My Small World 2019, sections 1 and 2 finished

Cartoon_playwith the puppy

In my Instagram search box, sometimes the bots throw interesting things up there for me to see — like this cartoon of the sad, then very happy dog, courtesy of a little tender care from a young child.  Coming into the year 2019, I had three quilts who were like the dog in the first frame of the cartoon: miserable, the quilts quite possibly headed for the dustbin to be put out their misery.  But like the young child who was “on it,” the first (Plitvice) has been completed, the second (Sing for Joy) is finished and awaiting photography and a blog post.  The third…well, here’s the first frame photo of it, when I left it several years ago:

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First, a detour.

Intrigued by what qualities would most accurately predict outstanding achievement, Harvard researcher Angela Duckworth isolated two qualities:

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So what does it take for a quilter to look at a seemingly failed project, and decide to figure out how to redeem it, to re-work it, to finish it up.  Sometimes I don’t have a clue why we finish some quilts.  I’ve seen a lot that might have better been abandoned, mine own included.  But perhaps the idea of “grit,” which Duckworth articulated so well in her TED talk, might have something to do with it.  For what we do in our workrooms is somewhat about thread and cloth, but other times, it’s a microcosm of the world outside our sewing room doors.  Okay, back to gritting my teeth and tearing apart a half-built, unhappy quilt.

Moving On...Part I

The first step is to balance the value of the buildings.  If you see the first example, they are all about the same value (light-to-dark) grey fabric, even though they are different prints.  And too many different windows!!  In the new version, I used the same fabric for the bulk of my windows (excepting the “apartment” on the lower left), cutting from different places in the fabric to get a different look.  I’m much happier with this.

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I found some pictures of Small Worlds I liked on the web and on Instagram, and pinned them up in the corner for inspiration, as I worked through the next section.  I took apart my existing under-the-building-shapes and re-used some of them, yet adding others.  I also moved around the shapes to suit what I liked, deviating from the Jenn Kingwell pattern.

mysmallworld2019_5 DUOThen there was this choice: in the lower left, which little large-door shed should it be?

UPDATE: I should also note that I find the My Small World Templates from Sarah Bailey to very helpful.  If you head to Sew What Sherlock? you’ll find instructions on how to obtain them.  I printed them out on my favorite vellum paper, but also printed them on cardstock, for tracing in some sections. 

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Finally I declared it finished, posted it up on IG to check in with the organizers of the My Small World.  I passed.

Moving On...Part II

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The before of Section Two.  Ugh.  Too much of everything.  It’s like I opened the doors to my cupboard and tried to put one of every color, every value and every fabric in this thing.

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Auditioning–trying to keep it to a limited palette of colors, trying to repeat fabrics or mimic them in other sections, all the while listening to this:

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I’m learning a lot about grit from the four presidents discussed in her latest book.

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The little record was from a Polaroid swap some time ago: I took apart the Polaroid block and inserted it.

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I wanted the Art Gallery Maker fabric in this section, but it was too blah next to the pinwheel underneath.  So I bordered it with a bit of blue.mysmallworld2019_8

Section Two: Finished!

I sewed the two sections together, and am now back where I started long ago.  But I like it much better.  I really like the small pinwheels section, the same print in different colors (from a purchased charm square pack) used with the same background print.  I studied many peoples’ Small Worlds to see how they were harmonizing, and where it was okay to throw a ton of stuff at the quilt to see if it stuck.  The hashtags #mysmallworldsewcial and #mysmallworld have been really helpful.  (The first one is the current one; the second from long ago.)  And the two leaders, Nicola and Paula have been great, too: it’s always fun to see their comments on my posts, encouraging me on.

Gridster October 2019

As my buddy Linda noted, once you get going on Small World, it’s hard to do anything else, but I did get my Gridster block made for Lisa and sent off.  She’d met Jenn Kingwell (there seems to be a theme, here) and Jenn had given her permission to send patterns out for our group make Steampunk blocks, for her turn at Queen Bee of the Gridsters. Lisa also sent us some of Jenn’s fabric, asking us to go wild.

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Here’s the first batch of blocks to reach her.  They do play well together.

Lastly, I had a nice time visiting the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild.

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Simone (on left), helped me set up.  This is before it started.

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Some scenes of the Guild Meeting.  They are a small (50 person) guild, but have such lovely people.

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I’m headed here this week with Leisa–can’t wait!

Hope your small worlds are harmonizing, your colors singing together, and that your sewing places are fun and cozy places to be!

This and That • September 2019

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Free Motion Quilting can be one of the main challenges we quilters face after we’ve gotten down the basics of piecing and other construction methods.  Now we want to stitch and shape and sculpt our quilts with thread.  This coming Saturday, September 14th, I’ll be teaching a Free-Motion Quilting workshop in Antelope Valley, and if you are nearby, come on down (up?).  You can find out more at their Quilt Guild Meeting, held Thursday evening, where I’ll present a show titled “An Undercover Traditional Modern Art Quilter.”  I’m bringing two suitcases of quilts, some stories and a sense of humor.  Hope to see you there!

Gridsters Sept 2019 Simone.jpg

Simone drew up another one of her fabulous blocks for us in the Gridsters Bee, and I got busy and did six of them.  I just kept wanting to try out different combinations.  More info (and a free download) of this block is available on her website.

Book 15 Gamache

I started a new Inspector Gamache book, #15.  Halfway in, and I can’t wait to get back to listening.

AustinTX_1BBQ

Over Labor Day weekend, we went to Austin, TX (common abbreviation, I found out, is ATX) to see my son and his family.  Here we are outside Coopers BBQ, where I’m going when I go to QuiltCon in February (well, both places: the BBQ, which is right downtown, and also to see the grandsons).

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I always learn something new when visiting the youngsters: did you know you could charge up your shoes, and when you are at a dance, they will glow different colors?

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When the boys went back to school and their parents went back to their regularly scheduled lives, we did touristing at the State Capitol Building.

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Then up to the University of Texas at Austin, where I visited someting I’d been wanting to see for a very long time: Austin, by Ellsworth Kelley.  Kelley gave the design for this chapel-like space to the Blanton Museum, which had it built.  It’s just over 2700 square feet, so not huge.

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But inside…

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We went in the morning, and then back again after lunch and a walk through the next door Blanton Museum.  I want to come here again, in February, when they say the light comes in the grid over the front door.  Hope it’s not cloudy at QuiltCon!

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Another Ellsworth Kelly.  We call this Couple Self-Portrait in Kelly’s B.  Occasionally if you spend too much time in museums you can get a bit goofy.  We also went to the LBJ Presidential Library after all this.

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But this — a dance of color and light — is what makes my quilty heart sing!

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.

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!

Wonky Hearts Aflutter

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How do I make nearly 60 wonky, improv-y hearts and not go crazy? Now there’s a challenge.

Wonky Heart Illustration

I started here, with a rough pattern of how big I wanted my “improv” wonky heart to be. The free PDF file is available for download.  It finishes roughly at 5 1/2″ wide by 7 1/2″ tall.

Click here: Unfussy Wonky Heart

Wonky Hearts_2

I started with the heart pieces. I layered up seven pieces of different pink and red fabrics, pinned on the heart pieces and placing my ruler along their outer edge, I cut around them with a rotary cutter: it wouldn’t really matter if I was hyper-accurate…close enough would do.  I repeated this nine times.

Wonky Hearts_2a

Then I did the same thing with the background pieces, but was careful with my directional fabrics: I kept the pieces oriented as they would sew into the heart block.

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Everything’s stacked up.

Word Quilt in Process

These photos were taken over two weeks’ time, as I tried to fit all the words together. Words were made in The Spelling Bee, from 2016.

I shuffled the fabrics so no two fabrics would be together, and made a sample heart (at the top of the post). I pinned it next to the quilt of words I’d been working on, closed up the machine, turned off the iron, and enjoyed the sunset:

Sunset July 2019

Word Quilt Mock-up

When I woke up in the morning, I decided to try a digital mock-up of the quilt with the hearts as a border, as I wondered if the hearts were too big.  I sent the photo to my two of my quilting buddies and they gave me two thumbs’ up.  I’ll probably try to sneak in a narrow red/pink border between the quilt center and the outer border of hearts.

 

I’ve become braver about being wonky and improv-like, skewing seams, overlapping, cutting off points, generally going at it easy, instead of pristine.

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I have a few more hearts, now, and while the widths vary from 5 1/4″ to 5 1/2″ (I just trim them where it feels right), I’m forcing them to 7 1/2″ tall (that’s before seaming).  Because I am tired of cutting off the points, I’ll now be cutting about 1/2″ off the bottom heart section before I seam it to the top part.

This is one of two long-term UFOs that haunt me in my dreams.  The other one is Small World, which I keep in parts in a basket in my shelves.  I do have hopes on finishing that one, too.  I signed up for a Jen Kingwell class at Road to California in January; I suppose one goal would be to have it finished so she could sign it?  Right.

July Gridsters Block 2019

In other sewing news, I finished July’s Gridster Bee blocks for my beemate Linda and sent them off.

 

And I’m trying this new type of tomato, developed for scorching temperatures.  This year we were almost chilly and foggy until June, then the temps shot up high.  I haven’t had good luck with my garden in three years, after a stunning first year of beginner’s luck.  But hope is a thing with feathers, said Emily Dickensen, or my case, tomatoes.

 

I’ve also started quilting City Streets, a quilt of my own design.

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I’d picked up this Magnifico-cousin (same type of thread) when I visited Superior Threads last time.  It’s color 101, and it looks like a gold thread, but isn’t a metallic thread:

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I hope I don’t run out before I finish this quilt.

Random Quilter

Finally, in my discussion about how the internet irritated me, I read a ton of blogs, some of which I can’t quite remember.  But I did take a screen shot of this gem, a featured quilter on a truly dedicated quilter’s blog. (Given what he says about his favorite fabric color, I don’t think he would like my gold thread.)  However, I leave you with the hope that you, too, have started quilting several times, as well as the ability to make the quilts in your head.

 

 

Happy July 2019 • This and That!

Teeny Tiny Flag Quilt_3

In this episode of This-and-That posts, I wanted to lead off with a little freebie for your Fourth of July: the instructions for a Teeny Tiny Flag quilt.  You can whip this up quickly, and it slips over a dimestore 4″ x 6″ acrylic frame.  I made one recently for a friend in the hospital: no flowers or balloons were allowed.  This brought some cheer to her stay as she loves red, white and blue.

Teeny Tiny Flag Quilt Illustration

I thought you might like the how-to’s, so download the PDF file (please re-download this new file–earlier this morning, there was a glitch):

Teeny Tiny Flag Quilt

I finished it off with some cute buttons.  For more Tiny quilts (and Teeny-Tiny quilts), visit the Tiny Quilts tab, above.

Sunday Best

Here’s a new favorite book of mine, Sunday Best Quilts, by Sherri L. McConnell and Corey Yoder.  Sherri and I have been friends for a while ever since we shared English assignments for the classes we were teaching, at two different community colleges in two different states.  I also appreciate her wonderful quilt designs, and have enjoyed her fabric lines (favorites are Bright Sun, Creekside and Front Porch).

I expect certain things out of books these days.  I’ve stopped buying everything that’s new as I was pretty burned out with what I call “vanity” books — a famous quilter gets a book and really, it was nothing new under the sun.  So now I am pretty selective about what I’ll add to my quilt library.  The book has to have 1) a new way of looking at familiar quilts, 2) a thorough (but not mansplained) direction section, and 3) great photographs, plus 4) the writing has to be pristine and readable, no small feat.

This book fulfills all four of those criteria. If you are looking for a new book to add, I can recommend this one.

Scissors and Negative People

Truth.

Guild Rummage Sale_3

So our Guild had a rummage sale this month, well, really it was a Clean-Out-The-President’s-Sewing-Room/Garage sale.  Evidently people had been bringing her stuff for many years; husbands would call when their wives had moved to Assisted Living, and leftovers from classes all just sort of congregated in her garage.  Time for it all to go.

Guild Rummage Sale_2

I am always fascinated by what quilters used to do Back in the Day.  Like these vests.  Did we really a) have haircuts like that, and b) dress like this?

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Another binder had templates with lots of code numbers on them, and then these illustrations.  I loved “Home Grown” #8, and think it would make a great block in a quilt.  No, I didn’t bring that one home.

Guild Rummage Sale_1

But I felt like I scored with this box of “vintage” magazines (really, they are just 20-30 years old–how is that vintage?).  I’d bought a few things here and there, stuffing my dollars in the Rummage Sale Jar, but at the end of the night, when so much was left, she said, “Take it all away!” So we did.

Ladybird Prep_2

I wanted to post some construction images from Ladybird, the quilt from the last post. At this point I was thinking: what am I doing? This was the quilting after the first day. I threw it on the spare bed and left it there for two days.

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Better.

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In the end, I was pretty happy with it, finding lots of ways to be creative with mostly straight lines.

SAVE ME THE PLUMS -- cover

Finished this book.  I loved it and I’m not a New Yorker.

I had wanted to leave you with my larger flag quilt, all quilted and bound, but it didn’t happen.  So Happy Fourth of July, with a quilt top:

BetsysCreation_4thJuly

Long may it wave! (click to see it in action)