Fun with Other Quilters at Valley Modern Quilt Guild

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Last week I had the chance to head over to Los Angeles, and speak at the Valley Modern Quilt Guild, held at HighTech LA, a very cool building (with great gates).

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They had these signs all over the school, which I think is a good motto for retreats and workshops, right?

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The place we met was one of those classrooms that can be changed around to suit the needs of those using it, and it was a good space for giving a talk: well lit, comfortable with a good microphone.  I stayed until the end of their Guild, as I was curious to see what they were working on.  I especially liked their Challenge for that month: Curves.

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Saturday, I headed back to teach a workshop for them at a local high school; the workshop was held in the costume department of the high school, and the teacher worked on costumes for an upcoming production while we used her room.

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First up, a little show and tell.  The woman holding the quilt is the principal of the school, and I’m happy to be in her company, along with the other fine members of this guild.

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It’s always fun to see what gadgets people bring, and I loved this one: a veritable traveling trunk of supplies, that you just unzip and Voila! it is available.  No more packing up and forgetting something.  (I don’t have anymore information on it, but I know she purchased it online.)

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As soon as we finished the center block, it was photo time.  I love how some centers come forward and some recede.  Such a creative group!  I didn’t do a very good job on taking a picture of the group, but there might be more on their Guild Website.  They decided on the Two-For-One class: a quilt in the morning, and free-motion quilting in the afternoon.

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Thank you, Valley Modern Quilt Guild–I had a great time!

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And in other news…  It is the ONLY reason I did an update on my iPhone this early.  Usually I wait a while until they get the bugs out, but I couldn’t resist.  They also have a ball of yarn, if you are interested in that.

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And I finished my November Gridsters Bee blocks early this month and am sending them off to Allison of Quilt Studio 62, who is our Queen Bee this month.

In addition, I’ve had a question or two about what paper I use in the foundation paper piecing I did for the recent Crazy Cushion Class. I recently purchased a ream of paper from them (after 10 years of using the first one), so I took some photos in the store.

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It’s a vellum from Neenah.  I updated this post, where you can find more information.

Don’t know what to do with all those real “decorator” pumpkins you buy for fall? A recipe for Stuffed Pumpkin is a good way to enjoy them one more time.

Fall Leaves

The year we lived in Alexandria, Virginia I brought home handfuls of leaves from my walks and scanned them for the future.  I love looking at them at this time of year, as we here in Southern California don’t have fall color like this.

Happy November!

Starry Sky Mug Rug

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This summer, my niece Abby, let me have one of her hand-thrown mugs, of which I was thrilled to get (I love hot chocolate).  I meant to send her a little quilted mug rug in return, but that project seemed to get stalled for one reason or another.  But last week, I decided not one more thing would be done until I finished it and sent it off.  (Sometimes you just have to give yourself a little talk.)

I used the Starry Sky block pattern, by Kylie Kelsheimer (a downloadable pattern from Craftsy).  In this new version of her pattern, she has three sizes, and the 6″ size is perfect for a mug rug.

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My niece likes to go hiking, and lives up in the Northwest, so I used colors of purple mountains, green hills and aqua-and-blue waters.  I bound it in navy.

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I used an agate-stone looking print for the back, one of my favorites lurking in my stash.

It took me a couple of hours from start to finish.  It’s a paper-pieced pattern, so all the star points are sharp and it goes together easily.  I kept a photo of the block near me when putting the pieces together, to keep myself straight.

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I listened to the latest Bruno, Chief of  Police book, The Resistance Man, and that kept me going.  Then I ran it to the Post Office, and off it went.  I hope Abby likes it.

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A couple of days before I’d made Simone’s blocks for the Gridsters Bee, a wee bit late, but she forgave me.

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And then I got right on October’s blocks for Joan, for the Gridsters Bee.  She asked for a black-and-white New York Beauty block, with a touch of solid color.  Hope she likes these.

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I liked this old photograph of women sewing, found on the website for the National Gallery of Ireland, reminding me of my travels (I’m finally over the jetlag).

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Here’s your reminder: the perfect is the enemy of the good, Stephan Pastis style.  As some long-time readers know, I believe in this quote and used to keep it on my syllabi when I was a teacher.  Sometimes it’s good to just be *good,* and not strive for perfection.  Hope that idea helps you “lead a sane and balanced life.”

Getting the Work Done: Artist vs. Addict

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A recent reviewer of Steven Pressman’s book Turning Pro, pointed out that:
“What is distraction, if not self-sabotage, sabotage of one’s future self?”   Pressman, who wrote the War of Art, a must-read for creatives,  writes about about the difference between being an artist and being an addict, about the difference between being a professional (focused on the work) and an amateur (talking about the work, but not really doing it).

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Pressman has written three books, and as another reviewer described them:

The War of Art discusses the decision to start, while [his second book] Do the Work takes on the concept of sustaining the discipline it takes to finish a piece of work. Turning Pro takes things up a notch by insisting the artist must establish a rigid discipline and trust the Muse.”

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It’s easy to forget why we work at something.  There we are, putting our focus on our machines and in our sewing spaces, cutting and sewing, and all of a sudden, it’s oh wait a minute, let me check what my friends on Instagram are doing.

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According to Pressman, that doesn’t get the work done.  What it does do instead, is turn our work, our lives, our posts into an endless loop of sort of getting things done, but not really forging ahead into new places.

As Jocelyn K. Glei put it, “I was particularly struck by his distinction between “the artist” and “the addict,” wherein the former is living out a productive, creative career, while the latter is caught in an endless loop of aspiration and yearning that never gets backed up with meaningful action. Glei also noted that: “The amateur is an egotist. He takes the material of his personal pain and uses it to draw attention to himself. He creates a “life,” a “character,” a “personality.”  Using the term “shadow novel,” he draws out the life of a person is sort of working towards something, but not really.  Like I was after grad school: wanting to be an author, but not writing a word.

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I soon figured out that being a fiction writer was not the direction I was doing to go. I was able, however, to take my MFA training and love of the written word, combine it with sewing, in order to write about quilting — a completely unplanned, but incredibly satisfying endeavor.

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Frivols #7, in process

Cindy and I have talked more than once about the world of social media (namely Instagram) and how it sometimes interferes with getting the work done.  I love a good stroll through the posts as much as anyone, and I love to read blogs and see what creative juice is running through my community.

I recently watched the entire launch video of IGTV, that futzy little button in the top right of your screen.  As they went through all the scenes of creators (our new name, I guess), I realized that they were all barely older than my grandchildren…and with that realization came the understanding that IG “allowed” me to have my community, but what they were really about was the selling of “new media,” geared to “young influencers” gaining followers, gaining media attention and earning money.  Hence, the screwed up IG feed for the rest of us.

Chronology is out.  Connectiveness is in (which is different from “connections”).  Process is out.  Profits are in, including the data mining of all our click and taps and touches.

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Gridsters Bee Block for Leisa–July 2018

What does this have to do with artist/professional vs. addict/amateur?

As Pressman states, “The artist and the professional, on the other hand, have turned a corner in their minds. They have grown so bored with themselves…What were once their shadow symphonies become real symphonies. The color and drama that were once outside now move inside….When we [choose being an Artist], the energy that once went into the Shadow Novel goes into the real novel. What we once thought was real – “the world,” including its epicenter, ourselves – turns out to be only a shadow. And what had seemed to be only a dream, now, the reality of our lives.

It’s all about where you focus, where you put your attention.  Make use of the tools that help you, but don’t let them dominate allotted time, or dilute creative energy.

 

 

Basket Block Tutorial • February 2018 • (Gridster Bee Month for Me!)

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I belong to an online bee called the Gridsters, and February is my month to choose a block that my beemates make for me.  You can find all our work on Instagram, using the hashtag #gridsterbee. 

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I chose a basket block.

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I also have been saving food-themed fabrics forever for a basket block quilt with the baskets full of food beginning at least a couple of decades ago, and continuing as I picked up a food fabric here and there.

I was also inspired to make basket blocks by Barb, of Fun With Barb and Kelly of Pinkadot who decided to do it together; their tutorials are on each of the links, above.  I upsized the basket block to 10 inches in size, so the making would go faster.  (You’d think with all the quilts in this house, I would have enough twin-sized, but I don’t, so I’ve already decided that’s the size it will be.)

If you want to join in with me, or Barb and Kelly, in making baskets, I’d suggest we follow their request to tag our Instagram photos with #basketswu [Baskets Sew With Us]. (Gridsters please tag them also with #gridsterbee.)

For the Gridster Bee

I’ve sent you some food fabrics; please use those for the A section of your blocks.  I don’t care what you use for the basket–it can match, it can contrast, it can coordinate, it can clash–choose what you think creates the look you want.  You can use small scale prints, large prints, florals, novelties, checks, whatever.

For the low-volume background, use these types of fabrics:

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They are a range of creamy-toned fabrics, without strong secondary designs.

Avoid these types:

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Solid in creams is okay, but avoid white, grey, tan, beige, white-on-white (I really don’t like beige for this quilt, but understand the limitations of our stashes–just do your best).  Many of the above fabrics have strong motifs and patterns, so reject those too.  Basically, I want the background to recede without being dull or same-same.

Basket Tutorial

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Not to size, for reference only–please use the PDF link below.

Here’s my cutting sheet for this tutorial, in PDF form, but the usual requests apply here–don’t print off a million copies for your mother and your friends, but please send them here to get their own: Basket Block 10 inch_OPQuilt

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All my basket pieces laid out.

First, make the Half Square Triangles.

[Background:  One method is from Alyce, and she has a nice chart if you want to figure out your own eight-way Half-square Triangles.  However, I also have a different chart on this post which came from Jeni Baker, who encourages the use of a bigger initial square.  That means for us (and especially if you like to trim your HSTs) you would begin with a 6″ block, which is what I’ve specified on the cutting chart. BTW, her book on triangles is a good one to have in your library. ]Basket_2
Place one 6″ background square and one 6″ basket square right sides together. Mark two diagonal lines, and sew 1/4″ on either side of the marked lines.  On the left is the pieces with the sewn diagonals.  Press it flat to settle down the wrinkles, which you see on the right.

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I moved mine apart to demo this; leave yours close together.

Cut on marked lines.  Now without moving your squares, cut on mid-lines, crossing the centers, as shown below.  Press, with seam allowance to the dark side, trimming out dark fabric, if necessary, so it doesn’t show through.  Trim to 2-1/2″ inches square.

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Make center half-square triangle (piece A-1):  Place a food fabric (measuring 6-7/8″ square) onto a basket square (same size), drawing a diagonal line, then stitching on either side of that line.  Press, then cut on marked line, then press towards the basket.  You’ll have an extra center to toss into your Random Patches Box.  (You do have one of those, don’t you?)

Press seam allowance ALWAYS towards basket, to give that dimensional look that something is IN the basket.  Now trim that center to 6-1/2″.

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Here are all the pieces, laid out.  I chose a stripe to demo, so you can see the direction the stripes go.  If you use the eight-at-a-time half-square triangle method, you’ll have no problem getting the stripes in the small half-square triangles go the direction you want.  Yes, I did cut the 6-7/8″ square (basket) on the bias, so I could have the stripes go across the unit.

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I made two blocks at once; one had a light center, and one had a dark center.

Stitch together the three small half-square triangle pieces; press in the direction they want to go, which is usually toward the flat triangle piece.

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Stitch one 2-1/2″ block onto one unit (shown in upper left corner).  It helps to arrange your square as you go, so you get everything all sorted out right.

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Sew the first three-unit “basket handle” to the center HST, as shown on the left.  Press seams away from basket, even though they don’t want to go there, again to preserve the illusion that something is in your basket.

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Sew the second three-unit “handle” with the C square to the center unit, as shown.  I pressed the square C-block toward the three-triangle unit so that the seams would nest neatly when I arrived at this step.

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Create basket stand by sewing one of your small HST to the D-rectangle.  Pay attention to which direction the triangles are going.  Stitch this first unit onto the basket.

Repeat with second HST and D-rectangle.  Sew ONE of the C (2-1/2″ squares) to ONE of the basket stand units.  Stitch this onto the existing basket.

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And you are done!

There are lots of fun ways I can finish this basket quilt:

Basket Setting

from here

I like this setting, with all those energetic chevrons in between the baskets.

Looks like red is a pretty popular color for setting these blocks.  I have more basket ideas on my Pinterest site, if you want to see more block settings.  (I’ve been collecting these ideas for ages.)

Thanks to the Gridsters for making me baskets this month, and I hope you all have fun making a few for yourselves.

Gridster Bee Begins 2018

Carol kicked off the Gridsters this year, doing a little throwback to fall, for she said she wanted to make herself a quilt for autumn.  She asked us to use this tutorial from The Cloth Parcel. I had fun finding orange fabrics that would work, and picked up some bold orange Grunge dots to work into the pumpkins.  She had mailed us the navy Grunge for the background, and after I finished my first pumpkin, I found I had enough for another, so I sent two.  These come together quick and easy, so if you are thinking ahead…or behind…it would be a fun quilt for fall.

Bee Blocks for Gridsters • December 2017

Four of us got together to do the last block of 2017 for Afton, of Quilting Mod.

She’d asked that we do a cake from Patty Sloniger’s pattern (for Michael Miller Fabrics), and Afton mapped out our plan of which stand for which cake.  I had a different cake from Lisa, Leisa and Simone, but our stands were all the same.  Luckily.

 

The quilter who made the cake on the left was the first to finish, but whoops…she had to redo the cake stand.

One of us had to leave early to pick up kids, so I don’t have that quilter’s block, but here are three of the cake blocks finished.  In all the fun, I never took a photo of my block by itself, but I’m the stacked layer cake on the lower right.  The pattern went together without too much drama, and we shipped them off to Afton.  That’s the end of the Gridster Bee for 2017, but we’re gearing up and are all ready to go for 2018.

This is the last sew day for all of us together, as Lisa (in blue sweater) has moved away to another state.  She and I started our little quilt group of twenty years, and it is odd not to see her around, or to be able to pop up and borrow some fabric (she lived close to me).  I wish her all the best in her new home, and hope she finds lots of quilters to hang out with!