Monday, July 24, 2017

Social Quilting and the Lovely Bee Swarm

One of my goals this year has been to be social with my quilting. I have been looking for opportunities to connect with other quilters, participating in things like Quilts for Pulse and Quilts for Peace.

"49 Hearts" made for Quilts for Pulse
This quilt hangs at the Dallas Police Department in memory of the five officers lost on July 7, 2016. I made the two heart with stripes. Our neighbor and friend, who is an officer for our local country department donated the patches.
I've also met new quilty friends by participating in quilt alongs, where someone posts a pattern in steps and quilters from all over work on the same pattern together. Earlier this year, I finished Bonnie Hunter's En Provence Mystery quilt.

Locally, I made charity quilts with my church's quilting group. This quilt found a home in a Russian orphanage. 

I haven't participated in any swaps yet. I always seem to hear about them too late. But, I did get into an online quilting bee this year sponsored by Blossom Heart Quilts. My "swarm" is the Lovely Bee Swarm. Here are the blocks I've made so far this year. 

In addition to meeting a new group of quilters, it's been fun to dig into my stash and make blocks I might not have considered if not for this group. 

In August, it's my turn to be the queen bee! I chose the Abacus block in deep purples and lavenders. 

I'm so excited to receive happy mail when I get back from vacation. Before I left, I already received this block and goodies from one of my swarm members! So much pretty purple!!

Do you do any social quilting? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

You can see what else I'm up to on Instagram. Follow me at dejongdreamhouse.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

One Month Goal: July 2017 Update

I did it! I did it! After a rough couple months on the goal front, I completed my July goal! I did give myself a good headstart, but I'm thrilled to have my 83rd quilt finished!

Celtic Midnight is an original pattern inspired by a perler bead template. Since I'm really on the ball, I've already written up a separate post about this quilt. I've already had multiple requests for the pattern, so it may be something I write up in more detail. 

Stay tuned to see how easy I'm being on myself in August!

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Grandma's Kitchen Quilt Along: #3: Key Holder

It's week 3 of Pat Sloan's weekly mystery quilt, Grandma's Kitchen, and I have a new block to share.

This week's block is called Key Holder. Pat shared her childhood fascination with her grandparent's key holder.

I have a vague memory that there was a key holder on the wall going down the stairs in my grandparents' house, but they lived in a teeny tiny town in Northern Minnesota where most people didn't lock doors.

(As a side note, despite the small size, Blackduck has an awesome quilt shop!)

The beauty of quilting is that even when a group of quilters are working on the same pattern, we still make our work our own. My quilt will be a collection of memories of my gramma: the small town where she raised her daughters, the trips she took, the hobbies she enjoyed, the people she loved. While following the pattern for the block, I chose my inspiration not from Gramma's key holder, but the one who held the key to her heart.

Gramma and Grampa were married for 62 years before he passed away in 2004. They met in high school and married during World War 2. Grampa Leo, whose nickname was Moose, was a game warden who often brought home animals to be nursed back to health before being returned to the wild. Together they enjoyed fishing, hunting, golfing, playing cards, and exploring their retirement home state of Arizona.

For this block, I used some Minnesota Shop Hop 2015 fabric I bought the last time I was in Minnesota, as well as some olive green/khaki fabric that reminds me of Grampa's conservation uniform. 

So far, the only fabric I've repeated is the white tonal background fabric.  The final pattern hasn't been revealed yet, but I have some ideas for pulling it together. 

Something fun happened while I was making this block. There was a tap on the window of my sewing room. I looked up and saw this goldfinch watching me. He sat there for quite awhile chirping at me. I picked up my phone to take a picture and I swear it posed for me!

Previous blocks:

Monday, July 10, 2017

#83 Celtic Midnight

Awhile back, my SIL asked me if I would make a quilt for a friend who has really helped her a lot over the last few years as she has been dealing with some health issues. As someone who lives with a brain injury, I understand the depth of gratitude one has for those who help instead of fade away. 

When I asked her what kind of quilt her friend might like, she said her favorite colors were black and gray, and sent me a picture of the tattoo she has.

I was told that the tattoo is a family tattoo. The Irish coach we hosted a few weeks ago told me that "family tattoo" could mean family in the tradition sense of parents and children, but it could also mean that it is the recognized knot for a particular family name. Both Eimer and I spent entirely too much time looking for the name of his knot with no luck. Now, sometimes, when I want to make a quilt, the idea materializes immediately and I know exactly what I want to do and how it can be made. And other times, my brain just doesn't seem to cooperate and I have complete mental block.

I still think I could translate this design into an angular version, but time's a-wasting and I wanted to be sure I had enough time to finish the quilt before we left for the Netherlands.

I did find this Celtic knot as a perler bead pattern by tacobell105527 on

(I saw the same pattern in a different colorway on Kandi Patterns. Both were posted in 2014, but I don't know which was first).

Fortunately for me, Ingrid like the pattern and told me to run with it! I recreated the pattern in EQ7 so I could get fabric yardages. I also added the corner sections.

I had a lot of fun playing around with the colors on this one. I'm keeping this Irish flag version in my back pocket as a possible quilt to make after we return from Ireland.

I made the quilt using Pellon 445JAS fusible interfacing for quick assembly. I may do the Irish one with pieced strips to see how much time that takes in comparison. But to give you an idea of how quickly it went together. I made the first block on June 28 and finished the binding on July 7, so nine days sewing a few hours a day. Not bad for a quilt that looks complicated!

The only tricky part about quilt assembly was making sure I kept my template in the same direction. I marked the top left side, which made it easy to adjust it as the paper got moved around as I worked. 

I also made sure that I measured after every row to make sure my squares were 2". It saved a lot of time when I only had to rip out one row to make adjustments rather than discovering inconsistencies when the whole block was done. 

Ironing seams open is my least favorite part of making quilts this way, but it went pretty well this time.

Fun fact: I almost always wear my hair in a ponytail. I don't like hair in my face. Because my hairstyle is very simple and my hair is very healthy, I rarely get it cut. While I was making the quilt, it was starting to bother me and the grays were annoying me--the grow only on my hairline, which means that a pony tail is probably the worst way I could style my hair if I want to hide the grays. A few weeks back, I learned that the beauty college where I have gotten my hair cut in recent years closed suddenly. It took me a bit to decide on a new place, another beauty school where I could get a cut and color, hour massage and 30 minute facial for less than $100. God bless students! It's a little a shorter than I planned, but I love the purple. And I learned that quilts-in-progress make great backgrounds for selfies. 

I love my Pfaff Expression 4.2 for piecing. So much that I bought another Pfaff for my travel machine (a Passport 3.0) But I really, really REALLY want a BabyLock Coronet for quilting. I've played on one several times and love how intuitive it is. My local dealer knows I am saving my pennies. I'm hoping he will let me rent some time on it while I'm saving. Niels and I agreed that I should save up for it and pay for it in cash rather than financing because we have other big expenses. Darn, I hate when he makes sense. So, in the meantime, I used a spiral to quilt this quilt. 

My binding continues to improve. I only had to fix 2 spots this time!

Since this quilt is going to someone in the Netherlands, I used Dutch for the label. It says, "Give with appreciation for Jolanda from Ingrid de Jong. Made by Jen de Jong of" The font is called Paul's Celtic Font. The center of the capital "O" is the design of Jolanda's tattoo! I worked a little editing magic to include it on the label.

To see more pictures of this quilt in progress, look for #CelticMidnight on Instagram.  If you'd like to see what I'm currently working on, follow me at de Jong Dream House.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Grandma's Kitchen Quilt Along: #2: Sticky Buns

I'm continuing to share my progress with Pat Sloan's weekly mystery quilt, Grandma's Kitchen.

This week's block is called Sticky Buns. Pat was inspired by a favorite treat her grandma made.

I didn't spend a lot of mornings with Gramma Ann because she lived three hours away when I was growing up and at least 3 states away when I was an adult. Still, warm rolls for breakfast reminds me of sleeping in and a lazy breakfast in pajamas. Maybe because when I visited Gramma, it was usually a holiday or vacation when we had time for leisurely meals. Gramma loved leopard print. In her 91 years she had more than a few leopard print nighties and PJs.

For this block, I used one of Gramma's leopard skin shirts as the main print. The coordinating print has a filigree pattern, which is very feminine, like my Gramma, a former Avon lady who was quite a knockout in her day.

My aunt sent me this picture of Gramma with more leopard skin attire. She even had a leopard skin cane in her final years! I asked my aunt why Gramma liked leopard so much and she said, "I don't know. Maybe because Grampa did." Va va voom, Gramma!

Grandma's Kitchen Quilt Along: #1: Grandma's Table

When my Gramma Ann passed away in 2014, I was given a box with some her clothes. I knew I would make a memory quilt someday but didn't know when someday would come.

I've been thinking a lot about Gramma lately because we are  few weeks away from our trip to Europe. We will spend most of the time catching up with Niels' family, but since my mom and aunt are joining us, we are going to spend five days in Gramma's beloved Ireland. When I started seeing posts about Pat Sloan's new quilt-along, Grandma's Kitchen, show up on my FaceBook feed, I felt that zing of inspiration I was waiting for.

The first block is called "The Kitchen Table." Pat has been encouraging quilters to share stories about their grandmas as we make this quilt together. It's been fun hearing the stories, and seeing how blocks are inspired by those stories. It's also interesting to see how some people veer off depending on how their creativity leads them.

When I think of Gramma's table, I think of her kitchen. As a child, I thought it was so modern and cool because the cabinets opened by touch instead of knobs or pulls. I'm sure I spend many hours on the floor of her kitchen amusing myself by opening and closing and opening and closing those cabinets. When I was going through her photos a few years ago, I came across this picture of her in her kitchen. I imagine her making her famous lemon bars there.

Gramma's lemon bars inspired this block. I finally had a good excuse to use the citrus fabric in my stash. The yellow print reminds me of lemon slices and the white of powdered sugar. 

Because this a mystery quilt, I don't have any idea what the final design will look like. I'm using the white tonal as a consistent background, but beyond that, my blocks will maybe fit with the cooking/kitchen theme, or maybe they'll feature something else she loved. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 2017 One Monthly Goal

Okay, I'm on a bit of a rough streak with my goals. Last month, I though I was being easy on myself by setting a goal to make my husband's weighted blanket, but it was a bit of a colossal fail with the minky not cooperating at all. My brain injury was really acting up. Summer heat makes my brain melt and things that I can usually sort out just seems too overwhelming. I set it aside and will try again later.

I'm feeling better again and did finish my ladybug quilt that was my One Monthly Goal back in April (!).

I'm really hoping I make this month's goal, because it has a deadline. We are headed to the Netherlands soon to visit my husband's family. I started a quilt for my sister-in-law. She asked for a Celtic-themed quilt with black and gray. I based the design on a perler bead pattern. I'm calling it Celtic Midnight.

I've made good progress so far. The top is pieced. All that's left is to sandwich, quilt, and bind it. I should be able to do that it two weeks, right?

Fingers crossed!

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Friday, June 23, 2017

#82: Lainey's Ladybug

I've been having a rough go in the craft room lately. Between my broken foot and an uncooperative quilt, I haven't had a finish in awhile. I'm happy to report that my quilting ship has turned around and I have a finish to share today!

Lainey is the daughter of a local friend. She has always left nice comments about my quilts, which is a good way to get on my quilting queue! When her mom first referred to her as Ladybug--a year ago!--I knew I wanted to make her a ladybug quilt.

Most of the fabric was taken from my stash, but I did buy the adorable ladybug print from Urban Zoologie and found the smaller ladybug print on clearance from Joann.

I designed the original version of the quilt on EQ7. But as you can guess, I varied a bit from this once I realized how big I made my ladybugs!

I made two different versions of nine patches, nine of each one. The squares are 3.5" so the blocks are 9.5".

I put my Silhouette Cameo to good use for the ladybugs. 

I cut 9.5" squares of a white tonal for the background. At this point, I remembered that I wanted to do my applique differently, but since all the pieces were backed with Heat N Bond Lite before I cut them, I keep going. 

If I were to make this quilt again, I would have ironed the fabric onto freezer paper instead of Heat N Bond, then used basting spray to attach the pieces on to the background temporarily, and appliqued the way I did for Gioia's French Roses.  I also would have designed the red ladybug shell with holes cut out for the dots. This would have made the ladybugs softer and thinner. Ah well, as they say in the Netherlands, helaas pindakaas.

Originally, I planned to make the quilt as a square, since Lainey is a baby. When I first pieced it, it was 54" x 54", which is pretty big for a baby quilt. So I took off one row and added it to the bottom to make it a rectangle instead. I think this will let her grow with it a little more.

Once I saw how big it was compared to our king size bed, I made the decision to skip the border. 

Lainey will be able to grow with this quilt for a long time!

The quilt stayed like this for a few weeks while I worked like mad to finish Mrs. Gentry's Library. In the meantime, I found the perfect minky to go on the back. 

I love the way applique looks from the back.

I quilted straight lines, one inch apart, using invisible thread. 

For the label, I used an image of one of the ladybugs.

I had an extra ladybug block left over when I changed the quilt from a square to a rectangle so I made a little taggie blanket, too. 

To see more pictures of this quilt in progress, look for #LaineysLadybug on Instagram.  If you'd like to see what I'm currently working on, follow me at de Jong Dream House.

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