Engagement quilt/Christmas present for my brother and his fiancee – part 1

My brother R proposed to his fiancee M several months ago.  We are all over the moon about the engagement.  We love her and how happy she makes him.  I decided to make them a quilt as their engagement/Christmas present.  R’s favorite color is red and M’s favorite color is pink.  They met in law school and their school colors are green and white, so I decided to incorporate those four colors into the quilt.

I have a book of 500 quilt patches and I searched through it, looking for something that would give the illusion of two colors meshing together, if that makes sense, to represent their upcoming union.  I found something better: a quilt block called Steps to the Altar.  It was perfect, the right kind of imagery and the symbolism of the name. The block is a nine-patch.  Three of the patches are made of up four tiny squares.  The other six are made of half-triangles.

I used the instructions for the 12″ block. I wanted to make a king-sized quilt.  I have never made anything so large before.  I started cutting the pieces, dozens of tiny squares and triangles.  It seemed to take forever!   The four-square patches I made of alternating pink and red squares.  Four of the half-triangle patches were green and white, and two were either pink and white or red and white.  It was a lot of pieces.  In some cases I did my math wrong (no surprise; my quilt problems generally tend to be math issues) and I had to go back and cut more pieces.  Below are the four-square patches:IMG_7162 IMG_7160

I started to lay out my blocks.  Here are some samples:

IMG_7163 IMG_7164 IMG_7186 IMG_7187 IMG_7158 IMG_7157I changed the layouts several times,  The bottom two pictures didn’t last in that formation – I decided to use two green prints in each block, like the top three pictures.  Each block had two half-triangles in either red or pink and I arranged the center four-square patch so that the corners touching the red or pink half-triangle match that color (i.e. if the half-triangles are red, the four-square patch is oriented so that the red squares touch the half-triangle).  Then the other four-square patches were oriented the opposite way, so that the pink squares would touch the red squares.  I think the pictures make that far clearer than my explanation.  The design idea of that may have been unnecessarily convoluted – I probably could have had the four-square patches oriented every which way, or maybe consistently through each patch.  I probably made more work for myself in doing.  I tried not to repeat the red and pink prints too much in any one block, but it can’t be helped.  I had many many red and pink prints, but I also needed many many pieces and it basically wasn’t possible to not repeat prints.

Here are some assembled blocks:

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I laid the blocks out on my couch, which is really the only large surface I have – and even there I had to layer them in rows.  As such, I had trouble getting a picture of everything all laid out.  The top picture is probably the best one, and it doesn’t show all of the rows.  I suppose there are several ways you could lay out the blocks, but making large Xes and forming white squares seemed like the most logical option, and the most pleasant design.

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I sewed the blocks into pairs and then into fours to make Xes.  (See below.)  Then I sewed them into rows.


I realized when I was laying out the blocks that the number I’d made was not the number I’d thought I was going to make, or maybe I laid them out differently than I’d expected to. Somehow, though, I was a few blocks short.  I think I ended up wanting one extra row than I’d originally pictured (so that I would have three complete rows of Xes instead of two rows of complete Xes and one row of half an X.)  Rather than make several new blocks, I decided to use solids.  I cut six solid squares and used them in the top right and the bottom left corners.  The corner square in each is a white square.  I had just bought a beautiful green fabric that I used in each corner, as well, and then I used a pink square in one corner and a red square in another corner.

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I added strips of white fabric to make a border.

Next post: assembling the quilt!  I’m going to draw this out into three posts, I think, so the third post will cover the quilting.


Preview post! Upcoming 2013 projects

I have one more Christmas present to post about, which will be appearing at the end of the month, but I wanted to post a teaser.IMG_7426 cropped

Also, I’ve got several exciting projects that I’m currently working on.  I won’t post about them until they’re finished and they’ve been sent to their rightful recipients, but I want to whet your appetites for posts that will be bright and full of color and will cheer your dreary late winter and early spring days.  I’ve also got several ideas for projects for myself, which I can post about as I go.  I’ve been working on wall hangings for my apartment since the fall and haven’t gotten around to posting (or finishing, for that matter), and it’s high time I made myself a quilt.  All of those are on the schedule for the first half of 2013.

Wall hanging for a friend

Happy New Year!

Today’s post is about a wall hanging I made for my friend S.  Anlichan no longer holds the honor of being the only person who receives presents from me with religious imagery.  I wanted to make something special for S, something that would be meaningful for her, so I decided to make a wall hanging with a cross.  S really likes fall colors, so I picked golds and browns.  Apparently I made the distinction too subtle, as many people didn’t see the cross until it was pointed out to them.  I quilted three circles in shades of gold to represent the Holy Trinity.  I was going to use different stitches but instead I used a whipped stitch with different shades of thread.

My quilt guild had a Korean quilter and textile artist come speak to us about bojagi quilting.  A boyagi is a square cloth used to wrap things.  Boyagis are frequently pieced and quilted.  Google them and look at the cool pictures.  I was inspired by that and rather than making pieces of uniform size, I cut haphazardly and then arranged them to form small squares.  I made nine squares total, five gold (for the cross) and four brown.  I trimmed the jagged edges and made sure the squares were all the same size (six inches, I think) and sewed the squares together.

Pictures of the piecing process below.  I’m not sure I’ve explained my piecing process properly, but perhaps the pictures help.  (Probably not.)

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The nine squares, edges trimmed:


The nine blocks, assembled into a cross.


I made little loops of ribbon to serve as hangers.  I placed the top and the backing, right sides together, and pinned them and the loops in place, then sewed all the way around, leaving a space open to turn it right side out.  Then I pinned it flatted and used a soup bowl to trace the three circles, centered using the corners of the center square (give or take).  Lastly, I quilted and sewed up the opening at the bottom.

The finished piece:

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Fabulous all-purple quilt – part II

This week, the quilting on Aunt M’s quilt:

I quilted the spokes of the star by machine.  I outlined each one, quilting approx. a quarter inch from the edge of each piece.

I only seem to have taken one close-up picture of this quilting, and unfortunately it showcases the bunching at the center points.  I’m not great at lining up triangles and other seams.  I should have probably tried to iron the center flatter or at least pinned it better so that the bunching didn’t happen, but I didn’t.

It looks better on the back.

This shows the quilting on the whole star/pinwheel.

My sewing machine has a decorative scalloped stitch, which I decided to use on the inner border, the very pale purple.

I think it looks really pretty on the back.

As you can probably see, the scallops aren’t evenly sized.  It’s kind of difficult to control the movement of the quilt through the needle and the speed.  It’s easier if it’s just one piece of fabric instead of three layers.  People assured me that the variation looks intentional.

Having finished the machine quilting, I began the hand quilting.  I started with a fleur de lis.

The paper fleur de lis pattern I used



Next I did a treble clef.  Aunt M is very musical and sometimes still treats us to a little piano music.

I also quilted little musical notes, freehand.

I quilted concentric stars (can concentric be used to apply to non-circular objects? I’m not sure but I shall use it here):

I’ve always wanted to try sashiko quilting.  I think it’s such a pretty style.  I’ve never tried it before, but I had printed out a pattern that looked like it would adapt well to sashiko – and because I could draft it myself without too much difficulty.

The pattern I drafted on paper and then drew onto the quilt with pencil

The completed sashiko quilting

I’m really proud of it.  It’s not traditional sashiko, I don’t think.  I just adapted the technique as best I could.

Last but not least, I quilted all of our initials into the quilt.  I quilted Aunt M’s initials and her husband and children’s initials on larger squares, and then the rest of us got squeezed onto smaller patches of solid fabric.   Below is a selection:

Aunt M’s patch – she got a little heart, too

I made a quilt tag, which I’ve never done.  I used a fabric pen and wrote the date of Aunt M’s birthday, her name, and my name, then I hand-appliqued the patch to the back.  (I actually did this before I’d sewn the three layers of the quilt together, but I forgot about it when I made the first post two weeks ago.

I gave Aunt M the quilt for her birthday and insisted that she use it and not simply display it somewhere.  I made it for her to use it.  🙂

The finished quilt