Quilt Notes

While working on the quilt for my brother, I took photos of the process to share.  However, I feel like I should tell you that I don’t really consider myself a quilter.  I love quilts and I admire those who create them, but making these pretty blankets requires precision and accuracy that brings out the perfectionist in me and I quickly unravel.  So I refuse to let myself go there.  I get it as close as I can and keep moving.  If you are a quilter, this post may drive you nuts.  My points and lines aren’t spot on and much of what I did, I made up as I went along.  This is not a “how-to”, just a bit more of the story.

For Mike’s quilt, I had no real design plan.  I knew I wanted to alternate a square of old fabric with a square of new fabric, but beyond that, I was still really unsure when I began. So once I had decided on the particular MODA fabric I was going to use, I picked up a fat quarter of each and started with that.

I then took a deep breath and cut up my brothers quilt.  There’s nothing so scary as cutting up another person’s dearly held possession.

Each set of squares needed to be evened up to begin with.  Many of the original pieces did not line up well and I was hoping to have a good base to start from.  I was able to cut 5″ squares from both the old and new fabrics to work with.

Once I had all the squares ready to go, I started playing around with them… laying them out in different configurations until I got a pattern that I really liked.

Then it was time to put it all together before part of it got knocked off the table forcing me to start over.  You know… weirder things have happened.

I carefully machine stitched the squares into long rows.

Once those were done, I pretended they were straight and stitched them together into one large quilt top.

To anchor the busyness of the squares, I decided to frame it all in with a border of the dark blue fabric that I pulled off the back of the old quilt.

And then it was just a matter of finishing it off with a larger border and backing in the MODA fabrics.  This required another trip to the quilt shop for more fabric since the fat quarters were all used up with the quilt top.

Once it was all together, I machine quilted along the same seam lines as the old quilt squares.  The result is that the new squares were broken up into quarters similar to the old set.  I think this helped everything blend together nicely.

The only thing that would’ve made me happier with the final outcome is if I could have delivered it to Mike in person.  But let’s face it… that’s just as much about getting to see my goofy brother as it is about returning this blanket with it’s crazy long history.

In the height of this busy season, have you taken on any new sewing projects?  Do you plan out every design or do you like to see how inspiration hits you?  What projects do you know really stretch your creative or technical limitations?


  1. Stacey says:

    I so want to do this! So let me ask a dumb question… is the edge of the quilt sort of like working with bias tape? I’ve done many projects with packaged and making my own bias tape and have had great results. Is this similar but on a larger scale?

    It’s so pretty, Danielle. As I get older I find that my patience for long drawn out projects is dwindling and it’s really pissing me off. I really want to do things that require time, detail, and great patience. I need to work on that flaw. This really inspires me!

    You better call yourself a quilter my dear. You’re rocking those squares! I’m working on a quilt post right now and I’m finding that it’s not about perfection.. but as you said… the story and emotion. Bravo! It’s a work of art.

    • Danielle says:

      Yay… I can’t wait to see your quilt!! It sounds like your machine is definitely getting a workout right now. Very fun!

      Yes, the edge is suppose to be like using bias tape, but I totally cheat and do my own thing. Real quilters add border fabric on the back, fold it over, and then hand sew the raw edges together on the front. Thinking about hand stitching the perimeter of a large quilt makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. So instead, I sew a large border to the back, fold it over to the front and then I fold it over again, tucking the raw edges inside and machine stitch the whole thing down. I’ll post a detail photo on Instagram for you to check out. It’s because of stunts like this that I just can’t call myself a quilter; it does them a disservice, but you are sweet to say so! (I have a hard time calling myself a writer too, but Tyson keeps telling me I need to get over that.)

  2. Alex @ northstory says:

    This is incredible, Do you know what would have happened if I tried to even stitch one panel of those squares together? I’m still terrified of getting my fingers caught under the needle in the sewing machine. I’m in awe.

    • Danielle says:

      Ha! I’ve yet to sew over my fingers, but I just know it’s going to happen one of these days. I have been known to snap the needle in half and have it go shooting across the room when I’ve tried to stitch through too many layers of fabric. Some days I think I should wear safety goggles. 🙂 Somehow, I think with all of your other crafting talent… you would be brilliant at sewing too.

  3. the home tome says:

    Admittedly, I don’t know the first thing about quilting but I think this looks quite professional! The color combo is very masculine and the pattern is great! You are such a nice sis and he is a very lucky guy 🙂

  4. ScrapAndSalvage says:

    i must bow before you. no way in hell could i ever do this. i lack the patience (which i feel like is kinder way of saying something else). it turned out great. you are INDEED a quilter!!!!!

    • Danielle says:

      Thank you… you are WAY too kind. You could totally do this and your quilt would have this cool, retro vibe that would be amazing!! In fact, you SHOULD do it. I think you would surprise yourself with something truly great.

  5. Victoria Elizabeth Barnes says:

    That looks like the result of a “real” quilter to me. The thin blue border is a great accent, and you really laid it out so nicely. Pretty, but masculine.

    I laughed at the “I pretended they were straight.” I’ll have to remember that pretending is an option—next time I’m struggling with the imperfect nature of a project.

    I hear you about wishing to deliver it in person… my one brother lives all the way on the other coast (CA) and seeing him is the highlight of my family’s year… its just not the same if we’re missing one of us!

    • Danielle says:

      Pretending is ALWAYS an option… especially when the alternative is sobbing as your family slowly steps away from the crazy lady.

      It’s the worst being away from family. The killer is seeing how well both of our kiddos enjoy spending time together and they only get to see each other every few years.

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