Tools and Tips

Designing Special Day Quilts

I really love to design quilts that have a story and are very personal. Over time, I have made quilts to commemorate anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and more. I particularly like adding historical information including weather into these quilts.

The first quilt I made using these principles was Ante Meridiem, which was made in 2019.

Ante Meridiem 2019 Original Design by Karen Kehl

This quilt depicts the colors of the sky in Madison, Wisconsin from midnight until noon (ante meridiem or a.m.) on June 18, 1988, which was when my now husband and I started our romantic relationship. There are 48 different colored strips, one for each 15 minutes. The quilt is further divided with quilting lines for every 5 minutes. There are 36 colors of Aurifil thread used for quilting.

To prepare for this quilt, once I decided on the day and time period I wanted to include, I did a lot of homework. First, I found some time lapse photography to get an idea of how colors in the sky change over time. This type of photo can be found on sites like Shutterstock (here is 1 more and a timelapse video from Shutterstock). Other examples are here and here. I was particularly interested in “time-slice” photographs by Dan Marker-Moore.

To be as accurate as possible, I looked up the times of dawn and sunrise in Madison, Wisconsin on June 18, 1988. When you are doing a project like this, it is important to include the location. Longitude affects the time of events like sunrise and sunset. Originally, I looked this up on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sunrise/Sunset Calculator. The calculator has since been updated and the new NOAA Solar Calculator is more accurate.

I also learned that “dawn” is not a single time. According to NOAA, it includes Astronomical Dawn, the point where the sun starts lightening the sky; Nautical Dawn, the point where there is enough light to start to distinguish objects; and Civil Dawn, when objects are distinguishable, and Sunrise, when the sun appears above the horizon. I used the Weather Underground weather history site to look up the times of dawn and sunrise, and then figured out colors from those times outward.

Another version of a Special Day Quilt is Madison, which depicts the skyline of Madison, Wisconsin, across Lake Monona, on May 25, 2007, when I graduated with my PhD. I knew that I graduated on the last Saturday in June in 2007, and I used this perpetual calendar site to find the date. I chose to depict 8:00pm, when we wrapped up our celebration and saw this scene as we headed home.

Madison 2021 Original design by Karen Kehl

At 8:00pm, the sun was setting, so the gorgeous colors were evident. The buildings could be seen, but some seemed more clear than others. And the illuminated capital dome created a clear reflection in the lake. The sky was clear (I looked up the weather that day on the National Weather Service history site) I also checked out how the clouds might have looked on the National Weather Service cloud chart.

Special Day Quilts can also be small. One of my favorites is this mini quilt made for my daughter’s birthday. It is only 10 x 11 inches, but holds a lot of information.

April 15 – Rachel 2022 Original design by Karen Kehl

I looked up the location, date, and time of her birth (12:36am). In addition to looking up weather, I looked up the phase of the moon on the date of her birth. It was one day off of the full moon, so I took a little artistic license. It was also just a few minutes past the apogee of that night. The hospital was near a river, and I captured that in the watery reflection. Here is another site to look up phases of the moon.

I am working on another mini birthday quilt, and I love playing with these.

I hope this inspires you to make a special day quilt. And that these resources help you searching for the data needed. Please add any other sites you have used to find this type of information in the comments. I can’t wait to hear from you!

About me Tools and Tips

The Machines That Make It Work

The machines that we sew on are such a foundational part of our experience as quilters. Today, I’d like to share my current machines, and my good and bad experiences with them.

First, I think of my machines as women and they are named, although I rarely refer to them by name. First up is my oldest machine, Lork, my mother’s 1951 Singer Centennial Featherweight. This my mom’s graduation gift from her parents when she finished nursing school. She never did a lot of sewing, but when she did, it was often denim, or plastic coated duck upholstery. This sewed through it all. I learned to sew on this machine, and so did my kids. I have all of the original parts and feet that she got with it, including the buttonholer. It still makes the best buttonholes! I use Lork for any class that only requires straight stitch.

When I was 10 years old, a family friend was moving across the country and didn’t want to pay to move her White sewing machine in the cabinet, with a knee pedal. She offered it to me, and I spent countless hours over the next eight years sewing clothing, quilts, miniature quilts, and unique creations. I loved having my own machine and being able to sew whenever I wanted.

My next machine is not pictured because it was not my favorite, and I traded it in. My parents bought me a portable Singer when I graduated from high school, but it was not the quality of the Featherweight. As a plus, it did have a zig zag stitch, and I took to college and made clothes and quilts with it. I even quilted queen-sized quilts on it, although there may have been some swearing involved.

I traded the Singer in when I bought Bernie, my Bernina 1260 from 1993. Bernie has been a workhorse for 30 years. She is still my machine for classes that require any stitch other than a straight stitch. I have had issues with the tension since I bought her, and I have had countless repair people try to fix it. But I have worked with it for so long, I know how to deal with it: 1. Use good quality cotton thread (metallics are a nightmare on Bernie), 2. Adjust the bobbin tension as you would for any machine, 3. Set up the upper tension at around 3, and test. It is almost always correct when I follow these steps. It is also critically important to use the same thread on top and bottom.

Despite her quirks (she also will not free motion quilt through fusible, which makes raw edge applique a challenge), Bernie is well loved. Most of the quilts I have made were made on Bernie. And my daughters (and sons) used her for all of their 4H sewing. When I bought a new primary machine, there was quite a discussion in the family about who would get the Bernina (little did they know I planned to keep using her). It was finally decided that one daughter gets the Featherweight and the other gets the Bernina.

My primary machine is Jeannie. Jeannie is a Juki DX-4000 QVP. I got her in 2021 for my birthday and she has been used almost daily since then. I love the nearly 12 inches of space under the arm. And doing walking foot quilting is a dream on this machine. My husband was excited that I could embroider my quilt labels, so they will not wear off over time. She has a beautiful stitch, and can go really fast when I need it.

I find quilting and piecing so easy on this machine. I just took her in for a spa week, not because anything is wrong, but because I use her so much, I want to keep it all working as well as possible.

I am grateful that I have had sewing machines around me for my entire life. Each one is a bit different, but I have learned and grown with each machine.

Patterns and tutorials

A Hanukkah Quilt Festival of Lights aka Candles Burn Bright

I spend a few minutes (usually less than 15) on Instagram most days. I connect with many other quilters and am amazed by their creativity and talent. I also hear of some interesting opportunities. This year, around the middle of March, I saw a post from Golden Peak Media, the parent company that publishes Quiltmaker, McCall’s Quilting, Quick and Easy Quilts, and more. They were looking for Hanukkah quilt designs, and their deadline was less than 48 hours away. I happened to have a free evening and I decided to play around with EQ8 and see what I could create. I ended up with the design above, which I submitted.

I was beyond surprised when I got an e-mail less than a week later letting me know that they wanted to publish my quilt in Quiltmaker! I got the e-mail the day after my birthday, and it was a fantastic birthday present.

The wonderful editor sent me a digital catalog of Andover Hanukkah fabrics I could use for the design. After playing around a little and exploring different options with the fabric, I came up with this design.

This pattern includes many symbols of the holiday, including the Star of David, flames, spinning dreidels and gold pieces or geld. For this version, I used a different method to form the gold pieces, and changed the background of the spinners so the background “ribbons” stop at the edge of the gold pieces. (You can see where I missed one on the picture above).

I received all of the material from Andover. And Hobbs agreed to supply the batting for the project. I started making blocks and sent many “in progress” photos to the editor. Here are a few of them.

Of course, I had to keep the project and the pictures secret. I had one major issue. I made all 36 candle blocks and then realized that I cut the white background squares too narrow. I had to ask for more fabric, then seam rip 72 seams. Unfortunately, the fabric got lost in shipping. I did everything else I could on the quilt and then started hunting for the right shade of Andover Century Solids for the background. I started looking at Capital Quilts in Gaithersburg and to my great surprise, their website said it was in stock. I was surprised because I had not seen Andover Century Solids at the store. I went in and asked Marianne, the owner, where I could find the fabric, as it was not with the other solids. She first said that they did not have it, then she remembered that they ordered one bolt to test it when they were deciding on which solids to carry. She had just enough for me to remake the blocks.

Once I got past that challenge, it was fun. I particularly enjoyed figuring out the quilting patterns. Here is my photo of the finished quilt before I sent it off:

And here are a couple of pictures from the November/December 2022 Quiltmaker Magazine. I had named the quilt “Festival of Lights” but Quiltmaker calls it “Candles Burn Bright”.

Before I could even get a print copy from Golden Peak Media, I went to visit Capital Quilts to take the quilt in for display, and they had copies for sale, so I had to get one!

I even designed a table runner version, and I am teaching a class on it at Capital Quilts in November. Here’s the table runner version.

It uses the same Star of David and candle paper piecing, with an adjusted background and borders. I can’t wait to share my paper piecing techniques.

This has been a wonderful experience. The folks at Golden Peak have been wonderfully supportive. And I cannot thank Marianne at Capital Quilts enough for letting me teach this class and share my excitement over this publication!

Favorite Quilts and Quilters

Windows and Walls: The Road Home- Stories of the Quilts

For 2022, I have been sharing some the stories behind of the quilts in my heart and home. This is a quilt that I made in 2018 for my father-in-law. My father-in-law was declining and was moving into Memory Care. Since his marriage, he had slept under quilts his wife made, or selected for him. I hated the idea of him using institutional blankets, but I know that quilts take a beating in many Memory Care and Assisted Living facilities. Sometimes they disappear and the washing machines can take a toll. So sending him with one of his wife’s precious, hand quilted quilts didn’t seem like the best option. The Memory Care facility had a bed coming open in 2 weeks, so I had a limited amount of time to make a quilt. I knew he would have a twin bed, and I knew I needed something quick, attractive, and sturdy.

I decided to adapt the Walkabout Quilt pattern designed by Ann Lauer for Grizzly Gulch Gallery. I chose neutral fabrics that I thought he would like. I started with the print, then added black and cream solids and the dark gray print. Because I knew this would be washed frequently, I made my seam allowances 3/8″ instead of 1/4″.

I used some decorative stitches to quilt and highlight features of the print.

I also used decorative stitches machine sewing the binding, because it created extra stitches that would be more secure.

The quilt is backed with plain muslin, because that was how my mother-in-law backed all of her quilts. In addition to his name on the label, the plain back allowed the facility to write his room number on the back in sharpie, so the quilt was always returned to him.

When my father-in-law was transferred to hospice, the quilt went with him. He used it until the end, and it is precious to us as a result.

Patterns and tutorials Tools and Tips

Closing a Binding

I have been teaching a class on advanced bindings, and I have found that many quilters are challenged with closing the beginning and end of a binding so it is smooth and you can’t find it easily.

There are a lot of tutorials on this subject, but there are as many methods as there are quilters. This is my approach.

First, when I start sewing binding on a quilt, I start on one side, about 6 inches or more from the bottom corner. I leave an 6-10 inch tail of extra binding and then back stitch when I start to attach the binding. In the sample pictures, I am sewing on a machine finished binding, so I am sewing it to the back of the quilt.

Pin at 8 inches where stitching will start (NOTE: this is too close to the corner, I will show what to do if you make the same mistake I did.)

I sew around the quilt and miter each corner (a tutorial for another day). On the last side, I sew down the binding to about 8-12 inches away from the starting point and backstitch. A smaller space will make it more difficult to connect the binding edges, especially on a big quilt. There is no particular downside to having a larger gap, as long as you accurately measure for the connecting seam. You should have at least 7-10 inches of binding at the end that is not attached to the quilt.

This space is not wide enough – it will make it very difficult to join the binding. If you make this mistake, seam rip the stitches from where you started to sew the binding on. Keep opening until there is a gap of at least 7-10 inches.
This is a 7-inch gap – a perfect size to join the binding on a small piece. For a larger piece, a larger gap (up to 10-12 inches) may make it easier to manipulate in the sewing machine.

Now comes the fun part. Lay your free binding ends flat on the edge of the quilt and overlap them. There should be plenty of overlap (more than 3 inches). Cut a small piece (about an inch wide is enough) from the end of one of the binding tails. This will be your measuring piece.

Choose a point for your binding ends to meet. It should be roughly in the middle of the gap. Lay your measuring piece with the center crease on the point you selected.

Measuring piece in the middle of the gap.

On the piece coming from the right side, go to the far left end of measuring piece and mark or cut the fabric. I prefer to cut it at this point, but it makes some people nervous.

On the piece coming from the left side, go to the far right end of the measuring piece and cut or mark the fabric.

Now open up both ends, and on the wrong side of the fabric, make an X in the square at the end.

Ends cut and opened for marking.
Mark at a 45 degree angle.

Position the fabric right sides together at a 90 degree angle in the square you just marked with an X. Pin to secure. NOTE: It is sometimes easier to do this if you fold the quilt in half at the point of the gap.

Take a good look at the tail coming off the intersection of the fabric. If you cut off the long ends, imagine where they were. Think of the two long tails as the “legs” of the binding. You want to sew across the “waist” of the cross fabrics, to give the binding a “belt” (the black arrow). You do NOT want to sew between the legs (the red arrow). (This tip comes from Kat Martinez at Capital Quilts. She says to “give the binding a belt, not a wedgie” and it is the best way I have ever heard to remember this. (By the way, this tip also works when sewing long strips of binding together at an angle.)

If you are making a flanged binding, put a pin through the seam between the flange and the binding fabric on one side where the “waist” mark intersects the seam. Make sure the pin goes through the seam on the other piece. The pin will not be at the center of the X.

Pin on either side of the “waist” line. It is especially important to pin on the “body” side because that side has more tension pulling on the seam area. Sew carefully on the “waist” line, taking out the pins before you sew over them.

I sew across and then check the binding before cutting off the ends. The binding should lay flat.

Trim the seam allowances to 1/4 inch and finger press them open.

Fold the binding on the center line and press.

Lay the binding on the edge of the quilt and pin. Start sewing with a backstitch a few stitches before the gap. Continue until a few stitches past the original starting place and back stitch.

Turn over your quilt and press the binding to see the seam. It should be almost indistinguishable from other seams in the binding.

Final view of the binding join when binding is complete.

Hope this helps with your binding joins. Happy binding!


I’m Back and All Things QuiltCon

2022 has been a whirlwind of a year and I have sorely neglected my blog as a result. I spent a couple of months out of town helping an ill family member, and everything else was pushed aside for a while.

But I am back and with lots of updates. First a few impressions of my first QuiltCon in February 2022 in Phoenix.

Hills in Sedona

My husband and I got into Phoenix a day early so we could drive up to Sedona for a day. It was beautiful, if chillier than we expected (we ended up buying a sweater and shawl so we didn’t freeze). This is one of my pictures and an inspiration for a new landscape quilt, which is in progress.

QuiltCon 2022 by the numbers from the Awards Ceremony

While I did not win any awards, I was excited to see the exquisite work of my colleagues. I was also impressed with the number of quilts (it took me three sessions in the exhibit hall to see all of the quilts).

I was fortunate to take a couple of classes (sign up was very competitive). My first class was in foundation paper piecing, taught by Brigit Dermott. I was so impressed at how easy it was to get precise piecing.

New York Beauty block from freezer paper piecing class 2022.

I also volunteered and got to spend time “white gloving” or wear gloves so I could turn quilts so people could see the back. I highly recommend volunteering. It gave me a chance to sit in on a couple of additional classes, and to meet many wonderful quilters. Here are a couple of picture of the exhibit hall and my quilts.

QuiltCon 2022 exhibit hall with Playtime
Karen with Playtime
QuiltCon exhibit hall with Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight
Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight at QuiltCon 2022

I also participated in the Mini-Swap. Elaine is holding the octagonal Drunkard’s Path quilt I made for her using ombre fabrics, and I am holding the rainbow hexie quilt she made for me! I have done the Mini-Swap for the last two years, and I have met two wonderful quilters.

Mini-Swap at QuiltCon 2022

As much as I loved QuiltCon 2022, I was ready to head back by the end of the week.

One thing I discovered was that I was most happy and comfortable when I had something specific to do. I loved the classes and the time volunteering. So I decided to apply to teach at QuiltCon 2023. I knew it was a long shot, but I carefully read the information on what kinds of classes they were most interested in and submitted proposals for several classes and a couple of lectures.

I am so excited to share that I have been selected as one of the 20 new faculty members for QuiltCon 2023. You can see the full list of faculty here. Stay tuned for the list of classes, available Monday June 14th.

I hope you can make it to Atlanta in February – QuiltCon 2023 has fantastic faculty and should be a great experience!

Favorite Quilts and Quilters

St. Paul’s Prayer Group Baby Quilt: The Story of the Quilt

While I was in college, I was part of a wonderful, vibrant faith community. I participated in St. Paul’s Prayer Group which met weekly on Thursday evenings. It was a great group that included many college students, but also many young families. It seemed like there were dozens of weddings and babies every year. Somehow, I ended up coordinating many of the quilts for these special occasions. For baby quilts, I would decide on a size and color scheme. Each person who wanted to participate would make a square. I usually used gingham to sash the squares and make a border. Then I would machine quilt or tie it and bind it. I honestly cannot tell you how many baby quilts I made over my years in the prayer group. I do remember graduating, moving away, and coordinating a couple of quilts long distance.

My husband was active in the St. Paul’s Prayer Group much longer than I was. Our wedding was definitely a Prayer Group wedding. We had a fantastic choir with St. Paul’s friends over many years joining together to sing and celebrate us. There was a caravan of cars travelling from Madison to Chicago. They took up a large portion of one floor in the hotel. We have heard that there was a lot of fun in the pool and at the hotel, when there weren’t wedding activities.

Our oldest son was born just about nine months after we got married. By then, we were living hundreds of miles away in Texas. I missed the baby showers that we would have had if we were still living near our family and friends. But one day, a large box was delivered. It was our Prayer Group baby quilt and it felt like a baby shower in a box.

Friends who had received wedding or baby quilts, and even some who hadn’t all contributed squares. My mother-in-law was a wonderful quilter and offered to assemble the quilt. While she was not part of the St. Paul’s Prayer Group, many of the Prayer Group members became like family and she knew them from softball games, parties and picnics. I want to share just a few of the blocks and their stories. The quilt is now 32 years old, but it still feels like hugs from all of our friends.

This little bear block is one of my favorites. It was made by a dear friend who was Matron of Honor at our wedding. I still smile when I see the fuzzy bear. And he has held up to heavy use and innumerable washings.

I also dearly love this bouncy bear. The counted cross stitch squares really have held up well over time – something I try to remember when it comes to making memory squares.

Applique was also popular. Some blocks were flannel applique, others were prints that were appliqued and embellished.

As you can tell, bears were a theme. At the time, I collected teddy bear ornaments, so everyone knew I loved them.

Some friends chose to use embroidered patches and appliqued them on squares. As you can see, in some cases, the background fabric shrunk more than the sashing.

The final block was the “name” block of the St. Paul’s Prayer Group.

I still love this quilt – my son sucked on the corners and the color is gone there. It has been very heavily used, but it is still beautiful.

I hope you have enjoyed learning the story of this wonderful quilt.


Reflecting and Planning

As the year draws to a close, I often take time to reflect on what I have accomplished this year and to begin planning for the next. When I looked at my list of quilts for 2021, I was surprised at how far my skills have come in a year. And 2021 was the first full year of Better Done Quilts. The business end of it has been successful and it looks like I will end the year in the black – not bad for the first full year of operations.

A year ago the idea of teaching quilting classes was just an idea. Now, I have taught the Tree of Life class series twice, a class on curved piecing, and I have been contracted to teach several more classes in 2022.

In December 2020, I found out that my Playtime quilt had been accepted as the June 2021 quilt of the month for the MQG Journal . You can follow the link and see the quilt. I had only written one quilt pattern, and I was both excited and scared. But I got the sample quilt done, the pattern written and I was so excited to see it come out in the spring. The Playtime quilt will also be going to QuiltCon 2022 as part of a special exhibit of quilts from the MQG Journal. I even made a second quilt with the original colorway I designed:

I got to make a quilt to show off the fabrics for the Fall in Love With Fall collection from Dandelion Fabric and Co. Here is my picture of the quilt in progress – much better pictures will be released in the upcoming months.

Fall in Love, 2021

I made a couple of Tree of Life quilts this year. I am currently working on a series of seasonal Tree of Life quilts. I finished Autumn Abscission in August.

Autumn Abcission, 2021

I branched out and tried some new and different ideas in my quilts. I took an idea from a earlier quilt of using strip piecing to create a landscape, and expanded it to add a silhouette. The result is “Madison”. This depicts the skyline of one of my favorite places.

Madison, 2022
Madison (detail), 2022

There is a lot of detail in this quilt, from the columns of the capital to the shapes and placement of the windows on the buildings. It was challenging to figure out, and a lot of fun to make! I am excited to share that in 2022 I will be teaching classes in making strip pieced land-, sea-, and sky-scapes.

I also finished several large quilts this year. I am so happy that I finished the Singapore Sling quilt. I still have to get outside to get good pictures, but here is one that shows off the fun fabrics from the Good Vibes collection by Christa Watson for Benartex.

Singapore Sling, 2021

I had some challenges with the quilting on this one. I quilted it on my Juki, but with the curves, there was some distortion in the fabric and the points don’t match as well as I would like. While I was quilting it, all I could see was the rough spots. When I was about 1/2 way through quilting, I considered taking it all out and quilting it on a long arm. After encouragement from experienced machine quilters, I kept going. And I love the texture now that it is done!

Singapore Sling (detail), 2021

As I begin planning for 2022, I am thinking of making a few less quilts. Some will be more complex, and some are new ideas that require me to learn new techniques. I am planning a trip to Phoenix for QuiltCon in February (virus permitting) and I plan to be at the Mid-Appalachian Quilt Guild retreat in July, 2022.

Stay tuned for more adventures in quilting in 2022.

WIPs and PhDs

Facing the UFOs One Day at a Time

Last year, participating in the first UFOvember made me take stock of my unfinished objects (UFOs). I decided that there were some that I very much wanted to finish in 2021. Here is one approach that I have found very effective.

I noticed that I felt overwhelmed with where to restart UFOs and how to keep moving. I decided that I needed a way to “break the surface tension” and get moving. In 2020, I made a couple of 100-day quilts. For the 100-day quilts, you piece one block or one section each day for 100 days, and at the end you have a quilt top. I allow myself to do more than the minimum, if I want, but I schedule about 15 minutes a day to work on the project. I found it was a great way to keep moving forward on one project and finish in a set amount of time. And I wondered if it would be helpful in tackling my UFOs.

The first UFO I decided to finish was a wedding quilt that was due three years ago. I took the two finished wedges of the Bluebonnet Broken Star and worked on adding one strip a day. Sitting down to the machine every day, I found that I often did more than the minimum. In a couple of months, the Bluebonnet Broken Star was pieced. I used the same approach of doing one piece a day to assemble it, add the borders and finish a scrappy pieced back. Then I sent it off to Prairie Folk Quilt Co. to get it quilted, so it did not go back into my UFO pile. Here’s the finished quilt:

Bluebonnet Broken Star 2021

I love the way the quilting shows off the piecing.

Next, I decided to tackle a Double Irish Chain that was partially pieced and sitting in a box. Originally, I planned on using this as a weight loss marker quilt with one block for each pound. Unfortunately between the stresses and life and the pandemic, I was not losing weight. Looking at the quilt made me upset that I did not meet my original goal, which wasn’t helping anything. I loved the color combinations and still wanted the finished quilt, so I decided to redeem it and finish it using the 100-day method. I already had about 30 blocks finished out of the 122 planned. I started making one block a day and finished the blocks and borders in a couple of months. I also sent this king-sized quilt to Amanda at Prairie Folk for quilting.

Irish Chain on the quilting frame
Irish Chain back

This quilt is now my Zoom background for teleworking. My November goal is to get it bound so I can put it on my bed. I’ll be sure the share the finished quilt with all of you.

My current one-step-at-a-time quilt is my Singapore Sling quilt. You can read in my earlier blog how this was designed and how I won a pack of Good Vibes Fabrics designed by Christa Watson for Benartex. I used the one-block-a-day approach to finish the blocks, assembly, and pieced backing. I got it basted and quilted according to my plan. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in how the quilting turned out. It clearly needed much more quilting than I originally planned. I put it aside as I finished my QuiltCon entries, then I looked at it again. While I still had questions about my quilting choices, I decided to keep going and quilt one line a day. At this rate, I should have the quilting done by the end of November. I already have the binding made, so once it is quilted, it is a quick finish. Check out my progress on Instagram.

Approaching my UFOs one day at a time has helped me complete three major, bed-sized quilts this year, in addition to the new projects I started and finished. Just 15 minutes a day or less. Which of your UFOs could use the one-day-at-a time approach?

Uncategorized WIPs and PhDs

UFOvember, 2021

Last year I participated in a blog hop for November. The topic was unfinished objects or UFOs. I pulled out my Bear’s Paw blocks from the early 1990s and turned them into a quilt coat. The coat is one of my favorites and it has been worn a lot. For that alone, I am glad that I participated last year. But participating in the UFOvember also made me think differently about my UFOs. My quilty colleagues had so many ideas and insights into why we create UFOs and what to do with them.

This year Bobbi Gentili (also known as Geeky Bobbin) is hosting the blog hop again, and I am enthusiastically joining in.

Just like last year, I will start with a reckoning of my current UFOs. (This is always the painful part.) I am starting with last year’s table so you can see how many UFOs got finished!

Quilt NameYear StartedCurrent StateWhy I Didn’t Finish
Bethlehem Star Wallhanging1993Needs quiltingWas hand quilting, which I took out because I would never finish it hand quilting.
Double Irish Chain
Quilt Your Weight Off
2018Pieced, assembled, long arm quilted by Prairie Folk Quilt Company. Waiting to be bound.Waiting for me to lose more weight I decided that I like the quilt and there was no reason to wait.
What My Grandma Gave Me – English Paper Pieced Carpenter’s Wheel2019Still piecing I will be piecing this for a long time – it is hand sewing and takes me forever!
Rainbow Hand Dye2020Front pieced, back partially piecedSet aside to finish Tree of Life quilt and pattern
Tree of Life Table Runner2020Partially quiltedSet aside to work on other projects with deadlines.
Completing this is my one monthly goal for November!
100-Day Improv Quilt-a-Long2020Still piecing Pieced, assembled. Backing selected. Still needs quilting.100 days ends 12/23/2020. Quilting is already planned out.

I got 5 UFOs finished this year, rehomed one, and made progress on two more. Here’s my current UFO list:

Quilt NameYear StartedCurrent StateWhy I Didn’t Finish
Bethlehem Star Wallhanging1993Needs quiltingWas hand quilting, which I took out because I would never finish it hand quilting.
Double Irish Chain
2018Pieced, assembled, long arm quilted by Prairie Folk Quilt Company. Waiting to be bound.I decided that I like the quilt and there was no reason to wait.
What My Grandma Gave Me – English Paper Pieced Carpenter’s Wheel2019Still piecing I will be piecing this for a long time – it is hand sewing and takes me forever!
Rainbow Hand Dye2020Front pieced, back partially piecedSet aside to finish Tree of Life quilt and pattern
Tree of Life Table Runner2020Partially quiltedSet aside to work on other projects with deadlines.
Completing this is my one monthly goal for November!
100-Day Improv Quilt-a-Long2020Pieced, assembled. Backing selected. Still needs quilting.Quilting is already planned out.
Christmas Table Runner2020Pieced, assembled, basted. Didn’t finish before the holidays.
Singapore Sling2021Pieced, assembled, basted, and partially quilted.Ran into problems with quilting and didn’t finish in time for QuiltCon2022 submission deadline.

Over the past year I have completed 5 UFOs and only added 2, so I have a net loss of 3 UFOs. That makes me very happy!

Later this month I will share more about how I power through these UFOs.

Here is the list with links to all of the UFOvember blogs. I encourage you to check them out:

November 1 – The Geeky Bobbin –

November 2 – Strawberry Creek Quilts –

November 3 – Katie Mae Quilts –

November 4 – Pretty Piney Quilts –

November 5 – Mary Go Round Quilts –

November 6 – Exhausted Octopus –

November 7 – Just Get It Done Quilts –

November 8 – By Hilary Jordan –

November 9 – Sew Hooked on Treasures –

November 10 – Sunflower Stitcheries and Quilting –

November 11 – Blue Heron Quilting –

November 12 – Carrington Creates –

November 13 – Sarah Goer Quilts –

November 14 – Better Done Quilts –

November 15 – Ashli Montgomery/Virginia’dele Smith –

November 16 – Puppy Girl Designs –

November 17 – Lovingly, Lissa –

November 18 – Art East Quilting Co –

November 19 – rjbosscher –

November 20 – Love to Color My World –

November 21 – LynsAvenue –

November 22 – Quiltfox Design –

November 23 – Maeberry Square –

November 24 – Karen Bolan Designs –

November 25 – Tina1802 –

November 26 – Lazy Cozy Quilts –

November 27 – True Blue Quilts –

November 29 – Sarah Ruiz Quilts –

November 30 – Lyric Art –

How are your UFOs?