• Quilt Embellishments Or When Bad Things Happen To Good Quilts

    Recent fabric artists are making quilts that are beautifully embellished using thread painting, stenciling, or the artful addition of found items to further add to the beauty of their traditional or art quilts. While these are very beautiful and planned additions to quilts, today I am discussing the adding of embellishments to cover or repair a problem area.

    In the late 1980's I drove 40 miles in my gas guzzler car to a quilt artist's show. Since I was a "stay at home" mom at the time, money for quilting fabric, patterns, books and gasoline was at a premium. A friend invited me to meet her there and I was so excited about my new quilting hobby that I packed up the kids and sack lunches and drove to the quilt show. Thank goodness it was also the "visitor center" of a nuclear power plant so there were activities for the children and everyone had a great time while we looked at the quilts.

    The quilt artist was a book author. She showed a large selection of her art quilts and they were all unique. Her unique quilts were heavily embellished with found items that traditionally would not be placed on a quilt. These quilts were nothing I or my friend would ever want to make for ourselves. One of the quilts depicted a mummy, another quilt showed a lavatory faucet with "running water" that reminded us of something out of an anatomy book. The one quilt we remember the most is the very beautiful hand quilted and beaded wall quilt with a piece of inexpensive plastic fruit stitched -- or was it glued -- to the center. These quilts were embellished with many items that in our opinion were incongruous to the design of the quilt. None of the quilts had any features we wished to incorporate into our quilts to decorate our home and cover our family member's beds.

    While I had a nice outing and a good visit with my quilting girlfriend, for years I wondered what I would do with the quilting information gleaned at this artists showing. Now I know. Sometimes when something bad happens to a good quilt it needs a little embellishment to cover up a big problem.

    The trick is to cover the problem with an embellishment that shows good taste and covers the mistake or damage and makes the embellishment appear to have been planned all along -- not just tacked on at the end of a project or glued on after a near disaster.

    Some examples of quilt problems and how they were solved with embellishments

    Judy had a quilt all pieced and partially quilted when she realized she did not like the color of the pink squares throughout her quilt. Solution -- she simply appliquéd squares of another color over the color she did not like. The quilt looked great and no one knew.

    Marcia had the dog chew a spot near the corner of her lovely floral quilt. Solution -- first she hand stitched the chewed area to the batting and then she simply appliquéd a coordinating floral heart over the chewed area. Another floral heart could be appliquéd to the other side of the quilt for a balanced design. If you don't like hearts, choose a tea pot, the outline of an animal, or appliqué a silhouette of your children. There are many options for other motifs that could be appliquéd over a damaged area of your quilt. Whatever motif you choose it could coordinate with the quilt and be a lovely addition.

    Patty had a completely finished wall quilt of a Victorian house. When she was out of town for a few weeks a rodent chewed the back of her quilt. The front of the quilt was not damaged nor was the binding. Solution -- Using the same fabric as the main part of the quilt she simply appliquéd a cat to the back. Now the Victorian house has a resident cat to keep away the mice!

    Don't limit yourself to just appliquéing new fabric. A doily or small vintage hankie, a vintage dresser scarf or other hand embroidered item could be appliquéd to cover a damaged spot. Maybe your quilt would look nice with a little spot of redwork or bluework.

    Ruth had a light bulb scorch her quilt she was hand quilting. She carefully removed the hand quilting on only that patch. Then she removed the machine stitches that held the scorched piece and took that piece out. She inserted a new piece of the same fabric and carefully hand appliquéd it in place. Then she quilted the new patch.

    When you first discover that there is damage to one of your beautiful quilts you will naturally feel horror and disappointment. But stop and think your quilt is not lost. Look at your quilt for the possibilities in adding an additional embellishment you will enhance the quilt and no one will know that you are covering a damaged area.

    We all know that quilt accidents are traumatic and we hope they only happen occasionally. Some of these repairs and embellishments take will take a little time to do but the results are that your quilt is like new again. Remember that many disasters can be repaired in some way and it is not the end of your quilt.

    Make a Sudoku Quilt

    Sudoku is a very popular puzzle based on a grid of nine squares in each section, and then there are nine sections. So from a quilter's point of view a Sudoku quilt would be a nine patch within a nine patch -- a very fun quilt to make.

    Many people think the origin of Sudoku is from Asian countries. In fact the puzzle has it's origins from the United Kingdom. This puzzle game has been played there for many years under different names. It was the Japanese who gave the puzzle game the name Sudoku. Su meaning number and doku meaning single. This number game is very popular in Japan and then came to the United States in the early 2000s. Now you can find Sudoku puzzles available in books, newspapers and magazines.

    There are several pronunciations of Sudoku. The way the word is pronounced depends on what part of the world that you live in. After checking with dictionary sources on the Internet I find that the following pronunciation to be acceptable in many countries - Sue -- doc -- koo. If another pronunciation is familiar with you and you prefer to use it, it is OK.

    Since Sudoku is based on nine squares in each section, I thought a 9" finished block would be appropriate. To make a Sudoku quilt with a 9" finished block cut nine different bright colored fabric strips - cut 3 1/2" wide. Assign a number 1-9 for each strip and cut each strip into nine squares 3 1/2". This quilt would finish at 27" not including sashing and borders.

    You may cut your squares any size you wish. A very large Sudoku quilt could be made using 9" finished squares. Cutting 9 1/2" squares would make your quilt 81" square without sashing and borders. Wouldn't that be fun for a Sudoku enthusiast in your family -- to receive a very large Sudoku quilt?

    Obviously you can assign any size to your fabric squares and make the quilt in a wall quilt, lap size snuggle quilt, or large bed size quilt. The final size is determined by the size of square cut.

    Arrange fabric squares in Sudoku nine patches using a puzzle you have solved yourself from the newspaper, booklet or online. Or simply use a puzzle grid that has already been solved for the arrangement of your squares.

    This will be a very colorful quilt because the squares numbered one through nine is placed in one nine patch square. A number or fabric square may appear only once in each vertical or horizontal row. The puzzle continues to all nine patches and each number or fabric square cannot be repeated in a horizontal or vertical row for the entire puzzle.

    You will need a black print or solid or other neutral fabric to make sashing strips between the Sudoku nine patches. These sashing strips stitched between the 9-patches will simulate the lines between the puzzle sections. Add a border or multiple borders if you wish.

    For quilting you could write the word Sudoku or quilt a series of numerals one to nine or simply meander. A quilt with many prints would work well with simple quilting.

    Bind with same fabric as sashing or use a contrasting color. Enjoy making your Sudoku quilt and have fun sharing it with a Sudoku enthusiast, family member or friend.
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