Wednesday, November 9, 2022


I think it was when I made the Postcard from Sweden makeup pouch for my niece that I realized I needed to make a quilt for her niece and nephew (my great-niece and great-nephew!). Both quilts percolated throughout this year.

The wind was a factor today, but I think the billowing effect is a-okay with this airy quilt! Keen eyes will notice Xena sunbathing on the deck behind the quilt.

This was my RSC 2022 project. It came to be when I was asked to take part in Kelly's (My Quilt Infatuation) September blog hop for her new book Scrappy Improv Quilting. I chose to make 'Up, Up and Away', her hot air ballon mini quilt. I made 'Balloon Ride', and mused in the post about making a rainbow of them. Well, I did just that! It was SUCH fun. Somewhere along the way of making these blocks, I knew this quilt would go to M, my great-nephew.

I decided to make it my goal to finish the quilt during the second quarter of Leanne's #wipsbgone2022 challenge. I'd just made a multi-coloured balloon, so did some math and graph paper figuring to come up with a layout that had a bit of movement to it, but not too much. The blocks are 12" x 18" so I didn't want to lengthen the quilt more than it already was with three blocks per row.

I had less than a yard of background fabric left, so not much. It was a bit of a puzzle to work out how to piece it with the staggered balloon blocks. I did it in uneven columns. I did make the horizontal rectangles 2" finished, so I could cut the strips 2.5" and make better use of any leftovers. I've started thinking about optimizing my leftovers so they don't just accumulate endlessly. (They still do despite my best intentions, and despite all these scraps and stash quilts.)

Cutting and piecing went quickly and I had a top, nicely held here by my husband. Here's to all our husbands who patiently hold up quilts! Leanne commented on Instagram that this makes her think of a hot air balloon festival, and that is just the look I was going for.

I opened the 'backings yardage vault' and my eye immediately fell upon a bright backing cotton fabric of which I had used a small chunk...on the back of some other quilt that I cannot recall at present. Would there be enough? There was! I'd written yardage on a small (too small, note to self) label. It was 54" wide so I didn't even have to piece it!

Went to the fabric labels drawer, selected a cute one, as this is going to a little boy, sewed it on, loaded that backing after I trimmed it straight of course, and? Batting. Hmmm. I pulled out a couple of possibilities of which I had enough (love that I do what Yvonne had talked about earlier this week or late last week: write on a post-it or label of some kind the dimensions of leftover batting before storing it, so it's easy to find one that will work). I had a cotton/wool blend and a 100% polyester.

I went with the polyester mainly because this is for a little boy, so it will be washed a lot, I suspect, and it can take the 5 or so minutes of low temperature dryer better than the wool blend, and it's lighter weight (mailing purposes). I usually put my quilts into a low temperature dryer for 5 - 6 minutes, and then lie them flat to finish air drying. If my niece is anything like my daughter, Brianne, she'll put the quilt in longer...

I wanted a fast all-over design, so I figured I'd do a large meander in the background, and something else in the balloons. Maybe lines? Vertical? Horizontal? Ooh, back a forth kind of ripples effect? Yep!

I don't believe I have changed thread this many times in a quilt, ever. But it was worth it.

I was using Connecting Threads Essential thread for the background, so elected to continue with it for the hot air balloons. Weird, that I do not have any turquoise shades whatsoever (enter Aurifil). nor do I have a good rainbow variegated (sub 30 wt Sulky Blendables). Avril sewed like the champ she is. Each balloon got outlined, and then back and forth lines. I stitched in the ditch for the 'stripes' on each balloon, but didn't do anything else since that's only 1" wide.

The baskets got SITD and then an 'x' through them.

Why is my satin label on the front of the quilt, you are thinking, right? Well! First of all, let me show you the entire back. It's wild. Perfect for a little boy, I think.

After I took it off Avril and laid it down to admire, it was my bedtime. I told myself I'd trim it in the morning, and started to mull a bit on binding: a rainbow one, for sure, maybe there'd be enough of the backing to make a binding... Sometime between laying it down on the floor and getting up the next morning, I decided to self-bind the quilt, placemat style. Brilliant! Am I glad I recognized I was tired and left the quilt to be trimmed until the following morning! This is the first time I've done this on a quilt of this size. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've done it on a quilt at all.

Carefully, carefully, I trimmed away the excess batting, and trimmed the backing to 3/4" all the way around. It took oh a half hour of googling, searching through my blog, and my bookmarks, and in the end while I was doing all that, my brain pulled up the correct method.... to mitre corners using the backing as binding. I've taken pictures, and will write a post for the future me 😇 and anyone else who may be interested. When you bind a quilt or a placemat this way, you can't sew your label into the binding edge on the back, because there is no binding edge!
Love the skater chick in the blue balloon!

It worked out really well. I sewed it down with orange Exquisite polyester.

Rufus had to get in one shot since Xena did. He's looking for something in the chives pot!

In case you missed it on Instagram, here's the multi-coloured balloon.

There's a wonderful story to the frog fabric you see. Don't mind my cell phone shadow; the sun was just perfect for showing the true vibrant colours of this quilt, but shadows...
Anyhow. Frog.

Years ago in my Stack 'n Whack hey day (yup, like 20 years ago), I made my brother-in-law (MacGyver's brother, also the great-grandpa to M) and sister-in-law a wallhanging using that frog fabric. Their last name is French, so it was a bit of a joke between us, but really cool fabric regardless. I was rifling through my box of multi-coloured scraps to make this balloon, when I spied this chunk. Well, I nearly fell over. I had no idea I still had any of that fabric left, and the fact that the frog was whole, and this quilt was going to their great-grandchild--! Choirs were singing. Isn't that just so cool?

The quilt just got pulled out of the dryer and is finishing lying flat to air dry. I'll be packaging it up to send off to Alberta along with 'Be A Unicorn' which will go to M's baby sister, 'A'. That is another quilt that was made knowing that it would find the right owner, and well, it has. I think 'Soar' and 'Be A Unicorn' are great positive messages and names of quilts for these two little ones!

From last year. This will go in the package to A. It's of a similar size to M's. 

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: balloon block from Scrappy Improv Quilting by Kelly Young; my quilt design
Size: 48.5" x 60.5"
Fabric: stash and scraps
Backing: 100% cotton from stash
Batting: Fairfield 100% polyester
Quilted: on Avril: 57 565 stitches
Threads: pieced with various; quilted with Essential Threads 100% cotton, Aurifil and Sulky

Make Modern (affiliate link) issue #49 is published today! It's such a great magazine: ten patterns, articles (I'm looking forward to seeing what is written about temperature quilts), and a contest in each issue.

Oh, that cover quilt!

Linking up


  1. I love everything about Soar, the movement you created by the staggered rows. What a perfect backing! I have never self bound a quilt. The frog stars aligned perfectly for you to have found a piece of the frog fabric. Well done my friend!!

  2. The balloons are so colorful! Congrats on a fun and bright finish.

  3. This really came together beautifully - it makes me think of the hot air balloon festival in New Mexico! Great idea on the binding, and how cool that you came across that frog fabric! I love it when that happens!

  4. I do love the balloons. Hot air balloons and parachutes are always a joy to watch for me.

  5. Great way to use up some of our ever gathering of scraps!

  6. Amen! Here's to our husbands who've been standing behind and holding up our quilts and paintings and projects for decades!

  7. That's such a fun quilt, Sandra! What a great idea to turn Kelly's single crumb balloon into a whole quilt. I love the backing, too - so wild and crazy! I just sent off a quilt to a great-nephew who has a new baby - she would be my great-great niece. Yikes! :)

  8. Great quilt. I love hot-air balloons.

  9. Having watched your pile of Hot Air Balloons grow this year, it's great to see the quilt done and dusted. A fabulous gift for a young fellow and nice that his sister will be gifted the arrow/unicorn quilt too. I never thought about the names of quilts sending little messages but yes, great names for these quilts!

  10. Oh, I love the serendipity of the frog fabric. It's lovely when those connections can be seen and celebrated. Sounds like there will be two very happy littles when they get your package, soon!

  11. Love it. I made a single balloon block as a wall hanging for my eldest son, and one for me, as we had a balloon ride together a few years ago, but Soar takes the block to a whole new level. And it reminds me a balloon festival which happens in Bristol, England not far from my dad. The backing is just amazing. I've never tried self binding a whole quilt; very nerve racking.

  12. I love that scrappy look.

  13. It's gorgeous..........a brilliant use of scraps & loved seeing that someone else actually doodles on graph paper too. Great backing and I did self binding on my first ever quilt 45 years ago as I didn't know any better, but have certainly learnt a lot since then. I'm sure the quilts will be loved lots. Thanks for sharing the story behind it, take care & hugs.

  14. saaaaa-WEET! love this
    I made a quilt called Soar once.... LeeAnna

  15. I am so impressed with your quilts. They are beautiful!

  16. Up, up, and away . . . my beautiful, my beautiful balloon. What a fun quilt for M, Sandra! It's kind of an I Spy version, too. I wonder how long it will take for him to spot that frog?! Maybe you could send a written note along with it, or ask your BIL to tell him the story someday. That a precious piece of history that probably won't be relayed without a good reason. Nice job! {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne

  17. Hi Sandra: I love your balloons, I have been watching the progress over the summer, and I like looking at all the different fabrics that have made each one - the multi-coloured one in the middle is wonderful - it's my favourite, and with the story about the frog, it's like the icing on the cake. The background with animal prints and fish, is just what any boy would enjoy, and it makes me think of choosing a backing fabric at my local quilt shop - I picked out a bright, 'happy' fabric, which had the main colours of the quilt in it, and the shop assistant obviously thought it was too 'loud' and she proceeded to lecture me on how I should be choosing a backing. If you like it, and it speaks to you, or for a specific recipient, I think it is just what fits the bill. The 'Be a Unicorn' quilt is so subtle and obvious at the same time, and since I collect Unicorns, I think there is going to be a happy recipient for this quilt too. I love looking at the big pictures and enjoying your fabrics and the quilting, and I think one day I might be able to quilt like that - at least I live in hope. They're both beautiful, you have done a brilliant job, and thank you for sharing. Take care, and stay warm as the temperatures start to cool (we have been spoiled lately, but I fear it won't last much longer).

  18. Sorry Sandra, I forgot to change to Google - 'we have been spoiled lately' was from me.

  19. Such fun! Added to the growing list of quilts to make! And I'm intrigued to hear more details on how you did that binding. (at) rogers (dot) com

  20. What a finish, and love that backing!

  21. This is a fabulous quilt. I love all the scrappy rainbow goodness it represents. The stipple in the background looks great with the wiggles in the balloons. That is a lot of thread changes, but we’ll worth it.

  22. I love "Soar" and the serendipitous finding of the frog fabric. Those are the times when I am glad I haven't given away all of my stash. I look forward to the tutorial on how you did the placemat binding, but I think I have an is perfect for a kids quilt.

  23. Sandra, I love the Soar quilt! I always wonder why more people don't wrap the backing around to the front as binding. I just did it. Yet, I struggled to remember how to do the mitered corners! In the end, I finally made it all work and hopefully can pull it off again. I'm glad you're going to write a tutorial, especially now, because we can use the fabric and not have to purchase additional binding fabric. (Of course, I usually have something in my stash!)

  24. Congrats on your RSC quilt finish, Sandra! It will be a wonderful gift for M (as will Be a Unicorn make a lovely gift for A.)

  25. what a fun backing for your quilt ,it makes the hot air balloons really pop

  26. Your balloon quilt is yet another beauty, Sandra. How special it will be for the grand nephew.

  27. Hi Sandra, what a great finish! I love the story of the frog :-) Take care.