Grandma and Baby Quilts

Just so you don’t think I haven’t been sewing at ALL….

My good friend Pru just had her first grandbaby. I think Pru might be my first friend to have a grandbaby during the course of our friendship. I think this means I’m getting old.

But in any event, it was nice to have a reason to make a baby quilt. Baby quilts are usually small and happy. The small part makes it quick to whip them up. The happy part means that I get to chose happy fabrics – pastels that I don’t usually work with, or in this case, bright rainbow colors. When I was in Houston, I got a rainbow set of fat quarters and figured that I’d find a good use for them. Well here they are. Jackson Victor’s baby quilt using my rainbow of fat quarters.

I  really enjoyed making this quilt. It didn’t take too long. I didn’t do a lot of quilting on it, because I didn’t want it to be too busy. Also, rather than using a binding, I decided to sandwich the quilt and finish it off more like a comforter. Then, I sewed about a half inch in from the edge to make it look like it has a binding. That’s a trick to use when, really, you just can’t bring yourself to make binding, put it on, and hand stitch it down.

So, once Jackson’s quilt was finished, I realized that I had cut exactly double the amount of fabric I needed from my rainbow palette. I decided to sew the strips together and create something from them. Here is the resulting “companion” quilt:

I decided to use the backing fabric from Jackson’s quilt on the binding I DID create for this one. And voila! I’ve decided to give the little quilt to Jackson’s grandma to commemorate his birth. It’s always nice to give a close relative a quilt made from the same fabric. It is special.

Later tonight, I will go and deliver the quilts. I’m so excited!


Wow. Have you looked at Pinterest? For a fabric and yarn junkie like me, there is a ton and then some of inspiration out there. I have started a few boards of my own. One is called She Who Dies With The Most Fabric Wins (which is also what my page is called) and the other is Knit One Purl One. I bet you can tell what types of photos go on which board.

Here is what I love about Pinterest:

  • Variety of amazing photos
  • Ability to search for just about anything I can think of
  • Excitement of seeing stuff I’ve pinned re-pinned by other people
  • Reading comments on my pins made by people who I don’t know
  • Learning about other blogs and website – especially the ones with tutorials and instructions
  • Feeling like a part of a community of crafters

Here is what I’d like to see improved:

  • Grouping what I am VIEWING (not just what I am posting). I see a big mish-mash of all of the people and boards that I follow. I’d like to be able to see JUST my quilt follows or JUST my knitting follows
  • Some way to post a message to a fellow pinner who either is following me or I want to follow
  • Some way, other than simply typing it in, to say, “I didn’t make this piece” or “I made this”. Sometimes when I’m repinning I have little idea who made something. That makes me feel a little uncomfortable, because I don’t want people to think I’m as good as those others.

What strikes me most about the things I see is the quality of what gets pinned. Rarely do I see work that doesn’t impress me. I am simultaneously inspired and slightly depressed. But, always, it makes me want to sew or knit.

If you join Pinterest, please look for me. And then post some beautiful pins and I will follow you, too!

Sawing Teeth

Years ago – I think it is about 6 years or maybe more – one of my BFF’s, Janelle, and I started making a quilt for her daughter, Novim. The quilt is from Jinny Beyer and is a kit that Jinny put together. I have to tell you, this is the most difficult quilt I have ever worked on.

What makes it difficult is the extensive use of border fabric. Getting the borders to line up in so many places and in so many ways has been a real challenge. Often, it is more of a mental challenge than anything else. I swear it feels like I’ve ripped out twice as many seams as I’ve sewn in this quilt.

So, it’s been years and years of working on this quilt sporadically. And, no, we are still not finished with it. But, today we finally put the saw tooth border on it.


But, it’s not done yet! I just hope it doesn’t take another 6 years to finish.

Knitting Frenzy

It’s been a while since I posted. And up until today, it had been a while since I qulited. Instead, I have been knitting knitting knitting!

Way back when, when Maddie was a baby (so that’s about 19 years ago), I used to knit a lot. I knit all sorts of baby clothes for her and for my nephews, too. After a while, though, my arms couldn’t take the repetitive stress. Between knitting and typing and the occasional foray on the piano, I just couldn’t do it anymore. That’s when I switched to quilting and started driving with my foot.

For many years I didn’t touch a knitting needle, except to teach Max how to knit. He turned out to be a very good knitter! But, even just showing him how to knit made my arms hurt.

A few weeks ago, the Biffle and I were walking through downtown Los Gatos, and we walked right past the Very Knit Shop. I have been in the shop a few times to get yarn for couching on my quilts. They have gorgeous yarns there. So, the Biffle and I go upstairs to the shop…and somehow we both decide we are going to try knitting again. In fact, we decide that we will knit each other a scarf for Hanukkah. Here is a picture of the scarf I made for the Biffle, it is my first scarf in a very long time:

So, then I was on a roll. I made the same scarf in a different color for Greg. I don’t have a photo of it yet, but I will. Then I made a scarf in a pattern from Ravelry for Phil (the hubby Biffle):

And Phil wearing the scarf:

Then I got tired of scarves and moved on to hats. I made one for Maddie and one for Max using the same pattern:

And here I am modeling its supreme slouchiness:

And then I decided to get really fancy and make this cool slouchy beret for myself:

And Allie looks just great in it!

Birfday Biffle Quilt DONE!

I never blogged about finishing the Jinny Beyer Palette Quilt that my Biffle and I started. That’s because I decided to surprise her by finishing it for her birthday.

I put on the binding and then I made the quilt sandwich. I decided to use spray glue to baste the backing, batting, and top, and this was a good idea. The quilt came out nice and even, with no bubbles or folds on the back. I considered putting it on my rack and hand basting it. But, I have found that when I rack large quilts (this one is 60″ x 60″), they tend to get distorted. The end result often is not very even. I really do like the spray basting technique.

Tonight, I gave the quilt to the Biffle. Her reaction was priceless! She was SO very happy and so excited to have the quilt. I also sent the photo to Jinny Beyer. Jinny always enjoys seeing the results of her quilts that folks make.

So this one is done! And I’m working on my no-sew quilt now. I have actually gotten quite distracted by knitting lately. Maybe I should rename my blog: Val Quilts, But Not Nearly Enough Because She Is Busy Knitting?

No Sew Quilt

When I was at the Houston Quilt Festival, I took a class with Robbi Joy Eklow. Robbi makes incredibly colorful, large scale quilts using fusible web.

For the uninitiated, fusible web is like a layer of glue that goes between pieces of fabric. It comes with paper on both sides. You take off one side of paper and iron it to the back of your fabric. Take extra care to make sure you have the paper side down, on the ironing board. More than once over the years I had the glue side down and it makes an extremely stick mess.

Once your fabric is backed with the web and paper, decide where you are going to place the piece (on another piece of fabric), peel off the paper, and with the glue side down (!!), press the top fabric on to the bottom fabric. Here is a video of Robbi Joy Eklow and her studio. She demonstrates some of her techniques.

I have a lot of experience with fusible web. My my children were very young, I used to take plan t-shirts and iron on different designs using the web. Then, I’d use fabric paint to seal between the applique and the t-shirt. It was a lot of fun and I wonder if they still make the appliques (I bet they do).

The pattern for the quilt I started making is called Steamboat Sublime. Here is my first completed part of it, the center flower:


Click here to see what Robbi Joy Eklow’s quilt, Steamboat Sublime, looks like. I don’t know if I’ll do the entire quilt as she has it. But, using fusible web in this way has opened up some new ideas for future quilts.

Houston International Quilt Festival

For the past few days, I and 60,000 of my closest quilting friends have been attending the International Quilt Festival in Houston. This is also the home of the Houston quilt market – known to the industry as “going to market.”

What an amazing show this is. If you quilt and have never been there, I urge you to go – just to experience it! The show floor is the largest I’ve ever seen. Half of it is vendors and booths. The other half is an amazing exhibition.

The booths are crowded and many of them sell the same stuff: lots of old fashioned dark brown and brick red fabric and patterns. But, there are a few gems hiding in the aisles.

My (new) favorite fabric designer has a booth there. Her name is Marcia Derse. Click here for a link to her website. I met Marcia last year. While my friend Deb and I were browsing her booth, her husband came up to us and said, “Please buy some fabric. I don’t want to have to schlep all of this stuff back to Ohio in my Prius.” Well, that was enough to get me looking!

And boy does Marcia make some gorgeous fabrics. Her grei goods (the actual fabric on which the patterns are printed) are of the highest quality. Her designs are inspiring. And her colors are what really trips my trigger. Take a look at her website and see what you think.

Another booth I enjoyed was the Bohin booth. Bohin is a French company and they make really nice needles. They also sell thimbles in a multitude of sizes. I bought one – but it is so small that I can’t find it in my hotel room at the moment.

I went a little crazy at the Aurifil booth. I purchase a set of brightly colored threads. They were on sale, but still cost me $100.  I bought a beautiful pair of shears at the Kai Scissor booth, too. All in all, I bought everything except a new sewing machine!

The exhibition was amazing. Here is one of my favorite quilts from the show.


Isn’t it unbelievable?? I vacillated between being terrifically inspired and so dejected that I wanted to break all of my fingers.

This was my second year at the show and I will definitely be back next year!


I made the borders for the quick Jinny Beyer palette quilt that the Biffle and I have been making. Unfortunately, I’ve been working on it alone, since the Biffle is in Brooklyn now.

I really prefer to quilt with a friend. I like the chatter, the catching up, the sharing. When I quilt alone, sometimes I let worries circle in my head. I replay conversations that I’ve had with people and think of all the things I could have said to them (but didn’t for one reason or another). Sometimes I listen to NPR. Sometimes I listen to Pandora. My current favorite “station” is the “Walking in Memphis” station. I love that song. The piano really gets me – it is so prominent. I rarely quilt in silence. What fun would that be?

Sometimes my son, Max, brings his computer into my sewing room and hangs out. He does his thing, I do mine. He usually interrupts me to look at his latest website or something else that he’s coded. I don’t mind. Sometimes my husband hangs out in the sewing room with me, too. If I had more space, I’d put a sofa or a recliner chair in there just for guests.

So, here is the quilt with the borders on it. One of the miters is PERFECT. I love it when a multi-border miter comes out perfectly. One is puckered, but I think I can fix that when I quilt it later. The other two are okay. If you notice, you’re looking too hard. :-)


A Break from the Farmer

So, it has been quite a while since I posted to this blog. And, I have to say, I didn’t go into my sewing room for quite a while. I was really frustrated with the way this “quilt-along” is really a quilt alone. I mean, this was my first quilt-along and I thought that it was extremely cool idea to be part of a worldwide group working on the same quilt.

But, no sooner did we start the quilt-along, did the instructions of what to work on abruptly end. I reached out repeatedly to the person running it (I actually don’t even remember who that is), but I never got a response. In the meantime, there are lots of people who are introducing themselves and chatting, which is nice, but it isn’t really what I was looking for. I really started to lose my interest in the quilt and I just didn’t feel like working on it.

Luckily, in the middle of everything, I started a different quilt! Every week, I get an email from Jinny Beyer’s shop. And one week the special sale item of the week was a quilt made with every single fabric from her pallet. Now, those of you who know me and who have seen my quilts know that I *love* Jinny Beyer’s fabric, designs, sense of color, border fabric, and person. She is so approachable – I recently sent her an email with a book I thought she’d like and she responded. I just love that.

Anyway, I ordered this quilt kit. The coolest thing is that all of the little pieces of border fabric came pre-cut. That was really a time saver. This is a pretty simple quilt, so I decided to see if my biffle, Viv, wanted to learn how to quilt using this kit. She did the sewing for many of the colorful blocks. We had a really good time working on it together. Then, she had to go back to Brooklyn (bummer!) and I decided to keep going.

It has stitched up pretty darn quickly. Most of the top is done – now all I have to do is put on the borders and binding, sandwich the bottom, batting, and top, and quilt it. That means, I’m just about half way done! What’s funny is that my friends who don’t quilt usually think that when the top is pieced, the quilt is almost finished. But that is really not the case. When the top is pieced, it is about at the half.

I’ll try to post more photos as I go along. It has been a nice change to just whip up a very easy quilt very quickly. So, who wants it? :-)

Nothing’s New…

So, I have to wonder how these quilt-alongs work. I thought that every week, the person leading the quilt-along tells the participants which block(s) to complete that week. Then, we all complete the block(s), post pictures, share tips, answer questions and basically act like we’re doing this “along”.

Well, I’m stil waiting to know what block(s) we were doing for last week. Yep. I look at the group email every day. And every day I look for the block of the week. And every day nothing.

I could just go on and work my way through the blocks. But, I might as well do that alone.

So much for quilting along.