Sunday, June 29, 2014

Reflections on Quilt Books

My projects in this past month's "Let's Book It!" Challenge over at Vrooman's Quilts had me reflecting on my habit as a quilter of buying and loving quilt books.  I've always been a book and magazine geek which is partly why becoming a quilter was such a good fit!  Realizing when and why I bought the books I used for the "Let's Book It!" projects also made me reflect on my quilt book collection and what I continue to buy after having quilted for twelve years.  Like many, I have a pretty extensive book library.  Most often, I like to buy "technique books" that show me how to do basic or specific quilt techniques or styles of quilting:

 A sub-section of that category are all the books I have on machine quilting techniques and patterns.

But I also love "survey" books that focus on specific styles of quilts or the history of quilts.

As a big fan of scrap quilts I also love books (and patterns) that have designs that utilize that approach.

And one of these days, I hope to have time to try out some ribbon embroidery and finally delve into all the books and magazines I've purchased on that topic:

Even when I buy a book in one of those categories, sometimes a book becomes just an "inspiration book", one of those that I love to thumb through and look at.  I don't plan to make any of the things in it but every time I look at it, I want to go back to my machine and try to coax something as wonderful out of it as I see in that book.

So for me, another great benefit of the "Let's Book It! Challenge" besides finally USING some of those books, is to review my interest in them.  I'll admit that recently I've come across one or two books I might get rid of because I don't think I'll use them or the concepts they cover are no longer of interest or need refreshers.  Seeing what others have made from books they have often reminds me of books I've thought about purchasing so seeing a finished quilt out of it moves it a little higher on the "To Buy" list  for me.  

So what about you?  Do you find you buy books for a specific purpose or are the books you buy inspiration for some future project yet to be discovered?  Would you like to see what's interesting in books you may not have seen before?  Or maybe you have a book but would love to see what someone else had made from it?  Then Sharon's "Let's Book It" link-up is definitely the place for you!  Head on over and see what's on everyone else's book shelves!

June Book It!

After entering for the first time and winning the May "Book It!" charm, I had thought I would not have another "Let's Book It!" project until at least July.  However, I realized two recent finishes are actually perfect "Book It!" subjects!

I have been participating in the 2014 Finish-A-Long being hosted this year by Katy Cameron at The Littlest Thistle blog.  For the second quarter I had pledged to finish covers for three of my quilt journals.  After finishing the last two, I realized that the books I wound up using to help finish them had been purchased on the same book order back in December 2010.  Both are books with applique designs in them because in the Fall of that year I took an online hand applique class and (as often happens when you learn a new technique) that made me hungry for ideas or projects that I could use my new skills on.

The first project finished in June was my fourth journal cover (the full post is here):

While the front block was one of the projects from my class, the back block was made from scraps and the design was from this book:

The book offers a sampler of eleven blocks designed by Barbra Brackman the noted quilt and fabric historian.  She had designed a sampler for a guild back in 2000 based on blocks she remembered seeing in the book “The Romance of Patchwork Quilt in America” by Carrie Hall and co-authored by Rose Kretsinger, another one of the pioneers in designing quilts for the crafting market.  When Ms. Hall's book was published in 1935, it was the first comprehensive index of quilt block patterns and showcased 850 block designs.  Both Ms. Hall and Ms. Kretsinger are inductees in the Quilters Hall of Fame. has listings for copies of the original version  of Ms. Hall's book as well as an updated version from 1988 and a book of patterns of over 200 of the book's blocks published in 1999 by Bettina Havig.

Admittedly my hand applique skills are a little rusty but it was fun to try a classic block and to get to do free-motion echo quilting for the first time as well.

The timing of the making this next cover coincided with my continuing to work with my Civil War Reproduction stash.  I took scraps from that stash and used a design that combined piecing and applique although this time the applique was fused and finished by machine:

The design for this cover was my variation of the "Square Dance" quilt from Lori Smith's "Fat Quarter Quilting" book.

As noted in the full post on the project, all the quilts in this book finish at 16" x 20" so are already almost perfectly size for a binder cover (which I needed to finish at 11-1/2" x 22").  I'm a big fan in general of Ms. Smith's "From My Heart To Your Hands" designs.  I've also tagged other patterns in this book to use to make future covers for journals that will be dedicated to series quilts that I want to do.  I also have plans to turn another one of the book's pattern designs into a pillow to coordinate with quilts I plan to finish/make out of my stash of 30's repro fabrics. This was a great introduction to this book and I look forward to making more from it!

You can head over to Sharon's Vrooman's Quilts blog to see what everyone else is has been "reading" this month.

For me,  these projects made me think about all the quilt books I have and why I bought them and how it relates to my quilting.  If you don't mind me sharing a few thoughts on that topic, check out my next post

Catching Up On June - Part 4: Last of the 2nd Quarter Finishes

I present to you what will probably be the last of the 2nd Quarter finishes:  the last of the new journal covers!

As noted in the previous post, I used scraps from my Civil War Repro stash to make the "Square Dance" quilt from Lori Smith's book "Fat Quarter Quilting".

Usually, I make these covers free form but the design from this book was already almost perfectly sized to make the cover.  I just had to adjust the design down slightly to add a label area and make it fit the binder it had to go around.   As you can see from all the tabs I have in  this book, I like a lot of the designs in here and also have picked out two other designs for two more future journal covers!  I love Lori's "From My Heart To your Hands" designs and have a bunch of her "Fit To Frame" patterns (and the frames to put them in) that I hope one day to use to do a series of  them to display in our entry staircase. 

I'm also very happy to have gotten the three binders pledged for the quarter done. 

I'll either be back next with an update on the lap quilts or the Finish-A-Long wrap up post.  In either case, see you soon!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Catching Up On June - Part 3: What I'm Working On Now

As noted in the previous posts, I'm trying to get a few more projects on my 2nd Quarter Finish-A-Long list done.  Well, at this point I'll probably only get one more completely done but I'm going to push to also bring a few others to their next level. These projects have me diving back into my Civil War reproduction stash!

The project most likely to get finished is the last of the three journal covers I proposed to finish for the quarter.  It is a relatively small project and is being made up from a pattern in Lori Smith's "Fat Quarter Quilting" book.  So far I've got this much done:

O.k., it doesn't look like much right now but there will soon be four more pieced blocks and some applique added to those borders.

The other 2nd Quarter projects in process are the finishing up of the blocks for two Civil War reproduction lap quilts.  Both are made up of samplers by Kaye England.  The one I've been working on so far is from her Craftsy class "Re-Piecing the Past".  At the start of the quarter, I had three blocks that needed to be finished (the ones on the bottom right).  Now all the blocks for this are done.

This is how the blocks will be laid out:

Next step is to work on the pieced scrappy sashing that will fill in the spaces between the blocks:

However, I may interrupt the sashing work in favor of finishing the four blocks left to be made for the other lap quilt.  I'm hoping to get to those either tomorrow or Friday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Catching Up On June - Part 2: Two more 2nd Quarter Finishes

As noted in the previous post, this month the 2nd Quarter Finish-A-Long will come to a close so I am pluggin' along trying to get some of the things remaining from my list completed.

I finished this on the last day of May:

It's the companion project to my "Sweet Land of Liberty" quilt (my BQF entry posted here) and they hang in the same room.  The eagle and the star are in wools, the rest of the fabrics are cottons and all of it came from scraps or stash.

"Let Freedom Ring" was a project from the Summer 2013 Primitive Quilts & Projects Magazine.  The original design had embroidery on it, something I was hoping to get back into with this project.  But pressed for time,  I took a shortcut and stitched the words on my sewing machine with a triple straight stitch.  I also eliminated the branch embroidery in favor of adding quilted feather designs using what I had hoped would be a "slightly" contrasting thread, an idea I got from this post on the Ivory Spring blog.  The thread I finally settled on using stitched out much darker than I expected reminding me once again that I really should test my quilting threads on a practice piece before doing the actual quilting.  But once the quilting was done, I was statisfied that this little piece would hang high enough to mute the impact of the stitching a bit and more importantly to me (at least for this project) it was done!

So far this month I've also finished the second of the three journal covers I wanted to make this quarter (the first was posted here). 

It was fun to pull all the bits that went into this one.  The label on the spine was stitched onto some ribbon I had on hand using the monogramming function on my machine and the roses were all that was left from a pack I had bought six years ago to add to the label of one of my other quilts. The front block was one of the class projects from the online Hand Applique course I took back in 2010 from Quilt University (which is sadly no longer in business).

The back is a block I also hand appliqued.  The pattern for it was from this book:

When I make these covers they are a "scrap quilt challenge project" for me and I try to pull as much of the fabrics for them from my scrap bits. The ribbon over the join between the two backgrounds was also in stash and was couched with one of the decorative stitches on my machine.

Once again, it pays to pay attention when setting up a block for applique.  While I am satisfied with the result (these binders sit on shelf most of the time), I was a little disappointed that I didn't render some of the elements of the flower block accurately because I relied on memory and what the pieces looked like when cut with seam allowance rather than taking my cue from the actual picture of the block as I went from step to step.  Another lesson for the future (particularly if I ever decide to do competition quilts!) but in the end I'm more than happy to be able to log another finish.

Even the inside lining and flap fabrics were from project leftovers and the binding was a fat eighth from stash (and is now all gone).  Another thing I've got to watch is that I was afraid to crowd the applique but was then a little too generous with the dimensions and seam allowance of the cover so it is a little big for the binder.  On the last binder I actually made it a little too small and had to scramble to get it to fit that binder.  The good news, is that I have one more that I hope to get done before month's end so will have another opportunity to perfect my method for making these. 

This project also gave me some free motion practice doing echo quilting, a technique I haven't employed before.  I got to use the echo quilting foot that came with my machine and used the guidelines to control the spacing. 

Picture courtesy

My thanks to Amy at Amy's Freemotion Quilting Adventures because I didn't know that was what that foot was for until I read it on her blog!  I thought it was just for stitching over bulky seams.  So that's all the finished stuff to date but there will be some more "in progress" posts and hopefully at least one more finish post as the week moves on.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Catching Up On June - Part 1: A Win!

With June rapidly coming to a close, I've been busy with a lot of non-quilty things but have also managed to squeeze in some quilty things too.  It's important to keep my nose to the grindstone because the quarter will be closing soon for the 2nd Quarter Finish-A-Long.  I will be scrambling this week to get a few more things done on my list.

The next few posts will update what I have been working on since my last post and in the case of today what has happened since then.  So without further ado:  

 Remember this quilt?

Fabric Gal by Eleanor Burns for Quilt In A Day

Made for this challenge?

Well, not only did I get a finished quilt out of participating, but I won the "Let's Book It!" challenge for May!  Which means I also got this:

Which I can add to these:

Thanks again Sharon!!