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When we consider changing jobs during our working years we are often encouraged by pundits and pals to think about our skills in broad terms so as to see how they apply to positions outside our current realm. While it may not be possible to do this so much with sewing and quilting, it is still useful advice in terms of not disregarding potential projects.

Several months ago I was approached by a former higher-education colleague with a proposal to create a banner for the institution where she now works. It didn’t take much convincing since there was an older banner as an example, generous compensation, and sufficient time. The project itself seemed interesting, and it was clear that it would use many of my quilting skills. I’m used to working with large pieces of fabric, cutting precisely, and doing machine applique.

The most difficult part was locating fabric. Over the years the banner has been constructed by various seamstresses so there is variation in fabric, color, and technique. But of course the college wanted to stay as consistent as possible. Although I couldn’t find the ideal fabric, I did find duck canvass that worked for both colors and for the sturdiness required. I was fortunate to have access to the most recent banner seamstress, and she kindly gave me the pattern pieces she had created and used for several years. She also imparted some advice about construction order and issues she ran into and how she resolved them.

The actual construction went fine, other than the fact that I didn’t get quite enough fabric initially. Although not a difficult fix, because of the fabric width the only option was an additional purchase that resulted in quite a bit of leftover.

VLS Banner

VLS Banner

I’m not necessarily in the market for projects that are not quilt making, longarm quilting, or upcycling of vintage fabric items, but it never hurts to see one’s skills in a new light.


Flower Power

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Flowers are one of the main themes of quilts, whether through the fabric pattern itself or in the block design. There are many that feature abstract interpretations of flowers that can be combined to create very interesting geometric shapes. Then there are the more literal interpretations of flowers, such as the one I made based on templates and examples in The Magic Vine Quilt by Eleanor Burns.

Flower Feast

Flower Feast

The impetus for this quilt was the dragonfly fabric. I knew I wanted to use it in some way that gave it a prominent role, without cutting it into small pieces or narrow strips. I’d been wanting to use a pattern from this book for a few years, ever since seeing a variation my sister made. And it fit into the criteria of using up scraps from my stash, given the small pieces of the actual flower appliques. I even found the dark purple border fabric in my stash and I had the bright yellow on hand. The blue was purchased with the thought of setting the flowers on a sky-like background. I’m not sure that turned out as well as I had imagined, but the piece is still pulled together by all the colors in the dragonfly fabric.

The flowers were chosen primarily for their colors as I wanted to keep things in the orange, yellow, purple range. The original patterns call for embroidery and beading as embellishments, but I’ll admit I got a little tired and anxious to finish near the end, so I resorted to buttons for most of the decorating. I figure I can always go back and add the embroidery and/or beading if I’m in the mood to do so.

I finished it on the long arm, stitching in the ditch, stitching a loopy design in the dragonfly area, and a smaller loopy design in the blue background of the flowers. I used the blue border to practice free-hand leaves.

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This particular kind of flower picking was very satisfying, and I can see more Magic Vine variations in my future.