Sawtoothmania!

Framed Pattern Cover

Sometimes I get an idea, and it becomes like a dividing cell: one idea becomes into two, then four, and in this case, 23.  Sawtoothmania, the idea I am referring to, began about six months ago I started working on how to create a different sawtooth center.  First I made over 33 different designs, then whittled it down to 26, and then to 23 for this final pattern.

Bee Block Sawtoothmania Bette

I was aiming to have the pattern finished by the time I was Queen Bee in February for the Gridsters Bee, but I wasn’t.  I was far enough along though, to send them each some Painters Palette Solids: blue and white, plus a color to make up the center.  I also asked them to make an accompanying Tiny Envelope block (a free pattern on this blog) as their signature block, using a print that would coordinate with their block.

Sawtoothmania Process_0

This was the original set of colors, along with a little card I sent them so they could choose their block.

Then I kept making, kept testing, putting up blocks on Instagram as I finished them.  Today, the pattern is finished, and is up on my PayHip site, where you can purchase it if you’d like.  Many thanks to my BeeMates for testing these blocks, and for making me such a beautiful array of 12 blocks (I added four to the mix to get this arrangement):

Sawtoothmania Process_1

Then there was Border Angst.

I started with the solid blue border on the left, then tried the right, yes yes that’s the one. Then no no that’s not the one, how about I cut it up?  And then add squares?  And then go back to the solid blue?  And then sash them?  And then too many colors, take some out? And then go to bed, freaking out?

Sawtoothmania Process_front

I ended up here, and called it done.  I actually like it, although I include the plain fabric border option in the pattern, too, just in case you liked that one.  In the end, there were too many colors in the outside border, so I just used cool colors for the squares and smaller sashing to tone it down.  It’s not that noticeable, but it is significant.

Sawtoothmania Process_Gatesawtoothmania Small

I had several blocks I didn’t include, but that they were used as testers, so I made this smaller version, and this one will get the plain print border.

So, there you have it–my Sawtoothmania Pattern!  I had fun designing it and making it and if you decide to get one, I hope you’ll send me pictures of how you decided to make your Sawtoothmania.

I’m sure the length of time from inception to completion was complicated by the onslaught of Covid-19 news and all our living through it.  But since my last post, I’ve tried to get the rhythm of my days, which usually goes a couple of productive days alternating with what I call…

Lowenergy day_covid19

…”a low-energy” day.  Sometimes reading the news will trigger this, or frustration with various current events.  At least now I can predict it a little bit, and work with it.

City Streets Vivid_quilting

Trying to finish up the quilting of the second rendition of my City Streets pattern, this one done in fancy Tula fabrics.Gridsters May 2020

I was able to finish up Rachel’s Bee block for our Gridster Bee: a wagon wheel in the strongest contrasting colors we could use, with a black center.

Sneak Peek Metastructure

And I started and finished my Urban Challenge quilt for the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild.  But this is just a sneak peek, as the due date isn’t until May 25th, and won’t be announced until June 13th, at our Guild’s Zoom Meeting.  Since I run their blog, I have seen some of the entries that have come in, and I’m pretty excited about it all!

Zoom May 10_2020_3

I’ll leave you with this shot from our family Zoom meeting on Mother’s Day, when my son Matthew admitted that he hadn’t gotten a card out to me and shared his screen with us to show this.  It still makes me laugh.

So, between finishing up long-term projects, dodging around the emotions of Covid-19, and receiving Mother’s Day cards via Zoom, it looks like we are all figuring this out.

Happy Quilting!

Economy and Rough Drafts

Economy Block_6

I help teach a group of beginning quilters, and we call ourselves First Monday Sew-day, and yes, I know it’s not the First Monday today, but it’s COVID-19 season and nothing is normal anymore.  For this First Monday Sew-day, I chose to teach the Economy block, also known as the Square-in-a-Square block.

April 2020 First Monday ILLUS.png

I’ve made a little handout to go along with this, which includes a detailed chart of measurements.  Click to download the PDF file:

FirstMondaySewday_4_2020

(NOTE: I’ve also collected all my First Monday Posts and put them in their own page at the top of my blog, just in case you want to find them easily.)

Economy Block_1

I looked at Catbird Quilt Studios’ chart, but then decided I wanted to test out my own measurements.  First I cut some sunny yellow fabric for the centers.

Economy Block_2

I pulled some neutrals from my stash, cut the triangles, then painstakingly went through each measurement, adjusting it to what I thought would work for teaching beginners, then went to work.

Economy Block_2a

After getting the first set of triangles on, I squared it up, jotting down the measurements as I went through each size.

Economy Block_4cEconomy Block_4bEconomy Block_4a

When you trim, do your best to leave a 1/4″ of seam allowance at each point, as shown above.

Economy Block_5

I love this color of blue, known around our house as painting-tape blue.

I’ve already put the triangles on the first two sides and pressed them.  Now I’m starting on the second set, with the finish below:Economy Block_3

Economy Block_7

Here are all the sizes, stacked up together.  I’m thinking bordering the smallest sizes again to equal that large 15″ block in the lower left, and seeing what evolves.

ISpy_ISpyPanel_Bermuda

This is a free pattern from the Robert Kaufman Fabric Company, and it uses the Economy block, but the quiltmaker fussy cut center blocks for more interest.

Into the Woods front

I added one more set of triangles on this economy block to get this quilt. Doing a search on “economy block” yields lots of images to scroll through.

Pinwheel with Economy.jpeg

I liked how this quilt maker had pinwheels inside their Economy blocks.  Our beginners learned how to make pinwheels when they learned about Half-Square Triangles.

tiny nine patches

Making Masks April 2020

And I’m still making masks.  I am making them for people I know, friends and family who need them as our particular county is a mask-wearing place.

Mask Iteration 4.jpg

So when two friends came by and I realized that these masks wouldn’t work for them, I went back to the Accordian-style mask, added a nosewire sleeve and turned the sides into plackets, through which I could slip some elastic.

I’d say this is the fourth or fifth iteration of cloth masks that I’ve made.  I kept wondering why I couldn’t be like all the other mask-makers of our particular universe, and just settle into one kind?  I was heartened by “Tear It Up and Start Again,” an article by Harry Guiness, that reminded me of things I used to teach my college students, back in the day.  I reminded them never to turn in their first draft, as the really good writing starts to happen on the third or fourth rounds (inevitably the class would groan about this point).  Guiness notes that “Too often, when it comes to self-improvement, we create idealized, top-down systems with unnatural rules and regulations. We naïvely assume that we will somehow stick to our rigid plans when life gets random and hard, throwing unavoidable chaos and crises into the mix.”

We’ve all had some unavoidable chaos recently.  While this article dealt more with those self-improvement plans we all make for ourselves (I hope you have all torn yours up during this stay-at-home time), I did like his nuggets of truth, such as this one: “When a plan or resolution fails, the solution isn’t to dismiss it and try a new, equally rigid prescription next year or next time. It’s to build on what worked, ruthlessly cut what didn’t and start straight away on a much-improved second draft.”  I like that I won’t have to discard what I learned in my first draft, but can carry forward the best parts.

“I never lose. I win or learn.” This phrase has been attributed to many, but whoever said it was on to something.  Hopefully we won’t lose during this time of forced idleness (for some), crashing boredom (for some), an onslaught of toomuchtodo (for some).  We can win at our tasks if everything goes smoothly.  However, you can tell by my variety of masks that it doesn’t — usually — go smoothly for me, but we can still learn new things about others, or new things about ourselves.

I’ve learned I like to tinker to figure out which mask will fit which face.  I’ve learned that I can’t read the news before I go to bed at night.  I’ve learned that my current forced isolation and distraction (courtesy of the novel corona virus) is not the best working environment for getting my quilting projects done.

I’ve learned a million new science-y facts about peak dates and doubling rates and flattening the curve and so on (I am married to a scientist), which may or may not come in handy in the Life After COVID-19.  But hopefully I’ve also learned that my first drafts can lead to successful subsequent drafts, no matter whether it’s writing, or quilting, or making masks.

tiny-nine-patches

Last Supper

The Last Supper of Christ, by Jorge Coco

Happy Easter to everyone!

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!

Gridsters Blocks (January 2019) and Affinity software review

gridsters-250-buttonx

The Gridsters are starting on their third year, and it’s been a delight to discover the variety of styles and choices each member puts forward for us to make for them.  Carol was our Queen Bee for January, and she asked us for blocks designed by Kristina of Center Street Quilts.

gridster jan sewinggridster jan2019_1I chose Geometric Christmas Tree and Mod Tree, and mailed them off a few days ago.

sewing room_1

before

I still haven’t settled my sewing room yet after last fall’s room switchearound, but in the meantime, I’ve been trying to get everything off the floor and into some semblance of order.sewing room_2sewing room_3

My husband and I needed only two trips to IKEA to make this one work.sewing room_3a

We purchased a new light from Lowe’s Hardware that goes under the bookshelves, and boy, does it blast the lumens into the room.  I love it, and love that it is an LED which doesn’t give off much heat nor consume as much energy.  And I can see everything in my tiny sewing universe when I turn it on.sewing room_4

The ironing board gets set up in front, so the iron is parked on the right.  In the first bin on the top of the shelves, I put all those mini charm packs, and other random charm packs.  I don’t buy many precuts, and so they all fit in there.  The second shallower bin holds Featherweight Sewing Machine Stuff, as I purchased another Featherweight this fall when a neighbor cleaned out her mother’s storage unit and discovered that her mother had collected all these old sewing machines.  I’d also gone to a garage sale, where they had a box of feet and attachments; they appear to belong to the Featherweight, but I’m still researching.  One woman’s trash is another quilter’s treasure.

And I’m still trying to make the bins useful, so this will change as I work in here.  Right now the upper left holds stuff for Bee Happy, a quilt that my friend Leisa and I chose to do as a long-term project.  And as she says, “No deadlines.  If it takes us two years, so what!”

merrionsquare_1

Been working on this, both in cloth and in pattern.

Affinity Apps.png

I decided to try to upgrade my pattern-writing skills, unsatisfied with my Microsoft Word  approach.  I’d been using Affinity’s Photo and Designer software, which everyone knows is sort of a replacement for the Adobe Creative Suite.  I didn’t want to join in the subscription plan that Adobe wanted me to, so found the Affinity (all 20% now for Christmas–so that makes it around $40 for the Photo and other software in their store–quite a difference from the Adobe prices!).

Affinity Publisher Beta.png

This past fall, they released the free beta version of their Affinity Publisher, which I couldn’t wait to try.  They’ve had two upgrades since I started playing around with it, and each has improved the flow and workability of the app.  I can’t wait for it to be released in its final version.  I also tried to contribute to their Bug and Help forums, you know, to be a good brownie.  It wasn’t hard to come up with things to say, because I was working on patterns, but really, at this point, it’s almost ready for launch.

affinity pattern making nlm

I used screen shots from QuiltPro for the basis of my artwork, as they were perfectly sized, then modified them in Affinity Photo, then saved them as illustrations.  I opened Affinity Publisher Beta, watched all the training videos (taking notes) and dived in. I finished up one pattern earlier this week, did the pattern for my turn next month as Queen Bee for the Gridsters, and am still working on Northern Lights Medallion (NLM).  I’m sorry for the lateness in getting NLM out, but I’m learning as I go, and I wasn’t satisfied with how the templates laid out on the page (exported from QuiltPro) so it’s back to more learning, more Asking the Internet.  I’ll get there–thanks for your patience.

new software

 

 

 

 

Crazy Cushion Class

If you could scroll down for just a second and locate on the right blog sidebar where there is a link to a video titled Create. This was taken from a talk from one of the leaders of my church, and if you are not a religious type, then substitute in your version of God for what Elder Uchtdorf says.  I watch it everyone once in a while to remind me that what I do is more than stitching, or cutting up pretty cloth.  Being creative is my connection to — and a conduit for — the divine.

Crazy Cushion Class_6a

I had an inkling of the power of a lot of creative women, when I attended Becky McDaniel’s class for her Crazy Cushion pattern.  Yes, there was fatigue and frustration, but there was also a spirit of wanting to create (above, watching a demo).

Crazy Cushion Class_6b

My workspace.  I had a nice visit with the two quilters at my table, Sandie and Marie (absent), and was totally impressed with the women in the Nite Owl Guild.

Crazy Cushion Class_7

Becky was energetic, funny and taught some new skills: like working with a light table while paper piecing, and we all promptly handed over our cash to buy her cool flat light table, while stories swirled around about the light tables we had at home.

Crazy Cushion Class_8

Yeah, we weren’t in this room, but the ping-pong table was.  The class was held in the Senior Center for a nearby town and was a great place to have a workshop.  Below, Becky’s table of supplies.

Crazy Cushion Class_9Crazy Cushion Class_10

Even though I had all my sections pre-pieced, at this point I felt like I’d run a marathon, just getting that welting stitched in between the flying geese band and the cushion top/back.  The band includes a handle for carrying (seen serpentining in the photo above).

Crazy Cushion Class_10a

More than one use for those binding clips.

Crazy Cushion Class_11

Because of all my sewing beforehand, I was able to finish my cushion.  Above, the photo with Becky McDaniels.

Crazy Cushion Class_11aCrazy Cushion Class_11b

I posed my cushion with hers (the larger of each).  Mine measures 14″ x 2″ and hers is 16″ x 3.”  If you decided to take this class, do your homework beforehand, if you have done paper-piecing before, so you can have a finish, too.

Crazy Cushion Class_12

And then outside in their gardens, before leaving.

Crazy Cushion Class_12aCrazy Cushion Class_12c

Now I’ll have something to sit on when I go to workshops!

  • The pattern can be found on her website, along with more information.
  • Kaffe Fasset fabrics recently purchased at Blue Bird Quilt Shop, near me, including that cool stripe.
  • I use transluscent vellum paper by Neenan for my paper piecing because I can see through it and it rips off easily.  I purchased a ream about 10 years ago from Kelly Paper, and it cost way more than I wanted, but hey–10 years use?  Not bad.

Annularity

Annularity_May 2018LabeledAnnularity
Quilt #203
Began October 2017 • Completed May 2018

Annularity_3DetailAnnularity_1DetailAnnularity_2Detail

I use Magnifico thread as it has a nice sheen without being shiny, and it lays down a lovely line of stitching.  In the bobbin is So Fine thread (both by Superior Threads).

Annularity_6a

I made a duplicate of  Annularity II — which was a quilt I designed and made for Paintbrush Studios (which hung at QuiltCon, and most recently, Quilt Market) — because I thought the first version had been lost in the mail en route to the quilter. It hadn’t, and now I had my own top.

Then I decided to quilt my own, trying out different ideas as explained in an earlier post. But thanks to my quilt holder Dave, I can now reveal the fully quilted version to the world, as well as deliver some great news about this quilt.

Recently I’d been talking with Rick and Dot Kimmelman of Pineapple Fabrics about this quilt, hoping they’d want to use it for their booth, as they carry the full line of Painter’s Palette Fabrics. In between Point A and Point B of our discussions, they purchased Keepsake Quilting, which made many of us in the QuiltWorld very happy.  And so, beginning this summer, Keepsake Quilting and Pineapple Fabrics will be the exclusive sellers of my Annularity pattern.   Both Keepsake and Pineapple will also have kits available that include all the fabrics for the top and binding.  (You can check Pineapple Fabrics.com to purchase within the next month, and see Keepsake Quilting’s Fall catalogue, due out the second week of August.  You can bet I’ll put something up on here when I first lay eyes on my quilt in their catalogue!)

Annularity_4Back_fixedThe wild and crazy back.  It’s “prairie house” from the De Leon Design Group, for Alexander Henry Fabrics.  I thought it might disguise any oopsies, but I was happy to note that I actually had very few.  I guess maybe after ten years I’m getting better at the quilting?  Much credit belongs to the Sweet Sixteen machine I use, and the threads, which always seem to balance so well.Annularity_4bBackScrap

After one quilting session, when I turned it over to check the back, I noticed I had quilted in this wedge-shaped scrap onto the back.  I started to try and cut it out, then decided I kind of liked this nod to the process, so left it in.  Really, you can’t see it, when looking at the overall back. (Well, NOW you do, but you didn’t at first, right?)

Annularity_6Annularity_4cLabel

So, thanks for being my cheering squad, motivating me to finish up my quilt.  And I hope you enjoy making yours!