Where did the summer go?

Can  it really be almost Halloween? Where did the summer go? And how much quilting was even done over the summer? Well, for me, sometimes not much. With all the outdoor activities, gardening, walking the dog and enjoying the weather, its hard to justify staying in to sew. But I was able to get three “emergency” quilts done. Emergency quilts for me are the ones that I need for gifts or teaching that have a due date and that are not done ahead of time. I really try to stay ahead of things but sometimes it just does not happen.

The three emergency quilts were The Cat in the Hat for grandson’s Harrison’s first birthday, Cub’s quilt for my husband’s birthday and String of Lights, which I’ll be teaching at the January retreat.

For the first birthday quilts I have been doing some of the storybook panels that have been out in the last few years. This year, The Cat in the Hat panel from Robert Kaufman fabrics was pretty popular, along with some great stripes, dots and the famous Cat in the Hat border. This fabric line was a lot of fun to work with, especially with the pattern that I chose. Online, a free pattern was offered from the fabric company but it seemed to be a lot more complicated than it needed to be. So I cut up the panel and bordered out the pictures with the “twist and turn” method. The “twist and turn” technique has some waste but looks great when complete. Each picture cut from the panel is bordered and then trimmed at an angle so that when the blocks are not all the same size, the borders can even things out. I also added the blue and red Kona solids which work well with the Cat in the Hat prints and backed the quilt with super soft blue Minky fabric.  Harrison’s parents (my son and daughter–in-law) loved the quilt and hopefully Harrison will enjoy this special quilt too!

For my husband Tom’s milestone birthday in July, I made him a Cubs quilt. He is a true die-hard Cubs fan, watching every game whether the team is doing well or not . . . and this year, they did NOT do well. So back to the quilt – the fabric is licensed Cubs fabric which is no longer available. Major League Baseball does not print fabric and sell fabric yardage, except for fleece. Several years ago they made the decision to license only their products, apparel, bedding, etc. So where did I get the Cubs fabric? Let’s just say, it pretty much fell into my hands and was already cut into 9″ squares.  I did not want to cut the fabric into smaller pieces because I felt that the design would be lost. So to keep things simple, I just alternated white (Kona cotton again) 9″ blocks with the Cubs fabric. Again, the blue and red Kona solids came into play, the red looked great as an inner border and blue for binding. I also found a great stripe with “Cubby” red and blue for the outer border and backed with white Minky. And was he surprised – YES! Not a clue that I was working on this, pretty much because he was working in Toronto for much of the time. So Happy Birthday to Tom!

August always brings planning time for my Winter Retreat the following January. If I will be teaching it means time to make the sample. This year I will be teaching String of Lights from Terry Atkinson’s newest book, Time Out Quilts. This is a great design (as Terry’s designs always are) with a complicated look and a simple design. Terry breaks down the quilt construction so that there are nine-patch blocks coupled with large snowball blocks.  I used assorted batiks for this quilt, Hoffman buttercream for the background and eggplant for the “faux” geese. I usually am not a big fan of batiks but really enjoyed putting them together for this sample. Another great thing about this quilt is that it is BORDERLESS! When the blocks are done, you are almost there. I’m having a good response to this class already so I hope my students will enjoy it as much as I did. For more information on this quilt and the others being taught in January, go to the registration/info page for the 11th Annual Quilt Retreat.

Summer usually means time to catch up on the hand sewing, something that can be done on the deck while enjoying the sunshine. I had lots of bindings to finish, a whole basket of them so I’m happy to say the bindings are done!  Talking about bindings, I usually cut my strips 2 1/4″, except for flannel (2 1/2″) and now that I’ve worked with Minky, I’ll always do that with 2 1/2″ strips too. On another note, I’ve found couple good, free, quilting apps for the I-Phone that figures backing and binding. Check them out: QuiltCalc and Quilt Fab.

So now that summer is over . . . what’s next? In just two weeks, my annual fall quilting retreat will take place. I like to call it No Frills Quilt Retreat because we stay with the basics – a big sewing room with nothing but sewing, and a little fabric shopping mixed in. More about that in my next post because now its time to start packing up the projects and get ready for the event.

What did you do this summer, quilting-wise? Leave a comment and let me know. I would love to hear about it!

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