Mini Series Courthouse Steps Pillow

AKA Terry’s Pillow!

For the last couple of years Giucy Giuce has teamed with Alison Glass and have hosted a sew along to sew his mini series patterns. Last year I signed up and I knew exactly what I wanted to make. A friend of mine loved the Halloween pillow I made four years ago. And I wanted to make something for her using this pattern.

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I didn’t end up sewing along during the actual sew along, but later I got to sewing and made a bunch of different sized courthouse steps blocks using the Mini Series pattern.

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I always have a problem with actually quilting these blocks. I debated on thread but ended up only quilting in the ditch with the cream fabric. But I love this picture to illustrate the scale of the piecing of these blocks!

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I chose a few details to zoom in on. Each of these blocks look a bit different, but they were all started using the same pattern. I varied the size of the center. And then some of them, I only did two sides (rather than all four sides) for some of the block. And I varied the placement of the orange and cream fabrics. By changing each one up a bit, it looks like I used a different pattern for each piece, but I didn’t!

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Check out my not so invisible invisble zipper! I should have used an orange zipper…. Oh well! If it’s sitting on the couch, are people really going to be checking out my zipper installation? I hope not!

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I used a single fabric for the back. Even though it’s a single fabric, I still also use a layer of batting and a backing piece of fabric. Then I serge the edges to keep the layers together. I feel like it gives the pillow a bit more shape.

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I thought it would be fun to share this pillow this week since it’s the second week of the Mini Series Sew Along and the Courthouse Steps block is one of the blocks to sew this week! Are you sewing along? I am! I’m back to Halloween fabrics for this sew along.

Transparency Mini

Back in March, I took a class about Color Transparency with Caroline Oneto hosted by the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild. I almost didn’t take it, thinking I have a fine sense of color. It was a really good class!

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The directions were to get 5 colors and a neutral. Which I did. As I was laying them out, I realized that the neutral just stood out like a sore thumb. I realized I wanted all color, no neutrals! And I’m glad I did. The idea is to pick two different shade colors, then a third color that would be the color the first two would make if combined together. I’m not sure that’s exactly how she described it, but it’s my thought process!

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We learned about some color theory, but she also gave some really good tips about sewing curves and putting curves together. You can even take her class online on your own time, here.

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The other aspect of this quilt that I wanted to play with was matched binding for the whole quilt. And since it is a mini, that was not a huge commitment. It was a fun exercise to make it all line up.

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The back, of course, doesn’t have a matched binding. But it made completely of scraps from the front of the quilt. And I love how it turned out. this little detail is my favorite bit of scraps coming together to make a great shape!

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My traditional shot of my label!

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What do you think? Do you want to make one? Caroline is putting together a digital quilt on IG with all the class pieces. Check out her Instagram and add your own! Can you see mine?

Over The River

Over The River is a quilt that was started in 2015! Yep, 7 years ago! I started it, only liked half of it, then put it in a box to get back to… I finally got back to it!

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Back in 2015, the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild hosted a class with Sherri Lynn Wood when her book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters first came out. The class was called, Improvisational Patchwork Doodling. Sherri describes this doodling as a playful yet challenging approach to improvisational patchwork.

From the SMQG website: Letting go of expectations, plans or a preconceived outcome, participants will practice building patterns with simple shapes and negative space, while learning basic improvisational sewing techniques. It is a flowing YES, AND “drawing” that accepts and builds on what comes immediately before. Like a doodle it is not planned nor is it random – it’s responsive… and plenty of fun!

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After sewing we stopped and put all of our work on the floor and we discussed almost every piece. If only I could remember what Sherri said about mine!

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This is what I ended up with after the class! I loved the left side with the improv simple shapes and negative space. The right side I just didn’t like. at. all. So I just boxed it up. I did think about it over the years… But never enough to figure out how to finish it.

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Fast Forward to 2022 and I ended up taking another class with Sherri via zoom. This class was called Narrative Mashup: Maximalism! It was suggested to gather orphan blocks to mash up. I pulled out my original Sherri quilt pieces with my stash of orphan blocks. I don’t have many orphan blocks because I typically use orphan blocks on the backs of my quilts or use them to make a second quilt!

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NOT MY WORK and I don’t know who to give credit to. If you do, please let me know!

Sherri shared this image of a quilt showing a historic example of a maximalist mashup! I love this. can I recreate something like this? I don’t think so! I tried….

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During class we came up with five ‘materials’ to tie the blocks together. Our three materials were not really ‘materials’ per se, but design elements. We voted for stripes, blue/purples, 3 colors, rhythm and sowing the seeds. I added blue, green and white stripes. I didn’t follow through with the sowing the seeds aspect!

And I tried to mashup all my orphan blocks with the new design elements and I just didn’t feel it. I felt like maybe maximal mashup’s might not be my thing! ha! But I gave it a good try!

After the class we showed our work and I told my story. I showed the group what I started with and almost everyone agreed that they liked what I left class with in 2015! WHAT??? All these years I could have been finished with it??? But it’s really about me, right? And what I want my quilt to be, right?

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So I took out most of the mash up and ended up with this almost finished quilt…..

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I made a couple more changes… And finished it! And I like it!

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I always loved the triangles! But on thier own, they seemed like they needed something else. So I think the added stripes really is what this little quilt needed, even if it took 7 years and interesting learning process! And you may be able to see that the original right side that I didn’t like, ended up on the back!

And funny thing is that my label totally ended up on the wrong side! I don’t think I’ve ever done that before, but oh well!

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All in all, I actually really like it. And I really enjoyed the process it took to get here. Do you have a quilt with an extremely long process???

Off the Path- A Mini Quilt Tutorial

You may recognize this little guy from some of my other quarter circle quilts. I do have a fondness for quarter circles! I’ve used this technique in my 2020 Temperature Quilt, Off the Path Version 1 and Weeping Willow in Black and White. Off the Path takes the traditional Drunkard’s Path down a windy, smaller road! In the spirit of small piecing this little mini quilt was born from some of my office doodles and from scraps from larger projects! This is an easy one to use up your scraps and make one for yourself!

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I realized I had not shared this mini quilt, nor had I shared that it was featured in Quiltmaker Magazine back in 2019!

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It’s been a while since I shared a tutorial, so I thought I’d share this one today. This mini finishes at 12.5 x 12.5 inches. And ot make it I grabbed (4) colors and (3) cream colors.

Cutting:

From Cream solids, cut:
15 (2.5” x 2.5”) squares
18 (3.5” x 3.5”) squares
3 (4” x 4”) squares
From Colors, cut:
24 (2” x 2”) squares

There are 2 different blocks in the quilt, a single and double quarter circle blocks.

Assembly of the single quarter circle blocks:

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  1. Pair a cream square with a colored square. Stack the two squares in the bottom left corner. Align the fabric squares with your cutting mat squares. (illustration 1, above)
  2. Here’s where the improv comes in! No templates needed to cut your curves. You will cut a curve in the two pieces of fabric starting at ‘about’ 1 1/2” and ending at ‘about’ 1 1/2”.
  3. Keep the colored quarter circle and the cream background piece.
  4. Sew the two pieces together, right sides together. Do not pin! Align the quarter circle about a ¼” in from the edge of the background. (illustration 2, above) To sew without pinning, as you sew the pieces together hold the quarter circle, which is on top, with your left hand and hold the background piece with your right hand and guide them through your machine. As the fabric moves through the machine, you will gently pull the two fabrics so the edges align as you sew your ¼” seam.
    Remember: These are improv quarter circles. You are not sewing a perfect quarter circle!
  5. Iron the seams toward the center of the circle.
  6. You will now have a pretty wonky block. Trim this down to a 2 ½” square.
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Assembly of the double quarter circle blocks:

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2 above, but for this one you will cut a curve in the two pieces of fabric starting at ‘about’ 1 ¾” and ending at ‘about’ 1 ¾”.
  2. Follow steps 3, 4 and 5 above.
  3. Trim the block to 2 ¾” square.
  4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 above using the plus or minus 1 ¾” curve. Ideally you will have about ½” to ¾” between your cut and the previously sewn curve. (illustration 3, above)
  5. Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 again.
  6. Trim block to a 2 ½” square

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Once you have all the mini quilt blocks completed, you can lay out and assemble your blocks. You can match my layout, so design your own! It’s a pretty quick and fun little design to play with.

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Once you lay out piece together all the blocks, quilt it however you feel most comfortable. I like to use curved quilting, but straightline and freemotion quilting would both work as well!

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My token label shot! This was the old black and white label…

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I love this picture and how tiny it looks! What do you think? Do you want to try it???

Radioactive Springtime

Radioactive Springtime is a quick little sew I made earlier this year! My goal this year to sew my scraps and finish my WIPs.

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I’m so excited that Spring is here and summer is on it’s way!

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So my idea is really to get the WIPs done first this year, but sometimes a pile of scraps just yells out… SEW ME!! I had this pile of triangle scraps leftover from the Triangle Mountain quilt from 2019. I kept moving them from one spot to another. Then just decided to sew them together into something! And was ok with it being something small.

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I also had some other scrap triangles that seemed to go together… Not all of the triangles were the same size. Instead of cutting them to all be the same size, I just pieced in little bits here and there.

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I didn’t want it to be the flower shape it was turning into, so I filled in with the cream and white background.

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The two-color blocks kinda look like the radioactive symbol, but it’s in the shape of a flower… Hence the name, Radioactive Springtime.

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The quilting is in the shape of 4 V’s coming together at the middle. It did warp it a little. I’m not sure why. I think I should have gone in a circle quilting the V’s instead of doing the top and bottom and then the sides last. I don’t know. I had to do a little mini blocking project to flatten it out.

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The back is a fabric from my stash from about 10 years ago. It fit perfect. It was an odd shaped piece of fabric, so I cut off a corner and sewed it back on and it fit perfectly! And it has flowers….. How perfect is that for a quilt I had already named Radioactive Springtime???

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I snuck a picture of my quilt holder!

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And he snuck one of me. I still get surprised to not see my red hair sometimes. Where did it go???

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I’m pretty happy with how it turned out for a quick weekend project!

Waves- A Mini Mini Quilt

As you probably know by now, I really enjoy quilting challenges! I love the Curated Quilts mini challenges because they are minis and a fun break between larger projects.

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This challenge was called Utilitarian and the challenge was to use ‘accessible fabric’. I had a little problem with the term Utilitarian because to me that means it needs to have a useful purpose. And Mini quilts, typically are not very utilitarian. I even googled it. ‘Utilitarian Art is art that has function as it’s priority and yet is still aesthetically pleasing’ according to my google search. I thought about making it a hot pad/trivet or an oversized pot holder, but I just ended up going with a plain ‘ole mini quilt!

My mini quilt has no real function…

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But! My mini quilt does incorporate ‘accessible fabric’ which is defined on the challenge page as scraps you have on hand, significant fabrics that you treasure, or thrift shop finds. My husband just happened to have cleaned his closet out and had this shirt as a throw away, so I grabbed it and headed to the sewing room! And the green is fabric from my stash.

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The challenge also had an inspiration fabric, Candlelight Woven in Ocean by Ruby Star Society. It was requested to use this fabric or let it inspire the color selection. I let it inspire my mini, because buying new fabric didn’t feel very accessible to me…

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I used the inspiration fabric for both the color and the design. I designed a little paper piecing sketch to mimic the zigzag pattern in the fabric. I didn’t actually paper piece it necessarily, but improv pieced based on the little pattern piece.

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I mimicked the wave shapes in the quilting, even in places where the waves aren’t there!

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I also added in some white contrast pops! I initially though the white should be grey, but I couldn’t quite find the right grey in my stash so I moved to the white. I actually like the brightness of the white.

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For the back I had this matching print fabric in my stash that I decided to use. The piece finished at 12.5×12.5 inches. A mini mini for sure!

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I submitted! We’ll see if it makes the cut… Either way, I enjoyed making it. Did you make one?

Up and Over

Up and Over is my quilt entry for the Quilt Improv Studio Primary Challenge. I love participating in these challenges with people from all over the world! For this challenge the ‘rules’ were to use primary colors and to use the graphic element of lines.

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Not only was this a Quilt Improv Studio Challenge, but it’s also a Quilt Design A Day to Reality quilt! I don’t do it as much as I used to, but I love doing the Quilt Design a Day challenges. This design came from one of my QDAD designs from years ago. 6 years ago, actually!

I was thinking about using a black and white stripe for the applique lines. Then I remembered this black and white fabric I have also had about 6 years as well! This is fabric from the Spring 2016 Modern Quilt Guild Fabric Challenge. Yep, 2016! It’s the Sashing Stash Fabric by Eleanor Dugan. I had grand plans for this fabric back in 2016, but they never came to fruition. I didn’t want my straight stripes to be just black or just white, so this fabric ended up being perfect for this challenge.

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I quilted the red, yellow and blue before adding the bias tape applique. After quilting I sent back and hand appliques the bias tape.

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This is my first experiment with using facing as the binding technique. I kept debating which color to use as my binding and nothing worked. I realized it was because the lines needed to be framed in. Perfect time to try the facing technique. I used the tutorial by Cotton and Bourbon and it went smoothly. A little slow since I kept changing my thread color, but I’m hoping next time will be quicker!

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I’m really happy with how it turned out! It’s not quite my usual improv style, but it was a fun experiment!

Disposable- An Upcycled Quilt

Or as they say on Project Runway, an Unconventional Challenge.

Not too long ago I saw a call for the UW Recycling Trash Art Contest. As soon as I saw the call, I knew what I wanted to do. I had to make a quilt from all the disposable masks.

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When the pandemic hit, I made a ton of masks. I HATE the nature of the disposable masks. I’m that person that also hates to buy anything that is individually wrapped. No single servings pre-packaged for our lunches. And the same with the masks, no one time use in this house. Then I went to work in a hospital and the disposal masks are required as a way to slow the spread of Covid. But honestly, it makes me cringe to see all these disposable masks strewn about the streets. In addition to the disposable masks I also used a neighbor’s worn out scrubs and disposable gloves. Not a single bit of new fabric was harmed in the making of this quilt!

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For the round blocks I used my used masks and my neighbor’s scrubs. I cut the masks in half and made a quick template for the outer piece. The problem I realized with these materials is that the masks melt if you try to iron them. So, no ironing the seam allowances!

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I made this block out of my husband’s masks, the neighbor’s scrubs and a disposable glove. I love the secondary shapes the masks make. In the end, as much as I love this block, I didn’t love it as part of the quilt, so it ended up being left out of the quilt.

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And the half square triangle blocks made with disposable masks and disposable gloves. I sewed together two masks and cut out about a 5.5″ square and sewed the two together around the edge. Then cut down the middle to get 4 HSTs. Or course, no ironing here either!

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The quilting inside these masks represents the germs bouncing around inside the masks, but not being shared with those around me. The circular quilting around the masks represents the germs staying on the outside, another reason we wear the masks. I quilted the circular blocks first, then the mask blocks. It was a pure, happy accident how this quilting came together in the corner.

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One of the questions for the Trash Art contest was to explain how this art piece is relevant to my personal and/or UW campus waste? 

This quilt is relevant to my personal experience in so many ways!  For the last 10 years I have worked as an architect in the healthcare industry in local hospitals, including UWMC and Harborview. I have always grappled with the irony of all the disposable items used in healthcare to keep our patients safe and healthy versus the amount waste these same items make in order to also keep our patients safe and healthy. When I transitioned to an employee at UWMC last year, I had to give up my handmade, washable face masks for the disposable one time use masks. Every day on my walk to work, I pass mask after mask disposed of on the ground of the UW campus. This quilt is literally made of my own personal, disposable trash being upcycled into a work of art.

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And the back….

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I used the last ‘larger’ piece of the scrubs on the back. And in good upcycling fashion, I just happened to have these blue and white striped sheets in my stash waiting to be used.

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ok, maybe I didn’t tell the truth… I did use one small piece of new fabric. The label is new. The binding is, again, worn out scrubs.

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I had this idea to take these pictures hanging on the side of a building next to a dumpster. That situation didn’t exist where I thought it did. But my husband spotted this recycling dumpster and it was perfect for my photo shoot. It did make it a little hard to get the color perfect in the pictures though.

Testing- A MQG Fabric Challenge Quilt Part 1

Every year the Modern Quilt Guild hosts a fabric challenge for Quiltcon. This year the fabric challenge was hosted by Windham Fabrics using their Artisan Cotton fabric line. If you sign up fast enough, they send you free fabric. I didn’t sign up fast enough, so I actually ordered my own fabric to play along!

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There were 4 main fabrics you could choose from. You had to use three of the four. Then there was a list of other fabrics that you could incorporate. I ended up ordering some that had nothing to do with the challenge and I’m really excited about the colors! For ‘Testing’ I used the four challenge fabrics, Wine/Pink, Coral/Aqua, Aqua/Blue and Blue/Orchid plus neutrals Stone/Lavender and Navy/White.

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I actually ended up making two quilts. ‘Testing’ was my submission to Quiltcon because I finished it in time. The second quilt, ‘Eyes on You’, I’ll tell you more about later. It wasn’t completed in time, so it didn’t even get submitted. But today, I’m just telling you about ‘Testing’.

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image via https://www.design-seeds.com/
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Do you remember way back when I used to design quilt patterns with the Quilt Design a Day FB group? I’ve made 6 quilts from those designs: Running Away, Rabbit Hole quilts, Raindrops of Wildflowers, Left and Right, Triangle Mountain, and Bright Tide Pools! And now we have number 7, ‘Testing’!

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It started as succulents. Once the design was translated in fabric, the quilt took on a different persona. Gone was the nod to the succulents. The quilt now takes it’s que from the ‘off the air’ TV graphics of a bygone era when screen time wasn’t available all day and actually ended at a certain time each day. 

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I started in the center and with each layer, I created a piece made of different colored wedges. Then I used my inset circles technique to layer and layer one on top of the other. The picture above is actually the scraps from each layer, but you can see what they started as.

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When I quilted the circles, the mini quilt became a little wobbly and doesn’t like to hang flat. You can really see it in the picture of the back. So maybe it’s a good thing it didn’t get picked for the Quiltcon show! For the back I used stash fabric that I happened to have. I love that it picked up not only the grey from the front, but also the circles!

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And that’s my ‘Testing’ Mini Quilt! Did you submit a fabric challenge quilt to Quiltcon?? I can’t wait to show to you my next one! Stayed tuned for Part 2!

My First Applique Quilt

Way back in 2017 my guild did an applique BOM… I started it with everyone, but got a little behind. And I admit, I was so NOT excited about this one. I was like, seriously??? But I learned a new skill and I’m glad I played along. Even if it took me three years to finish and another one to blog about it!

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The quilt was designed by our guild friend Jonna, aka @bespokeoutlaw, and it was inspired by her Great Uncle Russel Day. He was an artist, designer, jeweler and professor. His work is really fantastic! Check out this video for more information.

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The first blocks we were tasked with were quarter ‘opals’. And if you follow along with me, I love a quarter circle. My first thought was why would you applique one when you can sew just as easily. Or in my mind, flat out easier! I was trying to do the needle turn applique, but as you can see from the pictures above, I used my fingers for more of the turning than I used the needle! ha! I did get better at it, trust me!

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Each month we made a different shape until we had a whole pile of them. Enough to make a quilt! Imagine that!

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I think my favorite block may have been the bias tape applique blocks! I love these! And if you saw my IG post today, you know I have them on my mind again!

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I liked to use the shapes of the applique pieces to inspire the quilting.

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Jonna gave us a suggested layout, but I didn’t really stick with it. Instead of using sashing I added a wider border. I also added a few stripes in the border. These were not appliques, but traditionally pieced.

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This little orange piece most reminds me of the inspiration art. And it was tricky for a newbie, but with her instructions, I made it through!

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The back isn’t too interesting on this one. It does show the quilting nicely, though!

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And the label… You’ll see I started it in 2017 with the guild. And honestly, I think I finished the blocks in 2017, as well. But I didn’t piece the quilt top until 2020. No excuses… And then I didn’t find the right place to photograph it until last fall… slow mo!

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The quilt holder behind the quilt! And those corners on the back were only added to help hold the quilt. I should have taken them off for the back pictures, but I didn’t…

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And here’s the whole mural! I should go back and get the artist’s name. It’s quite a beautiful work of art to be on the back of a building!

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A huge thanks to Jonna for getting me to try something new and teaching me (and the whole guild and possibly you too) how to do applique. It took the scary out! And I’m currently working on another applique quilt. Need to get back to that!