Wednesday, June 24, 2015

spinning pinwheels | a quilt for Sage

Yesterday I delivered another baby quilt, this one to the new daughter of a dear friend. I'm really happy with the way it came out for so many different reasons. Just ask Matt - he was sitting nearby when I was trimming threads and I kept bragging on myself :)

When I asked Ari if she had any ideas for what kind of quilt she might like for the baby she suggested a pinwheel quilt and gave me a stack of fabrics from a quilt she had started for her older daughter. I admit that inwardly I was dreading it a little bit because I don't love working with half square triangles. I don't like trimming them and I always lose too many points, but I was up for the challenge and grateful for the chance to improve my skills.

I went fabric shopping in my stash for some coordinating prints and I bought yardage of firefly from Bonnie Christine's line, Hello Bear, which I love. The rest of the fabrics are a mix of lots of pretty colors and prints - some of Heather Bailey's True Colors, Winged by Bonnie Christine, a random polka dot, some Cotton + Steel, one by Lotta Jansdotter, and I think the cute little ducks are by Tasha Noel. Even the back is beautiful - one big piece of Heather Ross's unicorns and some of her double gauze snails from Far Far Away along with some polka dots and a solid lavender.

I was inspired by this quilt by Allison of Cluck Cluck Sew to add the polka dots instead of using plain white for the pinwheels. I've had it pinned to my quilt board on pinterest (you can follow me here, if you'd like!) since she posted it about a year ago, and I would have loved to be able to make the black and white low volume sections scrappy, but I don't have a very big scrap stash so I went with the firefly print instead. I love the contrast the creamy white provides for the bright and bold prints. I used this Missouri Quilt Co. tutorial to make the HSTs which made them go pretty quickly, although I confess I didn't use starch and they still turned out alright.

I mentioned earlier that I was happy with how this quilt turned out for many different reasons, so let me tell you about them all :) First of all, I love all the prints and colors and gleefully exclaimed over them as I was cutting and piecing. My points are all soooo good, which never happens for me. I admit that I tend to rush and that leads to inaccurate seam allowances but I really took my time with this one and it paid off. I sound like a rookie; you'd never think I've been quilting for about seven years.

I also learned how to spin my seams to make them lie flatter. I've made one other quilt with all half square triangles and I felt terrible for my nephew who received it because the centers are so bulky and I just couldn't imagine his tiny baby self comfortably lying on it, but I didn't know any better. This time I thought to myself that there must be a better way so I looked it up and sure enough there was. It added another step to the process but I didn't mind because it was totally worth it.

I haven't done a lot of free motion quilting, just some simple loop and wave designs that were large and loose, but I decided to really go for it with this one. Since it's a pinwheel quilt I wanted to make the quilting look like wind but I'm not sure I achieved that. I quilted uneven kind of long swirls but they ended up looking just like swirls and not like wind. But I like them anyway and it made the quilt crinkle up perfectly. This was the first time I quilted an all over design this densely and I'm excited to work on my free motion quilting skills more soon.

Now on to the binding. Ever since I first saw this print by Sarah Watts from her first collection for Cotton + Steel I've wanted to use it as a binding and this quilt was the perfect one for it. The colors were all just right and I love the way it almost looks like a stripe. I can't remember if I've written about my labels before, but I love them! I think I've used them on probably less than ten quilts and there are a couple things I'd change about them (they're a tiny bit too small and I sometimes think about coming up with a name other than Tara Celeste Quilts) but I love them and am so glad I have them. They're printed by inked papers with a design I created on paper and Matt translated to the computer. Next time I'll have to get a picture of the reverse side which features a cute heart and an outline of Rhode Island :)

As you can see, Finn broke the quilt in a bit before we brought it over to the new baby. He and Ezra make it impossible to get the kind of quilt pictures I have in mind, but I think the way they came out is kind of perfect. Sure, the quilt is billowing like a sail (why do I always think it's a good idea to take pictures near the water?) and there are children grabbing at it and rolling around in it, but I love that we got a few cute candids of the boys out of my quilt shoot. As always, thanks to Matt for being willing to take some photos on his time off! He doesn't have much of it so I always appreciate that he doesn't mind taking out his camera and then editing some pictures for me. It's always nice to have a little family outing during the week since Matt is so busy on the weekends. On this day we tagged along on a commercial shoot he was doing for a realtor and then we had a picnic lunch from the Beehive Cafe (the roasted chickpeas!) at Independence Park in Bristol. If I could live in Bristol and never have to leave I think life would be great. It's so adorable there.

Anyway, I hope this quilt brings much comfort and warmth to sweet baby Sage. I've been thinking a lot lately about what a quilt can be because I really love making them and hope they're as special to the recipients as they are to me. A quilt can be something you snuggle under, something that keeps you warm, something that dries your tears. It can become part of a fort or be a picnic blanket. It might be used as a photo prop, or just be in lots of family photos by accident because it's a fixture in your home. A quilt can be woven into your childhood memories because of all the ways you can use it, and I do hope my quilts get used. A fellow quilter who I know on instagram, Astrid, writes a lot about quilts and their importance, and I'd like to quote a recent post of hers: "A friend asked me recently, "How do you want people to use your quilts?" and it took me by surprise, because I'd never thought of an answer beyond "however you want." But really, I want them to get worn out. Lived in. Lived on. Lived under. I want them to be dirty from picnics outside, and stained from orange juice spills, and for the colours to fade and the patterns to wear off. I want them to be handed back, in tatters, for fixing. I want them to grow threadbare from a hundred little feet trampling on them." 

Suffice it to say, a lot of love and prayers went into this quilt and I hope it is well loved :)


  1. this is so adorable...there is something so sweet about pinwheels. they are so classic and simple. i also started following you on pinterest!

  2. So special and so personal! Love all of your quilts, Tara! You have a talent for sure! And it's so awesome seeing it being used 😊❤️

  3. That FMQ link I sent you today has a tute for wind! What is it,in a box jaunt, or something like that.


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