Creating · Quilts

Pieces to Scrappy Stars


I finished the first gift–a pillowcase for my son Chad who is always traveling. Because of the London Olympics this year, there is lots of fabric with British themes, and the whitish area has a map of the London tube system.. The black fabric is a piece I picked up in NY when we were there last fall– and met Chad for a day of touristing around. (Chad is the little tyke in the last post.)


I wanted to show the pieces I used in Scrappy Stars. They are all a variation of that diamond.


I copied off extra diamonds and added seam allowances to make these extra pieces. For the half- diamond insets in the red inner border, just fold the diamond in half and add some seam allowance.

I’m waiting here at the airport, waiting to take off to see my parents in Utah, and am posting via my iPad. Have any of you converted to this device? Do you find the posting tedious or convenient? I did pick up a gizmo that allows me to upload photos from my camera. I showed my son while we were at lunch and he said, Oh yeah. I have one of those! Why is it that I always feel about two skips behind everyone else? Story of my life.

Have a great weekend!

Something to Think About · WIP

WIP–Happy Birthday!

First off, let me say Happy Birthday to my son, Chad.  He’s grown into quite the man, with a wife and boys of his own, but I still think back to the days when he was my little boy.

And secondly, let me say thanks to Lee, of Freshly Pieced Fabrics who is hosting this WIP Wednesday.

Third, here’s what I’m working on: finishing up Scrappy Stars.  [Scroll down to the earlier post for the gory details of this quilt top’s finish.]  I’m planning the back, trying to decide if I want to quilt it, or if I want to take it over to my quilter.  I already know I’m binding it in that Quilters Linen fabric–I have some saved.

Other Random Thoughts:
Need to sew three gifts for three different people
It’s end of semester wrap-up with my English class (Research Essay, an in-class essay, and some odds and ends of grammar)
Thinking about summer sewing: what do I want to accomplish?
Eyeing the teetering stacks of fabrics shoved in neatly arranged in my closet
Realized I’ve not made one Cross-X block at all this spring
Nor the planned Sol Lewitt quilt
Haven’t finished that second skirt that I wanted to make
I’m not even going to look at the garage
The new apps for the iPad have been purchased, but I haven’t had time to learn them (couldn’t we use some owner’s manuals about now?  Why is it that only cars get to have them?  And obvious things like toasters?)
Planning which book to do first for the Cindy & Elizabeth Book Stash
Thinking about my gingham quilt–for the Krista & Elizabeth Summer Gingham Quilt-A-Long (go get your gingham if you want to play)

And finally,
Doing the Scrappy Stars quilt has taught me that I need to think more carefully about what I want to work on.  If I were a young quilter, the universe of quilts would stretch out before me and I wouldn’t have to prioritize.  But one of the frustrations of the Scrappy Star was the time limitations.  We always have fabric limitations, I know, but I was ready to be done with that thing long before it was to the “done” point, and was getting cranky at how much time I was spending spinning my wheels, going nowhere.

Time can be a friend or foe, and it’s not like I’m going to kick the bucket here anytime soon, but I’m just saying that the perception of limited time is something I think about, and have heard echoed in other quilters’ blogs. I remember when Chad was little, the children tick-tocked my day away, then they grew and were gone.  Now my day’s clock is driven less by external forces than by the realization that the day seems to slip away too quickly, and I’m once again, crunched for time.

Creating · Quilts

Scrappy Stars Saga

So I left you all when I thought I had the answers to the Scrappy-Star-conundrum with the Japanese fabrics.  Nope.  Discouraged, I headed to a quilt shop, where  guess what–out of all of the fabrics we tried, we liked the stars on some red Quilters Linen fabric.

Like I said, it seemed like the answer. Here’s some pictures of the process I went through.  I was happy with the red, as it acted like a solid, but still wanted to beef up the quilt with pattern and texture, a la Material Obsession quilt shop in Australia, as I love looking at their quilts.

Now I’m trying to add in those fabrics.  As you can see–it’s not working.  Again.  This is when I wrote the blog post on Struggle, appreciating Robert Penhall’s quote particularly.

Auditioning, Take Two.  I realize that photographs flatten out what’s going on, but as you can see, what was going on had problems.  I came home right after school, took an Internet Sabbath, and worked steadily on sewing together the center section.  When my husband came home last night, he kissed me hello and asked me how my day was.

“I hate my quilt,” I said.

After dinner, we went up together to look at the disaster quilt.  We talked, and I felt like a balloon deflating.  The view evolved as we tried different things, talking and talking, but really the quilt just has so much going on.  Like I’ve said before, I was trying to take Cinderella to the Prince’s Ball, and she really just want to go out for a burger and fries.  We folded back the end stars, took down some of the wild fabrics, paring it down.  I felt as if the quilt had beat me, as if I had caved.  But burgers-and-fries it was going to be, no matter where I wanted to go.

Cutting off of the side star.  I unpicked the center so I could save two of the star points for another project (like I ever want to tangle with this one again!).  I finished sewing the center all together, smoothed it up on the wall, and went to bed. In the morning, the pared-down quilt, white on the wall, greeted me and I chose the tomatoes on yellow for the inner border and auditioned the outer borders:

I guess I don’t feel defeated anymore, just happy it’s to this point.  I wanted that sophisticated, interesting quilt, really I did.  But what I have instead is a bold graphic set of stars, demanding un-adornment, insisting that the rest of the crowd pipe down so they can shine.

There’s a great children’s book titled “Babe, The Gallant Pig,” which was made into a movie.  At the very end, the farmer looks down at Babe, his pig, and says “That’ll do Pig.  That’ll do.”

That’ll do, Scrappy Stars.  That’ll do.

Creating · Something to Think About


Three quotes for tonight, as I work on my quilt:

When I am halfway there with a painting, it can occasionally be thrilling… But it happens very rarely; usually it’s agony… I go to great pains to mask the agony. But the struggle is there. It’s the invisible enemy. (Richard Diebenkorn)

You should see me when they [the paintings] don’t work out. I won’t leave until I can get them to a point. Sometimes it’s a struggle, and I’m sweating, I break out in sweat. This whole idea of the euphoric artist in the studio… painting can be that, but it sometimes isn’t, it’s a lot of work. (Ross Penhall)

In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock. (Orson Welles)

Creating · Sewing

Half-Square Triangle Trick

So, I’m pinning along on Pinterest, chasing down Crossed Canoes, checking out boards (it’s the after-lunch slump) and found this tutorial for a new way to make half-square triangles.

The drawback:  all the outside edges are on the bias.  Like the video says, squirt them with some sort of spray starch.

The benefits: about the easiest way to make half-square triangles I’ve even seen.  I found this on, and she included a chart (WhipUp is no longer available):

Now I’m going to go and dig up about a hundred HST (Half Square Triangle) type quilts and make them all tonight, just like I usually do (cough, cough).  I love the one below, found on QuiltBarn’s website (and titled Rainbow Zig-Zag).

I”m making progress on my now-in-its-fourth-incarnation Scrappy Star.  Yes, I am.  Stay tuned.

Creating · WIP

WIP–Still Those Scrappy Stars

They’re going to drive me crazy.

Like Leila, who left me a comment, I could see that the greens read like a solid, which is what these stars needed.

But after a visit here, I am rethinking this.  I guess I should reveal at this point that I am a Charter Member of the Thinking-About-Quilts-Obsessively Club.  By the way, self-help groups are forming.  Check back for dates and times.

Which led to this.

And another couple of stars.  I decided that I just couldn’t live with two of them.  Call them my Stars-with-Training-Wheels Stars. And I’m not going to tell you what I’ve decided to do.  Check back for the reveal.

I graded all the students’ papers today during their test, as I wanted to give them immediate feedback on how their research essay is going.  (And I didn’t want any grading this weekend.)  But even though I don’t have to grade, I do have to evaluate nine different textbooks for the new class I’m teaching in fall, as book orders are due May 1st.  Yes, you read that right.  Because of cutbacks to the budget, our community college has cancelled all summer school courses, and it’s very likely that no staff will be working.  So I have to set the direction within two weeks for the course I will teach in four months.

You can see why I’ve been fixated on getting this quilt off the wall.  I have a life to live that doesn’t involve cutting up diamonds out of cloth.  The bright side of this upcoming switch is that I can now make a quilt completely out of diamonds.  I felt so peaceful when I wrote that last post, and fairly floated to bed, Zen-like.  Smugness goeth before a fall.  And that fall came after I’d cut up all my precious Japanese fabric and placed it on the wall.  It was at this point that my husband walked in and said “Gee, you really can’t see those stars, can you?”  I just looked at him, because as a scientist, he tells it like he sees it (and yes,  I’ve learned never to ask him “Does this dress make me look fat?”).  Of course, he was right.  After he left, I turned my back on the quilt and graded my brains out on Tuesday, among other things.

Today after school I went to Ginger’s Quilt Shop (I’ll blog about them later).  I just needed to talk to someone about what was going on.  This is where a brick-and-mortar shop is so valuable over online shopping (although I do both).  The woman there laid out several bolts, talked to me about what I was seeing, and then disappeared down an aisle and came back bearing The One.  The stars sang.  I sang (inside).  We all smiled and grinned, as by now we’d pulled in another quilter or two in the shop for their input.  I pulled out my credit card, and yes, at this point, I’ve cut out more diamonds.

Thanks to Lee, of Freshly Pieced Fabrics, you are getting this long tale of woe. . . and triumph!  Check over there for more lovely quilts in progress.