Betsy’s Creation • Quilt Finish

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I found this 1920s vintage park with a grandstand in a small town just to the north of me and took my husband and my most recent finished quilt there, so we could do some photographing.  And some reminiscing.

Fleming Park

It’s a sweet little small-town-built-long-ago park that for some miracle has remained.  Named for an officer of the local cement company at the time, it’s known as the Thomas J. Fleming Memorial Park, built circa 1922-1925. Why is this important?

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I grew up in a small little town (not so little anymore), but it had that feeling of walking downtown on a hot summer’s evening, catching the fireworks on the 4th of July after seeing the parade that morning.  It had the feeling of being able to drop your school bag at the door, change in to your “play clothes,” and head over past the Muehlstein’s home to send this and that sailing down their irrigation canal until you knew it was time to go home for dinner.  (And did I mention that my childhood nickname was Betsy?)

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We’d walk up to Heber’s house and offer to find the eggs in his chicken coop for him.  He’d let us.  We would wind crepe paper in our bicycle spokes and all show up for a local parade.  This was also a place where I was smallminded at times, like when I teased Marlene in fourth grade over something dumb, and then used up all her Scotch tape.  It’s a place where others can also be mean, like when I got beat up by the Mitchell boy, and cried all the way home.  (Later my mother saw him on the road, rolled down her car window and gave him a talking-to like I’d never heard.)

This small town in America was my place, where I learned to behave myself so no neighborhood mother would ever have to lean out her car window and give me a scolding.  And how I wish I could go back in time and find Marlene and tell her how sorry I am.  It was a place to be small, to grow up, and to leave behind.

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But I catch glimpses of it when I think of it as a land of red, white and blue, where we love flags and fireworks and the Fourth of July.  It’s a land of learning to get along with your neighbor because you never know when that person with the different name would give you a lifetime memory.  Like when I needed to learn to ride a bike and Joan Muehlstein gripped the back of the seat, ran alongside me, and hollered, “Turn towards the wobble!”

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It’s mountains and vast plains, it’s small towns and big cities.  And America is where I like to be the most, even though now I’ve traveled and love Berlin and Bologna and other different places with wonderful people who’ve gone themselves through nice and mean, dark and light, thick and thin.  It’s when I return from far away and see that flag on the  wall at the airport with a sign that says “Welcome to the United States,” well, I get a misty-eyed, just like in those movies from the 1940s.

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It’s my home, this America.  And to me, it’s a pretty great place.

American Flag

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Betsy’s Creation • Quilt #225
Pieced by Elizabeth Eastmond • Quilted by Cathy Kreter
72″ wide x 86″ tall

Quilt began on Flag Day: June 14, 2019
Finished August 20, 2019
More info and a free worksheet for making this quilt can be found here.  I also made a companion smaller flag:

Flag for the Fourth_AFlag for the Fourth_B

Inland Empire Quilters Quild

EPP Workshop.jpgInland Empire Workshop Group

The classroom behind me was abuzz as I set up my Shine quilt on its frame.  I turned around to see that the room had filled up with women from the Inland Empire Quilters Guild, who had come to take my class on English Paper-Piecing (EPP).  I have many Guild visits coming in the next year, but only one group has chosen EPP.  So I challenged myself to come up with something unusual and interesting that would provide a chance for them to learn a variety of skills.

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IQSC Collection: Clyde E. and Joan B. Shorey Collection IQSC Object Number: 2006.056.0012

First I gave them a brief history of EPP, showing them quilt pictures from the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, NE.

EPP Picture 1

International Quilt Study Center, 2006.043.0143, Ardis and Robert James Collection

The International Quilt Museum calls these types of quilts “mosaic” patchwork quilts, and they write: “The earliest examples of mosaic patchwork, from 1700s England, were typically made from lighter-colored silks. Later, during the third quarter of the 1800s, dark-colored silks predominated. Their availability, and the paper-piecing technique, spread widely throughout the United States.”

The three tasks I designed for the Inland Empire Quilters were:

  • baste fabric to hexies and then sew them together
  • learn how to work with paper EPP patterns (batch-cutting, glueing and sewing)
  • work with color and value in creating Spectrum, a circular mini quilt

EPP Workshop_0 hexies

Sue worked diligently on her hexie flower, finishing it up.  Most others shifted off to the mini-mini quilt: a Kansas Sunflower variation, shown at the top of this post.

I was impressed with their designs and the variety of colors they used.

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After lunch, we shifted full gear into working on Spectrum, with collections of Kaffe Fasset fabrics being displayed on tables everywhere.  I was most impressed with the generosity of these women, who shared different colors with each other, helping their fellow quilters get all the hues they needed.

At the end of class, Carol went down to the car and brought up this old EPP quilt, with the papers still in it.  We pulled out a few stitches, removed a few papers and decided it was from the 1930s as the papers were really postcards from a Chicago hotel.  What tales this quilt could tell!

Inland Empire Quilt Guild Meeting_2Monday night, I returned to present a program for them, and at the beginning, those who had made progress on their projects held them up for everyone to see.

I snapped photos of some who came up to show me (including Vicki and Terri).  That’s Cynna’s Spectrum color wheel taking shape, above left, and Paula’s Kansas Sunflower (variation) and small hexie quilt below left.  I was very impressed with everyone’s work.

Susan, the Program Chair, was busy at her table, but she and others had worked hard to show their projects for the meeting.  She has arranged a visit by Edyta Sitar next year and was busy taking sign-ups for that workshop to be held in March.  Program Chairs are critical to a Guild’s success, and this Guild has a wide array of interesting presentations for their members.  They also have engaged chairs for Charity, Outreach, and other, but most of those are discussed at their other meeting (they have two per month).  This month was also the kick-off for their Block of the Month, which looks really fun.

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One of the best sounds ever is the cheery voice of quilters greeting each other, which you can hear in this video.  I had a wonderful time visiting the Inland Empire Quilters Guild.  Thank you for inviting me!

Pass Patchers Quilt Guild

PP Workshop Group

I’m leading off this post about my visit to the Pass Patchers Quilt Guild, with a look at the friendly faces and bright smiles of the talented quilters who were at the workshop today.  I arrived early, but Pam, the Workshop coordinator had beat me there, bringing in irons, cords, lunch, treats, fruit trays, vegetable trays and drinks to keep us supplied while we worked.  But first, let me back up to yesterday morning:PassPatchers_2

Because their regular place in Beaumont was under some renovation, we met in the neighboring town of Yucaipa, but really it was almost to Calimesa, out in the foothills.  After setting up, the stage looked like the photo above.

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I turned the camera outward to show the room where all the Guild Chairmen had set up tables for Workshops, Grab-n-Go, Charity, Membership, among other things.  This is a busy guild, drawing members from the San Gorgonio Pass area, about ninety miles east of Los Angeles.  I was honored to come and speak with them on Wednesday morning.

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I usually bring some stitching when I go to my own Guild meetings, so I was happy to see that Harriet brought her knitting–a woman after my own heart.

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One interesting feature of the meetings is the Historian, who looks up details from history.  This month was Mr. Lincoln and his wife, and the quilts and blocks inspired by this couple.  The Historian, Vivian, even made up a block called Lincoln’s Hat, shown here in red, cream and navy on top of the quilt.

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I took one of the Guild members home after the meeting, and near her house was this colorful fence.  I don’t know how she felt about it, but it was fun seeing these cool colors — a reminder to look for quilt inspiration wherever you are.

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The next morning (Thursday) was the Merrion Square Workshop.  Susan cut out 96 different doors and 96 different houses, and we had a great conversation about recognizing about when fabrics have a conversation with each other, or when it’s time to let them clash a bit, to bring up a strong contrast.

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Amyre took the pattern and designed her own version, just begining (above). I’m impressed how she is making the Merrion Square pattern her own.

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We laid out houses and doors and centers whenever a quilter would get to this stage (this is Sandie’s, but there were others).

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I thought this was clever how Lynette tacked up her first sample on the padded chair across from her, like a mini-design wall.  She also took the pattern and made some changes; it’s fun when a design can inspire others to create.

I made the all workshop members promise to send me photos of their finished quilts; I look forward to seeing them come together.  It was a great day and great fun to spend time with these women of Pass Patchers Guild.  Thank you for inviting me!

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.

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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!

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.

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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

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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.

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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.