Hello, I make quilts.

2014 was the last quilt I completed for myself; the last blog post I wrote too. I had made a few other commissions between then and now but really what I had poured my energy into was growing a baby; birthing said baby and now caring for that baby who is due to turn 1 at the end of the month.
Whew, that was a lot of energy I used in that whole process. Like can't hold two thoughts together at the same time kind of expending. I never shared this here but I had a hell of a time getting that baby in my womb. My creativity suffered because of it. My worth was tied to that struggle and now that I am well on the other side of it all I can say that right now I am right where I should be. I am tapping into my river beneath the river I knew was there my whole life; I just didn't know it's name.

Until now.

I jumped in this space again not knowing what I wanted to say or how it was going to come out, but trusting that what needs to be written will be written. I needed to tell you these things, to clear the air and crack open my truth and reveal myself anew. Because I make quilts. I make fucking awesome quilts that feed my need for creation and connection.

Last night was Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting under an almost full moon, under the guidance of Melissa Averinos who gave a presentation on her artistic journey. It was deep ya'll. It was another piece in the puzzle of this journey I am on. The room was on fire. The women were holding that space last night and it was lit.

So here comes the pretty pictures part and if you're still reading after you get the story of this quilt. Which is the story of me.











Vintage Dresden Improv began in March of 2015 from a bag of scraps my Aunt found for me at an estate sale. With no design intentions behind it I just stared making dreseden plates. I made full sized dresdens and then I found a pattern for mini-dresdens (gotten by signing up for Westwood Acres newsletter)  and made some of those. I cut the wedges based on the size of scraps I had. Then I made quite a few and had to figure out the center circle. As I was chatting with Cris Pera from PMQG she offered to teach me how to sew inset circles, so I did that. Then they were made and I was wondering what are these for? That's when the gingham started to creep in, a big burnt sienna piece was calling to me but I didn't pick up the phone. I went for my blue gingham stash, in all colors and scale. I sewed them together in a puzzle to create a large background for my dresdens. That's when the magic happened. Those little dresdens had a spot to fill, the bigger ones had their own space. Each dresden had a special spot. I machine appliqued them onto the background and quilted the top myself at Nancy Stovall's quilting studio - with a baby on my back in the Ergo. When I pulled it off the longarm and brought it home I knew it needed curved corners and a red gingham binding (thanks Nancy ;). The crowning touch was a block printed label set on the vintage red gingham.

This quilt really embodies me as a quilter, as a maker, an artist. The process, the materials, the colors, the design, the re-purposed fabrics and the time I took on those final touches. I am proud of this quilt and the community which helped make it and the space they gave me last night to share it in. I am holding onto this quilt, it's a part of my river now.

I'm gonna do me so hard from now on. I have found the goddess in me and she is not afraid.
press publish.
Kelly

A quilted finish: PMQG Medallion Quilt

As a 2014 officer for Portland Modern Quilt Guild I had the opportunity to work and collaborate with a bunch of amazing people. My fellow officers were awesome and I am happy to call them friends. One of the coolest things we did for the guild this year was to design a medallion quilt for an alternative to a block of the month program. It worked really well and we have almost 20 finished quilts hung up at our December party and I know there are more out there to be finished in 2015.



I'm gonna be honest here, if I wasn't an officer I probably wouldn't have taken this project on, but I am so happy that I did! The pace was just perfect with just one new boarder each month and I started it with the intention of it being just for me so I chose fabrics that were my favorite. 




Making this quilt throughout the year taught me so much about my own personal quilting style. I am now 100% sure about the colors that speak to me and patterns I'm drawn to. There are my favorite vintage fabrics in there and lots of DS Quilts; this quilt is so much me and I love it.



To finish I straight-line-quilted it with an all over grid 2" apart on the diagonals. And thanks to precise piecing lines match up! I backed it with a vintage sheet and a line of yellow gingham to bring it up to size. 



This is the first quilt to be able to live on our bed but for bittersweet reasons. Our kitty of 14 years passed away over Christmas. I was unable to put a quilt on the bed because she would claw things. It was in her final days I finished the binding and put the quilt on our bed. I know, sad face. 


My final quilt of 2014 turned out to be my best quilt ever and set me up nicely for 2015. Happy New Year! 

Cheers, 
Kelly



A quilted finish: Early Americana

Hello there, I will say it. It has been a while since I sat to write a blog post about my quilty endeavors. It is too much fun to just sew and there has been much to be sewn! Lots of quilts got finished and I hope to share them all in due time but the first and most rewarding was the quilt I made for my mother-in-law that she commission me to design and make.


It started last year she asked me to make her a queen sized quilt for her beautiful Amish sleigh bed. I happily accepted and we picked out a basic pattern (she was drawn to an Irish chain) and then we went to Fabric Depot and selected a palate of blue, green, red and tan. I choose the white to make the other shades pop.

To design the quilt I use a very basic program called Quilt! 1-2-3, it allows you to form a very traditional layout with blocks, sashing and borders. Once you have a layout you can select blocks to put in the quilt and then it gives you a cutting guide to make the block. Very simple but handy for designing and getting the quilt math right!

I slowly sewed the blocks together until I had a 90"x83" quilt top! The backing for the quilt was picked out on our trip to Fabric Depot but when I went there to buy it they didn't have the 9 yards I needed for a solid backing. Luckily the good folks at Fabric Depot ordered me up a new bolt. But before I could quilt it I had to de-thread the back. Necessary evils. Like flu shots or DMV stuff.

Quilting a gigantic quilt like this was not gonna happen on my trusty Viking 830. Another stroke of luck was that my wonderful friend and guild mate Nancy just happens to own an amazing quilting studio where I was able to rent time on a long arm machine! That was an experience I will not forget! Nancy helped me load it onto the quilt frame and I was ready to go!

When I went in to quilt - I had a plan. I had been researching quilting patterns and found one that fit the shape of the quilt white space and went well with a simple corner to corner filler pattern for the rest of the blocks. I really wanted those white middle blocks to shine in the quilting. I think I got it. My side fillers are really fun to, they remind me of 1950's future star shape.


I quilted it in 5 hours, just before my MIL's plan landed at PDX. I hurriedly made binding for it - in that great red French General by Moda - and spent our vacation with her stitching the binding down here and there. I think she saw how much time goes into a quilt. It is mind boggling what we do sometimes. But each stitching is worth the results.


She took it back home with her on the plane to NY and it now lives in her bedroom on that beautiful bed keeping her and her man nice and warm.


It feels nice to write again;
Cheers!

Kelly

Quilted Finish: QAL Value Play Pantone Quilt


Hello! I am usually excited but today I am really excited to share with you a finished quilt that does double duty as a Pantone Challenge Quilt and a Quilt with Me quilt along (QAL) finish! When I started the QAL I had no idea there was a radiant orchid Pantone Quilt Challenge happening in these same colors. How cool that purple is making it's way into modern quilting. Purple can be a hard color to work with but when paired with a neutral like grey it allows the colors to shine through. If you'd like to make this quilt then stay tuned I'll have all the links you need below. But for now enjoy the photos of my value play quilt!

Full Quilt Front

Quilt detail front

Quilt Back: pieced with leftover fabrics

Quilt Back Detail

Quilt Back and Scrappy Binding Detail:

Quilt Detail

Quilt and FMQ Detail: Echo Triangle Quilting



This quilt is a crib size measuring at 36" x 54". It will be listed in my Esty Shop. 
Thanks for looking and thank you to the Pantone Quilt Challenge Hostess:  On the Windy Side and Play Crafts

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid


Here is a list of all links to the QAL posts to make this quilt!

Cheers!

Kelly 

Quilt with Me: Backing, Basting, Quilting, Binding Tutorial Links

Hello There!

So I've got a lot of good information for you today on how to finish the Quilt Along Quilt - or any quilt for that matter! Since I started quilting my methods have changed and evolved for what works best for me and feels right. When I  wrote tutorials for finishing a quilt it worked for me but since I started this blog I have learned a lot and changed how I do things mostly due to reading other quilting blogs! So instead of just saying hey read what I wrote I wanted to add in other points of view and ways to do things. So here is a big list of links for backing, basting, quilting and binding you quilts. And if all else fails, Google it.

Blue Bird Sews: Making a quilt back

Jaybird Quilts: Pieced Backing Tutorial

Red Pepper Quilts: Basting and Batting

Oh, Fransson!: Making the Quilt Sandwich

Sew Mama Sew: Binding & Quilting Resources

Blue Bird Sews: Quilt Binding Tutorial

Heather Bailey: Continuous Quilt-Binding Tutorial

Cluck, Cluck, Sew: Machine Binding Tutorial

Stitched in Color: Zig Zag binding Tutorial 

Canoe Ridge Creations: Straight Line Quilting Tips

A Few Scraps: Free Motion Quilting

PS.  Look for a post with just photos for the quilt finish coming up quick!

Cheers!

Kelly

Quilt with Me: Sew those Rows into a Quilt

Hello there Quilt-Alongers! I have a tutorial for you, whew! Because I will confess I'm only days ahead of myself when I push that publish button! :) But that's okay because this quilt top is coming right along. I do love to see a quilt come together!


Oh and since I last shared with you I was told about the Pantone Challenge hosted by Adrianne from On the Windy Side and Anne from the Play-Crafts blog. The colors I am using are perfect, are you doing purple too? Well then let's join in!
2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

All right so now let's get back to the quilt along! By now the blocks, side units and top and bottom units are sewn together and you've been playing around with the  layout on your design wall, dinning room table, open floor space. Great! Let me show you how to sew up a diagonal set quilt because it really couldn't be easier!

First step is to get that layout just how you want it. Start with the main center blocks. The quilt goes three blocks across, then two blocks, then three, then two, then three, then two, then three. On point there are 4 blocks down.


 Once those are laid out start adding in the side/top/btm units to get a nice variety of patterns and colors.


Next you'll add the solid corner triangles that are cut from 2-8" squares. Add those only to the ends of the top/btm rows. You will add them to the top/btm side units once the rows are sewn together (see photo below). 


With all the blocks laid out how you want them it's time to sew the blocks and units together into rows. Begin by matching up the seams in the middle and pin out from there to the edges on each block. There will be six rows all together. Once the six rows are sewn then sew the rows to each other. 

Join rows to each other by again matching up seams first and then pinning to the edges. On the blocks and the rows the edges of the side and top/btm units will be a little overhang from the triangle (like a dog ear) and this is good, you'll want that to create a seam allowance. That is why you pin from the seam and work out to the edges so that bit will hang off. 



Here is the first row all sewn up and read to attach the corner triangle to finish off the edge.


Work slowly and carefully matching up all the seams and pinning a whole lot especially when sewing all the rows together. The bias edges are very forgiving when stretching seams to match them up but they are also be very fidgety so pin well! A tip for working with the bias is to starch the heck outta them to make them stiff and flat!


Waaa-laaa! A quilt top all sewn up! Hooray! Hooray! So if you've got a question or need clarification on any step of sewing the blocks and row or corners let me know! I'll be back next week to talk quilting, but first I have to stare at this little gal and see what way she wants to be quilted! 

And share with me what you're making! Flickr here IG: #bluebirdsewsQAL

Cheers!

Kelly 

week 1 here: fabric choices/values
week 2 here: cutting instructions

QAL with Blue Bird Sews

Quilt with Me: Cutting Squares for Diagonal Settings


Hello again and welcome to the second week of Quilting with Me where we talk about cutting and constructing all the half squares triangles (HST). And let me tell you, my brain kinda hurts because of it. When I make quilts it is from scratch in my head with a few roughs sketches and measurements. And most the time they are not on point.

Toying around with settings has been on my quilty want to list for a bit. A block can change so much when you flip it 45°; a little magic happens in that spin. Turns out magic takes some math but luckily there are a whole lot of resources out there to help a quilter navigate the numbers.

I learned about side setting triangles and what math to do for them. These are the triangles that fill in around blocks when set on point. I will not attempt to explain or say I fully understand it. I just plugged in some measurements, tried out a block, asked my mates at PMQG what I was doing wrong, then I went back to the sewing machine, made a tweak and Bam. Side setting triangles figured out, kinda. I wrote some stuff down and it works, how it works? Magic.


I learned a couple of really great techniques for HST making and trimming from the on-line quilt community. It has changed my world! The first is making HST four at a time and I used a tutorial from Christina Lane, The Sometimes Crafter, posted as a guest topic at Whipup. The method she describes is so simple and elegant, yielding 4 HST from two squares sewn together.

The second little trick I found is by Amy Smart, Diary of a Quilter. She stumbled upon the way to use an HST ruler from Quilt in a Day; which I happened to have already! With the ruler you can trim HST before opening them up for pressing and having to only cut once to trim! Yay! Check out both of these great techniques then come on back for fabric measurements and all the mathy goodness you can handle!

These are the measurements for a quilt that finishes just a bit bigger than crib size (36"x54"). The above method of making HST is what yields these measurements. If you're using another method then find finished HST size and amounts below. (unfinished measurements)

Inner 4-patch Blocks
8.5" squares : CUT 36 from various prints low/med/dark purple/grey/cream
Total: 5.5" : 72 HST

Side Setting Triangles
9" squares : CUT 6 from various prints
Total: 5.5" : 6 HST
Total: 5.875": 6 HST ---> 12 Quarter Square Triangle (QST)

Top and Bottom Setting Triangles
9" squares : CUT 4 from various prints
Total: 5.5" 4 HST
Total: 5.875" : 4 HST ---> seam ripper out these HST to make 8 QST

Corner Setting Triangles
8" squares: CUT 2 from solid fabric ---> cut those into 4 triangles

Hello, are you there? Oh wow, I almost blanked out typing all those up...... boring! Let's do the same sorta thing but with pictures and diagrams. So much better!


First up cut out squares for HST.

Next, match up squares...

Then sew around each set of squares to create 4 HST.


Next comes the three different kinds of blocks: Center 4 blocks - Side Triangles - Top/Btm Triangles

First the easy ones: Center 4 Blocks from 8 1/2" squares ---> 4 HST Trimmed to 5 1/2"



Then the tricky Side/Btm/Top Setting Triangles - for all triangles
From the 9" squares ---> 4 HST ---> cut 2 - 5 1/2" HST and 2 - 5 7/8" HST


For side setting triangles - Cut trimmed 5 7/8" HST into 2 QST


Side Setting Triangle Unit lined up like this - 


Top/Bottom Triangle Units  - Top and Bottom units use 1 - 5 1/2" HST and 2 - 5 7/8" deconstructed HST. Once HST are trimmed use your seam ripper to deconstruct the 5 7/8" HST and use them to sew up the top and bottom triangle units.



Okay there are all the units you'll need to sew up this quilt! Pretty straight forward right? If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will answer them there so we can all see what's happening.

Also share these with us! Tag them #bluebirdsewsQAL on IG or add them to the Flickr page.

I can't wait to see what you all are sewing! Next week I'll talk about how to sew the units together into rows and the a quilt top. That part is super easy! We're almost done with this quilt top! Hooray!

Cheers,

Kelly

ps. the first post from this series can be found here: Fabric Choice

QAL with Blue Bird Sews




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