Monday, January 7, 2019

U and U QAL January 2019

Overlapping Octagons

It is all about "U"! Thank you all for getting as excited as I am about this project. So many of you have signed up for this QAL! I am excited to see so many versions of a quilt.

The first quilt I picked screams both - Unconventional and Unexpected!

Facts and my observation of this quilt: 
Find it in your book, Unconventional and Unexpected Quilts on page 51. 

The maker is unknown and so is the pattern. I am going to call it Overlapping Octagons.
Quilt in the book measures 77 X 66 inches.
Finished blocks 8 X 8 inches
Fabric used shirting and flannel

I must say the maker was pretty clever! She made this simple pattern look quite complicated.

Our eyes are so trained to find a square block in a quilt.. I couldn't see one, can you?

I looked closer to study the construction of the quilt and deconstructed the "Block".

I think this quilt was hand pieced. Two different units were used to make this quilt. A square for the center of each octagon and string pieces rectangles with triangles on either ends.

Why do I think it was hand pieced? Those rectangles with triangles on either side are string pieced  and some of the patches continue from the triangles to the body of the rectangle.

Here is another close-up.

I am not sure about you all but I do not want to hand piece a quilt top at this time in my life.
So here is what I came up with.

The best way to sew these Overlapped Octagons is to sew them in columns using required units..

Here are some loose instructions I promised.

This quilt can be constructed with finished,

2" Quarter Square Triangles
2 X 4 inches String Pieced Rectangles
4 X 4 Center Squares

Are you with me? If not, I have more to say :)

You will construct it in columns. Yes! Strips!

  • You will need (give or take)

132 Center Squares - 4 1/2" X 4 1/2"

156 Stringed Pieced Rectangles - 2 1/2" X 4 1/2"

156 Quarter Square Triangles - 2 1/2" X 2 1/2"

  • Strip Set - A 
Sew 12 strips starting with quarter square triangle alternating with string pieced rectangle and ending with quarter square triangle - 74 1/2 " long. For each strip you will need 13 squares and 12 rectangles.
  • Strip Set -B
Sew 11 strips, Starting with stringed rectangle alternating with a plain center square, ending with pieced rectangle. For each strip you will need 13 Rectangles and 12 Squares. 

Sew strip one and two in alternating order.
The quilt should measure 68" X 74" or something like that.

Here are few other things to consider.
  • Use many shades of same color to mimic the use of recycled shirts.
  • Observe the size of the scraps and compare those to the prints you may be using. Large prints will definitely get lost when cut providing even crazier look!
  • You don't need to make entire quilt with small blocks. Play around with large scale prints and large size blocks. The blocks can be reconfigured as long as the measurements are divisible by 2
  • What if you choose those 4" squares to act as background? How will those overlapping octagons act against same fabric throughout? 
  • Consider low volume, high contrasts. "Take a trip" to another country for inspiration and use colors inspired from it.
  • Use your travel pictures for color inspiration.
  • Use stripes, dots pr plaids to create drama.
I can go on and on. 

If you are not interested in making this quilt, pick the one you like. There are so many beautiful quilts in the book, just have fun, make it your own.

I am still trying to figure out the best way to have one platform to visit each-other's projects. Meanwhile, let's make some dent in the scrap box!

If you are on Instagram, use #unconventionalandunexpected and #UANDUQAL
I am told U&UQAL will not work.

And lastly, you do not need to have a blog nor the IG account. I really hope you have fun making these quilts.

Happy Monday you all! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year!

I hope your holidays were as bright and filled with love as ours. I am still here.. This house was filled with relatives from distance and kids.

The kitchen was always open and the laundry was constantly running. I said goodbyes to all the kids at once. My heart is full. This was our grandson's first visit, first plane ride. First Christmas together for now seven of us!

 Kai did not mind posing for camera for me at all.

Younger two kids went home as soon as I took our oldest son and his family to the airport this morning.

The house is empty and it has opened up space for our quilt-along. If you missed it, read all about it here.

Those of you who are interested in the quilt along, I have received and read every single comment.   I hope you are patient. I will come back with quilt # one next week.

A lot of you have ordered the book or already have it in your home. I hope you have had a chance to go through it.

Couple of reminders before I end this reminder post - (couldn't help myself)

This is going to be a stress free experience.

Those of you who are anonymous, please send me an email so I have your email addresses to send you an invite  to post on a community blog.

If you do not have Instagram or a blog? No worries, just have fun. This project is designed to get to know other like-minded people and build a community of quilters who appreciate quirky quilts just like the man who brought them to us.

Have a great rest of the week!

Thursday, December 13, 2018


The best thing about moving to the San Francisco Bay Area has been coming in contact with quilters, authors, historians and collectors all at the same time.
Back in 2015 when I still lived in PA, we were invited to the wedding in San Francisco. My book had just been released in December 2014 and just couple of months before that, one of my favorite books was also released - Unconventional and Unexpected Quilts by Roderick Kiracofe

As soon as I got my copy of the book, I realized there was not a single quilt I disliked. I really wanted to meet this guy who collected old, unconventional quilts as art! So when the tickets were booked, I sent Roderick Kiracofe  an email wondering if we could meet for coffee. I was honored that he carved some time out of his schedule.

I took my book with me to get it autographed. When we met and I asked him for his autograph, he said humbly, "I am a quilt collector but people are treating me like some kind of celebrity!"

He is a celebrity to me. He has an eye for collecting quilts that have inspired us all. Wouldn't you agree?

So that brings me to this exciting news!

Last month I attended his exhibit RED in Berkeley. Common theme - In each quilt, color red used in unique way. It was wonderful to see some of his quilts in person for the first time and hear him talk about each one of them.
Clock on the link to view some of those quilts.

I had always wanted to try my hand at using his quilts as inspiration and make quilts of my own. In fact when I flipped through the pages of his book when it was released, Couple of quilts in the book reminded me of my quilts from - Cultural Fusion Quilts. I posted about it here.

Image Courtesy: Roderick Kiracofe

Here comes the best part! After seeing RED I got excited all over again to make quilts. Kind of quilts that have nothing to do with my book. I have been teaching for past four years and another year is booked with fantastic places to go and things to do. I have had an exciting times these but I am also craving to make new quilts.

As soon as I thought of making quilts inspired from U&U, I thought to involve my blogging friends.

I do want to emphasize, I have no other interest than just to make some quilts from this book and inspire quilters out there. 

Are you interested? There is only one rule for this quilt-along.

All you need to have is the book. You can find a signed copy here. It would make a great Christmas gift to yourself. I kid you not!

Here are some  "No Rules" of this U&U Quilt-Along

  • They do not need to be wonky if  you like to stitch in the straight line. 
  • There are no deadlines.
  • I will be sharing some loose directions but you Do Not need to follow my guidelines. You are more than encouraged to go your own way. 
  • Remember that possibilities are endless and you Do Not need to repeat the colors or pattern exactly like it is in the book.  
  • When you post the progress pictures as well as finished quilts on Instagram, use #U&UQA  
The U&U quilt along will begin 7 January 2019.

What do you say?
Leave a comment and let me know if you are interested.
I will invite you to join Basket Full of Scraps blog.

Mean while I am going to figure out how to make the blog button for U&UQA

Leaving you with some images of quilts from RED

 This last picture seems like vintage now. It was only four years ago!

Come Join Me!


Monday, December 10, 2018

Podcast with Pat Sloan

While most of you are busy decorating for Christmas and wrapping gifts and mailing packages, I am excited about quilt related things.

In few hours, I will be on the phone talking with Pat Sloan.
Tune in at 4:00 PM eastern or 1:00 PM Pacific time.

If you miss it, no worries, it will be available at after 6:00 PM today.

Later in the week it will be loaded to

Another reason for my excitement - Later this week, I will come back with an exciting collaboration with a dear friend and also share a Kawandi quilt.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Sunshine and Silver Linings

Last November, as soon as Gautam and Kim shared the news of their pregnancy, my mind started thinking of a baby quilt.

Will it be for a boy or a girl? What pattern will I choose? What theme would they choose for their baby's room?

All I knew, I wanted this quilt to be very special. I wanted this quilt to be an heirloom. It was going to be hand quilted. It had to be soft and cozy for mother and child. Yes, I wanted it to be big enough so  both parents can use it and snuggle in with baby. The baby would be able to use the quilt for couple of years before growing out.

I went straight to work, looked for any and all of my husband's shirts I could find in my stash. All I could find were white-ish shirts. My husband wears very few colors.  The fabrics had to come from washed and worn old clothing. It was very common in India to make baby quilts from used clothing  lined with used clothing so they are washable. As I was collecting his shirt, I thought - Why not add grandpa Thomas's shirts too?  I got on the phone and requested few of his shirts for the mix.

Before leaving for India in January, I had everything I needed to make a quilt, except for accent colors. During the first half of  2018, I was also quite busy traveling and teaching. The quilt had to wait. I had a window of later half of May and entire June to make a baby quilt. How difficult can that be? I deconstructed the shirts and left them in a box.

Time passed quickly, month of May rolled in, the fabrics were still in the tub! In the beginning of the month, I had to travel again for three different workshops and couple of presentations in Seattle area.
That's when I panicked.

The best thing happened when I was in Seattle. My son asked me if I could fix one of his ripped shirts. I looked at the shirt with a L shaped whole at least 2" long. Oh darn!
In past I had asked Kim to save all Gautam's shirts for a quilt. She right away suggested that I should take that shirt home. Although she had no idea I was cooking up a quilt in my head. I happily accepted the offer. I had just hit the jackpot! I got to add a "papa" shirt in the mix!

When I came back home, all I knew was I was going to use them with bunch of blues. We were having a grandson! Kim wanted fluffy clouds and stars in baby's room with everything else as a clean canvas (not too many colors) because there will be plenty colors with additions of toys, books, and other things once the baby was here.

Start of the Process

On 21st May, I started the process. With time constraint in mind, I thought a simple quilt will be nice. After all that is what I make - Simple quilts. The question was how to fit the clouds and stars theme in my quilt. Did I need to do it? I couldn't see myself making a representational quilt. I heard my daughter's voice in my head. "Make what you like" an advise I often give my own students. It is an often forgotten voice when we make something for someone else.

I didn't need to worry what they would like. As long as I love making it, the end result will be beautiful and giving that with whole heart was going to be enough.

So I let loose and trusted that anything I made will be perfect for this little guy.

Moving on from there was easy. I cut pieces and pieced them together into strips.

Then arranged them on the design wall in few different ways.

When I arranged the strips in next arrangement, I knew that was the way I wanted to go.

I kept sewing patches into strips. It took few days and the strips were overflowing. Pretty soon I ran out of the design wall. The quilt had to be good lap size so Kim and the baby could cozy up together.

It took me five weeks to complete the quilt. I took it with me in July before his birth and gifted it to my son and daughter in law. The quilt contains three shirts of grandpa Thomas and many of my husband.

Kai's Quilt - Sunshine and Silver Linings

It has got Seattle's days and nights and fluffy clouds as well as water logged clouds.

It has built in dappled sunlight and mix of rain and frost.

If you have ever lived in Seattle, you know you could experience all the elements of weather in one day.

The quilt has lovely, soft curved, uneven edges..bound with what else but all of the shirts!

I used up most of the leftover material from shirts to make the backing.
How did he match so well with the quilt?
 When it is folded in quarters, it is quite comfortable.

He loves looking at the trees and sky out the window and I love watching him!

"Tummy Time"

Every picture I see of him, there is the quilt!

It is hand quilted with loads of Grandma love.

Grandma! I love the sound of that!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!