Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Rocky Trails

Rocky trails have been a staple of my life as summers were always spent hiking in the Rocky Mountains where the land is mostly rocks.  My grandfather bought a tiny cabin in 1938, and using it as our base camp, I spent happy, sunny days playing and picnicking among the pines and wildflowers, climbing rocks and later mountain peaks.  In time this little cabin full of memories became my husband's and my retirement home.  Life cannot get fuller!

In one of the two bedrooms was an antique, iron, double bed.  It is plain, and had always been a light green.  The paint was scratched and scruffy so I decided to refinish it.  After some online research I stripped all that paint off and prepared it for its new look.  After canvassing the family as to color, we decided I would paint it red.  Three coats later it looked beautiful and I was so pleased.  We set it up in the bedroom, stacked the springs and mattress on it, added bedding, and then I realized…I don't have a bedspread or quilt that will go with my wonderful scarlet bed.  Being a quilter I knew just what to do, and here is the result:

Rocky Trails
The photo is kind of funny because my husband, although long-limbed, could not reach the corners.  The quilt is for a double bed and has enough length to wrap the pillows and hang over the sides.  It looks wonderful on the bed.  The pattern is a simple log cabin with two-inch strips as I was going for quick and easy.  Easy, yes, quick no!!  I made all my blocks and set them out on an empty double bed, which was pretending to be a design wall.  My arrangement was not satisfactory so, running back and forth around the bed, I began to rearrange and this is the result.  The color is perfect and the design turned out to mimic Indian designs; not really, but sort of, and fits with our western living style.

The quilting is obviously the work of my beginner self.  My choice of filler is not great, the lines are wiggly, and travel stitching rarely travels along the planned route.  I did break out and use red thread instead of trying to hide my stitching so it really shows my inexperience.  I broke needles and thread regularly and when I got too frustrated, I just walked away for awhile.  Sometimes that is all it takes to get back on track again.

TIP:  Use your design wall or suitable substitute to test your block arrangement.  You may want to look at it with fresh eyes over a couple of days.

TIP:  Go ahead and quilt regardless of your inexperience.  You will find that you get better with every quilt.  Check out Leah Day for filler ideas, great videos, and a post on ways to manage the learning frustrations.  Practice, practice, practice.

TIP:  Broken needles can be due to pulling the quilt a little too hard at the wrong time so the needle hits the throat plate.  Try to figure out what is putting so much strain on the needle, and move the quilt gently and smoothly.

TIP:  Broken thread can be due to poor quality thread, but usually is the fault of the needle.  I have learned that Topstitch needles are great for quilting as they have a large eye, which allows the thread to flow through.  Maybe you need a larger needle. I sometimes use a 90/14 if there are a lot of seams to go through.  Don't worry about making bigger holes in your quilt.  They will be filled with thread!


  1. Bold & Beautiful! Thanks for the FMQ tips!

  2. Love the colors that you used in your quilt!

  3. What a great quilt. I'd love to see it on your bed. Your tips are right on.

    1. Unfortunately my beautiful bed is now in storage because that room has become my sewing room. Someday it will come out again and in the meantime the quilt is in my closet waiting.

  4. I love your Rocky Trails, guess I always loved red and white quilts.