It’s no secret that once people find out you can quilt, suddenly everyone is your BFF! APQS Dealer Julia Graves of Special Occasion Quilts in Leesburg, VA, learned that a large family tree can also lead to more quilts than you imagined, even without your friends knocking on your door.
When she first started quilting, she decided to make a twin-sized quilt for each of her nieces and nephews. That noble gesture by a sweet aunt soon took on a life of its own when Julia realized she had a total of 35 to make. Her next thought after doing the first few? She needed a longarm!
Julia bought her APQS Millie to help speed up the quilting. Once she had the right tool for the job, Julia tackled the rest of the quilts over a period of three years and she’s never looked back.
All that practice making twin-size quilts for her relatives has paid off in more ways than one. She used her expertise to create “Triple Stars,” a donation quilt she designed for an organization called “Joshua’s Hands.” The nonprofit organization makes quilts for Valiant Warriors (American Soldiers wounded in combat.) Julia has graciously shared her pattern with us!
Unlike other organizations that have looser quilt size restrictions, Joshua’s Hands quilts are purposefully long and narrow to fit hospital beds and stretchers. This quilt would also make an excellent quilt for a college-bound student … those XL twin mattresses in dorms are often hard to fit.
The red, white and blue fabric gets a fun “pop” thanks to the yellow-gold fabric Julia incorporated in her quilt. It gives the illusion that the center star is glowing—what better way to help a soldier heal than to wrap him or her in sunshine?
Julia’s pattern gives yardage amounts if you’re shopping for a specific color combination. But the quilt is also spectacular with scraps from many different shades of one color family. See how the different blue squares in her quilt have an electric feel, and give the star both depth and character?
Since the star is the focal point of the quilt, Julia wanted to keep the quilting design simple and unobtrusive. She used freehand quilting shapes to accentuate the star points. A clever wandering line technique in the center of the smaller stars fills the larger center square while also giving a continuous quilting path to the corners and flying geese sections.
Gentle waves highlight the larger center star, along with accent quilting that further highlights the dramatic star points.
Julia opened her quilt studio in 2007, and now quilts for others, makes commission quilts, and teaches longarm classes as well as general quilting classes. She is also a certified Gem Affiliate with MJ Kinman.
Julia’s biggest accomplishment to date is serving as an Artist in Residence at Empty Spools Seminar in Pacific Grove, CA in 2019—she’ll return to Empty Spools in 2021 as an instructor, teaching a class on Amazing Abstracts quilts.