remember that quilt?

I pieced the top in January. Fast forward to April, when I pieced a back and basted it together with the batting.  Now it is September!

I have quilted it. Yes- I was very nervous. I did not want to do that thread knot quilting method- (whatever the real name is, I don’t know) like I did on this one. I knew I did not want to hand-quilt another full size quilt. I wanted to finish this before  another 20 years had elapsed. And yes, I could have sent it out, but really, I am too cheap. And, I wondered if I would be able to let it go enough to accept what someone else did with the quilting. So what method did I use? I cut it into pieces that I could manage with my sewing machine, quilted them, and have sewn it back together. That took a lot of nerve and I’ve been talking myself into it for the past 5 months!

Here it is, in 4 pieces. Two pieces that are the middle section and two pieces that are the sides.

I slit the seams on the front, but had to cut through the fabric on the back. And, I pretty much had to rearrange my whole studio. That wasn’t a bad thing though- one of my post-Renegade Market resolutions was that I needed to do a major clean in there. In the above photo, all the pieces are already quilted and I am ready to start the sew them back together process.

Here, I am sewing the 2 middle pieces together. My plastic folding table (behind my machine in this pic) proved to be very useful. I move it to wherever I need some quilt weight-bearing.

Now the table is on the other side of the machine. I am getting ready to sew the backing together along the cut line. Yes, I lost about 1 inch in total quilt size for each of the cuts.

Here is stitching the backing together. I have pinned back the batting and the top fabric.

I did the top finishing seam by overlapping the pieces and carefully sewing down, as close to the edge as possible. My walking foot was invaluable. I could never have done this project without it. I know this because I started without it- since I don’t do much quilting, I don’t even think about it. So, I started and was unhappy and frustrated with the results I was getting- within about 3 minutes. Queue lightbulb over my head!

Here we are, all sewed back together and ready to trim off the excess batting and even out the edges.

Now, on to the finish. And here I want to mention the power of stopping a project when you are tired. Last night I got the quilt trimmed, pulled out my bins of fabric with something in mind for the edging. I found it, cut out 30 feet of bias strips, sewed them together and ironed them. Then I went to bed. At some point in the early morning I got the message (weird, huh?) that I had made a very off choice. All wrong. This morning, back to the bins with a clearer vision. I am back on track and have spent the morning moving forward. Hurray!


I’ve been working on basting the quilt together. It progresses slowly. I have an idea now for how I’m going to quilt it. But, on the basting- I collected all of my almost empty spools of thread and some random bobbins with thread but no sewing machine to use them in, and used that to baste the quilt. It is so satisfying to be finishing up all those last little bits of thread!

My desk, this afternoon-

And today we had our Patriots’ Day parade. This is Mass Ave in Arlington, about a half hour before the parade started. Sort of eerie.

And this group made me laugh-

Hope you had a great weekend!

the quilt

I’m working on the quilt- see resolutions here.


The quilt has a Japanese motif. I gave Peter several choices for what kind of quilt he’d like- the only 2 I can remember are wool or choosing fabrics from my collection of Japanese cloths. I have a lot of Japanese cloth. Some of it come from my Mom’s collection, some I have collected over the years. There are the fabrics for gift wrapping and loosely woven fabric “towels”. (I know they have official Japanese names, but I don’t know what they are.) There was a roll of cotton fabric that my Mom bought on one of her visits to Japan.

Peter picked out what he liked and I added some other fabrics (with his approval) for color and connecting. We worked on arranging them on the floor of the attic. Then he left and I got to work on other things… all fall. I think the hardest part of making the quilt is me getting started on it!


I am not set up to work on something this scale. I am making a full size quilt- approx 6ft x 7ft.  I was okay with the center panel- I made myself enough studio floor space that I could look at it. But this morning, when I need to expand out from the center, I spread out on my bed. That green in the upper right-hand corner is my blanket and not part of the quilt.


The one fabric that Peter choose that is not Japanese is that circle fish fabric. It is a batik that my Mom bought for me when I was in High School- so probably 1970 or so? I loved it so much that I never made anything out of it. I hung it on the wall for a while in college. I think I might finally be getting over that craziness of not using my favorite things- seems silly now.

The top is now finished. I am very nervous about the next step. I am considering having someone else do the quilting because I am worried about making a big mess of it. And, frankly, I don’t think I’d enjoy doing it. I know I don’t want to hand quilt, so I’m talking about machine quilting. Any thoughts on this?

wing it quilt tutorial

This quilt is made out of old wool shirts. I had 8 plaids in different color schemes. Red and green predominated. I love color and when I am doing non-figurative art, I tend to do color studies. The idea here is green to red to green again. I first used this way of designing a quilt 30 years ago when I made this one. (blues, dark to light and back again) When I posted about it last year, I couldn’t remember how I did it, but somehow it all trickled back since then.

I am not an expert quilter. I have never progressed beyond squares or rectangles. This is a very easy and, I think, non-scary way to approach patchwork. Careful measuring, cutting and/or piecing is not required. This is one of those “wing it” projects.

The photos are mostly underexposed so you can see the different fabrics, even though they are dark.

1. Make a template. Mine is 12 inches by 24 inches and made by taping 2 pieces of 12 x 18 inches of paper together. It can be any size but take into consideration what size fabric scraps you have and what size quilt you want to make.

2. I cut up my shirts, trying to get any piece of undamaged fabric that was at least 13 inches in one direction.

3. I piled them up by plaid and arranged them in order from most red to most green.

4. Then I laid them out in order on my template,

5. sewed them together, and

6. ironed them flat.

7. I trimmed each block so the sides were straight across

and 8. when eight were done, laid them out on the floor and played with the arrangement.

9. I sewed the blocks together- first matching the red centers and then sewed the four strips together lengthwise. Iron everything.

Now your top is done! Here is the rest of what I did to finish it-

10. Here is the top laid out on an old blanket that I used instead of batting.

11. Here is the back- I used the biggest pieces that I had and put them together with the least amount of sewing and thinking that I could manage.

12. And now, here are the three layers quilted together and ready for a binding. I hand-quilted the layers together because I never could have managed it on my sewing machine. The edge is basted together at this point.

13. I folded over that part over on the right side of the above photo to make the binding on one side… since it was so conveniently just the right size!

14. I cut bias strips from the last of the shirt backs that I had and used them to bind up the 3 other sides. And here is another photo of it finished!

Let me know if I left out any important information or steps and I will edit this tutorial.

the last present is finished

It is another lap blanket for our cold house. This one is made of Ben’s old Pendleton shirts- which, of course, I could never throw away. They are all wool.

When I pulled them out of the closet, there were 9 of them in 8 plaids. They were discarded because of moths and worn elbows and various other issues that I needed to be aware of while I cut out the pieces.

I was going to use a pieces of plain wool fabric for the back but couldn’t find anything in my stash that seemed like a good match. Instead, I used large pieces of what I had left- which was still quite a bit! Most of the big pieces were from the backs of the shirts and were in excellent condition.

It is a 3 layer quilt- I used an old wool blanket for a batting and it is very heavy. I’m not sure how functional it is going to be but we’ll see. I did the minimal quilting by hand. I sewed 2 of the labels into the corners of the back. I have 7 more and thought about sewing them randomly all over the back but I controlled myself.

I made this quilt the same way I did this one. I am going to do another post about how it all went together- I remembered to take the pictures!