A traditional block & a new label

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Well, I’ve gone and done it.  I’ve made a quilt using a traditional block style instead of my usual strips and blocks and simplified piecing.  Of course, this pinwheel design isn’t highly technical, so of the more traditional pieced designs it seems to be one of the easiest, but it’s a step out for me nonetheless.  And I like it.  I think it makes a bright and cheerful design whether big or small (I saw a variety of sizes while perusing the quilts made with this block) and has just enough of a traditional look without being overwhelming in its assembly.

By no stretch of the imagination does this mean I’m jumping into finicky piecing, but there is something about it that pleases me and I think I’m going to start adding some more solid colors to my quilts amongst all the lovely prints, just to see what happens.  I think it’s the white parts here that set off the rest and make it attractive to me.

While finishing up this quilt, I was also in the process of changing my labels.  I saw a more modern looking and simple idea that stuck with me, so I decided it was time.  The nice thing about making your own labels is that you can make a change whenever you want to and customize them for gifts or customers as well!  When you know who the quilt is for, it’s nice to add their name or a special message to the label.  I keep most of mine simple because the quilts are for sale and need to be generic.

I’ve been using the EQ Printables sheets that come in packages of 6 fabric sheets with backing paper all ready to go through your printer, but I’m about to try using my own fabric pressed onto freezer paper as that method seems to be successful for others and it would certainly be more economical.

Do you make your own labels?

(This quilt has been sold.)

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What is a handmade quilt worth?

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Today I started and finished quilting a baby quilt using a much simpler, open stitching pattern than the one I posted yesterday.  I decided to give myself a little break by doing some overall loops with a few repeating details mixed in rather than densely quilt this one, especially since it’s for a boy.  In general, I think males are much less interested than females are in pretty flowery patterns with all kinds of intense detail and embellishment.  They usually find more important the fabric theme and color and the fact that the quilt keeps them warm!

Rather than simply post this newly finished quilt, and because the piecing pattern, size, amount of fabric and basic products used are exactly the same as those in the baby girl’s quilt posted yesterday, I decided to use this opportunity to share some thoughts on what goes into a quilt and how much it’s actually worth, comparing the two.

Firstly, no two quilts are exactly the same, even when made by the same quilter!

Here are some things to consider if you are comparing quilts at craft sales and markets, or deciding between handmade and store-bought items:

WHAT YOU CAN SEE:

  • fabric colors and prints
  • piecing pattern (blocks, strips, triangles, borders, etc.)
  • hand or machine quilted
  • hand or machine finished binding
  • the design of the stitching pattern: dense patterns use much more thread and retain more stiffness while a more open pattern drapes more softly – both are choices and neither determine overall quality as long as there is enough stitching to properly contain the batting, and as long as stitches aren’t too big or loose that they will catch and snag

WHAT YOU CAN’T ALWAYS TELL JUST FROM LOOKING:

Is the batting synthetic or all natural fibres or some combination in between?  Each quilter has preferences, batting types function differently and have very different prices.  The type of batting also determines how close together the stitching must be to hold it together well over time.

What kind of thread was used?  Quilting thread is available in various fibres, weights, and qualities, some being more than double the price of others. Each quilter has their preferences based on their intentions for the quilt, the style of stitching, their machine and how it works best.

Is it good quality fabric? Fabric is available in various thread counts which determine overall quality, and prices differ greatly.

So in looking at my two quilts, you can “see” that they look the same except for the stitching pattern.   Both have cotton/bamboo blend batting, both were stitched with the same brand of thread (although the girl’s quilt clearly used far more thread), and both are made of good quality 100% cotton quilting fabric.  I would estimate the cost of basic materials for each at $55, not including thread, and both are about 46″ X 48″ before washing.

Now let’s compare the stitching pattern:  the girl’s quilt has a much more complex design, used about four times the amount of thread, and took at least four times as long to quilt.  This will account for a noticeable difference in price when I sell them – even though to some they will “look” the same – because the amount of time and artistic effort in it make it a much different product than the one I did today, and it will appeal to a different kind of buyer.

The choices when buying a quilt are numerous, and will be determined by what’s important to the buyer overall in the end product.  Not everyone “needs” a handmade quilt.  While many appreciate the creativity and time that goes into them, not everyone wishes to have them, especially at high end prices. And that’s perfectly OK!  I use no name brand grocery items for many things, but my ketchup and mayo have to be top quality, I prefer refinished antiques to brand new furniture, and I can see beauty in art without ever needing to have a painting in my house.  We all have different tastes.

But if you do want a handmade quilt, especially one that’s intricately quilted, think of it as buying art.  Basic math – using the size of these baby quilts – shows you that a full bed sized quilt could easily cost $250-$300 just for materials.

I’m asked regularly if I make custom king size quilts (or queen sized, or even twin sized) and my answer is always “no”.  My reason for this is that they would simply cost more than most people would ever want to pay, and rather than go through a lot of communication and details to determine something I’ve found to be true over and over again, it’s just easier to say “no” right at the start!  While there might be one person here and there who won’t mind spending several hundreds of dollars on a handmade quilt for their bed, most are comparing costs with retail outlets without comparing the items on the list above!  By the time I explain it all to them, they’ve changed their minds.

TRUE CONFESSION: I wanted a big white quilt for my own bed recently, and I had no desire to do it myself because I knew how much work it would be and I wasn’t feeling the desire to do such a huge project.  So I grabbed a lovely one at a store one day and it works fine for me.  There are certainly differences between it and one I would make myself:  I’m sure the batting is nowhere near the quality of the one I use, some of the stitching skips, the looser threads do get caught on my fingers when I’m making the bed, and I haven’t tried to wash it yet so that will be enlightening!  One day I might tackle a big one just for me, but for now I stick to projects that are marketable and virtually stress free, because they must be FUN!

(Frog quilt has been sold.)

 

No turning back …

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It really was supposed to be just a loosely quilted, edge to edge design on a baby quilt.  I sandwiched five quilts the other day, and I wasn’t planning anything technical on this one, as I usually use a larger open stitching pattern on baby quilts for a couple of reasons:

  1. the more open the stitching, the more likely the quilt is to drape and soften up
  2. it’s faster for finishing baby quilts, which keeps the price in a more marketable range

HOWEVER…

After working my way into the whole cloth and wild quilting world with all the wonderful doors that opened up, I now have trouble sticking to a simple, all over edge to edge pattern. Once I got started on this one, with every intention of keeping it simple, I found myself moving about organically and things just developed.

Normally I wouldn’t put this kind of detail into a patchwork quilt because it’s hard to see all the stitching work on top of all the fabric patterns, but with variegated thread most of the details do show up on top and a plain backing allows me to see the whole effect in one view, so it proved to be worth the effort.  The binding isn’t stitched to the back yet, but I wanted to get some pictures posted while I still had good light 🙂

(This quilt is sold)

 

The Graffiti Quilt

 

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Well, it’s done.  I hinted about it in my last post and now it’s all finished.  I think I used five M-size bobbins on this one!  I even started getting concerned about the cone on top as I realized how much thread this was using up, even though it was pretty huge.

My initial plan was to do all the stitching with the variegated thread and then go back in with black to outline and add accents.  But honestly, once I finished with the coloured design, I didn’t feel inclined to add the black after all.  It’s harder to tell in the photos, but close up there is a lot of color and I would have really had to make the black lines thick to make them stand apart, and I chose to leave it as it is, rather than risk starting something I might not like in the end.

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I wish I could have made this without any borders, but I couldn’t find good quality white fabric wide enough, so I had to compromise on my original idea and add the black to the edges.  I guess if I wasn’t telling you all my inside thoughts, you wouldn’t know the difference …

 

I HAD to make this because it was on my mind so long and I wanted to give it a try.  But now it’s done and out of my system.  I have to say that I prefer doing the more classic and elegant tone on tone styles myself, like the one in my previous post, but this was definitely worth the effort and I learned more skills and techniques as I moved around on it, so nothing has been wasted, including the 15+ hours of quilting time 🙂

(This quilt has been sold.)