Black and White and Warm All Over

One of my favorite things about custom quilts is when someone asks for a quilt of their favorite things.  The more, the better!

So when customer Beth M. told me her son like Boy Scouts, old movies, their beautiful tuxedo cat, English history and music – well, I knew it’d be a challenge, but I also figured we could have some fun with it.

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I was initially struck by how many of his favorite things were black and white, so I decided to make make the quilt using only those two colors. Although the overall look is high contrast, I actually chose a variety of tone-on-tone small prints or marbled fabrics in these two shades to give the quilt depth and dimension.

As for the symbolism, this quilt features

  • a Tower of London (with the six crows that legend says must live there or the monarchy will fall,)
  • a piano keyboard representing music,
  • a tuxedo cat, in between two halves of the Union Jack,
  • a strip of film, and
  • a fleur de lis from the Cub Scout logo

I filled in the remaining spots with a traditional PINWHEEL block to make the pattern feel more old fashioned and quilt-like – something Beth had mentioned she really wanted. Two thin borders, one white and one black, pull everything together.

Although the majority of the quilting is stippled, I added in some texture in spots – like the birds and the cat’s white accents – to make those areas pop even more.

Influenced by this quilt, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about how individuals are rarely defined by just one characteristic. Different likes and loves, hobbies and habits… they all come together in one person.

Like how lots of different blocks come together in one custom quilt!  Whoa! That’s some deep stuff 😀

All kidding aside, it’s made me think about a lifetime of my favorite things, and how they’ve come to make the person that is me. I think that’s a quilt I want to make, too (another for my bucket list!)

What makes you, you?  What would be in your favorite things quilt?

Is It December 1st Yet?

1qocrgCouldn’t be more excited for Christmas this year as I’m planning to decorate the Whimzie Quiltz sewing room for the holidays, too.  One of the first decorations is this sewing themed Countdown Calendar.

The impetus for this piece came from a Nancy Zieman blog post from 2015.  Instead of a quilted wallhanging, though, I decided I wanted fabric-covered canvas.  Luckily, there was just enough of the grey snowflake fabric in my stash!

I loved-loved-loved how she used a measuring tape for the numbers, but wanted mine to be one piece.  Which meant my version ended up using a 15″ x 30″ canvas from JoAnn’s.

The tree is felt, trimmed with mini pompom ribbon, and the base is machine appliquéd fabric from my stash.  Most of the buttons came from LittleRedCottage on Etsy (her button selection is AMAZING) and they are attached with those stick-on velcro dots. The loop dots are next to the measuring tape; by using the hook side on the back of the buttons they stick to the felt without any thing else needed.

The wooden spools were left over from another project years ago, but had to be cut in half in order to lay flat.  This did not go as well as expected – so glad I had safety goggles on when cutting! – but eventually I got 4 semi-identical halves.  I painted them orange and wound pink embroidery floss  around each before attaching.

I finished it off with a little white ric-rac around the edges and the sequin star – all easily glued down.

I am just super thrilled with the way it turned out!  It’s going to be the highlight of my holiday sewing room decor.  But stay tuned to see what other fun things turn up before December arrives!

A Quilter’s Christmas Carol Pillows

Let me tell you a story…

As the holidays approached way back in 2011, an idea began percolating in my head. What if the ghosts from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol didn’t visit a miserly old man; instead, what if they sought to change the heart of a overworked and very tired quilter trying to get all her quilted gifts done before December 25th? (No, nope, wasn’t projecting at all…)

The result was a little story called A Quilter’s Christmas Carol ~ With Thanks to Charles Dickens for the Holiday Inspiration.  One year later (after I, wink, wink, got caught back up) the little story got turned into a book.

As part of the book writing process, I decided to add directions for a related quilting project, the Quilter’s Christmas Carol block.

Pieced from traditional holiday colors, the Quilter’s Christmas Carol block features three flying geese moving out from the center (embodying the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future) while stylized “C”s in each corner represent the first letters of the classic holiday tale’s title.

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Much like Dicken’s classic, today’s story has a happy ending – six years later, I finally finished making a set of Quilter’s Christmas Carol pillows!

I want to make it very clear, I didn’t create such a difficult design that it would take the average quilter six years to make these.  Pretty sure these could be knocked out in a day with the no distractions.  But what average quilter has NO distractions? Let’s just say, being overworked and very tired is not an uncommon thing around Whimzie Quiltz and leave it at that, shall we?

Still, it’s nice to have these off my to-do list.  One less chain for poor Marley, I mean, me, to wear as quilt-y penance when the time comes!

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PS – Copies of my book are still available online. They make great stocking stuffers or Secret Santa gifts for quilters.  Want to make them even more special? I’m happy to autograph copies!

Merry Mermaid Stockings

Can’t tell you how much we love having our nieces and nephews visit!  We see them mostly during spring breaks or summer vacations, but, because we live in Southern California, sometimes they’ll swing by during Thanksgiving and Christmas just to get a break from the cold.mural

The room the kids stay in while visiting is beach-themed, with this giant tropical mural on one wall. I’ve been mulling over Christmas decorations to go with the theme – so they can enjoy their visit to warmer climes and celebrate the holiday at the same time.

All of which led to these quilted mermaid stockings…mermaidstockings

That is sequin stretch fabric, folks.  Or should I say sequin s – t – r – e – t – c – h fabric. Not the easiest fabric to work with if you are used to 100% quilter’s cotton.  But, hey, I’ve been saying I need to s – t – r – e – t – c – h my quilting skills! 🙂

I bought a special scalloped ruler to do the quilting on my long arm, though the lines on the tails are freehanded.  That was a lot of work, so I kind of cheated on the backs – they are un-quilted fleece.  I bound everything with additional sequin stretch – extremely carefully cut – and the trim is a mix of white feathers and green gathered mesh.

I’m really looking forward to decorating the kid’s room during the holidays this year.  I’m thinking a Christmas tree with beach ball ornaments, some twinkly lights, maybe a garland in the blues and greens of the sea.  But the highlight is sure to be these merry mermaid stockings!

Scrappy Happy Stockings

mac30sfamily2The classic Depression-era quilting tale always touches on how nothing was wasted – every scrap of fabric was used by thrifty seamstresses determined to grimly “make do” with what they had.

That description always seems so sad to me. Scrappy quilts are happy quilts! They are every voice singing in perfect harmony. Every person doing their part to make the world a better place. Every piece coming together to make a larger whole.

When I had leftover fabric from Beth M.’s recently completed 1930s Irish Chain quilt, I didn’t just want her thank you gift to “make do”.

I wanted the gift to make her smile.

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It took a LOT of time to piece all those little blocks together, quilt them and hand embroider the names on the stocking cuffs. As it is, she had her custom quilt for nearly a month before the stockings were ready to ship!

But they were so worth it. I can’t help but imagine Beth, her children – and Santa! – all smiling when they see these scrappy, happy stockings.

9 Days and Counting…

9 days into the #100DaysProject creativity challenge and I haven’t missed one! I think it’s working, too, because I find myself with so many ideas that I want to design more than one Irish Chain quilt a day! But the point is to pace yourself and make it all the way through, so I’m reigning myself in.

If you remember from my Challenge Accepted! post, I’m participating in the #100DaysProject. Each day for 100 days, participants repeat a “simple creative task” and post their effort online.

I chose designing a modified Irish Chain quilt ~ changing colors, mixing blocks, varying settings, etc. ~ and I’m excited to see how the traditional pattern will shift, evolve and develop during the next 91 days!

Celebrating Family and Future

I once read an article about “divorce quilts”, textile art projects made to help process the difficult decision to end a marriage.  I can definitely see the therapeutic value, but I like what customer Beth M. had in mind much better… she asked me to make a quilt celebrating the start of her and her children’s new life.

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The overall design of her quilt is vintage 1930s, a postage stamp Irish Chain design on a white background (all the squares are reproduction 1930s fabrics.)  Appliqués appear in the areas formed by the chain, each turned under and hand embroidered with a blanket stitch – again, an old-fashioned, classic technique.

In a way, the design builds on history to create a new future.  That feeling is echoed in her choice of appliqué ideas.  There are blocks that represent heritage – a shamrock for Ireland, a thistle for Scotland – and blocks that represent now – a beloved family pet and shared activities like movie watching.  Every single element in this quilt is meaningful and all are designed to symbolize the foundation on which she and her children will create their new life.

When Beth and her children curl up in this quilt, it’s not just their bodies being warmed, it’s their hearts, too. This is why I make quilts.  I want to create beautiful, thoughtful, treasured keepsakes that touch people deeply.  Laugh, cry, reminisce and dream about your bright, new future ~ a good quilt should encourage all that and more.