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.

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!

City Streets • Quilt Finish

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Recently my husband and I took my latest quilt, City Streets, out to a small branch library in our town for some photos.  It was a deserted Sunday afternoon, perfect for us to find interesting shadows and backdrops.

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City Streets, 2019
Quilt No. 224, 47″ square

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I made this with a fat quarter stack of Vanessa Christensen’s ombre confetti dots: I wanted to see if it was possible for me to work with one line of fabric.  I almost made it, but pulled in some white grunge and a solid to offset the colorful squares.  I quilted it on my Handquilter Sweet 16 using Art Studio Color 101, which looks like gold, but it’s not a metallic thread.  I did the background using So Fine color 401, which is a white, but not stark white hue.  I only mention these details because our last guild meeting had a speaker who emphasized this point: we should tell people what thread  and fabric we quilt with.

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The back, and the label:

City Streets_labelGinza Scramble

Maybe my original design was inspired by this scramble intersection in the Ginza area of Tokyo, or by this view of Tokyo from the Government Building (below)?

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Thanks to my ever-supportive husband for holding quilts, and helping find great locations for photography. Pattern coming soon.

Mending

I’ve had mending on my mind and wanted to write about all forms of mending, but hadn’t been able to find a way in until I saw this:

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“The Opposite of Hate is Mending,” by Kate Sekules

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I’m a long-time mender.  I recently fixed a favorite purse for my mother, replacing the torn pocket with some vivid yellow lining.  I stitched up a few other ripped places, re-glued the lining into the frame and sent it back to her; she was pleased as punch to have her little purse back in working order.

ChristAdulteress_0I always look for handsewing in pieces of art, and found it in this image by David Habben, in a recent art exhibit in Salt Lake City.  It depicts Jesus and the adulteress with her angry mob of accusers.  The clenched fists with rocks, the tortured shapes, and the vile expressions in the background convey the tension in this well-known scene.

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In the foreground, Christ kneels and writes on the ground, this thread looping around his other hand.  This puzzled me, as I knew it wasn’t in the original story.

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I found gold stitching in areas of the woman’s veil, clues to my small mystery.  My sister, viewing this with me, provided the connection: calmly drawing in the dust with his finger, the accusers slinking away after his measured rejoinder, Christ was mending.  The accused woman may have stitched her clothing, but now He would mend her soul.

A mended surface can carry a scar.  In the case of boro, or of artful kintsugi, we appreciate the addition.  But more often that not, we humans don’t want imperfections, or wrinkles, or sadness, death, old age, or any evidence of a rent place.  We want happy.  We want life to go on with daisies and sunshine and lollipops: no fights or bad diagnoses or mistakes that reverberate for generations.

For years I’ve taken comfort in Eugene O’Neill’s line: “Man is born broken.  He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.”  Are we broken? Certainly we only have to the watch unbelievable tragedies of this past weekend trickle in a headline at a time on our screens, to know that broken and torn places are piling up somewhere in a onslaught of rage.  I turned away from the yet-again, awful headlines, not knowing what to do.

I take comfort in O’Neill’s wisdom, and Christ’s golden thread.   Rather than join the fury, I can fix a torn pocket, a broken heart, work through a quarrel, listen to someone who is trying to heal a shattered life. Whether at the epicenter of the current bad news or in our own homes, we can do our part to draw together the gaping edges, mending them with careful, even stitches.

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

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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