quilts r us

One of the hobbies I indulged in before I had to return to work full-time was quilting. It was something I swore I would never do.  I don’t recall exactly why, but there it was. So I took up cross-stitch and embroidery. And when I take up something, I go all out. I am self-taught when it comes to crafts, and I prefer to read and research and put the things I’ve learned into practice. So far this approach has worked well for me.

My husband once said, when I asked him if I could take x-stitch lessons that a shop was giving, “You don’t need lessons. You do okay from just your reading.” For me, that was a vote of confidence to proceed on my own. Baking or cooking – I just pick up a cookbook. I’ve churned out rellenong bangus, leche flan, and brazo de mercedes on my own, dishing them all up without once having seen them being prepared by someone else. The caveat here is that you must have an excellent cookbook or else it won’t help.

Back to quilting. So. After having done x-stitch and gone to roughly intermediate levels (stitching on linen; adding my own flourishes like metallic thread, even if not called for in the pattern; getting adept at resizing calculations), I entered the ”been there, done that” mode and looked for a new challenge.

When I started quilting in the late 1990s, there were still a lot of quilting (and x-stitch) magazines available at Booksale. Sadly, that’s not the case now. I’m glad now that I was able to collect many helpful and informative materials ten years ago – Traditional Quiltworks, Miniature Quilts, and Quilting Today (all published by Christine Meunier of Chitra Publications, now defunct); American Patchwork and Quilting (by Better Homes and Gardens, for the longest time edited by Heidi Kaisand); and the revered and venerable Quilter’s Newsletter (started by Bonnie Leman in the ’70s but later sold out to Primedia; it was influential in the revival of quilting as a popular hobby).

But I digress. Let’s get back to quilts. In the late ’90s, home Internet in the Philippines was in its infancy, and it was a tremendous boon in getting me in touch with quilters from around the world. I was introduced to swapping – of fabric fat quarters and charms, of patterns and magazines, of blocks and entire tops and quilts. Thanks to the generosity of quilters around the world, especially from the USA, I amassed quite a respectable stash of FQs, siggies, charms, and blocks.

Let me introduce you to some of my quilts. Though I “rested” from quilting since I went back to working full-time in 2002, prior to that I made many quilts, quite a few of which I have given away. One was stolen. Others must have been lost in the moves we made. Some are still left, though. My children know this is their inheritance (along with what’s left of my stash, and my books).

These are just some of them. There are more quilts in my linen closet. Not to mention the UFOs (unfinished objects) languishing in my stash.

Wall quilts are among the very first kind of quilts I made. When you are a beginner, often it’s best to start small so you don’t get overwhelmed, and you are motivated to finish quickly. You can be done in almost no time at all, and the gratification you’ll feel will make you more eager to start again and take on bigger challenges as you learn new techniques and hone the fundamentals. Wall-quilts are, as the name suggest, usually hung or displayed on walls or other flat vertical surface; a “hanging sleeve” through which a dowel or curtain rod may be inserted is often attached to the top edge.


I made this wallquilt in the late ’90s, as a beginner, to celebrate Philippine Independence Day (June 12). Notice that not all the seams line up properly! The fabrics are all local, so there isn’t much of a scrappy variation. This was before I was able to augment my stash via swaps and purchases at Divisoria. The stars and sun were hand-appliqued with yellow thread in a blanket stitch. The light-colored background squares are from an old sheet that I cut down to size as it was too large for our bed. True scrappy “make-do” spirit there!


The blocks from this quilt (“Words of Wisdom”) came from an Internet block swap that my quilter friend Lani Cabalza (also from the Phlippines) both joined. The blocks have quotes and signatures of the makers. I machine-pieced the blocks together, and hand-quilted.


Corner detail on “Words of Wisdom” quilt showing signed blocks and hand-quilting, which is uneven, I know, I know…I was a beginner and this was a way to practice. I think I got around 8 stitches to the inch here.


The label for this quilt came from a printed panel. I inked in the details using a Pigma Micron .05. It is important to put labels on quilts (usually attached to the lower-right hand corner of the back) to preserve information on the maker, date it was made, name of the quilt, and other particulars.


I received the quilt top (from “nono nanette” of the USA) in a Christmas swap, and had it hand-quilted by my househelp at that time, Mina Capote. She did much better work that I did, achieving, 10 stitches to the inch and very even.


Another top that I got in a swap, this time with Lani. I don’t remember what I made for her. I think she requested something in her favorite colors and design. I asked her for hearts in pink, and she did a lovely job! I did hand-quilting on this one. By this time, my stitches were much improved.


Detail of hand-quilting – white thread on the heart-flower blocks, red on the setting squares and triangles.


Yet another wall-quilt obtained from a swap – “Fourth of July”, from Felicia Ryan. She’s a very good quilter who’s had her work published in quilting magazines. She sent this all quilted and everything.


Label made and signed by Felicia attached to the back of the “Fourth of July” quilt. Note beautiful machine-quilting detail in red thread.

The very first quilt I made was a hideous red and yellow “lap quilt” for my daughter Alex who was around six or seven at the time. (This was ten years ago!) A lap quilt is something big enough for one person to use, while “bed quilts” are made to cover beds – twin, queen, or king.

After reading about the Olympic Quilts made by Georgia quilters for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which were given away to each participating country, I decided on a personal standard of 54″ x “70 for my lap quilts, the size of the Olympic giveway quilts.  I set these “bottle” or “jar” blocks I had gotten from yet another international swap into a lap quilt.


The Bottle or Jar design was very popular at the time it came out – late ’90s? – and practically everyone was making it. You put “stuff” in the jar – aliens, frogs, whatever – and there were a lot of fabrics printed just for Jar quilts. Another variation was the “Button” quilt – basically a Jar made with plain fabric with buttons of all kinds sewn onto the top by hand, “filling” the Jar. For this quilt, I made a conventional setting with black sashing to separate the Jars, and brown sashing to simulate “shelves”. I was so happy to get this “wood” fabric!


Label for the Jar lap quilt. I stitched together everyone’s siggies (signature squares) in the order that their blocks appear on the front of the quilt. I used a particularly shocking yellow print for the back.


Detail of Jar blocks “filled” with marbles, frogs, and shoes.

I made many queen-size bed quilts and some twin-size, most of them with blocks from swaps. I later started “downsizing” to lap quilts. They are my favorite size now – larger than wall quilts to be more functional (in bed, on the sofa as a throw, to take along on trips, etc), but smaller than bed quilts so they don’t take too long to finish.

If you would like me to make you a quilt from your own fabrics (old clothes, ties, etc) or with fabric from my own stash, just drop me an email. :)

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4 Comments on quilts r us

  1. movinghands
    11 July 2008 at 2:29 am (4292 days ago)

    Thanks for sharing these photos of your quilts! I really like the flag one.

  2. Bianx ;)
    28 July 2008 at 5:39 pm (4274 days ago)

    Hello, I hope that this note finds you well!

    I googled Philippine quilts this afternoon and was directed to your blog :) I have an American boss who collects Amish and Mennonite (?) quilts, and will be retiring within the year. I wanted to give him a Pinoy quilt for his collection so I hope that you could get in touch with me…and help me out? :I

  3. Alotte Merana
    24 October 2009 at 2:45 pm (3822 days ago)

    Hi Ms. Jenny,

    I was searching for a quilting clubs or quilting stores in google when I caught your name and curiosly open it. I was amazed by your stories and inspired by it to continue my interest in quilting.

    I am a registered nurse but since I had my first child last 2004, I have stopped working. Another year later I had again another child which is my youngest. Both boys and super likot and kulit. I decided to take care of them myself instead of hiring a yaya. My youngest son Rys has seizure attacks twice when he was 2 years old so as painful as it was, I closed the chapter of my working career to take care of my son. Luckily the seizure were controlled now but you cannot immagine how hyperactive he is. Anyway, I would like my time to be productive while taking care of my kids. I also cross stitch but when I read an article and saw pictures of different quilts, I fell in love with this craft.

    Alam mo mam, tulad mo din ako, bago ko nakita ang website mo ay nagreresearch na ako sa ebooks regarding quilting 101 and sa you tube for video tutorial. Meron naman akong nakita pero para sa akin parang kulang pa rin. I have learned cross stitching during high school days and I preferred one on one lectures kasi para mas maintindihan ko, slow siguro kasi ako.

    Mam, gusto ko lang po kasi malaman yung step by step quilting simulan natin sa pinaka basic na paggawa ng throw pillow. Madami kasing terminologies na hindi ko maintindihan at hindi ko alam kung paano sisimulan. Saan ba nakakabili ng rotary cutters, mats, fabrics, threads and even yung quilting machine. Magkano po ba ang quilting sewing machine. Ano po bang fabrics ang bibilhin ko at saan. Basta po ba tela yun na yun? Yun po bang sinulid na ginagamit sa quilting yun din po ba ang ginagamit sa pagtatahi ng mga damit? Madami po talaga akong querry at wala ako mapagtanungan kasi wala po akong kilala na nagkiquilt. Kung pwede po kasi na gagawa din lang ako ay gusto ko nasa right track naman ako.

    Mam I know your super busy pero sana mabasa mo po ang email ko para bigyan mo po ako ng tips. Hindi po ako magpapagawa sa inyo ng quilt pero magpapaturo po sana ako.

    Thank you for your time. Hope to hear from you soon!

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