I’ve been working on a new batch of quilted checkerboard games for my Whimzie Quiltz Etsy shop, so when Lori G. contacted me about a custom board, I said, “No problem; happy to help.” I figured I’d just add it to the growing pile. Then she showed me the oversized playing pieces she wanted the board for – they were freaking gorgeous! That’s when I knew this project would not be a typical quilted checkerboard…
The custom board need to be large enough to accommodate her 3″ diameter, non-pawn, chess pieces. So the squares are 3 ½” each; with the two borders, the total size comes to 40″ x 40″.
She had a wonderful color scheme in mind – black, cream, dark coral, gold and turquoise. To make sure the fabrics coordinated with the shabby chic design of the pieces, I bought a crackly black print. Then I tea-stained the black and white striped binding, as well as all the other cream choices, so everything matched. All the other fabrics came from my stash – it was definitely fun picking out patterns and marbles that would work with her request for “funky”.
I’d actually had smaller diamonds in the draft design I forwarded, but once I started piecing them, they just kept getting lost in that sea of black. In this larger size, they “popped” so much better; now Lori can really enjoy the bright, happy accent colors she chose!
I love how the finished quilt works with the wonderful chess pieces she already owned. Here’s hoping she and her family enjoy many games in the years the come!
Quilts and mourning have long been associated with each other ~ there’s the custom of viewing the deceased laid out on a quilt or of burying bodies in quilts when wooden coffins were unavailable. And you may have heard of the Kentucky Graveyard Quilt, or Coffin Quilt, a pre-Civil War quilt created to memorialize deaths in Elizabeth Roseberry Mitchell’s family.
Ms. Mitchell initiated this tradition when her two year-old son, John, died and was buried in Monroe County, Ohio, in 1836. Shortly after, her husband moved the family to Kentucky and, not wanting to forget John, she began a quilt that featured a fairly accurate appliqué of the graveyard where he was laid.
Surrounding her “graveyard” are eight-pointed star blocks alternating with directional calico fabric blocks. For the outer fence border, she created dark coffin shapes and embroidered on them the names and birthdates of the members of her family, placing these around the outside of the quilt. To John’s coffin she added the date of his death and appliqued it inside the graveyard. Later, a second son’s coffin and the coffins from two other relatives were moved to the center. Today, both a practice quilt top and the finished graveyard quilt are located in Kentucky museums.
Though an unusual method, the Kentucky Graveyard Quilt was Ms. Mitchell’s way of dealing with her grief. After a pretty serious illness in my family, I was looking for a quilt-related way process my own feelings and decided to build on the idea of a coffin quilt while at the same time laugh in the face of death.
I created a modern version, with blocks and layout influenced by the original, but in contemporary colors and fabrics. Instead of family, the names on my coffins were of TV characters who died on some of my favorite shows.
Even though they were on the small screen, many of these deaths touched me deeply. As the meme says…
There are certain fictional characters whose deaths I will never recover from. Ever.
Each of the names was machine embroidered by my friend, Shirley W., at Embroidery by Shirley. I cut the coffins and machine appliquéd them in similar places to the original. The surrounding fence is also machine appliquéd (although I cheated a bit and used black Quick Bias for the fence chain.)
The eight-pointed stars are done in scrappy purple fabrics with a single grey or single black depending on placement. I’m not sure if Ms. Mitchell meant to have the stars on varying light and dark backgrounds or if some of the fabrics have faded over time, but I went with layout as it now appears. My setting squares are a striped fabric, which I also carefully placed to get the same directionality as hers.
I’ve not been able to visit the Kentucky museum where the original Graveyard Quilt is located and online photos only show portions of the quilting. So I contacted Barbara Brackman, quilt historian and author. She is literally one of the most famous quilt historians on earth and I knew my chances of actually getting a reply were slim. But I did have an in – she lives in my old hometown of Lawrence, KS.
To my surprise, she graciously did respond! Although she said she hadn’t seen the quilt in person, she sent a link to a blog post she wrote about Ms. Mitchell’s quilts and suggested that, since I was doing a modern take on the old piecing to go twenty-first century with the quilting, too.
So I did. My version has double batting so the outline quilting around the coffins and stars makes them pouf up nicely. In the setting squares I matchstick quilted diamond shapes (the center of the diamond poufs up, too.) In the graveyard and the outside border, I did my classic stipple quilting – it wouldn’t be a Whimzie quilt if I left that technique out!
Even blown up, some of the names are difficult to read in these pictures, so if you are wondering, here’s the list of characters clockwise from the top left corner (see if you can guess the shows in the comments!) ~
- Trudy Monk
- Amy & Rory Pond
- Snowball I
- Snowball II
- Snowball III
- Snowball IV
- Bleeding Gums Murphy
- Mr. Hooper
- Bill McNeal
- Jadzia Dax
- Jock Ewing
- Professor Proton
- Richard Bay
- Henry Blake
- Lenny Briscoe
- Chuckles the Clown
- Susan Ross
- Joyce Summers
and in the graveyard center ~
- Tasha Yar
- Eddie LeBec
- Frank Grimes
- Sister Mary Duvall
In 2016, a friend of the family mentioned she was going to be a grandmother for the first time. As all good quilters do, I got super excited about the opportunity to make a baby quilt for her and her new grand baby. Since our friend was living in San Diego, I went with a San Diego Zoo / panda baby theme and created this adorable little black, white and green quilt.
Cut to 2017 — and our friend’s just found out that her other daughter is having a baby, too! Which means, YAY!, another baby quilt!
I decided to keep the Zoo theme going and created a zebra baby quilt this time. It’s the same layout as before – a center medallion with a pieced animal, on a solid color background, surrounded by black and white borders, and featuring scrappy 3-dimensional prairie points. Because of the zebra, adding red as the main color seemed the perfect choice – it’s the classic children’s riddle (what’s black, white and red all over?) come to life!
Prairie points are always a good choice for a baby quilt since playing with them encourages hand / eye coordination (I recommend them on nearly every baby quilt I design.) Additionally, the contrast of black and white with a bright, happy third color, also helps baby’s vision development. And, well, these are just darn cute quilts, too. 😀
Our friend loves her grandkids so much (she’s shared some of the sweetest stories!) so I’m sure there will be more grand babies in her future. And I do seem to have started something here with the black and white zoo animals theme. I’m pretty sure when #3 comes around I’ll be making a penguin, but I’d love some other suggestions in the comments!
When customer Gus H. first contacted me about a quilt for his new baby’s first Christmas, he had a list of possible ideas for the theme, starting with owls and Pokemon and including “Star Trek, Star Wars’ R2D2 and LEGO.”
We were able to use most of those ideas in the quilt itself (see right) but the LEGO option stuck in my head… it noodled around in there for a while and eventually I realized LEGO would be the perfect choice for the thank you gift with purchase I had in mind — Christmas stockings!
Picking out the right color fabrics for the LEGO blocks was the most fun part of this project, though my delight at finding an embroidery font that resembled the LEGO logo was close second. The piecing was absolutely crazy – matching the color of one row of LEGOs to the row below took some real care (and a few removed stitches :D)
In the end, these came out adorably and I’m hoping Santa enjoys filling them with fantastic LEGO stocking stuffers for years to come!
Over the years, I’ve made a LOT of stockings ready to be “hung by the chimney with care”. Thought I’d offer a little photo montage to get you in the holiday spirit if you aren’t already — there’s something for everyone in this round-up of “whimzical” quilted stockings by Whimzie Quiltz…
I love making quilted stockings – giant stockings, themed stockings, traditional stockings, non-traditional stockings – all sorts of stockings. (Do you think I’ve used the “S” word enough? Stockings, stockings, stockings.)
Got a stocking idea you’d like to have me make? Order early at Whimzie Quiltz so your special stockings are ready to hang in 2018!
The year is winding down here at Whimzie Quiltz. As I look back at the custom quilts I’ve created in 2017, I find a common thread (pun intended) — they are all about family. So it’s fitting that the last custom order of this year is a baby quilt that celebrates the start of a brand new family.
I’ve actually made a couple of quilts for customer Gus H. in the past, including a baby quilt that he gave a coworker a few years ago. So when he contacted me to have a quilt made for his own baby, I was super excited for him.
He wanted a design that incorporated representations of who he, his wife and new baby are and the things they love. There’s heritage flags, fandom elements like a Star Trek uniform and R2D2, an apple and owl for teacher. Little Laylah was born during the year of the rooster and her nickname is Pikachu, so both of those are included in the design, too.
It was fun to find a way to pull all these different parts together using snowball quilt blocks, mixing piecework and appliqué to make all the designs work. I even subtly embroidered names along the outside to further personalize the quilt.
This adorable little baby quilt was the perfect way to end the informal “Year of the Family” here at Whimzie Quiltz. I’m looking forward to the new year and can’t wait to see what custom quilts come my way in 2018!
I’ve been making quilted advent calendars for several years now – you can see some of them available for sale in the Whimzie Quiltz Etsy store. The standard version is approximately 10 ½” x 21 ½”, with pockets that hold a single piece of hard candy or Hershey’s Kiss.
Recently, I had a request for a larger version. It would be for a family with two kids and, naturally, they wanted a calendar that would hold two pieces of candy.
I may not love math, but I do love custom orders, so I figured out new dimensions with my handy quilting calculator. And the result is this awesome 15 ½” x 32″ advent calendar… bigger is always better when it comes to Christmas 😀