Double Irish Chain


I have a new antique quilt top.    I date it to about 1900 based on the fabrics.   It is mostly machine pieced.

Here are 4 different ways to piece a double Irish chain.

double irish chain

The second example is how this one was done.   The 25 patch was machine pieced


and in the alternating blocks the 4 corner squares are hand appliqued as you can see here from the back.


It is mostly brown and blue. (click pictures to enlarge)

It is 74″ x 90″  and in pretty good shape, I should have no repair work to do.   I think I will use white for the backing.

Here is the Fantasy Garden progress

And the Log Cabin

I bought thread for hand quilting the applique quilt.

blue perleDSCN5433

The top is almost done and I have a white backing and cotton batting for it.

Teddy is watching with anticipation to see which I work on next.


Happy Quilting



Fantasy Garden


I worked on hand quilting the Fantasy Garden quilt a bit yesterday.    It is a small quilt so it wont take long to finish it.   (click pictures to enlarge)

The more quilting I add the more I like it.   It is hard to see the quilting in pictures but it does show up well in person.

More about a few other projects next time

Happy Quilting


Measure, cut, pin, sew


I am working on the log cabin variation top.    It deceivingly looks simple. If you look at the vintage inspiration tops you can see what can happen.


How did they get so off?  They did not measure.    It seems like a little thing but it is so important.   The temptation is to cut your strip and take it to the machine sew it on and then cut off the extra.

Here is a strip as an example, it is long enough with a bit extra on the right.


The temptation would be to take it to the machine, sew it on and then cut off the extra bit . We like to think we are very good and have no need to pin, we can easily keep the edges together and lined up as we go.     This is not a good idea because no matter how careful you think you are when you are sewing that much length there will be some fabric shifting, the feed dogs pull the fabric forward into the needle, but no matter what you do there will be just a tiny bit more pulling on the bottom piece of fabric than the top so the top will always end up just a tiny bit longer than the bottom and if you multiply that little bit row after row you end up with a very wavy top like the ones above.

To prevent this measure and pin.

I lay the fabric strip next to the top and mark where to cut it.


I could do a ton of math and figure out the exact measurements for every piece but yikes that sure sounds painfully tedious.   So I measure as I go.

Then I pin the strip in place


This prevents any slipping of the fabric across all that length.   Then sew and press.


Press carefully!   It is very easy to distort the fabric if you pull or stretch as you press.

It is also not a bad idea to be sure that the top remains square as you go.   I have had a few spots where I needed to trim a sliver off of the edge to square up and keep straight lines.   The bigger it gets the harder it is to keep it on track and flat.   I do not want a top that is a bumpy mess so I am taking my time on this.

I did decide to mix up the fabrics a bit.   In a previous post I talked about separating the fabrics into dark and light (   using a black and white photo.    I decided to mix a few lights into my darks and a few darks into my lights.


here it is in black and white where the value differences show better.


I think it makes it more interesting to have a bit more variety.

Teddy is enjoying watching

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But has not yet mastered the sewing machine.    (he can’t reach the pedal )

Happy Quilting




Log Cabin Inspiration


I often use vintage and antique quilts as inspiration for new.   I had a plan for my next quilt using these fabrics.


But I changed my mind.  I was looking through files of my other quilts and I remembered two quilts that I finished a few years ago, and I was inspired to change my plan and do a variation on them.

Most quilters are familiar with the Log Cabin Block
log cabin

Here is a post about several of the log cabin quilt tops in my vintage collection.

The block is simple.   Usually a square in the center surrounded by “logs” of increasing size, and usually light fabrics on one side and dark on the other.

Here is one of the quilts That inspired my new quilt.


It might not be easy to see the log cabin connection here because I had to add the large X to fix this quilt.   Here it was before


It was made with a few strips in the center rather than a square but the “logs” were added around the center like you would a log cabin, in this case light and dark were mixed together.

I had to cut it apart to get all the extra fullness out of the center, and then add the dark blue sashing to make it work.


Here is a post about how I did that

The next quilt is similar


This was a real wonky mess and I did not try to fix it, I worked with the wonkiness,   Here it is before quilting.

strip before

Here is a post about how I did the quilting

The was done like a log cabin but the logs were done with 3 strips sewn together


I am doing the new one with the traditional division of light and dark fabric.   First I cut the 20 fat quarters into 2 inch wide strips and kept them in 2 groups, light and dark.


I started with a 12 inch strip for the center rather than a square and then pieced as you would a standard log cabin.


I have only a small bit done, I will keep adding row after row and make a whole quilt top with one large block.

I will post more pictures as it grows.

Happy Quilting


More Hand Quilting





I have a bit more of the Fantasy Garden quilt finished.  As I said yesterday it is hard to see the hand quilting.


I am outlining the flowers in the large squares and also outlining each triangle just inside the seams.


here it is on the back  where it shows better

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I think the hand quilting shows in this picture


Any time the camera comes out Teddy wants to pose




The Bella Suede quilt is also coming along.


Teddy approves


here is the back


I hope to start piecing a new one tonight and I am in the planning stage for a new whole cloth quilt.  More about those soon.
Happy Quilting


Invisible Hand Quilting?


Back to some hand quilting.   I got the Fantasy Garden quilt top basted


As always I used safety pins.

For this I used white backing and Hobb’s Tuscany Wool batting.

This top is very busy.   The fabrics have so much going on that no matter what I do the stitches are not going to show much.

Lately I have been doing a lot with contrasting thread.  when the fabric has a subtle print stitching will show.


For the new one the actual stitches aren’t going to show because of all the pattern.

Sometimes this situation leads to what is called “quilting for god”   which means that you are investing a lot of time quilting but the only one who really knows it is there is god because no one can see it.

So how to quilt it?

This brings me back to the batting choice.    The batting I used is quite thick , it has a higher “loft” than cotton.  Even though it is thicker it is lighter and easier to quilt than cotton, it has to do with the fibers, there is more air space between them in wool.

I selected a lofty batting because the stitches wont show much (not at all from even a short a distance) but the texture will show.

the quilting stitches indent the batting and create a textured surface.

here is one block


one large square and lots of half square triangles.

for the triangles I am quilting it by the piece.  Simply stitch inside the seams on each triangle.


I am using white 40 wt hand quilting thread and a size 10 Bohin sharp needle.   Why white thread?  Because when there is not a predominant matching color I always use white or off white. I could have also used black.

The stitches in the tiny triangles do not show much but the texture does.   It is very hard to get a true view of that in a picture, particularly when I have just a few stitches done, but it does show on the back.


On the squares in the center of the blocks I will hand quilt around the flowers and leaves in the fabric.   I will post detail pictures of that when I get some more quilting finished.

I am just about ready to do some more piecing with this fabric.


Here I have divided it up into 2 rows 1 light and 1 dark.  Sometimes we only see color and value becomes obscured.   Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color. To sort by Value, or light and dark, it helps to ignore color.

If you are not sure you have your fabrics divided by value try eliminating color by taking a picture in black and white.

DSCN5435 (2)

Can you see how some of the fabrics actually have less contrast than we can see in color. I will rearrange them to improve contrast before I start piecing.

Teddy (freshly back from the groomer) has a new trick.   When I get up from my quilting chair he jumps on.


He wants to be sure I don’t forget to take his picture.


Now back to more of that invisible quilting

Happy Quilting



Women Only?

women only

I belong to several Facebook quilting groups.  The groups are wonderful, a sort of modern quilting bee or guild meeting with no time constraints.   Any time day or night there are avid quilters sharing what they are working on, beginning quilters asking for help, advanced quilters sharing tips.  It really is wonderful!

But there is one thing that really bothers me, (and since you are reading my blog and know I am a man I know you aren’t one of the offenders) Gender Bias.

I can’t tell you how many Facebook posts I read in these groups that start with “Ladies I have a question…”   or “Good morning Ladies I want share…”   How hard is it to say “I have a question”  or “good morning I want to share” rather than making it gender based by inserting Ladies?

Sometimes if I respond to one of the posts I will preface it by saying “I’m not a lady but….”

I have been called “girlfriend” more than once on Facebook by a person who assumed I was a woman.

One person posted on Facebook recently that she saw a man come into the quilt store and buy a sewing machine.   He just went in and bought one without even asking questions…She “knew” it was for his wife,  she could not even imagine what other reason a man would have to buy a sewing machine and thought it was terrible that he didn’t give it more thought or let his wife pick it out for herself.  Never a though that he might have bought it for himself.

I have made a lot of quilts, I write for Quilters Digest, I have been featured in Quilters Newsletter, have had 6 quilts in AQS shows, won the best hand workmanship award…I really do know stuff and I love to share it but I prefer not being called a lady or dismissed as a fool.

There are many men who quilt but we often get treated as second class quilters.     Today I went to the fabric store (large national chain) to pick up some thread and a piece of backing fabric.    The aisles are very narrow with no room to pass. A “lady” wanted to get past me so I backed up out of the way down another aisle and as she stormed by I heard her muttering under her breath “what is he even doing here?”     I have had clerks at fabric stores ask what my wife is making, or did my wife tell me what to buy.   Today the lady at the cutting counter was wonderful, pleasant and efficient, but often I feel like they are begrudgingly waiting on me when there are so many more deserving people in line.  It is the demeanor and tone of voice as well as the words.   Comments like “are you sure you know what you are doing?” or “you realize this fabric is for quilting don”t you?” are common, accompanied by eye rolls and head wags and facial expressions that speak volumes.

I try to do most of my buying on-line, my computer doesn’t give me attitude and condescension but I shouldn’t feel less than welcome in any retail store.

I realize that women have had the same experience in male dominated venues.   A friend of mine was once told by a car salesperson to come back with her husband before he would sell her a truck. (she went to another dealer and bought a new truck that night which I thought was great) It is not right to have a bias for what either gender has knowledge, skill or interest in.

So why write all this when I know that you aren’t guilty of it and it is just a minority?  I just needed to get it off my chest.   Thanks for listening :) and thanks for inviting this man into your quilt world.

Now back to Quilts

I finished the center applique on this


I bought backing fabric for this


Started a plan for this fabric


worked on this


and this


Something more uplifting next time

Happy Quilting