This is where I got stalled on Rosette #4 for The New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt, or as I call it, The Hot Mess. It may not turn out to be that, but we’ll see. I had rotated six of the blocks and it left chunky dark hard edges. Hmmmm, I told myself. Hmmmm.
I tried out the outer rosettes one night on the kitchen table. Shaking of head.
The solution was to subdivide the offending piece. The clunky outer bits are transformed, making what had looked like a snarling traffic circle into a lovely ring of batik-y writing.
Here’s the magic piece.
The finished rosette. This is number four, and the tenth month of the year starts in a couple of days, so that makes me only. . . eight months behind. This one was hard, not only because I was doing a lot of it during my recovery, but also because I got stuck at the traffic circle dilemma, and it took me a while to find a solution. But I feel pretty good about it now.
The good news is that the first mini from my series of four mini-swaps arrived: a delectible circle of houses from Diana in Virginia for the Kaffe Fasset Mini Quilt Swap. [I’m sending out *this* one.] I immediately placed it on my kitchen table where I can see it every day, crowned by my new Zulu-inspired woven basket I picked up at Visions Quilt Museum.
I think they are a perfect fit.
So why the post’s title? “Summer Stranglehold” sounds so ominous, like spooky stuff is happening and it’s not even Halloween. The spooky stuff is the ongoing I-Don’t-Feel-Like-Myself sort of body that I live in these days–it’s sort of mine and sort of not mine: maybe “not mine” because I want my old energy level back–a working brain would be helpful too. I realize that at a certain age (or sometimes certain stages, like pregancy, or nursing a baby) the body is dragging you around and you are in service to it, rather than the other way around, which is not how I think it should be, in my perfect world.
But I also was struck by how tired I was of the quilty stuff I’d been doing when I made the bee block for my bee-mate and I how I needed to break out a bit to freshen things up. The idea of Get The Stuff Done had taken priority over Enjoy Making the Stuff. So it was time for a break. . . a Mental Health and Creative Brain Break (which I even doubted I could do in my somewhat diminished condition).
So we drove to San Francisco to visit my brother.
I gave myself an assignment: Notice.
Notice new flavors, new shapes, new landscapes. Dig into the moment, and not let it go whizzing by, like the cool series of inverted triangles in the curved head of the oil pump, two pictures earlier, which can remind a quilter of this:
It was time to break out a bit (thank you, National Park Service, for this apt metaphor). So the second assignment I gave myself was to Notice Pattern.
The three above photos are snaps taken at my brother’s house. My sister-in-law is an amazing decorator.
The above is a star and currents map from an exhibit about the Southern Sea inhabitants; all of the above other photos are from the Oakland Museum. (The quilt is from a collection gathered by Eli Leon.) Then of course, I had to Notice Color, Notice Taste.
Celebrating our 26th Anniversary at Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley, California. A peak experience.
And to Notice Something Unusual. Like street art. Because we used to live there and have done everything on the Tourist Top Twenty lists, my sixteen-year-old niece suggested finding murals around San Francisco. Above is Clarion Alley. Then we wandered down through the Mission Area of town, finding single murals, before happening onto “Meeting of Styles” where multiple street artists were in the process of painting their art on Lilac and Osage Streets, between 22nd and 24th Avenues. The link takes you to an interesting video with prominent artists in the area. I loved watching them hold their rough-drawn sketch with one hand and executing it with a spray can of paint in the other. Maybe like cutting without a ruler in the improv quilting world?
(The last two are the same painting–just a couple of days apart. The second is from *here.*)
And the last assignment was to carry something home with me that would force me encourage me to keep noticing, such as fabrics from two fabric stores we visited.
My father has a saying, oft repeated: “The place that seems most dangerous is exactly where safety lies.” It took me a minute, but I finally figured out what this piece of street art said. In a creative world, perhaps breaking out of the summer stranglehold means being a bit dangerous, leaving careful behind.
Sewing This: Sometimes you just need a new direction when you are sick of your own sewing. The free tutorial for this block, from Sew Kylie, is found *here.* My bee-mate chose it for her month, and it was a lovely change. UPDATE 10/18: The pattern in three sizes is now found on Craftsy.
UPDATE June 2019: The pattern is no longer found on BluPrint/Craftsy, however it is now found on PayHip. This is her newest version, which includes three different sizes.
Here are four blocks together. The photo is from her previous blog.
Tasking This: Mostly I just sit around and stare at my Get To Work Book calendar (realizing that most pages have one entry on each: “nap”), but occasionally I can produce. Above are a few recent successes (a label from my Mini House Swap that my partner received–made in June–and yes, she loved it!), two Dumpling Pouches (which take all of 45 minutes each) and a re-working of a quilt square (made in 2006–I simply backed it, quilted it simply and bound it) into a flat pillow to cushion the pulling of the seat belt when I drive. Doesn’t that all look so productive?
Listening to This: Louise Penny’s tenth Inspector Gamache book. Number 11 (The Nature of the Beast) was released this fall, so I still have another to savor. Here’s the order of the books (better to read them in order):
Sometimes I feel like this lady here, moving at snail’s pace, trying to make my entrance, but know I’ll miss it somewhere. Slow-jo, or Missing the Sew-Jo seems to be a topic of conversation on Instagram and on blogs. It’s the end of summer for the northern hemisphere, and we’re all a little out of sorts with the hot weather and all. Frankly, I’m just happy to be on the snail these days, as for a long time I wasn’t doing anything but Recovery (it gets a capital letter around here). So here’s some of my snail-sewing for the last while.
Rainbow Gardens Quilt #148 18″ square
This started when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish the block I had planned for the Kaffe Fasset Mini Quilt Exchange. My friend Lisa and I had been talking about patterns that were from the 1960s era, and this morphed off of that, as I wanted to subdivide the center to allow for greater color gradation. I have the pattern and templates for sale in my PayHip shop.
I had fun customizing the quilting, using floral motifs in the floating center square, and geometric designs in the outer corner backgrounds. Someone on Facebook said it looked like the glowing camera lens from Hal in Space Odyssey, which is a completely creepy thought, if you’ve ever watched the movie. I prefer to think of it as walking through a large botanic garden, the rows of plants giving way in color as the varieties change, hence the name, Rainbow Gardens.
This was the original block, “Unnamed” from Woman’s Circle in 1963. This is from Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, which has been out of print for ages. However, the other day I noticed on her blog that she now has an e-book version of this amazing publication (scroll down on the left of HER blog for the link).
Here’s I how hang the minis: cut a large square and fold diagonally in half (this one is 6 1/2″ for an 18″ quilt) and sew it into the two seams top and side. Cut a dowel to fit across–it works great.
And the back of the quilt. I love this cheery print. Yes, I’ve obscured the name of who gets this, as we don’t send it out for a couple of weeks, and it’s forbidden to tell who our partner is. I hope she likes it, though.
I had intended this one to be made for the swap, but when I got to here, realized I just didn’t want to push forward on this, so went with the Rainbow Gardens design.
Love the back, with all the papers. This is an enlarged version of one of my circle blocks, and as soon as I get the mini quilt finished, I’ll put the PDF up on Craftsy.
Of course, once the pressure is off, the sewing can proceed apace, so then I was able to put the outer arcs on the design.
Then I got this far: center circle on and the background chosen and just didn’t like it. But since I’m not under a deadline, I had time to un-pin, re-think. I had put up this photo on social media with its twin (but with a different center circle), asking which center circle people liked. It was so evenly split, it told me that I hadn’t hit the home run on center circle choices. Back to the drawing board. . . and the quilt shop. (Can you tell I’m still riding a snail?)
I did get this far on Rosette #4 of The New Hexagon Millefiore block, then stalled. Later, ‘Mater.
The one day had a craving for Bibimbap (recipe *here*) and no energy to drive the hour to Orange County to get it, so had to make our own. While it sounds complicated, dicing and slicing and blanching all those vegetables, it took way less time than driving to my favorite restaurant and back, and now I have another recipe conquered.
Earlier I’d written about my mini-quilt for the Houses swap, posted a pattern and a brief tutorial, keying off another popular tutorial online. I’m sending off the quilt today (one day early–I just can’t stand waiting any more!), so here is the label for my quilt, a clone of the mini I’m mailing off to Indiana:
It was finished in that anxious week before surgery, and boy, was I weepy and sentimental, not knowing if I’d survive the surgery, or be diagnosed with cancer, or if they’d carve something up they shouldn’t. I just wanted to hide in my lovely home with my beautiful quilts and out-of-control vegetable garden. Yes, my mind can ruminate and imagine Worst-Case-Scenarios like no one else. So this is how I felt, and six weeks post-op, I still like the message. I’ll tell you what I put on my partner’s label. . . later.
And when really, it all is just too much, there’s always a spin through your Instagram pictures. . . or someone else’s. This is from a new follower of mine. I love all her knitted clothes for Barbie, plus all the cool poses in which she places Barbie. I say, let the fashion doll come up with the moves. I’m headed back to the snail while we get through the last hot month of summer. Yes, here in SoCal our summer always lasts until the middle of October. Can’t wait for fall, y’all!
Number 15 of the circles blocks in Shine: The Circles Quilt
About this time, I was running out of ideas for another two circle blocks, so of course I turned to the internet, but didn’t type in “quilt circle blocks.”
Instead I typed in “compass rose” as every map from the ancient days had an elaborate compass design in the corner, orientation the sea-faring ships to North, keeping them on track. I found several I liked from those old maps, and modified them to be suitable for my quilt, and drew them up in Electric Quilt 7:
The difference between the two is the subdivision of the spikes around the inner circle into two rays. I liked that, but I also knew a short cut so I wouldn’t lose my mind piecing them. If you like the solid rays in the inner circle, just don’t cut the patterns for that ray apart (but don’t cut them apart anyway. . . keep reading).
I have the final four patterns as a group up for sale on Payhip. I will post the tutorials each month until the set is complete. The finishing instructions pattern for Shine: The Circles Quilt is also listed on Payhip.
(Note from the 2020 Elizabeth: A new, revised pattern is coming soon, so I’ve removed the old ones from previous posts. Many thanks.)
Print four of these out at 100% scale. Cut them out, but count as you do this, because on one of these last patterns, I may have missed a beat or two and added an extra ray. BUT FIRST! To cut down on your EPP efforts, you can leave the rays and the diamond pieces together, cutting them out as a unit. I’ll show you what I mean, so please read this entire post before you snip snip snip.
Pull your fabrics, using a good range of colors and value (light to dark).
Okay, here’s what I mean about some time-saving. I didn’t cut the diamond apart. You can seam two strips together, then lay out your diamonds to cut. Here I am measuring for the diamond strip width (above, which will be 2″), and below for the rays (which will be 1 1/4″ inches wide). I use a lighter version and a medium version of the fabric color I chose so the difference will stand out. Above you can see the two colors, layered.
Seam the long strips together, then lay out your pieces, making sure that the center line of the ray is exactly on your seam, as shown. Trim away the excess like I did in the upper ray example.
Ditto for the diamonds. However, the layout of the pattern has you cutting some apart. No worries. Just tuck them up under the seam allowances (as shown in lower right diamond above) and proceed cutting around them and gluing them as normal. I made a command decision to make my seam allowances a wee bit smaller on these two pieces, as I didn’t need a full 1/4″ inch. The seam allowances are at about 3/16″ of an inch, just a bit narrower than usual.
After gluing them, I put them in a baggie with a printout of the drawing of the block, so I can keep things straight.
Since the outer golden diamonds are already sewn together (or if you constructed them more traditionally, stitch them together first, then come to this step), you can start sewing these golden diamonds to the outer orange point triangles, making sure that the curved edge of that triangle is pointed towards the eventual circle.
Sew all your groups; I did a grouping of three.
While I don’t have a photo for it (where was my mind?), stitch the rays to the inner circle points (the green points in my block interspersed with the blue double-rays). Do those in groups as well. Now to get them sewn together.
Find the lower center of the outer point, and pinch it, leaving a mark.
Match it up with the outer edge of a green inner circle point, and take a stitch, as shown.
Find the center of the next outer point, and put in a crease, as shown. Line up the ray with this crease. I sometimes like to put a single pin to keep me on track.
Stitch carefully, neither adding — nor subtracting — any ease, moving one stitch at a time around the arc.
Keep pinching in the centers, and matching up the rays until you’ve got this set together. Yours may look different than mine, in terms of how many rays you sewed together, or outer diamonds and points you sewed together. But the principle is the same for matching.
Stitch the next set of inner rays and points to the existing set.
Join the next outer set of diamonds and outer points to the existing, as shown.
Using the “pinch the center method,” join those two arcs together.
Here we go again. This time I sewed on the outer diamonds/points unit to the existing.
Then I stitched the inner points/rays together on one side only. Although it may look like it, the circle is not stitched together!! Leave it as a giant arc on both sets.
Continue the process of pinching to find the center, and matching it up with the rays. It will serpentine in your hands as you work. Perfectly normal and easier to do than if you had joined them both into circles. (Don’t do that!)
That outer arc seam is almost done. I left the last orangey-red bit unsewn. Now I’ll stitch the blue ray to the green inner point. Then stitch the orangey outer point to that inner circle. And last, I’ll close the outer yellow-diamond-orangey-point circle.
Don’t you feel like you’ve crossed the oceans, charting by a compass and the stars only? But look how beautifully it came together–no puckers anywhere. Just move slow and steady.
You knew I’d work that constellation fabric in here somewhere, didn’t you. Yes, it’s my outer arcs, and I now stitch them into place. Take a stitch at that outer edge, just over the yellow points, to hook the two blue arcs together. Just a single stitch, to keep them together around the circle.
I love seeing all the papers lined up in a row.
Remove all but the outermost blue arc papers, flip it over and give your circle a press.
In thinking about what size center circle you’ll want, lay your Karen Kay Buckley Circle templates out on the block. You’ll want a circle that covers the open area, but doesn’t hide the points, like the one above. The one below is too big: it covers too much of the rays’ inner points and makes it look like something is missing.
This was the dimension of circle I used. Trace your circle on your chosen fabric, then cut 3/8″ around it for the seam allowance. Stitch a running stitch around the outer edge, then slip the plastic template inside and draw up the thread to enclose the circle. Give it a shot of spray starch, press it, then let it cool and slip out the circle. I show how do do this on *this post.*
Cut a square 14 1/2″ and find the centers, as you’ve done for the other blocks. At this point, at block number 15, you are used to doing some of the steps, so if you are joining me just for this block, I’d suggest browsing back through other Circles blocks (see tab Shine: The Circles Quilt EPP above) to learn the tips and pointers. Appliqué the circle to the block.
I always pin around, then when I get to a join area, I first fold in one side, then the other, before continuing on (see below).
That’s it for this block! The tutorial for the last circle block, Block #16, will post October 1st, then our series is complete. While you work on your blocks, I hope to work on the quilting of this quilt and have it ready to show at the beginning of October. Have fun stitching!