My Neighbor Totoro Baby Quilt

When my friend contacted me to ask if I’d be able and willing to do a My Neighbor Totoro-themed baby quilt for her son (who happens to be almost the same exact age as my youngest!) I was thrilled! I got to work right away drawing up a design. I came up with the idea to have a simple background with Totoro himself on the front. This was my sketch. Whenever I design baby quilts, I like to design them a bit larger, so that the kiddo can use them for their toddler beds and more as they get older.

I decided on 6” strips, and as you can see in my design I did not take into account seam allowances, so the actual quilt turned out much more square. That’s okay, since the applique ALSO didn’t turn out exactly like my sketch- I wound up doing much more of Totoro for the applique, which I like better anyways.

To make Totoro, I taped together three pieces of freezer paper and using a reference photo, freehand drew the character, making it as big as I actually wanted it to be on the quilt. Now, here’s where I made another mistake (and I will probably keep making it, because there just isn’t an easy way to not do this). I drew him the correct way, when I should have drawn him mirrored, because I wanted to apply the freezer paper to the BACK of the fabric. Oops. So, I had to trace over the first drawing a second time, working on the mirror of it.

It actually worked out fine, because I had to do individual pieces to make all of Totoro in the separate colors. So I drew the nose, then the umbrella, then the underside of the umbrella, then the whiskers, then the eyes, etc, etc.

Once all the pieces were drawn out, I cut them out, ironed them to their respective fabrics, and then cut the fabrics out. Now, for some reason, when I worked with freezer paper before, I was always able to peel both sides of the paper off, leaving only the sticky middle. That didn’t work this time, so I wound up just taking the freezer paper off entirely, and basting the pieces down using either spray starch (for the larger pieces) or Elmer’s glue sticks (for the smaller pieces). I also pinned the pieces down as I stitched, just to help them stay where they were supposed to. I then did raw-edge stitching around the applique, because I wanted the fabrics to fray a bit, to give a feeling of furry-ness to the character. My idea was to make it seem more life-like.

Finally, the last thing to do was to quilt it. I spent a couple days deciding between a pantograph of rain drops and just straight quilting to mimic the look of rain. Eventually, I let my friend decide. She chose the straight line quilting and I’m so glad she did! I think it really enhances the quilt without detracting from Totoro. I even worked a couple of rain drops bouncing off the umbrella.

Overall, I loved working on this quilt. It was a little intimidating because applique is usually not my thing, but I’m so very, very pleased with how it turned out, and she loved it, so I’m definitely considering this a win in my book!

Happy stitching!

Postcard from Sweden

I bought this kit in 2015. Finally, after years of staring at it, I decided it was past time to put it together! It came in such a pretty way; all 36 colors were arranged in a rainbow cascade. I loved it! Unfortunately, when I took at look at the directions, the way she laid them out was NOT in the same order. And none of the fabrics were labeled. So, my first order of business was comparing the colors to pictures online to figure out which one was which, and putting them in order, before labelling them. This process, all told, took me at least a couple of hours. Honestly, it was the worst part about the whole quilt!

After cutting the triangles, I started the piecing process. I had a sew-in that I brought them to, which was good because I could lay them all out. Since I hadn’t labeled each triangle as I cut them, I assembled them block by block, and row by row, referring occasionally to the pictures. Yes, the way I did it took me much longer, but it wasn’t too bad after I got in a groove. I did need more space for this process, since I also had to lay each row out as I assembled them, and it did prevent me from chain piecing, so I spent a lot more time getting up to trim, iron, and grab more pieces. All told, assembly of the top took probably about 10 hours total with this process. If I were to do it again, I’d probably get some small labels for each piece so I could chain piece, and hopefully save myself some time!

Once all the rows were assembled, and the rows put together, I had to decide on a quilting design. On the example quilt, the designer had done simple, wavy lines from edge to edge, and originally I had planned to do the same. I wanted a quilting design that wouldn’t detract from the But I really wanted to try this new pattern out, and I figured that it would blend well enough since it was a pretty benign design. And boy, I was right. I absolutely LOVE how it looks- I’m a huge fan of dense quilting, and this really fit the bill! It complimented the quilt without overpowering the top. I chose to use a grey thread to blend. The backing is a cerulean minky I found on a recent trip to a local quilt store up north (a whole different story, but if you’re ever in the Traverse City, MI area, check out Renee’s House of Quilting; it is an *amazing* store and I spent literal hours there! I couldn’t get enough of all the kits they had on their walls. It’s been a long time since I wanted to buy every other kit I saw there, but that was the case! Anyways, back to this quilt.) I’ve never quilted with minky before, only cotton and fleece- but I absolutely, positively adore how the quilting pops on the back! I’m definitely using minky as backing more often in the future.

The kit originally came with enough to make the smaller of the two sizes, but honestly it had enough that, with a little swapping of just a couple triangles, there was plenty to make the larger size. The tricky part was that the binding came with the kit and I was worried there wouldn’t be enough of that- but there was just enough!

This kit was purchased with me in mind; and I’m definitely keeping this one. In fact, one of the reasons I made it is that this Saturday I’m going to a local craft show and having a booth there, and I wanted this one to be one of my display quilts. (Can you guess the other quilt I want to display? If you guessed my Make It Rain(bow) Bargello quilt, you’re right!)

Postcard from Sweden kits are still available, I believe, although you’d have to go to Etsy to find some I think. I know the directions are free online (I’ll link them here too!), so you could always just download the directions and get the fabric on your own. It might even be easier that way- you could have them labeled for you ahead of time and save yourself some sorting hours!

Anyways, that’s all for today; have a wonderful week, and happy stitching!

Star Wars Baby Quilt

Years ago, back when I was just beginning my quilting journey, I made a Harry Potter themed baby quilt for a friend of mine. Recently, she reached out to me to ask if I’d make her second kiddo a baby quilt. Uh, OF COURSE. She told me she was thinking a Star Wars theme, and even had a focus fabric that she really liked!

It was a bit difficult to get this fabric, as it was a very popular, newly released line of fabric through JoAnn’s, and it was sold out in both my local store and online. (This was during the height of the pandemic, back in October, and everyone wanted cool fabric to use in making masks.) Luckily, there was another store not too much farther away that had it in stock, PLUS a bunch of coordinating fabrics from the same fabric line! It turned out to be a good thing that I went into the store (although it was still so -weird- to go into a store at that time) because I was able to match the solid fabrics to the exact shade of the fabric line.

The applique name is possibly my favorite; I drew it out based on the actual Star Wars text that I found online! The resistance symbols were freehand drawn as well. I used Steam a Seam on the back to really glue the applique down before stitching.

The design I chose was a space/planet/star edge to edge that I found on Urban Elementz. I love space quilts so I know I’ll get a lot of use out of this particular design in the future!

For the pattern itself, I designed it to be quick and easy, and to showcase the focus fabrics that my friend loved. 10” squares were perfect; quick and easy, which allowed me to put the majority of my time and effort into making sure the applique was exactly as I wanted it to be!

I backed the quilt in the same fabric that my friend loved, and I have to say, it looks really good! This is a great pattern that can be repurposed into whichever theme someone wants. I could see it being used for ocean theme, or space, or woodland creatures… the list is endless! Hopefully I’ll get to do this one again sometime.

Double Irish Chain – Anniversary Quilt!

My first finish of 2021! Hard to believe we made it through that last year.

This quilt is a commission work to help celebrate a couple’s 50th(!!) anniversary together. Their daughter reached out to me to help create a truly unique, one-of-a-kind gift for them to help commemorate the memories and events of the past fifty years.

I chose the pattern (Double Irish Chain) as a way to represent the ‘chain of events’ that led this couple to where they are today- and their 50th wedding anniversary. I created the pattern measurements myself. (Just cut up the fabrics in 2.5” blocks and figured out the dimensions of the white background based on that.)

It was mentioned that the couple loved bright, saturated colors and fabrics, and that immediately put me in mind of Kaffe Fassett- so that’s what we went with. You can’t get much brighter than KF! Can I admit that, while I do love many of the fabrics and patterns Kaffe puts out, I go gaga once they’re all cut up and put together in a quilt? I don’t know what it is, but every time I make a quilt using KF fabrics, that quilt is so deliciously rich with color.

The applique pieces are as follows: two intertwined rings, a book, a beaker, and a tennis ball. As you may have guessed, each one represents something special about the couple: rings for marriage, a book for their shared love of reading, a beaker to represent that they both met as scientists, and a tennis ball for their joy of the sport. I used my Steam a Seam 2 for all of the shapes, and then stitched them down using my longarm instead of my machine. The shapes were all in a purple/blue/pink Kaffe Fassett dahlia fabric to help them pop from all the warm fabrics. And that fabric- I may be buying more of that in yardage for myself, I loved it so much!

The backing is another of Kaffe Fassett’s fabrics- this time a cool blue/cream/plum colored dahlia fabric. This one actually has significance to the couple too- they are both avid gardeners and love travelling to Hawaii. I love how it pops opposite the front!

Just look at how gorgeous these colors are together. The contrast has me drooling.

Honestly, though, my favorite part of this quilt is the story behind the color thread of the quilting (and the reason their daughter thought of a quilt in the first place!). Apparently, her mother always told her that “their love was a beautiful tapestry before me, and I added silver and gold thread.” Isn’t that wonderfully sweet? In honor of that, I used a gold thread for the quilting.

I hope that the couple enjoy the quilt as much as I enjoyed designing and creating it!

Ocean Illusion Quilts

Here’s another couple of UFOs I’ve finished during this quarantine! These are two sister quilts that I pieced at the same time, but since one was for a gift, that one got finished and given while it’s sister quilt sat in my ‘to quilt’ and then my ‘to bind’ pile for far longer than it should have.

IMG_20190525_103429I found this pattern free online, and it was written in German (I think). However, I was able to use the measurements and images in the pattern to figure it out! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find the pattern since then.

EDIT: Someone very kindly found it! (Thanks Karen!) Here’s a link: Illusion Quilt (It used to be available for free on Bluprint/Craftsy, which is probably where I got it, but it isn’t available at this time.)

Luckily, I wrote the pattern in English as I was going along. If you’d like to make it, feel free to check out the pattern here. I haven’t been able to find the original pattern to credit the author of it- if anyone finds (or knows of) it, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!

The top, although seemingly complicated, is actually just a bunch of strip sets cut in different widths and sewn together. The trickiest part, for me anyways, was making sure each strip stayed in the correct order.

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I chose to use a batik that had some movement in it but still had a cohesive “color” when viewed from a distance. I really loved the vibrancy of the blue/green waves- it was such fun to work with as I was assembling the tops! 

For quilting, I chose to use white on top and a gorgeous variegated blue/green/purple thread on the bottom, and all I did was stitch in the ditch so that it didn’t take away from the overall flow of the quilt tops.

Colette Quilt

Okay, so it’s been awhile. Life has been crazy! Since I last posted, our family has grown by one, so it’s been an adjustment!

This quilt has been a WIP for almost EXACTLY 4 years. I bought the fabric (Colette by Moda) in August of 2016. I started work on it the following summer during our family vacation, and didn’t complete the top until the following year.

I assembled it into what I *thought* would be a good broken dishes pattern, but I think it turned out looking more like a pinwheel quilt, so when I designed the quilting pattern, I tried to pick out something that would try to help distinguish the separate blocks.

Last summer I was lucky enough to finally be able to put this quilt top on my MIL’s longarm, and I spent roughly 10 hours quilting it over 3 days. I used a combination of free motion quilting and ruler work. It’s very far from perfect (there’s a row or two where I accidentally did the wrong ‘block’ pattern which messed up the rest of the row. But, overall, for my first attempt, I’m really pleased with how it turned out!

I backed it with a 108” backing from Connecting Threads, only realizing 3 months later that I had already bought backing for it years ago. Oops. It all worked out in the end, though. At least I bound it in the original fabric I purchased for it!

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Stay tuned, I have a VERY exciting announcement coming in the next few weeks!

Cavorting Colors

img_20190702_105243Cavorting Colors is an older UFO that I discovered around the same time as the Ambleside Picnic Quilt– although not as old. I bought 13 batik fat quarters a long time ago, with no real plan in mind, but I couldn’t pass up the fabric; especially the backing, which is probably one of my favorite batiks that I’ve ever seen.

I finally found the pattern in 75 Fun Fat-Quarter Quilts and saw this one. The quilt is pretty simple to construct- it’s two different blocks (alternating) made of half-square triangles. It was a fun, pretty quick quilt to make and I love how to colors just seem to be dancing around the quilt.

This quilt is intended to be a wedding gift- but I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure I can img_20190702_104517give it up! However, I am starting to run out of space (that’s a lie, but I tell myself that so it’s easier). But, also, I do actually enjoy gifting my quilts- as long as I know that I’m giving it to someone who can love and appreciate the time, effort, and emotion that went into making it. And since this particular couple is one who commissioned a  Christmas quilt from me several years ago, I know they’ll treasure this one too.

I wound up backing the quilt with my favorite batik of the collection; a multi-colored, butterfly-adorned batik. I had it quilted with flowers and swirls, and bound it with the orange batik from the collection. It’s a lighter batting in it, so it’ll be a perfect quilt for spring and summer nights when it gets a bit cooler.

Ambleside Picnic- a 4 year old UFO done!

The Ambleside fabric collection came out in 2015. I loved it and immediately bought myself a layer cake of it. I tried out one of the quilt postcards you see floating around. It was the perfect pattern for a beginner like me at the time- I had just started quilting in earnest for about a year by this point. The pattern is made up of squares and HSTs, and it came together quickly and easily.

mvimg_20190608_1350362-1Full of soft florals and plaids, I absolutely adore the overall look of the quilt. It’s springy and feminine, which was perfect for our current time of year. I added a pink border to pull out more of the pinks (which were my favorite in this quilt).

However, once I finished the top, I put it aside with the intention to have it quilted soon- but then life and other quilts got in the way and I forgot about it. Until this year, when I saw it peeking out from underneath my fallen leaves quilt top.

It was like finding a whole new quilt! I sent it off with the falling leaves quilt to get quilted at the same time.

I chose a GORGEOUS edge to edge pattern full of loops and swirls and circles that did a wonderful job showing off the happy, whimsical fabric. For the backing, I used a light blue wide-back fabric that I got from Connecting Threads. I used it for the binding too.

Also, I *love* the look of a contrasting binding and border. Especially pink and blue. Is that just me? It almost looks like there’s a second border.

I decided this quilt was perfect for a friend of mine I met last year when we moved to our new place. Over the time I’ve known her, she has been such a great friend and a huge help; picking up my son or dropping him off at preschool, watching my daughter when I was parent helper, being a friend when I needed one… the list goes on. It’s a wonderful coincidence that she has a daughter L’s age who will be in his grade next year as he enters Kindergarten.


I really love this quilt. It’s soft pastels made it really hard to give away as a gift, even to someone as deserving as my friend. But I really wanted to give her something special, not anything run-of-the-mill for everything she’s helped me with. I’m happy it’s with a friend and now I can start another one!

To the Stars (and Back!)

My daughter just turned one. Yay! I am happy to report that her baby quilt was finished BEFORE her first birthday. (Or, realistically, happy to report I got it finished at all!)

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First draft of the quilt. Wound up adding her name and a few more stars before all was said and done.

This is my very first quilt that I designed, pieced, and quilted entirely myself. I drew it out on graph paper first, a very rough sketch, then cut out the background pieces. I printed out the stars and used my light board to sketch them on to freezer paper. I then ironed the freezer paper on to the main fabric, cut out the shapes, then iron the fabric onto the background panels, stitch them down, and then finally sew the panels together.

 

43302827_10161146644345284_8075668844498124800_o.jpgThe name was the hardest part- that and the moon, because it was so big it overlapped a few background panels, meaning I had to sew the panels together first and THEN stitch the moon down. I was worried about the moon moving during stitching (even though I used approximately 1 billion pins) and causing the fabric to bunch. But it worked out!

I then basted it using 505 Spray (I’m nervous because you aren’t supposed to use it when pregnant, and use it in a well-ventilated area… so I did it when it was nice out and in the garage and AFTER Athena was born) and started quilting.

43385965_10161146644260284_2340888610909192192_n.jpgFor the quilting I did an all-over meander… a very dense meander. It isn’t the best, but it isn’t the worst, and it was my first time doing a meander so I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

As for the stars/planets/letters, I started doing a double echo around each one but then went down to just one echo. Again, nobody is going to notice from 20 feet away so it’s good enough for me!

I was able to bind it in  some leftover purple that matched absolutely perfectly with the purple in the space fabric. Also, I didn’t know this at the time of purchase, but the space fabric has glitter in it… that is now everywhere in my sewing room. I think I’ll be finding glitter in my machine for the rest of my life!

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Dream Big Panel

IMG_20181229_184223I bought this panel near the beginning of this year with the express purpose of using it to practice my free motion quilting on my new machine. But… it was daunting. And so it sat. And sat. Right before we moved, I got it out and basted it. And then it sat some more.

00000IMG_00000_BURST20181229185538135_COVERFinally, I pulled it out, because I wanted to complete my daughter’s baby quilt (which I did, post forthcoming) and figured if I was going to screw it up I’d rather screw it up on a $20 panel and not the quilt top I had spent 20+ hours making. So, after a couple of deep breaths, some frantic Pinterest searching for ideas, and I got started.

At first, each petal took me about 30-45 minutes to do. And the middle, with all that minuscule pebbling, took over an hour. But slowly, I improved. I decided to do a different design on each petal, which adds to the dynamic but also didn’t give me much practice time to perfect each design. As such, some designs are better than others, especially once you start reaching the outer petals. I tried so many new patterns; I even got comfortable using a ruler to make straight lines! (Two petals and all outer corners/background are ruler work.)

00000PORTRAIT_00000_BURST20181229185557785This project took months of on/off quilting work. Lori Kennedy has a bunch of ideas on Pinterest, and I used some quilting patterns I saw on Angela Walter’s Midnight Quilt Show, as well as some I saw used on projects throughout the time. And, although some of the quilting isn’t perfect, I learned a ton. And I’d like to think it isn’t half bad for a beginning “quilter”. (Do you like my dragonfly? I did practice that one.)

As I was doing this, I discovered a real joy in seeing how the quilting transforms a top. Since starting this, I’ve finished one big top (the Falling Leaves kit I posted earlier), one baby blanket, and a table topper for my husband for his table at work that he’s been asking for. And I’ve quilted each thing to death. I love it!

Hopefully this is the start of the next chapter in my quilting journey. I can’t wait to see what else I can pull off, just in time for the start of a whole new year! Happy New Years, everyone!