Christmas Quilts · Free Quilt Pattern · Gridsters

Tannenbaum, in construction

Many years ago, my mother stayed up all night on the 24th of December, worried that the child she was carrying would actually come on the due date of Christmas Eve. Who would help the other three young girls? Who would get the ironing done? But I did not arrive on my due date. Nor on New Year’s Eve. But I came 12 days later on Twelfth Night, and dodged forever having my birthday on Christmas. (And she did get up early that morning to get the ironing done before she went to the hospital.) Now I share a birthday with Richard Nixon, the arrival of the Three Kings and the Storming of the Capital.

Why do I bring this up? Because Tannenbaum will most likely suffer the same fate, arriving somewhere around Twelfth Night. It’s because I wanted a longer drop on the sides, and didn’t have enough of the beige fabric (earlier version is seen here). So as long as I was playing around, what would the quilt look like with red? I quite liked it. Many iterations and consultations with my quilt gurus (I have a couple) and I ordered some red fabric from Laundry Basket Quilts. Like me, in my almost early days…this probably won’t be done by Christmas.

Trying it out for size; I like it!

This is where I am now, with the two borders attached (big smiles), the wrinkles that will need to be quilted out in the center, and sideways on my design wall, because it’s too big now to go vertically. (In other words, it looks like it needs its make-up put on, the lipstick applied, and good blow-out for the hair. You know, like all of us in the morning.)

I’m working on the pattern now, and that’s coming along too. But what has arrived?

This one’s mine…you’ve seen it before.

Several of my Piece Maker Quilt Ladies have arrived from the Gridster Bee, along with their cloth sewing treasures, like buttons and rotary cutters and topiary trees. You can read more about this project, written a few whiles ago, but basically I got the idea from Surfside Quilters, from their Blocks of the Month page. I’ve always wanted a Freddy Moran-style quilt, and now it looks like I’ll make one.

To help further this quilt along, I’ve been collecting black-and-white prints to go with other 400 black-and-white prints (dear, I’m kidding). I have discovered there’s a particular kind of black and white print that works with Freddy Moran style quilts, and I think I probably have enough now. Too much white? It bleaches it out. Too much black? A blot in the quilt. Black and white — that when you squint your eyes — turns into grey? Nyet. I think two of the prints above are perfect (on the outer edges) and we’ll see where the others may go.

In keeping with the red theme of today’s post, here’s a treat I want to try: Cranberry Lemon Bars, from New York Times Cooking.

And I’ll see this, next week. First airplane ride in over 20 months (better get it in before Omicron shows up).

But before that, we have to finish putting out my husband’s nutcrackers, arranging the lights on the mini-tree, switching out the quilts, and generally getting ready for the Christmas season. Another work in progress.

Merry Quilting!

In case you want something fun, here’s a free pattern to make this little tree on a frame, from my earlier days of pattern making; still good to go, but not quite as fancy.

And here’s the teeny tree:

More info is here.

And here’s a sneak peak of what I’m working on for 2022. I’m thinking a monthly quilt-a-long, sort of easy, no sign-ups, free patterns, work together, have fun, make a nice-sized wall hanging. And if you can’t deal with any more outside pressure to produce, it’s okay if you just want to grab the patterns and squirrel them away. That’s fine, I’m fine, you’re fine.

I also always make colorful quilts, and this one may go there yet, but I was gifted a little stack of Sherri and Chelsi’s newest line (thanks, Sherri!), and I’m starting there, because — oh my gosh — I do need a cool Valentine-y quilt. So that’s my starting line. I’ve got the first month’s pattern done, but I want to make samples, so you won’t see it until after the holidays. Maybe even by Twelfth Night!

PatternLite · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Something to Think About

Autumn Leaves • PatternLite

Confession: I got caught up in Fall Color. A few particular trees in Southern California and even the leaves on my wisteria arbor are turning yellow, getting ready to drop. In addition, we put together another round of Gridster Bee, and those of us who were experienced thought we should get sample blocks up on the spreadsheet as an example.

I have been hanging on to this screenshot (see how old those IG icons are?) for some time, as I’ve always wanted to do it in a bee. The pattern is a variation of Maple Leaf:

To be precise, it’s Maple Leaf–Brackman #1740, which originally debuted in Aunt Martha’s booklets in the 1930s. Like the Flickr group, above, I changed out the stem so it could be pieced. And is my wont, I wondered if anyone else was interested in this block. I certainly I had a few words to say about how to make up a leaf in autumn colors, so I put it all into a PatternLite, and then up in my PayHip Shop. I also included how to make a Four-at-a-Time Flying Geese block, giving away the secret formula, freeing you from charts forever.

PatternLite Patterns, if you are new here, are not-quite-all-of-a-pattern, for not-quite-all-of-the-price. They are less than a fancy pink drink at Starbucks. They are cheaper than a slice of pizza from that place around the corner from you. They are for those quilters who can see a block and take off with it in their own way, and don’t need comprehensive instructions on construction. But I did do up a couple of sketches for what can be done with this block:

How about a table runner for your holiday table?

Or a quilt? It’s there now in the shop, if you want to grab it.

I had some other ideas, but I will let time work them out for me, or sleep as John Steinbeck noted:

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”

This may take me more than a few nights, I think.

And then there’s this, that’s been rattling around in my head:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” (Steve Jobs)

Lately, I’ve been concerned with sameness, or the inability to make connections between two different things, because so much is all the same.

an “un-same” landscape

If we are mostly in our houses, with our same stashes, in the same room, making those same projects we dreamed up some time ago, where are the differences that allow us to make connections? I think many of us get it through social media, but beware:

from a recent Honors symposium my friend attended

I had been sort of dependent on my Instagram feed for variety and for seeing new things, until I realized that over time the random things I had selected had become more of “the same”–repeating back to me the images I had selected precisely because they were new and different. What with the algorithm changing how we interacted with that media, and the selectivity with which it feeds us our friends’ posts on our feed, what had once fed my need for new and novel things just came unraveled.

When you are traveling in a new space, trying to juggle all that’s coming at you, you make new connections. Perhaps you discover a different way to think about a dilemma, or even how to navigate physical space:

I did eventually make it to TechnoPark-ro, and enjoyed all that I saw. This has been on my mind because of what I’ve noticed in my correspondence, that there’s been a refrain of not feeling enthusiastic about what you used to do. Some describe it in that time-honored way of “lost my sewjo.” I could also describe it as longing for the thunderbolt of a new idea, one that just grabs you and has you on the run to try to express it.

Because I feel like drowning in sameness is a situation to escape, my tactic of late has been to look for old quilt blocks to explore in new ways (hence, Autumn Leaves). I also like seeing new fabrics, other than the same three designers carried by my quilt shop, so recently I went to Fat Quarter Shop to their pre-cuts and read ALL 38 pages of it, learning about what’s coming. I vary my walks around my neighborhood, cook new recipes:

What I call Sushi in a Bowl: sushi rice, salmon, cucumbers, slaw, avocado and dressing

Three reasons why people are motivated to be creative: 1) need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation; 2) need to communicate ideas and values and 3) need to solve problems. A scholarly listing of thoughts about creativity can be read here.

Right brain? Left Brain? Anna Abraham begs to differ: “The brain’s right hemisphere is not a separate organ whose workings can be regarded in isolation from that of the left hemisphere in most human beings. It is also incorrect to conclude that the left brain is uncreative. In fact even the earliest scholars who explored the brain lateralization in relation to creativity emphasized the importance of both hemispheres.” A high level Q & A with her is here.

“As strange as it sounds, creativity can become a habit,” says creativity researcher Jonathan Plucker, PhD, a psychology professor at Indiana University. “Making it one helps you become more productive.” Read about it here.

A quote from an article from my favorite resource, 99U: “Creativity is a skill that allows you to draw understanding of the world around you, connect those observations to your existing knowledge reservoirs, and imagine new applications of your knowledge on the world.” Read it here.

Keep at it, find the new and novel, and keep quilting!

(More info on this one, coming soon!)

Christmas Quilts

Decorating Tannenbaum

(The pattern view)

In December 2019, in the Before Times, my friend Laurel and I got together and in two days of mad sewing finished the Tannenbaum top from Laundry Basket Quilts. I hung it on a hanger, hoping to make it bigger, but out of ideas for that moment. Laurel appliquéd her tree to a larger backing, not wanting all the seams and finished hers. (I’m hoping and praying that my seams will “quilt out.”)

And then my brain pretty much took a vacation for about two years. But the storms of this last year have receded, so now I’m ready to go at it again. I scanned it into my Affinity Designer program, and started to work mess around.

I figured I should draw from Edita Sitar’s ideas, since I was using her fabric (ordered back in 2019, and hoarded since then) and Tannenbaum quilt pattern. That inner little sawtooth-effect border was the first one I drew. Then I realized I needed:

  • top of bed dimension (queen size)
  • total quilt size

You see them in the two blue boxes. I kept shifting it around as I worked, trying to figure out space for pillow shams, if I decide to make them.

I got this far. I need to extend/blow-up/rethink the mistletoe on the borders, and have another adjustment to make for the larger sawtooth star blocks (thinking they need nine-patches in the middle, just like the bottom tree row), but at least I’ve started.

I’ve finished the first 106 blocks (2″ finished) and the four corner blocks for the first round. That old phrase about a journey of a thousand miles and single step razz-ma-tazz could be rephrased as a quilt of a thousand seams begins with a single cut. Or whatever.

One border finished.

Take Two. Better keep sewing.

300 Quilts · Quilt Finish · This-and-That

A Tiny Spritz of Elements • Quilt Finish • This and That: Nov 2021

A Tiny Spritz of Elements • Quilt #259 in my Quilt Index
21″ square

So my husband asked me if this was another pillow. He has a point, as that seems the size I can manage lately, but no…this is a quilt. A mini quilt. It started in a swap of small 2″ unfinished blocks from the guild members at the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild. I made more.

The past few months I seemed to have fallen into a streak of really sad days, bad days, tired days, and one of my friends sent me a meme indicating that October was just about to break her, too. What is it about this phase of covid? Those who will, are getting vaccinated, but those of us who are at higher risk also have to make decisions: how will we live with this disease, since we aren’t going to hit the vaccination rate we need to. A bog, a verifiable, certifiable bog.

Then one morning I was sitting outside in the car, waiting for my perfect husband, and because the angle was right and having just shut the door, I was treated to a sparkling array of floating bits of light, the dust scattering flashing bits sunshine all around me as I sat. So often I’m in a rush, in a hurry, and don’t notice these tiny spritzes of cheer. I held the moment close; Dave got in and we drove off.

So that’s the name of this quilt made from tiny blocks, stitched with tiny quilting, each square representing those elements that come into our lives: sorrow, elation, peace, anger, frustration, happiness, forgiveness, repentance, sadness, love and most of all, hope.

When I finished making all my little elements, I saw a quilt from Zen Chic; I followed her lead in the arrangement. I’m also grateful to my fellow Guild Members for sewing and swapping. This little effort is due the first meeting in December, but I just finished it and wanted to share it now.

Melanie chose a birdie block for her turn as Queen Bee in Gridsterbee this month. Her signature block was my little Teeny Tree block–can’t wait to see what she makes of all these birds and trees. Free pattern for tree is here.

The Gridster Bee (#gridsterbee) is going through some changes next year. I’m stepping down from the head of the group, and we are looking for some new quilters who want to sew one block a month for your other bee-mates (check out the hashtag above for our wide-ranging style). We have several slots available; continental US only. We require you to have an Instagram Account and/or blog; those in charge will also vet you to make sure that all of us are at the same level of ability. So if you are a beginner who is just learning her stuff, this may not be the group for you.

But if you’ve happily been sewing for a minute or two and want to meet a few really cool women, as well as get a series of blocks made just for you when it’s your turn to be Queen Bee…leave me a comment below. I’ve been in over five bees, and they’ve all been great experiences. If you haven’t done a bee, consider it!

Occasionally I do clean up my computer desk. We got our Christmas present early this year (a nearly identical model to this one, but newer), so are passing this one on to our daughter.

November must have known we were anxiously waiting for it, for it came in with this beautiful sunset. We were fixing dinner (see below) and went out several times to admire the color and take photos.

Dinner: Sesame Salmon Bowl. I didn’t have the slaw they called for so we just sliced up another Persian cucumber. We had the leftovers the next night–so good!

The Cape Plumbago is flowering, with its rare blue flowers.

One advantage of covid days…

Please leave me a comment, or email me privately (e.eastmond@gmail.com), if you are interested in becoming part of a great group of women in our GridsterBee.

Happy Quilting!

200 Quilts · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Pillows

Crossed Lillies, Riverside Sawtooth, and Halloween

Although the title has three subjects and in a particular order, I’m going to reverse them, starting now.

We need a Halloween quilt and this one, made by Tracy Cox using my Sun and Sea Pattern, catches the mood of the day. I love her use of spooky prints! I have corresponded with her for some time, and met in person at PIQF held before the world shut down. She lives near my old stomping grounds in the Bay Area, so it was fun to hang out with her and admire her prizewinning blue ribbon quilt.

Here’s my version of this…of course! you say. I remember. It’s just so different in different fabrics, which is one of the magic tricks we quilters do. We are really good at this particular trick and don’t even need a magic wand, unless that’s what you want to call our rotary cutters.

A Quilter’s Magic Wand

The next one is Riverside Sawtooth, a quilt that was featured in QuiltMania in issue #163 (July/August 2020). It’s finally time for it to hit the pattern shop!

I was asked by Brenda if she could purchase the pattern, and I realized I hadn’t put it back up when it was time to do so. And then it was revise revise and spruce up, because I’d also made it in the Before Times — before I knew sort of what I was doing in Affinity Publisher. Both the program and I have made strides, so I updated what I could. It’s for sale in my pattern shop.

Lastly, it’s Crossed Lilies. This is probably the most complete pattern of my Pattern Lite series, and could probably sell for more, but it’s the same price as all the rest: less than a bag of Halloween Candy, less than an upscale chocolate bar when you are sick of eating all that candy, and way less than the price of a good rice bowl, when you are totally sick of eating sweets.

I had many inspirations, but mostly this stems from the pillow series I’ve been doing this year. You know I wasn’t that keen about October’s pillow kit that came in the mail, so I made Mister Pumpkin. And then I kind of liked this month’s kit, but it was a pumpkin (again), so I had to do something different.

I like the mixing of the fall tones with the deep aqua blues, and these pillows are all fun to quilt, before I back them and bind them. This pattern is also for sale in my PayHip shop, if you need a fall pillow.

But I could wave my quilter’s magic wand, spend an afternoon, and have something completely different for spring, or Christmas, or in red, white and blue for summer.

from here

The magic is all up to you, my pretties!

Happy Halloween!

Other posts about Riverside Sawtooth:
Finished Quilt Top
Finished Quilt, binding and all

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