Friday, February 28, 2014

What’s your favorite all-over quilting design?

Mine is meandering feathers. I love to quilt meandering feathers. I’ve never learned to use pantographs for edge to edge quilting, as that just doesn’t appeal to me, and I don’t think I’m coordinated enough to do it.  I do them both on my longarm quilting machine and on my domestic sewing machine.

 I first learned about them in Suzanne Earley’s book, Meandering Magic.  (It looks like the book is out of print but can be downloaded.)  Meandering Feathers is an allover design that can be done in many variations, goes quickly, but looks like you spent a lot of time on it.  This is a quilt I recently did for a customer, and I think the meandering feathers very nicely add texture to the quilt. 
It’s an easy design to quilt.  Just start out with a large meander for the spine.

Then go back and “feather” both sides of the spine as you would for a feather in a border.

The quilting is more visible from the back.

If you've never tried meandering feathers, try them on your next quilt.  They can be an allover design or used in the background as I've done in Celtic Vee:

Give Meandering Feathers a try, and let me know how it works for you.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Most Unusual Quilt Request

Over the years, I‘ve made a lot of custom quilts, but this is the first one I have ever made for a funeral home!  One of the local funeral homes (Hitesman-Holdship Funeral Home in Cadillac, MI) recently asked me to make a quilt for a cot that they sometimes use to pick up someone who has died at home.  They had seen some in a catalog, but wanted a locally made one.  Due to the size required, the blocks needed to be 10”.  So I searched my block references, and came upon Great Lakes Log Cabin (after all, Michigan is a Great Lakes State) by Judy Martin, in her book, TheBlock Book.  With Judy’s permission, I proceeded to present a test block to the funeral home manager.  He liked it, made some color suggestions, and I was off and running.

The cot is only 20" wide, and they wanted a 10" drop, so a 10" block  was a perfect fit.  Great Lakes Log Cabin is not a difficult block to piece, but it needs to be laid out first so that you get the colors in the right order.  I chose to use several different fabrics for each color in the quilt : red, blue, and gold.  They requested that the colors be muted rather than bright.  I cut all the log strips first and set them aside, then the star points.  Instead of making one block at a time, I pieced all the center Sawtooth Stars first.

 The sides of the larger stars are made of two fabrics.  It was easier and more accurate to sew two strips together and cut triangles.
I chose fabrics that were similar in value so that I could reverse the order, thus being able to use the entire strip, and have no waste.

Log Cabin blocks have multiple options for settings, as any quilter who has ever made one knows.  I gave him only two options, a Straight Furrow or a Barn Raising.  He chose the latter.

Note the last row with only two blocks.  They will be sewn to the side blocks to form corners.

Due to the small size of the patches and the number in each block, the quilt is pretty busy, so I chose to simply do meander quilting in a neutral tan thread.   It's a little hard to see the quilting here, but it just gave a nice overall texture.

The unique part of this quilt is that it needed to have two corners boxed.  I did that by only putting two blocks in the last row, instead of four, and stitching them together along one side to make the boxed corner.  This was done after the quilting, as the quilt needed to be flat on the machine. 

To cover the raw edges of the seams, I cut a piece of the backing fabric 1 ¼” wide and sewed one side of it right into the seam.  After that, I machine stitched the other side to make a binding over the seam.

  The boxed corner did not create a problem with binding, as when opened out, it formed a straight line around the edge.

The finished quilt was a hit with them!  They feel that being able to cover the deceased person with a quilt gives a more  warm and caring alternative.  We know that quilts speak to the emotions, and having your loved one covered with a quilt can be comforting in a painful situation.


When I delivered the quilt, they thought they ought to have a pillow to go with it.  I had made the same block in a larger (15”) size as a sample to show them at the outset, so I said it would be no problem to turn that into a pillow.

What is the most unusual quilt you have ever made?