Forest Galorest

I loved this pattern from Java House Quilts the first time I saw it.  If you love it as well, you can purchase it yourself here.  I started working on this quilt back in September.  The applique would be needle-turned, meaning by hand.  The edges would be turned under and stitched down by hand vs fusing down a raw edge applique onto the background and machine finishing the edges (a tedious, but much quicker method).  I figured it would take me about 2 years to finish; a nice project for me to work on in the evenings before bedtime.  My daughter was going to start “trying” to get pregnant soon.  Maybe this would make a nice baby quilt.  If she never conceived, I could keep this quilt for myself (trying not to get my hopes up).  Her older sister took several years of trying to conceive naturally and then several attempts of in vitro before getting pregnant.  So, 2 years… I would have plenty of time to casually work on this quilt.

Then, in October, she told me she was pregnant.  Or, was it late September?  She was due June 2nd.  I was shocked, floored.  Surely, it was too soon to know for sure… a false positive…  I admit it.  One of my first thoughts was about this quilt.  How on earth would I get it done in time?  It has plenty of big pieces but also LOTS of tiny pieces.  I figured I’d better get busy.  As I got farther and farther into this quilt, I was kicking myself for not machine appliqueing it.  It is what it is.  And, I am done now.  I’m late for the arrival, but I am done.  He’s about a week old now and a cutie patooty!

The question once I finished it was how to quilt it.  The more quilting you do on a quilt, the more thread you add to that quilt and the heavier and stiffer it gets.  This was for a baby, so I wanted it to be soft… or at least as soft as I could make it and still add details to it.  You will notice there are plenty of gaps in the quilting where it seems like there should be more quilting.  That was intentional to prevent the quilt from becoming too stiff and heavy.  I stitched down enough to give the effect of what I wanted and then let the rest go.  Sometimes you’ve just gotta “let it go.” 😉  My desired effect was playful, yet polished.

Simple swirls were stitched inside the appliqued blocks around the animals and flowers.  My instinct was to put something formal on the outside edges of the pieced blocks, but I ended up putting animal paws there instead.  They are not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s okay (Let it go!).  The way you make these animal paws is to stitch a curvy triangle with 2 ovals going up one side and 2 ovals going back down the other side, all as a continuous path with no starts and stops.


What should I do with those outside odd blocks along the border?  I could have added nature scenes, but that would involve intense stitching.  It needed to be open and flowing.  So, I opted for something formal and polished in those areas; feathers and curved cross-hatching.  Traditional feathers would be nice, but I chose bumpy ones to mimic butterfly wings.

I did sneak some playfulness into some of those areas.


As for the borders, I started at the bottom and stitched a very loose fern to mimic a grassy look.

Moving up the sides, I stitched pine trees on the left by the raccoons and bear.  My pine trees got worse as I stitched more and more of them (Let it go!) up towards the owl.

On the right, I transitioned the ferns into leafy vines to meet the squirrels at the top.

At the top I transitioned the leafy vines to meet the rays of whatever that circle thing is around the owl’s head.  It could be the moon.  Or, it could be the sun.  Whatever your imagination sees is what it is.

A couple of notes… as far as the binding goes, I had a hard time deciding which fabric to choose.  I finally decided that I wanted to see that darker blue repeated somewhere in the quilt.  It’s one of my funny idiosyncrasies; I believe you need to repeat fabrics in a quilt to make it look more polished or professional.  So, I chose that darker blue for the border and had intended to make a piping of the pale blue stripes that you see very little of in the quilt.  The pale blue stripes are around the little square blocks where I stitched curved cross-hatching and also in the corners of the border.  To get that effect, you create a faux piping within the binding.  Here’s a tutorial by Margo Clabo from “The Quilt Show” of how to create that.  For whatever reason, I decided I wanted to go with 1/4″ piping, so I cut my strips at 1 3/4 inch for the pale blue stripes and 1 1/4 inch for the solid blue – after stitching the strips together and then folding that wider pieced strip, I’d have a 1/4″ piping instead of 1/8″ inch piping.  That was a mistake.  It turned out to be a flange.  There’s nothing wrong with a flange, but I was worried about it flapping around.  So, I stitched it down.  I’m okay with that.  It still looks fine (Let it go!), and I still get to see both of those fabrics along the border.

Also, if you are wondering how I place appliques on their blocks, I draw out the original design onto a piece of plastic first.  This particular piece is one of those pieces of plastic that hold papers together with a strip of hard colored plastic, while the clear plastic acts like a folder for the papers.  I use a vis-a-vis marker which stays on there until I run water across it.  I don’t know whether or not a dry erase marker would work.  If you have tried that and it does, please speak up in the comments.

My goal is to teach you something new with my posts, if I can.  So, I hope you learned something today!


3 More Books

Book Review #1…Civil War Legacies II by Carol Hopkins


Martingale - Civil War Legacies II (Print version + eBook bundle)

Carol Hopkins wrote Civil War Legacies, and this is the follow-up to that best-selling book.  Although she uses 1860s reproduction fabrices, this would be a great book for using up those scraps. Carol gives tips on selecting fabric for these projects. Many of the blocks are great for beginning quilters to learn, and the small scale make them perfect for gifts, wall hangings, doll quilts, table toppers, etc.

Martingale - Civil War Legacies II (Print version + eBook bundle)

The red quilt below would make a great table mat for a tea or coffee bar, imho.  And, the one on the right has true primitive colors… kind of looks like the sun peeking through the night.

Martingale - Civil War Legacies II (Print version + eBook bundle)     Martingale - Civil War Legacies II (Print version + eBook bundle)


Book Review #2…Stack, Shuffle, and Slide by Karla Alexander

Martingale - Stack, Shuffle, and Slide (Print version + eBook bundle)

If you’ve heard of Stack the Deck type quilt blocks or Stack, Cut, and Shuffle quilt blocks, you will find Karla Alexander’s latest book as another twist on those block cutting models. Karla takes the fear out of color combinations by showing you  how place the different values of the colors within the blocks.  She includes patterns for the different levels of quilters, so there is something for everyone.  Many of her quilts are made with the modern and carefree look.  The quilt below on the left (the darker one)  is for a beginner quilt maker (believe it or not! – it all has to do with color and value placement) and the one below on the right with the triangle flags is for an intermediate level quilt maker.

Martingale - Stack, Shuffle, and Slide (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - Stack, Shuffle, and Slide (Print version + eBook bundle)

Book Review #3… Fabulously Fast Quilts by Amy Smart

Martingale - Fabulously Fast Quilts (Print version + eBook bundle)

Amy Smart is a blogger who is having a blog hop this week.  She and her blogger friends are sharing tips and techniques for making the quilt process go quicker and smoother.  If you’ve got time, head over to her blog here.  If not, you will still find pleny of tips and techniques in her book.  You can find her book on Amazon or at the Martingale shop site.  If you’d like a signed copy of her book, go here to order one from her shop.  In her book, you will find 12 quilt designs with lots of movement and that will work with a variety of fabric styles.  Many of the patterns use precuts and scraps.

I thought this one looked interesting – I could use up one or more of my jelly rolls on this quilt, I think.


Martingale - Fabulously Fast Quilts (Print version + eBook bundle)

I thought this quilt below gave a new twist on the chevron quilt we’ve seen so many of.  This one is made with strips, though, instead of triangles.  Could be a Quilts of Valor quilt, a boy’s quilt, a Fourth of July quilt, etc….

Martingale - Fabulously Fast Quilts (Print version + eBook bundle)

Many thanks to Martingale for providing the above books and to their photographer, Brent Kane, for providing these pictures!  You can find any of the above books at Amazon or directly from the Martingale shop.

As a side note, I did not get the following book to review, but I thought some of the quilts in it were cute, so I wanted to share some of them with you.  I don’t have any little kids to make these quilts for, but I find the NEED to buy this book.  😉

Martingale - Animal Parade  Martingale - Animal Parade

Martingale - Animal ParadeMartingale - Animal ParadeMartingale - Animal ParadeMartingale - Animal ParadeMartingale - Animal ParadeMartingale - Animal Parade

Bears for the Baby

Isn’t this a cute baby quilt?

Leanne's baby quilt 005

I haven’t had the chance to work on a baby quilt in awhile, so I think I was taken aback when I first got this one from Leanne.  It’s adorable, so how could I possibly add anything to this to make it even cuter?  Hmm…  Well, first off you see the stuffed animals.  Can’t you just see a toddler with its thumb in its mouth and holding onto this quilt by the toes of one of those critters?  ADORABLE!!!

Then I noticed the pinwheel blocks and thought I could add pinwheel sticks to the blocks and bears holding onto the sticks of the pinwheels.  So, that is what I did.  The zig zags on the pinwheel blocks are supposed to resemble wind blowing.  The quilting didn’t turn out as cute as I thought it would, but Leanne didn’t seem to mind…  😉

Leanne's baby quilt 006 Leanne's baby quilt 007 Leanne's baby quilt 008