Isabella's Whimsy

handmade with love

Memory Quilt Tops….Finished!

The two memory quilt tops for my great-niece and -nephew are finished, folded and ready to go.  We are going to add fleece and the quilt stitching after I get there.

Before the final pics, here are two squares from each block that I haven’t shown you before.

Two of Papa Jack’s vintage cars, his 1957 white Thunderbird and the 1956 turquoise and white Fairlane.


I traced a pic of the T-bird onto white cotton, then sketch stitched it; seemed too thin, so I added fusible interfacing to the back.

DSCF1190I made an applique pattern for the Fairlane, fused it, then sketch stitched around all the pieces.

I asked each of the kids to draw a picture for me to include in the quilt. The idea was to capture a special memory/connection of theirs to Papa Jack. The plan was to scan and print their pictures on fabric, then stitch in as blocks. Wasn’t quite that simple.  I put the printed fabrics in a vinegar bath, but it took out all or almost all of the color!  So I reprinted them (don’t even ask me how that went, but finally it worked), got out some fabric paint pens and colored over their pictures, heat set, and that worked well.  The great-niece drew Papa Jack’s F100 Ranger, the vehicle she (11 years old) has already claimed for her own. DSCF1189Great-nephew did a crayon rubbing of some coins because Papa Jack was a treasure hunter who found old coins, and an amateur collector.  G-N also loves his money. The fabric pens had two ends, one a brush and one a fine point, so I was able to trace the letters on the large California coin, from where Papa Jack lived most of his life.

DSCF1191So here are the quilt tops and a caption following for each block .

Jonathan's Quilt 2 (2)

Row 1: Two patriotic blocks (Tic Tac Toe block and appliqued eagle block – Fat Cat Patterns) and July Star, for Papa Jack’s birth month.

Row 2: McDonald’s ice cream sundae (cherry, I believe), Treasure Hunters, his hobby of repairing antique clocks, a mason jar of nuts and bolts, etc., a cut out from a patriotic ball cap edged with baseballs representing his sons and grandsons sports.

Row 3: Wonky log cabin house for home and family (my sister says, Well, he was a little wonky, wasn’t he?), a heart block for their 50+ year marriage, great-grandson’s pic, US flag representing his amazing flag collection and all the ways he shared his love for the flag with schools and scouts.

Row 4: Typewriter fabric for the long career he held with the Bank of America as an office machines mechanic, the vintage Fairlane, a t-shirt block showing his great respect for the first Americans, and the boy scout emblem appliqued on blue for the younger aged scouts.

Row 5: Family camping times, and the Balkan puzzle block that I used to represent his keen interest in the Civil War, the blue uniforms surrounding the grays on a battlefield of green.


I will only mention the differences here.

Row 1: Easy Weather vane block in patriotic colors.

Row 2: Last block is a cut out from the Los Banos High School where his two older grandsons played ball.

Row 3: The truck.

Row 4: The Thunderbird.

Making these quilts was very therapeutic for me. Jack married my sister when I was 7 years old.  He was my brother for a long, long time.  He was the most constant man in my family and will always be in my heart.


Leaving on a Jet Plane…

My grandson is going on a plane trip pretty soon.  He’s 13 months old, so a couple of other people are also going, but it’s all about him, right?!

So I made a little bag and put in some toys to help keep him entertained, but that hopefully will not disturb his fellow travelers.

Toys for Travel 1I used half a fat quarter, some thin batting, some funny lining (you’ll see in a second).  Just quilted straight lines following some of the fabric lines, and bound the opening all the way around with some simple black cotton.  I made angles on the bottom corners so the bag would feel more spacious, technically, I don’t know that it is. And, I angled the flap corners just because.

Toys for Travel 2That might be too much Velcro. It was hard to decide whether to make it easy for him to open or to make it practical for keeping the toys inside.

And he’s all set to go!

Toys for Travel 3I hope he likes that squishy green caterpillar.

Blessings to you and yours,


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Finishing the Memory Quilt Tops

I love it when a plan comes together!

The two memory quilts are finishing up just great.  It has been a fun, creative, and learning experience.  I loved brainstorming with my sister and then with my nephew for block ideas to include in the quilts.  I used some patterns that I had been wanting to try, so that was fun too.  I tried out a few new techniques, and they turned out.

As for what I learned…

– It might be better to decide on the sizes of the quilt blocks before starting.  Making all kinds of whimsical choices along the way didn’t interfere with creativity, but it’s taking a chunk of math-thinking now to get everything to fit together, and you may not know it, but I’m not a natural at math, so I am doing a fair amount of ripping-out-and-doing-over, but just in small doses.

-it’s good to step out of the comfort zone and try something new.

-I appreciate sashing…it really makes those blocks fit together!

Here is a pic of the general layout…still requires some imagination.


Here is a pic of the two rows that are completed on one of the quilts.


Isabella’s Whimsy


Update on Memory Quilts – 3 new blocks

ice cream, boy scouts, mason jarscherry sundaes, boy scouts (the little guys) and mason jars to keep the nuts and bolts…does it get better than that?



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Gearing up for Etsy Shop re-opening

About 2 years ago I posted a note in my Etsy shop that I was going on vacation…that’s a good long vacation!  Well, I’m not quite ready to re-open the shop, but I am gearing up.

My daughter, Le Snooty Fox, created a great new banner for my shop and I just want to give you a sneak peek.

WhimsyMachineBanner_060715Now, back to work!



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Sea Otter Mug Rug

Just a quick little post…

Here is the latest completed project, a 6.5″ X 9″ mug rug, just right for a cuppa and a little snack.

Sea Otter Mug RugI’m happy with how this little guy turned out!




Making Memory Quilts – continued

I’ve been thinking about that grid I made to help me plan the layout (mentioned in the first post of Making Memory Quilts, June 1, 2015).  I decided to make little rectangles to represent the different blocks; I can lay them out on the grid to see how to place them.  Then I imagined doing that…not such a good idea for me, too much precision required. Remember, I am not a sequential thinker, I’m more of a global thinker, so I have to do things differently in order to come out with a good ending – well, to even arrive at an ending. But the grid is still going to be helpful.


In looking at the grid I see there are 6 20-inch sections, plus another 5 inches to the side and to the bottom that can be shifted around to make borders.  Deciding how to arrange each 20-inch section looks more doable than trying to arrange the entire 40X60-inch surface.  I mean, just think of it, a 20-inch section is 4X5 or 2X10 or 15+5 or 6+6+6+2 or, well, you get it – more manageable.

I think it will be more workable to make the blocks without exact sizes in mind, then to add sashing to make the blocks more uniform.  They may not all turn out to be the same size, but they need to be multiples of the same number, like multiples of 3″ or 4″ or 6″.  That will make a layout easier and hopefully more orderly and pleasant. Oh, now I remember reading that in a blog somewhere (I would give credit if I remembered where I learned it, and I will add credit if I find the source), to make all the blocks multiples of the same number then they will fit together.

So now I need to keep on making blocks and keep in mind that I may will need to add some sashing or borders to get the blocks to fit.

Here is the updated list.  Circled numbers indicate completed blocks.

Blog Note 4

You can see that some blocks were crossed off, so I may need to come up with some more ideas.  I do have an ace up my sleeve, though.  I’ve been collecting fabrics that are interesting and relevant, so maybe I will use some of them as filler blocks…

Later I will let you know how I do with getting the blocks to work together.



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Making Memory Quilts

Memory quilts serve a special purpose.  They not only reflect important aspects of a person’s life, but they also help in transitioning to a loss, or maybe a better way to say it would be, they help establish a different type of connection to a person.

Three years ago our family lost my brother-in-law.  We all grieved, but my sister and I were concerned for their great-grandchildren; we wanted them to be able to recall their Papa Jack and have lots of stories to tell about him.  So we started talking about making memory quilts for them.  His life was full of interesting activities, so the planning process began.

The first thing I did was ask my sister for a piece of clothing for each quilt.  Other memory quilts I made had each focused on a special shirt. But these memory quilts couldn’t be limited to just one idea, because my brother-in-law’s life was too full.

The next thing I did was brainstorm a list of activities and interests to include in the quilt.  Because I am not a sequential thinker, after I had a few ideas, I started making some blocks which led me to the decisions that

  • the blocks would not all be the same size
  • that some blocks would be appliqued with my own designs
  • some would be pieced
  • each quilt would have a design from a t-shirt included
  • the main colorway would be red, white and blue, but other colors would play a part as well, for example, his vintage two-tone green pick-up truck must be included (his great-granddaughter already has her bid in for it, and she isn’t even a teenager yet!).

Then life got busy and I put the ideas aside, but kept them percolating in the back of my mind.  Here are the beginning blocks.

Beginning Blocks Jack

A couple of days ago I realized I was ready to move ahead and make these quilty dreams into reality.  So, here is what I did,

  • pulled out the blocks I had made and the fabrics I kept stashing away as I had come across them
  • made a fresh list of activities to be reflected in blocks
  • determined that throw-size quilts would be the size, about 45″X65″
  • drew a preliminary grid that I could use to plan the layout
  • decided I would need about 18-20 medium to large blocks to represent the ideas and to make a full quilt design
  • decided each of the quilts will have matching blocks regarding size and design, but will use different colors, or slightly different appliques in order to remain unique
  • decided to rotate the layout grid of one quilt so the quilts will not be identical, but will be efficient from a sewing perspective
  • measured the 4 blocks I had already made for each quilt
  • determined some more block designs; along with my applique designs I will be using pieced blocks from traditional and modern patterns
  • requested additional information from family members that I will use in the block designs
  • sat down and made two more blocks, because now I have a list of blocks to make

List of blocks to makeTwo new blocks


As I was making those two new blocks today, I thought I would write about the process and share a few photos as I go. Maybe someone else will want to make a memory quilt and can benefit from my learning experience.

My goal is to have both quilt tops finished before June 30th, so I can take them when I fly out to see my sister and those kids!



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A Family Affair

DSC_0489There is the sweetest family who is very dear to my heart.  They really know the meaning of love, among themselves and for the people around them. Their purpose is to love people with God’s love in order to glorify Him.  I am a recipient of that amazing love.

When great-grandma had to move out of her home to receive care, the family gave me her vintage fabric stash.  Was that generous, or what! As a token of my returning love for them I wanted to make each of the children a quilt and use some of great-grandma’s fabric in them.  So I asked each one what his/her favorite colors were.

Number 1 son said brown and green – no surprise; he had started hunting with his dad and was all about camo.

Henry - frontDSC_0454 (2)

Number 1 daughter said the rainbow, all colors.  Mm-hmm, yes!

DSC_0428 (2)DSC_0434

Number 2 daughter said pink and purple – she loved to wear pink and purple.

DSCF4052 Gwyneth - front

Number 2 son actually came along after the project started and didn’t have any say in the matter. But I think it’s ok with him.

DSCF9626Royal (3) DSC_0442

Yes, indeed, a Family AffairDSC_0499For fun, my daughter and I went to the Alamo for the photo shoot; unfortunately it was very cloudy, but it was a day we will Remember.




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