Another Quilting Post.

The Face of Happiness

I should do these more often, but Melisa is a reluctant artist. Reluctant as in not wanting to share stuff she considers less-than-perfect (as opposed to yours truly who has no compunction about sharing mediocre offerings). I finally convinced her to share some current and past efforts.

I’ll even describe basic stuff about quilting for people lacking detailed knowledge about it. However, since I belong to that group, excuse any errors in descriptors and/or names.

Quilts are made up of blocks sewn together to make a whole. In the above case, the block is 8″x8″. Well, it will be 8″x8″ when finished. As you see it above, it’s slightly larger (roughly 1/4″ on each side). The extra material is there so that each block can be sewn to other blocks or an added border.

In the above example, the block is constructed using a piece of fabric as the background, and the design consists of appliqués. Everything but the background — the snowman, hat, nose, trees, scarf, mini-quilt, etc. — are all cut from appropriately colored fabric and sewn onto the background, creating a three-dimensional design. For instance, the mini-quilt — also made up of individual pieces — will be slightly crimped when attached to provide a relief effect from the background.

In this particular kit, there are nine blocks . . .

. . . that once joined (in this case, with sashing between the blocks), a preferred border or borders added, quilted, and bound (binding is the sewing of the edges to hide the layers of fabric — quilt (front) fabric, batting, and back fabric), it will look like this . . .

Not an actual quilt: a photo of a photo showing what it might look like.

Melisa is currently working on the first block. Considering many of the components are small, cutting them out and sewing them on can be a challenge. For this design, you have lots of options. You could buy the individual block patterns, or buy the whole set, or buy kits for each one, or buy kits that already have the individual elements (every piece making up the whole) laser cut from the appropriate fabric (you then assemble and sew them together). Melisa bought the set, bought the fabric from various places, and is cutting each component by hand.

This next work-in-progress consists of individual pieces sewn together to form a design. In this case, a ukulele.


The design comes from a pattern. Some patterns are freely available, some you buy. The pattern consists of the dimensions of the components, assembly instructions, and usually comes with suggested colors and/or fabric designs, but you can substitute whatever you find pleasing.

As mentioned, some patterns are sold as kits — for instance, with all the fabric necessary for completing the assembly — but don’t typically include the batting or the backing.

In the above, you can see the assembled and sewn squares making up the design, attached to the batting and the backing. In the center, notice the beginning of the quilting which — I’m told — is not to someone’s satisfaction. It will be taken out and redone, or so I hear.

Here, we see two more appliqué designs from patterns . . .


The three Ukulele-themed quilts were part of the 2017 Row-by-Row. As near as I can understand, every quilting/fabric place in the US produces its unique take on a suggested theme (for the above, music).

The patterns are free, but you can also buy kits from each of the participating shops. For the first two, Melisa bought kits that consisted of the pattern and the material (she did the cutting). The third — Fishulele — she bought the kit with already laser-cut pieces. There were six quilting stores on The Big Island, so she got six kits (she has yet to start the other three).

If one is so inclined, one could buy a kit from each quilting shop in the US and assemble them into a huge quilt consisting of many rows, but all with the same theme. Or, they could leave them as individual quilts. Or, assemble the many rows into quilts of varying sizes.

Note: there are more than 4,000 quilting shops in the US (LINK).

Note: Turtlelele and Fishulele are names I made up (© 2022 – E. J. D’Alise).

Sometimes, kits come with a design or block that isn’t to one’s liking, so it’s not used and is promoted to ‘remnant’. Used with other remnants, they become quilting and binding practice pieces.

Next up, a different take on the Dresden Pattern Design . . .

Dresden Pattern

The center is not yet assembled, but will be added as shown (also one in the back) . . .

Dresden Pattern — 43″ diameter

You can see a few of the arms have straight-line quilting (something else Melisa is practicing), and here’s the back of the piece . . .

Dresden Pattern — 43″ diameter

All the above are relatively small, except for the Dresden Pattern that — at 43″ — could be used as a rug or wall hanging.

. . . not so these next quilts. First up . . .

Court Steps design — 67″x67″

No, I’m not that tall; I climbed on a ladder and used a wide-angle lens to capture the photo . . . which I then sent to DxO ViewPoint 3 (removed the distortion), and rotated to get . . .

Court Steps design — 67″x67″

Note: it’s difficult lighting a large piece without hanging it, and we don’t have anything large enough from which to easily hang large quilts, hence why the bed. However, when flat, the light is inconsistent.

You can see all the little squares making up the design. The squares are sewn together into blocks, and the blocks are sewn together to assemble the quilt. The above quilt is comprised of 25 blocks (5×5). In this next photo, I marked the two types of block designs.

12 Red Blocks, 13 Blue blocks

Here’s a closeup of a block (and a bit more) . . .

I had mentioned that each piece is cut 1/4″ wider on all sides. That’s so they can be sewn together without showing the stitches. Here’s what the backside of that looks like . . .

Approximately one block — the underside view of the top part of the quilt.

The batting goes in between the top and bottom fabric, and the three components are quilted.

This next quilt has yet another block design, and I tried photographing it two different ways (I left the ladder in one photo to prove I’m not that tall) . . .

That quilt is 60″x72″ and while it doesn’t look like it, these next two photos are the same dimension (when viewed full-size) and come from the two photos above (again, DxO ViewPoint 3, and post-processing to get the colors right).

Each square of fabric is 4″x4″ (when finished) and combined with two different-sized blocks plus the border make up the whole.

Here are the blocks (in red), one large and one small. There are three large blocks, each made by sewing 4 sub-blocks (in blue), four corner blocks, and a large center block. There are three smaller blocks with a similar construction but with 2″ squares instead of 4″ squares.

A few things of note:

  1. The objective is for each triangle point to end up exactly at the corner; not too short (gap between the point and the next block), not too long (the point cut off).
  2. Eventually, one just conceedes perfection isn’t possible when assembling so many hand-cut and hand-sewn pieces. Meaning, you can only disassemble and reassemble something so many times before accepting the reality of life.
  3. A lot of swearing is involved in the cutting, assembly, and sewing of some quilts; this one, more than most.

Personally, I think it’s excellent. However, I know that — as with my photos and writing — I’m keenly aware of every flaw, no matter how minute. Still, I’ve been in quilt shops where quilts were being sold for multiple hundreds of dollars and — even to my untrained eyes — have many, many flaws.

What commands the high price is precisely the flaws. So much so that some machine-made quilts now incorporate flaws to pass them off as hand-sewn. (I just made that up, but it sounds like it could be true . . . if not now, soon, or as soon as someone reads this.)

Those two pieces will be sent off for quilting. Melisa has quilted largish pieces, but it’s difficult to do without a Long Arm machine, and, frankly, it’s not worth the headache.

Currently, there are three pieces out for quilting, and the above will be sent out when those three come back. Two of the pieces are quilts I shared in a previous quilting post:

Next, is the only photo I have of the other piece out for quilting. The finished product is larger because the border is missing from the photo below.

‘Arrow’ quilt (32″x56″ as shown without the border)

I’ll photograph them once they come back.

The advantage of having pieces quilted by a shop with a Long Arm is that one can choose from many designs, and they will come back with consistent stitches and no flaws.

So, I’ll end with two finished quilts . . . the first one is a design that caught Melisa’s eye and she decided to make it . . .

Doggo Quilt
Doggo Quilt (the other side)

. . . and the other is a baby blanket she made for a friend in honor of her newborn baby girl (her first) . . .

Baby Blanket
Baby Blanket (the other side)

Here’s a gallery of the above (without the two quilts from the other post):

If you want to see more details (100% zoom on the original), please visit the SmugMug Gallery HERE.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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