Hot Air Balloon Crib Quilt

This fall, I was given some hot air balloon fabric to match my toddler’s bedroom, and with the weather getting colder, I knew a quilt for his crib was the perfect way to use it.

I stuck with a very simple design to showcase the fabric, and I even had some coordinating Kona blue on hand for the back. I did my first freehand FMQ, a wavy crosshatch.

Unfortunately, when I washed the quilt, I had my first experience with bearding. I almost cried when it came out of the washer looking like this:

I had to do some googling, and ran across this article that says it is caused by static and the dye in the fabric. I’m not sure if it was because of the dry weather, or because I chose wool batting (another first), but either way, there was no quick fix. I spent maybe half a dozen sessions painstakingly pulling wool fibers off both sides, using a spray bottle with some dryer sheets in water to keep any further static at bay. (I have since invested in some anti-static spray; otherwise, I’d never be brave enough to wash this quilt again!)

I’m still finding little pills of batting on the quilt, but nothing too horrible. My son likes his hot air balloons, and the quilt keeps him warm on our bitter Minnesota winter nights. 🙂


Roots and Branches

I’m woefully out of date documenting my projects, so I’m going to spend the next couple weeks trying to catch up. This first one was a joint project with my mom in the first three weeks after my son was born last summer. It was a gift for her brother, who recently became partially paralyzed and is confined to a wheelchair. My mom did most of the design and piecing, while I served as advisor and instructor (since she has sewed before but not quilted), and at the end I did the quilting and binding.

The tree is appliqué, copied freehand from Pinterest. I marked all the circles and quilted with FMQ, rather than with a walking foot like I did previously on my dragonfly quilt. I made myself a little tool to keep an even offset for the circles, which worked very well. (Tape some cardboard to the pen and trace the previous line with it, marking with the pen at an offset.)


The finished quilt was very wavy, so I put pockets in all four corners and inserted a piece of cardboard to keep it as flat as possible on the wall.

My mom hand sewed the charms on at the end. I thought it came out well, particularly considering our time constraints (we had to finish before my mom went back home!), and it was well received by my uncle.


Mini Wall Quilt for Baby

Appropriately, the first project I finished post-baby is this mini wall quilt to hang in the nursery. The fabric is Little Ark, just like for my godson’s quilt, but Baby N’s name is too long to make that pattern practical (also, I didn’t have quite enough fabric left). I used the walking foot for most of the quilting, and fmq for outlining the N and in the corners.

Lest you think I’m supermom (or neglecting my baby), I did have most of this finished in advance, leaving just the label (so I could include his birthdate) and binding for after the birth.

Cathedral Window Wall Quilt 

I’m not sure if this cathedral window wall hanging actually counts as a quilt, since it has no batting, but I’m going to go ahead and call it one. I’d been seeing cathedral windows in my Pinterest stream for a while, and thought I’d like to make one if only they didn’t have to be done by hand. Then I saw these pillows and knew I had to make some (still on my list), but I used those tutorials to machine-sew this hanging. This pin inspired me to change up the pattern a bit.

Here’s the finished quilt:

The window panes are white kona cotton, and the windows are made from part of a charm pack of The Morris Jewels by Moda.

There are a couple places where it doesn’t lay totally flat, especially up at the top where I was just getting the hang of it, but overall it went remarkably well, especially since I was improvising the orange peels between the windows. I started out sewing one edge at a time, but quickly grew comfortable enough to pin and sew an entire row at a time.

One lesson learned for next time is not to let the corners of my posterboard template get too worn. I ended up with a lot of less-than-sharp corners, which made it hard sometimes to get the finished windows to look right. (Though looking at the pictures now rather than scrutinizing it up close, almost all the imperfections disappear. I love it when quilts are forgiving like that!)

Easter Morning: A French Braid Wall Quilt 

This is my most ambitious quilt to date (finished quilt, anyway). It’s the biggest by far since I rebooted this hobby, and the first to get all-over free motion quilting. Here it is in its full glory:

I can’t take credit for the design; as usual, I fell in love with a picture on Pinterest, and this time I copied it as closely as possible (though I did change the size a bit). It now occupies the entire wall from floor to 9-foot ceiling on our basement stair landing, where I see it every time I go down to quilt.

This quilt marked my first time using a spray baste, and I doubt I’ll ever do it any other way now unless I need to use polyester batting for some reason. So much quicker than all those pins, and no shifting of layers no matter how I manipulated the quilt around my little machine.

Quilting this baby took almost a month, mostly because of all the starts and stops. I almost wish I had chosen a more all-over pattern, but with the individual Celtic knots for each stripe and diamond, I was able to use 9 different thread colors. I thought it would be a good idea to minimize the contrast while I’m still new at free motion quilting. It made for an interesting quilt back hiding against the wall.

Quilt Back

I’m still using quilting paper; a little tedious to get it all torn away, but easier than marking everything on the quilt top. I also really like how the contrast lets me see the whole quilting design so well, and it’s easy to see where I’ve already quilted.

Nothing else new on this quilt – except, perhaps, the use of a yardstick to hang it, since it’s so much heavier than the little wall quilts I’ve made so far!

Little Ark Baby Quilt

This weekend I was honored to be godmother for my newest nephew, so of course I marked the occasion by making my very first baby quilt.

Oliver’s quilt, staged in my baby-to-be’s nursery

I quilted the gentle curves with my walking foot, but the border hearts are my very first free motion quilting.

I’m not at the point where I can do it freehand yet, but I found that quilting paper worked very well for me. (The curves were marked with a fabric pen.)

I used this method to make a label for the quilt.

I’ve never had the courage to wash one of my quilts before, but with a baby quilt you really have no choice (plus, I had marking pen all over the front). I’m happy to say that it came out just fine. Wrinkly, of course, the way all cotton quilts get, but the marking pen didn’t run, the appliqué letters didn’t fray, and it didn’t entirely shrivel up after going through the dryer on low. 

I call that a success. 😊

11 more weeks until my baby’s due; I’m beginning to suspect my list of projects is longer than my remaining time. I wouldn’t mind so much, except many of them are gifts meant for this summer or Christmas, and who knows when I’ll have time to finish them once there are two kids in the house. I’m estimating another month to finish the quilting on my current project; I chose a particularly time-intensive design (by accident) for my first quilt done entirely in free motion quilting. You’ll see it here when I’m done!

Blue Waves: A Bargello Wall Quilt 

I’m long overdue on posting about my first Bargello quilt; I finished it over a month ago, but only recently managed to get it hung on the guest room wall (with some help from my husband).

As soon as I saw my first picture of a Bargello quilt, I knew I had to make one, and when I learned how easy they are, it moved right up the list. This mini quilt doesn’t have as much of the cool wave effect as I would’ve liked, but I think it came out well, and took less than a week from start to finish. (It was only afterward that I realized I could have cut the jelly roll strips lengthwise to get the full Bargello effect despite the smaller size. Ah, well. Next time.)

The jelly roll strips are all batiks I had in my stash, and the quilting was done with my walking foot. I wanted to try out spray basting, but the internet told me it doesn’t stick to polyester, and I had already cut the last of my polyester batting to size for it. Another thing for next time.

My next project is already finished, but it hasn’t been gifted yet, so it’ll have to wait a couple of weeks before I post about it. 😊 I also have another quilt top finished, awaiting some fmq practice before I tackle the quilting. In between quilts, I’ve made a couple sets of coasters, which I’ll post about later (you can actually see one set sitting on the nightstand in the picture above, a housewarming gift for my parents). Far less creative, but more practical, I’ve been adding belt loops to my toddler’s pants–size 12M are getting too short, but the 18M all slide right down his waist!

Dragonfly appliqué mini-quilt 

I got my latest project hung on the wall today. 😊 For me, this one made quilting into a real hobby (obsession?), instead of just a one-time thing. I was actually working on it concurrently with the hot air balloon, and did the appliqués on this first, as practice for the more intimidating, tiny pieces of the balloon. (Pattern available on Craftsy.) The borders were inspired by this quilt, but I have since seen many piano key borders.

I considered free motion quilting this one, but still need a lot more practice, so it was done entirely with a walking foot. The circles were pretty easy, though all the starting and stopping and burying of threads was a bit tiresome.

The borders turned out to be trickier than I expected. It was only after I started sewing that I realized it would take a miracle to get all the corners to line up perfectly. (They don’t, of course, but I don’t think they look too bad; and I got my start and finish to line up.) This was compounded by the fact that my only marking pen & pencil are both blue, and barely showed up. After a few false starts and some seam ripping, I figured it out.

I wanted to make cute little hanging pockets like on the hot air balloon, but my foldover binding doesn’t allow for it, so I stuck with plain old hanging loops.

I have 4 more quilts in progress, one of which should be done very soon, and 3 more in planning. Onward!

A Return to Quilting 

It’s been awhile since I last made a quilt, but in the last month, the bug bit me. Hard. My first project was a mini-quilt with a hot air balloon appliqué to hang on the wall of my toddler’s new bedroom.


This marked a lot of firsts for me: it’s by far the smallest and quickest quilt I’ve ever made (unless you count coasters, which I don’t), but also the first time I’ve done appliqué, the first time I’ve done actual quilting instead of just tying it at intervals, and the first time I’ve done a machine binding. Oh, and the nifty little pockets on the back:

The idea for the balloon design came from a picture of a similar quilt pinned from etsy for a pattern (no longer available). My instructions for appliqué came from, among other sites. I followed this tutorial for the lovely flanged binding, and made the pockets on the back based on this article.

I love the internet.

Altogether, it took about 3 1/2 weeks, including waiting for the fabric to arrive. In that time, I have also planned and/or started 6 other quilts (I told you the bug bit hard!). We’ll see how many I can finish before Baby #2 arrives in June and makes me take another break.