Monday, February 1, 2016

gypsy wife quilt - nicole calver's handquilted AMH version

i've got one more gypsy wife veteran who's sharing her completed quilt and thoughts with us today. Two things stand out to me about nicole calver's version of the gypsy wife: her brilliant use of all AMH (anna maria horner) fabrics, and her intricate handquilting. nicole's version is so brilliantly executed, it won her a spot in the sewvivor 2014 competition, season 3; which she just happened to win! amidst the crazy of sick kids, meg birthday party prep, and winter storms, nicole managed to take some new snowy photos of her quilt to share with us, and spent some time giving us some thoughtful answers to my questions about her gypsy experience.

what attracted you to the gypsy wife quilt or why did you make one?

The chaos. I love that it has a feeling of chaos, but an organized chaos if that makes sense!
I've never been a fan of samplers, but the combination of the repeating filler blocks and the stripes to tie everything together really made me rethink sampler quilts :)

how long did it take you to complete?

Hahaha! Complete!! I'm still not finished!
Instagram says that I started about 105 weeks ago and finished almost 8 weeks later so almost two months from start to finished quilt top.

The decision to hand quilt the whole thing has added quite a bit more time onto my finish date ;)

how did you go about making fabric selections?

Since this was going to be a quilt for me to keep, of course I went with Anna Maria Horner for the bulk of my fabrics. 

Mostly Field Study and Dowry, with a bit of Hand Drawn Garden mixed in as well. I also went with Carolyn Friedlander for most of the low vol prints.
I would start by choosing one key piece of fabric for the block I was working on and let the colours in that piece decide what other fabrics were going to make the cut. Pulling fabrics for a project has always been my favourite part of the process, so being able to make mini stacks for each individual block was so much fun for me! 

what was your favorite block to make or favorite part of the project?

I don't think I could ever pick just one favourite block, but Crazy Anne is high on the list! I love that block! 
As for my favourite part of the project, definitely choosing the fabrics for each block! Though I didn't think I would enjoy the hand quilting as much as I have!

please explain your quilting choices:

Before my Gypsy Wife I had never hand quilted before but had always wanted to. So with this quilt staying with me I thought it was the perfect chance for me to try my hand at it and not need to worry about how badly it turned out! And much to my surprise I wasn't nearly as bad at it as I thought Ii was going to be, haha! 

My stitches aren't remotely even and I still have a lot to learn, but I think all the mistakes and oddities are what helps add to the charm of a handmade item. (or at least that's what I'm telling myself!)

I love the look of chunkier thread and big stitches but also wanted to use my signature Brass Aurifil so I went with a 12wt and I've loved quilting with it! 

I'd say I'm about 65 -75% finished the hand quilting and hope to be done before this time next year, but I make no promises! And in my defense, I'm not so much hand quilting as I am embroidering. Some of those AMH prints were just begging for a fancier stitch ;)

what would you change or do differently if you could?

I don't think there's anything I would change. While making it I questioned some of my blocks and ended up remaking two of them, but overall, now that they're all together, they work. And the little things that bothered me with the blocks alone are no longer visible to me.
As for doing things differently, now that I have EQ7 there's a few blocks that I think I would have rather paper pieced, haha!

what advice or tips would you offer for others making this quilt?

Spend the time now, before starting, to make notes in your pattern book. Number your strips, It will help so much later! Use the resources that others have made available for this pattern. My copy came with quite a few mistakes so I made sure to correct those all before starting. 

When I started my Gypsy someone out there had a spreadsheet for all the blocks that I found super helpful. (clumsy kristel at the blog, work-in-progress girl.) I can't think of who it was but the printout was basically a list of all the blocks, where they end up in the quilt, sizes, etc... It was nice to be able to refer back to it when I needed as well as being a checklist of sorts for the blocks I had finished and still needed to finish. 

Most of all, don't stress over it. Seriously. 
There's so much going on in this quilt that no one will notice those two points that didn't line up, or the two fabrics that ended up side by side (i'm guilty of this and when I first realized that the two prints were going to be beside each other I wanted to remake one of the blocks. I didn't, and now I don't even remember where the two of them are!) Just have fun!
:) Nicole

wow, nicole! i am still so impressed with this version of the gyspy wife quilt. it's just simply beautiful. a few other ladies out there have also been working on AMH gypsies. the two ladies just seem to go together. still, there's enough AMH fabric out there to choose from, so yours need not look like another's. (see ashley's at wasn't quilt in a day.)

and i'm so blown away by nicole's handquilting/embroidery. if i remember correctly, she first did some stitch-in-the-ditch to keep everything basted in place, which has allowed her to take her time with the handquilting and still use the quilt. i like that idea very much. in fact, that's my plan for my own quilt.

you can check out nicole's numerous tutorials and published projects on her blog, snip's snippets, on instagram @snippets101, and even on the cover and inside of several issues of love patchwork and quilting magazine.


  1. As a huge AMH fan this delighted me! The stitching looks beautiful too!

  2. This certainly is a lovely Gypsy Wife quilt and the hand stitching really does add tremendously to the overall effect. Thanks for showing us these examples and tips from the makers.

  3. I have loved looking at these different versions - thanks for organising these posts Hydeeann, so inspirational!

  4. Great job thanks for all the Help!!!! Elsie


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