Wednesday, February 12, 2020

pretty maids all in a row, sort of a pattern

the above image was recently posted to IG, and got reposted by a nice little liberty fabric shop called ava and neve. ever since then, i have been getting requests for a pattern, which makes me giggle a bit because there isn't one. this is another of my scrap projects begotten by a project. also, maybe i'm missing out on a pattern writing opportunity here, but that's okay. i'm a hobby quilter with no time for making a business out of this stuff. i will describe my process here for anyone interested in making something similar.

this is a horrible winter afternoon shot of the quilt top, now pinbasted and ready for handquilting. when I have a better one, i'll replace this, but I wanted a full frontal shot of the complete top so interested quilters could see what it looks like.

when i was cutting strips for my betsy scrappy trip quilt, i made quite a few scraps. as usual, i just started cutting without paying attention to amounts i was producing. one wof strip of liberty tana lawn went a lot further than i needed for that original quilt. in some cases, before i realized this, i cut two! also, when i was cutting the chambray fabric, after cutting the correct sizes for the scrappy trip quilt, i was left with pieces 11.5" long from each strip. that's where the size of these longer rows comes from.

this quilt simply evolved from those cuttings.

therefore, i don't have exact measurements for this "pattern." however, it's so very easy that any quilter with a little experience can follow along. if you're one of those people who needs all the details spelled out, i'm so sorry. please remember this is free! and i gave up my quilting time yesterday and today to write this out.

fabric and cutting

this quilt is composed of two kinds of fabric:

- moda cross weave in "chambray"
-liberty of london tana lawn (here, all betsy in various colorways i have collected over the years)

all pieces are cut at 2.5" wide.


so how much do you need? the chambray is easier to estimate since we can just add the numbers up. assuming 42" wof, you can get 3 - 11.5" pieces out of each 2.5" x wof  strip cut, with leftovers. the layout requires 12 chambray strips per row, so you need 60 - 2.5" x 11.5". you will also need 24 - 2.5" x 2.5" squares, which can be taken out of the leftover pieces from the strips.

or you could cut the first 24 wof x 2.5" strip into 2 pieces at 14" long, and 1 piece at 11.5" long. then, after you have attached the liberty pieces to the chambray, you could cut off the 2.5" and already have your squares made and assembled, too.

or if you don't like the scrap created/waste of the 7.5" at the end, you could cut 4 - 10.5" strips and add some extra rows of squares in the top to make up the few lost inches in length. you will also need to cut 2 more wof strips to make the 2.5" squares.

all of these chambray strips can be gotten out of approximately 1.5 yards of chambray.


my betsy pieces were almost all from scrap. i have approximately 20 different colors of betsy that i used for this quilt. some were cut from fat quarters and others were cut from full wof strips (which for liberty tana lawn is more like 56", i think).

strips i still have left after this second quilt 

i would recommend that you cut one wof strip from each betsy you have, see how many strips you get, and then cut more as needed.

how many different betsys you are cutting from will determine how much of each you will need. this is an adventure in betsys! there's no real telling where you are going or where you will end up. i hope you like adventurous, ambiguous quilt top making, because that's what this is. personally, i had a lot of fun with this part of the process.

here's a little bit of quilt math to get you started: one 2.5" x  wof of liberty strip should give you at least 4 - 11.5" strips. to my recollection, width of fabric on liberty tana lawn is about 56".

you can use just one betsy per strip piece, or you can put two or more together like i did. i'll share more about that below in the layout section.

at bare minimum, you will be using 1.5yd of betsy just like the chambray.

quilt layout

this quilt measures 48" wide x 62.5" long.

these measurements can be adjusted by either lengthening strips or adding more rows to the length, or widened by simply adding more pairs of liberty + chambray to the width of the rows. you'll need to do that math yourself, but it's pretty easy to do.

there are 5 rows of strips that are 2.5" wide x 11.5" long, and two rows that are 2.5" x 2.5" squares.

the layout is: 1 row of strips, 1 row of squares, 3 rows of strips, 1 row of squares, 1 row of strips.
if you look at the full quilt top shot above, you should be able to see this.

if we called the top row A, the pattern looks like this:

row A: 24 strips 11.5" long, start with betsy
row B: 24 2.5" squares, start with chambray
row C: 24 strips 11.5" long, start with betsy
row D: 24 strips 11.5" long, start with betsy
row E: 24 strips 11.5" long, start with betsy
row F: 24 2.5" squares, start with betsy
row G: 24 strips 11.5" long, start with betsy

the quilt is composed of pairs of 1 chambray strip to 1 betsy strip, 12 pairs per row. in order to get them to alternate from row to row, simply start each row with whichever type of fabric you didn't start with in the previous row. i indicated that in the above layout description.

when you pair the fabrics, you can use a full strip of betsy per chambray piece, or you can combine different betsys. i just did this at random.

if i had a betsy piece that was shorter than the chambray strip, i selected another betsy and sewed them together to make up the difference. i cut the excess after i sewed the pieces together.

in some cases, i took a bit off of both pieces just to help vary the different lengths. this also gave me another small scrap to work with for another strip.

i didn't want all the pieces to have just 2 betsys, so i did some with 3 or even 4 small scraps.
here's two options for using the small piece and more strips:

to make the squares, i first cut the chambray squares from the chambray scraps and then sewed them to betsy strips. it felt easier to handle that way than 2 small squares, but that's just me.

i love a good chain pieced bunting!

i added the two rows of 2.5" squares to the quilt to increase the length a little. i didn't want it to be 55" long or 66" long, either, which is what rows of just 11.5" strips would have given me. also, i like the way it breaks up the quilt a bit and it nods to the quilt this evolved from - the scrappy trip quilt that is all 2.5" squares.

my seam matching on these rows was not that precise in a lot of places. i tried, but it's true that tana lawn is a little slippery. and pressing can stretch your fabrics when you have a heavy hand, like it do. i put as much care and effort into precision as i want to and live with the results.

other people have great success with pinning (my results are the same regardless, go figure) and starching the liberty.

a few other notes

i did not prewash either fabric. i've made quilts from this combination before and had no problems when washed after completion.

all seams were sewn at 1/4" seam allowance. the measurements so far have all been for cut fabric. of course, when the seams are all sewn, .5" needs to be removed from the cut measurement to know the sewn/final measurement.

because of the lightness of the tana lawn, i chose to always press toward the chambray, except between rows, of course, where that wasn't possible.

i now have the quilt pin basted and ready for handquilting. when that' done, i'll share the complete quilt.

if you're going to make this quilt or one like it, enjoy!
thanks for stopping by and for the interest.

*wof means width of fabric, the distance from selvage to selvage across your fabric.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

scrappy trip quiltalong in betsy

it's rare i join a quiltalong. unless, maybe, when i start one. my sewing time is too unreliable, so i don't join in even when the schedule is at an easy pace. but alli at woodberry way and her scrappy trip (around the world) got me.

the scrappy trip block method (by quiltville) is such an easy make that i gave in about a week after kickoff and joined the craze. in general, the scrappy trip has rarely appealed to me. melanie at southern charm quilts made a scrumptious pink and gold version that had me changing my mind. however, when i decided to join the quiltalong it was because i needed another quick liberty + crossweave church lap quilt, and this seemed to fit the bill.

i immediately thought it might be fun to make one of these quilts in just one specific liberty print, different colourways. i chose betsy.

i happen to have 17 different betsys in my stash. and found a few more online.

i wanted a medium-sized lap quilt, about 48"x 60", so i opted to make 12" blocks, which requires 6 strips: 3 liberty, 3 crossweave (moda crossweave in "chambray").

sorting through my betsys to find an arrangement, i decided to go with this formula for each block:
- 1 warm (red, coral, orange)
- 1 low-volume (neutral or very light shades)
- 1 blue

the most difficult part (which isn't too bad) of the whole process is getting the strips pressed. the 2.5" strips are hard to get an iron between without smashing down other seams or rows.

because the liberty tana lawn is a lighter fabric than the cotton crossweave, i chose to press toward the crossweave each time. it's finicky work!

after doing about half the quilt, i realized that using the edge of my pressing board (self-made, instructions here) helped me isolate the seam i wanted to work with.

when i get the seam on the edge, i can then manipulate it the direction i want without pressing nearby parts. this might work on a regular ironing board, i don't know. but it's working for me.

i had a lot to say about all of this, but i ran out of time and now i just don't want to complete it any more. sad, but true. short story: this is such a fast, easy quilt! I love it in betsy and so does the IG crowd. it's been very popular.

enjoy some shots of the process and a sneak peek at what i'm doing with the scraps!

first weekend results:

unpicking after some turned blocks and a row. ugh.:

plans for final blocks all laid out:

the quilt top is now complete, pinbasted, and handquilting has commenced.

so many leftovers! i'm just sewing them into strips and joining. I love a good two-for-one quilt:

Friday, January 3, 2020

quilt label, a first

come fall of this new year, i will have been quilting for TEN years, a whole decade.

that's rather exciting to me.

i'm in my 10th year as a quilter, and i've made something like 42 quilts.
so it's about time i labeled one of them.

i believe in the importance of quilt labels. i just never get around to making them myself.
until now.

it felt really important somehow to get a label on "beauty for ashes" before i sent it off to anne.

one of the reasons i've never made a quilt label is that i've never done it before - meaning i don't have a tried-and-true or preferred method, no default way to make one.

i have considered several ideas in the past, but since i have yet to try any of them, i'm not really sure how they work out. this sunday when i decided i absolutely needed to get a label on "beaty for ashes," i thought the easiest way would be to make a very basic and simple embroidered label.

that would mean i would have to keep the information to a bare minimum, which was fine. on the one hand, i would have liked to included the scripture quote, or at least reference, of the quilt's name. but it's okay that i didn't. i needed this done and sent off quickly.

i used a 4.5" wide scrap of white fabric for the label. i sketched the letters on in pencil, then stitched over them with 2 strands of dmc floss, using a backstitch. the embroidery was done in less than 30 minutes.

next, i trimmed around the stitching, about 1/2" away from the letters on all sides. i folded the edges under 1/4" and pressed my rectangle label flat.

i decided to attach the label to the quilt back with a blanket stitch, like i used to use to edge my four-square blankets.  i'm fairly certain i used the same method i used to edge my blankets with, but it doesn't look the same as the blankets did.

also, the label shifted and bunched a little while i was stitching, so isn't not square with the corner of the quilt like it intended.

but it's all fine. i'm just glad it's actually on there!

now that i've done one label, i'd really like to do more of them. in future, i won't be in such a hurry to get them on, so i'll be able to research my attachment methods and do a better job with that.

for now, i'm pleased as punch that i've labeled one of my quilts!

it's not perfect, and that is okay.

right after i completed the label, i read this insight from melanie of southern charm quilts:

"always, always, always, i find it doesn't have to be in the vicinity of perfection for it to look really nice and for me to love it."
this rang true to me, and fit how i felt about the label perfectly. i'm not after flawless quilts, i just want to make and share the best i can.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

beauty for ashes, a finish

mid-december, our family took a week-long beach vacation in costa rica, right in the middle of the christmas holiday season. it was my surfer husband's doing and christmas present. in some ways, it was really nice. in others, it complicated the holidays. but what's done is done! and it's what we did.

while we were there, i completed the binding for "beauty for ashes" quilt, making it an official finish. lucky me, i was in a nice new environment for photographing the quilt. a balmy, palmy, tropical beach house is not really the style of this vintage-y liberty of london patchwork quilt, but i think the shoot turned out nice anyway.

i did a lot of the handwork while sitting on the second story balcony outside the bedroom to our rental property, overlooking the backyard and pool, enjoying the shade and breezes.

and the views, which were pretty nice, too. the beach was just on the other side of those trees at the back of the yard, providing privacy with easy access, as well as a soundtrack of gentle waves. it was a quaint, contained world of our own.

indoors, our bedroom had this very simple and modern staircase railing that made a good quilt rack for the week. i did need a bit of extra warmth on the bed because the mr. always wants the air conditioner cooler than i do. so a light quilt was serviceable, even in central america.

all the bright sunshine was quite lovely, but it made photographing the vibrant pastel colors in the liberty patches against the charcoal crossweave fabric a little difficult - they are often washed out. however, it brought out the contrast of the quilting, so it wasn't all bad.

i used a grey herrinbone flannel for the binding. it's thick and cozy against the linen-like crossweave and the silky tana lawns.

the sparse quilting was done by hand, just straight down the center of each row, with white aurifil 12wt thread. it's a very soft, drapey quilt.

beach house bonus: enchanting unicorn horn shells, which my girls found and brought in by the dozens from the beach. maybe some of their magic got infused in the quilt.

this is another luxurious splurge of a backing: two liberty of london tana lawn prints, half of each. these happen to be two of my top favorite prints, both is some of my very favorite colorways for each. the grey capel (in k, i think) is a nod to the grey crossweave, but in a lighter tone. the very sunny, buttery, yellow mitsi is an exclusive colorway produced for the english shop alice caroline supply, that represents the pastel patches. i also think of the two colors are being the juxtaposition of "beauty" and "ashes."

this particular quilt coordinates very well with my quilt travel tote. i wouldn't want to risk loosing a quilt in luggage while traveling, so any quilt i take along to work on while traveling is always rolled up and carried onboard with me in this tote.

my littlest one, with some coaxing on my part, snipped all the thread tails leftover from the handquilting. it's one of her jobs i save for her so she can be involved in the making process with me. normally she jumps right at such opportunities. this time she was in a vacation mode and snipping sounded like chores when i asked her. but once she got snipping, she dropped that attitude and was quite happy to oblige me.

now for the story of this quilt:

this is the third liberty + crossweave lap quilt i have made. they are intended for "sunday best" use at church, to keep our laps cozy in the pews. i've been aiming to complete one for each of my girls and myself.

i began work on this one the week after my mother died in march. because of the quilt's contrasting color palette of charcoal grey and pastels, and because of the bittersweet experience of my mother's passing, i came to think of this quilt as "beauty for ashes," a scriptural phrase.

it comes from isaiah 61:3, "... unto them that mourn in zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."

the quilt was already connected to the idea of finding joy after sorrow and being comforted in mourning, but it's not really what i thought of each time i looked at it. the quilt began at a crucial point in my life and was therefore entwined with those memories and ideas, but that event didn't define the quilt or it's intended use. i tend to see the beauty that came out of that time of ashes when i look at the quilt, if i think about that connection at all.

however, today, i realized the quilt has a whole lot more to do with mourning and comfort than i knew until now.

more than five years ago, anne, a sweet friend of mine, one of those stellar people everyone just loves and admires as soon as the meet them, was working on a baby quilt for a friend of hers who had lost a baby girl at birth. the baby had been named ruby, and anne used the ruby fabric line (by bonnie and camille for moda) to make a quilt as a gesture of comfort for the grieving family. anne wasn't a regular quilter, but she really wanted to do something for the family and she liked the idea that the fabric line had the name of the daughter they lost. she didn't have any basting pins, so i loaned her my second best basting pins so she could get the quilting done.

this past thanksgiving day, anne and her family suddenly lost their darling toddler, 2 yr old jane, to what appeared to be croup, but was something else that didn't respond to treatment. ever since that loss, i have been thinking and thinking of anne making that ruby quilt for a grieving family. i wished i had a fabric line named "jane" to do the same for her. i wished i had time to make and complete a quilt period! but i knew any quilt i started would take me ages to get done.

today i was catching up with anne's posts about their loss and it occurred to me that i just finished a quilt, a quilt connected to grieving and mourning and everything that family is going through. i started that quilt just as i lost my own mother and it was definitely about "beauty for ashes."

and suddenly i knew that quilt needed to be sent to anne.

i have no idea if she will even like the quilt. the quilt has huge value to me on many levels, including the luxury fabrics i lavished on it and the hours i poured into the handwork. but none of that matters. i know anne gets the idea of sending a quilt to a friend who is mourning a loss. so regardless of whether of not she fully appreciates the things i appreciate about the quilt, i know it's meant for her.

i hope some of the sunshine from costa rica accompanies the quilt and warms her up in this dark winter. i hope she puts it in jane's room and snuggles it when she's in there grieving. i hope she feels the hugs and prayers from me and all the others who love her when she wraps up in this quilt.

what's a quilt, even a splurgy, handquilted quilt, when someone has lost a child?
in comparison, it's absolutely nothing.
and yet ...

quilts are love made tangible, and with this quilt i'm sending my love to anne, as well as the love of her heavenly father who prompted me to send this quilt to her, who whispered to me, "you have beauty for ashes that you could give to anne." along with prayers, it's all a quilter can do for a friend when nothing can be done to change their loss.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

some candy striped binding

in 2016, my middle daughter (d3), then 10 years old, wanted to make a christmas quilt. she picked out 12 fat quarters and we planned to make an enlarged version of my six and one half dozen quilt pattern, which i'm calling two dozen, please, because it involves 2 dozen blocks of fabrics. it was her first quilt, and even at 10 she had no problems putting it together. i photographed her making the top so we could create a tutorial for the beginner-friendly pattern.

from the time we purchased the fabrics, she knew it wouldn't get done in time for that first christmas. that was an understanding we came to when she was picking them out. we were getting a jump start for next christmas, and that was fine with everyone.

and while she did get the top completed quite quickly, the rest took a lot longer to complete. like, a few years. we've worked on it sporadically in chunks about every 6-9 months.

here we are 3 years later and she has been begging to not go another christmas without her christmas quilt complete. i've actualy been thinking about it as the christmas season approached. my sewing room was such a wreck for most of october and november that we couldn't even get in there to do any sewing until i had some time to clear off surfaces.

i've had her do almost every single bit of the process: piecing, backing, quilting. now we've finally got the binding made, and she will be handbinding the quilt herself.

the binding was actually part of the hold up for quite a while. we had no idea where the binding fabric we had picked out went! she would pester me every few months to work on the quilt, but i couldn't find the binding.

and, honestly, in seasons when i'm not fitting in much quitling time or if i'm deep into a project of my own, i'm quite selfish about giving time to a kid project that needs monitoring or handholding from me. sad, but true.

a few weeks ago i was fabric shopping and picked out some new binding fabrics for the quilt. i got 4 different stripes in the colors of her quilt top. i figured she could choose one or all of them for a scrappy look. she went scrappy.

and now that we have the binding made and attached to the front, d3 is learning how to handbind! she's actually enjoying the process and is quite content to do it on her own. i've been working on some of my binding right alongside her. usually, we put an audible program on to listen to as we stitch.

i really enjoy this time together and am so pleased with how she's taken to handwork. admittedly, her stitching is not too sightly just yet. that's alright. i think it will get there as she practices. and if she wants to redo it at some future date, that's easy enough to do.

i didn't want this quilt to be perfect - i wanted it to be hers.

she's already got a few other quilts she'd like to make in mind. i hope she gets more independent with the process so i don't slow her down as much next time around!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

wip wednesday 2019.50

mid-october, our oldest daughter (d1) returned home from 18-months of church volunteer service in russia and kazakhstan. it has been a joy to have her home and under our roof again. it has also been an extremely busy season of life ever since then. hence, no quilting.

but about 2 weeks ago, as the youngest daughter (d5) and i were working on her homeschool writing, i picked up a quilt and began working on the handbinding. it felt good to be back in the game again!

i haven't done much in the meantime, but i have been able to work in bits of time here and there.

my husband took a short, two-day trip with his brother, and i made sure to get some quilt time in while he was gone. i finally got the sashing done on my fall log cabin quilt, and was able to back and baste it. i was looking at my favorite block from the quilt and thinking it would have made a great quilt all by itself, with just those fabrics (and a few other favorites). so i just went back to my two local stores and purchased more of the same fabrics. that's another quilt waiting in the wings now.

when i was putting the backing together, i decided to splurge on the last small corner the backing needed. who puts hard-to-find, out-of-print, heather ross unicorns on a quilt back?! i do. i think it's a really fun touch that will make the quilt that much more special for having a few unicorns hiding on the back side. they will definitely be noticeable there. i haven't trimmed the piece down yet, but about half of what's in the picture above will become available for use elsewhere.

i've also done a little work on my coins patchwork quilt and helped d3 get to the binding phase on her christmas quilt.

putting it all down here at once makes it seem like a lot has been done.

after all, little quilting chores equal big quilting finishes.