PR: Calendar Quilt by Willowberry Lane

Calendar Quilt by Willowberry Lane: this is a stunner!

The piecing is done! Well, sort of (read on.)  This was my hand-pieced project for the past 9 months. This is a BOM, typically offered as a 12 month program, but my local quilt shop had a 6 month program. Each month I got two baskets, and in the last two months a lot of fabric for the center medallion and the sashing. I did not work on it for about two months, during my illness, but when I when back to work I worked exclusively on this pattern in order to catch up. 

A corner basket in the center medallion

I chose to join this BOM for several reasons. First of all the fabric combination, which is something I would never pick for myself. Then the fact I wanted a hand pieced project that would not bore me to death. The nice thing about this pattern is that every basket is different, and the difficult increases as the months go. I got an overdose of half-square triangles, too. I did not use the suggested BerriAngles, because since I was hand piecing I felt I was able to control the bias. 

I also got a lot of left over fabric. I planned my cutting very carefully. It  seems to me that patterns sometimes suggest the least efficient way to cut. I guess screw ups need to be taken into account… Still this is not a cheap BOM (is there such a thing?) so I made sure I got a good return. 

Speaking into screw ups… one thing I’ve learned was to check the designer’s website for errata. I noticed that the sashed basket  borders were not aligning with the center side stripes. I assumed it was my lack of precision, although in general I was pretty happy with the results. Only after all was said and done I learned that the stripes in the printed cutting instructions were wrong by 1/8″. It’s pretty obvious in the photo, and I know I’ll have to square it off after quilting. I might lose one of the vertical green stripes, sooo that’s why I’m considering it sort of finished. I have to do something about it, so I’ll sew the side pieces again. After all this work I cannot bring myself to accept this mistake. 

This is a simple one

I don't like this basket, I think it's weird

  One pleasant surprise to me was the tridimensional applique. I debated a lot which technique to use, and decided for this one which I had never tried. I was very skeptical for a long time. The amount of work is insane. I think I’ve spent about the same amount of time for the 4 corner baskets as I spent for the rest of the quilt. EVERY single piece of the flowers need to be made, and stitched in place. I typically love to work production style, but this time I finished one basket to see if the time spent would be worth its while. I have to say the result is outstanding, even with my mediocre applique skills! One thing I’ve changed is that I stitched in place all  the petals. The pattern suggests not to stitch the ends so that they move, but I did not feel comfortable about that. The stress during washing would make them weak wearing spots, and I was not about to see my work literally unravel. 

The 3D applique

  One does not realize how big this top is until it’s time to assemble. I opted for the queen size, which is a healthy 90×90 inches (the lap size is 70 inches square). When it came time to photograph this beauty I had to take it to my job where I have plenty of tackable surfaces. When I took the first two photos the results were really bad for such a nice piece. So the beautiful photos in this post are courtesy of my friend architect and photographer Mathew Fickett. Make sure to check out his Flicker account for some really great photography. 


And yet another basket...

I am very proud of this piece so far. Everyone that has seen it gasped at its beauty and complexity. I really want to be able to  quilt it, but will have to figure out the logistics of quilting such big piece. I only have a small kitchen table, so I’m considering going to my local quilt shop, or doing it at work. Overall I would definitely recommend this pattern, specially if you enjoy (as I do) what I call “long term relationship with a pattern”. The Monday following the end of it I did not know what to do with myself, but of course it’s never too hard to find something amazing to work on! 

The little 3D bud


PR: Birdie Sling Bag by Amy Butler

Cute Birdie!

I had intended to write a pattern review for the Birdie Sling bag, and had taken the pictures a few weeks before I got sick… I don’t remember all of the points I wanted to talk about, but there are a few that stuck with me and I feel are valid enough to share. When my local quilt shop offered a one day class on the Birdie I did some research online and found a bit of mixed opinions. Although in general people seemed very satisfied with the final product, not everyone agreed on the degree of difficulty, and on how clear the instructions really are. I typically read through the instructions prior to class, and I try to prep as much as I can, but my schedule that week did not allow for that, so I got to the class without even opening the pattern. I’m not sure if I had taken the time to carefully read the instructions my feelings at the class would have been different, but I have to say that this is not a pattern for a beginner in my opinion. There are a lot of steps, and preparation even before you sew a single stitch. At the end of the cutting stage you end up with quite a few pieces because you cut not only the fabrics, but a  lot of interfacing. I felt really lucky to be in that class… 

Details count: the magnetic closer

 If I were to make another one (and I plan on it, I actually bought the fabric shortly after the class), I would label all the pieces very carefully. Make sure to check Amy’s website for any corrections on the pattern (or any patter for that matter), and I think I would try to make one without so much interfacing in the handle, it does feel a bit stiff. I do love the size (and the two very generous pockets inside), although some people think it’s too big. Being the Bag Lady that I am, I think it’s just perfect! For this project I used my Viking 6440, and I definitely recommend a machine with free arm. 

Be careful when making the pleats. Position them symmetrically.

PR (pattern review): The Name Game

51Y88Mp5QHL__SS400_The Name Game is one of the many patterns in the “Fat Quarter Fonts” book, by Atkinson Design. The book describe a method of machine applique that is a crossover with paper piecing, where no fusibles are used. The patterns are designed for fat quarters and charm squares. The accompanying CD has 2 alphabets in two sizes, drawn in reverse. You can print the letters on foundation paper, than you layer the fabric for the letter, the background and the letter template all with the wrong side up. After pinning in place you just run the “sandwich” on your machine, following the lines on the paper. I made two quilt tops so far, one for my son and one for my niece. I used two very different methods, which I will describe further down.



I did the quilt top for my son’s quilt first.  I did not notice that the instructions tell you to cut 10″x10″ squares that will ultimately be cut to 9-1/2″ by 8-1/2″.  I can understand the background for the letters being cut larger to accommodate shifting while appliqueing but the other blocks generated a lot of waste pieces. Personally I stock my stash with 1/2 yard cuts so I got a lot of leftover fabric which I plan on turning into baby quilts to donate. I used all 100% cotton, and it’s an I Spy quilt.

For Kaiden’s letters I decided to use a satin stitch (basically a very tight zig-zag.) I used my Viking 6440 for the applique. For the piecing I used both the Viking and my black Singer 301. After you sating stitch you cut the letter as close as possible to the stitching. I have to say the final result is somewhat sloppy because there’s only so close one can cut to the letter before cutting into the stitches. I’m hoping that after the first wash the edges that are not stitched will fray off, and the finish will look better.





Lana’s quilt is all flannel. For her letters I opted for straight stitching along the lines of the letter, than I cut around that line leaving about 1/4″ of fabric. With the right side up I used an open zig-zag as the decorative stitch, but also to prevent the fabric from unraveling past that point. Once the quilt is washed the edges of the letters will fray for a very “fluffy” look.






Both quilts will have polyester batting since they will get washed a lot, and I did not want them to be too heavy. They will also have flannel backing for warmth in the New England winter. I bought flame resistant flannel for both, since that’s the part that will be in contact with the kid’s bodies.  I’m still deciding how I’m going to quilt them, but probably something very simple.

Because I chose to have a border of rectangles around Kaiden’s name, and he has a 6 letter name I think his quilt got to be a bit too big. If I were to make it again I’d let the name go from edge to edge. Lana’s quilt is a lot more manageable for a small child. I want them both to drag their quilts around, but I have a feeling my son will have a hard time once it’s done. Both absolutely love the top so far. When I brought my son’s top home (I took a full day class on a Saturday, so I was able to finish in about 6 hours), he would not let go of it. Thank goodness I zig-zagged all around, otherwise I would have no top left to quilt! He wrapped himself with it, and kept saying “Kaiden’s quilt, Kaiden’s quilt!”

Lana also loved her top, and I had a hard time getting it back from her. I will be buying the batting this week, so hopefully I can start quilting next weekend. My mother started one for my niece and she used variegated color thread and the result was stunning. I have to ask her for photos of it. I’m planning on making an alphabet quilt for my son, and I’ll probably use charm squares for this one. Overall a very nice and quick method to personalize not only a quilt, but also pillows, bags and anything fabric.