Monday, December 31, 2018

A Modern Twist on Medallion Quilts

It’s pretty rare for me to make a pattern with the exact fabrics that it was originally designed in. Actually, I can think only of Park Bench, a block of the month that I started in 2014 and finished in 2017. And even with that quilt, I fudged things a bit, substituting a few fabrics for others and omitting some blocks altogether.

But when I saw Lynne Goldsworthy’s Modern Medallions quilt and realized I had almost all of the required Karen Lewis/Blueberry Park fabric in my stash to sew it, I knew I would stick with the pattern ...

The color selection and placement reflect all of Lynne’s design decisions. For the background, I used Basic Grey’s Grunge in paper white. I pieced my back, as usual, and used chunks of pale blue from my stash. At 72 inches square, this project is a generously sized lap quilt. I shuddered at the thought of quilting it on my domestic, so a friend longarmed it with a computerized panto.

This quilt was gifted for Christmas. Earlier this year, I had approached the director of the children’s ministry at my church about finding an aide to accompany my younger son into kids’ church. I thought she would hook me up with a big-hearted teenager, but I was introduced instead to a woman with three kids of her own. She works with my kiddo at the 9 o’clock service and then heads back home and attends a service at a different location with her own family. I know helping my family is a sacrifice, and her generosity is almost too much to accept. Making this quilt was my way of showing her how much I appreciate the time and effort she has dedicated to my son.

Modern Medallions was released as a booklet accompanying issue 30 of Love Patchwork and Quilting. It doesn’t seem as if it was ever sold separately. If you really love this pattern and want to make it yourself, perhaps you’ll have some luck finding it through Etsy. (Sorry, my copy is already spoken for!)

Does my story of making this quilt resonate with you? How often do you follow a pattern verbatim? Are you like me, trying to make use of the stash you have on hand, or do you buy fabric for a particular project in mind?

Linking up to Main Crush Monday, Let’s Bee Social, and Needle and Thread Thursday ... 


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Friday, December 28, 2018

Quilted, Bound, and Gifted / Beauties Pageant 13

It was love at first sight for me and this Riley Blake print.

This might come as a shock to you because you know me as such a bastion of self-control and smart fabric management, but there was a time when I bought fabric just because it was pretty. And some of those fat quarters and cuts of yardage sat in my stash for years. One such purchase is this sweet print (see pic, above) from Riley Blake. To me, these hearts have an eighties vibe to them, and although I love that retro feel, it took me until recently to find the right project for them.

I couldn’t imagine making anyone other than my sister something with these hearts—she was, after all, my partner in crime growing up in the eighties—so I embarked on making 100 cat heads for her. (For more on the pattern, see my original post here.)

It was fun picking fabric for all 100 of these cuties.

I usually cut my binding strips from the width of fabric, but I thought these
hearts looked better on the bias.

The heart print directed all of my decisions about this quilt, which I call Me-Wow! I decided up front to use it as the binding fabric. I pulled the colors of the scrappy cats—shades of pink, yellow, teal, navy, gray, and orange—from it. I think the Essex linen background fabric adds great texture, tones downs that palette, and makes the final quilt more grown-up looking.

I was smitten by the great variety of scraps I was able to use in this project!

The big triumph here, aside from using that long-stored Riley Blake fabric, was that I longarmed this quilt myself! I recently took the class required to use the Janome Quilt Maker Pro at my local quilt shop so that I could quilt this project before its Christmas deadline. I used a fully computerized pantograph, and I foresee longarming only pantographs for the time being. I’ll need to get better at the process before I muster the courage to try free-motion quilting on that monster of a machine!

This design was a good one to try first. It’s more forgiving than, say, a rigid

Did you gift some fun quilted projects over the holidays? I hope they were as well received as Me-Wow! Share your pictures and posts in the party below!

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

Inlinkz Link Party

Linking up to Oh Scrap!, Let’s Bee Social, and Needle and Thread Thursday ... 

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Friday, December 21, 2018

A Quilt About My Son with Down Syndrome

Ninety-nine percent of the time, my blog is about sewing and quilting. By design, my family and life outside of crafting make rare appearances here. This post is an exception …

I am a stay-at-home mom to two boys. My older son is in fourth grade, and my younger son is in second grade.

When my younger son was just 10 hours old, a doctor delivered startling news to me and my husband: our son has Down syndrome.

My husband and I turned down offers of genetic testing during my pregnancy. We knew this meant there could be some surprises after delivery. Coming to terms with this diagnosis, however, was the hardest thing we’ve ever done.

On one hand, this diagnosis was devastating. The birth of a baby is a time for joy and hope. Although our newborn was quite healthy—he was a full-term delivery without any serious medical issues—we had no idea what medical and/or developmental challenges he would encounter later in life. (People with Down syndrome often have vision, hearing, gastroenterological, and cardiac problems. They have an increased risk of everything from celiac disease to leukemia.)

On the other hand, we don’t believe in accidents—this baby was given to us purposefully—and we believe that some of the most rewarding experiences can come from unexpected circumstances, even difficult ones.

We’re eight years into parenting this little boy now. The first five years of his life, although filled with hundreds of medical appointments and therapy sessions (our guy has had physical, occupational, and speech therapy from early on), went pretty smoothly—more smoothly than our older son’s! The past three years have seen many more behavioral issues, but we’re working through them at home and at school.

Our little guy with Down syndrome is healthy. His most notable problem is bilateral hearing loss, which requires him to wear hearing aids. He can read fairly well, although his comprehension is weaker than his ability to recognize words. His speech is seriously delayed, and it’s hard for many people to understand him. His first language is American Sign Language, which he and I still use daily. He also uses an iPad outfitted with a special program to help him communicate at school.

This kid is a love muffin. He loves bowling and soccer and swimming. He specializes in hugs and high-fives. He’s socially outgoing, and when we go out and about, we always make new friends (especially babies—this kid loves babies!). He has a laugh that stops people in their tracks.

So that’s my story: I have a child with special needs. Parenting a child like this was not something I would have volunteered for. I would never have thought I would be able to take on such a challenge. But his birth is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me as a mother, as a wife, and as a person.

I’ve been wanting to make a quilt about this parenting journey, to try to share with the quilting world these simple facts about my life, so I designed 47XY+21 …

It’s an abstract rendition of our son’s karyotype (that is, a picture of his chromosomes), including the extra chromosome on the 21st pair that causes Down syndrome. As the heart surrounding that trio suggests, we feel nothing but love for our son’s bonus chromosome. We can’t imagine him without it. We wouldn’t want him any other way.

This project was pieced with Kona Cottons in white, tomato, and indigo. I reverse-appliqued the heart as well as the karyotype label. The heart, with its gentle curves, was straight-forward. The label was harder. I had difficulties maintaining the detail in the letters and numbers. I’m still fascinated with the process of reverse applique, though; I’m sure it will make an appearance in future projects.

I quilted the indigo background with straight vertical lines. I think anything more would have taken away from the minimalist feeling of the finished product.

I’m honored that 47XY+21, along with my quilt Circa 1870, will hang at QuiltCon in Nashville.

I usually end my posts with a question, something to spark conversation in the comments, but all I really want to say today is thank you for letting me wear my heart on my sleeve for a moment. : )

Linking up with Let’s Bee Social and Main Crush Monday ...

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Pageant Highlight Reel / Beauties Pageant 12

Quilty friends, happy Friday! Welcome to another installment of the Brag About Your Beauties Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty!

If you’re new around these parts, I wanted to share some highlights of recent Beauties Pageants because you’ve been missing out …

In BP 11, we met Medallion Magic, a new quilt pattern from Leanne at Devoted Quilter, and learned about a corresponding quiltalong, to launch in January.

That first border makes me swoon.

In BP 10, Melanie, of Mell Meyer, shared  the wallet she had recently sewn. It is perfect wrapped in a gorgeous Alison Glass panel.

I have this same fabric. Now I just need to learn German to read the necessary pattern!

And back in BP 9, Yvonne, over at Quilting Jetgirl, introduced us to a quick and easy hexagonal coaster tutorial. If you’re looking for a last-minute craft for gifting, this post is a must-read.

I love when seemingly complicated projects are, in fact, easy to make.

Thank you to all you bloggers who have been participating in this linky as I try to get it off the ground. It’s fun to learn what everyone is sewing, and I’ve added more than one project to my to-do list based on the loveliness you’ve shared here.

Now for this week’s pageant …

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

BTW: Inlinkz has made some changes. It seems that you need to register to add links now. (ACK!) Sorry for any inconvenience! And this linky now includes thumbnails, not just text.

Inlinkz Link Party

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Friday, December 14, 2018

I Can’t Say No to Scraps / Beauties Pageant 11

Each of these beauties features Rifle Paper Co. designs, from Cotton and Steel.

A friend from guild attends each month’s meeting with a bin full of scraps from her business making nursery items. These are good scraps, people, including lots from Rifle Paper Co., which I love the look of but rarely buy myself. I try to pick from these piles of castoffs with care and restraint. The truth is, I always leave a meeting with a fistful of scrappy goodness.

I decided recently that enough was enough. I could continue to hoard these bits and pieces in my scrap bin if I started to actually use some of them. So use them I did, during Cheri Lehnow’s Tiny Tinkalong Sewalong in November. (You can find the pattern on Etsy and the sewalong announcement on Instagram. Participants’ beautiful finishes can be viewed here.)

I couldn’t imagine chopping up Alice for use in a quilt. I’m happy she gets the
spotlight here.

This pattern is easy peasy. So far I’ve made the tiny version (which is the small size printed at 65%), and it’s perfect for my Cotton and Steel snippets. The hardest and most time-consuming part is choosing the fabric and finding a good cord or ribbon to use as the drawstring.

I did buy yardage of this print, one of my favorite ever. It was the
palette inspiration for this quilt.

These tiny treasures will hold gift cards and chocolates for my children’s teachers this holiday season. : )

Are you doing any holiday sewing? Share any recent finishes—for gift giving or for yourself—in this week’s Beauties Pageant!

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Apparently, I Have a Thing for Trees / Beauties Pageant 10

When it comes to decorating for Christmas, I’m a tree girl. Now, my tree isn’t fancy (actually, it’s a 16-year-old artificial one from Target that my husband refuses to replace because it works fine). But we get it up and decorated as soon as the Thanksgiving crowd leaves my house each year, and it’s lit pretty much from then until the new year.

This year, I decided I really only needed the tree. Well, the tree and a front-door wreath (which is like an honorary tree) and quilts. Any other decorations were unnecessary. Once I started laying out my quilted decorations, though, I realized they’re all trees!

Exhibit A: My Tree Is Trimmed mini (see the tutorial here).

Exhibit B: The mini I made during the curves class I took at Stitched in Color.

Exhibit C: My Christmas tree quilt

You know what this means, of course. I have some Christmas making to do for myself. Realistically, that won’t be happening anytime soon, but coming to From Bolt to Beauty for Christmas 2019: something other than trees!

This tree-related rant is not a clever way to distract you from my lack of a finish. I do have a finish, a big, yellow finish. I’m not confident that it will get into QuiltCon, but I love, love, love it. Read more about it here.

If you have a finish, we want to read about that, too. Add your post to this week’s linky!

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Near Wild Heaven: My Two-Color Challenge Quilt

I designed my two-color challenge quilt in EQ7. This shows the final color
placement (although I chose to construct some sections of the quilt differently
than depicted here).

Over the summer, the Modern Quilt Guild announced that American Patchwork and Quilting would be sponsoring a challenge at QuiltCon 2019, in Nashville. The premise was simple: design and make a quilt using two colors. Any fabric and thread used in the quilt top had to be one of those two colors.

As far as challenges go, I found those parameters to be overwhelming. There were too many possibilities. So I approached the creation of my quilt as a value study. I chose two colors—yellow and white—and decided to use a combination of prints and solids to create the effect I was aiming for.

This picture makes the quilt look more mustard than yellow, but it shows the three
different prints up against each other. I think this combination of fabrics works!

The biggest obstacle was finding fabric. I needed multiple prints that all had the same exact color of yellow but that would read as different values. Buying fabric online wasn’t an option; I would have ended up buying yellows that weren’t close enough to include. Instead, I scoured quilt shops in person, taking bolt after bolt to the window to evaluate the color in natural light. I ended up with three prints—one high volume, one mid, and one low—from two different manufacturers (Free Spirit and Art Gallery).

I thought a chunky design would best show the contrast between these prints, so I designed a lapsize quilt with a background that placed the three yellow prints up against each other.

Here she is in all of her yellow-hued glory!

I finished binding my quilt, which I’m calling Near Wild Heaven, two days before the submission deadline. It was too close for comfort for my liking, but I am really pleased with how this project turned out! To see what other quilters are doing for the same challenge, check out #twocolorchallenge on Instagram.

Here is a shot of the back. According to the challenge rules, the back could
depart from the colors on the top. I used a beautiful blue-purple floral from
Joel Dewberry and yellows that didn’t make the cut for the top.

Do you participate in challenges (through your guild, among your friends, or in more structured settings like QuiltCon)? What do those projects do for you as a maker? I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have designed and made Near Wild Heaven without the kick in the pants provided by the challenge!

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Finish It Up Friday ...

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Friday, November 23, 2018

A Stash-Busting Rainbow / Beauties Pageant 9

This pencil roll is a rainbow project of mine from 2014.

I started pulling and cutting fabric for a project this week. There is no rational reason for me to be starting something new—some quilty deadlines have come and gone (without the required finish), while others loom in the not-so-distant future—but it was fun to spend time in my stash and use my rotary blade to commit to a palette and design.

The results of that playtime is a rainbow of 27 fabrics ...

So pretty, right?!

I’m not a big rainbow maker (although I have an acute weakness for rainbows of Alison Glass fabrics), but I love how a disparate mix of prints find unity in a spectrum of colors.

I’ll be following Allison Harris’s Strip and Flip Baby Quilt tutorial to make two baby quilts with these fabrics. Why two quilts when I don’t even have one baby to sew for these days? The way I see it, if I’m going to cull through my stash to find 27 fabrics that work together, I might as well make two!

I can’t wait to sew these strips into something beautiful. : )

In other quilty news, I just need to bind and photograph my two-color challenge quilt for QuiltCon before sharing it with you. Yahoo—a finish is coming!

Until then, I’m excited to see what you’re up to. Share your recent finish in this week’s linky!

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Another Friday, Another Flimsy / Beauties Pageant 8

The flimsy parade continues here at From Bolt to Beauty! I may not have touched Me-wow! since blogging about it last week, but I did wrap up the sewing on my Garden Plots quilt top.

This quilt, designed by Alison Vermilya for Moda Bake Shop, is a just-because project for me. In other words, I started this quilt just because I had the fabric on hand, just because I thought the pattern well suited the fabric, and just because I wanted to start something new instead of finishing up a WIP.

My plan evolved as I sewed blocks together, decided I didn’t have enough fabric for/didn’t quite like the look of my blocks, and embarked on some unsewing and resewing. (Plus, I got rid of the heavy-handed pink entirely.) It wasn’t the most efficient of processes, but I tell myself that quilts can come together in organic ways—it’s not all about whipping through project after project, right? And anyway, I really like the final outcome.

One of the fun aspects of making this top for me was the color palette. Before this project, I couldn’t have imagined saying that I wanted to make a gray, teal, mustard, and mint quilt. But seeing those colors together, they work! The mint in particular was an odd selection for me. It was a necessary low-volume addition to the palette, though.

The question now is how I’ll finish this quilt. I pretty sure I’ll bind it in teal. A quilting plan eludes me, though. Should I do something with straight lines on my home machine? Labor over a free-motion plan? I’ve signed up for a longarm lesson at a local quilt shop, so I could also wait and quilt it with a pantograph. Comments and suggestions are welcome ...

As is your submission to this week’s Beauties Pageant!

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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Friday, November 9, 2018

Me-wow! / Beauties Pageant 7

The forces of the universe have been aligned against me of late. Between contractors coming in and out of my house for the past month, a series of sunless days, and the overall dwindling daylight as winter closes in on New England, it’s been hard to get any decent pictures of quilts. And I’ve been growing impatient. Eager to show you one of my multiple finished quilt tops, I decided I was going to make a photo shoot happen today, no matter what!

I started off inside, draping one of my finished quilt tops—I’m calling it Me-wow!—over the banister in my foyer ...

That shot gives you a nice idea of the design and colors of this project, but I wanted one that would show you just how many kitty faces I made. So, in an act of desperation, I employed my almost-10-year-old in the endeavor ...

See? There are cats. Lots of cats. One hundred cats!

I’m making this quilt for my sister, whose birthday in early October has long come and gone. I got about 75 of the 100 cats sewed up in August and September and then lost steam. But my guild’s retreat motivated me to prep the remaining blocks and sashing pieces. I spent the entire three-day event—minus time for socializing and fabric shopping and such—working on finishing up this top.

These blocks, which are actually 25 different designs, are free and from Elizabeth Hartman. Elizabeth held a sewalong years ago for these kitties. At the time, I didn’t have the scraps or inclination to embark on assembling my own litter. Now I’m glad to have scoured my scraps for pretty little piles of monochromatic prints and solids.

Now that I’ve finished this top, I keep encountering these cats elsewhere, on blogs and on Instagram. DonnaleeQ whipped up six comparable kitty blocks, complete with whiskers, for a fundraiser. Angela put out a call to receive these blocks for a quilt for her daughter. I was happy to oblige her by shipping six of my extras to her. : )

What have you been working on? Are you in the home stretch of some quilt projects, as I am? If so, we want to cheer you on—link up below!

The pageant rules are simple:
  • Post your finish in the linky tool. (No links to your own giveaway or linky, please!)
  • Point your readers back here with a text link or use the button above.
  • Visit and comment on other participants’ finishes.

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