Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt Patterns

Continuously Hung up In Bias (aka Failing Forward)

Not that kind of bias. I had to teach that subject when I was an English teacher, and it was a struggle getting the ideas of Preferences vs. Bias into college Freshmen Heads, as well as why they should avoid bias if they can help it.

So you know I’m working on this new pattern, and in one section it calls for a lot of self-made bias, kind of like a self-made woman, but less flashy. I knew I needed about 1044 inches, so I thought–sure, I’ll do it all in one swoop.

Wrong.

If I put this into the pattern like this you would all get out your seam rippers and come after me. Thinking about this, I wound it on a large envelope (above), winding and winding and winding.

So the basic drill is cut a giant piece of fabric after doing math that involves square roots (!), then slice off a chunk on a 45-degree angle and sew it to the other side. NOT like the arrangement in the first photo, but more like the arrangement in the second photo. Two bias edges on either side and cross-grainy bits on the top and bottom.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. (Samuel Beckett)

Usually, then you draw lines parallel to the bias edges the width you want your continuous bias. I looked at several websites, but Ann of Obsessive Quilter had the best explanations I’ve seen. Thank you! I was swimming in a sea of geometry and square root equations. She has three versions of the next steps, and I liked (and tested out more than once) her method of cutting strips:

Using rotary cutter was the selling point. None of that 1000 inches of using scissors for me!

So lovely, I hung it on the wall <cough>. Then proceeded to get it all tangled.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill

Untangled and getting ready for the next steps, which are a hybrid of Ann’s. I tried this two more times to make sure I could do this and write it up so you can do this. Instructions will be in the pattern. Which is coming. [Because of recent events, November was obliterated.]

One fails forward toward success. ~ C. S. Lewis

This Quilt Is A Mess, from ages and ages ago — a real genuine failure

Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward, a quote attributed to John Maxwell, was ringing in my head as I cut and cut and tried and tried to master continuous bias. I only seemed to get stuck — not really a failure — but I tried to learn from each of my stuck places. Trying to make all the quilt’s continuous bias all at once? Not a good idea. Figuring out how long the bias needed to be? Thank heavens for scientific calculators (an iPhone tipped on its side while in Calculator mode).

But over and over it’s the user of this pattern I think about. I love the design, although it didn’t come easily. I try to write detailed patterns with clear directions and probably too many illustrations, some drawn in Affinity Designer, and when my skills fail (there’s that word again), I turn to photography. I keep trying to fail forward.

A circle made of my bias tape, then machine appliquéd

Sara Blakely, the woman who invented Spanx, had a question asked of her (and her brother) every night when she was growing up: “What did you fail at today?” When there was no failure to report, Blakely’s father would express disappointment. “What he did was redefine failure for my brother and me,” Blakely said. “And instead of failure being the outcome, failure became not trying. And it forced me at a young age to want to push myself so much further out of my comfort zone.” However, Ron Friedman notes that “Failure, per se, is not enough. The important thing is to analyze the failure for insight that can improve your next attempt.”

I fail a lot in regular life, but after hanging around a sewing machine for the better part of my teenage and adult life, the sewing failures are fewer. However they do arrive in new ways.

Like continuous bias.

P.S. If you want my 1044 inches of 1-1/8″ bias tape (using high quality quilting fabric), please leave a comment. If there are more than one of you who want this, I’ll draw a name from a hat. Bias tape has been distributed.

P.P.S. There is a sneak peek of the quilt in my PayHip shop; the quilt is currently at the quilter and will be revealed soon. It went up because the people at PayHip offered some new designs and I jumped, redesigning my site.
Above is one of the photos. (And no, we didn’t carry the quilts to Italy, Berlin and Spain. I inserted them with my Affinity Photo software…but it is kind of fun to see them like this!)

Gridsters · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt Finish

Autumn Leaves • Quilt Finish

“When all that cautions the eyes toward the imminent
slide of autumn to arctic winds, the canopy of English elm
and sycamore leaves like colored coins fall and widen
a hole letting more light spill in, heaven’s alms
to earth…”
~from the poem “Washington Square,” by Major Jackson

And Denise Levertov’s poem asks Autumn: “can you pull me / into December?”

But wait, Denise. I’d like to stay here awhile, and enjoy the recent fall color all squeezed into this quilt:

Autumn Leaves • Quilt #269 • 50″ square

This was a group effort from Gridster Bee, a collaboration, much like when the forests in winter climates all talk to each other: “You do red this year,” says one. “I’ll do gold and brown. How about you do crimson?” and so on until the forest is “liked colored coins” that will eventually fall and widen. While more blocks than shown arrived, I had to widen the quilt to let that light spill in, so some are saved for another project, letting heaven’s alms fall to earth in more than one spot.

It started with these two, and morphed into a Pattern Lite, which you can grab here for under the price of a slice of pizza or a basket of beignets at our local beignet place. While you are there, don’t forget to snag the SpiderWeb pattern, which is free until the end of October.

Pattern Shop: PayHip.com/opquilt

Last year around this time, I had a different quilt slung on the fence, and was working on two autumn-themed pillows Mr. Pumpkin and Crossed Lillies; seems like working with these colors is an annual festival.

The back, showing all the signatures of my beemates: Patti, Shelley, Bren, Carlene, Laurie, Melanie, Robin, Susan, Carolyn, Ramona, and Meredith. I am so grateful they all contributed. And gosh, I know I’m missing a label (coming soon), and double-gosh, the back almost looks like a Modern Quilt!

Portfolio of Group Quilts

And to honor — and catalogue — all the collaborations I’ve done, I added a new category to My Quilt Index tab, above: Portfolio of Group Quilts. I only have my quilts listed (not the group’s quilt), although I have done posts about the others in the past.

Here’s to roads diverging into yellow woods, and copper woods, and crimson–

Free Quilt Pattern · PatternLite · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

Spiders, Quilty-Style

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Beach Umbrellas made by Cindy Wiens of LiveAColorfulLife

Check out this gorgeous quilt from Cindy. It has a block that is a familiar patchwork pattern: and it’s a free patchwork pattern from a reworked patchwork pattern. Cindy of Liveacolorfullife and I chat back and forth occasionally and we happened to strike up a conversation about this block, from March 2015 Mid-Century Modern Bee:

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We were trying to remember how we made these blocks for Cindy’s turn as Queen Bee in the Mid-Century Modern back in 2014, but when we headed to the linked blog that had the instructions — it was No Longer in Service. She was trying to finish up her quilt, so we tried another place. No Longer in Service. Somehow I think of the internet as being eternal, like a good book, but obviously the joke is on me for that one.

So I started drafting things in my Affinity Designer, then I dug up an old handout for the small quilting group we had Before Covid, and combined them. So I have another free pattern for SpiderWeb for you, but since it’s under the PatternLite series, it will be found over in my Pattern Shop. I’ll have it on 100% FREE! until the end of the month, where it will be my usual PatternLite price: less than a fancy drink at Starbucks.

While it is for free, consider clicking on Follow as a thank you, and to keep up with my shenanigans. Cindy and I are doing this in tandem, so she’ll also have it on her blog, LiveAColorfulLife — so head over there and read about her goings on and follow her, too. Cindy is an amazing quilter, and has done the hard work and compiled a visual list of all her quilts. Number 219 is one of my current favorites, but there are others that have caught my eye.

To find the free pattern: click on link below.

Click! SpiderWeb block pattern in three sizes, on PayHip (my pattern shop).

But from Spiderwebs, we must move on to October’s beginnings, which includes these two motifs: black cats and pumpkins. These are pillow tops that I’m sending to another DIL, who loves Halloween. I hope she likes them. She has a nook in her upstairs bedroom that we would all covet: a large Palladian window with a loveseat, filled with cushions and pillows. I was thinking about those when I made these, two from my collection of Riley Blake Pillows from last year that I saved for her.

I included this homemade card. Download the blank and send some to people you love:

Lastly, we passed the Autumn Equinox on September 22, so the days are getting longer. So are the shadows of my silverware.

Happy October, everyone!

P.S. One year we lived in Alexandria, VA and the leaf colors that year were spectacular. I would bring home fistfuls of beautiful leaves, lay them out on my flatbed scanner to scan and save them. These are some my husband brought home one day. No–we don’t have gorgeous fall color here, but come January — we have a few trees that will turn red. All of you who live in fall color territory are so lucky!

300 Quilts · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt Finish

Sunflowers for a Daughter-in-Law • Quilt Finish

Sunflowers for Kim, Quilt #268, 62″ square

It takes a lot of steps to make a dance, a lot of pages to make a book and a lot of pieces to make a quilt.

Relationships are similarly intricate, especially the relationship between a mother-in-law (MIL) and her daughter-in-law. In my first marriage, I tried to develop a relationship with my new mother-in-law, but she and I were just too different to make it. When the son of this woman and I divorced, we made a deal: I’ll take the children to see my parents, and you you take the children to see yours. Within eighteen months time, we’d split the property, I’d met my Real Husband, and he and I married and moved to Southern California.

A few months later, I tasked the children with cleaning out their closets, and one of the kids handed me an unopened envelope from the former MIL. I opened it gingerly, and in it she took me to task for moving her grandchildren away from her, and for generally ruining most everything. I don’t know what happened to that letter, but now, thirty-plus years later, I recognize how right she was. I did move away, I did take the children some distance. But I also recognized her sorrow and from then on sent her school pictures, short notes, had the children write letters, trying to keep up a connection that her son was unwilling to do. I never saw her again in person, but mourned her when she died.

When my sons married, it was my turn. I have found in moving through the world, you either love your mother-in-law or she drives you crazy. There doesn’t seem to be too many in the middle. Sometimes we love our MILs because they raised our husbands, and we give them the respect owed to them for bringing us this wonderful human. Other times we wondered what in heavens’ name they were thinking to raise someone who _________ (fill in the blank). Sometimes we form a close enough bond that we move in sync, and there is no competition. However, mostly as a MIL, you bite your tongue. Eat your words, if needed. If the occasion calls for it, follow Emily Dickinson’s advice: “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.”

As far as the MIL game goes, I’ve had two, one mentioned above, as well as a near-saint who was supportive and yes, raised the Best Quilt-Holding Husband in the trade (one among many of his fine talents and qualities). Between handing over my sons to their wives, as well as watching my mother and her MIL, my sisters, my friends and their MIL relationships, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve made all kinds of mistakes, but hope for forgiveness. and try to practice that as often as I can. Whatever your relationship is with your mother-in-law/daughter-in-law, there are a lot of pieces that have to come together to make it work.

I have made quilts for all three of my daughters-in-law (besides the wedding quilts); one carted both quilts off in their divorce; I’m waiting for the new love in my son’s life to let me know what she would like. I don’t know if they like their quilts, but I like thinking about these women: strong ones, smart ones, women who like to laugh, women who are partners to my sons. Women who raise interesting children, and sometimes include me in their lives, for in this new century of no social rules, I am the “away grandma” as my son reminds me and contact can be sporadic. Yes. It’s my turn.

This quilt is for Kim, a daughter-in-law who loves to laugh, doesn’t hold grudges, is a great mother, a fine partner and wife for my son, and doesn’t let him get away with too many shenanigans, while escaping when she can for hers. She always has a game ready for us to play, welcomes us to her home, and is easy to talk to. She loves sunflowers, those being the flowers she carried at her wedding, some twenty years ago. Happy Anniversary, Kim, for making me your mother-in-law, then redeeming me from that awful fate.

And many thanks to my Quilt-Holding Husband, who found us this wonderful mural backdrop, and to Jen, for her fine quilting using an E2E of Baptist Heart Clams.

This updated pattern is found in my PayHip Pattern Shop. If you have already purchased this PatternLite Pattern, thank you. The newest version can be downloaded using the email you received when you bought it.

(PatternLite Patterns: costs less than a pumpkin-spice drink at the local coffee shop.)
BlockBase+ · Free Quilt Pattern · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

Too Hot to Think • Blockchain Quiltblock Freebie

from here

It’s too hot to think, but here’s a fun sketch from a traditional block, originally called Boise (Brackman 2306). The periodical, Hearth and Home, which published this block, was in operation from 1885 to the 1930s.

The block, exploded.

The 7″ block, set on alternating verticals. All of these can be found in BlockBase+ which is software that is basically the Brackman Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. I modified this in my design software, Affinity Designer by Serif, a reasonable cost design software (NO, you don’t have to buy Illustrator. YES you should buy BlockBase+.)

And I think we should give the quilt a name. I know it’s the capitol of the state of Idaho, but I’d like to give it a more contemporary name: Blockchain. What does that mean? Since I just donated to Wikipedia (you should too), here’s their definition:

blockchain is a type of Digital Ledger Technology (DLT) that consists of growing list of records, called blocks, that are securely linked together using cryptography.

So couldn’t we define a quilt as “a growing list of blocks that are securely linked together with thread”? I think so. I was amused to see that a lot of the images used to depict the idea of blockchain are some of our traditional quilt blocks, like baby’s tumbling block, among others.

If you’d like the 8-inch version, I’ve got that for you here, as a free download. I didn’t monkey around with it too much, so it’s rather a no-frills set of templates (remember, it’s too hot), but you can see how nicely the templates are generated for you by Blockbase+. [Okay, I did do a bit of monkeying…]

Download the free PDF file for an 8″ block here:

Here’s the 12-inch version, which finishes at 52″ square, with those 2″ borders and cornerstones. To get this layout, I did four columns of the Blockchain block, doing half-blocks at the top and bottom of columns 2 and 4. I’m sorry I didn’t include the 12″ size block, but it’s hot, and we are about to head to our traditional Labor Day Cookout: a trip to In and Out Burger, where they do the grilling for me.

from here

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

300 Quilts · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

Secret Garden • Quilt Finish

What is it about Kaffe Fassett fabrics that pulls us in? The rich hues and full range of shades? The interesting patterns, many from old wallpapers and fabrics? I have a couple of stacks of his fabrics and it’s always a delight when I can pull them out from my shelves and start playing.

Secret Garden, quilt number 235, is the original size of my Triad Harmony pattern, measuring 28 1/2″ by 31 1/2″ and was made for a class sample, since my friend Susan loved Kaffe fabrics. She was the program chair and had me teach this class for their Guild.

After several weeks of lallygagging around — or so it felt — this week I put on the binding and the label:

The quilting goes fast with this size! (Click any image to enlarge.)

It also helped to get back into a Guido Brunetti Mystery, after a long time away.

Here’s another scrappy version.

And a bigger version, Eris.

And the first in the series in Jennifer Sampou’s ombré fabrics. I put them all together in a reel on Instagram. (See my tip in my next post for how I deal with that app.)

Triad Harmony and her sisters. One more is coming…