Tag Archives: doll quilt

Backs and Maybe a Doll Quilt

Well, that took longer than my “soft” goal.  (All my goals are soft goals–definition: can be changed.) I’d thought to get to this point in a day. But it is such a boring couple of steps that I had to pause and read and cook and  and and . . .  But here they are, ready to be quilted, and that is the final step.

1 5 backs

I think making the quilts “envelope” style is supposed to be a short cut. But I am convinced there are no short cuts, only a shifting of where one spends time. There are still two seams around the periphery of the quilts; however, one does avoid cutting, stitching and pressing bias.  And you can make a smaller back. Two ways to conserve fabric. But cutting the back and batting and trimming it to size is more fiddly than cutting backing and batting larger than a quilt and trimming after it is quilted. Plus all the boring stuff is together, so it is even more boring. And add to that, five at once.

Flannel is preferred for the backs–I think it is a guild, not a fire fighter, criteria. The only flannel I purchases for these five quilts is the anchor print. It is left over from a longer piece that I used a year or so ago. The rest were donated by a friend.  They weren’t the colors or prints I’d normally go to for baby quilts, but I think they will do fine.  Black may be a bit much, but the cherry print lightens it up a bit as does the jungle print on the front. I do plan to wash the ones with red flannel with color catcher sheets on general principle; however, they had been prewashed and the white selvedge is still white.

I will probably have time to make the last lotto block into a doll quilt.

1 butterfly

I got out the cuddle fabric for the backing; I have enough for a 16 x 16 quilt, so I’ll add a 3-inch border.  I’ve already rejected the pale green in the above photo and tried several other colors. Leaning toward a dark orange at the moment. Or maybe green. The butterfly can either be on a flower or grass. I’m planning to shift entirely to baby quilts as soon as the cuddle fabric is gone.  I think there is enough for four more. It was gifted to guild for a project long ago and I volunteered to use the left overs.

Details about the fire fighters’ project and lotto in the previous post (here).

Linking with Needle and Thread Thursday.





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Toy and Joy

Some deadlines work for me–real ones. I’ve tried making fake deadlines to convince myself to work ahead. It is no use because myself knows better. Somewhere in October I had three of those self-made deadlines. Then I convinced myself that the coupon for a small discount on long arm quilting wasn’t enough to make me say, No, to events I wanted to attend. I convinced myself that the project with a real due date of January 31 had plenty of time. And I didn’t finish the Toy and Joy quilts in time to get them to last month’s meeting just in case the weather was bad this month. Luckily the weather is fine.

The meeting is tonight and the last baby quilt is now quilted. Five hours ahead of time.

Back in August, you saw most of the tops here. And earlier, the story of most of the blocks here.  There was a joke in one of my Indiana quilt guilds that a quilt could be shown at show-n-tell seven times. The history of the “rule” was that one member had actually shown seven stages of one quilt–that was before my time, so I didn’t get to see it. Thus, ~3 posts is showing restraint.

The first three are from the guild’s block of the month last year–I won three times. Only two (red-blue-gold, totally scrappy) made it to Toy and Joy quilts. The third (pink) is awaiting quilting.

The pastel block wasn’t bright enough to go with the other ‘totally scrappy’ blocks, so it became a doll quilt all by itself. (The doll quilt is about 20 x 20, the infant quilts 36 x 36.)

The doll quilt back was made from minkie scraps.


Yep, that stuff stretches.

And I had to extend one of the three other backs.


Silly me, I’d bought 3 yards of flannel for 3 36-inch tops. Then prewashed the flannel. Lesson learned. At least I had that cream strip to finish the third one off.

I did a big meander on all the quilts–the batting required quilting only every 8 inches.


Although plan A is to practice FMQ on charity quilts, sometimes quilts just need to be finished. So I don’t really call meandering practice. However, I am getting better at starting and stopping without a zig zag in the line, and my stitch is getting more even, so it isn’t wasted on the practice front.

The other quilt comes from Lotto blocks that I’ve won in the past. I love that heart block; however, it created an interesting design issue.


When I planned it, I had it laid out horizontally. However the heart looks better on point.


Had I been thinking ahead, I’d have made the tans parallel and the blues parallel for this orientation. Lesson learned. Think of the final orientation when designing.

11 pm, ETA: At guild tonight it was announced that our year’s contribution to Toy and Joy is 1889 doll and infant quilts.

I will be linking with Oh Scrap! and Let’s Make Baby Quilts (buttons in sidebar) and Scrap Happy; welcome visitors.

Shall I read a book or get to one of those other two projects?


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Block-of-the-Month Assembly

Three months out of the year I won the guild block-of-the-month pile–ending up with 26 after making only 15. Back in February, the pink ones quickly became a top (back made, but yet to be quilted). More recently I won the red-blue-gold nine and the totally scrappy six.  Along came a straggler that thought I had won pastels.

The straggler became a top for a doll quilt for the Toy and Joy project.

BOM pastel doll

I’ll be making doll/teddy bear quilts till the minky fabric is all used up, but the bag just doesn’t get empty. However, the fire fighters have requested more infant sized quilts (36 x 36). So I’ll shift my attention.

Nine 12-inch blocks easily make 36 x 36. Here are the red-blue-gold.

BOM red-blue-gold

The six block group required more thought. I laid out five.


I could use the sixth and make three more, or I could do something else. I thought and thought.

Once, long ago, I’d offered a challenge for people to send blocks with sides in any multiple of 3-inches. At the time I’d wanted to practice designing a quilt using variously sized blocks. What I didn’t anticipate was that without a color limitation, they wouldn’t play together even if I could arrange the space. I grouped them into color sets and put them aside. Maybe I should get them out. I arranged and rearranged the blue and white ones till I got four 12-inch blocks and added them in.

BOM plus 4- top

I decided it worked and sewed the top. The one remaining block will be combined with novelty fabric to become another doll/teddy bear quilt.

Now the two await backs.  I have multiple small pieces of flannel from which I’ll be making scrappy backs until it is gone. I have until the November or December meeting to finish these. Next in the stranded-block line up are the Foot Squared Freestyle (F2F) blocks–I still have to make my three as well as assemble blocks.

I’ll be linking with Let’s Make Baby Quilts (button in sidebar) when the link is available on Friday. And people visiting from that linky might also want to see the heart quilt on this blog entry, also a baby quilt.



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A Quilting Class and Two Doll Quilts

A couple Saturdays past, my local guild offered a workshop on Free Motion Quilting on a domestic machine with Christina Cameli. She would talk about strategies and designs and we would go do a couple rows trying them, then we’d repeat instruction/sewing for several rounds.  It wasn’t long before it occurred to me that I could turn a practice sampler into a doll quilt. The size was right.

doll quilt sampler

17 x 20

Down to the ribbon-candy row comes from the class. We had marked straight lines; at the bottom I didn’t bother. I can see I should bother. I also think ribbon candy would work out better if I drew in the middle line. Next time. The doll won’t care. I can’t decide if I like the square spirals in varying sizes or if I’d rather make them equal. I don’t love the three and four circles in the larger circle row, but after I did the large circles, they seemed too empty. I do like the pebbles above, both in the lines and in open space. And the long meander works up really fast. The circles-in-the-triangles row happened because we had just done a zig zag to test tension and then Christina showed us beads on a string.  I decided they didn’t need a separate row. I rather like it and may use it on another quilt someday.

I showed the quilted piece to a friend and mentioned the doll-quilt destination; she volunteered the “perfect” fabric.  Not that I don’t have fabric, but those big dots do fit well with the circle motifs. Too bad I didn’t have the end in mind at the beginning; I’d have used white thread for the workshop; it would have contrasted as well as the black.

I will be making more doll quilts this way–much better than a practice piece with no destination.

Our class prep had suggested four quilt sandwiches, and some of the more speedy quilters used all four; I did half of only one. I always knew I was a slow quilter, so this was no big surprise. But I was left with pieced batting in the size for doll quilts as well as class sandwiches. And I had a block ready to be made into a doll quilt.  (Some of you have seen the block before, here before the border was decided.) So more practice.

Here is a tip for quilting on pieced batting:

pinning tip

Note orange among purple

Luckily i had two colors of PinMoors so I put orange along the stitched batting line. (Ignore the orange flower pin; only the PinMoors are markers.) Even though I’d stitched the two pieces of batting together, I wanted the extra security of quilting over them. With marking the line, I was always reminded to quilt carefully when I came to it. I’ve also marked with a double line of pins when I didn’t have the two color option. And I have yet to try the tape for piecing batting–that is on my list next time I shop.

The floral print suggested small flowers in the quilting.

Flower meander

Flower meander

Christina had suggested various motifs to insert into a meander, and that seemed good for this quilt, flowers and leaves. I started with a flower to hide the beginning, and because it was tiny I slipped into small meandering. Since it was only 18 x 18 I continued small; however, I’ll be careful on a larger quilt to move right into a larger meander!

Here is the finish:


18 x 18

The binding is another story.  In the past I hadn’t paid much attention to fabric weave or thickness when looking for the right color solid, so this piece from my stash was a gaberdine. Well, my sewing machine balked at the multiple layers at the corners and the join. Maybe a denim needle would have helped. But it was easier to just stitch those few places by hand this time. Nowadays I am glad it is easier to find the right color in quilt weight fabrics!

Linking with  TGIFF and Finish it Up Friday. Tuesday I’ll link with FreeMotion by the River. And today (2/14/16 )with Free Motion Mavericks and Le Challenge where “roundness” is the theme and there is plenty of roundness in the quilting on the first piece (buttons in sidebar).





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The Last of the Doll Quilts for 2015

When guild meeting time came, I had 8 doll quilts finished and two to go, two that needed pieced backs. While working on them, I added two more.

map quilt

~24 x 24

First I found this scarf that I’d never decided what to do with. When I noticed it was doll quilt size, I had a plan. (I hope there is a child out there who likes bicycles or maps.)

Seems a one piece top deserves the most pieced back.

map quilt back

~24 x 24

(The dark colors blend too well with the sofa; it really is a square quilt.) The guild had been given the backing fabric for a previous project, and I’d taken the left overs.  The medium width strips are left from when I didn’t need the full width. The narrow strips are color samples that had been stapled to a card. One day I removed the staples, arranged the strips and sewed them into squares awaiting some future quilt. There are six more squares for some future use. For the quilting I followed various of the roads–sometimes creating my own. Good thing it was with stitches and not a car. That was the most detailed pieced back.

The other addition was from the Noah’s Ark panel–border prints to coordinate with the panel; however, only 18 inches wide. While I still had the coordinating scraps out, I decided to add another doll quilt.

Noah doll quilt

18 x 24

This top was narrow enough not to need piecing for the back. I tried quilting clamshell for the first time. Barely visible from the front–back shows it better.

clamshell quilting

As before, I tried it without marking. Either I decide I like the “primitive” look, or I’ll have to perfect my curves. And my estimation of width. The top row was too narrow for two, and too wide for the one row that I made.

I also practiced curves on the checkerboard centered quilt.

Checkerboard center

~24 x 24

The red and blue minkee fabrics allow bits of thread to be pulled through to the top–my thread for quilting was light gray. The quilting shows better from the back.

checkerboard back

It seemed I could either watch speed and stitch length or watch the curve, but not both at the same time. I quilted the flower as I remembered from a blog, and then went hunting for the blog. It was  Flower Power, by Lori Kennedy. (She may not appreciate being credited, since I didn’t remember it quite as she had demonstrated it.) I plan to continue practicing this flower on the next infant top that I quilt.

And last but not least, the four-patch block quilt.

4-patch front

24 x 24

As I’d may have mentioned previously, I had some 3 1/2 inch squares left over from my Urban Chickens quilt. I think this quilt got the best color matches for this print fabric. This one also got a pieced back.

back of

I did the cross hatch quilting with the walking foot, using the corners of the squares as guidelines.

I have enough minkee left to back 4-5 quilts for next year. It is nice and soft, but not really nice to work with. I’ll be glad not to be making more minkee lint on the floors (and furniture, and clothing, and and and) now that these quilts are finished.

I have a couple secret projects to work on, but am also hoping to finish one more infant quilt before meeting night (last chance for delivery this year). I have some time to work on it tonight.

Linking with Finish it up Friday and Free Motion Mavericks today and Oh Scrap! on Sunday (button in sidebar). And because the backs are improv, though minimally so–took strips the shape they came in; they were almost straight–and because I just found this new linky, linking with Ad Hoc Improv Quilters. (AHIQ)


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Doll Quilts

Eight doll quilts are finished. The other two require pieced backs and that will take a little longer. It would have been nice to have the minkee fuzz over with, but there will be one more day of it.

Only one got batting and real binding; the others were birthed. Much easier.

doll-hand dye

This is the class project from QuiltCon (more detail here).

I wasn’t able to wind a bobbin with invisible thread, so used a green that almost matched the green in the hand dye.  Instead of bringing the back to front in lieu of binding, I used this small floral that I found. Proportion really matters; it actually looked better when there was more of the floral fabric beside the piece. There is some of the light aqua in the hand dye but not much. I don’t suppose the doll will care.

Here is one of the big stitch flowers.

Big stitch

It will take practice and experimenting with and without a hoop. I do want to be able to add detail occasionally.

The other quilts got minkee backing and no batting (dolls don’t get cold). So the quilting was also minimal: organic wavy lines 4 inches apart, an off center zig zag, also four inches apart.  Some diagonal lines through squares.  None of these photographed well.

I’d thought to practice spirals, Plan A was to free hand the starting circle in the center 3 1/2-inch square. Then I realized a doll quilt didn’t need the close quilting I’d get if I used the walking foot to keep it going around. On to Plan B.

spiral top

15 x 15

I really hate marking, so I keep trying free hand. Could I maintain an even 1 1.2-inch spiral freehand?  Almost.

spiral back

Next time I’l try it without the aid of the 3 1/2-inch grid formed by the squares. I don’t think I could manage it free hand on a larger piece. The walking foot allows me to concentrate of direction without also having to think speed and stitch length. It worked well for each of the doll quilts. Experimenting is fun.


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Fall Retreat Projects

This weekend was the local guild fall retreat. I’d planned photos of the grounds and workroom, but was busy sewing and kept saying, “Tomorrow.” Today, the last tomorrow, it was raining.  (Here is the link to some official photos–it is a lovely setting.) In spite of all that focus, I brought home four untouched projects and another that was only partially completed.  I knew I was preparing more than I needed, but not that much more. If the projects didn’t have due dates, I’d keep the kits for the next retreat!

Alas if you are tired of the leader-ender 65 blocks. Here is a baby sized quilt top  made from 12 of them.

9-patch cornerstone setting

33 x 33

The original pattern I saw showed one-inch sashing; however, I needed more width, so I thought I’d try this setting. It was a little more fiddly than I was expecting. I’d wondered if it would be too busy; I don’t think so. The blocks are made from leaders and enders; however, the cornerstones were made in a day to get them finished. This will become an infant quilt for Toy and Joy when finished. Yep, it is that time of year again.

I worked on my three F2F blocks, but won’t show them till they make it to France.  They did win me the “International Belle Fabrique” award, however–the awards being a retreat tradition. The retreat leaders must have a great time coming up with the award topics!

Also I’d planned to make 10 doll quilts for the Toy and Joy project. One was already made up except for binding, so I took parts for 9 more. I had a bunch of 3 1/2 solid squares left over from last year’s Urban Chicken quilt. I had to work around the fact that squares came in sets of 4. I devised a 25 square checkerboard with a diagonal setting and used one or two additional squares in a “near” color for the line of five.

There is a fourth, an oops.

the oops

15 x15

When I realized I’d sewn two strips on the wrong side, I pondered the result and decided that it didn’t look bad enough to do any unsewing. The dot fabric was a fat quarter–I think one I had gotten as door prize at a previous retreat; it was enough for two small quilts.

I had some left over fabric from a backing, a Very. Large. Print. I’d ordered it online from a site that didn’t give a sense of scale with their photos, thinking it much smaller. It prompted the new minimal design–as few pieces as possible.

That setting was perfect for the amount left over from other backings. I love that animal-band print! Although once before I’d done some meticulous cutting to feature various instruments and animals, it was difficult given how close the figures were. So it too was a great candidate for this setting.

And finally an  alternating 4-patch setting.

Four-patch setting

24 x 24

This one helped use more of the squares than the strip setting, and I had two coordinating sets, so it could look planned.

Another plan was to finish up a year’s worth of BOMs; I finished three.

Since I was concentrating on time sensitive projects, this one got set aside as soon as November (earth tones) was finished. I pulled it out again at the end when there wasn’t time for another big project.

While it is great to get so much finished, that isn’t the main purpose of a quilt retreat. Meeting new guild members and getting to know others better, swapping stories while sewing–that is what it is about. And did I mention eating. The food was unbelievably good. It has always been good at Tilikum, but was much better this year. The guild plans three retreats a year–I usually make only the fall one.

Linking with Oh Scrap! and next month with Leaders and Enders Tuesday. Buttons in the sidebar.


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Class Project Becomes Doll Quilt

I signed up for Carol Friedlander’s Big Stitch class at QuiltCon. I’d registered too late to get into day classes, so I was pleased when they added some night classes. I’d become interested in big stitch–it adds just the right amount of interest sometimes. I’d wondered about starting, ending, and maintaining even stitches. It seemed to me that evenness would be harder large than small. I got the project out this week and started to work on it again. You can almost see the quilting in the full shot.

the fat quarter

We were to bring fat quarters; I’d brought two aqua ones. The man sitting beside me had brought two white ones to do double duty. He used them first in a fabric dying class then meant to big-stitch quilt them. When I admired this one, he admitted to not liking it much, and we swapped. I started out stitching along the dark lines, then decided it would be prudent to match thread and fabric as a beginner. So I began outlining “petals” of a “flower.” I finished one and started another in class. This detail view shows stitches except for where the flash washed them out.

Big stitch detail

And here is a back view.

back view

Oops. What looked like even stitches and spaces on the front doesn’t on the back. The only hint about sizing  in the class was that we could see if they looked even on the needle before pulling it through. Well, they had looked even. Here’s hoping that practice changes those small stitches and big spaces on the back. Carol taught stitching without a hoop and using a rocking stitch. I’m hoping the big puff is because I put it on the floor carelessly, and not that the back is going to be puckery.

I pondered what this project should become. Ah, fat quarters, the size is right for a doll quilt. With that thought, I decided it didn’t need more than two “flowers” to be hand quilted. So I finished the second one. I’m needing to see if my Featherweight will play nice with invisible thread, so I’ll try that for the rest of the quilting–design to be decided  when I sit down to do it. And I think I’ll fold the back to the front for binding. Lots of time. Doll quilts are not due till December; however, I’ll need the answer about invisible thread much sooner.

Linking with WIP Wednesday, Let’s Bee Social, and Needle and Thread Thursday. Buttons in the sidebar.


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Red-Blue-Yellow Doll Quilt and Others

The red-blue-yellow piece that I started here is now a completed top, and it is stitched to its Cuddle fabric back. The quilting will wait till the last two have been attached to their backs and I can change to red thread. No point in rethreading the needle more than I have to. Here is the top.

RYB top

20 x 20

I’m pleased with it. I’d miscalculated before, thinking it under 20 inches; since it measures 20, I’m not adding borders.

After I cut the remaining pieces needed and got them on the design wall, I moved a couple to get a better balance of color than I could “see” in my imagination. (“Visual designs need to be evaluated visually,” Elizabeth Barton (at least that is where I read it; it may be an axion.) )

Next I studied the sketch.

Graph paper sketch

Since I don’t like Y-seams, I added markings noting the units that could be combined in straight line stitching. I used it to guide transporting pieces to the sewing machine and the sewing itself. A time or two I’d have been confused without it.

As I started to contrast the quick sewing to the slower sewing for improv, I revised my thnking.  Both take planning, but at different points in the process. That this went together faster was an illusion, true only if I ignored the planning. Improv piecing shifts the design from one sitting to step-by-step cutting, measuring and evaluating. Sometime I’ll have to check my theory with a timer.

My plan was to make five doll quilts, ten if possible for the upcoming Toy N Joy event that the Firefighters sponsor as well as gifts for children rescued without their own toys.

truck star quilt

I have 13 tops (counting the red-blue-yellow one). This star uses the last square of the truck fabric left from a bunk quilt I’d made earlier. The flying geese made to form the star left me with “bonus” triangles that I made into pinwheels to go with the bear fabric that someone tossed my way at the quilt retreat.bear fabric tops

I had two other sources of pinwheels.  “Bonus” triangles from previous pink and green lotto blocks, and a little packet of already trimmed half-square-triangle blocks that I bought cheap at the Aurora Colony museum.

pink stars and pinwheels

All “bonus” triangles don’t end up in pinwheels; notice the pink triangle half border on the yellow star. And the yellow ones made a partial border for the red and white stars made from the Aurora packet.

red pinwheel tops

Of the thirteen tops, eight are finished and all but two are sewn to their backings. Quilting, as I said before, is being delayed. Quilting is stitch0-in-the-ditch. There is no batting to hold in place, so unquilted areas are rather large. I did not retake photos to show the quilting since it is so simple. The “fanciest” I got was wavy lines on the mostly aqua pinwheel quilt, but a tendency to pucker caused me to abandon that idea. Here is one photo of a quilted doll quilt.

yellow and green quilted doll quilt

It even has a pieced back: The piece of green wasn’t wide enough, but I had some color sample pieces. I wish the soft feel of the Cuddle fabric could be uploaded.

Doll quilts are fun because they work up so fast; however, they do not make much of a dent in the scrap pile!

ETA I’m joining up with Scraphappy Saturday. And NewFO link. Check out what others started.


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A Different Approach to Design (for me)

It all started with diving into my scraps to make kits for a charity. Some vintage red, yellow, and blue calico prints landed together on the table.

Now I don’t do much strip piecing and in the past did garment sewing, so my scraps are odd sizes and shapes. I decided to cut the largest possible, then keep cutting smaller till the scrap was used up. (Yes I saved some bits for crumbs later.)

Then I started to arrange the pieces on the design wall.

R Y B startI had two ways to go: design whatever size my scraps would make or pick a size and add solids (of which I have plenty). I started planning for adding solids, but it was too hard to visualize the end result.

Two things made designing by layout difficult: the odd way they “fit” because of added seam allowances–I lost track of real sizes and seam lines, and the blank spots. So I moved to graph paper and sketched options. To do this I had to commit to a size.

The above photo is one of the options–for a doll quilt 20 x 20.  I arranged the pieces I have according to the plan and counted up what I needed.  I can trim down some unused larger pieces and finish it mostly with scraps. The only addition will be a 2-inch border and the back.

Check out other peoples’ design walls at Patchwork Times.


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