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!
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!
I 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!
If you follow me at all you know I love to make quilted pillows (and this photo from 2015 shows just the pillows I’d made for myself, the one’s I’ve made for customers number in the hundreds!)
But of all the pillows I’ve made, I never had the opportunity to make some of those super popular reading pocket pillows I see all over Pinterest. Until customer Gus H. asked for a quilt with the names of all five of his family’s grandchildren on it.
5 kids? That meant a gift with purchase of 5 reading pocket pillows!
Searching for reading-themed cotton was harder than I imagined, but I eventually ended up with a cute book worm fabric; additional fabrics for each pillow were in each kid’s favorite color. I embroidered the phrase “Just one more chapter” under each kid’s name on the pocket.
Honestly, just laid out here for the photo, these pillows don’t look as cool as they turned out IRL. With a pillow inside, they are not just adorable, but useful, too! I included the following poem –
Tuck a book in here
and place on your bed.
You’ll never go to sleep
with a chapter unread.
I imagine with 5 different personalities of 5 different kids, not all are going to voracious readers. But at least these pocket pillows will give each one of them a reminder to try to enjoy a good book every night!
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!
Happy National Quilting Day!
Generally, I use this annual quilt-y celebration to look back on the quilts I’ve made in the last year and look forward to the quilts I still want to make – my “quilt bucket list”, as it were. After 5 years of observing National Quilting Day this way, I’m starting to realize that the bucket of quilts I want to make has sprung a leak. A LOT of leaks. There are still SO MANY quilts I want to create before I go and there’s just not enough time to make them all…
I finished only 2 quilts for myself last year! I understand why – a lot of my custom quilt orders were for oversized quilts and my Etsy store really picked up around the holidays, so there just wasn’t a lot of “me” quilt time available. At least both quilts that did get done were ones I’d be hoping to finish for a very long time – Made in March and RIP TV.
Still, that’s leaving me a with an ever expanding list of personal quilt projects and an ever shrinking amount of time. I’ve crunched the numbers and my bucket list currently has 25 quilts on it.
At the rate I’m going, I won’t be done until 2031 – and that’s if I don’t think of any more in the meantime! So while I’m over here in the corner hyperventilating, you can take a quick look at just the ones closest to being finished…
Welcome! Everything is fine. Quilt – a new addition based on my current favorite television show, The Good Place. Hoping to finish before Season 3 premiers later this fall
Grinch Panel / A Christmas Story Panel Quilt – bought both panels a while back, but had the hardest time choosing panel-friendly patterns (I think I’ve finally found perfect choices for each)
Sew Geeky Quilt – pulling together my love for sci-fi television and my love for quilting, this one features a LOT of appliquéd pop culture /slash/ sewing puns (like Captain Picard’s classic, “Make it sew”)
Steven Tyler Quilt – a memorial quilt for my rock star kitty cat (not the actual rock star). I’m embarrassed to say how long it’s been since he passed away, but it’s taken me a while to come to grips with the loss and feel comfortable enough to finish this one
Friends Quilt – an addition based on one of my all-time favorite television shows, Friends. Having made a Tardis door quilt and a 221B door quilt, I’m calling this one – which will feature the iconic purple apartment door – Part III of my Door Quilt Series 😀
As for the other 19? Deep breath… a Merry Mustache quilt, a Minions quilt, a sheep quilt, a Monk quilt, a french rose quilt, a Dairy Queen quilt, an NFL quilt, a flamingo quilt, a mermaid tail quilt, a Star Trek quilt, a Beetlejuice quilt, a penguin quilt, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quilt, a Christmas dresden quilt, a gingerbread house quilt, a sewing machine quilt, a scottie dog quilt, a Create-themed quilt and, finally, a My Favorite Things quilt.
I think I better get off here and get busy! But I’ll make time to read about your bucket list quilts in the comments if you want to share. Here’s hoping your bucket isn’t as leaky as mine!
A friend of mine writes books about a cat detective named Li’l Tom who lives in San Francisco. You’re probably sold just hearing the words “cat detective” but what I really loved about her first book were the descriptions of SF, one of my favorite cities in the world. And now she has a second book coming out in March 2018 – just in time for my birthday!
Last year, I purchased an embroidery machine. While learning to use it, a promotional bookmark for Angela’s first Li’l Tom book caught my eye and I decided to give recreating it in fabric a shot —
Believe it or not, the eyeglasses and eyes came from an embroidery file for an anthropomorphic school bus – go figure! But that taught me how to select and use different elements from a pre-purchased design. And by playing around with the letters, I learned how NOT to resize fonts and also to make sure any alphabets I purchase in the future include numbers!
I got the pillow finished and sent to her late last month. Who knows? After I read Li’l Tom’s next case, there might be a coordinating pillow, too!
Thank you so much – I absolutely love it. And such quality craftsmanship, as always. It makes me happy that you took inspiration from Li’l Tom. 😻
— Angela Crider Neary
For several years now, I’ve been making each of my 16 nieces and nephews a very special quilt – I call them N ‘N’ N quilts 😀 – starting with the oldest and working my way by birthdate down to the youngest. And I just finished the quilt for #13!
You know how sometimes you can make a single, insignificant comment that when you look back becomes much more important that you ever realized? It’s that sort of thing that led to my favorite memory of this nephew.
It happened during one of the first times he came to visit me in San Diego, when he couldn’t have been more than 3 or so. To keep him busy on the plane trip, his dad taught him to play Battleship on a smart phone app. He showed me the game as soon as he came in the house and I replied, “You know that’s a real board game, don’t you?”
Oh my god! He got so excited! We had to immediately get out my old Battleship board game and set it up. We blew up each other’s ships up and yelled “PWQUSH!” as loud as we could each time there was a hit. (I’d do the classic grown-up move of changing my ships around as he guessed numbers and letters so he’d get more hits and we could make more noise.) We must have played a million games before he went back home.
You’d think a boring old board game wouldn’t measure up to a bright and brisk electronic version, but nothing beat the combination of quality time with Aunt D and a child’s imagination.
That memory was the inspiration for this quilt. All quilts get named and this one is called “You SUNK My Battleship.”
He’s a little bit older now, but during their most recent visit, we played a couple of Battleship games. I don’t cheat to let him win anymore, yet he still beat me a lot of the time. Mostly, though, he’s moved on to Chess (a game I hope to learn someday) and Scrabble. The games we played this time were definitely quieter.
I hope he’ll enjoy curling up with this special quilt for years and years to come. Maybe he’ll get out the board game version of Battleship and play a few games all snuggled up warmly. He’ll remember how much fun he had playing with me when he was just a young thing and let a couple happy “PWQUSH!” noises escape… even growing boys need a little loud fun in their lives now and then!