A Quilt for Malcolm

This is the quilt I had hoped to finish before Malcolm was born in September 2014. Then, I was certain it would be finished in time to be wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. 2 months later, I finally quilted the last stitch.

Thankfully, Malcom neither understands nor cares that the quilt was 5 months late. He is mighty impressed about his toes though.

This quilt was made not just by me. Two other talented women helped.

The quilt was started by my neighbor’s mother, Janet Hunter. It was the last quilt she has cross-stitched. She passed away before she could finish it. My neighbor was unable to throw it out. Knowing how much I loved to sew, she gave it to me.

It took me some time before I decided how I wanted to complete it. After a few minutes of trying to cross-stitch, I knew I wouldn’t be doing that! Yet, I wanted to keep the original design of a moon. One day when I was digging through unfinished projects, I spotted the quilt next to a torn shirt of Dan’s. It looked like the perfect moon.

After appliqueing the moon and hat, I added another layer of batting and a back fabric.

Then, my favorite part began: hand quilting. It took me several months to quilt all the layers together.

I couldn’t be happier with the final result.

To always remember how and why I made the quilt, I had Judi of JDK Wallets make a quilt label by hand. She outdid herself by adding the cute touches of the moon, boy and stars.

Though I already picked out the fabric for my next quilt, I am going to take a small knitting design break. After I submit my latest design to a magazine, I will pull the ironing board off the wall and set to work.


Packing Away a Quilt

It has been two months since I have posted on this blog and with good reason. At first, it was a happy reason. Then, it wasn’t.

Because I always have some sort of sewing or knitting project going on, it is fitting that this story revolves around a quilt.

This quilt was given to me by my neighbor. Her mother made cross-stitch quilts for every child and grandchild she had. This was her final quilt. She only had time to do the border and the mobile before she was called home. My neighbor, not having a crafty bone in her body but unable to just throw it out, gave it to me with the hopes that I would finish it for my child.

I truly tried to finish it in the way that it was intended by cross stitching the moon, but I gave up quickly. Cross stitching is not for me. I take my hat off to those who follow the tiny diagrams and truly love the process.

After failing to complete it, I stuffed the quilt back in the bag and hid it in my sewing room. Two months ago when I found out I was expecting our 2nd child, I pulled the quilt back out, determined to finish it. Elly owns 3 handmade quilts from me. Surely, my next child was deserving of the same love that I pour into each of the quilts I make.

Halfway through the hand appliqueing process, the dream went away. It started with just some innocent spotting.  Then, the pain started. It worked itself into a frenzy until a rush of blood occurred. Finally, the gestational sac was passed and our child was no more. It was all so horribly simple.

Unable to even look at the quilt, I packed it up in the bag that I had carried it around in. The needle is still threaded and slipped in the fabric waiting for a happier day.

To keep my mind and my hands busy, I turned my attention to Christmas. Oh, how I love Christmas. In a few short days, the shopping was almost done. Sewing projects are being worked on. Crafts are being made. Slowly, I am finding peace.

Happiness was never truly lost. It is impossible to be unhappy when you have an Elly.


We were at Target in this picture. It is difficult for Elly to keep her superhero costume wearing to just home or Halloween; it is too stifling.

The Quilt is Finished!

I finished it one day before we left for Jodi’s and Matt’s wedding in San Francisco.

There were moments I wasn’t sure I would finish it at all.

The marathon quilting that occurred during the last week took a toll on my fingers. Not even the quilter’s callous could save them. They throbbed and even bled. A little bit of blood dripped onto the quilt in my haste. One finger has still not healed a week later. Yet, it was worth it.

It is not your typical wedding quilt, but a traditional wedding quilt didn’t seem right for Jodi and Matt. So, I went a bit retro on the front.

and a bit modern on the back.

a close up of all the quilting

Pictures were shot in my neighbor’s backyard on Friday before I stuffed it in our luggage. Thankfully, the airline did not lose our luggage.

Even though gifts are rarely opened at weddings, I insisted that the newlywed couple open the quilt. I was dying to see their reaction. Happily, they both loved it.

One Circle Quilted

All 24 sections of the Dresden plate as well as the flowers surrounding the fisherman have been quilted.

Rather than transfer a quilting design and following it, I used the fabric as my guide. Any motif that looked simple enough to follow was outlined in black quilting stitches.

The Dresden plate

Close up of fisherman

In order to accomplish all this quilting, I drug this quilt all over Pottstown. It has been worked on at McDonalds, my neighbor’s house, MOMS club activities and local playgrounds. Basically, any spare moment has been spent quilting.

3 more circles to go. Expect to see the quilt if you see me.

Hand Quilting while Elly Slept

Every night after Elly went to sleep and every morning before she woke up, I snuck in a little quilting.

(Elly cuddling with her younger cousin). 

The 14″ hoop I bought from Amazon was just perfect for snapping around a section of the quilt and popping it onto my lap.

The stitches are not tiny and perfect.

It was difficult getting the needle to sail through the typical 3 layers of a quilt plus the extra layer of the Dresden plate applique. I could only load 3 stitches at a time.

Each piece of the Dresden plate is quilted differently. Some pieces have almost no quilting as the fabric seemed too busy so I just quilted along the joining seam. Other pieces had a simply motif in the fabric that I quilted around the outline of.

Other pieces had a repeating diagonal running through the fabric that I happily followed.

Though I had originally planned to quilt each piece of the Dresden plate the same with a 1/4″ outline inside the stitching seam, it was more fun to base the quilting design on the fabric.

As before, quilting by hand was a joy. I just might start quilting more often than my current once-a-year pace.

Quilt Top Finished

Appliqueing the Dresden plates by hand took a lot longer than I had planned.

The plates are really big and most often I only accomplished hand sewing half of one down before it was time for bed. Of course, sickness and daily life ensured that I didn’t get to work on the quilt everyday.

Still the process was enjoyable. I got to watch a lot of Miss Marple. The series is not quite as good as Murder She Wrote though it is in the same vein, but perhaps that is because I am bias. I just adore Angela Lansbury.

After appliqueing the plates, the next step was to create a quilt sandwich. The only way I know to anchor the back fabric when a quilt becomes this large is to tape it to the floor, so that is exactly what I did. Blue painters tape worked brilliantly in this case.

A million pins were placed all over the quilt top to keep the sandwich together. Despite using quilter’s safety pins which are curved, my fingers were still bleeding by the end.

This is where I stopped in the process a few days ago. It always takes me a few days to build up my courage to start quilting and even then it might take a glass of port to push me into making the first line of quilting. I truly love to quilt. It’s the best part of making a quilt. Yet, it always gives me the butterflies. Part of me feels like I am taking a Sharpie and marking all over an art piece.

Hand Applique

The quilt top is assembled, but it is not finished.

The Dresden plates are only basted onto the quilt top. To tack the edges down, I am using a hand applique technique. Although I found instructions for the technique in the Complete Guide to Quilting book, an online tutorial can be found here.

If you squint, you should be able to see my stitches in red. I used red thread because if I am going to hand sew, I want my stitches to visible. Plus, I thought it might look nice against the red wheel fabric.

Why hand applique, you ask.

It’s a good question. Surely, a sewing machine would be faster. It’s not like I lack for sewing machines. I own 3 now.

There are several reasons why I chose to attach the Dresden plates by hand.

One, I plan to quilt this Dresden throw by hand, so it just goes with the theme of things.
Two, I like to hand stitch things.
Three, a sewing machine must be used in the sewing room after hours and away from family. Hand stitching can be done almost anytime and anywhere.
Four, I can watch TV while hand stitching. There are no TVs in the sewing room.
Five, did I mention that I really enjoy the repetition of sewing by hand? It’s like knitting; it relaxes me.

Right now I am watching Vanity Fair. It’s so nice to get a break from Go, Diego, Go and the Green Lantern, also known as the Justice League.

And for those wondering why Elly watches the Justice League, well obviously Dan had a hand in it. About a month ago, Elly won a stuffed super hero from the claw machine inside our local grocery store. She asked me what his name was. I had no idea. Of course, Dan knew and not only told her his name, Green Lantern, but also introduced her to comic books with the Green Lantern in it and cartoons with the Green Lantern in it. Now the whole family knows Green Lantern’s name and has watched far too many Justice League cartoon shows. Although I shouldn’t complain because the Justice League is far better than Diego or Bob the Builder or Timmy Time.

Not Enough Fabric

Actually, it depends on who you ask as to whether or not I have enough fabric.

Elly will tell you that I have the perfect amount of fabric.

It is just the right amount to snuggle in with 2 baby dolls.

It is not the right amount to back the Dresden quilt with. When I bought the fabric, I based it off the fact that the squares to which the Dresden plates would be appliqued to were to be 25″. Yet, I bought extra fabric to cut the squares out of. There was enough to make 26.5″ squares. Since bigger is better, I cut the maximum square allowed out. It never occurred to me that the backing fabric would not be enough to cover the backside of the enlarged quilt.

But, all is not lost. Plan B was concocted last night. It involves piecing the back together out of the backing fabric, the sashing fabric and some grey fabric I had in my stash. It might even look better than Plan A when finished.

Here’s hoping.

Quilt Blocks on the Floor

Typically, I would stack my quilt blocks on a table, but these quilt blocks are gigantic. They measure 26.5 inches square. It is far easier to piece them together on the floor.

Dan is not a fan. He has been sick and has graciously relegated himself to the guest bed so as not to get the rest of us sick. Thus, he has had to weave his way around the blocks to get in and out of bed.

Hopefully, I can finish pinning the sashing to the quilt blocks in the next day or so. Then at least they will be off the floor.

The plus side of the gigantic quilt blocks is that it will be quicker to piece the quilt top together, since there are fewer pieces to sew. Which in turns means that I can hurry up and get to the part I love: hand quilting.

Dresden Quilt Progress

The Dresden plates are being appliqued to the awesome wheel fabric I found at my local quilt shop. Have I mentioned how much I love Generations Quilt Shop lately? Their fabric selection is unbelievable. Seriously, if you live in the Pottstown area, you have to visit.

I’m not sure if you can see in that photo, but I am hand basting the plates down, since they are so huge and I did not want to leave a million pins in the plates during the assembly of the quilt top.

In addition to the wheel fabric, I bought fabric for the sashing and for the backing.

The polka dot fabric will be used for the sashing and perhaps the binding. The circle fabric will be used for the backing and maybe the border. I haven’t decided yet.