Dad’s Alaska Quilt

I’m glad I made this quilt when I did, althought I doubt my Dad ever used it before he died. He wasn’t really a quilt kind of guy. Whatever. I am glad for me, that I made it for him. It was made with some wonderful batik fabric with bear and moose on them, and I found some perfect batik fabric like Alaska salmon, and added some pine trees left over from one of my very earliest quilts (which I haven’t yet photographed!)

The blocks are bear paw, alternating with this wonderful north woods fabric. Yeh, it’s a little busy. I love it anyway. If I had to do it over again, I would use a plain black as the alternating blocks, but still use the northwoods fabric on the border.

There is one block in there that bugs me. You know how some very good batik fabrics are almost identical front and back? I can see one block that is going the wrong way. Wrong in that in all the other blocks, the animals are facing the same direction, but in one block they are facing the opposite direction. Would you have noticed if I hadn’t pointed it out?

I am gathering my “babies” photos as fast as I can. I have run into the priest for whom I made a quilt, and put a prize-winning entry on the back side, as he loved Paris. I am remembering two other quilts nearby I will attempt to photograph before I leave here. Woo Hoooooo!

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Mom’s By the Sea Quilt

This is an early quilt from my love affair with Kaleidescope quilts. Although the quilt looks blue, it is predominantly purple in one corner, green in another, arctic ice in yet another and blue in one. The trick is to blend these colors and make them flow, at the same time creating a sea-like motion.

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I have done several variations on the sea quilts since. I have an entire shelf of fabrics of sea colors. My delight in the kaleidescopes is using the same piece of fabric in one place as a dark, and in another place as a light.

In the bottom left corner, I quilted sea grass. I hand appliqued fish and sea horses, and even an octopus on the finished top, then quilted in a huge octopus in the purple corner, (the appliqued octopus hints to the location) and sea horses in another spot, and swarms of fish in various other places. I don’t tell people about the quilting, I just leave it to them to discover it for themselves. Some do, some don’t. I always tell them there is a secret or two in every quilt.

You can see some octopus tentacles if you look closely, but it is hard to see the entire quilted octopus:
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My pre-digital camera photos of this quilt were taken on a clothesline in a small farming village in Germany. Gone! Gone forever!

Sweetheart Quilt

I know this pattern originally came from one of the Quilting magazines. As I never do anything the way I am told, I changed the block size and created my own quilting patterns to accomodate my growing machine quilting skills. This one his half hand quilted and half machine quilted.

I made it for my son, for the girl he would one day marry. Thanks be to God, he chose a wonderful woman, and I was delighted to send him the quilt to give to her. Then, I forgot it until I went to photograph the Seminole quilt, and found this quilt next to that! I wonder how many other quilts are out there that I can’t even remember?

When I teach this quilt, I show the class, and then fold it and ask what color it is. When they say “red and white” we look at the quilt again, to see the huge variety of colors that qualify as “red” in this quilt, all the way from deep purples to orang-y oranges, and the entire range of prints and solids in between. Scrap quilts are fun that way – they can fool the eye. And there is a real art to making sure the colors blend, and that no one color draws the eye and attracts too much attention to itself.

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Seminole Graduation Quilt

This was one of my very earliest quilts, and looking at it now, I am in total wonder at how carefully I worked on it.

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This pattern itself, sometimes called Bethlehem Star, sometimes called Lone Star (and more names, these are just the two I could remember!) is very complicated for a beginner. I used Quilts Quilts Quilts! one of my all time favorite books, to guide me in the making.

Then, I drew and quilted a Seminole in the bottom left quadrant, my son’s name, year of graduation and degrees in the bottom right quadrant, and some autumn leaves in the upper quadrants. Looking at it 8 years later, I am impressed at how hard it must have been for me, but I chose to do it. Woooo Hooooo on me! And hand quilting on black! Imagine!

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Bordered, of course, with my first efforts at Seminole piecing. It is at the same time attributable (I couldn’t have done it without the guidance of Quilts Quilts Quilts) and utterly original, with all the Seminole touches.

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Map Quilts Planning and Execution

I’ve made three map quilts – one seems to lead to another. The first is I Left My Heart in Africa, and I will put a photo up as soon as I can get one taken. The quilt is so huge that photographing it will require hanging it off a balcony – and it will take at least two people. It’s a big quilt.

When I asked my niece if she would ever like a quilt, she immediately said she knew just what she wanted, a Morocco quilt. She will photograph it next time she is home – it’s another photo that got lost in the last move, which is why I am putting all this online.

A local friend asked if I would do a map of Turkey for her, and I was happy to do it; she is a dear woman and . . . I like Turkey, too.

Thinking about a map quilt takes longer than actually doing it.

The very first thing is that you get an Atlas and some graph paper and do a basic outline of the country you are going to do – or continent, as in the case of Africa. Before you make the map, you need to know about how big you want the squares to be – for example, I needed 3 1/2 inch blocks for the Africa quilt to use some of the giraffe fabric I wanted to use, and that was the minimum I could make work.

Once you have drawn the country, you know how many squares you are going to need. I use only squares and half squares for the outline, and on Morocco, I made mountains using a stitch and flip technique.

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You will need a project wall to put the rows up on as you sew them. Every two rows sew together, and sew every two the the group above.

You need a lot of fabrics. Where there is sea, you need to have a variety of very lights, to go around the coastline, and a lot more mediums, and a good variety of darks. Tell your friends you will accept any and all scraps that can be used as water, from the very lightest colors to the very darkest.

(With the Africa quilt, friends came up with all kinds of great scraps, including some Egyptian scraps and African symbol scraps. Very cool.)

Where there is land, I use yellow/sand/beige, and, like the water, I have the lightest colors closest to the land mass. Countries surrounding the country you are highlighting get nothing but blah colors, so that the featured color stands out.

Around the edges of the country or continent, I use the darkest colors; the contrast between the dark and light makes the country pop out.

You’ll need to count the number of half square triangles that are land and sea, and the number of half square triangles that are land/land and prepare the half square triangles before you actually start assembling the quilt top.

I also count the land, half triangles and sea/other land squares and put the number in each row. Saves time.

If there are particular motifs you want to include, you have to make them first, unless you intend to applique them later. For the Turkey quilt, my friend wanted a single engine plane and a sailboat, which I made into a dhow. I added the protection against the evil eye and the hand of Fatima. Block them in on the graph.

I usually divide the graph into quarters, and I plan a dominant color for each sector. You will also want transition fabrics to get you from one color to the next.

If you have a large block of land or sea and you want to put something in it, you need to plan that ahead of time, too. In my neices Morocco quilt, there was a large desert area that I couldn’t do anything about (in a rectangular quilt) so I used slightly lighter squares and made a great big camel. I also quilted around it. I told her there was a camel in the quilt, but it was months before she found it – you had to be standing far enough away, and it would pop into view! So – have some fun with this.

Start cutting your squares. You aren’t going to cut the exact number you need, because you need to have lots and lots to choose from, so you cut and cut and cut so that you have masses of squares.

When you sit down to put together the quilt, figure out what dominant color group you will be starting with, and have those closest to you.

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As you finish each row, cross it off. As you start the next row, make sure there are no two identical squares next to each other, or above or below.

NE Corner
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NW Corner
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SW Corner
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SW Corner
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Sea shading from light to dark
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Land shading into Syria
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The quilting is easy – you stitch in the ditch on the landmass, and you can stitch waves or stipple or free motion in the sea and land.

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Finished project:
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