Archive for March, 2011

Quilts and tops by a novice quilter

March 26, 2011

My sister was here visiting and she has never made a quilt before.  However, now she can’t say that as she made 2 1/2 tops and finished a quilt including the quilting and binding and even made the label.  She even designed the bright-colored top which would be a good way to use up scraps.  Below are pictures of what she made.  Click on the image to enlarge it.  Thanks, Cathy.



21 more tops headed to longarmers

March 19, 2011

This has been a busy week.  I’ve done Quality Control (QC) on a box of quilt tops I received from Noreen Fling to get them ready to go to longarmers.  That meant checking them for appropriate size, modifying them if required and making backs, binding and labels.  I was lucky enough to have substantial assistance from my good friend, Shirley, without whom I would still be working on those tops!   They’ll go in the mail tomorrow AM.

Some folks wonder where our tops come from.  Over the last year I’ve seen some come from all over the US and as far away as Japan and Korea.   A lot of them have been made by quilters at the International Quilt Festivals in Chicago and Houston, by quilters visiting from all over the world.  Many tops are made specifically with us in mind, and others are sent to us because they didn’t work out for their intended recipient and the quilter wanted to do something with them to get them out of their house!  Sometimes the tops have labels including the names of the creators, but many times we don’t have that information.

When I got the box from Noreen, I decided that probably a third of the tops were made by “toppers” who had us in mind.  They were the perfect dimensions, and the fabric was clearly selected with children in mind.  Lovely!  All we had to do there was add the backing and binding and they were ready to roll!

Another third was probably made at one of the Quilt Festivals.  The piecing was inconsistent with some tops — perhaps made by multiple people working at different times on a single top?  The fabrics were wild, in some cases.  We receive a lot of wonderful fabric donations from vendors, which aren’t always juvenile fabrics.  This gives us a great chance to try some new things, and since our intended recipients range in age from infants to 17 years old, this is a wonderful source of quilts for some of the older children who might want something a little bit more sophisticated.  I did some trimming of edges on these, but on the whole they were the right dimensions and not a lot of work to prepare.

The last third were the group of quilts that were probably donated because someone changed their minds about finishing them for their initial intended recipient and wanted to just give them away to someone else who might appreciate them.  I really enjoyed working with these, because they challenged me the most.  We added borders to most to make them just the right size.  In one case, I took a larger quilt top and turned it into two really cute tops that will make two children very happy!  One top was probably the topper’s nightmare.  It was a trip around the world where some of the blocks and rows had gotten mixed up and the topper just gave up on it and sent it to us.  Out came the seam ripper, and it made me so happy when it was done that I’ll be quilting that one myself!

Anyway, I really enjoyed working with these over the last week.  I loved it when we were able to add borders and binding in colors that would just tie the quilt together and make it sing!   And what a great feeling of accomplishment to see them all boxed up and ready to head to the Post Office tomorrow morning!

For the longarmers, Barbara, Nan, Sandy, Judy, Marcia and Donna, here’s a sneak peak at some of the quilts that will be coming your way.  I didn’t have the names of many of the piecers, so if anyone out there spots a quilt top that you made, please add a comment to this post so we can add your name to the label.

Top by Helen

Top by Sandra

Top by Billie Lynn

Smaller version of larger original

Original center from larger top with new borders

Floral Stripes

Trip around the world

Wild Horses

Cats in the Garden

Car Quilt

Above, with the Car Quilt, is a photo of my pal, Shirley, who stitched many borders and backs, helped me with design decisions, and held all the quilts for photos.  Her toes and fingers are featured in most of the shots.  Unlike many seniors who have quilted for years, Shirley took up quilting just a few years ago in her 70’s!  You GO, Girl!!  Thanks for all the help!

Thanks, also, to Noreen for sending me this box of fun.  Special thanks to the longarmers who are going to receive these, as well as all the longarmers who have taken 54 more earlier in February and March!  You ladies do amazing things on these quilts, and I know that Carolyn will be thrilled when she receives them to take on the trip to Ethiopia.   And thanks to the Toppers, known and unknown!  Your combined magic will make many little children very happy!



Did you know that there are pink John Deeres?

March 14, 2011

Richard has been busy making some more tops.  These are just 2 of the latest that he made.  Thank you, Richard.


New Tops and Quilts Received

March 13, 2011

Thank you to Kethsia, Letty and Rowena for these tops and quilts.  You ladies are awesome!  Thank you on behalf of the children who will received them along with the comfort and love that you sewed into them.


What’s the Scoop on Labels?

March 9, 2011

I received a note with a great question from one of our long arming volunteers today.  Joanne wrote:

“I received four (very cute!) quilts from Richard yesterday and am ready to get to work.  Now I have a question that I can’t believe I don’t know the answer to.  Richard included the labels for the quilt.  I have never done quilt labels before.  So what kind of pen do I use to put my name on the label?  And do I sew the label on before or after I actually quilt the blanket?  Is the label meant to be sewn on by hand after the quilting is done?  Or do I just sew it on and quilt through it?”

All good questions!  It occurred to me that she wasn’t the only one who has that question, and I’d like to answer it in a blog feature so people can refer to it later.

I think the best way to put your name on  a label with pen is to use a permanent ink Sharpie fine point.  Use a light touch, as it can bleed a bit if you stay on one point too long, and heat-set the label by ironing it once the ink is dry.  Embroidered labels are also very acceptable.

As the long arm coordinator, I think it’s great when the labels have room for the names of both the piecer and the quilter, since both have contributed valuable time and resources to making the completed quilts.   Suggested wording is:

Quilts Beyond Borders

Made for You with Love

By:  ___(Piecer’s Name)____and___(Quilter’s Name)_____

Belongs to:  ____ (Space for Child’s Name)

You can use either your full name, your first name, your group’s name, or however you’re comfortable signing it.

While there are several ways to put a label on the quilt, I prefer to machine stitch the label to the back before I quilt it, usually somewhere on the bottom half of the back.  That way there will be several lines of quilting through the label and it will be harder for anyone to remove it and steal the quilt.  We try to do a lot of due diligence so these quilts will remain in the hands of our intended recipients, the orphans.  Volunteers visit orphanages to get a comfort level that when we provide quilts we aren’t inadvertently providing an unscrupulous staff member an opportunity to feather his own nest by stealing them and selling them on the black market.  That’s the reason we hand-carry them over to Ethiopia in the luggage of volunteers and trusted associates, rather than sending them over in the mail, where they might go astray before reaching the orphans.  Machine stitching the labels and quilting over them gives us one more opportunity to put a safeguard in place.

When we do receive completed quilts with no labels we will attach labels to them, using machine stitching.  We think it’s important that the children have a place to write that they are the owners of the quilts and some of the pictures that have been taken during the trips show that the children think it’s an important part of the process, too!

Thanks for asking, Joanne!



Using up Scraps

March 7, 2011

Here are tops made with the scraps from the center diamond tops that I made back in Jan.  This is the link to the center diamond tops.


You Ladies and Gentlemen are Awesome!

March 6, 2011

Just received 8 more tops.  They are adorable.  They will be going to to the longarmers on Monday.  Thanks to DeDe for these tops.  Some children are going to have big smiles on their faces when they get these quilts.

Thanks to you all.


A couple more tops headed to a longarmer

March 1, 2011

Just wanted to let you all know that all of our donation tops are not made women.  These 4 tops were made by a man, and you can tell that he had fun making them.  And, I know the children will be able to tell that they were made with love.  In the next couple of days they will be shipped off to a a couple of longarm quilters.

Thank you, Richard.