Wonky Hearts Aflutter

Wonky Hearts_7

How do I make nearly 60 wonky, improv-y hearts and not go crazy? Now there’s a challenge.

Wonky Heart Illustration

I started here, with a rough pattern of how big I wanted my “improv” wonky heart to be. The free PDF file is available for download.  It finishes roughly at 5 1/2″ wide by 7 1/2″ tall.

Click here: Unfussy Wonky Heart

Wonky Hearts_2

I started with the heart pieces. I layered up seven pieces of different pink and red fabrics, pinned on the heart pieces and placing my ruler along their outer edge, I cut around them with a rotary cutter: it wouldn’t really matter if I was hyper-accurate…close enough would do.  I repeated this nine times.

Wonky Hearts_2a

Then I did the same thing with the background pieces, but was careful with my directional fabrics: I kept the pieces oriented as they would sew into the heart block.

Wonky Hearts_1

Everything’s stacked up.

Word Quilt in Process

These photos were taken over two weeks’ time, as I tried to fit all the words together. Words were made in The Spelling Bee, from 2016.

I shuffled the fabrics so no two fabrics would be together, and made a sample heart (at the top of the post). I pinned it next to the quilt of words I’d been working on, closed up the machine, turned off the iron, and enjoyed the sunset:

Sunset July 2019

Word Quilt Mock-up

When I woke up in the morning, I decided to try a digital mock-up of the quilt with the hearts as a border, as I wondered if the hearts were too big.  I sent the photo to my two of my quilting buddies and they gave me two thumbs’ up.  I’ll probably try to sneak in a narrow red/pink border between the quilt center and the outer border of hearts.

 

I’ve become braver about being wonky and improv-like, skewing seams, overlapping, cutting off points, generally going at it easy, instead of pristine.

Wonky Hearts_5

I have a few more hearts, now, and while the widths vary from 5 1/4″ to 5 1/2″ (I just trim them where it feels right), I’m forcing them to 7 1/2″ tall (that’s before seaming).  Because I am tired of cutting off the points, I’ll now be cutting about 1/2″ off the bottom heart section before I seam it to the top part.

This is one of two long-term UFOs that haunt me in my dreams.  The other one is Small World, which I keep in parts in a basket in my shelves.  I do have hopes on finishing that one, too.  I signed up for a Jen Kingwell class at Road to California in January; I suppose one goal would be to have it finished so she could sign it?  Right.

July Gridsters Block 2019

In other sewing news, I finished July’s Gridster Bee blocks for my beemate Linda and sent them off.

 

And I’m trying this new type of tomato, developed for scorching temperatures.  This year we were almost chilly and foggy until June, then the temps shot up high.  I haven’t had good luck with my garden in three years, after a stunning first year of beginner’s luck.  But hope is a thing with feathers, said Emily Dickensen, or my case, tomatoes.

 

I’ve also started quilting City Streets, a quilt of my own design.

Quilting City Streets_5

I’d picked up this Magnifico-cousin (same type of thread) when I visited Superior Threads last time.  It’s color 101, and it looks like a gold thread, but isn’t a metallic thread:

Quilting City Streets_4

I hope I don’t run out before I finish this quilt.

Random Quilter

Finally, in my discussion about how the internet irritated me, I read a ton of blogs, some of which I can’t quite remember.  But I did take a screen shot of this gem, a featured quilter on a truly dedicated quilter’s blog. (Given what he says about his favorite fabric color, I don’t think he would like my gold thread.)  However, I leave you with the hope that you, too, have started quilting several times, as well as the ability to make the quilts in your head.

 

 

Far Away Doors • Quilt Finish

FarAwayDoors_1

Doors opening, closing on us
by Marge Piercy

Maybe there is more of the magical
in the idea of a door than in the door
itself. It’s always a matter of going
through into something else. But

while some doors lead to cathedrals
arching up overhead like stormy skies
and some to sumptuous auditoriums
and some to caves of nuclear monsters

most just yield a bathroom or a closet.
Still, the image of a door is liminal,
passing from one place into another
one state to the other, boundaries

and promises and threats. Inside
to outside, light into dark, dark into
light, cold into warm, known into
strange, safe into terror, wind

into stillness, silence into noise
or music. We slice our life into
segments by rituals, each a door
to a presumed new phase. We see

ourselves progressing from room
to room perhaps dragging our toys
along until the last door opens
and we pass at last into was.

FarAwayDoors_2

Far Away Doors
Quilt No. 216 • 49 1/2″ wide by 43 1/2″ tall
Some blocks sent to me by the Gridsters Bee

Finished!

I originally named it “Home-keeping Hearts” but that was just its milk name as it had just been born and I was in a cheezy mood of  Hearts and Deep Meanings and All That.  Marge Piercy said it best about doors, even quilty ones inspired by far away doors from Dublin, Ireland:

“the image of a door is liminal, / passing from one place into another / one state to the other, boundaries // and promises and threats. Inside / to outside, light into dark, dark into / light, cold into warm, known into / strange, safe into terror, wind // into stillness, silence into noise / or music.”

The photograph on the truck?  It went like this: on our way to get some Vietnamese bùn châ for lunch, we trekked down to our newest neighbors’ home to ask if we could please pose the quilt on their cool car, and so I knocked on their door and it opened to a crying baby in the other room and a smiling baby in his father’s arms and good-natured parents, owners of a new-to-them truck and the mother’s name was Genesis and the father’s name was Nate and we introduced ourselves and they said yes, of course, and then they headed back inside because it was about a hundred degrees outside, as they smiled and waved and shut the door behind them, the  lovely music of a home with a young family and a Ford Ranger just made for quilt posing.

FarAwayDoors_7

And so, this variation of Merrion Square is finished.  I pass out the how-to sheet as a freebie when people take my Merrion Square classes, so hopefully you’ll be in one soon.  Check my schedule to see if there’s a workshop near you.

Far Away Doors_LABEL

And finally, many thanks to all who entered the giveaway for the ruler.  The winner has been notified by email and I’ll get the ruler off to her this week.  I am leaving the post up because there are so many great responses to my question.  You are all a significantly talented and experienced group of quilters — thank you for your ruler advice!

FarAwayDoors_6

Can We Talk About Rulers? (Giveaway)

Stack of Rulers

When I teach,often there seems a disconnect between what rulers students have and what rulers they need.  So I thought I’d write a post talking about the basics that I wish everyone could have.  [And while I’m at it, rotary cutters need a mention, too.  The largest I’d recommend in a classroom size is 45mm, for a variety of reasons.  I think the larger ones are less helpful, and sometimes even dangerous.]  

Read through to the end, leave a comment telling which ruler you use the most, and why, and you can be entered for a Giveaway (US only).  Giveaway now closed; thanks to all who entered!

Vintage Folding Ruler

I use this folding carpenter’s ruler when measuring the width and length of quilts.

I got started on my ruler fetish honestly, when a mild-mannered shop owner named Carolyn hosted weekly class based on making a sampler quilt.  And every week, she’d hold up a new ruler saying that we needed this to make the block that week.  My friend Leisa and I would exchange glances, knowing that Carolyn was a Ruler Enabler of the Worst Kind: she made it so necessary, that you just knew you couldn’t go on without it.  Because of this, I’ve used a ton of different rulers, and have two drawers and bin full of those plexiglass gridded items.

Tips:

  • Please don’t buy the cheap rulers.  Take your time to accumulate these, and buy sturdy rulers, as too thin rulers can warp out of shape.
  • Buy rulers that have some sort of coating on the back, preventing slippage.
  • Please buy rulers that have accurate measurements on them, and enough gridlines on them.
  • I am not partial to any one brand, but I did notice that most of my rulers seem to be from Creative Grids, Omnigrid, and Olfa.

I wish every student, every quilter had these basics:

rulers 6 x 24

6″ x 24″ ruler

What it’s used for: large initial cuts off yardage, long narrow cuts of yardage

rulers 6.5 a 12.5 inches

6.5 x 12.5″ ruler

What it’s used for: when working in a smaller space (some classrooms are beyond tiny, and some of our sewing spaces are too), it’s useful to fold the fabric to get the longer cuts.  Also good for truing up smaller parts of blocks.  Good for even-ing up sewn sections.

Caveat: some people hate having that extra 1/2″ on the edges of their ruler.  I got used to it and appreciate it, but for some, it can be distracting.

Small Square Rulers

Small square ruler

With this size, you can rule the world.  You don’t need specialty Flying Geese rulers, if you know how to use this.  The small one is easy to flip around, when truing up blocks, and easy to use to cut smaller shapes, when scrap sewing.

Square rulers, ranging from 6.5″ – 9.5″ – 12.5″

What it’s used for: I use the 6.5 the most, as I believe in truing up sections of a block before sewing it together.  But the other sizes are great for truing up larger blocks, helping you trim your corner of quilt borders evenly.  One day I even purchased a 16.5″ gigantor square ruler, and believe it or not, I do use it more than I thought I would.

BlocLoc 6.5 inch

Bloc-Loc ruler for trimming up Half Square Triangles

What it’s used for: Keeping your sanity when truing up HSTs.  They are expensive and I rarely see them on sale.  I’d start with a 6.5″ BlocLoc and invest from there.  Here are some of the others I’ve picked up over the years:

BlocLoc Rulers

Specialty Rulers I think should be in your stash:

Triangle Rulers

A few of my angle rulers

30-60-90 ruler 

Some times, for some patterns, you need one of these, like when you make Annularity.

Tri-Recs Ruler

Tri-Recs ruler

If you are a traditional quilter, or jump in on one of Bonnie Hunter’s Thanksgiving Quilt-A-Longs, you may find yourself needing one of these one day.

Essential Triangle Tool

Bonnie Hunter’s Essential Triangle Ruler

I only purchased this because she said I would need it.  Since then, I ‘ve used it a ton of times in making triangles, and now I consider it one of my go-to rulers.

rulers Cute Cuts 4.5 inch

Lori Holt’s 4.5″ Trim Up Ruler.  Careful.  You can go broke on these, as she has them in every size from newborn to old age.  I have only the 4.5″ and the 8.5″  But what makes these unique is that is is a form of a “centering ruler,” a tool I had to purchase when I studied Clothing and Textiles in college (and which I still use today).

rulers 2.5 by 6.5 inch

2.5″ by 6.5″ ruler.  Verrry handy for trimming up.

 

Giveaway Ruler

P.S. I had this toy from Berlin way before Megan Rapinoe led the US Team to a World Cup in soccer.

I hope you’ll contribute to this conversation by leaving a comment, telling us what your favorite ruler is, what brand it is (if that’s important), and why you like it.  That will enter you in a Giveaway for a ruler, as I’ll be sending out (USA only) a 6″ ruler, courtesy of my pocketbook and a recent bonzo coupon at a national chain fabric store.

Leave a comment below to enter the giveaway.  I will notify the winner by email in a few days.  Thanks for entering!

Although the giveaway is now closed, and the winner has been notified, the comments here are a wealth of information and helpful ideas, so I hope you’ll take a look at them.  There are a lot of very experienced quilters out there! Thank you all for entering.

Irritated by the Internet

Map of the Internet

classic visual map of the internet, image can be attributed to artist Barrett Lyon

Lately I’ve been irritated by the Internets.  And by blogs, although I’m someone who still reads them, someone who still writes them, and still thinks the longer form is useful.

Blog

This post is divided into parts.

All is not well in Blogland, and like the song from Music Man where he sings about Trouble and it means the new billiard table in town, our trouble is the concept of “monetize.”  It can be lucrative to place ads on blogs, and I have no problem if  a blogger wants to make some cash.  Money is always good, and hey, it’s their blog.

But I do get irritated when some of the ads have positively gotten out of hand, so much so that ads pop up on top of pictures, intrude on the blogger’s writing, and blink and pop across content. Some of the ads are disgusting (see below for examples), with that creepy crawly worms thing the worst.  Because of this, I had stopped reading some blogs, but in the end, I liked the quilter and what they did, so had to find new ways to read.

Blog

Using a Reader to read blogs

So I started by using a reader. I subscribe directly to some blogs, and their post notifications come directly into my emailbox.  But I don’t want all my blogs to come there.  A reader will gather all your reading into one list, and can categorize the blogs (I read both ways).  One well-known reader in quiltland is Bloglovin’ but I have moved over to Feedly.com.

I used to use Bloglovin’ a lot, but  I found it frustrating at how many clicks I had to use to get the blog to leave a comment (I love a good conversation).  And then I started noticing this:

Bloglovin ID blog

They won’t send you to the blog, they send you somewhere in their universe, which as a blog writer, is not helpful news.  It means a reader might might never actually visit a blog, to see the layout, the way the blogger has designed their space. Some writers believe that Bloglovin’ has taken content (without permission) for their in-house blog, broadcasting it on their website.  The blogger-who-wrote-it will not see any of these comments.  Yes, this has happened to me, and frankly, it’s kind of weird, like somebody stole my content.  They will link back to me, but it’s after the fact, so that if I’m not on top of it backstage, I will never know it happened.

Waving goodbye

So I said, I’m done, and left them for Feedly.

Feedly4

opening pages

I never log in with Facebook, instead setting up an account using my email.

Feedly Screeshot

This is what I see when my Feedly page pops up, with the category Fabrics/Quilting highlighted. I chose the magazine view, but you could also choose a list view.  It allows me to read the first few lines of any blog post, and then decide if I want to expand it.  I find I am actually reading more of my colleagues’ posts this way, as I also don’t lose them in the deluge of emails.

The blogs I added (see the very bottom left: +ADD CONTENT to add the blogs you want), I arranged by categories.  The numbers show the unread blogs.

Feedly2

Here’s Afton’s Quilting Mod, as an example.  I clicked on it from my list and the full blog shows up.  I scroll through and read it, then decide I want to leave a comment.

Feedly3

At the bottom of the page, I click on VISIT WEBSITE, and I’m sent to her blog in a new window in a new tab (although this preference can be changed).  Notice the address that shows up in the lower left — I’m referred directly to Afton’s blog to leave a comment, a real plus.

Blog

Using the Reader View in your browser to make posts easier to read.

Reader View 1

Sometimes I’m not in my Feedly, and have clicked on one of my ad-filled blogs. So I use the Reader View.  Safari has always had this, and now Firefox has it too.  First, Safari.

There is an icon of stacked documentson the left in the address bar.

Reader View 2

Click on this, and you’ll be taken to the above view (compare them).  All you are getting is the writer’s content, plus their photos.  All animations, ads, colors, and videos are removed (although you will see placeholders for them).  Click on the stack icon to go back to their website.

Reader View Firefox

I just downloaded the newest version of Firefox.  Above is the webpage without the Reader View.

Reader View Firefox1

The webpage with Reader View.  Click on the little grey page icon on the right of the address bar to be taken to their Reader View.

See also those little greyed icons at the upper left?  Those are also new.  I’m quite interested in the third one, the soundwave icon.  My mother is mostly blind, and now I can now have my Dad set up the webpage for her in Reader View and it will read it to her.  Hooray for easy accessibility for webpages!

Blog

Ads placed to drive the blog writers to pay.  It worked!Quilt Abecedary title
I’d developed an alphabet of improv letters when I ran the Spelling Bee blog some time ago.

 

quilt-abecedarysm

Knowing that if I put them down somewhere in my Sewing Room, they would disappear, I documented how I made them and put them up on a blog.  For a while, WordPress and I had a bargain: they could put up an ad on the bottom of my post, and I’d keep using their stuff for free (I had converted this blog over to a paid blog some years earlier).

Then I started seeing this:

Bad Ads

The dreaded creepy crawly ads I hated were now in between my text, obliterating the the instructions for my wonky and fun letters and words (see the one in the box in the upper left).  I didn’t want to pay a yearly fee to have them keep the ads out (and I suspect — just a little — that some of the more obnoxious ads were designed to encourage me to pay), so I did the next best thing: I moved the entire blog.

Quilt Abecedary New 2019

It’s now back in Google’s arms at: https://quiltabecedary.blogspot.com.  I have links from this blog, above, so you don’t have to remember the address.  But if you ever need some wonky improv letters and words, don’t forget that it’s there.

Blog

White I spend a lot of time on Instagram, I still think that there is a place in our lives for blogs: it’s where we put up tutorials, we comment on the state of the world, we have space to write about quilts and things that interest us (by the way, congratulations if you made it this far).  I don’t want to see blogs go away, so I hope this post will make your reading easier.

NOTE:  If you want to start making your own Feedly list, I’ve put just about all the blogs I read way below, in the footer, but like anything, it’s a work in progress and subject to change.  I update it about every quarter.

 

Field Flowers • Quilt Finish

Field Flowers_1

One of the challenges of finishing a quilt is figuring out where to photograph the thing.  So one night last week my husband and I went over to University of California-Riverside (UCR) to find some places that would set off the two quilts I was toting around.

I’d originally thought about the Botannic Gardens, with all their lush greenery and wooden benches; I’ve snapped photos in this place before, and Field Flowers, with its scalloped edges is so old-fashioned looking I wanted to head there.  It was closed.  As we walking back to the car to leave, I spotted this old greenhouse.  UCR is noted for its agricultural emphasis, as we breed a lot of the oranges you are eating now (Cuties, anyone?).  This greenhouse seemed the perfect place, for my husband, with three broken ribs, to be able to hold up the quilt.  (By the way, he has a Qh.D: a doctorate in Quilt Holding.)

Renaissance Figures Holding Ladybird

I also recruited two bystanders from the museum in Berlin to help me show off Field Flowers. Although their expressions are a little wooden, they held it in place without moving, so I was able to get a good photograph.

Field Flowers_2a

The center of this quilt was quilted by my regular quilter, Cathy of CJ Designs.  She left the basting in the borders and then turned it over to me to finish up those scalloped edges.  Since the pattern is by Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, I knew she’d have good ideas of how to finish the quilt, so I pretty much mimicked what her quilter did.  More information about the pattern can be found on *this post.*

Bias Binding.jpg

I followed Sherri’s directions for cutting bias binding, but used a 20-inch square as I’d added more hexies to my quilt.  I needn’t have, as her directions would have provided enough length.

Field Flowers_2b

The single fold binding went smoothly around each curve, and didn’t add too much bulk.

Field Flowers_2c

Earlier that day, we’d gone over to Gless Ranch, a local purveyor of oranges, as they had old farm equipment around their property, and lots of (newly trimmed) orange trees:

Field Flowers_3a

Field Flowers_3

Still my favorite place.

 

When we got home, I noticed it had gotten dirty from traipsing around, so threw it in a cool-water wash with a couple of color catchers (first invented in the UK, by the way), and dried it until almost dry on a low heat.  Like all other quilters everywhere, I love how the washed quilt looks (although I also like unwashed quilts).  Lay flat to dry, so there is no transferring of ink to other damp spots.  (As me how I know this.)

Field Flowers_6Field Flowers_6a

Field Flowers_5

Me, standing with Field Flowers in a field of ferns.

Happy Photographing!

Happy July 2019 • This and That!

Teeny Tiny Flag Quilt_3

In this episode of This-and-That posts, I wanted to lead off with a little freebie for your Fourth of July: the instructions for a Teeny Tiny Flag quilt.  You can whip this up quickly, and it slips over a dimestore 4″ x 6″ acrylic frame.  I made one recently for a friend in the hospital: no flowers or balloons were allowed.  This brought some cheer to her stay as she loves red, white and blue.

Teeny Tiny Flag Quilt Illustration

I thought you might like the how-to’s, so download the PDF file (please re-download this new file–earlier this morning, there was a glitch):

Teeny Tiny Flag Quilt

I finished it off with some cute buttons.  For more Tiny quilts (and Teeny-Tiny quilts), visit the Tiny Quilts tab, above.

Sunday Best

Here’s a new favorite book of mine, Sunday Best Quilts, by Sherri L. McConnell and Corey Yoder.  Sherri and I have been friends for a while ever since we shared English assignments for the classes we were teaching, at two different community colleges in two different states.  I also appreciate her wonderful quilt designs, and have enjoyed her fabric lines (favorites are Bright Sun, Creekside and Front Porch).

I expect certain things out of books these days.  I’ve stopped buying everything that’s new as I was pretty burned out with what I call “vanity” books — a famous quilter gets a book and really, it was nothing new under the sun.  So now I am pretty selective about what I’ll add to my quilt library.  The book has to have 1) a new way of looking at familiar quilts, 2) a thorough (but not mansplained) direction section, and 3) great photographs, plus 4) the writing has to be pristine and readable, no small feat.

This book fulfills all four of those criteria. If you are looking for a new book to add, I can recommend this one.

Scissors and Negative People

Truth.

Guild Rummage Sale_3

So our Guild had a rummage sale this month, well, really it was a Clean-Out-The-President’s-Sewing-Room/Garage sale.  Evidently people had been bringing her stuff for many years; husbands would call when their wives had moved to Assisted Living, and leftovers from classes all just sort of congregated in her garage.  Time for it all to go.

Guild Rummage Sale_2

I am always fascinated by what quilters used to do Back in the Day.  Like these vests.  Did we really a) have haircuts like that, and b) dress like this?

Guild Rummage Sale_4

Another binder had templates with lots of code numbers on them, and then these illustrations.  I loved “Home Grown” #8, and think it would make a great block in a quilt.  No, I didn’t bring that one home.

Guild Rummage Sale_1

But I felt like I scored with this box of “vintage” magazines (really, they are just 20-30 years old–how is that vintage?).  I’d bought a few things here and there, stuffing my dollars in the Rummage Sale Jar, but at the end of the night, when so much was left, she said, “Take it all away!” So we did.

Ladybird Prep_2

I wanted to post some construction images from Ladybird, the quilt from the last post. At this point I was thinking: what am I doing? This was the quilting after the first day. I threw it on the spare bed and left it there for two days.

Ladybird Prep_3

Better.

Ladybird Prep_4

In the end, I was pretty happy with it, finding lots of ways to be creative with mostly straight lines.

SAVE ME THE PLUMS -- cover

Finished this book.  I loved it and I’m not a New Yorker.

I had wanted to leave you with my larger flag quilt, all quilted and bound, but it didn’t happen.  So Happy Fourth of July, with a quilt top:

BetsysCreation_4thJuly

Long may it wave! (click to see it in action)