Isabella's Whimsy

handmade with love

Doll Quilt and Carry-Along Quilt

My friend requested a doll quilt for her granddaughter because she has such fond memories of playing with the doll quilt her Gran had given to her.  But before I got to it, the granddaughter got a little brother.  So, I made a quick doll quilt and an equally quick Carry-Along quilt.  They are about 23″ square, just right for a little one to handle.








Plus Quilt: Baby Boy – or How to Find Delight

I delight in Plus Quilts!

Take a quick look here or here to see if you do too.

Because of this ongoing desire for a Plus Quilt I determined to make one for the before-end-of-year reopening of Isabella’s Whimsy on (Don’t know what Etsy is?  Click here.) There are a few different styles of Plus Quilts, and the style I like the best is made with squares and rectangles (not completely with squares). I also think 3″ (finished) squares will work very well for a baby quilt; 4″ or 5″ probably would look good to me also, but for my first Plus Quilt I wanted to have 3″ squares as the base size. Also, I wanted the Plus Quilt will be in boy colors.

Thank goodness for internet searching.  I had a lot of questions, even after selecting the style and base-block size.  I looked at color selections, read tutorials and process descriptions, and picked up as much info as I could.  I looked at and learned from these sites especially:

Reannalily Designs (dot) com  shares cutting guides and a worksheet based on 7″ squares and accompanying rectangles.

I like the variety of colors in Happy to Craft‘s Plus Quilt. Ms. Happy used 2 prints and 5 solids.

Gemini Stitches has made a tutorial for a lovely Plus Quilt Table Runner based on a 2.5 base block.

A very helpful site is For the Love of George.  Ms. Love-of asks you to register, then she provides a free Plus Quilt pattern in three sizes with suggested layout options.

I started my serious planning with Option 1: 9 fabrics with a random layout. There was only one difference from the Layout Guide to the number of squares I wanted in my Plus Quilt; all I needed to do was draw in one more column on the right hand side and I was good to go. (Oh, and her base square to cut is 4″ where mine is 3.5″ but that didn’t matter too much.) Of course that one little change meant I had to do some math to adjust a few of the pieces from squares to rectangles

So, wanting to use as many fabrics from my stash as possible, I pulled enough to make a stack of nine fabrics in blues, greens, and grays.

This is what I came up with –

DSCF1384 Then I used this planning sheet from For the Love of George, scissors, tiny scraps, and glue.  It was fun to match up my fabrics with the layout guide.

1st and only planning sheetImmediately you say, “Hey where did that orange come from?!” Well, I decided Plus Quilt Baby Boy needed a little more energy. And then you also say, “That stack of 9 fabrics looks like it has more…” And you are correct! I didn’t have quite enough gray for all I needed, so I added a couple of blues.  I also really wanted to use that cute little ABC print, but it also needed more, so I added another print that blends.

DSCF1386So, the initial stack of 9 turned out to be 13, and there is one more surprise coming later.

I wanted to keep an eye on the color values as I went into the layout phase, so here are the swatches arranged by value: top row is 5 light, 3 dark; bottom row is 5 medium (some of them were a little tricky for me to categorize). The next pic shows a black and white copy suggested by more experienced quilt designers as a method to check for value.

Colors by ValueDSCF1394 - Copy

I laid out the cut pieces, but I wasn’t as happy with it as I wanted to be.  I did another black and white check for light, medium, and dark values in the placement.

1st try1st try (2)After playing around, I came up with another layout that isn’t very different (after all, the layout guide I started with was awesome!), but I got more feeling of delight from it.

3rd tryAnd Delight is what I was going for.

Follow-up next week with the finished quilt and any lessons I learn along the way.

Oh, do you see the “surprise” green and white chevron fabric that found its way in?



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Whimsy Quilts…Then and Now

While finishing up a lap quilt for my uncle I was thinking back to when I started making Whimsy Quilts, for real.  The first one (not counting the monkey blanket) was for a young friend of mine who was expecting her first baby. She showed some of us in the office the comforter she liked online, and I said, “I can make one like that for  you.”

That started it all.

Here is the picture of the online comforter she liked; she really only wanted sea turtles, not land turtles; following that is a picture of the one I made, the first of all to come.

Online Picture

Online Picture

Polly's Baby's Quilt - Sea Turtles 012I sure didn’t know about quilting back then! I’ve made several quilts since and learned tons of techniques, skills, and perspectives.  I have tried out all kinds of new quilty-related projects.

So here is where I am today with probably the most complicated quilt yet.

Sept. 3, 2015Each block represents something from my uncle’s life. I designed the black and white referee-shirt stripes along with his favored University of Oregon Duck for the countless high school games he refereed over a span of many years. I used the Fat Cat Patterns applique Eagle for my uncle’s deep patriotism also knowing that the local school in Yoncalla has the eagle for their mascot. My sister had made our uncle an autumn themed patchwork quilt a few years ago, but when he saw the quilts I made in memory of my brother-in-law he turned to Sis and said, with a twinkle in his eye, “Why didn’t my quilt have a flag?”  That comment struck the original spark of making him a quilt, so he got a whimsical flag from my scrap bag!  After retiring from his regular job in and around Yoncalla, Oregon, my uncle and aunt went to Stanley, Idaho to manage a tourist motel as seasonal work for several years. During that time, Uncle became an amateur photographer, made reclaimed wood frames and had a nice little side business going on. Row 2 of the quilt has my interpretation of 2 of his most popular and favorite photographs: “Idaho Mountains” and “Birch Trees”. 

I don’t have great pics of his photos on hand, but these will give you an idea of what I worked from.  Btw, the little white square may be recognized by some as the flash/lens from my old flip phone when I took the pic of the photo of the mountains.

150728_0001 download

Row 3 came into being when I wanted some more length.  I modified a design that I had purchased in a Row by Row Experience shop by making huge flying geese from half-square triangles (HSTs). I’m thinking he must have seen many flocks of geese flying overhead while in Idaho.

completed backI pieced the back of the 45″ square lap quilt with the remaining dark green fabric (given to me by my sister), the remaining Oregon Ducks fabric I brought home from Oregon a couple of summers ago, some more huge geese, and a bit of red from the flag scraps.

Now that I know something about quilting it was fun to decide how to quilt this project.  I used straight lines and gently curving lines depending on the section of the quilt. Some areas are lightly quilted, others are more dense.

DSCF1371 (2)I made the quilt label by using my ink jet to print on fabric, then added an inch wide frame from some mountain gray fabric. I washed and dried it once, so it is beginning to get all soft and crinkly.

I think Uncle will be happy with his surprise next week.  After all, it passed the first test here.


From the beginning until now, I love Isabella’s Whimsy. I love the opportunities to learn, the creative flow, the people I meet – everything.

In joy,

Janie / Isabella

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As the Phoenix Rises from the Ashes…response to disappointment

In thinking about quilt patterns to make  for the reopening of Isabella’s Whimsy on Etsy my memory kept returning to the mid-1990s when I had made an amazing quilt design.  I was so proud of it – my first original design.  I couldn’t quite recall the exact pattern, but I was fully confident that if I could only see one of my quilts made with the pattern I could analyze it and write it up as a pattern. I kept this idea simmering in the back of my head when what do you know,  I stumbled across a quilt from that long-ago time that I had not finished (not too surprising).  My hands nearly trembled in anticipation as I unfolded that gem-of-potential only to drop in confusion when I saw the pattern was a simple tweak of a typical patchwork, not the amazing quilt design I remembered.

Oh well.


But I did not give up.  I talked to my understanding big sister who said she still has the throw I made for her husband and that she would take a picture and send it by email.  Ah, the gladness in my heart! Now I could write up the amazing quilt design and use it to make new quilts and to make a pattern to offer people, either in Isabella’s Whimsy on Etsy or as a freebie!  Then the picture arrived.  I was confused. dismayed. baffled. How could my memory be so wrong? so very wrong? This was indeed the design, but with only two colors, not the three colors I vividly remembered, so it really wasn’t all that amazing. ooohh.Jack's throwAs a last attempt I contacted my friend to ask for a picture of the baby I blanket I had made for her daughter who is now in college.  She was able to send a couple of pics, and again I was confused and even mildly shocked.  This was not my amazing design either!  She said she hoped I wasn’t disappointed, but I was and a little worried about my brain.

IMG_2686 But then just as the phoenix rose from the ashes full of life and strength, I rose from my despair, determined and motivated to re-create what I had apparently never created in the first place, my amazing quilt design!

So I set to work and used a sweet butterfly fabric with purples and other lovely little girl colors, some pink and purple, some old-fashioned delicate white print, and for a pop some lime green with white dots.  I measured and cut and sewed up a storm.  Of course in my “original” (mental) design I had only used three fabrics, but if three is good, four must be better.  So I improvised my way to a finished quilt top.  I started to write out the pattern and got to the part where I change things up…kind of tricky to explain improvisation.  So after more measuring and scribbling, I decided this is not going to be my amazing first original design, this is going to be a cute and happy quilt that I put in the shop, but that’s all. This time. For now, here is a sneak peak.




Would you like to read the folktale about the Phoenix Rising from the Ashes? click here

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