Judy Johnson's Blog

Aspen in Nambe

This quilt has been over a year in the making, even though it is small. I did not work on it continuously, but did a layer at a time. I wanted to make a landscape quilt, and took some classes in raw-edge fused applique and turned edge applique using glue sticks. My free-motion quilting continues to improve with practice.

Here is a closeup picture of the quilting.

These are all commercially printed fabrics. The piece measures 23.5" by 36.5". This was really fun to make. I already have an idea for another one, bigger & better.


Fortune Favors the Brave

This is one of my favorite quilts. It was inspired by the "Ugly Fabric Contest" here on Quilters Club of America. When I read about a contest to make a quilt out of challenging fabric, I went through my stash, and found two yards that I didn't know what I was thinking when I bought it. It had large brown slug shapes on and orange and gold background. I did like the colors. I chose a Brave World block, reversing the light and dark patches from the traditional block, and alternating two colorways of the same block. The contest required the quilt to be 50" by 60". After the contest I decided to add another border of red on the outside, and quilted a diagonal grid pattern with gold thread. Eleanor Burns has a great technique for this block. It's shown at the end of her video no. 3012.


Here's the original ugly fabric.


This quilt was the winner of the Ugly Fabric Quilt Contest, and also won a blue ribbon at the Santa Fe County Fair last week.

A Four Patch of Blue

I'm updating my blog with quilts that I have finished recently. This one was in show and tell, but I thought I should add it to the blog as well. This one is my design, based on a traditional block named "The Sickle". There are 36 blocks in the quilt, six across and six down, measuring six inches each. Each block is the same--the pinwheels are created by rotating the blocks. The four patches are scrappy, using pieces of fabrics in my stash.


Fabric Necklaces

I've been making fabric necklaces for our quilt guild's gift shop at our show next fall.

Here are the directions:

Start with a 2 1/2 inch strip of fabric about 40 inches long. Jelly rolls are great. Lighter weight fabrics work best, but standard cotton will do. If it's not prewashed, and it has a lot of sizing, it may be too stiff for the beads to slide on. Don't try to piece it--the seams will make it too bulky to work. You need large beads or marbles, about 3/4 inch or 16mm in diameter, at least 20 of them, and 22 to 28 small beads with large holes. Some fabric glue or white glue will be helpful, and a large safety pin or dowel and tube. I bought my beads at JoAnn's.

At one end, fold it under about a 1/4 inch or so, to the wrong side. Then fold the strip in half lengthwise, right sides together.  Sew a 1/4 inch seem all along the length of the strip.

You have a loop, open at both ends. Press the seam open, which will make it easier to slide the beads on.

Now you need to turn the tube right side out. You can use a safety pin to turn it, or a tube and dowel as shown in these pictures.


At then end without the fold, cut the fabric at an angle, and if you need to, add a drop of glue to stiffen the end and make it easier to slide the beads on.

Now we're ready for the beads. I chose candy-apple red beads for this one. You need 22 to 28 small beads, depending on how long you want the necklace to be. Slide a small bead over the fabric, and pull it to within about 8 inches of the end. The longer the end piece, the shorter the necklace will be.


Next take a large bead or marble and slide it inside the tube. Pull it until it rests against the small bead.

Alternate the small beads on the outside and large beads on the inside until it's as long as you like, ending with a small bead.

Cut the fabric end square and turn it under. To finish it, you can sew the two ends together, or glue them together. For the most recent ones, I've tied a knot and then sealed the ends of the fabric with glue. You could slipstitch it, but I like the stiffness the glue adds. I think the knot makes it look more finished, and the recipient could adjust the length a little bit if they chose.


Here's the finished necklace.

If you give it a try, add a picture here, or on your blog!


Table Runners

One of the things I wanted to do as soon as I retired and we moved to Nambe in early 2008 was to make some table runners to spruce up the dining room table.

My first idea was to design one in a southwest style. I found some lovely fabrics and made up a design. At this point, I'd made about three quilts in all, so I still had no real idea about what was easy or hard to do, or the best piecing order. I had no Idea how to press the seams to "nest" the pieces together, or a lot of other things that I know now. If I had it to do again I would choose a simpler quilting design that would have emphasized the piecing. I made a set of matching placemats, with simpler quilting. Overall, I'm pleased with the result.

 The next one was in the summer of 2009. I wanted a bright runner with red, white & blue for the Fourth of July. This time I found a pattern that was marked easy. The pattern used a different color scheme and had some applique, and wasn't the right size, but otherwise it was perfect. It wasn't difficult to make the pattern longer, and skip the applique. The piecing directions were clear, and I used fabrics mostly from the "red, white & bold" collection, although I'm not sure which manufacturer that is. This time I stitched in the ditch, with invisible thread, which worked very well. I also made placemats, although a couple of them still aren't finished.


 The next one was for Christmas, 2009. I found a free pattern online, and again made it longer to fit the table, and used a combination of fabrics that I had on hand, plus some new ones. I used a flip-inside-out technique instead of adding binding. No placemats this time.


The final table runner is in spring colors of green & blue. I bought the fabrics in late 2008, and started sometime in 2009, and finished in early 2010. This winter was so dreary that I really needed some bright colors. I made the pattern up myself. The piecing was stretching my skills, but that's always a good thing. DH's niece gave us a lovely bowl for Christmas that goes perfectly with the table runner. The placemats are a work in progress, with a goal of finishing them before Easter.


I hope you enjoyed my seasonal dining room tour!

Scrappy Quilt of Valor

This is one of four quilt of valor tops that I made last year. I usually just make the tops and turn it in to our group leader who arranges for a long arm quilter to do the quilting. This was made using leftover fabrics in my stash. This is based on one of Bonnie Hunter's patterns, changing the colors to mostly red, white & blue. The red & white four-patches and the blue & white four-patches are all scrappy, with bits left from the first quilt of valor that I had done in 2008, plus fabrics from a July 4 themed table runner & placemats. Plus, fabrics that happened to be red, blue & white. I had enough of the blue star fabric, the gold fabric, and the gray fabric to use them to tie it all together.


Five Alive Quilt

This quilt is the second in a series of charity quilts, made in February, 2010. I started with the Laurel Burch stripe fabric, which came from the Northern New Mexico Quilt Guild. At the January meeting they had a large bin of donated fabrics, many of them with bright colors or motifs that children would like, so I grabbed some for inspiration. Sometimes when I go into a quilt shop there are so many fabrics to choose from that I just freeze up and can't decide on anything. The stripe piece was about 2 yards, so I had plenty to work with, and some left over. I pulled some turqoise, yellow, green and purple fabrics from my scrap bins. There are two different turquoise fabrics and I think 3 different yellows. They were so close that I used them interchangeably. The pattern is my own, with the same five-patch chain and four-X blocks that I used in "Squarely in the Pink", but with the blocks in different places. I really like the chain effect of the turquoise squares going through the middle of the quilt. It's about 43 inches square, backed with flannel. The quilting is just a straight grid, going mostly in the ditch, and then crossing the stripe pieces, using rainbow-colored variegated thread, which really didn't show up that much. The borders have a double cable pattern. Again, with the strong colors of the border fabric, the stitching doesn't show that much, which is good. The mistakes aren't noticeable at all. The turquoise and green four-patches were strip pieced, cut, and stacked two together next to the machine. As I worked on another quilt, I sewed the four-patches as leaders and enders, which seemed to make it all go much faster.


Squarely in the Pink

This one is the first in a series of small quilts for charity. I made this one in February, 2010. The top is made entirely from scraps that I had on hand, The dark pink squares are all one fabric, but the medium and light pinks are actually several different fabrics that are similar in color and value. I think it looks better than if it had only 3 or 4 fabrics. I made the pattern up myself, with five-patch chain and four-X blocks alternating. The blocks are ten inches square, with the whole quilt measuring about 40 x 40 inches. The quilting is stitch in the ditch with a double cable border. It's backed with flannel that I bought for this quilt.


A Year of Handbags

In January 2009 I took a class from Rami Kim on fabric folding. The class exercise was to make a large handbag using the various techniques. I like browns, but decided to make my bag really bright. Here's a picture.

I received many compliments from everyone who saw it, along with some hints and direct requests. I knew what my sisters, daughter, etc. would get for their birthdays last year. Some of them got away before I took pictures, but here are the others. I made a total of seven bags last year, varying the sizes and styles. The hand smocking on the right side of the one above was really time consuming, so I used less and less of it with each one, some of them without it, even though it's very effective.

The next two pictures are the same bag, front and back.



If you ever have a chance to take a class from Rami Kim, do it. She is a great teacher.

Lulu's Quilt

This is the quilt that started my interest in quilting. After my grandmother died in 1973 one of the treasures we found in her old trunk was an unfinished quilt top, carefully wrapped in tissue paper. After my mother died in 1982, I became the keeper of those family treasures, and occasionally thought about how nice the quilt top was, and wondered if I could learn to quilt so I could finish it. I was working full time, and then the children were born in 1986 and 1987. I took some time off work then, but went back to work in 1990. Then in 1993 my husband was transferred to Stavanger, Norway. Both children were in school, and after an adjustment period I had some time on my hands. I met several women from England and America who were quilters, or did needlework, and they got together every week to sew and talk. (Mostly talk.) I told them about the quilt top, and they encouraged me and taught me how to do hand quilting, starting in 1994. It was a very slow process, and I'm not the type to spend hours every day just doing hand quilting, but I made steady progress until we moved back to Houston in 1997. Then it really slowed down. I got a very demanding job, and the children needed lots of attention, but I worked on the quilt sometimes in the evening in the winter. I could not work on it in the summer--it's simply too hot there to drape a queen-size quilt over your lap in the summertime. I finally finished it in the spring of 2008, shortly after I retired and we moved to Nambe, New Mexico.

The original top was hand pieced, and nearly complete, including the green sashing between the blocks and on two sides of the quilt, at the same width. The workmanship was excellent, and in very good condition. There were a few spots where the stitching had come loose, and I repaired those without having to add any fabric. I narrowed the outer sashing so that I could use the fabric that was cut off to complete the sashing on the other two sides. I added the floral print outer border to make it large enough to fit a double or queen size bed. The floral is also the backing. You may notice that in one of the blocks the bow ties go in a different direction than the others. That's the way it was, and I did not think I should change it. Karey Bresenhan, who was my next door neighbor in Houston, looked at it and told me that the most recent fabrics in the quilt body were from the 30's or possibly the early 40's. Some of them appear to be much older than that.

It was a work of love, but I don't know if I will ever do any more hand quilting.

I'm learning to blog--Golden Tulips

This is my first post. I think I've figured it out, and will be posting pictures of some of the quilts and projects I've made. This one is the Golden Tulips quilt, a twin-size made for the Northern New Mexico Quilt Guild community service program, in January 2009. It was my own design, and still the largest quilt I have made to date. The machine quilting was quite a challenge. The close-up shows how some of it is a bit wobbly, and the border on one side was so wavy that I actually had to make a tuck in it so it would lay flat. That or take it off and do it over, when I wasn't sure it would get any better the second time. I chose to tuck it. Overall, I'm very proud of this quilt.