Tiny Envelope & More Blocks

Gridsters January 2020

It all started, this idea of Tiny Envelopes, when a) I came down with a bad cold and everything I’d ever done in the world seemed lame and stupid, and b) Carol, our Gridster Queen Bee for January had us all make wee televisions for our signature blocks, in order to match up the larger block of Lori Holt’s vintage TV.

Okay, maybe I exaggerate on the first reason, but this is my THIRD cold of the season, and I am sick and tired of being sick-and-tired.  And I live in sunny Southern California, and no one ever feels sorry for you in the winter.

Then, last night, when the cold and sniffles had interrupted my sleep and I lay there, pondering this (can you tell I’ve been watching Jane Austin’s Sanditon on PBS, where they belabor every point, and examine everything to the point of madness?), following in Carol’s footsteps seemed the way to go.

Tiny Envelope

This little 6″ finished block will be my signature block for when it’s my turn, which is coming right up next month.  Last fall I spent many hours making a variety of my chosen bee block in my quilt program, in preparation for my turn at Queen Bee.

And it was that, which all of a sudden seemed so inane.  So last night this made perfect sense.

Tiny Envelope Illustration

So here are my instructions for making Tiny Envelope blocks, in downloadable PDF form (it’s slightly different than the illustration above):

Tiny Envelope Flier

(The usual caveats apply: don’t download for classes, parties, or your best friend.  Please send them here to this blog to get their own copy.)

Here are a slew of pictures to go along with the Tiny Envelope blocks flier:

TinyEnvelope_1

All the bits.

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I sewed one slender envelope strip on one side, trimmed it; then repeated the process.  Press.

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Now take that square that you cut in half and sew to one side, letting the tip of one side of the triangle extend 1/4″ past the edge.  The other side will really extend.  (Pay this no mind.)

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Sew the other side on.  You can see the 1/4″ bit of the tip extending on the upper left side. Thankfully, it does the same on the bottom.  Stitch, trimming off that excess first triangle.

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Now for the background.  Same idea.  Look for 1/4″ on the lower right edge, and let the rest of the triangle flow off the top.

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Sew the other triangle on.  Trim and press.

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The sides were bugging me.  I laid a 4″ ruler, so that the 45-degree angles matched up perfectly with my inner envelope, and trimmed both sides.

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I sewed on the strips for both sides, then evened up the top, too.

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Lower strip is on.  True the whole thing up to 6″ square, or leave it for me to do when you send it.  Either is fine.  And also for my Gridsters, use a background that is lively (no low-volume stuff), but that still reads “light,” like this one.  The envelope part will match the color of your eventual choice next week.  Like that makes any sense, but soon it will.  The rest of you can just make fun little envelope blocks.

In other news blocks…

Tri-Ball

My friend Simone designs new and interesting blocks for our chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild.  This is the Tri-Ball block that’s coming up to submit to the March drawing.  I really love this one!

Extra HSTs from Tri-Ball

Snowball Triangle Example

Since this has some snowball corners, if you double-sew that seam 1/2″ apart, then cut in between the two lines of stitching, you can get some fun HSTs.

Orange Fields HSH

I’m also re-writing, re-freshing my Home, Sweet Home pattern, and changed up some of the construction techniques, so I made up a new version.  I call this my Orange Grove Houses, especially now that its January and all the citrus is popping out in Southern California!

Quilted My Small World

Lastly, before this cold hit, I was able to finish up the quilting on My Small World. It’s good to hit the pause button now and again, to enjoy the (here comes my Jane Austin voice) fruits of our labors, the blessing of our handiwork.

Now I’m going back to the bed to practice some fainting and work on handling those nasty spells that come over a Victorian woman.  But boy, do I love all the clothes they wear.  It’s worth watching that show, if only to catch a glimpse of Miss Heywood’s dress with the pineapple sleeve caps!

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Happy Quilting!

Oh My Stars Where Have I Been?

I could say to the moon and maybe to the stars, and back.
I could say Guatemala, but you already know I’ve returned home from there.
I could say sick, but now I’m better, and yes, I had a nice Thanksgiving at my daughter’s house.  They even had a quilt shop in her tiny town in Arizona, but since I’d been in there several times and the fabric was all the same, every bolt every time, I didn’t think it warranted another stop.

I could plead The Fifth and just get on with it, which is what I’ll do.

November 2019 Gridsters

It’s always good to begin with a finish, even if it is only a block.  In this case, this finish went to my buddy Allison in the GridsterBee: a free online spider-web block, which we printed out onto paper and got to work with all those skinny litle scraps of fabric in that bin over there, next to the iron.

Above are scenes from my Thanksgiving (click on image to enlarge):

(from upper left, going down) 1)El Travatore, an old motel in Kingman AZ (the longest piece of extant Route 66 runs through this town), 2) the family just before enjoying the two turkeys and two kinds of sweet potatoes and salad, and multiple pies and then falling into food coma sometime later on, 3) teachers’ gifts my ever-talented daughter dreamed up and put together.

Sign at top right: a Truth.

Two views of storefronts across the bottom that my daughter designed: THE  Farmhouse used to be her shop until last year, and West of 3rd is her friend’s shop.  We went out Saturday for Small Shop Saturday, so I hope you visited yours.

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Sunday morning, really early, heading out across the Mojave Desert.  (Mojave is spelled with a “j” in California, but spelled with an “h” in Arizona, as in Mohave, and that’s just the way it is.)

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I picked up a few of these. It’s washi tape on major sale at the Get To Work Book website.  I bought it because I’d seen this from here:

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and figured out we could draw our own lines on either side.

Washi tape Carol

My friend Carol figured it out.

Pear Tart

Monday, I launched into laundry, but later rooted out the pears we’d stuck in the fridge the week before and made a Pear-Almond Tart.  I always know the routine is coming back when I start baking again.  The recipe is over on my recipe-blog: ElizabethCooks.com.First Mondays_D19

Then fun-of-fun, we found a couple young women who wanted to learn to quilt, and so we rustled up a small group, calling it First Monday Sewday.  (We’re missing a kid from the photo, and me, of course.) It was chaos, but really fun.

Illustration FM_D19

I made up a little handout for the newbies; click below on the link if you’d like to print it out:

FirstMondaySewday_D19

Relax Grant Snider

All good suggestions from Grant Snider, except for the top right.

Many years ago we took our children to Italy, scraping together frequent flier miles, and saving for months before we showed up in Rome on Christmas Eve.  Being in a different place for Christmas broke my “Overwhelm Them with Gifts” habit, well-formed after raising children for twenty years, helped along by American merchandising.

That night we walked down to Vatican City, walked through the newly opened Jubilee Door, and experienced a midnight mass where they placed the Christ Child back into the empty manger in Nativity Scenes everywhere.

Christmas Day we slept in a bit, then went out again to see the parade of the Pope’s Swiss Guards, listen to the service in Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva where, after the service, I stood to sing the Hallelujah chorus with everyone, but I did it in English.  My family sat beside me in the church for all of about ten minutes, then ducked out to see the Pope bless the crowds gathered in front of St. Peter’s.  No, we aren’t of that religion, but seeing the holiday from another perspective changed how I view Christmas.

I believe in gifts (I’ll show you what I made our families later) and celebrating, but I try to do it in a quieter way, enjoying hours of Christmas music, decorating with my husband’s nutcracker collection, baking up a few treats, while taking the incessant retail merchandising blast in much smaller doses.

Target Birds 2019

Target’s newest birds

Glad to see you all again!  I hope you ease into the holidays, too.

Mary Joseph Donkey Vatican

Favorite small sculpture in the Vatican; December 1999

 

My Small World 2019, sections 1 and 2 finished

Cartoon_playwith the puppy

In my Instagram search box, sometimes the bots throw interesting things up there for me to see — like this cartoon of the sad, then very happy dog, courtesy of a little tender care from a young child.  Coming into the year 2019, I had three quilts who were like the dog in the first frame of the cartoon: miserable, the quilts quite possibly headed for the dustbin to be put out their misery.  But like the young child who was “on it,” the first (Plitvice) has been completed, the second (Sing for Joy) is finished and awaiting photography and a blog post.  The third…well, here’s the first frame photo of it, when I left it several years ago:

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First, a detour.

Intrigued by what qualities would most accurately predict outstanding achievement, Harvard researcher Angela Duckworth isolated two qualities:

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So what does it take for a quilter to look at a seemingly failed project, and decide to figure out how to redeem it, to re-work it, to finish it up.  Sometimes I don’t have a clue why we finish some quilts.  I’ve seen a lot that might have better been abandoned, mine own included.  But perhaps the idea of “grit,” which Duckworth articulated so well in her TED talk, might have something to do with it.  For what we do in our workrooms is somewhat about thread and cloth, but other times, it’s a microcosm of the world outside our sewing room doors.  Okay, back to gritting my teeth and tearing apart a half-built, unhappy quilt.

Moving On...Part I

The first step is to balance the value of the buildings.  If you see the first example, they are all about the same value (light-to-dark) grey fabric, even though they are different prints.  And too many different windows!!  In the new version, I used the same fabric for the bulk of my windows (excepting the “apartment” on the lower left), cutting from different places in the fabric to get a different look.  I’m much happier with this.

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I found some pictures of Small Worlds I liked on the web and on Instagram, and pinned them up in the corner for inspiration, as I worked through the next section.  I took apart my existing under-the-building-shapes and re-used some of them, yet adding others.  I also moved around the shapes to suit what I liked, deviating from the Jenn Kingwell pattern.

mysmallworld2019_5 DUOThen there was this choice: in the lower left, which little large-door shed should it be?

UPDATE: I should also note that I find the My Small World Templates from Sarah Bailey to very helpful.  If you head to Sew What Sherlock? you’ll find instructions on how to obtain them.  I printed them out on my favorite vellum paper, but also printed them on cardstock, for tracing in some sections. 

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Finally I declared it finished, posted it up on IG to check in with the organizers of the My Small World.  I passed.

Moving On...Part II

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The before of Section Two.  Ugh.  Too much of everything.  It’s like I opened the doors to my cupboard and tried to put one of every color, every value and every fabric in this thing.

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Auditioning–trying to keep it to a limited palette of colors, trying to repeat fabrics or mimic them in other sections, all the while listening to this:

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I’m learning a lot about grit from the four presidents discussed in her latest book.

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The little record was from a Polaroid swap some time ago: I took apart the Polaroid block and inserted it.

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I wanted the Art Gallery Maker fabric in this section, but it was too blah next to the pinwheel underneath.  So I bordered it with a bit of blue.mysmallworld2019_8

Section Two: Finished!

I sewed the two sections together, and am now back where I started long ago.  But I like it much better.  I really like the small pinwheels section, the same print in different colors (from a purchased charm square pack) used with the same background print.  I studied many peoples’ Small Worlds to see how they were harmonizing, and where it was okay to throw a ton of stuff at the quilt to see if it stuck.  The hashtags #mysmallworldsewcial and #mysmallworld have been really helpful.  (The first one is the current one; the second from long ago.)  And the two leaders, Nicola and Paula have been great, too: it’s always fun to see their comments on my posts, encouraging me on.

Gridster October 2019

As my buddy Linda noted, once you get going on Small World, it’s hard to do anything else, but I did get my Gridster block made for Lisa and sent off.  She’d met Jenn Kingwell (there seems to be a theme, here) and Jenn had given her permission to send patterns out for our group make Steampunk blocks, for her turn at Queen Bee of the Gridsters. Lisa also sent us some of Jenn’s fabric, asking us to go wild.

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Here’s the first batch of blocks to reach her.  They do play well together.

Lastly, I had a nice time visiting the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild.

Guild Visit IEMQG_1

Simone (on left), helped me set up.  This is before it started.

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Some scenes of the Guild Meeting.  They are a small (50 person) guild, but have such lovely people.

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I’m headed here this week with Leisa–can’t wait!

Hope your small worlds are harmonizing, your colors singing together, and that your sewing places are fun and cozy places to be!

Happy August 2019 • This and That

When I looked outside in my garden today, the zucchini plant had wilted from the heat, mirroring how I felt inside.  However, unlike my spectacularly unproductive zucchini plant [we’ve only had ONE], I’ve been pretty productive.  Just not on quilts.

I’ve been working on prepping my upcoming Guild Workshops, getting the kits together (in wax paper bags instead of plastic, given my attempt to cut down on plastic where I can), and cute touches like place cards, so I know whose spot is whose once the class gets going.

Spectrum Pattern Revise

The pattern cover with thumbnails showing the pattern pages and revisions. Now it’s a pretty good guide to EPP.

I also revised a couple of patterns, the first one being Spectrum.  Inland Empire Quilters Guild contacted me for a program for their evening meeting, then they got together a group of women for a workshop who wanted to learn English Paper Piecing.  So I changed some things up in the pattern, added more content, and put it back up for sale up on PayHip.

EPP Spectrum Bag

One thing I made for a sample was this tote bag, splitting the main pattern in half and placing it on either side of the bag.  I wanted to show that a person can do more with a pattern than simply make a quilt.  That version of Spectrum is one of the variations in the pattern (bag pattern not included; I used the one in the October 2019 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting by Kristyne Czepuryk).

Kansas Sunflower Minimini

I also made a mini-mini to show them how to do the basics.  I’ll be passing out this pattern for a Kansas Sunflower block in class, show how to “batch-cut” pieces, glue and prep them.  They can then move on to Spectrum, or stay sewing up their mini-mini.  We’ll also do one hexie flower, because what’s a class in EPP without a hexie flower?

Hexie Flowers July 2018

(We’ll only do one; these are from my Field Flowers quilt.)

Merrion Square Pattern Revise

Another class I have coming up is Merrion Square and Far Away Doors, teaching it for the Pass Patchers Quilt Guild nearby.  For ages, I’d hand out the instruction sheet to Far Away Doors when the class was taught, but adding it to the original Merrion Square pattern was one of the revisions I wanted to make, in order to get all the variations in one place.  I took it offline, revised it, and now it’s back up for sale on PayHip, if you want all three versions in one pattern. [Note:  If you’ve purchased Merrion Square and haven’t received Far Away Doors from me in a workshop, please contact me and I’ll get it out to you.  Proof of purchase is required.]

Of course, all this is made easier by the fact that I’m getting the hang of the three pieces of Affinity Serif software that I purchased last fall: Affinity Photo (replacing Adobe’s Photoshop), Affinity Designer (replacing Illustrator) and Affinity Publisher (instead of InDesign).  I’m getting quicker at each one, knowing where the tools are and how to use them.

Low Sugar Strawberry Jam

I also made three batches of low-sugar strawberry jam, after I tasted Laurel’s.  Laurel and her husband grow their own strawberries, but the ones from the market in our neighboring town worked well for us.  To go with it, I made a batch of zucchini bread with cranberries and left out half the flour (!).

My saintly husband declared it just fine, and takes chunks of this incredibly dense bread in his lunch every day.  He makes me look good, even on my very bad days (of fighting asthma), wilting in the heat (like the zucchini plants outside), and trying to get all the guild workshop stuff lined up from here to eternity.  I have to remind myself to take it one Guild and a time, and enjoy the process, which I genuinely do.

I finished The Night Tiger (I can recommend highly) and have started Little Fires Everywhere (so far enjoying it, but don’t give a recommendation until I finish).

I decided I was done waiting to start on this Halloween Banner project.  I layered the panel (if your store doesn’t carry it, it’s available here), quilted it, and cut out the flags.  I cut 1-1/4″ strips of stripey fabric from this line (called Costumer’s Ball by J. Wecker Frisch) cutting it across the stripe and bound the edges of the flags, sewing the strips first to one side of the flag, then the other.  After trimming the bottom edge, I folded it up and glued it all down with my trusty friend, a regular old gluestick.  Then I pressed and folded in the binding on the sides, again using my gluestick to keep it in place.  (Be sure to press after gluing in order to distribute the glue).

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Hit those back-to-school sales, people!

I top-stitched down the striped binding, and am now waiting for the fabric to arrive to make the top part so I can get the banners all ready for October 1st.

August Gridsters_2019 trees

Lastly, I finished up August’s bee blocks for the Gridster Bee, using an original pattern designed by my talented beemate Kelley.  She’s getting ready for Christmas early!

I think my holidays are all mixed up, because I’m working on Christmas blocks, Halloween Banners, and my Fourth of July quilt just came back from the longarmer, needing binding.  I hope you are able to keep your days and events and sewing projects straight.  Happy Quilting!

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:

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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