“A Symphony of Color”

"A Symphony of Color" for Miranda

“A Symphony of Color”
for Miranda

Here’s a picture of the quilt that I quilted on Julie Brandon’s Nolting Longarm Machine.  It was so big, the only way to get a full photo of the whole quilt was to stand on a staircase and have someone help me hold it up.

A couple years ago, I bought 2 packs of identical Kaffe Fassett fabrics with the goal of making a quilt for each of my boyfriend’s daughters.  I brought the fabrics to retreat in 2015 and started on them.  First, I had to cut the strips into squares.  Some of the squares were sewn together to make 4-pathes, while others were left whole.

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The free pattern that I was using called for borders to be sewn onto each 4-patch and each whole square.  You were supposed to have 2 different color borders or a light and a dark border.  You would then alternate the placement of the blocks so you had contrasting borders next to each other.  Before I started sewing the borders onto the blocks, I wanted to see how it would look.  One of our members had taped batting to the wall to use as a desing wall and was kind enough to let anyone use it.

Since I wanted to do one quilt in a purple color way and one in a teal color way, I put 15 block centers on the wall then added the borders to see the whole thing done in purple, then in teal.  Then I decided to take this photo to see both colorways next to each other.

(In case you’re wondering, the blue strips on the outside are not part of the design.  They are the blue tape that was used to hold the batting on the wall.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric for the borders because the pattern had an error in the fabric requirements listed.  So, off to the Quilter’s Daughter quilt shop in Perry, NY I went. Of course, I couldn’t find more of the fabric that I bought somewhere else over a year before.  I bought other fabric to try to add, but ultimately, out of frustration, I put the whole thing away and moved on to something else at reatreat.

A year later, I decided it was time to get these fabrics out and just make one quilt out of them.  My boyfriend’s oldest daughter was going to be graduating high school and I knew she would love the colors.  Since I still didn’t have enough fabric to make it big enough for the Twin XL dorm bed, Plan B became an adaptation of the orginal pattern.

I didn’t have a design wall, so I created one by hanging a flannel backed tablecloth from the top of the stack of plastic drawers that hold all our fabric.  A lot of the pieces just stuck to the flannel backing.  I did use pins when I needed to, especially on the outer borders.  I was surprised by how great it worked!

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It still needed to be a little larger, so I added a Piano Keys border.  Not only does this border look great, but Jim’s daughter is going to study music in college, so it really is the perfect choice!

 

 

 

 

 

You can see by how valuable a design wall is when you compare it to laying a quilt out on a bed or the floor.  Having a straight on view of really makes a difference.

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I really encourgage you to try playing with blocks on a design wall.  It doesn’t have to be big.  And it doesn’t have to be permanent.

Things that make me smile:

  • Fresh picked Sweet Hundreds Tomatoes
  • An all day class with Annie Unrein hosted by Patchwork Garden Quilt Shop
  • Having my mom in the same Annie Unrein class!

Let’s go spread some sunshine!

-Melanie

“Turmoil” – a Storm at Sea Quilt

Turmoil by Melanie Watson

Turmoil
by Melanie Watson

Although it’s not as unique as Yiting Lin’s “Counting Fish”, “Turmoil” is a Storm at Sea quilt I made in 2008. I used a John Flynn pre-cut kit of batik fabrics. I really enjoy pre-cut kits because I lose a lot of time trying to decide on which fabrics to use and where to put them in the quilt. I made the blocks very much random. This was a challenge for me, since I usually like to have everything planned from the beginning. It seems I take more time thinking, planing and talking about making quilts than actually quilting.  Prec-cuts prevent this and get me right to the project. When the blocks were completed, I laid them out to see what kind of pattern I could create. Since I finished this quilt in 2008, I just did simple stitch-in-the-ditch quilting. (I’m sorry I only have a photo of a portion of the quilt. I’ll swap this photo for a better picture later when I get the quilt out again sometime.)

Things that make me smile:

  • Bicycle riding. Jim and I went on a 20 mile bike ride last weekend.  I was exhausted, but lived to tell about it.  In fact, I went for a 10 mile bike ride after work a few days later.
  • Posting something on this blog. I’m really going to make a point to post something every week, even if it’s just a picture and a paragraph like this post. It may be something old. It may be something new. It may be something someone else made that I found inspiring.
  • Leaving work on Friday!

Let’s go spread some sunshine!

-Melanie

Quilt Retreat projects

A couple weeks ago I was lucky enough to be on a 4 day quilting retreat at Asbury Camp and Retreat Center in Silver Lake, NY with about 20 friends from our quilt guild. This is the entrance to the building that we ate and did our sewing in. I love the antique ski’s and sled. I always feel welcome here. It must be the nostalgia of the antique ski’s and sled. Even the pay phone on the wall reminds me of a time when life was slower and we were connected more to people by the sound of their voices than the beep of a text. I brought several projects to work on,  and didn’t actually finish anything. I did, however, have a lot of fun and get a lot done!

Shop Hop Christmas quilt

The first thing I worked on was a project from a Shop Hop from several years ago. Each participating quilt shop handed out a small number of charm squares. For those of you who are new to quilting, or for my non-quilting blog followers, “charm packs” are made up of 5″ squares of fabric. At the last quilt shop that you stopped at in the shop hop, you are given a pattern to make something with all the fabrics you’ve collected along the way. I did have to add more white fabric, but the colored fabrics were all gathered on the shop hop. Next, I will add borders.

I also worked on a couple of quilts for my boyfriend’s daughters. I started with a 6″ wide roll of a variety of fabrics by Kaffee Fassett. His fabrics are gorgeous and vibrant. Originally when I bought the Kaffee Fassett fabric, I bought 1 yard cuts of 2 other fabrics for each quilt not knowing quite what I was going to do as a far a pattern went.

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I found a pattern that I loved. I got all the 4 patches made for both quilts. Then I hit a stumbling block. The pattern requirements listed 1-1/2 yard cuts of a light and a dark shade of the same color as borders to the 4 patches. I thought I had the perfect fabrics to use for the block borders, but alas, I didn’t have enough.

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I played with a variety of turquoise fabrics that I had with me to see if I could make it work by mixing more than 2 border fabrics, but I felt the busyness was taking away from the gorgeous Kaffee Fassett fabrics. So I decided to try solids instead.

039This photo shows the last versions that I had on the design wall. On the left side is a small sample of the quilt for Hayley that will have purple borders. On the right side is the sample of the quilt for Miranda that will have turquoise as the borders. For now, these quilts are at a stand still until I find the right fabrics for the block borders. I have plenty of UFO’s to keep me busy in the meantime.

In case you’re wondering what the blue strips are that are around the edges, it’s nothing more than blue painter’s tape holding a piece of batting onto the wall. It’s an easy way to make a quick design wall. Thanks for the idea and the batting loan Lori!

Things that make me smile:

  • Getting the perfect birthday present for someone
  • Baking cookies
  • Listening to 80’s music with my boyfriend, Jim. He’s mostly a progressive rock, and classic rock guy, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out he likes some of the same music of the 80’s that I like.

Let’s go spread some sunshine!

-Melanie

Winter Quilts from the 2014 Stitches in Time Quilt Show

There were so many wonderful winter quilts at the Stitches in Time Quilt Show last month. Here are just a couple of my favorites from the show.

"Yesterday" by Kay Lennon

“Yesterday” by Kay Lennon

Kay Lennon’s “Yesterday” is a great example of how to use a panel that you would hate to cut up. Yes, you do cut it, but you get to keep the integrity of the panel and add interest by piecing the window frames. Kay gave the piece even more interest by

detail on "Yesterday" by Kay Lennon

detail on “Yesterday” by Kay Lennon

adding details with jingle bells and beads. There are jingle bells on the horses, white beads on the snow, snow flake shaped beads on the window frame, just to name a few details. Quilting should always enhance a quilt top, not distract from it. Kay quilted it herself and did a great job. The quilting makes the snow look light and fluffy. I kept stopping to look at this quilt throughout the show. Each time I found a new detail. I still don’t know which detail I like best!

Another favorite of mine was Trudy Kutter’s “No School – It’s a Snow Day” which won an Honorable Mention award at the show. The pattern is called “Snow Days” by Janet Locey. When you compliment Trudy on the quilt, she will immediatey tell you that it was a kit as if she didn’t do anything. Don’t let her fool you. She may have picked it up as a kit, but it did not cut and sew itself. She really did a great job. Her points are perfect.

No School - Its a Snow Day by Trudy Kutter

No School – Its a Snow Day by Trudy Kutter

She found the kit at Mt. Pleasant Quilting Company in York, New York. It’s a great shop that I wish I lived closer to. On Saturday, November 15th they are having a Holiday Open House Extravaganza from 10 to 4. They’ll have some quick projects that you can make for Christmas gifts as well as some sweet treats!  Check it out if you have time that day!

Things that make me smile:

  • Watching kids jump into a huge pile of leaves.
  • Being a kid again and jumping into the leaves too.
  • Playing the card game Spoons.

Let’s go spread some sunshine!

-Melanie

The Digby Quilt

In 2009 I went to Nova Scotia, Canada with my mom and  aunt and uncle. As on all our vacations, we ventured into the local quilt shop. I thought it would be nice to make a quilt to commemorate our trip. I found a gorgeous pack of batik fabric that was pre-cut into 2-1/2″ strips. It might have been the first time I saw a Bali Pop fabric pack. What a great idea! Have someone else cut the strips so I can get to the sewing quicker! This one was called Strawberry Fields by Hoffman Fabrics. I also bought the pattern to make this quilt at the same shop. I had planned on making it as soon as I got home….

"The Digby Quilt" by Melanie Watson

“The Digby Quilt”
by Melanie Watson

I finally finished it this year as part of our quilt guild’s challenge to see what we could finish for the quilt show. I actually finished this one with time to spare since I decided to stop over thinking it.

Lighthouse at Digby, Nova Scotia, Canada

Lighthouse at Digby, Nova Scotia, Canada

 

I had very grandiose plans to digitize the lighthouse in Digby and and some of the other lighthouses that we saw on our trip. My idea was to make extra blocks using 1 piece of light colored batik in the centers bordered by darker batiks. I thought I could embroider the lighthouses in the centers of those additional blocks. Maybe add some applique silhoulettes in black on those blocks or over some of the blocks after it was pieced.

 

 

After several years not finding time to digitize, I decided it was time to make the quilt anyway. I could wait, possibly years, until I “find time” to digitize the lighthouses, or I could make the quilt. I could keep dreaming of the “perfect” way to memorialize a great vacation, or I could make a beautiful quilt and actually use it!

Mom and I in front of the Digby Scallop Trawlers

Mom and I in front of the Digby Scallop Trawlers

I thought the quilt needed a little something extra when I finished it. At first, I went back to the idea of adding black silhouttes of lighthouses and seagulls and scallops. Ultimately, I decided that no matter where I added a silhouette, I would be covering up the beautiful batik fabric that I so loved. Instead, I took a real leap and cut the edge in a random curve with the rotary cutter. I thought that scalloping the edge would be appropriate since Digby, Nova Scotia is known for its scallops. I learned a valuable lesson. I’d heard of bias binding, but it seemed like more work than necessary for the average quilt. So, I’d always cut my binding straight, not at the 45 degree angle. As I was sewing the binding on, I vaguely remembered hearing that you cut the binding on the bias when you need to go around curves.  Well, my binding isn’t perfect, but I’m still happy with it. Lesson learned.

Things that make me smile:

  • Being in a quilt guild. If you are a quilter and you are not in a guild, then you are missing out. After all, if not for the guild challenge, the fabric and pattern for “The Digby Quilt” would probably still be in their original packages.

Let’s go spread some sunshine!

-Melanie