300 Quilts · Quilt Finish

Pumpkins • Quilt Finish

Pumpkins • Quilt No. 258
47″ wide by 57″ high

My first memory of a Halloween party was the time my brothers and sisters, parents and I all lived in an old home out in Sudbury, Massachusetts. It was rented to us by Longfellow’s granddaughter, who was looking for a nice grad student and his family (my father was in the MBA program at Harvard) to rent it and take care of it, which meant mowing the acre of lawn in the summer. Out back of this old home was an attached shed with a hidden bunkbed, a giant hearth and a large wooden room. We invited our friends, Mother made us costumes, and we had all the traditional things: bobbing of apples, games and carving pumpkins. I was dressed up as a little girl from Holland, and my mother sewed my paper hat on the sewing machine. I was probably this because one of my other older sisters had been this, and I was the youngest girl, so got all the hand-me-downs. But it was a new hat.

I remember some other costumes I’ve sewed: Pirate Roberts for a young teenage son, a giant Hersey Kiss for the daughter, and somewhere along the long linking of Halloween traditions, I’ve sewn (or been): Pippi Longstocking, a Roma (we called them gypsies then), a vampire complete with fake fang teeth and fake blood, Peter Pan, Elsa (from Frozen), a teen from the 1950s (poodle skirt, included), babies, baseball players and an Egyptian princess.

But now, I sew quilts. While this one is well into the 250s on my index — as I don’t count the quilts until they are quilted (with some rare exceptions) — but it’s only about the fourth or fifth Halloween/fall/autumn quilt I’ve made. I did a #pumpkinquilt search the other night on Instagram and this pattern, from Laundry Basket Quilts, was rarely seen, as the chunkier, pieced pumpkins seem to be more the rage.

We looked for pumpkin patches to photograph this in, but they are miles away. So this yellow patch of wisteria leaves is the best I can do from my backyard, the first few leaves scattered on our back patio.

The back is from my stash. The label tells the origin.

I didn’t carve this, but am doing a giant project of moving old stuff from my computer, trying to clean up excess files, and found this cool fella’. I don’t really carve pumpkins anymore, and while I do have up my Halloween quilt banner, this year has been more subdued than in recent years. I usually try to escape handing out candy by going somewhere, but this year my husband bought some, wanting to participate in the tradition. Our neighborhood used to have close to 300 trick-or-treaters, but last year we could only rustle up about thirty. Obviously we are not the only ones getting older around here.

I still love Halloween, the idea that we mark the passing of autumn and acknowledge the advent of winter. It’s a holiday of treats and hopefully few tricks, and lots and lots of pumpkins.

Happy Quilting!

Previous Posts about this quilt:
How it started
Top Finished

PatternLite · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Pillows

Mister Pumpkin

Sometimes I really don’t like our season-less world. I walked through Target last week, looking for some orange Halloween lights. Okay, I know some of you are laughing hysterically out there. Halloween Lights? They were gone by the 4th of July! Swimsuits come in February, and it used to be a rule not to put out Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Used to be.

And this year, with the Great Supply Chain Disruption working its pandemic magic (would we expect any less?), good luck. The lady at Target told me they “weren’t getting much Christmas” so if I saw “something you like, buy it.” The section was pretty empty, as they were doing the switchover from witches to elves.

One of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, I now call the Invisible Holiday: so desperately needed, yet nearly imperceptible. But if you aren’t yet hanging the Christmas garlands and putting up the Santas, here’s one more little fun thing for you to stitch up in an afternoon: Mister Pumpkin.

It all started because my monthly Riley Blake pillow arrived and I was just sort of meh about the design of it. I’d done some shapes for my daughter’s Fall Tag Tip Sheet, and made the pumpkin, and remembered the photo on the lower left, a detail of a quilt I’d seen at a quilt show. I had purchased the little ornament on our trip to Utah last month. I loved them all and combined them to make my 20″ pillow. Which I have now made up into a PatternLite Pattern, but because it’s like…the middle of the month…I’m giving you a coupon to get it for a deal of 25% off:

Since PatternLite patterns only cost a tiny amount, you are getting a Mister Pumpkin Pattern Lite for less than a large Coke and fries at McDonald’s. Or a slice of pizza at the mall. And WAY less than a bag of Halloween candy. Coupon good until (when else?)…Halloween night.

He’s now resting comfortably on our bed, and I may keep him there for the first part of November, too. So have fun–enjoy your grinning 20″ Mister Pumpkin pillow before you have to nestle it under the Christmas tree. And he doesn’t get made this year, well, there’s always next year! (That old baseball phrase is meant for consolation for the Giants, who lost their pennant race to the LA Dodgers; if you are a sports watcher, you know about this.)

Happy Quilting!

Sewing · Something to Think About

Little Bits

#1

“Human beings are creatures made for joy. Against all evidence, we tell ourselves that grief and loneliness and despair are tragedies, unwelcome variations from the pleasure and calm and safety that in the right way of the world would form the firm ground of our being. In the fairy tale we tell ourselves, darkness holds nothing resembling a gift.
“What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth, and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place.”
by Margaret Renkl, from her book, Late Migrations

#2

I have spent the better part of the last two weeks working with my daughter on her Fall 2021 Lookbook on packaging for mac makers, published Tuesday. She purchased Affinity Publisher and took a stab at working in it, her first time using some sort of design software. (Good for her.) We used all her photos of all her macs (she had over 400, but we winnowed it down to about 70); however, I was quite entranced with Page 19 of her book: it was about little bits, and how these ends of ribbon bolts or tiny clips, or shaped pieces of paper could embellish a package.

#3

The artists above (L) Alayne Spafford and (R) Anna Mac are making art with a gallery of tiny things.

All my life I’ve been enamored of little things. As a child, I once shaved the wood off the tips of 7 colored pencils with my father’s discarded razor blade, broke off the tips, and made a teeny set of colored pencils, complete with their own paper case (also handmade). I have collections of tiny things, in jars, in boxes, in drawers. Obviously I was drawn to the sewing world, with all of its collections of tiny bits (thimbles, needles, wee scissors and of course, scraps).

So when our Inland Modern Quilt Guild decided to host Berene Campbell, showing her idea of a Mini-mod Block Swap (they are all 1 1/2″ finished), I was all in. Earlier this year, I helped make advertisements for the guild’s blog, and I put together all those shapes using Affinity Designer. (Again, I mention this software so you know you can buy an excellent digital design software for about $55. That’s $55 once, not a monthly fee.)

She uses this concept–of going around and talking to Guilds as a charity fundraiser, but the guilds will sort out how to set up the swap, and she gives good support. Her series of YouTube videos help anyone make tiny bits of a block.

Three of my four batches of bitty blocks (2″ unfinished) have arrived.

All arrayed in rows.

I made a bunch to send out but I got confused and made too many. They joined what I had received.

An afternoon of playing with solid scraps yielded this bundle of wee blocks.

The challenge from our Guild is to make something for our December meeting from all our blocks. I have an idea, but it’s a bit of one, so I’m holding onto it and letting it grow. I did pretty well in the last challenge, winning the vote at the Guild Meeting. That made me more than a bit happy. Thank you, Guild Members.

#4

I read many bits of happiness when I read all your comments on your Happy Days. From start to finish, they were all wonderful, inspiring. I loved how often they included family and friends, fall traditions, and near misses with disaster. My husband and I read them together, commenting on how often you epitomized the Renkle quote from above, finding how “darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight” and I love that you shared them with me, with others.

I did choose a recipient (Pat A.), and have sent her a note to arrange the mailing of the jelly roll. Thank you again to Sherri McConnell for donating this so I could host the giveaway.

But most of all, thank you for sharing your Little Bits (and some Big Bits) of Happy Days. It was a treasure.

Fall leaves, Alexandria, Virginia: I lived there for a year and ended up scanning so many leaves on my flatbed scanner, as I loved them all and wanted to capture them forever!

Giveaway · Travels

Happy Days and Giveaway

If I unrolled a jelly roll and placed the strips end to end, would I make it from my house to my friend Sherri’s house? Um, nope. There’s more to this story, but first, some tourist photos:

A tiny cave on the left, and some petroglyphs on the right. The Valley of Fire State Park is not a huge place, but we arrived about an hour before sundown, and enjoyed all the glowing red rocks. Visiting here led to Sherri’s house, which led to her handing me a jelly roll of her newest line so I could do a giveaway of this bright and cheery line of fabric. See? I connected all the dots! And now some more tourist photos:

Okay, we ate right through the peaches we bought at a fruit stand in Santa Clara (recommended by Sherri’s husband), and then bought more of them when we were in Northern Utah. Happily the border checkpoint didn’t take them away when we came home with them. And now…more tourist photos:

We live in area that doesn’t get fall color. Around January some leaves on the liquid amber trees might change colors but the rest of the trees stay green, or might turn brown and drop their leaves. So if we want to see color, we have to go north, and we hit it just right this year. Above is the view from the Mt. Nebo Loop, Utah.

Apparently heading down into Payson, the cows are all over grazing, but there were only about three cars we saw the whole time. It was lovely. The last photo, of the yellow aspens and the green pines is from Millcreek Canyon, near Salt Lake City, where we stayed (visiting relatives).

We had such “happy days” driving through such beautiful country, and above are the fabrics in her line (photos courtesy of Sherri, from her terrific blog A Quilting Life). We also had happy days in being able to meet my daughter and her family at Orson Gygi, a giant cookware place:

On the left is Barbara‘s article about color in Orson Gygi’s fall publication, and on the right is the cookie cutter wall. We also saw my son and his family, all of us enjoying dinner together that night. All the wee grand-toddlers of long ago are grown into teenagers!

Sherri is also a fabulous designer, and all of the above quilts were designed for this fabric line; patterns available at Fat Quarter Shop, or on Sherri’s ETSY Shop (all photos used with permission).

.

UPDATE: Giveaway is closed. Thank you to all who entered!

So, to enter the giveaway for a jelly roll of Happy Days from Sherri and Chelsi, please leave a comment telling me of a recent happy day. Or days! Giveaway is limited to those who live in the USA, but please do leave a comment even if you are far away. We love to hear about happy days.

And now I leave you with one last photo, a typical Utah flower of a hollyhock. They were everywhere when I was a child living there. I found these right downtown one evening so had to take a photo: such old and dusty and cherished memories.

Thank you very much, Sherri. Please leave a comment to enter to win!

UPDATE: Giveaway is closed. Thank you to all who entered!

This-and-That

This and That • Should have been September 2021

Everything I’ve done lately has been done lately.

I did get this block made in September for Bette, and did send it off on time, but never posted about it, so here we are, October 3rd and there you go. You can download the foundation paper-pieced pattern from here. Each quadrant is a six-inch block. This is for our Gridster Bee quilt group and if you want some quilty eye-candy, here’s our space on the web. One of the things I like about this group is that we are all so varied, there are a lot of interesting blocks to experiment with.

And I’m totally on deadline for October’s block, just as soon as I look it up and remember what it is.

I know this is blurry and tiny, but you had to see it. The Metropolitan Costume Division of Wild and Crazy and How Does That Dress Stay On? recently had another one of their galas–this time in September because the May 2021 and the May 2020 were cancelled. The theme is American Patchwork or something like that, and of course, all we quilters cringe a little, because what THEY think is patchwork and what WE think is patchwork often are not the same thing.

But check out this hexie dress!! I’m in total love with it. Either she was one of the Vogue Magazine Staffers or Someone Not Important Who Was Fully Dressed, but she didn’t show up in any of the “after” photos. A Famous Quilter helped with one of the “outfits” which although I have high regard for the quilter, I was sort of Meh, or Meh-Minus, about the get-up. It’s up to you to find the calico bubble quilt, draped over the shoulders of somebody famous.

I get these letters all the time. I’ll forward them on to you, if you are interested. The internets is a funny place.

I can now make macarons, digitally, using Affinity Designer. I’ve been working on a logo for my daughter, and I’m pretty excited that I learned how to use the gradiant tool to give these sweet treats some dimension.

She owes me real macarons.

Iron died. Had to use my travel iron during the workshop, and yes, I’ve bought a new iron, but I like my old Sunbeam iron a LOT more than the new cheap-o Model of Rowenta (not shown) I purchased. So, hating the Rowenta from Target, I bought a new Sunbeam iron on Amazon, which is perfect: it gets hot, doesn’t spit or drip, is smallish so I don’t feel like I’m dragging an anvil around every time I pick up the iron and doesn’t pack as much wattage so the lights in my oldish house don’t dim as much as when the massive wattage irons click on to heat. I never buy fancy irons, by the way. Check back with me in five years to see if it’s still good. My first cheap iron lasted 25 years, but they don’t make them like they used to.

One of my readers sent me her version of four of my free SHINE blocks (here on this website). I love what she’s done! You all are so inventive and interesting and creative–if you use one of my patterns, send over a photo. Thank you Veroniqué!

Okay, this is random, but we went to Forest Lawn to see a stained glass exhibit. Yes, we were at a cemetary, but check out this brickwork. I asked inside if this was built to be a house or something and she said, No–always a mortuary. Famous People Buried Here: a list, but I almost didn’t know a lot of them (there are a few I did know, like George Burns, Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor and The Lone Ranger). Apparently it was the thing to see in the day, as my parents visited this place while on their honeymoon in the 1940s.

A N D…I did finish my September pillow, a whole ten days before the end of the month. I already see things I want to fix in that quilting, but it will have to wait until October. I’m not unsquishing the pillow form out now.

Stay safe out there, everyone.

Keep Quilting!

Quilts

thirty-two years • Quilt Finish

thirty-two years
quilt #257 • 34″ wide by 25″ high

Guild Challenge: Use the Churn Dash block, but make it “modernish.” Reams have been written, umpteem digital slides have been presented over what “modern-ish” means. I decided to just do what I want and roll from there.

This was first base: overlapping churn dash blocks with blocks in the corners. I’d already left home plate long ago (which would have been a single Churn Dash).

After I’d merged the two blocks, late one night (tired) I sat and studied it. The deep blue color was strong and I liked the aqua color and I really liked where they merged in the middle, retaining something of themselves, but blending by giving a little of their color to the other, making a new hue. Yep, I thought, reflecting on our recent thirty-second wedding anniversary, this little bit of a quilt is just like marriage.

So now how to get the numbers in script onto it? I’d done this once before, so I went at it again. That’s the beauty of all those art quilts I made; I was schooled in many techniques. I wrote it in my Pages (word processing) program, then scaled it up, and printed it out on freezer paper (I had to tape the paper to some card stock to get it through the printer). The most tedious part is cutting them all out; I left them joined by a small bridge of paper, knowing I could just quilt through it.

I pressed it well. Yes, I pinned the quilt together first, quilted the center, then added the letters.

I wondered what to do for the fill. This is why I take lots of photos of quilts at quilt shows (remember those?).

Liking this.

Finished.

I decided to play around with this shape digitally:

I stacked them up, then mirrored two more to the side.

This could be fun. I wanted to really play with changing out the colors, but I was on to other things.

If you want to play with a snuggled-up Churn Dash Block duo, then click on the link below to download my rough guide (PDF):



Happy Quilting!