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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Quilting on the go

 by Joy Rusonis

  It has been a busy few weeks at my house. My husband had shoulder surgery and his arm is in a brace--which means he can’t drive. So I have been spending time in doctor’s offices and physical therapy. Luckily, I had a quilting project to take with me.

    One of the beauties of hand piecing and quilting is the ability to take handiwork with you. I try to always have a portable project available to take along; when I am quilting, I don’t mind the time I spend waiting. I only wish I had discovered this when my sons were younger--I spent countless hours waiting for them after practices, etc.

      The project I worked on was especially fun. My sister was nice enough to buy multiple chances on my quilt guild’s table runners. She didn’t win, so I told her that I would make her one for her birthday. She said she wanted something more modern than traditional, so I sent some patterns and we decided on a large nine-patch.  She also sent me a swatch of the covers to her dining room chairs.

    Let me say, that while I have nothing against them, I am not a “neutrals” person. I am just not drawn to earth tones, so there aren’t many in my stash. To get a good variety of quality fabrics, I decided to shop at the Hershey Quilt Odyssey. There were some amazing quilts there, including a lot of hand quilting and stunning antique quilts. And shopping for fabric is always fun.

    It took me a while but I found some great Stonehenge fabrics and a few additional  neutrals: I’d like to say I had everything planned, but I really have to cut and arrange my fabrics together before I know what I am doing.

      When I got home I added the rust and dark batik fabrics. I wasn’t sure about the very dark fabric for a few days, but I think it kept the runner from being too monochromatic.I cut out the squares with a rotary cutter, but used a template to mark the piecing lines.

I cut five squares of each of nine colors. When I decided on a an arrangement of each row, I pinned them and labeled the rows.

After assembling the nine blocks, I used the center color to make a border for each. I partially assembled four blocks, but before doing the fifth, I arranged the four I had and planned the fifth block to make a balanced design.
This is the layout I chose

I don’t have a design wall, so I lay project on the floor and “squint” at them. I like to leave them there for a little while to I can arrange and rearrange.

I loved the fabric that I tried for the border of the fourth square, but didn't like how it looked with the other borders.

Finally I took five of the fabrics and cut large blocks for the back. I wanted to make it reversible. This was the only thing I did on the machine, I wanted to make them slightly wider than the front, so I could trim them to be even with the front.

All the squares were hand quilted with a different pattern. I used a knife edge binding so that it was flat and so there wasn’t an extra color around the border. I found it a little difficult, but I like the way it turned out.

Making something for someone special is really fun. Both my sisters have been so great to me and have been there for me countless times.. I will have to get up a little more courage to make something for my other sister, she is such a talented artist and crafts person. She will be retiring next year--maybe I will get an idea for that special occasion.
The finished table runner

The reversible back


  1. I can see this is going to be well loved by your sister a lovely table runner

  2. That's a very pretty table runner. I like your choices of fabrics, and your quilting stitches look great. Your photos are pretty, too.

  3. I think you did a great gift quilt and it will be loved. I love the neutral colors.

  4. I would say that is better than winning the draw... custom made!
    I also love to have take-along work. I ride the train into town, sit in long boring meetings, and spend time waiting. I used to get frustrated with wasted time but now I always carry something to read and some hand-work. If I have to stand on the train or waiting I read. If I can sit, I do handwork. (reading in meetings would not be considered polite but quilting is OK) All that time is now a bonus.

  5. Hope your husband is still mending nicely. The table runner is great - like the front and the back. Lucky you that you can get back to your hexies tomorrow. My company leaves the 4th. And I'm loving it. Thanks for stopping by, Karen.

  6. Oh, this is such a pretty runner! Your sister will be so pleased!

  7. Thank you so much for picking my card as one your winners from the teddies challenge, it is such an honour.
    Thank you for all your hard work in making the challenge so successful, it's a shame that the challenge is ending but I can totally understand your reasons and wish you all the best.
    Sue xx obat penggugur kandungan

  8. I love what I have seen of this site so far, thank you
    I have seen so many quilts that were not ever gotten past the quilt top stage. I saw an article back in the late 80's or 90's about a quilt as you go or lap quilting. I filed it away and when I started doing hand piecing and hand quilting almost 5 years ago now that is the way I decided to go. It can be intimidating to quilt a large quilt as one piece.
    But, hand piecing a block then making a sandwich with one block and hand quilting leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges not quilted is easy, I don't even use a hoop for this. Instead of the traditional quilting stitch for in a frame quilting I do a running stitch to quilt. I've seen many a quilt done between 1930 and 1960 that didn't do the tiny perfect stitches that so many quilting magazines would like us to think is the only right way to quilt. Many of the old every day quilts did much longer stitches than a show piece quilt.
    When I am ready to assemble the quilt blocks, I sew the fronts of two blocks together, trim the batting and any points. Then lay the blocks with pieced side down and fold under one side of the backing and whip stitch it in place.
    I have made 2 between queen and king size quilts this way and one queen summer weight quilt with no batting. Taking between 9 months and 1 1/2 years to complete each. The quilts are pick up projects that I work on in between other projects and I always have blocks for a quilt ready to work on in my to go bag. I spend a lot of time as a passenger in the car and in waiting rooms.
    I even designed and hand pieced hand quilted 3 Ultimate dog show bags using this method. Two of the bags are entirely hand sewn , including assembly and putting in zippers. I've done a couple of things combining hand sewing and using the hand crank sewing machine


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