Sunday, November 8, 2015

Once again I ask you "What was she thinking?"

So it appears that there was interest in my quilt making journey and how I got to where I am today.  I am not in the least embarrassed to show you my older quilts. I'm proud of the fact that I was fearless and solved problems on my own. I made quilts that had I know how difficult they were, I would not have even attempted to make them! But ignorance is bliss and when faced with a problem I just used the skills and knowledge I had to figure out a solution. Actually sometimes I forgot to use that knowledge as is the case with today's quilt!

For me English paper piecing (EPP) was (and still is) the go to technique for creating complex designs without the need for precision cutting of fabric or marking of sewing lines on the patches. It is how I made the Wagon Wheels quilt I showed you the other day, I'm working away on requilting it and am enjoying the hand work. Polyester batting needles so nicely!

I also use this technique to make my Pound of Stars quilt.

More recently I used it to make Gardens of a King quilt top which is a pattern I tested for Missie of Traditional Primitives. You see, English paper piecing is not just for hexagons!

Honestly, if you want to do precision piecing of virtually any block, English paper piecing is the way to go. The quilt I am going to show you today was made around the same time as Pound of Stars and Wagon Wheels. What makes this one different is that it involved much more complex curved piecing and what I learned in making it was "use what you know". In this case I didn't use what I knew. I was accustomed to sewing clothes and I new about clipping curves (like when you are setting in the sleeves on a shirt) but it never occurred to me to clip the curves when I made this quilt. What quilt pattern is it? Well it was the pickle dish pattern and here is my version of the pattern.

Cranberry Glass Pickle Dish by Karen H

It isn't a large quilt but it has been used extensively over the years and it shows absolutely no signs of wear. For the most part it was stitched with the cheapest polyester thread I could find and I think that the two beige fabrics used where the rings connect might be polycotton! Here you can see both the polyester stitching and the beige fabrics.

One of the things I ask myself is what was I thinking when I used black - it was a nightmare to hand quilt on black. Because I didn't clip ANY of the curves  there were areas that just would not lay flat. So what did I do? Quilt the heck out of them of course! I wasn't entirely successful (actually I wasn't successful at all) but nonetheless I forged ahead and in the end the quilt did what it was supposed to do and that was get used! The second red triangle in from the right on the top curve is a leftover from the red border sashing in my Wagon Wheels quilt. The second red triangle in from the left on the top curve is a piece of the fabric I used on the backing of this quilt. I remember where and when I bought it. It was an older cotton fabric and only 36" wide. It was 100% cotton and I bought it because it was inexpensive!

I still hadn't figured out how to bind a quilt so I just trimmed the backing and batting (polyester of course) down and then turned under the edge of the quilt top (1/4" please) and the quilt backing and I whip stitched the two together. 

If I were to remake this quilt today would I make it the same way? The answer is yes and no. I would probably use EPP to make parts of the top and I would probably still use polyester thread (the quality today is excellent and it is inexpensive) but I would clip curves and make better choices in fabric colours (no more black thank you very much). 

Still, I like this quilt, warts and all. I learned a lot making it and it is yet another quilt that has been loved and used. Really, isn't that why we make quilts?

I don't plan on entering any of my quilts in a juried show because it just isn't my thing. I critique my own work and give myself a pat on the back when it is deserved. For me the most important elements of quilt making are taking pleasure in the process of making the quilt and knowing that the finished quilt gave someone warmth and comfort. My Cranberry Glass Pickle Dish ticks both boxes! 

Thank you for all the lovely comments on the last post. There were a few from No-Reply Bloggers so while I was unable to send you a person note (there is no email attached to your profile) I did read every comment.

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H


  1. I really love the pound of stars! Nice colors, vibrant, and has it the first steps in fussy cutting in it? Also love the way you made the border with different triangles. Never would have thought that may work out so nicely. I recently bought a set of stamps, the parts of this pattern can be stamped on the back of the fabric and hand pieced. Much new inspiration! Thanx a lot! Oh and about the black fabric... Try again! Love it!

  2. I LOVE the Indian Pickle dish...amazing. Sometimes i think the less you know the more you will attempt to make something just cause it appeals to you. And i totally agree that we make quilts for functionality and cuddling under....yours are just perfect!! ;---))))) Hugs, Julierose

  3. "English paper piecing is not just for hexagons!" Halleluia! Whenever anyone sees my EPPing, if it happens to be hexagons, I always say "English paper piecing is not just for hexagons!".
    I love your quilts, I have seen the star quilt before and liked it, but I enjoyed seeing the pickle dish quilt.
    When I go to a quilt show I am always more drawn to the old, slightly worn, wonky quilts, rather than the perfect, new ones.
    I wonder if, people are enjoying seeing your old quilts, partly because it's so encouraging to see that you were once where we are now in our quilting "journey". I agree completely when you say every quilt is a learning experience. It would make people laugh to know when I made my first quilt, I didn't know how to mitre the binding, so I cut the corners of the quilt off! I didn't realise I was actually making the mitres harde! :-D

  4. Karen I have been away for the last three weeks and just now catching up on your posts. I loved seeing your very loved wonderful quilts they are gorgeous. Yes all my early quilts well actually all my quilts are a learning experience. Thanks for sharing your quilting journey you have taught so many of us new techniques. Bunny

  5. I think your pickle dish looks great from here! Back in day (when I had to be more careful with the household budget), I would search out the cheapest fabrics to use for my quilts--I thought flat folds from Ben Franklin were wonderful, and had no idea some of them were blends. Some of the fabrics (particularly the blues) have faded terribly, but for the most part they are still pretty nice. My "circa 1970" self would be aghast at what I spend on fabrics now--lol! I love seeing your beautiful quilts and your journey--I think you were a champ right out of the gate!

  6. Karen, you've done a great job of keeping me focused on doing more EPP this winter. Working on my current commission, I hope to have that done by Christmas. Love all your quilts wonky or not, expert piecing is for those who enter competitions. Thank you for your own personal quilt show!

  7. All the quilts are gorgeous. I happen to be a fan of black and bright colours but I also like white and bright colours. I guess it's the contrast I'm drawn too. Thanks for sharing more of your quilts. As always, it's inspirational.

  8. More beautiful quilts! I love the projects that you tried while a new quilter: you are a brave woman! I've been sewing and quilting for years and still haven't tried the pickle dish yet! :-) And your Garden of a King is just amazing!! Hugs, H in Healdsburg

  9. Another interesting post Karen.. you are such an inspiration!

  10. I am so glad I stumbled onto this blog! It says some things I needed to hear. You are an accomplished quilter and you're OK with some imperfections, so why shouldn't I be? I need to quit being so hard on myself and realize they are still functional and will serve the intended purpose. Warmth, comfort and showing the recipient they are loved! Chances are they will never see any mistakes anyway!

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful message Laurie. I wanted to send you a personal note but you are a no reply blogger so I have no way to contact you.

  11. Lovely quilts! I love all of the detail. Your quilting journey has produced many heirloom quilts. Well done!

  12. Am loving The Karen H. Retrospective Exhibition:) What are the dates of all these beauties?

  13. We quilt for the same reasons! So many newbies never make it cause they are wanting perfection! I learn from each quilt and try not to make the same the mistake but it is more about enjoying the process and enjoying the stitching. I am finding myself doing more and more handwork! It's fun to look back and see our progress isn't it!

  14. such good information and I applaud your idea of critiquing your own work and giving yourself a pat on the back, I think anyone that takes the time to make a quilt needs a pat on the back because it is quite an accomplishment regardless of perfection. thank you

  15. such good information and I applaud your idea of critiquing your own work and giving yourself a pat on the back, I think anyone that takes the time to make a quilt needs a pat on the back because it is quite an accomplishment regardless of perfection. thank you