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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lavender Strip Race Quilt

I finally finished this quilt for the Gateway Quilt Guild "Quilters' Embrace" program. It has not been my favorite, but the finished product has grown on me.

It was supposed to be one of those strip race quilts where you sew a bunch of 2-1/2 inch wide strips together end to end--either on the square or by cutting the ends at 45 degree angles--and then cut off 18 inches on one end, then put together the two ends of the super long strip and sew it into a long block two strips wide. Next, sew those two together to make a long block four strips wide. Keep doing that until the quilt is the desired length or width.

Well, grace has never been my middle name. Those instructions did not work for me. For one thing, do you have any idea what it is like to have a mile-long strip draped across your floor, running down the hallway and wending through all the bedrooms, and then trying to keep that thing from twisting and hanging up as you pull it through the machine? All the while I tried to keep the cat from playing with it and getting wound up in it, and discouraged the husband from stepping all over it. I got as far as the super long block two strips wide and decided to come up with a Plan B.

I did the math on the strips given to me by the guild. They weren't baby patterns even though I only received enough strips for a quilt that size. I added strips from my own stash, did some more math to figure out the length I wanted the finished quilt to be, and cut the strips accordingly. I PATCHED those little stinkers together to make it all work.

Fortunately, I had this lavender fabric I picked up at a 50% off red tag sale with no idea at the time how I would use it. It became the border, backing and binding.

I put this quilt on my quilt frame along with an infant size quilt, and pinned the two inside seams together with the intent of quilting them at the same time. That sounded efficient to me since they were both relatively narrow and I planned to use light pink thread for both. We won't discuss how long those quilts sat on the frame, but this photo was taken in the middle of May. I finally got busy and got both of them quilted in a loose meandering stitch Monday evening.

The baby quilt I trimmed and will give to friend Sharon to bind and finish. It will probably go to one of the new moms at church. The lavender quilt I trimmed and bound this afternoon.

Now, if I can just get my "Today's Army" veteran's quilt (which I finally found after it had been misplaced for about ten months) finished this month, I will have met my personal Quilters' Embrace goal for the year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Quilt for Camp Liahona - Show and Tell

Finished! Earlier in the summer I was asked to prepare a small quilt to be tied up at Camp Liahona for the girls from the Merced California Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was put in charge of the Craft Shack (What a joke! I’m not really crafty. In fact, I told them to call me Sister Quilty and the other Craft Shack worker Sister Crafty.) 

I had this fabric set aside for a child’s quilt to be donated for Gateway Quilt Guild’s “Quilters’ Embrace” program, so decided to accomplish two projects in one.

This is the finished product. I bought the three fabrics with the orange as part of a 50% off Red Tag special. I added the one turquoise from my stash, and later added the green and the floral on navy blue to add some contrast.

Because I knew I would be tying this quilt, I made up a design in increments of four inches. I haven’t decided if it is a four patch design, or a one patch surrounded by a very large lattice. In order to help the 1/4 inch seams to hold together through multiple washings, I finished the seam with a super wide feather stitch. I later wished I had used the default feather stitch size and the darker teal blue that I used to border the blocks.

I originally planned on a 41” x 48” child’s quilt with the flannel backing. I expanded it by adding a border in some of the woven fabric used in the blocks on front. I used 1/2” seams and sewed a reinforcing top stitch since flannel tends to be a loose, soft weave.

To finish it off, I used a binding cut from one of the orange fabrics and added a label. Quilters’ Embrace may add their label, but I wanted to show that it was tied as part of an outreach program. Actually, the girls were more into painting, cutting and pasting when at the Craft Shack this year, so it was the adult leaders who stopped by on their breaks who helped tie the quilt.


I put my wooden clothes drying rack to good use while assembling this quilt. By hanging the rows as I sewed the blocks together, I was able to keep them straight while I put the main body together.

I have a system that works for me to help me keep my blocks lined up and my seams squared. I use the long quilting pins to hold the lengths together. However, when it comes to where the seams join, I use the thin, silk pins. I pin whatever raw edge is facing back, and is at risk of being bent forward. By inserting the pin from left to right, I do not need to worry about my quarter inch seam guide getting hung up on the pin. I can use my left hand to remove the pin once the needle tacks the underneath edge in place, although, with the super thin pins, it is not always necessary, especially if I am using a size 14 or larger needle. I find that the bargain straight pins at the discount stores are too thick. I purchase the thinner ones at a fabric store.


I have a fabric template I use for tying quilts made out of a yard remnant of one inch square gingham. I cut holes four inches apart. For this quilt, I knew that I would be having more than one person at a time tying this quilt. I made three smaller templates out of opaque plastic. I use 2 mil plastic painting drop cloths I purchase at K-mart.

Because I knew all the blocks were in increments of four inches, I used a yardstick to measure out four inch blocks in black. The black lines were intended to be lined up with feather-stitched block seams.

I used red for two inch guidelines to show where the ties should be placed. I folded the plastic where the lines crossed, and snipped an opening. I drew a line around the edge of each hole so it would be easy to see where to place each tie.