Sunday, May 25, 2014

Anatomy of a Memory Quilt Part 2

The first thing I do when starting a memory quilt is to try and figure out what the middle will look like. My first memory quilts were really simple, I just stitched blocks of the same size together. After my parents quilt where all the pictures were all over the quilt, I decided that having the pictures just along the borders worked better. I could either quilt or have the center quilted using a long arm machine, and "stitch in the ditch" around the photos. This is faster, more professional looking and stands up better.

As I became more proficient, I have used different blocks and preprinted panels for the center of the quilt. Still adding the photos just along the edge. For this quilt I decided to cut strips of fabric, sew them together to create a block called a pinwheel. There is another type of pinwheel which uses half square triangles, but these will use triangles.

I cut the fabric into 2-1/2 inch strips and sew a light and dark strips together. A medium sized quilt will usually need from 30 to 60 strips. 

After the strips are sewn together they are pressed open and cut into blocks. Depending on the size I can usually get four or five blocks out of each strip.

Four of the same fabric blocks are sew together to make larger blocks. When complete the larger blocks are about six inches. The six inch blocks are then sewn together to make the middle of the quilt.

At this point I decide if I like the size of the quilt or if I need to add more blocks. The center of this quilt measures 36x36. I added 4 inch sashing around the quilt. Next step, the half-square triangle border.

Stars and Stripes

Well the stars are all finished. I have been sewing strips together for the stripes for awhile. It's a big project made especially so because I am making up the pattern as I go along.

Hopefully I get the strips sewn together before July, otherwise this quilt will be for next year.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Anatomy of a Memory Quilt - Part 1

My journey with memory quilts began way back in 1998. I was watching Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts in Step Mom. I think I can tell you the plot without fear of spoiling it because after all the movie was made back in 1998. Susan Sarandon's character was dying of cancer; Julia's character was the new wife. As a gift to her children Susan's character made a quilt and a cape for them. Both the quilt and the cape included photos and little mementos.

I, like a lot of quilters thought this was a wonderful idea. So began my research. How to get the pictures on the fabric; color versus black and white; will it be washable; can it be quilted?

After a lot of trial and error I have came up with my own recipe as it were. I use a laser printer to copy the photos on the fabric because I like black and white rather than color. For a couple of reasons, first I can then use photos from all time periods for a unified look, second with my process it is much cheaper than buying special fabric to use with inkjet printers.

This was my first quilt. I made it for my parents fiftieth wedding anniversary. We threw a party for them and it was displayed at the party. I sewed rows of photos together, stitched decorative stitching around each photo. It is not washable and the photos will rub off. I think I get better with every quilt I make. With anything it is a learning process. My quilts are still not washable, but will withstand daily use and spot cleaning. Thus far I have made ten for family and friends. I don't make many of them because they are very time consuming.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Stars

I always seem to go off on a tangent. This time I saw a Quilt for Valor pattern and fell in love with it. It is a simple pattern of stars and bars - sort of like a flag but different enough so that is is not just like a flag.
Here's the link for more information on quilts of valor; basically they are quilts given to service men and women as a way quilters have of expressing our thanks for their service.

Here's the quilt I fell in love with:

It is a simple pattern but with most quilts there is a lot of sewing involved. I spent the first weekend measuring and cutting the blocks - not the whole weekend but that's all I got accomplished.

Next time working on the quilt I spent making all the half-square triangles needed for the stars. I decided to make 14 star blocks so that's 112 half-square triangles. I also need 8 blocks for the center of the star and 4 more for the edges so 64 more squares.

Here's the pieces:

Sew the blocks together - I'm not going to go into too much detail about that part. You can probably figure it out by looking at the picture.

Then sew the rolls together and Voila! Star block, the total size of the block is 16 1/2 inches. Just 13 more to go, then I get to work on the strips. I need to figure out what size to cut 8 strips taking into consideration 1/4 inch sewing allowance and making them all even so that the final block is 16 1/2 inches.


Well I have finished piecing the top, but with a couple of changes. By the time I finished piecing I realized how really large the top was and I was worried that if I added any more to it I would not be able to quilt it. At this point I have not decided to remove a row or two and add the borders like the sample or leave it as it. I'll have to live with it for a week or two. Which needless to say means that it will not be finished for July. Here's what I have so far, what do you think?