stars shining brightly

stars shining brightly
quilt #237 • 35″ square

This is the second sawtooth star quilt top I made during the Time of Covid, but that first one is still awaiting quilting. One night, dragging around, looking for something to do besides all the things I’d done every single day for the last few months, I thought I would just knock this one out, get it done.

It had held me up for a while, as I kept thinking that it had to have precision ruler work in all those fine-pointed stars that were made when I was testing out my Sawtoothmania pattern, but in the end I decided that Done Was Best.

I’m about ready to sew the labels on the back, but I’ll pin them on then wait for a Zoom call to finish this up.

We snucked sneaked zipped up to Utah for a very quick trip last weekend to go to my niece’s wedding, dithering about it so badly that it wasn’t until the night before that we actually made our final decision. You know…covid. But the evening was idllyic, the food delicous, the bride and her father (my brother) both giddy and slightly delirious with happiness, so I’m glad I got to see that. She had three pages of vows, he had two pages, and all of us old marrieds are thinking: seriously? But in the blush of youth, why not pledge your troth in a really big way? Life will do what it does, and I’m thrilled they both climbed in the same buggy for the ride.

While going through photos the other day, I found this screenshot. It’s the headline that makes it delicious. Or awful, depending on how your day is going. Yep, it’s not like we wear those kinds of clothes in the photo anymore, right?

So I fell down the Riley Blake Gem Stones ombré fabrics rabbit hole. Here are some brights from The Cotton Cure, complete with a fun piece of candy and a sticker (which I put on the front of my calendar that I still am having a hard time filling out…who needs calendars these days?) I wish I could unfurl the fabrics for you to see the wonderful gradation of color and hue.

Here is another batch of half-yards from Quilt Expressions, who included this little note pad. These two shops know the way to any woman’s heart is a little gift. I found both these shops by doing a search on ETSY for this fabric, which led me to them.

All of them together.

Plans? Another Triad Harmony quilt, as I have my first live-online class with this pattern in a couple of weeks, when I Zoom into the Coastal Quilters for an evening and a fun Saturday. I’m starting work on the password-protected page on this website, shooting videos, freaking out when I try to edit them. You know, the whole digital experience of teaching these days.

Lastly, we are saying good-bye to too many people these days. The flags at half-mast are for Judge Ginsberg, and the 20,000 flags in front are to honor the over 200,000 dead due to Covid-19, since March. I wrote about the first 100,000 dead some months ago, and I struggled at this milestone. Are we not talking about it because we are numb? Are we not making a big deal of because it’s an election year and all the rahrah is distracting us? Or, more soberly, are we not noting it with fervor because we expect that soon there will be a 300,000 milestone, maybe even a 400,000 and we want to save something for that event?

This last idea scares me to death, for that means that many more people we love will be gone, from grandparents to aunts to friends and neighbors, almost sliding out of our lives without much notice. All that history. Gone. All those relationships. Gone. All those memories that will have to stand in place of these who died of this disease; gone too soon, they now grace the heavens, stars shining brightly.

I wish for all who remain behind, solace in their sorrow, and hopefully a quilt somewhere to curl up in on a bad day. Take care everyone. Wear your masks. Be kind.

We are not out of this yet.

My grandmother (left), my great-grandmother (right) and my Aunt Alfarette as a child, all wearing masks during the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

This and That: Pattern Release, Quilts, and Variations on the Puss-in-the-Corner Block

Recently QuiltMania Magazine and I entered into a collaboration — one of those collaborations that finds you in the middle of the night cleaning out the front closet, or tidying up the bookcase in the family room, or hunting all your sewing studio for your favorite piece of fabric. So I tidied up rewrote wrote a new finishing pattern and it’s now up for sale on PayHip. This pattern provides the setting templates and instructions for putting all those circles together cohesively.

Eventually I’ll put out a pattern with all the blocks, but for now, the Shine series consists of the free ones on QuiltMania, four more blocks for purchase, and this pattern to set the quilt together.

The original pattern was from my write-it-up-in-Microsoft-Word days, all the while plugging in poorly lit photos of the steps. Now it has many illustrations, as I’m finally getting the hang of my creative software, and what I don’t know how to do, I’ve figured out a few workarounds. The above illustration was one of those.

I made up a new EPP circle pattern, Summer Day, and threw that in at the end, figuring whoever checks this out would like a freebie.

Last week I taught a live-online lecture for the Alabama Station Quilt Guild, and the Criss-Cross Quilt below was sent to me by Gisele, one of the participants. I love the colors she chose and thought the quilt was really terrific.

A few weeks ago my friend Mary of ZippyQuilts sent me a photo of her version of my Merrion Square pattern, made larger as it had a specific size need. I love her interpretation and the cute bunnies in the town square.

Last year, in April 2019, I received this comment from Karin on an old post:

“I’m just embarking on making this quilt (Crossed Canoes) as a memory quilt for my parents. We lost my brother, an avid canoeist, in December. Thank you for that idea! I’m making mine with my brother’s shirts and a few other fabrics from my stash for extra vibrancy.” My original post was about my sister and her group of friends making a memorial version of Crossed Canoes quilt for a friend. I love this pattern, and this post tells that story as well as provides a free downloadable pattern of this block.

Last post I had put up our Gridsters Bee Block for September, attributing it to a variation of Puss-in-the-Corner block.

On further look, it is more like a variation of Illinois, from the periodical Hearth and Home, published from the 1880s to the 1930s.** What a difference a few well-placed color shifts can make! What would happen if I made a few color shifts, or line shifts, I wondered? The following riot of squares and triangles ensued. In my defense, it was late, and I was too tired to do the dishes, so I sat down to play with what my friend Janet calls “a quilter’s video game,” our quilting software.

These are grouped by first, the block, then a grouping of possible quilt designs. There’s a lot so feel free to just scroll quickly.

The basic Puss in the Corner block. I guess those little square blocks are the farmhouse cat, tucked away in the corner sleeping.

Basic Quilt with no sashing. If you squint, you can start to see a secondary pattern emerge. #needshelp

So I added some color. It needs some value shifts, I think.

Variation. I cleared out the undergrowth.

This final rendition has some different versions of coloring the blocks, along with some sashing.

I thought the prominance of the flying geese might make for some goose tracks throughout the quilt.

Here’s the basic Illinois block, in the coloration from Hearth and Home publication.

Okay. Maybe we could do something with this one.

I must have been really tired to use so much purple.

Okay, how about I keep the flying geese and Puss-in-the-Corner corner blocks, but just turn them all inward-facing?

Busy, but could be fun as a scrappy quilt, playing around with where the blocks touch. Of course, our quilting foremothers would have always had sashing, right?

This was a neighbor to Puss in the Corner, and is called Big T.

I went this direction first, swapping out the center. Nah.

Here’s the variations of that block. I kind of like how it looks like the corner edges are folded down.

Here’s what I played with, all capsulized. And below are the blocks in white, and then further down, a PDF of the pattern templates.

Final thoughts: The top left block looks like it has more possibilities, less places to call a halt to other ideas. The other three blocks kind of box in the quilter, confining the creativity to the block itself. I would like to try matching these up with other nine-patch variations, and see what kind of quilts those combos could yield.

Here are the basic block PDF files for download. They all make a 12″ block.

Happy Stitching!

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**This information was gleaned from the quilter’s bible, The Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman.

Creatives Talk

Iris van Herpen designs

Somewhere between the shock of a pandemic shutting the entire world down and its ripple effects, and this month’s realization that this quarantine stuff — if everyone plays nice — will probably go on for another year, I found an article where two creative forces, the designer Iris van Herpen and the choreographer Damien Jalet had a conversation.

It was May 2020, and after holding our breath since mid-March, we slowly began to exhale, wondering how we were going to get through this, would we ever get through this, and how to pick up the pieces of lives, covid-style. And then this article came into view (one in a series from The Big Ideas in the New York Times).

As you can see from van Herpen’s designs, she is not your average fashion designer. So this excerpt surprised me (Damien Jalet, asking the question):

Stanley Kubrick said that some of the artistic failures of the 20th century came from an obsession with total originality, and that innovation didn’t happen through abandoning the classical art form of your own discipline. . . Does the question “Is what I’m doing original?” ever come up in your creative process?

cotton quilt blocks from 1890, from here

At one point in our quilting world, we quilters spent a lot of time and spilled a lot of ink (figuratively speaking) over this issue. We were rabid with the question of who came up with this idea first? Who was the first one on the planet to draw a particular block, make a particular quilt, yada yada yada.

Scrappy Stars, from here

Ms. van Herpen replies:

Nothing comes out of nothing, so the craftsmanship that we master we can attribute to a long evolution of craftsmanship and innovation combined throughout so many centuries. And we are looking at that constantly. So in that sense, I don’t believe at all in originality. But at the same time we are combining it with technologies of today and newer techniques… Without the knowledge of the traditional craftsmanship, we would not be able to integrate these new techniques at all. So they really need each other.

Nothing comes out of nothing. This implies that we quilters, without the history of what has come before us, would not be able to create our designs and our quilts. In her words, “we really need each other.”

Log Cabin quilt, 1870

Back to Kubrick’s idea. I remember in my earlier days striving mightily to create something totally my own, something that had no origin from anything that we were familiar with. Anywhere. My early attempts were, as he says, “failures” as they “came from an obsession with total originality.”

D.C. Dots & Dithers, from here

Slowly I began to remember that when I was in college, in photography class, one of my professors noted that we don’t have to be original, that most of the best ideas are really only 10% new — anything more and they would be too far out of the mainstream to be accepted or enjoyed. An article on The Next Web reiterates this:

There is no such thing as a new idea. One of the most beautiful things about humanity is our ability to build on each other’s ideas, making small tweaks and giant leaps into new innovations. That doesn’t mean your ideas aren’t potentially interesting and even important — just don’t ever call them “original.”

The idea, that I don’t have to be original or new or startling or gee-whiz-bang, and that I can just make a solid quilt with good color choices and a somewhat fresh take, is a relief.

Criss-Cross Color

from Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Quilt patterns: a four-patch block known as a Lattice block

from here

This month’s Gridster Bee Block, chosen by Bette has its origins in a Churn Dash variation, known as Puss in the Corner, from Nancy Page in the 1920s:

I admit, sometimes I doodle around and then hit Barbara Brackman’s book to see what our early quilters did, and often what I think is something I’ve discovered, is actually on the pages of the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. There’s a whimsical sort of — well, of course — that goes on, but also another link from me to those women long ago. I honor this connection to our “classical art form of [our] own discipline.”

Happy Stitching!

SHINE: The Circles Quilt • Collaboration with QuiltMania

SHINE: the Circles Quilt

First I’m going to tell you the short version.

Shine is going back out into the world again, this time in collaboration with QuiltMania Magazine. If you are a subscriber to their newsletter, you’ll receive access to the newly revised patterns, free, as a thank you for subscribing.

Block One: Swirlygig

Now the long version.

When Covid-19 hit the proverbial fan, one April morning in my mailbox was a heartfelt letter from Carol, writing in her regular QuiltMania Newsletter about some of the difficulties magazines like hers were facing.  I contacted them, offering my help in any way (you know I’m a fangirl).

Block Two: Sunshine

After some correspondence, it was decided that they would release SHINE: The Circles Quilt out into the world, bit by bit on their blog, and after further developments, as a thank you for subscribing to their newsletter.  I was happy with this, and thinking it would be released quickly, revised all the formerly free patterns on this blog into a new format.  I sent them to back to QuiltMania where they were translated into French.  

Block Three: Ljublana

Wondering if they’d be out by July, I started work on another set of the circles, this time in Red, White, and Blue.  You may have seen them here, here, and here.  I am still working on them, but am borrowing an idea from my friend Carol, who is also working on a Red, White and Blue quilt.  We hope to get these quilts finished in time for the Inauguration in January.  That gives me a little more time.

So here we go on a new journey with SHINE! Underneath each block is the name, and a link to where it lives on this blog. Each of these posts has detailed instructions and photos, which may prove helpful in your sewing. The full set is up above, in my header, under SHINE: The Circles Quilt.

This is how it looked on their blog this morning. 

Above is the teaser in their newsletter, which you’ll want to subscribe to.  

Here’s the scheduled release dates of the free quilt blocks from QuiltMania:
September: Blocks 1, 2 and 3
October: Blocks 4, 5 and 6
November:  Blocks 7, 8 and 9
December: Blocks 10, 11 and 12

In case you can’t wait, the complete pattern is coming soon to my PayHip shop.  Currently up up on PayHip are the last four blocks of SHINE (13 through 16) and the quilt’s finishing directions, which are written in Hobbit Elvish.  Just kidding (sort of), but certainly they are from my earliest days as a pattern writer and will soon be revised to my current format and standards. (When the new patterns drop, if you have purchased either of these, you’ll be able to download the new ones without additional cost.)

I used fabric from the Minick and Simpson recent lines of red, white, and blue, as well as other Moda and Riley Blake fabrics for the backgrounds.

Happy Labor Day this weekend. Here is a less-than-happy version of Work (Le Travail), by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (c. 1863) from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C. I am happy that they worked in a woman in “travail” down in the lower right corner. I am beyond happy that my current work of quilting doesn’t resemble anything in this picture. (Okay, maybe sometimes.)

Keep stitching!

New Mask Pattern • Sept. 2020

I found a new mask pattern that I think will be the best one yet. It’s from the Japanese Sewing Books site, and she has multiple sizes on one page, or you can download them one by one. She also has a video which clearly explains how to make one. I wore one of these masks around today for a while and not once did my glasses fog up–a real plus!

I use two (2) layers of quilting cotton and one (1) layer of featherweight nonwoven interfacing–it doesn’t really matter what kind. Just really light nonwoven. I made the Large size, but I might try the XL size next time–it will give a little more coverage.

I like to add a little casing for a flat piece of aluminum across the nose bridge so it will snug in. I cut a piece of matching fabric about 4 1/2″ long and about 1″ wide. I turned in one short end and stitched down this seam allowance. Then I finger-folded the raw edges under on the other short side and one long side.

I aligned the long-raw-edge side with the raw edge of the lining piece, centering it and placing it at the top of the lining. To finish, I top-stitched it down on two sides, then made the mask as the video indicates. That last long raw edge will be caught into the seam.

I bought some of these “nose wires.” Funny name. I used this elastic cording, threading it through the little casings on either side (watch the video). I cut each piece 9″ and then threaded it through and knotted it.

I didn’t want the little tip on her pattern, so I just folded it under when cutting. It looks cute, for sure, but I wanted to make the nose strip casing, and it wouldn’t work with this.

You can see me modeling my mask on Instagram.

Yep. I’m no Lady Gaga in the mask department, but I’ll bet she doesn’t wear hers to the grocery store, either!