Cleaning and Restarting

One morning I woke up and knew this was the day! The day that I would clean out my fabric stash cubbies. I got sidetracked by a couple of unexpected chores, but I finally went out there and got it done! It feels so good to go through your fabric, weed out a few old things (or in my case, little bits and pieces) and know what you have and where it is. I have a LOT of commercial solids, and unfortunately, I stopped working with them a while ago, in favor of the hand dyes. But I might come back to them, knowing what is available.

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I actually didn’t straighten out the two cubbies with my hand dyes and my 1800’s reproduction fabrics. I know what’s in there already.

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Next, I decided that I liked the idea of using 36 of my stars (made from my box of 2 inch squares) as the center for a medallion, so I sewed those together, and then auditioned a few fabrics for the next few rows of the medallion. Because I had straightened out my fabrics, I found this birdhouse fabric that I had bought recently and really liked. I might use it in the medallion quilt with that gray fabric as a background. Before I put everything away, I decided to use the pink “log” fabric as the next border, and cut that and sewed it to the stars, about a 3″ width.

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The reason for doing all this was to clear the design wall. I wanted to get back to the small compositions I had made for my “characteristics of God” series. I am anxious to get back to work on these. I have 3 or 4 more fabrics out to make into compositions.

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And lastly, for your inspiration, here is a great little saying that perfectly describes the creative process.

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Quilting, Piecing, Embroidery, and Rug Hooking

I mentioned to a friend recently that I had been quilting, piecing, embroidering, and rug hooking, and loving all of it. I kept thinking about this, and I realized that part of the reason was because I had “stations” set up for each activity, so that it was very easy to go from one activity to another. I never understood before why people felt the need to keep more than one sewing machine set up, but now I do. I am much more likely to work on a quilt when the machine is all set up and ready to go. (And I do know that having a big new “toy” is a good motivator.) When I started working on that big rug in January, I rearranged my living room so that I could keep the rug frame up all the time. If the rug frame is not up, rug hooking just doesn’t get done–sometimes for months. And of course, my Janome sewing machine is always up, and I am more likely to go and sew together a few pieces when I don’t have to move a big quilt out of the way. My “embroidery station” is the same as always–my big comfy chair where I sit every evening with a dog on my lap, watching TV shows on my computer, and working on whatever embroidery project is at hand.

It has been so fun to look through my UFO’s and find quilt tops I had completely forgotten about, and others that were within a few stitches of being completed!

I really like this quilt. I was influenced by a little postcard of a magnificent Japanese quilt. Mine is not magnificent, but it was very fun to piece, and I enjoyed practicing “straight enough” line quilting on the new machine.

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This was part of a series of quilts I did for a “Pay it Forward” challenge SIX YEARS ago! I had so much fun making those little quilts for three of my good blog friends. This fourth one was for me, but I used a beautiful upholstery weight fabric on the back, and it was not fun to hand quilt through, so 7/8th’s of the way through, I just stopped. Except for the border it was almost completely quilted. I decided to try hand quilting again. Took two stitches (literally) and knew I wouldn’t finish. So to the machine it went. I am as pleased as can be with the result. I’m thinking about keeping it, just because so many good memories are attached to that challenge project.

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This quilt was completely finished except for the central chicken block. I got a little obsessed about that, even wrote a blog about changing it out, and then it got put away and forgotten about. I finished quilting around the motifs in the central block, and it was finished. Several of these quilts have had enough backing fabric that I was able to do the binding by just bringing the backing around to the front. VERY convenient!

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Piecing. I think I showed you this one  before. I just about used all of the strips in that box, and so it is done. Since the strips were cut with a ruler, I’m not sure why it has ended up a bit wonky, except that I didn’t use my 1/4″ foot all the time. Anyway, I think I will put a wide border around it to finish it off and to square it up a bit.

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These stars are mostly my project for Sewing Day with my ladies. So fun to do, but a bit time consuming. All done with 2″ cut squares from my box of little two inch squares.

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I had the idea to make these simple blocks to offset the star blocks, which are so busy, but I didn’t like the way that looked. So they might become their own little project…

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Rug hooking! I LOVE love love working on this rug. There is even more of it done now, but this is the most recent picture. Like I said, I have a place all set up in the living room, so it is very easy to just sit and do a little bit of hooking, if that’s all I have time for.

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Close-up:

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And embroidery. I have almost finished the embroidered words on all 17 of the quilts in the “what they said” series. I loved working on these, and trying to convey the thoughts and feelings behind the words through the way I embroidered the words. Now to quilt and finish them. I will show them all to you at one time, as that is the way I think they will have the most impact. Here is the one I chose to use as the “header.” Just the straight line kantha stitching over the whole piece.

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And that is how life is going in the studio right now. I wake up every morning excited about what I am going to work on that day.

Entering a Quilt Show

When last I wrote I was working on finishing a couple of quilts, in hopes of entering them in the Modern Quilt Guild’s QuiltCon show. Oh, I just checked, and I didn’t mention that I was planning on entering them. I seldom enter quilt shows, for several reasons. First and foremost is because I am not organized enough to plan ahead for deadlines. Secondly, they are expensive to enter! And third, I don’t actually agree with how some quilt shows seem to be judged. Rather than looking at the quilt as a whole artistic piece, the quilts are sometimes eliminated for technical details, like a less-than-perfect binding. (don’t kill me for this statement–its commonly written about by judges and entrants alike.) I used to show dogs, and sometimes the same thing would happen. Dogs were eliminated for certain small faults, and so in the end sometimes a common-looking dog would win, and the most beautiful outstanding dogs would be dismissed from the ring. So, the fourth reason I don’t enter is because I know that my quilts have some of these common technical “faults,” and I am unwilling or unable to change those things.

Back to the Modern Quilt Guild. It is having Quilt Con here in my state next February. I was quite excited about this, and joined so that I could have a chance to get into some of the classes, and I decided to splurge and plan to spend all four days at the show. So then I thought about trying to enter a few of my quilts. I’m not sure if they are modern, but I know that they are different, and I would like to share them with other people.

The deadline was November 30, and right on time, there I was on November 30, filling out the online entry forms, and taking pictures of my quilts with the right amount of pixels per side. In the end I entered six quilts. I told my BF that it was my version of playing the lottery. Maybe if I entered more, one would make it? Most of me knows that there is very little chance that they will make it into the show. The other part of me actually enjoys my own work and knows that it is worth being seen by other people.

Here are the last two that I showed you almost finished, and that I entered. The other four you have already seen elsewhere on the blog.

His Kingdom Will Never End

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And close-ups:

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A Closer Look

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And close-ups:

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(Both of these quilts were made with Cherrywood fabrics. All I had was their bags of 8X10 pieces, I think they call them Grab Bags for Crazies.)

One thing I do enjoy doing is exhibiting my quilts at various churches. My hope is that people will see words of Scripture in a new and different way and that that will make them stop and think about the meaning. Lately I have been displaying some of my quilts at my own church. Here’s a view of that:

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After getting all those quilts entered on November 30, I followed my plan to “switch gears,” and I have been working on my rug hooking since then. I’ll write about that later in the week.

Moving Along

It seems like progress has been slow lately, but if you just keep plugging along, eventually stuff gets accomplished.

I thoroughly enjoyed my quick trip to Santa Cruz for Maria Shell‘s workshop! I stopped at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and they had a brand new exhibit up–what a treat!

Maria’s workshop was great, and she had lots of ideas for us to try using solid fabrics to make prints.

I had this great grouping of fabrics in my tote bin, and right away I thought “wouldn’t those work together well?”

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So I used them to make these curved pieces. When I started working on them, I wasn’t quite so charmed with their colors. So I put them up on my design wall when I got home, and I am pondering the possibilities. Even if I don’t use these particular pieces, I love the technique that she taught, and I know I will use it again soon.

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My gardener was due for a visit, and so the pressure was on to finish the quilt for his first granddaughter. Do any of you have “issues” with charging for your work? I don’t ever want to do anything for free, but on the other hand, I would not pay what I charge for a baby quilt–I want to say “go to Marshall’s, you can get a great baby quilt there for a fraction of the cost.” Nonetheless, we traded work hours for the quilt. MLG has done a miracle in my yard–worth so much more than a quilt.

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Here is the finished quilt–I just quilted simply around the birds, put some radiating lines around the “frames,” and did simple wavy lines in the sashing. I ended up following the fabric pattern to quilt the border. I wanted it to be sturdy, but not too densely quilted for a quilt that I hope is used and loved for a long time.

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I had the idea to cut out one of the bird prints, and use that space for the baby name and info. I was really pleased with how this came out.

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In the meantime, mostly in the evenings, I kept plugging along at the little squares that I was embroidering. Last night I finished the 153rd square! Now I am going to quilt it, and add a backing fabric onto it. I had a muslin back on it, just for stability, but now for the first time I am going to try my idea of adding a second back so that the embroidery thread work won’t show on the back. I am only going to show you a few of the squares that I finished. You’ll have to wait until its finished to see the whole thing.

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(oops, I just noticed I didn’t finish the french knots on this one!)

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And now on to the studio!

Quilting and Stitching Along

Last weekend I went to the Pacific International Quilt Festival (fantastic!) and in less than a week I will be in Houston for the big show! Its my first time to go to Houston, and I am going with my BFF, so am totally excited about the experience.

In between I have been stitching away on the ‘many crosses’ quilt. I started out with some diagonal stitching on some of the crosses, and then didn’t know where to go with it. BFF suggested spirals, and I love those, so when I came home from PIQF, I found a leftover block from that quilt and did a few spirals on it, then tacked it up next to the real quilt on the design wall. I could see right away that that was too distracting, and the thought came into my head “you need to quilt each of these crosses individually.” And just as quick as that, I was off and quilting. It made me so happy to have a plan. Here’s a few shots of what I’ve been doing.

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In the late afternoon, and into the evening, I watch TV shows and stitch away on the little squares quilt that I put together just for the purpose of having something to hand stitch. At first, it was disconcerting to try to do any stitching on these little two inch squares. But the more I’ve done, the more I’ve gotten into it. Each one is a little composition on its own. Some I am following the print of the fabric and using that as a guideline for my stitching. Others I just do whatever I want to on top of the print. I think there are about 150 squares on this quilt, and last night I counted 75 of them already stitched. Its really amazing how much you can accomplish by hand when you just keep working at it.

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I probably won’t be back to blog until I return from Houston. Oh, and then I have only a few days at home before I leave for my workshop with Maria Shell! And then I’m never leaving home again 🙂

Interruption

In case any of you reading this blog do not read my other blog or follow me on Facebook, my nice calm life was interrupted a week ago by the Butte Fire! It was fairly close to my home, but then the wind took it in a different direction. Me and the doggies evacuated for a few days. But now the fire is under control, and all is returning to normal, at least in my little life.

I don’t think I ever showed you the finished quilt P.I.N.K. I do love it, and will use it as my favorite lap quilt this winter.

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I quilted each block a bit differently. That probably kept me going on it.

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I love how a quilt crinkles after you wash it!

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Last week, B.F. (before fire) I was determined to get back to my rug. I finished the hummingbird and these trumpet flowers. And that’s as far as I got. Hopefully, more rug hooking will be on slate for Monday.

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To get back into the studio, I did a little fun, no-meaning playing around. These star blocks are all done with my box of little two inch squares. Very fun to first piece some four patches, and then to choose two more colors to make these stars. I actually like this method of making the star points (or flying goose blocks.) There is a seam in the middle, but it seems to be a very accurate way of making those   blocks. I just take the two inch squares, and draw a line right down the middle diagonal and then stitch on the line.

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B.F. I had started hand stitching on this piece. There are 150 two inch squares, so lots of places to do a little doodling. This was the hand project that I grabbed to take with me when we evacuated.

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Speaking of evacuating, I did not take much with me when I left. How do you decide what to take and what to leave? I did not take any of my finished quilts. I took my Singer Featherweight, and I took my rug hooking wool stripper tool, as it was near the back door, and I am quite fond of this tool 🙂 I just took one handwork project, and one knitting project. Three changes of clothes (just right!) and the best thing I took was the doggie bed. It kept the girls calm in a new environment 🙂

In church last Sunday (in the midst of the Butte Fire) we had such a special service. There were several couples there that had lost their homes to the fire. I did have a little inspiration for a quilt about the fire, and I am working on that this week. I will share that with you next time.

In the meantime, be safe and be thankful!

This Week–In The Studio

A week  or so ago, I became enchanted by a quilt Melody Johnson shared on her blog. I sent the picture to my BF, and asked  why I liked it so much. Her answer: P.I.N.K.

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Ha! I truly hadn’t thought of that. I do like pink just a bit 🙂 I also liked the scrappiness of it, and lately I’ve been attracted to the friendship star. I’ve been thinking about triangles for about 6 months. And I have been thinking about doing a more traditional style of quilt. P.I.N.K. confirmed it. This is the new quilt I would make for my bed! Oh, and I also liked that the original creator used old clothing in her quilt. I had saved some of the fabric from the last few colorful scrub tops I wore as a NICU nurse, and this would be the perfect quilt to include them in.

As you can see in the original, it is based on 3/4 –that is, there are 3 squares across the blocks, contrasting to the 4 squares across the sashing. The simplest equation for this is 12. So the blocks are based on a 9 patch of 4 inch finished blocks, while the sashing would be based on 3 inch finished blocks. I only tell you all of this to tell you something cool that happened quite by accident. I decided to make the half-square triangles for the star blocks by simply cutting 4 1/2 inch blocks, drawing a line down the center, and sewing ON that line. I cut the leftovers off with my scissors. As I looked at those leftovers, I wondered if they would make the 3 inch finished  blocks I needed for the sashing triangles. Sure enough, they did! So I sewed those leftovers together as I went along, and then “squared them up” and cut them down to 3 1/2 inches.

I do not like strip piecing, or speed sewing anything. So I just went through my stack of pinkish fabrics and chose three fabrics for each star block, and constructed each block one at a time. I know this is slower, but I am so much happier working this way. Every day I made a few star blocks, so that by yesterday I had all twenty of them done! I was a little surprised to see that my creation is LESS pink than the original. Maybe it’ll pink up when I add the sashing. I used a combination of contemporary prints and reproduction prints. And added in some stripes and plaids. This will not be big enough for a bed quilt, so I will add some kind of border.

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And returning to the cherrywood fabric and 2 inch blocks creation:  after thinking about how or if I wanted to add the squares to the last border of this quilt, I realized that the way I wanted to do it was to follow how I had done the first round. That is, I added the borders log-cabin fashion, and I sewed the little squares on to each log before I sewed it to the main piece. So I adjusted the little squares to mimic this treatment. Its a small changed, but one that made me very happy. Its ready to be made into a sandwich, but first I have to clear away some pink fabric from my cutting desk so I can turn it into my ironing desk 🙂

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Background Experiments

A few posts back, I showed you the pile of 3″ squares and the snowball quilt I was working on.

 

Here’s the finished snowball quilt. I put a simple wide black border on it, influenced by the great Amish quilts I saw at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. By the way, if you are ever in the area, I can’t recommend this museum highly enough. They have great exhibits, and it is so lovely to see quilts displayed in such a beautiful way.

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Well, it seems my figuring was a bit off, because I finished that snowball quilt top, and still had a huge pile of 3″ squares. When auditioning backgrounds for the snowball quilt, I came across a piece of dyed golden beige fabric. It was really pretty with the jewel tones of the squares, so I put it aside, thinking that I might experiment with it after the snowball top was done. I only had 1/2 yard of the golden beige fabric, so this one was smaller.

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I had fun making these squares–you can see here, I simply zigzagged one of my many 2″ squares in the middle of the 3″ square. And the other ones I cross-cut 4X, inserting free-hand cut strips of the background color. Then I had to square up the finished piece to the original size.

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And THEN, I still had a big pile of the 3″ squares leftover. And I think I was looking at some of the modern quilts at QuiltCon (BTW, its going to be in California next year!!!) and I saw a black and white quilt, and that gave me the idea to play around with my black and white fabrics. This quilt was quite fun. I simply cut 3 1/2 inch and 6 1/2 inch strips, and improvised as I went along.

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After I cut those strips with a rotary cutter, I did all the rest of the cutting with my scissors. This method worked out pretty accurately. After I sewed a strip on, I simply carefully folded the strip back on itself, matching the bottom edge of the seam, and making sure the unsewn edge of the strip matched the side of the sewn edge. I held it carefully in place and cut along the fold.

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My goal this week was to get all three of these made into quilt sandwiches. I am hoping by doing this that I won’t continue to add to my pile of unfinished quilt tops. And also, I am ready to move on to some serious projects, so I wanted to clear out the studio.

Mission accomplished–this picture represents the final sandwich being completed! You can see I still have a little bit of cleaning up to do 🙂

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In The Studio and On My Lap

Here’s the latest work being done in the studio–

I made the giant nine patch quilt top into a sandwich. First I made a pieced back for it. I’ll have to show you that after the quilting is finished.

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And I started working on the little snowball quilt idea I had. You can see that most of the blocks are 3 inch finished blocks. Then I made six, nine, twelve, and fifteen inch blocks to insert into the quilt. I thought of a lot of different ways to do this, but I ended up using the original little sketch I had drawn in my journal. I love having my little journal with me!

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I still have a lot of the 3 1/2 inch squares that I pre-cut for this quilt. I have another little idea in the works for them.

In the evenings, I usually move into the living room and have some handwork in progress.

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I’m working on another of  The Psalms quilts. Here you can see I machine stitched in the ditch to stabilize the background. But then I decided to do kantha style stitching over the entire background.

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Well, you know all about my circle love 🙂

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And I finished the rug made from fabric strips. These rugs are so cushy to stand on. I really like having them in the kitchen, and they wash very easily too.

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After being washed:

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Its just right in front of the stove. And the little girls like to lay on them when they are waiting for me to make their meals!

In The Studio

Sometimes I go into the studio expecting one thing to happen, and the muse leads in a completely different direction. Yesterday I went in planning to work on my little snowball blocks. Just some boring, repetitive work (I like that sometimes.) But my featherweight sewing machine was set up on the desk. I remembered that I had set it up thinking that I might want to sew the snowball blocks with it. I decided that I wanted to use my big machine for that, but I hadn’t put the featherweight away. That made me think of my little squares.

Once a month I get together with my sewing group. And for the last couple of years, I have spent that day putting together nine patch blocks, using one particular Loni Rossi fabric as a focus fabric for them. Here’s that focus fabric. I am just in love with it, and wish I could get more. It was actually on sale, and I bought one yard. Then a friend was going back to that store, and I asked her to get me more. They only had a yard and a half left. So I used about 2 yards just making the little nine patches.

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So yesterday I started looking through my collection of nine patch blocks, and the sixteen patch blocks (18″ blocks) that I had constructed from them. Sigh. I only had nine of those dang blocks. This was going to take another two years at this rate. I went into the closet to see if I had some more of the big sixteen patch blocks stashed somewhere in there. I didn’t find any, but I did find the bin of all the blocks I had constructed from my two inch blocks over the years. There were some little 16 patch blocks and some little 25 patch blocks. Some of them were hand-pieced, and some of them had some vague pattern work going on on them. Others were just completely scrappy. I was beginning to warm to the idea of using all these blocks that might never find a home otherwise. My original inspiration was an antique quilt, and isn’t that what it seemed like was often done–midway through a quilt, the color might change a bit, as they ran out of one fabric and made do with what they had on hand.

Hmmmm. What if I were to use all these blocks to supplement my nine patch blocks. I wonder if there would be enough to make a quilt top. So I started fooling around with them on the design wall. I counted the nine patches I still had, and there were enough to make three more of the big sixteen patch blocks. That way I could put a grid of 3X4 big blocks in the center of the quilt. I still had some of the Lonni Rossi focus fabric left. If I outlined these blocks with the focus fabric, maybe that would make sense of the quilt. I laid out the small 16 patch blocks and the 25 patch blocks around the quilt, and I had enough to make a complete top!

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And that is what happened in the studio yesterday. Finished size is about 68″ X 88″. And in case you’re going to ask (several friends have already asked) there are about 2,867 little blocks in this quilt.

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Of course, I still have a full box of little two inch squares…