“Daisy Days” Quilt


This quilt might also be called the “Never Too Late” quilt, because I made the top about 13 or 14 years ago, when I was still homeschooling, then carried it from house to house during our various moves before finally machine-quilting it this past winter.

“Daisy Days” was one of many Thimbleberries fabric lines (which are no longer produced). I bought this as a kit after seeing it hanging on the wall in a wonderful quilt shop called “A Touch of Amish” in Barrington, IL, and I had to have it. Who knew it would take me so long to finish it? But given how busy I was when I was homeschooling my kids, I’m amazed I even got the top made when I did.

As for the machine quilting, I did it in alternating rows of daisies and leaves, which I learned how to do at Lori Kennedy’s fantastic blog.

Memorial Quilt


Our aunt passed away a few years ago. I say “our” because even though she was technically my husband’s aunt, after 35+ years of marriage, she had become my aunt too.

She was a lovely woman, full of life right until the end of her too-short life. I offered to make our uncle a quilt to remember her by, and he gave me a couple of boxes of clothes to work with.

I was expecting the bright colors she often dressed up in, but what I got was a few dressy things and a lot of her leisure wardrobe: knit tops, t-shirts, and knit shorts. I set aside the clothes for a while so I could figure out what to do. And then I learned about rag quilts, and the light bulb went on.

Using the fronts and backs of a dozen shirts including several from our aunt’s favorite vacation spot, Myrtle Beach, I was able to make a quilt large enough for our uncle to take a nap with.

Tidal Quilt


I’ve been busy making quilts but have had trouble getting photos of them on this blog. Now I finally have some photos to share.

I made this particular quilt last fall for someone who suffered a tragedy in her life a year ago. I used batiks to represent the colors of the ocean as she mentioned that she had decorated her bedroom with a beach theme. In the border I quilted one of my favorite Bible verses, one that greatly helped me during a traumatic time in my life many years ago. The backing is sand-colored Kona cotton.

The pattern is the “Double Slice Layer Cake” pattern from Missouri Quilt Co., which I’ve used before. The batiks are from Connecting Threads and I quilted this in a stipple/meander pattern using Aurifil thread, to which I have become addicted.

Blast from the Past: Using Quilts in Homeschooling

An Amish Pieced & Quilted Cotton Coverlet, Indiana or Ohio, Circa 1910
An Amish Pieced & Quilted Cotton Coverlet, Indiana or Ohio, Circa 1910

When I was in college, I bought an old sofa for my dorm room for $10. It was so ugly, it needed a covering, so I took fabric scraps left over from clothes I’d made and pieced a quilt to throw over it. After that, I was hooked on quilting.

At that time, quilting was mostly something you did with scraps. But it soon blossomed into a huge industry, with fabrics designed specifically for quilters and an explosion of shops to promote those fabrics. Since then, most quilts begin when the quilter purposely buys fabric to make a quilt. You can easily spend a few hundred dollars doing so.

But that’s the pricey way to make a quilt. Making a quilt from scraps is still an inexpensive way to have fun while making something useful. This is what our foremothers did during the Great Depression, when money was tight and re-using things was the wisest thing you could do.

For homeschoolers, learning about quilting is a way to study both history and math. The math part is best learned by doing: calculating the size of the blocks of your quilt and the most efficient way to cut each piece of fabric can challenge the math skills of adults, much less kids. Even if you use a pattern, there will be some calculations involved.

And who knew there were quilt math books for kids? Wish they’d been around when my kids were younger!

Studying the historical aspects of quilting can be a lot of fun. Quilting is an integral part of American history. The different patterns and fabrics used help researchers determine the age of an antique quilt, and quilt historians are almost like detectives as they research the background of a given quilt.

The patterns used to make quilts are a major clue to their histories. Long before there were quilt magazines, patterns were passed between quilters of a given time period. Here’s a link to many patterns popular in recent American history.

The fabrics used over time have very distinctive looks. Today, textile companies reproduce such fabrics for quilters who want to make new quilts that look historically accurate for a given time period. Looking at such fabrics give you an idea of what kind of fabrics people used for clothing in that time period. Here’s one site with a group of links for fabrics of different time periods.

The 1930s were particularly good years for quilts because the financial difficulties of the times forced people to be very creative with the materials on hand. As a result, many quilters created incredible quilts. The World’s Fair of 1933 included a quilt contest sponsored by Sears. It received thousands of entries. See some of the best of these quilts here (scroll to the very bottom of the page and click on thumbnails.

There was a resurgence of quilting in the mid-1970s as the U.S. Bicentennial approached. Bicentennial quilts became all the rage. Since then, quilting has remained quite popular.

One of the best ways to learn about history through quilts is to visit a museum that displays them. Many history museums do show a few quilts along with other artifacts, but to see a wide variety of them, you need to go to a quilt museum. Perhaps the best-known in the country is the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Kentucky.

You can also “tour” quilt museums while online. Here’s a page of links to such museums. While there’s nothing like seeing a quilt in person, this is the next best thing to being there.

Ready to make a quilt with your kids as a homeschooling project? If you already know how to sew, you’ll find it to be quite easy. Quilts can be hand-sewn, machine-sewn, or made with a mix of both techniques.

There are great how-to-quilt books at your local library. You can also find a friend who can teach you or take a class at a local quilt shop. You can also learn from online tutorials. You’ll find many web pages with basic quilting information like this one. Also, here’s the first of a thirteen-part series by expertvillage on how to make a baby quilt as a first quilting project.

It’s fun to quilt with your children, and who knows? It could become a lifelong hobby for you and for them.

(Originally posted 2/9/09.)

Blast from the Past: The Easiest Way to Learn to Make Clothes

My first sewing project was a jumper I made for myself (I was 12). It was quite the learning experience, but I did not immediately follow it up with more clothing for me. Instead, I began making doll clothes for my sisters and myself.

I did this because we couldn’t afford to buy doll clothes in the store. But I soon discovered that it was a lot of fun to make my own color choices using remnants I got from relatives or marked down at the fabric store.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that using patterns to make doll clothes helps you become good at clothing construction without the costly mistakes involved in making people-sized clothes.

For example, if you cut a sleeve out wrong for a doll, or mess up big-time while sewing the sleeve, you can just cut a new one out of another scrap of fabric and try again. But if you do that while making yourself a shirt or a dress, you’ll probably have to go back and buy more fabric (if you can find more of it) to cut out another sleeve. This costs time and money.

Sewing doll clothes also helps you learn how the pieces go together in clothing construction much sooner than if you’re sewing people clothes. This learning happens faster because the project comes together more quickly, being smaller.

After you’ve sewn a lot of doll clothes and really understand how bodices work (and sleeves, pants, etc.), sewing people-sized clothes is actually quite easy. I thought it was easier than making doll clothes, actually, because after working with such tiny pieces, sewing large pieces seemed so simple.

(Originally posted 2/2/09.)