Hold Tight Quilt in Adventure Coordinates

While Jordan and I took a six week trip down to Key West, Florida this winter, we managed to dodge 24″ worth of  snow back in Baltimore. I also finished a UFO quilt and sewed an entirely new one. Turns out I can finish quilts when I’m not distracted by garment sewing (I don’t like sewing garments away from my sewing room).

The Hold Tight Quilt is a whimsical balloon theme quilt from Sharon Holland Designs. It’s a gift for good friends who got married in 2019 and had a sweet baby boy in 2020. They declined wedding gifts and never registered for baby gifts. So I wanted to make them something they’d enjoy for years and was more than “stuff”.  I’ve now gifted two baby quilts and I’ve tried to make them larger than crib, so the family or baby could keep using later in life.

I love this one so much, that I want to make one for us. You know. For all those picnics we go on 😂 (Me, refusing to have quilts with nowhere to be in my house).

Adventure Coordinates

The fabric is the Adventure Coordinates Fat Quarter Bundle from Robert Kaufman that coordinates with Elizabeth Hartman’s “Adventure” fabric line.  Elizabeth Hartman is the designer of the last quilt I sewed, the Fancy Fox II.

My friend Mary chose my fabric for me since I’m not an active quilter and selecting like this is just too much choice for me. I didn’t have any issues with the curvy bits, it’s really just like setting in a dozen sleeves. Nor more than three pins per curve — if I bothered using pins at all.

This was also my first time using acrylic quilt templates that the same Mary made for me. They definitely sped up the the cutting process and I was far more accurate that I was making the Single Girl Quilt (my first curvy quilt ten years and counting ago).

I also learned with the Fancy Fox II quilt that I really really dislike the quilting, but love piecing. So I sent this off to Michelle at Quilts Made With Love in Kentucky for finishing. She did… y’all. It’s amazing. Someone on Instagram tipped me off to her after I posted I was hoarding quilt tops while looking for an African-American long arm quilter. I started following her work and was head over heels. I’m so happy to elevate and patronize minority owned businesses. Her work is beautiful, she is an excellent communicator and got the two quilts I sent back to me super fast.

We chose this sleek cloud motif to continue the sense of movement of the balloons.

I got what I consider to be a rude comment about my quilt on Instagram that I’d like to talk about here. Not for you all to tell me this person is a jerk, or tell me to let it roll off my back — trust me, I am over it now. But I do want to talk about how words hurt and how our helpful critiques and suggestions can stop people from sharing.

If you look closely at my seams, most of them are not all perfectly matched. I chose not to square up my blocks when sewing because I didn’t want to. I was out of town, I didn’t have clear templates to make sure each block was accurate and I just wanted to get this six months too late quilt sewn and off to the long arm quilter. So yes. I am aware my seams aren’t perfect.

I posted a FINISHED quilt top on my Instagram stories and got a DM where the seam below was circled in red and a message attached said, “Isn’t this going to bother you?”

The brown seams should match at the top and bottom

I’ve been sewing for 30 years. I usually know when something is right or wrong. Nothing I sew is perfect, which is one reason I don’t sew for money. I am not a quilt instructor, I am not entering this in the county fair. I’m making a quilt for a friend to give as a gift. This comment wasn’t meant to help me. It was meant to shame me. All that comment did was get me to spend a week feeling bad that maybe strangers on the internet thought I thought it was perfect, when I know full well it already wasn’t. Maybe the person I was sewing this for would notice and discard the quilt as Happy Hands At Home or think if I cared more, I would have done a better job. Totally silly, right? But that’s what this comment did.

I think I’m generally open to helpful comments and tips. But this was just mean. So, I say this… often you’ll tell me I’m being hard on myself when I start a post telling you everything that is wrong with my project. I am in fact protecting myself from everyone who wants to tell me first.

I’m probably speaking to the choir here, but might I suggest we criticize people the old fashioned way? Take a screenshot, talk behind my back, and tell a friend. Don’t tell the maker.

I did get the cutest photo of the baby and mom with the Hold Tight Quilt. I feel awkward posting photos of kids on the internet, and felt even odder asking if it was okay. So if you see me, ask and I’ll happily share 😄.

** Seriously, you don’t have to tell me that person is a jerk. I know it.



  1. That someone can’t see the beauty of the whole, but is determined to find some fault, says volumes about them, doesn’t it? Never mind the unsolicited critique, or the gossiping behind someone’s back. How about the self-appointed critic figuring out why the impulse to pick, pick, pick is so strong?

    • YES, WHY? I am truly very proud of this? It’s beautiful and I love the contrast of the linen against the plain white cotton. There’s seriously no need to tell me my seams don’t match up. It told me everything about them.

      • You have every reason to be proud! I didn’t notice anything “misaligned” until you pointed it out. But then, I wouldn’t, as I’m not a quilter. And even if I was, well, so what? I was so inspired and touched by the fact that you took the time to craft this ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL quilt for your friends’ child. And what a wonderful job the longarmer did!

        God Bless You, Renee. What a good friend you are. What a good heart you have. 🙂

      • As you should be proud. The quilt is gorgeous and clearly an act of love for the recipient. Congratulations on a job well done.

  2. A finished and well used quilt is better than a perfect but unfinished one.
    I think it’s beyond fabulous and it will be loved to pieces.

  3. Baby quilts are the sweetest gifts of love. It’s a beautiful quilt. I switched to another long arm quilter when the first one was extremely negative about the “imperfections” of my work: that’s I found Rebecca Stall who does great work and understands why I quilt. Checked the person you use: wow, phenomenal work!

    • Beautiful quilt! And I am very impressed and inspired by your example: You realized you enjoyed the piecing and not the quilting, so you focused on the part that gave you fulfillment, and found someone to help with the part you don’t enjoy (the quilting)! Such a healthy approach – and one that provides joy not frustration. Thank you!

  4. Beautiful quilt! I’m sure it will get a lot of use!
    “ … criticize people the old fashioned way? Take a screenshot, talk behind me back, and tell a friend. Don’t tell the maker.”
    I bit my lip to keep from laughing because the granddaughters are over and I didn’t want to explain what was so funny.

  5. What a fascinating quilt; I love the over lapping balloons and the colors. Interesting to think that curved seams are just like doing a sleeve – never thought of it that way, and I have no trouble setting sleeves but have been afraid to try curved seams in quilts. Now I’m going to try it so thanks for the inspiration.

    I too found your “criticize the old fashioned way..” comment hysterical, although I agree it would be more developmental for the critic is he/she examined their need to denigrate. People are interesting.


    • People are fascinating. The older I get, the more I ponder what makes people tick. Like you, I just love how the balloons overlap to form new colors. It’s such a neat design.

  6. I think you need a quilt to hang from your upstairs right where Jordan is holding this one. I have a quilt behind my couch as art. It would look amazing up there. And you are right- she is a very talented machine quilter.

    • Yes! I have some ideas now about decorating with quilts. We have a lot of wall space and def cannot afford the kind of art work needed to fill. I’m making a quilt for our sofa and some quilted pillows this summer. I *think* I can get away with a king size quilt for one wall and a wide and long one for where Jordan is. I’ve even waited switching out our very dated hall lights until I get my art as quilt life together 😄

  7. Love this quilt! I am exclusively a garment sewer, but this makes me want to try a quilt! I love the pattern – I generally find quilts a bit “busy” for me.

  8. It’s so modern and elegant! I really like quilts (though I live in Canada where duvets are necessary most of the time) but I’m just not motivated to make them. Here you’ve sewn something gorgeous – and practical! and an heirloom. Well done. PS: Genius idea to outsource the long arm part. You get to enjoy what you enjoy, your quilt ends up completed in record time (and ready to love or to gift) and you can move on to the next lovely thing. Also, you’ve supported a sewing professional whose values align with yours! Win win. PS: Hilarious comment about gossiping to a friend (go old school!)

  9. Renee,

    This is such a great quilt! I love it! I’m glad you had fun making it and got to see it used and appreciated.

    Connie – Boise, ID

  10. Who looks that closely at a quilt on IG? So weird. It’s a charming and beautiful quilt. And a great baby gift.

  11. It’s a lovely quilt! Personally, I’m very particular about my seams when I sew garments but I don’t like quilt seams to meet up too perfectly.
    Your works always look great and if someone notices something not perfect, they’re too close!
    Perfection is overrated.

  12. I am totes with you — and great idea on the sewing quilts when not at home — I am the SAME!! Yes, and my quilt seams are not perfect — now I’m obsessed with trying to get the perfect fit on a garment but quilting . . ehhh I will get there. . . . eventually.

  13. It is all about the gift of love and that really is all that matters. Your quilt is beautiful and joyful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  14. I love this quilt!! So beautiful—I can see the balloons floating off. To me, there is no greater compliment than having something I’ve made and given show signs of wear! As for criticism, that’s mean and hurtful for no good purpose. Remind you to tell me about someone who examined my work with a magnifying glass!

  15. My quilty friends and I, way back when, used to call them “the white glove mafia”.

    • Hahahahaa! I have a friend who quilts who told me she stopped going to guild meetings for comments like this. Gatekeeping stinks.

  16. Wow, this is an amazing quilt! It’s beautiful, and I’m sure it will be treasured!

    As for shaming people on the internet — all I can say is that person must really talk mean to herself (I’m going to assume it was a her) and she is the one who has to live with that in her head all the time.

    You and I and probably everyone who reads your blog knows what it is to take an idea, to make it real, and to give it away to someone, spreading joy and love into the universe. The process isn’t free, but it’s truly rewarding. Thank you for sharing.

  17. I understand you want to make the quilt again for yourself. It feels so light and airy. It makes me happy to look at it and feel my thoughts floating up in the air with the balloons. Wonderful!!!

    • Thank you, Julia! I love the cloud pantograph used. It all has so much movement. I’m generally an admirer of quilts but not much of a maker. I feel as close to being an artist now as I’ll ever be!

  18. Wow! What a beautiful quilt!!! Love the colors and the sections where the colors blend. And agree with Cecil’s comment about sleeves and curves in quilts, had a light bulb moment with your comment.

    I have to add something about the mean spirited comment – I could actually “hear” those words and yikes! Seriously – we have just made it through a year of terrible stuff, well actually lots didn’t make it through – and this is what someone has to say??? If you can’t just celebrate beauty and share joy at this point, please just be quiet.

    As always thank you for sharing your joy and beauty!!!!

    • “we have just made it through a year of terrible stuff, well actually lots didn’t make it through” Ain’t that the truth? The couple I gave the quilt to were the last people we saw the weekend everything shut down. She hadn’t had the baby yet or even announced she was pregnant. It’s so crazy. It feels in ways we’ve lost a whole year, but obviously many things continued to happen. I’m with you. I’m all about finding something joyful these days. We need it.

      • Yeah, my mom passed away last month – she had dementia (lived independently right by us). I was her caregiver and got her through through covid but she passed after a fall. So, yeah, seams not matching? Something made and given with love? Not even a choice. Seriously. Who has the energy for unkindness now???????5

        I have several stunning antique quilts and guess what, I’d never even noticed how some points/seams don’t match as I’m always overwhelmed by their beauty.

        Glad you have people here to remind you there is a bigger picture. May Love and beauty always triumph!

        • Thanks, Karen! My father is talking about moving up to Maryland and I’m trying to find him a house nearby so I can keep an eye on him. I’m sorry about your mom. It’s always hard losing a parent. Covid has been devastating.

  19. I can see why you’d want to keep that quilt for itself; it’s got great energy. I usually make garments but occasionally quilt, and I assure you while my mariner’s stars do not match up to perfection, no-one who has ever visited my home has ever commented on it. If they did, that would be their last visit! Revel in your new-found skill, and I’m sure the recipients of your beautiful quilt will cherish it.

    • “If they did, that would be their last visit.” Can you imagine?? 😄. I’m starting a quilt as a throw for my sofa this year. I’m really excited! I like quilts generally, but never know what to do with them. And interior designer friend chose the next quilt’s colors and it is going to be gorgeous, I think.

  20. I don’t remember your inviting the quilt police to your blog. What is wrong with people?? I love that quilt and the actual quilting is gorgeous! I’m sorry that person’s ugly comment had to creep into your brain.

    • I sure didn’t! The only thing I think I position myself as is a garment sewing instructor. Anyone can come for me since it’s something I’m paid for. I think gifts are off-limits and as this is like my fourth quilt, leave it alone my dude. I really would like it for our home in these kind of grown-up colors or slightly expanded for beach use perhaps.

  21. Very rude and mean comment indeed It is absolutely beautiful! I love the solid quilts too, but have yet to try one (or any quilt). Knowing myself it will take a few decades before and when I do, I’m already quite slow with sewing bras and they’re tiny when compared to quilts! Let alone making all the choices with colours etc… Great idea to have a friend pick those!

  22. I’m so into this! The simple fabrics and stylized design are right up my alley!

    My mom is is longarm quilter and one of the things she always tells her clients is that “done is better than perfect.”

    I actually like the feeling of the ridge where two seams don’t quite meet up. That little bit of unexpectedness is sometimes my favorite part of something (kind of like a tile in my bathroom floor that is just an ooch off & I enjoy looking for it. Wow, did I just make things weird here or what?).

  23. I am absolutely HOWLING that someone took the time to zoom in on every single seam of that quilt and then make *sure* that you know that they know that flaw is there. Like… what did they expect you to say? “Oh goodness me, I NEVER noticed that one misaligned seam THE ENTIRE TIME I WAS PIECING THE QUILT, you’re right, I can’t live with that… let me just disassemble this whole ass quilt to fix it~” I mean. WTF.

    Also, as a sewing professional – nothing is perfect. Nothing! You should see the way we cut things in the shop with wild abandon, no measurements, nothing super fussy. Because it isn’t necessary to be fussy! The way some aspects of the (hobby) sewing community love to wring their hands and clutch their pearls over minor mishaps is such a hilarious stark comparison to how things are actually done in the (real) sewing world.

    I would love to know how you responded to that comment. I would have sent them a photo of my bare butt, and then blocked them once I knew it was seen. But. That’s me, and I can get real petty real fast LOL.

    • Lauren’s out here dropping knowledge and telling secrets! I responded with something like, “Not enough to fix it.” I mean… I was done! I think the hobby sewing community wring our hands because we think it has to be perfect? And it really, really doesn’t. I’ve seen that desire for perfection leave people immobilized. And I love your petty! Never change.

  24. Once again the internet is both curse and blessing — GREAT, we can communicate meaningfully with people everywhere, and HORRIBLE, it’s too easy to send a mean, anonymous message with just a click. Just remember that person is operating with a hole in her heart, so much insecurity that it was necessary to reach out and thump you to make herself feel better. Don’t ever let someone like that deflate your balloon!

  25. what a great quilt, and yes, you need a quilt in that spot, great decorating idea and very personal. your take on the criticizer is perfect. Yep, old school, share with a friend if you feel the need. But teaching these last 2 years has taught me to focus on incremental learning and improvement, not the small mistakes. As a friend of my mom’s told me when I sewed something for her and pointed out a tiny flaw, “who sees the spots on a galloping horse?” which is advice I’ve taken to heart for all my garment sewing.

  26. I love the balloon quilt, it looks so simple and plain but the feeling is light airy and colorful. I have a friend Patricia Williams who is a fabric artist, you might get some ideas by looking at her wall hangings and quilts. Her
    blog is http://trishwilliamshandworks.blogspot.com/

    Regarding the “critic” she must have carefully zoomed over every inch of it to find a tiny flaw, cause I didn’t see it in the overall picture. That’s the way my mind works when I examine what I make myself. I only see the flaws and it spoils my feeling of accomplishment.

  27. That quilt would also look good with a navy or black background and jewel toned balloons.

  28. I love the challenge of a sewing quilt patterns with circular seams. I hadn’t seen this design before. It is really cool. You did a great job! You definitely need to make one for picnics

  29. My first reactions to this quilt were “ohmygoodness, that is so beautiful, look at that color work, look at those amazing curves, look at that fantastic work!” I love it so much I now want to make one for myself too!

  30. “I can’t make it perfect, because it would offend the Deity.” It’s beautiful, by the way.

  31. I think your quilt is fantastic! I have several quilts that my grandmother made. None of them are perfect but each one is a cherished reminder of her hands and her love of sewing that she passed on to me. Thanks also for the recommendation of the long-arm quilter! My mother went to Berea College in the 50s so your post has given me all the good memories for my grandmother and my mother!

    • I’m hearing Berea is a really cool town to visit! I’ve started looking for places in the US we can take a vacation to this year that is also within driving distance. I love this about your grandmother! I wish I had something like that from mine or my mother. Thanks for making sure I leave something for my nieces.

  32. My box full of fabric scraps is hoping I will find this inspiring.

    But my closet full of homemade, old-school quilts is looking at your troll and thinking, “Really? Want to see some un-matched corners? How ’bout looking at quilts before paper piecing was a thing?” They’re muttering to themselves, it might be dangerous – some of them are older than both of us put together. 😉

    • Is it paper pecing? Is that what did us in for this level of perfection? I honestly might care more for a quilt show. But, for home-sewn and giftable, it’s just not something to stress about, right?

      • I think it is. I’ve seen old-school wedding ring quilts and they’re not screamingly perfect. But now they are. Paper piecing and cutting with rollers makes perfection much easier – certainly much easier than scrap quilts, cut every which way with a pair of scissors from a basic pattern! Quilts are for loving. They are for snuggling under when you are sick or it’s raining out side and remembering that someone loves you. They’re not about perfect unless you’re in a quilt show for professionals, they’re … like chicken soup and cocoa and a dog-eared book that you’ve loved since you were a child.

  33. Having seen this quilt’s progress on Instagram, it’s lovely to see all the detail photos here. Now I’m even more impressed by the colour choices, especially where the balloons overlap. The quilting finishes it off to perfection.

    As for “the comment”, I can’t even. All those beautifully sewn curves, and all they can see is one tiny mismatch. Really?!

  34. I don’t really share my makes in the internet, but I always have to restrain myself from telling people who compliment me on my clothes what is wrong with them! For me, I am being hard on myself. But I can see how, when you’re sharing, you’re doing it to preempt those kind of comments. Sad that you have to but I totally get why you do it.

    Of course I was too busy admiring your (beautiful) quilt to notice any imperfections. It really is fabulous, I hope your friends appreciate it.

    Also, on the subject of talking about people behind their back, I was talking with some friends about another friend. One of them said, “I hope you don’t talk about ME when I’m not here!” I was like, “I hope you do talk about me! I’d be gutted if I thought I was so dull that you don’t notice I wasn’t here and didn’t have anything to say about me” 🤣 I guess we’re all different!

  35. Oh my goodness, this quilt is wonderful!! You did a marvelous job on it, how lucky your friends are to receive such a thoughtful gift that they will cherish for a very long time. I’m saving the info on your Berea long-armer . . . looks like she does great work. I’m a fan of Elizabeth Hartman’s quilts, too . . . such clever designs.

  36. I cannot believe the nerve of this person to critique you on anything that you have made! What a huge a*&! You have created so many gorgeous and beautiful garments for your self and your hubby. Anyhow, the quilts that you have made are stunning and your friends are going to love this beauty to pieces. I agree with LLadybird’s sentiments- my version is –the boob can kiss my bonny a*&!

  37. Love, love, love your quilt! As a quilter and former garment sewist, I actually found quilting to be the more challenging project when I started. I am in awe of your tackling curved blocks, even though I had also set in a lot of sleeves. Great job!

  38. Hi Renee! This quilt is absolutely stunning! I love so many of your projects on here. Would you have any interest in submitting designs to an upcoming magazine? I’d love to share more details with you! Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any interest. Thanks so much!

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