Hello, there, quilt lovers! Happy FRIDAY! Do y'all realize that Christmas Eve is only two weeks away?! Hanukkah is over and done with for 2021, and Kwanzaa, Ōmisoka and New Year's Eve celebrations (and the resolutions of the new year) are sneaking up on us quickly. This will be my last time hosting TGIFF (Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday) in 2021! I'm looking forward to seeing what all of you have finished recently, whether it's a completely finished quilt or garment, a finished quilt top, or just a finished block. ALL finishes count! The link up is all the way at the bottom of today's blog post, because first I have a special finish of my own to share with you.
Alex's College Graduation Quilt
|90 x 93 Lazy Day Quilt from Quilts! Quilts! Quilts! book, 3rd ed. (affiliate link)|
This is my nephew Alex's college graduation quilt. He graduated this past June, and I tried to give him cash, but he asked for a quilt instead. 💓💓💓.
|Simple Piecing, Double Batting, & Modern Curves Extended Width E2E|
Of course, I wasn't able to attend his graduation in person thanks to Plague Protocol...
|Big Alex Graduates from UC San Diego, June of 2021|
I didn't want this to be another of my seven-year quilts, so I found this easy pattern in the book Quilts! Quilts! Quilts! by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, 3rd ed. (By the way, the 2nd edition of this book taught me to make my very first quilt -- I noticed the newer 3rd edition when browsing at Barnes & Noble and bought it because all of the projects have been updated to appeal to modern as well as traditional quilters, and the new projects looked like they would be great for quick gifts).
Alex was born two days before my wedding in 1998 and I really wanted to show you the picture of me holding his little infant self in my wedding gown at the reception, but alas -- that album is in the bookshelf BEHIND our Christmas tree and ain't nobody getting back there until Epiphany. So here are a couple of my other favorite Little Alex pictures that will have to do:
|Little Alex Plays Piano with Aunt Rebecca|
I think that one was taken in one of the common areas of my grandparents' assisted living apartment complex when we were all in Minnesota for their 50th wedding anniversary.
|Little Alex Dances with Aunt Rebecca at a Family Wedding|
Pretty sure that was my cousin Cory's wedding, so that photo would also have been taken in Minnesota (or Iowa?).
|Little Alex Reads Stories with Aunt Rebecca|
My sister Susan's family has always lived far away from us so I haven't been as much a part of Alex's life as I would have liked, but he has grown up to be a smart, funny, decent human being that I'm proud to call family. He moved back to Chicago after college in San Diego and is now living in his first adult-on-his-own apartment, and has rediscovered that Chicago is a lot COLDER than San Diego... 😅. When I asked him if he had any preferences for his quilt, he told me his sheets were dark red and he was COLD.
|Lazy Day Pattern + Moda Grunge Fabrics For the Win|
I started with a couple fat quarter packs of Moda Grunge fabrics (affiliate link) and I really wasn't very creative with the quilt top itself. I liked the sample quilt in the book and knew I'd get a similar vibe from my quilt using Grunge. You'll notice that I rebel against the unwritten rules about what colors can and can't go in a Man's Quilt. In my opinion, the unexpected pinkish purples mixed into an otherwise autumnal color palette inject a lot of energy into the quilt. More than worrying about making it "too feminine," I was more concerned with having enough grays, brown grays, and muted tones for the quilt to have more of a modern art feel than kindergarten romper room. Not sure how that landed, but I like it!
|Lazy Day Quilt with Modern Curves Quilting Design|
|Lazy Day Top Before Quilting|
See what a difference that quilting design makes? Those skinny strips are staggered and choppy in the way that the blocks are laid out, which is a big part of why this top went together faster than a lot of other patterns. No seams to match! The Modern Curves extended width quilting design from Anita Shackelford creates a fabulous illusion of movement, like the blocks are jostling in the waves. I've been dying to try that design since adding it to my library and, when I saw this pattern in my book, I knew immediately that it was going to be a match made in heaven!
|Double Layer Hobbs 80/20 Black and Natural Batting|
Since Big Alex the College Graduate is freezing his tushie off in cold Chicago, I went with a double layer of Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly batting for this bed quilt. I used Hobbs 80/20 in Black (affiliate link) for the top layer, to keep those deep, saturated jewel tone fabrics looking true, and I really should have used black batting against the dark batik backing as well because I regret seeing dots of off-white batting in the needle holes on the back of the quilt, even though I know they will close up the first time the quilt is washed. I ordered a whole roll of Hobbs 80/20 Black batting, by the way, so now I stock SEVEN different batting options for my quilting clients. Maybe a little excessive, but different battings really do yield dramatically different results. I don't believe in One Batting Suits All Quilts!
Some of you may be wondering why I didn't use my favorite Quilter's Dream Wool batting since I wanted this quilt to be extra-warm. Two reasons: First, Quilter's Dream Wool is awesome partly because the wool fibers of the batting are thermally bonded to one another with a tiny amount of low-melt polyester fibers. That is why Quilter's Dream Wool doesn't beard horrifically the way that less expensive wool battings do, and it's also why Quilter's Dream Wool doesn't shrink and felt when washed. However, those benefits come with slightly fussier care instructions. Cold water wash, and either low heat dryer or air drying of the finished quilt. If you put a Quilter's Dream Wool quilt in a too-warm or hot wash cycle, or dry it in a hot dryer, or God forbid try to iron the finished quilt, those low-melt polyester fibers will melt again and the loft of that wool batting will be flattened and ruined. Of course cold water wash, low heat dryer or air drying is ideal for ALL battings, but an 80/20 cotton/poly batting is not as easily destroyed if the quilt recipient ignores the washing instructions. Second, although I have begged and pleaded with Quilter's Dream to introduce a black or gray wool batting for use with dark colored fabrics, they deny the existence of black sheep and give me lame excuses about having to dye the wool black and not enough demand blah blah blah... So, Hobbs 80/20 Black was my best option. That 20% poly gives a bit more warmth than a 100% cotton batting, and with a double layer of it, I think it should keep him plenty warm.
|King Tut 40 wt Variegated Cotton Thread in Lapis Lazuli|
I used King Tut 40 wt variegated cotton thread in color Lapis Lazuli in the needle, with a coordinating solid blue So Fine 50 wt matte polyester thread in the bobbin. I really wanted the quilting stitches to be as prominent as the piecing design for this quilt, and cotton takes dye SO beautifully. It's a lot pricier than polyester quilting thread, especially in the giant cones I buy for the long arm, but when it's on the right quilt it is TOTALLY worth it. Secrets for success would be a larger needle (I used a Schmetz size 110 Universal needle in my Bernina Q24), a couple drops of silicone thread lubricant (especially if you're quilting in winter with the heat on or in a dry climate, because low humidity can dry out cotton threads and make them more prone to breakage), and using a lighter weight bobbin thread so you don't have to crank your top tension super tight to pull up the bobbin thread. I also use a longer stitch length when quilting with heavier weight threads.
|Perfect Photo Location for This Quilt!|
I must say, I was delighted when I discovered that the benches at our neighborhood tennis court went so nicely with the colors in my quilt, AND the basketball court in the background was full of young men around my nephew's age, playing basketball.
|My Reluctant Photo Assistant|
Bernie likes to grumble at me during quilt photo shoots and say things like "You want me to do WHAT?! You want me to put it WHERE?!" He is not the world's most enthusiastic quilt photo assistant, but he never lets me down. I have told him that he HAS to help with quilt photos, because it was in our marriage vows. This is what the "plight thee my troth" part meant, and he should have asked about it before the ceremony if he didn't know what it meant because now he has already promised before God to hang quilts from strange places for all of eternity, 'til death do us part. (And don't you DARE tell him otherwise!)
Two other quick finishes I wanted to share with you, both Christmas gifts that clients brought me for quilting. Although I have lots of different snowflake-themed quilting designs to choose from, Olivia and Julie happened to both select the same design, Anne Bright's Snow Crystals B2B.
Olivia's Grinch Advent Calendar
|Olivia's 24 x 35 Grinch Advent Panel with Snow Crystals B2B Quilting Design|
This How the Grinch Stole Christmas fabric panel is designed to be made into an Advent calendar, with numbered fabric ornaments that attach to the tree after quilting. If you can't find this in your local quilt shop, I did find some available from Etsy sellers here (affiliate link). I suggested the Snow Crystals B2B design for this panel because it complemented the mid-century Dr. Seuss drawing style so well, and I wanted the quilting to feel like part of the illustration printed on the fabric rather than fighting with it. I scaled the quilting design at an 8" pattern height, smaller than I normally would go with this design, in order to match the scale of the snowflakes printed on the fabric. I used Glide thread in White and Olivia brought me a piece of leftover batting (cotton?) to use so I'm not sure exactly what it was. Isn't that cute?! Olivia promised to send me a photo of the finished Advent calendar once she has the panel bound and the ornaments made.
Julie's Modern Christmas Tree Throw
|Same Quilting Design on Julie's 57 x 69 Those Trees Christmas Throw Quilt|
My client Julie's quilt was made using the Those Trees pattern by Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic (affiliate link). Julie has such a great sense of style and I love the fun, minimalist quilts she brings me for quilting. I've seen several really cute versions of this pattern on Instagram and I love the wide open background space for showing off quilting designs! A couple things I did differently with Julie's quilt. First, we used Quilter's Dream Wool batting, which is what gives the quilt it's fabulous puffy loft and dimensional texture, helping to create the illusion that this forest of trees is blanketed with snow. We also used Superior's Metallic thread in Silver, which looks SO COOL in person even though I was not able to capture the shimmer of the metallic thread in my photos. In order to preserve the loft of the down and get nice definition to the snowflakes with a longer stitch length, and because a larger scale felt more appropriate to the size of Julie's quilt and to the scale of the pieced trees, I set the pattern height of the quilting design at the 14" height recommended by the digital pattern designer. By the way, some of the same tips for success apply with both metallic and heavy cotton threads like King Tut: Longer stitch length, larger needle eye, and thread lubricant, but for different reasons. The silicone thread lubricant helps metallic thread by reducing the friction and heat from high speed stitching that can cause metallic threads to snarl and break, and the longer stitch length is because metallic thread looks prettier when there are longer flat stitches reflecting light on the surface of the quilt. However, I tighten my needle tension for that King Tut cotton thread, and I reduce my needle tension (by a LOT) and slow down the machine when I'm quilting with metallic thread. When quilting with metallic threads, speed kills!
This is what Julie's quilt top looked like before quilting:
|Those Trees Top Before Quilting|
Okay, folks, I was supposed to publish this blog post six hours ago, so I'd better wrap this up! It's your turn to share YOUR recent finishes next, so please link up your recent finishes, be they complete finishes or milestones reached along the way. I'm looking forward to seeing what you've been working on! I'll be linking today's post with some of my favorite linky parties, which you can visit via the links in my blog sidebar. Happy holidays and happy sewing!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter
After seeing the finished quilt, I can't imagine any other design that would look so well. It is gorgeous and I'm sure it will go with his dark red sheets! Thanks for taking the time to put together such a good post. Tell Bernie that when I first saw that quilt hanging on the fence, I wondered how you got it up there. The bench looked too far away. Then in the next pic you showed Bernie. I would never be the one to tell him that quilt hanging wasn't part of the deal! Great work!
As usual, I was both entertained and educated. Great info on batting! I love your finish and the location. I giggled over Bernie's quilting responsibilities being incorporated into your wedding vows. Our poor Hubby's did not understand that when their wife decides she wants to quilt, that will affect them. Great post!
I still love your nephew's quilt! Has he seen it yet? What did he say -- is it warm enough? ;) I like your two customer quilts, too -- that quilting pattern really does enhance each one. :)
Your nephew Alex's quilt is beautiful. The quilting pattern is perfect and I like the range of color. It is a quilt that will be warm and brighten a gray day in Chicago! The customer quilts are great too! I like the panel and the modern trees with the metallic thread . . .wonderful!
Oh the quilting just makes that quilt wave (in a good way), how fun!
Absolutely love the quilting on Alex’s quilt! It reminds me of what Lorna does on her quilts. Wonderful movement! I love metallic threads and thicker ones too for quilting. How do our nephews nieces kids grow up so fast…
I cannot quit looking at Alex's quilt! It has to be one of my favorites, with the colors and that amazing quilting. Those undulating waves are so cool. You really rocked this one, Rebecca!
I scrolled back in my blog to find my finish - 2 gnome placemats finished! I love Alex's quilt and the way it is quilted is perfect. I'm sure he will be happy with it and love seeing the old photos - it is always fun to look at family photos
Great post - It is amazing how the quilting can make a quilt come alive! Hugs
Alex's quilt is awesome!! Love the colors and how the wavy quilt lines gives it such movement - almost looks 3D!! I'm sure he will treasure this most excellent gift!!
What a great quilt and lovely pictures of the two of you thru the years! I love your statement - didn't want it to be another 7 year quilt. I might have laughed at that --- only because I understand! Thanks for hosting TGIFF and Thanks for linking up to FONF ;-) Have a great week!
It is hard to believe that 2021 is coming to an end and Christmas will be here in no time. Alex's quilt is fabulous and will certainly keep him warm on those cold Chicago nights. Congratulations to you on your finish and to Alex on his graduation. Also thank you for hosting the link party. Have a great weekend.
The quilt for Alex is perfect! I'm sure he'll love it, and the quilting really accentuates the design.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE his quilt plus the tribute! Quilting made it even better but how can I make one and get that quilting on my tiny 1630 ? Anyway my fave line was how he grew into a decent human being... yea the world needs more of him's
Congratulations to Alex and I love the quilt you made for him. Fun design, brilliant fabrics and amazing quilting. I love the movement. All the other quilts are lovely too and gorgeous quilting.
Your Lazy Day quilt is fantastic! I love the deep colors of all the Grunge fabrics together, and the wavy motion of the quilting absolutely puts it over the top!!
Once again thanks for the longarm quilting tips for using various threads. I learn so much from reading your blog and I appreciate you sharing your knowledge with everyone. The wavy quilting on the quilt for your nephew makes the quilt look like it is waving in the wind. Very cool.
I love that quilting panto; I definitely need to go look for it. Thanks for sharing. Haha, I convinced my husband that the marriage vows included HIM doing the cooking and me doing the dishes and laundry. We're both satisfied with the arrangement.
Hi Rebecca, your quilt is really stunning. The colours and the quilting really make it pop. I'm sure that your clients will be thrilled with their quilts. Thanks for hosting TGIFF and have a good holiday season.
The quilting really made Alex's graduation quilt sing, Rebecca. LOVE it!!
It a fabulous young man’s quilt. Millennial’s don’t seem to have the biases that older people do! I’m sure he loved it! Aunt Rebecca, you did good!
What a story, everything going on in your studio and fam! Love the quilt, and quilting, of course! And the photos of your nephew and you growing up together!!! The quilting make the quilt look like it's flapping in the wind. Perfect for it's new home of the windy city!!! Great job by the quilt holder--I'm sure he's just putting on a tough-guy front!
The quilting design you chose for your nephew's quilt elevates it to masterpiece level. It caught my eye, especially because it is unexpected, yet works so well. Years of quilting (33 but who's counting) does allow to pick out the piecing from the quilting. Still I always learn something from reading your posts.
What your husband didn't understand what he signed up for? I am incredulous. :) I owe so much to my husband who has encouraged me and been my studio assistant for the last 33 years. Always good to have an extra pair of hands, the skills I need in an assistant and what I envy the most, his 6' 1" height to my 5' 3".
You do beautiful work - every single time. That is why you are my quilter of choice. Gorgeous finishes, heartwarming story, a handsome young man and darn you look so cute!!! A perfect read for my weekend :-)
Your quilting designs enhanced the beauty of the quilts so well. I love all of them!!!
I love this! I used that quilting pattern on an ombre quilt, with colors almost like this one. It has to be one of my favorites. I don't own that quilt pattern, but now I am thinking I need to get it, as it is one I really really really like. Thanks for hosting!
I love the optical illusion that the quilting creates on the graduation quilt. The modern Christmas tree quilt is also very interesting to me. One day I'm going to try a modern quilt. Thanks for the post.
Wow, I love this new quilt! Lovely fabrics, and the quilting make it really beautiful.
J'ai aussi ce livre, et je trouve ta version très belle, les couleurs sont magnifiques, et je suis sure que ton neveu va l'adorer !
Thanks for sharing, and linking up ;)
Oh, my goodness....You are good!! Soon it will be time for you to write a book!!!
I love the way the quilting makes your nephew's quilt look like it's waving in the breeze. I saw this done on a quilt at a show last spring, inside, and it had the same effect, so it's not that nephew's quilt is hanging outside in the breeze. Well done!
OH wow! The quilting absolutely makes this one so stunning!
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