How Will I Piece the Quilt Together?

Perhaps some of you are wondering how I plan to piece all the orphan blocks together. I have made some similar quits in the past and learned a few lessons! This is a quilt I made for Great Nephew #2. I used a lot of novelty circus prints and sewed frames around them. And then I pieced them together. It was not fun, trying to make them all fit together.

Griffin's quilt

This is the next quilt that I made in the same vein. It’s funny animal prints, mostly by Nancy Wolff. This time I framed the animals as I liked with colored fabrics and then used a background fabric to sew them together. It was much easier to do and the neutral fabric hid some of the odd pieces.

My animal's quilt

So that is how I am approaching my Orphan Blocks Mash-Up. I have spent a lot of time moving the pieces around on the design wall and looking at the result and trying for a bit of balance. It can go together any number of ways, but now I am done fooling with it and working on getting this quilt top done! The first section I pieced is on at the bottom right of the quilt top. Early on I decided that the paper pieced flowers and leaf looked nice pieced around the appliquéd heart, and so it began.

Piecing start

And then I pieced the other two squares that I wanted to finish the bottom row. At this point, I took everything off the design wall including the backing, so that I could better see what I was doing. I have taken photographs every time I moved squares around, so I have references and won’t forget what the plan is.

Bottom row completed

And so it goes, trying to fit two or three pieces at a time, like a puzzle. I have been working away, doing a small section each day. I am close to being done, and here’s where it frankly gets ugly. That last row is going to be a bear to piece. I will cut the background pieces a lot larger and trim and measure and trim and …

Ugly piecing!

This top certainly won’t be the flattest one I’ve ever made because of all the partial seam piecing, but hopefully my skillful quilting will save the day. ;-D

Blue Plaid Basket Square Re-Do

Though I never limit myself to using only 4 or 5 fabrics for a sampler quilt (which was traditional to do years ago), I do like to have some pattern repetition to hold the quilt together. Plaids and stripes stand out, to my eyes, and so I like to make sure that I use a pattern like that several times. The blue plaid fabric in this basket square is also in a Dresden plate square I’m using and the fabric is nowhere to be found on the shelves. The square also has a yellow dotted background and I want it to be black and white – so –

Planning basket

– EQ7 to the rescue! I can draft patterns by hand on paper, but it’s nice to use a quilt software program like EQ7 to do the heavy lifting. Because I ripped the entire square apart, I wanted the pattern to be smaller to make sure that I had enough of the plaid fabric, so the square is now 9.5″ finished. And isn’t this pattern, exported from EQ7, so cute?

5 patch flower basket

Here is the re-sewn basket square. That was quick and easy!

Basket re-do


Too Many Moving Pieces Quilt!

It’s always an exciting day when a quilt is finished. And completely finished, binding, label and washing is all done and the quilt is hung! Though I cropped this photo, I hung the quilt in the studio where you can see it as you walk down the hall. It looks very nice against the beautiful pink walls.

Too Many Moving Pieces quilt completed

The first job when I finished quilting was to square up the quilt. As I said, I was in over my head and there was a good bit that needed to be trimmed; “funny edges”, stars that didn’t work out and lots of bias gone bad. Check out  the outside edge on the top below – – – it’s ugly!

Too Many Moving Pieces edges

I did the initial trimming on my table mat, and then I moved the quilt to the floor to check that it was square. It wasn’t and it took several tries to get it all (fairly) even and parallel. This is one of those times I wish I had a black and white tile floor like many quilters to to help in this process, but taping several cutting mats together worked pretty well.

Lots of trimming

I wasn’t sure what I was thinking for a binding, so I dug around in the batik stash and actually found the splotchy batik that I used in several stars. It seemed like a good choice to hold the piece together. When the binding and label were sewed, I was so anxious to wash the quilt. Not only did it have a billion holes from all the quilting I ripped out, but it was covered in cat hair. I don’t know how that happened as I make a great effort to keep quilts away from my darlings.

Here is a close up of the pale, pale flying geese. I didn’t realize how light they were until I hung it…you can barely see them.

Too Many Moving Pieces detail

I’m very pleased and wondering what quilt to work on next…

A Quilt Name & Some Progress

Coming up with names for my quilts is something I really enjoy doing, and when nothing comes to mind, it bothers me. Interestingly enough, I find that naming a quilt early in the creative process helps me with the colors or design. When I take a class with someone, I generally refer to it as something like  “the Gail Garber class quilt”, which was what I called this quilt was for some time.

Too Many Moving Pieces sewing

And then it came to me –

As part of his job, Peter develops training courses. When things aren’t going quite right, he’ll say, “There are too many moving pieces”, meaning in a business sense that a lot of things can go wrong – or perhaps aren’t well enough thought-out. The words popped in my head one day when I was trying to invisibly sew a seam that had come undone while I was quilting the top. I only designed one of the stars in the class and that was fairly straight forward. I came home and added flying geese and many more stars and trying to figure out how to piece everything together gave me fits; it was a bit over my skill level…and so it seemed a good name for this quilt.

I started this quilt top in a Gail Garber class on March 9, 2012. Last January I pulled it out of the closet planning to quilt it in time to enter my guild’s show in March. After all the relocation and related distractions, I was seriously committed to trying to figure out how to use the Bernina 820 and do some good quilting. It was not to be and I won’t bore you again with a Bernina rant!  (I just looked over my posts from last year and I did not comment much on my difficulties. I think I was so upset that I couldn’t discuss it.) Since the Sweet 16 was shipped to me in November, I have been wound up with The Holidays and have spent very little time using it, so I needed to find something to experiment on.

This quilt-in-progress seemed like a good project to work on since it’s really ruined and I can’t mess it up anymore than it has been. Last February I put it away in a huff and yesterday I had to carefully examine it to remember what thread I was using. The Bernina was so fussy that I tried many kinds of threads before I found two that seemed to work. Usually I wrap the quilt up with the threads I am using, but I was pretty angry. I had some places where thread needed to be ripped out (because the quilting was so awful looking) and when I got going, I ripped out a lot. There were also lots of threads to weave into the quilt. (Perfect football watching work!)

Ending threads

There actually isn’t much left to quilt, so if all goes well, I will have the first finish of The New Year soon…


Tommy Lee Turkey Top Completed!

Thanks for yesterday’s comments, both publicly and privately! I got up to the studio this morning and studied Tommy Lee for a while… In the end, at the last possible moment, I did remove the two lighter browns and for the third time, added some very dark values. Now I’m not sure that the dark greens under his body work….I meant it to look like a shadow. But I’m not pulling that out.

One more seam

This photo shows him hot off the sewing machine and pressed as well as could be done.

Paper still behind the top

With freezer paper piecing, you actually sew beside the paper so it is easy to remove – a real plus as it is easy to get rid of a section that I don’t like by simply pulling off the paper pattern. (Here’s a nice tutorial, should you be interested.) When I was sure everything was as I wanted it, I removed the papers and pressed again. You can see why the pressing becomes more and more difficult…

Removing the paper


Ta da! Here he is, free of paper, steamed and fairly smooth. Next up is deciding whether he needs a border. And of course I need to square up the sides and think about the quilting. First finished top of the year, ;-D

Tommy Lee Turkey Top


Turkey Quilt Top Progress

If Tommy Lee Turkey had eyes, the poor guy would have been glaring at me each time I entered the studio and ignored him! I started him November 22 and really planned on having the top done for Thanksgiving. But I was diverted, and diverted. So now that it’s the New Year and my time is my own, he moved to the top of the to do list.

If you look at the last post, you can see that I’ve had to work on the large center area. I really thought there was a day or two of work to do, but I’ve been sewing on it for the better part of three days. Because I chose to make a different breed than the pattern suggested, I had to figure out what was happening with the feather colors in each area; I’d look at the pattern and then at a photo of a Bourbon Red Turkey. The outer tail feathers were easy to do, but then it took me a bit more ripping out for me to realize that the colors keep spiraling around. A color out-of-place made the tail look odd.

I saved the face area for last. Turkeys have interesting colored faces; they are milky white/blue/pink. Here’s a section using a funny pink batik and it looks okay. But what about the two lighter browns on his back? Hmmmmm….. Does it look like he has a jacket or a vest on? This picture shows the second set of colors I have tried.

Pink neck

Here you can see that all the smaller units are pieced and now it’s time to sew the large sections together. What about those two browns – still debating! That’s all for today – I am worn out.

Sewing big pieces





Piecing a Turkey: A Good Looking Breast!

The Bourbon Red turkey has white wing tips and I chose some creamy beiges for them. And as I mentioned, I divided up some of the ground sections so that I could use more fabrics for interest and texture.

Wing tips

I am happy with the grass fabrics I’m using, but today I auditioned some possibilities for the sky. I want a watery sort of Fall sky and these blues look good to me. The beiges I used for the wing tips might not have enough contrast, so perhaps when I sew the outer ring on the tail feathers I should select whiter whites.

Sky possibilities

The next section is an important one; it includes some sky and the all important breast, which is a large area and will start to define the bird’s color. Once I decide I like those browns, then I can color the tail feathers. If you look back at the design, the colors are in sequence so it will be easy going.

The breast!

He’s starting to look like a turkey – yippee!

{And now I must stop for today because the trainer for my new Sweet 16 is coming!!!}

Piecing a Turkey

I have been wanting to start something new in the studio but trying not to – – – I do have a lot of UFO’s. Then I came across this turkey pattern that I have had forever. This certainly is turkey season and an appropriate time to work on him.

Turkey pattern

The photograph of the completed project (as the title says!) shows a wild turkey, who has some black and white areas and some browns. I have a lot of browns left over from various Colorado quilts and really wanted to use them. So I started a little online research pertaining to turkey breeds. It turns out that there are some spectacularly colored birds. Along the way I discovered that the story of Benjamin Franklin wanting the National Bird to be a turkey is a myth. Here is quite a fun article about the topic with an excerpt from Ben himself weighing in on the “character” of a bald eagle!!!

But getting back to the turkey breeds, I think my favorite is the White Holland, but I don’t want to try to piece him…so I have chosen the Bourbon Red. He is a lovely guy with lots of brown in his body and white tips on his wings and tail fan. We’ll see how that looks. {Perhaps this turkey will end up being a special breed only found on the shores of Lake Robinson.}

This is a turkey I saw when I was at Sauder Village some years ago. He is a black turkey but that name does not do him justice. The many colors in his feathers were absolutely iridescent in the hot Summer sun. When I went over to the enclosure, all the turkeys were inside. I was disappointed, but then they started coming out. This guy walked over to me and fanned out his tail. Puffing up all those feathers makes a noise {!!!) perhaps like a feather fan opening, a p-f-f-f-f. Those guys absolutely knew how amazing they were.

Sauder Village turkey

This guy walked by me and swung his head. Look at his snood! Did you know that thing is called a snood? Here’s a guide to the parts of a turkey. I discovered that the red stuff is called caruncle, not the wattle. The wattle is right underneath the chin. {There will be a test on this next Thursday.}


Back to the task at hand. The packet includes a paper piecing pattern and the directions indicate that I was to use the thick white paper to piece on. That will be unpleasant to do, so I am transferring the pattern on to freezer paper, as I piece each area.

Freezer paper pattern


I wanted to start piecing the head and caruncle, but decided to “back into” the design and work on the feet. I thought they might be red or orange, but they are a beige color. Unlike the pattern shown, I want to have grass and sky and picked out some fabrics that might work. I have also sub divided some of the background areas so that I can use more fabrics.

And here are his feet and some grass! This is so fun.

Turkey feet