Love. Sew. Patch.

Dear friends,

Despite the horrendous Headache Threat Level that has nuked my entry into the new year, I have managed to rack up three — that’s THREE — quilt finishes so far in 2014.

I figured my head hurts whether I’m up or down, so save 14 hours spent in bed on Dec, 31-Jan. 1, I’ve been sewing through the pain.

As for the first finish, I can’t tell you about it until it arrives at its new home, later this week or next. Same for the third.

But the second finish was for Kate, and she’s headed back to college in possession of one of the cutest and warmest quilts I’ve made.

Take a close-up look:

tenniscu

Last spring, I attended some pretty chilly college tennis matches (where chilly equals wearing a coat, hat and gloves and still being cold). I noticed some of the girls carried blankets to wrap around themselves in between matches and that’s when I got the idea that my CupKate needed a tennis-themed quilt to take on the road.

I purchased the fabric nine months ago and even cut it into the proper size squares. And then I got distracted by other projects and the tennis quilt has sat unattended all this time.

I vowed to get it done before she left home in January, but two commissions kept me busy through December. By Jan. 3, I knew I had less than a week to get it done so I sprang into action, spending all of last weekend sewing, squaring and arranging 122 blocks of green, yellow and black fabric. (Kate’s college colors are green and black.)

I failed to take a photo of the entire quilt before she packed up and left home, so here’s one she took with her phone from her apartment. It’s not great quality but you get the gist:

tennis

On Black Friday, I just happened to score some extra-soft white flannel with tiny lime polka dots for $1.75 a yard. It made a perfect — and extra warm — backing for the quilt. And while shopping the day after Christmas, Kate tripped across some black fabric with miniature tennis balls and multi-colored racquets that was perfect for the binding.

I’m so glad to get this one off the sewing table and into heavy rotation. Kate’s tennis season starts Feb. 4 and, if January has been any indication, she’ll need every ounce of warmth she can lay her hands on.

With gratitude (for deadline-induced productivity},

Joan, who’s relieved to report she’s been headache-free for a couple of days, though her energy level is still in the basement without liquid stimulants

PS: If you are at all interested in the quilt pattern, it’s called a disappearing 9-patch and you can find a tutorial here

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Love. Sew. Much.

Dear friends,

I finished Kate’s quilt top on Sunday. It took me all day to sew on a bit of ric-rac and two borders, but I got it done. It was harder than it looked — those corners are tricky — but I finally figured it out and spent the evening admiring my work and showing my finished creation multiple times to everyone in the house.

I’m not showing it to you just yet . . . because I want to surprise you with a photo of the finished quilt. I think you’ll like it. It’s as cheerful a quilt as I’ve ever seen despite the fact it was my maiden effort and presented no shortage of problems for me to solve. If I haven’t yet mentioned it, math and geometry are not my strong suits. I’m convinced somebody else could have figured out how to construct the darn thing in half the time it took me.  But Mr. Mom says even though I learned to quilt the hard way, I’ll never forget the lessons. He claims solving a problem with your hands is a sure-fire way to remember the solution forever.

I’m so excited to ship Kate’s quilt top off to be quilted. I can’t wait to get it back even though I know I must be patient. I’m told it typically takes most quilters weeks to return a quilt — and then I still have to bind it. I’m betting you won’t see my finished quilt until late July or early August, but won’t it be fun when it’s finally ready to be photographed?

In the mean time, I do have a little something to show you . . .

Since I finished Kate’s quilt with an entire day left in my holiday weekend, I woke up Monday morning just itching to get started on my next project, which is — yep, you guessed it — another quilt!

This one is for Kate, too. Even though I’ve tripped across at least three other quilts I’d like to make for myself, I simply couldn’t say no to this idea once it popped into my head. And the great news is that this one is super simple.  (I only needed to make one quilt without a pattern and instructions to learn my lesson. I may be foolhardy, but I’m not a hard-headed fool!)

My new quilt is called a disappearing 9-patch because the foundation of the quilt is a 9-block patch that “disappears.” Take a look:

9patch2

I first got the idea for this quilt in February when Mr. Mom and I sat through several of Kate’s tennis matches in very chilly weather. I noticed she and her teammates all took blankets to their competitions to stay warm while not on the courts, so I immediately dreamed up a special “tennis quilt” for my favorite player.

I began collecting small yardages of tennis themed fabric and coordinating prints and, before I knew it, I had enough to make a quilt. It took me about an hour to cut all my fabric into 5″ squares yesterday morning. But once I finished, that’s when the fun really began. Combining the squares into new and interesting 9-patches is the most enjoyable part. Here’s another combo of squares.

9patchuncut

Now here’s the “trick” of this quilt. Once you sew nine patches together in a 3X3 grid, you cut each grid in half — twice. What you’re left with is four smaller blocks made from a single grid. It looks like this:

90patchcut

Once you sew and cut a number of 9-patch grids, you’re left with an assortment of smaller blocks you can arrange in any number of ways. I think I prefer a “random” arrangement that looks something like this.

collage

The beauty of this quilt is that you get a lot of bang for your buck. The finished quilt looks like you did a lot more work than you actually did (which is the “magic” of sewing larger pieces and then cutting them into smaller pieces). Since my first quilt looks like it was a lot easier than it actually was, it’s only fair that my second looks a lot harder.

Perhaps that’s the yin and yang of quilting?

With gratitude {for a long weekend spent creatively obsessed and sew fulfilled},

Joan, who’s a little grateful that the weatherman predicted rain all weekend, prompting Mr. Mom to cancel the family’s kayaking plans and giving her ample time to hide behind the sewing machine