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).

gluesticks

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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Delectable Baskets: Quilt Finish

Food Basket Quilt_1

Delectable Baskets • Quilt #220
Approximately 70″ wide by 90″ high

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Delectable Baskets gets its name because each basket is filled with food — well — food fabrics. I’d been collecting for over twenty years, so I had a few to choose from.  In February 2018 I was Queen Bee for the Gridsters, and put up a post about making basket blocks, deciding that I wanted to use my collection of fabrics with food motifs.  I sent each of my beemates a couple of squares. (There is a free basket tutorial on that post, if you are interested in making some baskets.)

Baskets of Food quilt top

Not only did my Gridster Beemates send me blocks, but a few other long-time friends sent them also; I had so many blocks that my quilt grew and grew, and then it was overflowing, a lovely dilemma to have.  So I pruned it a bit, as I was aiming for twin-size, and still have enough baskets for an upcoming wall-hanging.

Cathy of CJ Designs did an expanded Baptist Fan on it, leaving it nice and soft, which is a good thing, as I intend it for use in the guest bedroom, which is currently the quilting-and-thread-storage bedroom.  I promise that maybe I can share.

Food Basket Quilt_4

The back, using some Phillip Jacobs (on the right) and some Marimekko (from Crate and Barrel’s outlet sale some years ago).  The signature blocks (the white Xs) are pieced into the Phillip Jacobs, or at least I think that’s who designed that fabric.  At any rate, the print is a lovely-as-can-be radishes.Food Basket Quilt_5

Thank you to everyone who sent me blocks.  Delectable Baskets has been on my radar for  a couple of decades or more, beginning with visits to Fabric Patch quilt shop, the vendor mall in the early years of Road to California, a couple of Southern California Shop Hops, and an occasional trip to Utah.  There were no mail-order shops then, as there was no internet then.  We bought fabric from JoAnns which it wasn’t then (maybe Cloth World?).  I accrued fabrics a yard at a time, a piece at a time, a slow compilation.

This quilt was finished in an era where everything is on hyperdrive.  The internet runs, assists and invades our lives, helping and hindering us in our quilting.  Sometimes we are in a quilt bubble, making the same quilt (see my Flag Quilt from last post), using the same colors, same fabric lines.  Other times it brings us news of friends in Australia, in Japan, Canada, Germany and certainly from around the United States, and allows us to meet and be friends with people all over the world.

Our gathering of Gridsters would not be possible without the internet, and all members, past or present, contribute to my life is a positive and beneficial way.

I am happy to know you all, Gridster Bee member or not.  Thank you for enriching my life, making it a veritable feast.  I dedicate Delectable Baskets to you.

Scrappy Radiant Star

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Mary, of NeedledMom, chose this block for her June turn as Queen Bee of the Gridsters.  Originally found on Wombat Quilts website as a free illustration, I redrew the block to Mary’s specified 6-inch (finished) size.  Four of these blocks are put together to make Mary’s larger 12-inch block.

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Scrappy Radiant Star Illustration

Click on the download PDF file here:

Scrappy Radiant Star

You’ll need four copies to make one 12-inch block, as shown below:

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sketch I made to keep the colors organized

Notice there are FIVE colors per Mary’s larger block.  Four corners have the same color, which when sewn together make that center star.  But in looking at the way she designed it, the colors are to be distributed throughout the quilt.  You can see her initial thinking about this version on this blog post (where you’ll also get a glimpse into her gardens and cooking.  I love reading her blog).

Peek Marys Chart

Just a peek–download below.

Mary gave me permission to post the chart she drew up to keep her ideas straight.  You can download this as a PDF:Mary’s Chart_ June Gridster Bee

You can see that she’s diagrammed the main stars (in the center), and the secondary stars in the corners.  We Gridsters each chose two blocks, identifying our choices using her coding on the sides and are now sending them to her.

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To further my tributes to Mary today, I’m making her bread recipe to go with my version of Italian Wedding Soup.

Have fun making these blocks!