Category: Custom Quilts by Whimzie Quiltz

Palm Leaf Quilt: The Process

I thought it might be fun to take a detailed look through the creative process I bring to a quilt design…

This is the fabric I fell in love with – it’s from a Michael Miller line called Garden Isle. The palm leaf print coordinates with the decor in our guest room beautifully and I thought a light-weight summer quilt for that room would be perfect.


This is the quilt design I ultimately decided was my favorite choice – but it took a long time to get to this point!


I knew I wanted to feature the palm leaf fabric, so this was my first effort – a large block of the print in the center surrounded by smaller scrappy blocks. But it’s a little too basic, too blah.


Building on that first design, I then tried breaking up the large center block of palm fabric. It’s still the focus, but there’s more white space, too, which outlines a path for your eye to travel through the design.


Next I tried a row quilt design. Again, the palm fabric is featured and there’s lots of white space which nicely sets off the scrappy blocks. This was a top contender, but I wasn’t quite satisfied.


After so many options with large areas of palm fabric, I wanted to try something different. Here the palm blocks are more seperated, but I felt their design got lost next to the larger scrappy blocks.


Another smaller palm block design – this time with a black and white stripe element (one of my favorite accents in a quilt.) But again, it feels like the beautiful focus fabric is no longer emphasized.


I got the right balance of palm fabric and scrappy fabrics in this one, but the only way I could make it work was changing the overall quilt dimensions from rectangular to square. Despite such a dramatic shift, this was almost my choice.


Once again, the winning design! You can see how I pulled a lot of the best elements from previous designs into this one and everything just finally gelled. I can’t wait to get started on this quilt!



I Spy… A Quilt for Our New Great Niece

Our first great niece will be making her way into the world any day now and, of course, I had to make a baby quilt to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Because her proud parents-to-be are known for their love of games, I thought that an “I Spy”/matching game quilt would be the perfect choice. That way baby can join in the fun right from the beginning…


I really liked the idea of a modern quilt design and this asymmetric pattern was something I hadn’t done before. The gray and white color scheme worked really well as a frame for the novelty fabrics (and once we knew it was a girl, I added in a pink accent to the binding.)

Going through my stash to find the perfect novelty fabric choices was so much fun! There’s a few in there that have personal meaning for my niece and her growing family – they are big Patriots fans, for instance, and great-grandma has a tea cup collection. Others I just thought would be fun for a kid to search for – Dinosaurs! Rubber duckies! Rocket ships!

I love how an I Spy quilt like this encourages family interaction and baby’s development. There’s so many learning opportunities here – searching for matching images, looking for specific designs, identifying colors, etc. Plus, it’s just plain fun 😀

Here’s hoping Briella and her parents enjoy a future filled with lots of warm and wonderful family game nights. Welcome little one!


ToothFairyBriellaI find it practically impossible to make a baby quilt and not include a tooth fairy pillow, too.

There was a long search for a tooth fairy embroidery that I could use for this baby and for future babies (after all, our siblings have 17 kids between them. I suspect there will be future great nieces and nephews. 😀 ) This super cute one from artapli on Etsy was perfect.

Additional scrappy gray fabrics that coordinate with the gray and white fabrics from the quilt – and that same pink accent – mean everything matches beautifully.

The added benefit here is that just as baby starts to age out of their baby quilt, having a tooth fairy pillow around means a little warmth and “whimzie” will still be part of their life!

Twice as Nice

To me, custom quilting has always meant personalizing each quilt I make to the individual. Even if someone likes a quilt I’ve made in the past and wants one “just like it” for themselves, I encourage them to consider some alteration that will make the new one their’s alone. So it’s rare that I make the same quilt twice.

However, with Gus H.’s newest order, I found out that twice can be nice!


He wanted a family tree quilt, but something that would incorporate the appropriate Chinese zodiac symbol for each person, too. We settled on a design that represents the Chinese tradition of hanging lanterns from a plum tree limb in celebration of the lunar new year.

That’s when he threw me the curve ball – he actually wanted TWO quilts! One would be a wall hanging and one would be a body pillow sham. I agreed, thinking they would both come out nicely, but maybe not exactly the same. No one was more surprised that I was by how closely they match!

Most of the design was done using my new embroidery machine – the plum blossoms, the lanterns, the kanji symbols and the text were all done that way. The plum tree branch was satin stitch appliquéd separately. Because these won’t be used as regularly as a quilt would, I was able to sew on actual tassels to complete the design; it’s a lovely 3-dimensional effect.

While I still prefer that every Whimzie quilt should be unique to the customer who orders it, it was fun to do double duty ~ just this once!


Check This Out ~ A Checkerboard Game for “Dog” Day Afternoons

My aunt’s granddaughter got a Chihuahua puppy for Christmas and she was so crazy excited.

Since I was ready making a bunch of new quilted checkerboard games for my Whimzie Quiltz Etsy store, it got me thinking that this adorable fabric would make a “paws”itively perfect checkerboard game for her.

So I added it to the list… just hope the puppy leaves them alone long enough to actually play! 😀



Check This Out ~ A Checkerboard Game With Lots of Class!

Anne M. ordered this custom checkerboard game as a teacher appreciation gift for her kids’ great teacher. I LOVE this idea – it’s useful AND unique!

Games make learning fun and a quilted game board can stand up to lots of youthful wear and tear.  Plus it’s so different from the usual goodies or tchotchkes teachers get by the handful.

Maybe your kids have a great teacher whose classroom could use it’s own quilted checkerboard game? If so, visit Whimzie Quiltz on Etsy to see what I have in stock today or order your own custom version, too.




Oversized Chess Pieces Inspire Oversized Chess Board

checkerboardpiecesI’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…GundersenCheckerboardQuilt

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!

RIP TV ~ A Graveyard Quilt for the Modern Age

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.

kentuckygraveyardquiltMs. 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.

RIPTV2Even 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.

RIPTV3 copyTo 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