WIP: An Ombre Quilt Top Finished

Ansley's Quilt Top Finished

No time to quilt it today, but I did get the top pieced.  There will even be a similar-but-different doll quilt that carries on the ombre effect for the baby’s older sister.

Ansley's Quilt Top and Skylar's Doll Quilt Top

If only my arms were longer, you could see more!  The pink and green remind me of watermelon or roses, both of which are welcome this time of year.

Ansley's Diamonds Back Side of Quilt Top

And I always love the stained glass effect of a quilt top viewed from the back.  Even on such an overcast day, it just makes me happy.  The pattern of neatly pressed seams with the light filtering through is the reward of a job well done!  (Well, you probably have to sew to understand that one.)


WIP: Starting on Ansley’s Diamonds

Ansley's Diamonds Squares Cut

Just Starting, Ansley's Diamonds

Ansley's Diamonds Stitching

Ansley's Diamond Blocks

I tend to think of quilts as my big “background project”.  Smaller projects jump in, like gifts for Mother’s Day and birthdays, and once they’re done I go back to my quilt in progress.  But baby quilts, much like babies, have a timing all their own.  My current quilting project is on hold again, this time so I can work on a little quilt I’m calling Ansley’s Diamonds.

I’m using hour glass blocks set together so they’ll form diamond shapes.  The added bit of interest with this quilt is the fabric which has a nice ombre gradation to it.  I’m using just one yard of green and one yard of pink, but because of the shifting coloration there are lovely variations in value.  The blocks pictured here combine the darkest green with the lightest pink, but they’ll shift across the quilt to reverse to a paler green and deeper pink.  Hopefully that will create a feeling of movement, something that will draw the eye back and forth over the pattern.

This one is maybe a bit different for another reason — I really don’t know the recipients all that well.  I met Lucy at the gym and she’s just so sweet, and her husband Chad is, too.  They’re young and kind, having their second child but still just starting out, really.  (At least it feels that way to someone who’s been married 22 years!)  Anyway, I’m a believer in positive reinforcement, so for their kindness alone baby Ansley gets a quilt.  And if I’ve done my math right, her big sister will get a little doll quilt from the leftover squares.  Otherwise I suppose I’ll be making a scrappy doll quilt!


The Tough Chickie Quilt, A Quilt About Divorce


Tough Chickie Quilt, A Quilt About Divorce 2

When my little sister in law told me she was getting divorced, I hurt for her.  She’s fourteen years younger than my husband and me, quite an age difference.  The first time I met her, she was probably in Kindergarten or first grade.  She crawled up in my lap with a Christmas catalog and showed me toys she hoped Santa would bring her.  I was beyond charmed by her.  As I said when I toasted her at her wedding, I fell in love with her even before I loved her brother, my husband of now 22 years.

Tough Chickie Quilt, A Quilt About Divorce 1

She’s grown to be a good friend, and we enjoy spending time with her so much that we’ve even shared vacations.  She’s one of my favorite people in the world.  When she said she was divorcing after five years it was like a physical blow to all of us.  This is part of the email I sent her the morning after she told us:

“Your news really threw me for a loop.  I hope you’re doing OK, and I want to do anything I can to help you, so just let me know. I’ll ramble here for a minute, but stick with me.  So, the way I pray is to do something and keep my hands busy, and I pray even better for someone in particular when I’m making something for that person.  This is why I really connected with the Japanese idea of folding 1,000 origami cranes for someone who is sick, to show them how much they’re in your thoughts.  It’s like visible prayers.  I couldn’t sleep last night, kept thinking of you two, how things are changing for you and all the crappy things you’ll have to go through in the time ahead … I have a stack of quilts in my “to do” pile, but I want to skip ahead and work on one for you, because it will help me pray for you and do something for you.  I feel like I should be doing something, so it will help me, and you’ll need a fresh start, so something new that’s just yours, maybe that will help you, too.

While I was awake thinking about you, I had an urge to make you a quilt.  It’s what I do for life events, so it doesn’t really surprise me that for a big change in your life, even one you don’t want to celebrate, I want you to have a quilt.  They’re comforting and warm, and you can nap under them.  You’ll need good naps.  Throw them across a chair and the whole room looks happier.  Happier is a good thing.  Patterns went through my mind, but I kept going back to one.  You’ll have to tell me if you like it or if you’d rather have something else, or even nothing at all.  (There is always “something else”, so don’t be afraid to tell me this one isn’t for you.)

It’s called a Japanese X & + quilt.  It’s a scrappy quilt, so it’s made with bits of every little thing.  I think that fits, because scrappy also means a fighter, and you can be that when you need it, too.  What I especially like about it is the cross at the center of each block.  It’s a reminder that God is with you, and it’s also a bit like the Red Cross, so it feels like first aid in a crisis.  And I’m choosing to think of the “X” part of it as a multiplication sign, a sign of growth and abundance ahead.”

Tough Chickie Quilt Binding and Backing=

I worked on her quilt while I worked things out in my mind and tried to fill her quilt with a little of everything.  There’s a bit of grrrrr in there, but also lots of hope and love.  Divorce is never easy.  I used many different textures and so many little things that I hope will have meaning for her.  Two blocks are made from the quilt fabric for a quilt I’m making for her parents, a nice connection between their quilts.  There are some fabrics from things I’ve made for her in the past, fabric I bought in or about places we love, and things that will hopefully just make her smile.  There’s even a block about her dog — I know she’ll like that one!

Tough Chickie Quilt, a Quilt About Divorce 3

Tough Chickie Quilt, A Quilt About Divorce 4

This quilt is a wish for a happy future for her.  It might be different than what she had planned, but it can still be wonderful.  She’s a tough chickie, I know she’ll be OK.


How to Bind a Quilt


My friend Kim asked for a tutorial on binding a quilt, so even though there are plenty of tutorials already out there, I’m adding mine.  That’s one of the nice things about having a blog, it makes it easier to explain stuff like this.

So here goes!  First, choose a binding fabric and cut strips three inches wide across the width of the fabric.  (You can measure your quilt if you want to know just how much fabric you’ll need, but as a general rule a half yard is plenty for a baby quilt and a yard of fabric should be enough for up to a twin size quilt.)  Then take the first of your three inch wide binding strips and lay one face up to the left, and put another face down on top of it, so the ends meet up across each other as in the photo.  (The whole process will be easier if you keep it in your mind that left side faces up from underneath, right side faces down from the top.)  Draw a line from the upper left corner of the top strip down to where the lower strip ends at the lower right, making a little triangle shape out of the corner.

How to Bind a Quilt, Making Binding 1

Sew directly on the line you just drew, backspacing at the start and finish to secure your stitches.  Then trim, press the seam open, then fold the binding in half lengthwise and press flat.

How to Bind a Quilt, Making Binding 2

That’s it!  That’s all there is to making binding.  Keep going until you’ve got all the binding you need, then begin pinning it to your quilt.  Leave a little “tail” at the beginning, and pin the raw edge of the binding along the raw edge of the quilt.  Start in the middle of one side and pin to the corner.  Sew clockwise around your quilt.

How to Bind a Quilt, Sewing on Binding1

Using a walking foot, stitch with the edge of the walking foot along the edge of the binding and quilt.  Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and stop about the width of your seam allowance from the edge of the quilt corner.  Backstitch, cut your threads and get ready to pin the next side.  Pull the binding up, AWAY from the direction you’ll be stitching, then fold over and begin pinning along the quilt edge again.  There will be a little triangle of fabric under the top layer of binding.  This is going to make a nice corner on your finished binding.  Begin stitching near the corner.  Keep going in this way until you reach the side of the quilt where you started.

How to Bind a Quilt, Binding the Corners

When you get back to the side where you started, go on and sew a bit more of the binding down from the last corner, but backstitch and stop sewing a good distance from the tail you left at the beginning.  Leave an ending tail where you stopped.  These two ends are going to be sewn together in the same way you connected all the other binding strips, but it’s going to be a little trickier because they’re both connected to the quilt.  To help you know where to connect the ends, bring the tail ends towards each other until they meet, then fold them away.  Use a steamy iron and press where they’ve met so you have fold mark you can see.

How to Bind a Quilt, Connecting Ends 1

This is always the funkiest step for me.  The “ending tail” is to your left, so open it laying face up, then open the right side binding and lay it face down (without making a rotation, so it will still lay flat), and line up the right side’s edge with fold on the left binding.  Make sure the fold mark on the upper right piece is lined up with the top edge of the left binding.

How to Bind a Quilt, Connecting Ends 2

Just like before, draw a line from upper left to lower right, and sew along that line.  Be sure to pin well, and fold the quilt up a bit so that the binding pieces have the slack they need to stay together properly.  After sewing the line, check to be sure the binding “fits”, then just like before, trim the ends, press the seam open, then press the binding flat.

How to Bind a Quilt, Connecting Ends 4

Sew this last little bit of binding down and you’re finished with the machine sewing part of your quilt!  Then it’s time to flip the quilt over, fold down the binding and hand sew it down.  Pro tip: This is a great time to watch a great series on Netflix.

How to Bind a Quilt, Hand Sew to Back

And I can’t resist showing you the truth of how it really goes at my house.

How to Bind a Quilt, Kitten

It is easier without the kitten.  Trust me.

Kim, and anyone else, please let me know if any of it isn’t clear, and I’ll tweak it a bit!