Behave Yourself, Barely!

In 2014, my friends at Intown Quilters had a birthday challenge to honor Kaffe Fassett, who designs some of my very favorite fabrics and quilts. The directions were simple and terrifying. Entrants were to choose one of Kaffe’s older quilt designs and update it, while also using some of Kaffe’s more recent fabrics. In a moment of wild optimism, I signed up!

I’m so glad I did! Let’s get the suspense over with up front. I didn’t win. Red seemed to be a popular theme among the lovely quilts that were recognized. Mine’s not so red. And it’s possible that I updated a bit much on the design side. But I learned a lot and wound up with a quilt I adore. Bill calls it the “winter” quilt for nights when we need two. I named it, “Behave Yourself, Barely!” in honor of a story Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Este’s tells about a favorite aunt of hers.

My fabric selections for this quilt were largely to coordinate with my first queen size quilt, “Autumn Log Cabin”.  Many are designs from Kaffe Fassett or Brandon Mably. Among my favorites are the purple Zinnia design and one of my go-to fabrics in several colorways of the Paperweights pattern, mixed with lots of dots.

I added an inner border of black and white micro dots and an outer border of a large scale, Asian looking floral. The backing is a wide width batik of larger black and white dots and the binding is the same black and white micro dot as the border. I much prefer random dot patterns to symmetrical dots. They’re way easier to work with!

I used a Hobbs 80/20 black batting on this quilt and washed it after finishing as described for my Liberated Wild Geese Quilt. Regina Carter did the wonderful long arm quilting.

You can find the “sunlight in the forest” pattern in Kaffe Fassett’s Quilts in Sweden, copyright Rowan Yarns, 2011.

My Liberated Wild Geese Quilt

I love this quilt! I started with a pattern called, “Geese in the Fields,” by Carolyn Griffin. The first sample I saw was very neutral, almost like grain fields in the fall, which makes sense but isn’t at all me.

First I picked the focus fabric—a fabulous, very feminine, spirited print from a line called “Aboriginal,” out of Australia. I’d fallen in love with it on sight so had several yards at home.

Then I decided to turn the geese into Gwen Marston-style liberated geese. Wild geese, in this case, as they are sometimes used as symbols for the Holy Spirit in Scottish spirituality traditions.

It was really coming together!

Then, I actually needed geese. Batiks in this case. Mostly jewel tones. It just makes me happy! Sewn flying a bit out of formation, as liberated geese surely would. The solid black is a linen and cotton blend, which I pre-washed as suggested by my Intown expert buddies. I don’t normally prewash and didn’t except for this linen blend, which was used for background, borders, and binding. There’s a dark spiral batik on the back, cut from a piece 108” wide. Hobbs 80/20 black batting. The finished quilt was washed with a gentle Seventh Generation liquid laundry soap and 4 – 5 “Shout Color Catcher” sheets*, then damp dried on low in the dryer and hung to finish drying outside. I like wrinkly quilts and this worked out just fine.

The quilt came out to be about 50×64 inches which is great for my chair quilt. Regina Carter did the long arm quilting and it’s gorgeous. Especially with the black linen blend, the texture is fantastic! I feel like a wizard! Both of my books were written curled under this quilt.

* I’m sure there are things in the Color Catcher sheets I don’t want to know about, including the fragrance. Everybody needs an exception to the rules and this is mine. It’s how I get my quilts to look like I want them to and it gets rinsed out, unlike dryer sheets. When I give quilts as gifts, especially dark or brightly colored ones, I include a box of these with a suggestion that they be used the first couple of times the new quilt gets washed.

Autumn Log Cabin Quilt

This was the first quilt I made for Bill and me. There was a sample up at Intown Quilters in very similar fabrics. All the purples and the limey greens are favorites of mine. This design, by Liza Prior Lucy, in Kaffe Fassett’s Quilt Romance (Rowan yarns, 2009), was also my first major Kaffe quilt. Just between us, following the charts to pick out the fabric made me crazy! I ended up looking at the picture and buying extra of everything! I’m so glad I did! I’m still using those fabrics and they’re still among my very favorites!

I love the history of log cabin blocks. The tradition, as I learned it, says that each block represents home and they often have red or yellow central pieces. The red represents the love at the center of the home and the yellow recalls the light that beckons wanderers home.

These are very precise log cabin blocks. Centers all fussy cut from the same fabric. Everything straight and even. In the beginning, it was a bit of a challenge, but I got the hang of it and really enjoyed the process. First, I cut seemingly millions of strips and sorted them simply into two boxes—one for greens and one for everything else. It’s random-esqe, as true random piecing creates design problems I can’t cope with! I couldn’t figure out how to make the chain piecing, assembly line style of construction work for this so I did one block at a time with an iron close by so I could press every strip as I went. It took a while but the colors and patterns seemed to keep me in some happy brain space and I loved doing it!

I needed a quilt larger than the 96”x96” this was designed for so I added a black and white microdot inner border and a very scrappy, striped outer border. The backing is a tropical batik with black background and lots of jewel tone colors. I repeated the black and white microdots for the binding. My finished quilt is probably about 104”x104”.

I followed my usual habit of not prewashing the fabric. I chose organic cotton batting in the thinnest weight and Regina Carter did the fabulous long arm quilting. It adds so much to the design! The finished quilt was washed in cold water and Seventh Generation liquid laundry detergent with several sheets of Shout Color Catchers. I use the dryer to damp dry—I want wrinkles!—and then hang to finish drying outside. My quilts look like photos from Kaffe’s books when they’re hanging from the front of the house!

This happy quilt lives on our bed. Somehow, it reminds me of Easter! It’s also very good Feng shui colors for that room and just shines among grey walls and bright golden toile drapes. I think this project was the one that convinced me that I am an artist!

Kenzie’s Big Girl Quilt

The pattern for this quilt came from Atlanta’s Intown Quilters. “Twinkle” is by Cheryl Wittmayer for Sew Be It. I chose this when my kids moved to Phoenix and my older granddaughter, Kenzie, who was 4 at the time, was being promoted to a twin size bed.

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She was so excited! Kenzie said she wanted blue but she kept reaching for red fabrics. I thought this was a nice compromise, plus plenty of flexibility for the future. Each block is different because Kenzie said, “All the stars are different, Grammy!” Not, perhaps, for beginners and a little fiddly to piece, my heart still feels good when I see her dragging it around the house for movie time in the basement or a sleepover down the hall with her sister.

The backing and binding are from a good quality, pre-washed flannel sheet. Fuzzy to rub with sleepy fingers!

Taylor’s Baby Quilt

About two and a half years after Kenzie was born, Taylor came along. Many things were different. The kids were back in the states. We knew, this time, that Kelly was expecting a girl. I’d learned more about quilting. And my mom died about 4 months before Taylor was born.

Mom, who was a talented knitter, had made lots of sweaters and blankets and booties before Kenzie was born. She had a blast. When I knit, I do very simple, back and forth projects like prayer shawls. It’s a meditation thing for me. Mom liked complicated patterns to count and keep track of. She said it gave her something to think about. She did know Taylor was on the way and made one little sweater for her.

I think we were all feeling bad that Great Grammy wasn’t there to welcome this new little one with all kinds of things put together with love. Then I had an idea and the kids agreed. This little lap quilt I’d made for my mom became Taylor’s first quilt.

It’s a traditional pinwheel pattern I made in a class taught by Debbi Kratovil. Debbi is a genius at plotting out construction tips like which way to iron which seams and how to piece the blocks that make quilt construction much easier. I chose some of the Kaffe prints I love in colors closer to the 50’s quilts Mom was more familiar with. (She was not so much a liberated quilt sort of person!)

There are actually three borders on this quilt. A narrow, inner border in the aqua floral, a very narrow yellow border, and then a wider border and binding of the same aqua floral. I think there’s a madras plaid on the back and my usual thin cotton batting. I did the machine quilting, shadowing the pinwheel shapes. Finished, it’s about 45” square.

I remember Taylor having tummy time one day when she was quite small. She just patted the surface of the quilt like you would a dog, tiny fingers playing in the vintage-y wrinkles I love.

Taylor’s real love, though, has always been a bwankie that Mom knit before Kenzie was born. It’s a delicate, off white pattern with several types of openwork. Just the thing you want a kid to drag everywhere! Bwankie has a tendency to bweak and it’s my job to try to crochet and weave the openwork back together. I’m concerned that I’ve patched it about as much as possible and am keeping my fingers crossed. I think Great Grammy is probably laughing at me somewhere!

Kenzie’s Second Baby Quilt

 

Ooops! One more thing I learned from Kenzie’s First Baby Quilt…that was a pretty big quilt! According to the design, about 92”x92”. I cut it down some, which was a bit of a challenge, pattern wise, but it still didn’t fit well into strollers or car seats. It didn’t go along well to visit. So, this Grammy needed to make another quilt. Sad. Not!

As it happened, a quilt guild up in Cobb County, GA was holding a special class and the teacher was none other than Gwen Marston, whose first book had convinced me I could be a quilter, too. I was several miles past excited. The class materials list called for bits and pieces of fabric you love. Apparently any color and any print would do, as long as we each really loved what we brought. No problem!

The class was great! Gwen was just as liberated and fun in person as she seemed in her book. We sliced and diced and pieced and swapped fabrics with new friends and by the end of the class most of us had finished quilt tops. I decided mine needed a border and I had a perfect fabric at home. A 2-toned monochrome floral in a bright red orange. Now, I like orange a lot. I use a lot of it, though not always in such big pieces. In this case, I chose it because there are lots of blue prints and blue and white dots in the quilt and Kenzie’s Daddy and Mama are both University of Virginia graduates. (Never mind that Dave’s colorblind in some tones and I’m never sure what he can see. He appreciates the thought!)

A lighter orange and yellow mini print volunteered for the binding. And there’s enough lime green in there to make a very happy quilter. I machine quilted it, following the stripes, with a thin cotton batting and washed in my usual fashion to ensure wrinkles.

This was the one that could be depended on for naps or cool, often rainy days in Scotland. It’s a kid-sized baby quilt. And I just love all the wonky stripes. If the piece is too narrow, sew something else to it. Too big? Slice some off. Make it all a little bigger than you need it and trim the perimeter to a relatively precise rectangle if that works for you. Or, let the border make it all work out. I love Gwen Marston!

I save scraps of everything and I think this would be a perfect design for the girls’ first quilts. It’s quite probable that they will have other ideas! They’re almost there. I’ll keep you posted!

Kenzie’s First Baby Quilt

No matter how many quilts a quilter has made, I suspect the first one for the first grandchild is always special. I was still a new-ish quilter when that occasion came along for me. New-ish, a little idealistic, and, perhaps, slightly overeducated. I ended up choosing Kaffe Fassett’s “Light and Dark Checkerboard Quilt” from the inspiring book, Quilt Road (Rowan Yarns, 2005).

I picked this design for two reasons. The first was that it’s largely black and white in a simple geometric design, which is, to the best of our knowledge, what babies see first. I envisioned long, peaceful hours of a laughing baby lying on the quilt, happily studying my perfectly pieced checkerboard. Secondly, I imagined that a one patch quilt of squares all the same size would be easy to piece.

Oh, there was a third reason, too. This baby was born in Scotland and, across the wee pond, they don’t generally reveal the gender of the baby before birth!

It’s a great quilt if you’re inclined toward pink or blue, which I’m not really, but don’t know which to choose. And I still believe in the whole black and white thing. I put some blacks and whites into almost every baby quilt I make. This might have been a bit more than was strictly necessary, especially when I discovered that a one patch quilt like this, where every piece needs to go in a very specific pattern was not as easy as I imagined. I do think there are some personality issues in this. Suffice it to say, I thought I’d lose my mind!

Eventually it was pieced. I bought a cute print with little wooden blocks all carved with alphabet letters and baby animals for the backing. It wasn’t printed straight. I was not amused! Time was getting short and I finally gave up trying to get the exactly geometric top and the very wonky geometric back to play nicely. Honestly, I don’t remember what’s on the back! Probably the grey and white random dots I used for the binding. Thin, organic, cotton batting. My friend, Beth Ellis, did the long arm quilting.

In the end, I was still putting the binding on when it was time to leave for Scotland. I packed the quilt and all my tools, leaving out useful things like extra sweaters and long sleeved T-shirts! I did get it all done before our sweet girl made her appearance, though I had to go home long before she got to tummy time. Mama Kelly no doubt worked harder than I did, but I was pretty proud, too!