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My Quilting Life – the back-in-isolation heart project

by Pam Voth

What have I done this month? Well, I have stayed home…nothing special in that. I have reflected on a lot the past several months including things I’m proud of, things I learned, what’s important and what will be different about life when we emerge from this crisis.

Learning and accomplishing things is reflected in this month’s project. I tried many new things as a quilter: paper piecing together intricate birds, creating a Dresden plate, machine quilting a variety of shapes and designs, hexies in all shapes and sizes and attempting a queen size quilt for my bed. This month, working on the round was my challenge. The biggest lesson was to add binding to a round edge. It was a challenge and I decided, because it’s far from perfect, to keep this project for myself. I used the pattern I found at quiltingcubby.com and adapted it to make the project my own.

Four multicolored (red, pink, blue, red/pink flowered and patterned) squares cut into hearts are appliqued with pink thread on a white background. You see machine-quilted patterns on the white background. The table topper has scalloped edges and red binding. 


Finished table topper

I have been thinking a lot about creativity. Choosing fabrics is often about being a rule breaker.  When I’m choosing fabrics, I often ask myself, why not? There are no rules when planning a project, just your ideas, and perspective. The more projects you do, the more you learn to trust your instincts about color and design. When I first started, I would have needed input from my mentors, now, I just like it because they always add a new perspective for me to consider.

Scissors, cutter and ruler are shown next to several strips of red, pink, blue and flowered red and pink fabric on a cutting mat. 


Strips of pink, red, blue, flowered red and pink fabric.

Fabric cut into 2½” strips were sewn together and then cut again into 2½” strips that created the blocks. Enjoying the process of randomly piecing strips together and then creating quilt blocks was an exciting part of this project. I just made it work with pieces of fabric that I had and stepping out in faith that the final project would be an expression of joy and love. Simple, but beautiful.   

2½” ruler cutting strips that will be sewn together to create hearts. Two different combinations of strips are shown in a variety of colors (red, pink, blue) with some showing flowered patterns.

Creating the strips for the hearts

I remember teaching student in Grade 1 to create a heart shape out of a square. Simple and powerful. Instilling confidence and reaching beyond yourself can be very empowering. A classroom full of hearts resulted; then snowflakes, because that was the next lesson. Is there anything better than a classroom full of hearts and snowflakes to offset a dreary winter’s day?  I cut my heart pattern and then my squares into hearts….ready to sew to my white background.

Fabric squares made of different colors squares showing the process of cutting them into heart shapes. Heart pattern, scissors, pen and iron all used to assist in creating the hearts

Cutting hearts out of fabric squares

 The four different hearts showing the small squares of different colors on them are laid out on the white background.

Completed hearts on the white background

The pattern for the background scalloped shape is simply created by folding newspaper (in my case wrapping paper) until you create the edging you want. Folding the paper in half again and again. Then use the edge for the scallop. It was very satisfying to create a background in such a simple way and I saved the template for a future project.

The template made of stripped wrapping paper is laid on the fold of the red fabric ready to cut the scalloped backing.

Cutting the scalloped background

The base complete, the hearts are pinned on, measured to ensure they are even and ready to be appliqued onto the background. It’s hard not to think about the true meaning of love while working on a project that is covered in hearts. So, the importance of having a big enough heart to love unconditionally and a broad enough mind to embrace the differences that make us each unique is my thought for today as my project unfolds.

Four hearts are pictured on the white background, with the red background visible underneath. 


Hearts on white and red background.

The applique part was challenging. I ironed medium-weight pellon to the back of each heart in order to make it stiffer, and I ended up sew around it once with a small stitch to secure the heart and then a second time with a wider stitch to create a fuller look to my edging. The rule of creativity is that of expressing yourself and perfection is not expected. Homemade is not supposed look perfect – a challenging lesson for me. Art is a different language and quilting is art. Art says things that words cannot. Art and creativity can change your life – it certainly has changed mine.

One red heart is shown with the pink applique stitches around it on the white background. One heart is shown pinned on ready to be appliqued. 


Appliqueing hearts to the background

With the heart applique completed and the red backing secure, I machine quilted a pattern onto the white. For ease of language, I will call it squiggles. It was not quite free motion, I drew the pattern on but, hoping soon to try a project (after a lot of practice on scraps) that is completely free motion. Freedom means taking full advantage of choice. There’s not just one way of doing things or one answer for everything, and having the ability to try new things, experiment and to go down different paths is one part of why I find quilting so appealing. The idea of being part of a quilting group that challenges you to move outside your comfort zone is the best – I’m grateful for my group, where I’m accepted and appreciated for who I am.

The appliqued hearts are seen on the white background. The sewing machine is in view with the patterns of the machine quilting on the white background visible between my hands.

Machine quilting on white background.

As always, I have a few projects on the go every month. This month, I continue to create the log cabin squares for my sampler quilt and, with a pattern from my quilting friend, I created this snowman wreath for my front door. He was just too irresistible not to sew up.

Half-moon shaped white snowman on a yellow door with blue hat and mittens, purple patterned cuff on mitts and hat and purple patterned ear muffs. A dark purple knitted scarf is around the snowman’s neck. A crocheted orange carrot nose is surround by glued on leather eyes and mouth. There is a dark purpose pom-pom made out of yarn on the hat. 


Snowman half-moon shaped wreath

The red binding is clipped on ready to be sewn around the scalloped edge.

Pinning on the binding.

The binding is sewn around the scalloped edge and then clipped in place on the ironing board so that it can be blind stitched to complete the heart table topper. 


Finishing the binding

I know my strengths and weaknesses as a person, and as a quilter. I can let myself get discouraged when things become really challenging but, I always persevere. I miss being with my quilting group again right now but, I know we’ll be back at it again and we’re always connected, there for each other and ready to share a new idea or project.

Machine quilting in white thread is shown on the red background of the table topper. Four red hearts are visible as well as the free quilt pattern between each heart. 


Red side of table topper

The completed table topper is shown with the red binding, 4 hearts appliqued showing the red/blue/pink squares on the machine quilted white background.

Completed heart table topper

With my table topper complete and on display, I’m ready to dive into another project. I’ll replace some of my knitted pillows in my living room with quilted pillows using a book I received for Christmas on Japanese taupe quilts. Tranquil beauty is just what my living room needs. See you here next month!

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