Hopeful Homemaker

nurturing hope in family life

November 12, 2014
by jennifer
2 Comments

Butterfly Quilt Top

It’s finished!  Hip hip hooray!  This quilt top spent far too many months sitting, but now is complete.  I stitched the borders on a couple of weeks ago and talked my husband and son into holding it up for a quick photo.  It’s huge!

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I’ll share more photos of this quilt after it’s quilted – there is no way I’m doing this one myself.  The color scheme is very similar to Tula Pink’s original, but I used fabrics from many different designers  to make it my own.  I really love how it looks and will be sure to share when it’s done!

I’m not doing too great on my 14 quilts in 2014 goal, but if you count quilt tops I’m close.  :)  It always feels good to get a project to this point, especially a project like this.  Yay!

Jennifer

November 11, 2014
by jennifer
11 Comments

Winged Blog Tour: Flight Quilt

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to Day 7 of the Winged Blog Tour.  I feel like one lucky girl to have this opportunity!  This blog tour celebrates the beautiful Winged fabric collection, designed by Bonnie Christine of Going Home To Roost.  There have been some fun and creative things made so far, including the lovely tote yesterday at May Chappell.

Bonnie’s fabrics have been among my favorites since the release of her first collection, Reminisce.  I made my Scrappy Hunter’s Star quilt from that line, and you can find my Sweet as Honey Hexagon Beehive mini quilt here.  This new Winged collection is no different.  The colors are vibrant and beautiful and the designs have a lot of movement to them, which made sewing with them a delight.

With that, let me introduce you to my Flight Quilt:

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I have always loved watching birds.  Not only are they beautiful, but they inspire in me a sense of potential.   Most of them are small and fragile, yet when they take flight they seem capable of anything.  They remind me that I, too, can do great things.  Even before I saw the fabrics in Bonnie’s collection, I loved what she had to say about them:

“this feeling of spreading one’s great wings and soaring is one that connects with me deeply. a long time ago i decided that i would pursue my dreams no matter what. i would make great sacrifices, journey into the unknown put my heart and soul on the line to live my creative dream. that is what winged is about. spreading your wings and flying into the unknown.”  – Bonnie Forkner

Her words resonate with me, as this theme has been much on my mind in recent months.  I believe her fabrics capture this idea beautifully and I wanted to sew something that would elevate my thoughts and remind me of my own potential – of the potential within each one of us.

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As I explored ideas for sewing with these fabrics I was drawn to the traditional circling sparrows block.   The problem was, most of them are quite small, designed for English Paper Piecing, or requiring a lot of Y seams.  I wanted to showcase the beautiful prints with a larger block and simpler construction, so I drafted a foundation piecing pattern that worked with my vision.   Each of the blocks in this quilt are 26 inches square, so they are big and beautiful and allow each fabric to shine!

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To unify the blocks I quilted the quilt in a spiral, lines about 1/2 inch apart.  This was my first time quilting this style and I enjoyed it immensely.  The spiral echoes the circling pattern of the “sparrows” in each block without competing with the fabrics.  The finished quilt measures approximately 52 inches square.

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The quilt back is a vintage sheet I purchased a while ago.  The birds sitting among blossom-covered branches were the perfect compliment to the quilt top, and the colors a great match!

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As the weather turns cold and blustery, these fabrics bring cheer to my heart.

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The green flyaway petalums print makes a perfect binding for this quilt.

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These photos may be my favorites; I love the cute little fingers of my daughter peeking over the edge of the bench.  She was so patient while I took photos, but was definitely feeling done by this point!

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As I was taking these pictures a bird lighted on a branch in the tree above.  The words of Victor Hugo came to mind:

“Be like the bird, Who
Halting in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him,
Yet sings
Knowing he hath wings.”

My wish today is that all of us will spread our wings, rejoice in the abilities we have, and soar a little higher.

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Many thanks to Bonnie for putting together this blog tour!  I’ve been hopping along with the schedule and seen some beautiful things.  Tomorrow’s stop will be with Jessica at Snickerdoodle Stew and I’m sure she’s got something awesome ready!

Thanks for visiting!
Jennifer

November 10, 2014
by jennifer
0 comments

Scout Quilt

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Meet my Scout quilt!  It’s been a year since I finished it, but somehow I managed not to share it here.

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The pattern for the quilt is Scout by Cluck Cluck Sew, and you can purchase it here.  It’s a strip pieced quilt and comes together very quickly. For my version I used mostly Art Gallery fabrics with a few other favorites added in.   Lots of saturated color and flowers in this one!

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For the backing, I took the leftover pieces of my strips and made them into a scrappy strip to add to my backing.  This large music notes print is an IKEA print that I stumbled upon.  I haven’t seen it there before or since, but it makes a great quilt back!  As you can see, I quilted it in a simple chevron pattern horizontally across the quilt.  Nothing fancy.

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The binding is a scrappy one and makes me smile.  I think it compliments the quilt well.

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Much as I loved it, I chose to gift this quilt to an old friend of mine, who also taught violin lessons to my daughters for a couple of years.  It felt like an appropriate gift of gratitude to offer her, especially with that quilt back!

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As the days grow short and the weather more blustery, I’m grateful for warm quilts to wrap around loved ones.  I really love this hobby!

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Thanks for visiting!

Jennifer

November 4, 2014
by jennifer
1 Comment

Friendship Star Mini Quilt

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I posted about the American Glory quilt top I pieced, and as I was working on it I wondered what the pattern would look like if it was smaller.  I also thought it would be interesting with a scrappy spin on the fabric choices, so I reduced the blocks and pulled out some scraps.

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This version required more planning and careful piecing, but I really like the results.  I started with my fabrics for the stars.  For each star I cut:

1 – 1.75 inch square (center square)
2 – 2.25 inch squares (HST squares)

The background fabric for these blocks required:

4 – 1.75 inch squares (corner pieces)
1 – 2.25 inch square (HST squares)

And finally, I needed:

1 – 2.25 inch square of the fabric I wanted to use for the stripe behind the star

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Next I decided to have each vertical strip be consistent, but to alter the fabrics in the strips.  I selected fabrics with grays and yellows in them, to offeset the bright colors of the stars. Where possible, I cut long strips and pieced them the same way I did in my large version of this quilt.  Once again, I used a tiny polka dot for the background.  These strips were all cut at 1.75 inches wide.  For strip piecing I cut them 18 inches long; where I had to find scraps I needed pieces that were 1.75″ wide by 4.25 inches long.  My mini quilt is made with 7 rows of 7 blocks, so some vertical columns needed 4 stripe blocks and others needed 3.  From each of these fabrics (the stripes) I also needed 3 or 4 – 2.25 inch squares for the half square triangles in the star block.

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Once the stripe blocks were finished, I placed everything where I wanted to be certain I was pairing the proper background stripe with each star to make the half square triangle blocks.

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I chain pieced as much as I could without confusing myself too much, and it came together fairly quickly.  I will say that the arranging of all the fabrics did make this version take much longer than the larger version did, where I had only two fabrics to worry about, but the results were worth it.  As with the larger quilt, I found it far simpler to piece the the top together in vertical rows.  Joining the rows together was fast with fewer seams to match because the stripes were already taken care of.  The results, however, were worth it!  I like this pattern much more in miniature – the negative space doesn’t bother me so much, and the stars really stand out against the more neutral stripes (another change from my first version).  These scraps are also a reminder of a special project, and of thoughts & feelings I don’t want to forget, so I’m glad to have them in this mini quilt.  It now hangs in my laundry room, where I’ve claimed a wall for hanging minis.

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I quilted it in loopy horizontal rows.  The backing is an alphabet print from Maude Asbury which I think compliments the Cotton + Steel fabrics nicely.

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Once again, a black and white binding is the perfect finish for this colorful project.

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This mini quilt measures almost 27 inches square.  Each block is 4.25″ square, so they’re nice and little!  This is the second mini quilt I’ve made, and I’ll admit that before I made one I wasn’t sure I thought they “counted” as a finished quilt (why do I do things like that?!?).  They seemed too small and easy.  Having made this mini quilt and my mini hexagon beehive quilt (one of my favorite projects ever!), I’ve learned that tiny means time, and both of these quilts took honest effort to make.  While the quilting of them is very quick, dealing with such little pieces requires patience and careful piecing for accurate results.  SO, they totally count!

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Hooray for a finish!

Jennifer

November 3, 2014
by jennifer
0 comments

“American Glory” Pattern Review

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I really enjoy my membership in the Utah County Modern Quilt Group (UCMQG).  You won’t find a nicer group of women anywhere, and it is always fun to see what everyone is making.  I feel like I’ve had very little time to sew in the past few months, so I haven’t been sharing much at our meetings.  In September I had the opportunity to pick a pattern/tutorial on the Moda Bakeshop site, make it and review the pattern.  We shared what we did at UCMQG.  I was assigned the holiday section of the website, and one of the first things I realized about that category is that really, the majority of the projects aren’t strictly “holiday” projects.  Most of them are made from holiday fabric, which is why they’re labeled as such, but the actual design could be used in many other ways.

Knowing I was very low on time for sewing, I chose something that looked really fast and simple to make.  This pattern comes from the 4th of July sub-category, and is called “American Glory.”

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If you check out the original post, you’ll see that the stars are a beautiful blue paisley, and the stripes are a red solid.  I was tempted to go in search of a lovely blue floral and replicate the color scheme of the quilt, but decided in the end to practice what I preach and try it in a non-holiday color scheme.  I’m really loving this green floral fabric by Jennifer Paganelli for JoAnn’s, so it was my starting point.  I found a small scale blue floral for the stripes and went to work.

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So, here’s my review:

1.  The pattern is well-written and easy to follow.

2.  This is a very fast project, made with only two kinds of blocks, especially with the adjustments I made in piecing it.  It would be a great first quilt for teaching someone the basics of quilting, and would also be a good introduction to half square triangles.  Learning to choose two fabric prints that pair well in color and scale would come with this project.    This would also make a really quick baby quilt (at 5 x 5 blocks).

3.  The more rows I added to the quilt, the more I liked it.  I ended with seven rows of seven blocks.  There is a lot of negative space in the quilt, which made me happy I used a tiny polka dot print instead of a solid.  For some reason I noticed the negative space more in my own project than I did in the photos on Moda Bakeshop.  I’m hoping that quilting it will make me like that more.

4.  IT’S MUCH FASTER AND EASIER TO PIECE THIS QUILT IN VERTICAL ROWS THAN IN HORIZONTAL ONES!  Make each vertical stripe separately and them sew them all together.  You’ll have fewer seams to match as you sew your rows together, making accuracy easier to achieve.

Hints:

1.  Sometimes the Moda Bakeshop tutorials don’t use the most effective fabric cuts, because they are designed to use Moda precuts.  I felt that this quilt fell into that category.  It called for a layer cake of both the stripe fabric (in my quilt, the blue stripes) and the background fabric.  However,  if you use layer cakes, you’re cutting two 3.5 inch strips from the ten inch square, leaving 3 inches of wasted fabric.  In my opinion, that is not the most effective use of fabric.  I think this quilt makes more sense using yardage, which was what I did.  Because I did that, I could do a lot of strip piecing.  Half of the blocks in the quilt were finished in just a few minutes by sewing together three strips and then cutting the blocks down to 9.5 inches square.  If it helps, I got 4 blocks out of every strip set (2 – 3.5″ strips x WOF background and 1 – 3.5″ strip x WOF blue).

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2.  I also chose to chain piece my friendship star blocks together, which helped with speed.

3. I chose to make my quilt to square in size because I wanted to have a star in every corner of the quilt.  I like the symmetry of it.

So, the top is done and backing & binding are waiting.  This will make a great play quilt for my daughters, who love to play outside with their neighborhood friends.  I’m also excited to practice my free motion quilting on this quilt top.

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I am grateful to have had an assignment and a deadline, which meant I did a little sewing!  Also, stay tuned to see another, miniature, scrappy version of this quilt – I really loved how it turned out!

Jennifer

October 27, 2014
by jennifer
2 Comments

Cup of Contentment

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The temperatures are slowly dropping.  My beloved cherry tree is, at last, shedding its leaves as the wind curls around its branches.  We wrapped up five soccer seasons and a football season on Saturday.  I baked a pumpkin dessert on Sunday.  My fall-ish quilts have been unpacked and tonight every one of them was wrapped around the body of a child as they snuggled together on couches and the floor listening to their Dad read aloud to them.  He read all of them to sleep except our almost 16 year old daughter, who sat laughing at the story.  She was dubious when we began, but now insists the book should be hers for the night so she can finish it.  Her obstacle is her father, who won’t surrender it to her keeping because he, too, wants to read ahead.  I’m soaking it all in – the sight of quilts everywhere – quilts I made – warming them all.  The sound of my littlest’s gentle breathing as she sleeps curled in a ball on my lap.  The feeling of being warm and safe and nourished while the dark and the cold deepen.  My husband’s voice as he reads aloud to his family.   Who cares about the shoes scattered all over the room?  This is heaven, right here, with my family.  A sentence from a book I’m currently reading came to mind:  “They were cups of acceptance.”

I feel like a cup of contentment.

Contentment has been a foreign feeling lately, at least where family management is concerned.  The last couple of months have been an exercise in survival with far too much time spent in the car driving children from practice to game to lesson to school and everything in between.   I cannot count the number of times I’ve tried to compose a paragraph – or even a sentence – that captures what it’s been like with all of the children in school, each of them experiencing their own life challenges and battles; me trying to be the glue and the cook and the housekeeper, the taxi, the secretary, the everything for all of them and still maintain some sense of my own personhood – without rambling on and on like a lunatic.  The only words I have to describe it somehow make it sound trivial, or like a badge, when really it represents the greatest effort of my life.  It’s my greatest effort at consecration, organization, humility and love; the very best I have to offer.  So it’s hard when it sounds so ridiculous, because I am giving it everything.  Of course, my everything is badly flawed, but it’s all I have to give.  I believe in the power and importance of the family.  I choose motherhood.  It brings all sorts of hidden costs I didn’t know I was choosing as well, but I do my best to take them in stride, make peace with them, and keep working.  And praying.  I’m praying my way through every single day.   Life has felt totally out of balance and the ironic thing is that every time I’m desperate for wisdom to fix it, on my knees praying to know what we can cut, the Lord usually gives me something more to do.  This month has been no different as a new assignment at church has come my way, pushing other worthy things aside.   My patience has been tried by coaches who change schedules without warning and by the occasional child who refuses to work with the schedule at all.  I have prayed for help and strength more times than I can count and repeatedly seen the Lord take 20 minutes of my life and expand them to fill far more than seems humanly possible.   I testify that His grace is, indeed, sufficient for the day.  Amazingly, He faints not and is not weary, and miraculously has a fresh supply of forgiveness for me every morning.  I have felt stretched, drained and empowered all at once.  I like knowing I have the capacity (with God’s help)  to do all of this, but hate the price it comes with.  I’m being more honest with myself in the tally this year, and there is much to consider and weigh.

Tonight I am asking nothing more of myself than to live in the moment.  Forgetting the unfinished tasks of motherhood, ignoring the piles of clutter.  A couple of weeks ago I had the strong feeling that we need to re-enthrone family read-aloud time in the evenings so we chose a new book and began.  It feels SO good.

Tomorrow’s demands are already at the door, clamouring for attention.  But tonight, I choose contentment.  And it’s glorious.

 

October 16, 2014
by jennifer
1 Comment

Sawtooth Quilt Top

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Last weekend the sudden need to eliminate a project in my life took hold, and the first thing I thought of was this Sawtooth quilt.  I cut the fabric in January of 2013, intending to use fabric from my stash and to complete a simple project in between more complex ones.  Despite the simplicity of it, I only managed to work on some half square triangles here and there without ever really committing myself to the project.  It’s been sitting in strips for over a year.  I got it out on Saturday thinking I had just 14 long seams to sew; it turned out I had sewn three strips – of 32 half square triangles – together wrong, so I ended up spending time with the seam ripper and the project took longer than I’d planned.

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But the quilt top is done!  Looking at these photos, I realize the quilt doesn’t have as much contrast as it appears to have when I’m working with the fabrics up close.  It won’t be a favorite quilt, but I’m sure it will be used and loved like all the others I make.   I like all the yellow and am really looking forward to quilting this one.  I’m going to practice feathers!  I also pieced the backing and binding with high hopes for finding time to quilt it very soon.

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Early this year my sister Kristen challenged me to finish 14 quilts in 2014.  It sounded reasonable at the time, but  I didn’t anticipate how demanding life would be this year, and so far I’ve only finished 5 projects.  I’d better work much faster if I’m going to reach my goal!

October 13, 2014
by jennifer
1 Comment

AMH Voile Quilt

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One of my best friends moved away this summer, something that’s always bittersweet.  I’m so thankful I know her and we were blessed to spend a lot of time together in the months before her move, which made it both harder and easier.

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I pulled out the voile quilt top that I pieced last year and decided it was the perfect thing to send with them to their new home.  The vibrant colors of the fabrics are a good combination of both our styles and backing it with the IKEA nummer fabric seemed a good choice.  I love the contrast and wish I wasn’t running out of that number fabric!  I have given away every quilt I’ve backed with it.

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The quilt is a simple patchwork design, comprised of 6″ (finished) squares and measures 90″ square.  Much as I love awesome quilt designs, there is something about patchwork that always makes me smile.  The best part of this quilt is the voile – such a soft, smooth hand and light weight.

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I quilted it myself in a simple cross hatch design on the diagonal through the center of each square and bound it in a black and white houndstooth print.   It feels good to have finished something, and even better to have sent it on it’s way!  It’s finish #5 for 2014.   I think I may need to get out the rest of that voile fabric and make another.

Have a great day!

October 12, 2014
by jennifer
2 Comments

Ordinary Shells

Each summer when our family visits the beach, the most restorative activity I look forward to is a solitary early morning walk on the beach.  This year it wasn’t until our last day of vacation that I was able to enjoy that time.  It fills me up in a way that nothing else does.  I love the low tide, the sky, the color of the water.   My thoughts slow down and I always find myself being tutored by the sea.

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Inevitably my eyes are drawn to the treasures near my feet as I make my way to the pier.  These shells aren’t unique or amazing yet I love them.  I’m drawn to their simplicity and their flaws.  I like the holes, the jagged edge, the discoloration.  I’m not bothered by their small size or the fact they’re so common.  A few of them are always tucked away in my pocket for safe-keeping, a reminder of all I learned on the walk.

I feel a kinship to the shells.  I, too, am common and flawed.  I have holes and jagged edges.  Like my shells, I bear the marks of my journey as I strive to fill my purpose in this life.   Surprisingly, it’s the imperfection in my shells that compels me to examine them so closely.  Their imperfections make them beautiful.

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The shells in this second photo are tiny – not quite 1/2 inch in diameter.   Hardly worth mentioning – and yet… they make me stop and think.

Today I read the words, “We are going to do something extraordinary.”  Emma Smith declared them in 1842 at a gathering of women that could hardly be called extraordinary by most standards.  But I love that she said it.  And the women gathered with her believed it.  That group of women became the Relief Society organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a women’s organization that now has more than 5.5 million members worldwide, and which has accomplished far more good in the way of humanitarian aid, relief and charity than the original members could have imagined.

Can I do something extraordinary?

In my office hangs a quote by David A. Bednar.  It says, “Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results.”

It’s funny how often we trick ourselves into thinking that life is about to get easier – right after we clear the next hurdle in our path.  It makes me smile today to remember how sure I was of that “fact” when I sent the children back to school in August.  Surprisingly – or perhaps I should say, not surprisingly, instead of getting easier it has felt that more is required of me every day than was required yesterday.  The stakes seem to get higher as well.  I have looked at that quote many times in the past 6 weeks, taken a deep breath, and done my best to do recognize what is right and then do it.  I mess up often, and there aren’t any results to see.  But deep inside I feel different.

It’s a pretty common thing for me to feel completely out of emotional energy long before the day is done.  The demands of my family at this stage are exciting but taxing.  Yet it never fails that a simple prayer for strength is answered as I move to the next task and soon enough the day is over and I realize the strength came.  It always comes.   The grace and power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ get me through.

I am like my shells.  Common, ordinary, flawed.  I often feel small as well.  But I am learning that the Master isn’t so bothered by these things as I’m inclined to believe.  He finds beauty and value in me despite them.  He knows the journey that has left it’s marks on me.  He works with me and in behalf of me.  He asks me to be faithful, diligent and consistent in my efforts to do what is right.  It’s simple and hard and amazing all at once.

“We are going to do something extraordinary.”

Do you believe it?  I do.

 

July 23, 2014
by jennifer
4 Comments

Tone It Down Quilt

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My Tone it Down quilt blocks have become finished quilt #3 for the year and given how busy life has been, it seems amazing that I’ve finished anything at all.

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I love this quilt for several reasons.  First, it has pieces of so many fabrics in it.  I love the scrappy look it has, and having so many little bits I love in one quilt makes me smile.  There’s also a distant memory that kept coming to mind as I worked on it.  Many years ago my mom’s sister made her a quilt and I remember looking at it in awe.  The pieces were so small and I remember wondering if there would ever be a time in my life when I would be capable of making something so complex.  Twenty (or more?) years later I look at all the little pieces of this quilt and think “maybe I’m a real quilter, after all.”

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The navy and green together remind me of an outfit my mom bought me in high school.  I was running for class president and we found the perfect thing for me to wear when I gave my speech.  I’ve always loved navy and green together but when I see this combination the first thing that comes to mind are those clothes.   I’m so glad navy is back in style.  I never stopped liking it.

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The backing was pieced in an attempt to “use it up” without worry of running out (something I’ve always struggled with).   The Pillow & Maxfield prints were a gift from my sister, the veggies print by Maude Asbury reminds me of Broadbent’s quilt shop where the Utah County Modern Quilt Group meets.  There’s a piece in there that I’ve had for at least 15 years because I loved it and couldn’t even explain why.  I have very little of Denyse Schmidt’s Katie Jump Rope but used it anyway.

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There is a funny story about one of the blocks in this quilt.  When I was half done I suddenly felt that I couldn’t bear to make another block.   I wanted to do something else, but this project had taken over my space and I’d committed myself to finish it.  I started working faster, trying to crank them out, but 97 pieces only go so fast, even when you’re chain piecing.  If you look carefully at the top right corner of the quilt, you’ll see in there a bright aqua fabric that’s not very “low volume.”  That was the block on the sewing table when my desire completely fled, so I fussy cut a little “keep calm and sew on” piece to swap into the block in place of what I had planned.  It would be the reminder block – the one that would make me smile when I remembered how badly I wanted to put it away.  In fact, when I had the quilt top finished the first thing my children wanted to do was find that square.

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What really makes me laugh about that block is the fact that on the top row of the block, the green pieces are upside down!  In my lack of enthusiasm I completely failed to notice that I pieced it incorrectly.  In fact, I didn’t notice it until the quilt was bound and finished and one day I looked at it and it was the ONLY thing I saw.  I guess that’s what happens when you look at something too much.  So there’s an imperfect block in there that will stay as it is, and the whole thing just makes me laugh. I guess a mistake like that is a great way to make sure your quilt is one of a kind!

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Every time I piece a quilt top I think to myself “I’ve got to have this one professionally quilted” because I love it so much.  And then I finish it and hang it in the closet and get back to work around the house.  I look at my children, how quickly we get holes in shoes, how much they eat, how much their activities cost, and remember that we’re in our most expensive years – and will yet be in this stage for a while.  So I go back to the quilt, baste it and take a deep breath, and do my best.  My quilting leaves much to be desired, but I’m trying and I’m slowly improving.  On this quilt I tried the loopy pattern that Denyse Schmidt made so popular with the release of her most recent book, Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration.  (A paragraph in that book provided me with a life lesson, shared here.)

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The rows vary in height (I did that on purpose) and it’s full of mistakes but I suppose that means it has even more of me in it.  For the binding I hunted down the diagonal navy stripe from Bonnie & Camille’s April Showers collection and it was the perfect thing.

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A finished quilt is better than a perfect quilt, and this beauty will always be a reminder to me of where I am right now – my skills, my tastes, the craziness of life, my sudden desire to quit, the popularity of low volume fabrics (a trend I’ve totally fallen for) and even a reminder of other quilters, well-known or not, whose work influence me at this point.  The evening walk we took as a family to take these photos and the afternoon my kids spent crawling all over it playing “I spy” are memories already wrapped up in it, too.

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Thanks so much for visiting!  For more information on the source of this pattern see this post.

Jennifer

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