Some people may want to go through each item and share its significance, while some may not be able to bear looking at it. You may find going through the clothing emotional too. Take your time. Once you have the clothing, you will need to be selective about which items or types of material to use. For example, some quilters are happy to work with knits, while I prefer to stick to woven cotton clothing. I suggest you avoid mixing different types of fabrics in a single quilt because they will wear differently. A larger selection of clothing items is best, as it will allow you to choose those that will work best together in your quilt design. You can always offer to return any unused items, although the bereaved may prefer any leftovers be donated. Be sure to ask.

How many items of clothing will you need? It will depend on the size of the quilt and the pattern you choose. I suggest you make these choices based on what clothing times you receive, instead of the the way around. Let the bereaved give you what they want, rather than dictating what you need. See what you can make with what they offer. Maybe it's only enough for a pillow or a set of pillows for a sibling group. That's fine. Maybe it will be enough for a throw or a twin quilt. Since it is primarily for comfort, I chose to make a throw quilt.

When you have chosen the clothing items you will use, you will need to deconstruct each item. This can be a sad process, but I promise it gets easier as you start thinking about the snuggley quilt to come. After contemplating using a seam ripper to take apart a large stack of dress shirts, I quickly realized I would be better off cutting the seams out. It's much quicker, and the fabric in the seams is often less faded that the rest of the shirt or hopelessly marred by thread holes. I cut off collars and cuffs and discarded them, but you may wish to preserve pockets if you want to feature them in your design. Once the clothing has been cut into usable pieces of fabric, press it well. Using starch makes cutting and piecing even more precise later.
As you think about the design of the quilt, it may be a good idea to ask the bereaved about their preferences. You may show them a few examples of quilts you have enjoyed making in the past or easy patterns they can see online. I was fortunate to have been given free rein to make whatever design I thought best, but I suggest you select a simple pattern that will both allow the fabrics to be the focus and can be completed fairly quickly. You want to give the quilt as a comfort as soon as you can, after all.
I welcome your experience and advice on making memory quilts, and read more in my next post about Finishing a Memory Quilt.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Morse Code Quilt

I get a little thrill every time I come across a quilt or project made from one of my patterns. I suspect every designer does. I found this Morse Code Quilt on Instagram because its maker, Andrea, included the hashtag #improvisingtradition which is a great way to add your work to a group of other quilts from the same book,designer, or pattern, FYI.
I appreciate how the dramatic background sets off the cool colors. Check out Andrea's other sewing projects and great photos on her Instagram page. Thanks for sharing Andrea!
photo by Joe Hancock
To my surprise, when I tried to find my original post about this quilt to add the link, I discovered there was none. I never posted about this quilt. Really? Well, better four years late that never, right? The Morse Code Quilt is in the sewing with strips section of Improvising Tradition, and it is a super simple throw sized quilt, great for quilters new to improv. The varying sizes of the strips reminds me of the dots and dashes of morse code. As you can see, I chose warm colors in contrast to Andrea's cool palette. Both work beautifully with grey.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Re-purposing Prototypes

These placemats started out as prototypes for the By the Fireside Pillow from Improvising Tradition. I don't know about you, but I'm just about at capacity for throw pillows around here (not that I'm promising to abstain from making more, mind you). Consequently, I was happy to re-purpose the tops into placemats. A simple trim down to 14 x 18, and they fit the bill beautifully.
I've quilted each placemat differently. Look how effective a simple all over square meander can be, even on a geometric design.
On the other I played up the geometric design by quilting the sections differently to make each stand out.
This pair of placemats brings my total number of placemats for Meals on Wheels to 10 which  is halfway to my goal of 20 by December. If you want to join me, add #placemats4mow to your social media posts to share.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Handmade Travel Tags, Free Tutorial

I made a set of travel tags for family, and some friends requested a tutorial. It's been a while since I wrote and offered a free tutorial on the blog, so here it is as a big thank you for stopping by and leaving such kind comments over the years. These beautiful travel tags not only serve to mark your luggage should it become lost, they also make your bag easier to spot. Set your ubiquitous black rolling bag apart from the rest in the luggage return this summer. I'd love to see what you make, as always. Drop me an email or hashtag your work online with #handmadetraveltags

You may notice the June Tailor Quilter's Cut'n Press in the background of many of the photos. It is a cutting mat on one side and a pressing surface on the other other. It's the perfect tool for a small project like this when you don't want to get up and down to use an ironing board because it fits right next to your machine.

Handmade Travel Tag

Tutorial by Alexandra Ledgerwood 

Materials

Scrap of white fabric 3 x 9 1/2 or larger
Fat quarter or scraps of outside fabric
Interfacing scraps
Thread matching the outside fabric
Permanent pen

Cutting instructions

From the outside fabric, cut
(1) 3 x 9 1/2 rectangle
(1) 2 x 3 rectangle
(1) 2 1/4 x 14 strip
 From the white fabric, cut
(1) 3 x 8 rectangle
 From the interfacing, cut
(2) 3 x 9 1/2 rectangles

Sewing instructions

1. Using a permanent pen, write the address on the white fabric, on the right half of the rectangle, leaving at least 1/2 inch from the right edge.

Tip: I type the address in a word processing program and trace the address onto the fabric directly from my computer screen.

2. Sew the 2 x 3 rectangle of outside fabric to the white fabric, near the address along the 3 inch edge, using a quarter inch seam allowance. Press seam open.
3. Following package instructions, apply the interfacing to the wrong side of the outside fabric rectangle and the white fabric unit.

4. Trim one end of both rectangles to create the pointed end of the luggage tag. Following the inch markings on your cutting mat, place your ruler diagonally from one inch mark to another as shown in the photo, and trim off the triangle. Repeat with the other corner.

5. Fold the 2 1/4 x 14 rectangle in half lengthways and press. Open up the rectangle, and bring the outer edges to meet in the center. Press. Fold in half again, lengthways, to create a narrow strip, with the raw edges encased in the center.
6. Edge stitch along both long sides of the strip.

7. Bring the two raw edges of the strip together and temporarily pin in the center of the straight end of the 3 inch edge of the rectangle of outside fabric. Right sides facing, place the white fabric unit on top, matching the edges carefully. Remove the temporary pin and pin through the outside fabric, the strip, and the white unit.

8. Pin and sew around all the edges with a 1/4 inch seam, leaving about two inches for turning.

Tip: Be careful not to sew over the folded strip on the inside.
9. Turn right side out, and press.

10. Edge stitch around the outside edge.
11. Create a button hole in the center of the outside fabric at the pointed end of the tag. The button hole should be perpendicular to the address and be the same length as the width of your strip, a little over 1/2 inch.
12. Fold the tag in half, overlapping the outside fabrics slightly to hide the inner white fabric but not folding over the address inside. Press.

13. Edgestitch along the fold.
14. Push the strip through the button hole, and your handmade travel tag is complete.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Free Motion Quilting on Essex

 
There are few things as therapeutic and fun as free motion quilting on whole cloth. I've played with fmq on Essex linen before to create this set of placemats. The recipient requested another four, so I got to try out four new designs and pick out another four lovely Kona solids to bind the placemats.
I used 40 weight Aurifil for the quilting, and I'm really happy with the results. The texture of this fabric combined with quilting is irresistible. I only wish I had time to make more.