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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Newlywed Quilt and Quilt-As-You-Go Technique

I could not write about this project until it was finished, boxed up and mailed out and received....  because it was a special gift to my nephew Darren and his new bride Chelsea!

Last fall, we attended a wonderful outdoor wedding in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan joining my nephew and his lovely bride in matrimony.   What a darling couple!

Part of their homespun rustic themed wedding decorations were these pendant flags cut out from various patterns of calico and country cotton fabrics.  The bride-to-be cut out hundreds of these from fabric she bought at the quilting shop.  What a great idea!   You can see the pendants strung on jute twine, lining the aisle, adorned with logs as posts, and painted mason jars with flowers. The archway was built by the father of the groom (my brother) and later became a gift to the parents of the bride for their garden.

In the background of the reception hall, you can see the fabric pendants strung along the walls and tables... It was the most adorable wonderful family wedding to be a part of.  What a great time we had!

As we were helping to take down the decorations and clean up on Sunday morning, I asked the new bride what was she going to do with the fabric pendants?  She really didn't know, so I offered to take some of them and make something special.

 I alternated the triangles with pieces of natural colored muslin,
making strips of random triangles, no pattern intended.

Next, this is the where the technique 
comes into play. 

Essentially, it is working one panel at a time by doing fancy stitching of a quilting pattern through all three layers----  top, batting, and backing ----  working each strip complete, then attaching on the next strip to work.  It's a method that allows a regular home sewing machine to make a quilt without having to send it out to a big flat-bed long arm quilting service. (or hand stitching it all as it was done in the old days!) 

Here are four diagrams I made up myself that kinda explains the technique for my fibery readers....  if this doesn't interest you, just scroll down to see the finished quilt!






Okay... now that you understand the concept, 
let's go back to the photos of the actual quilt being created! 

So far, I have done a few kinds of free motion stitching for decorative appeal on some of my quilts.  I have done the "puzzle piece" style called meandering.  I have done diagonal lines criss-crossing called hatching.  I have learned fancy swirls and feathers and vines etc.   

For this quilt I chose something new...  I am calling them "Loopy Swirls"    The random loops and reversing directions is kinda tough at first, but once you get into the swing of it, the panels just roll along as I do the stitching.  Instead of going from the top to the bottom like most sewing, I found it easier to start at the bottom and work backwards so I could see what I already created and knew the stuff coming up behind the needle was clear and open.  I could be sure I covered all the open spaces with loops and swirls.

FRONT                                                BACK 

The hardest part was matching up the seams on the isosceles triangles.
It was joining up six seams into each intersection!

I have a Sew Steady table extension to my sewing machine, which I keep on an old fashioned typing table.  (thanks Linda Guelig!)     That gives me more room to sew and supports wider pieces of projects.   

In the middle of all this intensive quilting, I realized the light on my sewing machine didn't work so well during the nighttime hours.  I just happened to see a GREAT sale on the new style of Ottlite at Joann's... it's called The Cambridge Lamp and looks old fashioned, but gives clear white light to see true colors and it's wonderful for sewing or crafting! It was the perfect style for my 100 year old home!  The regular Ottlites look space-age and modular.  I never cared for the look of them, but always wanted the good clear, clean light to work on my projects.

I saw that the lamp was on sale from $139 down to $69 and after my 20% coupon it was only $55! Score!     I can also use on my old treadle machine which, of course, doesn't have ANY light at all! 

Back to the quilt....

Finally the quilt grew to a full queen size.  I had to add borders all around. I had enough scraps to make little right angle triangles to go around all four sides. (By this time I was SICK of doing isosceles triangles!)   

I had to move the whole project now into the diningroom. I have found that if I just set my sewing machine on the diningroom table, my arms are up too high for all the intensive free motion stitching.  It takes a lot of concentration and tenseness builds up in the shoulders if I hold my arms up too high for too long periods of time. 

Soooooo  I butted my sewing machine on the little typing table right up to the diningroom table to carry the excess bulk and weight of the quilt.  They are now on the same level. That can leave the section I am working on free of any tension so I can move the section that I am working on and glide it freely around to do the loopy free motion stitching. 

Whew... finished!  I bound off the edges with more muslin, 
and I added a handmade tag commemorating their wedding date. 
It's a bit rugged and rustic, but I think it fits their wedding theme.

 And... here it is!  

The quilt is not perfect, there are some lumps and bumps along the way. Just like marriage.  But I hope they find comfort in each other's arms as they cuddle under this quilt over the years.  I want them to USE it and love it; not just store it away somewhere to keep "for good".   They are moving to a new house at the end of the month, so it arrived just in time as a house-warming gift too!

P.S. I was reminded from a fellow blog reader that I should add a part about their reaction!   Well, I shipped it out and texted them to watch for a box.  It came while Darren was home, but he was warned by his wife Chelsea to NOT open it until she got home from work!   LOL   They were delighted and excited and thrilled with the quilt.  I am soooo glad they like it.  It puts a smile on my face to think of the happiness from their wedding day, that I had a chance to be a small part of it. 


  1. Great job on the quilt. It is beautiful and I am sure they will treasure it. I agree that "things" like this should be used and enjoyed.

  2. Such a beautiful quilt and filled with so many memories of their special day.

    Hope you have had a lovely day. Sue

  3. Awesome gift and wonderfil job. My Mom did those triangles on all her gift quilts. It was her signature!

  4. What a wonderful way to use the pennants, and a lovely quilt. You explained the quilt as you go thing very well, but I still don't think I could get it. I have done free motion on my regular machine for lap sized quilts, but that is all. Kind of fun stuff to do. Thanks for a fun post.

  5. CRIKEY!!!!!! How good is that?????? My Mum can't sew to save herself. She loves what you did with that bunting. She still wonders what happened to Hazel's quilt? She loves all that quilting and thinks you are ever so clever. All that time and trouble you took to make something REALLY special for the happy couple. I am sure they will treasure it ALWAYS. Mum has just recently inherited an old sewing machine. Nothing fancy. It just does straight stitching but she made me a coat with it. You'd have thought she'd sewn a coronation outfit or something. She was so proud of herself. I like it. It keeps me warm and she washed it and it didn't fall apart so that's good, aye?? I think a quilt is a bit beyond her though!

  6. What an amazing gift of love you have given them! I hope they appreciate the time and work you put into that lovely quilt and will treasure it as a family heirloom.

  7. What a wonderful gift you've made! I used to do the free motion, but only on crib quilts. Very nice job of including wedding decorations into an heirloom.


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