Tag: Baby Quilt

More Twist-and-Turn Bargello Quilts Book Review

Bargello Designs

Eileen Wright’s More Twist-and-Turn Bargello Quilts offers ten new projects for quilters to try. This How-To book was a Christmas gift. And quite possibly a hint.

Bargello quilts look complicated and are quite daunting. The optical illusion of curved lines creates beautiful works of art. Previously, I have been quite drawn to them in museums and exhibits. But too unsure of the skills required to attempt one.

Challenge from Offspring

Fortunately, my youngest believed in me enough to gift me this book. So, I decided to try the crib quilt pattern as a test. One week later, I am hooked. Wright gives very detailed instructions and if one pays attention, it is smooth sailing.

The first dozen pages give background instruction. This includes the tools needed as well as hints on fabric selection. Furthermore, a critical part of designing Bargello quilts is the color gradation. Knowledge of the color wheel is important. Fortunately, working with color is one of my strengths.

Precise instructions pertaining to all the patterns in the book complete the introductory pages. This information included creating a fabric map. In past quilts such as the Trip Around the World quilts, I indicated my fabric choices on note charts. However, there are definite advantages to using a fabric map. A fabric map consists of scraps of each fabric. So, I affixed my scraps to felt and referred to the placement numerous times. This was an improvement over my former technique.

Additionally, Wright is adamant in her pressing directions. Each seem needed ironing in a particular direction. Furthermore, the timing of the presses was also stressed. I followed her directions to press immediately after each seam. I truly believe the detailed attention to the seam allowances was necessary.

Specific Directions for Wright’s Bargello Designs

A natural choice to practice this new skill set on was the Bargello for Baby. Small in size, the quilt only needed ten fabrics to flow together. The difficulty of blending fabrics is increased with each additional textile.

Key points the author stressed in addition to pressing was the need for exactness in cutting, stitching at a smaller length such as 2 mm and maintaining a scant ¼ inch seam. Adhering to those instructions yielded a beautiful quilt.

My comfort zone was again challenged by the no pin method Wright uses in piecing the strips together. She uses the term “nesting.” If the pressing direction is followed, the two fabrics line up beautifully. However, it is important to pay attention to the sewing and act with deliberation. This is not a pattern to zip through the seams.

Recommendation for More Twist-and-Turn Bargello Quilts

I loved this How-To quilt book. Even beginning quilters can succeed with this guide. But one must pay attention to the instructions. Wright includes website information for additional tips which can be downloaded at ShopMartingale.com/HowtoQuilt . For example, if the quilter needs help with sandwiching or quilting, the website has a link. Now after completing my first Bargello quilt I encourage any quilter to try. This wonderful publication will make the process smooth. Enjoy the slide show.

Bargello for Baby

More Twist-and-Turn Bargello Quilts book cover with green bargello quilt design

January 2023 Wrap-Up

Seasonal Weather

The month of January 2023 was cold and snowy. Since this part of the world is in a moderate drought, the moisture was welcome. However, the single digit and below zero temperatures can disappear at any time without any concern from me. Naturally, January 2023 was spent indoors.

Time was split between reading, writing and quilting. Additionally, a few seeds were started. There is always something to occupy the hours of the day.

January 2023 In the Library

A wide range of books were read this month. Three entertaining novels were reviewed, Elevator Pitch, The Escape Artist and Remarkably Bright Creatures. All were enjoyed. Non-fiction books included works discussed in the post Time to Plan the Garden and The Complete Runner’s Handbook by Glover and Glover. Next on the TBR list is Brain Saver Protocols Cleanses & Recipes.

Quilt Room Action

Baby Quilt in browns and teals
Ready for the hand-quilting.

A quilt for the youngest in the family is now at the hand quilting stage. Another baby quilt, this one for his cousin-to-be on his Dad’s side of the family has been cut out and the sewing will commence this week. But that is not all of the activity going on in the quilt room.

I have finally reached this important room for decluttering. Truth be told, not much can be tossed. But a lot of organization is needed. This last day of January 2023 saw the beginning of separating the fabrics into color categories loosely following The Home Edit guidelines of ROY G BIV. I have also turned the stack fabrics on their sides giving a better view of the patterns. The fabric arrangement will continue into February. Then I can start on the hobby cabinets.

Seed Starting

The first seeds were started in January 2023. Most were brassicas. Kale and cabbages have already emerged. Two of the peanuts have sprouted as well. The former plants can be placed outside while the temperatures still fluctuate below freezing. The peanuts will grow inside until June. Three artichokes were planted but no signs of any life yet.

Fortunately, it is a long way off before outdoor work dominates the schedule. Plenty of time for seeds to sprout and seedlings to grow.

The Creative Process

Adapting Patterns

Artists, writers, crafters, architects and designers are alike in that each employ the creative process in their work. Many books have been written on left brain/right brain thinking processes. And most attribute the right brain to creativity. Thus, the left brain is relegated to the “boring” stuff. Like math.

However, as a quilter, I know you need both sides of the brain. Especially if creating a new design or adapting an existing pattern created by someone else. Such is the case with my current quilt project.

Recently, I found a quilt that looks perfect for the newest baby in the family. The discovery occurred while searching through my quilt books and old magazines. The little guy is almost six months old and still trying to catch up…preemies take a bit longer to develop. Since he is finally doing a bit more than eating, sleeping, and well you know-he needs a quilt to play on.

But the quilt in the magazine is bigger than desired and the companion infant quilt is not what I want. So, alterations need to be made. Cue left brain action!

Math and Quilting

Long ago when learning fractions, someone in class asked why? What is important about partial numbers? I don’t remember the exact answer, yet I am sure quilt design was not included. It should have been.

Quilters normally use quarter inches as seam allowances as opposed to the 5/8ths used by clothes designers and seamstresses. Of course, the quarter inch applies to all sides. So, blocks are actually a half inch bigger at the cutting stage.

Things get quite complicated at times. Such is the case with my adaptation of Family Tradition from McCall’s Quilting Vintage Quilts Spring 2014 edition. (In turn, the pattern was originally published as Easy Breezy in their Fall 2001 release.)

The finished size as published is 71” by 77 ¼” which is much bigger than I want. Therefore, mathematical adjustments need to be made before the creative process can take over. Cutting the size down by half would make the resulting quilt smaller than I want.

Since I like baby quilts to equal the width of standard fabric, I need a width at or below 44 inches. So, reducing the size by a third was also out of the question. Complicating things further, the original squares called for 3 5/8” (the laptop doesn’t even recognize this fraction!)

Creative Process-More Than Art

The creative process includes thinking outside the box. Therefore, I counted the squares on the top border and divided the number into the desired finished width. A slight adjustment was made, dropping the measurement to the next lowest eighth of an inch. Then, the seam allowances were added back in.

Next, I adjusted the width of the inner borders and made multiple calculations. I decreased the 6 ¾” (with allowances) to 4 ¼” and recalculated the length based on the nine patch squares. As you can see in the photo, the measurements were spot on.

The hardest equation involved the right-angle triangles in the corners. Basic algebra and a scientific calculator helped. I hope my math will be correct when I reach that point. The hypotenuse is known and the base and perpendicular sides are equal, so I divided the hypotenuse by the square root of 2. Tweaking will need to be done since again the number is not a nice fraction. And the seam allowances can’t be forgotten.

Design with Color and Direction

The magazine depicts the quilt with a lot of pastels. The little guy will receive a version with earth tones sparked with vibrant teals and greens. My inspiration is more of ocean meeting land and rugged rocks. The nine patches in the middle have the same brown. Since the brown has directional lines of gold, red and teal, placement was intentional. My creative process requires a certain structure in the design. I like a top and bottom and consistent direction when possible.

Two additional fabrics complete the center square. Although both feature greens, they differ in tone and style. One is a child print, a traditional green plaid background with sail boats, fire trucks and the like. The other is a pebbly abstract in various shades of teal. Both complement the brown.

My last decision will involve whether or not to include a top and bottom single row border as designed. Or I can leave the quilt as a square within a square. So many decisions in the creative process!

Quilt in browns and teals with four nine patches in center, solid inner border and pieced block outer border.
Quilt in Progress

November 2022 Wrap-Up

Away From Home

November 2022 entailed traveling through thirteen states. But most of the time was spent in Kentucky and Florida. Overnight stops included the states of Missouri, Louisiana and Texas. All in places familiar to me as part of my “Travel Safety” mindset. Not all of the travel was alone. I had company for the better part of the trip.

However, I am looking forward to staying put in December. Hopefully all the kids will make it home for Christmas. This will be the first holiday gathering since the pandemic began. During the pandemic we gathered twice- for a memorial service and a wedding. A familiar theme for writers.

Hobbies on the Road

Completed Stocking

As a quilter, I often travel with a small quilt in the final stage-the hand quilting. This is true of this trip. All that remains is the binding.

However, for this trip I also brought a Bucilla stocking. The extended stay in Central Florida allowed me time to start and complete the cute snowman for the newest member of the family. I think the stocking will be loved.

Keeping track of craft items while traveling can be tricky. For this November 2022 trip I kept the two projects in the same tote bag. Large enough to carry both items and small enough to carry into hotel rooms at night. Both the quilt and the stocking may have small monetary value, but each is priceless.

November 2022 In the Library

Travel also gives me great opportunity to read. Four books were reviewed in November 2022. (Click on each title for the individual review: The Displacements, Thank You For Listening, The Last Thing He Told Me, Love Marriage.) And another completed and still another currently in the reading stage. Plus, numerous children’s books are ready for gifting. They deserve a review as well.

Weeding in a Garden

November 2022 included weeding in a garden. A Florida garden, the warmer climate allowing work in this late fall month. As one ages, it is difficult to keep up with the yardwork. And that is if one is actually inclined. In my dad’s case, he prefers the jungle look. All I can think is… a habitat for snakes. So, a backyard jungle has gone through a partial transformation.

But the majority of the work took place in the front of the house. Wandering vines were removed, pine needles swept and accrued sand removed from the driveway. Now he has a safe path to the mailbox. Plus, the communal sidewalk is clear for the neighbors to traverse.

Of course, the hurricane was responsible for the twigs and small branches littering the lawn. Mother Nature contributed to the wild appearance.

Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving was small but very nice. Spending time with family is important to me. A focus on togetherness has always made the day special. The lovely Florida weather was an added benefit. So, even though Thanksgiving was early, the day helped set the tone for an upbeat end to November 2022.

February 2022 Wrap-Up

Short Month

The shortest month of the year often gets away from me and February 2022 is no exception. Quilting was the focus for much of the month. But I read quite a few books were as well.

The super cool air has kept me from starting seeds. Many nights the temperature dropped below zero degrees Fahrenheit. A check on the ground indicates a freeze point just a few inches below the surface. So, I will wait another week before starting seeds.

Political events on the international level are the center of attention. Since I only watched one night of the Olympics,  most memories of a united world competition were wiped out. Instead, the tensions abroad are on stage. How quickly events can change one’s thoughts!

February 2022 in the Hobby Room

February 2022 featured hours in the hobby room. Because, hand quilting takes a considerable amount of time. If I owned a long arm machine, projects would be completed much faster. But, I do enjoy the hand quilting in small spurts.

The queen size quilt just completed took a lot of small spurts. Since this is a wedding present, I spent much care. The lines of quilting are in long rows. Furthermore, the binding is included in the backing. quilt showing backing, binding and topI think it will be treasured forever.

A crib quilt is now layered and the stitching will commence. I created the pattern myself and love how the colors blend together. Since the youngster has an engineer and an architect for parents, the trig calculations on the white background will be appreciated.

The fabric prints shift along the diagonal.  First, the upper half is baby-themed. Then the quilt transitions to teenage themed. Thus extending the use of the quilt. However, as the little one grows, it will most likely transition to a lap quilt.

Finally, the third quilt has the borders pieced. Now I need to calculate the length and width measurements required of the panel center. A seam allowance must be taken into account. Another key factor is which of the borders I attach first, sides or top and bottom.

Busy Reading Month

February 2022 provided plenty of time for reading as the weather was typical-cold. I am still trying to alternate between fiction and non-fiction. The Angry Earth became a DNF (Did Not Finish) as the length overcame my attention span. The work is well written and I took away quite a bit from the sections I did read.

I very much enjoyed both fictional novels finished this month. Janet Evanovich is a favorite and I enjoyed new to me author Kate Atkinson. Both authors will remain on my radar.

War

War Rattles over NATO Inclusion did not receive much attention when first published on February 12, 2022. I can understand the lack of “likes” as war is not something to promote. But I was surprised at how few people read the post. Perhaps world interest lags mine.

Unfortunately, the war rattles are now front and center on all news outlets. Furthermore, the topic is now critical. My hope is that a global war is avoided.

There are many novels covering clashes of political ideals. Two authors in this genre I have reviewed are Helen MacInnes and David Baldacci. Both worth reading. In a world of gray, good versus evil does exist. The conflict in real life is daunting. Now all eyes are glued to Russia and the Ukraine.

Queen size quilt in browns, cream and blue
Queen size quilt, hand quilted
Baby's quilt in reds, blues, golds, and whites
Farm animal panel quilt with border of yellows and purples

February 2021 Wrap-Up

February 2021 is one for the history books. Brutal, record setting cold pushed past the High Plains on its way south towards the border of the U.S.A. and Mexico. Fortunately, our part of the country expects sub-zero temperatures from time to time. So, we escaped the disaster that befell many of the southern states.

But we did not escape the cold! The official low temperature for the month in our little town was a negative 28 Fahrenheit. At our place, the outdoor thermometer hit a temperature just shy of that. We were very thankful our power remained on. Needless to say, indoor activities ruled February.

Reading Through the Cold Snap

Much of February 2021 passed by while reading by the fire. In addition to Spin and Cleaning Sucks, I re-read several Janet Evanovich books. They bring needed laughter. I also read a delightful YA novel, Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer and a thought provoking economic release by James Rickards, The New Great Depression. Both will appear as reviews in March.

February 2021 Garden Prep

It is never too cold to think of the garden. In early February 2021, peanuts were started. I did not soak them overnight, but just for a few hours. This was a mistake. Only three of the two dozen have sprouted. This will be remedied.

Other seeds started include cauliflower, at a fifty percent germination rate; celery, kale, cabbage, and iceberg lettuce. The lettuce has a 100% germination. These cold weather crops should be big enough to transplant by early April. If not sooner.

Our last average freeze date is May 15, although later freezes and even snows are not unusual. Thus, transplants are an important part of gardening. Due to the severe cold, I doubt my hoop experiment will yield any success. So, my plans for a greenhouse-garden house are moving forward.

Quilts and More Quilts

Another advantage of cold weather is the time available for quilting. February marked the completion of two baby quilts with a doll quilt thrown in. I am down to just three UFO’s. I look forward to sharing more about the quilts as March progresses. Binding finishes off the quilts and is my least favorite part of the process.

Log Cabin Quilt in yellows and grays

New Life in February 2021

 

The highlight of February occurred on the 19th. Another granddaughter was born. I am excited to welcome Ivy Louise into the family. She is named in part for my mom. The circle of life continues.

Two-Sided Quilt

I have finally finished piecing both halves of the two-sided quilt. One side is a version of The Train Quilt and the other is a batik panel quilt featuring an elephant. Usually, panel quilts are quick and easy to make like I discuss in this post. But this particular design took a lot of effort.

Intricate Borders

Both sides of this quilt have intricate borders. I used a circus train motif for the Train Quilt. Instead of a coal car, I have a grain car. The passenger cars have clowns leaning out. Baby animals complete the motif. Best of all, pastel colored wheels and rails lend the baby element. Perfect for a soon-to-be one year old.

The middle border of the panel side looks quite complicated. Strip piecing made it a bit easier. But since it was the first time I had ever made this border there was still quite a learning curve. I used a pattern called Shaded Squares from The Border Workbook by Janet Kime.

Many of the fabrics used were batiks. I chose to vary the fabrics in the strips so that the border could compliment the stylized elephant on the panel. My aim was a watercolor effect. So, for example, in areas adjoining teals, there were several teal fabrics in the border.

Two-Sided Quilt for Longevity

I decided to make this reversible quilt so it can “grow” with the recipient. The Circus Train is great for a youngster. I can envision toy trains and cars rolling across the tracks. The colors are sweet and the fabrics include a few fun kid prints.

Once the youngster gets a little older, the two-sided quilt stays useful with the beauty of the flipside. The batiks used to accent the majestic elephant are perfect. The marbled colors are both striking and allow for a blending of colors that is pleasing to the eye. I picture a young teen curled up beneath the quilt reading on a snowy day.

One Last Hurdle

The two-sided quilt presents one last hurdle. I need to decide on a quilting design. Many times I use either a stitch in the ditch approach or one that highlights the main design. Neither will work in this case. So I need to come up with an overall quilt design. Fortunately I have an array of stencils to choose from. I will post more pictures after the quilting is done, but here are a few to enjoy now.

December 2019 Wrap-Up

December 2019

The last wrap-up of the year is always difficult and the December 2019 Wrap-Up is no exception. So much is crunched into the last 31 days that I don’t know quite where to start. Perhaps a chronological account is best.

I arrived home to the High Plains just a few hours before December 2019 began. The first few days back from an extended stay in Florida were ones filled with chores and catching up with local based family. A home inhabited by a workaholic for five weeks without his faithful sidekick in residence is a home needing just a bit of TLC.

Keeping Traditions

Bowl with Spode TreeAs discussed in an earlier post on Holiday Traditions, I pull out the Spode Christmas Tree china on the first of December. This year the familiar task helped ground me. These same dishes will return to storage New Year’s Day during breaks in watching parades and football games.

I detoured a bit from tradition with the Christmas tree. Over the last few years I had experimented with both a white and a gold artificial tree, the latter a table topper to mixed reviews from family members. The December 2019 tree was a real tree. I went a step further and used family made ornaments and multi-colored lights. The decision was a positive one. My only offspring able to make it home searched the tree with delight to find the personally made ornaments.

Christmas Tree lit with multi-colored lights
A new look for Christmas

Christmas parties are always a part of the year end festivities. This year was no exception. Needless to say, lots of good food was consumed. The relatively mild weather has allowed me to counter the calories with long walks.

Update on Breast Cancer Treatments

Breast Cancer Ribbon
Not for Women Only

My Dad started his radiation treatments this month. It was quite a process as those who have been through it well know. His biggest complaint so far has been the tattooing. There was some difficulty with the breathing (or holding it) during the early sessions. He is retired Army and his hearing has taking a bit of a beating. Fortunately this issue has been resolved with the use of a technician with a lower, deeper and perhaps louder voice.

Dad remains upbeat about his prognosis. I think he is past the stigma, if any on his part, of being a male with breast cancer. I appreciate the fact he allows me to write about his condition and progress. Breast Cancer is best fought when caught early. Since most men do not get routine mammograms, the detection is more difficult. Just knowing it is possible could be helpful to someone out there.

Book Reviews

I released a second annual book review only to be very impressed with the next two books I read. Click here for the 2019 recommendations. I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It is perfect for binge reading. In addition to This Tender Land just reviewed, I have read the latest Janet Evanovich and am working on the first of a new series by Patricia Cornwall. The former was a delightful fun read, the latter is quite technical and centered on our potential journeys into space.

The Garden

The extended stay in Florida coupled with some other fall trips meant I missed my fall planting of garlic. So I popped some cloves in the ground on Boxing Day. The weather was sunny and mild with a forecast of rain turning to snow for the following days. We will see what happens next summer.

I also cleaned up some of the raised row garden and put down a straw mulch for the remainder of the winter. A little bit of the Swiss chard remains green under a hoop tent. But not enough to harvest. My experiments in the garden will most likely continue for a couple more decades.

In the Quilt Room

Quilt strips before sewing in mauve, blue gray and off white
Beginnings of a quilt

Winter weather means a return to the quilt room. I am currently in the cutting stage of a new quilt. The quilt will have grays, mauves, pinks and a few greens and blues in the marbled Bali prints I am including. I love the feeling that comes along with creativity.

Since I will have another great nephew in the summer, I need to start the design process for another small quilt. I love designing even more than the process of quilting. I am not sure what pattern I will choose yet, but it may be in the form of transportation, just not another Train Quilt like I made for his brother. He will need his own. Click here to see the Train Quilt.

2020 Resolutions

I am still working on my New Year’s resolutions. In 2018 I was successful in fulfilling those resolutions. But I fell a bit short in 2019. Perhaps the difference was not making the goals public. So I plan to post my 2020 ideals next week. That gives me a few more days to make my final decision on just what I should strive for next year.

I hope your December 2019 was merry and bright. I admire those who stay upbeat even in the face of adversity. Perhaps I can come up with a concrete way of measuring tenacity and include that in my 2020 resolutions. Happy New Year everyone.

The Train Quilt

One of my favorite things to make is a baby quilt. First of all, a new baby is someone special. A quilt just for the newborn is a wonderful way to celebrate. Secondly, the small size of the quilt makes the process fun. Even if you can only work on the project nights and weekends, completion occurs in no time at all.

The Train Quilt I just made for a great-nephew comes from the Railroad Crossing pattern found in Sweet Dreams: Heirloom Quilts for Babies. This detailed book of instruction for over a dozen baby quilts was written by Deborah Gordon and Helen Frost. The design looked very difficult but I was pleased with just how easy the piecing was and the applique train cars are adorable.

Color Selection

The colors chosen for this quilt reflect those of the nursery. Before I began the quilt I visited the expectant mother and took a peek at what she was planning for the baby’s room. A palette of primary colors with a deeper tone will create a room the child can grow into. The yellow is mustard, the blue is very deep with gray overtones and the red is also deep, either garnet or wine. Finding fabrics in my stash to blend well with this combination was fun. Knowledge of the color wheel is a must.

The picture to the right shows the railroad ties. The above mentioned colors have lighter colors mixed in as accents. The overall tone is warm. All the fabric used in this quilt was already on hand. A few pieces came from fat quarters which had not been used before, but most have appeared in prior quilts.

Quilt using mustard yellow, garnet and gray-blue colors as a base
Primary Colors with a Twist

I diverged from Gordon and Frost’s directions in color choice and fabric. For example, I used all cotton fabrics. I am already planning the next quilt with this pattern and I will have additional changes. I plan to use ribbon for the train ties. The quarter inch width is difficult to work with and the ribbon will automatically finish the edges.

Cutting and Piecing

Railroad Crossing provides printed pattern templates for all pieces. But the authors also suggest strip sewing. I opted for the strip sewing. But to vary the tracks, not all the strips were adjoined the same way. This added time to the work but allowed the use of extra fabrics. The directions called for eight. But this quilt has fourteen in the tracks and middle border. Additionally, the tracks are not all the same which I think adds interest.

The middle border was pieced in the same way. Instead of using six fabrics at a time I used groups of two and four. I like the randomness but still save time over cutting each piece individually.

Train Quilt Outer Border

I must confess. I have never used this pattern before because I was intimidated by the border. But, I remember how much my little ones liked the trains that run through our little town. So I gave the pattern a try.

Template of a caboose atop wine colored fabric
Plastic Template of Caboose

Templates are created by tracing over the patterns in the book. I did not add seam allowances. If you are fond of needle-turn applique you will need to add a quarter-inch. I chose to use fusible webbing to secure the train cars to the border. Then a combination of decorative machine stitches and embroidery floss finishes the applique. Remember to pull any threads on top to the underside. This will help secure them.

Machine Decorative Stitching outlines passenger car
Machine Decorative Stitching

Quilting

The suggested quilting for the large squares is an outline of the train engine. I opted to put personal details instead. So the quilt has the baby’s name, birthplace, date, time, length and weight spread across the different blocks. A light blue floss gives a subtle contrast to the blocks. Unfortunately, the camera does not do justice to this part of the quilt. But the close-up photo provides a better look.

I loved making this quilt. The piecing of the train tracks is very easy to do. Even though the applique outer border is intimidating, all but perhaps the newest of beginners should be able to accomplish this quilt design. The Train Quilt made for this latest member of the family has inspired me with an idea for the next addition. The little girl due in June will have her own quilt based on the Railroad Crossing design from Sweet Dreams but there will be quite a twist to the outer border.

Check back this summer!

 

Adding inner order to center of quiltAdding outer border to center of quiltQuilt with binding addedpieced box carfabric cutout of caboosefabric caboosecomparing colors of floss to quilt appliquefabric coal carfabric train enginedetailed quiltingcenter of quilt railroad crossing patternironing quilt seamsquilt pieces ready to assemblefabric log carfabric passenger car