Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lia's T-Shirt Quilt

I made granddaughter Lia a t-shirt quilt for Christmas, similar to the one I made for her brother for his birthday.  I had planned to learn how to quilt on a long-arm machine on this quilt, but, alas, this was not to be. My friend's machine was not cooperating!

So I ended up finishing Lia's quilt as I did her brother's--backing it with fleece that was then brought back to the front to bind the quilt as well.  I top-stitched the "binding" down with a wide zig-zag stitch.

Actually, I think the way it turned out is better than my first plan, because this quilt is now much more cozy and soft!  I think Lia will really like it.

These t-shirts were set aside by Lia's mom a year ago, after she had asked me to make her children these quilts.  I happened to find the paper bag of t-shirts totally by accident one day last spring.  A serendipitous find, for I had been sad to think that I couldn't fulfill Kathy's request, since I didn't believe that she had had the energy, in the throes of her illness, to gather up the shirts.  But she did, and there they were, waiting for me in the bottom of the guest room closet!

So now I consider that this quilt is a gift from both Lia's grandmother and her mother.

Here's as much of the quilt as I could get in
one photo.  I think it shows it pretty well, however.
I don't have room to pin this to my design wall, so I just photographed
it laid over my cutting table.
Here's a close-up that shows how the borders and the
binding interact with the squares cut
from the various t-shirts. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friendship Stars and an Elephant

I've been working on this quilt off and on practically this entire fall.  It started out with three batik panels surrounded by small blocks, but I was not at all happy with how it looked.  I didn't like the batik fabrics I had used for the small blocks, and I was unhappy with the block designs as well.  So I set it aside for a long time, and eventually decided to feature just one panel.  So then I had a lot of ripping out to do!

Then I had big plans of surrounding the elephant panel with alternating plain borders and pieced ones.  After attaching the first two, I added another narrow gold plain border, just a bit wider than the first one.  For some reason, I didn't like how this looked.  But I left it alone and made a couple of simple blocks to audition for use as the second pieced border.  But neither of these looked right to me, either.

Suddenly it occurred to me--why not just leave the quilt as it is?  I had always planned to use the dark blue, animal-motif batik for the outer border.  I pinned strips of this up, and, voila, the quilt looked not only finished but striking to me.  So the second gold borders were removed and the wider blue borders pinned up.

I decided to put Friendship Star "cornerstones" in this wider outer border for several reasons.  One, I wanted more "pops" of gold.  And, two, since I plan to give this quilt to a dear friend as a "thank you for your hospitality" gift, I liked the symbolism of using little Friendship Stars in the quilt.

Now the top is done, and I plan to quilt it very simply.  The center portion I'll quilt with embroidery stitching around the elephant and the other designs.  The borders will be machine quilted, again very sparingly.  I am considering framing this 30" square quilt with framing strips that can be bought in pairs at craft and hobby stores.  A quilt this small is every effective when it is framed.  Too, hanging the quilt is made very easy for the recipient!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Jalna Books

My mother, when I was a teenager, introduced me to the Jalna books.  No doubt she suggested I read the book called JALNA first, which actually appears 7th chronologically in the series of 16 Jalna books.  This book was the first one that Canadian author Mazo de la Roche wrote.  It was received with much fanfare in acclaim in 1927, when it was published.  Then de la Roche went on to write, in no particular order, books that preceded and followed the original one.  Once I was hooked by this book, I went back and read the books in order, from THE BUILDING OF JALNA to CENTENARY AT JALNA.

It is believed, however, that de la Roche had the entire saga in mind before she wrote the first book!  Why she wrote them in such a random order is not clear.  Maybe it was just more fun that way.  There have been two movies and one mini-series based on the book, but I've not seen any of these.

When my daughter Kathy was a teen, I suggested to her that she read the books, and she became as devoted to them as I had been and as her grandmother before her had been.  Some years ago Kathy began searching used bookstores and online for copies of the various Jalna books.  She found quite a number, and for awhile, each birthday or Mother's Day, she would send me one of the books.  I have just finished re-reading JALNA.  On the inside cover is written:  "1999.  Happy Birthday, Mom, with lots of memories and much love, Kathy."

Lately I've been drawn back to these books and have been re-reading all of them, in a rather haphazard order.  I've probably re-read some six or eight of the sixteen books.  There is no doubt that this first
one--first to be written but not first chronologically--is the most dramatic and gripping.

 It is a way I can relive a wonderful connection to Kathy, a happy one, and to relive my delight in her gifts to me.  No, she didn't find all 16, but after she must have forgotten about her pursuit of them, I began looking for books to fill in the gaps.  My beloved daughter, with lots of memories and much love, I am re-reading these books for both of us.

I am today ordering used copies of JALNA and I plan to send them to my three devoted emailing friends who live at a distance from me--in Arkansas, Missouri, and Masssachusetts.  So I've spoiled your surprise, dear friends, but now you'll have a bit of history to go with the book, when it arrives!  Enjoy--and I send the book to each of you with lots of memories and much love!  Yes, it's a bit like a soap opera--a lot like a soap!  But very well written with wonderfully drawn characters and a plot that keeps you riveted!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ribbons, Posies, and Butterflies: A Quilt for Mary Claire

Ribbons, Posies, and Butterflies--designed and pieced by
Alice; quilted by Rita

I finished the handwork today on the baby quilt I've been working on, off and on, for the past year.  The recipient is a little great niece who is now a year old.  It is her family that is co-hosting the family reunion we are attending next week in Pennsylvania.

I used the quilt pattern called Turning Twenty, Again, which incidentally would be an excellent quilt for a novice quilter.  There's a whole series of "Turning Twenty" books, but this is the first quilt I've made using this concept.  Basically, you cut a assortment of squares and rectangles in prescribed dimensions, and then you arrange these into big blocks.  In assembling the quilt, you "turn" the blocks so that the block that adjoins it is turned differently.  This quilt is composed of just six blocks--two blocks across, three down.  Below you can see that I zoomed in on one of the blocks.

This shows one of the
blocks with its 11 different
After I was finished assembling the quilt, I realized that many of the fabrics contained flowers and ribbons, and at least one of them had tiny butterflies.  Therefore, when friend Rita brought over her notebook of quilting patterns, we chose one that featured flowers and butterflies.  The fabrics and the quilting design then led naturally to the quilt's name.

For the first time ever in eleven years of nearly constant quilting, I cut my binding strips on the bias.  One of my quilt heroes, quilt designer and author Marsha McCloskey, advises in several of her books that binding be cut this way.  I really liked working with it!  It turned so neatly and smoothly from the front to the back.

The lovely quilting by Rita shows up especially well
on the solid fabrics.

Here you can see the butterfly plainly.

I printed the label on paper-backed fabric designed for ink jet printer,
using my new HP Photosmart printer.  It did such a good job!
This picture shows off more of Rita's quilting, too!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Two Down, Three to Go!

In early October, we'll be attending a "mini family reunion" in Pennsylvania, where two of my nephews and their families have recently moved.  These young men have invited all their first cousins, aunts and uncles, mother and father, and siblings to spend a weekend at a charming inn in one of their new towns.

This is a great opportunity for me to present one great-niece with a belated Bat Mitzvah gift and the latest baby in our family, who has just passed her first birthday, with her baby quilt.

While I am "gifting" these girls, I thought I would make fleece throws for the other children in the baby's family.  So far, I've finished the Bat Mitzvah quilt and one of the throws.  This week I hope to finish the quilt for the baby.  Then I'll make the other two throws later in the month.

I've posted several times about my "Alice in Wonderland" quilt.  Now I am ready to show it completely finished.  It seems an appropriate gift for the Bat Mitzvah young woman, since she bears my name!  Both of us were named for my mother, her great-grandmother, who lived to the wonderful age of 90 and whom I was privileged to live around the corner from her from the time I was 31 until age 60.

I named this quilt with the quotation from ALICE IN WONDERLAND:  "Which way from here."  This seemed an appropriate title, both because of the scene depicted from ALICE and also because my great-niece, after the milestone of her Bat Mitzvah, is likely pondering "which way from here" for herself, as she is now a teenager and as so many life changes and decisions live ahead for her.  As mentioned in previous posts, I hand-embroidered the center panel, and then I very simply machine quilted the series of borders.

Fellow quilter and dear friend Patty actually added all the borders in a "brown bag" challenge sponsored by our quilt guild.  We participants put UFOs (unfinished quilting "objects") in a brown paper bag, we drew the unmarked bags, and then finished the quilts for our fellow quilters.  Patty did a superb job!

Here are the two gifts:

The Alice quilt

the fleece throw for another great-niece

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The T-Shirt Quilt Presented!

We had a wonderful two-day birthday celebration for grandson Locke!  Sunday was the party, with flag football, laser tag, 20 little boys + one tolerant sister.  Afterwards two friends went out to dinner with us and then spent the night.

The next day was Locke's "real" birthday.  Sister Lia made him a pound cake from scratch, and after dining al fresco in the back yard (is that spelled right?), we came in for Locke to open all presents--those from the family and from his friends. 

He loved the t-shirt quilt!  (This quilt discussed in the post just before this one.)  His happy reaction exceeded my wildest dreams.  His first response was, "Oh!  I have shirts like all of these!"  Then I explained to him that these WERE his shirts, and I told him about his mommy's setting them aside for me to make a quilt from them.  This was also explained in a letter, which he read aloud.  There was a fun game included, which had him finding such shirts as "two from foreign countries," "one you wore as a one year old," "two brand-new shirts that you've never worn" etc.  I had a "secret pocket" in one that he searched and searched for; this had a $10 bill in it!  The secret pocket was in the Iceland shirt!

Here are some pictures:

Grandmommy and Locke showing the quilt

Locke wrapped in the quilt and a hug!

The green-bordered quilt in his newly-painted green room!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

T-Shirt Quilt for the Birthday Boy!

Grandson Locke is about to turn 9.  His mother gathered up some old t-shirts for him, last summer or fall.  She had asked me in the summer if I could make him and his sister Lia quilts from old, favorite, and significant t-shirts.  I was delighted to say yes, since I had always wanted to make one of these quilts.

I feared she had forgotten and hadn't sorted through the old shirts, but lo and behold, one time recently when I was out there, I discovered a brown grocery bag in the guest room closet that had the shirts sorted by child's name.  I had seen the bag before, but since some hand-me-down jeans were laid across it, I hadn't realized that it contained the treasured shirts.

I have a great book with clear instructions for how to make these quilts.  After cutting up the sides of the shirts and cutting off the sleeves, you cut out the motifs from front or back.  Then you fuse some Pellon Easy Knit interfacing to the backs of the various-sized pieces you've cut out.  This makes the stretchy cotton knits much easier to handle.

I had three widths of cut-outs--12", 10", and 6".  These I arranged in vertical rows, with 3" wide strips of leftover knit fabric (also backed with the fusible knit interfacing) between each cut-out.  I used contrasting colors between each two; thus, gray between a navy and a white motif, etc.

I decided not to use batting and backing for this quilt, but instead used a mottled grass-green polyester fleece, for its softness and coziness and because Locke's bedroom is green.   I laid the quilt out on the fleece, cutting it over-sized, and then used the flip and sew method of "quilting."  This involved laying one row down on the fleece, face up, and then putting the next row down on top of it and sewing the two down onto the backing.  (The stitching shows on the back but not on the front.)  Then for  combination borders and binding, I brought the fleece back around to the top, bottom, and both sides, and I zig-zagged it down from the front.  The non-raveling nature of fleece is wonderful!

Here's the completed quilt.  To get far enough away from it to take the whole thing, I had to sit up on my cutting table to take the photo.  This caused a bit of distortion, but still, you can get the general effect.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Back to California!

A busy, busy two week visit in California has begun!  School is out today, and then granddaughter Lia goes to a weeklong camp on Sunday.  Granddaddy and I have been running lots of errands for the family, so our days are lively and full.  I blogged nearly a year ago about Lia and Locke's FIRST day of school, and here it is, the last day!

A few pictures of our doings:

Lia at right with two friends, in front of their Science Fair project

Lia's good friend Kate (in pink) and Lia, at their tennis lesson
Locke's class is having a pajama party all day at school today.  Here he is showing what he hopes to do at school!

Eyes still closed, sleeping bag and pillow at the ready!  Locke is wearing
the dino slippers we gave him for Xmas!

Lia and several friends "to be different" decided to wear tutus
on this last day of school!  (Check out those gorgeous and huge
hydrangeas behind her!)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

CA Kids' Crib Quils

These are the crib quilts I made for Lia and Locke as newborns.  Lia's was always "used"; I had hoped it would become her "lovey" quilt, but instead, she bonded to a little pink blanket, her "Baa-Baa."  Her nursery was decorated with Paddington Bear motifs, and so I luckily found several different Paddington-themed fabrics.  This was only the 3rd or 4th quilt I ever made, and I came up with the design myself.  It was minimally and very simply straight-line machine quilted.  What I was most proud of was how Paddington in the lower left corner holds a kite string that I stitched in black to reach up to the kite in the middle row, which flies in the air above a Paddington who is taking his leisure! 

I loved the border fabric with the stripes and little Paddingtons!

Locke's crib quilt is below.  Kathy chose to use it as a wall hanging in his nursery, which had a "Transportation" theme.  For it I used a favorite Marsha McCloskey design, "Sawtooth Stars and Double Four-Patch." 

Some of the navy fabrics faded badly in this wall-hanging.  The one of the ships in the lower right double four patch and the upper left, second row.  Oddly, other dark blues didn't fade at all, nor did any of the other colors.  The sun is so intense here in California that fading has been a problem in this quilt and in the wedding quilt I made for Kathy and her husband.

I chiefly straight line machine quilted this quilt, but I hand quilted cloud-shapes in the outer border, to echo the clouds I used for the backing; see below. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I made all my children patriotic wall hangings after the tragic, life-changing events of September, 2001.  For daughter Kathy and her husband, since they had met and married in NYC, I made theirs from a fabric I just happened to have bought a few years before, of the New York skyline.  I reversed the fabric panel  on the bottom, so that it looks as if the skyline is a reflection.

Surrounding the panels, I inked the word PEACE in many different languages, altering the font as seemed appropriate.  The dove and the Latin inscriptions "In Terra Pax" seemed appropriate, too.

I worked these little quilts up so quickly that fall before Christmas that I failed to take photographs of the resulting quilts.  Recently I found this one in the guest room closet.  It formerly hung in the study, but after they had the study totally re-done with built-ins along 3 walls, wall space was at a  premium, and so this never got re-hung. 

Now, with beloved daughter Kathy gone from our lives, I am wondering if her husband would let me have this back?  If it's been relegated to a closet for a long time, why not?  I don't know if I have the courage to ask him, however.

Here are closer views. I quilted lightly, chiefly just around the major shapes in the panels and then did some "in the ditch" quilting.    I hand-blanket stitched around the dove.  Some close-ups:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hand-quilting the Alice Quilt

Last October in my quilt guild participants picked up the quilts that had been added to by another guild member.  Participants had several months before placed UFO's (unfinished objects, as in unfinished quilts) in a Trick or Treat bag; bags were then randomly chosen by other members.  We took another's UFO home with us to complete by the October meeting.

As it turned out, good friend Patty chose my bag, not knowing it was mine.  She did a fabulous jobs of completing the Alice in Wonderland panel to which I has simply added two plain borders.  Patty completed the quilt by adding two pieced borders and then three other plain one to make this quilt quite eye-catching.  I had included fabrics from my stash that I thought might work in the bag with the panel.

I am now hand quilting the center panel with perle cotton thread.  I plan to machine quilt all the borders in some very simple manner.  Then the quilt will be given to a great niece who turns one this summer.  Friend Linda was eager to see just how the hand-quilting was coming along, and so I am posting photos of it, still not finished, chiefly for her!

Here are the photos:
I used gray thread for the cat and tree trunk; green for the shrubbery and the leaves on the tree (more to be added later).
And then Alice is quilted with colors as described below the second photo.  Click to enlarge!

For Alice, yellow for her hair; blue for her dress; white
for her apron and collar,  
This is what the quilt looks like in its entirety.  I discussed this quilt
in a post in October of last year.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Busy Bees at the China Dolls Bee!

My quilting bee met over at my house today.  We gathered around 10:00, and the last one left around 4:00. All except the hostess got so much sewing/quilting done!  Several made tea cozies that turned out beautifully. Still others had different projects they wanted to spend time on.  I spent most of the morning cooking, and then while the others worked after lunch, I relaxed and visited.

Lynne's birthday is tomorrow, Valentine's Day, and I made her a fabric birthday card, which all signed, using pictures taken at previous bees.  The Cherry Pudding Cake was her "birthday cake", complete with a candle in the form of a question mark!        

All seemed to enjoy the two soups, and most sampled both--chicken noodle and Three Tomatoes, with smoky salmon spread and crackers.  When they first arrived, I had a fresh cranberry/orange/walnut bread with either butter or whipped cream cheese.  For dessert after the soups, I made Cherry Pudding Cake, which all seemed to enjoy.  I've linked three of these recipes--they are truly winners!

Now here are some pictures of the China Dolls at work:

Lynne with the birthday "cake" and her fabric card

Carol hand quilting

Priscella helping Dodie find something on her laptop, in my studio.
Notice that the Three Boys quilt is now hanging on the wall!

Sandy working on a black quilted jacket

Rita sewed the binding on this old quilt, which she had restored for an
in-law of her daughter.  A charming quilt!  Bow-tie pattern, with
a great variety of very old fabrics.

Priscella showing the tea cozy she finished today!  

Hilary showing off HER tea cozy!

Here's the lovely quilt which Carol was working on.  Hand-pieced, hand-appliqued, and hand quilted.  WOW!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Stole for DA!

DA is an affectionate nickname for our woman pastor. She grew up two doors down from us in our old neighborhood. Our youngest daughter and she have been good friends throughout the years.   Her parents remained dear friends of ours, too, and when we all had to leave the old street, her mom and I and another good friend looked for houses close to one another.  Eventually two of us built new houses and the other bought a just-completed house on our block.

DA has now been pastor of our church for ten years.  I have made her an anniversary gift, which will be presented at the surprise party for her tomorrow.  She needed a white stole; she'd been relying on a borrowed white one all these years.  I fashioned if from little 6" crazy quilt blocks, using white-on-white quilting fabric.  At the bottom, I appliqued a descending dove.  Doves are a symbol closely associated with our church.

Here is the completed stole:

And now, some close-up views of it:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Buddies in JANUARY!

Sharon's lovely living room

Last week our book club met at Sharon's house.  Before we sat down to eat a fantastic dessert (more about that later!), I happened to notice how lovely all of our purses and books looked, patiently waiting for us to join them!  In truth, several of us rearranged the books to display the fronts, but otherwise, this is how the living room looked right after all had arrived.  Sharon and Joe's house is so lovingly and serenely decorated.  Just being in their living room makes one feel at peace.

But the dessert!  It was beyond delicious, and so beautiful to look at.  I wish that I'd taken a photo of it, before Sharon and Judy served it to us.  It was a White Chocolate Bread Pudding.  If you want a copy of it, email me, and I'll send it to you!  When you see its ingredients, you will understand why it was so scrumptious.

Our discussion just might have been the best one ever!  We had read BODY SURFING by Anita Shreve.  For one thing, it did seem as if all had read ALL the book.  For another, most found the book easier to read than some we've chosen.  And, too, it was a provocative and "meaty" book for discussion.  Some of us (Judy, Genie, and Alice) have ready many Anita Shreve books.  I find them addictive!  I think more of our group will read more of her books after this experience. 

Here we all are, gathered around the dining table.  I'll post both pictures, as some of us look better in one, some in another!

Clockwise, from the left:  Faith, Alice, Rosemary, Genie, Sharon (standing), Jo, Ibby (standing),
Thelma, Mona, Judy.
Note the "sand castle" centerpiece!  So appropriate, given the
beach setting of our book, Anita Shreve's BODY SURFING

 Below, you see us as we discuss.  I seem to be making a point--find me in purple, and everyone is listening attentively.  To the far left is Genie, who did a wonderful job of leading discussion.  To my right is Jo, and to my left, Faith and Mona.  The heads you see belong to, I think (!)  Sharon, our hostess, and Thelma.