Gridsters

Queen Bee for Gridsters • July 2022

I’m Queen Bee! I’m Queen Bee!

My month for choosing a block for the Gridster Bee is July 2022. I’ve been in love with this block for ages, even way back to the Flickr times, when I saw it on someone’s photo stream where they had done it for their Bee Block, too. Here it is on an earlier Instagram (when we all liked IG). Their blocks were Halloween oriented, but I have quite enough Halloween quilts.

But not nearly enough Autumn Quilts.

So I organized all my thoughts on color and put them into Autumn Leaf PatternLite. It’s color that will make or break this quilt. Take a look:

So many colors: purple, red, scarlet, yellow-green, burgundy, yellow, gold, yellow-orange, deep blue, brown, taupe just for starters. The biggest color trick that Nature does for autumn is bringing out these colors, but making them blend. Our favorite landscapes are all of sudden alive with color, but they are ALL BLENDED. You can pick out the colors, but when taking the scene in all-at-once, they work together. So that means, probably no fussy cut center squares that are objects/cute I Spy bits/cat fabric, as nothing should stand out. (More info is in the pattern.) If you notice in the block below, I did fussy-cut fabric, but (again) no objects/cute-I-Spy-bits/animals.

I wrote about this block and pattern a few whiles ago, if you want to go and read about its genesis.

Once you get the elements of the block constructed, it’s basically a nine-patch in sewing it all together. Yes, in the pattern I also give you the measurements for the four-at-a-time Flying Geese blocks, as well as the secret calculus to figure it all for yourself, if you ever want to make differently sized geese.

And like a good girl in QuiltLand, in that earlier post I also give you its heritage, and how I morphed it a bit. In the above block, I am following the Roberta Horton Rules for plaids: it’s okay if they are slightly off-grain, as that gives the block more motion.

For a signature block, I slipped a little leaf FPP block into the pattern; please make it in either size: 4-inch or 6-inch. Again, please use the fall colors and sign only what’s seen: name, IG handle, city/state.

Thank you to all my Gridster Beemates for making me autumn blocks in July!

Free Quilt Pattern · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

New York Beauties, Block 4: Ocean Gleam

We should stop meeting like this.

But it’s Wednesday, it’s June, and we’re ready for the fourth make in this series of New York Beauties. And the last in this foursome is Ocean Gleam, the dark dapples and glints that show up when you are lying on that proverbial beach and the ocean’s waves lull you into relaxation. Or something like that.

I dedicated a lot of digital real estate in the last New York Beauties Quilt post talking about how I work with FPP. Head over there if you need more info; scroll down as it is below Block Three. This block has two rows of rays and two bands, but you are up to this task, I know.

Q: How did I get here so fast? A: Read this. (Scroll down)

Checking for colors: bits of Block Four pinned up next her sisters.

Sew the parts together, and as usual I have the convex on top.

Yes. I am trying out colors again, but I have committed and am starting, judging by the sewn triangles on the upper arc. (The lower arc’s pieces are just laid out.)

Do you remember in the last post that I told you I figured out I didn’t need the paper on everything? It came from sewing this together. First I ripped off the seam allowances, like I’d learned. I was still wrestling with it under the needle, so I started ripping off the paper on the triangles. This photo was taken when I stopped to rip ALL the paper off. I had already pinned my four marked intervals together, so I didn’t need the paper for that.

Back view. You can see the press marks on the burgundy arc, and the pins on the upper arc, ready to be matched up.

Stitching, again without paper. I use those tweezers to help grab parts that need lining up. Tweezers are definitely recommended.

I just noticed they made a heart! These patterns come with a lot of love, so I shouldn’t be that surprised.

Time to sew them all together. Do your best, but really…remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Magnifico Thread into action!!! (Kind of like a super hero or something.) I use either So Fine or Bottom Line from Superior Thread in the bobbin. Test, test, test.

I love a heavily quilted pillow, and I sketched out a lot of possibilities. But in the end, I decided not to have a Battle with the Beauties, and did a lot of outlining and stitching around the bits. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun:

New York Beauty Mini Quilt/Pillow • 20″ square • Quilt #266

Now I have some ideas for more blocks!

This all started when the pillow-of-the-month came from Riley Blake and I wanted something a little brighter. And yes, I know we have four, if not six blocks, and possibly a quilt hanging out there, waiting in the wings. Do you want to keep going? Do you want the whole family of Beauties, even if I charge for them? Leave me a comment below letting me know, if possible, what you think the ideal situation is. July is always busy, but maybe around August, when it’s too hot to go out and you need a jolt of fun? Like I said, let me know what you think.

Ocean Gleam (Block Four) is ready for download in my pattern shop.

Our hashtag on Instagram is #newyorkbeautiesquilt so please post and tag and share your beautiful blocks.  If you feel inclined and want to say a thank you, I’d appreciate a follow on either my blog where I post weekly (or occasionaly bi-weekly).  You can also follow me on my Instagram

Take a breath…and keep quilting!

Something to Think About

Ruangrupa: Parallels to Quiltland

First this:

And then this:

I have blocked out the quilter’s name

Ruangrupa is an Indonesian Collective that “turns social experiences into art,” as Samantha Subramanian noted in a recent article in the New York Times. The name comes from two Indonesian words: ruang, which means room, and rupa, which means form, “so the group’s mashed name prizes not product but process: the physical space in which people collaborate, things take shape and art is made” (italics are mine). As I was reading about these artists, I couldn’t help but finding all kinds of parallels to Quiltland, where we all live. Here’s some tidbits from the article, and then I’ll tie it all together (stay with me, now):

“Instead of collaborating to make art, ruangrupa propagates the art of collaboration. It’s a collective that teaches collectivity.” One school of thought says that “visual arts” can be “spectacles degraded by capitalism” but ruangrupa is devoted to the collaborative process and its “chief order of business is to offer a ruang: a place for artists to meet each other, try things and fail and ignore for a while the demands and dogmas of the world outside.”

The author described visiting the ruangrupa complex in Jakarta, and noted that there was a feeling of “slow ferment — the feeling that, as people floated through one another’s orbits, they were being creatively galvanized, working all the time toward new art and new ideas. Not grand projects necessarily…but small, rich narratives with great frequency.”

Although the paragraphs above probably need to be translated out of Artist-Speak, generally they describe ruangrupa as a place where people meet and share and create new art because of that sharing. It also reminds us that “before capitalism’s fierce individualism interfered, people worked in small, sustainable collectives not only to create art but also to grow crops or put up buildings. Large families, farms and guilds were all collectives: a village was a collective of collectives” (Subramanian). (Guilds!)

So the second image, that of a Star of Hope block, with the person who put the fabric choices together proclaiming “Designed by Me!”

Actually, no.

It started with an Ohio Star shape from Nancy Cabot, Brackman 1631b. The next derivation was 1631c and has ten different names.

Brackman 1631d, the one shown above (and from Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, as well as Blockbase Plus software) has this heritage:

from Blockbase Software

I chose the name Star of Hope, and you can see it’s from the 1920s to the 1940s. So what’s the connection between ruangrupa and Quiltland? A single thread: collaboration, creating by working through a collective of hundreds of women, some here now, some alive in the 1940s and some stitching in the 1800s. They are our ruangrupa, and we honor them and our quilting heritage when we call the blocks by their correct names, not claiming them for our own. Every artist borrows from one another, however, it’s probably good practice to acknowledge the inspiration.

And the series of photos at the top? Aren’t workshops, quilt meetings and retreats another form of ruangrupa? Don’t we, when in small groups or in our guilds, “[work] all the time toward new art and new ideas. Not grand projects necessarily…but small, rich narratives with great frequency”? Having taught guild workshops, I always brought a few extra bits of fabric to trade, and then I noticed quilters trading across the class, too. We’ve learned to work in a collective, to create small, rich stories and we do it often. It’s the best part of this quilting world, I believe.

pattern from here

I had another small, rich narrative happen this week.

I was making these happy blocks because of another task this week: listening to the January 6th Commission Hearings and not only because this storming of the capital was on my birthday (!). America is a collective, and we’ve worked hard in groups to collaborate, those early Founding Fathers setting up our Constitution and our way of life. We let a lot of that ideal slip away from us, claiming that we alone can do it (like claiming an Ohio Star Block as your own design). But lately, with Volodymyr Zelenskyy reminding us of what democracy and courage looks like, we seem to have woken out of a deep sleep. I decided that watching the J6 Hearings was something I could do to decide for myself, to learn and listen.

Those nine-patches of blue, with sunny yellow centers, kept me grounded through the hard parts, the tense videos, the growing realization that our American collective had been ruptured. I thrive in my quilt collective, and want to thrive in my nation, too. I hope we can come together and rebuild, put together “small, rich [stories]” while we “try things and fail and ignore for a while the demands and dogmas of the world outside.”

Take a breath…and quilt ~

Notes on this post:

I wrote another time about America being a collective, borrowing words from Walt Whitman, in my post about my quilt, I Hear America Singing.

Nine-patch has to be one of my all-time favorite blocks. I’m also quite fond of this one, another traditional block from our quilt heritage.

Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

New York Beauties Block 3: Radiate

Third Wednesday of June means the third block of New York Beauties, and since I love that orange band out there and it reminded me of the glory days of being a teenager and feeling the warm sun on my face, I called it Radiate.

Stats: It will measure 9-inch when finished. Remember to print it off so that the size gauge of 1″ is one-inch square.

Honey, I shrunk the rays.
But then I added the band, so all is good. Are you getting the hang of this? I’ve written a longer post about how I manage foundation paper-piecing (FPP) if you aren’t. Keep reading.

You know the drill by now: overlap and tape or glue at pink dotted line to make the larger arc.

And then do the rays, Piece C. I cut off the little bit of overlap on the top piece and throw it away.

Remember in Block Two how I cut out a rough shape of the ray? I did the same thing here.

Checking colors. I also did a half-ombre on this set of rays — from lighter pink on the outside rays to darker pink in the middle. I like how the blocks all play together nicely with the shaded areas leading the eye around the circles.

More checking colors. The arcs are just pinned up for the Radiate Block.

Rays block, before the haircut — er, trimming. You can see the gradation of the pinks here. I also tried to color them slightly on the pattern; hope that helps. I pressed this, trimmed it, then set it aside.

I started from the center, sewing the coral-orangey-red quarter circle to the yellow band. I always press marks at the center, and half-way to the center on both pieces to help with pinning. I have more success with the concave piece on top, and the convex piece on the bottom.

Here’s a drawing for you, if you need it like I always do. The green arc actually has both a concave surface (where it faces the yellow quarter-circle), and a convex surface (on the right side of the arc).

In the top photo, you can see my press marks to help in sewing the arcs evenly onto the matching convex surfaces.

And in the bottom photo, three are finished. I’m working on the fourth one now, and I think I can probably share how I think about the weird-o parts of FPP. The first time I did this ever, it was a nightmare: limited fabric, doing it for someone else, and too much for a novice to tackle. I was terrified about running out of my beemate’s fabric because I was always sewing and cutting it backwards.

Verushka (and you might really really want to take her class–so many good things and I think she explains them well) taught us to fold the next segment backwards, gauge the size of the fabric piece you’ll need, then proceed from there. I’m am using segments from Block Four in these illustrations, and I know so so many of you are Total Pros and will find these tips sophmoric or useless. (Then just move on…it’s for the rest of us.)

There are two basic rulers used in FPP. One is Add-A-Quarter-Inch and it’s yellow. The other is Add-An-Eighth-Inch and it’s the green one, above. This green one has the sweetest edge, right there by the red arrow. It’s really thin, so it helps in folding (this step). Align that thin edge with the line for the next seam. In this case, we are working on the blue triangle.

Keeping it in place, fold the paper back over the edge, and put a good crease in it.

Remove the ruler. I know you are probably rolling your eyes at this step, but it’s just in case you are sewing at night and your brain is fried.

Notice the position of everything: the completed rays are to my left. I work left to right, and concentrate on keeping this oriented this way. Also notice–that triangle marked in green (the blue ray) is what I’m focusing on. If you compare FPP Tip #2 with FPP #4, you can see I’ve brought in a blue fabric triangle and laid it in the approximate position I’ll need to sew that seam (*marked in Tip #3 with a red arrow*).

Now I’m going to show you this step from another set of rays–a little bigger so you can see more easily.

A bigger triangle, same green outline. If you can see behind the deep purple seam allowance, I’ve positioned a lavender piece of fabric, which is cut larger than I need, but in the approximate shape. (Remember how I always trace the ray, but a bit bigger? This is that piece of fabric.)

Okay, back to the small rays.

I’m holding it up to the light (this is where some people use a light table, which is a great idea).

Now here, in 6a, You can see the oversized blue triangle piece behind the FPP assembly (marked in blue). I try to line up the side edge about 1/4″ away from where the seamline will be (red arrow). Some people like to trim this edge to 1/4″ before lining it up. I’ve done that. But when I’m working with small bits and am on a roll, it’s another step. Your call.

Pin the fabric in place, or just hold on to it tightly. Unfold back your paper, exposing the marked seamline. Stitch with a 2.0 stitch if you are using vellum, or something a bit tinier if you are using computer/copy paper.

DON’T GO ANYWHERE OR PRESS ANYTHING YET!

Head to the cutting table. Fold back the paper one more time. Reach for the yellow Add-A-Quarter-Inch-Seam ruler. Lay the inner edge (yellow arrow) bumped up against the folded edge. Lay your rotary cutter against the outer edge (red arrow) and slice off the excess.

Please notice that I still keep the orientation the same: the active place is on my right. The completed and sewn section is on my left. (Verushka has a great way of describing it to help you remember. I am forever indebted to her!)

Now you can go to the ironing board. Unfold the paper (again), and smooth the fabric over. Press from the “right” side. Remember that everything looks reversed now, but this is the weird-o-ness of foundation paper piecing. You’ll start this whole process again, this time with a lavender triangle/ray.

I’ve become much faster at this, and if you are not already a pro, you’ll get get faster, too, as you go through these New York Beauties.

Final Tip

After working on these blocks, it suddenly occurred to me that after I made each arc of rays, and trimmed them up…I didn’t need the paper in there anymore. So I peeled it off before sewing the ray-arcs to the plain arcs. I referenced this a little bit in the last block, where I tore off the paper at the seam allowance. Generally, in FPP, you only need the paper where the seam lines will be lining up. Generally. But in these NYBeauties, the paper just got in the way. Without the paper, I can use a more reasonable stitch length, and the fabrics will work together. Try it and decide if you like it.

Because it’s June and Why Not? I’ve left up Blocks One and Two, so with this post, now you have three (and a peek at Block Four). I love all the sweet notes you write–if you feel like following this blog, that is also a nice thank you. I post weekly (but this June, it’s like bi-weekly). I’m also on Instagram, if that’s more your style.

Our hashtag on Instagram is #newyorkbeautiesquilt so let’s post and tag and share our beautiful blocks!

Radiate (Block Three) is available for download in my PayHip Shop.

Take a breath…and keep quilting!

Something to Think About

Looking Out the Window

So often I spend days cramming it all in. I read Instagram, blogs, news, newspapers, and the sides of cereal boxes if there’s nothing else. I store up lists of patterns, of quilts to make. In the window of time I have in the day, I join sewing groups, plan trips to quilt conferences. Others head out on retreats, but all of us are filling up the spaces over and over and over.

The last two days I’ve been emptying out, which often happens when you leave home and live in a hotel space and walk in a strange city and ride busses (thankfully, given the time of Covid, they are somewhat empty). That first day is like detox, and you are anxious to pull out the stitchery in your bag, or read something or sew something, anything.

Then you find this notice on a crosswalk button and you smile. You have ten places to chose from for lunch, if you keep walking. You had great cookies yesterday, so you know where to find those today.

You notice where the tracery of pulled-off ivy creates a conversation with succulents and images inked in below.

You think: this would be a great wall for a quilt photo, and you see other nooks, crannies, painted spaces, architecture, houses. You notice.

At the end of looking out of windows in hotels, busses, beauty shops (when you decide to get a haircut), your busy life hovers at the edges. It’s now looking in at you, waiting for you to come and pick it up again and make colors and fabrics dance in lines and curves and triangles.

Coming.

Also coming in the next post: Block Three of the New York Beauties series, plus some insight into how I figure out some of the weirdness of FPP.

Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

New York Beauties Block 2: Cool Rays

Second Wednesday in June means the second block of my New York Beauties and since it has a lot of green in it, I went with Cool Rays. I used variegated greens from dark to light in between the rays, just for fun. Because this series is about having fun, right?

STATS: 9-inch blocks, finished Yes, the rays are a bit wonky on some blocks. The perfect is the enemy of the good, as I used to tell my Freshman English classes.

I made the rays on this block twice, because I neglected to follow this one rule:

Yeah, duh. I printed out the first one at 97%. Close, but not close enough. It was a nice set of rays, too.

Fun times: the spliced outer corner pattern from Wild Sunflower (block #1) is the same for all the blocks, so I just used it again.

Splicing action needed.

Nice work. I had a question from a reader about the paper I use. It’s vellum, and from what she wrote back, it may be hard to find in a ream. I’ve seen it in smaller packages, so hopefully if you want that, you can find it.

Auditioning fabrics. Notice the range of greens. I tried to color them on the pattern from lighter to darker, too.

I took a scrap of my paper, traced off the two different sizes of my rays very loosely, and used that as a template to cut out fabrics. Since I’m using solids, there is no right or wrong side.

Progress. I always work from left to right.

Cut your arc on the bias, to give it a chance for ease around that outer edge.

I cut out two arcs because I didn’t know which one I would like. No, they aren’t sewn in yet, just draped.

I press in four creases and pin. I also do better if the convex is on the bottom and the concave is on the top, although I keep trying it the other way, which leads to use of the seam ripper. You can pin as much as you want to. No rules.

Ta-Done!

I took them outside to play.

Cool Rays ( Block Two) is available for download in my PayHip Shop.

Because I’m a nice girl, I left up Block One. Why not? It’s June! We are having fun!

Just breathe…and keep quilting!