Quilts

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!

Quilts

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!

Quilts

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.

Finished.

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!

Quilts

Sun and Sea • New Pattern

How long do you keep owing someone a favor? Do you give up after a month? A year?
About FIVE years ago, Michael contacted me for a pattern for one of my quilts: an older one called Sun, Falling Into Sea.

He didn’t say exactly what he liked about it, but he wanted a pattern for this quilt just as it was. I am not completely flakey: I had sent him the blocks for the center, but last month he contacted me (such patience!) again asking for the pattern. Those of you who know me long-term won’t even blink when I say, well, I should do a couple more different versions. First up is Happy Valley.

Happy Valley, with its limited spectrum of colors and a black background, is named for the place where I grew up. We all called it Happy Valley because it seemed like nothing wrong could ever happen. Or if it did, we’d deny it to our death.

I recently visited my childhood home, and that name was just floating around in my head, as I drafted the pattern in the car the long way home from that place. Ignore the red garage with the antlers. When I lived there, the garage was a falling-down thing in the back. My bedroom was one of those two upper story bedroom windows; there were seven children and we traded around a lot. We were the furthermost house up the hill, with those glorious mountains behind us. I could go on and on about my little childhood stories, but we’ll leave it here.

For this quilt, I dipped my toe into Reels on Instagram and had fun making this little movie. (Sound on!) It’s also on my feed a couple shots back, if you would rather see it that way.

This coloration is called Summer Snowcone, because — of course — with its red, white, navy and sky blue it just says summer fun. I added a different kind of border around this one, and you can make this as large (add more blocks and more border blocks) or small as you want to. I chose this size to be a little table cover for us this summer.

I posted this pattern up on my PayHip site, and within minutes the ever-patient Michael had purchased and downloaded it. I hope it works out for him, and that it was worth the wait. Those of you with sharp eyes may have noticed I set up a little discount for anything in my shop, with the launch of this pattern. Use this code to get 15% off:

I did put this up on my Index of Quilts, but it’s kind of cheating, I say, if its not quilted. Well, it will have to be a place holder until I do get it quilted. And that’s another reason to celebrate: Happy Valley appropriately puts me at the significant milestone of 250 quilts. Summer Snowcone is coming in at #251. Cheating, yes, but I couldn’t resist!

Here’s to your Happy Valley, and to the first Summer Snowcone. But let’s do a giveaway or two, too!

UPDATE: GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED!

The first giveaway is a free Sun and Sea pattern from my pattern shop. If you are the winner, I’ll send you a coupon just for you to use to get your free downloadable pattern, plus, I will send you a gift card to Pineapple Fabrics, so you can pick up 1 1/2 yards of white Painter’s Palette Cotton Solids to help you get started on your Summer Snowcone quilt.

The second giveaway is a free Sun and Sea pattern from my pattern shop. If you are the winner, I’ll send you a coupon just for you to use to get your free downloadable pattern, plus, I will send you a gift card to Pineapple Fabrics, so you can pick up 1 1/2 yards of black Painter’s Palette Cotton Solids to help you get started on your Happy Valley quilt.

(If you head to my pattern shop to the Sun and Sea Pattern, you can click in the upper righthand corner to download a Preview file that gives an overview of the three different flavors of Sun and Sea quilts, plus yardage requirements.)

To enter: tell me your favorite memory from your childhood that involves summer. I love reading what you write, so enter to win!

(Happy Grandchildren)

Quilts

Build Me A House

I dream of houses.
I dream of houses with quilt blocks on their sides, or quilty houses I can make any size.
This started when I was asked to help beta test for BlockBase+ and began to see some possibilities of putting a block within a block. So I thought I would share how I did this. (News about the giveaway is at the end.)

Brackman ID 864

One way to export their images is by SVG, which means Scalable Vector Graphic. That means I can take this image and scale it (change the size) and everything will stay in proportion. I about fell over in happiness when I found out this was available in BlockBase+. That means I can take out lines, add lines, take out and add shapes, all using the basic image from BB+. So I did some of that.

Double X Brackman ID 1629a

So take one house, add a Double X (using the Brackman ID number to help you find it), and combine them:

Now I have a Shoo-Fly House.

Here’s my Ohio Star House.

Last is the Eight-Pointed Star House.

Combine them all and you have a house-warming gift for a friend or a small wallhanging for yourself (depending on what size you make your basic house and their blocks). If you don’t have a digital design program, change that section of the house by making your block, sashing it on top and fitting it into the space where the two front windows are.

I worked up what I call PatternLite that has all the info about this particular block merging: four snappy yellow-and-white blocks into blue houses.

It normally costs five bucks, but you can use the coupon below to get it for half-price. And inside is another discount coupon for any of the patterns in my shop. This PatternLite is nine pages of instruction and includes templates for the odd parts of the house, above, plus info on the four different smaller blocks.

Take this coupon and head over to PayHip, if you’d like to nab my Build Me a House PatternLite.

The last thing I want to show is how you can swap elements of one block for another.

Brackman ID 1740

I have been in love with this block forever, ever since way back in the day, a Flickr group did it for a Halloween online bee block.

But they have a straight stem and I see a curved stem in the BB+ version. This is no problemo, my quilty friend. Swap the stems!

Since both of these are based on a nine-patch block, I can just print the templates for 1740, then print just the stem patch for 1735 (by using the Preview, I can delete patches I don’t want to print), and then swap that part of the block.

If I wanted to just rotary cut them all, I could use this chart (which is the Rotary Cutting Chart of the Export Menu). It will tell you how many to cut of one size, if you change the “Calculations for:” above. However, it will not tell me how much fabric to buy or to pull. I hope that is coming in a future version!

Jennifer (jeifner on IG) was the winner of the giveaway. I typed/copied everyone’s names from Instagram as well as names from comments on the blog posts on this website. I used Google’s Random Number Generator to select the winner, so congratulations, Jenn!

Thank you very much to every one, for all your kind and interesting comments. I enjoyed reading them very much. I also want to say a thank you to The Electric Quilt Company for generously offering up a package of software for me to giveaway. I did ask them if they were having any discounts for people who might want to buy this software. Apparently they always have a site-wide sale over Memorial Day, if you are interested in purchasing this for yourself.

Happy Quilting, everyone!