Thursday, January 29, 2015

Irish Chain Barn Quilt

Two weeks before Christmas I decided to make that handsome farmer hubby dude a LAP quilt using a Panel by Beth Dix  named  "Appalachian Memories" . The panel features 12 different Barn landscapes and I wanted to combine the "barn pictures" with 9 Patch Blocks in an Irish Chain. I made my nine patch blocks first with Missy's help!
"Appalachian Memories"
I have worked with panels before , but not with a panel that did not have any frame, borders or cutting lines around each picture. I knew the size that I needed the unfinished block but was a little hesitant to try to cut out the pictures. Each "Barn scene" is approximately the same size but each overall picture is shaped differently. I first cut out a plastic square template but still didn't feel comfortable enough to dive into cutting up my only panel. So I made a cardboard frame:
There is probably an easier method out there that I don't know about! lol!

But this worked pretty well for centering each picture from top to bottom and side to side .
Once I had each picture centered I marked the corners and lined up my ruler and cut them out.
 I then sewed them together with the 9 Patch blocks.
  Well, somewhere along the way, it became a bed quilt instead of a lap quilt. And I had to scour the country for another panel.

I added two borders. The center of the quilt and the inner border fit the top of the mattress and the outside border is 15". We have a 2" pillow topper on our mattress so I added some extra width to accommodate the extra height of the mattress. I love the outer border print. It says " There's No Place Like Home". :)

I used the extra panel pictures to piece together a couple of tops to make pillow shams. I had originally planned on having it long armed quilted by a friend. However she only does pantographs.  So I have been debating on how to quilt this beast. I have 108" wide flannel for the backing and I have been trying to talk myself into quilting it on one of my vintage machines.
I think I could quilt diagonal lines through the dark red 9 Patch blocks. I would love to quilt a rope design in the inner border and maybe straight lines going out to the edges about 1" apart in the outer border. But what do I quilt in the "Barn Scenes"??? Stipple the sky? What about the grass area? The fences and trees? Or should I do a feathered wreath ( which I have never done) in each Barn Scene?  I am so hesitant to start also because of my Carpal Tunnel :(! What if I can't finish? (by Valentines Day!!) Why oh why didn't I leave it at a lap quilt! ( Because when I was searching for the 2nd panel I found out that Beth Dix sells ART PRINTS of each one of these and I want to buy a couple of the Art Prints and frame them out with some barn wood from my husband's grandfather's old barn to go on the wall above the headboard! )
   Do yall ever quilt yourselves into a corner like I have? Another reason I do not want to do a pantograph is because I don't like  the idea of dark red thread on the barn pictures nor cream thread on the dark red portions.
  So how would yall quilt it? I'd love some suggestions. And tips on using the flannel on the back. I do want to use Warm and Natural Cotton batting since this will be our winter bed quilt. I also want to make a dust ruffle. Good thing the days are getting longer!
However, my crazy daffodils are coming up!
Maybe Spring will come early!
Let me know how you think I should quilt this one! I need to do something simple since I am not an experienced FMQ'er! I hope I can get it finished by Valentine's day!
Thanks for listening!
Happy Stitching yall!
xo jan


  1. I understand the dilemma about thread color, why not just use two? You could echo quilt the barns, with some rays going out from around each one in white, or do a cloud-like swirl in the 'sky' and a spiky freehand for 'grass'. You'll need a horizon line. Then do feather wreaths in red in the nine-patches. Do decide if you will be bothered by two colors on the back. I wouldn't but others are. Pick a busy red/white print for the back and both will look good. Look forward to the finish!

    1. Rosemary B here:
      Carole, yes, great idea, and always such knowledgeable advice

  2. To answer your question yes I have quilted myself into a corner before. I think it happens to every quilter sooner or later. I had to smile when you wrote "Why didn't I leave this a lap quilt?" because I've done that too. It's the nature of being a quilter I suppose. I think in the end you will be very happy that you did make this bigger. It is beautiful!

    I've never used flannel for backing (but want to some day!) so have no tips for you there. I have however mixed flannel with regular quilting fabric in a quilt top and it turned out just fine. I made sure to prewash (in hot water & hot dryer) and shrink the flannel first because I've heard flannel can shrink quite a bit.

    As for the quilting part that is always my biggest challenge. Maybe wavy lines under the barns? But outlining around the things in the yard?

  3. I feel like Carole from Carolina Home said about using two colors and echoing the barns, clouds a bit of grass and do quilt the 9 patches with an X in each one ( from corner to corner) I would probably use a Burgundy type red ( a match) to your red blocks for the 9 patches and a cream for the rest, Am all in favor of a two color quilting and since I am a hand quilter I would say you could have it done by Valentine's Day 2016.. Unless you use a machine,,, I could do it in maybe 6 weeks by hand but that would be pushing that... Anxious to see what you decide and see the finished quilt...

  4. I'm still a new quilter so the only thing I can do is straight line machine quilt. Lol. So no help from over here. But...I do have to say that I just LOVE your quilt. It looks fabulous! Whatever you decide to do will be very beautiful I have no doubt!

  5. I think diagonal lines through the nine patch blocks would look great. For the barn blocks I'd either just stitch in the ditch around the blocks, or go around the edge of the building and leave the beautiful pictures to shine. Whatever you decide it will be great.

  6. Oh lovely Jan! What a beautiful quilt. I would quilt the 9 patches and just go around the outside of the barn blocks, leaving the whole block unquilted in the middle. Have fun!

  7. Rosemary B here:
    Jan, this is amazing. So glad you are giving it to your hubbs.
    So glad you found more fabric. This panel is just beautiful.
    Missy.... What would we do without our fuzzy babies?
    We would be sitting on the couch drooling.... right?
    I love my kitty boys so much. As you can see, I used to have a blog
    but I can not enjoy keeping that up anymore because life is busy now
    caring for my 92 year old twins. They are a joy, and a lot of work (doc appointments galore, pill supervision and food shopping)
    I am so happy that you are able to fit in time to create lovely things, and quilts. This is the best life. I am finally learning to blend this "new lifestyle" after two years. I am making my first baby quilt (it is big and not babyish either hmmmmm) I am going to be a gramma for the first time :-)
    and my parents will be amazing great grandparents. WOW
    Again, I adore your quilt, and love reading your blog updates.

  8. Flannel for backing is AWESOME and I love it. Make sure it is quilt shop quality, AND most important pre-wash it, as it shrinks more than quilting cotton (voice of experience here). As for quilting the "beast", Have you thought about trying Quilter's Dream wool batting? A friend of mine has used it a LOT, and says it's easier to manipulate when quilting on a domestic. I've just ordered some for my next quilt. Also, have you heard of quilting in thirds, where you split the batting? I've done that on a TON of quilts, and it makes a huge difference. I wrote a little tutorial here
    I'd love to see feathered wreaths in the 9-patches, but understand your carpal tunnel concerns, manipulating that huge of a quilt on a domestic. They aren't too bad once you get the flow. I like Carole's FMQ suggestions for the barn blocks (which I LOVE) but use the same colour on the back as on the top so you don't get any "pokies" showing through. Different threads on a backing, I think, are cool. I'd outline each barn but keep the details minimal; I was taught that what you quilt is what will draw the eye. Totally opposite to what you see for the borders, but I've done it on a large quilt on a domestic and really liked the look is to quilt straight parallel-to-the-seam lines in the first border and then a gently curving feather design in the outer border. That would tie the feathered wreaths with the outer border. All in all, no matter how you quilt this it is a gorgeous quilt. I still have yet to make a lap quilt (haha) for my husband! All he's gotten is a wallhanging for his garage out of me, lol. I like your quilt helper; every sewing room needs one. :-) And one final suggestion, tongue in cheek: send it to Angela Walters to custom quilt ;-) Read your blog often, so will check back to see how it evolves.

  9. What a lovely quilt. I like your idea for the whole ensemble. Doing a catch up. How are the twins? Love to read about your life on the farm. Thank you for sharing.

  10. very nice quilt.....and thanks for the spring photos....we are a few months away from seeing the actual thing....LOL

  11. So pretty. With your sore hands I don't recommend trying to quilt this on your domestic machine. I would find a long arm quilter willing to do custom work. Have her change thread colours. Red thread in the nine patches (maybe a heart in each center of the nine patches. For the barn blocks I like the frame look you showed us and then maybe an outline of each barn with maybe one water quilting under the barn) but go with your instincts as this quilt is special.

  12. I know not everyone likes/ condones it, but I personally would use clear monofilament. And then I would do the diagonal quilting through even the prints. I would stitch in the ditch around the outer borders and do a diagonal straight stitch border or maybe even a 'piano' key but not real sure how the piano key would contrast with the diagonal of the inner stitching...
    I do have to agree with Susan, though - it would be nice if you could find a long armer that could do the custom quilting on this beautiful quilt.


Hey yall!
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today! Your words mean so much to me. Thank you for taking time to leave me a comment and if you have a blog, feel free to grab a tractor button from the sidebar and plow along with me! Ain't no tellin what we'll get in to.
xo jan