SHINE: The Circles Quilt with QuiltMania • Final Group

My original Shine quilt had sixteen blocks, done in multi-color fabrics, a bright and sunny quilt. I built them one-by-one, drawing them on paper at first, and had them free here on my website. When QuiltMania and I agreed to collaborate (complete details in this post), I pulled them from the website, with the caveat that I wouldn’t release them until March 2021. But today, I have for you again, a new free EPP pattern, as well as news of an updated pattern.

First, the final three blocks from the collaboration, first in the original, and then in the red, white and blue. (I like the changes all except one: it’s a real oddball in RWB. I’ll bet you’ll spot it right away.)

Shine Block #10, original
Shine Block #10 in Red, White and Blue
Shine Block #11, original
Shine Block #12, original
Shine Block #10, in Red, White and Blue

I’m sure you spotted it: that Dresden, Number 10. I’ve got to re-do all the white blades, but at the time I didn’t have any extra fabric from the original Minick and Simpson line I’d chosen to work with. Since then, I’ve added a few more pieces from various lines, and I can now re-do that block.

Shine Block #17

And this time around, I just wasn’t feeling the love for Circle #10, so that’s why I made Circle #17, which is a bonus block for the newly reworked Finishing Pattern. An overview of the complete set of new blocks can be found on the Shine page, here.

Here’s the front of the newly re-done other Shine pattern, the one that had the last four blocks from the original Shine quilt (13-16). The four on the top are those original Shine Blocks. I did sell the original version in my pattern shop on PayHip, but then I got to re-doing everything, and adding more, so now instead of just four in that pattern, there are nine blocks. It’s my understanding that if you have already purchased just the four blocks pattern, that you can go in a re-download the nine blocks version. But if you haven’t purchased it, you can now get nine instead of four EPP blocks to make.

To get you launched on this journey, and until the first twelve are released back to me, AND for a limited time only, this is my holiday gift to you: Block 19 as a free download. Please don’t share this with anyone, but instead send them here to get their own block. If this whets your appetite, head over to grab the others. Click to download the PDF file:

It’s really critical that you print it out at 100% (some printers like to fight you on this). Here are some photos of how I put it together.

All the pieces laid out. If you are just starting on this EPP journey, there are a lot of tips and hints given in all the original block pages, and just quickly reading through them you’ll see I always keep a line drawing of the block along with a color representation with all my prepared pieces.

I use the quick trick found in the General Instructions in the Nine More Blocks Pattern, and seam some of the two-part pieces on the sewing machine. Then I lay out the pattern piece and randomly cut around it, trying to maintain a fat quarter-inch seam allowance. The blue dots on the pattern remind you which way to place this (dots are nearer the center), as it is slightly asymmetrical.

Because those narrow tips will be sewn into a tight space, I really trim down the seam allowances at the tip.

I swab on a line of glue with a 1/4-inch glue stick, as I like working with the pen shape (you can see it resting on the first photo in this series), but a regular school glue stick works just fine, too. Just don’t glob on too much glue. After laying down the glue, I carefully fold it over, as my pieces are printed out on 24-lb. paper (a little heavier than regular printer paper), not cardstock (although I suppose you could use cardstock, if you want to).

First iteration. I don’t like the look of the bigger blades — too wimpy.

I like the darker fabrics used in the big blades, but now the slices of circle in the center get lost.

Okay, now we’re rolling. I occasionally do have to swap out some pieces, but not often (it’s a little harder to gauge color and value when only working in red, white and blue).

I sewed the circle slices onto the bottom of the shorter blades, then sewed each of those to a companion blue-bladed pair.

I then started sewing the inner wedges together. This is my typical night-time EPP photo, as I like to hand-stitch while watching TV at night. I used the shortcut trick also on those smaller two-toned blue triangle pieces. Then, keeping track of which side goes where, I am now sewing on the side pieces in light red/white.

With the two side pieces on, I check to see if there is a gap. This one’s perfect with the edges lining up, but the next example will show you where I’ve been getting a gap:

But I just sewed that little seam together anyway. A sixteenth of an inch gap will flex just fine once you get those papers out. But leave them in at this point!

I fold the wedge unit with right sides together, and whipstitch that 1/2-inch seam closed.

I like to keep laying it out to check how I’m doing. I’m doing fine, so I keep going.

Time to sew the wedge units in-between a red point of the star and a blue point. Start at the top of the point, lining up the units, RST, and sew down into the valley. Take an extra stitch, re-fold and re-line up the pieces, and sew back out of the V-shaped valley.

Two done.

I sewed them together. What color of thread do I use? On this seam, I sewed from the blue side, with the white/red side behind it, meaning, when I hold the two pieces together, the blue is nearest me. And then, because of the way I stitch, I used white thread. What kind of thread do I use? A fine one, either cotton or polyester, whatever will get the job done. Don’t use cheap thread, either, as it will twist and knot and drive you crazy. I always use my friend Rachel’s soft beeswax thread conditioner, as it helps the thread behave (and your hands will thank you as they become nice and soft!).

All four done. Now to sew those together, then sew their wedges in between.

All done! I love a good from-the-back EPP picture. I will now remove the innermost papers, but keep anything on the outer ring, as I need them for the next step. Sometimes I will press the block before removing the papers, if I remember.

I carefully pin it to the background, then sew with an invisible appliqué stitch. I have tips and trick for dealing with the seam allowances in the earlier pattern posts, but basically I fold them carefully to the inside, then keep stitching. There are more photos, earlier, if you need them.

Now I will for sure press the block, but only on a padded surface (my ironing board is really well padded), letting the seam allowances sink into the padding. I use Flatter as a pressing aide as it is starch-free, and I use a bit of steam to help settle down all the pieces into each other. If you have a wild and wooly seam allowances from one of your blocks, it’s okay to trim them now, but only a bit. If you trim too closely, you’ll compromise the strength of your block.

In the original illustration, the colors bring a dimension that I can’t get with the red, white and blue: the wedge points sink into the background and the bigger points come forward. Have fun choosing colors for yours and making one of my Shine blocks!

Pomegranates • Giveaway

Where does inspiration begin?

Does it start here? How about both places? Today is a pattern announcement, a quilt top done announcement and the best part: a giveaway!

My friend, Kenna Ogg of Madison Cottage Design, is launching her line of batiks from Banyan Batiks (made by Northcott) and asked me to help her share the pictures and flavors of her line of fabrics. And at the end of the post, be sure to enter to win a fat quarter stack of these beautiful fabrics, rich in the tones of fall and winter.

So when she sent them to me to dream up a quilt, I kept thinking about my friend Karen’s pomegranate tree, and how she was always so generous with the fruit:

Pomegranates come on in the fall and into winter, so the two ideas merged into one.

(Posed under a citrus bush)

I arranged the fabrics, trying to get a feel for the richness of the color, then one night drew up the quilt idea in my Affinity software, and a quilt pattern was on its way!

I drew up a pomegranate shape, adding the bit at the top (the calyx), then traced it onto fusing material, cutting out the center of the circle so the quilt wouldn’t be too stiff. I then cut around the outside and fused it down to a four-patch.

All are on! Now the borders.

It’s a fun way to show off the luscious tones of this line of batiks. I had a hard time photographing them in the night when I was working, so here’s a photo from Kenna:

This is what she’ll send the winner of the giveaway: Twenty Fat Quarters. Yes, you can make the Pomegranates quilt from that. But now you can also score a discount on the pattern, as I’m launching it at the same time. Head over to my pattern shop on PayHip, navigate to the pattern and for a 30% discount on this pattern enter the following code at checkout:

PomegranatesOPQuilt30

There are three places you can enter the giveaway:

The giveaway is now closed.
Congratulations to Esther, who wrote:
“Love the fabric and the pattern! Pomegranates and the pomegranate tree are beautiful. The tree and fruit provide habitat for birds. Maybe this will be the year I plant a tree or two, there are a number of varieties, some with pink arils and lighter rind that I think would make a nice combo with the standards. I think there are many references in the bible and poetry as to their beauty and symbolism, though right now I can’t pull one out of my memory. As far as harvesting the arils, I just “go for it” since I’m only cleaning one at a time. If I was ambitious, I’d make pomegranate jelly. I like to use the arils in a salad of winter greens, with slices of bosc pear and fuyu persimmon and a vinagrette.”

Here, on this blog (I’ll pick a winner on Thursday evening, and email the winner). OR, on my Instagram account. OR on Kenna’s Instagram account. And of course, you’ve figured out by now that if you enter all three places, that’s three times the chances. I will mail your name and address to Kenna and she’ll send them out. Good luck.

Leave me a comment below, telling me what you think is the easiest method to get the arils (the seeds) out of the pomemgranate: get on an old shirt and head out to the picnic table and just go for it, or submerge the fruit in a water bath, letting the arils sink to the bottom while the pith floats to the top. And of course, since I love your stories, any pomegranate story or memory you want to leave me will make me smile.

A red-stained juicy pomegranate smile!

Weary | Hopeful

Blog-writing for other organizations can sometimes make me weary. I’ve been the blog-writer for a local guild here, and the other day — Blog Writing Day, as I like to call it, when everything stops and I won’t do one more thing before writing out the news and stuff for the organizaion — I sat at the computer, my mind blank. I wrote the usual paragraphs, then wondered if I should delete some of it, as I am turning everything over to a new person in a month, and would she want to have to write this in her tenure? It all became very complicated, trying to write what’s in someone else’s head, in someone else’s world.

When I write for this blog, on the other hand, I try to find some space and some quiet — a recent challenge during covid-time and we’re all shut in our houses together.

The conditions of these two aforementioned things may explain why you haven’t see a post from me in some time. But here goes.

Part of the title of this post, weary, might describe us all at this time. We’ve been covid-ing since March (wearying), made it mostly through an election (wearying), our energy levels are low, and now we are all putting up our Christmas lights early, trying to bring in some light into this weary world of ours. Ours went up last Saturday, and since we celebrated Thanksgiving early — a social distanced, outside on our patio, meal with local family this past Sunday — all our Christmas decor is creeping in to the house, well before the end of Thanksgiving Day.

It feels right. We need something to celebrate, to rejoice in, and I am looking to the familiar warm-hearted feelings that the Christmas season can bring, and if that means early tinsel and lights and nutcrackers, bring it on. If that means putting out the Christmas quilts, and pillows and table runners, I’m in. Christmas tunes? Now on the playlist.

I was trying to think of ways to help lift the weary and wondered if you were interested in a quilty make to up the holiday cheer. If so, here are two possible ways:

This is a teeny little quilt (4″ x 6″) that can be slipped over a frame. These make cute gifts for friends, for shut-ins, for people you visit but who are still fretting about their gain of the Covid-fifteen-so-no-more-chocolates-please. Directions are found *here.*

This is my field of Christmas trees, made so long ago from *this free tutorial* and which needs to be finished. What always stops me in a project is that I get plans which then complicates everything to that something perfect in my mind, which then shifts me to never-getting-it-finished. Keep in mind that just participating in the act of creation (like our quilts and blocks –and even wooden blocks on barns), can help us feel better about life.

Example of Complicated (work in progress):

Second Iteration

Example of Uncomplicated:

Pumpkins quilt top, finished Tuesday night

Maybe December 2020 is the season for simple, for easy, for uncomplicated. Maybe it’s the time for bringing light, for sharing our lives, for writing holiday cards, letting people know we are still here. And next year, when we’re all vaccinated (my Christmas 2021 wish) and we’re out and about and full of vim and vigor and excitement, and even in spite of all the recovery work that will be around us, we’ll not be weary.

We’ll be hopeful.

from here

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Shining my way through this season

This is my reaction to the election fol-de-rol. Actually it’s my granddaughter Maddy’s, when she was just born (she’s soon to be 12 this year!). I’m totally patriotic (witness all my RWB blocks) and love the election itself–going to vote, feeling a unity among all Americans as we do our civic duty. It’s just the other stuff — the having to board up windows, the chants (count the vote! stop the count!), the lies, the attempts to cast doubt on the election, the lack of patience for the vote-counting — that gives me a chance to imitate Miss Maddy on a regular basis. By the time you read this, it may well be all over. Or not. Onward.

QuiltMania and I have been collaborating on releasing the Shine blocks, all newly refurbished. They usually do them on the first Friday of the month, which is upon us, so I try to time it and have a post. There’s a tab, above, for Shine, but to get the free patterns, you’ll need to subscribe to their newsletter. I have been remaking them in Red, White and Blue (told you I was patriotic!) to give them a fresh look.

Op #3, made by Susan Hilsenbeck

But before we get to that, I wanted to show you Susan Hilsenbeck‘s block. She chose a Shine block for her SAQA Auction Quilt for 2020, and titled Op#3. I love how she chose the colors, the fabrics, and that quilting is a WOW. Really fun. Her artist’s statement is below:

Now, onto the new blocks!

Shine Block #7, RWB
Original Shine #7 block

This one’s a little different looking than the original. I flipped it to swirl a different direction, and instead of making the points separate, I kept them attached to the swirl, so they were both all from the same fabric.

Original SHINE #8
Shine #8, Red, White and Blue

This RWB version challenged me, as there are many places to use color and it’s a bit challenging to use just three colors. I have since found more lines of fabrics that will work with my original set, so I have more choices now.

Original SHINE #9 block
SHINE, Block 9 in Red, White and Blue

I think I like the RWB version better than the original. Okay, here are the original nine blocks:

Original SHINE blocks, 1 through 9
RWB SHINE blocks, 1 through 9

So, if you’ve been following along, and are getting the QuiltMania newsletters, you’ll have Blocks 1-6. The next three should drop tomorrow. Here’s a link to where you can sign up for the newsletters in order to get your SHINE blocks. If you don’t have Blocks 1-6, I’ve been assured that if you write to them, they will send you the links for them.

I’ve written two other individual block patterns, one of which has been added as a bonus block to the Finishing Instructions (which includes that sashing you see peeking out of the middle block, above). The other is being field tested right now by my friend, Linda, who is making her Shine blocks into a Christmas quilt.

I’ve got a couple more in the works, to be added to the Final Four blocks pattern that is up on PayHip.

But first, I’m going to be a guest tonight at Acacia Quilt Guild in Buena Park, California. Our workshop is Triad Harmony, which will be held on Saturday, live-online style. The organizer asked me to pass on to any of you that there are some openings left, if you’re not busy Saturday and want to jump in. Just leave me a note on this post, and we’ll get you set up. So far, I don’t have this on my teaching schedule in the future, so it may be the last time I teach it for a while.

More pumpkins. Well, I actually have thirteen, but who’s counting now?

They are. I’m happy to wait.

Sweet November 2020 • This and That

Okay, I love giveaways but I hate choosing the winner. So many of you had the best Christmas wishes, from fabrics to new sewing rooms, to visiting your left kidney (thank you Allison in Alabama), to the all-time favorite: visiting with family and friends with Covid no where to be seen. But I decided to play it straight, enlisting Google’s random number generator:

I don’t want to argue with you whether or not I should have put a one there. I always feel sorry for whoever is #1, because Random Number Generators never choose them (and I’m always that person, just so you know).

I won’t bore you with how I figured out who should win between the IG and the blog commenters (some of you figured out you could do it in both places–good for you), but there is a paper with calculations for proof: the winner is Susan, of Patchwork N Play in Australia. Congratulations!

Thank you to all who wrote and who made my day with your comments. I would have to say my Christmas wish would be seeing family again, so many of you really touched my heart. My husband wanted me to choose Allison of Alabama, but because it was too hard to choose, I had to do the number generator.

Please don’t hesitate to get yourself the book on pre-sale, if you really want one. You will use it a ton. I remember being somewhere when Barbara Brackman was speaking, some years after the publication of the book I have. She said she’d give up an awful lot to have a case of those early books in her closet, but they went out of print really quickly and if you wanted one, you could get it on Amazon:

Only 80 bucks for a used one, and over $200 for a new one.

In other news, I finished my bee block for Lisa, and sent that off. And before I turned my sewing room upside down and dumped it into boxes, I also made November’s block for Allison:

I love the first one of November’s with the use of ombré fabrics, which — as you know — has been on my mind lately. I usually link you over to our #gridsterbee home on Instagram at this point, but apparently they’ve removed all “recent” tags from Instagram because of the election in two days. I don’t understand how the bots thought that quilt blocks from one to four years ago were “recent” but I do hope they come back. We have lots of good blocks we’ve made! Chalk it up to another 2020 weirdness.

I started the Pumpkin-a-Day Challenge with Carol G, and so far have been able to make one per day. Sometimes I was finishing it late at night while I watched Judy Woodruff on the PBS Newshour, a comforting end to our anxious news days. Carol has done machine appliqué but on that first one I was too tired to figure it out, so have been doing hand stitching.

I’m using the older Voysey line from Moda fabrics, a line that uses designs from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collections. You can still find some of on ETSY, if you are looking.

I’d been saving it to use for this project, and when Carol saw my photo of the packed bathroom (we put a lot of sewing room stuff in there), she circled my pattern in red so I could find it again. It’s by Laundry Basket Quilts, if you want to jump in.

This Apple Galette was our Halloween treat.

Since I’m finally unpacked and most of the house is put away after our home renovation project, I am feeling like myself again. We still need to find shelves to put in that closet, or build some, but for now, they’ll rest there, and not in our bathtub.

Thank you again for all your entries. I want to have you all to lunch when we get back to normal. Please say you’ll come!

Happy Quilting!

Giveaway! Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns

The new edition of this classic — which every quilter should have on their desk — is a quilter’s dream come true.  It has clean illustrations of the blocks, as well as a depiction of the same blocks in full color.  I reach for my original version almost daily as I try to puzzle out a block, or dream up new combinations in making my quilts.  While I didn’t think Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns could be improved, I was wrong. This new version will make it easier to find interesting blocks to make, to research the history of our work, as well as to link us to our rich heritage of quilting. 

That blurb at the top is what I wrote for Electric Quilt, the publishers, when they contacted me earlier this fall. As long-time readers know, I’m an enthusiatic user of this book (my edition was published in 1993). When I need an idea for a baby quilt, I turn to the Nine-Patch section. When I am creating quilts for my classes, I peruse the more complicated sections, as well as the traditional Four-Patch. She has Wheels! She has Fans! She has uneven Nine-Patches! And the best part is that now it comes in color, AND in black and white, as you can see by the sample illustrations. That way the coloring can be suggested, or you can go hog-wild, coloring up your own blocks.

But the absolute best part (if there can be only one best part) is that now we can connect our blocks to those of those early quilters. We can identify them, linking all of us together with those women who drew their blocks out on paper, working their quilting in among their gardening, their laundry, the raising of their families, their teaching, their mending. Now you can use Barbara Brackman’s careful research to make your quilts, coupled with the updated and colorful version of this book. I am so excited!!

Here’s my True Story: while the bulk of my blocks in SHINE: The Circles Quilt come from a church in Slovenia, when I was just getting started on this idea, I turned to my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and found Feathered Star, block #3389. I made it, and when I visited that church, I was able to show the guard in the kiosk a photo of this block — “my art” is what I said — and he gave me permission to take more photos of the glorious art in that Serbian Orthodox Church. That quilt, which is still cooking along, had its genesis from this book, a block from around 1933, according to Brackman’s notes on its provenance. And one of you can win this book. Keep reading.

  • Electric Quilt, the publisher, is currently offering 30% off the book if customers “pre-order” it on their website by November 24 . I’m just telling you this, so that in case you are not the lucky winner, you can still have the opportunity to take advantage of the 30% pre-order discount. Details here:  https://electricquilt.com/pre-order-and-save/
  • EQ expects to start shipping the book December 1, 2020. Perfect for holiday giving. (And yes, I plan to have a Christmas holiday this year, and although more kilos may join the Covid kilos, it will still be worth it.)
  • If you want any other information about the book, they have general info at their website, such as FAQs, a blog post, and reviews (maybe you’ll see mine there?) Click to head there: https://electricquilt.com/online-shop/encyclopedia-of-pieced-quilt-patterns/

Here’s the official details:

  • Enter to win a copy here, or pre-order the book through November 24th at ElectricQuilt.com.
  • Giveaway winner will receive one copy of the book shipped in December, 2020.
  • The Electric Quilt Company will ship to U.S. addresses for free, others will have the option to pay for shipping costs, so yes, international readers you can enter (but you’ll just have to pay for shipping–they will contact you).
  • The book will be shipped directly from Electric Quilt. I’ll forward them your info after contacting the winner by email.
  • You can also enter on my Instagram Account @occasionalpiecequilt It’s a slightly different set of guidelines; pay attention, so you’ll be in the running.

Okay, gushing over! Get ready, get set, go! I’ll choose the winner on All Saints Day (November 1st) because I know you’ll be too busy on Halloween to pay attention.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED!

Leave me a comment below telling me what you want for Christmas. Get creative, get close to the heart, get wild, or shoot for the stars.