Saturday, February 7, 2009

Making a Quilt of My Parent’s House

mom and quilt2

This a photo of my Mom when she opened the quilt of my parent’s house that I made for her 80th birthday last August. It is my favorite photo of the quilt. A lot of people at the party thought that it was a painting rather than a quilt. I spent most of last summer working on this quilt. I thought that I would give you an idea of how I made this quilt.


I started out with a photo of the house. It was actually a fairly out of date photo, but it was all I had to work with when I started the project. The photo shows the house in the winter. This is how I got started.

  1. I printed out the photo of the house as large as I could make it on an 8 1/2 in by 11 in sheet of paper.
  2. I placed a sheet of transparency film over the photo and traced the image with a permanent marker. I used one of my pigma pens because it has such a thin tip. I wasn’t too careful when tracing things that were straight lines since I planned on measuring them and using my rotary cutter to cut these pieces out. That would include things that must be straight like windows, doors, etc.
  3. I then put a plain white sheet of paper behind the transparency image and scanned it into my computer so I could print it out. house sketch
  4. I took this scanned and printed image to Staples to have them make an enlargement for me. I think I had it enlarged 250%. (or maybe it was 200%). Once I had it enlarged I had a pattern to make the quilt. Unfortunately I did not save the copy made at Staples so I cannot show you that.
  5. I used a large sheet of tracing paper and put that over my Staples print and traced the 250% enlarged house with a pencil and ruler. I use tracing paper since I can use a dark marker to trace the lines of pieces I want to create using fusible web. The trouble with that is that you must reverse these when you trace the pieces onto fusible web. The tracing paper allows me to do that. I just flip the tracing paper over for my pattern pieces.

    The pattern for the house traced onto tracing paper. You can see that it has been folded up in my closet since I finished the quilt last August. The parts of the house I did not go over with a dark marker, I used my ruler and rotary cutter to create those straight pieces.patternThis is the reverse side of the tracing paper pattern that I used to create my fusible web pieces.pattern reversed
  6. I used Steam a Seam 2 Lite for the fusible since I needed the pieces to stay in place as I created the house. I am not thrilled with this fusible for any other reason. It is too heavy and it gummed up my needle when I stitched through it. But it was great for keeping all the small pieces in place.

I asked my Dad if he thought that my Mother preferred a winter or summer scene and he thought that summer would be better. I had him send me more photos of the house since all I had was a winter photo.

house 08 002

Here is a series of photos showing the progress of the quilt from beginning to end.


Here is the house at the very beginning of the process. Doesn’t look like too much at this point. I was almost ready to pack it in and buy her a gift for her birthday. I carried on due to encouragement from my daughter. The house is in Pittsburgh, PA and it hardly is ever sunny which is why the sky is so gray.

close up of trees

Here I am creating the trees behind the house. I just randomly cut pieces of about 3 or 4 different fabrics to create the leaves on the trees. My husband was really impressed with the trees because he thought they looked very realistic.moving along

We had a big debate about what color of green to use for the grass in the front lawn. I had a darker green and a lighter green. We ended up using the lighter green.

new house photo

This is the house with the darker front lawn. I was also doing a funky thing with the front walkway that I changed my mind about.

house light

This is the house with the fabric I finally used for the front lawn and the corrected front walkway.

I also had some problems coming up with a good fabric for the flowering tree on the left side of the house. The tree was white, but I had a hard time coming up with something. I had pink and I had blue, but the tree was white!

backside of blue fabric

Here is the tree as blue. This is the fabric that I wanted to use, but my Dad emphasized that the tree was white! So no creative license for the tree!

pink tree

I also tried pink-white, but again the tree is only white!

white dogwood

So I had to come up with white!

borders on

So here is the finished top with the border added. Now onto the quilting! My machine was acting up so doing much free motion quilting or thread painting was pretty much ruled out. Since I am new to free motion, I thought it was me. I ended up taking my machine in for service after this quilt. What a difference!

Here are two photos of the final quilt.


I think the quilt came out great and my Mom was really surprised. My Dad designed this house so I wanted to make sure it really looked like their house.


Yes that is a cat in the window. That cat is no longer alive, but use to make my Mom crazy because she always sat in the front window. I printed the cat and the house number on Printed Treasures.

I will be teaching a free class on making a quilt of your house on the Learning FA group in May of this year. If this is something you always wanted to do why don’t you join us there?



  1. I think your process worked very well for you Chris. I like the way you quilted it and it certainly added to the picture. I is very very good and I am sure your class will be
    most enjoyable.

    I bet your Mother was really happy, as it is something so personal and that means so much. Shirley

  2. What a beautiful and meaningful quilt! You did a great job...I can see how the people there thought it was a opinion that was the ultimate compliment!

  3. Nice work Chris. I found your link from the Alternative Quilt group. You have a good eye for this type of quilting. A person could learn a lot from reading your blog. I imagine that your Mom is so very proud of you and treasures her house quilt.

  4. Your house quilt turned out lovely. I'm sure your mom was thrilled. What a meaningful present! Thank you so much for your tutorial. It is easy to follow and well done. - Terry in Maple Ridge, B.C.

  5. This is amazing . I love the way you have talked us through the making of it.

    I bet your Mom is chuffed to bits.


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