21 Ways to Use Quilts!

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When people think “quilt” they usually conjure up an image of patchwork on a bed. This is probably the most common way to use a quilt. So it’s #1! But, there are MANY other uses for quilts. Take a look!

#1 Cover a Bed–from cot to California king, there are quilts available for beds. A quilt makes a bedroom cheery and inviting. Quilts on beds can even sell homes!

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#2 Drape as a backdrop at an outdoor wedding–rustic, outdoor ceremonies need something tall and wide to help frame photos. A patchwork quilt does the job!

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#3 Celebrate a first time grandmother–for years, I have given quilts to my friends who were becoming grandmothers for the first time. The quilts are meant to stay at the grandma’s house and not go with the child. Every time there is a new visit, or a new grandbaby, the Grandma Quilt is tossed on the floor for tummy time!

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#4 Cheer a friend going through cancer treatment–years ago, when my now 91-year-old mother-in-law was undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer, I found lots of fabrics that related to her interests (bowling, painting, cards, grandchildren, the beach, etc.) I turned them into a lap quilt she could take to the treatments as well as snuggle under when she napped. I’ve made several “Caring Quilts” since then.

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#5 Wait for Santa!–during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, little ones have such a hard time containing excitement and keeping their behavior in check. A fun little quilt to use while watching all of the seasons specials helps to calm them.

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#6 Keep a little on dry at a sleepover–when a child’s bladder has not developed as quickly as his/her social skills, a quilt lined with PUL (poly-urethane lining) can prevent embarrassment. I call mine the UnderCover.

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#7 Raise money for a school–collecting children’s handprints, or using a school symbol/crest, and having them sewn into a quilt that boldly announces the school’s colors, can garner anywhere from $200 to $200 (depending on the school) to be used for new equipment and supplies.

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#8 Adorn a sanctuary–a church can celebrate a special occasion (in this case it was the installation of a new pastor) but commissioning a quilter to make altar and pulpit cloths.

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#9 Make a road trip extra fun–a small quilt with a print that screams, “we’re driving through many states!” is a great addition to a family road trip.

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#10 Toss on a rocker--what a classic! Quilts help a rocker say, “come, sit awhile with me.”

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#11 Thank a pastor/teacher–collect signatures and messages written on squares of fabric (Sharpie Ultra Fine markers work best for this) and have a quilter sew them into a lap size, or larger, quilt to give to a beloved pastor or teacher on a special occasion (anniversary, retirement, promotion).

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#12 Preserve high school memories–kids, especially those in athletics, amass quite a collection of t-shirts during high school. Have a quilter turn them into a gift to take to college.

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#13 Raise awareness for an orphan disease–recently, I have come to know two people who suffer from the little-known disease Prader-Willi Syndrome. I made a quilt that features the “color” for the cause, orange, and donated it to be auctioned at a walk to raise money and awareness.

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#14 Remember babyhood–babies grown into children (and then into adults so quickly, soon the only thing that’s left is their soft, sweet smelling outfits. Have a quilter make them into a keepsake.

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#15 Christmas tree skirt--a carefully-crafted quilt with a slit to the middle and a circle cut out of the center makes a lovely landing spot for gifts under the tree.

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#16 Improvisational tent–a small patchwork quilt does double duty as a fort house or tent! (samantharichardsonphotography)

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#17 Capture a moment–lay a quilt on a bed or the floor and then let your little one lie on top of it. Giggles will ensue and a great moment will be captured on your camera! (karenosdieck)

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#18 An alternative to a guestbook at a wedding— set up a special station with cotton squares, Sharpie Fine Point markers, and a sign encouraging wedding guests to write their names or leave a special message for the bride and groom. A quilter can bring all of the messages to life in a sure-to-love-for-forever wedding guestbook quilt.

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#19 Announce an engagement–just like a pet, a quilt is something special for a couple to purchase together as they set out to start a new life. Engagement quilts can provide attractive backdrops for the photos that say, “we’re getting married!”

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#20 Cover a table–my friend, Sam, uses a patchwork quilt she bought from me as a table cloth to showcase her line of skin and lip products, GOODNYOU? The quilt helps to say, “you can trust these things I’ve made for you.”

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#21And don’t forget the picnics–lots and lots of picnics are enjoyed on top of brightly colored patchwork quilts!

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Adding a New Line to My Collection

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It’s been a while since I’ve explored a new color/pattern option for the quilts I sell. My standards (Classic Americana, Warm Earthtone, Cooler Neutral/Soft Pastel/Beach Colors, Funky Random, Cottage Chic and Spring Green) have been selling well the past several years.

But, lately, I have been itching for a color scheme that evoked a lighter, simpler quilt experience. I like the bright primary colors in the Classic Americana–a LOT. So, I took that style and “lightened” it up with some beige and white offsetting squares.

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Selecting the light prints.

I started by pulling some bolts of light fabrics, with small prints, from my shelves.

From each bolt, I cut 5″ strips across the width of the fabric and then cut 5″ squares from those strips. I have created a box of squares especially for this color scheme. It will be the Americana Offset box. (Every color scheme has its own box. I am constantly adding 5″ squares to all of the boxes.) I then added Classic Americana 5″ squares to this box.

Squares are sewn to each other in strips. Half of the strips end up with the light fabrics at the end and other half has the light fabric in the middle. The 9-patch blocks are sewn together with a similar pattern–half have the light squares in the corners and half have the primary prints in the corners. Ironing a stack of 9-patches gives me a lot of peace and serenity.

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SIXERS!

When I started making quilts for SecondSanctuary, I needed to develop standard, interchangeable parts, so I created the SIXER. A SIXER is a unit comprising six 9-patch blocks sewn two across and three down. I use four SIXERS for a lap quilt, six for a picnic/double quilt, six (plus 13 9-patches) for a queen and so on.

I like to use a bright red backing fabric for any of the Classic Americana quilts, including this newest version, the Americana Offset. I need just over 3.5 yards of backing fabric for a lap size quilt. Then, I mount the backing, some cotton batting, and the top of the quilt onto my log-arm quilting machine and do rows and rows of a loose meandering stitch design to keep everything together.

I like my binding strips to be scrappy, just like my quilts! I have a huge pile of 2.75″ strips in one corner of my sewing studio–I’ve chosen five strips that will match the Americana Offset look. I stitch the binding to the back of the quilt first and then bring it around to the front for a final run through the machine. I do this so that my label ends up on the front of the quilt.

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Lap-size Americana Offset quilt! 54″ X 81″

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Cozy shot of a cozy quilt.

Proud to be a BIG DOG!

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Paul Pierce’s wife describes him a “bigger than life.” This man, who passed away at age 57 in 2012, was adored immensely. And, he adored so many things immensely in return: the Air Force, the Phillies, his motorcycle, his children and grandchildren, Hawaii, and, of course, his beloved wife, Diane.

Paul and his motorcyle.

Paul and his motorcyle.

I say all of this to explain why making a quilt out of Paul’s clothing is a huge undertaking. Usually, I can process a shirt for a T-shirt quilt in a bout an hour. For this project, each shirt is  taking me 1.5 hours! But I am enjoying every minute of the process. As I spread out the shirts and determine which parts will be used in the quilt and the wall hangings, I think about Paul and his interests.

Each shirt needs to be cut along the neck, armholes and sides.

Each shirt needs to be cut along the neck, armholes and sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because Paul was so large, he often wore Big Dog clothing, a line of shirts tailored to the very big and very tall. It makes sense, then, that I include a the size label from the neck of one of the shirts in the finished product.

The size label from a Big Dog shirt.

The size label from a Big Dog shirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love including the front buttons of a shirt in a quilt. Every time someone looks at the squares made from this part of the shirt, they will think about the person who buttoned and unbuttoned this garment again and again.

I don't toss away the buttons...I use them in the squares of the quilt!

I don’t toss away the buttons…I use them in the squares of the quilt!

What a BIG Surprise!

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When a recent customer asked me to make a Queen-size quilt plus FIVE wall hangings from her deceased husband’s clothing, I thought, “Well, I hope she has many articles of his clothing because there will be a lot of fabric required for all of those quilt.”

Turns out, I didn’t need to worry. Denise’s husband was 6’4″ and 280 lbs. His clothing, especially his US Air Force flight suits, are so large that I will be able to cut many 5″ squares and have plenty of fabric for the quilts.

Here’s a look at the box that recently arrived in the mail.

First look at the new arrival of clothing for some quilts.

First look at the new arrival of clothing for some quilts.

It may not be obvious, but these items are HUGE. Denise's husband was 6'4" and 280 lbs.

It may not be obvious, but these items are HUGE. Denise’s husband was 6’4″ and 280 lbs.

Sign-up stations for Wedding Signature Quilts

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Here are a couple great shots of signing stations for signature quilts.

Love the way this station has a "sample" square indicating the need to keep the message inside the 1/4" space around the edge of the square.

Love the way this station has a “sample” square indicating the need to keep the message inside the 1/4″ space around the edge of the square.

So cheery and inviting!

So cheery and inviting!

Look closely--the sign reminds people to write in the middle! (any writing that goes to the edge will not show up on the quilt.)

Look closely–the sign reminds people to write in the middle! (any writing that goes to the edge will not show up on the quilt.)

Prayers for Juliette

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Members of the Clifton Quilt guild holding nine-patches for Juliette's Hope Quilt. From left: Kim Verthelsen, Evelyn Post, Michele Kopack, Agnes Dembia, Dale Rice, Rosemary McGuire, and Jo Ann Tropiano.

Members of the Clifton Quilt guild holding nine-patches for Juliette’s Hope Quilt. From left: Kim Verthelsen, Evelyn Post, Michele Kopack, Agnes Dembia, Dale Rice, Rosemary McGuire, and Jo Ann Tropiano.

This evening I did a talk for the women of the Clifton Quilt Guild, in Clifton, NJ. They wanted me to talk about the ways that quilting connects me with lives of other people. I had many stories to share, but the one I focused on was the story of little, 11-month-old Juliette who has been suffering from a seizure disorder since she was about a month old.

Julilette will be undergoing surgery on Friday, July 5 to remove a part of her brain on the left side. I have been making a quilt for her. Her mother calls it “Juliette’s Hope Quilt,” which is a great title because Juliette’s middle name is Hope. (Who could have guessed that she’d need such a profound name?)

Nine-patch blocks for Juliette's Hope Quilt.

Nine-patch blocks for Juliette’s Hope Quilt.

While I was doing my talk, I took out all of the nine-patches I made recently and passed them around the room. The women of the guild laid hands on the patches. Some even prayed for Juliette.

I want to do everything I can to bring people together through quilting. Tonight was a lovely chance to do just that. I hope Juliette can feel the love that was expressed for her tonight in a town a continent away.

One Square at a Time

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I’ve been working on a special quilt lately. In some ways, it looks like any other quilt I make; nine-patch blocks of random cotton calico all sewn together into a large top to be layered with batting and backing and quilted together on my long-arm machine. These photos show the simple, ordinary process of putting a quilt together.

Three rows of three squares each, ready to be stitched together.

Three rows of three squares each, ready to be stitched together.

Checking the layers as they run through the machine.

Checking the layers as they run through the machine.

I LOVE ironing nine-patches. I could do this for hours, and sometimes I do.

I LOVE ironing nine-patches. I could do this for hours, and sometimes I do.

There are 42 nine-patches in this snaking pile. Only 7 more to go.

There are 42 nine-patches in this snaking pile. Only 7 more to go.

 

 

Patch, by patch, row by row, a quilt block is created. Then it’s ironed and set aside to be added to a large pile of nine-patch blocks.

Just looking at this large pile of work excites me. And, knowing that this quilt is being made for a special little baby who will have brain surgery on July 8 to address seizure activity (up to 25 of them per day right now), brings me to tears. (It’s hard to sew, at times, when teardrops are falling on my stitching.)

Please pray for Juliette. I am.

Juliette’s Hope Quilt

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The fabrics being processed.

The fabrics being processed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I finally had a chance to cut the fabric for Juliette’s quilt into 5-inch squares. They are so beautiful. I noticed that LeLan, Juliette’s mother, ordered several fabrics from the same collection. This was really smart because it insures a cohesive look to the overall patchwork in the end.

I’ve come to know LeLan as a woman with good taste and high standards. With the first quilt I ever made for her, she saw the sample blocks and asked that I take out certain prints and add others. This wasn’t easy, but I wanted to please my customer, so I did it. In the end, LeLan was right–the quilt looked so much better than it would have had I not made the changes.

As humans, we need to trust that God has high standards for us as well. I believe, and I think LeLan does as well, that God has high standards for baby Juliette despite the seizures she is enduring. God’s way of looking at His precious child is different from ours, for he has created us and knows us in our inmost being.

I continue to feel honored that LeLan has asked me to make this Hope Quilt for little Juliette.

Stacks of beautiful fabrics, cut and ready for stitching into 9-patch blocks.

Stacks of beautiful fabrics, cut and ready for stitching into 9-patch blocks.