This and That • April 2022

Yes, actually, I did have a March and I made these Gridster Bee blocks for Bren Moore. She had a hand-drawn sketch for us to use, and although I looked for it, couldn’t find the name of the original block. UPDATE: I think it is a variation of an album block, straightened up (the original album block is a diagonal block).

This one is Building Blocks, from Nancy Cabot, and if you switch the fabrics around and combine some–well, it’s the closest I could get. This is from Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Quilt Patterns, the digital version (BlockBase+).

Tulips were April’s block for Carlene Drake, and we started with the tutorial from Kristina of Center Street Quilts, but added side strips to make the block square.

My friend, Mary of Zippy Quilts, asked me for an interview as she occasionally features quilters on her blog. I was most happy to oblige and she did a lovely post about me and my quilts. Thank you, Mary! If you don’t know Mary’s work, she is inventive with her use of color and shape and is always coming up with an interesting quilt or two or ten to put up on her blog. She’s also a sewist, and teaches classes near her home.

Another thing that happened in April: I purchased Timna Tarr‘s Mosaic Class way back in the ice ages of April 2020, and finally got around to going through the course and watching the videos. It was very informative and I added that Quilt-to-Make to my list from the last post.

I had planned to use this picture, taken by my husband Dave, but now I don’t know if it’s too dense.

Right after I first published Dave’s photo of his flower (anyone know the name? Zinnia? Gerbera?), Angie contacted me asking if she could use the palette of the photograph to inspire a quilt she was making. She recently sent me the final top–it’s really stunning! I love that she’s worked in all the purple to help balance the pinks. I am also very happy that my husband’s photographs also inspired someone else. (I really like his recent post of poppies.)

The eryngium (left) and the roses are some beautiful things I’ve seen lately.

These three images, also titled Quilt Fail #1, #2 and #3 are not. I loved all the incredibly supportive and encouraging comments on Instagram, but when you know, you know. Even my husband (also incredibly supportive and encouraging) agreed that it wasn’t worth more of my time.

I did love experimenting with the technique developed by Dora Cary of Orange Dot Quilts. With her skills and experience this is a fascinating quilt. But I had chosen this:

I was thinking: Impressionism, Monet, girl with umbrella: WIN!


There are more than a few renditions of Monet’s woman with a parasol. I think I’d purchased one of the more hideous versions.

from here

Here’s the original from the Musee d’Orsay. The colors are more delicate, the arm in front doesn’t look sunburned and the arm in back is in shadow, not a purple glove. And it’s not printed digitally, which I think often has a more garish look, with stronger contrasts.

Lesson Learned.

One down (actually two, if you count the Bee Block). I will probably circle around back to this pattern (because I like it) but will take more time to look for the right fabric.

Don’t forget that Part Four of Heart’s Garden will post up on Easter Sunday. If you haven’t already downloaded the free version of Part Three, go and do so now before Part Four goes up.

Happy Quilting!


The Tale of the Chess Bag

It all began when summer weather came early, and summer weather always calls for a summer purse. The Chess Bag was a kit I picked up at Road to California from a booth run by By Hands, USA. I’ve purchased from them many times (I have yet to make the Totoro Bag I picked up in the Before Times, but is no longer sold).

The kit also appealed to me because they sewed up the hard part for me: all those teeny chess board squares. I thought the back looked as good as the front.

I quilted the chessboard squares to batting, but it was too floppy, so then I quilted the whole thing to ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable, which gave it more body. I did parallel lines, but had to raise the quilting shank because it was so thick.

I used some scraps from the kit and made two interior pockets. Can’t have a summer purse without pockets!

I love the silvery color of the background against the russets, deep greens and blues in these fabrics.

I couldn’t sew on the handles as neatly as she did, so appliquéd on some squares to cover up the mess.

The End!


Merry Christmas 2021

There’s a great line that’s been rattling around in my head lately: “You know, I believe we have two lives. The life we learn with and the life we live with after that.” It’s from a scene in The Natural, a movie which — on the surface — is about baseball.

Richard Rohr acknowledges those two parts of our lives: the first part is learning all the rules, figuring out how to pay attention, learn to earn a living, climbing the ladder of success. Of necessity, it’s oriented to self, getting those tasks of our young lives checked off the lists. I could make this into a quilt analogy, but not today.

But Rohr argues that it’s necessary to learn the rules — not in order to break them — but to move on from them and into the better part of life: opening your heart, taking care of others, trying to meet the needs of those around you, finding out what’s truly important. I’ve been thinking about this not only because of the pandemic for the last 22 months, and how all the rules were suddenly up-ended, but also because of the joy and peace I feel during the Christmas season.

These past months we have had more new rules to learn: social distancing, masks, carrying hand sanitizer wherever we go. We wear our masks to care for each other; we keep our distance to care for ourselves. We work hard to keep sympathies for those too frightened or too confident to get vaccinated. We weary ourselves with the juggling.

The second part of life then is about seeing bigger, from an expanded viewpoint, moving away from self and not seeing things are we are, but as the world is, and navigating that. He reminds us that “life is characterized much more by exception and disorder than by total or perfect order. Life is both loss and renewal, death and resurrection, chaos and healing at the same time; life seems to be a collision of opposites.” The challenge, then, is to make peace with all our opposites and our chaos, and focus in on renewal and healing. (And, of course, quilting.)

At Christmas time, it feels a bit easier, with carols playing and with children and the Christ child at the center. In this pocket of time, we can step all the way back from the rigid and chaotic and disordered life, light our candles and carol our way to peace.

Merry Christmas to you all!


Pieced Quilter Ladies: Twelve Ladies Dancing

Aren’t these fun?? Here are my Lady Quilter Blocks, wonky, funny, off-kilter. My early quilter-self would have been aghast, but I love them all. One more is coming. I love the differences, the similarities, and think about how these women will dance across this quilt. In addition to having my beemates make me a lady, I asked them for some sort of sewing-related item (with the exception of the topiary). Most all of these come from the BOM patterns from Surfside Quilters, from 2012-2013.

Surfside Quilters did a challenge with their BOM from that year, and the array of quilts was inspiring. Mine will be much bigger, and when I mentioned this online, Janis tagged me in a photo of her quilt. I have since heard from others–it seems that Freddy Moran (who inspired the pattern) has made a big impact on us all.

I chose a few few patterns to revise for my Gridster Bee quilters to use. I made a special page with all my ladies and their pattern, as well as all the other special blocks my beemates made for me and their patterns. You can find it here:

Pieced Quilter Ladies & Notions

In other news, I revised my Sunny Flowers Quilt pattern to include the pattern for making the center bouquet. The first version had nudged you towards using BlockBase+ software (which I still use constantly), but I always knew I should revise the pattern. The original was a beast to piece, so I revised how to put it together, adding and subtracting seams and pieces. If you have already purchased it, the revised download is available to you at no charge, and your download count will be revised (or so PayHip reassures me).

If you haven’t purchased this yet, PatternLite patterns cost less than any one of my almond croissants I had for breakfast last week when I was in Boston. We ate every morning at Tatte, and sometimes we grabbed a lunch there, too. Tatte Bakery, where have you been all my life and when are you publishing your cookbook?

Kraków Kabuki Waltz, by Virginia Jacobs

Why Boston? I’d read about the exhibit put on by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I’ve posted lots of photos on Instagram, if you are interested, but you also get our trip photos, too. Carol came into town and met us there–she also has some good posts. And Textile Talks had a show with the curator of the Fabric of a Nation exhibit, if you are interested.

Happy Frantically Getting Ready for Christmas, or whatever else is occupying you this week.
Maybe even Happy Quilting? I hope so!


thirty-two years • Quilt Finish

thirty-two years
quilt #257 • 34″ wide by 25″ high

Guild Challenge: Use the Churn Dash block, but make it “modernish.” Reams have been written, umpteem digital slides have been presented over what “modern-ish” means. I decided to just do what I want and roll from there.

This was first base: overlapping churn dash blocks with blocks in the corners. I’d already left home plate long ago (which would have been a single Churn Dash).

After I’d merged the two blocks, late one night (tired) I sat and studied it. The deep blue color was strong and I liked the aqua color and I really liked where they merged in the middle, retaining something of themselves, but blending by giving a little of their color to the other, making a new hue. Yep, I thought, reflecting on our recent thirty-second wedding anniversary, this little bit of a quilt is just like marriage.

So now how to get the numbers in script onto it? I’d done this once before, so I went at it again. That’s the beauty of all those art quilts I made; I was schooled in many techniques. I wrote it in my Pages (word processing) program, then scaled it up, and printed it out on freezer paper (I had to tape the paper to some card stock to get it through the printer). The most tedious part is cutting them all out; I left them joined by a small bridge of paper, knowing I could just quilt through it.

I pressed it well. Yes, I pinned the quilt together first, quilted the center, then added the letters.

I wondered what to do for the fill. This is why I take lots of photos of quilts at quilt shows (remember those?).

Liking this.


I decided to play around with this shape digitally:

I stacked them up, then mirrored two more to the side.

This could be fun. I wanted to really play with changing out the colors, but I was on to other things.

If you want to play with a snuggled-up Churn Dash Block duo, then click on the link below to download my rough guide (PDF):

Happy Quilting!

300 Quilts · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilts

Azulejos Pattern

There’s this interesting explanation in a Wrinkle in Time, or at least I remember it and hope it’s there, where the main character tries to help the children understand this concept of a shortcut in time, and she demonstrates it with a string and a crawling ant. Or maybe that’s not in the book at all, and I just remember if from somewhere, but at any rate, the point is that I’ve had a wrinkle in time with this quilt.

This photo was taken in January 2020 at the end of Road to California, where my quilt Azulejos hung in a special exhibit at Road to California. It was this one that recently prompted Catherine H, a reader, to get in touch with me asking for the pattern. I’d made several stabs at it, but now I really buckled down to writing. So there’s the shortcut — a bridging of time from January 2020 to July 2022 — a shortcut not unlike those found in novels with children (and where were their mothers??) and IKEA warehouses, where you are trying to get out of there and pay for all your impulse purchases, and yet you still have to go through chairs and desks and lighting and rugs…unless you can find the shortcut.

I had some other ideas about what this pattern could do though, so got busy and made this blue/yellow/aqua/sea/glints of sun wallhanging, calling it SeaDepths. I had fun making it in solids:

It’s still a flimsy, though. Looking forward to sandwiching it together and getting to the quilting.

This block was supposed to be another version of the pattern, done up in scrappy red-and-white, like this sketch shows:

But, alas, the sprained ankle/broken bone/cast-or-boot-or-what problem persisted, so instead of sewing up a storm at the machine (it’s a quick and easy pattern, with the cleverness in how you trim it up), I kept my foot up and edited photos of an earlier photo shoot of the first rendition of Azulejos, with photos taken near some of the old greenhouses and lab buildings for our university:

So, Catherine H, I’m finished!

I’ve already loaded it up on my PayHip pattern site, and it’s ready to go.

It has a basic set of instructions for the version of Azulejos above, as well as SeaDepths. I illustrate two other versions, one in Cheddar and Indigo, and the one you saw above in scrappy red/white. Or at least that’s how I evisioned it. So three sizes, three versions, two sizes of block templates and a wall-hanging. Not bad for one pattern, I’d say. A free downloadable Preview sheet on PayHip will give you the rundown.

The technical name for this shortcut between two different times is an Einstein-Rosen bridge, more colloquially known as a wormhole. Jody Foster, in her role as a scientist who hunted for “little green men” on a SETI project, famously traveled in one in the movie Contact, a film I can watch over and over again. Actually I have a whole collection of space movies, from the goofy one that got me through grad school, Galaxy Quest, to Interstellar.

Sometimes I have my own version of an Einstein-Rosen bridge when I un-earth an older project, abandoned for lack of time or interest (or both) and when I come back to it, I find it interesting or even something that juices up creative connections. When I first made Azulejos, I thought it was a one and done, as it was the shapes in the quilt that interested me. Then, taking it up two years later, I found my way to other variations and then to SeaDepths, whose colors I could get out of my mind. It was like there was a wormhole between those two variations.

I’m always surprised when a creative journey takes these kinds of twists and turns. It usually happens when I try to box something in, with a dismissive, “Oh, I know all about that,” with a sniff and a tilt of the head. To counter this attitude of immediately sizing something up prematurely, Xavier Encinas noted that “If there is something I’m learning over the years it is this: Take your time while setting up your ideas and take time to distance yourself from what you have done.” So maybe completing this pattern, finding the missing link to getting it done took some distance.

And maybe it just took some time.

Pattern available on PayHip.

Good luck with your wormholes and quilting this week!