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?

The Evolution of an Idea: My Completed Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

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Completed Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

My Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt has been through quite an evolution. At first, I was going to make a series of single-block mini quilts and tie them with sequins. I know! Sequins and quilts! All the heart eyes! (I did a study, which you can see here.) I started with 3 color combinations that looked snazzy on their own: aqua and teal; navy and pink; lime green and purple. The only thing that links these fabrics is the white print on most of them. Before I had all 12 blocks done (the pineapple block takes a long time), I decided to stitch them together into a single quilt.

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These colors are so much fun in a single quilt, even though I’m not convinced they “go together.”

Once the top was done, I figured I would machine quilt it. I wanted to hand quilt it, but there are a lot of seams and that makes hand quilting pretty difficult. But, once I had it basted, I screwed the walking foot onto my machine and all I got were uneven stitches. I literally didn’t have enough time to fiddle with my machine (I had to pick up my kids), so I set it aside. In the meantime, my mind casually wandered to the apocalyptic: WHAT IF MY SEWING MACHINE IS BROKEN, NEVER TO MAKE ANOTHER STITCH AGAIN?!?! (If you’re me, this is a very rational and logical question to ask after unpicking about 2 feet of uneven quilt stitches.)

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I bound the quilt with fabric from each block to maintain the jumbled sense of colors.

I did my best to think through the problem. Hand quilting was out of the question, but what about doing ties? Like those textural crisscrosses with the tie on the back? Like I did on my Welcome Blanket? Ooooh! I liked it and didn’t look back.

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I left the ties long on the back of the quilt.

On a family outing, I convinced my husband to stop at a craft store where I jumped out of the car, ran inside, snagged more than enough skeins of embroidery floss, put on my blinders and walked straight to the registers, paid, and made it back out to my family in truly the 5 minutes I said it would take. (From this point on, I worked on this quilt with the same sense of urgency: I wanted to get it done, but I needed to get it done.)

As I was tying the quilt, I though, hey, there aren’t too many seams in the sashing. Oh, the gears were turning. I could do a running stitch in the sashing! And so I did. With the same thick embroidery floss I used for the ties. I got the texture I wanted in the beginning when I lamented there were too many seams to do hand quilting.

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Since popping a knot of embroidery floss into the fabric would have been hard while hand quilting, I left the knots on the outside. The knots just look like another tie.

I am so, so, so glad that my sewing machine and walking foot didn’t cooperate! The Quilting Goddess was surely looking out for me that afternoon: it was mean to be. I love how this quilt turned out!

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It’s not done until the label is stitched on!

Side note: this was March’s One Monthly Goal for the link-up hosted by Elm Street Quilts. Hooray! I got it done…and with some time to spare!

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Completed Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

March’s Quilting Goal: Baste, Quilt & Bind My Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

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Completed Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt Top

It’s time for March’s One Monthly Goal Link-Up by Elm Street Quilts!

My goal is to finish my Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt. I finished piecing the top last October and completing this quilt is on my 2019 to-do list.

I’ll use cotton batting and natural muslin for the back. I’d love to hand quilt this one with some big stitches, but there are A LOT of seams and that makes hand quilting difficult–at least for me. So, I will machine quilt it. My plan for the quilting is to do vertical and horizontal lines along the edges of the blocks and through the center of the blocks. Then, I’ll do diagonal lines to crisscross the blocks and mirror the “X” in each. I’m lucky because I still have leftover fabric from the blocks, which I’ll use for the binding. I want the binding to reflect the mishmash of fabrics in the quilt.

I want to enter this quilt in a non-juried show that has a mid-April deadline, so I’m determined to get it done!

Stay tuned!

How to Make an Ohio Star Cardinal Quilt Block

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Ohio Star quilt block made to look like the profile of of a cardinal, Ohio’s state bird.

The cardinal block of my Ohio Star Quilt is one of my favorites, so I wanted to improve the design, make it larger, and turn it into a pillow cover. The cardinal is Ohio’s state bird and I love spotting them. It makes sense to me to sew a traditional Ohio Star quilt block to look like the iconic bird.

When I first made my Ohio Star Cardinal block for my Ohio Star Quilt, I used this tutorial. It’s a really good tutorial, but because the cardinal colors don’t fit into the traditional pattern, I had to unpick a lot of pieces to make it work. This time, I wanted to make a larger block (16” vs. 12”) to fit a pillow form I had on hand, and I didn’t want to unpick anything. It’s important to me to maintain the Ohio Star piecing. That is, to have 4 blocks that are made from quarter square triangles. In my block, you’ll see that there is an opportunity to make 2 sky QSTs into one larger triangle, but this would break the traditional pattern.

Let’s get started!

Ohio Star Cardinal 16” Quilt Block

Fabric:

Sky: 3 x 5 7/8” squares & 2 x 6 5/8” squares

Black: 1 x 6 5/8” square

Orange: 1 x 6 5/8” square

Red 1: 1 x 5 7/8” square & 1 x 6 5/8” square

Red 2: 1 x 5 7/8” square & 1 x 6 5/8” square

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Fabric needed for one 16″ block.

Seam allowances are ¼”.

1. Cut all of the 6 5/8” squares diagonally twice so that you have 4 triangles from each square.

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Cut larger squares diagonally into 4 triangles each.

2. Arrange the triangles and 5 7/8” squares as shown to create a cardinal profile. You’ll have some spare triangles.

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Layout of Ohio Star Cardinal block
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Leftover triangles. Save them for a future cardinal or add them to the scrap pile.

Side note: I didn’t have enough of one of my preferred red fabrics to cut a full 6 5/8” square. I thought that orange-brown, feather-like print would work. Nope. I didn’t like it at all once I cut it out. I MacGuyvered a template by laying a triangle ruler I have (with a 90-degree angle) over one of the triangles I had cut, and placing masking tape where the bottom of the triangle was. I then moved the template over to my preferred fabric and lined the masking tape up with the edge of the fabric. I was able to fussy cut all of my Red 2 triangles. Give it a try if you need to fussy cut your fabric!

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I lined up the template on the triangle, then placed the masking tape. I put the tape on the side opposite of the printing, just in case it would remove it.
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I lined up the tape with the edge of the fabric and fussy cut the triangle.

3. Sew the first set of triangles together as shown below. Press the seams

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If you align all of the sewn triangles the same way and press the seams in the same direction, they’ll nest nicely in the next step.

4. Sew the larger triangles together as shown below. Press the seams.

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Nest the seams if possible for nice center points.

5. Sew the squares together as shown below. Press the seams.

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This is the point when things start to really come together!

6. Sew the rows together. Press the seams.

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So close to seeing the final block.

7. Look at you! You have an Ohio Star Cardinal!

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So pretty! Pat yourself on the back!

Bonus! To make it into a quilted pillow cover with an envelope closure:

1. Baste the block using your preferred batting and backing and method. I’m a fan of pin basting. I used cotton batting here because it is what I had on hand, plus, it is thin. I used natural muslin for the backing, which I use for a lot of my quilts, but note that your backing here will not be visible once the cover is completed.

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Pin-basted Ohio Star Cardinal block

2. Quilt it! I machine quilted it along the 9-patch and then on the inside of the star. Since I maintained the traditional Ohio Star piecing, outlining the star with quilting emphasizes the pattern.

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I used a fabric pencil to mark 1/4″ inside the star.

3. Trim it up!

4. Cut 2 panels of fabric that measure 10 ¼” x 16 ½”. I chose to use my sky fabric for the back.

5. Hem one 16 ½” end of each of the back panels by pressing ¼” down and then over again and stitching down.

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Hemmed back panels

6. Align the 16 ½” unfinished ends of the back panels with the top and bottom of the block. The correct sides of the back panels and the cardinal block should be facing each other, as if the pillow cover is inside out. The panels will overlap by a few inches, which will create the envelope closure.

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Envelope closures are simple to stitch.

7. Stitch around the entire block using a ¼” seam allowance.

8. Turn that thing inside out and stuff it with a pillow form!

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Finished front
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Finished back. Slipping the pillow form in is easy peasy.

9. Admire your fancy, made-by-you throw pillow.

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There is such satisfaction in making something with your hands.

What do you think? Wanna try your hand at an Ohio Star Cardinal? Show me what you make! If you post it on Instagram, tag me @tbudco and use #OhioStarCardinal. Or hop over to my Contact page and let me know you have a cardinal to show off!