Tag Archive | Quilt

All Through the House

As mentioned in “I Must be Crazy”, I generally complete one quilt project before starting another but right now I have four going on at the same time. In addition my quilting daughter and I are discussing a joint endeavor for a friend. I have to say that having so many works in progress going on at once is leaving me frazzled and a little obsessed about getting something done.

Part of the problem is that Thanksgiving is now less than one week away and while I am frantically working on my quilts nothing else is getting done. The laundry sits unfolded, our dust bunnies have become family pets and you can write your name in the dust on the furniture. In addition, these projects having taking over the entire house!

Upstairs, there are two guest rooms. You would think that since I only need one of them for Thanksgiving that I would be able to confine my work into one room. Not so! In the one room, the bed has yet to be made ready but for the time being it is pushed against the wall so that the quilt frame bearing the “Friendship Twist” quilt can be fully opened. This is my immediate concern. With less than a week to go, I have only the final border to be quilted so it is possible that I can get it off the quilt frame. I am quilting like crazy and my old shoulder injury is bothering me, either from the quilting angle of the frame, repetitive motion or just a flare up but I dare not stop or see a doctor about it now. What if he tells me I have to stop quilting!!!!

In the second guest room I have the Autumn Star quilt lying on the floor with a possible border layout. Of course I am using the block choice that requires bringing the point into the border which means I do not have enough of that material. I have one strip of green left 24 inches long and 3.5 inches wide, not enough to make the points. Fortunately, my daughter has found a one yard wide back of the green, so after pre-treating and washing it I can move forward. This brings us to the third room in the house.

The mudroom includes our laundry area and my ironing board. At the moment, not only is the green fabric sitting on the ironing board waiting to be pressed but so is the extra yellow fabric for the donation dinosaur quilt. While gathering fabrics from my stash for this donation blanket, I discovered that I do not have enough of the yellow to make it. The dinosaur print, brown, yellow, white print and the yellow fabric had been given to me as a gift, so the best I could do was run to my local shop and match the yellow as close as possible.

The dining table holds my nightstand mat project. It is in the hand quilting stage and is small enough to place somewhere else. One of the bedrooms, perhaps? It sits there because the double doors out to the patio provided me with enough light to sew after a nor’easter came through knocking out power for 4 days. Easy enough to move, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

And finally, the dinosaur project. As I get older I find it difficult on my back to spend long periods of time cutting and laying out projects on our dining table. Then there is the laying out and basting part of the work while kneeling on a hard wood floor. Not only is this hard on the knees but after a short period of time it is difficult getting up off the floor. My husband has just completed a cutting table that is big enough both for cutting and laying out projects. This table sits in the loft above the garage, so yes I have taken over part of the garage too (my husband draws the line at the basement and his kitchen). This is where all the fabric for the dinosaur quilt is hanging out at the moment waiting for me to get around to cutting the yellow fabric, as well as the green for the Autumn Star quilt.

So, less that one week to Thanksgiving and quilt projects are all over the house. I wonder if my guests would mind if I handed them dust cloths and a dust mop when they walk through the door.


I Must be Crazy

Normally, I am the type of person who is pretty obsessed about finishing one project before beginning another, so what am I thinking to have 4 quilt projects going on at the same time! And if 4 assignments are not enough, I still need to attach a label to the comforter I finished in the spring. I must be crazy! Either that, or like a wooly caterpillar that puts on an extra layer of fuzz to predict a bad winter I am lining my nest with things to do during the inclement winter months. Just a theory.

So, how did this happen? I am currently still working on my Friendship Twist quilt. It is half-way through the hand quilting phase and I would like to get it off the quilt frame before the holiday guests arrive in December. But sitting in front of the frame one day, I thought about another donation quilt. Soon enough, I am in front of my fabric cabinet pulling out contenders for this gift. I am told that charities are very appreciative of receiving items geared towards boys, so out comes a dinosaur print and matching material.

In the meantime, knowing how annoyed I was to discover a black water ring on a bedroom night-table that was brand new, my husband has stripped and refinished the table. With this in mind, I pull some fabrics to create table mats for both guest room night-tables and a small display table near the living room. The guest room tables will be a light tan floral print surrounded by a green leafy material. Because these table are larger than the display stand, I will add borders on each side. These mats are currently assembled and I am in the hand quilting phase. I would like to have at least the covers for the guest rooms finished by Christmas.

A quilt blog that I read regularly, From My Carolina Home, just put up a quilt along pattern for the month of October. I am so excited by the colors and patterns for this Stars on Autumn Lane quilt that I pull some Artisan Landscape oranges from my stash to get started. I decide to reverse the background from light to dark and pull a green to compliment the oranges. I may call my project Autumn Stars.

My first task on the last three activities is to prewash the fabrics with color catchers and make sure they do not run. The place-mat fabrics are fine, but alas the greens for both the donation and autumn projects turn the color catchers green. In addition the brown fabric with interlocking squares and the black with stars for the dinosaur quilt also run. Fortunately, as mentioned in my Fabric Color Story, I have discovered Retayne which is a dye fixative. This does mean that I have to spend a morning treating these fabrics in the utility sink, then re-washing them in the machine with new color catcher sheets. To be on the safe side, I decide to save a step and just treat the Artisan Landscape orange fat quarters. As expected the sheets come clean in the next washing. I am now ready to cut pieces for the dinosaur and autumn quilt.

As I am telling an acquaintance about my one project at a time philosophy and going crazy with 4 (or 5 if you count the quilt that needs a label) simultaneous assignments, she stops me and says, “oh so you are now a quilter”. So with multiple works in progress for the first time in my life, I have finally become a quilter.


A Fabric Color Story

As I neared the completion of my ribbon quilt, I started thinking about fabric options for the backing. Unfortunately, I had not obtained enough of the red wide-back fabric to cover the quilt but I thought I could pull in a blue on each side and use the red down the center. But first I needed to prewash my fabric.

In the twenty or more years that I have been quilting, I have never had problems with a fabric color bleeding. I prewash all my fabrics with color catcher sheets to make sure the sheets come out white and show no evidence of a fabric color bleeding. So far I have been lucky. But this red! Oh my goodness, did this red bleed! After the first washing, the color catcher was dark red. I washed that fabric 6 more times, soaked it twice in a utility sink with dishwashing liquid overnight and washed it in the machine another 3 or 4 times. The color catchers faded to a dark pink but still were not clear. To top it all off, the fabric itself was beginning to show white spots, indicating that the color was completely coming out of the fabric!

At this point I knew that this particular piece of fabric would be used for test blocks and would never go into a quilt.  But that left me without a backing. As I browsed my local quilt shop looking for a backing, I mentioned my problem of fabric bleed. I had read a number of quilt postings online that had mentioned two products, called Retayne and Synthrapol but none of them indicated whether one was better over another, or, if one should be used first and then treated with the second. The owner of the shop suggested I try them and report my results back to her. So I left the shop, not only with an experiment to run, but with a wonderfully, wild fabric that would complement the quilt front as well as match the personality of the recipient for this quilt.

Coming from a family with backgrounds in math, science, and engineering, my husband and I decided to use the scientific method to conduct my color experiment. My control group would be a piece of fabric thrown into the washing machine with a color catcher. Another group would be treated with the Retayne per the directions on the bottle, then washed with a color catcher. The third group would first be treated with the Retayne, then treated with the Synthrapol before being washed with a color catcher. The final group would be treated with only the Synthrapol and then washed with a color catcher. I probably should have done another group using the Retayne after using the Synthrapol first but I figured the four samples would give me enough information to reach a conclusion.

Having read some information on the manufacturer’s web site, I discovered that Synthrapol was basically a concentrated detergent that would remove sizing as well as excess dye from hand dyed fabrics. The Retayne was described as a dye fixing agent used on commercially dyed cotton fabrics that tend to bleed easily. Processing this information, I developed a hunch that the Retayne would be the product that a quilter would want to use first.

First I need to find some cheap, red fabric for my experiment. Wouldn’t you know, after washing this fabric the color catcher came out absolutely clean. Now what! I didn’t want to spend a lot of money trying to purchase a fabric that would run, so I turned back to my original red fabric hoping that there would still be enough color bleed left in it to complete the experiment. After running the control I decided that there was enough color still bleeding out of my original red fabric and went on with the rest of the experiment. The next group was pretreated with the Retayne and then washed with the color catcher. It came out absolutely clean. I ran the third group, (using the Synthrapol after the Retayne) anyway just for the sake of completeness and as suspected the sheet was clean. Finally I treated the fourth group with just Synthrapol and after washing this piece of fabric discovered that there was still some color bleeding onto my color catcher.

This proved my hypothesis of using the Retayne as a first measure. It made sense to me since the product was described as a dye fixative and I would want any loose dye to fix itself to the fabric to prevent bleeding. The Synthrapol, described as removing excess dye would still have that excess dye floating around to bleed on nearby fabrics. I might use the Synthrapol on a finished quilt where one fabric color bled onto another in the hopes of removing the stain but it would not be my first choice on new fabric. Going forward I would still use the color catchers as a first pass and then if necessary use the Retayne.

Shortly after this, I had a chance to prove the accuracy of this experiment. I set about washing the vibrant backing fabric for my ribbon quilt and was surprised to find that the color catcher came out a very dark purple. I immediately treated the fabric with the Retayne and washed it again. The color catcher was clean and I had only washed the fabric twice as opposed to more than a dozen time.


Butterfly Gardens and Quilt Shops

Back in April, my daughter and I had participated in the annual Quilt Shop Hop. We had dutifully gotten our “passports” stamped at each shop we visited and mailed them off to the coordinator in May. This would allow us to take part in the drawing for various prizes based on the number of shops stamped on our card. Near the beginning of June, I received a letter from the Shop Hop coordinator that I had won one of the third place prizes. The down-side was that I had to go to the shop to pick it up which was a 2 hour ride from our home.

Since the shop just happened to be near Acadia National Park, we decided to make a day of it and found some moderate hiking trails nearby. We would visit the quilt store first (of course) and then head to the trails. I fully expected that when we got to the shop, I would be given a quilting tool or some fabric and we could go on our way, but when I got there I discovered that I could pick out $100 worth of anything in the store! Wow! This was going to take longer than I anticipated. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I circled the store multiple times, while I selected fabric. My husband encouraged me to go over the allotted amount and increase my stash saying that I always bought too little of what I needed. Imagine a spouse encouraging a quilter to buy more fabric! He really is a keeper. When I was done I had a wide piece of red fabric to back my current project, 3 yards of a blue fabric, 3 yards of a green “fossil fern” fabric and 2 cool red, orangey bundles of 10 fat quarters. Mission accomplished.

After we left the shop, we crossed the street towards the Charlotte Rhoades Butterfly Garden. I had been told about this place by a friend who works at one of the campgrounds near Acadia. He mentioned that he and his wife would get coffee and just sit in the garden enjoying the views. The minute we stepped in the garden, I understood why they liked this little gem. The garden was small but I could just imagine the abundance of blooms and butterflies at the height of the summer, not to mention the benches situated with great view of the water.

We wandered around for a few minutes admiring the early Spring blossoms and the sculpture of a rather large caterpillar sitting on a boulder before continuing on towards the trail.



Except for a very few warm days, May was very wet and cold. So much so, that hiking and other outdoor explorations were pretty much nonexistent. I don’t often plan a quilt during the summer months but with the weather not cooperating, it was the perfect time to plan a new project.

After delivering my last big quilt project to friends during our April trip to Long Island, I decided that another friend was due for a comforter. During our visit she had mentioned changing her domestic colors to more “tropical and sunny” colors to remind her of Florida. So a few weeks ago, I casually tried to discover her color scheme. Unfortunately when asked, she merely stated that her kitchen would be teal. Huh. Well that didn’t work, so I flat out had to tell her that she was next in line for a quilt and what colors would she prefer. I got “oh, how sweet…..” but no colors. After going around a few more times, I finally got blues, teals and yellows. Now I could begin.

Playing with some designs on my quilt design software package I narrowed in on several designs. First I arranged a log cabin pattern with a star in the center but it didn’t grab me. Then I tried a Rosebud block both in a straight set and on point but I wasn’t feeling it that either. Finally, I started playing with various triangle combinations until I came up with a ribbon design. After adding some appropriate colors to the design I was satisfied. The color choices could lend itself to being named, “tropical adventures”, or “sun, sand and sea”. The ribbon design made me think of “friendship twist”, or given our sense of humor, “twisted friendship”.

The finished size of the blocks proved a bit too large to be able to use my collection of fat quarters, so unfortunately I needed to acquire additional fabric. Somehow, I managed to find a variety of fabrics that contained some kind of sea-type pattern that would fit the theme of this quilt. I was now ready for the construction phase of the project.

I thought that there might be some way to cut and create the quarter-square triangle portion of the block, similar to the method used to create half-square triangle blocks but alas that did not happen. I needed all the dark colors to end up on the same side of the block, but no matter what variation of construction I tried the results were always the same; pieces that were mirror images of each other. The only thing I could do was cut the appropriate size square, divide said square into quarter square triangles and create the necessary finished block piece by piece. If anyone knows of a better way to construct a split quarter-square, half-square triangle block I would be happy to hear about it.

Once I had constructed a few blocks I assembled the first two rows. I must say I was pleased with the design and the color scheme.