Blog tags

I want to make the blog more reader-friendly, and I realized that tags are a good way to do this.  I’ve gone through all of my posts and added tags based on various themes. I’ll tag this post with all of them so you can more easily find anything you’re interested in, and my goal is to be more conscientious about tagging in the future.

In the course of doing all my tags, I realized that I posted twice about the Storm at Sea runner I made my parents, once in 2011 and again last December during my Advent posts.  Perhaps if I’d had a better tagging system I would have remembered that I’d done it before!  It was fun to go back and look at the old posts – I’d forgotten what some of the blocks were called and I had to read the posts to see which quilt I was writing about.  Most of my pre-blog quilts are on here, although I know of at least four that aren’t.  Perhaps those will be fodder for Advent 2014!

The tags fall into several categories: block type, type of item if it’s not a quilt, language if I was quilting in something other than English, etc.   The blocks I have thus far are as follows:

Drunkard’s Path – Storm at Sea – Hunter’s Star – Lone Star – hexagons – pinwheels – Steps to the Altar – Rail Fence -Windowpane – Log Cabin – “Elegance” fan block – Korean patchwork – Amish Square – Bow Tie block

If you happen to notice that I have the wrong name for a block or if there’s another name for it, please let me know!  In one case – the wedding quilt I made for my friend N last year – I’m not sure if there is a name for this kind of quilt.  (  If there is a name, please share it with me.

I made a tag for doll quilts, since I make so many of them, and if I used a particular block I tagged that as well.  I may have missed some, so leave a comment if you notice that a block went untagged.

Tags for non-quilts include, in no particular order: pot holders; kitchen/household; holiday; decor; pillows; napkins; clothing; ornaments; aprons.

I’d forgotten how many pillows I’d made, for example.  Kitchen/household covers pot holders, napkins, and aprons; aprons fall under clothing, too.  Decor includes pillows, runners, and wall hangings, but runners and wall hangings don’t have separate tags.  Holiday includes ornaments and stockings, the latter of which also don’t have a separate tag.  If you think it would be helpful for me to make a runners tag or a wall hangings tag or a stockings tag, let me know.  If you see anything I haven’t tagged that you think I should – a quilting design or a specific stitch or whatever – just leave me a comment.

Hopefully this way my blog will be much easier to navigate.  I like to read other quilters’ blogs and I’ve learned not just from what other people are making but from how they’re blogging about it.  Tagging struck me as a relatively easy way to be more accessible.  This is for you, so feel free to give me your input.  If you want a “wedding” tag or a “birthday” tag or some other category that you think would be useful, I want to know about it.



Baby quilt for my friend N

This was my first baby quilt in quite a while.  My friend N had a baby boy back in December, but I was so busy working on the Christmas/engagement quilt for my brother and his fiancee that I didn’t get a chance to start on N’s baby quilt until January.  N’s family is Pakistani and when I thought about what I wanted the quilt to look like, I thought about my book about the history of global quilting traditions, “Quilts Around the World.”  I have used it before, when I made the quilt for my cousin T and her husband, the people who had given me the book, and I turned to it again for inspiration.  It has samples of Pakistani patchwork, which is very geometric, and I liked that. I decided I wanted to use green – something like forest green.  I had a solid rectangle of green.  I decided to make a border of white and black triangles.  I don’t use a lot of solids in my quilts, but I made this entire quilt out of solids.  It doesn’t look anything like my usual quilts but it’s beautiful!

I added another solid green border.  The quilt top was still smaller than I wanted, so I decided to add a third border of black and white stripes.  I cut long strips of the black and white fabrics.  Each strip was 2 inches wide.  I sewed the strips together, alternating black and white.  I ironed the seams flat and then I cut perpendicular two inch wide strips, thus creating black and white stripes.

The strips remind me of Beetlejuice (the cartoon/movie), but I think they look really good edging the forest green.

Next step: the quilting

I used my machine to quilt the triangles.  I sewed triangles in the center of each triangle – white thread on the black triangles and black thread on the white triangles.  See the triangles traced below:

I also sewed lines on the green  fabric – a white line on the outer border and two rectangles, one with white thread and one with black, in the center rectangles.  I made the mistake of not tracing the white line I quilted on the green border, so that one came out a little wavy.  Moral of the story: Always trace before you quilt!  (Unless you’re doing crazy/random quilting and it doesn’t matter, of course.)  The white quilting on the black triangles shows up really well in the picture below, but unfortunately the black quilting on the white triangles is only visible if you look really closely.

Here’s the back.  I used green fleece for it.

I hand-quilted the baby’s name in Arabic in the center.  I have to thank my friend M’s dad and/or uncle for writing out the Arabic calligraphy for me, so it would look prettier than if I drew it myself.

I used white thread to do sashiko-style quilting (I can’t guarantee that it’s actual sashiko quilting so I won’t claim that) and created a pretty geometric pattern on the sides of the rectangle.  I drew the lines 1.5 inches apart.

In the future, I will not use fleece for anything that involves hand quilting.  It was difficult to pull the knots of the thread through the fleece.  In some cases I had to pull the knot through the top fabric instead of through the back, the way I normally would.  I used fleece because it saves a layer of batting, but it added more aggravation when it came to the quilting.  I had considered quilting the Arabic alphabet in the triangles, but I decided against it because hand quilting with the fleece was so much extra work.

I was really pleased with the way it came out.  I think I need to start incorporating more solid fabrics into my quilt.  The geometric patterns are so striking.  I sent it several months late, but I’m sure N will forgive me.

Here’s the finished quilt:

My first quilt

I had originally intended to make today’s post about Spry’s wedding present, except it’s not done and I don’t want to put it up until I’ve given it to her.  Then I intended to post about one of my little side projects, but as I was in the shower I realized that today is the anniversary of my friend F’s death.  I made my first ever quilt for her mom.

F was a friend from college.  I don’t know if the other girls knew her, but if they didn’t I wish they had.  She was such a sweet, loving, giving person.  She died in a car accident several years ago. I’d never lost someone who wasn’t old before.  I was only working part time that summer and I didn’t have much to distract me from my grief.  I would wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning for no reason, with nothing to do until nine.  I baked a cherry pie from scratch the week after she died because I was straining to find ways to fill my time.  One day I decided that I would make a quilt to give to F’s mom as a memento.  I don’t know why I decided I should make a quilt.  I could sew, of course, but I’d never completed any project more ambitious than pillows, and I didn’t have a good sense of what quilting itself – not the piecing, but sewing the layers together – really entailed.  I have a history of decided that something I haven’t tried yet “can’t be that hard” and then being too stubborn to quit even when it does, indeed, prove to be that hard.  I ended up with one of my college majors that way.

I researched quilt blocks online and picked a pinwheel.  It looked relatively simple, although I suspect I should have chosen something else.  I spent the summer acquiring fabrics and cutting them by hand, with scissors.  My parents gave me a sewing machine for my birthday.  It’s so long ago I barely remember the process, only that I spent far too much time acquiring fabric and far too little sewing because I was busy with grad classes by the time I got my sewing machine.

It was a difficult semester.  Classes were overwhelming.  I was also helping with the memorial for F that we held on campus.  I was miserable for a lot of reasons.  The quilt may have added to my worries, but it was the project I needed, something into which I could channel my energy and my sorrow.  I thought of her, piecing together each colorful pinwheel- not knowing or remembering F’s favorite color, I chose bright prints instead.  She had always worn brightly colored hijabs and I wanted the quilt to remind everyone who saw it of her sunny personality and penchant for bright colors.  I wanted it to be like her.  The outsides of the hexagonal patches are in cool colors, purples, blues, and greens.  The pinwheels are in warm colors, yellows, oranges, and pinks.  All of the prints were whimsical and bright.  I keep using bright – I suppose I ought to come up with a synonym, but I won’t bother.  Like all of my quilts, it’s very busy.  I like to use a lot of prints.

I appliqued her name and the words “She will remain in our hearts” in Arabic.  I got scolded by one of my professors because my friend M’s Persian uncle had written out the script for me and he’d left a couple of dots off of F’s name that wouldn’t be there in Persian but should be there in Arabic.

I photocopied the calligraphy as he’d written in out, then cut out the words and pinned them to the fabric I wanted to use.  I traced along the edges and then cut each word.  I didn’t know how to finish the edges so I treated then with clear nail polish and then appliqued them with a straight stitch.  I now know that this is definitely not the way to applique something, but back then I had no idea.

I didn’t actually know anything about quilting, as I’d said.  I had a book – I think our friend A gave it to me for my birthday.  It talked about different techniques and I chose tying.  I’m sure I didn’t do it very well.  I remember only that I was rushing to get the quilt done.

We featured the quilt at the memorial service for F.  Everyone was sworn to secrecy, as I wanted to surprise her mother with it.  I mailed it to her just in time for an Islamic holiday – either Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha.  I can’t remember which; it would have been a couple months’ difference.  I think I wanted to get it to her for Ramadan but didn’t manage, so it was probably Eid al-Adha.

I can’t believe she’s been gone so long.  In some ways, it seems like it’s been forever, but in other ways it doesn’t seem possible that I haven’t seen her in years.  The quilt was my tribute to her, the only thing I could think to give to her mother, to show her how beloved F was and how much joy she brought into other people’s lives.  The words are as true for me today as they were then.  I think about her every day and I pray for her every day.  I know she’s in heaven.  الله يرحمها

Sorry the Arabic is sideways; I don’t know how to fix that so I’m just going to leave it.