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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Desert Sun Quilt by Maeberry Square

Why I Label My Quilts

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?

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.

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!).

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!

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

Reasons Why I Love Using Muslin for Quilt Backs

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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!

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!

Completed Dazzling Pineapple Patch Quilt

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

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!