Yesterday, I was able to pick up my quilts from the MN State Fair. One of those quilts was a kaleidoscope quilt that I have alluded to in a couple previous postings. Today, I thought I would give some more details of the construction of this quilt.
I started this quilt while on a vacation last November. I packed up a box of fabric scraps in a variety of colors and heading to South Carolina. When not enjoying the lovely beaches, I planned to spend time cutting and sewing.
Originally, I planned to hand piece the quilt using English Paper Piecing as described in the book “The New Hexagon”. Using a graphics program, I printed some sheets of paper with the number of hexagons that I intended to use to make the quilt the size that I wanted. Next, I sketched out the location of medallions that I thought would look nice and decided on the color placement. However, like most projects, I did change the color locations as I worked on the quilt.
The first medallion that I worked on was the one I intended for the center of the quilt. After a lot of “fussy cutting” to make create the symmetry of the hexagons, I started hand stitching.
Three days later, after sewing the seams of this section by hand, I was concerned that my stitched seams may not hold up to normal usage on a bed. So, I stopped stitching and focused on more fussy cutting. When I returned home, I reinforced my hand sewn seams by sewing them on my domestic sewing machine. For the rest of the quilt, the seams were sewn by machine. Being hexagons, this was not a simple task – way too many Y seams!!
But, it was fun to watch the different sections come together.
After all the sections were pieced, they were then sewn together into the final design and black hexagons were sewn on the edge to create a black border. The pieced quilt top was quilted on my long-arm machine. Each of the medallions were quilted the same with designs selected for each row of hexagons for the medallions.
For the backing fabric, I found this really fun fabric.
And, for the binding, I was really excited to find some fun fabric that when folded matched the quilt really well.
Each year, I enjoy going the the Minnesota State Fair, viewing the artistry of the creative activities entries, as well as entering a couple quilts in the competition. In 2020, I was disappointed when the fair was cancelled.
This year, I had originally thought that I would not be able to enter any quilts in the competition. Having a trip to Colorado scheduled during the drop off days for the creative activities, I was at first unsure how I would be able to enter. About a week prior to our trip, I learned that I could drop off entries at the fair office during early drop off days before leaving on our trip.
After entering, I was still hesitant to attend the fair due to the increase in Covid cases. However, with the attendance numbers on previous days being down, I decided to go this morning. Being there from 8 to 11am, the number of people that were there was pretty small. The weather was cool and it was an enjoyable morning.
Things that I did not do:
Utilize a Park & Ride bus – to avoid the crowds of people on the buses, I left home early morning and was able to find parking in a lots across the street from one of the fair entrances.
Eat Fair Food – I usually avoid the fair food, so this was nothing new for me.
Ride any amusement in the Mighty Midway
Do any shopping in the Market areas.
Things that I did do:
Wore a mask and avoided crowds
Arriving early, I walked through several of the animal and 4H exhibits prior to the other buildings opening
Enjoyed the artistry in the Creative Activities building, including quilting, weaving, crochet and woodworking
Enjoyed the flora of the fair, a much overlooked aspect of the fairgrounds
Creative Activities – My entries:
Creative Activities – Noah’s Ark: My absolute favorite of all of the creative activities entries that I saw today!
Retirement has given me more time this summer to take a couple trips, two of them to Colorado.
In July, I took a road trip to Denver. The purpose of this trip was to bring several boxes that my eldest son was storing at our house. While a long drive, it passed quickly thanks to a good book to listen to on Audible.
Besides helping him settle in to his new apartment, we also took a drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo intense!
My second trip to Colorado was to serve as crew for my husband as he participated in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race.
A few weeks prior, Keith had participated in the Leadville Stages race, but I did not accompany him for that trip. The weather for this race was comfortable, but the race was still intense.
While there, he stayed with a family from Minnesota that have a second home in Leadville.
To thank them for their hospitality, I mailed them a bike quilt that I had made in 2020 when my office was closed.
For the MBT100 race, I really didn’t do much, just cheered him on when I was able to see him and help him switch out his water and food supplies mid-race.
It was, however, an intense day for him. The race started at 6:30 am with the morning temperature around 40 degrees. Unfortunately for the riders, the temperature rose higher than anticipated. By 2pm the temperature was 87 degrees with a fairly strong wind blowing.
He did finish, albeit slower that he had hoped.
However, given the conditions, I am very proud of him. This is something that I personally would never ever consider doing.
While in the area and after some time for Keith to recover, we took a ride on the Leadville Colorado and Southern railroad. An enjoyable and scenic ride. Also, photo intense.
Fifteen months ago, after attending a professional meeting in San Francisco, my eldest son (who lived in SF at the time) and I visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. One of the plants I saw there was a very unique and absolutely gorgeous orchid, Miltoniopsis Lennart Karl Gottling also called ‘Hula Skirt’ Orchid.
After seeing it, I search the internet for a source to purchase one, but was unsuccessful. This particular orchid was “out of stock” everywhere. One of the growers did have the ability to indicate if you would like to be notified when the orchid was in stock again. At the time, I filled out the request. But, since then, I had accepted the fact that I would be unable to obtain a plant for myself and thus totally forgot about my search.
Well, on Monday, I received an email from Orchid Web notifying me that the orchid was in stock. Needless to say, I was surprised by the notification and immediately went to their site to order one. When placing the order, I discovered that the store is located in Plymouth, Minnesota, just a few miles from a friend’s dental office. This was fortunate because I could pick the plant up in person, avoid paying shipping, and avoid potential damage to the plant during transit.
Since I would be driving to Plymouth, I sent my friend a message to see if she would like to get together and whether I could bring her lunch when I came. She responded with an even better offer. For a holiday celebration, she was treating her staff to a catered meal from “Gardens of Salonica”, a Greek restaurant and invited me to join them at her office. This was an offer I could not pass up.
I had a nice lunch comprised of good conversation with an amazing friend and some truly great Greek food!!
Being a member of my professional study club, I had also made her a table/wall quilt over the summer, which she received a few weeks ago.
While she is several years younger than me and will likely not retire for a while, she does have her “pre-retirement” quilt. This quilt was made utilizing the Greek Key quilt pattern. I picked this pattern for several reasons. The obvious one is that she is Greek. But, more importantly, the Greek Key is a symbol for infinity or eternity. This is very fitting because she is a constant friend who is always there for me.
My photo of the front of the quilt is a bit out of focus. But, the photo of the back does highlight the quilting that was done. In particular, quilting clearly shows the continuity of the Greek Keys in the piecing and in the quilting.
These eternal rings symbolic of the eternal love and support we have as friends. And, also a symbol of the love we celebrate this time of year at the birth of our Lord.
We have five members in my professional study club, and I have previously written about two of the quilts I made for these friends. Continuing with quilts for my other study club friends (who actually don’t retire for a few more years), I needed to come up with two additional designs.
The parents of one of the other friends is originally from England. So, I decided that her wall quilt would be a good opportunity to try English Paper Piecing.
EPP involves placing a paper template onto the wrong side of the fabric, folding the fabric over the paper template, tacking the fabric to the template with water soluble glue and then hand stitching the various shapes together. It’s almost like a fabric form of Tetris!
Five years ago, while attending the Minnesota Quilt Show, I purchased a book “The New Hexagon – 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece” by Katja Marek. The beautiful blocks really caught my eye and since it was 52 blocks, I originally thought I would just try to make one each week for a year. Well, unfortunately, other projects always came up and the book sat on my shelf unopened.
Then, last year, while browsing various quilting sites on-line, I saw a posting by the same author about a Millefiore Quilt Along. This quilt along was completed a few years earlier, and the pictures were stunning.
Because the technique involves hand stitching the pieces together, I thought that a wall quilt would be a good place to start to learn the technique. This project would not be too large and intimidating, and would be easily carried in a bag to work on when I was not at home.
Since this particular friend has beautiful flower gardens at her home, I started out by doing some simple flowers. Many of my quilting friends will already know that hexagon flowers are commonly made using paper piecing.
Unbeknownst to my friend, I was stitching the flower pieces together when we were working in the same office on several occasions. I’m not sure she realized after receiving the quilt that I had been sewing the pieces together right in front of her!!
Once I had a few hexagon flowers sewn, I needed to figure out the rest of the quilt design. To personalize the quilt for my friend, I played around with creating my own paper piecing designs. She is an avid biker, so with the help of her husband, I found a photo of the type of bike she rides. Using Electric Quilts, I created the paper piecing design to make a bike for the center of the quilt.
With the bike designed, I next needed to figure out what to do for the background of the quilt. After playing around with a couple ideas, I decided to make it look like the bike was on a trail. The flowers would then be stitched into groupings on either side of the bike.
Hand sewing the pieces of the bike together was time consuming. And, the background was going to be larger pieces with straight seams. Thus, I settled for machine sewing the rest of the background around the bike and the flowers. After machine quilting, I added some hand embroidered stems for the flowers and some ribbons.
I enjoyed learning this new technique, it is much more “portable” than machine quilting.
After this project was completed, I thought about what paper piecing project I could try next. Since the millefiori quilt idea really stuck with me. I spent some time designing my own take on a Millefiori quilt. Early November, with two weeks off of work and I started out with great intention of creating a full sized quilt using English Paper Piecing.
However, I quickly realized that I am not a fan of hand piecing quilts. The amount of time needed to cut out the paper templates, glue them to the fabric and then hand sew the pieces together was overwhelming. And, I really wondered how durable my hand stitching would be. I certainly didn’t want to spend hours and hours sewing together a quilt that would easily pull apart at the seams.
Thus after finishing one section of the quilt (the center section in my hand drawing), I decided that the rest of this quilt would be sewn by machine.
There will be many difficult seam junctions to line up when sewing this design by machine. But, I am much happier with the way the rest of the quilt is coming together (more on that in a couple weeks). And, while I enjoyed learning English Paper Piecing, I am also happy that I learned that this is not something I will use for designing larger quilts.
Earlier this year, I wrote about a wall quilt I made that depicted the skylines of Minneapolis and St. Paul. This quilt was made as a retirement gift for a friend who spends a lot of her time volunteering with various organizations, serving on foundations and helping her friends and family members within the Twin Cities. She truly has a heart of giving and I was hoping this quilt would show her that the people around her appreciate all that she has done.
After completing the quilt, I decided to make a few more wall quilts before giving it away. Being in a study club with five members, I realized that if I were to give her a wall quilt for retirement, the others in the group would know what to expect when they retire. Thus, four more wall quilts were completed over the summer and fall. And, while she retired at the end of 2019, I was recently able to gift this wall quilt to her.
One of the other wall quilts I created was for a friend who will be retiring at the end of 2020. When thinking about a theme for her quilt, I kept coming back to how often she posts pictures of her family, especially her children, and the great ways the all interact together.
Her family represents several heritages and she loves to travel. So, the quilt design I selected was a piecework pattern called “Trip Around the World”. This classic piecework pattern involves using uniform squares, radiating out from a center. While this pattern looks time consuming with all the squares, using strip quilting makes this pattern super easy!
The colors of the quilt were based upon colors in a fused glass plate that she purchased from me a few years ago. At the time, she said the colors matched her home.
I also wanted to depict her family in the quilt, but without detracting from the beauty of the piecing. To do this, I decided to use the quilting to show her family.
The entire quilt was first quilted with a rather simple swirl design.
After that was completed, I quilted a shadow of a family. To design the quilting of the family, I used a photo of a family of five jumping and expressing joy. Each person of the “family” were quilted with a different color of thread.
A sixth member of their family is also included in the quilting. Eighteen years ago, at just under the age of three, one of my friend’s daughters passed away from childhood cancer.
I know that she is still in the minds of her family, so I wanted to include her as well. In the shadow quilting, I stitched a girl on a swing. She is seen swinging on each side of the family, thus, creating somewhat of a circle around the rest of the family members.
This was an enjoyable quilt to make and even more enjoyable to recently gift it to my friend. I wish her a wonderful retirement!
With fall weather settling, a week ago, I decided to make a new table runner for my kitchen. This runner was made with apples to depict the bounty of the fall harvest. The runner turned out really nice.
After it was done, I realized that the center section could be used as a checkerboard. All I needed was some checkers.
Originally I thought about purchasing some apple shaped wooden pieces that could be painted. However, when I looked at the options available at the local craft stores, I thought I would need to do some carving of a crown on one side. This, to me, seemed like a lot of work. Then I thought about engraving a crown. This also seemed like a lot of work.
One day, while I was at work, I had a great idea – I could print checkers on my 3D printer. Using Tinkercad, I designed some apples that could be printed. I did try to make the checkers interlock so that they could be stacked for designating a King. This, however, did not turn out well. So, I went back to Tinkercad and designed an indent on one side of the checker that showed a crown. Problem solved.
Having extra fabric, I decided to make a second table runner/checkerboard. This one, I have posted on Etsy. Hopefully someone will like this item.
I originally published this post on Sunday. However, for some reason the article disappeared from my blog. I know it was originally there, but someone asked about why I took it down. When I went to check, it was gone. Luckily, I had saved a copy on my computer so I am able to repost today.
My previous post, “The Ants (and other bugs) Come Marching In“, was also changed after I posted it. For some reason the date of that post was changed by a couple of weeks. So, instead of being a mid-July post, it is showing up in June. I am not exactly sure what is happening. WordPress has changed their setup and that seems to be messing with my blog.
For those who already read this article, I apologize for your having to receive it twice. For those who did not receive the original, please enjoy.
Free time is hard to find now that I am back to work. However, while my office was closed down in the spring, I had lots of extra time available. One of the things I did during my time off was to work on some fabric dyeing ideas.One bright sunny day, I set up some sun dyeing on my deck. I had seen this technique on a different blog (Tamarack Shack) and wanted to try it.I wanted to try larger shapes that I could then quilt around. I cut some large flowers out of cardboard, placed them on the dyed fabric and set them out in the sun for a couple hours. Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, the wind must have been a bit too strong at some point, because when I went to check on it, the cardboard had moved and distorted. The resulting dye blocked shapes were rather indistinct. I did like how the pink and purple splattered dye turned out. But the shapes were not as I had hoped. So, I’m planning to try this experiment again. Next time I will weight down my shapes with rocks or something heavy.Rather than just stashing the dyed fabric away to use whenever inspiration hit, the next day I decided to work on an idea that I had for a Shibori quilt.Last summer, I posted about a Shibori table quilt I had made. Using the same technique, I designed the stitching pattern for the shibori, the fabric painting, and the quilting. All of the running stitches were completed with polyester thread. This is a rather time consuming step that took about fifteen hours to complete.The pink flowers were then painted with dye mixed with print paste.The Green leaves were painted.The threads were gathered and tied tight.And the background was dyed blue.This project sat in my sewing room for a few weeks. Now, after a couple hours of long arm quilting and I am finally done with this project.
Over the past days, the governor of Minnesota has issued numerous executive orders that have impacted my life, the latest of which is Emergency Executive Order 20-20. This order directs Minnesotans to “Stay at Home” for the next two weeks. Since my dental office is shut down and my son returned from NYC, I have already been staying home.
With some of my unexpected free time, I have finally finished a quilting project that I started a while ago. The inspiration of this quilt came from my sister-in-law. Last summer, she asked me to design a wall quilt of the Paris skyline for her to make.
After I designed her quilt, I thought I would make something similar – a wall quilt of the twin cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul. For the background of the wall quilt, I followed the instructions I had written for my sister-in law, except I used blue batik fabrics from my stash, rather than purple.
The background was loaded onto my quilting frame and quilted with evenly spaced horizontal lines.
For the skyline, I found several images on-line. By combining ideas and removing most of the white areas, I had a nice skyline of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
After importing these images into my Cameo software, I cut the pattern of the skyline out of starched black cotton fabric that was sandwiched between Heat-N-Bond Lite and freezer paper.
These silhouettes were then ironed onto the background. Using several different quilting fill patterns, I then quilted detail to differentiate each of the individual buildings.
Because the Twin Cities are known for the numerous parks and parkways, I added green fabric along the bottom edge to depict the landscaping of the cities.
The wall quilt was then bound and ready to hang.
Over the past week while looking at the wall quilt, I felt it needed something more. Last night I augment the design with some “bling”.
With the help of one of my sons, I found a Star Constellation Chart. Using 3 mm heat transfer rhinestones, I replicated the constellations that would be visible over the Twin Cities. I also added some rhinestone on a few of the towers.
Hometown wall quilt complete!
As I went for my walk this morning, I was reminded that this may be my “hometown” for now. And, my home may be impacted by the events of today. But I need to look past today’s news and worries about tomorrow, and take comfort in the fact that my hope is not bound to the circumstances of this world. In short – this world is not my home – my home is indeed in Heaven.
As most of my friends and family know, I like to try new ideas for quilts. Many of these are made and then given away to charities. Last winter I learned that the charity I had been donating to changed their donation policy. In order to donate an item, I needed to donate one for ever person living at their housing location. That meant I needed to make 24 quilts before I could donate them. That would be a difficult task for me to accomplish.
Fortunately, last December while watching the evening news, I saw a news article about an organization that made beds for children who do not have a bed and are usually sleeping on the floor. When I learned I needed to find a new place to donate quilts to, this organization came to mind.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace (shpbeds.org) is a national organization “dedicated to building, assembling and delivering top-notch bunk beds to children and families in need”. I went on-line to learn more about the organization. What I learned was when the beds are delivered, the children are also given a mattress, pillow and bedding (including a comforter or quilt).
This, I thought might be a good place to make quilts for. And, since the beds are for children, I could make all kinds of fun kids quilts! After contacting them, I started setting aside quilts to drop off. A few days ago, I delivered the twelve quilts that I have made this year. Hopefully there will be a dozen kids who enjoy these quilts.
Many of the quilts I have already written about in previous blog posts. But, here are a few photos of the ones I have not already posted about.
A flannel quilt (front and back):
Another flannel quilt (front and back):
An airplane quilt:
If any of my friends have quilt tops that they would like to donate, I will gladly quilt them on my long-arm machine and donate them to SHP for you. Just contact me.