Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Quilting TATW

Trip Around the World quilts are simply grids - like those we can mark for fancy quilting. At two-inches, they are just a bit larger than usual. So I decided to quilt orange peel on this one. I don't have to mark, it's a change from the diagonal grid I often use, and I want to see what it looks like at this scale.

Gentle curves with walking foot create Orange Peel design

I used the regular straight stitch with a walking foot and turned on the half-speed button. I'm a pedal-to-the-metal kinda gal. Actually I turned it on by accident and found it really helped the curves. Starting at a four-corner intersection, I angled the foot left while counting to two slowly, then center for another two, then right for two back to the next intersection. {That's lots more than two stitches. It just helped me keep a symmetrical arc.)

Once the serpentines were completed in one direction, I rotated the quilt ninety degrees and sewed the same curves on the other side of the blocks.

Quilting curves on all sides to finish the squares

They are not perfect but they are improving. Another nice surprise is how quickly this top becomes a quilt. Since I mostly make large quilts, it's a pleasant change to imagine a finish in the next few days.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bunches of Backs and Some Improv

Doubling Down on Backs

All summer long {Beach Boys version here} I've been giddily making quilt tops with no thought to the rest of the work involved. Now reality sets in. Seven quilts in the queue and five were sewn this summer.  Fortunately I picked up several quilt batts on sale.

The next step is to make some backs. The easiest way is to lay the top on the floor and cover it with fabric. Here's a glimpse of the newest five.

Quilt backs ready to pin baste

I have very low standards for backs. As long as the fabric is good quality and the combination doesn't make me sick, it's a go. Older fabrics preferred since this is a great way to use 'em up and move 'em out. {Rawhide!}

Not the most exciting part, but an important step in the process. Now to pin, quilt and bind them.

Improv Pillow-to-be

I've been admiring Chris English on Instagram. Like Kaja he works with vintage shirts but makes pillows instead of quilts. My small group is sold on experimenting with improvisation and, although we probably don't have his exact process, we sure are having fun.

These are three shirts DH "retired", cut into strips: a faded denim-colored corduroy, a plaid, and a solid white. They are all 100% cotton but the white is also no-iron. They mean it. It hardly holds pressing at all. Hopefully, quilting will take care of that.

Clockwise from the lower left: cut shirts into strips, sewed strips into sets, cut and sewed strips together. Stopping now until our next work day.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Piecing Sentences

Still working on the Phillies quilt but I have progressed to the back where I'm adding pieced words. And it's so much fun. Why did I hesitate so long before trying it?

After piecing his name one letter at a time, I totaled each remaining letter and sewed batches. It worked well until the m's. There are two, right next to each other. For some reason I pieced them exactly the same. It looks a little dorky. Oh, well. Dorky is good.

Of course, adding these sentences to the back is a major point but, as importantly, the back needs to be filled. So why cut fabric from the sentence below when I'll just sew more back onto it? Instead, I simply straightened the seam line between the two words and squared up the perimeter.

I thought this would be enough but it still needs something else. One more sentence or phrase.

The "For who?" quotes Aaron Rowand who played fearlessly for the Phillies until signing with the Giants in 2008 and helping them win the 2010 World Series. {Yes. I searched until I found a great quote that has a link to the Giants. Even if they are in the cellar this year.}

Linking with Lorna at Let's Bee Social.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 9, 2017

CCII Sewn at Last

Taking a break from the outer border of Chinese Coins II: Stacked Bricks was a smart move. I needed time away from it but hadn't realized it has been over a month. I am trying to marry conflicting guidelines: 1) give quilts enough time to evolve and 2) quit tucking projects away for years.

This quilt originated with a photo of Nettie Young's Stacked Bricks. Link in this post. Interestingly, Monica at Lakeview Stitching was concurrently inspired by Nettie's quilt. Although they all different, I can see the relationship between them.

Chinese Coins II: Stacked Bricks top

Several pennants were replaced. It wasn't difficult but certainly was a pain in the neck.  As each pennant was removed, I laid it over another and then trimmed the new one to fit exactly.

Cutting new pennants to fit the old

Layering and slicing sets of strips worked very well until I moved pennants around. When I changed my mind about their order I realized I'd created a mess. The angles and curves are slightly different for each and required lots of adjustments to keep the border level. For examples of places where true freehand works well, look at Stephie's Fete and Sujata's Endless Mountains. Stephie uses freehand to make all her pennants different. Sujata actually maintained the order of cutting in her outer border. {She chose fabric order well.} For someone like me who changes her mind frequently, cutting with a ruler at a set angle would have been a more rational choice. I am going to try layering/slicing/rotating again but swear to determine all the colors before cutting anything.

By the time I reached the corners I simply needed a fail-safe method. I  squared up the corners of extra pennants, laid them on large background squares {at least two-inches larger than the finished size}, and cut both sides. {The mid-section of light fabric went straight to the scrap bag.}

Cutting corner squares

Now it needs a back, quilting, and binding.

So many people stricken with disasters. Floods in Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Fires throughout the North American West. Magnitude-8 earthquake in Mexico; aftershocks expected. Heat wave in Europe.

Let's all lend a hand. We will need one someday, too.

Linking to Linda's Sew, Stitch, Snap, Share 12.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Strippy Nine-Patch Quilt Finished

Binding this quilt has been my evening project while watching the news and/or baseball. It's very heavy. Hmm. Why would a large quilt be heavy? DH is delighted we are keeping this one. Me, too.

Strippy Nine Patch quilt

It's too large to get a photo of the whole quilt so here's a second picture with a slightly different view.

Strippy Nine Patch quilt

Designing these borders was great fun but I really love what Peg chose for quilting. The curved grid on the lights, the feathers in the red.

Border detail of Strippy Nine Patch quilt

A view of another corner that hints at the heavy matchstick quilting in the white.

Border detail of Strippy Nine Patch quilt

Peg added that same quilting in the red and pink strips The simple orange peel arcs makes a lovely contrast.
Quilting details on Nine Patches

Yet another detail shot. Love it. So glad Peg quilted it instead of me.

Quilting detail on border of Strippy Nine Patch quilt

And then I put it in the wash... And it bled. With two color catchers and Synthrapol. Actually it bled everywhere except onto the white. Go figure. Fortunately I set quilts to dry on the floor for a while after washing. The more it dried, the worse the pink looked. But at least the color hadn't set.

So back in the wash with Synthrapol and color catchers three more times until the red quit bleeding. Then repeated day-long soaks in oxygen (not chlorine) bleach to get the color transfer out. Finally back to normal. Lucky catch.

Quilt Details
Size: 84" x 100"
Design: Original
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100%cotton
Quilting: Long Arm by Peg Collins, Alamosa, CO, various designs

Peg doesn't have a website but she's on Pinterest. With her permission, her email is: collinspeg(at)hotmail(dot)com if you'd like to consult with her about your own project.

This is an older quilt so I haven't written much about it. The previous post is here.

There's still time to link to Kaleidoscope of Butterflies 20 and consider joining our Butterfly QAL. Details on the linkup.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Edit: I'm linking with Lorna at Let's Bee Social and with Amanda's Finish it up Friday.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Let's Make Butterfly Blocks: Kaleidoscope of Butterflies 20

It's time for another Kaleidoscope of Butterflies linkup. Last month I decided to make some butterfly blocks. Simple ones. I've looked at them for years and have a Pinterest board here if you'd like more information. Cathy has also made several darling variations.

At first glance, many of the simple butterfly blocks look alike but close observation reveals variations. The low angle wings on Yoko Saito's signature quilt {second photo down} create a curved effect. I'm sure these are larger blocks simply because of the room needed for those signatures. {What a beautiful quilt this would make for a reunion.} I like the four-inch size of Rita's blocks but also prefer the way the wings don't reach the corner on Mrs. Schmenkman's six-inch block. The wings on her five-inch version at the end of her tutorial are farther from the corner.  Fussy, aren't I?

Of course, what I prefer may not be your choice. Use any butterfly pattern you like or make your own as I have here. The only person you need to please is yourself.

Four-inch Butterfly blocks with straight and tapered bodies

So I drafted my own blocks. In addition to low angle wings I also wanted to consider is whether or not to taper the body. I've seen this on some dragonfly blocks but none of butterflies. My tapered body changes from one-half-inch to a quarter-inch. Here are my templates with two wing angles and changing bodies. Download and print them if you wish. Each butterfly should measure four-inches finished so check your printing before use.

You can always draft your own or use the angles on your rulers. FYI: Rita's butterfly wings have a 30-degree angle.

Straight Bodies

The straight bodies are easier because left and right sides are the same as are all four background pieces.

1. Cut body strips 1" x WOF. Subcut into 4.5" lengths.
2. Cut background pieces 2.25" x WOF.
3. Cut pairs of wing pieces 4.5" x 2.25".
4. Place wing and background fabric wrong sides together.
5. Cut out the numbered templates for the one wing and one background piece. Place them on appropriate fabric and cut two mirror-imaged wings and four backgrounds ADDING seam allowances.

Cutting fabric with paper templates

5. Place backgrounds on wings right sides together and sew with quarter-inch seams.
6. Press seam allowances towards the wings.

7. Trim each wing set to 4.5" x 2.25" centering the wings in the lengthwise direction while also making sure seams are the same distance from short edges on both sets.

8. Sew narrow side of wings to each side of a body.
9. Press seams towards body. Seam allowances meet at center of body.

Butterfly block with straight body

Tapered Bodies

Working these out took several iterations. I never could get it to finish to size with templates as such. So here's what I finally did.

1. Cut tapered center body strip from overall sketch. Use with wing and background templates from straight body butterfly.
2. Cut body fabric into strips 4.5" x WOF.
3. Place tapered body on fabric and cut, adding seam allowances. Rotate body 180 degrees to utilize fabric most efficiently.

Cutting tapered butterfly bodies

4. Cut wing fabric 5.0" by 2.5" and place wrong sides together. Notice the unit is a half-inch larger than the straight set.
5. Cut background fabric 2.5" by WOF and keep with wrong sides together.
6. Using straight wing template, center on appropriate fabric, and cut pairs with added seam allowances.
7. Using straight background template, center on appropriate fabric, and cut two pairs with added seam allowances.

Laying the templates for cutting 

8. Place backgrounds on wings right sides together and sew with quarter-inch seams.
9. Press seam allowances towards the wings.

Wing seams pressed in and spread
Looking at the photo above, it's easy to see why the templates were cut oversized. Trimming a bit off each side will square the block up in the end.

10. Trim each wing set to 5.0" x 2.5" or at least straighten the inside of the wing set. Then carefully center the wing to be trim to 4.5" but only trim the bottom end of each wing set (the part that will start at the narrow end of the butterfly body. In my photo that's about 7/8" from the inside edge of the wing. Do not trim the other side yet!

11. Starting at the narrow end of the body, align wing sets and sew. Be sure to sew from the narrow end of the body because the taper causes the wings to spread. Sewing from the wide end will make the resulting block too short! See above photos.

12. Press seams towards body. Trim to 4.5" square block. All four sides will need a slight trim, so center the ruler along the center axis of the body. For a 4.5" block, that's 2.25".

Butterfly with tapered body ready to trim

Seam allowances overlap near bottom of body.

Four butterflies with tapered bodies
The blue butterflies wings are centered better than the orange ones now that I've figured out how to trim them before sewing to the body (steps 10-11.)

This is the first group of fabrics I've pulled for these blocks. The grey is the background for the straight bodies while the green is the background for the tapered ones. On the left are wing fabrics that look good on both backgrounds. On the right, the top set will make wings for the green while the bottom set looks better on the grey.

Butterfly fabric choices

Bhavna Mehta

Have you seen Bhavna's work recently? A fine artist who works in paper and embroidery, she recently combined art and social justice in a very creative manner. Monthly this year she sells a First Gift whose proceeds are all donated to a specific non-profit. And look! Several of them include Monarch butterflies!

I'm impressed with her savvy solution to the constant requests for artists to donate work for auctions. In the US at least, the artist gets only a minimal amount of tax write-off and undersells herself on the open market but devaluing her work. Read one of many articles here. Bhavna's method allows artists to maintain a respectable price and generously fund social justice. Artists deserve financial justice.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

African Boxes and Eichler Homes

Words on Quilts

As I mentioned several times, I'm probably the last person to add words to quilts. Bad to be so far behind the curve. Good that there are so many excellent examples to spark ideas. One of my favorite quilters is Lynne at Patchery Menagerie. Her work is beautifully executed and usually humorous. For example, take her Chicken quilt. Here are the results of a Chicken search on her site. Taking the time to read through these posts will enlighten you on her process and certainly generate ideas of your own. Thanks, Lynne, for sharing so generously.

African Boxes

This quilt started from a photo sent by Sujata with a casual challenge to make a quilt from it. That was back in 2015. I had an immediate response to the structure and red color. By happenstance I was already making sets of long skinny triangles. It struck me these could easily substitute for the red boxes.

It's been finished since last year but I kept it to put in our quilt show this spring. I finally had the opportunity to personally give it to the recipient.

African Boxes, improv quilt
African Boxes

I stitched in the ditch down each side of the "strings" as well as the triangles. Then I casually echo stitched the piecing with a walking foot.

African Boxes, detail

The back is also muslin. This is one of the softest quilts ever. That muslin makes it so comfortable to snuggle in.

Detail of stitching from the back, African Boxes
Construction details.

Quilt Details

Size: 63" x 71"
Design: Original based on antique Ghanaian textile
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100%cotton
Thread: Gutterman 50/2 white cotton and YLI invisible nylon monofilament
Quilting: Walking foot 

Eichler Homes Exhibit

I saw this intimate exhibit at the Los Altos History Museum last week. Joe built open occupancy, post-war subdivisions in northern California with wide streets, parks, and community centers that are still treasured today. Open occupancy meant all races and cultures were welcome. In fact, he resigned from the National Association of Home Builders because they would not support this standard.

They are mainly one story homes with walls of windows on the back or side and frequently included an atrium. Perfect for California.

The museum had several current and vintage photos of Eichler homes...

Photo of an Eichler home in the 1960s

Photos of Eichler homes today by Marika Reed

floor plans {I always love these because they're like maps.}...

Eichler home floor plan
Eichler home floor plan

and accessories from the 50s and 60s.

Home accessories from the 1960s
Linked to Finish it up Friday.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Piecing Words

The Phillies top may be done. I'm letting it marinate while I start on the quilt back. These free-pieced words don't seem to match the cursive team name on the front. And besides it's turned out that there are many more words than will fit on the front. So I decided to fill the back with them.

Piecing letters is so much fun. Why did I wait so long to try it? Some are quite easy: r  o  f

Piecing r, o and f

Of course, there are letters that eat my lunch. Like W.

Drafted w's and one attempt to piece it
After several iterations on graph paper, I thought I had a plan - until I kept slicing the wrong section or cutting the wrong direction. I finally have enough but they are much larger than the others. Ah, well. It adds a whimsical feel. {That's my story and I'm sticking to it.}

I pieced the FO's name first. {To respect his privacy, no photos of that.} I didn't know what I was doing but it came out okay. Next was his college with graduation date {The 2 was tough.} Now I've started a couple of sayings.

Piecing words for a quilt back
What have I learned so far?
  1. It's hard to free piece and stay uniform in size. {No, they aren't supposed to be completely uniform but look at how the word Phillies grew. The s is as large as the h. Mrs. Davis, my second grade teacher, would not approve.}
  2. It's hard to be a "little bit" wonky. {It's kind of like "a little bit pregnant."}
  3. A quick graph of each letter helps keep track - of the direction and width of lines as well as width of open spaces. 
  4. Typesetters have letter blocks with identical heights for a reason. 
  5. It helps to mix making each letter the same height with sewing a couple of short letters together and then adding the height.
  6. One-inch finished width "brushstroke" is too wide for a three-inch tall letter.
  7. It's easier to  cut a larger background square and then subcut it for the letter. (See the r above.)
Fortunately, we are not in Houston this week but we are certainly keeping an eye on Hurricane Harvey. Our neighbors say they are prepared.

Linking to Sew, Stitch, Snap, Share.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

AHIQ 24: Pieced and Appliqued Words

Wasn't the solar eclipse exciting? I hope you had a good view of it, too. If not in person then at least on the news. NASA had an entire series of telescopes set up to view the live event as it crossed the US. Here's a feed from Madras, Oregon.

This is the second month of #AHIQwords invitation.  Part of improvisation is trying new techniques even if we must push ourselves. I may be the last quilter to add lettering to a quilt but it's something I always wanted to try. This is the time for me to check it off my list. The thing is: it's so much fun I can't wait to start another! Who'd a thought?

Baseball Quilt

The blocks are pieced and sewn with sashing. After realizing blue would dissolve the hat and red the shoes, I chose a white-and-blue stripe combined with red-and-white make a wide sashing. The quilt is getting livelier by the day. In baseball, the team name is on the front while the player's name and number is on the back. I could put numbers on each player or simply a "P" but haven't decided yet. {In part because FO hasn't sent me a list of his favorite players.}

Baseball players in red and white pinstripe
Phillies baseball team with sashing

Words on Quilts

This is as good a place as any to add words to a quilt. My first idea was to freely piece words around the borders until I realized the Phillies name is usually red in an upright cursive.  That's a machine applique job. After many attempts, my script finally looks similar to theirs. 

I traced Phillies onto red fabric then prepped the entire 8"x 25" rectangle using Lara's method in Crafted Applique. Years ago, Cindy England told me the best way to make sure a word is straight is to cut it out after it's laid on the background. And Audrey at Quilty Folk keeps writing that she appliques before sewing the border to the quilt. Isn't it helpful to have such smarties around? It's certainly made the job easier.

After lining the word up with the edge of the border, I pinned it, pressed it, then machined sewed along the pencilled lines. Then, taking a very deep breath, I cut about an eighth-inch away to remove the extra. 

Starting to cut away the applique

Mel at Piece, Love & Happiness loves Havel snips for this. I tried hers a few times but couldn't get enough control. Fortunately, Havel has another pair that remind me of nail scissors. The curved blades made cutting around the curves a snap; I simply turned the scissors back and forth in my hand to match the seam. Thanks, Mel!

With some relaxing music while sitting at a sturdy table with good light, I finished in about an hour. 

Continuing to cut away the applique with Havel scissors

The FO's name and graduation year need a location - border or back.

They won the World Series in 1980 and 2008. Their mascot, Phillie Phanatic, is considered the best in baseball.  Features of their ballpark include:
  • The Angle
  • Ashburn Alley
  • Liberty Bell {lights up for home runs}
  • Veterans Memorial
  • Memory Lane
  • Rooftop bleacher seats
Also under consideration are these sayings by Phillies players and announcers:
  • Moon Shot.
  • Ya gotta believe.
  • Swing and a long drive. That ball is outta here.
  • When it is time to go out on the field, we all go out through the same door.
  • For who? My teammates. For what? To win.
  • Half of this game is ninety percent mental.
  • Root, root, root for the Phillies
Looking at this increasingly long list, piecing them on the back might be the best plan. It seems very hard to keep creating this wide, even cursive. Besides, I've been itching to try free-piecing letters.

What words have you found for your project? How are you planning to add them to your quilt? Kaja and I created a new Pinterest board, Alphabet, with a variety of pieced and appliqued words and letters. It's a good starting point to spark your own ideas.

Just in case you're still working on with Chinese Coins, take a look at Patricia's quilt for Nora combining Coins with words. Wish I'd thought of that.

Eli Leon, African American Quilt Collector

A friend forwarded this article about Eli Leon. In the 1970s Eli began collecting African American quilts in Berkeley CA. After winning a Guggenheim fellowship, he travelled across the South to research and purchase more of this art. Eli 
posited, "There were African survivals and enduring African influences in African-American quilts, and that quilts made by African-Americans reflected the survival of a cultural identify under siege." He mounted several local and national exhibits from his extensive collection. Sherri Lynn Wood wrote more about him here and here.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Field of Dreams

OK, a field of someone else's dreams. It's still a blast.

After a rough start, the Phillies ballplayers are coming together nicely. A couple of adjustments made the piecing easier. I straightened the curve on the glove and sewed the belt before cutting the shirt. I also thickened the ankles of the high tops. The casually pieced stick figure style amuses me although making raglan sleeves made this block a bit more complicated. But baseball means raglans and inset seams don't bother me.

They are large blocks with oddly shaped pieces so I'm cutting and sewing one at a time. Each block takes about a day but only nine are needed.

Phillies baseball players in pinstripes
Phillies ballplayers

Five blocks finished. I'm over halfway. And I'm making right-handed players now! {It was easier on my mind to sew the lefties first then the righties.}

Philadelphia's colors are red, white, and blue. I'd like to sash with red or blue but the feet and cap may become lost. The first four fabrics came from my stash but I purchased the two on the right to finish round it out.

Tuesday is our next AHIQ linkup where we'll be sharing where we are with letters on quilts. Have you got any new ideas?

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Celebrating Baseball and Cherries


Starting the final Great Debater quilt. The future owner (FO) and I share a love of baseball although we root for separate teams. {Hmm. That's a line from I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair in South Pacific. About halfway through the song.} Instead of riding him off my range, I decided to make a baseball quilt highlighting his beloved Phillies.

After quite a few sketches of baseball diamonds and backdrops, I remembered Farmer Fill by Freddy Moran. There are several versions in her book, Collaborative Quilting. Pages 82-84. Freddy spoke at our guild meeting last year and this is the Parts Department quilt she showed with a few of those guys.

Parts Department 2 by Freddy Moran. Shown at SCVQA meeting

I asked Freddy and she enthusiastically told to me to go for it... and send her a photo when it's done. How sweet is that?

My first pattern centered the ballplayer along the vertical axis. Looks okay except the glove fits almost to his elbow. I need to redraft this; it's bothering me more and more.

Original design for baseball player

The Phillies colors are red, white, and blue. They usually play in red and white pinstripe uniforms. Lucky me. I had some in my stash - both a pinstripe and a loud red and white stripe. Loud looks better to me currently. The next job is to locate skin tones, glove tones, and green grass for them to play on. Here's what came out of my stash. My current guideline is, "No shopping until I'm absolutely sure there's nothing on hand."

Fabric pull from stash for Phillies baseball quilt

Not nearly enough greens or tans in house so I shopped QS' stash while I was there. That's my favorite first stop! After that I checked out a couple of stores in Colorado, including Alamosa Quilt Company. This small store has a broad selection of fabrics and some of the friendliest staff anywhere, including my dear friend, Peg Collins.

For a millisecond I considered using a single green for all the backgrounds. Ha! The uniforms will be consistent and that's enough. Once home, I paired skin colors with greens, trying for some contrast.

Pairing fabrics for baseball
Next I pieced my first ballplayer. I thought it would be easy to switch from lefties to righties but made several cutting errors. And I don't have extra of the pinstripe. Notice I switched from the broader red-and-white stripe to this true pinstripe shirting.

Left-handed Phillies baseball player
After all these fiascos I'm going to make a new set of templates strictly for lefties! I'm also wondering if I should make a cut-out template for the baseball glove to make fussy cutting more successful.


We're nearing the end of bing cherry season so I was determined to make at least one batch of Cherry Almond Scones. This recipe comes from Paige at For Love of the Table where I find many favorites.

My first step is to curdle some milk with lemon since I don't keep buttermilk around. Then set the eggs out until they are at room temperature while pitting and cutting the cherries.

Cutting cherries

Once the dough is prepared, I scooped sixteen small scones on parchment paper. Then they go in the freezer for a couple of hours. The final prep step is to cut the parchment and transfer the scones to freezer bags. It's easy to pull them out when needed.

Of course, I baked one for breakfast the next morning.

Cherry Almond Scone, recipe from For Love of the Table

Enjoy the day, Ann