Sunday, August 13, 2017

Alisa made Jake a photo comforter with Minky backing

Jake's photo comforter showing Minky backing
by Linda Theil

In January Alisa ordered a "Collage Fleece Photo Blanket" from Walgreens online at a sale price of $15 plus tax with free shipping. She had the "blanket" printed with photos of Jake, and planned to give it to him as a present for his ninth birthday this month. 

Photo collage fleece blanket ordered from Walgreens online
Alisa decided to back the lightweight knit "blanket" with Cuddle Embossed Dimple Minky 60-inch-wide yardage in a dark gray "Ash" color. 
Cuddle Embossed Dimple Minky in "Ash" gray
We cut off the hems, measured the result, and cut a piece of Minky to the same size. With right sides together, we basted the photo top to the Minky backing and stitched a 5/8-inch seam around the perimeter, leaving an 8-inch opening on one side to turn the blanket through. We used a long, narrow, zig-zag stitch for the seaming. 

In one seam, we inserted a personalized label that Alisa ordered from Border City Quilts on Etsy.
Personalized label ordered from Border City Quilts on Etsy, inserted in edge seam of comforter. Also showing topstitching 5/8-inch from edge seam of comforter.
After turning the comforter right-side-out, we topstitched about 5/8-inch from the seam around the perimeter using the same narrow, long, zig-zag stitch we used for the seaming. Our finished comforter measured 37 x 55-inches. Alisa thinks the blanket she ordered was narrower than the 50 x 60-inch blankets currently on the Walgreens' website.

We had a difficult time fitting the back to the top because the Minky is so stretchy. I would be tempted to try adding some kind of stabilizer to the Minky if I ever tried this again. Or perhaps use a soft woven flannel instead of the super-luxe knitted Minky!

Walgreens 50 x 60-inch "Plush Fleece Photo Blankets" are normally priced at $60 plus shipping on their website. They are running a 75-percent-off special until August 19, 2017. Photo blankets are also available at online photo site Shutterfly. One word of caution: our photo blanket was very lightweight -- not of a weight I would normally expect in a blanket.


Jake likes his birthday comforter.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Visit Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Pennsylvania

Eastern elevation of Harmonite buildings erected ca. 1825 at Old Economy Village on northern banks of Ohio River in current Ambridge, Pennsylvania, looking southwest across village garden toward bluffs on southern bank of the Ohio River, west of Pittsburgh, PA. Photo: Linda Theil, May 27, 2017.
Old Economy Village is once again facing existential threat if Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf's current budget cuts to the Pennsylvania  Historial and Museum Commission are ratified by the legislature. After the economic crash of 2008, Old Economy Village was briefly eclipsed, but clawed its way back from oblivion to its current, financially-diminished state, only to be faced -- once-again -- by disregard for its unique status as a cultural and historic asset to the citizens of the commonwealth of William Penn's vision and the entire United States of America.

Secured by the state in 1916, the Harmonite village of Economy -- a priceless architectural asset along the Ohio River west of Pittsburgh -- was placed in stasis, to be held in historical trust for all citizens of the commonwealth in perpetuity by the government of Pennsylvania -- a status verified by the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The vital position of Old Economy in the history of the United States of America cannot be overstated. Old Economy Village is utterly unique and utterly priceless.

On Saturday I visited the site after many years absence, and toured the recently renovated -- 2013-14 -- homes of Harmonist leaders George Rapp and Frederick Rapp with historian David Miller. Thanks to Mr. Miller, docent Chloe Thomas, and other representatives of Old Economy, I enjoyed a magical interlude where, long ago, Swabian immigrants worked to create harmony. Plan your visit today. 

Eastern elevation of Frederick Rapp house and southern elevation of George Rapp house at Old Economy Village in Abridge Pennsylvania. Photo Linda Theil, May 27, 2017.

Southern elevation Frederick Rapp house facing village garden, and portion of Feast Hall in background. Photo Linda Theil, May 27, 2017.

Feast Hall, eastern elevation. Photo Linda Theil, May 27, 2017.

Espaliers on Feast Hall. Photo Linda Theil, May 27, 2017.

Entrance to Wine Cellar at Old Economy Village, Ambridge PA. Photo Linda Theil, May 27, 2017.

Northern elevation Rapp House, Old Economy Village, Ambridge PA. Photo Linda Theil, May 27, 2017.

Doorway garden, Old Economy Village, Ambridge, PA. Photo Linda Theil, May 27, 2017.

View looking east from grape arbor in garden at Old Economy Village, Ambridge PA. Photo Linda Theil,
May 27, 2017.

Interior, kitchen George Rapp House, Old Economy Village, Ambridge, PA. Photo Linda Theil, May 27, 2017.

David Miller, Educator, PHMC at George Rapp House, Old Economy Village, Ambridge PA. Photo: Linda Theil, May 27, 2017.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Making Moda Blockhead 1: Whirligig

Here is my second Mini-toot video tutorial. I made it to demonstrate the first block on Moda's new FaceBook site, "Moda Blockheads -- Public Group"

The block is "Block 1: Whirligig - Kansas Troubles Quilters, Lynne Hagmeier, Designer". A PDF file with complete directions can be downloaded from the Internet by clicking on this link.

This design is not optimum for a mini-tutorial, but since I wanted to make the block, I thought I might as well take the photos and use the free Adobe Spark application to make another video. I think my first mini-toot, "Cross Block", is really cute; and I am learning more about the video process as I go along.

I made the "Cross Block" mini-toot because it showed an improvisational block, and I wanted to make this "Whirligig" mini-toot because it uses a "layered" patchwork technique that I wanted to investigate. 

In this "layered" patchwork method of making the Whirligig block, instead of sewing the triangles to the rectangles, these instructions give an alternate "layered" method that just stitches the triangles right-side-up on top of the rectangles, then the rest of the process is traditional patchwork seaming.

"Layered" patchwork technique from L. Hagmeier's "Whirligig" how-to

I'm sure this technique could be very useful and interesting, but I can't say I found it all that compelling in this instance. The "Whirligig" block can be pieced in the traditional way, too. I think if I try it again, I will increase the block size (this one is 6.5-inches) and piece the design in the traditional way.

A new block comes out every Wednesday on the Moda Blockheads public group on Facebook; it's fun, and instructive, to see all the different blocks that readers make.

UPDATE 03/14/17: Lynne Hagmeier, the creator of this "layered patchwork" version of the Whirligig block, stitches her triangles closer to the edge of the fabric than shown in this video. Hagmeier's post on how to make this block is available on the Kansas Troubles Quilters blog at

Whirligig mini-toot,
Whirligig directions PDF,

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My first mini-toot video made with Adobe Spark

Modern, improv "Cross" block mini-toot by Linda Theil, created with Adobe Spark

The Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild recently announced that the entire guild is invited to make blocks for a quilt that will be awarded to a guild volunteer this year. They chose the "Cross" block because it is fast, easy, and beautiful; but also because it is a great example of a modern, improvisational block. When I saw Kathy Schmidt's post, "Modern AND improv -- Great!" on the GAAQG blog, wanted to try it right away. So I looked up all the links Kathy provided in her post -- there are a lot of tutorials out there about how to make this block. 

I thought wouldn't it be cool to to have one of those cute, short, video tutorials on how to make this block -- so I thought I'd try the Adobe Spark video option using photos I took while putting together my red and gold sample block. 

I could save and download the video I made, and could even get code to embed the video in this post. You can play the video from the screen above or play it on the Spark site at "Modern, improv, "cross" block mini-toot".