New Quilt Pattern Tested: One Block | Three Designs—Desert Series

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Desert Sun Quilt by Maeberry Square

Last month, I had the opportunity to test the newest Maeberry Square quilt pattern by Jessica Plunkett. This unique design uses a single block, but demonstrates 3 different layouts for distinct design options. I chose to make the 42” square Desert Sun design.

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Crop of Desert Sun Quilt

I’ve had a gift card to my local quilt shop in my wallet for some time. It’s not every day that I go to the local quilt shop and I wanted to use it to buy fabric for a special quilt. Now was the time! I flipped through my visual journal of sorts for color inspiration. (It’s a simple composition notebook that I occasionally tape clippings from catalogs and magazines into. Think of a primitive Pinterest board. Except, I cutout items or patterns that strike me and then occasionally, I task myself with adding to the pages—putting like colors or textures together. It’s just for fun with no goal, but it conveniently serves as inspiration for selecting fabrics for quilts.)

Here’s the one I chose: this photo/collage of juicy fruits. With the help of my young daughter, I chose a honeydew-green fabric, blueberry-blue fabric, and strawberry/raspberry-red fabric. I have yet to acquire the fabric for the backing and binding yet, but I’m thinking a deep blackberry purple for the back and cantaloupe-orange for the binding.

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Inspiration collage. Look at all that juicy fruit!

The squares are easy to cutout. The pattern lists exactly how many strips of each fabric to cut and then trim into squares. Having the strip number is so helpful! The blocks come together easily. This pattern uses a half square triangles, so if you’re a beginner quilter and haven’t learned the easy-peasy technique for making them, this pattern will let you in on that secret.

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Desert Sun Quilt

I’m pleased with the result! I thought that my colors would be gender-neutral (it’s a baby-size quilt), but I think the strawberry/red color skews it a bit more feminine. But then, who cares? Once I bind it, the added color may change the overall look. Although, I don’t have specific plans for this quilt just yet. I don’t know how to quilt it—hand, machine, or tie. And, I have three other quilts in progress right now. So, this one will probably be put on the back burner while I work on those. Isn’t it wonderful to have multiple quilts going all at once? Then, you don’t make any rash creative decisions. Haha! At least, this is what I’m telling myself.

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Desert Sun Quilt

If you want to make this quilt (or one of the other variations), the pattern is now available in the Maeberry Square Etsy shop.

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Desert Sun Quilt by Maeberry Square

Completed Zipper Pouches Made from Repurposed Clothes

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Completed pouches from upcyled clothing.

The pouches I had planned to make in April are finally finished! I’m happy with how they turned out and I’m excited that the only new material and notions I used was a bit of batting, some interfacing, and zippers. All of the fabric came from 2 thrifted men’s shirt, a thrifted dress, and a shirt I’ve had in my closet for over a decade (that I never really wore).

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Chambray shirt, silk dress, pinpoint oxford shirt, cotton wrap shirt.

I’ve been visiting the thrift store often this year, and when I see the amount of clothing, I can help but to wonder, what if all the clothing and fabric I need already exists? As in, I don’t need to buy new clothing and I don’t need to buy new fabric for my sewing and quilting projects. There are a few things that don’t mesh with this idea. It’s hard finding the exact piece of clothing you’re looking for in your size (and in good condition!). Also, if using clothing for sewing, the fiber may not be what you want. I purposely stuck to natural fibers. I didn’t want polyester. But, I think it’s a good goal to keep in mind, or at least to make it a goal to always start your shopping with a secondhand retailer. This is especially true for clothing. With online secondhand retailers, you can filter by size, brand, color, and more. So, if you don’t have time to go through the racks at a thrift store, online is a good option with the same outcome.

I digress! Let’s take a look at these pouches I made.

I loved using the chest pockets to create larger pouches. I added some handstitching and a wrist strap to one. I just love the idea of using that chest pocket for pens and pencils, note flags, needle books, maybe a dollar or two.

I tried my hand at the quilt-as-you-go technique. I was pretty loose with my fabric selection and didn’t cut with a ruler. This is probably the closest I’ve come to improv ever. Because it’s quilted, this pouch is thick and stable.

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Right is quilt-as-you-go pouch with fabric from all 4 pieces of clothing. Left is the Essential Pouch from the chambray shirt and floral wrap top.

Using the Essential Pouch pattern from Sotak Patterns, I paired the chambray with the green floral fabric from that shirt I’ve had forever. It was a wrap-style top, so I cut off the ties and used one as a zipper pull.

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Pencil-size pouch from a shirt I kept FOREVER. I think I kept it for so long not because I wore it, but because I loved the fabric!

Finally, I made a pencil-size pouch with the floral top. The lining (which you can’t see here) is the lining from the shirt. I love it!

At some point, I’ll get these listed on Etsy. I had so much fun making them, they deserve to be enjoyed. Plus, who couldn’t use another pouch. I love having one in my purse. I keep to-go sewing supplies in another. Give me a pouch and I’ll find a use for it! Surely there are other pouch enthusiasts out there!

April’s Sewing Goal Unfinished: Zipper Pouches Made from Repurposed Clothes

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Pouch pieces waiting to be sewn.

You read that title right. I did NOT finish my zipper pouches! This was my goal for April’s One Monthly Goal by Elm Street Quilts. My sewjo slipped away and after I was done prepping and making a craft for my daughter’s preschool Easter party and baking a lamb cake for Easter, I was left wondering where the month of April went.

But! I did make progress! I have pieces cut out for 4 pouches. I tried a quilt-as-you-go technique for one of the pouches. I just need to attach the interfacing and stitch them all together.

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Progress on the quilt-as-you-go pouch.

What can I say? Sometimes I can get it done and other times life gets in the way. I think I’m going to take a break from next month’s One Monthly Goal because I now feel like I’m off track. My goal for May was/is to make myself a dress. But, I want to finish these pouches. But, I don’t know if my sewjo has completely returned and I’m not sure if I can finish these pouches and make a dress in a single month. We’ll see!

Why I Label My Quilts

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My custom quilt labels I ordered last year.

Last year, it dawned on me that I should label the quilts I make with custom-made labels. This realization came in the form of hearing a statement about how a handwritten label on a newly installed breaker box in our house would indicate that the electrical work was shoddy. That is, a neat and tidy label shows that a professional did the work, and that the person takes pride in their work.

I immediately made the connection with creating quilts. Shouldn’t the person using or viewing my quilt know who made it? Some might still think that my skills are shoddy, but I do take pride in my quilting–ha! Adding a label feels like a signature. You wouldn’t sign your name to something you didn’t believe in, right?

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On the back of my chicken wall hanging.

Combing the internet, I finally landed on a site that allowed me to order customized labels in a small quantity. (I ordered 30.) This kept the cost down.

The labels simply say “T-Bud Co. Quilts Made By Theresa Budnik Combs.” Seeing it laid out in 3 lines, I think it becomes clear exactly where “T-Bud Co.” comes from (it’s an abbreviation of my name—a nickname). If I remember correctly, the font is Times New Roman, which is my go-to.

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On the back of my Ohio Star Quilt.

Here’s an aside: at the portfolio school I attended, there were many areas of study. I was in copywriting, but design was definitely the darling and most populated track. Although I was a writer, I still had to design my own portfolio—without all of the design training the designers received in the two-year program, of course. After dabbling with a couple of fonts, I decided to use Times New Roman because at the time it was the default font in Microsoft Word, my most-used tool. I figured instead of trying to look like I knew anything about typography, I would just be who I was: a writer with minimal design knowledge. Now, if I have the option, I always pick Times New Roman (and it’s no longer the default in Microsoft Word!).

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On the back of my Dazzling Pineapple Patch quilt.

Anyway, it’s very satisfying to finish a quilt and stitch on a label. One thing I’ll be playing around with is how to stitch it on. I wish my stitches were smaller. On my Ohio Star quilt, I used the same thread I used to stitch down the binding, both for aesthetics and convenience as I put on the label after I completed the binding. I’m thinking I’ll own the stitches and maybe make them a bit more noticeable with a signature color or thread. I’m thinking fuchsia.

I’m a bit curious, how do you feel about labels? Do you buy into the idea that adding a label shows you take pride in your work? Or do you let your work speak for itself? Have you purchased custom labels before or do you label them in a different way, say with a fabric pen? I’m curious to know!

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Custom quilt labels–having them should also serve as motivation to finish more quilts!

Reasons Why I Love Using Muslin for Quilt Backs

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Back of My Ohio Star Quilt

I love, love, love using muslin for the back of a quilt. I know, it’s not on-trend and I’ve even read a bit about a quilter who wasn’t interested in making quilts until she saw one WITHOUT a muslin back. But there are a few reasons why I personally love muslin quilt backing.

First, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to disassociate the art of quilts from the function of quilts. I believe quilts are meant to sleep under. They go on your bed. Quilts are meant to keep you warm. You need to stay warm to survive! Okay, so we can buy comforters and mass-produced blankets and quilts at a variety of brick-and-mortar stores and online sites. I don’t need to make a quilt in order to sleep comfortably. And, yes, I have, and will probably again, make a quilted wall hanging. Maybe I’ll make a quilt I love so much that I won’t want to have it on a bed every day and have it eventually wear down. (Yes, quilts wear down and get holes in them—they’re not invincible if you use them!) But, I will always sleep under a quilt (or two), because I believe in the functionality of quilts and I want my quilts to be beautiful and comfortable. Good muslin fabric is light and soft. It feels fabulous. It’s perfect for sleeping under. There’s a reason you can find muslin swaddle blankets (FOR BABIES)—it’s a soft and comfortable fabric.

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Detail of the back of my Ohio Star Quilt

Another part of my function reason is the cost of muslin. It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other quilting cottons. There’s a sense of economy when making your own quilt for use. I know, I know. Those mass-produced blankets/quilts/comforters are waaaay cheaper than making your own quilt these days. But, for me, there’s a nod to being fiscally efficient when I use muslin backing. If you’re a garment sewer, you may make test garments out of inexpensive muslin. You “make a muslin” before you cut into your really nice and expensive fabric.

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Back of Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

My second reason for loving muslin for quilt backs is the aesthetics. A “blank back” provides visual relief from a well designed and pieced front. If a quilt is a piece of art, the viewer’s eye gets a break when they take a look at the back—nothing to see there! Or, maybe the quilting is highlighted by the solid color of the fabric. The focus remains on the front of the quilt. All the meaning can be stitched there, without being confused or misunderstood by another side. In contrast, a patterned or pieced back can add another level of meaning and overall style to a quilt. Muslin backing, like any other fabric, patterned or pieced, is an artistic choice.

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Detail of the back of Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

I know better than to say “never,” but for now, I’m content on using natural muslin for my quilt backs. And, I love it.

What quilt backing can you just not get enough of?