Quilts · Something to Think About

Lollypop Block Quilt Swamp

Existential Crisis this morning.

I don’t know how you choose what you’ll make for a quilt, whether it be the fabric pulls you in, or you see a design on someone’s blog or in a magazine.  I chose this for both of those reasons, and now, more than halfway through getting the blocks assembled, I’m thinking: Really?  You really want to make this?  Because even though you’re getting the blocks pinned together, you still have to sew them down.  Then make the sashing (another slew of piecing) and the borders (I’m simplifying the pattern).  Then back it, quilt it, and just how big do you want this to be?  Bed sized?  Wall-hanging?  Who’s going to quilt it–you?

So you could say I’m knee-deep in the quilty swamp.  This is how quilts become UFOs.  Somewhere along the line your fervor for a quilt begins to wane, another fabric group comes along that calls to you from the fabric store, you spend soooo much time on something that you just get sick of it.

No good answers today.  Here are the eight so far: three appliqued down onto the fabric and five pinned together.

A photo of eight with the sunlight streaming onto the blocks in the late afternoon.  I was tired.

Still tired today.


Back into the Lollypop Forest

Yep, the mess is back in my sewing studio.  This is block number six.  After this one, I’m halfway.  Putting down the big petals and leaves is fun and goes quickly, and then it’s the small circles which take up the time.  I’m currently debating the ones dangling from the tips of the magenta leaves: do they work?  Should I go to a different fabric?  What WILL work there?  I’m getting quite a collection of “no, not quite right” pieces in a ziploc bag.  Sometimes I think it’s best to just lay it down and move on, as these trees will be seen in a collection — a riot of colors and shapes and no one item will stand out.  I hope.

Finished my comittment to the Polaroid Blocks and sent them off, but just cut out a bunch more centers (you can see them in the Lolly photo, on the windowsill).  At our group’s quilt day, Lisa had brought out an old project I’d abandoned (anyone remember “I Spy” quilts?) and she let me sneak back a few of those centers.  It was like strolling through a historical section of the quilting timeline, to see some of those fabrics.  So I cut a few more Polaroid centers.

I received an Amazon gift card.  You know what I need to do with these.  READ THEM.

I worked on these when the quilters met, and at the end of the day, took a good look at a couple of the blocks.  Like the blue/green one above.  See the problem (the correct layout is the yellow/lavender block)?  I did unpick the blue/green block, found its companion of green/blue, and swapped out the corner pieces.

Here they are, all arrayed and correct.  This is another Work in Progress.

To see more, head back over to Lee’s Freshly Pieced Blog, where Taryn of from Pixels to Patchwork is the guest host, for another WIP Wednesday.

100 Quilts · Quilt Bee · Quilts

Heart Houses–Far Flung Bee

Krista received her Far Flung Bee Blocks, so now I can write about them.  Like a pregnancy, I figure it’s not my news to tell, so I like to let them do the Woo-hoo! thing and then I’ll follow up.  Since I’ve only done In-Real-Life Swaps, it’s probably all wrong, like when I sent in my Polaroids. . . Whoops, did it all wrong.

She wanted a wonky house.  And trees, if you please.

But I thought about how she recently got engaged, and so I drew from a quilt I’d made a couple of years ago (one block is up in my blog header), and made her a block that featured a heart made of two houses.  Aw.  I’m of the mind you should always celebrate love.  Especially “goofy love,” as Krista refers to it.  (I remember those days with great fondness.)

This is Number 68 on my 100 Quilts List.  A version of this quilt was on the cover of a quilt magazine some time ago, and I had searched my hard drive for the downloaded file, but couldn’t find it.  I started drafting it again, then tried the internet.  No luck.  Finally it was in the last place I looked. (Sorry for the wobbly lower edge — for the photo, I had it on a quilt rack extended yea-high and the wind interfered.)

Here’s my PDF of the block that has all four blocks–click to download: heart_houses

They show it for paper piecing, but no way was I going to do that.  The blocks on my quilt are about 12″ on the short side because I wanted JUMBO houses in among my pine trees.  I took it to the local copy shop and blew up the PDF  and taped the pattern pieces together.  I just cut them out and use the pieces as a pattern, sometimes just measuring then cutting.

I made the long blocks for the border sort of randomly, first making the tree tops, then gauging how long those trunks needed to be to fit.

I backed it with some Mary Lou Weidman fabric.

That was the year I was in charge of a camp for young women ages 12-18, which was held up in the pines in the San Bernardino forest near Big Bear Lake.  It’s a LOT of work, and I was working with a camp director who I found out later was brilliant in working with recalcitrant teenagers, but not so brilliant in doing the grunt work that has to be done to get a camp organized.  Her team was also untested, but were very strong-willed about what should and shouldn’t be done.  I had been to a similar camp when I was a girl, had gone back as an adult counselor for several years, so I came at it from a different angle.  Needless to say, that was a challenging spring as we tried to quash all our personality quirks in order to get the camp planned.

And on top of all that, it was my only my third semester teaching at a community college, and they’d given me a new level of class to figure out, and I felt like I was nearly underwater all the time just on that issue.

So, what else to quilters do?  They make a quilt.  I called this Hearts in the Pines.  I finished the top and with only a few weeks to go, the semester ending, I called my quilter and she did stitch-in-the-ditch to stabilize the quilt.  I stitched the binding on, but didn’t have time to sew it down.  I took it to camp and in the few free minutes I had in between kitchen crises (oh, didn’t I tell you that two of the cooks backed out at the last minute and so I was in the kitchen too?), visiting with the girls, my husband (who I’d recruited to join me) and my angel daughter who drove in from Arizona with a friend to help her mom, I finished stitching around the quilt to get that binding on.  And much later, I finished the quilting around all the houses and trees.

I always like how quilts have a story behind them.  Whether it’s just one of those quick quilts that you throw together for a baby shower, or one that represents a time in your life, the story — I believe — makes the quilt.  Just like Krista will hopefully remember the summer she was engaged, when she looks at the quilt she made from a few wonky heart blocks.

Good Heart Quilters · Quilts

Good Heart Quilters — Summer Fun Day

I’m leading with this shot of a houses quilt, because this was the very first project our group, the Good Heart Quilters, had ever done together.  I designed all the houses on my QuiltPro quilt program, passed them out.  Leisa and I went shopping and bought two fabrics, and we passed them out.  The requirements: make eight houses all alike, using pieces of the two fabrics.  The trees were created by each individual quilter, as well as the setting.  When we met yesterday at Lisa’s house (a different one that the above Leisa), she was busy putting borders on everything and found this first quilt.  I was glad to see it again.

Our group has changed, shrunk, expanded and changed again, but the core members shown in this photo are me (2nd from left), Lisa (in bright green shirt) and Leisa (on far right).  JoDy is in the red-stripey shirt, Jean is next to Leisa on the right and our newest member is Carol, just moved here down from the mountains near our city.  Our first unofficial meeting was when Lisa was pregnant with her daughter when she helped us tie a quilt for my son.  Her daughter is now 15 1/2.

Here’s a slideshow of our day, with lots of finishes.  The blue quilts with all different patches is another one we did together, when we had about 12 members.  Lisa was “headed for the borders” all day long, getting things done.  I didn’t catch a photo of Carol’s finishes, but she was working on flannel rag quilts for charity–the local hospital, and you’ll see Karen working on her bargello quilt.

As usual, WordPress puts in ALL the photos from the post, so you’ll see the above two again as well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I brought my Polaroid patches to show and one of Simone’s girls (soon-to-be-added member) asked me “What is a Polaroid?”  Gulp.  How do you explain the magic of what we saw when the picture would develop right before our eyes, rather than having to take film down to the drugstore?  These are young girls of the digital age, and the idea that it would take 5 minutes to get a photo is rather like us having to imagine hand-cranked ringer washers.  But she listened politely, and afterward had fun sorting through all the squares.

You’ll also see Lisa’s collection of EPP rose stars, and the other set of patches laid out is my Summer Treat quilt (click for the tutorial).  I hope to wrap that one up today, as well as work on my last two squares for the Far Flung Bee.  I’m still a little tired from yesterday, but it was a lovely day of quilting: our potluck was delicious (recipes are above under “Good Heart Quilters”), the quilting was fun and the company was divine!

Quilt Bee · Sewing


A couple of things on this post.  First–a gallery of ginghams from our Project Gingham.  I liked how Sherri did this on her blog and I guess I just wanted a record of all the projects spawned from that long line of garage sale boxes (and by the way, my quilter said she inherited about 20 of those boxes, and will look to see if there’s more gingham in there).

Stacked Coins from Krista of KristaStitched

My Granny Loves Gingham, from Cindy of Live a Colorful Life

Gingham Geese, by Rachel of The Life of Riley

Hucklebuck from Suz of PatchworknPlay

Kris from Duke Says Sew What has two projects: the wall hanging (above) and the yet unfinished gingham curtains (below)

and the last one:

Despite the Memo re: Gingham Day, Sue Does Her Own Thing

from Becky of SarcasticQuilter

Each of these quilters has told about their creative journey in using up the gingham they were sent, so if you’re curious, pay their blogs a visit.


You know how when your 9th grade teacher assigned you summer reading, of say, Beowulf, an epic ancient poem, and you ended up frittering away your days reading comic books and teen magazines?  I’m about there right now.  The Beowulf is equivalent to my Lollypop Trees, and the comic books?  Polaroids!

These are untrimmed, of course, because I’m participating in the *Picture-Perfect Polaroid Swap* of these little cuties over on Flickr, and they specify UNTRIMMED blocks.  Last night when it was a about a bazillion degrees outside and the day was expended, all I wanted to do was some mindless sewing while I listened to This American Life podcasts.  This was a perfect project.

This photo is from Karen of capitolaQuilter and she has a great tutorial on her blog if you want to whip some up.

Rachel of Stitched in Color (above) has a bunch of these little gems made up into a quilt.  And maybe Amy of Little Miss Shabby started the whole craze, with her invention for her Ringo Pie Bee?

At any rate, they are addicting. Here’s my first line of snaps, about 16 to a WOF (Width of Fabric) cut.

I cut out the 2 1/2″ squares for a while, then pieced them.  This is only half of the squares I cut.

After you sew on the top (or bottom) strip (refer to capitolaQuilter’s instruction) there’s a few pieces jutting out, so I laid down my ruler and cut them off.

I guess we could also call these things baseball cards, after the look of these 1910 rareties, inspired by that story about the grandson who found a treasure cache of early baseball cards in his grandfather’s attic.

Beowulf, aka Lollypop Trees, will have to wait because another piece of summer fun is a gathering of our little quilt group: Good Heart Quilters, started at least a decade ago by Lisa and a few others.  We seem to be too busy lately for our regular First Friday meet-up, so we planned an Open House of quilting tomorrow, with a potluck lunch.  I’ve already got my bag packed and ready to go.

And yesterday, this arrived, all the way from Australia!

I held the first two blocks of the Far Flung Bee Swap.

I pulled them right from their package, so forgive the wrinkles.  I was too excited.  Many thanks, Erika!

Quilts · Something to Think About · WIP

Milestone–100 Completed Quilts

I want to make a hold-in-the-hand book–full of clippings and writings and photos–about my quilts, following the example of my friend Lisa, and my father’s art journals (which we children all covet) and in keeping with my desire to leave some sort of legacy behind for whoever cares to know what I do, or create. I haven’t made much progress on the journaling part, but today–since I was moving at about sludge pace–I decided to update the list.  At least I could do that.

So I was surprised to notice that I have reached a milestone of sorts.

I have made 100 quilts.

It’s a loose compilation with these caveats: include very few tops (only two large quilt tops are included and a few minis, class samples for when I taught Amish quilts in Texas–the first time we all fell in love with solids), and no sewing projects.  So the era when I was sewing up a storm for my children, dressing them in clothes of my making, yielded very few quilts of any kind.  Those were mostly the ones to go on a bed, rather than express my creativity.

That did change, right about the Amish quilt craze time, when I made Sunshine and Shadow, a classic quilt comprised of one-inch squares, which I had laid out in the corner of my bedroom.  When my then-husband pitched his shoes off into that same corner that night as he went to relax, something in me snapped a little bit.  That was my art, my creativity.  Something I had done, which stayed done.  That slight shift canted me towards a greater appreciation and reverence for the act of creating, of making quilts.  I had found my medium in which to work. (And by the way, that husband is long gone.)

The one-hundredth quilt technically isn’t completed yet.  It’s Scrappy Stars, which you all know, but I did drop it at the quilter’s and it is a WIP for sure, but I’m counting it.

Near the end of our trip to New York, we wandered over to Grand Central Station via the elaborate subway system/tunnels.  We emerged into a new tunnel that had a banner embedded in the mosaic on the wall that said: “Dripping water hollows out a stone.”  I guess I feel a little bit like that today.  That my hours and days at the machine were like that, and all of sudden I look up and the decades of working with cloth and thread has yielded this body of work, a lovely surprise.


Of course, any good quilter still has a few quilts they are working on.  I’m reveling in the COMPLETED quilts today; next week I’ll detail some others that still need finishing.  Many thanks to Lee, of Freshly Pieced and her guest, Kati of the Blue Chair, for hosting us today on WIP Wednesday.

And many thanks to those who played along in Project Gingham.  Next post I’ll round up everyone’s project, plus give you a look at my first received Far Flung Bee blocks!