Wednesday, February 06, 2013


I love this elephant block!  The elephants' trunks join in a snail's trail. It's a tough block to piece, and you can see I didn't do a perfect job. I'll have to fix it a bit, but I absolutely love the design. It finishes at 24" square. I found the pattern here.

I have been doing a lot of quilting -- went to a really fun retreat and worked on a bunch of stuff. This is the center back to the quilt I showed on the last post, and I'll save the rest for another post. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I have not been playing catch up on this blog as I had intended, so here's the latest quilt instead. Just finished piecing this top to the size of a baby quilt (currently 36" square). Babies like high contrast, so I figured this would be a good design. I plan to add borders -- I think a very narrow black followed by a larger white & black (lots of white, a very little black) and an occasional wonky red diamond. I made 2-1/2 blocks of this several years ago, but once I decided to finish it, it was very quick.

The back will be fun -- red, white and black elephants! Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Another way to label a quilt

I hate labeling quilts, probably because I'm not very good at it. I should learn to print one on fabric, though I hate stitching those on. I had seen somewhere that a quilter had machine embroidered her label on the binding, and I thought I'd try something similar on the quilt I made for my husband. (You can see that quilt, the purple kaleidoscope, here.)

I used hand embroidery with 3 strands of floss. I wrote the words on the edge of a piece of paper and laid that next to the binding so I could get the spacing right. Nothing, not even a white pencil, showed up well, so I just tossed both paper and pencil and did freehand stitches. I got looser as I went, and I think it shows. This was much faster than making a traditional label, and I like the way it looks!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Challah covers

My daughter got married this summer and when her future mother-in-law invited me to a bridal shower last spring, I wanted to give her something personal but also something she would use. Something homemade, I thought, would be perfect, but nothing so big that it would be awkward for the newlyweds if it didn't suit their taste. I finally decided on challah covers.

 What are challah covers, you ask? On Friday night in Jewish homes, the sabbath is welcomed by lighting candles and saying blessings over the wine and bread. The traditional challah, a braided bread rich with eggs, is covered with a decorated cloth.

This challah cover says, in Hebrew, shabbat shalom -- peaceful sabbath. I think Hebrew letters are absolutely gorgeous, but I don't read Hebrew and so I wasn't at all sure that I could make free pieced letters that would still be recognizable. My son-in-law's family are Israeli and would definitely know if I botched the Hebrew, so I was pretty nervous about this. Google to the rescue! I saw this fabulous challah cover on Malka Dubrawsky's blog, A Stitch in Dye. Armed with that and free piecing techniques I learned from Tonya Ricucci (see her book, Word Play), I stitched this up. I love the colors! Now that I know it's legible and actually really and truly says "shabbat shalom," I may try another that's a little wonkier. How much fun would that be?

The design of this batik challah cover has a history. In one of the Renaissance synagogues still standing in the Ghetto Nuovo in Venice, there are floor tiles set in a design that I copied (above). But the tile was laid with an obvious mistake in one of the sections, as a reminder that only God is perfect. Check out the lower left block here and you'll find the mistake. As I told my daughter, I sketched the tiles from memory (no photos were allowed) and may not have gotten the basic block quite right -- but after all, only God is perfect!

The third challah cover I made from the Circle of Life I posted about here. I knew when I posted about it that I wanted to turn it into a challah cover, but didn't say anything because I didn't want to spoil the surprise! I'm thinking of turning the small kaleidoscope quilt in my last post into a challah cover, too.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Two Kaleidoscopes

Rather than playing catch up with this blog, I'll start by posting my two most recent finishes, both of them made following Ricky Tims' Kool Kaleidoscope Quilts instructions. He explains the process very clearly, step by step, and it's really pretty easy. He has a method that you learn, but the rest is up to you -- choice of size, division of wedges, fabrics, final layout, etc. Although he tells you to "be surprised," I couldn't help but try to plan how it would come out. This one is going up in my husband's office. The quilt is about 42" square.

The following one, only about 15" square, was made using the same method. I made fewer divisions in the wedge and was much more adept at planning what I wanted the second time around. I think it looks like a star that wants to be a snowflake.

The outside is made with leftover yardage from another project, but the kaleidoscope part of the quilt is made with leftover jelly roll strips from some placemats I made for my mother-in-law to use in her new home:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Circle of Life

There is so much exciting stuff going on in the quilting world that I jumped at the chance to join the newly formed Modern Quilt Guild (Central Illinois chapter). Our first challenge was to make a Circle of Geese block and turn it into a finished piece. You can find the free Piece by Number pattern here.
I made mine a circle of life (geese, after all, qualify as living!) and went dark to light in the circle, and then made borders that went light to dark on two sides, and dark to light on two others. The outer red isn't part of the quilt, but the white borders didn't show up on my white design wall!

My friend Mary made a tote from her geese block. The front is the basic block done in purple and teal batiks, but running out of fabric made her get creative on the block for the back -- look at the amazing star that forms in the center when you do it in a different fabric from the background. Wow! (Sorry about the poor lighting in the photo.)

I've been doing a lot of quilting and no blogging lately, so I'm starting with the most recent and will catch up in subsequent posts. Here's a Project Linus top I just finished -- it had been almost done for a couple of years and when I finally pulled it out, it took only an hour or so to finish it up. It's a Disappearing 9 Patch with a bear theme for a local summer camp for children with cancer.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Love and a swap

I'd been putting off making a block for Julie's White Coat Project because I didn't know how to do it. I decided I wanted to make something using selvages since Julie has made quilts with them, but I've never worked with them before. I also wanted to make something with free-pieced letters, but I didn't know what I could do in a small block. Finally, I decided to try Tonya's classic LOVE block.
This is 6-1/2" unfinished, with each letter block finishing at 2-1/2". The selvages are stitched down only in the seams -- is that how it's done? Well, it's how I did it! I hope it plays well with the other blocks Julie receives.
I participated in an I Spy swap, so much fun! I make lots of I Spy quilts and a swap is a great way to get a variety of fabrics. I had a few plans for what I'd do, but the squares started out at 5" (so they finish at 4-1/2"), and that's awkward for using them with other blocks. I've been seeing some rainbow I Spy quilts -- like this stunning one at Mermaid's Purse --and thought I'd like to try one. The swap didn't provide me with 10 squares of each color, so I had to supplement from my stash, but that just means I have leftovers for another quilt! I bordered each square on 2 sides with solids and arranged them stepwise (the picture is sideways). I've sewn much of it together, just haven't taken the photo yet. It's fun and quick.