Catching up on documentation, one quilt at a time

This was made when Miranda was in 2nd grade. Her 2/3 class did a project called “Zoom into Physics with Roller Coasters” where they learned physics concepts such as gravity, velocity, and acceleration as applied to roller coasters.


Each student drew a character to ride the roller coaster; some drew themselves, some drew other people, and some drew animals.


Miranda drew a narwhal. A blue, happy narwhal waving its flipper.


The stars in the sky are about the concepts they learned.


The backing is a space theme, because the roller coaster takes off into space, and the same concepts are applied to rocket ships.


I had a lot of fun making this quilt. It’s the first time I really worked with what is technically called raw-edge applique. Which in my case means “cut carefully around the drawing and sew it to the background”. I added some details like using grey bias tape for the coaster tracks, black felt circles for wheels, and silver/grey yarn for the links between the cars.

Molecules to Galaxies

A baby quilt for my friend Liz’s first child. Liz is my word nerd pal and her husband is a scientist, so I dug out all the nerdly fabrics I could find for this one. There’s molecules, space, circuit boards, parentheses and or gates, and a fabric I’ve always thought of as a topographic map of the deep ocean, along with other blues to balance it out.

The full quilt:


A closeup:


Label on the back:



Finished size: 36″x 48″

Starting from when my kids were in preschool, every year I offer to their teachers to make a class quilt. This is from Theo was in 3rd grade. His 2/3 (2nd and 3rd grade combined) class was doing a project on birds, where they researched different birds, learned about their habits, and went birdwatching in local parks. Each student did a drawing of a bird and then I put them together to make the quilt. Here’s the whole quilt:


The title block:


Theo’s block:


Some other closeups. This one features one of my favorite blocks, Julienne’s “Rainbow Awesome Bird” in the upper left:


This one has Julia’s spectacular four-panel drawing of a red hawk in flight on the right:


The backing, made up of several nature prints:


Finally, this was the day that I brought the finished quilt in to show the class:


Finished size: 36″ x 48″

I think I’ve done a total of 10 class quilts over the years. I have a lot of fun, working with the kids in a small group setting and pulling all their art together. There’s always a huge difference in interest for this project: some kids will have to be pretty much dragged over and they spend maybe 2 minutes total doing a drawing, and then others will stay for half an hour put in detail after detail.


This is a quilt I just finished for my friend Fiel’s second baby, Sun. Sun isn’t technically a baby anymore, more like a toddler. I used some of my favorite animal fabrics that have shown up in a bunch of my other quilts; this quilt is actually done entirely from my stash.


Here’s a closeup of one of the zebra blocks. I quilted in the ditch around each square; in the future I’ll probably try echo quilting the squares instead.

This was also my first attempt at doing completely machine-sewn strip binding. When I started quilting I did strip binding where I sewed the first lines with machine, wrapped to back, and handsewed the back. The handsewing can take some time, and it puts a lot of stress on my hands. Then I’ve done back-to-front binding, where the backing is larger and then wraps around to the front to do binding. This time I tried doing the more strip binding and sewing it both times by machine. It’s pretty tricky and my results were so-so; I need a lot more practice but I do like this look.


Closeup of the label on back. The backing fabric is a flannel space theme.


Finished size of the quilt is 35″ square.

So I was sitting at my computer the other day, thinking about the quilts I just finished, and I thought, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great if I had a blogsite to blog about the quilts I’ve done? It would be a quick way to… oh. OH, wait, didn’t I do that?” And embarassingly, it’s been a long enough time that I couldn’t actually remember the name of my quilt blogsite and how to get to it. But I did and then I did and here I am again. The intervening years would take far too long to explain, at least the non-quilting parts, so I’ll just skip it.

Here’s one of the projects I just finished. Every year for my kids’ schools I make a quilting project to donate to the school auction. Some years I have also made a quilt with the class, but that’s yet another topic. I’ve taken to making quillows (quilt + pillow = quillow) as they are snappy to make and make nice impulse purchases.

This year I chose these lovable hedgehog fabrics that I bought last year.


The quilting is very simple; first I did echo quilting on both sides of the blue band. I took the tip from Elizabeth Hartman‘s book The Practical Guide to Patchwork and did echo instead of stitch-in-the-ditch, and I’m really happy with the result. Then I did zigzag quilting in the fat borders.


Somewhere in the back of my mind, zigzag = spikes = hedgehog quills. Or as Miranda said, “I get it! Hedgehogs have quills so you made quill-ows with hedgehogs on them!”


For the backs of the pillows, I used the same bright blue as the square on the front. Pillowcases are removable for washing and 18″ square.


Bejeweled Baby

I think of this quilt as the little sister of my Bejeweled Rattlesnake quilt. After I finished Rattlesnake, I had a lot of 3″ wide strips left over, so I thought I could make a quick quilt from them. Inevitably, when I had the first squares up on my design wall, Miranda came in and exclaimed about how much she loved it and asked if it was for her (Her MO is to always ask if something is for her), so it ended up on her bed. Each square is 10″, total finished size is 52.5″ square.

I started by sewing the strips into groups of four, and then working with the 1×4 strips to create different squares. 15 of the squares are made up of two pairs of the same strips, with alternate directions. The 16th square is made of four different strips. What amazes me is how quickly the eye can pick out that 16th square, without knowing exactly why it’s different.

I debated for a long time whether to put the squares adjacent to one another or to add in white sashing. Miranda voted for making the squares adjacent, but ultimately I was happier with the sashing, I like how it kind of gives your eye a respite between the intense colors of the squares. Somewhere along the line I was inspired to put the single 2.5″ squares in between like stepping stones. I really like the result.

The other exciting part of this quilt is that this is my first full quilt that was done with free-motion quilting. There are definite problem areas; sometimes the flower motifs were too far apart and I had to put in some sort of ellipsis quilting in between. There are lots of places where the stitch length varies wildly, and some parts where it may be problematic, i.e. the stitches are so loose that the may snag. But overall I’m thrilled with it and it was a lot easier than I thought to get a decent result. This is a closeup to show the flower motif.

Here’s the back label and another picture showing the four fabrics I pieced together for the backing. Two of those fabrics are the same as the fabrics used for the backing of the Rattlesnake; the other two are flannels that Miranda picked out when we went to Discount Fabrics.

The backing is all flannel; I often put flannels on the back because they feel nice. Interestingly, Miranda often sleeps with the front side down; I think it’s because she loves tucking her head under and seeing the light coming through the squares like stained glass.

Animal Paintbox

I made this quilt for my cousin Janet’s third child, Hana. Hana was born in the spring of 2010. I based this on the Paintbox pattern by Elizabeth Hartman. It was my first experience with fussy cutting- I chose to highlight an animal from each fabric.

Here’s another animal at the center:

I enjoyed working with white space and learning how the pure whiteness could add to the rhythm. It’s like the pause between the notes.

I like how each square becomes like a little mini-quilt in the larger setting. From a practical standpoint, it’s a fast way to make a quilt a lot bigger with a smaller number of blocks.

The backing is another animal print that I had collected in my humongous animal print stash. I did simple stitch-in-the-ditch quilting around each square.