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Archive for the tag “sewing”

Thistleberry Block 3 Churn Dash

Wow, the vacation has spiraled out of control.  Children coming in to visit, children going out, in-laws having some rough patches.  As I write this my vacation is coming to a close with the end of the week and I don’t feel I’ve rested as much as I should have, nor completed enough of the projects I wanted to.


The one thing I did complete was the block 3 Churn Dash and it at least turned out beautiful!IMG_0289

Starting with five sets of fabric I started making the nine squares.IMG_0290




Then turned them into stripsIMG_0291 and finally the square is complete!


Design Wall

IMG_0287Looking over the way quilting design is done has been one of the more interesting things I find about quilting.  There are computer programs, sketch tables, and an A-frame design station that can be used.  Recently my daughter “awarded” me with a quilt request, sent me her idea, and a whole lot of fabric.  To be honest, I was surprised and overjoyed with the request.

The Lotus is such a beautiful flower, but the art of reproducing a lifelike replica in fabric isn’t something I plan on tackling in the near future.  I’m still working out the bugs with quilting basics as will be mentioned shortly.  That flower was the central design that my daughter had wanted along with the Japanese themed fabric she sent me.

I wanted to start on it right away and really loved the fabric she had chosen.  But with anything that I make, I have to incorporate my taste and to this point my daughter gave me her blessing.

I spent the first six hours… that’s right, six hours, pouring over different design concepts.  Honestly, I could have spent a week trying to come up with a way to put her concept into the fabric but really wanted to get started.  After the six hours I finally came up with something that I fell in love with and hoped that she would too.

After the initial design concept, I needed to lay out the virtual pieces to see what the overall quilt would look like.  This, at least for me, is done in my head.  I then transfer the idea sketching it onto a piece of paper.  The first sketch is the central theme, the Lotus, then how it will be represented in the block, and finally how the blocks will be arrayed in the quilt.  That last step I did not photograph to keep it as a surprise for my daughter.

It’s at this point I’d like to mention that I am NO artist with pen and paper.  It makes me hesitant to even share what I have up on my design wall for fear that my daughter may see it and freak out.  If you’re reading this Amanda, the quilt looks much better than what’s on the design wall.  The squares are actually square, not the rectangles that I drew.

One of the things that took up most of the time was, of course, coming up with the dimensions of the blocks, the pieces within the blocks, and the quilt itself.  I had to redo the numbers multiple times to come up with numbers that would work.  Yes, I know there are programs as I mentioned that can help out with that, however I felt that doing this myself was imperative.  I am a member of the measure 60 times and cut once club, even then sometimes I have to fix a mistake.  The only minor hiccup I had…  I didn’t translate ALL those numbers to see if I had enough fabric.  No problem, design changed on the fly…

Let me know your thoughts on this process as you’ve experienced it…

Project Updates

At some point, which happened to be now, I wanted to take stock of where I am at and what I still felt needed to be accomplished.  I have finished so many different projects, but the year has already started spinning away from me.  Since I started this blog I have changed jobs twice and been part of three major projects at the companies I’ve worked for, the consequence of which is, not a lot of quilts were made.  Of course I was able to complete two this year, but that is way under what I had in mind originally.

The list of my current projects or to-do consists of the following:

A quilt for my brother, to be determined… Oh, the guilt, the guilt! He’s so wonderful and yet I still haven’t made one for him.

The new block of the month Thistleberry, Block 2 of 12 complete and posted.  If you hit the free stuff!! link you’ll see something new posted there…

Two flannel twin quilts for my nieces, fabric was purchased a year and a half ago… Update to this, I finally have a pattern that I like, now I just need to start them!

Another baby girl flower quilt, almost complete… this will be the third one of this design.  I’m keeping these behind at this point.  One is slated to go up on our wall (my wife’s request), but I have no plans for the other two.

The Ohio Star “Oh! Canada” quilt, finishing the last panel and it will be ready for the quilter finally!  Two years in the making…

I plan on updating this once a month to keep me honest about getting these done. I’m also re-dedicating myself to posting on a regular basis and answering any question others may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

Dipping a toe in Batiks

The elephant in the room…

I’m not a fan of Batik fabrics in quilts, being of the more traditional bent when it comes to how I want my quilts to look.  With that said, far be it from me to pass judgment without trying it.

The sticky wicket…

Knowing my predisposition regarding these materials, it took me a great deal of time to find a pattern that I could feel more than just lukewarm over.  Even the feel of the fabric was different from the cotton I normally use. I noticed while going through my choices at the local fabric store that I really couldn’t decide what would be best for the pattern that I had chosen.  If you’ve never felt batik fabric before, it has a feel of Papyrus to cotton’s paper which was new to me and gave me reason to hope.

Every cloud has a silver lining…

Setting this as a goal for myself has brought together more pieces to the quilting puzzle and has enabled me to learn new techniques.  Batik fabrics also have the advantage, at least for me, of sewing together far quicker and (straighter???) than any other fabrics that I have used.  I call it the “anti-flannel” for easy it is to sew together.  Each block in this quilt took such a long time and if you look you can see I cheated by using cornerstones.  I’m very happy with the final result.

Here is the finished product that turned out much better than I could have hoped for.


Do you NAME your Quilts?

What’s in a name?  A while back fortune smiled on me in the form of a quilter named Linda.  She has taught me so much, not just quilting techniques, but the nuanced questions she asked me from the first time I brought my quilts for her to perform her magic on.  She was never pushy when asking those leading questions such as;  what thread color would I like, or did I already have a pattern in mind.

One of the biggest shocks I received was in the form of some very innocent questions.  Would I be labeling the quilt, and for her “own” records… what was the name of the quilt to be.  (Sorry I ended that in a preposition!)  I told her the pattern name for the quilt that I’d made, but realized that my wife had used the same pattern for her quilt as well.

For my first quilt given to Linda she has the name down as “Sage Garden (Blue)” and Kay’s quilt is “Sage Garden (Red)”, when I applied that label my daughter had noted that it was the same colors as her Sally doll.  When the label was affixed to the quilt at long last it read:

Sally Doll Quilt
Pieced by Michael Lawrence
Quilted by Linda Scott

quilt label

My daughter Samantha was very proud and proceeded to name all of the quilts that she saw… I actually took her advice on the names she came up with.  It turns out she is very good at coming up with quilt names, though I’m still a little nervous at her preference in baby names.  Grandfather’s don’t get to decide though, our job is to love them even if the parents do pick funny names.

New Baby Blanket

Looking through various quilting magazines I searched for my next conquest but didn’t want to tie up my time with a large project.  I have several requests for quilts at this point but wanted to get a few quick ones stashed away in case I needed to send one as a gift.  I came across this pattern and fell in love with it right away.  To be completely honest though, I was looking for a pattern that would include some fabric that I already had.  Using up part of the existing stash was definitely a prerequisite for the pattern.

The pattern is only about 40” X 40” which makes this more of a baby blanket size, but took a lot longer to put together than I thought it would.

Let me know what you think!!  It will be sent out for quilting soon.

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Some of the stages of construction to the finished quilt top.IMG_0804

IMG_0824 - Copy


Persian Plum gone Wrong

The sabbatical is over and I’m making some changes to my site in the near future.  It is said that the only constant is change and with that I’ve decided to change from my slothful nature and get back to posting what I’ve been up to.

All of the monthly blocks of the Persian Plum block of the month square are completed.  When I opened the setting kit it was with a lot of trepidation.  As I flipped through the fabric I was extremely disappointed that some of the fabric hadn’t been cut properly.  I promised that I wouldn’t go off on a rant about it and proceeded to just make it work.  It was so disheartening that I have taken a lot of time to put this together only to find more work for myself to correct the manufacture’s mistakes.IMG_0787

Because of this and my general nature of needing to have multiple projects going at the same time, I completed what I’m calling my “Chopsticks Quilt” and am still plugging along with the “Oh Canada” quilt that I started the year before.  I found while going through fabric with my wife a mini-quilt that she started but hadn’t bound and asked that I be able to hand quilt it for her.  Yes, another project!!  It brightened my mood and I’m almost a third done with that one now.

Back to the Persian Plum however, she’s been helping me piece the other squares together in return for hand quilting her mini.  We’ve just about completed all of the other squares from the setting kit and should be finished piecing those this evening.  I’ll post up Blocks 11 and 12 over the next couple of days to give an idea of what the collection looks like.

Until next time,

The White Sale and the Sewing Room Remodel

The white sale

For this curiosity seeker the title has enabled me to compress the two things I wanted to write about into one topic, that of white and the impact it has on me and the trade of quilt making.

I have discovered within myself a great penchant for using white as a choice of fabrics.  I did not start out that way; in fact you could say that I avoided it through most of my initial quilt projects.  Having a great love of quilts, my wife and I purchased a lot of magazines, went to a lot of quilt shows, and visited a host of online sites to view finished quilts and patterns.

As I pointed out the quilts or patterns that I liked the most it became clear to me the thread of commonality among my choices, there was a lot of white fabric in my list of favorites.

I started using white in the quilts I was making and voila! I became happier with the finished quilts.  I honestly think it’s the stark contrast between colors, or how the white can extend a lighter colored block of fabric beyond its borders.

The white sale II

After shopping online and in stores I came to the conclusion that no one except for specialty stores were selling what we needed for the sewing room remodel.  The specialty shops were so far out of our price range it was incredible.  Yes, there products were perfect for use and would definitely improve anything we had in mind, but the cost was most definitely prohibitive.

Back to the drawing board I went searching hopelessly for something that would satisfy our space requirements and our pocket books.  IKEA had just what I had been hoping for on their website.  People may read this and say “DUH”, but I’ve never been to an IKEA store and no, I haven’t been living under a rock.  The problem with this store was that I had never been there but needed to see and measure each piece we were considering for purchase.

My great idea was to go there about noon on Saturday and wrap up no later than 2pm…  anyone who’s shopped at an IKEA store is laughing right about now.  I’m a good sport however and am laughing with them at my own ignorance.  For those of you who have never shopped there, well let me just refer to the phrase rats in a maze.  The cheese by the way isn’t along your journey through the place, just like a rats maze you’ll have to wait to reach the end before you can find satisfaction.

When we arrived home at something approaching 5pm, exhausted as I was Sunday was Mother’s day and I wasn’t going to have my wife waiting to use the new furniture when I could “easily” put it together that night!

The dread of messing something up washed over me as I opened the first box of parts and began assembly.  By the end of the first two hours, not only had I completed sewing table it had gone together so well hope sprang from within at the thought of the three other pieces of furniture waiting for assembly.

By midnight, all the pieces were assembled and positioned in the first of many configurations.

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This is what we were using!!


These are the new cabinets facing the entry wall

The new sewing tables and cutting board

The new sewing tables and cutting board


Quilting Room Remodel

I like many of my fellow quilters have a knack for collecting (hoarding) all things quilting (fabric, scissors, cutters, etc…).  This brings me to the love seat.  A love seat that I have to admit, I actually despised when my wife suggested we buy the living room set and bring it to our new home here in Texas.  I didn’t like the color, the fabric, and if you sat in it, you would be under the distinct impression that it wanted to throw you right back off.  After five years it was my turn to pick a new living room set.  At that point, even my wife admitted that the old couch and love seat were uncomfortable.

So, rather than trying to sell our old set and have someone pay to become uncomfortable in their own living room, I set the couch out on the curb.  When my wife saw the love seat still in the house, she ask why we weren’t setting it out as well.  I thought as we converted one of the bedrooms into a sewing room that we could use the love seat as a place to sit when only one of us was sewing (she scoffed at the idea).  I had this thought of curling up on the thing and being able to spend time chatting while the other person was sewing.

It became nothing of the sort…  At present, on the couch, are an assortment of different projects in the last stages of completion.  This has been its main function for over a year.  Lost to me was the fact that I could never be comfortable on it and would always sit across from her at my sewing station instead.  Time to let go and utilize the space for a more purposeful reason and to admit that yes, my wife was right… we should have gotten ride of it a long time ago.

An old leather swivel chair provides some comfort while sewing which I had to talk my wife into letting me keep even prior to the sewing room.  It sat in our bedroom for a while with nowhere else to store it.  When we turned the other bedroom into a sewing room, it had a new purpose, my sewing chair!  Score one for the hoarders!!  My wife has been using one of the dinning chairs that we kept from the old dinning set.  It is very uncomfortable and not the best idea that we’ve ever had.  As part of the room remodel however, our children are buying her a proper swivel chair for mother’s day.

I’ve seen many pictures of what some people have as their sewing/craft rooms and have to admit I’m jealous with the amount of space they have.  Because of the love seat and the distinct lack of square footage, our cutting is currently done on the coffee table  in the front room.  Our ironing station is set up and taken down in the hallway, and our sewing is done on… you guessed it, a dinning room table that I moved into the sewing room when we bought a new dining room set.  The old dining table was on its last leg when it was replaced, well its last three legs to be more specific.  It has the unusual tendency to shimmy ever so slightly when we are sewing at the same time.  It’s a bit like sewing on a really great washing machine that is perpetually stuck on the spin cycle.

I’m finally ready to bid the love seat and dinning table goodbye and rearrange the room, replacing the old dinning table with two sewing tables, setting up a cutting station, ditching the love seat, and buying some shelving for the bare walls.  The ironing can then be set up in the sewing room and broken down when it isn’t needed.

Here is the before look of the room and I’ll post a picture after we’ve converted it into a friendlier space.

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Progress on the “Oh Canada!” Quilt

Oh Canada

Another labor of love that I’ve been able to enjoy piecing together.  I’m 4/7 the way done with the quilt top and yes the square at the bottom will mark the center of the quilt.  I’m very excited about piecing this two-color quilt.  I wanted to break it down just slightly to give an idea of what it’s like to put something like this together.  Not to scare anyone off, but more of the scope of this sort of project.

This quilt when finished will be composed of 49 blocks (7 rows of 7).  Each block has (5) 3 1/2″ squares and (16) 3 1/4″ triangles.  Put in perspective of the whole, it will contain 245 small squares, 196 each of red and white triangles, 31 bordering strips, and 4 pieces for the panels.  In the end I have planned to add 13 maple leaves of different color to give it a total piece count of 685 individual pieces.  I could be off on my count a little as I was doing the math a little quickly, but you get the idea.

When I start a quilt, I always start with a single block and don’t even necessarily allow myself to think about the above information as it  will quite literally stall the project before it begins.  I don’t even cut out the fabric for all of the pieces because of this.

This quilt, or more correctly the idea that started this quilt is now a year past, as is the first block I created for it.  My question for anyone out there is how do YOU eat an elephant?

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