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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!

Categories
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.

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Uncategorized

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.

Categories
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?

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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 – http://geekybobbin.com

November 2 – Strawberry Creek Quilts – www.strawberrycreekquilts.com

November 3 – Katie Mae Quilts – katiemaequilts.com

November 4 – Pretty Piney Quilts – https://prettypiney.com/blog

November 5 – Mary Go Round Quilts – www.marygoroundquilts.com

November 6 – Exhausted Octopus – https://exhaustedoctopus.com/blog/

November 7 – Just Get It Done Quilts – https://www.justgetitdonequilts.com/blog

November 8 – By Hilary Jordan – https://byhilaryjordan.com/

November 9 – Sew Hooked on Treasures – sewhookedontreasures.com

November 10 – Sunflower Stitcheries and Quilting – www.sunflowerstitcheries.com

November 11 – Blue Heron Quilting – https://www.blueheronquilting.shop/blog

November 12 – Carrington Creates – https://cbear7774.wixsite.com/thatsthewayitseams

November 13 – Sarah Goer Quilts – https://www.sarahgoerquilts.com

November 14 – Better Done Quilts – https://betterdonequilts.com/

November 15 – Ashli Montgomery/Virginia’dele Smith – http://www.meandcoach.com

November 16 – Puppy Girl Designs – http://puppygirldesigns.com

November 17 – Lovingly, Lissa – lovinglylissa.com

November 18 – Art East Quilting Co – www.arteastquiltingco.com

November 19 – rjbosscher – www.rjbosscher.com

November 20 – Love to Color My World – http://lovetocolormyworld.blogspot.com/

November 21 – LynsAvenue – lynsavenue.com

November 22 – Quiltfox Design – https://www.quiltfox-design.com

November 23 – Maeberry Square – https://www.maeberrysquare.com

November 24 – Karen Bolan Designs – https://www.karenbolan.com/blog

November 25 – Tina1802 – www.tina1802.com

November 26 – Lazy Cozy Quilts – www.lazycozyquilts.com

November 27 – True Blue Quilts – www.truebluequilts.com

November 29 – Sarah Ruiz Quilts – sarahruiz.com

November 30 – Lyric Art – LyricKinard.com

How are your UFOs?

Categories
Patterns and tutorials

From an Idea to a Quilt Pattern OR How I Work

This spring and summer were crazy busy and so much has happened. First, I have realized that my goal of blogging weekly is just not feasible with my life. So plan on hearing from me once a month. If you want to see what I am doing the rest of the time, please follow my Instagram @betterdonequilts. I typically post about 5 days a week on Instagram. I taught my first quilt class – the Tree of Life Pattern – at Capital Quilts and I learned a lot! I also was featured in Capital Quilts gallery and they did a video of me. You can check it out here.

I have also been working on getting a new quilt pattern ready to publish. I thought I would share the timeline for this one. It is my third self-published pattern, Mai Tais on the Lanai. This is the first quilt I designed in my Cocktail Quilts series, all of which use the Drunkard’s Path block. In September 2019, I was just exploring the Instagram quilting community and found my first give-away string. For this one, you had to follow a person, like the post and make and comment, then follow the prompts to do the same for a total of 10 accounts. The prize was a full set of Anthology Fabrics Island Home batiks, designed by Natalie Barnes. I was shocked when I won and a quilty mentor suggested that I design a new pattern for the fabrics.

I loved the colors of the fabric and immediately thought about tropical cocktails on an elegant lanai. I decided to work with a five-inch Drunkard’s Path block, and I used acrylic templates from Whole Circle Studio.

My plan was to write the pattern as I made the quilt. I thought I would be done by the end of 2019. Unfortunately, at the beginning of November a close family member was seriously ill and I spent November and December flying back and forth between their Midwestern home and my job on the East Coast. Then came 2020…

The upside of teleworking full time was that the 1 1/2 to 2 hours I spent commuting 3-4 days a week was now available for sewing. I finished my first Mai Tais on the Lanai quilt in April 2020, and I loved how it turned out!

I only used fabrics from the collection and I only purchased the blue for the border and binding. I used the scraps and fat quarters that did not make it on the front on the pieced back. This is one of my favorite pieced backs!

I quilted it using the walking foot on my Bernina 1260. I did a simple echo of the tile shapes and it worked out very well.

I did write down directions and took pictures as I worked on the quilt. But the pattern still needed some work and I set it aside “until I had time”. Early in 2021, Amanda from Prairie Folk Quilt Co. put out a call for pattern designers for her subscription service. I sent her a couple of ideas and she liked Mai Tais on the Lanai for a summer quilt. I worked quickly to get the pattern ready for testers and put out a call on Instagram. I finished the instructions, had sample illustrations from my excellent graphic designer (who happens to be my son). I ended up with five awesome testers who gave me critically important feedback on my quilt math, directions that were not clear, illustrations that they wanted and formatting. Here are a few of their quilt tops:

@praterclp
@justaquiltingirl
@sosunny_quilts
@hasmeinstitches

I sent the finished pdf off to Amanda, and started to prepare the print version of the pattern. Print versions often are a little different to allow quilters to see key information, like fabric requirements, without opening the pattern.

The finished pattern has four sizes and a 2-color and 6-color version. It is by far more complicated than anything I have written before. I am very grateful for the experience I gained writing up the pattern for Playtime for the MQG Journal.

During the release week (August 2-August 9, 2021) the Mai Tais on the Lanai pattern is on sale for $10. Get your copy now, before the price goes up!

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Uncategorized

Published

The last couple of months have been crazy busy between work, home, family and quilting. I finally got to reveal my super-secret project from the winter: my Playtime pattern was published as the June quilt of the month by the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG). I can’t share the pictures here, but I can give you the link to the Playtime article in the MQG Journal, Issue 02. Everyone can see the quilt and read the article, but you have to be a MQG member to download the pattern. It is really exciting that my second pattern ever is published by such a well-known organization.

While I can’t share the pattern or pictures, I can show you the new quilt I have made from the Playtime pattern. This was my original color plan. I learned so much from the process of submitting this to the MQG. They contacted me (before the deadline) to let me know they were interested in the pattern. They sent me a palette of seven colors and I had to use those fabrics to recolor the design and have it approved. They also approved the design for the back (which was not part of the original submission). Once the color plan was approved, I sent fabric and batting requirements and waited. From the day I got the wonderful box full of fabric and batting, until when the quilt and pattern were due to MQG was 36 days, so I got sewing right away.

The MQG sent very clear instructions on fabric preparation (do not wash), quilt preparation (add a hanging sleeve the same color as the back, add a label the same color as the finished quilt, do not wash the finished quilt), and pattern formatting. I really learned a lot about how to be clear in my instructions in a pattern.

Playtime: Black Edition

After I sent off the pattern and quilt, I waited to answer questions, give more information, and make sure they REALLY wanted the pattern and quilt. I sent off a head shot and brief biography – that was the hardest part for me!

Then I waited, and waited (3 months seems like a long time when you are excited) until I got the information to set up payment and next day, the MQG Journal was released!

I have really enjoyed the process and making another Playtime quilt. There is even a video on the Capital Quilts website of me talking about some of my recent quilts, including Playtime. You can see the video here. This is a still from the video with the Playtime quilt.

For the Playtime: Black Edition, I had a really short time to make it, so I didn’t wash the fabrics and didn’t put as much quilting in as I would have liked. As a result, the quilt doesn’t hang perfectly flat, but it is perfectly usable. I may try to add some quilting later. In any case, we are looking forward to this being our TV-watching quilt.

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Uncategorized

Pattern Testers Needed

I am looking for a few adventurous quilters to test my Mai Tais quilt pattern. This is one of my “cocktail” quilts and uses curved Drunkard’s Path blocks. I really value the contribution made by pattern testers. No matter how clear I *think* I am, they always point out some critical edits.

This pattern will be available in four sizes: Baby (40 x 40 inches), Throw (70 x 70 inches), Extra Long Twin (70 x 100 inches) and Queen/King (100 x 100 inches). There are two different color options shown, but you can change the colors to your taste. Here are some mock ups of the various sizes and and color options:

Baby

42″ x 42″
40″ x 40″
72″ x 72″

Throw

70″ x 70″

Extra Long Twin

72″ x 102″
70″ x 100″

Queen/King

102″ x 102″
100″ x 100″

Here are a few photos of the actual quilt:

Mai Tais on the Lanai – 2020
Detail of Mai Tais on the Lanai

This quilt will get you over a fear of curves!

Pattern testers will get to choose the size and colors they use and will keep their quilts. I provide a small stipend to help defray the cost of materials. Testers will have at least four weeks to make the quilt top.

If you are interested in being a pattern tester, please e-mail me and I will send you more information. It is really a lot of fun!

Applications close at 5pm ET on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. I plan on selecting testers and sending out the pattern by May 24, 2021 with comments due on June 23, 2021.

I hope you decide to join Better Done Quilts as a pattern tester.

Categories
WIPs and PhDs

Finished!

The 50 days of works in progress challenge is finished. From February through late March, I (and a bunch of others on Instagram under #50daywipschallenge) committed to only working on projects that were already started. I thought I should share the results. There is one quilt that I have finished, but I can’t share because it is a gift. Here’s the sneak peak:

I also got two other big quilts finished. I realized that in our current pandemic situation, I was not likely to be able to rent time on a long arm, and have a coach help me with some of the techniques that were beyond my experience (which is everything except simple edge-to-edge quilting or a basic meandering free-motion quilting). So I sent all three large quilts to long arm quilters.

My 100-day transformation quilt was sent to Sesvold Designs. Carmen is a friend from the Friendship Star Quilt Guild. She created a masterpiece, following the diamond shape on the quilt front with exquisite lines of quilting. Just look at the detail:

This quilt was a lot of fun. I started it June 1, 2020 as a block-a-day, 100-day project. I used up all of my strip scraps, and even took scraps from projects I worked on during that 100 days. The back is also special. For Labor Day 2020, my daughter wanted to do some tie dyeing. I decided to try ice dyeing. I had a patterned, white-on-white 108 inch backing that was the wrong color for the project it was intended for, so I decided to dye it. Here’s the result:

Not too bad for a first attempt. Carmen did a great job of lining up the center on the front and back of this extra large (112 x 112 inch) quilt. We are using this on our king-sized bed – the first quilt I have made that my husband and I can sleep under!

The second quilt I finished is a sampler quilt that I started in February, 2017 when the National Quilters Circle issued a block challenge for the Snowy Day Sampler by Andrea at Happy Cloud Creations. Each week a new block pattern was released. I had not made any quilts for about a year and a half and decided this would be a good choice to get me back into quilting. I had blue, purple and teal scraps from other projects, and found the pansy print to tie them together.

The fabrics included scraps from my childrens’ 4H sewing projects, my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding quilt and other quilts I have made. I wanted it queen sized, so I added borders. I loved making the big 16 inch blocks. They went so quickly and the quilt came together easily. After I finished the top, it sat in a box until this spring. I did make a back that lists all of the fabrics and their original use.

When I first learned how to use computerized long arm patterns, I developed an elaborate plan to quilt this, but I was told that it would take me years to gain enough skill to execute it on my own. Fortunately, I found Amanda, at Prairie Folk Quilt Company. Amanda and I have never met in person – I “met” her on Instagram when she hosted a contest for free long-arm quilting. I didn’t win, but I was so impressed with her work, and her comments, that I decided to send this quilt off to her. And I am so glad I did! She was great to work with, asked me a lot of questions about the look I wanted, and even looked at my original design for the quilting and incorporated some of it into her quilting design. I am so happy with how this turned out (and so is my daughter, who claimed it). And she finished it lighting quick. Look at this detail.

All in all, I am pretty happy with what I got done during my 50 days of works-in-progress. And I am very glad I have discovered the joys of collaborating with talented long-arm quilters. Now I am off to working on a new quilt. What are your spring quilting plans?

Categories
Patterns and tutorials

Wheelchair Quilts

As you know, I am a nurse and that affects my approach to quilting, especially when making Sick Day Quilts. Wheelchair quilts are a special category. There are so many questions I like to ask when planning a wheelchair quilt – Who will use it? Where (indoors, outdoors)? Can the user stand up on their own? and so on…

There are a few basics to remember: 1. Wheelchairs have wheels. You do not want the quilt to get caught in the wheels. It is bad for the quilt and can cause an accident. 2. People are different sizes. A wheelchair quilt for a child will be shorter and narrower than one for a large, older adults. I am offering one size of wheelchair quilt here, but this can be customized for any size.

If you are making wheelchair quilts as a service or charity project, remember to make some in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Not everyone like florals, or cats, or geometric prints. Some people like solids, or sports prints or regional prints. I strongly encourage making wheelchair quilts for gifts and donation.

The full directions are on my tutorial page and are here.

I made my test quilt in leftover Baltimore Orioles fabric and scraps of leftover orange, black and white prints. The pattern is very flexible. I decided to play with disappearing four patch patterns, so my squares were smaller than the 9 inches called for in the pattern. I just increased the border width to get the size I needed. You can also make it out of large print squares. The instructions specify four-patches, but any square that finishes at 9 inches will do. This is a great project for charm packs. This would also be a great use for test blocks from other quilts. If they are less than 9 inches, you can border them to get the right size.

WOF=Width of fabric

All seams are ¼ inch. All fabric should be sewn right sides together. Press after each seam. WOF = Width of fabric

Fabric needed:

  • Color 1 = ½ yard
  • Color 2 = ½ yard
  • Border = ½ yard
  • Binding = 1/3 yard Border fabric, 1/3 yard contrasting color (color 1 or 2)

Cutting Instructions:

  • Color 1: Cut (3) 5 x WOF. Sub cut (23) 5 inch squares.
  • Color 2: Cut (3) 5 x WOF. Sub cut (23) 5 inch squares.
  • Border: Cut (2) 2 ½ inch x WOF, Cut (2) 3 ½ inch x WOF
  • Binding: Border fabric: Cut (4) 1 3/8 inches x WOF. Contrasting fabric: Cut (4) 1 5/8 x WOF

Piecing

  1. Make 9 four patch blocks with color 1 and color 2 alternating.
  2. Assemble the quilt in four rows of three blocks each.
  3. Add 3 ½ inch borders down the sides. Measure the quilt lengthwise through the middle. Cut each border that exact length. Mark center on border and quilt top and pin border to quilt top matching centers. Sew with
  4. Add 2 ½ inch borders to top and bottom using the same instructions as step 3, but widthwise.  

Finishing

  1. Layer backing (wrong side up), batting, and quilt top (right side up). Baste the layers together and quilt as desired.
  2. Trim the quilt square.
  3. Binding-
  • Bind as desired. I like a flanged, two-color binding. The binding fabric (background fabric) will be the strip cut 1⅜″ wide, the flange fabric (Fabric E) will be the strip cut 1⅝″ wide.
  • Take the 1⅜″ strips and 1⅝″ strips. Cut off all the selvedge edges. Sew four 1⅜″ strips together end-to-end with a 45-degree angle. To do this, layer the right sides of the strips together at a 90-degree angle. Draw a 45-degree angle from lower right to upper left. Sew on the line. Cut extra fabric away to leave a ¼″ seam allowance. Press open. Repeat with all four of the 1⅝ ″ strips.
  • Then sew the 1⅝ ″ strips together in the same manner.
  • Sew the  two strips together along the long edge.
  • Press seam allowance toward the background fabric (the 1⅜″ strip) and away from fabric E (the 1⅝″ strip). Now fold over with wrong sides together so the raw edges meet and press. About 1/8″ of fabric E will show above the background fabric on the right side of the binding. Only fabric E will be seen on the wrong side of the binding.
  • On the back of the quilt, lay the binding with raw edges matching the raw edge of the quilt and the flange side (Fabric E) up. Start on the long side, 3 inches above the bottom corner. Stitch binding to back with ¼″ seam.
  • At the first corner, stop stitching ¼″ before the corner (A) and stitch off the corner at a 45-degree angle (B). Then fold the binding down as shown (C). Starting at the edge, backstitch then continue with a ¼″ seam to the next corner. Finish two corners as described above.
  • Stop 3 inches above the third corner, which should be at the bottom of the quilt. Back stitch and cut off the binding. The edge does not need to be turned under because it will be cut off for the toe box.
  • Start again on the bottom edge 3 inches from the corner and attach binding up to 3 inches before the fourth corners.
  • Your top two corners will have mitered binding. The bottom two corners will have 3 inches on either side left unbound.
  • Press the binding out with seam pressed toward binding. Then press binding over to the front of the quilt. Pin corners with miters. Slowly stitch in the ditch of the flange all the way around the quilt using thread that matches the flange color. 

Keep the remaining binding for the toe box

Forming the Toe Box

  1. After you bind the quilt, cut a 6.5 inch square from each of the bottom two corners. That should cut off the border and one patch of each of the corner four-patches.
  2. Sew the remaining raw edges to form a 90 degree angle. The bottom of the quilt should be like two sides of a box.
  3. Enclose the raw seams in additional binding. Make sure you turn the raw edges of the binding under before sewing.
Toe box side view
From back

I would love to see your wheelchair quilts and hear about who is using them!